Oaksterdam University: The Future of the Cannabis Industry

oaksterdamSLIDEOn August 15th through 17th, the RI Convention Center will be home to a rare three-day seminar presented by Oaksterdam University and hosted by the legendary Todd McCormick. During this program, Grow Medicine, Todd will discuss his personal history in the industry, commercial cultivation and the future of the cannabis industry. This event promises to be both informative and entertaining. Visit the Oaksterdam University website: oaksterdamuniversity.com or Todd’s site at hemp.xxx for event specifics and registration information.

To truly comprehend the significance of this event, however, one must first understand the two major players bringing this presentation to the East Coast. Oaksterdam University is the first university of its kind formed in the US. Founded in 2007 by Richard Lee, OU was modeled after Cannabis College in Amsterdam, where the primary focus of the curriculum was horticulture. Unlike Cannabis College, Richard recognized the potential for a booming industry that expanded beyond growing cannabis. When Oaksterdam was founded, Richard introduced courses in cannabis trade, politics, history and legal issues to offer students a broader scale of knowledge and a better chance to succeed in what could be the next big industry in our country.

Since 2007, Oaksterdam University has provided quality training about cannabis and marijuana policy reform for over 17,000 students at several US campuses. “The institution offers the chance to learn about this controversial plant, and creates an interesting blend of individuals and opportunity,” said Dale Sky Jones, Executive Chancellor. “OU welcomes diverse students who are looking to change careers; some simply want to brush up on their horticulture skills. OU also attracts business owners who want to train their staff, folks who want to open their own business, and patients simply trying to understand the law and their rights. More and more baby boomers are discovering they would rather smoke pot than reach for pharmaceuticals.”

Seven years later, OU has become the pioneer in addressing the growing needs of the marijuana movement — from patients to regulators — and has compiled an impressive academic staff, that includes some of the most recognized names in the cannabis industry. Their goal is to remove the stigma associated with the cannabis industry and provide the necessary knowledge and training to make it a respected and acceptable career path.

The second major player to participate in this event is presenter Todd McCormick. Todd started growing marijuana in 1984 to combat the side effects of cancer treatments. Between the ages of 2 and 10, Todd underwent long-term chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, and had nine major operations in his fight against a rare disease called Histiocytosis X. When his mother feared that he would not survive a new tumor in the soft tissue next to his heart, she decided to give him some marijuana medicinally. Todd was 9 years old at the time, and his mother’s decision saved and changed his life.

Since 1994, Todd has been an activist, publicist and researcher of cannabis. He collaborated with Jack Herer on the ground-breaking book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes. In the mid-90s he lived in Amsterdam, where he became one of the first 10 patients in The Netherlands to receive a prescription for medicinal marijuana. Best-selling author Peter McWilliams brought McCormick back to California in 1997 in order to write his first book: How to Grow Medical Marijuana. That summer, the DEA raided Todd’s Bel Air home and destroyed all the legal plants on the premises; years of work and rare genetics were lost forever. After a three-year-long legal battle, Todd was denied a medical necessity defense in federal court and imprisoned for five years. His only crime was growing and studying the medicine that saved his life.

There is no blueprint for what these pioneers of the cannabis industry are trying to accomplish in our country. Every day is a new learning experience where we must conquer new hurdles. We must master the art of not only growing and cultivating the marijuana plant, but also the art of regulating and refining the distribution and sale of these products. The best way to approach this industry is to set up for success but prepare for the worst. With people like Todd McCormick and organizations like Oaksterdam University, opportunities to do so are becoming more plentiful.

