The Greenrush Bonanza: Part 3

One could argue that this post doesn’t qualify as “from the road” due to the fact that I’m sitting in the middle of Humboldt County, my current place of residence, as I slap it out on my keyboard.

But that would be exactly the point; my time here in the heart of Northern California’s pot production province has been an educational weigh station on my quest to gather as much knowledge and insight into the emerging cannabis industry as possible.

Reflecting on Humboldt County

For more than five generations, disenfranchised Americans have been seeking refuge in the hills and mountains of Northern California. Concentrated in the counties loosely defined as the “Emerald Triangle,” they do more than grow a bunch of weed.

Most have eschewed the values and rules of mainstream society to live off the grid. Many generate their own electricity from local streams and rivers and grow their own food. According to some sources, this part of the nation is home to more hard core homesteaders than any other in North America.

Humboldt Bay, June 2016.

When I first moved to Humboldt County in the summer of 2016, I made no predictions regarding the term of my stay—either to myself or others. Given the surreal nature of the county and the horrid weather this year, it was a helpful psychological coping mechanism to consider myself “on assignment.”

My time in Humboldt has been characterized by months of bone-chilling rain that resulted in my bicycle going unused and becoming a perpetually anchored sculpture in my bedroom. But let’s focus on the positive: Peppered into this adventure were some really cool photo shoots on the beach for trendy Emerald Magazine. (My thanks to the magazine’s publisher, Christina DeGiovani, one of the classiest and most effective people in the cannabis industry.)

Grown by a master cultivator in Humboldt.

Of course, the adventure was intense. I encountered some intelligent and enlightened subject matter experts, a slower pace of life than I anticipated (or desired, quite honestly), regional organic craft beer (!), and a dreamy brunette. I apologize for complaining about the rain; my time in Humboldt hasn’t been all overcast skies.

Compliance Docs for Legal Cannabis

My reason for landing in Humboldt was to take advantage of compliance documentation opportunities with clients based in the Emerald Triangle. After helping a local client write the narratives for more than 100 of these permit applications to the County, I began branching out to assist legal cannabis businesses with strategizing and developing similar documentation in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Los Angeles Will Be Pivotal

The passage of California’s Proposition 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act) last November finally brought the most populous state in the nation into rank with existing bastions of adult use legalization—including Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. (At 40 million inhabitants, California exceeds Canada’s population by five million).

Checking out the cannabis business scene in Los Angeles.

As such, California’s largest population center, Los Angeles, will be the genesis of much industry activity and regulatory influence. This will inevitably include significant innovation in products, marketing, branding, and distribution.

There’s an unofficial and roughly two-year window of opportunity for businesses in California to become compliant with municipal (local), county, and state regulations—depending on their exact jurisdiction. The core components of this compliance are permitting (licensing) and the successful endurance of inspections (which are of a surprise nature in many jurisdictions).

As such, Los Angeles is my next stop. I’ll continue to help legal cannabis businesses throughout the United States with compliance documentation. I’ll simply be doing it from a warm, sunny patio and planning my next cycling adventure.

Canadian Shoutout

Special thanks to the guys at 420 Radio in Canada for having me as a guest on a recent podcast. I appreciate their kind support and twisted senses of humor. Just don’t ask the name of the dog….


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.

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Gooey’s Cannabis Queries, Part 3

Welcome to the third 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).

— Gooey Rabinski


Today’s cannabis query comes from Michelle Benton, one of Alabama’s leading advocates for cannabis legalization and decriminalization. Michelle asks: “What is the difference between live resin and resin.” Great question.

Resin

Resin is the sticky substance produced by the trichomes of the plant’s flowers and sugar leaves. Trichomes are the nearly microscopic secretory glands of the mature female cannabis plant that are the source of all cannabinoids and terpenes and that consist of mostly resin. This gooey substance produced by the trichomes acts as protection for the cannabinoids and terpenes, shielding them from things like UV light or being gobbled by predators.

An example of master gardening in Humboldt County, California.

In fact, terpenes (which are responsible for the sometimes pungent aroma of cannabis) are an evolutionary defense mechanism employed by the plant to prevent predators, like insects and animals, from eating the flowers prior to their reproduction.

In some parts of the North America, resin is the name given to the black tar that builds up in one’s pipe if not cleaned on a regular basis. In actuality, resin is resin is resin, whether it has been combusted with a flame or not.

To learn more about resin, check out this article I wrote for WoahStork.

