Product Review: The Nuggy Multi-Tool

Welcome to Leafly’s Product Reviews, where we take a closer look at a cannabis gadget, accessory, or consumable, and give it a test spin. Today we’re trying out the Nuggy multi-tool


The Nuggy at a Glance

The Nuggy multi-tool by NugTools
Manufacturer:
NugTools

Price: $33.00

Features: Multi-tool device that features a knife, LED light, bottle opener, flathead screwdriver, pick, scraper, clip, scissors, tamper, and mini spoon

Includes: Nuggy Tool, decorative box

Pros:

  • Each tool is high quality and incredibly useful, whether you’re rolling, dabbing, vaping, or packing a bowl
  • Perfect for taking on trips so you’re always equipped
  • Helpful online user guide

Cons:

  • A little chunky despite the small size
  • Can’t carry in pockets (bags are fine)
  • Initial difficulty in opening up the tools with their respective metal levers

Perfect for: smokers, dabbers, vapers, on-the-go consumers, camping trips and other travels, people who like convenience, anybody looking to bring out their inner stoner MacGuyver

Cut to the chase:

The Nuggy is a small and incredibly convenient set of tools that’s well worth picking up.

What Is The Nuggy?

The Nuggy in its box
The Nuggy by NugTools is an incredibly handy multi-tool that features 10 items that any level of toker would find useful. The tools packed comfortably into the 0.5-lb, 1” thick Nuggy are:

  • A sharp scraper
  • Flat-ended tamper
  • Roach clip
  • Metal pick
  • Mini-spoon
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Bottle opener
  • LED light
  • Scissors
  • Knife

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All of those tools are something that I have found myself needing to use for various cannabis situations, whether I was inside my apartment or out and about in the city or outdoors, so having all of them wrapped into one small item was extremely useful. I also noticed that all of tools except for the LED light are made from a sturdy and high-quality stainless steel, so I never felt any potential danger of damaging the Nuggy or my glass and vapes while using it.

While the Nuggy comes in weighing at only half a pound and measuring 2” long, it’s still about 1” thick, making it feel like a bit of a lump in your pocket. If you’re carrying around a bag or purse it’s an absolute breeze to chuck the Nuggy in there and be on your way, but don’t expect a comfortable fit directly in your pockets.

The Nuggy in Action

The Nuggy in Action
While the tools of the Nuggy are sturdy, strong, and easy to use, pulling out the tools can pose a bit of a challenge. In order to release and use a particular tool in the Nuggy, you have to grip the small metal levers attached to each tool (except for the LED light) with either your finger, fingernail, or any other item you want and pull back with a bit more force and effort than you may expect. While this can be a little annoying at times, I understand it’s designed this way for safety purposes, which is fair given the Nuggy’s small size and friendly green color potentially looking attractive to curious children or pets.

Thankfully, despite this minor grievance, the Nuggy does a great job of being a toker’s handy device for any situation. When I wanted to roll a blunt, the knife tool was right there to easily slice my wrap. When I needed to clean out the ashes and Scooby snacks in my bowl before packing a fresh one, out came the pick tool. When I needed to roll a joint, I already had the tamper tool nearby to poke my material down into the paper. I even used the scissors to quickly cut up some herb when my grinder wasn’t around!

I could keep going, but it’s already obvious that the Nuggy comes equipped with a tool for any situation you may find yourself in. This even goes for non-cannabis situations since there’s a freakin’ bottle opener and flathead screwdriver at the ready as well!

Our Verdict

nuggy-verdict
Whether I was assembling my Ikea nightstand, opening a beer, or rolling a joint, the Nuggy had something for me to use. While it can be a bit chunky in your pocket, its overall small size and shape make it very easy to carry in a bag or container. I don’t usually carry around pocket knives or other general multi-tool devices, but I was very surprised at how often I found myself reaching for this helpful little guy, so I would definitely recommend the Nuggy for any level of consumer to always be equipped with essential toker tools, no matter the consumption method.

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Dustup Over NIDA-Grown Ditch Weed Leads Johns Hopkins to Ditch PTSD Study

Controversy over the poor quality and low potency of US government-grown cannabis has apparently caused one of the nation’s leading research universities to pull out of a federally approved study into cannabis and post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.

Johns Hopkins University was slated to help conduct the multiyear clinical trial, sponsored by the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, (MAPS). But last week Sean Keirnan, president of the advocacy group Weed for Warriors,called the university and was surprised to hear, in a recorded message, that Johns Hopkins was no longer involved in the study.

‘Our goals for this study weren’t in alignment.’

Johns Hopkins U. spokesperson

In an open letter sent Monday to university President Ronald Daniels, Keirnan questioned the lack of a formal announcement regarding the school’s withdrawal from the MAPS trials, and asked for an explanation into how and why the decision was made.

When pressed by Leafly for a response, a spokesperson for Johns Hopkins University released this statement earlier this morning:

“It is Johns Hopkins’ mission to conduct high quality scientific research and save lives. Johns Hopkins elected to withdraw from the MAPS study of cannabis in veterans with PTSD prior to any participant enrollment because our goals for this study weren’t in alignment. Johns Hopkins remains dedicated to helping military veterans, finding improved treatments for PTSD, and conducting innovative research to enhance our understanding of both the risks and benefits of cannabis/cannabinoids.”

“Alignment of goals” aside, a MAPS spokesman told Leafly that the school quietly withdrew from the study several weeks ago. The primary reason, said Brad Burge, the group’s director of communications and marketing, was the quality of the marijuana being used in the PTSD trials.

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“NIDA wasn’t able to provide the relatively high THC level that we wanted to look at,” Burge said. “We asked for a 12 percent THC strain, and they were only able to get us a 10 percent.”

The doctor overseeing the study was less charitable in her description.

“It didn’t resemble cannabis. It didn’t smell like cannabis,” Dr. Sue Sisley told PBS NewsHour earlier this month. There were also some questions about the government-grown cannabis being contaminated with mold.

governement-cannabisStems and all: This is the “research grade” cannabis the National Institute on Drug Abuse sent to scientists conducting a federally-approved study on PTSD.

One More Challenge to Overcome

The move by Johns Hopkins isn’t likely to derail the study, which was given formal approval by both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The research also received a grant of more than $2.1 million from Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

76 military veterans are scheduled to take part in the study. Half the participants are to be tested at an outpatient MAPS facility in Arizona, while the other half were originally set to be monitored by Johns Hopkins researchers in Maryland.

Without the university’s participation, Burge said, all veterans in the study will now have to be enrolled in Arizona’s medical cannabis program.

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MAPS: Let Scientists Study Clean, Real Cannabis

MAPS doesn’t just support scientific research; the association also advocates for policy issues around cannabis. The controversy surrounding poor-quality cannabis provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) apparently put the Johns Hopkins researchers in a difficult position.

