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Keeping the Cannabis Industry Green: Second Cannabis Sustainability Symposium Tuesday

by Amanda Pampuro


How many gallons of water does it take to grow a joint? How many watts of electricity? How many man-hours go into the cultivation, trimming, and processing?

If you’re a concerned consumer about the way your food is grown and how much the farmers were paid for it, why would you tune out when you toke up?

That is the reason d’etre behind the Cannabis Certification Council (CCC), which is hosting the second annual Cannabis Sustainability Symposium from Oct. 17 to 18 at the Embassy Suites Denver.

“One of our biggest hurdles is educating, telling people who come into the shop what can be recycled — just like anything else, it can be washed off and put in the recycle bin,” said Amy Andrle, founder of L’Eagle Dispensary and a CCC board member. “It’s about getting people asking what can be recycled? What can be composted?”

In addition to talks from cannabis industry stakeholders, the conference will feature discussions from environmental science leaders, including Derek Smith, founder and executive director of the Resource Innovation Institute, Shelley Peterson, VP of lighting technologies at Urban-Gro, and Dr. Elizabeth A. Bennett, director of the political economy program at Lewis & Clark College.

The agenda includes panel discussions on sustainable packaging and waste diversion as well as energy management and the need to implement industry-wide standards.

“A little bit of investment on the side of the business can have a big impact to lessen your footprint,” Andrle said. “As far as low hanging fruit go, something very easy to implement is to look at waste management (and consider) what can you do to offset what you’re sending to the landfill.”

According to a press release, the event was planned “with in-kind support from Denver Environmental Health and sustaining sponsorship from Denver Relief Consulting.”

For Andrle, the much-touted buzzword, “sustainability,” simply means asking, “How are we managing our resources? As a business owner, I want to make sure I’m not spending more than I need to and that I’m not using any more than I need to. The other buzzword everyone is using is corporate social responsibilities.”

Tickets and agenda are available at

Go Energy Chocolate Beans by 1906

Who doesn’t need a little boost every now and then? These bite-sized balls are just the thing when you need a little pick me up. Each chocolate covered coffee bean is dosed with a pleasant mix of five milligrams THC and five milligrams CBD, incorporating the benefits of both cannabinoids with a slight boost of caffeine. The light dosage means you can dial it for the exact experience you want, and the uplifting effect of the combination is great for the start of a busy day. I’ve found that five milligrams is just about the right amount of THC to keep me energized and happy without being stoned and unfocused, so one of these is all I really need. But if you want to crank it up further, these are tasty enough that you won’t mind having a few more. There’s very little hash taste, just smooth chocolate and the slight grittiness of the coffee bean. If you’re not a fan of coffee these might not be for you, but if you’re looking to add some pep to your day, look no further.

Sweet Sweet Distillate Cartridge 500mg by Craft Panacea

Craft really know what they are doing when it comes to concentrates. These pens are sleek, flavorful and easy to use. The battery is sturdy and kept its charge for several days before I needed to recharge it. The distillate chamber looks super clean, golden and clear. The full spectrum distillate in the cartridge contains 100 percent cannabis-derived terpenes, which is totally obvious because the vapor smells a lot like the sweet, sweet smell of our good friend Mary Jane. So if you are looking for a discreet, non-marijuana smelling vape pen, this is not the pen for you. But if you want a flavorful and fragrant vaping experience, then you need to pick one of these up.

Red Licorice Bites (Microdosed) by incredibles

Incredibles has been killing the chocolate game for a while, now they are doing the same with their gummies. Each flavor is better than the last. These red licorice bites are so delicious it was truly hard to not eat the whole box in one sitting. If you love red licorice as much as I do, I would advise you to also grab some Red Vines to eat after you take your preferred dose of these gummies, because you will definitely want to eat more. The good news on that front is that they are microdosed; so even though I ate three gummies, I only consumed 15 milligrams. The effects kicked in after about 25 minutes, I was feeling happy and relaxed. I was able to drift off to sleep relatively easily, which is not a minor victory for me, and I slept through the night like a champ. I will definitely be buying these regularly. They come in 100-milligram packs for adult-use consumers and 300-milligram packs for medical consumers. Check them out at

