The Black Friday Guide To Brands Giving Back

The day after Thanksgiving has long been viewed as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. But sometimes, giving money towards something meaningful can be just as rewarding as spending it on yourself and your loved ones. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of brands that are focused on doing good. Whether they’re benefiting animal rescues, veterans, women, or members of the LGBTQ community, these remarkable companies are just a few of the many cannabis-friendly brands that are doing their part to help make the world around us a better place.

Courtesy Oregrown Industries

Oregrown Industries

Known for its active, outdoorsy aesthetic and decidedly environmentally friendly vision, Oregrown Industries is a lifestyle cannabis brand that offers a full range of cannabis products as well as apparel, headwear, and other accessories. Through its Nya Fund, Oregrown also maintains a partnership with the Humane Society of Central Oregon, focusing on senior pets in need. By contributing to the Nya Fund, customers can help subsidize the cost of supporting these lovely animals. With a $5 donation, buyers will also receive ten percent off their purchase while Oregrown matches all donations as well.

The Black Friday Guide To Cannabis Brands Giving Back
Courtesy Goldleaf


Many people already know Goldleaf as the purveyor of guided journals geared to consumers, growers, and other cannabis enthusiasts. What people may not know, however, is that the Ohio-based company also makes art supplies and stunning prints, and that proceeds from the sales of some of those prints, like the Project Sanctuary Cannabis Prints, for example, go towards helping others. In this case, proceeds benefit the eponymous Project Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 that’s dedicated to helping military families thrive. Goldleaf has also partnered with the Last Prisoner Project, donating proceeds from sales of the Southern California Cannabis Travel Art Print to the organization dedicated to helping prisoners convicted of cannabis-related crimes.

The Black Friday Guide To Cannabis Brands Giving Back
Courtesy W!NK/ MB Beach Buds


Founded in 2015, W!NK is a trailblazing women-centric CBD brand that’s fiercely focused on crafting high-quality vegan beauty and wellness products, spanning everything from capsules and tinctures to lotions, scrubs, vapes, and more. The company’s founder Stacy Verbiest started W!NK as a way to create specially formulated products for a friend who was undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In this spirit, W!NK’s nonprofit MB Beach Buds was established to fund mammograms for uninsured or under-insured women in order to further the opportunity for early detection.

The Black Friday Guide To Cannabis Brands Giving Back
Courtesy Magical Butter/ Facebook

Magical Butter

Magical Butter’s iconic push-button countertop extractor has made cooking with marijuana much easier for cannabis chefs while also facilitating the crafting of herb-infused beauty serums, lotions, creams, and more. Perhaps just as impressive as the extractor itself is the fact that the inventor of Magical Butter, Garyn Angel, has also established the Cheers to Goodness Foundation with a simple goal in mind: to bring treatment to medical refugees who are caught behind the bureaucratic red tape of state-mandated cannabis laws. Supporters have the option of donating to the nonprofit directly or requesting that their funds go towards a specific individual in need of treatment.

The Black Friday Guide To Cannabis Brands Giving Back
Courtesy LolaHemp


LolaHemp makes full-spectrum, hand-harvested, organic hemp oil with CO2 extraction, which is lab-tested exclusively for pets. For every four bottles sold, one bottle gets donated to a rescue dog in need. LolaHemp works as an official partner with a number of organizations, including Rescue Dogs Rock (NYC), Social Tees Animal Rescue (S.T.A.R.), Bandit’s BandAid, Wyoming Dachshund and Corgi Rescue (WDCR), Imperial County Humane Society, Siouxland FOTAS, S.N.O.R.T. Rescue, Ruff House Rescue and many other rescue organizations worldwide.

The Black Friday Guide To Cannabis Brands Giving Back
Courtesy Bloom Farms

Bloom Farms

Using responsible practices, Bloom Farms makes medicated oils from California-grown cannabis, always offering a full satisfaction guarantee. As an extension of its holistic vision, the company has set out to donate one meal for every product it sells, which goes towards one of the five million Californians battling food insecurity. With support from its food bank partners, Bloom Farms has been able to donate countless meals to date, and also encourages its employees to volunteer in the community, too.

The Black Friday Guide To Cannabis Brands Giving Back
Courtesy is a new brand dedicated to supporting members of the LGBTQ community, which is a vital yet all-too-often ignored sector of the cannabis industry. “As a bisexual female who both enjoys cannabis and appreciates its value to society, I’ve found it very disappointing that our ‘community’ is being overlooked,” said’s Chief Creative Officer, Isabel, in a press release. “With this new brand, we hope to quickly change any associated stigmas by getting the LGBTQ community – as well as females in general – to proudly wear their love for getting higher.” features a line of fashionable apparel and accessories with the iconic cannabis leaf in solid green or rainbow colors, with a percentage of proceeds going towards LGBTQ-friendly non-profits.

The Black Friday Guide To Cannabis Brands Giving Back
Courtesy Get Together Foundation

Earthly Body

A family-owned and operated company, Earthly Body is responsible for a range of sustainably-made hair and skin brands, including CBD Daily, EMERA CBD Haircare, Marrakesh Hair Care, Hemp Seed Body Care, and ColorpHlex. The company’s founders Kevin and Mare Wachs are also responsible for the nonprofit Get Together Foundation (GTF), which is entirely supported by a percentage of Earthly Body’s yearly revenue, along with sponsorship and private donations. By supporting GTF, consumers can rest assured that part of their money goes to one of dozens of worthy organizations, including City of Hope, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Music to Heal, Pure Water for the World, and many, many more.

The post The Black Friday Guide To Brands Giving Back appeared first on High Times.

Flashback Friday: The Greatest Scams In Modern History

From the July, 1979 edition of High Times comes Michael Chance’s fascinating story, “Scams: The Greatest Hustles, Cons and Rip-Offs of Modern History.”

The Western world loves nothing more than a great scam. Give them a simple thief and they will jail him for life. Give them a good con man and they will elevate him to the highest office, apotheosize him in the arts and literature, and throw fortunes at his feet. The victims of a scam may arouse our sympathy, but the perpetrators often elicit awe, envy and maybe a few books and a movie. Indeed, con artists, hucksters and magic beans have never had it so good.

The players and their marks are now so numerous that a language has followed in their wake. Such commonplace terms as rip-off, fix, and kickback were virtually unknown a generation ago. The word scam has only recently attained dictionary status and appears routinely in quotation marks in that most bottom line of language, the New York Times. Etymologists claim that this decade has been surprisingly barren in the generation of new words, but scam has arrived. It looks like it’s going to be even bigger than bustle. The scam is a way of life. A philosophy. Maybe even a political system.

The term rip-off derives from a popular scam of the mid ’60s. At that time kilos of Mexican marijuana were often sold in small, compressed “Texas bricks” that were each individually packaged in about two ounces of heavy wrapping paper. A rip-off dealer—and there were many, as this pot dominated the summer market for a good many years—would saw off a two-ounce corner of the brick, keeping the severed dope and bringing the total weight of the brick, including paper, to a kilo. You paid for two ounces of paper on each kilo. The exposed corner was there so you could examine the pot, supposedly. Some of these dealers today are successful commodities brokers.

Scam masters aren’t new to Western art and literature. Witness Mark Twain’s Duke and Dauphin from Huckleberry Finn, or Melville’s enigmatic The Confidence Man, acclaimed by many critics as having best captured the national consciousness long sought after as the elusive Great American Novel. Even more than Moby Dick. Edgar Allan Poe, always in need of some spare cash to fill his opium pipe, once wrote a fabricated account of traveling around the globe in a balloon. The story was an assignment from a New York newspaper that hoped to bolster its sagging circulation. The story, an eyepopper during the earth-bound period, worked. After Poe’s death the “hoax” was discovered.

Not quite in the same league, but close, was H.L. Mencken’s phony account of the history of the bathtub in the respected pages of the American Mercury. Mencken claimed that the bathtub was a relatively new innovation with its antecedent in the early Egyptian public baths. Complete with a brief bio of the European inventor of the bathtub, the stories generated a froth of academic studies. When months of research failed to substantiate Mencken’s claims, he said he was “flabbergasted” that anyone had believed the story in the first place. And of course there is Clifford Irving, whose phony biography of Howard Hughes earned him two years in the slammer.

