Jessica Tonani checking out tissue cultures that have been differentiated into stem cells at her Seattle office.

Jessica Tonani, 40, CEO of Verda Bio, a DNA sequencing company, has a personal as well as financial interest in marijuana’s future. She turned to marijuana a decade ago, as a treatment for a gastrointestinal condition that led to the removal of part of her stomach, multiple surgeries, and twice-weekly intravenous infusions. After her doctors discussed her “last wishes” and she exhausting all other options – Jessica decided, marijuana was worth trying.

A decade later, she acknowledges wholeheartedly that marijuana worked for her. But also states that the medical marijuana system wasn’t easy for her to navigate. So, four years ago, she founded Verda Bio, a BioTech company that focuses on the delivery and genetics of cannabis.

With the science of marijuana being embryonic due to federal restrictions on research, Jessica and business partner Kersten Beyer VP of Clinical Affairs, still travel Washington educating and advocating for cannabis research.  Recently, I was able to sit down with Jessica and Kersten at Verda Bio to discuss the future of cannabis research.

Verda Bio: The first thing I should say, is that it was illegal to research marijuana at the time Verda Bio started. What I mean is that if you’re a 502 producer, you’re allowed to grow, dispel and destroy your marijuana. If you do anything outside of that, you’re breaking the law. If you want to grow for research purpose, that’s illegal. If you want to breed, that’s illegal. If you want to change anything about your plant’s genetics, you either have to buy clones from other 502 producers or you illegally start breeding them on your own.

We know more about hamsters then we do marijuana and it’s a plant. As marijuana becomes legalised for medical and recreational purposes across the US, academic researchers and the burgeoning industry are turning to genomics and genetics to characterise and develop better and more consistent strains of marijuana.

Washington State Bill 5121 and State Bill 6177, both of which were created by us, worked to address these research issues. Essentially, SB5121 worked to help enabled the state to create a Marijuana Research System and The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) was the scientific reviewer of this process. Frighteningly, 2 months after SB5121 was put into legislation it was defunded, by Washington State; and left researchers and physicians without the ability to effectively research cannabis and its genetics.

A little over a year later, though, we were back with State Bill 6177!  Which creates a new type of marijuana license for firms looking to further their research and is overseen by the WSLCB. It also requires a third-party scientific reviewer to evaluate the scientific merits for each applicant. As of now, the WSLCB hasn’t found any acceptable scientific reviewers leaving us temporarily waiting.

Jessica: Being able to know the genomics and genetics of marijuana before it was ever even planted — would be tremendously empowering to the industry. Genetics are poised to help researchers create better, more powerful, and sometimes personalised strains. Which can be optimised for different medical conditions like anxiety, pain, cancer, epilepsy and autism to name a few.

Right now, for example, we’re seeing a lot more autism research because they’re finding there’s a huge jump in activity when kids endocannabinoid system isn’t deficient anymore. It’s unreal. As you guys know, watching a kid go from staring down at the ground, sitting Indian style, to changing the channel on the TV, and smiling….I get goosebumps just talking about it!!

Research like this is so important because these kids need it. You can’t tell me that cannabis doesn’t work when the case studies are so powerful!

Verda Bio: I don’t think people realize how bad these kids are. I think they interact with their normal/neo-typical kids and they get a false sense of reality. They say, “Why would you give your child cannabis?”  What they don’t realize is – there is no other solution. I oftentimes say people go to medicinal marijuana as a last resort, not a first resort.

Jessica: Absolutely, it’s always that.

Verda Bio:  It’s truly a system of hope, based on science right now. We need to change that system.

Jessica:  To a science that offers hope.

Verda Bio: Exactly! A science that offers hope. If we’re talking about autism – autism is a part of these kids’ biology, as much as the shape of his nose to the color of their eyes. Now if we could just understand the biology of this life-saving plant!

Jessica: I know 502 retailers hear your frustration – along with many others in the cannabis research field. I think we can all agree, that we need the public’s acceptance of these debilitating conditions and for the public to realize the importance of genome mapping. That, in itself, is really going to be an incredible asset to patients.

Verda Bio: A life-saving asset to some! We need to challenge how cannabis is defined – as a gateway drug – because this description leads us inexorably to “regulate” cannabis.

