The Future of California’s Regulations: Q&A with Josh Drayton

Josh Drayton, deputy director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, has an extensive career in local and state-level politics, with his origins in Humboldt County as a political organizer. As a coffee shop owner about ten years ago in Humboldt, he let city council candidates use his space for community engagement, which eventually steered him towards a career in politics. As a heavily involved resident of Northern California and an advocate in local and state matters, he came to understand cannabis as a strong economic driver for the region and beyond.

Drayton saw firsthand how local economies benefit from cannabis as a source of income, economic activity, and providing occupational opportunities for many families in Humboldt County. After running a handful of local campaigns in the Humboldt region, Drayton served as deputy director for a state senate campaign in Riverside.

Josh Drayton, deputy director of the CCIA

Towards the end of his tenure with the Democratic Party in California, the state legislature began working on medical cannabis regulations. “As we saw those regulations moving through, cities and counties began to ban cannabis throughout the state, which was a very unintended consequence,” says Drayton. “The goal was to put regulations forward that would create a framework for the industry to survive and function under, but they were not very fond of cannabis at the time. It was clear that we had a lot of work to do.” Politicians shying away from cannabis issues and a lack of real representation in the legislature for those stakeholders drove him to leave the state’s senate for the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA).

In January of 2016, he jumped on board with the CCIA as their deputy director. Ahead of the California Cannabis Business Conference, September 21-22 in Anaheim, we sit down with Drayton to hear his take on the future of California’s cannabis regulations.

CannabisIndustryJournal: Give us a quick update on the regulatory framework in California and the changes we should expect.

Josh Drayton: One of the biggest challenges that California has faced has been the reconciliation of medical regulations with adult use regulations. Although California had medical cannabis legalized in 1996, we did not get those regulations put forward until 2015. That was called the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. That was approved by the state legislature and signed by the governor into law. It was created in the legislature. When Prop 64 passed, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, in November of 2016, it was passed through by a voter initiative. Any time that a piece of legislation goes to the voters, it trumps any legislation or regulations written by the state legislature. The real work has been to reconcile these two pieces of legislation into one regulatory structure. With that being said, we saw the initial trailer bill, attempting to reconcile these regulatory structures. That trailer bill is meant to address the new framework. Currently, we are waiting for the second viewing of the updated trailer bill SB 94 with all current amendments. Then we are anticipating those in the next couple weeks and we will see the regulations that will affect all these changes by November.

CIJ: How strong will local and municipal control be in the future?

Josh: It is incredibly strong and it is meant to be. I will say that California is like its own country. In Northern California, what they are willing to accept is very different in comparison to Southern California. Every city and county still has the ability to fully ban adult use and they can create and draft their own ordinances and regulations as long as it doesn’t go above state requirements. They can craft an ordinance to fit the needs of their city or county. Lets say you are in a rural area, delivery services might be important for patient access. Some areas might not allow brick and mortar dispensaries, and all that control lies in the cities and counties.

CIJ: Will there be a dosing limit for patients buying infused products? What about for adult use?

Josh: For adult use, there is going to be a limitation. Every edible has a maximum potency of 10mg of THC. For example, a chocolate bar can have a maximum of 100mg [of THC] but must be perforated in to 10mg pieces.

We have been advocating for, and what has been a priority for CCIA, is a lift of any sort of limits on medical infused products. Many patients have a higher threshold or tolerance and they may need 100mg and we don’t want them eating an entire chocolate bar to get that. We are anxiously awaiting the new trailer bill to see if we have been able to lift that concentration limit.

CIJ: Some have said the first draft of lab testing rules is extreme and overreaching. Can you speculate how those have been modified?

Josh: The lab testing is a huge educational issue for the industry and regulators. No state right now has been able to fully analyze the effects of different pesticide levels for a product that is smoked. We are basing all of our standards currently on food consumption. A lot of testing labs are concerned they are unable to test at the state’s threshold for some of these contaminants and pesticides; the detection limits seem very low. The testing portion will take years to work out, I am sure we will remove and add different pesticides and contaminants to the list. But again, the data and research isn’t fully there. There is a big push across the board that we will be able to do more research and testing so that the future of regulations can reflect reality, and ensure that consumer safety is priority.

CIJ: What do you think of the lack of residency requirement? When Oregon lifted it, outside investors flocked to the market. How might that impact local, California ownership and smaller businesses?

Josh: Well I do think that is a concern across the board. That is something that cities and counties have been adding to their requirements for the matrix of items needed to get a license. I think there is a very gray area when looking at investors opposed to operators. At what threshold does an investor become an owner? And if that person is from outside the state, how will that reflect on the evolution of the industry? It is a concern. Keeping limitations on the size of outdoor cultivation might help limit folks from outside the state coming into that arena. After living in Humboldt County for years, and living next to Mom and Pop growers for a long time, I don’t want to see them displaced by businesses coming from another area. We have been doing this a long time and I believe we have the best operators in the world.

CIJ: How is the CCIA helping businesses gear up for changing regulations?

