Lord Jones co-founder Cindy Capobianco describes her luxury cannabis-infused product business in much the same manner as any maker of a prestige natural skincare brand: it's made in small batches, organic ingredients, medicinal value of said ingredients. With a body lotion and face products slated for release later this year, Lord Jones is trying to be a prestige natural skincare brand. One major difference: Lord Jones employs a team of lawyers to ensure they don’t have to tussle with the DEA over a moisturizer.Though cannabis is more mainstream than ever, with 29 states and Washington, D.C., having legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana, the fact that it's still classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drugmeans companies like Lord Jones are racking up legal fees as they attempt to navigate the grey area of selling cannabis-based skincare products. Cannabis has at least 80 different cannabinoids, a group of active compounds that give the plant its medical and psychoactive properties. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) might be the best-known cannabinoid, for creating the “high” effect, but non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) tends to be the star in cannabis-based skincare.
Hemp-derived CBD has been touted in several medical studies as having a myriad of health benefits ranging from treating psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and eczema to minimizing seizures, stress, and insomnia. According to research firm Brightfield Group, the rapidly growing CBD market hit $170 million in 2017 and is projected to reach $1 billion within the next three years.
Capobianco and her husband, Robert Rosenheck, originally co-founded the Los Angeles-based Lord Jones as a producer of artisan cannabis edibles, as a response to the void in the market for upscale edibles with precise dosage. “Nothing was labeled. A cookie would be packaged in a giant plastic bag stapled shut,” says Capobianco. “We saw the opportunity to normalize, to create products made from the best ingredients. We wanted to deliver a consistent experience every time.”
The brand has been very savvy and strategic when it’s come to collaborations. Early in 2017, the company joined forces with Icelandic group Sigur Rós to release Sigurberry High-CBD Gumdrops. The company celebrated by hosting a song bath in Los Angeles where the group performed. They have also done events with Equinox and will open a boutique in the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, where they will offer their own products as well as a curated collection of cannabis items. It will be the first weed-centric retail location in a hotel in this country.
When Lord Jones first got into topicals, they produced a body lotion that had a combination of THC and CBD that could be sold only in medical marijuana dispensaries. Last year they launched a CBD-rich body lotion derived from industrial hemp, hailed by celebrities like Olivia Wilde and Mandy Moore and sold nationwide in specialty shops and via their website. “We were skeptical at first if a hemp-derived CBD extract would be effective without the THC,” says Capobianco. “We are the best guinea pigs we know and we found that it [CBD extract] really worked for our own injuries so we came out with our CBD-only lotion.”
Though marketed to ease sore muscles, Capobianco found that customers were applying the organic cream to rashes, dry patches, prior to Botox to prevent swelling and bruising, and to treat other skin ailments. “We call it grandmother research – documenting our customers’ experience to learn the various benefits.”
Though Capobianco pokes fun at her “grandmother” research, due to current federal regulations she doesn’t have much of a choice, and neither do the top researchers in our country. Robert Dellavalle, M.D., Ph.D., MSPH, Professor of Dermatology and Public Health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health was one of the authors of an April 2017 Journal of the American Academy Dermatology paper, a survey of all the literature on the potential for cannabinoids on humans and animals titled “The role of cannabinoids in dermatology.”
Devalle and his peers have taken a similar approach to Capobianco. “We don’t have rigorous studies so we’ve started a registry of patients to see what they are using and if they think its working.” They don’t have rigorous studies because of the intense government scrutiny. “The problem is the US federal government. We are going to see other countries like Israel and Canada take the lead if we continue to have these regulatory hurdles.”
Danny Zlatnik, an attorney at Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty in Santa Rosa, CA, specializing in California cannabis law doesn’t see those regulatory hurdles going away anytime soon under the current administration. “Jeff Sessions is certainly not a friend of cannabis. As long as he is the Attorney General, drug warriors will have a willing commander should the Trump administration decide to take on cannabis.”
