Monthly Archives: January 2018

Review: ‘Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America’

Well researched and packed with insightful analysis, Emily Dufton’s Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America (Basic Books) chronicles how cannabis went from verboten to Main Street commerce in the U.S during the last 50 years.

When did the effort to end pot prohibition exactly begin in America? Trivial Pursuit fans will learn that the first modern marijuana-law-reform activist was Lowell Eggemeier, who in 1964 lit up a joint in San Francisco’s Hall of Justice and dared police to arrest him, which they did. “I’m starting a campaign to legalize marijuana-smoking,” he declared. A year later, LeMar (short for Legalize Marijuana) was founded (without Eggemeier’s help).

Through numerous interviews with many of the principals involved in early cannabis-law reform efforts, Dufton (pictured above) aptly discusses the origins of the first three separately organized pioneering groups: LeMar and Amorphia, which in short time evolved into the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), founded in 1970.

With NORML leading the public charge, Congress formed a commission that recommended decriminalizing marijuana in the 1972 Shafer Report. Despite President Richard Nixon disparaging its findings, 11 states decriminalized pot in the ’70s, starting with Oregon in 1973.

Growing Pains a Month Into California’s Market Launch

For about a month now, California’s adult use market has been open for business and the market is booming. About thirty days into the world’s largest adult use market launch, we are beginning to see side effects of the growing pains that come with adjusting the massive industry.

Consumers are also feeling sticker shock as the new taxes add up to a 40% increase in price.While the regulatory and licensing roll out has been relatively smooth, some municipalities are slower than others in welcoming the adult use cannabis industry. It took Los Angeles weeks longer than other counties to begin licensing dispensaries. Meanwhile, retailers in San Diego say the first month brought a huge influx of customers, challenging their abilities to meet higher-than-expected demand.

Businesses are struggling to deal with large amounts of cash, but California State Treasurer John Chiang may have a solution in store. Yesterday, his department announced they are planning to create a taxpayer-backed bank for cannabis businesses.

Reports of possible supply shortages are irking some businesses, fearing that the state hasn’t licensed enough growers and distributors to handle the high demand. Consumers are also feeling sticker shock as the new taxes add up to a 40% increase in price.

CA cannabis testing chart
California’s plan for phasing in testing requirements.

In the regulatory realm, some are concerned that a loophole in the rules allows bigger cultivation operations to squeeze out the competition from smaller businesses. The California Growers Association …

Honoring Dennis Peron

The medical cannabis community is mourning the death of medical cannabis pioneer Dennis Peron, who died on Saturday at the age of seventy-two. Dennis was the founder of the legendary San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club in San Francisco and a crusader for the right to safe access to medical cannabis in California. Called the “Father of Medical Marijuana,” he inspired the grassroots movement that adopted Proposition 215 legalizing medical cannabis in California in 1996.


Aurora Leads Cannabis Import Race in Italy by Winning (Mostly) Exclusive Rights

Just as the dust had settled on the news that Canadian LP Aurora had signed agreements to finance a major growing facility in Denmark, the company also added another European feather to its cannabis cap.

On January 18, the company announced that it is the sole and exclusive winner of an EU-wide tender bid to begin to supply medical cannabis to the Italian government through the Ministry of Defense. Why is this federal agency in charge instead of the federal ministry of health? So far, the Italian cannabis program has been overseen exclusively by the Italian military.

pedanios cannabis
Pedanios cannabis, produced in Canada and imported through Germany

But the military just isn’t cut out to cultivate cannabis for the entire medical needs of a country, which should seem obvious. And that is where the Canadian LPs apparently are coming into play.

There were two stages to the bid, with Pedanios, Aurora’s German-based arm prequalifying in the first. In the final round, Pedianos won exclusive rights to begin supplying the government with medical cannabis.

What is interesting, however, is what this says not only about the potential growth of the cannabis market in Italy, but beyond that, Germany.

A German-Canadian Sourced Italian Product?

