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Fighting for Cannabis Research

h t i w e k o m S e h t g n i r a e l C



Creating Peak Innovation with CEO Roger Volodarsky Jason Mewes on His Not-so-silent Comeback Fall 2019

George Clinton: Music, Medicine, and Marijuana How the Cannabis and LGBTQ+ Communities Can Grow Together

Actual award may vary.

The cannabis industry has a unique opportunity, as it is setting its roots, to build a base of sustainability. At Cannabis & Tech Today, we want to shine a light on those companies going above and beyond to be stewards of the environment, from sustainable growing practices to eco-friendly packaging and every other step along the cannabis life cycle.

The Cannabis & Tech Today Sustainable Leadership Awards offer the opportunity for your organization to be nationally recognized as a leader within the cannabis industry. Any cannabis business that is operating in accordance with state and local regulations in North America may apply.

All applications must be submitted before November 1, 2019 and 6 winners will be announced on December 13, 2019. CATEGORIES INCLUDE:

Water Usage

Energy Usage





Register today at


Who makes up the cannabis industry?

This is one of my favorite questions to think about whenever a conversation about the cannabusiness comes up. It’s a question that doesn’t have one exact answer and I think that’s what makes it so interesting. It’s a question that has evolved over time and something that our team ponders quite a bit.

Charles Warner, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

You see, Cannabis & Tech Today has always made it a focus to look beyond what many in the media look at when they see cannabis. We never wanted to ask important people in the industry questions like, “What’s your favorite strain?” or “Do you remember the first time you smoked?” That just didn’t fit the mission we created with this publication. We wanted to know something deeper about the people we feature. We want to know the science of the industry, the roadblocks that may not be apparent to people on the outside looking in, and the hard work that goes into running a cannabis business. We want to see these people in a genuine light. Our team kept this theme throughout our new issue, with a diverse collection of important figures within the cannabusiness making appearances. We strived to represent the entrepreneurial community with Sensi Vapes founder Tara Jane Forrest, CocoCanna co-founder Anna Pfleghaar, and PuffCo CEO Roger Volodarsky discussing everything from diversity and sustainability to the skincare industry and fostering a creative culture. On the entertainment side, we spoke with some of the most engaging personalities we’ve featured in this magazine. Cheech Marin, half of the iconic duo “Cheech & Chong,” takes a serious (but still comical) look at the substance. Parliament-Funkadelic’s legendary George Clinton discusses how he uses his music to combat the prescription drug industry. And, much like with Marin, we were able to feature yet another member of a duo with Jason Mewes discussing returning to his “Jay and Silent Bob” persona and embracing sobriety. And beyond that, we feature a look at the intersection of cannabis and the LGBTQ+ community with perspectives from leaders of the industry such as Josh Crossney, Kyle Porter, and Renee Gagnon. Additionally, on the scientific side, Dr. Sue Sisley gave us an eyeopening look at the difficulties of researching the substance. Honestly, if I were to name every single innovator in this issue, I’d run out of room on this page. The people that make up the core of this business are those we hope to always shine a light on. Entrepreneurs, activists, entertainers, and innovators continue to push this industry in the right direction, and we work hard to present their unique perspectives. And so, I ask again: Who makes up the cannabis industry? Read this issue and find out. Make sure you follow the conversation through social media and don’t forget to get involved with our Sustainable Leadership Awards and nominate someone today.


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019



A BEER WITH BELUSHI Jim Belushi’s cover feature in our summer issue was one of our all-time highlights at Cannabis & Tech Today. Belushi invited our own Associate Editor Patricia Miller to stay at his cannabis farm in Oregon, where she got to see firsthand how the comedy superstar has entered the budding cannabusiness. Well, as it turns out, that wouldn’t be the last connection we would have with the According to Jim star. When he made an appearance at the NCIA Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in San Jose, our team brought him a beer onstage, meeting up for a conversation after his speech.To put it bluntly, Jim Belushi is one cool dude.

CANNABIS & TECH & PODCASTS Considering the droves of cannabis leaders we speak with, we want as many people as possible to hear their perspectives. This inspired us to launch a long-awaited podcast of our own. Cannabis Tech Talks, the official podcast of Cannabis & Tech Today, is now available on major podcasting platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more. With recently published episodes featuring discussions with STM Canna President and CEO Aaron Ray, Cannabis Science Conference Founder Josh Crossney, and CRATIV Packaging President and CEO Bill Ludlow, Cannabis Tech Talks provides you with honest perspectives from the innovators that make up the cannabis space. SPECIAL THANKS TO: Yvette Shearer, Chrissy Walter, Jim Dissett, Zoe Wilder, Gina Cannon, Annie Graf, Stacey Pokluda, Josh Crossney


Alex Moersen


Anthony Elio Patricia Miller


Ebby Stone Louie Fox


Kevin Campbell Ian Pedersen John Brunstein Laurie Wolf Ross O’Brien Ryan Nowell


Monica Stockbridge


Adam Saldaña


Evan Kelley


Dave Van Niel Steven Higgins


David Marble


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Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

contents FALL 2019


56 Cheech Marin: Ashes to Ashes, ‘Stache to Stash By Alex Moersen Cover Photo: Dillon Sachs

66 Dr. Sue Sisley: Fight the Power By Alex Moersen Cover Photo: Gina Coleman

Departments 10 By the Numbers 12 Event Wrap-ups 14 Know Before You Open a Dispensary 16 Jobs of the Future 18 Plant Empowerment

94 Product Revolution 98 Event Calendar 100 Coming Next Issue 102 Something Edible 104 The Lighter Side

20 Innovator Profile Thinking Bigger with GoFire CEO Peter Calfee

24 Sustainability Sensi of Purpose with Sensi Vapes’ Tara Jane Forrest

28 Investing The Language of Raising Capital

32 Business Innovations The Peak of Innovation: Puffco Founder Roger Volodarsky 38 Experience is Everything 40 Opportunity in Crisis 44 Unpacking Retail


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019




contents FALL 2019

48 Legislation How LGBTQ+ & Cannabis Communities Can Grow Together

52 Health Skincare vs. Stigma

66 The Lab 74 A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet 80 Crohn’s, Concentrates, and Chinese Herbal Medicine

86 Media + Entertainment Jason Mewes Strikes Back 90 George Clinton: One Nation, Under Sedation


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

In te rn a tio n a l Pro d u c t

Sourcing and Development




Product Design



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A look at the metrics shaping the cannabis business market — and our lives Saying that the cannabusiness has grown over the years is almost cliché at this point. Thanks to consistently advanced legalization and increasingly diversified products, marijuana has become a multibillion-dollar industry. But, with this notable success, it’s easy to forget the companies themselves that have contributed to these numbers. What major companies are fueling the cannabis economy? Where does the retail side of cannabis stand up? Let’s look at the statistics that detail this retail revolution and the companies behind it.

U.S. Cannabis Revenue (Quarterly Sales) Source: / As of 8/16/19

NASDAQ: GWPH ($72.0)

OTC: TCNNF ($57.9)

OTC: KSHB ($41.5)

OTC: MMNFF ($36.6)

OTC: CURLF ($35.3)

OTC: SVVTF ($34.4)

OTC: GTBIF ($27.9)

OTC: HRVSF ($26.6)

NASDAQ: TLRY ($26.0)

OTC: MRMD ($25.7)

Cities Where Marijuana Stores Outnumber Starbucks and McDonald’s (per 100,000 residents by city) Anchorage



8.8 8.8

Retail MJ





Where Does Retail Cannabis Rank? (Billions) NFL


Taco Bell

10.8 Legal Recreation & Medical Cannabis (2018)





405 407 411 423 11/17




446 7/18










Cannabis Recreational/Medical Retail Sales Through the Years (Billions)


2018 $8.6-10









U.S. Depository Institutions Banking Marijuana-Related Companies













2022 2023 2019 2020 2021 $11.2-13.7 $15.7-19.0 $19.4-23.5 $22.4-27.4 $25.0-30.4 2020-2023 Projected / Source



Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019


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MJBizConNEXT Taking place as usual in New Orleans, MJBizConNEXT was in full force in 2019! The event, which carries a theme of disrupting the cannabis industry, gave over 250 exhibitors the opportunity to make themselves known in the space. Our publication has a bit of history with the event, having premiered at the convention last summer. Featuring a keynote speech by Stashwall Founder and CEO Anat Baron (who graced the summer cover of Cannabis & Tech Today) and over 150 speakers from around the cannabusiness, MJBizConNEXT was an insightful event that reflected an industry of innovators.


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019


NCIA Cannabis Business Summit & Expo San Jose Just walking around the incredible event by NCIA, you can tell why the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo has won the Trade Show Executive’s Fastest 50 Award in both 2016 and 2018. Taking place at San Jose McEnery Convention Center, the show featured perspectives from keynote speakers such as former Canopy Growth Corporation CEO Bruce Linton and retired NFL player/author Nate Jackson. And, not to be forgotten, Cannabis & Tech Today summer 2019 cover star Jim Belushi made a special appearance, with one of our team members even bringing him a beer onstage. Within the 120,000 square feet of the expo floor, entrepreneurs, exhibitors, attendees, and industry professionals gathered to spread knowledge on everything from cultivation and advocacy to business services and regulations within the cannabis industry.

Cannabis World Congress New York One of three events held each year (the others being held in Boston and Los Angeles), the Cannabis World Congress assembles the industry’s most prominent members into the biggest markets in the U.S. Being held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the New York event spread vital information on everything from the importance of blockchain to the process of opening a cannabis business. With an extensive list of speakers including Webjoint CEO Christopher Dell’Olio, Mary & Main Founder Hope Wiseman, and New York State Senator Diane Savino, the New York event showed how varied the culture of cannabis has become. Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today



What to Know Before Opening a Dispensary By Kevin Campbell So, maybe cannabis just recently became legal in your state. Maybe you’re a long-time enthusiast or you’re an entrepreneur looking for your next big venture. No matter your reasoning, the fact is, you’re thinking about opening up your very own dispensary. However, opening a dispensary isn’t as easy as starting your very own corner store. As you may or may not know, the cannabis industry is riddled with a number of regulations you might not be aware of. Here are some key things you should consider before starting your new business: 1) Know Your Local Legislation Even if cannabis is legal in your state, you still have to look at how your city or county views the substance. If your local government has passed legislation allowing for dispensaries, great! If your city or county hasn’t passed anything, it could be easy to assume they would follow the state’s ordinance. However, given the amount of money you will be investing into your new business, you should be sure there is no chance of being shut down, and thus should be sure your local government has explicitly stated their support of dispensaries. Regardless, it is vital that thorough research of your local legislation be involved in this first step. 2) Getting Your License Now, it’s important to know that getting the proper licensing for a dispensary, even in a cannabis-friendly community, could still be very arduous. Different counties are going to have different applications; however, most applications are merit-based, so you should be ready to prove that you’re going to be a good, responsible operator. You should hopefully have some industry or business experience and be able to show that you can execute a well-thought-out plan. So, if you are especially new to the industry, it is vital that you seek expert counsel or possibly partner with someone with more experience. 14

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

No matter what, you will need to know the ins and outs of your business completely. Be prepared to know everything from how you might handle security to how you will store your products. It is likely that you’ll need concrete answers to many of these inquiries to receive your license. 3) Securing Your Funding and Financial Management Here, again, things are a bit more complicated than your average retail store. Small business loans are probably not an option for you. In fact, working with a major bank is unlikely due to federal regulations against cannabis. This means your funding may have to come from Angel Investors or Venture Capitalists, of which there are many within the cannabis industry. Crowdfunding is also an option, as well as selffunding, if you have the capital for it.

Once you’re operational, it is not necessarily impossible to work with banks, but it is largely dependent on where you are. There are a few banks, usually smaller credit unions and regional banks, that are willing to work with cannabis businesses. Other than that, many dispensaries operate on a cash-only basis, but that might require more onsite security to protect your assets. Regardless, before even starting the application process, you should know how you will secure your funding and how you will manage your finances once you are operational. And these are just the basics. This list only serves as a primer for what to expect, and is in no way a comprehensive list of things you need to do to get your dispensary off the ground. My final piece of advice: do your own thorough research and seek expert advice from someone with industry experience before you start your new venture. ❖

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Temporary Talent A look at the services and technologies connecting short-term talent to top-tier companies. By Ebby Stone In the United States, there are more workers employed in the legal cannabis industry than there are dental hygienists. That’s according to a 2019 study conducted by Leafly and Whitney Economics. Per their report, the largest sector of new job creation in the U.S. is legal cannabis.

innovations to come out of such programs is the ability to hire consultants on an hourly or contract basis. This can be an invaluable resource for those who are just entering the space, as well as for seasoned professionals seeking an outside perspective on how to grow their brand.

With all of these workers, it may come as a surprise that finding skilled temporary labor is still a challenge. Do they have the proper experience, certifications, and mindset to work effectively within your organization? More importantly, can you trust them to be a valued member of your team, even if it’s just for a few weeks or months while seeking a long-term fit?

Bernard explains, “If a cannabis company is looking to open up a bunch of dispensaries, we have consultants who can come in and help them set it up. They’ll help them merchandise correctly, help them hire the right staff, and then make sure the operational models and SOPs are in place and basically get it up and running. Really for any vertical of the cannabis industry, we have consultants who could work on a contract or hourly basis.”

Finding a qualified consultant to assist with a short-term project or expansion can also be difficult. Who can you trust? How much will it cost? Have they worked on similar projects? Finding an experienced consultant could make the difference between a successful expansion or a costly overreach. For business owners seeking consultants or temporary talent, new resources are making the search easier than ever. Companies like CannabizTEMP are offering employers a much-needed tool for sourcing skilled labor quickly and effectively. CEO and founder of CannabizTEMP Liesl Bernard shared how her team is able to effectively source qualified candidates for such a wide variety of positions: “We often find people from other industries, who can transition into the cannabis industry very easily, who have the necessary expertise. For instance, food, consumer packaging, wine and spirits; people who have dealt with regulated industries usually transition very well.” Perhaps one of the most important


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

Some services, like CannabizTEMP, use a ranking service where consultants and temporary employees are rated by their performance. This ensures temporary hires are incentivized to perform at their best and gives employers a scale to inform their hiring decisions. Rating systems are one tool staffing agencies use to refine their selections. Bernard detailed some of the other ways tech can be useful in recruiting: “If we’re looking for people with a certain skill set, we can search our robust database for people who are a match in certain areas. We also have very advanced LinkedIn search tools that we use in order to identify candidates who are a potential match. Technology is a big part of recruiting in any industry today.” Whether seeking seasonal hires, short-term stand-ins, or a qualified consultant, temporary staffing agencies are providing a vital bridge between talent and opportunity. ❖

Average Salary Data Waterstone recently surveyed over 3,000 employees of the cannabis industry to gather much-needed salary data. Surveying a number of senior executives, including CEOs, Founders, and COOs, Waterstone was able to learn more about the average salaries for these positions. Here is what they found. Chief Executive Officer Base Salary: $197,857 Bonus Target: 33% Equity 9.0% Chief Financial Officer Base Salary: $211,250 Bonus Target: 22.5% Equity: 6.0% Chief Technology Officer Base Salary: $183,333 Bonus Target: 10% Equity: 1.0% Chief Operating Officer Base Salary: $280,715 Bonus Target: 20% Equity: 3.0% Chief Marketing Officer Base Salary: $258,333 Bonus Target: 30% Equity: 2.0% Head of Cultivation Base Salary: $105,750 Bonus Target: 30% Equity: 2.0% Chief Revenue Officer Base Salary: $216,000 Bonus Target: 20% Equity: 6.0% Chief HR Officer Base Salary: $250,000 Bonus Target: 0.0% Equity: 1.0% For full results, please visit


Getting Assimilated with Assimilates By Louie Fox

In the growing process, one word remains a constant: balance. In our previous Plant Empowerment piece, we touched on the need for maintaining balance when it comes to water, energy, and assimilates for strong, healthy growth. However, while even the newest grower is aware of plant and energy needs, the assimilates balance is a new topic entirely. To put it simply, the assimilates balance is that between the consumption and production of glucose. The production of these assimilates is the result of photosynthesis, where water and carbon dioxide become photo-chemically synthesized into oxygen and glucose. Once produced, these assimilates are utilized in a plant’s growth, often converting into new plant tissues and releasing carbon dioxide into the air. Temperature is a vital factor in growth and photosynthesis alike, with higher temperatures resulting in quicker assimilate use and production. Now that we’ve examined the basics of assimilates, let’s dive into how they can further stimulate the growing process.

Maximizing Assimilates Because of the massive importance of assimilates in the growing process, production mixed with utilizing Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) light is a major focus. However, getting the most out of these assimilates is vital to achieving optimum plant growth. In order to reach this goal, it is necessary that assimilate production is maximized throughout photosynthesis, the use of assimilates for growth is stimulated as much as possible, and generative and vegetative development is balanced.

Getting the Most Out of the Greenhouse While there are many factors that go into assimilate production, greenhouse climate should definitely not be overlooked. Everything 18

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

from humidity and water availability to carbon dioxide and PAR lighting are key components in getting the most out of the greenhouse. It’s important to note that maintaining an optimal photosynthesis temperature under high radiation (around 30°C for most plants) is highly recommended. Interestingly, there are many situations in which assimilates production and photosynthesis can actually be escalated with additional misting or closing greenhouse ventilation windows.

Vegetative Growth, Meet Generative Growth As mentioned earlier, the balance between generative and vegetative growth is something to keep in mind. This balance can be found by keeping an eye on the climate, ensuring that it doesn’t tip too much towards vegetative or generative. However, it’s best to simply nip these

balance issues in the bud by maintaining a ratio between average temp and the total PAR, decreasing the need for restorative actions.

Remember the Ratio As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, balance has been the theme of this entry in the Plant Empowerment series. This is fitting, as we are closing by taking a look at the important ratio between the average temperature (or the consumption of assimilates) and the PAR sum (or the assimilate production). This can be done by creating a 30-day scatter plot of these two factors, taking note of the regression line, and adjusting accordingly. Working with this ratio is just one more step towards maximizing assimilate production, photosynthesis, and, most importantly, growth. ❖ For more information on assimilates, visit https://

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Thinking Bigger One company’s mission to change the face of healthcare, one vape at a time. By Patricia Miller

CEO and Founder of Gofire Peter Calfee.


