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    Oakland: Groundbreaking pot permit program takes shape

    Kyle Slavich processes marijuana buds at Utopia Farms, a grow facility Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, in Santa Cruz County, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
    (Karl Mondon/Staff Archives)

    Oakland City Council on Tuesday, March, 8, 2017 voted to overhaul the nation’s first equity pot permit program.


    OAKLAND — Oakland ramped up its counterattack to the U.S. war on drugs, expanding its one-of-a-kind program to help people jailed for marijuana crimes enter the booming cannabis industry.

    But while the new cannabis laws are breaking down industry barriers for some longtime residents, business owners and those new to Oakland say the changes have moved the needle too far in the other direction, and they are being pushed out of the pot bonanza.

    Newly released city data shows over the past two decades African-Americans have been arrested for pot at a disproportionate rate compared to white residents, even though the two groups make up a similar percentage of the population.

    The analysis of data between 1995 and 2015 found high drug arrests in the city’s flatlands even as the medical marijuana boom arrived in Oakland.With those stats from the city of Oakland’s Department of Race and Equity in hand, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to overhaul the nation’s first equity program to set aside 50 percent of medical marijuana and cannabis business permits during the first phase of permitting for people affected by the War on Drugs. The council vote was taken around midnight after three hours of public comment and debate.

    The revised program builds on laws passed in May that began a tug-of-war among council members divided on the details. A number of amendments to the laws were rejected by Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who represents a portion of East Oakland and spearheaded the equity program to make sure Oakland residents have more control and access to an industry that has been dominated by whites, some of whom are new residents.

    Most of the public speakers spoke in support of the laws.

    “This is about the liberation of our people,” said activist Carroll Fife. “Black folks built this city. We demand a right and a part of this industry.”

    Major changes approved Tuesday redefine who is eligible for an equity permit. Besides Oakland residents arrested within the city for pot crimes dating back to 1996, the permits are available to residents living at least 10 of the past 20 years in police beats torn apart by the war on drugs. Their income must also be below 80 percent of the city’s average median income.

    In May, those beats only included a handful in East Oakland but have now been expanded to areas of West Oakland, Fruitvale and other parts of East Oakland, all in the city’s flatlands. The 21 police beats were chosen because they had about 150 or more marijuana arrests over the past 20 years.

    Data shows the disparities. In 2015, the cannabis arrest rates for African-Americans was 77 percent, 15 percent for Hispanics, 4 percent for whites and 2 percent for Asians, according to the city’s report. African-Americans, Hispanics and whites each make up about 30 percent of Oakland’s population.

    The arrest rate for African-Americans peaked in 1998, when it was as high as 90 percent, Department of Race and Equity Director Darlene Flynn said.

    “The data shows that for over two decades, black and brown residents were arrested and incarcerated for drug offenses at disparately high rates, while largely white cannabis cultivators, manufacturers and distributors who were not operating entirely aboveboard either, flourished under changing laws designed to accommodate the burgeoning industry,” Flynn said.

    The city is also earmarking $3.4 million in cannabis business license tax revenue and $200,000 to hire a consultant to offer no-interest loans and other assistance to help equity permit holders open their business.

    While most of the 100-plus speakers at Tuesday’s council meeting were in support of the new laws, some fear a late-minute addition could hurt existing businesses. Councilman Noel Gallo, with the support of Brooks, added an amendment requiring general permit applicants to have lived in Oakland for at least three years. Opponents said that could push out existing businesses and endanger funding for the equity program.

    Under the ordinance, general permit holders can speed up the process by offering free rent or real estate to an equity applicant.

    Sascha Stallworth, co-founder of Kamala Cannabis Edibles, moved her family to Oakland from Los Angeles last year and was planning on signing a new building lease next week for her business. Now, she’s not so sure.

    “If I end up with a five-year lease in a place I can’t operate out of, that doesn’t work for anyone,” Stallworth said. “This is a break in our road which we didn’t anticipate.”

    Brian Edwards, of Swerve Confections, said he might move his business out of town because he lives in San Leandro, and unless the requirements change, he wouldn’t be eligible for a permit.

    “We are paying (the cannabis business tax), but because we don’t live in the city, the City Council is talking to us like we don’t matter at all,” he said. “They wouldn’t talk to any other business owner like that. They wouldn’t talk to the tech industry like that.”



    A billion-dollar industry, a racist legacy: being black and growing pot in America
    The Guardian app

    A billion-dollar industry, a racist legacy: being black and growing pot in America
    What does it take to succeed as a young black entrepreneur in a sector largely dominated by white men seen as daring trailblazers?

    by Rose Hackman

    Three years ago, Jesce Horton, a former engineer in his early 30s, quit his corporate job to set up his own small, family-ownedcannabis cultivation business in Portland, Oregon.

    Horton is part of a nascent industry thatnetted $6.7bn last year and is projected toreach $50bn by 2026. And as one of the few black business owners in an industry whose legality varies by location, he stands out.

    “I guess how I dress is hip-hop hipster. I have my Jordans, but I also have my beard and a Portland hat,” Horton says with a chuckle when asked to describe himself.

    Horton’s parents were at first lukewarm about his plan to sell a substance associated with decades of systematic imprisonment that have devastated communities of color. But the young entrepreneur sees the partial legalization of cannabis as an opportunity not just for business, but to acknowledge past wrongdoing and seek economic justice.

    There is an obvious chasm between the number of people of color who have been jailed for simple possession during the “war on drugs” and the number of white men who are starting to make millions in profit from the industry. Formal statistics do not exist, but first-hand accounts and reports confirm that cannabis entrepreneurs are overwhelmingly white. Last year, aninvestigation by Buzzfeed estimated that less than 1% of cannabis dispensary owners across the country were black.

    Solutions are now being explored through reparations – mainly in the form of measures addressing this imbalance.

    For the first time, policy and local pieces of concrete legislation in cities including Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon, encourage participation in the regulated marijuana industry by communities of color, or reinvestment into these communities.

    These quiet, small steps towards justice are nothing short of revolutionary.

    A white man’s industry: $710,000 for a license
    Jesce Horton: ‘This business has been family from the start’. Photograph: Jesce Horton
    Horton is proud to live in Portland, he says, for it is the first US city to vote to dedicate a portion of its recreational cannabis tax revenue towards investment into “communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition”.

    Beyond investing in businesses and training, the fund will also partly finance the expungement of cannabis convictions.

    Such policies, reparative in ambition and nature, recognize that the current playing field was historically set up to be inequitable. Cannabis culture may be open in ethos, but so far, with few exceptions, the industry has proven itself glacier white.

    Horton and fellow advocates offer three reasons for this.

    One, most states have barred anyone with a criminal record from entering the industry. The US is home to an estimated 70 million Americans with criminal records, and adisproportionate number of those are men of color (according to a Pew Research Centerstudy in 2013, black men were six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men).

    Two, by varying degrees, depending on the state, the economic barriers to entering the industry (application fees, license fees and startup fees) are extortionately high.

    In Pennsylvania, for instance, where medical cannabis was legalized last year, only a small handful of licenses were set to be given out. Wannabe growers were required to pay a $10,000 non-refundable application fee, together with a $200,000 deposit. They also had to provie proof of $2m in funding, with at least $500,000 in the bank.

    (Oregon, where Horton lives, is an outlier. Barriers of entry there are low, with number of licenses granted limitless, application fees at $250, and yearly licenses never exceeding the $6,000 mark.)

    Banks, still jumpy from federal prohibition, are not lending. Application numbers are also vastly restrictive and rely on opaque selection processes, in which connections are important. This means applicants with personal wealth or access to networks of wealth are at a high advantage. In a still segregated America, the median American white family is 13 times wealthier than the median black family, and 10 times wealthier than the median Hispanic family.

