The Oldest Trade Show in the Cannabis Industry Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

When the CHAMPS Winter Trade Show opens its doors on Feb. 27th, it will be the fifty-fifth mounted by CHAMPS and the fortieth staged in Las Vegas. Hundreds of businesses will be represented in a space that encompasses 245,000 square feet, the area of four and a half football fields.

The marketplace is booming and CHAMPS is proud to have backed the cannabis business community for two solid decades. No trade show is older and, certainly, no event associated with the use of cannabis can equal its rate of growth. In truth, CHAMPS is the unsung success story of our industry.

Of course, being “unsung” was a conscious business decision. Twenty years ago, Sherlock pipes, one-hitters, bongs, hand pipes and the like were as demonized as cannabis, courtesy of a 1994 Supreme Court decision (Posters ‘N’ Things, Ltd. v. United States), a ruling that still stands today. The Court rendered ceramic, metal and glass pipes—even rolling papers—all “drug paraphernalia.”

That made selling a bong problematic. In this uncertain atmosphere, Peter Gage and Jeff Hirschfeld founded CHAMPS.

The Oldest Trade Show in the Cannabis Industry Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Courtesy of CHAMPS

Back to the Beginning

The year was 1998. For a few years, paraphernalia companies had successfully showcased their merchandise at one of the largest wholesale trade shows in the nation. But that September, the rug was pulled out from under those vendors. U.S. Customs officials warned that trade show not to allow the purveyors of illegal pipes to purchase vendor booths.

Peter and Jeff had invested heavily in Gage Water Pipes, their own company. They had bought booths at the show for the company, but were abruptly closed out. Which brings to mind what Albert Einstein said: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”

“We reacted,” recalls Jeff. “Peter and I both had trade show experience. We saw the empty space that had been left behind. We got busy.”

The first show made its debut in February 1999 at the Gold Coast. It included just thirty-four 7’ x 8’ booths in a ballroom that comprised less than 4,000 square feet. The show was small, but they were heartened by the enthusiastic response of pipe sellers, especially the community of glass artists.

Back then, CHAMPS was known as the C.T.A. Show (Contemporary Tobacco Accessories). It may have been a disingenuous, but running a trade show that provided a business-to-business setting for paraphernalia manufacturers and head shop owners necessitated discretion. In other words, they hid in plain sight.

It was standard procedure for Jeff and Peter to decline coverage of the show by marijuana-themed publications. “You have to understand the level of paranoia,” Jeff says. “We didn’t want to be a target. It’s the way the manufacturers wanted it, the way head shops wanted it and the way we wanted it. Otherwise, vendors and buyers wouldn’t have come.”

Peter can laugh now. “Everyone’s booth featured signs that read ‘For Tobacco Use’ only. Everyone had to distance themselves from pot in order to do business.”

Still, the show thrived, moving on to convention centers. Significantly, its growth coincided with the rising popularity of glass smokeware. Although Bob Snodgrass, known as the “Godfather of Glass,” developed his techniques for glass pipe-making in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the mid-‘90s that these new instruments of pleasure emerged widely.

Glass smokeware was an instant sensation. The new pieces were unique and colorful, providing a singular smoking experience. Moreover, a colorful, one-of-a-kind, handcrafted pipe became a personal keepsake. Glass transformed the paraphernalia marketplace.

“We’ve always backed the glass community and tried to promote high-end glass, as well as the artists themselves,” Peter says. “After twenty years, we’ve become a family.”

The Oldest Trade Show in the Cannabis Industry Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Courtesy of CHAMPS

Free Markets and the Feds

In the cannabis industry, the cultivators and the consumers are the two target markets. Unfortunately, since the beginning of the War on Drugs, the federal government has focused on arresting and prosecuting the two same groups.

In February 2003, the Feds decided to take down the paraphernalia industry, launching Operation Pipe Dreams and Operation Headhunter. Fifty-five people were busted for engaging in interstate commerce to transport illegal merchandise.

The raids shook up everyone. Attorney General John Ashcroft labeled paraphernalia manufacturers “no better than drug dealers.” Websites advertising glass pipes were taken down instantly and smokeshops cleared their shelves.

The raids also happened to be launched on the eve of the C.T.A Show. Nervous vendors canceled. The number of businesses scheduled to attend dropped from 180 to a mere 34. But Jeff and Peter opened the doors and got through the show without government harassment.

“We were on edge the whole time,” says Jeff. “But we stood by our people. We offered full refunds or full credits toward future shows. I remained confident that we’d continue and survive.”

Jeff and Peter pivoted away from tobacco and smoking and renamed the show. The C.T.A. trade show became C.H.A.M.P.S, an acronym for “Contemporary Handcrafted American Made Products Show.” The name highlights “America’s diversity of products and the creditable glass art industry,” Jeff says.

What remains funny—albeit sixteen years later—is Ashcroft’s boast about the raids’ success. He crowed: “We’ve taken decisive steps to dismantle the illegal drug paraphernalia industry.”

That would be news to—well—just about everyone. Today, ten states, plus Washington D.C, have legalized recreational marijuana. Thirteen states have decriminalized, but not legalized, and thirty-three have legalized medicinal use. Businesses that serve both consumers and cultivators have multiplied exponentially.

