Video: Healing Kauai With Cannabis Is A Family Affair
Description: Hawaii is all about family. On the island of Kauai, brothers Jake and Justin Britt carry on their father’s legacy of providing healing with cannabis while building their company, 808 Genetics. Here’s the debut episode of an Item 9 original series, “The Industree”.
I’ve been writing about cannabis for ten years but championing for over 20, so you might say I have an understanding of the nature of this plant.
Before I502 made cannabis recreational, there was the medical market/ scene. A time when no one gave a fuck about those consuming cannabis. There were no news stories on how the cannabis consumer was wreaking havoc in society. Instead, the cannabis consumer went unnoticed, unless you were law enforcement looking to do a shakedown, as in the case of Lance Gloor whose troubles started with a law enforcement scam known as WESTNET.
Before I502, there were markets, High Times Cups, and safe spaces for consumption; there was no mass hysteria due to the normalization of cannabis use.
Capitalism vs. The Capital
The medical market/ scene was the purest form of a free market and capitalism. At the time everyone had a chance to be part of “the industry.” Seeds and clones were readily available for the average consumer, and one could have a grow and sell to shops. I never took part in this at the time because “growing quality cannabis is hard.”
During the 14 years of medical marijuana in Washington State, there were many raids on farms and dispensaries, but none were part of a diversion to other States that the Cole Memo feared of.
Lab Regulation is Plant Regulation
Washington State’s legalization is a hot mess. The grownups in charge are there not for their experience with cannabis but with business and the law. Besides the lack of cannabis experience the board members have, there’s also the fact that there’s a big lobbyists contingency known as WACA who help manipulate the rules in favor for their members, as in the most recent attempt remove a board member to help facilitate a new standard.
A good portion of the people in charge on both the regulatory side and producer side give no actual fucks about the end product and consumer. This can be noted by the rule of only requiring full testing for medical marijuana and not that intended for recreational use by the WSLCB and by the organization known as WACA’s stance on Homegrow for the average Joe which is no.
Besides the players in the rule game, you got the misguided rules they’ve established. Seed to sale is seed to fail. Why aren’t peanuts tracked? Something that has killed or apples counted since it can be turned to cider? Marijuana got a bad social rap; the tides are changing on reasons to pull someone over because you don’t like the color of their skin. Criminal indicators usually mean you were too dark to drive or have out of state plants, once that happens if they can say they smelled marijuana. How many times are people searched for a smell that stops no crime?
Insisting that consumers have an informed opinion about what’s put into their body, is regulation for the consumer, not the fear of willing adults transacting cannabis also known as called diversion.
One day marijuana will be as cheap as green beans because it will just be another part of an American diet or not; no one says you have to consume but I, as a citizen, should have the choice to. The Washington shit show includes misguided regulation in a way to nickel and dime participants while making it also costly just to try. They rely on a tracking system that shouldn’t crash or have as many glitches that occur which also hurts the participants of the I502 industry.
If the WSLCB is listening, I ask they consider the title of this section “Lab regulation is Plant regulation.” Do your tracking system but go offline because online isn’t working for you. Instead of fining producers, processors, and stores for arbitrary ad or swag violations, focus on the labs and testing requirements for cannabis. Recreational or medicinal, require full spectrum testing and labeling, people will smoke it anyways.
A new North American beauty pageant targeting the cannabis industry has just opened for applications—but only for “unwed” and “natural born” females between the ages 18 to 30.
According to the official site, Miss Marijuana, or Miss MJ, is “the type of girl all the guys want, and all the girls want to be friends with” and the platform “gives you the opportunity to be the activist you’ve always dreamed of.”
Up for grabs is the crown and title of Miss Marijuana, $25,000, and a car—but not the branded Jeep Rubicon posted on the site, because that’s just to show applicants what a car looks like.
If accepted, contestants will upload a profile to be digitally polled by the general public. The online voting will take place for six to seven weeks and the 53 women with the highest votes—one for each American state and one from Canada—will then proceed to the final contest in Los Vegas, Nevada. The finale will include one “personal interview question”, and two catwalks—in a swimsuit and an evening gown.
“It’ll be a fashion show, it’ll be a concert—lotta fun, I hope,” says Howard Baer, the pageant’s founder, to the Georgia Straight on the phone.
“We have so many signed up from Canada that it looks like we may have to break it up into provinces. Originally, we were going to do it just as one, but we have over 500 from there now.”
Baer says the pageant has surpassed 5,200 interested contestants.
Outdated eligibility standards
While the site says “Miss Marijuana provides an equal opportunity for any woman interested” including models, experienced beauty pageant contestants, and “non-models” aspiring to break into industry—the guidelines exclude anyone married, or gender-fluid and non-conforming.
When asked about the specifications, Baer calls the single, or unwed, prerequisite a “normal” criterion for Miss or Ms pageants.
“The biggest reason for that is because when you’re working with married women in particular, these days it’s probably the same…we want her to be able to travel for the next year, and be at the dispensaries…events and so forth,” he says. “It’s pretty hard for a married woman to do that. She doesn’t have the freedom to do that.”
As far as contestants needed to be “naturally born women”, Baer says that’s more of a “personal thing”.
“In my mind…I’ve got a 14-year-old granddaughter…and the way things are, particularly with the transgenders, you’ve really don’t know what you have,” he says, trailing into a story he recently read about a transgender woman charged with assault in the U.K.
