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Old 04-21-2015, 04:38 PM   #1
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Default Mj news for 04/21/2015

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kansas-m...ijuana-speech/






Kansas mom loses custody of son, 11, after he gives marijuana speech






WICHITA, Kansas -- A medical marijuana advocate has lost custody of her 11-year-old son at least temporarily and could face possible charges following comments the boy made during a drug education program at school.

The case of Shona Banda, 37, was forwarded Monday to the district attorney's office for a decision about charges, Police Capt. Randy Ralston said. Possible charges include possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and child endangerment, the department said in a news release.

No arrests have been made.

The divorced mother said she did not get custody of her son back following a hearing Monday, after Kansas authorities had placed the boy into protective custody.

"That's OK - I am not giving up," Banda said. "I will, I will get him and I am not going to stop until I do."

Banda, a motivational speaker and author on the medical marijuana issue, has been at the center of a social media storm after she went public with her story. Several supporters rallied Monday at a park near the courthouse.

Banda is the author of a book "Live Free or Die: Reclaim your Life . . . Reclaim your Country!" that recounts her use of a concentrated cannabis oil to treat Crohn's Disease.

A gag order has since been issued in the custody case, Banda said. Her attorney, Sarah Swain, did not respond to a phone message left at her office.

Banda's legal problems began March 24 when police were called to her son's school for a child welfare check following a drug and alcohol presentation. Investigators allege the boy told school officials that his mother and other adults in his home were avid drug users and that there was a lot of drug use occurring at the home.

According to an online page to raise money for Banda's legal defense, Banda's son "disagreed with some of the anti-pot points that were being made by school officials." The page has raised more than $27,000.

Banda refused to allow officers to search the home, and police stayed at the scene and denied her entry to it until they could obtain a search warrant. A search subsequently found about marijuana and a lab for manufacturing cannabis oil on the kitchen table and counters, drug paraphernalia and other related items, police said. Authorities said the items were within easy reach of the child.

"The most important thing here is the child's well-being," Ralston said. "That is why it is a priority for us, just because of the danger to the child."

Authorities took the boy into protective custody and placed him with his father, Ralston said. But when the boy ended back with his mother again, authorities then took the boy back into protective custody.

Fifty-three percent of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be legal, an all-time high in CBS News polling; 43 percent think it should not be legal.
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:41 PM   #2
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Default Mj news for 04/21/2015

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphi...rijuana-taxes/






The Blunt Truth About Marijuana & Taxes






There was a time when the term 4/20 drew either blank stares or giggles. The term, which refers to marijuana, has become more mainstream in recent years and April 20, once considered a counterculture holiday, is actually trending on Twitter. The reality is that marijuana doesn’t have the same taboo as it did before. That’s largely thanks to legalization.

Today, twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana for either medical or recreational use. States which allow marijuana for medical use include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – as well as the District of Columbia. Four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

While states have been busy rewriting their laws to legalize marijuana for either medical or recreational use, possession of marijuana remains a federal crime. Under federal law, marijuana is still classed as a Schedule I drug which means that it is not legal in any form, including for medical purposes. It is, in fact, against federal law to grow, sell or use marijuana for any purpose.

Is that bound to change any time soon? Likely not. Many potential GOP presidential candidates, including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Perry have indicated that they would leave the choice up to the individual states while N.J. Governor Chris Christie has vowed to crack down on marijuana altogether, calling it “a gateway drug.” Christie told conservative Iowa radio host Hugh Hewitt, “We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down through the federal law enforcement. Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law. And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.”

For her part, Hillary Clinton, the potential Democratic nominee, told Christiane Amanpour in 2014 that she would “wait and see” how the states fared before making it a national issue. She did, however, side with Christie by calling marijuana a “gateway drug.”

The current President has stayed out of the fray, preferring to pass the decision to Congress. Last month, President Obama said, “We may be able to make some progress on the decriminalization side. At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, then Congress may then reschedule marijuana.”

The lukewarm reading from politicians appears to echo the general population. According to a Gallup poll, as of October 2014, just over half of Americans (51%) favor legalization of marijuana.

While the feds have remained steadfast, states that have moved to legalize marijuana for medical reasons have done so for quite logical reasons: legalizing the drug (like nicotine and alcohol) means that it can be regulated. Regulations mean control. And control is directly linked to the almighty dollar.

The drug industry – both legal and illegal – is quite a lucrative market. Keeping it illegal, the argument goes, means that the most benefit flows to illegitimate members of society: dealers and cartels. On the other hand, taxpayers and government bear the burden of chasing those dragons as incarcerations for what are basically petty drug crimes continue to rise: in 2012, data indicated that a $200 transaction can cost society $100,000 for a three-year sentence.

It’s estimated that the legalization of marijuana (not just for medical purposes) could take as much as $10 billion away from the cartels and dealers. And that’s not limited to the Colombian or Mexican drug trades. Domestically grown marijuana is thought to be the second most profitable cash crop in the United States: only corn is considered to be more lucrative.

To think about the kind of impact that could have on our economy, you need only look to the U.S. beverage alcohol industry. Making alcohol legal after Prohibition has paid off. In 2010, the U.S. beverage alcohol industry was considered responsible for over $400 billion in economic activity, generating nearly $90 billion in wages and over 3.9 million jobs. In 2012, the federal government collected $9.7 billion in revenue from excise taxes on distilled spirits, beer, and wine: that number is expected to hit nearly $11 billion by 2020.

State and local governments are already seeing the financial impact of the legalization of marijuana. Colorado pulled in $2 million in taxes related to the sale of recreational marijuana in January 2014 alone. Combined with taxes on sales from medicinal marijuana, the state pulled in nearly $3.5 million in pot-related tax revenue. If that trend continues, the state should have seen more than $40 million in additional tax dollars by year end. To put that in perspective, that’s approximately 1% of the total annual budgets for Delaware, South Dakota, Montana or West Virginia.


So why won’t the feds budge? Why not make it legal and tax it? Taxing it, some say, makes it legitimate. That would, the argument goes, open the floodgates to increased drug use, eventually moving from marijuana to stronger drugs like heroin and cocaine – the whole “gateway drug” argument that Christie and Clinton alluded to.

It was the taxation of marijuana in the 1930s which lead to the criminalization of marijuana in the first place. At the early part of the 20th century, during Prohibition, booze was illegal but marijuana was not. Under the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, there was a two part tax on the sale of marijuana; one which functioned like a sales tax and another which was more akin to an occupational tax for licensed dealers. Violations of the Act resulted in serious consequences.

In 1969, Timothy Leary challenged his arrest for possession of marijuana under the Act; the case of Leary v. United States made it to the Supreme Court. The Court invalidated part of the Act as a violation of the Fifth Amendment (against self-incrimination). The result was a new law, the Controlled Substances Act, passed in 1970, which criminalized the possession or sale of marijuana. It has remained so to this day.

In 2009, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a memo (downloads as a pdf) to “provide clarification and guidance to federal prosecutors in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana.” That memo announced that federal law enforcement resources should not target “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” In other words, the feds promised (in so many words) to keep their distances from regulated sales of medical marijuana.

The IRS was largely silent on the issues until another 2011 when the DOJ issued another memo (downloads as a pdf) apparently reversing course. That same year, the IRS played hardball, disallowing expenses for medical marijuana dispensaries. Their justification? Section 280E of the Tax Code which disallows expenses connected with the illegal sale of drugs:

"§280E. Expenditures in connection with the illegal sale of drugs. No deduction or credit shall be allowed for any amount paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business if such trade or business (or the activities which comprise such trade or business) consists of trafficking in controlled substances (within the meaning of schedule I and II of the Controlled Substances Act) which is prohibited by Federal law or the law of any State in which such trade or business is conducted."

Earlier this year, however, the IRS released guidance that indicated it might be softening. IRS Memorandum 201504011 (downloads as a pdf), issued on January 23, 2015, which revisited the deduction question. The Memo didn’t reverse course on the deductions issue (it is, after all, a law on the books) but did suggest – by looking at another Code section (§263) – that a careful consideration as to the characterization of certain activities might result in legitimate reductions in tax.

Of course, Congress could sort all of this out by changing any of a number of laws – from what’s reported on Schedule I to clarifying how marijuana which is legal for state and local purposes might be treated for federal tax purposes. Doing so might make them look soft on crime – not a risk that many are willing to take.

For now, marijuana remains illegal for federal purposes. The feds seem to understand, however, that aggressively pursuing legal medical marijuana sales – and the revenue generated for states and municipalities – won’t make the dollars generated from those sales go away. They just might not get reported.
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:46 PM   #3
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Default Mj news for 04/21/2015

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...-in-one-tweet/





This is what sane marijuana enforcement looks like — in one tweet



pic: https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-ap...227.jpg&w=1484





The Denver Police Department is officially cooler than your police department.

Tweet:

Denver Police Dept. @DenverPolice
Follow
"🎶 We see you rollin, but we ain't hatin’ 🎶 HAHA… Seriously though, #Denver, please remember to #ConsumeResponsibly this 4/20 weekend."


As you may have heard, it is 4/20 -- the unofficial holiday celebrated by marijuana enthusiasts worldwide. The City of Denver marked the occasion as it always does, with a massive, 125,000 person rally in a local park. And Denver's cops observed the day on social media with a tweet riffing on the lyrics to Chamillionaire's "Dirty," a song about how police go out of their way to pull over and detain young black men, preferably ones with drugs in their pockets.

But rather than discuss the evils of drug use or disparage marijuana users, Denver's police simply remind people to consume their weed responsibly. In doing so, they provide a template for what marijuana law enforcement might look like in an era of widespread legalization.

Some law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, have rallied against recent changes in public opinion on marijuana. Denver's cops, on the other hand, are choosing to work within the framework set by that state's marijuana legalization measures.

That doesn't mean lax enforcement -- indeed, Denver PD also tweeted out that it had issued about 100 citations for public marijuana consumption on Sunday.

Tweet:

Denver Police Dept. @DenverPolice
Follow
"ALERT: #DPD has issued approximately 100 citations at today's 4/20 event. #Denver #ConsumeResponsibly "
8:01 PM - 19 Apr 2015


But beyond that, police reported no major incidents related to the 4/20 festivities so far. In general, crime in Denver is slightly down year-over-year, so there's no real reason for police to oppose their state's legalization regime.

That represents a sharp contrast from a few hours east in Kansas, where an 11-year-old was recently taken away from his mother after speaking up during an anti-drug presentation at his school. The mom, Shona Banda, now faces a $2,500 fine, up to a year in jail, and permanent loss of custody over an activity that's perfectly legal just across the border in Colorado.

