Category Archives: featured

As Colorado Gets Ready To Allow Pot Clubs, Indoor Smoking Still An Issue

ap_16109783158209-pot-453cc36184aa23de48e06e4b32fd777a7c49c805-s800-c85

A blinking “open” sign hangs on the outside of an old building in a dark industrial zone just outside the Denver city limits. When the front door opens, smoke billows out.

Inside is one of the state’s few pot clubs, called iBake. Recently, members celebrated the anniversary of its opening.

Glassy-eyed patrons bounce off each other in the small space.

People can smoke pot in here because the club is private; you have to be a member. And it’s outside city limits, away from city police.

It’s not the easiest way to make money, but Steve Nelson Jr. started iBake to fill a need.

“It’s recreation, so it’s to have fun, it’s to relax, it’s to lounge,” he says. “You don’t necessarily want to do that just by yourself.”

But that’s exactly how many tourists, like Alberto Aviles, end up using it. Aviles was visiting from New York. He had no problem finding a place to buy pot at one of Denver’s 150 stores, but aside from iBake, he couldn’t find anywhere to use it.

“Even in the hotels, like the Ramada Inn, they gave me a problem, you know, tried to kick me out just off the smell,” he says.

Hotel owners aren’t the only ones happy to see that city and state lawmakers are close to permitting a mix of private and public communal places to use pot. It’s something akin to what you’d find in Amsterdam.

Vicki Marble, a Republican state senator, says that’s better than cops handing out tickets to tourists using pot in parks and on sidewalks.

“We do not want people coming on vacation and leaving on probation,” she says.

Colorado Republicans have brushed off concerns from the Trump administration about the spread of recreational marijuana, throwing their weight behind a bipartisan bill at the state legislature that would officially allow private marijuana clubs.

“It’s not ideal for consumers, but it is a step in the right direction,” says Kayvan Khalatbari, a marijuana businessman and advocate for public pot consumption.

Seven other states have legal recreational pot, but among those seven, only Nevada is close to licensing public pot use.

“It’s not only something that obviously Colorado’s dealing with, but every single state that’s legalizing recreational cannabis, this will be a conundrum that gets recreated,” he says.

One conundrum is around smoking. Colorado, like many states, doesn’t allow indoor smoking in public places.

But Khalatbari says half of Colorado’s pot sales are for the type of marijuana you have to smoke. Many people prefer that.

“I don’t like edibles,” Khalatbari says. “I don’t like the way they make me feel. I don’t feel that vaporization gives me the sensation that I’m looking for”

Rachel O’Bryan has long fought against the expansion of pot. “Yes, I’m happy to be the bad guy who rains on the parade,” she says.

She says no filtration system can remove all the second-hand smoke from a room. And Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he’d veto the state’s pot club bill if it allows indoor smoking. Think outdoor patios and rooftop bars.

But O’Bryan’s concerns go beyond that. She’s worried that some proposals would allow any type of business — like a yoga studio or a laundromat — to permit marijuana use.

“You know, the encouragement of anything, whether it’s alcohol or marijuana while you’re going about your daily business of, you know, doing laundry — is that a good direction for society to take?” she asked. “And my guess is not.”

She laments that again, Colorado is at the forefront of a big social experiment. She wonders what the effect will be on drugged driving or addiction.

No one knows for sure.

Ben Markus is a general assignment reporter with NPR member station Colorado Public Radio. You can follow him @CPRMarkus.

Some Oregon Marijuana Dispensaries Devastated by Recreational Sales Deadline

chrismathewsstashcannabis800x445-min 01/06/2017

By Keith Mansur     Oregon Cannabis Connection

There is definitely no wait at Stash Cannabis Company in Beaverton, Oregon, the past couple of days. Since the deadline for Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensaries passed on December 31, stores that have been waiting for their licenses from Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) are seeing a lot fewer customers.

It’s so bad that they had only two sales on January 4, for $125.00, and barely over $100 the previous day. The typical sales at Stash Cannabis Company, before they were forced to go back to medical-only sales, was about $4000 a day.

The problem has been devastating for dispensaries that are stuck in limbo between receiving their OLCC licenses and the deadline to end early sales that passed on December 31. These dispensaries, which had been allowed to sell to the recreational market since October 2015, are now out in the cold.“At that pace we will be at $3000 for the whole month,” explained Chris Mathews, owner of Stash Cannabis Company. “We’re turning away 75 or 80 people a day, at least.”

Mathews paid for his application on December 13, after waiting since August on a letter from his landlord showing he had legal occupancy of the building—an application requirement even though he had an operating medical dispensary under the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) system licensed by the city of Beaverton as a medical marijuana dispensary. He has still not gotten an appointment for an inspection walk-through, the last step before licensing. In fact, he may have fallen further back in line, according to his most recent conversation with OLCC.

Mathews emailed OLCC for the status of his application on December 21. They responded, telling him he was 10th in line. Anxious about the looming deadline, he emailed again December 27, and found he was still 10thin line. Finally, he checked on January 4 and found he was now further back in line,  suspiciously moved to 15th!

“It’s frustrating,” Mathews told Oregon Cannabis Connection (OCC). “I have met all the requirements, I took the Metrc training, and I’m just waiting for an inspection.”

He has been given no timeline, either. “They told me to call back next week and they will tell me where I am at then.

Washington and black market benefit

Martin Nickerson simply closed his McMinnville, Oregon, dispensary doors at Ocean Grown Cannabis Company. He knew it was a pointless endeavor to try and operate when the vast majority of his customer base was forced to shop elsewhere—which he knows means Washington state. Originally from Washington, Nickerson understands the market there and has even been told by his customers that’s where they are willing to go.

“We’ve shut down until we get our OLCC license,” Nickerson told OCC.
The county was holding up his Land Use Statement, or LUCS, which is a required part of the application. They received the LUCS January 4, the day we spoke with him. The OLCC now has a completed application and he is awaiting inspection.“The dispensary was being hit so hard on loss of product. We were watching customers go right to the black market or they are going right across the border to Washington,” Nickerson explained. “If you go across the border to Washington … they’ve got 50 different kinds of concentrates from $18.00 to $24.00 a gram. I have had customers tell me if it’s that much cheaper and there’s that much selection and accessibility to product, it’s worth the drive.”

“I want to see them helping us and not hurting us. If we could just work together and talk,” Nickerson said. “I appreciate the work they put in and all the time and effort that has gone into legalizing marijuana in Oregon, but they should be asking the cannabis community ‘what should we do here?’, you know?”

“We are trying to beat the black market and I am right here with the state to help them every step of the way but, boy, I hope they start to listen a little bit,” explained Nickerson.

Tax losses are huge already

The 420 Club in the City of Roseburg, Oregon, was the first licensed marijuana dispensary located in Douglas County, a county that still bans cannabis businesses due to a commission-imposed ban ordinance. The attempted repeal attempt failed in November 2016. Roseburg, however, has allowed dispensaries since 420 Club opened on November 6, 2014, and recreational sales eventually were allowed, too. One of the selling points for recreational cannabis to the city of Roseburg and an main argument for lifting the ban in the county was the tax benefits.

