Marlboro weed man

Illustration by Kate Mitrano

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Marlboro is investing in cannabis?

—Flicka DaBick

Yeah. Capitalism is gonna capitalize. Altria, the multinational, filthy rich conglomerate that owns all your favorite cigarette brands, has invested $1.8 billion to buy 45 percent of a Canadian cannabis conglomerate called Cronos. That’s a lot of money, but not as much as the $4 billion that The Constellation Company (they own Corona) just spent to buy their way into the Canopy Corporation, yet another giant Canadian cannabis company. Now that weed is legal in Canada (and Luxembourg, woot woot!), giant corporations are gonna jump into the game with both feet. If you are a casual cannabis consumer, things probably won’t change much. Altria also owns a vape cartridge company, so it will most likely start there. But full-scale, mass-produced, GMO and chemical-ridden cannabis farms are probably a few years away. Constellation is big on beverages, so it will probably focus on cannabis-infused drinks similar to Lagunitas. If you’re a small-scale cannabis producer, however, you would be right to have concerns. These giant corporations are going try to use their money and influence to take over the whole game. This is why we still need activists. It’s up to us to ensure that smaller, better cannabis growers get a chance to maintain their share of the cannabis market. Buy local, small-batch weed, people!

Is hemp legal or what?

—Amber Waves

Damn near. As of Tuesday, the 2018 Farm Bill is on the president’s desk. If he signs it, hemp will be removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Schedule I drugs. Schedule I includes drugs the government deems to have a high risk of addiction and no medicinal uses. (There’s no reason hemp or cannabis should be on this list in the first place.) However, there are a few problems with the farm bill: People with drug convictions will not be allowed to grow hemp, and there are a few non-farm provisions, the most troubling of them being inserted by House Republicans that prevents Congress from forcing a vote to limit U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. (The Senate, however, passed a resolution to end U.S. support.) In my honest opinion, legalizing hemp while continuing to support a war that has caused famine and thousands of deaths is antithetical to the whole “Hemp can save the world” ideal, but since our president is in thrall to the Saudi government and the Military Industrial Complex, this bill has a good chance of passing. Believe it or not, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell was one of the driving forces behind getting the hemp amendment into the bill. Life is bittersweet sometimes.