A Love Letter To The Mylar Bag

I get stoked every time I see a discarded weed bag on the sidewalk.

Okay yeah, litter is a bummer and the bags themselves aren’t great for the environment, but I can’t help it. Every time I walk past a mylar bag lying on the street I stop to check it out, kicking it around and flipping it over against the cracks in the sidewalk until I can see the art, the strain name, the branding, and every word of text. As cannabis and the cannabis community mesh further into the fabric of American life, the mylar bag has quickly become the artistic bellwether for the industry, pushing creativity, trends, and creating a lasting record of the culture akin to skateboard graphics, album covers, craft beer labels and countless other visual staples of counterculture scenes.

Existing both in concert and completely separate from the weed inside, graphic bags have hit all the early hallmarks of subculture evolution, creating a design language that extends past the cannabis community into its own distinct style of art complete with moral panic, bootleggers and copycats, regional intricacies, and iconic standouts. 

The intersection of commerce and counterculture is always contentious, no matter how niche, and while the artistic merits of each particular bag are certainly up to personal interpretation, it is already clear that graphic bags have reshaped the world of weed at damn near every level.

Evolving from RX labels scribbled with a strain name and stuck to black, silver, or plastic windowed bags in California’s pre-recreational medical market, as soon as cannabis sellers turned into cannabis companies the open space on the front of every bag became a billboard for branding and expression, setting strains and sellers apart on dispensary shelves and black market menus. 

Fueled by an influx of legalization laws, increased competition amongst distributors, a flood of flower, and tons of custom print shops and pre-printed bags a Google search away, graphic bags grew from the domain of top-shelf brands and exclusive suppliers to a ubiquitous facet of the regulated and unregulated markets. In 2020, with pack prices high, traditional businesses on hold, hustlers and smokers flush with extra pandemic unemployment funds put the bag game into overdrive, turning branded bud into a status symbol, with dye-cut shapes, holographic printing, and wilder subject matter – the more outlandish the bag, the more clout on social media, the faster it flies out of dispensaries and backpacks alike. 

Just like limited-edition Nikes and Supreme t-shirts, the exclusive aesthetics were immediately bootlegged, with overseas printers churning out cheap knockoffs of every popular brand and bag under the sun, turning downtown L.A. into Canal Street for trappers, with blocks of storefronts dedicated to fake packaging. It might piss off brand owners, but for the culture as a whole the bootleg obsession is a mark of legitimacy to be proud of. 

Outside the culture, cannabis bag art has become a convenient boogyman for prohibitionists, who argue that cartoon characters and bubble letters appeal to kids. Disregarding decades of rated R (or worse) animation holding a significant place in pop culture, a number of legal markets have sided with the prohibitionists on the limits of adult artistic expression, strictly restricting bag designs.

But if the past is any indicator, loud, newsworthy, and eventually unsuccessful protests against rap, metal, controversial movies back to Elvis’ hip shaking and countless other moral outrages aimed at saving kids from deviant art, the long-term odds are in our favor. Besides, you can’t ban cartoon art or bubble letters on the black market, no matter how sick of red eye Rick & Morty we all are.

Like the culture’s cousins in skateboarding, graffiti, and streetwear, the design language that dominates bag art from seshes to sidewalks is highly referential, drenched in parody, nostalgic, psychedelic, obsessed with local flavor, global ambitions, and luxury aspirations. 

Be it licensed collaborations with superstar athletes like Cookies’ Gary Payton and 33 by Backpack Boyz, a very unofficial dye-cut Supreme Air Force One sneaker by Shiest Bubz and The Smoker’s Club, a genre-defining run by Jokes Up culminating in the, um, unique, Coochie Runtz bag, hyper-local creations like Chopped Cheese by Buddy’s Bodega, all the way to dime bags printed with hastily photoshopped collages of The Joker, graphic bags are an amalgamation of every corner of cannabis culture, highbrow to lowbrow, political to patronizing, original to bootleg, calligraphy to cartoon and everywhere in between. At the end of the day, seeing a graphic weed bag on the sidewalk – an unavoidable happenstance walking through any American city these days – is saying the same thing – weed is here, weed is everywhere, and you’re gonna see it. 

Because bags can be designed and produced so quickly, mylar art is constantly rotating and reacting at the pace of our collective attention span, with print houses like Sticker Farmer dropping new bags memorializing every Academy Awards slap, viral challenge, and athlete, celebrity, or politician to be “turned into a pack,” all dropping days if not hours after the event itself. 

The evolution of bag graphics is still in its early stages, and if cannabis giants, small brands, and local trappers continue to put significant creative effort and funding into creating the next bag to set their strains apart, go viral on IG stories, and sell out on menus, weed bags are going to continue to solidify a place in the pantheon of modern art. 

I have high hopes, but for the medium to really stick, it is time to start giving respect to the artists and graphic designers behind the bags. Brands, start tagging the artists more frequently on posts, put a signature on the back of the bag, sponsor and host art shows. Smokers, if you like a bag seek out the artist, give them a follow on IG and see if they have any pieces for sale – anything you can do to continue pushing their art as a core facet of the industry and culture. 

The possibilities for bag art are endless going forward and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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A Year Being Weird, and Where We Go From Here

Damn, can y’all believe we’ve been doing this WEIRDOS thing for a year already? It seems like just yesterday I was writing the introduction, and trying to convince my superiors that calling this new section ‘WEIRDOS’ made sense, inspired by an earlier, random submission I received that I wanted to create more space for.

Today we’ve generated over 1 million impressions to this section alone, and created a social coefficient that’s hard to measure. The conversations that have been generated around these topics were the goal of this initiative, and as more of you keep talking about these issues, the entire industry benefits from our collective understanding. That said, I didn’t expect as many of you to respond as quickly as you did, and it’s been a joy to keep all these conversations going with you all in real life, and on our social platforms.

But let me put that into perspective real quick. We post ~27 pieces a week to our .com, every week of the year. That’s over 1,400 pieces a year, of which this section totals just 52. The bulk of our content is news, and features on the individuals and brands that make our community great. That means that these rants account for less than 4% of our annual content, yet were alone responsible for a solid chunk of our digital and social reach over the past year. You see, these aren’t the same as our typical news pieces, which are boosted by SEO and news roundups. No, these are seen because YOU share them, and respond to them, and debate them. We thank you for that. Even if you come to object to the point we’re making, you’re fueling the conversation, and that’s what we’re looking for. We’re not right all the time, but we don’t get anywhere by standing in place. We’re willing to be wrong if it means moving forward, and I think there’s a freedom in that. As I said in the beginning, many of these issues don’t have clear answers, and the only way we’ll solve them is by talking this out. Together.

