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Cover photo by Ace Kisch

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It was a tumultuous year during which marijuana peaked at the polls and the Republicans took back the White House. This duality has left cannabis activists and industry professionals wondering what will happen next. Our lives as marijuana users, advocates and businesspeople all hang in the balance. In this final Freedom Leaf issue of 2016, we pay tribute to the women of cannabis. We did the same last year, when Whoopi Goldberg appeared on our cover. What has changed for women in cannabis in the last year? Women Grow CEO Leah Heise says: “I think things are improving. While we continue to battle inappropriate use of the female form in marketing and branding, female business leaders are banding together to successfully fight derogatory advertising.” The point is well taken. In November, at an afterparty during the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, a horizontal female model was used as a serving tray for cold cuts. This set off a round of furious comments directed at party sponsors Altai and Dixie Brands. Apologies were made, but the damage was done. The cannabis community is increasingly inclusive and, despite the male dominance of previous eras, many women have staked their claim in recent years. Such displays at industry events show that there is much more work to be done to prevent women from being objectified in our industry. One of FL’s Women of the Year, Joy Beckerman-Maher, puts it succinctly: “I pity the fools that think sexual exploitation will win them any favor.” At Freedom Leaf, we’re proud to feature many female voices in the magazine. Starting with the September issue (No. 18), we handed over the news sec-



Happy Holidays from Freedom Leaf!

News Editor Mona Zhang with Steve Bloom at Women Grow holiday party in New York.

tion to Mona Zhang, who produces the daily Word On The Tree email newsletter. Cheri Sicard has been our regular canna-food columnist since Issue 4. Erin Hiatt has been seeking out cool hemp products for her column since Issue 15. The DPA’s Amanda Reiman has been writing for FL since Issue 12, when she reported from Uruguay. Madison Margolin took us on a trip to Israel in Issue 20, and Beth Mann’s column has been providing laughs since the magazine began in late 2014. I thank all for their contributions, and for making Freedom Leaf an inclusive voice for everyone in the cannabis world. I’d like to also thank the other members of the Freedom Leaf team, both staffers and contributors, who’ve helped make our magazine a must-read during its first two years of publication. Happy holidays to all, and to all a good joint.

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom Editor-in-Chief



FOUNDERS Richard C. Cowan & Clifford J. Perry

PUBLISHER & CEO Clifford J. Perry









CONTRIBUTORS: Erik Altieri, Ngaio Bealum, Russ Belville, Matt Chelsea, Erica Daniels, John Fortunato, Frances Fu, Chris Goldstein, Erin Hiatt, Leah Heise, Norm Kent, Mitch Mandell, Beth Mann, Madison Margolin, Rick Pfrommer, David Rheins, Cheri Sicard, Mia Di Stefano, Roy Trakin, Neal Warner Copyright © 2016 by Freedom Leaf Inc. All rights reserved. Freedom Leaf Inc. assumes no liability for any claims or representations contained in this magazine. Reproduction, in whole or in part, without permission is prohibited.

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Cannabis legalization supporter Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (left) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (right).

Rep. Rohrabacher Defends Sessions as Activists Meet AG Pick’s Staff President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R–AL) as Attorney General is worrisome to many supporters of cannabis legalization, despite Trump’s campaign promise to not interfere with state marijuana laws. While some activists and cannabis professionals are hopeful due to Trump’s campaign statements supporting states’ rights, most have criticized Sessions’ public stance against cannabis and criminal justice reform. He’s said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and once joked that the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D–OR), who has been a vocal champion of the issue in Congress, says the thought of Attorney General Sessions is “deeply disturbing,” and is advocating for the Senate to reject his nomination. However, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R–CA), also a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization in Congress, has been optimistic about state-legal cannabis under Sessions. He’s the first sitting


member of congress to admit to using medical marijuana while in office, and is co-sponsor of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which protects state-level medical marijuana programs from federal interference. “I’m certain that Jeff Sessions, being a man of high integrity, will not be undermining his president’s position and [will] be enforcing what Trump wants, rather than what Sessions has done in the past,” Rohrabacher stated. In another twist, Sessions’ staff met with activists from the Washington, D.C. Cannabis Campaign on Nov. 28. They were unexpectedly welcomed into his Capitol office after insinuating that they might engage in what they called a “smoke sessions” civil disobedience action. “We had to pretend we might smoke marijuana in your office to get your attention,” campaign co-founder Adam Eidinger admitted. Rather than call security, Session’s communications director, Chris Jackson, told them, “You’re being legitimate. We appreciate that.” Sessions’ staff listened to the activists’ concerns over the senator’s anti-cannabis comments. “Don’t think we will not be having this conversation with him,” Jackson promised. “You’ve made yourselves known, so this is something we’re going to have to talk to him about.”

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Maine Recount Roils Supporters of Question 1 In Colorado: MJ Measure Passes in Denver, Pueblo Rejects Repeal Three closely watched city-level Election Day ballot initiatives resulted in good news for the Colorado marijuana industry, mirroring the pro-cannabis results of state-level initiatives around the country. In Denver, Initiative 300 passed with more than 53% of the vote. The measure creates a four-year pilot program for “consumption areas” in local bars and restaurants, and sets up a task force to study the impacts of such a program. Smoking cannabis will be treated like tobacco, and has to take place outdoors; indoor vaping is permitted. Businesses must show that they have the support of the community to apply for a permit. The measure is a fix for visiting tourists and some local residents who have few options for cannabis consumption. On Nov. 18, state officials announced some restrictions on the initiative: Any business that holds a liquor license will be barred from applying for the socialuse permit. This rules out bars, many restaurants and event spaces that serve alcohol. “This doesn’t completely hinder the entire law,” says MPP Director of Communications Mason Tvert, who worked on the campaign. Art galleries, cafes and yoga studios are just some of the businesses that can still apply. In Pueblo, the city’s lax restrictions on the state’s legalization law prompted a backlash from pot opponents, who sponsored two anti-marijuana measures— Issue 200 and Issue 300—that would have repealed retail sales in both the city and Pueblo County. Voters rejected both.

Opponents of Maine’s Question 1 requested a recount after the adult-use initiative passed by just 2,620 votes on Nov. 8. The recount, which will cost $500,000 (the state covers all costs if the winning margin is less than 1.5%), began on Dec. 5, and could take as long as six weeks. Unless the recount determines that Question 1 did not win, it will be legal for adults over 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis on Jan. 8. While the measure also legalizes retail sales, it could take at least a year for the state to set up its adult-use market. While the fight for legalization in Maine has drawn less interest than larger cannabis markets like Massachusetts and California, it’s an important milestone for a region that lacked any adultuse states prior to the election. “The Maine market is extremely exciting because they’ve done a very good job developing their medical marijuana market,” says Leslie Bocskor, President of cannabis consulting firm Electrum Partners. The medical marijuana program in Maine has avoided many of the pitfalls of similar programs in other states, he adds. A recount that changes the outcome of the election in Maine would be an unexpected and highly unusual event, which advocates were quick to point out. “There’s no evidence that a recount will change the result of Question 1,” says Yes on 1 Campaign Manager David Boyer. “That’s a half-million taxpayer dollars that should be spent on heating homes and funding schools.”

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Massachusetts Pols Plot Ways to Delay Pot Legalization

Herbert Slatery

On Nov. 8, Massachusetts and Maine became the first states in the Northeast to legalize adult-use cannabis. In Massachusetts, 53.6% of voters approved Question 4, despite widespread opposition from local politicians. But now, lawmakers are taking issue with several aspects of the measure. Backroom discussions between lawmakers may lead to a delay in starting dates for both home growing and legal retail sales. While legislators and officials say that they’ll respect the will of the voters, advocates are dismayed that they’re trying to change the law. “I don’t understand why the legislature wouldn’t just let the regulators tackle the issues of legalization and then, with regulators’ advice, make any changes later,” says Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for Question 4. State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg has repeatedly pushed back against the timeline in the measure, citing the January 2018 deadline for opening dispensaries as unrealistic. But the Yes on 4 campaign points out that legalization in Colorado followed the same timeline. Goldberg is also opposed to the low 3.75% excise tax, which is intended to cut into the black market, and believes home growing will reduce state revenues. These efforts to chip away at the initiative were not unexpected. “After Nov. 8 is when the real work begins,” maintains Question 4 Campaign Manager Will Luzier. “We need to protect the initiative. However, with legislation passed by the people, the legislature can change it at any time.”


Decrim Measures in Tennessee Cities Challenged Trouble is brewing in Tennessee, where city councils in Nashville and Memphis recently passed marijuana decriminalization measures. While these measures still give police too much discretion (see Freedom Leaf Issue 19), they at least showed a willingness to lessen penalties in a Bible Belt state. But on Nov. 16, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery stated that the ordinances passed by both cities are unenforceable due to conflict with state law. However, Nashville has refused to back down, and is adhering to its decriminalization ordinance, passed Sept. 20. “We’ve reviewed the Attorney General’s opinion and understand his position,” stated Nashville Department of Law Director Jon Cooper. “However, we believe we have a good-faith legal argument that the ordinance is not preempted by state law.” On the other hand, officials in Memphis quickly bowed to state pressure. In a press release, they noted: “We’ve received the Attorney General’s opinion on the marijuana ordinance, and are in the process of reviewing it to determine how we will move forward. For now, we’re suspending enforcement of the city ordinance.” City Council member Berlin Boyd takes issue with that decision: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s still the law in the eyes of the City of Memphis, because we passed an ordinance, and that means the ordinance is law.”

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Talk about cool schools: Temple University in Philadelphia recently announced that it will be offering a marijuana-focused communications class next semester. Journalism Professor Linn Washington and former Freedom Leaf Senior Editor Chris Goldstein are teaming up to teach the class. It’s well-known activist Goldstein’s first foray as an instructor. “I’ve spent half of my time as an advocate training, journalists how to report the issue,” he tells Freedom Leaf. “That’s why it’s important to me to teach this at the journalism school.” Mainly intended for journalism students, the course will also be open to others aspiring to go into business or public policy communications. “I expect cannabis to be a big part of the future of academia,” adds Goldstein. “You’re seeing colleges and universities across the country looking to explore the subject. You could dedicate a whole department to the issue.” Indeed, college students at several universities can now study cannabis as they pursue their degrees. The University of Denver offers a similar journalism course for covering and reporting on marijuana, and Boston University has a Marijuana in American History course. Law students at Hofstra University can study business law that focuses on state-legal cannabis companies. Institutions of higher education are also dipping theirtoes into marijuana research: Thomas Jefferson University


Canna-Class Announced at Temple University

“I expect cannabis to be a big part of the future of academia.”

– Chris Goldstein in Philadelphia opened the Center for Medical Cannabis Education & Research earlier this year; Colorado has given research grants to several universities to study medical marijuana; and Connecticut has encouraged universities to apply to its medical cannabis research programs. Mona Zhang publishes the daily cannabis newsletter Word On The Tree. Subscribe to WOTT at

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2016: The Year Legalization Went Legit By Paul Armentano Marijuana reformers made history at the ballot box on Election Day, following a banner year in statehouses across the nation. In 2016, lawmakers in 24 states approved more than 30 pieces of marijuana policy reform legislation, and on Nov. 8, voters in eight states decided in favor of marijuana law changes. Here are the highlights.

Adult-Use Legalization • California: Fifty-six percent of California voters approved Prop 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. The statewide ballot measure permits adults to grow up to six plants and possess up to one ounce of flowers and up to eight grams of concentrates—effective immediately—and legalizes licensed commercial cannabis production and retail sales. It reduces numerous marijuana-related activities from felonies to misdemeanors, while also providing for resentencing consideration for those previously convicted of marijuana offenses. Adult-use sales are expected to begin on Jan. 1, 2018. • Maine: No Election Day race was

closer than the battle over Question 1, the Maine Legalization Act. Election officials declared the measure victorious by just 2,620 votes. Mainers will be allowed to possess up to two and one-half


ounces and cultivate up to six flowering plants (and 12 immature plants) on Jan. 8, 2017. Regulations for retail and cultivation businesses are anticipated to be in place by Aug. 8, 2017.

