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exponential growth

Michael Straumietis, aka Big Mike, is the founder of Advanced Nutrients, which is making great strides in the cannabis industry. ON THE COVER: p h o t o b y J o h n G i l h o o le y



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The Cannabis Captains These cannabis industry leaders are paving the way for successful cannabis businesses in every sector.


A Year In Review Whether you look back at the ups or downs, 2016 was quite a year for cannabis.


Switching Gears Former Senior Policy Advisor for the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, An-Chi Tsou is excited to take on the challenge of working in the private cannabis sector.

50 departments news 8 News Nuggets 9 By the Numbers 12 Local News 14 Legal Corner reviews 16 Strain, Edible & Concentrate Reviews 20 Holiday Gift Guide 22 Entertainment Reviews in every issue 46 Growing Culture 48 Destination Unknown 49 Profile in Courage 50 Recipes 53 News of the Weird



online Exclusive! d New Chinese Language “Yelp”

Style App Coming for Cannabis Investments d CULTURE’s Guide to Staying in Compliance with Cannabis Advertising Regulations in Every State

Vol 8 IssUE 6 DECEMBER 2016










Publisher Jeremy Zachary Editor-In-Chief Evan Senn associate Editor Ashley Bennett Editorial coordinator Jamie Solis Editorial Contributors Benjamin Adams, Sheryll Alexander, Marguerite Arnold, Jake Browne, Cole Garrison, Jasen T. Davis, Alex Distefano, David Downs, Natasha Guimond, Addison Herron-Wheeler, Anthony Herrold, Pamela Jayne, Heather Johnson, Joe Jatcko, David Jenison, Kevin Longrie, Emily Manke, Tyler Markwart, Meital Manzuri, Sandy Moriarty, Madison Ortiz, Denise Pollicella, R. Scott Rappold, Paul Rogers, Joy Shannon, Lanny Swerdlow, Simon Weedn, Zara Zhi Photographers Steve Baker, Kristopher Christensen, Eric Fowler John Gilhooley, Joel Meaders, Duncan Rolfson Art Director Steven Myrdahl production manager Tommy LaFleur Graphic Designer Tanya Delgadillo sales director Justin Olson Regional Manager Beau Odom Account Executives Jon Bookatz, Eric Bulls, Kim Cook, Cole Garrison, Gene Gorelik, Teddy Helms, Chris Thatcher, Vic Zaragoza general Manager Iris Norsworthy Office Assistant Angelina Thompson digital content manager David Edmundson digital marketing Alazzia Gaoay manager Ctv Contributors Quinn Marie Distribution Manager Cruz Bobadilla

Culture® Magazine is published every month and distributes magazines at over 500 locations throughout San Diego. No articles, illustrations, photographs, or other matter within may be reproduced without written permission. Culture® Magazine is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. 2175 Sampson Ave. | Suite 118 Corona | California | 92879 Phone/Fax 888.694.2046

CULTURE® Magazine is printed using post-recycled paper.





/iReadCulture DECEMBER 2016




CBD Centric Carlsbad Naturals Makes New Partnership with Canadian Company San Diego County continues to be a growing epicenter for cannabis businesses, and one Carlsbad-based company is doing its part to further that growth. Carlsbad Naturals announced that it’s working in partnership with Laguna Blends, which is based in British Columbia, Canada. The companies agreed to finalize their announced equity acquisition and exclusive license agreement this month. The Co-Founder of Carlsbad Naturals, Jared Berry, shared his feelings about the partnership in a release, “We are proud to announce the alignment of Laguna Blends and Carlsbad Naturals,” Berry said. “Laguna Blends’ extensive client base and distribution network will fulfill the growing demand for hemp CBD products worldwide.” The transaction holds a value of $1.8 million, so it’s no surprise that both companies are excited about this endeavor.

Ireland’s Minister of Health Calls For Cannabis Research Ireland is a bit behind the rest of the world, as it still does not permit its citizens to use cannabis for medical purposes. However, that might be changing soon. Ireland’s Minister of Health, Simon Harris, gave a statement in November regarding the future of cannabis in the country. “This is not a discussion about decriminalizing cannabis in any way, shape or form, it is about reviewing our current policy and seeking to inform ourselves of the latest medical and scientific evidence on the potential medical benefits of cannabis for some people with certain medical conditions.” He continued to share that although he is aware that many patients are interested in using cannabis as a treatment, it hasn’t undergone the necessary regulations that medicines must go through to be proven as effective and safe treatments. That is why in his statement, Harris asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) of Ireland to provide expert scientific advice regarding cannabis.

San Diego Cannabis-Related Business Applies to Become the NYSE’s First Traded Cannabis Business A real estate company in San Diego may become the first cannabis-related business to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Innovative Industrial Properties (IIP) is a real estate trust that will primarily purchase properties that can be utilized for cannabis businesses. “Our real estate investments will consist of primarily properties suitable for cultivation and production of medical-use cannabis, which may be difficult to sell or re-lease upon tenant defaults or early lease terminations, either of which would adversely affect returns to stockholders,” says the executives who wrote in the prospectus that was submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company has filed paperwork to obtain an Initial Public Offering (IPO) from the NYSE and if granted the IPO, IIP may become the first cannabis-related business to be traded publicly on the NYSE.

Temporary Rules Issued for Cannabis Growers and Producers in PA Temporary rules were set forth by Pennsylvania’s Department of Health in a release from Official News for Pennsylvania State Agencies. Health Secretary Karen Murphy shared the agency’s intention behind this decision. “We’re especially looking for comments from the laboratory community to help us develop regulations that protect the integrity of the medical marijuana testing process,” Murphy stated. “As we move forward in this groundbreaking effort, we want to make sure that patient safety is paramount, and laboratories are essential to meeting that goal. These regulations are designed to ensure we have a safe and responsible process in place.” The temporary rules can only be in place for up to 24 months. They allow processors and growers to import seeds and immature plants from out of state, whereas before they were only allowed to import seeds from out of state. The new rules doubled the number of growing districts in Pennsylvania, and growers now have 90 days to get their grow sites up-and-running. These regulations also ensure the hiring process for cannabis cultivators provides equal opportunity to all, and officials are not allowed to disqualify a candidate’s application on the basis that another state rejected the candidate. 8


The percentage of residents in San Diego County who made their voices heard and voted to approve Proposition 64: (Source: California General Election Results)


The number of California newspapers and publications that announced the endorsement of Proposition 64 prior to the election: (Source: Yes on 64)

The number of San Diego City Council members who stated that they would like to quickly write up and approve a policy for where and how recreational cannabis can be sold in San Diego, to hopefully allow the eight city-approved medical cannabis collectives to start selling recreational cannabis as well: (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune)



The percentage of banks in the U.S. that are currently providing basic banking services to the cannabis industry: (Source: Bloomberg)


The percentage of Americans who stated their support for cannabis legalization three weeks prior to the election: (Source:



The percentage of voters in La Mesa who voted yes in approval of allowing medical cannabis regulations: (Source: San Diego Vote)


The percentage of Californians who voted to approve Proposition 64: (Source: California General Election Results)


The estimated number of people who attended a cannabis information session in Waikiki, Hawaii to discuss cannabis job openings, investment opportunities and other information about the state’s new cannabis industry:


(Source: Hawaii News Now)

The percentage of Wyomingites who stated that they support (Source: Casper Star Tribune) medical cannabis:


Miike Snow

WHAT: Miike Snow live. WHEN/WHERE: Mon, Dec. 5. The Observatory North Park, 2891 University Ave., San Diego. INFO: Visit for details. Just like any other major indietronica bands, Miike Snow had its humble beginnings. The two founding members, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, were childhood friends who grew up playing in bands and participating in other musical ventures. The duo once created under the pen name Bloodshy & Avant, and produced and wrote songs for a number of celebrities such as Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Sky Ferreira. It wasn’t until they began working on an album for Britney Spears

that they met the final member, Andrew Wyatt and soon after, Miike Snow was born. Now over 10 years since its inception, Miike Snow is putting out some revolutionary tunes, such as the insanely popular “Genghis Khan” from its most recent album, iii. Although Miike Snow’s album music is heavily influenced with synthpop, its live shows are unique because the band insists on utilizing real instruments, rather than a laptop, to reproduce its music live. DECEMBER 2016