The First Wave

Over the past year we’ve begun to tackle some of the biggest issues facing our industry and culture today. From THC % being bullshit, to the sexism that still flourishes across our ‘inclusive’ space, there have been a lot of stakes thrown in the ground in this section already. We’ve had on-going discussions, like our Indica / Sativa debate, which was most recently addressed by legendary cultivator and High Times alum Todd McCormick, and tried to guide the industry through thought pieces like ‘Our Escape’s Gone Corporate’ and ‘Shit Talk’. At times we’ve straight up thrown stones, like Joe’s ‘Standards’ piece, or Jackie‘s ‘I’m Over Cannabis Brands That Don’t Like Cannabis Users’, which found that most of the community feels a similar way, despite what the brands that are making products for ‘us’ seem to think. We’ve asked important questions, and tried to defend the trap, but we’ve just started to scratch the surface…

Although, that makes it sound like kind of a drag… it wasn’t all serious! We’ve also welcomed comedians like Frank Castillo, Mike Glazer and Steve Furey into our fold, and heard their stories, ranging from a day in the life to what it’s like trying to score on the road. Mike even wrote us a short play about being online lately! Our Canadian friend Ben told us about the first time he took DMT, and Cody made up a fake study that not everyone understood was fake. Javi reminded us that we can’t do whatever we want. We’ve gone back and forth about including tobacco in your smoke, as well as what actually qualifies as a blunt. Jimi uncovered that microdosing is just a PR conspiracy, and Ellen even waxed on her love for eating hash

There’s been as many laughs as there have been arguments, but that’s kind of analogous to life, isn’t it? Peaks and valleys, man. It’s not all gravy, but it can be fun.

Falling Down The Weirdo Rabbit Hole

Now selfishly, I can’t believe how big my baby has grown. I knew this would work, but I wasn’t anticipating the support, or the amount of people who would want to participate. I didn’t expect the number of people to talk about it offline, or the stature of individuals it would reach. I honestly expected to have to work a little harder to get the community involved, but the sheer number of ideas that have been thrown my way for this column specifically is stunning, and it reminded me of the power of this brand, and its reach. It reminded me why I love this culture. The creativity, and off the wall ideas that pour out of our community is in my opinion the most vibrant in the world. I know a lot of people have already counted us out, or are praying for our downfall, but I’ve never been prouder of the work we’re doing. 

In that regard, we’ve already booked basically every Friday through the rest of the year. The schedule says we’re full, but there’s still so much more ground to cover! And this rabbit hole goes far deeper than it seems…

So, we’re going to start trying some more stuff. Some of it might suck, all of it will be weird, but we’ll see how you rock with it. We’ll start small. Over the next few months you’ll start seeing WEIRDOS on different days of the week. More creative pieces. Short stories, allegories. Sometimes even on the weekend. You’ll see some more rich media than you’re used to over here, and maybe even some live rants on Instagram. Maybe even some music. Who knows?

While we’re not jumping into an everyday feature or anything there are so many more opinions, and voices, we can’t wait to share with you. Some insane talent has volunteered to get involved, and we look forward to providing an even wider perspective on this culture we all love so dearly. From our highest highs, to our deepest lows.

This is far from over – in fact, we’re just getting started. We hope you’re enjoying the ride! 

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Ditch the Old Terminology (An Indica / Sativa Response)

I have been a student of cannabis since the first time I smoked a joint in 1979 while battling cancer and undergoing both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The gracious herb was in many ways my savior and it caused me to become dedicated to learning as much as I could about it. One of my favorite teachers is Robert Clarke who wrote the books, The Botany and Ecology of Cannabis in 1977, Marijuana Botany in 1981, HASHISH! in 1998 and Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany released in 2013. We’ve been close friends since 1994, and in the 1990s Robert was teaching us that Indica and sativa were basically incorrect terminology, and that Afghan cannabis should be considered within its own classification.

In 2004 and after five long years, I got out of federal prison for growing cannabis after the passing of the 1996 California medical marijuana law. I picked up Rob for the first time in a long time to go smoke a joint, and he asked me if I remembered what he taught me about Indica, sativa and Afghan. I told him that I did remember, and he smiled and said to forget it because that’s not what researchers believe anymore.

Our understanding of the planet is changing daily, as science reveals more of life’s secrets, it causes us to look at the way we understand things differently.

Initially, we used Indica and sativa different ways, depending on if you were a grower or a consumer.

To a cultivator, Indica meant a short broad leaflet plant that grew tight and stocky, yielded well and finished flowering quickly. Sativa, meant the plant was tropical/equatorial with narrow leaflets and took next to forever to finish flowering.

To a consumer, Indica meant something that was a heavy high that was deep, relaxing and often not so energetic. On the other hand, sativa was translated to mean that it would be more energetics, almost like drinking coffee, in the way that it wakes you up and motivates you, and more psychedelic, with a buzz that leaves you daydreaming about the universe.

To science, it meant something else entirely.

When the cannabis taxonomy was first being written in 1753, Carl Linnaeus was essentially aware of only one type of cannabis: the European hemp variety of Cannabis that he added the suffix “sativa”, which at the time simply meant to grow or to sow. This type of cannabis was used industrially for ropes, cloth, paper, paints and varnishes, but surprisingly, not for the drug content.

Robert Clarke often jokes that scientifically speaking, nobody smokes “sativa” because all drug varieties are “Indica”.

In 1785, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck published a description of a second species of Cannabis from India which was used for it’s drug content and he named it “Cannabis Indica”.

Cannabis that was coming from India and many other items that originated from India used the term “Indica”. But what becomes more confusing to our modern use of the term is that there are all types of cannabis growing in India and leaf morphology does not tell the whole story.

In Northern India along the Hindu Kush mountains, you will find broadleaf drug cannabis and as you travel south to Goa, you will find very narrow leaflet drug plants that are all 100% Indica.

You can also find non-drug industrial hemp/cannabis varieties growing all over the world that have both narrow leaflets and broad leaflets. The flowers look amazing and make copious quantities of trichomes, but they will not get you high.

In 2013, Robert Clarke launched a new taxonomy in the world of cannabis, the problem is, it’s a bit complex. Robert breaks down the varieties as follows:

Broad Leaflet Drug = BLD

Narrow Leaflet Drug = NLD

Broad Leaf Hemp = BLH

Narrow Leaf Hemp = NLH

Robert also has another category for ancestors, as there are varieties of cannabis growing around the world that have escaped human cultivation and have become feral once again. For this he uses “PA” for punitive ancestor.

Robert’s 21st century cannabis taxonomy has been around for 10 years now and while it makes a lot of sense, it’s not catching on. I think this is mostly because it’s too complex for people to grasp easily, but that is to be expected considering Robert is a scientist and if you read any of his books, you will see that they are very detailed and well referenced.

The modern cannabis market is made up of hybrids which are incredibly hard to classify as Northern or tropical, Indica, or sativa, because they have attributes of both.

The effects we feel when we smoke or vaporize are controlled by the cannabinoids and terpenes which modulate the effects of the cannabinoids. The analogy I would use is that getting high is like getting on an airplane, the cannabinoids bring you up to altitude and the terpenes are the rudders that control the whole flight.

The terpenes are so important that the entire experience from the bud can be ruined if the bud is over dried, because when it is over dried, the terpenes evaporate and the bud does not taste or smell anywhere near as good as it did when it was fresh.

The Emerald Cup, which is one of the largest cannabis competitions in the world, recently started dividing the entries into six different terpene categories, which they call the love language of cannabis:

Myrcenethis is the most common terpene found in cannabis, varieties that have it are Skunk #1, Northern Lights, Blue Dream, and OG Kush

a Pineneis found in pine needles and is responsible for the piney scent in Northern Lights #5

Limoneneis found in lemons and other citrus-based fruit and gives a wonderfully uplifting energy that can also be quite medicinal with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Varieties that smell like a lemon dessert usually have high amounts of limonene, such as Wedding Cake, and Mac.

