What’s in Your Stash? Charles McElroy, Founder of Goldleaf

Is there a Patient Journal in your stash? Perhaps a Recreational Tasting Journal – something to keep track of the many wonderful cultivars and products you sample? How about a record to help you keep track of your daily cannabis protocols? Or, how about a Grow Planner for tracking the phases of your grow cycle; or a Cooking Journal, created specifically as a “Culinary Companion” for your kitchen apothecary?

What if all these record-keeping journals and more were available in high-end, beautifully detailed, compact publications that fit into your satchel?

Charles McElroy was thinking the same thing, as he created the intelligently penned Goldleaf line of journals, reference cards, recipe cards, and a plethora of scientific reference material for the modern-day cannabis farmer, patient, and partaker.

From its website: “…Goldleaf is a science-forward printing company for cannabis growers, patients, and enthusiasts… empowering people by helping them better understand their interactions with the plant…”

“I wanted to make something that people who are passionate about cannabis could further engage with,” McElroy explained. “The cloak of the [illicit] market wouldn’t allow growers to write down their process, now they can.” 

Courtesy of Charles McElroy

From Ignorance, to Realization, to Action

McElroy hails from Ohio, attending Ohio University in Athens, graduating with a dual major of Business and IT in 2004. 

“I began using cannabis in college,” he shared. “I had a couple of health conditions since I was 15 – autoimmune disorders, chronic pain. The first time I tried cannabis it wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t too bad, as I tried it again the next day. I was always a little anxious about how it would affect me, because I was uneducated. Then I learned about the social injustice of cannabis prohibition – the oppression, discrimination, how people are treated as criminals for using this plant.”

Cannabis was McElroy’s gateway to learning. He said the plant not only taught him about the injustice of prohibition and the lack of education thereafter, it taught him what his own body needs, and how to be more proactive about his health.

“Cannabis changed the way I handle my symptoms. I microdose now – that’s where I found my secret sauce,” he laughed.

Stints in audio engineering for both the Library of Congress in Austin, Texas; and in a studio with recording artists, taught him about audio fatigue.

“Your work will go downhill if you ignore the signs,” he said. “Cannabis reset my mind and ears – it helped me work better and smarter.”

After working in Texas and Colorado, McElroy made his way back to Ohio, and helped start up a company called Noble, with a line of organic and sustainable jeans, Bespoke. 

“I worked in every aspect of the supply chain, distribution, and product design, but it wasn’t my passion,” he said. “We sold the company to a group in Australia, and I started Goldleaf in Cincinnati in 2016.”

The Noble team helped with the initial designs and photography, while its legal team got him on the right path.

Courtesy of Charles McElroy

Dispelling Myths

“We wanted Goldleaf materials to be beautiful, but we also needed all the information to be accurate,” he said. “It took one year for the Patient Journal to be developed because we had to vet experts in the space. The first four doctors we used wouldn’t let us use their names, but that was alright – we wanted their minds and expertise.”

Learning how to navigate providing educational materials on cannabis in a formerly covert environment had its pratfalls, as misinformation is rampant in the industry.

“It used to be a common belief that Myrcene, one of the terpenes found in cannabis, enhances THC uptake – like when you eat a mango,” he explained. “But, we found that’s really not what’s going on. We could not find one single peer reviewed paper on this theory. We had to update the language in our Patient Journal and everything else that referenced terpenes.”

Goldleaf makes it simple for the average reader, but they also stay close to the scientific vernacular.

“For people who are into the culture of cannabis, the scientific aspect is often new to them,” he said. “We aim to be the encyclopedia of cannabis and offer proven scientific facts only, but you won’t find any recommendations on dosing – we leave that up to the medical professionals in the space.”

Like cannabis, the journals and educational materials Goldleaf publishes are used around the world – even in non-legal countries.

“We have customers on every continent except Antarctica,” he laughed. “We even shipped to one small country we had never heard of – Seychelles, a tiny island off the coast of Africa/Madagascar. There are 95 thousand people on this island, but they found us and are using the journals.”

Courtesy of Charles McElroy

Journaling the Stash

Prominently displayed with McElroy’s stash is his own Patient Journal by Goldleaf.

“I always keep notes when I’m medicating – or traveling and trying new cultivars,” he explained. “I like to use colored pencils to give myself a little more flexibility with details and notes – plus it keeps it fun and exciting.”

His rolling tray is made by Cannador, and although he generally vapes, he enjoys smoking blends when burning flower, adding mullen and spearmint to the mix. His favorite cultivars are Jack Herer, Orange CBD, and Chemdawg.

“My personal choice for a vaporizer is the Arizer Solo 2 Vape,” he added. “It has a long battery life, is built like a tank, and has an all glass path. It’s great for my regimen of micro-dosing, since I can easily monitor the amount used. I also enjoy the granular temperature control – allowing lower heat for tasting more of the terpenes, and ensuring the dose is mild when it needs to be.”

He uses a Canndescent Stylus vape pen, as it has a clip and can attach to his journal; a course herb grinder, keeping material from slipping through smoking implements; dark glass flower jars, keeping his herb fresh and potent; and an MJ Arsenal glass bubbler, for sharing.

“I also take 1000 milligrams of CBD oil in the morning, made by Rosebud,” he said. “It helps with some of my joint and lower back spasms. This, mixed with some yoga in the mornings, keeps me going and keeps the tightness and throbbing at bay.”

The Future Looks Green

In the works are art prints, likened to vintage travel posters, with cities depicted with their relation to cannabis – picture Ohio with a focus on hemp. The first phase of posters will include Ohio, Northern California, Southern California, Oregon, and Colorado; set to launch winter of 2019.

“They will be stylized conversation pieces, helping people talk about issues related to cannabis and sustainability,” he said. “We’ve been working with some famous artists, and are really excited about their launch. They are absolutely beautiful – a priority in everything we publish.”

Goldleaf is also collaborating with a veterinarian to create Pet Journals, helping pet owners keep track of products and protocols with confidence.

“Humans aren’t the only species on the planet who needs cannabis,” he surmised. “The reason I was so nervous when I tried cannabis for the first time was simply due to a lack of education. We at Goldleaf are trying to change that – in a beautiful and intelligent way.”

The post What’s in Your Stash? Charles McElroy, Founder of Goldleaf appeared first on High Times.

California’s Illegal Cannabis Industry Three Times Bigger Than Regulated Market

It has been nearly three years since California voters overwhelmingly approved a measure legalizing recreational marijuana use, opening the door for boutique pot shops and cannabis bakeries. But a report this week found that the state’s illicit market is still plenty active in its own right.

In fact, according to a report released Wednesday by the United Cannabis Business Association that was reported on by the Los Angeles Times, California’s marijuana illicit market is three times larger than the regulated industry established by the 2016 referendum. The audit found that there remains about 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services throughout the state, compared with only 873 licensed marijuana dealers. 

The figures were highlighted as part of an effort by the United Cannabis Business Association, which represents licensed pot dealers in California, to crack down on Weedmaps, an app that allows users to locate dispensaries near them. 

The group contends that Weedmaps is still rife with listings for illicit marijuana dispensaries, despite the company’s pledge to remove them from the app. 

In a letter Wednesday to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), United Cannabis Business Association president Jerred Kiloh called on regulators to enforce Assembly Bill 97, legislation passed and signed this year that enables the state to levy $30,000 a day fines for unlicensed dealers. 

The bill took effect on July 1.

In the letter to Newsom, Kiloh drew attention to the string of recent vaping-related deaths.

“The severity of this situation cannot be underscored. We know too well the dangers of the unlicensed and unregulated market,” Kiloh said. “Just last week, after a series of deaths, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally warned consumers to avoid vapes containing THC. While still under investigation, all 57 cases so far in California have involved purchases from unlicensed “pop-up” shops.”

“This outbreak serves as a tragic reminder of the dangers that the unlicensed industry poses to consumers. Licensed retailers are required to adhere to strict testing mandates that help prevent incidents like this from happening – the reality is, unless you are buying from a legal dispensary there is no guarantee of safety.”

Given the volume of illegal dispensaries present on Weedmaps, Kiloh claimed that the “California could levy fines against the platform of up to $85 million per day” if it were to enforce AB97.

“There’s simply no reason to wait, Californians are in danger,” Kiloh said. 

