Activist Bernardine Dohrn Receives Michael Kennedy Social Justice Award

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been recognizing cannabis legalization advocates from around the country since 1998, as part of their National Conference and Lobby Day in Washington DC.

The Michael J Kennedy Social Justice Award, now in its third year, is part of that tradition.

Named after legendary civil rights and criminal defense attorney  Michael Kennedy, who served as general counsel to High Times from its founding in 1974 until his death in early 2016, the award was established by NORML with the blessing of Kennedy’s wife, Eleanora, and their daughter Anna. 

For those who may not have known Kennedy, chairman of High Times for many years, his daughter Anna introduced him with a short film about his, High Times’, and NORML’s enduring struggle to legalize cannabis.  

In her welcome speech, Eleanora Kennedy told the packed conference hall that her husband had been devoted to NORML and its mission for decades.

“We want to honor those individuals who, like Michael, are working for the legalization of cannabis and advancing the cause of social justice in America,” Kennedy said.

Hence, this year’s choice for the Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award was perfectly appropriate: Bernardine Dohrn, activist, academic, children’s and women’s rights advocate, and former professor at Northwestern University School of Law.

As a national leader of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Weather Underground, Dohrn landed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List from 1970 to 1973 for her general “radical activities.”

Enter Michael Kennedy

Dohrn, who met the Kennedys during the turbulent 1960s, told the NORML audience that Michael Kennedy gave the word “defiant” a new meaning. 

“Kennedy was absolutely committed to his clients, and absolutely contemptuous of the apparatus and trappings of the state when he was in pursuit of justice,” Dohrn said.

Kennedy’s client list included some of the most high profile criminal and civil-rights cases in the second half of the 20th century. He represented LSD guru, Timothy Leary, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, countless anti-war and free speech activists among the Chicago Seven, Black Panther Party co-founder, Huey Newton, and Native American protesters in 1973 at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

He also kept High Times’ founder, Tom Forçade, out of prison on drug-smuggling charges.

“Tom Forçade once famously said there are only two kinds of smugglers: those who need a forklift, and those who don’t. Clearly Forçade needed the forklift, and he needed Michael Kennedy to stay out of jail,” Keith Stroup, a close friend of both men and the founder of NORML, said.

“I’m not sure NORML would have made it all these years without Michael Kennedy, in addition to some much-needed financial support that came from the bales of weed Tom [Forçade] flew into Miami,” Stroup told High Times.

Tom Forçade passed away in November 1978.

Stroup noted that Kennedy and High Times remained true to Forcade’s desire to always support NORML, making the magazine the single largest financial supporter in the organization’s nearly 50-year history.

“In more recent times, as we began to enact legalization measures in more and more states, Kennedy was one of the strongest voices reminding everyone that we must not forget those who are still in prison on marijuana charges,” Stroup said.

Eleanora Kennedy introducing the Michael Kennedy Award; Erick Gibson

Enter Guitarist Tom Morello  

Eleanora Kennedy introduced Tom Morello, co-founder of Rage against the Machine, Audioslave and Prophets of Rage, as living proof of the transformative power of rock & roll.

“Tom has continually pushed the limits of what one man can do with six strings,” she said.

Morello doesn’t dispute that. “Music is political, either supporting the status quo or challenging it.”

Asked by NORML to introduce his close friend Bernardine Dohrn, Morello called her “an almost mythical hero of my youth” who influenced his political consciousness for years to come.

Judging from the crowd’s reaction to Dohrn, Morello was not the only one who felt that way about the woman he called “an unapologetic warrior for social justice.”

“Less talk, more rock.”

“Bernardine Dohrn is punk rock as hell. And the Days of Rage? Where do you think my band got its fucking name?” Morello said.

He said that at the core of Dohrn’s lifetime of work “is the unshakeable notion that everyone, every underdog, deserves to be able to become the person they were meant to be.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently named Morello  2020 Ambassador for their Campaign for Smart Justice, which aims to cut the U.S. prison population in half.

“The next Mozart might be slaving away in a maquiladora [sweat shop] , or the person who has the cure for cancer locked in their head might be locked up for weed possession in Alabama,” Morello told conference attendees, many of whom were already up on their feet.“And now I would like to play a rousing song for all these nice people,” Morello said, then belted out a ferocious version of Flesh Shapes the Day.

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Walmart Announces Plans To Stop Selling E-Cigarettes

The fallout over the spate of vaping-linked deaths continued on Friday, as Walmart announced that it will stop selling e-cigarettes. 

In a memo to local managers, the world’s largest retailer cited “regulatory complexity” and industry “uncertainty” as its reasoning behind the decision.

“Given the growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes, we plan to discontinue the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products at all Walmart and Sam’s Club U.S. locations,” the memo said. “We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”

The move is just the latest bit of blowback for an e-cigarette industry that finds itself under increasing scrutiny for products that have been linked to hundreds of hospitalizations and a disquieting rise in deaths. 

E-cigarettes have long been billed as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, but the sudden uptick in vaping-related illnesses has cast considerable doubt on those claims. 

Walmart’s announcement on Friday represents a significant setback for the vaping industry, which has in recent weeks drawn the attention of the federal government. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a rebuke to the popular e-cigarette company Juul Labs for making unauthorized claims that its product is “much safer than cigarettes” and that its approval from the FDA is imminent. 

““Referring to your [electronic nicotine delivery system, or “ENDS,”] products as ‘99% safer’ than cigarettes, ‘much safer’ than cigarettes, ‘totally safe,’ and ‘a safer alternative than smoking cigarettes’ is particularly concerning because these statements were made directly to children in school,” the FDA said in its letter to Juul Labs. “Our concern is amplified by the epidemic rate of increase in youth use of ENDS products, including JUUL’s products, and evidence that ENDS products contribute to youth use of, and addiction to, nicotine, to which youth are especially vulnerable.”

The company apparently made those claims in presentations to students — underscoring concerns that e-cigarettes have been inappropriately marketed to young people. Those same concerns prompted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week to call for a demand on flavored e-cigarette products, which are viewed as particularly appealing to young people. 

The Trump administration has likewise announced its intention to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes, saying earlier this month that such products would be subject to much more intense regulatory scrutiny.

“We can’t have our kids be so affected,” President Trump said in a press conference earlier this month.

Experts have said that some of the risks posed by e-cigarettes remain unknown, and the cases of those apparently affected continue to be investigated. There are more than 450 cases of vaping-related illnesses that are currently being investigated. On Thursday, the state of Missouri announced that a resident there died from a severe lung illness that was attributed to his vaping use. He was the eighth person in the United States whose death was linked to e-cigarettes. 

It also remains unclear whether there are specific products to blame. Some of the illnesses and deaths have been linked to products containing only nicotine, while others have contained marijuana. It also appears that some of the individuals adversely affected procured their e-cigarettes from street dealers, rather than major retailers like Walmart.