Many of the cannabis-focused brands feel held back by the current environment. “Our business would be in a different league right now if there wasn’t so much grey area,” says Steven Saxton, CEO of Green Gorilla, a Los Angeles-based company producing cannabis oils and lip balms, with face creams and muscle rubs slated for release later this year. “Our business saw 500% growth from the year before but it would have been up 10000% if it wasn’t for all the government regulation.”
So how do cannabis-based skincare companies ensure they are compliant in this uncertain environment? Though regulation varies state by state, "If the company intends to ship nationally their products must not contain any THC and must be made from the parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant that are not considered a controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act 'CSA'—namely, the mature stalks of Cannabis plant," according to Zlatnik. One way to attempt this is by using industrial hemp, which is derived from non-psychoactive varieties of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, whose mature stalks and seed oil are not included in the CSA’s definition of marijuana.
Companies have gone so far to ensure compliance they manufacture THC and CBD products in separate states. Denver Colorado’s CBx Sciences are building an entirely new facility in a different state (the company declined to disclose the location) to manufacture the non-THC products. Both the THC-derived and non-THC-derived products from CBx Sciences include not only CBD but also other cannabis compounds such as CBN and CBG.
“When we developed the topicals for CBx Sciences we wanted to make sure we were creating collaborative medicine,” says Graham Sorkin, Director of Communications for the company. “We saw that some brands were throwing cannabis in whatever they wanted and still getting remarkable results. We knew we could go beyond that.”
Noel Palmer, PhD, Chief Scientist for CBx Sciences, led the development of the product line. In his work, he isolated and utilized non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG and combined them with complementary essential oils, botanical extracts, and terpenes to create the skincare line. The company expects their non-THC line to be shipping nationwide around Q2 of this year.
While most CBD-based skincare products are currently only sold online and in small specialty stores, that is about to change. A Sephora executive who asked to remain anonymous confirmed the beauty giant has plans to launch at least one CBD-based skincare brand this year. Sephora declined to comment for this story, “unfortunately Sephora is not in a position to comment as plans for 2018 are not yet firm,” their publicist stated via email.
Credo Beauty, often referred to as the Sephora of clean beauty, partly because the company’s late founder, Shashi Batra, was a key player in bringing Sephora to the U.S. will start carrying Vertly, their first cannabis skincare brand, online and in their seven stores nationwide by the end of the month. “A new brand we are particularly excited about is Vertly,” says Annie Jackson, Chief Operating Officer of Credo. “They are formulating beautiful lip balms with hemp-derived CBD, which has tremendous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and hemp oil which is loaded with fatty acids that address sun damage. The trick is finding a brand that is able to put this powerful ingredient to work in a modern formula with beautiful packaging. As merchants, we are constantly on the lookout for brands that both formulate beautifully with hemp-derived CBD but also comply with our ingredient standard — which has been a tall order.” Vertly will be launching in all Credo stores and online by the end of January, according to Jackson.
When Vertly co-founder, Claudia Mata, a former fashion editor, moved to San Francisco from New York a year and a half ago with her co-founder husband Zander Gladish, a yogi and real estate executive, she was searching for her next career move. She always had an interest in clean beauty and wellness but her fascination with the mainstreaming of cannabis in California led her to the dispensaries. “When I looked at the topicals I didn’t see anything that physically attracted my eyes nor did any of the products cater to me in terms of texture or scent. Then I looked at the ingredient decks and saw a lot of petroleum. It was disappointing.”
Mata partnered with a French herbalist to help her formulate the balms. Though Vertly originally sold their THC-infused Green Cannabis Infused Lip Butter in dispensaries and delivery services, the company decided to scale back on the THC-based balm to focus on the hemp-derived CBD products. Credo will be carrying the line’s non-THC organic lip and skin balms and lotions, which include a CBD-infused lip balm and a soon-to-be-released CBD-infused post-workout body lotion.