“Johns Hopkins didn’t want to focus on the policy issues,” MAPS spokesman Burge told Leafly, “specifically the issues related to the NIDA monopoly on marijuana for research. Johns Hopkins of course gets funding from NIDA and may have not wanted to be criticizing NIDA’s supply of marijuana and the monopoly on the marijuana research.”

For decades—and until only recently—a DEA-licensed cannabis farm at the University of Mississippi was the only place where scientists in the U.S. could obtain government-approved cannabis for their clinical research. But the farm, contracted by NIDA since the 1960s, has faced criticism for the questionable quality of the cannabis grown there. Not only are THC levels significantly less than what’s commonly found on state-legal medical marijuana markets, but levels of yeast and mold found on some samples of NIDA-produced cannabis exceed guidelines for cannabis in legal states.

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NIDA: Looking Into This Higher THC Thing

A statement on the NIDA website, revised earlier this month, says the agency has supplied cannabis to researchers for more than 40 years “without any known health consequences from contaminants.”

“There is currently no universally accepted standard for levels of mold and yeast on marijuana and different health organizations set cutoffs for acceptable levels spanning an enormous range,” the statement says, adding that NIDA is conferring with the FDA to determine “what analyses and specifications are appropriate for NIDA-supplied marijuana.”

The agency has also said it’s exploring the possibility of growing cannabis with higher THC levels, closer to what’s currently being used by patients in legal states.

This latest challenge to the PTSD study underscores the obstacles to federally approved research into the effects of cannabis—research that often proceeds at a snail’s pace. Efforts to get the MAPS study off the ground were stalled for nearly five years before the DEA granted its approval last year.

“Now it’s in one place,” Burge said, “but that should have no statistical or enrollment impact.”

Chatting with Chef Dave Hadley: Chopped Winner and Cannabis Connoisseur

Originally from New Jersey, 24-year-old Dave Hadley moved to Colorado to pursue his culinary dreams and experience life in both the cannabis and restaurant worlds. He’s an advocate for cannabis legalization, as well as a talented chef constantly creating delicious dishes. In addition to serving as sous chef at Denver restaurant The Preservery, Hadley helped found a side business called Craft Concentrates through which he created cannabis-infused edibles lines before turning his attention back to The Preservery. He continues to create bespoke cannabis-infused meals for friends and events in his spare time. His recent victory on the popular Food Network show Chopped marked the first time a cannabis chef was featured on the show.

We had the opportunity to talk with Hadley about his recent experience on Chopped, where he sees cannabis’s place in the culinary arts, and the inspiration that goes into his flavorful food. Here’s what he had to say.

Leafly: How or where do you pull inspiration for the dishes you create?

David Hadley: The inspiration I pull for my dishes is from my mother’s Indian background. No one in my area has experience in Southern Indian flavor — most people associate with Northern Indian food when they think of the usual Indian plates — and that’s not popular here in Denver. My dad is from St. Vincent [in the Caribbean] and my mom is from Kerala [in Southern India] so I have two ethnic parts where I get my food inspiration from, and I try to produce that for people out here. I make it pretty home-style but fancy looking at the same time.

What’s nice about Denver is that it gives young people the opportunity to really do something they feel they could pursue. I moved to Denver four years ago — almost five years — and it’s been nothing but what I thought it would be. It’s gotten me to a point where now I’m able to produce something I’m proud of — like homey food that my mom would make for me, that I can now make for the public.

(Image courtesy of Dave Hadley)(Courtesy of Dave Hadley)

Since you became a chef, what have been your most memorable moments when cooking?

Actually, my most memorable moment in cooking is from when I was a kid. My grandma used to live with me and she came straight from India. She had this thing where she would fry a whole fish in the house and my mom and dad would get so upset at her because it would just smell up the whole house.

I just remember having her ideas and learning how to cook with her — that has to be my most memorable moment cooking before becoming a chef.

But as a chef now, doing the whole Chopped experience and having that as a fun thing to look back on is particularly memorable. Especially right now, because I’m looking forward to doing a lot of other things and that was just a fun start to my career. I think the experience really helps in building something else, and also shows young people — like people my age — that we can do something about what we believe in. I think that’s where my mind’s at, whether its teaching kids how to cook or doing what I do with marijuana.

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience in the edibles world and the edibles company you used to work for?

I was working for a company called Craft Concentrates out here in Colorado. Me and a bunch of my friends started this company. We went through everything legally, even pulling in certain equipment or standards that I had never even heard of in order to get the company running.

When I broke from the restaurant industry for about a year I kind of helped out my friends in building this company from the bottom. There were about thirteen of us that started and now there are over 90 employees that work two different grows. One is located down in Pueblo, CO and the other is in Denver. We also have a facility that does our own hash extraction.

While I was helping develop this company, I also helped create some edible lines that are no longer on the market. I eventually left the company to open up my own actual restaurant and had to let go of the edibles lines. I still have connections with cannabis infusion — I still do fine dining [events] where people pay for medicated meals, but I no longer work within Craft Concentrates.

However, I am looking forward to talking to a couple of people looking to have cannabis chefs participate in cannabis tours, classes, or catering companies. But for right now, I’m just doing what I do best and that’s cook real food that’s not medicated while also educating people on how that could be a possible culinary path.

(Image courtesy of Dave Hadley)(Courtesy of Dave Hadley)

Are there certain strains you prefer to cook with when creating your edibles or infused meals?

There’s definitely certain terpene profiles I’m associating myself with, like linalool and all those peppery, woodsy terpenes. We use those in Colorado or extract them separately. Also, I have a Lifesaver strain here that I use a lot of, as well as LA Confidential (my absolute favorite strain to cook with and smoke with) and Super Lemon Haze which are two strains that have great terpene profiles. The other one I use is HP-13 [a mix of Hash Plant and G-13] just because it produces the ugliest nugs ever, but it has some of the most pungent, hard-hitting flavor.

Any changes you’re looking forward to seeing for cannabis in 2017? Or cannabis in the culinary world?

In Colorado, cannabis is fun, easy, and accessible. There’s certain companies out here doing it real for edible game. Shum-Met Bars are now legal out here and they do some pretty good edibles, also Incredibles does some nice edibles that are in stores, but I’ve always been a fan of just doing it myself.

I also have a close friend who helped me do the edibles in the beginning at Craft Concentrates, and now he’s on his own doing a catering company. He makes rice crispy treats and simple things people like — you can find him on Instagram @thedankchef, but what I do is totally different and I think it’s taking it to the next level. There’s a chef named Hosea Rosenberg that has done this before and he’s been on Top Chef. He does a lot of weed dinners out in Denver and now he’s associated with it since he has that background.

I was able to be a part of [cannabis] and learn some things and use it in everyday food or parties. I’m able to do infused dishes ranging from my own Indian-inspired cuisine [to] ice creams and salsas. There’s also a company called Simply Pure, and they’ve been out in Denver for the longest time. The owner’s name is Scott Durrah … He does restaurant work and also owns the dispensary — he’s a first name lookout for weed chefs. He’s someone I always looked up to as a personality kind of guy, one of those people I had looked up to when I was younger. Being involved in the restaurant scene where you’re getting judged by big foodie publications and being involved in the whole weed thing on a different platform has been awesome. It’s cool being a part of both scenes.

