Time for a trim: John Rotherham's relatives help out with bud trimming at his Nature's Herbs & Wellness Center in Garden City. From left, aunt Judy Gochenour, mom Mary, dad John Rotherham and uncle Elmer Gochenour work the morning shift on December 17, 2013. (Joe Amon, The Denver Post)

Cannabist Q&A: Harvest time, 420-friendly lodging, joint-rolling contest

Welcome to our Ask The Cannabist column. Clearly you have questions about marijuana, be it a legal concern, a health curiosity, a Colorado-centric inquiry or something more far-reaching. Check out our expansive, 100-question Colorado marijuana FAQ first, and if you’re still curious, email your question to Ask The Cannabist at askthecannabist@gmail.com.

Hey, Cannabist! 
I am a newbie and never grew pot before this year. When I harvest, shall I remove the whole plant by the roots and clear the soil or shall I cut the branches and leave the stem to grow again next season? Also, I want to extract the hash oil from my plants. Do I need to cure the sensimilla and dry it or can I use the solvents directly after harvest? –Green Thumb

Hey, Green!
How did your harvest turn out? To answer your questions, I asked Scott Reach, who cultivates for his Colorado-licensed marijuana seed company Rare Dankness. For harvesting, Reach says the whole plant is removed. Go ahead and pull the roots, it is not typical to save the stalk.

The primary reason to save the stalk and regrow the same plant is when the plant has special genetics you don’t want to lose, Reach says. Genetic cuttings can be made when the plant is in a vegetative state. According to Reach, sometimes a cloning cut wasn’t taken during the previous vegetative cycle or the clone mother is lost. Indoor growers can regenerate a plant by leaving some foliage at the bottom of the plant and placing it under constant light.

For making hash out of the trim, you can dry the plant material or fresh-freeze it. Reach recommends fresh-frozen trim, a popular new technique for making extremely high-end bubble hash.  To fresh freeze at harvest time, Reach instructs: “Remove stems and fan leaves, basically as much non-glandular plant material as possible, then place trim in a deep freezer immediately.”  The same method of trim prep applies to making solvent-based extractions.

I strongly suggest making water-based hash or using a food-based extraction method instead of making a solvent-based hash at home.   Concentrate manufacturing at home can be dangerous and there are new rules on the way in Denver with restrictions on using butane or other gases. Water, bubble, or ice hash is a mechanical separation of the THC, and it is a much safer extraction method than using flammable solvents, which also may be diluted with additives. Reach agrees: “Leave it to the professionals. I’d recommend not attempting without a closed-loop system and a properly trained operator.”  XO

Home growing: Yes, it’s called weed, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to grow. Professional growers give an overview of the costs and logistics, the botany, the harvest and more.

Direct from Amsterdam: Five tips on growing your own marijuana at home

Hey, Cannabist!
Is there a place to stay for three to five days while in Colorado that will allow recreational smoking? –Bhang Boarder

Hey, Bhang!
Yes, there are a growing number of  toker-friendly accommodations in Colorado.  It’s not a wise option to smoke in just any hotel room. Last year, the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act was amended to include marijuana smoking, so public buildings, like hotels, cannot legally allow indoor marijuana smoking unless in designated smoking areas. Here’s a brief rundown of appropriate options.

In Denver, My420Tours has a block of smoking rooms in a downtown Denver hotel. The Bud & Breakfast at the Adagio (1430 Race St.) is another marijuana-friendly option.

In the mountains, Bud & Breakfast has another location in Silverthorne. This B&B features Grateful Dead-themed suites named after band members. (What, no Pigpen Suite?!)  Over in Ouray, the Ouray Main Street Inn has openly advertised its marijuana smoker-friendly policy, and in Pagosa Springs, The First Inn did the same.

If you want other accommodations in Denver or elsewhere in Colorado, try Airbnb. This rental service connects hosts to renters needing a room or home to stay. 420 friendly, cannabis or marijuana friendly are the key search terms for finding places that allow marijuana consumption. Hope you enjoy your stay! XO

Denver pot tourism guide: Useful info for toking travelers — where to go, getting around, scoring some bud, eats and entertainment

A cautionary tale: Don’t leave pot in your Denver hotel room after checkout

Hey, Cannabist!
As a way to promote the launch of my new website, I want to post an online joint-rolling challenge. Users post a video of themselves rolling a joint and the most perfect joint wins a prize.  I know I am asking people to commit a crime and basically post evidence of their crime on the Internet. But shouldn’t something like a signed “agreement” protect me from the feds? If participating users agree that they are 18+ and are legal in a medical or recreational marijuana state, is that enough to protect me from any liability or fines from the federal gov’t?  What if I told users to roll with tobacco instead of marijuana? –Pato Promoter

Hey, Promoter!
Wow, what a modern question!  In the changing legal landscape of marijuana, you have to consult an attorney before doing anything. I turned to marijuana business attorney Lauren Davis for her perspective in this situation.

Davis recommends hiring a lawyer to draft a full contest waiver. In addition, Davis suggests the contest site needs a gated access question before someone can enter the contest or upload video. The waiver language needs to be along the lines of: “I certify I am a legal medical marijuana patient or the substance I am rolling is not illegal to use or possess in the state where I am engaging in this activity.”

Next, the online joint-rolling contest needs an acknowledgement of the federal laws. Davis recommends a notice reminding visitors and contestants that all marijuana use and possession is illegal under federal law and a checkbox with an agreement to indemnify and hold you harmless for any actions taken against the joint roller for participation in the contest, including prosecution.

Ultimately, Davis says, “nothing can give you absolute protection from federal liability.” If the feds want to bust your online joint-rolling contest, they can, all right? All right.

There are many possibilities for competition categories for your spliff-spinning contest — fastest, thickest, longest, and even free form! Usually the joint’s proper functionality is part of judging the contest, but there’s no way to compare how well the joints draw air from your virtual perspective. Anyway, you will definitely want some rules, it  makes the contest more fun.

I’ve seen exciting joint-rolling contests and I’ve also been to a boring joint-rolling contest where it seemed like there were no rules at all and the contestants were rolling and rolling and nothing seemed to be getting done. I couldn’t figure it out and the contest emcee had no idea either, it was dull. Don’t be dull, make up some fun rules and contest categories and give a lot of points for personal style. Good luck! XO

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Blue-ribbon weed: The 2014 Denver County Fair had a joint-rolling contest (using oregano) and a munchie-eating contest