In one final irony, as Colorado smokers enjoy their legal marijuana today, Banda is scheduled to attend a court hearing that may determine whether or not she gets to retain custody of her son.
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"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
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“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:48 PM   #4
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Default Mj news for 04/21/2015

http://time.com/3829422/willie-nelson-marijuana-brand/





Willie Nelson to Launch His Own Brand of Marijuana






"I will make sure it's good or it won't be on sale"

Singer Willie Nelson plans to launch his own brand of marijuana for recreational users who demand “the best on the market,” the 81-year-old country legend announced.

“Willie Weed,” from the newly formed company Willie’s Reserve, will hit dispensary shelves in Colorado and Washington, where legalization of recreational marijuana has created a booming industry, the Associated Press reports. Nelson said he would partner with growers in both states.

“I will make sure it’s good or it won’t be on sale,” the singer said in an interview with Rolling Stone.

Nelson is the latest among a growing list of musicians to capitalize on the newly freed trade of marijuana. Last week, rapper Snoop Dog invested in Eaze, a California-based weed delivery startup that has been billed as the “Uber for weed.”
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“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:50 PM   #5
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Default Mj news for 04/21/2015

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer...ainstream.html





It’s 4/20 — Do You Know How Mainstream Your Marijuana Has Become?






From its decidedly inauspicious beginnings in the late '70s as a code for some pot-loving teens in San Rafael, California, 4/20 has moved from an annual day of protest for oppressed stoners to a near-official holiday for weed aficionados around the world.

But as Americans' approval for marijuana legalization and culture rises, and corporations like Miracle Gro manufacturer Scotts take an interest in profiting from the drug in the future, it remains to be seen how the celebration of 4/20 will evolve further still. John Heilemann remarks on the cultural arc of pot smoking and the holiday, which he's pretty sure is the only one "whose celebration requires — in 46 states, at least — the commission of a crime":

The mainstreaming of 4/20 as a phenomenon is but one reflection of the vast social shift that has taken place around marijuana in the past decade—and which, in turn, has enormous political and legal implications. According to our latest Bloomberg Politics national poll, fully 58 percent of Americans believe pot will be legal nationwide in the next 20 years. A recent Quinnipiac poll of three swing states (Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) found slim majorities favoring the legalization of weed altogether, and majorities in excess of 80 percent in support of legalizing it for medical use.

In a professional lifetime of covering politics—and watching this issue closely for various, ahem, idiosyncratic reasons—the only shift in public opinion that I’ve seen that’s been comparably dramatic is the one about gay marriage.

Both have been driven (and will continue to be driven) by demographics: by the fact that, for most young Americans, both same-sex marriage and the consumption of cannabis seem benign and unremarkable. In the case of marijuana, the engine pushing America toward legalization is also economic: As more and more states discover the revenue-raising potential of regulating and taxing weed, the logic of legalization will, I suspect, become increasingly ineluctable.

Another sure sign of marijuana and 4/20's assent were the more than 125,000 people who attended the annual Cannabis Cup this past weekend in Denver. The event has become a Super Bowl of sorts for stoners and the industry, and is by far the largest of the many 4/20-related festivities around the country. James Joiner was in attendance this year:

Once you have properly “medicated” yourself, which is insider talk for getting stoned cross eyed, it’s off to any number of events and seminars. Cooking demonstrations, concerts, and comedy presentations are interspersed with more serious seeming fare, like “The Truth About Contaminants in Cannabis” and “Social Media Marketing in the Cannabis World.” Perhaps a testament to the level to which acceptance the once fringe cannabis counterculture has now ascended, even stoic cable news giant CNN was on hand to premiere their pot-centric show High Profits.

Along those lines, German Lopez highlights how such corporate influence (not to mention corporate 4/20 tweets) may eventually transform the holiday:

"If a corporate marijuana industry adopts 4/20, it would still be a celebrated event, but not with the same counter-cultural meaning," [drug policy expert Keith] Humphreys said in an email. "People celebrated Christmas long before it became an occasion for an orgy of gift-buying and materialist consumption, but the meaning of the holiday for most people was different then than it is now."

While that doesn't necessarily mean we'll be hearing Method Man in supermarkets throughout the spring, The Cannabist's Jake Brown points out that a more pedestrian shift for the holiday would suit many in the weed industry just fine. For instance, when industry advocates are talking to politicians, "the last thing you want to have as the public face of marijuana is half-naked women and teens who skipped school roasting one in Civic Center Park." There's also the recent Pew study indicating that 62 percent of Americans would be bothered by public pot smoking if it were legalized. So huge, hazy gatherings might present an image problem, but Brown also explains how some in the weed industry are now introducing more mature events to mark 4/20 as well (a sushi- and joint-rolling class, anyone?).

The Colorado Department of Transportation seems to be adapting too: At weed events over the weekend, the agency skipped the scare tactics and handed out snacks, reminding stoners to smoke and munch rather than smoke and drive. Even better? The Denver Police were tweeting out Chamillionaire lyrics:


View the 2015 Cannabis Cup winners here.
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:52 PM   #6
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Default Mj news for 04/21/2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/21/sc...-the-body.html





Marijuana and the Body






Q. Leaving aside questions of addiction and brain effects, what is known about the effects of marijuana on things like the lungs and digestive tract?

A. The limited formal studies that have been done on marijuana and cancer have yielded complex and often conflicting results, according to a summary of research updated last year and published by the National Cancer Institute for health professionals.

For example, a large study reviewing the medical records of 64,855 men in the United States found that use of cannabis was not associated with tobacco-related cancers and a number of others, but was linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. But a smaller study in North Africa, involving 430 cases and 773 controls, did find an increased risk of lung cancer in those who also smoked tobacco.

A recent survey of large cross sections of adults in the United States found that daily smoking of marijuana for up to 20 years did not harm lung function as measured by airflow on exhalation. As for the digestive tract, marijuana and its derivatives have been used to improve appetite and fight nausea in cancer patients, but inhaled marijuana has been subject to only three small formal anti-nausea studies, and the results were inconclusive, the N.C.I. said. question@nytimes.com
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:55 PM   #7
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Default Mj news for 04/21/2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/0...n_7101132.html





Americans' Support For Marijuana Legalization Reaches All-Time High In CBS Poll






A majority of Americans support the legalization of recreational marijuana, according to a new poll from CBS News -- and it's the highest percentage in support since the news organization began asking the question in 1979.

Just in time for 4/20, the annual marijuana holiday, CBS News released a poll showing 53 percent of Americans are in favor of marijuana legalization.

Poll graphic: http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com...anaCBSPoll.png

Although that's the highest amount of support for marijuana legalization CBS has ever polled, it isn't the highest level of support ever found. And because survey methods can vary, it's useful to look at a number of national polls to get a fuller picture of the issue.

CBS's poll echoes trends similar to those multiple recent surveys have found.

Just last week, Pew Research Center found the identical amount of support as CBS. In 2013, Gallup found 58 percent of Americans supported legalizing marijuana -- a 10-point surge from the year prior -- but in 2014, the organization found a sharp drop in that support, to 51 percent. A report released last month by the Democratic-affiliated Benenson Strategy Group and SKDKnickerbocker found 61 percent of Americans in favor of legalization -- some of the highest support for marijuana legalization to date. Earlier this year, General Social Survey, widely regarded as the most authoritative source when it comes to researching public opinion, found 52 percent of Americans in support of legalization.

Support for legalization is highest among younger, more left-leaning Americans, according to CBS, and while a majority of men favor legalization, women remain split on the issue.

By a large margin, Americans also believe that marijuana is safer than alcohol -- 51 percent of those surveyed said alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, while only 12 percent believe marijuana is the more high-risk drug. Americans' attitudes on the dangers of marijuana, exaggerated during the "Reefer Madness" era of drug policy, have largely declined in recent decades. A survey released last year by NBC News/The Wall Street Journal found that Americans believe that even sugar is more harmful than cannabis.

While not harmless, marijuana is dramatically less dangerous than other recreational drugs and may be, in fact, the least dangerous among the most commonly used recreational drugs, according to a study published this year in Scientific Reports.

To date, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and four states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational use. Still, the federal government continues to ban the plant, classifying it as one of the "most dangerous" drugs alongside heroin and LSD.
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"When injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty."
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“I am not the lifestyle police.”- (my new hero) Pitkin County, CO Sheriff Joe DiSalvo
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:09 PM   #8
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Default Mj news for 04/21/2015

http://www.racked.com/2015/4/20/8416...ness-lifestyle





The Great Weed Rebrand: Inside Colorado’s Cannabis Lifestyle Industry






The first thing I notice about doing yoga stoned is my pulse. That otherwise inconspicuous sign of life is suddenly very much present, from my forehead to my pelvis, and the latter makes me want to giggle. I think it's okay to giggle, and so I do. Here inside this garage-turned-yoga studio in central Denver, everyone around me is making noises—giggles and more—upon taking her turn hitting the communal vape that's being passed around.

After another healthy inhale of vaporized weed, we flow through our vinyasa, and I start to take note of everything in the room: the intricate weave of the fishtail braid of the girl sitting behind me, the beads of sweat dripping down my spine, the goofy facial expression the woman to my right is making, likely the result of the drug’s effect tickling her eyelids and mouth corners. Eventually, my thoughts turn from fleeting to fixated, and by the time we hit happy baby pose, my back is melting into the mat and I’m taking in heavy, delicious breaths.

Shannon Donnelly, a 26-year-old pot entrepreneur and the class’s organizer, later tells me the reason I’m able to breathe so deeply is because of the relaxing indica strain we’re smoking. Its name is Flo and it’s a bronchial dilator, believed to help expand the lungs to facilitate intense breathing. Pair this strain with vaping, the preferred method of indulging for the health conscious, and you’ve got the ideal yoga practice.

“There’s this common misconception that smoking cannabis makes you slow and lazy, but it’s not true—there are some strains that are actually great for exercising,” Donnelly tells the group of a dozen women who are attending her marijuana yoga class one Sunday afternoon in March. “Vaping is much better than smoking. There’s no carbon dioxide, tar, heat, or carcinogens getting into your lungs. Vaping is a great alternative for asthmatics too, because it’s not harsh.”

Donnelly works for several local dispensaries in Colorado, but spends weekends running her startup, Healthy Honeys, which aims to promote a wellness-centric marijuana lifestyle. Healthy Honeys puts on yoga and burlesque classes, inviting participants to join in on group seshes beforehand and vaporizer demonstrations afterward.

Once our yoga class winds down, we pass around different vapes—the iPuff, the Pax, the Ripstic. The one that catches the most attention, however, is the Volcano, a gadget that sells for some $540 and releases vapor into a detachable plastic bag. At first glance, I think we might be doing whippets, but I soon realize that taking a pull of vapor from the Volcano has smooth and long-lasting results; it’s even been the subject of a medical study on the health benefits of vaping.

