Advocates Stress Need for Equity in Cannabis During Museum of Weed Panel

Members of the diverse communities that were savaged by the war on drugs are working together to be sure that they will not be cast aside in today’s cannabis industry. 

Whether they’re politicians, pastors, entrepreneurs or activists, social equity advocates are united in ensuring that the predicted economic boon of legalized marijuana will not leave them behind.

That was the consensus of panelists and a crowd of 200 gathered Sept. 26, 2019 at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in Hollywood, California, for Social Equity Day. The free event at the museum featured two panel discussions on advocacy and social equity to raise awareness on social justice efforts in the marijuana legalization process.

Cannabis industry insiders and outsiders alike are engaged in intense grass-roots efforts to secure a foothold in the cannabis industry, particularly among people of color who were disportionately targeted by cannabis prohibition.

Social equity isn’t just just a noble idea; it was part of the intent behind Proposition 64, which California voters approved in 2016. The law calls for regulating cannabis to reduce barriers to entry into the legal, regulated market by offering technical, financial, regulatory and other forms of support to those who were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. 

Democratic California state Sen. Steven Bradford, a panel participant, wrote the California Cannabis Equity Act of 2018, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed, thus allowing distribution of grant money to cities with local equity programs.

(Anthony Brown/Weedmaps)
Maria Cordona, left, a political consultant and CNN commentator, moderates a social equity panel featuring speakers Frank Louie of the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce, Armando Gudiño of the Drug Policy Alliance, cannabis law consultant Yvette McDowell, and California state Sen. Steven Bradford on Sept. 26, 2019 at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in Hollywood, California.

Part of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed‘s mission is to spotlight the history of cannabis and shed light on the most damning moments throughout the last century. In addition, Weedmaps recently launched a program to accelerate more inclusive minority participation in the cannabis industry. The initiative will help entrepreneurs as they apply for and obtain licenses and receive professional development training and compliance resources. Minority entrepreneurs also will receive free advertising for their licensed businesses. 

“We want to make sure the people who drove the industry to where it is today have a chance to succeed in the industry,” said Weedmaps Chief Marketing Officer Juanjo Feijoo in a pre-conference discussion about the company’s support of social equity initiatives.

The panelists noted that it also will take personal and organized efforts to work together so that independent business owners from the diverse communities that were savaged by the war on drugs will not be cast aside. Several mentioned the need for creating political will and policy to keep Big Tobacco and Big Pharma from moving in to co-opt the market and reap all the rewards.

It will also take education, funding, and well-crafted legislation to make social equity and social justice foundational in the coming cannabis revolution.

In recent years, as the cannabis industry has grown and prospered along with legalization, many advocates have called for a focus on social equity and justice.

And that all starts on home turf, organizers said.

“You must get involved. You have to start locally because all politics start locally,” said Yvette McDowell, a cannabis law consultant and co-chair of the California Cannabis Industry Association’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity Committee.

“Know your council members. That’s where you have to start. You have to start educating them,” McDowell said.

Sen. Bradford agreed and urged attendees to engage with and educate local lawmakers.

Kika Keith, a social equity advocate and founder and CEO of Gorilla Life Beverage Company, said people need to read and understand the law, which provides the foundation and guiding principles of social equity.

“Then we have to show up,” she said. “We have to show up at our neighborhood councils and tell them why it’s important. There’s a whole community reinvestment. Social equity isn’t just about racism, it’s about job creation. Also about equity in the communities that were affected by drugs.”

Keith and her colleagues travel to Sacramento, California’s capital, to be heard as well.

“You’ve got to go to these meetings and get on the mic and be part of the record,” she said. “Then all of a sudden you see the tone start to change. And that’s the only way we can effectively make our way all the way to the state.”

An executive for a tech company specializing in cannabis urged participants to act quickly.

“The faster we buckle up, the better off we’ll all be and be able to not just rally as a community, but rally as a community that’s educated that can play the game,” said David Hua, CEO and co-founder of Meadow, a software company specializing in California cannabis. “That when we need new legislation, we can create the bill that we can all get behind.

“If we need to rally to get someone in office or go to a board of supervisors meeting we can do that and speak the language,” Hua said.

(Anthony Brown/Weedmaps)
Frank Louie, center, Chief Operating Officer of the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce, addresses the audience Sept. 26, 2019, during the Weedmaps Museum of Weed’s social equity forum in Hollywood, California. Political strategist and CNN commentator Maria Cardona, left, was the moderator, and Armando Gudiño, Policy Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, was also a speaker.

In response to calls for equity, a number of California cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco have created social equity programs, “to acknowledge and repair the harm caused by the War on Drugs and the disparate enforcement of cannabis prohibition,” according to the Los Angeles Social Equity Program website.

However, the legislative clock is ticking, said Armando Gudiño, Policy Manager of the Drug Policy Alliance. He said in 2023, California is set to open its cannabis markets to major tobacco and pharmacology companies. When that happens, equity partners that are not in business and running may find themselves out of luck trying to compete with the corporations. In addition, he noted that more than 75% of the cities in California have yet to set out regulations for cannabis operations, which is problematic for potential equity partners.

Gudiño advocates for a law that would add a five-year moratorium before the corporations can move in. 

Several equity partner applicants from Northern California engaged at a round table before the panel discussions and talked about the struggles they face. These included finding adequate funding for fees, legal help, and rents. They also discussed the need to be educated in business and law, the better to navigate unscrupulous lenders, endless red tape, and delays in the licensing process.

Many have been waiting for more than a year for their licenses.

“Equity was never meant for us to succeed,” said Alphonso “Tucky” Blunt Jr., who was the first equity partner to successfully open a dispensary in Oakland. “It was meant to be a bone.”

The war on drugs tore many communities apart, incarcerated generations of men of color, and set the stage for systemic inequity.

