2019 Will Be a Banner Year for Cannabis Mergers and Acquisitions

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marijuana cannabis M & AWe handle a lot of cannabis M & A in our Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland offices. Over the years, it’s become pretty clear that in robustly regulated cannabis states, the secondary market for buying and selling businesses really peaks (after initial legalization) as local and state governments finally begin to settle their local control entitlement processes, and once the state rules governing cannabis businesses are less volatile. In California specifically, our cannabis business attorneys have worked on a good amount of cannabis M & A deals since the implementation of the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”)–  especially in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San Francisco, the Emerald Triangle, and Oakland.

Lately though, there’s been a massive uptick in our firm’s M & A practice for cannabis businesses in a multitude of states. Below is an outline as to why this is happening.

  1. Limited number of licensed businesses.

Securing a cannabis license in any state is no picnic. Setting aside the federal illegality of cannabis (which has its own business and legal risks), licensees not only have to deal with the shifting state regulatory landscape, but they must also constantly navigate local control from city to city and county to county. Licensees also have to meet numerous strict local and state requirements for their location, daily operations, finances, owners, financial interest holders, true parties of interest, and their employees. To further complicate things, certain states (mainly on the east coast) only allow a limited number of licenses for which applicants compete, and the expense of the application process in those states can force an applicant to expend six figures or more with no guarantee of licensure. Other states have become so saturated with applicants that they’ve suspended their licensing window indefinitely (see Oregon), or they only had a limited licensing window in the first place (see Washington). Even in California, where the barriers to licensing are very low on the state level, the majority of cities and counties still ban commercial cannabis activity.

All of these human, political and regulatory factors have had one practical effect on industry: The number of licensed cannabis entities existing today is very limited and will be slow to grow and expand in states with legalization. In turn, just by virtue of holding a license, your cannabis business holds inherent value to strategic and financial buyers.

  1. Survival plan.

Getting a cannabis license is a bit of a hollow victory because no matter how difficult the road to licensure has been, your entity now faces the far greater challenge of securing revenues and turning profits. Many licensees underestimate this side of the game, and they truly believe that cannabis will just sell itself with no tactical thinking or business effort. Oftentimes, due to poor planning or general lack of sophistication on the business side, cannabis partnerships break up and businesses run out of money. Sometimes, licensed businesses go belly up before operations really commence.

Some cannabis operators are happy (even eager) to abandon the business at this stage of great stress. Depending on the market, they may find buyers willing to pay hundreds of thousands or even millions for their newly-minted cannabis businesses that’s slowly becoming distressed (though it’s no secret that most cannabis business valuations are still squirrelly at best). On the other hand, other cannabis businesses in this situation will look around and find similarly-minded peers to potentially combine with them on a cash-free basis via a share swap, thus increasing their licensing portfolio and the likelihood of finding new finances and surviving the start-up stage– exponentially increasing their valuation.

  1. Growth plan.

After surviving the start-up phase, cannabis businesses should start evaluating themselves against their peers and competitors, thinking about ways to increase their market share. Here, businesses may begin thinking about acquiring a competitor or an entity that can add to a vertical integrated structure, improve the supply chain, add to the brand portfolio, ultimately expanding the geographical reach of the business and brand. Purchasing an operational entity will likely be cheaper than starting new operations and applying for a very hard-to-get license for those operations. Therefore, existing cannabis entities that actually sustain operations will likely be approached with an offer of an acquisition, a share swap, or some other offer of an acquisition or a combination transaction. In addition, in preparation for the larger corporate players entering the cannabis industry, some cannabis companies will choose to merge to make themselves a more attractive target for a liquidity or an exit event.

  1. Exit/liquidation plan.

The holy grail of most entrepreneurs is an “EXIT.”  The basic formula is: Create it, build it, grow it, capitalize on it, rinse and repeat.  It’s no different in the cannabis industry. Many cannabis businesses do not intend to compete in the marketplace or create a lasting legacy. Instead, the usual goal is to sell the business off to a larger corporate player. Some of these cannabis businesses are beginning to realize that vision after witnessing multi-million dollar acquisitions by Acreage and investments by Altria. As a result, many licensed cannabis businesses will likely go through some kind of M & A transaction in the next year or two. Because of the clear race to the bottom for cannabis on pricing, we have no doubt that bigger companies will quickly start to eat up distressed cannabis operators for better or worse (which is already happening in certain states).

