Who’s Watching the Watchmen?

At the 2015 Marijuana Business Conference and Expo, held last year in Las Vegas, keynote speaker and longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader provided words of warning to the cannabis industry.

“Proper regulation is the best aspirin you could ever have, other than marijuana,” Nader said, to a ripple of laughter. “We’ve got to have standards of inspection, for, say, pesticides, for fungus, for rot. We have to have standards of advertising and truth, so we don’t get hit with lawsuits.”

The lawsuits Nader presciently predicted have already arrived. More importantly for the purposes of this discussion, however, are Nader’s comments on testing labs. Marijuana Business Daily reports that Nader stressed the importance of testing labs being independent from the companies that they were testing so as to limit the possibilities for corruption.

While not allowing the same business to own the means of production and the means to approve the product produced as safe for consumption is a no-brainer, the tougher question is: How can cannabis testing labs – which are privately-owned entities in each state that they exist – truly be independent if they are beholden to the ultimate goal of generating profit from their activities? Keep in mind that legal cannabis systems in every state are functioning without the federal standards and regulations to which other agricultural and manufacturing enterprises are subject. That means that these private labs are, for the most part, the primary guardian of public health and safety for the tens of millions of medical patients and adult consumers who can obtain cannabis legally in states from California to Connecticut. Nader commented on the privatization of services meant to serve the public good – rather than shareholders or owners – and alluded to the Volkswagon emissions scandal:

“Why do you think [the Volkswagon scandal] happened? It’s because under federal law, they allowed private labs to do the testing,” Nader said. “Watch out for control of these labs by your industry. That’s when the problems are going to start.”

It turns out that Nader was right again.

Continue reading “Who’s Watching the Watchmen?”

Recent Publications: “8 Solutions to Common Cultivation Challenges,” in CBT and “Our Land, Our Choice,” in High Times

While I have unfortunately not been posting here as much as I would like, part of the reason is that I have been engaged to write for some industry publications.

The first to be published was a column, “8 Solutions to Common Cultivation Challenges,” in Cannabis Business Times. I would highly recommend subscribing to receive their new magazine – which is free – as there is a great deal of high-quality content throughout its pages. The magazine is issued bi-monthly, and “Growing Pains” – the overall title of the column authored by myself and my colleague, Nic Easley, will appear in each issue over the next year. Look out for the next issue, which features part one of a two-part essay providing guidance on scaling up  a cultivation operation.

Additionally, Nic and I were also engaged to write an essay for High Times magazine. Featured in the February 2016 issue, “Our Land, Our Choice” examines the complex legal hurdles facing Native American Tribes, some of whom have begun to lay the foundation for a new tribal cannabis industry, bringing a promise of economic development to reservations hit hard by unemployment and poverty. The magazine is available on newsstands or via the link above.

Thanks very much to Cannabis Business Times and High Times, it is an honor to have my work featured in such industry-leading publications.


When is One Harvest More than Five?

Once you step outside. Read on, and I’ll explain…

While perusing an article discussing the energy-intensive nature of indoor cannabis cultivation, I came across a quote expressing a sentiment that I hear all too often in the industry.

“Growing indoors is pretty energy inefficient, but in most places in the U.S. you can only get one or two seasons outdoors, so there’s really not much of a choice,” said David DeGraff, chief executive officer of The Grow School in Denver.

As noted, the sentiment that indoor cultivation can out-yield farming cannabis outdoors is pervasive. I would also argue that it is misguided, based more on the fact that most growers entire experience consists of cultivating inside under lamps, rather than direct, evidence-based comparisons. Fortunately, now that more reliable data on cannabis cultivation is being gathered and analyzed, we have the opportunity to debunk such myths and push cannabis farming forward in a more intelligent, responsible manner.

Continue reading “When is One Harvest More than Five?”