Welcome to the Leading Lab in Cannabis

What’s in your weed? CannaSafe will find out. The world’s first accredited lab and the leading state market share holder, CannaSafe, is pushing a culture of cannabis safety and education not only to cultivators and distributors, but also to consumers and the general public.

In California, state-mandated tests for legal distribution of cannabis include potency, microbial contaminants, moisture, and pesticides. These tests not only ensure products are safe for consumption, but also confirm any cannabinoid label claims. Not only should consumers know their product is devoid of harmful pesticides such as Myclobutanil, which turns to Hydrogen Cyanide when activated by flame, but to confirm their 28 percent THC flower is, in fact, 28 percent THC.

Located in Van Nuys, California, CannaSafe boasts a state-of-the-art facility, complete with glass walls and top-of-the-line equipment, namely three Agilent high-end instruments. Think the Apple store for cannabis science, except the Apple store can’t fog up its glass walls at the push of a button. Ini Afia, CannaSafe’s executive lab director, spared no expense when designing the lab in 2017.

“We wanted to exceed the expectations set forth by the BCC,” says Afia, “so we went above and beyond to invest in top-notch equipment.”

Much like Apple during the holidays, CannaSafe is equipped for volume. On the week of Dec. 10, the lab processed over 500 samples. With guaranteed 3-5 day turnarounds (and often same day rush), that’s a hefty task. They expect over 600 per week by the new year.

CannaSafe is always looking forward, preparing for the future. Phase 3 testing, which are state-mandated tests for heavy metals, mycotoxins, and terpenes, will be legally required as of Jan. 1, 2019. This has labs scrambling to update their instruments and workflow for the new year, as well as receiving their accreditation for those tests. Aaron Riley, CannaSafe President, left no stone unturned in preparation for the new year.

“We’ve been accredited for and performing Phase 3 tests since March of 2018,” Riley says. “Labs should be striving to set the standard for safety and quality control, and there’s just not a lot of that right now.”

Welcome to the Leading Lab in Cannabis

CannaSafe

Their next move is a building expansion that will turn their modest, 8,000 square foot location into a 13,000 square foot compound, complete with an employee gym. Lab technicians don’t need to be ripped to lug 5-gram samples, though. But CannaSafe is developing a culture. A business’ culture is important to CannaSafe investment partner Bill Scrogins. He won’t use the term “employee.” Instead, he prefers “associate.”

“[The term] ’employee’ denotes ownership, and I can’t stand that,” says Scrogins. “It’s an honor that you work with us, and it’s an honor that we work with you.”

Every Wednesday, CannaSafe buys family style lunch for the office; every month there are two Associates of the Month– one voted on by management, the other voted on by associates. Prizes have ranged from Beats by Dre headphones to Drake/Migos tickets at Staples Center. There’s talk of an iMac, and next year… a car.

Scrogins, a pharmacist by trade, worked in a grocery store pharmacy for 19-years before starting his own businesses. “Our work environments and our work friends are a big part of our lives,” he says, “and when that’s good, most other things fall into place.”

The CannaSafe culture reaches the clients, as well. In November, CannaSafe had a VIP client event in Las Vegas at the Palms Casino penthouse during MJBizCon. If you live in California, you may recognize some of their top clients: 3C Farms, Mammoth Distribution, Josh D Farms, Green Dragon Nursery, CaliKush Farms– the list goes on.

Welcome to the Leading Lab in Cannabis

CannaSafe

The turnaround times are unrivaled, the pricing is competitive, and when something doesn’t pass, they’re not thrown to the curb. CannaSafe wants their clients to succeed and works to steer them in the right direction. Cultivators and distributors can get frustrated with the new regulations; they can drive up their prices and keep their product off the shelf for an excessive amount of time, leading to consumer blowback.

In September 2018, Jungle Boys, one of the leading cultivators in cannabis, made an Instagram post for its customers. Jungle Boy’s caption was: “This is what’s holding us up from keeping the shelves filled at all times we have to wait for all the test results to come back before we drop the flowers or concentrates.”

The photo was a screen grab of the BCC’s (Bureau of Cannabis Control) testing requirements. Aaron Riley reached out to Jungle Boys and offered them as little as same-day rush turnaround on product. Jungle Boys didn’t believe them. After some Instagram back-and-forth and a video from CannaSafe explaining their processes, they took a chance and had samples tested.

CannaSafe’s number one concern is consumer safety– a close second is education. For example, most consumers just shop for THC content, CBD content, and if a product is a Sativa, Indica or Hybrid. But CannaSafe considers terpene profiles to be the future of cannabis rather than cannabinoids. Terpenes are essential oils found throughout nature; they are responsible for the aromatic characteristics of the flower, giving it the distinct smells that we all enjoy. Smoking a plant with certain terpenes and cannabinoids can induce various effects, also known as the Entourage Effect, where largely non-psychoactive components combine to create an effect larger than the sum of its parts.

CannaSafe’s Instagram page (@cannasafe) hosts educational videos, featuring Ini Afia, explaining the lab processes and why they should matter to the consumer. Afia stresses the importance of these videos. “The key to legitimizing this industry compared to the pharmaceutical industry is education– whether it be consumer, regulatory, or scientific focused.”

Welcome to the Leading Lab in Cannabis

CannaSafe

For broader audiences, CannaSafe uses comedy to help bring awareness and educate consumers about product safety. Just ask Bill “Blunt Justice” Jericho, a rambunctious, outspoken personal injury lawyer that’s cracking down on unsafe cannabis practices. His ads, which feature amazing settlements ($240 dollars in Applebee’s gift cards!), are on Cannasafe, High Times, and countless other Instagram pages. “Blunt Justice” is a fictional character played by none other than CannaSafe President and CEO, Aaron Riley. Riley believes comedy can be used as a gateway for education in the lab testing space. “Our goal here is to educate the consumer, and we post a ton of educational content,” says Riley. “But the easiest way to get people to pay attention is to make them laugh. So we start with that.”

2019 looks to be a big year for CannaSafe. They’re expanding their main office, opening another lab in NorCal, and breaking ground on a research and development facility. Riley doesn’t know how to slow down.

“We’ll be opening a Northern California location in early Q2,” he says. “We look forward to continued great service for all of our statewide clients and to making sure cannabis products are safe for consumers.”

When you’re shopping, check for the “C” on the packaging to make sure it’s CannaSafe.

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High Times Magazine’s Best Nutrients of 2018

2018 has been a year! The ups-and-downs of the legal cannabis movement have kept us busy– but not too busy to provide our readers with a list of the year’s best nutrients. The nutes on this list should enhance size, effects, and/or the flavor of your flowers. Ideally, you want something with the right level of nourishment for your plants without any of the unwanted additives, which can negatively alter the taste and potency of your final product.

So, here’s what we recommend to anyone and everyone who’s resolution is to grow stellar, crystalline weed in 2019. May the flowering gods be with you.

High Times Magazine's Best Nutrients of 2018

Biophos Bonanza by Suite Leaf

Biophos Bonanza by Suite Leaf

Biophos Bonanza is an organic nutrient formulated for soil and soilless indoor gardening systems.

Price: $29.95 (1 quart)

Pros: This nutrient includes free-living fungi which help to uptake phosphorous. Phosphorous can help buds bloom. It is vegan and organic and they list their ingredients.

Cons: The price of a quart will cost you more than some of the other nutrients on the list.

Why we like it: Vegan, organic and they list they’re transparent about their ingredients.

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4 Minutes and 20 Seconds with Sherbinski, Iconic Strain Cultivator

If you got the chance to meet a local legend in your community, wouldn’t you? We finally got the chance to sit down and speak with a very popular man in the cannabis community: Sherbinski of the “Cookie Fam.” This man is a GOD in the Bay Area of California, so meeting him was a humbling experience. He is responsible for strains such as Sunset Sherbert, Gelato, and Pink Panties. Obviously, I was compelled to learn as much about him as possible: how he got involved with Jigga from the Cookie Fam, what is the recipe for the Pink Panties strain, etc. Luckily, he was willing to sit down and chat with us for a– you guessed it– grand total of four minutes and twenty seconds. Here’s what he had to say.

When did you start growing Cannabis? What strains were they?

About 14 years ago. The first strain I ever grew was Afgoo, and then I moved onto some OG’s.

When did you start getting into the era of Girl Scout Cookies?

Probably about 3 years after I started growing. I lived in the Sunset District in San Francisco. I was able to meet the guys from the Cookie Fam. They were in my area. 

Did the weed you were growing at the time get you in contact with the Cookie Fam? Or had you linked up with them already?

One of the guys I train with kickboxing, Muay-Thai, to was friends with that circle of people. Started hanging out with him, and he became one of my friends. He knew Jigga, so I was then able to meet him.

I do some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and I noticed there is a very big Cannabis Community within. Have you noticed the same thing?

Oh for sure! Martial artists are stoners! It almost goes hand-in-hand. It’s our medicine. Bruce Lee smoked weed. He used to put hash into his edibles before he trained. It’s a medicine, you know? When you also look at it, it is also an anti-inflammatory. There are certain values when you’re beating up your body. It helps, especially for someone who doesn’t take pills, or choose to take any hardcore pain relief other than Cannabis. It also helps with creativity. It is a martial “Art”, so it turns on the “Artist” part of it. It definitely fuels creativity.

When did Sunset Sherbert officially come out? When and how was it made?

It was a Burmese pollen that Jigga had, onto a Larry OG “Ish Cut” that I had. That is what makes the Pink Panties. So the Pink Panties, I stuck a little male seedling into a blooming room with cookies in it, and it pollinated that. The seeds from that cookies crossed to Pink Panties would become the Sherbert. We really didn’t keep any of the phenos out of that, but we kept seeds from that. Where the Gelato came from, was getting feminized pollen from the cookies x sherbert, and going back to the sherbert x cookies. Out of those, you would see the different numbers from the Gelato #25, #33, #41, #45, #47, #49. Bacio Gelato, Mochi, Gello.

