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 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 installments 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 saying, “Hey, Gooey, hasn’t California had legal weed for a long time? Like decades?”

Well, yes and no….

A few cannabis magazines.

Proposition 215, which was passed by the voters of California in 1996 and spearheaded by San Francisco’s aging LGBTQA+ pot superhero Dennis Peron, 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 42 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. 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 Joe playing a small gig outside of Akron, Ohio in 2015).


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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Stay tuned for more observations on the exciting journey of entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized businesses that are entering the emerging legal adult use cannabis market.

— 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.

Craft Cannabis Series: Colorado’s DuraBowl

In my cannabis travels, one of the most prominent themes I encounter is that of small craft businesses that fear the onslaught of large corporations during the current emergence of the American cannabis industry that is popularly labeled the “green rush.”

Often motivated almost entirely by profit—and with little true understanding of the cannabis plant or our culture—some fear that the megacorps will drive out the small players. The “mom and pop” shops, so to speak. 


Welcome to the first in a series of articles regarding the craft cannabis business in America in 2016. For this debut piece, an obvious candidate rose to the top of my list: Lauren Ely, the founder of DuraBowl

Craft Business Focus

Craft business lies at the heart of Americana. Millions of immigrants have come to this country to enjoy a way of life predicated on hard work, a competitive spirit, and the provision of quality and value to customers. It’s simply good karma. 

Wall St. profit mongering and mega-corporations may seem as “American” as Twitter, M&Ms, and the latest iPhone to the youth of today, but these social elements decidedly were not the goal of the founders of this nation. Ben Franklin is rolling in his grave—and that is not an intentional double entendre. 

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The DuraBowl: All the hip kids know. (Credit: DuraBowl)

DuraBowl is one such small company. Based in Colorado and founded by Lauren Ely, a passionate advocate of freedom and human rights, this startup provides convenience, value, and practicality to its customers. 

I love being outside. Seems I’m either madly pumping my carbon fiber ballerina (bicycle) down a Texas highway to stay healthy or I’m stomping through shrubs and climbing sharp rocks to get that perfect sunset photo.

Regardless, I’m in love with the DuraBowl. Why? It simply works.

[The unit accommodates up to six grams of finely ground flowers, but concentrates can be added for a more medicated weekend. The solid ceramic construction means the DuraBowl is always cool to the touch. Allow the chamber to cool post-toke and replace the child-proof cap and you’re once again safely and securely on-the-go.]


Outside Medicine

When exploring the great outdoors, safely and conveniently storing and smoking cannabis is essential. Rainstorms happen (and are wonderful). However, smart stoners don’t take their heady glass when visiting the nation’s mountains, rivers, and beaches for good reason.

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Inclusive philosophies—and the execution thereof. (Credit: DuraBowl)

What about those in newly legal states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington? Or the stalwart genesis state of all things quality cannabis: California?

Coincidentally, these areas offer a wealth of outdoor activities and support what are arguably the most vibrant tourism markets in the nation. However, dropping an $80 glass pipe onto a rock face in Boulder or off a cliffside in Santa Cruz isn’t the type of pyrex problem that puts a smile on the face of most pot smokers….


DuraBowl = Tough Kit

Enter DuraBowl. This unique product, produced in Colorado by a small startup company, is what my British toker mates would call “tough kit.” I personally cherish my DuraBowl because it embodies a creative solution to smoking on-the-go. It is this innovative spirit that is at the heart of great products that serve customers of today—not yesterday.    

Affordable, practical cannabis smoking products—made in America—aren’t necessarily easy to find. With so much low-quality stuff mindlessly and unethically stamped out in China, products aimed squarely at fans of the cannabis culture, that also put Americans to work at fair wages, are a very refreshing change.

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In style at the cabin with the DuraBowl. (Credit: DuraBowl)

DuraBowl. It’s so simple. Maybe that’s the genius of it. But you don’t want to hear me wax lovingly about this affordable product. The words of Lauren Ely are much more impactful.

Lauren Ely, Founder/CEO DuraBowl

“I saw Ben Cohen, of Ben and Jerry’s fame, speak at the national convention in Vegas in 2014—I was so inspired. I hope to build a company known not only for its high-quality products, but also with a reputation for excellent ethics that gives back to the community.

“We have seen the result of profit at the expense of workers and the planet; it’s time to reverse that disastrous course.”

Q & A

The following Q&A was conducted with Lauren Ely, the founding CEO of DuraBowl, in May of 2016. I’ve met many greedy, shortsighted founders in the emerging cannabis industry; Ely isn’t one of them.

Toker tip: I have found a small 3/8″ screen to work perfectly in the DuraBowl.


Gooey Rabinski: “When did you decide to build a better pipe for cannabis consumers on-the-go?”

Lauren Ely: “This is something that most definitely evolved from my own experiences. I am a Gen Xer from the East Coast, so I grew up during the “Just Say No” years of prohibition. Not only was the brick weed terrible compared to Colorado kindbud, but the prevalence of paraphernalia was also limited.  

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Leaves on the flowers of healing.

“There is a saying in the cannabis culture that if you give a stoner some weed, but no pipe, they will suddenly become MacGyver in terms of their ingenuity.

“In college, I remember smoking out of apples, tin foil, and aluminum cans. Not only does metal taste terrible, it is being linked to Alzheimer’s disease! I wanted a better solution. I have also shattered many a glass bowl while away from my carpeting. I was also tired of my pockets and purses lined in weed. So we solved these problems with DuraBowl.”

[Ed: As shown in the photos herein, the DuraBowl features a child-proof twist-lock lid that prevents herb from escaping during transport or storage.]

GR: “How did living in Colorado inspire the design of your durable pipe?”

LE: “Colorado is an incredibly outdoorsy state. The culture here revolves around being outside in many different ways. We’re known for our winter mountain sports, of course. In the summer, there is hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and tubing. Most Colorado people love being active!