Josh: Well one of our biggest areas of focus is education. Educating our own industry is one of the biggest parts in making sure the industry will be successful in this regulated market. Our legislative committee will take a position of support or opposition, which goes to our board, and those recommendations go to the state. The manufacturing committee has worked very closely with Lori Ajax [director of the Bureau of Cannabis Regulation] and her office, to educate on a variety of areas, guiding the way for state departments on how to properly regulate the industry. We have a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Retail/Delivery, Testing, Distribution and Agricultural committees; across the board our committees create white papers that we submit to the regulatory departments of the state. We take regulatory officials on tours of facilities to get a hands-on view of what they are regulating. They have been speaking with scientists and growers, who often have a better understanding of current industry standards. We see these tours as very helpful. We have brought groups of regulators from LA County, Long Beach, Napa, Alameda and many others on tours of Bay Area commercial manufacturing facilities, dispensaries and nurseries. They have a lot of questions and we want to make sure we are a resource for them. Putting folks in touch with the right people and, in moving forward with this process, in an educated manner. Cannabis is a foreign language to many people and I get that.

CIJ: If you have one recommendation for regulators, what would that be?

Josh: My recommendation to regulators: do not over-tax this industry. Do not make taxation the priority for regulation. Over-taxation will strengthen the illicit market and that is not the goal. We need to make sure the taxes are reasonable to encourage businesses to operate in this market, not in the illegal one. If cities decide to ban, they need to know they can be hubs for illicit activity. Cities with bans might draw the illicit market because illegal operators won’t have to pay taxes or license fees. It is a long play, but responsible taxation is the best path to draw people out of this illicit market. We want to help protect public safety and health, safe medicine, safe products and keep cannabis out of the hands of children.

The post The Future of California’s Regulations: Q&A with Josh Drayton appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.


Canadian Company Recalls Contaminated Cannabis

Broken Coast Cannabis Ltd., a cannabis business located on Vancouver Island, issued a voluntary recall of three cannabis lots due to the detection of pesticides. According to the safety alert published on Health Canada’s website, the voluntary Type III recall follows an inspection of the facility back in March of this year.

A Type III recall means those products are not likely to cause negative health effects. Sampling of those three cannabis lots found a cannabis oil product in July to contain low levels of Myclobutanil and Spinosad.

Upon further testing, a cannabis leaf sample was found to contain 0.017 parts-per-million of Myclobutanil. A third party laboratory confirmed the presence of that fungicide, leading them to recall three lots of dried cannabis sold between July and December of 2016, according to that safety alert.

Spinosad, an insecticide, and Myclobutanil, a fungicide, are not authorized for use with cannabis plants per the Pest Control Products Act, however they are approved for use in food production. The health risks of ingesting either of those two chemicals are well documented. “Health Canada has not received adverse reaction reports related to Broken Coast Cannabis Ltd.’s products sold affected by the recall,” reads the safety alert. “Health Canada recommends that any individual affected by the recall immediately stop using the recalled product and to contact Broken Coast Cannabis Ltd., at the following number 1-888-486-7579.”

The post Canadian Company Recalls Contaminated Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.


Grow Q&A: Can I Use Predatory Lacewings to Kill Aphids on My Pot Plants?

Photo by Kent Sea.

Dear Dan,
My plants have aphids and my buddy suggested I use “lacewings.” What are they and how do I deploy them?
— Billy

Dear Billy,

Green Lacewings are predatory insects from the Chrysopidae family. Their larvae feed on the eggs and immature stages of pests including spider-mites, thrips, whiteflies and more. In other words, they work great in an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) system as an organic alternative to potentially harmful pesticides.

And the good news is that the larvae love to devour aphids, so much so that they’re sometimes referred to as aphid lions!

You can order them online, and they are shipped as eggs in an inert medium made up of rice or bran hulls. You disperse the mix around the base of your plants, and within a few days, they will hatch and start munching on aphids and their eggs.

Don’t miss our previous Grow Q&A: Help! Mites and Mold Are Killing My Pot Plants!
For all of HIGH TIMES’ grow coverage, click here.


San Diego MMJ Patients Share Their Stories

Medical marijuana patients gathered in the historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, California to share how cannabis has had a positive impact on their lives. The event, organized by community education group CannItalk, was held Monday at a cleverly designed bar with a mobile home theme, Trailer Park After Dark.

A videographer was on hand to record participants stories. The videos will be edited and compiled into a presentation for the San Diego City Council. The council will be meeting September 11 to consider proposed regulations that could allow for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, testing, and distribution business activities within city limits.

Currently, the city only licenses medical marijuana dispensaries, with no legal framework in place for a local supply of products.

Gaslamp Quarter (Photo by A.J. Herrington)

One of the speakers at the event, San Diegan Pattie Harris, 56, has had diabetes since she was a child. Her condition has been complicated by diabetic neuropathy, a disease characterized by nerve damage and severe, sometimes debilitating, pain. Because of the nerve damage, she also suffers from a digestive ailment known as gastroparesis.

Pattie was prescribed the standard course of treatment for her condition—pharmaceuticals. Over the years, she was given 19 different medications to treat pain, insomnia, depression and anxiety. When the dosage of powerful opiates she was taking got so high that side effects left her unable to live her life, she decided enough was enough.

So, she searched for a new form of treatment. What she found was cannabis.