So should retailers like Sephora and Credo worry about a DEA raid if they are carrying cannabis-based products? “Could federal law enforcement authorities raid a retailer that sells CBD-containing products? In theory, yes. But in practice, it is unlikely, as long as companies are mindful of the bounds of federal law,” explains Zlatnik. “If the products do not contain any detectable THC, and the CBD is derived from industrial hemp, not from the resin of Cannabis sativa L. plants, there would be a strong defense to any enforcement action by federal authorities.”
Herb Essentls founders Robert Lund and Ulrika Karlberg, originally from Sweden, now live in New York City, though the products are manufactured in Los Angeles. The skincare brand shares a similar esthetic approach to Vertly, packaging their cannabis-infused skincare line in chic, minimalist packaging. “When we researched all the cannabis skincare brands out there, they all looked and smelled like they were designed for stoners,” Karlberg says. “We wanted to create a cannabis-infused line for everyone – instituting an affluent brand aesthetic.” Since the company's soft launch in January of 2017 the brand went from virtually unknown to being sold in 30 stores and online retailers in the U.S. According to Karlberg, the brand's sales numbers in Q1 and Q2 of 2017 more than tripled and interest from Europe is growing steadily. The company says they are in the later stages of developing more skincare products and evolving the formulas.
Ildi Pekar, a celebrity facialist in New York City known for getting Victoria's Secret Angels show-ready, first discovered CBD when she was researching solutions for her clients’ inflammation. “I started using CBD oil a few years ago. My first few applications were internal use, but through more research I quickly discovered the benefits of using CBD oil topically and what it can do for skin cell health,” says Pekar. Late last year Pekar released her own Tissue Repair Serum Infused with CBD Oil, currently sold through her website.
Whether looking at the research from scientific studies or customer feedback, CBD is clearly a powerful skincare ingredient that can help hydrate, heal, and treat a myriad of skin conditions. But because of the current regulatory environment, brands will have to continue jumping through hoops to get their products to the masses.
Dellavalle says the results of his research were “quite promising on several levels for its anti-inflammatory effects on the skin, treating eczema, psoriasis, and itch.” There was even some indication cannabinoids may stop blood vessel growth in skin cancer, according to Dellavalle. “We are at the infancy of discovering what cannabis can do for our skin but our government is really holding us back from our research. Half of dermatology stems from inflammation. If cannabis is as effective as we think it may be in treating inflammation, it might be effective in treating half of what we see as dermatologists.”
4 months ago
H.R. 1595, better known as the SAFE Banking Act, received a full House floor vote this afternoon, passing the chamber in a bipartisan 321-103 vote. It was the first time that stand-alone cannabis legislation was considered by the full U.S. House of Representatives. The bill aims to remove the cash-only element from state-legal cannabis industries by explicitly giving banking rights to cannabis businesses and related companies. The bill’s primary sponsor Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) said during his opening remarks that the Act’s main purpose is to support “public safety, accountability, and states rights.” Some activists have criticized the effort for not going far enough to reform federal cannabis laws, but many cannabis advocates have applauded the SAFE Banking Act as a logical first step toward repealing the federal prohibition of cannabis. “For the first time ever, a supermajority of the House voted affirmatively to recognize that the legalization and regulation of marijuana is a superior public policy to prohibition and criminalization.” — NORML Political Director Justin Strekal, in a statement Lawmakers from both major political parties rose in support of the bill. “The Financial Services Committee heard testimony in February that these cash-only businesses and their employees have become targets for violent criminals,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who chairs the Financial Services Committee, during the floor’s 40-minute debate. “The SAFE Banking Act addresses this serious problem by providing safe harbor to financial institutions that choose to serve state-regulated cannabis businesses.” H.R. 1595 — which enjoyed more than 200 cosponsors in the House — now moves to the Senate for consideration. The bill is supported by numerous law enforcement and banking organizations, including the National Association of Attorneys General, the American Bankers Association, and the Credit Union National Association. Original Article
4 months ago
Curaleaf has released its Ground Flower Pods on a limited basis in New York, marking the first time a flower product has been made available under the state’s medical cannabis program. The company said that while the pods – designed to be used with a vaporizer – are currently only available on a limited basis, they will be available throughout the state in the coming weeks. Joseph Lusardi, CEO of Curaleaf, called the product “a win” for the state’s medical cannabis patients. “Flower is cannabis in its raw form and therefore the most affordable form of cannabis. We can increase patient access by providing more affordable products and offering more options for patients in the medical program.” – Lusardi, in a statement The Health Department approved the addition of some flower products to the regime last year; however, sales of purely raw forms of cannabis are still not permitted. In the action, the agency also added lozenges, chewable tablets, and topicals to the list of products approved for sale in dispensaries. The Ground Flower Pods must be used with the company’s tabletop vaporizer. Each pod contains 350 milligrams of active cannabinoids in a 20:1 THC to CBD ratio in both Indica and Sativa strains. Curaleaf operates in 12 states with 49 dispensaries, 14 cultivation sites, and 13 processing centers. As of Sept. 17, there were 107,111 registered patients and 2,504 registered practitioners in the state.