Not surprisingly, CHAMPS growth has been impressive. Plus, new features have been added to the event. In 2010, CHAMPS hosted the first Las Vegas Flameoff, with scores of artists squaring off. The Flameoff has evolved into the Glass Games with substantial cash prizes awarded in an array of categories. Also, at this show, CHAMPS is introducing CHAMPS Dispensary Plus, an entire division of booths dedicated to the demands of the burgeoning dispensary scene.

The Oldest Trade Show in the Cannabis Industry Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Courtesy of CHAMPS

An Expansion for CHAMPS

Las Vegas is CHAMPS’ home base, but the trade show now stages events in Denver, Chicago, Orlando, and Atlantic City, with plans for shows in Michigan and New England in the near future.

Is there a secret to CHAMPS’ success? Not really. Jeff insists: “We listen to the community. I like to think that I treat CHAMPS in the same way I treat my life and my family—with respect. We believe in what we do, we do it well and we get better with each show.”

Peter puts it more simply: “The buyers power the CHAMPS Show.”

The buyers at CHAMPS are very similar to the traders who traveled the ancient Silk Road, the merchants who transported the precious goods of artisans in faraway lands back to the civilizations who crave them. Like them, the buyers at CHAMPS have access to the very finest products of the retail cannabis industry. And they’ll travel back to their own hometowns to delight customers with new treasures wherever they do business. Best of all, the promise of legalization is legitimizing their commerce at last.

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Researchers Find Correlation between Recreational Weed Laws and Junk Food Sales

The munchies. Aka, the insatiable urge to consume large amounts of snacks when you’re high. It’s a staple of stoner folklore, despite the more complex and variegated relationship between cannabis consumption and appetite. Typically, scientists study that relationship by looking at how cannabinoids trigger “hunger hormones” that make your brain make you eat. But a pair of researchers at Georgia State University and the University of Connecticut are experimenting with a new way to measure the munchies. They’re counting how much high-calorie “junk food” people bought before their state legalized cannabis, and comparing it to how much they bought after. And the first round of results are in: the munchies are real.

The Munchies Are Real, Study Says

Studies on the relationship between cannabis and appetite have struggled to provide conclusive evidence for why getting high makes you want to snack. Endocrinologists have suggested that one of the effects of THC is the stimulation of hormones that send hunger signals to the brain. The principal hunger hormone is ghrelin. And researchers have found that cannabis consumption both increases ghrelin production and makes the brain more sensitive to it. That double dose, scientists think, is a major factor behind the munchies.

In other fields, scientists have looked for neuroscientific or behavioral explanations for why consuming cannabis makes people hungry. But despite all that attention, skepticism persists. Are the munchies just a myth?

To answer that question, researchers Michele Baggio and Alberto Chong set out to see if the munchies were a measurable phenomenon. If we’re not entirely sure what causes the munchies, maybe we can at least see to what extent it actually exists. To do that, they gathered retail scanner data from The Nielsen Company and marketing databases at the University of Chicago. This data shows them how much high-caloric food people are buying. Then, they looked at how the implementation of adult-use marijuana laws impacted that data.

People Are Buying More Ice Cream, Cookies, and Chips in Adult-Use States

To get the clearest picture possible of how legal weed impacts junk food consumption, researchers compared scanner and marketing data from counties located on both sides of the border of adult-use states. Then, they looked at what happened before and after legalization. If junk food purchases increased on both sides of the border, that meant legalization was less likely to have had an impact.

But that’s not what the datasets revealed. Instead, they showed that purchases of high-caloric food increased in weed-legal counties. But in non-legal, cross-border counties, they didn’t observe the same increase. Baggio and Chong’s study took a closer look at three foods: cookies, ice cream and chips. And their data shows that the munchies are real—and measurable. “Legalizing adult-use marijuana leads to an increase in sales of junk food,” the study concludes.

Specifically, the study found that in adult-use states, monthly sales of ice cream increased by 5 percent, cookies by 6 percent and chips by 6.6 percent. The study’s weakest data even supports the trend. At minimum, consumption of cookies, ice cream and chips increased by 4.1, 3.1 and 5.3 percent, respectively. And all of those increases map directly onto the timeline of implementing adult-use legalization.

Interestingly, as states’ adult-use programs went on, the increase in junk food purchasing tapered off slightly. But only for chips and ice cream. Cookies, the researchers found, had some staying power. Does this mean cookies are the cannabis consumer’s munchie of choice? Further studies, as ever, are needed.

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Hemp Food Company Blocked from Boosting Business on Facebook

In the flush of federal hemp legalization, the Flores family turned to the hemp seed—a plant-based source of omega 3’s, omega 6’s, essential fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, iron, vitamin E, and amino acids. Why not, they thought, nutritionally beef up masa with it? In quick order, the Flores family had developed a hemp seed pizza crust and two kinds of tamales. Last July, they began to sell the products at three locations of their Tucson restaurant chain El Charro Café, eventually developing their retail line Hola Hemp.