However, the stigma attached to marijuana, even for medicinal use, made Pattie hesitant. Her desire to try cannabis made her feel desperate, immoral even. Sometimes she felt she “should just take prescription drugs and be happy.” But that wasn’t working, and she knew something had to change.

A former teacher, Pattie did everything she could to educate herself. Her research led her to try commercially available infused edibles. She found relief, but decided the products on the market were inconsistent in potency and quality. She began experimenting in the kitchen, and now relies on a homemade cannabis ghee.

She performs her whole-plant extraction in large batches of six quarts at a time, which she has lab tested for potency. Pattie determines her dose based on her pain and function, generally totaling about 20-60 mg of THC per day.

Pattie Harris (Photo by A.J. Herrington)

Since starting cannabis, Pattie has been able to give up nearly all her prescription drugs. The dosage for the two she still takes, insulin and a high blood pressure medication, have been reduced to one-third of what she was taking previously.

Pattie is happy she has found cannabis, but she also harbors some resentment towards public perceptions of marijuana, and the side effects of her treatment over the years.

“I feel angry about misinformation,” Pattie said after speaking to the group. “I feel angry about believing the propaganda about marijuana. And I feel pissed at pharma for doing this to me.”

The organizers of CannItalk encourage all who support safe access to medical marijuana to attend the city council meeting on September 11. The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. in City Hall. Activists will be meeting beforehand, outdoors at the civic concourse, to demonstrate and organize for public comment at the meeting.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.


Atlanta Postal Workers Charged with Taking Bribes to Deliver Drugs

BY KATE BRUMBACK
ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATLANTA (AP) — Sixteen postal workers in Atlanta and the surrounding area accepted bribes to deliver packages of cocaine, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

In exchange for bribery payments, the postal workers provided special addresses on their routes where the drugs could be shipped and then intercepted the packages and delivered them to a person they believed was a drug trafficker using the postal system to ship multiple kilograms of cocaine at a time into the area, U.S. Attorney John Horn said.

But it was actually a sting operation: The supposed drug trafficker was working with law enforcement and the packages contained fake drugs.

“Postal employees are entrusted with a vital function in our communities. They often are visiting people’s homes and having personal interaction with our citizens,” Horn said. “The defendants in this case allegedly breached that critical trust by accepting work from somebody that they believed to be a drug dealer. For a simple few extra bucks in their pockets, they were willing to not only bring what they believed to be dangerous drugs into our communities, but they also jeopardized the safety of their co-workers and the residents they served.”

Some of the postal workers recruited others to join the trafficking scheme and got extra money for packages delivered by their recruits, Horn said.

Another man, who was not a postal worker, was also charged after prosecutors said he introduced some of the postal workers to the supposed drug trafficker and coordinated logistics of the plan in exchange for money.

The multiyear investigation developed after the FBI learned while pursuing other cases that dealers were using the postal system to move drugs and avoid law enforcement detection, Horn said.

The 16 postal workers and the other man were charged in three separate indictments that were unsealed Tuesday.

“While the vast majority of U.S. Postal Service personnel are hard-working and trustworthy individuals who are dedicated to delivering mail and would never consider engaging in criminal behavior, these charges reflect the select few who decided to betray the trust,” said Paul Bowman, special agent in charge of the Atlanta area office of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

The postal workers charged include 15 letter carriers and one clerk who worked for post offices in Atlanta, Decatur, Doraville, Marietta, Riverdale and Sandy Springs.

“There’s been an increased number of occurrences across the country where postal service carriers have been subjected to violence,” Horn said. “What you can imagine is that the intersection of drug activity with having a postal carrier out in the community is something that leads to just a potential for violence that’s really unacceptable.”

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ news right here.


From Seed to Smoke: 10 Basic Tips for Growing Your Own at Home

As part of our 500th-issue celebration, we’re answering the single most-asked question from our growers’ mailbag.

Here is the question: Can you please list all of the necessary steps I need to know from seed to harvest? (Asked, in one form or another, more than 680 times since the start of 2017.) Well, the answer usually requires at least a book (or several, depending on how far you want to take it), but we’re going to attempt it here in 10 easy-to-follow steps.

Good luck, everyone… Who knows, maybe you’ll be our next Cannabis Cup champion!

Clones offer uniformity and easy access from local dispensaries. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

Step 1: Get Some Seeds (or Clones)

We start off by answering the second-most-asked question: “Where do I get seeds?” Indeed, in today’s world of feminized seeds and sinsemilla (Spanish for “without seeds”) bud, it’s more difficult than ever to find a few beans in your eighth of weed.

The solution, if you live in a medical or recreational state, is to find a local dispensary that sells clones, check them closely for mites and mold, and away you go. Of course, for more than half of the United States, and in many other narrow-minded countries across the globe, this is simply not a reality. Instead, these folks need to rely on some good old-fashioned rebels, mainly the offshore seeds banks shrewdly located in places where seeds aren’t illegal to possess or sell. Some of these seed banks will ship worldwide—at the buyer’s risk. Still, quite a few of them do manage to get their seed packs through customs to your door with a bit of ingenious packaging. But, as always, the first rule is never to have your seeds shipped to the same address where your garden will be! And the second rule is to read the fine print on these companies’ websites, as many claim that they’ll ship “worldwide,” but then list the countries that they won’t ship to (including the US)—so once you send that money order, you can kiss your allowance goodbye.