A war-weary world roared with laughter when Hans Van Meegeren, arrested for allegedly selling a hot Vermeer to Hermann Goering, claimed in his defense that he had painted the picture himself. The skeptical art experts of the Nazi elite ordered him to paint another Vermeer as they watched, which he executed to perfection. He had, it turned out, produced a half-dozen Vermeers between 1939 and 1943 and sold them for more than $3 million. Twenty years later the great art institutes of Europe again suffered humiliation when the famed art forger Emil de Hory confessed all. De Hory, incidentally, is a close friend of Clifford Irving.

The world of academia has never paid much homage to scam masters, perhaps because they are too close to home. Often a philosopher’s stone turns out to be made of clay. Such was the case when the Piltdown Man, discovered by a road crew late in the 19th century and purported by many of the leading anthropologists to be the missing link, turned out in fact to have been a college prank.

Scams for the common man are perhaps as old as religion. Even before bingo, the numbers rackets and lotteries were taken from private hustlers and officially sanctioned as generators of state revenue. There was the carnival. Today the carnival is tightly regulated and relatively harmless, but from the Depression to the late ’50s it was considered a sort of Sodom and Gomorrah on wheels. Not to be confused with circuses that have wild animals and talented performers, the carnival is simply a motley rolling assortment of rides, games and sideshow freaks, probably a hybrid between vagabond theater groups and gypsy caravans that got it together on the road.

The carnivals played small towns in the South and Midwest, paying stiff nuts to the local officials and making it up through an assortment of crooked games. Like policemen’s balls, carnivals were allowed to operate gambling games in otherwise verboten areas, with presumably half the take going to the group or organization that sponsored them. After setting up revival-meeting-sized tents, some filled with new cars, tractors, radios, guns and other prizes, the carnies would throw open their games of skill and chance to all comers.

More than one carnival was burned to the ground by storms of angry townspeople after a local had lost the family farm trying to win a Kewpie doll at the six-cat tent. Competition for the backwater dollar was tough, what with riverboat gamblers and snake-oil hucksters on the loose everywhere, so the resourceful carnies developed a catalog of gimmickry that soon brought the scam dollar to their corner: basket-toss games with hidden assistants who, by pulling wires, could cause the ball to bounce out; lead-lined milk bottles for the one-ball pitch; hidden magnets and metal slugs in the pool games; loaded dice; stacked decks; they didn’t miss a trick. The carnival was also a haven for pickpockets, ex-cons and misfits who exchanged notes on their various talents. Several states outlawed carnival games altogether, and the others were soon eclipsed by Las Vegas, Atlantic City and a host of laws.

A little higher rank on the scam scale is accorded to the originators of chain letters. The chain letter is the most primal version of the pyramid scheme, the most ancient and peculiarly American of the pie-in-the-sky come-ons. An advanced construct, the Ponzi scheme, or “pyramiding,” flourished earlier in the century, and today its most sophisticated form, deficit-financed capitalism, has been adopted as the national-economy model for the West. All of these scams have as their common thread the device of forwarding money to the designers and perpetrators from those below on the premise that equity will eventually be forthcoming from those below them, or in the case of the economy, future generations. There are, of course, finite limitations on this geometric progression. This is what Harry Truman meant when he said, “The buck stops here.”

The most recent chain letter to make its inventors a fortune was the “chain of gold” letter that originated in San Francisco, a city that for some reason has always ranked high on the con artist’s itinerary. The letters are sold to each mark for $100. Fifty dollars goes to the seller of the letter, and $50 goes to the top name on a list of 12. Each time someone else buys the letter, the purchaser’s name moves one notch up the list. If the chain is unbroken, the buyer purportedly collects more than $100,000. The catch is that the first half-dozen names on such lists ordinarily belong to the same person or group who hatched the scheme in the first place. The sixfold logarithm eventually nets them money if they can find a few suckers to invest early, with the guarantee that those people will beat the bushes for new investors in hopes of getting back their original investment and maybe something extra. Of course, they seldom do. After plucking scores of gullible San Franciscans the letter leaped to the New York theater scene, another popular breeder culture for get-rich-quick gimmickry, where it reportedly netted a number of big-name Broadway fish. Theater people, like San Franciscans, little old ladies and students, seem to be a favorite target of scams.

The classic pigeon-drop has always been a favorite in certain areas—particularly San Francisco, Boston and Madison, Wisconsin, owing partly to the large numbers of students, artists and geriatrics in these towns. Its victims are almost always sweet, elderly grandmothers trying to make a fast buck. It works like this:

A young, well-dressed woman suddenly pops up in front of the elderly mark waving an envelope and yelling, “Look what I found!” The envelope is apparently stuffed with money, and she shows it to the mark, wondering what she should do. The older woman usually suggests they call the authorities. So they call the younger woman’s lawyer, who tells them to come right over. He tells them, after checking with banks and the police, that no one has claimed the money and they may be the lucky owners. There’s only one catch: the two must provide matching funds to prove “good faith.” Both $20,000 sums will be kept by the police, or a bank, for a while, then if no one claims the money it is theirs.

Of course the younger woman has no such stake and, in spite of the preposterous story about “good faith” funds, the presence of the “lawyer” more often than not overrides the mark’s suspicions, so she coughs up the $20,000. The cons seldom set up a pigeon who doesn’t have the money. Once the funds are withdrawn and delivered to the lawyer, the three set out for the bank or wherever, and at one point the lawyer leaves the room on some pretense, the younger woman soon excuses herself to go to the bathroom, and both vanish. In Madison, Wisconsin, this ploy was executed by Chicago-based con artists so frequently that there are now semiannual warnings against it in the newspapers.

A lot of scam artists these days scorn U.S. currency in favor of precious metals and jewels. Phony gems, gold fever and international contrabandistas are the stuff these intrigues are made of, too numerous to mention but one: A well-heeled Texan, introducing himself as an oil tycoon, strode into one of Houston’s high-roller jewelry stores and picked out a rare black pearl that sported a six-figure price tag. A few days later he was back, saying that his girl friend was so enthralled with the bauble that she just had to have another to make a pair of earrings. He would pay any price for an identical pearl.

The store scoured the world’s jewelry exchanges at the daily insistence of the Texan and at last found a European buyer claiming to have a line on just such a pearl. It cost, however, twice what the original did, hard cash. A buyer was dispatched to examine the pearl that, he assured the home office, was the mirror inage of the original. After a final confirmation with the overjoyed Texan the pearl was purchased and the buyer winged it back to Houston. The store called the Texan—he wasn’t in. He was never seen again, and the pearl turned out to be the same one they’d sold him.

Also worthy of note in this league is Stanley Rifkin, the Los Angeles bank accountant who through the miracle of electronics recently managed to buy $12 million worth of diamonds from the Russians with money that only existed on computer tapes. Rifkin, a computer analyst who had already ripped off the Security Pacific Bank for $10.2 million, contrived to reroute some of the bank’s computer funds to Switzerland, where he scored the diamonds. It was a week before anyone noticed.

Banking and law officials are particularly reticent about Rifkin’s case because it spotlights the simplicity of computer crime. Bunco squads have warned for 20 years that computer crime would be the wave of the future, and they were right. Not only have the biggest contemporary frauds and swindles involved computers at some strategic point, but the rising popularity of home computers no doubt augurs further enlightenment to techno-outlaws and headaches for those concerns that stash their money in electronics.

A Long Island, New York, man made a bundle with his home computer by programming it with every municipality, church and school district in the nation, then billing them for items they did not receive. Using letterheads of two bogus companies, the man sent invoices seldom exceeding $400 for items such as snow pellets and insecticides to thousands of cities in all 50 states. Few questioned such petty expenditures, and those who did assumed it was a mistake. The scam netted its mentor over $1 million a year until tripped up when a city attorney in Richland Hills, Texas, demanded repayment of two $245 checks the city had paid for nonexistent items. They received the checks back, but they bounced and the city attorney launched an investigation that turned up the operation. Had the checks been good the man might still be in business.

