Photos: Christopher O'Coin
Is America going green? Not that green—the other green. Both Washington State and Colorado recently approved measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use, leaving a chorus of researchers, entrepreneurs, medicinal pot users, policy makers, and stone-cold stoners alike to say that America, the No. 1 consumer and grower of cannabis, is passing the point of no return into a post-prohibitive dawn.
What sort of leading-edge grow and extraction technologies, then, stand to propel this budding domestic market? How will those technologies scale up? What effect will that have on an already dizzying science of strains? And who's going to make all the money? Because there's always money. Right?
For the past few days we've been running around Denver, Colorado, home of this year’s High Times Cannabis Cup. We're sinking into what some are calling the Silicon Valley of Weed, shooting an upcoming Motherboard documentary. We can't say much more beyond that, but here are a few hits to tide you over.
Waxes, oils and myriad other dab-based cannabis products are literally everywhere. This extraction system is the brainchild of ExtractionTek Solutions.
All this trim would be pumped through ET's unique extraction process, images of which are being published here for the first time.
This is what you get. This is a batch of cheese dabs.
And here's some propane wax.
The set up.
Propane wax. This stuff stank.
Nick Hice, co-owner and lead grow technician with Denver Relief (reportedly Denver's oldest medical marijuana dispensary) inspects high-grade medicinal bud at an undisclosed grow house. The grow houses well over 1,000 plants--from Headband to land-race Durban Poison to DR's famed BioJesus.
Chris Gill is part machine, part Prince, all vibes.
In some hilarious twist, it just so happened to be harvest at Denver Relief's grow. On the docket were heaps and heaps of impossibly sticky AK-47. This damp lawn dart had to have weighed a good two pounds.
Weighing AK in the DR harvest wing.
Prim stalks of AK, racked and drying.
Head north out of Denver and you'll find Dale Chamberlain, head of the High Altitude School of Hydroponics. Chamberlain is a former NASA botanist who worked on extreme-grow chambers that rocketed into space on a few Shuttle missions, and at one point took up shop at the International Space Station. With HASH, Chamberlain is taking what he learned building astronaut refrigerators and fusing it with a lifelong green thumb to bring an energy and water efficient, maximum-yield grow tank to the masses. He calls it the Colorado Grow Box.
Chamberlain insists that HASH doesn't sell or distribute weed. They sell the tools for everyday folks to grow the stuff. "Gold rush, you know?" Chamberlain told me. "Sell picks and shovels."
The Grow Box's automated hydroponics pretty much means that growing high-grade bud on blistering 45-day cycles is as low maintenace as checking on your plants once every seven days. Pictured here is a weeks' old sprout of a little something Chamberlain is calling Dr. Pepper.
And here's their latest, Skittles.
Next up, Cannabis Cup. We'll report back from the other side.