Tag: Industry

At the Trichome Institute, Students Learn to Predict Cannabis Effects by Aroma

Is Interpening Legit, or Just Difficult?

When students reach Level 2 of the interpening program, they must take a test in which they plot anonymous strains on the indica to sativa spectrum using only their nose–and only about 10 percent of exam takers will pass and achieve their interpening certification. But is the test really that difficult, or is there a problem with the method?

“If there are distinctions between available cannabis ‘strains,’ such phenomena are most likely related to relative terpenoid contents and ratios.”

Dr. Ethan Russo

“I’m super confident in basing strain classification on aroma. I’m 100% solid on that,” Montrose told Leafly. “What I also respect is how hybridized these flower types are.”

Cannabis can contain more than 200 different terpenes, some of which deliver more intense aromas than others.

“Let’s say 150 of them are more sedative terpenes, but you still pick out that strong citrus note because it’s sharp, it’s strong, and you’re familiar with it,” Montrose said. “But maybe there are many more terpenes that have a pharmacy of being more sedative.” In this way, interpening can sometimes be incredibly difficult for the initiate.

Arizona resident Kiley Kane uses a flashlight to observe a flower during a sommelier class at SOHI Art Gallery in Denver, CO. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

“Someone else besides me will need to design a test to prove this theory,” Montrose said, when asked how interpening will be fact checked in the future. He mentions using neurological studies someday to bring empirical evidence to the correlations.

Research on cannabis terpenes is already on the rise, thanks in large part to neurologist and psychopharmacologist, Ethan Russo. “If, as many consumers and experts maintain, there are biochemical, pharmacological, and phenomenological distinctions between available cannabis ‘strains,’ such phenomena are most likely related to relative terpenoid contents and ratios,” Russo stated in a paper titled “Taming THC.”

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THC and CBD cannot be solely responsible for all the nuanced effects of cannabis flower, and as educated consumers shift their thinking towards terpenes, it makes sense to teach and engage practices such as interpening.

Montrose gives the example of Banana Kush and Golden Goat, two strains he found with identical cannabinoid profiles. “They were both 22% THC, 1.5% CBD, and 0.5% CBN,” he said. “So why does one flower make you feel like you can clean your whole house while the other makes you feel like you can’t lift a pinky? What’s the difference if their cannabinoids are identical? It’s terpenes. And terpenes are complex.”

Interpening in a Rapidly Changing Industry

Trichome Institute sales and operations manager Rollie Hermoso points out different aspects of a flower during a sommelier class at SOHI Art Gallery in Denver, CO. (Daniel Brenner for Leafly)

While appreciating the nuances of cannabis aroma could be as much of a hobby as coffee, beer, or wine tasting, interpening serves purposes beyond enjoyment or bragging rights. It allows patients and consumers to be more confident in their selection of a product–a product whose label often lacks the real information they need.

“Interpening is important for people today because it helps them select what they are getting in a time period where that’s a challenge in our industry,” Montrose said.

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Budtender Resource: How to Help Your Patients Choose the Right Strain

Even in legal, regulated states where lab testing is mandated, consumers typically only know:

  • The strain’s name, according to the grower
  • Its indica, sativa, or hybrid classification, according to the grower
  • The cannabinoid content (THC, CBD, etc.)

It’s become commonplace to rely on just a single facet of a product, such as THC percentage or strain name. For many consumers, that’s enough, especially if they aren’t insistent on a particular experience or therapeutic benefit.

But Montrose thinks we can do better for the wide variety of consumers that exist, like the insomniacs who need to know they’ll be able to sleep at night. The novice consumer looking for a relaxed first time experience. The person treating depression who requires a stimulating strain to stay up and out of bed. We can do better for anyone who just wants more out of their experience, because the world of cannabis is an ever-expanding playground if we take the time to learn more about it.

“Even if you’ve smoked cannabis for 10 years, it still isn’t anywhere close to what you think it is,” Montrose said. “There’s so much more to know about it.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Washington Budtender Abducted, Still Missing

A well-known budtender from a Eastern Washington cannabis dispensary remains missing this week after being abducted outside the shop Sunday afternoon.

The abduction of Cameron Smith from the Lucid retail store in Cheney, just outside the city of Spokane, has rocked the local cannabis community.

Cameron Smith, who works at Lucid as a budtender, was abducted outside of the dispensary Sunday, Sept. 10, in Cheney, Wash. He is a father of two and a strong advocate for cannabis. (Sofia Jaramillo for Leafly)

According to Dennis Turner, Lucid’s co-owner and Smith’s brother, the encounter started off simply enough.

Two women and one man pulled up to the dispensary in a white Ford F-250 truck, he told Leafly. Turner recalled that one of the female suspects appeared to be watching the dispensary intently. “It looked like she was casing the building, checking out the video cameras, and walking around the building,” he said.

Cameron Smith, pictured left (courtesy of Lucid’s Facebook profile).

