The High Priestess: What to Smoke For Spring

Editors Note: High Times is thrilled to present our newest bi-weekly column The High Priestess. Written by author and practitioner of magick, Gabriela Herstik, this column will explore the relationship and intersections of cannabis, witchcraft, sex, wellness, and everything in between. At High Times, we strive to keep our minds and our hearts open while centering and uplifting those whose views and practices have traditionally been denied a platform and excluded from the discussion. After all, what is the cannabis space if not inclusive? 

On Wednesday, March 20, we’re greeted with a Full Moon, a new season (SPRING!) and the Astrological New Year. The Spring Equinox marks the transition from winter to spring, and the Astrological New Year, the move from watery Pisces season (the last sign of the zodiac) to fiery Aries season (the first sign of the zodiac). Day and night are equal lengths on the equinox, and we’re officially a few short months away from the longest day of the year on the Solstice. Plus, we have a Full Moon in air sign Libra, the sign of the scales. This sign is ruled by the planet Venus, so it’s all about pleasure and victory, justice and beauty.

And yes, Mercury is retrograde right now, so if you’re feeling any sort of anything right now, you’re not alone.

After a long and dreary winter, Spring marks a return to the light, to the sun, to the warmth. Even if it’s still dark and cold right now, we know summer is closer than it seems. Many of us are feeling called back into ourselves, into the energy of expansion and freedom that Spring invites us into.

Florals for spring aren’t groundbreaking, and neither is smoking herbal blends. But there’s just something about working with herbs and cannabis together that feels so right and potent for the current astrology and energy. So, that’s what this column is about.

If you’ve been inspired to try mixing different herbs with your cannabis, I’ll be sharing four of my favorite herbs and how you can work with them this Full Moon and Spring. I only smoke organic herbs and I buy mine from Mountain Rose Herbs. Try adding a pinch of the herb to whatever cannabis you’re smoking, and then play around with different blends to figure out what you like. Get creative!

Please do your homework before smoking any herbs if you’re on any medications!

The High Priestess: What to Smoke For Spring

Alexandra Herstik

Smoke to Relax and Heal: Lavender

Lavender is one of the most relaxing herbs out there, and chances are you’re already familiar with its sweet and soothing aroma. The lavender plant is veiled in mystic lore, and can be used in magick for healing, protection, and divination.

Ruled over by the planet Mercury, lavender is perfect to smoke during Mercury Retrograde (Rx). This is when it looks like the planet is spinning backwards, causing communication, technology, and travel (what Mercury rules over) to go haywire. During this time exes come back, travel can become tricky, and we’re discouraged to sign contracts.

But what this really means is that we have the chance to slow down, get really clear and precise, and surrender. It can be hard, and thankfully lavender and cannabis can help us do to the dirty work of surviving Retrograde with some compassion and tenderness.

The key is to expect the unexpected and also to smoke some lavender the next time you smoke your weed. This is one of my favorite herbs to blend into a joint— I love the slight taste and how it helps me to unwind and chill.

Smoke to Tap into the Warmth of the Sun: Chamomile

Chamomile is ruled by the sun, and it’s a perfect addition to your favorite strain if you want to tap into some warmth and light. This sweet herb can help reduce anxiety and release tension, and although it can be used to melt us into sleep (especially when mixed with some Indica,) chamomile is delightful during the day because it’s so joyous and warm. It brings the energy of the sun, which can feel deliciously soothing when it’s cloudy or gross outside.

Chamomile is also an herb of abundance and can help us manifest wealth. So if you’re looking to bring in some more money this spring, focus on what you want to grow as you smoke, exhaling an offering of chamomile to the universe for its help. Chamomile was a particularly delightful discovery–it has a very ethereal high that makes me laugh a lot. It’s a good herb to smoke if you need a pick me up and to invite some play into your life!

Smoke to Tap into Your Intuition and the Full Moon: Mugwort

If you’re looking to tap into your inner witch, then smoking some Mugwort may be the weed-witch way to go. Ruled by the planet Venus, Mugwort is used for clairvoyance, protection, and as a way to tap into intuition and psychic abilities.

The Full Moon is the energetic climax of the month–when all magical working is supported and our intuition is heightened and  “plugged in” to the cosmic energy matrix around us.

This Full Moon is in Libra, which is also ruled by Venus. So if you’re looking to ride the wave of the mystical, or if you’re looking to connect with your inner love goddess–or even Venus herself– then add some Mugwort to whatever it is you’re smoking!

Mugwort creates a really interesting high that, for me, is both in my body and my head. It makes me more receptive to the energy around me, and it definitely adds a different dimension to the high.

