Tag: how to

How to Become a Judge at a Cannabis Competition

Becoming a judge at a cannabis competition may just be the ultimate bucket list item for a cannabis enthusiast. After all, the prospect of being given dozens of cannabis products to rate and review seems like a literal dream come true to the budding ganja connoisseur.

However, there’s much more that goes into judging a competition than meets the eye. If you’re considering applying to be a competition judge, this guide will help you determine if you have what it takes to qualify and can provide a basic understanding of what the judging process entails.

Who Can Judge a Cannabis Competition?

Judge's samples of cannabis product for a cannabis competition(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

Determining who can qualify to judge a cup depends on the type of competition or event. On one end of the spectrum are closed competitions, where judges are hand-selected by staff officials based on merit and experience. These judges are often well-known professionals within the industry, so this type of event isn’t typically open to the public for judging.

On the other hand, some competitions are completely open to the public, requiring absolutely no prior experience, qualifications, or affiliations within the industry. In these cases, those interested in judging simply purchase a pass ahead of time in the same manner as someone who is planning to attend the event.

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Many competitions have adopted a vetting system whereby applicants fill out a questionnaire detailing their experience and industry affiliations. While the public is open to the application process, the event’s staff is given the final say in who is selected for the judging process. This system has become more or less commonplace for competitions today, as it provides fairly open access to the public as well as some control for the event staff to determine qualifications.

How to Qualify to Be a Judge

A judge's kit of samples for a cannabis competition(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

There are no universal qualifications that must be met when applying to be a cannabis competition judge. However, a few considerations should be taken into account before applying.

1. Do you have any prior experience in competition judging?

Understanding the nuances of a particular competition can help you gain an edge when applying as it shows you have a basic understanding of the process. Although not required, having prior experience will go a long way if you’re being vetted for a judge position.

2. Are you an industry affiliate?

If you’re applying to judge either a closed competition or one with a vetting system in place, having industry affiliation can give you the competitive advantage over other applicants. Your ties lets competition organizers know that you could be more experienced with the industry and with cannabis products, and can display a fundamental understanding of the qualitative measures taken to judge submissions.

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3. Are you local to the event?

Many competitions require those who judge to be local to the event. This is due to several reasons, the most important of which is that products must be distributed beforehand in order to provide judges with an ample amount of time to review and submit their considerations. Remember, it’s federally illegal to transport cannabis across state lines, so people who live out-of-state can’t pick up their samples and fly or drive home to another state and try them before the event date.

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Aside from these three considerations, having a basic understanding of the judging process may be the most qualifying factor in becoming a competition judge. Contrary to what some industry professionals would have you believe, judging a competition requires much more of you than simply consuming massive amounts of cannabis in a concentrated timespan while indiscriminately assigning numerical values to the samples at hand. Although each competition weighs qualitative assessments differently, having a keen understanding of how to rate and review a cannabis product is paramount.

One must be proficient in the following areas:

  • Understanding terpene profiles (e.g. the difference between an OG strain and a Tangie strain)
  • Identifying key aesthetic traits in various cannabis products (like bud structure, color profiling, etc.)
  • Assessing tactile nuances (such as cannabis density, concentrate consistency)

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How to Prepare as a Cup or Competition Judge

Samples of cannabis product with a judge's notes for a cannabis competition(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

Competition judges are selected well in advance of an event. If you were fortunate enough to have been chosen to judge a particular category of cannabis product, or if you have purchased a judge pass in an open competition, here are a few ways you can best prepare yourself ahead of time.

Read the Rules

Before receiving your samples, familiarize yourself with the rules of the competition so that you have a full understanding of the rating process. Take notes on the competition protocol and keep them on hand when reviewing each sample so you can refer back to them as needed.

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Plan Ahead of Time

Make sure that you have a safe and sufficient space to perform your judging duties. Prepare your space with adequate ventilation. Amenities such as food and beverage should be on hand both as palate cleansers as well as for sustenance.

Build Your Tolerance

Judging a cannabis competition is much more about endurance and much less about the sprint. Consider that some competitions will have you judge dozens (sometimes over 100) samples in a time period ranging from 10 days to as little as three. This means you will be cycling though samples rapidly, so make sure you can handle the rush of cannabinoids to your system (and clear your schedule of any other responsibilities if you can).

