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Freedom Seeds blog

  • Mr Smiley, My Last Pill and Testament - Howard Marks

    Mr Smiley

    Freedom Seeds met up with Howard Marks just before the publication of his new book, Mr Smiley, My Last Pill and Testament.

    Mr Smiley - My Last Pill and TestamentHoward Mark - signing Mr Smiley

    Howard was making what may be sadly one of his last public appearances after being diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago. The venue could not have been more perfect as Howard walked onto the Estuary Stage at Festival No. 6, held in the beautifully romantic village of Portmeirion in North Wales.

    It was a sunny September day and so many had turned up that the capacity crowd were standing from the front of the stage to the water’s edge at what was only a spoken word event being held at 1:30 in the afternoon.

    The warmth of the sustained applause as Howard walked on seemed to reverberate out, across the sandy estuary and up into the sun bathed peaks of Snowdonia that framed the horizon.

    The event was being hosted by Faber Social who co-curated the Estuary Stage again this year with Caught by the River.

    Festival No 6 - Portmeirion VillageFestival No 6 - Portmeirion Village

    Howard talked about smuggling, dope, the law as well as music, family and life.

    I’d seen Howard do numerous shows like this in the past, usually ending in a question & answer session, but this one was more illuminating and seemed to cover new ground.

    After the show I spoke to Howard back stage and we talked about Mr Smiley.

    This second, and final chapter of his autobiography, picks up from where the best-selling Mr Nice ended. And it turns out Howard has not been keeping to the straight and narrow but has been up to his old tricks.

    When he was released from an American prison after doing 7 years of a 25 year sentence, Howard had found it difficult to settle into any kind of role. His family had grown and were now more independent, many of his old circle of friends had either given evidence against him, had retired or were dead.

    Immersing himself in the ecstasy fuelled party scene centred on the island of Ibiza, he soon got to hear of a lost stash of pure MDMA, enough to make more than a million pills.

    As the title suggests, Mr Smiley recounts Howard’s journey in search of this stash, his partial success and the unexpected and shocking twist the discovery delivers.

    Although some names have had to be changed in the book Howard’s part is told in detail.

    “I can tell the full story now” he told me, “I’ll soon be out of their reach”.

    A wide grin spread across his face, the infectious and cheeky smile we know from the photo on the front cover of Mr Nice, and I knew that whatever happened Howard was going to have the last laugh.

    Mr Smiley, My Last Pill and Testament available from Freedom Books

    Festival No 6 - Be Seeing You

  • Product Earth - UK Hemp Trade Show, Exhibition and Music Village

    Product Earth 2015

    Freedom Seeds were at the Product Earth Expo in Peterborough over the weekend (27th/28th June). This was the first trade fair/expo of its type in the UK for more than five years. Held in the exhibition centre at the East of England Showground, the venue is a large sprawling complex of buildings and outdoor space used mostly for agricultural shows.

    We arrived on Saturday morning and walking past the purpose built area for judging foxhounds (yes, the bastards are still at it despite the ban), we approached the modern exhibition hall.

    Inside there were stalls and exhibitors covering a wide range of stuff including seeds, clothing and paraphernalia.

    There was good representation from the campaign groups including Release, NORML UK, European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, European Cannabis Social Clubs, UK Cannabis Social Clubs and our good friend Clark French of United Patients Alliance.

    Although there were a good few people milling about there didn’t seem to be that many until we discovered hundreds outside enjoying the warm summer sun and mellow sounds from the main stage of the music village.

    The music village with adjoining camping field was what set this event apart. With the good weather over the weekend many of us spent a lot of time outside looking at the stalls and checking out the wide variety of food outlets which included an appetising choice for vegetarians like me.

    The highlight for me was the stonking set from veteran reggae dance outfit and headliners Zion Train. With the crowd already warmed up by a great set from Mad Professor, the Zion crew owned it. I’m sure the good folk of Peterborough hadn’t heard anything like it.

    All in all this was a very well organised chilled out event with a friendly vibe, just as it should be. Well done to Richard & James for taking the risk to put this together. Respect.

