Mindful Education: Uwe Blesching’s Thoughtful Look at the Plant

Author Uwe Blesching would like to be part of the solution in finally ending the failed War on Drugs, via education, science, and mindfulness.

His literary contributions include, Breaking the Cycle of Opioid Addiction, Supplement Your Pain Management with Cannabis (July 2018); The Cannabis Health Index: Combining the Science of Medical Marijuana with Mindfulness Techniques to heal 100 Chronic Symptoms and Diseases (2nd ed. 2015); and in the works, Healing with Cannabis, Optimizing Your Ideal CBD:THC Ratio.

“The medical element of cannabis has always held a sense of wonder for me,” Blesching shared from his home in Berkeley, California. “It’s an easy argument to make that all cannabis use is medicinal. The mind-body science is only now coming together. Neurotransmitters and hormones have a strong correlation with plant compounds – and the endocannabinoid system is the bridge.”

The negative stigma of cannabis developed from the failed War on Drugs, and the misinformation that followed, he said, are the biggest obstacles to change; and changing your mindset leads to leaving the stigma behind and embracing the healing happening globally. 

“People have been socialized with the narrative from the War on Drugs,” he said. “They go to their doctor – and they don’t want to take opioids – but are now terrified, faced with the stigma of cannabis. Their first experiences with cannabis may be worsened because of a lack of knowledge on dosing or the stigma alone. One little thing can make them give up on cannabis, when it could be a positive medicine for them.”

Education is Everything

Blesching was a Paramedic for the City of San Francisco for twenty years. He holds a BA in Humanities from the New College of California; an MA in Psychology; and a PhD in Higher Education and Social Change from the Western Institute for Social Research. 

As shared on his website, he is a medical writer, contributing regularly in the fields of cannabinoid health sciences, mind-body medicine, phytopharmacology, and evidence-based illness prevention and treatment protocols, with a life-long passion for Integrative Medicine. 

His journey into cannabis from mainstream media is personal, as shared in the introduction of his astonishingly thorough Health Index, while working a long shift as an EMT, he and his partner witnessed the power of mindfulness as it relates to the biological systems of the body. This led to knowledge of the endocannabinoid system – what he calls the bridge to mindful, plant-based prevention and healing.  

His blog on his website covers everything from cannabis and malaria, to Veterans and PTSD, to a compelling piece on re-thinking the feeling of euphoria, and its simple, root meaning of being “well.”

“Let’s think about it for a moment,” he ponders. “Why is an emotional experience that otherwise could be described as a peak experience, an extraordinary state of consciousness, a heightened awareness, a moment of bliss, a sense of majesty, a brush with spirit, a touch of soul rich with substance, or an awareness of the immortal in oneself somehow thought to be an adverse effect like a skin rash or nausea? This judgment is even more irrational when we consider that expansive experiences of this nature can quickly shift neurological and psychological pain and dysphoria responses toward those that elicit expansive affect, which is clearly associated with therapeutic potential. You don’t need to be a doctor to notice that this feels a heck of a lot better than depression or fear.”

Such is the world of Uwe Blesching, challenging what we think already know, then adding another layer.

Cannabis Studies Databank

Aside from finishing up his latest book with a focus on CBD to THC ratios, Blesching has been busy building a multi-media health and wellness platform, hosting a databank of studies on cannabis’ healing properties on certain illnesses and disorders. 

“The studies will be curated by hand and rated individually, as well as collectively, for each ailment,” he explained. “This is done to provide the user with an instant understanding of the underlying strengths of science, as well as specific and practical information, helping the patient to make informed decisions about how to use cannabinoid medicine for what ails you.”

Another reason for creating the databank was due to the constant need to update the Health Index, as more studies are documented on cannabis as medicine. 

“Unfortunately, the science of the endocannabinoid system, and its processes for utilizing cannabis and other substances, have not been clearly communicated, are poorly understood, and are woefully underdeveloped,” he said. “Too often patients, doctors and even the cannabis industry, have been left to determine health and wellness decisions with inadequate and inconsistent information.”

Changing the Narrative

“It’s astonishing the amount of misinformation that’s out there on cannabis as a viable alternative to what is called traditional medicine,” he continued. “And even more so, the amount of people who believe it! The only opposition to the truth has been the narrative of the War on Drugs. It’s a global problem – I’ve seen its effects and the impact of that drama when I travel to other countries.”

Thankfully, he said, people are being educated, studies are being conducted, and the healing is happening in spite of politics or closed minds.

“Personally, I learn more from one patient who has been helped,” he concluded. “When people have a chronic condition for 15 or 20 years, with a lack of results, they are ready to become informed – they are ready to make a change. When someone is open to suggestion, it’s absorbed quickly. When you witness them transitioning from many pharmaceuticals to just one plant, you learn.”

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Testing Lab In Oregon Offering To Evaluate Vaping Products For Public Consumers

An Oregon analytic laboratory is offering a new test for cannabis products to detect the presence of vitamin E acetate, an additive that has been implicated in the rash of vaping-related lung illnesses that have sickened hundreds and led to at least six deaths. Pixis Labs in Portland began conducting the test for consumers on Monday, according to a report in local media.

Pixis Labs developed the test after it was announced that state and federal health officials were looking into the possibility that vitamin E acetate, also known as Alpha-tocopherol acetate, could be associated with the hundreds of pulmonary illnesses that have been reported in dozens of states. The substance, a supplement designed for oral or topical use, is sometimes used to thin or dilute the cannabis oil in vape cartridges.

Derrick Tanner, the general manager of Pixis Labs, said that the company has tested several cannabis oils from existing customers to validate the process, although he declined to say if any vitamin E acetate was detected in the samples provided. He also said that he expects the new test to generate considerable interest from not only consumers but the cannabis industry, as well.

“Anyone who’s […] not even just generating cartridges and oils, anybody who’s ancillary in this service line is interested in having this as an additional test for their product,” Tanner said. “Everyone’s concerned about it right now.”