Try smoking some Mugwort on the Full Moon as you visualize the white light of the moon’s rays moving through your body as you inhale and leaving your body as you exhale. You can also smoke mugwort in a ritual setting, dedicating it as an offering to the Full Moon and Venus.

To Tap into Love and Your Heart: Rose

Another Venus-ruled herb, roses are well-known to be the love flower. You really can’t escape it and, honestly, why would you want to? Smoking roses can feel luxurious, the fragrance and taste adding sensual magnitude to a smoke sesh.

Fridays are ruled by Venus, and it’s an auspicious day to smoke some roses. And the Full Moon in Libra would also be a perfect time to mix some rose petals into your cannabis.

I find that smoking roses helps me relax and open up myself to others without expectations. It helps foster the energy of unconditional love which can feel like a really beautiful and necessary thing, especially as we move into spring and an energy of sensuality, romance, and love.

Even if the wooing your doing is to yourself, you can still bask in the essence of love and enjoy it for all its worth. Smoke rose petals if you’re looking to claim more pleasure and passion in your life. You can also visualize a bright pink light surrounding you and moving in and out of your lungs as you smoke this herb to help further draw in this flower’s energy.

To Smoke for the Full Moon in Libra: Cannabis, Rose, and Mugwort

If you wanna get freaky this Full Moon, roll a joint with some rose and mugwort and pray to the goddess of love. If you like having sex or masturbating when you’re stoned, there’s no better time to do it than under the Full Moon, and there’s no better blend than cannabis, rose, and mugwort to take you there. If you’re looking to reconnect with your sexuality, or to honor yourself, your heart, your beauty– I invite you to go for it.

Decide on an intention for your sex magick ritual (whether it’s connecting to your heart, beauty, sexuality, or partner) and then create a space that speaks to you by putting on music, lighting incense and candles, dimming the lights…etc. As you smoke this mix, envision yourself surrounded by a vibrant pink light. Feel this connection sensually and meld with the energies of rose; and intertwine to the internal wisdom mugwort offers you. You may wish to call on the energy of Venus or the Full Moon as well.

Then masturbate or have sex. Take it slow, enjoy the process and continue connecting to your breath. As you climax, hold your intention and envision sending energy up through the crown of your head into the universe. Use the afterglow to continue sending energy to your intention. And when you’re done, thank the universe, Venus (or whoever you called on ), and these sacred herbs for the experience. I always recommend recording any thoughts, visions, insights, or feelings for future unraveling and processing.

To Smoke for the Spring Equinox: Cannabis, Lavender, and Chamomile

The Equinox is when day and night even out, and in Spring it means the approach of summer– the return of passion and the fullest power of the sun. For those of us who want to tap into the bright energy of the Spring Equinox and Aries season, smoking cannabis, lavender, and chamomile may be a good option!

This healing high has notes of joy and expansion, and can help us open up to spring while easing any nervousness or anxiety we have about what’s to come. And if Retrograde has been overwhelming, this blend can act as an offering, helping you ease into whatever this new season will bring.

If you still have the winter blues, this mix can help take the edge off; acting as a personal sun to help you navigate the last of the season. Smoke this blend under the sun as you call on his power and envision golden rays cleansing you of anything you no longer need. As you exhale, envision any unnecessary baggage from winter melting away. So it is!

The High Priestess: What to Smoke For Spring

Alexandra Herstik

The wonderful world of smokable herbs is vast and bright, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. May this guide lead you into your own discovery of what you do and don’t like to smoke! There will be more of these, depending on the astrology, what I’m smoking, and what I feel like writing about, so keep an eye out.

Until then, enjoy the Full Moon, the Spring Equinox and the Astrological New Year! And don’t forget to support Insight Garden Program, a California-based non-profit that uses gardening and landscaping as a vehicle to transform prisoners’ lives through connection to nature.

They’re doing extremely important work, using mindfulness and nature as a path to break the cycle of prisoners who leave the system only to return because they’re not given the skills and tools needed to thrive in the free world.

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How Sharmila Clee Got Off Valium With Plant-Assisted Therapy

After drug use caused Sharmila Clee’s parents to lose custody of her and her siblings in 1998, Clee said she was squarely against anything related to drugs or alcohol, including cannabis.

“An anti-drug and alcohol mantra became my identity for years,” she said.

Once her parents and extended biological family’s rights were terminated, Clee and her siblings were put up for adoption. She and her sister were separated from their special needs brother, who needed extended care.

“It was difficult finding a home willing to take in three children with a history of trauma,” Clee shared. “My experience started my passion to become the best social worker in the world, and help other children like us.”