A more minor-league computer scam was scored by two business-machine salesmen in New York who were falsifying grades at the Queens College data-processing center. For the right price, dumb students and even nonstudents could make Phi Beta Kappa, and scores of them paid it. The electronic wizards were nailed when a physics instructor noticed the discrepancy between his handwritten grades and the computer printout.

But these scams for the most part are small potatoes. When hustlers sit around in the cell-block or in the Plaza Hotel, they talk about the legendary scam artists, confidence players who have sold national monuments and caused entire banks to collapse and entire economies to teeter on the brink of destruction. And to be a great scam it not only has to be questionably legal and financially successful, it must show up the victims to be the greedy fools that they are. Herewith, the ten greatest scams of all time.

Top 10 Scams

The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower

Though no one has ever bought the Brooklyn Bridge, there have been buyers for other landmarks—such as the Eiffel Tower. In 1925 an important French bureaucrat, Monsieur Dante, held a highly secretive meeting of scrap-iron dealers in a swank Paris hotel. Monsieur Dante told those assembled that the French government was taking bids on the demolition of the Eiffel Tower. The government could no longer afford to maintain the structure and could use the more than 7,000 tons of steel involved. This was all top secret.

Andre Poisson, a socially ambitious scrap-metals dealer, was determined to get the job. After making himself conspicuous with a series of ever more attractive bids, Poisson was finally summoned aside by Monsieur Dante. In situations like this, Dante explained, it was customary for an additional sum to expedite bureaucratic procedures: in other words, a bribe. Poisson paid for the Eiffel Tower and didn’t find out until Monsieur Dante was in Vienna that the government bureaucrat he had been dealing with was in reality Count Victor Lustig, one of the cleverest con men of all times.

Fortunes came and went through Lustig’s hands, always acquired through his assumed title, elegant clothes, high manners and the lordly society he frequented. Born in Czechoslovakia, Lustig was a bright scholar who spoke six languages. His quarry was mainly the European and American ocean-liner set. He worked closely with the legendary Nicky Arnstein, king of the ocean-liner, gamblers, who taught him how to pick out the nouveau riches and the gullible old rich. Time and again Lustig conned well-heeled travelers out of thousands of dollars in investment deals. Often, he would talk a partner into accepting a deal. Both would put up their money, Lustig would hold it and disappear at the next port of call.

The Rumanian Box Hoax

The other scam that Lustig perfected involved a prop called the Rumanian Box. A glossy mahogany affair replete with brass knobs, dials and gears, the box was crafted to Lustig’s specifications by a famed New York cabinetmaker and toted by Lustig to the playgrounds of the idle rich.

At a Palm Springs hotel he once spent a week and thousands of dollars winning the confidence of Herman Loller, a former auto mechanic turned tycoon through his parts-supply business, which was currently threatened by the larger auto manufacturers, who were making their own parts. After a brief acquaintance and much urging, Count Lustig finally agreed to show Loller how he made his living. After closing the curtains in his room Lustig exhibited the impressive box to his awed friend. There were two slots, each the size of a dollar bill, into which Lustig put a thousand-dollar bill. Six hours later, he explained, there would be two of the bills. The pair went to Loller’s yacht to wait. When they returned again Lustig fiddled with the controls and out came two thousand-dollar bills from the box. He told Loller he could cash them at any bank, but not the same bank, since they had the same serial number.

Loller paid $25,000 for the box but was never able to make it work. For six months he refused to believe he had been ripped off, blaming instead his own ineptitude with the controls for the box’s failure to manufacture money. Finally his enraged wife smashed the box with a hammer and destroyed it.

Lustig avoided imprisonment for 30 years and talked his way out of over 40 arrests. He once talked a vengeful sheriff, who had paid $10,000 for the box, out of shooting him by repaying his money. The sheriff was soon arrested for passing counterfeit bills. Lustig finally got nailed on a counterfeiting scheme.

The Great Ponzi Scheme

No one, excepting banks, insurance companies and the U.S. government, has ever pulled off quite such a masterful scam as Charles Ponzi. Boston residents went wild when Ponzi promised people that he would return their original investment plus 50-percent interest in 90 days. People were skeptical at first, but after he had maintained the operation without default for four months they began investing in droves.

Ponzi explained that he made money from investments in international postal-reply coupons. It was a vague story involving fluctuating rates of interests, inflation and rediscounting, with agents buying and mailing all over Europe. But Ponzi would say that he, like Rockefeller, had a right to some amount of secrecy.

After four months working Boston’s blue-collar North End, Ponzi was so successful he moved his Foreign Exchange Company, as it was now called, to classier digs. He also offered a deal where anyone who could get someone else to invest would be given ten cents on each dollar invested. Great lines of people appeared, paying their cash and receiving a slip of paper with the maturity date in return. Within six months his operation was forced to move to bigger quarters yet.

Ponzi, a poor Italian whose last job before starting his investment company was that of a $16-a-week stock clerk, from which he was fired, was now the toast of Boston upper-crust society. He and his wife moved to a mansion in suburban Lexington. They drove in a chauffeured limousine. He purchased controlling interest in the Hanover Trust Company and was soon recommended and installed as president. He bought the company that had employed him as a stock clerk barely a year after he had been fired, and he fired the man who fired him.

Ponzi was undone when the city editor of the Boston Post did some checking and found that all the postal coupons sold in the world the year before added up to only a fraction of Ponzi’s inventory. At first the expose only brought Ponzi more business; the day after the article appeared the line to Ponzi’s door was four blocks long and over $1 million was taken in. The newsman had to fight his way through the crowds to reach his office next door to Ponzi’s. But when Boston banks, which were seriously threatened, joined in the investigation, Ponzi’s secret was soon discovered: he had simply been robbing Peter to pay Paul. He would pay off the first debt with the second investment and so on. In all $15 million was involved, of which about $5 million was never recovered.

The Man Who Stole Portugal

Alvaes Reis, “the man who stole Portugal,” perpetrated perhaps the cleverest scam of all time. He managed to convince the firm of Waterlow and Sons of London, the company that printed money for the Bank of Portugal, to print money for him, using the real paper and the real plates. Reis convinced Sir William Waterlow, with the aid of forged documents and pure inspiration, that the government of Portugal wanted to issue three million pounds for circulation in their African colony of Angola. The notes would not need new serial numbers, for the government would stamp the word “Angola” on each note. The project was, naturally, top secret.

Reis and his partners (he had three) got the money, took it to Angola by suitcase, and, in order to facilitate distribution of the bills, opened a bank. They were a huge success and next tried to buy controlling interest in the Bank of Portugal. Reis’s theory was that at some point the bank would discover his fraud, and he could prevent investigation by running the bank. Behind all this was Reis’s real dream—to follow in the footsteps of his childhood hero Cecil Rhodes and create a Portuguese-African empire with himself as its leader.

As a youth, Reis studied engineering but was rejected by the government for a post in the colonial bureaucracy. He overcame that by forging a diploma from the University of London and had no trouble getting hired as a railway inspector in Angola. By the time he was 25, Reis had become inspector of public works for the colony, but this was not what Reis had in mind. He started his own company for the exploitation of Angola’s rich mineral deposits, especially gold and diamonds. Reis went looking for money in England and Holland to finance his company’s projects. He failed totally and had to go back to working for the Angolan railroad. Confident that he could pay the money back with ease after his company’s future discovery of diamond mines, Reis transferred $200,000 of the railroad’s money to the firm of Alvaes Reis. He was arrested for embezzlement, found guilty, served three months in jail during which he thought up and set up the bank-note scheme, was retried and acquitted.

Immediately on being freed he set the plan into action, with his key confederate appearing before Sir William Waterlow with forged credentials from the Portuguese government. It was the Bank of Portugal that eventually uncovered Reis’s monumental swindle. Suspicious of massive purchases of their stock, the bank’s directors grew very curious about Alvaes Reis. Police raided his Angolan bank and found great bundles of brand-new money. They should have been forgeries but were genuine in all detail. Finally, someone checked the serial numbers. It was the worst financial disaster in Portugal’s history, helped usher in the Salazar dictatorship and ruined one of the world’s greatest printing firms.