In my upcoming blog posts, I’ll be detailing what buyers and sellers need to do and consider regarding deal mechanics for state and local licensing ownership changes, defaults, closing covenants, and indemnities and liabilities for successful M & A in cannabis.

For now, and for more on cannabis M & A, check out the following blog posts:

Oregon Bill Would Legalize Interstate Cannabis Exports

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Oregon lawmakers are expected to consider legislation this year that would allow the state to export cannabis products into other state-legal cannabis markets, according to a Statesman Journal report.

The bill would be a cooperative effort between Oregon state Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D) and The Craft Cannabis Alliance, which defines itself as a member association of cannabis and allied businesses.

Draft language of the proposal would allow cannabis wholesalers to ship across state lines provided that Oregon’s governor reaches an agreement with the receiving state. Products would not be allowed to cross through states where cannabis remains prohibited, and product transport via airplanes would be prohibited.

Sen. Prozanski introduced similar legislation in 2017 but his proposal died in the statehouse.

“There are plenty of markets that would be thrilled to have world-class cannabis. But prohibition keeps us from sending it into those markets.” — Adam Smith, founder and director of The Craft Cannabis Alliance, via The Statesman Journal

The Oregon cannabis market suffers from an over-saturation of cannabis products, which has resulted in some product diversion to the black market. Meanwhile, wholesale and retail cannabis prices have plummeted.

According to Beau Whitney, a senior economist for New Frontier Data, allowing interstate exports “would either slow or stop the price declines, because there wouldn’t be any more excess.”

“It would create more of a market in which quality and branding and other things would come into play more so than just pure price,” Whitney told The Statesman Journal.

However, the proposal would be a risky step in light of the plant’s ongoing federal prohibition. Since the first state-legal markets launched in 2014, cannabis businesses have operated in accordance with the since-rescinded Cole Memo, which specifically forbade state-legal cannabis products from crossing state borders.

 

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Here’s What to Watch for in Legal Weed in 2019

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From weed shortages to edibles sales, there are a lot of issues to sort out.

The legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada on October 17 put an end to nearly a century of prohibition and was undoubtedly one of the biggest news stories of 2018.

But we’re really at the tip of the iceberg in terms of the shift to a legal regime. Here are some key weed stories to watch out for in the new year:

– Read the entire article at News.

Congress Passed the 2018 Farm Bill, Legalizing Hemp. What’s Next for Cannabis Businesses?

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Congress federally legalized hemp with the Dec. 12 passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, opening a market that Brightfield Group estimates will reach $22 billion by 2022.

The $867 billion agriculture law cleared the Senate Dec. 11 with a 87-13 vote before gaining approval in the House Dec. 12 with a 369-47 vote. The bill has been sent to President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

The Farm Bill removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and allows farmers to pursue federal hemp cultivation permits, while individual states can regulate the industry within their borders as they see fit. Already, 40 states have established hemp cultivation “pilot programs” for industrial and commercial purposes, although the plant has been strictly regulated.

“This is absolutely world history! What the Congress did … is going to change the future for this industry and the world,” said Dr. Bomi Joseph, founder of Peak Health Center.

Hemp cultivation became illegal in the U.S. in 1937, under provisions in the Marihuana Tax Act, which was drafted by prohibitionist Harry Anslinger. In the intervening eight decades, American culture has steadily warmed to the idea of reviving the agricultural commodity and its many commercial uses.

“With the Farm Bill of 2018 …, the restrictions around growing industrial hemp could be lifted by the end of the year,” said Ari Sherman, president of Evo Hemp. “This bill will also help clarify that resin products derived from hemp, like cannabinoids, will be legal on a federal level. Many people will benefit from this bill, including farmers, manufactures, retailers and consumers. Small family farmers will be able to make a sufficient amount of income off a small amount of land. This bill will open up advertising opportunities for hemp product manufactures. Retailers will be given more freedom in the variety of hemp products that they carry. Last, consumers will be given access to all domestically grown hemp-based products.”