    Three, even where there are funds to be sourced, communities of color are often loath to take a chance on openly doing business with a drug they have seen too many of their kin targeted, criminalized and locked up over.

    “Unless measures are taken to recognize and reconcile the harm done by the war on drugs, unless we reach out to communities of color to include them, communities will see legal cannabis as a slap in the face and won’t use it,” Horton says.

    To change that, Horton spends a large portion of his time trying to uplift current and would-be cannabis entrepreneurs of color. He does this through a Minority Cannabis Business Association, which he heads, and by advocating for laws that get to the roots of why communities of color have been excluded from the industry.

    A place for every color, race and creed
    Legacy weighs heavily on Horton, and not simply because he just welcomed his first child.

    Horton’s father was sent to prison as a young man on cannabis-related charges. After serving his sentence, he found work as a janitor at a large corporation, where he slowly worked his way up through the ranks, retiring as a vice-president.

    Horton was himself also arrested and charged for minor cannabis possession three times, but he says he lucked out. “I was able to get out of the criminal justice system with little,” he says. Friends were less fortunate, and some of them are still behind bars because of the drug.

    Eventually, seeing his seriousness, Horton’s parents came around to his business plan. Part of the seed money came from his parents and their fellow retired friends.

    Horton (right), his employee Linda, and his cousin, who also works for the business. Photograph: Jesce Horton
    Horton’s medical cannabis company originally served eight patients, selling off the rest of his modest crop to dispensaries. He is now preparing to launch a much larger all-purpose facility, which will grow, sell and provide space to safely consume weed on a three-acre piece of property, formerly an auto wrecking ground.

    “It’s been family from the start. My mom and my dad even came and helped with the first harvest.”

    For years, Horton’s two full-time employees were his cousin, who moved from North Carolina to work with him, and a woman named Linda. She serendipitously landed with the company after she lost her job. She’s in her 60s, and the only white person of the trio. She has recently been diagnosed with cancer, so Horton has set to work trying to develop a cannabis strand to help her deal with the illness.

    “We are a bit like the Brady bunch,” Horton offers. “It’s the best of cannabis culture. The idea that there is a place for every single color, race, creed. At this point, I don’t have a lot, but I am passionate. I feel like I have a short window of opportunity to put my son in a better position, build a better position for my family and my community – for people of color.”

    Horton doesn’t want to be the exception to the rule, either. It doesn’t seem right, and it doesn’t seem fair, especially since the depiction of cannabis and the depiction of race have been intertwined from the get-go.

    For instance, the original federal document outlawing cannabis in 1937 employed “marihuana”, a Hispanic slang term, that until then was not the most common term for the plant. Accounts have suggested it was chosen to make the drug instantly associable with Mexicans, or non-white people.

    While studies have shown that cannabis consumption is similar in terms of percentage across races, black and brown people are far more likely to be arrested for both distribution and simple possession of the drug in the US – about four times on average nationwide.

    After successive presidents embraced a “war on drugs” starting in the 1970s, portraying drugs, including cannabis, as the root of evil, the prison population ballooned at an astonishing rate. Today, with 2.3 million people locked up domestically, the US is the world’s largest incarcerator.

    In an in-depth analysis on the subject, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that over the course of the first decade of the 21st century, even as cannabis legalization was beginning to take hold, cannabis arrests increased, rather than the opposite. The study recorded 8m marijuana arrests across the country, 88% of which were for possession alone.

    ‘This is a moment in time that we may never see again’
    Oakland, California, has offered perhaps the most groundbreaking laws to date addressing the issue.

    A recent city-commissioned report spoke in stark and harsh terms of, on one hand, the existence of mostly white medical cannabis businesses, and on the other a cracking down on black and brown community members for cannabis possession and distribution.

    Oakland is about one-third black, one-third white and one-third Hispanic, but cannabis-related arrests in Oakland in 2015 involved black people in 77% of cases, and people of color in about 95% of cases.

    White people represented 4% of cases.

    At the end of March this year, following the release of the report, Oakland’s city councilvoted on a set of regulatory measures for medical cannabis dispensaries in what is referred to as an equity permit program.

    Its scope, ambition and framing are unprecedented.

    Christina, one of Jesce Horton’s former employees, at work. Photograph: Jesce Horton
    Under new rules, at least half of new cannabis business permit holders, issued by the city at a maximum rate of eight a year, will have to go to “equity applicants”. Applicants must earn less than 80% of the city’s median income; and they must either have been residents of police beats disproportionately targeted by law enforcement in recent decades, or they must have been sent to prison on cannabis charges within the last 20 years.

    “Non-equity” applicants not fitting this criteria will be given priority for the other half of permits available if they incorporate helping equity applicants with free rent or real estate.

    “Honestly, I think this is a moment in time that we may never see again,” Oakland’s vice-mayor, Annie Campbell Washington, said during a council meeting. “We have the ability to right the wrongs of structural racism so directly and try to level the playing field and benefit the actual group of people who were harmed.”

    To the north, Portland, Oregon, is the first city to direct part of its cannabis revenue taxes towards reinvestment into communities of color. Los Angeles and San Francisco are seeking to implement similar policies.

    Massachusetts, which voted to make cannabis legal for recreational use at the end of last year, is the first state to include a section of the law which requires the participation of communities criminalized and economically crippled during the “war on drugs”.

    While details are still being smoothed out, the text of the law is extraordinary in that it creates a link between a formerly criminalized population and the new industry. There is no formal apology or admission of wrongdoing, but it is not a stretch to see the wording as a recognition of people being owed something, and between the lines, the need for repair.

    Massachusetts is also the first state not to bar former convicted felons from operating in and around the industry.

    Meanwhile, California’s new adult use law, which also passed last November, requires a portion of the taxes collected from cannabis businesses to be re-invested into “communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies.”

    Much of this may seem utopian, or at least unrealistic. Steps for reparations, which, in the American context, most often refer to a call to pay damage to the descendants of slaves violently brought from Africa for the purpose of multi-generational labor exploitation, have repeatedly gone nowhere.

    But these measures could mark the first time an explicit form of reparations takes hold in this country.

    Jeff Sessions: ‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana’
    Of course, at a federal level, cannabis remains illegal. In fact, it is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means the federal government sees the drug as having no medical benefit whatsoever. This marks it as more dangerous than Schedule II drugs, which include opioids, meth, and cocaine, among others.

    Starting in 2013, under Barack Obama, a “Cole memo” unofficially agreed to exercise discretion and turn a blind eye on in-state legal cannabis activities, so long as those states enforced “strong and effective” regulation.

    But Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has called for renewed efforts in combatting drugs, which he has described uniformly as “bad”. In 1996, the Alabama Lawyer reported that Sessions, then Alabama attorney general, had introduced a package of crime bills for the state to “fix a broken system”. One of those bills sought to impose the death penalty as a mandatory minimum sentence for second time offenders of the state’s anti-drug trafficking law. Trafficking charges included non-violent cannabis charges.

    The crime bill did not pass, and at his federal confirmation hearings this January, Sessionssaid that such measures were “not his view today”. But as recently as last year, Sessions was emphatic that he believed cannabis was “dangerous” and “damaging”, repeatedly calling during a Senate hearing on the matter for federal law to be enforced.

    “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” hesaid.

    This could prove worrying for cannabis entrepreneurs but even more so for communities of color, for whom the business of cannabis has never ceased to be equated with the risk of imprisonment.

    Ezekiel Edwards, the director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU, warns Sessions is “a drug warrior of the first order”. He says Sessions would not be reviving a war on drugs, only re-escalating one that never went away.

