California: Willow Creek Cannabis Alliance Launches, Showcases Local Businesses

CALIFORNIA:  The Willow Creek Cannabis Alliance (WCCA) has launched as a voluntary association of local cannabis businesses to support the community and enhance awareness of the exceptional cannabis products crafted in the Willow Creek region and surrounding mountain communities.

The WCCA is made up primarily of cannabis farmers, along with supportive allied businesses. Nineteen members have founded the WCCA, including Aloha Humboldt, Ambrosia Willow Creek, Bridges Academy Farms, Chronic Creek, Dragon with Matches, Emerald Family Farm, Emerald Queen Farms, Fresh Off The Hill, Full Cup Farmstead, Golden Gardens, Grouse Mountain Green, Humboldt Edge Farm, Humboldt Seed Company, Nasha, New Earth Farms, Outlaw Mountain Ranch, Rambling Rose, River Day Farm, Sol Spirit, Sunrise Mountain, Talking Trees, The Emerald Kid and Trinity Sungrown. Jill Forman, CEO of Golden Gardens and Founding Member of the WCCA, notes that “in total, our current membership holds cultivation licenses allowing for 667,832 square feet of outdoor, mixed light and indoor Humboldt County cultivation, which amounts to $2,315,778 in taxes from 19 cannabis businesses given back to the community through 2019.”

Linsey Jones, CEO of Aloha Humboldt as well as WCCA Founding Member, emphasizes that although many members have their own branded farms, “our goal to support all of our members including the other farmers in our community that sell their flower in bulk. We want to showcase northern Humboldt’s beauty and support our community in and out of the cannabis realm.”

The WCCA is planning for a large “Taste of Willow Creek” event in summer 2021 to celebrate the terroir of the region and its product offerings. The aim is “to share our bounty and beautiful community with a revived- craft flower consumption event, Taste of Willow Creek!” says Hannah Whyte, WCCA Founding Member and CEO of Emerald Queen Farms

The WCCA is proactive in the policy realm advocating on behalf of local voices on issues of common interest, and is a proud member of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance (HCGA) and the United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA). “It is wonderful to see and support the development of place-based organizations like the Willow Creek Cannabis Alliance,” says Natalynne DeLapp, Operations Director for the Humboldt County Growers Alliance. “There are incredible cannabis ambassadors in the Willow Creek and surrounding Trinity River area who are able to show how cannabis farming, business development, and land stewardship go hand-in-hand to improve the entire community.”

Members gain voting rights on the Alliance propositions, access to its internal forum, invitation to member meetings and networking events, social media and website visibility, logo placement for events, and leadership opportunities. Businesses interested in getting involved with the WCCA can learn more at

Cleveland Cannabis Influencers Gather At MJBA To Celebrate Opening Of Ohio Medical Marijuana Program

By Michelle Blank

There was a new energy and excitement in the air this past Thursday night as the Cleveland Chapter of the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) held its January Meetup, hosted by Steve Baden at the law offices of Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis.

TraceyDwyerBloomThe meeting of Cleveland-area professionals fell on the night after the official start of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Program, with four dispensaries opening their doors to the public. The Forest of Sandusky and Cresco Labs CY+ made the official first two sales with Ohio Valley Natural Relief LLC and The Botanist following closely behind.

To the gathered MJBA attendees – lawyers, healthcare professionals, patients, advocates and entrepreneurs — there was a newfound excitement that Ohio’s mmj program, created when House Bill 523 was passed in 2016 and signed into law by Governor John Kasich, is finally becoming reality after more than two years of delay.

janmeetup2clevelandThe official total sales for the first day totaled $75,000, with 8.7 pounds of legal cannabis being sold. To date, 3,575 patients have legally registered with the State as Medical Marijuana Patients, with those numbers expecting to grow daily.

mjbacleveland3The packed room had representatives from Buckeye Relief, a Level 1 Cultivator; Herbology Dispensary, The Clubhouse Dispensary; The Cleveland School of Cannabis; Dr. Solomon Zarraa, with Compassionate Cleveland; Michael Bush, National Cannabis Insurance, and many other industry professionals who came together to network, share information and build community.

Alicia Reaves, co-founder of Midwest CannaWomen, kicked off the meeting with a passionate speech about her organization and why she decided to form her group to help women become more involved in the State’s Medical Marijuana Industry. “I started Midwest CannaWomen because I have been in the industry since May 2017, and I have attended events and networked… and I never see myself. There is a lack of women – especially minority women – in CEO or even supervisory positions in the Cannabis Industry. I want to provide opportunities and resources for all women, so that they may have a place in the industry.” She is definitely becoming a voice to be heard!

