Sensi Magazine - Boston (June 2019)

Page 1


ELLEN BROWN Cape Cod native carves a career out of hemp


Why Podcasting is the new default for storytelling

SUSTAINABILITY IN CANNABIS It’s time for a discussion

50 YEARS IN Foodservice East’s SUSAN HOLIDAY isn’t slowing down

{plus} CBD Center of RI Opening


6.2019 JUNE 2019 3

4 JUNE 2019 Boston JUNE 2019 5

6 JUNE 2019 Boston

ISSUE 6 // VOLUME 2 // 6.2019



32 Greener Green

As the cannabis industry matures, it needs to live up to its sustainability potential.

38 Hotcasting

After languishing for nearly two decades, the podcast medium is having its moment.

ELLEN BROWN faces the crowds and readies her hemp game as a local woman on the rise.




every issue 09 Editor’s Note 11 The Buzz 18 TasteBuds


22 AroundTown


26 HighProfile


50 The Scene


Sensi magazine is published monthly by Sensi Media Group LLC. © 2019 SENSI MEDIA GROUP LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. JUNE 2019 7

sensi magazine ISSUE 6 / VOLUME 2 / 6.2019





EDITORIAL sensimediagroup

Stephanie Wilson EDITOR IN CHIEF



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May was rife with rain and gloom as much

as it was ports in the storm of the brand of existential doom running through the current generation. For those unaware, there exists a subculture of “doomers,” a growing sect burdened by the onslaught of terror our world presents anyone with access to the internet and streaming digital services. They feel hopeless, tired, and in the extreme have no plans to see the ‘morrow. It’s a horrible mental place to live. So, for those with a touch of the doom haunting their dome, look to cannabis, as there are constant revelations that are continuing the work so many activists, educators, entrepreneurs, and industry legends have been doing on the de-stigmatization front longer than some people have been aware CBD was a thing. For instance, the New York Times published a longread in May on the changing stereotypes of lazy stoners, reporting the first large study of legal marijuana and exercise habits found cannabis users are generally the more motivated lot when it comes to working out. Add the revelation that cannabis-linked traffic fatalities are no different in legalized states (an oft-cited anti-weed talking point in town hall meetings), and it’s easy to see a sea change continuing in the macro perception of our favorite plant. That isn’t to say the local cannabis industry is all puppies and ice cream right now. There is still loads of work to be done, both in terms of getting the Mass grass scene thriving—remember, California and Nevada legalized cannabis on the same day we did, and they have thriving industries with cultivation, retail, and social consumption either in robust effect or on its way. Meanwhile, an Oxford Treatment Center study found that across the legalized landscape, Oregon has the cheapest green in the country (which isn’t entirely surprising). Meanwhile, our beloved Bay State has the most expensive flower in the republic, clocking in at almost $350 per quality ounce. In other words, c’mon Mass. From our lagging social consumption laws (see: legal dinners, dosed), the limping nature of the dispensary and product access rollout for the recreational market (to say nothing of what the medical market has dealt with since 2012), with so much headway made and heavy lifting against the reefer madness masses already done, the Commonwealth, especially with so many eyes on us from our pilot equity and incubator programs, deserves a smoother and better functioning industry. We’ll get there, sure. The question is when.

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Dry, listless, ineffectual flower sitting in a poorly sealed container. We’ve all been there. There have been untold quick fix remedies over the years, and these days it’s as simple as throwing a Boveda humidity control pack into an old mason jar with long-since diminished terpene profiles to bring a bud back to life. However, if you just keep the oxygen out of your blossom bounty’s storage container, you could avoid classic shelf-life issues down the road. Enter Canlock, a pretty simple, no-hassle way to do just that. Think: machine=washable glass containers that can hold up to a quarter of flower and a durable plastic washable top that has a pump button on the top. Press it down til there’s no O² left in the lurch (which means the flavors and terpenes and overall entourage effect will be preserved better), and your goodies will stay good while you’re out on the road to wherever you go when you do whatever you do with that sweet sticky voodoo. –DAN McCARTHY Visit SHOPCANLOCK.COM for more information and ordering. JUNE 2019 11

Festival Circuit

Local and national art, music, soul, and community coalesce at Franklin Park. When most things turn two years old, they get a party. Which is boring. Unless you’re also two years old.

with the same large-scale appeal as other festivals,” says Morris. “But it’s in the hood, in the areas locals

Thankfully, with the Boston Art and Music Soul Fes-

grew up in. The nostalgia and community impact is

tival (BAMS) celebrating its second year on June 22,

real. You come as you are and define your experience

you’re the one getting a party. And all your friends in

to have a good time with no judgment.”

the urban music and art community are going too.