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How to Properly Store Plastic Cannabis Packaging

Your plastic cannabis packaging has a big responsibility. It contains and protects your product, communicates pertinent product information and delivers the first brand impression to your consumers. In order for plastic packaging to fulfill these important roles, you must take care to store and handle it properly.

Following storage condition requirements for plastic bottles helps protect your cannabis product, your company and your customers. It doesn’t matter if your cannabis packaging is HDPE (high density polyethylene), PP (polyethylene) or PET (polyethylene terephthalate), proper storage is imperative to maintain the integrity of the product until you’re ready to fill it.

Bottle and closure storage conditions such as time, temperature and humidity can have an effect on plastic containers. The exposure and age of a sample can also affect shrinkage, impact properties and the stress crack resistance of the container. Not to mention the potential threat of contamination to your cannabis product and the poor impression of your brand in the eyes of your consumers.

You may be wondering how to obtain storage information. The best place to start is with your cannabis packaging partner. Your supplier should be ready and willing to share all vital storage information with you. The best suppliers realize that there is more to a business relationship than just the financial transaction of buying packaging. The first step in proper storage is to identify the type of material that was used to manufacture your bottles and closures.

Know Your Bottle Material Type – HDPE

If you are utilizing HDPE for your cannabis packaging, the storage time should be minimal and a strict first-in-first-out inventory should be maintained. Many end users will re-approve bottles after two or three years to ensure they are damage-free.

In addition, elevated storage temperatures allow plastic containers to further shrink and harsh conditions can actually cause severe distortion. The degree of distortion and shrinkage depends on the design and how the bottles have been stored. Higher storage temperatures also accelerate the aging process of the container. A moderate storage temperature should be provided to safeguard consistent bottle dimensions and properties. It is routinely reported that HDPE bottles can withstand temperatures of 110°F/33°C for brief periods.

Although humidity itself will not degrade the plastic container, a humid environment can have a direct impact on the secondary packaging, such as the cardboard cartons used for shipping. If you use stretch wrap and/or control warehouse conditions, secondary packaging problems can be alleviated.

HDPE bottles and closures should be kept as clean as possible – it is best to leave them in the original sealed cartons. The storage area should be kept clean, dry and dust, odor, insect, and rodent-free. Following this rule will help to build consumer trust in your brand. No one wants to purchase cannabis products in dirty, dusty contaminated packages.

Using PET Bottles?

PET bottles should also be used in a first-in-first-out system to limit the time in storage. Long-term storage should be accomplished using a sealed polyethylene plastic bag or lined drums, totes, bins, Gaylord containers, supersacks or seabulks. The plastic liner will help prevent dust and dirt from entering the bottles.

Elevated storage temperatures (above 100°F/38°C) allow empty PET bottles to shrink, mainly due to relaxation of the oriented and partially oriented regions of the bottle. Extreme temperature conditions (above 131°F/55°C) can cause severe distortion of the amorphous areas of the bottle, including the finish and neck. Moderate storage temperature should be maintained to ensure consistent bottle dimensions and properties.

To help protect PET bottles from contamination, the storage area should be kept clean, dry and dust, odor, insect, and rodent-free. Additionally, the storage area should be approved for food storage. PET bottles should not be stored in direct sunlight, and aromatic materials such as spices, solvents, ink, cleaning supplies and disinfectants should not be stored in the same area.

When empty PET bottles are shipped to or through areas where the outdoor temperature may exceed 90°/32°C, it is recommended that a temperature-controlled container or trailer capable of maintaining a temperature of 80°F/27°C or lower be used.

Polypropylene (PP) Closures

Closures are also an important part of your cannabis packaging. The storage time of unlined closures should be minimized. As with bottles, a strict first-in-first-out inventory should be maintained.

Elevated storage temperatures allow unlined PP closures to further shrink. Harsh conditions can actually cause severe distortion. The degree of distortion and shrinkage depends on the closure design and storage conditions. High storage temperatures accelerate the aging process of the closure; moderate storage temperatures should be provided to ensure consistent closure dimensions and properties. Like HDPE bottles, this type of closure can withstand temperatures of 110°F/43°C for brief periods.

When stored in humid conditions, pay attention to the integrity of the cardboard cartons the closures are stored in. The use of stretch wrap and/or controlling warehouse conditions will help alleviate damage to the cardboard. Just like their bottle counterparts, PP unlined closures should be kept as clean as possible and it is best to store in original sealed cartons.

Proper Storage Supports Your Bottom Line

Storing plastic bottles improperly can reduce the integrity of the plastic, therefore making it unsuitable to contain your cannabis product. Poor storage can also be detrimental to filling lines and cause production problems, which can result in reduced efficiencies and added costs.

Product recalls can also be a by-product of poor storage due to increased chances of product contamination. If plastic bottles and closures are not properly stored before using, distortion and shrinkage can damage the bottle labels used to identify your product. Shrinkage of your plastic closures result in a poor sealing surface which is detrimental to the freshness of your cannabis product. All of these side-effects can be very damaging to your brand image, from which it’s hard to recover. Consumers will lose confidence in your brand – leading to reduced profits for your bottom line.

Whether your cannabis business is in the early start-up stages or established with loyal customers, properly storing your plastic packaging will help protect your brand, decrease the risk of product recalls and increase your profitability.

The post How to Properly Store Plastic Cannabis Packaging appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.

Missouri Health Officials Announce State’s First Vaping-Related Death

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man in his mid-40s who died at a St. Louis hospital succumbed to a vaping-related illness, Missouri health officials announced Thursday.

The Missouri man is the state’s first death related to an outbreak of lung disease linked to e-cigarettes or other vaping-related devices, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said. Eight vaping-related deaths have been recorded in the U.S.

The man, whose name was
not released, had normal lung function before he started using
e-cigarettes in May. He developed respiratory problems and was
hospitalized Aug. 22 before being transferred on Sept. 4 to Mercy St.
Louis, where he died this week, the health department said in a news
release. Lung samples taken from the patient determined the death was
related to vaping.

“We are sad to report that
this illness associated with vaping has now resulted in a death in
Missouri and extend our condolences to his family,” Dr. Randall
Williams, health department director, said in the release. “As
previously stated, we encourage Missourians to follow the CDC guidance
to refrain from using e-cigarette products if you are concerned about
these specific health risks, especially while the investigation is
ongoing.”

The health department said since it
began requiring physicians to report possible vaping-associated
pulmonary illnesses in late August, it has received 22 reports. Seven of
the cases, including the first death, have been confirmed and nine are
still being investigated. Six other cases did not meet definitions
provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said Thursday 530 confirmed and probable cases of vaping-related illnesses have been reported in 38 states and one U.S. territory, up from 380 a week ago.