Pedanios, who won the bid, is the German-based arm of Aurora, one of Canada’s largest LPs. And Italian medical cannabis is now about to be routed by them from Canada, via Berlin, to market locally via pharmacies. It …

10 Treatment Methods to Reduce Mold in Cannabis

As the operations manager at Los Sueños Farms, the largest outdoor cannabis farm in the country, I was tasked with the challenge of finding a yeast and mold remediation treatment method that would ensure safe and healthy cannabis for all of our customers while complying with stringent regulations.

While outdoor cannabis is not inherently moldy, outdoor farms are vulnerable to changing weather conditions. Wind transports spores, which can cause mold. Each spore is a colony forming unit if plated at a lab, even if not germinated in the final product. In other words, perfectly good cannabis can easily fail microbial testing with the presence of benign spores.

Fun Fact: one square centimeter of mold can produce over 2,065,000,000 spores.

If all of those landed on cannabis it would be enough to cause over 450 pounds of cannabis to fail testing, even if those spores remained ungerminated.

Photo credit: Steep Hill- a petri dish of mold growth from tested cannabis

It should also be known that almost every food item purchased in a store goes through some type of remediation method to be considered safe for sale. Cannabis is finally becoming a legitimized industry and we will see regulations that make cannabis production look more like food production each year.

Regulations in Colorado (as well as Nevada and Canada) require cannabis to have a total yeast and mold count (TYMC) of ≤ 10,000 colony forming units per gram. We …

Valley delegate introduces bill expanding the uses of medical cannabis oil

By Marina Barnett for WHSV3

Beth Collins, who is a Senior Director of Government Relations and External Affairs at Americans for Safe Access, said cannabis oil was the last option for her daughter, who suffers from epilepsy. She wants this bill to help other patients who are struggling with symptoms to get the help they need as well. The new bill lets doctors make that decision, instead of lawmakers.

“We just don’t think that’s a good approach for anybody, or fair, so we wanted to let doctors decide and Senator Dunnavant agreed to submit the bill,” said Collins.


Study: Marijuana Smoke Exposure Not Linked To Poor Lung Health

Long-term exposure to cannabis smoke is not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function, according to clinical data published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases.

A team of investigators led by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health assessed the relationship between marijuana use and respiratory function and symptoms in a cohort of 2,300 subjects, many of whom also smoked tobacco.

Authors reported, “Neither current nor former marijuana use was associated with increased risk of cough, wheeze, or chronic bronchitis when compared to never marijuana users after adjusting for covariates. … Current and former marijuana smokers had significantly higher FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) … when compared to never users. … Both current and former marijuana use was associated with significantly less quantitative emphysema … when compared to never users, even after adjusting for age, … current tobacco smoking pack years, and BMI. … In agreement with other published studies, we also did not find that marijuana use was associated with more obstructive lung disease.”

The long-term combined use of tobacco and cannabis also was not found to be associated with any additive adverse effects on the lungs. Authors concluded, “Among older adults with a history of tobacco use, marijuana use does not appear to increase risk for adverse lung function. … There may be no to little increased risk of marijuana use for a further increase in respiratory symptoms or adverse effects on lung function among those …

First Hand, “First-Timer” Lobby Day Recap

On Sunday, January 21st & Monday the 22nd, NORML members along with non-member cannabis-reform-supporters gathered at the general assembly in Virginia for a Lobby Day. I [Nicole] was among the participants in this specific effort to advocate for marijuana legislative reform. Having lived in Virginia my whole life and being a current constituent of Representative Tim Hugo [R] and Senator David Marsden [D], this definitely felt like my call-to-action. This was my first time lobbying, and I am grateful my introductory experience was in support of sensible cannabis reform, something I so vehemently endorse on a personal level.

Our purpose in gathering was in order to influence, and essentially demand, lawmaker support for HB 1251, and SB 111. These legislative works would legalize medical cannabis oil under physician recommendation [to include all diagnoses, not just intractable epilepsy] as well as decriminalize simple possession charges, respectively.