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019


CEO Peter Calfee started his business with the intention to create a dose-regulated vaporizer. More so, an inhaler which could give patients and recreational users consistent results. It sounds simple, but its implications are vast. During this exclusive interview, Calfee shared part of the conversation he had with his business partner John Woodbine prior to starting the company: “[Woodbine] said, ‘I think the biggest problem is the amount of fear around overconsuming.’ Again, the patient who’s looking for just enough to make their headache go away or allow them to get through the day, but they don’t want to be bombed in front of their kids… That conversation really made me feel like we had a moral obligation to figure out how to create the ability to quantify one’s consumption and enable that control.” The surprise for both Calfee and Woodbine is how their technology would enable clinicians to study patient interactions, dosing, and efficacy with the most accuracy of any delivery method ever created. Calfee shared, “From the clinical environment, what we didn’t realize as we were developing it, and what was a pleasant surprise, is that for clinicians within the space who are trying to do clinical research, there’s no way to create a study where you have absolute control over the variables without the GoFire Health Suite.” The innovation is within the technology itself. Calfee explains, “The first thing we set out to do, I have to give the credit to John here, is this concept of physical extrusion. When we talk about a dose, what we’re talking about is actually how our cartridges work… Essentially, it’s a threaded syringe. We actually do a physical extrusion of product out the nozzle of that cartridge into another chamber where we’re vaporizing that product.” He continues, “We can be very precise in how much is extruded. Then, we use convection because we’re able to control the temperature within .34 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re able to use convection, which does not degrade the chemical profile of that product. It just does a phase change versus a conduction or

The Gofire App and Inhaler work together to form the Gofire Health Suite, a comprehensive system created to give users repeatable experiences and consistent dosing.

combustion system that’s changing that chemical profile. We use convection across that extruded dose, which is in 2.5 milligram increments.” But, each cartridge may have different compounds available in variable amounts. That’s why they made their cartridges communicate with the inhaler and with the accompanying app. Calfee explains, “When you drop the cartridge into the device, the device recognizes the unique ID number of that cartridge. From there, that unique ID number, which is associated with that specific cartridge, is tossed over to the server by the smartphone app. The server then kicks back the third party lab test result associated with that specific batch of product of which that specific cartridge was a part.” All of this data, as well as the Gofire app itself, create a platform for clinicians to see the results of the dose they’re prescribing. Calfee describes the revelation: “[the clinicians] have absolute control over all of the variables because of this connected drug delivery mechanism that does not allow for human error or human influence over the usage trends… We’re able to tie that to efficacy and outcomes. It provides a platform for the clinical researcher that’s a full service clinical oversight platform allowing them to create systems, studies, and build clinicals that can be set up to be peer reviewed.”

That “peer reviewed” bit is important. It means for the first time, researchers have a tool for creating precision, repeatable studies on cannabis. In Calfee’s words, “If you go do that same study, you’re going to see the same results. That’s research, that’s science, and that’s peer reviewed. We need that for these studies to be adopted and utilized in reference in mainstream medicine.” Calfee often talks about creating a “shot glass for the industry,” a consistent means of measurement for cannabis of all varieties. In his words, “That’s the ability to quantify your consumption and understand the unit of measure associated with how much you’re Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today



The Gofire team (some members pictured below) have refined their platform to offer consumers valuable insight into their use patterns. CEO Peter Calfee likes to think of it as a “shot glass” for the industry.

Calfee realizes now that when he first began his journey with Gofire, it was about creating that “shot glass,” but now that he’s seen the impact of the tool, he’s thinking bigger. This technology could revolutionize healthcare as a whole, not just for cannabis.

“… we had a moral obligation to figure out how to create the ability to quantify one’s consumption and enable that control.” taking into your body so you can create repeatable results, so you can avoid repeat, bad experiences. That’s what we want to enable at Gofire with this delivery mechanism.” When I asked Calfee what he wished he would have known when he entered the industry, he quoted his father, “You need to think bigger.” 22

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

If clinicians had a tool like this for opioids, for example, the overseeing clinician would have a platform to see how patients were using the medicine. Were they taking too much, taking it too often, skipping doses? It may have prevented some of the 17,000 deaths caused by prescription opioid overdoses in 2017. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning why this is such a personal mission for Calfee. When he was 24, Calfee was paralyzed from the waist down in a devastating car accident. He was sent home with, in his terms, “a trash bag full of opiates,” and told to take them “as needed” every four hours for his shattered spine. He quickly developed a tolerance and began taking more to achieve the same results. His company needed him but the work was impossible thanks to his prescription druginduced haze.

He asked his doctor to help him wean off. Calfee shared, “I used the very first prototype to essentially create a regimen for myself. That’s what allowed me to quickly get off of the opiates and build Gofire. Gofire was essentially built on the back, no pun intended, of this concept of consistency, control, and alternative medicine.” Calfee is taking his father’s advice and thinking bigger, much bigger. He shared his ambitions in no uncertain terms, “What I’m trying to do is fix medicine, is fix how we interact with the healthcare systems. I think that these are inherent flaws. I think that it took me years of playing within this industry to realize that a lot of the systems and tools that we were building do not stop in alternative health. This is a pilot for a far greater, far more impactful mission, which is, how do you fix the healthcare system in America? It’s broken, we know it.” That’s a mission that, whether one is interested in cannabis or not, we should all support. ❖ To read Calfee’s full interview and learn more about the Gofire Health Suite, subscribe to


A Sensi of Purpose How one cannabis entrepreneur is inspiring diversity and environmentalism. By Anthony Elio

While the cannabis industry is no doubt on an upward trajectory, issues still persist within. Two of these prevalent problems are sustainability and diversity. Denver’s Westword reported that cannabusiness’ electricity usage will increase by 162 percent by 2020, with carbon emissions and packaging waste posing additional problems. Diversity within the workplace has also been a concern, with MjBizDaily reporting in 2017 that only 17 percent of executive positions in cannabisrelated businesses are held by minorities. Challenging these two issues is just part of Tara Jane Forrest’s mission. Founder of the luxury vaporizer company Sensi Vapes, Tara Jane Forrest is focused on diversity and sustainability. That dedication has been getting attention in the industry, as 24

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

evidenced by her exclusive features on the website New CBD Hemp Oil and the publication High Times. In our discussion, Forrest described her inspiring introduction to the world of CBD, why environmentalism is a cornerstone of her business, and how she would improve the business landscape surrounding cannabis. Cannabis & Tech Today: What was the inspiration for Sensi Vapes? Tara Jane Forrest: In 2017, me and my business acquaintance, we started the idea of forming a processing facility in Kingston, Jamaica, which is where we’re both originally from, because Jamaica was on the verge of legalizing cannabis for medicinal use and we already had a license through the Ethiopian

community. That’s where our passion for cannabis started. In that same year, I had a really bad accident. It was a hit-and-run. I was walking through a plaza and somebody hit me with their car and drove off, and it essentially broke my back. That happened in Atlanta, Georgia and a part of the treatment was to take oxycodone, you know, hydrocodone. And I really didn’t want to have to do that for pain management because, I’ve heard about the addiction problems and how it wreaks havoc on your body. So, I decided I was going to vape CBD because it’s the fastest way to ingest into your bloodstream. It’s the most effective, so far as it’s been proven. So I ordered up a whole bunch of vape pens in preparation for recovery, and all of them

// SUSTAINABILITY // A Sensi of Purpose

seemed very subpar. They didn’t meet expectations, either from what was advertised or the quality. And that’s really where the idea of Sensi Luxury’s first product line being vaporizers came about. C&T Today: How does Sensi Vapes approach sustainability? TJF: So one thing that we did is, we made the accessories that come with the pen reusable. To go into the future of what we’re trying to do, even for our packaging, it’s recycled materials. What I have noticed is in the market, there are a lot of disposable vape pens, and when individuals dispose of their vape pens right now – you already know there’s a pollution problem, not just in the U.S. but globally – you’re talking about lithium batteries that are just being disposed of every day. So we wanted to make sure that we built a product that would last at least six months to a year. Then what we ask is that if they want, they can send it back to us for us to properly recycle, and we’ll send a return vehicle to them, and 26

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

send them a new vape pen or new accessory at no additional cost. C&T Today: What inspired this sustainable mission? TJF: It’s more so from my personal life. I came from a very small island in Jamaica where pollution is a problem, so it’s not something that you could easily avoid. From then on I’ve always been big on recycling plastics, and batteries have always been a huge issue of recycling in Jamaica and it’s a hazard to the environment. So considering that all our devices have lithium batteries, I want to ensure we’re doing our part as a new company and, to me, for the cannabis industry, it needs to start from seed to sale. From cultivation and processing to packaging to which devices we’re selling to consumers to use. It needs to be embedded into that process. C&T Today: If you could fix one issue within the cannabis industry, what would it be? TJF: I would say it would be to allow banking for cannabis companies. That would be the

biggest thing. And the reason why isn’t just so existing businesses have a way to collaborate and don’t feel the need to remain in the black market. It’s more for other individuals who want to join the community of cannabis companies who may not be able to self-fund. To have women, people of color and minorities joining the cannabis industry, funding needs to be made available, and the only way to do that is by first passing that bill in Congress and changing the banking regulations. Once that changes, more groups will be invested into research and development and allow the opportunity for more synergy of grass companies and with that comes sustainability and diversity. As a woman building my own company, the cannabis industry has really been typically white male-dominated. And so, as a non-white female joining the community, we try and do our part and ensure that when we’ve hired on our company and when we’re partnering with other individuals we’re reaching out to all groups, and we’re inclusive of everybody. ❖


The Power to Turn Energy Expenses into Income

How growers and property owners can save, or make, money through smarter utility use and microgrid generation. The cannabis industry uses a huge amount of energy. Studies show that cannabis production in the United States occupies one percent of the country’s entire energy bill. According to research from cannabis industry analysts at New Frontier Data, the United States’ total electricity demand from legal marijuana cultivation alone is estimated to grow 162 percent between 2017 to 2022. For cannabis grow houses, monthly utility bills can range in the tens of thousands, and even a short power outage can be extremely costly given reduced and damaged yields. CleanSpark is a distributed energy technology company setting out to help large power users like grow houses and cannabis industry-focused property owners reduce costs and generate a more reliable, resilient, sustainable, and scalable method of energy production. They’re doing it by leveraging distributed generation and energy storage. Through distributed energy, technologies including clean solar power and battery-driven energy storage, CleanSpark helps its customers lower their utility costs and, in the case of property owners, boost their property’s income through energy resale to tenants leasing facilities for energy intensive applications. We sat down with CleanSpark COO Bryan Huber to learn more about how growers, and property owners who lease space to them, can keep the lights on while lowering energy costs. Cannabis & Tech Today: How is CleanSpark helping customers reduce energy costs and retain more income and profit for their businesses? Bryan Huber: Many of our customers are facility owners managing capital-intensive properties. For them, the core benefits of a CleanSpark system involve cost avoidance, first and foremost. With energy costs getting higher every year, and yield prices reducing amidst increased competition, facility owners are looking for any opportunity for cost savings.

CleanSpark solutions often offer rapid payback periods with energy savings reaching as much as 50-80 percent. From a volume perspective, many utilities cannot bring more power capacity to growers inside of two years. Thus, by not relying completely on utility power, a grow operation’s near-term scaling becomes more feasible with distributed energy. Lastly, with the ability to generate their own power and also store it, owners are at once reducing energy expenses for tenants by producing a portion of the energy on-site, offering better, lower-cost service through clean energy and by adding energy security to the property – all while boosting overall property income through energy resale to tenants. In any case, growers, tenants, and landlords all win. Further, CleanSpark’s proprietary system allows the integration of any existing energy resources already on site. C&T Today: Do customers need to get off the grid entirely in order to save energy costs? BH: Not entirely. The trick is to know what system maximizes your return on investment, and operating the system against the utility’s rate structure to provide those returns. This offers an economically optimized option. There’s still a benefit to utility power, especially during off-peak hours when energy can be much cheaper. However, reducing your need for utility energy during peak hours can help control those energy costs surgically while also providing backup power in the event of a utility outage. Pairing on-site generation with energy storage and standby power, CleanSpark’s solutions significantly reduce or eliminate peak energy demand, enable storing power from low cost periods for use during high-cost periods, and

CleanSpark COO Bryan Huber

provide backup power should the grid go down. Customers can repeat a similar pattern each day according to the variations in load profile, the utility rate, and solar availability. With this strategy, CleanSpark’s systems help reduce energy costs associated with production, eliminate lost production due to power outages, and put more of your hard-earned money back into your pockets. Since CleanSpark is completely vendor agnostic and isn’t a hardware manufacturer, our core focus is on maximizing efficiencies, regardless of what equipment best delivers that value. C&T Today: How does CleanSpark help reduce a facility’s carbon footprint? BH: CleanSpark reduces customers’ carbon footprints by providing self-generation power options, often renewable, that reduce reliance on traditional utility companies. This frees up customers from aspects of grid-power previously out of their control, including price hikes, power outages, and higher emissions associated with grid power. ❖ To learn more about the potential for cost savings and energy reduction with CleanSpark’s innovative power technology, visit Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today



The Language of Raising Capital By Ross O’Brien

Raising capital from investors is one of the single most difficult tasks an entrepreneur has to manage. One of the key challenges is negotiating with investors who most likely have much deeper experience in structures and investment terms. Three key terms that form the language of raising capital that every entrepreneur needs to be proficient in are: 1. Term Sheets 2. Valuation 3. Due Diligence 1. Term Sheets A term sheet is a non-binding document (meaning that it is unenforceable and the terms are not binding until the definitive agreements are executed) that investors present to a company that outlines the structure of the transaction they are interested in pursuing. The 28

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019 Vesalainen

Have you ever taken a tango lesson? If so, then talking about starting in an “open embrace for traveling ochos” will mean something to you. To the rest of us, it’s Greek. And just like the tango, raising capital is a dance that is built around a unique language. Speaking with investors requires an understanding of the language of investment finance and, like all forms of communication, the key to success is being a good listener. term sheet is the first major inflection point to moving a deal forward and should be heavily scrutinized with your legal counsel. The term sheet will outline the key terms that both parties will agree to when the transaction closes and it typically includes the major key deal points such as assignment of board seats, valuation, types of securities (preferred or common equity), investment amount, timing of the deal, antidilution, transfer restrictions for selling the company, and other key governance rights and voting rights. It is advised for both the investor and the entrepreneur to negotiate and agree to a term sheet as soon as possible if they desire to consummate a deal together. This ensures that neither party spends an inordinate amount of time on due diligence if the terms under which

they will close are not aligned. There is no benefit to spending months on due diligence with an investor if they want to own 51 percent or more of the company and you are not prepared to sell an ownership stake. 2. Valuation When raising capital, the investor and current owner need to agree to what the value of the company is today. A valuation is needed to strike a share price for the investment that correlates to a percentage ownership. Private companies do not have a market for their shares and therefore, unlike public companies, do not have any way to liquidate their investment. This also means that without a market for the securities, the valuation of the company in a private transaction is ultimately negotiated. The ownership of the company through the investment is communicated through a “premoney” and “post-money” valuation. Pre-money valuation is just that, the agreed value of the company before the investment closes and then what the value of the company is when you add the money from the investment to the calculation. This is important because it also implies what the shareholders will each own in the event of the company selling or some other liquidity event in the future.

// INVESTING // The Language of Raising Capital

The below chart is a simple calculation of preand post-money valuation: To get to a valuation for the transaction, the parties must agree to what the company is valued at today. Valuation is tricky because there is a combination of standard business metrics that are normally used, but with a private company those metrics may not be entirely applicable. For example, when a company has several years of profits measured in Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA), an investor can apply a multiple to that measurement to value the implied cashflow benefits of the company in the future. A five-time multiple, for example, implies that the company is valued today at five times the current EBITDA. Implied in multiple calculations are the assets and liabilities of a company and therefore a proxy for current and future enterprise value. What happens when a company does not have any profits to speak of? In this situation, the investor and the company need to come to a shared belief as to what the company will be worth in the future if it is successful. The valuation of the company becomes more about

quantitative metrics such as intellectual property or addressable market and management. The projected future performance is emphasized over past performance. As we know, nothing is guaranteed in the future, so more times than not the company and the investor have such varying views as to what the performance will likely be that a deal cannot be achieved. This is why there can be such a massive disconnect on valuation for an early stage company where the investor perceives greater execution risk than the founders. 3. Due Diligence Due Diligence (DD) is the term for the deep analysis that an investor performs to understand all the elements of the business they are planning to invest in. DD starts from the very first interactions when an investor starts evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the founders and management team and continues into an in-depth process that is completed before the transaction closes. With a term sheet agreed to, the investor will look at every aspect of the company from all the contracts and communications, to third party independent studies on any technology or intellectual

Company A Pre-Money Valuation Investment Sought

$5,000,000 $2,000,000

Post-Money Valuation


Pre-Money Ownership


Post-Money Ownership

Founders Investment Sought

Valuation $5,000,000 —

%Ownership 100% 0%

Valuation — $2,000,000

%Ownership 71% 29%






Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

property and a very deep analysis of the financial performance of the business. This can be a very intense phase of the process, because essentially the investor is trying to find any reasons not to complete the transaction. They are looking for risk factors that will contribute to the business not performing in the future. It is often overlooked that this is also a time for the current shareholders to do their own DD on the investors. DD is a bilateral process and entrepreneurs should also seek references for the investor and talk to other management teams they have invested in. At the end of the day, both parties are agreeing to a meaningful financial relationship through an investment, and the stakes are extremely high. It is therefore critical to speak the language in order to manage the communication to a mutually beneficial outcome. Now that you know how to dance the tango with a partner, are you ready to enter into marriage and form a long-term investment partnership? ❖ Ross O’Brien is the Founder of Bonaventure Equity, a late stage cannabis venture capital fund that provides investment capital, regulatory access, and an operational platform for leading entrepreneurs. Ross is also the founder of the Cannabis Dealmakers Summits event series and the Green Ignition Ventures accelerator program, and the author of the forthcoming book “Cannabis Capital” on Entrepreneur Press. Learn more at:;;

Dusty Baker has had a long, successful career, but who would have imagined he would realize his entrepreneurial vision in the micro-grid space? Four years ago, Baker established Baker Energy Team, an energy solutions company based in California. The company is now a trusted renewable energy technology solution provider. We design, develop, own, and operate independent, clean energy, distributed-generation power plants used by large-scale energy plants in both commercial and industry sectors. “Our focus has always been on scaling the heights of the renewable energy market,” Dusty adds. At no cost to the consumer, Baker enables clients to create their own energy without depending on traditional power generation methods. In 2017, BET expanded its portfolio to include microgrids for both commercial and industry segments, which integrate seamlessly with renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind power, small hydro power, and geothermal power.

