I was asked by the Organic Cannabis Association (OCA) to present at their Kaleidoscope Event, which took place last Sunday in Denver at Culture Garden Market. The topic of the presentation – titled “Process Before Products” – was Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies able to employed by anyone safely, effectively, and at little to no cost, as they rely on conscientiousness and effort, rather than specific pesticide products or materials. You can view the slides from the presentation below. I’ll update this post with photos or videos if good ones arise.
Late last month, Forbes published an exposé, “This Silicon Valley Billionaire Has Secretly Been Funding Hulk Hogan’s Lawsuits Against Gawker.” For those unfamiliar with the situation, Gawker – a website that frequently skewers celebrities, politicians, and other public figures, in addition to sometimes breaking serious news – in 2012 published a sex tape of Terry Bollea, better known as the professional wrestler Hulk Hogan. Hogan subsequently sued Gawker for invasion of privacy and in March of this year was awarded $140 million in damages by a Florida jury. Even prior to the current fracas around the case generated by the Forbes article, it was discussed as one with potentially wide-ranging ramifications for journalism and free speech. This article in the New Yorker is a thoughtful rumination on such issues.
The Forbes article revealed that Peter Thiel, famously a co-founder of Paypal and the first outside investor in Facebook, where he still holds a board seat, had clandestinely been providing financial support to fund the case to the tune of about $10 million, according to the billionaire himself. Thiel’s motivations were not due to a particular affection or connection to Bollea. The prevailing story is that Thiel had borne a grudge against Gawker since 2007, when the site supposedly outed him in an article. Worth noting, however, is that a sister site, Valleywag, was devoted to critical coverage of Silicon Valley generally, including some of Thiel’s odd ideas and less-successful ventures. Additionally, Gizmodo, another sister site to Gawker, recently called out bias in Facebook’s “Trending Stories” feature, prompting a Congressional investigation into the social network. This recent Gawker post contains links to some of the above-referenced stories that could conceivably have drawn Thiel’s ire.
In the interests of a modicum of impartiality, I do agree that some of Gawker’s practices – namely, making public the sex lives of various individuals – can be quite objectionable. As for Thiel; well, each individual can judge for themselves where they stand on his views and actions since he came into the public eye nearly 20 years ago. (Note: He’s a Trump supporter.)
What is to my mind beyond a reasonable doubt is that Thiel’s actions have no place in an open, free, and genuinely democratic society. For an individual of extraordinary means to attempt to secretly bankrupt a news organization by proxy because he finds its output to be personally or professionally disagreeable is utterly reprehensible. Such actions – if adopted by others and taken to their logical conclusion – amount essentially to plutocratic control over what news and information is available to the public. Such a situation undermines the ability of citizens to make intelligent, well-informed choices that are in their best interests, rather than in the interests of those controlling the flow of information.
The most recent analogue that I can think of in this country is Sheldon Adelson’s purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which he also attempted to keep secret; a deal that many believe was pursued specifically so that Adelson could have an outsized influence on the upcoming presidential election, as well as Nevada’s ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for adult use, to which he is opposed. Notably, the Review-Journal this week published an editorial arguing against the state’s legalization initiative, although previous editorials prior to the purchase of the paper by Adelson expressed support for legal cannabis.
When compared to the above situation, however, Thiel’s actions are much more insidious and potentially wide-ranging. Adelson only bought one newspaper; Thiel, if successful, could have a chilling effect on journalism in this country as a whole. If Gawker’s coverage of Thiel did in fact rise to the level of libel, then Thiel should have sued them outright himself. In his only words on the matter thus far, Thiel told the New York Times that he viewed his actions as “one of the greatest philanthropic things I’ve done” and that he did not believe attacking Gawker endangered other journalists or freedom of speech generally. I find these statements disingenuous at best and even hilarious in the darkest possible way. Also, I am not particularly comfortable with billionaires – or any one individual – deciding what may or may not constitute proper journalism and free speech for the rest of us.
