From Professional Athlete to Industry Advocate: How Marvin Degon Found CBD

If you’re like Marvin Degon, you didn’t just realize you needed CBD; you wished you had found CBD sooner.

“If you knew me growing up, you never would have guessed I’d land in the cannabis industry,”Degon says. “I was shy, quiet, and always followed the rules. I was driven, and there was one goal I was determined to achieve—I was going to become a professional hockey player.”

To say Degon loved the game is an understatement. “I was the first one on the ice and the last one off,” he remembers. “I was diligent and purposeful and steered away from even the slightest distraction. From the halls of Cushing Academy, where the “stoners” snuck off to the woods, to UMass Amherst, where the smell of weed wafted through the halls of the Brett House, I was always aware of marijuana.” To his younger self, cannabis was a drug and a deterrent from his  goal. Or at least, that’s what he was taught to believe.

Degon says that on the ice, he played with so much intensity, he’d go numb. He was small for a hockey player, which meant that his  durability and toughness was always in question. He had to play like he was bigger. “In pro sports, every game was a proving ground for all of us,” he says “How skilled were we? How tactical? How committed? And, for me in particular, how tough was I? Could I take it? Could I give it?”

“My answers? Tougher than most. Hit me again. Come and see. I played nearly 600 games in my professional career. I missed 9 to injury. That’s the hockey you see.”

But the toughness that came with the sport had a price.

From Professional Athlete to Industry Advocate: How Marvin Degon Found CBD

Marvin Degon; Courtesy of Veda

“I would give my body an absolute beating, and after the celebration of a win or the heartbreak of defeat, I would remove my “armor” and feel the ultimate pain,”Degon says. “It was physical and mental, but worst of all it was habitual.”

According to Degon, in the world of professional sports, you’re only useful as long as you’re healthy. If you want to play, you better be able to play.  He and his teammates did whatever they had to in order to skate every game, every practice, every day. Throughout his professional career, Degon tried “some of the world’s finest opioids: sleepers, pain meds (uppers), muscle relaxants (downers), injections, you name it.”  He came to realize that long-term opioid use isn’t sustainable.

Degon’s career spanned 10 years and 6 countries, and 550+ games. “At 32 years old, I retired from professional hockey with a body that felt older than 60,” he says. “This is when you stop wondering if your

body can sustain itself with opioids and start looking for ways to recover. For many, this search is desperate. For some, it has cost them their lives.”

His search for a solution brought him  back to a familiar substance:cannabis. As he started looking into it —(“I like to call it R&D,” he laughs)—he found that some strains and products worked well for him and others did not. He then stumbled upon CBD—and it worked.

“For the first time since hanging it up, I focused on life, not pain,” he says “But it was more than pain relief, it changed everything. I had more energy. It was easier to rest, it was easier to think, and it was easier to recover. Life got better.”

Now, years after personally realizing the benefits of CBD,  Degon is dedicated to helping others who suffer in silence. He joined VEDA, the leading brand in Endocannabinoid Nutrition, to develop VEDA Sport, a line of CBD Isolate products created to address the real needs of athletes and active individuals.

From Professional Athlete to Industry Advocate: How Marvin Degon Found CBD

Marvin Degon; Courtesy of Veda

In 2018, VEDA became the first cannabis company to sponsor a national professional sports league—the NWHL. This partnership couldn’t be more aligned. VEDA and the NWHL are both pushing boundaries and propelling an industry towards growth, impact, and balance. The opportunity has been a game-changer.

Like most innovations in the cannabis industry, its availability far proceeds its acceptance. “The same industry that barred my opportunity to discover CBD 22 years ago still stands in its own way today,” he says. “The world of sports is our new frontier. The athletes need it, and the athletes provide an influential voice to promote it. The nutrition, wellness, and balance within CBD is at stake, for athletes and their audience.”

If the past has taught us anything, it’s that the bigger the industry, the slower the uptake,” he continues “Our job now is to awaken a sleeping giant. The sports industry is expected to reach $73.5 billion in 2019 (Forbes). VEDA Sport and the NWHL are first to the party, but we certainly won’t be the last. There are differences to be made, and lives to be changed.”

As the popularity of CBD and the science supporting ECN expands, the world of sports will continue catch on. Degon says he  will continue to educate on cannabis and CBD’s place as a natural solution to sustainable pain relief for professional athletes. Through proper education, he says, acceptance is coming. “Soon athletes, teams, and leagues will promote these products to inspire the athlete in all of us.”

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Four Hospitalized After Man Serves Weed-Infused Cake at Family Party as a Prank

Four people in Australia were hospitalized after a man served a birthday cake with cannabis-infused chocolate to family members at a recent gathering. The man, who is in his late twenties, “thought it would liven up the family birthday party,” according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

One woman who was hospitalized told a radio station on Monday that the family had gathered for lunch and to celebrate a birthday.

“Everyone was having a lovely time and cake was passed around at dessert with fruit and cream and some nice little chocolate chunks sprinkled over it,” she said. “And it turns out the chocolate chunks contained marijuana.”

The woman, who is in her fifties, said that the group started feeling the cannabis a while later.

“The effect was not immediate which I now know is the case with edibles,” she said. “I’ve learned all about marijuana and edibles. Within an hour I was experiencing throat swelling and dizziness, within three hours myself and four other family members were hospitalized with overdose.”

The woman said that she had even gone into anaphylactic shock and had to be treated with adrenaline.

“Apparently, I’m allergic to cannabis or whatever it was in that very high dose,” she said.

‘We Didn’t Really Know We Were High’

Three other party-goers, including the woman’s octogenarian parents, suffered “really nasty vomiting.”

“One was vomiting, the other had an extremely high heart rate,” she said. “We were all terrified because we didn’t know for some hours what was going on.”

