Understanding Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

In 2004, a team of researchers in South Australia published a research study that purported to discover a new condition: Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.  The study, entitled “Cannabinoid Hyperemesis: Cyclical Hyperemesis in Association with Chronic Cannabis Abuse,” was published in the journal Gut.

The research found that a group of long-term daily cannabis consumers were suffering an almost identical set of symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and—during the acute phase of the syndrome—abnormal bathing behavior. You read that right: abnormal bathing behavior.

Concluded the researchers, “In all cases…chronic cannabis abuse predated the onset of the cyclical vomiting illness. Cessation of cannabis abuse led to cessation of the cyclical vomiting illness in seven [of 10] cases.”

The study’s researchers identified 19 patients who were chronic (daily) cannabis consumers and exhibited a cyclical vomiting illness. Of this group, 10 patients refused to give consent or were otherwise disqualified, reducing the sample size to nine.

Concluded the researchers, “In all cases…chronic cannabis abuse predated the onset of the cyclical vomiting illness. Cessation of cannabis abuse led to cessation of the cyclical vomiting illness in seven [of 10] cases.”

“Cessation of cannabis abuse led to cessation of the cyclical vomiting illness in seven [of 10] cases.” — 2004 Australian research study

A similar study entitled “Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome” was conducted in December 2011 at Temple University and published in the journal Current Drug Abuse Reviews. It concluded that this controversial condition typically strikes young adults who have been chronic consumers of cannabis for multiple years.

If allowed to go unchecked and to enter the acute (hyperemetic) stage, the study’s researchers reported that Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome can result in weight loss and dehydration, with retching so severe that it can occur up to five times per hour.

Concluded the researchers: “Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a new and under-recognized clinical entity. Although its prevalence is unknown, numerous publications have preliminarily established its unique clinical characteristics. CHS [Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome] should be considered as a plausible diagnosis in the setting of patients with recurrent intractable vomiting and [a] strong history of cannabis abuse.”

However, not all experts agree that Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is legitimate. The authors of a 2006 review study published in Gut entitled “Cannabis Hyperemesis Causation Questioned” criticized the original 2004 research cited above, labeling it a “poor study design.”

Wrote the study’s authors: “Cannabis has been consumed for many centuries and is currently used by millions of people in many countries. It is hard to believe that a distinctive syndrome caused by cannabis has never been noted before by users or clinicians.”

According to physician Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio, a Los Angeles doctor who recommends cannabis medicine to some of his patients, “Since CHS is so rare, I’d also be careful of misdiagnosis. Other gastrointestinal problems may be at play, and cannabis could be either helpful or hindering in such cases.”

“Other gastrointestinal problems may be at play, and cannabis could be either helpful or hindering in such cases.” — Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio, Los Angeles

Although more research is necessary, is it possible that some humans may be predisposed to exhibiting negative side effects—such as nausea, vomiting, and intestinal pain—after years of chronic cannabis consumption? Could ceasing the intake of cannabis help those who might be suffering this condition?

Despite the few research studies conducted during the past 14 years, the only thing that is objectively clear is that tens of millions of Americans who have consumed cannabis chronically clearly do not suffer this controversial syndrome.

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

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Articles for Patients Who Cultivate Cannabis

On January 1, 2018, nearly 40 million Californians gained the legal ability to grow up to six cannabis plants for their own consumption (or to gift to others). Patients who previously chose to obey the law and obtain cannabis only from a local dispensary now have a powerful new option: Home cannabis gardening.

In 2017, WoahStork Learn, a smart AI-focused cannabis company in Los Angeles, approached me to write a short series of cultivation articles. The following collection resulted.

Gooey Rabinski


1) Eradicating Gray Mold in Cannabis Organically


2) How to Get More Resin on Your Cannabis Nugs


3) What is Hydroponic Growing?


4) Conquering Nematodes in Cannabis Organically


5) Controlling Cannabis Leaf Septoria Organically


6) LEC vs HPS Lighting: Which is Better for Your Grow?


7) What is HPS Lighting?


8) What is LEC Lighting?


9) What is Cannabis Resin?


10) Ridding Cannabis of Powdery Mildew Organically


11) Fighting Root Rot & Algae in Cannabis Organically


12) Fighting Mites in Cannabis Organically


13) Cannabis Anatomy 101


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Remembering Dennis Peron (1945-2018): My Eulogy

I first met Dennis Peron, the pioneering Bronx-born architect of modern legal medical marijuana in North America, in 2006. It was at his home-cum-hippie-bed-and-breakfast in San Francisco when I was covering article assignments for Skunk Magazine and touring California to conduct interviews.

Dennis Peron in Eureka, California in 2016 during our last interview.

Medical cannabis activist and outlaw cultivator Eddy Lepp introduced me to Peron. I had spent several days at Lepp’s compound in Lake County, California, gathering photos and audio interviews, immediately prior to meeting Peron.

About three days into the adventure, Lepp’s small entourage and I road tripped, Scooby-Doo van style, from the Emerald Triangle to the Castro District. We stayed—per Lepp’s preference in San Francisco lodging—at Peron’s bed and breakfast, better known as the “Castro Castle.” It had served as a pivotal Northern California hub for hundreds of cannabis and LGBTQA+ activists and his friends over the decades.

Last year, a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors called [Peron] “the father of medical marijuana” at an event honoring him. “I came to San Francisco to find love and to change the world,” Mr. Peron said in reply. “I found love, only to lose him through AIDS. We changed the world.” — The Washington Post

Standing in the subtly psychedelic living room of Peron’s San Francisco home, Lepp introduced me to both the legendary medical cannabis activist and Jack Herer, the infamous hemp advocate and author who wrote The Emperor Wears No Clothes in 1985.

Herer was obviously fatigued after a long day of travel and inquired with Peron about his room, in the hope that he could retire for the evening. The response from Peron, however, was that Herer’s people had never made a reservation—and that the bed and breakfast was full. It was an awkward moment during which the Hemperor was officially left roomless….

Jack Herer at Ed Rosenthal’s 2006 Wonders of Cannabis in San Francisco.

In traditional Bugs Bunny “think quick, rabbit” style, I suggested that Herer take my room and that I sleep on the sofa. Peron politely upgraded me from the couch to the attractive deck outside of Herer’s room. I accepted.

I slept under the stars of San Francisco that evening, my wakeful state buoyed by a combination of my natural insomnia, Peron’s joints of sativa, and Herer’s enthusiastic snoring. I fell asleep with the contentment that I had finally shaken hands with the crazy bastards who started the cannabis legalization movement in the United States—and that Jack Herer had slept with my luggage in one of the rooms of Dennis Peron’s bed and breakfast.

After my first visit encounter with Peron, a colleague asked me about the experience. “It was non-stop hand rolled organic cannabis joints smoked by an endless parade of guests, all of whom I’m relatively certain were either gay, potheads, or gay potheads.”


Jack Herer and Dennis Peron in 1996. Photo credit: Associated Press.

It was nearly a decade before I was again in the humble company of Peron, again at his famous bed and breakfast in San Francisco. Although I conducted no formal interview, I enjoyed time with the famous medical cannabis activist and his aging Baby Boomer cronies in their pot smoke-filled kitchen, listening to stories from the old days and avoiding the offer of edibles that I knew would cut my experience short.

In October 2016, when Herb.co was one of my freelance clients, my (best-ever) editor Melissa Reid requested an interview with Peron that focused on his opinions of Proposition 64 (the adult use ballot initiative that was passed by 56 percent of California voters weeks later on November 8).

I no longer write for magazines and media outlets like High Times and Herb.co, instead focusing on compliance documentation for aspiring cannabis businesses. I can’t help recognize, however, that me and tens of thousands of others who earn our living in the cannabis industry would probably have no career if it weren’t for Peron’s scrappy, naturally tenacious attitude and his crew of dedicated activist back in 1996.

Peron’s successful effort to pass Proposition 215, America’s first medical cannabis law, launched a wave of both medial and adult use legalization across the continent. It influenced, in no small way, all medical and adult use cannabis laws in North America—including Canada’s federal-level medical marijuana program in 2001 and Washington State’s pioneering feat of becoming the first U.S. state to legalize adult use cannabis in 2012 (followed by Oregon and Colorado in 2014).

Without Peron’s dogged effort to bring relief, via cannabis, to his friends in the Castro district of San Francisco who were dying of AIDS in the early and mid-1990s, there might be no legal marijuana in the United States. Thousands of those who work in the burgeoning industry would have no job, instead being relegated to traditional industries.

Thank you, Dennis.

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Trichome Viewing Sesh: Macro Photos

The legalization of cannabis in many areas of the country has resulted in a variety of novel social gatherings and activities involving the kind herb. One such event that has emerged in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver is a trichome viewing sesh. I was recently invited to such an event in Los Angeles.

