Author Kate Simmons

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Did you know that we’ve learned more about space than we have about cannabis? I totally just made that up, but the point remains: There are too many uncharted strains out there. We come across a new species of pot much more often than an astronomer discovers some black hole, and the origins of some of these strains are just as dark. So it’s always nice to come across something new whose origins are relatively easy to trace, especially when the strain is as bomb as Grapefruit Durban.

I stumbled on Grapefruit Durban almost two years ago. It’s been around town since at least late 2014 and seems to be a Colorado-only strain on the commercial side, as there is little information about it online other than its infrequent appearances on a few Denver menus. With such a straightforward name, though, the strain’s genetics are easy to determine.

For the uninitiated, Grapefruit Durban is bred from Grapefruit and Durban Poison strains — two of my favorite sativas, thanks to the instant energy they bring. Grapefruit, bred from Cinderella 99 and an unknown auto-flowering sativa, is beloved for its heavy citrus, tropical aromas and relatively easy growing process. Durban Poison, a landrace sativa I write about often, is one of Colorado’s most popular, with a sweet, skunky flavor and intense head high.

If you want to keep a marijuana meeting going smoothly, don’t mention Reefer Madness.

The second-to-last meeting of Denver’s Social Consumption Advisory Committee took an interesting turn on March 24 when Dan Landes, the group’s business representative and owner of City, O’ City and the soon-to-reopen Campus Lounge, used that term — and offended some members of the committee.

Concerned that the committee was making requirements for social-use applications too complicated, Landes said he was worried that many small businesses would be barred from applying. “I wonder when everybody imagines what this marijuana social consumption area looks like, what they have in their head?” Landes asked. Most of the people he’d heard from — either personally or when they reached out to the committee — with ideas about implementing social consumption under the provisions of Initiative 300 are not bar owners or coffee shop proprietors, Landes pointed out; they’re entrepreneurs hoping to add cannabis into an already established business or recreational activity.

Dear Stoner: I’ve seen some dispensaries that have rooms for only medical customers, some for only recreational customers and some that sell to both. It seems inefficient, so why all the separation?

Dear Joey: Yes, it does seem inefficient when you see the exact same products on both sides. But when recreational marijuana became legal in this state, the law called for separating medical patients from retail customers.

As a result, any pot shop that sells to both medical and recreational crowds needs to have licenses for each, and to keep those licenses, it needs to have separate medical and retail marijuana inventory, tracking and customers. If a bud room only has one point-of-sale system, then only one of the consumer demographics can be served. While some dispensaries prefer individual rooms for each side in order to ensure privacy, others will install two POS systems in a bud room and simply split it in half with an imaginary line or rope.

Veterans in Colorado’s cannabis industry are the new kids on the block for 4/20.

Since there’s no High Times event on April 20 in Colorado this year, local companies are coming together to create their own 4/20 commemoration that will be representative of the state’s marijuana industry. The Green Solution, The Hemp Connoisseur (THC) magazine, incredibles and New Earth Muziq are partnering to host 420 on the Block in the 1000 to 1200 blocks of Broadway on Thursday, April 20.

“We want to take 4/20 back,” says Nick Callaio, marketing and events director for the Green Solution. “High Times didn’t have to jump through all those hoops…we had to jump through all those hoops.”

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