Happy Harvest Season 2020

I hope everyone is doing ok.

This week is the best air quality we’ve had in Oakland in some time. In honor of this high level of optimism I figured I’d write an update for the eve of Fall and Croptober.

First off, I’m very thankful to still be a journalist. Between AB5 and the pandemic, it was a pretty tough stretch for journalism in California. While I haven’t had the same output I’ve had in years past, I have had more time to work on stories. I’ve really appreciated that extra dash of substance.

I like to pretend to myself I put the same amount of effort into everything. Whether speculating on the future of the CBD market in China or hunting down the real deal heat. But there are only so many hours in day to try and figure all this stuff out before I write about it. So it’s cool to have a little more room to try and understand things a bit deeper before the storytelling starts.

I’ve had a few cover stories since the pandemic started!

It was a great time writing all of these.

I’m starting to roll up my sleeves for the harvest, which is basically the playoffs of weed journalism leading up to The Emerald Cup. While the cup is going to be a lot different this year, it’s happening. So I don’t plan on adjusting any of the timelines I’ve used over the past few years in my eternal quest to hunt down the heat.

This summer has been a little tough on making it out to farms, but I’ve tried to make it happen. I went on a trip to Humboldt for a few nights in August, visited Sonoma Hills Farm in early this month, and also got to check out the results of a 1200 seed pheno hunt Compound Genetics did.

As hard as I’m trying to keep my finger on the pulse these days. I super appreciate tips. If your farm has a particularly fire run or you see something on dispensary shelves that blows your mind let me know!

Everyone stay safe, wear a mask, and see you soon!

Coronavirus Update #3: Two Months In

Well, it’s been 55 days since that faithful Saint Patrick’s Day Eve when word of the California Lockdown started to circulate. I hope you’re doing well! I’m doing pretty dope all things considered.

Writing is going awesome. I had a really fun time with my Mother’s Day Guide that dropped last week. I’ve also had the opportunity recently to cover the effort to get the cannabis industry access to Coronavirus relief programs from the Small Business Administration.

On a more serious note, I covered the ACLU’s updated report on the racial disparity in marijuana arrests continuing across the county. Despite legalization, Black America is 3.64 times more likely to end up in handcuff over cannabis than Caucasians.

I should have an article about the cannabis industry data from last month dropping in the next few days. With America starting to reopen, it looks like April will be the most complete data set on how Coronavirus impacted the cannabis industry. I presume people will be looking at the trends in that data for years to come so it was exciting to get to take a look at it before most.

Lockdown Day 55: The Pandemic Picks Part 3

I’ve smoked some pretty awesome weed in recent weeks. I think it’s the energy around getting ready to launch Devine’s Fine Cannabis Guide in the not too distant future. Please go follow the Instagram page!

Some of my recent favorite pot includes Gold Seal’s Motorbreath, C.R.A.F.T.’s fantastic Wedding Cake, and The Strawnana from Northern Emeralds. They are all absolute heat with fun terpene profiles. The Motorbreath will probably end up being the best pot of lockdown. It was 37% total cannabinoids, 32% THC, and absolute gas.

I already have much of launch strains for the guide picked out, but if you have some wild light dep about to drop let me know. I’m waiting until all of the first round of deps are done before I launch to make sure I have the freshest sungrown options on the list.

Shoutouts to everyone who is contributing on my Patreon page, I appreciate it and all the funds are going towards the guide launch.

Stay healthy!

Coronavirus Update #2: Access Continues & Guide Launch

I hope all of you are doing well.

As I write this, 90% of Americans are living under lockdown orders that have them stuck at home out of work, and the White House is talking about healthcare for all. Needless to say things are pretty wild.

I’m 40 days in as essential personnel at CBCB in Berkeley. It’s been a rapidly changing process over the last few weeks but things are going well. We never had to stop helping people. There were a couple of hiccup days but I think those were to be expected with the frequent transitions to the new temporary status quo.

At the beginning of the lockdown we were able to help people inside. Eventually the city of Berkeley switched to mandating only a delivery model.

People flipped out and were not happy. The day after we posted that sign, in conjunction with a bunch of other people’s efforts, the city stepped back and allowed for curbside pickup. Ever since I’ve been helping people get their nugs like it’s 2010 or something. It’s awesome.

It was my tenth 4/20 working in the California cannabis industry. While the weirdest one yet, I was just glad to be a part of the process. It was Jay’s 23rd 4/20 at CBCB. Crazy!

Me and Jay on 4/20/20

I’m still a journalist too! LA Weekly kept me on board through everything that’s been going on and I even got the 4/20 cover!

Talking with Josh D about helping to bring OG Kush to Los Angeles, and then saving the cut, was such a pleasure. We actually did the interview last summer. I knew I wanted to sit on it for something special, then he won The Emerald Cup, and here we are.

I also was excited to have a platform for my 4/20 list this year! Even though everything I wanted to do like the Cup Crawl and various other activities fell through, it was cool to still be able to do the thing that got me those opportunities in the first place.