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Take Notes While You Try Samples

In order to fairly assess a product, you’re going to want to take as many notes as possible. Oftentimes, going back and trying samples multiple times is simply not an option due to time and/or product constraints. Taking notes can help tremendously in these scenarios to shortlist top performers and select notable entrees for a final rating and review.

There are many benefits to judging a cannabis competition, such as being able to sample and review your favorite cannabis products, knowing that your opinion will factor into determining which company takes home a trophy, and receiving free merchandise to take home after the event. But remember that no matter the competition, be it an open judging process or a closed event, choosing to participate as a judge should be taken seriously at all costs. These events carry a lot of weight for the companies involved, so in order to ensure these competitions remain open to the public, having respect for the process is your responsibility as a chosen judge.

Carry this responsibility with pride; after all, you’re judging a cannabis competition! What could be better than that?

How to Set Up Your Own Cannabis Dab Station

What Is a Cannabis Dab Station and How Do You Create One?

For cannabis concentrate fans who want to enjoy fast, intense highs within the comforts of their homes, a dab station is the perfect one-stop hash haven. Dab stations contain all of the essential dabbing tools required to enjoy your concentrate of choice. They can be as small as a bedside table or as large as an entire room outfitted with essentials. At their core, however, they are your own personal cannabis concentrate sanctuary, where you’ll be able to find anything and everything needed for that perfect dab.

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How to Scout the Perfect Location for Your Dab Station

If you want to set up a dab station for yourself, it’s important to take a few preliminary considerations in mind so you’ll pick a location that meets your individual needs. Here are a few tips to help.

1. Space

Choosing an appropriate space is one of the most important factors when setting up a cannabis concentrate dab station in your home. For example, are you planning on creating an intimate environment for just yourself, or would you like to create a space where you’re able to entertain guests? Furthermore, if you have pets or children, make sure to keep them in mind when finding your nook so you can restrict their access or keep breakables and consumables locked up/out of reach.

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2. Lighting and Outlets

Dabbing in the dark is neither fun nor safe for anybody, so make sure that you have a proper source of light, be it a window or lamp nearby. If a window isn’t an option, adjustable overhead desk lamps work very well for positioning light in the right places.

Additionally, while dab stations do not necessarily require an electrical outlet nearby, having one easily accessible will open the door to more product types and different setups.

Explore Cannabis Concentrates

3. Surface Area

When setting up a dab station, your tabletop real estate comes down to how scalable you want your setup to be. Realistically, having enough space for a small rig, concentrate container, dabber tool, and torch is all you need, so something as compact as a bedside table should suffice.

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Keep in mind, however, that more space creates more possibilities. A dab station can also double as a storage solution for rigs and accessories. When choosing a proper surface for your gear, plan accordingly by making sure you can secure your belongings with a surface designed to hold what you have with minimal risk, especially if you plan on housing more than one rig. Bumps and shakes happen, but being proactive is your best weapon to defend against spills and breakage.

4. Ventilation

Fortunately with dabbing concentrates, ventilation is less of a concern than smoking cannabis. Nonetheless, proper airflow is important when choosing your ideal dabbing spot. Windows, doorways, fans, and filters are all solutions to provide better airflow to and from your dab station.

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Essential Accessories for Your at-Home Dab Station

After scouting a perfect location, you’re now ready to load it with all of the essentials needed for an optimal dabbing experience. There are all sorts of fun accessories you can add to your dab station. Let’s go over a few ideas to get you started.

Parchment Paper

You never know when this stuff will come in handy, but having a roll of parchment paper on hand will save you a walk to the kitchen or a trip to the store when you’re in a pinch.

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Rigs

ile High Glass Pipes' Black & White Raked Recycler with 4mm quartz banger (Leafly)

Tabletop rigs are perfect for dab stations. Dab rigs tend to run on the smaller side, so consider stocking up on multiple rigs as backups or to create a neat display of all your products.

