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!

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!