Weedmaps promised to crack down on the illegal dispensaries shown on the platform in an announcement late last month, saying it was “restricting the use of its point of sale, online orders, delivery logistics, and wholesale exchange software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms to licensed operators exclusively.” 

In his letter Wednesday, Kiloh said that the legislation should be enforced to ensure that “Weedmaps’ toothless announcements are followed with real action.”

The post California’s Illegal Cannabis Industry Three Times Bigger Than Regulated Market appeared first on High Times.

Three Cannabidiol (CBD) Strains You Can Grow Right Now

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

Amnesia CBD

After his buddy Dockie had great experiences with strains from Dinafem Seeds in recent years, Ellis D. wanted to grow some out as well. He was particularly curious about the CBD strain collection created by the Spanish seed bank, and since Dockie had grown Dinafem’s Original Amnesia and Amnesia Kush, Ellis D. chose Amnesia CBD from the company’s comprehensive assortment. Being an ardent sativa lover, Ellis D. wondered how well Dinafem had managed to transfer the outstanding qualities of Original Amnesia in terms of effect and aroma to its CBD version.

Of course, due to the lower THC and higher CBD content, the potency level would be reduced. This is actually appreciated by medical users who aren’t seeking heavy psychoactive effects or by others who prefer milder cannabis. On average, Amnesia CBD’s 8 percent THC level is slightly outweighed by a 10 percent CBD count. According to Dinafem, this strain reliably performs with a THC/ CBD ratio of at least 1:1.

The high CBD content of Amnesia CBD was achieved by crossing the original Amnesia with the CBD-rich Dancehall strain created by Reggae Seeds. Dinafem bought thousands of seeds from Reggae Seeds as well as the right to use the strain for breeding projects. From that batch of Dancehall seeds, Dinafem’s breeders selected specimens with particularly strong CBD profiles to breed CBD versions of some of their best regular strains.

Amnesia CBD (60 percent sativa and 40 percent indica) is a fairly tall-growing plant with the ability to produce big yields-indoors up to 550 grams per square meter and outdoors up to 1.1 kilogram per plant. Under artificial light, it needs 60-65 flowering days to mature. Under natural light, it finishes around mid-October. Just like its mother Amnesia, it drips with resin, plentifully bestrewn with trichomes. Taste-and smell-wise, Amnesia CBD produces a distinct spicy haze note complemented by hints of lemon and sweet fruits. Dinafem describes its moderate effects as stimulating and inspiring, causing a feeling of breezy cheerfulness that alleviates stress and enhances one’s daily activities. Under the influence of Amnesia CBD, one tends to socialize and enjoy a night out.

Two Amnesia CBD seeds were germinated by Ellis D. in small pots covered with cling film. Both seedlings emerged within three days. After three weeks of vegetative growth, they’d evolved into compact, well-branched plants with dark-green shade leaves, their thin-fingered shape typical of sativa-dominant genetics.

The stem-elongation effect revealed by the plants in the early stage of flowering was stronger than Ellis D. expected. The stretch lasted almost five weeks into flowering with the plants almost tripling in size. At an early stage, it became apparent that Amnesia CBD would exhibit a high calyx-to-leaf ratio as an immense number of white hairs were emerging from the young buds. Resin glands also made an early appearance, and after less than three weeks of flowering the flowers began to twinkle auspiciously.

The flowering stage lasted a bit longer than stated by Dinafem. Instead of 60-65 days, the two Amnesia CBD plants took 69 and 72 days to fully ripen, but yielded 81.2 and 93.8 grams of dry buds, respectively.

Of course, what Ellis D. couldn’t tell from their appearance was the amount of CBD those buds contained. But he believed that testing the Amnesia CBD flowers in his Mighty vaporizer would give him a rough idea, so he placed half a gram in the device’s chamber and, after it heated up, put the nozzle to his lips and inhaled deeply.

The Amnesia CBD vapor felt silky soft when it went down into his lungs, where he kept it for a while to get an optimum effect. In his mouth, it left a tangy, hazy sweetness with a long finish, which prompted him to praise Amnesia CBD as “a most delicious gourmet weed of which one instantly wants to taste more.” Already, the first toke had slightly enhanced his sensory perception. His eyes, previously bleary from a long computer session, immediately opened wide again, and after the second toke they were turbocharged, alert and focused, like the eyes of an eagle with prey in its sights.

There was a fresh, tingling sativa drive at work, providing an invigorating effect, both physically and mentally. After four tokes, Ellis D. had enough for the time being as he felt elated. His inner sun had risen, painting a happy smile on his face and conjuring nice thoughts in his brain. There it was again, that mentally stabilizing effect of cannabidiol that can make one feel unshakable. While that peppy sativa drive was gone after about 20 minutes, Ellis D. still felt harmoniously balanced one hour after his first vaporizer session. When he switched the vaporizer on again, he took six tokes as it was the second round and the weed was no longer pristine. But the effect was still stimulatory and incited him to put on his rollerblades and cruise around outside.

“Amnesia CBD is a lovely CBD-rich strain with a very pleasant, activating, mood-lifting and balancing effect,” concluded Ellis D., “a beneficial and flavorful medicine not only applicable for habitual cannabis users. Also, hor-ticulturally, this super-hazy CBD powerhouse has fully convinced me, thanks to its easy management and ample yields. Altogether, I’ve experienced a dazzling Dinafem Seeds strain premiere in my growroom! There surely is a lot more to come…”

Patients seeking relief from anxiety utilize Cheese CBD (detail)/ GBI

Cheese CBD

Today’s world of cannabis strains is almost unimaginable without the ubiquitous Cheese strain. From a genetic point of view, it’s actually an old acquaintance as it evolved from the “mother of all indoor strains,” the legendary Skunk #1. In the late 1980s, a grower in South East England selected a highly special genotype that had supposedly undergone a spontaneous mutation, gaining enhanced powers. He preserved it as a cutting, and via the Exodus home-growing group this cutting was spread all over England from 1995 on.

Dinafem Seeds managed to get hold of a genuine Exodus Cheese cutting and brought it into seed form by means of sophisticated breeding techniques. Then the company not only put the pure Cheese on the market as a seed strain, but also created and marketed hybrids such as Blue Cheese and Critical Cheese.

However, Dinafem breeders thought that a sublime variety like Cheese should also be available for lightweight smokers who cannot handle a strong cannabis high or simply don’t need it-for people who strive to benefit from the medicinal blessings of the cannabis plant without getting totally spaced out. Since they possessed the original genetics of the famous Dancehall strain-with its extremely high CBD count-the breeders had an obvious solution: create a CBD version of Cheese.

Crossing Cheese with Dancehall resulted in Cheese CBD, a very productive 50/50 indica/sativa hybrid that proudly boasts an unadulterated Cheese flavor, skillfully transferred by the breeders from mother to daughter. That unique signature flavor has a spicy complexity that reminds one of cured cheese—savory and sweet, but also slightly flowery. Due to the penetrating nature of this smell, Dinafem strongly recommends using a well-functioning carbon exhaust filter.

The THC/CBD ratio of Cheese CBD amounts to at least 1:1, depending on the cultivation conditions, and the CBD content may be higher, with the ratio approaching 1:2. Under good conditions, a total cannabinoid (THC and CBD) amount of about 15 percent can be achieved. Growers don’t have to wait very long for their blooming reward—after a moderate flowering period of 50-60 days, they can reap a harvest of up to 500 grams per square meter. The plant’s appearance leans more to the sativa than to the indica side, with fairly narrow, long shade leaves and symmetrical branching. According to Dinafem, Cheese CBD requires only moderate amounts of fertilizer.

This variety is suitable for the outdoors, too, growing to heights of up to 2.5 meters and ripening around mid-October. Given optimum conditions, yields of up to one kilogram per plant are possible. With the high CBD count attenuating the psychoactive THC effect, Cheese CBD delivers a mild and mellow turn that causes a pleasant state of wellbeing with a great deal of inner balance. So relaxation and calmness are on the agenda, which makes Cheese CBD a good treatment for anxiety and muscle tension. It’s also supposed to increase one’s appetite.

A dried and cured Cheese CBD flower on display (detail)/ GBI

As an aficionado of “cheesy” cannabis strains and such with high CBD counts, Ellis D. quickly had Cheese CBD in his sights and, no sooner said than done, he put it to a cultivation test. Due to his small grow area, and the fact that he wanted to simultaneously test Dinafem’s Moby Dick CBD as well, he could only get two feminized seeds started. The seedlings poked out of the one-liter pots filled with soil after less than two and a half days, eagerly stretching toward the LED light.