4 months ago
Massachusetts will place a four-month ban on all sales of vaping products, the state’s governor announced Tuesday, ushering in the most extensive state-level crackdown on e-cigarettes after a mysterious illness has afflicted hundreds and killed nine people. The move is the latest response from policymakers to growing alarm about the popularity of e-cigarettes among young people and fears that the products, which have yet to be vetted by the Food and Drug Administration, pose unknown health risks. Bans on sales of flavored vaping products took effect this month in New York and Michigan, and the Trump administration said it plans to enact a similar regulation at the federal level. Flavored products have attracted particular scrutiny from policymakers who say they are getting children hooked on nicotine. But Massachusetts would go beyond a flavor ban to also temporarily eliminate tobacco and marijuana e-cigarettes from the market. Officials say the halt will allow time to properly investigate a crisis that’s expanded to 530 cases in 38 states as of last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The purpose of this public health emergency is to temporarily pause all sales of vaping products so that we can work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said in a statement. San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to effectively ban all e-cigarette sales this summer by targeting products that have yet to gain FDA approval. But San Francisco’s policy will not go into effect until early next year, while Massachusetts’s new rules take effect immediately — and on a much larger scale. The state’s new policy drew swift criticism from e-cigarette advocates and companies that have long argued their products help rather than hurt public health by offering smokers an alternative. Some public health officials, too, have promoted vaping as a tool to reduce smoking among adults — notably in England, where vape shops sit on the grounds of some hospitals. Sixty-one potential cases of vaping-linked illness have been reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as of Tuesday, the governor’s office said. Official investigations nationwide have connected many of the illnesses to marijuana products bought off the street, but no one item has been linked to all cases. And some patients have reported vaping nicotine, though health professionals note people may be reluctant to admit to using marijuana. As The Washington Post has previously reported, the illnesses are largely affecting young people: An investigation by state health departments in Illinois and Wisconsin traces the first signs of illness among 53 tracked patients to April. The victims — mostly young men with a median age of 19 — overwhelmingly ended up in the hospital, many under intensive care. A third went on respirators. Patients typically experienced coughing, chest pain or shortness of breath before their health deteriorated to the point that they needed to be hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other reported symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever and weight loss. Many victims have ended up with acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening condition in which fluid builds up in the lungs and prevents the oxygen people’s bodies need to function from circulating in the bloodstream. While the illnesses have given new urgency to long-brewing concerns over vaping, lawmakers explaining new e-cigarette restrictions in other states have focused on the broader threat of teen addiction. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced her state’s flavored e-cigarette ban Sept. 4 as state health officials declared youth vaping a public health emergency, highlighting research on nicotine’s harm to developing brains and on substances in vaping products with unclear long-term health effects. Michigan’s health department also cited evidence that youth who use e-cigarettes are more prone to take up smoking, which most experts believe to be more dangerous than vaping products. A 2018 government-funded study found that the percentage of U.S. high school seniors who report vaping nicotine within the past month doubled over just a year, sparking a new wave of alarm that e-cigarettes are reversing decades of decreasing youth tobacco use. E-cigarette use among teens has risen faster than any product tracked in the survey’s 40-plus years of existence, researchers say. Preliminary results from this year’s version of the National Institutes of Health-funded study indicated another jump in student vaping, and researchers expressed particular concern over their finding that about 1 in 9 teens vapes nicotine near-daily. Massachusetts is no exception when it comes to vaping’s popularity among young people. More than 40 percent of the state’s youth reported trying e-cigarettes in 2017, and 1 in 5 said they used the products regularly, according to the governor’s office. High school students’ usage rates are six times