POLICING FOR PROFIT Civil asset forfeiture under fire in San Diego by Pamela Jayne


n the morning of January 28, 2016, dozens of heavily armed Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and San Diego police officers stormed MedWest Distribution in Kearny Mesa, seizing $324,000 in cash and inventory. MedWest was a licensee for cannabis infused products, produced vape pen cartridges and distributed about 30 different kinds of cannabis medicine, according to owner James Slatic. The business paid taxes and had city officials tour the facility prior to opening to ensure that it was in compliance with state and municipal laws. Two employees were arrested during the raid, but both were released without charges. Within days after the raid, authorities froze and then seized Slatic’s personal bank accounts, those of his wife, and their two daughters, although they had no connection to MedWest. In the 10 months since the raid, Slatic has not been charged with any crime. This unscrupulous, but legal tactic is what he calls the “dirty little secret of the American justice system.” Civil asset forfeiture is used by law enforcement nation-wide to seize cash and property suspected to be derived from criminal activity. Assets may be taken from citizens who have not been convicted of, or even charged with a crime. The fleecing of the Slatic family’s finances has left them in a vulnerable situation, relying on credit cards and loans from family and friends. Because of this, the Institute for Justice, a non-profit law firm, stepped in to represent Slatic pro bono. Attorney Allison Daniel told CULTURE, “What the government did to the Slatics’ is simply unconstitutional. The San Diego DA moved to seize money under California’s civil forfeiture statutes. And while civil forfeiture can be complicated, the Slatics’ legal argument is simple. James committed no crime; therefore, the government cannot connect the Slatics’ money to a crime. All of the family’s money must be returned under the California Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.



This case illustrates the abusive power of civil forfeiture at its worst.” On November 1, The Institute for Justice filed a motion for the return of the Slatics’ property, challenging the government’s “vague and unsupported allegations of criminal activity” and demanding that their money be promptly returned. Despite last minute efforts by the District Attorney to prolong the process, the hearing began on Monday, November 14 and continued into the next day, with testimony from James Slatic, his family, and Detective Mark Carlson, who according to court filings submitted during the hearing, failed to establish in his affidavit that there was probable cause to believe that Slatic had broken any laws. Lawyers also allege that Carlson never told the judge that MedWest was a legally operating medical cannabis operation permitted by state law. The hearing ended on November 15, with Judge Jay Bloom announcing that there would be no ruling that day, and that he would forward his decision to both parties at a later date. Those close to the case speculate that could take up to a week, or longer. Attorney Allison Daniel of the Institute for Justice, is optimistic about the future, not only for James Slatic, but others who are facing similar situations. “We expect to get the Slatics’ money back—all of it. With civil-forfeiture reform, medical marijuana legalization, and now recreational marijuana legalization, the San Diego District Attorney knows that time is up on this type of policing for profit. This is simply a last-ditch effort to try grab as much cash as possible.” Until then, Slatic and his family are in financial and legal limbo, and the 35 people employed by MedWest Distribution have lost their jobs, health benefits and retirement accounts. For now, Slatic is not fighting to have the MedWest property and cash returned, focusing instead on the well-being of his family. When asked what message he has for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, he said, “Please use your resources to go after real criminals. Stop prosecuting legal cannabis businesses and destroying families.” c

SONO Fest and Chili Cook-Off The SONO Fest and Chili Cook-Off is coming to town, and it is bringing more savory goodness than you might be able to handle! This year’s competition will feature delicious chili dishes from 40 local restaurants in San Diego. Keeping it local, there will also be a beer garden featuring local brews in addition to wine from Fallbook Winery. Participating breweries include Coronado Brewing Co., Thorn St. Brewery, Green Flash Brewing Co. and Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, among others. Any great party isn’t complete with some good tunes! There will be two stages buzzing with live music to set the mood right, while food trucks will provide inventive dishes to the crowds. Additionally there will be plenty of vendors selling goods. Who knows, you might even get some holiday shopping taken care of while you celebrate. WHAT: SONO Fest and Chili Cook-Off. WHEN/WHERE:  Sun, Dec. 4. 32nd St. and Thorn St., North Park.  INFO:  Visit for more information. DECEMBER 2016



City of San Diego - Measure N


The City of San Diego voted in favor of establishing local gross receipts on non-medical cannabis, which is initially set at five percent and increases to eight percent on July 1, 2019. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego leaders have indicated that they will allow the sale of recreational marijuana, most likely starting with the city’s currently medical cannabis licenses stores.

City of La Mesa – Measure U


San Diego and La Mesa welcome new cannabis measures by Attorney Kimberly Simms

On November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64. Never before has a state ballot initiative had the opportunity to have such a substantial national impact with one vote. The country can now watch and learn from the world’s most profitable cannabis market. The initiative, also known as The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), paves the way for non-medical recreational cannabis use across the state. The passage of this pivotal initiative not only grants rights to individual consumers of cannabis, but also rewrites the criminal code by turning cannabis felonies into misdemeanors, and giving prior cannabis offenders an avenue for reducing their charges. In short, the three main goals of the act are to: Allow adults 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to six plants for personal use; regulate and tax the production, manufacture, and sale of cannabis for adult use; and rewrite criminal penalties so as to reduce the most common cannabis felonies to misdemeanors and allow prior offenders to petition for reduced charges. California NORML has published an 14


excellent guide to help break down what is legal and illegal for cannabis users, as of November 9. The more far-reaching and influential effect of this proposition rests in its ability to regulate the highly profitable potential of the marijuana market. There are billions of dollars in potential cannabis tax revenue now made possible by Prop 64 and the cities of San Diego and La Mesa are examples of where our industry is heading. San Diego County had three ballot initiates concerning the cannabis industry.

“There are billions of dollars in potential cannabis tax revenue now made possible by Prop 64 and the cities of San Diego and La Mesa are examples of where our industry is heading.”

Measure U, a citizen sponsored initiative to regulate medical cannabis dispensaries, commercial cultivation and manufacturing passed by 52 percent. Businesses will have to obtain a Conditional Use Permit and are restricted to certain zones within the city. La Mesa is the first city within the county to pass such an initiative. La Mesa has the opportunity to be on the leading edge of regulating medical commercial cannabis activities.

City of Lemon Grove – Measure V Lemon Grove rejected a proposal to allow medical cannabis dispensaries in the city. However, the vote was incredibly close with 49.58 percent of voters in favor of the measure.

San Diego County is also taking steps to decide how to regulate cannabis activity. Sadly, in early October, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to oppose Prop 64. Additionally, this past spring, the Board enacted a moratorium to prohibit new medical cannabis facilities in unincorporated parts of the county. The county is currently considering how they want to amend the land use regulations to create tighter restrictions on where dispensaries and cultivators can operate. However, in a very surprising turn of events, the San Diego Planning Commission met on November 4 and rejected many of the incredibly restrictive suggestions. In the months and years ahead, we must work together to get California cities and counties to roll back their bans on both medical and recreational commercial activity. Both MCRSA and AUMA grant a tremendous amount of power to local governments who can ultimately still ban our access. Furthermore, as the world’s sixth largest economy, we are now in the position to influence and continue the fight for federal and financial recognition of the industry, and fight we will. c DECEMBER 2016



strain, edible & concentrate

Prime Extracts Hardcore Live Resin

Available at: Left Coast Collective in San Diego.

Super glossy, remarkably clear and light golden honey in color, the Prime Extracts Hardcore Live Resin is a top shelf product made with the discerning dabber in mind. It has a taffy-like consistency, and intense terpenes that smell of fresh sweet citrus and lemon pine sol. Its flavor is also intense, with the taste of sweet lemon cake and grapefruit. The hefty inhale has a highly sedative effect that is ideal for those in search of next level medicating.

Available at: Mankind Collective in San Diego.

Tokyo OG Tokyo OG is an absolutely stunning specimen available now at Mankind Collective. It is dense, displays perfect nug structure and appears to be expertly cured. It sports multiple shades of green leaves with thick orange hairs and an impressive draping of trichomes. Aromatically, it has a traditional OG nose—smelling of sweet lemon pine with a very distinctive fuel undertone. The flavor is much like the aroma—sweet, earthy and piney, with a hint of petrol and a bright, sour note on the exhale. The hit is majorly expansive, and the effects are felt immediately throughout the entire body, providing pain relief. Cerebrally, it combats stress and works well as a sleep aid. The Tokyo OG is a great choice for all patients. GET YOUR CLICKS

HERE Available through: California’s Kindest in San Diego.

Golden Farms Lemon Puff Shatter Available exclusively at California’s Kindest, the Lemon Puff Shatter by Golden Farms is locally grown and produced, and tests at an impressive 87 percent THC. Made from a Local Sesh winning strain, it has a shiny, deep golden amber color and an earthy, citrus aroma. The mouth-watering flavor tastes a lot like Lemonheads candy, being bright, tart and sweet. It provides a huge, satisfying inhalation followed by full body relief of muscle tension, pain and restlessness.





