Chocolope Strain Report

When I think of strains that are always in rotation at local medical marijuana gardens, one that quickly comes to mind is Chocolope.  This sativa is not hybrid-like in its effects at all.  Its genetics come from two parents who are known for having clear energetic highs.  Chocolate Thai was bred with Cannalope Haze to create this patient favorite.  From the growers’ point of view, it is a great choice because it has a short flowering period of around 9 weeks.  That time period is more common in indica strains that grow short and bushy.  Leave space in the grow room because the branches will grow tall and reach high come flowering season.  It has all the characteristics people expect out of a sativa besides a quicker harvest.

The buds are relatively dense but not to the degree of a kush strain or something like Green Crack.  The name fits perfectly because in my experience those buds are usually as heavy as rocks.  The potency is everything you could ask for and it is astonishing to me how I can stay motivated in this state of mind.  I also noticed that I can still use it after a long day at work to unwind and easily fall asleep, while other times my mind will run for hours with a sativa.  Opening up a jar results in a very sweet coffee-like scent, which I find hilarious.  Matching up the scent of the bud with another stimulating drug is a perfect way to show the consumer what they’re in for effect wise.  A lot of times its easy to tell what the flavor might be like based on scent, but this is next level.  Flavor isn’t so much coffee-like, but it has more of an earthy piney taste.  My grower hasn’t gotten the medicine tested for cannabinoid percentages but based on experience and the degree of trichome coverage, it won’t disappoint when it does.

When it comes to medical uses, I would say it shouldn’t be the first choice for those trying to alleviate pain.  That is unless the pain originates in the head due to migraines or another condition.  There are other strains that do a better job of relaxing the entire body and removing painful discomfort.  It is very uplifting in even small doses so someone with depression could greatly benefit from using Chocolope.  It worked great for me when I was under lots of stress in college worrying too much about deadlines and performance.  I would highly recommend students to use this strain during their daily routine because they can lower anxiety levels without losing the drive to get things done.  Food definitely tastes great like with all types of weed, but this one isn’t anywhere near the strongest of appetite stimulators available to those struggling to eat food regularly.  This strain will always be one of my go-to strains for energy for as long as the growing community keeps it around.

 

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Florida Allows Patients to Use Raw Smokable Cannabis

Great news came from a Florida courtroom this weekend as smokeable forms of medical marijuana became legal for registered patients to possess and use.  Prior to this ruling, Florida medical marijuana patients were limited to using alternative oils and forms of the drug that could not be smoked.  (Dispensaries have mastered making the best vape cartidges I’ve ever tried)  Raw marijuana was allowed, but only if it was being used with a vaporizing device.  It appears that allowing raw marijuana but not allowing it to be smoked seemed ridiculous to a Judge who ended up ruling that the law was unconstitutional.  The state argued in the case that smokable cannabis was not an effective treatment method for the list of qualified conditions.  Judge Gievers said that wasn’t important, and that when the state gave patients constitutional protection from prosecution it shouldn’t have been restricted to different forms of the plant.  Even though the original law was unconstitutional, court testimony from suffering patients would have convinced the judge to overthrow the rule anyway.

I knew that the no smoking rule wasn’t going to stick around long in Florida or anywhere else it’s enacted because there is no way to enforce it unless they caught someone in the act.  Patients were allowed to have the raw form of the drug because vaporization was allowed.  Nothing was stopping that patient from rolling the buds into a joint and smoking them.  It’s the traditional way of using cannabis for a reason; it’s extremely effective.  A lot of patients need immediate relief when they use their medicine, so they can’t wait around for an edible or pill to take effect.  A lot of stoners would argue that the high you get from hitting a vaporizer is a different experience than smoking a joint or bong.  There is a more clear-headed feeling to vaporization and some people need the knockout punch that will put them to sleep.  On top of that vaporizers are very expensive and many people would prefer not to make that initial investment.