• Massachusetts: Fifty-four percent of Massachusetts voters backed Question 4, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, which, despite its name, imposes the lowest excise tax (3.75%) on retail marijuana sales in the nation. The law, which takes effect Dec. 15, permits adults to grow up to six plants and possess up to 10 ounces of flowers and up to five grams of concentrates. Regulators are scheduled to begin accepting applications for commercial cultivation and retail businesses on Oct. 1, 2017. • Nevada: Fifty-five percent of Silver

State voters endorsed Question 2, the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana. The measure authorizes adults to legally grow up to six plants if they live more than 25 miles from the nearest cannabis retailer, and to possess up to one ounce of flowers and up to 3.5 grams of concentrates procured from state-licensed retailers. The new law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2017. Regulations governing commercial marijuana activities must be in place by Jan. 1, 2018.

Medical Marijuana Legalization • Arkansas: Former DEA head Asa Hutchinson is not amused. Fifty-three percent of Arkansas voters said no to Governor Hutchinson’s efforts to thwart Issue 6, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. The new law, which took effect Nov. 9, amends the state constitution. It permits qualified patients who possess a physician’s recommendation to legally obtain and possess medical cannabis provided by state-licensed dispensaries; home cultivation is not permitted. State regulators will begin accepting applications from dispensary providers by June 1, 2017.

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Medical only Legal adult-use and medical

• Connecticut: Lawmakers approved

legislation in May that expanded the state’s medical cannabis program. House Bill 5450, which took effect in October, provides access for patients under 18 years of age, as well as patients with seizure disorders, spinal cord injuries, cystic fibrosis and cerebral palsy. The new law also paves the way for hospitals to legally administer cannabis to patients.

• Florida: The second time around

proved to be the charm in the Sunshine State. After voters narrowly rejected medicinal cannabis in 2014, 71% of Floridians supported Amendment 2, the Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions Initiative, in 2016, which makes access a constitutional right under state law for those with a qualifying illness and a doctor’s recommendation. Under the measure, patients must obtain a state-issued identification card in order to purchase products from state-licensed dispensaries; home growing is not allowed. Health officials are required to begin issuing cards and dispensary licenses on Aug. 8, 2017.


• Louisiana: In May, Governor Jon Bel Edwards signed Senate Bill 272, which resurrected the state’s dormant medical cannabis program. Under the new legislation, doctors are now permitted to recommend (rather than “prescribe”) cannabis to qualifying patients. Under separate legislation passed in 2015, regulators are required to license 10 pharmacies in the state to provide non-smokeable cannabis products to registered patients. Health officials have yet to approve any in-state manufacturers. • Michigan: After years of legal uncer-

tainty, medical marijuana dispensaries have finally been recognized under new state laws signed by Governor Rick Snyder in September. The bills license and regulate medicinal cannabis providers, and also define cannabis extracts and edible products as non-contraband.

• Montana: Fifty-seven percent of Treasure State voters bucked lawmakers by approving I-182, the Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative. The new law restores many aspects of the state’s 12-year-old medical marijuana program, which was gutted by the state legislature in 2011. It expands the list of qualifying conditions, establishes licensing procedures for dis-

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pensaries and testing facilities, authorizes caregivers to serve multiple patients and allows providers to hire employees to cultivate, dispense and transport medical marijuana. The law takes effect on June 30, 2017.

• Ohio: Governor John Kasich made it

clear during the presidential campaign that he’s no fan of medical marijuana. Nonetheless, in June, he signed House 523, which establishes regulations for the state-licensed production and dispensing of cannabis and cannabis-infused products to qualifying patients. Although the program is not anticipated to be fully operational until early 2018, the law provides some legal protections for qualifying patients who acquire cannabis from alternative sources.

• North Dakota: Sixty-four percent

of voters passed Measure 5, the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The law, which will take effect 90 days after election officials certify the results, permits qualified patients to obtain medical cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries. Patients or caregivers who live 40 miles or more from the nearest dispensary will be permitted to cultivate up to eight plants at home.

(House Bill 2462) in May. The law, which took effect immediately, reduces criminal first-time marijuana possession offenses from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor.

• Illinois: For the second straight year, Prairie State lawmakers sent marijuana decriminalization legislation to the desk of Governor Bruce Rauner, who signed it in July. The new law changes minor marijuana possession offenses (up to 10 grams) from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil fine of no more than $200. • Ohio: The Buckeye State’s longstanding “Smoke a joint, lose your license” law is no more. In May, legislators voted overwhelmingly to repeal the law, which penalized minor drug offenders with a mandatory driver’s license suspension. Senate Bill 204 took effect in September.

Municipal Reforms

Penalty Reduction

On Nov. 8, Denver voters approved I-300 by a narrow margin. The Neighborhood Approved Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program allows adults to consume marijuana in participating bars and lounges. In Florida, Orlando and Tampa enacted ordinances that permit police to cite and fine minor marijuana offenders instead of making arrests. In Tennessee, Memphis and Nashville passed similar ordinances; however, state Attorney General Herbert Slattery has contended that the measures are preempted by state law, placing them in legal limbo. In Michigan, East Lansing repealed all criminal and civil penalties associated with the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. Finally, in Ohio, four cities—Newark, Bellaire, Logan and Roseville—approved local ballot measures that eliminated penalties for offenses involving 200 grams or less of marijuana.

• Kansas: While marijuana possession remains illegal in Kansas, penalties for violating the law became a bit less punitive when Governor Sam Brownback signed sentencing reform legislation

Paul Armentano is Deputy Director of NORML and Freedom Leaf’s Senior Policy Advisor, and the author of The Citizen’s Guide to State-by-State Marijuana Laws.

• Pennsylvania: After years of debate, Keystone State lawmakers gave final approval in April to Senate Bill 3, which regulates the cultivation and distribution of medical cannabis and related products. Under the legislation, state regulators may license up to 25 cultivators and processors, and up to 150 dispensaries where qualified patients can purchase non-smokeable products. The program is expected to be operational by early 2018.


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2016: A Year of Change for Women Grow By Leah Heise From terrorism abroad and at home, to massive fires and floods, to the election of Donald Trump, people are calling 2016 the worst year ever. It was, however, a great year in cannabis history, culminating in the November election where cannabis measures won in all but one state. Women in cannabis made great strides in securing leadership roles and opening new businesses in 2016. Here are a few examples: Gail Rand, Chief Financial Officer of Forward Grow, in Maryland, was awarded a state license to grow medical cannabis; Women Grow founding member Christi Lunsford was hired as chief operating officer of Pro Max Grow; and Stormy Simon, ex-president of Overstock, left the e-commerce industry to focus on the cannabis industry. For Women Grow, 2016 was a time of a change. In July, founders Jazmin Women Grow co-founders Jazmin Hupp and Jane West.

Hupp and Jane West stepped down and handed the reins of the company to me. The last few months have been an absolute whirlwind. While Women Grow is a limited liability company that’s just two years old, we’re experiencing hypergrowth. My focus in the last five months has been on auditing company operations; moving the limited liability company from Colorado to Delaware; developing a strategic business plan for stabilization and expansion; and ensuring compliance with local and federal law. I’m confident that 2017 will be Women Grow’s best year ever. On Jan. 1, we will debut our new leader program, redesigned with an eye toward revamping our current chapter program; applications to become a leader are available on our website. On Feb. 1–3, we will be hosting our third annual Leadership Summit in Denver. Last year, more than 1,200 women and men joined us for three days of lightning talks, inspiration and community. This year, we expect an even bigger crowd. Additionally, we will be creating more robust member benefits, and have partnered with many industry leaders to provide discounts to our members and potential income streams to our chapter leaders. You may also see Women Grow in new international markets; we currently have applications submitted for markets around the world. As an industry, we made huge strides in 2016. It’s time for us to develop reasoned policies together. There has never been another time in the history of the legal cannabis industry when the impetus for us to have one voice has been more important. In 2017, we must put aside our differences to create a stronger industry. Leah Heise is CEO of Women Grow.


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The Fight to End Marijuana Prohibition Continues By Erik Altieri Election Day dealt another blow to the failed and discriminatory policy of marijuana prohibition in America. If anyone thought the victories in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon were a passing fad, it’s now clear that they were mistaken. With adult-use measures just approved in four states (California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada) and medical marijuana initiatives approved in another four (Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota), the era of marijuana legalization is upon us. The American people are sending a message: Cannabis should be legal. But now’s not the time to become complacent. As we celebrate our recent successes, we must remind ourselves that legalization is not inevitable. It will only happen if we keep up the fight. Our opponents are not going away. They remain ready for battle, and so should we. While eight states have voted in favor of adult-use legalization (and 29 have comprehensive medical laws that protect patients), this still doesn’t prevent people from getting locked up for possession in Texas, or provide access for patients in Idaho. Even though progress in certain parts of the country is slow, the movement is still making considerable inroads overall. More states than ever considered marijuana law reform legislation during this year’s election cycle, and, with the momentum of our recent wins, we expect that groundswell to grow in 2017. Like all great social movements, this battle over legalization is being waged by everyday Americans. Parents, patients, students and workers have stood together and fought back, and due to their


NORML’s Executive Director, Erik Altieri.

efforts, we are where we are today. We need to continue that legacy. Our mission of ending cannabis prohibition is far from over, but the goal is within our reach. We can only achieve this goal if we organize like we’ve never done before. We need to mass-mobilize, hold protests and rallies, lobby our elected officials (not just at the state capitol once or twice a year, but repeatedly at their home district offices), make hundreds of phone calls, send thousands of emails, and attend town hall events and farmers’ markets. If politicians can avoid an issue, they will—so we have to make ourselves unavoidable. We have a lot of work ahead, but I very much look forward to doing that work with Freedom Leaf’s readers. When we come together, stand side by side and fight back, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. Trust me: The marijuana revolution continues, and we will win. Erik Altieri is the Executive Director of NORML.

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Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Four Questions with Shaleen Title By Frances Fu Attorney Shaleen Title has played an integral role in the development of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the NORML Women’s Alliance and Colorado’s Amendment 64. Down for the cannabis cause since 2002, today she’s the co-founder of the THC Staffing Group, a boutique recruiting firm for the marijuana industry, which places an emphasis on diversity and provides regulatory expertise for 4Front Advisors. Title lives in Boston. • On the state of the marijuana movement: “It’s a little like Dr. Frankenstein. We’ve created something that never existed before, and it’s delicate and vulnerable. We’re at an intense place. But my optimism revolves around young people, particularly the SSDP students I meet who are laser-focused on addressing how the War on Drugs intersects and overlaps with so many other forces, all of which need to change.” • On diversity and inclusion in the cannabis industry: “It’s up to marginalized people to build our own community to support one another and lift each other up. We can’t depend on anyone else. Our No. 1 goal should be to harness our own leadership, innovation and power as consumers. Several organizations are at the cutting edge of this work: the Minority Cannabis Business Association, Cannabis Cultural Association, CannaBizWatch, Supernova Women of Color and SSDP’s Diversity Awareness Reflection and Education Committee [see “DARE to Take a Stand” in Issue 20]. But just as importantly, there are informal circles of support to ensure that people who may not immediately come across as historically ‘traditional’ entrepreneurs or executive directors can feel welcome and have some space to learn and grow.”


Title has “zero patience for the rampant sexism that occurs in part of the industry.”