Example Rig: Mile High Glass Pipes’ Black & White Raked Recycler with 4mm quartz banger 

Browse Dab and Oil Rigs

Dab Rags and Cleaning Solution

Cloth rags are perfect for cleaning up messes as well as polishing your glass. Keep some form of cleaning solution, even simple rubbing alcohol, nearby for a quick cleanup.

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Nails and Bangers

(Leafly)

Every rig needs some standard nails and bangers, and it’s important to have options within arm’s reach of your dab station. Keep your titanium, quartz, and ceramic nails all in the same place so you’ll have what you need when the time is right.

Example Nail: MiniNail’s Deepdish Domeless Universal Nail made from grade-2 titanium

View Dab Nails and Attachments

Timer

If you’re using a torch/nail setup, having a timer is essential for getting that perfect temperature every time.

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E-Nails

(Leafly)

Serious dabbers should opt for an electronic nail in their dab station. These units come in all shapes and sizes and work perfectly in a secure, safe area near a power source.

Example E-Nail: The MiniNail with titanium nail and carb cap package

Torches and Butane

Standard nails use a torch as their primary heating mechanism, so you’ll want to have a can of butane nearby for refills.

Example Torch: Wacky Willy’s Butane Blowtorch Quartz Banger Jet Lighter

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Dabber Tools and Holders

Myster's Fogpen metal dabber(Leafly)

Tools are fun and inexpensive to collect. Be sure to outfit your station with a holder to display your dabber tools for easy and quick access.

Example Dabber Tool: Myster’s Fogpen metal dabber

Hash Screens

For those who use hash products, screens are essential for getting that perfect melt while protecting your nail.

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Dab Mats

Mile High Glass Pipes' 8"x8" silicone dab tray(Leafly)

Mats are a safe and sanitary solution for holding rigs and accessories. There are many options out there, most notably the silicone mats that provide slip-free and easy-to-wipe coverage.

Example Dab Mat: Mile High Glass Pipes’ 8″x8″ silicone dab tray

Rig Accessories

These can include dropdowns, reclaim catchers, rig holders, and anything else designed to optimize your rig setup.

More Dabbing Accessories

Concentrate Storage

Kush Bottles' 5-mL silicone concentrate container(Leafly)

Storage containers for concentrates are essential and allow you to keep your product fresh and secure. Mini fridges work great for long-term storage if you have the space available. Otherwise, glass and silicone containers work as a good short-term solution.

Example Storage: Kush Bottles’ 5-mL silicone concentrate container

Seating

Nobody wants to stand around after a dab. It’s always a good idea to have a nice place to sit.

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Rosin Press

(Leafly)

Having a rosin press nearby is a great way to give yourself fresh-squeezed hash oil in a pinch. Even a hair straightener is a fun and cheap option to have access to if you want to press your own rosin at home.

Example Rosin Press: RCCTools Heady ENail Designs’ CannaClamp handheld rosin press

All-in-One Dab Stations

There’s a lot of fun and creativity that goes into custom building your own personalized dab stations, however there are many pre-made options available for those who want to go that route. Here are a few favorites to consider if you’re in the market for a pre-made dab station.

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Kind Trays

The team behind Kind Trays has designed a line of trays and dab stations that are both stylish, and affordable. There are several options available, each one proving a unique solution to the dabbing experience.

ZeeFusion Custom Travel Stations

If you want a handcrafted, custom-built dab station that will absolutely blow your mind, check out ZeeFusion.com’s made-to-order custom cherry wood dab stations. They represent the pinnacle of quality and craftsmanship and will give your display a refined touch.

Ready to build your own dab station? Check out our catalog of dabbing products to begin creating your dream setup!

Find Cannabis Dabbing Products

(Main image by rgbspace/iStock)

6 Ways to Advocate for a Pro-Cannabis Local Government

The clock is ticking in California as months dissolve into weeks leading up to the Jan. 1 launch of an adult-use cannabis market. While the state Bureau of Cannabis Control will impose regulations on the newly legal industry, many of California’s nearly 600 municipalities are scrambling to enact their own guidelines that could mean life or death for local businesses.

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Rules adopted at the city and county level will, in many ways, shape the face of the state’s cannabis industry—and could make or break a would-be business. Not only do state regulators require local authorization to grant a cannabis business license, but beyond that, local ordinances often dictate crucial elements of business operations, such as zoning restrictions and additional tax requirements.

