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33 minutes | Dec 20, 2019
Rec'd Episode 10: An alternate reality
It didn’t have to end like this, but here we are. Our journey through the labyrinth of legalization is over, and today we’re taking a look back at what’s become of California’s pioneering weed industry. In the final episode of our first season of Rec’d, our hosts take stock of Prop 64’s aftermath, and consider what might have been. It’s like that movie Sliding Doors if Gwyneth Paltrow was the world’s biggest marijuana market and that train was some other voter initiative.
34 minutes | Dec 11, 2019
Rec'd Episode 9: Silicon Valley creep
If you need any evidence that Silicon Valley has wiggled its way into weed, you need look no further than the nickname for Prop 64: The Sean Parker Initiative. The founder of Napster and first president of Facebook isn’t just the quintessential tech bro, he was also the single largest donor to the initiative that made adult use legal in California. With the promise of billions on the horizon, there’s been an influx of tech money and minds into the cannabis industry, but Silicon Valley’s influence doesn’t stop at the bottom line. Can tech disrupt weed and does it need to? In this episode we talk to two women taking two very different approaches to working in weed. Cyo Nystrom, a former software sales director, is cutting her own path in cannabis with her startup, Quim, “A self-care line for humans with vaginas and humans without vaginas who love vaginas™.” Meanwhile, Emily Paxhia, founder of Poseidon Asset Management, is bringing Silicon Valley-style investment to the legal weed industry.
33 minutes | Dec 4, 2019
Rec'd Episode 8: All weed everything
California opened the floodgates with legalization. Post-prohibition, pot is popping up everywhere: Yoga studios? Check. Nail salons? Yup. Japanese bathhouses? Mhmm. Your grandma’s nightstand? Look, that’s between you and Nana. Join our very high hosts as we seek out cannabis in the unlikeliest of places and attempt to answer the question: Do you really need to put your weed in there?
36 minutes | Nov 27, 2019
Rec'd Episode 7: Dispatches from the Emerald Triangle
The Emerald Triangle: 10,000 square miles of mountainous terrain stretching over three counties, where it’s estimated 60 percent of all of the country’s weed is grown. Keeping track is nearly impossible, but there are reportedly as many as 32,000 separate cannabis grows in the Emerald Triangle, and maybe ten percent of them are licensed. This is the home of Murder Mountain, where drug cartels hide beneath the forest’s canopy. It’s also home to a long tradition of family growers and (if all goes according to plan) the next big thing in California tourism. Mike Strupp is something of an anomaly in Mendocino, one of the three counties that make up the Emerald Triangle. Mike is a licensed, indoor cultivator, but, like the unlicensed farmers that make up the majority here, he’s seen the effects of legalization on his community. Multi-generation family businesses are dying, big money is plotting its course, and crime is on the rise. Still, some believe The Emerald Triangle is poised to become the Napa Valley of weed. People like Chris Vardijan of The Mendocino Experience, a cannabis bus tour, are introducing curious onlookers to this traditionally guarded community.
27 minutes | Nov 20, 2019
Rec'd Episode 6: Law and Disorder
Weed people love to talk about the Gold Rush. As was the case with the Gold Rush, the Green Rush has seen an obscene amount of money poured into a volatile industry, and as was the case in the mid-1800s, the people profiting from the potential boom today aren’t the ones you might expect. There may be a lot of cash changing hands in this business but it isn’t the growers or manufacturers making bank. Weed people like to joke that the only people making money in the Green Rush are the lawyers. If you ask James Anthony, an Oakland-based cannabis lawyer and activist, he’ll tell you there’s some truth to that statement. Sharmi Shah, another cannabis lawyer operating out of San Jose, sees it differently, but they can both agree that legalization has been an uphill battle for industry pioneers. A complex web of regulation and taxation has made lawyers, accountants, and other ancillary service providers the real winners in this modern day dash for the almighty dollar.