The numbers are staggering and show how deleterious the drug war has been on communities of color. Marijuana prohibition enforcement is predominantly targeted against the most vulnerable, low-level users, the majority of whom are people of color. According to DPA statistics:

  • The United States still spends $47 billion annually on a still-active war on drugs, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) In 2017, 85.% of drug arrests were for possession, not selling or manufacturing. 
  • There were 659,700 arrests for marijuana violations and 90.8% of those were for possession only.
  • In 2016, 456,000 people were incarcerated in the U.S. for a drug law violation.
  • Blacks and Latinos make up nearly 47% of the people arrested for drug law violations, though they make up just 31.5% of the U.S. population.

There have been no credible studies showing higher usage among people of color. Jay King, president of the California Black Chamber of Commerce, said the war on drugs is another chapter in ongoing suppression of the black community throughout American history that must be addressed.

“We need more honest conversations that are uncomfortable,” he said, adding that those are the conversations that often produce real results.

“You have to understand what led us here and it’s a very layered conversation,” said Andrea Drummer, Head Chef at Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe, which opened the first cannabis cafe in the U.S. in West Hollywood in October 2019.

(Anthony Brown/Weedmaps)
Guests of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed listen to experts in business and law describe the barriers people of color face in establishing enterprises and careers in the fast-growing cannabis industry. The social justice forum was part of the educational and advocacy efforts of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in Hollywood, California.

“You have to talk about racism, you have to talk about the disproportionate economics in terms of income,” Drummer said. “We have to have the hard conversations and unearth the layers.”

The Rev. James K. McKnight, senior pastor of the Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship in Los Angeles, saw the dual-edged future of cannabis in his community.

On one end is coming to grips with “the pain we’ve all experienced,” McKnight said, adding, “if we can figure out a way to do this right, we can right some wrongs. If it’s done right, there’s promise.”

The audience applauded a suggestion from Hua to right the wrongs: “Anyone currently serving time in jail should be released,” said the tech entrepreneur. He also urged those in the audience to know that their efforts to support California social equity have larger ramifications. “Everyone wants this to succeed because the world is watching.”

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Veterans Call for Legal Marijuana Access During Policy Summit at Weedmaps Museum of Weed

Against the backdrop of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, on Sept. 14, 2019, representatives of three leading veterans advocacy groups, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, and Weedmaps Chief Operating Officer Steven Jung, discussed the benefits of medical cannabis for veterans and the barriers that make it difficult for veterans to access it.

Along with Ma and Jung, an Army veteran, the panel participants at the Hollywood, California, event included, Aaron Augustis, founder of Veterans Cannabis Group (VCG); Sean Kiernan, chief executive officer of Weed for Warriors Project; and Ryan Miller, founder of Operation E.V.A.C. (Educating Veterans About Cannabis). 

Ma began the wide-ranging discussion by pointing out the hurdles that face anyone trying to open and operate a legal cannabis business. Federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which places it in the same category as heroin and ecstasy and categorizes it as having no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse and addiction. Subsequently, banks, payroll companies, accounting firms, bookkeepers, and lawyers often refuse to service cannabis businesses. 

“Since dispensaries and other cannabis businesses can’t open bank accounts, they’re forced to handle transactions in cash, including paying their taxes, their rent and their employees,” Ma said, “That’s a huge barrier to success in this industry.”  

High taxes are another hurdle. In California, for example, taxes in dispensaries are close to 40%.

California State Treasurer Fiona Ma tells an audience at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed how she has worked to address veterans’ concerns about difficult access to legal medical marijuana. (Anthony Brown/Weedmaps)

“When people have to pay that extra 40% in a dispensary, they often choose to go down the street or make a phone call and purchase illegal marijuana instead,” Ma said. 

She noted several actions that would address these concerns on a state level, including the establishment of a state-backed financial institution devoted exclusively to the cannabis industry, and legislation that would allow cannabis companies to deduct the same business expenses as any other business.

With a father-in-law who’s a Navy veteran and a brother-in-law currently serving in the Navy, Ma is aware of the challenges veterans face accessing medical cannabis to treat chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Along with Augustis and the Veterans Cannabis Group, she’s promoting a bill in the California Legislature, AB 1569, that would give veterans an exemption from sales taxes on medical cannabis products.

Getting any legislation passed, federal, state or local, requires mobilizing veterans and their advocates to make the issue a pressing one for politicians. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Ma said. “If legislators don’t see a lot of people walking the halls, emailing them, texting, and phoning, showing up day after day on an issue, they’re not going to feel it’s a priority.”

At a panel at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, left, joins Weedmaps Chief Operating Officer Steven Jung, second from left, and representatives of U.S. veterans groups to address how veterans can access medical cannabis. (Anthony Brown/Weedmaps)

But, as others on the panel pointed out, open advocacy on cannabis issues poses risks for veterans. 

“Many veterans are afraid that they’ll lose their veterans medical benefits if they testify in public,” Augustis said. “Right now, the policy of the VA toward cannabis use can be summed up at its best as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” Kiernan said. He’d found relief in cannabis from PTSD so severe it led him to attempt suicide.

Augustis agreed. After returning home from serving in an Iraqi war zone, he found himself reliving the stress and trauma of active combat.

“Cannabis would calm me down,” he said. “It helped bring me back to the present.” 

Today, when he tells a VA counselor about his cannabis use, he said, “They’ll ask ‘Is it helping you?’ I tell them yes. ‘Is it hurting you?’ I say no, and they’ll say, well, then, continue to do it.”

