In the spirit of Independence Day, let us not forget our founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned large scale cannabis farms in their heyday. Their farms produced hemp and some interesting vignettes of Jefferson smoking it on his porch and the famous journal entries of Washington's where he "separated the male from the female" indicated that perhaps not all of their interest was in the non-psychoactive variety.
This month celebrates my personal favorite cannabis related holiday - 7/10 or OIL. Why? Because the Holy Anointing Oil, sacred to the religious practices of Moses at the Tabernacle and to my own spiritual practices is a legitimate cannabis holiday for those who use cannabis not as a medicine primarily, never a recreational drug, but always for a spiritual experience. Join the CHA and myself on Governor's Island this month to learn more about cannabis oil, it's properties as a medicine and just as, if not more importantly as a sacred herb, a spiritual mandate, and sovereign right.
It was an interesting month, May. Had some fakes show some true colors. Had some real show some true colors. In New York, when your born and raised here you learn fast-there ain't no time for lames. This is concrete jungle ladies and gentleman. It's not just a cliché, it's real out here. The strong survive, the quick, nimble, and sharp of mind rise and the weak fall fast. The cream rises to the top here, there is no faking success here, you will be sniffed out, snuffed out, and stepped on.
That said, I think this week the CHA really had our mettle tested with more than a few people bristled with comments that I made about Empire State NORML. I was criticized for walking in the cannabis parade (apparently it's only for certain people) and for capitalizing off the parade by throwing an after party, which means (to some fools) that I have forgone my American right to free speech and opinion. My favorite accusation of egregious crimes against cannabis are my interests profiting off this industry, that I am some evil, bald headed, hand wringing, eye-ball rolling fat cat capitalist. Well your honor, I plead guilty on all counts.
You know I'm not a peaceful hippie, not really good at being something I'm not. My roots are in the counterculture of New York Hardcore and hip hop. There is love in my heart for things in this world that have a chance to help other things, but if I don't see you doing that, I just don't respect you. The CHA is not here to be the biggest, the best, the only thing it is, is a reflection of me. This is my company, I didn't build it for you. It's for cannabis. If you like the lane the CHA is in, jump in, and help us provide a space for cannabis to dominate the Earth. If you don't like it, get the fuck out. It's really that simple. This is NYC shit, this ain't Kansas. I grew up in a hardcore Italian and Jewish NY family where we didn't accept mediocrity. I don't accept it in my personal life, I won't accept it in my professional life. I believe in fight or flight. There's a time for war and a time for peace, there's war when someone gets in the way of cannabis, there's peace when they acquiesce.
I criticized NORML for putting all the money they receive from donations into their marketing budget and their founders pockets, then this came out on MMJBusinessdaily.com a few days later...
I received a TON of email in support of my comments about NORML, I wasn't surprised. I knew my comments were legit and the support that rallied around me actually moved me to dab. So I dabbed and thought, thought and then I dabbed. Wondered if our 2nd Annual CHA Memorial Day Poetry and Picnic would be a success, if the community was behind me or if they had turned on me due to my unconventional and passionately negative opinion of this advocacy group. Well I would soon have my answer as a Memorial Day approached!
When I arrived to the Island I was met by one of the NYC Parks and Recreational security officer's, a man who introduced himself as an NYPD Detective named Dave. He rolled up slowly in a golf cart as I walked in his direction and it had the eerie feeling of a gun fight, the law enforcement officer rolling up, the non-violent offender minding his business about to get harassed....here's how the conversation went:
Dave: "You the marijuana guy?"
Me: "Nope, I'm involved with cannabis. Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug, cannabis is a natural plant."
Dave: "Your the guy from the newspaper, right?
Me: "Yes that's me, I don't want any problems, we have a right to picnic, and I called Governor's Island. They're expecting me. We do this every year."
Dave: "What's gonna happen here today."
Me: "We're going to find a place away from kids and families and have a picnic. I didn't bring any alcohol, I just have some food and sodas."
Dave: "You know, this medical marijuana thing, I believe in it. I think it really works."
Me: "It sure does. Look I have to set up, I'm not sure where we are going to be, but I'll make sure its out of everyone's face."
With a handshake, I was ready to roll. And I couldn't help say to myself, "I guess not all cops are bad." Actually first time I smoked cannabis was with a cop, but he didn't become an officer for years after, we were 15 at the time!
This year Memorial Day felt special, not just because it was a holiday, but it was our 1 year anniversary as a company! I look back at the last year and I become encouraged by the growth we've had and support from the community. In addition to completing our first year of operations, I was excited due to the news about the advancement of the bi-partisan Senate bill to end prohibition of medical cannabis for Veterans. If this $77Billion bill does pass, which I think it will, should end Federal prohibition against veterans, allowing Doctors to recommend medical cannabis to all vets of the armed forces. For veterans like the ones that noted researcher Sue Sisley is attempting to help, such as those depicted in the documentary "WEED 3" by CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, this provision is a major step in the right direction if and when it passes.
We had 70-80 good people show up and the feedback we got on the event was amazing. We had over 35 sign up on the mailing list and had over $260 in donations which we are rolling into our June event (to be announced shortly). Also we had the honor of introducing Rob and Eileen from Anotherwaytofight.com to the community. Rob, a bladder cancer survivor told his story of beating bladder cancer using RSO (Rick Simpson Oil). AWTF and CHA are currently discussing opening up a CHA Chapter in Long Island with AWTF as the hosts. We are very excited at the opportunity to discuss more about this with the community at our June event to be announced shortly!
We brought cannabis, in full force to the Governor's Island park, and the reason I do it every year is to remind New Yorkers that freedom ain't free. When I bring the people down to Governor's Island we pay tribute to our fallen heroes as we gazed out into the Hudson River and saw her, Lady Liberty in all her grandeur to the left, and to the right, the Freedom tower. In this business freedom and liberty have been oppressed for far too long. With each year our picnic will grow and eventually cannabis will legalize, could be 2017, could be 2020, the point is, we will be there when it happens, on Governor's Island. We will be there, Memorial Day 20-- to put one in the air for the troops who've been forced to take synthetic drugs by the law, held back by PTSD, and other anxiety disorders. And on that day we will be in a very large contingent, it will be one of the greatest days of our lives...