What other strains did you work on as a group that no one really knows about, but is still pretty good that people might want to know more about?

One that’s pretty unknown that was pretty instrumental was the Pink Panties. It was the parent to the Sherbert. That really never really got any production, because it wasn’t that great of a yielder inside. At the time, we weren’t using Co2 or anything like that.

Was it a strain with a lot of flavors?

It was more therapeutic. It gives you a really great feeling, especially when it is grown outdoors. That’s something that will be brought back, so keep your eyes out for it!

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High Times Magazine’s Official Troubleshooting Guide for Beginner Growers

New cannabis cultivators must learn to identify and treat various conditions in the grow room promptly and accurately. Here are the most common marijuana-growing problems and how to solve them quickly and effectively.

My leaves are turning yellow and falling off. What gives?

This is an indication that your plant is short on nitrogen, an essential nutrient. As a result, the plant is using the available nitrogen stored within its leaves for photosynthesis and chlorophyll production. You may have returned to the garden to find that a few of the most significant fan leaves have become lifeless and the connecting part of the leaf can be flicked off.

What you want to do here is remove the yellowing leaves for a few different reasons. You will want them out of sight and out of the garden as insects are attracted to the color yellow. (This is why sticky strips made for catching flies are yellow.) Another reason to lose the leaves is that they’re useless to the plant and removing them will allow more light to the lower parts of the plant that the fan leaves were covering.

If you find that the newest smaller leaves are becoming bright yellow and brittle, then you need to immediately add nitrogen that’s readily available. Add organic matter that’s in a state of humification, such as worm humus or tea, liquid seaweed, fish emulsions, blood meal or other things that are naturally high in nitrogen.

Why is there a rotten-egg-like smell coming from my grow room?

This will most likely happen when you are growing organically. That foul sewer-like smell is produced by a microbe that is in the growing medium. The bacteria are anaerobic, which means they thrive in environments that are waterlogged with low oxygen—basically, swamp conditions. If you get a whiff of sulfur and rotten egg, then you know this is the cause.

To prevent this, introduce hydrogen peroxide into the growing medium at 3 percent strength. This is distilled water with an extra hydrogen molecule attached, an unstable molecule. Once it is in contact with any bacteria, it will starve the organism of oxygen and kill it. It will also kill any beneficial bacteria you have in your grow medium; however, your roots will revive and the anaerobic bacteria will disappear.

A good tip here is to make sure your growing medium is not waterlogged. If you’re bottom-feeding, never let your plants sit directly in a tray of stagnant water. This is precisely how anaerobic bacteria are formed, and even more so if you’re using organic nutrients.

Why do the leaves of my plant have tiny yellow or white dots on them?

If you’ve noticed under close inspection that your fan leaves and newest growth have tiny yellow blotches on them, then, sadly, you have signs of spider mites. You will not notice these tiny pests with the naked eye; you can only see the collateral damage they leave behind.

A spider-mite infection at any stage of the grow can be devastating, so my advice here is to be careful where you source your clones from. It’s important to limit any potential threats that are being brought into the garden. You’ll also want to reduce your humidity, as spider mites thrive in a clammy environment.

It’s always good to have living predators on standby ready to patrol your garden. Once you have introduced these predators into your grow space, the results will be a slow reduction of the number of spider mites or whatever problematic insects you’re dealing with.

Troubleshooting for Beginner Pot Growers

Webbing is a sure sign of a spider mite infestation gone awry (High Times)

I tried to cut the top of a shoot to create two shoots, but I missed. What will happen now?

Don’t worry, as this is a technique practiced on a broad spectrum by all types of growers. It entails the removal of about 70-80 percent of a shoot so that enough is left behind for the plant to reduce the growth hormone auxin but also promote lateral growth from the lowest parts of the shoot that was cut. It’s called “fimming,” for “Fuck, I missed.”

If you intended to grow two new shoots from one, this can still happen, but you need to wait about 10 days for the plant to recover and become bushy. Then you can start the process to top the plant again.

My once white and fluffy roots are now thin, fragile and brown. What happened?

You’ve got what’s called root rot, and this happens when the growth medium becomes waterlogged. Roots need oxygen to breathe during their search for moisture and nutrients. Again, using hydrogen peroxide will help bring the roots back to life, but so will repotting the plants into a medium that contains plenty of air pockets.

A good idea is to use a 50 percent coco and 50 percent perlite mix as a medium, and adding worm castings, blood meal and any humate rich in nitrogen. You will notice your roots bounce back to life and form new fluffy root hairs, so ensure that the growing medium is dry more often than wet.

I noticed spiderwebs forming around the leaves. What is this?

This is not a web from a spider that has somehow entered the garden, but instead a full infestation of spider mites. These pests can lay eggs and multiply in a short time in the right environment, so controlling that situation with clinical effect is necessary.

When you inspect your plants, you need to look at each one in the garden and remember that the spider mites are so small that they can move from plant to plant using the air currents from the fans in the room.

Get a magnifying glass and get close up and personal in order to identify their presence; once you do, you can then try and control the problem with predators that will depopulate the spider-mite colony.

There are tiny gray flies on the surface of my growing medium. Where did they come from?

These little fly larvae can be frustrating, and they can even be inside the soil or coco from a grow store. There is not much you can do about these apart from setting up sticky fly traps. You can also keep the top of your grow medium dry and maintain constant air flow, as adult flies cannot lay their eggs in dry growing medium.

Troubleshooting for Beginner Pot Growers

Supporting branches by using a screen increases yields substantially (High Times)

I’ve been told to use a screen on my next grow for a more significant yield. Why should I do this?

Using a screen at canopy level is a growing technique in which leaves above the screen are kept and leaves below the screen are removed. The screen not only adds support for heavy branches; it also allows you to expand your canopy greatly by training your plants during the vegetative stage.

The idea with a screen is to pull the new trained shoots through each square strategically, so that when the plant flowers, the area above the screen is dedicated to producing dense buds. When you have efficiently filled every square of the screen and removed the irrelevant lower growth, the plant will now focus all its energy on the upper canopy above the screen.

Why are my temperature and humidity so high?

There can be several factors why you cannot get your temperature under 80°F and your humidity is uncontrollable. This is not good and can lead to all sorts of problems, particularly during the flowering period. If you have your ventilation system dialed in, it should remove and recycle the air in your space between 15 to 20 times per hour. One reason that many grow rooms fail is that the ventilation is not on par with what is required to remove the hot, stagnant air and to bring in carbon dioxide.

The other reason why your temperature can be sky-high is that you have your lights too low. Hot air will rise, and cool air will sink. You should have cool fresh air blowing in from an intake fan that is smaller in volume than the outtake fan. The space should perform as a vacuum—dispelling hot air from the grow lights and ballasts and replacing it with fresh air from the lowest part of the space.

Another tip is to keep your carbon filters and wall fans on even during the lights-out period. If you consider how the hot temperature and high humidity level build up, you can see that the heat cannot escape and adds to the moisture that forms on the walls and the surface of the plants. This is how powdery mildew and mold become a threat, so make sure you have constant fresh-air cycles and persistent blowing fans that mimic nature.

There’s white powder all over the leaves when I check my plants. What is this?

This is called powdery mildew (PM), a living spore that attaches itself to the surface of your leaves. This fungus will grow on fresh foliage and can cause problems to an entire grow room in a short time. PM travels through the air and requires wet and damp conditions with little airflow.

This unwanted fungus can be treated with acidic-based washes, or with hydrogen peroxide and then rubbed off. It can take several days to entirely remove a PM infection, so keeping a close eye on your plants is essential at this stage.

Troubleshooting for Beginner Pot Growers

Root-bound plants should be transplanted into fresh growing medium.

What do I do about the rusty-brown and yellow spots on my leaves?

Rusty-brown spots on the lower leaves are your plant’s way of telling you that it is deficient in calcium and magnesium. Calcium plays a huge role in the cell division of plants, alongside potassium. Use Epsom salts to boost your nutrients, or get a Cal-Mag supplement from your grow store.

The grow shop told me that my plants are showing a deficiency and that I should feed them trace elements. What do they mean?

Well, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the three primary nutrients for your plants. The other remaining nutrients, called micronutrients or trace elements, are calcium, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, boron, zinc and copper. Cannabis requires this full lineup of nutrients to be able to do complex jobs deep down at the cellular level.

My plants are root-bound. What should I do?

Root-bound pots may look good, and many naive growers will show them off with pride without realizing that their plant has become restricted. When growing in a fabric pot or a pot with air holes in the bottom, roots will have a chance to come into contact with air and, as a result, react by pruning themselves. Fibrous roots will multiply and turn back on themselves and repeat this process like a spider does when building the structure for a web.

Prepare a larger container with a new medium into which to transplant. Wet your existing grow medium and turn the plant upside down with your fingers around the base of the main stem, carefully removing the entire root ball and placing it into the new medium.

When I touch my grow medium with my hands, the soil is cold and wet. Is this good or bad?

Cold temperatures are never good when it comes to growing cannabis. A cold medium can mean several things: poor air circulation, inconsistent wet and dry periods, the breeding of anaerobic bacteria, roots unable to take up phosphorus efficiently or sparse microbial life.

You want your grow medium to be warm, and a good tip here is to use felt pots and have a temperature of 75°F around the base and tops of the plants. Lifting your pots off the ground and making sure they’re not touching the cold floors can make a big difference. Add a heater set at a low temperature to keep the air nice and warm for the roots. “Big roots mean big fruits,” as the adage goes, so keep the roots and microbes warm and happy.

If you are hand-watering or bottom-feeding, use half as much nutrient solution twice as often. This can be more beneficial in the long run than finding out the hard way and having to work backward to find out where you went wrong.

