Is The Hemp Revolution Coming?

It’s been a persistent urban myth among some cannabis advocates that the Declaration of Independence and its 56 signatures were written on hemp paper. Of course, that theory has been thoroughly debunked by researchers at Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s estate), the Library of Congress and the National Archives. The final document signed by the founding fathers at the Continental Congress in July 1776 was engrossed on parchment made from animal skin. The original rough draft, written by Jefferson and kept among the Jefferson Papers collection at the Library of Congress, has watermarks indicating it to be Dutch-made paper consisting of flax or linen rags.

Nevertheless, some 242 years later, hemp is revolutionary in its own way. As recently noted in our December 2017 column (“Is This Finally the Big Moment for Hemp?”), hemp is enjoying an international renaissance. Both extremely versatile and ecologically friendly to produce, hemp is being grown and used worldwide in the development of an ever-expanding array of commercial applications including hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) and terpenoid oils, tinctures, foods, dietary supplements, nutraceuticals, body-care products, textiles, construction materials, applied materials, and industrial products.

Despite a long, rich history in America (preceding the establishment of the United States itself) and being touted for its benefits as recently as World War II (“Hemp for Victory!” was a rallying slogan to defeat the Axis), for the past half-century industrial hemp has suffered prohibited federal classification because of its kinship to cannabis. The plants are related, but while marijuana remains banned under the federal Controlled Substances Act due to the psychoactive properties of THC, hemp typically contains less than 0.3 percent of it, whereas medical and adult-use cannabis commonly features between 5 and 25 percent THC.

New Frontier Data is tracking some detailed prospective market trajectories, and recently acquired the Hemp Business Journal to bolster resources for leading data and market intelligence in the industry. As Sean Murphy, New Frontier Data’s director of hemp analytics, notes, “There is continued tension in the industry, with actions being taken by and between hemp and marijuana players in states like Oregon. There’s also industry love happening with an increase of M&A [mergers and acquisitions] deals in Canada being driven by Canadian LPs [licensed producers], Big Tobacco, and Big Pharmaceuticals placing bets and positioning their interests in the market.”

Is The Hemp Revolution Coming?

Courtesy of Hemp Business Journal

As detailed in the Hemp Business Journal’s “CBD Report 2018,” the total CBD market in the United States grew at a rate of 40 percent in 2017 and is projected to reach $1.2 billion in sales by 2020, and nearly $2 billion by 2022. In 2017, $190 million of those sales came from hemp-based sources, compared to $177 million from adult-use and medical cannabis sources. Given the potential profits involved, it is no surprise to learn of some fissures opening among interested players within the reform movement.

  • Some US cannabis operators are already resenting how hemp products are increasingly battling for retail shelf space in dispensaries.
  • Hemp is cultivated by the acre on farms, whereas cannabis is grown by the square foot in greenhouses or indoor-cultivation facilities, giving hemp growers an economic advantage to scale and dominate supply chains for CBD products.
  • Hemp acreage in the United States keeps expanding, if unevenly. While Oregon recorded nearly 3,500 cultivated hemp acres in 2017, its neighbor Washington cultivated about 175 acres—a 20-to-one difference.
  • With legalized hemp programs in 34 states, protectionist legislation is being proposed in several legislatures to shield the legal cannabis market from hemp-based competition.
  • Canada’s hemp production continues to set the pace for the fledgling US market. Health Canada reported 138,00 acres licensed for cultivation in 2017, and the Hemp Business Journal estimates that 110,000 acres were under cultivation (actual cultivation data is yet to be verified by Health Canada or the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance).
  • As Canadian hemp can now be used only to yield seeds and fiber (leaving leaves and flower unutilized), global competitors from China, Switzerland and other European Union nations are buying whole plants for expansive processing.
  • Even so, Canadian LPs are quickly positioning themselves to penetrate the global CBD market by acquiring hemp companies in preparation of new cannabis laws this summer. The spike in M&A activity among Canadian LPs and small hemp cultivators and extractors is a clear sign of Canadian LPs moving quickly into the CBD market upon passage of the new legislation.

Assuming such skirmishing to be indicative of future market activity, projections for the production, use and sales of low-THC products will remain sky-high.