2014 Election: In their own Words: Why Isn’t cannabis legal yet?

RI Governor

Todd Giroux (D): I am in favor of legalization of cannabis for adult use. The “let’s wait and see” attitude is going to result in watching other states create the revenue while RI falls further behind. The momentum is very strong. I believe it will pass within the next two years

Gina Raimondo (D): It is legal here in Rhode Island for certain medical purposes, and there is a growing support nationwide for legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. We here in Rhode Island have a unique opportunity to follow and study states like Colorado and Washington as they begin to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

Clay Pell (D): I believe Rhode Island took the right step in decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. I have also supported medical marijuana and support efforts to fully implement this law. Colorado and Washington have recently taken a step further, and we should carefully watch and learn from their experience as we evaluate any such change in Rhode Island.

That said, when it comes to questions of drug policy, I also believe it is urgent to address the heroin overdose epidemic gripping our state, and New England as a region. Vermont Governor Shumlin dedicated his entire 2014 State of the State address to this topic, and rightfully so. The number of overdose deaths in Rhode Island is equivalent to that of an annual passenger jet crash at Green Airport. We would never allow that to happen in our state, and we must not allow the staggering number of heroin-related deaths to continue here.

As Governor, I will work with the substance abuse policy community, law enforcement, and other partners to both support drug awareness and treatment programs and combat drug addiction and fatalities.

Providence Mayor

Daniel Harrop (R): I have no idea. The stupid laws against it should have been repealed years ago. I can safely say I am the only candidate to have actually written permissions for patients to get a MJ card, but it would be so much easier to just get rid of the outdated laws and end the “War on Drugs,” which we have been losing for years.

Buddy Cianci (I): Cannabis definitely has become more accessible and decriminalized, but there are still influential groups that wield considerable power in the statehouse who believe it is a gateway drug.

Michael Solomon (D): I consider this a state issue, but I will certainly watch how things play out in Colorado over the next several years.

Jorge Elorza (D): There is now widespread agreement on decriminalization: What responsible adults want to do in their own homes isn’t a public matter, and furthermore, we can’t keep locking up so many of our youth and young adults for minor infractions. That’s real progress. But I don’t think it has been completely legalized yet because so many of us have read conflicting studies on its ramifications. Some studies say that legalization won’t increase drug use among teens, other say it will. There’s been no conclusive proof, so I think it’s wise that we’re taking a wait and see approach.

Brett Smiley (D): I think we’re making progress. I’m the only Democratic mayoral candidate [as of this writing] that’s supportive of taxation and legalization of marijuana for adults. Colorado and Washington will help pave the way to make it easier for us. We’re changing votes at the statehouse one vote at a time, but I think we’re making progress.

Providence Prohibition Party Brings Entertainment and Raises Awareness

prohibitionProvidence’s first ever official hemp festival was held on July 12 at Simon’s 667, hosted by Mike Liberty and Dave Death. Called the Providence Prohibition Party, the event drew a fun-loving and diverse crowd throughout its course, which spanned from early afternoon to the wee hours of the morning, transitioning from local indie and rock bands at the outdoor stage to an indoor EDM party. As well as music, there were beer tastings, artists and vendors selling posters and glass pipes.

While all in good fun, there was also a political undercurrent to the event – 10% of the proceeds from the day went to Regulate RI, an organization founded on the premise that marijuana prohibition has led to class and sex discrimination and does far more harm than good for the people of this state. They look forward to introducing a change to the legislation in 2015, but claim that legalizing and regulating marijuana is only the tip of the iceberg.

During one of the speeches given in between musical acts, Anne Armstrong, who is running for governor of Rhode Island, stated that pot “cures every illness” and that there is no reason why people should not have free and easy access to it. Although perhaps hyperbolic, her message was agreed with by the majority of people in attendance. Phrases such as “hemp is a beautiful product” and “what harm does it cause?!” were popular statements from party-goers. For those who support the cause, there were petitions and all the information on hemp and marijuana laws you could need available.

The first Providence Prohibition Party was a great success, and hopefully 2015 will bring some movement in the cause!