This ambiguous stance is reflected on the VA’s website. As long as marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, the website states, “VA health care providers may not recommend it or assist Veterans to obtain it.” But, “VA providers can and do discuss marijuana use with Veterans as part of comprehensive care planning, and adjust treatment plans as necessary.”  In addition, “Veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use,” however, the use will be noted in medical records. What’s more, VA clinicians cannot write a recommendation for medical marijuana and VA pharmacies will not fill prescriptions for medical cannabis and “will not pay for medical marijuana prescriptions from any source.” 

“That’s why the black market is thriving among vets,” Kiernan said. “Many people have no choice if they don’t want the opioids and other pharmaceutical drugs that the VA willing to pay for.”   

Miller is hoping that might change. “If the VA could distribute cannabis,” he said, “the three of us on this panel would be out of jobs. I’m looking forward to that. That’s my exit strategy.”


Veterans fought for liberty and we should have liberty of choice when it comes to cannabis use.
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With more than 18 million veterans in the U.S., “you’re not going to find a homogenous voice on the issue of cannabis,” Kiernan noted. “But we can find common ground. Whether conservative, liberal, libertarian, or whatever, we can all agree that cannabis works and that it’s a good subtitle for addictive opioids. Veterans fought for liberty and we should have liberty of choice when it comes to cannabis use.” 


Featured Image: Representatives of military veterans’ groups discuss legal access to medical marijuana at a panel at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed Sept. 14, 2019. From left, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma Aaron Augustis of Veterans Cannabis Group, Sean Kiernan of Weed for Warriors Project, and Ryan Miller of Operation E.V.A.C.. (Anthony Brown/Weedmaps)

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10 Dope Pieces of Merch You Can Buy at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed

FYI: Rare merch lies ahead.

The pop-up cannabis museum experience of the summer has a nice treasure trove of cool, obscure, stoner-centric merchandise at the end of it. With cannabis apparel, ashtrays, candy, and the limited-edition collection of Weedmaps Museum of Weed merch you will not find anywhere else, the retail store inside is the cherry on top of the museum experience. 

Here are 10 jaw-dropping pieces of paraphernalia and apparel you can get through Sept. 29, 2019, at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in Hollywood, California.

The Devil’s Harvest Tee

Take that, “Reefer Madness!” This fiendishly fashionable Devil’s Harvest T-shirt turns anti-marijuana propaganda on its head. It is one of many wearables available for purchase at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed gift shop in Hollywood, California. The exhibit is open through Sept. 29, 2019. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

This limited-run Weedmaps tee has jumped straight off the canvas of one of the most obfuscating and colorful exhibits in the museum, Age of Madness.Reefer Madness” did serious damage to the American psyche and its art still haunts us, but has now taken on new meaning in the new generation. That’s why the grinning Devil’s Harvest, Reefer Madness-inspired tee is a kitschy and devilishly good way to pay homage to how far we have come.

Kush Kards 

When you don’t have the words to express to the favorite stoner in your life, let Kush Kards do the talking. Buy a pack of greeting cards with 420-friendly messages at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed gift shop. (Photo courtesy of Kush Kards)

Namast’ay High. Stoner-friendly greeting cards are on shelves at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed store. Beloved OG company Kush Kards was founded in 2013 in Colorado by Lauren Miele, a girl boss who has dominated in press during her career, with features in Forbes, BuzzFeed, and CannabisNow, among others. The card line has evolved today to include cards attached with colorful one-hitters, CBD packages with Cannabombz and Kush Candles, and their classic space for prerolls, in every occasion in theme. The company has made the leap to shelves in North American mall staple Spencers Gifts, believe it or not. Yes, kush can. 

The Book of Weed

The Book of Weed goes hand-in-hand with the Weedmaps Museum of Weed. It’s the companion volume to the museum experience, a coffee table book rich with cannabis information, history … and free crutches. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

We love weed so much so, we wrote a book about it. This epic coffee table book that is in limited-edition release with the Weedmaps Museum of Weed is informative, and visually stunning. The book is gorgeous eye candy, much like the museum itself, walking readers through the science, history, and culture of cannabis. 

Koko Nuggz

Unicorn Nuggz, a Birthday Cake-flavored chocolate endorsed by Amber Rose, are made by California confectioner Koko Nuggz. You can also find these nug-shaped sweets in Peanut Butter, Biscotti, Kush Berry, and OG varieties. The products are non-medicated. (Photo courtesy of Koko Nuggz)

Koko Nuggz are a delicious optical illusion. The beloved stoner trick (yep, it’s chocolate, so they don’t have THC or CBD) is now a candy line founded in California. Favorites among its sweet line of flavors include Peanut Butter, Biscotti, Kush Berry, OG, and even a colorful, brand-new Amber Rose line of chocolates called Unicorn Nuggz, a Birthday Cafe flavor complete with edible glitter. KoKo Nuggz are gluten-free. So glamorous. 

Slide Lighter from Tetra

Tetra’s Slide Lighter is all style and no flame. A USB-charged electric coil will heat up your joint or blunt quickly. (Photo courtesy of Slide Lighter)

Half lighter, half artwork, these metallic and shiny slide lighters from Tetra are a luxe accessory. These lighters are rechargeable and fuel-free, offering a cool new take on the classic flame lighter. No flames emit from this lighter, just a simple electric coil that is charged by USB. The future of smoking is bright with these colorful little accessories.

Concrete Cat Ashtrays

Beautiful colors and durable material are what Concrete Cat ashtrays are all about. If the odor from your sesh gets overwhelming, light a stick of incense and put it in its own hole to clear the air. (Photo courtesy of Concrete Cat)

Modern stoners, you deserve a nice ashtray. Founded in 2007, Canadian-born Concrete Cat makes inspired concrete ashtrays worthy of a modern stoner’s centerpiece. It has dual use as an incense holder and offers a chic, bizarre, art-deco alternative to what is often a smelly situation. 