This feature was published in the July 2018 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

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How to Talk About Cannabis with Your Family This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is in a mere few days and we all know what that means: spending time with your family and friends for a national holiday centered around love and gratitude. For many, Thanksgiving just means stress—mostly due to being inundated with questions from well-meaning family members. Questions about your personal life, questions about your career– not to mention the added stress that comes with celebrating a major holiday of questionable origin so quickly after an election.

Is it any wonder that so many of us choose to medicate with some sweet ganja before (and during) Thanksgiving?

The benefits of toking up during the holidays are numerous, even if, by some cosmic grace, you have no family drama. And with changing laws and more and more information about cannabis being reported, your family might even want to talk about it. Hell, maybe you’re feeling particularly confident this year and want to bring it up first. If you’re trying to be this Thanksgiving’s best conversationalist and official Family Authority on All Things Cannabis, we have some advice for you:

1. Broaching the Subject with Skeptics

Every family has this character. The one who always has an argument against the latest research, who refuses to actually read that research, and whose catchphrase might as well be “all of the “evidence is fake; the research was funded by Big (fill in the blank yourself).”

This person may have argued with you in the past about a plethora of issues ranging from vaccinations to same-sex marriage. Back then, you probably gave up on trying to change their mind. But this year? This year, you’re going to accomplish the impossible: you’re going to make the family skeptic see the light.

Casually bring up cannabis and gauge the their reaction. If they seem even remotely interested, grab that chance and proceed full force. Be prepared for every “what about” and “let’s see the proof”. Make sure you’re well-versed in the documented benefits of CBD and stats about criminalization and the racism that drives it. Don’t be afraid to think outside the border—bring up the success in public health that Portugal has had since decriminalizing all drugs.

If they’re not receptive, then they’re not receptive. At the end of the day, some people just refuse to adapt their views when presented with new information. It’s not your fault. Just enjoy your buzz and change the topic to something slightly less loaded—like Jeff Sessions being fired and how his replacement might impact the Mueller investigation.

2. Talking About Treatment Options with the Ailing and the Elderly

Not all family drama is political. Pretty much every family has someone who has battled or is currently fighting an illness. If one of your family members has been diagnosed with cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, or any other disease, they may benefit from adding cannabis to their roster of meds. They may also benefit from cannabis if they’re coping with a mental illness or addiction. By talking about substances like cannabis and disorders like mental illness, HIV, and addiction, we can work towards destigmatizing them and, in turn, encourage more people to seek help and support.

But maybe your family is currently healthy and the only ailment among the lot is the typical side effects of aging. Your elder family members could also find cannabis useful! When you hear Grandma complain about joint pain, you might want to recommend that she tries a topical, or maybe even some edibles.

And don’t forget to tell your Blue Mercury-loyal aunties that cannabis-infused skincare is something to look into.

3. Kids are Present—What Now?

Thanksgiving usually brings out the entire family—including children. Anyone who has ever been around kids knows that they tend to hear everything, ask tons of questions, and repeat what they hear. So you might as well make sure they have the right information.

If you’re showing off your new Pax to your cuz and their kiddo pops up asking what a vape is, honesty is the best policy. Explain, with your cousin’s blessing of course, what cannabis is in the most kid-friendly way you can. Here’s a pro-tip: just keep it simple. Tell them that cannabis is just a plant that some people use to help them feel better. You don’t need to go into the finer points, like terpenes and cannabinoids and stash-saving consumption methods.

But what if your teenaged, or even preteen, family member asks you about weed? First, be flattered that they like and trust you enough to approach you about such a topic. And then, understand that you have an enormous responsibility to give them accurate information. When you educate someone about taboo subjects, such as drugs or sex, you encourage them to think critically and make better choices, leading to harm reduction. It could be the difference between life and death.

And if that teenager asks you to smoke them out? Come on, guys, the answer to that is obviously no.

4. Tactfully Talking Legalization

It was only two weeks ago that three states passed monumental marijuana legislation. If you’re from one of these states, you better believe it’s going to be a topic of conversation. Even if your family has no ties to these states at all, chances are, you’re in one of the 30 states with a medical marijuana program or maybe even one of the 10 states with adult-use weed. Whatever your situation, if your family is even the tiniest bit political, the new laws will probably come up at some point in the evening.

