ten seconds of serenity

Sometimes you gotta sit back and unplug, even if it is for ten seconds. ​

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MariRonin

11/21/16

Keanu Reeves brought the story of the 47 Ronin to the United States in 2013. The story is legendary here. In short, 47 Ronin is a story of patience and honor. Their master, Lord Asano, struck another man in the Palace of the Shogun. The punishment for this was to commit hara-kiri, the brutal suicide where a disgraced samurai must disembowel himself in order to atone. This left his 47 samurai to walk the world as Ronin, samurai to a disgraced master. Instead of lashing out at the man responsible for the death of Asano right away, the 47 dispersed and waited 20 years to avenge Asano’s death. When the Ronin emerged and were ready to restore Asano’s honor, the Edo period, however, was ending and a new era was beginning. The new laws frowned down on these ancient laws.  The 46 (one was killed in the revenge mission) Ronin turned themselves in and stood trial under different rules. In the end, they also committed hara-kiri.

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Ever since Colorado decided that the Mexicans were taking work from their white boys, our government has led a war on cannabis. Time went on and laws became more entrenched, both in our psyches and in the law books . Sure, there were pockets of people who tried to change these laws, but they were quickly shoved back underground and marginalized. That is, until California passed Proposition 215 twenty years ago this November. It was a direct challenge to the declaration of the Controlled Substances Act that cannabis had no medical value. Soon after, The State of California opened the doors for their Universities to research cannabis. There was finally a way to research cannabis without fitting into the impossible parameters of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). The community laid low, built a case for themselves, and similar medical marijuana laws steadily grew across the country.

Since 1996, a state has placed a cannabis question in every election since that landmark ballot. There were 24 ballot questions for medical use, recreational use, and/or hemp fiber in these last 20 years. The states voted 2:1 in favor of access to cannabis in those elections. They are red and blue states. They are big city states and big country states. The medical benefits of cannabis arose despite the best efforts of the smoke and mirror campaign that the Federal Government led this last century.

Now CBD has caught fire and really taken off in the last few years. CBD is one of the ingredients in cannabis that has proved to have many health effects. It is the safest of the cannibinoids and a carrot that more conservative states have used to keep their citizens there. They have learned that there is a way to put this plant into their portfolios without allowing the entire herb to be grown. Pharma companies get the profits and the cops continue to bust the melanin-enhanced folk within their states. Everybody (who matters) wins.

8 states (AL, GA, IA, MS, OK, TX, WI, and WV) currently have CBD-only laws. There are 4 states (MD, NE, VA, WV) that have Hemp laws. There are six states (KY, MO, NC, SC, TN, UT) that have hemp and CBD laws. Washington DC and 24 (AK, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, IL, LA, ME, MA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA) states also have active medical marijuana laws. Four more states (CA, ME, MA, NV) voted to authorize adult use this election as well (but they already had medical, so it would be a bit redundant to count them again).

This is a total of 46 states and the District of Columbia that are operating contrary to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This is 46 states that have found some way to take a part of the cannabis plant and provide their citizens with legal access because their Federal Government will not. This is a clear referendum on cannabis policy in the United States. Cannabis has 514 of 538 electoral votes in the United States.

But there has been no guidance from President-Elect Trump. In fact, his first choice for the position is Jeff Sessions, the man who was famously rejected from a federal judgeship position because “his former colleagues testified Sessions used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana””. Again, Congress refused to allow him to rule on a federal bench because of this testimony from a former colleague.

So here we stand. We just finished an election where 25% of the eligible vote gave Trump the presidency. There is also no balance of power because the Republicans are now in charge of the House, Senate, and the White House. A clean sweep. It does not matter that 92% of the country has laws on the books to provide access to cannabis in one form or another. It does not matter that the citizens of 8 more states passed referendums on cannabis access this November. Not at all. We still have to worry about what a Trump presidency will mean for our cause. Twenty years and 46 states later.

More so, in this time of abysmal voter turnout (half of the voting age population did not bother to vote), 71% of Florida voters voted to legalize medical marijuana. Only 49% voted for Trump. Clinton received 48% of Florida’s votes. The other three states, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota also voted for both Trump and cannabis. All of the states that voted to legalize cannabis did not vote for Trump. They clearly have a Commander in Chief whose view are in direct conflict with their own.

