Illinois Police Threaten to Euthanize K-9’s Come Pot Legalization

There seems to be a never-ending list of absurd reasons police and other professions benefitting from the prohibition of marijuana have used to argue against legalization.  The latest comes from a K-9 handler from Illinois, who claimed that dogs currently being used to detect controlled substances would most likely have to be killed.  The fact that current dogs can’t be untrained from detecting the odor of cannabis, doesn’t mean they couldn’t be repurposed within the same department.  Many of these same dogs have already been trained to track down fleeing suspects and could also be used as a threat to criminals hiding in an enclosed space.  Those types of scenarios are routine and seem to happen in every episode of Cops.  While the local police departments would have to procure and train new drug-sniffing dogs for roadside traffic stops, saying euthanization is the likely future for many pups is a desperate scare tactic.  The center of drug investigations in states with prohibition including Illinois has always been marijuana.  These departments have a ton to lose when it comes to funding, staffing, and most importantly, probable cause.  Cannabis has a pungent odor that is the most recognizable among recreational drugs.  This has been used as an excuse to search and arrest countless people for offenses including cannabis but often additional, more serious crimes.

I would like to believe that not all police officers are for the prohibition of cannabis and would enjoy not having to arrest people for simple possession.  This individual officer ( Macon County Sherrif Buffett) was not part of this minority.  He simply knows that the past few years have shown great legislative progress across the nation pertaining to legal cannabis.  The public approval of recreational marijuana has been rising among polls steadily each year and is now said to lie slightly above the 60% mark nationwide.  Desperate times call for desperate measures and in his eyes, this was the last resort speech he needed in order to support the growing problem of mass incarceration. K-9’s were put on the force to be trained and help fight the failed war on drugs.  It’s not the community’s problem that there will be a surplus of dogs that shouldn’t have been used in the first place.  If they can’t be reassigned as mentioned earlier, they could be adopted by gradually removing them from the working environment.  Handlers already live with their dog outside of work hours, so there is no reason they couldn’t adjust to being there all day long.

The impact these type of nonsensical statements have on the public is often opposite from the original intent of the message.  Many more people start to question the true purpose of the anti-pot stance and see right through the distraction and follow the money.  Few still believe the illusion that the government is looking out for your health and the well-being of communities by outlawing plants, but they’re out there.  Opponents like Buffett are simply putting themselves on the wrong side of history before it is written.  Not many people have a positive outlook on Harry Anslinger from the 1930’s or anyone else that put profits over doing the right thing.  The fact that the war on drugs got so out of control and drug squads grew into a local military force, isn’t a reason to keep unnecessary jobs employed.  There are many professions that have been wiped out due to their inability to adapt to change(political or technological) and law enforcement should be expected to do the same.

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Jamaica’s Medical Marijuana Tourism

Up until 2015, marijuana was not legal for medical purposes in Jamaica.  While it may not have been hard to find the sweet leaf in reggae’s homeland, there was little protection from prosecution and no taxes or facilities of distribution.  Many areas of the island suffer from poverty and the absence of a sustainable economy.  There is hope that this new forming industry can provide a tourist goldmine.  In March of this year, the first medical marijuana facility opened its doors to anyone with a medical marijuana prescription from any state in the U.S.  It is called Kaya Farms, and is located on the northern coastline of the country.  They hope to attract tourists from countries all around the world and accept paperwork or licenses of any kind that certifies your use of cannabis is for medical purposes.  Those who do not have a recommendation can come along for the trip too because there is a doctor on site at select times that can provide recommendations at the facility.  Jamaica is really pushing to stimulate the economy and benefit from its premium outdoor cannabis climate.

I think this is a great move by the government to embrace the history of the plant on the island and that they will be successful in raising money and creating jobs as more facilities open.  They are essentially opening their business to an unlimited market of cannabis consumers.  One business will not be able to sustain demand for long and many more will enter in to fill the void.  Looking at how much money a single state has made off taxing recreational weed sales, entrepreneurs in Jamaica should be hopeful.  In the calendar year of 2017, Colorado raised $247,368,473 in tax, license, and fee revenue from operating marijuana businesses (Colorado Department of Revenue).  While Jamaica technically is only selling to patients, one site doctors open up their market significantly.  A beautiful tropical climate draws plenty of tourists as it is, and a place like Colorado can’t compete with its location.  That is not to mention the locals who choose to purchase their medicine from Kaya Farms and other dispensaries.  I believe there are likely well-established suppliers on the black market that will remain in competition with facilities like they currently do in the states.