(Image courtesy of Dave Hadley)(Courtesy of Dave Hadley)

Was there any controversy over your appearing as a professional cannabis chef on Chopped?

I honestly wouldn’t consider myself a professional cannabis chef; but, I would say I am a professional chef that uses cannabis to teach people, and I use it in an educational way. Like, what the benefits are and how they can be infused in not only a straight “infusion” way, but also looking at terpenes to help enhance the food and [provide] different smells.

Food is all about your senses, and I think what weed does is either play with them or [enhance them]. So food is what makes [cannabis] fun recreationally or even medically. Food is so important and goes hand-in-hand when it comes to the marijuana scene in general.

What did your family think about your appearance on Chopped and you representing the cannabis world?

My mom and dad are real cool with it — they still have their days, but it is what it is. It’s not for everybody, and people just need to be educated. I think that is what I got out of it. My little cousin saw some nugs on TV and my aunt probably had to say something to him; but, at the end of the day it happened and it was a positive experience.

I’m sure there was some negativity online and people commenting on how I’m just a stoner or smoke weed all day or even that I only won because I’m the first person on the Food Network to get on Chopped as an infused chef. But I’m still working hard to advocate for it and have a positive influence on both sides of the restaurant and weed industries.

(Image courtesy of Dave Hadley)(Courtesy of Dave Hadley)

What is your favorite edible on the market right now?

Can I say two? The edible I have with me right now, in my house, is Shum-Met Bars. I have two banana pudding Shum-Met bars. Incredibles is really good too! I’ve always respected their ideas because they do it right. No matter what, this weed industry is so topsy-turvy and doing it the right way is the best way. Incredibles has always done it the right way. Those are the people I support who have great products.

Do you think your experience with edibles and learning about terpene profiles helped you win your episode of Chopped?

Chopped was more of an instinct game. I think working with marijuana helps just because I know the use of it, but working with weed in particular didn’t really help me win. I think being part of an ethnic family and having ethnic ingredients that people haven’t really seen before is what got me to win. Honestly, I don’t think it had much to do with me and the weed – they tried to play that up as me being lazy or just a stoner. I believe that my food was bomb without the dishes having that ingredient.

I want to tell people that you can use marijuana while also being somebody at the end of the day … [somebody] like myself can talk to younger people that are looking into the industry to develop their ideas or be a point of reference.

At the end of the day I’m not here to say, “Hey fuck you, I did it, I made something.” Instead, I’m trying to show people that they don’t know how much money Denver makes off weed and how much it helps education in schools because of the taxes pulled from recreational marijuana … that’s what I went on Chopped for. Not to show people, “Hey I can cook and do it with weed,” but to have the conversation and make it come to the forefront.

Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

Best Jazz Music Albums to Listen to While High

The 60s was, among many things, an era of musical exploration and discovery. Rock, pop, soul, and even jazz all went through a period of transformation as the age of electronic instruments began to take hold and new sounds, unlike anything that had come before, began to surge into pop culture.

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The latter, jazz, slowly evolved into the genre known as jazz fusion. Classic improvisational style was combined with other genres such as rock, latin, funk, and the blues, among others. The result is music that is truly unique in its complexity and sound. In appreciation of this genre, which developed out of the late 60s and the same era that saw a huge boom in the popularity of cannabis, enjoy this suggested collection of wonderful jazz fusion albums to listen to while stoned.

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Strain Pairing Recommendation: Acapulco Gold

There are only four songs on the album Head Hunters, but don’t be fooled–there’s over 40 mins of gloriously funky rhythms to get lost in. Released in 1973, the first song, “Chameleon,” is perhaps one of Hancock’s most famous. This comes as no surprise as the 15 minute track features a powerful, enthralling bass line which sets the stage for a whirlwind of funk and intricacy. What follows is an album which compels the listener to dive ever deeper into a wild cacophony of madness and brilliance. The album ends with the aptly named “Vein Melter,” which slows things back down with a sound that is at once both melodious lullaby and intricate wordless tale.

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Strain Pairing Recommendation: Maui Wowie

Released in 1976, this seven track album is a collaboration of eight musicians, including pianist Joe Zawinul; sax player, Wayne Shorter; and bassist Jaco Pastorius, who is featured on two tracks. A fundamental jazz fusion album, Black Market features a range of musical influences and draws heavily from African sounds. The album is often described as “world fusion.” From the title track, “Black Market,” to the final “Herandu,” the album takes the listener through a range of emotions, sensations, and intricate melodies that leave one feeling as though they’ve visited a world’s worth of spaces.

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Strain Pairing Recommendation: Blue Dream

Stepping away from the instrumental albums brings us to Innervisions and Wonder’s effortlessly smooth voice paired with personal, politically impactful lyrics. One of the most remarkable aspects of the album is that Wonder recorded it nearly single-handedly, playing all the instruments on the majority of the nine tracks. Lyric themes include classics such as love and hard-hitting topics such as systematic racism, drug abuse, and even US politics. The tracks fluctuate in sound from funk, ballads, soul, and rock, while weaving classic jazz sounds throughout. The album is at once both engaging, entertaining, and stimulating, granting a look into the mind of one of the greats.

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Strain Pairing Recommendation: Northern Lights

Released exactly 10 years after his acclaimed jazz album, Kinda Blue, Davis’ introduced the world to In a Silent Way, a brilliant blend of spacey, ambient, and rich jazz fusion. The album marks the beginning of Davis’ venture into the “electric” and “fusion” worlds, stepping away from the more classic jazz records he had previously produced. Recorded in a single session, the album gently lures the listener into imaginative and compelling landscapes of sound. Best paired with a creative mind and mellow strain, In a Silent Way will happily paint pictures in the mind of those willing to see.

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5. Thrust by Herbie Hancock

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Strain Pairing Recommendation: Durban Poison

Coming full circle, we revisit Hancock to explore his album Thrust, released in 1974. The album followed Head Hunters and received similar acclaim. Once again, Hancock proves he needs no more than four tracks to present nearly 40 minutes of immersive jazz-funk. Addictive bass lines and a superior blend of electric instruments cook up a recipe for four tracks of tantalizing, funky, spacey sound and a truly immersive musical experience. This album can be heard, felt, and nearly tasted as it winds together in perfect harmony. The strong funk influences will make it hard not to groove and move as you listen along.

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The world of jazz fusion offers a plethora of sounds and experiences as it explores the many ways in which jazz can complement and invigorate other genres such as rock, funk, soul, and more. I can think of no more immersive genre to explore hand-in-hand with the music-amplifying power of cannabis. Turn on the tunes and enter a world, a story, and an experience.

