Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Most people view marijuana legalization as a floodgates moment where long-time black-market marijuana users can finally go to the corner
store to buy ultra-potent strains of the drug in large quantities, and spend their free time testing the hypothesis that it is impossible to overdose on marijuana.
This may be true, but according to a recent report by Deloitte, widespread marijuana legalization may also create a large market of first-time users trying legal marijuana products out of curiosity. According to the report, these consumers are expected to seek out a less potent, more socially acceptable method of ingesting the substance. Forbes.com has the story:
It seems the American CBD craze has invaded Canada. Now, more of those customers, presumably the ones with less experience with hard-hitting pot like GG#4, or these things called dabs are requesting products heavy in the non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant. These people are the focus of the latest market report that suggests new, legal users (typically older folks) are more intrigued these days by the stress relieving powers of the plant than they are in getting wrecked.
"CBD is becoming kind of an 'it' word in cannabis. We see a real trend there," Andrew Pollock, vice-president of marketing for The Green Organic Dutchman, told CBC News.
Due to the forecasted demand for low-THC pot products, dispensaries may want to consider advising customers on the advantages of micro-dosing. Some are already making this part of the plan. After all, this low-key method for consuming cannabis, which is geared toward the person wanting to maintain a functional high without drooling all over themselves and dreaming of tacos all day, is already catching on in parts of the United States.
"(They say) two milligrams or three milligrams just has a mild relaxing effect and doesn't interfere with you going about your day," said Tom Adams, managing director of BDS Analytics in Colorado.
It's not totally surprising that this new consumer segment seems to be emerging. After all, the purpose of legalization is to make marijuana safer through regulation, and more accessible to the public. The Deloitte report describes current black-market marijuana users as young "risk takers" indicating that their use of marijuana is driven by a desire to "live life to the fullest", and that its illegal status does not curb that desire–if anything it amplifies it.
However, the report goes on to project that the marijuana consumer of the future will be more interested in a less frequent, more relaxing or therapeutic marijuana experience. In other words, once the drug is legalized it will no longer be a ritualistic and taboo exercise in hedonism, but instead will become more akin to the occasional glass of wine or scotch. Further, the report projects that marijuana users in the future will be willing to pay a premium for their products, and will place a high value on knowledgeable staff and diverse product selection. These insights further the parallel between marijuana and alcohol, as recent years have seen a growing demand for high-quality craft beers and locally distilled liquors sold by knowledgeable bartenders and similar connoisseurs.
Government regulators are sure to be happy to hear this information, as there have historically been some concerns that marijuana legalization would result in increased habitual drug use, leading to a host of other societal problems. At least for now, it sounds like cannabis consumers of the future will approach the drug with caution and treat it as an occasional indulgence, rather than instantly succumbing to the "Reefer Madness" that many used to fear.
October 31, 2018 in Business, Drug Policy, Edibles, Federal Regulation, International Regulation, Medical Marijuana, News, Recreational Marijuana, State Regulation, Voter Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Every U.S. state that shares a border with Texas has passed legislation to legalize medical marijuana -- so what does that mean for the Lone Star State?
I recently had a chance to talk to one of the lawyers on the front lines of that issue, Daniel Mehler, of Dallas's Roper & Mehler. Mehler, a former Coloradan, decided to become a lawyer when Colorado began moving towards legalizing medical marijuana. He planned to help companies start up in the industry. At graduation, Mehler found that the Colorado legal market had plenty of big names focusing on marijuana. So, not wanting to work long hours for little pay with one of those law offices, he moved to Texas, a business-friendly state, and here he waits, gaining cannabis expertise, ready for the day that Texas jumps on to the legal marijuana train trudging through the country.
Here, the self-proclaimed "dopest lawyer in town" talks about his front-row seat to what's happening.
Ashley Goldman: Have the numbers of citations and arrests for possession of marijuana increased as the bordering states have legalized medical marijuana?
Daniel Mehler: I'll tell you, in the Panhandle, there's been an absolute explosion of felonies, penalty group two felonies, involving THC concentrates and edibles. Those have just rapidly multiplied. While down in Austin, and obviously you’ve seen it in Dallas, as well San Antonio and Houston, they've moved in the complete opposite direction with small cannabis offenses–decriminalization. A Houston district attorney ran on a legalization platform and got elected. They don't even prosecute misdemeanor pot anymore.
AG: So, it is more the state-border cities that are having problems?
DM: You see it in West Texas. I wouldn't say they're having a problem. I think cannabis has always been there, there's just a massive flood of concentrates moving in through all of the [state] border towns. The border counties–those poor, rural districts–and those out in West Texas jump all over it as a profit center. They see an opportunity to arrest people for a felony and get them on several years of probation or to charge them a steep fine for an alternative offer, some $5,000–7000 for a pre-trial diversion program. And people are scared to go into the penitentiary. I'm sure you know from your class, but lots of people don’t realize that 4 to 400 grams is a second-degree felony, so all of a sudden, those gummy bears are really serious crimes.
AG: So, Colorado’s legalization of recreational correlates to additional arrests here in Texas, versus other border states that require a medical card or other identification?
DM: Absolutely. It'd be purely speculative, but I would say that with Oklahoma’s move into the medical marijuana space, the arrests will continue to rise. Oklahoma will have one of the most wide-open medical policies in the country, a very unregulated market. They've granted 1100 business licenses and I would expect that the amount of felonies in the DFW area is about skyrocket. I think that you're going to see massive federal prosecutors in the Metroplex. You know, they’re 45 minutes from the border. People will be able to buy that shit easily. I would expect that you'll see people that have been involved and moving cannabis into Texas relocating just across the border in Oklahoma and Oklahoma become a massive source whenever it's in the game.