Good luck in growing your killer plants, and I hope these diagnostics have helped you already.

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Aloha Green Apothecary is Growing Stunning Legal Medical Bud in Hawaii

At the center of the Pacific Ocean, America’s 50th state has finally begun producing medicinal pot in this Polynesian archipelago. Take a trip inside Aloha Green Apothecary, the first state-licensed facility cultivating and selling medical marijuana for the patients of Hawaii.

Pot in Paradise

Nobody knows when marijuana first appeared in Hawaii, but the remote islands have been inextricably linked to the legend of the pakalolo, or numbing leaf, for centuries. The combination of rich volcanic soil, plentiful sunshine, tropical breezes and abundant rainfall proved irresistible to resourceful locals looking to produce their own tropical cannabis. Guerrilla weed growers thrived in their camouflaged hilltop plots, growing cannabis crops year-round for the insatiable appetites of the laid-back island populace.

Over time, strains brought to the islands from across the oceans adapted and acclimated to Hawaii’s unique environment and were passed down from generation to generation. These exotic varieties, such as Kona Gold, Puna Budder and, of course, the legendary Maui Wowie, inspired generations of surfers and hippies looking for the signature “electric” buzz. Old-timers still rave about the uplifting aspects of these sativa-dominant strains, eagerly reminiscing about their mildly hallucinogenic high with no “ceiling”—a toker could keep puffing and puffing and yet still reach new heights of blissful euphoria.

Recent research has found that these varieties are especially rich in THCV, dubbed the “sports car of cannabinoids” by Steep Hill Labs, due to the quick onset and relatively short duration of psychoactive effects. Strains with higher levels of THC come on quite strong and can induce panic and anxiety in some users if they aren’t careful. Some patients also report that THCV works as an appetite suppressant, which, if true, imparts this compound with tremendous potential from a pharmaceutical perspective.

Growing Legal in Hawaii

High Times

Hawaiian Punch

Hawaii’s marijuana history, however, took a turn for the worse in the 1980s with Operation Green Harvest, a decades-long campaign that saw federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies using assault helicopters, masked officers with AK-47s and more in an attempt to eradicate domestic cannabis cultivation and lock up farmers. This aggressive effort devastated the islands’ cultivation community as well as pot consumers, and many say the misguided fiasco helped lead to an epidemic of hard-drug use and a methamphetamine crisis that continues to this day. The dark days for Hawaiian dankness would continue for years until the voters finally decided to make a change.

Although Hawaii legalized medical marijuana for qualified patients and caregivers in 2000, it wasn’t until almost 20 years later, in 2016, that the state finalized the rules governing its dispensary program. These new regulations require eight state-licensed dispensaries to grow, manufacture and sell their own products to eligible patients with a valid state registration card. The one I’m visiting, Aloha Green Apothecary, opened in 2016 with a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony in downtown Honolulu on the beautiful island of Oahu. Everything it sells must be lab-tested for cannabinoid profile, pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, moisture content, microbial impurities and solvents (when applicable).

The strict guidelines also require an FBI background check for all employees or visitors, which means that for the first time in my cannabis-cultivation reporting career, I have to apply for permission from the government to visit a legal grow. As Aloha Green’s director, Helen Cho, assists me through the process, I joke about how the times have changed: When I first started covering clandestine indoor pot farms for High Times almost 20 years ago, I sometimes had to ride in the trunk of a car or wear a blindfold. Now I was politely asking the feds to allow me to pay a visit to a licensed facility!

Aloha Grows Green

Aloha Green Apothecary produces its flowers and extracts on the island of Oahu on land that was formerly part of the massive Dole Plantation. I drove out to meet this dedicated team of locals to find out more about their commitment to creating quality medicine using locally sourced materials. Upon approach, the tropical landscape gave way to a well-protected seven-acre plot surrounded by ample security fencing and cameras. The rich, dark-red volcanic soil and bright sunshine reveal this as a place where agriculture has thrived for ages and will continue to do so.

My tour begins with Aloha Green’s head grower, Daniel Richardson, excitedly explaining his philosophy for growing artisanal cannabis for the community of patients in Hawaii. The goal is to tread lightly, making use of as much local material as possible while taking advantage of the natural environment by using greenhouses to grow some of Aloha Green’s flowers. By reusing whatever they can, the Aloha team strives to treat the community and their patients with the respect they deserve.

In fact, Aloha Green is the first state licensee to use several greenhouses to grow its flowers, which has cut the cost of production by a third—all the more important as Hawaii has the most expensive electricity in the United States. The company also has plans to convert to solar for much of its power usage in the future as well. Aloha’s growers are even experimenting with cover crops such as clover to provide nitrogen while also acting as a mulch to conserve water potentially lost to evaporation. Wood chips on top of the growing medium acts as insulation from water loss as well.

Growing Legal in Hawaii

High Times

Moms and Clones

Mother plants at Aloha Green are nurtured under fluorescent and HID (high-intensity discharge) lighting and hand-fed with a nutrient solution to keep them thriving. Mother-plant vegging rooms are climate-controlled with fans, ensuring that air is circulating and not stagnant. The moms are grown in large containers so that their roots can find plenty of space and expand. This ensures that the plant up top stays healthy and continues to create new growing shoots from which to take and root clones.

Clones root in plugs in meticulously labeled plastic trays with clear lids under fluorescent lighting tubes to maintain heat and humidity for ultimate rooting success. They’re cut from healthy mother plants, dipped into rooting-hormone gel and then gently secured into their individual rooting cubes. The larger fan leaves are then trimmed down to alleviate the pressure on the cutting to maintain life. Once they’re showing healthy white roots from the bottom of their plugs, they’re ready to plant into larger pots filled with premixed growing medium and move into the vegetative stage of growth. Lower branches and leaf growth are removed to increase airflow beneath the canopy to avoid possible humidity buildup.

Growing Legal in Hawaii

High Times

Light, Soil and Water

In all, there are four indoor flowering rooms and four greenhouse sections at Aloha Green for a total of eight separate growing chambers. The indoor plants are grown under Gavita double-ended HPS (high-pressure sodium) 1,000-watt lights on a staggered flowering schedule and harvested every two weeks. Plants in the greenhouses are supplemented with lighting as well when sunlight isn’t sufficient.

For the growing medium, the team at Aloha Green make their own “supersoil” mix. It’s a combination of rich local soil plus compost from a nearby school. Because of the many microclimates on Oahu, the soil Aloha Green uses is unique and diverse with 10 of 12 soil varieties on the island represented. Volcanic pumice is added instead of perlite to loosen up the soil. This airy loam is then amended with local Hawaiian chicken manure, worm castings, fish waste, and seaweed. The company has even experimented with turning macadamia-nut shells into biochar.

Aloha Green’s goal is to use no added nutrients, and it utilizes drip emitters to provide mostly plain water directly to the root zone. Local mulch from the wood of the monkeypod tree keeps the soil surface cool and reduces water waste from evaporation. Ideally, Aloha Green will reuse its soil over and over in a closed-loop system that improves the growing medium with each growing cycle. Each plant is tagged from seed to harvest with its strain name and germination date, and wooden stakes are used to hold up branches that become weighed down with heavy flowers.

The water itself comes from a 1,000-foot-deep well tapped on the premises. The water is filtered naturally through lava rock and comes out with very low levels of any minerals or contaminants. Multiple drippers in each growing container also provide redundancy in case of a clogged tube or emitter. Wet walls and swamp coolers reduce heat in the greenhouses on really hot days and desiccant-based dehumidifiers remove moisture in the air when necessary. Plants sit on trays that allow airflow underneath the canopy to reduce the probability of mold or mildew collecting in moist air pockets. Excess water and nutrient solution easily drain out of the bottom of the containers to prevent the pots from sitting in stagnant liquid.

Growing Legal in Hawaii

High Times

Insect Controls

Chief operating officer Tai Cheng and director of integrated strategy Helen Cho explain the strict governmental regulations to me, which include requirements to grow all plants indoors, lab-testing all of the products and using only state-approved pesticides on the crops. In fact, as Cheng tells me, “We can’t have testing show more than 1 ppm [part per million] in the finished product of any banned pesticides, which is essentially the same as none. We’re also not allowed to use beneficial bugs because they are not available in abundance on the island. Strict [agricultural] controls don’t allow for them to be delivered. So we have the strict pesticide regime of Oregon without the help of beneficials.”

Aloha Green growers use beans as indicator, or trap, plants, and rosemary and other deterrent plants to repel insects as well. Workers and visitors alike wear full-body protective suits including booties and hoods to avoid any potential contamination, and yellow sticky pest strips are everywhere in order to get an early warning as to any potential pest invasions. A strict integrated pest-management system ensures that the flowers and concentrates produced here are clean and pass their tests with flying colors.

Faded Flush

As the plants at Aloha Green approach maturity, they’re aggressively flushed with plain pH-balanced water. Head grower Daniel Richardson emphasizes the importance of a proper flush in order to produce flowers that can be considered proper medicine for patients. He insists that whether Aloha Green’s end product is used for flowers, concentrates, edibles or tinctures, it’s clean and free of excess chlorophyll and nutrient-salt buildup.

As I walk around the growing chamber next to be harvested, I can see the fall colors of the fan leaves on display. These fading hues are a sure sign of a successful flush, and the end result will be buds that burn cleanly to a wispy white ash—perfect for connoisseurs and patients alike. The properly flushed plants are now in the final stretch, during which their trichome gland heads will swell with essential oils in preparation for harvest.

Growing Legal in Hawaii

High Times

Hawaiian Harvest

When the time to take down a roomful of vegetation has been determined, the plants are pre-trimmed while still alive. Large fan leaves are removed by hand from each plant in preparation for the drying process. Then branches are individually hung to dry in rooms environmentally controlled by Argus climate systems. Sensors maintain specific temperature and humidity while UV light kills off any potential pests or mold spores, and Airocide filters purify the air.