After emergency services responded and transported the stricken members of the family to the hospital, healthcare workers were at first unsure just what they were dealing with.

“[The hospital staff] were frustrated because we were all talking nonsense. Everyone who was at the event was calling one another and we didn’t really know we were high.”

The man who had laced the cake with the cannabis-infused chocolate confessed hours later, saying that he had obtained the marijuana edible from “a mate who gets it in the US.”

“The prankster fessed up which was great, in the end, as we were able to pass the information onto the hospital and the ambulance,” she said.

The woman said that the family had been told at the hospital not to drive for 24 hours, but she felt the effects of the cannabis for three days. She and her partner ended up taking off a few days from work to recover completely. She is still not sure how much THC she had ingested.

“My point is we don’t know the quantities in it,” she said. “It’s very unusual to have such severe reactions and no one ate a lot of chocolate, it was just sprinkled over the dessert.”

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Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania Begins Cannabis Legalization Hearings Tour

On Monday, Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman kicked off his statewide trek to discuss the issue of legalizing cannabis for adults. Lt. Gov. Fetterman is journeying across the state as part of a marijuana listening tour that will engage the public and gather input for Gov. Tom Wolf, who will decide whether to push for legalization in Pennsylvania this year. Following closely behind Lt. Gov. Fetterman are a group of advocates who hope to keep the conversation focused on the benefits of a legal approach to adult-use cannabis.

Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Will Talk Legalization on 67-County Marijuana Listening Tour

Lt. Governor Fetterman’s marijuana listening tour will canvas Pennsylvania to gather feedback and commentary about legalizing cannabis for adult use. A majority of Pennsylvanians already support adult-use legalization. But Fetterman is starting his tour in the state’s more conservative central counties, where opposition to legalization is likely to be strongest.

Wherever Pennsylvanians stand on the issue, however, Fetterman says he hopes people will turn out to the events and share their views. “Honestly, I can’t emphasize how earnest I am about that,” Lt. Gov. Fetterman told PennLive. “It’s not interested in what John Fetterman thinks on the subject. What is interesting is what the people of Pennsylvania think. That is what this is truly about.”

Legalization Supporters Hope to Rally Support Behind Pro-Cannabis Lawmakers

What the lieutenant governor thinks on the subject, however, is that Pennsylvania should legalize, tax and regulate a retail cannabis industry. In that, he enjoys the support of other high-ranking elected officials. Pennsylvania’s Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has been outspoken about the financial and economic benefits of legalization. And Pittsburg Mayor Bill Peduto, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner have both fought for legalization, decriminalization and other drug policy reforms.

Furthermore, Democratic lawmakers have already introduced legalization bills this year. Last week, Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) has introduced HB 50, a comprehensive adult-use bill. In Pennsylvania’s upper chamber, Senators are currently at work drafting their own legalization bills.

However, as popular and legislative support for legalization gains momentum, the opposition is digging in. Prominent Republican lawmakers, like Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre), have already blasted legalization. State Sen. Corman called efforts to legalize cannabis “reckless and irresponsible” and “the makings of a catastrophe.”

Yet Centre Country, which Corman represents, was the only central Pennsylvania district to swing blue in the 2018 midterms, giving Gov. Tom Wolf 58 percent of the vote. Shortly after being elected, Wolf tweeted that “it is time for Pennsylvania to take a serious and honest look at recreational marijuana.” Election results in Centre County may signal that Pennsylvania voters are tired of Republican leadership, at least on the issue of cannabis.

Lt. Gov. Fetterman Wants to Hear From Everybody on the Issue of Legalization

But it’s central PA where Lt. Gov. Fetterman is staring his marijuana listening tour. And that means the first voices he’ll hear on the issue will likely be those opposed. But that’s exactly what Fetterman wants. And he hopes local lawmakers will also make the time to attend and share their perspectives. “They are critical to the conversation whether they are pro or con or in the middle,” Fetterman said. For the cannabis advocates who will follow Fetterman on tour, the goal will be to challenge the stigmas around cannabis and the unsupported arguments against legalization.

After collecting data and input from events in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, Fetterman will assemble a report for Gov. Wolf. That report will also be available publicly. If you live in Pennsylvania but are unable to attend any of Lt. Gov. Fetterman’s speaking engagements, you can still make your voice heard. Fetterman says the speaking tour will soon have a website where Pennsylvanians can leave comments on the issue of legalization.

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Citiva’s Bite of the Big Apple

Just across the street from the bustling Barclays Center subway stop in Brooklyn, a new kind of store has opened its doors. And though it may resemble an Apple Store from a quick glance (the Apple store is actually just up the block), this fresh establishment offers up something danker than the next iPhone: cannabis.

“It’s not your typical dispensary,” notes Citiva president Michael Quattrone as he breaks from his busy day for an interview. “The first reaction I get most often is ‘I kind of feel like I’m in a spa.’… It kinda has a modern-day apothecary vibe.” But though this new Brooklyn Citiva location may offer all the sheen and comfort of a massage studio, it still keeps its cool. Created by a local Brooklyn artist, a mosaic spans the entire back wall, Citiva’s logo sharply in focus. Potted succulents and candles set an ambiance. Cannabis powders, vape cartridges, and capsules sit in well-organized drawers amongst giant interactive table top screens.

Since December 30, the doors to this Citiva location have opened, welcoming Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents (and any other medical card-carrying New Yorkers who pass through, for that matter). And that is what Citiva truly wants to be: welcoming. The dispensary not only hopes to serve its medical customers, but also to educate, enrich, and give back to the community which has welcomed them.

Citiva’s Bite of the Big Apple

Courtesy of Citiva

Calling All Artists and Influencers

Not only do they call upon the borough’s extensive amount of creative talent to line their walls, Citiva of Brooklyn has begun to roll out a new sort of “contest”. “Basically, I want to create a line of packaging created by local artists,” Quattrone says, “If your art is chosen, you’re on the packaging.”

