Bombtasty Blackhawk Buds!

Rocky Mountain Organics
5312 CO-119, Black Hawk, CO 80422

Mammoth

Grade: B+

Gilpin County is one of my favorite places to go in Colorado. Its history dates back to the earliest days of Denver and the land reflects its boom-and-bust past in its steep cliffs, ghost towns, and mountain canyons scarred from the pick axe. They found gold in these Ute hills in 1859, and settlers flocked here hopeful for a taste of that sweet, sweet gold dust.[i] Before the Georgia prospector John H. Gregory got his taste, this was just some inhospitable land that was in the Northwestern Kansas Territory. This town quickly grew to nearly 2000 people as news spread.[ii] It was only a taste, however. The gold dried up as fast as it was discovered, and so did the population.

If you have ever seen the TV show Deadwood, then you can certainly get the vibe that Blackhawk gives off. It is where brutality carved out the wilderness before law and order rode in on his white steed and “civilized” the land. Not long after Mr. Gregory struck gold, Gilpin County was established in 1861. By the time the ‘80’s got here, Blackhawk was reduced to a row of trailer homes along a dirt road. Today, 64 historic homes have been renovated and sit on 90% of the available residential land.[iii] And one dispensary occupies a stretch of road just outside of town, Rocky Mountain Organics.

Keeping true to the wild west tone, Rocky Mountain Organics is in a mountain-type strip mall in a little mountain alcove off of an amazing Rocky Mountain road. Rocky Mountain Organics shares a lobby with its liquor store neighbor and had a Rocky Mountain dude running the spot. He had thick, fire chops burning his cheeks and he wore a Crocodile Dundee hat.  I normally stay away from recreational-use only places because they are so expensive. But, after we chatted for a while,  he gave me a really good price, so I went for some Mammoth.

The Mammoth is an indica. The nugz are dense and rich with color. It almost smelled soapy to me. There is a hint of capsaicin in the background. There is not much flavor to it. The smoke is smooth, however, and its effects are sublime. It is also a good start to exploring the oldest “civilized” part of Colorado’s mountains. There is so much to do out here.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_353Gambling has been legal in Black Hawk since 1991.The narrow stretch of land in the steep canyon is dominated by flashy casinos. You can continue west to Central City (they have an amazing 4th of July fireworks show) for more casinos, or you can head south to play a round of disc golf in a ghost town. Head east, toward Denver, and you can find what was once the only resort west of the Mississippi that marketed to black people. It was called Lincoln Hills Country club, and it was in operation from 1925-1965. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.[iv]

The towns out here are unique in so many ways. I crossed paths with a jeep carrying a pirate flag on one of these dirt roads. Just to the north is Nederland an all the nuttiness that comes with that place. Or you could go fishing in one of the many lakes and creeks around here. Then there are the hiking trails and rock climbers that dominate some of these sheer cliff walls… Long story short, these mountains (and indeed this world) are to be explored. What are you waiting for?

[i] http://www.cityofblackhawk.org/files/7014/1343/9588/Walking_Tour_Master_2012.pdf

[ii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=81&v=9DY4s3qBbLg

[iii] http://www.blackhawkcolorado.com/history.php

[iv] https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/13001035.htm

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Simple is always the best

Simply Pure
2000 W. 32nd Ave
Denver, CO 82011

2/25/17

Simply Pure has been on my list for a few years now. I always catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye when I have to get somewhere so I never stop. I take a mental note, move on, and forget about it- until I pass it again as I rush past it on my way somewhere else. The name and logo are both simple and inviting, like grandma’s bakery. I am expecting a cinnamon roll and a pinch on the cheek too.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But I did get some herbs, so there is that silver lining. Louis XIII and Lucky Charms to be exact. These were just the kind of sweets I wanted. These are the kinds of buds that grandma would grow too. They are nice, solid, and dense balls of dankiness. The crystals coat the buds like they were the sugary top of a sugar cookie.

The buds looked good, they smelled good, and they tasted good as well! The aroma of the Louix XIII is complex, to say the least. It is a bit peppery and kind of musty. There is some citrus in there too. The Louis XIII broke apart in chunks and burned smooth. Oddly enough, it tasted a bit like meatloaf. Like some cured venison, It was dry, but it was not harsh.

While talking with the budtender, I was pleased to learn that Simply Pure is a Black-owned business. I am thrilled that the owners, Wanda James and her husband Scott Durrah, have been such strong fighters for the long cannabis war on alternative truth. Not only are they military veterans, but they have been drug warriors for decades. It is such a treat to see a black woman at the helm of this business. It was in February, so I got a discount for Black History Month! Fantastic!

Now I see what I like about Simply Pure. It is that “soul food” flavor that is embedded in the tastes of the owners. There is also an established history of focusing on quality. Simply Pure was an edible company from 2010-2013. They were the first in Colorado to use actual chefs to design and prepare their menus. As edibles became more mainstream and the prices dropped, Ms. James and Mr . Durrah decided to close up shop instead of reducing the quality of their product in order to stay competitive.