The indoor harvests are all hand-trimmed dry prior to curing, while the yield from the greenhouses is machine-trimmed using industrial Twister units and then dried on individual racks. Trim and leaf leftovers are set aside for ethanol extraction to make RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) for oral ingestion. The company also produces oil, shatter, rosin wax, balms and tinctures, so there’s something for every patient on the shelves of Aloha Green Apothecary.

The post Aloha Green Apothecary is Growing Stunning Legal Medical Bud in Hawaii appeared first on High Times.


The Official High Times Magazine STASH Awards of 2018

Our yearly roundup of the best grow gear of the year started in 1998 and was dubbed the STASH Awards (for Significant Technological Achievements in Secretive Horticulture). Behold our informed choices for the finest cultivation equipment of 2018.

STASH Awards 2018

BC Northern Nights Roommate

Best Grow Box: The BC Northern Lights Roommate

For almost 20 years, BC Northern Lights has created and innovated the highest-quality grow boxes on earth. The state-of-the-art units the company produces are still the only CSA/UL safety-approved boxes available, and the BCNL customer-service team provides round-the-clock support. Aspiring growers interested in growing a few plants for personal use will love the Roommate—a compact, lockable, odor-free and automated box on casters that’s discreetly shipped and ready to plug and play in soil or hydroponic applications.

Price: $2250

STASH Awards 2018

Ultra Trimmer

Best Trimming Machine: The Ultra Trimmer

The biggest knock on industrial trimmers has always been that they destroy the gland heads containing the essential oils we’re after. The units from Ultra Trimmer simulate scissors and avoid manhandling precious flowers while preserving the trichomes. The company’s even been giving live demonstrations with microscopes at our Cannabis Cups for over five years to show how gently the machines work. It’s no secret why Ultra Trimmers are the first products to be federally patented specifically for trimming cannabis.

$4,250, Collective; $8,000, Industrial

 

STASH Awards 2018

Quest Dehumidifier

Best Dehumidifiers: Quest Dehumidifiers

High relative humidity causes excess moisture and condensation that can ruin a ganja garden quicker than a rabbit gets fucked. Avoid potential issues with mold, mildew, and pests by employing one of the powerful dehumidifiers from Quest, each built to powerfully yet efficiently remove water from the air. At Quest, there’s a unit for every size and application, including portable and overhead versions. So take control of your environment and reap the benefits of a proper grow room climate.

Prices vary

STASH Awards 2018

Stash Box

Best Grow Tent: The Stash Box from HighDroGro

If you seek an affordable grow tent that’s easy to assemble and take down, look no further than the Stash Box. This sturdy tent is built with three windows, heavy-duty lightproof zippers, a ducting port for venting and air-purification equipment, and a removable inner flood-prevention insert tray. It’s shipped in a compact and discreet box with everything you need to get growing including T5 fluorescent lights to keep heat at a minimum, carbon filters, humidity and temperature monitors, and quiet but efficient fans.

Price: $665

STASH Awards 2018

Wiggle Worm Soil Builder

Best Worm Castings: Wiggle Worm Soil Builder

Nature provides the best plant food, and smart farmers know that earthworms are the workhorse of a productive organic garden. Rich in nutrients and trace minerals, worm poop makes for a perfect mild fertilizer and soil amendment. The odor-free castings in Wiggle Worm Soil Builder come with a money-back guarantee—so give them a try and your plants will be thankful. Mix the castings into your soil and top-dress your plants as needed for the best results.

$9.10, 4.5 lbs.; $15.49, 15 lbs.; $26.89, 30 lbs.

STASH Awards 2018

Suite Leaf Finish

Best Flavor Enhancer: Suite Leaf Finish

Proper feeding during the middle to late stages of flowering can make or break a harvest due to the specific nutritional requirements of blooming cannabis plants. Suite Leaf Finish is a vegan formulation designed to naturally enhance essential-oil production during this all-important phase of growth. Perfect for soil or hydroponics, this nutritional supplement greatly improves the flavor and scent of your flowers and will increase the terpene profile significantly. Grow loud and finish strong!

$12.82, 250 ml.; $24.65, qt.; $56.95, gal.

STASH Awards 2018

Green Cleaner

Best Pest Control: Green Cleaner from Central Coast Garden Products

We’re always looking for safe and natural ways to combat pests and powdery mildew in our gardens. Central Coast’s Green Cleaner kills mature bugs and their eggs while discouraging and repelling mold as well. The mixture coats and suffocates spider mites, whiteflies, aphids, broad mites, and russet mites. Spray it as a foliar application as needed, making sure to drench the surface of your medium and the underside of your leaves. Also, try Central Coast’s Root Cleaner to fight pathogens and pests at the soil level.

Prices vary

STASH Awards 2018

Mykos from Xtreme Gardening

Best Mycorrhizal Product: Mykos from Xtreme Gardening

Organic growers have learned the benefits of colonizing their living soil medium with a beneficial fungal network. These microbes work in conjunction with plant roots to break down nutrients and also act as an inoculant to protect the plant from pests, pathogens, and disease. OMRI-certified Mykos contains a single species found to help store plant food and water while enhancing root uptake and increasing yields substantially. Available as a granular spread or a wettable powder, this miracle product works wonders.

Prices vary

STASH Awards 2018

Under Current Evolution 9XL

Best Hydroponic System: Under Current Evolution 9XL from Current Culture H2O

Explosive hydroponic growth rates result when plant roots have access to highly oxygenated nutrient solution. The patented Sub-Current Culture system in the UCE9XL utilizes premium pumps to recirculate a supercharged fluid rich with dissolved oxygen for previously unattainable levels of absorption. The nine-plant model is perfect for a 10′ x 10′ room or tent under four 600-watt HID lights, and the XL version provides extra room for lateral growth, which greatly increases yields.

Starting at $2,054

STASH Awards 2018

Advanced Nutrients

Best Wetting Agent: Wet Betty from Advanced Nutrients

The plant scientists at Advanced Nutrients understand that when plant-food solution sits on top of hard soil, roots can’t properly absorb the vital liquid and food. Wet Betty, a non-ionic surfactant, lessens surface tension while softening and enhancing water droplets for better uptake, leading to stronger growth and bigger harvests. Great as a soil drench or foliar feed, Wet Betty helps your nutes permeate more efficiently and effectively to maximize yields.

Prices vary

STASH Awards 2018

Can-Filters

Best Air Filtration: Can-Filters

Clean air is absolutely crucial to any successful marijuana-growing op large or small. Can-Filters have been at the forefront of ventilation and filtration for nearly three decades, and the company is still innovating with its line of dependable filters, fans, ducting and accessories. The pelletized and activated charcoal in the units acts like a sponge, removing odor particles from the spent air and scrubbing it clean of any telltale scents before being expelled out of the space.

Starting at $142.13

STASH Awards 2018

Solis Tek

Best Grow Lighting: Solis Tek

Solis Tek has been at the forefront of indoor grow-lighting equipment research and technology for over a decade. Its complete line of products includes the best digital HID (high-intensity discharge) lighting systems including HPS (high-pressure sodium) and MH (metal halide) fixtures as well as cutting-edge efficient CMH (ceramic metal halide) units with both single and double-ended lamps. Solis Tek’s controllers, remote ballasts and reflectors make safely growing cannabis with multiple lighting systems heat-free and simple.

Prices vary

The post The Official High Times Magazine STASH Awards of 2018 appeared first on High Times.


The High Times Interview: Dr. Dina & Corey Thomas

Dr. Dina is the founder of the Alternative Herbal Health Services dispensary in Los Angeles as well as the inspiration for the Nancy Botwin character on the groundbreaking pot-centric show, Weeds. A noted cannabis activist, Dr. Dina has made a name for herself as both a business owner and a philanthropist. Here, setting aside the traditional HT interview format, Dr. Dina talks to her colleague Corey Thomas, the founder and CEO of the Honey Pot cannabis company and winner of multiple High Times Cannabis Cups.

Dr. Dina: I’m honored right now to be here. I’ve watched you blossom over the years as an entrepreneur. I’ve seen you build your brand from the ground up. I’m really proud of you. I think that you set a great example for so many women in the industry. And I know that as a mom, you have something stronger to fight for. You should be pretty damn proud of yourself.

Corey: Thank you.

Some girl love—we got to put it out there because it’s true. We don’t always express how proud we are of one another as much as we should. What you’ve accomplished is really impressive. And it’s very difficult without taking on millions of dollars from the very beginning. But what I really want to know is: How do you think the role of women in cannabis has evolved in the last 10 years?

I wouldn’t say that our roles have necessarily changed much. I’ve been in the space for close to 20 years now and there’s always been strong women—the mothers, the sisters and the wives that made the industry what it is today. They’ve always been the ones that were trusted to run the [businesses]; some of the most successful dispensaries in California are run by women—current company included. We’ve always been integral parts of the space.

I think the real evolution over the last 10 years is society’s point of view on what we’re doing. The lack of education before and the stigmas that we dealt with created a fear-based lifestyle for us. And now with the changes in legislation, we’re able to come out of the closet a little bit more and step into the light and build businesses. But I think that’s the same for all genders. We’re all in a safer space now, at least here in California.

I agree. I’ve seen a huge difference. Twenty years ago, I feel like most of the women were stay-at-home moms, and they would take care of their kids while their husbands would grow. Because if something happened, they would go to jail. So the wives would be at home with the kids. That’s a situation we’ve had to fight for so many years. But eventually women started really getting involved in helping their husbands or their boyfriends build their brands. And all of a sudden, the women kind of stepped out from behind the men. Like, “Let us handle this. We can do this better.”

Oh, yeah, we’ve been here the whole time.

We’ve always been here. But now we’re in the front. It’s interesting, when you go to the High Times Cannabis Cups, you don’t see a lot of guys that show up to work the booths; you see girls. People want that because females are friendlier. They’re just naturally more nurturing and [people] connect with that.

