Want a Job in the Maryland Medical Cannabis Industry? Get in Line!

It was standing room only as the low January mid-day sun streamed across an anxious class-room in Kent Island. A slow motion game of musical chairs was playing out as applicants periodically shuffled from chair-to-chair on their way to one of 3 interviewing agents. What had filled this semi-rural library’s parking lot to capacity? A handful of Jobs at the Green Thumb Industries cultivation center located in downtown Centerville Maryland, one of only 2 cannabis farms on Maryland’s eastern shore.

On Tuesday I saw the announcement for a Job Fair announced on Green Thumb Industries website. Following prompts on the announcement I submitted an online application with resume for the “Centerville Job Fair” position. Upon pressing “send” I immediately received this in return:

Thank you for your interest in Green Thumb Industries, also the parent company to RISE Dispensaries and Essence Las Vegas! We’ve received your application for Centreville Job Fair, we’re grateful to everyone who submits a resume and expresses interest in joining our team. Due to the extremely high volume of applications we receive, only candidates selected for interviews will be contacted.
Have a wonderful day!The Green Thumb Industries Recruitment Team

Automatic reply from the GTI job fair online application.

Despite not receiving any follow-up contact indicating that I had been “selected for an interview” by TGTIRT, I decided to attended anyway. If there was no chance at interviewing to score a coveted spot at the grow center, I would at the very least be able to get a blog post out of the experience.

Arriving at about 30 minutes after its 1:30 PM start there was no question as to which part of the small town library was hosting a job fair. At the door to the crowded classroom a GTI representative sat working triage at a swag covered desk. Looking for work as a cultivator I was directed to the more crowded column of seats reserved for aspiring cultivation and facilities workers. I lined up at the back of the room and awaited for my turn to sit and shuffle.

Despite a 2.7% unemployment rate eager job seekers in line at GTI’s “Centerville Job Fair” held at the Queen Anne’s County Public Library earlier this week Photo: MDCCA

Wanting blog material -not one to keep quiet anyway-I quickly struck up small-talk-interrogations with the two gentlemen waiting on either side. Both were in their 50’s, living in nearby communities of Queenstown and Easton and were taking a day off from work to attend. Both shared my reason for earnestly applying; a life long desire to work in a legal cannabis industry.

As our line snaked forward my seatmates became more taciturn and I was able to glean tidbits of other’s interviews. All were asked if they had already submitted an application online, unsurprisingly none had. They were then instructed to do so in order to be considered; only applicants being considered for positions would receive followup by the end of the week.

The GTI recruiter that my line fed in-to was engaging and friendly; expressing either a genuine interest in each applicant or an all-star poker face as she processed the replenishing line of aspiring cultivators and facilities managers.

One management candidate who interviewed before me tried to steer the course of the conversation to his “longtime support of and advocacy for cannabis legalization.” After the second or third such diversion the recruiter stated flatly that “we leave advocacy to the people in Chicago”, before re-asking a question more relevant to the “facilities manager” position.

Despite Just 18 months in lightly populated Oklahoma (population 3.9 million) already has more Cannabis jobs than Maryland (pop. 6 million)

Upon leaving around 4pm, every seat in my line was still filled with with patient job-seekers but there were was no longer a standing line at the back of the room.

The lady at the triage desk thanked me and offered ‘rythm’ stickers and ‘the feel collection’ bags. Bad swag-grabbing habits on display I was sternly informed that it was either/or, not both; I grabbed a bag.

Help Support Maryland Homegrow: Tell politicians that we need action in 2020!

Please sign and share the petition linked here. Maryland patients deserve the same rights afforded to patients in Oklahoma, Michigan, Maine and every resident of Washington D.C.!

Was Strand’s Move Legal?

Joy Strand: Former MMCC head and Green Leaf Medicals new Executive Vice President in charge of governmental affairs

“Basically, you can’t work on something for another party and be compensated if you were working on it as a state entity,”

Michael Lord of the Maryland Ethics Commision quoted by Ethan McLeod of the Baltimore Business Journal

Ethan McLeod in an excellent January 2 Baltimore Business Journal piece “Ex-medical cannabis czar joins Frederick grower and processor” quotes Michael Lord the executive director of the Maryland Ethics Commission as saying that state employees are legally forbidden from accepting paid positions that involve any “case, contract or matter” that relates directly to their previous work in government. Mr Lord, who says that the Ethics Commission is forbidden from making any comments about specific individuals none-the-less raises questions about the legality of the former MMCC Head’s new role “in charge of managing government relations” for Green Leaf Medical aka gLeaf.