Four dispensaries were operating in Roseburg and 420 Club alone was contributing $18,000 in tax to the Oregon Department of Revenue every month, but that changed in October with the shortage of concentrates and edibles, and in some cases flower, for a few weeks.

“For the last two months we have collected $10,000 per month in taxes, but in the previous year we were collecting about $18,000 a month,” explained Hoyt. “As soon as the state started messing with the testing [on October 1, 2016], our sales dropped 40%.”

“However, now we aren’t collecting any taxes because of not being issued our license yet,” he told us. “We’re obviously not collecting anything for the state in taxes.”

They started their application process at the beginning of December and have faced delays similar to what other dispensaries have encountered. They submitted their application somewhat late because they had very low inventory and nothing available due to the testing backlog and timing of that with harvest. The same timing happened all across the state as dispensaries struggled to stock their shelves before the switch to OLCC retail sales.

“They did all the testing changes at harvest time, and that’s something you just don’t do because everybody and their brother has herb to be tested,” Hoyt pointed out. “That was just the wrong time to do what they did.”

It’s a widespread problem

“This was a completely avoidable disaster,” explained Casey Houlihan of the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association. “Several agencies dropped the ball and are now pointing fingers at one another, while our industry grinds to a halt. Scores of shops are scaling back employee hours, forced to turn away would-be customers because they are stuck waiting for a rubber stamp.”

The association has been working to help  cannabis businesses in Oregon negotiate policy issues. Their membership includes about 120 businesses and 65 dispensaries. They have provided guidance and input to legislators and administrators over the past few years in an attempt to prevent onerous rules and stifling regulations from being placed on the industry. They continue to address problems and suggest solutions to rulemakers and legislators.

“This was not the legislature’s intent when they passed ‘early sales’ [SB 460] in 2015,” Houlihan said. “The Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association is doing everything we can to develop and organize for a solution to the current crisis, and we are working with policymakers to help make that happen.”

The number of licensed cannabis OLCC retailers (dispensaries) in Oregon as of December 30, 2016, was 216, according to the OLCC website information atwww.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana. Of those only 178 have active licenses. 314 medical marijuana dispensaries remain on the OHA list, which is can be found athttp://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/. on their website. Rob Patridge, OLCC Chairman, told OCC that as of January 4, 257 applications have been approved.

Is there a solution?

The deadline was put in place by statute, so  legislative action would be required to change it. But the problem is immediate and serious, so waiting for the legislature to take care of this is no solution at all. Unfortunately, it appears that is a major roadblock.
“OLCC remains committed to expediting late filing applications and has been taking steps throughout the year to facilitate a quick transition, including working directly with applicants to complete their applications. Applicants can speed up the process by inventorying their products and completing their Inventory Transfer Requests. The December 31 deadline cannot be changed without legislative action since it is in statute. The deadline has been in place for 17 months, starting on July 27, 2015, when SB 450 became effective. The OLCC has been accepting applications for a year and retailers that applied and were ready have been approved through the OLCC’s expedited process. As of yesterday, 257 retail licenses have been approved and staff expects more to be approved shortly as applications are completed.”Patridge explained:

We also reached out to Rep. Ann Lininger, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Marijuana, but received no response.

The reasons for delays are numerous and many have been forced by local regulations, inattentive landlords, rules changes and myriad reasons other than procrastination. If they have already paid the application fee and are already a licensed dispensary under the OHA, is there no way to allow them to continue to operate?

Let’s hope a solution can be revealed sooner rather than later.

© 2016 Oregon Cannabis Connection.

NWCC Monday Night Sesh

5Here is an article by 420 Culture about NW Cannabis Club and The Monday Night Sesh!

NWCC Monday Night Sesh

An old crow sits atop the sign that says NWCC – Northwest Cannabis Club – a rustic venue off of Powell in downtown Portland, OR. At first glance you may assume it’s another dispensary or headshop, however it is so much more! The NWCC has opened it’s doors to the cannabis community to create an environment where the culture can thrive, the community can network & businesses can grow with exposure. Every Monday night they host the “Monday Night Sesh” – several vendors set up & showcase / sample out products while heady glass collectors from around the world come together to sesh and show off. 

Join us for Monday Night Sesh

Every week NWCC is the host of the Monday Night Sesh, a gathering that brings the community together for an evening of smoking & networking. The venue is in the heart of Portland, OR. – 1195 SE Powell blvd. – a central location for the Oregon community. The club offers a sanctuary for dabbers and weed tokers to enjoy their products in a safe, private environment. Legalities prevent any cannabis products from being sold on the premises, the best bet is to come prepared with your own stash. Occasionally local extract companies or dispensaries will set up as vendors for the sesh & sample out products for free.

The Monday Night Sesh attracts a “heady” crowd of glass collectors & enthusiasts. When you first walk into the club you’re greeted by the friendly staff, once they get you taken care of you’ll have free range of the dab bar & the downstairs lounge.  On any given week during the sesh you can find over $50,000 in functional glass that people are passing around in the downstairs lounge. You can also find a pool table, foosball and a flatscreen TV in the lounge.

Come on down to the NW Cannabis Club and see what it’s all about for yourself. A lifetime membership will cost $20, this will give you the ability to use the club as a social venue for a $5 daily fee. The membership allows the club to operate as a private venue, which is an essential part of providing the community with a safe sanctuary.

Every few weeks we try to make it down to partake in the terpiness, hang out with some friends & network with new potential clients. We always bring our cameras & capture epic moments so we can share the experience with you & everyone else. Enjoy these photos from previous Monday Night Sessions :

57

Four Years After Legal Weed, Seattle’s Black Market Still Thrives

web1_copy_160914-sea-cvrwebMeet the dealers, buyers, and patients ducking the 502 shops.

  •  Wed Sep 21st, 2016 1:30amWhen I first met Steven, it was in the wee hours at a downtown hotel. The small afterparty he was hosting was in celebration of a successful deal—a very successful one: He’d just connected an out-of-state buyer with 25 pounds of pot—for $35,000 or so—meaning he’d be seeing a significant finder’s fee, perhaps 10 percent. The next day he’d be waking at the crack of noon (or, if we’re honest, 2 p.m.) to head to Oregon in search of more product for his mystery buyer, but for the time being he and his boys were cracking Stellas and cavorting in the hot tub, reveling in the moment.Steven is what can best be described as a broker, someone who connects illicit growers with higher-level dealers looking to buy in quantity. “I’m like a concierge,” he told me. “I take [buyers] out to dinner, make sure they have a good time.” After food and some drinks, he hooks them up with local suppliers, lets them make their exchange, and waits for his fee.