Yeah, I mean this is a compassion industry first.

That’s what I think makes the difference. I think the compassion side of it is where the women really shine.

Oh, definitely. I will say numbers-wise, there’s probably more women working in the industry overall, because of those budtenders and all the women working in the retail space.

Yeah. So what do you think are the biggest misconceptions people have about you?

Oh, man. I mean, I’ve been labeled a stoner for the longest time. I think you can probably relate.

I understand that.

Ignorance created a lot of misconceptions about who we are and what it meant to have a relationship with cannabis. I think that the legalization and the change of legislation and us being able to step out and show that we are powerful businesswomen who have been able to accomplish things against those odds [challenges] the lazy-stoner stigma that we all dealt with.

Productive stoners.

Yeah, I mean, cannabis consumers. I have a relationship with cannabis that is extremely special to me. Whatever society wants to call us, that’s on them.

How were you first introduced to cannabis?

My parents are actually in the space.

So you had a head start then.

Well, honestly, D.A.R.E. class was the first time I heard about cannabis. I think that’s how most of us heard about drugs, even though they thought that they were teaching us what to avoid. Other than D.A.R.E., my parents were always really honest. But they didn’t share that side of their life with me. Because it wasn’t safe to do that. You don’t tell your kids because they just like to talk.

The first time I ever consumed cannabis was in the parking lot of a bowling alley… And it was actually from my parent’s roommate. So technically, it was through my parents. It was the summer before freshman year of high school. I turned 14 that year, and I never looked back from that point forward.

Bowling was very fun that night.

You know, I think the first time you consume cannabis, you’re so concerned about what it is you’re going to be feeling. I hit it one time, and the whole time I was like, “Am I high? Am I high? Is this what it is to be high?”

I was so paranoid.

I mean, it was introduced to me by someone that my family trusted. And my parents never looked down upon it or said anything bad about it. They were always honest about the medicinal benefits, but at the same time, I knew that we couldn’t talk about it, that this was a part of our lives that was a secret. It’s a different time now, for sure.

How do they look at your career? Are they blown away by what you built?

I would say so. I think that my parents are really proud. I hope they are. I feel like I owe it to them. There have been a lot of changes over the last 20 years. [We can’t forget about] the generation that survived prohibition and helped to make the space what it is today.

We gotta make sure they’re okay.

Yeah. My family [and I have seen] the dark sides, you know? I mean, this is all puppies and rainbows.

What do you think are the biggest achievements in terms of marijuana image and portrayal?

Well, first and foremost, shout out to High Times. High Times Magazine has been around for longer than I’ve been alive. [For 44 years,] they have been teaching the world about the wonders of cannabis. Not only cannabis, but also the other wonderful natural substances that we can use to enjoy life a little bit more.

Other than that, in the last 10 years, Sanjay Gupta’s docuseries and how monumental that was [that he admitted] his ignorance and that he was wrong.

Isn’t it crazy, though? Have you noticed when you’re driving down the street you look up and all these billboards are for cannabis brands?

It’s amazing. I mean, we’re in national publications. Newsweek, we’ve been in National Geographic, we’re on Netflix [Disjointed]. Thanks to you. You know, there’s Bong Appétit on Viceland, which is a show that is teaching people how to infuse their own food with cannabis. It’s amazing.

Let’s talk about product development with your advertising. The Honey Pot bear was that famous bear that everyone knew. And it was something that really helped brand your product. Everyone knew you guys, you stood out as the Honey Pot. But as everyone knows, with Prop. 64, and our new regulations, we cannot appeal to children. And so we had to say goodbye to the bear…

Yes, exactly. In 2012, when I started Honey Pot, I had to store the honey. The bears are kind of synonymous [with honey]. When I made that first batch, I just poured it into bear containers. It became the Honey Pot bear.

Then we won our first High Times Cannabis Cup in 2015, for Honey Pot Bear Balm. So that solidified the bear as being a part of who we were. Fast-forward to 2018 and the bear is considered to be attractive to children. The Bureau of Cannabis Control here in California has quite a few regulations of how edibles need to be packaged and labeled and so on.

We’ve committed to evolving. But it’s creative, like the creative process of building a brand, and building that package, it’s something that is really enjoyable. The regulations have taken a lot of that creativity out of it, but it still is amazing. I’m really happy with our new branding and our new logo and our new packaging, and I’m really excited about the future.

Well, people have always loved your product, Corey. It’s not about the container. It was cute and kitschy, and I think it opened up a lot of people to trying a product that they were scared of. So thank you for that, because there were a lot of older women that came in and they were really scared, they didn’t even know what to do. “Here, we have CBD honey, just put it in your tea.” That opened them up.

We were microdosing way before, and now everyone is forced [into] microdosing. We’ve been doing it for a long time. But cannabis consumers are smart. They’ll purchase something because it’s in a pretty package one time or because it has a celebrity’s name on it, but if it is not a good product, they’re not going to buy it again. The products speak for themselves there. I just try and use ingredients that are as medicinal as possible. And if they work well together and have a beautiful marriage and can help the consumer just feel better, that’s really the goal.

What would you like your legacy to be?

Well, first and foremost, my son is definitely my legacy—third-generation cannabis-educated. He’s 11, so he’s not anywhere in the space nor will he be, but I’ve always been honest with him about who I am and who our family is.

Well, you’ve had a legitimate business for a large part of his life, but that business has been kind of in the gray area.

I’ve always told him what I did and the products that I made. I was honest with him that you can’t talk about these things, because not everyone believes that mommy’s helping people. That was hard for him to understand. It’s hard for all of us to understand…

It’s really hard.

It doesn’t make sense. But other than my wonderful child, who I hope to leave as a better version of myself, I just hope that my relationship with cannabis and the products that I make could just help one person’s life a little, make their life a little bit easier, a little bit more peaceful. We all want to make a small difference here in the world. If I’m able to transform my personal relationship with cannabis into making people’s lives easier, then I think I succeeded at life.

So what do you think about the current censorship that is being directed at cannabis, like on YouTube and other platforms? There’s a massive movement that’s trying to [tell] the truth about cannabis and they’re not allowing us to do so.

I think there are two sides to that, because we were just talking about Netflix and Viceland, and all of these amazing things that are happening. But at the same time there’s no legislation and there are no rules for how this information is supposed to be broadcast. At the end of the day, big business still runs our government and our entertainment industry. I feel like there are a lot of monopolies in this country that would be affected by the legalization of cannabis.

So we’ve been talking about equality. We know there’s still some sexism and misogynistic behavior going on in the industry. Do you feel that we’re being treated equally?

We are equal, we are part of this industry. That’s how I see it.

I remember with my first shop, I would have a vendor come in and I would try to negotiate a price with them. They’d be like, “$5,000.” I’m like, “I’ll give you $3,500.” And they would look at me like, “She’s trying to lowball me” or something, and they would say, “Where’s your husband?”

Oh, yeah, it still happens today. I almost feel like it’s a benefit to be underestimated. Sometimes. I mean, we’ve been in this game a long time. And, you know, yes, there is sexism, sexism exists.

Do you have any thoughts about the budding female cannabis social-influencer market versus the female growers and owner-operators?

Well, I mean, first of all, we didn’t have social media. We had to have code names and burner phones. And I was taught not to say anything about anything.

All photos are evidence against you in court…

There’s been a big shift in social media that has helped to educate the masses about the wonders of cannabis. And it’s been great for brands when Instagram was first going and there weren’t the algorithms [it has now]. You’re really able to speak directly to the consumer and let them know who you are and tell your story, and I think that’s been really great for cannabis patients. Anyone that’s considered an influencer has a tremendous responsibility. You’re influencing a generation.

Where do you want to be five years from now?

I know that I always want to be a part of the cannabis space. It’s just a part of who I am.

Where do you see Honey Pot five years from now? What do you have in store for us?

We recently partnered with a beautiful organic facility, and we’re now manufacturing all our products in a state-of-the-art facility. So we’re very, very excited about that. There’s lots of growth and amazing things happening at Honey Pot. We’re coming out with a bunch of new products and the old favorites are coming back.

How does the packaging change for you?

We are now in opaque bottles with a measuring cup so the consumer can measure their 10-milligram doses.

OK, last question: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Just be confident. Believe in yourself. Don’t believe in that stoner stigma that everyone else does. It was a big moment for me when I won my first Cannabis Cup. It made all the struggles and stigmas worth it. It felt like I was on the right path and supposed to be here.

This feature was published in the November 2018 issue of High Times magazine, subscribe right here.

The post The High Times Interview: Dr. Dina & Corey Thomas appeared first on High Times.


The Journey of Cannabis From Soil to Oil

Organic Fire on the Mountain

It’s no secret that the Emerald Triangle, in Northern California, has been the reigning champ of cannabis production in the United States for decades. However, with the advent of legal recreational pot in California, the rules of the game have changed. Growers are now forced to comply with legalization restrictions while hopefully not losing sight of what should be the goal—growing great pot. For many of us, this is a breath of fresh air, literally, as chemical fertilizers and pesticides will no longer fly thanks to lab testing. If you’re new to farming or transitioning from nonorganic farming practices, growing organically is the highest ideal a farmer can strive for. It’s essentially replicating the soil biology in the natural world around us, but in our garden beds. From developing good soil and fertilizers to harvesting and trimming for quality hash production, we’ll share some secrets and tips on how a couple of mom-and-pop operations are still getting it done the organic way.

About an hour outside the town of Willow Creek, up one of the many long dirt roads and perched on a boreal-forest ridge, sits Love and Laughter Farms. The farm is an impressive tract of forested land that rises from a creek and valley to a craggy mountaintop, and it is home to black bears, cougars and fishers. Old-growth Douglas fir and madrone surround the two gardens that sit high atop the mountain at an impressive 3,900 feet.