What’s most important continues to be in the inclusion of the community where they’ve secured their new roots. For Citiva, it goes beyond helping out their suffering artist friends. Quattrone goes on to define more of the packaging art contest, stating that he likely could only promise the artist the recognition and glory of being seen by a large public. However, he does state, “But from the proceeds, we’ll donate X amount of money towards an organization or charity decided by survey of what our customers want that money to go to, what is most important to them.”  Might that be cannabis research? Something more specific to the community itself? That, he says, will be decided by the people they service.

And while this contest idea still requires some time before Brooklynites everywhere grab their felt tip pens and doodle their best cannabis leaf, it shows the determination and mission of Citiva to involve their customers and community in the store. They don’t stop at polling their customers. They also have plans to host events to educate or just talk about cannabis and how it affects the community.

Yes We Cannabis— Citiva’s Mission for Social Justice

Currently, the company’s facilities have begun expanding; they are in the midst of building a much larger grow house. As these plans unfold, an interim grow house supplies Citiva’s customers. But once the new grow house is up and running, Citiva hopes to turn the interim grow house into an education center.

With this new center, Citiva wants to lift up those burdened by social justice issues or who have been convicted of charges— charges which will hopefully be expunged or pardoned with a new shift in marijuana policy in New York state. Unfortunately, that shift has yet to happen to allow those with prior convictions to work in a NY dispensary. But Quattrone explains the conception of a new program for that foreseeable day on the horizon: “We’re trying to come up with a program where they can actually learn from seed to sale— the whole process.”

With this sort of course, an individual will then have the training and education necessary to be offered a job either with Citiva or in the cannabis industry. Quattrone sees even bigger dreams for the “graduates” of this possible program: “Maybe they’ll go out and start their own company and do their own thing, which couldn’t make me happier.”

Quattrone wants Citiva to be involved in that conversation about social justice. “We go to so many events where the loudest voices in the room are about justice,” he says. But more than being involved, Quattrone prizes the ability to listen in these spaces, especially to the voices of the people who have been in this industry or incarcerated because of it. They attend meetings across the entirety of New York City discussing the themes of social justice and the cannabis industry, attended by investors and residents alike. “There’s so much wrong in the world, you know? And if we can just be conscious about where we’re going with this stuff— that’s a big deal… And I want to help, you know? Invite mentors in— whatever ‘help’ looks like.”

Not only do they interact personally with this New York community to understand how to give back to the marginalized and disenfranchised populations it serves, but Citiva seeks to actively employ a diverse staff. Conscious of racial and gender disparities in the industry, Citiva hires women and people of color at various levels of the company. In this effort, they hope to maintain a wide perspective in the industry.

In the end, Citiva is more than just some patchouli head shop or swanky dispensary set up on Flatbush Ave. Rather, it is a community builder. In this way, Citiva unites and underlines the best things about cannabis itself: its ability to help someone medically alongside its power to build and foster community and connection.

Citiva’s Bite of the Big Apple

Courtesy of Citiva

Open Door Policy

Everyone 21 years or older is welcome in the Citiva dispensary in Brooklyn. However, only NY state medical card carriers can purchase any of the diverse products the store offers. Nonetheless, one of the helpful patient care representatives would still be happy to show and potential customer around the place, maybe even with a consultation on one of the giant screens embedded into a tabletop. From here, the screen will lead the customer through an array of questions pertaining to any issues they may be experiencing. Based on the responses one gives, the questionnaire provides options for what may help to solve the issue. But they aren’t only maintaining screen-time for their customer service.

According to Quattrone, this is when the patient care representative steps in and “explains even more than what the screen is already doing—just about the products we offer, what it means to them dosing, potential side effects, or other interactions with the drugs they may or may not be taking.” And to top of the customer experience, the pharmacist oversees that entire purchase, ensuring the customer is aware of those interactions and side effects.

For those without a medical card, the experience of visiting Citiva may be more like visiting a dope museum where you want all the items on display. But considering the imprint the store has left and will continue to leave on this corner of Brooklyn, it may be worth the visit.

Get The Goods

Citiva sells a wide range of cannabis products for its medical consumers. Unfortunately, New York state law still seeks to limit cannabis consumption in many forms. As a result, cannabis flower does not grace their product line. Dispensaries in the state are prohibited from selling edibles or flower and are restricted to selling vape cartridges, powders, and capsules. Nevertheless, the products for sale are cultivated to suit a medical patient’s specific needs.

While the strains themselves can also not be legally listed on the label, the ratios of THC to CBD do receive mention. And while these products range in price, they do come with the obligatory NYC price-tag. But that, Quattrone assures, is confirmation of quality.

Citiva’s Bite of the Big Apple

Courtesy of Citiva

Home is Where the High Is—Citiva’s Future in Brooklyn

As New York state works to establish recreational sales of cannabis, Citiva readies itself too. It is in this context of preparing and understanding for that future landscape that Michael Quattrone assures me, “There’s a lot that has to happen regulation-wise… The official bill needs to be reconciled before it becomes an actual law. But we’re ready. Let’s just say that.”

Because at the heart of this company is simply the motive to bring cannabis to the people. “Cannabis has helped in so many ways,” Quattrone proclaims, “and so many people look at recreational versus medical. I think so many people using it for recreational purposes only don’t realize the medical benefits that are happening to them.” But until that future recreational cannabis is legal, Citiva wants to help New Yorkers feel that relief, whether in Brooklyn or its 5 other New York locations.