Josh Blue’s Blue Dream Cherry Sucker by Mountain High Suckers

Josh Blue is Colorado’s comedy superstar. The season four winner of Last Comic Standing, the prolific comic has made appearances all over the place, from Mind of Mencia to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He’s also a resident of Colorado with a well-documented fondness for weed, so it only seems natural that Blue would lend his celebrity status to a cannabis product sold in the state where he resides. Mountain High Suckers’ line of Josh Blue’s Dream suckers sticks with the play on words, infusing every lollipop with ethanol-extracted Blue Dream. There are three flavors available, cherry, watermelon and blueberry, and I opted to give the first option a try. Though a little on the cough syrupy side with slight undertones of hash, the suckers are great to  absentmindedly slurp throughout an afternoon. I popped one in at the end of a day at the office and was nicely toasted by the time I got home, feeling energized and slightly silly, which is what I would imagine Blue would want.

Zootblast 10mg Energy Shot by Zoots

Zoots brownie bites are so good I wanted to try something else in their product line. Their 10-milligram energy shot was a natural choice. The flavor is intense, like other energy shots you’ve tried. Derived from yerba mate and guarana, each bottle contains as much caffeine as a cup of espresso, about 70 milligrams. This drink also contains lemon balm that is said to maintain energy levels and mental clarity. The package recommends you only consume half of the shot but I drank the whole thing. This, in hindsight, was a bad choice on my part. Effects kicked in about 45 minutes after I drank the shot, a little longer than usual for me but not by too much. The energy effects were great, I felt energized and alert. That lasted for a couple of hours, but then the THC took over and I fell asleep — hard. I proceeded to wake up every 30 minutes or so in a panic. I am hesitant to blame the drink for this though, since I hadn’t gotten much rest the night before. I would  definitely buy Zootblast again, but next time I will stick to the recommendation and only drink half.

Mixed Berry Fruit Snacks by Sweet Grass

Flavored using only natural ingredients, these gummies won’t smack you in the face with a flavor that screams, “THIS IS WHAT FRUIT TASTES LIKE!” Rather, these berry gummies have a more subtle, almost earthy taste. They’re not overly sweet in order to mask an overwhelming hash taste, just a subdued taste of berry in a chewy, manageable bite. At just five milligrams per gummy, there’s not a lot of hash taste for the natural flavoring to overcome. The light dosage might be off -putting for some veteran edible eaters, but it’s great for the inexperienced or light weights like myself, offering an easily scalable experience. I found one was enough to get me energized and uplifted without feeling noticeably stoned, with full effects taking hold in about an hour and a half. These are a good option for those trying to take it slow, those who just want a slight pick me up during the day without becoming impaired, or those who want to avoid the sometimes-overwhelming taste of artificial flavoring agents.

From a Bonger’s Perspective: The 34th Colorado Invitational Bong-a-Thon

photos and article by Ben Owens


There’s a positive vibration that you can feel throughout your entire body when you are truly excited about something. It finds its way from your head to your toes, creeps into your thoughts, invades your workspace, and often permeates the moments before with joyful anticipation. As someone who has always preferred bongs to bowls, this is how the week leading up to the 34th Invitational Bong-A-Thon felt.

As I arrived Friday morning to Hummingbird Ranch, I thought I might be in the wrong place. I’d never been here for Sonic Bloom, and the only visible sign of civilization was a small fifth wheel camper parked up the road. No signs. No people. Just a camper. Of course, the property unveils itself the second you pass through the security checkpoint, and continues to unfold for what seems like miles. As I was camping with longtime bongers “Shady Norm” and “Raspy,” I was directed to the staff camp, which was quickly filling up with longtime Bong-A-Thon patrons like Camp Texas, as well as the bands, BAT Committee members, and the sponsors that make Bong-a-Thon a reality.

