Lawsuits Challenge Feds on Cannabis

A lawsuit that could have had a potential far-reaching impact on federal cannabis enforcement has been dismissed by a federal judge. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Manhattan, sought an injunction to stop the federal government from enforcing cannabis’ Schedule I status, naming Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department and the DEA as defendants. Serving as plaintiffs in the case were a handful of medical cannabis patients, including a former NFL player, a veteran of the war in Iraq and 12-year-old Alexis Bortell, who moved to Colorado in order to access life-saving cannabis medicine. Bortell was profiled by THC in April of last year, prior to the filing of the lawsuit.
Central to that lawsuit was the argument that cannabis’ status as a Schedule I controlled substance, designating it as without medical application and having a high risk of abuse, defies the current medical understanding of the plant and was originally motivated by political rather than factual reasoning. During opening arguments on February 14, government attorneys argued that there exists a legal procedure to petition the DEA for rescheduling substances under the CSA, and that this lawsuit represents a violation of this procedure. Judge Alvin K. Hillerstein sided with federal attorneys, ruling that the plaintiffs had not exhausted the available avenues to have cannabis rescheduled prior to filing the lawsuit. Previous attempts at petitioning the DEA for a rescheduling made by other cannabis supporters have all failed.
The plaintiffs are planning to appeal the decision, according to a statement from attorney Michael Hiller.
In a turn of coincidence, on February 15 in San Francisco, oral arguments were made in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as part of another lawsuit of potential significance to cannabis users across the country. The lawsuit is challenging a 2016 decision by the Drug Enforcement Administration to create a controlled substances code for “Marihuana Extract”, a Schedule I controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The DEA decision described any “extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis” under this new categorization, effectively shaded in the legal gray area of hemp-derived CBD extracts being sold nation wide.
The oral arguments earlier this month gave plaintiff attorney Robert Hoban his first opportunity to directly argue the case, brought on behalf of the Hemp Industries Association and a hemp-CBD business, before federal judges, stressing that the 2014 Farm Bill had allowed federally legal hemp crops and therefore federally legal hemp extracts.
A group of 28 Congress members, consisting of 22 Democrats and eight Republicans, filed a brief in support of the HIA’s position earlier this year.
The 9th Circuit Court will now deliberate based on the arguments and fillings made, setting the stage for a monumental decision that could affect the legality of CBD products already being sold nationwide.
Both of these lawsuits potentially represent watershed moments in national cannabis policy. Stay tuned to THC for future updates.

Governor’s Gravitas: Jesse Ventura Wrestles With Cannabis Policy

By Erin Hiatt


Former WWE performer Jesse “The Body” Ventura prefers to be addressed as “Governor”. “I’m 66 years old,” he says. “Governor, that’s the official title they’ve given me.” By “they,” he means the people of Minnesota, where he governed as an Independent from 1999-2003, but adding “The Body” wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate. At 6 foot 4 inches he still seems tall even while seated. And though the muscles hidden underneath his boxy black suit jacket have likely grown softer over the years, his frame is not insignificant. His long white hair, trailing somewhat warlock-like from under his baseball cap, momentarily gives him a certain softness that’s quickly undone by the crackle in his crisp, blue eyes and the growl in his voice.

Ventura has made many careers over the span of his 66 years. He was a Navy SEAL who served during the Vietnam War, then rode in a motorcycle gang. He spent more than a decade as a wrestler at the apex of the sport’s popularity, then parlayed his accessible, in-your-face style to become a wrestling correspondent, moving into bit parts in movies and television.

He finally landed his own cable show based on a book he had written, “Conspiracy Theory,” whose title states its intent; to explore popular conspiracy theories like those surrounding 9/11 and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prison camps, among others. His most recent foray in entertainment is the “World According to Jesse,” née “Off the Grid,” was recently purchased by none other than Russian media propaganda machine, RT.

Ventura was the keynote speaker at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo held last June at New York’s capacious Javit’s Convention Center, where he extolled his most recent book, “The Marijuana Manifesto.” Speaking to a large and enthusiastic group, Ventura barked — if in a somewhat rambling way — at the crowd about the injustices of cannabis criminalization.

“I’m completely Independent,” he says of his political affiliation. “Completely, as in never belonged to any party. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal.” Minnesota has had its share of quirky politicians, including Sen. Al Franken, uber-conservative cuckoo bird Michele Bachmann, and a five-year old mayor (though tongue in cheek, he was still “elected”). “I believe most people are like me,” he continues. “I believe in less government but also believe in gay rights and social liberties where government don’t [sic] belong. And that’s part of less government.”

Ventura was Trump before Trump was Trump. A populist candidate who was elected by Minnesotans out of “anger,” as reported by Minnesota Public Radio, his brash style drew both supporters and critics. But overall, his time in office was deemed at least a partial success, and that is what he hopes to leverage with the publication of “The Marijuana Manifesto.”

Admitting that the book will likely affirm the views of those already converted to the cause, Ventura says he hopes that someone of his stature writing a book on cannabis would convince those skeptical of legalization to get onboard. “People would say, ‘Gee, there’s a former governor writing this,’” he explains. “And it needed to take this step forward. And we need to come out of the closet. Gay people have come out the closet, and look, they’re getting their rights now.” Ventura believes that if more people “come out of the cannabis closet” that its use will no longer be frowned upon. “We are the majority,” he asserts. “It’s time for us as the majority to take back our government.”

Like many who come to support cannabis legalization, Ventura’s situation was personal, explaining, “Someone very dear and close to me developed an epileptic seizure two to three times a week.” He watched helplessly as his loved one seized and struggled with four different, unsuccessful pharmaceutical treatments. “In desperation, we drove to Colorado,” he recalls. “And I guess you could say we procured illegal medicine.”