Artists and musicians from New Jersey, California,

And if you ask BAMS founder Christine Morris, that’s

Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Alabama, and other

the point of the whole thing.

regions will showcase their stuff at the festival, but it’s

“It’s the first time in a long time where we’ve had a festival that really amplifies what Boston artists do, 12 JUNE 2019 Boston

the local acts many come out to support. On deck this year is local visual art from Rep Your

City; local graffiti legend and musician/writer Rob Gibbs, who is curating the work of five local high school students to create live art on a 6-footby-8-foot canvas. Boston-bred music will abound from the likes of Red Shades and Cliff Notez, as well as Lynn-based Chopper the beatboxer doing his thing. If that’s not enough to get you ready for the show, throw in some Brazilian dance troupes, full carnival festival, and the flavors and energy of Boston. And if you still aren’t interested, you are dead inside and should probably talk to someone.


Visit BAMSFEST.ORG for more information. JUNE 2019 13


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There is a surprising amount of people who, in spite of owning their own house or property or having a landlord that’s cool with it or not giving a good hillbilly damn about what the landlord thinks because weed is for the people, spite of all that, some haven’t taken advantage of the part of Question 4 that legalized cannabis in the great state of Massachusetts and ushered in legal home cultivation. And if you have “get some gorgeous strains growing somewhere in or around the house” on your list of springtime thingamabobs to get done (or you’re making a list like that for someone else to do), you could just wing it and hope for the best. Or, you could go big and take a page from the pro scene. If favoring the latter, you’re going to want to check out Valiant-America home grow pods, basically souped-up garden sheds that come equipped with all the HVAC and light/bench choices you need to modify the pod to the needs of your plants, all from the guys who have been building cannabis dispensaries and cultivation projects around the state for over a decade (see: Revolutionary Clinics). The walls are mold-resistant insulated material, and each one has 360-degree motion-censored WiFi-enabled cameras for security. Provided you have a loose idea of quality cannabis cultivation know-how, or are willing to learn and then employ your new formidable knowledge base of growing solid weed for you and your friends (okay, just you) in a setting usually requiring a lot of other know-how you don’t know how to know-how, well, looks like you just found your way to know how. How about that now? Your green thumb has been waiting for this. Admit it. –DM Visit VALIANT-AMERICA.COM for pricing and more information.

14 JUNE 2019 Boston

Flavor Town

Meet your new dosed dinner series, which launched on 4/20. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Mass Grass scene. Not just because an entire industry is being born before our eyes, but also because of all the great new services, events, and social gatherings flanking the fledgling cannabis landscape in the Bay State. It’s also the reason why we’re telling you about the latest dosed dinner series, Flavor and Effect, launched by Herb Smith, a seasoned restaurant veteran and private cannabis grower who spent ample time in his formative years on trips to Amsterdam and Barcelona. The trips, Smith says, opened his eyes to cafe culture infused with casual cannabis and hash exploration, and a natural pairing with his interests fueled the early notions to get his own dinners going. “I have a bunch of friends who are all cooks, front-of-house workers, and management, so I reached out to people I thought would be good for the soft launch on 4/20, which was super successful. Everyone was real happy,” says Smith, who partnered with the excellent Mission Hill Melts as well as some proprietary strains of his own for the food and cannabis pairings. This isn’t Smith’s first rodeo. The culture warrior has had his brushes with non-violent cannabis law infringement in the past, an ideological mandate he says he’s still proud to stand up for, including not becoming too jaded when the cops thwart one of his events, which happened in Southie a few months back. “It’s something I’m wary of, but I don’t mind sticking my neck out for it,” he says, noting for now he’s aiming for private residences and venues where proper attention can be paid to the course pairings and flow of each event. Call it a call to arms for those of you with a roof deck or patio just itching to be used in the early days of New England’s finer months.


Follow @FLAVORANDEFFECT on IG for more info and future dinners. JUNE 2019 15








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{tastebuds } by DA N Mc C A R T H Y

NO HOLIDAY FOR HOLIDAY After nearly 50 years covering New England food and hospitality for Foodservice East Magazine, Susan Holiday has no plans to slow down.

We agree. Are there any chefs inspiring you or doing things you find interesting? SH:

For those doing farm-to-table and green innovations,

When the half-century mark has been hit in one way or

Peter McCarthy (Evoo and Za), Michael Serpa (Select Oys-

another in the local lifestyle media game, it’s worth tipping

ter), Jeremy Kean (Brassica), Carolyn Johnson (Mooon-

the ol’ reporter fedora in whosever direction requires tip-

cusser Fish House), and Sarah Wallace (Magnolia Bakery).

ping. In this case, Susan Holiday, the silver-haired maven behind Foodservice East (FOODSERVICEEAST.COM ) who has been enmeshed in the Greater Boston food and hospitality scene for longer than some readers have been alive.

This is a big anniversary for you at Foodservice East. How long have you been with them? SUSAN HOLIDAY:

It’s been 47 years since I joined what was

What’s a classic old-school Boston or Massachusetts restaurant or dining experience that is long gone but you miss and would like to see return, even for a brief time? SH: I still miss The European in the North End.

Go-to cocktail or spot while out on the scene?

then Lodging & Foodservice News, which was founded by

SH: I don’t really go out to drink cocktails, I prefer wine and

some New England hotel men in 1926.

craft beers. When I drink booze, it’s usually at home with

You’ve basically seen the entire industry come to life. SH:

The Northeast is a great area with so many restau-

rants, but when I joined L&FSN, there weren’t all that many here in Boston. Seeing it grow has been exciting.