Tanner said that diluting commodities to increase profits isn’t restricted to the cannabis industry. The practice is also sometimes carried out in the food industry, with honey and olive oil being notable examples.

“Any time you have a commodity that’s highly valued, and there’s a way to increase your profits one way or another, there’s going to be certain people who may take advantage of that and try to [stretch their commodity] out.”

Tanner told High Times in an email that the new test for Alpha-tocopherol and Alpha-tocopherol acetate is available at a cost of $140 and requires a 3-gram sample to perform.

Are Tighter Regulations Coming?

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the agency tasked with regulating the legal cannabis industry in the state, does not currently require testing products for vitamin E acetate. But with the continuing spate of lung injuries, Mark Pettinger, a spokesman for the agency, said that stricter regulations could be enacted.

“Because of the vaping illness crisis, the OLCC will consider taking whatever action is necessary to protect consumer health, including the recall of tainted product, and banning inclusion of questionable additives into marijuana products that threaten human health and public safety,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported late last week that there have been 380 confirmed and probable cases in 36 states of lung illnesses experienced by people who vape. The previous week the agency had announced that more than 450 cases of pulmonary disease could be associated with vaping, but that number also included reports of possible cases.

Also last week, the Trump administration announced that it would ban the sale of flavored nicotine vape products.

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Synthetic Marijuana Found In CBD Products Across Multiple States

CBD edibles and vapes spiked with a variety of synthetic marijuana compounds have found their way to consumers in Louisiana, Maryland and nearly a dozen other states, according to a nationwide Associated Press investigation into unregulated cannabidiol products. Synthetic marijuana, often marketed as K2 or Spice, has been linked to mass hospitalizations and other health emergencies across the U.S. and Europe. While they have nothing to do with cannabis plants, synthetic marijuana chemicals somewhat mimic the activity of cannabinoids, but they are significantly more potent. Adverse reactions to synthetic marijuana range from fainting and dizziness to vomiting, heart and lung illness, coma, and even death.

Investigation Uncovers CBD Vape Cartridges and Edibles Spiked with Synthetic Marijuana

The U.S. hemp-derived cannabidiol industry is growing rapidly, thanks to the lifting of the ban on hemp products. But unregulated, untested CBD products still dominate the market. And while many products come from reputable companies that are as transparent as possible about their manufacturing processes, some originate from sources that are lacing products with dangerous synthetic chemicals.

The term synthetic marijuana is somewhat of a misnomer. It’s a catch-all term for unknown chemical mixtures sprayed on or added to smokable herbs and flowers and typically inhaled or ingested, hence its association with cannabis. These drugs provide a cheap, intense and dangerous high. And now, investigators are finding them in CBD vape and edible products.

AP’s investigation began with a nationwide survey of law enforcement. That survey revealed that at least 128 of 350 CBD products labs tested contained synthetic “marijuana.” Gummy bears accounted for 36 of those 128. The rest were vape products. AP says most of the testing occurred in Southern states. And in Mississippi, labs detected fentanyl in some products labeled CBD.

Through the survey, AP obtained a list of brands and products containing synthetic marijuana. It then sent reporters to purchase those products in retailers across the U.S. and have them tested. In all, AP turned up contaminated CBD products in 13 states. Some of the products could be purchased online and shipped anywhere in the U.S.

Because the investigation focused on suspect brands and products, its results don’t represent the CBD market as a whole. Still, the report highlights the dangers of untested cannabidiol products at a time when the U.S. is still dealing with a string of vape-linked illnesses and deaths.

Green Machine, Yolo Vape Cartridges Found Containing Synthetic Marijuana

AP reporters have so far tested about 30 suspicious cartridges purchased at convenience stores mostly located in Southern states. Lab tests showed that 10 of the 30 contained synthetic marijuana, including Juul-compatible Green Machine CBD pods and Yolo CBD vape cartridges. Test results found the cartridges contained chemicals linked to multiple deaths in Europe and dozens of hospitalization in the U.S., spanning states from Utah to Louisiana to Maryland.

One of those cartridges, sold at a mom-and-pop convenience store, the 7 to 11 Store, put a young man in a coma in South Carolina. Jay Jenkins said two puffs of a vape cartridge he thought contained CBD induced hallucinations and made him feel like he was dead. According to Jenkins’ medical records, he suffered acute respiratory failure after being rushed to the hospital, where he fell into a brief coma.

There are no consistencies in terms of the chemicals found or the products contaminated with them, either. Products found to contain no synthetic marijuana in one state tested positive for them in another. For Green Machine CBD pods, for example, four of seven tested positive for synthetic marijuana.

Furthermore, investigators had little luck tracking down anyone to hold accountable for the spiked CBD products. Retailers typically point higher up the supply chain, placing blame with producers and manufacturers. The absence of any regulatory oversight makes it very difficult to track down the people behind the laced CBD products. As a result, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has listed CBD as “an emerging hazard.”

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Unique Issues With Cannabis-Related Patents & Their Enforcement

While enforcement of cannabis patents through litigation is common, there are other alternatives to litigation. Here we discuss some of the unique cannabis-related issues that could arise before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The growth and evolution of the cannabis industry in the U.S. are not slowing. However, the cannabis industry – with its tremendous upside – is still beset with uncertainty and limited legal guidance curbing its full potential. Intellectual property law, including patent protection, has emerged from the murky legal and regulatory landscape as a reliable business strategy with developing certainty.

A pioneering cannabis patent case in Colorado has progressed without any indication that cannabis patents are to be treated differently than other patents. Relatedly, PTAB recently upheld the validity of a cannabis-related patent as part of a post-grant proceeding. However, although the courts and the USPTO are not discriminating against cannabis patents because of their illicit subject matter, the true strength of these newly issued patents could be suspect.