Banana Bros. OTTO Cone Roller

Save time and roll your joints like a pro with the OTTO Cone Roller by Banana Bros. No need to grind your nugs beforehand, as OTTO takes care of that, too. (Photo by Gina Colema/Weedmaps)

This high-tech cone roller is making waves. From the minds at Banana Bros., OTTO makes loading a cone easier than ever before. It is designed to be filled with King-Size cones, and you don’t need a grinder. OTTO contains an automatic one-up top. The USB-charged grinder perfectly breaks down your sticky-icky so you don’t have to. 

WMMW Zippo Lighters

Weedmaps has teamed with Zippo, the world’s pre-eminent lighter brand, to make official Weedmaps Museum of Weed lighters. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Nothing compares to the feeling of a metal Zippo in your hand, like holding the hand of an old friend. We created two limited-edition Zippo designs exclusively for the Weedmaps Museum of Weed. One is gold with the Devil’s Harvest image on its face to go great with the T-shirt, the other is a chrome black with the Weedmaps Museum of Weed logo. 

PJ Bold Leaf Candy Mold

The cutest little marijuana leaf candy mold from PJ Bold, available at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, allows you to make your own incredible edibles. (Photo courtesy of PJ Bold)

Making your own cannabis-infused butter, candy, and food items has never been cuter or more accessible. The cannabis leaf-shaped candy mold from PJ Bold is just one of the offerings you’ll find from this super “baked” weed cooking company. Keep your eyes peeled for their cookie cutters on Weedmaps Museum of Weed gift shop shelves while you’re at it. Endless edible possibilities await. 

Flowers Are Not A Crime Tees

The Flowers Are Not a Crime Tee is one of the best-selling apparel items sold exclusively at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed gift shop. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

“Flowers are not a crime” is one of the central messages of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed. In a classic black, sold in sleeveless and long sleeve, the tees’ message rings true. So much so, it’s one of the most popular merch items in the gift shop. 

General Admission and VIP Tickets for the Weedmaps Museum of Weed are available at themuseumofweed.com. Check out all of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed apparel at the Weedmaps online store

Feature Image: Decisions, decisions. The Weedmaps Museum of Weed gift shop has so much apparel and sesh accessories to commemorate your visit to this once-in-a-lifetime experience in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

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Vets, First Responders Receive Free Entry to Policy Summit at Museum of Weed This Weekend

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed is extending an invitation to all U.S. service members, veterans, and first responders to experience the museum for free this weekend, Sept. 14 and 15. Millions of veterans suffer from chronic pain, mental health diagnoses, and other conditions stemming from their time spent in service. Medical cannabis is increasingly seen as a viable option to help treat health challenges and prevent crises among veterans. 

Weedmaps will play host to advocacy groups, medical professionals, and policymakers to discuss medical cannabis and policy barriers that are restricting its access, particularly for veterans. The event, in partnership with Weed for Warriors, the Veterans Cannabis Group, and Operation EVAC (Educating Veterans About Cannabis) at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in Hollywood, California. The festivities kick off at noon and the panel, “Unlocking Benefits of Cannabis for Veterans and Policy Solutions to Remove Barriers to Access,” will take place at 3 p.m. 

Panelists include:

  • Aaron Augustis, Founder and CEO of Veterans Cannabis Group;
  • Sean Kiernan, CEO of Weed for Warriors;
  • Ryan Miller, Founder of Operation EVAC, and;
  • California State Treasurer Fiona Ma

Veterans, service members and first responders who wish to receive free entry should visit themuseumofweed.com, select the desired time on Sept. 14 or 15 and click the Veterans/First Responders button on the right.

Veterans have become a vocal, visible source of advocacy for medical marijuana research and legalization. Their glaring needs have reached crisis proportions with soaring rates of suicide, opioid abuse, and untreated mental health issues.

Yet the barriers to providing medical marijuana to active-duty members of the military, veterans, and first responders are daunting. Veterans are able to discuss using cannabis with their doctors, but clinicians with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are not able to discuss cannabis use, or write a recommendation for medical marijuana in accordance with state law where medical or adult-use cannabis is legal. Veterans also fear repercussions as severe as losing VA benefits entirely.

“Cannabis legalization is still a hotly debated issue across state lines. Many congressional bills come and go without securing solutions that directly address some of the most pressing health issues that servicemen and women face,” said Dr. Bonni Goldstein, a medical adviser to Weedmaps and Medical Director for Canna-Centers Wellness & Education in California. “However, the efficacy of medical cannabis as a form of treatment continues to be realized, and it is through initiatives like these that Weedmaps is able to further educate individuals on cannabis’ potential and ultimately work towards moving legislation forward.”

The VA has taken a stance that it is “required to follow all federal laws, including those regarding marijuana. As long as the Food and Drug Administration classifies marijuana as Schedule I [substance], VA health care providers may not recommend it or assist veterans to obtain it.”

Cannabis is categorized as a Schedule 1 drug within the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which defines it as a substance with no currently accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse, as dangerous as heroin, and more dangerous than opium, cocaine, and methamphetamine. That categorization puts VA doctors — and their patients — firmly between a rock and a hard place.

But it’s the veterans who are suffering.

“One of the great tragedies of our time is the failure to adequately address the needs of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said in Stars and Stripes. Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Blumenauer added that for some veterans, marijuana and cannabis derivatives are lifesavers that keep them from using addictive pain medications such as opioids.

Recently, three bipartisan bills were introduced that would protect veterans who use cannabis from losing their benefits. The bills also would allow VA doctors to not only discuss cannabis as a treatment option, but also offer the necessary recommendations to obtain medical marijuana.

The physical and mental health of active-duty service members, veterans, and first responders is a rising concern. Common health issues faced by those who serve include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, and anxiety. Suicide rates are also twice that of the civilian population. Each day, about 22 veterans take their own lives..