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DuraBowl: Part of one’s waterproof outdoor kit. (Credit: DuraBowl)

“For less physical culture, we have a great local music and comedy scene and our breweries are second to none. And, of course, even if you are just hanging out with buddies for a smoke sesh, the ease of transporting a loaded DuraBowl—or three—will make you a welcome and honored guest. Especially if it is filled with dank Colorado kindbud.

“I wanted something easily transportable to enjoy all the culture Colorado has to offer.”

GR: “Living in Austin, my house is 100 percent ceramic tile floors. I dropped the DuraBowl on the floor recently and was more concerned about the tile than your ceramic bowl. Fortunately, both survived my sloppiness….

“How important was achieving a reasonable price point so consumers can have two or three DuraBowls for a weekend of medicine and fun?”

LE: “Very important, not only for the purpose of having several you can load up and take out, but also because these pipes are brandable. I can brand with logos for companies (ask your local dispensary), but I can also do more fun branding.

“Holidays, festivals, jam bands…even personalized wedding pipes. We can do all of these things. So we wanted to achieve a price point that would allow our customers not only to have several for daily use, but as commemorative pieces as well.  

“The alcohol industry is doing this with wine labels now, so I wanted the cannabis aficionado to also have brandable, affordable item. It’s also a great price point for a small gift for the cannabis lover in your life. We are similarly priced to the larger, mass-produced bowls made in China. DuraBowl offers many more advantages, however.”

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Respecting the plant and patients.

GR: “What does the future hold for DuraBowl?”

LE: “We are currently out-of-stock and about to produce our next run. We are a baby company, indeed. But we’re excited that we have gotten some really good reviews—as well as some helpful suggestions regarding how we can improve our product as we grow.

“I would definitely like to offer more design options for our consumers in terms of color, cap design, and different bore sizes—for both the novice and experienced smoker.

“We also are looking at adding some other products that fit with our mission, which is brandability and portability for the smoker on-the-go. Hopefully soon you will find the DuraBowl on the shelves of local dispensaries, head shops, and convenience stores that sell pipes.”


I got “lifted,” as my Austin-based CBD mentor Dr. Ed Martino would say, to write this article with some graciously accepted Northern California outdoor organic—stuffed in a DuraBowl while listening to vampire songs on Spotify.

It was pretty groovy. I encourage you to try it.


All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a photographer, writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The 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.

Finally, a Diversity Summit

Thanks to loyal readers for tolerating my walkabout time in Portland, Oregon over the past few weeks. I’m back in Austin and enduring cannabis prohibition with the Rolling Stones and Arctic Monkeys playing in the background….

What is on my mind, however, isn’t rock music. Or even cannabis prohibition. It’s inclusion. My time in ultra-progressive Portland impressed me with the inclusiveness of its culture. Which is great for Portland and the state of Oregon….

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The clone room of a 40,000 sq. foot commercial garden in Eugene, Oregon.

What about the rest of the country? The fledgling cannabis industry is struggling to promote the voices of many minority players, plain and simple. This is only exacerbated by the introduction of big money to the game. Old, established powers are simply rebranding themselves—often under a nefarious cloak—and entering the green rush in an effort to boost their existing profit margins.

Unfortunately, the values of the establishment often clash with those of various segments of the patient and adult user cultures—as well as the various leaders, businesses, and organizations that populate this highly fragmented movement.

The rapid growth of the cannabis industry, commonly known as the “green rush,” has left many segments of the movement-cum-mainstream-business adrift in uncertainty.

Will the future of legal cannabis be diverse and inclusive across socioeconomic, gender, gender preference, and racial lines?

What will be the influence of—and opportunity for—minorities as legal cannabis products and services begin to produce trillions of dollars in revenues and billions in taxes?

Many fear that those who have been marginalized in mainstream society will also suffer within the newly emerging cannabis industry. To ensure a healthy economic ecosystem, the green rush must produce companies and leaders who are capable of breaking from the old rules to embrace a more collaborative framework that truly serves the needs of patients and adults users in the 21st century.

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Cannabis Diversity Summit organizer Charlo Greene (photo credit Go GREENE).

Inclusion, diversity, and a passion for patients will be an inherent part of our culture and industry if Anchorage-based cannabis legalization activist and entrepreneurial dynamo Charlo Greene has anything to say about it.

Cannabis Diversity Summit

Her advocacy group, Go GREENE, has organized the first Cannabis Diversity Summit, a unique event intending to—as its name implies—offer education, inspiration, insight, and networking for minority participants wishing to succeed in the cannabis industry.

“Cultivating diversity and inclusion is our proud duty,” Greene told me during an exclusive interview. Unlike much of the old money entering the cannabis industry, Greene’s passion isn’t rooted in profits.

“Cultivating diversity and inclusion is our proud duty.”  — Charlo Greene

To maximize benefit to participants, the Cannabis Diversity Summit is a free event and will also be livestreamed online at charlogreene.com. It will be held Sunday, May 15 at the smoke-friendly Nativ Hotel in scenic Denver. The Summit will be an opportunity for all participants to network and exchange ideas. Mentoring relationships will be encouraged to help new members of the cannabis industry gain knowledge from seasoned experts.

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Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

The Cannabis Diversity Summit will include a Saturday, May 14 VIP networking mixer and dinner—featuring a special speaker—on the evening prior to the event .

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Charlo Greene Q&A

Gooey Rabinski: “What motivated you to organize the Cannabis Diversity Summit, something that has not yet been done in this industry?”

Charlo Greene: “It’s clear that ensuring an inclusive industry for black and brown people is the last priority of cannabis event organizers. Do you know anyone living in a community devastated by prohibition that can afford a $1,000 event pass to gain access to the opportunities the cannabis industry offers?

I don’t.

So I’m taking it upon myself to bring the information and opportunities to the people that really need it—at a price I know they can afford: Free.