Sootheen 50/50 CBD:THC Tincture

Available at: Point Loma Patients Consumer Cooperative in Point Loma.

Taken sublingually, the Sootheen 50/50 CBD:THC Tincture from Point Loma Patients Consumer Cooperative is a quick and easy way to medicate. It takes only a few drops under the tongue and about a half an hour for effects to kick in and last for several hours. This non-GMO tincture is great for pain relief, tension, sleeplessness and a wide variety of other ailments. Sootheen Tincture can also be used topically, or to make homemade edibles. Sootheen offers a full line of products with varying levels of CBD and THC, to suit the needs of all patients.

POP Naturals Indica Stick One of the most trusted names in medical cannabis extracts ups their game yet again with the POP Naturals Premium Oil Stick. The California-based company is rolling out their award-winning, super-pure cannabis oil in a revolutionary, easy-to-use applicator. The entire thing looks like a white tube of lipstick, and after you unscrew the child-proof top, the oil sits underneath in an applicator. Tucked inside the bottom of the stick is a screw-on, stainless steel applicator head perfect for flowing oil into vaporizer cartridges or dabbing. Just twist the applicator to cause an internal plunger to push the oil out the head. The container is discreet and looks more medical and userfriendly than more traditional, syringe-type oil containers. POP Naturals’ ultra-pure, strain specific Indica, Sativa, Hybrid, HIGH CBD, and SUPER CBD™ CO2 oil can be vaped, dabbed, eaten or applied topically. Patients consume extracts primarily to treat pain, stress, insomnia, and many other conditions without burning or smoking cannabis.

Available wherever: POP Naturals products are carried.

Available through: Alternative Patient Care in San Diego.


HERE Fire OG With lime and emerald green coloring, long red hairs and a generous spattering of trichomes, the Fire OG from Alternative Patient Care is a stunner. Its aroma is mostly earthy and pungent, but it also has a bright citrus smell as well. The flavor is well balanced and enjoyable, tasting of pine and citrus. It has a nice, smooth hit, indicating it was well flushed. Tested by SC Labs at 26.4 percent THC, its effects are relaxing for both body and mind, offering an uplifting and euphoric effect.

Available at: Torrey Holistics in San Diego.

Hmbldt Sleep Vape Pen The Hmbldt Sleep Vape pen, available at Torrey Holistics, is a truly innovative medical device that new and long-time patients alike will appreciate. It is used just like an ordinary vape pen—patients inhale slow and steady. Unlike other pens, the Hmbldt Pen gives quick vibrating relief to alert the patient that the dose has been completed. This fool proof method of medicating also comes in three other varieties: “Bliss,” to help you feel just the right amount of good, “Calm” which is formulated to relax body and mind, and “Relief” to ease pain and inflammation. The clean, crisp taste allows patients to enjoy the process of medicating. 18



Toker Poker

GU IDE! 2016

Get the hottest gift item of the season—the legendary Toker Poker! Finally your poker/dabber, tamper, hemp wick and lighter are all in the same place. This 420 multi-tool has everything you need to vape, dab, roll and toke. Its ergonomic design provides the most basic but essential tools for any smoker. Glow in the dark, chrome and other limited editions are now available online. Sure to be a stocking stuffer hero! Use “CULTURETP16” at check out for 20 percent discount online at (offer expires 12/31/16).  Price: $7.95 Website:

Grow For Vets USA

To honor, give thanks and give back to U.S. veterans, O.penVAPE has created a fundraising promotion with our partner Grow For Vets USA. We’ve designed two batteries, one customized with a camouflage design and the other an American flag. Both will be sold online and in retail outlets across the country. For every battery sold, one dollar is being donated to Grow For Vets USA. The organization’s primary mission is to save the more than 50 veterans who die each day from suicide and prescription overdoses. Grow for Vets provides veteran heroes with a safe alternative to deadly prescription drugs. Helping wounded veterans to receive the respect and dignity of life that they deserve is a mission we are proud to be part of. Price: $24.95 Website:

Lock N Load Glass Containers

If you know a cannabis consumer who is always on-the-go, then the Lock-N-Load Chillum Display glass containers might make the perfect gift. These tiny, 9mm containers come with a twist cap for safe storage and easy opening that will help keep that unique cannabis smell hidden until you or your giftee is ready to use it. Best of all, these containers come in a display case of 48, which means that a gift like this will become an instant stocking stuffer favorite. Price: $2 each, 48 count per display Website:



Nexus Vape Pen

Nothing says “I care about you” more than a highquality vape pen. For your loved ones, choose a Nexus Vape Pen to give them one gift that will continue to keep giving. It has a temperature controlled battery for 340°, 400° and 460°, and offers a 20-second drag time. All Nexus Vape Pens come complete with a USB charging port, for quick and convenient charging, as well as a lifetime warranty on the provided battery. Plus, it comes in four colors (matte blaq, pearl white, gunmetal and ruby red), which will help you narrow down exactly what your giftee might want. Price: $79.99 Website:

Smokies Toke Couture Marijuana Rose Necklace

Now that cannabis has been legalized in even more states, a lot of things are going to change in the cannabis community. Take this moment to jump ahead of the incoming trend of cannabis jewelry with a gift like the Smokies Toke Couture Marijuana Rose Necklace. This beautiful bronze metal cannabis leaf necklace is complimented with a soft pink resin rose to add a classy touch to a simple look. Cannabis couture is about to become much more than green and Rastafarian-color inspirations, and it all starts with gifts like this one! Price: $28 Website: SmokiesTokeCouture

GUID E ! 2016 .cont

Dr. Bronner’s Arnica-Menthol Organic Magic Balm

Here is a stocking stuffer perfect for all those hardworking folks on your holiday shopping list. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Balm is here, and it’s going to make sure that sore muscles, aches and pains are a thing of the past. Just rub a little bit of this magic balm on problem areas, and you will instantly feel a tingly, hot and cold sensation washing over your skin. The effect becomes stronger with time, and soon your sore muscles will feel like they’ve just received a hug from a minty gum chewing fairy. While you certainly want to grab one of these tins for a friend, you’re best advised to grab one for yourself too! Who says you can’t buy yourself something nice for the holidays? Price: $9.99 Website:

KandyPens Galaxy Tornado Limited Edition Vape Pen

For a sleek, good looking vape pen, you can hardly do better than the KandyPens Galaxy Tornado Limited Edition Vape Pen. Before you inspect any of this pen’s specifications, its shiny metallic exterior (offered in four colors: Gun metal, gold, chrome and rose gold) will instantly impress. Look deeper into this pen and you’ll find that it’s tornado coil, temperature controlled battery (at 350°, 390° and 430°), lifetime battery warranty and much more are equally impressive. This is going to be a hot Christmas item, as only 500 units were made! Price: $144.95-$149.95 Website:

Chewy Grinder

Long gone are the days of carrying around a heavy metal cannabis grinder! Now, technology proves once again that it makes our lives much easier, and with an portable electric grinder like Chewy Grinder, cannabis can be ground up quickly and at any time. This device supports a simple 9-volt battery that can provide an estimated 19 hours of use, and can also carry and store up to two grams of cannabis, making it perfect for any user out there who wishes to grind on the go. There are numerous colors to pick from, and we’re thinking this is the kind of tech that every cannabis user could benefit from. Price: $49.99-$89.99 Website: DECEMBER 2016





Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis Mark S. Ferrara


Until The Hunter

Rowman & Littlefield GAME Sacred Bliss is a great new book by author Mark S. Ferrara that delves deep into the spiritual and curative traditions of cannabis use through historical cultures around the world. The author challenges traditional attitudes about cannabis by tracing its essential role in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas from ancient times to the present day. Sacred Bliss offers great historical evidence of cannabis as an entheogen used for thousands of years to evoke peak-experiences, or moments of expanded perception or spiritual awareness by looking at sacred and secular texts from around the world, offering further support for cannabis as not just a medicine but also as an aid to increase imagination, creativity, heightened spirituality, perspective and deeper levels of thought. (Alex Bradley) 22


Pocket Buddy Designed by Neon Roots Developed by Pocket Buddy Gamers have always been fascinated by games about growing and harvesting, so it’s no surprise that a mobile game like Pocket Buddy has captured the hearts of cannabis lovers everywhere. This quirky farming game allows you to grow unique and exotic strains of cannabis from the seed up, and then continue to harvest and sell your greatest growing creations. It’s the perfect game to add a little canna-fun to your day, and is also bound to keep you occupied during family gatherings this holiday season too. (Nicole Potter)


Sausage Party Dir. Conrad Vernon, Gren Tiernan Columbia Pictures It would be hard to predict that a bunch of sentient grocery items discovering the fact that they are about to be consumed by the humans who are purchasing them would go on to become the highest grossing R-rated animated movie ever. Yet, that is exactly the plot of Sausage Party, and it is indeed what it has accomplished since its release. From the minds who brought you classics like Superbad, Pineapple Express, This Is The End and The Interview, Sausage Party is another solid contribution of theirs to the modern cannabis comedy cannon. (Simon Weedn)

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions Tendril Tales For her first album in seven years, former Mazzy Star frontwoman Hope Sandoval returns with her longtime collaborators, The Warm Inventions, to deliver a record as lush and dreamy as the material which made her famous in the ‘90s. Until The Hunter is filled with rich, textural soundscapes and thoroughly smooth, polished production that will put a smile on the face of any dreampop fan. Additionally, the album has a few heaters on it that step up the pace enough to keep the album moving, but never so much as to lose that languid, velvety sound. (Simon Weedn) DECEMBER 2016




p h o t o s b y J o h n G i l h o o le y

“I fell in love with the plant once I started taking care of it and growing it.”