Bong-a-Thon veteran, Shawn Honaker, mid-competition – photo by Ben Owens

After setting up a small addition to the camp — a hammock, a few tents, and a 10×10 American Flag EZ Up—I joined Raspy, Norm and the crew in setting up, firing up the bongs, and enjoying a few dabs as invited guests began building their own camps. Large white canopy tents and a stage were being hoisted up in the  main area, while patrons arrived in sedans, vans, campers and even single-wheeled “hoverboards”. Outfits like “Camp Shenanigans” and “Camp 13,” staples of Bong-a-Thon, were among the larger and more recognizable camps.

As arrivals slowed down, Shady Norm’s smoked meat was ready for a tester, and a lucky few are able to sample what can only be described as the best aspects of brisket, rib-eye and beef jerky combined in one savory slab. This meat would be served in a variety of preparations at Eat-n-Out, the food truck that satiated the Bong-a-Thon camp all weekend. While attendees enjoyed the food truck and the music kicked off on the main stage, VIPs, Golden Tickets, and band members were offered the opportunity to smoke, dab and chat in the forested VIP area. As campers swapped bowls and bongs, some enjoyed homemade edibles and cannabis delights while others tucked away into hammocks and tents in preparation for a long day of competition on Saturday.

Saturday morning came with the smell of weed, bacon, eggs and more wafting through the ranch as campers drearily made their way towards porta-potties, grills and showers. Some campers like the two guys in the gorilla and banana suits hunted for Bong-a-Thon “Easter eggs” hidden throughout the property—specially made marbles that could be redeemed for prizes. Meanwhile, the merchandise booth and stage began attracting lines hours before opening around 11 a.m., while contestants anxiously waited entry to the coveted Bong-a-Thon events, including the Individual and Team Bong-a-Thon competitions. I was lucky enough to score a spot with my team in the Relay Bong-A-Thon, which challenges seven people to smoke seven grams of cannabis as fast as possible. 

Custom Bong-a-Thon awards, photo by Ben Owens

But the main event is the Individual Competition, with reigning champions like Shawn Honaker, Mark Rice, Shady Norm, and Bear Coronado competing among 27 total entrants to take down a quarter ounce. Bear Coronado set yet another record this year with a final time of 4:06. They aren’t kidding when they say professional smokers come out to compete. Bear is also a member of the Collector Buds professional smoking team, the only sponsored relay team at the event.

After the other competitions like the Open Invitational and Dab Out were completed, musical guests took the stage and a wet t-shirt contest was held with the 420 Nurses and one brave man. Nearby, a bong and rig setup by Pukinbeagle Glass was frozen in a slab of ice, available for all to use. It was the subject of many photos, snaps and dabs before eventually being  melted out on Sunday. Around 11 p.m. the announcements and awards began, as well as the highly anticipated raffle. As the winners for each event are crowned and raffle tickets given out, the camp had no intentions of settling down for the last night.

Camp shows and shenanigans were commonplace after the raffle completed, with attendees venturing throughout the camp to explore geodesic climbing domes, a nearby river, and up towards the far end of the campsite, a laser light show by DJ Diablo that could have been mistaken for a festival or concert. The entire crew at Bong-a-Thon from the staff to the first year attendees really go out of their way to contribute to the atmosphere and experience. As Sunday morning lazily rolled in, with many campers still awake and enjoying the last moments of this truly sensational event, tents began to come down and campers began to make their departure, turning back for last glimpses and photos at the gate — just enough time to take a few final bong hits before beginning the journey home.

