Can Texas Build a Working Medical Cannabis Program in 2019?

This is the year Texas residents will find out whether lawmakers are ready to build Texas a viable medical cannabis program or whether the Lone Star State’s old-fashioned politics will limit patients’ access to effective medicine.

While the state Legislature passed a limited medical cannabis bill in 2015, hardly anyone in Texas can currently access the drug. Only registered patients with intractable epilepsy who have exhausted other treatment alternatives can purchase low-THC CBD oil–the only form of cannabis that’s legal in the state.

“The only people you’re keeping it out of their hands are law-abiding citizens.”

Texas Sen. Jose Menendez

Not only do the rules hamper patient access, they also prevent medical cannabis businesses from being viable. There simply aren’t enough registered patients to keep companies afloat.

“You need to create a marketplace that can function on its own, and not place the entirety of the cost of operating on a very small patient population,” explained Andrew Livingston, the director of economics and research at the cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg. “The prices are going to be so high and the availability is going to be so low that it’s just not going to be a functional marketplace for those patients you’re trying to serve.”

But there’s hope. After the 2017 legislative session produced some promising bills–but ultimately no new cannabis laws–lawmakers this session have introduced bills aimed at expanding the state program.

Legislation and Potential Impact

At the moment, there are two key medical cannabis bills to keep an eye on, one in the House and one in the Senate. Senate Bill 90 and House Bill 209 are companion bills authored by state Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) and state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City), respectively.

Both bills contain a clause that redefines “debilitating medical conditions,” expanding the ailments for which doctors could legally recommend medical cannabis.

The new list includes cancer, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and post-concussion syndrome, among others. It also carves out allowances for “chronic medical conditions” that produce “severe pain” or “severe nausea.”

As Livingston has written in the past, adding chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions can cause a medical cannabis market to explode:

Chronic pain affects tens of millions of Americans–roughly 11% to 17% of the population–and cannabis has shown to be an effective treatment for symptom relief. By comparison, epilepsy, another condition treated effectively with cannabis medicines, affects just 84 people out of 10,000, or 0.84% of the population.

Another piece of legislation, House Bill 73, introduced by Democratic Rep. Joe Moody, would remove criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of cannabis or associated paraphernalia, replacing criminal penalties with civil fines.

Motivation for Expansion

For Menendez, who authored the Senate medical cannabis bill, the push for expanded access to medical cannabis is personal. He said he watched his father-in-law fight a difficult battle with cancer, refusing to try medical cannabis because he didn’t want to break the law.

Menendez said his son, who was 13 at the time, had researched medical cannabis and suggested it could offer the lawmaker’s father-in-law some relief from pain and other symptoms.

“My father-in-law, who was a veteran and just a good person, a native of Oklahoma, just said ‘I don’t break the law,'” Menendez said. “He said, ‘I just don’t break the law, and I’m not gonna do it.'”

Menendez said he believes it’s wrong for legislators to continue blocking access to medical cannabis based on “social hang-ups” or things “we were taught when we were younger” about cannabis as a dangerously addictive gateway drug or a threat to social order.

“At the end of the day, kids are abusing their parents’ prescription narcotics,” Menendez said. “People who want to get stoned right now.”

“If you’re talking about marijuana control,” he added, “the only people you’re keeping it out of their hands are law-abiding citizens.”

Livingston said that if Texas truly prides itself on upholding conservative, free-market values, expanding medical cannabis access only makes sense.

“That mantra that underlies American business conservatism needs to apply to cannabis as it does to other markets,” Livingston said. “It provides consumers with a better product at a better price.”

Likely to Pass?

Texas has legislative sessions only every other year. That means progress on issues such as cannabis legalization can be a slow. It also means the stakes are higher when the Legislature is in session–especially for patients who need access to medical cannabis now.

Right off the bat, there will be a couple of potential obstacles. First, the Legislature still has many conservative members who fear backlash from constituents for supporting cannabis reform. Second, even if a bill makes it through the Legislature, Gov. Greg Abbott has signaled his reluctance to sign any legislation expanding the state’s medical cannabis program.

Menendez understands those obstacles, he said, and believes the best way to overcome them is to be straightforward.

“People need to realize that their voice and their opinions and their emails and their letters do make a difference.”

Rep. Menendez

“Ask them up front. Schedule a meeting. Ask them, ‘What can you live with?'” Menendez said. “‘If this gets to your desk, what would you be open to signing?'”

Past attempts to expand medical cannabis access have been focused on making the medical cannabis program more user-friendly for dispensaries, such as by easing regulations and simplifying the process for patients to get legal access. This time around, Menendez said, he wants to do everything he can to work within the existing framework to improve the program.

Despite the renewed push to expand medical cannabis in Texas, Menendez said that it will ultimately be up to citizens–especially Republicans–to contact their legislators and urge them to support the issue.

“Voters who identify as Republicans who agree–which I know there are many–we need to have them reach out to our elected officials and say, ‘Hey, I’m a Republican primary voter, and I need you to get on board with this. This is not a partisan issue. You’re way off base,'” he said. “People need to realize that their voice and their opinions and their emails and their letters do make a difference, and they need to get in front of these folks and show them the real stories.”

Texas’s 86th Legislature convened on Jan. 8. It will stay in session until May 27. If the efforts to expand medical cannabis fail, Texans will have to wait until 2021 for another opportunity.

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Senators Ask FDA to Update Rules on CBD Products

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s two senators on Tuesday urged the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to update federal regulations to permit interstate commerce of food products containing a key non-psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.

