Utah Supreme Court Rules Lawmakers Can Replace Medical Cannabis Initiative

Another chapter in the ongoing struggle over medical marijuana in Utah has just been slammed shut. This week, the Utah Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit filed against the state by a medical marijuana advocacy group.

Specifically, the suit challenged the Utah legislature’s decision to replace a voter-approved medical marijuana referendum with its own medical marijuana laws. Despite this first lawsuit being dismissed, there is still another one pending.

Supreme Court Dismissed Lawsuit

In a decision filed yesterday, the Utah Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state legislature. As a result, the medical marijuana rules established last year in House Bill 3001 will remain in place.

And, even more concerning for many medical marijuana patients and advocates, one of the lawsuits challenging that bill is dead.

“While the Utah Constitution creates and protects the voters’ right to place legislation on the ballot for approval or rejection by the people, it also carves out an exception to that right,” Justice Paige Petersen wrote in the court’s opinion. “When both houses of the legislature pass legislation by a two-thirds supermajority, that law is not subject to a referendum.”

She continued: “Because this renders moot Petitioners’ argument about the constitutionality of the statutory referendum sponsor requirements, we do not address it.”

An advocacy group called The People’s Right filed the lawsuit. At issue was whether or not state lawmakers had the right to replace a voter-approved medical marijuana referendum with a separate bill—one that was not approved by voters.

“While the Utah Supreme Court was forced to acknowledge the legislature REPLACED Proposition 2 with its own statute and through its own analysis found the replacement bill significantly curtailed cultivation, dispensaries, and amended qualifying conditions for medical cannabis, they have once again failed the citizens of Utah,” The People’s Right organizer Steve Maxfield told local news source Fox 13 Salt Lake City.

Another Lawsuit Remains

Although this lawsuit is dead, the battle is not yet over. Specifically, another lawsuit filed by The Epilepsy Association of Utah and Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) is still pending.

In many ways, this second suit is similar to the one filed by The People’s Right. Most notably, this suit is also going after the legislature.

Specifically, they are calling foul on the legislature’s decision to hold a “special session” in December 2018. It was during that session that lawmakers rammed through H.B. 3001.

For organizers involved in this second lawsuit, many aspects of H.B. 3001 dramatically undermine Proposition 2. Specifically, they argue that H.B. 3001 will end up significantly limiting the degree to which patients can realistically access medical marijuana.

And already, it appears that those fears are coming true. For example, in late July the Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings formally recommended that the Davis County Health Department not participate in the state’s medical marijuana program.

His reasoning was that the state’s method for dispensing marijuana through a “central fill” system—a key feature of H.B. 3001—could make state workers vulnerable to state prosecution.

Advocates at The Epilepsy Association of Utah and TRUCE have argued that Proposition 2’s structure would have avoided these problems.

As of now, this second lawsuit is still pending. It is unclear if the Supreme Court’s decision this week indicates how it may rule on this second suit.

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Luxembourg Will Be the First Country in the EU to Legalize Cannabis Production

The tiny European country of Luxembourg is about the lead the European Union by becoming the first EU country to legalize the production and consumption of cannabis. Luxembourg has already legalized medical cannabis and decriminalized simple possession for the 614,000-plus people living there. The production, sale, and purchase of cannabis for recreational purposes is still illegal, but not for much longer.

On Wednesday, Luxembourg Health Minister Etienne Schneider confirmed reports that the EU nation is moving to legalize cannabis. Citing the failure of prohibitionist policies, Schneider also called on fellow EU member states to relax their own drug laws, especially as they pertain to cannabis. Luxembourg lawmakers are still crafting legislation to legalize the production and consumption of cannabis, but they plan to release a draft version later this year.

Luxembourg Confirms Plans to Legalize Cannabis

Details are only beginning to emerge about how Luxembourg plans to implement legal cannabis. Nothing regarding tax rates or regulations on the types and forms of cannabis that will be legal has been set in stone. However, early reports indicate that the EU nation is taking its cue from Canada and will cap legal possession at 30 grams. Luxembourg also plans to invest tax and licensing revenue into drug education and addiction treatment programs. Last year, Schneider and Luxembourg Justice Minister Félix Braz toured a cultivation facility run by Canopy Growth Corporation in Smith Falls, Canada.