“We’re going from a culture of hiding to all of a sudden being a culture of inviting.”

Gavin Kogan , Grupo Flor

That’s why legislative advocates, cannabis activists and consultants alike are encouraging everyone in the cannabis business to engage with their local governments.

“There’s no doubt about it,” said Gavin Kogan, an attorney and a co-founder of cannabis consortium Grupo Flor. “If you’re in the pot industry, you’re in politics.”

Leafly spoke with industry experts on how to best rally support of local officials as members of an industry that’s long carried social stigma. The first step? Don’t be intimidated.

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1 Show Up! Be Visible!

If you’re struggling to find a good place to begin your political career, start small. Make a call to your representative or show up at City Council meeting. Speak up during the appropriate comment period, said Amy Jenkins, a longtime legislative advocate for cannabis in California, or request a meeting to speak one-on-one with the appropriate municipal official. Don’t forget to follow up!

Don’t stop there. Keep writing letters and meeting with community members—especially those who aren’t so sure about cannabis, said Kogan. Be available to share helpful, relatable information—tidbits, he said, like: For every dollar earned in the cannabis industry, ancillary businesses make $5.

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Advocacy takes time and energy, so make sure you’re reaching out to the right local agency. If you’re operating in an unincorporated county area, you’ll want to focus efforts on the Board of Supervisors. If you’re in a city, it’ll be the City Council. (Most local governments have staffers who can help direct you to the appropriate departments.)

2. Build Relationships

Engagement means more than speaking your mind. It also entails doing your homework on politicians and supporting—financially or otherwise—those who favor cannabis causes. Reach out to those officials, community leaders, and others, Jenkins said, to allow them to ask questions and better familiarize themselves with the cannabis space and how you operate.

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3. Know Your Audience

Most government officials will need a good reason to support cannabis-friendly policies. That’s why Jenkins suggests familiarizing yourself with your mayor, City Council members, and/or county supervisors. Learn what their interests are in order to better understand how to speak to their values. For example, a councilmember who puts a priority on public safety may respond more favorably if you’re able to explain how regulating cannabis businesses can reduce risks to the public.

“When you go in and understand what makes a policymaker tick, you’re going to get a lot more bang for your buck,” she said.

In Santa Ana, for example, the city is considering expanding commercial cannabis activity and has also prioritized securing funding for youth and afterschool programs, Jenkins explained. The situation could be an opportunity for cannabis advocates to bring up revenue opportunities presented by the legal cannabis industry, Jenkins said, and highlight its potential benefits to the greater community.

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Get to know officials’ staff as well, encouraged Kogan. These behind-the-scenes personnel serve as gatekeepers to the higher ups, he explained, and in many instances will even outlast their bosses.

4. Care About More Than Cannabis

While attending cannabis-related meetings is a no-brainer, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re concerned with the community—not just with issues that impact you directly, said John Kabateck, executive director of Kabateck Strategies.

“The most important thing you can do is get to know the people and the organizations in your surrounding community.”

Kabateck, Kabateck Strategies

From City Council discussions on the success of small businesses to neighborhood hearings around public safety, events are an opportunity to make yourself visible as an advocate for the community. Get involved with groups like the local chamber of commerce, the Boys & Girls Club, or other philanthropic organizations—and do it with a “sincere heart,” said Kabateck.

“Even before getting to know your legislators, your council members … the most important thing you can do is get to know the people and the organizations in your surrounding community,” he said.

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5. School Your Officials

You’ve probably been told that spiders are as afraid of you as you are of them. The same often goes for government officials. While members of cannabis industry may not always know how to navigate bureaucracy or approach local officials, Jenkins said, those officials themselves often don’t know much about marijuana businesses.

Jenkins said she met recently with a Northern California mayor, for example, who didn’t understand even the most fundamental aspects of the trade, from the different license categories to the range of products. “The level of understanding is really alarming,” she said.

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And because many small governments have no incentive to educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis, it’s often up to the cannabis community to teach them. Invite your local representative to tour your grow or witness the extraction process, suggested Kogan, or have the fire department over to see firsthand the safety precautions you’ve put in place.