I will leave the matter of Thiel, Hulk Hogan, and Gawker aside for the moment; many words have been written concerning it and I don’t know that I have much more to contribute to the general discourse that has not been said already. I will turn instead to the implications of Thiel’s actions for the cannabis industry, in addition to commenting on what I feel is the industry’s unhealthy aping of very questionable Silicon Valley models and “ideals” that are embodied in many of Thiel’s ventures, and analogous ones. In sum, I feel that the cannabis industry is now at a crossroads. Do we want the industry to move toward some sort of truly new model focused on mutual benefit and social good, or instead simply fall into the patterns of unchecked, irresponsible capitalism, in which few benefit and most get the proverbial shaft?
I highly recommend the insightful discussion of the possible future(s) of the cannabis industry, linked below, by the always perceptive and intelligent Hilary Bricken. You can find more of her writing on Canna Law Blog, which I would characterize as the essential source for legal analysis on regulatory developments in the cannabis industry.
A seminar scheduled for May 17 at Aims Community College in Fort Lupton will provide an overview of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and good agricultural practices (GAP). Colorado Pesticide Applicator recertification core credits (3 CECs) will be provided. Registration is $175.
The workshop is organized by Mountain West PEST, which also provides EPA WPS and pesticide applicator training to farmers of all crops in Colorado. WPS training is required of all cannabis cultivation and harvest workers that work with pesticides or might come in contact with their residues. The workshop will feature instruction by experienced agricultural professionals, pesticide safety experts, and plant pathologists.
Based on my experience with Mountain West PEST – which provided an excellent and informative WPS training to my former facility – this should be a highly informative day of agricultural education.
When I stepped into my former cultivation facility for the first time as an entry-level gardener, I was astounded by the dozens of “strains,” as well as how vastly different many of them were from each other. However, what amused and amazed me as a new staff member became one of my biggest challenges once I ascended to the position of Cultivation Manager: Namely, running the operations of a large cultivation facility smoothly while juggling the various characteristics and needs of dozens of diverse genetics.
Increasing numbers operators are seeing the benefits of growing a smaller, more manageable number of strains, which are more properly called “cultivars” in traditional agricultural parlance. Fewer cultivars means more uniform, efficient, predictable, and, ultimately, more profitable operations, provided that the right few are selected. But how is a cultivation operation’s owner or manager supposed to decide what is best for the business in paring down one’s “stable” of cultivars? In other words, which genetics should make the cut, and why?
In this issue, the regularly occurring column, Growing Pains, authored by myself and my colleague, Nic Easley, is actually part one of a two-part column that offers guidance on necessary considerations when expanding cultivation operations. We also feel that it could be helpful for those with small-scale growing experience who are looking to get into commercial cannabis production.
Additionally, our advice was featured in “46 Tips for Better Cultivation,” alongside some other very astute pointers from experienced commercial cultivators.
As I noted previously, I would definitely recommend getting a free subscription to Cannabis Business Times. They are proving to be a highly informative and professional publication that is a great reflection of the legal cannabis industry. It’s an honor to be featured in their pages. Thanks to editor Noelle Skodzinski for her great work, both on the magazine and in generating her own important reporting on the industry.
I composed this position statement regarding pesticide use in cannabis production. It is a viewpoint fashioned through objective consideration of existing law, in addition to the tragic lack of research that has been performed on cannabis. Thanks to Cannabis Industry Journal for publishing this paper originally.
I would like to add a note about tolerance levels. In a statement responding to a recent recall, Organa Labs brought up the issue of tolerance levels, which is the amount of measurable residue considered acceptable on a crop. These tolerance levels are established only after years of research trials, in which crops are grown under various conditions, pesticides are applied in various ways, and the crops are then tested after harvest (after which they are destroyed). As there has been no such research done on cannabis, no tolerance levels have been established. It is my belief that, until research has been done, we should be safe rather than sorry, and not allow any detectable residues on cannabis products, particularly those that are smoked. Any tolerance level established now, however cautious, is simply guesswork. And, as stated below, the chemical pesticides being found in recalled products are not necessary to successfully cultivate pest-free cannabis. Though it will take years, we need to wait for the research to come; but until then, let’s grow cleanly and safely, and make ourselves and the things we produce better in the process.