Indeed, once Luxembourg legalizes cannabis, it will become the first EU nation and just the third country in the world to do so, next to Canada and Uruguay. Contrary to popular conception, the Netherlands, home to Amsterdam’s famed cannabis cafés, is not a legal-cannabis country. Rather, it operates under an official policy of tolerance toward recreational use within certain limits. It’s a stance that has made the Netherlands a top destination for cannabis tourism. But for now at least, Luxembourg isn’t keen on making its cities hot-spots for cannabis consumers from around the world.

Health Minister Urges More Open-Minded Attitude Toward Drugs

Health Minister Schneider says prohibiting cannabis has both failed to stop or reduce consumption and made marijuana more attractive to young people. “The drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work,” Schneider told Politico. “Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people.”

And as Luxembourg gears up to end its prohibition on recreational cannabis, state officials are encouraging other EU nations to follow suit. “I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs,” Schneider added. That open-mindedness will be important, especially since legal cannabis will put Luxembourg on the wrong side of a UN convention limiting cannabis commerce to medical and scientific purposes only.

But the major question is precisely how open and accessible Luxembourg’s legal cannabis market will be. According to Schneider, Luxembourg will likely ban non-residents from legal access to cannabis, with the aim being to discourage cannabis tourism. The law could also prohibit home cultivation, leaving state-run agencies to exclusively regulate production and distribution. A draft version of the legislation is expected later this year, and early estimates forecast sales will come online within two years, although an earlier agreement between a coalition of Liberals, Social Democrats and Greens set up a five year timetable.

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Outside Lands Music Festival Will Have Legal Cannabis Retail, Consumption

The Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco will have areas for the sale and consumption of legal cannabis for the first time this year, according to state and local regulators. Approval for the separate cannabis consumption and retail zones came on Wednesday, just days before this weekend’s event in Golden Gate Park, which will start on Friday, August 9 and wrap up on Sunday.

The San Francisco Office of Cannabis announced on Wednesday that it had granted its first temporary permit for a cannabis event to Outside Lands. Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for California‘s Bureau of Cannabis Control, then wrote in an email that the agency would issue a state license in time for the event, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Separate fenced areas for cannabis sales and consumption will be provided in an effort to protect sellers from exposure to second-hand smoke. Access to the zones will be restricted to adults 21 and older. Both areas will be hidden by an opaque barrier to comply with the city’s rules for cannabis events, which were only recently adopted by the city’s Office of Cannabis.

Score Some Weed at Grass Lands

The retail cannabis zone will be known as Grass Lands and feature about a dozen licensed brands, many of which are available from the marijuana delivery service app Eaze, one of the sponsors of the event. Attendees will be permitted to purchase up to 7 grams of cannabis flower and up to 2 grams of cannabis concentrates from festival vendors.

Until permits for cannabis sales and consumption were approved on Wednesday, Grass Lands vendors were unsure if they would be allowed to sell products containing THC, a fact that Chelby Dufourg, the president of sales at Field, a Los Angeles-based cannabis company, took in stride.

“I’m in the cannabis business, so uncertainty is kind of my thing,” said Dufourg.

Alex Fang, a cofounder of Oakland’s Sublime, said that his company will be selling cannabis-infused mints and frozen pops at Grass Lands.

“It’s going to be a landmark moment for the end of prohibition,” said Fang about the event, adding that Outside Lands could be great exposure for his new company.

“This is our first investment ever in marketing, and I’m a little bit nervous about it,” he said.

Outside Lands Begins Friday

Outside Lands takes place this weekend, Friday, August 9 through Sunday, August 11 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Paul Simon, Twenty One Pilots, and Childish Gambino are slated to headline the event. They will be joined by Flume, Kacey Musgraves, The Lumineers, Ella Mai, blink-182, Kygo, Anderson Paak & the Free Nationals, Leon Bridges, Mavis Staples, Counting Crows, Bebe Rexha, and others.