The
Missouri man began vaping because of chronic pain issues, said Dr.
Michael Plisco, a critical care pulmonologist and medical director of
Mercy St. Louis’ extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program. He
developed shortness of breath that deteriorated and developed into acute
respiratory distress syndrome. He was placed on a machine called
venoarterial ECMO to support his heart and rest his lungs.

He told his family members that he was vaping, but they didn’t know the details of what he was using, Plisco said.

“Unfortunately,
at the time he started, he didn’t know the dangers of vaping, so he
continued to use the instrument that was potentially causing his
shortness of breath and other problems,” Plisco said.

Plisco
said doctors hoped putting the man on the machine on Sept. 5 would
allow his lungs to heal, but he continued to get worse. After 13 days,
“his body proved it couldn’t recover” and he was removed from the
machine, Plisco added.

The man died shortly after midnight Wednesday.

The post Missouri Health Officials Announce State’s First Vaping-Related Death appeared first on High Times.

Flashback Friday: Secrets of Area 51

An August, 1995 feature in High Times explored the mysterious Area 51.


Glenn Campbell stands atop a remote ridge in the desert of south-central Nevada. He peers through a high-powered telescope at a vast, dry lake bed in the distance below.

Through waves of heat distortion, Campbell’s telescope picks up an airfield. There are several large hangars, radar dishes, scattered warehouse-sized buildings, five 747s and what is believed to be the longest runway in the world.

To get to his remote perch, Campbell evaded electronic road sensors, which detect vehicles driving up to the ridge. He snuck by a Blackhawk helicopter and was followed by men in unmarked white jeeps who trained high-powered telephoto video cameras on his every move.

To Campbell, it’s all in a day’s work. A self-described “anti-PR person” who agitates against government secrecy, Campbell hopes to unveil the mysteries behind this distant airstrip, nestled just inside a restricted Air Force bombing range north of Las Vegas.

The 35-year-old retired software designer has authored a guide on how to outwit Air Force countersurveillance. Among his weapons is a portable radio scanner that picks up communications between the control tower and pilots. The pocket gizmo crackles with garbled aerospeak: altimeter readings, bearings, wind direction. “…Wind is out of the northwest, Watchdog is in effect.”

“The tower referred to Watchdog,” Campbell notes with glee. “That means they know there’s someone up here on the ridge, watching the airfield. All pilots going in and out of the base have to know they’re being watched.”

For 40 years, the dehydrated alkali basin known as Groom Lake has been the key test site for the war machine’s most secret airborne weapons. In this forgotten corner, the CIA and Air Force tested their most sensitive planes—from the U-2 spy plane, first flown over the USSR in the ’50s, to the F-117 “stealth” fighter, unveiled in the invasion of Panama.

But if you believe the official government line, there’s nothing to see in this barren lakebed. Though the Air Force occasionally admits there’s an “operation location in the area,” everything that happens at the base—even its name and the fact that it exists—is classified. Officially, everything Campbell sees through the desert haze is strictly a mirage.

But some, like Campbell, who hike to this remote hilltop see it differently. They call their scruffy knoll of sagebrush and Joshua trees “Freedom Ridge,” because it lies on public land outside the restricted bombing range and boasts a perfectly legal view of the secret base. To them, Groom Lake has become a symbol of excessive and outdated government paranoia.

“It’s fundamental that democracy is an open institution,” says Campbell. “The military is the only branch of government permitted to keep things secret.”

The Dreamland Nightmare

In the lore of “black budget” operations—tales pieced together from government sources, former workers and military contractors—this somewhat unspectacular airfield is unofficially dubbed “Dreamland,” or “Paradise Ranch.” Officially, the activists and conspiracy theorists obsessed with the mysterious base believe, it is called Area 51. The secrecy around it has bred amazing stories—such as the rumor that the Air Force is hiding alien UFOs at the base.

Behind closed doors, brass and fighter jocks are afforded lavish dining, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, X-rated movies and several bars. The facility also gives test pilots and engineers total freedom to tweak the Pentagon’s most futuristic warfare technology.

But all is not well in Dreamland.

As the Air Force moved to restrict public access to the land around Campbell’s perch, military buffs, journalists and UFO watchers flocked to the ridge to get a last glimpse of Groom Lake. The increased attention has made a mockery of military secrecy as the facility becomes, in Campbell’s words, “the most popular secret Air Force base in the world.”

And if the spotlight weren’t enough, Groom Lake is now perched atop a long list of scandals—including the Aldrich Ames spy case— that have tarnished the cloak-and-dagger crowd in recent years.

Two lawsuits filed by former workers at the facility allege that the Air Force used the veil of secrecy to cover up environmental crimes. According to the suits, the Air Force trucked toxic waste to the base, where workers were told to burn the materials in open pits and trenches the size of football fields.

“The military and its contractors would load up trenches and fill them with 55-gallon drums,” says Jonathan Turley, an attorney for the workers. “The drums would then be covered with paper and other materials, doused with jet fuel and lit with a flare or torch.”

The suits name the Defense Department, the Air Force and the National Security Agency as allowing the burning to continue. And it blames the Environmental Protection Agency for not monitoring the secret base. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requires the EPA to inventory toxic waste at federal facilities.

“It really is Dreamland,” notes Turley, who works for the Washington-based Environmental Crimes Project. “What corporation doesn’t dream of a place to dump its waste completely outside the purview of civil law?”

Because the plaintiffs swore secrecy when they began working al Groom Lake, they fear recrimination. A federal judge, therefore, has allowed the workers to sue as “John Does,” so the government can’t learn their identities. The threat of Leavenworth kept workers silent for years and made medical care near impossible.

“The first problem was, when he went to the doctor, he couldn’t say where he worked or what he might have been exposed to,” recalls Helen Frost, referring to her late husband, Robert, who she believes died from exposure to the burning.

Robert Frost was a sheet-metal worker at the secret facility for 10 years. “Then one day, he came home screaming,” his widow says. “His face was burning, his eyes were burning and he ran to the bathroom and was pouring water on his face, which was bright red and swollen up like a basketball.”

Then Robert Frost got three-inch sores on his back and eventually became too weak to walk, says Helen Frost. A year later, in 1989, he died of cirrhosis of the liver. By that time, a sample of his tissue had been sent to Dr. Peter Kahn, a biochemist at Rutgers University and a former member of the Agent Orange Commission.

Kahn found high levels of lethal toxins in Frost’s fatty tissue. Those chemicals, Kahn said, likely worsened his liver ailment and hastened his death. As to where the toxins came from, Kahn wrote: “Continued exposure to the smoke from the incineration of these materials could result in above-normal levels of dioxins and dibenzofurans found in the tissue samples of Robert Frost.”

