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Dama Financial – The Banking Solution for Cannabis Businesses



Although cannabis businesses are legal at the state level, they are still extremely hindered when it comes to financial options and safe hemp banking systems. Inefficiencies are still heavily associated with cash-intensive cannabis operations, even as the legal industry expands. This is where Dama Financial comes in, as the leading provider of access to banking and payment solutions, it can arrange for safe and insured financial services for cannabis-related businesses. Dama Financial has not only solved a huge bank account problem in the industry, by sourcing compliant and sustainable FDIC-Insured banks but also has created an inclusive turn-key financial service.

Led by seasoned veterans of the financial services industry, Dama Financial is pioneering a new industry with old and trusted techniques. Dama’s leaders all have extensive experience in banking and financial services – bringing two different financial services companies public before this venture. They are leading the way with Dama Financial with trusted and simple access to financial infrastructure and safe banking services to ensure cannabis company success.

Sourcing and providing access to FDIC-insured business bank accounts for cannabis industry businesses is not a simple task. Banks are still apprehensive about the transition, but Dama Financial uses their experience and relationships to source compliant and sustainable banks. They find banks who are interested in working with participants in the cannabis industry and help them with the steps and processes they need to move forward – making it easier and more comfortable for the banks. Chief Revenue Officer Eric Kaufman told us, “Sourcing the banks was the most difficult thing to do,” but they were able to prevail. Now cannabis companies can feel confident knowing their money is always theirs and have no fear of sudden shutdowns because they are in the cannabis business.

Along with access to banking services, Dama Financial provides flexible merchant processing, safe business payments and cash management, online marketplace trading, and CashToTax services. Compliant and safe online banking accounts allow cannabis businesses to manage their finances with no limits on cash, ACH, or wire deposits. If you are using bitcoin for trading you may want to check out helpful trading sites such as to see which is the best path in building upon your bitcoin.

Paytender Payment Processing allows retailers to accept electronic payments instore, online, or at delivery. Dama Financial developed this advanced technology to create a seamless payment experience, which creates a quality customer experience and increases sales. Their scan-and-go technology adds ease to every part of the ordering and checkout process. Paytender has predictable and straightforward fees, same-day settlements, and no rolling reserves or NSF risks. You can also view your company’s sales performance and identify trends with digital visual reports.

With cash-intensive businesses, like cannabis, business payments and cash management can pose significant safety risks. Dama Financial’s online technology allows inclusive control of payments to employees and customers. Businesses can track and request cash or electronic payments via online invoices, including terms and due dates. This creates a hassle-free way to transact confidently. Companies can schedule convenient, armored cash pickups with secure and quick deposits. Monitor your deposits anytime and anywhere with mobile access. You can even accommodate your partners’ cash payments with security and ease. Moving money around online is a lot easier for businesses these days, however, it’s important to ensure that all payments are in the correct currency to ensure companies aren’t giving away more or less than they need to be. By using a business wire transfer, cannabis businesses can exchange the currency of their money to ensure it’s correct. As the business grows, it’s likely that they’ll need to start accepting and sending international payments, so wire transfers can be useful for that purpose. Hopefully, this will allow more cannabis businesses to expand into different countries.

Companies also have the option to apply for an account for the Cannabis Commodity Trading System. Dama Financial provides a safe way to transact with licensed cannabis and hemp wholesalers and distributors; companies can make payments for orders on online marketplaces. Before there was no secure way to settle online, now cannabis businesses no longer have to deal with the risk associated with traditional in-person methods.

Dama Financial even looks out for your business when it comes to taxes. Their CashToTax accounts are quick and easy to sign up for, take the cash off your hands, and instantly schedule electronic tax payments. This makes just one more step of your business that much easier.

All of the above and more can be controlled online, in one place, saving time and creating a more efficient business. Dama Financial is transparent and sustainable, with no hidden charges and a simple fee schedule for each business. Dama Financial exceeds the compliance and regulatory requirements for servicing high-risk businesses using innovative technology, data, and artificial intelligence. They are dedicated to providing equal opportunity to those in the cannabis industry as it rapidly expands.

Learn more about DAMA Financial at and follow them on Instagram & @paytender, Facebook @DamaFinancial or Twitter @DamaFinancial.