As with every family discussion about current events, we recommend that you bring tact to the table. The perception of cannabis is changing, but some people in your family may be a bit reluctant to see it as anything other than the “gateway drug.” Whether you try to change their minds or not, the most important thing to remember is that all of your contributions to the conversation will be better heard and more respected if you present your arguments calmly and avoid getting heated—even in the face of the family skeptic sniping you down at every point.

You might help your relatives see the light. You might not. Either way, if you have cohesive and well-researched points, it’ll plant the seed for even your more stubborn kin to look more into cannabis.

5. Bring Samples!

What’s the best way to talk about cannabis with your family this Thanksgiving? By using visual aides! If you’re able to, bring some topicals, some CBD, or even a vape to the party this year. Invite your of-age relatives to try out some products and see for themselves the benefits of using cannabis.

If nothing else, you’ll forever stake your claim as “the cool cousin.”

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The Race is On For Cannabis Companies to Create Salve for PTSD

When a major problem exists, there’s a great opportunity for a company or a segment of an industry to come in and create a solution. This is where companies go from barely known startups to culture-changing profit-generators.  And, when the problem has to do with health matters that have reached a critical mass, the opportunity for businesses to serve the greater good is even more enormous.

A group of stakeholders who need solutions right now are veterans and their loved ones. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is increasing at an alarming rate among those who serve in the military. But more often than not, the VA doesn’t provide the proper care our vets need.

Up to 24 million Americans are living with PTSD, according to the Centers for Disease Control – and 22 veterans suffering from PTSD commit suicide in the United States every day.

The associated anxiety, depression, and physical pain also has helped feed an escalating opioid addiction problem– and veterans are the most vulnerable demographic to struggle with this type of addiction. They’re also twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose.

The founding members of the National Institute for Cannabis Investors have talked to dozens of doctors and researchers this year in New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and beyond. The word we keep hearing is: epidemic.

PTSD – and pain in general – isn’t just going to go away. But support is growing for cannabis as a treatment for PTSD. And that’s helping drive public opinion in favor of reversing cannabis prohibitions as much as perhaps any single factor, which that opens up a whole world of opportunities.

Let’s take a look at some of the how and the who involved here…

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Researchers Think That Hemp Could be an Additional Pollen Source for Bees

Good news for bee fans; hemp fields may hold a worst-case cache of nutrients for hungry colonies, according to a study done by a Colorado State etymology student. Last week, Colton O’Brien presented, in a gathering of etymological societies, his discovery of a total of 23 bee genera in traps that he set up in a hemp field in August. The preponderance of the winged critters that the student found among the hemp rows indicate that the crop could have unexpected ecological value — a nice bonus should current rumblings of hemp legalization result in a boom of the plant’s commercial production.

In some ways, hemp plants are a surprising draw for bee populations. The plant does not create nectar, and its pollen is typically spread by wind, not insects. O’Brien’s month-long study was conducted at a time of year in which few other plants are growing, which may explain in part the hemp’s popularity for hungry bees on the search for sustenance. In reporting the story, ScienceNews adds that the effects of hemp pollen on bee larvae is unknown.

But it’s possible that in hard times, hemp could be a good resource for struggling bee colonies. In the November 11 presentation at yearly gathering of US and Canadian etymological societies Etymology 18, O’Brien stressed that his discovery of hemp-loving worker bees meant added responsibility for farmers. Pest-repelling techniques, he argued, should be chosen with an eye for those that have no deleterious effect on bees’ access to the hemp plants.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell proposed the 2018 Hemp Farming Act, and in an interview after the midterm elections told reporters that provisions for hemp agriculture would be included in this year’s Farm Bill. If this were to come to pass, it would mean taking hemp off the government’s list of controlled substances and legalizing the crop’s sale.

There are plenty of reasons to think of the bees. Over the past half-century, the agricultural production that depends on bees has tripled. During the same period, bee population has dipped dramatically, causing scientists to scramble for solutions from global AI hive monitoring networks to tiny QR code backpacks for individual buzzers.

Though the cannabis field study explored new territory, it’s not the first time that the relationship between bee colonies and cannabis plants has been examined. There are several projects that look at how bees can help deliver medical marijuana in a bio-accessible manner. French beekeeper Nicolas Trainerbees is among those experimenting with the interaction between bees and higher THC cannabis varieties, along with the “cannahoney” their pairing produces. Israeli company PhytoPharma sells high CBD and THC versions of Pure Bee cannabis honey in pre-measured-dosage cooking syringe, which the consumption of which, the firm says, can deliver medicinal benefits of marijuana strains efficiently to patients.

