From Ukraine with Love of Money by i502drew

Hey guys! Lots to talk about. Much ado about nothing, really, but let’s see if we can sort it out. The issues that I’m bringing to light are real whether or not I’ve actually found the smoking gun here. This industry has a long way to go before it can say it’s concerned for public safety and it’s gonna take a lot more than free merchandise to brush me off.

Several days ago, I placed an online order at Greenside Rec in Seattle for Sour Diesel Breath by Inflorescence. What I thought would be a great product to compare to Rouge Raven’s Lambsbread turned out to be a cheap gaff that didn’t deliver, but my primary concern was that it came in what Inflorescence now calls “White Label” packaging (despite what Greenside reps stated on my Instagram, this term doesn’t appear on the menu, check for yourself). Here’s the bag I bought and a picture of Inflorescence’s normal packaging. My first reaction was, of course, to prepare an extra layer of tinfoil for my hat and contact Inflorescence to see what they had to say. I had a brief, confusing, conversation with their Instagram account which I can’t post here because I’ve since been blocked by @Inflorescence. The conversation went approximately like this:

Me: Hey, do you guys happen to sell any products in clear plastic bags with white labels and black text?

Them: Where did you buy it?

Me: You tell me first, sexy ūüėČ

**note: a wild “yesno” appears**

Them: No we don’t. Only in locations X and Y.

Me: I wasn’t at either of those locations, but maybe it was somehow transferred between stores?

Them: Were you in Puyallup or Seattle?

Me: I wasn’t in Puyallup. I’m just trying to make sure nobody is screwing over your brand name. Sounds like there might be something going on?

Them: What’s your address? I’ll send some free merch. [Insert offers to “make it right”, find me better weed, etc]

Me: I only do first dates in public settings, but thank you.

Them: Are you sure you don’t want to do unpaid marketing for our brand?! That’s the prize for findin’ me lucky schwagg sack!

Me: I’m more interested in the origins/packaging/delivery of this subpar product under the Inflorescence brand of flower. The normal stuff is bomb! Them: Yeah man sorry, it’s just some stuff left over from the Phat Panda merger awhile back.

Me: Okay no worries, man.

Immediately after this conversation I double check the fins on my tin foil hat to make sure they are positioned properly. They are. Left over from a merger?¬†Maybe I just need to pack a bigger bowl.¬†I power through about a gram of herb that smells like it came from grandma’s pantry and take a moment to assess the situation. If you told me that I just smoked oregano and basil leaves cleverly disguised as marijuana, I’d be impressed, but I’d still reach for some real weed because oregano and basil aren’t known for their intoxicating vapors. I digress. My real curiousity lies in what the purported “merger” had to do with what I bought. . .

You see, there’s a lot of things that happen in commercial industries that consumers aren’t supposed to notice. For example, the conspicously affordable gluten-free, vegan, or organic product that your grocery store carries was probably made by a subsidiary of the same parent company that makes the regular version which you so despise. Or, if you’re more into electronics, the likes of T-mobile, Verizon, Sprint, all use the same cellphone towers, let’s say AT&T’s. When Verizon wants to run an ad campaign, AT&T delegates a dedicated portion of the towers to Verizon, thereby convincing people to break their contract with Sprint, which just lost a portion of its tower power. Once all you suckers sign up for Verizon and pay Sprint the contract fees, it’ll be time to run an ad campaign for T-mobile, and Verizon will suck just as bad as Sprint did when you made the switch. But you guys have a general sense of how that all works, right? Regardless, you can probably guess which beloved industry of mine isn’t immune to this sort of capitalistic puppet show. . .

To Troll or Not to Troll?

Two days after my conversation with @Inflorescence, I purchase some Pink Pomelo from Royal Tree Gardens to hold me over and realize I’ve nearly burned through my weekly weed budget. And it’s only Wednesday. Gotta love the no return policy at Washington State cannabis retailers. Knowing that I’m a weed snob, I offered my broke roommate a gram and he didn’t even smoke all of it before schlepping to the store and spending his lunch money on some decent smoke. Damn. I should probably put up a notice on my website or something. That’s what I bought it for, after all.¬† Being the investigative¬†genius troll that I am, I sprinkled the words “accountable”, “traceability”, and “bullied” into the product alert in the hopes of invoking comments that might explain what had happened. Little did I know, those words were about to make me an enemy of more than just a single weed brand.

By the way, I’d like to note that Phat Panda hasn’t replied to any of this. It’s very frustrating to a passionate asshole such as myself to be stonewalled when I feel like I’m on the brink of delivering the sweet taste of truth and justice to the helpless lot of folks known as consumers. I’ve imagined the mob-connected (I could be wrong, remember?) MMJ license holders in Illinois laughing at my attempts to discredit their familiarity with decent hash oil. It’s not so much that they’re stumped by me, it’s that my “agenda” collapses without being able to counter a response from them. They’re calling my bluff because we both know they hold all the Kings and Aces. And Queens and Jacks. That’d probably be why they say “Don’t feed the trolls”: we just might get a peek at what’s in that poker hand. Everybody that reached out to me, however, reacted like Donald Trump addressing CNN reporters or Monsanto responding to evidence that their products are carcinogenic. Did I come across the perfect recipe for trollbait? Before I get to the imitation meat of this post, I’ll fill you in on one of my ongoing concerns about the legal marijuana business in Washington State.