After transplanting into larger pots and three weeks in the vegetative stage, flowering was induced. Merely two weeks later, all the shoot tips were sporting white pistils. Both Cheese CBD plants doubled their height during the first four weeks of flowering, at the same time busily enlarging the volume of their buds. Each plant yielded approximately 66 grams of dry flowers.

To test the effect of Cheese CBD, Ellis D. invited a friend who suffers from restless legs syndrome (RLS) and had her inhale Cheese CBD from his vaporizer. She took two tokes, leaned back and—guess what?—after less than a minute noticed that the restlessness began to fade, and soon thereafter was completely gone!

Of course, from just those two tokes she didn’t get high; she simply relaxed both physically and mentally. Ellis D. himself experienced the effect of Cheese CBD in just the way he’s used to when imbibing high-grade CBD weed: It served him as an anchor of mental stability, providing a harmonious feeling of inner balance and calmness. “From now on, I call that sort of feeling a ‘cheesy state of mind’!” he chuckled.

After vaping the Cheese CBD that evening shortly before going to bed, Ellis D. enjoyed a deeper sleep than usual, with considerably less waking and no undesirable side effects. Said Ellis D.: “When using regular THC-rich marijuana for my sleep disorder, after I get up in the morning, I feel like I have a bell jar over my head for hours. By contrast, CBD-rich weed with a CBD/THC ratio of about 1:1 makes me wake up feeling as fresh as a daisy.” He also liked the savory sweet Cheese CBD flavor a lot: “It’s really a special treat, absolutely palatable and with a long-lasting, piquant aftertaste, just like the Exodus Cheese mother.

“Cheese CBD is a markedly well-done CBD adaption of that famous THC-rich strain. Dinafem has done a great job here again,” Ellis D. concluded. “This cannabis is medicinally valuable, and the resounding success when treating my friend’s RLS with it was simply astounding! But it’s also fantastic for Cheese aficionados who don’t wish to be stoned to the bone all the time, but nevertheless enjoy that toothsome cheesy flavor.”

OG Kush CBD shares the growing characteristics of the original OG Kush (detail)/ GBI

OG Kush CBD

As the most influential and iconic strain of recent years, these outstanding genetics originating from California are well-known among everyone interested in cannabis cultivars. It wasn’t by chance that OG Kush took first place in the High Times “25 Greatest Strains of All Time” list, published in 2014.

OG Kush’s stunning potency and highly specific overpowering aroma blend a gassy diesel-fuel smell with conifer-and citrus notes.

Dinafem managed to reel in these original genetics and soon thereafter OG Kush became one of the company’s best-selling strains. Due to its popularity for recreational and medical use, breeding a CBD version of it was the obvious direction to go. So OG Kush was transformed into the “defused potency bomb” OG Kush CBD, a strain that retains a two-digit THC count of 10 percent but leads to a pleasant, somewhat euphoric and more-cerebral-than-bodily effect of medium duration. Its CBD content is specified at 10 percent as well, with Dinafem guaranteeing that the THC/ CBD ratio is always at least 1:1, but can even amount to 1:2 depending on the phenotype.

Dinafem describes OG Kush CBD as a very resinous sativa-dominant (60:40 sativa/indica) plant with fairly wide internodes and broad leaves—plant attributes that are also true for the mother strain, OG Kush. And OG Kush CBD also shares the growing characteristics of its mother: 55-60 days of flowering, indoor yields of up to 550 grams per square meter, maturity under natural light around mid-October and outdoor yields of up to 1,100 grams per plant. As a matter of course, the famous OG Kush flavor has been retained, jam-packed with notes of gasoline, lemon, wood and spices.

Germination went very well. After less than three days, the seedlings had shoved their heads through the soil’s surface. The plants spent three weeks in the vegetative stage, exhibiting uniform growth with fairly low height and short internodal spacing. By the time Ellis D. switched the timer to a 12/12-hour day/night light cycle to usher in the flowering stage, his two OG Kush CBD specimens had still grown less than a foot, but he was prepared for them to stretch.

One of the plants lived up to that expectation in the period that followed, mightily shooting upward during the first five weeks of flowering—it was one of the strongest stem-and-branch-elongation effects Ellis D. had ever witnessed in a cannabis plant. The other plant, however, stretched only slightly, keeping its bushy shape during flowering. But regardless of their different growth, flower production set in equally early and vividly with both plants. After three weeks they were already full of white blossoms.

Initial trichome frost appeared super-early on the taller plant, and after four weeks not only the calyxes and sugar leaves were covered in resin, but also the stalks of the big leaves protruding from the buds. The smaller plant wasn’t sparing with resin glands either, though, soon becoming just as resinous and, much to Ellis D.’s delight, producing very voluminous chubby side buds that surrounded a pointier head cola. This plant had a somewhat lower calyx-to-leaf ratio than the very hairy tall specimen of OG Kush CBD that was apparently driven by a stronger sativa impulse.

Ellis D. was happy when he noticed that both plants were giving off that typical OG Kush scent he loves so much. “Welcome to the petrol station!” he exclaimed. “While all the buds are basically smelling oily, differences can be found in the secondary notes—the tall plant comes with a coniferous hint of pine, whereas the other reveals a slight dash of lemon. Both these melanges are so delicious that I could keep sticking my nose into these buds for hours.”

With a final height of 93.5 centimeters, the tall plant had become 4.5 times taller than at the beginning of its flowering stage. It was harvested after 64 days, which exceeded the official harvest window by a few days, but given its visual and olfactory qualities, Ellis D. felt that this was absolutely acceptable. The bushy OG Kush CBD specimen—56 centimeters tall in the end—achieved a timely finish when reaching the home stretch after 58 days.

When the harvest was dried and cured a few weeks later, Ellis D. was well satisfied with dry yields of 55 grams from the small plant and 69 grams from the tall plant. After plenty of chlorophyll had disappeared from the buds, their aroma came forward even more distinctly: The smaller plant’s “citrus fuel” buds caused Ellis D. to envisage himself standing in a smelly car-repair shop while grating a lemon peel. The other plant’s buds made him fantasize that he had parked his car in the middle of a pine forest and changed the oil.

Ellis D. test-vaped the “citrus fuel” buds at first. In view of their indica-style appearance, he wasn’t too surprised that he began to feel pretty stoned after some hits from his vaporizer, but not devastatingly so with a dull and numb sensation in his head; instead, he was just pleasantly cushioned and mellow.

He entered into a mental comfort zone and the stress that had accumulated during the day was released. Further, his back muscles, painfully tensed-up from a long day’s physical work, started to relax.

Next came the “pine fuel” buds. After a few vapor puffs, the sample provided a stimulating burst of freshness to Ellis D.’s head that further elevated his mood. However, that refreshing shot of sativa euphoria didn’t last very long and gradually gave way to an overall calm feeling of placidness and mental balance. Physically, this pheno of OG Kush CBD had a relaxing effect right from the start, just like the other one. Flavor-wise, it also was just as intense and palatable, with the only difference being that on inhale, its secondary pine note had already merged with the predominant gassy character instead of separately running ahead first.

Ellis D.’s final conclusion: “A sublime CBD strain adaptation by Dinafem that definitely does honor to its legendary mother strain OG Kush. The flavor comes very close to the original, and the softened buzz it delivers is highly pleasant and therapeutically effective, leading to a sense of physical and emotional well-being. I think the high share of CBD is strongly noticeable here. It’s a kind of OG Kush marijuana that doesn’t send the user sprawling on the floor, but nevertheless retains the high coolness factor of this strain legend. For me, OG Kush CBD is the coolest green medicine!”

The post Three Cannabidiol (CBD) Strains You Can Grow Right Now appeared first on High Times.

Stemming the Cannabis Black Market

On July 18, 2019, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in California served search warrants at 56 illegal cannabis cultivation sites. This operation was spearheaded by 390 law enforcement personnel, whose mission was to combat the ongoing problem of illegal cannabis cultivation sites throughout California.

The raids resulted in:

  • 47,939 marijuana plants confiscated
  • 2,132 pounds of processed cannabis
  • 47 tons of cannabis plants disposed
  • 2 Butane Honey Oil Labs located
  • 71 firearms
  • 49 arrests

The target of the operation was illegal cultivation sites. Individuals or licensed businesses with permits to grow cannabis legally were not affected.