I don’t know how this is going to be resolved but it is hard to see Ms. Strand’s new role as not tied directly to her old one as head of the MMCC. This would be less of a concern were we not dealing with a tightly controlled oligopoly which gives the power to both make and break fortunes in the hands of government officials rather than consumers.

Support Legal Homegrow!

Advocate for Maryland Patients to have the same rights patients in Oklahoma, Maine and Michigan. Sign and share the petition linked here. We should not have to wait another year to bi-pass the high prices, long car rides, and limited variety of our current 15 grower system.

Access and Diversity Problem? Former MMCC Commissioners Say No

In a new twist of drama, 3 former MMCC comisioners with vital roles in the creation of the current Maryland medical cannabis market-place wrote a testy rebuke to current head of that agency stating that they “were indeed committed to ensuring racial diversity” when weighting scores for candidates for MMCC business licenses. They go through the history:

  1. Diversity was initially a weighted factor in license application reviews.
  2. The attorney general intervened on constitutional grounds asserting that diversity could only be a factor if an outside study could show that Maryland’s medical cannabis market was already less diverse than others.
  3. A study was conducted in 2017 and Maryland was found to be super-diverse

“In June 2017, the MMCC released diversity data based on survey responses from 79 pre-approved applicants representing a total of 321 business owners and 238 employees (11 growers, 9 processors, and 59 dispensaries). Interestingly, these survey data clearly showed a higher rate of minority ownership (over 35% of those with an ownership stake) relative to the national average of 19% of respondents who launched a cannabis business and/or have an ownership stake.”

January 7, 2020 Baltimore Sun Opinion from former commissioners Eric E. Sterling, Debra Miran and Hannah Byron

There are obvious holes in their methodology. In 2017 the 3 states with the largest actively regulated medical cannabis programs, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, were significantly less diverse than Maryland. A similar analysis of apartheid era South African industries would also have shown them to be more diverse than cohorts in Iceland, Norway and Finland. I am not impressed.

The former commissioners end their column on a triumphant note claiming,

“…some significant success in achieving the state’s objective to enable minority participation and provide medical cannabis to patients in need.”

January 7, 2020 Baltimore Sun Opinion from former commissioners Eric E. Sterling, Debra Miran and Hannah Byron
Just 18 months in and with over 7,000 licensees issued: Oklahoma has approximately 14 licenses to every stakeholder counted by the 2017 study.

As these former commissioners congratulate themselves it is important to note that at the time of this heralded study Maryland regulators had already spent 63 months fashioning our current oligopoly. In June of 2017 only 559 stakeholders and employees could be counted and categorized and patients had still another 6 month wait for overpriced herb.

Oklahoma, now just 18 months into the same process, has had home-grow and legal sales for over a year and has issued over 7,000 total business licenses. There is no question as to which state has done better job at providing medicine to “those in need”. I would be willing to bet money that Oklahoma, despite its demographics and politics, has more minority stakeholders as well.

Help Us Legalize Home Grow!

Please sign our petition linked here to tell our governor and legislators that Maryland patients deserve the same rights as those in Oklahoma, Michigan and Maine!!

Hemp Flower Review: Industrial Hemp Farms Indoor Grand Daddy Purple

Suggestible me: I could have sworn that these buds were purple 2 weeks ago

When I first cracked open the gift of samples sent to me from Industrial Hemp Farms, it was late in the day and I was looking to get sleepy. Following my personal rule of thumb that purple flower brings rest, relaxation and sleep I cracked open the Grand Daddy Purple, glanced at juicy purple flowers grabbed one, stripped off some deep violet fan leaves and loaded my bong. The flavor was good, a slight berry aftertaste similar to some of the purples grown and sold by Liberty Cannabis; an hour later I found myself no sleepier, no more tired, a bit disappointed.

I went on to sample other items in the box (stay tuned for those reviews) and did not revisit the GDP until yesterday morning when, not wanting to turn on the light and disturb my S/O, I used my nose rather than eyes to sort though my CBD collection for a good morning smoke to pair with my coffee.