We need to challenge how cannabis is portrayed in the media.  Using fear, sadness, and pity to generate opinions devalues cannabis research and terrorises patients.  Doctors are going to want to know that the material consumed by their patients this year, is the same as last years. If someone asked me what the future of cannabis growing will be — it will be genome mapping. I hope that by collecting data and making it public to other scientists, it can help aid in the understand and recovery for thousands of patients.

Cannabis Research isn’t about defining a set of rules. It’s about seeing our medical and science community in ways that we didn’t expect and then challenging our own prejudices and reactions. It’s about learning to broaden our narrow perception of cannabis, thinking carefully about what we mean when we say “NO”  to scientific research and how we define consistency and variety in medical marijuana strains to be able to help our medical community!

Written by: Jessica Krantz


When the job conversation gets around to talking about benefits, applicants and employees know to ask about 401(k) plans and health insurance. But what about 5-star perks like fertility benefit programs, childcare or concierge services? Today’s savviest companies know that providing high-quality perks can help them recruit and retain the very best employees.

Compensation is a hot topic. According to a 2014 Glassdoor survey, 39% of American workers say they don’t get paid fairly for their efforts. When that much of the workforce – 42% of women surveyed and 34% of men – feel they’re under-compensated for their work, employee morale and performance suffer. Furthermore, 57% of workers surveyed said it’s up to employers, rather than the government, to address compensation issues.

Smart companies are taking notice. Employee-focused perks are not exclusive to Fortune 500 companies. Smaller organizations are getting into the game because they know they face stiff competition for the best employees, and keeping a great employee is far more cost-efficient than managing turnover. And, of course, perks help to define the corporate culture.

At ELM we’ve composed our own list of the worthiest employee perks, along with examples of companies across the U.S. who offer them. Our favorite perks are interesting, valuable and rewarding. Our favorite companies offer compensation and benefits that build camaraderie and a strong culture.

Funded inspiration

At Brooklyn-based brand innovation studio BBMG, employees are granted two separate accounts: an “inspiration” account and a “professional development” account. Each person receives $500 annually in each account, to use as they see fit. The professional development account must be used on something specifically related to the job title. But the inspiration account has only one criterion — personal growth. “Anything that will push them to discover new facets of themselves, new interests and passions or further develop existing ones satisfies the criteria,” says Carola Beeney, marketing and communications manager at BBMG, to DailyWorth.

The company itself benefits from this investment in inspiration, says Beeney. “Employees come to work feeling inspired, more creative and happier having done something they might not otherwise have done,” she says.

Mobile spa

In addition to having the opportunity to work on amazing technology with incredibly smart and talented people, the perks at Qualcomm are generous. Qualcomm not only pays its summer interns but it also provides relocation packages, with all the perks. Qualcomm employees enjoy their own private farmer’s market, “The Farm Stand.” Qualcomm matches employee charitable contributions one-for-one. And full time employees get a special perk: Qualcomm’s mobile spa.

Sporting events and concert tickets

The Bingham McCutchen law firm offers its Boston-based employees two box seats to a Red Sox game every year, playoffs and championships included. Although seniority determines eligibility, Bingham delivers the perk to as many of its lawyers as possible. Bingham also raffles tickets to concerts at TD Garden, Gillette Stadium, and Fenway Park.

Work abroad

It’s all in a day’s work for employees of San Francisco-based Expensify, a start-up that specializes in the less-than-glamorous world of expense report management. Every year, this seven-year-old company offers its employees the opportunity to visit a different country to travel and work for a month. Past destinations include Thailand, Vietnam, India, Portugal and this year, Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Five minutes of fame

There’s a reason Google is ranked in the top five of Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” in the past eight years. Google doesn’t just offer employees a stimulating environment to work and create; the company also gives them some pretty sweet benefits. Employees enjoy oil changes, car washes, massages and yoga, a play room, back-up child care assistance, and $12,000 annually in tuition reimbursement.

However, perks go beyond the office: three winners of Google’s annual talent show opened for Bruno Mars. Another particularly progressive benefit is that both dads and moms have access of up to 12 weeks of baby bonding time, 9 of which are paid.