What’s your favorite food or industry trend spanning the Northeast?

friends. And Brewer’s Fork in Charlestown (my neighborhood) is my favorite place to go for wine/beer and wonderful pizzas, plus more.

When is the last time you were blown away by something you ate or a food festival that hit the right marks? SH: I haven’t really been “blown away” but do love the food

I think the growing numbers of high-quality high-

at Select Oyster, which I think gets better every year. Other

er-end restaurants from Maine through eastern Penn-

restaurateurs I admire are Nina and Rafi Festekjian from

sylvania has been the most interesting trend.

Anoushella. And I like the Boston Local Food Festival a lot.

What’s your least favorite?

Finally, do you have plans to ever slow down and hang up the Foodservice East mantle?



Probably the large number of fast food chains coming

into cities like Boston. 18 JUNE 2019 Boston

SH: No plans to slow down or hang it up! JUNE 2019 19


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{aroundtown } by DA N Mc C A R T H Y

HIGH FIDELITY REDUX Coolidge Corner has a new haven for vinyl crate diggers and vintage audio tech. If you asked Jonathan Sandler, owner of the new Coolidge Corner records and antique stereo haven Village Vinyl & Hi Fi, how opening day went back in April, the answer would be what you’d expect from a lifelong music junkie. “Let me put it this way,” he says over the phone a week or two after the big day. “There was my wedding day, the day of the birth of my two kids, and then our opening day. Controlled chaos, lots of money spent and made, great vibe, and the DJs were incredible. Probably one of the best days of my life.” 22 JUNE 2019 Boston

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Sandler, who just turned 48—on 4/20 no less [edit note: nice]—has a right to be juiced about his DJ-powered opening party. After outgrowing his former space, he says the new space offered a spike in rent but also increased shop space and foot traffic. Such things bode well with Sandler’s plans for instore meet-ups with international acts, listening parties, as well as live local events with area wax gods and other aficionados of deep cuts found in local vinyl emporiums. Sandler is no stranger to the DIY pathos required for modern-day new record shop ownership. On top of his time in the crates, the Central Mass native has been a part of the music scene for years, previously producing a local fanzine titled Look Again. Artwork for which, it’s worth noting, was created by legend of local hardcore and guerilla art Dave Tree and other ghosts from the metal hardcore scene of yore. As for now, he says those looking for gold will find plenty to sift through their fingers. Think: original Blue Note and early heavy metal first pressings; classic hip-hop; ample funk, soul, and folk; and what Sadler claims is one of the best jazz selections in town at the moment. “Vinylheads love us,” he says. “Our crates run pretty deep.” Happy hunting, people. JUNE 2019 23


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{highprofile } by J A M E S O N V I E N S

LOCAL GAL MAKES GOOD How Cape Cod native Ellen Brown navigated turbulent activism waters and dispensary experiences to wind up in the hemp game. By the tender age of 22, Ellen Brown had everything she thought she could have ever wanted as a US Air Force veteran and northern California resident with a burgeoning career in the cannabis industry as a dispensary manager and lead cultivator. Things seemed like they couldn’t get any better. Little did she know that in a few short years, her dream job and career track position at a family-owned and operated dispensary would come crashing down around her. The Cape Cod native, now 30, has experienced somewhat of a there-and-back-again story arc before becoming a recognizable face of the Massachusetts cannabis movement. Two weeks after graduating Barnstable High School, Brown crossed the Cape Cod Canal for the Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, following in her grandfather’s footsteps to serve her country. “There’s definitely a sense of patriotism in my family,” Brown says. Clearly remembering the tragedies of September 11, 2001, Brown decided it was time to leave the Cape and see the world. Enlisting as open general, Brown was assigned the role of nutritionist, gaining real-world experience in hospitals, teaching classes, and providing one-on-one patient counseling. Her training would prove to be the foundation for the rest of her life. Upon returning home, Brown tried cannabis for the first time and found it improved her overall quality of life and how she perceived the world. However, she quickly found herself restless to leave home once again. 26 JUNE 2019 Boston JUNE 2019 27

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Brown was a military nutritionist, gaining experience in hospitals, classrooms, and patient counseling. Her training would serve as the foundation for the rest of her life.