β Caryophylleneis found in black pepper and cloves and adds a spicy, herbal note to the cannabis. Varieties that have it are Cookies, Sherbet and UK Cheese.

Terpinoleneis one of my favorites. It is the dominant terpene responsible for the spicy smell in Haze. It is energetic and motivating and I’ve been smoking it as I write this. You will find it in Original Haze, Trainwreck, Jack Herer and Super Lemon Haze

Ocimeneis one of the exotics, it is often found in cannabis, but in lower quantities and is more of a complimentary rather than a dominant terpene. Varieties that have it are; Pineapple, Dream Queen, and Pink Lemonade.

As a grower, breeder and heavy user who has been selling seeds for years through my company Authentic Genetics, I recommend to all of the cultivators who grow my seeds that they stop selecting plants based upon high THC levels, fast flowering times, and heavy yield.

Unfortunately, for the past 30+ years, cannabis varieties have been selected and hybridized for the convenience of the grower and not for the overall quality of the end-user.

What I recommend is that we all start growing and selecting plants based on olfactory qualities such as flavor and scent. If food does not taste or smell good, no matter how nutritious it is, you’re probably not going to want to eat it and the same is true for cannabis. Too many varieties of cannabis in the commercial market look great, but don’t do the trick for many of my friends who smoke it.

As for effect, there is a cultivation technique that I’ve been teaching people, which is that you can dial the high of a cannabis variety by simply harvesting it at different times. Varieties that are harvested early will have a lighter and more psychedelic high, compared to the same variety harvested later into maturity, which will have a more sedated and relaxing high.

I think that we should ditch the old terminology and instead get a better understanding of what it is that we are consuming and what elements of cannabis make us feel the way we want to feel when we smoke, vape or eat our favorite flowers.

For more information on the subject, please visit my website: Authentic Genetics at AGSeedCo.com

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The Hasheesh Eater

My moods naturally tend to sway towards melancholia, and cannabis edibles are a great aid in combating my down days as they can shift my perspective more drastically than smoking weed or dabbing. My favorite edibles include ice water hash, aka water hash or bubble hash. Hash-infused edibles feel more potent and have a certain brightness that I don’t find in other infusions. I think it’s fun to bend time a bit by taking an edible before a yoga class and getting progressively higher as the practice goes on or taking an edible before a nap and waking up blitzed. But when it comes to the potency and effects of edibles, aren’t the results solely based on the milligrams of THC? Why do I prefer hash edibles over edibles made with cannabis flower or THC distillate? Isn’t 10 mg of THC just 10 mg of THC, regardless of the delivery method? With cannabis edibles, there are a lot of personal factors to consider. While we know little about why certain edibles seem to hit harder than others, we can hone in on a few solid leads: the way THC is absorbed and the other chemical components in cannabis resin beyond THC. 

The Hasheesh Eater

When it comes to the history of cannabis consumption, edibles take the lead over smoking. While Greek historian Herodotus records an ancient nomadic people, the Scythians, breathing in cannabis smoke as part of a tented funeral ritual, historians believe that our understanding of the psychoactive element of this plant likely occurred when we came into contact with the sticky, resinous substance that its flowers left behind on our hands. With origins in India, charas was the first cannabis concentrate, and our ancestors ate it before they smoked it. 

“Oral ingestion was the most common method of consuming cannabis drugs prior to the spread of smoking from the New World after the fifteenth century, along with tobacco,” Robert Connell Clark and Mark Merlin write in the book Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany

In Pots and Pans: A History of Eating Cannabis, author Robyn Griggs Lawrence details that “The Atharva Veda, a Hindu scripture written between 2000 and 1400 BCE, referred to cannabis as an ingredient in an intoxicating drink called soma. Griggs outlines that a cannabis drink originating in India called bhang includes cannabis leaves and flowers made into a paste combined with other ingredients including milk. 

Cannabis edibles made their way to Europe through a few different colonial channels. In the book Cannabis by Jonathon Green, Green explains that an attempt to expand the French kingdom took Napoleon to Egypt, where his troops discovered cannabis in its concentrated form, hashish. 

Hash history gets murky because “hash” was used interchangeably with “cannabis.” Many early gonzo-style drug writers experimented with edibles, often created with cannabis flowers rather than cannabis resin, but called the substance they were ingesting hash. In 1840 French physician Dr. Jacques Joseph Moreau swallowed an edible mixture containing cannabis, writing later in his 1845 book Hashish and Mental Illness that its influence caused a “thousand fantastic ideas” to flow through his brain. Moreau believed ingesting cannabis might reveal how to treat mental illness. 

“One of the effects of hashish that struck me most forcefully and which generally gets the most attention is that manic excitement always accompanied by a feeling of gaiety and joy inconceivable to those who have never experienced it,” Moreau wrote. “I saw in it a mean of effectively combating the fixed ideas of depressives, disrupting the chain of their ideas, of unfocusing their attention on such and such a subject.” 

Needing more test subjects beyond himself, Moreau aligned with leading literary writers in Paris, France, and formed the Club des Hachichins. This group would regularly meet to ingest coffee infused with hashish, more specifically dawamesk, a green paste made with cannabis flower mixed with a fat, butter, or oil, as well other ingredients such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pistachio, sugar, orange juice, and cantharides, a substance produced by beetles used as a sexual stimulant called Spanish fly.  

While writers like Charles Baudelaire proliferated stories of cannabis exploration in Europe, Fitz High Ludlow popularized cannabis use in America with his 1857 book, The Hasheesh Eater.

“It was the first American drug book,” cannabis historian Michael Aldrich explains to me over a phone call. “That was the first American cannabis book. It was the first American confessional.”

The book is modeled after author Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater and describes Ludlow’s vivid, surreal experiences ingesting cannabis in high doses.

“[Ludlow] was sort of patterning it after De Quincey, but his story is much different when he gets the stuff he flies over Schenectady or wherever he was in upstate New York and flies over the pyramid heading for the Great Wall of China,” Aldrich says. “That’s quite an adventure.”

While Ludlow writes of ingesting “hasheesh” within the book, he describes taking a specific tincture called Tilden’s Extract. Back then, the medical use of cannabis tinctures in America was beginning. As the mixtures evolved, they often included additional medicinal ingredients beyond cannabis.

“[Ludlow] drank Tilden’s Extract, which was a very powerful extract, and it was in liquid form,” Aldrich says. “I have one type of cannabis tincture that has chloroform in it. This was for children. When they were coughing or screaming, give them a little dose of this and shut them right up.”

In a 1971 article for The International Journal of Addictions, Oriana Josseau Kalant writes that the Tilden’s Extract that Ludlow ingested was “roughly twice as potent as the crude resin and ten times as potent as marijuana.”

Fueled by Fat?

Dropping back down into experiments of contemporary hash consumption, cannabis expert Elise McDonough tells me she has long preferred hash edibles because she believes the flavor of ice water hash is superior to the vegetal taste of chlorophyll that can come when making edibles with cannabis flower as opposed to cannabis resin. It’s also easier for cooking, she says, because it’s a homogenous ingredient that evenly spreads the THC dose and can be used much like a spice.