The male suspect and one woman attempted to enter the dispensary, but when asked for identification, the male could not provide his ID, saying he had left it behind in Yakima, a city located about 190 miles west of Cheney, Turner said. He was subsequently denied entrance. The woman produced identification that showed her year of birth as 1999, Turner said. “She wasn’t in compliance and she was rejected from the shop.”

A sign dedicated to Cameron Smith sits on a chair outside of Lucid in Cheney, Wash., Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Smith, who works at Lucid as a budtender, went missing Sunday, Sept. 10, after being abducted outside of the dispensary. (Sofia Jaramillo for Leafly)

“Our brother, Cam, was working as lead budtender—he’s everyone’s favorite budtender,” Turner told Leafly. “On lunch, he likes to sit in his car and listen to his music while he eats.”

Smith, the 46-year-old barber-turned-budtender from Toledo, Ohio, exited his car for a moment and walked right past the male suspect. He then returned to his vehicle, a 2008 silver Acura SUV, to finish his lunch.

“The gentleman pulled up to Cam’s car and it appeared there was a verbal exchange between them,” Turner explained, referring to video surveillance footage that captured the moment between the two men. “At that point, the dude pulled a gun out and fired two shots into the car. It knocked out the back window. He jumped into the driver’s seat and took off with Cam still in the car.”

The two accompanying women took off in the white Ford truck, which was later reported stolen from the White Swan area of Yakima County.

A poster board is filled with notes to Cameron Smith from community members and friends at Lucid in Cheney, WA, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. “Everyone knew Cam. Even if they didn’t partake in marijuana they appreciated him and they got to know him for who he was,” said store manager Stacia Shirley. (Sofia Jaramillo for Leafly)

“We haven’t seen or heard from him since,” said Turner.

The Cheney Police Department responded to requests saying they have warrants out for two individuals, but neither are currently in custody. Law enforcement have identified the male suspect as Donavon Culps and the woman as his 18-year-old niece, Violetta Culps, both from the White Swan area of Yakima.

Store manager Stacia Shirley holds a picture of Cameron Smith at an office near Lucid in Cheney, Wash., Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Smith, who works at Lucid as a budtender, went missing Sunday, Sept. 10, after being abducted outside of the dispensary. “He got along with everybody and he had such a positive presence. There was no way you couldn’t love that man,” said Shirley. (Sofia Jaramillo for Leafly)

The case has expanded to include the nearby Spokane Police Department, Yakama Tribal Police, and the FBI.

Efforts were made to ping Smith’s cell phone, but the signal was lost near Medical Lake, at which point authorities believe the suspect threw Smith’s phone out the window.

Signs and candles are set up outside of Lucid in Cheney, Wash., Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. “He embodied Lucid. He loved everybody in this company. He was a light in the shop. When you walk in he was the first thing you seen,” said Smith’s brother Dennis Turner. (Sofia Jaramillo for Leafly)

“They’re treating it as a kidnapping and potential homicide,” Turner said. “This guy has an extensive criminal background.”

The team at Lucid Marijuana has not given up hope. The group planned a vigil seeking Smith’s safe return, and law enforcement has been using all resources to bring him home. There’s been an outpouring of support local community members on social media, as Smith is well-known and well-loved within the small town of Cheney.

A site dedicated to Cameron Smith is set up inside the Lucid store in Cheney, Wash., Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. (Sofia Jaramillo for Leafly)

“They put out an APB [all-points bulletin] on his vehicle,” Turner said. “They’ve got helicopters searching, they’ve got the dogs out.”

A Cheney Police Department spokesperson told Leafly on Tuesday that Smith’s vehicle had been located in Airway Heights near Medical Lake, which is where authorities last made contact with Smith’s cell phone.

“The Washington state crime lab is still processing the scene,” Cheney PD reported. “We still have not located the victim.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

What’s the Future of Ethanol Extraction?

This article is sponsored by Capna Fabrications. Capna Fabrications is an industry-leading extraction equipment manufacturer and research facility based in southern California whose mission is to research and develop safe, innovative ethanol extraction technologies for the cannabis industry.


Ethanol is a tried and true solvent that’s been used for centuries to craft tinctures, essential oils, and similar substances. In modern times, this lab-grade alcohol is still among the most commonly deployed solvents, used in products from food flavorings to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil. That latter use is no accident, said Gene Galyuk, chief development officer at Capna Fabrications.

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

“Rick Simpson designed his method around ethanol because he knew that the residual solvent in his medicinal oil would not adversely affect the consumer,” Galyuk said. “He also knew that ethanol was very aggressive at extracting all of the essential constituents in cannabis.”

Today, though the solvent remains the same, new technologies and processes are helping to unlock its true potential.

Ethanol Catches Up

While ethanol is a time-tested solvent, the industry standard today is to use butane or CO2 to create extracts like oil for vape cartridges. But next-generation tools are making food-grade alcohol an increasingly attractive extraction option by turning what has been seen as a weakness of ethanol into a strength.

