Weed People profiles personalities from America’s weed sector -- activists, entrepreneurs, academics, and innovators -- that push legalization forward. This week, professional extraction technician JJ Chamberlain.
The economic boom of Colorado’s newly-legal weed industry has been repeatedly compared to the Gold Rush, and there are certainly many ostensible weed entrepreneurs aiming to strike it rich. Behind the scenes are legions of passionate professionals who have made cannabis a career by building expertise in the various roles that the industry demands. Crafts like cultivation, cooking and extracting concentrates have become integral parts of production and, much like any other industry today, companies seek out the best personnel they can find.
JJ Chamberlain is a professional extraction technician who has processed concentrates and made edibles for a number of companies in the Denver area. Since the rise of the legal cannabis trade, he has honed his craft. He was an early adopter of the closed loop extraction system and is continuously improving his techniques. Here, JJ gives us a perspective on legalization from a professional inside its first booming industry.
HIGH TIMES: Describe your involvement with cannabis in all aspects, personal, professional, etc.
JJ Chamberlain: Professionally, I've made edibles and hash at a number of companies including Dixie Elixirs and Beyond Mars/Huxley's Concentrates. I was involved with the production of the Motherboard documentary <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhTYI3DeNgA” target=”_blank”>High Country</a>. I've worked at dispensaries as well. The first time I ever smoked I was at a park one night in high school. I coughed and a red hot geyser of weed flew out of the highlighter pipe. It was the first hit and the last of the weed that night. I owed my buddies after that. She's been a botanical ally ever since.
HT: How is state-level legalization affecting your cannabis-related activities?
JC: The state shut down Beyond Mars on April 1st. A lot of us lost our place in the industry. They shut down quite a few places that day. I thought a shutdown would involve SWAT teams and kicking down doors and getting on the ground now. But they just sent us an email.
HT: What are some of the victories of state-level legalization in your area?
JC: Full-on legalization, of course. Thank you voters and thank you federal government for honoring the rights of the states… for now, at least. It's an unspoken reality that it all may get shut down one day. Until cannabis is rescheduled, my job is a federal crime. Good job to the state for regulating the dosage of edibles. Some were absurdly and irresponsibly overmedicated.
HT: What are some of the failures of state-level legalization in your area?
JC: I can't really think of any. The state regulators have done a fantastic job and should be a model for others. If I had to pick one, I'd say the biggest uproar recently was that you couldn't smoke weed at the symphony. That's as fascist as it gets out here.
HT: Do you believe the federal government is making progress towards decriminalization or legalization?
JC: I know the American people are definitely coming around. I'm interested to see what our candidates have to say about it 2016 because it will be an issue especially among younger voters. They may actually vote.
HT: How long, do you predict, before weed is completely legal in America?
JC: 25 years at least. Don't forget about Texas. Did you see about that poor kid facing life in jail for hash cookies? They're got their own idea of what's moral down there.
HT: How long, do you predict, before weed is completely legal in the world?
JC: You make me king of the world, I'll make it legal.
HT: What is the biggest challenge facing legalization on a state level?
JC: The logistics of tracking from seed to sale. Actually, Colorado just came out with a new system on Jan 1st that does a very, very good job of this. I didn't know how they were going to do it and I was very impressed. Other states will adopt it. Also, gotta keep the criminals out. Colorado is doing well at this too.
HT: A national level?
JC: When it gets there there will be very few challenges because cannabis will be like alcohol or cigarettes. The hemp industry will create some political enemies though, since it will outcompete less sustainable industries that have more political clout than social relevance.
HT: The global level?
JC: That's a tough one for cannabis. Bacon is still illegal in some countries.