The appeal by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley came after Congress legalized the production and sale of industrial hemp and hemp derivatives, including cannabidiols, known as CBD. Wyden and Merkley had been behind a hemp provision that Congress passed and was included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

But after President Donald Trump signed the bill in December, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb restated his agency’s stance that CBD is a drug ingredient and therefore illegal to add to food or health products without his agency’s approval. The FDA has sent warning letters to some companies making health claims for CBD.

In a letter to Gottlieb, the senators asked the FDA to update “outdated regulations” that prohibit food products containing CBD from being sold across state lines.

“Farmers in Oregon and nationwide are poised to make real economic gains for their communities once these regulations are updated,” they wrote. They said it was Congress’ intent in the bill to ensure producers and consumers have access to hemp-derived products, including those that contain CBD.

The Oregon Democrats asked the agency to clarify to the public several issues, including its authority in the production and marketing of hemp and its derivatives, and whether the FDA will consider issuing a regulation to allow hemp derivatives in food, beverages or dietary supplements that cross state lines.

CBD oils are increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures and foods. Proponents say CBD offers health benefits, including relieving pain and anxiety.

Scientists note there have been few comprehensive clinical studies on how CBD affects humans. Harvard Medical School said the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating childhood epilepsy syndromes which typically don’t respond to anti-seizure medications. The FDA recently approved the first ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions which contains CBD. Studies suggest CBD may also help those with insomnia to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Hemp looks like marijuana but contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, the compound that gives pot its high. Both hemp and marijuana are species of cannabis.

Merkley and Wyden noted that the FDA is operating with limited staff due to the partial federal government shutdown and requested a response within 30 calendar days of the government reopening.

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Leafly’s Outdoor Cannabis Grower’s Calendar

Growing cannabis outdoors is easy. All you need is a nice open space that gets lots of light, a water supply, good soil, and a way to cover the plants when the weather turns.

One of the most important things to know is that cannabis is dependent on a photoperiod, meaning that it changes from the vegetative to flowering stage when days start to shorten and nights get longer. You want to time things right so that your plants can maximize their exposure to light during the summer before fall sets in.

Growing and harvest times here reflect ranges of time in the Northern Hemisphere. For more growing tips on specific regions, check out this guide on different climates.

Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

On the West Coast of North America alone, cannabis farmers in Northern California have a long season: They can put plants outside early and harvest later into the season because of the region’s relatively warm weather.
Washington state, on the other hand, will have a shorter time frame, as plants can’t be put outside until later in the season because there’s not enough sunlight yet, and the harvest needs to be completed earlier, before cold weather descends on buds and makes them wet and moldy.
Important Dates

The Spring Equinox is a good reminder that it’s time to kick off the outdoor growing process and start popping your seeds.

As the sun reaches up high in the sky, your cannabis will want to as well. Make sure all of your plants are outside around the Summer Solstice.

The weather will start to turn and the sun will begin descending as your plants fatten up with sweet, sticky buds. It might be tempting, but wait until around the Fall Equinox to start harvesting.

Everything should be cleaned up, dried, and curing well before the Winter Solstice. Now’s a good time to make your own cannabutter, topicals, or tinctures with all that trim from the harvest. Kick your feet up, relax, and hunker down for the cold, it’s been a long growing season!

Notes on Phases

We can’t stress enough that the time frames on this graphic are ranges of time in the Northern Hemisphere. You’ll need to adjust to them based on your specific region and local weather and climate.

Be sure to keep a grow journal to track the progress of your plants. Looking back on your notes will help you learn from mistakes and maximize the quality and quantity of your buds.

Take meticulous notes on when and how you perform each step, as well as what the weather is like. Other notes can include how much water you give plants, at what intervals, and how much nutrients you give them. Pictures will also give you a better sense of how your plants look along the way.

Germinate & Grow Indoors

It takes about 3-7 days to germinate a seed. A lot of growers will do this indoors because seeds are delicate and it’s easier to control the temperature and climate inside. But if you live in a warmer climate, by all means, start growing them from seed outside.

When you start growing your seeds depends partly on how big you want your plants to be for harvest. If you’re going for high yields, the earlier you grow your plants, the bigger they’ll be. But keep in mind that smaller plants are more manageable and easier to top and prune.

Sow & Move Outdoor

If you live in a warmer climate, you can go straight to planting outdoors. But if you grow your plants vegetatively indoors first, this is the time frame that you’d move your plants outside so they can get some serious sunlight.

Top Plants

You’ll want to top your plants a few times throughout the season, to encourage outward development and make your plants bush out. It’s a good idea to give them an initial top after the plant develops five nodes.

Additional topping can happen as needed, but you shouldn’t have to do any more into August, when plants will be well on their way to flowering.

Prune & Clean Up

This is something that needs to be done as-needed. You want to get rid of dead leaves and lower branches that won’t get light so that the plant can use that energy for producing buds elsewhere.

If you have a large crop, growers clean up their plants anywhere from 1-4 times during the season.


What kind of strain you have and what climate you live in will determine when to harvest your strains. Indicas grow stouter and bushier and there is more of a concern that their dense buds will get moldy, so they’re usually harvested on the early side of the season. Sativas are generally taller and less dense, so these can usually get harvested second.

Colder climates will need to finish their harvests earlier, for fear of cold weather setting in and molding out buds. Warmer climates can sometimes harvest well into November.

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Indoor vs. Greenhouse vs. Outdoor Cannabis: Which Should You Buy?

When it comes to which type of cannabis to buy, the common belief is: indoor = that fire, and outdoor = that garbage. But in reality, there’s no such thing as a “best” type of cannabia. Instead, the choice all comes down to consumer preference and a desired experience.