Why? Because if not me, who? I cannot, in good conscience, sit idly by and watch the opportunity to re-empower the communities that have been abused by our broken justice system pass. We only have now.”

GR: “Charlo, what do you hope the effect of your Cannabis Diversity Summit is a month into the future? What about six months or a year from now?”

CG: “A month into the future, I expect to see more black and brown faces publicly advocating for cannabis reform and starting cannabis businesses than ever before.

Six months from now, I expect to see black and brown community leaders rallying against voter initiatives that claim sick kids matter, but black lives and the lives of everyone else needlessly locked up over cannabis don’t. And I expect current members of the cannabis industry to no longer sit in silence when watching their colleagues advocate for higher barriers of entry into the industry.

A year from now, I expect the advocates with Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, and the Drug Policy Alliance that are helping write voter initiatives and policies to realize that people of color are now watching. They can no longer make concessions that will allow police to continue using cannabis to criminalize members of our communities.”

GR: “Is this the beginning of more efforts to cultivate diversity in our new industry?”

CG: “Absolutely. The Cannabis Diversity Summit happening in Denver is the first of many long-overdue community discussions that we know will inspire immense change. How? By providing education and opportunity to the people the really need it. All free-of-charge.”

GR: “See you in Denver on the 14th….”

CG: “I’m looking forward to it!”


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The cannabis-friendly Nativ hotel in Denver, site of the Cannabis Diversity Summit.

All participants in the cannabis industry can do more to embrace and create an inclusive, representative culture that fosters collaboration and strong creative forces and fairness within the industry. In fact, without this cooperative spirit, the industry will miss an opportunity to do things right.

Let’s begin with a common base of knowledge and a perspective worthy of this amazing plant and its ability to help humanity. The Cannabis Diversity Summit is a great start. Let’s hope we see more of this type of organized activism in the future. 


Cannabis Diversity Summit Agenda

  • Cannabis industry pioneers sharing how to get into the new legal industry.
  • Game-changing activists offering invaluable insight on winning the fight for reform.
  • As a show of unity, representatives from all active cannabis advocacy and industry organizations with a focus on diversity will have the opportunity to present.

Perspectives from thought leaders of color on the following topics:

  • Legislation
  • Regulation
  • Law enforcement
  • Advocacy
  • Marijuana as medicine
  • Mass incarceration
  • And more….

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The 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 Spirituality

[Updated September 23, 2017.]

In the past, I’ve explored the topic of coming out of the cannabis closet, comparing this life event with the traditional LGBTQ+ definition of the term.

I’ve also explored the topic of holistic wellness, use of cannabis with intent, and the conceptual framework of mind, body, and spirit. Today, let’s focus on spirit.

This is undoubtedly the most diverse and ambiguous of the three major areas in which cannabis can help humans. For some, spirituality is a devoutly religious area of their lives. For others—many of whom are agnostic or atheist—spirituality is different. It may encompass anger management, improvement of interpersonal skills, athletic prowess, sexual performance, or even the quest for purpose in life.

Gooey Rabinski on a photo shoot in Toronto.

One’s spirituality is also influenced by their particular place in life. Have they recently received a big promotion? Maybe they’ve suffered the untimely death of a loved one. The discovery of new romance is always a spiritual energizer. Divorce can be both defeating and liberating at the same time. Other positive milestones include a diverse set of life events experienced by close friends and loved ones (think graduation, one’s first home, a new motorcycle, or a highly anticipated pregnancy or birth).

For me, spirituality is seeking truth. This obviously occurs on two levels: The objective, physical reality around us (tech, social media, and communications advancements are all based on this increasing scientific knowledge) and our subjective, personal perspective (our “innermost” selves).

It is this personal perspective for which I gain such tremendous benefits from cannabis. Like many of you, I’m not very happy with the state of things in the world at the moment. Yet, the reality is that things are better than ever.

Wealth distribution still sucks and large segments of society—including Latinos, African-Americans, and members of the LGBTQ+ community—are still marginalized and persecuted on a daily basis. But things are still better than at any point in history (aren’t you glad you weren’t born 300 years ago?).

Then there’s cannabis prohibition…. If you’re like me, you’ve decided to medicate daily and with intent. Intent for what? To improve overall health and wellness.

This lifestyle, in the majority of the United States, can be challenging and frustrating. Obtaining safe, quality cannabis medicine that’s most appropriate for one’s condition(s) and lifestyle is sometimes impossible and almost always difficult. Not to mention exceedingly expensive and never covered by health care.

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The clone room in a 40,000 sq foot commercial facility (Eugene, Oregon).

I use cannabis to tone my frustration, so to speak. To help put things in perspective and give me that elusive state of mind we call patience.  The ability to employ a careful, slow strategy in one’s career, advocacy, or personal relationships is paramount to success. Does cannabis help with this?

If one has clean, quality medicine: I believe so. But I’ll admit that your experience may differ.

Recently, my use of cannabis with intent for thoughtful introspection and strategizing my career resulted in a relocation to Los Angeles.

I’ll need cannabis more than ever to put things in perspective and help prevent me from drinking anyone’s Kool-Aid along the way. I’ll need it to gain the confidence to proverbially walk into entrenched, cloistered subcultures to gain their trust, learn their stories, and help their businesses get into the cannabis business.

If you look closely, you’ll find that you’re surrounded by stories of how cannabis helps people with mind, body, and spirit. These improvements are woven into the fabric of their personal, financial, and social lives.

Consuming cannabis isn’t simply getting high. 

Unless you relegate yourself to a state of mere euphoria because of your limited intent, that is.

In other words, assume you’re capable of manifesting your vision. If your vision is ambiguous, pessimistic, or ignorant of the potential of the situation, your manifestation—the cumulative fruit of your lifelong efforts—will suffer. It may even suck (we all know plenty of sad people who perceive their lives to be a wreck).