37 minutes | Nov 13, 2019
Rec'd Episode 5: The equity lottery
On January 31st, 2018 Oakland, California made history with a bunch of bingo balls and a crowd full of hopeful dispensary owners. The city had invited 36 equity applicants from over-policed communities to come and watch their fates unfold in a televised “lottery.” As the hour-long spectacle unfolded, city clerk LaTonda Simmons drew numbered balls from a gilded cage at random, slowly chipping away at the dreams of hopeful business owners one by one. When the last number was called, four applicants were awarded licenses to operate adult-use dispensaries in the city of Oakland. One of them was Alphonso Blunt, aka Tucky, founder of Blunts and Moore, the first and only equity dispensary open for business nearly two years later. In the lead-up to legalization, activists like Amber Senter of Supernova Women, worked closely with the city of Oakland to create a program that would reincorporate people of color into the industry they shaped. Supernova Women would go on to help San Francisco and the state of California build equity programs that would influence state and city cannabis policies across the US. But back at home, Oakland’s pioneering program was facing a harsh reality: out of four licenses granted over two years, only one dispensary was up and operational. Lack of funding, resources, and training have crippled this grand experiment in bringing justice to those most affected by The War on Drugs. In Oakland, social justice in the legal weed industry is a game of chance and some believe the cards are stacked against the very people the city’s equity program was built to serve.
29 minutes | Nov 6, 2019
Rec'd Episode 4: The sudden death of Compassionate Care
Wayne Justmann is a master shit talker. He also started the first medical marijuana ID program. Wayne was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. A few years later he met Dennis Peron, who founded the first cannabis dispensary in response to the AIDS epidemic. Wayne worked closely with Dennis on the initiative that made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Back then, giving away free weed was just part of the business. They called it Compassionate Care. People were sick and some of them couldn’t even afford a nickel bag. That was still true when Prop 64 made recreational use legal in California. But regulation and taxation made it next to impossible to give away free weed, and the programs that once existed to provide the stuff to the terminally ill started to drop like flies. Tracy Ryan, the founder and CEO of @MyCannakids, a cannabis tincture brand focused on serving children like her daughter Sophie, was no longer able to support families with children battling cancer, epilepsy, and other conditions. For two years, Tracy, Wayne, and other activists and organizers railed against the state’s treatment of medical marijuana patients. In October, nearly three years after California voted to legalize, Governor Gavin Newsom gave new life to Compassionate Care when he signed Senate Bill 34. The donation of medical marijuana to the terminally ill is now legal and tax exempt. But is the spirit of compassion still alive?
30 minutes | Oct 30, 2019
Rec'd Episode 3: Weed Country renegade Matt Shotwell on Craigslist trapping and reality TV
In the new world of weed only the strong survive and Matt Shotwell, the merchant marine turned reality TV star with a 28-toed cat and a gold chrome tour bus, isn’t giving up yet. When his Discovery Channel show Weed Country debuted in 2013, Shotwell was facing eight years in prison for running Vallejo, California’s biggest and most infamous illegal dispensary. He dodged that bullet when the charges against him were dismissed later that year. By the time Prop 64 hit ballots, he was back on his feet and trading in on his fame. 2018 was supposed to be his year. Instead, failed crops, a distribution deal gone wrong, and mounting debts nearly took him out of business altogether.
26 minutes | Oct 23, 2019
Rec'd Episode 2: Whose responsibility is it anyway?
Corporate oversight? Accountability? Ethics? When California flipped the switch on legal weed, cannabis businesses found themselves grappling with issues largely foreign to the illicit market. Enter Jennifer Lujan, director of social impact at Eaze, and Laura Herrera, an independent cannabis consultant, two women whose jobs didn’t even exist before 2018. Together, they are part of a growing workforce aimed at fixing the cannabis industry from the inside. Editor’s Note: This episode was recorded in the summer of 2019, before Senate Bill 34 re-established Compassionate Care in California. That bill has since been signed into law.
30 minutes | Oct 14, 2019
Rec'd Episode 1: Lighting the fuse
Lori Ajax, Chief of the newly minted Bureau of Cannabis Control, didn’t know what hit her when voters passed Prop 64, legalizing recreational marijuana in California. Overnight, she was thrown into an entirely new world. In the space of the next 13 months, she would have to set-up a regulatory framework to reverse a near century of prohibition in the Golden State. As she worked around the clock to hire staff, create guidelines, and make sense of the illicit market, Steve DeAngelo, the so-called “father of the legal cannabis industry” and founder of Harborside, one of the state’s biggest marijuana dispensaries, was getting ready for his victory lap. But things didn’t exactly go according to plan. In episode one, two of the biggest names in legal weed offer dueling narratives of what happened and what’s to come for the biggest marijuana market in the US.
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