Bong-a-Thon organizer, Chris Jetter, announces the winners – photo by Ben Owens

To really understand what Bong-a-Thon is, you need to attend, to truly be there in the moment with your fellow ‘bongers.’ As someone who’s watched every Youtube video and documentary on Bong-a-Thon, read all of the articles, and smoked with many of the people involved prior to going, I can tell you that the experience is incomparable to any written, filmed or otherwise conveyed story of the experience. If you’re still reading, mark your calendars for next year and make sure you grab an invitation — you won’t be disappointed. See you there. ♦

Main Event Results:

Individual Bong-A-Thon (7 Grams, 1 Person):

  1. Bear Coronado 4:06 min. “Macho Man Randy Savage Bong Hit”
  2. Matt Servold 4:33 “Dr. Puffer”
  3. Sammie Thatcher 5:20


“Fastest Gram”:

Winner: David Pionke 49.91 sec.


Team Bongathon (Five Person Hookah w/One Ounce of Power Papaya):

Winner: Studio420 1:55 min.

    Marty, Cody, Shaun, Red, Jeff & Cruz


Relay Bong-a-Thon (7 Grams, 7 People):

Winner: Team In-N-Out Hemp 6:49 min

    Ric, Jesse, Jamie, Dan, Troy, Stephen & Luke


Dab Out (.1g dabs even 60 seconds until you “dab out”):

Winner: John Bottoms with 6 Dabs.


Wet T-Shirt Contest:

Winner: Marisa

Sesh in the Colors of Fall

by Maggie Jay

Watching summer leave and autumn arrive is such a great sight. Enjoying the foliage while smoking some foliage of your own is an incredible experience. There are places all over the U.S. that boast stunning fall colors, making for the perfect smoke sesh scene.

I’ll admit, I spark up anytime I feel inspired in nature, but I must point out that it is still illegal to consume cannabis on public land and even more illegal to do so on federal land. Maybe edibles are best for these places.

Here are some of the most beautiful places to enjoy fall in a few of the adult-use states here in the U.S.


View from Sheep Hill to Mt. Greylock Williamstown Massachusetts Photo by Len Radin

Sheep Hill. Williamstown, Massachusetts

Dairy farm, sheep farm, private ski area. Sheep Hill has been an array of things. Today, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation runs and maintains Sheep Hill. The foundation has opened Sheep Hill, and many of its buildings, to the public. It sits on 50 acres of land and is open year-round. From atop the hill, you get an awe-inspiring view of the Greylock Range. Enjoy the variety of color Massachusetts has to offer in the fall. And, since this is not federally owned land, seshing here should be pretty safe. The land is open daily from dawn until dusk, and is available for hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bird watching and more. On your way out, be sure to visit the nearby town of North Adams, named number one most stoned town in Massachusetts by (Address: 671 Cold Spring Road Williamstown, MA 01267)


Table Rock at Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

Grafton Notch State Park. Bethel, Maine

Maine is famous for its fall foliage. There’s even an official website dedicated to the yearly wonder. This northeastern state legalized recreational marijuana last year, so this will be the first autumn of legal weed. Celebrate it at Grafton Notch State Park, listed on Travel and Leisure as one of the top places to see fall foliage in Maine. Frolic through over 3,000 acres of public land while taking in the array of color. Hiking trails are abundant and vary in difficulty. There are even some backcountry trails on the land. Being a state park means that the most you’ll be facing if caught smoking here would be a fine. Since there is so much space at this park, there are plenty of places to be alone. Just be aware of your surroundings when firing up. Look for cannabis friendly lodging and great restaurants up the road in Bethel.


Trees on South Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

The Showcase Trail at Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

The West Coast doesn’t fall short on the jaw-dropping colors. Just inland of the Oregon coast, much of the state is deciduous forest. The Showcase Trail, inside Silver Falls State Park, is a great intermediate hike. You may even be able to sneak in an autumn sesh on this over eight-mile trail. Throughout the hike you will view 10 waterfalls, some over 100 feet tall. Enjoy the changing leaves of the vine maple and red alder as you puff on some dank during this challenging hike.


Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Arnold, California

Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Arnold, California

Delight in the pinks, yellows and oranges floating against the backdrop of the blue sky while strolling through the cool autumn air in Northern California. Boasting trees over 33 feet in diameter, this is a must-see if you are visiting the NorCal area. For one of the best scenic hikes, take the Lava Bluffs Trail. Sesh to a stunning view of the North Fork of the river. Before heading to the car, be sure to visit the Pioneer Cabin tree. It’s big enough for you and a few friends to walk through together. What a trip!