“The Marijuana Manifesto” reads like a Cannabis 101 textbook told in Ventura’s stream-of-consciousness writing style. And Ventura, who sees addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal one, wants all drugs to be legal. “Drug addiction is a disease. For some reason we like to classify it a crime,” he emphatically states. “You can be addicted to anything! Obesity — we gonna make it a crime because people are addicted to food and won’t step away from the table?”

Ventura frequently steers the conversation back to “freedom,” and that includes the freedom to do, as he says, “stupid things.” “Like I said as governor, when you accept freedom, everything is a ying [sic] and a yang,” he says. “With accepting freedom, you have to accept what comes along — the freedom to be stupid. People are going to do stupid things. You can’t make every stupid decision against the law.”

Cannabis, Ventura believes, could have saved fellow Minnesotan Prince from overdosing on fentanyl. In fact, he thinks that cannabis is a panacea for many of the world’s problems, a concept he explores in his book. “Donald Trump wants to create jobs? Simple. Pull off the federal ban on cannabis,” he tells the Javit’s Center crowd. “I just read in The Wall Street Journal that Colorado has 18,000 new jobs. New Jobs. 18,000 people not on unemployment. Ladies and gents, that’s what will bring legalization.”

Ventura says that he sent a copy of the “Marijuana Manifesto” to Mr. Trump but that he never heard back. “I know him, I’ve been to dinner with him. We went to dinner,” he adds. “We coulda sold tickets. And he went with an advocate that’s as big as me for cannabis and hemp.” Pausing for effect, he continues, “Woody Harrelson, Trump, me, we went to dinner. Coulda sold tickets.”

But having dinner with Trump doesn’t keep Ventura from criticizing Trump’s nebulous — if nonexistent — thoughts on drug policy. “We seem to have Trump whose mantra is ‘Make America Great Again,’” he says. “But why would you do that by going backward? We go, as Star Trek said, we go where no man has gone before! How is ‘making America great’ by going backward?”

Ventura turns his sights on Washington’s political establishment, who, in his view, have forgotten, or at the very least are ignoring, the will of the people when it comes to cannabis legalization. “They work for us! They’re supposed to do what we want, they’re not supposed to do what they want! I hope there’s a revolution and I hope people will get up and tell the government, ‘We’re the boss, not you,’” he emphatically exclaims. “I think they’re gonna try to oppress us again, and I hope there’s riot, and I hope they’re not violent. But they could be.”

Next up for the Governor is broadcasting his righteous ire on an RT television series, “The World According to Jesse.” Ventura says that RT has given him no restrictions, other than an occasional bleep for profanity. RT wrote, “’The World According to Jesse’ will tackle both the current news agenda and deeper issues such as government hypocrisy and corporate deception, with Jesse’s distinctive take on stories sidelined by the mainstream media. Ventura will apply his uncensored, bold and bare-knuckled approach to thought-provoking interviews and on-the-ground reporting alike.”

“The reason I’m doing it,” Ventura begins, “is I was down off the grid in Mexico and we have this little bar we go to. A couple of years ago I walked into the bar, and there was a guy there and when I walked in, you’d think he met Jesus.” Smiling, he continues, “He was from Lebanon. He said to me, ‘Do you realize that whenever you come on CNN, everyone in Lebanon stops what they’re doing and gathers around televisions to hear what you have to say.” Ventura’s new Lebanese friend continued to tell him that the consensus in Lebanon was that Ventura should be the United States’ president, that the world would be a better place if he were.

“This guy tells me this,” he says. “It’s pretty humbling.” Saying that his experience in that off-the-beaten-path bar in Mexico led him to letting RT use “Off the Grid,” now “The World According to Jesse,” for a network series. Ventura concludes, “Screw our national media. I’m jumping over into international media. My show will be seen by 800 million people, second only to the BBC. To hell with our national media. I’m going above them.”

Ventura said in the RT’s “World According to Jesse” press release that he “looks forward to holding our government accountable. I will be exercising my First Amendment rights with no filters.” Given our current garishly bizarre political environment, maybe Ventura should resurrect his old conspiracy theory show to explore that topic. ♦









The Endocannabinoid System

By Dr Nicola Davies


The isolation of plant-based cannabinoids in the 1960s led scientists to investigate the mechanisms by which these chemical compounds interact with the brain’s neurons (or nerve cells).[1] Indeed, the lipid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), was different from other water-soluble neurotransmitters or neuromodulators known at that time, and the hypotheses was that the psychotropic effects of THC were made through membrane-related features.[2] However, it became clear that cannabinoids did indeed work through receptors, when, in 1988, a cannabinoid receptor was identified in a rat brain.[3] In the following decades further exploration was made on the constituents of the body’s own cannabinoid system.