A History of Revolution Leads to the Providence Prohibition Party

Progressive Change with Providence Prohibition Party

hempfestIn 1972, one of the first documented hemp festivals in the US took place in Ann Arbor, Mich. It was a response to new Michigan legislation that reduced the penalty for marijuana possession from 10 years to 1 year and the penalty for marijuana sale from a life sentence to a 4-year sentence. Though these changes seemed a great victory to those against marijuana prohibition, some felt that they didn’t do enough. And so was born the Hash Bash. Shortly thereafter, Michigan made even greater strides toward reform, practically decriminalizing marijuana use by replacing prison sentences for possession with a $5 fine (now $25).

Hundreds of other cannabis-related events take place each year. In 1989, the Boston Freedom Rally began and has become one of the largest hemp festivals in the world. In 1991 the first Seattle Hemp Fest took place and has become the world’s largest public gathering to advocate for marijuana decriminalization. Even under the scrutiny of federal law, these events continue to sprout up and grow each year, defiant of the unjust laws that bind them. In states such as Colorado and Washington, rallies have led to massive changes in laws and regulations. Decriminalization and medical marijuana laws now are recognized in over 23 states with many others, including Rhode Island, seeking full legalization and regulation.

In Rhode Island, a bill to regulate and tax marijuana was completely discarded by the house judiciary committee this year. In response to the legislature’s refusal to acknowledge a shift in public opinion, Rhode Islanders will make their own statement. 13 Folds Magazine is hosting Providence’s first hemp festival, dubbed the Providence Prohibition Party and sponsored by Motif, MBS, Green Side Up, Regulate RI and a variety of  other organizations that want to end RI’s failed war on drugs. This event will feature local celebrities, political activists, vendors and performers as well as some of the very best local and national bands, including Boo City and Atlantic Thrills. There will be an indoor dance party running all night for those who like to travel with glow sticks, and a beer tasting sponsored by New England breweries, such as Fool Proof and Bucket Brewery, will take place between 4 and 7pm.

Though it may not carry the same recognition as other festivals, this event is just as relevant. It represents a challenge to unjust laws and a desire for progressive change. Decriminalization and medical acceptance are a step forward in the fight to end prohibition, yet they are not enough. Too many families, communities and futures have been destroyed by the authority’s actions toward a substance less harmful than tobacco, alcohol or even sugar. Too many tax dollars have been spent and too many lives have been lost in an attempt to eradicate a substance that was once considered this country’s number one cash crop. Too many lies and misconceptions have been perpetrated for us to accept anything less than a complete overhaul in our marijuana laws and reparation toward those unjustly prosecuted. In order to fully right the wrongs that this war against marijuana has caused, we must follow the lead of those who pioneered the historical Hash Bash and push for full legalization and regulation … and nothing less.

Please join the Providence Prohibition Party on Saturday, July 12, at Simon’s on 677 Valley St., Providence, to support the movement. Ten percent of all proceeds will go to Regulate RI to help fund the mission to reeducate society on the truths behind the war on drugs, its effects on our community and its negative impact on cultural and industrial progress. This event will also provide local artists and musicians the opportunity to gain exposure and support themselves. The Providence Prohibition Party will allow our community to come together in support of one another and demonstrate our commitment to bringing about change to archaic regulations.

To learn more, visit 13 Folds Magazine‘s events page on Facebook: facebook.com/13FoldsMagazine/events

Phenomenons in Politics — Tri-Partisan Support in RI? The Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act

Bill: H-7506 “Held For Further Study”


On May 16, a RI House Judiciary Committee recommended that the Marijuana Regulation, Control & Taxation Act (Bill: H-7506) be “held for further study” along with six other marijuana-related bills. What this means is that they will wait for those who proposed the bill to come back with more convincing research that would warrant an actual vote. What this really means is that the committee most likely will not vote on the bill during this session and it will be pushed aside, never to be spoken of again. Many people involved with the movement to end prohibition in our fine state consider this recommendation to be a defeat of the new bill. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

There is tri-partisan support for H-7506, which is a phenomenon in itself, and this is the second year in a row that such legislation has been presented to the house. Over 53 percent of Rhode Islanders support legalization. Bob Plain, Editor/Publisher of Rhode Island’s Future, writes, “Legalizing marijuana could mean $82 million in annual revenue for RI.” The statistics from Colorado and Washington have all been encouraging in matters concerning revenue, crime and adolescent use. The same can be said for those states with decriminalization and medical marijuana laws. What more convincing research could this committee need?