The next time you’re feeling down or are on the verge of losing hope, think of the long game. Imagine national legalization of pot. Visualize every city in the United States sporting dozens or even hundreds of legal dispensaries or retail outlets (just like beautiful Portland, Oregon), most of which offer safe access to laboratory-tested, premium-quality cannabis medicine.

A lofty goal, no doubt.

Seeing beyond the ignorance, bigotry, and stereotypical thinking of prohibitionists and conservatives is no easy task. Bearing the brunt of daily criticism or even rejection from neighbors, friends, or co-workers because of a simple cannabis lifestyle is just part of the reality of being a modern user of the herb.

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A cannabis legalization activist in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada).

While many of us, especially journalists, focus on the states and cities that have progressively legalized cannabis—such as Portland, Seattle, and Denver—we must also remember that most of the nation doesn’t enjoy such luxury and safety.

We must redirect our anger, align our thoughts, and push forward into the 21st century with optimism and a knowledge that cannabis will be legalized nationally within most of our lifetimes.

In states that have legalized, the fight continues to assure rational regulations and the formation of an industry that is inclusive of all elements of society, lacking the misogyny and “old boy” rules of the 20th century.

Because we didn’t come this far just to let the bad guys win, did we?

— 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.

How Many States Will Legalize Pot in 2016?

[Updated October 12, 2016]

What began as a pool of roughly 11 states that would potentially allow their citizens to decide if they wanted adult use cannabis legalization on their home turf has dwindled to only five.

The cannabis legalization movement in 2016 is providing both patients and recreational consumers with more pot freedom than they have enjoyed since…well, since cannabis was first outlawed on the federal level in August of 1937.

In other words, than since ever.

The trick? It all depends on where one lives.

Leveraging Momentum

In an attempt to leverage the momentum and political capital generated by current cannabis legalization in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, many states have bills or ballot issues pending that, if passed, will allow their adult citizens (21 or older) to legally possess and consume cannabis without medical necessity—sometimes via dispensary networks.

Five U.S. states will consider adult use (“recreational”) cannabis legalization this fall, including California (Prop 64), Arizona (Prop 205), Maine (Question 1), Massachusetts (Question 4), and Nevada (Question 2).

Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota will offer their voters medical laws. Ohio and Pennsylvania, via their state legislatures (not a popular vote), introduced medical cannabis laws in the first half of 2016.

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In California, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is expected to win the majority of votes (current polling suggests that 60% of California’s voters are in favor of the controversial proposition). The Golden State is already a billion dollar market for medical cannabis—let alone the grey and black markets that exist in the nation’s most populated state.

Most significantly: The addition of Cali to the list of adult use states will add nearly 40 million Americans to those who can legally indulge in the kind herb.

In one fell swoop, more than 12 percent of the nation would suddenly have the legal right to possess, consume, and probably cultivate cannabis.

When one considers that Colorado has only 5.5 million residents, Oregon sports a mere four million, Washington is home to 7.2 citizens, and Alaska has only 740,000 legal inhabitants, California’s population stats begin to take on significance.

If the state legalizes recreational cannabis in November—something that is  likely to occur—it will, overnight, create the world’s largest legal recreational market for cannabis.

Lured to Legitimacy

Many cannabis breeders, cultivators, and resellers operating on the black and grey markets will be lured into legitimacy. There’s significant value and health benefits in not having to look over one’s shoulder for the five-oh or wonder if black helicopters will land on your farm.

No risk of legal penalties, at least from authorities in California (the feds are a different story) will be very appealing to tens of thousands of people currently making a living from the recreational cannabis market in California.

This isn’t meant to diminish the positive influence of pioneering states like Colorado and Washington. For very sick patients and those who embrace cannabis as a lifestyle, these states are currently among the best places in the nation to reside or do business. They not only embrace the cannabis culture, they help define it.

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California and Washington, D.C. are typically at odds, both culturally and economically. California is home to Hollywood, Silicon Valley, SpaceX, Apple, Tesla Motors, Pixar, Oracle…you get the idea. The state holds sway, even among those groups and interests that are opposed to its culture of progressive liberalism.

How are we, as individuals, positioning ourselves for the inevitability of forthcoming legalization?

Yes, existing legal states are doing amazing things, nurturing a culture of healthy open-market, yet regulated, competition among cannabis businesses. For patients and consumers, this means lower prices, higher quality, and immensely better selection. With some startups basing their entire business model on something as specific as infused coffee or medical baked goods, legal states are certainly doing something right.

Even Alaska and Colorado are considering legalizing cannabis smoking lounges and social gathering places. Drinkers have bars, after all.

There are also plenty of problems inherent in the few existing state models, however.

Tax rates are excessive (Washington State charges 37% in sales tax) and restrictions and red tape are often unfair and not endured by those in similar industries, such as pharmaceuticals and alcohol.

Retail bans in dozens of communities in states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have limited safe access by both lifestyle consumers and patients alike.

When, Not If

California legalizing recreational cannabis is a matter of when, not if—and it will most likely occur on November 8. Unfortunately, many other “influence states” with large populations aren’t as excited about legalization as California. Texas, the second most populated state in the nation at 27 million*, likely won’t legalize cannabis for many years.

New York has 20 million* inhabitants and is basically tied with Florida for third most populous state in the country. The Empire State has already proven its Luddite nature by implementing one of the most short-sighted and restrictive state medical programs in the nation (it allows no smoking whatsoever).

Some critics have deemed it designed to fail, while others have simply called it lacking compassion and even mean spirited in the number of seriously ill patients that it excludes from eligibility.

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Meanwhile, Florida’s conservative politics and widespread corruption promise to make it one of the last states to implement a real medical program or to even consider recreational legalization. In fact, states like Florida, Texas, and New York will probably jump on the adult use cannabis bandwagon if and when it is legalized at the federal level—not through their own efforts.