“It is excellent to finally have definitive rules governing the sale of CBD products in the United States,” added Sasha Kadey, CMO of Greenlane. “There are huge demands for these products as many Americans find great benefit in their use. A clear, legal path to bring these products to market with all the appropriate checks and balances that ultimately result in consumer safety is a huge win for consumers, law-abiding businesses and the U.S. Economy.”

The legislation will supersede the recently expired 2014 Farm Bill, which had granted states the ability to create those hemp production pilot programs. The manufacture and sale of hemp-derived CBD, however, was strictly regulated and sometimes left out of states’ medical cannabis market frameworks.

Now, with hemp set to be treated as an agricultural product, the U.S. FDA or state departments of agriculture will provide oversight of the plant’s cultivation. Further along the supply chain, industry observers eagerly anticipate guidance on hemp-derived CBD.

“While the Farm Bill presents exciting opportunities for U.S. agriculture and the hemp industry, it is still unclear what the final status of CBD will be,” said Jordan Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Zodaka, a cannabis payment platform. “[I am] curious to see how the progress of CBD-specific legislation is affected by this milestone.”

In July, the California Department of Public Health issued a state policy prohibiting hemp-derived CBD in food products, which aligned with the FDA’s stance. Policies are now likely to shift, as federal and state regulators embrace hemp legalization—and cannabis companies will have new opportunities, as well.

Hemp is primarily a cheap source of CBD, which as become a hot commodity, and the passage of the Farm Bill ensures that people who farm and create products with CBD are protected from prosecution, Joseph said. “A lot more investment is going to pour in for new food products based on hemp.”

U.S. hemp companies may now be able to list on U.S. stock exchanges, as well, added Khurram Malik, CEO of Biome Grow. Previously, they have been limited to Canadian exchanges when looking to go public.

“It’s a pivotal moment we’ve been preparing for, and a hallmark in the history of hemp,” said Matt Oscamou, co-founder of Weller, a manufacturer of CBD-infused snacks. “CBD awareness has picked up over the last several months, and the bill answers some of the questions that retailers and consumers have been continuously asking. Ultimately, this legislation gives the market a unique opportunity to grow by decriminalizing hemp and hemp CBD, thus removing a road block to institutional capital.”

The federal legalization of hemp will also undoubtedly attract investors and businesses from outside the U.S.

“We’re hoping that this bill can help us expand our supply chain by looking for hemp farmers in the U.S. for our CBD products to supplement our current hemp imports from Europe,” said Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc. “In the next few years, hemp will once again become the valued commodity it once was just a few generations ago. As a company, we’re utilizing hemp as a source for CBD, but we look forward to the U.S. taking advantage of hemp’s many other industrial uses, such as a source of building and construction materials, material for bio-composite purposes, clean biofuels, as well as a viable source of nutrition.”

More retailers will likely start integrating CBD products into their stores, as well, making them available for consumers who have been eager to try CBD, but who may not have been educated on the products or able to find a trusted brand.

“The Farm Bill is just the first step, but it’s undoubtedly a big one,” Oscamou added. “We’re looking forward to leading the way with true innovation in this emerging category, utilizing FDA-compliant processes to ensure consumers know exactly what they’re getting every time their daily stresses rear up.”

Hemp legalization will also lend support to what is already becoming a multi-billion-dollar American agriculture industry, according to Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc., a U.S.-based hemp cultivator.

“As an example, we project that a massive back-to-the land movement will be in full force by mid-summer of 2019 … because the back-to-the land population will now have a solid economic basis in industrial hemp to rely on,” Perlowin said. “This will be an incredible boon for the American small family farm. Our strategy has been to partner with farmers across the country in states where hemp cultivation and manufacturing is legal, to provide them with the infrastructure needed to make a profit off this incredible crop.”

“While how long it has taken is disappointing, it is exciting to see hemp back in the fold as a main cash crop opportunity for American farmers,” added Jeffrey M. Zucker, co-founder and president of Green Lion Partners. “Hemp is an environmentally friendly, sustainable resource that is incredibly versatile. In addition to this being a win for farmers, it is a boon for Americans as a whole to receive expanded access to hemp products.”

And cultivating hemp can also help eliminate contaminants in the soil, Joseph added.

