Kiona – Uptown Piff

Happy Thanksgiving! I thought I’d be posting about my new Vuber Pilot Vape and Puffin Farms CO2 Cartridge but, truthfully, the few days I gave myself to evaluate them isn’t nearly enough to leave me any impressions worth describing in detail. I’m excited about both products, but today I’d like to share my thoughts on this:

Kiona THC has got the marketing to win me over. Their Instagram feed captures beautiful cannabis plants with taglines about ‘tropical’ and ‘heirloom’ cannabis. That type of descriptor has become uncomfortably scarce in recreational markets. In fact, I’ve found that a substantial portion of the commercial cannabis industry still leans toward believing that “strain names” are more or less a hoax. For example, the founder and publisher of Marijuana Venture magazine, Greg James, recently told employees at Herb n’ Elements that hiring knowledgeable budtenders is akin to “hiring alcoholics to run a liquor store”. Okay, wow- am I the only one that appreciates the advice of a borderline alcoholic for drink suggestions? 

Don’t get me wrong– it’s no mystery why that would be the case. Post-Prohibition bars also lacked the selection of local and house varieties that flourished in the days before federal licensing. Both then and now, venture capitalists and their entrepreneurial partners have faced the challenge of sustaining rapid growth into vastly bigger markets than before or during prohibition. What’s different about marijuana legalization now is the significant development that state-level businesses have done without federal licensing OR the possibility of federal prosecution (see Rohrabacher Amendment). Check out this excerpt from The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau’s website regarding America’s Post-Prohibition legal landscape:

Federal Alcohol Administration Act of 1935

Historical Background

The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution, repealing Prohibition, achieved ratification with unanticipated speed by December 5, 1933, catching Congress in recess. As an interim measure to manage a burgeoning legitimate alcohol industry, by executive order under the National Industrial Recovery Act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Federal Alcohol Control Administration (FACA). FACA, in cooperation with the Departments of Agriculture and Treasury, endeavored to guide wineries and distilleries under a system based on brewers’ voluntary codes of fair competition. FACA was relieved of its burden and effectively vanished from history after just twenty months, when President Roosevelt signed the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act in August 1935 and Treasury once more found itself regulating the alcohol industry.

Although Prohibition was officially over, the era’s lingering effects continued to shape the federal policies for decades. On March 10, 1934, Justice’s Prohibition enforcement duties folded into the infant Alcohol Tax Unit (ATU), Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of the Treasury. At the same time, Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA), functioning independently within Treasury, was carrying forward its mandate to collect data, to establish license and permit requirements, and define the regulations that ensure an open, fair marketplace for the alcohol industry and the American consumer. In 1940, FAA as an administration merged with the ATU, but the FAA Act continues today as part of the foundation of TTB’s enabling legislation.”

For more history, read the TBB’s autobiography or, for the avid reader, the legislative history of the FAA. To paraphrase, the parts of The New Deal legislation that still regulate the alcohol industry today (including bottle shape and size, standardized labeling, licensed import and distribution, etc.) were passed in 1935 to protect the alcohol industry from organized crime, but from Prohibition’s repeal in 1933 until then, the industry was ‘guided’ by “a system based on brewers’ voluntary codes of fair competition.” Hmmmmmm, who else thinks that sounds like a medical marijuana dispensary?

So what does this have to do with Kiona THC’s Uptown Piff? Well, for one, Kiona’s future seems about as uncertain as a specialty brewer’s secret homemade recipe was in 1933. Uptown Piff’s branchy, brownish appearance probably doesn’t look like a slam dunk to somebody like Greg James from Marijuana Venture. But is there more to it? Of course! For one, it has the type of charm that hopefully makes it into the federally licensed cannabis sales of the future. Before I get to reviewing the weed, I want to talk about a particular aspect of that charm, namely the wax seal.

Wax seals of various sorts have been used for a thousand years or more to not only brand trade goods, but sign documents and art. During Prohibition, clandestine brewers and distillers looked to distinguish their beverages from the rest of the bootleg market without using commercial packaging that might lead the Feds back to the outlaw business. In the case of Washington’s legal cannabis market, anonymous branding is no longer necessary, but you’d still expect sealed, tamper-proof containers to be ubiquitously used, right? They aren’t (even though that’s “the law”, like FACA above) and that’s a small but very serious concern for cannabis consumers.

I’ll give you an example from Golden Tree Productions:

This prerolled joint from Golden Tree Productions went for five bucks at Grass (during my first ever budtender interview, the hiring manager at Grass admitted to me that my knowledge was appealing because she “only got the job” after “meeting [the manager] at the club”, but I digress) a few weeks after Freya Farm’s voluntary recall back in July. Freya Farms was a major supplier of clones for Golden Tree Productions, as well as Fresh Productions and others (have I mentioned that they evicted their entire grow team on the same day they unexpectedly fired all of them? Dammit, I’m digressing again), and the above product supposedly would have replaced a recalled one.

Better packaging would’ve given me more confidence about the integrity of this product after a recall. That probably goes without saying, though, and really, it’s not just about recalls. What’s the point of a traceability system if there’s no tamper-proof lid or sealing strip? If a person can get to the product by simply opening and closing a ziplock-style plastic baggy, the UBI sticker and barcode don’t mean all that much. Even WITH a seal, a steady-handed sticker slapper can easily swap stickers on sealed products, but at least that’s tedious and impractical. To me, packaging like this screams “we still think weed should be sold without taxes out of big mason jars” or “we’re wringing out this market for everything we can until it’s regulated”.

Okay, let’s turn this rambling into some advice before moving on. Cannabis brands that forgo basic consumer protections like sealed containers and tamper-proof sticker placement have no place in my stash. Not only are they illegal, but they open the door for lousy quality and contamination issues, as well. All you non-Chicagoans know why over-the-counter pills have cotton balls in them, yeah? Look for products that make it obvious when tampering has occurred. So anyway… who’s got five on it? Just kidding, this joint is strictly a museum piece. Now, back to the regularly scheduled product reviews.

Phew, now for the fun part! The wonderful jar of Uptown Piff came from The Partakery (love that store!). The awesome dudes who work there let me take home one of these:

If there is ever a time to use the expression ‘Neato!’ it comes while flipping through the pages of the Kiona THC strain guide. Oh baby, I can hardly believe my eyes. This book might as well have the magic power to make this awful rain go away, but then again who cares about rain if this is the weed you’re smoking! This won’t be the last time you see a page from this booklet on my blog or Instagram, but for now, you’ll have to visit The Partakery or another one of Kiona THC’s retailers to find this booklet! Here’s the page on Uptown Piff:


With descriptions like that, my reviews are really put into perspective. Damn Kiona, what am I supposed to say now? Here goes: Simply put, this is what a real sativa-dominant hybrid is. In today’s market, you might as well call it a pure sativa. It’s beyond me how Wall Street manages to power down on something like Sour Diesel and still make it through the day, but I’d reckon NYC Haze had it’s hey day with money-makers in the Big Apple. And back then, Wall Street wasn’t fucking everything up (quite so bad). Will somebody please send some of this to our beloved financially elite stoners so they can put down that wannabe sativa and start thinking straight again!

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