Components of the Endocannabinoid System

The endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) includes the cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids (eCBs), and enzymes (such as fatty acid amide hydrolase) that synthesize and degrade the endocannabinoids.[4],[5]


CB1 and CB2: The Body’s Cannabinoid Receptors:

The first endogenous cannabinoid receptor, CB1, was successfully cloned in 1990,[6] while the second one, CB2, was identified in the spleen and cloned in 1993.[7] Both receptors are part of the supergroup of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which are a large and diverse set of membrane receptors that respond to a wide range of external signals, making them essential in regulating numerous bodily functions.[8],[9] Modern medicine has benefited from the more in-depth understanding of GPCRs, with some researchers estimating that up to half of marketed drugs work by binding to these receptors.[10]

The CB1 receptor was initially believed to be present primarily in the central nervous system and was known as a brain cannabinoid receptor. Currently, it is believed that CB1 is also found in peripheral organs, but only in very low levels in some places. In the brain, CB1 is the most common GPCR, with the highest concentrations (as seen in the brain of a rat) in the basal ganglia, hippocampus, cerebellum, substantia nigra, and globus pallidus. These receptors are believed to have an essential role in cognition and motivation, consistent with the high densities of CB1 in parts of the brain that govern sensory and motor functions.[11]

On the other hand, CB2 receptors were previously thought of as the peripheral receptor because it was mainly found in immune cells, but the second type of receptor has also been found within the central nervous system, although at lower densities compared to CB1. It has been proposed that CB2 is part of a general protective mechanism within the immune system of mammals. Subsequently, drugs that act by binding to CB2 are being explored for some diseases, such as liver, cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric conditions.[12],[13]


AEA and 2-AG: The Body’s Natural Cannabinoids:

The discovery of a network of cannabinoid receptors, activated by the plant-based THC (an exocannabinoid), suggested the possibility of naturally occurring lipid molecules (endocannabinoids, or eCBs) also being present inside mammals’ bodies. Since THC is lipophilic (or soluble in fat), the assumption was that endogenous cannabinoids would be lipophilic as well.[14],[15] Soon after the cloning of the cannabinoid receptors, two lipid neurotransmitters were discovered, namely, N-arachidonoylethanolamine or AEA (which is also known as anandamide, named after the Sanskrit word ananda, meaning “supreme joy”) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, or 2-AG.[16]

AEA and 2-AG differ from other neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, in that they are not stored within nerve cells, but are created by the body as and where they are needed. The eCBs are also unlike many neurotransmitters in that their actions are pre-synaptic instead of postsynaptic. This means that the eCBs’ chemical messages are sent “backwards” through the network of neurons. Normally, most neurotransmitters are released from one neuron (the presynaptic cell), travel through a gap called the synapse, and bind to receptors on a neighboring neuron (the postsynaptic cell); it is the activated postsynaptic neuron which then starts the events that allow the chemical “message” to be spread. On the other hand, eCBs are created “on demand” from fat cells within an activated postsynaptic neuron, and travel back to the presynaptic neuron, where they bind to cannabinoid receptors.[17],[18],[19]


Enzymes in the ECS:

In the cell, eCBs are broken down by enzymes. Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) is responsible for breaking down AEA into arachidonic acid and ethanolamine. In addition, 2-AG is broken down by FAAH and monoacyl hydrolase. Endocannabinoids are quickly removed from the cell by a membrane transport mechanism that still needs to be further investigated. When these enzymes are suppressed, the effect of eCBs is prolonged.[20]


The Importance of Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

The ECS is now widely believed to be responsible for regulating a wide range of bodily functions. It is essential for the normal operation of the central and peripheral nervous system, and has a part in the regulation of pain, chronic stress, blood pressure, and gastrointestinal activities. It also plays an important role in cancer therapy, obesity management, reproduction, liver disease management, and numerous other health conditions.[21] Recently, eCBs have also been shown to be responsible for modulating affect (mood), motivation and emotions. Drugs targeting the ECS are being explored in the field of psychiatric disorders.[22]

Further research, however, is needed to gain more in-depth understanding of the complex mechanisms of this system. For instance, a third cannabinoid receptor has been hypothesized by researchers,[23] although its existence is yet to be fully demonstrated. Another example of a function of the ECS that requires more research is the membrane transport mechanism that is believed to remove eCBs from the cells.[24]

Unfortunately, cannabis research still faces numerous barriers and challenges. In a January 2017 report on the state of marijuana research, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine identified several obstacles. One of these is the lack of funding and support for the development of a national cannabis research agenda. Other challenges include the difficulty of obtaining a large enough supply of cannabis for scientific investigation, as well as securing approval to conduct studies. The drug is highly regulated by government agencies, since it is classified as a Schedule I substance. Additionally, a more rigorous set of tools and standards for research must be formulated by the cannabis-focused scientific community. Data collection methods, as well as public surveillance tools (such as national health surveys), are also in need of improvement.[25]

There is a necessity to address these barriers as they are impeding the advancement of evidence-based knowledge on cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. The emerging importance of the ECS is already being seen. The capability to identify the potential ways of modulating its components could lead to the future development of a wide array of therapeutic innovations. The investigation of this important system will aid the public in understanding the numerous medicinal claims for cannabinoid-related products, as well as gain more objective insights into the potential dangers or benefits of cannabis. ♦


[1] Gaoni, Y., & Mechoulam, R. (1964). Isolation, structure and partial synthesis of an active constituent of Hashish. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 86, 1646–1647

[2] Alger, B. E. (2013). Getting high on the endocannabinoid system. Cerebrum: The Dana Forum on Brain Science2013, 14

[3] Devane, W. A., Dysarz, F. A. 3rd, Johnson, M., Melvin, L. S. and Howlett, A. C. (1988). Determination and characterization of a cannabinoid receptor in rat brain. Molecular Pharmacology, 34, 605–613

[4] Pazos M.R., Núñez, E., Benito, C., Tolón, R.M., Romero, J. (2005). Functional neuroanatomy of the endocannabinoid system. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 81 (2), 239–47DOI:10.1016/j.pbb.2005.01.030

[5] Murillo-Rodriguez, E. (Ed.) (2017). The endocannabinoid system: genetics, biochemistry, brain disorders, and therapy. London: Academic Press.

