New Hampshire House Green Lights Marijuana Legalization Bill

New Hampshire could be moving closer to legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. Yesterday, lawmakers in the New Hampshire House approved a legalization bill. Although this is in many ways a big step forward for the state’s legalization movement, there are still a number of potentially big roadblocks before full-scale legalization becomes a reality.

House Approves Legalization Bill

Yesterday, the New Hampshire House voted in favor of a bill to legalize the use of marijuana. Specifically, the bill won by a 207-139 margin.

Now, the bill will move on the New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee. And then after that, it will also have to move on to additional rounds of review, voting, and approval.

The question of cannabis legalization has become increasingly important in New Hampshire in recent years. One reason for the growing sense of urgency on this issue is that many of New Hampshire’s neighbors are either legalizing or considering legalizing marijuana.

This includes states like Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont, that have legalized recreational marijuana in one form or another.

In any case, lawmakers in New Hampshire have been seriously considering the question in recent months. The bill approved by the House this week would make it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. Additionally, it would make it legal for adults to grow a limited number of plants.

However, the bill did not include anything to set up a regulatory system for actual retail. Such a bill would make it legal for adults to possess and consume weed, but would not provide any framework for cannabis businesses to sell weed.

Support for Legalization

As reported by the AP, a new survey from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that over two-thirds of New Hampshire adults support legalizing marijuana.

Similarly, there are a number of lawmakers who are becoming increasingly outspoken in their support of legalization. For example, Rep. Keith Ammon told the AP that legalizing weed would carry important symbolic value.

“It looks bad for the reputation of the Live Free or Die to be an island of prohibition surrounded by a sea of freedom,” he said.

Similarly, Rep. Renny Cushing said that legalization could have important implications for tourism in the state. Conversely, failing to legalize could have a negative effect, according to Cushing.

“The idea that New Hampshire is going to be this sole place where it’s not an option available I think will have a detrimental impact on the state,” he said. “The time is now. We need to move forward.”

Roadblocks Facing Current Legalization Bill

Interestingly, one of the potential roadblocks facing this most current bill is actually an effort to study and prepare for legalization.

Last year, New Hampshire established a commission to study pathways to legalization. The group’s final report is reportedly not due until November.

In the meantime, opponents of New Hampshire’s current legalization bill are calling for the state to hold off on any actions until the commission completes its study and makes its recommendations,

On that timeline, November would be the earliest that lawmakers could begin taking concrete action toward legalization.

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Virginia Senate Passes Bill to Allow School Nurses to Administer Medical Cannabis

Virginia lawmakers approved a bill last week that will allow school nurses in the state to administer medical cannabis to students on campus and at school events. The bill, SB1632, also protects students with the proper medical certification from suspension or expulsion for possessing THC-A or CBD oil. The bill was passed on February 23 in the House of Delegates by a margin of 95-1 and unanimously in the Senate by a vote of 40-0.

Under current laws, possession of all forms of cannabis is prohibited and can result in expulsion and referral to law enforcement for prosecution. The measure was introduced in January by Sen. Glen Sturtevant, a Republican from Richmond, who said then that young people should have the same opportunity to use cannabis medications as other prescription drugs.

“Virginia students and their families depend on new, safely produced and regulated cannabidiol and THC-A oils to treat a host of potentially debilitating conditions,” said Sturtevant.

A staffer from Sturtevant’s office said that the bill had the support of teachers and school administrators.

“Both the Virginia School Board Assn. and the Virginia Education Assn. spoke in favor of the bill in subcommittee,” said legislative aide Nikki Thacker.

Under the bill, the Virginia Department of Health Professions will be required to create a standardized form for health professionals and the dispensing pharmaceutical processors to document student certifications. Diane Powers, director of communications at the department, said that the form would not be ready until next school year.

“The form cannot be implemented until after the law becomes effective July 1, 2019 and the oils will likely not be available for obtaining from a pharmaceutical processor until later this fall,” Powers said.

Jenn Michelle Pedini, the executive director of the Virginia chapter of the National Organization of Marijuana Reform Laws, applauded lawmakers for passing the bill.

“We are incredibly pleased that the Virginia General Assembly recognized the importance of ensuring students have access to these medicines without disruption to the school day,” said Pedini. “Now, instead of parents having to take their children off campus to administer their medicine, school health care providers will be able to provide necessary doses just as they would any other pharmaceutical.”

Second Bill Expands Access to MMJ

Also last week, Virginia legislators passed another bill, SB1157, which will allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants, in addition to doctors, to write recommendations for patients to use THC-A and CBD oil. The bill also will permit regulators to create rules for a broader range of medicinal cannabis therapies, such as topicals, capsules, lozenges, and suppositories.

SB1557 was introduced by Republican Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, who is also a physician and advocate for increased access to medicinal cannabis. She said that the bill will allow patients easier access to their medicine of choice.

“Allowing nurse practitioners to make treatment available will shorten the wait time and suffering for patients dealing with pain,” Dunnavant said. “It is an effective way for physicians to offer low-cost and low-risk remedies to their patients.”

Both bills are now awaiting the signature of Gov. Ralph Northam.

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Classing Up Cannabis: Designing A Dispensary For An Ideal Customer Experience

Editors Note: Welcome to our newest bi-weekly column, Classing Up Cannabis. Consider this your go-to spot for fluid, applicable advice regarding the image, design, marketing, and branding of your cannabis business. Right now, most of the content in the cannabis zeitgeist neglects to highlight or speak to the minds behind businesses—you know, those fueling the industry.  Whether you’re just launching a brand or your long-time business has weathered the transitional storm of complex regulation, we dedicate this column to you. 

When medical cannabis was first legalized in California in 1996, the concept of cannabis branding was essentially non-existent. Dispensaries looked less like retail stores and more like back-alley speakeasies with bars on the window and a generally uninviting atmosphere, accented by packaging products in Ziplock baggies.