Illegal cultivation is far from just a California problem. For example, if Oregon halted cannabis production today, the state would not experience a shortage as it has a six-year surplus.

The fear for investors and legal growers is that, if some growers turn to the black market to unload excess inventory, federal enforcement will come into play, which will set back the legal cannabis industry to the stone age. Oregon is currently making moves to limit licensure for legal production, but some active licenses may also need to be revoked, which would leave those licensees with vast investment losses. In other words, legalized cannabis’s massive economic market is not without financial problems of its own.

Don’t Make a Federal Case Out of It

Several states have legalized recreational cannabis with the intention of reimagining this vast underground market as an above-board business that bolsters the state’s economy via transparent dealings. To date, however, the federal government has refused to budge regarding cannabis’s status as an illegal Schedule 1 substance. This classification puts cannabis on a par with opioids. As such, those states that have legalized recreational cannabis are extremely motivated to keep these businesses on the up and up and not to pique federal interest.

Black Market Vulnerability

One of the tenets of legalizing cannabis is stemming the proliferation of black-market suppliers and minimizing the negative effects that the “war on drugs”has had in minority communities. These positive impetuses have yet to flourish. As a result of the illegal status of cannabis at the federal level, cannabis-legal states are forced to operate as islands.

Generally, taking legally purchased cannabis across state lines – from a legal to an illegal state – is illegal, and this is not only confusing but is also a recipe for complications. This leaves cannabis-legal states vulnerable to black market activity. These pockets of legal recreational cannabis that are popping up around the country loosen the constraints of the cannabis movement while the legality of this movement remains problematic. The results are an environment that’s extremely hospitable to black market activity.

Supply and Demand

The reality is that – due to supply and demand – cannabis costs about half as much in cannabis-legal states as it does in states in which it’s illegal. Black market growers in legal states destabilize the market. Those legit companies which remain above board, pay their taxes and jump through every legal hoop, cannot compete with black market interlopers who eschew such niceties.

The point made by detractors of legal cannabis isn’t lost on the rest of us – the black market is burgeoning.States that have legalized production have inadvertently made it easier for illegal producers to hide in plain sight, and the line between legal and illegal operations can become blurred. This creates new frustrations for law enforcement and naturally cuts into the legal cannabis trade. The situation has left some opponents to legalization demanding new crackdowns – others characterize such suggestions as amounting to a new war on drugs.

No Going Back

Detractors of legalized cannabis claim the somewhat chaotic effects related to the current patchwork approach to legalization are a result of opening the gates to legalization in the first place. However, putting the genie of legalized recreational cannabis back in the bottle simply isn’t feasible for operational, financial and political reasons. With the proliferation of attendant illegal operations, however, it is becoming more and more clear that leveling the playing field – via some form of federal legalization – is inevitable. The current state-by-state solution leaves too much wiggle room for the illegal transport of cannabis from those states with looser restrictions to those states with tighter protocols. If politics is choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable, the billion-dollar cannabis conundrum is a great example. The question may no longer be should we legalize cannabis but, instead, how do we legalize cannabis.In other words, we need to find a path forward, and focusing only on the pitfalls that we’ve experienced so far isn’t going to get us where we need to be.

A Tale of Two Choices

The point made by detractors of legal cannabis isn’t lost on the rest of us – the black market is burgeoning. As such, we have an important decision to make. A blanket prohibition of cannabis may no longer be practicable, so we’re left to choose between legal and overt practices across the board or a hodgepodge of semilegal practices with covert ops in tow. Fostering illegal activity is rarely in our nation’s best interests, which leaves legalizing cannabis at the federal level as possibly the most practicable solution.

Protecting Public Health

As more states embrace the legalization of recreational cannabis, public health concerns remain an issue. Many of these illegal cultivators use chemicals that are banned in the United States and do not properly dispose of chemicals or waste products that destroy the environment, contaminate drinking water and have the potential to harm or even kill residents and domestic animals. Not only is this activity harmful, growers often steal electricity and water from surrounding residents.

Cobbling together a pastiche of laws, however, inevitably bolsters black market activity and does nothing to help protect public health. Even the staunchest proponents of legalizing cannabis don’t want minors involved in the equation. Additionally, few debate that unchecked usage is a healthy option. Quasi-legislation at the state level (and on a state-by-state basis), however, provides neither a check nor a balance.

Onward and Upward

The most likely next step for safeguarding public health, for stemming black-market activity, and for generating maximum revenues is toward thoughtful and comprehensive national legalization that comes sooner rather than later. In the meantime, law enforcement should protect the public, legal operations, investors, and the environment from the black market.

The post Stemming the Cannabis Black Market appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.

High Folks: Cyo Nystrom Wants to Change The Way The World Feels About Vaginal Health

Vaginal health, weed, and sex are three of Cyo Nystrom’s favorite things. As one of the co-founders of Quim, “a self-care line for humans with vaginas and humans without vaginas who love vaginas,” Nystrom’s focus is disrupting western cultures archaic and patriarchal perception of women and their vaginas through cannabis. For years, Nystrom had been at war with her vagina because of constant UTI’s and yeast infections. When she started doing research and experimenting with different herbal remedies, she found out that herbs and oils like tea tree, damiana, apricot, and hemp could be used to calm unhappy vaginas.

“I started experiencing vaginal health issues when I was about seventeen,” shared Nystrom with High Times. “I got my first UTI the week after I lost my virginity. I [also] played competitive water polo in high school, so I spent a lot of time in a wet bathing suit.”  

The pain and inflammation of the UTI’s and yeast infection were worsened by the antibiotics—prescribed and over-the-counter—she used. The ingredients in the antibiotics created an endless cycle of infection because they were wiping her body clear of all the good bacteria that prevent vaginal pH disruption. Nystrom would use products like MONISTAT, but the formula was too drying and she would have to use a lube for added moisture.

“Am I being pubished by God for having premarital sex,” questioned Nystrom. Instead of waiting for the Universe to send her answers, she began doing her own research. She discovered that a lot of the lubes like KY use glycerin. When Glycerin, a byproduct of sugar, is used for fungal infections it feeds the bacteria, which causes more harm than good. Nystrom started exploring the weirdest corners of the internet and trying out different remedies like putting garlic and yogurt inside of her vagina to help alleviate inflammation and dryness.

“When I was back home from college, I got a pack of tea tree suppositories and it was the first thing that really worked for me,” said Nystrom. “I would put one in after sex, and [they were] really helping me. I wasn’t really able to find those ever again, so I just started making my own. And it was really helpful for me because I was able to go like 6 months without getting a yeast infection or a UTI. I was able to have sex without worrying about the inflammation afterwards because the tea tree in the suppositories would decrease any inflammation with it’s cooling effect.”

Between 2014 and 2015, Nystrom was given a bottle of a cannabis-infused lubricant. All the excitement about having a product that spoke to her three favorite things: vaginal health, weed, and sex, flew out the window when she saw that the product wasn’t vagina friendly. 

 “I opened it and was like ‘Oh my gosh, whoever designed this clearly doesn’t have a vagina!’. The spray bottle packaging wasn’t exactly what Nystrom was looking for. As someone who advocates for vaginal health, Nystrom says she has a problem with products that condition people with vaginas not to touch theirs. The products design didn’t encourage self-intimacy, so it took Nystrom awhile to get it to work. “ I felt like I was spraying my inner thigh and not my clit or vagina. But once I got the hang of it,  it was amazing. I had a mind-blowing orgasm, and I was a lot wetter than normal.”

Though Nystrom experienced mind-blowing results, the only ingredients in the lube were cannabis and MCT oil. She needed something more, so she began to make her own.“I had identified a lot of other ingredients that were super helpful in maintaining my vaginal health. And by that point, I was working in the cannabis industry, talking to different growers and suppliers, so I just started to try making my own stuff.”

A few years later, Quim was birthed. A 17th century British slang word, quim means vagina, vulva, or cunt. Nystrom says that she and her co-founder, Rachel Washtien, chose the name Quim because it speaks to the tradition of people taking back the words of their oppressors and re-empowering themselves by saying the word.

Quim is focused on helping facilitate conversations that address society’s fear of women, their bodies, and their sexuality. 

“Let’s have a conversation about why you think being called a pussy, quim, or cunt is a bad thing? [The vagina] is a life giving organ that expands and contracts based on different scenarios. It shouldn’t be offensive because there is nothing bad about it. It’s a really empowering and beautiful organ, and I think we need to challenge people to [change their perspective],” said Nystrom.