• On women in the cannabis movement: “My company primarily works with other women-owned companies in our business-to-business dealings, and we have virtually no bickering, missed deadlines or time-wasting meetings. My advice for other women in the movement is focus on what you’re trying to accomplish, and do it the most effective and efficient way you can. Chances are you’ll develop something new.” • On sexism in the marijuana industry: “I have zero patience for the rampant sexism that occurs in parts of the industry. Call it out when you see things like the Altai Brands marijuana industry conference afterparty in Las Vegas that served deli meat off of a human woman. Don’t buy their products and let them crash and burn, which they deserve. Like our voting power, women’s decision-making power as consumers is unmatched. Frances Fu is SSDP’s Pacific Region Outreach Coordinator.

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Start a chapter, join the Sensible Society, and learn more at Start a chapter, join the Sensible Society, and learn more at december 2016


The Fourth Wave: Smells Like Legalization Spirit By David Rheins The sweet scent of sativa was unmistakable in the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas on Nov. 16–18, as familiar faces and newbies toked on vape pens and schmoozed through two exhibition halls and from one hospitality suite to the next. More than 10,500 attendees and 350 exhibitors turned out for the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, making it the biggest industry show of the year. Held just days after voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada legalized cannabis for adult use, this year’s MJBizCon had a celebratory vibe; it felt like cannabis was at long last really legal and out in the open. Since the 1990s, the marijuana movement has progressed in waves of reform. The first wave of legalization began in 1996 with California’s Proposition 215, which inspired a host of other states to craft their own Compassionate Care Acts, and saw the creation of thousands of loosely regulated dispensaries intended to serve patients possessing doctors’ recommendations. The second wave came in 2012 when voters in Colorado and Washington passed initiatives that created legal cannabis marketplaces for adults over 21. While residents overwhelmingly supported the end of prohibition, reluctant governments in both states initially struggled to cobble together regulatory


frameworks for an industry they neither understood nor particularly favored. Even more challenging are the many hurdles facing legal cannabis licensees, who are burdened with daunting regulations and high taxes, and are prohibited by federal law from banking, acquiring commercial credit, processing credit cards or taking customary business deductions on their federal tax returns. The third wave occurred in 2014 when Alaska and Oregon joined the adult-use states, demonstrating that legalization is no passing fad, and that other states are watching with real interest as the newly established industry generates jobs, tax revenues and economic stimulus. The fourth wave of legalization just happened in California, with its enormous cultural influence and 39 million residents; in Nevada, with its 40 million visitors annually; and in Maine and Massachusetts, the first Eastern states to jump on the recreational cannabis bandwagon. At the trade show in Las Vegas, some dark murmurs were heard about the possible rollback of progress under the new Trump administration, but for the most part, you could almost hear the strains of “Happy Days Are Here Again” over the roar of the crowd and the ding-ding-dinging of the onearmed bandits. David Rheins is the Executive Director of the Marijuana Business Association.

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Etain to the Rescue One New York medical marijuana company is owned and operated by women: Amy, Hillary and Keeley Peckham. By Matt Chelsea Etain Health, one of only five medical cannabis providers in New York State, is praising fresh moves by state health officials to increase patient access and expand their client base. On Nov. 30, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) added chronic pain as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, as cannabis gains legal traction in the fight against opioid abuse. In another big milestone, the state is also allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe cannabis (see “Practitioners Make Perfect” on page 56). “Every step toward patient access, and recognizing where this product has its greater value, is positive,” Amy Peckham, CEO of Etain Health, a family-run, women-owned company, tells Freedom Leaf. “It will increase our patient base. We need to have a sustainable business.” The past 12 months have been a challenge for Etain, as the Katonah, N.Y.-based medical marijuana business got its four dispensaries and a growing


facility up and running despite high startup costs. They’ve served about 1,500 patients to date at their stores in Yonkers, Kingston, Albany and Syracuse. “The medicine is mostly being used for endof-life treatment,” sighs Peckham. “It’s heart-wrenching.” The company has yet to go into the black, partly because the base of patients remain small while the potential remains small. While the potential market in New York—the second-most populous state—is huge, at press time only 750 doctors and 10,730 patients had registered since dispensaries began to open around the Empire State last January. “The medical community is hesitant,” Peckham points out. “But, as doctors participate, they’re learning the benefits. In time, there will be more support.” Etain Health now employs about 30 people, and Peckham hopes to add more employees in 2017. “We have a good team,” she notes. “We’ve tried to be as lean as possible because we knew it would be slow progress in New York.” While it may seek capital from institutional investors in the future, Etain

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Etain’s founders Keeley, Hillary and Amy Peckman. They’re based in Ketonah, N.Y.

receives its financial backing from family members. Founded by Peckham and her two daughters—COO Hillary Peckham and Chief Horticulture Officer Keeley Peckham—Etain is the only state-certified cannabis business in the New York that’s run by women. Previously, the Peckham family business has been road construction, which literally paved the way for the foundation of Etain. Amy Peckham is also a founding member of the New York chapter of Women Grow, which provided expertise on the way to launching Etain (Women Grow co-founder Jazmin Hupp holds a seat on their board). The company has received favorable press coverage from Fortune, New York and the Village Voice as powerful female entrepreneurs shaping the emerging cannabis industry. “As first-time investors in the cannabis industry, we chose New York because we’re third- and fourth-generation New Yorkers, and we think these factors should have made a difference to the regulators,” Peckham explains. Etain Health’s cultivation facility in Chestertown, in the Adirondack Mountains, primarily produces three strains: Forte (high THC), Balance (1:1 THC/ CBD) and Dolce (high CBD). New York prohibits the sale of cannabis flowers and edibles, but allows tinctures and oils


for vape pens, along with sprays and capsules. The company pays for ongoing employee education and training, and operates an in-house laboratory built according to state and FDA guidelines. New York has a reputation in the business world for tough regulations, and its medical cannabis rules reinforce that view. The state currently restricts cannabis prescriptions to 10 ailments: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury with spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy and Huntington’s disease. Now that the DOH has agreed to add chronic pain to the conditions list, many more patients will be able to access the program. To help meet patient needs, Etain Health has reduced prices and initiated discount policies. “It’s a decision based on patient compassion,” Peckham explains. “There are many high costs built into the regulatory scheme, including the quality provided to New York patients, and those facts combined with a small market means there is no economic rationale for Etain to lower prices. We’re just hopeful that the program continues to attract more people who could use this alternative choice.” Etain Health expects to break even next year. “It’s a business, and if you do it right, it will [still] have high costs and it’ll take time,” Peckham adds. “People from outside may think you’re making a lot of money, but that’s not true of any startup, and it’s not true of this startup.” To grow the company, Etain is exploring possible venture capital or bank financing sometime in the future as the company and the cannabis marketplace matures. “We’ll seek investment income possibly to expand out of state,” Peckham says. “We’re making the highest-quality product in the country. It will be popular in other states. Several have reached out to us for help in forming their regulations.” She doesn’t say which ones, but clearly Etain Health, after just one year in business, is making its mark in the medical cannabis industry.

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Year of the

Freedom Leaf salutes 10 female members of the cannabis community who made a difference in 2016.

Melissa Etheridge 2016 accomplishmentS: Started her cannabis company, Etheridge Farms, and released the album MEmphis Rock and Soul.

Bio: The guitar-playing singer-songwriter has released 14 albums since 1988 and won two Grammy Awards. She became a medical cannabis user after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Grammy Winner Melissa Etheridge


On medical marijuana: “I believe anybody who smokes cannabis is using it medicinally, whether they consider it so or not. If it’s my means of relaxing and unplugging and de-stressing at the end of the day, who’s to say that’s not good medicine? Isn’t that what you do when you take your Ambiens and your Valiums and stuff? It’s the same thing. My stress level and all the things I felt contributed to my cancer 12 years ago, I absolutely treat them every day by smoking cannabis and keeping a balance in my life.” On Etheridge Farms: “I want

it to be more than just a name. I want to really focus my product on the wellness and on the medicinal part, bridging that gap. Some people may not want to go into a dispensary for a Snoop Dogg [strain]— nothing against Wiz Khalifa and all those beautiful people—that’s not what they’re looking for. They’re looking for medicinal relief. I want them to know this is the brand that they can trust, that there’s scientific research behind it, and really bring this to the medical community.”

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Joy Beckerman-Maher 2016 accomplishment: Named Regional Cannabis Activist of the Year by Seattle Hempfest.

Bio: Founder of Hemp Ace Internation-

al, a Seattle-based advisory, educational and brokerage firm. After opening the first hemp store in New York State in the early 1990s, she served as Secretary to the Vermont Hemp Council. She then commenced an extensive career as a regulatory compliance and complex civil litigation paralegal supporting some of Seattle’s most distinguished attorneys.

On hemp in America: “Industrial hemp is being reborn and is absolutely on the rise. The federal passage of Section 7606, the Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research, in the Agricultural Act of 2014, a.k.a. the Farm Bill, has encouraged a number of states to pass industrial hemp legislation. Thus far, 31 states have passed some form of industrial hemp legislation, though only approximately 10 of those have successfully placed seeds in the ground.”

On women in cannabis:

“Women are leading, moving, grooving, improving and all around shaking things up as the many hemp industries evolve, and the medical and adult-use marijuana industries take off. The most impactful area in which I see women making a huge difference is in the exploitation of women and sexuality in cannabis advertising. The cannabis industry simply is no longer tolerating it, and has been calling out companies that objectify women while promoting the use of cannabis in any form. There is a strong first line of defense building, and I pity the fools that think sexual exploitation will win them any favor.

Katja Blichfeld 2016 accomplishment:

Teamed up with her husband Ben Sinclair to write and direct the HBO series High Maintenance.

Bio: Worked as Casting Director for 30 Rock—for which she won an Emmy— and The Carrie Diaries. On High Maintenance: “The

idea of the weed delivery guy wasn’t an explicit goal when we started. It was about normalizing all kinds of behaviors, and embracing that. That’s one reason we moved to New York.”

On legalization: “When you see how much money there is to be made and where it can go to support things

Katja Blichfeld of High Mainten an


like education, it’s honestly so crazy that we’re still having this legalization conversation.”

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Whoopi Goldberg 2016 accomplishment:

Founded her cannabis company, Whoopi & Maya, with Maya Elisabeth.

Bio: The longtime host of The View has won an Oscar, two Emmys, a Grammy and a Tony award for her performances over the years.

On Whoopi & Maya products: “I feel like if you don’t want to

get high-high, this is a product specifically to get rid of discomfort. Smoking a joint is fine, but most people can’t smoke a joint and go to work. It allows you to continue to work throughout the day. You can put the rub on your lower stomach and lower back at work, and when you get home you can get in the tub for a soak, or make tea.”

Whoopi Goldberg at the 2016 Oscars.

On vaping for her glaucoma: “I started using the vape pen

because I stopped smoking cigarettes about four years ago, and I discovered I couldn’t smoke a joint anymore. The relief that I got from the vape pen was kind of different from what I got with smoking. I could control it much better.”

On Women Grow: “My pri-

mary goal is to expand our chapter network and membership. If you’re a veteran of this industry, I urge you to open your doors and become a mentor. Show people that, in the cannabis industry, we think differently. I believe the cannabis industry can change corporate America. We’ve been gifted with a beautiful, peaceful plant that can heal the body and the world.”

Leah Heise 2016 accomplishment: Named CEO of Women Grow.

Bio: A regulatory compliance attorney,

she formed Chesapeake Integrated Health Institute in Maryland in 2015 in order to apply for a license to grow, process and dispense medical cannabis. The company also counsels individuals and companies joining the industry regarding business operations, infrastructure and compliance.


On women in cannabis: “I think things are improving. While we continue to battle inappropriate use of the female form in marketing and branding, female business leaders are banding together to successfully fight derogatory advertising. Additionally, women continue to be recognized as experts, and are appearing on panels and speaking at conferences with greater frequency. At the recent Cannabis Science Conference [in Portland, Ore.], more than 70% of the speakers were female, including the keynote—progress indeed. We need to continue pushing for these opportunities.”