In recent years, some have viewed ethanol’s structure as a strike against its potential as a solvent. Ethanol molecules have polar and nonpolar ends, making them able to bond with different kinds of molecules on either side. That means that while ethanol draws cannabinoids and terpenes out of the plants, it also brings other players along for the ride.

“There are aldahydes, esthers, ethyls, ketones, and a range of other chemicals that make up the full spectrum of beneficial compounds in cannabis,” said Capna’s principal chemist Erwin Sibal. “Because of the dual role ethanol plays as a solvent, it is capable of extracting the whole of the plant better than any hydrocarbon or CO2.”

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

The downside of a whole-plant oil? It can often look like the whole plant is in there. Ethanol extractions have long had a reputation as being murkier than some of their counterparts crafted by other means, a side effect of molecules like chlorophyll that were extracted along with the cannabinoids.

The Next Generation

New ethanol extraction technologies, though, are placing this traditional solvent in the same sphere as popular extractors like butane and CO2. A system like the Ethos 4 by Capna Labs can draw 98.5% of the THC from a batch of cannabis, while also leaving the extract fully dewaxed and devoid of chlorophyll. The result is a rich golden hue unlike previous ethanol extracts that still maintains the essential oils and flavonoids found in cannabis flower.

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

Operating at cryo temperatures (that’s really, really, really cold), the Ethos system works by spraying cannabis with 200-proof ethanol at freezing temperatures. After several re-circulations over the material, negative pressure transfers the resulting solution to a collection chamber where additional impurities are removed by micron filtration.

This super-cold, low-pressure means of extraction allows users to skip time-consuming processes like dewaxing and winterization and makes it possible to process up to 48 pounds of plant material in just one eight-hour shift. It’s not just fast, though—the closed loop of ethanol extraction makes it a safe bet as well.

“Fire marshals love the design of the Ethos,” said Galyuk, “It prevents any solvent or flammable vapor from ever exiting the system or venting into the extraction room where the system operates.”

Ready for Prime Time

Galyuk and his team were initially using a carbon dioxide-based system to craft cannabis extracts. After a few months, though, they got tired of using ethanol to dewax the resulting product. If they were going to have to keep ethanol on-hand anyway, why not try to develop a process that improved on the ways that solvent had been used previously?

Capna’s first few months of working to develop a new ethanol-based extraction system were marked by just enough successes to make the failures all the more frustrating. “For a very long time, we could not replicate our results,” said Galyuk. “Sometimes we would get a solution that was pristine yellow, and other times we would get a solution that was green and obviously contaminated with chlorophyll.”

After about six months of research and development, Capna’s ethanol extractors were fine-tuned and producing a uniform amber extract on every run, letting them focus on automating the process to minimize the potential for human error. Further improvements lowered ethanol consumption, improved system cooling, and minimized the number of electrical components operating near solvents. Years later, the “proof of concept” system for the Ethos extraction technique is still running strong at Capna’s southern California production facility.

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

Once the system was working at full bore, it was intended for internal use only—Ethos-type systems have been the force behind Capna’s extracts. Now, the same technology is being made available to other producers

“Going to market was a hard decision to make, as it was never our intent for these machines,” said Capna Fabrications CEO Vitaly Mekk. “But we know we have something unique, and it makes us very proud to be at the forefront of an industry that, in our opinion, could benefit from our technology.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Hawaii Says It’s 1st State to Go Cashless for Cannabis Sales

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii said Tuesday that it will be the first state to require marijuana sales to be handled without cash, saying it wanted to avoid robberies and other crimes targeting dispensaries.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii won’t be allowed to accept cash beginning Oct. 1 and will require people to use a debit payment app instead. The app is already an option for marijuana transactions in six states, including California and Colorado.

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Many marijuana businesses use cash because banks fear cannabis money could expose them to legal trouble from the U.S. government, which regulates banking and still bans marijuana.

The debit app called CanPay uses a Colorado-based credit union to facilitate transactions. Some mainland credit unions have opened accounts for cannabis businesses.

Hawaii was among the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2000 but the state didn’t grant licenses to any dispensaries until last year. Maui Grown Therapies became the first to open last month after the state Department of Health gave it approval to begin sales.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued guidelines to help banks avoid federal prosecution when dealing with cannabis businesses in states where the drug is legal.

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But most banks don’t see those rules as a shield against charges that could include aiding drug trafficking. And they say the rules are difficult to follow, placing the burden on banks to determine if a cannabis business is operating within the law.

There is also uncertainty over how the Trump administration will react. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he wants to crack down on the legal marijuana industry.

Credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard say they won’t allow their cards to be used to buy cannabis or marijuana-related products.

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Patients who don’t own smartphones will have to create CanPay accounts with an email address and personal identification number. Patients will be able buy cannabis by logging on to their accounts with computer tablets at the dispensaries.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Nevada Legalization Is Changing the Las Vegas Scene. Could Consumption Lounges Be Next?

Nevada’s legalization has changed the entire tourism industry in Las Vegas. Ever since legal cannabis made its debut on July 1, tourists have been flocking to the dispensaries for a chance to sample the newly regulated green herbs. With a renewed influx of canna-tourists, what does this mean for visitors hoping to enjoy the spoils of the green rush without risking any pesky legal entanglements?

