A Midsummer Hype’s Update

Greetings Champions!,

I hope all is well with you, I’ve had an action-packed couple months since my last update and wanted to go back and cover some of the stuff I was most excited about. This includes everything from stains, new political allies for the movement, and potential policy changes in places you might not have expected it.

The biggest thing to happen in a lot of people’s eyes was the passage of the Blumenauer-McClintock amendment in the House. The amendment is very similar to Blumenauer’s previous effort to prevent federal interference in state-legal medical marijuana programs, except this time around it’s for the recreational markets. Essentially the new amendment would block the feds from going after marijuana providers in full compliance with state law by preventing them from spending money on it.

Many have referred to the passage of the amendment in the House as the biggest day ever for cannabis on Capitol Hill, but Congress still has a ton of cannabis reform bills that have been filed this year.

Most exciting? Well, that would have to be House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s MORE Act, that he introduced in the House. “Top-tier” Presidential candidate Kamala Harris introduced the bill in the Senate. With the plan to deschedule marijuana being backed by the highest-ranking Democrat in the House on criminal justice issues, it really has the wind in its sails.

It’s currently under review by the House Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, Agriculture, Education and Labor, Ways and Means, Small Business, Natural Resources, and Oversight and Reform committees.

Even the co-chairs of the Cannabis Caucus are saying the bill is awesome, Rep. Barbara Lee said Nadler’s staff was diligent in reaching out the caucus for input. His staff also had the benefit of cherry-picking the best language from all the different marijuana bills that have been filed in recent years. Blumenauer even called it better than the SAFE Banking Act.

But even if it is, the discussions that have been happening around the SAFE Banking Act have been critical. Getting access to proper banking services is obviously a big deal for everybody, but it’s even more important for the mom and pop operations out there struggling to stay afloat in the transitioning industry. The size of their businesses makes them more susceptible to dealing with bad actors offering financial services.

Just hearing Congress talking like this has seen banks begin to soften their stance. Interestingly, one expert told me the credit unions working with the industry right now will likely still be the best after the regulations change. So stick with the people that were there for you when it mattered.

Sadly not everything was all groovy since my last check-in. The Emerald Triangle has been devastated by raids in recent weeks. Most of the raids happened on private parcels, so it’s a tough sell they were meant to go after cartels in national forests.

But there was plenty of positive progress all over the country. In Florida looks like legalization might make the ballot their next year! And one of the main dudes that helped pass medical just joined the team. They’ve already collected enough signatures to trigger a review of the language by Florida’s Supreme Court.

Finally, a positive note discovered IC Collective’s Ziablo. It’s my favorite strain of Summer along with Alien Labs’ Area 41. Enjoy the rest of Summer! Next time you hear from me the harvest should be in full swing!

Podcast Launch!

Hey Champions,

After much delay I’m finally getting my podcast going.

A lot of the time it’s just going to be me chatting about the stories I’m covering at the moment for a little bit, but I already have some really fun guests lined up for the not too distant future.

Shoutouts to everyone who encouraged the move. I’m thrilled to finally be pulling the trigger. Here is the first one.

Summer Growing Season Hype Level Threat: Elevated

Oh Man, it’s that time of year when the first light deps are in and all the full season stuff is all in the ground shooting for the sky! I love to sit around and ponder what people are up to for the season. What magic beans we don’t know about yet? And of course, the eventual results of everyone’s efforts!

The hill kids have returned from their global walkabouts to get back to the dirt. We should all be very thankful. As the market has been flooded with middle tier products attempting to be passed off as a Macallan whiskey, the actual crushers are still crushing it and back home to get to work. While the flood of cannabis into the market may make the percentage of quality product drop, it didn’t go anywhere and it isn’t all necessarily on the black market either.

A lot of great people were forced out of the game in the last few years, but it would be disingenuous to claim there weren’t any survivors up in the Emerald Triangle and in other spots. Those people aren’t really making a big deal about it because of what’s going on around them. Those people will grow great pot this summer. It will likely be some of the finest cannabis in the world.

I’m hoping for more of a gassy year than a fruity one. Remember that year everyone and their grandma grew Tangie, that was hilarious. And I like Tangie! I just didn’t think we needed that many metric tons of it as a community.

