Tag: Cannabis 101

A Guide to Federal Drug Rescheduling (And What It Means for Cannabis)

Could the US ever legalize cannabis federally? The simple answer is yes, but the reality is far more complex. The reason laws and regulations around cannabis are so complicated leads back to the federal government – more specifically, the Controlled Substances Act, Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.

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A Little History About the Controlled Substances Act

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on October 27, 1970. The act divides all known medicines, substances, or drugs into various categories based on their potential for abuse, medical applications and known benefits, and safety considerations. The Drug Enforcement Agency is tasked with enforcing the inventory management, records, and security of controlled substances, and individuals who order, handle, store, and distribute must be registered with the DEA.

The CSA has been amended many times over the years. For example, it’s been changed to abide by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, to include anabolic steroids at Schedule III in 1990, and to help divert methamphetamine trafficking in 1993.

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Scheduling Controlled Substances

The tiers of drugs range from Schedule V – considered the least dangerous and therefore, requiring the least amount of regulations – all the way up to Schedule I, a tier that is considered the most dangerous, with the strictest regulations and “no medical benefit,” which includes LSD, heroin, and cannabis.

In order to be categorized as a Schedule I substance, the drug must meet three criteria:

  • The drug has a high potential for abuse
  • The drug has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision

Drugs may be rescheduled at a lower level or removed entirely from the list of Controlled Substances, but the process is rigorous and the criteria is incredibly restrictive.

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Petitions to Reschedule Cannabis

The first petition to reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II was filed in 1972 by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), but the petition was not given a hearing for fourteen years. In 1986, the petition was finally considered by the DEA, but the debate continued for years.

It was during this trial that DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young concluded that marijuana is “one of the safest therapeutically active substances. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care… The overwhelming preponderance of the evidence in this record establishes that marijuana has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States for nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy treatments in some cancer patients.  To conclude otherwise, on this record, would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.”

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Despite Young’s conclusion, the DEA Administrator at the time, John Lawn ultimately rejected the petition 22 years after it was first filed.

In 1995, High Times and former NORML Director Jon Gettman filed another rescheduling petition, using studies of the endocannabinoid system conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health between 1988 and 1994. The DEA officially denied the petition on April 18, 2001, a decision upheld by the US Court of Appeals in May of 2002.

Another petition was filed by Americans for Safe Access and the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis in 2002, but was ultimately denied in 2011. Americans for Safe Access filed an appeal in January 2012, which led to a hearing in October, before another rejection on January 22, 2013.

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Who Holds the Power?

There are only a few select entities with the power to make such a big change at a federal level. Cannabis may be rescheduled through Congressional legislation; an example of this is the CARERS Act, repeatedly proposed by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), to no avail.

  • Cannabis may also be rescheduled at the executive level by the President of the United States.
  • The Controlled Substances Act also provides a process for which the US Attorney General may reschedule cannabis legislatively.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration evaluates all petitions to reschedule cannabis.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services, however, also carry as great deal of power in the rescheduling decision process.

The DEA must first accept the petition, which is no small feat, as illustrated by past attempts to reschedule cannabis. The Health and Human Services Secretary must then submit a “scientific and medical evaluation, and his recommendations, as to whether such drug or other substance should be so controlled or removed as a controlled substance.” The HHS Secretary has the power to reschedule cannabis in their own right, if they so choose.

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In order to classify a drug or consider whether a substance should be rescheduled or decontrolled, the determining factors are as follows:

  • Its actual or relative potential for abuse.
  • Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known.
  • The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance.
  • Its history and current pattern of abuse.
  • The scope, duration, and significance of abuse.
  • What, if any, risk there is to the public health.
  • Its psychic or physiological dependence liability.
  • Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled.

The President, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Congress all have the power to reschedule cannabis.

With each new Congressional bill proposed, with each new politician that recognizes the therapeutic value of cannabis, with each new state that embraces medical cannabis, with each new voice speaking out in favor of cannabis, the US grows ever closer to legalization.

The Home Grower’s Guide to Simple Cannabis Breeding

This article is sponsored by General Hydroponics, the leading innovator in the field of hydroponics for more than 35 years.


Cannabis propagation is a lengthy and complicated process that can take years to understand and decades to master. However, it doesn’t have to be, at least not for the home grower looking to get into breeding on a small scale. For some, breeding can be as simple as fortifying a small seed stock for next year’s crop, or even taking your favorite strain and keeping its pollen to cross with other desirable female genotypes or phenotypes in the future.

In this guide, we’ll review the basics of small-scale cannabis breeding techniques and illustrate the benefits these techniques may provide to those who want to create their very own unique cannabis seeds and strains.

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Why Breed Cannabis at Home?

What’s the big deal about breeding cannabis at home, anyway? For starters, breeding cannabis affords a home grower access to new hybrid genetics while also acting as a conservation mechanism to preserve (and even strengthen) desired genetics for future use. If you have distinct strains and want to create hybrids, breeding on this scale is both easy and effective.

On the other hand, those who wish to carry seed stock through to the next season will find breeding to be a sustainable alternative to keep those genetics around. Not every grower can afford to go back to the nursery or seed company and purchase new genetics between every season. After all, in most states the cost of a single clone can exceed $20, while a dozen cannabis seeds could easily cost $100 or more. For many micro-budget home growers, breeding is the only way to keep genetics around.

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What Are the Limitations of Breeding for Home Growers?

Breeding cannabis at home does not come without its own setbacks and limitations. Medical and recreational growers in legal states must first comply with all their local ordinances pertaining to home cultivation. These include everything from plant counts to canopy limits and more. Breeding on this scale becomes a matter of adapting to these spatial and quantifiable limitations.

For instance, a popular breeding practice involves propagating genotypes in large batches (sometimes hundreds of plants in number) to see the widest margin of genetic variation possible. This allows growers to select only the most desirable phenotypes to cultivate further. However, when you have a maximum household plant count of 12, this isn’t possible. Home breeders must work around these issues if they wish to both breed and propagate sinsemilla cannabis (without seed) as well.

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A Simple Propagation Technique for Small-Batch Breeding

If, despite the potential roadblocks, you’re looking to tackle some small-batch breeding at home, here’s a simple propagation technique you can follow.