“These vapes can help you mellow yourself out,” proclaims Donnelly. “They make you feel healthier when you smoke. In the last few years, my voice has gotten deeper because I smoke so much cannabis, but now that I vape, I don’t feel bogged down. There’s not as much gunk in my chest.”

When Donnelly, or pretty much anyone else out here in Colorado, talks about marijuana, she doesn’t call it weed, pot, or bud: The preferred term is cannabis. Ever since recreational use was proclaimed legal two and a half years ago, the industry has been rebranding itself, wiggling away from its counterculture roots and in turn aligning with the burgeoning wellness movement.

Since cannabis companies officially opened their doors last January, high-end businesses have been popping up all over the state that challenge the idea that weed is just a lowbrow commodity. The phrase “classing up the joint” is ubiquitous in Colorado.

In Denver, the epicenter of this thriving industry, the dispensaries are chic, the grow houses specialize in organic strains, and the edibles are artisanal (and sometimes even gluten-free). There’s artful glass-blown paraphernalia, spa treatments that utilize THC, and cannabis beauty products too. The ubiquitous green leaf isn’t just a drug here, it’s a lifestyle.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2001, but 2012 proved to be the true watershed year, when residents of the state voted to change its constitution to permit the sale and consumption of cannabis for recreational use. Since Amendment 64 was passed in November 2012, Coloradans 21 years and older have been allowed to grow, possess, consume, and gift marijuana, though legal commercial sale of the drug only began on Jan. 1, 2014. Locals are permitted to purchase up to an ounce of weed every time they visit a dispensary, while tourists can buy up to a quarter-ounce.

Washington also voted to legalize recreational marijuana use around the same time, but Colorado was the first state to allow cannabis businesses and stores to open, provided that they abide by the newly established regulations set into motion by state and local governments. The drug is still federally illegal, and Colorado state laws are constantly changing, but the state’s thriving cannabis industry demonstrates that its economic potential is immense.

Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in the U.S., behind alcohol and tobacco, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML); and last year, a Gallup poll found that 51 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing it. Weed is also the country’s fastest-growing industry: In February, ArcView Market Research concluded that the legal cannabis industry grew by 74 percent in 2014, blowing past every other commodities market. ArcView also deduced that the industry’s value skyrocketed from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion in 2014. It’s estimated that the industry will be valued at $10.8 billion by 2019.

Nearly $700 million in legal cannabis was sold in Colorado in 2014, with $386 million going to medical sales and $314 million contributing to recreational use. In the city of Denver alone, there are over 100 dispensaries, according to Weedmaps.

Not just anyone can open a cannabis business, though. You have to establish residency in Colorado, as well as obtain a distributor license. Last July, Colorado’s laws were amended to allow any resident to apply for a license; for the first six months of the year, though, only those who had previously owned medical marijuana businesses and were “in good standing” with the state could apply for recreational licenses.

Businesses also aren’t allowed to open just anywhere. Under Colorado law, local jurisdictions can opt out of the new laws and ban businesses from operating in their towns. Plenty of cities in Colorado have chosen these sanctions. Colorado Springs, the state’s second-largest city, currently has a ban on all recreational businesses. In Denver, there’s a moratorium on new businesses opening until 2016.

Do you remember your first edible? It’s simultaneously easy and difficult to forget. Mine was a half-baked brownie, concocted from Duncan Hines batter and a lord-knows-how-big serving of pot. I forced myself to eat the whole thing, even though it tasted nothing like chocolate and a whole lot like burnt hay. My friends and I sat around for a couple of hours waiting for the effects to kick in; seven hours later, as we clutched the walls of the apartment, swimming through kaleidoscopic visions, we realized just how wrong we were about the measurements.

Julie Berliner, the 29-year-old owner of edibles bakery Sweet Grass Kitchen, recalls a similar experience. “The first edible I bought was a disgusting Rice Krispies Treat wrapped in Saran with no labeling. It was vile! I can only imagine where it was made and who made it,” she laughs. “The edibles industry is leaps and bounds ahead of where it once was in terms of the packaging regulations and the attention to public safety. Those things are the No. 1 priority.”

Berliner studied to become an elementary school teacher at the University of Colorado-Boulder but baked edibles in her downtime, eventually opening a medical edibles company in 2009. Sweet Grass Kitchen has since expanded to encompass two baking facilities and a full-time team of 20, including an executive chef. It sells some 15,000 wholesale units a week to dispensaries all over the state.

Sweet Grass Kitchen’s main operation stands among warehouses in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe. There are no signs outside, and the inconspicuous building gives zero clues as to what’s going on inside. The wafting smell of baking marijuana, however, hits me in the face the second I step outside my car.

Berliner, decked out in a red dress, platforms, and a studded gold pot-leaf bracelet, greets me and we take a tour of her squeaky-clean facility. There are the requisite industrial-sized mixers and ovens, and nearby a team of workers stands in an assembly line, hand-packaging the day’s orders of cookies and brownies. The bakery cultivates its own grow and uses cannabis flowers to make cannabis-infused butter, or cannabutter, which is stashed in massive containers inside a freezer. Berliner says Sweet Grass plans to eventually sell its cannabutter as a standalone product because there’s such a demand for safely made ingredients.

Dooley makes sure all of her products—the line includes granola, roasted seeds, and trail mix—are organic and gluten-free.
“A lot of people ask us for our butter,” she explains. “It’s our pride and joy, and we’ve really perfected the process. We also have third-party labs that test our products for potency and homogeneity. My advice when people ask about making butter at home is that it’s not safe.”

Sweet Grass has both a medicinal and a recreational menu; the bakery makes high-quality chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, brownies, pumpkin pies, peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, and lemon poppyseed cookies that sell for $3.50 to $15. For healthier options, Colorado cannabis enthusiasts flock to “the other Julie,” Julie Dooley, the baker behind Julie’s Natural Edibles.

Dooley is somewhat of a celebrity in Colorado’s cannabis community—various media outlets have labeled her a “pot baron”—as well as an outspoken activist for drug reform, working with the Cannabis Business Alliance to establish safe and fair regulations. She’s also paving the way for healthy edibles. A Celiac sufferer, Dooley makes sure all of her products—the line includes granola, roasted seeds, and trail mix—are organic and gluten-free. Julie’s Edibles was the first company of its kind when it began in in 2009, and her concept was simple: Why get high on a calorie-loaded fudge brownie when you could pop sunflower seeds instead?

Sitting in her industrial kitchen in the Stapleton warehouse district of Denver, the 46-year-old mother of three is articulate and unapologetic. Given the overall cultural shift in favor of wellness, it’s no surprise cannabis consumers in Colorado now desire a healthier product, she explains. It’s also in keeping with the state’s reputation for promoting active lifestyles.

“More important than these being gluten-free is having healthy edibles where cannabis has been paired with protein,” says Dooley. “You’ll have a much longer experience with my product than with a product that contains sugar.” Behind her, employees are weighing granola bars before hand-wrapping them in plastic. “Granola was our first product, and it makes sense for what we do. I want to wake up and have a bowl of granola. I want to have a pain-free day because I’m going to do a lot.”

Dooley’s edibles are also a favorite in the industry because they are strain-specific. Cannabis falls under two categories: sativas, which people refer to as “uppers,” and indicas, which offer a more relaxing high. (“In da couch” is a mnemonic device used to remember the difference.) While the number of strains on the market has grown tremendously—there are currently over 1,000—many edibles companies, like Sweet Grass Kitchen, use hybrids so customers can experience all-around highs.

Dooley, however, labels her products with the names of the strains used and their intended effect. A bag of roasted seeds, for example, is made with Kaboom, a strain that is 80 percent sativa, 20 percent indica, and the bag labels its anticipated high as “energetic, euphoric, pain relief.” Nutty Bite granola bars are made with Lamb’s Breath, a 90-percent sativa strain that is said to produce an “active, intense euphoria.” This transparency is as much a marketing tactic as it is a safety precaution. There’s no more not knowing what the hell that random brownie at a party will do to you.

“We keep all strains separated in this kitchen—we don’t mix them. We stay true to what the strains have to offer,” she says. “I can give you low-anxiety, I can give you couch-lock. We have customers that just want to go to bed, and people who want to work all day. Cannabis helps tailor your mood.”

Dooley buys much of the marijuana in her products from L’Eagle, a Denver favorite that prides itself on being Colorado’s only pharmaceutical-grade dispensary. Its cannabis is grown 100-percent organically, without the use of pesticides or chemicals, and its crops are tested on site for potency. One devotee tells me that smoking L’Eagle weed is like “eating an apple off a tree after years of buying canned produce from Walmart.” According to Leafly, a review site for strains and dispensaries (a Yelp for cannabis, basically), L’Eagle has the “tastiest flower around, from the first smell to the last toke.”

L’Eagle (pronounced “legal”) is run by husband and wife team John and Amy Andrle. Behind their dispensary’s quaint shop is a massive grow house where former organic tomato farmer Lucas Targos oversees some 1,200 plants encompassing 65 strains. They grow classic ones you’ve smoked since high school, like Sour Diesel and OG Kush, as well as industry innovations like L’Eagle Eagle, a “potent sativa great for tasks and activities” with a “refreshing smell that hits strong and is an uplifting euphoric high,” says Amy.

Spend just one minute at L’Eagle and it’s obvious this is no ordinary cannabis farm because, my god, the crop is holy. The plants are perky, the air is clear; there’s even an employee pruning fan leaves off the plants and readying them for compost. “Our market is the Whole Foods customer,” Amy explains as we walk through her grow.

L’Eagle’s business approach centers around the belief that consumers are becoming more concerned about and interested in what goes into the plants they smoke. When cannabis is heated, the nutrients come alive, as do the toxins and pesticides it was grown with. John argues that smoking cannabis grown with pesticides is worse than eating produce that has been sprayed with the same substances.

Instead of using chemicals, Targos runs the grow operation using a prevention method; he treats his plants with natural alternatives, growing them in coconut cores and peat and spraying them with extracts of garlic, rosemary, citrus, and neem oil. Along with plenty of human eyes carefully scrutinizing the plants, these organic pesticides allow L’Eagle to catch pests early on, says Targos.

L’Eagle grows its cannabis by cloning full-grown plants. To start a plant’s cycle, Targos will cut a branch from a “mama plant,” and place it inside a machine that provides hydration for two weeks, allowing the baby plant to grow roots. After that, it’s put in a one-gallon pot for about a month before it’s moved to a larger space and placed under 1,000-watt lightbulbs. Once the plant reaches a healthy size, it’ll then sit in a closed room under powerful yellow high-pressure sodium bulbs for eight weeks. At that point, the plants are blooming with flowers, complete with tiny crystals that make them sticky and glistening.

