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grow. heal. learn. enjoy.



| 1974-2017


10 our crew / 12 from the publisher / 14 own it / 16 ask a grower / 36 ask a nurse / 76 consultant's corner / 98 the chill list





Wet and Dry Trimming


Cannabis and Mental Health


Cannabis Trellising


Transitioning with Weed


Strengthening Your Roots


Jennifer Huse's Story


Proficiency and Accreditation in the Cannabis Industry


Cut and Dried

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learn. 54

Common Cooling Myths


Topstone Vaporizer


Modern Cannabis Branding


Professional Training in the Cannabis Industry


Strain Hunters: The Search Continues



Back to the Future: The Origins of Cannabis


Eat Your Greens: Cannabis the Nutrient-rich Superfood


Five Cannabis Beauty Products


Baking a Fool of Myself: Cannabis Cooking Shows

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our crew

Chris Bond Julie Chadwick Jessica Ferneyhough Colleen Graham Kent Gruetzmacher Lee G. Lyzit Cory Hughes Stephen Keen Jodi McDonald Kyle Ladenburger Sharon Letts Dave O. Rama William Tremblay Watermelon Rachel Wilde

Published by

June/July 2017

volume 6 - number 6


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Hydrolife Magazine 3773 Howard Hughes Parkway South Tower, Suite 500 Las Vegas, Nevada 89169

Inquiries to

No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission from the publisher. The views expressed by columnists are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Hydrolife or the editor.

Printed in Canada Distribution P.A.I.N. Distribution | 310.488.1911

from the publisher

FRANCO LOJA 1974-2017

“This plant has the power to overthrow governments and change the world.”


arijuana, be it medicinal or recreational, still has a long way to go to shake the stigma it has endured for decades in North America. It continues to be an industry struggling to capture acceptance and credibility despite its recent progress. This reality is perhaps just one of the reasons why losing Strain Hunter Franco Loja to cerebral malaria in January at the age of 42 was both a shock and a setback for the industry. Loja and his fellow Strain Hunter, Arjan Roskam, emerged as two of the plant’s biggest ambassadors over the past few years. Their popular documentaries are designed to show the value of the cannabis plant and how it can positively impact people in different historical, geographical, political, and economic contexts. In the exotic locales they visited, searching for landraces in order to preserve them and share them, they went far beyond serving their own purposes. When local labor was required, Loja and Roskam would agree to pay locals 10 times the average wage, plus perks. They treated people and resources with the utmost respect, and they found ways to build bridges to foreign cultures and governments. “We want to share knowledge and awareness to fight the ignorance that surrounds cannabis,” states their mission on their Green House Seed Co. website. That ignorance runs deep. With billions of dollars of revenue on the line, the expected race to profits casts an ignorant shadow by government and corporations alike. This, of course, only breeds resentment and exclusion. Because of their inclusive approach, the Strain Hunters achieved a high status in the countries they visited. The corporate direction the cannabis industry is being nudged toward in North America will not generate the same fanfare here. Sharing knowledge and profits does not seem to part of the mandate. Losing Loja was a blow to the demonstration of how diplomacy with respect to cannabis can be achieved. Fortunately, Roskam and the remaining Strain Hunters crew have vowed to continue their work. Which approach will win? Hard to say, but as an old man once told Roskam, “This plant has the power to overthrow governments and change the world.” For our story on Loja’s death and the Strain Hunters’ vow to continue, please see page 70.


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own it

3 1 4 2

own it 1. Hmbldt Dose Pens

has six CBD- and THCrich targeted formulas to provide functional benefits to its customers. Based on the science behind the plant, hmbldt offers formulas for relief, calm, sleep, and bliss, as well as new formulas for passion and arouse. The products are designed to work with a patient’s physiology via their endocannabinoid system, and are delivered as precise dosages through the company’s proprietary dosage pen.


2. Designed by Werner

Aisslinger in the tradition of monobloc stackable chairs, these Hemp Chairs are lightweight, strong, and eco-friendly. More than 70 per cent natural fibers are used in combination with a water-based acrylic resin that releases no organic substances like phenol or formaldehyde during the cross-linking process. The only by-product of the curing procedure is water. The process of compression molding also makes the chairs low-cost to mass produce. —

3. Okay, it’s expensive, but

it’s also gorgeous. And it’s two items in one! Tetra’s

Octahedrom Table Lighter and Ashtray Set is made from hand-

cast and hand-polished dichroic bollicine glass that stacks together to become a sculpture when not in use. In different lighting or positions, the glass appears to be purple, aqua, or lavender. Designed by Andrew O. Hughes, the company also offers a plethora of crazybeautiful smoking accessories: try out their 24-karat gold Fetish Ashtray to match your gold rolling papers (see #7).

4. Cannabis-infused soda

is fast becoming a more popular edible in the cannabis market, and Keef Cola out of Colorado is set to ride the wave with a slew of drinks infused with THC, as well as vitamins C and B3, 6, and 12. Along with the original Keef Cola, their line includes flavors like Cherry Bomb and Bubba Kush Root Beer, which won the 2015 High Times Cannabis Cup for Best Edible. —



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8 6

7 5. Vans has a bunch of new

arrivals added to its already sizable line of hemp

sneakers and slip-ons. Styles and colors range from Rasta to classic nubby beige, but they also lean towards the contemporary with items like this subtle hemp linen slip-on in “winsome orchid.” Done in Vans' classic style, it features low-profile slip-on textile uppers, padded collars, elastic side accents, and its signature rubber waffle outsoles. —

6. Popped with cannabisinfused coconut oil, Korova’s White

Cheddar Popcorn

7. Famous for their 24-karat

gold rolling papers, Shine also have another product for you high rollers: White

packs a 300 mg THC punch. Known for their baked cannabis brownies and cookies, this is a welcome addition to their edibles line. The only problem might be overconsumption as you head into munchies territory and want more.

Gold Rolling Papers.



A mix of slow-burning pure edible silver and gold on a hemp-blend base, it offers, in their words, “luxury at your fingertips.” Apparently they get asked all the time if the gold that gets left behind in the ashtray can be pawned, but no, it can’t.

8. Represent your favorite

strain with these North Coast Growers Label Tees by Slow Loris Studio.

Each colorful, whimsical label is printed on a soft, lightweight, 100 per cent unisex cotton tee. Shirt sizes from XS-XXXL are available. Visit Slow Loris’s website to see a sizing chart and all the label options, which include Chemdawg (pictured), Acapulco Gold, Harlequin, White Russian, Gorilla Glue, Blue Bird, and Death Star. —

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ask a grower



Hi, What are the commercial options for mediums and lights (HPS or LED)? I have 17,000 sq. ft. Do I need 300 lights or more? Also, how should I set up the clone/mother room? Should I have trays or just pots, no trays? I’m looking to veg in three weeks, ideally, or four weeks, max.


Paul, Thank you for your questions. First, when setting up a commercial growing facility, remember that automation is your best friend. The more equipment in the garden that can be automated, the better. This automation will, in turn, reduce the amount of work that you must do. In many ways, the choice of medium and growing system comes down to the grower’s personal preference. Just about any growing medium can be used successfully. However, when gardening on a large scale, logistics—including disposal of the medium—should be considered. Stone wool is lightweight and easy to transport, making it a good choice for large-scale gardens. It is also a great medium for top feed systems, which are the preferred system for growers with commercial-sized operations. Top feed systems with trays or troughs are easiest to automate on a large scale. Still, while stone wool is commonly used by large-scale

commercial growers using this type of system, any soilless medium can be used just as effectively with a top feed set-up. The simplest way to determine the horticultural lighting requirements for a commercial garden is to think in terms of watts (W) per square foot of space. The typical high-performance indoor garden will provide 40-50W of artificial light per square foot of garden space. It is important to remember that we are talking about actual garden space, not the total square footage of the room. Assuming your 17,000-square-foot facility will be filled wall-to-wall with plants, you should plan on providing a minimum of 680,000W of light (for example, you could use 680 1,000W HID lighting systems). You could possibly reduce the total wattage required if you are using induction or LED lighting systems in place of HID lighting systems. Induction lighting systems and LED are more efficient at converting electricity into photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), which means they can provide the same usable energy as other technologies while consuming less

Lee G. Lyzit has been involved in the medical cannabis industry for nearly 15 years. His passion for natural healing drives him to learn as much as he can about the miraculous cannabis plant. Lee breeds his own strains of cannabis to create concentrated glycerine and coconut oil extracts. Aside from cannabis education and consumption, Lee enjoys playing music, gardening, hiking, and cross-country skiing.


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electricity. That being said, intensity is crucial to the development of large fruits or flowers, which is why HIDs still remain the most popular choice for large-scale commercial gardens. How long the plants are kept in the vegetative stage depends completely on how large you want them before initiating the flowering cycle. For most indoor growers, the desired size can be achieved in three to four weeks of vegetative growth. For the cloning stage, again, automation will be a big factor in reducing labor and increasing efficiency. A dedicated cloning space complete with temperature, humidity, watering, and lighting automation will go a long way in making the transitions of a perpetual garden smooth. The mother plant(s), however, are typically kept in a soil container and in a separate area or room. Keep on Growing, Lee G. Lyzit

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR A GROWER? Email to get an answer.


SOME LIKE IT by Lee G. Lyzit

Wet? Dry? Fast? Slow? Hand? Machine? Ask 20 different people and you’ll get 20 different preferences. Lee G. Lyzit explores the art of trimming, the most intimate part of the cultivation process. (What did you think we were talking about?)


fter waiting patiently for marijuana trichomes to reach their peak cannabinoid content, which indicates the crop has finished flowering, it’s finally time to harvest. Just like many other areas of cannabis cultivation, there is more than one right way to harvest a marijuana crop. After cutting down a marijuana plant, a grower must decide whether to begin the trimming process immediately (while the plant is still wet) or to dry the plant before trimming. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. What works for one grower in his or her particular situation may not be the best option for another grower. Growers should approach this choice knowing that neither method is definitively right or wrong. In other words, the advantages and disadvantages of each method should be examined by a gardener to determine which choice fits best.


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The first stage of the harvest process is to remove the large fan leaves. This should be done before implementing either a wet or dry trimming method. These leaves can be plucked by hand, cut with scissors, or removed with an automatic trimmer, such as a hand-held hedge trimmer. The concentration of cannabinoids is not as high in the fan leaves and, therefore, many growers find them expendable. The fan leaves are not to be confused with the sugar leaves, which are found close to the flowers and contain a fair amount of cannabinoids. Sugar leaves should be saved for making cannabinoid extractions.


many other areas of cannabis cultivation, there is more than one right way to harvest a marijuana crop.“


A grower begins wet trimming as soon as the marijuana plants are cut down. The biggest advantage of wet trimming, assuming the trimming will be done by hand, is that it can be done more quickly than dry trimming. Wet trimming is faster than dry trimming because most the plant material that will be removed is perpendicular to the flowers. This makes it easy to access and trim with scissors. Sugar leaves close to the flowers are easier to access when they are wet because they are not stuck to the flowers. Although most trim machines are made for dry flowers, there are automated tools for wet trimming. Some marijuana growers utilize the same hand-held hedge trimmers used for fan leaf removal to speed up the wet trimming process.


Dry trimming occurs after the marijuana plants have been hung and dried. When done by hand, dry trimming can be a tedious and slow process. This is because the leaves that need to be removed are now stuck against the sides of the flowers. Large grow operations may require a plethora of hired hands to help during the trimming process. Hired hands are not only costly, but also require micromanagement and increased security measures. This is why many serious marijuana growers invest in commercial trim machines, which automatically trim cannabis flowers. Most of these devices require the flowers to be dried. Remember, though, not all trim machines are created equal. Some trim machines operate at radically high RPMs, which not only creates a lot of noise, but can potentially damage the quality of the finished product. Other trim machines “over cut” and leave the final product looking less than desirable. As can be imagined, a trim machine can also quickly become gummed up with resin from the cannabis. The best trim machines are easily dismantled and cleaned for quick and effective maintenance. It is a good idea for a grower to demo, or at least watch demos on the internet, of the trim machine being considered. Seeing the trim machine in action is the only way to gauge how effective and fast it really is.


After the wet or dry trimming of marijuana flowers, a grower will be left with a pile of leftover trim material. This material can be easily converted into usable extracts using little more than household items. There are also more complex methods. A quick search on the internet can provide a grower with detailed instructions on how to turn trim material into usable products. Of course, a grower should consider his or her limitations before making extracts. In other words, if you are not


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grow familiar with the proper safety procedures required to make solvent extractions, choose a different, less combustible method. It is not worth blowing up over an extraction. Choosing between wet or dry trimming ultimately comes down to the personal preferences of the marijuana gardener. For many hobbyist growers, hand trimming is no big deal and can actually be fun. These growers can easily experiment with both wet and dry trimming methods and see which they prefer. For most commercial growers, trimming is a tedious and timeconsuming task that needs to be streamlined as much as possible. For these growers, automation is an important component in the harvesting process. In many cases, the automation devices available to the grower will determine the trimming process. At the end of the day, wet or dry trimming techniques, when done correctly, can produce a high-quality finished product.

Lee G. Lyzit has been involved in the medical cannabis industry for nearly 15 years. His passion for natural healing drives him to learn as much as he can about the miraculous cannabis plant. Lee breeds his own strains of cannabis to create concentrated glycerine and coconut oil extracts. Aside from cannabis education and consumption, Lee enjoys playing music, gardening, hiking, and cross-country skiing.


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TRELLISING OUTDOOR CANNABIS PLANTS by Kyle Ladenburger If your growroom’s parameters are on point, indoor cannabis has a pretty cushy life. Its outdoor cousins, on the other hand, have to deal with the whims of Mother Nature. Thankfully, there is a way you can (literally) give your plein-air plants support: trellising.


f you grow cannabis indoors or in greenhouses, you have a lot of control over your plants. You can manipulate the amount of light a plant receives, which in turn can shorten the plants’ growth cycle from seed/clone to harvest significantly. It also results in relatively smaller plants. Growing cannabis in the great outdoors is a completely different story, as the plants are subject to the whims of nature itself. Flowering does not occur until the seasons change at midsummer, resulting in a much longer growing season (the outdoor growing cycle can easily reach anywhere from six to nine months, as opposed to three months indoors). This means outdoor cannabis can get quite big, as most cannabis varieties are genetically predisposed to grow rather large. One way to have a better grasp on your plants is to grow in containers instead of natural soil. This way, you can control what is in the growing media and avoid any possible inconsistencies or contaminants that may be present in the soil. However, anyone who has grown any type of plant in containers outdoors will know that they are prone to toppling over, for one reason or another. Strong winds, heavy storms, or just the sheer top weight of the plant itself can be enough to cause the container to tip over. Utilizing a larger container size can help add extra stability, but even that can cause problems. If the plant falls over and the container stays upright, the stems can bend and even snap. An unexpected fall can lead to significant plant stress that can hinder overall production or yield and, in the worst cases, even total plant loss. Losing a plant to something as simple as it falling over is a foolish way to ruin a crop. Therefore, it’s important to have a strong, reliable plant support system. Below, I’ve outlined one way you can support your outdoor cannabis plants. This system is designed for and works best with larger fabric aeration containers, ranging from 100 to 1,000 gallons in size.