There’s fall color in every state. Take a day and explore yours! Maybe you’ll find your new favorite sesh spot.

I Survived ARISE Music Festival

by Evan Hundhausen


The Arise Music Festival is in its fifth year. Held at the Sunrise Ranch conference and retreat center at the base of foothills in Loveland, Arise is an independent three-day music, yoga and co-creative camping festival featuring activism, musical artists, provocative films, dynamic speakers, art installations, yoga classes, workshops, performance art, and even an art gallery.


Solutions Village Tee-Pees set up near camping area.


I arrived on a Friday in an attempt to avoid the Thursday night (The Early Camping Upgrade) downpour. I played around with the poles on my $34.99 Walmart dome tent before realizing this might just be a two-man job. Since I showed up by myself,  meeting a friend later, I asked a neighbor if he could help me. He was nice enough to give me a hand and we got my tent upright when the worst rainstorm all weekend started.

“You’ll need to weigh it down,” said Rick, the nice man who helped me set up my tent, so I instinctively laid down inside of it with my arms and legs spread like “The Vitruvian Man” as the storm raged outside. A tent behind mine was flung into a ditch as the wind whipped. 

After that experience, I was ready to check out what Arise was all about.  It was my first time and I was way f-ing curious!



The NoCo Hemp Village

This year you could visit the NoCo Hemp Village sponsored by the NoCo Hemp Expo.

The village included hemp companies like, Colorado Hemp Company, Tree Free Hemp, EnerHealth, Pure Hemp Botanicals, H.O.P.E. Manufacturing, Nature’s Root, Straight Hemp, The Anti-Soap, Left Hand Hemp, and Freida Farms.

Zane Kunau from Freida Farms was there selling gear, like a grinder made from hemp and his CBD salves, oils, and isolates. 

I asked Zane how he handled the rainstorm on Friday, which dampened the festival just a bit.

“The rain storm came in like a thunder of stallions,” he said.  “Almost took our tents away.  We had to step on all our tents.  Then the lightning started. They told us we had to go to our cars. We had to pack up and go. It was havoc and as quick as it came, it went.  Thirty minutes later we were back out. Looked like a tornado hit our stuff though, for real!  Our stuff was just all over.”


Willow tree art installation


The art of Android Jones and Phil Lewis were highlighted at the festival’s official entrance. Two intimidating, colorful towers covered in their art stood outside the main camping and parking area. Android Jones had some of his digital art videos playing.

Inside the festival there were tents with crafts, art prints and fashionable clothing to check out. Some featured $100 tapestries of original art, which was one of the hipper items I saw for sale.

Vincent Gordon and his tent caught my eye. A local “Pop” artist, his work is reminiscent of famous television cartoons with grotesque imagery, similar to that of artist R. Crumb.

There were a few great exhibits that can only be seen to be believed, such as a giant tree with stringy fabric falling from the top creating a sort of maze for attendees to walk through.

Many artists were out on the grass painting murals and on canvases with their easels.  They painted through the night, inspired by the musical acts. This was a really interesting part of the festival and way fun to observe.

There was also a large “art gallery” with prints and paintings for sale, creating a fun museum to walk through.



Beats Antique, Lettuce, Atmosphere and Ani DiFranco were just some of the highlights of this year’s musical acts. Performances started around noon and ended at 2 a.m. so you could get some rest for the next day.

Brasstracks was a personal highlight — a funky act made up of Ivan Jackson and Conor Rayne. Ivan mixed electronic music on a laptop and played trumpet while Conor played live on a drum set.

Dirtwire was another performance I enjoyed. Described as a “rebirth of Americana music,” the band uses traditional instruments, world percussion and electronic beats, as well as more eclectic instruments like the thumb piano, mouth harp, and the saz.