If you have ever considered joining the marijuana movement, but don’t think you know enough to contribute effectively or even where to begin, never fear! On Sunday I was among numerous fellow supporters in attendance of a conference orchestrated by Virginia NORML’s Executive Director, Jenn Michelle Pedini. There, keynote speakers covered marijuana policy, how to effectively persuade with facts and knowledge regarding marijuana, and went on to take an in-depth look at how prohibition has negatively affected citizens and society. This abundantly informative and motivational colloquium couldn’t have prepared me more to speak with lawmakers …

Exclusive: Coachella Promoter Donated to Anti-Pot Groups

The promoters of the annual Coachella music festival, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), recently announced that cannabis use would not be allowed at the event this April, even though recreational marijuana was legalized in California in 2016 and commercial sales began Jan. 1. The city of Indio, where the festival is held, has banned new pot businesses, but Coachella is on private property. So what gives?

The event’s promoter made the call. “NO Drugs or Drug Paraphernalia, Marijuana, Marijuana products will be allowed,” the Coachella website warns. That’s the rule for camping at Coachella as well.

Anschutz’s History of Contributions to Antidrug Groups

While Coachella’s marijuana ban is standard festival policy, it’s not widely known that AEG founder Philip Anschutz’s private family foundation has donated thousands of dollars to antidrug groups over the last few years, including Kevin Sabet’s Sam Inc. (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and Smart Colorado.

The Anschutz Foundation’s 2016 tax return.

According to its tax returns, in 2016, the Anschutz Foundation donated $50,000 to SAM Inc., and another $110,000 to its partner organization, Smart Colorado. It gave another $50,000 to Smart Colorado in 2015. The goal was to counter the impact of Amendment 64, the recreational-marijuana legalization initiative the state’s voters passed in 2012.

Arguably The Individual Most Responsible For The Rise Of The Medical Marijuana Movement In California, And Eventually Nationwide, Passed Away This Weekend

The individual most responsible for the medical marijuana movement in CA, and eventually in more than 30 states across this country, was San Francisco gay rights and marijuana advocate Dennis Peron, who died this past weekend from lung cancer at age 71.

Peron was drafted and sent to Vietnam in 1966, where he first discovered marijuana. When his tour of duty ended and he returned home, he also managed to bring two pounds of marijuana with him – starting a career that he later acknowledged would last more than 40-years. In the 1970s, he opened the Big Top, a café in San Francisco where marijuana was openly sold and customers could smoke and socialize. The café was eventually closed by San Francisco police, who arrested Peron on numerous occasions.

Peron was among the earliest marijuana and gay rights advocates to recognize that marijuana could provide relief to HIV-positive and AIDS patients. In 1991 he organized the nation’s first medical marijuana initiative, Proposition P,  approved by 80% of voters of San Francisco. Subsequently, he founded the nation’s first medical marijuana dispensary, the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club, where patients with HIV and other illnesses could openly buy, use and share marijuana.

The “buyers club” served as many as 11,000 patients before eventually being forced to close by the courts in 1998.

In 1996, with the help of Dale Gieringer and CA NORML, Peron organized the first state initiative to legalize medical …

NACB Releases Packaging and Labeling Standards for Public Review

Last week, the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) announced the publication of their Packaging and Labeling National Standard, initiating a comment period for public review. The NACB, which launched in June of 2017, is the first-ever self-regulatory organization (SRO) for cannabis businesses in the United States.

According to the press release, the Packaging and Labeling National Standard, the first standard for them to publish, is designed to help protect consumers and show regulators and financial institutions that members of NACB operate ethically and responsibly.

Andrew Kline, president of NACB

According to Andrew Kline, president of NACB, the standard is based on regulators’ priorities, among other stakeholder inputs. “The NACB believes that self-regulation is the most effective course of action for our members to control their own destiny in the face of regulators’ growing need to intervene,” says Kline. “The creation and adoption of national, voluntary standards that are aligned with regulators’ priorities takes input from government, NACB members, and subject matter experts into careful consideration. Through this process, the SRO identified product packaging and labeling as our first priority because it impacts so many issues related to health and safety.”

Here are some of the major areas the standard addresses, from the press release:

  • Child-resistant packaging guidelines for all cannabis products
  • Consistent labeling that identifies the cannabis product’s origin, cultivator and processor
  • Inclusion of warning statements regarding health risks associated with cannabis consumption, such as advising consumers

‘Mary Janes’ Documentary Features the Women of Weed

In a Marin County hotel room, a group of women are giggling, adjusting each other’s hair and posing for selfies. It’s pretty typical, until you hear the dialogue.