I also dropped my essential Pandemic Pot Recipe Picks with three of the best edible authors in the game at the moment.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably pro-Jimi. I’m excited to let you know I’ll be launching Devine’s Fine Cannabis Guide in the next few months. I’ve got a deep notebook of specific phenotypes that have connected with me over the last ten years. I’m hoping the guide will be a consumer friendly destination for people to understand why the flame is the flame, and where to get it.

It looks like we’ll be launching some Destination Shelves along with the guide too. Some of the finest dispensaries in the state of California will be onboard from the very beginning in offering some of the guide’s selections on their shelves. I had like six dispensary owners and buyers hit me up within a few hours of posting about the plan, that was pretty cool.

Those dispensaries doing shelves and ancillary cannabis services, like nutrient companies, will be the only people allowed to advertise via the site. I want to keep the editorial process super above bar. The only complaints I’ve ever heard about my lists are “why aren’t I on it?” I won’t be changing anything about the ethos of my process that created those lists for money, I assure you. But who doesn’t love a roof and food, right?

Finally, shoutouts to all the other essential people like nurses and firefighters. It’s pretty wild to be the bottom of the essential pyramid as a part time dispensary receptionist. The bar for whether you’re essential or not is basically me, so cool.

Keep crushing everyone!

Coronavirus Personal Update and Coverage Roundup

I hope everyone is following the instructions of healthcare professionals when it comes to Coronavirus, it’s really important we do our best to save as many lives as possible.

I’ve obviously had this impact the projects I’d been working on scheduled for the months ahead. Most notably the second edition of the Coachella Desert Smoke-Off with L.A. Weekly and the San Francisco Cup Crawl I had planned for 4/20 with the great folks over at Emerald Farm Tours. As much as I would have loved to see these things go down on time, nothing is more important to me than the health and safety of the participants. I look forward to seeing both happen in the not too distant future.

That being said, I’ve tried to make the best of the pandemic lockdown.

Since cannabis businesses were declared essential in California, I’m one of the lucky folks still able to go to work. It’s been very cool to help people this week with all the stress flying around. Also watching one of the biggest runs on cannabis ever at CBCB firsthand right before the lockdown started was nuts. It was way bigger than 4/20 for a lot of places since people were scared they wouldn’t be able to buy pot once shelter in place orders started.

As an employee for more than a decade at one of the oldest pot clubs in the world, I had a lot of faith the medical ethos the Berkeley cannabis scene was built on would persevere. While it got a bit crazy, there was never a gap in access for the community. I was very glad to see it only took San Francisco a day to catch up to us and get its shops back open.

I’ve also covered the Coronavirus pretty extensively in my writing. Last Tuesday on the lost Saint Patrick’s Day, I wrote about just how much pot had sold on the eve of the Bay Area lockdown for Cannabis Now. Most of the businesses I talked to said it was their record day or close to it.

Later on I took a look back at the whole week in sales for L.A. Weekly. The data for showed that while things never got quite as big as Monday again, sales were still awesome. While sales dipped at the end of the week, one thing that maintained all week were the above average size orders. People were buying more pot for sure.

I also wrote a piece for L.A. Weekly about how Coronavirus is impacting the supply chains around weed, food, beer, and toilet paper. I had a great time working on it and was able to get in touch with Charmin, Scott’s Paper Co., and The National Beer Wholesalers Association to get their take on the stability of their respective supply chains.

As for more chipper recent things I’ve worked on.

I talked to KindPeoples in Santa Cruz about helping WAMM restart their compassion program on March 1st, the first day they legally could after a two plus year hiatus.

Also I just dropped a garden prep guide in L.A. Weekly with great input from Vital Garden Supply and Dark Heart Nursery. It came out great and should really get you in the mood to have some dirt under your nails this summer.

And finally, my patreon is blowing up. A huge thanks and shoutouts to everyone who has signed up! All the money from that goes directly into journalism and Backwoods. \

Keep Crushing!

LA, ICBC, Coachella, and The 4/20 SF Cup Crawl

I hope the first month of the 2020s has treated everyone well so far.

Mine has gone nothing short of fantastic. In addition to signing on as LA Weekly’s official new Cannabis Columnist after contributing for a bit over a year, I’ll also be in town to speak later this month at the Cannabis Access Media Conference on the 29th. I’ll be joining Leafly’s California Bureau Chief David Downs, David Bienenstock from Great Moments in Weed History, and VICE Producer Alex Chitty. It should be a fantastic chat.

While I’m in LA, I’ll also be raging with some of SoCal’s finest phenotypes and the folks who grew them. I’m very excited to check out all of the great pot, hit me up if you want to try and meet up the 29th or 30th. But all of that is just a prelude to what’s to come in a few months.

Then I’ll be at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco. Let me know if you’ll be in town with any awesome pot.

In addition to judging The Emerald Cup and Cannabis Cup last year, the two events I put on, The Transbay Challenge and Coachella Desert Smoke-off, went great. While it’ll be a few months before I start dropping any details about the Transbay Challenge 2, LA Weekly’s second annual Coachella Desert Smoke-off is officially good to go the first weekend of Coachella in April.