Raising the Bar in Cannabis Growth Advanced Nutrients’ Founder Michael “Big Mike” Straumietis is helping this industry reach new heights

by R. Scott Rappold


he first thing you have to know about Michael “Big Mike” Straumietis is this— when he first started growing cannabis in his home state of Illinois, having up to 20 plants could get you six years in prison, 50 plants 10 years and more than 200 plants, 30 years. Oh yes, and those prison sentences were mandatory minimums. The early 1980s was not a good time to be caught cultivating. It was a life in the shadows, a life on the run. So you’ll forgive Big Mike if he is living a bit, well, ostentatiously lately. You may have seen him on Instagram, the “Marijuana Don” partying at his mansion with bikini models and huge quantities of premium herb or hopping across the country on a private jet.

The six-foot-seven-inch giant is living the high life for the rest of us and he doesn’t care who knows about it. As the founder of Advanced Nutrients, Straumietis has done well for himself in the cannabis revolution of the past two decades, through his company Advanced Nutrients, the world’s largest hydroponics nutrient company specifically for cannabis. He’s been tweaking his formulas for three decades and had scientists in Bulgaria studying cannabis long before states began legalizing it for recreation. Straumietis recently took time out of his busy partying . . . um, work schedule to talk with Culture about the past and future of cannabis growing, why he feels cannabis strains will someday be a thing of the past and what it’s like to be Big Mike. >> DECEMBER 2016


Have you always been “Big Mike?” Yes, because my last name is such a mouthful to say. All my friends when I was growing up, because I was always the tallest kid, they just called me Big Mike, and it stuck so it’s easier to remember than my last name. What was your first cannabis experience? I was 12 years old. My half brother Andy came back from Vietnam and he showed up at our door one day, and he was into weed. He gave my father three joints, which my father never smoked. I would look in his drawer and they were just sitting there. I decided to take one and smoke it. I liked it so much I took the other two.


When did you start growing your own? I was 23 years old. I had a lawn care company . . . I had a couple guys working for me, salesmen. They go, “Hey, I’ve got this thing.” “What is it?” “You can make lots of money.” “Tell me about it.” “You’re not ready.” They would tease me every once in a while . . . and one day they took me into their basement and they go, “Do you want to see what it is?” They opened the door and it was these six-foottall cannabis plants growing under these metal halo lights. I asked how it worked and they explained it all to me. I was hooked, and I wanted to make some extra money, and I fell in love with the plant once


I started taking care of it and growing it. I was amazed how it goes from veg into bloom and when you harvest it, how the plant goes through this metamorphosis. It’s really cool. Given the lack of knowledge out there, did you teach yourself how to grow? I was always doing different things, fertilizer wise, to the plants. One day I said to my friends, “I can do a better job than what we’re buying.” So I did and that was it. How did you know which ingredients to use? I experimented. Eventually I took tissue cultures from a bunch of different varieties of plants through the different phases of growing. I took

them from the roots, stems, stalks, leaves and buds. I looked at what the plant utilized in different phases it was going through and from that I was really able to dial in the fertilizer even better. Before that, I realized the plant consumes a lot of potassium and didn’t want a lot of phosphorus. They use a lot of nitrogen. I always had to boost the calcium and magnesium from the fertilizers that were out there. When did you move to Canada? I moved to Canada in 1996. I had already been growing for 13 years . . . If you grow or consume in Canada, you’ve benefited from something I’ve done. >> DECEMBER 2016


You founded Advanced Nutrients in 1999. What inspired you to go legitimate and start your company? I built this huge organization, 200 people working for me, and I watched it all get obliterated by the police. I said, “I never want that to happen again. I love the community I’m in and I’ll just focus on Advanced Nutrients.” I got a license to grow from the Bulgarian government. There are like three licenses like that in the world. At any one time, I have 23 PhDs working and a lot of undergraduates as well . . . With that license I was able to research the plant without any repercussions. What was your vision for Advanced Nutrients to set it apart from the competition? Right off the bat, it was for cannabis and I never shied away from that. I said, “This product is specifically made for cannabis.” My whole life has been spent studying the plant and how to manipulate it . . . I wanted the best product in the marketplace. I wanted it for myself and wound up turning it into a company for other people as well. How was it different from other products on the market? Most of the products at the time were for general agriculture so they had a high phosphorus number. Cannabis doesn’t use hardly any phosphorus. It doesn’t like it. I got sick of watching these fertilizer companies harming patients with heavy metals because they had sky-high phosphorous rates. >>




And it’s about to get a lot faster after this election. Imagine a big fence with wolves on the other side. Right now you’ve got a few rogue wolves jumping the fence . . . Those wolves, the really big ones that are on the other side, the Big Pharma, Big Ag, they’re waiting for the federal government to make it legal. When that happens and the gate opens up and those 800-pound wolves come, you’d better be prepared. I am. Most people aren’t. And there’s going to be a huge mass of consolidations. I’ve built the machine to withstand those guys. I have a very strong machine, and I’ve built it for when this day is coming, and they will not be able to move me off my number one position.

There’s a perception that it’s a weed and is easy to grow. Do you disagree? My friend started growing and we used exactly the same strains, cuttings from the same mother all the time. His weed was just, he would get $2,200 for $2,400 a pound and I was getting $3,000 to $3,400 and he was like, “Jesus, what’s the difference? I don’t understand it. It’s a fucking weed.” I said, “Listen you’re treating it like a weed. You need to give it TLC and treat it like a plant. This plant is going to make you comfortable. It’s going to make you a lot of money, so treat it like a high-value proposition you’re involved in.” The guys who treat it like a weed wind up with a really shitty end product, and the guys who treat it like a plant, love the plant, it’s different. I think the plants can sense you’re taking care of it and they respond better. You’ve talked about your belief that cannabis consumers in the future will focus less on strains and more on “outcomes.” Can you explain that? The regular patients out there, they don’t care about strains. They hunt down strains because that’s all that’s available to them. If I had a product that says, “Hey, this is going to let you sleep better. This is going to give you better sex. This is going to stop your convulsions. This is going to repair your muscles faster. This is going to be for weight loss” . . . You can dial in exactly the outcome. People want outcomes. They want relief from



specific problems, ailments they have. Those things are based on outcomes, not on strains. So the future will be outcomebased not strain-based . . . Think about corn. They have all kinds of different corn you can grow. Do you go into the supermarket; are you looking for DeKalb 604 or Pioneer 901 corn? No. You’re looking for sweet corn.

And why is that? Because I’ve already got my marketing funnels set up. I’ve already been in this industry for a long time. I’ve been growing for 33 years. I’ve had the business for 17 years now. We’re the most profitable cannabis company in the world. I have done more cannabis research than practically anyone else has. I have built my company for withstanding the onslaught of the big boys.

Doesn’t cannabis affect different people in different ways? You’re going to run them through a program and I will be able to deliver an extract based on genetic information that’s available and make a product for you that is just for you. We can already do that to some extent. We know some people carry a gene that’s going to make them paranoid. I happen to carry that gene. And we can make a product where you’re not going to get paranoid.

I want to ask you about your public persona. All the parties and the social media posts, is it something you do to boost the profile of the Advanced Nutrients brand or just what Big Mike does when he can afford it? It’s part of my lifestyle and I show that, the cooler aspects of it. My personal life and my business life are kind of just all one right now, and I like it that way. It’s a little bit of everything I try to show people. If you look at the Instagram, it’s not just jets and weed and women. My charity is on there, my philanthropy. I try to show the full circle, everything that I do.