They decided to reopen again as a dispensary in December of 2015, and are rolling along now. I was not aware of the owners’ culinary creativity because I like to go into these places with a blank slate. I glazed over the edibles because they are always the same thing: cheeba chews, Dixie this or that, or Mary’s More of the Sames.

I want the homegrown, small-batch flavor, and so much of the same keeps me from even looking at edibles. I want to see a slice of pie with the chocolate glaze shimmering in the artificial light. I want the lobby full of guests excited with their new purchase as they make plans with their new friend over a cup of coffee. I think Simply Pure does too.

The new microdosing market is a great way to introduce edibles to people who don’t want the heavy sedative levels that edibles can get to. Why make a cookie so potent? then you can’t have another. I love my chocolate chip cookies. you can ruin a dish with too much cinnamon or nutmeg. Why not with too much cannabis oil? It can really dominate the flavor.

Edibles in the future will be more subtle and complex. Gummies have been around for a good long time. There is a great opportunity to make a pack of ten gummies be the same dose as one gummy is today.  The increased competition in micordosing edibles will inevitably create a different market that could include savory dishes as well. Simply Pure will undoubtedly be at the forefront of businesses that can legally (finally!) blend the café with ganja. I look forward to that day that I can get some of that apple pie, an ounce of Louis XIII, and a pinch on the cheek.

The Holistic Health Headband

3/18/17

Holistic Health
105 Edwards Village Blvd
Edwards, CO 81632

707 Headband

Grade A ganja

Edwards, Colorado is one of those mountain towns that looks like a photo of it belongs on a Christmas card. I visited a their recreational-only shop that is here last year, Roots Rx. I went there last year because it is hard to find medical shops in the area. Everyone out here is rec-only. It is great to see that there is a medical shop here in town.

It is apparent that Holistic Health has been around for a long time because it is so hard to find. (2006 or 2009?) Pot shops used to maintain low profiles because they did not want to shake up the status-quo. Like skid row, the canna shops used to really struggle to get a foothold in our cities and towns. The green cross was often the only cairn that showed you the way. This place seems to have been built with that caution in mind. Today, the pot shops are as bold and bright as a 7-eleven. They are as ubiquitous as the gas stations, to say the least.

Holistic Health is a reminder of how much things have changed.We can now ask google (or Siri) to find a place. In this case, maps gets you close, but not quite. Google maps puts Holistic Health in the middle of the street. Of course this isn’t true, and as I looked around, I spotted a green cross glowing on the second-floor hallway of the building to the right. There it is?

The cross is half the battle. Finding the front door is the other half. After parking and finding the entrance to the building, I had to go up some stairs, down a hallway to the end, where a poster guiding me the rest of the way. To the right, under a big vent, and then a door with a note. “back at 1:00” it said. I glanced at their hours, and they opened at 11 AM. OoooooKaaaaaay.

“Not today”, I thought, and went on my way.

So I went back the next day. Everything was golden, the sun was shining, spring was in the air, and I knew where I was going. After a quick rap on the door, I was greeted by a lovely young lady who was thrilled to help me with my purchase.

They had a wide assortment of flavors. They were a basic mixture of a few sativas, a few indicas, one CBD-rich strain, and a few hybrids. They all looked good. Their buds were nice and healthy, thick meaty morsels of cannabinoids and fiber. They are mountain grown too, so they grew up happy and stress-free.

The budtender is a nutritionist. She left a rec shop to come here because she cared more about the health of her customers than making a sale. I mentioned that I was going on a hike, and she had all sorts of ideas. 707 Headband is what I took home.

A good herb is like a good parmesan cheese or a nice glass of port after dinner. It only takes a little bit to accent the day fantastically. I don’t need to get stoned out of my mind. I dont want to get stoned out of my mind. I just want to enjoy a bit of a smoke and enjoy the day. This Headband certainly fits the category. It does not burn; rather it is smooth and light. It is like spring in the mountains, a breath of fresh air.

Indeed, this Headband fits in well with the crisp and thin mountain air and the rising elevation pushes the heart, which in turn pushes the legs, and a walk becomes a jog up the peaks of the earth. This weed is sublime, and a little bit goes a long way.

There are Environmental Costs to the Cannabis we Consume.

4/20 and Earth Day go together like the Three Sisters (corn, squash, and beans…based on A Sioux Creation story) in the garden. 4/20 has gained even more relevance today, at the expense of Earth Day. We got so swept up in the billions that we are making off of legal cannabis that we ignored the cost to the environment that comes from cannabis production and sales.

Production Costs

peppered20moth1

Pic 1: Famous case of the peppered moth in England. The lighter color of these moths helped them blend in to the trees. As the Industrial Revolution set in, the trees grew soot covered from all of the coal factories. The darker color genetic variation (allele) quickly became the dominant allele for the moths. clean air regulations took the coal soot out of the air and off of the trees, giving the lighter-colored moths the genetic advantage. 

Colorado saw a 1 percent energy usage increase just after recreational cannabis was introduced here. Similar increases happened in Oregon and Washington. It takes millions of gigawatts of power in order to provide the flowers for the new cannabis market. Instead of using the sun and natural weather cycles, our growers here in Colorado have to work much harder to get a lower quality product.