The South Sea Bubble Explosion

Another famous swindle with great political reverberations goes by the lovely name of the South Sea Bubble. The scene shifts from Portugal in the 1920s to London in 1711. There were a lot of rich people in London as in all of England at the beginning of the 18th century. Fortunes were being made in shipping, in banking, in trade and in investments. The economy was solid and it was growing and speculation was in the air. Through a treaty that terminated the war of the Spanish succession, Britain was awarded the right to trade with the Spanish colonies. The average Londoner knew nothing about the Spanish colonies (or, for that matter, about South America or anywhere else in the world except England and Europe) but that they were reported to be a source of endless riches—gold lying on the ground waiting to be picked up, etc. The South Sea Company sold this fantasy to the people of England, and they showed their faith in their (and the company’s) dream with a response so strong it has been described as mass hysteria.

The South Sea Company sold the people of England the chance to get in on the exploitation of the South Seas. Everyone invested, from the uneducated to the newly rich businessmen to the great nobles of England. In 1745 the Prince of Wales was named a governor of the company. He was soon replaced in that position by his father, King George I, who invested 60,000 pounds of his own—an enormous amount of money in those days.

In 1719, the South Sea Company took over the national debt of England. Everyone who had any power was deeply involved in the company’s fortunes. Naturally, such success did not go unimitated, and soon half of Europe was investing in the fantasy of untold riches, the promise of enough for all. People invested in companies that sprang up all around, companies that promised to fish for treasure in the sea, to extract silver from lead, to import jackasses from Spain.

The South Sea Company, believing its hold on the credulity of half a continent to be threatened by these imitators, tried to stop them by law. In revealing the fraudulent nature of these other companies, the South Sea Company burst its own bubble. People started to sell their stock, and the value of that stock dropped from 1,000 pounds a share to 180 pounds in less than two months.

Thousands of people went bankrupt. England’s economy was in serious trouble. Paper money was almost worthless. Unemployment rose and there were food riots. The crash echoed through Europe, followed by a smallpox epidemic — thought by some to be God’s punishment for fools. In the resulting arrests and trials, many of England’s leading citizens were found guilty. The South Sea Bubble was a disaster both for the company and the greedy, speculating public.

The Grand Central Station Swindle

Though it was Lustig’s style, he was not the man who peddled part of Grand Central Station. That happened in 1929. The impressive-looking stranger who approached Tony and Nick Fortunato in their Manhattan fruit store told them they had fortunately been among other successful fruit stands being considered to lease the information booth in the middle of Grand Central Station. Too many dumb questions were being asked at the booth, questions that could be handled at less cost by the ticket clerks. The agent, whose card read “T. Remington Grenfell, Vice-President, Grand Central Holding Corporation,” pulled out detailed blueprints showing plans for the conversion of the booth and specifications for a fruit stand.

The Fortunato brothers hesitated at the $100,000 advance lease, but the idea of doing business in the midst of the world’s busiest railway station convinced them to follow Grenfell to his offices for more details. A waiting chauffeur-driven limo drove them to a building next to Grand Central Station, where they entered through an office door labeled “Wilson A. Blodgett, President, Grand Central Holding Company.” As they entered, the Fortunatos overheard Blodgett finishing a phone conversation with their competitors. “Have your certified check in my hands by noon tomorrow and the booth is yours,” he told them. Horrified, Grenfell explained that the Fortunatos had just come to close the deal. Blodgett, after some consideration, decided the only fair thing to do would be to let “the first one here with the check have the lease to the booth.”

The next morning the brothers were at the bank when it opened and from there went immediately to Blodgett’s office with the money. The lease was signed and congratulations offered.

The lease called for the brothers to take over the booth on April Fool’s Day. They arrived to find business as usual in the information booth. Telling the information attendants that since it was after nine o’clock, “you and the others are supposed to be out of here,” they then had workmen begin stacking lumber and building materials next to the booth, obstructing traffic. A cop checked the lease and the blueprints and rousted a vice president of Grand Central Station who told the brothers that there was no such animal as the Grand Central Holding Company. Blodgett’s office was empty, their check had been cashed. After a year’s investigation the culprits were never found. Tony and Nick remained convinced the Grand Central Railroad itself was behind the swindle and for years would go to the information booth at the station and shake their fists and shout at the men in the booth.

64,000 Ghosts

But the biggest example of a swindle featuring a company’s financial success based on imaginary assets is both very recent and very close at hand. It is the case of the Equity Funding Corporation of Beverly Hills, a scandal that broke in 1973 and involved a record-breaking $2 billion worth of phony insurance policies.

Equity Funding Corporation of America went into business in 1960 with $10,000. Its growth in 13 years to assets of $1 billion set a new growth record. But that growth was based on sheer fantasy.

What started Equity Funding on the road to corporate fame and fortune was something called “leverage.” A salesman would tell a client, “You’re prepared to spend $300 on insurance. Instead of spending $300, spend $100—and put $200 into mutual funds.” The idea was to borrow against the mutual-fund investment to pay the premium on the insurance. The expectation was that earnings plus growth would be greater than the interest cost of the loan. Leverage meant using the same money twice. Of course, the customer had to pay two commissions, and there was no guarantee as to the financial health of the mutual fund. It was merely a debt that had to be repaid.

Insurance salesmen loved it. The public loved it. And most of all, Wall Street loved it. Equity Funding, with its unique concept and dazzling growth, became a “glamour stock.” By 1968, reported assets approached $200 million. The company moved to new quarters, the top floor of 1900 Avenue of the Stars, and its president, Stanley Goldblum, occupied the largest office in Century City. At this point, the worst crime that had been committed could be generously called creative bookkeeping.

In 1970, the stock market went through one of its periodic erosions, and Equity’s stock dropped from $80 to a low of $14 a share. It was then that Stanley Goldblum and his chief financial officers decided in favor of massive and outright fraud.They simply created imaginary people all over the United States and sold them life-insurance policies. More than 64,000 phony policies in all, totaling over a billion dollars. Using the principle of leverage, these policies were then resold, for cash, to other insurance companies. And, of course, Equity’s assets appeared to be growing tremendously, driving back up the price of the stock, making Equity Funding an attractive investment opportunity again.

These fictitious policies created a very big headache for the officers of Equity Funding, since the insurance business is tightly regulated by the government. Every detail had to ring true, and the fraud had to be kept hidden from most of the firm’s employees. Files had to be established for each “policy holder”; computers were specifically programmed, making them accomplices to the swindle; death certificates had to be forged. It all worked until Goldblum fired one of Equity’s vice-presidents as an economy measure. His name was Ronald Secrist, and he blew the whistle, ending the amazing story of Equity Funding. But, as of this writing, none of the Equity officers are in jail. Stanley Goldblum was, however, indicted in Los Angeles for mail fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, the filing of false documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission and 41 other counts.

Don’t Ever Trust No Skirt

You would think that for a female to become a swindler she would have to be good-looking, or at least charming. Cassie Chadwick was neither of these, but she was certainly convincing. She began her career in Canada by going on a shopping spree financed solely by some business cards she had had printed with her name and the legend “Heiress to $15,000.” One of Cassie’s earliest discoveries is that people like to lend money to people who already have a lot of money.

Cassie’s shopping spree ended when she was arrested, but the intensity of her personality was such that the judge at her trial, instead of jailing her as a criminal, acquitted her on grounds of insanity. Cassie created a reality to suit herself, changing her name and history at will. In various incarnations she was the young Canadian heiress Elizabeth Bigley, who mortgaged her sister’s furniture while she was away on a trip; the wealthy Toledo clairvoyant Madame de Vere, who was sent to the Ohio penitentiary for nine years for forgery; and finally Mrs. Leroy S. Chadwick, the wife of a doctor and a prominent figure in Cleveland society.

But most of all Cassie Chadwick owed her good fortune to being the illegitimate daughter of Andrew Carnegie. At least that’s what she said. She once appeared to a carriage full of waiting lawyers (this was in New York in 1902), leaving Andrew Carnegie’s house with nearly $1 million worth of notes, just signed by Carnegie himself. The notes were later found to be forgeries. While inside the house, Cassie’s interview was with Carnegie’s housekeeper, its subject a maid’s references. The notes had been signed by Cassie at Mr. Carnegie’s kitchen table.