MJBAClevelandSpeakerTracey Dwyer, Regional Patient Outreach Director of Bloom Medicinals, then took the floor to educate participants on her company’s Dispensaries located here in Ohio and throughout the United States. “What makes Bloom Medicinals an exceptional dispensary experience is our commitment to clinical excellence, superior product, and above all – deep compassionate care for our patients.”   Ms. Dwyer also fielded many questions and spurred conversations amongst the crowd on various topics including the State’s 21 Qualifying Medical Conditions and Ohio’s daily dosage of 2.8 Grams – dubbed what is now known as an “Ohio Tenth”.

cleveland4As is customary at MJBA events, the crowd lingered well after the speakers wrapped up to network, with business cards being exchanged and industry relationships being formed.

What a great way to start 2019. Ohio – I think we are officially going somewhere!!

MJBA Cleveland hosts meetings bi-monthly. For more information on how to become a member, please visit




420MEDIA Trailblazers In Cannabis: Kim Edwards, VP Of Acacia Diversified Holdings

mjba Business

Digital marketing agency 420MEDIA and the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) have joined forces to create a series highlighting entrepreneurs trailblazing the cannabis scene. Each week, we’ll profile a noteworthy business pioneer, and ask each 5 questions.

This week’s featured trailblazer is Kim Edwards, VP of Acacia Diversified Holdings, a vertically-integrated, publicly-traded cannabis and hemp company with a focus on cultivation, whole plant mobile CO2 processing, research and development, manufacturing, and distribution.

1. Tell us about your Company?

Acacia Diversified Holdings, Inc. through its wholly owned subsidiaries, MariJ Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (MariJ), Eufloria Medical of TN, Inc. (Eufloria), Medahub Companies, Inc. (Medahub), Canna-Cures R&D Center (CannaCures) is a vertically integrated, publicly traded cannabis/hemp company with focus on cultivation, whole plant mobile CO2 processing, research and development, manufacturing and distribution. We have completed our first year of cultivation participating in the TN hemp pilot program. We are very excited to be in TN where we will be able to cultivate and manufacture year-round within our 32,000 sq ft indoor facility. 

2. Why did you choose the cannabis/hemp business?

Love. That is what brought me to this doorstep.

When my mother received her diagnosis, I knew that I had to reach out for information and knowledge that could not only help her body fight, but eventually help many others facing a health crisis, as well. My partner, Rick Pertile and I haven’t looked back since that day. The energy I feel waking up every day being able to work with so many amazing, loving people from all sides of this business is absolutely invigorating. The powerful momentum of being part of something that is so much larger than I, is exciting.

I will be forever grateful for the amazing network of gentle people, whom I now get to call friends, that not only continue to believe in me, but believe and continue to prove time and time again, that cannabinoid therapy benefits our bodies and benefits our society. The science behind cannabinoid medicine has never been more real. So, I like to say that this industry has chosen me and many others just like me and I am simply humbled to be a little piece of the bigger picture. Together we win.

TM SOIL TO OIL (1) 3. 
What change will your firm address in the industry?

Acacia is a HIPPA compliant company (Medahub) and would like to be a part of treating cannabis/hemp with the same respect and privacies that come along with any other pharmacy prescribed medicine. 

4. Does it address an unmet need?

Yes, absolutely. As a company, we are validating and enabling doctors and patients the privacy, compliancy and consistency that they deserve. 

5. Are there any upcoming milestones for your company?

With a grateful heart, I can say yes, however honestly, I feel that we reach milestones almost every day. It is so exciting to whole plant extract and make product for some of this country’s most talented cannabis/hemp growers. Watching the love and care that surrounds this plant and knowing the time and talent that our grower families put into their farms, their cultivars and their teams make me feel like we are constantly hitting milestones together. We are looking forward to growing our Dahlia’s Botanicals charitable line as we move into 2019. I am also very excited to celebrate our upcoming 5year anniversary within this cannabis/hemp industry. I am extremely grateful for each one of my teammate’s dedication, hard work and faith in our mission to help people and to help our planet.

Where can readers learn more?

( coming soon


420MEDIA Trailblazers In Cannabis: Author Javier Hasse

mjba Business

Digital marketing agency 420MEDIA and the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) have joined forces to create a series highlighting entrepreneurs trailblazing the cannabis scene. Each week, we’ll profile a noteworthy business pioneer, and ask each 5 questions.

This week’s featured trailblazer is Javier Hasse, a young, Latin writer, author of the book, “Start Your Own Cannabis Business” (Entrepreneur Press 2018), which hit the “#1 Best Seller” spot for cannabis categories on Amazon during the week of its release.  Javier writes for a variety of mass media outlets, serves as the Director of Benzinga’s Cannabis News desk, hosts the show “Wonder Women of Weed,” sits on advisory boards for cannabis companies in emerging markets, and co-produces Debra Borchardt’s “Marijuana Money” weekly segment, which has been syndicated on Benzinga, High Times TV, MSN, Yahoo, etc.