“We’re going from a culture of hiding,” he said, “to all of a sudden being a culture of inviting.”

6. Form a United Front

Put aside disagreements or business competition and join forces with others in your local cannabis community. Identify a few common goals and meet with lawmakers as a group, said Jenkins. “Don’t make policymakers have to choose amongst you.”

Jenkins said she saw the power of group advocacy firsthand when she formed the Cannabis Caucus, an organization of 13 lobbying firms with cannabis clients that came together to rally for change at the state level in California. Groups in other parts of the state have formed their own industry associations as well, from the Southern California Coalition to the Sonoma County Growers Alliance.

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Even if you don’t form an official organization, there are plenty of other ways to work together. It can be as simple, Kabateck said, as inviting industry members to a roundtable or informal coffee meeting with community members and officials to share experiences and ideas.

While grassroots advocacy isn’t always the sexiest of endeavors, it’s key to securing good policy around legal cannabis. After all, local regulations will affect you whether or not you’re a part of the process. If you care about what the future of California cannabis looks like—or how the industry will impact you—now’s the time to get involved.

6 Ways to Save Money by Making Your Cannabis Last Longer

Every time I get to the bottom of my cannabis jar, I find myself thinking, “Damn, I already smoked all of that?!” Don’t be like me—there are ways to make your cannabis purchases last longer between dispensary visits, and as long as you have some self-discipline to make minor adjustments to your consumption habits, your wallet will stay a little bit fatter.

Here are a few pointers on how to ration your green, both cash and cannabis, and still get high.

Buy in Bulk and Distribute It Evenly Across How Many Days You Want It to Last

I purchase halves (half an ounce, or 14 grams) because they come with the biggest price break. In a perfect world, I’d be able to make that last 14 days, but joke’s on me, I usually make it about eight. However, if I were smart about it, like you should be, I’d take that 14 grams, break up the nugs into 1-gram quantities, and store them in one of those S-M-T-W-T-F-S pill boxes that your great-great-grandma uses to keep track of what pills she should take and on which days.

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If you want to conserve your cannabis and make it stretch, that’s what you should do. Set the standard. Be my role model.

Skip the Wake ‘n Bake

We all love a good wake ‘n bake because you get that special kind of high that rides with you throughout the whole morning, and sometimes even the whole day, but there’s still no better time to smoke than at the end of a long day when all of your responsibilities have been taken care of.

Instead of using your cannabis for the wake up/bake up, stash it away for the late night roll-up and thank yourself later.

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Scoop Up a One-Hitter/Chillum

I have, and will always, be an advocate for the one-hitter. I don’t know the science behind it, but a couple hits sometimes get me just as high as a few tokes off a blunt. $10 for a couple one-hitters per month to make your cannabis stretch for a few extra weeks is a very worthwhile purchase.

Browse Chillum Products

The same goes for a chillum, which is just a one-hitter that lifts weights twice a day. A one-hitter will give you a couple hits then be cashed out, but a chillum bowl will push out four or five, maybe even more if you corner the bowl just right. Either, you’ll definitely be where you need to be.

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Glassware Is Your Friend

Glassware is one of your best friends when it comes to conserving cannabis. A bowl a day keeps the empty jars away, ya know? If you’re trying to save money, pick up a little pipe for $15. They’re a lot easier to clean and rejuvenate than one-hitters, and you’ll use less cannabis than you would in a joint or blunt.

Pick Up a Pipe

Speaking of which…

Smoke Fewer Joints/Blunts

The average joint/blunt will cost you about half a gram at the bare minimum. My roll-ups usually hit for at least .75 grams a pop. If I smoke 2-3 times a day, then that’s *does the math* way too much green wasted in a day. Like, yeah, I got stupid high enough to kiss Mars on the lips, but I could’ve done it in a more efficient manner.

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Don’t make my mistakes. If you’re trying to make your green stretch, maybe only smoke blunts/joints on the weekend. Or only once a night. It really all depends on how often you smoke, but if you’re an everyday smoker who’s trying to be more efficient with how much you’re buying, slow down on the joints and blunts.