Cassie Chadwick lived a life of fabulous wealth in Cleveland. Once, to surprise her husband, she had the house redecorated while they ate dinner out in a downtown restaurant. She bought everything, and in great quantities, too—jewelry, paintings, furniture, the only seal dress ever made in Canada. Once she bought eight grand pianos as gifts for friends. So when Harry Rickey, an editor of the Cleveland Press, discovered Mrs. Chadwick was being sued for failure to pay a debt of $190,000, he got curious. After a lot of detective work by Mr. Rickey, his newspaper printed Cassie’s whole story, starting when she was heiress to a mere $15,000, straight through to the millions coming her way from the sometimes paternal Andrew Carnegie. She was arrested, and her “credit” was found to have come close to $2 million.

Cassie, backed up by her claim to the Carnegie fortune, seemed to cast a spell on bank presidents. Charles T. Beckwith, president of the Citizen’s National Bank of Oberlin, Ohio, had loaned Mrs. Chadwick $240,000, four times the total capitalization of his bank. Cassie died in prison but had a good run first, made possible by her wits and the greed of rich men who loaned her money at enormous rates of interest.

They Sold Plenty of Nothing

Two modern examples of empires built on a combination of assets both real and imagined were those headed by Billie Sol Estes in Texas and by Tino DeAngelis in New Jersey, both during the ’60s. The Billie Sol Estes scandal had severe repercussions for the administration of John F. Kennedy. The “salad-oil swindle’’ ruined one major brokerage and financially threatened scores of banks, trading companies and businesses.

Billie Sol Estes, a classic con man, started out with no money, just a small farm in west Texas. By the time he was 28, he was so successful he was named as one of the ten outstanding young men of 1953 by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. Through the Jaycees, Estes made many valuable contacts, and through one of them he obtained $100,000 in mortgage money. With this capital, Estes branched out into many businesses, including fertilizer and grains.

He had some unusual ideas about how to do business. “If you get into anyone far enough,” he’d say, “you’ve got yourself a partner.” In just that way, Estes joined up with a New York chemical manufacturer, an association that gave Estes some amount of financial credibility. To gain control of the anhydrous ammonia market, he lost millions of dollars undercutting other manufacturer’s prices, driving them out of business. He also took advantage of every price-support allowance offered by the U.S. government. He has been called “a welfare-state Ponzi”—he had an amazing ability to make money with the help of the Department of Agriculture.

Everything was set up to make millions of dollars. The only problem was, Estes’s setup had been so expensive to develop that he needed to raise more capital to start the money rolling in. He decided he would raise the money on nonexistent anhydrous-ammonia storage tanks. He collected more than $30 million in mortgages on imaginary tanks. He would rent an imaginary tank from a farmer and pay each farmer rent equal to the amount of the mortgage the farmer paid him. He made no money on the mortgages themselves but used their paper value as collateral for $22 million in loans.

Called “the biggest wheeler-dealer in all of west Texas,” Billie Sol Estes was not well liked. He ran for a seat on the local school board and lost to a write-in candidate. Blaming his defeat on the local newspaper, he set up a rival paper. The local paper then did a thorough investigation of Estes and printed the first story of his mortgage fraud. He served six years in jail and lost every cent he had.

Anthony DeAngelis started his remarkable career as a butcher, a field for which he showed great aptitude. He revolutionized the hog-dressing industry and made a fortune in meat during World War II, probably through the black market. When he was 35, DeAngelis bought stock control of a large meat-packing firm that sold its stock to the public and was listed on the American Stock Exchange. Five years later, the firm went bankrupt. Luckily, DeAngelis had diversified his capital before the bankruptcy and, with the help of the U.S. government, went into the salad-oil business.

The “Food for Peace” program brought surplus oil to sell to needy countries. To broaden his market, DeAngelis traveled through the world lining up orders. He was the first to take salad oil to the foreign marketplace. He took care of domestic competition for this market by buying the oil in the Midwest and selling it overseas, at a markup to the export companies. It was these companies that jumped at the chance to back him to put the scheme into operation. But no one could figure out how DeAngelis made any money. He paid the highest prices for domestic oil, paid transportation costs and finally sold the oil to export companies so cheaply there was no competition. Since everyone was making money, no one asked questions.

By the late 1950s, the business had grown to over $100 million a year, 75 percent of all the oil shipped overseas. But the real money, as usual, was coming in in the form of loans from bankers, brokers and businessmen in the United States and Europe. DeAngelis swindled hundreds of millions of dollars from these financial experts, his real victims. They would loan him money to buy more oil, but he was buying phantom oil. When DeAngelis was finally investigated (brought about by the failure of a Russian wheat deal), his miles of storage tanks were empty, and the money was gone. Many people thought DeAngelis did not work alone, and there are rumors he was backed by the Mafia. None of the money (over $100 million) was ever found. Anthony DeAngelis served seven years of his 20-year sentence and was paroled in 1972.

Uncle Sam’s Scam

Last, but far from least, there’s contemporary capitalism, which often differs from Charles Ponzi’s scam in only one respect: inflation. By devaluing tomorrow the money that is paid or owed today, the banks, insurance companies, the federal government and others who take money on the premise that they will return it in goods or services have only to pay back a portion of the money they received in the first place. Not only that, but it has been cleverly contrived so that people are forced to turn their money over to these institutions to earn piddling interest or they will lose even that.

Consider: a man has $1,000 he is saving for a Jacuzzi bathtub. If he hides it in his stereo, a year from today its buying power will have been reduced by the roughly 10-percent inflation to a real value of only $900. But if he puts it in a bank and earns 6-percent interest, the real value will have shrunk to only $954, and he will have avoided being ripped off for $54. This mark’s money is then taken by the scam masters who loan it out at even higher rates—up to 20 percent—or make long-term pledges such as social security and life insurance. Since it isn’t their money, they can’t lose. And since inflation will always go up higher than the rate at which they collect interest, these scam masters will always be rich. If it were not for inflation, this scam would, like the chain letters and Ponzi schemes everywhere, reach its finite limitations and collapse. Accordingly, price increments are subtly but inexorably advanced 10 percent each year, on transportation, food, clothing, shelter and virtually all the necessities of life that are currently subject to the scam master’s control. It is a condition of business, and any manufacturer or worker who fails to inflate by this rate will lose his or her line of credit and become an “enemy of the state.”

Again, like chain letters and Ponzi swindles, capitalist schemes are occasionally challenged. But always at a safely detached distance. For instance, when Nelson Rockefeller died, the New York Daily News, among others, characterized his father John D., the grand old man of the clan, whose business card read ‘‘John D. Rockefeller, Capitalist,” as a crook whose ‘‘special interest rate with the railroad” and “ruthless methods” made a billion dollars at a time when most people existed on the bare necessities of life, or less. Yet it is unthinkable that any newspaper in America would say the same sort of thing about the very much alive and kicking David Rockefeller, the most potent of the Rockefeller descendants, who in his capacity as head of the world’s largest capitalist monetary nerve center, Chase Manhattan Bank, is undisputed scam champion of the world.

It may seem odd to think that a whole culture embraces this scam, unprotesting, but it is hardly singular. The South Sea Bubble and the Great Depression were both similar monumental scams and little more. People like the fairy-tale finish that a scam culture promises, the lottery winner and the pot of gold under the pea. Many people in the Western world would rather live with poverty and gambler’s hope than with modest security and the certainty that nothing will change overnight. Capitalism may be a scam, but almost everybody loves a scam.

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Medix CBD: Black Friday and Cyber Monday Exclusive

Over all the long and unbearable waiting in lines at stores? Tired of holding all those shopping bags? Impatient around large crowds of eager customers? Get ready for Black Friday stress with Medix CBD and discover how you could make the whole weekend a more enjoyable and relaxing experience. Shop online with Medix CBD this Black Friday and Cyber Monday and get 50% off Medix CBD’s entire collection of products.

Kick-Start Your Mornings with a Motivating Dose of CBD

Finding and making the most of the best deals on Black Friday can be a painful task. You need to wake up before dawn and find your way into a line, waiting with other impatient customers. It can be difficult to find the motivation to get out of bed, especially after all the delightful Thanksgiving food! CBD oil is the perfect solution to give you that little motivation that will kick-start your morning and prepare you for the challenging day of shopping.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday lines can be long, and the experience can be stressful. Try CBD oil this year and experience a more relaxing and enjoyable holiday weekend. Medix CBD’s vape cartridges are easy to carry and use on the go, letting you get a boost of energy to get through waiting in lines, carrying shopping bags, or just dealing with being around a large crowd.

