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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NF1

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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!