Cannabis edibles are more powerful and long-lasting than smoking weed because of how our bodies process them. When we ingest edibles, the THC transforms into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is two to three times more potent. But to get to the point of ingestion, the THC in cannabis must first be activated.  Raw cannabis flowers contain the acidic form of THC, THCA, which needs to be converted to THC through heat to get us high. In edibles, this process is called decarboxylation, a step that needs to take place for both cannabis flower and hash. Cannabinoids are fat soluble, so they are often combined with a fat, like butter or oil, to make them more bioavailable. New edible innovations encapsulate cannabinoids in coatings that make them water-soluble.

“Perhaps hashish is the drug which ‘loosens the girders of the soul,’ but is in itself neither good nor bad. Perhaps, as Baudelaire thinks, it merely exaggerates and distorts the natural man and his mood of the moment.”
– Aleister Crowley, The Psychology of Hashish

The ability of cannabis to be absorbed into our body plays into McDonough’s theory as to why certain cannabis edibles might hit harder than others containing the same milligrams of THC. 

“What I have long suspected and is my hypothesis is that you’re going to feel a much more intense and long-lasting effect if you’re eating edibles where the active ingredient is combined with some kind of fat,” McDonough says. “What I have noticed personally and anecdotally is that when I eat edibles that are made with cannabutter or that are made with some kind of full-fat infusion, they are much more intense than when I eat gummies or drink a drink, and I think that’s because of the lack of fat in emulsions for drinks and for gummies.”

Cannabis gummies and drinks often contain THC distillate, a form of cannabis concentrate that has already been decarboxylated and only contains THC rather than including the other chemical elements within the plant’s resinous trichomes, such as terpenes. In the edibles space, nanotechnology, manipulating matter on a small scale, has also recently introduced water-soluble cannabis concentrates.

McDonough’s theory about full-fat activations rings true in one of my favorite ice water hash based edibles, Space Gem gummies. Unlike other gummies that rely upon distillate as the active ingredient, Space Gems contain ice water hash combined with a fat, coconut oil.

“Ice water hash is just like a concentrated flower high,” Space Gems founder and CEO Wendy Baker says. “I like the fact that the cannabinoid is kept whole, the trichome is kept whole. You have all these different cannabinoids, and you’re not stripping the cannabinoids of certain things. You’re keeping them whole.”

The fact that the cannabinoids in ice water hash also include other elements present in cannabis resin, like terpenes, could also play into the speculation of why edibles crafted with hash seem stronger.

Whole Plant Compounds

The pharmacokinetic (PK) profile of edibles, or the speed at which our bodies absorb cannabinoid molecules, depends on the product formulation. Cannabis formulation expert James Prendergast has worked with companies such as Cannacraft and LEVEL using different infusion methods and input ingredients. He tells me the fat component in certain edibles affects the onset time of edibles as the amount of lipids helps with the uptake of THC. 

“The PK profile will help determine how a high feels because that impacts how quickly it comes on and how strong it is. Like the total update by availability,” Prendergast says.  

Also in play, he says, are the “whole plant compounds that come along when you don’t purify THC fully.”

“The effect you get from, say smoking flower or using a vape is largely colored by the terpene profile,” Prendergast says. “That’s really what determines whether it’s a sativa or indica kind of feeling. I think in the past, I didn’t really have a belief—and I say belief because there’s not enough research on this—that terpenes were going to be taken up in your stomach. It seemed like that was kind of far-fetched… A lot of research shows from a medical perspective that whole plant extracts like RSO and things like that are more effective.”

Within his work to craft edibles for LEVEL, Prendergast says he noticed differences in the effect of cannabis edibles depending on the product’s terpene profile. Other compounds within cannabis resin, such as flavonoids (phytochemicals found in cannabis and other plants thought to provide health benefits), also might have a hand in the effects of edibles, he says. 

Flavonoids and other non-terpenoid, non-cannabinoid compounds could explain why hash edibles—like the ice water hash capsules by Community Cannabis that have kept me balanced lately—might particularly appeal to my endocannabinoid system

“Hash contains those, so it really is a sort of rounded whole plant input material,” Prendergast says.

As shown in scientific research, cannabis is not a single compound product. The entourage effect, or the “suggested positive contribution derived from the addition of terpenes to cannabinoids,” likely explains why hash edibles are my favorite. While we wait to unlock the science behind edible formulations, I’m joining in the long history of self-experimentation of drug writers in the past and will keep eating cannabis to stimulate my creativity and keep the blues at bay. 

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Emerald Mirror Pt. 2: The Money Left the Worm and the Apple

Let go of some of the nuanced or specific issues some of these big box canna brands have. Let go of the spiritual relationship ideology we have with plants. (Honestly most people create romantic mythics around relationships between living things, like humans and plants, while still lacking a detailed understanding of the mechanisms behind them. The order of it all.) The mythos becomes nuanced the more it stands as a placeholder to reality, a shadow on the cave walls. It doesn’t mean that the relationship between human and plant isn’t even more critical, but the early mythos has placed humans above plants in the hierarchy of order and complexity. Does that change the critical role of plants? No, of course not, and in all of our scientismo and mythical stories, plants preceded humans. They are older in existence and because of that fact, they will exist before and after human life, always. Does that make them a god? No. They are an element in the symbiotic order of all life here, in this moment, on this planet. All connected in some way by the life that preceded them. We were and are here to benefit by their position in existence, play our role as caretakers and give them a name. Perhaps go even deeper and reciprocate thought and intention so like us, that form of critical life is also evolved. 

Zoom back in a little. 

What’s going on in the cannabis space?

Here’s my guess. Things were going south prior to COVID. The pandemic created a false world in many industries. Cannabis was one. Operators in the cannabis space are gamblers. It’s in the blood. Every run is a gamble, every sale, every call or meeting. When you clean up the odds it’s an incredible high. Also, like most gamblers, degenerate behavior is concentrated. Some of it we can live with, some of it we can’t. And almost everyone in this space has been guilty of creating terribly muddy deals where the space for ethically faded behavior can thrive and grow. Those two elements collided with the pandemic false world. Now we are back where we were and everyone is scratching their heads like the last three years wasn’t a sugar laced death pill.

If you’ve been on the sidelines just watching and not participating or if you have entered the space in the last ten years it would be easy to think that all of these bad deals are the result of some newly maligned precedent. I can tell you, it is not. It is the same behavior from back in the medical days just amplified by more money and the majority acceptance of the people. That can change. Big time. There are already pushes for that and the current state is volatile. Things are chaotic in the overall world, and new trends or ideas from another world view can easily emerge. 

So if we are watching the old guards’ degeneracy bloom into a self eating parasite, there needs to be a quick shift with whoever is still operating and isn’t planning to sell their company to big pharma, tobacco, AG, beverage, or worse, investment groups like Blackrock. Those of us who still have gas in the tank, still love the craft and have some equity in the industry, we have to bury the hatchet, clean up the mess and move forward with a new mission statement and an evolved order of how we work with each other. 

I’ll provide an example of how this is not happening and the cost. New York is coming online and the clandestine growers of New York are now stepping out. Some of the best weed I’ve ever smoked was grown in New York. What’s happening is that products from flooded markets are hitting New York at flooded prices rapidly reducing the early value that existed in early markets prior. The New York growers are now sitting in the same world as many small growers in California but without the time those growers have to at least make an attempt using early market pricing to build and grow. The resentment is there and it will grow. Another tribe will form. 