A quality high-powered microscope allows one to get a miraculous view of the small, mushroom-shaped resin glands called trichomes that produce all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis. In short, trichomes are the medicine factories of the cannabis plant.

Enjoy a few ultra-macro shots from the trichome viewing sesh conducted on January 22, 2018 by Kristen Yoder with cannabis samples provided by California’s Duke of Dank Delivery.

And if you’re curious about the molecules that populate those shimmering trichomes, check out my collection of terpene articles.

Gooey Rabinski












All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis for Pain Management

In the United States, 20 million people suffer from chronic depression, sometimes resulting in suicide. Another 40 million are adversely affected by social anxiety, often so severely that they develop agoraphobia and cannot leave their homes. Both of these metrics are eclipsed, however, by the 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain.

Cannabis can be especially helpful for migraine headaches.

Pain is a symptom of literally thousands of diseases and conventional therapies, from fibromyalgia to arthritis to common cancer treatments. The proper management of pain, for millions of patients, is the difference between daily anguish and a productive, happy lifestyle.

The Types

Before attempting to understand a patient’s options for managing pain, it is first important to possess a solid comprehension of its types. The two major categories of pain are acute and chronic, as detailed below.

  • Acute pain: Can be mild or severe. Comes on suddenly and is temporary. Durations last from a few seconds to weeks. Typically results from damage to tissues such as bone, muscle, and organs. In extreme cases, acute pain can last months, but is not long term.
  • Chronic pain: Like the acute variety, can be either mild or severe, but is long term (and typically associated with long-term illnesses such as osteoarthritis). The unrelenting nature of chronic pain, especially for patients with severe levels, often manifests as clinical depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Often the result of nerve damage.  

The Options

A wide variety of treatment options are available to patients suffering from pain, from heat therapy to opioids to cannabis. The efficacy of such treatments is highly subjective, meaning patients and their caregivers must experiment to determine the optimal treatment regiment, including titration (dosing) levels.

Treatment options fall into three major categories: Therapy, medications, and alternative treatments, as detailed below.

  • Therapy: Although many perceive the management of pain as limited to popular pharmaceutical drugs, it includes physical therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Physical therapy and therapist-directed exercise increases pain tolerance while simultaneously reducing actual pain. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, a more controversial alternative approach, teaches patients to understand the nature of their pain and how they can live productive lives via management of their pain levels.
  • Medications: The most commonly prescribed approach to the treatment of all types of pain, both acute and chronic. Medications administered for pain include antidepressants, steroids, anti-seizure meds, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs; includes over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin), opioids (morphine and fentanyl), and non-opioid painkillers (acetaminophen).  
  • Alternative treatments: A wide variety of alternative pain treatments are available, including meditation, cannabis, therapeutic massage, biofeedback, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Two common alternative approaches include heat therapy and cold therapy. Heat therapy has been shown to improve circulation and blood flow to a particular area, which can reduce discomfort and increase muscle flexibility. Cold therapy (also called cryotherapy) has the opposite effect of reducing blood flow to a particular area, which can help with conditions such as inflammation and swelling, which frequently result in pain.  

During recent years, conventional pain therapies—the most common of which is opioids—have resulted in what some experts are labeling an epidemic. Popular examples of opioids include prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (marketed under the brands OxyContin and Percocet), fentanyl (Duragesic), and hydrocodone (Norco and Vicodin).

America is suffering an opioid epidemic; cannabis can help.

Unfortunately, the most common approaches to pain management are also those that typically deliver the most negative side effects. Liver damage, abdominal bloating, constipation, brain damage, nausea and vomiting, depression, and fatigue are all commonly experienced side effects from the administration of these drugs.

The Statistics

According to Time Magazine’s Alexandra Sifferlin, ”Data shows the number of prescriptions written for opioids, as well opioid overdose deaths, have skyrocketed in recent years, highlighting a growing addiction problem in the U.S.”

In January 2015, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a report that provided a revealing and shocking snapshot of America’s opioid epidemic. The NIH report found that, between 1991 and 2011, the number of opioid prescriptions for pain increased from 76 million to 219 million. According to related data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were about 17,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2011 alone.

“Between 2007 and 2010, the number of hospitalizations due to opioid addiction quadrupled.”

Even more revealing is the fact that, between 2007 and 2010, the number of hospitalizations due to opioid addiction quadrupled. These statistics also pertain to the nation’s heroin problem; both prescription opioids (like Vicodin) and black market heroin offer similar highs. Heroin, however, is less expensive and readily available on the black market without a prescription.

Cannabis can replace some or all of these additive drugs.

The trend of opioid addiction, including its resulting health implications and deaths, has been pronounced in the eastern U.S. and Midwest, with states like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio hit especially hard.

In January 2018, the Washington Post reported, “In California and several other Western states, there were no significant changes in the number of [opioid] deaths.” This is typically attributed to harm reduction opportunities in those states, including legal medical and adult use cannabis and programs to prevent and treat opioid addiction. According to a Kaiser Health analysis of data from the CDC, deaths from opiates, cocaine, and methamphetamines increased by 35 percent in the United States between May 2015 and May 2017.

Use of opioids presents three primary problems:

  1. The negative side effects associated with standard prescribed use.
  2. A high incidence of addiction.
  3. Its role as a gateway to common (and less expensive) hard drugs, such as heroin. According to Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the chief medical officer of the rehabilitation nonprofit Phoenix House (a chain of addiction treatment clinics with dozens of locations in ten U.S. states), “There’s been 175,000 deaths [from opioids] over 15 years.”

The Safety  

These statistics are especially significant in light of the fact that cannabis, better known as “marijuana” or “pot,” has throughout history resulted in zero documented deaths. One of the chief reasons that the plant is such an effective and safe treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions, including pain, is the fact that it is impossible to overdose on the herb.

A cannabis dispensary in West Hollywood, California.

“There’s been no history of any verified reports of a death from cannabis ever,” said Dr. Alan Shackelford, a Harvard-trained physician with a practice in Colorado that evaluates patients for their eligibility for a medical marijuana recommendation.

However, the argument of the efficacy of “cannabis” is overly simple. At a molecular level, it is two categories of chemicals, cannabinoids and terpenes, that work together in a delicate synergistic interplay (called the entourage effect) to provide three chief benefits to patients:

  1. Pain relief.
  2. Systemic inflammation reduction.
  3. Cancer and tumor reduction.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the infamous cannabinoid that delivers not only medical efficacy, but also psychoactive effects (the “high” of marijuana). This is partly because THC is one of the few molecules allowed to permeate the body’s extremely selective blood/brain barrier to reach specialized CB1 receptors in the brain.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, delivers medical efficacy—and analgesic (pain killing) properties—that are very similar to its sibling THC. CBD, however, provides no psychoactive effect. This is a significant characteristic and difference in light of the number of people with sensitive occupations, including pilots, drivers, and child care professionals, who cannot (or may desire to not) experience a psychotropic effect from their cannabis-derived medicine.  

A commercial cannabis production facility in Eugene, Oregon.

Many companies in legal states like Colorado and California are beginning to formulate CBD-rich products that feature different levels of THC. This allows patients to determine the amount of psychoactive effect they will achieve and to find the particular balance of CBD and THC that works for their particular ailment and lifestyle.

Another superiority of cannabis over conventional opiates is its ability to kill pain without inducing nausea or sleep. This is important for a large percentage of pain management patients, including busy professionals and parents who must maintain active lifestyles and cannot afford to be sidelined by their malady or its treatment.

The History

Cannabis has a long history of use in the treatment of pain and other conditions that dates back thousands of years. British physician Dr. John Clendinning in the early 19th century documented his successful use of cannabis in the treatment of migraine headaches.

In the United States, cannabis was commonly administered to soldiers during the Civil War for the treatment dysentery. In 1868, Sir John Reynolds infamously prescribed a cannabis-infused tea to Queen Victoria for her menstrual cramps, noting its superiority as a painkiller.

Grinding cannabis flowers old-schools style in Portland, Oregon.

“The bane of many opiates,” wrote Reynolds, “is that the relief of the moment is purchased at the expense of tomorrow’s misery,” noting the withdrawal symptoms and gastrointestinal distress that often are associated with the use of opiates in the management of pain.

The Strains

According to Northern California medical researcher Mara Gordon, more than 6,000 strains of cannabis have been bred and cultivated within the past few decades. However, finding the right strain for one’s pain can be a challenge. This is compounded by the highly subjective nature of cannabis efficacy, affecting different patients in sometimes markedly contrasting and even polarized ways.

Many strains of marijuana have proven, through both chemical analysis and empirical evidence, to be better than their peers at managing pain. However, because there are different types of pain, a single strain of cannabis can’t accurately be recommended.