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Company Spotlight

To the Moon – Dr. Zodiak’s Moonrocks Is Going National and Beyond



The MoonRocks name and brand have become so globally ubiquitous that casual cannabis and hip-hop fans may assume that they were extracted directly from the lunar surface to get mankind stonier than ever before. Dr. Zodiak, Creator of the original MoonRocks, can assure you that while the backstory may be slightly less cosmic, it is still completely out-of-this-world.
Dr. Zodiak got his creative start with a BA in film from Cal State University Los Angeles, graduating with honors. His talent and eye for production helped him establish the entertainment industry connections that led him to his most ambitious project yet; in 2011 Dr. Zodiak produced a cage fighting event for a sold-out crowd of 14,000 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. “Cage Vs. Cons” aka Cops Vs. Cons was an event that put active Police Officers in the cage against ex-convicts — hosted by Danny “Machete” Trejo and actor Tom Lister Jr. (Debo from Friday). The event consisted of live hip hop entertainment from the likes of E40, B-Real of Cypress Hill, Too Short, Psycho Realm, Ras Kass, Shabazz The Disciple of Gravediggaz & more, with the intensity culminating with the spectacle of cops fighting convicts in the cage MMA style. 

It was at that event that Doctor Z met Kurupt and launched the MoonRock empire with their first line, in 2013. The original MoonRock method involves glazing top shelf indoor flower in cannabis oil (live resin) and dousing it in golden kief, leaving a product with insane 50% and higher THC levels. Though often imitated, no one has managed the viral and global marketing success of Dr. Zodiak’s original product, which has now won multiple High Times Cannabis Cup and other prestigious industry awards.

When rapper and long-time weed lover Snoop Dogg first tried Moon Rocks, he used social media to express his love for the product. He promoted it heavily on his Instagram and Youtube, introducing the phrase ‘MoonRocked out’ while clowning on friends like Bow Wow passed out in his studio, and Wiz Khalifa passed out at the airport after overestimating their tolerance for that massive dose of THC. From there, the brand went global, now stacking up over a BILLION YouTube views combined, through songs that include mentions and praise for MoonRocks. Artists who have shouted out MoonRocks include Cardi B, who said, “I’m moonwalkin’ in the 6, sticky with the kick, MoonRocks in this b–ch” in her hit Bartier Cardi. Snoop Dogg (of course), Kodak Black, XXXTentacion, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, 21 Savage, Nav, Juice WRLD, Mobb Deep, Roddy Ricch, Lil Uzi Vert, Brotha Lynch Hung, Money Man, Yung Lean, and the legendary Wu-Tang are just some of the influential artists who have spread the massive global impact of – and hunger for – MoonRocks. At this point, Dr. Zodiak’s only barrier to the massive global market hungry for his products is the remaining anti-business, anti-science, and anti-human laws that still restrict cannabis from the vast majority of his fans.

Though they aren’t yet reaching every market that they hope to someday soon, the anticipated re-launch of MoonRocks in California is now in full effect, as Dr. Zodiak describes. “We’re partnered with Sea Bright Farms located in Long Beach and are servicing dispensaries throughout California with MoonRocks, MoonWalk, Dr. Zodiak & MoonRock pre-rolls, Megablunts, and introducing new products as well, like Dr. Zodiak’s MoonRock Sauce Carts, Bobby Blues Brownies, Silverback, Razzle Dazzle, Lynwood Lemonade, & Lion Heart Clear.” Doctor Z also teases the upcoming launch of MoonRock Ice – which will replace the kief that the rocks are usually rolled in with pure THC-A. All of these new products coming out wouldn’t be possible without my Visual Blast & MoonRock Family hitting the pavement hard, daily! He and his team are also building partnerships across the country, in legal markets that now include Arizona, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oklahoma, Florida, and Michigan. They hope that Washington D.C. will cooperate with their national goals for themselves and cannabis access. “I’m hoping this year for a bill of federal cannabis legalization.” Dr. Z optimistically predicts. “I think we’ll be able to get more of the states and all the country legal very, very soon because there’s demand in every state and every country worldwide.” He hopes the effect that music and popular culture have had on the demand for cannabis – and specifically MoonRocks – will help them achieve the ultimate goals they knew were realistic since Snoop Dogg’s videos and their brand first spread from Southern California across the entire world. “Our main goal is going GLOBAL, PERIOD, and we will do that by partnering with the solidified manufacturers and distributors worldwide!” Recognizing that the legal access to cannabis markets and products are closer than they’ve ever been, Dr. Zodiak credits music as a path toward MoonRocks place in the spread of cannabis culture; “I feel like music was a big part of the push for the legalization of marijuana. And I think music and weed go hand in hand. There are many supporters of marijuana in the music community and the hip hop community, and that’s pushing the whole world to legalize it.” With millions of fans worldwide, and a growing American market eager to enjoy the products they’ve been rapping about for years, the future outlook for MoonRocks is bright and hazy.