Rethink The Way You Use Energy Micro Grid • Solar • Battery/EV Charging Stations • LED Lighting • Roofing HVAC • Wind Power • COGEN • Energy Management System (EMS)


The Peak of Innovation

How Roger Volodarsky’s quest for the perfect hit launched his career as an industry-leading innovator. By Patricia Miller

Innovations occur around us all the time. Concentrates were an innovation, refining the cannabis plant to its purest form. Similarly, dabbing is an innovation, born out of the desire for higher highs, stronger flavors, and a more pure experience. The dab rig too has undergone years of improvements, inching its way from a hot butter knife and a stove to complex glass rigs with electric nails. But, as we know from our constant race to buy the latest smartphone or IoTenabled gizmo, technology is always advancing toward its next greatest iteration. 32

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

In the dab rig market, the Puffco Peak is that iteration. It’s the first smart rig ever created, offering haptic feedback, intelligent temperature calibration, and smart sensors to let the user know when their perfect hit is ready.

A few short years later, his team released the Puffco Peak – the world’s first smart dab rig. The device doesn’t require torches, red-hot bowls, or dripping wax. It’s elegant, clean, and approachable.

Puffco CEO Roger Volodarsky is familiar with innovation. His first invention, the Puffco Pro, was awarded High Times Best Vaporizer of the Year in 2015. It was the first concentrate vaporizer to offer temperature control and its design eradicated cotton wicks, glues, and plastics in the airpath, offering a cleaner and better-tasting smoke.

To learn how Puffco fosters a culture of innovation and what challenges they’ve encountered along the way, we spoke with Volodarsky in this exclusive interview. Cannabis & Tech Today: You’ve created several industry-leading products. What was most surprising to you about the development process?








// BUSINESS INNOVATIONS // The Peak of Innovation

coil-based vaporizer. By the time the Plus had come out, the Pro was already old technology, but because of the cult following, people missed it, and they would not stop asking us for it. When we were done with the Plus, the question came up, “What’s next?” I was torn between two places. I can either go and make this dream product of mine that I’ve been dreaming of for years, pretty much since the beginning of Puffco, or we can work on making the fans happy and giving them a follow-up to the Puffco Pro. At that point, I made one of my biggest mistakes of my career at Puffco, and I decided to do what the fans wanted instead of what we wanted, and that was to make something very similar to the cult following product we had made before. It was old technology. We released it and it was very well received. Financially, it wasn’t a failure of a product, but mission wise, we had taken a step backwards. We didn’t believe in coils. We didn’t like the experience of the Pro 2, but here we were making and selling something that we don’t believe in. It actually put me into quite a bit of a depression. I started resenting coming into work. I would come in mid-afternoon, because I just didn’t love what I was doing. It wasn’t this creative chase anymore. It was just trying to make money and that’s not why I’m in this. Volodarsky worked tirelessly with his team to develop Puffco’s capstone product, the Peak.

Roger Volodarsky: It seems like there’s no rule book for product development. It’s kind of this race of getting there however you can. That’s something that took me years to learn. For a while, you feel like you’re underqualified, and you don’t know what it takes, and it’s filled with constant failure. After a while of living in that failure, you realize that, “Oh, this is what product development is.” We’re trying to create products that don’t exist, have never existed, and there’s nothing like them. When you’re trying to do that, it’s a really hard road to walk down because you have to guide people into manufacturing things that work for you and you just don’t have that ability.


Cannabis & Tech Today // Summer 2019

Product development - we like to call it a nightmare that we’re very down for.

I’m in this because there’s this large satisfaction of chasing the impossible and actually getting close to what you were going for. That passion, that kept me in this, was no longer there.

C&T Today: While on this journey to design the Peak, Puffco was still releasing other products. How did you stay so focused on the Peak while creating your other designs?

So, we released the Pro 2, and we still have other ideas that will come to light in the next year or so, but Avi, our head of product development, asked me, “What do you want to come out with next? Now we’re here, the Pro 2 is out. We have a lot of options. We have a few ideas on the table.” I said, “Let’s do the Peak. I wanna do something that I love again, something new, something different, and I think it’s worth us going all in.” The Peak was really us getting back to our roots of making a product that we felt could change our lives.

RV: There was a cult following for our original product that we discontinued, the Puffco Pro, a

All these ideas and conversations that we had, we finally got to work on it. The entire company,

You have to learn to push through failure, and thrive in it, because it feels impossible, but every little bit of progress you make is so empowering that it gets you through all of the resistance that comes after that.





think of a cleanspark microgrid as a machine that prints authentic, legal $100 dollar bills The question isn’t, “How much does it cost?” The only question you should be asking is, “How fast can I plug it in?”

kilowatt hours for the cost of kilowatt minutes

CleanSpark is the leader in smart energy solutions for the cannabis industry. Give us a few minutes and we’ll show you how an intelligent, resilient, technology-driven microgrid solution can drop energy costs while reducing your dependency on the power grid – or even supply your energy needs off-grid. Battery storage plus a solar system and generators can reduce your power bill by up to 80% while protecting your grow house from blackouts, cyber-attacks and other operational concerns. A CleanSpark microgrid is affordable, secure, safe, autonomous and blinkless. Get all the details today. Call (801) 244-4405. Or visit us online at

REDUCE YOUR ENERGY COSTS BY UP TO 80% Your microgrid automatically monitors rate fluctuations to purchase power when rates are at their lowest – for use during hours of peak demand.

// BUSINESS INNOVATIONS // The Peak of Innovation

our entire design and engineering team, and our entire operations team pushed everything else to the side, except for the maintenance of current products, and went full-force in developing the Puffco Peak…

collecting their pipes and their bongs for years, are now making this new form that works with the technology that they love. It’s something that we want to see grow even more, and we’re going to help foster that however we can.

There’s always this magic point that you’re chasing and you think you’ll never hit in product development. But if you keep chasing it, refining, and learning, you end up getting there, and we finally got that one beautiful hit out of the product.

For me, it was less about doing something just for the community and more about having a community full of innovators, and that’s why it’s so important for me to foster them as much as possible. Because of them, the Peak exists. It’s been inspired by all the work they’ve put in for the past few decades, and we want them to help us grow this technology and grow this new developing trend in consumption, as far as we can take it, and hope that they benefit from that growth as well, as much as we do.

C&T Today: Each year, you hold the Puffco Glass Open, a glass competition showcasing custom designs by glass artists across the country. Why is that important to you? RV: That’s something that we were heavily trying to push before the release of the Peak by engaging with different artists, asking them to make different tops, for the glass portion of the Peak, to show that this is more than just a smart dabbing device. This device is meant to replace your relationship, as you know it, with cannabis. We’re seeing how much the fans benefit from [the Glass Open], they get all these custom pieces. And the artists, who they’ve been

C&T Today: If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice when you were first starting Puffco, what would it be? RV: If I were speaking to myself, I would say, “Trust yourself, and trust the people that you hire to grow you.” That’s been a hard lesson for me to learn. I think that, for the first few years, I was a bit of a crazy and neurotic CEO. I wasn’t listening to

my employees and I thought I knew best. I was difficult. I think that the moment that I started listening to my employees and believing in myself… You need to believe in yourself to hear feedback and be able to use it to grow. There has to be a confidence that what you’re hearing will benefit you, and not something for you to get defensive about. I spent most, or at least half of my career at Puffco, not believing in myself, feeling like I’m the dumbest person in the room, and I believe that to be the case today. I believe that, in a room full of all my employees, I am, in fact, the dumbest one. But, I feel a sense of pride and confidence from that these days instead of feeling inadequate, and that comes from belief in myself. I know the value that I bring to the table. I hold their value closer to my heart than I do my own, but I do that because I know that they are not without a leader. They have somebody who believes in them, and who will build out whatever he has to, to keep them being the best version of themselves. Yeah, if I could go back in time and tell myself anything, it would just be, “Believe in yourself and believe in the people you have hired to grow your business.” ❖

Puffco may have developed the unique technology within the Peak, but glass artists are continuing to create new and artistic variations for the glass topper. (Bottom left) Glass art hand blown for the Puffco Peak. (Right) The Puffco Peak in its unaltered form.


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019


A Deeper Look at Child-Resistant Packaging If there’s one constant in retail cannabis, it’s child-resistant packaging. It may not be as sexy as some aspects of doing business, but it helps make the entire industry more accountable for the well-being of our communities. Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be child resistant with CRATIV CEO Bill Ludlow.

minutes to try and open the package… If they get it open, the test fails. “Child Resistant” (vs. “Child Proof ”) is the correct term since only 90 percent (45 out of 50) are required to pass.

CRATIV CEO Bill Ludlow and their child-resistant packaging

What makes a product child resistant?

How do you ensure packaging is child-safe, but also easy enough for an adult to open? The testing procedure also has a component called the Senior Adult Use Effectiveness Test (SAUE). That portion of the test requires 100 adults (ages 50 to 70) and is intended to make sure adults are able to get the package open. Why is CR packaging such a vital component of cannabis legalization?

Canadian and United States Federal laws have child-resistant standards in place that define child-resistant packaging testing procedures.

We must not give any excuse for our government not to legalize cannabis. The lack of childresistant packaging is one example of a potential excuse. ❖

The test is administered by a third party. It requires 50 children, ages three to five, to be given 10



Experience is Everything How today’s leading companies are offering consumers the control they demand and the transparency they expect. By Ebby Stone

When perusing products at your local dispensary, how do you decide what to purchase? Perhaps you were enticed by a budtender’s description, “This Sour Diesel sativa is 21 percent THC. It’s best known for its strong, diesel-like aroma.” You think to yourself, “Mmm, diesel-like aroma…” Or perhaps you think about the THC content, the density of the buds, or which product is the most affordable. Deciding what to buy and determining how it will affect you is an uncertain science. More frustrating still, regulations and a lack of quality research prevents budtenders from making statements about how a product will make you feel or what its medical properties might be. Fortunately, many companies are moving toward experience-based marketing and packaging to help consumers decide which products are best suited for their desires. In a recent interview with actor Jim Belushi, he noted, “People know what they’re going to feel after one glass of wine, two glasses of wine, three glasses of wine. So with marijuana, the new consumer is afraid. They’ve had a bad edible 38

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

experience, or they smoked six percent THC Mexican ragweed in the 70s and the new stuff is 25 percent THC and they get scared…” And he’s right. Most consumers are seeking a certain outcome when they ingest cannabis and they want it to be predictable. Green Revolution, a Washington-based company, offers 4 categories of experiences for customers to choose from. These categories, such as “Elevate,” or “Chill,” indicate what people can expect from each specific formulation. But the reality is much more complex than a description on a bottle. Creating blends that actually deliver on what they promise is a meticulous science. CEO of Green Revolution Leo Schlovsky shared how his company makes their precision formulations: “Once we know the genetic makeup of what we are working with, we can better understand the intended effect from the terpene profile. We use this as a base understanding to create a ratio of meticulously selected CBD and THC strains to map the effect we want to achieve in each unique product across all product lines that we produce.” He continues, “After all of this, we start to

concentrate on the synergy of what other natural holistic compounds, adaptogens, herbs, essential oils, and vitamins we can formulate together with said profiles to map each product to an exact experience, and enhance the overall experience with more depth and consistency per use.” Enhancing the overall experience also comes from speaking to people in a way they understand. It’s easy to forget how intimidating cannabis terminology sounds to new customers. For a military veteran or a retired teacher, words like sativa, terpenes, and even THC may not be familiar concepts. Schlovsky explains, “We are speaking to customers in a language they already know and use… The experience-based products drive home the point that cannabis is not simply about getting high, but is really a wonder plant with a multitude of beneficial uses. Today’s customers are focused on self-care and using natural means to achieve desired wellness outcomes. So the language of experience is the language of wellness and helps users make a smoother transition into what may be an unfamiliar world of cannabis products.” ❖


Add to Cart

How voice packets, ranking algorithms, and digital fences are making dreams of an “Amazon for cannabis” a reality. at Work

I like to do my shopping online. I can compare products, prices, and reviews at my leisure. Many Americans prefer to shop on the web. U.S. merchants raked in more than 517 billion dollars in online retail sales in 2018, according to a recent Internet Retailer report.

market participants face increasing competition, our platform will be an essential tool that helps companies compete. C&T Today: What strategies do you find are most effective for both retail and online cannabis businesses?

With all of this money pouring into ecommerce, why is the cannabis industry resigned to outdated brick-and-mortar sales tactics? Both cannabis businesses and consumers want the convenience of online shopping, but strict regulations surrounding imports and exports have kept the industry in the dark ages. Fortunately, some companies are using technology to do the hard work for them. Sophisticated algorithms and geofencing can now ensure products stay within state lines and are only sold to legal consumers. To learn more about the tech making this possible, we spoke with CEO and Founder of CanIDeal Joseph Farruggia. Cannabis & Tech Today: Tell me a bit about the origins of CanIDeal. The challenge we set out to solve was, “How can we use the web without allowing the digital traffic surrounding the sale of cannabis to cross state lines, and therefore, technically violate federal law?” Fortunately, my uncle Albert Maione had worked at Bell Labs and was one of the people who initially turned voice into digital packets, so

Being clear about the market, overcompensating when it comes to compliance, and understanding the shifting dynamics of the industry. With our platform, legal compliance is number one. We go overboard to protect the buyer, the seller, as well as our company from legal hassles by being very, very careful about what and how we sell. Our transparency helps us deliver great products on a consistent basis. CanIDeal CEO and Founder Joseph Farruggia

C&T Today: What’s most important for a consumer to make an informed purchasing decision?

As far as understanding the market and shifting dynamics are concerned, no one needs a crystal ball to see how this market is going to perform. We all know that people like cannabis, so there is always going to be demand. But, on the other side of the equation, while the cannabis marketplace is currently unique in that it is a multi-billion dollar industry that has yet to take advantage of today’s technology, that gap isn’t going to last forever.

Quality information. On CanIDeal, we’re able to offer user reviews, ratings, and ranking algorithms to help the buyers find exactly what they are looking for, at the quality level and price they are hoping to find. In the coming years, as all dispensaries, growers, and other

In time, the cannabis market is going to be like every other multi-billion dollar market. It will be highly competitive, with ultra-thin margins, and the businesses that are able to adapt to that shifting dynamic will be those that are going to be the long term players. ❖

I was able to ask him if I could somehow keep digital information inside of legal state lines. He said yes, and that is where the concept of georing fencing was born.

Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today



Opportunity in Crisis Why are banks still hesitant to participate in hemp and CBD? By Ian Pedersen

“So it’s legal to sell it… It’s legal to buy it… But you can’t pay for it…?”

held for up to one year from the date that one closes their account with said processors if one ever sees it again at all.

If you happen to be new to this burgeoning cannabis space and have, for instance, done all of the hard work it takes to enter this industry, you will then be in for a surprise when you attempt to, just like any other legal business, register a bank account or attempt to do any online processing of credit or debit cards. When the time comes, the bank may tell you that due to their internal regulations you will not be able to acquire a bank account based on your business.

Another option may be to bank under slightly more anonymous terms in hopes of flying under the potential radar of these companies that currently monitor online merchant services for “potentially illegal products and services.” However, if they find any evidence of you selling CBD or hemp-related products you will most likely be shut down immediately.