What will happen in your state in 2016—and how will you be a part of it?

In the few states where cannabis is already legal for lifestyle enhancement, opportunities for solopreneurs and entrepreneurs are ample and economies are booming.

First: Get It Legal

For those who wish to own or manage a dispensary or cultivation facility or start a web 3.0 business focused on cannabis and its millions of fans, the first move will be working with national, D.C.-based nonprofit groups like Marijuana Policy Project and NORML, while also partnering with new cannabis businesses to gain funding and marketing outreach.

After all, the culture war won’t be won with empty pockets. The prohibitionists have plenty of money and influence. Simply being “right” means little in our modern, corporate-driven society.

Elected representatives and business leaders alike shun science in an effort to play politics and maintain shareholder confidence—instead of educating those stakeholders in the objective realities of the situation.

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While the cannabis legalization movement has never been healthier, this is the time that conservative forces will bring out their big guns in terms of money, influence, and even celebrity pot bashing.

There is no true victory in this culture war until all patients in America enjoy safe access to properly cultivated, high-quality strains of cannabis medicine, including concentrates, edibles, and topicals.

Until this happens, no one who respects science or has an ounce of true compassion for other humans should sit back and declare a win—including those in legal states.

*Population stats sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau. 


All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, instructional designer, and photographer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, MERRY JANE, Herb.coSKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, Green Flower Media, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana and developed a series of 175 long-form educational articles for Whaxy.com.

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

 

What Now? The Humble Head Shop Turns 50

They go by many names: Roach-O-Rama, Midnight Oasis, Glassy Knoll, Hippie Gypsy, High on the Hill, Puff ‘n’ Stuff, and other sometimes tongue-in-cheek monikers that reflect the whimsical ideals of a generations-old underground culture enamored by the kind herb.

Their musky odors of stale incense and dusty carpeting compliment their outlaw selection of glass pipes, rolling papers, and out-of-date copies of High Times.

Head shops, one of the great American institutions, celebrated 50 years of serving the culture last year (2016.) They epitomize the state of cannabis consumers for the same period: Illegal at the federal level, yet mildly tolerated by state and municipal governments.

A Bastion of Independence

Head shops remain one of the few bastions of true open market independence in the retail business world, with everything from sub shops to drug stores to oil change garages having been gobbled up by international conglomerates and national brands offering nothing more than expensive franchise opportunities and obnoxious national ad campaigns.

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Those who travel in the United States can attest to the sorry state of retail homogeneity that exists throughout the nation. It’s tough to differentiate St. Louis from Phoenix from Denver from Cleveland when it comes to the stores and shops from which we purchase everything from light beer to allergy medicine to home theater gear.

Even a visit to the neighborhood pub or diner may involve a watered-down mega brand like Applebee’s or Denny’s, while Target, McDonald’s, Home Depot, Best Buy, Bank of America, Papa John’s, Starbucks, BP, and Walmart dominate the retail landscape.

Head shops are a welcome retreat from this cookie cutter retail environment in which new malls and gas stations in most cities all seem to look the same—something that has plagued even small town America as independent businesses like hardware stores and pharmacies all but disappear in the wake of made-in-China big box chains.

Genesis in San Francisco

Head shops originally appeared in the 1960s in cities like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Some believe the Psychedelic Shop in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, opened in 1966, to be the first head shop.

Another notable location that opened in that same year of the trippy psychedelic era was the Birmingham Balloon Company in Denton, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas and unlikely home to innovative cannabis culture.

In the United Kingdom, the first “counterculture store” appeared in West London in 1972, followed by intense popularity that prompted Vice to write in 2014, “…head shops have become nearly as ubiquitous as Pizza Express” in England.

By the mid to late 1970s, buoyed by the ever-growing popularity of cannabis and a pervasive black market that infiltrated every high school in the nation, head shops had proliferated to nearly all cities and towns, especially those with college campuses.

An outlet not only for major youth-oriented stoner magazines like Cannabis Culture and SKUNK, head shops also provided distribution and exposure for counterculture newspapers and comics, publications that typically lacked access to conventional newsstand distribution.

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In an age before the internet and social media, many writers, activists, musicians, and other bohemian artists spread their message via small independent head shops that smelled more like Bill Maher’s living room than the local Barnes &  Noble.

How Are They Legal?

Head shops, if one approaches the experience from the perspective of enabling or enhancing the consumption of cannabis—their sole function, really—are completely illegal. Because cannabis is prohibited at the federal level, no head shop in the United States can legally sell any item intended to be used with pot. Period.

Head shops exist in a legal grey zone, opposed by the feds, but allowed by most states and communities. According to Wikipedia:

“The sale of certain tobacco paraphernalia is considered legal in all states, but is illegal on a federal level.”

Head shops are permitted to exist simply because they play the game of pretending to cater to legal tobacco users.

As long as there are people walking around who are addicted to Marlboros and American Spirits, head shops will possess a viable legal loophole that permits them to cozy up beside low-rent hair salons and tattoo shops in liberal downtown neighborhoods and cheap suburban strip malls.

Fortunately, vaporization and vape pens—known in cigarette circles as e-cigs—are also popular among tobacco smokers. Thus, head shop owners, in a Pythonesque nudge-nudge, wink-wink to the federal government, can legally operate and, in reality, cater to the full needs of the cannabis community.

Simply because of the technical loophole and fact that both tobacco and cannabis are typically smoked or vaporized.

Lucky for you, eh? Or you’d be spending even more money on Amazon.com—but enjoying a decidedly inferior retail experience.

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While some counties and municipalities have banned head shops or refuse to grant them business licenses, most areas of the United States tolerate these funky cultural meccas, especially near university campuses and in more progressive communities.

Void Where Prohibited

Often, a state or municipality won’t outlaw head shops per se, but instead may prohibit much of what they typically sell. For example, in Florida, it is illegal to sell any item “designed for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing cannabis, cocaine, hashish, hashish oil, or nitrous oxide into the human body.”