“He worked his way into women’s events, and what not. So, they sent him to jail, and in England there is a jail for transgenders specifically, and he raped two women there.”
The woman Baer is referring to is Karen White—a 52-year-old transgender woman sentenced to life for sexually assaulting two inmates in New Hall prison in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The assaults took place in September and October of 2017 after White had been arrested on suspicion of stabbing a neighbor.
When asked how that incident related back to his beauty pageant, Baer said: “I don’t want the girls to be nervous about somebody that is in their room with them. The only one that allows that now is Miss Universe. I’ve read good and bad about it. I’ve read they’re regretting it. I’ve read that they’re not. But the majority of them [pageants] are not and I want to go with what I think is the normal thing to do.”
He adds: “I don’t want to put the girls in a position that they feel uncomfortable, because there are going to be a lot of young girls there and I just don’t want to do that.”
However, when others have tried to promote events solely for “women born women”, they have met fierce resistance from the trans community. Trans people have won major victories with legislation in Canada guaranteeing freedom from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.
Moreover, school districts have also introduced measures to prevent bullying of trans kids.
These outdated standards are nothing new for beauty competitions. In fact, they harken back to the 1930s when contestants were asked to shield their faces for the bathing suit portion—opting either for a bag or a mask that looked like a cheap knockoff prop from the Hannibal Lecter franchise. The intention was to draw attention away from the face so judges could better focus on the women’s bodies. Questions about the validity and relevance of these rules are becoming increasingly poignant in the diversifying North American culture, but with legalization Baer sees this as an opportunity to reinvigorate the old rituals.
“I bought the domain eight, nine, ten years ago, or something like that. The timing wasn’t right for it. The timing is right now, so we’re doing it.”
A now-outdated press release shows an attempt at hosting the pageant in 2014. When asked why it never came to fruition, Baer says it didn’t get enough interest.
“Now that cannabis in the U.S. is becoming legalized, and in Canada, it’s a whole different story. We get 50, 60, 70 girls signing up every day and we’re not even promoting it other than a little bit on Facebook.”
A quick check validates the event’s dismal lack of social media presence. The pageant’s Twitter page has only garnered a couple hundred followers with seemingly no interactions, while the official Facebook page has fewer than 4,000 likes and followers.
Capitalizing on a legalization trend
Under the name Papa Baer Productions, Baer has several other businesses relating to the cannabis space. One is a social media platform titled MarijuanaSelfies, a polling-based website entirely populated by cellphone pictures of young, attractive, and half-naked women posing with weed. Users upload selfies that can then be voted on for weekly cash prizes. Baer also has a clothing line launched in 2017 called Smoke 10, which is described as “the first full clothing line dedicated strictly to the cannabis industry”.
“What drew me to it [the cannabis industry] was that I started buying domains about 10 or 12 years ago, and we took some of those domains and made them into sites. And we just kept expanding,” he says. Baer clarifies that he has no personal attachment to cannabis, but owns nearly 230 weed-related domains, including Miss Marijuana for every country in the Miss World pageant.
“Chile, Peru, I own all of them. If this works out, I’ll take it international in the next year or two years. It’ll become an international pageant.”
What exactly about Miss Marijuana relates cannabis? Not much, according to Baer.
Considering the U.S. currently operates as a puzzle of various stages of legality, he says “the girls” don’t have to admit to smoking weed or even know much about the plant to be eligible.
“A lot of the girls ask me about that. There is no use of the product in the pageant; there is no requirement of anybody. They just have to be pro-marijuana. In other words, they can’t be against it. They have to be advocates,” he says.
“We’re not going to be smoking; we’re not going to have it [pot] on-site. I don’t want the responsibility. And I don’t want the girls to feel like they have to do something they don’t want to do. It’s a name. It’s a brand name.”
While Baer says the pageant won’t have any weed on-site, or promote its use, he did take the opportunity to promote the pageant’s new CBD beauty line, which includes cannabis infused gummies, serums, and moisturizers. And the prize packs for both Miss MJ and the three runners-up apparently contain products from the top brands in the industry.
“That’s [beauty products] launching in a couple of weeks. Excellent products.”
Cannabis Puts Best Face Forward with Stylish Interior Design
March 13, 2019
n the early days of cannabis legalization, the rush to open dispensaries was so fast and furious that little thought was given to the retail aesthetics and experience. But today, in an increasingly competitive market, retail design is beginning to take notice as a way to capture the hearts, minds, and Instagram stories of new cannabis consumers.
Just look at this Instagram post of an overzealous customer showing off his dance moves in Planet 13, a high-end dispensary in Las Vegas.
That Was Then, This is Now
The trend toward design-heavy retail aims to capture customers new to cannabis and improve the overall customer experience, according to industry experts.
Take improving the checkout experience through design, for example. Ron Throgmartin, the CEO of Seattle-based retail brand and retail development company Diego Pellicer Worldwide, said the company’s designs feature six checkout stations, wide aisles, and a dispensing system that allows the cashier to quickly get the product to the customer. “They’re not running out onto the floor or back into the warehouse to grab the product,” he said. “It’s right there behind them, so the flow and the execution of the retail sale are smooth.”
$3.5 million worth of cannabis and THC vape cartridges are now tucked away inside an Indiana State Police evidence locker. And the two men who stand accused of transporting it are behind bars in a Hendricks County jail.