    In Washington, getting rid of people like Steven and his clients was one of the major promises of I-502, the ballot measure that made the state the second in the nation to legalize marijuana. But nearly four years after the initiative passed, street dealers and interstate traffickers are still at it, leaving lawmakers and legal-cannabis-industry players alike scratching their heads (and blowing smoke out their ears).

    It’s difficult to determine just how much of the cannabis industry the black market commands. Some groups have tried, including BOTEC Analysis, the state’s go-to research contractor. In a 2015 report, entitled “Estimating the Size of the Medical Cannabis Market in Washington State,” BOTEC put the black market’s share of the total pot pie at about 30 percent, or $1.33 billion. To arrive at this figure, BOTEC started with an existing RAND Corporation study of the state’s overall cannabis market, then subtracted the state’s recreational and medical markets. The remainder, they concluded, was what was left to the illicit market.

    BOTEC itself noted in its report that the true figure could be far higher or lower than its estimate, given the very nature of the black market. That said, few researchers attempting to gauge the black market in Washington have bothered talking to dealers and buyers themselves. To be fair, it’s not as though there’s a stall at Pike Place Market. But it ain’t exactly hidden either. While I wasn’t able to get El Chapo on the phone, I have managed to chat with some of our city’s friendly local black marketeers. Here are their stories.

    STEVEN

    Steven’s business is built around a simple fact about legal cannabis grown in Washington and Oregon: Once it’s shipped to states where pot is still illegal, it fetches an exorbitant price—like $3,500 per pound, says Steven, compared to around $1,400 here in Washington.

    Indeed, he says, many of the black-market growers he deals with are actually involved in the 502 industry but, motivated by those jaw-dropping return rates, maintain “side houses” as an extra means of revenue. “A lot of 502 people have a secret house they grow at,” he says. “My guy, he got some contract with [a 502 retail shop]. I think he gets like $250,000 a year or something.” Still, he sells on the side, substantially padding his income.

That said, in considering the intractability of the black market, one cannot overlook local demand. Our state’s legal cannabis businesses would not be nearly as up-in-arms over the black market if it were only serving smokers in other states. But it’s not. “It’s still definitely cheaper,” Steven says. “I would say the price is still $20 an eighth street level if you have a good dealer. If you were going to Uncle Ike’s, it’s still going to be $30 on the low side, and I think the quality isn’t going to be that much different. They’re definitely going to have way more selection, but I think most people are like, ‘For the price, I’d rather just buy from a drug dealer.’ ”

He also notes that, price considerations aside, ease of access is also a big deal. “If you’ve got to drive 15 minutes to 20 minutes through traffic to go to a store, as opposed to your local neighborhood guy, you’re probably still gonna go to that guy,” he says. “More than anything, the competition from the black market would be these gray-area delivery services. It might only be $5 more, but it’s like ‘All right, I can get this shit now.’ That’s a huge part of why the black market will still exist: the convenience factor. It’s the on-demand generation.”

BART AND JARED

On that note, meet Bart, a local grower and dealer who uses his small basement grow to support his artistic ambitions. He grows about a pound of high-quality indoor pot a month, and sells it in small quantities to a close circle of trusted longtime buyers. Legalization, he says, hasn’t changed much for him, including prices.

“Prices were kind of going down before legalization,” he says. “Ounces were around $200, and now they’re around the $150 range, depending on quality. I charge $160 because I think I deserve it. But that price was pretty much established before legalization. It wasn’t like [legalization] changed it or brought it down.” Reminded that Uncle Ike’s sells ounces for $99, he points out that you can’t unlink the price from the product itself, suggesting that those $99 ounces are nowhere near his product in quality. “If the price meets the quality in the shops,” he notes, “it’ll be hard to compete with that.”

For now, he has no trouble getting rid of his monthly pound. He even occasionally takes on new clients, though he doesn’t need to to sell out his supply. “If I had my ultimate grow, hypothetically, I’m sure I could start doing, like, pounds a week easy,” he says. “I would just have to be more proactive about it, y’know? Like I kind of stopped doing deliveries. I would have to go back into delivering. I’d probably start talking to other wholesale dealers.” Bart’s experience with delivery neatly illustrates Steven’s point about the power of access. “When I’m not delivering,” Bart says,” I probably lose like 40 percent of my customers.”

Indeed, Jared, a former black-market grower turned regular old black-market customer, says delivery was a big part of why he’s continued to buy from the black market. Price is a factor—the “homie hook-up” prices Jared quotes are, quite frankly, insane: $70 an ounce and $30 for a gram of concentrate—but he’s quick to point out that convenience is a major factor. “My first choice is always gonna be my dude,” he says, “because I know it’s gonna be a little cheaper and he will deliver to me. I could be at work, at my door post [he does club security], and he’ll deliver it to me.” He notes that one of the few reasons he’s had to visit a recreational store was when his dealer was over an hour out and he needed weed in a hurry.

MARIA

Along with price and convenience, another factor pushing people into the black market is Washington’s recent medical-marijuana law, the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052).
SB 5052 folded the state’s loosely regulated medical-marijuana system into the recreational one, mandating that the state’s medical dispensaries obtain I-502 licenses or close. Based on that BOTEC report, the state decided to license 222 new retail outlets, theoretically offering those licenses to established players from the medical-marijuana industry to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of their patients.

However, many contend that those 222 licenses represent a small fraction of the total medical-marijuana market, and that many recipients weren’t as interested in serving patients as in taking their money. In July, as the new system went into place, patients cried bloody murder, saying that their trusted suppliers had been ripped away and suggesting that the move would eliminate affordable medicine, forcing sick people to get their green on the black market—and by extension incentivizing those suppliers who didn’t obtain recreational licenses to go back underground.

Suppliers like Maria. She operated a dispensary in western Washington prior to the implementation of SB 5052. After her attempts to get a license failed, Maria gave up on pot, at least publicly. However, I recently attended an “Ice Cream Social” at her former storefront, now converted to something of a hangout for her patients.

As a bunch of friendly suburbanites—some of whom brought their kids—passed around infused brownies a la mode, Maria stepped frequently into her office for what she called “the other party”: providing the rest of her inventory to patients desperately seeking cheap medicine. One older gentleman, arriving early, made small talk with Maria, then got right to the point. He didn’t need any ice cream.

“So when should I come back?” he asked. Another, upon arriving, cupped a hand over his mouth and asked, “Where’s the product?” Though the scene was aggressively tame, this was technically a black-market deal. One patient picked up what in a retail store would have been $380 worth of flowers, kief, and edibles. Maria hooked him up for $180.
Trent said he bought all his weed on the black market since the new law passed. “What are we to do?” he asked. “It’s inhumane for anyone to deny us anything that medically benefits us.” He’d tried the rec store, he said, but they didn’t have the right strains and the prices were way too high. Maria, however, still had some of the particular high-THC indica that worked to calm his PTSD without putting him to sleep.