Enraged by the government’s refusal to take responsibility for her husband’s death, Helen Frost began a one-woman crusade. “They’re murdering people out there, and I want it to stop,” she says.

For its part, the Air Force refuses to comment on the lawsuit, only giving the sketchiest admission that a facility even exists at Groom Lake—a restricted bombing area known as the Nellis Air Force Gunnery Range. “There is an operating location near Groom Dry Lake,” an Air Force spokesperson reads from a script. “Some specific activities and operations conducted on the Nellis Range remain classified and can’t be discussed.”

The Pentagon has tried and failed to use the military and state-secrets privilege to get the workers’ case thrown out of court. Meanwhile, EPA lawyers will also not comment, except to point out that the agency has, since the lawsuit, inventoried the Groom Lake facility.

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Closet

If the allegations are true, then all the secrecy surrounding Groom Lake may have more to do with covering asses than protecting national security. First used as a weapon to outpace the Soviets, secrecy has become a tool to cut costs as regulators and citizens become more aware of the dangers of toxic waste.

Critics of closed-door government, meanwhile, have added the Groom Lake debacle to their list of “black budget” misdeeds that prove the government can’t be trusted with secrecy. The Aldrich Ames spy case revealed gross neglect within the CIA. The National Reconnaissance Office, which develops the government’s spy satellites, erected a $300 million building inside the Washington Beltway without the go-ahead of congressional overseers.

Critics say these episodes prove that intelligence oversight by civilians is lax at best. They say the Pentagon should declassify thousands of Cold War secrets, just as the Energy Department recently fessed up about human radiation experiments.

“If you believe, as I do, that there may be some legitimate secrets worth protecting, then the credibility of the classification system is extremely important,” says Steve Aftergood, who runs a government-secrecy project for the Federation of American Scientists in Washington. “But if the system is seen as arbitrary, that it’s used to cover up crimes, then people will lose faith. The technology they’re working on out at Groom Lake may be sensitive; the fact that there’s a facility out there somewhere isn’t.” Aftergood adds that how much the government spends on secret weapons programs should be public.

Usually, the total amount of the intelligence budget—believed to be roughly $38 billion—is a state secret. Last year, however, the House defense appropriations subcommittee mistakenly published the 1995 budget requests for the CIA and various Defense Department intelligence programs. In a nutshell, here it is:

  • The total Pentagon request tor what’s called command, control, communication and intelligence (C3I) programs was $50.6 billion. This included $14.9 billion for the command, control and communication bit, $2 billion for security activities and an estimated $5 billion for information technology programs. Originally designed to coordinate nuclear weapons, the C3I system is increasingly being used to track drug smugglers.
  • The DOD also requested $16.3 billion for the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP). This doesn’t count several billion thrown into NFIP via the DEA, the FBI and the State, Treasury and Energy departments.
  • For tactical intelligence and related activities, the Pentagon asked for $10.4 billion. The budget request for the CIA was $3.1 billion.

What you don’t know…

Though the congressional goof sheds some light, it gives taxpayers little insight into what’s being done with their dough. Is it funding weapons programs now being tested in Western deserts? Is it spent on overseas intelligence gathering or covert operations? Satellites or stealth spy planes? All of the above?

One thing is clear: In the absence of a single global bogeyman like the USSR, there’s considerable debate as to whether or not continued secrecy is good, even for national security.

In his book Skunk Works, the former head of Lockheed’s elite production group, called the Skunk Works, argues that secrecy did ease development of the F-117 fighter. As it was designed to thwart Soviet radar, the element of surprise was crucial, he says.

However, even Rich is far from dogmatic: “I would strongly advocate reviews every two years of existing so-called black programs, either to declassify them or eliminate them entirely.”

Throughout the book, Rich complains of draconian secrecy provisions, of government inspectors sifting through garbage looking for mistakenly discarded secrets. Blueprints and even coffee mugs with pictures of secret planes had to be locked inside safes each night. When Rich was a Skunk Works rookie, he invented a urine tube that wouldn’t freeze to a pilot’s pecker at freezing-cold high altitudes. The gizmo was classified top-secret. Classification is time-consuming and drives up costs, Rich laments, adding that “once a program is classified, it takes an act of God to declassify it.”

…Can Cost You

Indeed, excessive Cold War secrecy is partly to blame for some of the most expensive defense boondoggles of the century. During the Reagan years, for example, reigning doctrine made openness with Congress nearly synonymous with advertising state secrets in Pravda.

In the mid-’80s, for example, government investigators discovered that military officials misled Congress about the costs, performance and the necessity of many of the most expensive weapons systems built for nuclear war against the Soviet Union.

In fact, the General Accounting Office concluded that Congress decided to spend $350 billion on new nuclear-weapons systems, including the B-1B and B-2 stealth bombers, partly on the basis of inflated assessments, inaccurate testimony and misleading reports, according to The New York Times.

To take one example, the Air Force told Congress that a B-1B’s radar cross-section (the amount of radar energy an aircraft reflects) was 1/100 that of a B-52, a statement later determined to be false. The correct figure remains secret.

And though the B-1 is now touted as an effective bomber, it was plagued for years by cost overruns, delays and technical problems that cost taxpayers billions and kept the fleet grounded for two years after the planes were introduced.

Then there was the ill-fated A-12. Designers of this super-secret Navy attack plane spent billions before top brass realized it was flawed. Because of secrecy provisions, government auditors and even high-ranking officials were kept in the dark long after the program was internally shot down. Realizing this, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney angrily canceled the program.

Flashback Friday: Secrets of Area 51
What Lies Beyond?/ Courtesy Glenn Campbell

See no evil…

Proponents of continued classification and big intelligence budgets say the Skunk Works and Groom Lake kept America ahead in the Cold War. But why all this secrecy in the post-Cold War world?

Established by the CIA in the 1950s to develop the U-2, Groom Lake has been the testing ground for a series of Skunk Works projects. The next big Cold War weapon to roll down its runway was the SR-71 Blackbird. Skunk Works engineers designed the Blackbird to travel three times the speed of sound and reach 90,000 feet, to outpace enemy jets and ground-to-air missiles. Perhaps the most famous plane to graduate from Groom Lakes hangars, however, is the F-117.

What is the Air Force up to now? Some of the military-hardware hounds say the blue-suiters are now developing a line of supersonic reconnaissance aircraft—a successor to the SR-71. A videographer in New Mexico may have captured just that—the grainy image of a batlike black plane being called the Black Manta, or TR-3A tactical reconnaissance spy plane.

Since then, Popular Science has reported sightings of a new supersonic attack plane being called the A-17, which also employs stealth technology. Still others say the Air Force uses Groom Lake to take apart and test stolen enemy—and ally—aircraft in an attempt to dissect their secrets. And, of course, the rumors persist of alien spacecraft.