  • Clark French on medical cannabis around the world – Amsterdam

    Amsterdam – Dutch Medical Cannabis Culture

    Amsterdam is undoubtedly the most well known city when it comes to cannabis in Europe, if not the entire world. This is in most part due to Dutch citizens and activists not accepting prohibition.

    Nol Van Schaik and Wernard Bruning, coffeeshop pioneersWernard Bruning opened the first coffee shop in 1973, dozens more followed and soon the Dutch government had no choice but to be “tolerant” of cannabis culture. They overgrew the shackles which tried to chain them and Amsterdam has since been a city synonymous with cannabis.

    Many people would be forgiven for thinking that cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, coffeeshops selling cannabis to the public are open every day and the consumer has no real issue. However it is not legal. It is merely tolerated. Coffeeshops are allowed to sell cannabis, but in a rather bizarre twist they all have to go to the black market to source the cannabis that they do sell. The Dutch government puts a limit of 500 grams onto coffeeshops which is quite impractical, especially since more and more of them are closing down thus each one has more custom to cater to.

    This means that medical cannabis patients have a very easy time finding cannabis in the Netherlands, certainly more so than they would In the UK. Coffeeshops are not quite as good as many dispensaries and I would like to see more lab tested cannabis, however it is still a vast world away from the UK. Patients have choice of strains and can even grow five plants at home. Which is of course not really a sensible limit as unless you are growing trees five plants is unlikely to be sufficient for patients who need a lot of cannabinoids.

    Introduction of Bedrocan

    Nol Van Schaik and Wernard Bruning, coffeeshop pioneersIn 2002 Bedrocan was granted a licence to grow medical grade cannabis for patients in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. Under the Schengen Agreement a Dutch Patient prescribed Bedrocan is legally allowed to bring and use their medical cannabis in the UK. This despite the government continuing to say that cannabis is a schedule 1 drug with “no known medicinal value”. A point which was pushed by Norml-UK for our Cannabis Hypocrisy Protest where a Bedrocan patient came and vaporised cannabis legally outside the Houses of Parliament in 2013.

    Bedrocan currently have four strains which are available through prescription in Dutch pharmacies. Although it is great that patients do have this option it was clear to me when visiting and talking to patients that many thought that this was not good enough. In fact some felt so strongly that Bedrocan was an injustice it bought them to tears. Many patients choose to go to coffeeshops rather than pay for Bedrocan, I have heard people saying they can find better quality at better prices in coffeeshops than Bedrocan. This is quite a shame as the black market does not have patients in mind when growing cannabis. There are some great organisations in Amsterdam which the UPA finds very inspiring, the Cannabis College seeks to provide people with cannabis knowledge and we will be working with them to do similar things at events in the UK in 2015.

    UPA Cannabis College Portsmouth

    Overall Dutch medical cannabis patients have it far better than their British counterparts, but yet again we find a system which is nowhere near good enough for the patients who it is meant to help. Lots of lessons can be learnt from medical cannabis in other countries. The UK will by no means be the first country to allow patients access to medical cannabis when change does inevitably come. But through the actions of other countries we can have the best system which helps patients the best way that it can.

    Clark French

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  • Spannabis 2015 Champions Cup Award Winners - the results!

    Spannabis Champions Cup 2015
    Looking for the Spannabis 2016 results? You can find them here.

    Further to our report from this year's Spannabis which you can read about here - we now have the big winners at the Spannabis Champions Cup 2015.

    There were prizes for Barney's Farm with Critical Kush and Triple Cheese, Dutch Passion for The Edge, Strain Hunters with Caboose and Delicious Seeds for Critical Kali Mist among others.