And that, more than money, was what drove Maria to host her polite little party. “There’s nothing out there for patients, there’s nothing on the shelves [at the recreational stores],” she complains. “There’s a lot of risk right now, but I’m willing to take that risk because patients need their medicine.”

THE ECONOMIST

So if eradicating the black market—at least locally—is a desired outcome of legal cannabis, how does one untangle this ball of Christmas lights? According to Beau Whitney, who runs the cannabis-industry consulting firm Whitney Economics, the answer is reducing regulation. Doing so, he contends, will allow cannabis businesses the necessary flexibility to fill the slots the black market is currently filling.

Essentially, if the legal industry meets the needs of the black market’s varied clientele—the ones who want good, cheap weed; the cancer patients seeking affordable medicine; the guy too lazy to get off his couch and go to the store—there’s no need for a black market. Of all those needs, says Whitney, price is key. “If you bring the price of retail cannabis more in line with the street price, it’ll make a huge dent into the black-market activities,” he says. Whitney has a stake in an Oregon cannabis producer and retailer, and says that at one point they offered a loss-leader special to win over new customers.

“We heard from black marketeers that they were pissed off at our pricing because we were competing directly with them,” he says. “Word on the street was that we had made a big dent. Because of the price sensitivity, we saw a surge in demand at our dispensary.”

Whitney notes that a larger black market means more cannabis arrests and a statistically larger impact on communities of color, as they tend to be arrested for cannabis crimes at a disproportionate rate (though said crimes are committed with the same frequency by white people). “This is not something that can just be ignored by the legislature, this is a public-safety issue,” he says. “There’s all sorts of social costs that are incurred as a result. Increased law-enforcement costs, increased incarceration. It’s typically skewed more towards minorities. There’s a huge social cost to this; it’s hard to quantify, but it’s significant.”

THE COP

That said, in Seattle there hasn’t exactly been a harsh crackdown on the black market. You can still buy a dime bag in the Jack in the Box parking lot on The Ave, and no one has kicked down Bart’s basement door just yet. Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, the Seattle Police Department’s spokesperson, says that is likely because the department’s primary focus is elsewhere. “There’s three areas where we’re not going to compromise [on pot]: selling to kids, for one; big-profit growing, for two; and driving under the influence,” he says. “If you’re engaged in that activity, don’t think that just because the laws have changed that we’re going to prioritize those any less. We’re very motivated to ensure that those laws aren’t broken.”

However, your average street dealer, provided he or she supplies only grown-ups, has little to fear. To wit, Whitcomb was walking to a bus stop one night when he himself was propositioned with pot. “I said ‘No, thanks,’ ” he tells me. “He was like, ‘No, man, listen, it’s a great price.’ I said, ‘Listen, I’m a police officer, and you’re not allowed to be selling marijuana, that’s a fact.’ He says to me, ‘Well, it’s legal here, man!’ ”

Statistics show an overall reduction in cannabis arrests in legal states, though the racial disparities among those arrests are still stark. However, that doesn’t mean there’s not still risk for black marketeers. For one, homegrows are still an action item in certain circumstances, according to Whitcomb. For example, a break-in at a children’s bookstore in North Seattle led police through a hole in the wall to a large indoor marijuana grow.

“The one that we’re truly interested in is the large-scale illegal-grow operations,” says Whitcomb. “Those are still prevalent in Seattle, and we do come across those with a degree of frequency.”

THE LAWMAKERS

In the last legislative session, State Rep. Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw) proposed a bill to lower the excise tax for cannabis to 25 percent. An economic model he assembled in support of his bill estimated that the state would stand to gain a whopping $1.085 billion by lowering the tax. Hurst wasn’t proposing that the state issue new retail licenses, but his plan did call on the state to override any cannabusiness bans and moratoriums implemented by local municipalities, ensuring that no area of the state would provide a legal-cannabis dead zone for black marketeers to flourish in. (Steven did indeed mention that though the black market has no trouble competing here in Seattle, many black-market actors have migrated to areas with no legal pot businesses to profit off the captive audience.)

As Whitney, the economist, noted, lowering taxes during a budget deficit is always a hard sell, and indeed Hurst’s bill ultimately failed. While Hurst’s own analysis suggested lowering taxes would increase state revenue, an independent state analysis suggested otherwise. Hurst’s info sheet for the bill included a plea for fellow legislators to think past the fiscal note, which showed a $43 million loss in tax revenue, but the bill failed.

Defeat aside, though, Whitney says Hurst was on to something. “Once you bring in more people, reduce the taxes, and reduce the regulatory burdens, then you can drive down costs and do massive production,” he concludes. “Then you can drive out the black market because their onesie, twosie production can’t compete on price.”

Steven puts it more directly. There will always be a black market, he says, “until it’s like a pack of cigarettes and you can just walk into the corner store and get it. That’s when drug dealers will finally be gone.”

Cannabis Found to Shield the Brain from Alzheimer’s Disease

compounds-in-cannabis-could-be-used-to-treat-alzheimer-s-685214

Bad news for Alzheimer’s disease: THC (the active chemical compound in marijuana) is officially acknowledged to remove the toxic bundle of amyloid beta protein that onsets the evolution of the disease, ultimately damaging the brain beyond repair.

This late discovery is backed up by previous studies revealing the effective and protective qualities of cannabinoids and THC over patients suffering from this neurodegenerative disease.

Little is known about what exactly causes Alzheimer’ disease, but so far it’s believed to be caused by two types of lesions: neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques. The amyloid plaques form dense groups between the neurons, and the neurofibrillary tangles are produced by defective tau proteins that bundle up into a thick, insoluble mass in neurons.

The biological mechanism behind the formation of these lesions is yet a mystery, but recent studies have linked the inflammation in brain tissue to the spread of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” said Antonio Currais, member of Scripps Research Institute.

When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying,” he concluded.

David Schubert and his colleagues from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, tested the impact of THC over the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” said David Schubert.

For those unfamiliar with THC, this compound is responsible for the psychedelic effects and pain relief experienced as a result of smoking or ingesting cannabis buds. It is important to know that cannabis does not offer the state of mind and/or body high if consumed raw, requiring heat to release the THC that gives that unique tingling. Besides all these, most important is THC’s influence over HIV symptoms, chronic pain related to chemotherapy, post-traumatic stress disorder and stroke.

Scientists are so impressed with THC’s therapeutic properties that they initiated a program to breed genetically modified yeast that would yield more THC than any other method of synthesizing the compound.

On the cell surfaces all over our body can be found the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors that extract the THC directly from the bloodstream, after it passes from the lungs. In the brain, the cannabinoid receptors are found in the neurons associated with time perception, coordination, memory, thinking and pleasure, regularly binding with endocannabinoids, known to be a class of lipid molecules created by our organism during physical activities, in order to stimulate cell-to-cell signaling in the brain.