Once the buds go to harvest, the L’Eagle team dry-cures the plants, a practice Amy says is disappearing from the industry because there’s a rush to get to market. But she posits that “it’s important to let the live plant matter dry and dissipate completely in order to ensure the best flavor and smoothest smoke possible.”

Impressive scientific research has grown out of the Colorado cannabis industry’s desire to perfect its grow methods. Casual pot smokers associate marijuana only with THC, the psychoactive ingredient that’s responsible for altering mood, behavior, and consciousness—what you would call “getting high.” But research has found that THC is just one of six primary cannabinoids (chemical compounds found in cannabis) that affect the body and mind.

There’s CBN, which causes drowsiness and reduces spasms; CBC, which has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties; THCV, a psychoactive element that can help with diabetes and obesity; CBG, a nonpsychoactive compound found to reduce tumor formation; and CBD, which helps battle nausea, high blood pressure, and pain. The discovery of these cannabinoids has allowed growers to tweak product so consumers—and patients using marijuana for medical purposes—can get exactly what they want from their weed.

There are specific strains engineered to help treat the symptoms of ailments like diabetes, migraines, shingles, and multiple sclerosis. You can even buy a strain like Durban Poison, which has the appetite-decreasing compound THCV, to ensure you won’t get the munchies (related: see Bethenny Frankel’s Skinny Girl Marijuana business plans). L’Eagle is currently testing a new strain to add to its grow, AC/DC, or Pennywise, which Targos calls an “industry game changer”; with its high CBD and low THC composition, it’s supposed to be of benefit to those struggling with epilepsy.

“People think that the industry here is one big party, but the reality is, a lot of people who are coming in here are using cannabis for health and wellness,” explains Alison Ledden, the marketing director of The Farm, a craft dispensary in Boulder with a similar ethos to L’Eagle.

One of the city’s most popular cannabis spots, The Farm couldn’t be further from than the barbed-wire-protected medical marijuana dispensaries I’ve visited in Los Angeles. The interior has wood floors and exposed-beam ceilings, and the waiting area features a huge chalkboard with the day’s available strains written on it in colorful lettering. There are bookshelves lined with local glass pieces and cannabis-themed coffee table books.

It’s like being at a trendy coffee shop, except I’m about to buy a $12 rolled joint instead of a soy latte.
Inside the room where the cannabis is actually sold, a bud tender walks me through every strain on the menu, pointing to the various hash extracts that are laid out on silver cake trays. It’s like being at a trendy coffee shop, except I’m about to buy a $12 rolled joint instead of a soy latte.

“We’re now seeing an educated consumer,” Ledden notes, showing me her store’s impressive selection of high-end vapes, not unlike the ones I test out after yoga. “They care about what they are putting in their body and the method in which they are doing so. That’s why vaping is so huge now. Five years ago, vapes were clunky and big. Now everything is really small and sleek.”

Vapes aren’t the only category that’s seen a makeover. At Illuzion Glass Galleries, an upscale cannabis paraphernalia shop where pieces have price tags of up to $60,000, store manager Scott Halverson says buying expensive glass pieces has become an “obsession.” The folks dropping $40,000 on bongs are usually collectors, but everyday consumers are also investing in devices that cost a few grand.

The fashion world is catching on to this luxury rebrand: Style.com featured an $8,750 gold joint case in its holiday gift guide, and magazines like Elle and Vogue have also started to cover the cannabis business. Shine Papers makes 24-karat gold slow-burning rolling papers that celebrities like Miley Cyrus and 2 Chainz have been spotted using. Cheryl Shuman, an LA-based cannabis branding professional, is working on a line called Haute Vape, complete with a 14-karat gold vape encrusted with diamonds. She told Fast Company she easily envisions the piece being sold at a high-end department store like Neiman Marcus.

Of all my appointments in Colorado, I’m particularly excited for my trip to Primal Wellness, which markets itself as “the world’s first cannabis infused day spa” and is a short 20-minute drive outside of Denver in Englewood. I’ve decided to test drive a weed facial.

Owner Danielli Martel asserts that the cannabis oil she uses at her spa is especially great for facials since cannabis is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. The theory goes that when it seeps into the skin, it works to combat conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne, while also rejuvenating the skin. When I get my complimentary treatment, I expect the room to reek of weed, but the scent is subtle. It feels like a normal facial in that there’s no discernible effect while the aesthetician works the cannabis products into my face—no tingles, certainly no high—but my skin turns plump and glows for days afterward.

Primal Wellness also uses cannabis oil for massage treatments that tackle internal problems. “We treat customers with neuropathy and carpal tunnel, as well as athletes like skiers dealing with soreness and inflammation,” says Martel. “It feels great to have a massage medicated with cannabis and see the throbbing disappear.”

Martel makes her own products, mixing oil she buys from a local dispensary into her homemade creams. Most other places around town that offer cannabis massages, though, use products from Apothecanna, a Denver-based body care brand that champions “traditional plant medicine.”

Apothecanna was started by in 2009 by James Kennedy, a beauty industry veteran whose resume boasts positions at Avon and Johnson & Johnson. The products are distributed wholesale to some 300 clients around Colorado and are also produced and sold in Oregon and California as well. The brand has a full line of topicals that includes moisturizer, pain cream, body butter, and lip balm. They all contain cannabis-sourced THC, plus ingredients like lavender, chamomile, frankincense, arnica, juniper, ginger, and chili-pepper capsaicin.

“Cannabis itself has a stimulating property,” says Kennedy. “It encourages blood flow, so you’ll get a naturally radiant, plump, healthful glow when it’s used for beauty.”

Apothecanna recommends its products be used for everyday care, though each has a specific suggested use. The stimulating creme for example, made with ginger and grapefruit, is best applied “in the morning and prior to physical activity to invigorate tired muscles and joints and to provide an all natural pick-me-up.” The pain creme, infused with peppermint and arnica, is “perfect for use on sore muscles, swollen joints and distressed skin.”

Kennedy believes cannabis beauty has huge category potential, and he’s not the only one. Apothecanna is certainly the biggest player in space, but there are also competing companies around Colorado like Mary Jane’s Medicinals, which sells cannabis bath salts that get you stoned while you soak in the tub. (A local bud tender promises I will sleep “deliciously well” after a Mary Jane’s bath.) Just two months ago, Women’s Wear Daily reported that cannabis products have piqued the interest of the spa industry, and stories about weed chapstick are popping up all over the beauty internet.

After testing out Apothecanna products, I get it: They look, smell, and feel great. The branding is clean (Kennedy references Kiehl’s and Malin + Goetz as inspiration) and after slathering my sore back and neck when I get to my hotel room, I’m blown away by the healing properties I experience. This stuff really works.

At this point, it’s probably pretty clear that I’m a cannabis user. Not a heavy one, but my friends and I like to smoke pot at parties and over casual dinner hangouts, and it’s understood that we keep it pretty under wraps. After all, in New York City, it’s illegal. We get our pot from local delivery guys, and while the system has come a long way (we now communicate via text), it’s still somewhat underground: You have to know someone who knows someone who has a guy who will deliver to your apartment.

When I fly to Colorado, I’m excited to finally be submersed in an open weed-loving society. In Denver, I’ve been told, pot is everywhere. But at the same time, I learn once I actually touch down in the state capital, it’s also nowhere.

Denver is the “Mile-High City” and its basketball team is the Nuggets. While those names are fun coincidences (and were instituted well before medical marijuana first paved the way for recreational legalization), they play into my preconceived notions of the scene: cannabis businesses all over town, most of the population good and stoned, sidewalk cafes offering me goodies laced with drugs. Upon my arrival at a hotel near Denver’s Union Station, I’m assigned to room No. 420.

But that’s where my all-pot-all-the-time fantasies end. A tourism counter at the car-rental outpost has tons of pamphlets on local businesses (restaurants, stores) and activities (hikes, tours), but no mention of cannabis. I don’t see ads or articles on the legal substance in local newspapers or magazines I come across on street corners and at vegan cafes (where, by the way, the clientele is so obviously stoned). While the industry is very much thriving, it’s also incredibly concealed, or as Amy from L’Eagle puts it, “hiding in plain sight.”

Cannabis businesses can’t advertise in publications unless the publications can prove that 70 percent of their readership is over the age of 21. This law comes from the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, and its main objective is to halt “mass-market campaigns that have a high likelihood of reaching minors.” Laws also limit how businesses can advertise beyond their actual storefronts. Martel’s spa can only post its logo on a sign hanging above its door since the design features a pot leaf; you won’t see promotional signage or materials anywhere else in the neighborhood.

There’s one stretch in Denver on South Broadway that’s loaded with cannabis dispensaries—it’s even been dubbed the Green Mile—but most businesses I visit are spread out in warehouses across various neighborhoods, some in the far outskirts of the city. This is because Denver’s cannabis laws prohibit businesses from opening up within 1,000 feet of schools, child care centers, competing cannabis facilities, and drug and alcohol treatment centers. The options are quite limited.

But the most strictly regulated segment of the cannabis industry is by and large edibles. Last year, some 5 million edibles were sold across Colorado, where the category accounts for some 45 percent of the cannabis market. Three deaths have been linked to edibles in the state so far, and it was recently reported that calls to poison control centers about children who have accidentally ingested edibles have spiked.

As a result, concerned lawmakers are constantly implementing changes to dosing and packaging laws. “We legalized cannabis sales in January of last year, and by February of the following year, we had to have a massive change in how all of our edibles look,” notes Dooley. “I had six products on the market before February that we had to pull.”

Right now, Colorado laws mandate that edibles must be placed in “child-resistant” containers that are “opaque so the product cannot be seen.” The edibles must also have hyperspecific labeling that includes “Colorado’s Universal Symbol indicating the container holds marijuana; a list of all nonorganic pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides used to produce the marijuana; and a list of solvents and chemicals used to produce marijuana concentrate.”

The delicious-looking cookies Berliner showed me at Sweet Grass Kitchen aren’t displayed at dispensaries. Instead, they’re packaged and sealed in thick red plastic containers, forcing customers to leave plenty to their imagination.

Almost every business owner I speak with mentions how difficult these regulations are on their companies—especially because the rules keep changing. Just last month, lawmakers voted unanimously for a bill mandating that cannabis-infused edibles “have a distinct look” by 2016. Come next year, every edible must be “shaped, stamped, colored, or otherwise marked, when practicable, with a standard symbol indicating that it contains marijuana and is not for consumption by children.”