    The Winners

    Best Seed Bank: Genehtik
    Best Booth: Barney's Farm
    Best Paraphenalia Product: Sublimator

    Indoors Hydro

    1. Critical Kush - Barney's Farm
    2. Amnesia Mistery - Positronics Seeds


    1. Dutch Passion - The Edge
    2. Cheese - Tierramadre Growshop
    3. Critical Kali Mist - Delicious Seeds

    Indoors Bio

    1. Super Cheese - Positronics Seeds
    2. Tangi - DNA Genetics
    3. Caboose - Strain Hunters

    Best Resin

    1. Mandarine Hash - Tierramadre Growshop
    2. Negra 44 - Houseplant and R-Kiem
    3. Original Bubblegum iceolator - TH Seeds

    Best Extractions

    1. Shoreline Live Resin - Devil's Harvest Seeds and Nector Sector
    2. Sour Ripper - La Grow Central and Ripper Seeds
    3. Triple Cheese - Barney's Farm

    Congratulations to all the winners - we'll see you all again for Spannabis 2016.

    Were you at this years event? What do you think about this years winners?
    Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Spannabis 2015 - back from Barcelona and world's biggest Cannabis Event

    Spannabis 2015

    We meet Jorge Cervantes and watch some footie

    Just back from Spannabis 2015, a little bleary, the worse for wear & tear. Got rained on, and so did all the exhibitors on the outside stands who had been expecting to be basking in the spring sunshine.

    Luckily that was just a bit of a hitch on Saturday with the rest of the weekend being dry but windy.

    This blip was more than can be said for our European partners in the Netherlands who seem to be stuck in a continuing Dutch winter as news spread of a leading wholesaler who was raided for selling large quantities of cannabis seed. Take note: in some jurisdictions selling a 25 seed pack makes you an accomplice to commercial cultivation, allegedly.

    Jorge Cervantes at Spannabis 2015No such problems for our other European friends in Spain. The annual cannabis jamboree that is the Spannabis Trade Fair is going from strength to strength with another record attendance for the largest cannabis fair in the world. It's facts like these that make it bearable to stand in line for more than an hour to get into the damn venue, although one inevitably suspects that it could be handled more efficiently.

    On the upside we bumped into our old friend Jorge Cervantes, author of the worlds best-selling grow book The Marijuana Horticulture Indoor Outdoor Growers Bible. Jorge, one of the hardest workers and most knowledgeable guys we know has just published his latest & greatest tome ‘The Cannabis Encyclopaedia’ a title that lives up to its name.

    You can see a video of Jorge talking you through the book below. Just off the press, the first copies arrive in the UK in the next couple of weeks. You can pick up one of the first copies here.

    Barcelona, as those of you who have been will know, is a city that delivers in many ways. Strolling around the Gothic Quarter on Sunday evening we stopped off at a bar to watch the classic of the Spanish league, Barcelona (Messi, Suárez) v Real Madrid (Ronaldo, Bale). The screen in the bar was hung in front of a stone wall that was part of the original Roman wall around the city. As expected, the game did not disappoint. The streets were deserted and the bars were packed, the atmosphere was unforgettable. Viva Barcelona, Viva Catalonia, Viva sativa.

    Seriously, if you can make it to Spannabis 2016 you will not regret it.

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  • Freedom Seeds meets RAW Papers

    RAW Papers

    RAW Giveaway: We’re giving one lucky person a goody bag stuffed full of RAW stuff. It couldn’t be easier to enter. So keep on reading for your chance to get your hands on this fantastic prize.

    Freedom Seeds meets RAW Papers

    Got any Veras? The rolling papers market is a large one, containing brands like OCB, Zig-Zag and Smoking. However while these giant companies may dominate the market there are alternatives out there…

    One such alternative is RAW.

    RAW take a slightly alternative approach. Their papers being unbleached and less processed. This gives RAW papers their distinctive light brown shade, with papers so thin you can almost see through them. This combined with their special watermark mean the papers burn just right.

    In short while there are many companies out there making rolling papers…few do it as well as RAW.

    We’ve been massive fans of RAW papers from the start. So when the opportunity to team up with them arose - we jumped at it. The result? Freedom Skins!

    Freedom Skins - RAW papers

    As with any industry there is plenty going on behind the scenes and how RAW fit into the rolling paper landscape is certainly an interesting story. But before we discuss that we need to look at the history of the humble rolling paper itself.