I know I would enjoy a trip to Jamaica much more knowing I’m already certified to purchase cannabis legally while on vacation.  Not having to worry about finding a reliable dealer with a quality product would be a great relief.  However, because the dispensary just recently opened a few months ago, prices may be inflated.  This is likely to happen due to a lack of retail locations with medicine.  The quality medicine is going to be sold at a premium that surpasses local distributors.  After letting the market develop and saving some cash, the vacation may happen for me.

 

Switching from Titanium to Quartz Nails

For the longest time, I had been using a universal titanium nail that could fit any size rig male or female.  It definitely got the job done and I had no complaints about its functionality.  Dropping the nail by itself would not be an issue because it would never break or take damage.  A few months back, my one friend started pressuring me to buy a new rig and upgrade from the simple setup that I have been using for years.  He was always raving about how much better quartz is and how titanium nails really kill the flavor and terpenes that good concentrates contain.  Always upgrading his smoking equipment at an absurd rate, I didn’t really take his advice seriously and thought it would be better to save my money.  After multiple visits from him and many rips from his heady glass rig, I began to realize how much more flavor and efficiency his piece provided.  At first, I thought it was because he balled out on an expensive rig with more advanced percolators.  I soon realized that the price he paid was mostly due to the heady colors and design itself.  At that point, I zeroed in on the quartz nail extension that could easily be added to any rig, simple or complex.

After waiting until there was a sale on all glass at my local headshop, I finally picked up a quartz banger of my own.  Years of using my titanium nail meant there was going to be a learning curve on how to properly use glass.  It seems that the glass nail heats up much quicker but does not maintain temperature as long.  After a heating time of around 25-30 seconds and an equivalent time of cooling,  the nail is at my preferred temperature.  My absolute favorite thing about using quartz is how long of a hit you are able to take.  The carb cap is just the beginning of the inhaling process.  It’s a struggle to even clear on one breath.  The wax just melts so much slower than on a metal surface.  On top of that, the strength of the flavor is noticeably more apparent.  Since I made the switch, my concentrate consumption has gone up considerably.  There is no way I would be able to go back to my old setup without being disappointed.

There were some features of titanium nails that I did enjoy, however.  Number one would have to be durability.  Dropping these during cleaning is a regular occurrence and it’s a much less stressful situation knowing it can bounce off a hard surface without a scratch.  On top of durability, the titanium nail I had was universal and could be brought to a friends house and used on any available piece.  The nail also stayed hot for a longer period of time allowing a greater range of dab temperatures to experiment with.  Key features that remain most important to me and many others are flavor, duration of the hit, and heat up time.  While a titanium nail is superior to ceramic and domed nails, quartz is on its own superior level.  I recommend making the switch in order to make the most out of your expensive collection of concentrates.

 

 

Synthetic Cannabis and its Dangers

K2, spice, or whatever term you’ve heard to describe synthetic cannabis products, have absolutely nothing at all in common with natural marijuana and the chemicals that the plant produces.  A few years back, it was normal to hear about the drug being sold at convenience stores and the crazy effects it had on the people who chose to smoke it.  On shelves, they were simply labeled “not for human consumption” and sold legally as an herbal blend with unknown synthetic compounds sprayed on top.  None of these chemicals are present in cannabis and were constantly tweaked in order to avoid the expanding list of illegal drugs.  The short-term and long-term effects of the drugs sprayed onto these products have not been tested and remain unknown.  These compounds grew in popularity, largely as a result of the drug testing practices in our country.  The youth are the largest percentage of users of spice and are under the impression that it is similar to marijuana, allowing them to pass drug tests for probation, school, parents, etc.

The reason these drugs are classified and known as synthetic cannabis is that they simply bond to the same cannabinoid receptors that weed does.  HU-210, one of the prevalent compounds in spice products, is 100 to 800 times more potent than natural THC.  This is not to mention it is a single chemical by itself and isn’t balanced out by the presence of CBD or any other natural cannabinoids.  The negative physical effects of these types of chemicals include symptoms as extreme as kidney failure and dangerously high blood pressure.  Whoever markets these harmful chemicals as synthetic weed and legal highs is doing an enormous amount of damage to the community.  Attracting a customer base by selling this poison as “man-made” marijuana has destroyed lives and even killed a few this past month in the state of Illinois.