State Trump votes Marijuana Votes Clinton votes
Arkansas 60% 53% 33%
Florida 49% 71% 48%
Montana 56% 57.6% 35%
North Dakota 64% 63% 27%

The cannabis community is not a stranger to aggressive talk from the Feds. The era of baby Bush started with massive sweeps of glassblowers and culminated in the arrest of Tommy Chong. These semi-annual (every other year) busts were regular events in medical marijuana states, despite Attorneys General (insert name here) saying they would respect states’ rights. It was not until the Obama administration that reforms came to the cannabis community and the states felt secure in growing their causes.

A new era was upon the cannabis community. The state as an incubator was working! But this incoming Administration is giving indicators that they don’t care one bit about states incubating citizen-led industries. While the States are very much united in cannabis-reform, it is clear that our Federal Government does not agree. No amount of rationality will change that. So, I will continue to walk forward knowing that the Federal Government is not on my side. I am a Ronin. The scarlet letter is my disgrace.

*Cover photo taken from the Anime Classic Samurai Champloo

Bibliography

http://www.samurai-archives.com/ronin.html

http://www.maps.org/research-archive/mmj/mjabrams.html

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-04/why-its-so-hard-scientists-study-pot

http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/index.php/2015-11-20-20-49-13

http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/05/20/louisiana-medical-marijuana-bill-signed/54539/

https://ballotpedia.org/Search?q=michigan%20medical%20marijuana

http://www.270towin.com

http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/2016-CONGRESS-Hemp-Update-web.pdf

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s134

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/agplants/industrial-hemp

https://www.mpp.org/initiatives/

http://www.georgiahempindustries.com/blog/hb-704-industrial-hemp-bill/

http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/default.aspx

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20152016/HB/704

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=508&year=2016

http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=BillInfo&Service=DspHistory&var=SSB&key=1260S&ga=86

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp

https://legiscan.com/WI/bill/AB215/2015

https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/allocation.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/18/10-things-to-know-about-sen-jeff-sessions-donald-trumps-pick-for-attorney-general/

http://www.electproject.org/2016g

The Good, The bad, and the Buggy

flatirons moonlit

Some Advantages of the Small-Batch grow and why industrial warehouses are not the best places to grow “medicine”.

There used to be really good cannabis in Omaha, where I grew up. Thus the name Danktown which I have bestowed on it much to the chagrin of the current residents (I don’t know why- they should be proud of their amazing genetics). You may be skeptical, but I have long maintained that Omaha had some of the best cannabis on the planet in the 90’s.

We got amazing stuff from all over, really. We were blessed to have the Cali and Colorado buds coming through town regularly, and British Colombia was making its inroads through the north. Brick weed from Mexico was also an option. You could get a yugo($60/oz), a Toyota($100/oz), a Lexus ($200/oz), or a Ferrari ($350-600/oz); it depended on how much money you were willing to part with.

A lot of people I knew grew cannabis in their houses in Omaha. That is what made it so good. These gardens were only 10-30 plants that grew in a basement. These massive 1600-plant flowering rooms that we have here in Colorado aren’t even in greenhouses, but old industrial warehouses. Greenhouses that are built for commerce and shipping may not be the best conditions for growing any plant, let alone one that is nickel -and -dimed for up to $7700/lb at the cash registers.

MED revenue Chart 2014-2016

The advantages of a basement grow can best be identified by looking at a Walipini. It is a pit that is dug down about 6’ underground with a roof over it to let in the sun. Many of the advantages of the Walipini are also the advantages of a basement in a 2500 sq ft house. These include insulation and energy storage. The earth walls can soak up the warmth of the daytime sun and when the temperature drops, they will radiate that retained heat back into the cooling down room.

walipini3

Insulation is another key factor that makes a walipini a great option. The walls can insulate the interior from the elements, providing a more stable environment. The insulation can also reduce heat loss at night. On hot days, the insulation can keep the temperature cool as well. This would be especially important in a place like Omaha, where the temperatures can change by 40° F on some days. These elements make basements ideal growing environments. This is a great option for any local gardener who wants to have a garden of any kind in their back yard. It only takes a little patch of earth and a shovel (and maybe a day away from the gym).