    “Even after marijuana legalization, we continue to fight a drug war in communities of color. Arrests are still being done, including in states where legalization has taken place, and still disproportionately in communities of color. That war is not over,” Edwards says.

    Lynne Lyman, the state director for the California branch of the Drug Policy Alliance, who helped successfully get recreational cannabis legalized duringNovember’s elections, says that a large part of her work is what she calls “anti-stigma work”.

    Anti-stigma work involves making people who use and sell drugs be seen as people first.

    For cannabis entrepreneurs, this means no longer treating black sellers of cannabis as dangerous “dealers” to be incarcerated, and white sellers of cannabis as exciting, legitimate trailblazers, with the laudable American flair for risk.

    Confronting that stigma takes you to the core of it all.

    Since you’re here …
    … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

    I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.Thomasine F-R.
    If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.





    1600-1890s Domestic production of hemp encouraged

    American production of hemp was encouraged by the government in the 17th century for the production of rope, sails, and clothing. (Marijuana is the mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves that comes from the hemp plant.)

    In 1619 the Virginia Assembly passed legislation requiring every farmer to grow hemp. Hemp was allowed to be exchanged as legal tender in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.

    Domestic production flourished until after the Civil War, when imports and other domestic materials replaced hemp for many purposes. In the late nineteenth century, marijuana became a popular ingredient in many medicinal products and was sold openly in public pharmacies.

    During the 19th century, hashish use became a fad in France and also, to some extent, in the U.S.

    1906 Pure Food and Drug Act

    Required labeling of any cannabis contained in over-the-counter remedies.

    1900 – 20s Mexican immigrants introduce recreational use of marijuana leaf

    After the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Mexican immigrants flooded into the U.S., introducing to American culture the recreational use of marijuana. The drug became associated with the immigrants, and the fear and prejudice about the Spanish-speaking newcomers became associated with marijuana. Anti-drug campaigners warned against the encroaching “Marijuana Menace,” and terrible crimes were attributed to marijuana and the Mexicans who used it.

    1930s Fear of marijuana

    During the Great Depression, massive unemployment increased public resentment and fear of Mexican immigrants, escalating public and governmental concern about the problem of marijuana. This instigated a flurry of research which linked the use of marijuana with violence, crime and other socially deviant behaviors, primarily committed by “racially inferior” or underclass communities. By 1931, 29 states had outlawed marijuana.

    1930 Creation of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN)

    Harry J. Anslinger was the first Commissioner of the FBN and remained in that post until 1962.

    1932 Uniform State Narcotic Act

    Concern about the rising use of marijuana and research linking its use with crime and other social problems created pressure on the federal government to take action. Rather than promoting federal legislation, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics strongly encouraged state governments to accept responsibility for control of the problem by adopting the Uniform State Narcotic Act.

    1936 “Reefer Madness”

    Propaganda film “Reefer Madness” was produced by the French director, Louis Gasnier.

    The Motion Pictures Association of America, composed of the major Hollywood studios, banned the showing of any narcotics in films.

    1937 Marijuana Tax Act

    After a lurid national propaganda campaign against the “evil weed,” Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. The statute effectively criminalized marijuana, restricting possession of the drug to individuals who paid an excise tax for certain authorized medical and industrial uses.

    1944 La Guardia Report finds marijuana less dangerous

    New York Academy of Medicine issued an extensively researched report declaring that, contrary to earlier research and popular belief, use of marijuana did not induce violence, insanity or sex crimes, or lead to addiction or other drug use.

    1940s “Hemp for Victory”

    During World War II, imports of hemp and other materials crucial for producing marine cordage, parachutes, and other military necessities became scarce. In response the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched its “Hemp for Victory” program, encouraging farmers to plant hemp by giving out seeds and granting draft deferments to those who would stay home and grow hemp. By 1943 American farmers registered in the program harvested 375,000 acres of hemp.

    1951-56 Stricter Sentencing Laws

    Enactment of federal laws (Boggs Act, 1952; Narcotics Control Act, 1956) which set mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses, including marijuana.

    A first-offense marijuana possession carried a minimum sentence of 2-10 years with a fine of up to $20,000.

    1960s Marijuana use popular in counterculture

    A changing political and cultural climate was reflected in more lenient attitudes towards marijuana. Use of the drug became widespread in the white upper middle class. Reports commissioned by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson found that marijuana use did not induce violence nor lead to use of heavier drugs. Policy towards marijuana began to involve considerations of treatment as well as criminal penalties.

    1968 Creation of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs

    This was a merger of FBN and the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs of the Food and Drug Administration.

    1970 Repeal of most mandatory minimum sentences

    Congress repealed most of the mandatory penalties for drug-related offenses. It was widely acknowledged that the mandatory minimum sentences of the 1950s had done nothing to eliminate the drug culture that embraced marijuana use throughout the 60s, and that the minimum sentences imposed were often unduly harsh.

    Marijuana differentiated from other drugs

    The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act categorized marijuana separately from other narcotics and eliminated mandatory federal sentences for possession of small amounts.

    National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) founded

    1972 Shafer Commission

    The bipartisan Shafer Commission, appointed by President Nixon at the direction of Congress, considered laws regarding marijuana and determined that personal use of marijuana should be decriminalized. Nixon rejected the recommendation, but over the course of the 1970s, eleven states decriminalized marijuana and most others reduced their penalties.

    1973 Creation of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

    Merger of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNND) and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE).

    1974 High Times founded
    1976 Beginning of parents’ movement against marijuana

    A nationwide movement emerged of conservative parents’ groups lobbying for stricter regulation of marijuana and the prevention of drug use by teenagers. Some of these groups became quite powerful and, with the support of the DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), were instrumental in affecting public attitudes which led to the 1980s War on Drugs.

    1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act – Mandatory Sentences

    President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, instituting mandatory sentences for drug-related crimes. In conjunction with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the new law raised federal penalties for marijuana possession and dealing, basing the penalties on the amount of the drug involved. Possession of 100 marijuana plants received the same penalty as possession of 100 grams of heroin. A later amendment to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act established a “three strikes and you’re out” policy, requiring life sentences for repeat drug offenders, and providing for the death penalty for “drug kingpins.”

    1989 Bush’s War on Drugs

    President George Bush declares a new War on Drugs in a nationally televised speech.

    1996 Medical Use Legalized in California

    California voters passed Proposition 215 allowing for the sale and medical use of marijuana for patients with AIDS, cancer, and other serious and painful diseases. This law stands in tension with federal laws prohibiting possession of marijuana.






    Hemp Facts: Why do we call hemp a “miracle plant?”
    Mar 16, 2014

    Hemp is widely considered to be one of humanity’s first domesticated crops. Scientists believe that humans have cultivated hemp for its nutritional, medicinal, and industrial properties for more than ten thousand years. Check out the following hemp facts for more info…

    [​IMG]Every part of the hemp plant offers huge value:

    • Flower: powerful medicinal and spiritual properties
    • Seed: amazing source of protein and the essential amino/fatty acids required to sustain human life
    • Stalk: contains the strongest natural industrial fibres in the world
    • Roots & leaves: feed the soil with valuable nutrients – a farmer can grow multiple crops of hemp per season in the same field without seeing a decrease in soil nutrients.

    On top of that, you won’t find an easier plant to grow. The incredibly hardy hemp plant thrives in almost any environment without the need for pesticides or herbicides. It is one of the easiest possible plants for humans to domesticate.

