Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Master growers cultivating a higher grade of marijuana

A new breed of connoisseur is producing pot that is potent, tastes smooth and has a pleasing aroma — the kind of product now expected by ever-more discriminating consumers who frequent medical cannabis dispensaries.


how to grow weed


Behind the bolted steel doors of an old brick warehouse, Big Wes meets a nutrient company scientist to see if he can increase his crop yield. Rows of hydroponic marijuana plants soak up solution flowing through plastic troughs and light blazing from high-pressure sodium lamps.

Big Wes has spent more than half his life calibrating his system of growing high-grade marijuana to its utmost efficiency. At 50 years old, he harvests a crop of dozens of plants every week from five rented warehouses scattered along the rutted streets and alleys around the docks of Oakland.

His problem is that OG Kush, the ultra-popular strain he specializes in, produces notoriously low yields of bud per plant. For this reason the scientist has come with a nutrient solution made from deep-sea algae, which he promises will boost the output. Big Wes — who asked that his real name or certain identifying traits not be revealed because his career could land him in federal prison — is going to test it against his usual concoction, and try 15 different combinations of the two.

Photos: A higher grade of pot

Big Wes is new breed of cultivator, a "master grower" who produces marijuana that is potent and mold-free, tastes smooth and has a pleasing aroma — the kind of product now expected by ever-more discriminating consumers who frequent medical cannabis dispensaries.

He and others like him have revolutionized weed in recent years, growing sophisticated new varietals with scientific precision and assembly-line efficiency. Their expanding role in the burgeoning industry is shifting cultivation from clandestine rural plots to highly controlled indoor grows in urban centers.

"It's kind of becoming the big leagues now," said Kyle Kushman, a writer for High Times magazine and a grower who teaches organic and "veganic" cultivation classes. "Just like any other industry, as it gets older, the talent gets better."


Pot connoisseurs can talk about the complexity of cannabis like vintners do wine. They detect sweet flavors, and musky ones, and hints of berries, sandalwood, citrus, mint, pine and almond. An array of more than a hundred chemicals called terpenes brings out the taste and aroma.

Dusting the buds like a light snow are resin glands full of 80 or more cannabinoids, most notably the psychoactive one, THC.

According to George Van Patten, a.k.a. Jorge Cervantes, a renowned grower and author of the 484-page "Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower's Bible," the many combinations of these chemicals produce a complex range of sensations.

"This explains why certain medical patients find more relief with specific varieties," he said. "The THC molecule is the same in all cannabis plants. It is the mixture of other elements that play a vital role in changing the psychoactive effect."

Two decades ago, most marijuana smokers bought whatever their dealer had. Now, in the retail environment that sprang up with California's legalization of medical marijuana, they can choose from hundreds of strains of high-quality cannabis.

"Consumers have quickly developed a sophisticated palate," said Andrew McBeth, publisher at the marijuana niche Green Candy Press. "Like fine wine, the marijuana must look amazing, have a distinctive bouquet and have the cachet of being a well-known and popular strain."

The title "master grower" is part of the new marketing. The true connoisseurs scoff at the use of the label except in reference to a handful of the best growers in the world, like Cervantes.

But none dispute the high level of craftsmanship going into cultivation these days, both indoor and outdoor.

"All boats are rising," Cervantes said.

Part of this is due to information. In the past, growers didn't admit what they did, much less discuss their techniques. Now they have written dozens of books and penned a steady stream of articles in print and online. They even teach classes at pot trade schools like Oaksterdam University in Oakland.

Wally, in-house grower for a warehouse dispensary in Long Beach, spent years honing his skills on the underground market after realizing pot helped tamp down the tics he suffered from Tourette's syndrome. A 36-year-old native of Santa Cruz, he first worked trimming the marijuana harvest for older hippies.

"I learned everything about growing, and I had a million questions and they were happy to share," he said. "So many little tricks: They would run molasses in the last weeks of flowering to have sweeter buds. Or they went into caves in Santa Cruz to get bat guano and make it into a tea to put in the soil."