Fast-forward twenty years, and the landscape is drastically different. Instead of being sketchy holes in the wall, most dispensaries resemble Apple stores. So, what happened? How did cannabis dispensaries change, and what are the design elements that prospective dispensary owners can implement in their stores? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, we’ve got answers for you.

Great Lighting

Good dispensary design starts with good lighting. When the first handful of cannabis dispensaries opened their doors in the late ‘90s, most were illuminated with harsh fluorescent lights that glared in customers’ eyes and made everything feel and look dingy. Most contemporary dispensaries have done away with hospital lighting in favor of a more pleasant experience.

In order to create a more pleasant lighting experience in your cannabis dispensary, try and utilize the three types of lighting: ambient, accent, and task lighting. Ambient lighting is used to illuminate the room, usually in the form of recessed lighting. Task lighting, on the other hand, performs a specific purpose and often appears in the form of direction light fixtures, pendant lighting, or a simple desk lamp. Accent lighting is used for aesthetic purposes, such as a chandelier, although it may also serve a functional purpose as well.

By understanding how the three types of lighting interact, you can help give your cannabis dispensary an inviting atmosphere. Start with your ambient lighting to get a general feel for your store, and then move on to accent lighting. Is there a place in the store that you want people to focus on? Try placing some accent lighting to draw in their attention.

Classing Up Cannabis: The Great Dispensary Design

Courtesy of Good Chemistry

One dispensary that does a good job with lighting is Good Chemistry. This dispensary has been able to create a warm and inviting storefront that would make any shop owner jealous. They use a combination of task and accent lighting to draw customers to the kiosks in the middle of the store. Notice how the ambient lighting illuminates the store, but doesn’t overpower the senses? You don’t have to copy this lighting scheme yourself. Do take note of how the three types of lighting interact, however, and use that to your advantage.

Customer Education

Not everyone is well-versed in what constitutes good cannabis. And for those people, walking into a 420 retail store can be intimidating. What’s the difference between Blueberry Kush and Lemon Kush? Is it the flavor? Will I get too high? These are the kinds of questions customers and patients will ask, and consequently, dispensary owners need to dedicate some of their resources to customer education.

Naturally, this involves having a team of educated budtenders. But it also goes deeper than that. To start, cannabis products need to be displayed in such a way that customers can easily identify and inspect them. For example, MedMen has clear plastic containers that have dry flower in them and vents so customers can get a whiff of the herb. In front of those containers are tablets that contain information about the strain, including: name, potency, and a detailed breakdown of its cannabinoids. Though many customers don’t particularly care about the percentage of THC-A in their cannabis, being able to see and smell what the product will go a long way in terms of improving customer experience.

Another way to improve customers education is to place educational pamphlets in a convenient location. While having great budtenders and hi-tech tablets is great, some people feel uncomfortable asking questions and would rather find out what each cannabinoid does on their own. Simple, easy to read pamphlets are a great way to ensure this customer isn’t left out of an educational experience.

An Open Floor Plan

Going back to the dispensaries of yesterday, one of the most unpleasant parts about old dispensaries is how crowded they felt– they almost felt like pawn shops. Nowadays, strict regulations limit where a dispensary is located. However, no matter the location of your dispensary, the goal should be to give your customers as much space as possible. The best way to do this is by going with an open floor plan.

Classing Up Cannabis: The Great Dispensary Design

Courtesy of Serra

The term “open floor plan” generally refers to spaces which make use of large and open spaces, and minimizes the use of small rooms. An open floor plan free of clutter can help put your customers at ease and make them feel more comfortable browsing. When considering an open floor plan, keep these things in mind

Keep it clockwise: Most people, at least in North America, look at things and move from left to right. Try arranging your store in such a way that customers move through your store in a clockwise direction. Not only will it make the purchasing processing flow more naturally, but it will help customers relax.

Slow it Down:As much as you would like to have customers coming in and out as fast as possible, great design doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, retailers will strategically place specials or popular items in certain places to help slow down the customer and give them the opportunity to make an impulse purchase. Just make sure that your “speed bumps” don’t end up blocking the customer’s movement through the store.

Use Creative Displays: If you’ve ever been in a grocery store, then the odds are pretty high that you’ve seen creative displays where products (usually soda packs) are put together to create a visually pleasing tiered formation. You don’t necessarily have to create a gigantic pyramid of all your best-selling products, but you should at least experiment with blocking together some of your products (or at least their packaging) and putting them in visually pleasing geometric shapes.

Manage Your Customer Flow

When it comes to owning a dispensary, good days are busy days. Every business owner wants as many customers as possible in their store at all times. But if you don’t have a way to manage all of those customers, it could be a disaster. That’s why it’s critical to design a store that takes customer lines into consideration.

You may find yourself torn over how much space to dedicate to customer lines and browsing, and honestly, there is no simple solution. However, if you’ve adopted an open floor plan you should be able to relieve some of the tension that comes with customer queuing. Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing a space for customer lines.

Classing Up Cannabis: The Great Dispensary Design

Courtesy of Reef Dispensaries

Keep Them Busy: One way to reduce the stress of your customers waiting in line is to find ways of keeping them busy. MedMen, for instance, has a budtender relay a customer’s order, which allows a customer to continue browsing the store while they wait. Not only does this make the wait seem shorter, but it also gives them an opportunity to make any last-minute impulse purchases.

Keep it Fair: Large lines can turn nasty in a flash, and one of the largest contributors to this turn is perceived unfairness. Maybe someone cut someone in line or darted over to another shorter line. Either way, people can become disgruntled quickly. If you can, try implementing a single line or a ticketing system to give everyone waiting for service a sense of fairness and order.

Encourage Customer Feedback: The easiest way to improve your customer flow is by asking your customers about their experience. At the end of the purchasing process, ask your customers to participate in a short survey and find out about their experience. To increase the number of people taking your survey, try offering discounts or free items in exchange for their participation.

