Tag Archives: cannabis

Coca-Cola and Aurora Consider Producing Marijuana Infused Drinks

This week another beverage giant, Coca-Cola, has shown interest in possibly partnering with Aurora Cannabis in order to develop various weed-infused beverages.  While nothing has been verified by either company, they have both made statements confirming that they are thinking about pursuing this business opportunity.  Even though no solid agreements were made, this didn’t stop Aurora’s stock prices from soaring today.  It saw an increase of 12% when the news of this partnership first broke.  Both companies have hinted that they will be producing beverages that are more focused on approving health then getting stoned.  CBD seems to be the main focus of Coca-Cola, at least for the time being.  They mentioned that the non-psychoactive compound is already being used in beverages across the world for health benefits and that they are monitoring this closely.  It is likely that they are focusing on this instead of THC infused drinks because recreational marijuana is not yet legal in Canada or the U.S.  There will also be a period of time after it is legalized next month where stores will not yet be operating.  So it makes sense to first focus heavily on the already existing medical marijuana industry.

If this partnership were to happen, it would be the first time a major non-alcoholic drink producer entered into the cannabis market.  This is shortly after the major $4 billion investment Constellation Brands made in Canopy Growth, Canada’s largest medical marijuana producer.  A lot of investments and partnerships are being considered as we come closer and closer to recreational marijuana in Canada.  Alcohol producer Molson-Coors had already announced earlier this year that they plan to produce cannabis-infused drinks with Hydropothecary.  I would be willing to bet there will be more partnerships made by companies that have no existing relationship with cannabis.  As long as a corporation has the existing infrastructure to easily produce a cannabis-related product or service, the possibility exists.  Coke would have to invest little to nothing into their existing bottling and distribution centers.  They would just need to source CBD or other cannabinoids and simply add it into the existing production process.

Cannabis infused drinks, if priced competitively, are extremely popular among cannabis consumers and patients.  It is a great way to consume cannabis without the harms of smoking or eating unhealthy infused sweets.  Most popular edibles that are produced have lots of fat and sugar.  The target market for these new types of drinks would be the more health-conscious consumer.  That is as long as Coca-Cola doesn’t decide to produce marijuana-infused drinks that are as bad for you as drinking coke.  I think it would be a much smarter move to create a drink with much less sugar and caffeine.  After all, they are planning on producing a beverage aimed at improving health.  If they are successful at accomplishing this, they may even be able to reduce the negative stigma associated with their popular brand name.

Both companies have made it clear that there is absolutely zero guarantee that this merger will happen despite the great opportunity.  Having an enormous corporation like Coca-Cola on Aurora’s team would put it in a better position to compete with Canopy Growth.  They also probably will be developing marijuana-infused beverages with the knowledge and expertise Constellation Brands brings to the table.  Both Coca-Cola and Aurora saw a rise in their stock value without any solid plans being announced.  Imagine what type of increase they would see if a merger is confirmed, or if Aurora was able to expand to the United States.  There is great opportunity ahead for Canada’s biggest medical marijuana producers.

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Medical Marijuana and Universities

Medical marijuana legislation in the United States currently provides essential protection from prosecution to approximately 2.3 million patients.  These patients are allowed to take their medicine almost everywhere, but when it comes to a federally funded college campus, those protections can vanish.  Medical marijuana use is viewed as narcotics use thanks to the controlled substance act that still lists marijuana as a dangerous drug.  Colleges are continuing to enforce a complete prohibition of the plant, and I’m afraid some people are not aware that bringing their medicine on campus can have serious consequences.  Not only have some students faced criminal prosecution, but they have also suffered additional penalties from the school administration.

One of the best ways to eliminate running into any trouble would be to seek off-campus housing.  It simply isn’t a viable solution to live in a dorm and hardly ever be able to find relief.  There would be nowhere safe to store it and even the idea of smoking off campus would mean getting a new small supply each time.  Edibles would be effective and stealthy, but many people prefer smoking/vaporization because the effects are immediate and much more predictable.  Storing edibles may be harder to detect but I would still not recommend keeping it anywhere on school grounds.  It wouldn’t surprise me if university police decided to weigh the whole edible and charge as if it were normal cannabis.  Having your medicine at housing near campus guarantees no legal trouble and allows you to use it as needed.  Patient possession limits are often set high enough to be considered intent to sell by police/universities.  In Michigan, patients are allowed to have 2.5 ounces in their possession which would easily land non-patients a felony charge for intent to distribute.  Always remember you’re subject to different laws on school grounds, regardless if it’s a college, high school, elementary etc.

