All right! It’s time for another edition of the Underground Review. As cannabis legalization rounds the home stretch and the pace quickens, some show signs of fatigue while others have gas in the tank – full throttle to the finish. A learning process for all, stepping into the light with the emerging industry comes with a new set of challenges. Faced with these challenges many are becoming well rounded and professional – educating themselves in order to compete in the modern business world. Learning social media, smart phones, web hosting, business law, marketing, and signing our life over to Google. Yet, these are the necessities of the current economic climate. We are all wondering how underground cannabis farmer’s can emerge from exile and find a new niche? Thankfully, some have lightened the burden. Organizations like the California Growers Association (CGA) and events like the Ganjier Spring Kickoff have become a beacon for those willing to learn and adapt.
The 2nd annual Ganjier Spring Kickoff at the Mateel Community Center in Redway was the best event HU has attended thus far in the march toward legal weed. Informative and professional, those in attendance were there to learn and network, saving the dabs for the after party. This event abandoned the typical circus tent 215 area in favor of an open spread of vendors de jour. Soil producers next to hash artisans with specialty products in between – everyone got a lesson, learned something in between cerebral tokes instead of getting couch-locked in the 215 tent. On the main stage wasn’t your classic reggae chuck, it was a series of speakers bristling with conviction, educating their peers every hour on the hour. Even more prevalent then the burning aroma of our favorite strains was a tangible sense of community and pride – those in attendance were focused on making the transition from war-on-drug pariah to business professional. Thank you Ganjier for leading the way and educating us all!
In addition to the Ganjier, the group formerly known as the Emerald Growers Association, California Growers Association (and rightfully so) held a meeting of the minds at Humbrews in Arcata, California. They talked shop and discussed what was on the horizon. This group is dedicated to educating growers, providing resources, and giving cannabis-farming communities a voice in Sacramento. They are beginning to organize for the election in November and helping members obtain MMRSA licenses. This group is truly on-point and truly grass roots. Locally born, they now represent cannabis-farming communities across the state. Keep it up CGA!
This months Underground Review will exhibit some of the highlights of these two events. The following will act as an overview because it is impossible to include all that was discussed. For more information you will have to connect to these groups yourself.
- At Humbrews Thomas Edrington kicked off the CGA meeting focusing on future mobilization by the group. Stating that the industry is just beginning to figure out how to mobilize resources and create action networks. He distributed a preliminary survey in an attempt to get an idea of the needs and values of those he represents. He also expressed the need to learn from other movements. He acknowledged that most growers haven’t learned how to use social media and modern forms of organizing like NationBuilder. He pinpointed a necessity to train members of CGA and brainstormed funding idea’s. It was refreshing to see him frame California’s cannabis farming communities push for a place in legal markets as a movement. After years of criminalizing advocates, its time to look at groups like CGA as activists – especially once they refine skills such as coalition building, group action, and messaging.
- Nathan Whittington followed Thomas commenting on the current state of affairs of CGA. Noting that CGA has a full professional staff in Sacramento devoted to disseminating pertinent information to farmers while providing those same farmers with a voice. He elaborated by saying this partnership between CGA and the state is bolstered by a network of legal professionals and consultants – all with the goal of “promoting and protecting independent (cannabis) farms and business’s.” He noted CGA’s successes such as the plants’ new Ag distinction, appellation controls, and the protection for small farmers. Yet, “the devil is in the details” as he put it, confiding frustration with garnenring support for “farm to table” micro/craft cannabis sales and researching the plant at UC’s and CSU’s. He concluded by mapping a series of pertinent bills that seek to refine current MMRSA regulation. And in finishing he stated, “the goal of CGA is to help farmers and business owners navigate the (legalization) waters, (helping to) create a successful business platform.” Look for more on CGA in the future – they are truly revolutionary leaders in the cannabis movement, bringing California’s cannabis conversation back to the Emerald Triangle.
- At the Ganjier Spring Kickoff, during a speaker series on establishing appellations, Frenchy Cannoli gave an eloquent description of terroir driven agriculture. Basing his knowledge from the French wine industry, Mr. Cannoli expressed the importance of establishing quality cannabis. He pleaded that farmers forgo quantity for quality because there would be no other choice in future legal markets – where large producers will inevitably win the quantity game. For Frenchy, the basis of terroir is heirloom varieties of cannabis produced over decades of selective breeding in a particular region. From these varieties a standard of quality can be produced whereby the plant possess the uniqueness of the land, recognizable and reproducible year after year. Santa Cruz, Shasta, and the Emerald Triangle, all will have unique heirloom strains and unique standards by which to judge flowers and hash. This is what the future of outdoor cannabis in California will look like. Thank you Frenchy for your expertise, knowledge and eloquence.
- Last but not least, David Branfman of Branfman Law Group gave an insightful talk on Trademarks, Copyrights, Patents, and Trade Secrets in regards to cannabis and cannabis products. Basically if you have an idea, how can you protect your intellectual property? Well according to Mr. Branfman, you must first determine which of the four forms of intellectual property it falls under. Patents are “functional features or processes, a design feature, or, as in plants, asexual reproduction” – examples include a socket wrench, Priceline reverse auction, etc. Trademarks are “words, names, symbols, and or feature that distinguish a product” – i.e. Apple, Kodak, etc. Trade Secrets are “information or processes that provide competitive advantage by being secret and are treated as secrets” – examples include the Coca-Cola recipe and KFC’s secret spices and herbs. And Copyrights are “original works of authorship, e.g. literary works, musical works,” etc. Once you determine which type of intellectual capital your idea falls under, than you can visit his law firm for legal protection. But don’t try gaining legal protection for cannabis flower or hash because the feds will not grant Trademarks for cannabis. However, one-way around this is to Trademark packaging via a separate entity and combine the product with the packaging thereafter. Again, its confusing, checkout Mr. Branfman for more information.