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The Farm Bill is Progressing Cannabidiol Like Never Before

Until recently, mainstream acceptance of CBD products among health-conscious consumers was lagging because of the outstanding regulatory concerns. Now, hemp-based CBD is seeing its name recognition surging, as changes on the federal level make it much more precise as to what companies in the CBD space can and cannot do. One such benefit from the changes should be the further emergence of full spectrum CBD oil. This stands to provide significant gains for companies such as CBDPure that have a track record of good compliance and positive feedback.

The Farm Bill Legalizes Hemp

Before 2014, the United States relied on importing industrial hemp. Then came the passing of the Agricultural Act of 2014, which signaled the first sign of forward progress on full CBD legislation in America in the last 48 years.

After much back and forth between federal lawmakers, the $867 billion Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018—aka the 2018 Farm Bill—passed last December. Under the federal law, the production of hemp is now completely legal. Cultivators are allowed to produce the plant as long as it contains under .3% of THC in its chemical makeup. 

Numerous restrictions still apply in regard to interstate commerce and other market standards for other industries. That said, there are considerable benefits for the market thanks to the bill’s passing. By legalizing the plant, the Farm Bill clarifies the status of CBD much more than before. Additionally, the passage of the law has opened up CBD cultivation across the country, despite a few persisting regulatory issues. More so, it provides protection for the cultivators of the crop. While it may not be a complete success, it is undoubtedly a significant step forward.

Opting for Full

Consumers can purchase two different types of hemp-derived CBD. The first option is the lesser used isolate. Isolates are 99% “pure” CBD. The product is purified of the rest of the cannabinoids and compounds in the hemp plant by chemically stripping the other natural components out. With isolate, the product is sold in powder form and usually mixed with other foods and beverages.

The more commonly consumed, and preferred, option is full spectrum CBD oil. CBD products listed as full spectrum, sometimes referred to as whole plant, offer the entire natural profile of the plant. Unlike isolate, full spectrum provides consumers with CBD as well as other cannabinoids including CBN, CBG, and several others. This includes a low, non-psychoactive concentration of THC, which still cannot exceed .3% under the new regulations.

Some opt for isolate for pure CBD that is free of any compounds or contaminants that may be in the plant, if they are concerned that any THC at all may be problematic for them. While the health concerns are understandable, they are far more a rumor than fact. Meanwhile, the benefits of full spectrum can be found in the healing properties of each cannabinoid. CBD gets the fair share of attention for its extensive list of healing properties. However, others like CBC can promote bone growth, while CBDA inhibits cancer cell growth. Those examples just scrape the surface of a growing list of cannabinoids and benefits worth exploring at length. More importantly, study after study confirms that it is the synergistic effect of all the natural cannabinoids and terpenes working together that truly “supercharge” the positive effects of CBD, not just isolated CBD itself.

Buying Trusted

A number of CBD products continue to mislabel or misrepresent what the product contains. Some claiming “natural hemp oil” may mislead consumers about the true amount of cannabidiol present, while others have overstated health claims or claim “cures” that can be attributed to their CBD products.

Consumers must be mindful of the products that they purchase. “If a seller of CBD is saying that they are selling THC-free full-spectrum oil, or that their product is a ‘cure’ for any disease or condition, that seller should probably be avoided, or at least viewed with a high degree of skepticism,” said CBDPure President CJ Montgomery. “The excitement behind CBD has attracted some new sellers to the market that don’t always have the attention to proper science, compliance, and testing that they should.”

Like a growing portion of the market, CBDPure offers transparent lab test results for its products on the company’s website. Additionally, the company provides 90-day guarantees on its locally-grown, non-GMO, organic standard hemp CBD products. The company says that this approach to sales, which mirrors most thriving customer service-focused health companies and industries, has resulted in “thousands of satisfied CBD customers from all walks of life.”

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CannTrust Meltdown Indicative Of Summer Of Scandal To Come

While you may not have heard of CannTrust Holdings so far, that is now about to change. A summer spectacle of double dealing and corporate greed has put this Canadian cannabis company on the global map.