Love and Laughter was founded by Stephen DiTuro and his partner, Brianne Aalders, as a small medical farm in the late 2000s. With backgrounds in chemistry, environmental engineering and herbal medicine, the couple have always aimed at producing medical-grade full-sun flowers with a respect for sustainable practices. Now almost a decade later, the crew at Love and Laughter is navigating the waters of legalization, including the emerging recreational market, and learning to embrace California’s new regulatory landscape.

The Journey of Cannabis From Soil to Oil

A wall of drying plants releases its moisture; Ian Stout

The Soil Is Everything

One can spend a lifetime reading about soil—and if you’re a farmer, you should. For those embracing legalization and organic growing methods, proper soil development begins with knowing what you’ve got. Whether you’ve just had your first load of soil dumped or you’re an experienced grower with established beds, you should have a soil sample tested by a local soil-testing lab.

Through the analysis, the lab establishes the pH balance, nutrient content, fungal and bacterial count, and soil composition. This is especially important if the soil might have had chemical fertilizers and pesticides running through it in the past. Many of those compounds are insoluble, or they break down extremely slowly, and can stick around for many years. Even clone stock from mother plants that were treated with conventional fertilizers and nonorganic pest-management products can introduce contaminants into a grow site, which can lead to a dirty test at market time.

If you’re pretty sure that your beds are clean and want to forgo the soil test, an electric soil or electrode meter, available at your local hardware store, is highly recommended to help dial in your pH. pH levels are the key to unlocking a plant’s ability to synthesize the provided nutrients. For outdoor growing, the soil pH should ideally be in the range of 6.4-6.8. All too often, nutrient deficiencies in the growth cycle can be traced right back to a pH imbalance.

There are essentially two kinds of outdoor growing styles when it comes to garden beds: aboveground or in ground, or, to put it in grower parlance, pots or trenches. Both have their pros and cons, but trench beds can be developed over time. The idea is to have soil that consists of the necessary components of organic matter, minerals, air and water, but also contains a healthy mix of bacteria, fungi and worms. Essentially, it’s the creation of a whole permaculture environment in the growing beds that, if properly maintained, will give back to the plants year after year.

The key minerals or macronutrients for marijuana are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or NPK. Nitrogen helps spur growth and photosynthesis in the plants’ vegetative cycle. Initially during this phase, the nitrogen level in the fertilizer should be raised, as the plants will require more of it as they grow through the summer. Phosphorus is needed for nutrient uptake, and it also has its part in the vegetative cycle, but it’s usually associated with flowering. Initially during the vegetative stage, phosphorus levels should remain lower.

As flowering approaches, nitrogen should be dialed back and phosphorus and potassium levels increased. Sometimes overlooked, potassium takes care of the plant’s roots, metabolism and immune system. During flowering, phosphorus and potassium will be the driving force in flower or bud production. The amount of phosphorus and potassium used during this time has a direct impact on the growth and final size of the buds.

Dry and liquid amendments, including compost teas, should be used as organic fertilizers. Dry amendments, which are used as a general fertilizer and soil conditioner, are more insoluble and break down slowly over time. Compost teas are like a quick hit, and because they are soluble or water-based, the plant will be available to synthesize or use the nutrients more quickly. Both types of amendments can be used on a schedule throughout the season, but the teas should be used to quickly correct for deficiencies or to add small amounts of nutrients at different stages of the growth cycle when nutrient requirements change.

The Journey of Cannabis From Soil to Oil

Growing beds are filled with organic material in mounds; Ian Stout

So How Do They Do It?

The foundation of Love and Laughter’s soil begins with a growing method called Hügelkultur, or “hill mound,” which is kind of a mix between the in-ground and aboveground methods. Hügelkultur is an ancient practice, used by many native peoples around the world, but it gained its most recent popularity through farmers in Germany and Eastern Europe. The basic idea of Hügelkultur is to bury wood and other organic plant material in a trench beneath the growing bed. Soil and other nutrient compounds are then added and mounded slightly above the existing ground level. As the wood matter slowly rots underground, it creates a long-term source of nutrients rich in nitrogen, increases water retention, helps aerate the soil and produces heat that will keep roots happy as fall temperatures drop during the flowering season.

For the gardens at Love and Laughter Farms, Hügelkultur was implemented in a big way. For the bed rows, five-foot-wide trenches were dug five feet deep, then filled with various types of oak (except for black oak, which has excessive toxins in its acorns). After the wood and leaf matter were placed at the bottom of the trench, organic mushroom soil, loaded with earthworms, was added on top of the wood base. Next, mealworm castings from an organic avocado farm in Southern California were mixed into the mushroom soil. Finally, a 50/50 mix of organic compost and potting soil, from a local landscape supplier, was added on top—just the tip of the iceberg of the Hügelkultur trench. The soil was then mounded over with the peak of the bed sitting about 16-20 inches above ground level. As the plant matter underneath decomposes with the help of proper amendments, the soil is rich in life and singing.

In the spring, the beds are weeded of their winter ground cover of alfalfa. Love and Laughter Farms practices a “no-till” method of farming. This means that other than the removal of the ground cover, there’s no root-ball removal or yearly tillage of the soil as is commonly practiced in modern commercial and home farming. After the harvest, stalks are cut as close to the soil surface as possible. By not disturbing the soil, healthy bacteria, fungi and worms are not harmed and allowed to flourish.

Put Them in the Ground

After the beds have been prepped and fertilized, and the proper spacing has been determined, the plants are ready to go in the ground. For each plant, a hole four times the size of the root-ball is dug out of the beds. The soil is saved and mixed with composted goat manure, mealworm castings, mushroom compost and mycorrhizal powder. This will surround the plant with an added mix of bacteria and fungi along with what’s already present in the soil. The manure is composted before being directly applied, which removes excessive ammonia and nitrogen levels that can burn plant roots, and it also kills grass seeds that are still alive in the manure, saving the farmers many hours’ worth of weeding and nutrient loss to pesky weeds. Once the plants are in the ground, they’ll receive only water for the first week or so as the roots establish themselves.

The Journey of Cannabis From Soil to Oil

Supercritical CO2 oil fills up cartridges for vape pens; Ian Stout

The Magic of Tea

As the roots take hold and the young plants begin to grow, custom compost teas are introduced into the feeding regimen. Although there’s a wide variety of great concentrated premixed solutions on the market, Love and Laughter Farms’ custom tea consists of, but is not limited to, bat guano, earthworm and mealworm castings, yucca extract, silica, bacteria, fungal spores, bone meal, oyster shells, dolomite lime, fish concentrate and emulsion, seaweed powder and molasses, which is a chelating agent. The compost tea is brewed in 60-gallon pickle barrels in the shade for 24 hours at an ideal temperature of 72°F. Aeration with a standard aquarium pump and air-stone diffusers produces oxygen supersaturation. When the tea is done, it’s hand-watered into the plant wells through a standard inline feeder, usually a quart dispersed throughout 150 gallons of water.

Initially, the tea is richer in nitrogen, but a couple weeks before flowering begins the nitrogen is dialed back and a higher-phosphorus bat-guano solution is maintained. Some people like dialing the nitrogen way back, but Love and Laughter actually keeps it somewhat high. This keeps the plants stronger and more disease- and pest-resistant throughout the plant’s natural life cycle.

Prune Her for Production

There are many techniques out there for pruning marijuana for higher yields. The preferred method at Love and Laughter is a technique called bending. The structure of the plants will vary depending on whether they’re indica- or sativa-dominant and how far along they are, but essentially young plants will have a main stem referred to as an apical meristem and then sub-stems called laterals. Traditionally, growers cut main or apical meristems, from which several more meristems will grow. These additional stems are the key to creating larger colas versus one main cola on an unpruned plant.

The Journey of Cannabis From Soil to Oil

Cherry Pie is a well-known strain in Humboldt County; Ian Stout

Cutting, however, can stress the plant for sometimes up to a week or more. By bending the main stem 90 degrees 7-10 days after the young plants are in, auxiliary growth points are created. And from this auxiliary growth point, several more meristems will begin to grow (eventually forming additional colas). This process is ideally repeated three or four times over the vegetative cycle, but should be completed a couple weeks before flowering begins.

Another important aspect which falls under pruning is defoliating. Yellow leaves will develop on marijuana plants for a variety of reasons, but the most common are due to nitrogen deficiencies, overwatering, a pH imbalance or shock from cold weather. It’s easy to correct for these problems, but leaves that have begun to die are removed before they start to mold.

Another defoliating technique that increases yield is the selective removal of fan leaves throughout the plant. This creates better airflow and allows more light into the inner and lower canopy, which in turn creates larger buds in places that might usually end up with larf (spindly lesser buds). By paying attention to the plants throughout the day, farmers can see which ones receive less light and remove those selectively. Lastly, if the bottom third of lower branches are removed (which usually produce larf anyhow), a plant will divert its energy up to the apical buds. This results in healthier colas and bigger yields.

Flush Away

A common mistake that novice growers make is improperly flushing before the end of flowering. Flushing helps the weed burn cleaner and improves aroma and flavor. Different strains, even different phenotypes of a same strain, will have different flowering times. By knowing the flowering time of the strain you’re growing, you can subtract two weeks from the total flowering time. Also, paying attention to the trichomes will help as well. If they look big and sticky but are still clear, it’s a good point to stop fertilizing. Love and Laughter harvests when about half of the resin glands have turned from milky to amber. During the last two weeks, a good trick is to flush by alternating between water alone and water mixed with humic acid, fulvic acid and molasses. This mixture will help break down the remaining insoluble fertilizer still in the soil and stems.

Golden Ending

Until very recently, many farmers discarded their trim and waste material. But in a short time, this material has become a sought-after commodity for those with knowledge of extraction techniques. While nugs may yield the most flavorful concentrates, hand trim and even machine trim can be more valuable to an extractor’s bottom line.