How No Till Cannabis Farming Methods Can Improve Your Crop

There are two major problems casting a shadow over cannabis cultivation as a whole: chemical safety and sustainability. Although these problems are not exclusive to the cannabis industry, their unique impact on both the industrial and cottage markets as well as with home growers alike is noticeable.

A potential solution to both of these problems lies in a farming practice known as “no till gardening.” This technique incorporates organic practices and natural systems to create a thriving environment conducive to growing healthy plants with less input. No till  gardening is both organic and sustainable, offering a safe and efficient way of cultivating cannabis without the need for chemicals and wasted energy.

What Is “No Till” Farming?

What Is “No Till” Farming?

Contrary to conventional agricultural practices which involve mechanically disturbing the soil, no till farming incorporates natural mechanisms that leave soils undisturbed. This principle is based on the foundation building a thriving biology within the soil, a process which is severely compromised when a soil is tilled.

No till farming and organics go hand in hand, building upon the philosophy that natural systems within the soil will provide the plants with fully bioavailable nutrients with very little need for external input. These natural systems work together in symbiosis to support a flourishing biological community ripe with fungi, bacteria, and more.

What Are the Benefits of No Till Methods for Growing Cannabis?

What Are the Benefits of No Till Methods for Growing Cannabis?
With traditional cannabis farming techniques, soils are either tilled and amended with nutrients between plant cycles or tossed out altogether. While these practices can be highly effective for growing cannabis, they aren’t very efficient as the never-ending need for chemical inputs and the consistent tilling or tossing of soils is anything but promotional to building a soil biology.

No till cannabis farming, on the other hand, eliminates the need for input altogether by letting nature do all of the work. This saves not only time and money, but the hassle of having to worry about using potentially harmful chemical inputs such as pesticides or plant growth regulators. Furthermore, untilled soils can be reused for years on end with almost zero input whatsoever, making this the most sustainable way to cultivate cannabis.

Common Misconceptions About No Till Farming

Common Misconceptions About No Till Farming

One misconception about no till cannabis farming is that this practice is difficult to scale in either direction. This couldn’t be further from the truth. No till farming is just as accessible to the home grower using 3-gallon pots as it is to the top tier farmer cultivating on a massive scale. The power of no till lies within building a thriving soil food web. This concept can be successfully achieved in any spacial capacity, offering the same security and sustainability.

Another common misconception with no till farming is that it promotes pest populations. This is only partially true. A thriving soil microbiology is teeming with all sorts of life. Fungi, bacteria, nematodes, mites, worms, protozoa, and even larger insects and animals all encompass the web of life that can exist in a fully charged, untilled organic soil medium. These lifeforms are not only beneficial to the plants themselves by making nutrients in the soil more bioavailable, they actively control harmful pest populations such as spider mites and fungus gnats through naturally occurring systems.

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One of the worst misconceptions about no till cannabis farming is that the practice is incapable of producing the same quality and quantity that traditional agricultural methods can. Nature itself is a perfect example of why this isn’t the case. The richest ecological environments in the world are those least disturbed.

Take the old growth Redwood forests in the Pacific Northwest for example. The microbiological climate in this part of the country is staggering as a result of the undisturbed natural mechanisms that have been in place for thousands of years. In these same regions, cannabis farmers are utilizing similar techniques to produce some of the industry’s leading products in terms of flavor, yield, and safety standards.

Creating a No Till Cannabis Garden at Home

Creating a No Till Cananbis Garden at Home
If you want to incorporate no till farming practices into your home cannabis garden, getting started is both simple and surprisingly inexpensive. Start by building yourself a super soil using a mix of organic ingredients such as composts, amendments, and a bit of aeration through the form of perlite or lava rock. Mix these ingredients together and use them as your grow medium.

Because your cannabis will need certain macronutrients at certain times, layering the topsoil with various cover crops will eliminate the need for consistent amendments to the soil. Nitrogen-fixing cover crops are a great way to get macronutrients back into your soil.

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Amending your super soil with worms is a great way to promote the production of fresh compost, otherwise known as “vermiculture.” In this system, worms digest decomposing organic material and create castings that replenish the soil with valuable nutrients, eliminating the need for the external input of fertilizers. With worms, growers are encouraged to add organic matter to their topsoil, a healthy worm snack that promotes healthy decomposition while constantly adding life back into the soil.

Whether it be to eliminate the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and other costly and potentially unsafe inputs, or to save money and time by reusing soils, no till farming is continuing to rise as a viable alternative to traditional cannabis agricultural practices. Both top-tier cannabis farms and home growers alike can harness the powers of no till farming for a safer and more sustainable crop that saves time and money. With little to no input overt time, no till farming could very well be the safe, sustainable answer that the cannabis industry has been looking for.

When ICE Wants to Deport, a Cannabis Misdemeanor Becomes a Felony

Joel and Jessica Guerrero: Caught in the Trap

Joel-Guerrero-webJoel and Jessica Guerrero: Everything was fine until the new immigration rules came down. Then Joel’s decade-old cannabis misdemeanor led to his arrest. (Photo from GoFundMe)

A legal resident living in upstate New York was arrested late last month, and is now awaiting deportation—all for a decade-old misdemeanor cannabis conviction. President Trump recently lauded his stepped-up immigration enforcement policy for weeding out “drug lords” and “really bad dudes.” But the arrest and potential deportation of Joel Guerrero, a Dominican immigrant living in New Paltz, New York, raises questions about whether the nationwide Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) crackdown is extending to law-abiding residents with minor cannabis convictions.

Under the Trump administration, experts are advising immigrants to:
– Refrain from all cannabis use, including for state-legal medical purposes
– Not seek employment in the cannabis industry
– Remain silent when asked about past cannabis use
– Scrub mobile phones and social media accounts of any mention of cannabis

Guerrero, a 37 year-old newlywed and expectant father, immigrated legally to the United States 20 years ago when he was 17. He was arrested at a routine ICE check-in at the New York City Immigration Court in downtown Manhattan on February 28. Guerrero is currently being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility, according to ICE inmate records, where he’s slated for deportation.

Joel Guerrero has a minor cannabis charge dating to 2004. It was never a problem until last month.

The reason? Guerrero has a minor cannabis charge dating from 2004. Since January 2017 almost 40,000 immigrants  have been deported, many of them for minor infractions. Trump removed an Obama-era rule forcing ICE to focus on serious criminals, giving border patrol agents more power to make arrests and deportations based on minor infractions.

The details of Guerrero’s case are disputed. In a statement to Gothamist, Rachael Yong Low, a spokesperson for ICE, said that Guerrero has a “felony conviction with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver…marijuana or a synthetic equivalent.”

But Joel Guerrero’s wife, Jessica, challenged this account in a phone interview with Leafly. “Either they’re lying or they’re misinformed,” she said, her voice rising. “And either way, that’s really scary for our country.”