A backyard cannabis garden in Northern Ohio.

For example, for generalized pain, the strains ACDC and Blackberry Kush have been found to provide relief to patients (ACDC is also known for its relatively high CBD content). For inflammation, Harlequin (another CBD-rich strain) and Blue Widow have shown to help patients. This is especially beneficial to those suffering from arthritis, asthma, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions characterized by systemic inflammation.

For headaches and migraines, strains such as Blueberry Headband and Purple Arrow have proven, through anecdotal evidence, to provide relief. Other strains that have been reported to reduce pain include Dynamite, Cataract Kush, and Redwood Kush. Patients are encouraged to seek organic strains of cannabis that have been laboratory tested and are free of contaminants such as pesticides, molds, and mildew.   

The Studies

An indepth 2015 Canadian clinical study published in the American Pain Society’s Journal of Pain involved 431 adult patients over the course of a year. It revealed cannabis to be not only an effective analgesic, but also to provide a reduction in secondary symptoms, including depression and anxiety.

 The patients—split between 215 who consumed cannabis and 216 within a control group who did not receive marijuana—all suffered from chronic pain. The study allowed participants the option of smoking flowers, vaping concentrates, or consuming edibles, all of which contained 12.5 percent THC.

Both patient groups exhibited a reduction in pain. Those consuming cannabis, however, also experienced significantly decreased anxiety and depression. The study’s researchers noted that cannabis was effective in treating not only the pain itself, but also in alleviating the symptoms resulting therefrom—including fatigue and psychological manifestations like hopelessness (one of the chief causes of suicide).

It should be noted that some patients within the cannabis group experienced minor sleeplessness. The researchers concluded, however, that patients consuming cannabis experienced greater pain reduction than the control group. In addition, members of the cannabis group experienced no decrease in their ability to function in day-to-day life, an area of negative impact for members of the non-cannabis group who consumed conventional opioids such as fentanyl and hydrocodone.

The researchers also noted that, when used as part of a monitored treatment program over the course of a year, cannabis medicine posed no threats because it features a “reasonable safety profile.”

A February 2008 study published in the journal Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management found efficacy in the pain management properties of several different molecular components of cannabis, including the major cannabinoids THC and CBD.

“The anti-inflammatory contributions of THC are also extensive…THC has twenty times the anti-inflammatory potency of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.” — Journal of Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management (2008)

The study concluded that “the anti-inflammatory contributions of THC are also extensive…THC has twenty times the anti-inflammatory potency of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.”

Regarding CBD, the other major cannabinoid in cannabis, the study observed that “cannabidiol, a non-euphoriant phytocannabinoid common in certain strains, shares neuroprotective effects with THC, inhibits glutamate neurotoxicity, and displays antioxidant activity greater than ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or tocopherol (vitamin E).”

Outdoor organic cannabis in Humboldt County, California.

Like the 2015 Canadian study, researchers noted the lack of negative side effects of cannabis, including its chief components THC and CBD. “Cannabinoid analgesics have generally been well tolerated in clinical trials with acceptable adverse event profiles. Their adjunctive addition to the pharmacological armamentarium for treatment of pain shows great promise.”

“Cannabinoid analgesics have generally been well tolerated in clinical trials with acceptable adverse event profiles. Their adjunctive addition to the pharmacological armamentarium for treatment of pain shows great promise.”

A Canadian study conducted in 2010 and published in the journal CMAJ found that more than 10 percent of patients suffering from pain were self-medicating with cannabis. “About 10 to 15 percent of patients attending a chronic pain clinic use cannabis as part of their pain strategy,” wrote the researchers.

The Conclusions

The promise of cannabis and its myriad cannabinoids and terpenes for the treatment of conditions like pain is great, offering tens of millions of Americans an alternative to conventional treatments, like opioids, that deliver a slew of negative side effects.

Unfortunately, the U.S. federal government categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that it is officially considered as dangerous and addictive as heroin and bath salts (which reside in the same category). Meanwhile, dangerous drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines are categorized as Schedule II, meaning they can legally be prescribed by a physician. 

Until cannabis is rescheduled, academic institutions, hospitals, and research laboratories wishing to conduct clinical studies and experiment with the medical efficacy of cannabis have their hands tied. Fortunately, studies regarding the health benefits of cannabinoids like CBD and THC are are being conducted in countries like Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Gooey Rabinski in Los Angeles, California.

Armed with this evidence, doctors and patients in legal cannabis states who recognize the opioid epidemic and wish to avoid the negative side effects of the most popularly prescribed pharmaceutical painkillers—including severe addiction and death—are increasingly experimenting with CBD and THC and reporting positive results.

Because there are so many types of pain and management approaches result in such subjective efficacy, doctors and patients are best served by ready access to all treatment options. This includes safe access to the best possible cannabis medicine and infused products.   

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

The 2017 Interviews

I’ve collected links to some of my 2017 interviews below. I’m especially fond of the audio-only podcasts; they’re  practical during lengthy work commutes and endurance exercise.

Thanks for your support. Together, we can educate voters and allow the cannabis industry the chance to become an established part of the modern economy. Given the opioid epidemic, addiction to methamphetamines, and rampant alcoholism, cannabis deserves a place in the marketplace and the medicine cabinet.


CannabizDaily interviews Gooey Rabinski (Dec. 22, 2017)


Talking Shop with California-based Cannabis Author/Photographer Gooey Rabinski (March 23, 2017)


[AUDIO] Episode 132: Cannabis Chemistry 101 with Technical Writer Gooey Rabinski (May 1, 2017)


[AUDIO] Episode 32: Author Gooey Rabinski on the Health Benefits of Medical Cannabis (Jan. 29, 2017)


[AUDIO] PACE Radio LIVE with Gooey Rabinski (Oct. 4, 2017)


[AUDIO] PACE Radio LIVE with Gooey Rabinski (June 21, 2017)


Bonus: [AUDIO] Episode 166: Hot Box Podcast (with Starlight Mundy) (Oct. 3, 2015)


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 8: Opportunities

Welcome to Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, where I take exactly 420 words of your day to teach you about the business and science of the emerging cannabis industry. I promise to address any feedback in the comments.

To set the mood, listen to Cab Calloway tell you how it is in 1932, five years before marijuana became illegal in the United States.

Previous installments in this series:


So you wanna get into the cannabis industry, eh? Despite the prevailing panic among eager entrepreneurs who fear they’ll be left behind, there’s going to be plenty of opportunities….  

Replacing the Fallouts

Please don’t mistake me some a pessimist (I’m actually a realist with optimistic undertones), but there is going to be a huge fallout in the cannabis market now that California has opened its doors for legal adult use. Some of the smartest consultants and marketing experts I’ve worked with in California predict that 60-80% of existing and new “legal” marijuana businesses (assume those created in the next 3-6 months) will be out-of-business within one to two years.  

This will result mostly from mismanagement and a lack of compliance with regulatory oversight. Businesses with valid permits will be shut down by district attorneys and government authorities following inspections and audits (this will be especially true for processors using volatile solvents).

However, jurisdictions won’t want to lose the tax revenue collected from a well-managed cannabis business. Thus, new opportunities for entrepreneurs will emerge as cities re-open license application submission periods.  

Banning Bans

In addition to the demise of cannabis businesses that are mismanaged or fail to comply with regulations, other opportunities will open for entrepreneurs in the coming months and years.

Dozens of jurisdictions in California have banned cannabis businesses within their borders. However, after tax revenues are flowing into the coffers of city governments lacking bans, neighboring jurisdictions with bans in place will become envious of the cash flow.

Voters will pressure city and town councils to modify or even eliminate bans, necessarily obligating them to license new cannabis businesses. Those communities not wanting retail stores on every corner will pursue industrial zoning and court businesses like processing, manufacturing, distribution, and transportation.

Panic Understandable

The panic being experienced in the burgeoning cannabis industry, especially in epicenters like Los Angeles and San Francisco, is understandable; no entrepreneur wants to lose a seat at the table. For many, the goldrush is an opportunity to own or manage a progressive business serving a new age of informed consumers.

As I tell my clients, it is better to take the time to develop a robust business plan and detailed strategy than to rush into the industry half-baked. This is business 101: Even the best executed crappy strategy is a crappy strategy.

The cannabis industry is attracting so many intelligent, driven, and charismatic entrepreneurs and leaders that crappy strategy won’t cut it.

If your strategy isn’t really solid when you launch, you’re already dead.

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 7: Californication

Welcome to Gooey Rabinski’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, where I take exactly 420 words of your day to teach you about the business and science of the emerging cannabis industry. I promise to address any feedback in the comments.

To set the mood, listen to Cab Calloway tell you how it is in 1932, five years before marijuana became illegal in the United States.