While it’s great that the years of gas station sales are over, the drug is still being sold by dealers on the street.  In Illinois, four people died this past month due to uncontrolled bleeding from the eyes, ear, mouth, as well as internal bleeding.  Officials are saying this likely is a result of the presence of rat poison in the spice.  Spice that seized from two dealers in the same area of the deaths was tested and came back positive for brodifacoum.  This substance interferes with the body’s ability to blood clot, causing serious amounts of blood loss.  While these people probably died from something added to synthetic cannabis, don’t think for a minute “untainted” spice is in anyway safe.  The psychotic state of mind that is induced by these drugs is not something anyone should want to experience.  On top of dangerous physical side effects, users easily get addicted.  Many users ignore the reports of internal bleeding and continue to use because of dependence.  The Illinois Department of Health says the cases of k2 abuse continue to pour in throughout this month.  These drugs are even more dangerous than many of the traditional controlled substances available on the black market.  It seems the semi-legality of these drugs is fooling people to believe that they are somewhat authentic.

Hopefully this is isn’t the beginning of another deadly trend like the opioid/fentanyl epidemic that’s spread across the country. The best way to minimize more new users from using is to spread factual information about these synthetic drugs to as many people and children as possible.  It needs to be associated with many of the same negative consequences addictive drugs like meth and heroin have on a users health and life.

Matt Barnes and NBA Weed Culture

A lot of people are probably surprised by the news that Matt Barnes (a 15 year forward in the NBA) is claiming a large percentage of players regularly use cannabis.  Athletes in all sports are supposed to have some sort of drug testing program in place.  Not only for federally controlled substances, but performance enhancing drugs as well.  Both of these pose potentially career-changing consequences for the high percentage of cannabis users currently playing.  Athletes are subject to four random test throughout each NBA season.  Once they complete those tests, they would be free to use cannabis as they please without worrying.  The off-season is free from drug testing as well.  These rules on drug testing do provide an opportunity for those who choose to indulge, and according to Matt Barnes, that number is around 85% of the basketball population.

Many people who play sports for fun like myself would be likely to say that consumption before a game made it much more easy to focus and get caught up in the moment of a big play.  Many professional basketball players are using it for different purposes, like relieving the physical wear and tear on their bodies.  It is a much safer and enjoyable alternative to alcohol, and that’s another primary reason for use among athletes.  For Matt Barnes, he admitted to using it before games and that in his best games he had been under its influence.  Being retired gives him the freedom to say these things, and it makes you wonder how many other guys are blazing before they arrive at the arena.  It shouldn’t matter at all whether they decide to or not, as long as long as it’s not negatively affecting their performance.  An athletes consistently demonstrated ability is what should determine their playing time on the floor, as long as their not abusing performance-enhancing drugs. Cannabis is not like traditional performance-enhancing drugs that boost muscle growth and are made in a lab.  However, like any drug, it affects people differently and if some players indulged before a game, it could be a disaster.  It should be the player’s judgment call, not the leagues on what substances to use.  With marijuana legal in 8 states and medical marijuana legal in a majority of the rest, the prohibited status in the NBA is becoming more questionable.  The actions of some of their players are sometimes 100 percent legal where they live or are traveling to.  Use of alcohol and prescription pills remain allowed but are decreasing in popularity.

Using cannabis while strict testing and rules are in place, speaks volumes about how beneficial it is to those in the league.  Some fans, as well as the sports media, will view a violation of marijuana rules as a big deal.  More importantly, it will be viewed as unprofessional by the coaches and results in some serious consequences for repeated offenses.  The first time a player is caught failing a test, they must simply complete a substance abuse course.  After that though, they face hefty fines and larger game suspensions for each violation of the rule.  It is also likely with the insane competition that a pretty good athlete can be lost about among all the other options who lack a marijuana record.  The time has come for the NBA to catch up to the public’s opinion, as well as the laws being passed across the country that are legalizing and decriminalizing the plant.  Studies have shown how opioid abuse has gone down in states that legalize medical or recreational marijuana and there’s no reason why the same thing wouldn’t happen within the league.

Recent Dispensary Closings in Michigan

Since the new year has began, I personally have already had to switch dispensaries that I was using due to the new medical marijuana regulations coming into effect.  Starting December 15th of last year, the state began accepting applications for the various types of businesses including: cultivation, processing, transportation, and retail shops.  Retail dispensaries that were operating for years without any problems with local ordinances are now receiving letters ordering them to shut down until they are approved for a new license.  According to the Detroit Free Press, over 200 dispensaries in the state have been sent these cease and desist letters.