    History of rolling papers

    The history of rolling papers is inexorably linked with Spain and in turn the city of Alcoy.

    When Christopher Columbus returned to Spain from his first voyage of the Americas he did so with tobacco. The smoking of tobacco cigars quickly caught on with the Spanish aristocracy. In turn the much prized cast offs from discarded cigar butts found their way into the hands of peasants. Wanting to smoke the tobacco that remained in the butts they took it and rolled it in used newspaper. Newspaper was far from the ideal solution for smoking tobacco however, and so with this came the need for a paper that could be used to smoke tobacco.

    As Alcoy was already the paper making capital of Spain, it inevitably became the location of the first machines made specifically for creating rolling papers. And so rolling papers have now been manufactured for centuries in the Spanish city.

    History of RAW Rolling Papers

    RAW Founder - Josh KesselmanDuring the 1980s Alcoy’s main rolling paper manufacturer was forced to close its doors. Following this move competitors came forward to buy the most valuable paper machines. Once the vultures had swooped they left only a few antique machines behind, those which they considered worthless. One man who could however see the value in these machines was a man named Jose Emilio. As a former employee he could see that while the machines were old they were still more than capable of producing top quality rolling paper.

    At the start of the 1990s New Yorker Josh Kesselman met with Jose Emilio. With the expertise of the Alcoy manufacturers Josh was able to develop the brands of Juicy Jays, Elements and eventually – RAW. Josh (pictured above) is still in charge of RAW papers today and continues to drive the company forward.

    RAW ambition

    RAW pride themselves on being innovators in the rolling papers market.

    So what sets RAW papers apart?
    - Natural unrefined rolling papers – RAW papers are less processed than other papers
    - Special watermark helps the papers burn better
    - Chlorine free / Unbleached
    - Vegan Friendly

    RAW papers features

    More from RAW

    In addition to the classic RAW Papers they have also introduced a new range of rolling papers made using unbleached hemp fibres - Raw Organic Hemp.

    What started out as rolling papers has now grown into a wide range of smoking accessories including cones, tips, rolling machines, rolling trays, rolling mats and much more besides.

    RAW Collaborations

    RAW are proud of their ties with the hip-hop community. Which has led to a collaboration with US rapper Wiz Khalifa on a line of smoking accessories. Perhaps an inevitable move when you consider the title of Wiz Khalifa’s gold-certified debut album - Rolling Papers.
    Wiz Khalifa RAW Papers

    RAW Foundation

    The RAW Foundation represents the philanthropic work overseen by RAW owner Josh Kesselman. They have worked on several projects based as far afield as Ethiopia, Uganda, the Philippines and Bali. Work helping improve the lives of those less fortunate includes: supplying 100,000 meals to malnourished children, digging a deep bore well in Ethiopia and the refurbish and repair of water wells in Uganda.


    All of the above tells you that RAW is a great company so we thought we'd give you a chance to find out just how good their products are for yourself. We’ve put together a goody bag full of RAW stuff and we're giving it to one lucky winner.

    Below you’ll find 10 different ways to enter this competition - some worth more entries than others. The more entries you make the more chance you have of winning this fantastic prize. So try as many as you like. Good luck!

    Freedom Seeds - RAW

    The competition will run until 12pm (GMT) on Friday 20th March 2015 - the winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

    To find out the latest news and more from RAW head over to their website here

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  • Clark French on medical cannabis around the world – Barcelona

    Barcelona – Catalan Cannabis Culture

    clark-french-cannabis-barcelonaIn my latest series of blogs for Freedom Seeds I have been writing about cannabis around the world and the places and people I have been lucky enough to meet along the way. At the beginning of 2014 I was able to go and spend some time in Barcelona and get to know the cannabis scene and industry there. My time in Barcelona has had a profound effect on me, making me much more confident. Spain is a great place to visit - as well as the cannabis I really enjoyed the weather, the scenery and the food!