Research Solutions

In Massachusetts, researchers have mounted a national survey that seeks to help educate elected officials, government department heads, and the public about the health benefits of cannabis use by those who served in the military. 

In March 2019, a coalition of academic, medical and veterans’ groups launched the Veterans Health and Medical Cannabis Research Study to understand veterans health statuses, treatments, medications, cannabis use, access to insurance, and quality of life. 

The researchers are seeking to expand their participant pool nationwide to collect enough data to convince officials that cannabis has medicinal value.

Preliminary data from the anonymous study already has shown that veterans are reducing the need for over-the-counter prescriptions for pain and stomach ailments, as well as reducing or eliminating the use of opioids for chronic pain.

To help plead the cause of research on cannabis, a range of veterans groups have testified on Capitol Hill about their urgent need for cannabis reform that would allow federal agencies to embrace research on medical marijuana.

Legislative Solutions

Veterans groups that support medicinal cannabis have seen many congressional bills and resolutions come and go without ever solving their pressing medical issues. High rates of traumatic brain injury, PTSD, chronic pain, and other ailments add to veterans’ alarming suicide rates.

“Time and again, we’ve seen very similar efforts, and time and again, they’ve been canceled or Congress decides not to vote on them or allow them to get to the floor for debate,” said Robert Kowalski, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served for five years as a security forces member and completed two combat tours in Iraq. 

Legislators nationwide have repeatedly introduced bills to help veterans access cannabis as an effective alternative treatment for physical and psychological wounds.

In a recent interview with HelloMD, Augustis said the Veterans Cannabis Group aims to “ultimately make it so veterans have the ability to access cannabis through the VA. The VA is where most veterans get their medication from, so they really should be able to get their doctors’ recommendation and medical cannabis through the VA.”

As awareness grows about the usefulness and need for medical marijuana research, veterans’ groups nationwide find that they now have other advocacy groups, individuals, and businesses adding to their ranks. 

Bolstering this effort on behalf of veterans in California is State Treasurer Ma. “That’s why I am honored to be supporting this valuable forum to help raise awareness to the obstacles these heroes face in accessing medical cannabis but also to find workable policy solutions to bring relief to the nearly two million veterans living in this great state,” she said.

New Outlets for Advocacy 

With the debut of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in August 2019, visitors can learn for themselves how policies shaped and reshaped marijuana for decades. Weedmaps is at the forefront of the effort to inform policymakers, reveal truths surrounding cannabis, and with the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, bring to life the tortuous history of cannabis around the world. Veterans and their issues are highlighted within the museum. 

“At Weedmaps, we recognize that many veterans depend on cannabis for their medicinal needs. However, the current policies in place for medical cannabis are simply not enough to ensure safe and reliable access for vets,” said Steven Jung, Chief Operating Officer at Weedmaps and a U.S. Army veteran. “From implementing social equity programs to driving awareness around policies or impeding issues that directly impact them, we will continue to support and advocate for military veterans.”

 

For military members, veterans, and first responders, Weedmaps aims to make cannabis legal, safe, and accessible. The Weedmaps Museum of Weed tells the story of the advocates who’ve kept the legalization movement alive in order to offer a dose of compassion to those in need. Discounted tickets for military and first responders are on sale now. (Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash)

This content is sponsored by Weedmaps.

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Legendary Artifacts You’ll Find Only at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed tells the story of cannabis through a bevy of iconic artifacts and unforgettable Instagrammable moments. The immersive exhibitions send visitors through the highs and lows of this ubiquitous plant. 

Although it’s difficult to replicate the experience without seeing it in person, you may want to know what to expect before you show up. Here’s a small dose of the kind of artifacts you’ll see while wandering wide-eyed through the Weedmaps Museum of Weed.

The Ebers Papyrus, c. 1550 BC – Ancient Egypt

Cannabis was recommended as medicine dating as far back as 1550 BC. An enhanced portion of the Ebers Papyrus, which contained cannabis as a remedy, from ancient Egypt is on display at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in Hollywood, California. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Long before cannabis legalization efforts took root in the United States and in other parts of the world, the plant was being used by our earliest human ancestors in a variety of inventive ways, including for medical use. At the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, you’ll find an enhanced portion of the Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medicinal text that discusses the use of cannabis as a treatment for gonorrhea, inflammation, and other ailments. This recreated text contains the glyph sequence “šmšmt,” which many Egyptologists have equated to the word hemp.

Where Can You Find This Artifact? Exhibit 1

Samurai Armor, 1600s–1880s – Japan

Hemp was lightweight and durable, making it a hardy fiber for samurai armor in the Edo period of Japan. The armor is one of the global artifacts showing cannabis’s versatility at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in Hollywood, California. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

As you enter the exhibit where you’ll find the Ebers Papyrus and other historical artifacts, you might be taken aback by a looming figure decked out in samurai armor. No need to fear, there’s no warrior inside of that ancient husk of Japanese armor. There are, however, several parts of the mid-Edo period armor that is made using hemp, including the helmet linings, belts, tassels, and other accoutrements. This cannabis-derived material was commonly utilized in samurai armor for its toughness and resilience, withstanding constant use and providing a surprising amount of comfort. 

Where Can You Find This Artifact? Exhibit 1

Betsy Ross Flag – 1792 USA

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed displays a reproduction of the Betsy Ross flag for the Revolutionary War-era United States. The flag was thought to be made of hemp. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Not only was hemp a versatile tool that benefited ancient human civilization, it also played a pivotal role in the founding of the United States of America. In fact, when Betsy Ross designed an early iteration of the American flag, it was said to be made entirely of hemp. The Weedmaps Museum of Weed hanging in the exhibit is a massive handmade reproduction of the hemp flag.  