AG: You mentioned decriminalization of marijuana in most of the major urban areas in Texas. Do you think that with the other two border states’ [Oklahoma and Louisiana] medical markets opening up in the next few months that the decriminalization might shift a little and they may not be as lenient, especially in the DFW area?
DM: No. I think everyone recognizes that with flower, nobody gives a shit in 2018. It’s become increasingly difficult to seat the jury anywhere in the state and actually convict people on simple pot charges. In December 2016, in a San Antonio, Bexar County court, we got the first low-THC cannabis jury instruction for a Texas case. We got a not guilty in about five minutes, and not because it was about low-THC cannabis, but the jury just didn’t care. We gave them a way to acquit and they did. So, I don't think we're going to see any shift. Where the problem is, is that people don't realize that a cookie is a second-degree felony; that vape pen is a state jail felony. These aren’t simple possession charges. People don't understand that cannabis products are treated differently than cannabis flower.
AG: Maybe you could explain that a little further, it is because the charge is based on the weight of the product?
DM: When THC is separate from the flower, it’s a charge under a separate code section. It starts as a penalty group two controlled substance. So as a result, adulterant dilutants, that is, the cookie, the entire weight of the cookie, not just the cannabis, get weighed for the charge. The actual gummy bears become the entire weight, not just the amount of the THC. Where it's really bad actually is in the cannabis-infused drinks. That 12-ounce soda only has 30 milligrams of cannabinoids, but the person ends up getting charged for 12 ounces of THC concentrate–that gets you to 400+ grams, so a first-degree felony.
AG: So that's definitely something that people who are wanting to risk it and bring it across the border need to keep in mind.
DM: It's something they need to keep in mind, but let's not kid ourselves, I don’t how attuned you are to the black market in Dallas, but that’s the risk premium. That makes that $8 gram of shatter (aka wax, dabs) in Denver worth $50.00 on the street in Dallas.
AG: So, there is a large black market for some of the other products, besides the flower?
DM: There’s a massive black market. It would it be purely speculative, but I would say hundreds of millions of dollars just in DFW alone in the concentrate market. I mean you can get an ounce in Colorado recreationally for about $300, take it to Dallas, and sell it for $1,400 if you sell it as 28 individual grams. With that profit gradient, you’re never going to stop people from doing that. And the reality of it is, an ounce of concentrate is small and relatively easy to conceal.
AG: Is Texas fighting a losing battle in trying to keep “legal” marijuana out?
DM: Absolutely. The reality of it is, the cannabis is already here but the Texas money is going out of state. Unfortunately, it's going out of state for black market channels. Texas consumers statistically consume more weed than anybody else and that's not going to change. What we see is quality continues to increase. South Texas used to be dominated by imported Mexican brick schwag weed [i.e., low-quality marijuana usually dry and brown]; it effectively doesn't even exist anymore. As prices have plummeted in Colorado, you see commensurate price declines in Texas on the flower side. With the concentrates, because of the risk premium with the felony prosecution, those prices have really stayed pretty steady. But as prices of flower have plummeted to where you can buy it at $90.00 an ounce in Denver, where it used to be $350.00 an ounce for good flower in Dallas, you can now pay for airfare and go buy your own for that price. Now prices have plummeted and Texas is awash with California, Colorado, and Oregon grown cannabis.
AG: What about DWI or DUI Charges? Are you seeing increased prosecution for individuals accused of driving high? Is there any difference based on region?
DM: There are pockets in the state with increased prosecutions, like up in Wise County. They seem to ask everybody that they arrest with marijuana coming down [Highway] 287 when the last time they smoked was. We're seeing a spike in prosecutions for DWI for marijuana. The problem with DWI on marijuana is there's no science to back any of it up, whereas, there's actually validated science that alcohol impacts everybody the same way. Everybody will exhibit the same physical manifestations of intoxication at a given level of alcohol in their system. Marijuana doesn't work the same. A casual smoker, consuming the same amount of THC, will get a lot more intoxicated than an everyday smoker, smoking the exact same product. Also, when you get into measuring intoxication there is a problem in that physical manifestations are different based level of metabolites. The only thing we can test in the blood to get an actual [measurement of cannabinoids in someone’s system] are metabolites that are pharmacologically inactive. The science of THC shows that peak intoxication happens literally just minutes after your last hit if you're smoking it.
AG: So, before it does get metabolized and stored in fat cells or whatever else?
DM: Yeah. In Colorado, they have started studying the link between metabolites and impairment, for instance, a five nanogram per liter of blood per se limit. Well, the vast majority of your medical cannabis users in Colorado are already above that when they wake up in the morning before they even spark their first flame.
AG: That seems like one of the major downfalls of trying to have any enforcement, but a really good opportunity for scientists to get in there and figure out a way to measure it.
DM: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has already funded studies. You're seeing a move in that direction. They want to validate [the science] so they can prosecute. But then, there's actually a study that said marijuana smokers are less of a threat than alcohol users because marijuana smokers are actually cognizant of their impairment and take compensatory measures. As a result. Generally, stoners don't get emboldened by being stoned.
Continued at [link to part 2]
Saturday, October 13, 2018
With a flash of a Medical Marijuana Card, people could be bringing home lasagna infused with cannabis oil or bringing infused blueberry muffins to breakfast thanks to the very first cannabis kitchen, Mint Kitchen.