The Methods: Indoor, Greenhouse, and Outdoor

There are three main methods of growing cannabis: indoor, sun-grown with light deprivation (greenhouse), and full-term sun-grown (outdoor). Each has its advantages and disadvantages.


Growing cannabis indoors gives growers complete control of the entire production process, including room temperature and air circulation.

However, according to Bryan Gabriel, CEO of Washington’s Gabriel Cannabis, this advantage can turn against you. “If you get [toxins] in your grow room, it’s harder to get rid of because it’s contained in a little environment,” he told Leafly. “If we keep it clean, it’s a pro, because we can control [the airflow]. But if you’re not watching your CO2 levels and reading your plants, and if those plants start spitting out some toxins, this can lead to CO2 poisoning.”

Gabriel says another advantage is that some of the newer cannabis genetics grow better in indoor environments. With damn near every strain on the market being a hybrid nowadays, this could be the explanation behind why cannabis retailers prefer indoor cannabis over the others.


The second major method of growing cannabis is sun-grown with light deprivation, otherwise known as greenhouse. Light deprivation allows growers to block out the sun with tarps, tricking plants into flowering faster.

Growing with natural sunlight supports a full and natural terpene profile. Even if plants grow big and full under artificial lighting, the results will still be different from plants grown under true sunlight.

The greenhouse method also has less of an impact on earth’s natural resources. Sun-grown cannabis takes a lot less energy than all of those lights and fans used to power indoor growing, promoting sustainability by leaving a lot smaller of an ecological footprint.

Jeremy Moberg, CEO of Washington’s CannaSol, says that light deprivation produces the highest quality product with the least impact on the environment.

However, there are disadvantages to sun-grown cannabis, as growers have to work around the climate and season, while indoor growers can produce cannabis year-round.


Full-term outdoor growing is the most natural and least expensive way to grow cannabis. It takes no lights and no fans and no tarps, and only uses tents, sunlight, and soil. The obvious disadvantage of this method is that plants are exposed to the elements (environment, temperature, pests, etc.), which could have a detrimental effect on the quality of the flower.

However, when done correctly, Anders Taylor, CEO of Walden Cannabis, tells me, “As a point of fact, outdoor-produced flower will always enjoy a broader, more intense, more deeply penetrating spectrum of light. This advantage allows outdoor grown plants to more fully express their genetic potential.”

Which Should You Buy?

So, if there’s no “best” way to grow cannabis, it all comes to down your personal preference and sought-after experience.

When asked why consumers would choose indoor-grown cannabis over the alternatives, Gabriel says, “You have to be spraying [pesticides] on your plants outdoors, because there [are pests] outside. So if you compare indoor to outdoor, you would probably have a lot cleaner cannabis in general from an indoor grow just because of mold, spores, bugs, and things they have to spray [to protect the plant].”

Unlike fruit, which you can clean with water, anything sprayed on cannabis during flowering gets stuck to the trichomes. “I think that’s probably why the trichomes are a little more pronounced on an indoor grown,” says Gabriel.

For consumers who choose experience over everything, sun-grown cannabis with light deprivation may be the choice for you. “The sun does have different spectrums that indoor can’t really duplicate. It can feed off different terpenes or cannabinoids that enhance [plants] a little bit more, if someone does it the right way,” says Gabriel.

With a greater understanding that effects are most likely derived from terpene and cannabinoid profiles, cannabis consumers are turning to sun-grown cannabis.

“Whether it be called light-dep, sun-grown, or greenhouse, it is quickly becoming the educated consumers’ preference as they learn that light deprivation produces greater amounts of terpenes and cannabinoids. Light deprivation combined with living soils is, in my book, the best weed,” says Moberg of CannaSol.

For consumers who champion sustainability and environmental preservation over anything, the answer may be full-term outdoor cannabis, which is the most natural way of growing cannabis.

“Outdoor cannabis is best for citizens that care about our future,” says Taylor of Walden Cannabis. “Purchasing products made from outdoor-grown cannabis is the only way to support environmentally friendly cannabis production. Outdoor requires no energy for cooling, no energy to help plants photosynthesize, and we regenerate and recycle our nutrients.”

In addition to being the most sustainable cannabis option, full-term outdoor cannabis also tends to be much less expensive than the alternatives. This is not because it is trash, but instead, because full-term requires less overhead to produce, which allows growers to sell it for a lower price.

Still, we must acknowledge that not all full-term outdoor cannabis is created equal, as some is completely destroyed by outdoor elements. So if this is the choice for you, it’s best to find quality producers that have truly mastered the process of high-quality production.

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Getting High With Grandma: Passing Joints Through Generations

Every cannabis user has a stoner bucket list of people they’d like to burn one with before death. For some, it’s legendary stoners like Willie Nelson or Snoop Dogg. For others, it’s legendary public figures like Barack Obama or Kermit the Frog. For me, it’s the legendary family member that is my grandma.

And guess what? IT FINALLY HAPPENED.

Spark one up with your favorite people. Find dispensaries nearby.

The mother of my mother has been a cannabis user for as long as I can remember. I can still smell her bathroom, which was her chosen smoking venue of whenever the kids were around. When I started smoking in college, I made it a true goal of mine to smoke with my grandma one day.

If you ever have the chance to toke up with an elder member of your family, do that shit. It’ll be a memory you cherish forever.

However, in times where the opportunity arose, I was still too scared to bring the request to her front door. Something about telling the elders in your family that you like to get high–even though they do too–is pretty nerve-wracking.

Recently, I was with family in Las Vegas for my great uncle’s 50th birthday, and guess who was there? Yup, my grandma. Knowing for weeks that this trip was coming, I decided that it was now or never. Before meeting up with the whole family, I hit Reef Dispensaries (with my mom, actually) and scooped up a pre-roll of Sherbert. It was some gas.