1. Tell us about your book?

The story of how I got a book deal at age 27 is one I love, because it proves that karma (or however you want to call the world balancing itself) is a real thing.  It was mid-2017 and I had been writing about cannabis business and finance for a few years. One day, I got a call from Jenifer Dorsey, at Entrepreneur Media. She said she’d seen some of my stories on High Times, Benzinga, Leafly and Playboy, and thought I’d make a great fit to author a book on cannabis business they were looking to publish by 4/20/2018.

At first, I was a bit hesitant. I asked her: “Do you know I’m 27, I have never written a book, and don’t even speak English as a first language?”

She didn’t have an issue with that; she had seen my work across the media and was willing to take a chance. About this ordeal, I like to say: Jen Dorsey, she endorsed me. Entrepreneur Media supported me.

And so, we went for it.

Over the 60 days that followed, I interviewed more than 100 cannabis industry insiders and investors, and asked them for business advice.

I then compiled all of their tips and came up with this book, a step-by-step guide to the marijuana industry, as the title very clearly states – no euphemisms for this guy. My only condition was that this had to be a book for regular people, for those who had paid the price of marijuana’s illegality for so long. I wanted this to be a financial-inclusion-through-cannabis guide, instead of the usual advice for the Harvard MBA or Yale grad, the people who had been told they could start their own business from the day they learned how to speak.

Once we had the entire book ready to go, we sent it to the amazing Jodie Emery, famed cannabis activist, current owner of Toronto’s own hemp-themed café, Jodie’s Joint, and an esteemed friend of mine by now.

So, this is what we came up with: “Start Your Own Cannabis Business: Your Step-By-Step Guide to The Marijuana Industry.” A book aimed at those who don’t have easy access to a million bucks of startup capital, to those who don’t hold a $300K graduate degree, to those who deserve a chance in this nascent industry, which likes to take pride in how inclusive it is, while often excluding those hit hardest by the infamous War on Drugs.

2. Why did you choose the cannabis/hemp business as your beat?

Honestly, cannabis and hemp kind of found me. I was writing about finance a few years ago, focusing on hedge funds and insider trading, when an editor asked me if I was willing to author a story on cannabis stocks and derivative plays. This might sound pretty standard nowadays, but signing a story about weed half a decade ago was something that most young journalists getting a chance to write for The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch were not willing to take.

The thing is, I had loved cannabis for a decade by that time… And so, I took it. Why not? – I thought. Someone was willing to pay me to write about weed… That was not an opportunity I was going to pass on, notwithstanding the reputational risk involved.

Since that moment, things sort of snowballed. I got assigned to more pot stories, that led me to exclusives, to meet more people in the industry, to specialize, to get published in more and more outlets, to teach other people about this amazing industry, to get them on board… This is my life now. And I wouldn’t change a freaking thing 🙂

3. What will the cannabis industry look in a few years? How will the legalization shape the industry?

We’re seeing the world, and not just the U.S., move in the right direction, I think. The future is already being molded, in my opinion. We’re seeing a lot of new cannabis businesses emerge, many of them succeeding, some failing…and a lot of them being acquired by larger players. This wave of consolidation will continue for the foreseeable future, I’d say.

I like an analogy that musician David Crosby used during a recent conversation we had: half a decade ago, there were dozens of American car makers; now, there are just a few big brands dominating the market. We should expect the same to happen with the cannabis industry on a global scale.

Another interesting trend is that of the increasing number of investments from big companies from other industries. As legalization and public acceptance of cannabis advances across the world, huge corporations like alcohol-maker Constellation Brands, will make larger and larger investments into cannabis companies, eventually taking control over some of them – as Altria, the maker of Marlboro, said recently.

It is our duty to make sure that, no matter where the industry goes, we keep in mind that patients’ wellbeing is the #1 priority, and that taking care of the world we live in is equally important. Thus, we need to ensure good practices, and an emphasis on the production of clean, accessible, affordable cannabis products.

4. What has been the reaction to your new book? Are we seeing a boom in new entrepreneurs?

I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to write this book, which I hope is the first of many. We’ve seen a boom in entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry, but I would never take credit for that… It’s only natural.

The response to the book, however, has been overwhelming. Tons of fan mail, messages, people thanking us for guiding them… It’s also opened a lot of doors for me personally, as it led to frequent invitations to keynote at cannabis and entrepreneurship events, TV and radio interviews, etc. But beware, the reason for which I enjoy this is not related to ego, or a need for attention. To me, what’s valuable is bringing knowledge about cannabis and its medical, economic, and social justice potential to the mainstream; to help the world understand that we need to overcome taboos and act in pragmatic, sensible, sensitive manner in all weed-related issues going forward.