With shows on Netflix like Bong Appetit, edibles are moving from the space brownie to your grandmother's lasagna. This idea will debut in Tempe, Arizona on Oct. 5th and it will be the trial run for any kitchens in the future. In order for Mint Kitchen to run, it had to obtain a dispensary license, and then it had to go through an inspection run by the Arizona Department of Health Services. This is unchartered territory. Dispensaries have been selling pre-packaged edibles but this kitchen aims to elevate the standard of edibles to beyond baked goods and gummy bears. They were given a 9 month approval after the inspection.
The food will not be one dose across the board, the customer can pick the dosage in their food to go best with their treatment plan with doses starting at 10mg. The food will also have to be consumed off premises and will all be packaged for to-go. This type of access could beg the question of safety and the dangers of people taking this cannabis infused food and doing with it what they will. Those fears have existed with cigarettes and alcohol and maybe we will see similar measures taken, but this is the first kitchen of its kind and there will be bumps on the road.
The owners and chefs want to reach out the public and open the door to exploring cannabis and how it can interact with food. They are going to offer free cooking classes to those with medical marijuana cards, but they will have to register ahead of time. Mint Kitchen will offer a variety of foods from burgers to gelato, enough to satisfy anyone's cravings.
Friday, September 28, 2018
Charlotte Gill, the owner Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, contemplated that very idea when thinking about how lobsters are cooked. It is fair to say that no reasonable person would want to be thrown into boiling water while still alive (or dead for that matter) so Charlotte, a self-proclaimed animal lover, decided to use the recently legalized recreational marijuana use for more than her own satisfaction.
She decided to get the lobsters high before cooking them in order to ease their pain and suffering. While, scientifically, questions still remain as to whether lobsters can even feel pain or get high, Charlotte contends that,
it is undeniable that the marijuana is having the intended effect. In a series of tests, restaurant employees put a lobster in a small container and added a few inches of water. They channeled marijuana smoke through a tube until the container was filled with it, and kept the lobster there for about three minutes.
Before the lobster went into the container, it would flap its tail and click and wave its claws. After being exposed to the smoke, the lobster was docile and serene.
It’s still a very alert lobster, but there’s no sign of agitation, no flailing of legs, no trying to pinch you. So calm, in fact, that you’re able to freely touch the lobster all over without them trying to strike at you or to be aggressive in any way.
This method is preferable, she said, to dropping a live crustacean into boiling water without the marijuana.
A more important question, to the Maine government at least, is whether getting lobsters high before cooking them leads to the consumer getting high; essentially, whether a high lobster turns into an edible post-cooking. Charlotte and her employees conducted their own experiments to find out those results,
staff members have tested their urine after eating the marijuana-treated lobsters, she said, and no trace of the drug has been found. In the latest experiment, Ms. Gill’s 82-year-old father has been eating copious amounts of marijuana-sedated lobster every day; he will soon take a blood test.
She said she hoped her tests could prove to the state that the lobsters were not absorbing the marijuana.
It is a unique and creative way of utilizing the legalization of marijuana, undoubtedly. While questions to remain as the effects on humans; whether lobsters feel pain; and whether lobsters can even get high; this use has garnered plenty of publicity for the restaurant -- yet another way marijuana legalization has helped boost business.
For now the Maine government is still skeptical as to whether this use should be allowed.
-Fernando Lira Gomez
With Oklahoma's changing view towards cannabis, Cannafe, a cafe in Norman, Oklahoma, plans to open soon with a line of food and beverages containing CBD. OU Daily has the story:
A new cafe will open on Campus Corner selling coffee, tea, brownies, cheesecake and other snacks — all containing cannabis compounds.
Co-founders of Cannafe, Jim Castor and Joel Jacobs, envision the cafe as a place for students to study and relax. This will be aided by cannabidiol, known as CBD, and other molecules from the cannabis plant that can help reduce anxiety and improve focus, said Jacobs.
CBD is a cannabinoid, or a compound found in cannabis plants. However, unlike the mind-altering compound THC, also found in cannabis, CBD does not get people high and is non-psychoactive, according to Medical News Today.
“It doesn’t alter how you can function,” said Castor. “You can still do your job and go to work and go to school and study and relax, and it just kind of takes the edge off.”
The owners also want to provide a non-alcoholic space where students too young to go to bars can hang out during the daytime or between parties.
You may now be curious as to if the sale of products containing CBD is even legal in Oklahoma. Oklahoma established the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) to regulate medical marijuana (MMJ) in response to its legalization in June. However, the OMMA only regulates MMJ and does not speak to CBD products. Thus, without specific regulation against CBD products, Oklahoma tolerates the sale of these products, according to MarijuanaBreak.
Monday, September 17, 2018
They took out alcohol in 1886 and cocaine in 1929, but the makers of Coca-Cola--America's "Real Thing"--are now looking at adding cannabis to their beverages. Bloomberg is reporting:
Coca-Cola says it’s monitoring the nascent industry and is interested in drinks infused with CBD -- the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that treats pain but doesn’t get you high. The Atlanta-based soft drinks maker is in talks with Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis to develop the beverages, according to a report from BNN Bloomberg Television.
“We are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world,” Coca-Cola spokesman Kent Landers said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News. “The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.” Landers declined to comment on Aurora.
. . .
Coke’s possible foray into the marijuana sector comes as beverage makers are trying to add cannabis as a trendy ingredient while their traditional businesses slow. Last month, Corona beer brewer Constellation Brands Inc. announced it will spend $3.8 billion to increase its stake in Canopy Growth Corp., the Canadian marijuana producer with a value that exceeds C$13 billion ($10 billion).