Crafting a well-designed dispensary can be difficult, but it is not impossible. You don’t need to be the trendiest or the coolest person on the planet in order to come up with a good dispensary design. Just follow the fundamentals. Make sure your shop is properly lit and gives off an inviting atmosphere, keep educational resources on hand so customers feel comfortable shopping, and make sure you keep your dispensary open and free of clutter.

Most of all, design your dispensary with the customer in mind. Taking their feelings into account will help you achieve a beautiful and well-designed cannabis dispensary.

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Josh Wolf Brings Smoking Baby Hand And High Live To High Times TV

Since the dawn of time, mankind has used the universal language of humor to communicate their feelings. From cavemen leaving crude phallus jokes on the side of walls to kings in Europe flatulating during grace, everyone can appreciate a little laughter. Josh Wolf is no stranger to the comedy stage, with over 25-years under his belt spent honing his craft he’s seen the peaks and valleys that have sent other comics back to their day job wondering about what could have been. With multiple podcasts, a YouTube channel, and appearances on countless television shows, it’s difficult to understand how he has time for the comedy circuit—or himself. We caught up with Josh while he was in Connecticut for a string of shows along the East Coast to ask him about his childhood, cannabis use, and his upcoming show High Live that’s airing on High Times TV.

High Times: So first off, we gotta say, you were super funny on My Name Is Earl. What was it like working on that show?

Josh Wolf: Wow you really dig deep! I gotta say, working with Greg Garcia (Creator) is fantastic because he is a genius in so many ways and he knows how to write about people in a way that checks every box. For every character he creates there’s always someone you know personally that you can say, I know that guy. His writing is so good and he doesn’t dumb it down for anyone. There was an episode where I needed to be naked for a scene and I asked him if he wanted me to get a tan because I’m so pale I’m light blue, and he glared at me and said, ‘don’t you dare!’ He just knows the right amount of absurdity a story needs.

Our favorite sitcoms were always in that realm of absurdity, shows like Married With Children helped me develop my sense of humor growing up. Where did your style of comedy come from?

I relate it to my time in med school. You spend four years as an undergrad, figuring out stuff about yourself: what you like, what you hate, and after four years you might say fuck this and go do something completely different. For the first four to five years if you’re not trying on different masks, then you’re not doing it right. I can’t tell you how many times I went on stage and tried things that I was 100 percent sure wasn’t going to work—and I was right—but I could check those off the list. Then eventually you settle-in and realize, ‘Ahh. This is what I’m supposed to do.’

The best example I can give you is that up until a few years ago, I still thought I had to attack certain jokes with this intensity like Bill Burr or Joe Rogan, two guys I really admire. I would try to work that intensity into my stories, and it just wasn’t me—the comedy chooses you. If Bill came out and talked about flowers you’d be like, ‘who the fuck is this guy?’ I fought it for years and years because I wanted to be a comic’s comic. But my audience comes to see me, and I’m the silly man. The biggest compliment that someone can give me in a meet and greet is that they had fun, that’s what I’m all about. I only do things I have fun doing. That’s it. That’s my brand.

Do you think that attitude comes from being comfortable with yourself at a certain age? I know you’re a grandfather now.  

Yeah, man. I’ve got four [grandchildren] now, and I think it really comes with being comfortable in your own skin, it’s all about personal belief and knowing who you are. We both know people that walk into a room and they just have this aura around them where you can’t stop looking. Those are the people that are the most comfortable with themselves because there’s a certain confidence you get when you say, ‘fuck it, this is me.’

What do you hope to achieve with this new venture on High Times TV?

I love doing my High Live. Number one, it is the coolest, most chill, hang you will ever have. The people on my show are the coolest people on the internet. We’ve had people meet on the show and hang out in real life. Every now and then we get an asshole and they’ll bombard that person and kick them out—[the show] polices itself. It’s a weird social experiment. You get to see someone go from totally sober to ‘that person shouldn’t drive home’ over the course of an hour.

For the first fifteen minutes, I talk about the weed and there are people who just tune in for that. Then from the fifteen to forty-five-minute mark that’s where you see me at my most high. I’m interactive, I’m chatty, I’m laughing, and playing the guitar. I bring out gags like the smoking baby hand. Then the last part of the show is a disaster. The edibles hit, I’ve smoked two joints and some people just tune in for that. I say it all the time, but it’s literally my favorite hour of the week and it’s really helped my stand up immensely.

Speaking of that, do you use cannabis while performing?

I never get high and go out and do a show. I eat edibles before my late show, but it’s different for the early show. I don’t want someone to come out and think ‘I didn’t come here to see someone get high.’ So I tell people all the time that if this bothers you—I understand. You’re not a hostage, if you wanna get up and go it’s not gonna hurt my feelings. But about forty-five minutes in I’m going to get high, the show may run longer but I’m loose and it’s fun. I’ve developed some of my favorite bits during these times and gone down paths I never would have gone if I would have been sober. So those late shows on Friday and Saturday allow me to dig a little bit deeper and the High Live has given me the confidence to do that.

When did you first start using cannabis?

I was about 14-years-old, this was back when you could smoke a whole joint and all you would get is a headache—it’s not like the stuff we have now. But I was getting it from this guy and he had me convinced that the more seeds your bag had, the better the quality because you could plant them and you’d get more. So I remember I fell for that for a couple of months until I told my brother, and showed him a bag that’s two fingers of seeds and one finger of little buds. I thought I was going to be rich and he was laughing like, ‘you’re so dumb, what’re gonna do with that? Plant it in moms garden? What’s your endgame here?’