He moved to Long Beach in college, and grew indoors wherever he lived. He learned by trial and error, inadvertently burning leaves when lights were too hot, shocking the plants with abrupt changes of nutrients or temperature, watching mold appear in poor ventilation, and fighting aphids and spider mites when he wasn't vigilant about cleanliness.

Over the years, Wally, which is a nickname, grew to recognize the myriad subtle and changing needs of the herb. He could read the yellowing or wilting or drying of the leaves as too much of this or too little of that. He balanced nitrogen, phosphorous, calcium-magnesium, manganese, silica, molybdenum, bone meal, blood meal and dolomite — manipulating the ratios throughout the plant cycle. He learned to keep up the carbon dioxide during the flowering stage but cut it down in the last two weeks to keep the tight buds from blowing out like popcorn. Darkening in the leaf veins told him the plant was "begging for Epsom salts."

He grew mostly for himself, while working at Bally Total Fitness. Then one day, he went to the warehouse dispensary with a couple of racks of clones he grew — plant cuttings that root and take life as new plants, which customers buy to grow at home. The owners were impressed by his skills and offered him a full-time job setting up their in-house grow operation.

The first three of seven grow rooms are expected to be operational in two weeks.

Much is riding on Wally's expertise. The owners say they have invested $400,000 in the build-out so far, including $90,000 in air conditioning. They paid $15,000 in fees to be one of 18 dispensaries permitted by the city. On the three rooms, they estimate they'll spend $5,000 on nutrients every six to eight weeks, and $10,000 in electricity every month.

If Wally succeeds, he should produce up to 80 pounds of medical marijuana every three or four months, retailing at $2,500 or $4,000 per pound, compared with $1,000 to $2,000 for outdoor-grown.


In San Francisco, the owner of TreeTown Seeds, a thirty-something man named Nova, breeds his own new strains. He wears a cap with the title "Master Breeder."

"You have to be a master grower before you can breed," he explained recently at a coffee shop in San Francisco. "Unless you can grow it perfectly, you won't know the genetic potential of a plant."

Nova sells his seeds and marijuana bud to the top-of-the-line dispensary, Harborside Health Center, in Oakland.

His mind is an encyclopedia of marijuana. He spends most of every day in isolation with his plants, observing and smoking. He conjures Mendel charts in his head to see which strains might be bred together to make a better new one.

"I put everything into this," he said. "When you're a grower, you're in a cave mostly. I'm like a monk."

He takes a minimalist approach to growing. If he has a mite problem, he uses predator mites to get rid of them, not pesticides. He doesn't put extra carbon dioxide in the room, as do many growers. And he tapers down the fertilizer a month before harvest to flush the buds clean.

"When you burn something and it crackles and sparks, those are signs there is too much nitrogen and phosphorous locked in," he said. "It tastes horrible and burns your lungs."

He said the rise of medical marijuana in recent years has allowed him to feel like he has a legitimate place in society, even if he still has to lie low to avoid federal law enforcement, which considers all marijuana possession illegal. For many years, he felt like a solo musician playing for himself.

"Now," he said, "it's like I'm playing in a band and we have a venue."

Big Wes has a much bigger band and venue. He has three investors and nine full-time employees. He pays more than 20 part-time trimmers to keep up with a near continuous harvest.

He delivers his product to more than 50 dispensaries from San Jose to Sonoma County.

He is nothing like the old-school hippie grower. He commutes to Oakland from out of state and, with his crew cut and athletic build, would be pegged as a "narc" at a pot convention if narcs didn't even bother trying to blend in. He voted Republican until a few years ago and owns a company that deals in the realm of corporate seminars. When the economy kneecapped that business, he decided to turn his side gig of growing marijuana into a real business and set up shop in California.

"We're trying to professionalize and perfect this business as much as we can," he said. "We're creating standards and procedures. If you're a dispensary, I can now provide medicine every week."

He says he is in full compliance with California and Alameda County medical marijuana laws, although the laws on cultivating are murky.