Unfortunately, the current meltdown underway is indicative of more to come.

A Summary Of The Story So Far

CannTrust, a company which serves 72,000 Canadian patients and got into the game early, decided to do what it saw other companies doing all around them. That covers a lot of ground (good and bad at this point). Regardless, the most relevant recent twist to the saga came when the company hired a new CEO, Peter Aceto last October.

Aceto however, along with the now also fired co-founder and chair of the board Eric Paul, decided to continue growing and harvesting unlicensed product. Worse, this occurred while boasting in public of their productivity gains on the way to securing a hefty investment of capital this spring. $170 million. The grow rooms finally got their certification in April.

What is even more embarrassing however, is that this was a round led by the much-vaunted investors the industry has been courting assiduously for the past several years. Specifically, in this case? Institutional banks like Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Credit Suisse Securities and RBC Capital Markets.

But that is “just” the North American hemisphere. The rather unfortunately named CannTrust (certainly at this point) also had a European footprint – notably Denmark. Unlicensed cannabis ended up there too, of course. Stenocare A/S, the company at the receiving end of the same, reported receipt of product from the unlicensed rooms on July 4.

As far as such things go, however, you have to give it to CannTrust company executives. In terms of setting standards if not benchmarks and “records”, they certainly seemed to have set a few, although probably not the ones they aspired to. If not, with certainty, their investors.

A Surprise Or Inevitability?

That said, for many who have been sounding warnings for at least a year, the 2019 Summer of Canadian Cannascandal is certainly starting to confirm what many have been saying for quite some time. This is not the first time a securities exchange, for one, has sounded the alarm. Deutsche Börse delisted the entire North American public cannabis industry last summer briefly. Then they revised their policy, reluctantly, after Luxembourg changed its stance on medical use. That said, they are still watching with a standing policy of bouncing any company that runs afoul of their rules.

The problems, issues and more bubbling at the center of this cannameltdown, in other words, are not limited to just one company or country.

And everyone knows it.

Accounting For Past Mistakes

For those who are counting, the value of all of that illegally grown CannTrust product is not insignificant. Estimates are floating in the CA$50-70 million range. The problem is, of course, nobody is sure what numbers to rely on. CannTrust employees knowingly provided inaccurate information to the new CEO if not regulatory body until a whistle-blower provided a few more details.

That said, for all of the hullabaloo, one thing this story also does is point a bright spotlight on the lax enforcement of even this pretty easy-to-understand regulation.

The question, however is, if CannTrust thought it could get away with this kind of blatent flouting of the rules, if not lax oversight, are there any other companies who might have also done similiar things?

After all, even the pesticide scandal of 2016 did not occur at just one company either.

Where Are The Proceedings?

This is a rolling story, which began to break at the beginning of last month when Health Canada issued a non-compliance order to CannTrust and impounded 5,200 kg of dried cannabis that was apparently grown in unlicensed grow rooms on July 3.

There have already been some jaw dropping revelations so far (beyond the executive decision to even go down this road in the first place) no matter how attractive pimping numbers was. Starting with things like fake walls being erected to hide the grow. And then of course pictures that have been all over social media of late, of the now departed CEO Aceto being photographed directly in front of said unlicensed rooms too.

As a result, the drama has continued to unfold in a highly predictable way.

By August 1, CannTrust Holdings, a Canadian cannabis company listed on both the New York and Toronto stock exchanges, was facing a “quasi-criminal investigation” by the Canadian Joint Serious Offenses Team. This is a coalition of law enforcement agencies including the Ontario Securities Commission, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Financial Crimes Unit, and the Ontario Provincial Police Anti-Rackets Branch.

But CannTrust’s issues don’t end there. This is an international story that is just beginning. Government regulators in Europe if not elsewhere are paying attention.So are shareholders, and their lawyers.

The post CannTrust Meltdown Indicative Of Summer Of Scandal To Come appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.

Potable Pot: Cannabis Infused Beverages

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue. For subscription services, click here.