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Diane Goldstein 2016 accomplishment:

Helped to pass Prop 64 in California by working with the campaign’s newspaper endorsement team, which garnered nearly every major state newspaper endorsement.

Bio: After a 21-year career in law

enforcement, she joined the Executive Board of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) in 2010. She worked on Amendment 64 in Colorado, and Prop 19 and Prop 64 in California, and continues to advise on local regulations and statewide legislation supporting sensible cannabis policy.

On women in cannabis:

“Since 2013, when I wrote the article ‘The Power of Women to Create Social Change’ for, which highlighted the untapped strength of women leaders, I’ve witnessed a degree of tremendous change. Yet, when I go to a cannabis-related conference, I’m still concerned about the lack of diversity and representation both from women and people of color. Our work is

Hilary Bricken 2016 accomplishment: Did a TEDx Talk on whether state-legal cannabis is is creating “Big Marijuana.”

Bio: One of the top legal practitioners in the areas of cannabis-related commerce and compliance, the Seattle-based attorney works for law firm Harris Moure, where she helped found the Canna Law Group that concentrates on the business of legally sold and taxed cannabis products. A highly sought-after lecturer and legal commentator, she also contributes regularly to, spreading the word about marijuana legalization and issues the industry faces on the legal front.


cut out for us, but I believe that women will continue to be on the front lines, kicking prohibitionists to the curb—just like Pauline Sabin did in helping to end alcohol prohibition.”

On women in cannabis:

“Things are constantly improving on the legal side of the equation, from what I can tell. I continue to see more and more female legal practitioners get into the advertisement of marHILARY ijuana businesses. I BRICKEN also see more women taking on major leadership roles, such as women heading up state agencies regarding cannabis, or starting their own cannabis businesses.”

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Debby Goldsberry 2016 accomplishments:

Named Executive Director at Magnolia Wellness in Oakland, Calif., the only dispensary in the East Bay with onsite consumption. She and the founders of Amoeba Music secured a dispensary permit for the record store location on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, and plan to open next year, bringing together two of the best things in the world: music and marijuana. She also wrote her first book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting and Running a Marijuana Business, which hits bookstores in March.

Bio: Co-coordinated the Cannabis Ac-

tion Network and produced the legendary Hemp Tours for nearly 10 years, and subsequently founded and ran Berkeley Patients Group for 10 years. Her consulting firm, Eureka Management Services, provides assistance to both startups and longtime cannabis companies. She’s also a professor at Oaksterdam University.

On women in cannabis:

“Women-owned businesses are flourishing, and people are more and more realizing that strong businesses require diverse teams. Women are united in creating safe, harassment-free spaces in the industry, and are speaking up loudly to demand equality and equity. The mari-

juana industry’s women leaders are dynamic, intelligent, exciting and talented. They are also loyal to a new way of doing business that does not follow a conqueror’s mentality. Women-owned marijuana businesses are taking the lead, and making money, by acting fairly and with the greater good in mind.”

On life after Prop 64:

“We have to implement California’s new medical marijuana and adult-use laws, and work to improve the flaws in each. We have to pass federal legislation ending prohibition once and for all, which will be a real battle under the Trump regime. We have to remain fearless and hardworking, until each and every prisoner is free and until people stop being swooped up by police on the streets for marijuana. We have to insist on an equitable and fair cannabis industry, with visionary leaders working to improve society, and not just focused on enriching themselves. We have to help each other, and continue to build a beautiful community of sustainable, caring marijuana advocates and businesspeople.”

Pamela Novy 2016 accomplishment:

Received NORML’s Pauline Sabin Award, which recognizes the importance of women leaders in organizations dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition.

Bio: Named Executive Director of Vir-

ginia NORML in 2015. In addition to recruiting influential Republicans, she’s worked to make cannabis law reform a state priority by pressing the Virginia Democratic Committee to include reform in their platform.

Pamela Novy, Ex ecutive Directo r of Virginia NORM L

On cannabis law reform in Virginia: “I consider the biparti-

san reform coalition we built in Virginia

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to be the greatest accomplishment. It was also clear that we needed strong, vocal Republican supporters if we were going to gain any ground with our very conservative Virginia General Assembly. In this vein, forming a Virginia chapter of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition [RAMP] is serving us well going into 2017. Conservative lawmakers who practically laughed us out of committee hearings are now taking our calls, speaking at local NORML chapter meetings and publicly stating that change must be seriously considered.”

On women in cannabis:

Brandy ShapiroBabin

states would prevail. The public needed to understand what this meant for their communities, but also start the conversation of what was next—and we delivered it in a way that people had the ears to hear. We topped almost a million viewers that evening.”

2016 accomplishment: Produced Cannabis Radio’s Marijuana Election Night live simulcast.

On women in cannabis:

Bio: She’s president of Cannabis

Radio—the world’s largest online and podcast cannabis radio network—which she founded in 2015.

On the Election Night coverage: “We did six hours of live

television, with a radio simulcast narrowcast in the nine states where there were major marijuana initiatives on the ballot. We had a six-week development runway. Cannabis Radio’s Russ Belville and Laura Bianchi of the Rose Law Group co-hosted the show. Our anchor desk was in Los Angeles at the DPA watch party. We had nearly 100 industry partners, 50 mainstream media partners and several dozen esteemed influencers participating with interviews. Our goal for the evening was multifold: If we could catch people prior to them going to the polls, then each heart and mind we could educate the better. This was our way of putting our stake in the ground, as we felt confident that the majority of the


“The reform leaders in Virginia are predominantly women, most middleaged and older, and many mothers and grandmothers. This didn’t happen randomly, but was a demographic I deliberately tried to recruit. In the past, Virginia lawmakers tended to view marijuana reform activists as fringe. I really wanted Virginia lawmakers to see us as more than hippie stoners. The fact is, they tend to sit up and take notice when professional women, many of whom are mothers, visit them to talk about changing marijuana policy.”

“Women are taking the cannabis industry by storm. I’m so honored to be included in this amazing lineup of female entrepreneurs. The world has evolved enough that everyone is just a businessperson. However, we still have equal-pay issues and double standards. Historically, the cannabis industry has been male-dominated for a number of reasons, but as all of these states go legal, we have an opportunity to set new and positive standards. I started working at an early age, and worked mostly in male-dominated industries. My first job was in tech; I was barely 20 and everyone around me was over 30 and male. I think at that time in my life, I was more sensitive over my age then my gender, which has served me well over the years. As I mentor women, they help to make me cool, and I hopefully give them the confidence to follow their passions and claim their space in this wonderful industry we’re in.” Compiled by Steve Bloom and Allen St. Pierre.

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Alaska’s Charlo Greene Facing Marijuana Felony Charges By Russ Belville On Sept. 22, 2014, Charlo Greene, then a reporter for CBS affiliate KTVA in Anchorage, became an overnight viral sensation when she quit her job live on air in order to dedicate herself to her Alaska Cannabis Club and legalizing marijuana in the 49th state. Less than six weeks later, on Nov. 4, voters passed Measure 2 by a 52% margin, making Alaska the fourth state to approve the adult use of cannabis. The law went into effect on Feb. 24, 2015, but commercial sales were not yet allowed. Then, on March 20 of that year, the Anchorage Police conducted a SWAT-style raid on the Alaska Cannabis Club, which Greene had opened 11 months earlier (on 4/20, naturally). Prosecutors allege that undercover investigators purchased marijuana at Greene’s club. Since the regulations that have now authorized Alaska’s first legal pot shops weren’t in effect yet in 2015, an Alaska Department of Law spokesperson explained that the state “wanted there to be a clear message that, for the marijuana industry, you need to follow the regulations….” Greene (née Charlene Egbe) is facing multiple felony charges that could put her in prison for 54 years in a state with legalized marijuana that just opened its first retail shops. She’s charged with crimes that existed in Alaska before legalization passed—activities that have been made legal with the passage of Measure 2 in 2014. Prosecuting Greene will not ensure that the industry follows the regulations; it only sends a clear message that the state is willing to pursue an obsolete charge against a black female cannabis entrepreneur. Why are Alaskan authorities so determined to destroy this woman’s life over now-legal marijuana? And where are all the people who celebrated her viral


Charged with multiple felonies for selling pot, Greene could receive a 54-year sentence.

celebrity, or benefited from her cannabis club, now that she needs their support the most? Greene tells Freedom Leaf that she has found a lawyer to fight her case, and she is employing music videos to tell her story and raise funds for her defense. Greene is also working on a tell-all memoir about her experiences in the cannabis industry since leaving television journalism behind. Nobody deserves prison for a plant, especially in a state where marijuana is legal. Prosecuting Greene will only create a marijuana martyr who will become an even stronger voice for the movement. Russ Belville hosts The Russ Belville Show daily at CannabisRadio-com.

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Freedom Leaf INTERVIEW

Dale sky jones


Interview by Steve Bloom


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In 2017, Oaksterdam University will mark its 10th year as America’s premier cannabis college. Dale Sky Jones has been at the helm as Executive Chancellor since 2008. After numerous corporate jobs in training and hospitality, she found an unlikely home in the burgeoning marijuana industry. Now Jones leads a school that boasts more than 30,000 students since 2007, and which survived a much-publicized DEA raid in 2012. An activist and educator, she’s the mother of two children (with her husband, Oaksterdam cultivation expert Jeff Jones), with another on the way. We caught up with Jones shortly after Election Day, when California and three other states legalized adult-use marijuana and Donald Trump was elected president. Where did you grow up? I was born in Connecticut and raised by New Yorkers. We moved around a lot, but I essentially grew up in Florida. I’ve also lived in San Diego, Las Vegas, Colorado, Wyoming and Seattle. Where did you go to college? I went to the University of Central Florida for two years. I took general studies with a major in communications, and then dropped out in order to pursue my career. In that sense, I guess it’s kind of weird that I’m running a university. Were you a pot smoker during those early years? I first tried it when I was 14. My mom found a little piece of cannabis when I was a teenager and I got in so much trouble that I didn’t smoke it again until I was in college. I was a DARE kid. I was one of the kids in high school who taught the middle school kids not to do drugs. I picked it back up because I couldn’t drink; alcohol made me throw up violently. Some friends of mine reintroduced me to cannabis. It was something for me to do while my friends drank. Even under

the influence of cannabis, I was the sober person in the room. In my early 20s, I rediscovered it. I was a closet consumer during my corporate career. Only two people in my town knew that I consumed cannabis—my boyfriend and my dealer. I would never do it before I left the house. I had to be in for the night. I was a total closet stiletto stoner, wearing my high heels and going to my corporate job, never hinting or even joking that I was that person who smokes the ganj. I was that way until I moved to California. Where were you working before that? I owned a restaurant for a while in Wyoming. I started an end-user restaurant, and came out a corporate trainer for new store openings for Red House Grill and TGI Fridays. I opened stores in four states for TGI Fridays doing that corporate training. That’s when I was bouncing around from Florida to California, to Las Vegas to Colorado. I left TGI Fridays and went into R&D for a while. I was on the team that told Uncle Ben’s that rice bowls were a good idea; we were right. We also did a huge coffee study for Starbucks and Folgers. These experiences helped me understand the entire continuum of what would eventually become the cannabis industry, from plant to patient or plant to consumer; it was all the same. I’ve been able to use the best practices that I learned from these other industries and apply them to training the cannabis industry. When did you decide you wanted to be in the cannabis industry? I came into this upside down and backwards. I was working for Famous Footwear in Seattle and I was miserable. Before I moved to Seattle, I had a friend who knew a doctor in Orange County who wanted someone to help her manage a practice to do medical cannabis recommendations. At the time, I thought it was an amusing offer. Every three months or so she’d call me to check in— the doctor still needed a business man-

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ger. So I just decided to make a complete left turn and reinvent myself. I knew there was something more important that I needed to be working on instead of enriching some company’s bottom line. I was good at that, but it was not impactful. It was not changing the world. I was just part of a cog in a wheel. After years of that haunting me, I took the leap. In 2007, as I turned 32, I quit my job and moved to Orange County. How did you end up at Oaksterdam? I was working with patients in Orange County. [California NORML Executive Director] Dale Gieringer recommended that I contact Jeff Jones, who had just opened an office in Los Angeles. We met at Bruce Margolin’s pre-NORML conference party. It was a little trippy for us; this was the counterculture, Bruce Margolin’s party house. We had totally come from the straightlaced medical part of Orange County. It was really interesting to step into the movement. That’s the first time I met Jeff. I eventually met Oaksterdam founder Richard Lee through Jeff. They had the first classes in Oakland in 2007. As soon as Richard started the school in Oakland, he decided to expand to Los Angeles. We taught the first classes in L.A. in the beginning of 2008. I divested myself from the medical practice in 2008 and went to work for Oaksterdam full-time. I was promoted to Chancellor of Los Angeles and then to Executive Chancellor of all the programs. After the raid happened on April 2, 2012, I got promoted to President and CEO. Richard was forcibly retired by the DEA and the company became mine. What’s Richard Lee doing these days? He’s retired. He still lives in Oakland, but he spends a lot of time with his mom in Houston. In addition to the physical school in Oakland, you tour around the country doing seminars. The last two were in Las Vegas and New York. How have they been going?