Seeds can be more vigorous in growth, but harder to find—unless they’re in your buds! (Automatic Haze Seed photo courtesy of Dinafem Seeds)

This is definitely one of the harder obstacles to overcome when it comes to growing your own head stash, but you’d be surprised how word of mouth and simply asking around can get you a few gems to sprout at home. However, if you’re feeling bold and want to undertake a seed-bank adventure, you might check out the following sites: bcbuddepot.com; dinafem.org; bigbuddhaseeds.com; and cannabis-seeds-bank.co.uk.

Step 2: Choose Your Space and Your Light

Whether you’re planning to grow indoors or out, finding a smart and secure space is critical to the success of your garden. The most important aspects to consider are its dimensions (especially height), security and, of course, light.

Outdoor growers should make sure that the area they choose is a large, secluded clearing free of shrubs, brush and overhanging trees that can shade out a garden. Southern-facing clearings are usually the best option in North America, as they enjoy the most sunlight during daytime hours. It’s also important to keep in mind that while a plot may appear clear in the early spring, a host of weeds, shrubbery and tree branches may be present by midsummer. Thus, clearing the ground of all vegetative matter and trimming back nearby tree branches (or, even better, not having any trees nearby at all) is imperative.

Indoor growers will want to consider the overall height of their garden space, taking into account the fact that a lamp will likely hang approximately 2 feet below the ceiling and plants should only grow to within 18 inches of the light, thereby eliminating at least 3.5 feet from the overall height of the space. This is one of several reasons why attics often prove to be inadequate as grow spaces—not to mention that heat rises in homes, which usually makes an attic space too hot for an indoor garden.

Basements, empty garages and spare bedrooms often provide the best spaces for home grows. When you factor in the newest all-in-one solutions for indoor gardens, such as grow tents, grow cabinets, or plug-and-play hydroponic systems, the solution to the puzzle quickly takes shape. Indoor tents are probably the most popular option for home growers these days, as they usually come in package deals that also include garden pots, medium, nutrients, fans, filters and lighting, thereby offering beginner growers a turn-key operation right out of the box. More experienced growers can simply buy the grow tent in almost any size footprint they want and then build and customize the garden to their own specifications.

A simple basement grow tent with two HPS lamps makes for an easy home garden. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

The most important aspect of the indoor garden will be the lighting used; most failed attempts are the direct result of growers cutting corners on their lamps. While it’s understandable to want to eliminate heat emissions and high power draws, gardens that don’t deploy high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps will pay for it with low yields and low potency. Metal halide (MH) lights are the norm for plants in the vegetative stage, while high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights are recommended for flowering plants.

Although compact fluorescents and LEDs are excellent sources of supplemental lighting for HID lamps—especially under the canopy or along the sides of the garden—there are few of these on the market today that can be used as stand-alone grow lights to take a garden to harvest. LEDs that are intended as solo lamps need to provide full-spectrum white light, but these usually cost quite a bit more than traditional HID lights, while also consuming just as much electricity. For small indoor gardens, a 250- or 400-watt HID light will do the job nicely.

Step 3: Choose Your Medium and Containers

Whether you’re growing indoors or out, the next step is deciding the type of medium you’ll cultivate your plants in, especially since the root zone is extremely important to a plant’s growth and development. Containers can be just as important, since the containers and medium work together to hold water and oxygen for the roots—two essential components for a happy, healthy garden.

Outdoor growers have the luxury of using actual dirt or topsoil, in addition to compost and soil amendments, for their gardens. Most outdoor growers take advantage of these options, while indoor growers are limited to the more sterile and inert grow mediums. In fact, indoor growers don’t use soil at all these days; instead, they use “soilless” mediums, which look and feel very similar to traditional topsoil, but are really peat-, sphagnum- or coco-based substrates. These mediums act just as regular soils would, offering excellent buffering for root systems and holding plenty of moisture and air for roots to absorb during the day.

This coco-based soilless mix looks and feels like regular dirt but is better suited for indoor grows. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

“Smart” pots (with holes around the sides and bottom), or fabric pots made with cloth material, are fast becoming some of the most popular containers among indoor cultivators. These pots are extremely breathable, allowing air to permeate the root zone, which is important because the roots breathe in oxygen at night (while the rest of the plant breathes in CO2 during the day). They also offer ample drainage so that excess water doesn’t build up, compress the medium, and become stagnant at the bottom of the containers, which can contribute to root rot.

Step 4: Nutrients

Selecting the proper nutrients is an important consideration for any grow. Plants need the minerals found in nutrients to aid in photosynthesis and sugar production. But it’s important to remember that the nutrients we “feed” our plants aren’t the actual food they use for energy, but rather are part of a process that allows the plants to create their own food in the form of glucose.

Start by looking at the N-P-K (nitrogen/phosphorous/potassium) ratio listed on the nutrient products. Typically, nutrient lines consist of two parts, a “Grow” formula and a “Bloom” formula. Grow formulas contain more nitrogen, while Bloom formulas have N-P-K ratios higher in phosphorous and potassium. These ratios correspond to the plants’ needs during their vegetative and flowering stages of growth.