In fact, the dispensary offers next-day delivery to its customers, servicing even the other NYC boroughs. Soon, they hope to offer delivery down to the same-hour, but unfortunately for New Yorkers hooked on a food delivery app model, that sort of convenience is not launched yet. Nonetheless, Citiva’s Brooklyn dispensary hopes to meld cannabis into that Empire State of mind and keeps its customers happy, no matter their borough. Because, as Quattrone simply put it, “We really want to bring cannabis to everyone that’s legally able to get it.”

New York City couldn’t be more welcoming to that idea.

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The ‘420 Bill’ to Federally Legalize Marijuana Has Officially Been Introduced

A federal bill that would legalize cannabis and regulate it like alcohol was introduced in the Senate on Friday by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. The bill, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, has been designated as S. 420 by Wyden and is a companion measure to H.R. 420, which was introduced in the House of Representatives by fellow Oregon Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer last month.

A Democratic aide to the Senate Finance Committee, where Wyden is the ranking member, said that the bill aims to “responsibly legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana at the federal level,” according to media reports. Wyden said in a press release on Friday that now is the time for cannabis reform at the national level.

“The federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed,” Wyden said. “It’s time Congress make the changes Oregonians and Americans across the country are demanding.”

Blumenauer agreed, noting that voters’ opinions on cannabis have changed and that their representatives in Congress should follow suit.

“Oregon has been and continues to be a leader in commonsense marijuana policies and the federal government must catch up,” said Blumenauer. “The American people have elected the most pro-cannabis Congress in American history and significant pieces of legislation are being introduced. The House is doing its work and with the help of Senator Wyden’s leadership in the Senate, we will break through.”

Bill is Part of Legislative Package

S. 420 is part of a package of bills intended to reform federal cannabis policy dubbed by Wyden and Blumenauer as the Path to Marijuana Reform. The other measures in the package, the Small Business Tax Equity Act and the Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act. The Small Business Tax Equity Act would repeal provisions of the tax code that deny cannabis businesses the right to take the same tax deductions as companies in other industries.

The Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act would remove federal criminal penalties and civil asset forfeiture for individuals and businesses complying with state law. The bill would also give cannabis businesses legal under state law access to banking, bankruptcy protection, marijuana research, and advertising. The bill includes an expungement process for some marijuana convictions which will reduce some of the collateral damage of the War on Drugs, including the denial of federal housing and financial aid. The bill also gives veterans access to legal medical marijuana programs and protects Native American tribes from prosecution under federal cannabis laws.

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Inside the Murder Mountain Documentary Everyone is Talking About

Though the Humboldt County-centered, true-crime documentary Murder Mountain was first released by Fusion, it saw a surge in popularity after dropping on Netflix in late December. The six-episode series takes its name from Alderpoint, a small, census-designated area of Humboldt County that has earned itself the grim, alliterative nickname with salacious tales of mystery and murder. In Murder Mountain, filmmakers show the halcyon “hippie paradise” days of early cannabis farmers juxtaposed against a modern Humboldt where more people go missing annually than any other county in California. An unresolved murder, alleged outlaw culture, a group of vigilantes, and gritty missing posters are the sometimes overly dramatic hooks of the series. However, viewers will also find heroes in long-time farmers trying to secure permits to legally grow cannabis, as well as community members dedicated to finding justice for the missing and the dead.

The narrative has been cause for controversy, with rebuttals coming from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Humboldt County residents, and the filmmakers themselves. But if there’s one thing parties can agree on, it’s that Humboldt County ought to be a place where farmers can equitably make a safe and legal living. We spoke to filmmakers and subjects to get a fuller picture of  “Murder Mountain” and what happens next.

Humboldt County’s Missing

Murder Mountain was directed by Joshua Zeman and produced by media company Lightbox, co-founded by cousins Simon and Jonathan Chinn. Jonathan Chinn tells High Times that they were first drawn to the county’s missing persons statistics, as well as its long-standing ties to cannabis—an industry that finally, at least in California, might offer a legal way to earn a living.

“From a storytelling point of view, it was kind of a perfect storm,” Chinn said. “All these missing people [and] a community that had a rich history. The origination story of the [cannabis] industry up there is pretty fascinating, and we were going to be there literally during the transition from black to white market.”

Just how bad is the missing persons epidemic in Humboldt County? In early 2018, The North Coast Journal found that an average of 717 people per 100,000 residents were reported missing per year between 2000 and 2016, compared to an average of 384 people throughout the rest of the state. The investigation also pointed out that some people are inadvertently reported missing more than once, some are discovered to have gone voluntarily missing, and many reappear shortly after the report is made. Rebekah Martinez, a 22-year-old California woman listed as missing in that same article, was quickly located by a tipster. Where was she? Starring as a contestant on The Bachelor. Martinez had indeed gone to Humboldt County to decompress, but a lack of cell service had prevented her from getting ahold of her worried mother or law enforcement.

For those who are so fortunate to be found alive, the lack of cell service, the remoteness of the area, and the constant influx of naive, car-less “trimmigants” hoping to work for strangers are all key reasons why, according to Murder Mountain. Plus, many people feel uncomfortable reporting suspicious or illegal activity to law enforcement.

“There’s absolutely a tradition of people up on the mountain not wanting to come forward and it makes sense,” Chinn said. “They’re like, ‘what do you do?’ ‘Well, I grow marijuana.’ ‘Oh, well, do you have a permit?’ You can understand why, in a community that has historically been engaged in a criminal activity, probably the last place you’d want to walk into is a police station.”

It’s a common issue in other black market or legally gray industries, too. The deeper underground an industry is pushed by persecution or prosecution, the more unsafe it becomes for the most vulnerable of its participants.

Soon after arriving in Humboldt, filmmakers were captivated by the story of Garret Rodriguez, a 29-year-old San Diego man whose father reported him missing in 2013. Rodriguez had told his father he was going to Humboldt County to work in the cannabis industry and, specifically, he was going to a place called ‘Murder Mountain.’