Very well. Our classic seminar is the smorgasbord. It’s a little taste of everything. We start with our prerequisites— legal, politics and history classes. The Basic Classic seminar covers everything from Horticulture 101 to advocacy. It teaches you how to be a patient, a consumer and a citizen, and how to have successful law enforcement encounters along the way. Next is our Advanced Classic. That gets into budtending, patient consulting, procurements and allocations, dispensary management and business operations. It also includes advanced horticulture and legal classes. You can take that in 14 weeks [the semester] or four days [the seminar]. How many instructors are there for the seminars? Usually three. We have some phenomenal horticulture experts who’ve been doing it for well over two decades. And we always try to hire locals when it comes to legal. You were a major supporter of Prop 19 in 2010, the legalization initiative that Lee funded and lost. Yet in 2016, you were reluctant to support Prop 64. How come? I don’t believe Prop 64 is full legalization. I believe that it’s strong decriminalization. There are very, very important civil rights and social justice issues that are addressed by 64 that have not been addressed in any other “legalization” measure. But I had a real problem with it not going as far as it could have. We should’ve protected all adults from losing their children for cannabis, not just medical patients. At the end of the day I had to support it, because now we were finally protecting medical patients from Child Protective Services, and we can continue to lobby for additional protections, both for individuals and businesses. I also had a big problem with it being 64 pages long when it should’ve been 26 pages. Did you campaign for 64 as time went on, or did you stay neutral?

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with Prop 19 [in 2010] with Americans for Safe Access, so I was very aware of that. I was also aware that if I was ever going to support it, I needed to support it at least a month out for it to do any good. That was the decision I finally came to—that I was terrified of what message would be sent to the rest of the nation if one-fifth of the U.S. economy was going to say, “No, we’re not going to legalize cannabis.” Did you feel similarly about the other adult-use state initiatives on the November ballot?

“Women are used to working three times harder for half the credit. This is nothing new in life. It’s nothing new in the cannabis industry, either.” I stayed neutral through the first twothirds of the campaign. I wasn’t against it. I was very carefully neutral, because I realized that neutral can be almost as derogatory as being against, depending on how it’s received. I know that hurt us

I think we can’t have real legalization until we have a federal shift. This is a state law change, but it doesn’t mean the federal government can’t still turn around and sue the state of California to not promulgate its own regulations. There are still a lot of problems here. The reason that I say it’s not true legalization is not to slam 64. It’s to remind people that we’re not done yet. We have not finished our job. We’ve moved the ball, but we have not won the game. We still have work to do. How do you think the Trump administration is going to deal with the legal cannabis industry? There’s a really good chance that Jeff Sessions is going to be the next Attorney General. This is so reminiscent of what we’ve been dealing with for the last 20 years. We’ve gone right back to the Dark Ages. There’s no question in my mind that if he does get confirmed, we’ll likely see a rollback of the Ogden and Cole memos. All he has to do is just delete them and everything goes back to the way it was, and then we go back to selective prosecution, and the Justice Department suing states to not allow them to promulgate the rules. We had a transition process in place for Hillary, where we would’ve been just fine. Now all of that’s out the window. How’s it going for women in the cannabis industry? Are women being

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Oaksterdam’s Dean of Faculty Dr. Aseem Sappal and Dale Sky Jones examine live pot plants.

treated better and respected more, or not?

How do you balance your career in cannabis with motherhood?

Having been the only chick in the room in my entire corporate career, I’m used to that. When I first got into the cannabis industry, I was often the only chick in the room, too. This industry has not been formed yet. We’re still a movement. We are not yet a fully formed industry, because of the federal law. There’s no glass ceiling to break through. We haven’t even finished the infrastructure yet. Because women got in early, I don’t think we’re going to have a glass ceiling to break. There are enough women entrepreneurs in this industry already that have kind of broken through. Where it gets tricky is finding financing. We all know it’s easier for a white male to get funding than a woman, a person of color or a veteran. We still have the same old barriers that we always did in getting to the next level, but women are used to working three times harder for half the credit. This is nothing new in life. It’s nothing new in the cannabis industry, either.

I’m not just a woman in the industry, I’m a mother in the industry. I’m an outloud mother, walking around pregnant talking about cannabis policies, or with a baby strapped on me. I inadvertently became a mascot for motherhood at the same time that I became a missionary for cannabis. It was the first time you could have a family out loud while having a conversation about this subject. There were no babies at corporate. If you had a baby, you disappeared for six weeks and came back and pretended it didn’t happen. You tried to downplay as much as possible that you were ever even pregnant, because it was bad for your career. The new working mom is not just finding childcare for her kids and going to work; she’s bringing her kids to work with her. That’s what I wound up having to do. Doing that out loud and teaching people that they too can do this has changed the game.


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California joins the rest of the weed-legal Left Coast.


By Amanda Reiman

n election night, I attended the party for Prop 64 hosted by California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom at Verso, a large club in San Francisco. With the marijuana legalization initiative substantially ahead in the polls, I pretty much expected an easy victory with a lot of back-patting, hugging and toasts to a new age of cannabis in California. Prop 64 won with 56% of the vote in a race that was called just 15 minutes after the polls closed. But instead of being ecstatic when he announced the results to the crowd, Newsom, a major architect of the measure, looked worried and rushed, his eyes continually fixed on the television screens above the bar. He said a few words about the importance of legalization, and then his voice trailed off. Donald Trump was holding strong in the battleground states. As the presidential election began to slip away from Hil-


lary Clinton, the mood of the night shifted from congratulatory to anxious. Suddenly the conversation had changed, and we were being asked what a Trump presidency would mean for legalization. Legalizing marijuana in California was a costly, mentally taxing endeavor, which suffered many of the same fates as the presidential election: dissemination of fake news, collusion with the enemy and people voting against their own interests. What we didn’t realize at the time was that the passage of Prop 64 could help protect the other legal states in the age of Trump.

Stoners Against Legalization Early on in the campaign, some of the “pro-legalization, just not this legalization� rabble-rousers from the Prop 19 days resurfaced; six years ago, that initiative,

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similar to Prop 64, was on the ballot and lost. Dubbed “Stoners Against Legalization” (SALs), they’re a mix of “free the weed” folks who won’t support any initiative unless it regulates cannabis like tea; dispensary owners who have a monopoly on the patient population in their towns and fear competition; and pot farmers. Many of the marijuana farmers in opposition felt this way because of decades of prohibition and a genuine distrust of regulation and regulators—and who could blame them? However, some farmers object to any regulations because they mistreat the land, divert water and don’t adequately pay their workers. In 2016, more farmers favored legalization than in 2010, which was due to a desire to finally come out of the shadows, and was also encouraged by the passage of MCRSA, the state-level medical cannabis regulation program, in 2015; MCRSA regulations are coming whether Prop 64 passed or not. Things were very different this time around. SALs quickly promoted propaganda via memes and posted fake news stories on Facebook. They engaged in personal attacks on supporters of the initiative with allegations of financial payoffs from the likes of Monsanto and George Soros. For those not involved in the movement, it became hard to discern what was accurate.

Campaigning with the Enemy On Oct. 27, Smart Approaches to Marijuana founder Kevin Sabet scheduled a press conference at the Hilton in San Francisco. He was flanked by SALs Jamie Kerr, who owns 530 Collective, a dispensary in Shasta Lake; Sean Kiernan, a veteran (who publically harassed me and a group of veterans during a

Prop 64 press event); and Patricia Smith, the Chapter Chair of Nevada County Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Here was Sabet—the Harry J. Anslinger of modern day marijuana prohibition—colluding with his enemies to defeat 64. This was not the only example of people in the industry scheming to protect their own interests. One of the most vicious opponents of Prop 64, Kevin P. Saunders, actually admitted to being paid by law enforcement to spread intentionally false and misleading information about the initiative on the Internet. Saunders owns an online dispensary, Coasterdam, and unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Marina, Calif. In 2014, he was convicted of harassment and Election Code violations and sentenced to six months in jail, and, more recently, faced criminal charges for selling cannabis (that charge was dropped).

Voting Against Your Interests When it comes to restorative and juvenile justice, Prop 64 is the most progressive marijuana law in the country. It allows for sentence reductions and eliminations based on the new regulations. Records can be expunged, probations terminated and deportations stopped. Minors, once charged as adults for marijuana crimes, will now be charged with infractions, punishable by counseling and community service. In addition, Prop. 64 allows people convicted of drug felonies to obtain licenses in the new industry; and a community fund of $50 million annually will be created to provide grants to organizations serving those most impacted by the drug war. No other state has gone this far in the service of social justice. Organizations with decades of experience in drug policy and social justice, such

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Trump Victory a Blow to Racial Justice By Ngaio Bealum More than a few cannabis activists and ganjapreneurs voted for Donald Trump. For Donald Trump—not simply “against Hillary Clinton.” If you wanted to vote against Clinton, there were other options. But if you cast a vote for Trump, that means one of two things: Either you’re cool with racism, or you don’t consider racism to be a deal breaker when it comes to running the country. Add the fact that cannabis prohibitionist Jeff Sessions (who was turned down for a federal judgeship back in 1986 because it was alleged he held racist views) has been nominated for Attorney General, and— congratulations!—your Trump vote has helped create an administration with the potential to undo decades of progress on many important issues, including marijuana prohibition and civil rights. Trump ran a campaign based on racism and fear. It doesn’t matter that you personally aren’t racist; to vote for a clearly racist candidate shows that you’re cool with racism. In mostly polite and civil discussions, I was surprised at how many “friends” whom I considered to be clearheaded voted in a man who gives hope to people who advocate racism. While I’m still shocked, and will have a hard time relating to these people in the same ways that I did before the election, I learned that there are more than


a few straight-up racists in the cannabis industry. This needs to change. Despite Trump’s victory, it may work out for the cannabis industry. There’s already so much cash in the new “legit” game that it may be too late for the federal government to shut everyone down. Cannabis legalization is very popular across the country. States are raking in tax money and creating jobs. Who knows—maybe Trump will try to get into the market and license his name to a few cannabis brands. Never forget that cannabis legalization has always been a social justice and civil liberties issue. Old-school hippies and libertarian freedom fighters worked for years just to get the legalization conversation started. How many campaigns have highlighted the fact that legalizing cannabis is a way to alleviate police harassment of minorities? Legalization is about more than market share. It’s about freedom and equality. Trump’s election sends a clear signal that activism is still needed. See you at the protests. Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento-based comedian and activist who regularly appears at cannabis events.