See ya next year.
CHA Continues to Break New Ground in NYC with 2nd Annual Poetry and Picnic event on Governor's Island.
In 2015 the Cannabis and Hemp Association is again doing what it can to bring people together in like-mind. Last year the CHA debuted our Poetry and Picnic. We brought down food, edible goods, and gave away a TON of information educating and raising awareness about cannabis!
This year, we have soooo much more material to bring to Governor's Island to share with CHA Affiliates and Governor's Island patrons on Memorial Day weekend. Trust me, you won't want to miss your once a year opportunity to express, artistically your devotion for our Nation, the Mother Plant, and how we feel about the current state of the industry, New York's policies, etc!
The Gothamist has learned of the event and posted a wonderful article! We are looking forward to a gorgeous day, approximately 80 degrees of weather.
The importance of self-expression in activism is critical, as ideas shared and expressed with authenticity resonate, galvanize, motivate, and inspire togetherness amongst people. Look at the internet and what the sharing of ideas have caused! The CHA will continue to make Governor's Island a priority destination for the NYC Cannabis community. Most do not know of the dramatic and forceful stimulus that New York City has put into GI to inspire education and art on the Island. This was the work of Bill De Blasio, Mayor, the man who defied the NYPD, admitted his concern for their racism, and has decriminalized cannabis in New York City.
Sharing is the most important thing that humans can do when it comes to activism as far as the CHA is concerned. Education is what will set us all free. It super cedes picketing, lobbying, and outright war. When people share ideas the first seeds of thought reform are planted, the "ah-ha" moments are harvested, and the chord of revolution is struck.
The CHA Picnic and Poetry is more than just a gathering of vibes and bodies. It is an exchange. An exchange of ideas from the CHA to the public who will pass by, smell our fragrant picnic, see our enthusiasm and feel our liberating vibe. It is also an exchange from CHA Affiliate to CHA Affiliate, sharing there perspectives, thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Those very pearls of communication spoken from one mouth, but shared amongst so many. The ability to put into words what someone else is thinking and refining that idea the listener has been trying to do for so long.
Take a view of the video on Governor's Island and check out the article in the Gothamist! Look forward to seeing you all this Sunday May 24, 2015. On Governor's Island, we will be at Liggett Terrace! Maps of GI available once you land!
I thought stoners were supposed to be lazy. Well someone should take a look at that stereotype because this last two weeks have been nothing short of an all-out hustle. Let's face it, anyone who's anyone in this business was in Denver, Colorado for 4/20 and for the CHA it was no exception as I was out in full effect at the Denver Mart for this year's 4/20 High Times Cannabis Cup Awards and trade show/festival.
When I arrived to Colorado I stopped at a few of the dispensaries, first up was Euflora. The dispensary was built into a bank, so it has an awkward look and feel but the experience was excellent. The bud tenders were super friendly and willing to help, but I wouldn't call them experts. They had one strain in particular of interest to me, the Gorilla Glue, which I'd heard about but hadn't had yet. It was nice. I'd say the best thing about Euflora was the freedom you had to browse, look, and smell the cannabis which was laid out on tables in jars. This was a different experience then when I went to dispensaries "The Clinic" and "Medicine Man". At MM, the bud tender Zack was the only tender I was able to deal with that really came across as an authentic, experienced, cannabis guy. I could tell he had years in just in the way he interacted with customers, very self-assured, polite, patient, and compassionate. I just had to walk up and tell him that I was old school and he recommended two strains that I thought were more than adequate, they were excellent.
I decided that no canna-vacation would be complete without a black market experience so I tapped into my network and got in touch with a guy we'll call "Bill". I went over to Bill's house that evening to discuss business and he showed me some high end concentrate called hash cookie, which was like a crumble but really looked like a cookie and it was there that I learned of "LIVE RESIN". Bill took out a large slab of this material which looked like green tea ice cream on a page and smelt like nothing I had ever smelt in the cannabis industry, honestly, the terps were mind boggling. I couldn't wait to take a dab. So out came the rig, up went the torch, and for a good 4-5 seconds I couldn't muster a thought. It was a beautiful euphoric high that left me feeling fully medicated. All I could think of was the song "Snowblind" by Black Sabbath...I digress. Being that I was stupefied, I forgot to buy anything from Bill and left feeling great, until the morning came and I realized I didn't purchase any live resin. I frantically dialed Bill, "I need that live resin!" Bill said, "sorry man it's 4/20 week, sold out right after you left." Heart...shattered.
The next day I attended a course known as "420 Certification" from Cloverleaf University. When I arrived I was instantly impressed, a cannabis event that was ready to start on time! Chloe Villano, the owner of Cloverleaf, justifiably prides herself on the Board of Education accreditation that her school receives and she should. To this day, I believe Cloverleaf is the only accredited school in the cannabis industry, despite the success of other learning companies like CTI, CCI, and Oaksterdam etc. The big takeaway from Cloverleaf for me was Villano's ability to attract a large quantity of highly credible seminar leaders/presenters. I was BEYOND impressed with the breadth and diversity of the presenters. There was absolutely no lack of information given, in fact I'd say if anything it was too much information! The important thing to note is the credibility of the speakers real world, hands on experience could not have been more impressive. Villano gave access to cannabis guru's Adam Dunn and Ed Rosenthal who've done it all and backed it up with a plethora of other leadership talent from the local community. What was most exciting was the diverse group of presenters, diversity always impresses me in cannabis and the first five presenters were all women from Chloe, to Nichole West, Jane Doe Hendricks, and then two women gave a cannabis culinary class (which I didn't stick around for to break for lunch.) Really for a $99 workshop, the amount of info was kind of ridiculous. I guess the one thing that was lacking was no take home material, but for $99, I'm not complaining! Just know if you attend Cloverleaf, be prepared to take notes!