Rows of energy-sucking lights line the ceilings of industrial warehouses throughout Denver with energy costs that can be over up to $2000 per W/m2. According to a 2016 report by EQ Research, the energy consumption of these industrial grows are equal to those put out by massive Data Centers. Industrial Fans have to mimic wind and produce air flow inside the four walls that keep the natural wind from getting in. Rain can patter the tin ceilings as the dready gardeners water the plants.

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Fig 1. proportion of energy use in production facilities.(taken from EQ Research Report “A Chronic Problem; Taming Energy Costs and Impacts from Marijuana Cultivation”.)

This kind of a shock to the infrastructure has utilities seriously considering whether they will have adequate energy for the power grid in the future. Communities like Boulder have enacted carbon taxes to offset the additional environmental costs. California has its own story developing.

Steven D’angelo is the embattled owner of the famous Harbourside Collective in Oakland. He predicts that California will cater to half of the national market. This means a gobload (a whole heckuva lot) of energy consumption will hit the California grid soon (who else remembers the San Diego blackout of 2012?). However, the president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Michael Picker, said in an interview earlier this year that the state utilities are “expecting flat or declining growth in California, so if it starts to go the other direction, then we’re going to have to make sure that the electricity is there for both these uses (cannabis production) and everybody else”.

This could be a disaster for the already overburdened grid in California that is closing down its last two nuclear reactors within the next ten years. It hasn’t even been a year since California issued a flex alert asking residents to conserve energy. Utility companies met earlier this year, in March, to address these concerns. Fortunately, California has written laws that support massive cannabis farms.

California has a whole litany of other problems that the new regulations will ease, if not sort out completely. They have struggled with guerilla grows in National Forests and First Nation Sacred Lands for decades. Other rogue gardeners grew plots in places that challenge the survival of endangered species. California already has a desperate water problem. Sometimes, gardeners will steal the water from a source that hasn’t been vetted for them to take water from.

Each state has different environmental rules for production facilities because they are so varied. The Federal Government set the bar pretty low with their moldy herbs in Mississippi. The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division would have shut them down a long time ago.

thumbs-up-obama-good-stuff-what-about-the-retail-side

Retail Consumption

The fat cash that is pouring into these ganja shops creates a tremendous amount of waste. They are pumping out millions of little plastic containers, silicon bottles, and other packages like never before. It is a new form of waste that our communities have to deal with. (That, and fuckers graffitiing our forests!) The packaging issue will only increase as more communities open their doors to cannabis in all of its forms.

There is a mixed message coming from the ganja shops in Denver. Some budtenders say that the city does not recycle the bottles, while others will point to a recycle bin in the corner. Some dispensaries will even offer herbal incentives for bringing them your empty bottles.

recycling_logos

What does the City of Denver recycling program say?

Image

Smoking containers

Most dispensaries carry recyclable bottles for their flower products. The bottles are usually polypropylene (PP), which is a common plastic that can be recycled. PP is the number 5 or 6 on the bottom of the bottle.

Picture1

PP bottle that is recyclable

The industry primarily uses two basic bottle designs. One design is with a removable lid, and the other is with a snapping lid that is attached. The bottles are recyclable for both designs. For the bottles with removable lids, however, the lids have to be removed and thrown in the trash before you can recycle the bottle.

IMG_0001.jpg

PP bottle that is recyclable, but the lid is not.

Picture1

This bottle AND cap are recyclable!

There are a few dispensaries that use plastic sandwich bags. The bags are not recyclable. Cellophane bags are sometimes used for containers. Green Dragon carries these bags. They are not recyclable either.

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Plastic baggie. Definitely not recyclable

 

cellobag

Cellobaggie (used at Green Dragon) also not recyclable.

Edible Containers

Most edibles are packaged in recyclable containers. Cardboard and clamshell containers are recyclable. The aluminum cans can be recycled as well. Some edibles are packaged in cellophane packages which are not recycled.

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Clamshell container is recyclable

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Cardboard like from Loves Bakery is recyclable!

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Cannabeverage cans are recyclable!

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Cellophane (like these Edipure Gummies) are not recyclable!

Concentrate Containers

The shatter containers are not recyclable. At all. There are some PP types out there, but most people like the containers that are made out of polyethylene. They are Styrofoam 2.0. Dabs are ganja 198.6. It is clear that dabs are the future of cannabis. Hilary Clinton has dabbed. Dabs have been on the Today Show, and they are in 2016 pictures with Paul Ryan. Well, maybe they weren’t actually dabbing, but you had better believe that move is an endorsement of the act of dabbing. (Transitive property says that they endorse the herbs.) These little Styrofoam containers will be a bigger and bigger problem as their environmental impact becomes more pronounced.Picture1.png

The second coming of Styrofoam! NOT RECYCLABLE

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The only recyclable dab containers out there

The silicone dab containers are not recyclable. They do have other lives that they can live, however. I reached out to a company that recycles sex toys (yup, that’s a thing) to see if they would take these little containers. No comment as of this writing. Sans second generation dildos, there is another great way to recycle these silicone containers. Art. Get a bunch of those containers, put ‘em through a meat grinder, and glue those vivid colors to the canvas. You could probably pick up enough containers at civic center park after the 4/20 festivities to put a mural on a wall.