Where can readers learn more about your writing?

I have had more than 4,500 articles published on PlayboyCNBCHigh TimesTheStreet.comEntrepreneur Mag, Leafly, Benzinga, CNN Money, CNN Business, Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, MSN Money, Morningstar, Nasdaq, Dope Magazine, Merry Jane, The Fresh Toast, Apple News, and many others.

You can follow me on:

Or just Google me. You’ll find just one Javier Hasse. 

Cannabis Industry Mover And Shaker Party? MJBA Ambassador At Large Is There

By Jake Dimmock,MJBA Ambassador-At-Large

WASHINGTON: Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a special celebratory gathering of the movers and shakers of Washington’s Legal Cannabis Industry. Held at the Hard Rock Cafe, 
and hosted by Jared Mirsky, CEO and founder of cannabis digital agency Wick & Mortar, the “Movers and Shakers” celebration marked Wick & Mortar’s (originally Online Marijuana Design) fifth anniversary.  Jake the Professor made the scene in my capacity as Ambassador-At-Large for the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA).  Great work if you can get it.

Jake and HarleyThe party was a veritable Who’s Who of Industry VIPs, including the Pacific Northwest’s very own David Tran and his crew at Dope Magazine , who were celebrating their acquisition by High Times Magazine.  Other notables included JJ Walker, who runs and operates the new Cannabition Museum in Las Vegas —  home of the 24′  world’s largest functioning bong, Bongzilla, created by Jerome Baker Designs. If you are into weed go see the Cannabition Museum next time you visit Las Vegas.  

Wick & MortarThe very well known grower and author of Marijuana Growers Guide and co-founder of High Times Magazine, Ed Rosenthal was there!  Many of the old school cannabis growers used Ed’s grow guide to make decision about what new grow equipment we needed. We were assured by Ed, the next thing we needed to do for bigger buds was buy more grow equipment!

Also in attendance was the lovely Cheryl Shuman, aka the Martha Stuart of pot. Cheryl is an original cannabis branding pioneer who has inspired many of today’s cannabis influencers, and women of weed.

Tony Greenhand renowned professional joint roller (yeah, it’s a thing) dazzled the party with a turtle shaped masterfully-rolled jay.  Everything was going great until the fire alarm went off. Next thing you know, the Seattle Fire Department arrives just in time to make sure all the movers and shakers were safe.  Strange thing, nobody knows why the fire alarm malfunctioned. Weird right? Everything turned out fine of course, and like the old saying goes, “It ain’t a good party until the authorities arrive.”

Cleveland’s Cannabis Pioneers Turn Out For MJBA Professional Meetup

By Michelle Blank
The room was packed this past Thursday as professionals in Ohio’s nascent legal cannabis industry turned out for September Meetup of the Cleveland Chapter of the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA).  The networking and informational event, hosted by attorney Steve Baden and held at the law firm Meyers Roman, Friedberg & Lewis, brought together a diverse crowd of CBD business owners, attorneys, a cannabis insurance company, a cannabis staffing agency, doctors and nurses,  several of my fellow staffers from Cleveland School of Cannabis, and a few others just looking to get involved in the industry and become more informed.
MJBA Cleveland September Meetup

MJBA Cleveland September Meetup

Nick Ciofani, Deputy Chief of Staff from Congressman David Joyce‘s office, started things off with an update from the 14th District of Ohio.  An informative brief was then given by Theresa Daniello from TDCANN Institute on the status of her meeting with the State.
MJBA Cleveland Meetup

MJBA Cleveland Meetup

Arleen Crider, Nurse Herbalist, educator and clinical informatics specialist discussed the endocannabinoid system and the importance of educating medical professionals on plant-based medicine.  The meeting was wrapped up by special guest Jeremy Miller, organizer of Viva Las Hempfest, the licensed Hemp festival scheduled for early November, who shared his journey in the cannabis industry. 
Arleen Crider explains the endocannabinoid system

Theresa Daniello from TDCANN Institute 

With Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Program becoming operational, the attendees were heard discussing the benefits and importance of having a forum for participants in the legal cannabis industry to come together and share news and community.  The MJBA meeting provided all of those who attended with powerful information, and invaluable networking.  Having an organization like the MJBA is instrumental for Ohio’s Professional Cannabis Community to keep abreast of not only our State’s progress, but other States’ growth and progression as well.

Since 2013, The Voice of Legal Cannabis.

Since 2013, The Voice of Legal Cannabis.

If you would like to get involved with the MJBA Cleveland, please email us:

The Wink In Weed: Why Seattle Hempfest Is Still Worth Supporting

By David Rheins

It’s been five years since Washington opened its legal cannabis marketplace, and today adult consumers in the Evergreen state have an abundance of high-quality, legal weed available in an impressive array of product configurations at affordable prices.