In this March 3, 2015 photo, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers escort an arrestee in an apartment building, in the Bronx borough of New York, during a series of early-morning raids. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement say an increasing number of cities and counties across the United States are limiting cooperation with the agency and putting its officers in dangerous situations as they track down foreign-born criminals. Instead, more of its force is out on the streets, eating up resources and conducting investigations because cities like New York and states like California have passed legislation that limits many of the detention requests issued by immigration authorities. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)In this March 3, 2015 photo, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers escort an arrestee (not Joel Guerrero) in an apartment building, in the Bronx borough of New York, during a series of early-morning raids. (Richard Drew/AP)

Jessica Guerrero, who was with her husband when he was arrested, said an ICE officer even told her specifically that Joel Guerrero was being deported for a misdemeanor marijuana charge.

She’s ordered a copy of the judgement from Onslow County, North Carolina, where Guerrero was originally charged, she said.

A court clerk confirmed that Guerrero was charged with a misdemeanor—not a felony.

A clerk at the Onslow County Superior Court confirmed to Leafly that Guerrero was indeed charged with a misdemeanor—not a felony.

When reached for comment via email, an ICE spokesperson told Leafly that the initial ICE statement on Guerrero was incorrect, and that Guerrero had pleaded to a misdemeanor. However, the spokesperson maintained that Guerrero was charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell or distribute.

If the ICE spokesperson is right about that, then the fact that Guerrero was convicted of a misdemeanor, not a felony, would not matter in his deportation case. Immigration law treats anything beyond simple possession as a drug felony, regardless of the original charge. That gives ICE officials broad authority to deport all but the most minor cannabis offenders.

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Cannabis As a Deportable Offense

President Trump may be taking a harsh public stance on immigration, but the strictures allowing deportations for minor drug offenses have been around since the mid-90s, when Bill Clinton and Congress enacted them as part of the 1996 omnibus crime bill. They’ve stuck around ever since. And the Trump White House isn’t the only administration that’s used them. Data provided by Syracuse University shows that deportations for drug offenses increased by 15% from 2008 to 2013, while Barack Obama was in office. In 2013 alone, over 40,000 people were deported for drug offenses.

Those rules have been known to most non-citizen residents. Yascha Mounk, a Slate columnist and Harvard lecturer, wrote recently in the New York Times about his own “overly cautious” approach to protecting his US residency. “When applying for a work visa, or for a green card, or for naturalization,” he wrote, “I would have to document every citation and arrest. And since the law explicitly instructs the officer who would decide my fate to ascertain whether I am of ‘good moral character,’ I preferred to avoid the slightest risk of legal trouble.”

The Obama administration focused on what it called “smart enforcement,” a policy under which immigration authorities aggressively deported immigrants identified as criminals or terrorists. Because of that policy, the percentage of people deported as a result of criminal convictions rose steadily from 2011 through 2016, from 67% to 92%. And those removals weren’t all for violent crimes. Sejal Zota, a lawyer at the National Immigration Project, estimates that in 2013 alone, roughly 6,000 people were deported for personal possession of marijuana.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 10.21.36 AMICE deportations, 2011 through 2016. Source: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, FY 2016 ICE Immigration Removals report.

What has changed under President Trump? It’s difficult to say with any certainty so far. We have mostly anecdotal reports, and it’s hard to know whether those are increasing because enforcement is ramping up or because Trump has thrown such a bright spotlight on the subject. We do have two months of data–January and February 2017–but those figures are muddled because ICE operated for three of the four January weeks under existing Obama-era policies. According to the latest numbers supplied by ICE, 35,604 people were deported in January and February combined. If 2016 figures were evenly spread over 12 months, they would average out to 20,021 deportations per month, which is a higher rate, so far, than ICE has recorded in 2017. 

It’s a far lower rate, in fact, than ICE recorded under the Obama administration in 2012, when an average of 34,154 people were deported per month.

Here are the deportation figures from 2008-2016:

Annual deportations from the United States per year. Source: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Annual deportations from the United States. Source: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Anything Beyond Simple Possession

By law, any drug offense beyond simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana is enough to deport someone. Even other minor cannabis crimes, like a second possession charge or smoking in a school zone, are enough to trigger a deportation, according to lawyers who specialize in criminal immigration law.

For people applying for green cards, or for legal residents returning to the country, the rules are even stricter. Admitting to ever smoking pot — even in a legal state like Colorado — is enough to have someone ruled “inadmissible” to enter the United States.

Last year, the Denver-based alt-weekly Westword reported the story of a young Chilean woman who was barred from entering the United States after she admitted to trying state-legal cannabis in Colorado on a previous visit.

What’s changed: a new everything-goes and everyone’s-a-target attitude among ICE agents.

A couple of things seem to have changed under Trump. Various reports indicate that many Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents feel like the restraints holding them back have been released. Agents “feel emboldened and they feel that now they have a president that’s basically is going to give them carte blanche,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a frequent critic of ICE tactics, said in a recent interview with HuffingtonPost’s Elise Foley. During Trump’s first week in office, he signed an executive order that called on border officers to “detain individuals apprehended on suspicion of violating Federal or State law, including Federal immigration law.” That’s always been the law, of course, but Trump’s order and his public proclamations made clear that he expected ICE agents to stop prioritizing violent criminals and go after every and any non-citizen suspected of violating federal or state law, no matter how minor the offense.

Today, “there is a clear ‘everything goes and everyone is a target’ culture in ICE,” Greisa Martinez, advocacy director at the undocumented activist group United We Dream, told Elise Foley. “It’s the realization of the dreams of a lot of ICE agents that endorsed Trump.”

A big part of the new, bolder tactics on the border is the stepped-up investigation of an immigrant or traveler’s mobile phone, email, and social networking data. Six years ago, Customs and Border Agents rarely asked to search a traveler’s cell phone. As Leafly’s Chris Roberts documented yesterday, in 2010 border agents nationwide searched fewer than 400 phones per month. In February 2017, they searched about 5,000 devices, often looking for evidence of lawbreaking–including the purchase or consumption of state-legal cannabis.

Jacob Sapochnick, a immigration lawyer based in San Diego, said he had a German client who was detained for seven hours in August after Border Patrol agents found images from Burning Man on his phone. Another client, Sapochnick said, was asked if he’d tried marijuana while on vacation in Maui.

“Those are the kinds of things where you have to be careful how you answer,” Sapochnick said. “That’s why they’re searching your social media and phone–to elicit cues for whatever they’re looking for, to be able to deny you entry.”

Since Trump took office, Sapochnick said, he knows of at least three people who have had their student visas revoked for marijuana offenses — all of them from Muslim countries.

“I think it’s going to get worse and worse, honestly,” Sapochnick said. “People are going to have to be very, very careful.”

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Bad Under Obama, Worse Under Trump

After Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use, in 2013, Eric Holder, then attorney general, made a historic announcement: The Obama administration would not go after marijuana users or businessmen who were following state law.