[6] Matsuda, L. A., Lolait, S. J., Brownstein, M. J., Young, A. C., & Bonner, T. I. (1990). Structure of a cannabinoid receptor and functional expression of the cloned cDNA. Nature, 346, 561–564

[7] Munro S., Thomas, K.L., Abu-Shaar, M. (1993). Molecular characterization of a peripheral receptor for cannabinoids. Nature, 365, 61–65

[8] Mechoulam, R. & Parker, L. (2013). The endocannabinoid system and the brain. Annual Review of Psychology, 2013, 64, 21-47. DOI:10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143739

[9] Scitable. (n.d.). GPCR. Retrieved from

[10] Ibid.

[11] Mechoulam, R. & Parker, L. (2013)

[12] Ibid.

[13] Cota, D., Marsicano, G., Lutz, B., Vicennati, V., Stalla, G.K., Pasquali, R., & Pagotto, U. (2003). Endogenous cannabinoid system as a modulator of food intake. International Journal of Obesity, 27, 289-301. DOI:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802250


[14] Alger, B. E. (2013)


[15] Mechoulam, R. & Parker, L. (2013)


[16] Ibid.


[17] Ibid.


[18] Howlett A.C., Barth F., Bonner T.I., Cabral G., Casellas P., Devane W.A., Felder C.C., Herkenham M., Mackie, K., Martin, B.R., Mechoulam, R., & Pertwee, R.G. (2002). International Union of Pharmacology. XXVII. Classification of Cannabinoid Receptors. Pharmacological Reviews, 54, 161–202. Retrieved from


[19] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2011). The science of the endocannabinoid system: how THC affects the brain and the body. Retrieved from


[20] Mechoulam, R. & Parker, L. (2013)


[21] Griffing, G. & Thai, A. (2015). Endocannabinoids. Retrieved from


[22] Campolongo, P., & Trezza, V. (2012). The endocannabinoid system: a key modulator of emotions and cognition. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 6, 73. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2012.00073


[23] Samson, M., Small-Howard, A., Shimoda, L., Koblan-Huberson, M., Stokes, A., & Turner, H. (2003). Differential roles of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in mast cells. The Journal of Immunology, 170 (10), 4953-4962. DOI:10.4049/jimmunol.170.10.4953


[24] Mechoulam, R. & Parker, L. (2013)


[25] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. DOI:10.17226/24625


Featured Events: January 2018

THC Fair (The Hemp and Cannabis Fair)

Date: January 20th, 2018 – January 21st, 2018

Location:  Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Medford-Ashland, Oregon

Celebrate both halves of the cannabis plant at The Hemp and Cannabis Fair. With equal emphasis on the psychoactive varieties some would call marijuana and the non-psychoactive varieties most would call hemp, this fair is a general celebration of the plant’s legalization. Sure, calling it The Hemp and Cannabis Fair is a bit redundant, but the abbreviation wouldn’t work otherwise.


INDO EXPO – Denver, Colorado

Date: January 27th, 2018 – January 28th, 2018

Location: Denver Mart, Denver, Colorado

If you go to only one cannabis trade show this year, make sure it’s the INDO EXPO. Featuring the best in cutting edge cultivation, lighting, branding, packaging and everything else related to commercial cannabis, this trade show is the place to be for business owners and entrepreneurs. There may be no better distillation of the industry.


Cannabis Wedding Expo – Colorado 2018

Date: January 28th, 2018 

Location: Lionsgate Event Center, Lafayette, Colorado

Flowers are an integral part of every wedding, so why not incorporate the flowers of the cannabis plant into yours? With plenty of cannabis related vendors on hand, the Cannabis Wedding Expo is the place to be whether you’re looking to serve cannabis to your guest or just give a subtle nod to the plant during the ceremony.  Get Tickets


Sweet Jane’s Sativa Soiree

Date: Every Sunday between, Jan 14th, 2018 – Aug 26th, 2018

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Rocky Mountain High Tours is looking to step up the social consumption scene with this series of posh get-togethers. Billed as a cocktail party for cannabis, the Sativa Soiree will feature hors d’oeuvres, infused mocktails and detailed information on a selection of featured sativa strains — which will, of course, be available for sampling.  Get Tickets




Zeus Bolt XL Grinder

by DJ Reetz, @pot_incorrect

This beefy grinder has become my go-to at home. The hefty design made of anodized aircraft-grade aluminum is big enough that you won’t have to load it multiple times while you’re rolling a fat blunt, and the array of sharp, diamond-shaped teeth make quick work of even the stickiest and densest buds. If you’re stuck with some truly bammer brick (we feel sorry for you, really) the top even has finger grooves so you can really torque down. Falling into the “I didn’t know I wanted that, but now I don’t know how I got by without it” category, the Zeus Bolt comes with a small plastic scoop to measure out your ground-up flower or keef from the bottom chamber. The magnetic lid keeps the top firmly in place when not in use, and I’ve found that it keeps the top pieces stuck nicely to my metal rolling tray while I have the flower chamber open. I’m sure I’ll be using this grinder for some time to come. Check it out at ♦

Utillian 420 Vaporizer

by DJ Reetz, @pot_incorrect

Reliable and portable flower vaporizers can be kind of elusive, but the Utillian 420 Vaporizer is a competent, well-made option for those looking to vaporize cannabis on the go. Solidly constructed and featuring an ergonomic design that fits nicely in the hand, the Utillian has enough heft that it won’t get dashed to pieces in a pocket or purse compartment but is still small enough to fit.  With four heat settings ranging from 190˚ C up to 220˚ C, you’re sure to find the right setting for the moisture and density of the material you’re loading. The glass mouthpiece delivers consistent and smooth hits from the ceramic chamber and the digital readout ensures you will never be caught with a dead battery, something that is always a gamble when picking up other vapes on the way out of the door. The biggest downside is the rather small vaporization chamber, which needs to be reloaded after just about every rotation, requiring the mouthpiece to be unscrewed. While this isn’t something I’d want to risk during a crowded concert, it’s just fine for a more low-key affair. At just $90 (Canadian), you could definitely do a lot worse.  Check them out at ♦