“Hemp is very useful for ‘phyto-remediation,’” he said. “Hemp has the highest ability to ‘bioaccumulate’ and degrade harmful contaminants in soil, water and air. Toxic heavy metals and organic pollutants are great targets for hemp phyto-remediation … Hemp will absorb [pollutants] voraciously, neutralize them and break them down into harmless components. This is a very exciting environmental benefit to hemp cultivation that is hardly mentioned.”

Hemp research will likely also ramp up as restrictions on the plant are loosened.

“The health and wellness industries are in for a major overhaul with the massive research and development and exploration into CBD, CBG, CBN and 113 other cannabinoids, as well as some 300 terpenes found in the industrial hemp plant,” Perlowin said.

“Hemp is incredibly versatile, and for so long it’s had a bad reputation because of the stigma around marijuana,” added Derek Riedle, publisher of Civilized. “For decades, the government hasn’t been able to distinguish between the two plants—it’s like having a twin brother who breaks the rules, but you get in trouble, too. Now that the realities of cannabis are coming to light, we will finally be able to unleash the full potential of hemp here in the U.S.”

And with a federally legal industrial hemp industry across the U.S., the passage of the Farm Bill could also represent a step toward the federal legalization of marijuana, according to Dan Anglin, DEO of CannAmerica.

“This news is substantial for all of America’s hemp and CBD companies, and as a veteran of the more complicated THC-marijuana industry, I’m encouraged about what this could mean for the federal future of marijuana and cannabis products in the U.S.A.”

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The New Methods & Technologies of Curing Cannabis

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After watching your cannabis plants grow for months and months, it’s harvest time. You trim your crop, dry the buds, and finally, you’re ready to smoke the fruits of your labors.

Not so fast. Now you have to let the buds cure.

Curing is an integral part of the growing process, yet often overlooked. Some may not pay as close attention to this step because they’re eager to start smoking or start selling. But curing is essential to bringing out the aromas and flavors in your cannabis, and the process accentuates your strain’s terpene profile.

Plenty of superstitions and old wives’ tales abound on how to properly cure cannabis. But there are some basic, tried-and-true methods that will get your cannabis smelling and tasting great.

Legalization has helped pave the way for innovation and new methodologies, allowing entrepreneurs to rethink the entire cannabis growing process, including curing.

Here we look at three companies who are changing the game in the final, sometimes mysterious, step in the growing process.

Gold Leaf’s Long-Cure Process

Gold Leaf Gardens, out of Lacey, Washington, is experimenting with curing cannabis for long periods of time, trying to answer the question: Why can’t cannabis be aged like scotch or wine?

“Curing is more of an art than a science. Flavors and tastes are highly subjective,” says Gold Leaf Owner and Founder Nate Gibbs. “A lot of it has to do with the market, and there are two camps of smokers: people who like fresh-dried cannabis and those who like long-cured. There’s a bias toward fresh, recently harvested product.”

“Curing is more of an art than a science. Flavors and tastes are highly subjective.”

Nate Gibbs, Owner/Founder Gold Leaf Gardens

Gold Leaf set aside 5% of every harvest, experimenting with how different strains taste and smell when cured for 6-12 months or even more. It tracks moisture content, how often a batch gets burped, taste, and smell, month after month, trying to find the point of diminishing return when curing ceases to help the product.

And of course every strain is different and ages differently. “Bright, citrusy notes might age worse, while earthy, spicier stuff ages better,” says Gibbs.

As a small-scale producer, 5% of every harvest can be a substantial amount of product, but they are committed to this experimentation process and believe that it’s worth the effort. They grow and produce the product that they want to smoke.

Even though the market may currently be skewed toward freshly harvested product, long-curing may appeal to high-end consumers, who are willing to pay top dollar for quality. High-end Cannagars, from sister company Leira, may be the key: “There’s no drop-off in aging. They only seem to get smoother and smoother,” says Gibbs.

Yofumo’s Terpene Amplification Processes and Enfleurage

Denver, Colorado-based company Yofumo—Spanish for “I smoke”—uses science and data to unlock the secrets of the curing process.

“When we started, curing was in the Stone Age. People were still using buckets and hangers,” says Yofumo CEO Alfonso Campalans. “It was a dark art or thought of as a dark art, but the science and technology are standard. Curing has to do with consistency, repeatability, and pulling data. We love data, we don’t put anything out that we can’t back up with data.”