Crushing this mystery bud the fragrance was overwhelmingly intense, a chemo-botanical potpourri with a slight berry scent on top. Not dissimilar from the odor of a crushed fragrant almost minty, lavender, but with an ammonia-like intensity. A vibrant scent profile that -without terpene testing to guide- I would guess is very high in terpinolene. I smoked my herb, drank my coffee and got started on some mundane chores that I have been avoiding for weeks.

If born a decade or two later I most certainly would have been diagnosed with ADHD.. Staying on task, especially from a seated position, I find difficult, bordering on impossible. However yesterday, before I realized it the hours between 6-12 am had evaporated, with them a laundry list of tedium that typically lead me to phone-staring, daydreaming or (best case) procrastination via more active chores and errands.

Of course I was surprised to later discover that the uplifting flower that had me so focused all morning was the purple strain. Even more surprising was when I pulled out a bud for a closer look, not really much purple to be found at all; just darkish green flowers with vibrant orange hairs. What can I say? I am suggestible.

The flowers are supple and resinous with my preferred density, not fluffy yet not rock hard pebbles either. The fan leaves may give it a rough appearance but once stripped away this flower beats most Maryland options in terms of looks, touch, scent and taste. This comparison may be unfair to Maryland cultivators as I believe that the MMCC testing guidelines may be responsible by requiring a sterile product. To prevent the presence of any fungus or bacteria buds may need to be dryer than most of us would prefer, at the time of testing. One of my go to dispensaries for their Wednesday flower deals, CuraLeaf Gaithersburg, packages all of their HMS flower in 1/8th canisters with Boveda packs. I have occasionally noticed that some flower is actually crispy at time of purchase as the Boveda pack takes time to re-hydrate the recently packaged flower.

In IHF’s top tier of flower listed as “Premium Top Shelf” prices range from $6.99 per gram, $34.99 per 1/4 oz and $100 per oz and $1,100.00 per pound this flower is a value and I will most likely find myself purchasing more when I soon run out.

Please sign and share the petition linked here to help us achieve homegrow in 2020!

The Potency Myth

As patients demand high THC products a one-of-a-kind blind cannabis competition tests assumptions and bares surprising results.

Curio’s OG Kush Breath 36% THC

Until 2017 most consumers of cannabis in Maryland were mostly captive to whatever single strain of flower their “person” had on offer. Flower would come in a baggy and was judged based on smell, appearance and effects. It was a frustrating world fraught with disappointments and surprises as indica fans were served racy brick-weed sativas, sativa-fans could find nothing but pretty nugs of couch-locking indicas.

In the 1990’s High Times magazine started testing for THC at its Cannabis Cup. This gave us our first bit of science based vocabulary as THC was understood to be the sole psychoactive element in cannabis. Logic dictated that higher THC cannabis was more potent and more potent must be better. It was a single cannabinoid world and without any actual testing data most assumed that really strong flower that produced persistent desirable effects must be high in THC. CBD came to the american zeitgeist this century and has been promoted to have mood stabilizing, anti-inflammatory properties. Supposedly bred out of all modern cannabis because it reduces the “high”, CBD has been viewed by some as a bit of a granny-cannabinoid, good for you -perhaps- but boring.

Entering a modern legal dispensary for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. Menus typically show whether a product is “indica, “sativa” or hybrid”. Within these category comes a list of unfamiliar strain names posted next to percentages of THC and CBD. Further investigation brings an alphabet soup of other cannabinoids and a list of multi-syllabic terpenes. Suffering from info-overload consumers choose for desired effects based on the Indica-Sativa spectrum and then THC percentage, the higher the better. This philosophy guides tiered pricing at one of my favorite Maryland dispensaries and the hype on reddit about an elusive 36% THC strain.

The Test

The Cultivation Classic is a one of a kind craft cannabis competition held annualy in Portland, Oregon. Judges are given instructions to go on a 2 day cannabis fast and then sample flower varieties in isolation over the course of a month, recording their experiences as they go along, only to see the farm, strain, and cannabinoid data after the fact.