Routine Traffic Stop Leads to Multi-Million Dollar Drug Bust in Indiana
Around 11:30 am on Wednesday, March 13, an Indiana State Trooper pulled over a vehicle traveling eastbound on Interstate 70, near mile marker 66. The reason for the stop was a simple moving violation. The trooper saw that a box truck was “tailgating,” or following too closely to the vehicle in front of it. But when the trooper approached the truck, he detected a strong aroma of cannabis. In a conversation with the truck’s driver and passenger, the trooper also reported observing unspecified “criminal indicators.”
The smell and the suspicious behavior were enough probable cause to trigger a search of the truck. During that search, the trooper didn’t discover a half-smoked joint or a bowl or a dime bag. Instead, he opened the cargo area of the truck and discovered an estimated $3.5 million worth of cannabis.
Barely concealed inside a number of cardboard boxes, the trooper discovered roughly 25o pounds of dry flower, along with 50,000 THC oil cartridges. Police say the 250 pounds of marijuana has a street value of about $2.5 million, while the vape carts have a $1 million street value.
But their math might be a little off. $2.5 million for 250 pounds shakes out to about $625 per ounce. And even in prohibition Indiana, an ounce isn’t going to fetch $625—that’s almost $80 an eighth! Same for the vape cartridges. $1 million for 50,000 carts works out to just $20 per cartridge. Police didn’t say whether the carts were full or half grams, but either way, $20 for a THC cartridge is a steal. Nevertheless, Indiana State Police are boasting that they’ve taken $3.5 million worth of cannabis “off the streets.”
Prohibition Indiana Continues Streak of High-Profile Drug Busts
The driver of the truck, 27-year-old Danny J. Luttrell, and its passenger, 27-year-old Brandon M. Pierson, both face Level 5 felony charges for Dealing Marijuana. A police report indicates the two men were traveling back to Indianapolis, where both are from, from Burbank, California. There is no information on whether the 250 pounds of cannabis and 50,000 THC cartridges originated in Burbank.
But the arrest of Luttrell and Pierson for “dealing” marijuana and THC oil recalls the recent tragedy involving one Indiana family’s desperate quest for medical cannabis for their daughter. Charly Curtis, the 6-year-old daughter of Heidi and Dave Curtis, recently passed away after a severe bout of seizures stopped her heart. Heidi and Dave risked everything to provide their daughter with illegal THC oil, which was the only medicine that effectively reduced Charly’s severe seizures. In fact, David Curtis was on his way to Colorado, prepared to illegally traffic life-saving THC oil for his daughter, when he received news of her death.
Indiana is among the minority of U.S. states without any form of legal cannabis—except hemp CBD oil. And so far, all efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Indiana have failed, including a pair of attempts this year. Meanwhile, Indiana Police continue to aggressively enforce the state’s drug laws.
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Baby Boomers are spending more on marijuana than any other group in the U.S., and for a simple reason: the growing recognition among seniors and their caregivers that cannabis is an effective and safe alternative medicine. And thanks to the work of a team of neurological researchers in New York, there’s new evidence to support that conclusion. Their preliminary study of more than 200 elderly (75+) pain patients found that medical cannabis both reduced pain symptoms and reduced patients use of opioid painkillers.
Study Suggests 1:1 THC to CBD Ratio is Most Effective for Treating Chronic Illness in Seniors
Senior researcher Dr. Laszlo Mechtler is the medical director of the Dent Neurological Institute in Amherst, N.Y. He is also the Chief of Neuro-Oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and teaches courses in neurology and neuro-oncology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Speaking with theTribune, Mechtler summed up the encouraging results of the study. “A majority of patients came back and said, ‘I’m better,’” Mechtler said.
More specifically, half of the 204 medical cannabis patients the study tracked said their chronic pain diminished. 18 percent said they had better sleep. 15 percent noted improvement in symptoms of nerve pain. And 10 percent said cannabis reduced their anxiety. In sum, seven out of 10 patients reported experiencing some form of symptom relief. About 75 percent of the study’s participants had received a chronic pain diagnosis. The remaining 25 percent represented a range of chronic diseases, from cancer to epilepsy to Parkinson’s.
The study strictly tracked patients 75 years and older. And for senior patients, the psychoactive effects of THC can be undesirable or rarely, debilitating. And at first, more than a third of the study’s participants reported side effects, like sleepiness and coordination problems, from medical cannabis. However, after adjusting dosages for those patients, only 21 percent continued having issues. In the end, only three percent of the study’s participants stopped taking medical cannabis due to side effects.
To limit the impact of psychoactive side effects, researchers adjusted not just dose, but also cannabinoid concentrations. According to Dr. Mechtler, a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD was the ideal cannabinoid compliment. The matched ratio allowed the medicine to be effective and at the same time limit side effects. Participants also received medical cannabis in many forms, from edibles to tinctures, capsules and vapable oils.
Findings Support the Use of Medical Cannabis to Replace Opioid Painkillers
In addition to the study’s positive findings about medical cannabis and chronic pain and illness, researchers also observed a significant reduction in patients’ use of opioid painkillers. According to the preliminary findings, a third of participants were able to reduce their use of prescription opioids by replacing them with medical cannabis.
These encouraging results help to support the opioid-replacement policy recently adopted by New York’s medical marijuana program. In New York, any condition for which a physician can prescribe an opioid automatically qualifies for medical cannabis treatments.