“I had read in High Times magazine that you could move

The loss of her career in California may have been a

to California, become a patient, and cultivate for yourself

blessing in disguise, but it also proved to be a precaution-

at home, and you wouldn’t have to worry about any kind

ary tale for those who think the toothpaste is out of the

of prosecution. I left as a medical marijuana refugee,”

tube when it comes to marijuana legislation. Witnessing

Brown says, laughing.

firsthand the repercussions of bad legislation in a state

Though she picked up a job as a budtender and quickly rose through the ranks from manager to lead cultivator, Brown’s dream world was short-lived. “I was living the dream,” she says. “I had everything I ever wanted.”

that has led the charge for cannabis reform, Brown is wary that regressive lawmaking is possible anywhere. Brown continues her mission of teaching the masses as the founder of Sinsemilla Seminars, a regional education

At the time, prospective dispensaries in California were

provider holding classes on a variety of subjects including

required to enter a non-refundable lottery for a chance to

cultivation techniques, making topicals and tinctures, laws

win one of a limited number of licenses; applicants were

and regulations, and free lessons for veterans looking to

required to submit application fees in excess of $14,000,

learn more about medicating with cannabis.

whether they received a license or not. While California

As the winner of NECANN’s New England Cannabis

dealt with the legal grey area of extorting money from

Business Leader of the Year for 2018, Brown has fash-

business owners in Brown’s paradisiacal home in Red-

ioned herself into a pied piper figure, evangelizing the

ding, all 26 dispensaries were forced to close, leaving

benefits of cannabis through lectures and training.

hundreds of people without jobs and even more patients

“I think there’s a want for education, and because can-

without safe and readily available medication. To this day,

nabis is becoming more socially acceptable, even your

there are no dispensaries in Shasta County.

grandmother wants to know more about it, if she can use

“It lead me to become an activist when I moved back home,” Brown says. “I had a real fire beneath me to get

it in lieu of her medications,” Brown says. “I want my students to go and teach the world.”

information out there, to destigmatize cannabis and teach

If it seems like Brown is burning both ends of the candle,

as many people as I could so this would never happen to

it’s because she is. In addition to attending Suffolk Univer-

anyone else.”

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in sustainability, with the hopes of using hemp as an alternative to plastics and biofuel, Brown has taken her message international. She is consulting in Canada for CannaCollective, a 100-acre hemp farm in Ontario with a focus on CBD. For perspective, 100 acres translates to about 75 football fields, 40 hectares, or the approximate size of Winnie the Pooh’s estate. Sensimilla Seminars continues to spread the green gospel of cannabis, despite Brown’s jet-setting schedule these days. “I like to joke that wherever there is cannabis, I’ll be there.”

“I had a real fire beneath me to get information out there, to destigmatize cannabis and teach as many people as I could so this would never happen to anyone else.”

Healing Tree Edibles strives to use organic ingredients whenever possible. We make both THC and CBD edibles and all ingredients are non-GMO, with gluten-free and sugar-free items also available. Edibles with CBD available for your furry friends too!

—Ellen Brown JUNE 2019 31


Greener Green As the cannabis industry matures, it needs to live up to its sustainability potential. by L E L A N D R U C K E R

32 JUNE 2019 Boston


part of a healthy, woke, environmental lifestyle. SEEN AS

Almost two thirds of states have medical cannabis programs of some kind, and more than eight in 10 Americans are in favor of legalizing it for therapeutic purposes. Cannabis compounds like cannabidiol (CBD) are marketed for their health benefits just as THC is for its relaxing and elevating qualities. People who buy and consume cannabis are more interested than ever in healthier, environmentally sound options, and they’re willing to pay for them. A recent Brightfield Group study found that consumers in all age groups are concerned about consistency and safety when it comes to how pot is grown and processed and whether it’s been tested for quality and impurities, and they’re ready to pay a premium for quality. But let’s face it. Much cannabis, whether by design or through regulation, is grown indoors, often in retrofitted industrial warehouses, with all the attendant concerns about pests, insects, and mold. It takes a lot of electricity—many grow operations run 24 hours a day—and energy is expensive and a drain on the electrical grid. Even when it was illegal, cannabis growing operations used up one percent of national electricity use. Today the more than 300 grow facilities in Denver alone account for four percent of the city’s total electricity demand. As for people’s concern about whether or not the cannabis products they’re consuming are organic, it’s nearly impossible to know. Because cannabis is illegal on a federal level, the government hasn’t created nor will it certify any cannabis as organic, as it does with other agricultural products. That leaves it to states and individual testing companies to come up with and maintain quality standards. Cannabis packaging, much of it originally designed with child resistance as the primary concern, is often excessive and inefficient. Then there’s the water and waste involved in producing cannabis products (a lot of both), all which need to be considered as we become more aware of environmental impacts on health and well-being. Consumers and company owners alike are coming to grips with the issue. “2019 is the year that people are paying attention,” says Derek Smith of the Resource Innovation Institute, a Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit that promotes communication and sustainability amongst all parties in the cannabis industry. “We have the opportunity to be the biggest and best industry, one that stands for more than just selling stuff.” JUNE 2019 33