Fair-Weather Friends: Flip-Flopping on Cannabis Policy Like a Real A-Hole

By DJ Reetz

Cannabis sure is gaining friends these days. With support for full legalization breaking through 50 percent nationally and support for medical cannabis reaching an all time high, backing sensible cannabis policy is a less risky political decision than it has ever been before. In fact, supporting rational policy rather than decades old dogma and prejudice seems to be a politically advantageous move, boldly announcing to the world that, “I support thoughtful policy, now that a comfortable number of people are cool with it.”

Adult-use legalization is rolling out around the country, and the possibility of actual federal reforms is increasingly likely as the number of congressional representatives from legal states grows with every victory. Representatives like those in the Congressional Cannabis Caucus see an obvious need for their constituents to have access to basic banking services, sensible tax rates, and uniform federal oversight and guidelines. But most shockingly, this pragmatism is slowly creeping into politicians and public figures who aren’t directly responsible to legal business owners currently being treated like criminals.

The changing tide has allowed those who in the past advocated for the broken status quo or enabled it with their silence to simply throw up the flag of reasonable, popular opinion and be lauded with praise from the pro-cannabis crowd. While many in the cannabis advocacy field are happy to welcome any fair-weather friend to the fold, it’s important to remember that some people are just pieces of shit. Despite what our president may think, good people don’t march with pieces of shit, no matter how gratifying it may be to wave them in front of their former allies.  

People like Roger Stone — who cut his teeth in the same Nixon White House that engineered the modern war on drugs as a means of crushing dissidents and minorities before he was working alongside likely traitor Paul Manafort to engineer Trump’s election — don’t always have to be welcomed in just because they, as it turns out, have been smoking weed this whole time.  

The same is true of the recent turn — or rather, mild remarks — from former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In an interview with Newsweek, Gonzales, who served as Attorney General for part of the Bush administration, advised current Attorney General Jeff Sessions against cracking down on state-legal cannabis programs, saying that to do so would be “bad optics.”

“To prosecute an act that is otherwise lawful under state law, one could make the argument [that] as a matter of policy, we’ve got other priorities we ought to be spending our resources on,” said Gonzales in the interview.

The perceived endorsement of the Obama-era hands-off policy was quickly picked up by the cannabis zeitgeist. A devout member of the old conservative guard was breaking rank to acknowledge that disrupting the current success at the expense of state’s rights simply to enforce ignorant policy steeped in racism against Hispanics like himself was maybe not the best course of action.

But before we get lost in this happy idea that reasoned progress may be taking root somewhere in the black heart of the neoconservative movement, let’s remember that we probably shouldn’t give a fuck what Alberto Gonzales has to say, about weed or anything else, because he’s kind of a piece of shit.


He fought against patient rights

When Gonzales took over the role of Attorney General from avowed agent of terror John Ashcroft he also took the reins of a high-profile case against cannabis patients. In 2002, cannabis patients Angel Raich and Dianne Monson were subject to a raid carried out in conjunction with federal DEA agents, which led to the destruction of a whopping six plants. Raich, Monson and two other California caregivers filed a lawsuit for injunctive relief against the prosecution, arguing that the Controlled Substances Act — which classifies cannabis among the most dangerous and useless drugs — was not constitutional when applied to personal, medically necessary use of the plant, and that the raid represented a violation of due process as well as the Ninth and Tenth Amendment and the doctrine of medical necessity.

The feds’ counter argument can be summarized succinctly as, “Nah, fuck that.”

An early ruling in the case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction against federal interference with the patients, but the decision went less favorably when the case made it to the Supreme Court. Gonzales’ team successfully argued that banning personal cultivation fell under the authority of the Commerce Clause. Despite none of this medicine being proven to be leaving California, this cannabis could possibly find its way to the interstate markets if these patients chose to forego treating their chronic medical issues in order to make a few bucks, ruled the court.

The 6-3 decision by the court effectively set legal precedent for federal disruption of any cannabis cultivation, no matter the state law or medical need, which will undoubtedly factor into any overreach undertaken by the Sessions Justice Department. It’s too bad that Gonzales didn’t hold his current opinion about the foolishness of such an action 12 years ago, when it would have actually made a difference.


He was the guy who supported torture  

When it comes to supporting torture, Gonzales wrote the book on the subject — or memo, rather. Back in the Bush years, when we were all terrified of Islamic terrorism and eager to inflict as much unpleasantness on dangerous, non-Christian religious fundamentalists as possible, Gonzales was hard at work on the legal justification for torturing suspected terrorists. To that end, Gonzales authored a memo claiming that suspected terrorists were not protected by the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Because — unlike wars fought between nations — the war on terror required information to be quickly extracted from captured enemy combatants to prevent future attacks, Gonzales called “legal” on practices such as waterboarding.

These things were allegedly already taking place at CIA black site detention centers, so Gonzales’ memo served to codify the practice and assure our brave shadow warriors that we wouldn’t be turning them over if any snitchin’-ass UN human rights inspectors wanted to try them for war crimes.            

Torture is one of those things that just about anyone with a basic sense of decency can identify as immoral, but for Berto, as George W. Bush undoubtedly referred to him, not so much.