    Spain has an odd grey area system when it comes to cannabis laws, which the pro-independence region of Catalonia has taken full advantage of. The Spanish constitution protects individual liberties on private property. As the constitution is the highest law of the land (pun intended) it effectively means that this “trumps” the law prohibiting cannabis, so that in practice cannabis can be consumed in private. This has had a big impact across the whole of Spain including Barcelona. When I was there in March there were rumoured to be over 300 cannabis clubs in the city, which means there was roughly 100 more clubs than Amsterdam has coffee shops making it a very canna friendly city.

    Cannabis friendly in some senses but not in all – the Spanish police are much like their UK equivalents and can stop and search you. If caught with cannabis on you a hefty fine of 1000 Euros comes with it.

    Social Clubs

    The constitution protects you in the clubs and on private property but crucially not in public. Many of the clubs had a safe where you can store your medicine before you leave, it is worth pointing out that although Barcelona is a great place for cannabis enthusiasts it is by no means perfect. It is not like Amsterdam where you can just walk in off the street and join. Any club I am now a member of I had to know an existing member. Now the rules have changed even further to try and crack down on the emerging cannabis tourist trade which is sprouting up.

    Medical Cannabis

    In 2010 my diagnosis MS took away much of who I was and closed many doors to me. But through cannabis many other new doors have been opened and it’s great to feel a sense of purpose again. I was a musician and my band and promotion company was my life so I found it very hard to let that go for a long time. Through medical cannabis and the cannabis industry those wounds have healed and I have a new purpose in life!

    Clark French - Barcelona

    Barcelona has a system which is great for patients who live there and means that they get access to the medicine that they need. I found myself feeling ever more confident and at ease with myself being there. Having the option of going to a club to medicate opened up the world to me and I made the most of it and saw much of the city and surrounding areas.

    Patients need a place to go to be able to use their medicine and the clubs in Barcelona provide just that! It’s not perfect by any means but it is much better than things in the UK. You get a choice of decent strains at very affordable prices, it works out at about half the price of Amsterdam.

    Clark French BarcelonaClark French Barcelona

    In conclusion Barcelona is a great city and the patients who live there are among the luckiest patients in Europe. They have access to the medicine that they need and they also have access to a social life which is of course very important for anyone. But especially patients who otherwise could become quite isolated. Barcelona truly is a beautiful city and one which I'm looking forward to visiting again soon.

    Clark French

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  • Dutch Passion - Frisian Duck And Other New Releases

    New in at Freedom Seeds. The latest release from Dutch Passion.

    Dutch Passion - Frisian Duck And Other New Releases

    Dutch Passion - Frisian Duck

    Discretion is a massive concern for most cannabis lovers, so if I told you there was a cannabis plant that didn’t look like cannabis you would probably want to know more, read on.

    One of Dutch Passion's newest strains, Frisian Duck isn't a revolution in the cannabis world but it clearly shows how much the industry is advancing. The clue is in the name. In the vegetative period this strain will produce leaves that more resemble a ducks foot and not the iconic 5 pointed leaf. Even when the plant starts flowering it is less conspicuous than others. This doesn't come at a compromise as Frisian Duck is a hardy strain that produces big yields and buds with spicy tones with a citrus aroma that imparts a heady, buzzy bliss.

    Frisian Duck could herald a new wave of stealthy looking hybrids and you can get yours here.

    Other Dutch Passion Releases

    We like to spoil you guys so we also have another three stunning new strains from Dutch Passion.

    Auto Blackberry Kush - Kush that is seed to harvest in 10 weeks, sign us up.
    AutoEuforia - A unique euphoric high with anti anxiety properties makes this a must have.
    Forest Dream - Perfect for beginners, but be warned she gets big at up to 2m indoors!

    Click the links above and order yours today.

  • Barney's Farm Cookies Kush And Other New Strains

    Barney's Farm Cookies Kush And Other New Strains

    Banreys Farm Cookies Kush

    Barney's Farm love a good Indica so it comes as no surprise that their most anticipated strain release for 2015 was Cookies Kush.

    It’s easy to see how this amazing plant won the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup, with a cross of the much elusive genuine Girl Scout Cookies strain and one of the Dams favourite, Rolex OG.