Unlike many growers, Big Wes' three full-time "reps" don't show up at dispensaries in T-shirts with backpacks full of weed. Instead, like their pharmaceutical counterparts, they dress in business-casual and carry briefcases with sample jars of the product, along with lab results showing it contains no molds, insect parts or pesticides. They take the rare precaution of having dispensaries sign paperwork, he says, so they can show they're in compliance with California law.

Part of Big Wes' challenge is to bring his output to about 1-1/2 pounds of bud every 14 weeks under each of his 300-plus lamps, so that he can still pay his $35,000 monthly electric bill, among other costs, as more growers enter the market and the price of marijuana falls. It's not an easy business, he says. A friend of his thought it would be, investing $2 million in lights and equipment, only to give up after a series of subpar grows.

And in Northern California, the high price and environmental cost of indoor marijuana have produced a small backlash, with some consumers now preferring North Coast sun-grown pot.

But by perfecting his delivery efficiency and sales technique, Wes is building something he suspects might be more valuable than the marijuana itself in the future: his distribution network.

"If I could have the largest distribution of the largest cash crop in the world's eighth-largest economy, what would that be worth?"


Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25, 2012 Cannabis News - Latset Headlines From Around The Globe

San Jose Mercury News
By LISA LEFF, AP SAN FRANCISCO -- California has seven times as many residents as Colorado, but nearly nine times fewer medical marijuana users, at least on paper. And as far as record-keepers know, the most populous state, home to the nation's first ...
Helena Independent Record
A year after agents raided his medical marijuana operation in a sweeping sting that shut down pot providers across Montana, Chris Williams is stepping up his challenge of the federal operation that changed the face of the industry in the state.
San Jose Mercury News
By Cathy Kelly - Santa Cruz Sentinel FELTON - A fire broke out Saturday night in the basement of a home on Upper Scenic Drive that housed a marijuana growing operation, Felton Fire said. The blaze destroyed significant portions of the basement wall and ...
Opposing Views
To the best of Glazier's knowledge, Janetski is the only landlord charged as the result of two rounds of federal search warrants executed on medical marijuana operations in Montana last year. Janetski is scheduled to be sentenced April 19 on a charge ...
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Remembering Peter McWilliams (Official Tribute)

Peter Alexander McWilliams (August 5, 1949 – June 14, 2000) was a NY Times best-selling author, a a Libertarian and a medical Cannabis activist.

He self-published over forty books from computer books and poetry to personal growth; (LIFE 101 Series), healing loss/depression, ("How to Survive the Loss of a Love" / "How to Heal Depression") plus Libertarian ideals ("Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do"), and even photography ("Portraits.")

He recommended the use of St. John's Wort to help those suffering depression after he himself was healed from his own crippling depression.

He became a medicinal cannabis activist after being diagnosed with AIDS and non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1996. The government disallowed him to use the herb, and Peter died at the young age of 50 on June 14th, 2000. I discovered Peter nine years later and hope others will discover and love him too.

 "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."

-Alexander Hamilton

Peter McWilliams' Speech at the Libertarian Convention, July 4, 1998 


 Can anyone actually argue his points on medical cannabis?  
Anyone at all?

 Please Visit Peter McWilliams' Website

Friday, March 23, 2012

More Lies About Cannabis Being Fed To The Public

Source - Cannabis Country

While researching for the latest news related to cannabis I came across a article titled "Who says medical marijuana is safe and effective?"

Apparently the article was written by Dr. Theodore Carl Houk in a attempt to get people to think negative about medical marijuana. There were a few insane lies that I thought needed to be corrected.

But before I get to that let me post the article so you can read it for yourself.

The article is as follows:

Since the legislature wants to play doctor, a little medical education is required before it can obtain and then defend a DEA license like I have. In their excellent opinion Friday ("Medical marijuana laws make a farce of medicine," March 7), Drs. Dinah Miller and Antoinette Hansen did not mention that only double blind, randomized controlled trials with hundreds of patients can determine the safety and effectiveness of a medicine. For marijuana, this would have to be vaporized, as any smoke is carcinogenic, and in treatment-naive subjects, since habitual users can figure quality with a single hit.