For Mechtler, the importance of using cannabis as an opioid replacement cannot be overstated. “In the midst of an opioid epidemic in this country, with 115 people dying every day, anything that can decrease the potential for opiate use is a win/win situation,” Mechtler said.
“Nobody overdoses on medical marijuana,” Mechtler added.
As Ever, More Research is Needed
It’s worth noting that the study’s findings are only preliminary. As such, they have not been subject to peer-review. However, Mechtler and his team are preparing to present on their research at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology conference in Philadelphia.
In February 2015, amid the cedar masks, canoe paddles and totem poles at the Tulalip Resort Casino north of Seattle, the talk was all about pot. Indian country had been abuzz about cannabis since the previous autumn, when the Justice Department had released a memorandum which seemed to open the way for tribal cannabis as a manifestation of tribal sovereignty. (I grew up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, and I use the word “Indian” to refer to indigenous people within the US. I also use “indigenous”, “Native” and “American Indian”. These terms have come in and out of favour over the years, and different tribes, and different people, have different preferences.)
The gathering at Tulalip was technically a legal education conference, so a slew of lawyers in thousand-dollar suits were there, of course, but so were private-equity entrepreneurs, tribal officials and tribal potheads. One of the last – a gangly twenty- or thirtysomething wearing Chuck Taylors, a very ripped T-shirt and a headband that held back his lank hair – slouched low in his chair and didn’t speak a word all day. His companions spoke a bit more, but with the sleepy demeanour of people who have just purchased a dime bag and smoked it all. They didn’t talk business as much as they talked relationships: We have a relationship with pot. It’s a medicine from Mother Earth. Like, cannabis is tribal. It’s consistent with our relationship with Mother Earth.
Wandering among them were tribal small-business owners, people who ran gravel companies or sold smoked fish or espresso along the freeway. They had forked over $500 for lunch and a name tag to explore what marijuana legalisation might mean for their community – or maybe to explore where the pay dirt lay at the intersection of legalisation and tribal sovereignty.
The lawyers and policy people gave talks about state laws; the history of marijuana legalisation in California, Colorado and Washington; and the social, cultural and political ramifications of legalisation. Tribal leaders spoke about the ways in which tribal growing could be a whole new revenue stream, if not a new tribal industry. Behind these discussions were coded questions, old and new: How best to provide for a people in the absence of industry and opportunity? How to use tribal sovereignty to the best possible effect? Did tribes really want to invest in another “lifestyle economy” like tobacco shops, casinos and tourism? No one knew what to make of the potheads.
The received notion – reinforced at every turn in editorials and investigative pieces and popular culture – is that reservations are where Indians go to suffer and die. They are seen by many Indians as well as non-Indians not as expressions of tribal survival, however twisted or flawed, but as little more than prisons, expressions of the perversion of American democratic ideals into greed – a greed rapacious enough to take Indian land and decimate Indian populations, but not quite harsh enough to annihilate us outright.
But reservations are not stagnant places. Despite their staggering rates of unemployment, they are home not only to traditional ways of living but to new tribal business as well. Pot as a tribal industry has a parent: the casino. Arguably, the casino’s arrival in Indian country had as defining an effect on the social and economic lives of Indians in the past 50 years as the mass migration of Indians to American cities. Many Indians refer to the time before tribal gaming as “BC” – Before Casino.
By 1987, gaming enterprises were under way across the country, with the biggest concentration of casinos in California and Oklahoma. The courts were still deliberating the questions of rights v regulation, but Indians – having waited in so many ways for so many years to have their sovereignty affirmed – were not. The increase in funding for tribal programmes throughout the 70s, the emphasis on improving access to education, support for the poor, funding for healthcare – all of this positioned Indians to move, and move fast. By the mid-80s, elected tribal leaders had gained 40 years of experience in Indian Rights Association governments, and 40 years of experience in dealing with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and state and federal governments.
They had become expert at playing with soft power, and were prepared to make the most of the opportunity for gaming. Within a year of the tribes winning the right to open casinos in California, gaming was bringing in $100m a year. The door to economic development – at least in the realm of gambling – seemed to have been flung wide open.
But not so fast: the states, a powerful lobby in their own right, were determined to have a stake in Indian gambling, or at least some measure of control. The federal government felt the same way. So in 1988, Congress passed and Reagan signed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (Igra), which codified the process by which tribes administered gambling.
After the act was passed, Indian gaming boomed. Revenues grew from $100m in 1988 to more than $26bn in 2009 – more than Vegas and Atlantic City took in combined. Despite the influx of money in general, however, gaming changed little for most Indians. This is America, after all. Like all American avenues to wealth, casinos privilege the few and leave out the majority. But, at Tulalip, signs of a possible third way have emerged.
It might seem surprising to suggest that, in order to find America, you need to look at Indian communities and reservations. But it’s true. The questions posed by America’s founding documents and early history – What is the reach of the federal government? What should it be? How to balance the rights of the individual against those of the collective? What is, at the end of the day, the proper role of the federal government in our social structures and lives? How to balance the demands of community and modernity? How to preserve, protect and foster the middle class? – are answered by looking at Indians, at our communities and our history.
Two months after the “pot summit”, I sat across from Eddy Pablo in a Minneapolis casino. He had come armed with notes and handouts about marijuana legalisation, medical uses of marijuana, and tribal dispositions about legalisation and capitalisation at Tulalip. Eddy is about 5ft 10in, with an absurdly strong build, dark skin, small eyes and spiky black hair in a neat crew cut. He’s 31, with three children, and he is on the make.