    Barney's have once again struck the perfect balance much like they did with their highly acclaimed Critical Kush. Strength, yield, size and a complex and complete experience on the palette.

    Available Here!

    Other Barney's Farm Strain Releases

    With the majority of the cannabis world focusing on this amazing new strain it’s easy to forget that Barney's have also released some other delectable seeds for you to get your hands on.

    Triple Cheese - Blue Cheese x Cheese, only 8 weeks flowering and a powerful high.
    Auto Blue Cheese - Everyone’s favourite Blue Cheese now ready in only 65-75 days.
    Auto NYC Diesel - Pungent Diesel tones with citrus notes, it doesn't get much better.

  • Clark French on medical cannabis around the world – California

    In my latest series of articles for Freedom Seeds I am going to look into and explain a little about medical cannabis in other countries and how patients live and get their medicine. I'm lucky enough to have travelled to quite a few of the places I am going to write about.

    The first is possibly my favourite place in the world to be and is of real significance as the first US state to legalise medical cannabis in 1996. California has much meaning to me personally as it is where I went and had access to cannabis oil in 2011. This helped to improve my quality of life greatly and inspired me to give the fight for legal medical cannabis my all once back here in the UK.
    Clark French Grass RootsMedical Marijuana CaliforniaCalifornia Proposition 215 passed on the 5th of November 1996, with 56% in favour and allowed for medical cannabis patients to get legal access to cannabis in the state of California. When I went I got to meet many patients and activists who had campaigned for this and even went out with the San Jose Harborside team to protest against a new city ordnance which taxed the dispensaries and essentially meant patients had to pay more for their medicine.

    While in California I spent much time with the main author of proposition 215 Dennis Peron. Dennis has a lovely little guest house which myself and Dale (my cousin and GrassRoots film maker) stayed in last year. The first time I met Dennis in 2011 I asked him for some advice and he said “just get on with it” something which I feel I have definitely taken to heart. Dennis is most definitely one of my main inspirations as an activist, he is such a genuine person that so many feel very at ease and comfortable in his presence. Dennis was kind enough to be interviewed by Dale for GrassRoots and we are excited for its release in 2015. A little longer than it was meant to take but it will be worth it!

    Clark French - Golden Gate Bridge

    During my stay in California the thing which struck me the most was how it really isn’t good enough. Yes it is inspiring to see happen and yes there are so many great things and of course they are so much further than we are in the UK. However it is not fairly distributed, the fact you have to pay for your doctor’s recommendation leaves many on a low income out of the loop and I feel that this is unfair. So personally although I love California, I still think there is still quite a way to go so that all people are treated equally as patients no matter their socioeconomic group.

    Having said that for many patients Proposition 215 did and still does provide them the ability to grow their own cannabis with many cities putting a limit of 99 plants. It is 99 as over 100 federal minimum mandatory sentencing comes into play and no one needs that. For myself I think 99 plants is a good amount, this would allow for a patient to have a variety of medicine and generally mean that a patient can always guarantee to keep themselves well stocked with medicine. Many counties have smaller limits but where I was staying in San Francisco the limits were 99.

    In my opinion the best thing about California is the openness the market has created to so many products. I wasn’t really expecting to see just so many things made from medical cannabis. The industry is huge and really I, like many others in the UK, want to play a part in this and be involved in this industry legally in the UK. Which is of course why we fight on and are trying to end prohibition so that we can all medicate legally without unwanted intervention from the law. That not even mentioning the medicine and how good the concentrates and flowers really are.

    My final point is safety first and regulations, California now has many cannabis testing labs and this is necessary for a patient to be able to titrate the right amount and to know exactly what is in the medicine they are taking. Not only this, they test for residual chemicals from growing, fungus and mould too. They make sure that the medicine is quality and that is very, very important when giving medical cannabis to patients. I feel like I time travel to the future when I visit California and I'm more determined than ever to help to make this a reality in the UK.

    Clark French

    GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution

    GrassRoots is a feature-length documentary focused on medical cannabis patients and activists. The film is set for release in 2015 - to find out more click here

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