The fledgling nature of cannabis businesses and the fact that cannabis is just now emerging from its statutorily imposed dormancy combine to highlight certain weaknesses of the USPTO and its mechanisms meant to strike spurious patents.

For several reasons, it is possible that applicants are propelling cannabis patent applications of questionable validity through prosecution beyond the point that similar applications could proceed. The USPTO’s experience with cannabis patents is limited. The universe of prior art available to patent examiners is also limited. There are only about three thousand active cannabis patents, which would only account for 0.6 percent of the total issued patents in 2015. The legal status of cannabis has also likely deterred the broadcasting of public use as prior art, and enabling publications or other public disclosures covering cannabis (e.g., published scientific studies) are limited as well. Taken together, patent examiners considering applications for cannabis patents are at a disadvantage compared to other applications that the USPTO considers in other fields.

Additionally, the post-grant proceedings before PTAB established to review issued patents of questionable validity are not designed to handle the historical context and unique issues of cannabis patents. The difference in the procedural rules and requirements of two common inter partes mechanisms for challenging issued patents, post-grant reviews (PGRs) and inter partes reviews (IPRs), creates a gap in coverage that is particularly salient to cannabis patents.

Although the cannabis patent case in Colorado is first of its kind, we can expect more to follow in its wake.Where a PGR petitioner is free to challenge an issued patent on effectively any ground, an IPR petitioner is limited to validity claims for lack of novelty or non-obviousness based solely on patents and printed publications. However, the PGR petitioner must be diligent, because it only has nine months from the issue date of the challenged patent to file a PGR petition. After those nine months, the challenger will have to rely on litigation or an IPR, with its limited basis for invalidity.

What this means for a cannabis patent is that unless a challenger – likely, a competitor in the cannabis space – can timely file a petition for a PGR, the basis for challenging the patent before PTAB are limited to those types of prior art that are especially rare in the cannabis space: patents and printed publications. What is more, meeting the nine-month requirement to file a PGR is no trivial task. The cost and time required to research and prepare a petition for PGR are particularly problematic for the cannabis industry with its lack of access to traditional forms of business financing.

As a result, it is reasonable to question the validity of contemporary cannabis patents. Further, because of PTAB’s enforcement gap, a patent challenger will likely have to resort to litigation to bring its invalidity arguments unrelated to claims of lack of novelty and non-obviousness based on patents and printed publications. Such broader invalidity arguments could include lack of patentable subject matter – which is an appealing challenge for patents that stem from naturally occurring plants or products, such as cannabis – or lack of novelty and non-obviousness based on other prior art.

Although the cannabis patent case in Colorado is first of its kind, we can expect more to follow in its wake. And, because of the weaknesses at the USPTO and PTAB, invalidity arguments in these early cases will likely be of increased strategic importance than in typical patent cases.

The post Unique Issues With Cannabis-Related Patents & Their Enforcement appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

High Times’ cultivation specialist Danny Danko answers all your burning questions about being the best grower you can be. But first, some quick tips from the expert himself:

  • If hard water pools on top of your soilless mix, add a drop of natural dishwashing soap to your nutrient solution to soften it for better absorption.
  • Every bend in your ducting slows down airflow, so keep it as straight as possible.
  • Use a clean and sharp razor blade when taking cuttings, and trim at a 45-degree angle for successful rooting.

Subject: Strains for Small Spaces
From: Duane W.

Hey, what are the best strains to grow in a small space while still getting a big yield, and how can I make sure that the plants don’t touch the light?

Dear Duane,

The best strains to grow in small spaces are indica-dominant varieties with shorter internodal spacing and a bushier grow profile. Sativa-dominant plants usually have longer flowering periods and also tend to stretch more after flowering is induced. The plants can be bent or trained in order to prevent them from growing into the light (and also to increase yield).

Subject: Too Hot
From: Messina

I’m growing an auto-flowering plant, and where I live it gets very hot during the summer months. Here in northwestern Arizona, it can reach 120 degrees during the day! I’m growing in a Gorilla grow tent with an Advanced Platinum 650-watt LED light. To mitigate the heat in the tent, I’d like to use a 15/9-hour day/night light cycle. Will I have good results?

Dear Messina,

You can certainly reduce the amount of light per day from 18-20 hours to 15 without triggering flowering, but your plants won’t grow to their full potential. Furthermore, this will only reduce heat for few hours each day, and the temperatures during your daytime light cycle will still be excessive unless you cool your tent.

An air conditioner in the room in which your tent is will work wonders in keeping the heat down. Just make sure it’s strong enough to counter the ambient temperature and the added heat generated by your lighting system. Luckily, you’re using LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which don’t generate as much heat as HID (high-intensity discharge) systems such as HPS (high-pressure sodium) or Mil (metal halide).

Subject: Drip Emitters
From: Billy the Adult

I’ve heard of growers using individual tubes to water their plants drop by drop all day long. Is this effective and, furthermore, how would I go about setting something like that up?

Dear Billy,

You’re referring to the hydroponic growing method known as the drip-emitter system (DES). When this method is used, tubing draws the liquid nutrient solution from a reservoir to each plant. The drip emitter sits at plant level and regulates how much water the roots receive.

To use this system, you first need enough tubing to reach all of your plants. Drip systems are quite versatile, and you can customize them to fit almost any space or number of plants. Cut the tubing in the lengths you need and secure the drip emitter at the end. Then firmly press the emitter into the top of your growing medium. Attach the reservoir end to your underwater pump and set the timer to drip when needed (typically about 10 minutes every 2 to 3 hours during the “daytime” cycle). You will need to decrease or increase the feeding time based on your plants’ sizes and nutritional needs as they grow.

Keep in mind that drippers tend to clog over time, so you need to make sure your nutrient solution keeps flowing to your plants. Adding redundancy, with several emitters per plant, can ensure that the roots stay wet and that any clog-related disasters are avoided.

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice
Drip emitters deliver nutrient solution directly to each plant./ Courtesy of THC Design LA

Subject: Dirty Water
From Mark K.