I wont be handling too much of it just to keep everything above bar as head judge, but if you do want to enter any flower, concentrates, or edibles just go hit up Sam Zartoshty on Instagram and he’ll get you sorted.

A bit later in April we’ll have the San Francisco Cup Crawl on 4/20 that I’m teaming up with Emerald Farm Tours for. We’re going to stop at a bunch of historic SF pot landmarks and dispensaries before ending out day at Hippie Hill in time for 4:20. During our travels we’ll figure out who has the best pot in SF for 4/20. We’ll be announcing a bit more on the Cup Crawl in early February.

If you scoop a ticket for The Cup Crawl be sure to use my discount code “WoodsWithTheGoods”.

Also I started working on some personal projects I’m looking to get going this year. I’ll be organizing my strain reviews from the last few years a bit more extensively among other things and trying to get better with the podcast. If you want to support either feel free to join my new Patreon page! We’re already up to $16 bucks a month!

New Podcast Episode: The Strains of The Decade

Hey All!

I just dropped a new episode of my podcast today and wanted to share it. I go a little bit into a few stories I’ve been working on in recent months, and also talk about how I put together The Strains of the Decade for Cannabis Now Magazine.

Be sure to let me know your thoughts and thanks for listening!

A New Year of Cannabis Hype!

Greetings Champion!

I’m very excited to start a new decade of adventure in California’s legal cannabis market!

I got to California in early December of 2009 after fours years of activism on the East Coast. It has been quite the spectacle watching everything that’s happened over the last decade in pot first hand. From the lows of losing Prop 19 by a few points on election night 2010, or the Oaksterdam raid, to the highs of winning in 2016. To be able to see and understand these things through my own eyes so I might tell the tale now and in the future accurately is immensely important to me and I’ll be forever grateful I was here to take part.

And once you get past the challenges longtime providers faced, crazy taxes, and people who thought the bar would be low enough for for them to get a shot in the industry not making it, there is a lot of positive stuff.

There is a lot of great weed. I smelled thousands of jars of different phenos over the last decade personally. As I now walk through the aisles of events like The Emerald Cup or Hall of Flowers these days, I am regularly reminded the highest bar for quality cannabis gets pushed up annually. But there is still a lot of folks missing the mark, and the naysayers will say those boof jars are completely representative of the legal industry.

Fig Farms’ Kushmint Cookies

I don’t buy that train of thought. I look at the flower coming out of places like Alien Lab, Fig Farms, and Ember Valley and what I see is absolute flame. To try and paint the legal market as one giant Mids Fest is a lie, and maybe sometimes the people doing it are just being haters that couldn’t jump through the hoops required to do it again.

I think it’s going to get more and more wild. Some folks who kept their cards close to their chest are ready to play some big hands. There will be a few more survivors yet, and they’ll do it on the back of their awesome pot the market deserves to have access to.

I’m excited to continue hunting the flame. I got to judge The Cannabis Cup and Emerald Cup last year, in addition to putting on my own events with The Transbay Challenge and Desert Smoke-Off with L.A. Weekly. Keep me in loop if you are up to any wild genetics projects. I’m constantly on the lookout for awesome new strains or just amazing phenotypes of the ones we already love!

Also I started a Patreon. If you want to support my personal editorial projects in 2020, all of the resources from that will be going towards camera gear and travel.

I Picked Out My Favorite Pot in California Right Now

I hope all is well everyone!

It’s been a week since the Harvest Moon! Lots of amazing cannabis is currently being chopped down across the hills of Northern California. The state’s Central Valley, home to California’s titanic agricultural economy, will also produce more cannabis than ever this year.

With all this excitement on deck, I thought it would be a good time to rundown the strains I’ve been super hyped on lately. Over the past month, I’ve done a few different rundowns.  

In The Strains of Summer, I covered everything that has blown me away since May. This includes the amazing Ziablo pictured above from IC Collective. I’ve had the privilege of seeing the Ziablo a few times lately.

It was shown to me for the first time by the breeders at IC Collective in August. Then again at Hall of Flowers it was some of the best cannabis in the room. And finally, it won the inaugural edition of my new invite-only Transbay Challenge. A cannabis contest featuring some of the San Francisco’s Bay Area’s best cultivators. Expect Ziablo’s stock to continue to shoot up in the months ahead. 

Be sure to go check out my other picks for Summer you won’t be mad.

Next up was Hall of Flowers. The event provides a snapshot of the quality of legal marijuana at that given moment in time. Generally speaking, it was better than I expected for sure. There was definitely still some stuff I was surprised people would want to represent themselves with, but for the most part, there was less bad pot than I expected. 

There were even a few surprises when it came to quality. I searched every aisle for the best cannabis I could find. After locating over 40 things that got me interested, I narrowed the list down to about 20. You can read them all here:

So that’s a lot of the weed I’m excited about right now! I wanted to share before the harvest kicked into full gear. Have a great Fall everyone!

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!