The medical marijuana law enacted in 2016 did not lay out possession limits and prohibited all home cultivation.  The Florida Department of Health establishes the amount of cannabis a patient can consume on a daily basis and physicians are allowed to write certifications for three 70 day periods each consultation.  There is definitely a ton of regulation and strict rules surrounding the new industry.  I believe much of this will disappear like the ban on smoking and patients will be given more rights such as growing their own medicine and not having to visit the physician on numerous occasions each year.  I would also predict that the amount of qualifying conditions will expand outside the serious debilitating diseases currently on the list.  Many more people can benefit medically from the plant even if their ailments are not life-threatening.  However, even with the law as it stands, Florida is definitely leading the way when it comes to the southern United States.  Medical marijuana laws are either non-existent or not yet operational/highly restrictive down south.  Georgia and Alabama, for example, have no medical marijuana laws available outside of CBD-only forms of the drug.  Catching a marijuana possession charge in either of these states means up to a year in jail and possible license suspension.  I hope to see Florida continue to lay the foundation for these states and progress to a more sensible system of medical marijuana like Michigan has.  The number of patients will likely increase with the news of the judges ruling as will the number of options available at dispensaries.

Legalization’s Impact on the Value of Cannabis

The monetary value of cannabis is obviously going to depend on the location at which it is produced and subsequently sold.  Ten years ago the price of cannabis was still location dependent, but now legalization in select states has had a unique impact on the prices of pot products.  In states where it is recreationally or medically legal, the value of bud grown from local growers is lower then it ever has been.  This is because they need to undercut the legally operating dispensaries in order to remain in business.  The addition of legal suppliers along with the original black market growers means supply is growing.  While demand remains as high as it always has been, the expanding number of suppliers will continue to lower weed’s value.  For those states that have not experienced recreational or medical dispensaries, there has been little to no impact.  A lot of the marijuana that is grown in legal states by caregivers or individuals is being transported to these states in order to maximize profits.  For example, a top-shelf $1800 pound in a state like California can easily be resold for $3000-4000 in places like New York or Florida.  That discrepancy is only for wholesale prices. If it were broken down into smaller quantities, the difference in value would become much more apparent.

Many growers like myself are hoping that the demand for high-quality craft cannabis will survive the transition to commercially grown weed.  It’s not going to be feasible to give 5,000 plants the individual attention they need in order to maximize potency and flavor.  Small-time growers have much more control over the environment and are better able to prevent insect outbreaks and nutrient deficiencies.  On top of that, many of the people entering the industry have the required financial investment but no previous experience in the illegal culture.  Those who have been operating in the shadows for years and dominating the market will always have the obvious advantage of experience.

The one that will benefit most from the legalization movement will 100% be the consumers.  Outside of being protected from prosecution, they now have the ability to produce their own marijuana or purchase cannabis from a variety of suppliers at a cheaper price.  While the price of legal cannabis is sometimes cheaper then what consumers were paying during prohibition, high-quality buds still sell for a premium.  That provides an opportunity for black market growers to re-claim the connoisseur market.  For now, they are still able to attract customers because they can compete with prices and taxes being charged at retail locations.  Those new to cannabis and those unable to identify characteristics of a desirable strain will be attracted to dispensaries.  Lacking connections among local growers means they will pay whatever their local shop charges.

The immediate impact on legal prices of marijuana will be undesirable.  When Washington opened its doors to anyone over the age of 21, they were charging over $30 a gram.  Those prices are unheard of by those who have been purchasing weed for any amount of time.  Despite the price, the lines stretched long and far the first few weeks of legal sales.  The new feeling of walking into a nice shiny retail location is priceless for some it seems.  Being able to participate in that moment of history after 70 years of prohibition, is what drove people to wait in line and pay high prices.  I would love to take a survey amongst cannabis consumers in states with dispensaries and ask them whether their source is a retail location or local grower/distributor.  Black markets certainly still exist, but it would be great to understand the exact magnitude legalization has had on the cannabis community.

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.

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.