I have a deep-water-culture hydroponic bucket system, and my plants are less than 2 feet tall at 9 weeks. I just purchased a total-dissolved-solids (TDS) meter and discovered that our tap water is around 900 PPM! I think my plants are suffering from root lock. Will they thrive once I get my TDS problem under control?

Dear Mark,

Wow! That’s the highest parts-per-million level of dissolved solids in tap water that I’ve ever heard of. You need to invest in RO (reverse osmosis) water-purification technology and clean your water before you add any nutrients to your solution. Once you do this, your plants will recover and enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Subject: Plant Count
From: AJ

I just purchased a 4’ x 4’ grow tent. Would it be better to grow 16 plants, each in a 1-square-foot area, or 9 plants in a 16-square-feet area? I am growing indica/sativa mixes all with 9-week flowering times, and I’ll be vegging them for a month. Thank you for all the great help over the years!

Dear AJ,

Due to your monthlong vegetative time, you should consider growing fewer plants and giving them more space to fill out. Therefore, I would recommend your 9-plant solution over the 16-plant setup. Be sure to use large containers for each plant so that your roots have plenty of room to develop and thrive. I would go with 3-gallon containers or larger for the space you have. Additionally, topping or training the plants as they vegetate will result in a bigger harvest when flowering has finished.

Subject: Proper Feeding
From: MJ

I’m starting my second grow. For my first, I grew ADUB and Dream Queen strains with a 315-watt LEC light in a 5′ x 5’ tent. Unfortunately, I had trouble with heat control and got thrips. Well, okay-at least I learned a thing or two, maybe. Or not.

I used Fox Farms Ocean Forest for the medium and watered with pH-balanced water two or three times a week, depending on the dryness of soil. But until the end, I didn’t really saturate the soil with each watering. I did some fimming/topping. more on the ADUB than the DQ.and her spindly nature shows how bad I was at it. I won’t be so aggressive next time.

My DQ yield was abysmal! I ended up with only about 3 ounces. I vegged her from clone for about eight weeks, followed by eight weeks of flowering. The ADUB yield appears to be a lot less, but the silver-dollar-size buds are pretty dense in comparison to the DQ. (I almost lost her due to clawing leaves at one point-I think I may have overfed her.) I’m anticipating perhaps two ounces off her after I harvest this weekend.

I’m starting the second grow from seed. Germination is at Day 3. This morning, I put the spouted seeds into a rockwool medium to continue sprouting, having originated them using the moist-paper-towel method.

Here’s my question: Where can I find a good regimented feeding and transplanting schedule? I’d also like to know how large of a pot I should progress up to. I feel the 10-gallon Smart Pot I used was just way too large for the last crop’s growth and yield.

Dear MJ,

Almost every nutrient company will provide an online feeding chart with weekly schedules based on the stage of growth. Just keep in mind that their recommendations usually tend to be on the heavier feeding side, so start with half the recommended strength and work your way up if necessary. It’s always easier to add more than take away, so err on the side of caution for best results.

A 10-gallon Smart Pot is a great size for your plants, and a 2-month vegging period is fine as long as you allow the plants to thrive and build a nice-size root-ball during growth. Healthy plants will fill out your pots nicely, and you’ll increase your yields substantially.

Subject: Algae on Roots
From: Hans

l transplanted some clones into clear plastic cups using Happy Frog potting soil and Plant Success Organics Granular to maximize root growth. It’s been a couple of days and I have watered them as needed. Today I noticed a green moss around the root-ball. Do you have any idea what this is and what I can do to get rid of it if need be?

Dear Hans,

The green moss that you see is algae that has grown in your container due to the fact that you used clear plastic cups. The cups allow light to reach your wet medium, creating the perfect conditions for the mossy mess to compete with your plants for nutrients and providing a breeding ground for pests and harmful molds. Transplant your clones immediately into larger opaque containers with plenty of soil mix and don’t use clear cups in the future.

Subject: Kill the Males
From: Lil’ Smokey

I just planted a bunch of seeds indoors, and I need to know what the male plants look like. I was told I have to get rid of them soon.

Dear Smokey,

If your seedlings are indoors under at least 18 hours of light per day, you’ve got some time. They won’t begin to truly show their flowers until after you switch the timer to a 12/12-hour day/night light cycle. Then, within 2-3 weeks, you’ll begin to see clear signs of their gender. (Although auto-flowering seeds will begin flowering at a certain age regardless of the photoperiod.)

Teardrop-shaped calyxes with while hair sticking out will emerge from your female plants where the leaves meet the branches. The males will produce calyxes that have sharp spikes and which are noticeably less rounded. As they mature, the spikes will form into what looks like tiny bunches of green bananas.

Get rid of the males as soon as you can. Otherwise these “bananas” will open up and drop pollen all over your flowering females, leaving you with a crop full of relatively worthless seeds instead of the seedless female nuggets you’re hoping for.

Send your cannabis-cultivation questions
to deardanko@hightimes.com.

This feature was published in the April, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

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Florida Congressman Wants To Downgrade Controlled Substance Scheduling For Marijuana

On Thursday, Congressman Greg Steube, who represents Florida’s 17th district, introduced a bill that would downgrade the controlled substance scheduling for marijuana. Steube’s bill, the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act of 2019, would reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III controlled substance. Currently, the federal government considers cannabis a Schedule I drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Downgrading cannabis to Schedule III, a classification which includes drugs like ketamine and anabolic steroids, would primarily make it easier for scientists to research cannabis and its health effects.

Marijuana 1-to-3 Act Would Allow for Federally-Funded Cannabis Research

On September 12, Congressman Greg Steube tweeted a press release announcing a bill to downgrade marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance. “The Marijuana 1-to-3 Act will allow additional research to be done on the benefits of marijuana by removing bureaucratic red tape,” Steube wrote in the tweet.