Live Resin

Live resin is a full-spectrum (also called “full-plant”) concentrated extract involving expensive laboratory equipment. It is a process by which a smokeable or vapable concentrate is produced from a freshly harvested cannabis plant.

But one doesn’t produce live resin using equipment found in their kitchen or garage. Why? Because this process involves cryogenic freezing (at temps below -292 degrees F) of the plant immediately following harvest. Also, live resin production typically involves the entire plant, not just the flowers.

A live resin vape cartridge from Los Angeles-based Alpine.

The appeal of live resin is the fact that it supposedly captures a more robust and complete cannabinoid and terpene profile than other, more traditional extraction processes (such as BHO [butane hash oil] and CO2 extraction). Fans of aromatic terpenes gravitate toward live resin.

During the drying process, some experts have estimated that up to 60 percent of a plant’s terpene content is lost! Because live resin involves post-harvest cryogenic freezing of a plant, this loss is prevented.

For more about live resin, check out the piece I wrote for MassRoots.



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 2

I recently traveled to Los Angeles to check out the compliance documentation scene for cannabis businesses. But let’s step back for a second. What is compliance documentation in the first place?

As challenging and expensive as it may be, the legalization of cannabis in a jurisdiction like a state is actually the easy part. It’s the formation of regulatory oversight that is the arduous task. Unfortunately, many cannabis consumers and business owners don’t participate in this phase of legalization.

That’s sad, because the devil is in the details. Fair and balanced regulations require all parties to have a voice in their development, implementation, and enforcement. Often, conservative forces that like to challenge such laws (and ban cannabis businesses) don’t emerge until after legalization has occurred. The mere fact that adult use cannabis becomes legal frightens them and often calls them to action.

Regulations are hard fought. Conservative forces want to restrict or ban cannabis businesses, while progressives fight for minimal or open regulations that allow all players, including small solopreneurs and family businesses, to participate.

Consider a state in which adult use cannabis production and consumption has been legalized, such as California, Colorado, Oregon, or Washington. While individual jurisdictions, like counties and cities, cannot form legislation that goes counter to state law (such as outlawing the possession or consumption of pot), they can ban cannabis businesses.

Well, they can unless state law explicitly says they cannot. Unfortunately, the legal language in states like California and Colorado allows cities and counties to form such bans. The logic behind such efforts is typically that of protecting a community’s way of life. Fear of diversion to minors and the black market is often cited, as well as an illogical prediction of increased crime rates (it is the preservation of the black market that supports criminal activities, not the other way around).

Thus, the regulatory landscape has quickly become almost overwhelmingly complex. In The Greenrush Bonanza: Part 1, I discussed how family farmers and small businesses in Northern California are typically ill-equipped to deal with such regulatory complexity. Too often, such small businesses are good at one thing (cultivating cannabis, for example), but relatively poor at balancing their spreadsheet or devising a comprehensive strategy of ensuring regulatory compliance.

Unfortunately, complying with regulatory code is not an easy or inexpensive task. Application fees alone can exceed $10,000. Startups wanting to operate multiple businesses (such as a cultivation facility and a distribution service) must obtain multiple permits or licenses, each of which can carry an overall cost of between $20,000 and $250,000 (depending on the jurisdiction and permit sought).

The next time one of your friends or colleagues quips “I’m thinking about starting a cannabis business,” ask them a few hard questions. Where? Is the property zoned properly? Are they aware of setbacks, which are “safe distances” from things like schools and churches?

In a conversation I overhead in Los Angeles last week, someone said that speculative parties are mapping the zones in the city where cannabis businesses are allowed to operate (where the regulatory language states they are zoned correctly and outside of any setbacks). Property values are skyrocketing in such areas based on the potential revenue they could produce if operated as a cannabis business.

The issue of capital is critical for aspiring cannabis business owners. I’ve witnessed dozens of startups flounder or die because of a lack of capital (not to mention a deficiency of strategy and business planning).

If a company seeking a transportation license in, say, Lynwood, California can’t afford the $7,200 application submission fee (which in no way guarantees that the application will result in a legal permit or license), they can’t play the game. Fair or not, this is how regulations are being formed at the local level in states like California.

If you want to learn about how to gain the right to run a cannabis business in a legal state, subscribe and follow this series. I’ll use it as a platform to teach readers about the confusing and volatile world of cannabis regulatory oversight.

I know that doesn’t sound very sexy, but anyone wanting to begin and operate a cannabis businesses has to go mad scientist on all of this. Or they simply will not be able to open their doors in the first place—let alone thrive and make plentiful profits (the fantasy of most startup founders).

— 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.