Concierge service

At the family company SC Johnson & Son, over 12,000 employees have access to a concierge service that will see to it that their chores get done. The Wisconsin-based maker of Pledge and Windex offers an on-site employee concierge to handle their daily tasks and chores. Workers can request a concierge to pick up groceries, shop for the best deals on car insurance, interview potential nannies, take a car in for oil changes, stand in line for concert tickets and more. Stress goes way down, productivity and morale go way up.

Scripps Health and Ernst & Young also provide concierge services to employees.

Human egg freezing

One extreme perk recently introduced by Apple and Facebook is stirring up quite the controversy. Both now fund egg freezing for women who wish to delay the start of their families. Apple said the benefit empowers women, while critics argue that it sends the message that employees must delay having children in order to succeed in the workplace. Either way, both employers are addressing the issue of social consequences faced by employees who choose to make work the priority.

Paid parental leave

Like many companies, the Microsoft Corporation gives new parents at the company generous maternity and paternity leave. What sets Microsoft apart from most others is that the leave is paid. All of it.

Microsoft also provides a variety of support systems, such as mentoring programs and health care coverage for Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy, which treats autism.

Cold, hard cash

San Diego-based Scripps Health doesn’t reserve bonus checks for top management only. In 2014 Scripps Health awarded nearly $4.5 million in bonuses to employees from top to bottom who met performance objectives. Employees also enjoy a menu of fringe benefits designed to add personal convenience and value to their lives, including tuition reimbursement, on-site massages, concierge services and even pet insurance.

Equal respect

Family-oriented 3M may be familiar to consumers for Scotch tape and office products, but as an employer it is best known for offering fair benefits. The company provides standard medical, dental and vision benefits, as well as life insurance and retirement, to all of its employees, including those in same-sex partnerships.

Ernst & Young, a London-based global tax advisory service, also offers the same benefits for same-sex partners as for opposite-sex partners – even in states that don’t recognize gay marriage.

An entire new branch

Countless workers relocate to get or keep a job, but that usually doesn’t work in reverse. St. Louis-based online investing firm, Scottrade, opens new branches for some of its most valued employees who move. According to Fortune magazine, Scottrade has opened 20 offices for employees. One employee moved twice, to two different states, and Scottrade opened offices in both locations. In addition, Scottrade employees have never experienced a layoff – ever.

Have an amazing perk to share?

Let me know in the comments.


By Jessica Krantz ; written for clubelm.com/blog.html


This Valentine’s Day, Come To Your Senses

Upon first meeting this bubbly Brazilian babe, you might not think she likes to talk about sex but guess what? She does — A LOT! It’s not taboo for her. You know what’s else isn’t taboo for her? Cannabis. In fact, this blonde bombshell has become an expert on mindfully combining sex and cannabis as one of the West Coast Reps. for BOND Sensual Oil. As a BOND representative, Duni helps people navigate sensual topics to make sure couples are interacting, loving and feeling their best in and out of the bedroom. At BOND they believe every woman deserves to have healthy, rewarding and, frankly, fantastic sex!  We couldn’t agree more, so we tracked Duni down for a one-on-one interview about BOND and how it can be used to elevate erotic appetite, increase arousal and amplify sexual sensations – just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Jessica: Can you introduce our readers to BOND and how this idea got started to create a personal lubricant for women?

Duni: With pleasure! BOND was created a couple years ago internally by a couple who, while on a romantic getaway at a hotel named BOND, decided that it was high time individuals embrace their sexuality and experience sex as a part of their holistic being. By exploring, expanding and expressing sexuality in new ways we become closer to one another, which is so important in today’s hectic world.

BOND itself is a blend of nourishing coconut oil and lab-tested cannabis oil. BOND harnesses the complex powers of marijuana to promote relaxation and increase blood flow thereby creating a potent “therapeutic aphrodisiac”. The pleasure we experience, whether alone or with a partner, is a deeply enriching and healing part of our lives. BOND was created to benefit women’s health and well-being by opening the door to natural, euphoric pleasure.