Also, a whole bunch of other shit

Harkening back to the days before roughly 50 percent of the population took issue with naked Islamophobia, Gonzales helped quite a bit in advancing the Bush administration’s fear-driven post-9/11 agenda. Beyond that whole torture thing, he was a strong supporter of the USA PATRIOT Act, the most cleverly and ironically acronym-ed effort ever to swing an ax at the bill of rights.

As Attorney General, Gonzales used the expanded powers granted to him by the act to spy on US citizens without warrant, and threatened The New York Times with prosecution for espionage when the paper reported some of it.

In addition to helping lay the groundwork for an Orwellian surveillance state, Gonzales was widely suspected to have fired several US attorneys for political reasons and earned a bit of a reputation as someone who had little compunction in lying to Congressional committees about his actions. Beyond that, Gonzales generally favored a lack of transparency in government and took a shot at the Freedom of Information Act by authoring Bush’s Executive Order 13233, which allowed the president to delay the release of presidential records.  

It’s hard not to get a little nostalgic for the Bush era these days. Back when corruption was a little more veiled, the ignorance was purposeful, the racism more subtle, and the president’s bumbling incompetence was more charming and less willful sure does seem like a simpler time. The days when government was run by a malicious cabal selling the country for profit, but at least they weren’t all up in your face with it.

Yes, it’s easy to think back fondly on those times now, and it’s natural to want to welcome any of those vampires to the fight against a new enemy. But before we heap praise on people who are risking literally nothing to show even minimal support for the inescapable progress being made, we should do an inventory of who is actually beneficial to that cause, and who can just fuck right off. ♦

Cannabis Friendly Airbnb: Travel and Enjoy Your Cannabis Too!

by Maggie Jay, @travelncannabis

Maybe you’ve heard it from friends time and again, or maybe it’s happened to you: you are finally in your hotel room, enjoying your first joint when there’s a banging at the door. Someone has complained about the smell and their weed-sniffing security has sniffed themselves to your hotel room door. Whether you just get a warning or you must pay their ridiculous fine, your high has been blown.

So many people have decided to avoid the hotel hassle altogether and have started booking their accommodations through Airbnb. This creative company has an abundance of options when it comes to fun and unique accommodations for travelers of all types.

We did a bit of digging and came up with a few cannabis-friendly options for canna-travelers in four of the major cities that have legalized recreational cannabis. These places are either marked as “Smoking allowed,” or we have personally contacted them to ask if it is “420 friendly.” (Just a side note, of the 15 or so accounts we did contact, only one said no. So, it never hurts to ask about a place you want to stay, just to be confident before you book.) 

Check out these options for cannabis-friendly Airbnbs in Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver and Las Vegas. ♦


Your Own Space: Hot Tub in Nature in the Midst of the City, $120 nightly

This listing is more of a bed and breakfast style accommodation. With an emphasis on higher consciousness, which includes cannabis, I can feel the relaxing vibes from 1,000 miles away. Taking one of the complementary pipes for a dip in the  outdoor, saltwater hot tub sounds like a perfect end to a day in Seattle.  Book here.


Splurge or Share: A Cottage Fit for a Fairy King from $202 nightly

Just outside of Seattle, in Redmond, Washington sits what the host calls a “cobbage” (half cabin, half cottage). This bright and airy cobbage has a great veggie garden, free for guests to use, and it’s right on the water. See coyotes, owls and hawks in this remote-ish location while taking the paddle boat out for a spin. Book here.   

Los Angeles


Your Own Space: Shimmy Your Way into this ‘60s Pop Art from $150 nightly

Colorful with a well-thought-out design, this one to two person studio is bitchin’! The walls and floors are a fun site and the little patio is adorable. The owner is also the designer and she has two of these far-out studios. The neighborhood of Silverlake has a great hipster scene, with tons of restaurants within walking distance. Book here.  This  place must be some kind of special because it’s booked through November!


Splurge or Share: Downtown High Rise Starting at $324 nightly

I love the city life. And this drop dead gorgeous two-bedroom, two-bath gives you just that. Enjoy the nightlife of this bustling town, or just watch it all from the amazing views of this 36th floor condo. This listing comes with two parking spaces, making your vacation even simpler. Bring your friends along because this place houses seven! Book here.



Budget-Friendly Option: Decked Out Bedroom in DTC area from $35 nightly

This private bedroom reminds me of a cushy hotel room. Wrap up in the provided robe, grab some munchies from your munchie drawer and get ready for chill mode. This shared space is meant for one or two and smoking is allowed on the patio. Book here.


Your Own Space: Get Ritzy in the Ritz Carlton Building from $150 nightly & George

Another downtown stunner, this one-bedroom is in the same building as the Ritz Carlton right in downtown Denver. Enjoy shopping, nightlife, museums and more at this location. Enjoy a sunset toke on the lovely balcony to express your freedom in this great state. Book here.



Splurge or Share: Ultra Sheek Uptown Apartment with a Hot Tub from $199 nightly


Stay in this well-appointed mansion on the edge of Denver’s Capitol Hill and even throw a party. So many Airbnb hosts frown upon get-togethers, but this host encourages it. Have up to 50 people over for an evening (there’s only room for eight overnight guests) of fun on the oversized outdoor space. Or, you can just scoot on over to the pub next door, also owned by the host, and hang there in the evenings. Book here.


Las Vegas


Your Own Space: Quiet Surrender Just Outside of the City from $108 nightly

Stay in the guest house right off the pool area and enjoy nightly BBQ and a dip in the cool waters. Wake and bake in the garden, watching the fish in the coy pond. Then take off for sightseeing and shows in the evenings. Great for up to five, this is a quiet solution to the bustling sounds of the Vegas Strip. Book here.