Molson Coors Brewing Co. is starting a joint venture with Quebec’s Hexo’s Corp., formerly known as Hydropothecary Corp., to develop cannabis drinks in Canada. Diageo PLC, maker of Guinness beer, is holding discussions with at least three Canadian cannabis producers about a possible deal, BNN Bloomberg reported last month. Heineken NV’s Lagunitas craft-brewing label has launched a brand specializing in non-alcoholic drinks infused with THC, marijuana’s active ingredient.
Soda pop sales in the U.S. have declined for a dozen years in a row. This might just get them back on track.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Since marijuana was legalized in 2012, a running joke depicting strangers slipping marijuana-infused candy to young trick-or-treaters continues to be told. But proponents of legalization are expressing their frustration with such myths. They insist that there has been zero evidence of this ever happening and argue that opponents of legalization use this as a scare tactic to prevent legalizing marijuana. The Associated Press for Snopes reports:
Advocates say marijuana candy has seemingly become the new “razor blades in the apples” Halloween urban myth, with police around the country sharing the message despite the lack of any known cases.
Sharon Lauchaire, a spokeswoman for the [New Jersey] attorney general, said there have been “several instances” in the state and elsewhere of children becoming ill after eating edible marijuana. She declined to respond to follow-up questions to cite specific cases and evidence of anyone doing this on Halloween.
Although politicians and law enforcement officials are unable to cite instances of strangers preying on innocent children, they maintain that such warnings are still necessary. Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Ocean County, New Jersey, admitted that the likelihood of a stranger giving a trick-or-treater marijuana-infused candy is "very slim." But he insists that the official warning to "check your kids' candy[.] If something's not in a manufacturer's wrapper...throw it out" remains warranted.
Such concerns are exacerbated by the extreme similarities between marijuana edibles and regular candy. Bill Brothers, owner of the Encanto Greens Dispensary in Arizona, admits that he probably could not tell the difference between marijuana gummy bears and regular ones if they were side by side. Brothers also believes that these 'Halloweed' fears could be relieved if the marijuana industry improved the labeling of its edibles. For example, the industry could increase the size of any marijuana-related words on the packaging and stop designing the wrapping like candy wrappers.
[Children being exposed to marijuana-infused candy is] an ongoing concern no matter what day of the year it is. Halloween is the unofficial candy holiday, so people should take extra precautions even if the October 31sts of the past haven’t shown up anything yet.
If parents of young trick-or-treaters are still worried about strangers using their expensive edibles to poison children, they should take solace in the fact that there has never been a confirmed case of someone dying from an overdose of marijuana. Further, the only known case of a child dying from poisoned candy occurred in 1974 when the culprit was none other than the child's own father.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
Canada's largest kosher-certification organization has turned down a request for certify medical marijuana because doctor-prescribed medicine doesn't need to be kosher in the first place. See this story from Canadian Press:
The Kashruth Council of Canada met Thursday to discuss an application from MedReleaf, a licensed producer of medical pot. The meeting followed news in the U.S. that a New York company would soon offer certified kosher medical cannabis products.But after "a lot of interplay and exchange," the Kashruth council decided the Jewish faith doesn't require sick people to consume kosher medicine, said managing director Richard Rabkin.
"Something that is medicine, that's prescribed from your doctor, that you need to take for your health, that doesn't need kosher certification," he said by phone after the meeting.
"We don't really want to get into the business of providing kosher certification for something that is doctor-prescribed. We're not going to go down that path."
Kosher foods are those that conform to Jewish law, with strict guidelines on the types of foods that can be consumed and how they are prepared.
Rabkin said there's a principle in Judaism that the preservation of human life overrides other religious concerns. If one must consume something non-kosher to survive — or, in the case of medical marijuana, to relieve pain or seizures — one can and should do so.
He acknowledged that some medical cannabis users might prefer to consume kosher pot, but he said a conversation with a rabbi should alleviate their concerns.
. . .
In fact, not all kosher certification agencies agree with Kashruth on medical marijuana.
Kosher Check, a global kosher certification agency headquartered in British Columbia, debated the issue two years ago and decided in favour of certifying edible medical pot products.
Rabbi Mendy Feigelstock said while preservation of life does come before all else in Judaism, his organization decided it would be helpful to offer a kosher choice for those who want it.
He said dried marijuana that is smoked is automatically considered kosher since it is a plant. However, edible products including oils, capsules, brownies and cookies would need to be certified.
"There are people who are suffering and unfortunately sometimes the only medication left for them is marijuana, which could ease their symptoms, and to force a person to smoke it seems silly," he said.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Boulder, Colorado, is implementing a marijuana education plan for teenagers, according to a piece on Colorado Daily.com.
A survey last year by the city showed that a substantial majority of teenagers believed that binge drinking was harmful, but that regular use of marijuana was not. The city of plans to make $250,000 available this year to change the perceptions of young people on marijuana.
Those in charge suggest that the program will focus on comprehensive substance abuse education, not just marijuana. The fear is if that you focus on one and not the other then you are telling the kids that one is less harmful than the other. The program wants to instill that the abuse of any substance can be harmful.