In the early 1980s, James “Michael Bear” and Suzan “Bear” Carson murdered at least three people along the West Coast. Their second victim, Clark Stephens, worked with the couple on a cannabis farm in Alderpoint. The Carsons are a big part of how ‘Murder Mountain’ got its name. So is the disappearance of Bobby Tennison, a father of four who went missing after going up to Alderpoint to work a freelance construction gig in 2009, and so is Rodriguez. A 2013 Huffington Post article on ‘Murder Mountain’ referenced long-time homesteaders who complained that the so-called Green Rush had attracted hustlers out for easy money, who brought with them hard drugs and transients.

Several months after Rodriguez disappeared, a group of eight vigilantes known as the Alderpoint 8 confronted the man they believed to be responsible at gunpoint. He would ultimately lead them to where Rodriguez’s body had been buried, but no one has been arrested. A confession at gunpoint could be considered coercion. Witnesses have been obfuscated or killed. Rodriguez was shot, but the murder weapon hasn’t been found. While many people are convinced they know who the killer is, officially, Rodriguez’s murder remains unsolved.

In the wake of Murder Mountain, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office found themselves inundated with inquiries from viewers who also wanted justice for Rodriguez. In response, HCSO issued a statement calling Murder Mountain “one side of a highly sensationalized story,” and emphasized that they could not bring a case against someone on “hearsay” alone. The statement also corroborated a point made in the documentary: some residents remain reluctant or unwilling to talk to law enforcement.

Bonnie Taylor, Garrett Rodriguez’s aunt, fired back, saying she felt the series’ depiction was accurate and it was “clear to me that [HCSO] only sought to discredit the documentary because it exposes their incompetence in the case.”

Chinn said he has nothing but respect for the HCSO, but stands by the series.

“I guess the decision they made was to sort of write it off as a Hollywood fantasy,” Chinn said. “But I don’t think that aligns with what a lot of other people in Humboldt are saying which is, ‘yeah, we’ve got a real problem here, in that there is not enough trust between law enforcement and the growing community and that needs to improve if the county is going to move in the direction that I think everybody wants.’”

Inside the Murder Mountain Documentary Everyone is Talking About

Murder Mountain/ Courtesy of Netflix

The Rest of Humboldt County

Other characters the documentary followed offer a key dichotomy: those cannabis farmers who want to be legal and those who either can’t afford it or who prefer “outlaw culture.” One grower, identified only as ‘Austin,’ wants nothing to do with a legal operation. He engages in risky behavior and deals with legal and other troubles because of it.

Meanwhile, Marion Collamer is a voice of reason in the documentary. She came to Humboldt 20 years ago to work on a farm and has never left. She now raises her family with her husband, Greg, whom she met as a trimmigrant and later married. She said as soon as legal growing was an option, they jumped on it. The alternative, she said, is “a horrible way to live.”

Collamer said she initially agreed to be in the series to talk about cannabis legalization and how it was affecting Humboldt’s OGs and was surprised at the show’s true-crime focus. And while she felt like the representation of law enforcement, Humboldt’s OG growers, and the plight of small farmers was accurate, she wants people to know Humboldt isn’t a scary place. For one thing, Humboldt is big: it’s the second largest county in California, and her own farm is over a three-hour drive from Alderpoint.

“There’s one part [in the film] where this guy is saying there’s a dark energy here,” Collamer said. “There’s not a dark energy here. The Humboldt that I know is light and beautiful, and this county has given so many people so much. Yes, there are old-school farms and outlaws, but there are also a lot of people who are trying to bring new technology and the latest laws and the latest packaging—anything we can do to make our county able to fight with the Coke and Pepsis of weed that are coming in.”

In one scene in Murder Mountain, residents speak at a council meeting about the struggle of small farmers trying to become legal. Collamer says the tears and frustration captured by cameras were real. She personally believes that legalization should offer different standards for different tiers so that small farmers can get a break. To weather the storm until then, Collamer is a founding farmer with The Humboldt Sun Growers Guild and the brand True Humboldt, which is comprised of sun-grown cannabis from farms all over the area. This way, small farms can band together and hopefully stay afloat despite the high costs of legalization.

Collamer also disagrees with a quote from Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal suggesting that there’s nothing about Humboldt County that makes it a good place to grow cannabis except that its remote woodiness makes it easy to hide.

“That’s one hundred percent wrong,” Collamer said. “It is the land, the terroir, the pollinates—Humboldt County is more than just a place where weed is grown; it’s a place where it’s part of the culture and people are very passionate about making it work here.”

Further, Collamer hopes that the series doesn’t dissuade anyone curious about the area or industry from visiting.

“I would encourage anyone who was shocked or scared by Murder Mountain to come here and find out for themselves,” Collamer said. “I came here and never left. There is something special here.”

Will Garret’s Family Ever Receive Justice?

In early February, KFMB News 8 in San Diego used court records to identify the man confronted by the Alderpoint 8, something the documentary did not do. (As Chinn noted, “People are innocent until proven guilty in this country, and we believe in that.”) Humboldt County’s District Attorney has thus far opted not to file criminal charges, but all is not lost for Rodriguez’s family. The investigation remains open, and there may be some hope in an alleged accomplice who could provide witness testimony and in some of the statements provided by interview subjects in Murder Mountain. Rodriguez’s family is currently accepting donations via GoFundMe to continue to pay private investigators to stay on the case, a cost they have already shouldered themselves for six years.

Chinn said that while there is no agenda to make a sequel, they do feel as though they know what happened to Rodriguez and would be interested in returning to Humboldt if the case were to move forward.

“My desire would be that the Humboldt County law enforcement takes another look at this case and if they do, and it moves forward, and we have an opportunity to pick up the story and try to bring it to a more satisfying conclusion for the family, we’d love to do it,” Chinn said. “But we have no plans right now to do that. It’s really up to the family members and law enforcement to figure out the next step.”