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A large, heavy-duty tomato cage is at the center of this system and it will provide the internal support for the main stem and branches. Install the tomato cage at the time of transplanting to avoid damaging the growing root system.


Install four metal T-posts equally spaced around the container (if an imaginary line is drawn from post to post, it would create a square around the circular container). Depending on the container size, the T-posts should be anywhere from six to 10 feet in length and anchored deep enough into the ground to provide maximum stability. The T-posts are responsible for holding the entire structure upright, so do not cut corners with this step. To provide an extra level of support, the initial support caging can be tied to each of the T-posts.


The horizontal trellising will have the job of supporting the upper branches of the plant, so use wire fencing or heavy-duty vinyl-coated wire caging with four to six-inch square holes as these will be strong enough to support the weight of the flowering plant. Cut your chosen wire material into one or two square pieces large enough to touch the T-posts. Just above the tomato cage, hang the first square of caging horizontally by tying the corners to the T-posts with wire or a strong gardening twine. It is important that the horizontal trellising be as secure as possible to ensure proper support of the upper branches. For enhanced support, install a secondary horizontal trellis about one or two feet above the first. Each section of the horizontal trellising should be in place before the growing branches reach it. This will allow them to easily grow into the caging’s holes.


The outer caging is there to help support the outward, lateral growing branches. Use the same wire fencing or heavy-duty vinyl-coated wire caging that was used to create the horizontal trellising. Cut the caging material so that each piece fits in the spaces between the T-posts, forming a square box. The outer caging should be installed about one or two feet above the top of the container—to allow easy access for regular maintenance such as pruning or watering—and reach the top of the T-posts. Secure the outer caging tightly to the T-posts in several different spots. Much like the horizontal trellising, the outer portion of the support system should be in place before the branches reach this point so they can easily grow into the caging’s holes. A lot of hard work and preparation goes into the cultivation of a successful cannabis crop. The best way to avoid failure is by taking the necessary steps to prevent unwanted occurrences in the garden. A plant falling over from a strong gust of wind, or branches breaking from the sheer weight of ripening flowers, is a disheartening way to lose a portion (or all) of a crop. Especially since this type of failure can be easily prevented. Using this simple method of plant and container stabilization will help ensure that your plant will stay upright throughout the season and give you one less thing to worry about.

Kyle L. Ladenburger is a passionate indoor and outdoor gardener. He is also a freelance garden writer. With nearly 10 years in the industry working for Age Old Organics, he is well-versed in numerous growing methods with a focus on soil health.

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The root system of a plant is where essential nutrients are absorbed and distributed to the rest of the plant. As a plant grows and develops, so does the root mass. Indoor horticulturists who focus their energy on promoting and maintaining a healthy root system are more likely to have less problems and larger yields each garden cycle.


ndoor growers constantly strive to find techniques and products that will help increase their garden’s yields. Common sense will tell you that a plant with a strong and healthy root structure is more likely to have strong and healthy stems, leaves, and flowers. Simply put, healthy roots will equate to more bountiful harvests. Unfortunately, indoor growers do not always give a plant’s root system the attention it deserves. It is like the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” Because the roots are generally hidden from a horticulturist’s view, they can often be forgotten. Growers who focus some of their energy on making the plant’s root system thrive will usually have better yields and less problems overall. There are a few different ways for an indoor grower to help stimulate root growth and maintain a healthy root mass.


Many growers don’t think about the important fact that plants need oxygen to thrive and survive. Most of us think of plants as living organisms that produce oxygen during photosynthesis (a process that requires CO2) and not as organisms that also need oxygen to grow. Like other organisms, plants need oxygen to perform cellular respiration. Roots grow like other parts of the plant, but since they are under soil or contained in a hydroponic system, they are not exposed to light and cannot photosynthesize. Instead, they gain energy for growth by cellular respiration, which requires oxygen and releases CO2. This is why a plant’s root mass must be exposed to some form of oxygen. For soil growers, the soil’s texture will determine the amount of open spaces for air (oxygen). In hydroponic systems, such as deep water culture where the plant’s roots are submersed in water, the roots will rely on dissolved oxygen found in the nutrient solution. This dissolved oxygen will need to be replenished as the plant uses it. In both soil and hydroponic systems, if there is not a sufficient supply of oxygen, the roots will not be able to survive and will die off, eventually killing the entire plant.


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grow How to Increase Oxygen for the Root System in Soil

To increase a soil’s oxygen capacity, a grower can add a variety of soil amendments. Perlite, pumice, hydroton, or any other porous substance can significantly increase a soil’s ability to harbor oxygen. Coco coir is another soil amendment praised for its ability to not only hold oxygen, but also have good water retention. Most prepackaged soil mixes will contain at least one amendment aimed at increasing aeration. However, it is not a bad idea for indoor growers to add more aeration amendments to a soil mix. In fact, well-aerated soil can provide two advantages. First, well-aerated soil increases the soil’s ability to hold oxygen, thus providing the plant’s root system with all the oxygen it needs to grow and flourish. Second, well-aerated soil will need to be watered more frequently, which gives the indoor horticulturist the opportunity to implement a more aggressive feeding regiment. A good rule of thumb is to mix three to four parts prepackaged soil to one part perlite or other aerating amendment. This ratio will create a fast-draining soil that can hold a high amount of oxygen.

How to Increase Oxygen for the Root System in a Hydroponic System


It is crucial in hydroponic systems to focus on the temperature of the nutrient solution and mechanical aeration. The nutrient solution is usually contained in a reservoir, which needs to be mechanically aerated. Submersible pumps or air pumps that inject air into the reservoir are the best ways to replenish dissolved oxygen. Temperature is another crucial factor affecting the dissolved oxygen content of the nutrient solution. The ideal temperature for most hydroponic systems falls in the 65-70°F range. As the water temperature creeps above 75°F, its ability to hold oxygen diminishes. This is why water chillers are an essential piece of hardware for any hydroponic system where the roots are fully submersed. In other hydroponic systems, the plant’s root system will be contained within some sort of inert medium. There are many different hydroponic specific media available and they all have one thing in common: the ability to hold a good amount of oxygen.


Aside from increasing the amount of oxygen provided to a plant’s root system, a grower can pay attention to the nutrients that will play a role in root health. A good blooming fertilizer will usually contain the nutrients needed for healthy root growth. Phosphorus and potassium are the two main nutrients associated with root growth. Many growers like to use a blooming base fertilizer in the clone and early growth stages. A blooming base fertilizer is likely to contain a higher ratio of phosphorus and potassium to nitrogen than a vegetative base fertilizer. Phosphorus and potassium encourage plants to put out new root shoots and help to strengthen existing roots as they continue to develop. A diluted bloom fertilizer (one-quarter normal strength) makes a great nutrient solution for aerobic clone machines or for conditioning stone wool or other clone media.


Plant hormones, known as auxins, can also be used to stimulate root growth. A couple of hormones commonly found in rooting gels are indole butyric acid and naphthylacetic acid. These two hormones are considered root stimulators. Although some growers will use these hormones to stimulate root growth in early vegetative stages, I have only used them to stimulate new roots on cuttings. Auxins are known to promote lateral root development so they are more suitable for cuttings versus seeds.


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There is a vast invisible world living in and around the root system of virtually every plant on the planet. This microscopic world is made up of millions of bacteria and fungi that have evolved to have synergistic relationships with plants. Beneficial microorganisms are associated with root enhancement and overall plant growth enhancement. The most commonly used beneficial microorganisms supplemented by indoor growers are types of beneficial fungi and beneficial bacteria.

Mycorrhizae (Fungi)


Mycorrhizae are naturally occurring fungi that form symbiotic relationships with more than 90 per cent of the world’s plant species. Mycorrhizae have even become a common additive in gardening products like prepackaged potting soils. Mycorrhizae fungi become an extension of the root system that can stretch far into the depths of the soil. This immediately broadens the plant’s access to vital nutrients and, therefore, increases growth. Mycorrhizae have synergistic relationships with the plant’s roots. The extending web of mycorrhizal fungi assimilates nutrients for the plant and, in return, the plant’s roots secrete sugars or carbon on which the fungi feed. Since the relationship between mycorrhizae and the plant’s roots is synergistic, it is safe to say that if a gardener has a healthy population of mycorrhizae in the soil or medium, he or she will usually have a healthy root system as well.

Trichoderma (Fungi)

Trichoderma are a group of fungi that are usually used by growers as a natural defense against root damaging pathogenic fungi. Trichoderma can work wonders against pathogenic fungi that could otherwise destroy a healthy root system. In fact, some of the most powerful root rot treatments available are formulas rich in trichoderma. Trichoderma can help maintain a healthy, vibrant root system by fending off potential threats. In most cases, trichoderma can be added to a feeding regiment to maintain a healthy trichoderma population. After all, if there aren’t enough pathogens for the trichoderma to feed on, their population will diminish (not a bad thing). However, by maintaining a healthy population of trichoderma, a horticulturist can nip pathogenic fungi in the bud before they can negatively affect a plant’s root system.

Beneficial Bacteria

As with beneficial fungi, bacteria can be added to the soil or medium to break down organic matter, facilitate nutrient uptake, and add protection against pathogens. One huge advantage of using beneficial bacteria in indoor horticulture is that bacteria can quickly colonize and explode in population. The larger the population of beneficial bacteria, the quicker they can destroy pathogenic microorganisms and/or break down organic matter. As with mycorrhizae, it is safe to say that if the soil has a bountiful population of beneficial bacteria, it is more likely to have a healthy root system. Providing plants with the right nutrients, hormones, and beneficial microorganisms are ways an indoor gardener can maximize the strength of a plant’s roots. Although mostly unseen, the root system of a plant is a huge factor in determining the overall success or failure of an indoor garden. At the end of the day, growers who spend the extra time on developing a strong, healthy root structure are more likely to achieve prolific yields and are less likely to encounter potentially devastating problems.


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grow The function of the third-party test lab is to ensure that the cannabis products sold meet safety and quality requirements for the patients who buy them. But who ensures that the labs are doing the right thing the right way with the samples they are entrusted with?


n the cannabis industry, an important step in protecting patients and consumers is testing. This step ensures that the products are of high quality; that is, they have consistent strength, have no microbial or chemical contaminants, and will generally be considered safe for consumer or patient use. Producers rely on third-party test labs to provide these services and quality data. Test labs use validated testing methods, but the methods vary between different labs, as do the quality programs. This leads us to an important question: how do producers know that the results they have are accurate and repeatable? One important way that labs can compare their test data to other labs is through an accreditation and proficiency testing program.





Who Watches the Watchmen?





cD M



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Accreditation is a way to identify labs that have the technical expertise to perform specific testing. It is also a way to formally recognize competent labs. It allows the customers a way to select reliable service providers for their testing needs based on the standing of the lab by the accrediting organization. Accreditation programs vary in how they are administered. The basic idea is that to achieve and maintain accreditation, a lab must show compliance with the requirements of the accrediting body. This includes an evaluation of the lab company and its testing records to ensure that it is performing its work correctly by using appropriate standards for testing and reporting results. It also provides the lab company an external benchmark to measure its competency. The Association of Commercial Cannabis Laboratories is a great example of an industry-specific accreditation organization. It reserves membership to labs operating in the cannabis industry. There is an assessment of scientific standards and practices, as well as a proficiency testing requirement. In Canada, there is not an industry-specific accreditation organization. However, Health Canada grants establishment licenses to testing laboratories based on very specific criteria for following intensive quality programs. When considering a choice between test labs, asking about the accreditation they each hold is important. Also consider what will happen when you send a sample in for testing and the results are not what you expect. How will the test lab respond to your results? A sample that fails a specification is the most important thing to understand in the quality of service a lab will provide.

Here are four important topics to bring up with a potential lab:

1 Ask about the training of the staff: is there a minimum level of education required for technical staff, do they have an on-going training requirement for the staff, do they maintain training records?

2 Ask about the equipment used for the testing: are the instruments and equipment in the lab maintained on a schedule, are the instruments qualified, are the methods validated, is a validation report available?

3 Ask about the materials used to perform the test: are the materials specified in

the testing procedures, are they ordered from a vendor that has been qualified by the test lab, are the materials documented in the testing records?

4 Ask about the procedure: has the procedure been validated, are the technologists trained, is there a competency or proficiency requirement for the procedure, what controls are used in the procedure and how often are they run?


This information is outlined by labs that follow a quality program. A lab that can provide you with answers and documentation for these questions will provide you with reliable, consistent test results.


An equally important program is proficiency testing as a demonstration of technical competence. Proficiency testing programs provide unknown samples to the participants for analysis. The results from the proficiency sample are sent back to the program coordinator and each lab is compared to other participating labs. This is an important tool for any lab. When a lab performs as expected, it shows that the lab is using a reliable method, the staff are trained sufficiently, and the instrumentation is operating as expected. When results from a proficiency test round are not what was expected, they provide important information to the participating lab about potential problems in the testing system.

A LAB THAT CAN provide you with answers

and documentation for these questions will provide you with reliable, consistent test results.“

Proficiency is an important assessment tool for a producer selecting a lab, too. This allows them an unbiased way to compare the reliability of the test methods between different labs. The proficiency data may not be publicly available, but if a lab is successfully participating in a proficiency program, they will be more than happy to share their results. Accreditation programs are useful and important to laboratories, producers, and patients. Through accreditation, the cannabis industry can standardize what requirements it recognizes as important in the testing process. Labs that participate in accreditation programs have a built-in mechanism to verify that they are doing the right things with the samples that they test, which adds credibility and value to their services. Accreditation builds confidence in the entire system— confidence in the results, the test labs, the producers who chose the test labs for their products, the products themselves—and most importantly, patients can be confident that they are selecting high-quality, consistent, safe products for their own use. At the end of the day, that is what matters.