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Erica Daniels with her son Leo

Autism Matters By Erica Daniels

In Pennsylvania, parents are legally allowed to go out of state to acquire medical cannabis for their children. 52

I’ve got the Golden Ticket from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. It permits me to possess and use medicinal marijuana to treat my son Leo’s autism. Pennsylvania is one of the first states to include autism as a qualifying condition in its medical marijuana program (which Governor Tom Wolf signed into law in April), and is offering special protection for parents and caregivers who procure cannabis from outside the state until local dispensaries open in 2017. It’s the only permission granted by any state, in writing, to import cannabis. However, making the round trip to Colorado or other legal states to secure the best medicine I’ve found for autism—

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cannabis oil—is an obstacle course. Once we leave Pennsylvania, we enter hostile territory where we have to fend for ourselves in order to make it back home with liberty intact and medicine for our children in our hands. Pennsylvania’s Safe Harbor Act was created in a good-faith effort to quickly facilitate the procurement of medical cannabis for children who desperately need it. Campaign4Compassion and state legislators—particularly State Representative Russ Diamond—pushed hard to make autism a qualifying condition. But the danger is in the journey. If we’re caught with cannabis outside of Pennsylvania, the Golden Ticket is just another piece of paper. If we’re pulled over in Oklahoma or caught inside an airport, we could be treated like anyone else with weed in non-legal states—like a criminal. Welcome, autism parents, to the War on Drugs, where the absurd concoction of laws standing between a plant and our kids’ better future is darker than any fiction. In many states where medical marijuana laws have passed, people living with autism still risk arrest and prosecution. There are more children with autism than ever before. M.I.T. senior research scientist Stephanie Seneff has woefully predicted that by 2025 half of American children could have an autism spectrum diagnosis if the incidence of autism— now one in 68 children, according to the CDC—continues to increase at the current rate. All Americans, not just caregivers, will feel the impact of autism over the next 10 years. Autism is a disability that often requires lifelong care at a cost of millions of dollars per individual. For all of the awareness and energy put into the Zika virus and other trending health threats, autism is a much more pressing problem. But, as with climate change, many people fail to realize autism’s true danger and massive impact. Those of us who care for autistic people have witnessed the real benefits of cannabis. We know that it works—just like we know when other therapies are

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder? According to the NIH, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) “is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, ‘a spectrum,’ of symptoms, skills and levels of disability.” ASD characteristics include: • Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others. • Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities. • Symptoms that are typically recognized in the first two years of life. • Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at work or at school, or in other areas of life. successful. This is not the wishful thinking of a parent without enough sleep; preclinical research and voluminous anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that medicinal cannabis decreases the immediate symptoms of autism while working long-term to repair neurologic pathways. In his groundbreaking 2015 research, “The Endocannabinoid System as it Relates to Autism,” Dr. Christian Bogner postulates that a damaged endocannabinoid system in children with autism could be the cause of their illness, and that whole-plant cannabis both treats the symptoms and repairs the underlying pathways of autism with limited intoxicating effects. Cannabis medicine may be the missing link and the most cost-effective way to treat the growing population of patients suffering from autism; families and state agencies could see a drastic

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Erica Daniels’ book, Cooking with Leo.

reduction of expenditures after the implementation of appropriate cannabis treatment programs. Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare 2014 Census Update identified more than 300,000 patients in the Keystone State with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Many could be helped by cannabis. I know this because it’s had a positive effect on my son. Leo suffers from debilitating anxiety, obsessions and compulsions, and severe hyperactivity. The first day that I gave him his cannabis medicine (in the form of oil or tincture), we sat on the couch together and watched a movie, and he snuggled with me for the first time ever. Cannabis helps ease autism symptoms immediately, and is likely working to repair overall neurologic function. It’s the perfect addition to our natural healthy diet treatment philosophy. Parents of autistic kids are already subject to society’s judgment and Child Protective Services visits for the behaviors our children sometimes engage in, like wandering and aggression, and shouldn’t have to bear the additional burden of traveling to a legal state to procure medicine. I can’t help but wonder, when I go to other states, if the caregivers there


are supplying us with cannabis products that are actually safe and appropriate for our children—or are they just black-market drug dealers trying to capitalize on our desperation and naiveté? As caregivers, we have no way to legally purchase actual medical marijuana in another state. The few states that offer reciprocity only do it for registered patients; my Pennsylvania Safe Harbor letter doesn’t count. Licensed growers and caregivers in Colorado—and everywhere else—risk their own permits if they supply me with anything they know I’m going to travel with. Technically, if I tell them I’m taking the marijuana home, they can’t sell it to me. Since the letter says Leo’s cannabis has to be “lawfully obtained,” I need to get a receipt. That means walking into an adult-use retail store in Colorado, Washington, Oregon or Alaska. Otherwise, who’s to say I didn’t just score it on the street? Also, I have to shop for Leo without him there. It’s not the best situation. Frankly, it feels a lot like seeing my old pot dealer, or walking into a head shop and having to say “water pipe” instead of “bong” for fear of getting kicked out. I wish my Pennsylvania Golden Ticket offered real prospects of obtaining the cannabis products that Leo really needs. I also wish we could get police escorts from airports to our homes. And if some other law enforcement entity catches us, I would hope Pennsylvania would help out. Women, as mothers and caregivers, are on the front lines of this war on cannabis every day. Our fears, concerns and stress are compounded if we have to imagine being separated from our children. Still, we take those risks to do whatever is necessary to heal our loved ones. Next year, cannabis oil will be sold in Pennsylvania. Until then, me and about 100 other Pennsylvania moms will be putting everything on the line. Erica Daniels lives outside Philadelphia with her two children. Her book Cooking With Leo will be released in January.

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Practitioners Make Perfect

Some nurse practitioners are being authorized to recommend cannabis. By Mia Di Stefano Being treated with medical marijuana can mean anything from getting a “consultation” on the Santa Monica Boardwalk to sitting in an oncologist’s office discussing how to incorporate cannabis oil into a cancer treatment regimen. As medical cannabis laws expand, the tendency toward regulation is clear. Many states have a strict patient application review process, and mandate a bona fide doctor-patient relationship established over multiple appointments. But what happens when one doctor ends up recommending cannabis to over 5,000 patients? Such was the case of Dr. John C. Nadolny of Canna


Care Docs, in Massachusetts. When asked by regulators to explain how this was possible, Dr. Nadolny explained that nurse practitioners (NPs) often cared for patients in his practice, and signed certificates under his supervision. Although NPs are included under Massachusetts law as “licensed physician[s]” to certify qualifying patients, regulators have cracked down on the practice, and in May Dr. Nadolny’s medical license was suspended. On Sept. 14, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommended to the state Public Health Council (PHC) that NPs be allowed to certify cannabis patients, as per the 2013 medical marijuana statute; ultimately, the PHC will have the final word. The Massachusetts

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Patient Advocacy Alliance is confident that the decision will be approved, given the wording of the law. “It’s a statutory reason that nurse practitioners should be allowed to recommend,” says MPAA Development Director Michael Latulippe. Allowing NPs to recommend cannabis makes it easier for patients to access state medical marijuana programs. Because cannabis is a federally illegal substance, doctors are often reluctant to recommend it, particularly in states like New York that have restrictive regulatory and liability laws. Most doctors in New York who recommend cannabis are in private practice, and in order to qualify under the state’s Compassionate Care Act (CCA), they must register with the Department of Health (DOH) and complete a four-hour cannabis class. The DOH boldly recommended in its two-year review on Aug. 29 that “authorizing Nurse Practitioners to certify New Yorkers for medical marijuana [is] consistent with their current authority to prescribe controlled substances (including opioids) for patients diagnosed with qualifying conditions covered in the CCA.” A month later, in a Sept. 30 memo to the DOH, Stephen Ferrara, Executive Director of the Nurse Practitioner Association New York State, stated: “It’s undisputed that New York continues to face a physician shortage, particularly in the area of primary care. NPs are able to bridge this gap and are meeting patient needs that would otherwise go unmet, particularly in rural areas. Qualified patients should not be denied the opportunity to have their healthcare needs addressed, simply because the patient opts to be treated by an NP…. “NPs have the necessary preparation and experience to diagnosis patients as suffering from a ‘serious condition,’ and determine whether a patient would benefit from using marijuana. The proposed regulatory changes are consistent with this skill, education and experience of the NP community. The proposed regulation is consistent with this authorization [that] a nurse practitioner shall be considered a ‘practitioner,’ who, in accordance with the rest of MMP [medical marijuana program]

regulations, may register to issue medical marijuana patient certifications.” Ferrara also addressed the question of who is a “practitioner” in his DOH letter: “The [CCA] that passed both houses and was signed by the governor [in 2014] provided an opportunity for [the DOH] to include NPs in the medical marijuana program…. As a result, the DOH is statutorily authorized to include NPs as ‘practitioners,’ subject to the same limitations as physicians in the MMP.” On Nov. 22, the DOH made it official, authorizing NPs to register medical cannabis patients as of Nov. 30. According to Ferrara, “Over 100 of New York’s 19,000 NPs had already completely the Medical Use of Marijuana course.” Maine and Washington State have longstanding medical programs that allow NPs to independently recommend cannabis without the supervision of an attending doctor. In 2014, Maine’s policy was updated and expanded to specifically permit NPs to certify patients independently. Integr8 Health, a medical cannabis practice run by Dr. Dustin Sulak in Falmouth, Me., employs six nurse practitioners. Each NP has undergone extensive training with Dr. Sulak regarding the endocannabinoid system, and has independently researched cannabis medicine. “Nurse practitioners have the mind of a physician and the heart of a nurse,” says Laurel Sheppard, a certified family nurse practitioner (FNP-C) who works closely with Dr. Sulak on childhood epilepsy cases. “Many patients prefer nurse practitioners because we can spend more time with them,” she says. However, some states, including Colorado and California, specifically prohibit NPs from issuing medical cannabis recommendations. The same philosophy of states’ rights that has made it possible for 29 states to legalize medical cannabis has also allowed each state to impose different restrictions on NPs that ultimately impact the patients they serve. Only 18 states allow NPs to practice independently, and some states restrict their ability to participate in surgeries and

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prescribe controlled substances. There are legitimate reasons for these regulations; doctors are required to complete twice the amount of classroom time as nurse practitioners, and spend years in residency and in clinical rotations through emergency medicine, neurology and surgery, while NPs must complete 500 hours of classroom training and 500–700 hours in clinics. Dr. Dara Huang, a New York State nephrologist and DOH-registered doctor allowed to prescribe cannabis, is skeptical about allowing nurse practitioners to recommend cannabis independently of a supervising doctor, especially in New York, where the qualifying conditions only cover patients with life-threatening debilitating diseases (such as late-stage cancer and intractable epilepsy), and those using cannabis as a last resort. These patients usually have complicated medical histories, and intense drug regimens that need to be monitored closely for drug interactions, which requires a depth of knowledge only medical doctors can provide, Huang contends. “For cannabis medicine, where there’s a lack of research, it requires the specialty of a doctor,” she tells Freedom Leaf. “You have to be able to identify complex situations, and to see the patient not only as a cannabis patient, but as

part of a healthcare team. Nurse practitioners are very valuable in the healthcare system, but we’re talking about something completely new to the field. It’s in the best interest of the patient to receive comprehensive medical care. If I had a nurse practitioner in my practice, they would be under my license. At the end of the day, the doctor oversees everything.” Patients looking for an alternative to pharmaceutical treatments are challenging what was once medicine’s greatest sales pitch: Doctor knows best. A 2013 survey indicated that only 13% of medical schools even discuss the endocannabinoid system. Due to the current lack of availability of formal medical cannabis training, any healthcare practitioner who enters into cannabis medicine needs to do substantial independent research into the healing properties of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids. By permitting nurse practitioners to recommend cannabis, states like New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Washington are opening a window to patients to choose the practitioner that’s right for them.

Nurse practitioners have the mind of a physician and the heart of a nurse.