What You’ll Need:

  • One mature male cannabis plant, between 2-3 weeks into bloom phase (or collected male pollen)
  • One mature female cannabis plant, between 2-3 weeks into bloom phase
  • Isolated propagation chamber (e.g. a sealed grow tent or equivalent)
  • Gloves
  • Small paint brush
  • Plastic baggies and ties

Procedure:

1. Sanitize

First, you must work within a clean and sanitized environment. Begin by cleaning your isolation chamber in preparation of receiving the female plant. A clean space will both help to prevent cross-contamination and provide a safe and sanitary place for the plant to fully mature. Diluting a small concentration of bleach or isopropyl alcohol with water should do the trick. Don’t forget to sanitize any pollination tools, like your paint brush, as well.

Make sure that your isolation chamber does not contain any female plants that you do not wish to breed with. This will ensure the prevention of unwanted cross-pollination. However, if more than one female cannabis plant must mature within the same space, implementing the following selective pollination technique (which involves using plastic baggies and some ties to protect the pollinated colas) should still adequately protect your room.

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2. Collect Pollen

Male cannabis plants will begin to show their pollen sacs within the first week or two into their bloom phase. Shortly after, these sacs will open and pollen will become abundantly available. Once a desirable male plant has been identified, remove it from any female plants and isolate it immediately. The goal is to collect the staminate pollen without accidentally open-pollinating any other female plant.

Keep the desired male plant in isolation throughout the pollen collection process, then terminate the male to be safe. By using a small paintbrush, you can carefully collect pollen into a plastic bag or glass jar.

Keep in mind that pollen is “alive” and that humidity can dramatically affect the viability of the pollen. For storage, keep male pollen sealed in an airtight container and store in a cold, dark space such as a freezer for long-term holding. If you plan to access your pollen more than a few times per year, it’s generally better to keep it in a refrigerator because the temperature swing from storage to room temperature is much lower. Properly stored pollen may last for over a year under ideal conditions.

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3. Selectively Propagate

A female cannabis plant in bloom is mature enough to receive pollen once flowers begin to form hair-like stigma. Without complicating this process too much, the object of selective pollination is to place male pollen onto specific branches or colas from which the breeder wishes to produce seeds. Each cola can produce hundreds of seeds if pollinated properly.

Choosing which/how many branches to pollinate will come down to grower/breeder preference. A single cannabis bud that has been pollinated can easily yield 20-30 mature seeds.

To complete this process:

  1. Make sure there is negative pressure in the isolation chamber before continuing.
  2. Prepare by collecting the baggie containing your male pollen, a paintbrush, and gloves.
  3. Gently collect a small amount of pollen from the collection baggie with your brush (a little goes a very, very long way).
  4. Run the brush gently across desired female flowers, making sure to only run the bristles across the tops of each stigma.
  5. Once a cola has been pollinated, you may seal the cola by covering it with a clean plastic baggie and tying it off to form an airtight seal (this will prevent cross-contamination). Note: this step is not necessary if (a) you intend to pollinate the entire plant in isolation, or (b) you do not have any issues with potentially finding a few seeds throughout the rest of your pollinated plant. (Pollen spreads easily, making this is a possibility.)
  6. To prevent any further contamination, keep your isolation chamber sealed throughout the maturation process.

This application process should repeat 1-3 times over the course of a week or two. After the fourth week of bloom, you may suspend your process. Should you need to reintroduce your pollenated female back into a room with other maturing female plants, you can rinse the plant down with clean water immediately following pollination to remove any excess pollen. This isn’t one hundred percent fail-proof, but when done carefully and correctly it can encourage the plant to breathe a little better.

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4. Harvest and Collect Seeds

Your seeds should be fully mature once the plant has completed senescence. For ripe plants containing seed stock, it’s best to let the life cycle exacerbate fully before harvesting to give seeds their maximum time to mature.

After you harvest and dry your plants, it’s then time to collect seeds. Fully mature seeds are darker and often contain striped patterns covering their encasing. If executed correctly, you should yield a healthy quantity of seeds no matter how may colas you choose to pollinate. Congratulations, you’re now a certified home breeder!

How to Support Your Cannabis Garden with Trellising

Trellising your cannabis garden is a crucial step on the path to a successful harvest. This practice not only helps support your buds as they grow, but it also helps light penetrate the canopy and increase airflow to improve yield while also preventing bud rot and pest issues. Utilizing trellises can help organize your garden, making your plants easier to work with while improving their appearance and health.

Benefits of Trellising Cannabis

The natural growth pattern of cannabis can be quite chaotic. As a fast-growing plant that chases light, you may find yourself overwhelmed by branches that vary in height, density, and structure.

Trellising – alongside topping and pruning – helps to bring order to the chaos. Topping plants lets them branch out and develop a level canopy, and pruning thins out the foliage and removes unnecessary growth. Trellising helps direct the growth of the canopy, improves the spacing between buds, and keeps the plants supported as the buds start to develop.

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How to Trellis Outdoor Cannabis Plants

Outdoor cannabis plants can become massive. Raised in their natural habitat, they grow close together with one main stalk shooting straight up. The density and growth pattern keep the plants from bending over and snapping. When cannabis is grown with the intention of producing large yields, we manipulate the natural pattern of the plant by spacing and topping the plants to promote bushy growth. This, in combination with improved genetics, results in top-heavy plants that are unable to support themselves.

Trellising always works best if you are one step ahead of the plant so that the branches can grow through the trellis as needed, helping with spacing and organization.

Step 1: Use is a metal cage that will surround the plant once it’s transplanted into its final home for the season. The metal cage should be sturdy and secured into the soil with large bamboo stakes. This cage provides support for the large branches that grow off the main stalk after topping the plant.

Step 2: You can use bamboo stakes to further support the branches as they grow out of the cage. Use plant tie tape which stretches as the branches grow.

Step 3: Consider building a frame around the pot that will support the branches as they grow out past the pot’s diameter. Frames can be constructed into a square around the pot using lumber or T-posts. Once the frame is in place, you can then use trellising to surround the sides and top of the frame.