If anything, filmmakers hope that Murder Mountain leads to further discussion. And, judging from the response, it’s certainly done that.

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40-Acre Cannabis Cultivation Facility Officially Underway in Coachella

This year, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will culminate the weekend of April 20th—a.k.a. 420. But today, the city of Coachella is celebrating breaking ground on a massive new cannabis facility. The more than 40-acre facility will house cultivation, manufacturing and distribution operations. With a plan to finish all construction early 2020, city officials and industry heads hope the Coachella Cann Park will bring jobs and economic revitalization to the city.

Construction Begins on City of Coachella’s Cann Park Cultivation Facility

Once the site of an old junkyard, the 40-acre plot of land at the corner of Harrison and Avenue 48 will soon be the home of a state-of-the-art cannabis facility, Coachella Cann Park. Cann Park will be the Coachella valleys first indoor cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and distribution facility.

The project is massive in scope. It combines indoor cultivation, greenhouse and manufacturing spaces across 24 structures, totaling nearly 800,000 square feet. Furthermore, the greenhouse spaces are “turnkey” units, meaning they will be immediately available for cultivation. The light deprivation greenhouses will come equipped with flowing and veg lights, automated fertilizer and irrigation (“fertigation”) systems, heating and cooling systems and plenty of staff accommodations. In addition to greenhouses, Cann Park will offer three-story, Class A indoor cultivation and manufacturing “condos.”

Cann Park developers and the City of Coachella are also heavily incentivizing occupancy. In addition to extremely low utility costs and full electrical supply, Coachella is offering tax breaks for the Cann Park project only. Support from local government and key location for distribution will likely be major draws for the project. In fact city officials are banking on it, counting on Cann Park to bring hundreds of jobs and economic revitalization to the struggling city.

Can Cann Park Revitalize Coachella’s Downtrodden Industries?

Speaking with reporters at Friday’s ground breaking ceremony, Riverside County Supervisor Manuel Perez said the ultimate goals of Cann Park are “to create jobs for the locals” and “making sure we provide services and programs for those that live here in the city of Coachella.”

Coachella Mayer Steven Hernandez views the Cann Park project as a way to rebrand the city. Coachella used to have a thriving auto-wrecking and junk business. That industry has since left town, leaving behind abandoned junk yards like the site now being used for Cann Park. Now, visitors and residents of Coachella will see something different: a facility representing a vibrant growth industry. “I think this is the culmination of a vision and the fact that this is happening is a good sign of the direction of the city and the industry in the City of Coachella,” Mayor Hernandez said.

Project developers are also confident that Cann Park can create an economic boon for Coachella. President of Desert Rock Development,  Michael Mead, boasted that construction on Cann Park will create 250 jobs. When the project is complete, Mead expects it to create up to 500 permanent jobs for workers in the city. “There will be a lot of high paying jobs,” Mead told reporters. “Jobs that can allow families to purchase homes.”

Beyond that, the vision is to turn Coachella into a cultivation and manufacturing hub for California’s cannabis industry. Mayor Hernandez wants his city to become the largest powered cannabis zone in the United States. And toward that end, The Cann Park project is a good start.

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Enlightened and Bejeweled: The High-End Jewelry Designed by Carole Shashona

You can find the high-end cannabis-inspired jewelry by Carole Shashona at Barney’s of New York. The retail location brings cannabis culture out in the open in a big way.

The designer came into her own in the world of fashion, raised in the presence of fashion and art icons such as Valentino and Andy Warhol in his Factory in New York in the 1960s.

“I have been blessed to have lived such an extraordinary life,” she shared. “Being raised around fashion icons like Valentino and artists like Warhol taught me how art and fashion are a way to express oneself and make a statement without saying a word. I had something to say. I wanted to break the stereotypes of cannabis advocates, remove the stigma, and start talking about it so more people could have safe alternatives. If we don’t talk about it, it will never get the research so it can be further developed and more accessible as a real option for people.”

The drug culture was no stranger to Shashona, who admitted learning to roll expert joints while attending the High School for Performing Arts in New York—famous from the 1980 film Fame.

“I was a dancer and was high on life—I became the the designated joint sifter and roller,” she laughed. “I can roll a really tight joint.”

Enlightened and Bejeweled: The High-End Jewelry Designed by Carole Shashona

Carole in the 1960s, outfit by Pucci; Courtesy of Carole Shashona

Though she doesn’t consider herself a patient, Shashona has seen many of her friends helped by cannabis. Six years ago, she became aware of its properties from clients who were going through chemotherapy for cancer, and used cannabis for side effects associated with the treatment. Since then, she’s witnessed cannabis help those with PTSD and relieve anxiety, though she’d like to see more research done.

Shashona said witnessing the experience encouraged her to make a statement about cannabis—one of love and compassion.

“I wanted to change the narrative about the plant,” she continued. “I know when people look at me they would not see me as a typical advocate—and that’s what I want to change. No more judgements and stereotypes. Just conversation and healing.”

Enlightened and Bejeweled: The High-End Jewelry Designed by Carole Shashona

Portrait of Carole by Andy Warhol; Courtesy of Carole Shashona

Her path to enlightenment began in Hong Kong, learning from one of the Grand Masters, leading her to become one of the first female American Grand Masters.

“I walked many gardens and paths with my Master and he always taught me about how nature mirrors life,” she shared. “I’m inspired by nature, the world around me, and use the power of colors, symbols and stones in all of my pieces. Everything in my line is designed with an intention to attract energy for positive flow and wellness and uses symbolism, giving each piece much more than just an accent for style.”

Shashona shared that just as an artist creates their masterpiece, we as humans create our masterpiece of life.