Ecological and economic import of impending hemp legislation aside, it is hard to deny that the image of emerald-stained honeybees climbing through cannabis plants holds an incredible appeal. ScienceNews’ sum-up of O’Brien’s presentation sounds like a chapter out of a Wizard of Oz book: “He caught big bumblebees, tiny metallic-green sweat bees and many others clambering around in the abundant greenish-yellow pollen shed by the male flowers.”

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CBD FAQ with New Hemp Manufacturer Populum

What is Hemp Oil?

Hemp oil contains a significant amount cannabidiol, but also other things like essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, terpenes, flavonoids, and over 80 other non-pychoactive cannabinoids that interact with your endocannabinoid system to help with homeostasis (bodily balance).

How is it taken from the plant?

Hemp oil is extracted from the plant using a distillation process.

Are your farms ethical?

Our hemp is ethically grown and farmed in Colorado. We are proud to be grown & formulated domestically.

Where can we find your product?

You can shop our products at

What is your connection to Omaha and Phoenix?

Gunhee, our founder, is originally from Omaha. He is an alumnus of Mount Michael Benedictine High School. The company was founded in Tempe, AZ and Gunhee is a graduate of Arizona State University.

Why are you based in Omaha and Phoenix?

Our headquarters and fulfillment center is located in Tempe, AZ. We started an office that focuses on operations and customer service in Omaha, NE in Q4 of 2017. Our goal is to continue to grow talent in both locations, while also employing team members across the country that are passionate in our cause.

How much revenue are you doing?

The company was founded in late 2016. In 2017, our first full year, we did $550K. In 2018, we are projected to do $1M in revenue.

How did you gain startup capital?

We are 100% bootstrapped and have grown the company through reinvesting our profits. In 2018, we are looking to do $1M in revenue.

Is it marijuana?

CBD is derived from industrial hemp, which is not marijuana. The classification of industrial hemp can be found in the 2014 Farm Bill, which is defined as the following:

Industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, low-THC, genetically distinct varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa. Hemp has absolutely no use as a recreational drug. Section 7606 of the Farm Bill defines industrial hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

How is it not marijuana?

Marijuana is grown with techniques that create a potency of THC in the final product. Hemp is not grown in this way, and is used for a variety of purposes outside of CBD oil, including textiles, food, and a variety of other materials. Every order from Populum comes with third-party lab results showing exactly what is in your CBD, and we always ensure that it is less than .3% THC.

Do you believe in marijuana legalization?

We would rather not get in the political debate for marijuana legalization. We are a strong advocate for separating hemp, as a crop, from marijuana and fully support all legislation that will help clarify the distinction.

Do you make efforts towards marijuana legalization?


How do you interact with/give back to the Phoenix/Omaha community?

We have an initiative in our company to donate part of our profits quarterly to different non-profit organizations. We believe that an important part of providing a wellness product is ensuring that we are fulfilling our passion for helping people, and that it is imperative to ensure every person has a chance at being in good health. Most recently, we donated to Empowerment Systems, an Arizona-based nonprofit that provides classes for living with chronic conditions, as well as wellness coaching.

How do you feel ASU helped prepare you to start this company?

W.P Carey offered lot of opportunities to take on leadership roles and to grow professionally. Being part of Barrett, the honors college, also helped to be constantly challenged and surrounded by open-minded and ambitious individuals.

How do we know it is safe?

Part of our process is to conduct a third-party lab test with every batch we formulate each month. A copy of this lab report is included in every order, showing exactly what is in your hemp oil.

Have you received any backlash?


What are your company’s core values?

Transparency. Quality. Superior customer experience.

How did you get started?

Our founder, Gunhee Park, first picked up a bottle of CBD oil in 2013. He was initially skeptical, but after using it over time, found it became a part of his daily supplement regimen. Soon after that, Gunhee’s mom called him to say she had to give up hiking, her favorite activity, because she was having pain in her knees. Gunhee wanted to help. After a couple of months of using both a CBD oil and topical, to their surprise, her inflammation subsided. Seeing his mom back on the hiking trail established Gunhee’s faith that hemp could be a lasting solution for everyone.