Beer has had a long ride as the unofficial drink of St. Patrick’s Day, but proponents of cannabis-infused beverages think that change is coming.

Last October, Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter estimated that the cannabis market could total $7 billion to $10 billion in Canada alone, and that nonalcoholic cannabis-infused beverages could account for as much as $3 billion, or 30 percent of that total market. Molson Coors had already struck a joint venture two months earlier with the Quebec-based cannabis brand HEXO.

A year before, Constellation Brands created a very loud buzz by announcing its investment in Canopy Growth Corp., acquiring 9.9 percent of the Canada-based company. It signaled a very public entrance by a Big Alcohol player into the cannabis industry. Equating to a 10 percent (US $195 million) investment stake in Canada’s largest LP, the move excited industry stakeholders about large, well-capitalized companies taking the cannabis space seriously.

With its major beer division based in Chicago, Constellation Brands has said that it would not be selling any cannabis products in the United States until it was “legally permissible at all government levels,” while adding that it intends to “meet and stay ahead” of new consumer trends.

Heineken-owned Lagunitas Brewing Company, meanwhile, has already been distributing Hi-Fi Hops, its beer-styled sparkling water, in California. While it lacks alcohol, carbs or calories, each 12-ounce can (retailing for $8 apiece) features 10 milligrams of THC. Blue Moon founder Keith Villa, through his company Ceria Beverages, is also making a concerted effort in Colorado to produce
nonalcoholic beverages featuring various levels of THC.

The CEO of Coca-Cola was wary about entering the space given the lack of research and validity about the legitimacy, safety, and daily consumable quotient of cannabis-infused drinks, whether THC or CBD. Nevertheless, Coca-Cola is still planning to incorporate CBD in some beverages. For its part, Pepsi has announced no plans with cannabis, but given its established wellness product line (e.g., its Naked Juice and KeVita kombucha drinks) it would seem unlikely to cede the segment to its archrival.

Furthermore, according to Beverage Digest, US soda sales dropped for 12 consecutive years from 2004 to 2016. As consumers seek healthier products, the global health-and-wellness food
market is expected to climb by nearly 15 percent, from $707 billion in sales in 2016 to $811 billion by 2021.

Cannabis Consumers/ High Times

And while much is yet to be determined in the segment, there are some reliable indications to cheer would-be customers.

Cannabis-infused beverages—and specifically nonalcoholic drinks—can transform the edibles market. One frequently cited complaint about edibles is their delayed post-consumption onset of a high. Since edibles are processed through the gastrointestinal system rather than through the pulmonary system (as when smoked or vaped), the onset of the psychoactive effects can take 30 to 60 minutes compared with the nearly instantaneous effect of smoked cannabis. That lag has been one of the primary reasons for consumer resistance to edibles—especially among consumers such as pain patients, who might be seeking a more immediate effect. Still, several companies are working aggressively to develop infused beverage products with uptake times of 15 minutes or less.

An alternative to drinking: In an October 2018 survey by New Frontier Data, nearly half (45 percent) of cannabis consumers who also drink said they intend to replace at least some of their alcohol use with cannabis in the future. For those who like the taste but worry about the health effects of alcohol, nonalcoholic cannabis-infused beer and wines will likely be intriguing potential replacements.

One way to achieve replacement status is through microdosing to match an equivalent alcohol intake. By infusing beverages with low doses of THC, consumers will be able to ingest the beverage at a pace comparable to beer- and wine-drinking. Finding a 1:1 parity of alcohol to cannabis-infused beverages is the focus of much investment and research as it will enable much easier education on how to consume cannabis beverages, especially for experienced alcohol drinkers.

With hangovers being one of the oft-cited downsides of consuming alcohol, a nonalcoholic cannabis-infused beverage will likely appeal to drinkers who are concerned about comparative health effects.

So by all means, raise your glasses this month and slainte! Just take note that the days of green beer
may be over even sooner than you thought.

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Zimbabwe Will Repeal Laws Banning Cannabis Cultivation

Seeking to bolster revenue and exports, Zimbabwe will repeal its laws that prohibit the production of cannabis.