Photos of the tamal, paired with a hearty salsa verde and side salad, dotted with cilantro leaves, were social media worthy. But the dish was halted in its quest to break the internet.

Last week, Facebook—repeatedly—declined to host the Flores’ ads alerting the neighbors to the existence of Hola Hemp.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Raul Flores contacted the publication after spending “all weekend” trying to get in contact with technical support, or anyone at the company who still needed an update on federal hemp policy, on the rejection of his ad.

“For some reason, Facebook is very behind the times or sadly misinformed,” Flores commented. “You can get a Facebook page for hate group or to manipulate elections … but they are not allowing us to do a boost for Hola Hemp and their argument is that we are promoting a controlled substance.” Facebook had not responded to the Star’s request for comment either at the time of its article’s publication.

In October, ahead of Canada’s then-pending federal legalization, Facebook announced that it would be changing its policies on cannabis on the site. “When searching ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana,’ pages that have been verified for authenticity will now be included in search results,” a spokesperson commented to MarketWatch at the time.

Facebook continues to report black market cannabis sales to law enforcement and the site’s relationship to the cannabis industry continues to be largely hands-off when it comes to Canadian and US State-legal advertisements. The company points to its policy on recreational drugs as explanation, rather than state or federal prohibition on cannabis use. The company is joined by other social media companies like Google and Twitter in this no-cannabis-ad stance, though sites like Pinterest have policies that explicitly state CBD and hemp products may be promoted on the site.

Over-the-counter drugs and alcohol are present on Facebook, which places the responsibility for legal compliance on booze on companies and distributors, who are able to target their ads based on geographic area and user age group; “Make sure to follow local laws and target your ads appropriately”, reads the company’s policy on alcohol advertisements.

Hemp, however, is hardly a recreational drug. In addition to becoming a legal, if tightly regulated crop with the passage of the new US Farm Bill in December, it is decidedly non-psychoactive and often lauded for its high nutritional value. Current clinical trials are investigating its effects on hypertension or high blood pressure.

So why isn’t the Hola Hemp tamale on Facebook’s menu?

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Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Mike Raus, long time Kentucky resident and founder of Kentucky Bluegrass Cannabis, is advocating for his state and fellow citizens to come together and legalize medical cannabis.

Given the severity of Kentucky’s opioid crisis, low-ranking education system, and deficit in the state’s pension plan legislative reform isn’t just needed– it’s required. House Bill 136 takes a step in that direction. Raus, along with a group he refers to as his “dream team,” believe medical marijuana is the crop that could move Kentucky from a state of crisis to a position of national leadership.

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Cannabis is currently illegal in Kentucky, although former Governor Steve Beshear signed a law in 2014 permitting patients to use non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) derivatives with a physician’s recommendation. The law did not include provisions to legally produce or sell CBD, however. Raus’s initiative seeks to give Kentuckians access to cannabis to treat illness and addiction.

Legalizing Medicinal Cannabis in Response to Kentucky’s Opiate Crisis

At double the national rate, Kentucky is ranked fifth in the United States for opioid-related overdose deaths. In 2016, there were 989 opioid-related fatalities in the region. The following year, U.S. News reported an 11.5 percent increase in that number. Since 2012, overdose deaths related to heroin have increased from 143 to 311, while deaths related to synthetic opioids have increased from 70 to 465.

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, physicians of Kentucky prescribed 97 opiate prescriptions for every 100 patients in 2015 – well above the national average of 70 prescriptions.

Along with medical marijuana supporters around the world, Raus believes that cannabis could be a pathway out of the opiate crisis. The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine published a study in the summer of 2018 reporting that states with legal medical marijuana had up to 25 percent less opioid deaths compared to states where the plant is not medically legal.

“There seems to be this growing national awareness that there is some sort of a benefit, a medical benefit, in certain forms of treatment from this drug,” said Former House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg). “Kentucky needs to be ready to move forward with a responsible piece of legislation.”

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Shutterstock

Raus and fellow HB 136 supporters understand the importance of giving the medical community the freedom to use medical marijuana as part of the optimal treatment for patients with chronic diseases and medical conditions. The goal of House Bill 136 is to allow doctors to refer patients to cannabis as an alternative to opiates– its slogan has become “let your doctor decide.”

Opioid death rates are higher than ever, so it’s no wonder the state is hesitant to legalize a plant that’s seen as a “gateway drug.” That said, Raus and his team drafted the bill in exquisite detail to ensure both law enforcement and the community would be comfortable with the legalization of medical cannabis. Raus assures those in opposition to HB 136 that the bill has specific language to prevent the misuse of medical marijuana.

“You’re not going to be able to get a recommendation or a prescription for medical marijuana unless you can show that you have a history of seeing that particular doctor,” said Raus. “You can’t just stub your toe and get a prescription from a random doctor.”

Legal Cannabis Promises Economic Benefits

Raus believes giving Kentuckians freedom to medicinally use cannabis will impact financial matters in the state. Growing up around a manufacturing business, Raus understands that growing and manufacturing cannabis products could give Kentucky a substantial economic boost. He believes legalizing medical marijuana has the potential to create a $100 million industry in the state.