Cannabis businesses and entrepreneurs interested in Dr. Zodiak’s MoonRock for out of state licensing, or to carry MoonRock products in dispensaries, please call 800-420-6957 or visit MoonRocks online at

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The Secret War Against Cannabis Prohibition



By Joseph Chicas & Amanda Carrillo

After decades of wars and domestic service, our U.S. Veterans stand strong as our nation’s pillars of hope, resiliency and patriotism. Over 19 million veterans currently live in the U.S. and are leaders various facets of political, social and economic life.

Nevertheless, physical and psychological injuries of service have been well documented and have led to significant national efforts to heal our all of our veterans and their families.

Our most recent generation of Post 9/11 veterans returned home, they were met with positive reception. Welcome home parades, veterans hiring fairs, and increased VA/community resources were existent across the nation. But underneath it all, service members who were lucky enough to return home came home with significant wounds –both visible and invisible. Physical injuries were rampant, due to unique war tactics such as suicide bombers and IED’s at unprecedented scale. Thousands lost limbs and many suffered from traumatic brain injuries not just through combat, but during training exercises.

Though up to one-third of veterans returned with such wounds, the vast majority have shown tremendous resiliency in their transition home and have made powerful assets to their community and local economies.

But for those who needed that extra support and more intensive services, unfortunately, our nation has failed on delivering its promises to our heroes. Despite strong efforts, the primary system set up to assist with veteran transition, the Veterans Affairs administration, has been ill equipped to serve our post-9/11 veteran community. The embattled agency has struggled meeting the unique needs, resulting in well-documented challenges plaguing the system: exorbitantly long wait-times, inability to prevent high suicide rates and inadequate mental health treatments. Gaps exposed have also adversely affected veterans other eras.

To tackle the physical and psychological needs of the veterans, the VA, like other health care systems, has primarily relied on harsh drugs such as opioid prescriptions. In a 2012 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that veterans with PTSD were two times more likely to receive an opioid prescription, and also at higher more frequent doses. Taken at scale this contributed to a generation of veterans hooked on pills. Eventually the VA changes its practices to significantly reduce its reliance on opioids. But for many veterans it was too late.

As this surge happened, recognition that these methods were doing more harm than good led to many veterans turning to other alternatives such as cannabis for natural healing. The Weed for Warriors story embodies this shift in our veterans’ consciousness as they coped with the harsh realities of transitioning from the military back to civilian life.

Why and How Was WFWP Founded?

Weed for Warriors was founded in 2014 by Kevin Richardson who turned to cannabis after attempting to commit suicide and leaning on the plant to alleviate the pain felt by him and millions of others. In a span of 30 days, Kevin was off opioids and alcohol. Cannabis offered a healthy alternative for him and he couldn’t wait to share the healing effects of the plant with others. But he knew fellowship was key. After-all, military service was about camaraderie and fellowship—something most veterans find missing when they return home. So he opened the first chapter of WFWP in San Jose and there the story began. With 8 chapters in California, 3 in Florida and “friendlies” near and as far as the UK and Australia, WFWP is leading the charge in providing veterans access to medical cannabis.

The mission was propelled when Kevin met Sean Kiernan at a Denver cannabis event in 2015. Kevin and Sean immediately clicked and aligned themselves on this vital mission. Sean, the current CEO, served in the U.S. Army and is a UC Berkeley graduate. He also worked as a Hedge Fund Manager on Wall Street before the white collar hypocrisy pushed him too far and his own service related injuries began to wear him down. Sean began working with the organization to fight for the rights of veterans and give a voice to the voiceless. He feels that although WFWP began primarily as a cannabis organization, it is also their duty as a group to bring awareness to the judicial and poverty issues surrounding veterans and the Veterans Administration.