“Fuck Facebook!” one says

“Censorship is bullshit!” barks another.

Yes, this is not just any group of women, and this is not just another gathering of friends. We’d all come together to attend the world premiere of Mary Janes: The Women of Weed at the Mill Valley Film Festival on Oct. 8, but we weren’t as happy as we should’ve been, given that we were hours away from our documentary debut.

As pioneers in an …

California Medical-Marijuana Pioneer Dennis Peron Passes Away

After a long battle with lung cancer and COPD, beloved California marijuana activist Dennis Peron passed away today at 2:30 pm PT at the Veteran’s Hospital in San Francisco. He was 71.

Peron founded the medical-marijuana movement in San Francisco nearly three decades ago. Two years after Prop P (which he drafted) passed in San Francisco legalizing medical cannabis in 1991, Peron opened the Cannabis Buyers Club. By 1996, it had 10,000 members and a large storefront …

The Marijuana Justice Act Is the New Normal

Two weeks after Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened a crackdown on state-sanctioned marijuana programs in January, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif., pictured above), along with 18 cosponsors, introduced the Marijuana Justice Act into the House of Representatives. The bill is the most comprehensive piece of legislation ever introduced to end federal cannabis prohibition, and it also addresses the egregious harms it has wrought, particularly on marginalized communities.

It’s also the first time companion measures to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act have been introduced in both chambers of Congress. The Senate version of the Marijuana Justice Act, introduced in 2017 by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), provides relief for people either convicted or currently incarcerated for federal cannabis crimes, by creating a national program to expunge their criminal records.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, African Americans are arrested four times as often as whites for marijuana offenses, although both races consume cannabis at roughly the same rate. One of the ways the Marijuana Justice Act would work to reverse this disparity is by monitoring the states that choose not to legalize cannabis. If any state does not reduce the racial disparity in pot-arrest rates, it would lose various federal funding streams, including for prison construction.

The bill would also allow all federal inmates serving time for sales and possession of marijuana to petition the courts for resentencing. Though this would affect only the relatively small number of individuals …

Review: The War on Drugs’ ‘A Deeper Understanding’

Every generation needs its guitar hero, and unassuming frontman Adam Granduciel sets out to claim that mantle on The War on Drugs’ fourth album and major-label debut, A Deeper Understandinga title that almost begs you to don the headphones and, well, “get into it.”

The Philadelphia-by-way-of-Oakland sextet originally sported fellow garage-band uberhero Kurt Vile, but this is now Granduciel’s baby. His glistening solos stud each of the 10 songs, all but one clocking in at over five and a half minutes. At the album’s center is the epic 11-minute-plus masterpiece, “Thinking of a Place,” its “An Ocean in Between the Waves” (from 2014’s Lost in the Dream). It recalls the heyday of Haight-Ashbury psychedelic shamans like the Grateful Dead or Quicksilver Messenger Service in its depiction of a self-referential sonic universe: “And it feels so very real/Oh, it was so full of love.”

The War on Drugs’ clever name is not intended as a comment on Richard Nixon’s ill-fated campaign, but an open-ended moniker that allows the band to defy categorization and float in the nether region between country, folk, rock and prog, gently cascading in songs like the opening “Up All Night” and the single, “Holding On,” with its video of death, rebirth and transcendence in a story of a man who loses a loved one, only to discover their spirit in a frolicking pony. “I keep moving to changes,” sings Granduciel, echoing the …

54 Senators And Representatives To President Trump: Don’t Let Sessions Break Your Marijuana Promise

On Wednesday, January 24th, fifty-four members of Congress representing both political parties sent a letter to President Trump denouncing the recent rescinding of the Cole Memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Led by Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Senate side and Representative Jared Polis in the House, the signers stated:

“These new policies have helped eliminate the black market sale of marijuana and allowed law enforcement to focus on real threats to public health and safety. This action by the Department of Justice has the potential to unravel efforts to build sensible drug policies that encourage economic development as we finally move away from antiquated practices that have hurt disadvantaged communities.”