as high as adults', the office said. While Massachusetts officials focused Tuesday on a need to investigate illnesses, they said that they, too, are concerned about youth vaping. “Vaping products are marketed and sold in nearly 8,000 flavors that make them easier to use and more appealing to youth,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a statement. “Today’s actions include a ban on flavored products, inclusive of mint and menthol, which we know are widely used by young people.” The Massachusetts governor’s office seemed to anticipate concerns about smoking alternatives Tuesday, saying it will devote more resources to programs that encourage people to quit smoking and increase the capacity of the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline. Opponents still blasted the move as counterproductive. Austin Finan, a spokesman for leading e-cigarette manufacturer Juul, warned Tuesday that bans on the sale of vaping products will encourage a black market of products with “unknown ingredients under unknown manufacturing standards.” He added that bans will affect adult smokers’ ability to quit and push former smokers back to old habits. Gregory Conley, president of the nonprofit American Vaping Association, called Massachusetts’s halt on sales of nicotine vaping products “absolutely absurd,” emphasizing evidence that links the vaping-related illnesses to illegal and contaminated THC cartridges. “We agree with the FDA — if you don’t want to die or end up in the hospital, stop vaping illicit marijuana oils,” he said. The tough new regulations also dismayed small-businesses owners facing steep losses. Jonathan Lau, who runs two vape stores in Brighton, Mass., said he and other vape shop owners — part of the retail industry’s fastest-growing segment over the past decade — were “blindsided” by the governor’s announcement. With vaping products making up close to 90 percent of his shops’ sales, Lau said, he will probably have to close down. Employees have been told to show up for work Wednesday, but Lau does not think his stores will open. “Basically, it’s a death sentence for small businesses in the vape industry,” he said. Officials around the country have warned people to stop using e-cigarettes altogether while investigators try to get to the bottom of the illnesses and deaths. An executive order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) last week directed the state’s Department of Public Health to launch a $20 million public awareness campaign about the risks of vaping both nicotine and cannabis substances. California health officials on Tuesday also joined the calls for consumers to stop vaping while the cause of vaping-linked illnesses remains unclear. Other states are signaling interest in following Michigan, New York and now Massachusetts’s lead in taking a tougher stance on e-cigarettes. “We’re seeing more and more states exploring what emergency powers they have,” said Michael Seilback, assistant vice president for state public policy at the American Lung Association. Seilback would not express an opinion on Massachusetts’s choice to suspend all vaping sales, telling The Post only that states are being “forced to make hard decisions” and emphasizing his group’s support for the bans on flavored vaping products that other places have adopted. He’s eager to see the Trump administration’s proposed ban on flavored vaping sales come to fruition. “We think that strong federal action would prevent a piecemeal approach where different jurisdictions are looking at these products differently,” he said. Original article
5 months ago
There is something special happening in Northern California’s cannabis community. In one of the most unique growing regions in the world, farmers have been living off the land and growing this country’s cannabis for decades. Now, this inherently sustainable, craft cannabis movement is rising to the forefront of California and the United State’s cannabis industry, setting the landscape that promises to set the standard of sustainable, ethical, and natural agricultural practices. Cannabis is rooted deep in human culture: its earliest written reference stems from Western China about 500BC. Traditionally grown outdoors in the lush environment where the plant naturally thrives, growing indoors is a relatively new, energy intensive method of cultivation. As Michael Steinmetz, CEO of FlowKana, states: “Indoor is simply a relic of prohibition and a cultural phenomenon that emerges when farmers have to go into hiding to protect their livelihoods while they cultivate this amazing plant. Indoor cultivation produces 25 times more CO2 than outdoor grows, and are 70 times more energy intensive than commercial office buildings. To produce just one kilo of cannabis indoors is equivalent to driving across the country five times!” Even though outdoor grows are clearly more energy efficient, the divide between sustainably cultivating cannabis in California’s ubiquitous Emerald Triangle and industrial farming practices (think massive, industrial indoor grows, sucking energy and water out of the desert in Southern California) is growing ever deeper. This is at odds with consumer behavior: trends are showing that consumers want to invest in sustainable, authentic, and local businesses, leading us to question whether hefty investments in these desert grows harkens the impending doom this burgeoning industry. Why go vast and vacuous when consumers crave niche and nostalgia? The California cannabis industry is like no other. Though there’s millennia of history behind the plant, the process, and the people whose livelihoods depend on it, the corporatization of cannabis is still very much in its infancy. This is equally thrilling and daunting. There’s promise and potential to correct social stigmas and injustices, to negate environmentally harmful agriculture practices, and to promote a plant with universal healing qualities. There’s also ample opportunity for big companies to elbow in: corporations are oozing in, focused on the bottom line with little regard for honoring the plant’s history, purpose, and potential. Surprising no one, the California cannabis industry is picking up steam to become a race to the quickest buck, abandoning the rich history, potent healing potential and complex social realities of the plant to dry up in the desert dust. It is time to get back to the roots of this industry. I had the privilege of spending a hot August day with the Humboldt County Grower’s Alliance (HCGA). My goal was to absorb all that Humboldt County and its cannabis community had to offer — to talk to farmers, to smell their flowering plants, to indulge in the abundance of natural beauty that is their every day. As it goes, we started the day at the HCGA office in Eureka. Walking out the offices’ white wooden door, we readied ourselves to tour cannabis country. Driving down the 101 past Ferndale, we made our way towards the coast on Mattole road. There, we were treated to some of the most spectacular views along the Lost Trails of the Pacific Ocean. It felt like we had been transported to another world. From there, we cut back inland towards Petrolia. The grandeur of the Mattole Valley became more apparent with every sharp turn and steep hill we climbed in the Subaru. This valley has been the epicenter of California’s cannabis industry since it’s community fled north from San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s to live off the land. It was incredible to witness it for the first time with my own eyes. “This wasn’t a profiteering machine, it was getting back to the land, being self sufficient, and growing some cannabis to help promote and fund a vision of community.” — Terra Carter, Executive Director of HCGA says. During one of the loudest and most volatile times in this country’s history, Humboldt County cannabis flourished in a community built on a back-to-the-earth ethos. Cannabis, among seasonal vegetables, herbs, and animals provided these communities and families the resources to live in such remote locations. What transpired over the next few decades in this valley sounds like it was ripped from a summer blockbuster. With the ineptly named War on Drugs came military aircraft humming over the valley. The US government flew two U2s over Humboldt to build their battle plan against farmers. This is the same spy plane they flew over the USSR. Helicopters buzzed through the valley searching for plants. Sometimes, they came so low that their noise and resulting vibrations would break windows and knock down houses. Humboldt was like a war zone, complete with a few farmers holding their ground by gun. Others hid in the woods or fled from their property with their families- some temporarily, and others permanently. As the raids continued farmers developed innovative ways to keep their community and livelihoods going: some started to grow their plants on platforms high in the trees, others constantly scanned the skies, ready to pull their plants back from the fields and under the cover of the forest at a moment’s notice. As we drove deeper into the valley, I began to see the lengths to which farmers went to set their roots, both familial and agricultural, as far out of reach as possible. Seclusion protected these families from the National Guard and from the bad players in the area taking plants, money, and whatever else they fancied by force. Though I met with people who were ostensibly breaking the law, I did not get the sense I was surrounded by criminals — because I wasn’t. Humboldt (like the rest of California, the USA, and the world) definitely has had their fair share of criminals in the industry, but for the most part this is a community of outlaws. They were never criminals. They simply did not have the legal infrastructure in place to run their business. It’s important to remember this distinction, especially since every person in the cannabis industry today is a federal outlaw. After driving for miles on dirt roads wrapped tightly around the mountain, we