Fight the Stress and Boredom
of Long Lines

Ensuring you get your money’s worth and the best deals on Black Friday means that you must endure the never-ending pain of waiting in long lines. Waiting in long lines this holiday weekend can be a brutal experience, especially if the weather is playing a cruel joke. CBD is known to relieve stress and make the difficult process of waiting a more enjoyable experience. Get 50% off Medix CBD’s edibles and gummies. These low-dose CBD treats can be carried anywhere. Bored in lines? Anxious about missing a deal? Stressed and tired of waiting? Have one of Medix CBD’s edibles or gummies on the go. 

Get Relaxed, Without the High

CBD is known to have medical properties that help reduce anxiety and stress in individuals. Millions of people around the world use CBD daily. CBD is just one of many compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD doesn’t get you high! The component of cannabis that is a psychoactive compound is known as THC, found in insignificant amounts across CBD and other cannabinoid products.

Each year, Black Friday shopping gives people anxiety and fatigue from all that physical exertion. Standing in long lines, carrying heavy shopping bags, and running around all day can cause muscle inflammation and pains in your body. CBD is known to have properties that reduce this inflammation and provides a relief from the pain. Get 50% off Medix CBD’s topical cream. This CBD remedy is the perfect solution to alleviate your pains and put you back in relaxation mode after that stressful Black Friday shopping!

Courtesy Medix CBD

The Place to Get the Best Deals on CBD Products

Medix CBD knows that customers want to get the best of Black Friday deals, so they have decided to put their entire collection of CBD products online for a complete 50% off this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Medix CBD’s diverse range of CBD products include:

  • CBD oils
  • CBD vape oils
  • CBD edibles and gummies
  • CBD pain cream
  • CBD oil for dogs

Medix CBD’s offer for this shopping-filled weekend is on the entire collection. Don’t sweat and don’t stress this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Try the relaxing experience with Medix CBD’s wide range of products and enjoy the hunt for the season’s best deals.

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Ganja Gourmet: Spiced Canna-Cider

As the air turns crisp, the days get shorter and sweater season is upon us, a warm, comforting drink is a necessity! Spiced cider is the perfect fall option—forever a classic, arriving on coffee-shop menus annually as the undeniable, official herald of autumn. Making your own cannabis-infused version of the seasonal favorite with a local cider might just be the best of all possible fall combos, and the aromatherapy of the cider infused with spices is well worth the effort alone. Spicy, aromatic and best served warm, this inviting cannabis-infused libation is super-simple to make and definitely meant to be shared.


  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 (1½-inch) section of fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tbsp. whole cloves
  • 4 star-anise pods, whole
  • 5 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • Half a gram activated THC distillate
  • Half a gram liquid sunflower lecithin
  • Orange or lemon slices and fresh cannabis leaves, for serving (optional)


Cut the ginger and orange into slices. Combine cider, ginger, orange, allspice, cloves, star-anise pods and cinnamon sticks in a large pot. Bring cider just to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook just below a simmer until flavors meld, about an hour. Strain the cider to separate the solids from the liquids, then discard the solids.

Carefully measure and reserve two cups of the spiced cider. Place distillate, liquid sunflower lecithin and the two cups of the reserved spiced cider into a high-speed blender (alternatively, you can use an immersion blender and add the distillate and liquid sunflower lecithin directly into the cider without the separation step). Blend until fully incorporated, about three minutes, or until all specks of oil have fully emulsified into the cider.

Whisk the infused cider into the rest of the spiced cider remaining in the pot. Serve warm with lemon and orange slices (optional).


I used half a gram of pure activated-THC distillate at 88 percent THC and 1.49 percent CBD, which came in a plastic syringe for easy measuring and handling. A half gram of the distillate provides around 440 milligrams THC in the starting material, so each one-cup serving size contains around 27.5 milligrams THC, as the recipe makes one gallon (about four liters) of cider. Please consume responsibly: Take it slow and don’t forget to hydrate with a non-cannabis-infused drink. Remember to label clearly and keep out of the reach of children.

Originally published in the November, 2018 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

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High Times Greats: Chef Ra’s Worldwide High Times Thanksgiving Feast

In the November, 1988 edition of High Times, Chef Ra (1950 – 2006) gave us a recipe for cannabis-infused “Rasta Pasta Alfredo Fettuccini.”

Once upon a time, there was a group of dudes and dudettes just hangin’ around, smokin’ a few doobies. We were wondering what we were gonna do with ourselves a couple days before Thanksgiving. Hell, we knew that we weren’t Indians. And we surely couldn’t be Pilgrims. But somehow, we wanted to consummate the same togetherness that those folks did in the old days. But we wanted to put a freaky accent to it.

After passing the peace pipe for a few more hours, Chef Ra had a brilliant mental flash. Most of our friends were leaving town to have Thanksgiving dinner with their parents and family, leaving us hardcore freaks behind. So I said to myself, “Why not have the First Annual Freaky Friends Thanksgiving Bash?”

The idea snowballed. A very rotund hippie earth-mother named Big Susie took Chef Ra’s idea and ran with it. She took the Pied Piper’s position in front of our ragtag group and said, “Let me lead you to the land of bountiful munchie delights, you hungry freaks! ”

And so a grand tradition was born that day, and has continued ever since. This year, Chef Ra proposes to all of the readers of High Times to join together with us this Thanksgiving with the largest Freaky Friends Fest Feast in history. We’re gonna break away from the chains of antiquity and put the “Thanks” back into the “Giving.”

The first thing you have to do is find a place to hold the meal. It doesn’t have to be the traditional “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” homey fantasy trip. Be creative. Hold the party in an open bar, a friend’s house, hell—rent the local VFW! Then decorate the spot with tie-dyed banners and obnoxious-colored crepe-paper strung out all over the place. Maybe throw in some origami hangin’ from the ceiling.

The object of the fest is to be about art, communication, and cross-cultural revolution just as much as it is about chowing down. Let’s move away from the me-generation yuppie bullshit selfishness. How many times have you seen people show up at a gathering or a meal and not contribute a damn thing, not even a joint? Well, it’s time for the “me-attitude” shit to end! It’s time to reach back for our roots, our communal hippadelic traditions. Let’s be about caring again. Social living is the best policy!

Put the United Nations flag up outside the crib. Pick a few folks from the colors of the rainbow different than your own and invite them to the party. Invite a long-lost friend you haven’t seen in ages, and someone who lost his or her job. Pick a homeless person you know in your neighborhood and invite them over for chow. This doesn’t have to be a patronizing affair. Hell, maybe you’ll make some new friends.

Chef Ra wants EVERYBODY to join the party. This is the biggest people’s party ever! Learn to party and then learn to love to party! And make sure you cook one of Chef Ra’s cosmic recipes for all the people. My one year anniversary issue recipe is…

Rasta Pasta Alfredo Fettuccini

  • 4 chopped cloves of FRESH garlic
  • 1/4 cup of FRESH basil (basil in Greek means “king”, but we know what herb is king!)
  • 1/2 cup FRESH parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 lb. egg fettuccini
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 oz. fine green sinsi

Cook rasta pasta fettuccini noodles 7-9 minutes in boiling water. Set noodles aside, still sitting in warm water. Melt butter in double boiler setup, making sure not to burn or overheat butter. Add sinsi to butter and let simmer for ten minutes. Take a large bowl, drain egg fettuccini, and put the drained noodles into a large bowl or pot. Then add the herb butter with the heavy cream, basil, and parmesan cheese to the fettuccini in the bowl. Toss mixture well in the bowl. And start jammin’ on it right away!

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A Unique Course Aims To Teach Cops About Cannabis

Few relationships are as historically fraught as that between United States law enforcement and users and purveyors of cannabis. In the legalization era, that’s a problem — and one company has stepped up to close the gap. California cannabis educational group Green Flower Media has served over 10,000 people with its online marijuana educational courses, and it recently announced a new seminar that may be the first of its kind. Starting next year, it will be offering a training program for cops who are looking to learn the ins and outs of legal weed.