You have to ask what the true motivation behind such a decision could be. With any politician, it is essentially votes, is it not? Morals and values definitely play a huge part in any politically held position, but in order to get to that position — and stay there — you ultimately need to win the popularity contest. This means listening to the constituents in your district and representing their popular views. Therefore, one can assume that those who are opposed to legalization are being more vocal about their views in all of the right places.

To counteract this type of influence, be more vocal about your personal views and make them known, not only to your local politicians but to the people in your community. Those who oppose an end to prohibition are often just misinformed or influenced by the stigma associated with marijuana use. Present those who are unaware of the facts with sources and research that prove an end to prohibition is a move toward progress. Become active in local politics, contribute to your community and present yourself in a responsible manner. Lead by example and others will follow, especially when the example is just.

Here are a few great resources for anyone interested in the legalization movement:

Contact Regulate RI and join the coalition to end prohibition in RI. regulateri.com
The Marijuana Policy Project (mpp.org) is a invaluable resource to the movement. They have a vast database of reports, studies, bills and other cannabis-related news and information.
The Drug Policy Alliance has an impressive blog, as well as a plethora of facts concerning individual rights, drug war statistics and more. drugpolicyalliance.org
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an organization that has front line experience in the war on drugs and seeks to stop it. leap.cc

Cannabis and Religion — Touching the Veil

canirelBy a quirk of time, Easter, the most sacred day on the Christian calendar coincided with 4/20, the most celebrated day in the cannabis community. This convergence has me pondering marijuana’s link to spirituality, and I discovered that there are cultures other than Rastafari that use cannabis as a catalyst for their spiritual journeys, like Indian, Hindu, African, Chinese and many other cultures throughout history. The almost universal ties between cannabis and religion led me to an inescapable question: Why is marijuana not legal for religious purposes in the United States? At first glance, the answer seems simple, but the issue becomes complicated the deeper you delve into it.

Let’s start with alcohol, a cornerstone in the sacraments of Hebrew, Christian and Greek communities, to name but a few. In these widely accepted practices, alcohol consumption has long been incorporated into ceremonial rites. Some sects even encourage minors to take part in these rites. And these aren’t minor religious ceremonies that are rarely practiced in “modern” society either. Communion, Shabbat, Seder and Purim are only the headliners on a list of rituals that incorporate the consumption of wine by all believers.

Let’s take it a step further and analyze one example of special dispensation given to a Schedule I drug on religious grounds. While the establishment has traditionally viewed peyote as just another means to get high, it’s well documented that Native Americans utilized the powerful hallucinogen to induce a spiritual state in their ceremonies and celebrations. For thousand of years the plant was seen as a sacrament and used to bridge the living and spiritual worlds. Sadly, this was ignored when Native Americans lost legal access to peyote with the Drug Abuse Control Amendments of 1965. Naturally, this sparked a legal battle between the people and all three branches of government, questioning the balance between the Constitution and natural rights as they applied to religious freedom.

The first attempt at a resolution was the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. This law openly recognized the “inherent right of freedom to believe, express and exercise their traditional religions” including the “freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rites” through peyote use. However, the issue was brought up again in 1991 when the U.S. Supreme Court denied constitutional protection for the sacramental use of peyote; a ruling that was widely criticized as a major blow to religious freedom. The matter was seemingly resolved in 1994 when Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law an amendment to the 1978 Act exempting the religious use of peyote from federal and state controlled substance laws and specifically prohibiting discrimination against its use for religious purposes.