As reported by Frontline, years of risky investments by Kentucky Retirement Systems and underfunding by politicians resistant to tax increases, Kentucky’s public pension plan went from fully funded in 2000 to becoming one of the worst-funded plans in the country.

Governor Matt Bevin says the reality is even worse than the reported $37-plus billion in unfunded liabilities. Unfortunately, the pension program isn’t the only area Kentucky is falling short for their citizens. Education Week’s Quality Counts 2018 report shows that Kentucky is ranked the 18th lowest in the nation for education spending.

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Courtesy of CDC

Raus says he’d like to see the tax revenue from the medical marijuana industry be utilized to revitalize the state’s pension and education programs. “Cannabis isn’t the cash cow everyone thinks it is,” says Raus, although believing that cannabis will generate income the state desperately needs.

Kentucky’s economy has heavily relied on the coal industry. But as this industry declines, Raus notes it’s important for Kentucky to find new industries to develop and support the state in need. Kentucky’s famous attorney and author Gatewood Galbraith shared this vision back in 1990 when he argued in favor of Hemp agriculture.

“If Kentucky is going to survive … they’re going to have to reach back and grab a plant that our granddaddies used to grow by the thousands of acres,” said Galbraith.

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Kentucky notably produces the best hemp, tobacco, and bourbon in the country. “The soil here is ripe for cannabis,” Raus said. And it’s because of the rich soil that Raus believes the cannabis industry could easily take over and become one of the state’s largest industries– second only to bourbon. Raus sees massive potential in producing the highest quality crop, as he believes it will allow Kentucky to become an industry leader in the nation.

Raus envisions Kentucky producing gourmet strains and eventually exporting these special crops to other states for sale. This would prevent the overproduction of crop, such as in Nevada or Oregon, where production far exceeds the cannabis consumption of its residents.

Raus feels optimistic that HB 136 will pass despite the six-year battle to successfully advance any “pot politics” through the House. With the Attorney General a supporter of the bill and a 72 percent public approval rating, the bill just needs to make its way through the opponents.

“One doesn’t have to be pro-cannabis to be pro alleviating pain and suffering,” said Raus. “We are simply asking lawmakers to have enough compassion to give those in pain an important medicine that can make their lives better, and in some cases, actually save their lives. We are asking lawmakers to CARE.”

Kentucky Hopes To Be A Leader In Medicinal Cannabis Through HB 163

Michael Raus (Courtesy of Michael Raus)

Raus called out HB 136’s largest opponents, Senator Ralph Alvarado, Senator Robert Stivers, Senator Damon Thayer, and Senator David Osborne. Raus also mentioned the CBD and hemp industry as current opponents of medical marijuana in Kentucky. Owners with high investments in hemp and CBD, like Senator Alvarado, are against the bill seeing it as a threat to the corner of the market they have now.

Kentucky’s positioned at the epicenter of the nation’s opioid crisis, it’s billions of dollars in debt, and the state is ranked near the bottom in regards to education. All of this has left Raus frustrated with the state government. Because of these stats, Raus has become an advocate fighting for even the most basic progress.

“This is really a phenomenal opportunity for the state of Kentucky,” said Raus. “Why it is dragging its feet… I just… embarrassed – I am embarrassed.”

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Patients Educating Doctors: Talking to Your Physician About Using Cannabis

California was the first state to allow cannabis use as medicine in 1996, but for years the common belief was it was all smoke and mirrors—an excuse to get high.

Without acceptance from the U.S. Government that cannabis really is medicinal, there are no Department of Health Services pamphlets on cannabis as remedy in doctors’ office waiting rooms; with mainstream media unable to dive into the anecdotal stories as truth.

Nevertheless, the plant has prevailed, with the anecdotal stories of healing traveling via word of mouth only, globally, every time someone is helped.

This writer’s own doctor, oncologist, and surgeon were each enlightened as she discovered for herself the healing powers of the plant. Her doctor learned after the first night she ingested cannabis oil for breast cancer, no longer needing pharmaceuticals for several serious ailments; her oncologist learned as she lay there, boob lubed, with part of the mass she initially presented with gone from the Ultra-sound image; her surgeon learned after sharing with him her only medication before and after surgery was cannabis; her dentist learned when she shunned pain killers for a surgical procedure.

Some doctors will listen, eager to learn; some still cling to beliefs based on decades of misinformation.

Swapping Surgery for a Plant

Dr. David Allen is a surgeon who crossed over into the cannabis space after teaching himself about the benefits of the plant. Frustrated at the lack of knowledge from his fellow doctors on this seemingly miraculous plant, and bitter he never learned of it in medical school, he started calling universities across the country asking if the Endocannabinoid System (eCS), that supports plant-based compounds within the body, was on any curriculum.

“After querying 157 medical schools across the country, I found that just 13 percent said the eCS is merely mentioned,” Dr. Allen lamented. “It is disheartening for me to realize that most of the surgeries I’ve performed during my career were not necessary—and that cannabis could have turned many conditions around, with no invasive and costly procedures. That’s criminal.”

California cannabis patient turned activist, Vanessa Adams, shared her effort to educate a nurse while being prepped for surgery.