But I didn’t smoke much in college and for a while, I was a single dad. During that time I didn’t smoke because I didn’t have a backup or a partner just in case shit went down. I didn’t think with me being the only parent that getting high was the right thing to do at that point. But, as soon as I got together with my wife she asked me, ‘do you always smoke so much?’ because I made up for lost time.

I only smoke during High Live. Other than that I only eat edibles. Before High Live starts, I’ll eat a 150mg Cheeba Chew and I’ll smoke some kind of sativa. I really like Maui’s and Durban Poison–something that really gets the creativity going. Then at the end of the show I like to smoke a heavier Indica, I’ve been really into Bruce Banner.

Catch Josh Wolf every Monday on High Times TV with his show, High Live. You can also listen to his podcast Prinze and the Wolf, which airs weekly and features America’s sweetheart, Freddie Prinze Jr.

Download the HIGH TIMES TV app on Roku, Apple TV, IOS and Android to watch HIGH LIVE 
  • Apple App Store
  • Google Play Store
  • Roku
And don’t forget to visit High Times TV

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San Francisco DA Plans to Expunge or Reduce Over 9,000 Marijuana Convictions

On Monday, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced that his office would be taking on more than 9,300 cannabis related cases, expunging them from people’s criminal records, reducing them from felony to misdemeanor, or from misdemeanor to infraction.

“It was just a matter of dignity,” Gascón told the press.

But the step to help right the Drug War’s historical wrongs is also required by California law. Mass expungement and charge reductions have challenged many law enforcement agencies in what they say is bureaucratic complexity, but they are seen as central as part of the process of restitutions for eras of racially biased policing.

San Francisco is the first county in the state to announce full compliance with the record-change process stipulated by AB 1793, a regulation related to Proposition 64, the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in California that “requires automation of this process across the state” for charge reductions or expungements, Rodney Holcombe, Drug Policy Alliance staff attorney, told High Times.

Luckily, the City By the Bay, which has become a center of programming technology worldwide due to its proximity to Silicon Valley, found an agile partner to help with the alleged bureaucratic morass; a 501(c)3 non-profit named Code for America, which looks to link the public sector with technological solutions.

Code For America’s director Jennifer Pahlka told media representatives that it is now working with other California districts to identify cannabis cases that are eligible for expungement or reduction of charges. It is estimated that in Los Angeles alone, there are 40,000 felony convictions since 1993 that could be eligible for reduction or expungement.

San Francisco’s purge is an important step taken by a city that recently, has made national headlines for its prejudiced law enforcement. In 2010 and 2011, Black people comprised 6 percent of San Francisco’s population, yet they comprised half of arrests related to marijuana charges. In October, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against SF when it was found that its police officers were exclusively targeting the Black population in undercover drug operations.

In the absence of automated systems for dealing with past cannabis crimes, many San Franciscans had to hire lawyers and pay court fees to get their cannabis records cleared or charges reduced post-Prop 64. A grand total of 23 people were able to successfully complete the tedious and costly process over the three years prior to the DA’s automation partnership with Code For America, which was first announced in May.

State drug policy advocates hope that now that the technology has been identified, more expungements and reductions will be on the way. “My hope is that San Francisco will now consider automating other record-change processes so that folks are no longer subject to the retributive and often lifelong consequences attached to non-cannabis convictions,” said Holcombe.

Drug Policy Alliance deputy state director Laura Thomas hopes that the move will provide a model for other districts to take the lead on post-cannabis prohibition justice. “Even convictions from many years ago can have an impact on people’s lives now and this will ensure that doesn’t happen,” she commented to High Times. “We hope that other prosecutors around the country follow [Gascon’s] lead.”

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Florida Lawmakers Aim to Give Access to Out-of-State Medical Marijuana Patients

Medical marijuana is legal in 33 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. But less than half of those states honor medical marijuana patient registrations from other states. As a result, patients who travel out-of-state are often unable to legally access medical cannabis away from home. And in southern states, where medical cannabis use is more restricted, reciprocity programs are even harder to come by. But a bi-partisan coalition of Florida lawmakers are aiming to make their state more welcoming to medical marijuana patients. On Monday, they announced a pair of bills to provide medical cannabis reciprocity for non-resident patients and caregivers.

Florida Wants to Be the Next Southern State to Honor Non-Residents’ Medical Cards

The Florida Senate and House have each filed their own version of a bill to bring medical marijuana reciprocity to Florida. Both bills would make non-resident eligibility a simple question of a patient’s or caregiver’s status in another state. In other words, valid medical cannabis authorizations from other states would have the same authority as medical cards issued in Florida. However, non-resident patients and caregivers would have to follow Florida’s medical cannabis laws, not those of their home state.

But obtaining and using medical cannabis as a non-resident won’t be as simple as walking into a dispensary with an out-of-state registration. Instead, patients will require a certification from a physician licensed to practice in Florida. The bill would require physicians to physically examine patients and issue a certification.

Furthermore, those certifications will collect data on patients and caregivers. Specifically, the Senate bill (SB 1328) would require the Florida Department of Health to register information about a patient’s certifying physician, as well as the types of medical cannabis products they recommend and the use of any delivery services. Physicians will have to specify that information in their certifications, according to the measure.

Will Medical Cannabis Reciprocity Programs Become the New Norm?

As medical cannabis legalization expands to encompass more states, the issue of patient reciprocity becomes more important. Just 16 medical-marijuana states currently honor non-resident certifications. But there are signs that reciprocity could soon be the new norm for medical cannabis patients in the United States.

Sometimes, reciprocity programs can even help patients in states that have legalized medical cannabis but are lagging behind licensing dispensaries. In Arkansas, for example, the state just licensed its first round of dispensaries 26 months after legalizing medical use. Meanwhile, its neighboring state of Oklahoma passed and implemented a working medical cannabis program in 7 months. So for Arkansas medical cannabis patients who obtained licenses but couldn’t (or still can’t) buy marijuana in licensed dispensaries, Oklahoma’s reciprocity program is a huge save. Through reciprocity, Arkansas patients were able to access dispensaries in Oklahoma before they opened in Arkansas.