Where Can You Find This Artifact? Exhibit 1

1971 – Brotherhood of Eternal Love, Laguna

Surf’s up! This surfboard contains a hollow opening, which Orange County surfers smuggled hashish into California in the early 1970s. See this “Hippie Mafia” surfboard at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in Hollywood, California. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

In order to evade the rough waves of cannabis prohibition under President Richard Nixon’s administration, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love took a unique approach to smuggling cannabis and psychedelic drugs into the United States. In the early 1970s, this small group of surfers from Orange County would hollow out surfboards to smuggle hundreds of pounds of hashish from Afghanistan into California, as well as psychedelic drugs. 

The lives of the so-called “Hippie Mafia” members were chronicled in the 2016 documentary “Orange Sunshine,” directed by William Kirkley. You can find a vibrant Brotherhood of Eternal Love surfboard with a hollow smuggling chamber, which was provided by Kirkley, propped up in the counterculture exhibit, surrounded by photographs that help bring their remarkable mischief to life.   

Where Can You Find This Artifact? Exhibit 3

Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 Document

In the wake of the drug overdose deaths of athletes Len Bias and Don Rogers within a week of each other in June 1986, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The most severe aspect of the law was mandatory minimum prison sentences for drugs, including cannabis. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

A despairing product of the war on drugs, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 helped ramp up prosecution of cannabis users and increased spending for the operation by $1.7 billion. Ignited by the high-profile deaths of basketball star Len Bias and football player Don Rogers, both from drug overdoses, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed by Congress and President Ronald Reagan almost immediately after it was introduced on the House floor.   

The document allocated funds to build more prisons, promote anti-drug education, and set up treatment centers. The worst aspect of the act was the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, which included cannabis-related offenses. While the results of this measure will certainly make your stomach turn, it remains a key symbol of the detrimental War on Drugs. You can find a recreation of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, along with gut-wrenching statistics that demonstrate its impact on communities of color, on full display at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed. 

Where Can You Find This Artifact? Exhibit 5

The History of NORML

Since its founding in 1970, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has been the leading pro-cannabis advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., and numerous local chapters.(Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

No organization has single-handedly strengthened cannabis legalization on a global scale than the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Founded in 1970 by Keith Stroup, NORML was initially funded by a $5,000 donation from the Playboy Foundation. There’s no overstating the important role that NORML played in bringing together cannabis activists, supporting independent research, and swaying the public by vocalizing the plant’s immense medical benefits. 

NORML is continuing to expand its reach as the legalization movement spreads, currently boasting a massive network including 135 chapters and 550 lawyers. At the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, you can explore the roots of this organization by browsing our collection of NORML memorabilia, which includes a classic collection of pins, signs, and other memorabilia that showcase the organization’s role in accelerating legalization efforts across the globe. 

Where Can You Find These Artifacts? Exhibit 6 

New Drug Program – Marijuana Tin

While the U.S. government waged a high-profile war on drugs, a much lower-profile program by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) distributed tins of marijuana prerolls to patients. One of the tins, which holds about 300 prerolls, is on display at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in Hollywood, California. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

Despite the relentless crackdown on cannabis that took place as part of the war on drugs, in 1976, the federal government actually started sending cannabis to a select group of patients. Created by the Food and Drug Administration, the Investigational New Drug Program (Compassionate Access IND) provided free cannabis to patients, sending a tin can full of pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes. As you walk through the somber setting of a hospital room at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, you’ll notice an original iteration of this tin can, which is still filled with the very plant that helped so many even during.

Where Can You Find This Artifact? Exhibit 6 

1992 – San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed replicates the U.S.’s first medical marijuana collective, the San Francisco Buyers Club. Founded by the late gay-rights and cannabis legalization activist Dennis Peron, the Buyers Club in San Francisco’s Castro District distributed weed to HIV/AIDS patients amid the health crisis in the 1990s. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

While traversing through the emotional twists and turns of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, visitors will find themselves entering the re-creation of the very place where the medical cannabis legalization movement was started. Step inside of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, an underground medical cannabis collective started in 1992 by legendary marijuana and gay-rights activist Dennis Peron.

Despite being arrested for dealing cannabis on several occasions, Peron continued providing weed to patients suffering from HIV/AIDS and other health conditions, operating out of a small cafe in the historic Castro District. Peron and other cannabis advocates were responsible for Proposition 215, the unprecedented initiative that passed in 1996, making California the first state to legalize medical cannabis use for patients in need. 

Among the many artifacts decorating our rendition of the Cannabis Buyers Club, you’ll find touching photos of Peron and others iconic activists who helped spark the legalization movement of today, along with an authentic Cannabis Buyers Club door sign, whiteboard menu with the club’s daily cannabis offerings, Proposition 215 memorabilia, and other priceless tokens of weed history. 

Where Can You Find This Artifact? Exhibit 6 

General Admission and VIP Tickets for the Weedmaps Museum of Weed are available at themuseumofweed.com

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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8 Reasons the Weedmaps Museum of Weed is the Can’t-Miss Pop-Up of the Summer

As you make your summer fun plans this year, consider taking a wild ride in Hollywood, California, through the long and endlessly intriguing history of cannabis. 

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed, which opened Aug. 3, 2019, is an immersive, interactive, and highly educational experience meant to demystify the oft-maligned and painfully misunderstood cannabis plant. The story of weed is full of interesting people — growers, activists, and stoners who were able to spread the good word of weed despite decades of government prohibition.

An interactive timeline wall allows guests of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed to guide a ring with their arm movements over a date to learn about newsworthy moments from that period. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

And now, for a limited time, you’ll have the opportunity to explore their story, and in turn, the story of cannabis, through a living, breathing collage of history, culture, plant science, and more. Along the way, you may discover just how much culture and cannabis shaped each other.