Take a half day’s drive down Highway 101 to Route 1, at Monterey Bay, and you will find an enclave of cutting-edge extraction artists. Among them is John Ollila of Santa Cruz Concentrates and Hushpuff. An early adopter of CO2 extraction, Ollila is fighting the wave of investment dollars pouring into many large hydrocarbon labs that are tanking concentrate prices in parallel with what farmers have experienced with flower rates in recent years.

Love and Laughter Farms provides properly cured, organic, pesticide-free trim that is ideal for supercritical CO2 extraction. Raw material is sorted for remaining stems and fan leaves before being vacuum-sealed to preserve terpenes. While many manufacturers start with fresh frozen material to achieve a “live resin” or “sauce,” this is only a viable option for solvent-based extractions—mainly butane, though ethanol extracts are on the rise. California has always frowned on hydrocarbon (butane and propane) extractions because of the risk to public safety, and it should be noted that this is still an illegal practice without a local hazardous-materials license and applicable state license. The rest of us are allowed to use CO2, ethanol, water, manual press and sifting techniques.

Properly cured trim will be free of excess water, which is detrimental to most of the above-mentioned techniques. Using a liquid CO2 extraction machine fabricated by Paradigm Supercritical Innovations of Springfield, Oregon, Santa Cruz Concentrates prefers to operate extraction chambers at roughly 2,700 psi and 100°F. Ollila’s unit, named Lucy, is powered by a 15-horsepower compressor that keeps the flow rate high. It takes roughly 7.6 liters of supercritical CO2 to extract one gram of THC, so patience for this process is necessary while being limited to processing a maximum of 101 pounds in a 16-hour day.

Many turnkey CO2 systems that allow an operator to walk away and return a day later to a completed extraction cycle run upward of 4,500 psi and 130°F; while this will allow for a more complete extraction of cannabinoids, it also pulls many impurities that decrease the initial potency of the extract and make it more difficult to achieve maximum oil potency after refinement. There are, of course, solutions to any problem if you have deep enough pockets. Wiped-film units are becoming increasingly common, and, similar to turnkey CO2 systems, they allow operators with little or no chemistry knowledge to hop in the game and refine crude oil to shockingly potent distillate.

The Journey of Cannabis From Soil to Oil

The final product—a golden concentrate that’s ready to dab; Ian Stout

Clean Oil

Here on the Central Coast, Santa Cruz Concentrates does it the old-fashioned way. Supervised by an intelligent chemist, the short-path distillation of a properly dewaxed and bleached CO2 extract yields just as potent oil as a wiped-film unit running crude B/PHO. Pressures and temperatures on the lower end of the supercritical spectrum during extraction also allow Santa Cruz Concentrates to achieve a shatter with no additional post-processing required other than a few hours in a vacuum oven to remove residual water content. And in an exciting move to more accessible cannabis-derived terpenes, innovation continues further as Paradigm has just provided an in-line terpene trap to add to its extraction units.

With all the dollars flooding into this industry with the goal of mass-producing marijuana vaporizers, Santa Cruz Concentrates is just fine with being a micro-brew, proud to source from small organic farmers, like those at Love and Laughter Farms, who take pride in their process.

Patients and recreational users should be encouraged to be picky about what they inhale; while our lungs may be able to take some hits, they are very sensitive and, especially in a smoker’s life, often the most susceptible to compromise by heavy metals or carcinogenic pesticides. Know your grower and your extract artist. Demand test results. Be very wary of bottom-dollar extracts. And #puffon.

This feature was published in the November 2018 issue of High Times magazine, subscribe right here.

The post The Journey of Cannabis From Soil to Oil appeared first on High Times.


Oil Change: Can Vape Pens Go Green?

Recreationally legal in 10 states and medically available in 33 (plus the District of Columbia), cannabis products are in demand more than ever. Policy changes have resulted in headaches for business owners and farmers, but the slow erosion of barriers preventing consumers from purchasing cannabis has allowed the industry to boom and new technologies to emerge.

One of the biggest changes has been the introduction and incredible success of disposable vaporizers and oil cartridges. These devices are convenient and relatively odorless, making them a hit with consumers. But they also create a host of sustainability issues akin to Keurig disposable pods, which revolutionized coffee drinking while injecting massive amounts of waste into landfills.

Flower may still be the first thing many nonsmokers picture when they think about cannabis, but the manager at BARC, a Los Angeles collective near Beverly Hills, estimates that 75-80 percent of the store’s sales comprise vape pens and cartridges. On the lower end of the spectrum, Jay Handal, a manager at the Erba Collective in West LA, told High Times that vaping-related products comprise 36 percent of his store’s sales.

Bloom is one of the numerous companies competing for market share in this growing sector of the cannabis industry. Founded in 2013, Bloom had a breakout year in 2016, according to chief revenue officer Casey Ly. At the beginning of that year, the company had roughly 25 retail accounts, but by year’s end its products were available in nearly 150 dispensaries across California, New Mexico and Washington.

The company manufactures ready-to-use disposable vapes, but Ly said that half- and full-gram cartridges pre-loaded with concentrates to use with a rechargeable battery are Bloom’s best sellers.

Bloom performs its extractions and loads the cartridges with concentrate at its warehouse in Northern California, but the company relies on Chinese manufacturers to develop and produce the various device components. Ly conceded that there are “very few…high-quality manufacturers.”

“There’s maybe one or two innovators and then a lot of replicators,” Ly said. “So there are a couple companies that make advancement in terms of the technology, but then a lot of other manufacturers basically take whatever advancement the other companies made and replicate it.”

There are factories throughout China, but 95 percent of the world’s e-cigarettes (which are refashioned into vapes for the cannabis industry) are produced in Shenzhen, a major metropolitan area that links Hong Kong to the rest of mainland China in Guangdong Province. Chief among them is Shenzhen Smoore Technology Limited, which claims on its website that it dedicates 15 percent of its annual revenue to research and development in order to “maintain the leadership position” it has in the market. Ly said Bloom and many other prominent vape brands rely on Smoore to manufacture their cartridges, batteries and disposable units.

The exterior casing of these vapes is typically made of easily recycled materials like plastic, glass or ceramic, but if there’s residual cannabis material inside they are legally prohibited from being included in traditional recycling facilities. Even if conscientious stoners place finished cartridges in their blue bins, they’re more likely to end up in a landfill than a recycling plant.

One potential solution is to place recycling boxes inside cannabis retail locations for consumers to dispose of their finished products. Vape companies like Dosist already offer these services, and Ly said that Bloom is preparing to launch its own program in the upcoming months.

Ever since Bloom switched to ethanol-based extraction processes, the company has a massive amount of alcohol it can use to properly clean used cartridges. The plan is to launch a collection program in which cartridges from various brands will be gathered and eventually transported to Bloom’s Northern California facility to be purged of residual cannabis material through an ethanol wash. After all that work (something recycling facilities won’t do), the cartridges are clean enough to go through state-run recycling programs.

But no matter how far companies are willing to go to ensure their products are recycled, it still falls on consumers to actually bring their used cartridges in, something that many of them seem hesitant to do.

The BARC manager voiced this sentiment, explaining that people rarely use the recycling boxes in the shop—provided to BARC by Dosist—and that they only get picked up once every few months despite how many cartridges the store sells.

To reward customers who do utilize the recycling boxes, the Erba Collective has a credit program with various vendors. If someone brings back cartridges from brands like Select or Pure Extracts, Handal said the store will credit the consumer with $1 off the purchase of their next cartridge from the same brand. (Returned Dosist cartridges score a $5 credit toward the consumer’s next purchase.)

Unfortunately, even if the cartridges are collected and cleaned so that cannabis waste cannot be detected, making it acceptable for recycling, there’s a chance the materials still won’t be properly disposed of. After China’s announcement last July that the state would no longer import materials like paper and plastic to recycle as the state tries to improve health and environmental conditions, the United States and other countries are scrambling to figure out what to do with their waste.

In 2016, China imported 7.35 million metric tons of plastic from the world market, and a recent Science Advances study estimates that “111 million metric tons of plastic waste will be displaced by 2030” as a result of the change.

According to another Science Advances study published the same month China announced the changes, only 9 percent of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced over the last six decades has been recycled. In 2014 alone, only 3.17 million tons of the 33.25 million tons of plastic generated were recycled. Most plastic, which usually takes over 400 years to break down, sits in landfills or spills out into the environment, and that doesn’t even include the eight million tons that are added to the ocean every year. The study also found that half of all plastic becomes trash less than a year after being manufactured, meaning most disposable plastic items aren’t being recycled.

SinglePoint is hoping to make things a bit easier. A tech company that primarily develops mobile payment systems, SinglePoint started purchasing ancillary cannabis businesses in 2014. Wil Ralston, the company’s president, said they were “looking at doing some ‘Uberization’ of trash” when they realized just how much waste there was in the cannabis industry. Instead of being recycled, reusable components like aluminum and glass were being thrown away, and Ralston saw an opportunity to develop a solution.

To come up with a fix for the problem, SinglePoint turned to Circonomy Solutions, a consulting firm located in Phoenix, AZ, dedicated to establishing sustainable practices and circular markets. John Trujillo and David Hertzberg, co-founders of Circonomy, both have useful experience in waste management. Hertzberg is the founder of Sonora Waste, a company that focused on waste diversion away from landfills and which was bought out by Waste Management in 2017, while Trujillo was Phoenix’s public-works director, focusing on landfill diversion and “developing solutions other than waste disposal.”

In order to confront the challenge, Trujillo and Hertzberg had to become better acquainted with the scope of the issue. Medical marijuana has only been legal in Arizona since 2010, and a state law even restricted access to medical cannabis on college campuses until May 2018, when the state’s Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.