This is in stark contrast to the massive gardens growing in Denver’s industrial district. Thin tin walls and a tin roof separate the garden from the elements. These greenhouses are ill equipped to handle the extreme heat in Denver. Businesses have to invest a lot of money into inadequate and expensive industrial air conditioning units to keep the plants from frying. This air conditioning leads to other problems too.

These tin boxes not only contain the heat from hundreds of thousand-watt lights, but they are baking in the hot Denver sun. Temperatures averaged mid-90’s from the beginning of June until the end of September in 2015. That is a lot of work for air conditioning units. They are constantly running at their peak for a huge energy cost. The bigger cost, however, is maintaining these behemoths. They leak all over everything, they constantly break down, and are a pain in the ass to maintain.

 

h7E7FFCBC_zps466de946

This leads to my next point; the system is complicated by all of the increased moving parts that are required to make it work. all of these little joints in a massive industrial warehouse are perfect hiding spots for  spider mites and mold. A single hermaphrodite could spread pollen throughout the building that will last for generations if it is not all cleaned out.

These big greenhouses are producing more and more seeded flowers because of this breach in sterility. Harvest crews can go to two greenhouses in a day and take their contamination with them. Some greenhouses have potential investors bringing their contaminants with them as well. Then there is the grow staff. It is safe to assume that one or two of them might be growing something at home; this is another point of exposure. This is multiplied when the grower networks with other growers in the community.

These warehouses cannot close down to clean house and get their massive machine rolling again, so these businesses deal with it. They would rather spray, dip finished flowers in alcohol, and make shatter (more on that later) than suspend growing, empty the room, and sterilize everything. In the end they will undoubtedly have mold-resistant strains and plants that need poison for food.

The indoor grows are for the more specialized industry, not a major multi-national commercial endeavor. It is ridiculous to fight with the sun, wind, rain, and earth for growing superiority. But it is the law, so this is what we have to work with. These businesses are incredibly lucky that dabs reached the mainstream, because hash was never traditionally popular in the States. We liked our flower. Shatter propelled hash into the American ganja game and Trap turned “dab” into a household word. Even news anchors and Presidential candidates are taking to the “dab” to reach voters. Yes, my Middle Eastern and Israeli friends, hash is back in the good ol’ US-of-A.

It comes at a cost to us flower smokers, however. All of those factors that used to make an herb world-class are impossible in a room that doesn’t ever get sterilized. The stressed effects of the plants can’t reveal themselves when their flowers are cooked in alcohol. This takes the five senses away from the scrutinizing consumer. Sure, there area ways to discern good shatter from bad shatter. The problem is that you cannot tell whether the plant was fried under the lights, prematurely cut, or poorly maintained.

On top of that, many of my friends from the other side of the atlantic prefer hash to mix with their tobacco. It has been a common practice for centuries. Shisha means “glass” in Persian. It is the tobacco mixture that people smoke in hookahs. I hate to break it to ya, ‘Merica, but shatter is not anything new.

Shatter will be the vehicle that big Tobacco uses to increase their tobacco smoking market. This is, after all, the primary vessel that people in Europe and the Middle East use to smoke their hash.

Marlboro-M-cigarette-cannabis-marijuana

The result is that the worst plants get blasted and return to the shelves at prices that are three times higher than their sistren flowers. This current market demands a chemically-altered product. Their natural product is lower quality and seeds are becoming more common. The market does not need to create a better product because they are making a killing off of their current business plan.

Fortunately, this is just a result of a market with neither a ceiling nor  a floor yet. We are still building the scaffolding as well as digging the holes. The time when you can walk into a gas station and get some spliffs is coming sooner than later. Classy cafes may be the next great small-business revolution: the industry only just begun to evolve and find out where cannabis fits in American society moving forward. Like everything, we learn from our mistakes. In the grand scheme of things, this industry is just a baby. She can’t even crawl yet.

 

Smokin O the Green

9.5.15

Green Man Downtown

1355 Santa Fe Dr
Denver, CO 80204

Tahoe O.G.

Ahhh. Don’t you love that Ocean Grown with your Almond Milk Chai Tea? The chunky Tahoe O.G. that I used to get from NorCal was outstanding. That is also my standard for quality Tahoe O.G. Here in Colorado, we are miles from that sea air and yet the name hangs on like that weird sixth toe. It is something that connects the past to the future, like an Irish person whose ancestors were raised, for generations, in the United States.