Jodi McDonald is the president and founder of Keystone Labs and is a medical microbiologist, inventor, and super science-geek. She has 20 years’ experience in the quality control, regulatory, and quality assurance environment for the pharmaceutical industry. Jodi believes testing is essential for taking control of your personal health.


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Hi Nurse J, I have just been prescribed medical marijuana for anxiety and just secured a new receptionist job in a corporate environment that requires me to work with the public. I am concerned about how my prescription is going to affect my performance, and I want to remain professional. I did not disclose my marijuana use during the job interview. Any advice on how to address this situation? Courtney


Courtney, First off, congratulations on the new gig. Don’t forget to take your energetic cape to work to cover yourself from the tidal wave of emails rolling your way. Lucky duck. Receptionists have always been one of my favorite components of a business. Octopus reach, verbal improv specialists, and charismatically OCD. The great ones are invaluable to an organization. As for your cannabis prescription, my advice is to keep it to yourself at this new job for now. It is for no one other than yourself and your clinic. It’s completely up to you as to who you choose to enlighten with your diagnostic details. Same goes for dosing— less is more when it comes to information. Just have your medical identification on you or a photocopy of your ACMPR details (That’s what’s currently medical for us Canucks in Canada. If you live elsewhere, have the equivalent information with you). At work, stealth will begin to pulsate through your veins effortlessly when you’re protecting a secret that fills your tragedy. The people that share in the oneness also pulsate colorfully from the inside. You end up just knowing of one another anyhow. I find even the slightest pass of someone’s cannabis vibration can wash over you like fresh mountain winds dancing across fields of green. It makes the corporate dance doable. Only you can decide how your intake methods and strain choices affect your performance at work. Start early, get up and start the kettle with some sweet music and medicine of choice. When you bring the sun up for you and your balance, you honor the gentleness of your spirit. Be the tenderness that you seek and comfort your anxiousness with cannabis. Start medicating early with enough time to breathe. Activate your endocannabinoid system, have a hot shower, and a good breakfast. Put on your little cape for the corporate calling, and dance your Dolly Parton “9-5” until you get home to medicate in a nighttime way. It’s really a never-ending cycle of bliss if you let it be. Titrate with timing and specificity with intakes that make you feel comfortable in your skin. No one knows you like you do, start trusting in that. Finally, anxiety is often linked to deep-rooted fear, maybe check in with yourself about that. Are you journaling? Stretching and dancing lately? Even if it’s just alone in your living room, get your groove on. Medicate and celebrate the fact that your legally authorized to determine your treatment plan. Good luck out there, Courtney. Nurse J

Jessica Ferneyhough, a registered practical nurse, brings a unique approach to care, empowering patients as a medicinal cannabis nurse, and Horses for Healing advocate.


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heal b

yC B hris


Cannabis & Mental Health:



annabis and its derivatives have a clear use for the treatment of many physical ailments, from those undergoing chemotherapy, suffering from chronic pain, or with other recognized health issues. It helps with symptoms of nausea and supports weight gain for those who suffer from wasting diseases. Despite this it does not, however, do any favors for those suffering from mental health issues, and can often make instances of psychotic episodes more frequent and their severity more intense. Dozens of international studies over the past 30 years have looked at the relationships between cannabis use and sufferers of mood and anxiety disorders. For disorders such as major depression, bipolar, and dysthymia, cannabis exacerbates the symptoms and, in all probability, should not be used. For anxiety disorders that involve panic attacks, social anxieties, or phobias, cannabis can increase the incidence and severity of these and even cause their onset for those genetically predisposed to developing them. Sufferers of mild anxiety disorders who have other chronic symptoms that cannabis can be used to treat, should do so under the careful observation of a health care professional. In addition to the exaggeration of symptoms and frequency associated with cannabis use by those afflicted with mental health disorders, its use can also cause undesired secondary side effects and behavioral concerns.


Cannabis usage among individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia has been shown to increase the psychotic symptoms associated with the disorder. Symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking can become magnified with the use of cannabis. Wayne Hall’s 2014 paper, which reviewed and compared evidence from the previous two decades of research on the adverse health effects of cannabis, referenced a 15-year study on sufferers of schizophrenia in which “those who had used cannabis 10 or more times by age 18 were 2.3 times more likely to receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia than those who had not used cannabis.”


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Many people use cannabis to treat illnesses and disorders, or alleviate the disease symptoms. Others use it for the positive effect it has on their mood, or for relaxation. However, there are some cases in which the use of cannabis must be approached with extreme caution.

Instead of a 7-in-1,000 risk for non-users, users had a 14-in-1,000 risk. It should be noted, however, that as much of the data is from more than 20 years ago, changes in diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia may skew those numbers, but overall it illustrates a statistically significant increase.


There is wide consensus by medical practitioners and researchers that cannabis should not, under any circumstance, be used by individuals who suffer from mood disorders. These include but are not limited to repeated depressive episodes, major depression, bipolar disorders, and dysthymia. Studies have shown that cannabis usage occurs 1.5 times higher in depression sufferers than the general population. This could be due to individuals seeking to self-medicate before having an official diagnosis, but it usually leads to worsening the symptoms. Individuals that suffer from any of the bipolar disorders have been shown to have an increased frequency and duration of their manic episodes when they use marijuana as well.


Symptom severity and frequency of symptoms for individuals suffering from various anxiety disorders are increased by the usage of marijuana. Anxiety disorders include all types of social and general anxiety regardless of their severity. It should not be discounted entirely that there are incidences of “bidirectional causality” between cannabis users and those who suffer from symptoms of anxiety disorders. What this means is that some people seek the effects of cannabis due to their uneasiness about social interaction; as a result, they create a cycle where the symptoms of those same episodes are increased due to the cannabis usage. Public health studies from both New York and New Hampshire show that the effectiveness of an anxiety patient’s treatment improves when their use of cannabis ceases. Other studies concur that the effectiveness of behavioral therapy also improves if the patient ceases consumption of cannabis.


"Treatment is, of course, unique to individuals and certain remedies work for some and are ineffective for others."


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For as many studies that can be found to suggest there is no benefit to cannabis and no place for it in the treatment of mental health issues, there is an equal number if not more anecdotal evidence that suggest the contrary. Cannabis treatment has been an effective remedy for some sufferers of anxiety, especially PTSD, when prescribed selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have proven ineffective. Treatment is, of course, unique to individuals and certain remedies work for some and are ineffective for others. The bottom line is that cannabis is not the first thing to seek for mental health issues. If you have tried everything else, talk with your health care professional to see if your situation may be one of them in which cannabis can actually help your symptoms, instead of exacerbate them.

Chris Bond is the manager of the McKay Farm and Research Station at Unity College in Maine. His research interests are in sustainable agriculture, biological pest control, and alternative growing methods. He is a certified permaculture designer and certified nursery technician in Ohio and a certified nursery professional in New York, where he got his start in growing.



As Marval Rechsteiner made the transition from female to male, he turned to cannabis to help ease emotional and physical stress. Sharon Letts offers a glimpse into his journey.


urgery for any reason is traumatic. When it involves transitioning from one gender to another, however, physical pain and recovery is just one factor a patient must deal with. The emotional trials involved concerning friends, family, and loved ones can also play a huge role in healing physically and emotionally. If you are already suffering from PTSD from a lifetime of confusion, persecution, and rejection, the transition is that much harder. Marval A. Rechsteiner, who made the decision to transition from female to male after years of coming to terms with his natural masculinity, knows exactly what this feels like. That’s why the Salt Lake City native is grateful he attended university in Humboldt County, cannabis capital of the world, as that is where he found the medicine that helps him to this day. “Honestly, I can’t imagine going through any kind of surgery or emotional trauma without cannabis now,” he says.

“ Honestly, I can’t imagine going through any kind of surgery or emotional trauma without cannabis now.”


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Bullying, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and eating disorders are all things many LGBTQ individuals deal with on a daily basis from a very young age. This is even as gay, lesbian, and bisexual people become somewhat more accepted in mainstream society.

This acceptance, however, hasn’t fully extended to transgender or gender non-conforming individuals. Amidst a rising epidemic of murder and violence against transgendered people, they still even have a hard time fitting into the LGBTQ community. All of this is due largely to being perceived as “confused” for dressing, identifying with, or acting as a different gender. “From my own experience, and those of close friends who identify as queer, you grow up in a heightened state of anxiety or fear,” Rechsteiner says. “Those identifying as transgender get a special brand of fear-mongering because we aren’t even ‘normal’ looking to begin with.” Rechsteiner says that his “biology as a gender-bending person” caused him to be labelled an “outsider, freak, and rebel from a young age” while growing up in Salt Lake City in the ’90s. “I had crushes on the young girls my age and felt that the boys were often competitive and mean to each other. The strict gender norms of either male or female confused me greatly and caused me stress from a very early age. I began to disassociate with my body around the onset of adolescence, and high school became a time of secrets; secrets around the core of my identity and gender. Basically, as a teenager, I felt my body had betrayed me.”

Today, Rechsteiner says he knows that science has discovered people can be born with XXY or XO chromosomes instead of XX or XY chromosomes, and that some people assigned female gender at birth have more testosterone than others. He also feels that those with some differences in sex development may be born with genitals that doctors characterize as female at birth, but change around puberty. “Our bodies are complex and dynamic,” he surmises. “Our genital characteristics are just one component of who we are and do not define, medically or biologically, our sex. Additionally, all components of sex, from genitals to hormones to chromosomes, exist on a spectrum rather than as a binary.” This information, however, isn’t commonly accepted—or universally known—just yet. And so the bullying and selfhatred continues. Sometimes, the violence, stress, anxiety, and fear experienced by LGBTQ individuals can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs). For Rechsteiner, trigger points he had in relation to his gender identity caused him to experience this first-hand. “I’ll have a panic attack because of fear and internalized self-hatred that looks very much like a PTSD episode,” he says, adding that these episodes led him to realize that transitional surgery from female to male was necessary for him. “Other gender non-conforming people have told me of similar attacks, where it feels like the world is about to collapse in on them. Look at it this way: if your very identity is constantly made invisible or stereotyped negatively, you disassociate from integral parts of who you are. And what that means is years and years of unpacking the hatred inside yourself to find yourself again, and find love.” Thankfully, though, it’s possible marijuana can help.

“ both the FDA and the US Department of Health and human Services gave Sisley the green light to conduct research on cannabis use for PTSD.”

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heal “Although there is a mountain of anecdotal evidence that marijuana helps with PTSD, there has been no controlled trial to test how marijuana suppresses the symptoms, including flashbacks, insomnia, and anxiety,” Suzanne Sisley, researcher at the University of Arizona, told USA Today in 2014. In April 2016, however, both the FDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services gave Sisley the green light to conduct research on cannabis use for PTSD in war veterans. At the time of writing, the 10-week study was underway and Sisley was hopeful cannabis would prove to be a viable source of help for the more than 7.7 million Americans suffering from PTSD. Of course, queer people can also use cannabis in a negative way, and Rechsteiner says it can be likened to any other substance used to bypass emotional pain. However, he also acknowledges how cannabis helped him deal with all sorts of issues surrounding his identity. “In the past, when the panic attacks began, I was prescribed Xanax to calm me down,” he explains. “Now, I use cannabis in specific ways. During my transition with hormone replacement

therapy, I was smoking, as it lifts your mood fairly quickly. But tincture is by far my best option in terms of calming my fear down. I don’t get blazed out of my mind on it; it helps me to get into my body and feel good inside my body, which for someone like me who has disassociated for such a long time, is deeply healing.”


Rechsteiner’s journey from female to male began in Colorado with his surgery. Though he took his prescribed Percocet for two days after surgery, Rechsteiner switched to hash oil capsules on the third day, with excellent results. The capsules were a high-THC activated dose purchased at Terrapin Station in Boulder. “I took two of the hash oil caps the first night and slept like a baby,” he says. “They were very strong, with activated THC. The pain disappeared, and my mood was surprisingly cheerful.” For five days, the hash oil caps were all that Rechsteiner took to quell the pain from what was major surgery. Taking the medical cannabis did lead to

some side effects, but one that many think of as a negative—cotton mouth—was actually a positive experience for him. “The hash oil caps were strong, which was great as I didn’t want to continue taking the Percocet, but they made me have dry mouth pretty badly. That encouraged me to drink a ton of water, which was great because I had toxins from surgery to flush out of my system, so even that was a win-win with the weed,” he says. After finishing with the hash caps, Rechsteiner paid a visit to The Growing Kitchen in Boulder. Owner Brooke Wise began making her own cannabis medicine at home after her husband was injured in a snowboarding accident. After successfully replacing opiates with cannabis, the couple knew they had a calling. Today, in their industrial kitchen, they create healthy medibles, salves, and real medicine in tinctures, capsules, and oils, customizing equivalencies for each patient. “First off, I love Brooke’s products so much. They are the best and highestquality cannabis medicine I have come across so far,” Rechsteiner says. “I felt very comfortable and assured when using them and they worked magically.”

“ Though he took his prescribed Percocet, for two days after surgery, Rechsteiner switched to hash oil capsules on the third day, with excellent results.”


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heal “Magic” is a word used often when describing what cannabis can do, especially for pain, when used as a medicine. (Though it’s not really magical, just a naturally occurring analgesic plant.) A trial done by oncologist Donald Abrams in San Francisco in the early ’80s with AIDS patients demonstrated a 40 per cent increase in the efficacy of painkillers after smoking cannabis. Some patients have replaced up to 300 milligrams (mg) of morphine a day with a small amount of cannabis oil. “The Growing Kitchen’s Chill Pill doses at five milligrams each, and I would take one a couple hours before bedtime. Then at bedtime, I’d take a stronger dose of two Perfect Peace Pain Pills of 20 mg each, then three sprays of under the tongue of tincture. I slept through the night with no problem and no pain,” Rechsteiner says. As he regained mobility, Rechsteiner says he then only needed to take the Chill Pills if he felt anxious. “It’s a close tie which product I like best, the spray or the caps. The spray is more fun, meaning it’s immediately psychoactive and I enjoy the euphoria, but the Chill Pills are super tasty and I feel their gentle effects emotionally and really loved the experience.”


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“ i am blessed to have the knowledge, of cannabis as an alternative to the damaging and addicting pain killers so many struggle with post-surgery.”