Luckily, Nevada’s regulatory system has made it fairly straightforward for out-of-towners to visit dispensaries and legally purchase up to an ounce of fine, Nevada-grown cannabis, but one lingering conundrum remains: where do you smoke it?

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We reached out to Carlos Blumberg, an attorney with De Castroverde Law Group in Las Vegas, along with his business partner, Jo Ann Abajian, who are both founding members of the Nevada Dispensary Association and co-owners of the Apothecarium dispensary.

Where Can You Legally Smoke Cannabis in Las Vegas?

A major concern that has arisen in the recent legalization happening in Sin City is the lack of a proper place to consume cannabis as a tourist.

“It’s only legal if it’s in your own home,” Blumberg explains. It is illegal to consume cannabis in public, and a “public place” is defined as any place open to the public or exposed to public view.

“If your only crime is you’re at the park smoking a joint, they would probably just ask you to put it out rather than charging you with anything.”

Carlos Blumberg, attorney with De Castroverde Law Group in Las Vegas, NV

As for hotel rooms and Airbnbs, they’re technically considered private property, and thus, management may autonomously make the decision as to whether they allow cannabis consumption onsite. Tourists may have more luck with a private cannabis-friendly Airbnb or a Bud & Breakfast in the area, which specifically caters to cannabis tourists.

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Consuming cannabis in a public place, whether it’s a park or walking down the Vegas strip, can earn you a $600 ticket, although Blumberg has not seen a rise in the ticketing of tourists since the state went legal.

“To be honest, there’s been somewhat of a policy even before it went to medical use. My understanding was that [law enforcement’s] time was better spent citing people for other things,” he says. “If your only crime, so to say, is you’re at the park and you’re smoking a joint, they would probably just ask you to put it out rather than charging you with anything.”

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What Could Change Moving Forward?

Looking forward to the future, Blumberg anticipates the law may change in regards to public consumption. “Will that change? Maybe in the future,” he ponders. “I could see them setting up something like a hookah lounge around the gaming corridor. It’s the next step, logically.”

“After having watched a couple of other states make some mistakes, Nevada is learning from those mistakes.”

Jo Ann Abajian, co-founding member of the Nevada Dispensary Association

The attitude towards cannabis in the state has been steadily progressing in the past years since medical marijuana was first signed into law in 2001. “Nevada has shifted the view from being completely negative about cannabis to being positive,” Blumberg tells us. “Everybody is fighting for that tax revenue! It’s a whole new industry saying, ‘Tax us! Tax us!’”

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Apothecarium co-founder Jo Ann Abaijian acknowledges that Nevada’s implementation process has been slow and steady, but with good reason. “After having watched a couple of other states make some mistakes, Nevada is learning from those mistakes,” she explains. “The regulators have been saying, ‘wait, wait, wait,’ instead of moving forward and having to go back and fix things later.”

“It’s important to note that Nevada and the legislators here, we try to get it right,” Blumberg continues. “We’ve seen Washington and Colorado go legal, and we’re not Xeroxing anyone’s laws. We’ve seen what’s worked and what hasn’t and we’re trying to make it better.”

Unfortunately, one of the major obstacles standing in the way of legalization comes from an unlikely place: Nevada’s gaming laws. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has already placed incredibly restrictive regulations on casinos and gaming licensees, and owners are wary to introduce a new substance into the mix.

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“The gaming regulators don’t want to be involved in the marijuana industry for a lot of different reasons,” Blumberg says. “There’s no banking, [and] they don’t want to have the temptation [only to] then lose their gaming license.”

Although initially there were talks of combining casino play with cannabis consumption, after much deliberation, the Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo shot down the idea. “On one hand you have the gaming industry and on the other hand you have the marijuana industry … The two shall not meet,” he promised.

Until further notice, the report issued from the Gaming Commission stated that their priority “is the prohibition of delivery and consumption of marijuana within the Las Vegas Boulevard Gaming Corridor, H1 Zones, and on the premises of any restricted or non-restricted gaming licensee to comply with the Nevada Gaming Commission and Board’s prohibition of any consumption and possession of marijuana on gaming properties.”

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Instead, the likelihood of a separate, alternative area away from the bright lights of the Strip but still accessible to tourists is a more likely possibility. Similar to a hookah lounge or a cannabis social club, it may take years before regulators approach and address the issue, but with canna-tourism on the rise, it’s an issue that will need to be addressed eventually.

Despite the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s regulations, however, the future of legal cannabis in Sin City looks promising and bright. “Come to Las Vegas!” Blumberg exclaims. “It’s legal, it’s tested, and you know exactly what you’re getting. Everybody in town has their own variety and strains. Much like alcohol, some people want a Corona, some people want a Heineken. We check for reviews and find out what people like.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

After Service, These Veterans Are Finding New Careers—in Cannabis

Under the bright light and cool air of one of the cultivation rooms, Navy veteran Zac Williams clutches a tall can of Monster energy drink as he walks between rows of flowering cannabis plants. Though it’s not yet noon, this is Williams’ second super-caffeinated beverage of the day; his schedule requires he leave his Inland Empire home by 4:30 a.m. to make the 2 ½ hour commute to THC Design’s lab.