“It is incredibly challenging,” says Dooley. “If a regulation comes, I have to be quick and nimble to be able to adapt. At any given moment, some inspector could come in and find a reason to shut me down. That is a terrifying way to run a business. As a consequence, we do things in small quantities. You can’t order anything in bulk. You can’t be stuck with a pre-labeled bag that you spend $10,000 on that’s no longer compliant.”

But advertising, real estate, and packaging regulations are small potatoes compared to the basic money issue the cannabis industry faces. Currently, the entire industry operates on a cash-only model. Since marijuana is illegal on the federal level, businesses are forbidden from keeping money with or borrowing money from banks, which are federal entities. They also cannot accept electronic payments through credit cards.

This means everything—rent, wages, insurance, security, expenses—must be paid for in cold, hard cash. Bank accounts belonging to cannabis businesses (as well as personal accounts belonging to the people who own them) are shut down all the time, and not being able to get bank loans means only businesses that can scrounge up enough capital independently can survive.

Cash in this business, as the New York Times reported back in February, is “held in safes, handed out in clipped bundles on payday, carried in brown paper bags and cardboard boxes to the tax office and the utility company, ferried around the state by armored vehicles and armed guards.” It’s not uncommon to walk into dispensaries and see employees specifically tasked with handling the money-moving.

This makes cannabis entrepreneurs understandably uneasy. Martel of Primal Wellness half-jokingly references the anxiety she feels driving around town with a huge bag of cash in the backseat. Berliner notes that, because she fears for the safety of herself and her employees, Sweet Grass Kitchen refrains from posting its address on the internet.

It’s not just cannabis businesses that are struggling with Colorado’s strict regulations; the rules are tricky for consumers too. Under Amendment 64, anyone over the age of 21 has the right to purchase, carry, and use cannabis in Colorado; however, the law prohibits cannabis from being consumed “openly and publicly.” Unlike alcohol, you can’t smoke weed in places like bars, restaurants, or sports stadiums, and because of Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act, you can’t establish joint-friendly cafes or lounges like those in Amsterdam.

Law enforcement has pretty much turned a blind eye to vapes, locals tell me, and it’s fairly standard to see people vaping on sidewalks. As the Colorado Pot Guide’s website puts it, “discretion is appreciated, and usually required. … Most stoners in Colorado are pretty considerate in terms of keeping things low key. Avoid smoking near other people such as busy sidewalks and bus stops, and it is unlikely you will attract attention. For many people in Denver, any alley works fine for a quick session.”

Open consumption in Colorado comes with what can be a severe penalty: getting caught smoking a joint or vaping on a busy street corner could cost you up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in prison, depending on how serious the offense. Denver Police issued some 668 public consumption citations in the first three quarters of 2014, according to Colorado Public Radio, compared to the 117 tickets police wrote the entire previous year.

There are a number of members-only clubs around Colorado that allow pot since they are considered private residences (Martel’s Primal Wellness Spa offers a membership in which participants can attend exclusive events where they light up and then enjoy spa treatments), but the rules prohibiting open consumption have made social smoking hard to come by. “There has to be some intelligent way of doing things,” notes Apothecanna’s Kennedy. “Like juice bars to match the lifestyle—the equivalent of the Dutch coffee shop. But until then, I think it will be largely underground for a while.”

This is what inspired 33-year-old Brett Davis to start Green Labs, a cannabis incubator that rents out office space and holds communal events. Under the same ownership as New York City’s AltSpace, Green Labs hosts events like Stoner Scrabble, Puff Pass Paint, Bong Bingo, Sushi and Joint Rolling, and Donnelly’s cannabis yoga class. The events are open to the public, but are considered private because participants must RSVP and buy tickets.

“We originally started out with larger consumption parties that got pretty big,” Davis explains as we sit inside Green Labs’ three-floor loft. “We were getting, like, 300 people and it wasn’t really benefitting the community. We wanted to have a different type of angle for these events, so we looked at what was missing and realized there were no social events with an educational element.”

Running a place like Green Labs is tricky. The model is technically BYOC, and while Davis can’t hand guests joints, the space is always stocked with weed. At a Saturday night Puff Pass Paint class I go to, there’s a communal table stacked with rolling papers, bowls, and bud.

Davis says he understands the intention of Colorado’s consumption regulations—they’re about safety, which remains top-of-mind to everyone in the cannabis community. But restricting public consumption is probably not the answer, he says, mainly because people are going to do it anyway.

“Regardless of where you can or can’t smoke, when you walk down the street, cannabis is everywhere,” he says. “That smell is not coming from the dispensaries. I’m just not sure who will be the one to pull the trigger, but I think things will have to change.”

“One of the biggest misconceptions around here is that everyone is cool with pot. And they are ******* not.”

Cannabis journalist and activist Diane Fornbacher has been a weed advocate for 20 years, and she isn’t one to tip-toe around issues in the industry, especially as they pertain to women.

She’s a founding member of NORML’s Women’s Alliance and has worked for both High Times and Skunk, but her main focus these days is running Ladybud, a site she started in 2013 to cover women’s cannabis culture. Over a very Colorado lunch at a vegan restaurant attached to a Hare Krishna temple, Fornbacher tells me Ladybud is the most “amazing nightmare” she’s ever had.

“Our demographic is brave women between the ages of 18 all the way to wherever, because we cover a full spectrum,” she says. “Our ideal reader has an awareness of self and isn’t afraid to use her real name if she’s quoted by the news.”

Ladybud covers issues women in the cannabis community face, like the threat of having their children taken away by governmental child protective services, something that Fornbacher has been very vocal about ever since the child-welfare agency visited her home.

The stigma around the marijuana industry is very real for female entrepreneurs in particular. Dooley of Julie’s Edibles tells me it took her a while “to come out of the closet” as a mom working in cannabis. She’s open and honest with her kids about her career, and while she educates them on cannabis safety—her older son is studying chemistry in college and is interested in cannabis medical research; her younger daughter is “opposed to drugs”—she’s been attacked by mothers in her neighborhood who advocate for cannabis criminalization. When Berliner from Sweet Grass Kitchen gave up teaching to start her edibles company, she knew she’d never be able to teach again because “it’s just not culturally accepted yet.”

“I don’t want to hide underground,” says Fornbacher. “I fought for a long time for these rights and I still feel like an outsider in a place where it’s legal. It’s a repression of a whole industry, and it’s just not fair because they’ll take our tax money but they won’t give us our rights.”

For the cannabis industry to truly rebrand itself and gain mainstream acceptance, it needs to confront the hypersexualization of women in its marketing. A quick flip through a magazine like High Times and you’re bombarded with ads featuring girls in bikinis blowing bongs, naked women straddling life-size vapes, and porny images of the infamous “420 nurse.”

Advertising like this fuels the “ganga girl” stereotype and provides zero representation for the smart, successful, professional women in the business. Ladybud publishes pieces that both support and reprimand such imagery. Fornbacher says that though this type of branding bothers her, she believes the cannabis culture is an open space for everyone: “Yes, marketing has not lent itself to empowering females. I’m not a stiletto stoner, and I think there needs to be more inclusion, but I don’t object to other people’s advertising just because I’m not a fan of their aesthetic personally and professionally.”

Others, though, are working aggressively to turn the tide. Olivia Mannix and Jennifer DeFalco started cannabis marketing agency Cannabrand in January 2014 to help businesses enter into the evolving market. The Denver-based company offers branding, digital marketing, advertising, and public relations services.

“We try to remove any of the seedy subculture messaging and pivot it,” Mannix explains. “Advertising and imagery can get the luxury consumer, and that’s what we’re working on. Weed is the new wine, and we’re rebranding it to make it look more glamorous, especially for women.”

Cannabrand creates mood boards to determine business’s aesthetics, sometimes whipping up entire brand identities from scratch. Its work stretches from interior design to social media to uniform strategy. Mannix says she encourages businesses to stay away from sexual imagery because “it’s alienating to consumers. The industry used to be heavily targeted to men, but now we’re trying to target men, women, and LGBT.”

“Sex sells,” she continues, “but it can also pigeonhole your market. We’re trying to legitimize the industry and our clients are steering away from the counterculture to promote cannabis in the best light.”

The point that’s hammered home by everyone I meet is that you can smoke pot and also be a functioning professional (provided you’re not high on the job, of course). This is something I already knew; I’ve been doing it for years, thank you very much. So after days of staying sober while reporting this story, I let myself indulge during Donnelly’s cannabis yoga class on my last day in Colorado.

I repeat the mantra Yes, I can! throughout the class, and during the vape demonstration, I’m an active participant, trying every piece. I feel great the entire afternoon at Green Labs, and all the way to the airport too. I’m also so unbelievably stoned that I’m convinced I’ve taken all my possessions with me, even though my purse (complete with wallet, ID, and apartment keys) is locked inside a closet at Green Labs. I only realize I’m missing these crucial items once I’m already at the airport.

I’m left to meekly call my editor and explain that I, cliche of cliches, have gotten too high to make my flight home on time. As if this lapse in responsibility needs to be further highlighted, I somehow find myself that night at a Bud and Breakfast, a “420-friendly” location decorated with Grateful Dead photos.

It has a “wake and bake” breakfast where hash browns are a full-on double entendre. The bud bar in the living room features a collection of pipes and bongs, and although the hotel isn’t technically allowed to provide cannabis, a stash is magically refilled every hour or so. I sit in the living room for a bit, admiring the fancy glass pieces on display in an antique breakfront next to a roaring fireplace.

I think about lighting up—when in Rome and all that—but remember my missed flight and pledge to stay sober until I land safely back in New York. I feel slightly ashamed. Did I drink too much of the THC-laced Kool-Aid? Could I not handle the freedom that comes along with legalization?

“That’s actually really common here,” laughs Green Labs’s Davis when I tell him about my airport mishap. “Everyone is still trying to figure out how to use cannabis. It’s like when you first turn 21 and get ****-faced and sick the first few times you drink. But you don’t end up becoming that kind of drinker. Eventually, you learn how to be a responsible cannabis consumer, too.”
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Marijuana Legalization 2015: Meet The 20 Most Influential People In Cannabis







BUSINESS
Troy Dayton and Steve DeAngelo
The Gatekeepers of the Marijuana Industry


Courtesy of ArcView Group

pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=NOFKfQRp

Troy Dayton and Stephen DeAngelo know what it takes to get investors and business owners talking marijuana – and shaking hands. As co-founders of the ArcView Group, an investor network and research firm launched in 2010 and based in Oakland, California, CEO Dayton and DeAngelo, the president, help marijuana entrepreneurs find venture capital. On Green Street, knowing how to get high is an asset, not a liability.

Many pot enthusiasts looking to start a business in the legal weed market are unfamiliar with raising capital. “Cannabis entrepreneurs don’t have as much experience as others working with investors,” says DeAngelo. ArcView helps them develop pitches, interact with venture capitalists and close deals.