Substance abuse, say supporters, rarely happens in isolation and the program will work on helping kids with their “refusal skills.” Those in charge say that the money fueling the program will go to groups that have already been working on substance abuse programs in Boulder. The basic game plan is to fund these groups for three to five years and use an evidenced based approach -- as as opposed to simple scare tactics -- to change public perceptions. From the article:
Even as the perception of risk is going down, the 2013 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey found that the number of teenagers who had ever tried marijuana declined from 39 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2013 and those who had used it in the last 30 days declined from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013. The decrease was not considered statistically significant. The 2015 Healthy Kids survey is being conducted now, with results to be released in 2016.
The city may also give money to efforts to educate parents about preventing accidental ingestion of edibles by young children. Hospital admissions for accidental ingestion have increased threefold since recreational marijuana was legalized, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Shawn Coleman, a lobbyist who represents marijuana businesses in Boulder, said it's not surprising that the city would put money into education, as that was one of the allowed uses for a special marijuana tax approved by voters in 2013. However, without evidence that teen use is increasing, he would like to see some of that money go for more clerks and inspectors so that it is easier for businesses to renew their licenses and expand their businesses.
In addition to regular sales tax, Boulder has an additional 3.5 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana and a 5 percent excise tax, approved by voters in 2013. The ballot language says that tax revenue should go first for administration and law enforcement resources related to marijuana, then for "treatment, education, responsible use, intervention and monitoring with an emphasis on youth," then for the general fund.
In 2014, those marijuana-specific taxes generated $1.05 million, and the city had collected $1.6 million as of September of this year, the most recent month for which final sales tax numbers are available.
Stetson Cromer is a 3L student at Texas A&M Law School in Fort Worth.
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Time Magazine (yes, apparently it's still being published): An Increasing Number of Young Children Are Being Exposed to Marijuana, Study Shows:
More children under 6 across the U.S. are being exposed to marijuana, according to a study released on Monday.
The study, conducted by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, showed a 147.5% increase in marijuana exposure among children younger than 6 years old between 2006 and 2013. That rate spiked by 610% over the same period in states where marijuana was legalized for medicinal purposes before 2000.
Although the total number of reported cases — 1,969 children between 2000 and 2013 — is not large, the researchers say the rapid escalation in the rate of exposure is a cause for concern. More than 75% of the children who were exposed to marijuana were under 3 years old. They ingested it in the form brownies, cookies and other foods containing the drug.
“Any state considering marijuana legalization needs to include child protection in its laws from the very beginning,” Gary Smith, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s, told Science Daily.
His co-author Henry Spiller says the high instances of marijuana ingestion are most likely due to the popularity of marijuana-laced food.
“Very young children explore their environments by putting items in their mouths, and foods such as brownies and cookies are attractive,” he said.
It's hard to tell how serious a problem this is; I suspect the "legal" nature of cannabis has caused an increase in reporting, as parents are willing to admit to having weed when they take their kids to the hospital.
That said, kids will eat pretty much anything they find around. As a toddler in the late 1950s I polished off most of a bottle of my dad's Gallo White Port on one occasion, and a fair amount of lawn mower gasoline (which smelled really good) another time. Both resulted in hospital visits.
Kids find stuff and eat it; parents need to take special care when toddlers are around.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Marijuana and heavy metal have gone together since at least the Seventies, when you rolled doobies while Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath LPs spun on the turntable.
They still apparently get along, but now it turns out that heavy metal is often found in the marijuana that's smoked these days. Along with other stuff that manufacturers don't want necessarily to put on the labels. From Smithsonian.com:
In Colorado, which made marijuana legal in November 2012, the latest results show that the pot lining store shelves is much more potent than the weed of 30 years ago. But the boost in power comes at a cost—modern marijuana mostly lacks the components touted as beneficial by medical marijuana advocates, and it is often contaminated with fungi, pesticides and heavy metals.
“There's a stereotype, a hippy kind of mentality, that leads people to assume that growers are using natural cultivation methods and growing organically," says Andy LaFrate, founder of Charas Scientific, one of eight Colorado labs certified to test cannabis. "That's not necessarily the case at all." LaFrate presented his results this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Denver.
LaFrate says he's been surprised at just how strong most of today's marijuana has become. His group has tested more than 600 strains of marijuana from dozens of producers. Potency tests, the only ones Colorado currently requires, looked at tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that produces the plant's famous high. They found that modern weed contains THC levels of 18 to 30 percent—double to triple the levels that were common in buds from the 1980s. That's because growers have cross-bred plants over the years to create more powerful strains, which today tout colorful names like Bruce Banner, Skunkberry and Blue Cookies.
Those thinking that stronger pot is always better pot might think again. Breeding for more powerful marijuana has led to the virtual absence of cannabidol (CBD), a compound being investigated for treatments to a range of ills, from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia, Huntington's disease and Alzheimer's. Much of the commercially available marijuana LaFrate's lab tested packs very little of this particular cannabinoid. “A lot of the time it's below the detection level of our equipment, or it's there at a very low concentration that we just categorize as a trace amount,” he says. Consumers specifically seeking medical benefits from cannabis-derived oils or other products may have a tough time determining how much, if any, CBD they contain, because Colorado doesn't currently require testing.
“I've heard a lot of complaints from medical patients because somebody claims that a product has a high level of CBD, and it turns out that it actually doesn't,” LaFrate says. Colorado also does not yet require testing of marijuana for contaminants. Washington, the second state to legalize recreational marijuana, does require such testing for microbial agents like E. coli, salmonella and yeast mold, and officials there rejected about 13 percent of the marijuana products offered for sale in 2014.