The announcement came Tuesday from the country’s Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, who said that the reform will allow farmers to grow industrial hemp to export. Ultimately, the goal is for hemp to replace tobacco as the southern Africa nation’s leading crop export.

With global tobacco sales slumping from decades of health campaigns and the recent rise of vaping products—combined with the worldwide rollbacks on prohibitions against cannabis and hemp—the change to the laws is a signal that Zimbabwe is looking toward the future.

Mutsvangwa told members of the press gathered in the capital city of Harare, as quoted by Bloomberg, that “the crop can be a good substitute to the leading export crop, tobacco, which is at risk of being banned globally.”

Zimbabwe is mired in one of the deepest economic crises the country has seen in decades, with staggering inflation on food and devastating drought leaving millions hungry. A report from the United Nations last month found that more than a third of households in rural Zimbabwe—amounting to about 3.5 million people—are “dangerously food insecure.”

By early 2020, the report said, 59 percent of rural households, or more than 5.5 million people, will be food insecure.

That crisis has coincided with Zimbabwe’s rollback of anti-cannabis laws, as the cash-strapped and conservative country continues to reconsider its prohibition. In the spring of last year, Zimbabwe became only the second African country to legalize marijuana for medical purposes (Lesotho, the tiny landlocked nation encircled by South Africa, became the first in 2017). But government officials continue to work out regulatory barriers.

Last year, only a month after announcing the new law on medical cannabis, Zimbabwe hit the brakes on its implementation as it worked to comply with a number of United Nations treaties.

Mutsvangwa told reporters on Tuesday that medical marijuana “will take a long time to set up structures.”

In March, Zimbabwe approved the first license for a private cannabis company, Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe, to produce medical marijuana under the country’s new law. As of February, the Zimbabwe government had reportedly received applications from 37 companies to produce cannabis, a number it hopes will only grow.

“The government of Zimbabwe is open for business and welcomes investors in all sectors of the economy, including licensing for the production of medical cannabis,” said Nathan Emery, the chief operating officer of Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe.

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Maker of Arizona Iced Tea Reportedly Entering Cannabis Industry

As the panorama of cannabis products on the market continues to widen, a major beverage company is stepping into the fray; a Wall Street Journal article announced Wednesday that Arizona Iced Tea is entering into a $10 million deal with a major Denver edibles company to sell cannabis-infused products.

Dixie Brands Inc. already sells marijuana products in five states. Sources say that its offerings in partnership with Arizona Iced Tea will start with vape pens and gummies, and move into beverages like tea, lemonade, seltzer, soda, and coffee. Sales would begin in the United States, and then expand to Canada and Latin America, if all goes according to plan. The deal, which would entail Arizona buying a large stake in Dixie, is still waiting on the go-ahead from Dixie’s board.

The venture is not the only unique marketing turn that has been followed by the company of late. In July, Arizona Iced Tea launched a pop-up with Adidas, in which it sold tea-branded sneakers for 99 cents. The event was massively popular, with long lines forming before the pop-up opened its doors. But tragedy struck when a 15 year old and a 17 year old were assaulted, and NYPD shut down the event before it had a chance to open its doors. Hopefully the cannabis beverage project goes closer to plan.

Arizona Iced Tea is far from the first major beverage company that has announced its interest in entering the cannabis and CBD markets, though it is the first international corporation that has announced plans to sell cannabis beverages in the United States before the drug is federally legalized. The parent company of Svedka vodka and Mondavi wine made a $4 billion equity investment in Canopy Growth Corp., and Walmart also made headlines with an announcement that it would be investigating CBD products.

In 2018, Coca Cola joined in the chorus of canna-beverage hopefuls, announcing that it was in “serious talks” with Aurora Cannabis regarding the possibility of selling a CBD “recovery” drink. Molson Coors has also discussed its plans to partner with Canadian marijuana producer Hexo Corp. on a line of cannabis-infused drinks called Truss. The project will be aired at Coors’ next quarterly call, and will apparently hit the market when the products get legal clearance, which the companies hope will be later this year.