Paul Armentano of NORML asks us to respect pot because of its long history ("FDA'smarijuana Catch-22," March 11), but it deserves none without data to support it. Anecdotal evidence is not good evidence, so it just does not matter how much is presented to legislators in labcoats. FDA has attributed four deaths to THC; marijuana's active ingredient does have a lethal dose. In my practice, three elderly patients I gave THC for appetite had unpleasant hallucinations. One patient became more paranoid and dependent on pot. A daily pot smoker developed metastatic cancer by age 50. Pot has nothing to offer beyond morphine and Zofran, so why bother?
Pot is a big industry that wants free reign. That does not make it safe or effective for anyone.
Dr. Theodore Carl Houk, Baltimore

I am sure some of you who know the real truth about medicinal marijuana are pretty upset after reading that. I was too.

For those of you who are not very educated on the subject please ignore this brain washed doctor. You can talk to many other doctors that are more educated on the subject and they will even tell you this is B.S.
So those of you that want to know whats wrong with that post I am going to pick it apart for you.
Since the legislature wants to play doctor, a little medical education is required before it can obtain and then defend a DEA license like I have.

Sounds like to me your the one who needs a little education on medical marijuana. The sad thing is your the doctor (or you just have a Dr degree), you should already know this.

In their excellent opinion Friday ("Medical marijuana laws make a farce of medicine," March 7), Drs. Dinah Miller and Antoinette Hansen did not mention that only double blind, randomized controlled trials with hundreds of patients can determine the safety and effectiveness of a medicine.

Alright then why don't we do these studies? Why did the government deny those who wanted to study medical marijuana the right to obtain marijuana for the study of medicinal marijuana? Also what would you say to those like Irvin Rosenfeld who have used medical marijuana for years for there medical condition. And I guess you didn't know at one time the U.S. Government actually used marijuana for medical purposes. Our government still to this day provides Irvin Rosenfeld along with a few others with medical marijuana every year. So if marijuana has no medical value why did the government at one time provide patients with marijuana for there medical problems?
For marijuana, this would have to be vaporized, as any smoke is carcinogenic, and in treatment-naive subjects, since habitual users can figure quality with a single hit.

Many people do vaporize there medical marijuana. Many medicate with marijuana edibles. Doctors even tell patients to vaporize there marijuana.

Paul Armentano of NORML asks us to respect pot because of its long history ("FDA's marijuana Catch-22," March 11), but it deserves none without data to support it. Anecdotal evidence is not good evidence, so it just does not matter how much is presented to legislators in labcoats.

Yes it should deserve respect. Marijuana has been used for thousands of years. Again you say there is no data to support the medical value of medicine. There are thousands of people who are living proof medical marijuana works. I think that is the ultimate proof. Doctors from other countries have done more research then us and they have found evidence that medical marijuana is effective in treating many illnesses. And what would you tell those going through chemotherapy that would not be able to eat and hold down foot without using medical marijuana? Or those with HIV/Aids who were melting away before they used medical marijuana, and are now much healthier because of using marijuana?

FDA has attributed four deaths to THC; marijuana's active ingredient does have a lethal dose.

Really now? This is the biggest lie you have told yet. Tell us where you got these statistics from? I know of people who intentionally tried to overdose from marijuana but was unable to no matter how much they used. There has never been one death from smoking marijuana in the thousands of years people have been using it. These are the type of lies that scare people. That statement really pissed me off. Next I suppose your going to tell me people get dope sick when they don't have marijuana? You can smoke for years and then quit without getting sick.

In my practice, three elderly patients I gave THC for appetite had unpleasant hallucinations. One patient became more paranoid and dependent on pot. A daily pot smoker developed metastatic cancer by age 50.

Most likely you are a idiot and gave someone who never smoked before a high dose of THC. Of course if you get someone really stoned when they never smoked before they might experience a few unpleasant side effects. You have to start them off slowly. If you had them vaporized it a new smoker should only take one hit then wait to see if they needed more.

I knew the dependent on pot was coming. That is not true. Yes people who smoke it and enjoy it might find it hard to stop because they love to smoke and really don't want to stop. Its more mental than physical. Its not because they are sick and can't stop. Its because they enjoy it and rather not stop. Like I said you don't get physically sick if you stop using cannabis.