Ultimately, medical cannabis reciprocity could become as common as driver’s license reciprocity. If you have a driver’s license from New York, you can drive anywhere. It should be the same for medical cannabis. Currently, however, most states with reciprocity programs still make patients and caregivers meet certain requirements and follow some restrictions. Some states will let non-resident patients possess and use medical cannabis, but not buy it at a dispensary, for example.

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What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Bob Weir: An Essay

Bob Weir was a founding member of legendary rock band the Grateful Dead. I ran into Bob the other night at an eatery in Northern California. A mutual friend had e-troduced us about a year ago, and we’d been exchanging emails about getting together ever since. But we could never manage to get our schedules to line up. I had already eaten, but he was just starting so I introduced myself and he invited me to join him for a chat while he ate.

Bob was everything I hoped he’d be: curious, engaged, and interesting. We talked about the Perseids meteor shower, the tastiness of the food at the restaurant, new immunotherapy developments in cancer, world music. We also talked about the Redwood trees surrounding us, and the Native Americans who lived on the land before us. Unlike other rock stars I’ve met, he wasn’t trying to posture — he was just being himself. And his self is very likable.

When his steak arrived, he asked me if I wanted some. “I just had it,” I said, “it’s delicious.”

“What’s your next book?” he asked.

“I’m writing about the aging brain. The neuroscience of it, and what we can do to stay mentally active and healthy.”

“That’s an important topic,” he said.  

Given his well-known hearty ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs for the past fifty years, I was curious to know what he was doing to stay mentally fit, He described some medicinal mushrooms that he’d been taking. “They contain a neurotropic growth factor. After dinner, come back to my place and we can take some if you want to.”

I’ve never been a big drug user. While the people around me were experimenting with all kinds of chemical substances, I was learning to play the guitar, and working hard to become a neuroscientist. I’ve spent my life around people who were smarter than me, and I wanted to be sure I could keep up.

I did smoke marijuana with Joni Mitchell a few years ago when I was helping her put together her Shine CD. For one warm L.A. evening, I put my apprehensions aside and just enjoyed the ride. Taking mushrooms with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead? Hmmm. He seemed intelligent and rational. I decided this might be an experience I could look back on and savor. I said yes.

We began the fifteen minute walk back to his place. “You know, I kind of worked for you about 30 years ago,” I said.

“Really?”

“I had a job in 1977 at A. Brown Electronics.”

“In San Rafael…”

“Right, repairing speakers that you and the Dead had blown out.”

“There was no shortage of those.” he said.

What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Bob Weir

Shutterstock

We both laughed. A. Brown Electronics had been a small-time hi-fi repair shop that barely eked by until the Dead discovered them. Re-coning speakers became about 95 percent of the company’s business. In those days, a concert stage speaker consisted of a powerful magnet with a thick, black cone-shaped paper radiating outwards, held in a metal frame. The output of an amplifier — an AC electrical signal — modulated the magnet, which caused the paper to vibrate and create sound. Send in too much power and the paper would blow apart under the strain. Re-coning involved shaping and inserting new paper between the magnet and metal frame. It was an eco-friendly alternative to buying new ones.

“You play guitar, don’t you?” he asked me.

“Yes.”

“Maybe we can play together later.”

I worked to control my exuberance. I tried to sound cool — like sitting in with Bob Weir was the kind of thing I did every day.

“Sure,” I said.

But if I get really high on mushrooms, I wondered, would I be able to play the guitar? Would my fingers do what I wanted them to do?

We got to Bob’s place and he started rummaging around a drawer in the kitchen. Was I really going to do this? What if I got too disconnected from reality? Quiet, I told myself. If anyone has experience with drugs, it’s Bob Weir. He’ll know what to do. Trust him.

He took out a plastic bag of a very fine brown powder, and a small bamboo spoon. He angled the spoon at about 45 degrees, put it in the powder, and carefully withdrew a large mound of the stuff. He then expertly tapped the side of the spoon with his index finger, letting some of the powder fall back in the bag. Realizing he had tapped too much,  he put the spoon back in for just a little bit more. With his other hand, Bob lifted a cup, and put the powder in it, then repeated the same measurement for a second cup.

“Here,” he said, “I’m going to give you a few days’ supply so that if you like it you can take it until you have a chance to get your own.” He measured out eight more portions and put them into a sealable plastic sandwich bag. Eight?! I wondered. What if I never came down?

He picked up the two cups with mushroom powder in them and brought them to the stove. “We’ll use hot water,” he said. “It dissolves better and doesn’t get clumpy.”

“Cool,” I said. He seemed to be thinking very clearly. Bob boiled the water, mixed the powder carefully with the bamboo spoon, handed me a cup, and together we brought the cups to our lips and took our first sip. It tasted like mushroom soup.

I felt a strange sensation on my tongue. Must be the umami receptors, I thought. In addition to the four basic taste receptor cells located on the human tongue (salty, sweet, sour, and bitter), Japanese scientists have discovered that we have a fifth group — umami receptors — that are stimulated by certain meat broths, soy sauce, and mushrooms. The western diet is lighter on these flavors than the Asian or Native American diet, and we rarely get a pure umami flavor in the food we eat. The inside of my cheeks, the roof of my mouth, and the sides of my tongue were tingling as these rarely used receptors woke up and started signaling the gustatory cortex in my brain. Either that or I was hallucinating.

Bob started talking about consciousness and meditation, and I found myself discussing neural synchrony. I noticed that patterns on the wall seemed to dance about. Not vividly, not cartoon-like, no images from Fantasia, just a mild impression, a kind of imagination. I knew the patterns weren’t really dancing.