The possible value that Cali growers supporting New York growers would have for the overall global market has now been reduced. The advantage lost to territorial pissing. 

On the licensed end it wouldn’t surprise me if some NY conglomerate sues the state of California for utter negligence in managing their program. They have a case. It’s an ugly one. 

So my proposal to everyone is that we at the very least begin to try something else. We can start by letting go of this Pinky and the Brain pursuit and make choices that benefit more of the whole and less for the one. The benefit for the one is also not a good look or flex. In fact if your persona is based on material gain and wealth you are not reading the room well. That is a dead way. So table the degeneracy, the one-upmanship, and the motley-crew-meets-death-row trajectory. Stop practicing the role of the predator and start practicing the role of the caretaker. In service to the people (your customers), the future of the industry and the enjoyment that comes from working with this plant. The drama is tired. It used to have a bit more humor, but it’s hard to laugh because the humor of it all is what’s supposed to initiate the change in behavior. It’s not funny when it doesn’t fire off. This era has fucked all our heads up. It’s becoming a black mirror. 

The garden is the mirror of our actions.

This tech world is a mirror of self-centered illusions. Which isn’t surprising. It was built by nerds obsessed with fantastical superheroes in fit forming tights.

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Deals, Deals, and More Deals

420 doesn’t feel like what it used to be, now it feels like long lines and brand activations. I feel like an old man because back in my day I had to ask my cousin to get me weed and he never gave me a deal.

Last year I was on a show in San Diego, humble brag, and I didn’t plan my 420 correctly. I ended up going to four different dispensaries and seeing each one have a line out the door and around the block.

420 isn’t the fun hang it used to be; now it’s free imaginary money in your weed delivery apps, and every corporate Chad making their big marketing move to be a part of the culture.

New brands seem like they have two days to really capitalize a year: 420 and 710. All it does is make me feel like I’m celebrating weed Valentine’s Day and the excise tax wants me to take it to a steak dinner.

I ended up having to hit up the homie that I used to hit up for a sack back in the day. Thank God he was still open. I still the think the best weed is from the local plug. They got families and their kids needs braces too.

Let us not forget what 420 was about, Hitler’s birthday. I’m completely kidding. It all started as a local meetup between friends after class. The thing every stoner has done, it’s about friends, community and smoking the best weed you guys can find. It’s about the plant and our love and appreciate for that. 

Let’s make sure to keep 420 like it always has been and let’s try not to let it become so much of a Hallmark card. I just want brands to respect us a little more as consumers. 

Brands shouldn’t wait till 420 to take care of its customers, be different and stand outside the holiday box. If you weren’t already in customers head stash 420 isn’t the day they are gonna take a chance.

No I don’t need a his/hers joint set. I just need you to grow good consistent weed, and try not be a former cop. 

I say all this as I buy the new 420 weed skin on Warzone 2.

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Strange Times in the Triangle: The Woman Walking in the Snow

The Emerald Triangle is my favorite place on Earth. It’s a mecca of luscious green redwood forests teeming with psychedelic mushrooms and dark green ferns that spread all the way to the ocean shoreline with no crowds, no traffic, and some of the finest cannabis in the world. I crash-landed there when I was a young man and spent the better part of a decade drifting from farm to farm, attending school occasionally, and eating [really really really good] acid with hill people of yesteryear. 

Some of them were penniless vagabonds who owned, in totality, one pair of overalls and two pairs of Chikamasa scissors. Some of them were real-life millionaires who had barrels of cash buried all around their properties. Some of them were immigrants, from every country all around the world. My roommate at the time used to love having sex with foreigners and musicians and foreign musicians so she’d invite entire groups of them to stay at our apartment, rent-free I might add. I remember one night I came home late, super drunk and tripped over a Bulgarian man sleeping on my living room floor who very politely offered me some ketamine as an apology for tripping me but that did not make up for finding his other two companions asleep in my bed.

I had so many good times in that apartment. I met so many random beautiful people who all came through Arcata to spend their hard-earned money when they got off “the hill” at the end of harvest season. The money was still decent for the trimmers and cultivators back then. Almost everyone I knew worked three or four months nonstop out of the year and spent the rest of the year in either Hawaii, Tulum or Costa Rica. All the businesses in the small rural towns littering the triangle thrived with cash infusions from their owners’ respective grow ops, not to mention the trimmers needed somewhere to drink after a hard day’s work. 

Those fuckers partied like no one else I’ve ever met. I once attended a 200-person full-moon rave party in the absolute middle of nowhere on top of an actual mountain. When I say the middle of nowhere I mean we were 45 minutes up a dirt road that originated from a death trap two-lane highway two hours away from anything resembling a city. To this day I’ve never experienced anything quite that fun. I fried on LSD and MDMA all night long until morning came and everyone howled at the blood-red rising sun at the top of their lungs. A nearby wook offered me a “chip shot” and I wasn’t sure what that even meant when I agreed but he poured a shot of Fireball into one of those tortilla chips shaped like little bowls for dipping into beans. He assured me it tasted great only to cackle hysterically when he saw the look of disgust on my face when I realized it was a cruel ploy to get people to chew shitty liquor. He also gave me a line of ketamine as an apology. 

I could tell another 100 stories like that but modern attention spans and statutes of limitations being what they are, I’ll just assure everybody that you’ve never been to a more wonderfully weird place than the Emerald Triangle. To this day it’s almost entirely populated by weirdos, hippie freaks, hill wooks and gun-toting weed growers. All of the above are generally some of the kindest and most generous folk you’ll ever come across. That said, I’m not here to tell stories of sunshine and shroom rainbows. There are enough legends about the triangle floating around that all sound the same. I don’t need to add to them. There’s another side to the triangle that doesn’t get talked about as often, a darker more sinister side that lurks behind the towering redwood trees, miles and miles away from anyone who would ever say a word about it.

I’ve worked in a lot of different areas around the triangle, mostly in Trinity and Humboldt County. I worked one or two farms in Mendocino but I didn’t get down that way as much. The bulk of jobs I worked were in Southern Humboldt County, which is essentially a dense jungle of redwood trees littered with a few small towns here and there (and we’re using the word “town” super loosely here because sometimes that word refers to a singular building). One job in particular I worked was essentially one or two hills over from “Murder Mountain” which is not the most dangerous area of the triangle in my opinion but it’s also kind of a moot point because you don’t earn a name like Murder Mountain without racking up a few…murders. There are definitely plenty of good people living up there too but I have heard that some of the more wild inhabitants of the area smoke these cartridges made of a hellish mixture of meth and live resin called “Twax” pens. I’ve never tried one but they come in different flavors and I’ve heard blueberry is a pretty dank option as far as meth cartridges go. 

I won’t say exactly where I was or even the nearest town for reasons that will become clear but for all intents and purposes I was even more in the middle of nowhere than ever before. I accepted an invitation to go trim on a farm roughly 3-5 hours from civilization up a dirt road blocked by river floods half the damn time, not to mention any street signs that might indicate where we were headed were rendered unreadable by bullet holes. I was young, I was super naive and I had been kicked out of school for not showing up so I had nothing better to do than convince my girlfriend at the time to load up her 1989 baby blue Ford Econoline camper van with propane and propane accessories and go trim until we developed arthritis. 