A daily pot smoker developed caner huh? How do you know the cancer was because of marijuana. Do a little research and you will see just about everything causes cancer nowadays. Hell I heard on the news your bed mattress can cause you cancer. Obviously you blamed marijuana for being the cause of the cancer when most likely it was something else entirely.

Pot has nothing to offer beyond morphine and Zofran, so why bother?

From that statement now I know your a idiot. Who in there right mind gave you a license to practice medicine. Okay so pot has nothing to offer beyond morphine so stick to the morphine that kills your liver, gets you physically sick if you don't have it and is a very dangerous drug that you or others that accidentally got into your medicine could overdose and die on. Yeah stay away from that marijuana that is much more safer and healthier, just don't bother. That really pisses me off. Does this doctor not know how many addicts morphine has created? Have you ever seen a woman sell her body for marijuana, most likely not.

Have you ever seen a woman sell her body for morphine or opiates similar to morphine like heroin? Absolutely, it happens everyday. Your a damn fool for thinking people should take morphine over using medical marijuana. Your license to practice medicine should be taken away.

So do you see why you shouldn't always take the word of doctors and others (Because that doctor would get you dependent on morphine but wouldn't want you using medical marijuana that is 100 times safer than morphine). Get the real facts. Do some research for yourself. You don't even have to believe what I say. Do your research and you will see the truth. You will see pot has much more to offer than morphine. Just don't take my word for it, find out yourself. And please don't take listen to this doctor, he is most likely going to get you hooked on morphine and possibly doing some really terrible things once your sick and dependent on it.

If you ask me, that doctor is a idiot and should not be practicing medicine. I wonder how many addicts that doctor created.

Please recommend this on Google via g+1 below. You can also share it on Facebook and Twitter. It will help to get the truth out to those uneducated on the subject, and will only take a moment of your time to do it. They need to see the lies people say about cannabis and know the real truth. Help educate people about medicinal marijuana.

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The World’s Oldest Stash: Scientists Find 2,700-Year-Old Pot

Scientists have discovered two pounds of a dried plant that turned out to be the oldest marijuana in the world. Inside one of the Yanghai Tombs excavated in the Gobi Desert, a team of researchers found the cannabis packed into a wooden bowl resting inside a 2,700-year-old grave. It was placed near the head of a blue-eyed, 45-year-old shaman among other objects like bridles and a harp to be used in afterlife.

At first, the researchers thought the dried weed was coriander. Then they spent 10 months getting the cannabis from the tomb in China to a secret lab in England. Finally, the team put the stash through “microscopic botanical analysis” including carbon dating and genetic analysis, and discovered the stash was really pot.

The fact that the weed had a chemical known for psychoactive properties called tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase, or THC, led scientists to believe the man and his community probably used it for medicinal and recreational purposes. According to professor Ethan Russo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Botany, someone had picked out all the parts of the plant that are less psychoactive before placing it in the grave, therefore the dead man probably didn’t grow his hemp merely to make clothes.

If marijuana aged like wine, pot users might now be in heaven. But the weed had decomposed over the years, so no one would feel any effects if they smoked the artifact today.

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Swiss cannabis smokers will be allowed to grow four marijuana plants each

By Ian Sparks

Cannabis smokers in Switzerland will soon be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants each at home to stop them buying drugs on the black market.

In a bizarre twist to the new law, four people sharing a house can grow up to 16 plants - but only if each person tends to their own crop.

The deregulation of Switzerland's already lax cannabis laws has been agreed by four neighbouring regions in the French-speaking part of the Alpine country. 

A spokesman for the Neuchatel region said: 'We have agreed these new rules to prevent drugs tourism between regions where the rules are different, and to stop them buying it on the streets.
But one person can not start growing more than four plants just by claiming they live with other people.
In this case, these other people have to actually be cultivating the plants themselves.

Swiss daily Le Matin quipped: 'This basically means that you can grow four more plants for every housemate you have - just as long as they know how to hold a watering can.