At the same time, the Obama Administration took the opposite stance on immigrants with marijuana offenses, argues Matt Adams, a lawyer at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

“That was under Obama,” he added. “Of course, the outlook is even more grim when you look at Sessions coming in as attorney general.”

Things are certainly grim for Joel Guerrero. He’s been checking in with ICE every six months since 2011. His green card was revoked that year when he returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic and then missed an immigration court date.

In 2014, an immigration judge gave Guerrero an Order of Removal, according to his wife, Jessica. But she said ICE agents told him, “If you keep reporting to us, you don’t have to worry about it.”

“He shouldn’t have taken them at their word,” she said. If her husband gets deported, Jessica Guerrero, who’s from New York, plans to leave the country with him.

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Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill to Block Local Decriminalization

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Legislature has passed a bill that would bar cities in Tennessee from decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

If the governor signs the bill, it will strike down laws in Memphis and Nashville that give police the discretion to write civil citations for people who have small amounts of cannabis.

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The bill passed in the Senate Monday evening after impassioned debate on both sides of the issue.

Sen. Lee Harris, a Democrat from Memphis, pleaded with fellow lawmakers to vote against the bill, saying that more people will likely wind up behind bars if it becomes law.

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Sen. Jack Johnson, a Republican from Franklin who sponsored the measure, said cities couldn’t simply decide which state laws they will enforce and which ones they won’t.

What Is a Medical Marijuana Card?

What Is a Medical Marijuana Card and How Do You Obtain One?

A medical marijuana card (also known as “MMID” or “cannabis card”) is an identification card used by patients to enter medical dispensaries (or “cannabis clubs”) and purchase the plant to treat their corresponding health ailment or symptoms. It also allows for the patient to grow at home and use medical cannabis delivery services.

The cards are issued by the state, but the patient must first get a signed recommendation from a licensed physician to qualify. The patient and doctor need to agree that cannabis would be an effective treatment option, and the patient’s condition must be an approved condition by the state. With the doctor’s recommendation, the patient then needs to apply through the state and pay a fee, which will also vary depending on the state. Doctors can’t simply prescribe cannabis to patients due to the plant’s federally illegal status.

The technicalities of how to get an MMID and what it provides you will vary depending on the specific state’s laws and policies. As cannabis legalization expands, the process for patients continues to evolve, especially with more states legalizing recreational (adult-use) cannabis.

Meet 10 Students Changing Global Drug Policy Right Now

The founding of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), one of the nation’s most influential drug policy reform groups, reads like a movie script. In 1997, Shea Gunther, a student at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), attempted to form the first official student organization dedicated to fighting the war on drugs. RIT not only denied the request; the school ultimately expelled Gunther. The following year Gunther and other activists met at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and formed what would become SSDP.

Over the past 19 years, the group has been a driving force behind policy changes both on campus and in state legislatures. It’s also raised a generation of policy reformers and political leaders. Alums include Shaleen Title, co-founder of THC Staffing Group and co-author of the Massachusetts cannabis legalization measure that passed last November; Kat Murti, digital outreach manager at the Cato Institute; Amanda Reiman, California policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance; Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell; and Jared Moffat, director of Regulate Rhode Island, among many others.

Currently the group is active on 320 campuses in 14 countries, with more than 4,300 student activists. Many of those SSDP members came together last weekend for the group’s annual conference, which took place in Portland, Oregon. Leafly asked a number of them to tell us how they got started as policy activists. Here’s what they told us.

Akemi Almeida, DePaul University

Akemi Almeida DePaul Chicago, Ill. When I came to DePaul, I was wanting to get involved and one of my friends was like, ‘Did you see that table with the cocaine flyers?’, so I went a meeting and boom. The rest is history, and its been awesome. I’m from the midwest, and over there it’s gonna be a few years. Michigan will probably be there in two or three years, but Illinois, where I’m from, we’re just following everyone so we need to find a way to lead somewhere. A lot of people take it is a joke but I see with a really serious side to it. Those videos with guys with Parkinson’s who rub CBD oil on their lip and they finally feel normal and can function, that’s what I feel really changes people’s opinion so we need to get more of those stories out there.(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

Chicago, Illinois: “When I came to DePaul, I was wanting to get involved and one of my friends was like, ‘Did you see that table with the cocaine flyers?’, so I went to a meeting and boom. The rest is history, and its been awesome. I’m from the Midwest, and over there it’s gonna be a few years. Michigan will probably be there in two or three years, but Illinois, where I’m from, we’re just following everyone so we need to find a way to lead somewhere. A lot of people take it as a joke but I the really serious side to it. Those videos with guys with Parkinson’s who rub CBD oil on their lip and they finally feel normal and can function–that’s what I feel really changes people’s opinion, so we need to get more of those stories out there.”

Jeremy Sharp, University of North Georgia

Jeremy Sharp University of North Georgia Dahlonega, Ga. I got into SSDP in 2013 to combat the draconian drug policies that were affecting my peers. I saw a lot of friends that I’d grown up with who had succumbed to overdose, they were in prison, they were being negatively affected by our drug policies, so when I came across SSDP’s website, it stuck out to me. I emailed the outreach director and within a week we had a chapter started. Within about six months we worked on a statewide <strong>medical</strong> amnesty policy and passed the most comprehensive <strong>law</strong> in the entire country. It is Georgia and there is a need for it. It’s a tough fight theres a lot of uphill battles and its the capital of those draconian policies. They lost in Colorado and California and now they've diverted their resources to Atlanta.(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

Dahlonega, Georgia: “I got into SSDP in 2013 to combat the draconian drug policies that were affecting my peers. I saw a lot of friends that I’d grown up with who had succumbed to overdose, they were in prison, they were being negatively affected by our drug policies. So when I came across SSDP’s website, it stuck out to me. I emailed the outreach director and within a week we had a chapter started. Within about six months we worked on a statewide medical amnesty policy and passed the most comprehensive law in the entire country. It’s Georgia. We have a tough fight. This is the capital of those draconian policies, so there are a lot of uphill battles ahead of us. They lost in Colorado and California, and now they’ve diverted their resources to Atlanta.”

Taiwo Anthony Atlogwehme, University of Ibadan

Taiwo Anthony Atlogwehme University of Ibadan Ibadan, Nigeria SSDP has a chapter in Nigeria, which I’m working with. I joined to make sure that we end stigmatization and discrimination of people taking drugs and to end the drug war and reform the government policy. We are trying to reshuffle and make sure our voices are being heard and the voices of people that take drugs, they are being jailed and sometimes killed. I want make sure it is legalized and its accepted by the government.(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

Ibadan, Nigeria: “SSDP has a chapter in Nigeria, which I’m working with. I joined to make sure that we end stigmatization and discrimination of people taking drugs and to end the drug war and reform the government policy. We are trying to reshuffle and make sure our voices are being heard–and also the voices of people that take drugs, and are being jailed and sometimes killed. I want make sure it is legalized and its accepted by the government.”