“Truss’s portfolio of brands will taste great and be scalable because of its infusion technology and flavouring capabilities within its Belleville, Ontario, facility,” said outgoing Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter. “And Truss’s portfolio will meet an array of consumer occasions.”

California beer company Lagunitas (owned by Heineken) became an early entrant into the cannabis beverage market when it released its Hi-Fi Hops, a mineral water infused with cannabis that comes in 5mg THC and 10mg THC editions.

But not everything may be as rosy in the cannabis beverage market as some of these mega-brands would have you believe. A recent investigation into the market’s “sunny investor forecasts” by Amanda Chicago Lewis looked into some of the limits of the appeal of drinkable marijuana.

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An Otherworldly Experience: Nakamura.ke’s Glow-In-The-Dark Pop-Up

Nakamura.ke is special. Every so often a pop-up restaurant concept hits Los Angeles that breaks through the static and changes the game. This is one of those concepts, but to simply call it a pop-up restaurant doesn’t do it justice. It’s an immersive dining experience that leaves you drooling for more.

Out of This World

When I heard Nakamura.ke earned an extended run in Los Angeles following sold-out stints in Atlanta and Charlotte, I knew I had to go. After puffing an Aster Farms Outer Space pre-roll (it seemed like a fitting smoke to pre-game eating luminescent food) my Weed+Grub podcast co-host Mary Jane Gibson and I hopped in an Uber, and blazed through the bending streets of the Hollywood Hills towards Nakamura.ke’s shipping-container-turned-restaurant on the grounds of the famed Yamashiro Restaurant, where we were treated to the most gorgeous view of the City of Angels.

Courtesy of Weed+Grub

After confirming we’d ordered the “Omotenashi” VIP Chef Experience, we were handed ice cold sake mules, courtesy of Nakamura.ke’s partnership with Hiro Sake. They were sweet, limey, and boozy, and as we sipped them standing beside an 8-foot-tall grinning Golden Buddha while watching the sunset, we felt transported to another dimension.

Courtesy of Weed+Grub

A Portal to Another Dimension

The story behind Nakamura.ke is beautiful. As we were led through the underbelly of Yamashiro, through a secret staircase in the kitchen and down a glowing red hallway towards our meal, we were stopped briefly by our guide, who told us the tale of why these sumptuous bowls of ramen brightly glow. 

The tale goes something like: “The creator of lumen-ramen had a dream one night that there was a storm. A family was separated by the storm, and now they’re looking for each other. As they seek one another out, the closer they get to rejoining their family and the people they love, the food they cook glows brighter. It comes to life.” Pure theater!

After this story, Mary Jane let out a little gasp. We both felt how fortunate we were to experience this literal dream come true.  

Courtesy of Dashboard

An Interstellar Experience

Before we even got inside the tiny shipping container that houses Nakumura.ke, we could smell the bubbly, fatty 10-hour ramen broth waiting to be ladled into our bowls. It immediately turned my cottonmouth into a saliva swimming pool (Gross? Maybe, but so true.)  

We were greeted by upbeat chefs who got sake shots flowing while our specialty drinks were prepared. Mary Jane indulged in a Nakamura Arashi (Josen sake, Roku Gin, cherry brandy, coconut milk and viola flower) that looked like it tasted: sexy AF. I sipped a Noroi (Barley Honkaku Shochu, Yuzu Umeshu Benedictine, yuzu juice shish, basil, and lime leaves) that made me glow like the drink itself.

Courtesy of Weed+Grub

By now, our bellies were black holes of hunger. And the luminescent bowls of noodles that arrived in front of us were mind-altering. The whole tiny space went silent, except for slurping sounds of ecstasy. It felt like a food-porn acid trip. 