“I’ve lived here my whole life. Both my parents are from here. I’m thankful for it.” He is soft-spoken but gives off a sense that nothing bothers him. Yet there is plainly a kind of seething, sliding, waiting energy underneath his social self. “My high school in Marysville was a subtle racist high school. Not so much the kids. But the teachers had no expectations for us. All of us Indian kids were underperforming. If you have low expectations, then that’s all the kid will strive for. I wanted to go to college but my sophomore English grade was crappy. They put me in a special reading class.”
This was followed by depression and tutoring. He made it to community college but it didn’t stick. He ran afoul of the law and landed in jail. After he got out, he got hooked on diving for geoduck (freshwater clams). “You don’t get to dive very much. Maybe eight days a year. But a boat can make 13k in three hours.” Eddy becomes more animated when he talks about being on the water.
The next day he picks me up to go digging for clams on Cama Beach Point. His car is packed with five-gallon buckets, shovels, rakes and his son, Cruz, tucked in the backseat. As we drive, he points out the landmarks. The Tulalip Reservation – 22,000 acres of Indian land – sits between Interstate 5 and Puget Sound just north of Seattle. It is indescribably beautiful.
“That’s where I grew up,” he says, pointing at a nondescript house facing a silty bay that was, until relatively recently, thick with salmon. Cedar, until recently, grew down to the shore.
Unlike most tribes, people here are doing all right, economically speaking. In fact, they are doing very well. The median household income at Tulalip is a comfortable $68,000 per year, well above the national average. Tribal members do get a per-capita payment from gaming revenues, though according to Eddy it’s not more than $15,500 a year.
The tribe, as a collective, as a business, is doing better as well. Every tribal building is new. The tribal office where Eddy picked up our permit is a soaring architectural treasure. There’s also the youth centre, the museum, the cultural centre – all of them cedar-clad. Where once the tribe’s wealth could be measured in fish, it can now be measured in income and infrastructure.
As for Eddy, without a college degree and with three kids to support, he hustles. He sees marijuana as something that can be added to the mix. “We should get in the business,” he says. “Not just opening dispensaries. Or growing. Our sovereignty can give us a leg up. We should grow, process and dispense. We could control the whole chain.” I wonder out loud if the tribe really wants to hitch itself to another lifestyle economy – like cigarettes and gambling.
“Look,” says Eddy. “Heroin is here. Once they changed the chemical makeup of prescription drugs [like OxyContin], everyone turned back to heroin. People die from that. No one dies from pot. And the tribe wants it. The people want it. We did a survey and 78% (of tribal members) voted yes for bringing our (tribal) code in line with the state. Fifty-three per cent wanted to open it up only to medical marijuana and 25% wanted that and recreational use to be legal. It could be our niche.”
By now we’ve reached the beach. We have only an hour, two at most, while the tide is out, to dig and sort. Soon the water will come back in and cover the clam beds, and they will be lost to us. So much of life at Tulalip has the same kind of rhythm – small windows in which one can make a lot of money, slow spells when none is to be made, and then another hard push. It’s not the kind of labour that breeds confidence or even certainty: no clocking in, working, clocking out, and pulling in a wage and benefits. So how, I ask, does he make ends meet? What’s his job?
He gets his per-cap from the tribe. He crabs a few days. He dives a few days. He goes after geoduck and sea cucumber and salmon. And in the same manner he runs his fireworks stand at Boom City in the summer.
“You’ve got to see it,” he says. “You wouldn’t believe it. A fireworks bazaar. Bigger than anything. And there’s a place to light them off. It’s like world war three.” He seems to think this is a good thing. And in a way I suppose it is, just like his whole operation: a patchwork of opportunities that are exploited aggressively and together add up to a living. A good one.
“We have a story,” says Eddy as we drive away. Cruz is asleep in his car seat. “When all else fails, we were instructed to dig. The clams are always there. There’s food waiting there.”
In addition to opening new avenues to wealth – and creating a wealth gap in Indian country – casinos have had another major effect: they’ve thrown into stark relief the vexing question of who gets to be Indian at all.
America’s first “blood-quantum” law was passed in Virginia in 1705, in order to determine who had a high enough degree of Indian blood to be classified an Indian – and whose rights could be restricted as a result. Blood quantum was simply a measure of how much Indian blood (full blood, half, quarter, eighth) a person had. It was often wildly inaccurate, culturally incongruous and socially divisive. It is still used to determine who can be an enrolled member of some federally recognised tribes, and it is just as divisive now as it was then.
You’d think, after all these years, we’d finally manage to kick the concept. But recently, casino-rich Indian tribes in California, Michigan, Oregon and other states have been using it themselves to disenroll those whose tribal bloodlines, they say, are not pure enough to share in the profits.
As of 2017, more than 50 tribes across the country have banished or disenrolled at least 8,000 tribal members in the past two decades. Many different rationales have been used to justify it, but it’s telling that 73% of the tribes actively kicking out tribal members have gaming operations.