    Here are just a few of the common goods and products that humans have made from hemp in ancient and modern times:

    Historical pictures of hemp farming in the US

    • Food
    • Medicine
    • Cooking
    • Oil
    • Clothing
    • Soap
    • Shampoo
    • Cosmetics
    • Pottery
    • Building materials
    • Canvas
    • Sailing cloth
    • Rope
    • Carpets
    • Pulp
    • Paper
    • Cardboard & packaging
    • Fiberboard
    • Sealant
    • Lamp Oil
    • Agro-fibre composites
    • Compression-molded parts
    • Brake/clutch linings
    • Caulking
    • Insulation
    • Cement
    • Stucco
    • Mortar
    • Oil paints
    • Solvents
    • Lubricants
    • Printing inks
    • Fuel

    Given its economic value and significance for so much of human history, it’s astonishing to consider that some countries – such as the U.S. – banned its industrial production simply because one particular strain of the plant has hallucinogenic properties. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater!




    What Is Hemp? Understanding The Differences Between Hemp and Cannabis
    [​IMG]by Matt Price

    When trying to wrap your head around the differences between hemp and cannabis, it is important to begin with this simple concept: Both hemp and cannabis ultimately come from the same plant… just different parts.Whether you call something hemp or cannabis will depend on a variety of factors which we will explore in this article. However, despite the fact that the terms hemp and cannabis are often used interchangeably, they do have separate connotations.

    Differentiating Between Hemp and Cannabis
    Unfortunately, prohibition has spurred a lack of education surrounding the cannabis plant. This has led to countless rumors about what makes hemp different from cannabis. Everything from “hemp plants are male and cannabis plants are female” to “cannabis is a drug and the other is not” are incorrectly being preached as common knowledge to unknowing bystanders. So, how are these terms supposed to be used? Let’s find out.

    “Health Canada defines hemp as products of Cannabis Sativa which contain less than 0.3 percent THC, whereas US law defines hemp as all parts of any Cannabis Sativaplant containing no psychoactive properties, except for defined exceptions.”

    According to a 1976 study published by the International Association of Plant Taxonomy concluded “both hemp varieties and marijuana varieties are of the same genus, Cannabis, and the same species, Cannabis Sativa. Further, there are countless varieties that fall into further classifications within the species Cannabis Sativa.”

    powered by MANTIStetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid most known for its psychoactive properties.

    [​IMG]Hemp, on the other hand, is used to describe a Cannabis Sativaplant that contains only trace amounts of THC. Hemp is a high-growing plant, typically bred for industrial uses such as oils and topical ointments, as well as fiber for clothing, construction, and much more.

    Only products made from industrial hemp (less than 0.3% THC) are legal to sell, buy, consume, and ship. This single factor (0.3%) is how most people distinguish between what is classified as “hemp” and what is classified as “cannabis.” This limit has led to mass controversy (for good reason), which we will dive into a bit later. But first, let’s take a look at how hemp is utilized all over the world.

    Industrial Hemp Uses
    From hemp apparel and accessories to diets and hempseed oil cosmetics, the plant is seemingly found everywhere you look. Hemp can be made into wax, resin, rope, cloth paper and fuel, among many other things.


    Hemp for Paper
    One of the reasons hemp is so valuable is because of its fiber length and strength. These long bast fibers have been used to make paper almost for 2 millennia. Thomas Jefferson drafted both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution on hemp paper.

    [​IMG]Until the early 19th century, hemp and flax were the two chief paper-making materials. In historical times, paper was processed from hemp rag. Using hemp directly for paper was considered too expensive, due to its lack of demand at the time. Wood-based paper came into use when mechanical and chemical pulping was developed in the mid 1800s in Germany and England. Today, at least 95% of paper is made from wood pulp. This makes little sense when considering hemp can easily produce much more paper per acre than wood pulp alternatives.

    The hemp paper process also utilizes less energy and fewer chemicals than tree paper processing and doesn’t create the harmful dioxins, chloroform, or any of the other 2,000 chlorinated organic compounds that have been identified as byproducts of the wood paper process.

    According to Hemp: A New Crop with New Uses for North America, “the primary bast fibers in the bark are 5–40 mm long, and are amalgamated in fiber bundles which can be 1–5 m long (secondary bast fibers are about 2 mm long). The woody core fibers are short—about 0.55 mm—and like hardwood fibers are cemented together with considerable lignin. The core fibers are generally considered too short for high grade paper applications (a length of 3 mm is considered ideal), and too much lignin is present.”

    Hemp for Food
    Studies have shown consumption of raw hemp seeds can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, accelerate weight loss, improve one’s immune system, control blood sugar levels, and even reduce inflammation. This makes hemp seeds extremely nutritious. They contain a bundle of essential amino acids and fatty-acids. This may explain why the “hemp for food” industry is growing rapidly and has increased over 300 percent, to an estimated 25,000 products, in the past few years.

    [​IMG]In its raw form, hemp has the second highest amount of protein of any food (soy being the highest). However, because the hemp seed’s protein more closely resembles the protein found in human blood, it is much easier to digest than soy protein. Hemp seeds can be eaten whole, pressed into oil, or ground into flour for baking.

    In America, products derived from hemp seed, such as hemp seed spreads, hemp seed energy bars, hemp seed meal, and hemp oil – are widely available in natural food stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s supermarkets.

    Hemp for Health & Body
    Hemp seed oil is perfectly suited for hair and skin care. Its nutritional value, combined with its moisturizing and replenishing EFA’s, make it one of the best vegetable body care foundations. Hemp seed oil’s EFA complement includes polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3, omega-6, omega-9, linoleic acid, and gamma linoleic acids (GLA’s). Although they are very effective in skin care maintenance, GLA’s are rarely found in natural oils. Hemp is an excellent source of GLA’s.

    Additionally, oil derived from hemp seed has shown promise in treating eczema (chronic dry skin) in patients, although whole-plant cannabis oil has been proven to be more effective in treating more severe skin disorders, like skin cancer.

    Hemp for Fuel
    Hemp seeds have provided a combustible fuel oil throughout human history. Basically, hemp can provide two types of fuel:

    1. Hemp biodiesel – made from the oil of the (pressed) hemp seed.
    2. Hemp ethanol/methanol – made from the fermented stalk.

    The concept of using oil derived from vegetables as an engine fuel is nothing new. In 1895, Dr. Rudolf Diesel developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil — peanut oil to be exact. When you press the hemp seeds and extract the oil, you are actually creating hemp biodiesel. Additionally, through processes such as gasification, hemp can be used to make both ethanol and methanol.

    The Controversy of Classifying Hemp vs. Cannabis
    The international definition of hemp (as opposed to cannabis) was developed by a Canadian researcher in 1971 who goes by the name of Ernest Small. Small’s arbitrary 0.3 percent THC limit has become standard around the world as the official limit for legal hemp, after he published a little-known, but very influential book titled The Species Problem in Cannabis.

    “There is not any natural point at which the cannabinoid content can be used to distinguish strains of hemp and marijuana.” – Ernest Small

    In this same book, Small discusses how “there is not any natural point at which the cannabinoid content can be used to distinguish strains of hemp and marijuana.” Despite this, Small continued to “draw an arbitrary line on the continuum of cannabis types, and decided that 0.3 percent THC in a sifted batch of cannabis flowers was the difference between hemp and marijuana.” As you can imagine, this has led to some controversy and confusion as to what truly constitutes the difference between hemp and cannabis.

    Additionally, your location will determine your understanding of what constitutes hemp vs cannabis. For instance, Health Canada defines hemp as products of Cannabis Sativa which contain less than 0.3 percent THC, whereas U.S. law defines hemp as all parts of any Cannabis Sativa plant containing no psychoactive properties, except for defined exceptions.