“Credible Cultivar winner” 2019 Cultivation Classic

In the most recent episode of the Cannabis Cultivation and Science Podcast co-organizer of the event, Dr Addie Rae, discusses how experienced judges, some cultivators themselves, were surprised by the revealed analyses’ of the samples they had rated highest. Only a minute fraction of those considered across all 150 judges to be enjoyable tested over 20%. The most universally regarded varieties had near 1:1 THC:CBD ratios. Unfortunately dispensaries have a hard time selling flower that tests below 17%, and many of customers studiously avoid high CBD:THC ratios based on faulty assumptions. Even in Oregon, the land where craft cannabis is allowed to exist (sigh) and dispensaries are more prevalent than Starbucks, these strains can be hard to find.

Moral of the story…

We don’t know very much: Take any budtender, friend or random blog-poster claiming expertise on cannabinoids and their effects with a grain of salt. The true experts seem to agree that we still don’t really know very much. Dr Rae shared an intriguing anecdote: there exists a whole class of non-terpene chemicals in both hops and cannabis that produce perceptible odors, do not show up on lab results and have yet to be fully investigated. Explore a variety of cannabinoid profiles, maintain an open mind to try varieties you may have assumed were not for you and trust your subjective experience to see what does and doesn’t work.

Help us legalize homegrow in Maryland:

Please sign the petition linked here. With only 15 growers in Maryland, Patients need and deserve an alternative!

CBD Flower: Birthday Cake Reviewed

Late in 2018 while in the thralls of the honeymoon phase of my relationship with Maryland Cannabis, I purchased a $35 8th of Sunmed’s AC/DC. The flower had tested below 1% THC and close to 20% CBD. I had read good things about CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties and understood it to not only be non-psychoactive but anti-psychoactive. CBD was purported to be an antidote of sorts for the sometimes negative cognitive side-effects of THC and to have no psychoactive properties of its own.

The next morning was a Sunday and I packed my vaporizer largely to get a taste (grassy) but expected to not really “feel” anything. I was surprised by what I can only describe as 2/3 of the cannabis experience. My muscles were noticeably relaxed, my mind was noticeably at ease. Each draw of the vaporizer was akin to a sip of hot coco or chicken noodle soup after a day of playing in the snow. What was lacking were time-distorting, performance diminishing cognitive effects of THC. I was enthralled. Later I learned that by mixing some CBD flower with THC dominant flower would result in a more well rounded experience devoid of the tinges of anxiety or confusion that sometimes accompanies the use of THC. It was a familiar experience that made me wonder how much CBD was in the mix in the untested illicit cannabis of decades past.

I was startled by one other unexpected side-effect of this experience the next morning while on a jog. It took me a block or two to realize it but I was pain free. The rhythmic charges I had come to expect with each impact of foot on pavement had vanished without a trace. To all who read this, a grain of salt, I am but one man and this very likely could have been coincidence or the placebo effect. Regardless, I have been converted.

An Outdoor Hemp Crop in Oregon

Google searches for CBD dominant flower strains brought yet more surprises. Farmers and vendors from states across the country were offering legal, tested high cbd flower for sale online at prices well below the $35 per 1/8 I had paid for that first 1/8th. How could this be legal? A few farmers who had taken part in federally authorized, state regulated industrial hemp programs chose to produce hemp flowers below .3% thc for smoking and vaping. The 2018 farm bill clarified the legality of this market and of sending and receiving state sanctioned hemp products across state lines via the USPS. This led to an explosion in both perpetual indoor and outdoor hemp crops planted in 2019 and online vendors selling to all 50 states.

I was surprised over the Christmas holiday with a generous assortment of flower samples from one such vendor, Industrial Hemp Farms headquartered in Colorado Springs Colorado. The flower all came in sealed bags like those used by Harvest with boveda packs to maintain moisture. QR codes on bags links to basic testing data showing macro cannabanoid and pesticides was included but no terpene data. The flower ranged from their top level Indoor “Premium Top Shelf” to the more budget oriented but still seedless outdoor 3rd tier of “House Bud Strains”.