Abbie Schryber, Virginia Tech

Abbie Schryber Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Va. Originally I was looking for something to get involved with on campus like a club, some sort of extracurricular. I tried rec sports and it wasn’t working out. One of my friends was involved in SSDP, he was always stoked about it. He would come back from conferences and just rave and be like, ‘We need to end the drug war!’ and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know what that means, but you seem excited about it.’ After he talked about a lot of the work SSDP was doing with legalization, but also <strong>medical</strong> amnesty, I was really interested in that. With the current political climate, we really want to focus on things that are going to be feasible in this administration.(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

Blacksburg, Virginia: “Originally I was looking for something to get involved with on campus like a club, some sort of extracurricular. I tried rec sports and it wasn’t working out. One of my friends was involved in SSDP, he was always stoked about it. He would come back from conferences and just rave and be like, ‘We need to end the drug war!’ and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know what that means, but you seem excited about it.’ After he talked about a lot of the work SSDP was doing with legalization, and also medical amnesty, I was really interested in that. With the current political climate, we really want to focus on things that are going to be feasible in this administration.”

Eleanor Martha Hulm, Dublin City University

Eleanor Martha Hulm Dublin City University Dublin, Ireland I’d been involved in the party scene in Dublin, which is pretty rampant and I was in my first year of college and I see this dude and he’s got a big afro and he’s got this sign that says ‘SSDP’ and he starts talking to me and he just starts saying a whole bunch of stuff that makes a whole lot of sense. I’d experience drugs, I had a lot of friends of who had experienced drugs but I never thought it had anything to do with policy or harm reduction and how we were just lucky that some stuff had not happened to us. I began to see in Ireland, the party scene is pretty crazy and harm reduction is virtually non existent so I could see the harms of the drug war first hand. With SSDP, I mostly got involved out of curiosity and from that stemmed a huge passion. It transforms a group of kids in the corner of a classroom who are trying to collect signatures to legalize <strong>weed</strong> to a full on reputable global movement. SSDP makes it so easy for activism. It’s like this vehicle that you can drive towards change. I run a chapter now, and I run SSDP Ireland and its completely transformed my life. It was my entry into the world of activism and changing shit.(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

Dublin, Ireland: “I’d been involved in the party scene in Dublin, which is pretty rampant, and I was in my first year of college and I see this dude and he’s got a big afro and he’s got this sign that says ‘SSDP’ and he starts talking to me. He just starts saying a whole bunch of stuff that makes a whole lot of sense. I’d experienced drugs, I had a lot of friends of who had experienced drugs but I never thought it had anything to do with policy or harm reduction and how we were just lucky that some stuff had not happened to us. In Ireland, the party scene is pretty crazy and harm reduction is virtually non existent. I could see the harms of the drug war firsthand. With SSDP, I mostly got involved out of curiosity; from that stemmed a huge passion. It transforms a group of kids in the corner of a classroom who are trying to collect signatures to legalize weed to a full-on reputable global movement. SSDP makes it so easy for activism. It’s like this vehicle that you can drive towards change. I run a chapter now, and I run SSDP Ireland and it’s completely transformed my life. It was my entry into the world of activism and changing shit.”

Jacob Plowden, CUNY Baruch

Jacob Plowden CUNY Baruch New York, N.Y. I was always interested the history of drugs and the history of drug addiction. Being African American in America, I definitely felt like it was my job seeing drug policy augmented in other things I wanted to talk about, race relations in the drug war and things of that nature, so I felt like I was propelled and given this option because I’m a young black male in America, not a statistic. I feel like in terms of a lot of the work that we’ve done, kinda seeing it reversed while also have a lot of the research we’ve done being harangued or being misinterpreted in a way that we’ve brought the facts to the surface, but are people going to deny these facts or try to twist them in their favor? So I definitely feel like we’re going to have to worry about the work that we’ve done being erased but also the amount of misinformation thats going to come with this administration.(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

New York, New York: “I was always interested the history of drugs and the history of drug addiction. Being African-American in America, I definitely felt like it was my job–I see drug policy augmented in other things I want to talk about, race relations and its role in the drug war, things of that nature. I felt like I was propelled and given this option because I’m a young black male in America. A lot of the research we’ve done is being harangued or misinterpreted, so we work to bring the facts to the surface. People are going to deny those facts or try to twist them in their favor, so we work to make sure the gains we’ve made aren’t erased.”

Tiffany Le, UC Davis

Tiffany Le UC Davis Davis, California I’ve always been interested in harm reduction and when I transferred to to Davis, the SSDP chapter there was holding a music event and I just walked up to them and asked ‘what do you do?’ and I really liked their stance on educating people so then I joined!(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

Davis, California: “I’ve always been interested in harm reduction. When I transferred to to Davis, the SSDP chapter there was holding a music event and I just walked up to them and asked ‘What do you do?’ and I really liked their stance on educating people so then I joined!”

Clayton Iccus, University of Colorado

Clayton Iccus University of Colorado Boulder, Colo. I was living in Nacogdoches, Texas going to a university called Stephen F. Austin, and it was a very suppressive place. Smoking <strong>weed</strong> and being around people who smoke down there is sort of just a strange and different experience. I moved to Boulder and heard about a lot of interesting things going on in Colorado, like MDMA research. The fact that weed was <strong>legal</strong>, it influenced my decision to move, and I joined SSDP because I knew about it before I came here. I really liked what they were doing, I cared a lot about it, I thought it was an important issue, I thought it was something that could actually make a difference.(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

Boulder, Colorado: “I was living in Nacogdoches, Texas, going to a university called Stephen F. Austin, and it was a very suppressive place. Smoking weed and being around people who smoke down there is sort of a strange and different experience. I moved to Boulder and heard about a lot of interesting things going on in Colorado, like MDMA research. The fact that weed was legal, it influenced my decision to move, and I joined SSDP because I knew about it before I came here. I really liked what they were doing, I cared a lot about it, I thought it was an important issue. I thought it was something that could actually make a difference.”

Richard Chernack, University of Connecticut

Richard Chernack University of Connecticut Storrs, Conn. I actually got involved through a friend that I met volunteering for another organization and she was like, ‘Hey, so I know you like weed and I know you like learning about new things so you should come to our meetings,’ and I started going. Within a year I was public relations for the chapter. The biggest thing we’re working on this year is there are five bills being put forward in state congress towards <strong>cannabis</strong> legalization and so we will be very vocal at every step of the way to make sure that the things we want to see in the bill end up in the bill. In five years, if things continue increasing at the rate they have been, I fully anticipate it being legally federally at that point.(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

Storrs, Connecticut: “I actually got involved through a friend that I met volunteering for another organization. She was like, ‘Hey, so I know you like weed and I know you like learning about new things so  you should come to our meetings,’ and I started going. Within a year I was in charge of public relations for the chapter. The biggest thing we’re working on this year is there are five bills being put forward in our state legislature that deal with cannabis legalization. We will be very vocal every step of the way to make sure that the things we want to see in the bill end up in the bill. In five years, if things continue increasing at the rate they have been, I fully anticipate it being legally federally at that point.”