According to Steube’s press release, the bill directs the Attorney General of the United States to make a simple change to the Controlled Substances Act: dropping “marihuana” down to Schedule III. In the release, Steube acknowledges there are clearly medical benefits to cannabis. “We hear every day about the positive health benefits of marijuana,” Steube said. “Whether it’s young children with seizure disorders, or veterans suffering from chronic pain.”

Federal research into the health effects of cannabis has been extremely restricted due to its Schedule I status. A Schedule III designation would remove many of those barriers, including one of the most substantial: funding. As a Schedule III substance, federal funds would be available to support research projects on cannabis and its medical and therapeutic applications.

Marijuana 1-to-3 Act Would Also Benefit Cannabis Industry

Congressman Steube’s Marijuana 1-to-3 Act is simple. Unlike another rescheduling bill also filed Thursday by a bipartisan pair of Florida Representatives, which would require federal agencies to develop research programs and designate “Centers of Excellence in Cannabis Research,” Steube’s bill just directs the U.S. Attorney General to reschedule marijuana.

Still, Steube believes the reclassification is enough to drastically expand opportunities for research and study into the medical and recreational uses of cannabis. “With this rescheduling, researchers can now access federal funds to research this substance and determine its medical value,” Steube said.

But the rescheduling of cannabis won’t just impact research scientists’ eagerness to study it. It could also have a major impact on the legal cannabis industry. Many of the financial problems facing the industry, like its difficulty accessing bank services and inability to obtain tax deductions and other subsidies, stem from companies’ trafficking in what the federal government considers a Schedule I drug. If marijuana were to be rescheduled down to level III, cannabis businesses would become eligible for a number of federal tax deductions.

The Marijuana 1-to-3 Act isn’t the first piece of federal cannabis legislation Congressman Steube has introduced. Back in April, Rep. Steube, a former Army JAG Officer, put forward a bill to protect U.S. veterans who use medically prescribed cannabis from losing their VA benefits.

In 2017, the VA adopted a directive that protects veterans from losing their benefits over lawful medical cannabis use and authorizes VA officials to discuss cannabis treatments with patients. Steube’s bill aims to make that directive law, making sure no future administrative changes put veterans at risk of losing their benefits. “As a veteran, I’m committed to ensuring that veterans receive the care they deserve, and I know that sometimes that care can include medical marijuana,” Steube said.

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Florida Lawmakers File Bill To Expand Medical Marijuana Research

Two members of Florida’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill on Thursday that would expand research into the medicinal use of marijuana. The measure, titled the Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act, was filed by Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala and her Republican colleague Rep. Matt Gaetz has signed on as a co-sponsor.

If passed, the bill “would develop a national cannabis research agenda, direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to collect data on the health impacts of cannabis, establish a National Institutes of Health ‘Centers of Excellence’ research designation, and reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III controlled substance,” according to Shalala’s office.

“For years now, states across the country have been liberalizing their cannabis laws without making corresponding investments in developing a better scientific understanding of the short and long-term benefits and effects of cannabis on human health,” said Shalala. “By rescheduling cannabis and directing our national research infrastructure to study and collect data on how it impacts health outcomes, we are not only bringing federal cannabis policy into the 21st century, but we’re also guaranteeing that we do so safely.”

Bill Would Streamline Cannabis Research

“This bipartisan and bicameral legislation will improve, expedite, and streamline cannabis research: by rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III, this bill will lessen the conflict between states and the federal government, and by designating ‘Centers of Excellence in Cannabis Research,’ it will help unlock cures for America’s most vulnerable populations,” said Gaetz.

Florida state Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, who campaigned for office on a platform that included cannabis reform, applauded the action by the state’s federal lawmakers.

“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in Florida, I thank Congresswoman Shalala and Congressman Gaetz for their bipartisan leadership in Congress to further critical cannabis research,” said Fried. “Federal cannabis policy must be changed to better provide safe and compassionate treatment options for those in need, and the Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act is a welcome step forward.”

A statement from Shalala’s office insisted that the bill is necessary.

“Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult cannabis use, while 33 states have legalized medical cannabis use. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance with no medical benefit,” Shalala’s office noted. “The Expand Cannabis Research and Information Act would allow for a dramatic expansion in research around the health benefits and public safety impacts of cannabis use.”

The Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act has also been co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California. The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.

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Hobo Johnson’s New Album Revels in Being the Outcast

Rapidly-rising artist Frank Lopes Jr., better known as Hobo Johnson, released his sophomore album today. Titled The Fall of Hobo Johnson, the record is a an interesting follow-up to the first recording, The Rise of Hobo Johnson, pursuing similar musical themes while at the same time moving into new terrain.

As indicated in the album’s titular inversion of the first project, Hobo’s new work opens up broader space for exploration than his previous projects. Specifically, it shuttles between the intimate world of self-doubt, shame, and uncertainty, and broader themes of politics, world conflict, and history. Ultimately, though, it is less a shuttling-between than a candid look at the messy interplay between the political and the personal.

The Energy of Breaking Musical Boundaries

Musically, The Fall of Hobo Johnson continues to revel in the hybridity that has defined his earlier work and for which he has become known.

His vocal delivery ranges from simple sing-song rhyming, to free-flowing poetry reading, to the painful guttural cries. While Hobo is known for disregarding and transgressing distinctions between musical genres, it is at times hard to tell if the rudimentary rhyming on many of the album’s tracks is a self-conscious decision or a musical shortcoming.

Despite this, Hobo’s vocals playfully complement and run on top of far-reaching instrumentations that blend elements of hip-hop, rock, folk, and punk. Moving from the upbeat horns of “Uglykid” to the moody electronic distortions of “Sorry, My Dear,” listeners never know where the next track will take them.

With the exception of only some very brief lulls, listening to the album is generally engaging, fun, and energizing.

Celebrating the Outcast and the Misfit

Hobo’s lyrics—the questions they explore, the messes they look at, and the conclusions they suggest—are arguably the most interesting part of the new album.