Due to tetrahydrocannabinol’s tendency to bind to lipid molecues, it interferes with brain’s ability to communicate with itself. This means that you may not be able to fully perform complex physical actitivites, but your state of mind could be at its fullest, compensating one for another.

Since THC is great for removing the harmful accumulations of amyloid beta proteins, this could mean something big for most, if not all the symptoms related to aging. So far, THC has proved itself to be very promising in reducing inflammation and plaque build-up, according to newest lab test results.

However, the government is still getting in the way of progress, despite cannabis’s potential has been clearly proved and confirmed, so the good news are that the researchers have found a backdoor in the form of a new drug called J147 that mimics identically the effects of THC, that will allow conducting further research for the sake of humanity and well-being.

The results of the study can be found HERE.

Illegal Dealers Owe Thanks to Washington State’s Marijuana Regulators

| June 14, 2016

washingtonstatecapitol2

The state’s doomed scheme for a centrally planned market in pot creates a breeding ground for a completely unplanned and illegal market in the stuff.

Washington state voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 and the first retail store opened in 2014 in a popular move widely hailed as a success for reform. So how come the authorities are moving to close a pot shops across the state in just a few weeks? Are they actually trying to revive the black market in pot?

Probably not. More likely, political hubris and managerial ambition have overwhelmed basic knowledge of how economic incentives work.

Tacoma ranks among the municipalities where new licensing regulations will have a major impact on the marijuana market, potentially inconveniencing consumers and creating a huge opening for those willing to work outside official channels.

“Last August, there were close to 70 unlicensed operators in Tacoma,” noted The News Tribune last week. But a 2015 law merged the medical and recreational markets and required all vendors to be licensed—with a strict cap on the number of permitted retailers. “Tacoma is limited by the state to 16 retail licenses, and a recent city ordinance requires every retail operator to also get a medical endorsement to provide for those with medicinal needs,” the article added.

So, let me get this straight. A market that sustained 70 businesses will be adequately served by 16 after the rest are closed by government order? That’s the official story, and politicians and bureaucrats are sticking to it.

Statewide, “the former retail store cap of 334 was lifted to a new cap of 556. The recommendation followed an analysis of the entire marijuana marketplace by the state’s contracted research organization, BOTEC Analysis Corporation,” according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

“We illustrate the methods and tools for two particular target numbers of stores statewide: 200 and 330, BOTEC noted in a 2013 report before the recent legal change. Still, the company hedged its bets. “[B]ut we do not necessarily endorse either as the ‘correct’ number.”

Washington’s “current grow canopy license limits are sufficient to supply both the recreational and MMJ markets” the University of Washington’s Cannabis Law and Policy Projected predicted separately. The group also hedges and notes “we defer to WSLCB to make that determination.”

That’s right. A quarter-century after the Soviet Union did a face-plant into the ash heap of history, Washington state officials are trying to centrally plan the market for marijuana.

This sort of micromanaged legal-but-only-sort-of market is a characteristic of state officials who were forced to change the law by voters and not as a matter of their own preferences. To carefully control the implementation of the voters’ will, they brought in a consultant who perfectly reflected their reluctance: public policy professor Mark Kleiman. Kleiman is a sort of middle-way type on the marijuana issue, favoring legal reform out of conviction that full prohibition has been counter-productive—not as a weed cheerleader or out of a commitment to personal choice.

“The free market is an excellent system for maximizing consumption. That’s why I don’t want it to apply to this product,” he told an interviewer an interviewer at UCLA where he worked before moving to New York University. “I wouldn’t want that system for alcohol either, but we lost that battle.”

In the same interview, he expressed a preference for state stores, non-profit vendors, and high prices that would make marijuana available, but not cheap or convenient.

Kleiman, by the way, is the head of BOTEC Analysis.

I’ll note here that Kleiman is a tad prickly and has tangled with Reason’s Jacob Sullum over marijuana issues, even when they are in general agreement.

But black market dealers don’t appear just because marijuana—or anything else—is technically outlawed; they arise when restrictions drive prices up, restrict availability, or both, and leave an opening for vendors willing to flout the law to satisfy demand. Eric Garner was killed by New York City cops in a confrontation rooted in his sale of loosies—loose cigarettes—in defiance of state and city tax rules. Cigarettes are legal, but so heavily taxed and restricted as to invite illegal dealers to enter the market and make a buck.

As a former dope dealer myself, I can say with a fair degree of confidence that severely restricting the availability of “legal” marijuana (and otherwise jacking the price with a 37 percent excise tax) creates a wonderful opportunity for black market dealers. Even before the latest change, Washington’s underground economy in marijuana was thriving despite its nominally legal status.

BOTEC’s reports for the state fully acknowledges the existence of the black market. Kleiman and company’s latest submission grants that the scope of illicit sales is not entirely knowable and “the feasible range covers as low as $60 million and as high as $740 million.” In fact, “Due to the considerable amount of uncertainty in the estimation process, as well as the rapidly changing nature of cannabis markets in Washington at present, it is valuable to reference feasible ranges rather than a single point estimate.” That is, the whole marijuana market is too dynamic and in flux to get a firm handle on its size.

So, with “rapidly changing” markets, how do you predict, as a central planner, “sufficient” production capacity? Or the magic number of retail outlets to satisfy demand?

The answer is that you can’t. Central planners can never respond to shifting supply and demand as quickly as buyers and vendors can in their multitude of independent transactions. That’s why central planning failed in the old Soviet Union, and why it can’t any more effectively serve the trade in marijuana in one state. And unable to satisfy buyers, it will inevitably leave room for sellers who don’t care what officials think ought to be.

Washington’s impossible scheme for a centrally planned market in marijuana creates a breeding ground for a completely unplanned and illegal market in the stuff.

Tourism trends: Will travel for food, wellness and weed

traveltypes1_0603-1020x680By Anne Bauso June 3, 2016

More travelers are focusing their trips around these three themes, rather than traditional sights.

It seems business or pleasure are the only options travelers are given when defining the reasoning behind their trips, but motivations for travel aren’t always so crystal clear.

In fact, more and more travelers are going on pilgrimages to very specific destinations for reasons that don’t fall into the classic brackets of beach-laying, sight-seeing or work-trip. Here are three booming forms of tourism.

FOOD TOURISM

Pop quiz time! Have you obsessively documented a trip by dutifully Instagramming every beautifully presented quince tart tatin, honey-drizzled fried-chicken platter or salty-egg-topped papaya salad you’ve encountered?

Have you ever decided where to vacation based, at least partially, on the area’s local cuisine, or eateries and nightlife?