So you would give customers a blood test? A dab of saliva. You’ll run it through a program and based on that we can deliver a product for whatever problem or ailment you have, deliver the outcome that’s not going to get you paranoid . . . I’ve been able to predict everything with great accuracy on where this marketplace is going. The only thing I’ve gotten wrong is the speed. This marketplace is almost two years faster than what I thought it would be like now. It’s moving really fast.

The jets, bikini models and mansion parties—is this a dream come true for you? Who would ever think some skinny tall kid who grew up in rural Batavia, Illinois, a country kid, would be sitting in Hollywood and be in a position I am in. I thank myself every day. I literally give myself gratitude. I get high in the evenings. I think about business when I get ready to go to sleep. I walk around my big-ass yard here and I see the views of Los Angeles and the Valley and I say to myself, “You’ve done real good.” c DECEMBER 2016


Cannabis Industry Leaders The leaders helping this industry grow to exponential heights by Addison Herron-Wheeler

Nick Kovacevich, Kush Bottles

Every day, more people are getting on board that cannabis should be decriminalized, legalized, or made available as medicine. However, many are still concerned about how to keep cannabis out of the hands of children. Most kids know to avoid alcohol, but the worry is that tasty-looking edibles or other disguised products could be accidently ingested. Thanks to the innovations of people like Nick Kovacevich at Kush Bottles, parents who use cannabis can rest easy. Kovacevich and his team are helping to create safe, child-resistant packaging that will protect children from products, even if they do accidently get their hands on cannabis. CULTURE caught up with Kovacevich to talk to him about the ever-changing industry and how his products are providing people with peace of mind. “We got started in 2010, and our goal was to bring childsafe, pharmaceutical-grade packaging to the emerging legal cannabis industry. Our mission was to legitimatize the industry,” explained Kovacevich. “We looked at what was being called medical marijuana at the time and a lot of the practices weren’t exactly up to medical standards, so I think that’s when we came in and wanted to provide something that was child-resistant, medical grade, compliant and above board. We changed the perception of marijuana and allowed the industry as a whole to be painted in a better light.” Through their innovative product, Kush Bottles are offering safety and security to parents and adults who use cannabis.



Ashley Preece-Sackett, Cascadia Labs

As the cannabis industry expands, it’s hard not to constantly be struck with new ideas for businesses and services needed by the industry. So it’s no surprise that Ashley PreeceSackett, the Founding Chapter Chair of Portland, Oregon’s Women Grow Branch, came up with the muchneeded concept of the Ethical Cannabis Alliance. The idea behind this group is to act as a resource for those in the cannabis industry who want to abide by standards and have good practices, and who also want to network and make the industry a communicative and positive place. With a background in horticultural science, Preece-Sackett is interested not just in the legal and business sides of the industry, but also in growing great cannabis that meets industry standards. “With Ethical Cannabis Alliance I would like to gather the voice of the nation and eventually the global voice, to find out what the industry would like to see as far as standards for environment and labor,” Preece-Sackett told CULTURE. “I would like to unify that voice, and then execute on offering a certification body so that people can voluntarily get a certification to show that the business model and the practices they use are above par. Right now there is nothing really available to show they are different than the next person, so I’d like to try and make that happen, but rather than use my own opinion and thoughts on the industry, I want to gather what others want to see.” >>

Anthony Silvaggio, Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research

One area of the cannabis industry that often gets overlooked, but shouldn’t, is the academic realm. In addition to all the medical research that needs to be done in the world of cannabis, it is also necessary to study the social and cultural aspects of cannabis to understand why it has been feared and discriminated against, and why many people find refuge with the plant. As Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research, Anthony Silvaggio got to witness the drug war first-hand in his home state. “[I want] to enhance knowledge available to communities, researchers, educators and others in better understanding the past, present and potential future role of cannabis at it relates to the regional economy, workforce development, health, environment and community,” he told CULTURE. “Having lived in Humboldt County, the center of cannabis culture and economy for two decades, I’ve witnessed the militarization of the drug war and the state terrorism that was brought on cannabis communities as a result of insane prohibitionist drug policy. These events led me to teaching courses and conducting research on the collateral damage of the drug war. As an environmental sociologist, I was most interested understanding the environmental consequences of the war on drugs in the region, and how drug war policies have exacerbated environmental devastation on public and private lands.”

Tony Verzura, United Cannabis

Those who have used cannabis as medicine first-hand know best how beneficial it can be, and often end up dedicating themselves to furthering the cause of medical cannabis once they’ve been healed by the plant. Tony Verzura, Chief Technical Officer of UCANN United Cannabis and A.C.T. Now, is one of those cases. Once a pain medication addict combatting pain from multiple car accidents with oxycodone, Verzura discovered cannabis during the lowest point in his struggle with pain pills. Thanks to the plant, he was able to get back his appetite and gain weight, sleep through the night and get rid of a lot of his physical pain. Now, Verzura is developing additive-free medicines for other patients in need, and giving back through the industry as an advocate and philanthropist. “I am hoping to make a large impact on people in need of a medicine that is plant based, not synthetic, and can offer an improvement in their lives” Verzura explained. “And ultimately, I am hoping to have the world see this as a neutral supplement, a supplement that our body needs, and not something to be looked at as just a way to get high. My long-term goal is to help touch as many patients as possible, give them an alternative, let them know not everything has to be synthetic based.”

Thomas Lavigne, Cannabis Counsel P.L.C.

The cannabis industry is quickly growing and expanding, and in order to keep up with the quickly changing regulations, and lack of regulations in some area, it is extremely helpful to have knowledgeable legal counsel on hand. That is where attorneys like Thomas Lavigne of Cannabis Counsel P.L.C. law firm come in. Lavigne started practicing in Hawaii where he took his first cannabis case and realized how much the industry needed help in areas like compliance and copyright law. He dove further and further into the industry until his current practice was born. “Cannabis Counsel is a growing law firm and what we want to achieve is representing clients and finally coming into the daylight and getting licenses, building successful, profitable businesses and servicing this market place which is a significant and large market place,” Lavigne explained. “We want to help clients with new business and products to get licenses, cultivators to get grow licenses, facilities that need to be in compliance and companies representing scientists. And then we also represent people’s constitutional rights and upholding those before the highest courts.” In addition to his paid legal work, Lavigne works with MI Legalize in Michigan to push for patient and usage rights, and even educates his personal care doctor during visits about the benefits of cannabis.

Bianca Green, Spark the Conversation

Those in media get to sit back and watch the entire show unfold, and for individuals involved with cannabis media, the view is particularly special. Not only do members of the cannabis media get to chart the progress of one of the most exciting new cultural and economic movements, they also get to shape it, because what they write about shapes how people perceive the industry. For Bianca Green, who started out as a High Times correspondent for the West Coast, and later produced the documentary Culture High, having a front-row seat to the ups and downs of the industry was second nature. Her inside knowledge and passion for the cannabis industry prompted her to start Spark the Conversation, the non-profit media platform she has been using to spread her message. “Spark the Conversation’s goals are to continue changing the stigma of cannabis and people who use it and to keep the conversation going,” Green explained. “In 2017 we are launching podcasts, video series and content that focus on the zeitgeist of the culture through an advocacy angel. We are a fundraising platform also, so we raise money to give to organizations that are fighting for personal freedom, cannabis and environmental issues. We want to honor a community voice. We feel ending the drug war is a priority and it can only be done collectively. Because we are a 501c3, we can bring brands together who support the same message and in turn each other. It is a joint effort.” >> DECEMBER 2016


The leaders helping this industry grow to exponential heights Dave Branfman, Branfman Law Group, P.C.

Cannabis entrepreneurs are everywhere, so there needs to be someone to help these enterprising businesspeople figure out things like copyright and patents. That’s where Dave Branfman, practicing attorney, comes in. Branfman founded his company, Branfman Law Group, P.C., in order to help those in the cannabis industry wade through the difficult and ever-changing world of rights, ownership and legalities. Branfman has been practicing law since 1979, and focuses on the business of cannabis. “I am trying to help innovators and creators in the cannabis industry protect their ideas and maximize the value of their ideas through a strategic use of the four intellectual tools: trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets,” he told CULTURE. “And basically what we do every day is answer the following question. I realized a couple months ago that I’ve been asked more or less one question for the last 30 years over and over again, and it’s this question; how do I protect my fill in the blank? How do I protect my idea, concept, name, invention, whatever it may be?” In addition to rights advocacy, Branfman dedicates his days to ensuring that new ideas in the industry are protected.