For a while, it was all fun and games out there. We showed up on the back end of Fall and it was breathtaking. We woke up underneath 100-foot redwood trees every day and opened the van doors to an ocean of clouds beneath us while we fried bacon and smoked big blunts of fresh OG. We trimmed all day with folks from every walk of life you can imagine. Everybody swapped stories until it was time to go back to the cabin and drink to keep warm. We played cards, ate mushrooms, I even got my Playstation up there for a while until I killed the van battery and had to stop.

The van’s name was Francis.

As with most good things, the fun didn’t last very long. The winter came and it was harsher than expected. We were camping in the snow and rats kept wiggling their way into the communal fridge to eat our food. Meanwhile, one of the main employees was stealing all the good weed so we were trimming a bunch of powder mold and garbage, making piss-poor money and getting interrogated by the owners who were beginning to notice their returns dwindling. We never took anything other than some personal smoke but it’s still pretty scary being a million miles from anything and trying to convince a heavily armed hair-brained hill creature that you aren’t trying to rip him off. 

We also started noticing odd shit around the mountain. Everyone had heard rumors about some of the neighboring properties and what they’d get up to. There were also rumors about the couple we worked for, but other than [both of them] fraternizing with the employees I don’t think they got up to much. They appeared to be good people at the end of the day. I can’t say the same for the neighbors though. 

Now, admittedly, I used to take a lot of Xanax so I’m not exactly sure when this next part happened but I’m pretty sure it was around the same time I was living there in the van. Doesn’t matter. One day, we were heading to town for a supply run and the road down the mountain was super curvy so you had to go 15 mph the whole damn way down and pray the Eel River hadn’t flooded the road at the bottom or you’d have to go all the damn way back up. We were about halfway down the mountain listening to some scratched-up Ween CDs and smoking poorly-rolled Backwoods when we saw her. 

A woman was walking barefoot on the road, with a glazed look in her eyes like she was not there at all. She looked and walked like a zombie and I can’t remember what she was wearing but I remember it wasn’t much and it was snowing outside so we tried to flag her down and see if she needed help. I’m not exaggerating when I say I shouted at her from five or six feet away and she didn’t even look at me. She just kept walking so we just kept driving. About a mile down the road a man in an honest-to-god tuxedo waved our car down and asked if we had seen the woman in question. We pointed sheepishly in the direction we had come from and he took off running without another word. 

It dawned on us at that point what we had just witnessed and to this day I’m still not 100 percent sure but we had heard enough rumors about human trafficking operations in the area to have a pretty good idea that the woman had escaped from one of the houses we’d heard about, only to presumably be recaptured by the man in the tuxedo. When I say human trafficking I’m talking high-end sex slavery trade like some real-life Taken shit, only no one gets rescued by Liam Neeson. This is just what I’m assuming based on what I’ve been told by people who have spent their lives up there and that’s all I could think about the entire rest of the way down the mountain that day.

I tried to put the woman out of my head but a few months later we were having drinks at the bar in town and an adorable old man petting a cat bought me a couple whiskeys. He told me he believed in me and it really felt like he meant it. As we were leaving, a friend pulled me aside and said “Don’t talk to *****, ***** sells people.” Apparently, he was an actual lunatic who hired speed freaks to steal equipment from one farmer so he could sell it to another and such. The guy’s dead now anyway so fuck him. One of these days I’d like to find his grave so I can piss on it. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg in the triangle. There are members of every organized crime group in the world operating out there. There are properties that can only be reached by helicopter. There’s a goddamn Scientology headquarters made out of stone that has three zebras living in the front yard. It used to be four but one of them got shot in cold blood for reasons that were never publicly released. When I say some of those men and women living in complete solitude are richer than God himself I am not lying or exaggerating even a little bit. They have the power to do anything they want to and no one is there to tell them no.

A dear friend of mine posing for a picture with the zebras, which was a terrible idea considering he was trespassing and there were two fully grown bulls sitting just to the left of the picture.

Serial killers have been caught in the triangle and not just one. So many murders and missing persons cases go unreported or unsolved, especially on the Native American reservations. I’ve heard rumors of LSD labs, poppy fields, farms that operate using forced labor, farms that kill their workers at the end of the season, and not that this is all that sinister in comparison but farms that pay women twice the money to trim naked. There’s even a small town supposedly populated entirely by Nazi families who hid out there after the war, fucked, and made a bunch of little Nazi children who grow thousands of pounds of mids every year. 

I’m not trying to paint an image of the triangle as this super dark and dangerous place, it’s just a place people go to be left alone and people opt to be left alone for a lot of different reasons, some sinister some not. The grim reality, however, is that most of the sinister activity I’m describing was financed or at the very least overshadowed by illegal cannabis farms at the end of the day. 

Before anyone crucifies me for saying that, I’m bringing it up for a good reason. I’m not anti-black market, I actively root for the black market but I know deep down in my soul that the only way forward is the direction we’re already heading in. Legal weed ruined a lot of things for a lot of people and I want to acknowledge that before I continue advocating for it. A lot of good people lost their life savings because of legal weed. A lot of good people were murdered when the prices dropped and the bottom feeders started getting desperate. The triangle became a different place virtually overnight when Prop 64 passed and so began a long, painful process of death and extinction.

I say extinction because an entire way of life is indeed extinct. The trimmigrants don’t come to the triangle anymore because there are no jobs for them to work. The small businesses in the hill towns that thrived under prohibition have once again become struggling small businesses in rural America. In my last Weirdos piece, I chose to blame this on corporate Chads profiting off the hard work of the legacy market and I still do in a way. But for this piece I wanted to illustrate that as much as I lament the way legal cannabis was structured, as much as it makes me sick to my stomach to reduce a plant I love so much to numbers on a spreadsheet, if cannabis legalization prevented even one single person from getting trafficked into sexual slavery, that means we did the right thing. 

Now I want to be clear. All the good people who just want to grow weed and be left alone without all the regulations and bullshit have a fair bone to pick and I respect their side of things when they refuse to play ball with the legal market but I also want to make the argument that as the spotlight on the triangle becomes brighter and as the obscene amounts of cash begin to dwindle, it gives us an opportunity to put actual resources behind law enforcement efforts to combat true evil lurking behind the redwood curtain. Up until now, no matter whose fault it is, law enforcement in that area has been inundated and entirely too preoccupied with chopping down plant canopies when the properties right next door are up to way sheistier shit. 

As far as the rollout goes, no one can deny legal weed has been a mess. All the legacy growers got bent over the barrel and shown the 50 states (very heady reference). Everyone got fucked, it happened, I acknowledge that. But in twenty or thirty years, cannabis will be another boring-ass regulated and mature market and the triangle will have evolved into a much cooler version of Napa Valley. Whatever scum is left lurking in those hills won’t be able to operate with the level of impunity they have thus far and they will stand a much better chance of rotting in prison when law enforcement manages to get it through their heads that chasing their tails chopping down plants is nothing more than a silly distraction from crimes against humanity. 