Cut Off the Mooches

I know sharing is caring and the whole mission of the culture is to bring people together, but you can’t let everyone be Moochie Norris out there just because they’re your homies. There’s no one worse than that friend who always pops up with empty hands and empty pockets when it’s time to smoke. Cannabis gets pricey, and if you’re trying to make it last then using less in more strategic manners is key.

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You’ll never be using less if every time you plan on loading a personal bowl, it turns into you having to load multiple bowls or twisting up a bunch of blunts/joints because your friends keep scavenging your stash. You wouldn’t let someone just eat all of your food without ever contributing a dollar or at least a slice of pizza to the cause. Treat your bud with the same respect.

What’s a ‘Grinder Coin’, and How Does It Affect Your Kief Collection?

As an avid cannabis consumer, I’m always looking for opportunities to get more out of my buds. One of the easiest, low-cost ways to extend the life of your cannabis and the tasty trichomes covering it is to get a quality two-chamber grinder. These grinders are usually denoted by their four-piece construction: lid (top grinder), grinder tray (bottom grinder), bud receptacle, and kief catcher. While many cannabis consumers prefer to break up their bud with their hands, I choose to grind my herb because it improves airflow (in a bowl or in a joint) while saving broken trichomes for later use.

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The addition of a kief catcher allows for the passive harvest of potent, delicious trichomes that can be pressed into hash, added to cannabutter or cannabis-infused coconut oil, or simply sprinkled into a joint or on top of a bowl. In an attempt to gather as much of this unrefined cannabis concentrate as possible, I added one additional (albeit optional) piece to my grinder set-up: a clean coin.

(Leafly)

A “grinder coin” can improve the amount of kief you gather from your ground cannabis without reducing the overall potency of your cannabis-consuming experience too much. People who already utilize a grinder coin go at harvesting their kief in a few different ways. The newest method to me is placing your grinder (containing your freshly ground herb) into the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes before shaking vigorously. I understand the motivation to freeze the trichomes (possibly making them more brittle), but I believe the grinding motion alone should be enough agitation to gather kief without postponing your access to your freshly ground cannabis.

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You might be wondering, “Is there a special type of coin I should use in my grinder?” No, but I would note that the size of the coin should be relative to the size of your grinder. If you have a small micro-grinder, a sterilized dime or nickel could work well. Conversely, if you grind a bit more than the Average Joe and have a grinder of considerable size, I would recommend a clean quarter, Loonie, pound, or, for those with a penchant for Feng Shui and lucky numbers, the eight-sided Singapore $1 coin.

These are just a few example, but there are tons of options out there. One that has gotten some recognition in the r/trees subreddit is the 1969 Bahama Islands pineapple five-cent piece. The pineapple, or “highnapple,” is one of the newer symbols in cannabis culture, and this piece of history synthesizes the old world with the new. Check out this Etsy page for the pineapple coin and more cool old coins to add to your grinder.

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Obviously, before you drop a piece of loose change you found in your pocket or couch cushions into your grinder, wash and sterile it. This will just take a few moments with some hot water, soap, a sponge, and elbow grease to remove any particulates or patina from the coin. Afterwards, give it a quick shine with 70%+ isopropyl alcohol, pat and air dry, then deposit.

A grinder coin is one more layer of personalization cannabis consumers can add to their setup, and without too much effort. But whether or not you add some change to your cannabis, keep your kief, make something special, and stay on your grind.

Tips for Growing Critical Kush Cannabis

Ever wanted to grow your favorite strain? Leafly and General Hydroponics are teaming up on a series of grow guides that will equip you with all the tips and tricks you need to grow different strains successfully.


Strain Overview: Produced by Barney’s Farm, Critical Kush was bred by crossing Critical Mass with OG Kush. Known for its spicy, earthy flavor and overwhelming yield, this strain remains popular among growers and consumers alike.

Grow Techniques: Provide plenty of space for these plants when you grow them. Prune aggressively and trellis the branches so that the buds have room to fill in. Maintain low humidity while flowering and keep airflow up to prevent bud rot. Grow either hydroponically or in soil and keep the buds out of the rain if growing outside. Critical Kush is a great option for growing in greenhouses if you’re looking for a large harvest.

