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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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 probably won’t post much for a few days, catching/following up from a conference weekend can be atrocious. Nevertheless, I really like this basic fact sheet for prop 64 from Chris Conrad and wanted to share. If you have the time, head over to Ballotpedia for the full breakdown and links to all the lovers and haters. Please have more faith in these resources than anime characters on Instagram, bless their hearts.
So last month the usually hip Oregon decided to ban about 20 strain names, this set in forth a motion of events that led to me getting the facts on Bruce Banner.
I had personally always been a fan of the strain, so when the Cannabis Now editorial squad hit me up to write about it I was amped. It actually worked out funny, I missed the email notification and the homies grabbed a bunch of strains I would have jumped at. It worked out.
As far as the strains of the moment, Bruce Banner was at the top of the mountain flying first class for a few years, and now still enjoys generous leg room in economy coach. I was surprised by the amount of inaccurate info on the strain, mainly in regard to how open many reputable breeders were in getting down to detail.
Anyway if you want the full scoop on one of the greatest medical cannabis strains ever to come out of Denver, or at least launch there, go check out the article.
Big thanks to the Dark Horse Genetics for filling me in.
With other California cities looking to jump on the cannabis cash bandwagon, a recent report from L.A. Weekly proves that despite forcing their dispensaries in to a legal gray area LA is ready to make a buck.
Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson is planning on introducing a motion that will direct city staffers to explore a ballot measure that would ask voters to amend marijuana dispensary rules and possibly legalize back-end cannabis businesses in town.
Herb has been hearing it a lot. SoCal municipalities are lining up to get their hands on a piece of the industry. Places like Adelanto are putting on there racing goggles, as of February they had distributed 27 permits for the large scale industrial cultivation of cannabis. This could lead to over 300,000 pounds of indoor marijuana, even at the top end of the outdoor price spectrum these days you would be looking at roughly $360,000,000. The town is primed to take a fat chunk of that in taxes, and create the jobs and other revenue to replace its fading prison industry.
The Council President is also hearing it from an industry desperate to be brought into the legal fold. Almost half of the 135 businesses allowed under the Prop D permitting structure from 2013 have joined to form the United Cannabis Business Alliance. The trade organization was put together with the purpose of pressuring LA lawmakers to rectify the situation prior to 2018’s enforcement of Governor Jerry Brown’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, in what very well could be a post legalization world pending the Adult Use of Marijuana Act outcome on election day.