New growers are often reminded to start slow and low when dosing their gardens with nutrients, because it’s far worse to overfeed your plants than it is to underfeed them. Read the labels carefully and then mix a milder nutrient solution at one-half to two-thirds of the recommended dose. After a week to 10 days, if you see signs of discoloration or general deficiencies, you can increase the dose to the recommended levels. But if your plants are looking strong and healthy, you will have saved some money on nutrients and also avoided one of the biggest mistakes encountered by first-time growers. Remember, overfeeding can lead to nutrient burn in the root zone or, even worse, a buildup of excess salts in the medium, which can cause nutrient lockup, blocking the roots from absorbing the necessary minerals for important biological processes like photosynthesis.

Another way to avoid excess salts is to use organic fertilizers, compost teas or veganic nutrients. Organic and veganic nutes may be a bit more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, but they’re not salt-based and are easier for your plants to break down and absorb at the root level. Data collected and analyzed over the past five years at the various High Times Cannabis Cups show that organic and veganic lines go further than synthetic nutes in unlocking the maximum genetic potential of cannabis strains in terms of their cannabinoid and terpene production.

Many outdoor growers choose not to feed their gardens directly, but rather use a composted medium that comes loaded with the minerals that plants need for development and growth. Other outdoor growers who can’t tend to their gardens on a daily basis utilize time-release nutrients in pellet form that dissolve slowly and seep into the medium for uptake by the plants.

Step 5: The Vegetative Stage

The vegetative stage is crucial to a plant’s final success, especially where yields are concerned. In general, the longer a plant is kept in veg, the more it will develop, producing a greater yield at harvest time. The vegetative stage of a plant’s lifecycle usually lasts anywhere from two weeks to two months, depending on the grower’s preference (or the time of year it was planted, if the garden is outdoors).

Vegging plants are topped early on to create bushy plants for both flowering and cloning. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

For plants to remain in the vegetative stage, they must receive more than 12 hours of light to keep them from flowering. Most indoor growers will keep plants under a minimum of 18 hours of light per day during the veg cycle. However, since the roots grow mostly during the dark cycle (or at night), allowing your plants some “down time” during veg is a good way to ensure vigorous development.

Growers utilize MH bulbs during the vegetative stage, since these lights are heavier in the blue wavelengths that help keep plants from stretching. This produces plants that are squatter and bushier, with shorter internodal lengths (the distance between branches on the main stem). This in turn helps save space indoors, but it also produces more budding sites, which typically occur at the nodes where the branches meet the stem, thereby helping to increase yields as well.

The vegetative stage is also important when it comes to training and pruning your plants. Smart pruning techniques, such as “topping” or “pinching off,” entail removing the top terminal shoot of the main stalk toward the end of the veg cycle. This causes the plant to release growth hormones that result in added shoots growing out from directly under the place where the terminal shoot was removed. These new shoots at the top of the plant can become large colas during the flowering stage.

Indoor and outdoor growers alike can use these techniques in conjunction with a trellis system, which opens up the garden to better light penetration and helps to induce longer branching with more nodal sites for flower production. A trellis system is also an excellent support structure for plants once they begin to produce heavy buds, but the trellis needs to be placed over the plants—and their growing shoots trained into its open spaces—early in the vegetative stage.

Step 6: The Flowering Stage

The flowering stage of cannabis plants occurs when the photoperiod (or light cycle) of the garden drops to 12 hours or less. In nature, outdoor gardens will begin to flower after the summer solstice, usually around July (depending on latitude), when the sunlight falls below this 12-hour threshold. Indoor growers set their lights on a timer using a 12-hours-on/12-hours-off cycle. Most cannabis strains flower after 56 to 65 days (eight to nine weeks). Sativas generally take longer than indicas, but since the majority of today’s cannabis varieties are hybrids, this can vary greatly from strain to strain.

These plants were just moved under HPS lights (12 hours on) to trigger the flowering phase. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

As a general rule, a cannabis plant will grow another 30 to 50 percent of its final size in the flowering stage. Growers typically use HPS bulbs during this period, as these lights emit a spectrum heavier in the red wavelengths to more closely mimic the autumn sun, helping to spur faster flowering (and finishing) times. However, these red wavelengths can also cause plants to stretch a bit. Thus, savvy indoor growers will use a mix of MH and HPS lighting to provide a broader spectrum for their flowering plants, with the MH bulbs helping to curb stretching as well as providing added light energy, in the form of photons, to the garden. (Note: The shorter wavelengths, such as blue light, carry higher concentrations of photons.)

Diligent pruning in the flowering stage is very helpful toward increasing yields and potency. Removing deficient or necrotic leaves, especially larger, older growth, can help redirect the plant’s energy to the bud sites. Many leaves will begin to turn yellow toward the end of the flowering stage, which is normal and an indication of the dwindling amounts of nitrogen in the medium and plants. Nearly every Bloom formula has a lower level of nitrogen in its N-P-K ratio, as the plants need less of this mineral during flowering and more of phosphorous (P) and potassium (K).