I’m uncertain how long this type of prosecution will continue but I would expect to see some legislation taking effect before federal law officially changes.  Arizona has already made headlines this year when the supreme court ruled that banning medical marijuana on public colleges violated the protections of the voter-approved law.  Students in Arizona who have medical marijuana cards will not face criminal prosecutions but they have faced administrative penalties.  The possession, use, and sale are all still prohibited on college grounds due to the federal funding provided by the U.S. government.  That funding would not be threatened based on whether students are criminally prosecuted, but instead would be based on whether schools still prohibit the substance.  This is definitely a step in the right direction as students will likely be willing to risk administrative action in order to have their medicine easily accessible.  While other states have yet to enact similar policies, colleges across the country are removing the requirement that first-year students need to live on campus.  Universities are doing this so patients can continue using their medicine and pursue an education without the risk of endangering their future.  We still have a long way to go to ensure protection in the educational environment is not limited to those who treat their illnesses with pharmaceutical drugs.

 

New Bill Would Allow Government Workers to use Legal Weed

As things stand right now, private corporations across the country in states with or without legal weed are drug testing applicants and current employees for marijuana.  This is not required by law but instead has been a common practice among businesses since the drug war was launched in the 1970’s.  Even when states began legalizing the herb for medical and recreational purposes, things have remained the same.  There may have been a decrease in the number of employers testing for marijuana or other drugs, but it’s still very common.  A large reason for this is insurance companies refusing to provide service to businesses unless they make a considerable effort to maintain a drug-free workplace.  Even though there is evidence showing the ineffectiveness drug testing has had on workplace safety, tradition has trumped information.

It was exciting to hear that on July 26th a bipartisan bill was introduced to Congress called the “Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act”.  If passed it would prevent the government from denying employment to new employees or punishing existing employees for a positive THC drug test given that the cannabis use is legal in that state.  Civilian government employees cannot be punished as long as the use was outside of the workplace.  The only other exception to the bill is that positions requiring a high-security clearance are not barred from testing for the drug.  This would be an enormous positive change for the entire country because many private companies would likely follow suit and stop testing for the drug as well.  Also, I’m sure there are a ton of recreational/medical marijuana users who have passed up an opportunity or never considered working for the federal government due to their marijuana use.  The government has been notorious for its strict policies on cannabis use citing its schedule 1 status under federal law.  My mother and other people I know who are civilian employees have been randomly drug tested and went through a thorough background check to ensure there’s no history of drug use or other criminal activity.

The fat-soluble nature of THC is what allows the government and companies to be able to detect its use.  Essentially all other drugs that are known to man exit the body in a much shorter period of time.  For example, meth is only detectable in urine for around 72 hours.  One long weekend and you’re good to go back to the office on Monday after a tweaked out Friday night.  Heroin and Cocaine are the same way.  It seems the hard drugs are eliminated by the body much quicker as if our body is flushing them out for our own well being.  With marijuana and other drugs, detection times will vary from person to person due to an individuals metabolism among other factors.  Marijuana metabolites are stored in fatty tissues and are slowly released into the bloodstream over the course of days or weeks.  If this weren’t the case there would be little reason to drug test employees. It would be much harder for those who use other drugs to be detected by an upcoming drug screening.  The effectiveness of workplace drug testing would be further questioned and likely eliminated shortly after marijuana is no longer tested for.

Allowing government employees to use cannabis on their own free time could benefit the employer as well.  It gives them a much larger list of qualified applicants to choose from and likely a better candidate for the position.  Outside of new employees, existing employees may decide that using cannabis to relax and unwind is a much more effective than alcohol.  Having access to a safer alternative could help prevent work-related problems caused by alcohol abuse.  Also, employees won’t have to hide their use from co-workers and will be less hesitant to build stronger relationships with the people they work with.  Those suffering from medical conditions that interfere with their effectiveness on the job would be able to find relief without turning to prescription medication that comes with a long list of side effects.  The list of positive results from a bill like this passing could go on forever and I can’t wait to see the workforce begin to openly accept the cannabis community.

 

 

Perfecting the Seedling Stage of Growth

When a seed has visibly sprouted above ground and its first set of leaves are visible the seedling stage has officially begun.  There are several different environmental conditions you can control to help your young plant grow a strong root system and a supportive main stem.  One of these conditions is keeping a consistent air flow present at all times.  It is crucial that there is some wind resistance blowing against the support system of the plant.  I’m sure you have witnessed the images of long skinny cannabis stems that are stretching like crazy for the light without any root support.  The wind that comes from your fan will signal to the plant that it needs to build a stronger foundation in order to survive its conditions.  Cannabis is amazing at adapting to whatever environment it is placed in and that’s why it can grow in climates throughout the world.  Be sure when first adding wind to the environment, that you gradually get your plant use to the airflow.  At first, it’s going to be extremely weak so putting the fan on a medium/high setting could really stress out the plant beyond the point of recovery.  As the stem continues to grow stronger, kick the fan up to its usual setting.

