Colorado Researchers Seeking Volunteers to Get High and Drive • High Times

Researchers in Colorado are investigating the effects of cannabis on driving and are seeking volunteers to get high and drive for the study. Participants in the research will be paid for their time, but they’ll have to bring their own weed to smoke, according to a report in local media. Ashley Brooks-Russell, an assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, is the co-director of the research into how daily or less frequent cannabis use affects drivers’ performance behind the wheel.

“The goal is to better understand impaired driving so that we can prevent impaired driving,” said Brooks-Russell.

Micahel Kosnett, an associate clinical professor and medical toxicologist who is also co-directing the study, said that while drunk driving has been the subject of extensive research, the same is not true for marijuana.

“We know that certain drugs really deteriorate people’s performance behind the wheel. Alcohol is the classic example for that,” said Kosnett. “Our understanding of how cannabis affects driving is less well developed.”

To conduct the study, participants will have their driving skills tested before and after cannabis use. They will also be evaluated through other tests including one that tracks eye movements in virtual reality goggles and another which measures hand-eye coordination and decision making with an iPad. Researchers want to learn if such devices could be used to determine impairment by law enforcement officers in roadside sobriety tests.

“This is one more tool they could bring to the roadside to understand impairment,” said Brooks-Russell.

Are THC Limits Fair?

Unlike alcohol, levels of THC in the blood may not be an accurate indicator of driving impairment. Despite this, Colorado currently has a limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in effect for drivers. Medical marijuana patient Tyler Prock believes that such arbitrary restrictions are unjust.

“It’s not fair for the medicinal patients. Because cannabis stays in your system for about 30 days and if you use marijuana every day, the amount in your body is going to compound,” Prock said. “You might not have used cannabis that day, but there is still cannabis in your system, so that could cause you to be positive on a test where you weren’t inebriated at all.”

Prock said that while he regularly drives after using cannabis, he would never do so while impaired.

“Well, I’ve used it almost every day for the past seven years,” he said. “I feel like I’m a safe driver. I had one ticket in the past ten years ago and I’ve never had an accident.”

He even believes that he is safer behind the while after using cannabis “because back pain is tough, and it can be as distracting as anything else,” Prock said.

Participants in the cannabis driving study will be required to make two visits in a period of one week to the research lab in Aurora and will be paid $140 upon completing both sessions. For more information and to complete an eligibility survey, visit the Colorado School of Public Health website.

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Here’s What To Do When Your 420 Instagram Account Gets Deactivated

Instagram has become one of the most powerful tools for brands to market themselves. Every year the platform continues to expand its user base, making it an even more valuable resource for business. But Instagram isn’t exactly 420-friendly. In fact, most social media platforms censor cannabis content. Anyone whose canna-biz is on Instagram is well aware of how often pages are disabled.

The worst part about it is the uncertainty that comes with not knowing when a page will be recovered; which is exacerbated by the fact there’s no clear path to getting a page restored. Fortunately, there are procedures you can follow that will help resurrect dismantled pages with everything in tact.

Working in the social media space has launched us to the forefront of these issues, and we’ve helped restore a number of major cannabis industry brands’ Instagram pages, such as Nameless Genetics and Trychemistry full spectrum vapes. Here are some tips and tricks to help keep your account from being deactivated along with a few links in case it does happen to you.

Keep your page on private.

Keeping your page on private limits your content from reaching the “explore page” on Instagram. This prevents random people and minors from reporting your page.

When content is flagged by users, Instagram gets notified. Keep your page limited to those who are actual fans of your brand and that will prevent your page from receiving random complaints. Aside from that, you can individually monitor your new followers as they come in to make sure they are 18 to 21+ depending on your product.   

Consumption videos are never safe to post

The reality is that videos showing the consumption of cannabis are a sure way to get flagged by Instagram. We recommend saving that content for your website versus social platforms.

Instagram isn’t a tool to sell product directly

Although your captive audience is on Instagram, it’s still illegal to use the platform as a tool to actually sell product. It’s imperative to direct all questions away from Instagram DM’s and talk to customers via email.

Submit Your Information

Here are some links we have used to recover Instagram accounts from being disabled in the past. This link is to submit a complaint about a business, product, and/or service page that has been deactivated. This link is for submitting a personal page that’s been disabled. It’s important to diligently submit these forms multiple times a day. Our recent client @namelessgentics_ found success following the submission process.

A few things to have on hand before submitting:

  • Local business license
  • Tax filing
  • Invoice
  • Drivers License
  • Certificate of Formation
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Utility bill
  • Proof of domain name registration
  • Order fulfillment documentation
  • Access to original email account was started with

Good luck!

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The Family Growing Cannabis to Help People Get Off Pills in Kauai • High Times

Video: Healing Kauai With Cannabis Is A Family Affair

Creator: Item9

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”.

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Legalization Means Business First In The State of Washington – Weed News

Washington marijuana

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.

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“Miss Marijuana” Pageant Comes With Outdated Guidelines and Transphobia

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.”

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Cannabis Puts Best Face Forward with Stylish Interior Design

Cannabis Puts Best Face Forward with Stylish Interior Design
Andrew Amelinckx
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.”

Read more…

Indiana State Trooper Seizes $3.5 Million Worth of Cannabis, Vapes • High Times

$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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Friday, March 15, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

A red stop sign is seen from below.

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, March 15, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// New Mexico bill to create state-run pot shops appears dead (Washington Post (AP))

// Lawmakers propose package of bills as discussion begins about legalizing recreational marijuana in Connecticut (Hartford Courant)

// Medical marijuana ‘Unity Bill’ signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt (Tulsa World)

Today’s headlines are brought to you by our friends over at, California’s top one stop website for legal marijuana delivery. If you live in the golden state, swing over to to see if they are active in your area. With deliveries taking place in less than an hour, it’s never been easier to get legal California marijuana delivery. And of course, if you don’t live where Eaze delivers, you can still benefit from all the useful bits of industry insight and analysis they’ve developed using their properly aggregate and anonymized sales data stream.

// From casinos to cannabis: the Native Americans embracing the pot revolution (Guardian)

// Bipartisan Bill Shields Federal Workers From Being Fired For Marijuana (Marijuana Moment)

// Murphy says medical marijuana program added 25K patients (San Francisco Chronicle (AP))

// Canada’s dried cannabis supply builds as adult-use sales decline (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Bill would force insurance companies to help cover medical marijuana as treatment option (WGME 13 CBS)

// Trulieve adds 25th Florida dispensary in Miami Gardens (Florida Politics)

// Where Presidential Candidate Beto O’Rourke Stands On Marijuana (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:
Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement.
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Photo: thecrazyfilmgirl/Flickr

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Study Finds Medical Marijuana Alleviates Seniors’ Pain, Reduces Opioid Use

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 the Tribune, 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.

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From casinos to cannabis: the Native Americans embracing the pot revolution | News

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.

A casino resort on the Tulalip Indian Reservation north of Seattle, Washington.

A casino resort on the Tulalip Indian Reservation north of Seattle, Washington. Photograph: Richard Uhlhorn/Alamy

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.”

A cannabis dispensary on the Tualip reservation.

A cannabis dispensary on the Tualip reservation. Photograph: Genna Martin

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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