Picture1

Not recyclable, but you are stoners, make me proud and get creative!

Happy 4/20 and Happy Earth Day! As we enter the cannabis era, remember that the only way to win in Capitalism is civil disobedience. Your pocketbook will tell the dispensary owner how well they are doing. If you dab, then demand recyclable containers. If you smoke, then there are plenty of places that use recyclable bottles and are glad to take your money! Love to our Mother! I’m out!

dabs

dab haircuthillary-clinton-dab-meme-template-when-youre-on-live-tv-and-youre-suppost-to-act-professional-but-yoScreen Shot 2017-04-18 at 3.52.44 PMreid_122715Panthers-dab

Paul Ryan “knows what a dab is”: (48 seconds, Ed)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KWeQeaB4c8

References:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-plastic-from-plants-good-for-the-environment-or-bad/
silicone recycling sex toys!
http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/recycling/stories/how-to-dispose-of-8-odd-seemingly-difficult-to-recycle-items
art project silicone recycling

polypropolene
https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Lifecycle-of-a-Plastic-Product/
https://www.thebalance.com/an-overview-of-polypropylene-recycling-2877863
http://www.brighthub.com/environment/green-living/articles/107380.aspx
https://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/Recycling-by-the-numbers.html

http://www.cpr.org/news/story/how-much-electricity-does-it-take-grow-marijuana-colo-cities-are-finding-out

[1] http://www.cpr.org/news/story/how-much-electricity-does-it-take-grow-marijuana-colo-cities-are-finding-out

[1] http://www.bouldercounty.org/env/sustainability/pages/mjimpactoffset.aspx

[1] http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2017/03/02/california-power-grid-marijuana.html

[1] http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/california-electricity-shortage-issues/

[1] https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/rat-poison-marijuana-farms-killing-increased-numbers-rare-forest-mammal/

[1] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/california-s-50-000-pot-farms-are-sucking-rivers-dry/

[1] http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/scientists-say-governments-pot-farm-moldy-samples-no-guidelines/

[1] http://www.thecannabist.co/2015/12/07/pot-pesticides-marijuana/44740/

Some Sativa from the Springs Suburbs Cannabissary

Big Medicine Cannabisary

wp76ac833f_06

Wild Girl (S)
Grade: F

Big sky Cannabissary is another place that came recommended. Located in north- central Colorado Springs, it is in an unassuming stand-alone building. Their logo is a buffalo standing the way buffalo often do. They win just for that!

It was quiet inside. The girl behind the bar was real nice, and she is part of a rare group- the sativa lovers. It is such a rare treat to find someone who prefers sativa. Indica seems to be what everyone wants, and I have floated that way recently as well. So it was refreshing to get pushed into buying sativa for once.

The prices were crazy cheap, which is why my friend comes here. Some places are good, and others are cheap. It is rare to find something that is both good and cheap. Will The Big Medicine Cannabissary be that place? there is only one way to find out!

As the budtender led me along, she pointed out Wild Girl, their in-house strain. It smelled musty and dank and looked meaty and red hairy. It tasted peppery and a bit leafy. It has that subtle sativa style too. Speedy. It is stoney, but it is the undercover kind of stoney. There was something off about it. It was one of those headache herbs. This is going in the butter bottle. It is not for me.

The Chinese Roots of Medical Cannabis

This is part two in my series on cannabis history in the United States. It is a deeper dive into the medical benefits of cannabis that the scientific community has discovered.

Shennong was a legendary Emperor of China around 2700 B.C. His name means Divine Farmer or Divine Husbandman. He is also widely known as the “God of Chinese herbal medicine”. There is no written history of him because he lived before people could write. Therefore, they did not keep historical records yet. He is apocryphal and has attained the status of a god. He spent his life sampling the rich plant life that abounded in the territory that now bears his name, the Shennogjia Forestry District (In July of 2016, UNESCO added it to their World Heritage list.). He is credited with creating Chinese herbal medicine.

It would not be for anther 2000 years that his name would be attached to herbal medicine. Several authors decided to write down the “earliest complete pharmacopeia references and lists an astonishing 365 Chinese medicines” (100 of those medicines would include cannabis) in 220 BC. They placed Shennong as the author of Shennong Bencaojing to honor him as the father of Chinese Medicine.

shennong1Soon after this book was published, there was another doctor in the region who understood the benefits of cannabis. Hua Tuo lived around 108 BC. Some say that he invented the first anesthetic when he mixed cannabis with wine, called Mafesan. He was also familiar with acupuncture, which has long been used to treat pain and restore the flow of qi in the body. It is possible that the herb used for moxibustion was cannabis, not mugwort. If this is true, then the medical benefits of cannabis and acupuncture are largely unexplored currently.