Tipper played on the Main Stage Saturday night, accompanied by the digital videos of Android Jones. Otherwise, you could be dazzled by fire dancers.

Radio DJ Buddha Bomb, who you can hear regularly on KGNU 88.5 FM, played at all five Arise Music Festivals over the years, and about this year’s Arise he said, “It was the most scintillating and the most grounded Arise festival yet.”


The StarWater Stage

The StarWater Stage and tent was one of the best places to go during the deluge. It was an extravagant setup with a cozy cafe/coffee shop offering coffee, mate tea and other drinks, as well as a large music stage with constant musical acts and performances next door. During the first night I got some broth in a packet with hot water and drank it in a paper coffee cup. It was a great thing to have on the cold and rainy first night. 


For the kids

The Rainbow Lightning Children’s Village entertained kids all day long with music and kid friendly entertainment. 

Taylor Martin had a vision and saw a need for a children’s village at festivals like Arise.

Rob Treaphort, Taylor’s boyfriend and partner, does the technical side at Rainbow Lightning, setting up big speakers and a stage where all kinds of musical acts perform strictly to entertain the kids. Rob is also a conscious DJ and producer, and played at the StarWater Stage Tent during the weekend.

“Parents were getting all fucked up and losing their kids and there was no place for any of the kids to go,” Rob explained to me. “We’re here as a place for parents to interact with their kids in a festival type setting.”

In the future, the Rainbow Lightening Children’s Village will also be at the Shamanic Boom in Wyoming, the Jumpsuit Family Gathering and Unify Fest in New Mexico.


Hemptealicious set up in the NoCo Hemp Village

Yoga Sanctuary

The biggest and most popular tent by far was the Yoga Sanctuary. Every day you could see the crowd that formed up on the hill from the farthest reaches of the Arise camps. 

Hundreds of people crowded the tent, all performing yoga poses led by world-renowned yoga instructors. 

One of the most interesting exercises was a laughing exercise in which participants lay down resting their head on someone else’s belly. When you feel the other person laughing, their twitching stomach muscles — let’s just say it was contagious!



Throughout the festival, world thought leaders, artists and activists discussed a wide range of topics in the Big Sunrise Dome, which is Sunrise Ranch’s spacious, air-conditioned, dome theater. The dome also featured music, storytelling sessions and film


Good eats

The food trucks at Arise were extra special, providing all sorts of dishes from vegan dishes to Greek gyros to fried raviolis. There was nothing better than getting a New York style pizza slice with pepperoni at 2 a.m. I bought a homemade organic lemon, lavender and ginger popsicle. Try to imagine a refreshing ice cold dessert like that in your mouth on a hot day at Arise.


Mural by Artist @mpek36

Finding your friends

On Saturday I caught up with friend and artist Sofia Bogdanovich. She camped near the RV site and we met her nice neighbors from Omaha who let us sit under their awning as it started to rain. 

Under the awning we pulled out her canvases and started collaborating on a painting. When the rain finally cleared up there was a double rainbow across the cliffs of Sunrise Ranch.


The smell of patchouli and porta-potties

It seemed like every time I had to “go,” a truck drove up and started cleaning the portable bathrooms. They did a thorough job sanitizing them and getting rid of any foul smells. 

There was also a shower area where you could pay for a shower like you were at a bathhouse. For VIPs, there was a private shower, which was next to a small sauna, hot tub and a freezing swimming pool that was perfect for cooling off during the hot days or between rainstorms.


If you go next year

It’s easy to get sore walking around Arise, so make sure you’re prepared for some meandering. Make sure you’re prepared for temperamental Colorado weather, and be prepared to share the festival with revelers of all ages.

There are a lot of couples getting romantic, no doubt, but there are lots of single people, and you should not shy away from the festival  because you don’t have a date.  People are friendly when you talk to them and you can have plenty of fun there. 

Thievery Corporation has been announced as next year’s headliners, so remember to buy your tickets early, plus early birds will get them on the cheap. 

To learn all about the Arise Music Festival, check out 





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