Williams was released from the Navy last year. Stationed as a medic at posts across the world— Micronesia, Hawaii, the Middle East—he learned the fundamentals of laboratory health and safety. He worked a great deal in industrial hygiene compliance, becoming well-versed in processes such as water purification. Though he’s been working at THC Design’s lab only for about a month, he speaks about the science of cannabis with the familiarity of a long-time professional.

“Since I got out, I lost 50 pounds switching from alcohol to weed or cannabis.”

Zac Williams, Navy veteran

When Williams applied for the internship, THC Design saw his background and offered him a full-time job. Occupational health and safety are expected to be huge issues for California’s cannabis industry when the adult-use market goes legal next year, Williams says, noting that he’s already fluent in standards like federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lab requirements, which dictate things such as where saftey placards and eye-washing stations need to be located.

Though Williams brought a bounty of knowledge from his time in the service, he’s also been learning as he goes. His Navy background, he says, helped prepare him to dive right in.

“Ninety percent of all military knowledge is on-the-job training, so we’re accustomed to not necessarily reading the books but listening to our superiors,” he said. “See one, do one, teach one—and we’re ready to go.”

Program participant Brandon Waller in THC Design’s reservoir room. (Alexander Drecun for Leafly)

As a salaried employee, Williams doesn’t get paid for working overtime. Yet he still clocks plenty of 12-hour days, he says, in large part because this is the first time he’s ever really looked forward to going to work.

In addition to his full-time job at THC, Williams is going to school for chemistry at National University in Ontario, CA, and hopes to attend UC Irvine for his master’s degree.

Like many in the cannabis biz, Williams also regularly consumes the product, both for medical needs and recreation. When he was in the military, he drank heavily and gorged on prescription pain medications and muscle relaxers—a habit he couldn’t afford once he returned to civilian life, he says.

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He’s not alone. The fallout from prescription pills, such as liver damage, addiction, and overdose, has hit veterans especially hard. According to a 2013 report from the Center for Investigative Reporting, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had issued, on average, more than one opiate prescription per patient over the course of two years.

For many, cannabis offers a healthier, more holistic alternative.

“Since I got out, I lost 50 pounds switching from alcohol to weed or cannabis, and now I use it every day pretty much,” Williams says.

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In Williams current role, he’s involved in THC Design’s “post-extraction” processes, which include operations such as ethanol winterization—purifying and refining the end product—as well as testing new concepts for concentrate-based products. The position allows him to experiment with low-dose vape pens that provide enough CBD to manage his pain but not so much THC as to have psychoactive effects.

“We do a little bit of research and development,” he says with a grin and a laugh. “A new product comes out, we like to test it and see how it tastes.”

Futureberries on Day 54 of flower in Flower Room 5 (Alexander Drecun for Leafly).

According to Ophelia Chong, the company’s community liaison, the internship program allowed THC Designs to make the most of its community investment. While the company can “give $5,000 and put our logo on a conference,” Chong says, speaking with veterans helped the team determine that a paid training program would make a more lasting impact.

“We can give people as much cannabis as we want,” she says, “but it doesn’t really help. What they wanted … what they came back with is, ‘We want to work.’”

Seth Smith, Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance’s vice president of communications, says that while his organization is often approached by companies wanting to hire or create internships for veterans, THC Design was the first to hire a dedicated staff member to oversee the program and really “put their money where their mouth was.”

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The next class of THC Design interns are slated to begin in January, says Chong, and she’s hoping that at least half the incoming veterans will be women. The company also hopes to eventually make its course information public so entities across the country can reproduce the program.

In the meantime, Zac Williams says he’s just happy to have found a place where he belongs.

“The cannabis industry is so welcoming and inviting, because it really is a bunch of rebels,” he said. “People that didn’t fit in anywhere else, who weren’t accepted by regular society.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

First Cannabis Ad Runs on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC

In a first for the cannabis industry, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Viceland, the Weather Channel, Headline News, and Fox Business are now airing a national advertisement for a cannabis law firm.

The networks didn’t want us to hit people over the head with the word ‘marijuana.’

Bob Hoban, The Hoban Law Group

The Hoban Law Group, a national firm that specializes in hemp, medical marijuana, and adult-use cannabis issues, worked with Denver-based producer DCP Media to create a spot that met the requirements of a variety of networks.

It wasn’t easy. Bob Hoban, the firm’s founder and namesake, told Leafly the networks wanted to make sure “we didn’t hit people over the head with the word ‘marijuana.’ So in the ad we talk about industrial hemp, and the medical and adult use marketplaces. They asked us not to flash a lot of marijuana plants, which was fine, that’s not our M.O. anyway.” 