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Mommy and Me Trip to the Weed Maze: Normalizing Cannabis for Toddlers

New York City is sardined with Mommy and Me events ranging from “Typical” (music with Bev at the onesie store) to “Huh!” (drag story hour at the library) and it expands from there. You can take your kid to a fancy lunch with other richies for a couple hundy or take a special unicorn cupcake making class.
But that’s not how I roll. Rather, my toddler son and I showed up early for the hour-long Netflix Narcos: Mexico Experience event and were greeted by a crew of strapping DEA agents. They were much friendlier in real life than I expected. They commented on how cute my son was and offered to help us in various ways. If that’s what a drug bust is like, count us in!
There were two points of entrance for the maze: the DEA or Mexico side. We chose Mexico.

Jessica Delfino

Spoiler: The Narcos weed maze is made of fake (sad face) cannabis and there wasn’t a stitch of the good stuff anywhere on the premises, but the large-scale canna-maze, built on the roof of the City Winery at Pier 26, reminded me of a seasonal corn maze—except, you know, made of fake weed. Slogans, such as “The future will find you!” and large mirrors decorated the walls, while sound clips and the show’s theme song played over the speakers, giving the vibe that you were on your couch at home, Netflixin’ and chillin’. But we were on a rooftop in 36-degree windy winter weather—the most literal form of chillin’.

Corridors led to hidden areas. One of which was a (somehow) charming, 1980’s-style DEA agent’s office that was sprinkled with the spoils of a major bust, replete with (fake?) automatic weapons, giant bricks of what appeared to be cocaine and piles of weed.
Mommy and Me Trip to the Weed Maze Celebrating Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico Experience

Jessica Delfino

My son was perplexed by the maze and was curious about the plastic cannabis leaves that adorned the tall walls. I, too, was perplexed. How did they find that much artificial cannabis, and where? There must have been thousands of dollars worth of fake pot there. What a waste. Why not use the money on actual cannabis? Hello?!

My little guy roamed the maze, a bit shy and confused at first, but slowly became more adventurous throughout the experience. Admittedly, the maze is for adults and not kids, but when you’re a freelancer, every day is bring your kid to work day.
At the end of the maze—which was less of a maze and more of a pretty straightforward path—I was given a tee shirt and a sweet deck of cards that had 54 Spanish words on them. See? There was some educational benefit to taking my child to the weed maze, after all.
Bros especially are going to love the Netflix Narcos: Mexico maze, where they can pose with lots of pretend contraband, which is free and open to the public, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Nov 15 to 17.
Narcos: Mexico premieres worldwide Nov. 16 on Netflix.

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Bloom Farms Announces Commitment to Gender Equality in the Cannabis Industry

Yesterday, California’s Bloom Farms announced a plan to erase gender disparity among its lists of cannabis producers, pledging to source half of its marijuana supply from woman farmers by the end of 2020. The move, announced in a Nov. 13 statement, comes in response to growing concerns that the cannabis industry is not taking the necessary steps needed to become gender equitable.

Business analyses show an increasingly dramatic divide between men and women in terms of who’s making money off of legal weed. One study by Marijuana Business Daily found that the percentage of women at the executive level in the cannabis industry fell from 36 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in 2017. Recent revelations also show that the largest North American marijuana companies are dominated by men. Furthermore, the appearance of high profile sexual misconduct allegations have called into question the commitment of certain industry leaders support of female leadership.

“We’ve seen increasing sexism, sexual misconduct, and discrimination in the industry and there should be no place for that kind of behavior,” said Michael Ray, Bloom Farms’ CEO, in an AP press release. “Bloom Farms wants to ensure an opportunity gap isn’t created for talented and diverse business owners who have been essential to the California cannabis community for many years.”

The statement goes on to say that Bloom is in the process of identifying and securing supply agreements with a number of California cannabis farms owned or operated by women. The company intends to introduce the gender equity goal to its operations in Nevada and other states, too. No data has been released on the current breakdown of gender among its cannabis suppliers.