    A recent court case between Hemp Industries Association v. DEA concluded “the DEA can regulate foodstuffs containing natural THC if it is contained within marijuana, and can regulate synthetic THC of any kind. But they cannot regulate naturally-occurring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana—i.e., non-psychoactive hemp products— because non-psychoactive hemp is not included in Schedule I.”

    Hemp Seed Oil vs. Hemp Extract vs. Cannabis Oil
    Hemp seed oil is extracted by pressing the seeds of the female cannabis hemp plant. The hemp oil extracted is very nutritious in terms of a dietary supplement but hemp seed oil lacks cannabinoids, which are the main compounds found in the cannabis plant that have the ability to help battle cancer. Hemp seed oil is found mostly in products in your local grocery store and typically contains twice the levels of omega 3 found in olive oil with only half of the total calories.

    There is a big difference between hemp seed oil and hemp/CBD extract. Hemp/CBD extract is the main ingredient in popular products like Charlotte’s Web and other CBD-specific brands. Products containing hemp/CBD extract do have a wide range of cannabinoids, just limited to no THC. Because the total THC content is below the legal limit, products consisting of hemp/CBD extract can be shipped nationwide, across all 50 states. These types of products can be beneficial for increasing the quality of one’s life; many patients report that they have found relief for a wide range of ailments from hemp extract alone. However, the lack of THC does provide an issue for patients that have a treatment plan that requires high doses of THC, so it will depend on your specific use-case.

    Patients looking to treat more serious diseases and chronic illnesses will want to look into whole-plant cannabis oil treatments (i.e., Rick Simpson Oil). Products consisting of whole plant cannabis oil provide high doses of concentrated cannabinoids (e.g., THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, etc…), terpenes, and other compounds from the plant that many patients and caregivers need to help find relief from a wide variety of ailments.




    5 high-paying marijuana jobs in the legal cannabis industry
    Gina Belli
    4:39 PM ET Thu, 20 April 2017

    The Washington Post | Getty Images
    A medical marijuana operation In Colorado run by Kristi Kelly, co-founder of Good Meds Network.
    The legal cannabis industry is booming. The expansion and growth has recently been compared to the way broadband internet spread in the 2000s, or even the dot-com boom. One of the latest predictions is that more jobs will be created in legal marijuana than in manufacturing by 2020.

    This is an exciting time for folks looking to work in the industry, and there are many different jobs that need to be done. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the highest paying jobs in the legal cannabis industry. Is one of them the right for you?

    Mark Ralston | Getty Images
    Customers buy marijuana products at the Perennial Holistic Wellness Center which is a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.
    1. Store Managers

    Retail outlets in the legal cannabis industry need managers just like any other operation. These store managers can do pretty well financially, earning as much $75,000 a year. They frequently enjoy medical coverage and vacation time, just like they would if they worked as the manager of a more traditional store. And, they often receive bonuses on top of their standard pay. These can be substantial, especially when managing one of the more successful stores.

    Andrew Burton | Getty Images
    2. Cannabis Sales Representatives

    Cannabis sales reps work just like reps in any other industry. These salespeople are responsible for visiting stores and dispensaries and forging business relationships between them and growers. They must be knowledgeable about all aspects of the business — from the products themselves to any and all relevant regulations. A significant percentage of a sales representative’s salary comes from commission in a traditional industry. And, there’s no reason the legal cannabis industry should be any different. There is great money-making potential here for the talented worker.

    Tom Williams | Getty Images
    A customer at Takoma Wellness Center in Takoma Park, is shown inventory by Stephanie Kahn, owner of the medical marijuana dispensary.
    3. Dispensary Owner

    The job of dispensary owner differs from that of store manager in many ways. Laws around cannabis vary greatly by state, and dispensaries operate in places where cannabis is legal for medical purposes but not for recreation. These owners must stay current in terms of these laws, and adhere to them strictly, in addition to fulfilling the responsibilities of running a business. These folks often earn upwards of $100,000 as compensation for their efforts, assuming their dispensary is successful.

    Mark Ralston | Getty Images
    4. Grow Masters

    The most desired and sought after professionals in the legal cannabis industry might be grow masters. They are responsible for cultivating the strains of marijuana plants which will later be sold to clients. The best grow masters are in high demand. And, they can earn upwards of $100,000 per year.

    “It’s a pretty specific skill set,” Derek Peterson, CEO of the cannabis company Terra Tech Corp told Forbes, “and over time I expect the recreational marijuana will shape up with celebrity cultivators like celebrity chefs.”

    Jason Redmond | Getty Images
    The Herbal Chef CEO and Head Chef Chris Sayegh puts on his uniform. As more US states move to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, the California chef is aiming to elevate haute cuisine to a new level.
    5. Edibles Chefs

    The work of marijuana edibles chefs involves more than just cooking. The work of an edibles chef often revolves around the careful infusion of marijuana concentrate into specific doses for safe and measured consumption. Depending on the size of the business, and the talent level of the chef, these professionals can expect to earn anywhere between $50,000 – $100,000 per year.

    5 high-paying marijuana jobs in the legal cannabis industry originally appeared on PayScale.



    3 Most Popular Extraction Methods For Making Cannabis Concentrates

    Photo credit

    Over the last few years, cannabis concentrates have taken the medical and recreational markets by storm. Whether its shatter, budder, wax, sugar, sauce or rosin, concentrate makers have an answer for your call to consumption. Concentrate makers have honed their process to create some of the tastiest and most potent marijuana concentrates, but there isn’t one right way. There are a variety of methods used by concentrate makers and all have their pros and cons. These are a few tried and true methods – maybe not the best, but they are accessible to even the do-it-at-home crowd.

    Ethanol extracts
    Photo credit
    One of the oldest forms of extraction involves using ethanol. With this method, you soak the plant material in ethanol and then use a purging process to remove the ethanol.

    This is often done using a machine called a Roto-Vap that is used to heat the marijuana-ethanol solution in order to evaporate the ethanol and reclaim it for later use. This can also be accomplished by heating your solution in a hot water bath, but you won’t be able to collect the evaporated ethanol.

    The remaining cannabis oil can then be used to create tinctures, edibles, and concentrates.

    Butane extracts
    Photo credit
    Butane is another popular medium used to extract cannabinoids from cannabis plants. This is one of the more dangerous methods as well.

    Butane extraction can be done at home using simple equipment and is also done on large scales, but the process is relatively the same. To start, fill a tube (metal or plastic) with plant material. The better quality material used directly affects the quality and yield of the extract.

    Then cover one end with a filter or mesh screen with holes small enough to prevent any of your plant material from seeping through. Now, spray the butane into the tube and allow the resulting cannabis-butane solution to drip into a glass dish that is placed below the filter end of your tube.

    At this point, the butane must be purged from the solution for safety. This is accomplished by heating the solution in a hot-water bath. As you slowly heat the butane solution, it will begin to bubble – that is the gas escaping.

    The water-bath will quickly become cold, so changing it frequently is key to purging all the butane. The remaining “goo” is cooled and then used as the concentrate known as shatter.

    C02 extracts

    Supercritical fluid extraction is another common method used to extract cannabinoids from cannabis. While it is possible to use other gasses in their liquid form, C02 is the most commonly used gas in this method.

    C02 is a connoisseur’s preferred extraction medium because it compresses beyond its “critical” point at around 90 °F, a temperature well below the deactivation temperature for cannabinoids and terpenes. This means more flavor and a clearer high from C02derived concentrates.

    This extraction method relies on pressure and temperature to extract the terpenes, cannabinoids, and waxes from the cannabis material. Extractors put their material in an extraction vessel and then force the C02 liquid through the vessel.

    While controlling pressures and temperatures, the cannabinoids, terpenes, and waxes will separate and collect in various chambers attached to the vessel.