Seattle Hempfest, taking place this week along the gorgeous Puget Sound, is the nation’s oldest and largest “Protestival.”  It began as forum and platform for activists, patients and pot smokers to gather together to fight for their rights to toke in peace.  Back then, firing up a joint in public had real potential consequences — and could land you with a fine or even jail time.

My fellow Hempfest Volunteers in their Green T-Shirts

Hempfest Volunteers

Today, Washingtonians don’t have to go to the park to spark up. Pot smoking is legal, accepted and somewhat normalized in the Pacific Northwest. Leading some to ask what is the relevance of Seattle Hempfest?

While more of a party these days than a protestival, Seattle Hempfest is still a must-attend annual gathering of the cannabis tribes.  Our Green Revolution is a broad tent, with a diverse set of communities.  We are advocates, patients, farmers, business professionals, parents, teachers and caregivers, all united under the belief that Federal Prohibition, and the War on Drugs — and Drugs Users — must end. There is something powerful and undeniable about seeing a hundred thousand pot smokers gather together to celebrate community.

There is still much legal reform that needs to happen before cannabis consumption is fully normalized — and it is encouraging to see the momentum behind the STATES ACT and the Marijuana Justice Act as Congress has finally gotten the word that the American public — on both sides of the aisle — are through with prohibition.  The 2018 Farm Bill, with its Hemp Farming provision, will de-schedule industrial hemp and open the way for explosive growth in hemp-based products, including consumer goods, industrial materials, foods, fuels and medicines.

We are in a fight for the control of our legal cannabis industry.  Big Pharma, Big Alcohol, Big Tobacco, Big Agriculture and Big Government Regulators are all fighting to establish their places in our new mainstream marijuana marketplace. We must continue to stay involved now as the new regulations and standards of our emerging industry are crafted. I see Hempfest as a natural venue for showcasing the best and most innovative hemp products. Cannabis consumer rights need to be protected to ensure that the legal products are safe, tested and of the highest quality. Legal cannabis businesses have an opportunity to build an industry based on the highest standards of production, marketing and operations.  We need to be fair and equitable in our hiring and compensation practices, and we need to direct the windfall of new marijuana tax revenues towards improving the health and welfare of local communities, particularly those hit hard from the War On Drugs.

CurvedPapersHempfest512x440As our alternative culture takes centerstage, it is important that we stand together for our shared values.  We are witnessing and influencing the end of an era. The post-WWII, better living thru petrochemicals, conspicuous consumption society is unsustainable — and is quickly being replaced by a global, plant-based lifestyle, renewable energy zeitgeist.

MJBA is proud to once again participate as a media sponsor and exhibitor of Seattle Hempfest.  We’re thrilled to be sharing a booth with Curved Papers, with whom we’ve been touring the country on a Cannafest Destiny Tour.  We’ll be showing off our NORML 100% Hemp rolling papers, and showcasing our latest poster by Michael Guttsen, and doing social media blasts with MJBA Ambassador At Large Jake Dimmock.  Please join us at Booth #323 across from the Hemposium.

Michael O'Malley, David Hynes Michael O'Malley David Rheins

It has never been more important to stand up and be counted.  Please come out to Myrtle Edwards park this weekend, listen to the speakers, dance to the music and support the many food and merchandise vendors.  Be sure to drop a few bucks in the donation bucket:  Seattle Hempfest is an all-volunteer effort, and it depends on the support of its Vendors, Sponsors and Attendees to survive.



Marijuana Business Association Is Media Sponsor Of First Oklahoma Hempfest

MJBA Founder David Rheins Is Featured Speaker At Historic Hemp Festival

WASHINGTON: The first Oklahoma Hempfest  is shaping up to be enormous. Promoter Scott McKinley has assembled a world-class lineup of major talent for the FREE event, including DJ Snoopadelic (Snoop Dogg), Kokane, GapX The Band, Twista, Ryan Upchurch “The Redneck” and many more, and has now enlisted the support of the Marijuana Business Association, and its founder David Rheins, the cannabis industry’s unofficial business ambassador.


MJBA Is A Proud Sponsor of Oklahoma Hempfest Sept 7-9th

MJBA, which publishes the popular MJ News Network — The Voice of Legal Cannabis — whose properties include MJ Headline News on Facebook and Marijuana Channel One on YouTube, will serve as media sponsor for Oklahoma Hempfest bringing to bear the resources of its more than 300,000 subscribers to promote the event.  MJ Headline News and MJ Channel One will field reporting teams on site to provide live coverage and conduct exclusive interviews with event speakers, performers and VIPs.  Rheins, a renowned expert in media, marketing and branding, will address the opportunity that awaits Oklahoma’s nascent legal cannabis community.