Find Sherbert Near You

I head to my cousin’s house and try to scope out an opportunity to shoot my shot. It doesn’t come, but an opportunity to smoke with my uncle presents itself. He knows I smoke, so when he needs to make a store run for paper plates, he tells me to ride with him. I already know what’s going down.

We hotbox his Altima and go back inside.

Rolling With the Afterparty

As the night comes to a close, my family packs into the car and the first thing my grandma says is, “it smells like weed in here. Myron (uncle), you smoke weed in here?” He laughs, which prompts her to ask, “well shit, can I have some?”

Immediately, I knew this was my chance to achieve one of my greatest goals. I reach into my pocket and pull out the rest of the joint that my uncle and I put out, toss a flame to it, hit it a couple times, then pass it back to the mother of my mother. Grandma wasn’t ready for the gas that ya boy was bringing to the table, she coughed harder than I had ever seen before. She hits it a couple times and suddenly, I’m in a joint circle with my uncle and my grandma, whilst my parents sit right there next to us. It was the most beautiful bonding experience I’ve ever had.

What’s it Like Passing Joints With Family?

Incredible. Smoking with your grandma is an experience that’d blow any stoner’s mind. It instantly brings you closer since you find that even though you’re still her little baby, grandma now views you as an adult.

In addition to the bonding experience birthed from mutual respect, it’s also a learning experience. For me, I learned that through all these years, my grandma has been smoking mid. If she was smoking gas, she wouldn’t have almost coughed up both of her lungs. There was a period of her coughing where I legit was like, “yo, is my grandma about to cough herself into an early demise?” Was the high caliber of cannabis that I presented about to cause my grandma serious health issues? It truly was a mind-blowing experience, as well as a point of personal growth.

I got out of that Altima feeling like a whole new man … feeling like a king. So what was smoking with my grandma like? Everything I dreamed and more. If you ever have the chance to toke up with an elder member of your family, do that shit. It’ll be a memory you cherish forever.

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Canadian Chefs Share Which Cannabis Strains Add Extra Spice to Their Lives

Hungry Canadians are easily smitten by the latest food trends and all the delicious food porn dished out on Instagram. But if you ask anyone who has ever worked in a professional kitchen, the descriptions of what happens behind the scenes can be less than glamorous.

Each and every single day, it’s a chaotic shuffle to make and serve up beautiful dishes to hungry customers. And, for every professional chef at work, there’s no shortage of workplace hazards: physical injuries, non-stop shift work, lack of benefits including paid sick time, standing for 10 hours without breaks, and cramped kitchen spaces, just to name a few.

Many chefs, young and old, are often drawn to the demanding profession to create food that people desire but find themselves at a crossroads, for their mental and emotional health, when stuck in toxic kitchen environments.

This is why so many are turning to cannabis and the various products and strains available on the market to help with anxiety, as an appetite stimulant, and as a sleep aide.

We spoke to four Canadian chefs about their relationship to the plant and how it has changed their relationship to food.

Travis Petersen, Vancouver, BC

When Travis Petersen first appeared on TV screens in 2016 on MasterChef Canada, he had decided he needed a change in life. He was a business development manager in the oil and gas industry in Alberta and wanted to do something different and take a risk– filming MasterChef Canada was it.

When filming was over, he decided to follow his heart and become what is now known as The Nomad Cook, a private chef. “For the first two years, I traveled around the country doing private and pop up dinners,” but it wasn’t until he came back home that he decided he wanted to try his hand at something a bit different: cannabis-infused dinner.

As an avid cannabis smoker, who has used the plant for anxiety, he launched his first infused dinner for 4/20, serving 164 guests over four days, 10 people per seating.

While Petersen typically smokes after work, he finds he is drawn to smoking sativa strains but explains that since fully incorporating himself in the culinary world, he finds that distillate is the perfect sleep agent. Petersen shares “I tend to wake up a lot throughout the night and I found the right [dose] will help me sleep throughout the night, without me waking up the next day too cloudy.”

Right now, he believes the future of food and cannabis is really in CBD sharing, “I had the flu a couple of weeks ago and made myself chicken noodle soup, but I used a CBD-based broth and infused my noodles with THC, it helped me.”

Find Sativa Strains Near You

Ebeni Skinner, Prince Edward Island

Ebeni Skinner

Kitchen culture reigned supreme when Ebeni Skinner was growing up.

“Anytime there was a big get-together, there was always food around, […] laughter in the kitchen, and just like, good times no matter what.”

Although nobody in Skinner’s family worked in the hospitality industry, their passion for food inspired her to follow her own dream to pursue food and re-create that kitchen culture for others. She enrolled at The Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown where she was mentored and given hands-on training on the different standards for in the kitchen.

As a medical cannabis patient, Skinner typically uses the plant for her ADHD, which she’s had trouble with since a child. “As I got older and I started to learn the benefits of cannabis, I began to realize how helpful this could be and then I found the right strains for me,” she explains.

Before work, Skinner will smoke from a black and white glass bong named ‘Cruella Deville.’ She’s been really into smoking Gather from the Solei brand but prior to that, she exclusively smoked Girl Scout Cookies.

“When I have the right strain, it’s like I’m focused and my nerves are gone. I’ll just sit down, smoke a bowl and then after a little while, I’ll start to feel myself relax and able to focus again.” Right now, Skinner is working at Terre Rouge, which was named one of Canada’s top 100 restaurants in 2016.