What’s fascinating to me is that the whole question of culture didn’t become part of the conversation about who is and who isn’t Indian at all until the period AC – After Casinos. True, being Indian (as something one did in addition to being something one simply was) began back with the Red Power movement and was amplified by the American Indian Movement (AIM), which, at the start, was primarily concerned with Indians’ economic independence and freedom from police brutality. But in those early discussions and actions, being Indian was more a matter of politics and emotional affinity than a matter of culture. Even the religions claimed by AIM were antagonistic and political: AIMsters danced the Sun Dance as a way of saying “We’re not you” more than as a positive assertion of religious identity. But after casinos began injecting millions and then hundreds of millions and then billions of dollars into Indian economies, culture really came to the fore of discussions of Indianness.
By the end of the 1990s, there was enough cushion for enough Indians and enough money to begin pondering, in earnest, what being Indian meant. They had enough space in their lives to want to connect to their tribes in ways that were value-positive, that didn’t see being Indian as a matter of being a full-blood or being enrolled or being simply “dark”, as had been the case when I was growing up. Rather, being Indian became a matter of knowing your language, attending ceremony, harvesting game and wild rice or piñon or salmon. Being Indian was still to some degree a matter of blood, but it was also in the process of becoming about much more.
The struggles of Indian people across the country are bound up in what it means to be Indian. But to be Indian is not to be poor or to struggle. To believe in sovereignty, to let it inform and define not only one’s political and legal existence but also one’s community, to move through the world imbued with the dignity of that reality, is to resolve one of the major contradictions of modern Indian life: it is to find a way to be Indian and modern simultaneously.
The cannabis industry has started modestly at Tulalip. It is unclear what it will bring or where it will end. Some, like Eddy, think pot shouldn’t necessarily be a tribal enterprise, but rather something tribal individuals can participate in, another small-business opportunity that can help make up an income. But how the tribe will exploit the cannabis market collectively is an open question, dependent not only on the unique politics at Tulalip but also on the way tribes do business in general.
Les Parks, the former tribal vice-chairman of the Tulalip and current treasurer, has been at the forefront in trying to get the tribe into the business. While vice-chairman, he put together the “pot summit”. But after the summit and a subsequent election, Les stepped down, having “shot his bolt” on the whole issue, according to him, and having failed to overrule those who opposed the idea. As on most other reservations, tribal enterprise at Tulalip is controlled by a small group of people who have grown up together in a very small community. A small village council can control millions on millions of dollars, and so big decisions are often, at their core, made for very personal reasons.
I’m met by Les, in bolo tie, boots and a very large, very new pickup truck. Les is proud of his community, and he has obviously given the tour of the reservation many times. But when I ask how much the casino makes, or the fisheries, or anything else, he is evasive. “Oh, we do OK. Every year we send $62m in taxes to Olympia. That should give you an idea.”
It’s understandable that a wildly successful tribe like the Tulalip don’t want to say how much they’re pulling in. The federal government has treaty obligations to the Tulalip to provide for housing and services, among other things – obligations that, when all is going well, the government is only too happy to let slide. So the fiscal rhetoric of reservations, if not the social rhetoric, is always one of want and need.
Les veers down a long, narrow road that ends near a creek feeding into the sound. This is where his family’s original allotment was. “My great-great-grandfather must have been important because this was a good place to live, right next to the creek. It would have been full of salmon.” But Les has suffered like so many Indians have suffered: he lost his mother to a drunk driver, his father wasn’t around very much. The house he grew up in, long gone – rotted or burned or pulled down – was of rough-cut lumber and tar paper. He had a lot of brothers and sisters. There wasn’t much to go around.
Many of the people I talked to had similar stories – fathers and brothers lost to the sea, heavy drinking, absentee parents, poor living conditions. Here as elsewhere, survival was the principal challenge for Indians for well over a century. And from Les’s story, like others, it’s clear that a tolerance for conflict, pain and uncertainty – a kind of wild and unpredictable daily drama – has been necessary to that survival. What, then, allows growth? What are the ingredients necessary for a community not only to make money, but to grow real wealth?
“My sister-in-law got Parkinson’s disease. It was horrible to watch. Pot helped her. It helped her pain a lot.” But Les doesn’t want the tribe to sell pot. Or to only sell it. “I want us to use our sovereignty to fast-track clinical trials for the uses of marijuana extracts. We could do it faster and better than any of the pharmaceutical companies out there. We’re already talking to Bastyr University. That’s where I want us to go. There are a lot of uses for extracts and there is no pharmaceutical company in North America that is looking in that direction. We could be the first.” He looks off over the sound. “There’s even some research that suggests cannabis extracts can be used to cure type 2 diabetes. Think about that. Think about an Indian company, a tribal pharmaceutical company, that could cure the greatest threat to our health.”
Fifteen per cent of American Indians have diabetes, and in some communities in the south-west, the rate is as high as 22%. And diabetes is only part of the problem. Along with high dropout, unemployment and poverty rates, Indians have a mortality rate from accidental death that is twice the national average. Life, for many of us, is not merely bleak: it’s short, poor, painful, unhealthy and tumultuous.
Just as Les moved from poverty to relative comfort in about 30 years, so too has the tribe. According to the Tribal Employment Rights Organization (Tero), there are 62 registered small businesses owned and operated by Indians on the Tulalip Reservation right now, but since businesses register annually, that swells to more than 160 when there’s a big project on the books. And that figure doesn’t seem to include fishermen (there were by my count more than 20 boats in the fleet) or the 139 tribally owned and operated fireworks stands at Boom City, or tribal businesses in areas that are, technically at least, off the reservation. When I add all that up, I figure at least a few hundred Indians are in on the hustle – no different, in their way, from the many who sell crafts on Etsy, auction game on eBay, plough driveways and make T-shirts on the side. There is, despite historical oppression and in contrast to the received stereotypes about Indians, an active and thriving entrepreneurial class at Tulalip.