Stealth-seekers throughout the Southwest have spotted odd contrails in the sky: donut-shaped smoke rings on a rope of white smoke. Some think the Air Force has built a hypersonic spy plane that can travel at six times the speed of sound. The alleged craft accelerates using a series of explosions. It’s called “Aurora.”

Many are skeptical. “There’s the general impression that in the black world, they can work miracles,” says Aftergood. “But I don’t believe that’s true in this case. Traveling at six times the speed of sound places extreme thermal stress on the outer surface of the airplane. It gets incredibly hot, and the development of suitable materials to withstand that kind of heat has not been done.”

Defense Secretary William Perry has flat-out denied the Aurora story, and Ben Rich is also incredulous. Rich says the rumor started when a young colonel at the Pentagon used “Aurora” as code in the defense budget for the B-2 bomber. “Somehow this name leaked out during congressional appropriations hearings,” Rich writes. “The media picked up the Aurora item in the budget and the rumor surfaced that it was a top-secret project assigned to the Skunk Works—to build America’s first hypersonic air plane.”

Rich is dubious about manned hypersonic planes, but he’s long advocated missile-like drones, which could be launched from bombers and fly much faster, farther and higher than manned flights. At this point, this much is known: The Pentagon is pursuing spy drones, but it’s focusing on stealth and endurance, not speed.

The DOD’s Advanced Research Projects Agency has requested bids for a high-altitude endurance unmanned air vehicle. There are two planes in the scheme. Tier II would soar at 65,000 feet nonstop for 30 hours. The second, Tier Ill-minus, is a smaller, stealthier version. The planes would feed real-time battlefield information back to command posts. Five rival designs were submitted for Tier II, while Boeing and Lockheed are developing Tier III.

Rich also forecasts remote control and robotics as the future of warfare, as the public and politicians get more squeamish about American casualties. Rich also sees a future in technologies to disable enemy armies without killing them: a piercing wall of sound that would stop advancing armies, lasers that would cause temporary blindness…

…Hear No Evil

But even if the Air Force is using Groom Lake to develop the Aurora or some high-tech stereo system that curdles the milk in the teats of cattle, is all the secrecy necessary? After all, photos of Area 51 are widely available—even Russian satellite photos. And under the “open skies” treaty, ratified by Congress and signed by George Bush, even former Warsaw Pact nations now fly over the facility and snap away.

“So it’s a secret only to the American public,” Aftergood notes.

But all this just makes the Air Force more determined. On the road to Freedom Ridge, for example, hikers eventually meet a row of fence poles and a sign that reads: “Warning. Restricted Area. Use of Deadly Force Authorized. Photography is Prohibited.”

And the lid is only getting tighter. In April the Air Force seized roughly 4,000 acres of public land, including Freedom Ridge, where views of the base are clearest. Though there are dozens of military ranges—even bombing ranges—that lack even the most basic warning signs, the Air Force says it needs the additional land around Groom Lake as a safety buffer. No bombs are dropped within 50 miles of the ridge, but the Air Force says it needs to “insure public safety.”

This statement from an Interior Department document, however, is perhaps more on target: “Public viewing of military activities (which has often included illegal photography of range activities) has increased during the past few years, necessitating the diversion, postponement or cancellation of missions.”

Others sense a more sinister scheme. “I think the Air Force wants more land so it can continue the burning of toxic wastes without people looking in from Freedom Ridge,” says Danielle Brian, who directs the Project on Government Oversight in Washington.

Freedom Ridge fans are skeptical of the military’s motives for good reason. In 1984, the Air Force seized its first buffer zone around the base in order to pull Bald Mountain, then a prime (though rarely used) viewing location, from the public domain. The Air Force took no legal steps to obtain control of the land it wanted. It simply set up a guard shack adorned with a sign: “Warning. US Government Property. No Trespassing Allowed. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Even those who ran cattle and were working mining claims on the land were turned away by heavily armed guards. “Many people equate this to an armed invasion by our own military,” says Glenn Campbell.

At first, the Air Force denied it had anything to do with the guards. Only later, after it officially applied for the land, did an Air Force spokesperson admit his employer had illegally seized the land. “We had no legal authority, but we asserted the right to request that people not enter,” the spokesman told Congress.

But even that hearing would not have occurred if legislators hadn’t noticed that the Air Force had quietly slipped an additional 4,680 acres into its routine request for reauthorization for the Nellis Air Force Gunnery Range. Despite the foul play, Congress ultimately approved the 1984 land-grab, and Bald Mountain is now well within the restricted area.

But what concerns Campbell is that the Air Force is not doing the job right. “They forgot Tikaboo Peak, where you’ll still be able to see the base, although from further away,” he says.

Many speculate that the Air Force isn’t taking the more distant peak because if it did, the total expansion would exceed 5,000 acres. Under federal law, all expansions over 5,000 acres require congressional approval. “And there’s nothing more terrifying to the military than having to deal directly with Congress,” Campbell notes.

In its final days, Freedom Ridge became more popular than ever with tourists who came from as far away as Australia to get a last glimpse. The Swiss Mountain Bat, a self-described UFO- and aero-nut, traveled from Switzerland. “I felt like I was standing next to the Berlin Wall in the ’60s,” he said. “You’re standing there on this beautiful mountain and all of a sudden, there’s this white jeep and two guys watching you with huge binoculars. It’s creepy.”

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20 Trending Strains

As cannabis breeding evolves, so do the tastes of its consumers. Aside from a few staple strains, you can expect to see a mostly new set of names on the menus of dispensaries and delivery services every year. In fact, you may have noticed the strains you cherished just a couple of years ago are nowhere to be found today. The classics of their time—like Sour Diesel, OG Kush, and Blue Dream—have survived, but they’re not as sought after as they once were. After analyzing data on the strains you searched for, requested and/or contacted us about, we compiled a list of the top 20 varieties that have you talking. These are the top trending strains of the year.

Do-Si-Dos

Do-Si-Dos is another child of the original Cookies strain. It’s a cross of Girl Scout Cookies and Face Off OG. The strain has picked up in popularity since the Archive Seed Bank bred it in 2016. Do-Si-Dos is an indica-dominant hybrid that tastes like its parent Cookies strain with hints of pine and citrus from the Face Off OG lineage.

Cherry Punch

Bred by Symbiotic Genetics before making the rounds into other popular cultivars, Cherry Punch is a cross of Cherry AK-47 and Purple Punch F2. It’s great for an uplifting and fruit-flavored smoke.

