I miss sharing weed

Where were you when puff, puff, pass became puff, puff …  nah, I’m good? 

For me, it was a Saturday, March 21, 2020 to be exact. In Seattle, Washington. I was at the last house party I might ever attend, posted on the back patio with a stranger who had an immaculate ponytail. I lit a stogie mcnogie of some homegrown Durban x Tangie, took a few hits, then passed it to the left, only to receive a, “Hmm … nah, I’m good.”

My world collapsed. The first decree of the Weed Smoker’s Constitution has just been amended, and we didn’t even vote on it. Shit just happened. Not only was I hurt by the rules of weed being changed, but I was also judging myself for not adjusting to them. 

It’s not like the changes aren’t for good reason. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. As I write this, John Hopkins’ COVID-19 dashboard reports nearly 7 million cases in the US and more than 200,000 COVID-19-related deaths. So, it makes sense why people wouldn’t want to put their lips on some stranger’s spit vessel. We now live in a world where people wear hazmat suits to buy groceries, drive-thrus pass your food on a tray like cops feeding Hannibal Lecter, and coffee shop managers might actually slapbox you for not wearing a face mask. Everyone so badly wants to get back to whatever “normal” used to be — before now. Anytime you violate social distancing rules, it feels like you’re resetting the world’s countdown by years.

I miss sharing weed. And so do you — I see it in your eyes (plus the fact that you’re reading this article). The coronavirus has changed everything in the world, and just because weed is essential doesn’t mean we’re untouched. Cannabis cafés have gone out of business, those fancy THC-infused dinners in Los Angeles are on hold, and Oregon dispensaries — where you could stick your nose into the jars — have shifted to a wafting model. 

You can’t even let off a public weed cough without people side-eyeing you like you’re patient zero. 

Even finding new weed is different. When’s the last time someone passed you a jar that made you do two claps and Ric Flair? It’s been a minute since you coughed, “Damn, what’s that?!” huh? COVID-19 stole that from us. We can’t even touch jars, let alone pass along what’s inside of them. Not sharing weed takes away from that feeling of discovering a new Pokémon in the wild. Not to mention, it’s way cheaper to find new weed through smoking with other people than trying every random strain to figure out the few that you love. Real ones know.

In the era of social distancing, fewer face-to-face interactions means fewer opportunities to have a stoney conversation with someone new. It’s not that the art of conversation is dead. You can talk, and to strangers, in person, with a mask and distancing enforced. But with reports that aerosolized COVID-19 particles can remain in the air for up to three hours, the weed conversation game of smoking with a person while y’all chop it up about something weird is in a lockout. No one is standing next to you long or close enough to blow smoke in each other’s faces, and if they are, you’re both silently wondering if it makes y’all assholes. I mean, kinda. 

The dating game is all messed up now too. Not only does the absence of social gatherings force us into the hell of dating apps, you can’t even get off the link-and-smoke anymore. Fam, I hate alcohol (and dating apps). I’ll drink it socially, but if I never had to meet up with a woman over $12 cocktails just to make small talk about work and asking each other “do you like travelling?”, I would be so okay. But I participate in these social norms because, deep down, I’m hoping that she’s radical enough to see this Gelato joint I brought as a better way of connection. That’s gone now — my whole bag is gone. Picture Michael Jordan without the left shoulder fadeaway: that’s Danté Jordan without the, “You wanna just smoke instead?”

“But what about online smoking sessions?” you might point out. Let me tell you something: Online smoke sessions are trash. I’m sorry, but they are. Think about your latest Zoom call with a big group. What was the experience? It’s eight to a dozen people having one conversation. Either no one’s talking, because we don’t have the social queues of knowing when to, or everyone’s talking, because we don’t have the social queues of knowing when not to. And the more people added to the sesh, the harder it is to communicate, ultimately turning your chill time into a virtual panic room. Still, with the heightened risks of spreading the virus, sometimes a bad option like a WIFI smoke sesh is a better option than putting others and yourself at risk, or not seshing at all. 

So, where do I go from here? Like all people with a passion for weed before me, you learn to adapt.