Mark Carrillo, COO and Director of Chapters, began giving away cannabis from a personal garden in January 2015 under the name Meds4Vets. After joining the United States Marine Corps at age 17, Mark completed his enlistment in 2007 and found cannabis again after experiencing serious side-effects from alcoholism. When he realized how expensive and often unreliable the availability of medicine was, he eventually began to grow his own in order to ensure he was never without it. What started as helping himself and a few brothers, eventually encouraged him to help more in his community. He held his first gathering at a local dispensary and within 90 days of having meetings in Sacramento, CA, the group had outgrown the location; and as Kevin had seen, he realized the camaraderie was what brought veterans back over and over. After meeting Founder Kevin Richardson in 2015, the two began working together and Mark officially changed his Meds4Vets group to WFWProject Sacramento. Together, Kevin and Mark organized other veterans to develop all of the California chapters and then the additional Florida and Wisconsin chapters.

The Weed for Warriors moniker might seem playful and even ironic; after-all its providing weed for warriors! But make no mistake, this group means business. WFWP is operating at multiple levels to ensure that veterans get access to cannabis to alleviate the physical and psychological pain that affects them. They have closed a gap that an agency like that VA simply cant fill. Through their support networks, advocacy and entrepreneurial initiatives they lead by example. And they are well respected for their authentic approach to service –there is no question their mission on the home-front is as serious as their military battles. In fact, as it was in the battlefield, it’s still a matter of life or death.

As a Support Network

One on Sunday afternoon, we had the opportunity to drive up to the Stockton WFWP monthly meet-up alongside NUGL President, Ali Ganji. Veterans of all eras and of all ages were united together as they enjoyed some delicious prime rib fresh off the grill and their cannabis of choice. There was no judgment, just love. Veterans had traveled for hours to come down and join other vets to share war stories, vent about life circumstances and get lifted.

While hanging out and catching the magic, the NUGL team had the chance to meet several WFWP members. Without much hesitation, many went on to say how tough life had been post transition. Nobody understood what they had gone through and their relationships were just not the same. Several had lost a fellow patriot. All battled with substance abuse as the VA over -prescribed them pills (mainly for chronic pain) and struggled to curve their drinking. Most surprisingly, many said they seriously considered killing themselves because of the rampant PTSD, TBI, depression, substance abuse or other issues they experienced upon their transition home.

And yet throughout their battles, you couldn’t even tell. Cannabis, according to everyone we spoke to, was their life saver. Claims of cannabis normalizing their emotions and calming them down were made throughout conversations. In one instance, we had a profound conversation with a wife and veteran, Kim Yarbrough, where she even stated that “cannabis helped bring her husband back.” Till that point, he was not the same.

Kim’s husband Neil Yarbrough had been prescribed up to 28 pills at one point. His military service took an immense tool on his mind and body. After this transition home, his world was turned upside down. And he hit rock bottom when he attempted suicide. But cannabis saved him and once he turned to cannabis, things changed. He changed and for the better. He has a tattoo of the numbers “22” to remind him that he has 22 brothers and sisters that commit suicide everyday and he could have been one of them. But his strength and the love and support around him allow him to be here today. And now he is a success story and gets to enjoy fellowship with his WFWP members and of course his wife is happy to have her husband back.

Amanda Carillo, Mark’s wife and caregiver, also echoed similar sentiments when it came to her husband’s transition: “Cannabis is just a tool in the toolbox during the journey through wellness; you could have vitamins, exercises, hobbies… all as tools too. It’s a journey because influences around you shift, both slightly and drastically, and so you must adjust as well. There’s a misconception that cannabis patients are lazy or avoiding their issues, when in fact they’re using this tool to face them head on and get back to living.” says Mrs. Carrillo, who’s grandfathers, father, and brother are also veterans and members of WFWP.

Therein lies the special magic with WFWP. They are creating a space and sharing acceptance for a plant that had saved them. And for them, that sense of unity, of team, of family once felt in the military, they found at home. It’s on this front that Mark get’s most excited. For him its about providing veterans and their families “something to look forward to every month.

That space is sacred too – Mark ensures chapters and chapter leaders are prepared for the challenges they will face as they cultivate this space in other cities and stay true to the WFWP Mission.