Yofumo sells curing units for mid- and large-scale cannabis producers, which shrink down the curing process from months to just 5-7 days. Their Pro+ Cure units approach curing from three distinct perspectives:

  • Plant on self. The most traditional approach, this practice focuses on the development and expression of a strain’s native terpene profile, taking it to the maximum level of potential genetic expression.
  • Plant on plant. This perspective allows a grower to amplify or accentuate specific aspects of the native terpene profile of a given strain.
  • Natural botanicals. Also called Enfleurage, this allows growers the ability to completely manipulate the aroma and flavor profiles of their strains with naturally derived, non-cannabis terpenes.

(Courtesy of Yofumo)

“Knowing how to manipulate the environment is paramount to the process,” says VP of Client Applications and Deployment Joe Edwards. “Moving water through the plant is the key. Environmental manipulation is just as important in the post-harvest process as manipulation is in the growing process. Curing is about water and resin—as you move water through the plant, it becomes a transfer vehicle and pushes the resin through the plant to the trichomes.”

The natural botanicals process in particular is intriguing, as you can add any flavor you want to a batch of cannabis, similar to adding bergamot to black tea to get Earl Grey. This enfleurage process has been around for centuries and has been used by the perfume industry to pull flavors out of specific plants and flowers to put into perfumes, but Yofumo’s technique is a lot more high-tech.

“Environmental manipulation is just as important in the post-harvest process as manipulation is in the growing process.”

Joe Edwards, VP of Client Applications and Deployment

“Specially designed rods are saturated in a terpene profile, which in turn fuel the saturation of the atmosphere inside the unit, allowing the plant to uptake and bind the new terpene profile,” says Edwards. “These units extend the plant life cycle by manipulating environmental conditions, and thusly the flower present in that environment, allowing the plant to absorb and bind the additional terpene compounds.”

For some, the natural flavor of cannabis can be a turnoff. Much like how different flavors can be added to e-cigs and vapes, this process could allow for a multitude of different flavors to be added to a multitude of different strains, with endless combinations and permutations of flavors and terpene profiles.

“It’s the greatest puzzle I’ve ever been able to play with, seeing the development of terpene profiles and to bring out those flavors,” says Edwards.

Harvest Right’s Freeze-Dry Process

Freeze-drying cannabis has been around for a while and it’s becoming increasingly popular for small- and large-scale growers. Salt Lake City’s Harvest Right has freeze-drying units that shorten the curing process to just 24-36 hours, and are affordable and aimed at both small- and large-scale growers, and even homegrowers.

Starting off primarily in the food industry, cannabis growers and producers started coming to Harvest Right, telling wonders of their units for curing cannabis. That’s when the company developed its Pharmaceutical units line.

Talking with Project and Sales Manager Nathan Cheney, their units preserve buds and terpene profiles better than standard curing because they don’t use heat. Because of the quick cycle of the units and because the curing happens in a controlled environment, there’s a reduced risk of mold or mildew.

Growers and processors working with concentrates like hash and shatter find the units to be extremely useful. Rosin press company Pure Pressure is a reseller of theirs and has even won awards using Harvest Right’s freeze-drying machines.

Their units cure buds in three phases:

  • Deep-freeze. This brings cannabis buds down to negative 40°F or below. The colder you can get your product, the fresher.
  • Sublimation. This process turns solid ice straight to water vapor, skipping the liquid phase. A vacuum pump then kicks in, sucking out the water vapor.
  • Final dry. Which brings the temperature back up to room temp (70-80°F), taking the last bit of water content out of the buds.

Growers can control the last step of the process, if they want to control the amount of moisture left in the bud for flavor or preservation.

The units are able to dry 10-to-20-pound batches at a time, making units available for everyone, from the homegrower to large-scale producers. These small batches allow even large-scale growers the ability to control small batches of product to keep an eye on quality, and also allow them to stagger their personnel so that they don’t have to cure hundreds of pounds at a time.

A Guide to Photographing Cannabis Flower

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This two-part series will show you how to photograph cannabis, regardless of your experience level. Get tips on how to take pictures of live plants, harvested buds, and concentrates, as well as how to shoot indoors and outdoors. There’s something for beginners, experts and everyone in between.