One of my friends just finished his first run of Cherry Punch! It was super fun and delicious. I convinced him to buy the pack at the first legal cannabis cup. He’s a busy guy so it took him a bit to get around to popping the pack, but it was definitely worth the wait! Symbiotic Genetics does great work.

Work has been good recently….

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I’m not sure if getting the cover of LA Weekly is a bigger deal than calling strains that made it to The Emerald Cup podium two years in a row. I think a lot of people that don’t understand the amount of pot in NorCal would point to the cover. I didn’t even know it was going to have Bolognese on it. Crazy.

I’m generally excited to watch everyone’s gardens develop over the next few months! Let me know what you’re growing this year! Especially if you’re doing any big propagation efforts on the hunt for a crazy pheno!

Happy Planting Season!

Hey all!

Long time, no talk! I hope all is well with you as we get into one of my favorite times of the year, planting season!

For most great farmers, be it indoor or outdoor, the process of growing marijuana starts well before any plants are in the ground. Getting your soil ready, stress testing new phenotypes for potential in the greenhouse, there is plenty to do this time of year.

One of the things I enjoy the most is hearing friends whittle down their lists of potential strains they’ll grow out in the summer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying your plants from a nursery, especially when you know the length they are going to provide you with clean genetics. Nevertheless, hearing someone run down the traits they’re hoping to see maximized from a genetic lineage they’ve been working with for years is a whole other level of fun.

Some of the cuts I’m most excited to see this year are the various Kush Mints crosses from Seed Junky, and Cherry Punch, which I presume there will be a lot of. I think the first Cherry Punch drop from Symbiotic Genetics was a bit late in the spring in 2018, so I’m really excited to see what people are able to do with it this year with a bit more time to get ready. I’ve seen a few legit all-star phenos of Cherry Punch for sure. One of my buddies has like three different versions he is looking forward to growing, and I’m looking forward to smoking!

One of the reasons I don’t post too much on here is because I’m writing a ton in general. You can keep up to date will all my stuff in Cannabis Now, L.A. Weekly, and everywhere else on my Muckrack¬†page. And if you want the convenience of having that content in your Facebook feed just like my page!

Keep crushing and keep an eye out for a bunch of 4/20 stuff I’m working on!

My Picks for The Best Weed of 2018

The champions over at Cannabis Now recently dropped my picks for the best pot of 2018.

Over the last few years, certain stories have fallen in my lap every year that are always such a pleasure to write. One I’m always the most excited to put together is my strain list for the year.

I spend most of my year trying to break cannabis news, but in many cases, I’m finding new angles on things I was a little late on or being the first U.S. coverage on something interesting and worthwhile. Which is an absolutely beautiful life I’m so thankful for, but I don’t really get to cover strains too much.

Usually, when I get to dive in on genetics and quality it’s around event coverage. I hit every booth at every event I go to and really dive into the spread. Then when I come across true Triple AAA grade cannabis I try and get as much info as they’re willing to share. Where did they get the cut? How many seeds did they pop to find that world-class phenotype? Maybe, if I’m lucky, they bred it! Then I try and recapture the enthusiasm as I go back and reflect on that experience from event to event for articles.

The other times I get to cover post are profiles. I really love diving in with some of the great breeders of the generation. When people like DJ Short, Mr. Sherbinski, or 3rd Gen Family are willing to give you their time to learn about their new projects or thoughts on the moment it’s obviously awesome. Those are also just a handful a year, but I try and put a lot in on those, especially for print.

So that is why this recap is so fun. It really encapsulates something I wish I could do 24/7, hunt down the best cannabis on the planet.

Reflections on Cannabis in 2018

As I sit here a week before Christmas, I look at the year in cannabis and think plenty of stuff went great, but we definitely left some folks behind.

Generally speaking, 2018 was super fun and a lot of folks totally crushed it. We have even more access to medical marijuana across the U.S., even now pending in places like Utah! I can’t help but think of how wild things look for next year. I mean we already know Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York plans to legalize marijuana in the first 100 days of his new term.