The first time I tried to smoke with friends post-quarantine was a real eye-opener. It was a parking lot post-up where everyone brought Bluetooth speakers, camp chairs, and flow toys. We’d all gone four months without seeing each other, so everyone hugged it out upon greeting. That body-to-body love was needed in a medicinal way. As ice breakers, we exchanged sarcastic remarks about how extreme the world was acting, but when it came time to spark one, the left arm extension was still met with, “Nah, I’m good.” Instead, everyone smoked solo dolos in our own lil’ bubbles. It was a sign that jokes are jokes, but sharing weed is the new character test amongst stoners, and your choice to not adapt speaks volumes.

What are the ethics of sharing weed moving forward? No clue. That really depends on your values when it comes to public health and the culture of weed. In a global pandemic, where almost 1 million total humans have died in relation to a virus that you can spread from just breathing too far, is smoking weed with the homies ever really okay? Again, no clue. Probably not. 

I’ll come clean in saying that I’ve been burning with the people closest to me. As the months of worldwide disease, protests, and wildfires have passed, I’ve started to establish my news normal amidst the chaos, and with that has come a few exceptions. It’s like answering the age old question, “If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring and why?” I’ve never had a what, only a who; I’m cool on surviving alone. Nowadays, my four to five friends that I know have been masked up, chilling at the crib, and doing hand sanitizer facials on Self-care Sunday, are the only people I see, let alone smoke with, so we feel alright about it. But long gone are the days where anyone close enough to comment on how good my weed smells could hit the blunt. 

I miss the hell out of them.

Featured illustration by David Lozada/Weedmaps 

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Popular Cannabis Products You Probably Want to Try

The legalization of cannabis in several states and countries paved the way for it to be available mainstream. For this reason, it is now easier to acquire the cannabis products that you need to aid your medical treatments or simply for recreational purposes. Alongside this, there has also been a boost in the emergence of […]

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How to get all that gunk out of your lungs and improve respiration

Today’s problems seem to be all about the lungs. From poor air quality to the coronavirus, the respiratory onslaught is relentless. As a society, we are getting used to measures like social distancing and masks but still, it’s getting harder to breathe. There are vitamins and herbs out there that improve respiration over time and […]

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Foreign Investment in U.S. Cannabis: A Continuing Love/Hate Relationship

The U.S. cannabis industry attracts all kinds of entrepreneurs and investors. That has been true since Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis for adults 21 and up back in 2012, and since other states began creating comprehensive licensing regimes. The ever-emerging nature of the industry and its state-by-state quilt of regulations creates all kinds of business development and investment opportunities that most cannabis businesses hope culminate in either a very nice exit once our federal government (hopefully) legalizes/deschedules cannabis altogether, or that results in the ability to really compete long-term as interstate commerce opens up and serious, large-scale competition moves into the space when federal prohibition falls.

Foreign investors are not immune to the charms and allure of cannabis. And where only 11 states have legalized cannabis for adult use–some with extremely competitive licensing regimes– the appeal of cannabis increases exponentially for investors still looking to be early movers in the space. Additionally, there’s been a pivot in the investor scene of late where a lot of the fast, reckless money has left the space after significant bouts of mismanagement at larger cannabis companies and with some multi-state operators (generating certain vulture investment opportunities), so investors are really getting wise to the accordant pitfalls of cannabis (which are still many).

Foreign investors though have a special set of issues to deal with when it comes to cannabis, and they don’t necessarily stem from state law licensing issues. Mainly, the gorilla in the room is federal law, which is significantly more severe on foreign investors where, in addition to violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), immigration consequences are undoubtedly worse in some ways.

Even though the Department of Jusice (“DOJ”) issued the now-rescinded Cole Memo in 2013, outlining various enforcement priorities for the DOJ in states with cannabis legal reform while basically articulating a “stand down” position, that memo didn’t discuss anything around foreign investment in cannabis. In fact, no federal guidance from the DOJ has ever done that. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has taken a hardline stance of enforcement against foreign participation in cannabis (including even ancillary business investment), and it shows no sign of relenting anytime soon.