Hoban Law Group National TV AD from Derrick Perkins on Vimeo.

The ad buy isn’t so much about immediate business development, Hoban said, as it is about keeping his firm on the pioneering edge of the industry. “We’ve been on the leading edge of the cannabis industry not just as lawyers but as business consultants,” he said, recounting his history as an attorney representing Colorado’s first dispensaries. “With this ad we’re continuing” to push the boundaries and reinforce the recognition of the Hoban Group as a national brand. 

Because the product is legal advice, not cannabis itself, the spot got clearance to air in primetime.

Why was Hoban able to get the word ‘cannabis’ on the air? Much of the credit for that goes to Derrick Perkins, the DCP Media producer who worked with the law firm. Perkins, a veteran television advertisement and content producer, knew the specific guidelines that each cable network upholds when it comes to cannabis.

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“They all have their own laws when it comes to cannabis,” Perkins told Leafly. Over the past 18 months, he said, he compiled a knowledge base that helped him craft language and a message that stayed within all those boundaries.

“What’s unique about Bob’s product is that you can’t ingest it,” Perkins said. It’s not cannabis flower, it’s not an edible or a topical. It’s straightforward legal and business consulting. Because of that, Perkins said, the Hoban firm was able to obtain primetime slots, from 7pm to 10pm weeknights.

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Previous Firsts

The Hoban ad marks the first time the word “cannabis” is used or spoken directly in a national spot.

Previously, some ads that obliquely alluded to cannabis growing, without actually saying it, aired on at least one national commercial network. Last year this ad for Black Magic Potting Soil, a product from Scott’s Miracle-Gro, aired on ABC during the NBA Finals:

In case anyone missed the hint, Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn told Forbes shortly thereafter that he intended to invest millions in the cannabis grow sector. “It is the biggest thing I’ve ever seen in lawn and garden,” he said at the time. 

In August 2014, Leafly became the first cannabis-related company to place a full-page ad in the New York Times.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Investing in Cannabis? Ask These 3 Questions Before You Do

Hello, readers! I’m excited to share my perspective on cannabis investing in The Cannabis Capitalist, a bimonthly column Leafly is debuting today. I’m a Houston-based Chartered Financial Analyst who’s been following the cannabis industry since early 2013, always with a goal of helping investors identify the real deals and avoid the pretenders.

My job: Help you identify the real deals and avoid the pretenders.

A lot has changed over the past four years. There are increasingly better options for investors these days, with more and more solid cannabis companies open to investment. That doesn’t mean there are no more landmines on the landscape, though.

I spend a great deal of time pointing them out to my subscribers at 420 Investor, which is focused on publicly traded stocks, and at New Cannabis Ventures, which covers both public and private companies.

Let me start with some of the basic factors to consider before investing private or publicly traded cannabis companies.

The Private Side: Accreditation Required

Investments in private companies can be a much better deal from a valuation perspective. The downside is that investors have a limited ability to sell their holdings.

These deals are typically available to accredited investors only, meaning you have to have $1 million in assets excluding your home or salary of $200K per year as an individual or $300K as a family. Once you meet those requirements the minimum investment is typically around $25,000, though in certain circumstances it can be lower or even substantially higher.

Finding private investment opportunities isn’t easy, as most investment banks are reluctant to work with the cannabis industry. Joining the Arcview Investor Network, an angel investing group, is one way to address that challenge. Arcview typically meets quarterly, in a rotating group of cities, and presents members with a highly selective group of pre-screened companies seeking investors. Well-known companies like Eaze and MJ Freeway received early private funding through the Arcview network.

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The Public Route: Open to All

If you want to invest in public companies, which are open to anyone and have much better liquidity than private placement, you have more than 550 options. That’s how many publicly traded companies purport to be in the cannabis industry.

Don’t expect to find them listed on a major exchange, like NASDAQ or the NYSE. Almost all of the U.S. cannabis companies I follow trade “over-the-counter” (OTC) and not on a major exchange. Many of these don’t file with the SEC, which is always an immediate red flag for any investor.

The OTC sector can be quite volatile. My proprietary Cannabis Stock Index, which which is rebalanced each quarter and currently tracks 50 stocks that meet certain liquidity and price criteria, went on a rocket ride in 2014 when Colorado opened its doors for adult-use cannabis sales. The Index rose seven-fold in ten weeks to begin the year, only to come crashing back down. In 2017, after an initial 35% rally, it lost about 44% of its value, leaving it down about 20% so far:

If you’re interested in funds rather than picking individual stocks, your options are extremely limited. I have identified one mutual fund (so bad I won’t mention it), and there is an exchange-traded fund (ETF), Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange with the symbol “HMMJ”. The ETF, which has assets of about C$120 million, has several issues that keep me from recommending it. Several other ETFs are in the process of coming to market, so hopefully we will see some better options in the coming months for those who want to invest in funds.