The post High Folks: Cyo Nystrom Wants to Change The Way The World Feels About Vaginal Health appeared first on High Times.

Trump Administration Officials Meet To Discuss Possible Ban On Flavored Vapes

Officials with the Trump administration said on Wednesday that the federal government would ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, according to media reports. Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Ned Sharpless, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, made the announcement with President Trump in the Oval Office Wednesday morning.

“The vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it, like a giant business in a very short period of time. But we can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” the president said.

“We’re going to have to do something about it,” he added.

Azar said that in the coming weeks the administration would announce a plan to remove most flavored e-cigarettes from the US market. Few details of the plan were revealed on Wednesday, but officials said that it may include a ban on menthol and mint-flavored e-cigarettes, which have been some of the most popular flavors for vaping products.

Administration Hopes Ban Will Protect Kids

Azar said in a statement that the administration was acting to protect the health of children.

“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools, and communities,” Azar said. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”

Azar also said that further action would be taken if it becomes apparent that kids are switching to other nicotine products after the ban on flavored vapes goes into effect.

“If we find that children start surging into tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes or if we find marketing practices that target children and try to attract them into tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, we will engage in enforcement actions there also,” Azar told reporters.

Earlier this week, Michigan became the first state in the US to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. California, Massachusetts, and New York are considering similar bans on flavored vapes. In San Francisco, where a ban on e-cigarette sales was passed earlier this year, vape manufacturer Juul is hoping to reverse the prohibition through a ballot initiative planned for November.

Lung Illnesses Spur Ban

Government action against e-cigarettes has been spurred by a spate of lung illnesses across the country that have been linked to vaping either nicotine, THC, or both. The Trump administration and the FDA have been under pressure to remove flavored vape products, which are seen as more attractive to children, from the US market. Earlier this week, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois warned that he would call for Acting FDA Commissioner Sharpless’ resignation if the agency did not take action to ban flavored products.

Over the past several weeks, hundreds of people have been taken ill with serious lung problems after vaping. At least six people have died, with the latest death being reported in Kansas on Tuesday.

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Space Case: Introducing The Alliance Of Historical Observatories

Before the dawning of the space age, observatories across the US worked diligently to gather all the information required to make space exploration possible in the first place. As technology advanced, a number of these valuable observatories fell behind in funding, and as a result, some of the country’s most important scientific institutions have been all but forgotten. In an effort to remedy that, a new organization called the Alliance of Historical Observatories is working to preserve and promote the importance of early observatories, with hopes that these valuable institutions will be able to sustain the recognition they so richly deserve.

In June, Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles hosted the fledgling group’s inaugural meeting inside the dome of Mount Wilson’s historic 100-inch telescope, a scientific marvel built between 1913-1916 that was the world’s largest telescope at the time. On hand at the first meeting of the Alliance of Historical Observatories were representatives from half a dozen observatories across the country, including the Yerkes Observatory, Lowell Observatory, Lick Observatory, Griffith Observatory, Palomar Observatory, and the Vatican Observatory in Arizona.

“The idea is to form a loose alliance that will explore ways in which we can support each other through shared promotion, lobbying, and other means to ensure that the remarkable legacy of these observatories is preserved for future generations, to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists,” wrote Sam Hale, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Mount Wilson Institute, in a letter published in the Mount Wilson’s quarterly newsletter, Reflections.

Sam Hale is the grandson of Mount Wilson’s founder, George Ellery Hale, who established Mount Wilson in 1904. In many ways, Mount Wilson was the perfect venue to host the premier meeting of the Alliance of Historical Observatories. Not only does it contain the 100-inch telescope, but it’s also home to another historic feature, the 60-inch telescope (completed in 1908), as well as the Snow solar telescope (1905), the 60 foot solar tower (1908), the 150 foot solar tower (1912), and Georgia State University’s CHARA array, which continues to conduct important scientific research today.

Space Case: Introducing The Alliance Of Historical Observatories
Astronomer George Ellery Hale on California’s Mount Wilson/ University of Chicago Photographic Archive [apf6-00264], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

“While many (including Mount Wilson) are still doing cutting edge astronomical research, they are all in need of public support to maintain their facilities and to extend public outreach programs for education,” Hale said. “Each Observatory represented is unique in its own history and level of public support. Some, like Griffith Observatory are well funded by private and government support, but others are not. For instance, Yerkes Observatory near Chicago (also founded by my grandfather George Ellery Hale) has recently been shuttered by the University of Chicago, and is searching for a way to reopen its doors. In many ways it is in the same situation Mount Wilson Observatory was in back in 1985 when the Carnegie Institute of Washington withdrew its support in order to devote its limited financial resources to building the next generation of big telescopes in Chile. Because the public cares about history, science, and education we are thriving and so will Yerkes.”

To attract public support, Mount Wilson Observatory hosts several monthly events, including Saturday evening talks as well as Sunday afternoon concerts in the dome. For $25 a pop, members of the public can even look through one of the observatory’s historic telescopes following the Saturday evening lectures. But as is often the case with aging scientific institutions, historic observatories like Mount Wilson can always do with more public support, and the Alliance of Historical Observatories is hoping to bring it in.

“We had a very productive meeting to explore ways in which we can help promote each other’s long-term success,” said Hale. “Each observatory will benefit from this interconnection. My grandfather foresaw the need to network on a grand scale, both nationally and internationally, to achieve his goals, and so shall we.”

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[UPDATED] Everything We Know So Far About The Recent Vape-Linked Deaths and Illnesses

Updated (9/11/2019 10:50 AM Pacific Standard Time)

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are joining a growing chorus of public officials tweeting and demanding action in response to the recent uptick in vape-linked illnesses and deaths. On Sept. 11, Trump announced his plan to hold a same-day policy discussion with federal health experts on how his administration can address the issue of e-cigarettes and vapes. So far, Trump has not made any decisions about possible steps or actions the federal government might take to help curb vape-linked sicknesses, according to an administration official who spoke with NBC News. 

Federal health authorities like the CDC have already issued advisories and reports on the unknown lung illnesses impacting people who vape. Around the country, state and municipal governments are moving to follow Michigan’s decision to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarette products. U.S. lawmakers are also demanding effective action. On Sept.10, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) urged the U.S. FDA to issue a recall on e-cigarettes.

Original (9/10/2019)

If all the recent news about vape-related deaths and illnesses has you casting suspicious glances at your cartridges and concentrates, you aren’t alone. Reports of hospitalizations due to vaping are surging around the United States, with 450 cases currently under investigation. Yet health officials have yet to pinpoint an exact cause of the illnesses and deaths. They also haven’t been able to link the illnesses to any specific product, as reports involve both cannabis and nicotine vapes. But we aren’t completely in the dark, either. So as this story continues to develop, here’s everything we know so far about the recent vape-linked deaths and illnesses.

Here’s What “Vape Lung” is Like, According to One Patient

Hopefully, you don’t know anyone and are not yourself someone who has experienced severe lung distress due to vaping cannabis or anything else. The experience is a miserable and long-lasting one. Just ask Jackie Gomez, a resident of Los Angeles who spent days in the hospital after developing what doctors diagnosed as necrotizing pneumonia. Gomez told High Times she thinks the DANK vape cartridges she had been consuming may be to blame.

Gomez says it started as a tickle in her throat. That tickle soon became irritation. Then the muscle soreness started, the loss of appetite, the coughing and the vomiting. When Gomez noticed her phlegm was dark brown and tasted putrid, she knew something was up and checked herself into an urgent care center. After a chest X-ray, Gomez ended up in the emergency room.

That was the start of a weeks-long stay in the hospital. Doctors tested Gomez for everything from TB to HIV to bacterial and viral infections. But even after a test of her lung tissue, doctors couldn’t come up with a conclusive result. In the end, it took Gomez a month of IV antibiotic treatments to fully recover from the lung infection. Her doctors still don’t know what could have caused such a severe illness.

Gomez says doctors and specialists regularly asked her about her smoking habits. But she says they never asked what she was smoking or how. The doctors seemed to assume it was a tobacco product, Gomez said. They never asked her directly about cannabis consumption.

Gomez’ experience was terrible. And she isn’t alone. But as in her case, health specialists are struggling to come up with answers for those suffering from vape-related illnesses.