“I design each piece of my collection as a life compass for the person wearing it to provide protection and blessings as they go through the art of life,” she surmised. “Wearing each piece also acts like a reminder of their desired life path, just like an artist has an intention on what they want to portray, my jewelry should be used for that same purpose.”

The stones used in her pieces are no different, stating, once while being operated on she used pink quartz in her hand, wrapping a bandage around it to assist in relaxing in love and energy.

“I use black diamonds for empowerment and protection in most of my pieces,” she added. “Symbols like Buddha, Goddess and Lotus for blessings, wisdom and good health. My cannabis collection was created with the intention to bestow blessings to the wearer, while creating conversations to bring forth social change.”

Though Shashona sees cannabis as a positive experience, both physically and spiritually, she also acknowledges the Yin and the Yang of the plant, as far as perceptions go – encouraging awareness for more education and research.

“I’ve always loved the beauty of the Cannabis plant and its healing powers, so I tried to recreate this beauty using the power of the stones,” she said. “I chose to use the recognizable symbol of the plant leaf, along with a slogan, “Lighten Up” as part of an effort to change the conversation about cannabis.”

Enlightened and Bejeweled: The High-End Jewelry Designed by Carole Shashona

Earrings with Tahitian Pearls; Courtesy of Carole Shashona

As a seasoned jewelry designer with a background of being a Grand Master in Feng, her art has always been her form of communication.

“I always try and focus on the positive. My Shiva necklace from the Cannabis Collection pays homage to the Hindu God Shiva, who has been associated with cannabis for centuries. I designed it with the head of Shiva in black onyx to block negativity, black diamonds for protection and empowerment, and a moon disk for a compassionate mind.”

For more information on Carole Shashona and her designs visit, Carole on Facebook, Instagram

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The Findings From A Groundbreaking Study On Psychedelic Microdosing Are In

The concept of microdosing has been around for a while. Recently, it’s enjoyed an upsurge of renewed attention, both in mainstream media and among some academics.

In general, microdosing is the practice of taking tiny doses of psychedelic substances on a frequent basis, sometimes daily or every couple days. The idea is that each individual dose is too small to produce any serious effects, but still substantial enough to generate subtle changes.

This, proponents claim, leads to a number of benefits. Typically, fans of microdosing claim it helps them focus better, stay mentally alert, enjoy greater levels of happiness and creativity, and other similar benefits.

To put all this to test, a group of researchers recently completed a groundbreaking study. And the results of that study were just published in the journal PLOS One.

The Study

To conduct the study, researchers had to figure out a way to work around laws prohibiting the possession and use of psychedelic drugs.

They decided to work with people already microdosing. From there, researchers asked them a number of questions to gauge the effects of microdosing.

More specifically, participants answered a number of questions each day. Additionally, they answered a more intensive set of questions at the beginning and end of the specified study timeframe.

Finally, researchers gathered, aggregated, and analyzed all participant responses. They looked for any trends that could point to consistent outcomes from microdosing.

Positive Outcomes of Microdosing

According to researcher Vince Polito, who summarized the study at The Conversation, study participants reported mostly positive effects.

The most pronounced positive effects of microdosing include:

  • A general boost in things like creativity, focus, happiness, productivity, and other indicators on days that people microdosed. The study found less pronounced effects on days that people did not take a dose.
  • People tended to report lower levels of depression and stress when they microdosed. Polito noted that none of the participants had serious issues with depression or stress, so that could have skewed the data on this point.
  • Participants said they were more focused and imaginative when they were microdosing.

Negative Outcomes of Microdosing

Along with the positive experiences people had from microdosing, there were also some negative ones. Chief among these was a slight uptick in feelings of neuroticism.

According to researchers, some participants had such bad experiences when they first started microdosing that they stopped experimenting with it.

More generally, there was a slight increase in neurotic feelings after six weeks of steady microdosing. Based on this finding, researchers guess that it may be fairly common to begin feeling more and more negative emotions after the six-week mark.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Ultimately, this study is mostly laying the groundwork for more comprehensive investigations into both the practice of microdosing and the potential benefits of psychedelics.

In particular, Polito reminded readers that all data used in the study came from personal questionnaires, not more controlled experimentation. If laws about psychedelics become more lenient, it will likely become possible to carry out more scientifically rigorous tests.

Similarly, this study was fairly broad and general. As a result, it primarily provides general ideas about microdosing and psychedelics rather than well-proven trends and outcomes.

“There are promising indications of possible benefits of microdosing here,” Polito wrote. “But also indications of some potential negative impacts, which should be taken seriously.”

He added: “It’s early days for microdosing research and this work shows that we need to look more carefully at the effects of low dose psychedelics on mental health, attention, and neuroticism.”

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Weed the People Chronicles Families Searching For Cannabis Cancer Treatments

Sometimes the most powerful stories are the ones you stumble upon without even looking for in the first place. That was the case for Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, the filmmakers behind Weed the People, a new documentary about families navigating the cannabis world in an effort to treat their cancer-stricken children.

“This documentary came to life from a very organic and personal place,” Epstein tells High Times.

Lake was trying to help a sick 7-year-old girl who had become a superfan of hers after watching Lake on the TV show Dancing with the Stars. Lake researched a variety of integrative therapies to help the young girl get through her brutal chemotherapy regime. Ultimately, she discovered studies about the anti-tumoral properties of CBD and THC.

“Next thing I knew, Ricki called me and said she was taking the girl on a plane up to Mendocino, California, to meet a cannabis physician,” Epstein recalls.

Weed the People Chronicles Families Searching For Cannabis Cancer Treatments

Courtesy of Weed the People

Lake and Epstein had previously collaborated on The Business of Being Born, a critically acclaimed documentary about the American health care system and childbirth. This time around, there was no set plan— just a strong hunch that they could be on to something.