"It's pretty startling just how dirty a lot of this stuff is," LaFrate says. His team commonly found fungi and bacteria in the marijuana products they tested. But for now it's unclear just how much marijuana growers need to clean up their product. "Like ourselves, this plant is living with bacteria that are essential to its survival. In terms of microbial contamination, it's kind of hard to say what's harmful and what's not," he adds. "So the questions become: What's a safe threshold, and which contaminants do we need to be concerned about?"
At the top of that list would be chemical contaminants in products such as concentrates, like the hard, amber-colored Shatter, which contains more than 90 percent THC, LaFrate suggests. Concentrates and edibles (think brownies) make up perhaps half of the current Colorado market. Their makers sometimes suggest that their chosen products are healthier than standard weed because they don't involve frequent smoking. But some manufacturers employ potentially harmful compounds like butane to strip the plant of most everything but THC. Tests also show that marijuana plants can draw in heavy metals from the soil in which they are grown, and concentrating THC can increase the amounts of heavy metals, pesticides or other substances that end up in a product. That means regulations for their production still need to be hammered out, LaFrate says.
“People use all kinds of different methods to produce concentrates,” LaFrate says. “They allow people to use rubbing alcohol and heptane. But what grade of solvents are they using? Are they buying heptane on eBay, and if so, what exactly is in there? There are a whole bunch of issues to figure out, and right now there are not enough resources and really no watchdog.”
Hey, here's a thought: Maybe the FDA could get involved.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Friday, December 26, 2014
One of the nation's leading ski destinations is launching a campaign to educate visitors on how to use pot safely. I haven't seen the brochure, but I have to assume it suggests that using it on a ski slope may not be the safest thing to do. Here's the story:
The state government and the marijuana industry in Colorado are working to educate people about how to use pot safely. But in the high Rockies, one community is taking matters into its own hands.
The local sheriff in Aspen is leading an education effort that targets skiers and snowboarders flocking to the winter resort. And the sheriff isn't waiting until visitors hit the slopes — their education starts at the airport with pamphlets on marijuana.
"It's the brochure rack, and it has information on everything from trails on the ski areas to a day at the Aspen Club and now, the local guide to retail marijuana," says Pat Bingham, a spokesperson for the airport.
She says the brochure on legalized pot isn't all that popular."We haven't had to refill this thing, I don't think, once yet, but our busy season is yet to come," she says.
The pamphlet is an attempt by the community to educate tourists about marijuana. It lists how much you're allowed to have, where it's legal to consume and how long the high takes to set in.
"So these are probably the most frequently asked questions, that's what this is," says Joe DiSalvo, the sheriff in Aspen.
After voters approved legalizing marijuana in 2012, he formed a coalition with the hospital, the local school district and the business community.
"When that happened we all agreed that, although we may not all agree on the legalization of marijuana, we do agree that we have to roll this out real responsibly with a heavy, heavy, heavy educational campaign," DiSalvo says.
The result of that campaign is the pamphlets, and 10,000 of them are located throughout town. Warren Klug has a pile of them at the hotel he manages downtown. He's using the pamphlets, not for guests, but to educate his staff.
"My concern is for our employees who may see the edible marijuana products on kitchen counters and left with other food stuffs, and there may be some confusion because these items look so much like regular candies," Klug says.
His employees are allowed to take home extra food, and he doesn't want them unknowingly consuming marijuana, which has happened at a nearby hotel.
Erik Klanderud, director of member services at the Aspen Chamber, has been fielding questions from visitors ever since marijuana stores opened in Aspen.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Cooking with marijuana, without actually using marijuana. Take, for example, a public demonstration of cooking steak a poivre, with a pan peppercorn sauce made with pot-infused brandy:
Acclaimed chef Chris Lanter is talking a crowd of eager foodies through a demo on cooking with marijuana. As he prepares steak au poivre, he describes how to deglaze the pan with pot-infused brandy. How to pair marijuana with fine foods. How to make marijuana’s skunky tang work for a dish, not ruin it.
One catch – there’s no actual weed at his demonstration.
Marijuana aficionados paid $250 for a weekend-long celebration of marijuana and food, yet state and city regulations prohibit any “open and public” use of the drug, even at licensed businesses holding private events.
It’s a strange dichotomy. The nascent marijuana industry in Colorado is moving well beyond just pot brownies. Dispensaries are doing a booming trade in cookbooks, savory pot foods and frozen takeout dishes that incorporate the drug. But for now, halting attempts at creating a marijuana dining scene have had mixed results.
Colorado may have legalized marijuana, but it still prohibits “on-site consumption,” a caveat aimed at preventing Amsterdam-style coffee shops where pot can be purchased and consumed in the same place. Recreational or medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states and Washington, DC. – though each state prohibits on-site consumption and pot sales in bars or restaurants.
One of the attractive things about marijuana, apparently, is that while the alcohol in brandy boils off in cooking and so you don't get a buzz from your steak, the THC in marijuana survives the cooking process. Maybe it gets you mellow enough that you don't mind the calories.
Monday, November 24, 2014
The three Wise Men brought gold, myrrh, and frankincense to the first Christmas. Fast forward 2,000 years and you can bring marijuana to the celebration -- and save money with Black Friday specials. In Merry marijuana: Pot sellers woo holiday shoppers, AP's Kristen Wyatt finds that the traditional holiday marketing blitz has made its way into the counterculture:
From new marijuana strains for the holidays to gift sets and pot-and-pumpkin pies, the burgeoning marijuana industry in Colorado is scrambling to get a piece of the holiday shopping dollar. Dispensaries in many states have been offering holiday specials for medical customers for years — but this first season of open-to-all-adults marijuana sales in some states means pot shops are using more of the tricks used by traditional retailers to attract holiday shoppers.