Splurge or Share: Bathtub with Views of the Palms from $400 nightly

Stay at Mario Andretti’s high rise right on the strip. This laid-out crib is perfect for the Vegas party animal. Have a girl’s weekend in this dope pad and blow some O’s on the wrap around balcony. Then, after a long night out, take a break at the spa downstairs, or plan a day at the pool on the sixth floor. Book here.


Jeff Sessions: Troublemaker for Legal Cannabis

By Erin Hiatt


Since the Trump administration began, it has been one Tweet storm after another, creating chaos at the White House and unease in much of the citizenry. Scandal upon scandal, saber-rattling, and a never-ending deluge of scurrilous allegations have lent themselves to a governing environment where even those working for Trump seem to have no idea what the heck their boss wants, much less receive direction on how to do it.

But one politician who knows his way around the Hill, no matter who’s in charge, is Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions of Alabama. To say that Sessions is a drug war relic is probably too simple. He has been on the record saying that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and that he didn’t mind the KKK so much until he found out they used cannabis, to play just two of Sessions’ cannabis greatest hits.

A recent Quinnipiac poll found that a huge majority of Americans, some 94 percent, support legalizing medical marijuana. And many politicians, including conservatives, have distanced themselves from the old drug war playbook. But that hasn’t stopped Sessions from pawing gleefully through his D.A.R.E. scrapbook, and he does have one trick up his sleeve. When it comes to federal versus state law, federal law holds the top card.

“The AG clearly would like to implement federal law,” says Allen St. Pierre, Vice President of Freedom Leaf, partner at Strategic Alternative Investments, and board member at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “He has certainly laid down the pretext for going after some components of the marijuana industry at the federal level.”

Trump, who, for the moment, seems mostly indifferent to marijuana — and in fact said on the campaign trail that cannabis policy should be left to the states — told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in an April phone call that he was doing “an unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Since Duterte took office in June 2016, more than 7,000 people have been murdered in the drug crackdown at Duterte’s behest. Despite such a remarkably tone deaf compliment to the Filipino president, the only direction Trump has given Sessions is to crack down on crime. Sessions seems to have fallen into default mode by re-donning his drug warrior garb, and so far, he’s caused quite a stir.

Tamar Todd is the Legal Director and Acting Director for the Policy Department at the Drug Policy Alliance, and she sums up Sessions’ bluster as “a couple of statements.” Todd continues to say, “There’s no pattern or no noticeable increase in enforcement at state-level business.” However, that’s not to say that all the commotion coming from Sessions on drug policy hasn’t caused uncertainty and fear for legal cannabis players. “There’s been like talk, but not a departure from the Cole Memo or an adopted policy of enforcement strategy.”

“There’s some speculation as to why that’s the case,” says St. Pierre. “That probably has much more to do with his boss.” Intermittently Twitter-abused by Trump for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, Sessions has shown determination to stay on as AG despite the floating of names like Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie to replace him. “The two people that have probably gotten Trump’s ear on this are Trump’s largest (individual) donor, Peter Thiel — and Peter is one of the largest investors in the marijuana space, in Leafly and Privateer Holdings.” But Thiel is not the only one holding sway in Trump’s court. St. Pierre also points to nasty political operative Roger Stone, who recently started a cannabis super-pac called the United States Cannabis Coalition. “Roger apparently has had a very long, 25-year relationship with Trump.”

Since his tenure began, Sessions has directed the remaining US Attorneys (remember, Trump fired many of them last March) to enforce mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenses; linked the opioid epidemic and a rise in violent crime to cannabis legalization; overseen the renewal of contracts for the operation of private, for-profit prisons; personally went to Congress to ask for leeway to crack down on medical marijuana providers; and has re-upped the ante on civil asset forfeiture. Recently, he sent letters to the governors of Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, saying that he had “serious questions” about their cannabis laws, accusing them of diverting cannabis to children and allowing it to leak across state lines.

The crème de la crème was the convening of, and recently completed, Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, assumed to be created by the AG to provide fodder for a clampdown on legal cannabis states and businesses. The panel’s composition remains largely secret and remarkably opaque, leading many in legal states to do some worried fortune-telling regarding its recommendations.

Legal cannabis markets are essentially upheld by three governmental actions: The Ogden Memo, the Rohrabacher-Farr, aka Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, and the Cole Memo. The 2009 Ogden Memo was the first regarding marijuana laws and was a directive to de-prioritize the usage of federal resources to criminalize those in clear compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment was first introduced in 2003 and languished for some 11 years before passage. The amendment, which must be renewed each fiscal year as part of the federal budget to remain active, recently came under fire with the advent of the new administration. However, it was once again renewed and continues to prohibit the Justice Department from spending federal monies interfering in state-legal medical marijuana programs.

And last but not least, the much vaunted Cole Memo of 2013, which provides eight bullet points for federal prosecutors to focus on in legal states, such as keeping cannabis money out of criminal hands, making sure it remains within state borders, and ensuring minors don’t have access to the plant. For many in the industry, especially those who have taken great pains to heed state regulations, the Cole Memo has provided a veneer of safety.

However, Michael Collins, Deputy Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, is a bit of a skeptic. “I don’t think people should take solace in the existing Cole Memo,” he says. “That’s the thing about the Cole Memo because it’s kind of in the eye of the beholder.” Citing challenges around youth use of and cannabis crossing state lines, he continues, “you could see how a US attorney could look at the Cole Memo and say, ‘I’m gonna close this down.’”