Her brother was eventually returned to her biological parents; Clee started experiencing panic attacks soon after.

“I was barely managing, receiving calls in the middle of the night from my brother, with reports of our dad drunk and violent,” she recalled. “I was three hours away at college and felt powerless, but it propelled me to move forward with vengeance and purposes, after witnessing so much social injustice—in the world, then through the eyes of my brother.”

Clee learned to push down her feelings of panic and anxiety by numbing herself with a Valium habit that began in the Fall of 2001 while at graduate school. She was diagnosed with latent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She remembers it disrupting her studies with random visions of her turbulent childhood, yet, she says, she managed to pull A’s in all subjects.

Her goal of climbing the corporate ladder was achieved. But she found that her new bureaucratic life was not all she had hoped for. She dreaded the monotony of wearing suits, the grueling commute, and her life in a cubicle.

“It was sucking my soul away,” she said.

“I ran out of Valium during Fourth of July weekend in 2014, when a British, barefoot, hippie friend passed me something called a ‘vape extreme,’” she said, laughing. “That weekend was the longest time I went without my medication, and eventually my body began to shake with withdrawal symptoms, so my friend convinced me to take a hit of his vape pen, and the shakes stopped.”

Clee began researching cannabis as medicine, which eventually led her to Greener Pastures Recovery in Maine—and its Plant-Assisted Therapy Program for addiction recovery.

How Sharmila Clee Got Off Valium With Plant-Assisted Therapy

Greener Pastures

“My personal treatment program has been a slow tapering off of the Valium and Zoloft, by smoking flower, hash oil, ingesting turmeric, relora, moringa, calcium, multi-vitamins, and full spectrum cannabis oil, or FECO,” she explained. “The FECO has probably been the most effective treatment, as it completely changes the overall feeling in my body, with a comforting internal blanket of well-being.”

Clee told us that not only is the throbbing bodily pain of withdrawal symptoms quelled with the strong concentrate, but the electric shock-type headaches are replaced with a feeling of comfort. She said the plant was a Godsend.

“Even with all the steps taken to subside any dangerous symptoms, my body still overheated in front of the fire one evening in my first Benzo-related seizure. Nothing makes the detox symptoms entirely go away, but Greener Pastures, its PAT program, and the space they provide, allows you to take the time to understand how your life has unfolded into addiction, helping you to reevaluate your life, better understand your psyche, history, and allows you to look at the here and now, and be present.”

Clee believes the culture of today’s society is a breeding ground for emotional detachment, leading to an unhappy life and subsequent addictions, either to drugs or an unhealthy lifestyle.

“Even when we appear to be successful and fulfilled, when we detach from a past filled with turmoil, we have a skewed perception of what happiness looks like,” she said. “Then next thing you know, you are making six figures, cheating on your spouse with a co-worker who is as emotionally unavailable as you are—but, hey, you have 50 thousand Instagram followers, so what’s the problem?”

Clee said she’s still a work in progress. She was disheartened to discover that kids in America’s foster care system are prescribed anti-anxiety medications at an alarming rate. Researchers even admit that a therapeutic dose often leads to dependency or addiction issues later in life.

“When you hand a bottle of Xanax to a teenager, it’s a potential death risk,” she said. “I’m not saying just give every kid cannabis, but pharmaceuticals are not the answer. We do know that every human body has an endocannabinoid system that accepts the healing properties of cannabis and other beneficial plants into all the systems in our bodies for health and mental well-being.”

“It’s time to start making moves in that direction.”

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Pennsylvania Senators Seeking Co-Sponsors for Recreational Cannabis Bill

A pair of Pennsylvania senators have unveiled a plan to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana for adult use. The bill, which reads like a pot progressives’ wish list, has already stirred up high-ranking Republican opposition. But even with long odds, the legislation, which includes provisions for home grow, public consumption and release from prison, is starting off Pennsylvania’s latest push for legalization on the right foot.

Public Lounges and Release from Prison Included in Pennsylvania Senators’ Legalization Plan

State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) and Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) have co-authored a bill, SB 350, to legalize cannabis. And on Monday, they circulated their joint proposal and called on colleagues to co-sponsor it. The move represents the latest effort to legalize and regulate adult-use in Pennsylvania. But unlike legislative efforts in other states, Leach and Sharif haven’t compromised-in-advance with the opponents of legalization. Instead, their bill checks nearly every box when it comes to progressive drug policy reform.