The tribe has opened a dispensary, but hasn’t given up on Les’s bigger vision. “Even if we can’t do it, it should be done,” he says. I can’t help agreeing. Why shouldn’t the tribe, surrounded as it is by Boeing and Microsoft and Amazon, wed tribal enterprise and wealth to technological enterprise and wealth? A pharmaceutical company could be the way to bring Tulalip’s economy out from under the lifestyle economies that have marked, till now, tribal enterprise.
Tribal power is an interesting thing. With a structure like Tulalip’s, power rests in the hands of a very few, and the absence of term limits makes it very easy to keep doing the same thing but very, very hard to do anything new.
Boom City is exactly how it sounds. For two weeks leading up to the Fourth of July, the largest fireworks bazaar west of the Mississippi rises from the gravel on a vacant lot near the casino. Plywood shanties are trucked to the site and arranged in neat rows. The awnings are opened and the sale begins. Each of the 139 stands is stuffed with fireworks. All of the stands are Native-owned, and the action is administered by a board of directors, which in turn is administered by the tribe. All of the stands are painted brightly, and many bear equally colourful names: Up in Smoke, One Night Stand, Boom Boom Long Time, Porno for Pyro, Titty Titty Bang Bang. Others bespeak proud ownership: Mikey’s, Eddy’s, Junior’s.
It’s slow when I arrive at Eddy’s stand, but even so there is a lot of money changing hands. Fireworks – like gaming and, to a lesser extent, tobacco – are regulated by the state. And as sovereign nations, Indian tribes in states such as Washington, where fireworks are illegal, enjoy a monopoly on their sale. I find Eddy deep in his stand, trying to avoid the sun.
“The weather’s keeping people away. Too hot.” He also tells me business is slow because someone was caught earlier that day selling illegal fireworks nearby, and the incident has made customers skittish. “By Friday the cars will be backed up to the highway,” Eddy assures me. “If you’re the last man standing with a full load of fireworks on the last day, you can sell it all.”
The wholesalers set up shop on the outskirts of Boom City and circle around taking orders for the vendors. There are two espresso stands and a few food stands. Someone has lined the back of their pickup with a tarp and filled it with water, and five kids cavort and splash in it. Other kids, as young as four or five, walk through the stands chirping “Iced tea! Pop! Gatorade!” in a miniature mimic of the men and women selling fireworks who have perfected the banter of bazaar merchants the world over.
In the afternoon, the sound of fireworks – many and large – can be heard nearby. There’s a field on the edge of Boom City set aside for setting them off. Just as fireworks can be sold on the “rez” but not in the state, so too can they be exploded on the rez. And Boom City is happy to provide the space. It’s a free-for-all. Rockets, mortars, roman candles, spinners. They all go off at once and continuously. A haze settles over the lot like the haze over a battlefield. Periodically, the security guards call a halt to the explosions, but only to make room for even larger ones: tribal members – and this seems to be a uniquely cultural thing – will light off upward of $1,000 worth of fireworks as a “memorial” for someone in their family who has passed on. They are remembered with an exploding wall of sound.
Ideas aren’t quietly laid to rest here either. Having explored the possibility of teaming up with the Lummi nation to start a pharmaceutical company, and having met with resistance there as well, Les Parks has recently taken the project back. Political power waxes and wanes, and as the dynamics on the council shifted, Les, visionary and dogged, has brought the idea of a pharmaceutical company back to Tulalip. This time he has more support.
I wander back to Eddy’s, dazed by the fireworks and by everything else I’ve seen at Tulalip. What I have seen here isn’t just what a tribe could be (though there was that, too) but what America might be. If only. Tulalip is a conglomeration of separate tribes that came together (by choice, circumstance and under pressure) to form a nation. It has suffered its own internal divisions and traumas. It has endured natural and civic disasters, gone through recession and poverty and joblessness. But it has found a way to provide free healthcare for all its citizens, free education for those who want it, free (excellent) childcare for working parents, a safe and comfortable retirement option for its elders, and a robust safety net woven from per-capita payments that, while barely enough to support a single person and not enough to fully support a family, are enough to encourage its citizens to venture into enterprises small and large. The nation provides for its most vulnerable citizens – the young and the old. And it provides enough security for the people in between life’s beginnings and ends so that they can really see what they might become.
This is an edited extract from The Heartbeat at Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer, published by Corsair on 28 March
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The evolution of cannabis genetics around the world is at a pinnacle. And with many advancements in breeding projects, the technology to produce feminized seed is now a reality. Producing top quality seeds is easier said than done, however. High Times sat down with Professor OG (not his real name) from Dinafem Seeds, a renowned European seed bank best known for their feminized, auto-flowering, and CBD seeds, and talked to them about breeding projects, working with CBD lines, upcoming releases, and how popular feminized seeds are across the pond.
High Times: Can you tell us a bit more about yourselves and how long you have been a seed bank for?
Professor OG: Dinafem was born in 2005 as a collective project by a group of old-timer growers and breeders. We had been growing, experimenting, and creating new strains since the late ‘80s, always looking for the best, the most unique and special genetics. At some point around 2001, we realized that some strains we had produced were far better than many seed strains from Dutch seed banks that we were retailing in our grow shops, and we decided that it was time to create our own seed bank.