However, even in this case, loopholes exist: Head shops in Florida may sell pipes made of materials like “briar, meerschaum, clay, or corn cob.” A far cry from some heady glass suitable for a serious stoner’s birthday gift, but it still gets the job done for desperate smokers in prohibitionist states.

From smoking staples like screens and rolling papers to music and movie posters, hemp products, and ornate pipes and bongs, head shops are a piece of Americana with an uncertain future.

Many observers believe that legalization in the majority of the country is inevitable. As more states come onboard and abandon cannabis prohibition, what is the fate of the beloved head shop, a cottage industry-cum-institution that is undergoing what would be a midlife crisis if it was a fifty-year-old toker from the suburbs struggling to maintain relevance?

Will They Survive Legalization?

Following legalization in any state is the inevitable onslaught of dispensaries and retail outlets. Many of these companies, in cities like Seattle and Denver, also sell a selection of vape pens, glass bongs, pipes, and even dab rigs intended to serve up the yummy flowers and concentrates (extracts) offered by these same dispensaries.

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Will dispensaries and retail outlets in newly legal states spell the doom of the head shops that shaped the cannabis experience and lifestyle of tens of millions of Americans for half a century?

Will the ironic reason head shops were able to exist—pretending to cater to the tobacco smoking community—actually be their undoing?

As smoking becomes less and less popular, new, highly competitive money is entering the cannabis industry as part of the green rush, infusing a culture of productivity and openness borrowed from silicon valley. How will this emerging subculture of “productive potheads” and renewed focus of entrepreneurialism and profit in the cannabis culture affect traditional head shops and their patrons?

The landscape for all businesses is in constant flux. Companies that once thrived selling TVs and home appliances are now either extinct (ala Sears) or have morphed into fundamentally different organizations serving other markets (like Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft).

Similarly, some head shops will inevitably choose to adapt to the new markets for openly cannabis-related products in legal states, driven mostly by dispensary competition. Will millennials and retirees be more interested in a pocketable vape pen—and the stuff that goes in it—than a black light poster or Tibetan prayer flags?

Shall Dispensaries Take the Crown?

Given the sales numbers of many dispensaries in legal states, the relatively sluggish business of a conventional head shop would be relegated to a sideline if it adopted sales of medical or recreational cannabis, edibles, or concentrates.

Will most head shops choose to close shop and go out of business, or will they convert to a typical dispensary model that drops the aging hippie image for a clinical boutique environment that just happens to sell a few glass pieces—but focuses on USB vape pens and infused drinks?

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With many dispensaries selling both disposable and high-end pens capable of vaporizing concentrates or flower, will sales of bongs, pipes, and rolling papers intended for ground flowers falter? Will millennials and seniors, especially those seeking harm reduction because they frequently consume strong cannabis or concentrates, chose vaporization over smoking in large enough numbers to fundamentally shift the role of a community head shop within the next decade?

These are all questions to ponder as you light up that unknown strain of black market mystery herb in papers or a bong that you purchased at your local head shop. What will the typical American head shop look like in 2025, and who will it serve?

In conservative states where cannabis will inevitably remain illegal for years and possibly decades to come, these generations-old shops may survive and even thrive, fueled by an energized cannabis industry nationwide and legalization in other states.

In areas where prohibition has fallen, head shops will inevitably adapt and compete with dispensaries—or die.

In states that legalize and also allow patients or even lifestyle users to grow a few plants of their own, head shops are wise to stock a bit of cultivation equipment, such as hydro buckets, lights, and nutrients. In many respects, thousands of head shops throughout the U.S. must adapt to their rapidly changing legal environments to ensure that they are catering to the desires of their customers while remaining legal and not inviting scrutiny from local or federal law enforcement.

An Aging Relic of Prohibition

While it’s sad to think of a future void of these densely stocked and unique shops full of character, funky aromas, and sometimes sex toys, they are to a large extent a reflection of the rapidly deteriorating era of prohibition and how the federal government pushed a never-say-die cannabis culture underground.

While it’s refreshing to celebrate the resiliency and tenacity of our trampled culture and support one’s local head shop, it’s also nice to join the 21st century and adopt possibly more suitable retail models that involve a clinical and professional approach to helping customers, especially patients, consume cannabis and concentrates.

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As legalization sweeps the nation and cities like Portland, Oakland, and Colorado Springs maintain a culture of open dispensation of all things cannabis, head shops may no longer be necessary. These walk-in wonders may be a facet of prohibition that, after legal cannabis is the norm, no longer have a home within the cannabis culture—or, more important, the monthly budget of the average pot smoker.

Maybe head shops are like the military cold war: A relic of the 20th century struggling to find a niche with a sufficient number of modern tokers to maintain relevance.

And pay their rent.

If they go the way of the brontosaurus, cannabis consumers will miss these always charismatic and sometimes gritty bohemian mom-and-pop retail stores that dotted city and suburban landscapes for five decades.


This article is dedicated to the dozens of groovy head shops I’ve visited throughout Ontario, California, Ohio, British Columbia, Texas, Quebec, and Indiana over the past 20 years—each of which offered a distinct character and authentic experience that made being a cannabis consumer even more enriching.


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.

 

Twenty-First Century Toking

Not long ago, the consumption avenues available to the average cannabis consumer were pretty limited: Bongs, bowls, and joints. Then blunts came along to shake things up a bit and further diversify the cannabis culture.

Enter Vaping

A relatively radical shift in pot consumption occurred between 10 and 15 years ago: Cannabis consumers began vaporizing their herb. This has come to be known as vaping and, until recently, was accomplished using desktop devices like the infamous (and expensive, at $500-600) German Storz & Bickel Volcano and domestic efforts like the Vapolution Vaporizer (a family of $100-250 glass-on-glass devices from Chico, California).