Follow-up maintenance to further insure against inflammation, pain, and infection included taking a capsule containing CBD, a major medicinal component of the plant that doesn’t have psychoactive properties. “I would never have surgery again without cannabis,” Rechsteiner says. “It was really surprising how quickly I transitioned off Percocet with the hash oil caps. And smoking flower on top of everything kept my mood elevated.” “This has not been an easy road to travel down,” he concludes. “Megan [his partner] and I are both grateful for each other; I’m thankful to have her in my life. Where the surgery itself is concerned, I’m blessed to have the knowledge of cannabis as an alternative to the damaging and addicting pain killers so many struggle with post-surgery.”

Writer and photographer Sharon Letts began her life’s work as a gardener in Southern California, and she now calls Humboldt County home. When she isn’t writing about gardening, Sharon is outside working in her own garden.


From Sickness to Health:

by Cory Hughes

JENNIFER HUSE’S STORY After being diagnosed with endometrial hyperplasia, doctors recommended to Jennifer Huse that she undergo a hysterectomy to prevent cancer. Instead, Jennifer sought a less invasive treatment and turned to cannabis in Colorado. As Cory Hughes tells us, her decision led her to a better quality of life, and she is now sharing her experience with other women. 50

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n 2016, Jennifer Huse became one of many marijuana refugees in the United States. Jennifer, who takes up primary residence in New Jersey, was diagnosed with endometrial hyperplasia, a thickening of the uterine lining that, in many cases, leads to cancer. Jennifer had been seeing early symptoms as far back as 2009, however, a proper diagnosis didn’t materialize until 2015. In the years leading up to her diagnosis, doctors had been recommending a complete hysterectomy. By the time the diagnosis came in, doctors had detected the presence of advanced pre-cancerous cells. Still, the only treatment recommended to her was the hysterectomy route, simply to prevent any possibility of cancer. Finding this unacceptable, Jennifer made the decision to pack up

Cannabis took me

from knowing I was dying to feeling the best I have ever felt physically. I went from sickness to health in three months.”

and head to Colorado to give cannabis treatments a chance. The experience took Jennifer from being debilitated and hospitalized to feeling the best she has in years. “Cannabis took me from knowing I was dying to feeling the best I have ever felt physically. I went from sickness to health in three months,” she says. Jennifer is an active woman. She works with an organization known as The Venus Project, a group that advocates for a resource-based economy. She is constantly traveling back and forth between her home in New Jersey and The Venus Project headquarters in Florida. Add to that trips to Denver for treatments and it’s amazing she had any energy left at all. When Jennifer first started showing symptoms, like a menstruation period that lasted for four months, she and her doctors were puzzled. Doctor after doctor tried to determine the problem, but none could. This went on for years with doctors pushing for a hysterectomy. Jennifer made the decision to skip surgery and try cannabis. But before heading west, she wanted to reach out to women who were in similar circumstances, and she hoped she could pass on what she had learned to save other women

from unnecessary procedures. She got involved with Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services (HERS), a group that specializes in offering health and education services to women in hopes of providing alternatives to invasive surgeries, particularly hysterectomies. Besides working with HERS, Jennifer released a heartfelt video online in which she tells her story, hoping women around the world will learn from her experience. “Having to leave my kids, my businesses, and pay the expense of living in another state just to get non-toxic treatment was not only emotionally and physically draining but made me fully aware what little freedom we actually have,” she says. When Jennifer arrived in Colorado in June 2016, she had just been married. At her wedding, she was worried that she was too sick to make it through the reception. When she advised her cannabis medical professional of her diagnosis and voiced her concern that the pre-cancerous cells could advance, the doctor knew just what to prescribe. Jennifer started a regimen of the world-famous Rick Simpson oil (RSO). According to Simpson, his whole-plant cannabis oil has cured more than 5,000 people of cancerous and pre-cancerous cells. She was recommended to a dispensary that specializes in whole-plant cannabis oil treatments. The recommendation was 60 milligrams of RSO per day for 60 days. Less than a month later, Jennifer’s head was clear, like a fog had lifted. She felt better daily, constantly seeing improvement in her appetite and ability to get around. She went back in for evaluation and after 90 days, it was found that there was no unhealthy tissue present and that the advanced pre-cancerous cells were gone. Cannabis helped Jennifer get back on her feet and avoid the traditional surgical route that doctors are so quick to suggest. Jennifer spent years trying to find out what was going on with her body at tremendous cost, both physical and financial. Three months earlier she was barely able to get out of bed. Now, she was on top of the world. Jennifer says she believes that to deny people medical cannabis treatments is to sentence them to a life of sickness and possibly even death. She wants to demonstrate there are more than pharmaceutical options available. Jennifer is back to work with The Venus Project and still bouncing around the country helping to create a better future for all of us. She plans to continue her cannabis treatments when she returns to Colorado. “My advice to anyone considering treatment would be if at all possible to try cannabis, especially before any nonreversible or highly toxic measures are taken,” she says.

Cory Hughes is a former police officer turned full-time commercial grower in Denver, Colorado.

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CUT AND DRIED: A MONTHLY LOOK AT DIFFERENT MMJ STRAINS BY RACHEL WILDE Named for its huge branch-breaking buds, Critical Mass is an indica-heavy hybrid that novice cannabis enthusiasts will find easy to grow, but perhaps a little hard to handle.

critical mass Origins and Genetics

A new take on the famed Big Bud strain from Mr. Nice Seeds, Critical Mass is a cross between a heavy Afghani indica and the sativa-dominant hybrid Skunk No. 1. The strain’s name alludes to its flowers and overall yield, which are both so big they can break branches in half. Not surprisingly, Critical Mass is popular with growers and on dispensary shelves. This strain packs a strong 15-22 per cent THC punch, and it is also known for its relatively high CBD levels. There is also a high-CBD version (1:1-1:2, THC:CBD) that is produced by crossing Critical Mass with a high-CBD strain.

Physical Description

Critical Mass produces large, bright green buds strewn with orange hairs and a decent dusting of trichomes. They smell earthy and pungent—almost skunky—and have distinct sweet undertones. It’s that sweetness that comes through when the flowers are heated, as do other earthy and herbal flavors. A word to the wise, however; Critical Mass buds smell strong, so keep them locked up in an airtight container.

Effects and Uses

An 80/20 indica-dominant hybrid, Critical Mass is best known for a strong body stone that lasts a couple of hours. In lower doses, it doesn’t necessarily draw users to the couch— but some just might find themselves getting through a whole season of that show they’ve wanted to watch if they do sit down. (Also, Critical Mass has a reputation for inspiring the munchies, so keep some healthy snacks around.) In higher doses, though, it’s best to go straight to bed. There’s a reason Critical Mass is a popular strain for treating insomnia. In general, users remain clear-headed and collected with Critical Mass. Still, most find it produces a good mood boost and a sense of relaxed well-being when taken in lower doses. A couple hours in, though, the cheerful high fades and sleepiness settles in. Overall, Critical Mass is a slow, mellow strain with a bright twist. It’s great for unwinding with at the end of the day or for use on a lazy weekend when chores still need doing. Thanks to its heavy body stone, Critical Mass is often recommended for pain management, including for those suffering from muscle spasms, chronic pain, migraines,

and nausea. Since it’s a calming strain, it’s also good for a nervous stomach, stress, and some depression. On the negative side, Critical Mass can lead to both dry mouth and dry eyes. More serious, the strong bodily effects can also lead to dizziness.


Critical Mass is a medium-sized plant that, as mentioned, consistently produces big yields. Growers can expect to produce up to 600 grams per square meter when outside and up to 750 grams per square meter indoors. While easy for even novices to cultivate, these big buds do require some special attention. Critical Mass is known to break branches in half, so give this strain plenty of support. Indoors, it works well with a Sea of Green (SOG) set-up. Also, more than one growing guide for Critical Mass mentions that the big, dense buds can have mold problems, so keep growroom humidity levels low. Outside, this strain likes a warm and sunny Mediterranean-type climate. If all goes well, indoor growers can expect this strain to flower in about eight weeks and outdoor growers can assume a mid-September harvest.

Rachel Wilde is a Canadian freelance writer who regularly uses cannabis as part of a healthy and active lifestyle.


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There are a lot of myths that surround cooling needs in the cannabis industry. Surna/Hydro Innovation’s Stephen Keen delves into some of the most common ones we hear.


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The thought process: CO2 is added to aid

plant growth, so bringing in outside air adds necessary oxygen so people can breathe.

Fact: Plants consume CO2 and expel

oxygen. This is the opposite of humans, who consume oxygen and exhale CO2, which is the basis of this myth. In human-occupied buildings with no plants, adding fresh air is often necessary to replenish oxygen levels in the air. However, in cultivation centers, there are enough plants and few enough people to make this unnecessary. Bringing outside air into a grow can actually be detrimental to plant health because it allows pests and pathogens to get in and can disrupt the delicate temperature and humidity balance desired for optimal plant growth.

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THE AMOUNT OF COOLING NEEDED IS BASED ON SQUARE FOOTAGE The thought process: Typical residential and commercial

buildings base cooling and heating requirements on square footage, so the same process should be used for cultivation.

Fact: Cooling load for a cultivation center should be based on the number of lights in the facility. The lights in a cultivation center provide enough heat that the cooling needs are considered process cooling, which is different from the comfort cooling needs of homes and most commercial buildings. In cultivation centers, the goal is heat removal, not making a space comfortable for human occupation. The heat load, and thus cooling needs of a cultivation center, are more closely related to a data center than a typical residential building and are considerably higher.



commercial buildings I go to have cooling because it rarely gets hot enough here to need it, so keeping my garden cool won’t be an issue.

Fact: Grow lights add a lot of heat to a cultivation facility

and will quickly overtake your building’s natural ability to cool. Because so much heat is being added to the room from the lights, heating is likely to be a smaller concern than you realize, while cooling will be a larger concern. Sealed growrooms are minimally impacted by the outside climate and need to be properly climate controlled in their own right. While there are ways to get practically free cooling in colder climates, the growroom will still need to be cooled. As for heating, in very cold climates, it may be necessary to add some heat to the garden, but it will not be as much as is needed for a typical building due to the heat from the lights.


LEDS PRODUCE LESS HEAT THAN HID BULBS The thought process: LEDs do not feel as hot, so they must not put off as much heat as HID bulbs.

Fact: Watt for watt, the same amount of heat is produced by both LEDs and HID bulbs; however, LEDs are often a lower wattage than HID bulbs, making them seem cooler. LEDs are not 100 per cent efficient, so not all of the energy consumed by the fixture ends up as useable light, and what is not used to create light ends up as heat.


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“Cooling is actually the removal of heat, not the addition of cool.”


IT TAKES A LOT OF WATER TO GROW PLANTS INDOORS The thought process: It is estimated to take six gallons of water per day to grow one plant.

Fact: It is possible to save water when growing indoors due



to water reclamation, which is not possible when growing outdoors or in greenhouses. All water not directly consumed by the plant eventually makes its way into the air as humidity. In indoor cultivation, it is possible to collect condensate pulled from the air and reuse the water, which is not possible when growing outdoors or in greenhouses. This ability to collect condensate and reuse the water means growing indoors requires less water than other growing styles.

The thought process: Air coming out of the vents feels cold, so cold must be being added.

Fact: Cooling is actually the removal of heat, not the addition

of cool. To understand the basics of cooling, it is important to understand that technically speaking, there is no such thing as cold, only an absence of heat/energy. Briefly, the only way to cool an object down is to remove the heat (energy) from it. This requires the ability to move the heat to a different location or object or change the state of the original object (solid to liquid or liquid to gas) in a way that requires energy to do so. Read our blog post “Cooling: The Removal of Heat” for more information.

Stephen Keen is a 14-year veteran of the cannabis industry and lifelong tinkerer. He saw a need for cannabis-tailored climate control solutions, which led to his co-founding of Hydro Innovations—now Surna Inc—in 2007. Surna’s mission is to design efficient, reliable, and intelligent equipment for climate control for cannabis cultivation. Keen has vast knowledge of controlled environment agriculture, including serving as the chief cultivation expert for one of Colorado’s largest MMJ operations and being published in various industry magazines. He has served as president and CEO, and now as director of technology, of Surna Inc.

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Topstone Projects LOCATION

Norwalk, CT OWNERS

William Bosch and Violet Degnan EMAIL WEB


When medical concentrates became an integral part of William Bosch’s life due to illness, the aspiring cyclist soon found that his vaporizers couldn’t handle the heavy use. So, he designed his own out of bocote wood, Pyrex, titanium, and 3D-printed stainless steel. Now, Bosch and his partner hope the Topstone vaporizer will enhance the concentrate experience of others, too.

HOW AND WHEN DID THE COMPANY START? Topstone started in 2014 when I became ill and was using concentrates to help me heal. I would be lying in bed after taking 10 other prescriptions and struggled to even open my vaporizers because of resin gunking up the threads. I couldn’t find anything non-plastic or long-lasting. With my heavy daily use, the pens had a three-month lifespan or less. So, I starting drawing designs for something different; something I could easily clean, disassemble, and load. Topstone started with me trying find a solution for myself.

YOUR WEBSITE SAYS THIS PRODUCT ALSO CAME FROM THE DESIRE TO “AUGMENT [YOUR] OWN EXPERIENCE OF CONCENTRATES.” CT concentrates are incredible. They are pharmaceutical-grade in terms of the testing and purity. So, it felt wrong to me putting this incredibly clean medical solution into a delivery system that was frustrating to use and made of plastic. I use concentrates as I’m getting ready for the day, so I was envisioning a product that fits right in on the kitchen counter and that I feel excited about picking up every morning.

IS TOPSTONE A ONE-MAN SHOP? The core Topstone team is my partner Violet and me. Violet and I have been together for eight years, so we have a very deep communication wavelength and team mentality. We did this together. I shared my design ideas with her and she helps me communicate that vision to others and keeps us going on a day-today operations level.


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WHY FOCUS ONLY ON CONCENTRATES AND NOT INCLUDE FLOWERS? I felt there weren’t as many good options for vaping concentrates as there should have been. The landscape has been growing in a really positive way. When Violet and I first heard about concentrates, it was more of a DIY extraction process with butane and other harsh solvents. But in the past few years, we’ve seen a lot more sophisticated, clean, healthy concentrates made with water or C02 extraction. Topstone is a product that continues to push that landscape forward.

HOW IS YOUR PRODUCT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER VAPORIZERS? We envision a different kind of concentrates experience. It’s about prioritizing design. It’s about prioritizing how using a piece makes you feel just as much as its function. In that sense, you could call us an “artisanal” vaporizer. In the glass market and even the paper market, there are mass produced options and then there are artisanal options. We didn’t see that in the vaporizer market, where they are typically made overseas in the thousands.

TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THE PRODUCT’S DESIGN, INSPIRATION, AND BUILD. I’m inspired by Rocket espresso machines and those modern tabletop lighters—things that are a bit romantic in their design but still have solid functionality. Our materials are beautiful but also play practical, functional roles. For example, with the Pyrex glass chamber, you can see the vapor volume as you’re using the piece. It’s also super easy to clean: scrape residue off the inside and pop it in the dishwasher.

WHY WAS USING AMERICAN-MADE COMPONENTS IMPORTANT FOR YOU? Using American-made components is about supporting other local businesses and ensuring I meet our standards of quality. Everything on our piece is made in the US, even the battery, all the other internals, the packaging. Everything.

DO YOU MAKE THE VAPORIZERS YOURSELF? I finish each vaporizer myself in our machine shop. It comes back to the artisanal quality and ensuring every aspect of the piece meets our standards. Right now, I make vaporizers as the orders come in.

HOW MANY PROTOTYPES DID YOU GO THROUGH AND WHAT MAJOR CHANGES HAPPENED IN THE JOURNEY TOWARD THE FINAL PRODUCT? We had three prototypes. The core ideas from my first design are still a part of the product: the mouthpiece was always going to be wood, the chamber was always going to be Pyrex. It was always going to be a bigger, countertop vaporizer. Throughout the process, our engineering got way more refined—the intake box, the shape of the 3D-printed twist-off joints, things like that.


THE TOPSTONE IS A COUNTERTOP VAPORIZER EVEN THOUGH IT’S SHAPED LIKE A PEN. WHY DID YOU MARRY THE TWO DESIGNS? This is also influenced by my early experiences of using concentrates. One of my simplest desires was to have a vaporizer that could actually stand upright on its own instead of always falling over and leaking out the mouthpiece. I wanted something handheld but wasn’t as concerned as making it portable as well. Instead, I wanted a vaporizer that could live on my countertop as a mainstay.

WHY DO YOU SAY, “TOPSTONE IS NOT AN ACCESSORY”? Topstone doesn’t live in your pocket or travel around with you. It’s rooted to your home life. It’s more than an accessory because it’s not paraphernalia or something you dispose of once it’s tapped. Instead, it’s an integral part of your relationship with concentrates. It elevates your whole experience of concentrates by engaging your senses—the organic feeling of the wood mouthpiece, the weight of stainless steel, that super clean taste coming off the titanium coil.

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LET’S FOCUS ON YOU FOR A MOMENT. I’VE HEARD YOU WERE A CYCLIST BEFORE FOUNDING TOPSTONE. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR CYCLING CAREER? Violet got me into cycling. It started with seeing Violet win the first sprint triathlon she competed in; I was recovering from a major spinal surgery at the time, but she inspired me to get into training. I quickly found out I was terrible at running and swimming but natural on a bicycle. I went deep into cycling. From day one, it ignited a passion and I knew I wanted to go pro. I moved to Asheville, NC, to train in the Blue Ridge Mountains and traveled to Manizales, Colombia, to train with South American pros. Unfortunately, while in Colombia, I contracted several types of parasites, including two nasty amoebas. It stole two years of serious training and racing from me. At that point, I knew I had to pivot industries for realistic health reasons.

IS CYCLING STILL A PART OF YOUR LIFE? Every day starts with a strong cup of coffee and a bicycle ride.

HAS CYCLING INFLUENCED TOPSTONE’S PATH IN ANY WAY? I have friends and contacts who were pursuing their own entrepreneurial ventures in the cycling industry. I’m lucky because they taught me about cycling but also what it takes to start a business. The pro cycling world is about regime, routine, discipline, training; you fail a lot but retain faith that you can still achieve your goals. Riding 150 miles sounds impossible until you do it. This mentality translated into entrepreneurship and has definitely helped me grow and stay focused despite the obstacles new businesses face.  

WHAT CONDITION DO YOU TREAT WITH MEDICAL CANNABIS? My GI tract suffered a ton of trauma from the parasites on top of early Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. I also underwent major spinal surgery as a teenager. I have 22 metal bolts and two bars permanently fusing the majority of my spine. I use concentrates to help my GI tract and also to deal with the residual physical stress on my body.

IANY PLANS TO EXPAND THE COMPANY OR YOUR PRODUCT LINE? Keep your eyes out. You can expect some interesting collaborations and events. We always envisioned this as a lifestyle company, so we are interested in either creating or looping in new products. They could be outside of cannabis but still about elevating your time at home and your time pursuing wellness, which is what’s at the core of our vaporizer.


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learn Sorry, Cheech and Chong, tie dye just isn’t going to cut it anymore. In today's skyrocketing legal cannabis market, companies wanting to stand out will have to modernize their branding and marketing tactics to appeal to the mainstream.


wenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis recreationally or medicinally (or both), and recent studies show that a majority of the US population is in favor of abolishing federal regulation of marijuana. With these unprecedented changes have come waves of both excitement and trepidation concerning the place of cannabis in the mainstream American business model. For current cannabis-oriented businesses to capitalize on rapid industry growth, they must modernize their approach to marketing through novel branding efforts.

Genetics and Consistency: The Traditional Cannabis Brand Model Regardless of whether a cannabis business operates within the medical or recreational market, branding has always been an essential element in customer satisfaction and retention. At the most fundamental level, cannabis branding is traditionally about consistency. To illustrate, not all Blue Dream flowers are the same; factors in cultivation and processing all contribute to the quality and potency of buds. However, a dedicated cultivator will preserve a genetic line and grow flowers in a consistent fashion. This same devotion to consistency will also be upheld during the processes of drying, trimming, curing, and storage. In the end, customers will come to trust in a level of quality and reliability when purchasing flowers and concentrates from this cultivator. Through consistency comes brand loyalty.

Question and Answer with KindTyme’s Ryan Michael: To help our readers get a better feel for the place of branding in the contemporary cannabis trade, I got Portland-area marketing expert Ryan Michael on the phone. Michael is the CEO of a boutique marijuana industry marketing firm called KindTyme, and he is extremely well-versed on the cannabis space. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

HL: What sorts of designs is the

Brand new Look, Same Great Weed Modern Cannabis Branding BY KENT GRUETZMACHER


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cannabis industry’s customer base finding the most appealing? RM: That really depends on

whether or not the business in question is in cultivation/production or an ancillary. For cannabis-specific businesses, we generally have a large demand for images including pot leafs and buds. However, some of our ancillary business customers, such as law firms, demand a more refined and modernized aesthetic.

HL: How would you compare

cannabis marketing to more traditional forms of marketing, such as seen with tennis shoes? RM: The biggest differences are the age restrictions and the federal regulations surrounding cannabis. Marketing for marijuana products requires far more legwork, as there are limited avenues that KindTyme can follow. Most notably, some mainstream social media sites greatly restrict marketing campaigns featuring cannabis products, which forces us to depend on more guerrilla marketing techniques.

learn HL: Do you foresee large/

mainstream marketing firms moving into the cannabis business? RM: It’s not really worth it for them now (due to the aforementioned constraints with federal regulation). But, recreational cannabis marketing is starting to resemble the alcohol industry more and more because these branding campaigns are beginning to market a lifestyle as opposed to just a brand. HL: What sort of advice would you have for cannabis industry start-ups out there looking to set themselves apart from their competition? RM: Brand early. Know your target market and establish what you are offering your customers. Have your distribution channels in place and organized ASAP. Create a name and a color palette for your company that will resonate. Remember that a good website is very important, regardless if you’re a cultivation company or an ancillary.


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Recreational Cannabis Branding As briefly alluded to by Michael, the confluence of the cultures of marijuana and mainstream America presents many possible progressions and regressions for the overall legitimization of the industry. According to the Arcview Group, legal cannabis sales are expected to grow to USD$18 billion by the year 2021, with the recreational marketplace laying claim to a vast majority of this figure. But US federal prohibition efforts place cannabis-oriented businesses in a unique place when it comes to marketing and branding. First off, many companies currently find it challenging to protect their respective product lines as trademarks aren’t supplied by the US government for cannabis products. On a larger scale, though, branding and marketing efforts go hand-in-hand with the struggle for legitimization. As such, marketing efforts are quickly becoming modernized and sophisticated. The contemporary brand aesthetic for recreational cannabis is couched in a

“A medical cannabis branding infrastructure based on consistency and transparency most resembles traditional cannabis brand loyalty—one based solely on a quality product.“

learn need for nationwide acceptance, and it is up to the imaginings of branding companies to bridge the gap between the traditional counterculture and the novel mainstream. Perhaps the most successful cannabis branding efforts to date are those that involve celebrity figures, as well as those with a luxurious mystique. Marketing experts theorize that celebrity brands have an advantage over their competition in the recreational market because their names are almost synonymous with marijuana—namely those like Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley, and Willie Nelson. Moreover, pop-culture figures like Clement Kwan and Scott Campbell are entering the recreational cannabis market with brands such as Beboe, which portray the extravagance and glamor of Hollywood. However, the consequences of this infusion of pop-chic marketing into the cannabis culture are somewhat difficult to discern. For example, there is an overwhelming concern that a real dedication to quality cannabis products will be disregarded in favor of celebrity names and glitzy packaging. Controversy and speculation aside, though, it’s apparent that cannabisfocused businesses should work hand-


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in-hand with branding companies to make the industry more palpable and legitimate in the eyes of conventional North America.

Medical Cannabis Branding: Consistency and Transparency It is sometimes easy to forget that the growing mainstream popularity of cannabis is due largely to grassroots efforts and forward-thinking legislation concerning a medicinal product. Looking forward, though, it’s the medical cannabis industry that could benefit more than any other through great branding. The up-and-coming medical cannabis marketplace should be driven by a medically sanctified professionalism and integrity founded on patient needs. Truly sick cannabis patients must be able to depend on consistent medicine. This notion can only be realized through the standardization of marijuana product lines, and properly branded medical cannabis products should promote these standards of consistency and transparency. With consistently produced

and labeled medicines, cannabis patients can make informed consumer decisions concerning cultivation and manufacturing techniques. Strangely enough, a medical cannabis branding infrastructure based on consistency and transparency most resembles traditional cannabis brand loyalty—one based solely on a quality product. As the recreational and medicinal marijuana industries continue to expand into the mainstream, it’s obvious companies must rethink their branding and marketing tactics to capitalize on this growth.

learn While marijuana-oriented academic institutions such as Oaksterdam and THC University have helped appease some of the need for verifiable employee training, post-secondary schools such as Northeastern Institute of Cannabis (NIC) in Massachusetts and Denver University (DU) in Colorado have also devised platforms in which industry hopefuls can learn the basics of the contemporary marijuana business world. Through these forward-thinking programs, cannabis industry employers can access educated prospects that are presented in qualitatively and objectively palpable fashions. Hydrolife contacted Paul Seaborn, professor of DU’s Business of Marijuana class, as well as NIC’s dean of faculty, Cara Crabb-Burnham, to help us get a better feel for the modern university cannabis education.

Professional Training in the Cannabis Industry The marijuana industry is booming, and companies are fiercely competing for a relatively small pool of qualified employees. Kent Gruetzmacher chatted with two cannabis education leaders to get their perspective on filling the employment gap.


or the traditional North American business entity, the employee hiring process is largely hinged upon the verifiable education and employment history of a candidate. With little effort, human resource and management teams can easily access college transcripts and work references while vetting applicants, making the practice of qualifying potential employees rather routine. Looking to the cannabis space, modern marijuana businesses have a resounding need for qualified employees. Yet, staffing challenges reverberate throughout the cannabis industry—largely due to the lack of professional and vocational training seen in the traditional job market. As the legitimate marijuana setting continues to grow and evolve, it’s constantly exposing new business pitfalls that are precariously hinged on exciting opportunities for prosperity. The job search and hiring process surrounding many facets of cannabis commerce illustrates this notion well—inferior management procedures can sink a business still in its infancy.


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HL: What are most of your students looking to do with their education in the cannabis industry? Seaborn (DU):

The students seem to fall into three categories. A few intend to enter the cannabis industry immediately upon graduation and have already been pursuing internships and making connections in preparation. Another group are open to the idea of working directly or indirectly in the cannabis industry but are also pursuing non-cannabis options. The remainder are interested in the topic for a variety of reasons but do not have any plans to work in the industry.

Crabb-Burnham (NIC): Most of our grads are looking to start

a career in the cannabis space. Many of them are planning to start at the beginning, but we also have several grads that love the careers they have already established and want to apply what they know to the cannabis industry.

HL: Does your school offer vocational training? if so, what type? Seaborn (DU):

No. My course is not designed for those looking to develop industry-specific skills around growing, trimming, budtending, etc., nor is it only designed for those seeking an immediate cannabis-related job. Instead, the course provides a broad overview of the cannabis industry, starting with the historical and legal foundations of the industry and then the business impacts across the major areas of business— management, strategy, finance, accounting, marketing, real estate, ethics, etc.—along with exposure to industry leaders and their current challenges.

Crabb-Burnham (NIC): That is exactly what we offer. We of-

fer a broad and basic program preparing our grads for any entry-level position and enough basic knowledge to determine where they best fit in the space. Our program covers everything from science to history and cultivation to medical applications of cannabis.

HL: Has your school been contacted directly by employers looking for candidates and graduates? Seaborn (DU):

In recent months, our school has been in dialogue with a number of major companies in the Colorado market about their human resources challenges. For many of these companies, it is not difficult to find candidates willing to work in the industry, but it is difficult to find candidates who understand business fundamentals and are interested in long-term career opportunities rather than just the short-term allure of having a cannabis job. Retaining top employees is also a challenge for them in such a rapidly expanding industry. My course is one way we can help to develop potential candidates, but I expect that as a school we will also find other ways to partner with the Colorado industry to address their needs.

Crabb-Burnham (NIC):

Yes, we have been contacted by several dispensaries that are in the hiring process. They are looking for both grads to employ and also for training for their staff. Massachusetts requires eight hours of job specific training annually, we have those programs available to the dispensaries, helping them keep in compliance.

HL: Do you feel like your candidates have a leg up on the other hopefuls looking to enter the cannabis industry? Seaborn (DU):

Yes, for those who are focused on the management aspects of the industry. Prior to the introduction of this new course, our students had minimal opportunity to learn about the cannabis industry even though the Colorado cannabis industry was rapidly expanding right outside their door. With this course, the students will not only become much more familiar with the challenges and opportunities that exist, but also have a chance to meet many industry leaders who could become their future employers.