The following day I attended the High Times Cannabis Cup awards, festival, and trade show. Expecting a really awkward day since The Cannabist reported that there would be no sampling at the event, I was relieved to hear that despite threats from the MED (Marijuana Enforcement Department) in Colorado that companies were sampling anyway. When I got to the cup I was shocked at the size and magnitude of the event but at the same time I also was surprised it wasn't even larger than I had expected. Everyone was buying and selling cannabis like crazy. I felt like it was the floor of the New York Stock Exchange only weed was flying everywhere instead of papers. The highlight of my time was having the honor/privilege to meet Jim from BOG seeds who produces some of the most incredible bubble gum based strains in the industry. I always feel that investing in genetics is important, because they last 20-30 years and having a strong bank is critical for any cannabis connoisseur. I spent the day dealing with vendors, one of the more interesting visits was with Jair, the owner of Gavita, the world leader in HPS lamps for cannabis growth. I was discussing with Jair distribution opportunities in the Northeast and he reported that he can't take on any more distributors because he is selling as much as his factory can produce. Sounds like a good problem to have. It seemed to me that the people that came from California to present were flexing there experience muscles as all of the products I tried from California were by far the best. I bought several bottles of a red syrup, designed after the popular recreational drug known as "lean" and in stead of taking 1/5 of the bottle the regular dose, I just drank the whole thing and couldn't feel my legs. Awesome.
I want to give a special shout out to the guys at Magical Butter who had heard about the work the CHA is doing and donated a Magical Butter machine to make our events event better. I love their product. I noticed the most popular items out there were e-nails and dabs were certainly what everyone wanted to do. The only negative thing I could say about the Cannabis Cup was it didn't really have a polished professional feeling and I could tell many of the vendors edibles weren't strong. It seemed that most of the vendors selling cannabis or infused products came to turn quick profit and rip people off by making really weak edibles or shorting people on weight counts. That part kind of sucked, but hey caveat emptor. You buy drugs from a guy in a crooked brimmed hat, what do you expect?
After the Cannabis Cup I went back to my hotel room and reflected on my week in Denver and started thinking about DC, New York, and Las Vegas, just thinking and thinking about all the different cannabis markets and what they bring to the table and I have determined that Colorado will be sustainable as the "Silicon Valley of Cannabis" because the police are cool with it. That means the politicians in Colorado are fully on board. You look at all the other states and it's a hodge podge of buy-in from each state. When I returned to New York on 4/22 I was booked to speak that very evening at New York University for Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
The panel was one filled with curiosity, with many of the students just learning about cannabis many had questions about "coming out of the shadows" with their cannabis use to their family and basic legalization questions. It really was a great way to introduce young aspiring minds to the cannabis industry Ashley Frankel and Erica Presson of SSDP put the lineup together and did a great job allowing the audience to ask all the panel questions. If you did not see the "CANNABIZ" panel CLICK HERE
It was a great little weekend that capped off in a really holistic way...if you listen to the panel you will hear my frustrations come out with New York after spending a week in legalization...one day hopefully this state will get their act together.
Cannabis advocates everywhere are seeing legalization covering over 45% of the population, entrepreneurs getting wealthy, and an abundance of media, veritably being shoved down their through on a daily basis encouraging them to get busy on their cannabis businesses', get their investments in order, and start planning for their new "green future."
Not so fast, gang. The prohibitionist agenda has never been clearer and more disturbing through these eyes. I've thought a lot about the way things work and moreover, I've researched everything I can't understand ad nauseum. Obviously so much more to understand, but my top priority has been to grasp why it appears to me that the people of the world around are so peaceful and loving yet the news and the world around me as it appears in media is in such discord. We talk about power and politics and the one thing that no one ever wants to do is admit that Government is an idea, a concept, an intangible framework to which only becomes tangible when it directly interacts with it's citizens. In the U.S. we have used propaganda to govern our people from the earliest days of existence, to form social conditions for living as all groups do.
The thing that cannabis advocates need understand that all concepts of how we think about cannabis are often shaped by how we speak about cannabis and those thoughts have been thrust upon us by those who for the last 150 years have sought to keep our most sustainable crop out of the people's hands. If I were writing a sci-fi book, the first thing I would think as a great concept would be manipulating the populace into making life more difficult for themselves which is exactly what some our politicians seek to consistently do, make our lives more difficult so they can sell us on their convenience, and they do so by hiring scientists to create a study, publicists, to promote their agenda, and marketers, to act on those strong emotions with products made by companies, who care only for profit. This system is in place for all politicians and corporations to work together, some may have great intentions and ideas, put forth good work, but often the line grays between lobbyists and politicians where in many cases they are one in the same even though they are not registered with the Federal government.
In 2016 we will have a Presidential race and those politicians are already being bought and paid for, Ted Cruz already made his flip last week. Apparently he is now for marijuana reform, but notice he never mentions Federal legalization, he is pushing the same agenda as MPP, regulate cannabis at the state level, respect 10th Amendment rights, which means he is essential playing for the drug companies just like Kevin Sabet and Pat Kennedy of ProjectSAM, pawns of the good people of NIDA, who continue to research the harm in cannabis and find the reverse is true.
What's scary about the future of this industry is that as far as I can see cannabis is being used by corporations to create more health problems for humanity by using it's popularity to push synthetic cannabinoids drugs across the world through a serious of global legislative loopholes. Dispensary licenses will be given to the wrong people, people who don't care about the welfare of patients, their investors will be capitalists, not compassionate owners. This was exactly what happened in Rhode Island and New Jersey.
What is happening in this industry is classic Hegelian philosophy. You have a synthesis of two sides presenting opposing viewpoints legalization and non-legalization with both sides making legitimate arguments causing a synthesis that benefits the government collecting taxes on both sides of the argument....question is, the loser of the argument is the people. It is us, the cannabis believers, the patients, and the medically in need that will be impacted, we already have. The very fact we call cannabis, marijuana proves it. The etymology of the word is one that is so foreign to our language it doesn't fit in context, so it will always be a "foreign" substance because linguistically it doesn't fit into the English language. Just read any sentence with the word marijuana in it and you can see it is not of English grammatical word structure.