Hobo positions deeply personal concerns next to, within, and in contrast to larger political-social structures. Specifically, he is most interested in the points of friction where social norms exert oppressive and potentially deadly pressure onto peoples’ personal lives.

In doing so, Hobo consistently aligns with the position of the outcast, the misfit, and the lonely. He chooses the side of those who do not fit in with the mainstream.

He is the ugly kid of “Uglykid.” And in an earlier statement he described the music video to the album’s lead single, “Typical Story,” as depicting “my somewhat surrealist view of a Los Angeles pool party, which I have never got invited to.” For Hobo, the entire album is for and about “all the misfits who never get invited” to the cool kids’ party.

Hobo openly acknowledges the pain that can come from living in the position of the outcast or the slightly-out-of-step. And his music hopes to bring some sense of belonging and hope to those who may be drowning in that pain.

“The new album is a mix of songs and poems I’ve had floating around in my head for the last few year,” Hobo said of the new album. “I’m really proud of it and hope that it makes everyone feel a little less alone and a little more like they want to stay alive.”

Outside Social Norms, Free of Social Norms

Ultimately—and despite the pain and challenges of being outcast—Hobo sees this type of alienation as a preferable position. He lives in it, but he also chooses it.

For Hobo, being the “ugly kid” outside of normative society is also to be free of society’s suffocating pressures and expectations. Free to carve out new relationships and connections with others. Free to create and discover new ways of having fun and finding pleasure.

For Hobo, the ground on which the outcasts live might also the ground that most clearly highlights the absurdity and violence of many of our social norms.

Ultimately, Hobo wonders if alienation might actually be the position best-suited to critiquing systems of power and social norms—particularly the cruelty of these systems. And in place of that cruelty, Hobo creates a musical world that is both an anguished cry and a raucous party where he and his misfit friends can love each other and themselves.

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8 Plant-Training Techniques Explained


Removing the main crown shoot of your growing tip will ensure that two new shoots will grow back in its place. Pinching out once will create two tops; pinching out twice will create four tops; and so on. This technique is as simple as cleanly removing the growth tip until a lighter, fleshy-colored part of the plant tissue is exposed.

This will heal over and then form new growth shoots. It is very important to create a clean cut to avoid “fimming” (see below). I personally like to use a clean pair of nail cutters and to really get in and cut as close as possible. When incorporating a screen into the garden, topping is essential in creating a symmetrical canopy base from which to work.

Benefits: A plant’s height is basically cut in half-instead of one tall plant, the plant is separated into two parts. With this technique, the growth hormone that is responsible for apical dominance-in which a plant’s central stem is dominant-is cut off and a new hormone is emitted that promotes lateral growth. When the canopy is pinched out until the plant is flat-topped and multi-branched, canopy control is at its maximum.

Topping plants out will produce a greater number of smaller-size colas, as opposed to a main cola with supporting side branches if left untrained. This technique is ideal for growers who have limited space and want to avoid tall, lanky plants, and those growing plants with long vegetative periods, as this technique will produce a vibrant plant with eight heads in about 4-5 weeks.


When fimming, 80 percent of the crown shoot is removed, with a very small amount left behind. In response, the plant will cease to produce upper growth, focusing its energy on the rest of itself underneath the highest part where it has been fimmed. Growth at the low part of the plant, from the very base of the pot and each internode upward, will increase, creating a thicker-looking plant. To use this technique, simply take a pair of scissors and snip away three-quarters of the tip of the crown shoot of the main cola or on the top shoots of the supporting side branches. “Fimming” is short for “Fuck, I missed!” because the technique was discovered by accident.

Benefits: Plants will have time to focus on enhancing the growth tips that are below the fimmed shoot. The lowest buds will have a chance to catch up with the rest of the upper growth, so when the top shoot does grow back to normal, the entire plant has increased in size. Fimming can create really bushy plants, and it can help avoid weak-producing lower buds.

Super Cropping

This is my favorite technique for pushing my plants to the limit. It’s a hands-on high-stress method that involves breaking the inner cell walls of a branch by popping it between your fingers. When successfully performing this technique, you’ll be able to hear an audible snap as the plant’s inner walls collapse-or at least feel a change in the pressure inside the plant.

With young softwood plants, popping the center parts of each internode will suffice; however, with plants that are more woody, it’s much easier to twist and a bend, and there’s a quicker healing response.

Benefits: If you have ever seen a plant that has an almost-round, knuckle-shaped growth forming over a bent branch, it’s been super-cropped. Once the inner cell walls in a branch collapse, growth hormones are sent to the break.

The result is a hardwood, protective growth that will not only provide added support, it will also boost the plant’s vigor and ability to respond to stress. A plant that has been super-cropped will be noticeably stronger in terms of vigor, stature and overall yield.

Tie and Bend

Otherwise known as low-stress training (LST), this technique involves tying and bending certain parts of the plant at certain times to compel the canopy to grow symmetrically. This technique involves tying the plant down with string or metal cables and lowering the highest point of the crown shoot. The plant will respond with the rest of the growth tips now competing to produce the main cola. Through careful calculation and planning, a grower can simply use leverage to compel the plant to form into a short and stout bush in which the main cola is unidentifiable come flowering time.

Benefits: The benefit of LST is that the canopy will be round with heavy side branches. Additionally, as the plant grows sideways, the axillary shoots that would’ve once produced small flowering sites will not grow upward and toward the light.

The end result comes down to how many times the plant’s been tied down to create new vertical shoots. This technique is also very important when using a screen, and it’s a great way to make those once tiny nugs into main colas.

Screens provide a trellis for branches to fill/ Erik Biksa

Using a Screen

Referred to as screen of green or ScrOG, this technique involves the application of a screen or net to act as a trellis through which your upper canopy will grow while clearing away the lowest part of the plant below the screen, ensuring a maximum yield of symmetrical flowering sites.