Juana Beatang, Regent University

Juana Beatang Regent University Accra, Ghana First of all, I was part of a West African drug policy network and it felt like there was no youth voice in Ghana, no youth inclusion in whatever we did, so I was talking to a couple friends about how we could get youth inclusion on board and I happened to see SSDP online and I took interest in it. My favorite color is blue, by the way, so when I saw the blue I got attracted to it. I saw all the amazing things young people were doing and I was like, ‘Ok how about we have a chapter of SSDP in Ghana, so we can have a youth voice in Ghana?’ So I sent mail to them, and I was impressed to receive feedback from them as soon as possible, and we discussed how we could form a chapter in Ghana. It’s been pretty amazing. I never thought it was going to come out great, but I’m so happy that SSDP Ghana has become something great that I never dreamed of. I’m looking to take SSDP not only in Ghana but outside Ghana, not only West African presence, but African presence.(Samuel Wilson for Leafly)

Accra, Ghana: “I was part of a West African drug policy network and it felt like there was no youth voice in Ghana, no youth inclusion in whatever we did. I was talking to a couple friends about how we could get youth inclusion on board, and I happened to see SSDP online and I took interest in it. My favorite color is blue, by the way, so when I saw the blue I got attracted to it. I saw all the amazing things young people were doing and I was like, ‘Okay, how about we have a chapter of SSDP in Ghana, so we can have a youth voice in Ghana?’ So I sent mail to them, and I was impressed to receive feedback from them as soon as possible, and we discussed how we could form a chapter in Ghana. It’s been pretty amazing. I never thought it was going to come out great, but I’m so happy that SSDP Ghana has become something great–more than I ever dreamed of. I’m looking to grow SSDP not only in Ghana but outside Ghana, into not only a West African presence, but an African presence.”

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Colorado Weighs Strategy to Guard Against Federal Cannabis Crackdown

DENVER (AP) — Colorado is considering an unusual strategy to protect its nascent cannabis industry from a potential federal crackdown, even at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax collections.

A bill pending in the Legislature would allow cannabis growers and retailers to reclassify their recreational pot as medical pot if a change in federal law or enforcement occurs.

The bill would allow Colorado’s 500 or so licensed recreational growers to instantly reclassify their cannabis.

It’s the boldest attempt yet by a U.S. marijuana state to avoid federal intervention in its cannabis market.

The bill would allow Colorado’s 500 or so licensed recreational growers to instantly reclassify their cannabis. A switch would cost the state more than $100 million a year because Colorado taxes medical marijuana much more lightly than recreational marijuana — 2.9 percent versus 17.9 percent.

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The measure says licensed growers could immediately become medical licensees “based on a business need due to a change in local, state or federal law or enforcement policy.” The change wouldn’t take recreational marijuana off the books, but it wouldn’t entirely safeguard it either. What it could do is help growers protect their inventory in case federal authorities start seizing recreational marijuana.

The provision is getting a lot of attention in the marijuana industry following recent comments from members of President Donald Trump’s administration. White House spokesman Sean Spicer has said there’s a “big difference” between medical and recreational cannabis.

Sponsors of the bill call it a possible exit strategy for the new industry. It’s hard to say how many businesses would be affected, or if medical cannabis would flood the market, because some businesses hold licenses to both grow and sell marijuana in Colorado.

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The state had about 827,000 marijuana plants growing in the retail system in June, the latest available data. More than half were for the recreational market.

“If there is a change in federal law, then I think all of our businesses want to stay in business somehow. They’ve made major investments,” said Sen. Tim Neville, a suburban Denver Republican who sponsored the bill.

If federal authorities start seizing recreational cannabis, Colorado’s recreational marijuana entrepreneurs “need to be able to convert that product into the medical side so they can sell it,” Neville said.

Medical and recreational cannabis are the same product. The only difference between them is how they are used.

His bill passed a committee in the Republican Senate 4-1 last week.

But it’s unclear whether the measure could pass the full Colorado Senate or the Democratic House. Skeptics of the proposal doubt the classification change would do much more than cost Colorado tax money.

“It’s a big deal for our taxation system because this money has been coming in and has been set aside for this, that and the other,” said Sen. Lois Court, a Denver Democrat who voted against the bill.

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Schools would be the first casualty of a tax change. Colorado sends $40 million a year to a school-construction fund from excise taxes on recreational cannabis. It’s a tax that doesn’t exist for medical marijuana.

Other items funded by recreational cannabis in Colorado include training for police in identifying stoned drivers, a public-education campaign aimed at reducing teen marijuana use, and an array of medical studies on marijuana’s effectiveness treating ailments such as seizures or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The proposal comes amid mixed signals from the federal government on how the Trump administration plans to treat states that aren’t enforcing federal drug law.

Spicer said the president understands the pain and suffering many people, especially those with terminal diseases, endure “and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.”

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But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has voiced doubts about marijuana’s medical value.

Medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much,” Sessions said in a speech to law enforcement agencies in Richmond, Virginia.

Marijuana activists say giving the industry an option to keep their inventory legal is a valuable idea for recreational cannabis states. They point out that a change in federal policy wouldn’t make the drug magically disappear from the eight states that allow recreational use, along with Washington, D.C.

“It would be very harmful to the state if it reverts back entirely to an underground market,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization activist group.

If the bill becomes law, Colorado would be the first legal state to take action to protect producers from a federal drug crackdown, marijuana analysts said.

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A bill pending in the Oregon Legislature aims to shield the names and other personal information of cannabis buyers by making it illegal for shops to keep an internal log of customers’ personal data, a practice that is already banned or discouraged in Colorado, Alaska and Washington state.

Other states such as California are considering proposals that would bar local and state law enforcement from cooperating with federal authorities on investigations into cannabis operations that are legal in their jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, members of Congress from some legal cannabis states have talked about trying to block federal intervention in marijuana states. Congress could reclassify marijuana so medical use is allowed, or it could try to block federal enforcement of marijuana prohibition through the federal budget.

But the proposed Colorado change may be a longshot effort.

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Medical and recreational cannabis are the same product. The only difference between them is how they are used, and the U.S. Controlled Substances Act says marijuana has no valid medical use. Federal health regulators have rejected repeated attempts to carve out a legal place for marijuana use by sick people.

Sponsors concede there are no promises that reclassifying all that cannabis as medicine would stop a federal crackdown.

But they say Colorado shouldn’t sit idly by and wait to see if the Trump administration starts enforcing federal drug law by attacking businesses that are legal under state law.

“This bill allows the industry to know there is something after tomorrow, whatever tomorrow may bring,” Neville said.