People have recognized acupuncture to be a useful treatment for inflammatory pain for a long time. Medicine recognizes that electroacupuncture (EA) “has been regarded as an alternative treatment for inflammatory pain for several decades”. EA has been connected to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in therapy. A 2012 EA study concluded that “Our results suggest that EA reduces inflammatory pain and proinflammitory cytokines in inflamed skin tissues through activation of CB2Rs”

Research on how EA interacts with CB1 receptors has been done for depressed suicide victims, alcoholic withdrawal, and mice with arthritis. A 2004 Molecular Psychiatry article documented “the mood and cognition altering ability of exogenous cannabinoids and alcohol, and the association between depression, suicide and alcohol abuse raise the question whether endogenous cannabinodergic system plays any role in the etiology of depression and suicidal behavior.” The study concluded by saying that “the upregulation of CB1 receptors…strongly suggests a role for the participation of abnormal endocannabinoidergic neurotransmission in the etiology of depression and suicide. The pharmacological manipulation of endocannabinoid system may serve as a new therapeutic target in the treatment of depression.”

The Shanghai First People’s Hospital School of Medicine did a study in 2013 that was based on “Accumulating evidence… that the CB1 and dopamine systems sometimes interact and may operate synergistically in rat striatum…D1/D2 receptors are involved in EA analgesia.” Their conclusion was that “a strong activation of the CB1 receptor after repeated EA resulted in the concomitant phenomenon of the upregulation of D1 and D2 levels of gene expression”.

Cannabis use in Chinese medicine is as old as Chinese medicine itself. Now, as Eastern medicine comes from the west and Western Medicine comes from the east, we are at the convergence of a key herbal remedy that has been known for millennia.

Up next in the series: The Endocannanibinoid System.

Referrences:
http://www.ediblewildfood.com/bios/shennong.aspx
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-07/19/c_135522602.htm
http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/about/index.html
http://www.asianresearch.org/articles/1883.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23762129
https://mdanderson.influuent.utsystem.edu/en/publications/electroacupuncture-reduces-the-expression-of-proinflammatory-cyto
http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v9/n2/full/4001376a.html
http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v9/n2/full/4001376a.html
http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v9/n2/full/4001376a.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23762129
http://www.ediblewildfood.com/bios/shennong.aspx
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-07/19/c_135522602.htm
http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/about/index.html
http://www.asianresearch.org/articles/1883.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23762129
https://mdanderson.influuent.utsystem.edu/en/publications/electroacupuncture-reduces-the-expression-of-proinflammatory-cyto
http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v9/n2/full/4001376a.html
http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v9/n2/full/4001376a.html
http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v9/n2/full/4001376a.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23762129

South Park has a Dispensary!

Wise Cannabis CO
21950 Highway 285
Fairplay, CO 80440

Grade: A

It is Rec only. Is that still a dispensary?

A new dispensary in Alma inspired me to go on another mountaintop jaunt for herbs. Alma is a  short and beautiful drive from Breckinridge. It is just over the Hoosier (?) Pass and the road winds down the backside of the mountain.   As I approached the location, I recognized the logo to be one of the cleverly named strain wise dispensary logos. I was duped. I was this far, however and I wasn’t going back empty handed. There was a spot just south of FairPlay that I noticed recently; today was the day to see how it measured up.

I continued to South Park, hopeful and happy.

img_5394When I pulled up, I was mortified to see it was called Wise. I was instantly paranoid and ready to head back to Breckinridge empty handed. “Strainwise is down here too”, I thought “Damn”. Despite my hesitation, I went in and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

The inside space is quite large. The bud counter is against the back wall, and the main room had a couple of vertical display cases for their glassware. They had a lot of locally made things for sale. The walls all had locally printed t-shirts. They even had a coffee cup/pipe available for sale. The cup was quite hefty. You could prolly add dumbbell to its uses, especially with a full cup of coffee inside.

Wise is so new that they still don’t have their plants in dirt yet. But they are working on it. Fortunately, they do have friends all over these mountains. Their herbs came from local growers. These mountains are great places to grow indoor herbs.

The cooler temperatures and drier air make it easier to for the grower to maintain ideal conditions. I harvested in the Denver warehouses for a year and spent most of my time hanging nug branches in the dry room.  Every place I worked at had serious issues with heat. A room full of 1000 w lights in Denver in August is not a joke. In fact, Denver hit 60’s last month. The city growers can only expect increased hot months as this planet continues its warming trend.

Another thing that the sparse mountains have over Denver is the insect infestations. There is only so much industrial space in Denver. The bugs know that and these areas are now mega-cities for spider mites and russet mites. These grow rooms are also bombarded with cross-contamination. None of the grows in the city practice clean indoor gardening. There are owners showing off their set-ups to US Senators or potential investors.

If Attorney General Sessions (is still in power and) comes to Colorado to see our operations facilities, there is an excellent chance that he is not going to have to decontaminate himself (or his entourage) before entering the grow room. I’m pretty sure he is not growing herbs, and so there is virtually no chance that he will bring some pollen in on his shoulders. There is a good chance, however, that some little flying critters could hop on and come in.

The many employees can also contaminate these areas. Delivery drivers and growers from other locations come and go all the time. I was part of a harvest crew that went to at least 10 different grow houses in a month. I highly doubt that all the harvesters were wearing clean clothes. (I tried repeatedly to at least get a minimal source of protection: booties so that we would not track any plant matter outside after work. I am still not sure if they heard me.)