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Gelato x Lemon Tree

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Emerald Cup 2018 Finalists

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Tropical Sleigh Ride – Greenshock Farms/Mendo Dope

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Emerald Cup Final Judging

For all the excitement about legalization, it did leave some behind. Many Northern Californians that have cultivated cannabis for generations sat the year out hoping for a better view of the regulatory framework in 2019. Some closed up shop presuming their time was limited or they wouldn’t have a shot in the market formed since election night 2016. And still, others who may have hoped to give it their best shot in the legal industry lost all to fire. Seemingly a tale we tell yearly from June to October these days.

And let’s not forget corrupt politicians who banked millions in licensing fees only to quash any hopes folks had of being a legal business. We can only presume there is a special place in Hell for them.

The actual pot this year was pretty great. Some would argue average quality is down due to the massive uptake in production. I would say that’s true, but anything that bad isn’t making it to the market. The space on dispensary shelves is at a premium these days, so unless you’re selling your own midsy pot, there is no reason you should have to have anything sub-par in your shop. A lot of the not-so-great stuff will end up in oil or a flyover state.

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Another thing that balances out the quality drop is the competition to be the best. Plenty of people are obsessed with not being compared to the aforementioned midsy pot. They did great this year. In the face of new regulations, they continued to produce the best flower in the world.

The event scene was devastated in 2018. Outside The Emerald Cup and High Times Cannabis Cup, things were pretty trash. Some of the local events managed to scrape by, most of the time in the shadows. But local crackdowns and the state kept everyone on edge. Nevertheless, I did go to one licensed event so poorly done I was almost impressed.

I had an awesome year. I had a great time trying to break stories as often as possible. When I wasn’t doing that I was covering the things I just enjoy following in general like cannabis policy, great genetics, and the continuing intersection of cannabis and society as the plant becomes normalized.

I got some new bylines in great publications and think I told at least a few cool stories in 2018, here are some more pictures from the year. Hope your 2019 is dope!

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Banana Jam #9 – Woodman Peak Farm

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Wedding Crasher – The Village

The New World of Regs, Judging My First NorCal Cannabis Cup, and Summer Farm Tour 2018

It’s been a pretty wild few months on the cannabis front since we last checked in Champions.

Lots to talk about all over the place, but I’m pretty California-centric these days with the worlds biggest cannabis market struggling to figure itself out at the moment. That being said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the pace of federal progress in recent months. In particular people like Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Cory Gardner taking the lead is fantastic. Trump coming out in support of the Gardner/Warren bill blew my mind. Hopefully, the discussion continues through summer and both parties use it to bait voters for midterms then follow through.

I went to the first legal High Times Cannabis Cup in Sacramento in May. It was amazing. It seemed like a different world than what we’ve witnessed recently amidst the July 1 regulations kicking in, nevertheless a good time. Alien Labs crushed taking home all three flower trophies, it was very impressive. The Gelato #41 is really something special when grown by true artists. The Village, of Symbiotic Genetics, crushed it too with some savage Mimosa 6! I also had the chance to interview The Village about developing Purple Punch into the now famous V2 that was the strain of the year everywhere in 2017. Keep an eye out for that in the next issue of Cannabis Now in stores soon.

After I did my write up of the Sacramento cup for Cannabis Now, I ended up doing High Times preview for the NorCal Cannabis Cup a few weeks later! I was also invited to judge the Sativa flower category it was awesome! I’m excited to see what California events can turn into given the way these worked out. But we still have a long way to go, I was absolutely devastated to hear Victorville didn’t give Chalice a permit for sales.¬†

On sadder note recently we’ve seen more great companies not able to make it in the age of regulated cannabis. Not because they couldn’t comply, in many cases they were either priced out of the permit process or screwed by a close-minded county that decided to not take part in the regulated marijuana industry. Furthermore, some communities like Oakland threw their golden tickets in the shredder or punched the gift horse in the mouth many times with numerous companies bailing in response to over-regulation.

Also if you’re in California, be sure to support SB289 if you want to save California compassion programs that provide free medical cannabis to the seriously ill. The current tax climate treats the cannabis given to these people as if it were entering the market. This means producers trying to help the sick are being devastated by taxes and fees, basically making their efforts to help impossible.

This month I’m going to start hitting farms and am super excited for this year’s crop. Let me know if you want me to swing by your spot, I might get as far up as Washington this summer but we’ll see.

Have an awesome July!