We shared the exotic Tsukemen (tonkotsu lumen broth, lumen shoyu tare, blue lumen noodles, braised pork belly, scallions, tonkotsu fat, bamboo shoots, fish cake, katsuobushi) and the classic Asahikawa (tonkotsu broth, lumen shoyu tare, green lumen noodles, tiger prawn, gyoza, crispy chicken skin, smoked pork fat, napa cabbage, shiitake mushroom, pickled ginger). #WTFisThisLife

Courtesy of Weed+Grub

Back to Reality, Almost

We didn’t want the delectable experience to end, and lucky for us it didn’t have to. Nakamura.ke has partnered with the debaucherous Disco Dining Club to create Yomi’s Saloon, which is billed as:

“The underworld’s only bar where the dead and the living co-exist. Welcome sinners, cowboys, soldiers, lumberjacks, miners and gamblers. Welcome those with a soul and those who left their soul in the realm of the living. Welcome home.”

Courtesy of Disco Dining Club

We sipped glowstick-colored cocktails wrapped in plumes of sage smoke, and recapped the noodle-filled night while slowly returning to Earth. Grab your own tickets for an out-of-this-world experience, spark a fatty up before you go, and enjoy the trip.

Nakamura.ke extended their LA stay until August 11th. Get tickets here. 

Mike Glazer is an Emmy-nominated comedian who graduated from culinary school, and is obsessed with his podcast Weed+Grub.

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Going from the Grow to Extraction with Canndescent’s Ultra-Premium Oils

Based in Desert Hot Springs, Canndescent has been active in the cannabis industry since the mid-90s, opening California’s first municipally-permitted facility in 2015 — the site in which their coveted “virgin cannabis” is meticulously cultivated.

From this highly potent flower, a skilled team of lab technicians work diligently to extract ultra premium vape oil. Canndescent’s cartridges come in five signature effects — Calm, Cruise, Create, Connect, and Charge — and are the result of a painstaking CO2 extraction and triple distillation process.

What is CO2 Extraction?

Simply put, CO2 extraction is a process in which pressurized carbon dioxide is used to pull lipids, terpenes, and cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. CO2 extraction may be otherwise known as supercritical fluid extraction. This process is one of the most effective solvent-free extraction methods to maintain terpene levels and prevent a loss of cannabinoids.

Why does Canndescent use CO2?

 “Our goal is to make the product as efficiently as possible while following the highest quality standards for pure terpenes and cannabinoids,” explains Canndescent VP of Product Development, Shelly Tallabas.

While CO2 is not the cheapest extraction method, it is one of the most versatile solvents. Canndescent utilizes the Green Mill Supercritical and a “cold and slow” process to produce the best oil possible.

How does the extraction process work?

For Canndescent, it all begins with exceptional cannabis. Plant material of the highest quality is sourced from their gardens and brought to the extraction lab. Canndescent technicians then place the plant matter into the “SFE PRO” — a Green Mill Supercritical extraction system — which automates much of the process for consistently excellent results.

Next, extraction-grade CO2 is chilled to freezing temperatures and pumped through a high-pressure liquid CO2 pump. This pressure turns the gas into a dense liquid, which passes through the chamber of raw plant material.

When warmed, the CO2 evaporates and the density changes, leaving behind pure oil, lipids, and terpenes in different collection chambers. At this point, any terpenes that have been gently extracted from the CO2 process are reintroduced in a fresh, unadulterated state.

The key difference during the production of Canndescent oil happens during the finishing distillation stage.

Canndescent’s most notable method comes during the finishing distillation stage. While others utilize just a Wiped Film system which can leave some damaged terpenes behind, Canndescent uses both Wiped Film and Spinning Band systems. This combination not only removes any residual impurities, but can also significantly boost THC and other cannabinoids, while creating a virtually clear distillate that stands out among other vape cart producers on the shelf.

Is color an indication of quality concentrates? 

“Color and clarity are two key variables that can be used to determine the quality of any oil product,” explains Tallabas. “But with that said, there are various techniques that can be used to get that type of clarity. In the case of Canndescent, we meticulously adhere to the highest standards during our distillation process.” The resulting product is a virtually water-clear oil with potencies anywhere between 78-94%, depending on the effect. “This is also due to the quality of flower used to begin the process,” and as Tallabas admits, “that’s something we’re really proud of around here.”

Find ultra-premium Canndescent oil near you.

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