Armed with this precedent, I returned to the Rastafari movement, as it best exemplifies marijuana’s role in a Judeo/Christian religion widely practiced today, including in America. Judeo/Christian you ask? Yup, the justification of “ganga” use in Rastafari culture stems directly from holy scripture, where it states:

“And the earth brought forth grass, and the herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw it was good.”

Genesis 1:12

There are many such passages in the Bible that any true believer of the Rastafari religion will gladly cite as defense of their beliefs. Not only that, but most Rastafari elders can quote the history of the herb from antiquity to the present. And contrary to popular belief, their reverence for “the holy herb” does not equate to a religion that endorses a lifestyle of lazy, forgetful potheads. Quite the contrary, as with any religious sacrament, traditional Rastafari culture promotes moderate marijuana use only, believing that any substance can have a negative effect on the body and mind if used in excess.

Perhaps this is why studies such as the one done by the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse in 1972, an in-depth research project on the effects of marijuana on the people of Jamaica, have all concluded that “no significant physical or mental abnormalities can be attributed to marijuana use” among the Rastafari people.

Yet even for religious practices, cannabis is still illegal in the United States. So what really differentiates it from alcohol or peyote when used in the name of religion? The only conclusion I can come to is that other than deeply ingrained racial or cultural prejudice, this is just another unjustifiable wrong associated with the broader prohibition of marijuana spurred on by an association with anti-establishment movements and movements that are radical in thought. This is a common misconception of the Rastafari people, those of Indian descent and even the hippie counterculture of the ’60s (though this was not a religious movement, as much as it was a spiritual awakening for the youth of America).

Does all of this mean that I’m going to convert to the Rastafarianism if marijuana use is made legal for religious purposes? No, but many others might. What’s more, I think anyone who appreciates marijuana does so in part because we recognize and enjoy the spiritual sensitivity it offers. Whether as part of a formal religion or independently, all individuals have a right to explore that spiritual enlightenment as we see fit and I’m happy to fight for our right to do so.

The Bitter Disconnect

cannabisShould the Federal Government prohibit Cannabis?

Though the Obama administration has been the first to open a dialog exploring marijuana prohibition’s end, the government’s message is convoluted and inconsistent with public opinion. While Attorney General Eric Holder discusses a shift in U.S. Marijuana Policy that respects state marijuana laws, the Republican-controlled House looks to pass legislation that will punish the president for not faithfully executing the federally mandated Controlled Substance Act. This new legislation will allow Congress to effectively sue the president for not acting against states that ignore 75 years of anti-marijuana propaganda and legalize, even though numerous surveys, studies and Gallup Polls show that over 55% of U.S. citizens support marijuana legalization.

In response to President Obama’s “hands off” approach and reassuring words expressing his desire to see the legalization experiment succeed in both Washington and Colorado, Michelle Leonhart (head of the DEA) has been throwing a tantrum, the likes of which none have seen since Yosemite Sam was ousted by Bugs Bunny in the old west. She has openly criticized Obama for associating with pro-legalization groups and announced her disdain at the thought of a hemp flag flying over the U.S. Capitol. She has even overruled DEA administrative recommendations for marijuana research, which would allow better insight into both medicinal and industrial potentials of the cannabis plant.

Throughout marijuana prohibition, there has been an irrational unwillingness to explore cannabis plant uses. Even though this plant was the first cash crop in America and we import hundreds of millions of dollars in hemp products each year, the U.S. government refuses to legalize hemp production in this country. Despite thousands of documented medical case studies, international research and a U.S owned patent (US Patent 6630507) titled “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants,” the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, claiming that the plant has no medicinal value. Unfortunately, the trickle down effect of this ignorance is not only poisoning the minds of our leaders, but costing the U.S. jobs, revenue and a better quality of life for those who could benefit from the plant’s healing properties.