Bob spoke about the shamanic tradition. “Much of the wisdom of the Native Americans has been lost,” he said. “Plant-based medicines, conservation practices. And the understanding that we really are all one.”

“Like mushrooms,” I added. “Fungi are connected underground via a subterranean web of mycelium.”

“Yes,” he said. “And they help other plants communicate with each other by attaching themselves to their roots — especially trees like these.” He gestured with his hands towards the Redwoods out his window.

What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Bob Weir

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In my mind’s eye, I could see the vast fungal internet underneath the ground below us. I felt connected— to Bob, to the trees, to plants in general, and to myself. Yes! Here I was in me. Happy. Secure.

Time seemed like a circle rather than a line; as though part of my consciousness experienced this feeling long ago, and I was just remembering it now. Bob’s voice sounded far away for a moment, and then very close. My education as a neuroscientist seemed to be circling my consciousness, as if I stood in the middle of a merry-go-round of different research findings, gently moving up and down, up and down.

Mushrooms are a mixture of proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, and a variety of trace elements. One of the active ingredients in the mushrooms we took is called Hericium Erinaceus Polysaccharides, commonly referred to as HEP. HEP leads to the secretion of neurotropic growth factor. That, in turn, increases levels of acetylcholine in the brain, which is normally secreted in great quantities during Stage IV sleep. The dreamy quality we associate with sleep, or being in certain altered states, is mediated by this neurochemical. HEP rapidly increases gene expression of neurotropic growth factor in the hippocampus–the seat of memory. This could simultaneously improve the storage of new memories, and the retrieval of old ones, even long lost memories that heretofore seemed to be forgotten.

HEP also has neuroprotective and neuroregenerative qualities, allowing for the repair of damaged nerves and the growth of new ones. It has been shown to improve overall cognitive performance and is even effective in people up to 80-years-old who are suffering from mild cognitive impairment. Some studies have shown that it reduces depression and anxiety. At that moment, I was certainly feeling contented and unstressed.

Another ingredient in the mushrooms we took is Cordyceps Militaris, which has been shown to diminish anxiety while boosting energy levels. Think about that for a moment: more energy but also less anxious. Coffee tends to boost energy levels but at the cost of increased nervousness and anxiety.

We grew quiet. I couldn’t say how much time had passed. We looked at the bottom of our empty cups and then at each other.

“The effect is subtle,” Bob said, “but I feels like it makes my day a little bit lighter and my focus a little bit better.”

My mouth was still tingling with stimulation of the umami sensors. I was filled with the overwhelming sense of my connection to nature, to Bob, to an ant that was moving across the floor. I was one with the insects. My tongue seemed to be vibrating at the spiritual frequency of the universe.

Bob turned to me as I was studying the wood grain in the table. “You realize of course that these are not hallucinogenic mushrooms — they’re purely medicinal, perfectly legal. I bought them on Amazon.com.”

I looked up. “What?”

The post What It Was Like Doing Mushrooms With Bob Weir: An Essay appeared first on High Times.


Researcher Who Claimed CBD In Hops Revealed As Convicted Con Artist

A researcher who claimed he had discovered a variety of hops that produced CBD is a convicted con artist and his discovery is fraudulent, according to a report from the PotNetwork. Dr. Bomi Boban Joseph of Peak Health Center is actually Moses Sunith Prasad Joseph, who was arrested in 2005 for defrauding companies including Wells Fargo and Eastman Kodak of nearly $20 million. Joseph was convicted by a jury of 20 charges including grand theft, securities fraud, and embezzlement and sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for filing false financial records in a tech fund’s bid to provide broadband service over power lines. Joseph used proceeds from the scheme to buy real estate including a home in Carmel, California, according to prosecutors, who said he was “charming” and were impressed by his ability to continue the fraud over a span of several years. His attorney said it was all a misunderstanding.

“It’s a sad situation. The broadband product that he was trying to create and sell was a legitimate technology,” the attorney said.

Last year, Dr. Bomi Joseph announced that he had discovered a variety of hops that produced CBD. He said that he had theorized he might find a variety of hops that produced CBD in the mountains of Northern India.

“We were hoping to find what we call dominant species with cannabinoids and CBD, but as luck would have it, we didn’t,” Mr. Joseph told PotNetwork in August 2018. “We found that it was a recessive trait. And from the thousands of samples we collected, we’d find, maybe 1 in 800 or 1 in 1,000 that had some cannabinoids in it. But the trick was just finding the first few samples.”

Joseph claimed he then used his discovery to breed a variety of hops, which he dubbed Humulus kriya, that reliably expressed the recessive gene and produced CBD. Joseph then entered into an agreement with Isodiol to market the hops CBD. In late 2017, Isodiol announced that it was introducing ImmunAG, the first CBD product to be derived from a source other than cannabis. But the release made no mention of Joseph, and citing a breach of contract he sent a letter to Isodiol terminating their business relationship.

Joseph then signed a new agreement with Medical Marijuana Inc. to market hops-derived CBD, which he claimed to have a patent for. Medical Marijuana Inc. then offered the product through its HempMed brand as Real Scientific Humulus Oil.

CBD from Hops ‘Bullshit’

Dr. Volker Christoffel, a chemical researcher who has studied CBD for a decade and is a peer reviewer for a scientific journal, told PotNetwork that Joseph’s claims of CBD from hops are fabricated.

“This is total bullshit,” Christoffel said.

Christoffel says that the paper Joseph published to support his claims is a near word-for-word plagiarized version of a paper that Christoffel wrote with Dr. Michael Bodensteiner of the University of Regensburg two years ago. Christoffel also claims that the taxonomic designation Humulus kriya is a misnomer because the plant is actually Humulus yuannenis and not a separate species or registered variety. He said that the plant probably does not have enough CBD to be commercially viable.