The rules will apply in the cantons of Vaud, Neuchatel, Geneva and Fribourg from January 1 next year.

Three charged in West Chicago synthetic pot bust

 Source Daily Herald

Chicago, USA

By Josh Stockinger

An undercover crackdown on synthetic marijuana led to the arrest of three men at two West Chicago gas stations, police said Friday.

Officers made the arrests after executing search warrants Thursday at Shell gas stations on the 100 block of North Avenue and 1300 block of South Neltnor Boulevard, according to a news release.

Police said both businesses had synthetic cannabis, commonly sold under name brands such as K2, Wild Greens, Pink Panther and Kush. The searches capped a weeks-long undercover probe in which police said they bought the substances at both businesses.

Arrested at the North Avenue location was Jagidishkumar R. Patel, 53, of the 600 block of Forum Drive in Roselle, police said. At the Neltnor location, police arrested Joseph S. Nguyen, 33, of the 800 block of 15th Place in Chicago, and Sonni L. Nguyen, 38, of the 700 block of Hickory Lane in West Chicago, according to the news release.

All three were charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

The operation — carried out in conjunction with the DuPage County Sheriff’s Tactical Narcotics Team and the state’s attorney’s office — was the latest of ongoing efforts to crack down on synthetic marijuana products recently banned in Illinois.

In January, the sheriff’s office arrested the owner of a Lombard-area smoke shop accused of having $1 million worth of synthetic pot and “bath salts,” another synthetic drug. Officials in Aurora, Batavia, Campton Hills, Geneva, Lincolnshire, Mundelein, North Aurora, Sugar Grove and West Chicago also have taken local steps to bolster the state ban.

Lawmakers have found it challenging to keep with the shifting scope and makeup of synthetic drugs, but insist they are dangerous and must be taken off shelves.

Several suburban communities added to the state ban with their own restrictions after 19-year-old Max Dobner of Aurora died crashing his car into a house while having a severe reaction to synthetic pot in June, according to his mother. She has made it her mission to raise awareness and lobby for tougher enforcement.

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Feds Tell 25 More Colorado Pot Dispensaries To Close

The U.S. Attorney sent letters to 25 more medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, instructing them to close within 45 days because they are too close to schools.
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Cannabis Energy Drink

From Their Label And Website

Cannabis Energy Drink - Natural ingredients

Energy drink, exactly what are you drinking

Each energy drink has its own composition and other ingredients. And you can taste it! The energy comes from caffeine, taurine, sugars and other ingredients, just what is in it. Often there are artificial ingredients in energy drinks. Cannabis Energy Drink from Austria contains exclusively natural ingredients.

Cannabis Energy Drink with cannabis extract*


What make the Cannabis Energy Drink so unique are the natural ingredients and the cannabis extract*. There is no other energy drank that has that. Sometimes Guarana or Ginseng is added, but that still is roughing it a bit. Below you can see the most important differences with other energy or power drinks:

Nutritional value per 100 ml
Energy 194kJ - 45,6kcal
Protein <0,4g
Carbohydrates 10,5g
Sugars 10,5g
Fat <0,10g
Saturated Fatty Acids <0,10g
Fibres <0,10g
Sodium 0,005 g

Vitamins 100 ml
B3 Niacin 7,2 mg 40%*
B5 Pantothenic Acid 2 mg 33%*
B6 0,8 mg 40%*
B2 Riboflavin 0,64 mg 40%*
B12 0,4 µg 40%*

* % Guideline Daily Amount  

They don’t seem to differ very much, but with energy drink and power drink a small difference means a vast difference. Natural ingredients provide a nice taste. Only Cannabis Energy Drink contains cannabis extract*.

* No narcotic effects, 100% THC free.

Not suitable for children, diabetics, pregnant women and persons sensitive to cafeine.

A varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are important.

Cannabis Research A-Z

Health Science - University Studies 

Challenge of marijuana raids heads to 9th Circuit



 — A year after agents raided his medical marijuana operation in a sweeping sting that shut down pot providers across Montana, Chris Williams is stepping up his challenge of the federal operation that changed the face of the industry in the state. 