“The nurse asked what kind of vitamins I was taking,” Adams explained. “So, I told her, that because my vitamins act as a blood thinner for a heart condition, I’m choosing to eat them naturally by juicing, steaming, eating raw fruits and vegetables – to which she asked how many milligrams was in that vitamin I take – totally missing the point. I then asked if she ever juiced produce, but she hadn’t a clue.”

The nurse then asked if she was taking an anti-inflammatory, to which she shared she uses cannabis and CBD from hemp to quell inflammation.

“Without flinching, she asked how much drugs I smoked!” Vanessa laughed. “I then attempted to educate her – knowing full well she wouldn’t have gotten this information from nursing school. I told her that cannabis is not a drug, it’s a medicinal plant – I let her know that it’s safer than pharmaceuticals, to which she then ignored my effort to educate by deducting that I ‘just smoke pot.’”

Vanessa persisted, letting the nurse know that smoking is just one delivery of beneficial compounds from the plant, and she also ingests in various ways, to no avail. The nurse then wanted to order a blood test due to her “drug use,” even though labs for the procedure had already been done days prior.

“She was concerned that I ‘smoke drugs for medicine,’ and no matter what I said wasn’t going to change her mind,” she added. “I also told her that I was concerned about her lack of education on the medicinal properties of cannabis, especially since so many states were legal now. But it didn’t matter – she was just against it, and as I left the exam room she called out to me, ‘don’t do drugs!’”

Evangelizing Cannabis

The true definition of evangelizing is Biblical, with the intent of converting people to Christianity, but where cannabis is concerned, advocates evangelize every time they speak the truth of the plant – from our mouths to their ears. Even if they don’t believe, they’ve heard the words.

Regina Nelson earned her Phd with a focus on cannabis as medicine, penning many papers and books on the Endocannabinoid System, including “Time for the Talk, Talking to Your Doctor or Patient about Medical Cannabis.”

A patient herself, Nelson opened the eCS Therapy Center in Colorado helping many via Peer Educators, for lack of medical professionals being educated on the subject – even though they are safe from persecution for prescribing cannabis.

In the book she writes, “Preparing for a conversation about cannabis with your doctor will help guide the exchange and assure that you’ve been heard and understood. Being prepared also assures that you are speaking from a factual, not an emotional point-of-view. Focused discussions are more apt to engage your physician in a meaningful way.”

Nelson’s check list to prepare a patient to talk to their doctor includes, making a list of your qualifying conditions (varies State to State); describing the side effects of prescription medication you currently use and concerns about long-term use; and providing educational literature to back up your points. Nelson also advises the patient be prepared to take notes on the doctor’s questions, concerns, or advice.

Sharing the effects and successful outcomes of your cannabis use in treating ailments is also important; including delivery methods and dosing protocol.

“Letting your doctor know how important this is to you, and asking for their support is key,” Nelson writes. “Remember, it’s your physician’s job to provide or find the best advice possible, so you can make good decisions about your health. If your doctor resists, it might be time to find a new doctor.”

With an estimated two million registered cannabis patients in the U.S., and more being helped every day, it’s time to educate our medical professionals from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Who knows, your doctor might thank you – as mine did.

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Man Arrested in North Carolina for Weed Turns Out to be Fugitive Murder Suspect

A man arrested on marijuana charges by law enforcement officers in North Carolina on Saturday turned out to be a fugitive from California wanted for murder, according to media reports. Boren Lay, 25, was arrested by agents with state Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) at the El Barracho, a bar licensed by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in Winston-Salem.

The agents had been conducting an investigation at the bar when they discovered cannabis. After obtaining a warrant to search the establishment for drugs, agents confiscated more than 11 pounds of marijuana and 842 vials of THC oil. Lay and two other men, Sovath Yern, 30, one of the owners of El Borracho, and Sovann Yern, 31, who are both of Massachusetts. Police say that they have confirmed that all three men are members of the Southern California street gang known as the Asian Boyz.

After his arrest, Lay reportedly concealed his identity from police for almost nine hours. When he finally revealed his true name, officers discovered that Lay is wanted for a murder that was committed in California in July 2013. Bryan House, ALE branch head, said that officers with the agency have to be prepared to act on any violations that they discover.

“Through the course of a normal investigation, ALE special agents never know who they could potentially encounter,” said House. “As highly trained professionals, ALE special agents’ primary job is to investigate any criminal behavior associated with an ABC licensed establishment and arrest those responsible.”

Facing Multiple Charges

The men arrested have been charged with multiple crimes including trafficking marijuana by possession,  trafficking marijuana by transport, possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana, maintaining a building for controlled substances, possession of drug paraphernalia, and allowing violations of the controlled substances act to occur on the licensed premises.  El Barracho could also be penalized by the ABC with fines or a license suspension or revocation.

Bail was set at $100,000 for Lay on the drug charges but denied for the murder charge. Bail of a $50,000 secured bond was set for both Sovath and Sovann Yern.

A detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that while deputies had not been actively looking for Lay, his arrest is “extremely important.” Lay has been wanted by the LASD as a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Timothy Teapaco. According to witnesses, Lay had been arguing with Teapaco in a parking lot, when he allegedly shot him. Reports say that Teapaco had allegedly been in the gang Tiny Rascals, but became “inactive” after he and his girlfriend had a child together.

Lay is expected to be extradited to California within the next two weeks for a court arraignment in Bellflower, California.

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New Jersey Mayor Who Banned Weed in His Town Revealed to be Paid Lobbyist

Stephen Reid is the mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. In December 2017, under Mayor Reid’s leadership, Point Pleasant became the first New Jersey city to preemptively ban any cannabis industry operations, should the state legalize them. The Point Pleasant Beach ban kicked off a statewide trend, leading to more than 10 percent of all New Jersey towns, representing nearly every county, passing resolutions restricting, banning or opposing cannabis industry operations and adult-use legalization.

Today, the total number of towns that have opted out has topped 60, and Mayor Reid continues to be a leading voice in the effort to oppose marijuana reform — in fact, he gets paid to do so. Thanks to the investigative efforts of blogger Patrick Duff, we now know that Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Stephen Reid is on the payroll of an influential anti-marijuana lobbying group.

Mayor of First New Jersey Town to Ban Weed Is on the Payroll of an Anti-Cannabis Lobby

In late November 2018, New Jersey lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate voted to advance an adult-use bill, marking the first official legislative action on the issue since pro-legalization Gov. Phil Murphy assumed office in 2018. But since their 2016 takeover of the New Jersey legislature, Democrats have expanded qualifying conditions for medical cannabis treatments, licensed more dispensaries and centered criminal justice reform.

At the same time, opposition to the adult-use industry dug in, and a groundswell of anti-cannabis advocacy prompted a number of cities to opt out of any legal-weed future. Point Pleasant Beach mayor Stephen Reid has been at the heart of that movement. After making his city the first to ban the retail cannabis industry in late 2017, Reid has traveled around the state advising other towns to join Point Pleasant’s policy of prohibition.

But since at least May 2018, Reid has been pushing prohibition on the payroll of the prominent anti-marijuana lobby group New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy. Now, that connection and its potential conflict of interest are the subject of a lawsuit filed against Point Pleasant Beach.

Mayor Reid isn’t just on NJ RAMP’s payroll. Since May 2018, he has been the group’s executive director. Blogger Patrick Duff revealed the connection after suing Point Pleasant Beach himself, to obtain records of Reid’s emails with the group. Reid has himself never been upfront about his connection with RAMP. In fact, he failed to properly register his lobbying activity on behalf of RAMP with the state until October, five months after taking the job.

Lawsuit Targets Point Pleasant Beach Mayor’s Connection with Anti-Cannabis Lobby

As mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, Stephen Reid banned the cannabis industry before he began receiving checks from NJ RAMP. But in his public statements about marijuana policy after May 2018, Reid has never fully disclosed he was receiving compensation from the anti-cannabis group.

And that compensation is substantial. Being mayor of Point Pleasant Beach pays just $6,500 annually. NJ RAMP has been paying Mayor Reid $3,000 monthly since May. Duff’s lawsuit against the city alleges Reid improperly mixed his work as RAMP executive director with his duties as mayor. Duff called the mayor’s undisclosed lobbying efforts “the ultimate misuse of office.”

Reid acknowledges that he didn’t properly register his lobbying activities with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. But he denies any conflict of interest. “I don’t see it as a conflict; I see it as a complement,” Reid told NJ.com. Reid then doubled down on his denial, accusing the marijuana industry of coming after him.

New Jersey law may be on Reid’s side. According to the director of the state’s election commission, Joseph Donohue, the agency has no specific laws preventing local government officials from working as lobbyists.

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High Folks: Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our newest bi-weekly column, High Folks: the cannabis-infused version of Humans of New York, in which we take an intimate look at people’s relationships with our most beloved plant. The connection between humans and cannabis is primal, dynamic, and profound. But it’s something that’s increasingly overlooked in the new age of weed. So in an effort to combat the superficiality of cannabis in the social media-age, High Times is proud to present to you a collection of work that highlights one of life’s most beautiful gifts: connection.

In the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Port Richmond, Jessica Wolfert (26) is a Renaissance woman fusing the realms of glass-blowing and cannabis into her body positivity project Lady Pipes. The glass smoking pipes are an ode to Wolfert’s younger self: a suburban girl from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, who once struggled with social anxiety and body image issues.

“When my social anxiety was at its worst I was terrified of being judged,” Wolfert tells High Times. “I wanted to physically disappear, and I think that negatively affected the way I viewed and treated my body.”

Always thinking about what she was doing with her hands, her word choice, and breathing pattern made it painfully difficult for Wolfert to interact in social settings. It wasn’t until her first semester at Temple University’s Tyler College in 2010 that she decided to face her social anxiety disorder.

She smoked cannabis recreationally three or four times with some classmates when she realized it eased the overwhelming social discomfort.