Like the 10 other U.S. states (and D.C.) with legal marijuana, Pennsylvania would set broad guidelines for personal possession and consumption for adults 21 and over. But Leach and Sharif’s bill goes much further. It would allow home cultivation of up to six mature plants and permit the home delivery of retail cannabis products. While prohibiting public consumption, SB 350 would permit licensed lounges where people can consume cannabis socially.

Perhaps most striking, however, are the criminal justice provisions of Sens. Leach and Sharif’s bill. Laws legalizing cannabis in other states all include provisions for criminal record expungement for non-violent, minor marijuana offenses. Many also require prosecutors to drop any pending marijuana cases. But SB 350 would actually get people out of jail. If passed, anyone currently incarcerated for a misdemeanor marijuana convictions would see their sentence commuted.

Legalization Bill Would Direct Most Cannabis Tax Revenue to Public Schools

Legal cannabis is a money-maker for states. But despite promises of revitalized infrastructure and reinvestment in schools, many states have their cannabis tax revenue tied up in the costs of regulating and overseeing the industry and training law enforcement. Sens. Leach and Street, however, say their bill prioritizes spending tax revenue on public education. The bill also lays out how individual districts could offset tax liabilities for home owners. Overall, the SB 350 projects that in the first year of operations, a retail cannabis industry could generate $600 million for the state.

Sen. Sharif Street also said that adult-use legalization could help with Pennsylvania’s ongoing opioid epidemic. Health officials in every place where cannabis is legal for adults have seen a reduction in opioid use. In New York, for example, a recent study of elderly medical cannabis patients recorded a 33 percent reduction in prescription opioid use among the study’s 200-plus participants. “In the midst of an opioid epidemic, we have to be able to take every step we can to mitigate against more people using opioids,” Street said.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has signaled that he supports a closer look at legalizing cannabis in Pennsylvania. But as might be expected, not everyone is on board with SB 350. In fact the Republican Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman has already blasted legalization as “reckless and irresponsible.” Corman says legal weed sends the wrong message to young people, and he has vowed to do everything he can to stop it.

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Zimbabwe Authorizes License for First Medical Marijuana Company

The African nation of Zimbabwe issued the country’s first license to a medical marijuana company earlier this month, according to a report from Marijuana Business Daily. In a letter obtained by the publication that is dated March 7,  Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care informed Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe that the company’s application to produce medical cannabis had been approved. The letter notes that the authorization was being issued pending payment of a license fee of US$46,000.

Zimbabwe legalized the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes last year. Although the program was put on hold shortly thereafter in June, regulations to license producers and export cannabis have been put in place. The law also permits licensed producers to mail medicinal cannabis to authorized patients, but a system to approve patients has not yet been established. The legislation allows for the regulated production of goods including fresh and dried marijuana, cannabis oil, live plants, and seeds. Mandated cultivation and processing standards are higher than those enacted by the Canadian government.

Economic Development Through Cannabis

According to reports in local media last month, the government of Zimbabwe was processing applications to produce cannabis from 37 companies. Nathan Emery, the chief operating officer of Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe, said that the country was encouraging broad economic development.

“The government of Zimbabwe is open for business and welcomes investors in all sectors of the economy, including licensing for the production of medical cannabis,” he said.

Emery noted that Zimbabwe is an ideal location in Africa for marijuana cultivation, with “large, functioning, commercial farms with access to abundant water for agriculture purposes and a mild climate, year around, for the most cost-effective production of medical cannabis.”

Lesotho was the first country in Africa to grant a license for the cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes and last year made its first export of the crop to Canada. Rhizo Sciences, a Seattle company that has an exclusive supply agreement with Lesotho cannabis producer Medi Kingdom, reported that the shipment would be analyzed by a laboratory before being used for research and development purposes. Dallas McMillan, the CEO of Rhizo Sciences, said that the company planned to provide medical marijuana to vertically integrated cannabis companies in Canada.

“These exports demonstrate our production and export capability, so we can open the channels for our commercial production later in the year,” McMillan said. “We have buyers in Canada lined up, but of course they all want a Certificate of Analysis (from a certified lab) before we can really even talk business.”

After the action by Lesotho encouraged investment from international corporations eager to take advantage of the country’s cannabis opportunities, several other African nations including Ghana, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia have initiated efforts to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

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The New “Miss Marijuana” Pageant Comes With Outdated Guidelines and Transphobia

This article originally appeared on Straight Cannabis.

A new North American beauty pageant targeting the cannabis industry has just opened for applications—but only for “unwed” and “natural born” females between the ages 18 to 30.

And its founder thinks it’s going to be huge.

According to the official site, Miss Marijuana, or Miss MJ, is “the type of girl all the guys want, and all the girls want to be friends with” and the platform “gives you the opportunity to be the activist you’ve always dreamed of.”