As branches grow through the trellising, use this opportunity to dictate where branches are headed to prevent crowding in your garden. Try to direct branches upwards at an angle to help the buds receive more sunlight and grow at an angle that is most supportive.

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How to Trellis Indoor Cannabis Plants

Indoors, the lights remain above the plants which results in underdeveloped sides, so when trellising your indoor garden, focus on the top canopy.

A common strategy for trellising indoors begins by organizing your garden space into rows. These rows allow the gardener to access every portion of a plant during the growing process with ease. Oftentimes rows are organized on grow tables that allow for excess water to be drained easily while also bringing the plants up to a more enjoyable working height.

As for trellising, these tables also provide the support needed to frame the rows. Once framed, trellising indoors is an easy task that simply requires you to roll, stretch, and attach the trellising onto the grow table. Then by using the grid pattern, growers can direct and support the buds as they develop through the trellis.

Everything You Need to Know About Pre-Filled Oil Vape Cartridges

When it comes to ease of use, portability, and functionality, one cannabis product stands tall above the rest. You may know them as pre-loaded cannabis oil vape cartridges, hash oil vape pens, or even disposable wax pens. These relatively new and exciting devices have permeated the cannabis concentrate market over the last several years, quickly becoming the go-to concentrate-based product for both the novice and accustomed cannabis fans.

Browse Cannabis Cartridges

However, when it comes to choosing the right pre-loaded disposable pen, various factors stand in the way of making a decision. Although many of these products seem aesthetically similar at first glance, there are a myriad of nuances that distinguish them from one another.

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Understanding the differences between these disposable pens can help you make an educated decision on which product is right for your consumption.

Why Choose a Pre-Filled Oil Vape Cartridge?

If you’re new to pre-filled oil vape cartridges, there are many benefits to using them that I’ve outlined below.

Ease of Use

Deciding to use a pre-filled cannabis oil vape cartridge takes the guesswork completely out of the equation. Contrary to other methods of using hash oil such as a dab rig and nail setup, or even manual portable vape pens which require self-loading, pre-filled “carts” require little to no effort whatsoever. At most, these products may require you to press a button to inhale. In fact, most of the time you don’t even have to worry about the battery life—many products are designed so that charging the battery isn’t even necessary.

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Portability

Pre-filled oil vape carts are the easiest method of enjoying hash oil while on the go. Their sleek and minimalist design allows for discreet vaping, free of the distracting qualities that larger setups or raw cannabis products may carry (such as noticeable smoke or odor).

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Dosing

For uninitiated cannabis concentrate users, dosing can be a major concern. Nobody wants an overwhelming experience when attempting to enjoy cannabis oil products responsibly. Unlike dabbing, using a pre-loaded vape pen allows for a highly controlled dose with each inhalation. This gives the user full autonomy of how much or little to consume.

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The Types of Pre-Filled Cartridges Available

Familiarize yourself with the many types of pre-filled oil vape cartridges on the market so you can purchase the one that best fits your needs or preferences.

Find a Portable Vaporizer

Cartridge/Battery Combos vs. Disposables

When choosing a pre-filled vape pen, there are several hardware options. Some products are offered in tanks that typically come formatted with a 510 threaded standard vaporizer battery insert. These tanks can fit on any battery that contains the 510 threading, and nowadays almost all battery tanks come in this format. The exception to this is when you purchase pre-loaded tanks designed by companies to fit their personalized batteries. An example would be the PAX Era Pods, which are designed to be used with their vaporizer/battery systems.

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Alternatively, many pre-loaded vape pens are available as “disposables,” containing a pre-charged battery designed to support the device until the tank empties. These pen varieties require no charging and are meant to be disposed after use. They contain no threading and are not meant to be separated from their battery.

Distillate Cartridges vs. CO2

Hash oil tends to be a highly viscous substance, making it substantially difficult to use with standard vaporizer hardware. This has led the pre-loaded vaporizer market in a series of directions to design a product that functions properly with standard atomizers.

Methods have been taken to “cut” or infuse standard hash oil with various substances such as polyethylene glycol (PEG), propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), or even medium chain triglycerides (MCT) such as coconut oil in order to maintain a less viscous and lasting consistency conducive to standard atomizer functionality.

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While the use of such agents has been subject to controversy, market innovators have found several ways to mitigate this concern by developing alternative extraction techniques. An example of this is the use of distillates in pre-loaded vape pens.

Distillation takes the standard CO2 extraction process used in most disposable pen varieties and refines the oil once more through a fractioning process to produce a substance with a much higher cannabinoid purity. Distillate, being less viscous, is much easier to use in pre-loaded vape pens and does not require cutting agents.

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Terpene Infusions and Strain-Specific Flavorings

Alternatively, the use of terpenes has been found to help cut the viscosity of hash oil as well, making this another, potentially safer, alternative to traditional cutting agents. Terpenes not only add flavor and aromatics to the experience, they can alter the effects due to their ability to influence how cannabinoids interact with our system.

Explore Terpene Concentrates

There are several ways to use terpenes with pre-filled vaporizer cartridges. Food-grade terpene flavorings, for example, are arguably the most prevalent as well as the lowest quality when it comes to flavor and experience. Terpenes are found all over nature, and can also be synthesized in a lab.

Take d-limonene for example, a popular terpene additive that is found in some cannabis varietals. Many manufacturers use food-grade d-limonene as the sole flavoring additive for their pre-loaded cartridges. Although this helps to cut the viscosity of the oil as well as offer a mild flavor enhancement, infusions such as this tend to be one-dimensional and offer little to nothing in enhancing experience to the user.

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When shopping for cartridges, oftentimes these types of pens will be labeled as “lemon/lime”-flavored to represent this additive being used. Many other food-grade terpenes are used in this respect, which is why it’s important to check with your budtender and read labels carefully when buying terpene-infused cartridges.

Products Labeled by Effect

Many times, pre-filled oil vape cartridges are labeled and marketed by their supposed effect on the user. Products of this variety tend to claim they provide “relaxing” or “energetic” effects, with some often being labeled as indica, sativa, or even hybrid. When infused into a product, these terpene combinations are designed to give effects similar to what you would find in particular cannabis strains.