“The MJBA has been a staple in our industry. It’s Executive Director David Rheins has traveled to each legal market speaking to each community about the new growth and challenges of our emerging market,” McKinley told MJNN. “From his background as President of the trendsetting Spin Magazine, to his groundbreaking work in the digital media space, David definitely understands the dynamics of a developing market and its growing pains. We are very excited to have the MJBA team on board with Oklahoma Hempfest — bringing this knowledge to Oklahoma is paramount.”

I’m thrilled to be a part of this historic hemp festival,” said David Rheins. “MJBA has long been a supporter of Seattle Hempfest, and it is an honor to open yet another legal cannabis marketplace. Oklahoma has passed medical marijuana, and it looks like the voters will demand adult-use cannabis as well this November. Scott and his team have brilliantly created this free event as a rallying point, and Oklahoma Hempfest will be a ground zero mobilization point for the legalization and cannabis communities just prior to the important elections.”

The Wink In Weed: The Midwest Leg Of ‘Cannafest Destiny’ Tours The Heartland

By David Rheins

So much attention is spent on the great progress that is being made on the East Coast, that we sometimes forget to acknowledge the truly historic changes that are transforming the country’s heartland.  As wise approach this Independence Day, those of us in the marijuana reform movement and legal cannabis industry have much to celebrate.  Roll fireworks, spark legal sparklers.

I grew up in the conservative Midwest dreaming of more.  Weaned on the music and poetry of Bob Dylan and John Lennon, rock & roll and marijuana sustained me during my formative years in the Indiana of the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, Midwesterners had little hope that legalization would ever really come to our bible belt.  Hell, you couldn’t even buy beer on Sundays, or buy a lottery ticket in the Hoosier state.

As soon as I could, I fled the flatlands of Indiana– first for the Central African Republic as a Peace Corp volunteer, and later to the libertine coastal towns of New York City and Seattle. In New York, I learned the business of media and marketing. At Rolling Stone Magazine, and SPIN and AOL Time Warner, I received a first-class education on building pop culture brands and established a network of lifetime friends and colleagues.

Since Colorado and Washington first voted to legalize recreational marijuana use in late 2012, the legal cannabis market has grown from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion last year, according to industry estimates. That kind of velocity gets the attention of investors, many of whom focus on tech.

MJBA has provided a safe place for professionals in legal cannabis to build the industry and establish best practices.

In Seattle, I found my people in a culture of bountiful marijuana and progressive politics.  The Pacific Northwest was where the hippies washed up.  In the cool forests and high-tech valleys of the Puget Sound, I found a society that had socialized, if not yet fully legalized, the use of cannabis. The PNW was rich in cannabis culture, and with extensive plant expertise, and established community, but no real business infrastructure. With legalization, and the complexities of compliance that come with it, we established the Marijuana Business Association to meet the many needs of those early business pioneers. We were privileged to be able to help establish one of the first legal cannabis markets, and a build a very vibrant community of cannabis business professionals that has allowed us to take that knowledge and expertise across the country as new markets opened.

Now, five years after those first market places began, we have established legal cannabis communities on both Coasts, and even in the Midwest.  Public opinion is firmly on our side, and even Congress has come around – with several bills currently circulating with bi-partisan support that will further unravel the age of prohibition.  By every indication, the country is moving towards legalizing marijuana for both medical and commercial use. The Senate, led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, has passed the 2018 Farm Bill which includes Hemp farming provisions that De-schedule Hemp and allow American hemp farmers to take advantage of a booming global market (insert link). We are about to embark on the hemp century, and that portends great things for the Midwest.

What a great time then to steer the CannaFest Destiny Tour – the educational tour that Curved Papers and the MJBA have been on for the last two years – to Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

Curved Papers is a national sponsor of The Marijuana Business Association.

Curved Papers is a national sponsor of The Marijuana Business Association.

We began our trip in Michigan, the land of a thousand dispensaries.  Second largest medical cannabis market in the country — with more than 300,000 patients — Michiganders will vote on full legalization in November, and the local cannabis activists are feeling confident in success.