Garlic Cookies a.k.a. GMO

Despite having “Cookies” in its name, Garlic Cookies, or GMO, is one of the only strains on this list without a sweet aroma. This strain reeks of garlic and gas. Its presence here is proof that the once-popular loud, gassy strains have not been entirely left in the past. SkunkMasterFlex of Skunkhouse Genetics created the strain with a seed, labeled “Chem D x GSC,” bred by Mamiko Seeds. According to SkunkMasterFlex, the name “GMO” came after the revelation that GMOs were used in the cookies from the Girl Scouts of America. It also hints at how the strain grows as if it were genetically modified.

Apple Fritter

Apple Fritter is a cross between Sour Apple (Sour Diesel x Cinderella 99) and Animal Cookies (GSC x Fire OG) bred by Lumpy Seeds. While it made our list of the Strongest Strains of 2016 and scored high in flavor and aroma with our judges at the 2016 Northern California Cannabis Cup, searches for this strain only began to peak late last year. THC percentages on Apple Fritter reach well over 20 percent, and the strain features a prominent and enjoyable flavor profile.

Biscotti

Biscotti is a cross of Gelato #25 and South Florida OG (a.k.a. Triangle Kush). This strain is one of the many original varieties brought to us by Cookie Family Genetics. Like most strains from the Cookie Fam, Biscotti is an indica-dominant strain. This tasty variety is named after the Italian almond biscuits with the same appellation.

Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden Fruit is a mix of two classic fruit-flavored strains: Tangie, by DNA Genetics, and Cherry Pie, by the Cookie Fam. The smell of musky oranges dominates the aroma of Forbidden Fruit with hints of sweet cherry in the mix. Forbidden Fruit can also be quite visually pleasing. Many batches display more purple coloring than green and contain plenty of frost.

Miracle Alien Cookies (MAC)

Miracle Alien Cookies is the result of several years of breeding from the popular breeder Capulator. He crossed Alien Cookies F2 #7 and Miracle 15. Alien Cookies F2 was bred by JAWS Genetics, and Miracle 15 is a cross between Colombian seeds and the Starfighter strain bred by Alien Genetics. Despite being around for years, searches for the strain are still trending, and people are waiting in line for hours at cannabis events to purchase the latest MAC crosses directly from Capulator.

Ice Cream Cake

Ice Cream Cake is one of the latest dessert-themed strains to gain hype status. There are multiple strains going by this name, but the one generating the most buzz is the Wedding Cake x Gelato #33 cross bred by Seed Junky Genetics. The strain grows a frosty coat of trichomes and has a creamy vanilla aroma and flavor when smoked.

London Pound Cake

London Pound Cake is one of the latest hits from Cookie Family Genetics’ roster of original pastry-themed strains. It is said to be a cross between Nip OG and Cookie Fam’s Sunset Sherbet. The early success of London Pound Cake has already led breeders to cross it with other popular Cookies strains. In fact, a new cross between London Pound Cake and Gelato named Candy Rain is already trending in its own right.

Slurricane

Slurricane is a cross between Do-Si-Dos and Purple Punch bred by In House Genetics. A berry aroma dominates from the Purple Punch lineage with notes of something earthier from the Do-Si-Dos parent. The strain is popular thanks to its high THC levels and fruity flavor.

Mimosa

Mimosa is a sativa-dominant hybrid with one of the tangiest orange flavors you can find in a cannabis plant. The citrus strain would complement brunch better than any alcoholic beverage. Since last year, the child of Clementine and Purple Punch bred by Symbiotic Genetics has been exploding in popularity with famed cultivators like the Jungle Boys bringing it into full production.

Purple Punch

Purple Punch is a delicious cross of Grand-daddy Purple and Larry OG bred by Supernova Gardens. It’s considered by some to be the new Blue Dream. This is in reference to the hype Blue Dream has generated since it rose to prominence nearly half a decade ago. Since 2014, Blue Dream has been one of the best-selling strains in most states with legal marijuana, according to BDS Analytics.

Runtz

Runtz is at the top of all recent strain searches. It’s a cross between Zkittlez and Gelato—two strains that have been trending over the last year or so. Runtz was made popular by rapper and co-owner of the Runtz cannabis brand Yung LB. The strain got its name from the colorful buds and sweet candy-like flavor users have reported. There is a White Runtz phenotype that has also been highly searched for.

Melonade

Melonade has been skyrocketing in popularity since Alien Labs used it to take home the trophy for first place sativa at the last Central Valley Cannabis Cup. The strain was originally bred by Midwest Best before Alien Labs germinated dozens of the Watermelon Zkittlez x Lemon Tree #11 seeds to find a watermelon-dominant phenotype.

Sundae Driver

Sundae Driver is a hit strain bred by Cannarado Genetics, produced by crossing Fruity Pebbles and Grape Pie. The Jungle Boys were one of the first to bring the strain into full production. They settled on Sundae Driver #12 after popping and testing 500 different phenotypes of the strain.

Watermelon Zkittlez

Watermelon Zkittlez is one of several new crosses of the popular Zkittlez strain. The Watermelon variety is a refreshing twist on the already fruit-flavored Zkittlez. The original was brought to us by the award-winning breeders at Terp Hogz, and its Watermelon cross was bred by Dying Breed Seeds.

Gushers

Gushers was bred by Kush4Breakfast using the Gelato #41 strain, from Cookie Family Genetics, and Triangle Kush, which was bred in Florida. This fruity, flavorful strain packs a surprising punch.

Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake (or Birthday Cake) is a cross of two popular Cookies strains: the original Cookies and Cherry Pie. The Cherry Pie adds sweet and creamy undertones to the earthy floral aroma from the original Cookies parent. The indica-dominant cross, bred by Seed Junky Genetics, won first place indica flower at the last High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. Now the strain is being crossed to make new flavors that are just as popular.

Smarties

Smarties is another candy-themed original bred by Kush4Breakfast. It was made by crossing Blue City Diesel into the original Cookies strain. Smarties is covered in a blanket of trichomes and, like the candy, it’s multicolored.

Zookies

Zookies was originally bred by Alien Labs and pheno-hunted by Cannaman 707/Golden State Cultivators. This is one of the rare strains with a Z in the name that contains zero Zkittlez in the lineage. The key to understanding the moniker lies in the “Zoo”—its parents are Gorilla Glue #4 and Animal Cookies.

The trending strains of today could be forgotten tomorrow. Fortunately, many classics return in the form of new crosses. In fact, one strain that had a strong influence on this list is the original Cookies (GSC). It plays a part in the lineage of about half of the top 20 trending strains of today. Years ago, gassy strains like OG Kush and Sour Diesel were the most sought after. Today’s cannabis consumers appear to prefer sweeter strains or crosses that blend gas and fruit.