As a Policy Advocate Powerhouse

At the macro level, WFWP is a force to be reckoned with. WFWP were strong advocates of the California Prop 215 system that allows them and others to provide free cannabis to patients who may be in need, but don’t have the economic means to purchase their medicine. For WFWP, providing access to cannabis for veterans is a social, economic and health equity issue.

When California voters passed Prop 64, WFWP came out in strong opposition against the initiative because they anticipated barriers to access medicine would increase exponentially. They were right. The costs of cannabis products has increased over 35% and 80 % of cities still do not allow for dispensary retail sales. While such issues are common pain points in the industry, WFWP wasn’t concerned about the financial bottom line. To them, their bottom line is that that veterans can no longer access affordable or free medicine to help with their ailments. It’s a health justice matter; as opiate and barbiturates statistics climb, veterans are demanding better options.

And for WFWP the passage of Prop 64 also meant they couldn’t legally provide free cannabis to their members who may need it. And though providing free cannabis might sound like a light mission for some; the gravity of this gift cannot be understated. The medicinal benefits of cannabis are well documented in international research and even in Dr. Sue Sisley, a renown researcher, suggests that cannabis may be able to offset symptoms of PTSD.

WFWP has also been on the front-lines in advocating for more research on the efficacy of medical cannabis. Sean knows this battle well and is working alongside researchers like Dr. Sisley to advance medical cannabis research. Research is key to eventually obtaining FDA approval for medical cannabis, which may be the final piece (besides descheduling) that will allow for veterans to get reimbursed by the VA for medical cannabis prescriptions. Doing so would bring significant health and financial relief to the millions of veterans that reportedly use medical cannabis to treat their service related injuries.

Furthermore, for WFWP Prop 64 exacerbated issues for veterans. In a letter addressed to Governor Gavin Newsom, Sean wrote: Prop 64… “created two California’s for Cannabis. One for those with resources who will be able to afford the tremendous cost increases associated with consumption or production that AUMA will entail; and the other, the black market where the sick, poor and disenfranchised will be forced to turn to.”

Nevertheless, WFWP has fought hard to advocate for the passage of California Senate Bill 34, also known as the Dennis Perone and Brownie Mary Act. Once passed, this bill would allow for licensed retailers to partner with organizations such as Weed for Warriors to offer free medical cannabis to patients. The significance of this measure could not be understated and WFWP is unwavering in seeing this happen. Sean travels to Sacramento frequently to speak and advocate for the passage of this bill and thanks to his effort and the support of other advocates SB 34 has strong bi-partisan support and looks on track to heading to Governor Newsom’s desk to be signed. This feat would be a huge victory for WFWP and for veterans across the state.

As an Engine Fueling Veteran Entrepreneurship

Besides support and advocacy, WFWP is looking expand their for profit arm to develop a vertically integrated cannabis operation. Doing so will allow them to build out the WFWP cannabis brand and provide economic opportunities for other veterans and ensure products are made “For Vets by Vets.” This ambitious mission is coming to fruition quickly. The organization has secured multiple cannabis licenses, has secured some capital investments and is building strong relationships with reputable brands across the supply chain. Cannabis will not be the only market the brand will touch: apparel, media – both documentaries and series, health, housing… the list goes on.

Ultimately, there is no stopping WFWP from embarking on their mission. Their commitment to each other is evident as their commitment to their country. Their mission is beyond cannabis and really leads to healing. Their physical and psychological scars may be present, but it’s clear that’s in their rear view mirror as they look to the future and plant their seeds in the cannabis industry.

The Road Ahead

As the future of federal legalization remains uncertain, its evident that the veteran community carries the key to the eventual passage. There is no denying the damage of pain we’ve inflicted on a generation of veterans who were harmed by overprescription of harsh pain pills who are now healing through cannabis. Bipartisan support in Congress and the Executive Branch shows support for more research on the medical benefits of cannabis — and that’s a good sign. But it’s nowhere near enough and we can no longer wait as we don’t want to hold back our veterans from access to a plant who can bring them much healing.

States with cannabis legislation have seen a decrease in suicides, overdoses, and DUIs. Evidence suggests that healing is happening in those areas at exponential numbers. It’s only a matter of time before we follow suit too. We’re closer now than we’ve ever been. And something tells us WFWP will be there at the forefront, leading the way and creating the next generation of healed and resilient veterans.