Step 7: Flushing

Flushing the plants and the medium is an essential and underrated aspect of any grow. Whether you’re eating vegetables or smoking cannabis, the final product should be devoid of any residual minerals that will make the product harsh and unhealthy. This is especially important in the age of concentrates, where residual mineral deposits, pesticides and solvents can pile up to toxic levels for human consumption.

These buds are 6.5 weeks into flowering with leaves starting to yellow due to flushing. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

Most advanced growers will do a minimum flush with fresh water only for the entire final week of the flowering stage. Some growers prefer longer flushes of up to two weeks. During the flushing period, leaves will become extremely yellow and discolored as nutrients are leached from the plant. This will make for a smoother smoke, with the cannabis burning to a clean, white ash rather than a black, tar-like ball.

Step 8: Cutting and Drying

You’ve finally made it: harvest time! The reward for all your hard work is close at hand—but don’t rush it now. There are many acceptable methods for cutting down cannabis plants and drying the flowers. In general, the basic rule of thumb dictates that growers cut down their plants at the end of the daily dark cycle, just as the lights are coming on or the sun is rising. This allows the plants to be harvested in a dormant state, before they begin physiological processes like photosynthesis, which will draw moisture and minerals back up into the plant from the root system.

These cut branches from outdoor plants are hung in a dark, dry(Photo by Nico Escondido

Rather than cutting a plant at its base, one popular technique is to remove the individual branches starting at the top of the plant. For this method, the branches are cut just before the first shoot on each branch, thereby creating a convenient “V” notch near the base from which it can be hung upside down on a line or hanger. Be sure to label each branch with the strain name and plant number so as to avoid any confusion further down the line (such as during the trimming or curing).

Once they’re cut, hang the branches upside down in a dark, dry place for five to seven days. Be sure that plenty of air is being circulated around the flowers using floor and wall fans. Use a hygrometer to check the room’s humidity, and deploy dehumidifiers if the humidity in the drying room rises above 50%. Remember that the flowers are 85% water, and you can expect the final dry weight of the buds to be about 15% of their wet weight when originally cut at harvest.

Step 9: Trimming and Curing

Perhaps the most overlooked step in terms of the quality of the final product is this one, particularly where curing is concerned. But before the curing starts, the buds must be trimmed and manicured. Large commercial operations sometimes deploy trim machines to aid in the workload; however, veteran growers know that the best method for manicuring flowers is to trim them by hand.

Buds curing in jars before being sold in a Colorado dispensary. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

There are competing opinions about whether it’s better to wet-trim or dry-trim. The latter occurs after drying, whereas the former occurs immediately following harvest, while the plant is still alive and “wet.” Some growers find it easier to dry-trim, when the leaves have less moisture and don’t stick to the buds as much. Conversely, other growers feel that trimming dry buds can knock off or damage the valuable trichomes. Either way, the buds need to be trimmed prior to the start of the curing process, and it might be more efficient for new growers to trim after drying so that the manicured flowers can go directly into the curing jars.

Sometimes growers are so excited (or relieved) after the harvest that they forget just how integral the curing of the buds is to their final quality. In short, curing is just a much slower drying process, which can last anywhere from a week to a month or two depending on the grower’s preference. Some connoisseurs prefer a longer and deeper cure to draw out the ultimate essence of the flower. Of course, there is always a point of diminishing returns after a certain length of time.

One of the best methods of curing consists of using UV-protected glass jars. The buds are placed in these jars and then kept in a cool, dry place out of direct light, with the jars being “burped” once or twice daily to allow the slowly evaporating moisture to escape. Leaving the jars open for five to 10 minutes at a time will do the trick nicely. Some people like to use larger jars, or bins, for curing larger amounts of flower. However, be wary of using plastic containers or bins for curing, as plastic can often impart an unwanted smell to your buds.

These flowers were trimmed to perfection with only buds and sugar leaves remaining. (Photo by Nico Escondido)

After about a week to 10 days, the buds should be dried and cured to a nearly pristine point. Each time you open the jars, you will smell more and more of the buds’ aromatic bouquet as the more volatile compounds—known as the terpene profile—begin to present themselves. Finally, once you—the grower!—know that the time is right, you can proceed to the final step…

Step 10: Smoke That Herb!

Congratulations! There is nothing in the world quite like smoking your own homegrown cannabis… and, hopefully, the process itself was a fun and rewarding experience.

Thanks for reading and celebrating our 500th issue of HIGH TIMES. And remember: Grow … and help the world grow, too!

Follow Nico on social media: @Nico_Escondido (Twitter) and @Nico_High_Times (Instagram).

Got questions? E-mail ’em to Nico at NicosNuggets@hightimes.com, and be sure to put “Nico’s Nuggets” in the subject line. (Tip: Before sending your question, try the new search feature on the High Times website. Simply click the magnifier icon at the top right and type “Nico + [your subject]” to see if your question has already been answered.)

RELATED: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in America
Want more grow advice? Check out all of Nico’s Nuggets!


Chalice Farms Canna Boot Camp Educates Portland Attendees

On Monday, August 28th, attendees of the Cannabis Science Conference descended on Portland, Oregon for a week of educational talks, networking and studying the science of cannabis. On Monday, Chalice Farms, an extracts and infused products company, hosted a full day Canna Boot Camp focused on a deep dive behind the scenes of a cannabis production facility. The Cannabis Science Conference, hosted by Josh Crossney, founder of JCanna, takes place August 28th to 30th.