The Kremlin Connection

Get a load o’ that, aye. The Putin-backing Brotherhood might have it’s hands into Washington’s billion dollar drug industry? Yup, we’re going there. And yes, I have a hunch that Greenside Recreational and Phat Panda know all about it. Actually, I’d say it’s improbable that any of the businesses making top 10 sales lists aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about. There’s a lot of history behind this, but here’s a super simplification: John F. Kennedy killed “The Mob” in America. The Mob killed him, but it was already too late. The iron grip that organized crime syndicates in Chicago had on commercial business in the western United States began to slip, and foreign interests coming out of Asia and eastern Europe got their first real taste of American manifest destiny flowing into (or out of) the ports of California, Oregon, Washington, as well as Alaska and other parts of North America. So just what can a bunch of Russian mobsters from the Ukraine have to do with my dismay at purchasing a lousy sack of weed?

It’s simple, really. Control the real estate and you control the industry. Donald Trump knows that, Semion Mogilevich knows that, and so does every I-502 license holder. Imagine you’re both the landlord of a competing licensed grow and a stakeholder in your own, separate license. All you’re really doing is waiting for the other guys to suffocate under the limitations of the agreement they entered when you brokered their real estate lease. Of course, there’s laws against that sort of thing, but the prevailing law in all commercial business comes in the form of numbers on green paper, not “rules and regulations”. The reality is that ANY processing license can act as a broker of any product on the I-502 market. Real estate king pin or not, all it takes is some cash to become a powerful influencer in the legal marijuana business. Add on the real estate ownership, and you’ve now got the ability to evict your competition if they don’t play subordinate. Among other things of course.

There’s a million possible schemes we could talk about, but maybe it’s best I don’t accidentally uncover that smoking gun just this minute. Anyway, here’s one imaginative way that a solid brand like Inflorescence ends up selling me some seedy weed: A parent company like Phat Panda uses their purchasing power and discreet retail connections to transfer inventory around Washington State and sell it under various subsidiary brands. Maybe they bought it from a a farm that just went under, who knows. Having that partnership without violating the state’s “party of interest” rules is tricky, but certainly not impossible (weed growers just so happen to be bad at writing legal paychecks). But when these touchy extralegal partnerships go so far as to hide the true origin of a product, whether it be part of a recall, or a lot that failed lab testing, or anything else deemed unsaleable that’s being assimilated into the traceability system, there could be significant cause for alarm in the public health sector. This IS happening and there’s nobody in high level sales at Phat Panda, Labs of Dabstract, or any other industry giant that doesn’t know about it. Of course, this is all my opinion, right? I could be wrong.

Let’s Get to the Facts

Amidst a flurry of personal insults that berated my intentions as an advocate, insinuated I know nothing about marijuana, or otherwise dismissed my integrity as a person, I learned a thing or two from watching a few of the industry’s key players respond to my “wild allegations”. All in all, their knee-jerk reactions were to bribe, belittle, and threaten to sue me when I didn’t roll over and take down my “complaining on the internet” in exchange for a free hat. You don’t have the facts, they say! That may be true now, but how long can that last? The state legislature will soon take over the rule making process and I heard their pockets are deeper than the LCB employees’.¬†Just how much of this market can be monopolized before people start to talk? I’ve been chatting it up with licenses holders and their employees since 2015 and there’s no shortage of rumors and anonymous tips in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, or anywhere else that I’ve brought my notepad and tin foil hat.

Before I show you one measly piece of evidence, let’s recap. I bought some weed at Greenside Recreational, which could be very familiar with the real estate moguls I’m speaking of. You know, the Northwest corporation that provides Solutions to Cannabis businesses? Anyway, based on the unusual packaging and dried up contents coming from the brand name Inflorescence, I advised the @Inflorescence Instagram account about my curious purchase. Mistaking my complaint for one of a schmuck looking for freebies, that’s just what I was offered. Not what I’m looking for, but luckily the poor guy talking to me on Instagram let the words “Phat Panda” and “merger” slip out as excuses for the quality control lapse. Later on, after making my product alert post, I was contacted by one of the sales managers for Greenside Recreational. He was also slow to understand that I wasn’t looking for freebies, but when he did, he couldn’t make up his mind about whether or not my “little conspiracy” was true or not. If it’s such a wild allegation that there was a merger between Phat Panda and Labs of Dabstract, then what “merger” are you referring to here?

I find it funny that four people, claiming to be from totally independent companies, all spoke among each other before contacting me with the identical rhetoric. If Greenside doesn’t have any partnership with Phat Panda or Inflorescence, you guys sure get to gossiping REAL quick about the private conversations I’ve had with each of you. Okay, fine, I’ll let it go. But it does make me wonder, where did that $20,000 of Sour Diesel Breath that Phat Panda sold in July of 2017 end up?

To be Continued. . .

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