    Extractors know at which temperature and pressure each terpene, cannabinoid, and wax separate, from the homogenous solution of marijuana material. This way they are able to target certain flavors and “types of high” produced by the genetics they are using.




    Cannabis Extraction
    learn about the various methods in which cannabis is extracted

    What are Cannabis Extracts?
    Cannabis concentrates, commonly referred to as cannabis extracts, are significantly more potent than your standard cannabis buds. Their applications as medicine have proven to be effective for patients suffering from all sorts of ailments. When made properly, a cannabis concentrate is reminiscent of the cannabis strain it was extracted from; the smell, taste, and effects are simply magnified due to a larger concentration by weight.

    The extraction of cannabis concentrates is a complex and potentially dangerous process and should only be performed by trained professionals. This page describes the most widely used extraction methods and discusses the advantages of each.

    Types of Cannabis Extracts
    Kief is the simplest of concentrates. Kief is composed of the trichomes (the crystalline structures coating the outside surface of the flowers) broken away from the dried plant material, usually via specialized filtering screens and a little elbow grease. Kief is generally considered a lower-quality extract, but some top-flight extractors can produce an extremely clean and flavorful product using the dry sieve method. THC content can range from 20 percent to 60 percent.

    Click here to learn more
    Dry Sieve (Dry Sift)
    A popular form of non-solvent hash is dry sieve (sometimes referred to as “dry sift”). Put simply, dry sieve is a refined version of kief that has been run through a series of screens so that only the trichome heads remain. Thanks in large part to the simplicity of the process, dry sieve is among the easiest ways to produce hash. After all, all that you need to produce quality dry sieve hash is a few good screens to filter out the plant matter, good starting material, and a little bit of time.

    The level of quality is often determined by amount of plant matter and capitulate trichome stalks found in the final product. This process at its highest level yields nothing but the largest, most perfect trichome gland heads and none of the gland stems, plant matter, etc. that generally clouds the quicker, lower-quality kief extractions. The most pure dry sieve hash should melt completely when exposed to heat, known as full-melt dry sieve hash.

    Hash made from the cannabis plant has been around for centuries, and there are plenty of processes in which hash can be made. Ice water extraction is one of the most common processes used to create quality non-solvent hash. The main goal and fundamental idea behind the ice water extraction process is to isolate the trichome heads, which house the essential oils of cannabis, from the stalks and plant matter that carry little-to-no medicinal value.

    The quality of the resulting hash is often determined by the size of the isolated trichome heads and the extent to which it melts when heated (full-melt being the best). The most important part of the ice water extraction process is drying the final product. If not properly dried, the hash can develop mold and other forms of microbiological life that could potentially be harmful to your body.

    The powdery kief that coats your cannabis flowers can be collected and pressed together to form hash. Additionally solvents like ice water or ethanol may be used to more effectively strip the cannabis plant of its cannabinoid-loaded trichomes. Though not as potent as BHO and other cannabis concentrates, hash remains a staple of cannabis culture around the world for its clean, all-natural extraction process.

    Butane Hash Oil (BHO)
    Butane Hash Oil, commonly referred to as BHO, is a type of cannabis concentrate made using butane as the main solvent. While a number of variables can determine the final consistency of BHO (mostly temperature), people use different names when referring to each of the different consistencies. Shatter for instance, refers to the glass-like consistency that often snaps or “shatters” when handled. Budder, honeycomb, crumble, and sap are also used to describe the different textures, though they all fall under the category of BHO.

    Under this form of extraction, THC content can be as high as 80-90%. This makes BHO a popular choice for many medical marijuana patients suffering from chronic pain, sleep disorders, and other intractable symptoms. Always be sure that your oil is lab tested for purity, as improperly purged BHO may contain traces of butane, pesticides, or other unhealthy ingredients/contaminants.

    Supercritical CO2 Oil
    Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a supercritical fluid, meaning it converts into a liquid form when pressurized. At the same time, CO2 is a pure chemical substance that occurs naturally and leaves behind no residues. In fact, supercritical CO2 extraction is already a standard extraction method for the food, dry cleaning and herbal supplement industries. It is a common food additive as well.

    The CO2 extraction process allows compounds to be extracted with low toxicity; it utilizes a high pressure vessel containing cannabis. Supercritical CO2 is inserted into the vessel and pumped through a filter where it is separated from the plant matter once the pressure is released. Next, the supercritical CO2 evaporates and is dissolved into the cannabinoids.

    Click here to learn more
    Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
    Also known as cannabis oil, hemp oil, Phoenix Tears, and Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), whole-plant cannabis oil can be orally administered or applied directly to the skin. Sublingual delivery is the preferred method of treatment for many cancer patients. Not only is it a convenient way to medicate, but intake through the oral mucosal membranes in your mouth provides for rapid and effective absorption directly into your systemic circulation because of the increased bioavailability of the cannabinoids.

    Note: Whole-plant cannabis oil is not the same as “hemp seed oil.” Hemp seed oil is a cold-pressed oil made from the seeds of the hemp plant. It is rich with essential fatty oils and is used mostly for its nutritional benefits. You can easily buy it in health food stores. It often gets mislabeled as “hemp oil,” but it is not. True whole-plant oil derived from the cannabis plant, on the other hand, is made from the buds/flower of the female marijuana plant and is comprised of many different cannabinoids including THC, CBD, CBN, and more — in addition to terpenes and other compounds. Many other businesses now sell their own renditions of Rick Simpson Oil, some of which are high in THC while others contain only non-psychoactive compounds like CBD. Be sure to do your research before making/buying any RSO products.

    Click here to learn more
    Rosin has been gaining a lot of traction in the medical cannabis community as of lately and for good reason. Rosin is a solid form of resin that is obtained by adding pressure & heat to vaporize volatile liquid terpenes, typically with an industrial heat press (or even a hair straightener for small batches).
    The rosin technique is quick, simple and affordable, allowing anyone to create quality solventless hash in a matter of seconds. To get started making Rosin, you only need a few basic tools in order to create a quality finished product, but not nearly as many as you need with other extraction techniques.

    Click here to learn more




    CANNABIS 101
    6 Ways to Enjoy Cannabis Without Having to Smoke It
    March 23, 2015
    Think back to the first time you smoked cannabis. You probably recall the burning throat, the uncoordinated attempts to use a carb, the inability to gauge how long to pull the smoke… Ah yes, those were the days. But the memories of yesteryear for you veterans are very alive and real for those just now jumping on the cannabis bandwagon.

    Not everyone likes to smoke, and those with compromised lung health may not even have the option. The stigmatized image of smoking might be the only thing stopping some people from trying cannabis, even if they live in a state with legal marijuana (maybe you can see your mom taking a bong rip, but I sure can’t).

    Even though there are a number of different ways you can consume cannabis that have evolved over the years, you may be looking for a more health-conscious option. Here are some suggestions for a smoke-free cannabis experience.

    1. Vaporizing

    You don’t need to torch your cannabis with a lighter to reap its benefits; actually, its chemical compounds vaporize at a much lower, less harmful temperature. The taste of vaporized cannabis is often preferred to that of combusted flower, and the vapor is much easier on the lungs. Larger table-top vaporizers can offer high-quality vapor with advanced temperature settings, while small hand-held devices let you enjoy cannabis flower or oils wherever you go. These days there are many affordable vaporizers to choose from if you’re interested in trying out this smokeless form of cannabis consumption.


    Which Type of Vaporizer Best Suits You?