Previous installments in this series:


The cannabis industry is emerging—and evolving—at an astounding rate. All industry segments, from cultivation and dispensing to the red headed stepchildren of transportation and distribution, are experiencing growth rates that make other industries envious.

Despite significant hurdles driven by federal prohibition, a gross lack of merchant banking, and hundreds of municipalities and counties in legal states that have decided to ban pot businesses, the struggling marijuana industry continues to attract investors and entrepreneurs.


Amid a literal swarm of red Santa suits comprised of semi-inebriated humans dressed as the proverbial jolly ol’ elf, I met with my client at an expensive hipster tavern in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.

“What about Florida?” she asked. “What if my business was located in Florida instead of Costa Mesa, California?”

“Well, that would be a totally different scenario. The jurisdiction is god; they make the rules,” I responded.

Thus unfolds the gross, complicated regulatory schema—including sometimes massive pushback from jurisdictions at all levels—amid the chaotic emergence of a new, promising market in the United States called “recreational cannabis.”

In late November 2017, three California regulatory bodies released a combined 278 pages of the latest draft regulations for the marijuana industry in the Golden State. These regulations are all derived from California’s Senate Bill No. 94 (SB 94), the “law of the land” (as interpreted from the state’s ballot passage of Proposition 64 [officially dubbed the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA] in November 2016).

“AUMA authorizes a person 21 years of age or older to possess and use up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, and to possess up to 6 living marijuana plants and the marijuana produced by those plants, subject to certain restrictions, as specified.”  — California Senate Bill No. 94

Consultants like me are in a mad dash to integrate these complex regulations from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Bureau of Cannabis Control, and the Department of Public Health into our workflows. Business plans, operations plans, and applications for cannabis permits and licenses for pot companies in California must all conform to these emerging standards of regulatory oversight.

As such, it’s a frenetic time in the cannabis industry, especially in California, where adult use cannabis becomes legal on January 1, 2018. With market leader Los Angeles having not even yet released applications—but the state having begun so in early December via a slick online portal—cannabis business owners and entrepreneurs in Southern California are understandably nervous.


Subscribe to stay current on the direction of the cannabis industry in California and nationwide.


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Did America’s Founding Fathers “Smoke Weed”?

This article has caused more uproar than anything I’ve written in recent memory. I’m happy that it’s evoking the pride of patriots, while also revealing the nuanced and sometimes desperate logic of fundamentalism of any flavor. 

Zealotry is defined by Merriam-Webster as a “fanatical devotion.”

Those who are convinced of an outcome before they begin research have obviously limited the scope of their potential discoveries. While I respect the passion of zealots, their preconceived notions often limit their ability to employ logic in the pursuit of truth. 

I invite you to leave constructive comments below.  

Gooey Rabinski


Urban legends of all stripes have gained renewed vigor in recent years. Fueled by pervasive social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, we’re surrounded by a vague pseudoscientific moat of sensationalistic stories thinly disguised as fact.

The urban legend du jour in the cannabis industry is the belief that America’s founding fathers grew and consumed cannabis (more commonly known as marijuana or pot in many areas of North America). Most versions of this story embrace the consumption avenue of smoking.

Here’s how this trendy urban legend recently manifested itself on LinkedIn:

“Did you know? George Washington grew pot. Washington wrote in letters on more than one occasion that he grew marijuana. Many today suspect he smoked weed.” — Ellis Smith

Have you been duped by lazy sensationalism on social media?

Vernacular is a Bitch

“Grew pot” is one of those tainted phrases that begs the reader to exit a realistic thinking process and associate definitions and frameworks borrowed from modern life that simply did not exist in the time of Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

This is one of those issues that is defined within shades of grey, not ignorant bantering or flag waving fantasy. A simple binary “yes” or “no” doesn’t suffice the depth of the science or the reality of the situation more than 250 years ago. That’s a quarter millennium back in the Wayback Machine, peeps.

Romantic Notions

I know, the notion that someone like Franklin or Jefferson smoked hand rolled joints or hit a primitive wooden pipe full of the kind herb is quaintly delicious. It’s also an innocent form of misguided countercultural patriotism. We all want to reboot the originals at some point to match the values of contemporary society or our own self image.

POTUS #1 (pre-dred wig period).

In the case of the cannabis culture, this impulse often materializes when one adds a Cheech & Chong 1970s veneer to the relatively prudish workaholism that infused the culture of the founders of the United States in the mid-18th century.

“We all want to reboot the originals at some point to match the values of contemporary society or our own self image.” — Gooey Rabinski

Could it actually be true? Could revolutionary OGs like Washington and Jefferson really have sparked up joints of cannabis after a hard day of managing their slaves and hanging out in libraries and pubs?

Washington experimented with growing hemp (not to be confused with cannabis) in the course of his farming business. He even considered replacing his profitable tobacco cultivation business with hemp and wanted to make Great Britain one of his biggest customers. Unfortunately, Washington was never successful. The British market rejected his hemp for a variety of reasons, one of which was purportedly low quality (this obviously could have been a political response).

Digging Deeper: Hemp vs. Cannabis

Let’s dig deeper into the difference between hemp and cannabis to get more insight into this charged and largely misunderstood topic. Allow this article to drop some science on you:

“The international definition of hemp as opposed to marijuana was developed by a Canadian researcher in 1971. That was the year that scientist Ernest Small published a little-known, but very influential, book called The Species Problem in Cannabis.

Small acknowledged there was not any natural point at which the cannabinoid content could be used to distinguish strains of hemp and marijuana. Despite this, he drew an arbitrary line on the continuum of cannabis types and decided that 0.3 percent THC in a sifted batch of cannabis flowers was the difference between hemp and marijuana.”

Another technical point: Hemp is cultivated and embraced from an industrial perspective because of the strong fibers in the stalk of the plant. The appeal of cannabis, on the contrary, is the resin-bearing flowers that contain special molecules (cannabinoids and terpenes) of use to humans as medicine and for the pursuit of recreational euphoria.

These molecules include cannabinoids such as THC and CBD and cool aroma-producing terpenes like myrcene and linalool—all of which that do things like kill cancer, reduce systemic inflammation, and act as an analgesic (pain killer). 

Are you buying the bull on social media?

More Bull

“Some of my finest hours have been spent sitting on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.” This quote has been attributed to Thomas Jefferson for years.

The only problem? He never said it.

Besides, no sane human would ever want to smoke hemp, because it wouldn’t result in the typically pleasant psychoactive effect of modern marijuana. In fact, it would produce only a headache. These men would have much more likely smoked tobacco.

“It’s important to note that the distinction between hemp and marijuana is often overlooked. They are of the same plant family, but hemp does not contain THC (the chemical that gets people high) like marijuana does. Smoking wild hemp is more likely to bring on a headache than a high.” — Daily Beast

Let’s review the science: Hemp is defined as the mature male version of any strain of cannabis that contains less than 0.3 percent THC (the molecule that delivers psychoactive effects for humans and any mammal). This is an admittedly arbitrary dividing line that was established by a Canadian scientist during the previous century.

What Others Say

Before getting too cocky about the situation, let’s consider the opinions of a few others:

“I couldn’t find any contemporary accounts suggesting either Washington or Jefferson ever indulged in, advocated, or even mentioned smoking pot.

“The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, an organization dedicated to being a voice for ‘responsible marijuana smokers,’ simply notes that Washington and Jefferson grew hemp for economic reasons.” — Cecil Adams, The Straight Dope Podcast

Believers do have a reasonable snippet of fact to justify maintaining a glimmer of hope that one of the founders of their nation was ever-so-possibly an occasional consumer of female cannabis plants, however….

Maybe, just maybe, those female cannabis plants featured mature flowers containing enough THC to result in a psychoactive effect.

Maybe.

But we’re entirely outside of proof here, folks. It’s borderline fantasy land. That noted, let’s hear from another expert on the topic.

“Radical” Russ Belville (not my photo).

“Radical” Russ Belville is a charismatic cannabis legalization advocate and journalist from Portland, Oregon. In an article for High Times, Belville quotes Washington from one of the first president’s diaries:

“Began to separate the male from female plants at do –rather too late” [sic] and “Pulling up the (male) hemp. Was too late for the blossom hemp by three weeks or a month.” — George Washington, POTUS #1

Thus, at least for a brief period, Washington was separating male and female hemp plants. By modern standards, if any of the female flowers developed more than 0.3 percent THC, it would no longer be considered “hemp” and would jump the categorical fence to become cannabis.

The Truth About George Washington & Hemp

Check out this excerpt from the article “The Truth about George Washington and Hemp” by John L. Smith, Jr., for the Journal of the American Revolution.