The course came about via a strategic partnership with a police chief from the beach town of Port Hueneme, California. Though the city’s county had previously opted out of recreational or medicinal cannabis sales, Port Hueneme’s budget deficit of $1 million compelled local authorities to reconsider their relationship to the cannabis industry.

There was much pushback to the idea of legalizing local marijuana sales; many thought that legal weed would bring in crime. When retail cannabis sales were finally permitted in eight dispensaries within the 22,500-person jurisdiction and a five percent tax on gross sales enacted, Port Hueneme saw results to the tune of $175,000 a month in city revenue — not to mention a concurrent dip in local crime rates.

Some 45,000 people visit the town’s cannabis stores each month, resulting in 210 jobs that would not have existed without marijuana. The town has also been able to purchase a hundred new beds for its homeless shelter, and to fund a Fourth of July fireworks show with the additional one percent of gross sales that cannabis companies are required to donate to a local fund.

That, says Port Hueneme police chief Andrew Salinas, has made it all the easier for his cops to shift their relationship to cannabis. But they were still without some of the key pieces of knowledge they needed to effectively work within the new legal system.

The chief says this is not a matter of ideology; “We are not pro-cannabis, we are pro-enforcement and pro-regulation.” But Salinas took steps to make sure his force was apprised of how legal cannabis worked. The process involved surprising levels of integration of the local cops with the town’s cannabis industry.

“I wanted my officers to be comfortable with these locations and nearly all officers have been given tours and shown the security features of each dispensary,” Salinas says, adding that there is a remote access system set up in all dispensaries that allows the cops to watch over the properties. “The officers and the owners absolutely love this,” Salinas says. “Not to mention, our dispatch center has an iPad which possesses each dispensary’s security video system so they can give officers updates should a call be created. They have full view of the interior and exterior of the location.” He says that the close relationship has encouraged dispensaries to report other illegal cannabis businesses to law enforcement, which in turn has the potential to strengthen the control of the legal industry.

A New Kind of Education

Salinas has had success delivering six educational forums on marijuana for curious community members in his area. “They have all been sold out,” he says. “Why? Because people want to hear the right information from a credible source who has the facts.” That proactive approach to cop-cannabis interaction led Green Flower Media founder Max Simon to see him as a natural partner for the company.

“Chief Salinas was so focused on education and being a good steward of sound cannabis governance,” Simon tells High Times. “He was immediately excited about the idea of creating education and training programs with Green Flower.”

The one-session class will cover topics such as the difference between state and local cannabis regulations; the laws of possession, driving, impairment and consumption; the rights of cannabis delivery drivers and dispensary workers; how to respond to cannabis complaints; and what to do when criminal intent is suspected.

“The course is necessary for helping law enforcement understand this new landscape,” says Simon, who started the California company in 2014 with Stephanie Graziano. “That way they can both be more effective in their role, while also being more understanding to cannabis consumers and professionals.”

Simon says the class will be available online from the Green Flower Media website starting in the second quarter of 2020. The company also offers classes on everything from medicinal uses of cannabis to cultivation techniques, legal compliance tips for businesses, and a how-to on cannabis extraction methodology.

Hopefully, the new course for police will help to educate law enforcement agents so that they are no longer operating under the flawed logic of the war on drugs. “We want the correct information being disseminated to our officers and to the public,” says Salinas. “There are so many myths and preconceived notions about cannabis that we feel can be answered.”

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New Research Shows Flushing Plants Before Harvest May Be Unnecessary

The results of a new research trial released this month show that flushing plants before harvest may not improve the quality of cannabis flower. The results seem to contradict the commonly held belief that flushing plants improves the taste and burnability of dried cannabis flower.

Under common, although not universal, cultivation practices, cannabis growers stop fertilizing their plants one to two weeks before harvest in an effort to improve the quality of their finished product.

“Flushing is important because it removes excess nutrients that are leftover within the plant,” explains High Times senior cultivation editor Danny Danko. “So it helps with the burnability of the flower by leeching out excess salts and nutrients.”

But in the trial conducted by RX Green Technologies, a manufacturer of cannabis nutrients and other cultivation products, researchers determined that those participating in a blind test tended to prefer cannabis flower that had not been flushed before harvest.

To conduct the trial, growers at the RX Green Technologies research and development facility in Colorado cultivated cannabis plants of the strain Cherry Diesel in a coco-based medium. During growth, the plants were fertilized with the company’s brand of nutrients. Four groups of 12 plants each were subjected to different flush times as harvest approached. Each group of plants was flushed for either zero, seven, 10, or 14 days.

Flower samples taken the day before harvest were analyzed for essential plant nutrients. Overall, there was no significant change in the mineral content of cannabis flower as a result of different flushing treatments.

After harvest, the plants were cured and tested for final trimmed flower weight, terpene, and THC concentrations. Lab analysis found no significant differences between the different flushing treatments for flower yield, THC potency, or terpene content.

Samples of cannabis flower that had been subjected to the various flushing times were also distributed to cannabis industry experts so they could rate them on smoking characteristics and flavor. Stephanie Wedryk, Ph.D., the director of research and development at RX Green Technologies, says she wasn’t sure what the outcome of the experiment would be.

“I did not know what to expect going into this,” says Wedryk. “I had talked to some growers I know and all of them had experience with testing flush times and not flushing and all of them only had negative experiences when they did not flush.”

Flushing Shows No Benefit

But when the data from the blind tests were analyzed, the researchers discovered that the participants tended to prefer the taste of the flower that had not been flushed at all, although overall, the duration of the flushing period had no impact on flavor, smoothness of smoke, or color of ash. In the results of the study, RX Green Technologies wrote that the trial indicates that “there is no benefit to flushing Cannabis flower for improved taste or consumer experience.”

Wedryk says that while she doesn’t think that cultivators should overhaul their practices based on one trial, she does believe that growers should be open to trying new things.

“I would definitely recommend that growers play around and find what works best for them. I talked to a grower at the event who doesn’t flush and he’s perfectly happy with his product,” explains Wedryk. “Everybody has their own unique system and there are so many different components that go into growing. What works for one grower because of their unique set of circumstances might not work for the other grower.”

Danko agrees, noting that growers who are careful not to use too much fertilizer may need little or no flushing time for their plants.

“Really, flushing is an extension of the fact that most people are over-feeding their plants,” says Danko, advising growers to feed their plants lightly, in many cases at lower levels than recommended by nutrient manufacturers.

“It’s always easier to bump up the nutrients when you see a deficiency than it is to remove nutrients when you’ve overfed,” he says.

Although Danko still recommends that growers flush their plants prior to harvest, he supports efforts to examine commonly held beliefs in a controlled scientific setting. Wedryk agrees, explaining that “as more and more research comes out in cannabis, I think we have to question some of the things that we think we knew and see if these still really hold or is it a new day?”

Wedryk says that RX Green Technologies plans further research into common cultivation practices, although she declined to offer any specifics.

“Stay tuned,” she says.

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La FDA acelera la investigación de psilocibina para el trastorno depresivo

La designación de “Terapia innovadora” está reservada para nuevas terapias que han demostrado ser prometedoras en la investigación preliminar como tratamiento para afecciones médicas graves.

La Administración de Alimentos y Medicamentos ha designado a los hongos de psilocibina como una “terapia innovadora” para el trastorno depresivo mayor (MDD), un movimiento que acelerará la investigación y revisión de nuevos medicamentos desarrollados con el compuesto alucinógeno. La clasificación de la terapia innovadora está diseñada para acelerar el desarrollo y la aprobación de nuevos medicamentos.

La nueva designación de terapia innovadora para MDD, más comúnmente conocida como depresión, fue otorgada al Instituto Usona, que recientemente lanzó un ensayo clínico de fase 2 para determinar la efectividad de una dosis oral única de psilocibina como tratamiento para la depresión. El Instituto Usona es una organización de investigación médica sin fines de lucro que “lleva a cabo y apoya la investigación preclínica y clínica para ampliar la comprensión de los efectos terapéuticos de la psilocibina y otros medicamentos que expanden la conciencia”. Usona está reclutando voluntarios para el ensayo clínico.