“We just started filming on instinct, having no idea where the story was heading,” Epstein says.

Now, more than six years later, they’ve produced Weed the People, which takes a deeply intimate look into the struggles families face as they seek treatment for some of the most vicious and unforgiving illnesses.

The documentary follows five families with their own distinct stories and life experiences. What unites them is their common quest for cannabis-related cancer treatments in an era when research and access are incredibly limited.

“At the time we started filming in 2013, it was quite a small, underground world,” Epstein explains. “We were extremely selective about the experts. There are a lot of pseudo-experts in the cannabis world, and we attended many conferences throughout the years to identify who were the most ethical and legitimate experts.”

One such expert was Bonni Goldstein, a pediatrician and cannabis clinician who is currently the medical director of Canna-Centers, a California-based medical practice that educates patients about using cannabis for serious and chronic medical conditions. Four out of the five children in Weed the People are Goldstein’s patients.

Weed the People Chronicles Families Searching For Cannabis Cancer Treatments

Courtesy of Weed the People

“Many children with cancer get better with conventional therapy,” Goldstein says. “However, the toll that it takes on their developing brains and bodies is tremendous. Cannabis may help protect them from unwanted side effects while assisting in killing cancer cells.”

Mara Gordon, co-founder of Aunt Zelda’s and Zelda Therapeutics, is another primary expert voice in the documentary. She specializes in the development of cannabis extract treatment protocols for seriously ill patients in California and has presented at many accredited medical conferences worldwide.

“We need more research, but in the meantime, people are dying who may be helped by this plant that has zero instances of overdose in recorded history,” Gordon says. “It is a human rights abuse on a global scale that people aren’t given access to such a simple option as cannabis.”

Gordon adds that “sufficient scientific evidence” exists to justify human trials, and that it’s time for lawmakers and the medical community to stop with prohibition and fear mongering.

“It’s important that parents and physicians know that cannabis is safe as long as it is third-party lab tested to show its purity,” Gordon says. “There is no evidence that children’s IQs are impacted. And let’s be clear, the caustic pharmaceuticals these kids are required to take in order to treat cancers and other diseases can have harmful and lasting side effects.”

One of Gordon’s patients was Sophie Ryan, whose journey is prominently featured in the documentary. In July 2013, Tracy and Josh Ryan learned that their 7-month-old daughter had an inoperable brain tumor. The doctors prescribed chemotherapy as the only course of treatment, but couldn’t guarantee that it would work. In Weed the People, viewers watch as her parents try cannabis oil as an alternative treatment and, ultimately, as a supplement to traditional western medicine.

“Sophie is doing absolutely amazing,” her mom, Tracy Ryan, tells High Times. “Her tumor has a 90 percent survival rate, but an 85 percent recurrence rate, so treatment can go on for years.”

Despite Sophie being on four chemotherapies that should cause hair thinning or loss, and in many cases extreme sickness, she is not experiencing those side effects.

“Sophie’s hair has gotten not only thicker, but a lot longer,” Ryan says. “She basically has no side effects. She might have nausea a couple times a month, but that’s it. Once again, [she’s] leaving her doctors surprised.”

These days, Sophie is just a typical kid, with a few notable exceptions.

“Sophie’s in kindergarten, thriving, and loving life,” says Ryan, who went on to establish CannaKids, which supplies medical cannabis oil tinctures and cannabis products to patients of all ages.

“Sophie speaks with me on stages at conferences across the country in front of sometimes 1,000 people plus, and loves it more than anything I have ever seen,” Ryan says. “We have about as normal a life as we could hope for, all while having a child with a very pesky brain tumor.”

Weed the People Chronicles Families Searching For Cannabis Cancer Treatments

Courtesy of Weed the People

Also featured in the film is AJ Kephart, who began his battle against Stage 4 Osteosarcoma when he was diagnosed at age 14. The cancer ultimately spread from his bones to his lungs, and his prognosis looked dire — until cannabis came into the picture.

“Before we started AJ on cannabis, we were told by his oncologist that he only had a few months to live and to start hospice,” AJ’s mom, Sheila Kephart, says. “My husband and I felt helpless. Then we were introduced to cannabis through Dr. Goldstein, and a miracle happened.”

Before starting cannabis treatment, AJ was in constant pain and on pain pills 24/7.

“We were giving him Oxycodone, Valium, Motrin, and morphine,” Kephart says. “He had lost 13 pounds in a week, and he was running a fever of 104.7 that we could not bring down. When we took him to Dr. Goldstein, she realized that he was in danger and put him on a high dose of cannabis.”

Within three days, AJ’s fever went away. Within a week, he began eating again and was down to taking just one Oxycodone a day. Today, he is cancer-free.

“It was truly a miracle,” Kephart says. “If it had not happened to us, I would never believe AJ’s story. But it did happen to us — I cannot deny the truth of it.”

AJ recently graduated high school and is currently attending Moorpark College in California, where he’s majoring in animation. He is also part of an ongoing study at UCLA.

“AJ has a really big heart, and is always ready to give whatever he has,” Kephart says. “He had to grow up very quickly and be an adult [because of] his illness. He realized at a very young age that material stuff is just stuff — it is friendships and family that are most important to him.”

Weed the People also tells the stories of three additional children battling cancer, one of whom tragically passed away before the film was completed.

The parents of the other two children, Chico Ryder and Cecilia von Harz, could not be reached for comment before this story was published.

“We have to take each situation case by case, but certainly cannabis should be considered as a part of treatment,” Goldstein says. “The film’s most important takeaway is that cannabis cannot continue to be a Schedule I drug — this prohibits desperately needed research. Additionally, we must stop believing the propaganda that it is dangerous. After 11 years of being a medical cannabis pediatrician, I can state without any hesitation that it is safe to use as medicine.”

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