— Laurel Sheppard


Mia Di Stefano is the Co-Chair of Women Grow NYC and consults on digital strategy for medical cannabis startups.

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The marijuana industry is just emerging in this South American country known for its legendary cannabis crops.

Perhaps more than any other country, Colombia is globally associated with drugs. Baby boomers have fond memories of the fabled Santa Marta Gold in the early to mid-1970s, and later, Punta Roja and dark brown Gungi strains. By the end of the Me Decade, Colombian bud had largely supplanted Mexican mota in the marketplace, especially on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Some cultural observers even credit the abundant Colombian Red of the late ’70s with helping to fuel stoner comedians from Cheech and Chong to George Carlin—but the Reagan and Bush eras would soon put an end to that. Until the early ’80s, the preferred method for Colombian cannabis smug-


glers was to pack large freighters with tons of high-grade, sticky buds that were sailed to points 50 or so miles off the coast of Florida. Smaller shrimp and tuna boats would meet the freighter “motherships” and offload the herb, before running it through a maze of channels and remote beaches from Florida to Louisiana. This was prior to aerial observation. In 1982, the South Florida Drug Task Force was formed by the Reagan administration. Bringing the full weight of federal resources to the game, the U.S. began deploying AWACS radar planes and highspeed Coast Guard cutters near Florida to intercept the motherships, which were easy targets as they sat being offloaded. At the same time, Colombian smug-

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Once the home of Pablo Escobar’s cocaine cartel, Medellín recently hosted a cannabis expo.

glers started requiring that, for every load of herb bought, the buyer also had to take some cocaine. Within a few short years, coke began to flood into the States. Crack soon followed, and the U.S. experienced its worst drug epidemic since the ’60s heroin influx. The tremendous violence associated with the cocaine business caused massive damage to both the people of Colombia and their international reputation. As a result, Colombians have a very jaundiced view of all drugs. South America has been quietly leading the world’s drug-reform movement. In 2012, Uruguay was the first country to completely legalize cannabis, and Chile and Argentina have both decriminalized not just cannabis, but also small amounts of cocaine and Ecstasy. Colombia is now tentatively following their leads. This beautiful country of incredibly friendly people has legalized extractions of cannabis, and there are now stores from Bogota to Medellín that sell hash oil or BHO wax. Flowers, ironically, are not yet legal to sell. During Thanksgiving week, the first-ever Colombian cannabis exposition, the Medea De Weed, took place in Medellín. Held in the beautiful Jardín Botánico de Medellín, the event featured three days of seminars and numerous booths stocked with various products. The presenters included both North and South American cannabis activists, including U.S. lawyer Don Wirtshafter, who discussed the history of dispensaries in the U.S. and how that applies to


the current landscape in Colombia. “I was so excited to be asked to come down and help begin the education process in Colombia,” Wirtshafter told Freedom Leaf. When asked how long he thinks it’s going to take for the cannabis industry to develop there, Wirtshafter commented: “The industry is still in the embryonic state. I wouldn’t even really say that it’s been born yet.” The pace of everything in Colombia is much slower than in the States—tranquillo, or mellow, is how Colombians describe it—and the expo was a moderate success. Perhaps 300 or so attended, but, most importantly, people working in the industry were able to network with professionals from the U.S. and begin the process of moving forward. Slow as the pace may be, change is coming in Colombia. One of the current ideas in play is for Colombia to produce oils for the international vape market, similar to the deal that some businesses in Jamaica have cut with Denver’s O.pen VAPE. How the international community is going to receive these proposals is unclear. The Jamaican deal was announced over a year ago, but has yet to move forward. Regardless, countries like Colombia and Jamaica, with their history of high-quality cannabis production and extremely low labor costs, are poised to once again be players in the international cannabis market. Rick Pfrommer is the Principal Consultant at PfrommerNow.

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Lifetime Warranties on the Most Vital Parts of Each Model. Not believing any vaporizer should see the bottom of a junk drawer, replacement parts for all AccuVape models are available in-store or online. AccuVape also warranties the most vulnerable parts of each vaporizer, insuring when someone buys an AccuVape product, they can enjoy it for life.

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Kitchen Recipes by Cheri Sicard • Photos by Mitch Mandell

This menu was created in honor of the four states— California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada—that recently joined the marijuana legalization club. Some of these dishes require a bit more time and expense to make than usual, but how often do we get to celebrate wins this big?

California: Cannabis Stuffed Avocado This recipe includes the finest Golden State crops: avocados, almonds, oranges and cannabis. A balsamic reduction dressing ties it all together and looks pretty on the plate. 3 large avocados 6 small clementine oranges, peeled and segmented 3 small Persian cucumbers, peeled and diced 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted 1 tsp. lemon juice 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp. cannabis-infused olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer until reduced by half. Set aside. Cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove pits. Score halves into small cubes, leaving outer shell intact. In a small bowl, mix together orange segments, cucumber, cilantro, almonds, lemon juice, canna-oil, salt and pepper. Toss and stuff into avocado shells. With a spoon, top each one with a generous dab of balsamic reduction, using more to decorate the plate. Serves 6.


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Maine: Bodacious Lobster Bisque This might seem to require a lot of work and expense just to make a soup, but it’s good and rich enough to serve as a main course. See Freedom Leaf Issue 8 for instructions on infusing cream. 1 Maine lobster, about 1-1/2 pounds 1 tbsp. olive oil 1 cup dry white wine 2 cups chicken stock 3 tbsp. butter 1/4 cup shallots, minced 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced 1/2 cup fresh tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped 1 tbsp. brandy

2 tbsp. raw white rice 2 tsp. tomato paste 1/4 tsp. dried thyme 2 tbsp. salt 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper 1 bay leaf 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice 1/3 cup cannabis-infused cream 6 cups water

Bring water and salt to a rolling boil in a large pot. Plunge lobster into pot and immediately cover and cook for 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove lobster. Save the water. When the lobster is cool enough to handle, use a knife and nutcracker to remove the meat from the shell. Try to leave the large claws intact. Break tail off from body. Rinse body cavity and save shell. Place tail on its back and use a sharp knife to carefully split the shell down the center. Pull the shell away from the tail and remove meat. Roughly chop tail meat and meat from lower part of claws. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and add lobster shells. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine and stir, followed by chicken stock and 2 cups of lobster water. Cook until reduced to about 3-1/2 cups. Strain out shells. Save the stock. Heat butter in the stock pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute before adding in the strained stock, tomato, brandy, rice, tomato paste, thyme, cayenne and bay leaf. Simmer for about 25 minutes. Remove bay leaf and use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot, or add in batches to a blender and puree—make sure the lid is on tight, and always start on the lowest speed. Return bisque to pot (if using blender), stir in lemon juice and cream, and heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls. Add chopped lobster meat. Serves 2.

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Massachusetts: Blazin’ Boston Cream Mini-Pies Massachusetts’ signature dessert is called a “pie,” but it’s most definitely a cake. This is a mini version of the classic custard-filled, chocolate-glazed confection, made in ramekins so that each person gets their own medicated pie.


2 tbsp. butter, plus more for greasing pan 4 tbsp. cannabis-infused butter 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup whole milk 3 large eggs 1/8 tsp. salt 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Nevada: Shrimp Kush Cocktail Nevada’s casinos have long lured tourists by tempting them with ridiculously low-priced versions of this ubiquitous appetizer, shrimp cocktail. It is, in fact, the Silver State’s most recognizable dish.

Cocktail Sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup 2 tbsp. prepared horseradish, more or less to taste 1/4 tsp. garlic, minced 1 tbsp. cannabis-infused olive or vegetable oil 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 1/4 tsp. black pepper Hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste


1-1/2 pounds cooked medium shrimp, chilled 3 cups celery, finely chopped 6 thin lemon slices Stir together all sauce ingredients until well combined. Add chopped celery to the bottom of six large-stemmed cocktail glasses—Margarita or large wine goblets work well. Spoon cocktail sauce over the celery. Balance cooked shrimp and lemon slices on the glass rim. Serves 6.


Pastry Cream:

3 egg yolks 1 cup whole milk 1/3 cup heavy cream 2 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces 1/4 cup sugar 1/8 tsp. salt 4 tsp. cornstarch 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze:

3/4 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup light corn syrup 8 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate

Prepare Pies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside. Butter and flour 12 small 1/2-cup ramekins. If you don’t have ramekins, use a muffin tin, in which case the recipe will make 16 smaller cupcake-size pies. Combine milk, cream, cannabutter and butter in a small saucepan set over low heat. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until very thick, about 4 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and beat in combined dry ingredients. Raise heat on milk/butter mixture,

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stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. With mixer on low, beat in hot liquid and mix just until blended and smooth. Divide batter between prepared ramekins or muffin cups. Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the pie comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare Pastry Cream:

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, salt and cornstarch. Set aside. Combine milk and cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and, whisking constantly, pour hot mixture in a slow, steady stream into the egg mixture. Be sure to keep rapidly whisking. Return to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for about 2–3 more minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla until melted and the mixture is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

Prepare Glaze:

Combine cream, corn syrup and chopped chocolate in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.


Cut each pie in half horizontally. Spoon a layer of chilled pastry cream over bottom half of cake and replace the top. Repeat with remaining cakes. Place filled cakes on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Add a generous spoonful of warm glaze to the middle of the cake top, allowing glaze to spread over the top of the cake and drip down the sides. Use the back of the spoon to help spread glaze if necessary. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Store extra pies up to three days in the fridge. Makes 12 servings. Cheri Sicard is author of The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook and Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women. Visit her blog at

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Pot for Pets CBD-infused animal treats are hot. By Erin Hiatt By now, most Americans are familiar with the healing properties of cannabis to treat human ailments like cancer, arthritis and anxiety. But what about treating our pets? Business is, in fact, booming for companies that manufacture pet treats made with cannabidiol (CBD), like Treatibles and RxCBD. Both brands craft consumables for canines. “Dogs have more receptors in their brains than any other animal,” says Julianna Carella, founder and CEO of Northern California-based Auntie Dolores, which makes a variety of cannabis edibles for humans and the Treatibles line of CBD pet products. “They’re more receptive than all the other animals to cannabinoids.” Dogs and humans both have endocannabinoid systems that process the cannabinoids in our brains. And just like humans, dogs have shown that they respond well to CBD, a cannabinoid with healing properties that lacks the high of THC. RxCBD, a 15-year-old Colorado pet-product company, added CBD to their products in 2014. Co-owner Debbie Cokes thinks the “no people food” rule should apply to a canine CBD product. “Some of these tinctures include cinnamon additives,” she points out. “One form of cinnamon is OK for a dog, but there’s another form that’s detrimental. Especially with a compromised animal, you want to deliver a pure product without additives and flavorings.”


Cokes and Carella both emphasize that proper dosing is key. From customer feedback, Carella has learned that 1 mg of CBD for every 10 pounds of pet weight is a good ratio. Treatibles CBD Pet Treats come in blueberry and pumpkin flavors, while RxCBD offers a gluten-free chicken flavor. Both companies’ products are natural and mostly organic. The FDA is keeping an eye on CBD pet-product companies, especially ones that promise cures, and warning letters were sent to Canna-Pet and Canna Companion in 2015. Cokes suggests that consumers research the sources of CBD used in pet products, and verify that a company has quality assurance and purity controls in place. Cokes says her CBD comes from Colorado and Europe; Carella’s CBD is from Europe as well. “We steer clear of anything that’s from China,” Carella says. “If it’s really low-priced, it could have heavy metals or bio-contaminants.” With the marijuana business growing by leaps and bounds, Carella thinks the future of pet CBD products looks bright. “We want to see more research,” she notes. “There’s no placebo effect here; animals can’t be persuaded by hocus-pocus. They’re just responding.” Adds Cokes: “As professionals in the CBD animal industry, we need to be very careful of over-promising or suggesting results.” Erin Hiatt writes about the cannabis industry. Follow her on Twitter @erinhiatt.