Al menos 17 millones de adultos en los Estados Unidos tienen depresión, la principal causa de discapacidad en la nación para los que tienen entre 15 y 44 años. A nivel mundial, se estima que más de 300 millones de personas tienen MDD. Investigaciones previas han demostrado que los pacientes con enfermedades terminales que fueron tratados con psilocibina mostraron una disminución significativa en la depresión y la ansiedad. Un estudio similar se está llevando a cabo en Melbourne, Australia.

“Los resultados de estudios anteriores demuestran claramente el notable potencial de la psilocibina como tratamiento en pacientes con MDD, que Usona ahora está tratando de confirmar en sus propios ensayos clínicos”, dijo Charles Raison, MD, director de investigación clínica y traslacional en Usona, en un comunicado de prensa

No es la Primera Vez

Esta es la segunda vez en poco más de un año que la FDA ha designado a la psilocibina como una terapia innovadora. En octubre de 2018, la agencia otorgó la designación a COMPASS Pathways por su uso de psilocibina como tratamiento para la depresión resistente al tratamiento (TRD). La TRD se define como síntomas de depresión que no mejoran con el uso de dos o más terapias tradicionales. En octubre, el Centro de Salud Científica de la Universidad de Texas en Houston (UTHealth) anunció que los investigadores realizarían un estudio sobre la efectividad de la psilocibina como tratamiento para la TRD.

“Lo que es verdaderamente innovador es el reconocimiento legítimo de la FDA de que el MDD, no solo la población de depresión resistente al tratamiento mucho más pequeña, representa una necesidad médica insatisfecha y que los datos disponibles sugieren que la psilocibina puede ofrecer una mejora clínica sustancial sobre las terapias existentes”, dijo Raison. “Dado que hay tanta complejidad con la psilocibina y que Usona está trazando nuevos caminos, estas interacciones asegurarán que Usona y la FDA estén alineadas para abordar el programa de desarrollo con las mejores prácticas aceptables”.

Aunque la psilocibina figura como una sustancia controlada de la Lista I a nivel federal, las jurisdicciones locales han comenzado a relajar las leyes que prohíben los hongos psicodélicos. En mayo, los residentes de Denver votaron para aprobar una medida que despenalizara efectivamente la posesión de hongos de psilocibina por parte de los adultos haciendo que la aplicación de las leyes que les prohíben sea la prioridad más baja de aplicación de la ley de la ciudad y prohibiendo el uso de fondos públicos para procesar delitos. El mes siguiente, los líderes de la ciudad aprobaron una medida similar para despenalizar los hongos de psilocibina y otras plantas enteogénicas en Oakland, California.

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Joe Biden Reverses Previous Stance That Marijuana Is A ‘Gateway Drug’

Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s views on cannabis appear to be evolving. During a conference call with reporters Monday, Biden reversed his previous stance that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Biden told reporters that he hasn’t seen evidence to support the gateway drug theory about cannabis. But only a week prior, during a Las Vegas town hall, Biden said the exact opposite. In front of the town hall crowd, Biden said there was not enough evidence to know whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug. Now, in the face of public blowback and criticism of his remarks, Biden said he was only telling the audience what “some say” about cannabis.

Despite New Stance, Joe Biden Isn’t Revising His Cannabis Platform

Among the crowded field of Democratic candidates, Biden’s views on cannabis reform have been among the most conservative. While front-runners like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have called for nationwide adult-use legalization as part of a plan to dismantle the war on drugs, decarcerate people for drug-related offenses and expunge prior criminal records, Biden has situated his campaign’s platform at the back of the pack.

Still, Biden does support some major cannabis policy shifts. He has said he believes the federal government should decriminalize cannabis use and simple possession. And he has backed a plan to expunge criminal records of minor cannabis offenses. These policies would make a major difference for many people whose lives have been disrupted by an encounter with the justice system over weed. But they fall far short of more progressive policies like federal legalization and amnesty for those currently behind bars for marijuana-related convictions.

Despite Biden’s support for decriminalization and expungement, however, Biden’s public statements aren’t making voters confident that he’s the right person to lead a major national policy shift on cannabis. And his recent “gateway drug” comments are a case in point.

When asked why he doesn’t support broader measures like full legalization, Biden routinely resorts to the argument that there isn’t enough evidence or research to support such a move. But the candidate’s retrograde comments on cannabis reveal that he’s not very familiar with the latest evidence and research supporting legalization.

Out of date on the science and apparently out of touch with contemporary public views on cannabis, Biden has faced a week of criticism after his “gateway drug” statements at a Las Vegas town hall. Now, Biden is trying to control the damage from those statements by attributing them to an anonymous “some say.”

Can Joe Biden Overcome His Terrible Record on Drugs?

Even if Joe Biden reversed course on his gateway drug comments, his new stance isn’t going to revise the former vice president’s campaign platform. Biden still won’t support federal legalization. But his closest rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, do.

And it’s not just Biden’s current out-of-step statements about cannabis that voters should worry about. As a Senator, Biden was one of the principal architects of the policies that have fueled mass incarceration and racial disparities across the criminal legal spectrum. For decades, Biden stood sharply opposed to decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. As former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden bears the brunt of the responsibility for passing a packet of drug laws that kick-started the modern war on drugs. He once even tried to pass a bill that would have criminalized raves, called the Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act.

And despite today’s growing public consensus and mounting evidence that federal legalization makes sense from a social justice perspective, an economic perspective, a criminal legal perspective, and a medical perspective, Biden still claims there isn’t enough evidence to support broad, ambitious marijuana policy.

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FDA Details CBD Safety Concerns, Warns Firms of Illegal Practices

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration detailed its concerns regarding the safety of CBD on Tuesday while issuing warnings to 15 companies the agency says are illegally marketing products containing the cannabinoid. In a consumer update posted to its website, the FDA said that only one pharmaceutical, Epidiolex, has been approved by the agency for the treatment of patients with two rare forms of epilepsy. For others, the potential risks may outweigh the benefits.

“The FDA is concerned that people may mistakenly believe that trying CBD ‘can’t hurt,’” the update reads. “The agency wants to be clear that we have seen only limited data about CBD’s safety and these data point to real risks that need to be considered.”

The update noted that it is currently illegal to add CBD to foods or label CBD products as dietary supplements. The FDA also detailed several potential risks of CBD that have been discovered through scientific research, including the possibility of liver damage and interactions with other drugs. The agency also warned that studies of laboratory animals revealed a risk of male reproductive toxicity from CBD in males and the male offspring of females that had been given CBD, such as a decrease in testicular size, inhibition of sperm growth and development, and decreased circulating testosterone.

The FDA also warned consumers that products with CBD were being marketed with unproven medical claims and could be produced with unsafe manufacturing practices. The update also noted that CBD was being added to products for animals, another use that has not yet been approved by the agency.

Warnings Issued to 15 CBD Companies

Also on Tuesday, the FDA announced in a press release that is has issued letters to 15 firms warning them that they are marketing CBD products in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The FDA said that the companies had been marketing CBD products illegally, including adding the cannabinoid to foods, labeling CBD products as dietary supplements, or advertising the products as a treatment for diseases. The federal regulator also announced that it could not “conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) among qualified experts for its use in human or animal food.”

“As we work quickly to further clarify our regulatory approach for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds like CBD, we’ll continue to monitor the marketplace and take action as needed against companies that violate the law in ways that raise a variety of public health concerns,” said FDA principal deputy commissioner Amy Abernethy. “In line with our mission to protect the public, foster innovation, and promote consumer confidence, this overarching approach regarding CBD is the same as the FDA would take for any other substance that we regulate.”

Attorney Dave Rodman, the founder of The Rodman Law Group in Denver, said in a statement that Tuesday’s actions by the FDA change little and seem to be an attempt to buy the agency time and stifle the explosive growth of an emerging industry.

“Yesterday’s actions were an attempt to throw cold water on the red-hot CBD market, but it’s likely a case of ‘too little, too late,’ as the industry has already priced-in this information,” said Rodman. “There is nothing new or previously unknown in the warning letters or the Consumer Update. This is just a restatement of existing policy, albeit in a dramatic fashion. Nothing has changed from FDA, except possibly a slight indication of increased likelihood of intervention in the industry.”

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