Category Archives: Issues

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.

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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.

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.

Price of CBD Products Relative to Traditional THC Products

Many of us cannabis consumers have no problem paying a premium price for a product that is significantly more potent then normal.  On the flip side, CBD-only producers and distributors have proven people are willing to pay top dollar for the non-psychoactive variety of medicine.  There is no doubt that these types of products extracted from the hemp plant has many uses in the medical world just like dried cannabis flowers do.  However,  I was completely shocked to learn the prices these companies were advertising this natural product for.  To be clear, there is absolutely zero euphoria or uplifting qualities to these edibles and oils.  At the same time, people find it helps them relax at night and fall to sleep easier without any noticeable areas of pain.  It also has a relatively short list of negative side effects when compared to man made medicine.  These include: low blood pressure, dry mouth, and sometimes drowsiness.

Despite the positive benefits CBD can offer to patients with different aliments, it is no competition for the plant in it’s natural form containing all the cannabinoids.  All patients that benefit from the effects of CBD would also benefit from the effects of THC because they balance each other out so much better then when either is isolated on it’s own.  The CBD market is limited to those who can’t consume cannabis because it’s illegal  as well as children, who nobody wants getting high.  There are also those who fear failing a drug test and losing their job in an unstable economy.  CBD is an attractive product for these groups of  people with medical problems.  There is a much larger market for people who want to really have a euphoric and enjoyable experience, one worth their hard earned money.  So how much are these people selling CBD oils and gummies for exactly?

There were definitely variety and price differences among distributors like with any manufactured product on the market, but all remained within a rather small ballpark.  For a bag of infused gummy bears the most competitive price I could find was $20 for a relatively large bag.  It would probably be enough to get you through a couple days, but that would be the extent of it.  Imagine spending $20 every few days.  Even for medicine that provides great relief, most people would think twice about that price tag.  The Oils are not cheap either and depending on amount of milligrams of CBD and milliliters of fluid, range from $20-$60 a dropper.  They are probably your best budget option though, as the edibles wouldn’t last nearly as long as dropping a few drops every time you dose.  You could purchase a traditional edible for $10 that would likely be an extremely strong dose capable of splitting into at least two separate sessions.  Not only would it be euphoric, but extremely effective at helping someone sleep for hours uninterrupted.

The way CBD is currently being priced, it’s pretty clear that if you have safe access to cannabis products to choose them over CBD products for medical purposes.  You will be spending a similar if not smaller amount each month on your medication and are likely to be less stressed along the way.  Unless you really don’t like the feeling mary jane gives you, I suggest sticking to the flowers.

 

Dealing with Tolerance

Any seasoned smoker will tell you that cannabis produces noticeably milder effects when you use it too often.  For some people their tolerance takes much longer for it to increase and they receive the full effects of cannabis even when using it consistently.  I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’re wishing that person was you.  However, there is something that you can do about it and you don’t have to stop using weed for long periods of time.

The best way to approach a high tolerance is the next time you want to indulge, just use far less then what the your normal routine is.  So if you normally smoke an entire joint at a time then next time you smoke just smoke a quarter of the joint and put it down.  Time is your enemy when it comes to lowering your tolerance and if you wait even just a few hours before re dosing this will definitely help increase the intensity of your medicine.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing is better then just stopping completely for a few days to a few weeks when it comes to resetting tolerance. At the same time,  you would be surprised with what using less each time and consuming it fewer times then normal will do after a while.  Pretty soon that small amount will get you feeling just as high if not higher than the whole joint did back when you were smoking all day long.

For those of us that like to use the concentrates regularly just switching back to flowers will also work wonders.  Hitting the rig after a week wax break will have you floating away again after you cough out a lung or two.  Switch up your methods of consumption from using your heady piece to rolling up some joints etc.  Repetition is what can make a valuable experience mediocre and something new always seems to have an added effect.  Even changing up the location or the activity you usually end up doing can make a big difference.   There are so many things you can do without quitting completely to strengthen the effects of cannabis.  The rule of thumb is to change up your routine and dosage and taking occasional breaks to reset the mind.