“To judge the true content of CBD in the plant the figures of a milligram of CBD per gram dried plant part is pivotal,” noted Dr. Christoffel. “This is simple to calculate and standard information. Joseph avoids [giving] such a figure. This triggers the suspicion that the alleged Humulus yuannensis sport has not enough CBD to extract reasonable amounts. The steps of extraction and the ratio of CBD towards other Humulus constituents could be an indicating figure, but again, [there are] no description, no figures.”

“There is nothing, nothing worth,” he continued. “It is just marketing to drive their shares.”

In a statement to High Times, Medical Marijuana Inc. said that the company was aware of the PotNetwork story.

Late last week our company was mentioned in an article online which contained a number of allegations against Dr. Bomi Joseph of Peak Health Center and his supply of Humulus hops derived CBD oil. As he is one of our suppliers, we are working with him directly to investigate.  As a company, we always put our consumers and the products we provide for them first,” the statement reads. “We have already begun to address the questions raised in the article, and we will decide on the most appropriate course of action once all the relevant information has been collected and verified.  However, we do believe that Dr. Joseph has been targeted by competitors in the industry.  Our experience with Dr. Joseph and his company to date has been only positive and our customers have experienced great benefit from the Humulus derived products that we sell.”

When presented with the evidence PotNetwork discovered, Joseph denied their allegations.

“I can’t comment on that, right,” Joseph said. “All I can do is give you my ID and show you who I am. I’ve got a Driver’s License, I’ve got a California ID.”

The post Researcher Who Claimed CBD In Hops Revealed As Convicted Con Artist appeared first on High Times.


Tensions Escalate Over Utah’s “Compromise” Medical Marijuana Bill

Tensions continue to escalate in an ongoing lawsuit between medical marijuana advocates and the state of Utah. Most recently, the lawyer in charge of a key lawsuit circulated a detailed letter. In it, he described Utah’s current medical marijuana bill as unconstitutional and illegal. Ultimately, the lawsuit calls for a return to the state’s previous medical marijuana program, which was approved by voters last November but overwritten by lawmakers in December.

Lawyer and Advocates Fighting House Bill 3001

In December 2018, Attorney Rocky Anderson filed a lawsuit against the state of Utah. The suit was a response to House Bill 3001, which lawmakers passed in a legislative special session earlier that month.

Lawmakers bill H.B. as a “compromise bill.” But critics of the bill say that H.B. 3001 actually functions as a replacement to Proposition 2, the medical marijuana initiative approved by voters in November 2018.

Importantly, many medical marijuana advocates throughout the state claim that H.B. 3001 fundamentally alters the bill put into place by voters. And they want to see H.B. 3001 repealed so that Proposition 2 can be reinstated.

Currently, the state is facing two separate lawsuits. The first was filed by Anderson on behalf of multiple plaintiffs, including Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) and The Epilepsy Association of Utah.

Additionally, another group called The Peoples’ Right filed its own lawsuit. Both suits were filed in December 2018.

With both suits still in the works, Anderson and the advocates he represents have ratcheted up their campaign against H.B. 3001. Last week, Anderson sent a letter to county commissioners and city council members across Utah.

In it, he claimed that H.B. 3001 is fundamentally illegal and unconstitutional. As such, he warned local officials against complying with the bill. Additionally, he invited commissioners and city council members to join the fight against H.B. 3001.

Lawyer and Advocates: Utah’s “Replacement Bill” is Illegal

In the letter, Anderson explained that H.B. 3001’s “central fill” program illegally requires state and local health departments to break federal cannabis laws.

“Under H.B. 3001, the health departments are to participate in arranging for the purchase, distribution, transportation, storage, and sale of a Schedule 1 controlled substance—all of which is absolutely forbidden by the federal Controlled Substances Act,” Anderson’s letter said.

According to Anderson, the sticking point in H.B. 3001 is that it specifically requires health departments in Utah to participate. In making this requirement, Anderson claimed, H.B. 3001 effectively creates a “felonious, full-service drug cartel.”

“Laws in other states, which have been upheld, do not compel anybody to violate federal law. They simply say that the state will not go after you for whatever’s allowed under that state’s cannabis laws” Anderson told High Times. “How Utah is different from every other state is the distribution scheme in which they’re requiring health departments to purchase, store, transport, distribute, and sell cannabis.”

He added: “That is blatantly prohibited under federal law. It’s an almost certain way of legally defeating this replacement bill, or at least that portion of it.”

Building the Case Against Utah

With this most recent letter, Anderson and the advocates he’s representing in the lawsuit, appear to be scaling up their case against the state. Specifically, the letter articulates a third primary complaint. Prior to this letter, the lawsuit focused on two primary issues.

First, Anderson and his clients argued that when lawmakers replaced the voter-approved Proposition 2 with H.B. 3001, they violated the public’s right to create laws through the initiative process.

Second, the original lawsuit claims that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), commonly known as the Mormon Church, wrongfully interfered in the state’s lawmaking process.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, the LDS Church is generally recognized as having significant influence over its members, who make up almost 63 percent of Utah’s population. Additionally, a large proportion of Utah lawmakers are also Mormon. Even more, the LDS Church maintains a strong lobbying presence in the state.

Importantly, the LDS Church was very active in campaigns against Prop 2. For example, it sent a letter to all members encouraging them to vote against the proposition. Additionally, the church’s lobbyists consistently urged lawmakers to work to defeat or replace Prop 2.

As a result, Anderson and his clients claim that the Mormon Church exerted illegal influence over the legislation process.

“They’re [the LDS Church] playing too heavily in Utah politics,” Christine Stenquist, President of TRUCE, told High Times.”This issue crossed party lines and religious lines, and has affected people in a really profound way. A lot of people are saying they want their church to stay out of politics, and what the church is doing makes them uncomfortable.”

Anderson said he plans to amend the original lawsuit. In particular, he plans to add to the suit the additional argument regarding H.B. 3001’s mandatory “central fill” system. Additionally, he hopes to add new plaintiffs.