Andrew Modlin, MedMen

One of the most quickly expanding fields in the cannabis industry is management. As more businesses pop up every day and multiple corners of the market continue to be exploited, it is key for these companies to run well and be organized in order to have a competitive age. This is where major cannabis management companies like MedMen in Los Angeles come along. Andrew Modlin, COO and Co-Founder of MedMen, has seen his company grow from a startup idea for a management company to an organization that provides funding for new cannabis businesses and support for every niche in the industry. “We are trying to transform the way people view marijuana, whether you are user or not,” explained Modlin. “We are trying to make cannabis as normal as wine or beer. Bringing marijuana into the mainstream, legalizing it and setting regulations and standards only makes it a safer, better product for everyone.” MedMen are currently working on raising industry standards and improving the overall culture one business at a time.



Devon Richardson, Nerve Cannabis Consulting / Cannabrand

Colorado is full of young people who moved to the city to take part in all the amazing career opportunities offered up by the cannabis industry. Devon Richardson moved to Denver from Brooklyn in order to try and make her dream of working in cannabis marketing a reality. She initially landed a job with Cannabrand, a local marketing agency, and eventually left the company to pioneer her own unique consulting brand, Nerve Cannabis Consulting. As the founder and president of Nerve Cannabis Consulting, Devon is proud of the work she does in the industry. “I want to facilitate my clients being really successful,” Richardson explained. “At the end of the day, their success is my success and that’s the only way I will survive. Not everyone knows how to get their idea to market or how to create this brand and I really want to help them facilitate their vision to help them change the industry and create new products and brands so we can help change current restrictions and scheduling.” Richardson works as a local advocate, and tirelessly provides marketing and consulting solutions for her clients.

Jason Pinsky, VICE / Cannastract

Many in the cannabis industry are forced to be jacks of all trades. Due to the lack of banking options and regulations, as well as the many challenges that come with marketing, selling, growing, packaging and certifying a product, it is necessary to get familiar with many aspects of the industry if you work in it at all. That is why individuals like Jason Pinsky thrive in the world of legal cannabis. In addition to running his New York Citybased consulting company, Cannastract, Pinsky also runs a BBQ restaurant, has a background in technology and digital recordings that he still taps into and is currently producing a cannabis cooking show-series for VICE called Bong Appétit, which debuts on VICELAND television channel on December 15. In 10 years, I see cannabis woven into the fabric of society just like technology,” he told us when asked what he sees for the future of the industry. “It won’t be weird to go to Starbucks and get a cannabis latté because people won’t think it’s weird to add CBD to food. People will use cannabis more in everyday life and it will be much more of a regular thing. My son is nine, and he doesn’t know about ‘just say no’ or the drug war. He knows of cannabis as a plant and will have been exposed to a world where this is just normal. That’s the kind of future I want for the industry.” c DECEMBER 2016


by Marguerite Arnold As much as the U.S. has moved ever more slowly towards state-by state reform this year, cannabis legalization is taking place all over the world. Some of it is less impressive than what is going on in the U.S., some of it more progressive and encompassing. Regardless of the status of the change, however, prohibition here on Planet Earth is clearly coming to an end. >>




The United States Nine states voted on cannabis reform—both medical access and recreational use—during the national elections. Of these initiatives, eight passed—including four recreational reform states (California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada). Of these by far California’s recreational proposal—Prop

Canada & Israel Canada is on the verge of national recreational reform. In the meantime, like Israel, the medical industry is getting organized, regulated, and growing up into a real business. In October, in fact, both Canada and Israel saw their country’s largest pharmacy chains make serious moves to begin distributing medical cannabis throughout the country. Unlike the U.S. most countries, starting with these two, will not have a segregated “cannabis dispensary” system. Medical cannabis will be distributed like any other drug. Canada also began exporting medical grade cannabis around the world this year, most notably to Europe and Australia. Israel, perhaps in reaction to the same, apparently is headed in this direction too after many years of denying that it would consider cannabis exports anywhere.



64—is expected to have the most influence of the pace of change in other states as well as at the national and even international level. It is clear that cannabis prohibition in the United States, sooner rather than later, will be seen as a strange political if not medical anomaly of the 20th century.

Australia Australia is moving in the direction of most European countries right now. In the beginning of November, the country announced that it was beginning the growth of its own medical-bound crop while formulating national regulations and funding R&D initiatives. DECEMBER 2016



Europe right now is undergoing a fascinating, multi-state reform process, although inevitably there are those who seem to be doing it right and those who seem to be acting defensively, particularly in the southern part of the continent, to limit smuggling and black market activities. The leader in the EU right now is probably Germany, which began importing medical grade cannabis from Canada late in the summer. The country is well on its way to rescheduling the drug to a Schedule III and covering it under health insurance as early as spring next year. Plans are also afoot to create a national cannabis regulatory agency which will then regulate the growth of the domestic medical only (for now) crop. Italy, however, is also shaping up to be a contender in the medical space. In fall, the country’s military began distributing its first cannabis crop to local pharmacies. In anticipation of greater reform, there are also reports of more or less private cannabis clubs mushrooming around the country.

Rome also saw the opening of its first “cannabis café”—where registered patients can go into a private back room and imbibe. In the U.K., British authorities issued notice in October that they too were beginning to regulate the industry, although in this case, at this juncture, CBD only. It is likely that the British will then extend the same regulatory oversight to THC. In the meantime, all growers, distributors, manufacturers and sellers will be subject to some kind of regulatory oversight—although the exact parameters of the same has yet to be determined. This is also taking place against the backdrop of GW Pharma, one of the world’s best known canna-based pharma companies, outsourcing its British grown cannabis to the country’s largest sugar supplier. Carry on cannabis, indeed. In Spain, authorities are closer than ever to passing legislation, currently also slated for early 2017, to better regulate the sprawling and increasingly popular cannabis club culture that

The Beginning of a Global Export Market Just as significant as individual reform going on in sovereign countries right now, is the rise of the ex-im market. As Canada just proved, international regs are clearly being reconsidered. Other countries such as Israel are taking note. However it is not just European countries and Canada that are considering getting in on a booming and highly 42


valuable international agricultural commodity game. One of the most surprising developments of the last few months was Argentina—which not only announced the incorporation of high CBD hemp oil into its health system, but also announced that it was importing the hemp oil from the Stanley brothers, creators of the Charlotte’s Web strain. c

has continued to expand over the last decade. Currently, just as in other parts of the world, Spaniards can consume cannabis in members-only private clubs. The grows that support the same, however, particularly the larger ones, are increasingly raided by police. The pending legislation is expected to formalize how clubs can operate, and where they can get their cannabis from. Other contenders for legalization are also popping up around Europe. Croatia began distributing Canadian imported THC oil from Canada. Greece announced this fall that it was changing its medical laws to incorporate cannabis. And last but not least, Turkey has also weighed in on reform in an effort to cut down on its still booming illegal hash market. For now, the government has legalized cannabis cultivation bound for medical users and research in 19 of its 81 provinces, but it is still early yet to see how the industry plays out here. DECEMBER 2016


“This is our chance to say hey, the government can help people. Working with people who are passionate about what they are doing is just so infectious. It is an exciting time for the industry. To be part of that, to be part of history—that is awesome!”