Armed with the solid “proof” that Washington talked about “blossom hemp” and separating male from female plants, marijuana advocates have made sweeping generalities ever since. It’s no fun to let the agricultural facts get in the way; specifically that the male plants (with the pollen) are distanced from female plants at a proper time in the cultivation cycle for the controlled breeding of seeds needed for the next year’s crop. Another benefit stated of that time: “This may arise from their [the male] being coarser, and the stalks larger,” the fact that separated male plants yielded stronger fiber. But just two days following the tantalizing August 7, 1765 “separation” diary entry above, reads the anti-climactic entry of August 9: “9. Abt. 6 Oclock put some Hemp in the Rivr. to Rot.”


In the End

Once again I must stress, we have zero proof that any of the “founding fathers”—including George Washington—actually smoked THC-bearing cannabis flowers. All that is known is that Washington separated male and female hemp plants.

Part of the key to this mystery is simply knowing the difference between hemp and cannabis. In the end, did revolutionary period patriots like Washington and Jefferson “smoke weed”?

Probably not.

Sorry. 

Here’s my personal justification for my position: Authority figures like Jefferson and Washington were inherently didactic intellectuals who obsessively curated, documented, and archived the world around them. If either had experienced a psychoactive effect from smoking hemp or cannabis, it probably would have been interpreted as a form of spiritual or intellectual enlightenment delivered from the plant—or possibly more likely perceived as a message from god—and meticulously documented in diaries, journals, and at the local pub.

Jefferson especially, I believe, would have waxed at length about the psychoactive effects of cannabis if he had ever experienced the euphoria of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  Such documentation for the masses was a big part of what these men did for a living and at the core of their beings. It was their jam.

But that’s just my opinion. Form your own from the facts and share your thoughts in the comments below. And don’t forget: Learn + teach others.

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Consumer Tech is the New Religion

Asking Forgiveness

We ask for forgiveness for having neglected our children by spending too much time on Facebook or posting a nasty comment on Tumblr. We pray that we’ll be blessed with better lighting for our next Instagram photo of an especially good tuna sandwich or perhaps a stranger’s overwhelmingly cute puppy (oh, the devotees it will generate!).

Our churches are Apple’s iTunes, Google’s Play, and Amazon’s Prime media streaming services—including their holy app stores. To discourage dissenters from leaving the flock, our Bibles are often unreadable at a different church. Netflix and Spotify are two major exceptions, translating their scripture into every language under the sun.

Step Aside, Dawkins & Warren

There seem to be more religious wars within modern consumer tech than there are within religion itself. Richard Dawkins and Rick Warren have nothing on Larry Page and Tim Cook. What began as the “PC vs. Mac” platform war in the 1980s, punctuated by Betamax versus VHS, has evolved into Xbox versus Playstation, Android versus iOS, and Tesla Motors versus Toyota. Samsung, Sony, Google, Microsoft, and Apple take shots at each other on a regular basis. It’s Hatfield messin’ with McCoy—only this time they’re armed with touchscreen tablets and password-protected internet routers.

Sometimes these religious wars are monotheistic, like Apple’s closed ecosystem that offers both hardware and software from a single vendor. Other companies ask us to worship many gods, like the availability of Microsoft’s Windows and Google’s Android from a number of hardware manufacturers. Often, the battles are less proprietary and more philosophical, such as hydrogen-powered cars versus battery electric vehicles (kind of like Greek Mythology).

Some in the academic community agree. In 2010, ABC News reported that Heidi Campbell, a communications professor at Texas A&M University, co-wrote a paper “exploring the religious myths and metaphors surrounding Apple.” “[The company] could offer a religious-like experience. It could basically perform the same role in people’s lives that being part of a religious community could,” she wrote.

Shockingly Abusive

The vitriol and defensiveness in many factions of these religious schisms has become shockingly brazen and, sometimes, even abusive. It’s as if someone took the Lord’s name in vain—or peed in your Cheerios. The utterance of “Apple sucks” or “electric cars are stupid” is bad enough; the response is typically worse. Members of the choir routinely compete for “Most likely to have not graduated middle school.”

“The Apple CEO was able to articulate a perfectly secular form of hope.”
— Christianity Today, January 2011.

But we’ve considered only the religions themselves, not the priests at the pulpit. PC versus Mac, was, of course, Bill Gates versus Steve Jobs. Electric cars versus the established Luddites of Detroit is obviously Elon Musk versus…well, the established Luddites of Detroit (this one is a true David and Goliath metaphor). In terms of building their congregations, it could even be argued that Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg are running competing megachurches.

The Gospel of Steve

“Steve Jobs, one of the most powerful people of our day, has offered a secular ‘gospel’ to our culture,” wrote evangelical Christian author Sean McDowell when Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO for health reasons in 2011. Even Christianity Today in January of 2011, in an article entitled “The Gospel of Steve Jobs,” wrote, “The Apple CEO was able to articulate a perfectly secular form of hope.”

The adoration bestowed upon the top executives of modern technology companies is like that of Southern Baptist parishioners during the rapture. We worship at the feet of charismatic pontiffs like Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg, and Richard Branson. They’re our silicon saviors, and the only thing that shakes our faith in them is a dead battery or too many casserole recipes in our newsfeed.

When it comes to mobile gadgets and streaming media, some of us even worship two gods—like a household with one Catholic and one Jewish parent that recognizes both Christmas and Hanukkah. These odd and overly open-minded people may sport both an iPhone 8 Plus from Apple and a Galaxy 7 from Samsung. They often do weird things like own a Galaxy Note smartphone and an iPad at the same time (!). Hasn’t anyone told them that this is, basically, against the rules?

Digital Dogma

In the end, the best digital dogma is the one that suits your lifestyle, budget, and personal beliefs. Or the one with the coolest logo. But it’s your money going into the offering plate; worship with the company or platform of your choice.

But what about the sinners? You know, the gluttonous people at the airport who hog two outlets to recharge their devices, or the rude fanboys who leave flippantly disparaging comments on your carefully articulated Facebook posts?

There’s a special place in hell for them. A place where there’s a complete lack of extended warranties and app updates, where the only stores are Circuit City and RadioShack, and where they’re given only a PalmPilot PDA and a CalicoVision game console.

For eternity.

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 6

In this series, I’ll take exactly 420 words of your day to discuss social, political, and legal topics related to the business and science of the emerging legal cannabis industry. I promise to address any feedback in the comments.

To set the mood, just listen to Cab Calloway tell you how it is…in 1932 (five years before cannabis became illegal in the United States).

Previous articles in this series:

Gooey Rabinski


The Myth of the Dying Black Market

Last November, four states passed voter referendum measures that legalized adult possession and use of cannabis within their borders. Joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington was California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

I know, you’re asking, “Hey, Gooey, hasn’t California had legal weed for a long time? Like decades?”

Well, yes and no….

A few cannabis magazines for which I’ve written.

Proposition 215, which was passed by the voters of California in 1996 and spearheaded by San Francisco’s aging LGBTQA+ pot superhero Dennis Peron and Valeria Corral, deals strictly with medical cannabis. It was the first such law in the United States, pre-dating even Canada’s historic and ultra-progressive federal-level medical cannabis legislation that went into effect in mid 2001.

There’s a lot of talk in recent years about how legal cannabis kicks the bad guys out of town. The theory goes that pot legalization not only generates valuable tax revenues, but also chases the undesirables out of a community. You know, the mobsters and cartels and shady dudes outside the 7-11 in the middle of the night.

All of the states that have recently legalized adult use cannabis touted how legalization removes organized crime from the picture.

Not so fast….

Here’s my take on things: Local legal markets will do little to nothing to push out the black market. Like nada.

Bean Rabinski, social media mad scientist.

Now that I’ve been in California for more than a year and have spent quite a bit of time in both Humboldt County and Los Angeles, I’ve seen the cannabis industry from two market perspectives: Production and consumption.

As long as there are 25+ states in which the adult use of cannabis is prohibited by law—and results in felony charges and possible jail time—there will be a healthy black market (there are currently 42).

The ability to purchase in markets where prices are driven down by competition (Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, etc.) but to sell in inflated markets fueled by prohibition will attract millions of Americans to break the law.

More on the topic of legalization + black markets next week….

— Gooey Rabinski

My thanks to Cleveland’s virtuoso blues guitarist Joe Rollin Porter for allowing me to continually bastardize his visage (this particular photo is from a fun craft beer-infused evening of Porter playing a small gig outside of Akron, Ohio in 2015 when I was fortunate enough to have my Nikon in the back of my Japanese sports sedan).


Next up: Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 7: Californication 


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Cannabis Queries, Part 4

Welcome to the fourth in a series of answers to queries directly from readers—all of which come in at exactly 420 words (out of respect to your time).

To set the mood, just listen to Cab Calloway tell you how it is…in 1932 (five years before cannabis became illegal in the United States).