Attendees touring an extraction setup

Attendees were split into five groups where they listened to a variety of educational sessions and toured the facility. A track focused on cultivation, led by Autumn Karcey, president of Cultivo, Inc., detailed all things facility design for cannabis cultivation, including an in-depth look at sanitation and safety. For example, Karcey discussed HVAC cleanliness, floor-to-ceiling sanitation and the hazards associated with negative pressure. These principles, while applicable to most cultivating facilities, applies particularly to commercial-scale grows in a pharmaceutical setting.

Sandy Mangan and Tristan DeBona demonstrating the grinding technique for sample prep

During one session, Sandy Mangan, accounts manager at SPEX Sample Prep and Tristan DeBona, sales specialist at SPEX Sample Prep, demonstrated the basics of sample preparation for detecting pesticides in infused products, such as gummies. That required using their GenoGrinder and FreezerMill, which uses liquid nitrogen to make gummies brittle, then pulverizing them to a powder-like substance that is more conducive for a QuEChERS preparation.

Joe Konschnik and Susan Steinike demonstrate the QuEChERS method

Joe Konschnik, business development manager at Restek, Susan Steinike, product-marketing manager at Restek and Justin Steimling, an analytical chemist at Restek, gave a demonstration of a full QuEChERS extraction of a cannabis sample for pesticide analysis, with attendees participating to learn the basics of sample preparation for these types of tests.

Following those were some other notable talks, including a tour of the extraction instruments and equipment at Chalice Farms, a look inside their commercial kitchen and a discussion of edibles and product formulation. Dr. Uma Dhanabalan, founder of Uplifting Health and Wellness, a physician with over 30 years of experience in research and patient care, led a discussion of physician participation, patient education and drug delivery mechanisms.

Amanda Rigdon, Emerald Scientific, showing some complex matrices in cannabis products

Amanda Rigdon, chief technical officer of Emerald Scientific, offered a demonstration of easy and adaptable sample preparation techniques for potency testing of infused product matrices. Rigdon showed attendees of the boot camp how wildly diverse cannabis products are and how challenging it can be for labs to test them.

The Chalice Farms Canna Boot Camp is a good example of an educational event catered to the cannabis industry that offers real, hands-on experience and actionable advice. Before the two-day conference this week, the boot camp provided a bird’s eye view for attendees of the science of cannabis.

The post Chalice Farms Canna Boot Camp Educates Portland Attendees appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.


Jeff Sessions: Drug Overdoses Are ‘Top Lethal Issue’ in the U.S.

BY IVAN MORENO
ASSOCIATED PRESS

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday called drug overdose deaths “the top lethal issue” in the U.S. and urged law enforcement and social workers to “create and foster a culture that’s hostile to drug use.”

Sessions spoke to the annual conference of the National Alliance For Drug Endangered Children. He said preliminary data show nearly 60,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016, the highest ever.

“Our current drug epidemic is indeed the deadliest in American history. We’ve seen nothing like it,” said Sessions.

He highlighted Department of Justice efforts to curb opioid abuse, including a pilot program announced Aug. 2 to send 12 federal prosecutors to cities ravaged by addiction to investigate health care fraud and opioid scams.

At one point he accused Hollywood, the media and government officials for sending “mixed messages about the harmfulness of drugs.” He didn’t name any government officials.

“This is not acceptable,” Sessions said. “We must not capitulate, intellectually or morally, to drug use. We must create and foster a culture that’s hostile to drug use.”

In May, Sessions reversed an effort from the Obama-era Justice Department that called on federal prosecutors to rein in the use of long, mandatory minimum sentences for some drug criminals to focus resources elsewhere. Sessions is now directing prosecutors to pursue the toughest punishments against most suspects.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ news right here.


Armored Cars and Facial Recognition: Meet the Startups Securing California’s Pot Industry

As long as the cannabis industry continues to grow, and as long as the feds and banking sector prohibit the scads of weed money from participating in normal banking operations, a couple of California companies are perfectly happy moving the dough around in their armored cars.

In addition to the banking morass forcing the industry to operate entirely in cash, there are also plants, products and equipment to move.

“We’re either going to triple or quadruple in size in 2018,” said Todd Kleperis, CEO of HARDCAR Security, referring to the fact that recreational weed sales will begin in California on January 1.

Kleperis runs the Palm Springs-based company with Jeff Breier, both former security tech professionals. He said they started small in late 2015 and now have eight full-time and 20 part-time employees, most of whom will transition to full-time soon and majority of whom are military veterans.

According to the Desert Sun, Kleperis said the company has 25 regular clients, most in Northern California, for whom his drivers move cannabis products from growers and manufacturers to dispensaries in Southern California.

And now, others are getting in on the action.

Terry Blevins, a former cop and security professional, saw the same opportunity in Santa Monica, California, where he opened Armaplex, which provides transportation, on-site security and consulting services.

“I knew it was going to be a highly regulated industry,” Blevins said. “I knew that a lot of the people who have been in the industry for decades may not have the security experience to secure their own product and cash, so they’re going to be turning to people like me.”