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Making Moves – Big Percy Brings NUGL to the People



Big Percy is a force in the music industry who built his career by bringing some of the most notorious gangsta rappers in the game to mainstream America. Now, he’s set his sights on his biggest challenge yet: bringing cannabis culture into popular consciousness.

Big Percy has never been one to shrink from a challenge. He’s a mover, a shaker, the one leading the pack. It’s just part of who he is, and it’s served him well: his influence and strategic vision have allowed him to position his clients in the hearts, minds, and lives of mainstream America.

It’s that kind of authenticity and interconnectedness is what Big Percy aims to bring to his work with NUGL. Cannabis and social media might seem like an offbeat combination, but to Big Percy, it’s right in time. “Cannabis is a way of life,” he says. “It’s a lifestyle. Every asset and every facet of the world, every sector of the world, has something to do with cannabis.”

He makes a good point: the history of cannabis use by humans can be traced back all the way to 8,000 BCE, on the Oki Islands near Japan. Since that time, cannabis (as both the familiar marijuana plant and newly-hyped hemp) has played an important role in societies all over the globe. The legal market for cannabis is new, but the plant itself is, in a way, older than some of our most cherished parts of our humanity, like complex societies or even written language.

Viewed through that lens, bringing cannabis into the mainstream doesn’t seem like such a tall order. In fact, to Big Percy, it’s a necessity. “Me, my team and everything else, we’ve always been a part of it, but now we’re really stepping into the forefront.”

NUGL is certainly a part of that plan, but it’s not the only aspect of Big Percy’s Plan. Ask him what he’s working on, and he’ll give you a list: “The CBD, the magazine line, NUGL, and some other good things” are in the works, and those are just the highlights. Big Percy has never been one for small thinking, and he doesn’t intend to start now.

His arrival on the NUGL Board of Directors may seem sudden from the outside – to be fair, it is his first board position – but in the context of Big Percy’s overall vision, it makes perfect sense. He explains his thought process behind teaming up with the brand: “NUGL was just a place I had to be, you know? It was on my table for a year and change now, being through BiggA.” That relationship allowed Big Percy an inside look at the nuts and bolts of NUGL as an up-and-coming disruptor of the cannabis and social media scenes.

“I watched what they were doing,” Big Percy says of that year and change NUGL spent on his radar before he came on board in earnest. “I watched how they moved. I liked the structure they had, and I liked the comfort level that they gave me to be myself and still do the other things that I was doing.” That independence is important to Big Percy and what he stands for.

If you ask Big Percy what he values, he’ll be straight with you. “Being a man of your word,” he says with gravity. “Always stepping to the forefront – fearless – and if you say you’re gonna do something, you must complete.”

That commitment to authenticity, tenacity, and unabashed boldness is a part of Bigg Percy at his core, and he aims to bring those values with him to his work with NUGL. It’s not a far reach: NUGL was founded for the purpose of serving the vibrant and diverse cannabis community, honoring the individuality of users while promoting collaboration and cooperation among businesses and consumers alike.

That’s a mission that Big Percy can get behind. To him, cannabis is already here for the long haul, and bringing it into mainstream focus is the next logical step in an increasingly friendly legal climate. The blossoming legal market has opened up new opportunities for innovation within the industry, and Big Percy believes consumers are hungry for the coming change.

For Big Percy, NUGL is about more than just launching an app or publishing a magazine. It’s an opportunity to challenge people’s preconceptions of what the cannabis community is capable of and what the place of cannabis within everyday life is. “Cannabis is here,” he says, “and it’s here to stay.” On what’s to come for Big Percy at NUGL, he has this to say: “Don’t watch me, watch the moves I make.”

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The Evolution of Hip Hop & the 420 World



By Melissa Rondon

In Part 1 of a new series we sit down with OG rapper BiggA to take an intimate look at the coevolution of hip hop and cannabis culture, the early days of hip hop, and how cannabis has influenced creators and the community at large.

NUGL Magazine is kicking off a special series examining the relationship between hip hop and cannabis culture. Over the next few months, we’ll be talking to hip hop legends and newcomers similar to Jalen McMillan artist about the evolution of the genre over the years, and how cannabis culture influenced that evolution.