But for now, Michigan and the High Times Cannabis Cup was all about Medical Marijuana.  For starters, you had to be 18+, and possess a medical card to get in. We arrive at the racetrack in the pouring rain.  Navigating the muddy parking lot, we are greeted with long lines and quickly learn that there is a strict, if indecipherable, wristband hierarchy in play.  Super VIPs have replaced VIPs.  And If you ain’t Super VIP, you are only slightly above the great unwashed.  A strict canna-class system is in full evidence:  High Times hogs ride around on ATVs, vested security guards checks wristbands to ensure to unauthorized entrance into meager VIP – with its tubs of free Flynt Water Bottles water, a free t-shirt, and a place to get sit down and medicate – and slightly better Super VIP tented areas.

michael with mjba button

High Times Michigan was held at the Auto City Raceway in Clio, a former dirt track turned asphalt flea market for weed smokers, er I mean, patients.  The venue was packed, despite the rain, and the track was lined with every flavor of entrepreneurs eager to serve a hungry crowd. Corn dogs and infused coffee, dabs (called wax in Michigan), edibles and local flower, lots of flower were available in an endless circle of booths and trailers.  Just don’t look for alcohol.  Despite the permanent venue advertising that lined the track, there was no booze available at the track.  Instead, we found the nicest crowd you ever saw – a blissed out army of stoned zombies gathered together for a day of smoking marijuana and singing songs in the Midwest muck. We had a blast.

After two days in at the laidback track, we made our way southward to Cleveland, Ohio.  The vibe changed drastically once we crossed the border into the Buckeye State. Despite passing into law two years ago, medical marijuana remains legal, but unavailable.  Through corruption and incompetence, the state has hemmed, hawed and delayed the process so that the mandated September launch will be pushed back for who knows how long. As a result, the members of the cannabis community – advocates, educators, patients and healthcare professionals – are justifiably frustrated.

2018-Generic-Badge-RWBThis was the setting for the inaugural meetup of the MJBA Cleveland chapter.  Sponsored by MaryJane Staffing Agency and hosted at the offices of Meyers Roman, the event was attended by a small but passionate crowd of lawyers, entrepreneurs, educators and advocates, and covered in the Cannabis Business Times.

Attorney Steven Baden gave the attendees an overview of where the state stood with the rollout of its medical marijuana program (he expects delays to last until the first of the year), and MaryJane President Michelle Blank outlined the hundreds of new jobs and career opportunities for participants in Ohio’s legal cannabis system.  Entrepreneur Michael O’Malley shared his story of innovation, and opportunity for product marketers in the lucrative ancillary arena.


Back to the beginning of my personal quest, Indiana is also the last frontier for legal cannabis. But even in Pence’s Indiana, there are rays of freedom breaking through.   The current Governor has signed the law legalizing CBD, and a few brave politicians are standing up for legalization.  At the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis, Grand Poohbah Bill Levin is awaiting a judge’s decision that could legalize Cannabis as a religious sacrament.

But for now, there is no cannabis in sight as the Cannafest Destiny Tour participated in the Church’s weekly Wednesday services.  Before the services, we receive a call to remind those of us from legal states that we cannot bring our weed onto church grounds.

But inside the classic Indiana Church building, a warm congregation (made even warmer as the air conditioning was on the fritz on the hot and humid Hoosier evening) welcomed us.  In addition to an inspiring sermon by Grand Poohbah Levin, we are treated to testimony from Indiana NORML Chairman Neil Smith, and members of the congregation. Curved Papers founder Michael O’Malley delivered an inspiring talk about the birth of a cannabis brand, and I was able to tell my personal story.

As we left Indiana, the congregants of the First Church of Cannabis are on pins and needles. (as we publish this, the Judge has pushed back the date to render her decision until July 9th).  Levin, ever the advocate for LOVE, told me that he is confident that history is on his side.

Stay tuned to these pages…

Elected Officials And Industry Leaders To Speak At NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally This Saturday, May 5

In its 47th year, the Event starts in Midtown and marches to Union Square Park for an afternoon rally

NEW YORK:  New York’s longest running annual pro-cannabis event, the NYC Cannabis Parade and Rally, returns for its 47th year this Saturday, May 5.  A powerful slate of elected officials, including two state legislators and three City Council Members, will be speaking from stages in Midtown and Union Square Park throughout the day. The elected officials are:

  • NY State Senator Jesse Hamilton (State Senate District 20, Brooklyn/Queens)
  • NY Assembly Member Richard Gottfried (State Assembly District 75, Manhattan)
  • NYC Council Member Rafael F. Espinal (City Council District 37, Brooklyn)
  • NYC Council Member Jumaane Williams (City Council District 45, Brooklyn) and a candidate for New York State Lieutenant Governor
  • NYC Council Member Donovan Richards (City Council District 31, Queens)
RESIST PROHIBITION, REALIZE, LEGALIZE NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally is Saturday, May 5th

RESIST PROHIBITION, REALIZE, LEGALIZE NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally is Saturday, May 5th

The Event begins at 11 am with a pro-legalization speak-out at the assembly point at W. 31 St. and Broadway. State Sen. Hamilton and Council Member Williams will be among the speakers at W. 31 St. At 12:30 pm, the parade marches down Broadway to Union Square Park, where speakers and musicians will engage and entertain the crowd from 1-5 pm.