Here's a look at how the new recreational marijuana industry is trying to attract holiday shoppers:
Traditional retailers sell some items below cost to drive traffic and attract sales. Recreational marijuana retailers are doing the same.
The Grass Station in Denver is selling an ounce of marijuana for $50 — about a fifth of the cost of the next-cheapest strain at the Colorado dispensary — to the first 16 customers in line Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That works out to less than $1 a joint for the ambitious early-rising pot shopper. Owner Ryan Fox says his Black Friday pot is decent quality, and says he's selling below cost to attract attention and pick up some new customers. As Colorado dispensaries approach a year of being able to sell weed to all adults over 21, not just card-carrying medical patients, Fox says retailers have to do more than just sell pot to get public attention.Pot shops are using old and new media to tout the sales. One dispensary is taking out a full-page "Happy Danksgiving" ad in The Denver Post and is inviting shoppers to text a code for extra savings.
VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS
Sweets and marijuana seem to go together like hot chocolate and marshmallows. Many dispensaries this time of year resemble a Starbucks at the mall, with holiday spices and festive music in the air. One of the state's largest edible-pot makers, Sweet Grass Kitchen, debuted a new miniature pumpkin pie that delivers about as much punch as a medium-sized joint. The pie joins holiday-spiced teas, minty pot confections and cannabis-infused honey oil for those who want to bake their own pot goodies at home. Even some edibles makers that specialize in savory foods, not sweets, are putting out some sugary items for the holidays. "It just tastes too good, we had to do it," Better Baked owner Deloise Vaden said of her company's holiday line of cannabis-infused sweet-potato and pumpkin pies.
Some shops are angling for high-end holiday shoppers, not an increase in foot traffic. Colorado Harvest and Evergreen Apothecary timed the release of some top-shelf strains of potent pot for the holiday season. Spokeswoman Ann Dickerson says they're "sort of like the best bourbon or Scotch that will be competing on quality, rather than price."
What holiday shopper doesn't appreciate free gift wrapping? Or a gift set ready to pop under the tree? The Growing Kitchen is making $49.99 gift sets for both the medical and recreational pot user. The sets include the edible-pot maker's new Mighty Mint cookie, a pot-infused confection new for the holiday shopping season, along with marijuana-infused salves for muscles sore from the ski slopes. Other dispensaries are offering free gift totes and stockings with purchases.
For the shopper who wants to give pot but doesn't know how the recipient likes to get high, Colorado's 300 or so recreational dispensaries so far have been able to issue only handwritten gift certificates. That's because banking regulations prohibit major credit cards companies from being able to back marijuana-related gift cards the way they do for other retailers.
Just this month, a Colorado company started offering pot shops a branded gift card they can sell just like other retailers. The cards are in eight Denver dispensaries so far, and coming soon will be loyalty cards similar to grocery-store loyalty cards that track purchases and can be used to suggest sales or new products to frequent shoppers.
CANNAGIFTS FOR THE MAIL
Just because marijuana can't legally leave Colorado doesn't mean dispensaries don't have items for out-of-state friends and family. Some dispensaries are highlighting some non-cannabis gift items — things like T-shirts, rolling papers and lotions made with legal herbs. The sets are for shoppers who want to give a taste of Colorado's new marijuana industry without breaking federal law by mailing it or taking it out of state.
An interesting piece today from the Huffington Post:
Marijuana is growing up. As Colorado and Washington’s recreational marijuana industries blossom and new markets in Oregon and Alaska begin to take shape, so-called ganjapreneurs are looking for ways to take cannabis mainstream. Before long, they hope, marijuana products will be as widely available as alcohol -- and just as socially acceptable.
“Ideally, I would like to see the 21-to-35 year-old taking a four-pack of these to a barbecue,” Joe Hodas, chief marketing director for the marijuana product manufacturer Dixie, said earlier this year of the company's new watermelon cream-flavored "elixir," Dixie One. The drink contains five milligrams of THC -- just enough to produce a subtle buzz.
“This is a full experience in a bottle, much like beer," Hodas said. "Sometimes they’ll want a beer, sometimes they’ll want two or three beers. This sort of affords you that calibration.
Since starting in 2010, Colorado-based Dixie has developed a wide array of marijuana products, from THC-infused chocolates to concentrated cannabis for e-cigarettes. Many of its offerings are aimed at experienced marijuana users with high tolerances -- the company's top seller is a line of elixirs containing 75 milligrams of THC. Lower-dose products are proving increasingly popular, however.
“It’s been selling really surprisingly well,” Hodas told The Huffington Post recently of Dixie One. “In some of our stores, it had been outselling our 75 mg elixir. We were going to be happy if it sold decently well, but it was outselling in some cases. That said to us, we were correct, there is a market for that consumer.”
Encouraged by the success of Dixie One, the company is focusing on casual cannabis consumers. This week, Dixie released another low-dose product, a mint that releases THC directly into the bloodstream as it dissolves in the mouth.
“I think the low-dose consumer is an expansion demographic for us,” Hodas said. “It’s my belief that the core marijuana user is a small circle, and in a much larger surrounding circle is the casual user and a much larger market.”
The whole piece is here.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
There's no more iconic figure in the cannabis movement than reggae legend Bob Marley. Which apparently is why a lot of rich investors have decided to launch the first really national, big-money marijuana brand, Marley Natural. The announcement was made on national TV.