Crabb-Burnham (NIC): I do, mostly because the dispensaries have

agreements with the towns they are opening in and they are often asked to hire locally for any open positions. In Massachusetts, we haven’t had an industry before, therefore these hiring managers have to look at many different aspects than just cannabis experience. Our grads are prepared to answer nearly any question that a patient or consumer may have. There is no question that there is a huge economic boom within the cannabis industry, but the room for error is extremely slim for marijuana-oriented start-up businesses. This important notion lends major credence to the need for the sort of educational training provided by DU, the NIC, and other institutions as a sound team of employees can be the difference between success and failure. It appears these progressive programs may very well be the catalysts for translating and expressing cannabis oriented skill-sets and knowledge in a mutually comprehensible fashion, for the benefit of all.


While the cannabis industry is experiencing rapid growth, individuals are not getting gainful employment as easily as one might expect. Looking at the marketplace as a whole, there are a number of reasons why industry hopefuls are having a tough time finding jobs in the marijuana space: • Every cannabis-related business entity is still a start-up with limited hiring resources. • There is an exorbitant influx of unqualified “master growers” flooding job boards and postings. • Unsatisfied people from the general workforce (such as the IT and legal sectors) are leaving cubicle jobs and flocking to the cannabis boom. • Individuals are often unwilling to step down a notch from established career personas.

Changing Career Paths: Critical Thinking, Practicality, Persistence If someone is serious about changing career paths and entering the cannabis space, here are a few helpful pointers:

• Think critically about how you can transfer your previous education and work history into a novel job platform in the marijuana business. • Be realistic, humble, and practical. Hopeful candidates might have to take an entry-level job in order to break into the industry and gain some applicable experience. • Persistence is everything: Do all you can to market yourself.

Growing Career Sectors: Sales and Technology Ancillaries For those looking to enter the cannabis workforce, qualified sales and technology candidates are in high demand. There are a few reasons for this: • Every business entity is profit driven. It is up to the sales force to generate revenue for businesses. • State-mandated computerized tracking systems for cultivation centers and dispensaries are in place in most legal states.

Kent Gruetzmacher is a Denver-based freelance writer and the west coast director of business development at Mac & Fulton Executive Search and Consulting, an employment recruiting firm dedicated to the indoor gardening and hydroponics industries. He is interested in utilizing his Master of Arts in humanities to explore the many cultural and business facets of this emerging industry by way of his entrepreneurial projects.

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STRAIN HUN LEARN 4 Strain Hunters Chadwick 3.5


by Julie Chadwick

CONTINUES... Kings of their own cannabis empire and beloved in the countries they visited, Strain Hunters Arjan Roskam and Franco Loja were on a seemingly unstoppable roll. A single mosquito changed that. Loja’s sudden death came as a shock to the cannabis community, leaving many to wonder if the Strain Hunters could continue their work.


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s the world nursed their hangovers and slowly returned to work on January 2, 2017, the international cannabis community was dealt a devastating blow: Franco Loja, one of its most passionate and visible advocates, had died. Only 42 years old, Loja was likened at times to Indiana Jones for his globe-trotting adventures in pursuit of rare cannabis landrace strains found in far-flung locales. For more than two decades, Franco was the long-time business partner and right-hand man of cannabis king Arjan Roskam, founder of legendary, multi-award winning Green House Seeds out of Amsterdam.

It seemed there was little the dynamic duo couldn’t accomplish: they straddled an international cannabis empire that encompassed not only seeds but coffee shops, dispensaries, clothing, a medical research company, a nutrients company, and an international media outlet. The latest instalment of their popular Strain Hunters video series was filmed in Colombia as part of their new partnership with VICE Media, and its broadcast on HBO only further catapulted their team into the public eye. Building on this success, the next Strain Hunters film was shot in The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and had just wrapped. Everything seemed to be flowing just as it should— except then it wasn’t. At first, Franco’s sudden death was something of a mystery. When their plane touched down at the airport in the capital city of Kinshasa, DRC, the team had been met by military and government officials and escorted to the presidential lounge. Buoyed by the enthusiastic participation of the Congolese government in facilitating their film—a first for the team—the Strain Hunters were then introduced to their guides and fixers Christo, Kabo, and Kaza, an ambassador from the local Federation of Congolese Rastafarians (FERACO), which represented the huge Rastafarian community in the Congo, whose members helped organize the expedition. “It’s hard to describe Congo. Everything is extreme there,” Franco wrote in a blog post after the trip. “Nature is on steroids, the jungle is lush and impenetrable, the sun is hotter and more intense than anywhere else because it’s at the equator, the rain falls so hard that no protection can keep you dry, [and] the people can be the kindest and most hospitable or the most aggressive and hard to deal with, according to the circumstances. And the cannabis… the cannabis of Congo is truly amazing. It’s one of the oldest and purest African landraces.” The team had swiftly zeroed in on plans to visit three areas of the country: Bacongo, Mbuji Mayi, and the outskirts of Kisangani, with a focus on hunting out the Congolese Black and Congolese Red cannabis strains. “The expedition took three weeks, and it was the most difficult expedition we had ever made. There were guns involved, knives, machetes, diseases, trips on boats on rivers with crocodiles and hippos. All kinds of stuff,” says Heiko, Green House Seeds’ business and creative director. While out in the field, their mission had hit a snag when one of their local guides, Kabo, contracted cerebral malaria. “We were on a river, two days from civilization, and we only had cannabis oil with us,” says Heiko. “We finally got the guy to a little shack, a doctor’s shack or hut. In Congo, malaria is really common. So many people have malaria, so the doctors, when you go to a little doctor’s post in the middle of nowhere, they know exactly what you have and they know exactly what to give you. So, they gave him a couple of pills and we gave him a bunch of cannabis oil and after four days he was back on track and back in the movie.” Upon their return to Amsterdam, with more than enough samples and seeds from the three areas they visited, the trip was hailed as a success. But there was more to the story. After they got back, representatives from the Congolese government contacted the team to discuss the possibility of further partnerships centered on medicinal cannabis projects. Franco, in particular, was excited about the prospect, as he had fallen in love with the region, its culture, and the people who live there.

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It seemed there was little the dynamic duo couldn’t accomplish: they straddled an international cannabis empire that encompassed not only seeds but coffee shops, dispensaries, clothing, a medical research company, a nutrients company, and an international media outlet.”


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“Franco, he loves Africa and he really liked Congo, especially with all the Rastafarians. He liked the Congo culture because everyone smokes marijuana. The police smoke marijuana, the army smokes marijuana, and there are almost no hard drugs, so it’s quite peaceful considering all the violence that goes on there,” says Heiko, who has been friends with Franco for 17 years and credits Franco with introducing him to the cannabis industry. On invitation from the government, Franco decided to return to the DRC in November 2016 with the director of science at Green House Medical to conduct research on the potential therapeutic application of cannabinoids in treating and preventing local diseases. “We found a lot of information that led us to believe that cannabis can be used as a very good, low-cost, low-tech medicine in the Congo to treat diseases like HIV, malaria, and diarrhea,” says Heiko. Franco made a presentation to the government, in French, about their findings, after which the preliminary sketch of a licensed medical cannabis project in the country began to emerge. When Franco returned to the DRC again in December 2016 to begin work on a medical facility, the country was in a state of political upheaval. Amidst pressure from opposition politicians and the US government to step down as the end of his second term drew near, President Joseph Kabila continued to cling to power as opposition forces vowed to take to the streets. Amidst a massive security presence, the internet was suspended and the country teetered on the brink of “chaos and bloodshed,” wrote Guardian reporter Jason Burke from his post in Kinshasa. “The president was not in a position to resign, and there was a bunch of tension caused by the opposition and corporations that have all kinds of different interests in the country. So, Franco got caught in the middle of the field where we were setting up the project. Although we had protection from the government, one of the minders wanted to take Franco back to the city and bring him to the hotel, but Franco refused because he was afraid that if he went back to the city—there was a curfew going on in the city, nobody was allowed on the street— he wouldn’t be able to get back to the plantation to finish his work,” says Heiko. “So, Franco slept outside there, and that’s probably where the mosquito bit him.” It is believed it was at this point, unbeknownst to anyone, that Franco contracted cerebral malaria. On his journey home, Franco phoned his friends and coworkers from Spain to tell them he had become ill. One thing that is important to understand about Franco, says Heiko, is that he is “never sick.” Energetic and fit, with endless enthusiasm, he rarely complained and typically performed the work of six men, he added. Concerned, Arjan insisted that Franco go to the hospital, thinking he may have picked up a parasite, but by then it was Friday, the day before New Year’s Eve, and most specialists were off duty. Not realizing it was an emergency, Franco made an appointment for Monday and texted Arjan to reassure him it was “all good.” “On Saturday, he went into a coma. He died a couple of days later,” says Heiko. The diagnosis of cerebral malaria was later confirmed at the hospital in Barcelona. If Arjan Roskam was known as the King of Cannabis, Franco Loja was informally thought of as its Jesus. Passionate and soulful, with a reverent respect for the plant that infused all aspects of his work, Franco was adored by those he worked with. In the Congo, it was no different. Insisting they pay the local workers roughly 10 times the average wage, plus perks, his status there had quickly become iconic. At the news of Franco’s death, Rasta musicians dedicated songs to him and the local Rastafarian community made plans to paint a mural of him next to the township’s memorial of Haile Selassie.

learn Though a man like Franco is simply “irreplaceable,” says Heiko, he has no doubt that the medicinal marijuana project in the Congo will continue, as will the Strain Hunters. “There is no way that we are going to stop Strain Hunters. Franco died with the Strain Hunters tattoo on his shoulder. That was his life. Franco was a strain hunter for life and he would have kicked my fucking ass if we stopped making Strain Hunters movies,” says Heiko. “After Franco died, I became a Strain Hunter. Before that, I was just a guy organizing stuff; I was their backbone. But when Franco died, I decided I’m also a strain hunter, actually. It was one of the last things Franco said to me. He wrote me a message, I think three or four days before; I was sick in bed, and he actually had malaria at that time. I told him, ‘I’m so fucking sick, I’ve been in bed for two weeks,’ and he said, ‘Man, you need to toughen up. You need to go on more trips with us. You’re going to become a real strain hunter.’”

A foundation has been set up in Franco’s name to support his children. More information can be found at:

Julie Chadwick is an author, editor, and journalist whose work has appeared in the Times Colonist, Vancouver Sun and VICE. Her book The Man Who Carried Cash, about Johnny Cash and his Canadian manager, was released in June from Dundurn Press.


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Strain Hunters Franco, Arjan, and Simon take a break during filming in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

consultant's corner



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Competition will be tough when it comes to snapping up a limited number grow licenses in Ohio. It will also become complicated with the possibility of out-of-state partnerships. Medicine Man lays out the challenges facing lawmakers tasked with establishing cultivation rules in the state.


t Medicine Man Technologies, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the news as more and more states legalize recreational and medical marijuana. What we’ve seen is that the vast majority of new laws are being passed without clearly defined regulations or infrastructure. This has left the door open for debate as the government agencies tasked with implementation start to roll out rule-making plans. In Ohio, the state’s Department of Commerce is responsible for determining how many cultivators the state will allow based on the anticipated demand. Currently, the agency plans to grant 12 large-scale and 12 small-scale grow licenses. According to recent estimates, these 24 license holders stand to profit from a medical-marijuana market with a projected net worth between $200 million and $400 million. Because Ohio is the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana, there are numerous, more experienced cultivators from several other states eyeing Ohio as their next lucrative venture. Of course, this is not sitting well with native Ohioan growers looking to establish a foothold in the new industry. That brings us to the question at hand: With just 24 grow licenses up for grabs in Ohio, who will profit?

STATUS OF LEGALIZED MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN OHIO Ohio’s Governor, John Kasich, signed H.B. 523 into law on June 8, 2016, establishing the state’s new medical marijuana law. The House voted its approval a few weeks earlier on May 10, followed by the Senate on May 25, and the new law went into effect on September 8, 2016.


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consultant's corner Now, Ohioans who have a qualifying condition (listed in Ohio’s medical marijuana law) and a written statement from their physician will have legal protections for possessing a 90day medical marijuana supply. Like many other states, Ohio requires an established physician-patient relationship. Until the cultivation rules are hashed out, patients are required to purchase their medical marijuana from other states where it’s legal and bring it back to Ohio. Unfortunately, home growing for personal use is not allowed in Ohio, neither is smoking cannabis. However, marijuana may be vaporized, and patients also have the option to use extracts and infused products such as food items.

CULTIVATION & OHIO DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE As mentioned earlier, those who want to commercially grow medical marijuana will be required to apply with the Ohio Department of Commerce. Some basics have already been established such as not being able to grow within 500 feet of a school, public playground, church, public park, or public library. Those who apply for a license may also be disqualified due to certain criminal convictions. Now, here’s what’s causing a lot of debate amongst growers contending for one of the 24 licenses being made available. Factoring into the review, but not required, is proof that the company is headquartered in Ohio, owned by Ohioans, and has plans to hire in-state workers. According to Kevin Schmidt from the Marijuana Policy Project, competition for the required license will be tough for Ohioans going up against more versed companies from out of state. And many Ohioans are calling for the Department of Commerce to make residency a requirement throughout the first year at the very least. Competition isn’t the only reason, either. Local companies and cultivators also state that:

Ohioans were the ones on the ground, fighting to pass the law Out-of-state companies will want to bring out-of-state workers Such a workforce will not improve Ohio’s unemployment stats Profits and generated revenue will not benefit Ohio or Ohioans The bottom line is many believe that Ohioans should be given a chance to establish themselves first. At Medicine Man Technologies, we know very well that such a request is certainly reasonable. Here in Colorado, license applicants were initially required to live in the state for at least two years. The state has only recently reduced that time to one year to open the market to out-of-state investors.