Then you might just be part of the growing sector of travelers known as “food tourists.” When deciding where to go for their next trip, travelers are increasingly factoring in a potential destination’s food and drink scene — whether it’s the local restaurants, food trucks and bars, or the nearby farms and markets, food artisans, vineyards and breweries. Hard-core food and vino lovers are often more interested in exploring a city or region’s gastronomic offerings than they are in the area’s natural or non-food-based cultural attractions.

tourismtypes5_0603-780x1080A merchant bags green beans at one of the many food markets in Barcelona, Spain. (Davide Camesasca/The New York Times)

Travelers on food sabbaticals might be set on sampling Sazeracs and muffelatas in New Orleans, going on a mission to find the best Key lime pie in Southern Florida or navigating backwoods highways in Quebec to come across a classic Canadian roadside sugar shack.

According to a 2015 report published by the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA) and Skift, a travel news site, “In 2012, it was estimated that tourism expenditures on food services in the U.S. topped $201 billion, nearly a quarter of all travel income.” Because, honestly, show us the traveler who doesn’t want to eat and drink their way through a vacation.

WELLNESS TOURISM

Yoga retreats, spa getaways and other healing-focused trips may sound like a New Age fad, but humans have been going on health-driven vacations for millennia (think ancient Romans traveling to mineral baths, or sun-starved Victorians flocking to Mediterranean climes on doctors’ orders).

These days, wellness tourism is a nearly $500-billion-a-year industry, and it’s estimated to grow to $680 billion by 2017. “Wellness travel is one of the fastest growing — if not the fastest growing — tourism categories today,” says Beth McGroarty, research director at the Global Wellness Institute. GWI defines wellness tourism as “all travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal well-being, whether physical, mental, environmental or spiritual.” It’s a definition that McGroarty says is “willfully broad, because it spans many kinds of travel: destination spas, health and wellness resorts, fitness- or adventure-focused travel (like hiking, water sports and cycling), hot springs and wellness cruises. Even mainstream hotels — almost all the big brands from Westin to the Four Seasons — are adding more health and fitness programming.”

traveltypes4_0603-780x467Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah, offers swimming, yoga, hiking and biking treks.

Tracey Welch, general manager at Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah, says that most of the luxury retreat’s guests are in search of “healthy stress reduction, through reconnecting with nature and increased physical activity.” Many of Red Mountain’s guests want to immerse themselves in the stunning American Southwest surroundings, so the resort offers hiking and biking treks through Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

On the more extreme end of the fitness spectrum is The Ashram, a Calabasas, Calif., wellness resort with pre-dawn wake-up calls and required 10- to 15-mile morning hikes. It’s not “ten-hut!” all the time: Guests get a daily massage before diving into an afternoon agenda of pool, weight and barre classes. Meals are totally organic, gluten-free and vegetarian (and alcohol-less!), with many ingredients coming from the Ashram’s own garden. Definitely not a cushy, mai-tai-by-the-pool experience — but there’s a six-month waiting list.

“Most of our guests come here to stop the clock and reset their body, mind and soul,” says director Catharina Hedburg.

While these well-being-centric resorts are certainly in line with the healthy living movement, McGroarty is positive that “wellness tourism is far more than a passing trend. In the coming years, the concept will increasingly reshape tourism — and how people perceive what they want to get out of travel — as we’ve known it.”

traveltypes2_0603-1020x680Pot tourists can visit Seattle, Portland or Denver and go on tours that visit shops and nurseries like this one.

MARIJUANA TOURISM

Cannabis vacay, anyone? (All in favor, say “high!” Sorry, couldn’t resist.) In recent years, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska have legalized recreational marijuana and, as a result, these states are seeing a blaze of pot tourism.

Grass fanatics from all over the country are heading west to visit marijuana dispensaries and other cannabusinesses, go on canna “bus” tours to see local grow operations and other 420 facilities, take edibles cooking classes and even stay in “bud and breakfasts,” which are weed-friendly inns and hotels that allow smoking on the premises.

Those looking to combine wellness and marijuana tourism could consider Kush Tourism, a Seattle-based cannabis tour operator that offers tours in several states, including those that include cannabis massages and biking.

A warning, though, to hash-happy travelers: While recreational marijuana in these states is legal, public consumption of it is not. Here’s to your next — yes — trip.

 

Here’s What Marijuana Does to Broken Bones

hands-xray

Fracture a joint? Smoke a joint. Or at least that’s what researchers from Tel Aviv University have suggested after studying the effects of marijuana on broken bones.

A new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research last week says that a component of marijuana known as cannabidiol (CBD) “significantly helps heal bone fractures” by speeding up the process. It also strengthens bones, protecting them against future injuries.

This research could lead to new treatment options for people suffering from certain bone-related diseases, including osteoporosis, which causes 8.9 million fractures annually across the world, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

The team of researchers at Tel Aviv University tested the effect of THC and CBD separately on rat subjects, discovering a connection between our bodies’ cannabinoid receptors and bone growth stimulation.

“We only respond to cannabis because we are built with intrinsic compounds and receptors that can also be activated by compounds in the cannabis plant,” one researched commented in a press release from Tel Aviv University.

“The clinical potential of cannabinoid-related compounds is simply undeniable at this point,” Dr. Yankel Gabet of Tel Aviv’s Bone Research Laboratory told the Times of Israel. “While there is still a lot of work to be done to develop appropriate therapies, it is clear that it is possible to detach a clinic therapy objective from the psychoactivity of cannabis.”

That is, marijuana rich in CBD can treat certain ailments such as bone disease, but it does not necessarily have to get you high to serve that medical function. Unlike THC—the component of cannabis with the most distinct psychoactive properties—CBD is associated with reduced psychoactivity, which makes it an ideal option for those who require daily treatment regimens.

“After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future,” Gabet continued. “Other studies have also shown CBD to be a safe agent, which leads us to believe we should continue this line of study in clinical trials to assess its usefulness in improving human fracture healing.”

Other accepted medical uses of CBD include the treatment of chronic pain, epilepsy, and neuropathic pain caused by Multiple Sclerosis.

By: Kyle Jaeger

BBQ Season Is Here! Here’s How You Smoke Cannabis-Infused Pork Ribs

imgBy Rick Bakas

Smoking pork ribs really isn’t that hard. Search Google for smoking pork ribs and you’ll find an endless amount of forums where people claim their ribs are competition worthy, and superior to the rest. Really it just comes down to seasoning, cooking slow and low and finishing sauce if desired.

True pit masters swear by using real wood, preferably dry aged real wood to smoke their meats. But most of us aren’t true pit masters. We just want to make a rack or two for our family or friends.

Being a lover of smoking and BBQ, it was high time to start testing out some different techniques to infuse my favorite smoked meats with a gentle lift of THC. Since I rub most of my meats with olive oil before seasoning, it was a logical step to use cannabis-infused olive oil instead.

d8e4f2947044b1c0449cd13604a5fed59fdbcaa0ec7919e168972529ba7da83a

VIA LESMOUTONSENRAGES

One of the benefits of doing that is the oil gently cooks into the fibers of the meat. But it also gives a hint of herb flavor that can best be described as rosemary, which is the herb I used to add to my dry rubs.