Last month conservatives all got together to plot how they will manipulate voters to vote on their candidate at their annual pep and planning rally. Read it and weep, they are coming for your marijuana vote, they are coming hard, and they are all pushing the prohibitionist agenda, legalize at the state level, decriminalize, but don't make it legal.
The bottom line why they don't want it legal is they know it will destroy the pharmaceutical, genetically modified food, and alcohol business. They will continue to push back with propaganda, even if it means distribution of synthetic cannabinoids that kill, to create enough fear to protect their empire of drug abuse.
Damn these corporations....as a people we must continue to fight back 10 times harder than ever before.
Read it and weep, 2016 is the year the conservatives send out the force to rally votes and take back the white house by pushing decriminalization, ProjectSAM, NIDA endorsed, Big Pharma bullshit..
"Synthetic Marijuana" according to Dr. Phil in the video above is what it's called, the name it's been given by the ever shadowy "powers that be" who determine the narrative language in our nation.
What "synthetic marijuana" is, is a cannabinoid (a chemical compound found in nature that interacts with the endogenous endocannabinoid system) made in a laboratory that is derived by synthesizing metabolites of the chemical THC.
The end result is a molecule resembling THC known as JWH-018.
Listen to John W. Huffman push the prohibitionist agenda, by advocating marijuana legalization, but ensuring to add the terms that indicate it should be regulated like alcohol. It is the position of the CHA that ANY organization lobbying to "legalize marijuana like alcohol" is a prohibitionist organization seeking to profit off the industry with little to no compassion. In addition, the CHA strongly advocates against any legalization policy not recognizing "marijuana" by it's true name cannabis sativa L. These policies are all believed by the CHA to be backed by prohibitionists out to mitigate or limit the access of cannabis sativa L. to the people which prevents sustainability!
LISTEN TO KEVIN SABET SPEAK IN SWEDEN, IN THE HEART OF EUROPE WHERE SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA IS BEING SYNTHESIZED.
SABET TALKS ABOUT CANNABIS AS IF IT IS TRULY "SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA". LISTEN TO THIS VIDEO FROM THE NOTED PROHIBITIONIST AS HE DESCRIBES CANNABIS AS A DEADLY DRUG AND EVEN GOES SO FAR AS TO POINT OUT THAT VIOLENT CRIMES IN AMERICA ARE A RESULT OF CANNABIS USE.
Project SAM is a dangerous organization, providing thought reform against cannabis. A full report on this evil organization whose goal is to push the prohibitionist agenda is currently in production by the CHA.
One of the most positive and exciting aspects of being a part of the Federally illegal cannabis industry is that the opportunity for small businesses to grow is huge. Although media critics point the finger at the felonious background of many of the cannabis entrepreneurs, the green rush gives many formerly incarcerated a second chance at the American Dream. The opportunity to prosper often held back by background checks that eliminate candidates from jobs based on character, a judgement often made on people born into less than ideal circumstances, or perhaps people who made some mistakes in the maturing process, but are not violent criminals. Cannabis has much in common with formerly incarcerated, the plant has been persecuted and locked down by the Government when it has much still to contribute to more robust and diverse society. Drug use is a health issue, not a criminal one, and people continue to get locked away, freedom stolen by a Puritanical prison system. The Drug War, now ending, creates a new chance for formerly incarcerated citizens to seek legal ways to make reparations for past transgressions.
I went to the event in Manhattan to see the transformational work of Defy Ventures, a local charity which works hard to teach formerly incarcerated citizens entrepreneurial skills. After all, with the multi-national corporations unwilling to give these people a chance, grass roots sole proprietorship is their best opportunity to live an economically sustainable life. The event was a socially exciting opportunity. I came and paid $20 and got 20 tickets that I was to use as a currency to procure food and drinks, we were free to negotiate, wheel and deal, and then we evaluated the profit and losses of the teams, gave feedback, and the winning team was selected based on their financial success.
I couldn't help but wonder if any of the 20-30 formerly incarcerated in attendance had given cannabis industry any thought or if cannabis had played a role in their becoming incarcerated. I met Annie Brown, told her of our work at the CHA and she was delighted to have us in attendance and wanted to see if I would offer some mentoring to the community and of course I said yes. I couldn't help but want to assist these folks, many with families in their quest for equal opportunity.
I encourage everyone in the cannabis industry looking to make a difference to spend time with charities working with formerly incarcerated, just like Defy Ventures does. It's an opportunity to truly push forward drug policy, make a difference in your community, and let these people know that there is an industry growing that can turn around there past transgressions. Transgressions that can quickly be forgotten in America once wealth is obtained.
Back in October the US Department of Justice finalized the guidelines sent out to all US attorneys on how they should approach the emerging cannabis industry. In December these guidelines started hitting the news. The guidelines were simple, the tribes would follow the same directive's as the other US States; the one advantage? The tribes can write their own law and little if any holds are barred. Moreover the DOJ went as far as to offer no guidance beyond the memo, leaving the tribes wondering what's going on?
"We actually have no idea what's going on here," said Troy Eid, a Denver attorney and chairman of the Indian Law and Order Commission, which advises Obama and Congress on tribal criminal justice issues. "What we do know is that, for unknown reasons, there has been no consultation between the administration and tribes as to what they want to do. It's a very unusual gap in how this president has approached things."
Unusual indeed as it has been well publicized that President Obama has been the most active in helping the tribes over his two terms over any recent President, as reported by Bloomberg. “Over the last few years, I’ve had a chance to speak with Native American leaders across the country about the challenges you face, and those conversations have been deeply important to me,” Obama said in an address to Indian leaders in November 2009. “I get it. I’m on your side. I understand what it means to be an outsider.”
The way we see this situation through the eyes of the CHA is the Federal Government is offering carte blanche, the opportunity for tribes to do whatever they feel is necessary within the framework of the (8) directives of the Cole Memorandum, lets recap:
The CHA has created a strategy for the tribes to make drastic and radical moves within the framework of the DOJ memo that we believe will change the face of the cannabis industry. Our strategy goes far beyond the buying and selling of pot and into a new realm of economic reinvigoration, a micro-economy of cannabis-driven emerging industries developed first in pockets around America, and soon worldwide.