The group hosts conferences to get people with marijuana business ideas shaking hands with financiers. The conferences were not an immediate success. “For the first two or three conferences, nobody wrote a check,” says DeAngelo. “Now, when a compelling company with a good pitch leaves the stage, they are trailed by three, four, five investors who are eager to have the first conversation with them.”

In 2014, the first full year there was a legal recreational marijuana market and the year that pot shops opened in Colorado and Washington state, total marijuana sales reached $2.7 billion. That’s a 74 percent increase over the medicinal marijuana market that existed in 2013. It’s the fastest growing industry in the U.S., according to market experts, and the possibilities seem endless.

“This isn’t like the tech boom, where you had innovation that was driving market adoption,” says Dayton. “In this industry, it’s much more similar to the opening of China or the fall of the Berlin Wall because you’re talking about people who are willing to break the law in the millions to get at a particular product. That just doesn’t happen very often in modern history.”

Follow them on twitter: @arcviewgroup , @tdazzl and @stevedeangelo

ADVOCACY
Brian Vicente
Marijuana Defender of the People


Courtesy of Brian Vicente

pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=i_O-T0QL

After graduating from law school, Brian Vicente began a career defending medical marijuana patients, people suffering from AIDS and cancer. They were finding some relief from pot at a time when the law offered few protections for pot users. “Many were still being harassed by police, losing their jobs, having their kids taken away,” says the Denver attorney, a partner with Vicente Sederberg LLC, also known as the Marijuana Law Firm. “That really launched my career.”

Today, Vicente is recognized throughout the marijuana industry as a standard-bearer of the modern pot movement. He carries its central message – that the real crime isn’t using pot illegally but rather the criminalization of pot – to lawmakers and into courtrooms. He also was instrumental in the 2012 passage of Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana.

That legislation, along with Washington state’s Initiative 502, became a paradigm for lawmakers around the country – and maybe even globally – who are considering their own legalization measures. “Colorado showed that marijuana legalization was possible,” says Vicente. “At my office, we have folks get in touch every week, elected officials from across the world, who are interested in what Colorado is doing.”

The marijuana industry has come a long way since Colorado’s first pot shops opened their doors in January 2014. One year later, banks still shy away from working with the industry, and many pot businesses have troubles filing taxes. Still, there has been improvement. "We really don’t face the same existential threat from the federal government that we faced previously,” says Vicente. “The fear a couple of years ago was that the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] would parachute into Colorado and start making arrests. I think we’ve reached that tipping point, if you will, where public opinion is really clear on this topic.

BUSINESS
Wanda James
The Role Model


Courtesy Cannabis Global Initiative

pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=6uNqZGxC

For Wanda James, entering the marijuana industry was about making a political statement. “Social justice,” she says.

Seeing her brother serve around a decade in the criminal justice system for what she calls “$120 worth of weed” pushed her to enter the industry, first as the co-owner of a dispensary and later as a restaurateur and head of an advocacy organization. Up next she and her husband will be opening a marijuana cooking school.

As one of the few black women in an industry heavily dominated by white men, James, a former Navy lieutenant and political campaign manager, and her husband Scott Durrah, a former Marine and certified chef, felt that they could provide examples of the kind of people who were involved in the industry and be a catalyst for further change with regard to marijuana policy in the U.S.

“We wanted to step out and say this has got to change and we’ve got to stop arresting people for cannabis,” says James, 51.

As director of the Cannabis Global Initiative she’s excited about the Obama administration’s embrace of medical marijuana and the future of the industry in the upcoming year.

“For the first time a president is coming out in favor of medical marijuana and in favor of social justice for marijuana. That’s a huge step ” says James. “I think that Barack Obama’s administration can be looked at as moving this whole thing forward.”

Follow them on twitter: @WandaLJames

BUSINESS
Dan Rogers
The "Potrepreneur"

pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=QDlrPprB

When Dan Rogers switched from a job in government relations to the marijuana industry in 2009, not everyone was open minded. Former co-workers laughed about his choice to become a “drug dealer,” and one-time friends refused to make eye contact at parties.

“The switch from government relations to the cannabis industry was a drastic change, considering that I was entering into a federally illegal industry,” he says. “I knew I would be severing relationships and opportunities working in the government or banking industry in the future.”

But all that was a long time ago.

Since he made that decision, Rogers, now 41, and business partner Brandon Jennewine have started a handful of retail stores and production facilities in Colorado. After starting those businesses, Rogers co-founded CannaSys, a company that develops and sells technology to cannabis businesses.

Rogers, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Jennewine are also founding members of the Marijuana Industry Group, a trade and lobbying association.

In his few years of experience there have been some surprises, he says. On the one hand, Rogers said he’s impressed by how sophisticated the Colorado scene has become in such a short time, and the professionalism of the new industry. On the other hand, he’s shocked by a continued lack of support from regulators and banks, which remain the biggest challenge for the industry.

Public perceptions also are a challenge.

“The second-most challenging [thing] is overcoming perceptions that operators and owners in the industry are ‘pot-heads’ and foolish,” he says.

Now that he’s moved into the technology side, Rogers’ role is more about keeping the company on track financially, and reporting to investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

He recently predicted that by the time the iconic date of 4/20 comes more states will have safe-access laws to cannabis and prices will be much lower.

RESEARCH
Raphael Mechoulam
Father of THC

pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=zeghE78z

In 1964 Raphael Mechoulam became the first person to isolate and synthesize THC [tetrahydrocannabinol], the compound within the marijuana plant that causes the sensation of being high. Ever since, he has been fascinated by the plant and even convinced the U.S. National Institutes of Health to support his research. His research into the plant has also produced insights into the human brain. A colleague in his lab discovered a receptor in the brain, which they named “anandamide” after the Sanskrit word for “bliss,” that is key to facilitating the euphoria produced by THC.

Despite his accomplishments, Mechoulam remains frustrated by the lack of interest other researchers and government agencies have shown in studying marijuana. He says plenty of evidence points to the benefits that cannabis may hold in treating major health problems, from epilepsy and depression to pain and schizophrenia.

“Cannabinoids have been found to be anticancer agents but guess how many clinical trials have been done with cannabinoids in cancer patients? "None, zero,” he says. “That's a shame, isn't it?”

Even so, Mechoulam doesn’t think that marijuana should be legalized.

“I believe that people should try to enjoy themselves and be happy or successful on the basis of their own efforts and not have something from the outside help them,” he says. “But each one of us has our own ideas.”

Today, Mechoulam is happy to have more company in the field of cannabis research, which was a lonely pursuit for most of the 51 years he has studied the plant. He strongly believes that researchers will soon discover breakthrough treatments for a host of medical issues based on cannabinoids.

“I’m an optimist,” he says.

BUSINESS
Chloe Villano
The Cannabis Consultant

pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=5hf3p0iZ

As more entrepreneurs head West to cash in on the so-called green rush, many are running into unexpected challenges. There are licensing, regulatory, packaging and zoning rules and regulations – to name a few -- all of which are unique to the cannabis industry.

That’s where Colorado cannabis consultant Chloe Villano comes into the picture. The former paralegal initially used her knowledge of the marijuana industry to create a consulting venture, and now she operates a school known as Cloverleaf University. At Cloverleaf, she teaches about licensing expansion, mergers and acquisitions, compliance and related subjects.

Starting the university wasn’t on her radar in the beginning, but Villano said she was getting so many new clients, she began having to put them into classes.

“I think people want someone to help them understand this business, because it’s very complicated," Villano says. "We’re kind of in this gray area where we’re compliant under state law but not under federal law, and the state laws are changing all the time.

“And then there are building codes, power upgrades. It can be a very complicated business model.”

Follow them on twitter: @ChloeVillano

ADVOCACY
Sanjay Gupta
Marijuana's Chief Medical Correspondent


Getty Images/D Dipasupil/FilmMagic
pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=t6zeKYJ8

It’s not the growing tax revenues or the growth of retail markets that’s made Dr. Sanjay Gupta such an ardent supporter of the movement to legalize medical marijuana. For him, it’s the science. After voicing his pessimism about the potential of medical marijuana early on, Gupta, 45, began looking into research from places like Israel and Canada where scientists were able to study marijuana’s potential to combat cancer, epilepsy and other serious medical conditions.

“It was an accumulation of information,” says Gupta. “I was not really impressed with this literature when I first found it, six, seven years ago. I think the idea that most of the science in the U.S. was designed to look for harm, not benefit … painted a distorted picture of medicinal marijuana. When you start to look at Israel, other countries, there were some really good studies. It was a different picture when you started to look elsewhere.”

The information he found has brought him to a radically different conclusion than the one he reached in 2009 when he penned the op-ed “Why I Would Vote No on Pot,” and on Sunday night he released his third pro-legalization documentary, “Weed 3: The Marijuana Revolution.” In it the neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent for CNN assembled some of the biggest names in U.S. policy, including heads of government agencies, Democratic and Republican senators and even the president of the United States, to bring his case for legalization and further study of marijuana to the public.

In the coming year, Gupta says he’s most excited about the possibility of marijuana being used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“You have 22 veterans who kill themselves every day, not on the battlefield, but as a result of suicide and so much of that is linked to PTSD,” he says. “There’s simply not enough treatment for this. When you look at studies from other countries, mostly from Canada, now that I’ve seen what it does to certain parts of the brain, you see why it could be beneficial.”

When it comes to marijuana’s potential as a medicine, Gupta says, “There’s a lot there.”

Follow them on twitter: @drsanjaygupta

BUSINESS
Robert Jacob
Mayor of Pot Town


Courtesy of Robert Jacob
pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=7YsrLWD8

It’s not every day that national media outlets cover a mayoral election in a small American town. But that’s exactly what happened in 2013 when Robert Jacob became mayor of Sebastopol, California, an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. What made that otherwise unremarkable event newsworthy is that before becoming mayor Jacob was running a medical marijuana dispensary called Peace in Medicine. In most political consultants’ playbook, that kind of a resume would be seen as a deal killer.

But times are changing.

Jacob is widely considered the country’s first “ganjapreneur”-cum-elected official. He was seen by many as “a symbol of how federal laws lag behind the times,” according to a New York Times article from December 2013. It’s an image Jacob takes pride in.

“In northern California, we’re breaking down many of the misperceptions that existed” surrounding marijuana legalization, says Jacob. When speaking with other elected officials, Jacob makes it clear that supporting cannabis “is something that makes them electable.”

Jacob’s term as mayor expired in December 2014. He has continued to serve as the executive director of SPARC, a medical marijuana center based in San Francisco that provides lab-tested marijuana to cancer patients. He also assisted the League of California Cities’ Public Safety Policy Committee on medical marijuana issues.