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3 Questions to Ask

I’ve learned a few things tracking cannabis stocks for four years. Here are three questions to ask before committing your money:

  • Are there better opportunities beyond companies that touch the leaf? Companies that grow, process, and sell cannabis products are popular with investors. But these companies also operate in extremely competitive sectors that could become commoditized. Consider investing in ancillary companies that will help the industry stay compliant or lower the cost of production.
  • Are there opportunities outside the United States? Cannabis investing is a global opportunity, and the United States, which remains federally illegal, may not be the best market. Canada has a rapidly growing federally legal medical cannabis market that is expected to become legal for all adults in mid-2018. Germany is another potential opportunity, as it has legalized medical cannabis with pharmaceutical distribution and coverage by health insurance.
  • Does the company I’m considering produce revenue? This is a relatively new question to ask about public cannabis companies. At New Cannabis Ventures, we’re updating and sharing a list of companies that are on track to deliver annual revenue of $10 million or more. So far we’ve identified a dozen companies, and the list is sure to grow. Revenue is just one criterion, but it’s a nice start. Until this year, investors were forced to choose among companies that offered promising ideas but few real results.

The bottom line: Investing in cannabis remains risky and challenging. For investors looking to capitalize on cannabis, though, the options continue to increase. California’s legalization in 2018, followed by Massachusetts, will further erode some of the stigma surrounding cannabis, improve the private and public markets for emerging companies, and offer ever-greater opportunities for cannabis investors.

Next up: How to distinguish between cannabis opportunities and opportunists. Talk with you in two weeks.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

At BRNT Designs, Four University of Alberta Students Aim to Build a Better Bong

For many people, college is where they first encountered and learned to properly handle a bong. But for a quartet of students at the University of Alberta, college is where they hatched and began prototyping their plan to build a better bong—an easily cleanable rig designed to withstand humanity’s tendency to drop things, yet stylish enough to warrant display in the home.

Thus began BRNT Designs, which found the four UAlberta students—two mechanical engineering students, two business students—working with the vice dean of the business school to help make their dream bong a physical and commercial reality.

BRNT’s first project: the Hexagon, a ceramic bong with a striking, angular design that’s engineered to be dishwasher- and freezer-safe as well as drop-resistant. (That’s it pictured above.) This fall, BRNT will be launching an online crowdfunding campaign to fund the Hexagon. This week, I talked to BRNT CEO Simon Grigenas and Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Feltham about their bongly ambitions and histories and the challenges of navigating the sporadically legal recreational cannabis marketplace.

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LEAFLY: Let’s start at the beginning—what was your first experience with any sort of bong?

SIMON: My first experience was when I was much younger, with a bong I made myself. I was at a buddy’s house, and we cut up a two-liter plastic bottle and made something with that. The first bong I ever purchased came from the corner-store head shop, where I picked out the cheapest glass bong I could find. A month and a half later, I knocked it over and it broke, and that was that.

Simon, Andrew, and the Hexagon prototype

ANDREW: I just recently started smoking, and my first experience with a bong was with Simon’s rig.

SIMON: Our prototype BRNT bong is now our go-to dab rig. We’ve been working with different prototypes for the past year, and we’ve really grown fond of this one we’re using now, which has a quartz banger in it.

Did your previous experience with bongs supply you with a list of complaints and shortcomings you knew you wanted to address with your own bong? 

SIMON: I was the one who had the most experience with cannabis use. I’m a medical marijuana patient in Canada, and I’m treated for a head trauma I had a few years back. So I brought all my knowledge of bongs—having difficulty cleaning glass bongs in the past, having trouble with bongs breaking or falling of a coffee table and cracking. Those are some of the things I wanted to change. And then there was the experience of the past five years, reading about cannabis accessories, putting ice in your bong. I wanted to be able to cool smoke even more, by ensuring our bong is freezer-safe.

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What’s been the most surprising bump in the road in the prototyping of your bong?

SIMON: Finding engineers. We have two engineers in-house, and we also worked with contracted engineers. And a lot of them didn’t have a lot of experience with cannabis. You have to bring all your knowledge to them, show them what you’re looking to do, and really work back-and-forth to make sure the design suits the functionality. It was tough, and we went through a lot of prototypes—different 3-D printed designs and ceramic models—to figure out exactly what the user will have in their hand.

What’s been the biggest challenge in regard to design and functionality?

ANDREW: I’d say the most difficult thing has been heat resistance—working with thermal shock to determine how thick the bong walls need to be, and how the holes are designed on the down-stem, and integrating all those things in a piece that can still go in the dishwasher and freezer

It’s easy to talk about a bong in the abstract. When the Hexagon becomes reality, will you send us one so we can see how it all panned out?

SIMON: Absolutely!


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Are Women Taking Charge of the Cannabis Industry?

Cannabis is a burgeoning industry, and as pioneers in this exciting new world, we have the honor of breaking ground and setting standards to pave the way for generations to come. One of the most fascinating developments in the cannabis industry is the rise of women in the workplace, most notably in positions of power at the head of cannabis companies.