How are female seeds made and can you explain more about your breeding facilities?
We use selected elite clones to produce the seeds, always the same clones, to ensure maximum stability. The facilities are indoor rooms equipped with carbon filters and fans to control the spread of pollen and make sure there is no cross-pollination. Climate control is very important to keep the plants dry and warm, especially for the pollination process.
To obtain a feminized seed, we cross a female plant clone with another female plant clone. The process is done by making one of the female plants change her sex so she can produce pollen, and then we pollinate the receiver female plant. Both plants are female and therefore both are giving female XX genes to the offspring.
Courtesy of Dinafem
What are the three main benefits that a grower can take away from using feminized seeds?
The main benefit is that feminized seeds guarantee that the resulting plant will be female, so the grower does not have to waste time and energy in a male plant that will have to be discarded at a later stage. Also, with a 100 percent female population, the grower doesn’t have to worry about undesired pollination, which guarantees high-quality sinsemilla buds.
Not all feminized seeds are equally safe because sometimes there are seeds that produce hermaphroditism or even male plants. That’s because the mother plants have to be carefully selected to avoid hermaphroditic traits.
In Europe what is the correlation in the marketplace between regular and female seeds?
When they first emerged in the industry in the year 2000, feminized seeds had quality problems and sexual instability with lots of hermaphroditic plants. We were selling those to our customers in our grow shops and we could see that a lot of those customers refused to try them because of a bad reputation arising from said instability.
However, we soon produced feminized strains that were 100 percent safe, so we knew right then that they would take the market. More companies popped up, and eventually, the feminized seeds became more popular until they were the norm rather than the exception, to the point that they have relegated regular seeds to a mere 10 percent market share.
How stable are feminized seeds and what type of desired characteristics can a grower expect in terms of diversity?
You can expect fairly stable populations with our seeds. Our selection of elite clones is crossed and tested for homogeneity in order to discard the mixes that provide excess genotype variation. But you’ll still be able to find an exceptional plant in terms of resin, production or terpene content, assuring you’ll find some good keepers for the future.
We can’t speak for other companies but it’s true that not all the feminized seeds are as stable and there are very different qualities on the market. So feminizing genetics is a powerful tool that works great when used properly but it is not a guarantee for a 100 percent stability. It depends on the breeders work.
Can you tell us about how you test your plants for terpenes and cannabinoids, and where this is done?
We collect samples from every single plant of a given population, and then analyze them to have a complete picture of that strain– both during the breeding process and when the commercial seed is tested. We built a private lab for our internal needs right in the middle of the company HQ, equipped with all the necessary machinery and run by a team of two specialists: a pharmacologist and a chemical analyst. The process is quite detailed and not simple, needs a lot of skill and practice to be mastered
What is your advice to anyone who wants to learn more about terpenes and cannabinoids?
We encourage it. We recommend to look for scientific papers and publications and to follow our blog where we post articles sharing all our knowledge and expertise, as well as the work we do in our laboratory. That is a field that will be intensely developed in the next 10-years, and instead of talking about cannabis like a single entity people will understand that there are dozens of different profiles with very diverse effects and properties.
Courtesy of Dinafem
How popular are the American strains in Europe and is this something you find a big trend?
Definitely. Since a few years ago, American genetics have taken the market over because of their mind-blowing flavors and potency, especially the ones coming from California.
Sadly there aren’t many people or companies making good breeding work in Europe, while in the states there are many commercial growers making different crosses and selections. Seems like this trend will continue for the following years.
You work with many CBD varieties. Can you tell us more how you started breeding with CBD lines and the history behind that?
A few years ago, we realized that CBD had great potential and we believed in it, so we made an all-in bet for this cannabinoid. We began an intense breeding process crossing legendary genetics with our pure CBD elite line, always analyzing the results in our laboratory. We were convinced that as cannabis becomes more accepted by the mainstream public the offer of low-psychoactivity strains would have to increase because there will be lots of people interested in strains that provide a mellow calming effect instead of the super high-potency that so far has been attributed as the main trait of recreational cannabis. Seems like time is proving us right and we are focusing on being market leaders in that regard.
What is the best way to explain the different cannabinoid ratios (such as 1:1, 2:1) for those who are new to medicinal cannabis and the culture in general?
These ratios refer to the THC / CBD levels of the cannabis strains. A ratio of 1:1, for instance, means equal levels of the two cannabinoids, as is the case of our OG Kush CBD (10 percent THC and 10 percent CBD).
The more THC, the higher psychoactivity. Lower THC means less psychoactivity.
What direction is Dinafem taking CBD varieties at the moment and what are your plans for 2019 regarding CBD-rich hybrids?
We have been working on this field for a bunch of years now. And in this time we have managed to produce strains that are absolutely unique in the sense that the morphology and flavors of the new CBD creations mimic exactly the original strains they are based upon. We will release some pure CBD clone strains with partner companies in Switzerland and Italy and so far the problem is they can’t produce enough of it. We will also have a few CBD-rich seeds with unique flavor released soon!
Finally, where can our readers follow you on social media and do you have anything exciting coming up?
You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook @dinafemseedsofficial; on Twitter @Dinafem, and also on our YouTube and Vimeo channels. Or just access the contents on our blog and tv channel by visiting our website. We are about to release our new catalog, which is essentially a collection of the most demanded American flavors, like Cookies among others.