He sees medical and recreational marijuana legalization not as mutually exclusive efforts but as complementary. “I think the majority of cannabis users are using medicinally, they just don’t realize it – people who are replacing ibuprofen for their sore back or sleeping pills for insomnia,” says Jacob. “When you ask somebody, ‘Why do you use cannabis?’ They say, ‘At night, it helps me sleep.’ It’s a story that comes out of people’s mouths over and over again.”

Follow them on twitter: @SPARCcannabis

ADVOCACY
Ethan Nadelmann
The Architect of Marijuana Legalization


Courtesy of Drug Policy Alliance
pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=1MNqYt5N

Few people were as outspoken about marijuana legalization in 1996, the year California became the first state to allow medical cannabis, as Ethan Nadelmann. As founder and executive director of the national Drug Policy Alliance, Nadelmann has been pushing for pot reform long before marijuana dispensaries had websites or pot shops started selling cannabis-infused edibles.

Nineteen years later, the effort pioneered by Nadelmann and others shows no signs of easing. To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Others have decriminalized marijuana possession. Legal experts expect that by the end of 2016 another five to seven states will legalize pot in some form.

Nadelmann says his motivations for starting the Drug Policy Alliance in 2000 were based on what he argues is the failure of the so-called War on Drugs – a policy, he says, that disproportionately affects Americans of color. “Today, if you were to randomly stop a hundred young white men and a hundred young black men in almost any town in America, roughly the same percent would have a small amount of marijuana in their pocket,” explains Nadelmann. “But in any city, black men are two to five times more likely to be arrested.”

What’s next for Nadelmann and the alliance? Advocates have their eyes – and money – on California, the largest state and one with an already solid medical marijuana industry it can build upon. “Legalization in California has much greater international implications,” says Nadelmann. “So when I talk to my drug policy reform allies in Mexico and I ask, ‘What’s it going to take to stir up drug policy debate and make progress on reform here in Mexico?’ their response is, ‘When California legalizes marijuana.’”"

Follow them on twitter: @ethannadelmann , @DrugPolicyOrg

BUSINESS
Jane West
The Renaissance Woman of Weed

pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=weJPa8bG

Until the last months of 2013, Jane West’s only relationship with cannabis was a ziplock bag in her freezer and the occasional joint smoked on a patio.

“As a mother of two young boys with a full-time position in corporate America, I wasn’t following marijuana legalization nationwide,” says West, now 38. Today she owns three companies in the cannabis sector and is looking at international expansion.

It all started with an especially fun night out.

“A close friend had acquired some infused THC products and wanted to try them for a night out,” she says, noting that she was impressed by the professional packaging and information that was nothing like the plastic-wrapped brownies she had seen before.

“I’ll tell you what … we had so much fun,” says West. “And I started thinking about how much fun orchestrated events could be when operated under the assumption that everyone was consuming cannabis.”

From there, she started planning monthly events, including a “Wake n’ Bacon” brunch on Easter Sunday, a “Halloweed” party at the end of October and even a mile-high birthday bash a year after cannabis legalization. In January 2014 she was featured on a handful of network news broadcasts about the legal scene in Denver. But then, shortly after NBC aired segments about her, she was fired from the company she had worked at for eight years. From then on, she had no choice but to go “all in.”

West continued planning bigger and bigger marijuana events, but also co-founded a for-profit networking organization called Women Grow. Eight months later, there are 23 chapters in three countries meeting monthly. West plans to more than double the number by yearend.

“Cannabis is for everyone, and the faces of business success in this industry should reflect that,” she says. “I was concerned that outdated, uneducated stereotypes of the cannabis industry would prevent women from entering the market at the time they should. In order to effect change and truly empower women, we needed to develop a platform for them to organize on a local level.”

By this time next year she hopes to be expanding internationally, beginning a series of education programs and running a campaign to change how women are used in marijuana marketing, among other things. She’s convinced that women will soon become the dominant buyers of cannabis after it is legalized and becomes just another household good.

West also wants to make sure women have an equal chance to profit from the industry.

“Our mission is to have 1,000 women-owned cannabis businesses created at the inception of this industry instead of having to break through a glass ceiling after the industry is fully formed,” she says.

RESEARCH
Geoffrey Guy
Pioneer of Marijuana-Based Medicines

pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...offrey-guy.jpg


Dr. Geoffrey Guy is a pharmaceutical entrepreneur who launched GW Pharmaceuticals in 1998 to make prescription medicines out of marijuana. No such medicines existed at that time. His decision to supply that market with a new company followed his creation of two other pharmaceutical companies. It also reflected his research orientation: Guy has published more than 200 medical studies and written a textbook on the medicinal uses of cannabis and cannabinoids.

Today GW Pharmaceuticals manufactures Sativex, “the world’s first prescription medicine derived from the cannabis plant,” which is already approved in 27 countries to ease muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the drug “fast track” approval status for relieving pain related to cancer.

The company’s newest drug, Epidiolex, is derived from a compound within the marijuana plant called CBD and treats seizures in patients with severe forms of epilepsy. Many of these patients are children who have failed to respond to all other forms of treatment. Demand for the medicine is so urgent among parents that the FDA granted permission for the company to begin distributing it to a select group of patients in the U.S. last November through a compassionate use trial. Since then, GW Pharmaceuticals has commissioned a suite of clinical trials to prove the drug’s safety and efficacy. The company hopes to receive full FDA approval as early as 2016.

Before dreaming up a cannabis-based company, Guy founded Ethical Holdings and Phytopharm. He holds diplomas in pharmacology and pharmaceutical medicine from University of London and the British Royal College of Physicians

BUSINESS
Snoop Dogg
The Icon


Getty Images/Daniel Boczarski/Stringer
pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=TRL241Rz

Beginning with his auspicious debut on the 1992 hip-hop classic “The Chronic,” Snoop Dogg cemented his place in the collective American lexicon as a smooth lyricist and an undeniable presence. As the years have rolled along, no one has become more closely aligned with the sticky-icky-icky than Calvin Cordozar Broadus, the d-o-double-g himself.

But as he’s come of age, the 43-year-old from Long Beach, California, has moved on to much more than just music and he’s used his association with marijuana and substantial name recognition to assemble a fund specifically to invest in cannabis startups.

Snoop’s Casa Verde Capital reportedly already has invested in marijuana delivery service Eaze, which has raised $10 million in a series A funding round, according to digital news source Quartz. TechCrunch says Broadus is hoping to raise $25 million for Casa Verde, which will focus on tech-affiliated companies in the cannabis industry, rather than on cultivation or production.

Follow them on twitter: @SnoopDogg

ADVOCACY
Mason Tvert
The Spokesman

pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=Za13yXw1

Mason Tvert has been working in marijuana policy for more than a decade, but some things still surprise him.

“It’s been remarkable how quickly the public’s attitude towards marijuana has shifted,” he says, noting an especially obvious change in the last few years.

Today, Tvert, 33, is head of communications at Denver’s Marijuana Policy Project. He started working for the organization shortly after graduating from college. In 2004, he ran a medical marijuana advocacy campaign in his home state of Arizona during the primary and general elections. Soon after, he moved to Colorado to launch Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation meant to educate voters about the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol.

These days, he says, the conversation has changed.

“Up until 2012, the discussion was always focused primarily on whether marijuana should be made legal. Now it’s a question of how marijuana should be made legal,” he says. While there certainly is a continued debate about legalization in general, there is also more and more discussion about the complex regulatory issues and other more detailed aspects.

And then there are the opponents. Tvert says this is one of the most surprising aspects of the marijuana policy space.

“I am fascinated by the series of lawsuits that were filed with the objective of rolling back Colorado’s laws that regulate marijuana for adult use,” he says. “It really highlights the extent to which some folks can’t get over the idea of adults being allowed to use marijuana.”

This inherent bias, he says, is one of the biggest challenges he continues to face. Even as more and more states legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use, old stereotypes remain. Tvert says it’s frustrating to see officials treat marijuana as if it’s “the most dangerous legal product around.”

Even so, this group is a shrinking minority, he says. By this time next year, he expects to see more ballot initiatives and legislation getting off the ground in a handful of states.

“We could also see some victories or major gains in state legislatures around the country,” he says.

BUSINESS
Issac Dietrich
The Mark Zuckerberg of Pot


Courtesy of Isaac Dietrich
pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=3IcK-ALa

When you’re 20 years old and smoking pot in an apartment with college friends, good ideas sometimes just hit you like a sudden craving for curly fries. Such was the case for 23-year-old Isaac Dietrich, founder and CEO of MassRoots, a social-networking app for marijuana users that doesn’t punish them for posting comments and photographs centered on their cannabis habits.

Dietrich, who hatched the concept for MassRoots with a friend during a night of toking up in April 2013, says he borrowed $17,000 on his credit card to get the ball rolling. “At the same time, a bunch of Silicon Valley [venture-capital] firms were slamming the door in my face because they didn’t want to invest in anything cannabis-related, so that’s why I was maxing out credit cards,” he says. “It was an incredible risk.”

Later that year, the app hit the App Store. By March of the following year, MassRoots had amassed 100,000 users.

But he’s no Mark Zuckerberg, Dietrich says. “We’re radically different. My goal is to grow MassRoots to one-one-thousandth of the size of Facebook, and I would consider that an overwhelming success,” he says.

Dietrich explains the point of MassRoots is to allow pot businesses a place to post deals and specials for their customers when Facebook and Instagram won’t allow them to do so. “Over the upcoming months, we’re going to be introducing sponsored posts. If dispensaries want to expand their number of followers, they can pay to sponsor a post in users’ newsfeeds within a 20-mile radius of their dispensaries,” he says. “This year is going to be the year of marijuana technology in which we really get the digital platforms and services down.”

The most common type of selfie posted to the social-media platform? “Smoke tricks. Smoke rings, tornadoes, halos -- smokers are incredibly creative people,” Dietrich says. “Also scenic tokers -- people posting pictures of themselves smoking in beautiful environments.”

Follow them on twitter: @Isaac_Dietrich

RESEARCH
Orrin Devinsky
The Guardian Of Powerful New Medicines


Courtesy of NYU Langone Medical Center
pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=ARc2hQig

Dr. Orrin Devinsky is a prominent neurologist currently leading a clinical trial centered on Epidiolex, one of the nation’s first marijuana-based medicines. A widely respected scholar, he has published more than 250 pieces on behavioral neurology and epilepsy. Devinsky studied at Yale University and earned his medical degree from the Harvard Medical School before training as a neurologist at the New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Although Devinsky is intrigued by the potential of marijuana as a medicine, he worries about the patchwork of policies across the U.S. He says physicians and policymakers lack the data to determine whether marijuana should be used as any form of medicine. Last year, Devinsky penned an op-ed in the New York Times warning Americans to not jump to conclusions about marijuana’s medical use until the plant’s compounds are more fully understood.