Today’s cannabis query comes from Danielle Muggli, an actor and advocate for cannabis legalization in Montana. Danielle asks: “Do you know if there is a specific terpene that smells skunky or if it is a combination of terpenes?”

Great question, Danielle.

For queries regarding the chemistry of cannabis, I turn to my friends who are extraction wizards. In this case, I inquired with Sean Gee, founder of Medusa Labs in Los Angeles. Medusa Labs is an innovative startup that produces top-shelf cannabis extracts, including distillates. The company injects organic terpenes into oil distillates, with a focus on quality and medical efficacy.

I guessed that more than a single terpene is responsible the “skunk” aroma of some strains of cannabis. With 111 cannabinoids and 200 terpenes possible in an individual strain of marijuana, one must remember that this chemistry gets relatively complex. (In addition, expert Mara Gordon estimates there are 6,000 strains of cannabis.)

Said Gee:

“You’re right on the money, Gooey: It’s a mix of terpenes, led by myrcene, carophyllene (BCP), limonene, linalool, and pinene. These are all bonded together by the metabolic compound called Pre-ACOA (Acetyl Coenzyme A).

“That specific compound is hard to study because it’s a byproduct. In order to find the skunk-specific compound within the larger terpene compound, one must isolate that specific byproduct in relation to the terpene compounds that exhibit flavor and smell.”

By the way, there are chemicals in cannabis other than cannabinoids and terpenes that influence how humans perceive the herb. Chiefly, there are flavonoids, which—as their name implies—convey flavor.

One must always remember the issue of subjectivity whenever considering cannabis efficacy. Sativa strains typically are energizing and uplifting, while indica strains may cause lethargy or couchlock (although they’re typically better at things like killing pain). Some patients and consumers, however, react very differently.

There you are, Danielle: Many terpenes delicately co-mingle in a complex dance to create a unique aroma or flavor in a particular strain of cannabis.  Sometimes this mix results in a “skunk” aroma.


Click here for a list of 18 articles I’ve written about terpenes for a variety of media outlets.


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 5

In this series, I’ll take exactly 420 words of your day to discuss social, political, and legal topics related to the business and science of the emerging cannabis industry. I promise to address any feedback in the comments.

To set the mood, just listen to Cab Calloway tell you how it is…in 1932 (five years before cannabis became illegal in the United States).

Also check out my latest interview with Annenberg Media at the University of Southern California regarding the new cannabis business regulations in Los Angeles.

Gooey Rabinski

Other articles in this series:


Selecting an Industry Segment

Some of my clients are quite certain of the cannabis industry segment they wish to enter. Others are less sure. This is especially true with small, non-institutional investors with between, say, $100,000 and a million dollars to invest.

 

Such clients can’t engage with me to develop a permit application until they have decided upon an industry segment and jurisdiction. Given the population density of Southern California, this is no small task. Often, investors and entrepreneurs want to position their business close to home, typically to minimize their commute and support their local communities.

However, other investors and entrepreneurs are less tied to a particular jurisdiction. In these cases, difficult decisions must be made with respect to location. When there’s no outside influence pushing the selection of a particular jurisdiction for the location of a cannabis business, spreadsheets and application fees come into play.

Why Edibles Will Rule

While nobody has a crystal ball, several of my colleagues and I have come to a few basic conclusions regarding the emerging cannabis industry. Let’s consider the basic market dynamics of adult use legalization in a state like California.

There is a significant portion of society that simply will not indulge in an activity if it is illegal; let’s call them Legal Only Adopters (LOAs). There’s also a large portion of society that regards the act of smoking as vile and offensive—regardless of what is being smoked. The anti-tobacco backlash of the past few decades has created a generation with a serious disdain for smoking.

We’re predicting that LOAs who also dislike smoking will be the majority of the consumer market. This is really important if you’re considering entering the cannabis industry. While many consumers who were willing to break laws to indulge in cannabis consumption will forever combust the herb, smoking is simply not the future of cannabis consumption in the United States.

Edibles, topicals, and vaping (including the increasingly popular vape pens for mobile users) will rule the day. Some startups that intelligently position themselves as “craft” producers of specialty small-batch edibles, such as cookies, cakes, and artisanal chocolates, will become immensely successful.

More to come….

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 4

In this series, I’ll take exactly 420 words of your day to discuss social, political, and legal topics related to the business and science of the emerging cannabis industry. I promise to address any feedback in the comments.

To set the mood, just listen to Cab Calloway tell you how it is…in 1932 (five years before cannabis became illegal in the United States).


Lessons Learned

I moved to Los Angeles to focus on municipal-level compliance documentation for legal cannabis businesses. Immediately prior to relocating, I developed more than 100 county-level applications for outdoor cultivation in Humboldt County, California. Before that, I was writing state-level cannabis business applications for clients in Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

In this installment of Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, let’s discuss what I didn’t know before I came to Los Angeles to help legal cannabis businesses get permitted.


Most of us know that the “greenrush,” the label for the fledgling and disjointed cannabis industry in states like California and Colorado, is a hot market.

While the rumors and mainstream press give the impression that there’s more money in the industry than there actually is, there is certainly plenty of opportunity (and some folks are currently making bank). Especially for insightful, humble, hard working entrepreneurs.

Lesson #1: Clients Need Strategy

I have to, somewhat embarrassingly, admit that I anticipated moving to Los Angeles and jumping right into the hardcore development of permit applications for legal cannabis businesses.

I’m spending much of my time, however, consulting clients on strategy and direction. Big picture decisions, such as which market segment to enter.

Take an individual, non-institutional investor with between half a million and three million dollars. Do they launch a delivery business? Transportation? Maybe distribution? Will cultivation and dispensing be such crowded markets that margins will become too thin?

Ah, the questions. I am spending so much time in this strategy determination phase with clients because they know that, two to five years from now, they’ll either be multi-millionaires or one of the 70-90 percent that didn’t make it.

Lesson #2: Cultivation Will be Crowded

I moved to Los Angeles to surround myself with cannabis industry professionals. All of the smart kids I talk to are cautioning clients to think very carefully before getting into cultivation. Some industrial players in Colorado have, according to rumor, gotten production prices down to about $300 a pound.

Now that’s probably nothing to write home about in terms of top-shelf quality. But look at Budweiser’s market share in the beer industry.

Think transportation, security, distribution, and delivery. Think different.

— Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.


 

In Honor of #TerpeneTuesday

“Gooey Rabinski is the godfather of terpenes. Excellent resource material.” — Lieze Boshoff, 2017.

My hashtag #TerpeneTuesday has become popular on social media (particularly Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn).A few of my followers commented that I have many articles regarding terpenes, the aromatic molecules in cannabis that have been found to possess some relatively surprising medicinal efficacies.

Because these articles have been published by several different media outlets (making it confusing for my readers), I’ve assembled links to them below. And don’t forget to subscribe to GooeyRabinski.com to get alerts when I win an altercation with writer’s block.

Learn + teach others.

Gooey Rabinski

P.S.: Don’t forget to purchase my Understanding Medical Marijuana e-book. $5 on Amazon. Cheaper than a beer in Los Angeles and significantly more educational.


  1. Beta Caryophyllene (BCP): Cancer-Fighting Terpene
  2. Borneol: Another Powerful Cancer-killing Terpene
  3. Camphene: The Cannabis Terpene that Fights Cardiovascular Disease
  4. Cannabis Terpenes: More Than Strong Odors
  5. Cannabis Terpenes Offer Therapeutic Efficacy
  6. Cineole: The Memory-enhancing Terpene that Could Cure Alzheimer’s
  7. Delta 3 Carene: The Anti-inflammatory Bone Repairing Terpene
  8. Humulene: The Anti-inflammatory Cancer Killing Terpene that Smells Like Beer
  9. Limonene: The Terpene that Relieves Depression and Kills Cancer
  10. Limonene: Anti-cancer Terpene
  11. Linalool Cannabis Terpene
  12. Myrcene: Synergistic Cannabis Terpene
  13. Myrcene: The Powerful Terpene that Can Kill Cancer
  14. Pinene: Cancer-killing, Memory-enhancing Terpene
  15. Terpineol: The Tumor-killing Terpene that Fights Cancer
  16. Terpinolene: The Anti-cancer Terpene that Fights Insomnia
  17. Understanding the Cannabis Terpene Pinene
  18. What Do Beer and Cannabis Have in Common? Terpenes
  19. Why Terpenes are So Important

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 3

In this series, I’ll take exactly 420 words of your day to discuss social, political, and legal topics related to the business and science of the emerging cannabis industry. I promise to address any feedback in the comments.

To set the mood, just listen to Cab Calloway tell you how it is…in 1932 (five years before cannabis became illegal in the United States).


I’ve devoted decades to writing about enterprise technology, cloistered snugly in the cubicle-laden bosom of corporate America’s IT departments. But it’s all different now.