The reason for becoming a pellet grill convert is because of the most important part of successfully smoking ribs—you have to control your heat over a long period of time. I was going to go with the Traeger pellet grill because that’s the brand I associate with pellet grills.

However, upon further investigation I found Traegers tend to have jamming problems where the pellets won’t load automatically. That could be a manufacturing thing that has since been corrected.

Then I came across the Camp Chef while searching for good quality, low cost grills. The two things I liked about it were (1) The temperature dial can be set to any temperature (not just high or low), and (2) There are two temperature sensors. One reads the temp inside the grill. The other is a probe you can put in the meat. That’s about as foolproof as you can get. Not many smokers have a probe to measure the internal temperature of smoking meat. That’s a big deal. And Camp Chef is based in Oregon where weed is legal, so there’s that :).

1. Start with Pork Spare Ribs

Not the baby backs, go with the Spare Ribs, which are St. Louis style with the breast bone cut off. Trim them up nicely so they look good around the edges, and make sure to trim off loose pieces of fat. Spare ribs are big and they are filling. I find they lend themselves nicely to the pellet smoker.

980x6

2. Turn on Camp Chef to 275°

Fill the grill with pellets of your choice. I find Hickory flavor to be a bit too strong for pork, so a combination of Mesquite and a fruit wood like cherry or apple are a good way to go.

980x7

3. Season with cannabis olive oil and seasoning

Coat both sides of the ribs with a thin layer of cannabis-infused olive oil. That’ll help keep the seasoning stuck on. It’ll also gently cook into the meat providing a gentle dose of good vibes. Use whatever seasoning you like. I like to use a Texas style seasoning called Hard 8 that I mail order from a smoke house in Dallas. It’s basically salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. I like to mix in a little paprika because it gives the ribs a reddish color during the smoke.

When applying the seasoning, sprinkle the seasoning from a seasoning container about 24″ above the ribs. That way the seasoning will distribute evenly and create a sexy looking rack when finished. Make it rain goodness up in there.

980x8980x9

4. Smoke Ribs for 30 Minutes at 275°

A lot of people do the 3-2-1 thing, which is fine. That’s 3 hours in the smoker, 2 hours wrapped in foil with (or without sauce), and 1 more hour out of the foil. I tweak that a bit and play to the Camp Chef’s ability to change the temperature to whatever I want. The higher temp kick starts the breaking down of fat.

5. Change Smoke Setting to ‘High Smoke’ and smoke 2 hours

The temperature will change to about 225°. You’ve rendered some of the fat at the higher temperature, now you can go slow and low with it for 2 hours or so. Pellet grills aren’t famous for imparting a heavy smoky flavor, so ‘high smoke’ actually achieves what I would consider a ‘normal’ level of smoke flavor.

6. Spritz with apple cider vinegar

Use a clean spray bottle and use it to spray a fine mist on the ribs. Sometimes I’ll season a few Tri Tips with the Hard 8 season as well. That helps keep the meat moist.

Since Tri Tips like to cook at an hour per pound at ‘High Smoke’ as well it works out nicely all this delicious meat will be done at the same time. I like to let the tri tip sit out for an hour before smoking. Season the tri tip liberally with your seasoning.

980x10

7. Sauce the ribs (extra canna-oil optional)

Using a plastic squirt bottle make a mixture of BBQ sauce and apple cider vinegar. Sometimes I do 50/50. Sometimes I’ll do 75% apple cider vinegar, and 25% BBQ sauce. You can opt to add a bit more cannabis-infused olive oil in at this stage if you’d like, but the initial dose added at the beginning should provide enough of a gentle lift.

The BBQ sauce can clog the squirt bottle, so going heavier on the vinegar will help the mixture spread evenly.

980x11980x12980x13

8. After 15 minutes wrap the ribs

Lay the foil dull side up and spritz the foil with apple cider vinegar where the meat will touch. Put the ribs sauce side down in the foil and wrap them tightly. Put back in the smoker and smoke for another 2 hours, give or take.

9. Get ready to chow down

You can unwrap the ribs and smoke them longer if you wish at 225° or ‘high smoke’. Take a toothpick and insert it into the meat between the bones to see how done they are. Smoking longer will dry the ribs out a bit and might not be necessary.

Sauce ’em if you like. Leave ’em dry if you like. There’s no wrong way to do this. I find the apple cider vinegar and BBQ sauce mixture gives enough flavor, but sauce on the side isn’t a bad idea. Take a good slicing knife and carefully cut between the bones and serve accordingly.

980x14

Extra Credit: The Tri Tip

The Tri Tip is super easy to hit out of the park. The key is starting with a good quality cut. The USDA Prime from Costco (blue styro) is butter if meat could be butter. Just rub with cannabis-infused olive oil and season on both sides then smoke one hour per pound on ‘high heat’ using Hickory if possible but if smoking with the ribs you’re probably using Mesquite and a fruit wood pellet.

That alone won’t do it. The magic happens when you heat your regular gas grill up as hot as you can get it and finish the Tri Tip by searing on high heat on each side for about 2-3 minutes. It activates the juices and gives a nice crust on the outside. Let the meat sit covered in foil for 5-10 minutes before devouring. Good Lord it’s delicious!!

980x15980x16

A NEW GROWTH INDUSTRY FOR NATIVE AMERICANS: WEED

lead_960

Alana Semuels / The Atlantic

Alana Semuels     May 20, 2016

Can cannabis revive Oregon’s long-struggling reservation economies?

WARM SPRINGS, Oregon—The tribes on this reservation, located in the high desert on the eastern side of Mt. Hood, are accustomed to bad deals. Until the 19th century, the Wasco, the Walla Walla, and the Pauite survived off of the Columbia River, catching salmon and, eventually, trading for it. Then in 1855 they were forced onto the Warm Springs Reservation. It was 80 miles from the river, but they could still go there to fish—that is, until the U.S. Government started to build the Bonneville dam on the river in the 1930s and flooded their fishing spots.By the time the Dalles Dam was finished  in the 1950s—ending all hopes of fishing the river and the economic independence it brought—the tribe had been decimated by other factors too, including the removal of children to boarding schools, and the drafting of men to the Army.Now, the reservation, which spreads over 1,000 square miles in Oregon, is one of the most economically depressed places in the state. The unemployment rate is around 20 percent, and about one-third of its residents live below the poverty line. Sadly, the circumstances of Warm Springs are familiar for many Indian reservations. Nearly 30 percent of American Indians and Alaskan Natives lived in poverty in 2014, according to Census data, which is the highest rate of any race group.

Now, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are trying to reverse that history by taking advantage of the intricacies of federal law that made them sovereign tribes with the ability to make their own rules. Between 1778 and 1871, American Indian tribes signed treaties with the federal government in which they gave up land and were granted sovereign nation status. Under the treaties, tribes have the ability to make and enforce civil and criminal laws, to zone land, and to license and regulate activities on their lands (with some exceptions in the court system).