Philadelphia Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity

Courtesy of Jessica Wolfert

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 6.8 percent of the U.S. population suffers from social anxiety disorder (SAD), and there have been studies suggesting that cannabis is the cause of  SAD. But a 2015 report shows that patients dealing with social anxiety disorder experienced greatly improved moods after consuming cannabis.

“I felt peaceful and euphoric,” she says. “I was laughing and joking with my friends and not thinking about all of the stupid little insecurities I had. It was very freeing. It took some effort to follow conversation but I realized that If I could do that while I was high then I could learn to do it [while being] sober as well.”

Wolfert is grateful that cannabis helped her deal with her social anxiety, but she also recognizes she wouldn’t have been as focused on her art without it. “I had trouble connecting with people socially, so art became a way for me to connect without going too far out of my comfort zone.”

Finding peace within her comfort zone and body prompted Wolfert to create Lady Pipes, an artistic glass project aimed at rewriting beauty’s narrow narrative.

“When I looked around at my friends, including myself, I didn’t know anybody who didn’t struggle with body image issues,” Wolfert tells High Times. “Pretty much everybody I know does. Even women you think are the societal ideal don’t feel good enough, and that’s pretty crazy to me. So I thought to myself that I wanted to depict a greater spectrum of beauty because when you see your own body represented in art and you see people commenting and calling it beautiful, it’s really empowering.”

Philadelphia Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity

Courtesy of Jessica Wolfert

Wolfert completed her first Lady Pipe in April of 2018.

But in 2017,  prior to the inception of this project, Wolfert met Terasina Bonanini (32) an art director and curator for Ruckus Gallery in Philadelphia. Bonanini says Wolfert’s relationship with glass grew tremendously while working at the gallery.

“Challenged by the skill level of what was being showcased in the gallery, [Wolfert] worked hard to develop her technique as a glass blower and broaden her perspective of what glass is ‘supposed to be,’” says Bonanini.

On Valentine’s Day of 2017, Wolfert’s sculpture “Skeleton Siren Presented on a White Dinner Plate” debuted at Impossible Standards, a show curated by Bonanini.  

“It was beautiful and delicate,” Bonanini tells High Times. “The presentation made you think, ‘why a dinner plate?’ She explained it represented the temptation to achieve an ‘ideal’ body through harmful and dangerous means.”

Wolfert believes life imitates art. But she also explains that media conditions people to have a dangerously one-sided view of beauty.

“If we can show the world that beauty is diverse then we can change the way we experience our bodies and the way that we experience life,” Wolfert says. “It’s changing the way that I experience my own body for sure.”

Wolfert plans to get some of her friends to model for her as she continues to make more Lady Pipes.

Philadelphia Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity

Courtesy of Jessica Wolfert

Jessica Hintchey (27) a friend of Wolfert’s since 2014, is excited about the future of Lady Pipes because it gives different women permission to feel beautiful and validated by having a Lady Pipe shaped like them.

“Body image and diet culture are something that [Wolfert] and I have always struggled with,” says Hintchey. “And fitting that ideal, what always ends up being European beauty standards of a thin body and small features, and the whole social determination of beauty. Wrapped up in that is also [Wolfert’s] relationship with cannabis because of anxiety, her use of cannabis to calm her anxiety and her anxiety regarding her body image in a rotating diet culture. I think Lady Pipes is helping [Wolfert] figure out her relationship to her own body, what the ideal body type is and how to navigate that in a healthy way.”

Through the Lady Pipes project, Wolfert reminds us how synonymous cannabis legalization and women’s liberation are because, as a country, we’re being forced to rethink what makes women feel good, loved, accepted, and respected in a place that has a one dimensional perspective of beauty.

Thus, Lady Pipes is an ode to understanding that we all develop through continued acts of faith and self-love.

“It takes a lot of confidence to go against the grain so to speak,” she says. “That includes looking different from the accepted ideal…”  

Working as an entrepreneur, Wolfert plans to continue taking Lady Pipe commissions and building upon her work as a glass blower and ceramics artist.

The post High Folks: Artist Jessica Wolfert Creates Glass Pipes To Promote Body Positivity appeared first on High Times.

Can Weed Cause Paranoia?

One of the interesting and sometimes strange things about marijuana is that in some cases it helps people feel less stressed, anxious, and worried, and in other cases it seems to make people feel ultra stressed out to the point of extreme paranoia.

It’s actually pretty common to experience both ends of this spectrum. And as anyone who’s experienced the paranoid side of things knows, weed paranoia can be very intense.

So what’s the deal with weed and paranoia? What causes weed paranoia? And what can you do to deal with paranoia from weed? Here’s everything you need to know.

Effects of Weed on Paranoia

As with most things related to cannabis, research into weed and paranoia is fairly limited. Research exists, but because of prohibition laws, it’s not as thoroughly researched as it should be.

But from what we do know, it appears that marijuana can certainly be a contributing factor to feelings of paranoia.

In 2014, a group of scientists at Oxford studied paranoia from weed. In the experiment, they gave 121 adults between the ages of 21 and 50 an injection of either real THC or a placebo. The THC dose was the same as an average joint.

After all participants were injected, they answered a series of questions about their experiences and feelings. At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that 50% of those with THC reported feelings of paranoia. Meanwhile, only 30% of those with the placebo had feelings of paranoia.