This is also a return to Green Man for me. I wasn’t impressed the first time, but a co-worker convinced me to try them again. From a marketing standpoint, they are great. Their logo is appealing, as it bears the anthropomorphized smiling image that comes out of leaves and branches. (a man sprouting leaves on his face).

To be fair, I tried someone else’s herbs when I came here because the store I was at just opened and their product was not ready. This time around I got to see what they had to offer.

The aroma reminded me of fresh-cut grass and a bit of pepper. Peppery grass. The buds are a nice, Kelly-green and look like they were rolled in crystals. They are also nice and meaty, like Tahoe O.G. should be.

The smoke was nice and light, with a dainty, sweet aftertaste. The high creeps up on you too. It sits like a cat in a corner ready to pounce on some toes. And when it pounces, it pounces! But not like a cat; it is more like a boa constrictor that lulls its prey to death as it clenches its grasp of its prey. The beast didn’t stick around too long, but that is okay, because a little bit can go a long way.

When a Bag is Really a Bag

7.18.15

Nature’s Kiss

4332 S Broadway
Englewood, Co 80113

Lohan

The atmosphere inside of Nature’s Kiss is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of cannabis culture. It has graffiti art on the walls, lazy boy chairs, and a relaxed atmosphere inside. The staff all seems to have integral parts to play in the management of the place. But then they go straight up ghetto and display their flowers in Tupperware containers and ship the product out in sandwich bags.

They are incredibly cheap too, if you didn’t guess from the baggies and Tupperware setup. They were selling 1/8s for $15. They also had a decent selection of single joints to really nickel and dime the low-income Englewood ‘hood.

It was all pretty low-grade looking herbs. I would have walked out with nothing, but I wanted to support these guys for stepping up and making Nature’s Kiss a reality. So I chose cleverness over quality and got a literal bag (vestigial word that I cannot stop saying) of Lohan.

Another one of those proprietary strains, the Lohan is the offspring of trainwreck and LA Confidential. The buds are a bit small, but there are couple big, juicy buds in the bag. They are purple and forest green in color and coated in crystals. The hairs are adequate as well. When the bud got torn open, a really sweet and fruity aroma came out.

The smoke is harsh and hits the back of the throat like a kick to the neck. The flavor is lacking, and indeed this tasted like schwag. The surprise explosion from roasting the bowl exposed the seeds buried in the fruits. More evidence that the schwag bag is here.

Dirty, dirty schwag. I haven’t seen it in 20 years. People knew better than to pack a bowl of schwag if I was in their house. It definitely wasn’t coming into my house. In fact, schwag is where I learned that I have to respect what I sell. It is trash to me, and therefore I always lose money. I associate schwag with trash, so for me to buy schwag is for me to buy trash.

Yet, here it was, all wrapped up in a baggie and sent out in a brown paper bag. The big difference is that the guy selling the crap is local and not smuggling it here from 1000 miles away. I can appreciate that.

Despite all the stuggles to get there, the Lohan is a nice high. She spreads into the eyes and sits on the frontal lobe. Just like schwag, however, it comes on strong and quickly peters away.

It is cheap herb at cheap prices. The windows are always awash in bright paint advertising deals like a car dealer would advertise “power windows” and “A/C”. Yet, the employees are friendly and really seem to take pride and ownership in the business.

In the end, this place makes me hopeful that the ghettos will have ganja shops with local small business owners alongside liquor stores that may or may not be owned by “Asians”. A few more restaurants may open up and a few more “drug dealers” may seize the opportunity and become tax-paying business men and women.

 

The Green Mile or Bust!

3/15/15

Herbal Alternatives
New Broadsterdam

2568 South Broadway
Denver, CO 80210

Orange Diesel

A+

There are some famous stretches of Capitalistic overindulgence scattered across these United States. Las Vegas has the Strip, Los Angeles has Hollywood Blvd, NYC has Times Square, Chicago has the Magnificent Mile, and now Denver can add South Broadway to the list of streets with great nicknames. So many cannabis shops have popped up on this stretch of road in the last year that it is now dubbed “Broadsterdam” a.k.a. “the Green Mile”.