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Whether they’re infused with food-grade terpenes or naturally-derived terpenes extracted from cannabis strains, many of these products incorporate carefully mixed combinations similar to what would be traced in a strain or strain type. How well these infusions imitate the strain varieties they mimic is debatable; however, products with terpene combinations tend to give a more enhanced experience than a similar product containing one or no terpenes.

Cannabinoid-Specific Cartridges

Although many hash oil pen varieties are labeled by flavor or effect, some focus on cannabinoid concentration. Aside from the typical high-THC product that most pens offer, there are some manufacturers that offer products containing elevated levels of cannabidiol (CBD).

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High-CBD pens may or may not contain added flavorings, but they do guarantee a ratio of THC to CBD that can range from 2:1 all the way to 20:1 and greater. These types of pens offer great medicinal value to those looking for CBD in an easy-to-consume product.

Full-Spectrum Cartridges

The pinnacle of pre-loaded oil cartridges in terms of overall quality rests with full-spectrum extracts. These products are created using the entire spectrum of bioavailable molecules found within a given cannabis strain. A full-spectrum oil does not add, reintroduce, or remove any active compound within a strain and offers a flavor and effect far superior and multidimensional to most competitors.

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Pre-filled full-spectrum cartridges are hard to come by and are only offered in certain markets; their price tends to reflect their rarity as well. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a market where these products are available, it’s highly recommended to fork up the extra cash to give one a shot. In terms of strain comparability, the flavor on a full-spectrum cart is incredibly similar to what you would experience in a strain.

Browse Cannabis Vape Pens

All in all, there are many types of pre-filled oil cartridge varieties to consider, each one with its pros and cons. If you’re interested in learning more about these types of products, alway ask your local budtender before committing to a purchase. Oftentimes labels only offer a fraction of the information compared to the knowledge and expertise of a cannabis professional such as a budtender. Regardless of your taste, there’s bound to be a hash oil cartridge option available to suit your individual needs.

In Photos: Take a Trip Inside a Modern Hydroponics Facility

Indoor cannabis cultivation has moved out of the dimly-lit basements and garages operated by renegade activists, patients, and green thumbs. Nowadays, massive legal grows occupy sprawling warehouses and multi-million dollar agricultural facilities. As budgets and plant counts scale up, so do the technology and sophistication of these gardens.

To share a view of what the modern hydroponics facility looks like, Leafly visited Caliva, a premier cannabis dispensary and cultivation center in San Jose, California.

Can You Get Evicted for Legally Using Cannabis?

Where can you legally smoke cannabis? Most often, the answer is within a private residence where you’re out of view of the general public. But what if you’re a renter of your “private residence?” This creates a confusing dilemma for those who are trying to abide by the regulations of the state but don’t want to risk eviction from their residence.

If you rent your home or apartment and are wondering if you can legally smoke in it, the answer isn’t simple or straightforward. When it comes down to landlord-tenant rights, obligations, and insurance policies, it’s less about your landlord’s feelings on the topic and a lot more about the legal contract you sign when you move into a new rental.

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Leafly reached out to Rabin Nabizadeh, a criminal defense attorney with Summit Defense based out of California, to get the full legal scoop on the particular ins, outs, and legal rights pertaining to the complex nature of consuming cannabis while renting or leasing a property.

Lease Agreements and Binding Legal Contracts

“To begin,” Nabizadeh explained, “there is a fundamental legal principle at play here that will shed some light on these issues: Contracts can and often do prohibit legal acts. A violation would not be criminal, but will be a breach of contract and will lead to remedies in civil court.”

There are certain circumstances under which courts may not enforce contractual terms:

  • If the terms are illegal (using racially biased terms, etc.)
  • If the terms are unintelligible or vague
  • If the terms are unconscionable

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“Many leases will prohibit smoking in general, and that will likely encompass marijuana smoke.”

Rabin Nabizadeh, criminal defense attorney in California

Whether or not cannabis is legal, decriminalized, or legalized for medical use in the state where the lease agreement is signed can make a difference, but it all comes down to that one, binding legal document. Nabizadeh likened the legal use of cannabis in contractual terms to the use of tobacco—also a legal substance, but prohibited in some leases.

“The focus isn’t criminal statutes, or even landlord-tenant law,” he said. “The lease is the controlling legal document. Many leases will prohibit smoking in general, and that will likely encompass marijuana smoke. It is unclear whether that would include other types of use such as vaping.”

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What About Medical Marijuana?

Nabizadeh clarified the legal perspective on medical marijuana. “Judges generally don’t view medical marijuana [recommendations] as valid, despite the clear legislative intent. Still, there is a question of whether contractual terms barring [the] use of marijuana despite medical need is considered unconscionable,” he pondered.

Therefore, a patient with a written recommendation based on state law and a legitimate medical need may be able to make a case in court that the risk posed by cannabis use is so minute that it would be unconscionable to deny use for medical treatment, especially for severe qualifying conditions.

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If a resident has a disability as defined by the Fair Housing Act, particularly one that is considered a qualifying condition in a medical marijuana state, they could try to make the claim that the use or cultivation of cannabis in their residence should  be considered a “reasonable accommodation.” However, since the Fair Housing Act is a federal law and cannabis is still illegal under the federal government, without an official prescription from a physician (which doctors are currently prohibited from doing; instead, they authorize “recommendations”), housing providers would be under no obligation to allow it.

“I would anticipate,” Nabizadeh told us, “that in states where marijuana is legal, commonly used leases will begin adding a specific clause for marijuana use.”

What Can Your Landlord Do?

Landlords are required to uphold the contractual obligations set forth in the lease both parties have signed. If you have violated the terms of your lease by smoking marijuana and it escalates to the point that your landlord has been notified, you will not immediately face eviction.

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According to Nabizadeh, “Like any unlawful detainer or eviction notice, the landlord will have to take certain very rigid steps after the initial eviction notice. Assuming the parties are unable to resolve the issue, the landlord would be forced to file action in court and prove the violation to a court.”

As a tenant, what can you do? “Of course, tenants have rights,” Nabizadeh said. “Upon a notice of eviction, [tenants] can argue their case in court. The landlord would be tasked with proving a breach of the lease terms, which may difficult in these cases compared to unauthorized tobacco use since there will likely be far less evidence of use, especially in the case of smokeless [cannabis] use.”