Flowering Time: 8 weeks 

Yield: High

Grow Difficulty: Moderate

Climate: Prefers a temperate to hot climate between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indoor/Outdoor: Suitable for either indoor or outdoor gardens. Works well in greenhouses where humidity can be managed effectively.

Feeding: Feed heavily while flowering to keep the buds swelling. If using liquid nutrients, also top dress the soil to allow the plants to take in a diversity of flowering nutrients at their desired rate.

How to Roll a Better Crutch for Your Joint or Spliff

A crutch—also called a filter or a tip—is one of the easiest improvements to make to the standard joint. It’s effectively a mouthpiece, and it serves a number of purposes: It keeps the end of your joint open (even when sharing with your wet-lipped friends), blocks bits of plant matter from getting in your mouth, and ensures you don’t burn your kisser as you puff your way down to the roach.

Some people, including a few of my best friends, insist on rolling joints without crutches. I think those people are silly. Others include a crutch but treat it as an afterthought. While I respect that everyone has their own methods, I thought I’d share my preferred way of building a crutch. It’s quick, easy, and has earned the seal of approval from co-workers here at Leafly.

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What to Use

Unless you opt for a reusable glass tip, the best material for a crutch is stiff paper. You’re looking for something thicker than printer paper (which is too flimsy) but thinner than a cereal box (too bulky). Some of my favorite options include:

  • An index card
  • A manila file folder
  • The back flap of a checkbook
  • A magazine subscription card
  • Some business cards (not the thick ones)

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There is also a bunch of pre-cut crutches on the market these days. My favorites are RAW’s standard tips, which use long-fiber paper made on a special mill. They’re designed specifically to roll up smoothly and have enough rigidity to hold their shape in your mouth. (I initially thought these were dubious marketing claims, but after two years of using ‘em, I’m convinced.)

I’m partial to use these RAW tips, which is what I’ll be using to demonstrate. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

The Easy (but Flawed) Way

Most people I’ve smoked with tend to roll a crutch by literally rolling it into a cylinder. When viewed head-on, it looks like a spiral.

One of the most common methods to make a crutch or filter tip is to roll it into a cylinder. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

This is an easy technique, but it has some drawbacks. The main weakness is that the opening in the center of the crutch is big enough to let through small pieces of plant matter, which can end up getting in your mouth. Another problem is that it’s not particularly sturdy and can sometimes pinch closed. Does it work? Sure. But there’s a better way.

The Better Way

You can make a much better crutch simply by adding a few accordion-style folds before rolling it up. It takes a tiny bit of practice to master, but the end product will keep those pesky flecks of cannabis out of your mouth and ensure a smooth draw.

To start, make a few folds at the end of your crutch material. Make the folds about as wide as you want the final crutch to be. Be sure not to crease the paper when you’re folding it; otherwise the final crutch will be too tight.

Start by putting a few accordion-style folds in your crutch material. Keep in mind, the space between your folds will determine the crutch’s width. Don’t crease! (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

How many folds to use is up to you. Some people talk about making an M shape inside the crutch, while others opt for a simple V. I tend to toss in a few more. Experiment to find out what you like best.

Once you’ve made those first few folds, roll the remaining crutch material around the folded part. Make sure you have enough unfolded paper to wrap completely around the crutch—you want the final product to roll easily between your fingers.

After a few folds, start to wind the remaining paper around the folded part. Make sure to leave enough left over to wrap all the way around the crutch. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Wrap up all the excess paper—you can rip some off if you have too much—and roll the finished crutch between your fingers. You might find that it wants to unroll or expand on its own. That’s OK. Once you roll the crutch into your joint, that springiness will help keep the crutch from falling out of the end of your joint.

Your finished crutch should look something like this. Just keep winding that excess paper. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Put the crutch at the end of your rolling paper and roll it into your joint. I like to leave a little of the crutch exposed, then push it flush with the edge of the rolling paper once I’m finished rolling.

Here’s what it looks like when I’m done:

The accordion-style crutch helps keep bits of plant material out of your mouth while still allowing for a smooth draw. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

The More Expensive Way

Can’t be bothered to practice tiny origami? That’s fine. Either buy a reusable tip, skip the crutch altogether, or opt for a pre-rolled crutch. There are all sorts of pre-rolled options these days, including choices by RAW, Elements, and a handful of others.