We live in a day and age where photography and technology have enabled anyone at any skill level to easily capture the beauty of what they see. This is true for cannabis enthusiasts as well, and we can share our experiences with such a visually stunning plant in a way that has never been done before.

In this installment, we’ll focus on photographing cannabis flower in its different forms. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have any experience with photography. With the proper tools and a little bit of knowledge, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to create captivating images of cannabis.

Eliminating the Barrier to Entry

(Jakob Owens/Unsplash)

Getting into cannabis photography is easier now more than ever, with technology like smartphones bringing people together and making it easier to take pictures.

Today, taking high-resolution images is simply more accessible to more people, regardless of budget.

Not only do more people own devices capable of taking photos, but this abundance of devices has lowered the cost of high-end equipment like DSLR cameras, as technology manufacturers compete for the attention of consumers. Today, taking high-resolution images is simply more accessible to more people, regardless of budget.

The stigma around cannabis is lessening, thanks in large part to digital platforms. Major social media outlets are now beginning to demand that cannabis-related content be treated fairly. Creatives are engaging in social media to share their experiences with cannabis and the trend is gaining momentum every day.

Why Photograph Cannabis?

If you identify as a creative, the intrinsic value of capturing the beauty and aesthetic of cannabis may be the only reason you need to start taking pictures. But there are many other reasons to get started.

Share on Social Media

Utilizing and leveraging social media to share photos is a great way to gain inspiration, present your own portfolio, and connect with fellow cannabis creatives. Instagram, Reddit, and a host of other social media platforms have communities where you can view and share cannabis photography.

Keep a Grow Journal

One of the best ways to inspire creativity with cannabis photography is to grow at home. Capturing cannabis as it transitions through the grow cycle will allow you to take different types of pictures as your plants change and mature. Taking pictures of your harvested crop will also make for great content.

Keep a Strain Log

Maintaining a photographic strain log is a great way to track the various cannabis varieties that move through your collection.

Create Art Prints & More

The sky’s the limit for you to share your work across various mediums. Creating art prints for canvasses is a tangible alternative to digital sharing, and cannabis prints translate well to other formats, including textiles for upholstery and fashion.

Getting Started to Photograph Cannabis

If you are brand new to photography and not sure where to start, fear not. Start small and use what you have. You don’t need to invest in expensive camera gear to get great shots of cannabis.

As mentioned above, cameras on smartphones are very capable of capturing stunning images with ease. You can even make a few modest improvements to your mobile phone setup without breaking the bank.

There are a few key differences between photographing living cannabis plants and photographing cured flowers. These differences will impact everything from the gear you need to the types of images you will be producing, so choose your subject beforehand.

Living Plants

(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

Living plant subjects will either come from your own garden or from gardens that you visit. Shooting in gardens will give you more variety in subject matter. As plants grow and transition, you’ll be forced to shoot them at different angles and in different lighting conditions.

Using filters is imperative in some lighting situations—like when purple LEDs or yellow HPS bulbs are around.

But shooting in a garden has its disadvantages. Often, you will have very little control over lighting. Using filters is imperative in some lighting situations—like when purple LEDs or yellow HPS bulbs are around—and be sure to adjust your in-camera white-balancing. Keep in mind that modifying photos in post-production may be your only hope for achieving certain shots.

Unless you can physically move plants to a controlled area, which is highly unlikely if you are a guest in someone else’s garden, you will need to operate as a mobile setup. This will limit your ability to provide additional light sources, modify backgrounds, and achieve stability with external hardware like tripods.

Cured Flowers

(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

The easiest and most efficient way to approach photographing cured flowers is to treat it like product photography. You will have total control over all environmental factors: where the light comes from, how strong it is, and what spectrum it’s in.

Background color and distance are also in your control. You can shoot with or without props, on location or in a studio, and even in a light box. The downside to photographing cured flowers in a studio is that certain composures may require you to spend money on additional hardware.

Practice Makes Perfect

You will become a better cannabis photographer with every picture you take. Experiment and try the following:

  • Shoot the same subject from multiple angles
  • Experiment with contrasting backgrounds and creative foreground props
  • Don’t be afraid to zoom out for an establishing shot or to get in close, even really close, for a good macro
  • Shoot from above, from below, or even through a filter
  • For living plants, photograph everything from the leaves and stems to the seeds

Try to take a picture of every strain you come across. Having a social media account will inspire you to post more, shoot more, and engage with like-minded cannabis photographers.