Vape-Linked Lung Problems Hit the Midwest in August

Reports of vape-linked health issues began surfacing about a month ago, when 22 midwesterners were hospitalized for breathing problems linked to vaping. The incidents impacted vape consumers across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. But despite identifying patterns common to all the cases, doctors were unable to determine an exact reason or cause of the patients’ lung distress.

Many of the patients were young, and some were vaping both nicotine e-cigarettes and THC cartridges. One person, 26-year-old Dylan Nelson, was so sick after consuming an illicit THC cartridge that doctors placed him in a medically-induced coma.

Vape-Related Hospitalizations Surge in California, New York

Just days after the outbreak of vape-related lung illnesses in the midwest, California health officials issued a public warning after seven people fell ill with pneumonia-like symptoms after vaping. Some of the patients became so ill that they were placed in intensive care units and placed on breathing machines. Patients suffered from shallow and rapid breathing, low blood oxygen levels, low blood pressure, confusion and tiredness. And all seven of them had recently vaped THC and CBD oil cartridges obtained from unlicensed retailers.

Meanwhile, New York health officials began warning health care providers to be on the lookout for vape-linked pulmonary illness. At the time, the New York Department of Health was investigating 11 cases of lung problems linked to vape consumption. And it was those investigations that finally provided the first possible answer to the mysterious vape-linked illnesses.

New York Health Department Identifies Vitamin E Acetate as Potential Cause of Vaping Illnesses

On September 5, the New York Department of Health announced that it believed the vape-related illnesses across the state could be the result of people vaping vitamin E acetate. Lab analysis of the vape products that landed 11 New Yorkers in the hospital showed that nearly all contained very high levels of vitamin E acetate.

The discovery completely altered the focus of other ongoing investigations, shifting the spotlight to cannabis products, not e-cigarettes. “It is really starting to look like this is a cannabis vaping issue and that it may not have anything to do with e-cigarettes,” Boston University professor of public health Michael Siegel told USA Today. Those findings were then backed by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Vape-Lung” Fears Spread to Canada

In just a matter of weeks, more than 350 cases of “vape lung” had been reported across the United States. And it became increasingly clear that the handful of vape-linked deaths were likely caused by cannabis vaping products. The problem, however, was that no one could determine which products were causing the harm.

Most of the cases across the U.S. stemmed from THC vape cartridges obtained on the illicit market. This led many to assume that counterfeit or unregulated concentrates were to blame. But after officials in Oregon linked the death of one vape consumer to a cartridge purchased in a licensed dispensary, those assumptions went out the window. “At this point, we don’t really know what is safe,” said Dr. Ann Thomas, a pediatrician and public health physician in charge of Oregon’s incident management team.

In light of the rapidly spreading epidemic of cannabis vape-related illnesses, and the uncertainty over its cause, federal health officials in Canada issued a health advisory against vaping of any kind.

As of Today, Six U.S. Deaths Linked to Vaping Cannabis, Nicotine

By early September, the CDC-confirmed death toll from vaping had climbed to five people. The death in Oregon, however, has so far been the only fatality linked to a cannabis vape product. Still, all of the deaths resulted from severe lung illnesses and breathing difficulties likely caused by vaping. In each case, symptoms mirrored serious respiratory diseases like pneumonia. But experts still aren’t sure what the root cause is. It could be contaminants in illicit products, common ingredients, the concentrate or the device or cartridge itself.

Then, on September 10, the vaping-related death toll rose to six, with the passing of a resident of Kansas. Like the other cases, the Kansas death resulted from an unknown respiratory illness linked to vaping. We don’t know much about the patient who died in Kansas, except that the individual was over 50 years of age and had a history of health issues, according to a hospital statement. The day before, the American Medical Association issued a warning urging Americans to stop using any kind of vaping device or e-cigarette. It’s so far unclear what kind of product the patient in Kansas had consumed.

Also this week, a Texas high school student collapsed after hitting a vape pen containing cannabis. According to reports, the student passed out immediately after hitting the vape and was unresponsive. Emergency responders transported the Texas teenager to a local children’s hospital. Across the country, cases of vape-linked illnesses had surged to more than 450.

Regulators Aren’t Equipped to Handle Changing Concentrate Formulas

Prior to the popularization of vaping, cannabis had a track record of causing not one overdose death. On its own, cannabis is very safe. But now, cannabis products have claimed at least one life, even if THC isn’t to blame. Clearly, there’s something in the vape cartridges causing serious lung illnesses. And currently, experts’ best guess is that that something is vitamin E acetate.

Vitamin E acetate isn’t just in illicit vape cartridges, either. You’ll find it in certified cannabis products that have passed the tests regulators require. State agencies, like the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, have cleared vape products with vitamin E acetate for sale in licensed retail shops. Vitamin E acetate is a common additive in vaping liquids.

Furthermore, extract manufacturers regularly experiment with new concentrate formulas, trying out different diluents and thickeners. Regulators can barely keep up. There are even different versions of vitamin E acetate, and state agencies don’t really require testing for them. As a result, completely untested varieties of vitamin E acetate are ending up in cartridges on cannabis store shelves.

The Cannabis Industry Responds to Rash of Vape-Linked Illnesses and Deaths

Amid these growing fears that dangerous and deadly vape products are everywhere, some in the cannabis industry are taking action. In Portland, for example, Connoisseur Concentrates has stopped the sale of its signature “Clear Cut” line of concentrate diluent. Clear Cut, which dilutes viscous cannabis oils, contains vitamin E acetate, according to company owner Andrew Jones.

In Michigan, one cannabis business is following the governor’s lead in getting e-cigarette products out of consumers’ hands. Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer authorized a ban on all flavored e-cigarette products. But for those who had already purchased e-cigarette products, two cannabis companies came together to offer a potentially life-saving deal.

Greenhouse, a medical marijuana provisioning center in Walled Lake, and Platinum Vape, partnered to give away $50,000 in cannabis products. For five-days running from September 11 to 15, Greenhouse is running a promotion where people can bring in any nicotine vape product—even if it’s empty—and exchange it for CBD or THC products at no cost. Greenhouse only sells state-licensed and lab-tested cannabis products, including its THC vape pens. Michiganders without medical cannabis cards can also participate in the promotion. They’ll get CBD products for their nicotine trade-ins. “I think vaping THC or CBD is way better for you than nicotine,” said Greenhouse owner Jerry Millen.

Still No Definite Cause to Vape-Linked Lung Illnesses

Public health officials are getting closer, but right now there’s no definite cause to the increasing number of vape-linked illnesses. That’s why health experts across the United States and Canada are urging people to refrain from vaping, especially unregulated, untested products, until scientists can provide an answer.

For cannabis consumers like you, the best thing to do is make sure you know what you’re inhaling when you vape. Buy from licensed sellers who can show you verified lab test results of vaping products. Make sure you can tell what’s inside your vape pen. Avoid products with vitamin E acetate. As the tragic death in Oregon shows, this isn’t foolproof, but it will increase your chances of avoiding a trip to the hospital or worse.

The post [UPDATED] Everything We Know So Far About The Recent Vape-Linked Deaths and Illnesses appeared first on High Times.

The High Priestess: Working with Cannabis and Lunar Magick

While there are many misconceptions about witches, being obsessed with the moon is not one of them. Want to make a witch happy? Tell them you saw the Full Moon and thought of them. For a weed witch, the moon offers up an especially potent source of energy to connect with. While cannabis can help us access new parts of our spirit and subconscious mind, it is the Moon that acts as a guardian and doorway to this connection. 

Throughout history, the Moon has represented a bridge and a mirror to the subconscious and the intuitive, all knowing forces that reside within ourselves and in the universe at large. Historically, the moon has been tied to the feminine and receptive. She’s been personified and worshiped as the Great Mother, and her stages of waxing, waning, and full are reflected in the stages of the Triple Goddess through her archetypes of maiden, mother, and crone. Throughout her 28-day cycle, the Moon grows more and more luminous, from her waxing phase up through the Full Moon, until she eventually retires her light and settles back into her darkness, from the waning moon to the New Moon. In her cycles of wax and wane, she reminds us of our own cyclical nature; of our own ability to renew, release and become reborn. Cannabis can foster access to the medicine the Moon has to offer us, by allowing us to more easily step out of our rational mind and into the liminal where ritual and magick take place. 

