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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Hope you had a dope February and March has been fantastic so far! I had a great time!
In February I headed out to cover The Glass Games Masters Final hosted by CHAMPS Tradeshows. The final is the culmination of a series of events around the country through the course of the year! Everyone competing in Vegas won one of those satellite events and you could see it in the quality of the work being presented.
Here are some of my shots from this year’s Glass Games Masters Final, including a great one of Josh McDaniel showing the function on his LSD inspired self-portrait that took home first place!
We also recently saw Berkeley become a Cannabis Sanctuary City. I told NBC Bay Area that it was all bells and whistles since Berkeley had proven to be a cannabis sanctuary for years via a legal action as opposed to public decrees. But props to Berkeley on continuing to push the chains.
For California cannabis professionals, it was likely their earliest New Years Eve since they were kids as the world’s largest legal pot market went online at 6 AM January 1st.
I enjoyed the occasion over at Berkeley Patients Group where I started my coverage of the day’s festivities for GreenState and Cannabis Now Magazine. BPG hosted what will be among those debated as the first legal sale in California. The purchase was made by longtime activists Mikki Norris and Chris Conrad. The compatriots of Jack Herer marked the occasion by buying three prerolled-joints named after the activist.
The legal market has proven challenging for many. Not only those who denied the forthcoming realities of legalization but even those who thought they had their ducks in a row are struggling. And now, a yet to bloom distribution system is struggling to access the quality cannabis the California market demands. Much of the time this is due to regulatory challenges and costs put on the producers that have provided the state’s cannabis for decades.
On a more positive note, I got to cover the Puffco Peak this month. Puffco has had a seat at the big kids’ table with their award-winning vape pens for years. Their new tabletop edition is fantastic and made waves at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, even though they weren’t technically allowed into the show! Puffco’s founder Roger gave me the whole tale of the Peak and it was really something.
I also covered the first Mothership Drop at The Cave’s new second location in Walnut Creek California. The drop included the eight pieces of the Dragon Scale collection. I met a Game of Thrones fan who traveled from Texas to make sure he didn’t miss out!
This month I’ll be heading to Las Vegas to cover CHAMPS Glass Games final and the Secret Cup Final. I’m looking forward to both so hit me up if you’ll be in town!
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the breeder of the world class cannabis strain Gelato for Cannabis Now Magazine’s print edition. The piece has now made its way to the web so I just thought I’d share the true origins here also.
Mr. Sherbinski was a pleasure to interview. He’ll be remembered among the best urban breeders of his generation due to efforts like Sunset Sherbert and Gelato. I had the chance to peek at the most developed offerings from the family, Mochi and Gello.
You can hear the story below and read the article over on Cannabis Now. I have some more big stories to come in the months ahead and look forward to sharing them with everyone.
As always thanks for reading my stuff. You can see what cannabis stories I’m reading and what I’m smoking out of over on the GreenState.com daily briefing and review sections. For my continued weekly policy coverage from across the US and beyond head over to CannabisNow.com
Summer starts tomorrow but honestly, we’re in full swing already out here in the Bay Area with world class cannabis and the good times that come with it!
A big catalyst for all the summer fun is the event circuit with things like the High Times NorCal Cannabis Cup earlier this month, the National Cannabis Industry Association Summit in Oakland last week, and the festival scene. Events like Sierra Nevada Music Festival and Reggae on The River are synonymous with great pot and the communities that produce it.
The weekend escapes are a big deal for those who spend the summer producing some of the world’s best outdoor cannabis.
The month started strong with the Cup in Santa Rosa. I had the privilege of covering it for the San Francisco Chronicle’s new cannabis lifestyle site GreenState.com. I got my first bigger media gig the weekend of the cup some years back and it always has held a special place in my heart and that of anyone on the hunt for the world’s finest cultivars.
My task this year was strain-specific, as in the hunt for the best ones! I hit every table searching for what had the best nose on it, trichomes, flavor, and general effects. The outdoor tables I was not as thorough with due to the time of the year featuring last season’s offerings. Everyone else I asked what their best offering was. From there, I determined if I wanted to check out the rest of their spread, much of the time I did because of all the killer growers in attendance.
Generally speaking, the photo to the right featured a lot of what I considered the best cannabis at the cup and I wasn’t far off, that Wedding Cake OG from Alien Labs on the right was runner-up in the hybrid category. Sherbinski brought some Mochi, one of the most developed lines of Gelato and far more elite than the bag seed phenos regularly being passed off as the real deal. Kyle Kushman’s Blueberry Cookies was also a great time.
The concentrates on display were equally fantastic. Some of the big standouts were the Alien Labs collaborations with Moxie, Gold Coast Extracts Strawnana, and the very unique Peach Fuzz collaboration from Jahnetics and Critical 710.
Here are some more shots from the cup!
Reverend Eddy Lepp receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award from Kyle Kushman
This was great.
Gold Coast Extracts regularly ranks among the finest extract craftsmen in California as the case shows.
LA Kush took home Third Place in both the Indica and Hybrid flower categories.
311 a week shy of their 27th anniversary.
After a quick break, it was off to the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Summit and Expo in Oakland. The Friday before the summit began I decided to have a cannabis contest because I figured it would have a funny “best pot in the industry ” vibe. Sometimes in the fast moving world of cannabiz, people forget what really matters after the social justice and community building, who has the best pot.
Adding to the fun of everything, our hometown Golden State Warriors won their second NBA championship in three years.
Needless to say, it’s always a pleasure to talk to the thought leaders in this emerging industry about the recent developments in their areas of expertise. NCIA does a fantastic job getting them all in the same room, and sometimes even the same rotation! Keep an eye for stories emerging from the summit in the weeks ahead.
Next month I’m finally heading down to CHALICE!!! I’m looking very forward to covering all the glass and dabs! Let me know if you’re an artist or a company that’s going to be out there. I would love to check out what you’re up to!
I’m posting all the things I’m writing these days to my facebook page. I’ll be posting content from all the different places I’m writing for over there and as always appreciate your support.
Also, I’m very excited for the next couple of months. June will see the NorCal Cannabis Cup hit Santa Rosa, it’s absolutely one of the best cannabis events in the world, and I argued last week in Cannabis Now Magazine that it’s the true Cannabis World Championship having taken the title from Amsterdam.
In July we have Chalice in SoCal. Chalice without a doubt has evolved over the years as the greatest hash/glass/music festival in the world. I’ve been trying to make it down for years and it looks like there is a good chance I’ll be there.
Finally, I’m in the process of getting the wheels moving on a major glass writing project. If you’re a photog or glass artist that wants to get in the mix reach out, we’re definitely trying to find some hidden gem glassblowers to give some love.