Vapolution 3.0 glass-on-glass vaporizer

Then vape pens came along. Available in a wide range of price points and in many different quality levels, these portable and pocketable vaporization devices allow one to discretely—and typically without the tell-tale odor—consume their cannabis flowers or concentrate when on the go.

Or on the sofa. The flexibility of these devices is quite amazing and truly a game changer. Mark my word, vape pens and mobile vape devices are no fad. Just look around a recreationally legal state and anecdotally note the adoption rate. It’s through the roof. And it’s more than bohemian hipsters wanting to surf the latest trend.

In fact, the vape pen will play a significant role in competing with the slim aluminum gen three Apple TV remote and pocket coins for most likely to get lost in the cushions of the living room sofa. (“Dude, don’t harsh my mellow. Seriously, where the hell is my vape pen?!”)

Sure, a joint is one of the ultimate forms of portability and convenience for pot consumers. But the smell and the smoke reveal one’s activity—or simply piss off those around one, like a vape pen never will. Let’s face it: While adoption might be highest in legal states, vape pens arguably offer the greatest utility to those in prohibitionist areas who must hide their medicine or lifestyle.

When combined with state-of-the-art concentrates, such as those that can be produced only by industrial laboratories run by real and regulated companies, vape pens can deliver amazing, relatively predictable efficacy for patients and uber-efficient euphoria and psychoactive effects for recreational users. Many vape pen manufacturers employ a cartridge design that allows their customers to purchase a base pen and then feed it what are basically THC cartridges, made with either BHO, CO2 oil, or another extraction concentrate.

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Bloom Farms in San Francisco is a great example of a company that produces affordable vape pens that charge via USB (one of the slickest new features being offered by companies like Bloom Farms and O.penVAPE) and can be refilled via 400 mg cartridges available in either indica or sativa.

Vape Pen Advantages

Vape pens offer several advantages over their old school joint and bowl cousins. First, there’s the health benefits of vaporizing cannabis herb or oil instead of combusting it. Second, most areas of the country have robust anti-smoking laws designed to curb and discourage the smoking of tobacco cigarettes. By vaping—regardless of what is being vaped—tokers take advantage of a technical loophole that allows them freedom of consumption where traditional smokers of cannabis or tobacco are left empty handed (and possibly facing hefty fines if they turn rogue and get tagged).

Vape pens also offer tremendous advantages for severely ill patients. Those suffering from intense pain or nausea (like people undergoing chemotherapy) can very quickly give themselves a supersized toke of relief that begins to hit them in only minutes. High-quality concentrates and reputable vape pen devices can deliver, in one vape hit, roughly the same amount of THC and other cannabinoids that would be obtained from an entire joint of mid-grade cannabis flower. All without the harmful tars and carcinogens.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention portable vape devices, commonly known as mobile vapes or pocket units. While not as small or discreet as a vape pen, mobile vapes typically offer better performance, accuracy, and reliability. They are simply more like a mini version of  a desktop vaporizer. In fact, it might be easiest to consider a mobile vaporizer to be the love child of a desktop unit and a vape pen. Imagine that a Neos USB pen slept with a Volcano and had a Vapir Prima as a child.

Of course, mobile vaporizers are also considerably more expensive, ranging from about $200 to $400 for reputable models actually worth having. The Vapir Prima, pictured below, is a standout based on its high quality, ease-of-use, and five-year warranty.

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In legal states, CBD-based concentrates are becoming available, many of which contain very little psychoactive THC. For child patients and those who don’t desire to get high (or who simply can’t because of their job, especially if it involves unannounced and regular drug tests), CBD concentrates and vape pens are a small medical miracle.


One example of a company catering to this concentrate-via-vape-pen market is Denver-based Neos. The company pre-decarboxylates its proprietary “EVO” oil cartridges to allow for vaporization at lower temperatures, delivering what it claims is a better terpene profile from these molecules that are notoriously volatile and prone to breaking down under heat.

Neos may be the only vape pen company to explicitly embrace the entourage effect in its marketing materials and how it preserves the cannabinoid profile. While many concentrate companies promote the pure potency of their products, Neos seems concerned with quality and user safety—achieved via the use of “state-of-the-art technology previously unavailable to the industry.”

Neos is one of the more progressive, enlightened vape pen companies on the market. Some companies take a more medical approach to their product development and advertising, while others full-on target the recreational market and boast of nothing but THC and potency. But beware: There are some totally shit products available at nearly all price ranges.  Before making a purchase decision, read product reviews from trusted sources and speak with experienced colleagues and budtenders.


Vaping of any variety, be it the desktop type or via a miraculous pocketable model, is inherently cleaner and less offensive than smoking, regardless of whether one is a recreational or medical user. While tokers will always enjoy smoking, does modern technology afford the average cannabis consumer a better avenue? I know many hardcore cannabis users who are mostly vaping concentrates with vape pens.

Is this not only the new wave, but also a healthy, superior route of consumption that offers tons of convenience and doesn’t threaten to burn a hole in one’s jeans or catch the bedroom drapes on fire?

Technology is great for presenting consumers with options, and options are good. While automotive consumers once could choose from only internal combustion engine vehicles, they now also can opt for a battery electric car. Many of those who were relegated to getting their power from a local coal-burning power plant can now lease or purchase solar panels to gain energy independence.

Herer demonstrating his pipe at a trade show in San Francisco

Likewise, new technology is changing the way cannabis is cultivated, regulated, distributed, packaged, and consumed. While most of us will never fully give up on smoking marijuana and few would shy away when offered a joint of top-shelf Jack Herer or Durban Poison, the best route for one’s daily driver may not involve a Bic lighter and rolling papers or spoon-shaped glass.