This is not the first time Bloom Farms has publicly announced plans to insert do-gooder protocol into its modus operandi. Since its inception in 2014, Bloom has dubbed itself a “mission-driven company,” a designation that so far, has translated into supporting California and Nevada food banks. For every product sold — including the firm’s rose gold vapor pens and an array of flower strains — the company donates a meal to a food bank around the state. To date, their one-to-one business model is said to have donated nearly 1.4 million plates to the homeless.

From the company’s perspective, the blossoming cannabis industry has an opportunity to set a standard for gender equity, among other positive societal frameworks. “The cannabis industry should be a transformative force in many aspects of society as it expands across the country,” says Sallyann Nichols, president of distribution, “from urban and rural renewal to state and local finances to creating opportunity for a wide range of entrepreneurs.”

Bloom isn’t the only company concerned about equal career opportunities in the cannabis industry. The Massachusetts state government announced earlier this year that it would conduct a study to examine gender and racial inequities in the industry. Various organizations have been established to foster the careers of women in cannabis, including Denver’s Women Grow and state-based networks like Illinois Women in Cannabis. Madrone Stewart’s Feminist Weed Farmer is another example of published projects that have been recently made available with the aim of diversifying the face of those growing our cannabis.

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Double Barrel and Verano Announce Exclusive Cannabis Business Partnership

Specialty vaporizer manufacturer Double Barrel announced that it has entered into an exclusive partnership with Verano Holdings that will create new markets for its patented flagship product. News of the deal was revealed at the opening of MJBizCon, a cannabis industry convention taking place this week in Las Vegas.

Under the deal, Double Barrel will be offered at Verano’s Zen Leaf cannabis dispensaries in Illinois effective immediately. The companies plan to then extend the partnership early next year to Maryland, Florida, and Nevada, with more states to follow.

Ann Skalski, the chief brand officer for Double Barrel, said in a press release that the new partnership brings together two firms that are focused on quality.

“Verano and Double Barrel share a passion for superior quality, exquisite taste and operational excellence taken to a whole new level, making Verano the ideal partner for sharing our Double Barrel lifestyle with the world,” said Skalski.

Verano Holdings is a vertically integrated cannabis cultivator, processor, and retailer with licensed operations in four states. The company’s premium cannabis oil blends will be loaded into Double Barrel two-cartridge vaporizers that allow users to create cannabis combinations customized for flavor and effect.

“We’ve applied the most advanced vaping technology and manufacturing techniques to the Double Barrel vaporizer, allowing for a precise, smooth and controlled pull, that can mix-and-match multiple suppliers’ premium strains, and is ready to expand with the support of Verano’s  distribution channels,” said Skalski.

Common Values

Sam Dorf, the chief strategy officer at Verano, said that the two companies share common values.

“Verano has built a reputation for the finest quality luxury organic cannabis brands and an unparalleled level of customer service by that has become the hallmark of Verano’s Zen Leaf dispensaries, ” said Dorf.  “In Double Barrel, we’ve found an excellent partner who shares our beliefs and values for setting the highest standards of excellence with an added flair that drives instant recognition.”

“Double Barrel  has become well known and respected for delivering the smoothest, most customizable and unique vaping experience available,” he added.

Double Barrel products are currently only available at cannabis dispensaries in California. Dorf noted that the new partnership will make the brand available to a wider market.

“We’re thrilled to share Double Barrel across our multi-state footprint that reaches the most discerning customers, who value our organic luxury brands, and who desire accessories that exude the dash, vivacity and superior-quality that Double Barrel is known to deliver,” Dorf said.

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Weed Scams are Trending on Instagram—and People are Falling for Them

Ngaio Bealum (@ngaio420), writer, comedian, and resident cannaseur on the Netflix show Cooking on High, told High Times that he makes his connection to California’s legal pot industry obvious in his Instagram posts. Little did he know that by doing so, it made his social media identity vulnerable to imposters attempting to scam people.

“I got a lot of pictures of me, sitting out there holding giant bags of weed, or sitting on a farm or whatnot because that’s what I do,” Bealum says. “I love hanging out at the farm.” 

But last week, a friend sent Bealum a screenshot of an Instagram profile that had an image of Bealum and a group of his friends as the main photo. The account had 12 of images lifted off of Bealum’s real account—and the bio offered pot for sale, with shipping available to any location.