St. Pierre notes that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is a minor restriction on the federal government, but he adds, “It’s not entirely clear that the federal government is shackled by those laws.” He believes that if the federal government decided to walk back from the Cole and Ogden Memos that would essentially take legal markets back to pre-adult-use legalization standing. “That would bring us back to the status quo of 2010,” he continues, “and the first 14 to 16 months of the Obama administration had a more active raid schedule in California than any other year than even the Bush administration.”

Only recently, the task force members came out with some cannabis recommendations that likely weren’t what Sessions was hoping for or expecting. Brian Vicente, Esq., partner and founding member at Vicente Sederberg LLC, a marijuana law firm with offices in several legal states, views the task force recommendations as more of a wait-and-see. “There was a lot of discussion among advocates that they were going to issue these recommendations that were different from state laws,” he explains, “but it said, ‘we’re going to ramp up more research, and monitor it, and focus on the Cole Memo and banking issues.’ To sort of punt like that is fine by me.”

Despite the task force’s lukewarm guidelines and conservative’s slow shunning of drug war policies, Sessions could still throw some monkey wrenches into the works. “I mean, it really goes along the way of raid dispensaries and giving them x amount of time to comply with federal law,” Collins theorizes. “It could go to raids and shutdowns, civil asset forfeiture, or stuff that’s like paperwork-oriented. There’s a wide variety of options for them.”

Civil asset forfeiture is a particularly egregious law enforcement tool used as a drug war tactic, and it’s said Sessions is a fan. Former politician and presidential candidate Ron Paul recently wrote for the conservative Newsmax media site, “Civil asset forfeiture, which should be called civil asset theft, is the practice of seizing property believed to be involved in a crime. The government keeps the property even if it never convicts, or even charges, the owner of the property.” This includes, cash, cars, jewelry, homes, and anything else even remotely associated with what law enforcement may deem a crime.

President Obama curtailed the use of civil asset forfeiture in 2015, but Sessions, in defense of his recent attempts at resurrecting it, has cited the practice as a “key tool that helps law enforcement defund organized crime, take back ill-gotten gains, and prevent new crimes from being committed.” Todd points out that it’s unclear what “organized crime” means. “Does he mean licensed businesses in Colorado?” she wonders. “I think if the government is going to take someone’s stuff there should be due process! Who decides that the actions are criminal?”

Sessions could also direct the remaining US attorneys to do his bidding by enforcing mandatory minimums, or, as Vicente suggests, change the terms of plea bargains, which in his criminal case experience occurs 90 percent of the time. “We know that Sessions is, you know, a drug war dinosaur in many ways and an absolute prohibitionist. He talks tough on firing up the War on Drugs,” he says. “The Attorney General has a fair amount of discretion. He could delete the Cole Memo and issue a new memo, and say, ‘Now it’s a priority to enforce federal law.’ I think it would be wildly unpopular.”

St. Pierre has some predictions of his own. “The federal attorneys in those states, the first arrests they are going to make will be absolutely the least compliant, like illegal immigrants running illegal operations, that’s low hanging fruit,” he says. “When they get a compliant company, that state attorney will get such a load of shit. If they start trying to knock down these marijuana businesses in the Colorado’s and Oregon’s of the world, if they go after some of those, those constituents will pick up the phones.”

Todd is a bit more circumspect, considering the sheer size of the current legal industry. “Even if you remove the whole [Cole] memo, and before that the medical marijuana industry existed. For them to come in and say we’re going to prosecute anyone violating federal law, it would be a huge investment of federal resources.”

Currently, the Cole Memo stands unchanged and the majority of new US attorneys remain un-appointed. The Trump administration has enacted a hiring freeze and budgets have been slashed. Theoretically, Sessions could go after recreational markets, but, Vicente reminds us, Sessions doesn’t have absolute control over Congress and has limited power to go after medical marijuana. “They would have to literally stop looking at guns or child pornography or whatever the priority is and focus on marijuana,” he says. “They could sort of peel back the Cole Memo and say, ‘all recreational is bad and stop focusing on gun cases and start focusing on marijuana.’ I don’t think even Sessions would want to pull people off kiddie porn.” ♦


Featured Strain: Birthday Cake from Higher Grade

photo and review by Samuel Farley, @thc_samuel

Higher Grade is a medical-only dispensary located in Denver’s Berkely neighborhood and is stocked with a selection of unique strains I haven’t found at many other Colorado dispensaries. With a wide array of concentrates, edibles and flower, Higher Grade has recently become one of my favorite places to shop. I stopped in recently to give their Birthday Cake flower a try, a strain that I haven’t seen much in Colorado. A genetic mixture of Girl Scout Cookies and Cherry Pie, the aroma of the flower is smooth and sweet. The light green buds were medium in size and had a consistent covering of trichomes along with spots of orange pistils. When smoked, the strain’s sweetness and slight fruity flavor come through very well. After a few bowls in a brand new pipe, I was happily relaxed, free of chronic knee pain and ready to enjoy the rest of the evening. Although not the most potent when it comes to THC content, testing at a range of 15.6-22.6 percent, the flower’s effects is bolstered by the mixture of other cannabinoids and terpenes it contains. This strain provides a relaxing effect that would be great for anyone in need of pain relief or just help with relaxing after a long day.

  • Dispensary: Higher Grade
  • Medical Only
  • Grow Team: The Higher Grade Grow Team
  • Address: 3111 W 38th Ave, Denver CO
  • Website:
  • Genetics- Girl Scout Cookies x Cherry Pie
  • Medical Applications: Appetite stimulation, pain, insomnia, stress
  • Social Applications: Relaxing, perfect nighttime flower




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