CHA has been in talks with a number of global business owners about integrating cannabis and hemp into their operations, in order to do so they would need licensure and the CHA has developed strategies for the tribes to ensure the licenses granted provide IMMEDIATE, SUDDEN, AND DRASTIC POSITIVE impact to Indian Country. We at the CHA believe that when American people think of Native Americans they think "natural, outdoors, holistic, and green" a people truly connected to the Earth. The CHA sees no better marketing synergy for the impending cannabis and plant-based movement to thrive. The CHA sees a return of reputation to the tribes of distinguished honor, through the reinvigoration of the economies of these tribes. Perhaps most importantly the CHA sees no community that can benefit more from cannabis than the tribes.
The tribes have some major competitive advantages:
(1) Time - Due to the outlying laws in the states they operate tribes can move much faster than the states they are located within to attract businesses to their reservations.
(2) Sovereignty - They have less to lose or risk, they can be more progressive and design their program to have advantages that their existing states don't have. Such as a NY tribe may offer recreational products while NY medical marijuana only has concentrated, finished packaged goods.
(3) Tax Advantages - Tribes can attract outsiders to partner with the state and offer lower taxes than the absorbent ones levied by greedy states. The tribes can attract many corporations that are interested in the business with this advantage. Plus they are not subjected to IRS section 280e.
(4) Creativity - Tribes do not have to copy cat the other US states, they can start an entirely new system if they so choose, one that encourages other business interests than the cultivation and sale of marijuana.
(5) Land - Most reservations have the land to cultivate hemp for industrial use. Environmentally there are few places on Earth hemp won't grow. This land can be leased to developers, have corporations relocate, hospitals built, universities established, and even sustainable fire, ambulance, and police forces to make the reservations safer for members.
The CHA looks forward to galvanizing our relationships with the tribes, this was my quote to the newspapers today:
“The legal representatives of dozens of tribes in more than a few states have heard of our interest in assisting and we are intensively negotiating the parameters of entering into a strategic partnership on an ongoing basis. Our unique value proposition to the tribes has been well received by the community and we expect to have a development deal finalized in the coming days.”
“The tribes are being choked out by competition and regulations in their existing operations. They understand the only way to grow as a state is to be a part of emerging industries; those unregulated due to their youth. We are the only developer in the nation who has approached them with a package that allows the Native Americans to do more than ‘buy and sell pot.’”
“Frankly, we are so far out in front with our innovative strategies from the rest of the industry, I don’t believe anyone has a shot to catch up. We encourage more tribes to engage with us. We are deeply concerned about the impact of tribes working with our competitors. We are concerned they will waste the one chance they have to set up the proper infrastructure for sustainability by thinking too short-term. Many of these Nations are fragmented and deeply impacted by drugs, alcohol, and crime which we believe is mostly brought on by poverty and a lack of opportunity. It would seriously disturb me if Native American nations are subscribing to the American standard cannabis dispensary system, under the substantive conditions those communities face. They need another alternative. We provide that.”
For years I had plotted getting into the cannabis space but being a native New Yorker we have been oppressed by a police state since the days of Mayor Guiliani. New York was a mess back then and wouldn't be what it is today if not for a major police sweep of everything and anything. Well for those outside of NY, you can't quite imagine what it has been like wire taps on phones, setups designed to put people in jail who are small time cannabis dealers, lives tainted, mine included through minor cannabis related possession offenses. It's been a climate that has made New York one of the most "scared" markets in the cannabis industry.
Growing up on Long Island, being a rapper, pot dealer, and consistent frequenter of the legendary CBGB's I grew up with a unique perspective. I was a Long Island middle class kid more interested in the gutters on NYC then the shopping mall, plastic culture of Long Island. I saw what hardship looked like and basked in the essence of revolution, the underground birth of hip hop and New York punk-rock, also known as New York Hardcore. When you are a youth and this is your church you learn the plights of the unloved, the angst of the oppressed, and on those Saturdays and Sundays spent in underground music venues you saw the successes of those who broke through the oppression and those who still stewed on veritable caste society. It was in this environment that I learned about unity, diversity, and equality for the first time. To be in venues full of society's rejects week-to-week on weekends and then return to the utopia of Commack M-F, it really opened my eyes at how much Commack needed CBGB's and CBGB's needed Commack, or more specifically how much the privileged need the underprivileged. You see even in CBGB's in the punk-rock underground there was a caste society. It was so amazing, in the sacred temple of the unloved, CBGB's even the punks shared the same cliquey behavior I saw at High School. I realized that even the outcasts have egos and flaws of high brow judgementalism as those they considered adversaries.
The last six months have opened up my eyes as to just how basic the human being is. The same sort of behaviors have seen as a 16 year old are repeating as a 35 year old. On one hand I see a like-minded cause, cannabis, being fragmented by smaller, microgoals, such as the interests of business growth, political change, and activism. I see a fragmented industry where any conflicts of interests between the groups cause a vile separation. I see the egos of the leadership in these groups conflicting with the needs of the sick, opportunities for those seeking a career in the industry, and traditionalists, those with experience well beyond my own taking an elitist and entitled mentality.
The need for human beings to look beyond the big picture and only concern themselves with their own wants and needs runs just as rampant in the cannabis industry as any other. Was I a fool to believe this industry could rise above the flaws of man? Perhaps. Perhaps I was an absolute moron to think that this industry would be different then the halls of Commack High or the mosh pits of CBGB. Nonetheless I am reporting this to ensure that it has been officially documented that I, Scott Giannotti am grossly disappointed in the unity within the cannabis industry.
Since beginning the CHA I have been blessed to have built this company thanks to the help of affiliates such as Heather Fahey, Natalie Shmuel, Oleg MaryAces, and Melissa Meyer into a model that is sustainable and impactful. The vision I have for the CHA and the industry is one that requires unity and an agreement to work things out with those in the community you serve. If you are flexing power or ego as a means to stifle growth within this industry than you aren't acting in the best interest of the cannabis plant, its believers, and those who need it to live a normal functioning life, such as myself.