Find Girl Scout Cookies Near You

John MacNeil, Calgary, AB

john macneil

Born and raised in Cape Breton, Nove Scotia, John MacNeil attributes his interest in food to his father who brought him to markets and local docks as a young boy, sharing with him an appreciation for local produce and the bounty of the sea.

Upon his graduation from school, he decided to pursue the culinary arts as his career path enrolling at The Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown. “I really found the passion of what food can be and the high-quality ingredients coming from Canada,” MacNeil professes. After graduation, he worked in kitchens in Calgary, Banff and Switzerland which he explains became “huge influences in my life and my cooking style”. Upon returning to Calgary, he began working in different kitchens and he also discovered the benefits of medical cannabis.

“After being on the line, you’re not really that hungry after work and I found myself sometimes not being able to really eat,” also noting that sometimes he’d be ready to turn his brain off for a bit, but would be hit with a wave of anxiety or a lack of sleep.

Under the advisement of a doctor, MacNeil applied for his Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) and has become what he calls a ‘novice grower’ with two to four plants growing at a time.

He admits, “Work can be very stressful when you’re doing [service for] anywhere between 50 to 100 people per night,” but something that he looks forward to is rolling a cone of the Jack Herer or DelaHaze sativa strain, while Pink Kush is his go-to for edibles.

His love of edibles helped him to develop a line of products, reTreat Edibles, which blends cannabis infused oil or concentrated oil from licensed producers with premium quality ingredients.

Find Jack Herer Near You

Lida Tuy, Toronto, ON

Lida Tuy

For as long as she can remember, Lida Tuy has been working in kitchens. All throughout high school, she worked in food service and loved the energy, so she decided to enroll in George Brown for Culinary Management.

While she’s only been cooking ‘professionally’ for five years, she feels like she has learned so much, not just about food but also, about herself as a person. As a medical cannabis patient, Tuy discovered that working in kitchens, “you have to numb yourself to that dull craving for food constantly, and it kind of gets a little frustrating because a lot of chefs don’t eat for the whole day because they have to dull that sensation of hunger, and you just have to get through your day.”

As a person who has struggled with anorexia, she found that cannabis pre- and post-work helped her with her appetite. Tuy will make a batch of cannabutter, which has been super helpful for her metabolism issues because of how slow it is to dose. “Since I don’t know when it’ll hit me, I’ll just feel the comfort or the relief.”

Currently, she works in hotel banquets and finds herself in the position of working long hours while pushing out 80-100 meals in a day. This rate can often lead to a lot of general body discomfort and pain, which Tuy shares strains like Blue Dream are super helpful with.

“The first time I got my prescription and went to a dispensary, the first strain that I saw on the list was Blue Dream, and I thought it just sounds cool. I smoked some, and I was having really bad back pain that day, and within five minutes of smoking this bong hit, I just was feeling such relief.” For Tuy, using the plant has helped her “feels almost like that rock is being taken off of my shoulder, it’s like it’s easier to breathe.”

Find Blue Dream Near You

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Barr Tells Senate He Won’t ‘Go After’ Cannabis Companies

At his opening Senate confirmation hearing today, former-and-possibly-future attorney general William Barr called the current state-federal standoff on cannabis legalization “untenable,” but stopped short of expressing any intent to disrupt state policies on the issue.

At times, Barr seemed like a man who’d emerged from a previous era.

Unlike his predecessor Jeff Sessions, who was never shy about his antipathy toward legalization, Barr downplayed any interest in solving the state-fed split or imposing federal will on the states. Though he disagrees with cannabis legalization, the nominee said he was not “going to go after companies that [relied] on the Cole Memorandum.”

Mueller, Mueller, Mueller…

After a morning full of questions about the Robert Mueller investigation, Barr faced more traditional law-and-order queries from Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) on Tuesday afternoon. Booker has long been an unabashed leader on cannabis policy, and Harris has more recently aligned with her state’s legalized stance.

Trump’s nominee doesn’t want to ‘upset settled expectations’ on cannabis, he said.

Booker asked for Barr’s opinion on the Cole Memorandum, the Justice Department cannabis policy guidance that Sessions rescinded in Jan. 2017. Should federal resources be used, he wondered, to interfere with states’ legal medical and adult use cannabis operations?

Barr said he had no intention of using federal powers to destabilize businesses relying on the memo. “My approach to this would be not to upset settled expectations and the reliance interests that have arisen as a result of the Cole memoranda,” Barr said. “Investments have been made, so I don’t think it’s appropriate to upset those interests.”

He stopped short of calling for federal legalization as a solution to the state-federal split on the issue. Going that far, he said, would be “a mistake.”

On Criminal Justice Reform

Booker pressed Barr on his understanding of systemic racial inequality in American justice. Barr agreed to look at the latest data on racial disparities in incarceration and, after some pressing from Booker, to have a “heart-to-heart” discussion in the senator’s office, as he had done with other committee members.

Barr similarly seemed to promise to follow up on other issues he wants more time to consider. Earlier in the day, after being pressed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on ballooning civil asset forfeiture practices in the United States, Barr expressed some willingness to pick up Sessions’ guidance on reigning in the practice. However, Barr also emphasized his awareness that law enforcement often considers it a “valuable tool” for self-equipping.

Reforms Will Go Through

In response to questions from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Barr said that he would indeed implement the criminal justice reforms passed by Congress late last year, which include lowering mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. In response to Grassley and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), who sought similar assurances, he also offered explanations from his time in the Justice Department three decades ago as the reason why he has been against such reforms. In 1992, in fact, Barr wrote an influential policy report titled “The Case for More Incarceration.”