But those who oppose legalization have compiled their own supporting research and polls, the majority of which were conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which focuses on the negative impacts of cannabis on society. The evidence points toward addiction and developmental issues in adolescent brains, and also shows an increase in marijuana use among adolescents, contradictory to the figures in states that have legalized marijuana use in some manner. Though I do not discredit their research, there are better ways to educate and discourage adolescents from experimenting with drugs, as demonstrated by the tobacco industry, which has seen a dramatic decline in adolescent use since anti-tobacco/teen-targeted advertising started in the late ’80s.

Both pro-legalization and anti-legalization movements have an abundance of supporting evidence to prove or disprove their particular stance. Any study can be manipulated to prove a particular theory with the proper appointment of study subjects, controlled environments and biased agendas. The laws of nature dictate that anything can happen, at any given time, in any given place, providing the conditions are right. Where a wise man will accept those conditions and adapt, an ambitious man will manipulate those conditions to suit his needs. Such is the nature of all research conducted to discover pre-concluded theories or facts.

Therefore we must discard all of the conflicting evidence and look at the items that remain. Somewhere in the middle you will find the facts that have nothing to do with public opinion, corporate agendas or child development. The facts have more to do with your civil liberties. According to the Declaration of Independence, all men have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we are free to practice these rights in the privacy of our own homes, on our own properties, as long as these practices do not infringe upon another’s rights to do the same.

So, in my mind, the real question is not at all about the legalization of marijuana. The real question is: Are we slaves or are we free men? And if we are free men, should we not be allowed to determine our own morals and values, not only those approved by the federal government?

Cannabis: A Year in Review

cannabisFolds Magazine discusses cannabis movement

I started 13 Folds Magazine just over a year ago, on January 13, 2013. It was an idea dreamed up on a 4th of July weekend, spent with three of my best friends, on good ol’ Cape Cod. We ate great food, drank a lot of beer, gave cheers to the gods of laughter and thought up a great concept for a magazine that would prove that cannabis is as American as apple pie. Since then, the original concept has evolved and what was intended to be an informative magazine has blossomed into this giant community, well beyond what I had ever imagined.

The truth is that I am and always have been a supporter of the cannabis movement. I believe that the de-monsterization of cannabis will help the economy, advance medicine and solve many social issues in this country. I am, however, by no means an activist. I have never engaged in the politics behind the scenes or the science behind the facts of marijuana. Instead, my true beef with marijuana prohibition is that it violates so many civil liberties and defies all logic. I prefer a common sense approach to any issue that we, as a society, are confronted with, including the War on Drugs. But this does not qualify me as an activist. I am just an artist who is attempting to produce a piece of art that will hopefully entertain people while educating them about a subject that I hold dear.

The surprise to me, however, is how I have been educated throughout this process. I have met a a wide variety of people, from all different walks of life (ranging from politicians to troubled teens) and have emerged from each encounter with a new piece of knowledge. Here are just a few of the things that I have learned on my own crusade.

1) There can be no hard line drawn in the sand if the Coalition to End Prohibition intends to succeed in its mission. The concerns of those who oppose an end to prohibition have many valid points and concerns. We have to understand and accept those concerns before we dismiss them as irrational arguments. There is much science to support both causes, though the research conducted is usually biased to meet the needs of the side producing the research. For this reason, nonbiased groups need to be constructed for the purpose of testing and research. Only then will the science be based on logic instead of agendas.

2) Within the movement, there is a lack of unity, which spreads like decay and distracts us from the ultimate goal — to end prohibition. I find that the source of these schisms usually stems from socio-economic differences, misinformation and often ego. Whether you seek to end prohibition for the freedom to use medicinally, recreationally or industrially, we all share the same common goal. How another chooses to reach that goal is their business, as long as it does not interfere with the movement as a whole. Communication and understanding are a necessity between all members of the movement, for if there is no unity within the movement, it will definitely fail.