In (6) months we've accomplished the following:
-Grew to 145 affiliates online
-Grew to 3 CHA official members
-Held over 43 meetings and events
-Created original content for lectures, seminars, and educational courses dedicated to cannabis
-Started Cannabis and Hemp TV a video blog
-Were the ONLY business trade group for cannabis represented at several NYC based cannabis events.
-Set up a few table days.
-Held the first "Women's Business Incubator" event in industry history, teaching women how to get government funding for cannabis projects.
-Held the first spirituality based cannabis event in NYC the "Meditate and Meditate"
-Were the first cannabis trade association to get featured in the New York Times and CNBC
-Have been cited as a primary data source.
As we look back on the first six months and close out the year in cannabis, I want to assure all who read this that what the CHA is creating is for all to enjoy. As we project forward into 2015 I anticipate a year of massive growth and impact. While this year I was at conferences explaining what the CHA is and what we do, I expect by 2016 to emerge as the most well known trade association in the industry.
The CHA will achieve this goal through:
-Continued programs that create REAL jobs and companies.
-Continued education that will shape the industry's credential and lift stigmata's associated with cannabis.
-Continued community social events that bring this community together.
-Laser-like focus on gender and cultural diversity.
-Bringing forth volunteer opportunities that impact the community outside of the cannabis industry in the markets we serve.
-Outreach to potential sponsors and public appearances/speeches at cannabis events as well as colleges and other venues.
-Respecting the needs of medical patients, recreational users, and environmentalists while maintaining collaborative relationships with municipalities.
As a lifelong New Yorker, I haven’t seen the Green Rush sweep our state just yet. So this week’s MMJ Business Daily’s historical cannabis conference was Disneyland for me. It was pot heaven, without the buds. It was like a future life, set in a world where cannabis was more than quasi-legal. The smell of cannabis would occasionally hit you in wafts, but not from smoke or vapor, from the pockets of the attendees. Every few minutes the sweet smell of terpenes would wisp in and out as easily as it came and it was necessary for me to remember that I was a cannabis conference and not a trade show for a totally legal product. To see thousands of current and future entrepreneurs come together to get in on this green rush was inspiring, exciting, you could feel the energy in the air. A cast of characters that would make “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” were scattered throughout the conference, everything from hippies to yuppies were in full effect. My first impression of the conference was the sheer magnitude of the registration area, lines stretched far into the hall, some people reporting Disneyland-ride type wait times just to get their golden ticket, their conference badge.
The registration area featured a directory which reminded me of one you’d find in the Roosevelt Mall back home on Long Island New York. The speaker list was extensive, the exhibition hall was overwhelming. For those of us who recently attended the International Cannabis Association conference in New York City, marveled at the sheer mass magnitude of this particular event. It seemed 10 times the size of the ICA production, which it wasn’t, but I literally felt small in that room. The conference was boisterous and exploding with entrepreneurial spirit from its attendees. It seems like this new mega-conference model will continue to perpetuate as rumors of the ICA relocating its conference to the Jacob Javits Center spread throughout the room.
On November 1st, John Leland and Mosi Secret’s article “For Pot Inc., The Rush Begins” in the New York Times featured the cast of characters that were key players in the ICA event. Some of them included myself, a former rapper and cell phone store owner, Dan Humiston a tanning aslon owner and President of the ICA, and Ari Huffnung, a local entrepreneur seeking one of the cannabis coveted licenses, 5 total in New York State to be given. This conference had no shortage of its cast of characters. The parade of people ranged from all over the world onto the conference, my partner Marcel Maurer from Switzerland, but I also met people from Germany, Japan, China, South America, and a strong Canadian contingent. Their were people from all over the US from Nevada, California, Colorada, New York, Florida, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Oregon, Teexas, Arizona, Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland, and Ohio. Those were just what I saw. I’m sure many more territories were represented but we will get back to the individual stars of the show a little later…
MMJ Business Daily provided a wonderful program which is given out with your registration. I am quite confident it is the most comprehensive cannabis industry show guide in the history of the industry based on the fact they are a publishing company. The program guide had extensive full-color descriptions of all of the speakers for the event, laid out the conference tract in a simple to digest manner, had some interesting articles and advertisements as well. I was not surprised when I received an email Thursday morning to alert me the conference had sold out.
MMJ Business Daily had many sponsors and the lunch and deserts they served were excellent. The lunch was healthy, buffet style served right on the conference floor on both Thursday and Friday and I was happy to see that the cannabis community continues to provide a lot of vegan and vegetarian options to the show attendees.
It seemed from the moment I arrived it was all about the parties, as one would expect from a conference in Las Vegas! However like most things, the parties were very cliquey, but of course I’m sure space was limited. I went to the Women Grow event briefly, just in time to get what I came for. I wanted to hear Jane West and co-founder Jazmin Hupp speak to the industry. Women’s Grow announced an initiative to raise $250,000 and Eden Labs was the first to contribute. It would appear Women Grow is on a roll, they have chapters all over the United States and they have only been around since August. Green Rush much?! There are two sides of the women’s movement in the cannabis space I am seeing trending the first is raising awareness about women being treated appropriately in the marketplace, at work, and as a partner in a business. On one side women are still dealing with many of the same sexist male behaviors you would typically hear about in any office environment from inappropriate language around women, inappropriate comments, disparaging nicknames, to less subtle forms, such as women being used as pawns to become the “token female” in an organization based on gender and not merit. Men are making many faux paus saying things they may not even realize are offensive to women. Jane West, to her credit is more focused on women who are confident enough to push through those limiting behaviors and beliefs. I think the group’s name is appropo for West’s vision. Jane is really looking to inspire and create opportunity for women moreso than being the whistleblower and a fine job she appears to be doing.
As for the conferences, there were so many, but frankly I found the people and the vendors to be favorite part of the expo. The conferences may have been tremendous, but I only attended two, simply because I felt my knowledge of the industry was sufficient in the areas in which the conferences were being held. I came more for networking then for education. That said, I did attend two conferences, the first conference was called “Beyond THC” about CBD and hemp. This conference was exceptional and headed by two speakers Anndrea Herman of the Hemp Industrial Association and Chris Boucher of CannaVest Inc.