Interestingly, researchers did not conclude that cannabis causes paranoia outright. Instead, they said that weed probably produces a range of other experiences that could add to a heightened sense of paranoia.

For example, they said that when people are high and they experience sensory changes, those changes can make some people feel nervous, uneasy, and in some cases, paranoid.

So weed paranoia does seem to exist—kind of. But only in the sense that the experience of an altered state of mind tends to freak some people out.

Does Weed Make Paranoia Worse?

In many ways, it’s more accurate to describe the relationship between weed and paranoia as one in which weed exacerbates what’s already there.

To be more clear, if you’re already prone to feelings of anxiety and paranoia, you may be more likely to feel even more paranoid when you’re high.

And, as evidenced in the above study, the same is true of how much a person enjoys the experience of being high. If a temporarily altered state of mind is enjoyable to you, then you probably won’t feel paranoid.

But if that altered state of mind makes you feel weird or scared, you might feel paranoia from weed. Simply put, the connection between weed and paranoia differs based on a number of variables. These include:

  • personality
  • genetic predisposition
  • your body’s endocannabinoid system
  • potency of weed
  • how much THC you consume
  • the full spectrum of cannabinoids you consume
  • whether or not you enjoy the sensation of being high
  • how often you get high
  • THC tolerance levels

How to Deal with Paranoia When You’re High

Since there are so many factors that impact whether or not you feel weed paranoia, it’s likely that you could experience it at some point or another.

Even if you usually don’t feel paranoia from weed, we’ve all found ourselves in those situations where you just get way too high. When that happens, you might start feeling paranoid.

Since weed and paranoia can hit anyone, you should know how to deal with it. Here are some good ways to deal with paranoia from weed:

  • Force yourself to relax. Breath deep. Sit down and take it easy. And remind yourself that is literally impossible to overdose and die from cannabis.
  • Drink some soothing lemon tea. Squeeze lemon into hot water. Maybe add some fresh ginger root and honey. Drink it slowly and try to calm yourself down.
  • Pepper contains terpenes that tend to have soothing effects. Try crushing a few peppercorns and gently smelling it.
  • Take a warm shower and focus on calming yourself down.
  • Take a nap and sleep it off.

Of course, another approach is trying to avoid getting to the point where you’re experiencing weed paranoia. Here are some tips to avoid getting paranoid:

  • Take smaller doses of THC.
  • If you can, try smoking or vaping. It’s easier to dose than edibles or oils.
  • Consume strains with more CBD, since CBD counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC. If you’re prone to paranoia, CBD could hep smooth out your experience.

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California Cannabis Tax Revenue Isn’t Going To Youth Programs—Yet

According to new reports coming out of California, a key aspect of the state’s original marijuana legalization bill is not being met. Specifically, youth programs are so far not receiving the funding that the original legislation promised they would.

As concern grows over why this is happening, experts have identified a few trends that could be creating this scenario. And on an optimistic note, many in the state expect to see things start improving.

Why Youth Programs Aren’t Receiving Funding

In November 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64. The bill made recreational weed legal in the state. And as is typically the case with legalization bills, one of the primary concerns of the proposition was figuring out how the state would use tax revenues.

Among several uses, the state promised to use a portion of cannabis taxes to fund youth programs. Specifically, youth programs aimed at substance abuse education.

After Prop. 64 passed in 2016, the retail sale of recreational cannabis officially launched Jan. 1, 2018. Now, a full year after that date, the state has failed to fund youth educational programs.

According to the AP, experts say there are two primary reasons for this lack of funding. First, the state’s structure for spending cannabis tax money places these youth programs at a lower priority than other initiatives.

As outlined in California’s legal framework, there is a multi-tiered system for prioritizing who gets tax revenue first. Under this system, the top tier of funding goes to startup costs and operational costs associated with state regulatory functions.

Below that, things like university research and funding for California Highway Patrol is on the second tier. That leaves youth educational programs for the third tier of spending.

It’s possible that there might not be any problems with this system. But experts say it’s problematic because the state has not brought in as much cannabis tax revenue as originally predicted.

As a result, there simply hasn’t been enough money in the coffers to make it to the third tier of spending. And that means that youth programs have so far gone unfunded.

Fixing the Problem

For advocates of these youth substance abuse education programs, the news isn’t all bad. In fact, many experts think that things could turn around soon.

California’s fiscal year ends in June. And current trends in the state’s cannabis market indicate that there could be enough revenue by then to fully fund youth educational programs.

If the state hits that milestone in June, things could be on track to get even better next fiscal year. According to experts reporting to the AP, California’s upcoming fiscal year could realistically increase funding for these programs by as much as $160 million.

State officials are also working to address other lingering problems that could negatively affect how California spends marijuana tax money.

Currently, there is a lot of confusion in the language used to outline tax spending rules. For example, there is no clear definition of “youth.” This could create confusion (or loopholes) when it comes to figuring out exactly which types of educational programs would qualify for tax spending.

There are other similarly confusing details. And officials are working to more concretely define all aspects of its cannabis tax framework.

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