A CASE FOR ALLOWING OUT-OF-STATE COMPANIES On the other side of the argument are companies pointing out the fact that licensing in Ohio comes with hefty fees and financial requirements, which has led them to seek out-of-state partnerships. Here’s a look at those figures: Level I: $20,000 application fee and $180,000 license fee Level II: $2,000 application fee and $18,000 license fee Applicants would have to show liquid assets by level $500,000/$50,000 An escrow account or surety bond of $750,000/$75,000 will be required Along with gaining access to the necessary capital, these Ohio-based companies are looking to their experienced out-ofstate investors to help with the complicated process of applying for a cultivation license, as well as properly establishing a successful marijuana business. Also lumped into the out-of-state group are actual Ohio natives who moved to states with legalized marijuana to learn the industry and bring their knowledge back home.

s, these e t a im t s e t to recen profit from “According o t d n a t s s holder ha 24 license market wit a n a u ij r a a medical-m etween

t worth b e n d e t c e j illion." pro m 0 0 4 $ d ion an $200 mill


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WHEN TO EXPECT A DECISION ON RESIDENCY All fees, residency requirements, and other licensing matters will be reviewed by a panel of Ohio state lawmakers and were expected to be finalized by May 6, 2017. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the decision so that we can guide our Ohio clients through next steps. Looking to enter the emerging cannabis industry in Ohio or any other state? Medicine Man offers the experience and knowledge you need to plan, apply and launch a successful, fully-compliant enterprise. Contact us for details, and we’ll start with a personal consultation to discuss your needs and plans.



side from the development of tools, there are two things in human history that have been instrumental factors in our ability to not only survive, but thrive. First is the domestication of animals, which includes man’s best friend, the dog. Second is agriculture, a huge development that is credited with the creation of human civilization. When it comes to the hybridization of specific flora for use in agriculture, cannabis is the canine of the plant RAMA world. With its myriad uses, and those yet to be BY DAVID OWEN discovered, this highly vilified plant could very well turn its dark reputation around and bounce back to take claim to the title “man’s best friend” from our furry comrade. Cannabis has its origins “on the steppes of Central Asia, specifically Mongolia and southern Siberia,” writes University of Kansas science Professor Barney Warf in his journal article “High Points: An Historical Geography of Cannabis.” While pointing out that others have suggested its origins to be in China’s Huang He River valley, the Hindu Kush Mountains, or Afghanistan, Warf believes that “biogeography fluctuated over time, largely in response to the waxing and waning of Pleistocene glaciers from which it took refuge.” According to Ernest L. Abel, author of Marijuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years, cannabis likely flourished in the dump sites of prehistoric hunter gatherers. There is much archaeobotanical evidence from the upper-Paleolithic period of the use of cannabis hemp, and the plant’s geographical distribution can be attributed to its value as a food source, for fiber, and for its use in shamanic rituals.

From its early origins in the steppes of Central Asia to ubiquitous usage and vilified status, cannabis has gone handin-hand with human civilization. David Owen Rama takes us on a journey back to the beginning.

ENJOY 1 Origins of Cannabis O RAMA 3.5


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enjoy Just like dogs, cannabis came to hold great importance due to its versatility. This one plant could cover many crucial needs, including use as a high protein food source, a medicine, oil for fuel, and fiber for cordage, nets, clothes, and paper. Indeed, cannabis became one of the first known agricultural crops. Considering the history of humans is widely regarded to have begun 250,000 years ago, with the development of agriculture coming only 10,000 years ago, the cannabis plant could be considered one of the catalysts of modern human civilization. There is much evidence of cannabis use in ancient China. It is also believed the first writings on the medicinal use of cannabis appeared here in The Great Herbal. Dating back to 2737 BCE and credited to Shen Nung, this reference book is still used by many practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, although the validity of this text and its author remain puzzling to historians. Also, The Book of Odes or She King, a book of Chinese poetry from 2350 BCE, contains numerous references to the use of industrial hemp. Modern researcher Ethan B. Russo adds in his article “History of Cannabis and Its Preparations in Saga, Science, and Sobriquet” that “physical evidence of ancient cannabis usage has been reported from the Yanghai Tombs in the Turpan District of the Xinghian-Uighur Autonomous Region in China. A large amount of cannabis radio-carbon dated to 2,500 years ago was found in the tomb of a Caucasoid male, dressed as a shaman,” resembling other such findings throughout the Tarim Basin. Traveling with Chinese farmers into Korea, cannabis eventually spread to India between 2000 BCE and 1000 BCE. Promoted in the Hindu sacred text Atharvaveda (Science of Charms), cannabis as one of the five sacred plants of India used as medicine and burned ritualistically as an offering to Lord Shiva. It was used for its psychotropic qualities and became fully integrated in the Hindu culture as a religious sacrament. As in other cultures, the plant also became a common crop used to make flour, fabric, and cordage. Over time, cannabis arrived in the Middle East between 2000 BCE and 1400 BCE. From here, cannabis spread throughout Africa. The Scythians carried it into southeast Russia and Ukraine. The plant was then picked up by Germanic and Scandinavian tribes and brought into Western Europe. (The importance of cannabis hemp was

not lost on the Europeans, but its usage did change. In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII declared cannabis use satanic and sacrilegious, thus disconnected the European consciousness from the medicinal and psychotropic uses of cannabis for several centuries to come.) Cannabis hemp also became of great importance for rulers seeking to build empires and maintain massive standing armies. Rome maintained huge hemp arsenals throughout the Roman Empire and hemp production assumed a place of great importance to European superpowers like France and Britain. The French developed a strong hemp growing culture over centuries, while the British relied almost entirely on colonies in India to provide for their substantial needs. It was hemp sails, nets, and rope that propelled the great European fleets and armadas, enlivening trade routes and eventually bringing the cannabis plant to the Americas. The first cargo of cannabis seed arrived with the Puritans in the early 17th century and in the colonies, British law required settlers to grow cannabis hemp. By the 18th century, hemp farming was well-established. It was considered a patriotic duty to grow hemp. George Washington heavily promoted it, while Thomas Jefferson bred different varieties of hemp and began developing early technology to process hemp fiber. In the 19th century, the medicinal use of cannabis was inspired by noted German, French, and British medical scientists who came to obtain substantial quantities of the plant from colonies in India and North Africa. By the latter part of the Victorian era, and only decades prior to the onset of the American prohibitionist mindset, cannabis medical products were as common as today’s toothpaste and cold remedies. Pharmaceutical companies such as American Druggist Syndicate, Wm. S. Merrell Company, and Lloyd Brothers were mass producing cannabis products such as corn plasters, cough syrup, and elixirs for pain relief and numerous other ailments. The Victor Remedies company even marketed a soothing “infant relief” tincture that was one part cannabis indica, one part “sweet spirits,” and one part chloroform. Meanwhile, recreational use of the plant had made its way to the art communities of Western Europe through their colonial connections to Africa and Asia, and in the case of the US, by way of immigration via poor migrant workers south of the border.

With its myriad uses, and those yet to be discovered, this highly vilified plant could very well turn its dark reputation around and bounce back to take claim to the title ‘man’s best friend’ from our furry comrade.“


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enjoy In the first two decades of the 20th century, numerous hemp processing machines were produced for farmers. By 1919, G.W. Schlichten was awarded a patent for a fiber-processing machine called a decorticator, a machine that would finally mechanize what had been up until then a slow process based on human labor. For unknown reasons, though, the machine was never marketed. Hemp farmers and state agricultural departments eventually put pressure on farm machinery companies like International Harvester to invest their energy into fully mechanizing the hemp fiber harvesting process. Advancements in the industrial processing of hemp would signal the return of a lucrative hemp fiber industry in the mid 1930s that could now compete head-to-head with the cotton gin. But this initiative to industrialize the hemp fiber industry would soon clash with a whole new set of industrial competitors: the new chemical and petroleum giants. The powerful DuPont chemical company was in the early stages of developing synthetic fibers, including nylon. Industrialists such as William Randolph Hearst began to view hemp as a threat to their business interests in fiber and paper manufacturing. (Alternatively, Henry Ford saw hemp as an escape from the tightening control of oil magnates; he built a car that not only ran on hemp-based biofuel, but was also made from plastic compounds derived from hemp.) Then Harry J. Anslinger entered the picture. Originally working for the United States Bureau of Prohibition, in 1930, Anslinger was appointed commissioner of the newly founded Bureau of Narcotics under the jurisdiction of the United States Treasury Department. Combining the financial might of government and industry in collusion with Randolph Hearst’s media, Anslinger


Considering the history of humans is widely regarded to have begun 250,000 years ago, with the development of agriculture coming only 10,000 years ago, the cannabis plant could be considered one of the catalysts of modern human civilization.�


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The Victor Remedies company even marketed a soothing ‘infant relief’ tincture that was one part cannabis indica, one part ‘sweet spirits,’ and one part chloroform.”


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eventually had every state sign on to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This required anyone interested in growing hemp to apply for a tax stamp, a stamp that the Treasury Department wasn’t handing out. This sleight of hand took the farmers by surprise. Although this new war on marijuana was designed to vilify a resource that stood in direct competition with logging interests and newly founded industrial commodities such as synthetic fibers and pharmaceuticals, the plan was implemented through racism. Anslinger’s use of the Mexican slang “marijuana” in his propaganda, for example, was designed to fool American farmers who did not know that this was a word referring to the hemp plant. In much the same way that Nixon would later energize the war on drugs to target hippies and African Americans, Anslinger used racism and fear as a powerful tool in his attempt to wipe cannabis and hemp out of the public consciousness. Even though high-ranking figures like Mayor LaGuardia of New York City conducted their own studies proving that the recreational use of cannabis contributed to none of the anti-social concerns Anslinger used as justification for prohibition, Anslinger worked aggressively to have the report discredited. Future governmental studies funded by the Nixon administration in the US and the Pierre Trudeau government in Canada reached the same conclusions as the LaGuardia Commission, yet Anslinger, who ruled in his drug czar role from 1930 to 1975, made certain that very few would be allowed the opportunity to study cannabis under legitimate scientific conditions. To this day, in the United States, cannabis remains listed by the federal government as a Schedule 1 narcotic, which means the cultivation and the study of the plant is almost completely prohibited. Nevertheless, where you find tyrants, you will always find rebels. Since the 60s, anti-prohibition mavericks and historians such as Ed Rosenthal, Terrence McKenna, Marc Emery, and Jack Herer have tirelessly led a conscious reclamation of cannabis history. Today, industrial cannabis applications have again entered public consciousness, and Canada is currently the world leader in hemp production with over 80,000 acres devoted to the crop. There is also great interest in the future of cannabis medicine, especially since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system. Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, researcher at the University of South Carolina, believes that “these cannabinoids give us an opportunity to study the functions and see how we can exploit and manipulate these cannabinoids and their receptors to find cures for a


large number of diseases for which there are currently no cures.” In recent years, pharmaceutical corporations have also applied for patents on an array of synthetic drugs to target the endocannabinoid system. It was recently reported in economic trade journals that the pharmaceutical market for cannabinoid medications could be worth US$20 billion by the year 2020. These advancements have helped blow open the gates into the realm of experimentation and investment into new cannabis strains, as well as the development of numerous cannabis products including edibles, oils, and safer smoking technologies. What’s more, the University of British Columbia has embarked on the first large-scale study to properly map the genetic makeup of the cannabis plant (due to its status as a controlled narcotic, the actual genetic history of the cannabis plant has been muddled). Today, there is great pressure on governments to end the war on drugs. Though some are concerned that drug prohibition in the US could rise to new sinister heights under the Trump regime, Canada appears poised to usher in an era of legal cannabis and society as a whole appears to be on the cusp of a new era where cannabis may return to the position of reverence and service it once occupied. There is little doubt that the cannabis plant deserves to take its place next to the dog as a contender for the title of “man’s best friend.”

David Owen Rama is a writer, broadcaster, journalist, artist, DJ, curator, cinephile, and musicologist. He is a regular reviewer for B.C. Musician Magazine and has hosted the popular Lovecast radio show on CHLY 101.7 FM for more than 10 years. Dave is passionate about art, culture, music, film, media, travel, food, festivals, social justice, community, stewardship, and the health of this incredible planet we call Earth.


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Eat Your


Raw Cannabis Isn’t Just a Vegetable, It’s a NUTRIENT-RICH SUPERFOOD Long touted as a medicine for a variety of issues, lesser-known is the nutritional quality of cannabis— which is so remarkable that some doctors say it belongs in the category of “superfoods.”


hile dried cannabis has become widely accepted as a treatment for various illnesses, many are not aware that its raw counterpart also likely holds properties capable of preventing health issues before they arise. Regardless of the strain or phenotype, cannabis contains more than 400 chemical compounds, including numerous vitamins, essential oils, and acids. The plant is also a complete protein. “Cannabis is the poster child for raw food when eaten raw as a salad or blended juice,” says Dr. William Courtney, the founder of Cannabis International and a leading proponent of raw cannabis consumption. When the plant is dried and consumed via traditional methods like smoking, much of its nutritional and therapeutic value is lost or altered into a different chemical compound. When heated, tetrahydrocannabinolic-acid (THC-A) and cannabidiolic-acid (CBD-A) are converted into THC and CBD and become psychoactive. “Cannabis is a vegetable, it’s not psychoactive until humans alter it chemically,” says Courtney. “The whole psychoactive thing is a human aspect of the plant and has nothing to do with 34 million years of evolution of the plant.” The advantage to consuming raw, non-psychoactive cannabis is the ability to ingest a higher level of cannabinoids, according to Courtney. When cannabis is consumed via smoking, vaping, or cooking, the body is


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by William Tremblay

capable of absorbing up to 10 milligrams (mg) of cannabinoids at a time. However, consuming raw cannabis allows the body to comfortably absorb up to 1,000 mg of THC-A and CBD-A. The idea of avoiding the associated high with cannabis is a tough sell, but the benefits of eating the plant raw may be unparalleled. Cannabis has been found to hold impressive antioxidant properties on par with blueberries, green tea, and kale. In several studies, THC and CBD have outperformed vitamins C and E as a way to combat free radicals, which are responsible for damaging cells within the body. Antioxidants play a critical role in preserving health and have been found to boost the immune system, reduce the risk of developing heart disease, control complications from diabetes, fight off dementia, and lower the risk of developing cancer. “I don’t refer to it as medicine anymore. It’s a dietary essential,” says Courtney, who recommends that anyone older than 40 years old includes raw cannabis in their diet. For most cannabis cultivators, removing chlorophyll is an important element of the drying and curing process to yield buds that are smooth when smoked. However, the chlorophyll in a fresh flower holds numerous dietary benefits.

