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Legendary seed breeder Subcool talks surviving the California wildfires and rising from the ashes

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Legendary seed breeder Subcool talks surviving the California wildfires and rising from the ashes

Legendary seed breeder Subcool talks surviving the California wildfires and rising from the ashes

On Octorber 15th, we talked to Subcool, the legendary seed breeder from Northern California and creator of the fabled Pinot Noir strain, about escaping the California wildfires, how the cannabis community will rise from the ashes, how he names his strains, and more. 

How have the California wildfires affected you?

The wildfires are still going on, literally in my town, and I’ve evacuated to an area where I can breathe better. I have a progressive, fatal disease called Alpha 1 (Antitrypsin Deficiency) where my lungs are compromised, and smoke is definitely not on the prescription.

Having said that, we had about 10 min to evacuate. MzJill went out on the deck and saw flames, she yelled and said we had to evacuate, but I didn’t take it seriously until I saw 300 ft flames.

california wildfire

A wall of fire.

Were you able to grab anything before you evacuated?

I should have grabbed so many things. I have a drive for my computer with every photo that I’ve ever taken of my wife that sits in my pocket- and I just didn’t fucking grab it. But I’d been making hash, essentially for the last few days because it was harvest year, and I grabbed two trays of that.

It’s a funny story, but it’s also stupid. I grabbed what was in front of me that was valuable, but in the end it wasn’t valuable at all.

My house burned down completely and so did the entire town. 40 people are dead where I live. And the fire rages on.

We lost a whole bunch of genetics in the house- millions of dollars worth of seeds and genetics.

But there’s a good part to this story- the cannabis community has rallied behind me. Every one of my fans, the Weednerds, have contacted me, and the genetics that I have distributed to close friends over the years have all been promised back to me.

Even the Pinot Noir, my most famous strain to come out of Northern California- I lost it but we have it secured!

california wildfires

All of Subcool’s possessions in a box.

So you’re rebuilding and growing the seeds?

We’re in the middle of rebuilding. After the fire damage has been assessed, I’ll be on my way to Arizona to set up a 7700 sq. ft. greenhouse to start breeding again called “The Dank”. It’s going to be grown and packaged specifically and when you open it, it’s going to be as good as anything I could have done in the best growing cycle

But here’s my favorite part of this whole thing. When I was cleaning out my truck the other night, which right now has pretty much everything I own, I found a package with 490 seeds in it that I was supposed to take to another location.

I’m not going to reveal what these seeds are because they’re very special, but they’re the only seeds that made it out of the fire, and I’m doing two things with these seeds- half of them are going towards creating a new strain called “The Phoenix”.

We auctioned off the other half of the seeds last night for $3500 to raise money for the fire victims. Also, with my friends the Crazy Dago and Growtube Roundtable, we raised $15,000 over two nights and the money goes directly to Patrick the Soil King who’s still out there on the ground.

You can go to Pat and say “I need a generator!” and he’ll go to Wal Mart and get you a generator. Even if your dog needs food, Pat will go get you some dog food!

Those seeds that we gave someone has been challenged to create a legacy. I created TGA Genetics with two packs of seeds. Certainly not over 200.

So are you moving to Arizona?

I’m not moving to Arizona, I’m heading to Arizona to start a business- I don’t know where I’m going to live. I can’t live where I live right now because it’s on fire.

I’m thinking about Santa Cruz, but my health limits me when it comes to weather and stuff but you can quote me on this – one of the reasons I’m thinking of Santa Cruz is because she didn’t burn the fuck up. I don’t want to live anywhere where you can burn – I have PTSD, my dog has PTSD – so yeah, no fire. Santa Cruz has a beach, and I don’t know if that’s my landing spot but today, it sounds good.

So whereabouts in Northern California were you?

The fire started in Sonoma County, and it burned Mendocino and Napa County- Napa County is still raging right now. The town I’m from is called Santa Rosa, and it’s destroyed. If you look me up on Instagram @theweednerd420 it will make you cry. 1800 homes in one neighborhood are leveled and gone- in one night!

I get upset talking about it and I wonder why you’d want to live there now and be constantly reminded of how everything burned down. Maybe in 10 years but not anytime soon.

california fires

Views of the fire right by Subcool’s house

How do you think the wildfires will impact California’s cannabis supply with legalization scheduled for January 2018?