Blevins routinely speaks at industry conferences about security issues, as well as for LEAP, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

HARDCAR Security is one of the many cannabis companies prioritizing veteran hiring. For Kleperis, an Army veteran, it’s all about the skills.

“Guys in the military know what the hell they’re doing when it comes to getting things done,” he said. “They know, for instance, how to drive through a hostile environment. Most of them are security-conscious because they have to be.”

Kelperis said HARDCAR’s driver and guard jobs pay about $25 to $30 per hour.

“We think vets are uniquely poised to thrive in this industry,” Seth Smith, communications director for the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance, a vet-owned MMJ collective, told the Desert Sun.

Because of the nature of what their loads, these budding security companies are also being denied services from the federal Small Business Administration.

But that doesn’t seem to bother them.

“We plan on dominating,” Kleperis said. “Right now, we’re the largest in our space for transportation and cash and logistics, and by the end of 2018, we’re going to have a very solid footprint, all based here in the desert.”

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.


Why Michigan’s Marijuana Regulators Want to Shut the Pot Industry Down

Michigan’s medical marijuana industry has had a licensing authority—in this case, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board—for less than three months. It took two meetings before the licensing board, in charge of overseeing and regulating the state’s cannabis landscape, suggested shutting it all down.

It was a good run. Every outlet offering cannabis for sale to licensed patients would be required to shut down, and shut down very soon, under a proposal from the board last week.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008. Under state law, a caregiver is allowed to cultivate up to 72 marijuana plants—no more than 12 plants for no more than six patients.

But if you don’t have a caregiver?

Retail outlets offering cannabis in Michigan are technically illegal—and will be until the state starts issuing licenses, a development expected to come as soon as later this year—yet dispensaries have been operating with varying levels of transparency in select cities for years.

For most medical marijuana patients, for whom growing an adequate supply of cannabis is simply too challenging and specialized of a task to do on one’s own—we don’t expect people to grow all their own food or synthesize their own chemicals to make pharmaceutical drugs—a dispensary is the only way to access cannabis without patronizing the black market.

In most cities, dispensaries operate in a sort of gray market area with full knowledge of the police—and everything works out just fine.

In Detroit, there are more than 70 dispensaries offering marijuana for sale that have completed or at least started the city licensing process, according to the Detroit Free Press.

That’s not good enough for Donald Bailey. Bailey is a member of the Michigan licensing board. He’s also a retired Michigan State Police Trooper—and, apparently, he loves rules. Rigid, prescriptive rules, like the 2013 Michigan State Supreme Court decision that ruled dispensaries are violating state law.

“Every dispensary out there is open in violation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act,” Bailey said during a recent board meeting, according to the Detroit Free Press. “It’s a felony for every sale that occurs from a dispensary.”

Bailey’s plan is to have every dispensary currently in business voluntarily shut down by Sept. 15. Dispensaries that don’t shut down won’t be able to acquire state licenses. At least one fellow board member signaled support for the scheme, which may come up for a vote as soon as September. 

“If we don’t do this today we’re going to do it somewhere in the future,” said board chairman Rick Johnson, according to Mlive.com. “Because it needs to be done.”

The board is set to discuss Bailey’s innovative regulatory approach—if there is no industry to regulate, it’s pretty much already regulated, for good—at its third meeting, to be held sometime before Sept. 15. In the meantime, the state’s weed industry is reeling from the news.

“This is an unprecedented action,” said Tim Beck, one of the advocates behind the 2008 ballot initiative.

It’s also sadly predictable.

On the cover of the current issue of Michigan Medical Marijuana Report is a picture of Don Bailey.

“A guy that spent his entire career opposing marijuana is on the board,” as Frank James, one of the owners of AllWell Natural Health, an organization that used to operate as a dispensary in Gaylord, Michigan, told the local newspaper. “How do I argue with this?”

We say “used to operate as a dispensary” because AllWell, like most other dispensaries north of Flint, have shut down—voluntarily or otherwise—following a string of raids from Michigan State Police. That is, former colleagues and comrades of Bailey’s, who apparently share the same values.

According to the Petoskey News, James has begun telling his former patients to buy marijuana from the black market—because it’s safer.

Bailey is carrying water for his former police officers and for the likes of David Scott, the local supervisor in Commerce Township, a community that reportedly has 67 grow operations. Not outrageous, when you consider each cannot have more than 72 plants. But let’s assume they have a few more plants. Scott does.

“Knock off the crap that’s illegal and is nothing but organized crime,” he fumed at the licensing board’s most-recent meeting, encouraging them to stamp out that which they’re tasked with overseeing.

About that organized crime. Breaking the law is absolutely being encouraged in Michigan right about now.

Here’s the Petoskey News:

[Former dispensary operator Chad] Morrow said people have already begun planning black market seminars after the most recent dispensary raids.

That’s not what anybody in Michigan wants,” he said. “That’s not what I want. I want regulation, and I want legalization.”

The notion that public safety is somehow imperiled by legal marijuana conduct is not entirely unsound. Fires could break out. People could get robbed. Authorities, including the police, can and should step in and help out.

Stamping out what legal industry there is, and guaranteeing marijuana’s return to the drug-dealer’s portfolio, accomplishes the opposite.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.