3) Once those who support legalization better understand the fears of those who oppose the movement, they must act to compromise with and calm those fears in order not to gain their support, but to quiet their protest. There is already overwhelming support for an end to prohibition. Unfortunately, those who have not given in to logic make the most noise. Quiet their efforts and the majority will more easily be heard.

The basic knowledge that I have gained still does not qualify me as an activist. I do, however, feel that I have gained a better perspective on what motivates the different sides of this heated debate. I understand what it is that motivates the opposition and what must be done to ease their concerns. We must, first and foremost, assure them that legalization will not lead America’s youth down a path to destruction. We must show them how regulation will convert into dollars and cents, and help to deliver us from our economic woes. We must present factual evidence of the medical benefits that cannabis holds, and adhere to the strict regulations that the scientific community has set for such research to be conducted.  All of this can be done easily enough. It just takes some careful planning and communication. Use the time spent arguing over insignificant differences to come up with plans of action that will lead to a greater good.

Many people are in a rush to see an end to prohibition, myself included, but after 75 years of this being the norm, I believe that we can suffer through a few more. Great strides are happening every day on all fronts, internationally, nationally and on a community level. Colorado and Washington will demonstrate the potential of what legalization can bring. We must wait, watch and learn from these experiments. They will provide us with evidence, statistics and examples of what to expect. This is a new endeavor and the initial results may not be perfect, but they will provide us with a foundation on which to improve. Once these models are perfected, I truly believe that this ridiculous prohibition will come to an end.

Packing the Bowl – Super Bowl XLVIII


The sport of football becomes intertwined with the marijuana movement as Washington and Colorado’s NFL teams head to the super bowl.

This year presented football fans with the very first cold weather outdoor Super Bowl in NFL history, and by the time you read this article, the game will have already taken place. My hopes are that the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos for the elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy. Yet this is the Super Bowl and as all New England fans know – all too well – anything can happen on any given Sunday. So for the sake of not offending anyone, I hope the team you rooted for was victorious, for I don’t believe that either team can be considered the true champion when all is said and done. 

Of course, you already watched the big game and you already know who won, but did you know that more than 110 million people also watch the big game each year? This scale of an audience created a billion dollar industry, spawned from Super Bowl sponsorship and advertising alone, justified by the event’s world-wide exposure. This is the only event I can think of after which viewers discuss the commercials long after the conversations about the occurrence itself end. I am actually willing to bet that you have been involved with a Super Bowl half-time commercial conversation this week. My heart tells me that this advertisement involved Doritos, but that is neither here nor there. Not even the billions spent on glamouring us can purchase the victory of the true Super Bowl champion.

So the stakes are set and judging by what actually took place on the day of the Super Bowl, you are thinking that I am either a genius or an imbecile. Let’s go with genius, because I am about to blow your mind. Remember that as I write this article, the game has not yet taken place, but the memes are already out and they suggest that this will be one of the best tailgate parties ever! This is because the true victor of the 2014 Super Bowl is the marijuana legalization movement.

Both of the competing teams hail from the only two states that ended marijuana prohibition – Colorado and Washington State. Though it is an obvious coincidence, this fact has already sparked much conversation among NFL fans, players, coaches and executives alike. Communities everywhere are discussing the topic, whether for the sake of humor, politics, science or sheer irony. Even people who don’t like football are talking about football! The amount of exposure being generated for the marijuana movement is mind boggling and it is all being given for free. That is the sign of a true champion.

In fact, just this month, Andrea Kremer of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” did an extensive report on marijuana use in the NFL. In this interview, athletes admitted to regular marijuana use, stating that it is more effective for pain management than traditional drugs prescribed by team physicians. Former Broncos tight end Nate Jackson supports this claim, and suggests that more than 50 percent of NFL players use marijuana regularly. Unfortunately, league regulations dictate a prohibitive stance on marijuana use, as its medical benefits have not found unanimous support from the medical community.

Fortunately, though, the current stance on marijuana use in the NFL is not set in stone.  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expressed a willingness to examine the effectiveness of cannabis as a viable treatment for concussions, a major complication within the NFL, if the medical community is willing to endorse it as such.