Devinsky’s own early results indicate Epidiolex may lower the number of seizures that epilepsy patients endure. But even as more researchers are studying marijuana, he wonders whether the public’s high hopes for new treatments could cloud results. For example, he says parents of epileptic children who have failed to respond to all other treatments may be so eager to fix their child’s condition that they start to believe they see improvements that don’t actually exist.

“I think it's a paradoxical time,” Devinsky says. “I do think there’s a lot more opportunity and interest. By the same token, the intensity of that interest may in some ways work against the sciences. Beyond anything else I've seen in my 25 years of epilepsy care, there's an intense passion about this.”

Follow them on twitter: @NYULMC , @nyuFACES

RESEARCH
Tista Ghosh
Public Health Crusader


Courtesy of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
pic: http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibti...?itok=T06E_MwO

When Dr. Tista Ghosh first entered the field of public health with a master’s degree from Yale, she never suspected that she would be spending so much time thinking about marijuana. As the chief medical officer in Colorado, Ghosh has steered the state’s efforts to ensure the safety of marijuana users after the drug became legal in 2014 for recreational purposes. (It had been approved for medical use since 2000.)

As a rule, public health officials and physicians prefer to rely on proven methods to improve health. But with no federal regulations or state precedent to follow, the responsibility for developing Colorado’s strategy was left largely to Ghosh.

“We had to pretty much come up with our own model for how public health would respond to the legalization of marijuana,” she says.

She has some advice for officials in other states thinking about legalizing marijuana for any purpose: collect data right from the start, so you know how it impacts residents’ health. Ghosh recently published a summary of effects she has seen in Colorado to the New England Journal of Medicine. She says her own department was too focused on smoking and thereby surprised by the popularity of edibles, and that poison control center staff has reported an uptick in the number of children who have accidentally ingested marijuana in some form.

Right now, Ghosh is tackling a few important public health questions related to marijuana by investigating whether it’s safe for pregnant women to smoke weed, whether elderly patients are more likely to fall when they’re high and whether skiers who smoke marijuana on Colorado's famous slopes tend to suffer more injuries. Her state has also set aside $10 million for researchers to examine marijuana’s potential health benefits.

“We've put the mechanisms into place to collect the data and so hopefully, we'll have that data come back to us and be able to say, X is a problem, Y is not a problem,” she says. “I think that will help not just us but the whole country.”

Follow them on twitter: @CDPHE

ADVOCACY
Rand Paul
America's First Green President?


Getty/Alex Wong
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Following in the footsteps of his outspoken father, Rand Paul was in favor of decriminalizing marijuana before it was popular – or at least before it was as popular as it is today. Now a United States senator and having announced his intention to become the 45th president of the United States, Paul could provide marijuana activists a friend in a place they’ve never had one: the White House.

While he’s said that he personally opposes using it, Paul has backed relaxation of marijuana laws throughout his time in politics, arguing that loosening the Republican party's official stance on marijuana enforcement, primarily by endorsing the states' right to determine the legality of the substance, could help the GOP reach out to younger voters.

"Look, the last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use, and I really think, you know, look what would have happened, it would have ruined their lives," Paul said. "They got lucky, but a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don't get lucky. They don't have good attorneys, and they go to jail for these things and I think it's a big mistake."

Paul has been a consistent ally of the industry, most recently unveiling a bill, initially co-sponsored with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, to remove federal penalties for medical marijuana use and reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance, allowing significant research and easier access for physicians and patients. The bill currently has a bi-partisan coalition of 10 senate co-sponsors.

Follow them on twitter: @RandPaul

BUSINESS
Emily and Morgan Paxhia
Sibling Sativa Investors


Courtesy of Poseidon Asset Management, Emily Paxhia
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Sister-and-brother Emily and Morgan Paxhia of San Francisco head an investment fund for entrepreneurs interested in more than a get-rich-quick scheme. As the co-founding partners of Poseidon Asset Management, they have made it a point to work with people who are interested in the future of cannabis. One of the core elements of Poseidon is that “capital is a change agent,” says Morgan, the company’s chief investor.

“Many people believe that legalization is going to happen and fear that complacency could kill that momentum,” says Morgan, a former financial adviser at UBS Financial Services. “It’s important that companies we invest in are involved in things like advocacy and legislative movements. It’s important that investors [believe] that there’s still work to be done.”

In that regard, the two are also discerning about the kind of companies in which they invest in and toward which they guide their investors.

“We’re looking for companies that are representing a mature standpoint or point of view,” says Emily, Poseidon’s director of relations who has a background as a brand consultant and researcher for companies like Time Warner, Viacom and American Express. “They’re operating in the cannabis industry like a company in any other industry where they’re advancing and moving forward. … There are a lot of played-out stereotypes around cannabis and there are a lot of people that like it that don’t fit that stereotype.”

Follow them on twitter: @PoseidonAsset

BUSINESS
Brendan Kennedy
The Mainstreamer


Courtesy of Privateer Holdings.
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Brendan Kennedy didn’t plan to get into the marijuana business. But while performing company valuations at Silicon Valley Bank a few years ago, he saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“A company from the medical cannabis industry came across my desk, around the same time that I heard a story on public radio about legalizing cannabis in California,” he says. “That coincidence prompted me to dig into the industry to see what I could find out.”

Soon after looking at the numbers, which were relatively scarce back then, he called Michael Blue, a friend from business school. “I told him we needed to quit our jobs in private equity and venture capital to start a fund in the cannabis industry,” he says. “At first he thought I was crazy, but he quickly saw the opportunity as well.”

Today, he’s CEO of Privateer Holdings, the investment firm that made a name for itself through a partnership with Bob Marley’s family and recently closed a $75 million round of funding. It’s all part of a mission to help make marijuana mainstream through strategic investing. Their strategy has compelled some observers to call Privateer the “Procter & Gamble of the cannabis industry.”

“Our thesis in founding Privateer Holdings was that cannabis is a mainstream consumer product used by mainstream Americans, and they will be looking for mainstream professional brands that don’t insult or offend them,” he says. “That philosophy is not unlike a company like P&G.”

He credits a lot of the company’s success to patience and timing. “The industry has seen a lot of big announcements from companies who fade away six months later. In contrast, we stayed quiet for nearly two years, doing old-fashioned ‘boots on the ground’ research,” he says, adding that this meant everything from meeting activists and politicians, to touring dispensaries and meeting growers. “We took a methodical, professional approach to the industry and did our homework,” he says.

Over the next year, he expects steady progress in terms of marijuana legislation, with more states implementing medical and recreational cannabis laws. By 2017, he says, “we will see the end of cannabis prohibition in the United States.”

Follow them on twitter: @BrendanTKennedy

ADVOCACY
Dale Sky Jones
Prof. Cannabis


Courtesy of Twitter
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Dale Sky Jones has long been a force on the marijuana-legalization front, with a dizzying array of roles and titles surrounding her work on the issue. She first became known as a prominent voice for marijuana-policy reform in her home state as a representative of the campaign backing California Proposition 19, which sought to legalize marijuana, but failed with voters by a narrow margin in 2010. She has continued to call for legalization within the state ever since as chair of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform.

Jones argues that with smart policies on regulating and taxing the cannabis industry, legalization would boost the economies of the jurisdictions that permit it while creating jobs. She launched a safety council for medical marijuana in 2008, and she has worked alongside law-enforcement personnel, labor-union officials and health professionals to shape new cannabis policies that have broad buy-in by multiple parties. With this as her goal, she has served on the boards of the National Cannabis Industry Association and the Medical Cannabis Association.

Back in her current hometown of Oakland, Jones is the executive chancellor of Oaksterdam University, which was founded in 2007 by longtime marijuana-legalization advocate Robert Lee as the country’s first trade school for the cannabis industry. After federal agents conducted several raids on the school and Lee’s home, Jones took over control of the institution’s day-to-day operations. She teaches courses in business management and the politics of marijuana.
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Old 04-21-2015, 05:23 PM   #10
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Cannabis consumers show greater susceptibility to false memories






A new study published in the American journal with the highest impact factor in worldwide, Molecular Psychiatry, reveals that consumers of cannabis are more prone to experiencing false memories. The study was conducted by researchers from the Human Neuropsychopharmacology group at the Biomedical Research Institute of Hospital de Sant Pau and from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, in collaboration with the Brain Cognition and Plasticity group of the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research (IDIBELL - University of Barcelona). One of the known consequences of consuming this drug is the memory problems it can cause. Chronic consumers show more difficulties than the general population in retaining new information and recovering memories. The new study also reveals that the chronic use of cannabis causes distortions in memory, making it easier for imaginary or false memories to appear.

On occasions, the brain can remember things that never happened. Our memory consists of a malleable process which is created progressively and therefore is subject to distortions or even false memories. These memory "mistakes" are seen more frequently in several neurological and psychiatric disorders, but can also be observed in the healthy population, and become more common as we age. One of the most common false memories we have are of situations from our childhood which we believe to remember because the people around us have explained them to us over and over again.

Maintaining an adequate control over the "veracity" of our memories is a complex cognitive task which allows us to have our own sense of reality and also shapes our behaviour, based on past experiences.

In the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers from Sant Pau and Bellvitge compared a group of chronic consumers of cannabis to a healthy control group while they worked on learning a series of words. After a few minutes they were once again shown the original words, together with new words which were either semantically related or unrelated. All participants were asked to identify the words belonging to the original list. Cannabis consumers believed to have already seen the semantically related new words to a higher degree than participants in the control group. By using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers discovered that cannabis consumers showed a lower activation in areas of the brain related to memory procedures and to the general control of cognitive resources.

The study found memory deficiencies despite the fact that participants had stopped consuming cannabis one month before participating in the study. Although they had not consumed the drug in a month, the more the patient had used cannabis throughout their life, the lower the level of activity in the hippocampus, key to storing memories.

The results show that cannabis consumers are more vulnerable to suffering memory distortions, even weeks after not consuming the drug. This suggests that cannabis has a prolonged effect on the brain mechanisms which allow us to differentiate between real and imaginary events. These memory mistakes can cause problems in legal cases, for example, due to the effects the testimonies of witnesses and their victims can have. Nevertheless, from a clinical viewpoint, the results point to the fact that a chronic use of cannabis could worsen problems with age-related memory loss.
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Old 04-21-2015, 06:32 PM   #11
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BULLSHET. NOTHING wrong with my memory 7blueEyes or was that 8greeneyes. Lol
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Old 04-21-2015, 09:06 PM   #12
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WAIT!


What were we just talking about ???


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