Chlorophyll works at the cellular level to regenerate our body. It helps restore and replenish red blood cells that enhance blood’s ability to carry more oxygen. It’s ability to battle bacteria and other impurities also aids in fighting inflammation and detoxification of the liver. Chlorophyll, as well as high levels of iron, fiber, and calcium, are not exclusive properties of cannabis. What makes cannabis a unique superfood is the presence of numerous cannabinoids. In a similar fashion to vitamins, optimal health is actually dependant on cannabinoids. The human body contains its own endocannabinoid system, which is a series of cannabinoid receptors that basically help the cells in the brain, organs, and tissue communicate with one another. The system is key to regulating appetite, sleep, pain, and temperature regulation. The body creates cannabinoids with the help of fatty acids. While consuming cannabis provides its own cannabinoids, it is also rich in essential acids. According to Courtney, cannabis contributes the most balanced spectrum of essential fatty and amino acids, in addition to cannabinoid acids that the body is unable to synthesize on its own. “When you include essential nutritional elements in your diet, you benefit tremendously,” he says. In 2004, Dr. Ethan Russo, senior medical advisor for GW Pharmaceuticals, published a paper investigating the relationship between cannabinoid deficiencies

CANNABIS has been found to hold impressive antioxidant properties on par with blueberries, green tea, and kale.“

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enjoy and several common ailments. He found migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome display common patterns that suggest an endocannabinoid deficiency, which could be treated with medical cannabinoids. His study also outlined that cannabinoids demonstrate dopamine-blocking and anti-inflammatory effects. “Clinical cannabis has become a therapeutic compass to what modern medicine fails to cure,” Russo wrote. So, how much raw cannabis should you consume? Courtney recommends 15 leaves and two large buds per day. Like other vegetables, the fresher the plant material, the better. All plant matter begins to lose beneficial enzymes and nutritional value the moment it is harvested. Cannabis treated with pesticides or fungicides is not an option for raw consumption.

THE HUMAN body contains its own endocannabinoid system, which is a series of cannabinoid receptors that basically help the cells in the brain, organs, and tissue communicate with one another.“


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The prevalent method for consuming cannabis raw is juicing the flowers and leaves. Juicing vegetables has been gaining popularity throughout the last decade as it removes the fiber from the plant, allowing your body to quickly absorb nutrients from a large amount of veggies. The process is fairly straightforward, and as simple as putting your material in a household wheatgrass juicer. Make sure you remove any stems that could clog the machine. If you’re juicing flowers, select buds with clear trichomes, as opposed to cloudy or amber, to ensure a maximum amount of THC-A and CBD-A. After the juicing process is complete, use a strainer to remove any remaining solids that may have found its way into your elixir. You’re also able to salvage a little more liquid from plant material left in the juicer’s pulp container by running it through the machine a second time. Using a high-powered blender is another option. Combine about 10 leaves with a cup of water and blend on the highest setting until the liquid reaches an even consistency. The liquid should then be poured through a strainer to remove plant material. Although both methods generally include straining, leaving the plant material in the juice will serve as a boost of dietary fiber. If you plan on preparing cannabis juice in bulk, immediately freeze the liquid in 50 milliliter portions to avoid the breakdown of enzymes and nutrients. Like many health foods, cannabis juice isn’t all that palatable for many consumers. To make the liquid more appetizing, add it to a fruit or vegetable juice or as an additive in a smoothie. A smoothie recipe that includes fat, like yogurt or coconut milk, will absorb the beneficial cannabinoids, ensuring they’re not left stuck to the side of your blender. While juicing is a popular option, consider using the leaves in a salad or finely dice the plant material to add to a pesto sauce. The options for consuming raw cannabis are only hindered by your skills in the kitchen, just don’t apply heat to ensure you’re getting the plant’s maximum benefit.

William Tremblay is an award-winning writer and photojournalist based in Toronto, Ontario. His work has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers across Canada, covering a wide range of topics from restaurants to politics to Coroner’s Inquests. Outside of the newsroom, he is an avid traveller, wood worker, and cannabis enthusiast.

5 enjoy



By Colleen Graham


Cannabis and hemp have made their way into many parts of our lives and the daily beauty routine is no exception. From body lotions and washes to shampoos and perfumes, CBD is making an appearance in a variety of skincare products and anyone can take advantage of this boom in canna-beauty.



irst of all, it’s important to distinguish between cannabis and hemp: cannabis refers to the flower while hemp refers to the seeds and stems. Most beauty products use hemp oil because CBD-only products can be sold across state lines; THC products need to be sold in the state it’s produced. Yet, on the beauty front, we are not missing out on much with this dominance of CBD products. Hemp oil is a natural moisturizer and one of the least greasy base oils, so it’s perfect for soaps, lotions, and balms. It is also anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Topically, you will get muscle and skin benefits from CBD lotions and salves, so they can be used to relieve minor aches and pains as well. Some spas are getting on the cannabis bandwagon and offering massages with THC-infused oils that offer even more relief. These medicinal ointments are also popping up in more and more dispensaries. Overall, however, the point of hemp-based beauty products is to bring those basic benefits into our everyday lives. Many are also formulated to give you a calm feeling with fragrances designed to soothe the mind and relieve stress. Weed-infused beauty products will not get you high. They are not designed to penetrate your skin and won’t enter your bloodstream. Simply think of these as another natural alternative in your skincare regimen.




What can’t you do with this amazing soap? From cleansing your face to mopping the floor, pure castile soap can clean it all, but we particularly like it for its acne-fighting ability. Go for soap that is organic and fair trade; some brands have a nice woody scent. The hemp seed oil’s anti-inflammatory properties combined with tea tree essential oil— known for antimicrobial and antibacterial qualities— makes this all-natural soap as effective as benzoyl peroxide. The hemp oil also counteracts the dryness that some people experience with tea tree alone, so it’s a real winning combination.


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Weed-infused beauty products will not get you high. Simply think of these as another natural alternative in your skincare regimen.”



We put our hair through a lot of turmoil and it can easily become dry and look so very blah. Moisturizing hemp shampoo is the perfect solution, especially when paired with a hemp conditioner. Made with 100 per cent pure and natural hemp seed oil and mild cleansers, the better brands tend to avoid the harsh chemicals that can lead to further damage and is designed to give your hair the moisture and protection it needs.



Apothecanna is a leading company in healing lotions and they have cremes specifically designed for either pain and stress relief. The go-to favorite for everyday use as a moisturizing lotion has to be the Everyday Creme. A mix of essential oils—mandarin, cedar, geranium, calendula, sweet orange—combine with CBD cannabis oil to create a lotion that moisturizes while the scents calm your mind and soothe your spirit. It is an all-body, all-day lotion that is sure to leave you feeling great.



What better way to start your day than a shower with a soothing, creamy body wash? If you’re looking for a feel-good shower soap without harsh perfumes, hemp body wash is the one for you. This one features hemp seed oil, milk thistle, and dandelion and it gets the perfect lather with a loofah or pouf. The fragrance is pleasant, best described as an earthy botanical that both men and women can enjoy. It leaves your skin moisturized and stimulates your senses, ready to face the day ahead.



Aromatherapy takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to cannabis perfumes and we’re going far beyond that hippie favorite of patchouli oil. This is a popular category in hemp-based beauty with a variety of perfume companies getting on board. You will not be disappointed if you love the smell of cannabis. Rather than using actual cannabis extracts, some companies utilize pine and cedar, or mimic the aroma of certain strains with blueberry or earthy pepper scents. It will not, however, leave you smelling like you just smoked up. Instead, it’s masked very well and the blend is mysteriously pleasant. You can try many out for just a few dollars and, if you like it, the scent is replicated in other products including room sprays to shower gels.

Colleen Graham is a writer and freelance photographer from the Midwest who specializes in mixed drinks and covering the liquor industry. She is the cocktails expert for and author of the book ¡Hola Tequila! Gardening and kayaking with her husband are two of her favourite pastimes.

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W by




A FOOL OF MYSELF A Cannabis Culinary Column

My Cannabis Cooking Shows Everyone wanted a piece of Watermelon after her infamous arrests for gingersnap trafficking. To help calm the storm, she produced a cooking show DVD to answer everyone’s questions all at once.


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n 2002, after many arrests, I became well-known across the nation for my alleged gingersnap trafficking crimes. Infamous, really. However, when the public became aware of this heinous baking act, they had questions for me— lots of questions. I was just one girl; I couldn’t answer everybody’s questions and still have time to eat, shower, breathe, etc. So, I decided to reach out and tell everyone everything I knew, all at once. This led me to produce a cooking show for DVD, which was the highest technology at that time. I begged my friend Marcus Rogers from Cinestir Films to shoot and edit. I had worked with Marcus some years prior, when acting in his movie The Widower. People were still pretty nervous about getting targeted for pot by the police at this time, so I was happy to find a willing participant in Marcus. I was then introduced to a Los Angeles distributor named Stuart Shapiro. I was given his number by a successful Hollywood manager for comics named Rick Messina. Mr. Messina thought

I was sort of funny and occasionally enjoyed smoking weed with me. So, I called Mr. Shapiro, we met for drinks, and I shared with him what I was setting out to do. He loved the idea. So much so, he and his wife flew to Vancouver to watch the filming. After a good long edit, the Shapiros returned and got US distribution for the show. High Times then offered to lend us their name gratis to help give it some clout. This first video production, High Times Presents Watermelon’s Baked N Baking, was very theatrical, complete with a “ta da” girl and a live reefer jazz band. After all, I had done only stand-up comedy or live theatre— mostly in the vaudeville vein—up until then. The film was rented out at Rogers Video for many years before it closed all of its doors in 2012. (Fear not, you can still rent it at Black Dog on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, B.C. Plus, I just googled it and found six for sale on Amazon.) Fast forward six more years and the magical, new universe called the internet exploded. In 2008, I assembled another team and started producing Baking A Fool of Myself. In particular, I enlisted the help of Tom Davidson, a 40-year veteran in film, television, and documentary. Mr. Davidson still shoots and/or directs most of my material. Baking A Fool of Myself was available in three formats: on my now defunct website,; DVD; and YouTube (where you can still find them under my user name, Water Melon).

Next, in 2015, I collaborated with New York’s Jerrick Media and Vancouver’s Lady Pants to produce Baked, a new cooking series for The series is still available online, and I believe they are selling a Kindle cookbook to accompany it. Looking forward, I am excited to say I have a groundbreaking new project coming your way in 2018: Infused. A pilot project for Script 9 Productions, Infused will explore new products, techniques, ratios, and strains. It will turn your thoughts around on what you might create with marijuana. We will do our best to make it happen!


Elizabeth Ryan owns and operates Dock Lunch (@docklunch), a day-only restaurant that serves up two or three dishes each day. After devouring lunch there one fine day with my lover, I begged Elizabeth to collaborate with me on a dish. A dish so divine, so crispy, so stone-y, so crunchy, so home-cooking, it’s what the world needs now: Fried! Fried! Chicken! Elizabeth assures us the secret’s all in the brine and dredge. Oh, and the lard. Don’t be fooled by the lackluster frying promises of coconut oil or peanut oil; good old-fashioned lard is what is needed. (Elizabeth also went beyond the call and whipped up biscuits in a New-York second, but I will save that recipe for another column.)



1 fresh whole chicken, washed, dried, and chopped into desired pieces

• Make brine.


Buttermilk (enough to submerge the chicken) 1 lemon ½ tbsp salt 1 tbsp pepper 3 chilies, partially crushed 3 cloves of garlic, partially crushed A few stems of fresh/dried dill and thyme


2-3 C flour 2 tbsp shake flour ½ tbsp garlic powder ½ tbsp onion powder 1 tbsp pepper 1 tbsp dried thyme ½ tsp cayenne pepper ½ tbsp paprika ½ tbsp salt


3 or more 450-g blocks of lard 2 tbsp shake flour (or enough cannabis-infused oil for equivalent potency)

• Soak chicken in the brine for several hours, overnight if possible. • Mix dredge ingredients in a shallow bowl or casserole dish. One at a time, dredge each piece of chicken, making sure they are evenly coated on all sides. Place chicken on a wire rack and let the pieces rest for 10 minutes, allowing the dredge to become one with the chicken. • Melt the lard in a large cast iron fry pan or Dutch oven. The oil should get about three to four inches deep. • Heat the oil to 350˚F (180˚C). This is the ideal temperature for frying. If your temperature is too low, the chicken skin will go white and never turn golden brown. If it is too hot, it will burn before it can cook all the way through. Also, keep in mind that the lard will cool down with each piece of chicken you add, so you’ll want to make sure the temperature stays up. • Add the dredged pieces of chicken one at a time, making sure to not overcrowd the pan. Do more than one batch if you have to. Turn each piece once or twice in the boiling lard. Allow 10-12 minutes per side, depending on their size. It’s done when the chicken has beautifully golden brown skin and an internal temperature of 180˚F (85˚C). • Remove chicken from the oil and place on a wire rack. You can also bake the pieces in the oven at 350˚F (180˚C) for a bit if you need to keep them hot or want to ensure its cooked all the way through.

To see Watermelon in action, check her out on YouTube. Baked: Cooking with Mary Jean is a special show that features one special ingredient: cannabis! Follow Watermelon, a.k.a. Mary Jean Dunsdon, on Twitter @weeddiva to never miss an episode, or sign up for updates at

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A fantastically talented artist from Toronto, Canada, Chloe Charles draws us in for a closer look with her sophomore release, With Blindfolds On. Her unique, self-taught fingerpicking style combine with a voice silky and soulful to leave one spellbound and affixed.

by Gibson Lannister



Gibson Lannister has been a musician for more than 15 years and continues to expand his knowledge of theory and technique.


The debut LP from NYC folksoul duo Overcoats, Young, harnesses the closeness between the two musicians, allowing for something special to unfold. They weave an intricate tapestry in our minds through bright harmonies over dark, brooding electric backgrounds. There is no getting over an album this good.


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The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer continue on their upward trajectory with new album Apocalipstick. This time the B.C.-based duo have added some soul to their gritty neo blues/rock, creating another dimension to their sound. These two guys manage to make an album sound like one hell of a live show.



Sleep Party People is the brainchild of Danish multi-instrumentalist Brian Batz, who writes, records, and produces everything SPP. Lingering is his fourth studio album and it features some collaborations with other talented artists. Sleep Party People are known for wearing rabbit masks on stage. Follow them down the rabbit hole once more.


Junior Astronomers is an awesome four-piece rock group from North Carolina and their second full-length album, Body Language, is contemporary and riddled with goodness. The more I listen to this record to more I like it. It’s the perfect backing track for your summer.



Southern belle Valerie June warms our hearts with something lost yet familiar. Her album The Order Of Time is a time capsule of the glory days when bluegrass and country were in their prime. It makes me smile every time I listen.



Hydrolife Magazine | June July 2017  

Marijuana, be it medicinal or recreational, still has a long way to go to shake the stigma it has endured for decades in North America. It c...

Hydrolife Magazine | June July 2017  

Marijuana, be it medicinal or recreational, still has a long way to go to shake the stigma it has endured for decades in North America. It c...