While the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs claims that the availability of medicine will be unaffected for patients, there are other consequences to this move.  Although profitable, opening a dispensary demands an enormous amount of overhead and variable costs. All of these business owners who had invested money in both their property as well as the medicine they had in stock, are going to lose patients during the temporary to permanent closure.  This is not right, and if they didn’t want them operating they shouldn’t have ever been given permission.  Yes they technically were unregulated businesses, but that was how the system had forced them to operate for years under the protection of local ordinances.  Some of these businesses in the past had even gone the lengths of relocating in order to comply with the ridiculous zoning requirements imposed by the city of Detroit.  Even playing by the rules doesn’t always guarantee protection of your business in this industry.  This transition period of awarding licenses to applicants is supposed to end in June, but at it’s current pace many in the industry are expecting delays.

There are many different opinions on whether this regulation is a good thing for the cannabis community or not.  The regulation establishes new taxes for those using it for medical purposes.  It also will make a system to track a plants progress from seed form to sale and ensure all products are only produced by licensed commercial cultivators.  Personally, I think regulation is not a good thing and it should be left to the already existing large community of cultivators who produce much higher quality cannabis on a small scale.  The patient- caregiver system that was established in 2008 when medical cannabis passed in Michigan, is still the backbone of the industry.  Dispensaries that are currently existing get their medicine from caregivers or patients, not some 3000 plant  facility that machine trims commercial quality bud.  It seems inevitable that with regulation small time grows will be undercut by those growing on a large scale.

The dispensary that I choose to visit now for my concentrate and edible needs, is much larger then other collectives I had been a member at.  The inventory selection is much larger as well as a higher number of employees working.  Larger dispensaries seems to be the trend as the number of operating dispensaries continues to be squeezed by the state government.  To this day it remains a risky business plan to enter the “not quite regulated” medical marijuana industry in Michigan.  For those looking to get into the trade, it would be best to apply for one of the new licenses and then wait before trying to set up shop during this uncertain time.

My Current Brand Preference on Vape Cartridges

Just like in many other states licensed to sell medical marijuana products, Michigan has a large variety of competitors and brands fighting for their own market share in the industry.  Pre-filled vaporizer cartridges are still a relatively new to the industry, and many different producers are attempting to dominate that niche.  One of the first brands to do it was The Clear.  Although they were one of the originals to introduce the technology of pre-filled vape cartridges, other emerging companies are making a name for themselves.  From better mouthpieces to new heating elements, newer technology is making it harder to stick with the Clear.

Not too long after the Clear’s release, dispensaries began to stock their shelves with an overwhelming amount of options.  I have tried several types of cartridges including: FlavRX, Platinum Vape, Illuminati, Claw Concentrates, Fire Stix, Thon, and Pure Michigan Oil.  The list of brands currently producing cartridges here in Michigan is so long I probably haven’t tried half of them.  One reason for my lack of cartridge exposure is the price point of some of the oils.  I don’t find it sensible to spend more then $40 each time on a refill.  Some of the top shelf or larger gram size cartridges go from $60-90 a piece, and I’m simply not willing to give those a try for something I only use when I can’t smoke flower.

Out of the options that are reasonably priced, me and my friends prefer Thon over the rest.  As I mentioned earlier, the mouthpiece and heating element are a step up from the traditional cartridge design.  The heating element is no longer a wick at the bottom of the chamber, but a cylinder that evenly heats the medicine and eliminates any waste that might otherwise get stuck to the sides.  Another must have feature is the the anti-leak design built into the bottom of the chamber.  With other products, its a constant struggle making sure that my pen is sitting upright so none of the good stuff goes below the heating wick.  All these perks to the design are nice, but it wouldn’t be too helpful if I didn’t mention the medicine itself.  After just a few pulls, it has pretty noticeable effects.  A few more and it’ll have you stoned for an hour or so.  With all cartridges duration has been an issue when compared to buds.  There are no test results or cannabanoid percentages labeled on the packaging but it is identified as a distillate.  The various flavors they offer are named by the strain that the oil originated from, which is more helpful then calling it strawberry or peach cream.  Every strain I have tried is tasty in its own way, and if you’re not careful you’ll catch yourself hitting it constantly.  If this brand is accessible in your location I highly recommend picking some out from the overwhelming wave of options.