The good news is that California this year is on track to produce the most cannabis in history. It still has not rained here, and we’ve had some of the best weather ever- and Humboldt County is not on fire. So thousands and thousands and thousands of tons of cannabis are going to be produced.

When you see where the fire hit, it’s terrifying and goes all over the state, but it didn’t get Humboldt.

One of the things that really hurts is even though we harvested most of our crops for hashish and extracts, the prettiest plants wouldn’t have been harvested yet, and as Patrick the Soil King said “What sucks about this is the clouds are full of smoke and they’re affecting the plants but we’re also expecting the best weather of all our years growing cannabis!”

It’s 85 F and 12% humidity!

So the people that weren’t affected are going to flood the market an enormous amount of flowers and the prices are still dropping. I went into the market at $1400/pound USD and it’s down to about $1000/pound and it will continue to plummet.

For the people who have heard about it in the news, how can they help the growers, breeders, and everyone else affected by the fires?

If they directly want to help, they can follow me on social media, and while I’m not there right now, I’m in the middle of it. I’m in contact with people there on a daily basis to get them food, money, and water.

We’ve got several GoFundMe accounts, and every time I stream my Weednerd Live Shows on Saturday nights or the Growtube Roundtable with Crazy Dago on Friday nights- we’re raising money.

We’re selling seeds, we’re selling posters and we’re ready to move. There’s not a lot to do other than that because the place is on fire.

There are people who don’t have food, people have lost everything.

Is the Emerald Cup still going on in December?

Yup, they moved it to a secure location. It’s more important than ever because now it’s not about the cup or the competition- it’s going to be about us coming together to heal.

We consider ourselves family, and we will come together to mourn and celebrate cannabis.

I wanted to ask you something that’s not so much related to the fires- how do you come up with the names of your strains?

Well every one of them is named different. Some of them are named funny and it worked out.

Here’s one example where I was working with the genetics and I was working with Apollo, while also creating a purple strain, and in between I wanted to know if the male I was breeding with would lend color to the strain.

So I picked a strain that was non-colored and I crossed her and grew it out. I wasn’t really taking it seriously, so I called it “The Void”, because it was the space between one project and another. It was a stupid name for cannabis and it wouldn’t sell for shit!

One of my favorite strain names is Chernobyl, and really how simple it was. I was thinking Trainwreck- what’s worse than a trainwreck? A nuclear meltdown. So hey! Chernobyl. It took 20 seconds and two bowls of hash and it was a great name.

Other strains get really stupid names like Qush. I mean, could I have been more creative? It’s Querkle times Bubba Kush= Qush. It’s a stupid name! But with 49 strains you got to make a name for everything.

Locomotion, one of the strains lost when Subcool's house burned down.

Locomotion, one of the strains lost when Subcool’s house burned down.

Why are male cannabis plants so overlooked and underrated by some growers?

Because people don’t understand them. Male cannabis plants don’t display visible characteristics of many traits. People have historically misrepresented the truth in marketing, or maybe they don’t know, but when you look in the big magazines and you see them talking about, “We took the most vigorous, strongest male”- well, that’s hemp.

I have learned to choose the males that would never make it- the ones you’d scrape off your shoe- because he’s the one that has the traits.

I will tell you as a breeder doing this for 35 years that I only have 5 males. It’s not easy to find males. It takes a long process, and generally what you do once you’ve found that male you want to sub-cross it with other strains and grow them out and that’s just more work than people want to do.

The typical cannabis breeder nowadays is someone who takes something jazzy and something else jazzy and makes an F1, puts a name on it, and sells it.

That’s not really what we’ve done throughout our careers. I’m not saying we don’t take one strain and cross it with another, because we do, but before that strain is released to the public, thousands of growers grow it and give us their input.

So all of these growers, do they act as quality control?

Absolutely. It’s the Weednerd network. You send a thousand seeds out and you’ve got hydrogrowers, organic growers, and growers from all across the board.

What I’m looking for is a pattern. Do they love it? If you’ve got 10 quality growers and 10 crappy growers, but they all love the strain, you can count it as a field test. But then the last thing we do is grow it ourselves, if we haven’t all ready.

That’s kind of the process, and we had over a hundred strains ready for testing when the house went down, and we lost all of them.

We were making some medicinal plants with high CBD, CBN, and high CBG, where the THC was not overly potent, coming in at 14-19%,. A lot of the stuff in America comes in at THC content of 25-26%, which is not really medicinal because if you give it to grandma she’ll start freaking out.