This method requires longer vegetative times than other plant-training techniques, as selected shoots must be fed through the screen over the growing phase. Making a screen is as simple as laying chicken wire over a wooden frame, tying bamboo shoots together in a square formation or even using wire or pea netting.

Benefits: Using a screen not only allows the grower to be totally hands-on with his plants; it also allows those with very small plant counts to achieve large yields in a small grow space. The plants have no choice but to dedicate all their growth above the screen, resulting in no low-hanging schwag buds and improved air flow below the canopy.


Getting rid of fan leaves and low-growing tips is something that all growers should consider doing, but only at the proper time. Plants use their energy on whatever growth there is, so knowing when to cut away and strip the parts that are less productive than the upper parts is important. Take a pair of scissors and, as if you were taking clones, cut away the lowest growth of the plant that will take away from the prize buds you desire.

You should cut away everything from side branches to big healthy fan leaves. A good rule of thumb is to remove around 60 to 70 percent of the growth from the base of pots upward. You can also use your finger and thumb to strip away from the branches. Be vigilant to check for any new growth forming where the pruning took place.

Benefits: During the flowering stage, plants will exhibit the lollipop effect, where the main central stem has been stripped bare under a healthy, vibrant top canopy.

If you don’t prune the lowest parts of the plants, you’ll always struggle with the low-producing, light-deprived growth.

By clearing away a large proportion of the lowest plant parts, you can be assured that during the blooming phase the plant’s energy is being used as efficiently as possible and is focused on the heavy nugs on top. Pruning can make a big difference in the overall production of a cannabis plant, ranging from flower size to overall consistency.


This technique is slightly more complicated than traditional low-stress training, and it focuses solely on symmetrical plant growth. The principle behind mainlining is to remove the top shoot and all of a plant’s lower growth to create a bare stem. This allows the two axillary shoots to grow upward to form two primary shoots. If you picture a capital-Y shape and then grow from this starting figure, you can then tie the two shoots down to allow them to grow in a letter-T figure.

Benefits: Although it can seem like a very stressful training method and can certainly feel counterproductive, the important thing is to stick with it. Due to a carefully arranged symmetrical design, the plant will send signals to each pathway to make sure that each bud flowers and grows the same as all the others. The end result can be very impressive, but keep in mind that this method is for more experienced gardeners and requires much patience.

Strip and Flip

This method involves pruning away everything underneath the top internode of the plant’s branches a few days before flowering. This focuses all the plant’s energy into the remaining nodes. A full-scale prune can be quite drastic, and it’s the last thing anyone would do to their precious plants, yet this technique works. What’s left is a very skinny-looking structure with only one top shoot, but when it flowers it grows quite top-heavy.

Benefits: This technique removes the risk of any lower-producing popcorn nugs, provides an excellent opportunity to take some healthy cuttings for future grows, improves air flow and reduces insect and pest infestations. The flowers that the plant produces will be thick and dense. The end result will be uniform nugs that are each around 3-5 inches in size with substantial biomass.

Using proper techniques, growers can produce plenty of flowers with fewer plants/ Erik Biksa

Top Tips on Plant Count

Large Plants

Growing large-size plants that take up quite a bit of room requires long vegetative periods to produce as much productive foliage as possible. One can argue about which method produces larger yields: one large plant or many smaller plants under the same grow light. My tip here is to dedicate a grow tent for one or two very large plants. Avoid vegging many plants in a tent as they’ll fight for light and overshadow one another as blooming commences.

Light Output

You may have purchased a 10-pack of the latest and greatest genetics, and although you calculate that planting 9 seeds under a 600-watt lamp will result in a 9-ounce yield, it really depends on the integrity of your lighting setup. Grow lights are measured in lumen count and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR). My tip here is to find out the amount of PAR your lights are emitting, then work out if it’s adequate enough to produce heavy-yielding plants.

Sea-of-Green Method

This method requires very short vegging times and a quick introduction to flowering.

The principle behind SOG is to grow as many small plants as possible in a limited space. The turnaround time may be a week longer than the flowering period for commercial growers. Make sure the strain you’re growing is well suited for a SOG grow (such as a short-flowering /nd/’ca-dominant variety) to make the process as straightforward as possible.

Strain Selection

There are many varieties of cannabis on the market these days, each displaying traits of indica, sativa or a mixture of both. Growing indica-dominant varieties will allow a grower to produce smaller-size plants. Hybrids can extend taller, and saf/Va-dominant strains will tend to stretch out even more. My tip here is to learn as much as possible about the strain you’re growing. It can determine a short or long vegging period, as well as if SOG or ScrOG is the right method to use.

Skill Level and Experience

If you’re new to growing cannabis, it’s better to grow a few smaller-size plants at first to learn the ways of the plant. If you’re more experienced, then generally having a larger plant is the norm, and the level of plant training that can be provided will result in a huge difference in terms of canopy control and final yield. A shorter vegetative time is more forgiving to the beginner, providing less time

to make catastrophic mistakes. Grow according to your skill level in terms of plant count, strain selection and nutrient use.


Your plant count and vegging time may be limited due to your budget; for example, electricity costs soar during the longer 18-hour lights-on periods. You may also be limited in nutrients and prefer to flower as soon as possible to save more during the growing stage. You may also be restricted to pot size, lighting capacity and many other things due to financial restrictions, so plan ahead to spend and grow within your time and financial constraints.

Vegging Room

For growers who have a vegging tent and a flowering tent, growing larger plants is probably not necessary, as a constant rotation of smaller-size plants is beneficial and practical. Invest in a tent solely for growing seedlings and clones until they are mature enough to be transferred to the flowering tent.

With the above options for training your plants, you’ll be able to find a technique that is well-suited for your individual space, time and financial considerations. Experiment and have fun-when harvest time comes around you’ll have some dank nugs to celebrate with and begin to plan your next grow!