Up for grabs is the crown and title of Miss Marijuana, $25,000, and a car—but not the branded Jeep Rubicon posted on the site, because that’s just to show applicants what a car looks like.

If accepted, contestants will upload a profile to be digitally polled by the general public. The online voting will take place for six to seven weeks and the 53 women with the highest votes—one for each American state and one from Canada—will then proceed to the final contest in Los Vegas, Nevada. The finale will include one “personal interview question”, and two catwalks—in a swimsuit and an evening gown.

“It’ll be a fashion show, it’ll be a concert—lotta fun, I hope,” says Howard Baer, the pageant’s founder, to the Georgia Straight on the phone.

“We have so many signed up from Canada that it looks like we may have to break it up into provinces. Originally, we were going to do it just as one, but we have over 500 from there now.”

Baer says the pageant has surpassed 5,200 interested contestants.

Outdated eligibility standards

While the site says “Miss Marijuana provides an equal opportunity for any woman interested” including models, experienced beauty pageant contestants, and “non-models” aspiring to break into industry—the guidelines exclude anyone married, or gender-fluid and non-conforming.

When asked about the specifications, Baer calls the single, or unwed, prerequisite a “normal” criterion for Miss or Ms pageants.

“The biggest reason for that is because when you’re working with married women in particular, these days it’s probably the same…we want her to be able to travel for the next year, and be at the dispensaries…events and so forth,” he says. “It’s pretty hard for a married woman to do that. She doesn’t have the freedom to do that.”

As far as contestants needed to be “naturally born women”, Baer says that’s more of a “personal thing”.

“In my mind…I’ve got a 14-year-old granddaughter…and the way things are, particularly with the transgenders, you’ve really don’t know what you have,” he says, trailing into a story he recently read about a transgender woman charged with assault in the U.K.

“He worked his way into women’s events, and what not. So, they sent him to jail, and in England there is a jail for transgenders specifically, and he raped two women there.”

The woman Baer is referring to is Karen White—a 52-year-old transgender woman sentenced to life for sexually assaulting two inmates in New Hall prison in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The assaults took place in September and October of 2017 after White had been arrested on suspicion of stabbing a neighbor.

When asked how that incident related back to his beauty pageant, Baer said: “I don’t want the girls to be nervous about somebody that is in their room with them. The only one that allows that now is Miss Universe. I’ve read good and bad about it. I’ve read they’re regretting it. I’ve read that they’re not. But the majority of them [pageants] are not and I want to go with what I think is the normal thing to do.”

He adds: “I don’t want to put the girls in a position that they feel uncomfortable, because there are going to be a lot of young girls there and I just don’t want to do that.”

However, when others have tried to promote events solely for “women born women”, they have met fierce resistance from the trans community. Trans people have won major victories with legislation in Canada guaranteeing freedom from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

Moreover, school districts have also introduced measures to prevent bullying of trans kids.

These outdated standards are nothing new for beauty competitions. In fact, they harken back to the 1930s when contestants were asked to shield their faces for the bathing suit portion—opting either for a bag or a mask that looked like a cheap knockoff prop from the Hannibal Lecter franchise. The intention was to draw attention away from the face so judges could better focus on the women’s bodies. Questions about the validity and relevance of these rules are becoming increasingly poignant in the diversifying North American culture, but with legalization Baer sees this as an opportunity to reinvigorate the old rituals.

“I bought the domain eight, nine, ten years ago, or something like that. The timing wasn’t right for it. The timing is right now, so we’re doing it.”

A now-outdated press release shows an attempt at hosting the pageant in 2014. When asked why it never came to fruition, Baer says it didn’t get enough interest.

“Now that cannabis in the U.S. is becoming legalized, and in Canada, it’s a whole different story. We get 50, 60, 70 girls signing up every day and we’re not even promoting it other than a little bit on Facebook.”

A quick check validates the event’s dismal lack of social media presence. The pageant’s Twitter page has only garnered a couple hundred followers with seemingly no interactions, while the official Facebook page has fewer than 4,000 likes and followers.

Capitalizing on a legalization trend

Under the name Papa Baer Productions, Baer has several other businesses relating to the cannabis space. One is a social media platform titled MarijuanaSelfies, a polling-based website entirely populated by cellphone pictures of young, attractive, and half-naked women posing with weed. Users upload selfies that can then be voted on for weekly cash prizes. Baer also has a clothing line launched in 2017 called Smoke 10, which is described as “the first full clothing line dedicated strictly to the cannabis industry”.