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Women Holding Leadership Positions

The cannabis industry is comprised of scrappy, tenacious individuals who aren’t opposed to taking a risk, and in a sector that’s struggling to break free of former stoner stereotypes and debilitating social stigmas, women are leading the way. According to a 2015 survey from Marijuana Business Daily, women held 36% of leadership positions in the industry, including 50% of leadership roles in processing and infused product companies, and 63% of executive roles at testing labs.

When MJBiz conducted an updated survey on the topic in August 2017, the number of women in leadership roles had fallen to 27% of executive-level roles, although the presence of women in leadership roles in ancillary sectors of the industry holds strong: 42% of women held executive roles in supplemental cannabis services companies, and women still own and operate 35% of medical and retail cannabis shops.

No matter how you slice it, when comparing these numbers to women in the general US workforce, the difference is stark. Women hold 52% of professional level jobs, but make up only 26.5% of executive or senior-level roles, hold only 21% of board seats, and comprise just 5.2% of American CEO positions.

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Why are women so prominent in leadership roles in the cannabis world? One factor could be related to the relatively low barrier for entry―because the industry is still growing and there’s no concrete blueprint for success, right now anyone can try their hand at making it big with some overhead cash, grit, and a little creativity.

Secondly, although cannabis consumption generally skews male, women are becoming increasingly interested in the plant for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. In a 2017 study published by the Drug and Alcohol Journal, the percentage of women regularly consuming cannabis is on the rise, although the gender gap still remains prominent. Between 2002 and 2014, the percentage of women using cannabis increased by 3% overall, and Leafly saw a significant increase in female interest between 2015 and 2016, with 27% more visits from female consumers than male consumers.

Attracting female consumers means making a new space for women to co-exist in the industry, and who knows how to do that better than women themselves?

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Challenges and Complexities

Leafly recently attended Intersection, an event designed to confront and discuss how women can impact technology in the cannabis sphere, featuring an all-female panel to gain a better understanding of the complexities and challenges confronting women in the cannabis industry. AC Braddock, the CEO of Eden Labs in Colorado, was one of the foremost panelists who offered some advice for women in the cannabis industry.

“In order to move forward, you have to understand the rules and regulations, you have to understand the legislative process,” she recommended. “You must be politically savvy and understand the political process, and you’ve got to be mainstream.”

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Dr. Janice Knoxx, one of the founders of the American Cannabinoid Clinics, expressed her own surprise at ending up in the industry. “If you would have told me that I was going to end up in the cannabis industry, I would have definitely thought you were smoking what we are here to talk about tonight.”

After being contacted by former patients who were seeking assistance entering the medical marijuana program and looking for answers from a certified physician, Knox found herself at a bit of a loss. “How could I be a doctor and not be able to answer questions about the endocannabinoid system?”

Six years after her formal retirement, Knox re-entered the medical world, this time as a medical marijuana-certifying physician and advocate. “My mission now as a scientist is to spread as loudly and as far as I can that cannabis is medicine,” she explained.

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Medical Cannabis First

Knox’s mission seemed to be a consensus across the group. “This industry will not flourish, will not move forward, unless it’s on a medical platform,” emphasized Braddock.

Mara Gordon, a cannabis researcher and founder of Aunt Zelda’s and Zelda Therapeutics, described her frustration entering the medical marijuana realm as a patient. “When I came in as a patient, I entered into an industry with no lab testing, and no dosing,” she said.

Rather than leaving empty-handed, the lack of specialization inspired her. “I was going to solve the dosing conundrum,” she told the Intersection audience. “This was why I had to create all these companies. I had to create a medical practice, I had to create medicines that were well-understood, with testing labs, software to allow the doctor to make dosing recommendations.”

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Braddock spoke up about the importance of vigilant patients, as well. “Get politically involved. Go into the dispensary and ask for organic cannabis, ask for the medicinal products that they’re required to have…The average consumer spends about $70 per month as a recreational consumer, compared to about $800 per month as therapy. Wellness products should range from ‘I just wanna feel good,’ to ‘I want to treat my cancer.’”

She also brought up the stigma that still plagues women who are curious about cannabis for treatment or therapeutic purposes. “There’s such a stigma―50% of women on pharmaceutical drugs who try CBD stop taking the pharmaceuticals and they start to see real change. You have to really think about raising your hand, not just as a retailer, but as a patient.”

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The Future of Women in Cannabis

“Hopefully, what we’re seeing is the last flash and burnout of an old way of politics and medicine,” Braddock speculated. “It comes from a very patriarchal basis of power our world has been run from for thousands of years―forever. I feel like people are holding onto that as hard as they can, and just showing who they really are, and I really hope that it’s their last dance.”

“What’s going to come from that is a new modern way of doing business, of healthcare, of everything.” She paused. “I would love to see this industry change the social justice system.”

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With women taking the driver’s seat and the industry evolving at a breakneck speed, it’s only a matter of time before we see women and cannabis changing the way businesses are run, and, hopefully, taking aim at the glass ceiling.

“All we have to do is keep backing it and keep doing this, because,” Braddock surveyed the audience, “we are at the precipice for a massive change.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.