Jessica: I think the next most appropriate question that our readers are probably asking now is how is it applied? (Duni raises an eyebrow)

Duni: Well, it’s pretty simple. BOND works when it comes in contact with the mucous membranes of your inner kitty, however; it won’t go to your head as it stays localised unless applied anally of course! We recommend applying 4-8 pumps of BOND in and around your kitty. Of course applying internally will heighten your experience, and you will begin to notice BOND within 30 minutes. Most couples use this time to experiment, play and enjoy each other.  Like I said before, BOND combines a ultra-refined THC with the highest grade of Liquid Coconut Oil so you get the aroma and taste of coconut, with a subtle underlying flavour of Cannabis.  

Jessica: What would you say is the average age of women that use this product?

Duni: The testimonials we’ve gotten are anywhere between 25 -70, some women are even in their 80s. For younger women, BOND seems to heighten their sexual sensations making orgasms more intense and fuller! It also helps to promote natural lubrication – helping to reduce pain and tension during intercourse. For older women, however, it’s very empowering and rejuvenating for themselves and their sex lives!  Whether with a partner or by themselves, we hear a lot of older couples coming back to us, who say that they had sex for the first time in 10 years!!

Jessica: Actually, about that! I was reading some of the reviews online and I noticed one woman stated that she hadn’t had sex in 20 years! As I was reading this my jaw dropped a little, and I was thinking in my head WHAT?! It took you 20 YEARS to jump back into the sack and it was BOND that brought you back?

Duni:  I know right – but think about all the baby boomers! There are a ton of baby boomers at that age and I think cannabis is still a little bit of a no-no to them. But they also were around when weed was a huge part of their culture. So I think culturally for us at our younger age, it’s a little bit more normal.  However, it’s so enlightening to see older women and men at least entertaining the idea of revamping their sex life though cannabis.  Older women can also suffer from decreased libido and other sexual difficulties—problems that BOND cannabis oil can help with.

Jessica: I think it’s absolutely great, are you kidding me! (we both start giggling.)  I’m literally so enamoured by this as I was reading the reviews online and I was thinking (in a very suspicious voice) “Really?…I don’t know” but then at the same time why would they be saying it if it wasn’t true, right?!

Duni: Exactly! There’s also 25 FDA approved male enhancement drugs and there are only one or two very questionable ones for women. Women just don’t have anything and I think we’re coming into the age where women are speaking out and saying “Hey” my sex life matters. It matters if I feel good during sex and that I want to feel empowered and deserving too. I think going forward it’s really going to becoming more of a normalcy for women to care about that stuff.

Jessica: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more.  I think people are relatively surprised that, that avenue has even been explored. Just as much as it’s taboo to talk about your sex life, it’s taboo to have had it in your possession.  I think it’s very interesting that it’s old women that are really taking the cannabis jump and saying how great it is!

Duni: They are!! It comes from a female plant, it’s designed for the female anatomy!  It’s meant for us, seriously! Personally, I’ve used it with partners, and by myself. It’s like any other cannabis product – you have to experiment with it so you can see how it works best for you. I also think it’s equally as important to let our readers know that although BOND was designed for women, it does work really well for men (and women) who are into anal play, as the absorption of THC through the back door is rapid. Used anally, BOND does not offer the same direct enhancement of physical sensation as it does to the vagina, but it does get you high as fuck, which enhances sex in its own right.

Jessica: That’s going to be a highlight for some most definitely! Currently, at most rec locations they have a BOND starter kit, called the  “Weekender” which is basically three small vials of BOND oil. Would you suggest one weekender or two weekenders?

Duni: Well the weekender to me is a wonderful place to start, as it’s designed to give three different experiences and has three vials that come with it. One of those vials should potentially be enough for one experience. But I think it’s important to try it a couple of times to know what you like and how it feels for you!

Jessica: What’s the next step up from the weekender? 

Duni: Above that is the full bottle!  It’s a 150mg of THC, and is meant for individuals that know they want BOND, are excited about it and are not afraid to get excited with it!

Jessica: As you are well aware, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner; what would you say to all the men out there about BOND?

Duni: I’d say if you were a smart man, you’d buy this for your lady or partner! I mean who the hell doesn’t want to try this out. What do you have to lose? Nothing! You have absolutely nothing to lose. If my partner got me that for Valentine’s day, I’d be so happy. It’s seriously a great gift. Flower are nice, but seriously they’re not going to make you have an orgasm!

Jessica: Well, thank you, Duni for sitting down with me and talking BOND. I’m excited for women to experiment with BOND. As we all know, that the best sex is broader than a singular moment of release! BONDS a wonderful product that can help us be more mindful about our sexuality and will hopefully invite our readers to have some fun experimenting with their partners or themselves!

Written By: Jessica Krantz

Seven Iconic Dive Bars in Encinitas

What is a dive bar? The debate about what constitutes a dive will never be settled, not even in a bar brawl.  Everyone knows Encinitas has plenty, but what binds them all together? Are there organizing themes? Or is it more like pornography—you know it when you see it.

Much like hipster bars, there are certain generalizations you can make—filth, Christmas lights, cheap drinks, undrinkable drafts—but there are exceptions to every rule. For every time you say no dive could possibly serve macaroni and cheese, there’s a dive that just happens to make incredible lobster. Touche.

But let’s get off the dictionary tip, and get to the list. These bars are all dives. Ultimately, what do they have in common? They’re great places to drink. Here are the 6 Best Dive Bars in Encinitas.

Daley Double SaloonSweet baby Jesus, it’s cheap. Traditionally, that’s a key component of recognizing a dive, though it’s not always the case in Encinitas, but at Daley Double Saloon it is. Your well drink will cost less than $5 and you will want a well drink, or at least you’ll want something not from a tap (again, this is another hallmark of a good dive). Maybe the bartenders can be gruff. But, as is the case with many dives, you have to earn your spot. Walking in and ordering a pitcher and then tapping your foot when things don’t quite speed along is just one way to show you don’t deserve this bar. 

Mr. Peabody’sLocated in a strip-mall, this Encinitas institution is known for its solid jukebox, reasonable prices and being generally welcoming to newcomers who behave themselves. Some people knock Mr. Peabody’s for its strictly measured pours, but Mr. Peabodys location in the heart of the downtown business district, sporty decor and iconic sign mean that no list of Encinitas dive bars is complete without it.

Bar LeucadianIt’s impossible to talk about dives in Encinitas without mentioning Bar Leucadian. This dive bar is an institution in Encinitas with so much history they have a BC and an AD. Honestly, someone could probably write a book on Bar Leucadian and the bartenders have been keeping notebooks about all the crazy stories.  For instance, one guy took a shot of vodka through his eyeball; they once painted the entire establishment pink to raise awareness about breast cancer; and who is going to forget the undercover cocaine sting that temporarily shut them down. This bar is the quintessential dive bar, because it’s drenched in nostalgia and stories of local legends.

The Shanty Cocktail Lounge: The phone’s been disconnected and from the street outside it looks closed. But The Shanty Cocktail Lounge is open, though not necessarily “alive” in the classic sense of the word. The bar is in a coma. Everything has slowed down inside this dive. Everyone’s drink has been set in stone since they first started coming here, decades ago. Order your beer and settle in. Give your resting heart beat the opportunity to hit the bar’s level. Just don’t succumb to heavy drinking and late night sorrow parties.

O’Hurley’s Beach Bar: O’Hurley’s Beach Bar is not a dive bar one goes to if friends are seeking out a “dive bar.” O’Hurley’s is a place where you go to drink with clientele that will be completely foreign to you. Boozebags drink alongside CEOs and misdirected tourists wander in from their hotels, looking astonished by the scene. The apathetic bartender could care less if there are any customers or not, but there always happy to serve anyone who walks in the door (with a smile I might add). There is absolutely nothing special about this bar except for how randomly awesome it is. A refreshing and dingy change of pace for times when you really don’t care to see a familiar face.

Captain Keno’sLast time I was at Captain Keno’s, I talked to a woman who, based on her familiarity with the bartender and other patrons, seemed like she’d spent every weekend since the Clinton administration at this decades-old bar. Turned out she’d been drinking her white Russians there for only a couple weeks. Another month, and she might as well be another patron who sings “Come and knock on our door, We’ve been waiting for you,, Where the kisses are hers and hers and his, Three’s company, too…”! It’s hard not to feel at home when you surround by the eclectic company, that frequents Captain Keno’s.

Have an amazing Dive Bar to share? Let me know in the comments.


By Jessica Krantz ; Originally written and posted for itsencinitas.com