    2. Edibles

    One of the more obvious alternatives to smoking is cannabis-infused food and drink. The diversity of marijuana edibles is quickly and vastly expanding, so much so that you can infuse virtually anything that calls for butter or oil. You can make your own at home (it’s surprisingly easy, but be cautious with dosing), but dispensaries and retail shops often have a staggering number of options, from infused lemonade to roasted garlic crackers. You’ve probably heard it already, but it must be said: start with a low dose and be patient. Because of the digestive process, edibles take much longer to kick in and can have intensely psychoactive effects.


    5 Tips to Safely Dose and Enjoy High-THC Cannabis Edibles

    3. Ingestible Oils

    Ingestible oils are basically any cannabis concentrate that is taken orally. These most commonly come in capsules or plastic applicators, either of which can be consumed directly or added to food or drink. Like edibles, ingestible oils can induce powerful effects that take a while to kick in, so be mindful of your dose!


    Explore the Diverse World of Cannabis Oil and Concentrates

    4. Tinctures

    Tinctures are infused liquids that extract cannabis compounds using an alcohol soak and are applied directly under the tongue. Unlike ingestible oils and infused foods, tinctures enter the bloodstream immediately, allowing for fast-acting effects and better dose control. A variety of flavors, potencies, and cannabinoid profiles are often available, catering to your specific preferences or medical needs.


    Cannabis Tinctures 101: What Are They, How to Make Them, and How to Use Them

    5. Topicals

    Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions and balms that are applied directly to the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. One unique property of cannabis topicals is their ability to treat symptoms without psychoactive effects, so if you need to be clear-headed and bypass that euphoric high altogether, topicals are the way to go.


    What Are Cannabis Topicals and How Do They Work?

    6. Dabbing

    Dabbing is a method of flash-vaporization in which cannabis concentrates are dropped on a heated water-pipe attachment and inhaled for intensely potent effects. The attachment is a glass or metallic nail that’s heated up using a butane torch – and if that sounds sketchy to you, the public eye wouldn’t disagree. But dabbing enthusiasts typically elect this method because (a) properly refined concentrates offer a clean experience free of plant material, and (b) dabbing produces a vapor as opposed to smoke. It may not be the option you suggest to a first-time cannabis consumer, but it’s certainly an option for graduates.





    So You Want To Build A Grow Facility…
    [​IMG]by Nathan Mendel
    The green rush is on! As everyone knows, Colorado is on the forefront of the cannabis revolution. Numerous other states, most notably Washington, on the adult-recreational side, and many others on the medical side, are following close behind.

    Recent statistics shared by Chris Walsh with Marijuana Business Daily, at the CannaBusiness Money Show in Boston last week, put the legal cannabis industry at well over a billion dollars in 2014. The industry is then expected grow 40-60% annually for the next several years.

    The Boston Money Show was sold out, as were similar shows in Chicago and San Francisco, with folks clamoring for information. Budding entrepreneurs were anxious to figure out how to involve themselves in the still early stages of this post-prohibition era.

    [​IMG]My company, Your Green Contractor (YGC), has seen growth of well over 100% in the last couple of years (and we are a 17-year mature business) due in large part to our involvement in the building of grow facilities, retail dispensaries, MIPS kitchens and extraction rooms.

    If you are interested in building a grow facility, keep in mind that local codes are CONSTANTLY changing as the local building departments and fire departments try to keep pace with the rapid rate of changes in the industry. In Denver, we receive fire code updates directly. The review requirements have changed twice in the last two weeks alone.

    All of this means it is incredibly important to consult with an architect and/or contractor who is intimately familiar with the industry and up to date with the latest changes.

    Starting a New Project
    If you are not dissuaded from jumping in yet, let’s talk about a few issues to keep an eye on specifically related to building a grow facility. Let’s assume you already have a space secured and you are lucky to only be paying two-to-three times the normal market rate due to your chosen industry.

    Hopefully, you have had a contractor helping you to evaluate your potential buildings, so you are prepared with budget costs. These costs may include upgrading the electrical service and reinforcing the roof to support the numerous new heating and cooling (HVAC) units that are going to be required for your nursery, veg and flower rooms. Click here and scroll down to “White Papers” and enter your e-mail address for an instant downloadable white paper on what to look for when evaluating a potential grow building.

    From there, you will need to have an in-depth conversation with your contractor regarding the way that you are planning to grow. We have built dozens of grow facilities and the one thing we have learned is that no two growers are producing cannabis the same way. Some are in soil, some are going hydroponic, and others are utilizing mediums such as coconut shells. Some are watering by hand, others are automatic. Some are in pots, others are on tables. Some are using CO2, others are conventional. Some are utilizing movable lighting gantries, others are using fixed lights. The variances are unlimited, so even if you have a contractor that is well versed in the industry, you still need to take the lead in explaining your building requirements.


    Determining Project Timing
    A key element of early conversations is to talk about timing. Many growers do not have a good understanding of the timeframes for projects. There are three key elements of project timing:

    1. Design

    • Architectural Drawings (Complete Set)
    • Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Drawings (must be completed by a licensed engineer to make sure that your spaces function properly. It is of utmost importance that you don’t overload the electrical system and burn down your (or your landlord’s) building.

    The Design process can take from 4-8 weeks depending on the size and complexity of the project and also how busy your architect is. A quick tip: If the architect is not busy, you probably don’t have the right one.

    2. Plan Submittal and Review

    • Submit completed sets of drawings to the local building department
    • Submit the same completed sets of drawings to the fire department
    • Check with the local water department. Often they are not related to the building department and will require a separate application for the water tap.

    Plan review times vary GREATLY from one jurisdiction to another, and can take from 2-8 weeks, or longer if there are comments and revisions are needed. Plan on the longer time frame and you will be pleasantly surprised if the permit arrives more quickly. Some jurisdictions have an “over-the-counter” permit option for simple projects. In our experience, there is no such thing as a simple marijuana related project and this quick permit will NEVER be available. A quick tip: The building department and fire department may or may not be one in the same. These departments rarely talk to each other, so do NOT assume that the plans you submit to the building department will be coordinated with the fire department.


    3. Construction

    Once you have a complete design and a permit has been issued, you are on the home stretch! It is difficult to talk about durations for the construction as we have built grows from less than 1,000 square feet to over 80,000 square feet, but we will offer a bit of advice.

    After receiving the permit, your contractor should be able to give you a schedule, IN WRITING, with a project completion date, as well as key milestone dates along the way. Milestones may include passing rough inspections, pouring the floor back after underground plumbing, deliveries of major equipment, etc.

    If you are supplying items outside of your contract with your contractor, such as grow lights, find out when these items are needed. You do not want to be the reason for a delay to the schedule.

    There are also often outside vendors, who do not come under the control of the general contractor, but that need to be made part of the overall schedule. Your security contractor is a prime example. Typically the security folks are contracted directly with the grower, but having them in contact with the contractor from the beginning is crucial. Their wiring is typically installed at the same time as the electrician’s rough wiring, BEFORE the drywall is installed. Coming back in later to “fish” wires into finished walls is expensive and inefficient.

    During construction, communication is inordinately important. Construction of grow houses has some nuances, but it is not difficult. What trips up projects most often is poor communication and assumptions made on both sides. Do NOT assume anything. Communicate regularly, and then communicate some more. Ask questions. Review the schedule regularly. If there is a change from the schedule it should be noted in writing.

    Schedule changes could result from scope changes based on an inspector’s comments, subcontractor issues or errors or any other number of things. If a subcontractor causes a schedule slip, it is important for your contractor to show you on paper how they plan to regain the completion date.


    Building a Grow Facility The Right Way
    In conclusion, there are hundreds of variables that go into every construction project. Add to this that every jurisdiction interprets the code differently, and the number of potential pitfalls expands exponentially. Building a grow is not the same as building a car, where the process is repeated over and over again in a controlled environment. Every construction project is unique.