Originally published in the March, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

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Flashback Friday: An Oral History Of Benzedrine Use In The USA

For this edition of Flashback Friday, we’re bringing you an excerpt from The Drug User by legendary drug aficionado, Herbert Huncke, originally published in the October, 1991 edition of High Times.

Although not as well known as his fellow “Beats”—Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady, and Burroughs—Herbert Huncke is just as important. Writer/ junkie/thief/hustler Huncke has been in and out of prison and various addictions throughout his 70-odd years on the planet. The always-neatly-pressed Huncke has had a life checkered with adventures (quite a few of them not very pleasant), and as a result his writings are engrossing, enlightening and perversely entertaining. His last book, Guilty of Everything (Paragon House) tracked the ups and downs and ins and outs of his sometimes-debilitating heroin habit.

Benzedrine—an amphetamine—was widely used in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s by n’er-do-well crank-heads who would order it over-the-counter from their local drugstores. It first took the form of pills—Bennies—and later, nasal inhaler after the pills got a little too popular. The inhaler form proved even more handy, and the drug was subsequently reclassified under the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1971. The following is an excerpt from The Drug User (Blast Books), a compilation volume that looks at drug use from a historical perspective (deliberately ignoring the already well-documented ’60s), which is due to be released this month. Along with Huncke’s piece, there are contributions from other well-known drug users, including William S. Burroughs, Baudelaire, Anais Nin, Aldous Huxley and Jean Cocteau.

Go back to the 1930s—though it must have been discovered somewhere in the ’20s, I’m almost sure—start from say ’32, under cover before ’33, I know that— Benzedrine was then only known by a few: nurses and doctors, students at universities where they’d come in contact with science types and medical people, and a few oddballs like myself. I grew up in Chicago—so, say at the University of Chicago, someone would say, “Man, I have to cram for an exam and I’m exhausted’’—and someone would know someone who was a nurse with knowledge of this new thing called Benzedrine—“Hey, why don’t you get a few Bennies” (right away it was ‘Bennies’)—I’m guessing it started to spread like that, students in-the-know. I learned a lot about amphetamine through them.

Soon I learned that a lot people who weren’t of the underworld were piddling around with the stuff—one experience I had was the summer when I took a job as an elevator boy at the Illinois Athletic Club on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. A guy stepped into the elevator one night and asked me to buy him a bottle of pills—I think two dozen, 10 mgs, for about 89¢. This guy was considered a great athlete, and upper crust—I guess he figured I was only going to be there for a short time, and that I wasn’t likely going to squeal. Me, I could do a bottle of 20 to 25 in a period of about three days. It was a stimulating thing, as you know, and you could go for long periods doing things you liked without feeling exhausted. I liked to talk, it was a perfect talking drug. One used to stay up all night and end up at the jazz joints after hours. Life fascinated me to no end. To end up over into the Black Belt in the South Side of Chicago—there wasn’t anything that knocked me out more.

Everyone’s complaint about it though, at the beginning, was that it killed the sex drive—so many stopped using it after a short while. But OK! Perseverance corrected that assumption! See, in those days people were uptight about sex, so psychologically, you know once Bennie kicked in… well, it teases you a little. Sure—it kind of encouraged the freakish aspect—so you had to let go, and when you got going you could go for hours and hours. We found that it helped the sex drive! So that’s how basic sexual discoveries began to come about—letting go in bed, and then afterwards being less embarrassed to talk about it—they just followed their inclinations!

Benzedrine gets to the mind, too—I don’t like to separate the mental from the physical, and while I was jumping around I’d start thinking about things I’d never thought of before. Although it gave you all this energy, as I say, it didn’t make you angry. One would simply pass out the stuff—no one needed to make a buck off of it—one wasn’t inclined to steal or anything like that—that wasn’t the idea at all. You need a Bennie? Here, I have ten, here’s three or four—we weren’t so paranoid in those days…. And I’d travel around with it, too—town to town, popping. I’d leave Chicago and I could still buy without any problem—this was about the mid-’30s. Of course I kept myself well-groomed at all times, and while people didn’t look down on the drug so much yet, it always helps to have a good appearance. Once, I ran into Toledo and I had a problem getting some. It was obviously getting more popular, and some drugstores were picking up on that. I had to buy caffeine tablets that time, and suffered from it—I got ill and could not talk well.

If you start to feel trouble, of course you want to know what the trouble is, right? It still wasn’t illegal, but it had come to the attention of many people because, I think, workers in the industrial areas and truck drivers were buying it more and more to keep alert on their jobs. I remember in the road stops—in the restroom stalls—seeing “George the Bennie King was Here,” or things like that.

It was when they got hip to the pills, and they became difficult to get, that French & Kline—who had a priority claim as Benzedrine manufacturers in the US, to the best of my knowledge (they were located in Pennsylvania, if I recall)— well, they switched over to these nasal inhalers. These quickly became a big item in drug counters. It was put into a small metal container—later plastic—stuffed with some kind of gauze and rolled very tightly with not only Benzedrine, but oil of lettuce and menthol and God-knows-what else. The problem was you not only got hooked on amphets but on this other shit too! We used to share the inhalers, sitting in a cafeteria with a cup of hot coffee—by the time you got up and walked out you’d be a new man! They were very delightful, just euphoric. The world was beautiful.

They didn’t last for very long on the streets—they knew they had a problem almost immediately. Anslinger, who’d already ruined the pot scene, got on the ass of Benzedrine and got carried away with this new thing—Oh, we got something else to take care of now! Don’t you know there were a lot of payoffs down the line in the process. The cops—who still didn’t know what the fuck amphetamine was on into the ’50s—didn’t mind because, after all, what was an inhaler when it came down to it.

By 1939-40, when I hit Times Square, Bennies were illegal, but there were those of us who still managed. Over on Eighth Avenue there were a couple of drugstores tucked away that street people like myself— who hadn’t tipped our mitts—used to get by.

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