Humidity should also be in central focus early on in the plant’s life cycle.  It is crucial to maintain the appropriate humidity throughout the entire growing process because humidity affects the rate at which your crops will transpire.  Cannabis plants will always try and maintain a equilibrium when it comes to the water levels inside and outside the plant.  So if the humidity in the grow room is too low the plant will begin to transpire dangerously quick and lose its necessary nutrients.  New stunted leaves, dying flowers, and older shriveling leaves are all indications of rapid transpiration.  In the seedling, stage humidity needs to be at its highest levels.  I would recommend aiming for 70% and decreasing by around 5-10% each week until reaching the 40% mark.  Until the plant has fully developed roots, lower levels of humidity in the air will cause stunted growth.  It’s important to understand that levels above 45% are usually dangerous and unwanted in a grow room because they can cause mold and mildew in mature plants.  It’s often hard to reach 70% humidity for your seedlings without the help of humidity domes or using a humidifier.

Another important determination to make is when to begin adding nutrients to the plant.  I would say that it should be right around the same time you set up the fan and begin building its root structure.  Up until the point where it shows its first set of leaves you should be fine using plain water that has been PH’d correctly.  When you do begin adding nutrients, remember less is more and that the last thing you want to do is cause nutrient overload this early on.  General Hydroponics brand has a chart that includes the appropriate amounts for the different stages of growth, including the seedling stage.  I would use this as a guide more than a precise measurement.  They often overstate the amount of nutrients you need in order to sell their product more quickly.  I would also start smaller than the recommendations for other brands too until you know exactly how your plant will react.

The last important thing a grower should monitor is the space between the light and the top set of leaves.  During this stage, I would highly recommend only using compact fluorescent lighting due to the intensity of other lighting sources.  Just like with high winds, high voltage lighting can cause irreversible damage that the plant may never recover from.  Even with CFLs, not maintaining the right distance can cause similar problems.  The ideal height should only be 2-4 inches above the highest point of the plant.  Any higher than that, and you’ll likely see it begin to stretch into a skinny long stem.  These lights still emit heat and if they are really close will cause leaves to wither and dry up.  Make sure to check the height at least once a day and make adjustments as needed.  Maintaining the perfect environment early on always pays off and leads to a strong support system capable of holding the densest of buds.

 

FDA gives Approval to CBD based Epidiolex Drug

The drug that was given approval this week, is a liquid medicine treatment derived from CBD-dominant strains that have been cultivated by GW Pharmaceuticals.  There have been sufficient clinical trials to prove that it significantly reduces the number of seizures suffered by epileptic patients.  Nothing related to the cannabis plant has ever come close to approval from an entity as important as the FDA.  The closest thing to marijuana that has been approved by the FDA is a synthetic version of THC called dronabinol.  It is a man-made version of tetrahydrocannabinol and is not derived from any natural plants.  Its prescribed to cancer patients suffering from nausea as a result of chemotherapy.  This ruling is a much larger step in the right direction because in order for it to be marketed to patients with Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, it must be rescheduled by the DEA.  CBD still currently holds a schedule 1 status preventing it from being prescribed to patients.  The Drug Enforcement Agency is expected to do so within 90 days due to the scientific confirmation of its effectiveness through numerous trials.

I believe this is going to start a wave of cannabis-based medicines being introduced into the pharmaceutical environment.  People are going to see the acceptance of Epidiolex as an open door to try and treat other ailments using derivatives from the plant.  The Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies can not make money off something that can be grown from a seed so none of these medicines will be cannabis in its natural form.  In the case of epileptic patients, especially children, smoking the buds from plants is not a viable option.  Children suffering from these awful diseases will no longer have to fear criminal punishment on top of trying to just live a somewhat functional life.  Patients suffering from Dravet Syndrome have an average life expectancy of 8 years (National Institute of Health).

The other disease that this drug can soon be prescribed for is Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.  According to the LGS Foundation, one clinical trial at New York University showed a 47% of patients showed a 50% reduction in seizures after 3 months of treatment.  It’s also important to mention that 9% of these people were actually seizure free at that time frame.  This is just incredible that it is actually eliminating seizures altogether for certain patients.  Results like these are backed up by many other studies that show even higher numbers of participants seeing a large reduction in the number of their seizures. The DEA should see rescheduling CBD as a number one priority for these children.  With limited years to live and any seizure having the potential to be their last, officials need to act fast to provide a reliable source of the medication.  It will be treated like any other prescribed drug and can be picked up from local pharmacies, not compassion centers or dispensaries.

Traditional medical marijuana dispensaries offer a variety of extracts that could work well with seizures as well.  The only difference is they have not been given the attention from government officials that Epidiolex received likely due to its non-psychoactive properties and its easy to use liquid consistency.  Patients will be able to ingest the medicine by the use of a dropper for precise dosing.  This can be done anywhere without drawing any attention that smoking marijuana brings.  It’s also possible that there will be additional medical uses approved by the FDA for this exact same drug with no chemical changes being made.  Its unique features give it a higher potential of being approved than other new and existing marijuana medicines that may be tested by the FDA.

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.

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.