The Cole Memo was a Justice Department memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states, directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

The signers further pointed out the during the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump declared that “we should leave (marijuana) up to the states.” You can read the full letter by clicking here.

At a time when the majority of states now are regulating marijuana use in some form, and when nearly

Vermont’s Legalization-Lite Shouldn’t Be the Model for Other States

Let’s be clear. The national headlines are incorrect. Vermont did not actually legalize cannabis this month. The Green Mountain State only enhanced its current decriminalization laws.

The on legislation signed on Jan. 22 by Republican Gov. Phil Scott (pictured above) improves the state’s law from decriminalization (where an ounce of cannabis drew a $200 fine for an adult, and personal cultivation was allowed only for medical purposes) to depenalization, where adults can legally possess an ounce, and can cultivate up to four cannabis plants. While it’s a historic first—the first law permitting possession of cannabis to be enacted by a state legislature instead of by voters—it does not allow a legal marketplace with taxes, licensing and consumer protections. That leaves the door open to the continued existence of a black market with arrests, prosecutions and incarceration.

The eight states that have actually legalized cannabis since 2012, creating a legal and regulated industry, are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. That Vermont’s law came through the legislature rather than by ballot initiative explains its conservative nature; Gov. Scott was reluctant to sign it. The legislation does create a commission that will review whether and how the state would adopt tax-and-regulate cannabis policies in the near future.

The Vermont law still flies directly into the face of a hostile Department of Justice that recently rescinded previous federal memos allowing states the autonomy to largely formulate their own progressive cannabis …

praNa Takes Lead in Reviving Hemp Clothing

In the mid-’90s, hemp bracelets and necklaces were ubiquitous among students and cannabis activists. Shirts, jeans, jackets and sneakers made from hemp showed up in shops across the country. High Times opened a store called Planet Hemp in downtown Manhattan.

But the hemp-clothing bubble didn’t last. Companies like Ecolution, Crucial Creations and Ohio Hempery closed their doors. The problem was high costs and inferior hemp imported from countries like China and Romania.

One current company that’s making stylish and practical hemp clothing is the Carlsbad, Calif.-based prAna. Founders and outdoor enthusiasts Beaver and Pam Theodosakis have been selling clothing for 24 years since starting the business in their garage. Their extensive line is available at and at retail stores like REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Eastern Mountain Sports, as well as their own prAna stores in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and El Segundo, Calif.; Denver and Boulder, Colo.; Portland, Ore.; and Edina, Wash.

“Our founders were introduced to hemp decades ago and always followed its development in apparel,” Andre Walker, who oversees brand engagement and partnerships at prAna, tells Freedom Leaf. “They realized very early on the benefits of the fiber and the minimal environmental impact the plant caused, which has kept it on our design and materials list.”

The First Map of the Cannabis Genome

Sunrise Genetics, Inc., the parent company for Hempgene and Marigene, announced last week they have successfully mapped the cannabis genome. The genome map was presented at the 26th Annual Plant and Animal Genome Conference in San Diego, CA during the panel “Cannabis Genomics: Advances and Applications.”

According to CJ Schwartz, chief executive officer of Sunrise Genetics, the full genome map will allow breeders to develop strains using DNA sequence information to complement phenotyping. “In this way a breeding program can be guided by the breeder versus blindly as it is for just pheno-hunting,” says Schwartz. “At the DNA level, we can identify what version of a set of genes a plant contains, and make predictions as to the phenotype, without ever growing the plant. As we make more and more gene markers, we have more genes to track, and breeding becomes more rapid, efficient and precise.” Schwartz says this is essential for breeding stable, repeatable plants. “A commercial strain will be grown in different environments, with solid genetics, the phenotype will mostly stay true, a term we call Genetic Penetrance.”

Ancestry-painted chromosomes for marijuana

Determining a plant’s DNA can be extremely valuable and completing the map of the genome now makes this more precise. It can serve as a point of proof, according to Schwartz, providing evidence of lineage in a breeding project and confirming the uniqueness and identity of a strain. The genome map can also allow breeders …