This feature was published in the May, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

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Beto O’Rourke Would Use Marijuana Taxes To Help Expunge Possession Convictions

On Thursday, Beto O’Rourke updated his campaign platform’s position on cannabis with specific, targeted proposals addressing legalization, taxation and social justice. As a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, O’Rourke has continued his long-standing fight to end the prohibition of cannabis. On the campaign trail, O’Rourke has called for federal cannabis legalization as part of a wide-ranging package of criminal justice reforms. Now, we have a clearer picture of exactly what he has in mind.

Beto O’Rourke Proposes “Drug War Justice Grants” for Formerly Incarcerated People

Much of Beto O’Rourke’s cannabis platform resembles other candidates’ proposals to federally legalize cannabis. O’Rourke’s plan would apply a federal tax on the marijuana industry, open up access to banks and financial services, work to elevate minority-owned cannabis businesses and invest in rebuilding lives and communities shattered by the drug war.

But it’s Beto’s plan for “Drug War Justice Grants” that distinguishes his proposal from the pack. Under O’Rourke’s plan, a federal marijuana tax would fund grants to help expunge possession convictions, support re-entry programs and directly provide money to those formerly incarcerated for marijuana offenses in state and federal prisons. Federal marijuana tax revenue would also assist those who have been locked out of opportunity due to marijuana crimes with obtaining housing and finding jobs.

“We need to not only end the prohibition on marijuana, but also repair the damage done to the communities of color disproportionately locked up in our criminal justice system or locked out of opportunity because of the War on Drugs,” O’Rourke said in a statement announcing his cannabis legalization plan.

Drug War Justice Grants would be available for different lengths of time, depending on how long a person was in prison. The grants would take the form of a monthly stipend, given to repay people who served time for nonviolent marijuana convictions. Grants would also assist formerly incarcerated people who want to work or start a business in the legal cannabis industry.

O’Rourke’s Plan Would Release Those Currently Serving Time and Block Deportations

Beyond using a federal marijuana tax to support efforts to redress the ongoing harms of the war on drugs, O’Rourke’s cannabis legalization proposal would also take steps to protect undocumented people and those currently behind bars. Speaking with Fox News, O’Rourke’s campaign said it had already identified more than 11,000 people locked up in federal prison for nonviolent marijuana offenses who would be eligible for clemency under the plan.

Furthermore, O’Rourke’s plan would block the use of any marijuana-related offenses as grounds to deport undocumented people in the United States. Throughout his political career in El Paso, Texas, O’Rourke has been especially sensitive to the ways federal drug policy impacts the border and immigration policy. In 2011, O’Rourke co-authored Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico, a book which advocated for cannabis legalization as a means to reduce violence.

The O’Rourke campaign got a bump among the crowded Democratic field thanks to the candidate’s call for a ban on assault weapons. Now, O’Rourke is using the renewed attention toward his campaign to foreground his criminal justice proposals. In additional to legalizing cannabis and expunging nonviolent marijuana charges, O’Rourke wants to end cash bail, mandatory minimums, private and for-profit prisons and support public defenders.

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The Stress of a Grower

Tell me that you can’t relate to this story.

You’re sitting down to dinner at a restaurant about ten minutes from where you work, finally relaxing after a tough day. You’ve set your environmental alerts on your plants; you have that peace of mind that the technology promised and you know that if anything goes wrong you’ll get notified immediately. As you’re looking at the menu, you receive an alert telling you that the temperature in one of your 2,000 square foot grow rooms has gone out of the safe range. Your mind starts to race, “It’s week seven, I’ve got 500 plants one week away from harvest, that’s 200 pounds of cannabis worth about $150,000-$200,000. Oh my God, what am I going to do?”

You’re doing all this at the dinner table and even though you’re not in a state of panic, you are extremely concerned. You need to figure out what’s going on. You check the graphing and see that over the past hour your humidity dropped and your temperature is gradually going up. Within the past ten minutes, the temperature has gone to 90 degrees. Your numbers tell you that the temperature in the room with $200,000 of cannabis is going up about five degrees every three minutes.

adamJgrow
Monitoring a large grow room can be a stressful task.

“I see this trend and can’t figure it out,” the grower relates. “Normally, the HVAC kicks on and I’d begin to see a downward trend on the graphs. I pre-set my trigger for 90 degrees. But, I’m not seeing that. What I AM seeing is the temperature gradually and consistently getting warmer without the bounce-back that I would expect once the HVAC trigger was hit. All I know is I better find out what’s causing all this and I better find out fast or my entire crop is gone.”

You go through the rest of the checklist from LUNA and you see that the lights are still on. Now, you’re starting to sweat because if the temperature in that room hits 130 and stays there for more than twenty minutes, you’re losing your entire crop. You have to walk in your boss’s office the next day and explain why, after all the time and money you put in over the past seven weeks, not only is all that money gone but so is the $200,000 he is counting on to pay salaries, expenses, and bank loans.

This is something you’ve been working on for seven straight weeks and if you don’t make the right decision, really quickly, when that room hits 130 degrees here’s what happens.

“My equipment starts to fail,” our grower continues. “The crop literally burns as the oils dry up and the crop is worthless. At 130 degrees, my grow lights essentially start to melt. All you can think of is that temperature going up five degrees every three minutes and you’re ten minutes from your facility. I need to leave that restaurant right now, immediately, because even if I get there in ten minutes the temperature is going to be almost 120 degrees while I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what’s wrong.”

You run out to your car and you speed back to the facility. The grow room is now 125 degrees, you have maybe three or four minutes left to figure things out before you flush $200,000 down the drain. The first thing you do is turn off the grow lights because that’s your primary source of heat. Then, you check your HVAC panel and you realize it malfunctioned and shorted out. There’s the problem.

The real toll is the human cost. Once this happens, no grower ever wants to leave and go home or even go to dinner. It’s a horrible toll. It’s the hidden cost we don’t talk about. The grower opens up with his own personal experience.“This system allows the grower to step back and still feel confident because you’re not leaving your facility to another person,” 

“You think about the burden on the person that you bring in to replace you while you’re out of town and then you think about the burden on you if something goes wrong again. And you decide, it’s not worth it. The anxiety, the fear that it will happen again, it’s not worth it. So, you don’t go. I didn’t even see my sister’s new baby for eight months.”

Your desire to see your family, your desire to have a normal life; all of that goes out the window because of your desire to be successful in your job. It outweighs everything.

This is every grower. It’s why many farmers never leave their property. It just becomes a normal way of living. You just repeat it so much that you don’t even think about it. Why go on vacation if your stress level is higher than it is if you’re home. You’re constantly worried about your farm or your facility. The only way to escape it is to not go away at all.

“This system allows the grower to step back and still feel confident because you’re not leaving your facility to another person,” he tells us. “You don’t realize how stressful a lifestyle you live is until you step back and look at it. Or, if you have an alert system that allows you to pull back. That’s when you realize how difficult your life is. Otherwise, it just seems normal.”