Did you have any last thoughts or anything exciting planned for the future that you’d like to tell us about?

I’ve reached a point where I can make a phone call and have a plant grow- I don’t have to do it myself so for the first time, I’m free. I’m sitting here with a buddy, Crazy Dago, and we’re going to a hydroshop, and I have to tell you, being Subcool is one of the best goddamn things in the world when you’re in the cannabis community.

I got a “Fuck” hat on and a pot shirt and I usually have a pipe in my hand. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a “free bird” moment for me because before, I was in my house, and me and Jill are separating- we finally signed the divorce papers the day our fucking house burned down!

But Jill’s a part of the company and she’s an awesome human being but me and her are like many couples of over 15 years- we can’t agree on the fucking heat! So she went her way, and I went mine, and we’re apart.

So I literally have no home in a place I’ve never been before, and it’s not that depressing- it’s exciting! I don’t know where I’m going to sleep tonight but I’ll figure it out.

It’s kinda like Jack Kerouac- I’m on the road again baby!

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Published at Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:03:03 +0000

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Expert Joints LIVE!: Straight Goods

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Expert Joints LIVE!: Straight Goods

Expert Joints LIVE!: Straight Goods

Join Craig Ex aka ‘The Expert of EXPERT JOINTS’ Thursday at 4:20 PM PT for another episode of his weekly weed webcast!

This week Craig is joined at Studio 710 by Amanda Siebert – Cannabis Editor at The Georgia Straight. He’ll also welcome back Chris of Black Octopus Glass, as they auction a heady piece to raise funds for Tim McBride’s “Everglades City Irma Relief Fund“. All that, plus Jamie Shaw, ‘The Weed Nerd” Subcool, products from the Victoria dispensary Buds & Leaves… and much more!

Original air date – October 19, 2017


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Published at Tue, 17 Oct 2017 19:09:19 +0000

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Weedguide raises $1.7M and launches its AI-powered search platform

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Weedguide raises $1.7M and launches its AI-powered search platform

Weedguide raises $1.7M and launches its AI-powered search platform

Weedguide, as the name implies, wants to be your go-to for everything cannabis-related, having released its search platform on Oct. 10, 2017, after securing $1.7M in seed funding

Weedguide’s CEO Claudio Cañive recognized the need for a dedicated weed search engine when Googling “weed” gets you 922 million results. He knew there had to be a better way to help medical and recreational users find the information they need. That’s when Weedguide was born.

The California-based company utilizes AI, machine learning, natural language processing, and cannabis experts to make sure you see only the most relevant results to your search queries. According to the company, what makes it different from other platforms is its proprietary crawler and classification system. But with a catchy slogan like “Take the strain out of your search…” you already know what Weedguide is about.

In addition to helping you answer all your cannabis-related searches and questions, Weedguide is a wealth of information on everything from Top Strains, How-to’s, dispensaries, and trending industry news, putting millions of articles and hundreds of thousands of strains and products at your fingertips. To make organizing and sorting your results even easier, Weedguide allows you to filter by result type, category, and state.

The mobile app is available on iOS and Android.


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Published at Thu, 12 Oct 2017 19:23:37 +0000

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California cannabis growers reeling from “most financially trying, stressful year ever”

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California cannabis growers reeling from “most financially trying, stressful year ever”

California cannabis growers reeling from “most financially trying, stressful year ever”

“This time of year, everyone’s harvesting. And now, the annual paycheck that we’ve been working all year to earn may have been burnt to a crisp or will soon dry out due to lack of water.”

The stresses felt by cannabis farmer Ahren Osterbrink, a Redwood Valley resident evacuated since the onset of the Mendocino Lake Complex fire, are feelings mirrored by countless farmers.

This season has already been like no other for farmers like Osterbrink, who is endeavoring to become compliant with state and local regulations. Farmers have spent tens of thousands of dollars — in some cases even more — to legalize their properties and their businesses, all the while knowing that the per-pound price for the 2017 harvest may well go into free-fall. The fire has only compounded his concerns.

“I’m about as legal as you can be these days,” Osterbrink smiles.

He is a member of Mendocino Generations, an organization consisting of more than three dozen small farmers who grow outdoor, organic cannabis. The founders — Chiah Rodriques and her husband, Jamie Beatty — are Redwood Valley natives who are currently providing support for numerous farmers affected by the conflagration that swept through some of the world’s most fertile cannabis growing areas.