AnnDrea Herman spoke first and was exceptional; her ability to speak clearly and articulate her message about hemp, rattle of the data quickly and digestibly was incredible. After the conference I went up to her to ask her about growing hemp indoors. Why doesn’t anyone talk about it? She said, “Unless someone is looking to separate a male from female to produce extractions then there is no need for it. Most agricultural hemp need not grown inodoors, it is cost-prohibitive. AnnDrea went on to promote her initiative votehemp.com which is sounding like some sort of coalition to legalize hemp. They are seeking to remove any association of the word “marijuana” from hemp and also seeking to give the hemp industry control of the right to also cultivate the hemp flower, non-psychoactive cannabis as part of the legislation in all of the states. While this may seem harmless, this is a potential conflict of interest to the “marijuana people” or the psychoactive medicinal and recreational side constituents of the cannabis plant, specifically anything containing THC.
When Chris Boucher spoke, there was certain arrogance to his demeanor, he raised a bold analogy by showing the famous 1938 Popular Mechanics issue with Henry Ford and the claim that hemp would be a billion dollar industry way back then. Boucher remarked, “Imagine what hemp would be today if it were never made illegal.” It would seem that the small $500 plus million dollar industry is set to take off as Boucher claimed that he sees CBD oil as the new nutritional supplement, like vitamin C that will be infused into every nutritional wellness product. Boucher went on to expound on the benefits of farmers getting into the hemp industry, most notably emphasizing farmers rights to not only create the textiles, fibers, and process them, they would also have the rights to extractions of all the plant as well, leaving no waste for the farmer.
After the seminar a woman named Kiera from Black Rock Nutraceuticals in Las Vegas stood up and started asking some very serious questions regarding a conflict of interest between the initiatives spoken on the panel and the initiatives of the medical and recreational cannabis industries. I wondered for a long time before today why the cannabis industry was split between cannabis and hemp. One of the main reasons I founded the Cannabis and Hemp Association was to help merge these industries, but apparently the hemp people aren’t interested. Right now it appears there is a competition between the two industries in the area of medical use of hemp. Hemp laws are passing that give hemp growers the right to process non-psychoactive cannabis in concentrates requiring no special permitting while psycho-active cannabis must go through the expensive licensing process in order to set up extraction plants. What this means is essentially a hemp farmer can start their own cultivation facilities similar to medical marijuana cultivators without having to go through the medical marijuana process and some believe this could start an intra-industry war between THC and CBD. Kiera questioned Chris about this conflict of interest and was more or less given rhetoric as an answer. It appeared to me Mr. Boucher was deflecting the question. Despite these potentially damaging issues to the industry in the future, I found the hemp presentation to look like a phenomenal opportunity for farmers.
The only other conference I attended was the closing one, “The Future of The Industry in 5 years.” The panelists were Meg Sanders CEO of Mindful, Tripp Keber CEO of Dixie Brands, Rob Campia Executive Director of Marijuana Policy Project, and Andrew DeAngelo Vice President of Harborside Health Center. The industry outlook was very much similar to what I had anticipated. Dixie Elixirs CEO claims that infused products were just in 8% of all of the products in their dispensaries but now there are close to 50% infused products. The future is finished packaged goods according to Keber.
Two of the panelists had predictions that cannabis would legalize federally, Keber believes it will happen in 2016 with Campia believing we will have 5 more recreational markets online by 2016 and Federal legalization in 2019. Mr. Deangelo was less optimistic and would not make a prediction as he did not see Federal law changing for the foreseeable future. This bearish view by Mr. DeAngelo by the way, contrasts what his brother Steve Deangleo remarked in October’s “Blunt Talk” conference in New York in which he believed the 2019 election would be the federal lift on prohibition, and he said so definitively.
MPP had a rosy outlook for recreational cannabis, he went on to predict publicly the opening of new markets in California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada in 2016, while medical cannabis would be instituted by Pennsylvania and Florida by November 2016. MPP went on to state the best Presidential Candidate for the industry is Rand Paul, singling out Hillary Clinton as someone who may not be a friend to the industry.
Meg Sanders view of the industry in 5 years was wishful and hopeful; she spoke in an energized tone, perhaps by the sheer volume of people in the auditorium, a virtual wave of cannabis enthusiasts and investors. Sanders outlook was one of optimism, saying she looks forward to a day when we are all pitching our finished products at trade shows all over America. To accomplish Meg’s vision however, a great deal of regulation will need to be established as concerns over edibles continued to be a theme on the panel. When asked his greatest fear about the industry, Deangelo used an example of irresponsible edible use. He offered an anecdote of a bus driver who ate an edible and later in the day, after the edible kicks in, impairs his driving and leads to an accident and death of children on the bus. While the example is just a fabricated story and nothing like this has happened yet, it is a major concern as most of America has yet to have been exposed to the effects of eating cannabis concentrated infused products.
For those that are novice with edible products, the way the body metabolizes them is different than the inhalation process. When edibles are ingested, the cannabinoids metabolize through the liver, one of the main centers for CB2 endocannabinoid receptors. The psychoactive process is not instantly induced, but a slower metabolism, one that can take up to two hours to kick in. This can pose a problem in safety specific industries, where users of cannabis may not be able to time their high in a way that ensures the safety of those the user is tasked to protect. Some cannabis experts have even advocated to adult nubies trying cannabis for the first time to smoke it, due to the rapid induction of the high, allowing the end user to determine quickly if they can handle the dosage.
Tripp Keber from Dixie Elixirs went on to explain his concerns about the industry which involve overregulation. As is typical of most businessmen they are going to be concerned with regulation which costs them money to adhere to or regulation that makes them money as a result. His brand Dixie Elixirs are dependent on edibles to function and with many concerns being stated throughout Colorado and even proposed legislation to kill the edible business; Tripp has good reason to be concerned. We all have a reason to be concerned about overregulation. While in my hotel room I learned that the first online gaming company, Ultimate Gaming, in Las Vegas shut operations this month, citing an overregulated industry made it not worth the effort to operate their business.