In fact, being related in any way to the cannabis, hemp, CBD, or even essential oils can get you banned, flagged, or dropped by a bank that you would normally be in good standing with. This can be a wall only to be scaled by a few different methods, like utilizing third party offshore merchant service processors with ridiculously high percentage points on every purchase – an average of 6.95-percent for a single transaction plus a “reserve fee” of 5-percent totaling almost 12-percent of every transaction as opposed to the standard 2.85-percent that typical processors such as PayPal, Square, or Stripe charge. These “reserve fees” mentioned can be

This hurdle alone can be a potential iceberg for any small or titanic-like venture that has to bear the cost of sacrificing 11- to 12-percent of their total sales revenue to a payment processor. I have had to make this accommodation myself, inadvertently leaving 200K in profits last year on the table by having to utilize one of these processors for my own legal


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

hemp-derived CBD business after being dropped from PayPal, Square, and Stripe for no reason other than being pointed to a statement in their legal section describing “potential illegal activity and or services.” Having an unanticipated 10-percent added cost to do business could end up being nearly your entire target profit or could be the difference between going out of or staying in business. Now that there has been a federal decision with the 2019 Farm Bill to legalize hemp, the FDIC has given legal discretion to all banking institutions to do business with the hemp and CBD industry; however, just the opposite is happening as banks are effectively closing accounts across the country related to the newly legal industry. So it’s legal to sell it… It’s legal to buy it… But you can’t pay for it? This sounds like something right out of Pulp Fiction and probably sounds even more like what most may experience when trying to

// BUSINESS INNOVATIONS // Opportunity in Crisis

“A potential motive for these banking institutions to not embrace the legal hemp-CBD market speaks to the point that they may not be allowing the opportunity for them to grow…”

purchase products in any “state-licensed medical marijuana facility” with a debit card. It led me to research this even further and to also look at the cannabis-hemp industry in general with its potential inadvertent effects on other industries. Firstly, I believe these financial institutions, at this point, do not have in place the departments to do the oversight needed to comply with the FDIC regulations mandating that the banks themselves do the “due diligence” as to who they are offering bank accounts. With that said, the inability to do this banking oversight from an underwriting standpoint could make it challenging at this early stage to do the monitoring necessary to comply with the FDIC. Another potential, more sinister point could also be raised. As I dug further and interviewed a representative of a bank that has been given this directive, we were able to learn that it has been stated that any business currently related to hemp or CBD services or any business using the words “natural, health, or oils” are to be flagged by the bank. We have seen a surge in these health and wellness options coming from the cannabis/ hemp space, so this then raises questions as to why, now that it has been made legal to federally 42

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conduct business, we are now seeing this practice being used by almost every banking institution we have researched. Questions could be raised about the pharmaceutical industry that has been hugely profitable to date and one of the largest opponents of the cannabis hemp industry in almost every state. It has been shown that these pharmaceutical companies have also been losing market share where medical and recreational marijuana have been adopted and widely embraced. Some numbers have speculated a 25-percent reduction in sales of pharmaceuticals in areas such as Colorado. I could only speculate that if a new emerging market trend were to potentially diminish the market shares of a competing industry, then it may be reasonable that those dominating this space could continue to benefit from keeping the cannabis industry at bay. A potential motive for these banking institutions to not embrace the legal hemp-CBD market speaks to the point that they may not be allowing the opportunity for them to grow, as the hemp industry could disrupt the hundreds of billions of dollars that the pharmaceutical industry generates. In any event, this is a hurdle that tens of

thousands of businesses are experiencing in trying to launch in an entirely new space with not only an inability to bank but also do other basic business activities such as promote ads on social networking sites such as Facebook or Google ad platforms. This has presented an opportunity for not only the banks that have yet to capitalize but it is also forcing many new entrepreneurs wishing to find their “pot of gold” to carve out skills in building unique go-to market strategies, through an ability to work outside those traditional systems. Once the cannabis industry is fully established and recognized as a valuable part of the economy, it will be impossible for these banking institutions to walk away from revenue across the board by continuing to ignore or lock out the industry. The industry will continue to wait patiently for the wheels of bureaucracy to move forward as we have seen evidence of beta merchant platforms launching for Square this month and we continue to remain hopeful for the future. We know from the history of past legalization itself that the wheels of justice grind at their own pace. We can, as the leaders in this industry, only hope to make sure we are guiding that wheel competently in the right direction. ❖


Creating a Cashless Payment Solution

There’s no doubt that cannabis is a cash-heavy business. That said, consumers, banks, and dispensaries all find value in transparency; from legitimizing vendors and abiding by regulatory requirements to performing background checks and ensuring transactions are secure. After all, cannabis consumers, dispensaries, and partnering POS companies likely feel the same desire for protection, trust, and transparency when it comes to their business transactions. Companies like CannaTrac have entered the market in order to vet cannabis dispensaries and retail merchants based on national and

international compliance and regulatory guidelines. One thing that sets CannaTrac apart is its innovative CannaCard® Platform, which offers a range of benefits while also protecting consumers’ confidentiality and privacy. We connected with CannaTrac CEO Tom Gavin to learn more about how offering a cashless payment solution benefits cannabis consumers, dispensaries, and POS partners alike. Cannabis & Tech Today: So, what is CannaCard? Tom Gavin: CannaCard is a cashless payment platform that gives consumers the option of paying with a mobile app or a physical card. Both methods of payment offer ease, security, and financial transparency to help protect the consumer’s privacy. Our cashless payment solution allows users to easily upload funds to their account. By taking cash out of the equation, CannaCard promotes safety and transparency within the industry. At its core, CannaTrac is not a financial institution but a software solution that removes the cash component from the system.

Speaking With CannaTrac Executive Tom Gavin About Transparency in the Cannabis Industry

without the need to reach for traditional cash or even a physical credit card. However, CannaCard is much more than simply a mobile payment option. Unlike competitors, CannaTrac performs extraordinary and continuing duediligence on retail and dispensary clients prior to allowing them access to the platform. CannaCard clients are exclusive. Our duediligence is beyond thorough and brings benefit in the way of KYC for financial institutions. C&T Today: So, how can consumers use CannaCard?

C&T Today: Is CannaCard essentially a mobile wallet?

TG: For consumers, there’s a choice; they can use the mobile application or the physical card in place of card or cash, which has the added benefit of security, not to mention convenience. There’s also the opportunity to earn loyalty rewards points and exchange them for products and services geared toward the consumer’s lifestyle. This is a nice benefit for the partnering dispensary too. The physical CannaCard option has been created for consumers who prefer not to use or do not have access to the smartphone app. We wanted to create the universal cashless payment solution for all types of consumers and we have. ❖

TG: CannaCard does offer users the ability to make payments through their smartphone

To learn more about CannaTrac and CannaCard, visit   Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today



Unpacking Retail With the right strategies in place, retail cannabis has huge opportunities in an e-commerce driven world. By Anthony Elio

The world of retail is changing rapidly. In the past couple of decades, the term “going shopping” alone has changed. It can now mean everything from driving to a shopping center to scrolling through Amazon to exploring the Facebook Marketplace. The dawn of online shopping has been an incredible strain on the world of retail, with malls becoming ghost towns and giant shops relegated to serving as Halloween stores once a year. The statistics back this up as well, with MSNBC reporting this April that online U.S. retail sales have eclipsed that of general retail for the very first time. Clearly, online shopping (once thought to be a passing phase) has changed the business landscape. 44

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With all this doom and gloom surrounding traditional shopping, one would think it financially irresponsible to open a brick-andmortar store of any kind. Well, unless you’re planning on opening your very own Radioshack or Toys R’ Us, that’s not exactly the case. One type of product has motivated retail sales in a surprising way: cannabis. According to Marijuana Business Daily, recreational retail sales of cannabis hit between $5.3-6.2 billion in 2018, expected to grow to up to $22 billion by 2023. Additionally, the publication has reported that some U.S. cities, such as Denver and Portland, have more marijuana-related stores than McDonald’s and Starbucks per 100,000

residents. Talk about e-commerce taking over all you want, but outnumbering such massive corporate giants has to account for something in the modern-day retail scene. While clearly many types of traditional brickand-mortar stores are on their way out, some leaders in the industry believe that cannabis may be the saving grace. According to Greg James, the founder of the publication Marijuana Venture, “Brick-and-mortar is here to stay in the cannabis industry. Like guns and booze, it will probably always be mostly brick and mortar for obvious reasons. Also, with brick and mortar you can give the customer a personal experience

// BUSINESS INNOVATIONS // Unpacking Retail

“Great retailers know their customer base, and drill down to who they are and what they want.” – Greg James

and offer advice at the store level. This is very important.” This “personal experience” does resonate with groups such as millenials, a demographic that, while seemingly opposed to traditional forms of shopping, emphasizes experiences. However, it’s not just the experience that fuels offline shopping for cannabis products. Anat Baron, founder and CEO of Stashwell, Inc. and former head of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, claims that, “Because the industry is so young, there is a steep learning curve for consumers. The benefits of going to a physical location include discovery (seeing something you weren’t searching for or didn’t even know existed), the tactile ability to touch the product, and, most importantly, the ability to ask questions of a knowledgeable employee.” This rings especially true in the wake of growing legalization, as casual consumers may not have the basic understanding needed to make informed decisions. However, just because cannabis presents a unique opportunity for retail doesn’t exactly mean that there aren’t issues along the way. 46

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Baron believes that “the biggest obstacle is finding and training qualified staff members to work in the retail locations. While there are some customers who walk in knowing what they want to buy, a bigger opportunity exists with consumers who are curious and can be converted to loyal customers. This requires real customer service skills combined with deep knowledge, which is challenging in an everevolving industry where new products and new laws are becoming status quo.” Considering that Leafly predicts 2019 to represent an overall 110 percent three-year growth in legal cannabis jobs, this need for educated, experienced customer service providers is becoming more and more vital. This focus on having a top-tier staff also trickles down to many other aspects of running a cannabis business. Speaking on the topic of issues with cannabis retail, James echoes Baron’s perspective, saying, “Many are not particularly good at customer service or retention. Great retailers know their customer base, and drill down to who they are and what they want. For example, Costco and Nordstrom are both very different, with different business models and

different customers. However they are both the best at what they do, and have refined their models to perfection. That’s one of the keys to retail: know your customer and get really good at servicing them.” The days of driving down to the old Momand-Pop store to purchase knick knacks or walking around the mall all day for a shopping spree might seem more and more like relics of the past. While traditional retail is by no means dead, it’s in a definite state of flux, one that might not be beneficial for bookstores or sports equipment shops, but presents huge potential for the overall cannabis space. In a changing world fueled by technology, cannabis is in an interesting spot, bringing new life to traditional retail methodology. James, who mentioned that he himself had purchased from a Ferrari dealership once a customer service-focused family took over the business, revealed one of the keys of successful retail: “Gimmicks rarely work. Great customer service and prices always do.” Interestingly enough, this could apply to a classic car dealership and a modern dispensary alike. ❖


Packaging with Potential

How Alpha Packaging is differentiating options within the world of cannabis packaging.

Cannabis is a booming industry. In fact, there were 9,397 active licenses for marijuana businesses in the U.S. in 2017, according to Cannabiz Media. In such a crowded marketplace, it’s more important than ever for dispensaries – as well as the licensed producers and growers they partner with – to differentiate themselves in a way that abides by strict laws and regulations. This is especially true of child-safe packaging requirements. What’s more, those laws are moving more and more in the direction of premeasured, preanalyzed, and prepackaged product fulfilled by larger production facilities. Not only that, but cannabis dispensaries and consumers alike are seeking opportunities to partner with sustainablyminded companies who provide recycled and post-consumer recycled product. In short, cannabis companies are looking for attractive, child-safe, and sustainable packaging solutions that meet legislative requirements and have minimal impact on the environment. Enter Alpha Packaging. Alpha is a manufacturer of high-quality, child-resistant plastic packaging for the nutritional supplement, pharmaceutical, and legal cannabis industries. For licensed producers and growers looking to package their

legal cannabis products for retail sale, Alpha Packaging offers an attractive solution. “Alpha Packaging offers a suite of compliant plastic packaging that is high-quality and high style,” says Vice President of Marketing Marny Bielefeldt. “Having professional-looking packaging helps brand owners as they work hard to establish the legitimacy of this industry, and creates a brand consumers can trust.” With sustainable plastic, child-safe, and aesthetically pleasing packaging options, Alpha Packaging offers a trifecta of benefits among their packaging options, which makes them an attractive, authentic, and easy solution for growers as well as dispensaries. Sustainably Sourced Many consumers and brands are expressing concern about plastics – especially when we aren’t able to recycle them. Instead, they’re looking for options that will help lighten their carbon footprint. Alpha Packaging offers a wide range of stock and custom-made bottles and jars made from 100-percent reclaimed, postconsumer recycled plastic. This is plastic that has been repelletized and recrystalized, which requires less energy than it takes to make new plastic, and is FDA-approved for safe food contact.

Child-safe For those dispensaries and producers seeking child-resistant packaging options developed especially for cannabis and cannabidiol products, Alpha Packaging offers sophisticated solutions that meet legal requirements and also appeal to modern producers. Visually Appealing Many bottles and jars currently used for cannabis products have a certain pharmaceutical “mushroom cap” look to them because closures that comply with Child Product Safety Commission testing typically hang over the container. Alpha Packaging improved on this look, re-engineering some of their bottles and jars to make them compatible with childresistant closures while also looking more streamlined and flush to the lid – more along the lines of a high-end cosmetics container.  When it comes to appealing to potential customers, the visual look and feel is a critical component and another way companies can set themselves and their product apart from the rest.  ❖ Learn more about Alpha Packaging’s suite of sustainable child-safe and attractive packaging options, visit

Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today



How the LGBTQ+ Community and Cannabis Industry Grow Together LGBTQ+ industry leaders share their experience working in the increasingly diverse cannabis industry. By Alex Moersen In 2015, gay marriage was officially made federally legal in the United States. Just a year before, cannabis first became legal in the state of Colorado. Over the years, the cannabis movement and the LGBTQ+ movement have intersected in a number of ways, not to mention how both started as states’ rights issues before entering the federal spotlight. In 2016, LGBT Capital estimated that the LGBTQ+ community’s global spending power is worth 5.4 trillion dollars, making it a lucrative customer base. For these reasons, the cannabis industry is tied to the LGBTQ+ community. To learn more about what binds these two communities, we spoke with Josh Crossney and Kyle Porter, both prominent gay figures in the industry, and Renee Gagnon, the first transgender CEO of a publicly traded cannabis company. In this panel, they discuss their own experiences in the industry and how the cannabis space and LGBTQ+ community are linked.

Josh Crossney, CEO/Founder of the Cannabis Science Conference How would you describe LGBTQ+ representation in the cannabis industry? I feel that the cannabis industry, compared to many other corporate industries, is very inclusive in contrast. That being said, I do feel there is still much room for improvement when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation and diversity inclusion in general. It is important to know the history of a community that you belong to and cannabis is no exception to the rule. In many ways, the LGBTQ+ community is largely responsible for the industry that we know today. 48

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Some people might not know this, but the LGBTQ+ community fighting for cannabis as an option during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in California during the early 90s was one of the primary drivers that eventually led to Proposition 215 passing. With the passing of this proposition, it opened up access to medical cannabis throughout the state… I always give a nod to Dennis Peron, who was one of the most staunch advocates and activists involved in the beginning of this movement. Peron was a co-author on Proposition 215 and fought tirelessly for it to pass. Without Dennis Peron and other advocates like him, I truly believe that we would not have the global cannabis industry that we have today. Have there been specific moments when you felt accepted by the community? When I entered the cannabis industry, I made a conscious decision to be my true and Josh Crossney, CEO/Founder, authentic self and not try to tone down my Cannabis Science Conference persona or look to fit into anyone’s idea of What do you think the cannabis industry what a cannabis professional or entrepreneur could do better to be more inclusive to the should look or act like. For me, this was the best LGBTQ+ community? decision I could have made. It enabled me to navigate the industry and make real and lasting friendships and connections. Coming out or being open about your sexuality is always a personal decision and journey, but for me, I truly feel that being myself in professional situations has been an advantage. When you can just be who you are, all of the pretending goes away and you can focus on building your professional career and personal development.

I think there are many ways that the cannabis industry could work to become more inclusive to not only LGBTQ+ individuals, but also women and people of color. Media coverage like this really plays a big role in this discussion, because it creates a platform for minority individuals to share their struggles and successes. Visibility creates more awareness which helps advance the mission of a particular community.

// LEGISLATION // How the LGBTQ+ Community and Cannabis Industry Grow Together

(Left) Kyle Porter, President, CMW Media (Right) Renee Gagnon, Founder/CEO, Hollyweed North Cannabis, Inc.

Kyle Porter, President of CMW Media Do you have any examples of when you felt discriminated against within the cannabis industry due to your sexual orientation? I would say that I have not had any additional discrimination in the cannabis industry that I haven’t experienced in any other mainstream industry. I believe LGBTQ+ individuals always feel a bit “different” in corporate situations, especially when working with straight males. But nonetheless, I can say that I have never felt that I was held back in my career due to my sexual orientation, especially in the cannabis industry. Alternatively, have there been specific moments where you felt accepted by the community? At the most recent MJBizCon, the largest cannabis-focused tradeshow, I attended an LGBT executive mixer for the cannabis industry. This was the first time I saw this type of representation in our industry and it was humbling and exciting. They had a great turnout of powerful players and it reminded me that this industry is not stuck in its ways and allows for growth of LGBT individuals. Do you see any links between the gay rights movement and cannabis legalization? During its 80-year prohibition, the cannabis movement has mostly been known as a progressive issue. This could relate to an outside perspective that many industry 50

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members are more accepting of the LGBTQ community, like progressives are. I would go so far as to say that many industry members can identify with gay people as ‘stigmatized,’ much like cannabis has been for decades. What do you think the cannabis industry could do better to be more inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community?

cannabis industry due to your sexual orientation? I’ve had women who felt I shouldn’t be called a female CEO, or “female” anything. I’ve had men discount my accomplishments posttransition. I used to joke after transition that LinkedIn took away 40-percent of my experience.

Even though the cannabis industry is one of the more inclusive, there are always things that can be improved upon. To be more inclusive in this industry, I think the members of the LGBTQ community need to take it upon themselves to embrace their sexuality and be vocal. Don’t be afraid of the rich, straight, white man with the money. Be afraid of not being yourself and not standing up for what you believe. The more vocal we are together, the more people can’t ignore us and will understand our various goals within the industry.

Women laugh. Men wonder at the algorithm that would enable that…

Renee Gagnon, Founder/CEO of Hollyweed North Cannabis, Inc.

Equity and equality must be part of all companies. It’s just good business.

How would you describe LGBTQ+ representation in the cannabis industry? When I first came out four years ago, in industry and in life, most of the community was invisible, still there but not out. Now, it’s not only okay to be from the community, it’s a good thing. That’s nice. Do you have any examples of when you felt discriminated against within the

Do you see any links between the gay rights movement and cannabis legalization? A closet is a lousy place to smoke a joint. Hotbox yes, but it’s dark and lonely. Cannabis has many stigmas that are similar to those against the LGTBQ community. Tolerance and education solve both. What do you think the cannabis industry could do better to be more inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community?

Do you have any final thoughts on the matter? The LGTBQ2+ community has as much opportunity on this blue ocean as anyone. It’s the first from-scratch industry we can legally share in the rewards on a level playing field. I’m quite excited to see the huge gains our community makes from the cannabis industry. ❖

// HEALTH //

Skincare vs. Stigma CocoCanna Co-Founder Anna Pfleghaar shines a light on the state of hemp-infused skincare By Anthony Elio

Anna Pflefghaar’s mission to spread the use of high-quality, health-forward skincare products is a personal one. Having anxiety and autoimmune issues herself, Pfleghaar was drawn to the rapidly growing world of CBD. Combine this with her previous experience in the beauty industry and her desire for more clean skincare and the seeds were planted for CocoCanna, a vegan skincare line infused with hemp oil and CBD and composed exclusively of naturally occurring ingredients. Pfleghaar discusses the importance of organic ingredients and how she hopes to change the CBD skincare industry in this exclusive interview.

on the shelves, so one in eight of the ingredients that we’re consuming or putting onto our skin is possibly toxic or carcinogenic.

inflamed,” but acne is a source of inflammation. Any injury, irritation, or injury to the skin and the body reacts with inflammation.

Our body has to actually digest that and it can create a ton of different health issues that we’re not aware of. You might be the best, cleanest eater in the world, but if you’re using these skincare products that are extremely bad for you with all these toxins, you could have really horrible long-term effects, including cancer.