Just so you have all the deets you need to join us on this ride through the true story of cannabis, here are eight reasons to visit the Weedmaps Museum of Weed. 

1. Telling the Entire Story of Cannabis

We know that the world’s most notorious plant has gotten a historically bad rap. That’s largely because nearly 100 years of propaganda and misinformation have twisted our view of cannabis.

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed displays historical artifacts, including a replica of the Betsy Ross flag, that demonstrate the versatility and durability of hemp as a fiber and a material. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

The Museum of Weed explains how anti-marijuana propaganda came to be and examines the long-standing cultural wedge between people and the plant. By exploring the history of weed, from the beginnings of prohibition all the way to the progress of weed legalization, industry, and technology, the Weedmaps Museum of Weed tells the whole story of cannabis. 

2. It’s Actually Educational

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed won’t be a glorified Instagram trap. Though all the engaging, eye-popping elements you’ve come to expect from a branded museum are in place, the Weedmaps Museum of Weed is also designed with a wealth of in-depth cannabis knowledge to share, providing an educational journey through seven era-specific exhibits and a plant lab section, which will include:

  • An interactive terpene display that lets visitors smell the most common fragrances found in weed.
  • Digital visualization of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the mechanism in our bodies that interacts with the chemical compounds in weed to cause euphoric and therapeutic effects.
  • An exhibit that explains what the future of cannabis looks like: extraction techniques, how concentrates and wax are made, and all of the ways we could be consuming weed.
The Weedmaps Museum of Weeds offers an interactive simulation of the entourage effect in action. Guests can manipulate the selection of cannabinoids and terpenes by moving a set of blocks, then watch as they are projected on a large screen in front of them. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

3. Championing Advocacy and Legalization

Not only is cannabis history and education core to the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, so is advocacy. Through the museum’s visually stimulating exhibits, you’ll learn about generations of cannabis activists, artists, and political figures who fought to expand cannabis knowledge and access throughout the decades of prohibition and oppression. Names such as Dennis Peron, “Brownie Mary,” and Keith Stroup will become familiar, and you’ll also have the opportunity to write a letter to your elected representatives and advocate for pro-cannabis legislation

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed reproduces the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, a pioneering outlet for the LGBTQ movement and acceptance of marijuana as medicine. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

One of the most exciting features of the museum’s “Legalization” exhibit, a legalization map will show visitors where active cannabis users are throughout the U.S., how many votes, state by state, were in favor of cannabis legalization, and other information to give a clearer idea of where the future of cannabis might take us. 

4. But Also, do it for the Gram

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed may be focused on cannabis education and advocacy, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of incredible photo-ops. One of the museum’s defining characteristics is that it will be Instagrammable as well as educational. Grammable moments abound throughout the museum, but all of them are tethered to the key ideas, historical moments, cultural milestones, and scientific facts that make up the true story of weed.

The Weedmaps Museum of Weed is divided into key cultural eras. One era is the countercultural period of the mid-20th century. It is painted in bright, psychedelic colors and decorated with protest slogans of the time. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

From the disorienting hall of mirrors and propaganda in the “Age of Madness” to the swirling tunnel of warmth, colors, music and protest imagery of the “Counterculture Revolution” and on into the stark, oppressive contrast of Reagan’s “Entrapment” age (marked by long, narrow hallways covered in uniform, black-and-white messaging from the “Just Say No” campaign), the serious emotional impact of our shared cannabis history is present in every visual flourish.  

Bottom line: There’s plenty in the museum that will capture the imagination. Each corner you explore and every picture you take at the Weedmaps Museum of Weed is also an opportunity to change your perspective. 

5. The Cafe in the Museum is Not Joking Around

No stoner wants to go to a weed museum only to be met with the same pre-wrapped egg salad sandwich and cheap coffee they’d find at any ordinary museum cafe. In an effort to bring the Los Angeles weed scene a culinary experience that matches the allure of the pop-up museum experience, the Weedmaps Museum of Weed is collaborating with the award-winning Crateful Catering to bring a foodie-worthy menu to the museum cafe. 

“Wake & Bake” items including Sweet Blue Dream (blue algae coconut yogurt parfaits with housemade granola, and basil simple syrup), toasted sandwiches such as the Blazed Beef & Cheese (braised beef, horseradish cheese “whiz,” and onion jam) and “Munchies” such as the Jacked Nachos and Korean Kush noodles are just a few food options you can fill up on before or after your ride through the exhibits. 

Visitors please note: There won’t be cannabis or CBD products for sale or consumption onsite.    

6. Come for the Dope Merch

Leave the Weedmaps Museum of Weed repping the cause in style. Stop by the gift shop for a lit selection of custom apparel and pop-cultural cannabis keepsakes. 

A visit to the Weedmaps Museum of Weed would not be complete without a visit to the gift shop. Buy Weedmaps Museum of Weed apparel, pick up the official program, or purchase gear you need for the perfect sesh. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

The swag section — T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and other accessories — will heavily feature a variety of logos and designs that emulate the past, present, and future of cannabis — from the iconography of the “Reefer Madness” era to the psychedelic poster art of the counterculture ’60s and on into the cutting-edge look of 21st century weed activism.

Also available in the gift shop will be the “Weedmaps Book of Weed,” a high-minded hardbound coffee table book with visually stunning photos of the cannabis plant and a one-of-a-kind text that chronicles the intricate story and science of weed.      

7. A Great Opportunity to Share Cannabis Knowledge

Here’s the thing about all you stoners out there: You’re smart, you know weed better than anyone, and you’re probably tired of having to defend yourself against the stereotypes associated with your lifestyle. 