No longer are creative professionals like myself relegated to the button-down propriety of Fortune 500 corporations and their political correctness. The mere fact that eight U.S. states have legalized adult use (“recreational”) cannabis possession and consumption has resulted in tens of thousands of new jobs.

Many of these new jobs are entrepreneurial in nature. Smart, innovative people are eschewing the golden handcuffs of corporate America to forge out on their own, riding the wave of the emerging legal cannabis industry.

This week I met with the founders of two such companies: Medusa Labs and Hello Fruit Farm, both based in Los Angeles.

Medusa Labs

Medusa Labs is a startup focused on top-shelf cannabis extracts in the processing segment. Medusa synthesizes terpenes, infusing them into its organic concentrates at various stages of the production cycle.

Sampling lemon + menthol terpene-infused distillate.

From a user experience perspective, I can say only “wow.” My pocket vape pen has never produced such potent, yet delicate, flavors. I’m currently sampling a lemon menthol. That’s right, menthol. And it’s wonderful. They’ve also perfected a Fuji apple.

More about Medusa Labs to come….

Hello Fruit Farm

I love high-quality organic edibles that don’t force me to consume tons of sugar just because I want to ingest some cannabinoids and terpenes. They’re inherently stealthy, allowing patients to medicate at work or in public.

Hello Fruit Farm’s THC-infused organic dried fruit.

I must admit, I’m not a big fan of dried fruit. It’s typically tough and chewy and what I’d consider more appropriate for the family dog. Then I tried some THC-infused dried apricot, mango, and pineapple from Hello Fruit Farm. In a single evening, my perception of dried fruit changed in a major way.

The company uses cannabis oil to coat the organic dried fruit that it directly sources from farms in California’s Central Valley. It’s packaging is the bomb, the product is fresh (10 mg of THC per piece; 100 mg per package), and it’s truly delicious. It’s a fine craft product that future large corporate players will be challenged to match in terms of freshness and quality.

Gooey Rabinski

Also check out:


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 2

In this series, I’ll take exactly 420 words of your day to discuss social, political, and legal topics related to the business and science of the emerging cannabis industry. I promise to address any feedback in the comments.


Rock and roll, boys and girls. I’m celebrating five weeks in Los Angeles and have noted a few things about working in this city.

I moved to L.A. for my career, plain and simple. While not my motive in relocating, I happily indulge in the plentiful pampered Porsches and nearly perfect weather offered by Southern California. For those of you who have never visited SoCal: The weather and the people are even more beautiful than you have been led to believe.

There are 13 million residents of the City of Angels. The energy is intense. For every client that doesn’t sign on, there’s several others who are in need of one’s services. It’s just a matter of swimming through the Ferraris, hipster cafes, and plastic surgery clinics to find them.

This week I focused on networking. The standout event was the Cannabis Business Mixer organized by Kalogia, an online community that connects cannabis professionals and advocates in the green economy. It organizes events to allow its members to meet, both online and offline.

The enterprising entrepreneur behind Kalogia is Simone Cimiluca Radzins in Los Angeles. Judging by the professionalism and authenticity of the members in attendance at this week’s event, she’s very good at what she does.  The rooftop event, with music, wine, and plenty of smiling faces, put attendees at ease.

Standing in a room with dozens of innovative founders of businesses in the cannabis industry is exciting. There’s a buzz in the room…and I’m not talking about that buzz.

In a stagnant economy that has been on the ropes for more than a decade in the United States, progressive-minded solopreneurs and entrepreneurs are finding hope in the emerging greenrush. Despite a lack of merchant banking, insurance headaches, punitive and illogical regulations, and sometimes vociferous opposition at the federal level, those who wish to make their living helping create a better world are getting very excited.

One standout attendee at the Cannabis Business Mixer was Medusa Labs from Los Angeles. Led by young, smart entrepreneurs, the company is focused on purity, medical efficacy, and sustainable practices. And it’s golden concentrate is the bomb (the terpene profile is amazing). More about these SoCal concentrate wizards in the future.

So what’s on your mind? Let me know in the comments.

— Gooey Rabinski

Also check out:


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey’s Coffee Shop Cannabis, Part 1

In this series, I’ll take exactly 420 words of your day to discuss a social, political, or personal topic related to the business or science of the emerging cannabis industry. I promise to, in future articles, address any feedback left in the comments.


As I sit here on the outdoor patio of a trendy coffee shop in West Hollywood, I’m reminded of the wide variety of subcultures that exist within the cannabis industry.

West Hollywood is nothing if not inclusive; it embraces alternative lifestyles like Elton John embraced disco platform shoes in the 1970s. The emerging cannabis industry is no different. It must include many different subcultures and social influences in order to reach its potential.

But this is getting too serious. On a lighter note, I recently spent two weeks with Apple’s latest svelte MacBook Air. I loved it,  but ultimately exchanged it for the 13″ MacBook Pro, on which I’m currently writing this. I simply could not tolerate the non-HD (non-Retina) display on the MacBook Air.

I have been thinking about infused edibles lately. Most specifically, small batch craft coffee and beer. Like many patients, I gain the greatest medical efficacy from cannabis when I eat it (at least physically). But I consume very little sugar. I don’t want to have to consume a brownie, cookie, or gummy simply because I want to get some delta-11 THC coursing through my stomach and liver.

If the emerging cannabis industry truly meets the needs of adult use and medical consumers, it will make available infused versions of the most common beverages. This should include soda (some folks like sugar), beer, coffee, and even kombucha. If Miller Beer was able to build am empire out of “Lite” beer—which simply removed a few of the calories—just think of the riches that could be made on “infused” versions of popular drinks, including mass market beers, sodas, and ciders.

I love herb. I’ll admit, however, that I don’t like being relegated to smoking it. I also don’t like the cheap vape pens that have invaded the market. When I’m out and about in Los Angeles, I’d like options other than rolled or cone joints. A nice THC/CBD-infused kombucha would be really sweet.

Guess what? All of those online services for getting one’s California Prop 215 medical card? Bunk. One of my new clients is a physician who owns a clinic that performs such evaluations and gives recommendations. He has informed me that any recommendations granted “remotely” are invalid and not legal. Caveat emptor, kids!

— Gooey Rabinski

Also check out:


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

The Greenrush Bonanza: Part 5

To visit previous articles in this series:

Also check out my book Understanding Medical Marijuana, available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle.

Gooey Rabinski


A virtual parade of Porsches and Ferraris rained down upon Sunset Boulevard as I walked to my favorite coffee shop in West Hollywood for a meeting with an aspiring cannabis business. At times past in my career (such as during the dot com in the 1990s), I had to knock on plenty of doors to monetize my skills and experience.

Things are different now.

The greenrush, combined with a relatively small number of people who do what I do for a living, has resulted in plenty of knocks at my door. Each of these parties is interested in one thing: Launching a cannabis business in what promises to be a very rewarding industry segment. Especially for the organizations and cannapreneurs that have what it takes to survive in such a volatile—yet promising—market.

The label “greenrush” aptly applies to the current nascent cannabis industry, centered mostly on the West Coast and in Denver (but let’s not discount East Coast newcomers Maine and Massachusetts). One of the most consistent themes I hear echoed by colleagues here in Los Angeles is that, while more cannabis businesses will fail during the next decade of legalization than will make it, those that forge sustainable, realistic business plans—and that have the human and financial resources necessary to consistently execute on them—stand to make a great deal of money.

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. There is zero hyperbole in the perception that America currently resides on the precipice of what will relatively soon be a trillion dollar industry. Now that California and its 40 million inhabitants (who form the sixth largest economic GDP in the world) are down with legal adult use herb, the dominoes are truly beginning to fall.

This perfect storm has resulted in a logical feeling of panic among prospective investors who fear they will be left behind if they don’t soon become established in the industry.

img_4317-e1495488405313.jpg

One of the most pressing issues for a new cannabis business—be it a small-budget solopreneur project or a multi-million dollar corporate effort—is the deadlines set by jurisdictions for submission of permit and license applications. It is these deadlines that are putting prospective cannabis businesses in a panic.

As they should. The clock is ticking.

My clients often solicit my opinion of the emerging cannabis industry. While simple terms simply don’t suffice in describing what is a very fractioned, disruptive, and even frenetic emerging industry, I often throw out the term “confusing.”

Cannabis Business 101

Let’s take Los Angeles, for example. From the perspective of jurisdictional oversight, it’s both a city and a county (the only such occurrence in the United States, tell me the locals). This means two different jurisdictional bodies with which a cannabis business must contend.

There’s also the need to comply with regulations set forth by the State of California. Currently, however, regulations for adult use cannabis businesses in the Golden State are in only draft stage. And the guidance given by the state? Get permitted at the local and county levels to even think about obtaining a license at the State level later this year. However, merely meeting municipal or county regulatory requirements is no guarantee that the State will, in accordance, also grant a cannabis business permit.