“Whoever that person was had just stolen all those shots and posted them up like I was out here selling weed across state lines to all kind of people, which we cannot have,” Bealum says. “I don’t sell weed. I love marijuana, but I don’t sell it.”

Bealum is just one example of thousands, however. From A-list celebrities to popular figures in the cannabis industry, social media has become a means through which low-level identity theft and scams are regularly taking place. Particularly on Instagram, the faces of cannabis influencers are being used to facilitate scams. And the people often left suffering are the those just trying to score some weed.



After being made aware of the imposter account, Bealum notified Instagram and posted a screenshot of the fake profile, asking his 57,000 followers to report it as well. Bealum believes that the added pressure spurred Instagram to act quickly—the bogus profile was removed from the platform within a couple of hours.

“Top Cali packs on deck,” the fake Instagram bio said. “We do discrete delivery within and out of state. Wikr for price and menu…”

(In this case, the way to determine the Instagram account is a scam is because they don’t use the right “discreet” in a sentence. But more on that later.)

Lynn Thomas (@greengoldfarms) of Green Gold Farms in San Diego has seen dozens of Instagram users purporting to be him and offering weed for sale. And what’s worse, he’s heard from people who have been scammed by them.

On several occasions, Thomas says he’s received Instagram direct messages from people who have wired money to one of the imposters for weed they never received. He hates having to be the one to let people know they’ve been scammed.

Thomas says the social media imposters have devised themselves a good racket: victims aren’t likely to seek a refund from a payment service or complain to the police. “I see how it works,” he says, “and there’s [almost] no way to get caught.”

There was one scam victim in particular who contacted Thomas after sending an imposter $2,600 for two pounds of pot that never arrived. Thomas said that even if the scammer is only successful a couple of times a month, at that rate, it’s not a bad take.

Like Bealum, when Thomas gets wind of imposter accounts he notifies Instagram immediately. He then shares a post calling out the scammer and asks his followers to spread the word and report the account. More than anything, Thomas says he doesn’t want more people to have their money stolen, and he also doesn’t want to run into anyone angry about being victimized.

“At the end of the day, they’re using my face to rip people off,” said Thomas.

Courtesy of Jerry Krecicki

Photographer Jerry Krecicki (@jerrykrecicki), whose work has graced the pages of High Times, is another cannabis influencer who’s been impersonated on Instagram and other social media platforms. “I grew up in Everglade City and Naples, Florida—the hub of where all the marijuana came into the country back in the ’80s,” he says. “I started taking pictures of cannabis and growing cannabis at 14-years-old.”

Krecicki said that he was first impersonated by a scammer on social media a couple of years ago.

“I got a message from a friend of mine, complaining to me that he couldn’t believe I was selling cannabis online. I asked him what he was talking about and he pulled the page up. The original page was using pictures of me and my family members for pushing cannabis. So I reported it to Instagram, and I got it deleted.”

He said that with decades in the industry, criminals find his identity attractive to assume. It happens continuously, and Krecicki believes that a repeat offender is to blame.

“I get an average of three to five a week,” Krecicki says. “They’re all from the same guy, normally, that’s doing them. Over the last two years, it’s been a chronic pattern of the same crew doing these fake pages.”

Jerry Krecicki

When contacted for this story, an Instagram spokesperson noted that claiming to be another person violates the platform’s Community Guidelines. The company uses automated tools to detect fake accounts and has more than 20,000 employees working on safety and security—twice as many as last year. Every day, millions of fake accounts are blocked at registration.

“We care deeply about the quality of content on Instagram. And we take spam, inauthentic and other abusive behavior very seriously. When we find inauthentic activity, we work to counter and prevent it, including blocking accounts and removing violating content all at once. We review suspicious activity closely and take the time to understand how to help prevent similar activity in the future,” the spokesperson said via email.

So, how can you determine if a profile you’re following is the real deal? Jonathan Lepow, owner and co-founder of Top Tree (@toptree), a social media digital advertising agency, said that influencers can complete a verification process to assure their followers the profile is legitimate.

“Ultimately, being verified is a great way to know if the person that you’re talking to is legitimately that person,” Lepow says. “But not everybody can be verified,” 

There are requirements to meet for an account to attain a verified status. And the existence of imposter profiles could expedite the process. 

“When you show a need to Instagram to have your page verified because people are copying you, that can sometimes be a motivator to get an account verified,” said Lepow.