Related: Many farmers are ineligible for federal assistance, insurance and loans

The fire came at the peak of harvest season, with plants in many stages of production. Late-stage sativa strains, like many in Osterbrink’s garden, are mostly still in the ground, while other early flowering varieties have already been harvested and are drying and curing — a process that can take weeks.

“We have been working hard to harvest as quickly as we can and secure what we can,” says Rodriques, operations director for Mendocino Generations. The organization’s member-farmers currently hold more than a quarter of the county-issued cannabis growing permits, representing people Rodriques describes as the best of the cannabis community.

“This has been the most financially trying and stressful year ever for farmers. To add a fire with complete losses on top of it leaves me without words,” says Rodriques, whose home and farm lies near the western border of the fire. “I can’t describe the immense, tragic loss our friends and farmers are experiencing.”

At least one farmer has lost their home, dozens are evacuated and she has yet to hear from all the organization’s partners.

“Fortunately our community is strong, tightly bonded and very generous to one another. The outpouring of help and support so far has been amazing,” Rodriques said.

For the past 72 hours, Osterbrink has been tethered to his phone, dealing with extremely spotty service and trying his best to remain positive, all the while knowing his annual crop may be decimated by the time he is able to return to his garden.

“Redwood Valley is such a tight-knit community. To have this devastation is terrible,” he said.

The Tomki Road area where Osterbrink and his family live has been devastated by the fire. Though he has been informed his house was spared, his livelihood — his cannabis crop — may not have been.

“We got awakened by a friend at about 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning. We packed what we could. I could see the fire was far enough away to get my family into a truck and send them out safely,” Osterbrink said.

He drove to the top of Tomki Road. “I could see Redwood Valley from Cave Creek. I could see the fires. It was absolutely horrible. It looked like everything from Potter to 101 was on fire.

“I had a point of view where I could see the Frey Ranch. I tried to call a friend who lives there, but I didn’t reach him.”

The flames were close enough that Osterbrink knew he had to leave, bur far enough away that he had time to think.

He made a strategic decision — one that was repeated over and over again by dozens if not hundreds of farmers through the wee hours of Monday night.

“I grabbed some bud. I was worried, and I felt like this was all I could do — grab product and hope to save it. I thought it seemed crazy to worry I would be arrested. I’m in the legal program, and I decided that police had much better things to do than pick on a guy with some cannabis in his truck.

“Tomki was already closed, so I headed north to Willits where I met my girlfriend at the Safeway parking lot. I was relieved to find that my friend I had been concerned about was there already,” he continued.

Authorities’ focus is on saving lives

As in any disaster, there have been reports that some residents were refusing to evacuate their property. It isn’t much of a leap to imagine that some were staying behind to guard their crop.

The historically clandestine nature of the cannabis industry has and will continue to pose unique problems for first responders. Some, who spoke on condition of anonymity, hoped that members of the cannabis community understand that saving lives is their primary goal.

“We don’t care what people do for a living. We don’t care if they grow cannabis. Our first job is to save you, and our second job is to make sure the people saving you can do it safely,” said one.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to is far more concerned about their friends, their family and their property. Gardens are secondary to that. In this day and age, law enforcement and the bad guys know who we are and what we do. Anyone who would value their garden over their lives is insane,” Osterbrink said.

Osterbrink’s property is safe for now, but his neighbors weren’t so lucky. “My neighbor’s house, which is 300 feet from the house I built, is gone. My next neighbor, 500 feet to the north? Gone. Five hundred feet to the west? All my friend’s homes are gone.”

With regard to his garden, Osterbrink has a good news/bad news situation. “The good news about our garden is that it’s still here. But now there’s been no water to the property for two days. Even with this act of mercy, we can’t get to our property to water.”

Osterbrink was robbed last spring, losing his entire net income. “We scraped by all year, looking forward to this harvest. We’ve been almost down to spending pocket change, and now this.”

New expenses add to worries

A few looters have been spotted with one arrest made, and Osterbrink himself reported a suspicious person to the Sheriff. “People called law enforcement in. We’re not afraid to call them anymore, and hopefully they’ll respect that and not use this against us.

“I personally know so many people who have lost everything. It’s enough to lose your house. If you’re lucky, maybe all you’ll be worrying about is people stealing your crop. If you survive that, then you’ll be worrying if you should sneak in to try and water your plants. If you don’t water, you’re risking losing everything. If you do, you risk being arrested yourself as a looter.”

