coloradocultivarsKate Simmons | Toke of the Town

The fourth annual NoCo Hemp Expo this past weekend featured more than 130 vendors and 60 speakers, all sharing information about this amazing plant. Here are ten things we learned about hemp, from its history to its modern-day applications.

1. Hemp enriches the soil where it’s grown.

Hemp has such deep roots that it can easily grow in many different types of soil and terrains. It even holds the soil together, and increases its microbial content. Once the plant is harvested, the stem and leaves are so nutrient-filled that many farmers put what they don’t use back in the soil, which rejuvenates it and results in an even bigger yield the next year.

mjBrett Levin

Five measures concerning marijuana were introduced in Congress on March 30. Three came from Oregon lawmakers regarding taxes, baking restrictions and descheduling marijuana; Representative Jared Polis reintroduced his 2015 legislation that would essentially regulate marijuana like alcohol, and another bill that would give people in states with legalized marijuana extra protections from federal prosecution.

Here are the most significant provisions of those proposals, for both the cannabis industry and consumers.

img_8184_1_Kate Simmons | Toke of the Town

On March 30, Representative Jared Polis reintroduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, as colleagues introduced four other measures in the U.S. House of Representatives that would protect states with legal marijuana from threatened action by the Trump administration.

Under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice followed the 2013 Cole Memo, which essentially protected states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana from federal interference. When Polis originally introduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act in 2015, it did not pass — perhaps in part because states with legal marijuana did not feel threatened.

ask_a_stonerWestword

Dear Stoner: My roommate and I were thinking about getting into growing. I own the house and am learning about equipment, but what are some good strains to start with? Are some better for beginners than others?
New Jack

Dear Jack: Treat growing cannabis like cooking: Some dishes are easier than others. There are so many factors that can make one strain more difficult than another, including vegetation and flowering time, reaction to trimming, resilience against pests, temperature and light changes, and much more. Only experience will help you control these variables with different strains, but some are definitely more low-maintenance than others.

homegrowMark Eggrole

In an effort to curb the illegal marijuana market in Colorado, the Colorado Senate approved HB 1220 on March 29 by a unanimous vote; the measure would set a new, lower limit for the number of plants a medical patient or caregiver may raise in a residential area. Senator Bob Gardner sponsored the bill to change the statewide cap in an attempt to cut down on outsized grows that could become tools of cartels.

Amendment 64 permitted Coloradans to have six plants for recreational purposes, but medical patients and registered caregivers were allowed up to 99 plants unless local rules called for lower limits. New Mexico has the next highest limit: twelve immature and four mature plants.

trump_oct_rally2016_18_of_75_Brandon Marshall

President Donald Trump has a plan to stop the opioid epidemic, and (surprise!) it doesn’t involve cannabis.

The president’s latest executive order lays out a blueprint for a commission that will address the nation’s opioid epidemic. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in this country: The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reports that there were 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015, and 2 million people had a prescription pain-abuse disorder.

Cannabis has been widely discussed as an alternative for opioids, but there’s no indication that the commission will consider its medical benefits. In fact, marijuana-hater Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, has been chosen to chair the commission. Others on the panel include Attorney General Jeff Sessions, another staunch critic of cannabis, as well as Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Defense Secretary James Mattis, the Washington Post reports.

Shulkin, a physician who also worked with the Obama administration, is the first non-veteran to lead the VA. Despite marijuana’s federal prohibition, he’s said he’s open to discussing whether veterans can participate in state-run marijuana programs.

_dsf9978Kate Simmons | Toke of the Town

For those who require discretion, functionality and style, we give you the VaePlume, an actual vape pen. The design allows users to unscrew the top, insert a cartridge of their choice and then smoke out of the top of the pen, while the bottom is a functional writing instrument.

“I’d seen a lot of vape pens that were disguised as pens that didn’t really have the functionality, so that’s what gave me the idea,” says Jake Plume, creator of the pen.

An engineer and machinist by trade, he tinkered with the mechanics for about six months, starting with the battery. “One of the first things I needed to do was find a battery that was a size that would fit into a normal pen,” he explains.

image1_64_Brandon Marshall

As industry advocates gear up to celebrate 4/20, the city’s Social Consumption Advisory Committee is starting to wrap up its work, which means that Denver could soon see legal public consumption every day of the year.

Although the committee meeting on March 24 saw some dispute over the image of the places where public consumption will be allowed under Initiative 300, which voters approved last fall, there was consensus on other issues. For example, members agreed that public hearings over licenses should not be places for people to vent about legalization or the implementation of social use; those are realities that Denverites are just going to have to deal with.

The details of special-event permitting sparked more discussion, though, particularly events allowing dual consumption: alcohol and cannabis.

den_011217_veritas_grow_slentz008Scott Lentz

There are 21 million people in Florida, millions of whom will eventually qualify for the medical-grade marijuana that voters approved in November. Very soon, a hell of a lot of weed will be legally sold in the Sunshine State. And so far, lawmakers have given exactly seven companies the right to grow and sell all of that pot.

While Tallahassee might yet hand out a few more licenses by the end of the session, the seven-member pot cartel is already cashing in big-time on its advantage. Yesterday Canadian firm Aphria paid $25 million to buy out Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, an Alachua nursery with one of those licenses. And last year, Massachusetts-based Palliatech bought a minority stake in Miami’s only legal pot grower, Costa Nursery Farms.

As millions of dollars flow into those lucky license-holders, critics say the state is letting a de facto monopoly rake in major cash at the expense of the patients who need that medical pot.

medical-marijuana-florida-amendment-weedShutterstock.com

Florida’s mostly Republican legislators can barely pass basic laws like tax cuts or budget plans without tripping over themselves or spiraling into intra-party screaming matches. They’re so bad at writing their own laws that, as the Miami Herald astutely pointed out last week, gigantic companies like Florida Power & Light have to write laws for them. The current Legislature is a Stygian pit of bad ideas.

So, naturally, Florida voters in 2016 chose to give all of those people drugs.

Last November, Sunshine State residents voted to legalize medical marijuana. This is a good development for folks with debilitating diseases such as cancer, posttraumatic stress disorder, or Alzheimer’s. But it’s not exactly the best-case scenario for many of Florida’s reactionary, conservative lawmakers, who are extremely good at tearing welfare programs apart and not quite as great at writing large, sweeping bills that help people.

Unfortunately, Amendment 2 — the one that legalized medicinal weed last year — gave Florida lawmakers tons of leeway to set their own rules and procedures for the medical-cannabis rollout.

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