came across a signless intersection. We turned left up a steep one-lane road that we followed for a mile. At the peak we found cleared land and a single structure atop. “Welcome to DewPoint,” crowed the fearless, smiling Andelain. She and her husband are second and third generation farmers. They grew up overlooking the Mattole Valley and now live on a sustainable mountain property they built themselves. Nestled amid the mountains for a decade, their property relies entirely on solar energy for all of their electrical needs. Andelain likes to boast that her cannabis is fully sun-grown. Meaning, not only do they grow without any artificial lights, but even the water irrigation pump is powered by the sun. Andelain and her husband remember this mountain as a thriving community since their earliest days in the area. “It wasn’t just your parents raising you, but your neighbors, and the people at the school and fire department. This was the community our parents started building with their cannabis businesses, and the one we continue to invest in today.”- Andelain During the years of quasi warfare in the Mattole Valley, Andelain remembers the fear she felt helping in her family’s garden, where they grew vegetables, fruits, and cannabis. “My earliest memory was being in the garden and hearing the ‘copter coming down the valley and my dad running through the garden thinking ‘That’s weird I never heard my dad move like that’. I remember my dads arm swooping around my body and pulling me up and running into the bushes with his hand around my mouth. Men in armor with rifles repelled down, cut our plants, and flew away. After that, my family moved into town. We lost everything we had on that mountain” Now, Andelain has the opportunity to carry out her life’s long purpose and passion: to bring high quality medicine and peace to those who need it, legally. Pure as her mission is, it is accompanied with bureaucratic side effects. Unsurprisingly, California has some of the most extensive environmental laws in the country. To touch the land costs thousands of dollars in permitting and licensing. This is for good reason. California produces 17% of the country’s food and is constantly on the verge of drought. A state that is already reeling from the planet’s warming and is responsible for feeding nearly 1/5 of the country, it’s a sobering reality to consider placing an added burden on a state that’s already stretched thin on agricultural resources. Thankfully, California is taking some small but meaningful steps to abate this disaster. “Regulation has now given us the opportunity to be the most sustainably grown agriculture product in the world” says Carver. Most farms we saw in Humboldt have set up rain capture and storage containers to have water available throughout the dry months without needing to suck it out of aquifers. The special sauce of Humboldt County Cannabis that can’t be replicated or matched is it’s heritage. This growing region not only sprouted on off-the-grid farms- where all energy had to be produced on site and trash had to be at a minimum, with the closest garbage drop is sometimes 45 minutes away. But, it has also survived and evolved through military raids and environmentally disastrous moments. Humboldt has suffered. Their Redwood forests were indiscriminately leveled by industrial logging companies, while their rivers were overfished by commercial fishing companies. The community that lived off these lands did not stand for it. Several organizations, inside and outside the cannabis industry, banded together to protest these industries and their actions- one of which being the infamous 738-day tree-sit by Julia Butterfly. These industries decimated the environment- pushing the river’s salmon population close to extinction and polluting its waters with industrial runoff. After years of fighting for and implementing corrective policies and regulations, we were able to take a break in the heat of the day to go swimming in the now clear, crisp, and cool Mattole river. While the river and surrounding environment is healing itself, so to speak, this time around, there are no guarantees that nature can continually bounce back from the impact of big industry. I could see it in the way everyone talked about being able to swim in the river, that being able to dunk our heads into its crisp water, is a luxury that should never be taken for granted. To me, it was a sign that with dedicated advocates, smart policy, and responsible farming and business practices, supporting a cannabis industry in the region without impacting the environment is possible. With the California cannabis industry blooming in a world where the Amazon is burning, communities experience systemic water shortages, and corporations prioritize profit over people, there has never been a time where being an educated and active consumer is more important. Being a conscious consumer does make a difference: we are sowing the seeds from which the cannabis industry will continue to grow.