CBD will help any of that, and that includes wrinkles, sun spots, anything of that nature that we don’t like on our skin is often a negative effect of free radicals and pollution in our environment.

Cannabis & Tech Today: Have all-natural ingredients been a focus of CocoCanna from the start?

AP: The studies are showing that it’s a stronger antioxidant than the leading vitamins that we use, like A, C, and E. This is something that can be compared to retinol in skincare, which people are shocked by.

Anna Pfleghaar: 100 percent. I think that the average consumer isn’t privy to how many toxic ingredients the FDA allows in products. There’s 82,000 carcinogenic ingredients that are also toxic that we allow to be used in our cosmetics


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

C&T Today: What might the casual skincare user not know about using hemp oil within their skin care products?

It’s also universally anti-inflammatory. When we think of anti-inflammation, I think people think, “Oh, I sprained my ankle, my foot’s

C&T Today: Why do you believe it’s taken so long for the skincare industry to embrace hemp oil on a larger level? AP: I think it’s simply that it’s related to cannabis and it has this stigma. It also wasn’t federally legal or FDA regulated for the last 100 years. We do have evidence of people using hemp oil for beauty and pain, topical purposes up to 5000 B.C. It’s only in the last 100 years that we as an institute, a society, decided to ban this amazing, powerful plant. C&T Today: Has that stigma made it difficult to distribute your products?


// HEALTH // Skincare vs. Stigma

AP: Yeah. I mean, most of the large retailers – like the big box stores – were definitely opposed to it when I first launched. And I had a network, so I knew who to call and what to do. They were just very leery of it until the Farm Bill passed last December. Really, the biggest thing that’s been frustrating is Facebook and Instagram and their super dated policies that are really blocking us from being able to reach the mass consumer in that way. We’ve just had to be creative in our approach with influencers and events. But now that the doors are starting to open, things are looking brighter, for sure. C&T Today: What other products do you envision for the CocoCanna brand? AP: So we have five more SKUs that we hope to launch by fall. We’re super excited about those. One of those that I’m trying to develop right now would be a CBD-infused eye patch, similar to Patchology or any of those brands. Just like your classic eye patch: silicone gel with CBD infusion that will address undereye inflammation, discoloration, and things like that. We’re hopeful that we’ll get a response from it, as far as consumers really being able to see how CBD topically works when it’s concentrated in such a delicate area. C&T Today: Where do you see the CBD skincare industry going in the future? AP: I hope to see it go in a very inclusive, female-led way. In the cannabis industry, it’s marketed toward everyone and I feel like traditional skin care and beauty markets to a very specific, elite clientele. So, I think we have a cool opportunity to approach it from a smaller, craft angle. That’s just something that’s super important to me and my brand. I don’t like normal models. I want someone to look like themselves and not what I used to see when I worked in fashion in New York. I think it’s an inclusive environment, for sure. I feel like Photoshop’s really done a large number on society, especially on girls, with the accessibility to touch up any picture. It’s crazy. ❖ 54

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CocoCanna’s products provide a wide array of benefits, from increasing collagen production to strengthening and firming skin. T: +1 905 562 0800

We focus on the automation of indoor farming so you have full control over the growth of your cannabis plants

Climate management

Water management

Energy management

Food safety and labor


Ashes to Ashes, ‘Stache to Stash Cultural icon Cheech Marin looks back on decades of cannabis, man. By Alex Moersen

Photo: Dillon Sachs


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019


Cheech & Chong, a comedy duo that defined cannabis to a generation. Their influence has echoed through pop-culture for decades, bringing the plant to the forefront, showing how harmless and fun it can be. Cheech Marin, donned with one of the most iconic mustaches in history, played a vital role in this cultural movement, portraying the light-hearted side of cannabis to a generation of Baby Boomers. Now, decades later, he’s gone from cultural icon to entrepreneur, founding Cheech’s Stash, his very own, hand-picked cannabis line. “It will always be good,” claims their slogan. And with Cheech at the helm, it’s easy to believe. We had the chance to sit down with one of cannabis’ most famous celebrities and discuss the current state of cannabis and how it’s changed over the years, how we’ll reach legalization, and how he manages his business. Cannabis & Tech Today: How have you seen cannabis change over the last few decades? Cheech Marin: Well it’s been much more accepted into the general populous, mostly because of the health benefits that it brings and that’s what we’re going to find out more and more, the health benefits of marijuana; not necessarily the recreational, although that’s a pretty good health benefit as far as I’m concerned. You know, to relax and reduce stress. It’s more and more accepted by mainstream society. That’s what I’ve found just dealing with past attitudes. I’ll tell you, 39 of 50 states have some form of legalized marijuana, so that should tell you everything you have to know. C&T Today: Did you ever think you would see a day when cannabis would be legal? CM: Sure. I mean, it was legal as far as I was concerned. Lenny Bruce used to have this joke – I was a big fan of Lenny Bruce’s – “Man, marijuana will be legal someday because all the lawyers are smoking it.”

And so it’s amazing to change attitudes in some places that are ruled by religious persuasions and other regulations, but it’s a constant battle that goes back and forth. Even for the states that have some form of legalized marijuana, they’re always fighting a battle because the other side wants to undo all of that. You know, it’s slow and sure. 39 out of the 50 states have it, so that boulder is rolling down hill right now. You can get in front of it if you want, but I wouldn’t. C&T Today: Is the world of legalized cannabis how you imagined it? CM: No. I pictured in my dreams that I’d wake up one day and they would say, “Hey, cannabis is legal!” and that was the last thing they ever said about it. But, because it is not legal federally, every state has different rules about it, so we’re not dealing with one united and easily understood law, we’re dealing with 50 different sets of laws, and they’re all so different. But once it’s legal federally I think things will change quickly. C&T Today: As one of cannabis’s most famous icons, what influence do you think or hope you had on cannabis culture? CM: What we kept saying during our early tenor is that we represented the middle. We were the middle-of-the-road dopers, we represented the norm, you guys just don’t realize what the norm is. C&T Today: What do you think of all the smoking technology that’s coming out now? CM: I’m in the business, I have my own brand that I promote and we sell to dispensaries, so we’re very aware of the changes in the industry. It’s remarkable to me that so much is being learned about [cannabis] in spite of not being able to legally test it, you know? To do experiments, to do research on it, it’s not legal federally, so all this stuff has been coming out regardless of those laws.

Photos: Dillon Sachs

Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today



“39 out of the 50 states have it, so that boulder is rolling down hill right now. You can get in front of it if you want, but I wouldn’t.”

Photo: Dillon Sachs

C&T Today: With so many different ways to consume, I’m curious what your preferred method is? CM: I like smoking a bowl. That’s me, but you know I don’t mind vapes or edibles or, you know, any of those things. C&T Today: You went from cannabis cultural icon to a cannabis entrepreneur. What have you learned since joining the industry? CM: I learned that it’s a tough business. It is really a tough business because the rules are made out of elastic rubber. Every state has a different approach to how they handle marijuana, and so everybody has this dream that the state is going to say, “Marijuana is legalized!” and they’re going to make a billion dollars the next day. It doesn’t happen, especially if each individual state does nothing to protect their legalized status, you know? People are selling it legally and have to pay all the taxes and all the tests in all the states, you know? You have to help them by protecting the legal marijuana and not having to compete with illegal marijuana. 58

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C&T Today: Has there been anything about the industry that’s really impressed you? CM: There are so many people that know so much about it. And it’s becoming part of the language of anybody that’s minimally involved in it; they know what sativa is, they know what indica is, they know what hybrids are, and it affects them and all of that information is getting into the general mainstream. C&T Today: On the other hand, what do you see the industry lacking? CM: Safety rules for those who comply with rules. You know, protection for those who comply, who pay the taxes, pay all the fees that go along with it, and then they need the states to help them out by keeping and protecting them from the illegal market. C&T Today: Tell me a little bit about your own personal business strategy. I understand your children are involved and you handpick your strains. Why is it so important for you to keep this so close? CM: So, [my kids] work for a company that’s involved in promotion and the adherence to the

safety rules, you know? Our buy line is “It will always be good.” It might not always be the same, because there are 100 new strains coming into the market every week. I’m not kidding, there are hundreds of strains, as many as you can think of, so we can’t say, “Alright, we’re only going to go with this strain.” We’re going to go with a lot of strains, but it will always be good because we test them ourselves. C&T Today: It is impressive to see how cannabis has changed over the years, in strain number and potency. CM: The potency has, certainly, but there was also strong leaf in the day, you know, but you had no idea where it came from. It could have come from anywhere, you know? We had two strains in the olden days, weed and dope. C&T Today: How do you feel your “Cheech” character enhanced the discussion around race and cannabis? CM: Well, you know [cannabis] was illegal because they were racist laws, you know? It was called cannabis or hemp even, but it was only


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“marijuana” when they wanted to brand it as something that only Mexicans and black jazz musicians did. C&T Today: What do you think it will take for cannabis to reach federal legalization? CM: Will, political will. That’s really what it’s going to take. Here is a contradiction that I still haven’t been able to figure out. Texas is one of the biggest states in the union. And all the biggest dopers I know were all Texans. Yet it has no legal bearing, no legal status in the state of Texas; not medical, not recreational, nothing. That is because there’s a strong baptist contingency there that have, for a long time, read into legislatures and in congress. They have a big religious objection to it, but it’s a sharp contrast to the vast majority of people who live in the state. C&T Today: How do you think cannabis might change when large, mainstream companies begin to enter the space? CM: Companies come into every industry if it’s popular. They came into cigarettes, they came into alcohol, they came into gaming. If it’s a success, you want to make it a bigger success, you know? But, alcohol against marijuana? Well, I’ve never heard an argument for medical beer, you know? But there are arguments for medical marijuana. C&T Today: Do you think that corporate involvement could hurt the industry in some ways? 60

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

“We had two strains in the olden days, weed and dope,” Cheech jokes. Now, he personally handpicks strains out of the hundreds available for his personal line at Cheech’s Stash.






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CM: I mean, what you want in the end is the easy availability of it no matter where you go. From coast to coast, you can be in Rhode Island or California, stop into your local store and get a pack of smokes, you know? Or some gummy bears or a vape or whatever it is you can. That then will go a long way towards progress in this area, I think. Because it has more benefits than it has detractors. C&T Today: If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Years later, Cheech revisits the famous tutu costume from Up in Smoke.

“Because it is not legal federally, every state has different rules about it, so we’re not dealing with one united and easily understood law, we’re dealing with 50 different sets of laws, and they’re all so different.”

CM: Buy stock in Apple … And it’s the same way with marijuana stocks. Marijuana is sold at least on the Canadian stock exchange and some other exchanges. America chooses what it wants, as far as these kinds of issues are concerned. A little while ago, I think about 6 months ago, I happened to be in Washington for an event. We got taken to the Supreme Court, to the actual building, and sat in the chambers and Chief Justice John Roberts came out and addressed us. Talked to us about, you know, what it is to be on the Supreme Court and how it works. I’m standing right in the front row and I kept raising my hand and he kept calling on me and the last question that I asked – and all the kids were afraid to ask – was, “Sometime in your tenure, the legalization of marijuana is going to come up. How are you going to judge? How are you going to vote?” This is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court I’m asking these questions. And he says “Well, you know, it’s the states’ rights and it should be.” And so they’re going to kick it down the road as long as they can. You know, but if it is states’ rights, well 39 states have spoken. Maybe when it gets to be 52 states, they’ll legalize it. C&T Today: If you could partake with anyone living or dead, all throughout history, who would it be? CM: Oh, I would probably like to get with Timothy Leary once again. He was a good buddy of mine and we spent a lot of time together and I loved to be with him; with all my heart he was a wonderful, wonderful human being. ❖ Photos: Dillon Sachs


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

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Introducing the New DuraChill® Line of Recirculating Chillers from PolyScience American Manufacturer Serves the Global Cannabis Industry With Precise Liquid Temperature Control Equipment By Jack Bohannon

As the cannabis industry goes mainstream – and as the industry’s revenue surges to $16.9 billion in 2019 – extracted cannabis products are increasingly popular across a growing base of consumers. In particular, cannabinoid-infused products and edibles are proving to be important to patients – and especially profitable for manufacturers. Distilled cannabinoids – like THC and CBD – are the key components of infused products, and they fetch top dollar on the wholesale market. In some localities, a gram of isolated cannabinoids retails for $100 in dispensaries. And, as Zion Market Research reports, the overall cannabinoid oil market is expected to grow to USD 2.47 billion by 2025. Because of the incredible profit potential, many entrepreneurs have jumped to 64

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

meet the demand for cannabinoid extraction and distillation services. But today’s laboratory equipment struggles to meet the special needs of cannabis pharmaceuticals. Cannabinoid processing systems usually operate 24/7 to maximize production and revenue, and the chemical processes of these systems require precise temperature control under the most demanding conditions. Moreover, reliability is critical; each hour of downtime costs companies thousands of dollars.  So, to overcome the challenges, leading-edge equipment manufacturers are engineering components for the extreme rigors and challenges of cannabis distillation. Recently, in a notable affirmation of the legalized cannabis market, PolyScience – the internationally-known Background:

manufacturer of liquid temperature control devices – stepped up to offer cannabis-tough, easy-to-use chillers that outperform the technologies of other industries. The DuraChill® line from PolyScience gives cannabis processing systems precise temperature regulation. Temperature regulation is critical for a quality product, safe operation, and maximum yield. And to ensure quality and cannabisfriendly reliability, the DuraChill® is made in the USA and manufactured under ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 quality and environmental standards. Eliminating Downtime with Cannabis-tough Durability To create DuraChill®, PolyScience purposefully considered the needs of cannabis professionals. Eliot Kremerman, a distillation-system integrator

// THE LAB //

PolyScience President and CEO Philip Preston and his team working on the DuraChill® dynamic filter.

and the owner of Summit Research, helped PolyScience identify the special concerns of the cannabis market. He builds his systems with PolyScience chillers because of their durability and predictable performance. “Cannabis isn’t the simplest industry. It’s very chaotic,” said Kremerman. “People don’t respect scientific equipment and they throw it everywhere. But the customers with chiller problems are expecting me to fix it the same day.” As Kremerman notes, cannabis processing companies neglect the maintenance of their machines all too often. Turnover at cannabis businesses can be high, so technicians may not be adequately trained to care for the equipment they’re using. And the high value of cannabis oils tempts companies to push their systems beyond maintenance intervals. In response to the problems, PolyScience engineered the DuraChill®, and distillationsystem integrators like Kremerman are excited about the new innovations. In particular, the DuraChill® utilizes a patented, self-changing air filter system that eliminates preventative maintenance by automatically changing the air filter material. Additionally, the DuraChill® continuously monitors the level of the coolant fluid to protect the system’s pump and prevent freezing, drastically limiting in-the-field problems. “When I sell my customers PolyScience chillers, the only failures are when someone puts water in the condensers and cracks them. Otherwise, the chillers run non-stop everyday,” says Kremerman. “And if there’s a problem they know it’s the PolyScience name. They call PolyScience and get to the root of the problem.”

For DuraChill®, the engineers at PolyScience created a patent-pending self-diagnostic system that compares the chiller’s functionality to the day it was manufactured. The system automatically adjusts for variances in ambient air temperature, fluid type, and other parameters. This feature allows companies to troubleshoot problems before they start simply by pushing a button.

we have that ability to invest in change.” “In looking at this new chiller design, we started with designing a system that would automatically change the air filter for the customer once a month or so. And there’s enough filter material to keep the chiller happy for two years.”

A New Quality Standard for Cannabis Oils The latest innovations don’t stop at durability. As Kremerman notes, it’s important to advance the quality of equipment. Better equipment creates better extracts and distillates. Temperature stability – and mechanical chillers like DuraChill® – are critical to the underlying processes of extraction and distillation.

“Then we incorporated the self-test feature whereby we profile and store in the onboard memory all of the parameters of the chiller; here’s how fast it heats, here’s it’s stability, here’s it’s cooling rate,” says Preston. This allows the chiller to assess it’s own functionality when operating in the field. Then, DuraChill® makes all the information easily available through a full-color touchscreen display.

“I don’t want to sell my customers something that a company was making years ago because they’ll only be able to produce oil that’s as good as they could then,” says Kremerman. “I want to sell my customers a newer product that’s innovating and attacking the actual problem and creating a solution for better efficiency, better color, better potency.”

Though Preston comes from a decidedly noncannabis background, he relates to the innovative drive of the cannabis industry and has some words of wisdom for new entrepreneurs:

And that’s where PolyScience comes in. Innovative Product Development Philip Preston, PolyScience’s president and lead engineer, maintains a rare orientation to research and development. Because PolyScience is a privately held company, Preston is able to go beyond short-term profitability to solve novel problems for upstart industries like cannabis. “I love to ask ‘How can we take something that was a problem and totally eliminate that problem from the process?’” says Preston. “At PolyScience,

“A true entrepreneur always has a very clear vision of what their product will look like this year, next year, five years from now. And they’re prepared to work very long hours, wear lots of hats, and be grossly underpaid knowing that it offers some unique rewards when you can control your destiny and have a positive impact.” PolyScience’s innovative spirit matches the ethos of the cannabis industry. And while temperature control and reliable laboratory equipment may seem like mundane topics, the behind-the-scenes innovation by companies like PolyScience leads the push for better, safer cannabis medicines. ❖ Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today


// THE LAB //


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

// THE LAB //

Fight the Power Dr. Sue Sisley is leading the next generation of cannabis medical science, taking the fight directly to the FDA and DEA to help cut through the red tape that hinders research. By Alex Moersen

In order for a drug to get FDA approval, the data on said drug’s effects must be reviewed by the Center for Drug Evaluation & Research (CDER) and the drug must be determined to provide benefits that outweigh its known and potential risks. Now, what if research is impeded by a variety of governmental red tape? That is exactly the case with cannabis. And this is where Dr. Sue Sisley comes in. Dr. Sisley, a trailblazer in cannabis research, has been working for 14 years to push cannabis flower through the FDA drug development process – and has been hindered nearly every step of the way. As one of the few scientists in the country holding a DEA Schedule 1 researcher license, Dr. Sisley has an intimate knowledge of not only cannabis science, but the steps it takes to conduct this kind of research. In this exclusive interview, Dr. Sisley discusses how she is helping cannabis research progress, how she’s motivating young scientists to embrace this field, and what the industry can do to help. Cannabis & Tech Today: How did you get involved in cannabis research?