34 JUNE 2019 Boston

What Can You Do? Most cannabis users who are looking for environmentally conscious and safe products have no idea where their cannabis comes from. The variety of products is staggering, and more are added every day. Given the complexities of cannabis production, what can you do to make sure you’re getting environmentally healthy products you can trust? Everybody I spoke with agreed that education is key. If you’re concerned about what you’re buying, find out more about how the cannabis is grown and which practices they’re using. Which means, ask your budtender or dispensary owner questions. Lots of questions. “I think consumers need to go in and talk to people and ask them about their practices,” says Emily Backus, sustainability advisor for the city and county of Denver. “If you’re shopping with vertically integrated companies, that’s easy. But it’s harder otherwise.” Josh Bareket, founder of BUSHL, a California organization dedicated to clean, sustainable cannabis products, says it comes down to knowing your source. “That doesn’t mean knowing the brand or logo, but actually who is behind the products. Who is the owner? Who is the grower? What’s the story? What do they use to produce it?” Adds Franciosi, “You just gotta ask the budtender. What soil was used? What was the medium it was grown in? Were there chemicals used that will wind up downstream?” When it comes to packaging, consumers have choices and should make their complaints known every time they go into the store. “Telling them you want better packaging is a big deal,” says Backus. “This is one of the areas where we’ve had a few bright spots. A number of companies have started making compliant packaging cannabis using recycled materials.” Not everyone has this option, but the best way to make sure you know what you’re getting is to grow your own. That way you’re in control throughout the process. Otherwise, educate yourself. Below are a few websites to help you get started: Resource Renovation Institute // RESOURCEINNOVATION.ORG City and County of Denver Cannabis Sustainability //

Sustainability was far down on the consideration list when states began to legalize. Business owners had to start their operations from scratch, while state regulators had to devise common-sense rules for something that had been illegal for decades. There were no best practices to start from. “I think there’s lots of room for improvement. But it’s also time for the industry to embrace it,” says Emily Backus, sustainability advisor for the city and county of Denver. “They don’t have this long legacy of bad operators to overcome. They’re consolidating, and there are big-money players, which creates an easier financial path for making investments. I think at this point we see that the only way to go is up.” Backus works with all sectors of the industry to promote communication and cooperation between business owners, governments, and other affected parties such as electric companies to develop strategies for lowering costs and building sustainable business models. Lowering electricity costs could be beneficial to everyone, Backus says, but there are many nuances. “It’s tricky to talk about sustainability in this industry because there are so many techniques and styles,” she says. “Hydroponic grows won’t have the same requirements as outdoor grows.” Lighting is the major factor to consider, even for home growers. Creating an environment that mimics sunlight and the outdoors is daunting, and we’re just beginning to develop practices to do that. Outdoor cultivation has a lower electricity footprint, and regenerative soil practices can improve carbon footprint because you’re restoring carbon into the soil. “But the reality is that no matter what type of cultivation a farm is employing,” says Smith, “we can all do better.” To that end, more companies are employing LED (light-emitting diode) lighting for their operations,


Smith says, but the cost has been prohibitive for many

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smaller growers. Today, more options and financial in-


centives are available to help lower the upfront costs. “LED is one of the clear options for improved lowering operating costs,” says Smith. “There are studies that are beginning to show there may be quality benefits.” RII offers a primer on LED pros and cons on its website as part of its free resources for growers. “If you’re thinking about making the switch, it’s what you need to know before you make that jump,” Smith says. As part of its commitment to lowering the industry’s footprint, RII has gathered a huge amount of data for farms and grow operations to use. The Cannabis Power Source Tool allows owners to benchmark their companies against others to make decisions about how to cut JUNE 2019 35

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energy usage. “More than 200 farms have given us data

with arthritis or aging hands. I can still remember pur-

that we hold confidentially,” Smith explains. “We provide

chasing two small Tootsie Roll-sized candies wrapped

that benchmark so they can know their strengths and

in foil, then sealed in plastic bags, then sealed a second

weaknesses and get resources to become more efficient.”

time in a tall, plastic, box-like container that could hold

The possibilities seem endless, and more solutions are

fifty of the two items I bought.

coming online all the time. A micro-grid company called

More options are now available. Sana Packaging,

Scale has a system that brings together solar, battery

which specializes in 100 percent hemp-based plastic,

storage, and natural gas generators, potentially cutting

has added reclaimed ocean plastic to its line of stor-

energy costs by up to 35 percent. Another one, GrowX

age containers pre-roll tubes, and vaporizer pens. Soul-

Aeroponics, is designing systems to improve yield while

shine Cannabis, a Renton, Washington, processor, uses

reducing water consumption.

100 percent compostable and biodegradable products.

Another problem is HVAC, or air-conditioning systems, which are critical parts of any operation. Smith

N2 Packaging, based in Twin Falls, Idaho, has created a stainless steel can for cannabis products.

saysgrowers need to be aware in the design stage of

Water resources, especially in California and Colorado,

what they will need. “The most important way to lighten

are scarce, and states have different rules for recycling

“Cannabis produces a lot of recyclables. We’re making sure companies know how to compost and be compliant.” —Emily Backus, Sustainability Advisor for the City and County of Denver

your electricity load is to size it properly as you’re de-

and composting waste. “We don’t have any ordinances

signing and setting up the facility. Once it’s up and run-

that require businesses to recycle or compost,” says Back-

ning, it’s hard to swap out an HVAC system.”

us. “It’s up to the business owner. Cannabis produces a lot

Backus says that everyone is trying to get away from

of recyclables. We’re making sure companies know how

designing facilities on the fly. “Today there are profes-

to compost and be compliant. It’s an area of opportunity.”