Barr described the impact of the crack epidemic on urban America as “like nuclear weapons,” and suggested that fentanyl and its analogues are “kind of the new crack.” He also suggested that today, as in the 1990s, the “head of the snake” exists outside the country–namely China via the Mexican-American border for fentanyl-type drugs.

During a series of lecture-like responses about the 1990s and the call from local communities to combat violent gangs, both Booker and Harris assured Barr that they recalled being young black people at the time, and knew what that enforcement felt like. Booker also pushed back on some of Barr’s language, stating that the use of such “tropes” about inner-city violence made him “worried and concerned.”

After one round of bipartisan grilling, it remained unclear how Barr would treat cannabis and criminal justice issues going forward, or how long it will take for him to catch up–as he repeatedly expressed interest in doing–on American politics lately.

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A Guide to Buying Cannabis Seeds

The beginning of the new year is a great time to start planning your cannabis garden and get a head start on the outdoor grow season, which roughly runs from March to November. Navigating the cannabis seed market can be challenging when states have different degrees of legality and with some great genetics produced overseas. This guide will answer your questions on buying seeds so you can be on your way to growing your own cannabis.

To learn more about seeds in general, check out Leafly’s article on cannabis seed basics.

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(Courtesy of Humboldt Seed Co./Nugshots

Cannabis seeds are considered cannabis products just like flower, edibles, and concentrates. Their legality depends on which state you live in. People living in states with adult-use legalization can buy, produce, and sell seeds within their own state, but seeds can’t cross state lines. People living in states with medical legalization can only buy seeds if they have a medical card.

Seed companies in other countries are only allowed to sell to people in the US for “souvenir purposes only” because of US laws. A lot of people buy seeds this way, but US Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person.

How & Where Do I Buy Seeds?

Many world-renowned seed banks are overseas in the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, and other countries where cannabis laws are less restricted. Seed banks provide seeds from a variety of different breeders. You can buy their seeds online, but again, US Customs can seize any cannabis products that they find.

In states with adult-use legalization, you can buy seeds within your own state, either at a dispensary or through a specific seed company’s website.

Buying Cannabis Seeds Online

Before you purchase seeds online, you’ll need to figure out what strain you want to grow and what breeder you want to buy from.

Because US federal law still prohibits cannabis, it can be hard to find information on seed banks and breeders. Breeders who have a long history and positive reputation are usually a good place to start. To get an idea of what well-established breeders look like, check out:

You can also do some research and find an online grow journal that details the whole growing process of a specific strain from a particular breeder. Through these, you’ll be able to look over another grower’s specific notes and see pictures of the final results.

If you grow some seeds and like the results, try growing another strain from that same breeder and see how it goes.

Shopping at the Dispensary

Although this option is only available to people living in states with medical and adult-use legalization, buying seeds at the dispensary is far more straightforward. However, your options are more limited.

Dispensary staff should be able to give you information on the seeds they’re selling, but keep in mind that a lot of dispensaries focus on selling flower and end-products. It’s a good idea to call ahead and talk to staff to see if they are knowledgeable about seeds and can give you specific information on growing.

Get in Touch With a Nearby Dispensary

How Do I Know If I’m Getting Quality Genetics?

(Sunshine Seeds/iStock)

Breeders talk about “unstable genetics,” meaning that a seed’s origin is unknown. Make sure that when you buy a packet of seeds that it or the breeder who produced them can list where the seeds came from and how they were crossed and/or backcrossed to get the seed that you hold in your hand. If you can’t get a seed’s history, it could be anything and the results of poor breeding practices.

An inexperienced breeder might cross a male and a female one time and sell the resulting seeds as a new hybrid strain, but professional breeders usually put their strains through several rounds of backcrossing to stabilize the genetics and ensure consistent plants that reflect those genetics.

What’s the Difference Between Regular, Feminized, and Autoflower Seeds?

Regular Seeds

If you buy a packet of regular seeds, they’ll come with a mix of males and females. A lot of cultivators prefer to grow these because they haven’t been backcrossed–essentially inbred–as much as feminized or autoflower seeds. You’ll need to sex out the seeds once their reproductive organs show during the flowering phase and discard the males (because they don’t produce buds and will pollenate females, resulting in seeded flowers).

Feminized Seeds

Seeds can come feminized, meaning that you can just put them in soil and start growing for buds. These seeds are guaranteed to be bud-producing females, and growing them cuts out the step of having to sex out plants and discard the males.

It also reduces the risk of having a stray male sneak into your crop–just one male can pollinate a huge crop, causing your females to focus their energies on producing seeds instead of buds.

Autoflower Seeds

Autoflower plants change from the vegetative to flowering state with age, not the changing of their light cycle. They have a short grow-to-harvest time and can be ready to harvest in as little as 2 1/2 to 3 months from when you put the seeds in the ground. The downside is that, typically, they are less potent, but autoflower seeds are great for people who want to grow cannabis but don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it.

How Much Do Seeds Cost?

Cannabis seeds usually come in a pack of 10 or 12 seeds and start at around $40 a pack and go up from there. Some high-end genetics can run between $200 to $500 a pack.

Feminized and autoflower seeds will cost more because more breeding work was put in to creating them and they take less time for the grower to get buds.

How Many Seeds Should I Buy? Are They All Going to Survive?


When you grow any amount of seeds, a percentage of them won’t germinate, even if you get them from a reputable breeder. Always count on having a few not germinate or die off, or roughly 2-4 times the total you put in the ground.

When growing regular seeds, some won’t germinate and some will have to be discarded because they’ll turn out to be males. With feminized and autoflower seeds, some won’t germinate, but a higher percentage of them will turn into flowering plants.