If you take a look at An-Chi Tsou’s resume, you may guess her next big career move would be to run for Governor of California. Tsou completed her PhD at UC Berkley in 2012 and began service in the public sector the same year. She is most recently known for her role as the Senior Policy Advisor for the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. She, along with 10 other employees, has been responsible for creating the medical cannabis regulations in California, which are set to be put into practice early next year, with licensing beginning in 2018. Tsou did not major in political science, however. She has a rather extensive background in science, bio-engineering to be precise. After her last year of graduate school, Tsou took a fellowship that merged science and business in the public sector. She has been on the political road ever since, until now. Tsou has decided to give up the public sector and move into the private one. CULTURE had the privilege of interviewing An-Chi Tsou on her last day as Senior Policy Advisor. She talked with us about her position in the bureau, her future endeavors now that she is changing roles and even a little about Ultimate Frisbee. >>

What do you look forward to most when it comes to moving into the private sector? Part of it is, I like new challenges. I am excited about meeting a variety of people and hearing their stories and then being able to help. That feeling of helping people, I get a high off of that. Tell us about your new role as a consultant in the private sector. I’m actually opening up my own firm— Tsou Consulting, LLC. One of my goals is to work with underrepresented groups to create equal access. How will you combine your knowledge of California’s current cannabis policies with Tsou Consulting, LLC? Using my experience and understanding of the regulatory and legislative processes to create my own strategy and materials. My experience gives me a unique perspective that can help people in the industry. Have you played ultimate Frisbee lately? Who would you love to play (and beat)? (Laughs.) I have. I’m the Co-Captain of a team, with my husband, the Polar Bears. We just finished our main season. I would love to play Serena Williams because she is an incredible athlete, very competitive and a role model. She has been at the top of her game for so freaking long. She is an inspiration to me and many other athletes. Writing regulations is a long and tedious process. Where was your group in this process when you left? We just finished the pre-regulatory stake holder meetings and came up with some initial ideas to pitch to the public. A lot of progress was made, a lot of people I know are really anxious to see the end result. What did you feel most strongly about in regulating medical cannabis in California? There are three highlights for me, personally. First, patient safety is of huge importance. Some businesses try their best to create products that are safe. But, without state and local standards, that is sometimes hard to do. This is also important to me because of my bio-engineering background. I

have met people with chronic diseases with no other solution. This gives them access to medicine that makes them feel better. One of the reasons I went into public policy is because I wanted to help people. Second is public safety. I have talked to stakeholders about what they are going through. I have a lot of respect for companies that have been in existence for multiple generations. This can be a dangerous business in some circumstances. Finally, protecting the environment is critical to having strong regulations. A lot of damage has been

“Patient safety is of huge importance. Some businesses try their best to create products that are safe. But, without state and local standards, that is sometimes hard to do.” done to certain parts of the state and there is a great deal of work ahead of us to fix those problems. What regulations did you least look forward to? I don’t think there’s anything I am looking forward to the least. There are a lot of hot button issues that will be challenging. My friends will tell you I don’t shy away from challenges. With the new addition of a license distributor, people are nervous that

cannabis prices will shoot up. Do you believe this will happen? I think this is the least understood license under the medical program. It was put there to be a third party inspection and quality assurance type of agent. I really think the first thing we have to do is educate folks on what the license is. Will the newly legal recreational cannabis affect the work that has been done thus far in the medical regulations? Will it change anything? Or delay the structuring? There is some flexibility there to be able to change it. So it could take longer. I suspect there will be a bill to make some changes to one or both. December will be really interesting to see what new bills will be put out there. Yet another reason to get engaged. You speak several languages. How do you think you can help non-English speaking people grasp the importance of medical cannabis and its regulation in California? I want to really help; I feel inspired as a woman of color to help out different businesses and am happy to partner with minority owned businesses. I want to help people learn how to get involved and to understand the process. What does a typical day as the Senior Policy Advisor for the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation look like? I don’t know if there was a typical one. Some days I was making informational materials for the public, meeting with the legislature and writing analysis on different things. Other days I was meeting with stakeholders, or other regulatory agencies, or researching or meeting with other states. It definitely depended on the day. What inspires you to be part of the cannabis industry? It is a fascinating policy area. It is so rare that anyone in the public sector is able to create something new. Some policies have been around a really long time. I say “new,” but I put quotes around it because it has actually been around a long time. This is our chance to say hey, the government can help people. Working with people who are passionate about what they are doing is just so infectious. It is an exciting time for the industry. To be part of that, to be part of history—that is awesome! c DECEMBER 2016


culture growing RECIPES UNKNOWN

by Ed Rosenthal

Two months ago, I started an experiment for making seed that would produce only female plants. To do this I started applying “masculinizing chemicals” that induce female plants to produce male reproductive organs, that is, flowers. The pollen that results from this process carries no chromosomes or genes for maleness, so all the seeds that are produced using this pollen will produce female plants. These are popularly called, “feminized seeds.” The three treatments I originally used were Silver thiosulfate (STS) sprayed to drip weekly, colloidal silver 30ppm sprayed to drip daily and a commercial product advertised to produce male flowers on female plants. Within 30 days of starting application of the three different treatments, only one of them, the commercial product, actually induced flowering. I collected the pollen by placing the plants on horizontally with collection paper under each plant so that pollen could drop off onto the paper as the flowers opened. Only a small amount

of pollen was collected this way so we removed the flowers from each of the four plants, each a different variety: Blue Dream, Candy land, Sour Diesel and Girl Scout Cookies. We shook the flowers for a few seconds and then gently screened them through a stainless steel mesh hash screen. Three varieties yielded pollen but the Blue Dream did not. Using separate fine size watercolor paintbrushes we “painted” the pollen on separate branches of two flowering female plants that had not been treated with any chemicals. The flowers on both plants were mature but young so we assumed that they would be receptive to viable pollen. At the same time as we were applying pollen we replicated the experiment in part but changed the parameters. We started with two plants each of four varieties: Candy land, Gelato, Girl Scout Cookies and Sour Diesel that we separated into two groups. We started spraying the first group daily, rather than weekly, with silver thiosulfate and the second group was sprayed daily with 100-PPM colloidal silver, rather than 3O-PPM.

The results so far:

The plants pollinated with pollen from each of the three masculinized plants that produced pollen from the commercial masculinizing product seem to developing seeds. None of the newly sprayed plants that were treated with STS or colloidal silver have developed male flowers.

Analysis of Results and Future Plans:

Although literature states that colloidal silver induces male flowers a number of experimenters have not had success. However, several experimenters said that they had the same problem, no male flowers, but solved it when they used home made colloidal silver. Producing it is a simple process- running an electrical trickle through water. When they tried the same experiment using homemade colloidal silver, the plants produced copious male flowers and pollen. I plan to make my own to treat the plants following the path of the successful experimenters. It’s not clear why the STS didn’t work. There is a possibility that the plants are dose sensitive, so I am going to change the amount the plants receive. I will give one group half the dosage and another group twice the strength. Meanwhile, we are awaiting seed development. c







A cardboard barrier was used separate the two groups of plants when they were sprayed.

Male flowers were profuse, but yielded small amounts of pollen.

Handscreening was used to separate pollen from flowers.

Viable flowers painted with pollen using a water color brush.

Pollination was successful. Seeds are growing.

Copyright by Ed Rosenthal. All rights are reserved. First North American Magazine rights only are assigned to culture Magazine. No other reproduction of this material is permitted without the specific written permission of the author/copyright holder.



At harvest the bud is a jewel surrounded by base metal. To make use of it, the large fan leaves and the smaller gland heavy trim leaves are removed. Rather than treating them as trash, you can make them into stash. Here are some ways they can be used: Use a screen to separate the trichomes (glands) from the trim leaves. The powder is called kief. Use leaves and trims to create a “sleep pillow.” Place about two ounces inside a loosely woven pouch or sachet. Place it above the bed near the head; It promotes less disturbed sleep, with fewer episodes of wakening. Replace weekly. Use in a pipe or to enrich a joint, As raw material for rosin. Kief adds little taste or odor when used for cooking. DECEMBER 2016



if you go:



Time to Go: Winter Weather: Freezing temperatures and regular snowfall Budget: $$$$$

Whistler Wows as a Winter Wonderland






by Sheryll Alexander


Whistler is British Columbia’s winter wonderland par excellence, plus this mountain village is an active cannabis enthusiast’s dream come true. So, come along on this travel guide ride to winter 2016 in Whistler. What could be better for cannabis patients than a winter vacation to a wonderfully walkable and charming remote alpine town with some of Canada’s most openly cannabisloving locals? Built with the 1968 Winter Olympics in mind, Whistler’s central village and professional recreational venues were refurbished and completely renovated to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. That’s why there’s an incredibly long list of winter things to do outdoors. As for skiing and snowboarding, there’s lessons along with heli, cat, backcountry and

Nordic styles. Other winter adventures include ziplining, dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hockey, ice fishing and Olympic sports tours. In fact, the two side-by-side mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb offer one of the longest ski seasons in North America with 8,000+ acres, 200 runs, 16 alpine bowls and three glaciers. Accommodations in Whistler also abound from cozy rental cabins to Air BNB rooms to mid-priced hotels to some of Canada’s classic luxury hotels. Wherever you stay, the action in Whistler is on the slopes during the day and in the village at night where you can do everything from eat breakfast to shop ‘til you drop to party all night long at jazz clubs, cowboy bars, craft brew bistros and heart-pumping nightclubs. c

Fun-Filled Facts Whistler deals with its hordes of young tourists visiting during the cold winter holidays by building an indoor family fun zone. Open from December 17-30 (closed December 25) and held at the Whistler Conference Center, the “Whistler Holiday Experience” caters to the kid in everyone with mini putt-putt golf, bounce houses, video and table games, handicraft making and much more. Adult children can relax in the nearby lounge with coffee or hot chocolate. 1