“We’re not going to have meaningful reforms in the cannabis space until we have more data.”

Dr. Sue Sisley: I always end up crediting military veterans because they shared their personal experiences with cannabis for years in my medical practice, and I was super skeptical. My thinking was so blocked at that time because I had been trained in a really conservative medical environment where you don’t distribute anything as a medicine unless it’s been put through the FDA drug development process. I had only been taught that cannabis was dangerous, addictive, and should be avoided. So, it was tough for me to embrace the idea that this plant was a medicine and these veterans just never gave up on me. They kept coming back; they’d bring in family, friends who would corroborate their story, and I just Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today


// THE LAB // Fight the Power

“Yet, the data that’s needed to look at cannabis as a medicine, that research has been systematically impeded by our government for so many decades, really ever since the night a monopoly was created.” couldn’t ignore it anymore. Over time, I realized there has to be something here… I don’t know if you’re aware, but there has not been a new treatment for PTSD approved in 18 years. So since Paxil and Zoloft initially got approved, nothing else since then. And so, all these other meds that we use to treat PTSD are all just being used off label and they’re mostly very disappointing. But I was interested in cannabis not just for PTSD, but also for treating pain, and as a substitute for opioids and other addictive meds. But again, it took me a long time to get motivated enough to actually start doing clinical trials. It was only when I met the people at MAPS – MAPS is a non-profit based out of Santa Cruz – and that was when I really got inspired, or enthusiastic, about doing trials because MAPS offered to be my study sponsor and to help me navigate all the barriers to research. That’s what I needed, because I was a clinician. I mean, I’m seeing 20 patients a day in clinic. I wasn’t a traditional researcher. But when MAPS teamed up with me, I suddenly had the ability to start looking at this. That’s when I started to develop a firsthand 68

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knowledge about the barriers to efficacy research in the U.S., and that spurred me on to start questioning our government and realizing that we’re not going to be able to have meaningful reforms in the cannabis space until we have more data. Yet, the data that’s needed to look at cannabis as a medicine, that research has been systematically impeded by our government for so many decades, really ever since the night a monopoly was created. Back in 1968, they made University of Mississippi the only federally legal drug supply for all clinical trials. And as soon as that monopoly was created, I think that really was the final nail in the coffin for being able to study cannabis as a medicine because scientists need access to options. That’s the whole point. And when you only have one domestic supplier, you’re suddenly limited … So we were forced to buy this moldy, diluted cannabis, this plant material from University of Mississippi through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). All the clinical trials looking at cannabis flower have been forced to use this substandard or sub-optimal plant material. And now, I’m starting to question whether all of these clinical trials may have been sabotaged by this lowquality study drug.

So that’s why I started to try to ignite a national conversation… 2009, I think, is when we first submitted the study design to FDA. It was really in 2011 that we got FDA approval. It still took us eight years after that to complete the trial. Can you believe that? So that just shows you the ridiculous, redundant layers of government red tape that are involved in approving cannabis research. But it’s not that way for safety studies. If you’re just looking at the harmful effects of cannabis or addiction potential, those studies get easily greenlit. They get almost unlimited government funding and government cannabis. But, if you dare say you want to study efficacy of cannabis, and do non-profit drug development research to help evaluate cannabis through the FDA process, those are the studies that have been impeded by the government for so long, and will continue to be impeded until this monopoly has ended. The monopoly doesn’t exist for any other drugs in Schedule 1. So the other drugs in Schedule 1 like mushrooms, LSD, MDMA, all of those, you can easily access those. It’s only cannabis that has this bizarre situation where it’s the least toxic of all the drugs on Schedule 1, but it has the most ridiculous, harshest barriers to studying it as a medicine.


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// THE LAB // Fight the Power

Dr. Sisley’s dog, Dodger, plays a vital role in the lab, keeping participants entertained during long days in the laboratory.

C&T Today: What has to happen for the monopoly to be dispersed, for the barriers to come down, and for cannabis research to become more accessible? SS: There are two options we have. Everybody assumed that the monopoly was ended in the 2016. Remember, the DEA announced that they would finally license other growers for research? This was an official announcement on the Federal Register. So you see all these people applying to become growers for research. But sadly, here we are, three years later, and they still haven’t moved one inch toward licensing other growers. The only real solution at this point is getting a remedy through the court system because we were one of the, I don’t know, 30-plus applicants that submitted back in 2016, and they processed my credit card for a $3,000 application fee, but they never processed my application. And so, what they’ve done, effectively, is they kept us in this limbo where we can’t even appeal it because they haven’t made a decision; there’s nothing to appeal. So, the lawsuit is one strategy, but there’s another option that I have, which is to import cannabis flower from a foreign country. That 70

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was really my last resort because I want to push our government to legalize other domestic growers. I’m not interested in supporting the companies in other countries. That doesn’t make any sense. We have all these talented farmers right here on our soil that could easily be providing high quality flower for study drugs. But the government has blocked this. And so, now, they’re forcing U.S. scientists to go source cannabis from other countries, and you see that many of the universities have announced this. UCSD just announced they’re importing cannabis oil from the Canadian companies. The point is there are others who brought in oil and extract, but the monopoly is around flower. So nobody has brought in the dried bud material. And that seems to be the real impediment here. They’re comfortable with pills, and extracts, but they don’t want the flower. The question is, can they block it? If we have an approved clinical trial in the U.S. and we have a source of flower from Canada or Israel, it’s going to be impossible for the DEA to block that. You can see that if we succeed, then suddenly, we’ve ended the monopoly, and we’ve opened the door for all these other foreign manufactures to come in.

C&T Today: You’re one of the only female scientists in the country studying whole plant flower as medicine. How can we get more women into the cannabis science space? SS: I think that’s our main purpose... Outside of just being able to do the trials with whatever study drug we choose, it’s also being able to pave the way for young scientists, or emerging scientists, to put their toe in this field, because right now, I can’t persuade any. I allow medical students, undergrad, even high school students to rotate to our labs so they can see how this works and how this is real science. This is no different than any other pharmaceutical company trial, just as rigorous. But right now, it’s so hard to get them excited about it because even though they care about this work, they don’t see any funding behind it. And we all know that these trials are so expensive and scientists migrate to where the funding is, and if there’s no government money to study cannabis as a medicine, what are they going to do? They’re going to study what government money is available, to study cannabis as a drug of abuse. So, when you say, “What do we do?” We’re trying to make our laboratory, these studies,

// THE LAB // Fight the Power

Dr. Sue Sisley speaks at a number of events across the country, discussing her research with other pioneers in the cannabis industry.

available, mentoring young students at all levels, from high school to medical school, and seeing if we can persuade them to come to the lab to get exposed to this early in training so maybe they can gain a passion for it. And whether there’s easy money available or not, they may still pursue it just like we did. C&T Today: Over the years, how have you seen the medical community’s view of cannabis change? SS: Well, the medical community, privately, will tell you that they realize that cannabis does have medical properties and it should be employed, especially over more addictive prescriptions. But they won’t say that publicly because they’re so afraid of a backlash on their medical license or their ability to get federal funding for Medicaid dollars, or Medicare. Whether it’s physicians or hospitals, they still seem to recoil at the word cannabis, unless they’re talking privately. Everybody’s trying to avoid this. So that’s why I focus on the control trials, because that’s our only hope. Randomized control trials are the only thing 72

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that will help change public policy because if we can get flower through the FDA process, that will be the biggest game changer. That will force insurance companies to have to pay for flower in the same way they pay for conventional pharmaceuticals. So, that’s why we’re so committed to this, because right now we see so many cannabis patients impoverished just trying to buy their monthly medicines in addition to whatever other conventional meds they have to pay for. C&T Today: If cannabis still has so much stigma, what can the industry do to add more validity to cannabis research? SS: What happens is we have a lot of people in the industry that claim to care, but don’t really want to do anything, or offer any financial support. A lot of these companies have tons of financial resources; they’re not just startups anymore. These companies are swimming in millions of dollars, some of them, and they could easily be funding the type of clinical trials that would help. I mean, they’re not going to have validity until they invest in the control trials that

are needed to confirm cannabis is a medicine… Otherwise, it’s just a movement, and if we’re going to change that and really get insurance companies to cover it and all that, we have to have the randomized control trials, and eventually the FDA approval for certain products, and then things will start to change. But until then, this will just continue to be a dynamic movement. I do a lot of speaking in foreign countries, so I’m seeing the blockades to patient access. I mean, I was in Australia a few weeks ago teaching a CME course to physicians about cannabis, trying to teach them how to prescribe, and you can’t believe that these folks, they’re in a federally legal country and they still don’t want to come near it. There are probably several million patients in Australia that are already using cannabis. And the point is, how do you get them into a regulated market? It’s not going to be possible with all these barriers and they’ll remain on the illicit market until they see that it’s safe or that it’s not so complicated anymore. And so, that’s the reality. ❖

// THE LAB //

A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet Cannabis Varieties and the Case for Genetic Standards Dr. John Brunstein, CSO, Segra International What’s in a Name? A 2017 review of dried flower cannabis material for sale online in a set of North American jurisdictions (Toronto, Vancouver, Denver, WA state, and OR state) turned up 2,739 products for sale under a total of 1,263 “strain names.” (As an aside, in formal biological usage, “strain” is applied to microorganisms and “variety” or “cultivar” is more proper for usage with plants; we’ll use “variety” here for the colloquial “strain”.) As you’d probably guess, some varieties were more popular than others, with Blue Dream being top of the list and only nine names accounting for 10 percent of total material. For either medical or recreational consumers, they know what they like and have expectations of consistency. That’s no more than is expected of hops, grapes, roses, or dog breeds. In fact, just about any plant or animal species which humans have chosen to cultivate and selectively breed varieties of has recognized and meaningfully applied breed or variety names. The difference with cannabis is that there’s never been anyone to hold names accountable, and so there’s possibilities for very different things to be presented under a single variety name. One obvious way in which this could happen could be an unscrupulous grower or dispensary just willfully renaming whatever they have on hand as something likely to be of higher value based on name. It is, however, equally likely that honest mistakes in handling or labelling of material occurred as it passed from one grower to another, and thus two well intentioned growers could have two different varieties under a common name. Seeds – even those of a relatively inbred variety – can also be legitimately sold under a single name yet resulting plants have significant diversity. Breeders by convention tend to name cross products by conjoining bits of the parental variety names, another legitimate way where 74

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

two quite different plants might end up with the same name. With these in mind, the following should not be taken as casting aspersions on the ethics of any parties; they’re simply factual observations.

Putting it to the Test – Are Names Reliable? Are all Sour Diesel, or White Widow, or (insert your favorite here) the same, or at least all closely related? The most direct way to


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// THE LAB // A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

address this is by genetic testing. Processes referred to as DNA fingerprinting can reveal relatedness between any two samples, and family trees (phylogenies) can be inferred under various evolutionary models for larger sets of data. Over the past two years our lab has established and extensively validated one such method for DNA fingerprinting, based on what’s known as VNTR typing. While primarily intended for internal QC purposes, we’ve also processed hundreds of external, commercially available samples by this method, and the results are striking. In a nutshell, for materials from both the old “gray market” and newer legal supply chain in Canada, there is absolutely no reason to believe that any two cannabis samples bearing the same name are even closely related. Sure, in some cases they’re clonally identical (even when from different producers); sometimes they’re not identical, but they’re genetically very close (more about what that means below); and sometimes they’re wildly different. Lest you think that sticking to a single material from a single producer under a controlled track-andtrace system gives you assurances of reproducibility, the data has included clear cases of a single supplier selling wildly unrelated cannabis varieties under a single name and descriptor, under different lot numbers only a few months apart. The opposite but equally problematic situation is also observed, where a single clone is sold under many different names (we’ve seen more than 10 names applied to a single clone across multiple vendors and years, for example). It’s the Chemotype that Matters So what? People don’t take cannabis based on its genotype, but on its chemotypic profile, and it’s the consistency of that which matters. Is variation in genotype actually reflected in chemotype? To address this, we’ve subjected many of our DNA fingerprinted materials to chemotypic analysis covering multiple terpenes and cannabinoids. To date, this data suggests that a single clonal cannabis plant grown by two different producers yields relatively similar material (taking one producer’s material as the baseline, for instance, shows an average of less than 20-percent variation for each of the analytes measured when grown by another 76

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

producer). Take this to a case of genetically dissimilar materials sold under a single name and the same measure of average chemotypic variation jumps to an eye-popping 160-percent range. Remember, that’s an average – individual analytes including known bioactive terpenes were observed to vary by more than nine times (900 percent) in many cases. As the commonly called ‘entourage effect’ – where a complex mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes has a different biological impact than the major components on their own – has become increasingly supported out of rigorous studies, these wild variances in multiple constituents of the material between two identically named specimens can’t be ignored. If we’re to conduct meaningful clinical trials, if medical users are to have reliable access to material they’ve self-titrated to meet their needs, and if recreational users want the reliable, same experience every time they get their favorite, it’s time to start making cannabis variety names mean something. Why shouldn’t we have the same controls as the hops, grapes, rose, or dog breeders, on material we’re going to pay good money for, or possibly even trust our health to? Approaches for Identifying Varieties If we recognize there’s a problem here that needs solving, the question becomes how. Purely chemotypic analysis isn’t overly practical, as it requires sizable portions of material, is highly dependent on growth parameters and

where (and at what stage) plant material is sampled, and the list of potential analytes of significance in differentiating two varieties is extensive. Genotypic analysis by contrast can be done from any plant material at any stage and is both cheap (compared to chemotyping) and readily amenable to automation and high throughput analysis. There are multiple methods for DNA-based genotyping, ranging from cheap, crude methods such as Random Amplification of Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and Inter Simple Sequence Repeats (ISSR) to high complexity methods like Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS). Between these extremes, the two most common methods are Variable Nucleotide Tandem Repeat (VNTR) and Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) analyses. VNTR vs SNP: Key Differences Each of these has strengths and weaknesses. VNTR is cost effective and fast while providing very good power to resolve even closely related varieties, but is challenging to perform automated data analysis on; SNPs tend to be more costly to develop and less flexible, but also provide excellent variety-resolving power and are relatively easy to automate scoring and data analysis on. Another very significant difference between the methods is the amount of ‘ancillary data’ they may provide the testing lab or anyone seeing the data. Considering the DNA fingerprint name born of analogy, a real fingerprint is a reliable biometric marker identifying an individual but doesn’t tell you the

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// THE LAB // A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

person’s eye or hair color. VNTR methods based on a limited number of genetic loci (points on the genome) and high diversity per locus are much like this, providing identity but unlikely to divulge any additional key genetic information. By contrast, SNP panels consist of large numbers of genetic loci with low per-locus diversity; but the sheer number of loci tagged means there’s a significant chance that a loci and its genetic state as revealed by a SNP assay may disclose “linked traits” such as propensity towards certain chemovar or growth characteristics. Simplistically, if you purely want to identify material and not give away any underlying genetic information, VNTR is probably preferable; if you want to identify material and track linked gene forms (alleles) in breeding programs, SNP has an advantage.

Phylogenetic tree of 293 cannabis samples by VNTR typing. Some specific “as sold” variety names are represented by coloured markers for visibility. Green – MK Ultra; black – Girl Scout Cookies; blue – Sensi Star; red – Great White Shark. For each variety name, specimens with large genetic divergence from one another are apparent.

Setting the Mark: Role of Voucher Specimens Regardless of method, how would one go about defining varieties of cannabis with DNA fingerprinting, and would this alone be enough to ensure product consistency? Since there are putatively thousands of cannabis varieties in existence by name, the approach would best be one of selection of “voucher specimens” or “type examples” – that is, imagine a plant that some authority (the recognized original breeder of the variety, for instance) puts forward as a reference sample. A DNA fingerprint is taken and establishes a unique, objective identifier against which other material can be tested. Clonal material is easily identified as it provides an identical DNA fingerprint; but what about near relatives? Analysis of DNA fingerprint information allows measurement of closeness of genetic association between two non-identical materials, and over time (and again, with the material being accepted by some authority based on characteristics as belonging to type) it’s possible to define a “genetic space.” Any new material with a genotype falling within that space would generally be considered that variety; any material outside of the space would start to define the genetic space occupied by a new, discrete variety. 78

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Genetics alone, however, isn’t a complete answer in this case. Two plant samples with identical DNA fingerprints have the same genetic potential for a particular chemotypic profile, but will only achieve this when grown and processed similarly. For true assurance of uniformity, both genetic identity and chemotypic analysis of a few key compounds – confirming they are close to expected reference values for the genotype – should be employed. In effect, the chemotype confirms the material has reached its genetic potential, and the few of them examined in this context act as surrogate markers for all the other phytochemicals. If the material is clonal to reference and the (for example) CBD(A) and myrcene levels are very close to expected, the pinene or (fill in the blank) should also be close to reference – without having to extensively test all phytochemicals each time. Going to the Dogs If all of this seems confusing, stop for a minute and imagine dogs – in particular, let’s say Dalmatians. We all know what a Dalmatian looks like even though they’re not clonal. They’re a general size and shape, short hair, white with black spots. There are, however, also

Dalmatians with brown spots, known as ‘liver Dalmatians.’ These are clearly different than normal Dalmatians, but “the authorities” (in this case, dog breeding associations) still consider them the same breed (variety). Although brown versus black is a clearly obvious difference, it’s been decided that this isn’t a significant difference and thus the two are lumped together under one name. The analogy can and will happen with cannabis, where two closely related but clearly non-identical plants are examined, and a similar judgment call will have to be made – is high versus low linalool, with everything else being about equal, worth calling something a new variety for? As cannabis cultivation becomes mainstream, these are the sorts of decisions calling for the establishment of some sort of “cultivar certification consortium” to provide guidance.