Worth noting as well: “The landlord can permit marijuana use, so long as it is legal in the state.”

Tips for Growing Industrial Hemp

Hemp is an industrial form of cannabis that produces seeds and stalks that can then be used to make a long list of products. But unlike consumable cannabis which is harvested for its resinous, cannabinoid-packed flowers, the target yield for industrial hemp is seeds and straw (plant stalks/leaves). As such, these two types of cannabis are grown using completely different methods.

The Benefits of Hemp as an Industrial Crop

Industrial hemp plants grow vigorously, with long, lanky stalks and deep tap roots. Different varieties of hemp may produce a varying quantity seeds or fiber, and they may also differ in oil composition. Hemp is typically ready to harvest in four months, and per acre it produces four times as much paper as trees, which take many years to reach maturity for harvest.

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The list of benefits associated with hemp production is extensive. Some examples include:

  • Dense growth leaves little room for competing weeds
  • Highly pest-resistant
  • Deep tap roots help to protect soil
  • Easier to farm organically than most other fibrous crops

How to Grow Industrial Hemp

Select the Proper Genetics

Industrial hemp is a valuable agricultural crop that can be harvested for both its seeds and its stalks. Depending on which of these parts you’re harvesting, you’ll want to take genetics into consideration. Are you hoping to use the oils, seeds, or the stalks? When buying hemp seeds, look for those that have been bred to maximize the plant part that interests you most.

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Grow in the Right Climate

Industrial hemp is an agricultural crop that can thrive in many environments. Its deep tap roots can find water sequestered in the ground, but for a healthy hemp crop, it will need additional water via rainfall or watering.

The soil quality should lean on the alkaline side. A pH level above 6 is necessary, but a reading between 7 to 7.5 is ideal. Even if healthy soil is impossible to provide, hemp plants often find a way to manage regardless. Season after season, hemp roots will aerate the soil to improve its quality.

Finally, industrial hemp should not be grown indoors. This plant is meant to be grown on a large scale for low costs, and by growing inside, your costs will far exceed the monetary value of your yield.

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Grow Dense

Because the end game is different from regular cannabis, prepare to change the way you go about growing the plant. Grow dense by planting seeds close to each other. A healthy hemp field should consist of hundreds to thousands of hemp plants that are each comprised of one single stalk. While a cannabis farm might look like an apple orchard, an industrial hemp field will look like a corn or wheat field.

Common Uses for Industrial Hemp

One of the most compelling arguments for industrial hemp is the laundry list of products it can provide. Between the stalks and the seeds, you will find there are dozens of directions you can take industrial hemp.

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Hemp Stalks

Hemp stalks are harvested for their fiber, which is used to produce a wide range of textile materials such as newspapers and packing materials. The woodier portions of hemp stalks can produce a building material known as hempcrete. Hempcrete is a carbon-negative product that can be used to replace insulation, drywall, and cement in building projects. It is a nontoxic, lightweight, durable, mold/fire-resistant, sustainable, high-quality insulator composed of hemp hurds (the center of the hemp stalk), ground limestone, and water.

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Seeds

The seeds are commonly used for nutrient-dense hemp nut and hemp oil. Foods like bread, granola, milk, ice cream, and protein powder can be produced for consumption using the hemp nut. Hemp oil can help produce cooking oils, salad dressings, essential fatty acid supplements, cosmetic products, and industrial oil-based products. It’s also been explored as a biofuel diesel alternative.

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For thousands of years, hemp was used around the world, and when cannabis became illegal, hemp suffered heavily as a result. We can only hope that as cannabis laws loosen, so will those around this sustainable crop.

What Is a Feed Chart and How Can It Improve Your Cannabis Garden?

A helpful tool used by diligent cannabis cultivators is a feed chart. Feed charts are specific recommendations and guidelines provided by nutrient companies to help farmers achieve the healthiest and best crop possible. How and when a nutrient is introduced will trigger responses from the plant, and feed charts can help you understand what products you need to use and when they should be applied. This knowledge is particularly important in hydroponic gardens where you have complete control over nutrients.

Cannabis can be fed varying amounts of nutrient concentrations depending on the strain, stage of growth, and environment; introducing too many or too few nutrients to a cannabis plant can cause great harm to your garden. This is where feed charts come in handy. They provide specific instructions indicating when and where nutrient products should be applied.

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It’s important to note that different plants have unique nutritional needs during each phase of the growing cycle. Feed charts can provide an excellent foundation for novice growers, but as your skills develop, you may find it necessary to adjust feed charts based on your plant’s specific needs. In time, you’ll be able to create customized charts that take into consideration strain attributes, climate, water quality, and other factors. Remember, horticulture is a form of art, and practice makes perfect.

Reading Feed Charts for Cannabis Gardens

Although the concept of a feed chart might sound simple, you’ll first need to learn how to read one. Generally speaking, a feed chart is broken down into a grid. One axis lists nutrients while the other axis provides timeline information. For example, a hydroponic feed chart may be broken down in a week-by-week format, with different nutrients assigned to different weeks.

Example feed chart from General HydroponicsClick to view a PDF version of this sample feed chart

Most feed charts provide a ratio of nutrients per gallon of solution. Let’s say week one calls for 2.5mL of a nutrient—you would simply add 2.5mL of that nutrient per gallon into your solution. If you’re making 50 gallons of solution, multiply 2.5 by 50 and you’ll find that you need 250mL total in your 50 gallon tank.

Once you have mixed the nutrients into your solution, use a PPM (parts per million) reader to ensure the nutrient solution isn’t stronger than the chart advises. Additionally, feed charts may instruct you to add specific nutrients prior to other nutrients.

How to Adjust a Feed Chart

Feed charts provide loose instructions on how to effectively feed your cannabis, but they can always be adjusted to better suit the specific needs of your garden. To adjust a feed chart, first familiarize yourself with the suggested chart and know how your plants respond after these recommended feedings. Understanding a plant’s response to any given nutrient will help you predict how it will be affected when you increase or decrease that nutrient.