    Choose your contractor carefully. Choose your contractor EARLY. Communicate with your contractor often. Be patient. Be pleasant with the City. And before you know it, you will be growing beautiful green plants that allow for a profit margin that most farmers can only dream about. The green rush in on! Are you ready to be a part of it?





    Indica vs. Sativa Medical Marijuana Strain Differences
    [​IMG]by Zach Reichard
    For those in medical marijuana accepted states, your eyes have probably been opened to the extensive range of cannabis, both medicinally, and in variety. This has caused many medical marijuana patients to become rather picky when it comes to choosing their herbal medicine. While that may come across as pretentious, it is purely a matter of being informed of the medicinal, and psychoactive effects of different varieties of cannabis and knowing how each affects you.

    While we recognize the fact that most people do not share the same luxury, we recommend becoming familiar with the different types of cannabis and their effects so that you can have some idea what you are medicating with. If you do live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, this will hopefully serve as a helpful guide when selecting your next strain of cannabis.

    Indica vs. Sativa Strain Differences
    When it comes to telling the difference between different samples of marijuana, there are two main types, or ‘classifications’, that make up the majority of all medical marijuana ‘strains’ that appear on dispensary menus. These two main classification types are popularly known as Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica.


    Cannabis Sativa
    Cannabis Sativa grow taller and thinner than Indica strains. Sativa strains originated in the equatorial countries of Columbia, Mexico, Thailand, and South East Asia and thrive in warmer weather. The leaves of Sativa are much more narrow than those of Indica, and are typically a lighter shade of green.

    Sativa plants have known to stretch to extraordinary heights of up to 20 feet when grown outside, and have much longer vegetation periods. Once the plant begins to flower, it can take anywhere from ten to sixteen weeks to fully mature. Since vegetation periods are so long, these plants typically produce a much higher yield than Indica strains (3 ounces to 1 pound per plant), but possess a lower THC percentage than Indica on average (around 12-16%).

    Sativa plants are known to be extremely pungent smelling, with aromas ranging from sweet and fruity, to earthy with undertones of diesel fuel. Many of our favorite sativa strains such as Cherry AK, Green Crack, Trainwreck, Jack Herer, and J-1 all have a similar sweet and peppery smell that is classic of sativa. Some strains like Trainwreck will be more peppery, while Cherry AK is extremely sweet smelling. Although these strains will all provide similar effects, the distinction lies in these differences in smell, formally known as their ‘terpene profile’. Once you are familiar with all the different terpenes that are present in cannabis, it is fairly easy to detect what strain you are smoking based on scent alone.

    Cannabis Sativa are particularly effective in treating mental and behavioral issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, and ADHD.”

    Sativa strains are known to produce an uplifting and cerebral high that is typically very energizing and stimulating. Sativa are known to make you laugh uncontrollably or engage in in-depth conversations about the meaning of life. These strains typically cause you to analyze the human experience and think creatively, which makes Cannabis Sativa very popular among philosophers, artists and musicians. Some Sativa even have been found to enhance lights and sounds, making music, movies, and the rest of your surroundings more vibrant than ever before.

    Patients looking for the perfect morning medication or daytime relief could benefit from accompanying their breakfast or lunch with a vaporizer packed with Strawberry Diesel or Cherry AK. Both of these strains are known to give you a long lasting, clear-head (sometimes cerebral) that will leave you uplifted and energetic.

    Cannabis Indica
    On the contrary, Cannabis Indica are short and stout in composure (2-4 feet tall), and typically yield smaller (1.5 to 2.5 ounces per plant), higher quality crops (~18% THC) than Cannabis Sativa. The plants are believed to have originated in the Middle East (Pakistan & Afghanistan), and thrive in cooler environments. Indica strains are typically darker green than sativa and have shorter, fatter leaves.

    Since the plants grow so short they are ideal for indoor growing. The buds are thick and dense, flowering in anywhere from eight to twelve weeks. The flavors and smells of Cannabis Indica include; pine, pungent skunk, earth, hash, or a sweet and sugary fruit flavor.

    “However, most people use Cannabis Indica after a long day at work to relieve stress, provide full-body pain relief, and help them fall asleep at night.”

    The effects produced by Indica strains are very relaxing and narcotic-like, typically providing a full-body, or “couch-locked” effect. Indica are perfect for those days spent curled up on the couch watching TV, or surfing the web. However, most people seek Cannabis Indica after a long day at work to relieve stress, provide full-body pain relief, and help them fall asleep at night.

    Indica strains are ideal for chronic pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, nausea, appetite stimulation, and sleep deprivation. Individuals who suffer from diseases like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, sleep apnea and insomnia tend to benefit from the effects of Cannabis Indica. Patients looking for the ideal Indica to put you straight to sleep should consider trying any strain with OG or Kush in its genetics; our favorite night-time strains include GDP, Pure Kush, and God’s Gift. All of which provide significant pain relieve coupled with heavy sedative effects.

    Hybrids Explained
    There are a wide range of cannabis strains in between Indica and Sativa. These strains are known as “Hybrids” and show traits directly related to the genetics in its lineage. Hybrids can be broken down into three basic categories:

    1. Sativa-dominant Hybrids: Cerebral high with a relaxing body effect. Provides physical and mental relief. Here are some examples of strains that are Sativa-dominant hybrids: Mars OG, Neptune OG, Headband, Juicy Fruit, J1, Sour Diesel, Purple Trainwreck
    2. Even Hybrids (50/50): Ideal strains for people seeking a perfect balance of head and body. Here are some examples of strains that are 50/50 Hybrids: Cheese, White Widow, Blue Dream, Blue Widow, XJ-13, Purple Diesel, Super Silver Haze
    3. Indica-dominant Hybrids: These strains provide a full-body pain relief, with a relaxing head high. Recommended for nighttime use to go to sleep, or daytime relief from minor pain. These strains are perfect for patients who suffer from all types of autoimmune diseases as well as insomnia or depression. Here are some examples of strains that are Indica-dominant Hybrids: Tahoe OG, SFV OG, Kosher Kush, Skywalker OG, Purple Urkle, Girl Scout Cookies, Blackberry Kush

    The interesting thing about cannabis is that even when you compare strains across the, “pure Indica” and “pure Sativa” genres, there are clear differences in effects. For example, Durban Poison is a pure Sativa from Africa with an uplifting high. On the contrary, our recently reviewed Panama Red (also a pure Sativa) is known to create a mellow, relaxing head-high. These two plants originated from different continents and have different effects, but are both classified as pure Cannabis Sativa. This means that the classification of cannabis is far more intricate than most believed.

    Other Types of Cannabis
    Cannabis Ruderalis is another species of cannabis whose potential benefits have only begun to be explored. This species of cannabis grows wild in parts of Eastern Europe and Russia, so it is accustomed to colder weather. Ruderalis plants contain lower percentages of THC, but are frequently cross-bred with Sativa strains to produce plants that grow short like Ruderalis, and can bear the weather of outdoor grows up north where Sativa strains can not usually flourish. These hybrids are known as auto-flowering strains, because of the short flowering period that Ruderalis carries with it (2-3 weeks after germination).

    The strains are typically more resistant to insect infestation and disease pressures, and are thought to have high CBD content. The whole life span of these plants can be as short as 7 weeks long, and are relatively simple to grow, which has made them more popular among home growers.

    Marijuana is a complex plant with endless possible strain combinations that are nearly impossible to classify. While we do our best, it is clear that it is far more complex than simply classifying strains as Sativa or Indica. Nevertheless, we hope this guide will at least provide some insight on the topic, and allow you to recognize the differences in the buds you are medicating with.

    Helpful links & resources regarding the classification(s) of cannabis:

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