If you want six total cannabis plants to harvest for buds, when growing regular seeds, start with about 4 times as many, or 24 seeds. Some won’t germinate and some will turn out to be males, and then you’ll want to discard down to the six best phenotypes. If growing feminized or autoflower seeds, start with about twice as many seeds (about 12) in case a couple don’t germinate, and then discard down to the six best phenotypes.

Make sure to always stay within your state’s legal limit of growing plants.

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Welcome to the Country’s First Cannabis Speakeasy

As diverse a group as we are, it’s safe to say that almost all cannabis smokers have a common dream: to see cannabis integrated into the public spaces of our everyday lives. And while a few states like Oregon are currently leading the way when it comes to offering space for cannabis public consumption, it surprises no one that Nevada’s already broken through the glass ceiling.

Having legalized cannabis on July 1st, 2017, the state has already generated $55.53 million in tax collections since recreational sales began. It’s also the home of the biggest dispensary in the world (the 112,000 square foot Planet 13) and is now also home to the world’s first cannabis “speakeasy.”

“When we decided to create this experience in our dispensary, we wanted to offer a safe and comfortable place for consumers to learn about product offerings.”

Ed Bernstein, Co-founder of Las Vegas ReLeaf

Named Dana’s Place, it sits snugly inside the Las Vegas ReLeaf Dispensary–500 feet off the Strip. The story behind the name is sure to tug a heartstring or two: Named for the late Dana Bernstein, the daughter of Las Vegas ReLeaf co-founder Ed Bernstein, who succumbed to a lifelong struggle with Crohn’s disease in 2017.

“Dana was an inspiration for us when we first opened Las Vegas ReLeaf. She found comfort in medical cannabis, as it eased her painful symptoms,” said Ed. “When we decided to create this experience in our dispensary, we wanted to offer a safe and comfortable place for consumers to learn about product offerings. And naming the space after Dana was a natural way for her legacy to live on.”

Having only just opened on December 10th, the speakeasy is small but cozy. It straddles the area between reception and sales floor, looking like a friendly bar in every respect. A tap handle pours out Cannabiniers’ Two Roots beers, with several brews (IPA, blonde, lager, wheat) available.

Each “beer” contains less than 0.5% of alcohol, with 5mg of THC per can. Individual cans are priced at $8, with a 6-pack going for $37-40 after tax. It’s the first of several Cannabiniers tasting bars that’ll crop up throughout dispensaries across the country, all of which will showcase the Two Roots Brewing line.

(Courtesy of Dana’s Place)

The beers themselves taste more or less identical to their non-infused counterparts. That’s probably because the beers are imported from California and infused with THC on-site, ensuring consistency in every beer. A few shelves hold other cannabis merch, including Just Society cold brew coffees and BASKiN health and beauty products, with the hopes of adding on other items like the Creative Waters Beverage Company “mocktails” at a later point in time.

It’s a promising step forward in the fight for public consumption, one I hope other states will be inspired by. Grabbing a cannabis beer before sauntering over to the counter for a joint is definitely the best way to spend an evening in Vegas.

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Denver Unveils New System for Clearing Cannabis Convictions

DENVER (AP) — A simplified program will make it easier for thousands of people to seek the elimination of low-level marijuana convictions that occurred in Denver before recreational use became legal in Colorado, officials said Wednesday.

Mayor Michael Hancock said the change “is about equity for our communities of color and individuals who were disproportionately impacted by low-level marijuana convictions that are no longer crimes in Colorado.”

Based on a review of digitized court records between 2001 and 2013, Denver officials have estimated 10,000 convictions could be eligible.

The new program requires people seeking help clearing their convictions to fill out an online form or attend an event. Prosecutors working for the district attorney or city attorney will then seek court approval to dismiss the convictions and seal court records.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann called the effort a matter of “justice and fairness.”

Colorado was among the first states to broadly allow the sale and adult use of marijuana in 2014, but cities elsewhere have led the way on automatic expungement of past convictions.

Seattle, San Francisco and some prosecutors in New York City last year rolled out programs to toss hundreds of marijuana convictions, saying now-legal activity should not bar people from getting jobs or finding housing.

States also have sought solutions to the problem. Washington state’s governor announced this month that he would pardon thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession, and Michigan’s governor has said she would consider a similar approach.

California has a new law requiring the state Department of Justice to provide lists of marijuana convictions eligible for erasure or reduction to local prosecutors.

Colorado currently allows people to petition courts to remove marijuana offenses, including possession, from their records. Advocates have criticized that approach because it puts the onus on people with convictions and can become expensive and time consuming.

Denver officials said Colorado law doesn’t allow them to take the kind of sweeping action used in other cities. So they said they decided to make the state’s process of petitioning courts easier for people who want to eliminate convictions.

Denver’s new program still requires people to take the first step toward clearing their records, either by filling out a form online or attending an event set up by the city.

The Denver district attorney or city attorney will then seek court approval for the convictions to be eliminated and follow up with state agencies to make sure records used by employers, landlords and others during background checks have been updated.

Most people will not be required to pay anything to have their convictions eliminated. The Marijuana Industry Group that represents growers, sellers and other sector businesses is helping cover court fees.

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‘Better Than Ever’ Cannabis Coalition Hits the Ground Running

In a call with reporters after November’s midterm election, US Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) predicted that 2019 would be a big year for cannabis. “The incoming Congress will be better than ever,” he said on a Nov. 7 conference call. “I think that we will continue to see more bipartisan progress.”

“It’s good to be back with Rep. Blumenauer, showing that bipartisanship can still shine.”

US Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH)

On Wednesday, Blumenauer revealed the lawmakers who will lead the charge in the nation’s capital, announcing the latest co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. The group, co-founded by Blumenauer in 2017, aims to update the nation’s drug laws to accommodate state-legal cannabis.

“The Cannabis Caucus was the first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws,” Blumenauer said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Congress is clearly out of step with the American people on cannabis when national support for federal marijuana legalization is at an all-time high and we saw several states move toward legalization last November.”

The new co-chairs are bipartisan and represent both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis states. They are US Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Dave Joyce (R-OH), and Don Young (R-AK).

“Our movement is cresting,” Blumenauer said. “I’m looking forward to working alongside Reps. Lee, Joyce and Young to build on the bipartisan work we’ve done to end the senseless federal prohibition on marijuana once and for all.”

A number of cannabis reform bills have already been introduced in Congress. Among them is the STATES Act, which would exempt legal-cannabis states from federal cannabis law enforcement. It’s currently seen as the leading effort to end prohibition in the US.

But on Wednesday, Blumenauer also announced the introduction of another piece of legislation–the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act–that would remove cannabis completely from the federal Controlled Substances Act. The bill is conveniently numbered H.R. 420. (“While the bill number may be a bit tongue in cheek,” Blumenauer noted in a press release, “the issue is very serious.”)

“We must work to build an industry that is equitable and inclusive of the communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition.”

US Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)

The new Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs represent a range of bipartisan interests and views around cannabis. Two of the newly appointed leaders, Lee and Young, hail from states that already have legal adult-use cannabis programs. Joyce, meanwhile, is from Ohio, which legalized medical cannabis in 2016 and is still working to get its program fully operational. Sales there are expected to start in the coming weeks.

Lee, of California, also becomes the first woman of color to co-chair the caucus. In a statement, she highlighted the need to ensure the legalization movement benefits more than just wealthy white businessmen.

“For far too long, communities of color and women have been left out of the conversation on cannabis. I am committed to ensuring that marijuana reform goes hand-in-hand with criminal justice reform so we can repair some of the harm of the failed War on Drugs,” she said. “We must also work to build an industry that is equitable and inclusive of the communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition.”

At a time when Washington, DC, is divided on partisan lines, the co-chairs stressed that cannabis reform is popular among Americans of vastly different ideologies, backgrounds, and beliefs.

“It’s good to be back with Rep. Blumenauer,” Joyce said, “showing that bipartisanship can still shine.”

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5 Ways the Cannabis Industry Has Matured

The legal cannabis industry has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, and it continues to improve each day. And with legality comes maturity–today’s world of weed is a far cry from that of yesteryear: there have been exponential improvements to the way we view cannabis, purchase cannabis, and live a cannabis lifestyle.

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Legalization has brought maturity, innovation, professionalism, and credibility to cannabis. Below, delve into five ways the industry has grown up.

Packaging That Appeals to Adults

Part of being taken seriously as a brand means paying attention to packaging, logos, and product design. With the cannabis industry belonging to adults 21 and over, it makes sense that brands within the industry would want to appeal to those looking for reputable products. At the end of the day, a package with a unique logo and sleek design says “credible” more than one that has a lackluster or juvenile look.

Companies have always strived to have their logos and brands be household names, and the cannabis industry is no different. Legal states can find professional products carving out their space in dispensaries with recognizable and well-designed looks aimed to make consumers feel confident in choosing their product.

Dispensaries Care About Interior Design

Stepping into a dispensary should feel like stepping into a professional establishment, not a shabby parlor or dealer’s den. Business owners want to be taken seriously, so they are putting in the effort by hiring interior designers and local artists to create beautiful and welcoming spaces for their clients. The result is well-established dispensaries, beautiful enough to catch the eye, and functional enough to cater to high-volumes of new and repeat customers.

Cannabinoids Have More Validity Than Indica/Sativa

Back in the day, one of the few ways to judge a strain was to ask, “indica or sativa?” We’ve come a long way since then. While indica/sativa labels can be a mildly helpful way to determine how a strain will affect you, it is ultimately a flawed classification that doesn’t compare to exact cannabinoid percentages and ratios.

It’s one thing to know that Blue Dream is a hybrid, it’s another to know your strain of Blue Dream has 24% THC, 0.2% CBD, and 0.01% THCV. Today, as the science has deepened, people can find these specifics in dispensaries across the nation. Approaching cannabis–medical or recreational–with scientific knowledge and understanding, vastly improves consumer’s experience and lends validity to the industry, which we can all benefit from.

Sexy Nurses Are Out, Legitimate Cannabis Doctors Are In

Scantily clad “nurses” in weed-themed apparel were not an uncommon sight in magazines and events just a few years ago and phasing out this old icon is certainly a sign of the industry taking itself more seriously. Instead of fake nurses, the cannabis industry has medical marijuana MDs at the forefront in interviews, events, and in doctor offices near you.

In addition, promoters advertising events, or editors picking their cover photos, are more often choosing to forego cheap gimmicks and instead put the spotlight on everyone’s favorite flower and all her lovely trichomes–which is exactly where the attention should be.

It’s Time to Shine for Organic and Healthy Edibles

The world of edibles has come a long way from cookies, brownies, and gummies. Sure, these products still exist and are available at any time to soothe a sweet tooth, but with maturity comes knowing when to opt for candy and when to choose something healthy. After all, for many, edibles are medication.

Many brands are now choosing healthier ingredients, and it’s even possible to find options for those who prefer organic, gluten-free, or vegan eats. There will always be room in our hearts for the classic pot brownie, but having healthier options goes to show how the industry is growing to cater to a wide range of people and dietary needs.

What other ways have you seen the industry mature? Let us know in the comments.

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