The Reality

Those who live in states where cannabis is legal at the recreational level obviously can much more easily be purveyors of pot, especially if they want to indulge in concentrates. By simply driving to their nearest dispensary or retail outlet—there are more in Denver than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined—lucky fans of the culture in these states can easily obtain the advice, equipment, and flower or concentrate with which to fill a sexy, efficient, and affordable vape pen. Intelligent, well-trained budtenders rock; those lucky enough to have access to them should leverage the opportunity to increase their knowledge while purchasing the most appropriate cannabis products.

Those residing in prohibitionist states are increasingly choosing to travel to a legal rec destination like Seattle, Portland, or Denver to get the advice and hardware necessary to discretely vape, in private or public, back in their home state.

Of course, those who must deal with black market bingo may remain somewhat frustrated because they experience shady dealers, high prices, and uncertain strains and quality. Not to mention that high-quality examples of concentrates are often simply not widely available in black markets and are often priced outside what the average patient or rec consumer can afford.

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Those who have the option of traveling to a more progressive area of the country when it comes to cannabis—or who already live there—should seriously consider the best that technology has to offer and how it can both protect consumers in states where pot remains illegal and also deliver quick, potent relief to patients in need (many of whom, like us, also have jobs and families and daily commutes).

So get yourself a vape pen and pump it full of some flower, CO2 oil, or live resin. Your lungs—and your arrest record—may thank you.


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.

Top Cannabis Video Series

There’s no shortage of corny or even marginally engaging YouTube videos regarding the topic of your choice. Dog grooming? There’s gotta be 40,000 videos about it. Cannabis and its culture are no exception. But with so many strain reviews and “let’s toke up, bra!” videos by hoodied teens and hardcore collegiate stoners, where can one turn for a refreshingly intelligent change of pace?

There are some great video series that, together, can go a long way to keeping you current with the political, legal, medicinal, and recreational news about the kind herb—as well as its amazing history of providing medicine, food, and euphoria for humans.

MJ Straight Talk for blog and twitter

While you might consider yourself a fan of cannabis and immune to the Reefer Madness and D.A.R.E. misinformation that has pervaded American culture for more than 80 years, chances are there’s some firmly held belief or perception of cannabis—or the people who smoke it or the black market that makes it available—that you hold that’s not quite accurate. And possibly even dead wrong.

Lest I pontificate further at the expense of your viewing pleasure, I encourage you to check out the series below. You’ll gain not only hours of stimulating entertainment, but also can break through the stigma, stereotypes, and urban legends of cannabis to become a more informed voter and savvy consumer.


Marijuana Straight Talk

Marijuana Straight Talk is a rare and wonderfully educational effort from NPR veteran and rational stoner Becca Williams. Williams, sometimes accompanied by her dog and MacBook, always exudes a positive sense of humor and easy going, intelligent mellowness best characterized by the herb itself.

Williams is executive producer of Marijuana Straight Talk, a series of relatively short videos (three to five minutes each) aimed at entertaining while also defying decades-old social stereotypes and stigma regarding cannabis and those who use it.

becca williams 2 for blog and twitter

Marijuana Straight Talk recently scored a big success in terms of viewer reach: It is now available in a 30-minute format on Free Speech Television Network, which is distributed via DISH Network, DirecTV, and Roku and available to more than 37 million Americans. The show is one of the most highly rated among Free Speech’s stable of progressive shows, which includes Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman.

In a recent Culture magazine interview, Williams explained how her shows are designed to serve as whimsical infotainment while delivering a serious message of cultural tolerance and education.

“We are a very wounded culture around this plant. It’s been misrepresented to us; there’s been a misinformation campaign. So, we need to educate ourselves around it. Our intent with Marijuana Straight Talk is to move the conversation into a place where we are imagining the best scenarios for how cultural acceptance for cannabis looks in this country.”   — Becca Williams, executive producer


The Pot Scientist Reports

The freshman effort of a Denver talking (pot)head who has dubbed himself the Pot Scientist is one of the better ways I’ve spent two or three minutes of my life. Like Marijuana Straight Talk, TPS Reports (also known as Ask the Pot Scientist) respects the time of viewers, never taking more than a meager slice of one’s spare time to keep up with the series.

The Pot Scientist has tackled topics ranging from the recent decision by the Colorado Board of Health to continue to exclude PTSD from its list of qualifying conditions to cannabis testing to the role of women in the cannabis cultivation industry.

pot scientist for blog and twitter

In early August 2015, the Pot Scientist declared his 20-episode “proof of concept” a success while jokingly thanking his 16 YouTube subscribers.

“I’ve proven to myself that I can write, record, edit, and release weekly video content about the marijuana industry. With this proof in hand, I plan to transform TPS…into a profitable media enterprise.”   — The Pot Scientist

Whether we’ll ever see the young and energetic Pot Scientist again lurking among the petabytes of spirited activist videos on YouTube is anyone’s guess. But hopefully he’ll be back. He’s a smart and engaging host who offers a critical and well-spoken view of current events, especially those in the Boulder or Denver area and within recreationally legalized states. Until his return, there’s 20 short, informative videos available for those who want to educate themselves.

[October 31, 2015 update]

Our wishes have come true, the Pot Scientist is back. He’s cranking out informative cannabis videos on YouTube, active on Twitter, and broadcasting on Periscope on a regular basis.


The Cannabist Show

The Cannabist Show is produced by the Denver Post’s The Cannabist, an online magazine comprised of a video series and daily news articles, including strain reviews and humorous commentary. The show is headquartered at ground zero for the marijuana movement, Denver. Chief editor Ricardo Baca welcomes weekly guests from the cannabis industry, as well as intelligent advocates, activists, and cannabusiness leaders.

The Cannabist Show for blog and twitter

Often, The Cannabist Show will cover issues based in Denver or Colorado, or investigate topics central to states that have legalized recreational cannabis. Shows include interviews with leaders within the Denver and national cannabis legalization scene.


Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a freelance writer for various cannabis media outlets.

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