There are around 14 ganja shops on this part of Broadway alone. There are also some spots on some of the side streets, too. South Broadway is packed with antique furniture stores, coffee shops, a couple of dive bars (if you are into that sort of thing), a dinner theater, and many other things to do. You can even find overpriced Empanadas on this block if you get a hankering. It is a good place to spend a day. It is also up the street from me, and it took a lot for me to change out of my slippers for this trip.

The Herbal Alternatives is in the southern part of the main stretch in a nice, big, two-story building. The staff is quite friendly and accommodating.

The lobby is warm and spacious inside. It felt comfortable. There was adequate seating, with a few antique looking couches and tables arranged throughout. It looks like a great place to just hang out. Even the police chopper sits like a guard dog comfortably resting by the fire.

I chose the Orange Diesel because it attacked my senses with a strong citrusy flavor. The aroma is sweet as well. The buds are nice, tight, and meaty. They have a good density to them, and the trim is nice and close.

It is a nice, smooth hit; easy on the throat. It is, however, missing that citrus taste that I would like to accompany that scent. It is like biting into a plum that tastes like an apricot. It is still good, just not what I expected.

It has a nice, mellow high that sticks around.

 

 

 

Walking Raven

2001 S Broadway St
Denver, Co 80210

Sweet Haze

 

When I only get ½ an 1/8, it is because I want to try it and not walk out. After enough places, I learned to just walk out. At any rate, I gave it a go. In fact, I was excited to check The Walking Raven out. The location, small size of the building, and unique names all attracted me to the place. It is small. Really small. Like a backyard shed small. It was illuminating to see exactly how little room you really need to sell weed. There was basically enough room for a counter in the middle separating the budtender from the customer. That’s it.

 

I was let down when I got inside, though. If the buds weren’t popcorns, then they were complete shake. Yet, amidst the fodder, I did discover a patch of nice, solid flower called Colorado Sweet Haze (?). I was attracted to the orange hairs that contrasted with the light green.

 

The aroma was almost completely gone from the flowers. There was still a whiff to be had though, and it was a nice, dank aroma. It is just too bad that I have to really concentrate to find it. Yet, the faint aroma was an indicator that this was a fine herb. The high really stuck around, and it was one of those that makes the eyes tingle.

Bomdizzle Denverizzle

This blog is all about bud. Now that ganja is legal here in the State of Colorado, shops have proliferated and grown throughout these Rocky Mountains. That means a lot of options for a guy like me. I have been involved in cannabis for 20 years ago now. I turned down my first ounce in high school and my first pound in college. My first contact with G-13 was in 1995, and it wasn’t much later that I smoked my first AK-47 from Boulder. This was when I officially got hooked on the herbs, and set off on the endless journey for the best bag of ganja around.

Surprisingly enough, I was blessed to have an amazing abundance of these herbs in the heartland city that taught me many life lessons as I grew up. I was blessed to be surrounded by growers. If the growers were out, then there were ample roads to Colorado for their mountain-grown flavors. In fact, there was also way too much pretendica, or B.C. buds around. Make no mistake, ganja was everywhere in the 90’s.

The conservative culture of the communities in and around Danktown (Omaha) did not like my defiance of their drunk-driving status quo. Not at all. Mocha skin and dreadlocks was all the evidence that they needed to attempt to ruin me. In fact, they may have succeeded if I had not moved to California. If Nebraska really wants to punish potheads, then they should stiffen the penalties. No one there can take those laws seriously as it is. They are more scared of the mark on their resumes than the civil citation.

But, alas! Although I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, this is not the place for my political rants; it is a place for me to watch this newborn market handle the shift into mainstream, corporate (yikes) America. Businesses are stockpiling locations and shuffling industrial grow-spaces around in order to keep up with the relentless demand. Young and old people are moving here from Central and Eastern Time Zones like honeybees would flock to the sweetest flowers in the field. Some of them have degrees and skills that the industry needs like botanists, systems engineers, and lawyers. Others just want to be a part of the cannabis industry. And others are cannabis refugees like me.

This blog is my little assessment of how things are moving and changing here. I have developed questions for the budtenders to give me more accurate answers to the herbs they are selling. Back in the day, if you wanted my business, you gave me a sample. Today (for the most part), I have to buy these samples. I don’t mind getting crap if it is free; I can always give it away. It is completely different story when I have to pay for it, however. This is my record book.

 

Daniel Knowtorious