In coming days I will give provide brief reviews of the flower IHF sent me. All flower arrived and as pictured and described. I did not pay for these samples but am not being reimbursed in any way for expressing my opinions or posting links. If your experience differs from what I am showing and describing I would be keen to hear about it:

Birthday Cake CBD

Despite its $45.00 per oz $325 per pound (!) price point as a “House Bud Strain” the dense, resinous, fragrant buds with orange hairs of Birthday Cake CBD test over 23% cbd and have proven to be my preferred CBD strain to mix in with the HMS GSC flower I picked up on a recent Wednesday from Curaleaf Gaithersburg. HMS GSC is tasty, actually resembling the odor of a certain thin mint cookie, but it is on the dryer side and at 30% THC beyond my comfort level for a straight consumption. Mixing anywhere from a 5/1 to 3/1 ratio of Birthday Cake/GSC has made for a tasty, slow burning and not overwhelming experience. I tend to smoke this blend when I am not intending to sleep as GSC is leans “sativa” for me and the Birthday Cake is soothing but not sedating like some of the other CBD flower varieties I will be reviewing in days to come.

Joy Strand Lands on Her Feet

The Baltimore Sun’s Pamela Wood reports that Green Leaf Medical, aka gleaf, has announced today that it hired the longtime executive director of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission a month ago. Strand, who resigned her post with the commission for “personal reasons” just 60 days before her hire claims that the opportunity to join gLeaf only came up “well after” she had left the commission.

An interesting quote from the Sun article was from gleafs president and executive counsel when asked about the appearance of a revolving door and favoritism “Frankly, if anything, in a situation like this, the commission would be more likely to heavily scrutinize us to make sure there isn’t anything improper going on,” 

Proposal: All Maryland Residents Should Have a Stake in Legalization

With gross sales already in the hundreds of millions how do you include marginalized communities, historically (and currently) disproportionately effected by the “War on Drugs” and marijuana prohibition? This is a question has seemingly been on everyone’s lips and has led to legal problems and and legislative logjams all over the east coast. I think there is a better way.

Most legalization efforts and proposals rightly include a right to grow a certain number of plants at home. Across the country such plant counts generally range between 6 and 12 plants. Though some prospective gardeners have been chomping at the bit for years, most Marylanders will not have the space, time, know how or money to get such a project off of the ground. Those residents should be permitted to choose to contribute part or all of their allotted plant-count to the cooperative or cooperatives of their choosing.

These cooperatives should be permitted to grow, refine, test and sell cannabis and cannabis products. Co-ops could be focused on education, small business incubation, community building, plant diversity or just generating profits for its stakeholders. Marylanders should be given the option to allocate (or not) their plant count numbers based on what matters most to them.

Please let me know what you think about this idea in the comments below.

Whats Wrong With Oklahoma?

Oklahoma is a smaller conservative state and has been working on Medical cannabis for a total of 18 months. Without the legal drama, and apparent corruption plaguing Maryland’s now 6 year old project, Oklahoma has created a market that appears to outperform Maryland’s on accessibility, diversity of stakeholders and tax revenue all while allowing patients to grow up to 12 plants at home. What legislators and those who defend oligopoly need to explain is what is wrong with Oklahoma? Why can’t or shouldn’t Maryland try to emulate Oklahoma’s success?

Oklahoma land rush of 1889

Here are the numbers:

Click here to find and reach out to your Maryland legislators. It makes a difference!

Homegrow in 2020?

With high prices and flower shortages the new normal Maryland cannabis patients should not be so patient about home-grow.

BEGINNING JUNE 1, 2016, THE COMMISSION MAY ISSUE THE NUMBER OF LICENSES NECESSARY TO MEET THE DEMAND FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA BY QUALIFYING PATIENTS

— HB881.

With 8th prices for flower appearing to bottom out at $35 but more often in the $45-$65 and flower shortages reported state wide the current oligopoly of 14 producers appear unable to keep up with demand to supply a variety affordable tested flower at reasonable prices. The time has come for MMCC patients to demand legal patient home-grow and collective-grow in 2020. Some medicaid and veteran patients may some day be able to apply for subsidized medicine via the, yet to be implemented or scheduled, “Compassionate Use Fund” but most of us would prefer to provide for ourselves both the affordability and variety currently lacking in Maryland’s booming 200+ million dollar market by growing our own cannabis at home or at a shared facility as part of a collective.  Whether you seek the non-intoxicating potential benefits of consuming steamed or uncooked whole plant or need to consume large quantities of flower to treat your condition a nine figure bank account (nor poverty, nor military service) should not be a prerequisite for relief.

Do you agree? Sign and share the petition linked here Contact your maryland state legislators and demand a medical home-grow provision in 2020.