Williams, a former co-owner of the now-defunct Montana Cannabis, and more than a dozen other providers are taking a constitutional fight over the federal crackdown to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a district judge dismissed the case in January. He also is preparing for his own possible arrest related to last year's raids.

"I see these raids and the way that our state government allowed them to happen, I'd say they've really taken a lot of faith from people, faith they had in state government," Williams said.

The past year has seen the greatest change in Montana's medical marijuana industry since state voters approved the medical use of the drug in 2004. The March 2011 raids resulted in the prosecution of dozens of providers, shut down their businesses and caused many others to shut their doors out of fear that they would be next.

After the raids, the state Legislature passed a law that severely restricts the distribution of medical marijuana and makes it more difficult to qualify for as a patient. An advocacy group is challenging that law in court and at the polls, and a state judge has temporarily blocked key provisions from taking effect.

But the raids coupled with the new law have had the effect of placing a chill over the industry. The number of registered medical marijuana users has dropped 54 percent since May 31, nose-diving from 31,522 users to 14,364 at the end of February.

The number of registered providers has declined even more steeply, from 4,650 last May to 422 on Feb. 29.

Proponents of the changes say the changes have reined in an industry that was out of control and allowed people to receive registration cards without proper medical examinations.

But Williams, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association and various marijuana providers who have joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the federal government say the heavy handed governmental approach has countermanded the will of the voters when they approved the original law.
"Our medical marijuana program really isn't functioning anymore," he said.
The U.S. attorney's office did not have comment Friday, spokeswoman Jessica Fehr said. Federal prosecutors have declined to comment on the raids and Montana's medical marijuana industry other than a single statement in March 2011 that the searches were part of a long-term drug trafficking investigation.

Montana Cannabis was one of the largest medical marijuana providers in the state, distributing to about 300 people with locations in Helena, Missoula, Billings and Miles City before the March 14, 2011, raids shut down the business for good.

Williams called that the lowest point of his life. He lost his business and his home, but things began to look up when he found a lawyer who agreed to take his case and challenge the raids executed against 30 homes, businesses, warehouses and bank accounts across the state.
Several other marijuana providers joined his lawsuit, as did the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, which also is suing to overturn the new restrictive state law and is backing a referendum asking voters to repeal the law in November's election.

Williams and the others plaintiffs faced a setback in January when U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled against their claims that the raids were unconstitutional and went against a voter-approved initiative that allowed them to grow and produce the drug for medical consumption.
Distributing marijuana is illegal under federal law, and Malloy said state law does not shield medical marijuana providers from federal prosecution. He cited a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said the supremacy clause applies in medical marijuana cases.

The supremacy clause says that federal law prevails if there is any conflict between state and federal statutes.

Williams and the other plaintiffs have filed a notice of appeal with the 9th Circuit. He is optimistic. "I think looking at what we have, it's a blessing that (Molloy) did that. It saves us time and money and sends us right up to someone else instead of having to go through the process of Molloy's courtroom," Williams said.

Williams, who said he no longer works in medical marijuana and is starting up a nonprofit civil rights group, believes he may still be arrested for his role in Montana Cannabis.

Williams' partners in the business were Richard Flor and Tom Daubert, a medical marijuana advocate who was a leader in the 2004 initiative. Flor is the only partner who was arrested, and he, along with his wife and son, pleaded guilty to federal drug charges.

Like Flor, every other medical marijuana provider prosecuted in the raids has pleaded guilty in exchange for lighter sentences, but Williams said he wants to have his day in court if he is arrested.

"The main concern for me is that I will be looking at 40 years in prison because I'm not going to plead guilty. I want to go to trial," he said.

Mother of teen killed after smoking synthetic marijuana says Sen. Rand Paul has 'blood on his hands'

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Karen Dobner begged Paul to let ban of fake pot to come up for a vote, but never got a call back

Karen Dobner, whose son Max was killed after smoking synthetic marijuana, says Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) has 'blood on his hands'  for holding up a bill that would ban fake pot.