If you happen to be visiting Whistler this year on December 17, get ready to be part of “Dress As Santa Day.” Locals (and in-the-know tourists) don a Santa costume all day long to ring in the season in cheeky style including on the slopes. 2

Just like most medical cannabis states, Canada’s vast British Columbia province has a patient licensing system along with Canadian-citizensonly cannabis dispensaries. However, a new law put into effect in August by Health Canada now allows citizens (or their friends who are forced to undergo a background check) to legally “produce a limited amount of cannabis for his/ her own medical purposes.” Of course, these grow-at-home patients must register with Health Canada and are limited in their grows depending upon daily dosage. What this means for cannabis-seeking visitors to BC and Whistler is both good and bad. The bad news is non-Canadian citizens cannot legally buy, smoke or ingest cannabis. The good news is Canada has a lax view of small, individual amounts of cannabis and smoking too for that matter (as long as you keep it away from crowds, hotels and government buildings). Most locals recommend buying bud in Vancouver before the long drive to Whistler as it is less expensive, easier to get and more safe. If you end up in town empty handed, however, befriend some of the chill-looking locals (as most of them smoke anyways) and politely ask if you can score a little something for the slopes.

culture RECIPES


Jefferson VanBilliard

Age: 31






Condition/Illness: ADHD

When did you start using cannabis: I started using cannabis when I was 24. Did you try other methods: Yes. As a teenager, I was prescribed a common, stimulant-based prescription drug that left me feeling despondent and bored. I had trouble connecting with my peers and caring about anything besides getting away from school. I stopped taking it and struggled for years with my diet, sleep schedule, and ability to focus and enjoy each moment until I tried cannabis—haven’t looked back since. What’s the most important issue or problem facing medical cannabis patients: The most important thing we can all do, as a community, is to help remove the stigma that all marijuana users are the

stereotypical “burnout” with no education or motivation to succeed in life. Doctors, judges, firefighters, teachers and even the President have admitted to using marijuana, and I still have to convince my family that I won’t become a junkie on the streets after taking a dab. What do you say to folks that are skeptical: I work in the cannabis industry and I work as a bartender. As a bartender, I use cannabis to keep a cool head and to regulate my sleep patterns, and usually when someone finds out that I am a part of the medical cannabis industry they’ve had no prior indications that I medicate all day, every day. When I point out the fact that they’ve probably never seen me not medicated, it usually tears down the common misconceptions people have about cannabis use and allows me to further educate people about all of the profound effects this plant could have on our world. c

Are you an MMJ patient with a compelling story to tell? If so, we want to hear from you. Email your name, contact information and details about your experiences with medical cannabis to DECEMBER 2016


culture growing

Holiday Bliss in the Kitchen Menu: Medicated Orange Bitters Medicated Mulled Apple Cider




Medicated Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

recipes and photos by Monica Lo from Sous Weed Nothing screams ‘The Holidays’ like the warm fall flavors of cinnamon, apple, nutmeg and citrus. Monica Lo from Sous Weed has the perfect simple recipes for this holiday season. Medicated bitters make for great DIY gifts for your friends and family— medicated mulled hot apple cider and infused bourbon bread pudding are the perfect accents to add to your personal holiday celebrations. The best part is you can customize these recipes with all sorts of spices and aromatics! The possibilities are endless!

Medicated Orange Bitters Makes 250ml (about 1 cup) Ingredients

1 cup Everclear (or any high-proof liquor—at least 100 proof or 50% alcohol by volume)

1/2 tablespoon crushed green cardamom pods

6 grams ground, decarbed cannabis

1 teaspoon allspice




Peel of two oranges


1/2 tablespoon dried gentian root

1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds 1 teaspoon cloves 1 star anise

Directions Set your sous vide water bath to 70˚C. Place all ingredients in a zip seal bag and seal using the water displacement method. Submerge and sous vide for 1 hour. Remove from water bath and let cool to room temperature. Strain out the solids and discard. Keep bitters in a bottle in a dark cabinet. 

*Always start small when using bitters and tinctures. 1-2 drops and wait 30-60 minutes for full effects. Increase dosage if needed.




Medicated Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce Serves 6


Ingredients for Bread Pudding: 1/4 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup crushed walnuts

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoon bourbon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/4 cup whole milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 cups cubed brioche bread, about 9 ounces

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Ingredients for Medicated Bourbon Sauce 1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup medicated orange bitters

1/4 cup bourbon

Directions: To prepare pudding: Combine raisins and 2 tablespoons bourbon in a small bowl. Let soak for 30 minutes. Whisk together soaked raisins, milk, walnuts, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and egg until well fully combined. In a loaf pan, add cubed brioche and pour the raisin mixture on top. Cover with foil and refrigerate to soak for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove loaf pan from refrigerator and add a cup of hot water on top. Cover again with foil and place in oven to bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. To prepare sauce: In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, combine sugar and butter and stir until combined, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in bourbon and medicated bitters. Remove the bread pudding from the oven and drizzle the medicated sauce on top. Serve warm. 


1/2 cup brown sugar

Medicated Mulled Apple Cider

Serves 1

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cup apple cider

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1.4 teaspoon whole cloves

1/2 orange, cut into rings

2 whole allspice

2 drops medicated orange bitters

1 inch cinnamon stick

Directions: Combine apple cider, spices, sugar and orange rings in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another 2 minutes. Strain into a mug and add two drops of orange bitters. Garnish with cinnamon stick.  Legal Disclaimer Publishers of this publication are not making any representations with respect to the safety or legality of the use of medical marijuana. The recipes listed here are for general entertainment purposes only, and are intended for use only where medical marijuana is not a violation of state law. Edibles can vary in potency while a consumers’ weight, metabolism and eating habits may affect effectiveness and safety. Ingredient management is important when cooking with cannabis for proper dosage. Please consume responsibly and check with your doctor before consumption to make sure that it is safe to do so.


Chuck Shepherd's

News of the


LEAD STORY—EXTREME HOBBIES u John Weigel and Olaf Danielson are engaged in a frenzied battle of “extreme birdwatching,” each hoping to close out 2016 as the new North American champ of the American Birding Association, and a September Smithsonian piece had Weigel ahead, 763 to 759. Danielson is perhaps better known for doing much of his birding in the nude (and is the author of the provocatively titled volume, “Boobies, Peckers and Tits”—all common names of popular birds). The old one-year record was 749, and the association attributes the larger numbers this year to El Nino, which has disrupted food supplies and driven birds into different locations. FINE POINTS OF THE LAW u Compelling Explanation: Senate bill 1342, passed in the Idaho legislature earlier in 2016, authorizes schools to use the Bible as a reference in classrooms (despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s having specifically condemned a previous version of the bill ever since 1964). The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sage Dixon, said he thought his law was nonetheless constitutional because, “The little Supreme Court in my head says this is OK.” (Even so, Gov. C.L. Otter vetoed the bill.) u Nebraska voters in November will be asked whether to keep the state’s longstanding death penalty for murder—even though retaining it will require them to vote “repeal.” The legislature replaced death row last year with mandatory

life sentences, and the referendum is to “repeal” or “retain” that legislation. Hence, to abolish the death penalty, voters must select “retain.” The state attorney general, and election officials, declined to challenge the confusing arrangement, instead suggesting that Nebraskans are smart enough to figure the whole thing out. u The Arizona legislature passed a child-molestation law recently that made any adult contact with children’s genitals a criminal act, but unlike in other states’ similar laws, neglected to include a requirement that the outlawed contact be for “sexual” purposes. Consequently, in principle, parents may be criminally liable, for example, for bathing a baby or changing its diaper. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled in September that it is up to the legislature to change the law, but some lawmakers professed indifference, confident that district attorneys will use good judgment about whom to prosecute. FUN WITH PENNIES u (1) Robert Napolitan, 34, was arrested in Taylor, Pennsylvania, in September and charged with theft of a drum containing 300,000 pennies from his employer, Pyne Freight Lines. That steel drum weighs several tons and, of course, netted Napolitan only $3,000. (By contrast, in New York City’s Diamond District in September, a brazen thief made off with a 5-gallon drum containing 86 pounds of something else— gold flakes, valued at more than $1 million—and is still at large.) (2) For some reason, according to a High Point, North Carolina, TV report, Larry Hall of Randolph County took seven-plus weeks out of his life recently and glued pennies to cover (except for windows and chrome) his 2000 Chevrolet Blazer (a total of 51,300 coins). DECEMBER 2016





Culture Magazine San Diego December 2016