In Conclusion Establishment of such a cannabis naming convention, with genetic fingerprinting technology as its objective yardstick and paired with an informed consensus selection of reference materials for each variety name, will be no easy task to undertake. It will. however, be in the best interests of all cannabis users regardless of whether that’s for medical or recreational purposes. It will also, in the long run, be in the best interests of growers and breeders, allowing them to clearly establish rights over desirable new varieties. Imagine the utility of being able to say – with proof acceptable to your customers – that you’re growing and selling the latest Cannabis Cup winner; or for a small boutique producer, to be able to back up your claims to possessing a “unique cultivar.” Until such a naming convention is established, the objective truth borne out by testing of marketplace materials is that there’s absolutely zero assurance that your Sour Diesel, Girl Scout Cookies, or any other “strain” as labeled on the package is at all the same as the same name from somewhere else. It’s time the cannabis industry takes on this challenge, and replaces caveat emptor with consistency and reliability – for everyone’s sake. ❖

// THE LAB //


Concentrates, Chinese Herbal Medicine and

Peak Extracts CEO Katie Stem shares how her disease overlapped with her passions to create an award-winning cannabis company. By Patricia Miller


Sometimes in the swirling chaos of life, it’s easy to lose belief in fate and destiny. Why did this happen? Where am I going? Conversely, in the best of times, everything becomes clear. The “Aha!” moment, when we can finally understand where the road has been leading us.

Cannabis & Tech Today: How did you first become involved in the cannabis space?

For Katie Stem, CEO of Peak Extracts in Oregon, her “Aha!” moment came when she opened her cannabis extraction business. Beginning with her battle with Crohn’s disease, Stem has been on a winding journey that’s taken her from a promising career in research and laboratory science to a lucrative and rewarding business creating finely tuned cannabis creations.

Katie Stem: I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 21. I was living in Minnesota at the time and I moved back to the Pacific Northwest in 2004 to get a job at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), which is a research hospital. I had a number of years of lab experience doing research at that point, so I wanted to work for a major institution.

Laboratory science certainly plays into cannabis extraction, but Stem also forayed into Chinese herbal medicine and business management before settling into her career as the CEO of an award-winning cannabis company.

When I arrived in Oregon I went to a gastroenterologist to talk about my Crohn’s and he recommended that I try cannabis for my symptoms.

Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

We spoke with Stem to learn how her journey began, how her skills culminated in cannabis, and why science is at the core of every business decision she makes.

The program was fairly new and there were only a couple of qualifying conditions. Crohn’s

is one of them, also cancer, AIDS, and MS. So, I got my card and started experimenting and I started growing. I started experimenting with different strains; I had Trainwreck and Blue Magoo at the time. Blue Magoo is really helpful for me, but Trainwreck made me paranoid and I kind of hated it. It didn’t help with my symptoms at all. That’s when I started really honing in on this idea that different strains can make a big impact on different symptoms. As the years went on I started making my own edibles because I needed something that was long acting and I also didn’t want to smoke. I started making strain-specific edibles, which still isn’t very common, but at the time no one had even considered it. I worked at OHSU for several years doing research on MS. My work there was mostly focused on natural products and pharmacology.

// THE LAB // Crohn’s, Concentrates, and Chinese Herbal Medicine

“There’s something special about the chemistry of each of these strains, so I really want people to be able to choose what they are going to go through.”

Peak Extracts CEO Katie Stem refines her concentrate formulations in a lab similar to those she worked in while conducting research as a laboratory scientist.

We were comparing normal pharmaceutical drugs and interventions compared to green tea, fish oil, or grape seed extract, and what the effect on all of those things were on inflammation and the progression of MS. So then, when I stopped working at OHSU, I went to school for Chinese herbal medicine. I became certified and started my own practice in 2010. And all the while, I kept making chocolates. I think my parents thought I was bouncing around a little bit between science, medicine, and I also did two terms in AmeriCorps, which was mostly focused on business and management skills. My parents thought I was bouncing around, but now it’s like everything I’ve done is totally useful for what I’m doing now. It’s just so nice to have a vocation that brings all my skills together in such a tidy way. 82

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C&T Today: How has your training in Chinese herbal medicine influenced your business? KS: I like to integrate the concept of whole plant medicine and a lot of the herbal formulatype ideas. In Chinese medicine, they think of all herbs as having particular properties. They also do a lot of extraction of herbs in their preparations. So, there was a lot of fun data that I was able to look at, and look at analogous herbs and how they’re extracted. The point with Chinese herbs is that you’re supposed to pull all of the constituents of the plant into the extract so that you can get all the benefits. So, it’s kind of the same idea with what we’re doing. I want to produce an extract that’s as close to the plant material as humanly possible. C&T Today: Is that why Peak Extracts focuses on full spectrum formulations rather than isolates?

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// THE LAB // Crohn’s, Concentrates, and Chinese Herbal Medicine

Peak Extracts uses their precision formulations in a variety of products, ranging from chocolates to tinctures to cartridges.

“I want to produce an extract that’s as close to the plant material as humanly possible.” KS: That really goes back to my work at OHSU. There was something that really stuck with me when we were working with EGCG, which is a long, really unpronounceable word, but it’s the active component in green tea. It’s a strong antioxidant that’s been shown to be useful for any of us that have high inflammation or oxidative stress, like MS. And the problem was that green tea is very well tolerated by pretty much everybody. You can drink green tea all day and not have any issues. There’s anecdotal reports of people drinking hundreds of cups of green tea a day without any incidents. But, when you pull the EGCG out of the green tea, it becomes really caustic. And we were unable to get it into a high enough dose to be effective as a supplement because it was so caustic without the other components of the plant to buffer it. And so, it’s not just EGCG that’s beneficial about green tea, that’s just the compound they think is the most beneficial. So, we want to pull all the beneficial compounds, but we also want to keep it from doing what the EGCG did, which is that it’s not pleasant to take and it might even be harmful. I don’t think that the THC or CBD isolates are harmful, but my analogy with cannabis is Marinol, the isolated THC. It’s fairly useful for patients, but they don’t like taking it because it’s unpleasant. When you pull all of the beneficial compounds and terpenes they have their own effects on the pharmacology too. 84

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Ultimately, it’s better for the patients, it’s a more nuanced effect, and it’s different strain to strain because there’s a huge variety of pharmacologically active substances. A lot of the terpenes can affect the way that reuptake or absorption occurs. It’s a super varied myriad of compounds, based on how you extract it and how you preserve all the characteristics. That’s why we don’t do any isolation chemistry in our lab, it’s all full plant extract. C&T Today: What’s one of the most pervasive challenges of operating your business? KS: The biggest problem, and it continues to be an issue, is changing packaging regulations for Oregon. We’ll design a label and we’ll put particular warnings on there and then we’ll get a notice saying they want to change the wording slightly. And so, we’ll have to redo all our packaging or modify the design. The [regulators] don’t seem to realize that when they make that kind of revision that we have inventory that’s already packaged, that then we have to either relabel or discard, which is just so... It’s so upsetting. It’s lost labor, materials, and hours. I’m hoping that the bumps will get further apart as we have more time in the industry. C&T Today: What aspect of your business are you most passionate about? KS: The thing I care most about is this idea of being able to customize your experience by

having access to the different cultivars. And that’s why we do all full extract and we also color code our products so people can navigate both chocolates, tinctures, and the cartridge line based on what kind of experience they want because the colors will guide them to what they typically like. Even if the cultivars are different, the colors will help them to know what they’ve enjoyed in the past. It’s been a blast to hear from people about their favorite colors. For instance, all three of the original founding members don’t like the red products and that’s why we made it red. It’s like danger. It’s a heavy sativa – strains like Bruce Banner that are really intense with fuzzy, racing thoughts. There’s also a heavy body buzz and they make all of us really anxious. It’s like Trainwreck, one of the original strains that I didn’t like. And we have people coming up to us saying, “Oh my God, the reds are amazing. It’s the best thing for sleep.” And I’m just like, “Wow!” Personal body chemistry is so fascinating to me. That’s why it’s so important that people can choose, because what makes someone sleepy might make someone else really hyper. There’s something special about the chemistry of each of these strains, so I really want people to be able to choose what they are going to go through. ❖


Testing. Verified. The President of ACS Laboratory, Roger Brown, sat down to discuss this recognition and honor of winning 14 Emerald Test awards recently. He attributed this to the strong scientific scope ACS brings to the industry. ACS Laboratory, based in Tampa, FL, tests for FL licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers as well as hemp and CBD producers nationwide. Companies as far as Oregon and Washington State can count on the quality of ACS results to support their reputation, products, and business as a whole. What does the Emerald Test consist of and how is it measured? Why does it matter? The Emerald Test is something that happens in the fall and spring of each year. This is a company that created the standard for testing in the cannabis space. It is a proficiency test where they send you a blind sample that is spiked on their end to a certain unknown value. You test it and send the results, and from there they tell you whether you’re correct or incorrect. To obtain 14 Emerald Badges in the spring of 2019 is actually quite unique. No other company in the eastern United States has received 14 badges. I think the closest is 8 badges that anyone was awarded. We consider ourselves both a standard and the standard in the industry; we are all about the quality, reproducibility, and accuracy of our results. Many laboratories nationwide participated. How important is compliance? Transparency and compliance are very important to the company and me and it’s important to many consumers of cannabis and hemp. I want to ensure that anything end consumers and patients digest is safe and free of a wide array of contaminants. Some labs may test a sample and they take two weeks to get back where we only take 2-5 days. Other times, when others test a sample, they get different results each time. ACS Laboratory strives to deliver consistency and reliability in third party testing, as accuracy is the single most important factor for our clients. ACS uses the utmost stringent Standard Operating

Procedures and carefully takes each and every step of the process appropriately. Another reason to pride ourselves in making sure all of our tests are accurate. How used to this level of depth is ACS? We’re very familiar with proficiency tests and I think they’re very important. Every single lab is going to do tests with methods, protocols, and procedures they’ve developed internally, but not everybody develops the same protocols and procedures. If you can’t pass proficiency testing, then all the results you are putting out could be misleading, they are not all necessarily real.

That’s not good for the client or their consumers. Do 14 Emerald Test Awards speak for themselves? And what does winning 14 badges mean? It means that we’re one of the highest performing laboratories in the country, and we’re one of the top performing laboratories in each of the proficiency categories. Those badges recognize our lab for its capabilities compared to our peers. These badges can be seen on their website at ❖

Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today



“Tickets? Since when did they start charging for the bus? Didn’t we used to ride that s*** to school every morning for free?”

“You want to be my girlfriend? OK, but Silent Bob gets to live with us and you pay the rent.”

k c a B s e k i r t S Jay ewes years. M n o s a 13 t star iJc role after o o b e R t Bob into an icon n e l i S k d Jay antepping bac s ses discus

lio hony E By Ant

“Naw, he speaks some English, but he can’t all speak it good like we do.”


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

“I was outside taking a piss when I heard the news, congrats!”


rom Clerks to Dogma and beyond, these are some of the most comical and memorable lines spoken by Jay, the more vocal half of the comedic duo Jay and Silent Bob. (Although there were plenty more quotes, these were the cleanest examples.) Portrayed by actor Jason Mewes, Jay is known for his foul mouth, promiscuous attitude, and friendship with Silent Bob, played by writer and director Kevin Smith. Smith, who has directed films starring the duo such as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, has maintained a close friendship with Mewes, even to the point of calling him during our conversation. And Mewes is definitely keeping himself busy to this day. In addition to the upcoming film, Mewes streams gaming videos under the Twitch username JayMewes, co-hosts the podcast Jay and Silent Bob Get Old with Smith, went on a recent comedy tour telling hilarious anecdotes, and has officially entered the cannabusiness with Jay and Silent Bob’s Private Stash. In this discussion, Mewes opens up about his sobriety, his various projects, and his excitement for Jay and Silent Bob to finally return to the big screen. Cannabis & Tech Today: Later this year, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is coming out. What’s it like jumping back into the character of Jay? Jason Mewes: The character’s always been based on me, when Kevin met me at 13 years old. We had been friends for about three or four years at that point, when he wrote Clerks, and he said he wrote things that he remembered me doing, saying, and based it off of my personality. I did smoke weed and talk about it all the time, but I never sold it, of course. But, the character was based on when I smoked a lot. As time went on, even with the character, Kevin adapted to me growing up and my situation. Like Clerks II, the guys come up and they say, “Hey man, where you been?” And I say, “Hey, I’ve been in rehab. I got sentenced to six months in rehab, and I’m sober, and I follow the Holy Bible, and all that.” Because, at that point, I really

Since his debut as Jay in Clerks 25 years ago, Jason Mewes has portrayed the character in numerous films, including Dogma, Chasing Amy, and Scream 3.

was sober, and I had been sentenced to six months in rehab, and all that stuff. It wasn’t for marijuana, but it was for other drugs, harder drugs. I was sober then, because when you get sober, it’s a mind-altering substance you can’t smoke; you can’t do whippets, you can’t do anything mind-altering. So even though I’ve never been against weed, or thought weed was bad, it’s just this sort of the mindset of, “Hey, I need to be sober, so I have to stay off everything mind-altering.” So I would count my days, and go to AA and NA meetings, and say, “Hey, I’m sober,” and all that. The good thing is, again, Kevin adapted it. In Clerks II, I didn’t smoke. Then cut to Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, I don’t want to give too much away, but he’s sort of, he has adapted the characters and everything around it. Again, I don’t know how much I can give away. Put it this way, we don’t stand out in front of a store and sell weed on the corner anymore. But again, it’s like Clerks, Jay was talking about weed and saying, “I’ll eff anything that moves.” Mallrats, he was more slapstick, because when I got a little older, I was more goofy. And then, Clerks II, I got sober, so he wrote it that I got sober. You know, so all that, and it’s been really awesome.

I knew Kevin, we grew up in the same town, but we started hanging out when I was about 13, and when he wrote the movie, I was about 16. So yes, the character’s based off all the silly, goofy things in our friendship from those three years of hanging out together, and me saying stuff. I used to do weird stuff. I wouldn’t say weird stuff, but I’d be goofy, maybe driving down the road and I’d yell out the window, “I’ll eff anything that moves!” I would sit and put on my music in my car. Like, if music was on in my buddy’s car, we used to sit out in front of Walsh Farms and listen to Minor Threat and Misfits, and I had a mohawk at this point. And we’d sit and we’d mosh and stuff. So in Clerks, Kevin has him and I in front of the store dancing, and stuff like that. I used to say, and I still do sometimes say “Snooch.” It started off as, “Neh, I’m kidding,” “Nooch, I’m just kidding,” to “Snooch to the nooch.” And so, Kevin wrote, and the character is saying “Snooch and nooch.” C&T Today: What was the inspiration for the Jay and Silent Bob Get Old podcast? JM: So, I had relapsed. Kevin was super bummed, disappointed. I broke his heart, because I had been four years sober, and he’s Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today


// MEDIA+ENTERTAINMENT // Jay Strikes Back

2019 has been a busy year for Jason Mewes, between his comedy tour, his directorial debut with Madness is the Method, and his upcoming role in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.

always been the one in the middle of it, dealing with it. And of course, now I had my wife this last time. But again, she was new to me relapsing and dealing with that. Anyway, the point is that he was a little bummed and he had to step back, because he was upset and disappointed. When I got out of rehab, he had been doing these projects with Ralph Garman and Scott Mosier, and he opened up a 40-seat black box theater, called SModcast, where he was doing live podcasts every week. I started going there, because I wanted to hang out with him, and I wanted to see him. I would go there and hang out, and I was like, “Wow, this looks like so much fun. I would love to come here weekly and do a podcast for you.” He’s like, “Well, what do you want to talk about?” I was like, “I don’t know, I just want to do something.” When I first got home from rehab, I remember he brought me out to lunch, and he’s like, “Bro, I don’t get it. You were four years sober, and you seemed to be doing so good, you seem like you were in a good spot. What happened?” I’d moved to the beach, I really wasn’t going to meetings, and then I got kidney stones, and I got 88

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a shot of Demerol. Which, believe it or not, it was like, all of a sudden I felt that thing that I hadn’t felt in four years. Honestly, I didn’t even think about relapsing. But they gave me the shot, and they gave me painkillers to go home with to pass those kidney stones. And I’d forgotten that good feeling, and I was like, “Oh, I forgot about this.” And I feel like, “Yes, you could take pain medicine, if it’s prescribed and you’re sober, but you’ve gotta be really aware, you have people to talk to about it.” And I didn’t have that, and I explained that to him. I wasn’t accountable. I wasn’t talking to anybody. I was hanging out at the beach by myself all the time. Anyway, so he was like, like, “Well, listen, why don’t we do a podcast where you talk about what’s going on every day? And then, not only are you talking about what’s going on in your life, and about how you feel, if you’re struggling that day with drugs – if you’re really craving it, if you’re not craving it, if you feel good – but you’re accountable to the 40 people in the theater that are watching the podcast, and whoever downloads it.” Then we did one, and it was sold out, and we

did another one, it was sold out. Then all of a sudden, people were like, “Oh, my God, I love it. Can you come to Florida? I want to watch it live.” So we’re like, “Okay. Let’s try to do this at the Hard Rock.” It sold out two nights in a row, and then, all of a sudden, we’re touring in different cities. And each show, I was counting how many days I have: “I have six months, three days sober. I have eight months. I have a year.” C&T Today: What was it like to enter the cannabis industry with Jay and Silent Bob’s Private Stash? JM: It’s been awesome. In the movies, we sit outside of the store and sell weed, and you know, it’s like, who would have thought that years later, we get to actually be in business, and sell weed and it’s not illegal? We have water pipes, and we have grinders, and tree rolls, and all that stuff. So it’s been awesome, brah. You go into a store and you see grinders with Cheech and Chong on it. You see this and that, so like, why not? Especially because, I don’t, but Kevin smokes constantly, so it’s great for him. It’s like, he always jokes and says at the very least, he’s getting some free weed out of it. ❖

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One Nation, Under Sedation

The 78-year-old King of Funk, George Clinton, explains why he uses cannabis and reflects back on his decades-long career. having a roach on them. To go from that kind of stuff to it becoming legal, and the states are just falling off one by one. You wouldn’t think it would happen, but it’s happening and I have been waiting for it.