“As has been the case in other jurisdictions, online poker revenues in Nevada have fallen far short of original projections,” Ultimate Gaming Chairman Tom Breitling said in the release. “Moreover, the state-by-state approach to online gaming has created an extremely cost-prohibitive and challenging operating environment. These factors have combined to make the path to profitability very difficult and uncertain. Consequently, we have decided to cease operations.”
With New York State proudly touting that the market will be the “most tightly regulated in the industry” according to New York Democrat Senator Diane Savino, the question is will it be prohibitive. Will New York be the state that pushes regulation too far or will the state-by-state regulations prove to be effective? We don’t know. The question is, how do we find the proper mix of regulation in the industry? The industry needs regulations loose enough to entice investors and entrepreneurs, so it must be profitable, but tight enough to ensure the state gets their tax revenue. Diversion (the act of moving legal cannabis into the black market) needs to be avoided and the patients n(and eventually consumers) must be able get their hands on a safe, affordable product in terms of production and quality.
Tripp stated another concern, the alcohol and tobacco industries fighting against cannabis in order to preserve their market share. “The inconvenient truth is that Big Tobacco is coming for you and, surprise, surprise, she plans on giving it to you good and hard,” Patrick Basham, director of the non-partisan public policy research organization based in Washington DC and London, said during a speech at the conference. Alcohol and tobacco have already begun to take steps to move against cannabis and the marketplace for America’s recreational drugs will end up in fierce competition. “You can’t have an industry that is tripling in size and taking revenue and profits away from manufacturers of alcohol and tobacco and not expect them to do something about it,” Keber told an audience on the last day of the conference. “You better be prepared.”
While alcohol and tobacco complement each other, cannabis is often used exclusively and this is reflected in statistics showing out of Colorado alcohol consumption is down as cannabis consumption increases. Personally, I believe those trends will continue in all recreational markets as cannabis and alcohol have opposite effects on the endocannabinoid system. Where alcohol greatly impairs the endocannabinoid system, cannabis supplements it, leaving the body in a state of disarray when both are used together in excess. I have a number of alcoholic friends and none of them smoke cannabis due to the effects it has on their body, it doesn’t sit well with them, and I believe that is due to the damage that gets done to the endocannabinoid system.
I did not have the opportunity to attend the keynote speech, an introduction from Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. I’m not sure what ice cream has to do with cannabis and to my knowledge Mr. Cohen has no interest in opening up a cannabis business, so I just don’t understand the choice in having him as a keynote speaker. I see the correlation between edible companies seeking to make an iconic brand in the marketplace, but as a keynote speaker I think having someone with a more broad view of the cannabis industry, such as Steve Deangelo or Ed Rosenthal or a notable author would have been better. This was one of my very few complaints about what was otherwise a stellar performance by MMJBusinessDaily.
As I walked the exhibition hall (8) rows of vendors awaited like a labyrinth of golden opportunity with Hempmeds booth being right up front. They are one of the “CBD-hemp oil hustlers” a subsidiary of the corporation Medical Marijuana, Inc. featured in a report from ProjectCBD. Hempmeds purchases hemp bulk product which consists of non-psychoactive cannabis which comes in a veritable vat of black, tar like substance, which then gets processed and refined (supposedly) into a digestable oil that is supposed to contain CBD. Companies like Hempmeds believe that hemp-oil will become the new Vitamin C, they believe it will be infused in various types of food and vitamin supplements all over.
The show was a mixed blend between some of the larger names in the industry such as Leafly, ArcView Group, Medbox, Hempmeds, GPharmaLabs, Abbatis Bioceuticals, Apeks Supercritical, Eden Labs, and Medmen were there, but by and large this huge conference space was filled with fledgling entrepreneurs. There was something American about company CEO’s and President’s being the trade show representatives. It felt very old fashioned, a throwback before multi-national corporations took over the world through globalization, all that was missing was a big fat piece of mom’s apple pie. Nearly every business card collected had the title of an executive, CEO, or company President of nearly all of them. Very few companies had a true staff member as the trade show representative, which tells me two things:
(1) Market leadership is readily available in a variety of the ancillary service businesses.
(2) This industry is a salespersons’ dream, a place you can go to meet just about every decision maker in the industry without any gatekeepers.
The trade show floor featured various infrastructural type companies, everything from credit card processing, to POS software, grow lights, etc. All the things one would need to open a dispensary. An impromptu book signing took place on the conference floor as longtime cannabis guru Ed Rosenthal quietly signed away copies of his book as those in-the-know onlookers came by to say hello. The conference floor had tables separate from the vending for those looking to conduct business. Throughout the weekend, many meetings were held and many people looked to be laying the foundation for future industry growth.
One woman, Margie from the island of Kauai in Hawaii is a former liquor store owner of close to 40 years in the business. She is looking to relocate to the city of Honolulu and pursue opening a dispensary. Another man, David from California, by way of New York, a porn industry investor and longtime gaming industry stalwart claimed to be the recipient of 11 dispensary licenses in Long Beach and was looking for partners to open top notch dispensaries. Another man from Ontario, Canada was a consultant processing 57 dispensary applications for Canada’s emerging medical program.
I ran into many people over 60, many investing their hard earned savings just to be in this industry and make one last epic business run. As I surveyed the crowd you could tell it was a total mash up of those people you would expect to find at a Grateful Dead concert to people you would expect to find in the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company. People from all walks of life were there but the diversity was interesting to me. I did meet many white women at the various booths and throughout the conference, some employees, and few had an equity position that I spoke with. I met very few black and Hispanic women and few black men. I wonder whether the price of the event was a factor that excluded more diversity but out of the 2500+ attendees I’d say it was 85% white male dominant, 15% everyone else. This is an observation not based on any statistic; however I made it a point to take note of the demographics in all of my conversations. The reason I track demographics in this industry is due to the opportunity that is presented, a unique one, giving women and minorities a real chance to not only participate but shape an industry and become a factor in cultivating the culture.
The entire show was very professional overall, despite a few minor glitches, but when you have a show of that magnitude for the first time, growing pains are expected. The pains however, as far as I could see were more like paper cuts than flesh wounds..