The Weedmaps Book of Weed is the companion program to the Weedmaps Museum of Weed. Buy it with some swag. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

For all the weed enthusiasts out there who are fed up with trying to defend the many merits of weed, the museum is here to better acquaint your friends and family with the plant and provide the info that may assuage their impression of weed as something seedy that makes people lazy. 

TL;DR: Weed is cool and interesting. Now there’s a museum to help you prove it. 

8. It’s a Unique, Los Angeles Experience

Nestled near the heart of Hollywood, the museum fits right in with the types of shops and experiences that Los Angeles does best. Whether you’re dropping in at the Comedy Store to see a lineup of modern standup titans, catching a midnight showing of Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie on 35 millimeter film at the New Beverly Theater, or grabbing a Weedmaps x Afters ice cream cone at Smorgasburg, the open-air Sunday food market in the Arts District, the Weedmaps Museum of Weed will fit seamlessly into your list of go-to L.A. destinations this summer. 

General Admission and VIP Tickets for the Weedmaps Museum of Weed are available at themuseumofweed.com

Feature image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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For Military and First Responders, the Struggle for Medical Marijuana Access is Severe

Veterans have become a vocal, visible source of advocacy for medical marijuana research and legalization. The glaring needs have reached crisis proportions with soaring rates of suicide, opioid abuse, and untreated mental health issues.

Yet the barriers to providing medical marijuana to active-duty members of the military, veterans, and first responders are daunting. Veterans are able to discuss using cannabis with their doctors, but clinicians with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are not able to discuss cannabis use or write a recommendation for medical marijuana in accordance with state law. Veterans also fear repercussions as severe as losing VA benefits entirely.

The VA has taken a stance that it is “required to follow all federal laws, including those regarding marijuana. As long as the Food and Drug Administration classifies marijuana as Schedule I [substance], VA health care providers may not recommend it or assist veterans to obtain it.”

Cannabis is categorized as a Schedule I drug within the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which defines it as a substance with no currently accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse, as dangerous as heroin, and more dangerous than opium, cocaine, and methamphetamine. That categorization puts VA doctors — and their patients — firmly between a rock and a hard place.

But it’s the veterans who are suffering.

“One of the great tragedies of our time is the failure to adequately address the needs of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said in Stars and Stripes. Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Blumenauer added that for some veterans, marijuana and cannabis derivatives are lifesavers that keep them from using addictive pain medications such as opioids.

Recently, three bipartisan bills were introduced that would protect veterans who use cannabis from losing their benefits. The bills also would allow VA doctors to not only discuss cannabis as a treatment option, but also offer the necessary recommendations to obtain medical marijuana.

The physical and mental health of those active in the military, veterans, and first responders is of rising concern. Common health issues faced by those who serve include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, and anxiety. Suicide rates are also twice that of the civilian population. Each day, about 22 veterans take their own lives.

Research Solutions

In Massachusetts, researchers have mounted a national survey that seeks to help educate elected officials, government department heads, and the public about the health benefits of cannabis use by those who served in the military. 

In March 2019, a coalition of academic, medical and veterans’ groups launched the Veterans Health and Medical Cannabis Research Study to understand veterans health statuses, treatments, medications, cannabis use, access to insurance, and quality of life. 

The researchers are seeking to expand their participant pool nationwide to collect enough data to convince officials that cannabis has medicinal value.

Preliminary data from the anonymous study already has shown that veterans are reducing the need for over-the-counter prescriptions for pain and stomach ailments, as well as reducing or eliminating the use of opioids for chronic pain.

To help plead the cause of research on cannabis, a range of veterans groups have testified on Capitol Hill about their urgent need for cannabis reform that would allow federal agencies to embrace research on medical marijuana.

Legislative Solutions

Veterans groups that support medicinal cannabis have seen many congressional bills and resolutions come and go without ever solving their pressing medical issues. High rates of traumatic brain injury, PTSD, chronic pain, and other ailments add to veterans’ alarming suicide rates.

“Time and again, we’ve seen very similar efforts, and time and again, they’ve been canceled or Congress decides not to vote on them or allow them to get to the floor for debate,” said Robert Kowalski, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served for five years as a security forces member and completed two combat tours in Iraq. 

Legislators nationwide have repeatedly introduced bills to help veterans access cannabis as an effective alternative treatment for physical and psychological wounds.

Aaron Augustus, founder of the California-based nonprofit collective Veterans Cannabis Group, states its mission is to “advocate and support the use of medicinal cannabis to treat the symptoms of combat-related PTSD for U.S. military veterans.”

In a recent interview, Augustus said the Veterans Cannabis Group aims to “ultimately make it so veterans have the ability to access cannabis through the VA. The VA is where most veterans get their medication from, so they really should be able to get their doctors’ recommendation and medical cannabis through the VA.”

As awareness grows about the usefulness and need for medical marijuana research, veterans’ groups nationwide find that they now have other advocacy groups, individuals, and businesses adding to their ranks. 

New Outlets for Advocacy 

With the debut of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed in August, visitors can learn for themselves how policies shaped and reshaped marijuana for decades. Weedmaps is at the forefront of the effort to inform policymakers, reveal truths surrounding cannabis, and with the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, bring to life the tortuous history of cannabis around the world. Veterans and their issues are highlighted within the museum. 

In appreciation of service members and first responders, and in solidarity with achieving access for all, Weedmaps is offering military members, veterans, and first responders discounted ticket prices to the Weedmaps Museum of Weed. For more information visit TheMuseumOfWeed.com

For military members, veterans, and first responders, Weedmaps aims to make cannabis legal, safe, and accessible. Opening Aug. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles, the Weedmaps Museum of Weed tells the story of the advocates who’ve kept the legalization movement alive in order to offer a dose of compassion to those in need. Discounted tickets for military and first responders are on sale now. (Photo by Israel Palacio on Unsplash)

This content is sponsored by Weedmaps. 

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