Timeline: Utah’s Ongoing Medical Marijuana Drama

Anderson’s new letter and his intent to amend the lawsuit represents the newest chapter in what has become a long and drawn-out drama. The following timeline maps out key moments in the controversy surrounding H.B. 3001:

  • June 2018: LDS lobbyist Marty Stephens organizes a closed-door meeting to craft alternatives to Proposition 2.
  • August 2018: LDS Church officially announces its opposition to Prop 2. On August 23, a church spokesperson said “we urge the voters of Utah to vote no on Proposition 2.” The LDS Church also sent a letter to its members, encouraging them to vote against the proposition.
  • November 6, 2018: Voters in Utah approve Prop 2, making medical marijuana legal.
  • December 1, 2018: Prop 2 officially goes into effect.
  • December 3, 2018: At urging from the LDS Church representatives, lawmakers hold a “special session” in which they replace Prop 2 with H.B. 3001.
  • December 5, 2018: Rocky Anderson files a lawsuit against Utah on behalf of a group of medical marijuana patients and advocacy groups.
  • December 10, 2018: The Peoples’ Right files its own separate lawsuit.
  • February 20, 2019: Rocky Anderson sends letter to county commissioners and city council members in Utah, arguing that H.B. 3001’s central fill system is illegal.

For now, the battle over H.B. 3001 and Prop 2 is ongoing. For many in the state, the outcome of the suit has long-term implications—both for Utah and the nation at large.

“This is the fight that has to happen,” Stenquist told High Times. “To get de-scheduling at some point in the future, it’s got to start with a conservative state like Utah. It will take a place like Utah to adopt cannabis to get the federal government to start looking at this seriously.”

The post Tensions Escalate Over Utah’s “Compromise” Medical Marijuana Bill appeared first on High Times.


Oregon Residents Resent Cannabis Cultivation Water Usage—But Is It Justified?

Folks living in Deschutes County, Oregon say they’re running out of water. They say their wells are drying up and that they’re spending tens of thousands of dollars drilling new ones. And they know exactly who to blame: the nearby medical cannabis farm that began growing there in 2015. But are marijuana farms really the reason for rural resident’s water shortages?

In Oregon, Residents Are Blaming Cannabis Farms for Water Shortages

Charles Cook and Suezan Hill-Cook live in the Lake Park Estates subdivision in Redmond, Oregon. In 2015, shortly after Oregon legalized adult use and a commercial cannabis industry, a grow operation set up in the area. Things on the farm were slow at first. But as the industry in Oregon grew, operations at the cannabis grow got busier. Used to a quiet, rural setting, the area’s older residents grew to resent the noise, smell and traffic the farm was generating.

Then, the water started running out. And on a hot summer day in 2018, Cook and Hill-Cook’s well wouldn’t pump any water. It was dry. Already rankled by the nuisances of the grow, the couple were sure it was to blame for their empty well. They had heard about cannabis farms gulping up all the groundwater in Oregon—a popular anti-legalization talking point in 2014. And they had heard stories from other rural Deschutes County residents about cannabis farms drying up their wells. So, they reasoned, the nearby marijuana farm had to be the reason for their own water shortages.

Indeed, between 2015 and 2017, a total of seven wells in the Alfalfa area of Deschutes County were re-drilled and deepened. Those refits account for 33 percent of all the wells deepened in the area since 1975. So water levels in the Deschutes Basin are definitely dropping. And they’ve been dropping rapidly in the years since Oregon legalized adult-use marijuana. But does correlation equal causation? Are weed farms really to blame for lower water levels?

Do Cannabis Grows Really Drain Water Resources?

While residents of rural Oregon are right that their water levels are receding, they’re likely wrong as to why. Responding to residents’ concerns, the Oregon Water Resources Department investigated 11 cannabis farms in the summer of 2018. Central Oregon Watermaster Jeremy Giffin, who led the investigations, found that the farms had a very small impact on the overall decline in groundwater levels. “At the end of the day,” Giffin concluded, “we were surprised at how little water they were using.”

Watermaster Giffin’s conclusions are affirmed by rural growers themselves. Andrew Anderson, who owns Plantae Health, a commercial cannabis grow, said his farm uses anywhere between 1,500 to 3,000 gallons of water per day. While that sounds like a large quantity, Giffin described it as “just a drop in the bucket” compared to many other agricultural operations. “Our water conservation is absolutely insane,” Anderson said.

After Oregon voters passed Measure 91 legalizing adult-use cannabis in November 2014, lawmakers defined cannabis as a farm crop. As a farm crop, cannabis is protected under Oregon’s Right to Farm laws. But cultivation is also subject to Oregon’s agricultural water quality rules. Those rules require grows to obtain water right permits, statements from public or private providers that water is actually available, or proof from the state that no permit is necessary.

In short, the state of Oregon is regulating and monitoring the water consumption of cannabis farms. And they’re just not slurping up all the groundwater.

Climate Change is Contributing to Declining Groundwater Levels, Not Cannabis

Studies from the U.S. Geological Survey have found that parts of the Deschutes Basin saw water levels drop up to 14 feet between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. Cannabis wasn’t legal in Oregon at that time. But what about the recent intensification of dry wells?

Watermaster Giffin said low groundwater levels were likely due to a prolonged period of dry weather. Without precipitation leading to snowmelt, the region’s groundwater supply isn’t getting replenished. Furthermore, human activity is influencing water levels. With irrigation water supplies running low from dry weather, more people are tapping into the region’s groundwater supply. At the same time, more people are piping irrigation channels, preventing them from replenishing the groundwater supply.

Scientists know that climate change is caused by human activity, and that prolonged drought is a sign of those changes. The extended dry weather in the Deschutes Basin is putting a strain on the region’s water resources. Oregon especially has been suffering from severe and extreme drought in recent years.

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