The mountains don’t have this problem though. They are sparsely populated. The air is cool and dry. The sun won’t bake the building and everything inside it. In fact, the herb that I got, Dank #5, was grown underground and is solar powered.

It was amazing. The buds were healthy and their meat filled out nicely. It smelled peppery as hell. Not much of a flavor. It was smooth and did not burn. The way good herb should be.

Centaur Hunting in the Collegiate Peaks

2/2/17

Buena Vista

centaur-crossingThe area:

The ghost towns are scattered throughout this part of the Rocky Mountain range. The Silver Rush turned the homesteading trickle into a flood. The dreamers and schemers dug out virgin alpine forests and used their woody flesh to construct sheds, mills, mines and main streets. Tent towns popped up all along the newly carved train lines. Many towns didn’t make it, and their rickety boardwalks were consumed by the landscape. Buena vista is one such town to survive the and thrive amidst the stampede west.

Like so many mountain towns, Buena (pronounced like the “beu” in beautiful because double meanings are always fun) Vista was a landing zone. The real action is out in those vistas. They are called The Collegiate Peaks in the Sawatch Range. Mountains Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and Harvard tower to the west of the town. You could see more of Colorado’s famous 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet tall), but these mountains are so massive that they cover up the view.

Of course, there were people here who have also named these mountains. They are the Tabeguache Ute. The Moache and Capote Ute bands also would have been in the area at times.[i] For them, these mountains are embedded in their creation. There are two more 14’ers just to the south of Buena Vista, Mountains Ouray and Chipeta. Ouray was chief of the Umcompahgre Utes and Chipeta was his wife.[ii]

If you have been to Colorado, then you have seen many Uto-Aztecan words. They are everywhere. Pagosa (Water that smells like sulfur)[iii] Springs, Tabeguache (a Ute Tribe), and Sawatch are just a few examples of Ute names still alive in Colorado. In fact, the Spanish word saguach comes from Sawatch and they both mean “blue-green” place.[iv]

buena-vista-range

The Herbs:

Natural Mystic Wellness Center
204 E Main St, Buena Vista, CO 81211
719-395-6226

Cosmic Brain Buds 70% (I), 30%(S)
Grade: B+- should have been an A, but the buds were entirely too small.

There are not any recreational shops here in Buena Vista, but there is a lone medical dispensary. It sits right next to an old-timey mountain tavern and is called Natural Mystic Wellness Center. It is nice and pretty and clean from the outside. Yet, I could not really tell if it was a ganja shop or not. The façade looked like I was walking into a massage center or an acupuncture studio. It could have been a naturopathic Doctors office or an aromatherapy place too. I had to triple-check the green cross on the window before I walked in. (but that is not always going to lead you to the right place either).

It wasn’t much clearer when I got inside. In fact, I was even more confused. It really didn’t help. The aromas of a ganja shop were there. But smell alone was not enough to rule out a massage or acupuncture studio. It was not until I was able to verify with the receptionist that I found the right place.

After all the formalities were finished, we headed to the display room. They had a ton of herbs. 40-50 varieties maybe. There was at least ten of each of the Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid varietals. They kept them in glass jars and weighed each order out, which is a huge bonus in my book.

The Cosmic Brain Buds have one hell of a name and came budtender recommended. The few nugs that are fullly intact are dense as a baby pinecone. Their meat is a strong purple color that made me feel like I was taking a color blind test when I looked into the jar. There are all sorts of colors, but purple really stuck out.

The Cosmic Brain Buds burned clean. The growers really know what they are doing. The budtender said that they cure for up to 8 weeks. This cool, dry mountain air is the perfect environment for a nice long cure to take place. It is far superior to the cures that growers in the industrial district in Denver have to deal with: swamp coolers and humidifiers are often needed to fight the incredible heat that these dry rooms face. These Buena Vista buds are far from those big city worries, and it shows.

The most fantastic thing about this place, however, is the big playground in the sky right outside their doors. The snowcapped mountains can blur the separation of land and clouds. 8 of Colorado’s 14ers are in the area. Buena Vista sits in the valley that the mighty Arkansas river carved out. It is indeed a beautiful view.

There are wilderness areas all around here. A short drive north will take you to Twin Lakes and a segment of the Continental Divide Trail. Or, you can go south and head into the San Isabel forest for some natural hot springs action and a creek-side soak all year long.

If water is your thing, then the Arkansas river is raging and ready for the best you got. This area is brimming with river rafting companies. You could also bring your own raft. Be ready, though, because this river has some serious attitude. Parts of it are the most dangerous level, class V. People die rafting this river every year.

If you don’t want to go that extreme, you could just wade into one of the tamer parts of the river and do some fly fishing. Get some of that River trout and let the shower of praises from your family for your killer instincts. Get wild in these hills.

___________________________________________

[i] Email correspondence with Liz Cook, Environmental Educator of the History Colorado Center.