“What drew me to it [the cannabis industry] was that I started buying domains about 10 or 12 years ago, and we took some of those domains and made them into sites. And we just kept expanding,” he says. Baer clarifies that he has no personal attachment to cannabis, but owns nearly 230 weed-related domains, including Miss Marijuana for every country in the Miss World pageant.

“Chile, Peru, I own all of them. If this works out, I’ll take it international in the next year or two years. It’ll become an international pageant.”

What exactly about Miss Marijuana relates cannabis? Not much, according to Baer.

Considering the U.S. currently operates as a puzzle of various stages of legality, he says “the girls” don’t have to admit to smoking weed or even know much about the plant to be eligible.

“A lot of the girls ask me about that. There is no use of the product in the pageant; there is no requirement of anybody. They just have to be pro-marijuana. In other words, they can’t be against it. They have to be advocates,” he says.

“We’re not going to be smoking; we’re not going to have it [pot] on-site. I don’t want the responsibility. And I don’t want the girls to feel like they have to do something they don’t want to do. It’s a name. It’s a brand name.”

While Baer says the pageant won’t have any weed on-site, or promote its use, he did take the opportunity to promote the pageant’s new CBD beauty line, which includes cannabis infused gummies, serums, and moisturizers. And the prize packs for both Miss MJ and the three runners-up apparently contain products from the top brands in the industry.

“That’s [beauty products] launching in a couple of weeks. Excellent products.”

Piper Courtenay is The Georgia Straight’s cannabis editor. Follow her on Twitter @PiperCourtenay and Instagram @PiperCourtenay.

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The Family Growing Cannabis to Help People Get Off Pills in Kauai

Video: Healing Kauai With Cannabis Is A Family Affair

Creator: Item9

Description: Hawaii is all about family. On the island of Kauai, brothers Jake and Justin Britt carry on their father’s legacy of providing healing with cannabis while building their company, 808 Genetics. Here’s the debut episode of an Item 9 original series, “The Industree”.
For more videos, download the HIGH TIMES TV app on Roku, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad or Android mobile device or visit

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On-Site Cannabis Consumption Will Soon Be Sanctioned in Alaska

On Tuesday, Alaska became the first state to authorize marijuana consumption at permit-holding businesses. Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer signed a bill that puts the Land of the Midnight Sun in the company of Denver, West Hollywood, Oakland, and San Francisco — a small group of municipalities that allow its residents to toke up in certain designated establishments.

Alaskan businesses will be able to start applying for the permits on April 11, and local governments will have the power to restrict or veto the new regulations. Businesses will be responsible for taking the proper security measures and installing adequate ventilation. Consumption areas will need to be separated from retail space by a wall, or located on an outside patio. It is estimated that residents and visitors will be enjoying smoking lounges and other cannabis hang-outs by the middle of July.

The development sounds dreamy for all those who fantasize about trips to the north featuring a cannabis stop before a tundra trek, but NORML’s executive director Erik Altieri explained in a press release that the significance of this decision is hardly limited to tourism.

“By preventing retail outlets and other venues from being licensed and regulated for social consumption, many patients will have to choose between effective cannabis treatment for their ailments or being thrown out of public housing,” Altieri said. “This causes the civil liberties that come with marijuana legalization to still being kept at arm’s length from low-income individuals and members of other marginalized communities.”

Altieri is correct in that without licensed places for the public to consume, cannabis is not truly legal for all adults, even in the 10 states that have regulated adult-use recreational marijuana. A Department of Housing and Urban Development memo from 2014 banned use of marijuana in all federally assisted housing, regardless of state laws pertaining to its use — and that includes people who are registered patients in medical marijuana programs. This has led to some high profile instances of medical cannabis users losing their housing for merely growing or consuming their medicine.

Clearly, it would be preferable for the feds to get their act together. But at least for the moment, Alaska has joined a handful of U.S. cities where people have some options past deciding on their medical treatment or the roof over their heads.

Until Alaska’s state-wide regulation of consumption spaces, all eyes had been on West Hollywood when it came to being the U.S. capital of smoking lounges. In December, the city government announced that it had granted licenses to eight edibles cafes and to eight lounges where smoking, vaping, and eating marijuana products would be permitted.

But now, social smokers may be looking north — and in Alaska, many weed business types may be drawing up plans for future marijuana cafes. “The big news is, the suspense is over,” Mark Springer, chair of the Alaska Marijuana Control Board, told the Anchorage Daily News. “I’m sure there is a lot of excitement in the industry today.”