sors and engineers who are finding out how to take tech-

Once cannabis is legalized on a federal level, many of

nology from one thing and tweak it for cannabis.” States have struggled to come up with packaging that eliminates smell, keeps products fresh, and is child-

these inconsistencies will vanish, clearing the way to let farmers and processors do what they need to do instead of what they are told to do.

proof. Plastic is everywhere, because it’s as useful as it is

Until then, says Smith, “We have the chance for an

destructive to the planet—and is often a requirement to

open playbook for good policy, and there’s a need to

child-proof a product.

share and learn and grow and create an increasingly

Packaging is improving. Early on in Colorado, the joke was that child-proof also meant adult-proof for those

good reputation for the industry. But people will have to work together to make it a reality.” JUNE 2019 37

If it seems like everyone is listening to podcasts (or thinking about starting one), it’s because they are. After languishing for two decades, the medium is having its moment. by R O BY N G R I G G S L AW R E N C E




outlawed until a few years ago, when a close acquaintance

parents watch as religiously as they attend church, the

moved to Colorado so she could legally treat her son’s sei-

podcasts expose Kennerly to ideas and viewpoints worlds

zures with CBD oil (after a local doctor threatened to turn

away from what she can find on the TV dial in East Texas.

her in to child-protective services if he discovered she had

Programmed by D.A.R.E., Kennerly—along with pretty

tried CBD). As Kennerly’s mind was further opened by the

much everyone else in her conservative Christian com-

liberty-based podcasts she listens to, she began to see the

munity—believed cannabis was evil and deserved to be

injustice of prohibiting a plant that could benefit so many.

38 JUNE 2019 Boston JUNE 2019 39

SO, YOU WANNA START A PODCAST… There’s no shortage of courses out there to help you get started and be successful. Before you bother with any of them, make sure you can answer the question, “This is the only podcast that…” A little advice from the experts: • Keep it short, valuable, and consistent. • Include interactive content such as games or lessons. • Tell stories. • Stick to a theme rather than letting conversation wander. • Create at least five episodes before uploading the first one. Post at least three for your debut.

thing about the podcast world is that I can just kind of get out there and say whatever I want,” she says. “I could never get on the radio in Lufkin, Texas, and talk about cannabis and how we should decriminalize it. I don’t know any other forum I could get on in East Texas and talk about the subjects I talk about and not get run out on a rail.”

THE POWER OF THE PODCAST A mishmash of iPod and broadcasting, the term describes digital audio files that can be downloaded and listened to on a computer or digital device. Podcasting has been around since 2001, when the iPod was introduced. It began as a way for individuals to get out their message and build community within their niche, and it has evolved to encompass high-production, wide-reaching shows by TV and radio networks, podcast networks such as Gimlet Media (now owned by Spotify), comedians, churches, even the FBI—all bringing in more than $700 million in advertising revenue annually.

Last year, she quit her day job to start an accounting and compliance firm for cannabis businesses and set out to learn as much as she could as quickly as she could about a substance she had vilified but never actually encountered. “When I was growing up, they told me all these people would be offering me drugs, and they were just way off,” she jokes. “All those years they told us to just say no, and I never got to.” Kennerly wanted to learn more about cannabis, and she couldn’t rely on her inner circle for anything other than propaganda. “What better way to do that than with a podcast, where I can actually speak with people affected by cannabis and then share their stories with other people?” she says. She launched “Cannabis Heals Me,” a podcast that tells the stories of patients who have healed everything from lupus to Hashimoto’s disease with cannabis, last October. The podcast focuses on stories because “you don’t change people’s minds by citing them a bunch of statistics,” she says. About 100 people—most of them in Texas but a few from as far away as South Korea—download the podcast every Monday. Recently, Kennerly added a Thursday podcast featuring experts who give the stories context. Kennerly says her podcast’s message is counter-intuitive to her Christian family and friends (though she does have to question, “what part of the Bible does Jesus talk about putting people in a cage over a plant?”). She knows they don’t agree with her stance, but she hopes they’re tuning in. “The nice

The technology is destined to emerge as a player in the 2020 election, as media-savvy candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang take to the podcast circuit. “Podcasts are really hot right now, and I think underappreciated,” Lis Smith, Buttigieg’s communications adviser, told CNN. The first podcast that garnered any mainstream attention, former MTV VJ Adam Curry’s “Daily Source Code,” debuted in 2004 (the year Apple began supporting podcast technology with iTunes 4.9) and attracted more than half a million subscribers. But podcasting was a fringe media populated mainly by niche-minded extremists until National Public Radio broke the two-guys-talking mold dominating the medium (think: “Joe Rogan Experience” without Joe’s charisma) with “Serial,” a true-crime series about a murder investigation, in 2014. The show ran for three seasons and has been downloaded anywhere from 175 million to 420 million times, depending on which source you believe. Whatever the number, “Serial” had a lot of people addicted, and the buzz opened a lot of eyes to the possibilities of podcasts. NPR now keeps more than 40 of them active, reaching over 16 million people. “I believe 2019 is a time for hockey stick growth and diversification of the audience and the offering,” Courtney William Holt, head of global studios for Spotify, which began offering podcasts last year and now captures more than a quarter of all listeners, told Medium. The 2020 election will be no small contributor to that growth, added Dane Cardiel of podcast host and distribution company Simplecast, as more candidates launch podcasts “to earn trust and win over voters in crowded primary races.” Podcast listeners— generally educated and leaning liberal—are just the kind of voters Democratic contenders are looking to reach.