If I had concrete proof of any of this, I’d offer it but these are the rules of cribbage. Lord knows I’ve tried in my capacity as a journalist. I reported the woman to the sheriff years later and interviewed him asking if anything like this had been reported in the area and I got a whole bunch of non-answers and buck-passing. Essentially he told me nothing like that ever gets reported so they’d have no way of knowing. I also pestered the local FBI offices and human trafficking groups for months and never got a single response. All I know is there are far too many rumors and far too many bodies floating around those hills for the sheriff to tell me it’s all gravy. It’s not fucking Bigfoot, it’s human beings.

All of this being said, I would like to challenge two very distinct groups to two very distinct things. 

  1. To my fellow cannabis industry professionals: we, myself painfully included, need to stop being so nostalgic about the “good old days” because at the end of the day that comes from greed. I would love nothing more than to make money hand over fist again but in doing so, we were allowing a much greater evil to grow right under our noses. We cannot abide this any longer and we must intentionally move forward into the legal market together. We need a much more even playing field before that can happen, but our hearts need to remain in the right place here. We owe it to every nameless person buried in those hills to maintain a better perspective at the very least.
  2. To the federal and local law enforcement agencies operating in the Emerald Triangle: you are doing a piss poor job and my proof of that is the poster at the Willow Creek rest stop filled with pictures of all the unsolved missing persons cases. My proof of that is the former Trinity County Sheriff walking off the job for months and still collecting a salary. My proof of that is the woman I saw that fateful day and everything I’ve heard and seen during my decade in and around the triangle. We need actual law enforcement presence that isn’t paid to look the other way. We need effective undercovers to go in with the sole intention of flushing out only the worst of the worst with orders to leave the people alone who are just growing pot and trying to make a living. Do your fucking jobs, because by all indications you’ve allowed egregious human rights violations to happen on American soil for decades, period. 

I will always look back on the wonderfully wild times I had pre-legalization with a tender fondness that I know deep down will never fully go away. It was a special place because of what it was, and that’s what makes writing this so difficult because I know that the beautiful place I experienced had to die for progress to be made. As much as I know I’ll roll my eyes when I drive through Humboldt in twenty years and see all the stupid touristy weed shit, I’ll feel much better telling my kids there’s nothing to be afraid of anymore. I’m not sure I could honestly say that to them even today. We’re on the right track, but we need to keep going. 

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Two Tier, Three Tier: What Happened to the Quality?!

The Way It Used to Be

Do you remember the days of flipping to the back of a High Times magazine and seeing all the grow ads? Think way back, I know… It was a long time ago. Maybe you remember walking into just about any grow store in the ’90s or 2000’s, from Florida to Colorado to California, and seeing products upon products, old and new, all geared and focused towards a common solution: “A higher quality of product”. 

The days of walking aisle to aisle, searching and hunting through different plant products with advertised combinations of nutrients and foliars, all showing the science on how this would stimulate your plants to make the flowers taste better, contain more resin, smell more fragrant… even have better overall color.

There used to be an overwhelming amount of products focused on new and old formulations to stimulate resin production, terpene inducing foliars, flavor, and looks. Organic additives, specialty sugars, and quality enhancers were all geared towards the goal of better overall quality flowers. You would see aisles of products advertising “more resin and more terpenes” “stickier flowers,” “more flavor,” “better color,” all with one common goal for the grower, an overall increase in flower quality was the main topic of conversation. 

Flash Forward

Today it seems those days are gone. For those of us who can remember the constant strive for better and better quality, those days aren’t forgotten… yet. But there’s a vast change happening slowly. Something in our culture has shifted. Do you smell that? I don’t either because flower quality has taken a massive hit over the past six to eight years. Nowadays every lighting and nutrient company hitting the market is basing their advertising and “science breakthroughs” on two things: cost of production and overall yield. 

Let me make it super simple: You can grow way more flowers for way less! Well what about the quality?! 

New lighting spectrums and LED inventions are hitting the market monthly, and you see one focus from all these companies…yield increase. Two tier, three tier, more tier, cry tears, because what’s coming is all this abundance of lower tier product for less. Just what’s advertised, way more for way less. 

What Really Matters

But what about the quality?! New breakthroughs geared towards dry backs are specifically focused on one thing: yields. What about the quality?! Beneficial foliars these days are an afterthought for most growers unless it’s a fungicide or pesticide. What about the quality?! 

Don’t forget the days of hunting down the best solutions to the biggest prize: quality. The goal was always a higher quality product and letting the rest fall in line. You remember the days of letting your bag speak for itself. Letting the goal of having the dankest flowers in your city or town rule your dreams. 

Don’t forget… It was always about the quality.

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The Culling

The Current Marketplace

For those unfamiliar with the current happenings within the cannabis industry, I’ll give you a brief overview. Overall, things are looking grim, with most recreational companies operating at massive losses and traditional elements struggling to hang on by a thread. On both sides of the market people are hanging up their hats left and right. It seems as if the “the green rush” (oh boy, did I hate that term) is finally over. 

So, what does this all mean for everyone involved in the industry? First, it means increased pressure on smaller operators. Whether traditional or recreational, small growers are feeling the squeeze of oversupply, a glut of subpar mediocrity produced by their larger counterparts. 

Second, it means a flagrant burning of investor money as conglomerates fall victim to their own sunk cost fallacy, attempting to justify the hundreds of millions—if not several billions—they’ve already spent on massive facilities that became their own worst enemy. With larger conglomerates squandering investor resources, it’s safe to say there isn’t much left for anyone else.

So, things look bleak for quite a lot of people. But are they really? 

To answer this question, one of the things I really want to assess is how much of what is being trimmed right now is just the fat. I’ll be drawing parallels to natural processes in my assessment—I am a living organic farmer after all—looking at how nature might be showing us this current reckoning could be the best thing to happen to our industry yet.

The Culling

Let’s start off by rewinding about ten years, right before Colorado went legal. Back then, someone working in cannabis was a rarity and most certainly not the norm. Once legalization began spreading like wildfire though, the amount of people who worked in cannabis, or were invested in cannabis, or were looking to sink their claws into the industry in any way they could, rose astronomically. 

According to all these hopeful green-diggers (term coined by me just now, lol) legalization was the new way to make massive amounts of easy cash. In their minds, “drug dealing” had just gone mainstream. With a new, more accessible market at their fingertips, how could it not be super lucrative? 

The funny thing about drug dealing, though, is its profitability is inflated by its inaccessibility. It’s a simple equation of supply and demand: by making an illegal product permissible, you introduce a whole new kind of competition that just wasn’t there before. Save for a handful of quality-focused brands that can demand a higher price point for the effort they put into making an impeccable product, most producers are motivated by the easiest, cheapest way to make a buck. You don’t have to look at the history of capitalism to know such a narrow focus usually results in dismally subpar products, cheap, nonetheless. 

Fast-forward ten years now into the present, what are these green-diggers to do as the promise of easy cash from an always on-demand product is in fact not easy cash, for a not so on-demand product? 

Well, this is where the culling begins. On the surface a brutal, scary process, it’s really meant to separate those who were in this for the money from those who were always in it for the love. I think it’s safe to say even among the “veteran” trappers and growers, many were just in the game for how incredibly lucrative selling units at $4K+ a pound once was. (It’s why when I hear someone lamenting past price points when dinosaurs ruled the earth, I just shake my head.)