[ii] http://www.ouraycolorado.com/about-ouray/history

[iii] http://cozine.com/1995-august/translating-ute-place-names/

[iv] http://cozine.com/1995-august/translating-ute-place-names/

A Brief History of Common Cannabis

I want to start the year out with a refresher of cannabis politics. This is a three part series that will illuminate some of the medical research and breakthroughs that have happened over the last few decades.

PART I

“We would rather see our neighbors suffer than succeed ourselves.” Common British phrase

BRIEF HISTORY

Cannabis legalization is a tale of two worlds- inside the United States and outside the United States. Roger Adams successfully filed a patent for isolating cannabinoids with the US patent office in 1947[i]. It was the first time that cannabinoids were isolated. Almost 20 years later, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam isolated the specific chemical compounds in cannabis; the THC and CBD molecules were diagramed for the first time in his lab.[ii] While Mr. Adams’ findings were filed away and left to collect dust, Dr. Mechoulam would go on to have a career in cannabis experiments that now place Hebrew University as the pinnacle of canna medicine and research development.

In order to understand CBD (as well as THC and other cannabinoids) better, a bit of history is necessary. The oldest uses for hemp were as fiber and food. By 2700 B.C., the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung recognized cannabis as medicine. He also brought ginseng and ephedra into the lexicon of Chinese Herbal Medicine.[iii] The cannabis plant is all over Hinduism. A 1200s BC text called the Atharva Veda notes cannabis as one of five sacred plants[iv]. There are ties to Moses and Solomon in the Old Testament, but they all seem to revolve around the work of the 20th century Polish Anthropologist Sula Bennet.  She argued that “calamus” and “reed” are both words for “kaneh” or “kaneh bosm”.[v]

Hemp history in the United States has deep roots in cannabis production. Our founding fathers grew hemp. Thomas Jefferson drafted a version of the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. He was also famously quoted as saying “Hemp is the first necessity and protection of the country”[vi].

Just 5 years after Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937[vii], the US Government realized that they needed hemp to protect the country. As national pride was swelling, the hemp mills sprang up all over the country. They made the parachutes, clothes, tents, and rope for the upcoming war. The offspring of those plants can be seen growing healthy all over Nebraska today. (Colorado hemp growers are looking at the feral fields in Nebraska longingly. They know that NE hemp is the best around. But they cannot grow it because it is not grown in Colorado. Colorado law does not allow for outside genetics to be grown in Colorado.)

Americans quickly forgot about hemp after World War II. Until 1970.  This is when Richard Nixon began his crusade against cannabis.  This was the year that Nixon created the Shafer Commission to study the whole cannabis plant and its effects on American culture.

The Commission submitted their report to the Nixon Administration in 1972. It was not what the President was expecting. The report concluded that “… the range of social concerns in contemporary America, marihuana does not, in our considered judgement, rank very high. We would deemphasize marihuana as a problem”.[viii]

(an exerpt of the shafer commission hearing before Congress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksSolkofnP8[ix])

Of course, Nixon completely disregarded the results of the Report. It stated that the Commission greatly understood how yellow journalism contributed to an “extensive degree of misinformation about marihuana as a drug)” and that they “have tried to demythologize it”.[x] What did President Nixon do with the results of the report that his conservative hand-picked experts gave him?

John Erhlichmann, one of the Watergate Co-conspirators, has a bit of insight:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”[xi]

Instead of listening to his hand-picked commission of experts, Nixon made cannabis a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”[xii]. They succeeded in their mission. “Nearly 40 years later, in 2001 the number of former prisoners living in the United States more than doubled, from 1,603,000 to 4,299,000”[xiii]

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the black populations in the United States  saw a steady increase throughout the 1980’s. The drug arrests of the 1980s saw peak numbers in 1989, with 220,000 drug arrests for black people alone.[xiv] The next 14 years would show swings in the arrest numbers. None of them were as drastic as the 1989 arrests, but they did regularly arrest more than 100,000 black americans annually since. Unfornuately, we never saw the pre-Reagan numbers of less than 50,000 arrests-per-year again.

If the numbers for drug dealers/manufacturers were all black, then these numbers could show progress. According to a Brookings article that referenced a 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “6.6% of white adolescents and young adults (aged 12 to 25) sold drugs, compared to just 5.0 percent of blacks (a 32 percent difference)”[xv]

Cannabis activism is a lesson in human ignorance. It is the story of a government that used yellow journalism to spread fear among their white citizens in order to create a panic and establish resolutions that would demoralize and marginalize the melanin-enhanced people of the United States. They did this by pushing fear and covering up all the other alternatives. The American political propaganda machine dumped buckets of money into prohibitive research. They refused to fund any study that hypothesized any different results.

One study in 1973 discovered opioid receptors in the brain[xvi]. The prohibitionists wanted to find that golden bullet that was proof that cannabis hijacks Cannabinoid receptors in the brain like heroin did for opioid receptors. It would have been a home run for the propaganda of prohibition. Fifteen years later, Allyn Howlett and William Devane to finally discovered cannabinoid (CB) receptors in mice[xvii].

“Soon after, in 1993, a second cannabinoid receptor was found- as part of the immune and nervous systems. Dubbed CB2… receptors they are found to be plentiful throughout the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells and even the reproductive organs.”[xviii]. They found that there were both CB-1 and CB-2 receptors in mice.