The key to successfully adjusting a feed chart is to record everything using a daily journal. Write down what the plants are being fed and when, as well as how the plants responded to the nutrients. By doing this, you can start identifying trends. For example, you might notice that you aren’t increasing vegetative nutrients fast enough to keep up with the size of your plants, or that bud growth is lacking in specific weeks. Having observed this through your notes, you’ll know to increase your nutrient solution at a slow pace.

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When adjusting a feed chart, be aware of nutrient lockout and how it compares to nutrient deficiency. A lockout will occur when there is a buildup of nutrients in the grow medium, which then prohibits your plants from uptaking nutrients. This is the opposite of a nutrient deficiency, but they end up looking the same since, in both cases, the plant is not receiving its nutrients. However, by keeping track of your feedings, you should easily be able to tell if you have been underfeeding or overfeeding your plants.

Common Questions About Feed Charts

Below are some frequently asked questions about feed charts. Knowing the answers will help you successfully keep and maintain a feed chart of your own.

What’s the Difference Between Simple and Expert Charts?

The difference between simple and expert charts is based on the number of nutrients used. Simple charts will supply your garden with everything it needs to thrive, but expert charts will introduce a longer list of nutrients to improve your garden. The additional nutrients may increase the plant’s yield, enhance aroma, and flavor, and/or lend an extra boost to its growth and immune system.

Botanicare sample standard simple feed chartClick to view a PDF version of this sample standard/basic feed chart, as well as an example of an expert feed chart for comparison

What Are Drain-to-Waste and Recirculating Systems?

Drain-to-waste systems use nutrient solutions only once, whereas a recirculating system will recycle the runoff. Both of these systems have upsides and downsides.

The advantages of a drain-to-waste system include:

  • Nutrients are more fresh and consistent
  • The pH stays stable
  • Undesirable pathogens are less likely to spread between plants

On the other hand, a drain-to-waste system wastes nutrients that are left in the runoff.

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Recirculating systems are more economical as they maximize nutrients. However, there are some issues associated with recirculated nutrients:

  • The pH and nutrient levels of your solution can change as old nutrients are recirculated into your feeding tank
  • Recirculating your solution may allow unwanted pathogens to be spread between plants

Why Do Numbers on the Bottle Differ From the Chart?

Numbers differ between feed charts and bottles because a feed chart plans for the combination of multiple nutrients, while the bottle accounts only for the use of a single nutrient in isolation. Using only the recommendations on each nutrient bottle, you may find yourself with a solution that is too strong for your plants to handle.

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What Does PPM Mean?

PPM (parts per million) is a measurement that is used to identify the density of a nutrient solution. Using a PPM reader allows you to accurately measure the nutrients going into your garden, information that is vitally important when addressing nutrient lockout or deficiency.

Why Are pH Levels Important?

If the pH level is too high or too low, your plants cannot uptake the nutrients they need to thrive. Keeping a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 for hydroponic grows–or 6.0 and 6.8 for soil gardens–is absolutely necessary for your plants to reach their full potential.

Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes While Cooking Cannabis Edibles

For years, I prepared my homemade cannabis edibles with the same process, blind to the small mistakes I was making along the way. Yes, I achieved a product that would do the job (sometimes too well), but I had no idea that I could improve the flavor and consistency all while conserving time, money, and product by tweaking just a few steps along the way. All it took was putting the cooking utensils down for a few hours and listening to a pro.

A few months back, I attended the Puff, Pass & Bake class led by Chef Torrin Panico, who led us through the process of cooking cannabis oil properly while addressing some common missteps along the way. As soon as I understood the basic science of decarboxylation and infusion, I saw all of the flaws in my own process.

There isn’t one right way to make quality cannabis edibles; experimentation, trial, and error are all a part of the craft. But consider these cooking tips and see if it changes your batch for the better.

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Mistake #1: Spending too much money on flower for cannabis edibles

Solution: A little goes a long way

I hear plenty of tragic tales of people throwing a half ounce of cannabis into a slow cooker thinking that’s how much cannabis it takes to make a cup of infused butter. Remember this ratio instead:

  • 1:1 – 1 cup of oil to 1 cup of ground cannabis (about 7-10 grams)

Lipids in the oil can only bind with so many cannabinoids, so exceeding this ratio is, by some standards, wasteful.

Buying less cannabis is one way to save money, but if you’d like to save even more, consider infusing your oil with cannabis stems, trim, or with cannabis flower that’s been vaporized (called “ABV,” or “already been vaped” cannabis).

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Mistake #2: Throwing ground cannabis straight in the slow-cooker

Solution: Decarboxylate cannabis in the oven first

Before cooking with cannabis, you must decarboxylate it. First, let’s be clear: don’t just throw unactivated, raw flower into your batter or dish. Not only will it taste bad, it won’t allow the cannabinoids to fully activate and bind to lipids. That means you won’t feel much of anything and will have only succeeded in wasting precious cannabis.

Many people know to decarboxylate cannabis in the oven first, but it’s worth noting here for anyone who doesn’t know or doesn’t see the point in doing so. You can skip this step and add your raw cannabis to the slow cooker to decarb in the oil, but you might find that this longer oil soak simply worsens the taste of your cannabis oil. It’s also more difficult to control the temperature in a slow cooker and you risk burning off essential cannabinoids, but in an oven, you can set the temperature low and keep it steady.

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Mistake #3: Heating and decarbing at the wrong temperatures

Solution: Know how hot and how long to heat your cannabis and cannabutter

Not only is it crucial to decarboxylate your cannabis before cooking with it, you have to decarboxylate it correctly. That means setting your oven to the right temperature, letting it heat for long enough, and mixing it to activate the most surface area. Generally speaking, you want to:

  • Heat the oven to 245°F (120°C)
  • Cook for 30 to 40 minutes
  • Mix the buds every 10 minutes

If you’re tight on time, you can set the oven to 300°F (150°C) and cook for 10 to 18 minutes, stirring every five minutes–but the low-and-slow method is always best when dealing with delicate cannabinoids.

When steeping the ground cannabis in oil, try to maintain a temperature between  160-200°F (low or medium on a slow cooker). Use a thermometer to check the temperature and let it cook for about three hours with the cover removed.