40 JUNE 2019 Boston JUNE 2019 41

There are now more than 700,000 podcast shows in more than 100 languages out there, according to Podcast Insights. (Comedy is the most popular genre, followed by education and news.) Fifty-one percent of Americans have listened to a podcast, and one in three listen to at least one every month. (Edison Research found that 40 percent of people between ages 12 and 24 identified as monthly podcast listeners, and baby boomers have been slower to adapt to the new medium. In 2019, 17 percent of people 55 and older listened to a podcast every month.) This year for the first time, on-demand audio streaming accounts for the majority of total audio consumption, according to Adweek. “I think we hit a tipping point,” Tom Webster, senior vice president for Edison Research, told the New York Times. Consumers looking for curated, searchable podcast content have no shortage of options. Earlier this year, Luminary launched a podcast subscription service it calls “Netflix for podcasts,” featuring exclusive shows from A-listers like Lena Dunham and Trevor Noah. Luminary caught everybody’s attention when it took in $100 million in funding, but it doesn’t have an easy road ahead in a market already dominated by Spotify and the leading podcatcher, Apple Podcasts, which is included on all iOS devices. Industry titans including Google, Pandora, and iHeartRadio have entered the market, alongside scrappy new companies like Wondery, a podcast publisher known for emotionally immersive podcasts, and Stitcher, which bills itself as the easiest way to listen to podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, or smart speaker. Stitcher CEO Erik Diehn predicts better curation and discovery, a more reliable listener experience, and better support will bring exponentially more listeners this year. Chances are, we’ll see a lot more podcasters like Kennerly as well. Why not, when you can get started with absolutely no experience and a shoestring budget? Initially, Kennerly used a free app from Anchor.FM (now owned by Stitcher) to record her podcast and a free program from Audacity to edit it. A couple months later, she bought herself an Audio Tecnica mic for Christmas and upgraded to Hindenburg editing software, both of which have improved her podcast’s quality—but she’s quick to point out it can be done without them. “I spend far more time working on the podcast than I should,” Kennerly admits, but there’s no question it’s a labor of love that she believes is well worth it. Podcasting is the foundation of her quest “to do my tiny part to convert people once like me into people who believe the federal government has no right to tell us what we can and can’t put into our bodies.” Her advice to anyone considering a similar quest (no matter what the topic)? “Stop talking about it and go do it.” ROBYN GRIGGS LAWRENCE, author of The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook and Pot in Pans: A History of Eating Cannabis, secretly wants to be the Joe Rogan of cannabis. 42 JUNE 2019 Boston

12 GREAT PODCASTS FOR SUMMER LISTENING Adam Dunn Show // A cannabis legend and friends dish about 25 years in the industry. Against the Rules with Michael Lewis // Journalist and bestselling author looks at what’s happened to fairness “in a world where everyone loves to hate the referee.” Brave New Weed // Conversations with the healers, politicians, scientists, and “troublemakers of all sorts” who have contributed to cannabis liberation. Broken Record with Malcolm Gladwell, Rick Rubin, and Bruce Headlam // Longform conversation about music “for a world without liner notes.” Getting Doug with High // Doug Benson of “Super High Me” fame partakes and talks with guests. Great Moments in Weed History // Abdullah Saeed and David Bienenstock delve into humanity’s long relationship with cannabis. I’m Too Effing High // Stoned comedians take on challenges and play games. Jalen & Jacoby // Jalen Rose and David Jacoby break down sports and pop culture. The Jimmy Dore Show // “The Marijuana-Logues” writer discusses his raw takes on the news with top comedians and comedy writers. The Joe Rogan Experience // The granddaddy of them all, JRE has been around for nearly a decade, and Rogan has been called “the Walter Cronkite of our era.” Ron Burgundy Podcast // Will Ferrell reprises everyone’s favorite role, conducting interviews that “have a tendency to go off the rails, and we find out things about people we never knew we wanted to know.” WTF with Marc Maron // The comedian’s conversations with icons such as Robin Williams, Keith Richards, and President Barack Obama have garnered more than 250 million downloads. JUNE 2019 43

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The First In-Home Precision Decarb Device for Making Edibles GETTING ACTIVATED THC FROM FLOWER CAN NOW BE DONE IN ANY KITCHEN WITH A SIMPLE BUT ELEGANT DEVICE. It was about 18 years ago when Shanel Lindsay, founder and president of Boston-based Ardent Cannabis, found out she had an ovarian cyst after giving birth to her son.

which is then available to the consumer to use in any way they wish. There is also a separate infusion kit available for consumers to make their own edibles.