The tribes in Warm Springs want to use that sovereign status to grow cannabis on their land and sell it off the reservation in Oregon, which in 2014 approved the use of recreational marijuana. Because the tribes are a sovereign nation, leaders say,  they will be able to start an operation quickly, without having to deal with the headaches of city, county, and state government. Recently, the tribes broke ground on a 36,000- square-foot greenhouse, and hope to get product to market by next year. Finally, after centuries of being on the bad end of deals with the government, the tribes’ status could give them a key advantage.

The idea of growing cannabis on the reservation has residents’ full-fledged support. In a referendum on whether to grow cannabis this winter, 1,252 voted for the idea, and just 198 voted against it, and turnout was high despite a snowstorm that could have kept people home.

9a0679313

A voter casts a ballot in the cannabis referendum in Warm Springs in December 2015 (Pi-ta Pitt)

“I don’t smoke but I thought it was a good idea to bring in revenue,” Tom Kalama, a tribal member and reservation resident who voted for the initiative, told me. And the tribes are in need of more money. Tribal members used to get $100 a month from the tribe, dividends from economic ventures, Kalama told me. Now they get $25. Seniors used to receive $600 a month, now they receive $300.

Tom Kalama was sitting under a canopy where his wife Jeanine was selling Indian tacos (meat or beans on frybread) to passers-by. Their sons, ages 44, 42, 41, and 35, want to work on the reservation, but it’s hard to find jobs, Kalama told me. Instead, they drive outside the reservation for work, if they can find anything close to home.

The move to start a cannabis operation could also serve as a blueprint for other tribes that have yet to figure out how to gain from their sovereign status. “We’ve yet to see tribes fully exercise their sovereignty, and I think that cannabis is strangely a lens that will demonstrate the capabilities of taking that on,” Pi-Ta Pitt, the cannabis project coordinator for Warm Springs Ventures—the tribes’ economic development arm—told me.

Sovereignty is a big deal for tribes across the country. For centuries, despite the treaties, decisions on reservations were made by people at the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, or by other state or federal agencies. Then, in 1970, Richard Nixon started to shift the federal attitude towards tribal sovereignty. The U.S. government had been controlling and subjugating the tribes for far too long, he said, in a speech to Congress. The federal government should step back, he argued, and let American Indians control their own resources.

The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 ushered in what’s known as the era of self-determination, according to Robert J. Miller, an expert on Indian law at Arizona State University. It’s taken awhile to take hold, he said. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and other agencies resisted ceding control for a long time, but the tribes are trying to be more independent now.

“Communities that call their own shots and have flexibility in making their own decisions bear the risk of failure but also reap the benefits of success,” Eric Henson, a research affiliate at the Harvard Project, told me. A series of studies by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development backs up that claim. Comparing tribes that were economically successful and those that weren’t, the studies found that tribes that make their own decisions about economic development outperform those who cede such decisions to outside agencies.

In Mississippi in the 1970s and 1980s, for instance, a tribal leader named Phillip Martin created a manufacturing hub, industrial park, and eventually a theme park, on the Mississippi Choctaw reservation, lifting the tribe from poverty to wealth. Because of his efforts, the unemployment rate on that reservation fell to around 4 percent, at a time when the rest of the nation was going through a recession. Tribal businesses employed 7,000 people at the time of Martin’s death in 2010. This was an especially remarkable feat because Martin led the tribe to self-sufficiency before the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 made it easier for tribes to operate gaming businesses in their territory.

What’s more, the tribes’ ability to call their own shots could be essential in the cannabis business, Pitt told me. Private growers might spend thousands to set up an operation somewhere and then get harassed by city or county authorities who don’t want a cannabis operation in their vicinity (the use and growth of marijuana is still illegal under federal law). The tribes also don’t pay county or state land taxes, which could give them a big financial leg up in a state like Oregon, which levies high property taxes to make up for the lack of sales tax.

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have tried other things to lift themselves out of poverty—efforts such as gaming which also takes advantage of their sovereign status—and most haven’t been successful. Warm Springs has a casino, a hotel and lodge, and, up until very recently, a timber mill (the mill went bust).The casino was far from the target market of Portland, a hilly two-hour drive away. The hotel and lodge are dated and have to compete with hundreds of other resorts closer to Portland. The timber industry has been dying for years. Marijuana, on the other hand, is a market that’s just starting up, and the outcome could be very different, tribal leaders say.

5fd343c02

Ben Bisland on the area the tribe has cleared for the greenhouses (Alana Semuels / The Atlantic)

“The tribe has really been on the decline for several years—this will be a good foothold to start climbing again,” Ben Bisland, who manages projects for Warm Springs Ventures told me, standing on the flat expanse of land under a butte that will house the greenhouse.

Nationally, it can be difficult for tribes to thrive because of the circumstances that led them to reservations in the first place. Native people were often confined to reservations with barely farmable land and with few resources. Reservations often don’t have infrastructure like broadband or railway lines that could help support industry. Overlapping jurisdictions between federal, state, and tribal entities made it difficult to get anything done. And “It’s literally been American policy to acquire all the resources and land the indigenous peoples had,” Miller, the ASU professor, said.

The gaming act has made winners out of some tribes, mostly those located close to cities who can start up casinos and attract a high volume of customers. But others, like the tribes in Warm Springs, have not found casinos to be very profitable, because their reservation is too far from big population centers. The Warm Springs tribes are situated in the perfect location to grow cannabis, though, Pitt said. There are more than 300 days of sun a year, and the reservation is close enough to easily bring product to market.

Warm Springs is not stopping at marijuana. They’re moving ahead on other economic development opportunities, too.  “Marijuana is notthe answer. It’s part of the answer,” former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, who serves on the tribes’ economic development board, told me. The tribes are trying to become a national testing site for unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, and want companies to test how to use drones to fight forest fires on the reservation. Warm Springs Ventures, the tribes’ economic development arm, recently booted a private telecom company and founded its own tribal telecom company. Its also getting into the carbon offset market. “Think about 200 years of deprivation, being driven onto the poorest land available— – you don’t overcome that with a decade of gaming,” Henson, from Harvard, told me.

But as a way to test the sovereign power of tribes and their ability to create economic development for themselves, marijuana could be a big deal. Because Oregon has approved recreational marijuana, and because it has independent tribes, the state could become a testing ground for a new industry that could replace, or supplement gaming, on reservations. This is not true in other states: Despite a 2014 Department of Justice memo that said that the federal government wouldn’t interfere with cultivation on tribal lands, state interference in South Dakota has motivated one tribe to suspend its marijuana operation, while a sheriff’s office in California raided anothergrowing operation on tribal land there. Warm Springs, for once, has been able to take control of its own business, and perhaps set a path for other tribes.

“This is something that can be an inspiration to other tribes, to be able to learn, what does sovereignty look like,” Pitt said.