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Florida’s Ban on Smokable Marijuana is One Step Closer to Being Repealed

The Florida House of Representatives passed a repeal of the state’s ban on smokable marijuana with a vote of 101-11 on Wednesday, sending the measure to Gov. Rick DeSantis for his signature. The state Senate unanimously passed the repeal statute, Senate Bill 182, last week. The bill eliminates a ban on smokable cannabis that was enacted by the legislature after Florida’s medical marijuana legalization constitutional amendment was passed by voters in 2016.

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who has advocated for a repeal of the ban, said in a statement that Wednesday’s “action to finally allow smokable medical marijuana brings four words to the lips of people across our state: It’s about damn time.”

Under SB 182, medical marijuana patients will be permitted to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of smokable cannabis every 35 days. Smoking cannabis in public will continue to be illegal, and terminally ill children will only be allowed to smoke cannabis with the approval of a pediatrician. A House proposal to only allow pre-rolled joints with filters was not included in the Senate bill.

“I’m thankful for the House and Senate’s work to fix this situation and look forward to the governor signing this much-needed legislation into law,” Fried said. “It’s long past due that the state of Florida honored the will of the people and allowed doctors to determine their patient’s course of treatment.”

Governor Had Called for Repeal of Ban

The legislature was spurred to action by DeSantis, who took office earlier this year, when he threatened to abandon an appeal of a legal ruling declaring the ban unconstitutional if it were not repealed by March 15. After the House vote on Wednesday, DeSantis took to social media to express his gratitude to lawmakers for acting on his ultimatum.

“I thank the Florida Legislature for taking action on medical marijuana and upholding the will of the voters,” the governor said in a tweet.

Although he voted for the repeal, Rep. Ray Rodrigues said that “many of us feel like we got it right” with the ban, which he helped to draft. By repealing the ban, the legislature will retain some control over the sale of smokable cannabis.

“I’m not going to have all of your votes today, and I understand that and I respect that. My encouragement to you is to vote your conscience, but what I would say is this: This bill is important because if we do not pass this bill, then the guardrails that we could place around smokable medical marijuana will not exist,” Rodrigues said.

House Speaker José Oliva had argued against lifting the ban on smokable marijuana and has voiced concerns about allowing patients to smoke their medicine.

“I don’t know, and we don’t have the data–hopefully we will in the coming years—to show if there truly are benefits to consuming this medicine in this fashion. I personally don’t believe that there probably is. And there might be some detrimental effects as a result of that, which is why I had reservations then, and I still have them now,” Oliva said.

According to the Orlando Weekly, Oliva “has made a fortune in the cigar business.”

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What’s in Your Stash? Cannabis Reviewer Jack Daniel

Southern California cannabis patient, cultivar reviewer, and editor, Jack Daniel, has an admission with a certain item in his stash box.

“I probably wrote one hundred cannabis reviews before I started grinding my buds – and now, I don’t know how I ever did it!” he laughed. “Everything goes through the grinder now.”

Daniel’s grinder is a stainless steel number that grinds with precision, made by Compton Grinders, from Compton, California – made in the U.S.A.

The necessity of grinding flower is two-fold. Firstly, it releases the terpenes of the flower for better flavor, without the charred flower being repeatedly torched.

The flavor or scent of the cannabis flower is where the beneficial compounds of the plant are. Beneficial herbs have scents to attract us; we need them for our health and wellbeing.

Grinding is also more cost effective, insuring no morsel of goodness is wasted.

“In the center of the tray is my daily driver glass pipe from San Diego local glass company, Opinicus9,” he shared. “Though I will dab occasionally, and eat an edible once in a while – bongs are rare, joints are for friends, but my pipe is my trusty sidearm in all situations.”

Opinicus9 is a glass pipe manufacturer in San Diego, in Southern California, specializing in fine, one-of-a-kind glass dab rigs, pipes, and beautiful hand-blown jewelry, with pieces also available on its Etsy site.

On the top right of his stash box is his nug jar, currently full of Beard Glue, and Yeti OG.

Repurposing containers for weed is nothing new, and though there are many fancy containers now on the market, Daniel’s trim jar is a re-purposed Garbage Pail Kids candy container shaped like a trash can with lid.

“All my stems, leaves and anything else that gets stripped prior to the grind goes into the little trash can,” he explained. “When it is full I give it to my dad and he makes his own remedies from it.”

What's in Your Stash? Cannabis Reviewer Jack Daniel

Courtesy of Jack Daniel

His dad, who is also a California cannabis patient, boils the remains of Daniel’s flower and stems to make a poultice for topical use.