That’s when she began making cannabis edibles to

Lindsay considers it an honor to use the science

use for treating her pain. “I chose not to use pain pills to

about decarboxylating she discovered over her years of

treat myself because this was going to be a long-term

experimenting with cannabis and various appliances to

chronic condition,” she says.

help average people make their own medicine.

In the early 2000s, at the end of college and while

But she knew that she wanted to make a device that

preparing for law school, she started to focus more on

wasn’t just an oven, because those heating elements

making cannabis products like oils. “But the problem

are uneven. She found people who made flat silicone

was, it was a very difficult process for making any of

heaters and partners to make other individual parts

these products,” she says. “And they were uneven in

of the Nova. “It really was a matter of pulling together

terms of what was in them, so that I wouldn’t know

those pieces and bringing the idea to life,” she says.

how it was going to affect me and make me feel.”

The device is beginning to find its audience. Ardent’s

About a decade later, in 2012, medical marijuana be-

e-commerce site has racked up about $3 million in

came legal in Massachusetts (the first medical dispen-

sales this year. The company includes a commercial

sary didn’t open for another six years).

kitchen for testing, a factory partner to do the manufac-

Lindsay took her recipes to MCR Labs in Framingham,

turing, plus a development and sales team.

one of two cannabis-testing labs licensed by the state,

Ardent recently partnered with distributor Greenlane

and was surprised to see how much she was wasting

to get the product into vape shops and head shops as

in her cannabis process. “I found out that the concept

well. “A lot of folks want to know what to do with oil

itself is simple, which was removing certain acids to

once it comes out of the decarb, and they need help

expose the bioavailability of these important cannabi-

with that last step, to make their own formulations

noids. But actually executing that concept and remov-

for sleep and relaxation,” she says. “These will be end

ing acids without destroying the underlying cannabi-

products to allow people to make a complete wellness

noids was a problem.”

product for themselves. That is what really excites me.”

Working with the lab, she was able to commission

There will also be a commercial side of the business

testing to hone in on the time and temperature pro-

for the decarb unit to serve cannabis producers and

file she needed for her products. Once she knew that,

manufacturers. “Being able to address that need in the

she set out to create a device to simulate those same

marketplace is part of the next phase of the company,”

lab parameters, which resulted in her launching her

Lindsay says.

first product, the Nova decarboxylator. The 7.5-inch by 4-inch thermos-like device employs a simple threestep process to activate THC in up to an ounce of flower,

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Cannistraro says the early medical dispensaries in

aka Canman, owner


Massachusetts offered a somewhat sterile, simple en-


vironment. They were selling cannabis medicine, and





man Creations studio, paints




that’s the environment people expected. With recreational cannabis retail stores opening up in


Massachusetts, he senses an opportunity to change the


look and feel of the dispensary experience through art.

visionary art that can

Cannistraro takes some artistic inspiration from Alex

draw the viewer into

Grey, who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine

his amazing world of

Arts in Boston and has collaborated with the band Tool.

trippy wonder. “Surre-

Grey creates a combination of visionary and spiritual

alism and visionary art

works, generally using the sort of bright, vivid colors that

contain a unique twist

many notice in Cannistraro’s work.

on imagination,” Canman says. “A lot of my art dabbles

What Cannistraro creates for cannabusinesses and

in that direction, and my imagination is greatly en-

dispensaries comes down to talking to owners about

hanced under the influence of cannabis.”

the aesthetic they are looking for. “That collaboration

Now he sees a new market for his work.

between us helps me understand the feel and vibe

Cannistraro’s goal is to provide services to the new

they are looking for, and I can show them various styles

retail cannabis industry in Massachusetts, offering pack-

of art,” he says.

aging and commissioned art, live painting events, and

His background as a tattoo artist comes into play be-

indoor and outdoor murals. He also plans to do paint-

cause people looking for tattoos have many ideas and

ing workshops for the cannabis community. “Business-

styles of art they want to use. “It gives me a lot of knowl-

es could offer puff-and-paint nights, where people go

edge and flexibility to talk to a dispensary or cannabis

to a dispensary or social consumption space and the

business owner about the endless possibilities,” he says.

artist will come in and teach them to paint while ev-

“They might want an Eastern feel, with some Buddha

eryone is smoking cannabis,” Cannistraro says. “It’s the

statues, plants, and maybe mandala art that taps into

drink-and-draw model that is used for wine gatherings

some spiritual feel, for example.”

now. That would create an added attraction to bring consumers to that business.”

He says some of the “stoner” art he sees can be cliché in terms of the type of imagery being used. “You can

The art community and cannabis culture “have a sort

actually do art that has deeper meaning, is more com-

of crossover sensibility,” he says, that can create oppor-

plex and conceptually stimulating. That can bring more

tunities for cannabis businesses and dispensaries to

prestige to the space and elevate the conversation

incorporate the arts and add a local art scene or gal-

about cannabis when customers are looking at the art.”

lery aspect to their business. “A mural or commissioned art in their space gives the dispensary a more inviting and engaging vibe that makes people feel more welcomed,” he says.

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