As AI technology expands its footprint into agriculture, there will be more tools to help mediate situations like this; more tools to give you a more normal life. It’s one of the reasons we got into the business in the first place.

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Tuesday, September 24th is National Voter Registration Day

In an interview with HeadCount back in 2012, Bob Weir, founding member of the Grateful Dead, discussed the importance of registering to vote. “Just register, study up and vote. It’s your future. Don’t let people take that from you,” says Weir. “Cause in years to come you’ll be wishing you had.”

Tuesday, September 24th is National Voter Registration Day and we want to remind our readers to register to vote. If you subscribe to our newsletter, read our articles, news stories, columns and features, then chances are that you support legal cannabis. If you are supportive of legal cannabis, then you should consider voting for candidates that support the same cause. Cannabis legalization is about more than just creating a legal marketplace; it’s about social justice, equality, civil rights and more. If you can heal the symptoms, but not affect the cause, it’s quite a bit like trying to heal a gunshot wound with gauze.

Bob Weir, founding member of the Grateful Dead
Image: jgullo, Flickr

The 2020 election is approaching faster than you think and choosing candidates that support legal cannabis is a quick and easy way to help. We really like what the Cannabis Voter Project (CVP) is up to. CVP is a nonprofit initiative started by HeadCount, an organization that promotes voter registration and participation in democracy through the power of music. This past summer, CVP went on tour with Dead & Co., engaging with concertgoers about registering to vote. Headcount has helped about 600,000 people register to vote so far. Bob Weir sits on their board of directors. Bands like Phish, Jay-Z, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam have also helped get the word out about registering to vote as a part of HeadCount’s campaign.

You can register to vote by or check your voter registration status by clicking here.You can also text CANNA to 40649 to contact your lawmakers and ask where they stand on cannabis. Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right. At the CVP’s website, you can check out their database of congress, organized state-by-state, with each members’ stance on cannabis.

Their advisory board features cannabis companies like CannaCraft, Terrapin Care Station, Harvest, Sal Pace Consulting and 1906. They went on tour with funk band Lettuce to educate the band’s fans about what’s going on with cannabis policy in their state and how they can use their vote to impact cannabis policy.

Cannabis is a bipartisan issue. The cannabis voting bloc is bigger than you think and we have the power to make change happen by making our voices heard. “HeadCount is not so much political, it’s nonpartisan,” says Weir. “What we’re trying to do is get kids to register, pay attention to what candidates are saying, pay attention to the politics of the moment, and react with their hearts and minds.”

The cannabis legalization movement has made serious progress recently, but we still have to just keep truckin’ on.

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Tech Company Aims to Revolutionize Cannabis Supply Chain

The legal cannabis industry is a work in progress. In many ways, the industry shapes itself as it grows and as more and more places continue to legalize weed.

A key part of this evolutionary process is figuring out what aspects of the burgeoning industry work and what parts don’t, and then searching out solutions to improve the system.

Cannabis logistics company WAYV is the latest example of this evolution. The company just announced the rollout of its “Dynamic Distribution” technology. Designed to streamline the entire supply chain, Dynamic Distribution aims to improve the legal cannabis industry for everyone involved, from cultivators and distributors, to retailers and consumers.

WAYV Launches Dynamic Distribution Technology

On the surface, buying weed at a legal dispensary seems like a very smooth and simple process. You walk into the shop and see a huge range of products and brands. You browse around, select what you want, make your purchase, and you’re out the door.

But what isn’t visible are the numerous processes, companies, and players that operate behind the scenes to move a product from the original grow site to dispensary shelves. This reality is much more complicated and messy.

Before a product makes its way to the final consumer, it passes hands multiple times, moving between growers, manufacturers, distributors, and more. Coordinating all these players and the movement of products between them can quickly become a daunting challenge. And each point along the journey is another potential for inefficiencies, mistakes, or delays to creep in.

That’s exactly what WAYV aims to fix. The company’s Dynamic Distribution technology integrates all points of the supply chain into a single, easy-to-use interface.

Retailers log on to the platform’s marketplace, where they can learn about new brands and products, place orders, make payments, and track shipments in real-time. Distributors and brands likewise have access to a massive network of retailers, and have a single tool for managing shipments, inventory, payment processing, and more.

With Dynamic Distribution, what has always been a fragmented process involving multiple companies and steps is now a single digital platform.

Using Digital Technology to Solve Cannabis Challenges

There are a couple of key technological innovations that undergird all of this.

One of them is a streamlined payment processing technology. Given the legal tensions surrounding weed, financial transactions have always been a problem. Typically, the industry relies almost exclusively on cash. Now, with the Dynamic Distribution platform, companies make payments just once and then the software quickly and securely disburses payments to all upstream players.

The other key technology has to do with optimizing inventory and shipping. Specifically, WAYV has created an algorithm that predicts what products need to be in which locations—before they’re ever actually ordered.

This feature allows for faster-than-ever shipping. In fact, WAYV says that Dynamic Distribution is capable of delivering orders on a next-day turnaround.

“Dynamic Distribution optimizes all aspects of existing distribution infrastructure to provide the best overall experience for brands and distributors and next-day delivery for retailers and customers,” WAYV CEO Keith McCarty said. “Brands and distributors have never had this level of choice, speed, and quality throughout the supply chain.”

Innovating the Cannabis Industry…Again

According to McCarty, WAYV’s Dynamic Distribution is largely the result of his prior experience in the consumer-facing side of the industry.

Prior to his work with WAYV, McCarty was co-founder of Eaze, an online platform that connects consumers with dispensaries and delivery services. Working on this project gave McCarty insight into some of the industry’s biggest challenges.

“We learned that there’s a lot of friction in the supply chain,” McCarty told High Times. “When companies become successful they face constraints on supply. There are problems getting product from the brand to the distributor to shops to finally getting products on shelves. It seemed like there were big problems we could solve via technology.”

As a result, McCarty launched WAYV in August 2018. In the company’s first year of operations, it quickly caught on amongst some of California’s biggest cannabis companies. So far, companies like Caliva, Kurvana, High Style Brewing Company, Goldrop, and distributor Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group have already started using WAYV’s tools. In fact, many have already started utilizing the Dynamic Distribution platform.

“Part of a Movement”

For now, Dynamic Distribution will serve only the California market. But McCarty said that all aspects of the software have been designed for scalability. Next up, he says, is Canada, the rest of the United States, and the world.

“This isn’t just about building a technology that gets adopted, it’s about being part of a movement that connects to a lot of other social issues,” McCarty told High Times. “We are extremely passionate about solving the industry’s biggest problems because we believe this is a good thing for the world. We believe that technology plays a big role in this, and we take that responsibility seriously.”

He added: “There’s a lot of passion behind what we’re building. We want the industry to know that we’re here to support them in whatever way we can.”

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