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!

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.

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!

The Happy Planting Season Update!

Hey all!

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!

There was a bunch of crazy news over the last couple months I was lucky enough to cover! More research came out linking the ease of access to medical cannabis, ie loose dispensary regulations, to drops in overdose rates. Unfortunately, the trend has reversed since 2010 when authorities started cracking down a bit more.

California’s District Attorney’s have been debating in their local municipalities whether they want to clean everyone’s records of low-level marijuana offenses in one swoop. You would think it would be a no-brainer!

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.

One of my biggest stories of the month was about NORML getting its push together for the 2018 Midterm Election. They put a fantastic packet together for lawmakers to dial in their pro-cannabis platform and talking points. Expect big things from the effort when voters hit the polls in November!

Finally, Cannabis Now let me get together a list of the strains I miss the most. Please find these and grow them, then call me! Thanks!

 

 

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.

Jan1BPGSale

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!

 

 

Weekly Vlog Kick Off

Hey All!

I hope the young summer is treating you well. I’m kicking off a weekly recap of the headlines I find interesting and the stories I’m covering. Here is the first installment!

Hope you enjoyed! I’m going to be trying to drop these on Mondays!

Go Check Out My Facebook Page & Summer 2017 Looks Lit

Hi all!

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.