In case you aren’t familiar with the term, a poultice is an ancient remedy wherein plant material is soaked in alcohol and applied topically for pain, inflammation, and infection. A poultice could also be used on the chest or back for lung conditions.

In Latin America, grandmothers still soak cannabis and other beneficial plants in a 96 percent alcohol for topical use. Important to note, these methods are as old as the hills, but modern medicine via synthetic formulations have all but bumped Grandma’s remedies to the curb.

Daniel first partook of the herb in 1996, right after basketball season ended in his senior year in high school, and never looked back.

“I loved weed immediately and have smoked virtually every day of my life since,” he shared.

Diagnosed in 2010 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his cannabis use became serious, as Daniel was told he had a six inch by six inch tumor, two inches wide, lodged between his heart and lung.

“I dubbed it the malignant pork chop,” he reminisced. “It was during this time I decided to take a closer look at those seedy ads in the back of The Reader. I went out and got my medical marijuana recommendation, and bought $280 worth of the best weed I had ever seen from a dispensary. Safe to say, the cultivar, Master Kush and P91, or Poway Class of ’91, got me through most of my treatments.”

At the time, concentrates to ingest to treat cancer and symptoms weren’t in his radar, and he smoked to control symptoms with success. This led him down a new career path, writing weed reviews for several publications, including Weedmaps, where Daniel was listed as a top ten reviewer.

“Using cannabis during my traditional cancer treatments was a supplement, not a cure,” he added. “Smoking cannabis allowed me to eat on a regular schedule, sleep in a regular schedule, and it made my attitude bright enough to play with my kids.”

Cannabis gave Daniel enough motivation to get to work each day in a construction job – even though he said his mind and body were running on empty. Like many in the cannabis space, the experience changed his life and career forever, and he now spends his days writing about cannabis – with his stash box nearby.

“I like being a freelancer, writing full-time from home – with no boss, no editor, and no fucks left to give,” he laughed.

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Shut-Down Meatpacking Plant to be Reopened as Medical Cannabis Facility

In an example of the opportunity that legal cannabis can offer economically depressed communities, a former meatpacking plant in Michigan that has sat idle for almost 25 years will soon be reopened as a medical marijuana facility. OrganiLife, located in Saginaw County in Chesaning, Michigan, will begin operations later this month at its cultivation and processing facility in a 30,000 square foot building growing 4,500 plants. The site also has 16 additional buildings that could eventually house 500,000 plants if business conditions warrant the expansion, according to property owner Beau Parmenter.

The OrganiLife campus was formerly the home of Peet Packing, a meatpacking enterprise with more than 200 employees that went bankrupt in 1995 after providing jobs for the community for 110 years.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for employment and investors in the community,” said Parmenter. “It’s phenomenal what we’re bringing to the table to get this place back on track.”

So far, 20 jobs have been created since renovations at the site began last year and another 20 will be added soon. In the long term, the facility could generate 350 jobs.

“The whole goal is to bring those jobs back into the community,” said OrgainLife cultivator Zach Chludil. “It’s gonna take a little bit of time, but there’s no reason with the current demand in the market that once we’re licensed and up and going, we should be able to literally grow along with demand which can lead to significant jobs in due time.”

OrganiLife successfully lobbied the county commission to have the property annexed to the village of Chesaning from Chesaning Township to take advantage of a more friendly regulatory environment. Parmenter said that the company has been welcomed by the community and is already lining up customers for its product.

“Quite a list of provisioning centers are waiting for the product already,” he said. “They’ve got a waiting list that keeps growing daily because they need good product.”

“It’s an all-natural product that they’re producing,” Parmenter added. “They’re using plant-based material for all the sprays, nutrients. No pesticides. No insecticides. That’s a thing. Going all-natural.”

County Benefits from Legal Cannabis

Chesaning is also the home of another medical marijuana business, VB Chesaning, and Great Lakes Natural Remedies will be the third cannabis operation in Saginaw County when it opens this spring.

Bill Federspiel, the Saginaw County Sheriff, has been working with Great Lakes Natural Remedies to help ensure the safety of the community. Federspiel says that he understands that medical cannabis operations can be an attractive target for criminals.

“This is a commodity,” Federspiel said. “It’s valuable to some people and it’s expensive to some people. It has a lot of potential to generate a lot of money.”

VB Chesaning is also operating at a site that was formerly occupied by a large employer, McDonald’s Dairy. Kate Weber is the executive director for the Chesaning Chamber of Commerce, which claims both VB and OrganiLife as members. She said that the medical marijuana industry is spurring business development and new jobs for the area.

“Two large employers have sat empty for so long are now being re-purposed, and it’s good for the community,” said Weber.

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