The grieving mother of a teenager who was killed after smoking synthetic marijuana is filled with fury at the lone U.S. senator blocking a ban on the dangerous drug.

Karen Dobner told the Daily News she’s called Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) 15 times to tell him about her son Max’s death last year — and to beg him to let the ban come up for a vote. She never got a call back. 
“He’s got blood on his hands,” Dobner said.

Even as she mourns the loss of a boy she says was the perfect son before he naively tried iAroma or synthetic pot, Dobner is angry that Paul is putting his libertarian principles before the lives of young people.

And she says she won’t let him get away with killing a bill that the House of Representatives has already green-lighted and the majority of senators are ready to pass.

Paul put a hold on the bill — a prerogative any individual senator can exercise — three months ago. “I told his aides he cannot survive politically if he keeps stalling this. We will not let it go,” said Dobner, a mother of three from Aurora, Ill. “Anything else he does will be publicized by us. Every time somebody dies we will hold him accountable.”

Dobner started a foundation called To The Maximus to bring public attention to the emerging danger of synthetic drugs masquerading as “herbal” and “natural” highs.

She has also started a blog and newsletter to alert parents and teens to the unpredictable and harrowing effects of smoking or inhaling the chemically sprayed leaves.

On Wednesday, Paul told The News he might be willing to release his hold and allow a vote to proceed if there were some changes in the proposed legislation. “We are concerned about people being put in jail for 20 years for marijuana,” Paul said.

Max Dobner died June 14 after he bought a $12 packet of iAroma at the local mall. Within 15 minutes of smoking it, he phoned his older brother to say he was having a panic attack and was freaking out, his mother said.

Dobner, a college student, got into his 1999 Chrysler and drove 100 mph on neighborhood roads until he crashed into and destroyed a suburban home, the car lodged inside a baby’s empty bedroom.

He was pulled from the crash, dead from blunt head trauma. The autopsy found the signature chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana, his mother said.

“He was my everything,” Dobner sobbed. “He was always the responsible child, the conscientious one. The one who wanted to make the world a better place. I never would have imagined this.”

Photo from the car accident that killed Max Dobner.

Emergency calls to poison centers about synthetic pot have skyrocketed around the country in the past three years, from 13 in 2009 to more than 2,900 in 2010 and more than 6,900 in 2011.

Some states have attempted to ban the chemicals used, but manufacturers — who operate in the shadows — get around the prohibition by tweaking the compounds so they are no longer covered by the ban. “How did this happen right under our noses?” asked Dobner. “Kids are having seizures. There are so many horrible stories out there.”

After Max’s death, Dobner, 50, set out to learn everything she could about synthetic drugs to get the word out. She moved into his room and has become a one-woman town crier.

“I would be rolled up in a ball crying every day if I wasn’t doing this,” she said.
“It didn’t take me long to find out about this poison that these nasty, greedy people are trying to sell to our kids and skimming the laws. They don’t care that kids are dying.”

Law enforcement is still learning about the shadowy nether world of synthetic marijuana. A spokesman for the DEA said that the chemicals are imported here from China in powder form. They are then mixed with acetone — common nail polish remover — and sprayed on plant leaves and packaged for stores to sell.

There is no way to know how much of the mind-altering chemical is sprayed on the leaves, and so dosage varies from package to package. There is no way to know how much or what you are inhaling, experts said. One teenager told an interviewer, “I felt like my head was coming off and floating away.” 
In just the last two weeks alone, two more deaths were blamed on synthetic pot.

A 17-year-old boy whose family said he was high on it fatally stabbed a sleeping schoolmate, Jasmyn Tully, 17, in Washington State because he felt “an urge to hurt someone,” authorities said.

And on Sunday, police outside Atlanta were investigating the death of a teenager whose body was found in a hot tub. Chase Burnett, 16, an honor student and junior varsity soccer player, was found by his father, who said his son had smoked synthetic marijuana known as “Spice.”

Citing Tully and Burnett’s deaths, Dobner said, “Senator Rand Paul doesn’t care that while he stalls this law, more kids are dying.”


Max Dobner

Sen. Rand Paul

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