We are lucky to have with us BiggA, our guide on this journey through music and cannabis history. Over the next three months, we’ll be bringing you with us as we explore the impact of cannabis on the evolution of hip hop through the eyes of some legendary musicians. Be sure to check back with us we as we travel to Compton, California to hear firsthand from some incredible members of the rap and hip hop communities.

First, we’ll be diving into the early years of hip hop, back when it was first coming up as a force within the music industry. We’ll take a look at its origins and infancy, the cannabis connection, and how it evolved into the music we hear today.

There are countless stories out there that have attempted to describe the evolution of hip hop over the years. We find that many of these perspectives become removed from their context, so we decided to take a different approach. We’re bringing you the diverse perspectives of the hip hop icons that defined a genre, in their words, to trace the connection between the music and the context that it was born of.
We decided the best way to start was to go directly to the source. So, we packed a carry-on and headed straight to the streets of Compton, California. For the uninitiated, Compton is the birthplace of West Coast Rap, NWA and the Eazy–E legacy.

We started by meeting up with BiggA, a Compton OG known to tell it how it is. He graciously agreed to be our host on this adventure and help guide us, and our readers, on this journey through the history of hip hop.

We asked BiggA to take us back to the 1980’s and give us an idea of what hip hop and the 420 scene looked like then. He began by making an important distinction: East Coast hip hop and West Coast rap were very, very different entities back then.

“At that time, Afrikabambatta and that house stuff from the East Coast is what we called ‘hip hop,'” he says. “Our type of music on the West Coast was considered Gangsta Rap. We was dark, we were real. We weren’t all hoppy. It was reality, ‘bang bang, shoot ‘em up,’ youknowwhatimean?”

Then, he shifts his focus to the relationship he and other creators had with cannabis. “As OGs, we looked down on any thing that was other than smoking that Chronic. That is were your creativity came from. It was flowing.”

He paints a picture of the drug scene during that era: “During that time in Compton, heavy drug use was rampant. What we saw growing up was drugs like PCP, angel dust, sherm sticks, and crack cocaine were everywhere. As far as weed went, we were smoking that brick weed. The dry, red hair kind, full of seeds. It wasn’t until years later that we saw weed like Acapulco Gold, Maui Wowie, and Colombian Red ‘Fire'”

This new herb was a game-changer, according to BiggA.

BiggA. “As things progressed, we wanted to find more of the bionic, … that’s we called it. Others called it sinsemilla, but we called it bionic … We didn’t want anything to do with any product that had seeds,” he says with a laugh before continuing,” You know, you needed a little money to get that high quality sinsemilla.”

Then, he explains how Dr. Dre coined the phrase, “the chronic,” essentially evolving from the bionic to the chronic. “We were done with crack,” says BiggA. “We were done with angel dust, we was done with smoking that embalming fluid. We were out of the dark ages and we had become … stoners.” Chronic changed the hip hop scene from then on out. “It was cool to have that big bag of that chronic,” he says. “Matter of fact, catch you bringing something less than that to the studio, and you might get your ass kicked!”

Over time, chronic became a part of the reality that influenced the West Coast rap scene. “We were putting reality into our music,” says BiggA, “and once Dr. Dre and some of the others put the weed smoking in the music, it became cool to be a part of that.” This doesn’t really surprise BiggA, who points back to the historical connection of cannabis to music in general. “If you looked back to 60’s … with the hippies, it was cool to smoke — at least, until the acid trip thing hit them,” he says with a grin. “But it still goes back to a deep connection of music and smoking cannabis.”

BiggA makes a specific point about local cannabis at the time, saying, “One thing to know is, the West Coast was known for the quality of its weed. We would have people coming from the East Coast just to get that chronic.” He describes Compton in particular as a community that embraced marijuana in the wake of the destruction caused by the hard drugs of the 80s. Public consciousness shifted, and cannabis became the favored drug of choice, displacing hard drugs.

This late 90’s was a period of healing within the Compton community. “We were done with that hard stuff,” he says with a bit more gravity. “We were done with those chemical agents. If you were dealing with that stuff and came around us you were dealt with accordingly. If you was hangin with us you were drinkin’ gin and juice or Hennessey and smoking that chronic,” said BiggA. He also acknowledges that medical use of cannabis was growing back then. “Even back as early as the late 90’s people were using cannabis for medicinal purposes,” he says.

… next issue will talk to BiggA about the rap music industry and how cannabis has a very long and important connection to it.

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