We can work alongside the cycles of the moon to create a more powerful ritual practice, as well as to help bring our highs to new highs by combining the effects of each moon phase with cannabis.  After all, if the moon phases affect how your cannabis plant is growing, then wouldn’t it make sense that this would affect how you feel when you work with this plant medicine? Whether you’re looking for manifestation, creativity, protection, or healing, read on for your High Priestess guide to working with cannabis and lunar magick.

Ivory Woods

The New Moon

Work with cannabis to: Get present and set goals and intentions for the month ahead

The New Moon is the beginning of the Moon’s 28-day cycle. Here she is in her truth; there is no light from the sun being reflected on her surface, instead she is inky and black. She reflects our own darkness back at us, alongside the unknown. From the New Moon up until the Full Moon, the moon’s light grows, or waxes. Because of this, the New Moon is an excellent time to set intentions, to plant seeds in the soul and subconscious that you can water and nurture until the Full Moon. 

The New Moon, also known as the Dark Moon, is when we are more able to access our inner realms; the part of ourselves that is wild, feral, fierce, sexual, all consuming. This is the shadow; the stigmatized and often shamed parts of who we are- the proverbial cannabis plant of our souls. During the New Moon phase, we may be more connected to our intuition, the gut feeling you get nudging you in one direction or another. You may feel extra sensitive to cannabis, and like you want to spend time in solitude, reflecting and contemplating. The Dark Moon is like winter; it forces us to go inward. Honor this through communing with weed, by practicing ritual and by creating intentions for yourself.

Ritual for the New Moon: Creating declarations and affirmations of intention 

At this time of the month, take time to sit with yourself. You may wish to smoke, vape, or dab before this, setting yourself up for meditation, either taking a seat or lying down. Focus your gaze inward, asking yourself what feels true in your soul at this moment, what the darkness and presence are speaking to you of. Think of the month ahead; we are in Virgo season, and on September 23rd we officially enter fall. Take this to create an intention for yourself for cycle. 

When you’re finished meditating, get a piece of paper and a pen and write this intention down in present tense. Starting with “I am” is always a good choice. For example, my current declaration is “I am stepping into my fullest power, with grace, purpose, presence and prosperity.” Your intention may be about healing, healthy habits, connecting to your intuition, adopting an abundance mindset, or whatever else is resonating with you at this time. I also write weekly mantras on my Instagram if you need more inspiration. 

Once you’ve written this down, hang it up! Tape it on your bathroom mirror, your fridge or your computer; the key is somewhere you’ll see it often. You may even want to place a copy of this declaration on your joint tray or in your stash box; so next time you work with cannabis you’re reminded of your power! If you can, commit to saying this to yourself aloud three times each day up until the Full Moon. On the Full Moon, check back in and see how this intention resonates and feels. 

Ivory Woods

The Waxing Moon

Work with cannabis to: Unlock your creativity, find the confidence to try something new, see things in a new perspective 

Our intentions our set and our hearts are aligned. Now, as the light of the Moon grows, we too focus on what we want to tend to and nurture. The Waxing Moon is a beautiful opportunity for us to honor ourselves and the commitments we made. This is when we get to see the seeds begin to germinate, how we feel during the new stages of a crush, or that moment when you first realize you’re stoned. This is a transition into something even better than we can dream and the part of the cycle when we’re able to redirect course if needed, adapting so we can stay on route.

This moon phase is an excellent time to try something new; to go on a first date, to try a new edible or strain of weed, to practice a new meditation or take a class. The keyword is growth and evolution! This is when we really get to commit to what we want to cultivate; whether that’s something new, or something we want to keep on caring for. During this moon phase, you may feel a more inspired or artistic high, urging you to reframe things in new perspectives. 

Ritual for the Waxing Moon: Collage with a sigil

You can work with the cannabis plant to help you unleash the flurry of creativity this moon phase offers, and by collaging and working with sigils- or magical symbols charged with an intention- you can carry out your declaration from the New Moon while creating a visual representation of this. You’ll need collage supplies; paper, glue, old magazines or books, a glue stick or tape. And your cannabis of choice! 

Take some time to gather your supplies and whatever method of cannabis consumption you decided on. Turn your phone on silent, put on some ambient music, light any candles or incense. Then, find a comfortable seat and take a moment to close your eyes and breathe. Come back to the intention you set at the New Moon. Think about what this means to you and how its evolved, if at all. When you’re ready, open your eyes. Now is the time to work with your weed of choice, so consume this as you see fit, and then start to collage around your New Moon intention. You may wish to write this intention out, or you can use images, art and color to express your intention instead. You can incorporate magick sigils into this, either into the art or on the back of your page. To write your own sigils you will:

  1. Take your statement of intention and write it down. For example “I AM MAGICK”
  2. Then you cross out all repeating letters and vowels which would leave you with “MGCK”
  3. You would take these remaining letters and create a symbol out of them by overlapping them, combining them, and arranging them. This isn’t supposed to look like letters, but a weird symbol your subconscious can bury and attach your intention to.

Once you’re done creating your sigil, you can draw it into your collage or draw it on the back, taking a hit or edible to celebrate your hard work. You may also wish to charge or send this sigil energy by dancing, chanting, exercising, or the witches’ favorite- masturbating. As you get to the peak of this energy raising, send your sigil and intention energy through your mind’s eye. When you’re finished, hang up your collage somewhere you’ll see it often! 

Ivory Woods

The Full Moon 

Work with cannabis to: Tap into your intuition, own your fullest power, believe in your own magick

The energetic climax of the month, the Full Moon is like a cosmic battery we can use to fuel any and all of our magick (though banishing is best saved for the Waning Moon.) At the peak of her power, this luminary body represents our fullest potential. With the light of the sun reflecting on her, the Full Moon acts as a portal, illuminating our magick and granting us easier access to her ethereal power. This is when our intuitive and psychic senses are on high, when we may be granted with prophetic dreams, see repeating numbers, or feel things more clearly. The Full Moon is the height of the 28-day cycle of the moon, and a time when things come to completion as well. This is when we can see how our intentions held up and when we can bask in and celebrate what we’ve accomplished. 

The Full Moon is like the energetic equivalent of a great high; it’s lifting us up, connecting us to the unseen, allowing us to be present with different layers of reality. The Full Moon strips away the illusion that everything is what it seems. Like cannabis, she allows us to shift our perception to see the familiar truth- that we are creatures of the earth, that we’re cyclical, that we’re also all just energy vibrating. With this, both weed and the moon offer us the opportunity to find joy in this state of the ephemeral- as we exist in this tween state, we can grab the golden thread of magick and weave something out of it. 

Whether you’re practicing sex magick, connecting to the elements, manifesting, practicing rituals of self-care or going out and dancing with your friends, the Full Moon is the perfect time to do it big. Some may prefer to go out, be seen, and enjoy the heightened energy of this time. Others may prefer to stay in, smoke, and practice rituals and magick with themselves or their coven. There’s no right or wrong way! But if you’re looking to infuse your Full Moon with some weed magick, then you may wish to puff, puff, meditate. 

Ritual for the Full Moon : Meditate with cannabis and charge it under the moon

There are two steps to this ritual, and they can be done in either order. We have a Full Moon in Pisces on September 13th, and this is the perfect time to do this ritual, though any Full Moon works. 

Step 1-  Charge your cannabis or bong water under the moonlight! 

Since you can charge talismans and crystals under the light of the Full moon, to clear and cleanse their energy, who’s to say you can’t charge your cannabis? Although this will work best with flower, you can charge whatever you want under the Full Moon, including water to use with your bong. Plan to leave this out for at least a few hours the night before or the night of the Full Moon, either outside or on a windowsill or somewhere similar inside. You can leave a jar or baggie of bud, and a bowl or jar of water, asking that the Moon clear and rid this of any unnecessary energy, and bless it with all its love, healing, magick and abundance. You may wish to mark the day and sign of this Full Moon for future reference as well.

Use this blessed bud to meditate with, (though you can also meditate and then bless your weed), for sex magick, cooking or in ritual settings (like any of the other activities written in this guide) to infuse some moon energy into your life. You can also dedicate this weed solely to ritual or magical use as well. Use your blessed bong water for a balanced high, and sprinkle the water in the corners of your home (before you place it in your bong) to help you energetically cleanse your space. 

Step 2- Meditate 

You may wish to read through this a few times to get familiar with it. You can also record yourself reading it as a guided meditation. 

Take your cannabis and find a comfortable seat, either sitting up or laying down. Take a moment to breathe and find some presence, allowing any worries or thoughts about the day to fall away. Take a few hits of weed (if you’re eating an edible, do this an hour before you begin to meditate,) and as you do so, ask for connection to this herb. Ask for the spirit to hold you, to guide you, to share it’s wisdom with you. Thank it and find gratitude in your heart for it. 

When you’re ready to begin to meditate, close your eyes. You’ll start to practice the threefold breath- inhaling, exhaling and holding. Try this for four seconds for each part of the breath, increasing to five or six seconds as you can. As you exhale and hold, feel your breath and body ringing out your lungs and organs of any toxins. Continue to breathe into this as you visualize white light cleansing every part of your body. You relax more and more, and start to feel the boundaries of your body dissolve. Now ask that the spirit of the cannabis plant to make itself known to you. Notice any colors, feelings, sensations, or noises. Don’t force this, and know that even if nothing comes up you can always try again, and that the meditation is still working. 

Once you feel this connection to the cannabis plant, ask that it guides you in connecting to your higher self. The Full Moon helps to make this easier, acting as an ethereal conduit to this evolved version of yourself. As you continue to ask the cannabis spirit to help you connect to your higher self, you may visualize the crown of your head opening like a door, inviting in messages from the cosmos. Give yourself permission to receive your own divine wisdom and feel into all of your senses as you ask for this connection. Allow this to come to you through colors, smells, feelings, visions, tastes and intuitive inklings. 

You may ask yourself, or the cannabis plant, for whatever guidance or wisdom you need. When you’re ready to finish the meditation, thank the plant spirit and your higher self for their support and wisdom. Then, visualize the door at the crown of your head shutting, and slowly move your fingers, and open your eyes! 

Ivory Woods

The Waning Moon 

Work with cannabis to: Release what you no longer need, relax, and heal 

Between the Full Moon and the New Moon, as the light of the moon grows smaller or wanes, we too focus on what we want to release and banish. While the Waxing Moon is a great time to try something new, the Waning Moon is a beautiful chance to let some shit go! This is when we get to see what habits, patterns, and situations are keeping us from accomplishing our intentions. This is when we can banish and burn away, and when we can protect and bless.

We planted the seeds on the New Moon, tended to the garden on the Waxing Moon, bloomed during the Full Moon and now during the Waning Moon, we get to enjoy our harvest, pick our bounty, and eat it. This is a time of release, and we can work with cannabis as a way to surrender and soften into this. While we may have found the waxing and full phases to be outwardly celebratory, the Waning Moon is the equivalent of Fall, when we’re ready for cuffing season or in the mood to stay home by ourselves to get our shit in order. This is a time to be both compassionate and firm with ourselves; what’s working and what isn’t? Take the time to look back at the intention you set during the New Moon; take stock of what’s been working and what hasn’t and then act accordingly. This is a wonderful time to work with CBD in all its forms, a chance for us to find our center before we begin a new cycle on the New Moon.

Ritual for the Waning Moon: Protection bath with cascarilla and mullein 

This ritual is simple; you’ll be creating a ritual bath for yourself for protection and energetic cleansing. This is a good way to shed any baggage from the past month, and to protect yourself as you continue turning inward through the Dark Moon. 

You’ll be working with cannabis as a way to either relax deeper into this ritual, by smoking it, or as an ingredient in your bath by adding CBD and THC infused bath salts.  For the bath itself, you can use any or all of the following protective herbs. Keep in mind you don’t need much of each herb; a couple of pinches is enough. You may also wish to add herbs like lavender for healing and rose for love as a way to add a stronger scent as well. Keep in mind, if you’re using herbs it’s best to use organic herbs if you’re going to be soaking in them.

  • Epsom Salt- though it’s not an herb, salt is one of the smallest natural crystals and absorbs negative energy. Epsom salt helps to relax muscles, ground, and soothe the energetic body.
  • Cascarilla- Powdered eggshell used to banish and protect. You can buy this at your local metaphysical shop or botanica.  
  • Mullein- Associated with the element of fire, mullein is fiercely protective and can be used to help cleanse your system of any negative energy. 
  • Bay Leaf- Both healing and protective, Bay Leaf is classically used in banishing rituals to remove unwanted energies and creative a protective boundary.
  • Mugwort- ruled by the Moon, Mugwort is an herb of psychic visions and protection. Use it to connect with your intuition and the energy of the moon as you release and realign.

Before you begin, gather all your supplies, including your cannabis, and run the bath. As the bath runs, take a moment to meditate. Breathe into your body, and as you exhale, release anything you’ve been clinging to. Get present in the moment and ask yourself what you need to shed and let go of. You may like to set this as an intention for your bath. Stay here as long as you need, releasing this more and more with each exhale. When you’re finished meditating, you can open your eyes and start to prepare your bath.

Once the bath is almost full, add the Epsom salts. Once the bath is done running, you may add pinches of your herbs. Make sure that you have your cannabis near you ( ‘cause you’ll be smoking in the bath), and once the temperature is okay, step into the tub. Settle into the water as you allow the bath to absorb whatever it is you’re shedding. Consciously declare to yourself that you’re releasing this. Yes, you will have to follow this up with action in real life, but for now, let the water wash this away.

Ivory Woods

Once you’re ready, smoke your cannabis, allowing this herb to also work its protective and healing magick on you. Know that you’re guided and protected, even sitting in the tub. When you’re finished with this ritual, thank the herbs and yourself, drain the tub, and voila! You’re done.
Wait until the next day, when the herbs are dry, to clean the bath for easier pick up. You may also wish to check back in with your New Moon intention at this time to see how that manifested as well. 

No matter how you celebrate the cycles of the Moon, cannabis may help you do so with more ease! So mote it be! 

The post The High Priestess: Working with Cannabis and Lunar Magick appeared first on High Times.

Agilent Partners with LSSU on Cannabis Chemistry & Research

Back in August, Lake Superior State University (LSSU) announced the formation of a strategic partnership with Agilent Technologies to “facilitate education and research in cannabis chemistry and analysis.” The university formed the LSSU Cannabis Center of Excellence (CoE), which is sponsored by Agilent. The facility, powered by top-of-the-line Agilent instrumentation, is designed for research and education in cannabis science, according to a press release.

Chemistry student, Justin Blalock, calibrates an Agilent 1290 Ultra-High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph with a 6470 Tandem Mass Spectrometer in the new LSSU Cannabis Center of Excellence, Sponsored by Agilent.

The LSSU Cannabis CoE will help train undergraduate students in the field of cannabis science and analytical chemistry. “The focus of the new LSSU Cannabis CoE will be training undergraduate students as job-ready chemists, experienced in multi-million-dollar instrumentation and modern techniques,” reads the press release. “Students will be using Agilent’s preeminent scientific instruments in their coursework and in faculty-mentored undergraduate research.”

The facility has over $2 million dollars of Agilent instruments including their UHPLC-MS/MS, UHPLC-TOF, GC-MS/MS, LC-DAD, GC/MS, GC-FID/ECD, ICP-MS and MP-AES. Those instruments are housed in a 2600 square-foot facility in the Crawford Hall of Science. In February earlier this year, LSSU launched the very first program for undergraduate students focused completely on cannabis chemistry. With the new facility and all the technology that comes with it, they hope to develop a leading training center for chemists in the cannabis space.

Dr. Steve Johnson, Dean of the College of Science and the Environment at LSSU, says making this kind of instrumentation available to undergraduate studies is a game changer. “The LSSU Cannabis Center of Excellence, Sponsored by Agilent was created to provide a platform for our students to be at the forefront of the cannabis analytics industry,” says Dr. Johnson. “The instrumentation available is rarely paralleled at other undergraduate institutions. The focus of the cannabis program is to provide our graduates with the analytical skills necessary to move successfully into the cannabis industry.”

Storm Shriver is the Laboratory Director at Unitech Laboratories, a cannabis testing lab in Michigan, and sounds eager to work with students in the program. “I was very excited to learn about your degree offerings as there is a definite shortage of chemists who have experience with data analysis and operation of the analytical equipment required for the analysis of cannabis,” says Shriver. “I am running into this now as I begin hiring and scouting for qualified individuals. I am definitely interested in a summer internship program with my laboratory.”

LSSU hopes the new facility and program will help lead the way for more innovation in cannabis science and research. For more information, visit LSSU.edu.

The post Agilent Partners with LSSU on Cannabis Chemistry & Research appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.