Additional speakers include:

  • Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels who is now using medical marijuana to treat Crohn’s disease
  • Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)
  • Joy Beckerman, President, Hemp Industry Association (HIA)
  • Joel Giambra, Former County Executive of Erie County and candidate for Governor
  • Yasmin Hurston, President, New York Minority Alliance
  • Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for Governor
  • Tanya Osborne, NYC/Bronx Market Leader, Women Grow
  • Leo Bridgewater, President, NY/NJ chapters, Minorities for Medical Marijuana
  • Cristina Buccola, Esq., member, New York Cannabis Bar Association
  • Justin Strekal, Political Director, National NORML
  • Shira Adler, Author, The ABCs of CBD

The performers are: 

  • Immortal Technique
  • Chief Rocker Busy Bee
  • Lord Digga da Highsman
  • Real One
  • Lunar Tourists
  • Ismael Levi

• King Ras Pedro

  • Comedian Rob Cantrell

Check out the full lineup of speakers and performers here. 

The Event’s emcees are the Cannabis Cultural Association’s Jake Plowden, Nelson Guerrero, Amanda Reyes and Joseph A. Bondy.

The NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally’s Coalition Partners are: Drug Policy Alliance, Women Grow NYC, Empire State NORML, High NY, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, CannaGather, Hemp Industry Association, Patients Out of Time, Marijuana Business Association, New York Minority Alliance and the Green Party of New York State.

The Event sponsors are: Dutch company Sensi Seeds; Etain Health, one of New York’s registered medical cannabis providers with dispensaries in Manhattan (142 E. 39 St.), Yonkers and Kingston; Curved Papers; and Flower Power Coffee Co.


NY State Senator Jesse Hamilton:

“Nine states and the District of Columbia have decided to legalize and regulate marijuana. By joining these states, New York would allow law enforcement to prioritize real public protection needs. Alongside broken windows policing, our outdated marijuana laws direct police resources, court time and the justice system’s authority at people who are not violent, not dangerous and do not pose a threat to the public. We must continue to work towards the day that New York rejects the deeply flawed policies of the past, embraces sensible reform and passes the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.”

NY State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried:

“We need to move beyond the outdated and broken marijuana prohibition model to a sensible tax-and-regulate system. But that’s only part of the solution. Even in states with legal adult marijuana use, there is still evidence of unequal law enforcement practices targeting minority communities. We must ensure that those most victimized by the criminalization of marijuana benefit from the social and political progress around the issue, including reforming criminal justice processes and ensuring widespread participation in the marijuana business boom.” 

NYC Council Member Jumaane Williams:

“We must expand out medical marijuana program to include all those who can benefit from its use,” adds Council Member Williams. “We also should rapidly move towards the full legalization of marijuana, expunge state criminal records of past users and create a pathway for all New Yorkers to benefit economically from this industry, not just a select few chosen by the Governor.” 

NYC Council Member Donovan Richards:

“It’s a weird time when New York City finds itself to the right of former House Speaker John Boehner, but unfortunately that is where we are with about 17,000 marijuana arrests in 2017. We must stop the practice of flooding our prisons with marijuana offenders and disproportionally impacting communities of color now. Marijuana is not a threat to our public safety and our youth cannot wait any longer as a one minor mistake can stick with them for the rest of their life”

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU):

“I have no doubt that recreational marijuana will soon be legal in New York – as it should be. The criminalization of marijuana has resulted in racial and social injustice because of its disparate enforcement, and has denied its use as another tool in the war against opioid abuse. And we need to make sure that when it is legalized that workers in the industry are treated with dignity and respect, and have a union voice. The sooner marijuana is legalized the better.”

Immortal Technique:

“For the entirety of my musical career I have been a huge proponent of the decriminalization of marijuana. Since I was a young man I began to research and learn about hemp and cannabis, and especially about it’s connection to the prison industrial complex. It’s for this reason that I have continued to support the movement. The idea of transformative justice is not just to correct the laws that are on the books treating weed smokers like murderers, it’s also the need, the inescapable necessity, to deal with the convictions that have sent thousands to prison and burdened them with criminal records. I will continue to fight not only to decriminalize it, but also to battle for transformative justice because without it, all the recent change in marijuana laws become meaningless.”


The Event was founded by the Yippies (Youth International Party) in 1971. It has served as the flagship for the multi-decade mass movement for cannabis legalization and has taken place in various locations around the city over the years, including Washington Square Park, Battery Park and Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. The Event moved to Union Square Park in 2012. The mission of the Event is to promote marijuana legalization federally and specifically in the New York Metro area, end discriminatory arrest practices and the mass incarceration of citizens and improve the state’s overly restricted medical cannabis program. The NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally is the founding chapter of the Global Marijuana March, which takes place in hundreds of cities in the U.S. and around the world in May and June. For more information: