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Howard Marks, Famous Cannabis Activist, Passes Away After His Battle with Colon Cancer

Dennis Howard Marks, a notorious cannabis smuggler commonly known as “Mr. Nice,” passed away on April 10th, 2016 from colon cancer. He was seventy years old.

In the later years of his life, Marks was a popular folk celebrity that ran for UK Parliament, wrote autobiographical accounts, and publicly defended the legalization of cannabis. Sensi Seeds, one of the world’s largest and most well-known cannabis seed companies, created a strain called “Mr. Nice” in honor of Marks.


However, the years in which Marks was illegally smuggling cannabis were not always comfortable for him or his family. The Howard Marks story varies depending on which account you choose to trust, but most accounts agree that it was a wild ride.

Looking Back at the Life of an Iconic Trafficker

Dennis Howard Marks was born in 1945 in Kenfig Hill, Wales. He eventually began training to become a teacher at various English colleges between 1967 and 1970.

Kenfig Hill, Wales

Kenfig Hill, Wales

In 1970, Marks found himself amongst a group of hashish smugglers supplying London dealers. Over the next two years, the group Marks was working with was able to expand their import business to several other European countries including Ireland, Germany, and Wales.

By the end of 1972, Marks was a successful hashish trafficker allegedly making £50,000 with every shipment. Around this time, he began a relationship with MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, because he was connected with many hash-producing countries as well as the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

After a 1973 arrest by Dutch authorities, Marks went into hiding, and secretly returned to England the next year. It was then that he began his relationship with Judy Lane (m. 1980-2005).


From the mid-seventies to 1980, Marks found himself setting up increasingly larger trafficking deals between groups like the American mafia, the Thai and Pakistani Armed Forces, Nepalese monks, and other “Far East connections.”

In 1980, Marks was firmly on the radar of  international policing agencies. He was arrested in 1980 and released in 1982. In 1984, he was a part of a botched CIA plot involving $300,000 worth of cannabis. In 1986, he moved to Majorca, where he was able to elude authorities through his many international contacts.


In 1988, Howard and Judy Marks were arrested and extradited to the United States by the DEA. Judy Marks was released after serving a few months in Spain for her minor part in the trafficking ring. Howard Marks was sentenced to 25 years, though he only ended up serving seven at Terre Haute, Indiana’s secure Federal Correctional Complex.

During his time in prison, Marks is said to have made many friends, including notorious criminal bosses, and even took time teaching other inmates about philosophy in the evening hours.

He was released on parole after a prison officer testified he was a model inmate helping fellow prisoners pass their GED exams.

Life After Prison: The Icon Tells His Story

After his 1995 release from prison, Marks began a writing career detailing his international exploits. In 1997, he ran for four Parliament seats at once, all on the single issue of cannabis legalization.


During 2003, Judy and Howard Marks split over alleged infidelity on his part, and the couple officially divorced in 2005. Judy Marks has written her own account of living alongside an acclaimed drug trafficker (Mr. Nice and Mrs. Marks), and has since been very critical about the real nature of the man Howard Marks.


On January 25th of 2015, it was publicly announced that Marks was suffering from inoperable colon cancer. The recent passing of Howard Marks has once again revived the incredible real life story of one of the world’s most successful cannabis dealers.


Marks will be remembered for being a fun, loyal, and eccentric individual with creative and outrageous ideas that pushed smuggling to new limits.

Study Examines Cannabinoid and Terpene Development Patterns for Three Cannabis Chemotypes

Our understanding of cannabinoid science improves with every single study published. Since the re-discovery of the endocannabinoid system, we have attempted to map the complex relationship between the plant, its chemical constituents, and the way these compounds interact with our bodies.

Taken from the Cannabis Health Index

Taken from the Cannabis Health Index

For decades, the facts of cannabis science have evolved as we better comprehend cannabinoid synthesis, genetic hybridization, and the formation of the cannabis plant in general.


A recent study published in the Journal of Natural Products examines the evolution of major cannabinoid and terpene production during a growth cycle of three different cannabis chemotypes. This study monitored three chemotypes of cannabis, each defined by the ratios at which they produce the acidic forms of the two most researched cannabinoids: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

Cannabinoid Terpene Study Journal of Natural Products

In this study, titled “Evolution of the Cannabinoid and Terpene Content During the Growth of Cannabis sativa Plants from Different Chemotypes,” the results indicate that patterns exist within different cannabis chemotypes, which is very valuable data for breeders, cultivators, and scientists.

Study Design for Evaluation of Cannabinoid Production

Determining the best methods for optimizing production of specific cannabinoids is difficult work. The results of this type of work will ultimately lead to more efficient production patterns.

The researchers from both Spain and Switzerland designed the study to measure cannabinoid and terpene content throughout the growth stages of three different cannabis chemotypes. The three chemotypes focused on heavily in this study were:

  • Chemotype I: High THCA/CBDA ratio (>1.0)
  • Chemotype II: Intermediate THCA/CBDA ratio (usually 0.5-2.0)
  • Chemotype III: Low THCA/CBDA ratio (<1.0)

Cannabis plants with high THCA/CBDA ratios are generally classified as drug-type plants. Cannabis plants with substantially higher amounts of CBD (chemotype III) are typical fiber-type plants. There are two other chemotypes (IV and V), both for fiber-type plants.

The study measured cannabinoid and terpene growth from the root growth phase (R.G.), through the vegetative phase (V.P.), and even goes past the flowering phase (F.P.) to examine post-flowering degradation of cannabinoid production.

cannabis groth phases, clones

The researchers analyzed clones from stable mothers that produced standardized chemotypical content. Approximately 50 clones were taken from each mother; chemotypes I and III were represented by three mothers each, and chemotype II was represented by only one mother. All of the clones were grown indoors under controlled conditions to eliminate as many variables as possible (20-28* C and 40-70% humidity).

Examination of Cannabinoid and Terpene Production Rates

The results and discussion of this study are complex, and you are encouraged to go and read through the full publication (4 pages) to see all of the supporting informational materials (57 great reference points).

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 10.12.54 AM

Above is the first graphic presented: a simple cannabinoid synthesis chart presented within the study. Beyond THC and CBD, the researchers examine the presence of CBGA, the precursor to THCA, CBDA, and the less-known CBCA.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 9.37.03 AM

Figure 2 shows the content (mg/g) of three different cannabinoids (CBGA, CBDA, THCA) in the three different chemotypes (I, II, III) researched in this study. The graphs on the left are the cannabinoid contents of the leaves throughout the growth cycle, and the graphs on the right represent the cannabinoid content found within the flowers.

Please be advised on a publication typo: the y-axis of the CBGA graphs mistakenly reads CBDA content.

From the results shown above in Figure 2, you can see the patterns of cannabinoid production within each chemotype, and also the similar patterns of cannabinoid production between each chemotype. The concentrations of THCA and CBDA in the leaves exhibited the same evolution for every chemotype. Another similarity that was to be expected was that regardless of chemotype, a major increase of cannabinoids was evident during the initial stages of trichome development.

As for CBGA, the concentration of CBGA “remained constant in the chemotype I plants, whereas it decreased in plants from the other two chemotypes” after the flowering period had commenced. The authors of this study found this synthesis rate of THCA and CBGA in chemotype I varieties to be very interesting, and a subject that deserve future attention.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 10.32.43 AM

Figure 3 displays data regarding the development patterns of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes among the three examined chemotypes.

Monoterpenes are a class of terpenes that consist of two isoprene units and have the molecular formula C10H16.

Sesquiterpenes are a class of terpenes that consist of three isoprene units and have the empirical formula C15H24. Like monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes may be acyclic or contain rings, including many unique combinations.

-From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monoterpene production displayed the same evolution trends found with THCA and CBDA (Figure 2). Sesquiterpenes exhibited a different pattern of concentration throughout the growth cycle. After the flowering period, sesquiterpene production in all three chemotypes remained stable, whereas monoterpene concentration was abundant after the flowering phase.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 11.39.49 AM

“As observed in Figure 4… there was a clear distinction between chemotype I plants from the rest (two clusters) and between the leaves and the flowers in each cluster (leaves in blue and flowers in red).

The chemotype II plant was closer to the chemotype III plants than the chemotype I plants, most likely because of its higher CBDA content. From the loading projection, the cannabinoids and terpenes of each class of samples were identified as those that are similar to CBDA and THCA. Thus, the higher CBGA and CBC content can be attributed to chemotype I plants.

Moreover, terpenes, such as β- eudesmol, γ-eudesmol, guaiol, α-bisabolene, α-bisabolol, or eucalyptol, were much more pronounced in chemotype III plants, whereas γ-selinene, β-selinene, α-gurjunene, γ-elemene, selina-3,7(11)diene, and β-curcumene were characteristic of the chemotype I plants. This chemotype-dependent terpene distribution was also observed in the correlation analysis of the data.

As indicated in Table 1, terpenes that were more pronounced in chemotype III plants had higher correlation coefficients with CBDA than with THCA. In contrast, the characteristic terpenes of chemotype I had high correlation coefficients with THCA and negative coefficients with CBDA.”

Taking Advantage of Cannabinoid Concentration Data

Cannabis has been sorely misrepresented in the scientific world, so the efforts required for studies such as this one should be appreciated by our industry and our community. The results of this particular study show encouraging opportunities for cultivators and breeders to further improve their cannabinoid production methods.


Understanding cannabinoid production rates will allow for future projects and research to focus on better breeding techniques and methods for developing cannabis genetics that contain specific profiles of cannabinoids, terpenoids, and even flavonoids.

Every opportunity to increase our overall knowledge about cannabis science is a very positive step in improving the way we discuss this plant and its chemical components.

Cannabis Reports supports all cannabis studies because clinical data will help us all better understand our relationship with cannabis. Check out our science feed for future examinations of cannabis research. For the most up to date info on Cannabis Reports, follow us on Twitter, and like us on our Facebook page.

Cannabis Cultivation: Methods to Harvest the Finest Buds

The outdoor cannabis season is coming to an end, and soon all of our favorite flowers will be ready to harvest. For cannabis cultivators, appropriate timing and proper techniques are essential for producing the finest quality buds. Smoke Reports feels that the cannabis harvest deserves the spotlight, so that regular consumers have a better idea of the hard work needed to yield top shelf flowers.

Determining the Right Time to Harvest

When it comes to cutting down cannabis plants, timing is everything. As the plant nears the end of its grow cycle, the resinous trichomes reach their peak production. In order to produce a high grade crop, cultivators observe each individual plant to make sure it is not cut before trichome production is at its highest.


The trickiest part for cannabis cultivators is making sure that the resin production does not pass its peak, because that is when the trichomes begin to degrade, and the cannabis loses cannabinoid potency. Knowing when to cut you cannabis plants requires daily vigilance, and a keen eye for the ripest resin glands.

Flushing the Plants of Extra Nutrients

Before cutting down any plants, there are some very important steps that cultivators must take to cleanse their cannabis. Plants nearing the end of their cycle still have excess nutrients, like sugar and starches, that will alter the quality of the cannabis if left in the plant. The removal process is called “flushing,” and should begin roughly two weeks before the harvest.


There are several techniques for flushing nutrients out of cannabis, but essentially the flushing period is when the cultivator feeds the cannabis using pure water without any nutrients. By over-irrigating the growing medium, the nutrients dissolve and wash away, leaving plants with only water in their systems.


Removing nutrients by flushing the plant with pure water leads to nitrogen deficiency, which turns the leaves yellow. Experienced growers test the liquid flowing from the cannabis stem, and once the bitterness is gone, the plant is successfully flushed.

Final 24 Hours

The final forty-eight hours before the harvest is a crucial time for cannabis cultivation. There are many techniques for producing the highest potency flowers, but a majority of techniques agree that right before harvesting, there should be a final flush followed by a full day of dryness. Plants that are left to slowly dehydrate generally see a boost in their final hours of trichome production.

Resinous Trichomes Filled with Cannabinoids

Resinous Trichomes Filled with Cannabinoids

During the final twenty-four hours, growers employ various methods like exposing the plants to dry air, and prolonged periods of darkness. These methods are thought to boost resin production as well as draw any leftover plant nutrients to the root section, and away from the flowers.

Harvesting and Manicuring

After painstaking preparation in the final days of the cannabis flowering cycle, the plants are ready to harvest in sync with peak trichome production. The entire plant is cut away from the root ball, and the leaves are removed from the branches, exposing the pockets of resinous flowers along the stems.



At this time, cultivators begin to manicure the cannabis flowers by snipping away the smaller sugar leaves that surround the cannabis flowers, leaving aesthetic buds with minimal excess plant material. The branches are then hung to dry for roughly a week in order to remove moisture.


Curing Cannabis

The quality of cannabis can be determined by potency or by taste. Properly curing cannabis flowers can improve the overall quality of the buds by evenly removing the final bits of moisture. The time needed to cure depends on the initial quality of the flowers, and good cannabis cultivators have a lot of experience at when to begin and end the curing process.

curing cannabis

Curing is the process of removing the half-dried buds from the branches and sealing them in air-tight containers. This containment causes the buds to “sweat,” and become evenly moist. The containers are periodically opened, and the moisture within the container is exchanged with the dry fresh air. By opening the container several times a day, the air exchange removes the moisture within the herb, sucking nearly 75% of the weight of the original plant matter.


Cultivating perfect cannabis flowers is truly an art. There are thousands of cannabis farms across California, and in a few weeks all of them will be going through these steps with varying levels of complexity. Still, it is important that consumers and patients recognize the importance of technique during the cannabis harvest.  Cannabis flowers do vary from every grow, but consistent quality is almost always produced by careful attention from the cultivator.


For the most up to date info on Smoke Reports and our ever-growing cannabis database, follow us on Twitter @smokereports or like us on our Facebook page. You can also join the discussion in the comments section below, or through our social media links.

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