He is understandably concerned about how his community rebounds from this crisis.

“With legalization, with trying to pay the associated fees, with the market bottoming out, it’s a lot to sort out. I just received my first quarterly tax bill. It’s $5,000, and I don’t know if I have a crop to pay for it.”

Osterbrink hopes the fire lines will hold.

“Things look OK but there are fires up there right now. Some neighbors have snuck in and are trying to put them out. I am really grateful for Cal Fire doing what they do, but I feel it’s been really challenging trying to get accurate information on the fire.”

Many rural residents we spoke to either did not receive the reverse 911 calls on Monday morning, had their cell phones turned off, live with limited or no connectivity or experienced almost immediate disruptions to cell service.

“If we didn’t have people honking their horns like crazy, who knows if some of our neighbors would have gotten out,” Osterbrink said. “Everyone I know got warned of the fire by a neighbor, and thank God we live in a community like this.”

Osterbrink hopes he can return to business as usual soon. He has buds drying on racks. Plants needing to be tended and harvested. Finished product ready to go to market.

“If I can’t go home, how do I get the buds properly dried? Who knows if there will be power? Life doesn’t stop. We don’t get to hit ‘pause’ during the drying and curing of our flowers.”

He also hopes that maybe dispensaries will create fundraisers to support farmers who were burned out or only able to salvage a portion of their crop. He is very concerned the fire may have dealt a death-blow to some of the most responsible farmers in the county — those who believed in and supported a regulated business model.

“Will people stick around and rebuild, or will they sell cheap to some corporate entity or a rich hipster kid who thinks he knows how to grow cannabis? We have such a good community here. I truly hope that doesn’t ever change.”



If you would like to help out the California growers affected by the fires, you can visit a crowdfunding site set up by the California Growers’ Association
.

This story was first published on TheCannifornian.com

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Published at Thu, 12 Oct 2017 20:53:39 +0000

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Colorado's 2017 marijuana sales reach $1 billion in just eight months

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Colorado's 2017 marijuana sales reach $1 billion in just eight months

Colorado's 2017 marijuana sales reach $1 billion in just eight months

Legal marijuana is a bona fide billion-dollar industry in Colorado. And it’s hitting the mark faster than ever.

In 2017, Colorado eclipsed $1 billion in marijuana sales in eight months; in 2016, it took 10 months.

Colorado’s marijuana retailers logged upward of $1.02 billion in collective medical and recreational sales through August, according to The Cannabist’s extrapolations of state tax data released Wednesday. Year-to-date sales are up 21 percent from the first eight months of 2016, when recreational and medical marijuana sales totaled $846.5 million.

This year’s cumulative sales equate to more than $162 million in taxes and fees for Colorado coffers.

During the month of August, sales of flower, edibles, concentrates and accessories were nearly $137 million — $100.3 million from recreational cannabis sales and $36.5 million from medical marijuana — according to The Cannabist’s calculations.

The Colorado Department of Revenue’s latest report lists marijuana taxes, licenses and fees remitted in September. The receipts largely reflect sales made in August but have the potential to vary because of incomplete or late returns from prior months.

The monthly tax data now comes with some additional stipulations. It’s the second full month in which marijuana sales have been subject to a different taxing structure, and the reports reflect a “period of transition,” DOR officials say.

The special sales tax rate for recreational marijuana increased to 15 percent from 10 percent in July, as the result of a new law that also exempted recreational marijuana products from the 2.9 percent standard state sales tax. Medical marijuana and accessories are still subject to that 2.9 percent sales tax rate.

The Cannabist’s calculations for July and August 2017 recreational sales are based on revenue reported for the new 15 percent sales tax.

Economists and state officials have projected that the annual growth rates for Colorado’s cannabis sales will eventually moderate as the local market matures and other states adopt recreational cannabis measures.

Here’s a look at Colorado’s previous cumulative yearly sales totals:
2014: $699,198,805
2015: $996,184,788
2016: $1,313,156,545



Sales stats for Colorado weed
A month-by-month look comparing sales of recreational and medical marijuana, as calculated by The Cannabist:
2017 Recreational total (8 months)
$733,057,112
2017 Medical total (8 months)
$291,978,141
2017: $1,025,035,253
2016 Recreational total (12 months)
$875,277,360
2016 Medical total (12 months)
$437,879,186
2016: $1,313,156,545


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Published at Wed, 11 Oct 2017 23:54:57 +0000

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