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ty bowl from your pocket, gesture to it dramatically and sigh deeply. At this point, they should start getting the hint.

Get the Gift of Weed

By Beth Mann ’Tis the season to receive needless junk. Whether it’s another salad spinner, a beer candle or fishbowl bookends (kind of cool, actually), you wonder why loved ones don’t A) know you better or B) give you something you can always use… like weed. Seriously, other than cash (not a check, since that requires effort), what’s better than the gift of green? But there’s a problem: It’s not that easy telling those in your life that your rations have run low and you’d like marijuana instead of an electric backscratcher this year. However, with a little tact and creativity, you can get your message heard loud and clear.


Tell friends that your dealer is going to Bora Bora for a tantric yoga retreat over the holidays, and you’re not sure how you’ll cope. You’ll try to white-knuckle it until January, but you’re not making any promises. When people ask you what you’re doing for the holidays, say: “Well, I know what I’m not doing.” Then pull an emp-


If friends and family haven’t gotten the drift by now, send them suggestive photos of a lonely bong stored in an empty closet, or rolling papers blowing aimlessly in the wind. Wear a T-shirt that reads “Smoke Me Out, Stranger,” or, “I Haven’t Been This Sober Since Probation.”

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Don’t be ashamed to ask the nonsmokers in your life for a little weed sack, as well. You never know if Aunt Harriet might have a secret stash, or if the UPS man makes “special” deliveries. Remind family members that you’re infinitely abler to manage their dysfunctional antics when you’re stoned out of your gourd. If they can’t supply you, you can tell them that you may have to resort to booze, and that’s when things could get real ugly, real quick.


Gift yourself a plane ticket to Colorado or to one of the other weed-legal states.

If these techniques don’t work and you still haven’t received green goodness for the holidays, make sure others witness your disappointment. Whether it’s an ugly sweater or a pack of socks, ask the giver: “But can I smoke this?” Beth Mann is the President of Hot Buttered Media.

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How to


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Wax nostalgic with the fellow tokers in your life. Talk about the “good old days” when you had a surplus of weed to go around. Tear up a little for added effect.

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h W

Le I at

By Ch r

arned a tt

h e

n o s is Thomp

Doctors go to medical school and lawyers go to law school, but where do aspiring cannabis industry professionals go? To Oaksterdam University, of course.


aksterdam University, the world’s foremost cannabis education institution, was founded in 2007 in Oakland, Calif. Since then, it’s grown into an internationally recognized college, with more than 30,000 graduates of 12-week courses on the main Oakland campus and educational seminars in cities around the country.


Last month, I attended the four-day Oaksterdam indoor horticulture seminar at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas. Having been out of college for only six months, I’d already just about completely forgotten what it was like to be a student, and had no idea what to expect when class started on the first day of the seminar. I walked into the convention hall, collected my textbooks and saw more than a hundred other attendees waiting for the program to begin. After opening remarks by

december 2016

december 2016


Dean of Faculty Dr. Aseem Sappal, we jumped right into the marijuana material. The first lecture was given by attorney Amanda Conner, who discussed the various legal issues that people entering the cannabis industry often face. The topics included land zoning, production permits, odor control, waste disposal and security measures. The importance of doing research and making sure you know the local laws was emphasized, since each adult-use or medical state has their own set of regulations. The bulk of the seminar was devoted to growing cannabis. We learned horticulture basics like nutrients, watering, growth cycles, seed germination and transplanting; it brought back memories of freshman botany lectures at Purdue. Other subjects were completely new to me, such as how to design a grow room, and the differences between growing seeds and clones. A large amount of time was spent on the different types of grow mediums to choose from, and weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each. Instructors Jeff Jones and Joey Ereneta also focused on the flowering stage, and how to optimize the plant for the best buds. There was so much information that I’m pretty sure I learned more in two days at Oaksterdam than I did in some of my full-semester courses at Purdue. Besides the sheer amount of content, what really impressed me about Oaksterdam was the excellent teaching staff. All three of the instructors were extremely knowledgeable, and took time to answer every question they were asked. Connor has more than 15 years of experience as a lawyer, and the grow instructors each have more than 20 years of horticulture experience. They were funny, friendly and encouraged questions from the


students, and there wasn’t a single inquiry the instructors failed to adequately answer. The students attending the seminar represented diverse professional backgrounds and ethnicities. One student I met designs and operates lighting systems for various shows in Vegas, and wanted to apply his illumination knowledge to grow rooms. An American military veteran, who attended thanks to Oaksterdam’s Veterans Day scholarship, was seeking a new career. Two other students were cannabis activists from Guam, looking to bring their newly acquired knowledge and experience back to friends, family and colleagues on the island territory. While some were completely new to cannabis, others were already master growers, sent to the seminar by their production companies to brush up on the fine points. “I know 90% of the material they’re giving, but that last 10% is priceless,” one of the growers told me. “I got every single question I had answered.” After attending the Las Vegas seminar, a large part of me definitely wished I’d pursued the very affordable Oaksterdam certification rather than a four-year engineering degree at Purdue, complete with pricey student loans. The complete Oaksterdam seminar costs $1,095; you can also attend the first part of the seminar for $695. Their semesters at the Oaksterdam campus run from $695–$1,645. They held a seminar in New York on Dec. 3–6, and have yet to announce where seminars will take place in 2017. But here is one exclusive tip Dr. Sappal told me: “We’re very excited to start expanding to provide even more cannabis education through a new Las Vegas campus and online courses that will be coming very soon.” Chris Thompson is Freedom Leaf’s Community and Nonprofit Manager.

december 2016

december 2016


The Pretenders Meet the Black Keys on Alone By Roy Trakin Chrissie Hynde pretty much does what she wants. Midway through what was supposed to be the follow-up to her 2014 solo debut, Stockholm, she switched gears and decided to record the first Pretenders album since 2008’s Break Up the Concrete. But with the band’s original bassist, Pete Farndon, and guitarist, James Honeyman-Scott, both long gone from drug overdoses, and drummer Martin Chambers not involved, Hynde truly goes it Alone on their 10th album. She actually has plenty of company. Alone was produced by fellow Akron, Ohio native and Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach at his Easy Eye Studio in Nashville, with the help of some of Music City’s top players—bassist Dave Rose, pedal steel pioneer Russ Pahl and guitarist Kenny Vaughan—along with keyboardist Leon Michels and drummer Richard Swift from Auerbach’s side project, the Arcs. The resulting sound is vintage Pretenders through the prism of ’50s rockabilly, ’60s British-Invasion rock and modern-day EDM. Hynde explores her own isolation on the first half-dozen songs. She admits to having loved the “Roadie Man,” reveals her inability to find lasting romance on “Gotta Wait” (a direct descendant of the Pretenders’ “Back in the Chain Gang”) and knowingly croons, “I get high just a little/Now I found you,” on “Let’s Get Lost.” After “Chord Lord”—another roller coaster of emotions (“Couldn’t even get in the dance/In fact, I didn’t stand a chance”)—Hynde flips the script with the Dylanesque calm of “Blue Eyed Sky,” the


Ohioans Chrissie Hynde and Dan Auerbach teamed up on the new Pretenders album.

confessional “The Man You Are” and a Latin-flavored shuffle, “One More Day.” Even on the self-deprecating “I Hate Myself,” the singer admits what she hates most is hating someone else. By the time Hynde gets to the next-to-last track, “Death Is Not Enough,” her vulnerability is completely exposed: “Hold my hand and pull me through/When the going gets too rough/I’m the one to mellow you.” Auerbach does a fine job of expanding on that instantly recognizable Pretenders blueprint, nowhere more so than on the finale, “Holy Commotion,” which dips a toe into the keyboard-based electronic music he’s worked into the Black Keys’ propulsive blues-based palette. “I want to dance all night,” Hynde coos, tapping both the yearning of Julie Andrews and the ferocity of Ronnie Spector in one refrain: “Oh, be my baby.” Alone gives us a peak at the woman beneath the bravado. Chrissie Hynde is no Pretender even as she returns to calling herself one. Roy Trakin is the former Senior Editor of HITS magazine.

december 2016


december 2016


By John Fortunato Washington, D.C.based SOJA (Soldiers of Jah Army)—one of the best and most popular American reggae bands, making the rounds since 2002—have rallied behind the current roots revival championing Jamaica’s greatest export. An eight-member crew led by schoolyard pals Jacob Hemphill (singer/songwriter/guitarist) and Bob Jefferson (bass), these Bob Marley disciples have spread their positive vibrations worldwide. After six solid studio recordings and several EPs, SOJA return with a capacious 14-song roundup, Live in Virginia, recorded at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va. this past summer. Opening with their flagship anthem, “Creeping In,” the set scintillates from start to finish. SOJA choose uplifting positivity over political condemnation, and earnestly rejoice by praising peace, love and understanding. They reprise the glorious chantey, “I Believe,” a dignified brass-spiked ode about global freedom first waxed on their 2014 release, Amid the Noise and Haste, and further upliftment comes via “Lucid Dream,” a focused meditation promoting love. Never afraid to rise up against hatred and fear, SOJA’s most politically charged lament, “Tear It Down,” challenges



SOJA Mix It Up on Live in Virginia

SOJA frontman Jacob Hemphill. repressive money-hungry politicians “who can’t even figure out same-sex marriages.” Highlighting more wrongful societal woes, “Born in Babylon” stares down prejudice with utmost conviction, proclaiming, “You just got to be free/Shackles on your feet that you and me can’t see/But you can feel them and they heavy.” The audience sings along with Hemphill on the heartfelt chorus to “Rest of My Life,” a thankful paean to longtime SOJA fans. A full-blown rocker, “Sorry”—enlivened by rollicking guitar, blustery sax and storming drums—features Hemphill’s mid-song homage to the Grateful Dead. While simple songs of freedom (the soothingly liberating “Open My Eyes”) dominate this first official live SOJA record, the band temporarily breaks away from social commentary with a few compelling sidesteps, such as the tribal African breakdown, “Samba,” and the giddy “She Still Loves Me,” featuring burlyvoiced Bermudian reggae artist Collie Buddz. Both songs expand the parameters of SOJA’s loose musical boundaries, as does the rap-heavy finale, “Promise and Pills,” which pairs Hemphill with Alfred The MC. Hemphill’s sensitivity and righteousness shine through on Live in Virginia. He’s never melodramatic, fiercely rebellious or overly demonstrative, relying instead on good vibes to get SOJA’s earnest message across. Roots descendants SOJA have clearly validated their stylistic interpretation with compelling originals now spanning more than a decade. John Fortunato is the publisher of the website  

december 2016

december 2016



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CannaCon will take place in Seattle on Feb. 16–18.

The Emerald Cup Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, CA


The Errl Cup American Legion, Tempe, AZ


Arcview Investor Forum Los Angeles


BIG Industry Show Los Angeles Convention Center

American Glass Expo Alexis Park Resort, Las Vegas

The Secret Cup Finals Las Vegas

Indo Expo Denver Mart


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NCIA Seed to Sale Show Colorado Convention Center, Denver

Women Grow Leadership Summit Denver

The Emerald Conference Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, San Diego

CHAMPS Trade Show Las Vegas Convention Center

International Cannabis Business Conference Hilton Union Square, San Francisco CannaCon Pier 91, Seattle

For more events, go to: events. december 2016

Songwriter. Outlaw. Legend.

At last, Willie tells the whole story. Download Willie’s original song “It’s a Long Story” at Free with proof of purchase. LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY

On sale now in hardcover, ebook, audio, and large print wherever books are sold

december 2016

l i t t l e b row n .c o m Hachette Book Group



december 2016

december 2016





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december 2016

Freedom Leaf Magazine - Issue 21  

Women of the Year, Interview with Oaksterdam University's Dale Sky Jones, Pot for Pets, How Prop 64 Won

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