For his legions of fans, Bob Marley was always more than a mega-selling pop star. He was a hero and a prophet, a dread-locked vision of peace, love and justice. Now, decades after his death in 1981, Marley’s iconic name and face will front something new: the first global brand of marijuana.
On Tuesday, in an exclusive segment on NBC’s TODAY, the Marley family and a Seattle-based private equity firm announced the creation of Marley Natural, “a premium cannabis brand rooted in the life and legacy” of one of marijuana’s most devoted sons.
The line will include pot-infused creams, accessories (like vaporizers in the style of e-cigarettes) and strains of “heirloom Jamaican cannabis,” inspired by the herb that Marley enjoyed in extravagant, finger-sized joints.
A true corporate brand is a major milestone in the ragamuffin world of legal cannabis, where most products still have juvenile names (like Alaskan Thunderf--k) and a sales machine that depends on bikini girls and graffiti markers.
By contrast Marley Natural will look like a modern consumer product, cleanly packaged and marketed with the help of the same agency that branded New Balance and Starbucks Coffee. The cannabis itself will be sold as “loose packed” buds, oils or concentrate, executives said. Sorry, folks, no pre-rolled joints.
I confess I'm a little puzzled by this. Marley was amazing, but he died more than 30 years ago. The aging, affluent hipsters who like to smoke while listening to 1974's Natty Dread (on the original vinyl, of course) don't strike me as a big part of the market. And if the goal is for pot to go mainstream America, Marley (who smoked a pound a day) is hardly a spokesman for responsible use:
Still, I hope they make a go of it. Marley's family at least is going to be getting something out of the deal, and maybe a few young people who see the packaging will check out Natty Dread . . . . an amazing album.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
It might be a real problem or it might just be a little hysteria, but the chart below is interesting. These apparently are self-reports to a poison center, not confirmed poisonings, and note the big spike in October, when police were warning about possible pot-spiked candy at Halloween.
It's possible that nervous parents are just suspecting marijuana every time the kid get an upset tummy after eating a gummy bear. But it's also possible that increased availability is leading to increased accidental overconsumption. It's good that people are keeping an eye on it.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
OVER AT THE BUSINESS LAW PROF BLOG, Professor Ann Lipton (Duke Law) has an interesting post about chocolate, which on the day now known as "the day after Halloween" (formerly "All Saints Day") is particularly relelvant. Professor Lipton quotes chocolate makers as noting that much of their increased business has come from the introduction of variety bags, which they they say drives increased consumption via the "Chinese Buffet" principle -- people want more variety. She disagrees:
But people buy big bags of smaller candies for a reason: To distribute. And in that context, they like variety not because they get bored with one flavor, but because as a Halloween candy-giver, you want to give trick-or-treaters a choice. You never know which kid will hate almonds or love dark chocolate or which kid (uh, kid, yes, we'll go with kid) treats peanut butter cups as a meal replacement. Variety packs are an easy way of making sure you offer the best treats in the apartment complex no matter who shows up at your door. I'd rather buy two variety bags than 10 bags of different single-type candies just to give trick or treaters a choice.
Professor Lipton's point is that consumers do not themselves value the choice, but use variety bags only in an instrumental sense. In other words, an Almond Joy lover will buy Almond Joys for herself, but will buy variety bags for third parties whose preferences she wishes to accommodate but which cannot be determined in advance.
My own empirical observation, however, is that her explanation may be too simplistic. My study subject, my son Jack (15) will purchase varietey bags throughout the year for his own consumption. He does this even when the bag is known to contain certain kinds of candy that he does not like (e.g, jaw breakers) and will have to either throw away or (worse) give to his brother. He values the variety in the Chinese Buffet sense. On the other hand, at Halloween Jack will distribute candy not based on what he thinks the recipients like, but on what he does not like. Thus, if we buy a whole bag of jaw breakers along with the variety bag, he will happily hand every kid a jaw breaker, even the really little ones who don't have teeth yet.
In other words, Professor Lipton's question is both interesting and important, but it clearly needs further study.
UPDATED: To add missing link. Mea culpa.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Maryland Cops Seize Marijuana-Infused Halloween Candy: "Authorities in Prince George's County say they've seized several boxes of Halloween candy infused with marijuana. The candy -- including taffy, mint chocolate bars, blueberry chocolate bars and banana-walnut chocolate bars -- was . . .shipped from the west coast and Colorado, said Prince George's County Police."
Council Members: New York Police Still Targeting Minorities in Marijuana Arrests: "In a letter to Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, five Latino or black City Council members charged that the NYPD continues to unfairly target young minority men for low-level marijuana arrests."
Michigan Doc Pleads Guilty to Medical Marijuana Prescription Fraud: "A Grand Rapids doctor indicted in a major marijuana conspiracy admitted he wrote medical marijuana prescriptions for patients he never met to help further a criminal enterprise that earned more than $1.3 million in less than two years."
Arizona Prosecutors: Say No to Recreational Marijuana: "Three of Arizona's top prosecutors are calling for support from political and civic leaders to oppose the legalization of marijuana for recreational use."
Las Vegas Approves 26 Pot Dispensary Applications: "City Council members spent the better part of 16 hours mulling preliminary land use and licensing entitlements sought by 50 would-be medical marijuana business operators on Tuesday and Wednesday. They approved 26 pot dispensaries, more than double the number set aside for the city by Nevada regulators."
New Marijuana Business Incubator Opens in Florida: An old cigar factory in Ybor City has undergone some big changes. . . . The Common Bond Collaborative opened its doors Thursday in Ybor City with the goal of growing marijuana-related businesses by putting cannabis concepts on the fast track."