At the same time, Dr. Mechoulam’s lab would go on to discover that the human body has its own “endocannabinoid anandamide” in 1992[xix][xx]. “Anandamide is produced in the cell membranes and tissues of the body”. It is a “neurotransmitter and an endocannabinoid”[xxi]. Taken from the Sanskrit word, Ananda (bliss), this molecule is the cannabinoid that, “when it binds to the cannabinoid receptor, it has a calming effect”[xxii]. This is not what the folks at the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) wanted to learn. It was discovered outside of their jurisdiction, in Israel, so NIDA had no influence on the experiment. A system that synthesizes the 85+ compounds of the cannabis plant within the human body is something to be studied, not imprisoned.

(there is a great deep dive into anandamide here[xxiii]. It talks about anadamide in chocolate as well as its role in the first communications between a mother and her newly forming fetus) (Black Truffles also have anandamide in them.)[xxiv]

These pioneers paved the way for the next generation of scientists to dig in to the medical benefits of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system (ECB). They have found clinical uses for a range of physical and mental ailments. Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Multiple sclerosis, Cancer, and Alzheimers are a few of the ailments that research is digging into. In my next segment, I will do a bit of a dive into the research that has come back from the scientific community.

[i] https://www.google.com/patents/US2419936

[ii] http://cannabisdigest.ca/discovered-thc-setting-record-straight/

[iii] https://www.nap.edu/read/9586/chapter/3#14

[iv] https://books.google.com/books?id=Bq9Qm-7Q95sC&pg=PA32&lpg=PA32&dq=Atharvaveda+bhang&source=bl&ots=w-hqyaOHr-&sig=flUCbrIgOZvu8nQC37GlcEBDGPU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi0uL7ktsfRAhUJllQKHS42Bo4Q6AEIMzAE#v=onepage&q=Atharvaveda%20bhang&f=false

[v]http://www.liquisearch.com/sula_benet/early_diffusion_and_folk_uses_of_hemp_1967

[vi] https://www.theweedblog.com/americas-founding-fathers-loved-hemp/

[vii] http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/hemp/history/first12000/13.htm

[viii] http://druglibrary.net/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncrec.htm

[ix] http://druglibrary.net/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncrec.htm

[x] http://druglibrary.net/schaffer/Library/studies/nc/ncrec.htm

[xi] http://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/

[xii] https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml

[xiii] https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/piusp01.pdf

[xiv] https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=datool&surl=/arrests/index.cfm#

[xv] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2014/09/30/how-the-war-on-drugs-damages-black-social-mobility/

[xvi] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/182/4119/1359

[xvii]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/20308432_Determination_and_Characterization_of_a_Cannabinoid_Receptor_in_Rat_Brain

[xviii] https://www.marijuanatimes.org/the-endocannabinoid-system-a-history-of-endocannabinoids-and-cannabis/

[xix]http://crrh.org/news/category/cannabis/raphael-mechoulam

[xx] https://sensiseeds.com/en/blog/cannabinoid-science-101-what-is-anandamide/

[xxi] http://theleafonline.com/c/science/2014/08/endocannabinoid-profile-crash-course-anandamide/

[xxii] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/opinion/sunday/the-feel-good-gene.html

[xxiii]http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/features/anandamide.shtml

[xxiv]http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031942214004956

 

 

Idaho Springs Brings Decent Herbs and Good Vibes.

11/25/16

Mountain Medicinals

Headband

Have you ever eaten dinner at a restaurant and, upon walking out, discovered another restaurant down the street that made you wonder when it opened and how you missed it? Something about it intrigued you from the outside, so you put a note in the back of your mind to try one day. That is Mountain Medicinals in Idaho Springs to me.  The restaurant is Idaho Springs, the busy little mountain town just outside of Denver. It is the biggest of the communities in the area that includes Georgetown, Downieville, and Dumont. The rusty red Argo Gold Mill and Mine crawls along the side of the mountain and indicates the dominant industry of the area. Across the street from the mine is Mountain Medicinals. It is a simple, small shack, like so many of the shops in the area.

Mountain Medicinals must have a lot of bills, because this place was quite a bit more expensive than anywhere else in this area. They weren’t so high that I walked out, though. The owner was not there either, so maybe these prices allow the owner to take some time off.

They had a decent selection; I took home the Headband. Classic. The Headband did not upset. The buds were deep green and they smelled peppery and spicy. The smoke was clean; it did not burn the throat and was cool on the exhale.  There was not too much of an aroma, and I got tired of it real fast. It was just ok.

A trip to Idaho Springs is totally worth it though. It is great to walk around and enjoy the view. The Tommyknocker restaurant and brewery is here.  There is also a fantastic coffee roaster called Java Mountain Roasters on the block. The owner is one of those people who found their bliss; he would gladly pay you to roast coffee and talk to people. He got lucky.

There is a lot to do in Idaho Springs, and their cannabis selection is pretty vast as well. There are lots of shops to go to. The mountain town vibe is on point and the marks of mining are embedded in the culture.