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!

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!

I Covered Lots of Cannabis History This Month!

2017 ended with a bang!

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.

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One of California’s first legal cannabis sales at Berkeley Patient’s Group.

From there I helped track the actual sales. First, we took a guess at GreenState at the total sales numbers from New Year’s Day. Later on in the month, we took a look at what people all over California are spending on pot given the array of new taxes being levied by both the state and municipalities.

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!

 

 

Chasing Gelato’s Story: The Sherbinski Sitdown

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