“We will obviously follow signs,” Goodell said. “We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that. Our medical experts are not saying that right now.”

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, one of the leading experts on medicinal marijuana, has already theorized that cannabis can not only treat pain associated with concussions, but also may have a healing effect on damaged brain tissues. This theory is drawn from his extensive testing on mice, where medicinal marijuana produced remarkable results in his test subjects. Mechoulam believes that these benefits could also translate to human subjects. With a number of other supporting studies, mostly conducted in Israel, the leader in medicinal marijuana research, it is reasonable to believe that the time for revisiting this subject is not far away.

At this time, more than 20 US states, including Washington, DC, legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. Should these states follow the lead of Washington and Colorado, would this also propel their teams to a Super Bowl appearance? It’s highly unlikely, but as more states with professional teams join the movement to end prohibition, it is reasonable to believe that the NFL, one of the most followed leagues in the world, will be compelled to make changes to its rules regarding marijuana use by its athletes.  Though this may not make all of them champions, it could prolong the careers of those who are.

Operation Recreation – Denver, Colorado – Ground Zero

The recent legalization in Denver precursor for what’s to come

As the sun rose on January 1, 2014, a line of people had already formed in front of one of the many marijuana stores cleared to open their doors to recreational users throughout Colorado.  The first sale took place in Denver, where dispensaries were forced to turn people away (due to lack of product) before the day’s end. Lines of excited customers flowed out of the shops and around city blocks, all awaiting the symbolic end to an era of prohibition. Pot sales were estimated to bring in over one million dollars on the first day, and the state is projecting that tax revenues will exceed $67 million this first year.

Opposition to the legalization effort will be disappointed to hear that the launch of recreational marijuana sales (other than being a huge success for vendors and consumers alike) was rather uneventful. There were no rioters, protests or disruptions of any kind. In fact, police reported that the mobs of people were rather pleasant, orderly and enthusiastically supported by the majority of public passers-by. This experiment in progressive counterculture has shown nothing but great potential and encouragement for what lies ahead.

The potential for marijuana sales is easy to predict if you look at established figures for the medical marijuana program in Colorado. Regulations dictate that recreational pot shops are required to produce 70 percent of their inventory, with the other 30 percent coming from local dispensaries, which currently supply 110,000 state patients at a ratio of five plants per patient. That 30 percent equates to roughly 40,000 pounds of marijuana, minus whatever product is consumed by the regular patients. Assuming that these crops can be harvested three times per year, we can predict that an average supply of 120,000 pounds of primo sticky icky will be available to supplement marijuana shops throughout Colorado. When you incorporate the 70 percent required for production by the recreational shops, the total available supply can be maximized at 400,000 pounds of marijuana for recreational consumption per year. That’s a lot of cheeba – $92,560,000 worth at an estimated $50 per 1/8.

However, judging by the initial success of the legalization movement in Colorado, experts are predicting that, without additional resources, it will be difficult for these distribution centers to keep up with demand this first year. Actual figures to support this month’s experiment won’t be available until early February, when January’s receipts will be calculated and totaled. But after such a promising inauguration (as well as the anticipated tourist market) expectations are high. Though dispensaries are already established and should be able to produce their share of product, it is estimated that it will take up to five months for recreational establishments to get up to speed. This will leave a good portion of the potential market unaccounted for.

If the predictions hold true, Colorado should be generating tax revenue, private income and quite a few jobs. There were an estimated 10,000 jobs created from the medical marijuana market this year. There is also the potential to see a change in current laws, which do not allow private caregivers to sell excess product to other outlets, just to keep up with expected demand. We applaud you Colorado, as the rest of the world watches the experiment unfold. Washington state is due to release their recreational program this year, and a slew of other states are proposing ballots in the upcoming years. So far, the end of an era of prohibition is setting a standard for very high hopes.