By Alex Moersen George Clinton’s list of accomplishments seems infinite. Not only did he define funk music, he influenced soul, R&B, rock, hiphop, and so much more. His famous P-Funk Mothership, which whizzed above crowds in the 70s and 80s, now resides in the Smithsonian. At the 61st Grammy Awards, he was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. He’s collaborated and contributed to music’s most famous acts, including: the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Bolton, Kurtis Blow, Prince, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Tupac, Outkast, Wu-Tang Clan, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino. His music was and is defining, not only for it’s flamboyance and groove, but also its societal impact. George Clinton, with Parliament-Funkadelic, created albums that told stories, employing themes of sciencefiction and Afrofuturism, along with political and sociological leanings. His most recent 2018 album, Medicaid Fraud Dogg, takes a direct look at pharmaceutical companies and the opioid crisis. At 78 years old, Clinton is finishing up his final tour with Parliament-Funkadelic, but still has plans to produce and make music. To what does he attribute his music inspiration and his ability to keep going? Cannabis. As a decades-long advocate, Clinton has become more vocal as of late regarding his support of the substance, speaking about how cannabis helped him get off of other, heavier drugs. In this exclusive interview with the Godfather of Funk himself, Clinton talks about how cannabis keeps him healthy, how it inspired his music, and what part of his career he’s most proud of. 90

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C&T Today: I’ve read that you personally have used cannabis to help you kick other substances. GC: Man, they ask me, “Why did I need [cannabis]?” I told them I had to stop doing crack. I was edgy, but then I realized I wasn’t even getting high all these years on the other stuff. You weren’t even getting high, you were just maintaining, and once I started smoking weed again, I actually enjoyed being high. I forgot what it was about, you know, when I was 17/18, when I first smoked a joint. I had lost all that over the years and didn’t even know what it felt like. The other stuff was so overpowering, but once I cleaned up, I could actually enjoy it.

Cannabis & Tech Today: You’ve been a cannabis advocate for decades now. Did you ever think you would see a day where it would be legal? George Clinton: Well, sure, I knew it would be eventually. You know, just having gone to Amsterdam over the years, you knew that it was possible that it was going to be… You can make anything out of hemp and cannabis. So, once the lobbyists and all them got out of the way, I knew it would be. In the meantime, everybody was getting busted going through the border. I lived in Canada, looking for seeds. All the way to the point of people getting life in prison in Texas for

C&T Today: How else does cannabis help you stay healthy? GC: Oh my God, I mean, I’m 78 years old and everybody’s talking about how they want to be 78. I think it has a lot to do with my temperament and being able to relax and just chill. I think that actually has a lot to do with physical appearance and everything. Believe me, there are so many things they can find out about cannabis; to me, it’s like the iPhone. It gets smarter every day… It’s going to be like the beginning of the computer age. We all thought we knew what it was about, but it’s a lot more than what we thought. I mean, I didn’t realize all of the rubs and things – like I said, at 78 years old – they’re better than Bengay. That s*** works for real.


“There are so many things they can find out about cannabis; to me, it’s like the iPhone. It gets smarter every day.” At 78-years-old, George Clinton still tours around the country with his band. This year, he is doing his final tour, but will continue to make music.

Fall 2019 // Cannabis & Tech Today


// MEDIA+ENTERTAINMENT // One Nation, Under Sedation

felt like that in the 60s; you know, before everything became illegal, marijuana was the one that pulled everybody together. C&T Today: Looking back on your long, illustrious career, do you have something that you’re most proud of? GC: Besides the Mothership being in the Smithsonian? The fact that I’ve actually got in motion the fight for copyright recapture. In all our copyrights of all the music that we put out that is sampled, for my heirs, and all the other heirs that helped write this stuff, going up against all the major companies and societies that control this. I didn’t realize how hard that was, but I think I survived to get the habit out of the way, and that gave me enough inspiration to fight and reignite my relevancy.

“It’s probably going to be a miracle of Biblical proportions.” C&T Today: Your most recent album, Medicaid Fraud Dogg, directly takes shots at pharmaceutical companies. What inspired the theme for that album? GC: It was actually like myself, you know, getting off of drugs, off of crack, and then looking around and seeing that the whole country is one nation under sedation. When I got off of drugs, I realized the look on everybody’s faces was the same look… My wife, she has Crohn’s disease. The medicine that she takes makes her sicker than the problems she already has… Drugs make you bleed. When I was growing up it was just Tylenol. Now, they got commercials telling you to tell your doctor you want this drug and that. Drugs shouldn’t have no commercials; commercials are bad enough as is. I mean, she stopped taking the drugs for the Crohn’s Disease and started using marijuana. She don’t bleed all over the place no more, and that to me was like, “Wow!” 92

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I don’t really take no drugs, no prescription drugs. All the drugs they give me, I take them and put them in the drawer. If I hurt bad enough one day, I’ll get it, but right now I get a cortisone shot once a year or something for that old age. S***, that hurts, but other than that, I’ve tried to stay away from those as long as I can. C&T Today: Throughout your career, what role has cannabis played in your creative process? GC: Well, it’s always a chill thing making music, whether you’re making beats, whether you’re arranging, whether you’re singing, whether you’re performing in the studio. Whenever you can chill, everything becomes better. So it’s very important. It’s going to be like a brand new thing that we done found, even though it’s been here all the time, because they kept it away from us for so long. Now they can do studies on marijuana and all that it can do, and it’s probably going to be a miracle of Biblical proportions. I don’t know for sure, but it feels like that. It

I’m pretty proud I was able to turn myself around and excite myself. I ain’t trying to be like these kids, but I can still hang with these kids. I still do what I do best, and that is help kids do what they do. That keeps me alive, so I’m pretty proud of that. Even though I’m retiring this year, I still will be making music with the band, the soundtracks of cartoons, and writing cartoons. I’m pretty proud of reinventing myself two or three times. C&T Today: On the other side of that question, if you could change one thing about your career, what would it be? GC: I don’t think I would f*** with that. Because if you go back and do something over here, it’s going to change or affect what happened over there. So, I think that everything the way I did it, the way it worked out, I’m going to leave it alone. C&T Today: Who has inspired your music the most throughout the years? GC: Probably Sly [Stone]. Sly and The Beatles. The Beatles mainly for all the different styles and things that they’ve done. They’re like the greatest, period. They had so many different variations. You had George Harrison’s sound, John Lennon’s sound, Paul McCartney’s sound, and even Ringo’s. I mean, they were real songwriters, and George Martin was a real producer. That kind of thing don’t come together often. That kind of talent and everything around it don’t come together often. ❖



Sensi Chew – With the delicious taste of the candy aisle combined with numerous health benefits, Sensi Chew’s cannabis-infused chocolate caramels offer a variety of benefits with both THC and CBD options. With edibles designed for everything from energy and pain relief to relaxation and arousal, Sensi Chew allows you to selfcare while pleasing your sweet tooth. Prices vary.

Seven7h Sense Skincare CBD Daily Face Moisturizer – Everyone deserves a nature-enhanced product for their skincare routine. Utilizing 100 percent hemp-derived CBD to provide a relaxing effect, the CBD Daily Face Moisturizer by Seven7h Sense gives your skin a stunning, healthy glow. $24.50

TribeTokes CBD Vape Starter Kit: The Mini – Ideal for anyone looking for a convenient mobile vaping experience, the Mini TribeTokes CBD Vape Starter Kit allows you to take your CBD on the go. Showcasing a travel-ready design that’s easy on the eyes, this starter kit includes everything you need to vape CBD outside the home. $75

Pinnacle Hemp D’Nish Vapeables – Packing 300mg of CBD into a 60ml bottle, Pinnacle Hemp’s D’Nish Vapeables provide a flavorful vaping experience. With an array of different flavors including Thai Dream (lemongrass milk cake), Tradewinds (fruit medley), and Oasis (hibiscus/prickly pear sorbet), these juices fulfill your CBD needs with unique flavors. $50

REDWOOD Reserve Pure Hemp Flower Smokes – Despite resembling a traditional pack of cigarettes, these natural, non-addictive smokes are completely unique. Filled with nothing more than one hundred percent pure, organic hemp, Redwood Reserve allows users to relieve their stress quick and chemical-free. $20 (MSRP) $15 (Wholesale)


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019


Select CBD Vape Pens – Combining unique flavors such as grapefruit, lavender, and spearmint with the mission to revive, relax, and focus, Select CBD’s easy-to-use vapes are an ideal way to enter the world of CBD vaping. Providing 1-2mg of CBD with each 3-second puff, these simple, stylish vaporizers offer a quick, effective solution for your CBD needs. $40

TRIBERevive CBD-Infused Pain Cream – Whether you’re suffering from swollen joints or sore muscles, TRIBERevive Pain Cream combines CBD, coconut oil, Vitamin E, aloe vera, and more to provide effective numbing relief. Lacking the “greasy” feeling of many other pain creams, TRIBERevive’s unique wellness product belongs in your medicine cabinet. $50 Eyce X Puffco Peak Attachment – If you own a PuffCO Peak vaporizer, your experience won’t be complete without the intuitive Eyce X attachment. With increased durability, easy cleaning, and more flavor-filled vaping, the Eyce X will take you to the next level. Price TBA

Alpha Packaging CRC-Compatible Jars – When you’re marketing your cannabis product, your packaging’s sustainability and child-resistance are two essential topics. Composed of recyclable materials, the CRCCompatible Jars by Alpha Packaging are environmentally conscious and ethically child-resistant. Prices vary.


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

Firefly 2+ – The next evolution of the celebrated line of vaporizers, the Firefly 2+ combines dual touch sensors, breath activation, and a new airflow system to deliver a truly top-tier vaping experience. Showcasing advanced heating tech and a design featuring the same high-end alloys utilized on NASA ships, the Firefly 2+ is truly out of this world. Price TBA


St. Bernie’s Gel Caps – While the company is known more for their handmade CBD gum, St. Bernie’s offers a number of other health-conscious products such as their Gel Caps. Ideal for getting your fix quickly and discreetly, St. Bernie’s Gel Caps deserve to be in your CBD arsenal. $40 (10mg) $50 (25mg)

Yudah CBD Bath Bombs – Considering the incredible amount of products CBD can be included in, it should come as no shock that bath bombs are the next frontier. Coming in varieties like cherry almond and wild passion to black raspberry vanilla and (the interestingly named) “monkey farts,” these bath bombs allow you to customize your revitalizing bath experience. $10

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FEMALE FORWARD While there is still work to be done, cannabis has been seen as one of the more inclusive industries over the past few years. In the upcoming issue, our panel of women in weed looks to answer some questions about the business from a female perspective. What might be some barriers to entry? How can we get more women into the cannabusiness? We’ll answer these questions and more in our innovator-led panel of female entrepreneurs from around the cannabis industry.

TOP 20 PRODUCTS OF 2019 Each issue, Cannabis & Tech Today reviews the top products that have caught our attention, from CBD tinctures and vaporizers to grinders and storage materials. However, we’re looking to up the ante this winter, with an expanded list looking back at the top products of the year. Our editorial staff will take a deep dive into the crowded product selection and make a comprehensive list of the best of the best. What are the innovative cannabis products that will be stuffing stockings this year? You’ll have to wait for our winter issue to find out.

CONGRATULATING THE CONVENTION Our publication is honored to partner with a diverse variety of events. MjBizCon is a major highlight of that list, with an expected 35,000 attendees gathering in the Las Vegas Convention Center to learn, share ideas, and discuss the industry. With the winter issue premiering at the monumental event, we are looking to showcase some of the major personalities and speakers making appearances, continuing our publication’s focus on showcasing the innovators that make this business so unique.

POP CULTURE MEETS CANNABIS Nowadays, seeing someone light up a joint or ingest an edible onscreen hardly seems controversial. However, it was definitely not always that way, as the massive stigmas surrounding the substance also bled into the entertainment industry for decades. Thanks to comedy pioneers such as Cheech and Chong and, in a more modern sense, Seth Rogen and Doug Benson, cannabis can now be seen in everything from TV and movies to video podcasts. Our comprehensive piece looks to analyze the timeline of the substance’s appearances in pop culture over the years.


Cannabis & Tech Today // Fall 2019

RELAX // Something Edible With Laurie Wolf

Breakfast Parfait Serves 2 Starting the day off with this breakfast feels decadent, but it’s easy to make and healthy too. It can be prepared the night before, but the granola will get a bit soggy where it meets the yogurt. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a very big problem. The granola will keep for weeks in an airtight container. Sprinkle it on ice cream, mix it into some pancake batter, or just eat by the handful. C’est parfait! What you’ll need: • 1 cup granola, recipe below • 2 teaspoons canna-coconut oil • 2 teaspoons honey • 1-2 peaches, sliced • 1 cup yogurt, your choice of flavor Directions: Heat oven to 340° F. In a medium bowl, combine the canna-coconut oil and honey before adding the granola. Stir to coat well. Transfer to a baking sheet with sides. Stir and bake for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool. Place a layer of granola on the bottom of each bowl. Top the granola with some sliced peaches. Follow with the yogurt. Repeat the process twice more, ending with the peach slices. Depending on the size of your bowl or glass, you may have two or three layers. This parfait tastes great with ricotta cheese and cottage cheese too. Cottage cheese is underappreciated and I think it’s going to make a comeback. Just wait.

Granola SERVES 12 Homemade granola is so much better than the store-bought variety. You can keep it simple or add a ton of extra ingredients. It’s so good you just want to eat it plain; it also makes a nice gift. What you’ll need: • 5 tablespoons honey • 4 tablespoons canna-coconut oil or canna-butter, melted • 4 cups rolled oats • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped • 1/3 cup cashews, chopped • 1/2 cup coconut flakes • 1 teaspoon cinnamon • 1/4 cup dried cherries or raisins, optional Directions: Heat oven to 300° F. In a large mixing bowl, combine canna-coconut oil and honey. Stir well. Add oats and stir again to coat all oats evenly. Add all remaining ingredients except the dried fruit and toss to combine. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally for 35-40 minutes. The mixture will be sticky at first, but once it cools it will be perfect. And perfectly delicious. 102

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Chef’s Notes: If you use raisins, you may want to add them towards the end of baking time. I like when they cook and get kind of dark and chewy, but not everyone does. Laurie Wolf is the author of such cannabis cookbooks as Marijuana Edibles, HERB, The Medical Marijuana Dispensary, and Cooking with Cannabis. Her recipes have been featured in High Times, Dope Magazine, Culture, and more. She is also the founder of Laurie + MaryJane, an edible company offering everything from almond truffle bites to vegan chocolate cookies.




So You’ve Eaten Too Many Edibles By Ryan Nowell Look, no one’s here to judge you. You did start with the recommended serving size, absolutely. But 20 uneventful minutes go by and ideas you could’ve sworn were stupid before start to sound not so stupid. Must have been too low a dose, you tell yourself, an adult with no functional knowledge of what a milligram is. Maybe I’m immune to edibles? The simplest explanation is a lack of patience, sure, but aren’t sudden, crappy X-Men powers just as likely?

If you live in a state with legal weed, remember that those edibles came in a wrapper with a melting panda on it. If the company that made Bao Bao’s Brown Wownies is serious enough to hire a graphic designer, they also have investors, a supply chain, and a mortgage. If nothing else, have faith that capitalistic selfinterest will keep arsenic outta those Wownies. Nobody is dying, dude.

What’s the worst thing that can happen? You chortle as you hork down two more brownies and rocket into a vertiginous hell dimension of mute screams and endless, weird sweating. So now you’re in the fevered paranoia of a bad edible high, and in stark contrast to the snack that brought this upon you, I’m not going to sugarcoat it – you’re going to be here for awhile. Just remember:

#2: You Are Totally Dying Everything I said before? Yeah, I was trying not to freak you out. You’re definitely dying. You just ate three bricks of fentanyl-laced asbestos, in what conceivable universe are you not dying? In fact, why are you even still reading this? You should be yelling. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now, in order to wring maximum terror out of this edible experience, go ahead and re-read item’s #1 and #2 back to back, over and over again, for at least three more hours.

“What if it was laced with something?!” I hear you fretting. Calm down. If you live in a state without legal weed, it’s important to know your dealer. Ask yourself: would Jeff do that to you? I mean…Jeff? 104

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#4: Clothes Are Traps! So Are Walls! Do you feel that? How, like, your energy isn’t flowing? All those constricting Victorian shamerags are clogging up your chakras. How the hell is your qi supposed to circulate while you’re festooned with totems of self-hate and austerity? It can’t. Exactly. So now that you’re ass-naked, we must confront the larger truth – aren’t buildings just clothes with plumbing and large appliances? How can you feel the breath of Mother Gaia on your skin shackled inside this consumerist oubliette? You can’t. Exactly. Just explain all this when your friends try to stop you from leaving. Remember, a lot of people won’t fully commit to restraining a naked person. Use this. Don’t be weird about it, just maximize that discomfort.

#1: You Aren’t Dying I know, you’re really sure. Every molecule in your body is screaming that certain-albeit-nonspecific death is poised on gobliny haunches, ready to uncoil. Thing is, not really though. You can kill yourself with pot brownies, sure, but it would just take way more than three of them, and Sweet Lady Insulin Shock would be the one to carry you off in the end.

Does it stop the sensation of falling backwards forever? No, not at all, but it is nice to get down there and see what your knees are up to every once and awhile. Howdy, fellas! Just don’t push for that next level of amniotic realism by trying this in a bathtub. The last thing your psychedelic meltdown needs is a water hazard.

#3: The Fetal Position – Thundershirt of the Mind Consider settling into what we’ll call “The First Cringe.” Nothing says “I’m an adult and things are fine” quite like folding into a ball and quivering like a piece of trash stuck in a chainlink fence.

When your one roommate who did sports in college pins you to the floor, remember to use your yelling from item #2. Amidst the scrum, crane your head up, peer through the window just as a breeze sends sunlight dancing through the trees. Feel the celestial alignment of your becoming wane. Howl like a newly orphaned vole. Realize that Darrin pressing his knee into your back and yelling “Just be cool, man!” is probably how most spiritual awakenings end. ❖


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Profile for Innovation & Tech Today

Cannabis & Tech Today — Fall 2019  

Summer is over and we’re jumping into fall with one of the best issues of Cannabis & Tech Today yet! This issue’s dual cover feature has Che...

Cannabis & Tech Today — Fall 2019  

Summer is over and we’re jumping into fall with one of the best issues of Cannabis & Tech Today yet! This issue’s dual cover feature has Che...