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Mistake #4: Grinding your cannabis into powder

Solution: Use a hand grinder for a more coarse grind

Ever wonder why your edibles have a strong grassy flavor? The grind of your cannabis might be too fine. Pulverizing your cannabis with a food processor or a coffee grinder until it’s a powder will:

  • Introduce chlorophyll to your oil, lending a strong plant-like taste
  • Cause your butter or oil to turn green (which may look appealing, but at the cost of flavor)
  • Make it impossible to strain unwanted, bad-tasting plant material

Once your cannabis has decarboxylated in the oven, grind it coarsely with a hand grinder. Cannabinoids readily bind to the oil’s fats, and a coarse grind will allow it to effectively absorb without pulling in unwanted plant material.

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Mistake #5: Improperly straining the oil

Solution: Strain with cheesecloth and let gravity do the work

Once you’ve infused your oil, it’s time to strain out the plant material. Cheesecloth is often recommended because it allows oil to pass through while separating it from the ground plant material, but only if you let gravity do the straining for you. Don’t squeeze the cheesecloth to get every drop of oil out. Milking it like this will push out a little more oil but a lot more plant material.

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Mistake #6: Baking too little oil into your dish–or, God forbid, way too much

Solution: Test the oil’s potency before incorporating it into a dish

Eating homemade edibles doesn’t have to be like Russian Roulette. You can run a “strand test” beforehand to gage how much infused oil you’ll need in your recipe based on its potency. Here’s how.

Take 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of your oil as a personal dose and add it to a food or drink. Wait an hour and see how you feel. This will help you determine what an appropriate single dose would be. Once you’ve determined how much oil yields your desired effects, multiply that dose per serving if making a shareable batch (if making a cake, pizza, a pitcher, etc.). Or simply scoop that perfect dose onto each individual dish (if infusing a plate of pasta, a cup of coffee, a piece of toast, etc.).

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Mistake #7: Uneven distribution of potency in an infused batch

Solution: Stir well. Really, really well.

We’ve all been there: you made a perfectly good batch of cannabutter for your brownies, but after eating an entire piece, you don’t feel a thing. So you eat another, and still don’t feel a thing. Your friend, however, ate half a one and is somewhere in the cosmos. What happened?

You probably didn’t stir the batter well enough. If making a batch of infused food, stir like your life depended on it. This will ensure that the oil is distributed evenly across the batch and that your perfect dose makes it into each individual slice.

If you aspire to perfect your infused dishes, be sure to stop by a Puff, Pass & Bake cooking class in Denver, CO, or Las Vegas, NV, to learn all the secrets (while having a jolly good time with other stoned people). When it comes to cannabis and cooking, there’s always more to learn.

Muchas Gracias: How Spain Brought Cannabis to the Americas and Influenced Hispanic Culture

National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes Americans with ancestry in Spanish-speaking nations. During this month, we celebrate the contributions of these people to the US as well as the various histories and cultures of the countries they represent. Many Hispanic nations celebrate their independence during this month, and September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of several Latin American countries.

To help bring awareness of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we explore Spain’s role in bringing cannabis to the Americas and its indigenous people, how hemp made its way up to California, cannabis’s spread into the United States, and how a famous Mexican folk song referencing “marijuana” came to be.

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Cannabis’s Migration Across the Globe

Cannabis plants are believed to have evolved on the steppes of Central Asia, in the regions that are now Mongolia and southern Siberia. Both hemp and psychoactive marijuana were used in ancient China. The plant’s medicinal properties, including its use as an anesthetic during surgery, were supposedly realized and taught by the mythical Chinese emperor Shen Nung in 2737 BC. From China, coastal farmers brought the plant south to Korea.

Historical evidence demonstrates that the Aztecs used several forms of psychoactive drugs.

The plant came to the South Asian subcontinent between 2000 BC and 1000 BC, when the region was invaded by the Aryans. Cannabis would become popular in India, where it was celebrated as one of “five kingdoms of herbs … which release us from anxiety” in an ancient Sanskrit poem. The plant arrived in the Middle East between 2000 BC and 1400 BC, where it was likely used by the nomadic Scythians. This group carried the drug into southeast Russia and Ukraine. Germanic tribes brought the drug into central Europe, and marijuana went from there to Britain during the 5th century with the Anglo-Saxon invasions.

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Over the following centuries, cannabis migrated to various regions of the world, traveling through Africa and reaching South America before being carried northwards, eventually reaching North America. Responsibility for the introduction of cannabis as an intoxicant in the Americas rests with the Spanish, with some help from the Portuguese. Prior to their conquests, Native Americans used tobacco and other substances in rituals as relaxants and hallucinogens, but not cannabis.

The New World Before Cannabis

There is much archaeological evidence that points to the use of entheogens early in the history of Mesoamerica. “Entheogen” is a word coined by academics denoting plants and substances used for traditional sacred rituals. A large number of inebriants, from tobacco and marijuana to alcohol and opium, have been venerated as gifts from the gods in different cultures at different times. Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years; their significance is well established in many diverse practices geared towards achieving transcendence. These psychedelic substances have played a pivotal role in the spiritual practices of American cultures for millennia.

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The Maya, for example, flourished in Central America from as early as 2000 BC right up until the fall of their last city, Nojpetén, to the Spanish in 1697. Their religion placed a strong emphasis on an individual being a communicator between the physical world and the spiritual world, and hallucinogens would have been helpful in bridging the gap. Mushroom stone effigies, dating to 1000 BC, give evidence that mushrooms were at least revered in a religious way.

Similarly, the ancient Aztecs employed a variety of entheogenic plants and animals within their society from the 14th to 16th centuries. The various species have been identified through their depiction on murals, vases, and other objects. Historical evidence demonstrates that the Aztecs used several forms of psychoactive drugs: The Xochipilli statue gives the identity of several entheogenic plants, and the Florentine Codex vividly describes Aztec culture and society, including the use of entheogenic drugs.

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Spain Spreads Hemp Production

Christopher Columbus’ voyage in 1492 led to the Columbian Exchange, the widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations, communicable diseases, ideas, and technology between the Old and New World. It was one of the most significant events concerning ecology, agriculture, and culture in all of human history, and cannabis (hemp) was part of this exchange.