With some jurisdictions in Southern California, such as Costa Mesa, charging about $50,000 to simply submit an application, the idea of investing a couple hundred thousand dollars to then be told by the State that one had to shut down their business understandably hampers the enthusiasm of many small businesses and solopreneurs.

Should your cannabis business invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into a venture that could, technically, be denied at the State level? This scenario would obviously crush the dreams of the creative humans behind such projects—and is more proof of the high-risk environment that is the emerging cannabis industry.

The rapidly emerging cannabis industry is not, quite honestly, for the faint of heart or risk averse. Only those who very carefully and strategically develop compelling business plans will survive.

This creates a stressful environment for entrepreneurs and the professional ancillary services upon which they depend, including attorneys, consultants, and compliance documentation professionals like me.

For those interested in navigating these shark-infested waters—rife with shady investors and fast-talking wannabes with little real experience—there’s a few basic considerations to be tackled prior to involving someone like myself.

img_4412

First, a cannabis business must have an address (as does any registered business; these aren’t new rules). Like other industry segments, the address must be in the right place. Many jurisdictions that allow cannabis businesses do so in a very restrictive manner. For example, if pot businesses are allowed only in Zone X, and Zone X is three percent of the land in a jurisdiction, options are obviously limited for entrepreneurs (although tapped-in real estate agents and investors sometimes make a mint).

Second, there’s the consideration of setbacks. Setbacks are minimum distances allowed between a cannabis business and places like schools, official school bus stops, churches, and even retirement homes. While there is often commonality among jurisdictions in their regulatory codes and guidance for cannabis businesses, in the end, each jurisdiction sets its own rules.

In Northern California’s Humboldt County, where I developed more than 100 permit applications for cannabis farmers last year, setbacks were typically 600 feet. Jurisdictions in Southern California, however, most commonly require 1000 or more feet between a cannabis business and something like a school.

Thus, the first consideration before engaging with professionals like me is knowing the exact location of the proposed businesses and learning the zoning and setbacks. For the most part, only if these requirements have been met can a business move forward with seeking a permit or license to legally operate in that particular jurisdiction.

However, it gets more confusing than this (one of the reasons I work with seasoned attorneys who help my clients navigate these regulatory challenges). Some jurisdictions allow exceptions or make available waivers for these requirements. Under the correct circumstances, some cannabis businesses that, on the surface, do not comply with jurisdictional oversight are afforded a hall pass, so to speak.

A Few Hints

My Greenrush Bonanza series will continue to evaluate and analyze the emerging cannabis industry and the topic of compliance documentation, with an obvious focus on legal states like California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Let’s also not forget the new adult use states that came online last November: Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts. Yes, now the East Coast is also getting in on the adult use cannabis economy.

img_4410

Many are unaware of California’s big business moratorium that is part of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA; also known as Proposition 64, the official name of the ballot initiative) passed in the state last November. It prevents big corporations from entering the market for adult use cannabis for five years (until January 1, 2023). The idea is to give small and midsize businesses that wish to leave the black market and join the ranks of legal businesses a fair chance, before the behemoth companies step in.

The combination of pending deadlines for permit applications and only five years until there’s an open door for large corporate players (like big tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and petrochemical companies) has created an environment in which entrepreneurs and investment groups are in a literal rush to get established. They are, intelligently, feeling the pressure to become fully legal (at least at the local and state levels) and carve out a slice of the emerging market before it’s too late.

A Friendly Warning

I recently moved to Los Angeles to focus on helping prospective cannabis businesses become established in this exciting emerging industry. This is a time when it’s critical to get into the game to get a good seat.

Experienced industry professionals and consultants have an opportunity to help Southern California form what is virtually guaranteed to be the most promising industry segment to emerge in the U.S. economy since Microsoft, IBM, and Apple duked it out in the dot com wars of the ’90s.

I respect the cannabis plant. It has blessed me and many of my friends and colleagues in countless ways. When used with good intent and in moderation, cannabis is virtually magical.

img_4411

However, a mere intense adoration for cannabis sativa in no way guarantees survival in this emerging industry. And, unfortunately, being “nice” simply does not always lead to success (as is seemingly the perception of many beautiful hippie souls in this industry who believe that good karma alone will carry them through).

Those who appreciate this magic herb and its medicinal molecules enough to dedicate their careers to it must also bring to the party a slew of business skills and critical thinking ability (or work with business partners/employees with possess these skills).

Do You Smell the Money?

People are currently smelling the money. In a tired economy that has been battered by the antiquated and bombastic boom and bust approach of Wall St., the United States (and, arguably, the world) needs legal cannabis and hemp to put hard working people back to work. The cannabis industry is an incredible opportunity to improve tax revenues in municipalities and counties throughout the nation, many of which are on the verge of bankruptcy or financially ill suited to best serve their residents (California City, a couple of hours east of Los Angeles, is one such example).

Sheer profit lust also won’t help a business succeed during this genesis of the legal adult use cannabis industry. It is a delicate and well balanced mix of business prowess, reverence for and understanding of the plant (learn the chemistry of cannabis here and all about terpenes here), and involvement of the right business partners and professional services that will separate successful from mediocre cannabis businesses.

Those who aren’t vigilant and don’t keep their eyes on the ball are, sadly, destined to fail.

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

The Greenrush Bonanza: Part 4

In most of the United States, where pot prohibition is the norm, the black market obviously rules the day. But in states that have legalized adult use cannabis, like California and Colorado, things are different.

Most Americans, when they learned that the United States had doubled the number of adult use legal pot states last November, were too distracted by the results of the presidential election to truly take notice and weigh the probable economic and cultural impacts of this dramatic shift in public policy.

In a single day, the United States went from four to eight states that allow adult use (“recreational”) cannabis possession and consumption. Joining Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska are California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts. Sixteen percent of U.S. states now officially condone sparking a joint or hitting a dab rig (but typically limit such activities to one’s home).

At 40 million residents, California is the most populous state in the nation (followed by Texas at 25 million and New York and Florida at 20 million each). As such, its emergence as a legal marketplace for cannabis products is especially noteworthy. According to Wikipedia, California is the sixth largest GDP economy in the world.

As such, the Golden State will hold considerable sway over the emerging trillion-dollar national consumer market for cannabis products and services. In my opinion, this will be due to three things:

  • California’s decades-long and relatively permissive pot culture.
  • The state’s first player advantage (it was the genesis of “medical marijuana” 20 years ago in 1996 with Proposition 215).
  • The sheer girth of the Golden State’s economy.

Rough Regulatory Ride

Many laypeople, upon learning that a state has legalized adult use cannabis, believe the heavy lifting to be over. It’s a common perception to anticipate that dispensaries and cultivation facilities will begin popping up on every corner following the successful passage of a cannabis-friendly ballot initiative.

In reality, though, this is rarely the case. After a pot law is passed, then comes the arduous task of wrapping regulatory oversight around the legislation. This involves defining specific elements of the law and how they will be implemented, enforced, and potentially altered in the future.

This is the messy job of public policy in which all stakeholders have a vested interest. Unfortunately, many simply don’t know it.

Let’s dig a little deeper: Many state laws don’t prohibit individual jurisdictions within the state (such as counties and municipalities) from banning cannabis businesses. And this is no trivial issue.

Dozens of jurisdictions in Washington, Oregon, and California have banned—to one extent or another—cannabis businesses within their borders. Fortunately, personal possession and consumption can’t be banned due to the fact that it would go counter to state law (a higher legal authority).

This patchwork of counties and cities banning cannabis businesses is bad for several objective reasons. First, it’s about the economy, stupid.

Second, it’s a tad ironic when a town or county often featuring dozens of liquor stores and bars says no to cannabis and allowing safe access for patients and recreational consumers alike. I believe in giving consumers options. This is only ethical and good karma, because presupposing the preferences of consumers or tax paying citizens is not only rude, but it is batshit crazy.

Let me explain. Any community that embraces the legal and regulated sale of alcohol that simultaneously prohibits cannabis businesses is depriving itself of tax revenue while preventing its citizens from accessing fair and ethical medical and social options.

The emergence of legal markets for cannabis products touches many layers of society. Yes, there are literally trillions of annual dollars at stake in this game.

There’s a trend in the United States. After cannabis becomes legal, many people—especially more conservative citizens who would never dip into the black market and have been unwilling to break the law—develop a quiet interest in cannabis.

This trend is rife in legal states, especially among senior citizens seeking healthy alternatives to opioids and other expensive pharmaceutical treatments that carry addiction and a slew of negative side effects.

How will this mechanism affect the cannabis industry? Will it be different on the East Coast than the West Coast?

Gooey Rabinski


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.