Upon doing more research, Hertzberg realized just how multifaceted the problem is. Since most of these delivery devices have electrical components and lithium batteries, it’s also an e-waste issue because most of these pieces end up in landfills instead of facilities equipped to recycle electronics.

“One of the things that we don’t want to do is create an entire new process,” said Hertzberg. “The best way you can create an effective recycling program is to weave it into existing models and existing processes.”

Numerous parts of vapes can be recycled, but the trace amounts of scrap metals like stainless steel, copper and iron are likely the most valuable. Since each device only has miniscule amounts of each metal, it’s unfeasible and unsustainable for a facility to break them down by hand. Instead, Trujillo and Hertzberg think a system that incorporates either grinding or smelting is the best way to ensure that the metals are included in traditional recycling programs.

“We can’t continue down this path,” Trujillo insisted. “Resources are going to become scarce, so we’re trying to figure out ways to utilize these resources over and over again as much as possible so we don’t have to impact the natural resources that we haven’t utilized at this point.”

Even if Circonomy does figure out a way to reuse the scrap metal produced by vape devices, that still leaves out the plastic and glass with leftover cannabis residue on it.

“In the beginning, most likely that won’t be recycled,” Hertzberg said. “But if we can get the stainless [steel], the lithium battery, the coil, we’re going to do pretty good…and then we can start working on these minute amounts [of cannabis residue].”

The devices themselves are just one part of the problem—there’s also an excessive amount of packaging that accompanies each product. To comply with child-resistant-packaging laws, companies often have to include more materials, typically plastic of some kind, to ensure the product is not easily accessible.

For Matt Lee, co-founder and president of Jetty Extracts, a California-based company that was acquired for $30 million in April, the child-resistant-packaging laws are a “huge hit to sustainable packaging.” Even though the company uses biodegradable plastics in its packaging, Lee believes the regulations result in an increase of “unnecessary waste.”

Lee has a potential solution in mind. Instead of mandating restrictive, typically plastic-heavy packaging for each item, he would like to see a requirement for customers to secure their purchases inside reusable, child-resistant exit bags that keep cannabis away from children and decrease the overall amount of plastic required to sell these products.

George Meding, co-founder and current director of product development for Sun Grown Packaging, said it was in the company’s original mission statement not to include plastic or plastic laminate in its products. Instead, the company uses pulp-based materials like corrugated paperboard to ensure that its packaging is compostable and recyclable.

“It’s difficult to have a sustainability aspect to your packaging, but the best way to look at it is if the product’s going to last a month and the packaging is going to last 10 years, that’s not very good packaging for the planet,” Meding said.

Certain companies may be confronting the environmental challenges, but Katie Stone, a marijuana activist who started as a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, points to consumer awareness as a key component of the problem.

“What we really need to talk about is the bigger picture, which is our poor consumer habits and our need to have easy, convenient products because that’s more important for us in the moment than the planet in the long-term,” Stone said.

To better educate consumers, whom Stone refers to as “the biggest investor in any company,” she is launching the Kind Guide through her company Green B. Consulting. A play on goodguide.com, a web service that informs consumers about harmful ingredients in various products to help them make more conscious decisions, the Kind Guide will include information about cannabis businesses to make it easier for customers to support companies focused on reducing their environmental impact.

“If we can train and educate consumers to consistently go and purchase products from companies that are practicing sustainability or trying to practice sustainability, even if they’re economically disadvantaged, then they’ll be the guys who win out in the end,” Stone said.

Keurig may have spawned a sustainability crisis when the company first introduced its K-Cups, but it has since found a solution. Back in 2014, Keurig committed to having all of its North American pods be completely recyclable by 2020, and the company is on track to meet those goals. Perhaps a similar outcome is on the horizon for the cannabis industry.

This feature was published in the December 2018 issue ofHigh Times magazine, subscribe right here.

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Review: The Puffco Peak Promises Great Dabs in a Modern Package

While portable e-rigs and vape pens are convenient, it’s hard to give up your dab rig for an electronic device. Most electronic vaporizers give off harsh, flavorless hits compared with low-temperature dabs on a quartz nail. Because of this, concentrate connoisseurs would rather tote their glass around in Pelican cases to seshes and festivals than rely on electronic devices.

But the need for a torch and several other implements has kept less adventurous consumers away from the extract scene altogether.

Fortunately, we now have the new Puffco Peak to bridge the gap between a modern dab rig’s efficiency and the accessibility of a portable electronic vaporizer. This “smart rig” addresses many of the complications that come with using a dab rig, nail and carb cap.

No More Torches

There are several reasons why many consumers have either avoided concentrates completely or relied solely on portable devices, a common one being that people don’t want to deal with or invest in the necessary tools for dabbing. After all, using a torch comes with some risks; they’re also loud and carrying them around is a pain in the ass. Additionally, heating glass to get high is often associated with hard drug use. That perception alone is enough to keep many average cannabis
consumers at bay.

Portable e-nails have addressed some of these issues, but they’ve brought about their own problems, like blazing hot nails that can give off a burnt-oil taste. Like many other portable vaporizers designed for use with oils, the Peak eliminates the need for a torch. However, the device sets itself apart from most portable e-nails with its ability to deliver pure, flavorful hits. You only taste flavonoids boiling off of the oil and never get that burnt taste common in e-nails.

The Peak is accessible to first-time dabbers, and its efficiency is enough to impress most connoisseurs. Seasoned dabbers can hand it to a less experienced friend without having to worry about them burning the dab too hot and “chazzing” (permanently ruining the aesthetics of) their expensive quartz nail.

No More Dab Timers

Gone are the days of waiting too long to drop your dab and having to reheat the banger again. Unlike the torch-and-dab-rig setup, the Peak allows you to hit your dab in about 20 seconds—without the stress of messing up the timing. That’s right, you won’t have to spend a minute listening to the sound of burning butane followed by another minute of watching a timer. And you won’t have to start the whole process over again if you accidentally wait too long.

The Peak sets itself apart from portable e-nails with its ability to deliver pure, flavorful hits. At the right temperature, you’ll never get that burnt taste common in e-nails.

With the Peak, you just pick one of four settings, double-tap the unit’s only button and let it heat up. It will flash when heating and you’ll hear a vibration before the light stops flashing that signals you to start dabbing. You can stop when no more vapor forms, or you can double-tap the button again to activate the “Session Mode” for additional heat to finish off a dab.

The “smart” device also indicates when it’s already hot, so you don’t have to wait for another 20 seconds or overheat the atomizer when you go back in for round two.

Peak Portability

Another advantage to the Peak is its size. It fits right into a cup holder and doesn’t stand very tall. Although it isn’t portable enough to put in your pocket or low-key enough to hit while
walking down the street, it’s much easier to carry around than a rig, nail, cap, and torch.

The Peak comes in a hard foam case that is smaller than most Pelican cases. It holds the entire device, a carb cap and tool, and it even has a compartment that can be used to hold
dabs and Q-tips—everything you need is in one place.

Less Mess

One of our favorite features of the Peak is that you can pre-load concentrates like you would with an insert. You won’t have to worry about picking up the right amount of sauce five seconds before you’re supposed to dab, fumbling for a place to put your sticky dab tool and having a friend drop the carb cap on for you. The Peak offers anxiety-free dabbing.

Puffco also offers helpful attachments that are sold separately. One is a travel pack that acts as a Q-tip quiver. Another is an
attachment that secures the carb cap to the atomizer. That means no more lost or broken caps—and you won’t have to look around for one when it’s time to dab, either.

Flavor and Potency Without the Puddles

Normally, you would heat a nail up till it’s glowing hot then wait for it to cool down enough to drop the dab. After that, the temperature would slowly decrease. However, with the Peak, oil is heated from a low to a high temperature before cooling back down. That means you can pre-load your dab and experience more terpenes and cannabinoids than you can with a traditional dab.

Since you can keep heating the Peak with the “Session Mode,” you can experience the flavor while leaving little behind for the Q-tip.
You can also drop the dab in with a tool while it’s heating up for a more traditional low-
temperature dab.

Necessary Accessories

Review: The Puffco Peak Promises Great Dabs in a Modern Package

@dabhanna/High Times

Since Puffco hosted their Glass Open glassblowing competition, tons of glass artists have started to create custom attachments for the Puffco Peak. If you hit up your favorite artist and you’re paypal ready, chances are you can get a custom attachment. Production glass companies are making attachments as well. In fact, Beta Glass Labs turned their production line Petra dab rig design into a Puffco Peak attachment.

Beyond aesthetics, there are several accessories that help boost the overall performance of the Peak. For traditional low-temperature dabbers, quartz can be used in place of the ceramic insert.

Eternal Quartz and several other quartz makers have quartz inserts that will fit in a Puffco Peak. We recommend getting a bubble cap to replace of the cap that the Peak comes with. There will be a better seal, allowing you to get more vapor at lower temperatures. Puffco has a new bubble cap for sale and Eternal also make one of the best carb caps for the Peak when it comes to durability and the seal.

Fadespace makes Silicon Carbide inserts which are designed with flavor in mind. They have 80 times more thermal conductivity than quartz and won’t degrade or “chaz” as easily.

ZC Glass has an attachment that allows you to connect any of your bongs or dab rigs to the Puffco Peak battery and atomizer. They also have a plastic hinge attachment to hold your cap up without it dangling and sticking to anything it touches. Finally, they make an adapter that allows you to use a quartz banger in place of an atomizer in case you’re out of also battery or atomizers.

The only real issue we found with the Peak is the need for relatively expensive replacement parts when an atomizer inevitably dies. Maintaining all parts of the atomizer that accumulate oil is vital to making it last longer. (Pro tip: If you take the Peak on a trip, you should bring two atomizers or a ZC Glass banger adapter just to be safe.)

Overall, the Puffco Peak has revolutionized the way we consume extracts. The process of low-temperature dabbing has been simplified enough for novice consumers with an efficiency that satisfies even the most seasoned connoisseurs.

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