Even before the English and the French were thinking about exploiting the New World, Spain was promoting hemp production in its colonies throughout South America. As early as 1545, hemp seed was sown in the Quillota Valley, near the city of Santiago in Chile. Most of the hemp fiber from these initial experiments were used to make rope for the army stationed in Chile. The rest was used to replace worn-out rigging on ships docked at Santiago. Eventual surpluses were shipped north to Peru. Attempts were also made at cultivating hemp in Peru and Colombia, but only the Chilean experiments proved successful.

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Hemp is believed to have been brought to Mexico by Pedro Cuadrado, a conquistador in Cortes’s army, when the conqueror made his second expedition to Mexico. Cuadrado and a friend went into business raising hemp in Mexico and were pretty successful at it. However, in 1550, the Spanish governor forced the two entrepreneurs to limit production because the natives were beginning to use the plants for something other than rope.

Hemp Gets Planted in California

By the 18th century, Spain’s economy began to plummet drastically and the country began to turn to its colonies for a boost. In 1777, experts were dispatched to various colonial outposts in Spanish America to teach the inhabitants the finer points of growing and preparing commercial hemp. Three years later, orders from Spain instructed all viceroys to encourage hemp production throughout New Spain. 

In 1801, the area around San Jose was chosen as an experimental farm area and an earnest effort was made to raise hemp for market.

In Mexico, the authorities decided that the province of California would be an ideal place to farm hemp, but the missions and individual farmers in the parishes preferred raising food crops and cattle. When no hemp arrived for shipment, experts were again deployed to California to instruct the people how to grow and prepare hemp for market.

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In 1801, the area around San Jose was chosen as an experimental farm area and an earnest effort was made to raise hemp for market. From 1807 to 1810, California increased its hemp production from 12,500 to over 220,000 pounds. Production may have continued to increase, but in 1810 the Mexican Revolution effectively detached California from the main seat of government. Consequently, the subsidies that had stimulated hemp production were no longer available, and the commercial production of hemp came to an end.

‘Marijuana’ in Mexico

By the end of the 19th century the use of cannabis was noted in Mexico. It could be found growing in the wild and was commonly cultivated by peasants who mostly smoked it in pipes, but also ate or made infusions of it with sugar cane, milk, and chiles. It was extensively used by curandero, witchdoctors who were repositories of “the old knowledge.” Within a decade, cannabis cigarettes became common, the contents of which were called “marijuana.”

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The Origin of the Word ‘Marijuana’

The word “marijuana” was colloquial, though its origins are uncertain. One possible root seems to have been the Mexican military slang phrase “Maria y Juana” (Mary and Jane), meaning a prostitute or brothel where these marijuana-filled cigarettes presumably could be bought and consumed. Others suggest that it may have derived from the Nahuatl phrase mallihuan, meaning “prisoner,” which the Spanish pronunciation later altered. Whatever the case, in the early 20th century, the word was widespread in Mexico and, along with the substance itself, was beginning to creep northwards.

Cannabis’s Arrival in the United States

After this pretty impressive trip through the pre-modern and modern worlds, cannabis finally came to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. It arrived in the southwest United States from Mexico, with immigrants fleeing that country during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911.

The revolution that overthrew General Porfiro Diaz in 1910 increased the Mexican migration rate and, inevitably, the use of marijuana in the US.

At that time, Mexico was in a state of upheaval. The dictatorship of General Porfiro Diaz was unpopular and dissent was widespread. This period’s effect on the economy was devastating, and a large number of rank and file Mexicans migrated north over the Rio Grande into Texas and, to a lesser extent, New Mexico. Once there, many settled in shanty-towns and amongst the poorer quarters of towns, finding work as unskilled laborers.

The revolution that overthrew Diaz in 1910 increased the migration rate and, inevitably, the use of marijuana in the US. Gradually, the migrant workforce pushed deeper into the United States, bringing their customs and habits with them, including partaking in cannabis. Consequently, many early prejudices against marijuana use were thinly veiled racist fears of its smokers, often disseminated by reactionary newspapers.

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Pancho Villa and the ‘Roach’

The overthrow of General Diaz was engineered by Francisco Madero, whose forces included a man named Doroteo Arango. During another uprising two years later, Arango, who is better known today as Pancho Villa, would fall afoul of one of his commanding officers, General Victoriano Huerta. Villa was arrested and condemned to death, but after escaping from prison, he joined up with troops loyal to him, called the Division del Norte, and fled into the US. A well-known Mexican folksong, “La Cucaracha,” would become the anthem of Pancho Villa’s army:

The cockroach, the cockroach,
Now he cannot walk,
Because he doesn’t have, because he’s lacking,
Marijuana to smoke.

It’s a fun little tune considered to be the Mexican version of “Yankee Doddle Dandy” (with added cannabis references, of course). The song was most likely brought to Mexico from Spain, while the lyrics typically commemorate 19th century conflicts in both countries. Its most famous verses were written during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920.

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There are plenty of stories concerning the origins of the verse containing the “marijuana” reference. Some refer to the “cucaracha” as Pancho Villa’s car, which looked a bit like a cockroach with his soldiers hanging out the sides of it. Others claim that the song is ridiculing the federal forces that the revolutionaries said couldn’t fight without smoking marijuana to increase their bravado. Some say, and this seems most likely, that it was directed at the dictatorial Victoriano Huerta, who was ridiculed by his many enemies as a drunk and pot fiend who lived only for his daily weed.

We can’t definitively confirm the protagonist of the song, but that won’t stop us conjecturing as to the provenance of another term. Maybe “La Cucaracha” is the etymological origin of the modern slang term Americans use for a joint filter or the frustrating, finger-burning remains of a joint: the “roach.” After all, cucaracha is Spanish for “cockroach,” and “roach” is the sole unstressed syllable in that word. (It’s an admittedly tenuous argument.)

An alternative theory might cite the Spanish phrase “tabaco de cucaracha” as the origin of “roach” considering that the term refers to low-quality or adulterated tobacco. Of course, we can’t say for sure.