When you take the money out of it, there’s only a select few who are willing to go through the struggle of keeping a cannabis business alive. Fierce competition, slim margins, a need for incredible customer service: it’s now just the same as running any other venture, if not made even more difficult due to stringent regulation and taxation. 

Photo by Ginja Club, cultivated by Snowtill

The Seeds Will Sprout

At this point you may be saying to yourself, okay, so the industry is absolutely screwed, right? What’s going to happen? 

Well, here’s where nature can teach us a thing or two. Just as a fire scours a forest of dying trees or a flood ravages a parched valley, so too will the industry be renewed by its culling. Just like the fire clears the most vulnerable trees that have grown too old or too sick, and just as the flood washes away all the old decay in the sun-stricken valley. Left behind are the youngest, healthiest trees and seedlings with plenty of light to grow, able to take advantage of the abundant carbon released from the fire. Animals and plants in the once-parched valley rejoice in the vitality that the flood’s left-behind streams bring to the dried land. 

So too in our industry will the decay get swept away: the unhealthy hulking giants will be most susceptible to the fire and floods they themselves started. It’ll take time, but I assure you there’s only so much capital investors will put in before enough is enough. We see it happening with massive Canadian conglomerates, and it’s happening to a lot of major operators on the West Coast as well. 


What’s going to be left behind by the culling will be the individuals who were drawn to this for all the right reasons. People who believe this is their calling and are willing to fight for their spot in the sun. 

Once the seeds of change have begun to grow and the decay has fully dissipated, I hope for an industry filled with true stewards of this amazing plant. From the individuals working on the production side to the people involved with procurement, all will have truly earned it. The days of gimmicky marketing, knockoff brands, ridiculously shaped mylars, and more will start to fade away. In their place, cannabis as a cherished plant rather than cheap commodity will take center stage.

As passion takes over, we’ll see an increase in the quality of the plant at price points that are simply unseen. In one of my previous pieces, I wrote that craft is the future of the industry, which some readers took to mean I was saying expensive weed will win. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. What you’ll end up with is the best quality products at the most affordable prices as the competition, still fierce as ever, will push producers (large ones too) to create a superior product to maintain an edge.

Photo by Ginja Club, cultivated by Snowtill

Keeping Our Heads HIGH

In the end, the struggle will be worth it. We only need to look to nature to see that adversity serves to sharpen and focus. Just as plants develop stronger roots and more resilient stalks from strong winds, our industry will come back stronger than ever, renewed by its culling. Life shines brightest in the face of adversity.

The sea of change will take some time. The big guys are heavily funded, their business plans frighteningly simple. Lose more money than those who don’t have deep investor pockets and snuff them out, one by one.

But I urge all who empathize and resonate with these words to keep your chin up. The best of the cannabis world is yet to come, and by digging deep roots and holding your ground against the winds of change, you will emerge stronger than ever ready to take part in the brighter future to come.

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

You could tell me it’s November (it’s actually March), and I’d probably believe you. This is to say that I only just realized that, shit! It’s time to pop seeds once again. I’ve been unsure of doing it, knowing the time commitment that growing requires may not be best combined with the relentless demands of newborn life. 

I’ve been on a years-long cannabis-growing journey, otherwise. After many years of merely consuming cannabis, happy to enjoy the fruits of other dedicated peoples’ labor, I decided a while ago that how involved I was in cannabis in my professional life didn’t quite match up with my dedication on a personal level. Sure, I was smoking a lot, which is obviously a commitment in its own right. But could I truly understand how this plant works and manifests without seeing it bloom from seed to smoke? To truly get connected, I knew I had to start growing myself.

In adulthood, I’ve really developed my love for plants, the outdoors, animals, and anything related to nature. While I thrive being surrounded by plants, keeping them alive has been a bit of a struggle for me. Succulents, monsteras, even garden tomatoes—you name it, I’ve killed it. So I was hesitant to wade into my absolute favorite plant on Earth out of sheer respect. Wasting a seed—especially one with “cool” genetics—seemed kind of sacrilege to me. But you never know if you don’t try, I reasoned, and I figured my mild terror and deep reverence for the cannabis plant would keep me in line.

It did. I’ve become a bit of a plant mommy, in addition to now becoming a human mommy, a process that was fraught with similar anxieties and overthinking. I’ll never claim I’m growing any kind of fire, far from it, but I grow purely outdoors (thanks, Southern California!), and the several harvests I’ve now reaped have been totally smokable. 

As expected, growing cannabis has deepened my relationship with the plant exponentially: I understand its cycles, how each variable—weather, water, nutrients, pest control, to name just a few—contributes to the quality of the final product (or lack thereof), the rainbow spectrum of genetics and how differently they all manifest, and also, frankly, how easily it grows without any intervention at all (hence the nickname “weed”). It’s informed my reporting, my evaluation of products in the marketplace, and it’s been a mental health balm in times when getting my hands dirty was just what my body and soul needed most. It also gave me immense respect for those who do this on any kind of commercial scale for money. The plant will grow just fine on its own, but it won’t shine without the special touch of expert know-how.

I also view growing as an act of political resistance—yes, even in the age of legalization. It’s still federally illegal to grow, even in states that allow homegrow. In April 2022, I was called to be a witness in a federal cannabis case as an expert on the cannabis plant, something I was comfortable doing thanks to my experiences reporting and growing, and I admitted on the stand as part of my proving my bonafides that I had grown cannabis before.

“You’re aware that a lot of the things you just listed as part of your qualifications, growing weed, for example, is illegal?” the prosecutor asked me while I was on the stand.

“Yes,” I replied.

“What quantity did you grow it in?” she asked.

“Under six plants, per California regulations,” I said.

“And do you also know that, regardless of your personal feelings about them, you still have to follow the federal marijuana laws in this country?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied, while the right side of my face twitched a little bit.

I know enough to know that nobody’s prosecuting federal cannabis cases for homegrowers anymore, so I’d be safe. But I was definitely sweating bullets nonetheless. Federal court will do that to you. Still, it felt like an important moment of defiance. Especially considering many states with adult-use legal cannabis sales and consumption have outlawed homegrow entirely. That’s not just a force of the government, but something lobbied for and enacted specifically by cannabis industry lobbyists and so-called “advocacy” groups, like the New York Medical Cannabis Industry organization and others across the nation, who often represent the interests of monied cannabis corporations.

As for me this year, I’ve decided I’m going to pop some seeds after all and line up a few clones, just in case the aforementioned goes sideways. I’ll do the best I can (my baby is due late May) and allow myself room for distraction while making sure to tag in my husband to help hand water. If my grow fails and I become engulfed by my baby, which is entirely possible, I’ll know it’s just the way things are meant to be for this season and allow myself some grace. 

But mostly, I have visions of myself with a baby strapped to my chest, sitting on the earth and slowly trimming leaves under the San Diego sun. It’s an idyllic vision to look forward to (if potentially unrealistic), and it excites me for what’s to come. I’m hoping that in any free moments I can steal, these growing female plants will remind me of the transformation that took place in my own womb and that they’ll offer me a mental salve in the difficult days of early motherhood. That it’s a female plant, a mother plant, whose bloom is healing and beneficial is not lost on me at all. I feel like I have to start the growing process, at least, seeing as I’m about to pop new life myself.

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