He added that it should be obvious that social media should not be considered a safe way to find your next pot connection.

“If you’re putting yourself in the position to where you’re purchasing cannabis online, you gotta be ready to be scammed,” Lepow said. “Paypal isn’t going to return your money because the drugs weren’t delivered.”

In Bealum’s case, the bio of the fake account had misspellings, which is sacrilege for a writer and a massive indicator that something’s off. Bealum did, however, offer a generous solution for anyone having a hard time finding weed: “People can follow me on Instagram,” he says, “and if they want weed from me, they just gotta come over and we can just smoke.”

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Canadian Officials Report No Spike in Impaired Driving After Cannabis Legalization

In the lead up to Canada’s world-historic legalization of cannabis on October 17, most public and official debates about the law centered on how to best implement it–not whether legalization was a good idea. But one anti-legalization talking point in particular remained lodged in the national conversation: the concern over a post-legalization spike in drug-impaired driving. And when it became clear that Canada’s legalization of adult-use cannabis was a matter of when, not if, law enforcement officials’ hand-wringing over the issue managed to squeeze hundreds of millions of dollars out of public coffers and into officer training, drug awareness programs, and expensive roadside testing equipment. But a month after legalization went into effect, early data collected by the CBC shows that police have not seen any uptick in instances of cannabis-impaired driving.

Canadian Police Aren’t Seeing the Spike in Cannabis-Impaired Driving They Spent Millions Preparing For

Canadian safety groups’ concerns that legalization would lead to an increase in cannabis-impaired driving are not without reason. Indeed, Canada has the worst drunk-driving record of any wealthy country. 34 percent of all traffic deaths are alcohol-related, and years of public messaging about the dangers of drunk driving have made little impact. But with so little opposition to cannabis, these concerns quickly became exaggerated, pouring massive public investment and energy into a problem that had yet to materialize.

About a year ago, the crusade against the specter of dangerous, drug-addled drivers flooding Canadian highways took an odd turn. R.I.D.E. Checks, a Canadian road safety group, partnered with a marketing firm to create three broadside advertisements for strange cannabis strains. The strange strain names were based on scenarios a cannabis-influenced driver might face, like Kourtroom Kush, Slammer Time!, and White Whiplash.

On the official side of things, Canadian police routinely sounded the alarm about cannabis-impaired driving, saying they didn’t have enough time to train officers to detect cannabis impairment or field test new detection devices. Police even rolled out a new training curriculum focused on cannabis and developed an online course to train officers in the new cannabis laws. Then, in July, the Canadian government announced a $62.5 million, five-year spending package to combat drug-impaired driving. Meanwhile, Canada’s attorney general approved a German-engineered roadside mouth swab drug test that is already facing legal challenges. And before passing the Cannabis Act, lawmakers ratcheted up the penalties for driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs, establishing strict new impaired driving rules.

Most Weed Driving Offenses are for Improper Storage or Passenger Consumption

However, the CBC is reporting that police departments in multiple provinces and territories across Canada have seen no change in the amount of instances of cannabis-impaired driving. Alcohol-impaired driving continues to be the most common reason police arrest impaired drivers.

Furthermore, of the citations for cannabis-related driving offenses departments have issued, most are for improper storage or passenger consumption. Driver impairment, in other words, was not a common reason for cannabis citations.

The data CBC collected breaks down as follows:

  • Police officials in Regina, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island all said there was no significant change in driver behavior after legalization.
  • In Manitoba, Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they’ve issued 3 cannabis-impaired driving charges and 50 alcohol-impaired driving charges since October 17.
  • Vancouver police forces say that most of their 18 cannabis and driving violations were for open containers of weed or passengers who were smoking weed in the vehicle.
  • Toronto is on pace to have a handful more drug-impaired driving incidents compared to 2017’s figure. But Toronto police don’t specify intoxicant in their data.
  • British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and Quebec are all on pace to have lower numbers of drug-impaired driving arrests this year than last.

In short, the amount of drivers getting behind the wheel under the influence of cannabis hasn’t changed significantly after legalization. However, it may be too soon to tell what kind of effect legalization will ultimately have. Driving high is definitely risky behavior. In addition to impairing drivers ability to operate a vehicle safely, driving high is illegal and can lead to serious consequences.

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