The tips work just fine, but they’ll cost you a bit more. RAW’s standard tips, which I used above, cost around $0.75 for 50. The company’s pre-rolled tips go for about $1.75 for 20—or more than twice as much.

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What are your tips and tricks for rolling the perfect joint? Share them in the comments below or give me a shout on Twitter.

Tips for Growing Sensi Star Cannabis

Ever wanted to grow your favorite strain? Leafly and General Hydroponics are teaming up on a series of grow guides that will equip you with all the tips and tricks you need to grow different strains successfully.


Strain Overview: A classic indica bred by Paradise Seeds, Sensi Star has been around for decades and continues to hold its own amongst today’s many popular strains. Sensi Star is known for its powerful high as well as also being a heavy yielder that consistently produces buds blanketed in resin.

Grow Techniques: Paradise Seeds celebrates this strain’s ability to be grown indoors or outdoors successfully. They also note that growing hydroponically or in soil works well. Indoors, you can maximize the yield by using SOG (sea of green) or SCROG (screen of green) methods. Promote bushy growth by topping the plants while they are in vegetative growth. The buds produced are very dense, so keep them away from excess moisture to prevent mold.

Flowering Time: 8 to 9 weeks

Yield: High

Grow Difficulty: Moderate

Climate: Sensi Star likes a controlled, drier climate with temperatures between 68 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indoor/Outdoor: Grows well indoors or outdoors.

Feeding: Feed this strain with a normal feeding regimen to achieve quality results.

Tips for Growing Pineapple Kush Cannabis

Ever wanted to grow your favorite strain? Leafly and General Hydroponics are teaming up on a series of grow guides that will equip you with all the tips and tricks you need to grow different strains successfully.


Strain Overview: Pineapple Kush was first produced by crossing Pineapple with Master Kush. Kush strains are generally known for their pungent, piney aroma, and this cross sweetens the flavor with tropical notes. This popular Kush variety offers a quality cerebral high with uplifting effects that allow the consumer to stay active and engaged.

Grow Techniques: Overall, Pineapple Kush is an easy strain for novice growers. Keep it indoors to provide an ideal climate, and try growing in soil or hydroponically. Consider using the SOG (sea of green) method while keeping the plants tightly pruned to direct growth to the top colas. To keep plants from falling over, trellis for support as the buds put on density.

Flowering Time: 8 weeks

Yield: Moderate to high

Grow Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Climate: Unlike some Kush strains, Pineapple Kush can handle higher humidity levels without having issues with mold. It prefers a temperature between 68 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indoor/Outdoor: Pineapple Kush does best indoors in a controlled climate.

Feeding: Like all OG varieties, feed on the heavier side. Go heavy on the CalMag and top dress the soils with phosphorus-rich nutrients when going into flowering.

Tips for Growing Sweet Tooth Cannabis

Ever wanted to grow your favorite strain? Leafly and General Hydroponics are teaming up on a series of grow guides that will equip you with all the tips and tricks you need to grow different strains successfully.


Strain Overview: Sweet Tooth is an indica-dominant strain that was created by crossing three landrace strains in the early 2000s. Stemming from Afghani, Nepalese, and Hawaiian genetics, this award-winning strain has a sweet and fruity flavor, and its effects are deeply relaxing and euphoric.

Grow Techniques: Sweet Tooth is as enjoyable to grow as it is to consume. It offers heavy yields while also being a low-maintenance plant. It is generally pest-resistant and has a strong immune system. Grow this strain indoors or outdoors, and prune the dense indica foliage to promote airflow around the buds.

Flowering Time: 8 to 9 weeks

Yield: High

Grow Difficulty: Easy

Climate: Sweet Tooth likes a cooler climate than most strains. Ideally, keep this strain between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indoor/Outdoor: This strain grows well either indoors or outdoors. 

Feeding: Feed heavily during the vegetative stage to encourage a quality growth structure and to help the plant develop before its flowering cycle. Use silica to help keep the branches strong as Sweet Tooth’s buds gain weight.