Advanced Gear for Cannabis Photographers

Try out cannabis photography for a little while, and if it’s something that you want to pursue seriously, either as a hobby or as a potential career path, below is a list of recommended gear to help get you ready to take professional-level images.

DSLR Camera

(Tom Pumford/Unsplash)

For high-resolution images, you’ll need to invest in a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera of some kind. This will allow you to change lenses, control advanced composure settings like white balance, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and it will produce raw images that allow for a much greater level of control in post-production image editing.

Tripod

Detailed close-up shots of cannabis require physical stability of the camera. Even when using a professional-level DSLR equipped with an image-stabilizing lens, producing a blur-free, hand-held photograph is incredibly difficult. Keep a tripod on hand to eliminate blurring and to allow you to operate hands-free.

Supplemental Light

In order to create a dynamic composure, additional light is often required, especially for macro photography. For optimal control of the image, use supplemental lighting equipment such as flashes, strobes, or continuous lights.

Macro Lens

(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

For extremely close, fine-detailed shots of cannabis, you will have to invest in a macro lens. These lenses allow you to produce vivid detail that is difficult to recreate with a wider lens.

Remote Shutter Control

A remote control for your shutter will eliminate shutter shake that occurs when you press the button on your camera. This will allow you to go hands-free and will greatly improve your ability to stabilize photographs, especially macros. Many DSLR cameras have Wi-Fi capabilities that let you control the shutter through your smartphone.

Recommended Settings for DSLR Cameras

DSLR cameras will give you much greater control over the composure of your image. Each situation will require a different setting on your camera, but below are some recommended settings to get you started working with cannabis as a subject.

Use Low Shutter Speeds for Tripod Shots

With a stabilized camera on a tripod, using a low shutter speed will let in more light and create brighter images by keeping the shutter open for longer. Since most cannabis-related images don’t require movement, this will help you use the maximum amount of available light to illuminate the details of your subject.

Adjust White Balance for the Light Spectrum

When shooting in gardens that contain yellow lights such as HPS, you will need to balance the light in your camera. Adjusting light balance to a “Tungsten” setting will help tremendously. For some images, post-production editing may be required for better light-balancing.

Increase the F-Stop for Macro

Setting the aperture can be complicated to master. To help understand aperture better, adjust it according to the focal distance to your subject. Since cannabis is highly contoured, close-up images will require a big, open F-stop to capture as much depth and detail as possible and to eliminate blur in the background and foreground of the image.

Always Aim for a Low ISO

As a general principle of photography, only increase the ISO in your DSLR if you absolutely need to. A higher ISO will add noise and graininess to your photos, which isn’t easily fixed in post-production.

The Art of Post-Production Editing

(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

Post-production editing software is one of the best tools to clean up and organize your cannabis photographs. Even basic photo-editing software that comes with most computers will give you the ability to make many adjustments to your images. There are a lot of options available on the market, but it ultimately comes down to preference. Keep in mind that post-production editing can get very technical, and some of it will require a level of mastery that only comes with experience.

Whether you begin your cannabis photography journey with your smartphone or from behind the lens of a DSLR, there are limitless options for how to catalog your favorite aspects of cannabis in picture. Experimenting with different styles is key and it’s one of the most thrilling parts of your new hobby.

Aspiring ‘Craft’ Cannabis Producers Running Into Unexpected Roadblocks

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Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue.

Without warning, his baby had stopped breathing, and he frantically performed CPR while his friend James Gallagher called 911.

Years later, the men still become emotional remembering that day. Boissonneault learned that his daughter had a rare disorder that caused epilepsy, and when pharmaceutical medications failed to cure her seizures, he turned to CBD oil, a non-psychoactive substance in marijuana.

“It’s been two years now and she hasn’t had a seizure,” Boissonneault said, standing next to rows of pungent marijuana plants under glowing white lights. “That’s what got me involved in this. It’s quite personal. … The only profit it gives me is the joy of seeing my daughter smile.”

– Read the entire article at CTV News.