Any direct or peripheral involvement in the U.S. cannabis industry, whether ancillary or direct, is ultimately at odds with our immigration laws. Specifically, where a consular officer or an officer of the DHS has reason to believe that the foreign national is or has been an illicit trafficker of any controlled substance as defined in the CSA, or attempted to do so, that individual may be determined to be inadmissible into the U.S., which equates to a lifetime ban.

Similarly, pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), a foreign national is inadmissible for knowingly aiding, abetting, assisting, conspiring, or colluding with others in the illicit trafficking of a controlled substance. Even the spouse or child of the foreign national found inadmissible under the INA is also inadmissible into the U.S. if they have, within the previous 5 years, obtained any financial or other benefit from that illicit activity, and knew or reasonably should have known that the financial or other benefit was the product of such illicit activity. Where the state-by-state cannabis trade remains federally illegal, any foreign investment or ownership in a cannabis business is illicit activity that violates the INA.

The legalization of cannabis in Canada also seemed to put U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) in a frenzy back in 2018. CBP, which is part of the DHS, and whose officers determine who can and cannot enter the U.S., announced in 2018 that Canadian citizens cannot come to the U.S. to participate in the licensed cannabis industry. CBP subsequently reiterated in a 2018 teleconference that foreign national investors who have knowingly financed and promoted the growth of the cannabis industry will be denied entry and could even get a lifetime ban. Additionally, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service announced in 2019 that participation in the licensed cannabis industry can lead to a finding of lack of good moral character when applying for naturalization.

In the end, until citizenship is secured, non-immigrants may be denied entry and given a lifetime ban, and permanent residents may also be denied entry and ordered removed from the United States, for owning or financing a state-licensed cannabis business. And if you enter the United States for purposes of conducting commercial cannabis activity and you mislead CBP officials (which is probably a common practice at this point), you can also face these extreme consequences.

If you’re a foreign investor or owner in a cannabis business or planning to be and you’ve gotten comfortable with the above risks, it’s also important to note that if you do skirt the Feds, you may be dealing with a ticking time bomb anyway where the states and the Feds routinely share information (willingly or otherwise) about cannabis businesses and their owners and investors.

Most states allow foreign investment in cannabis, and only a few have residency requirements or other barriers to entry that would prevent a foreigner from owning or investing in a cannabis licensee. The main issue is that with most states any owner or financier is going to have to go on record with regulators regarding their involvement with the business, and in most of those states any kind of meaningful ownership or control is going to lead to background checks with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (at minimum). This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding information sharing between the Feds and the states when it comes to cannabis licensees (access to financial institutions via the FinCEN guidelines is another popular pathway for the Feds to know who exactly is involved with these businesses at all times).

The bottom line is that no federal agency has issued guidance that would somehow outright permit or look the other way regarding foreign direct investment or ownership in cannabis businesses in the U.S. What we do have is a hard nosed reality between DHS and CBP that puts foreigners in the crosshairs of significant consequences for supporting the cannabis industry financially or otherwise (and of course there’s the issue of bringing cannabis-derived funds back into the investor’s country of residence). This dynamic probably won’t change anytime soon unless and until we have meaningful legal reform at the federal level, which is also probably a long way’s off at this point. So, foreign investors looking at cannabis should definitely proceed with extreme caution (if at all) and take the time to really understand the myriad and unique risks posed by participating in the industry.

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The 7 best indica strains

Most people see the word “indica” and think Ambien. For so long we’ve equated the effects of indica cannabis strains to being couch-locked. And while it’s true that some indicas may tuck you in for the night, it’s even truer that you can’t just generalize an entire third of weed plants under one single high. 

There are thousands of indica strains; some may feel relaxed and happy, others may feel drowsy and tired, some even make you feel the complete opposite. It all depends on your body, and knowing your body is knowing that finding the right strains is up to you. Here are seven of the best indicas to get you started.

Hindu Kush

Hindu Kush is a pure indica from the Hindu Kush mountain range between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Its compact buds usually have a vibrant white shine to them due to the stark coat of trichomes on top of light green flowers. An original landrace strain, Hindu Kush is believed to be one of the first plants to be used for hash.

Hindu Kush terpenes usually hit the nose with a sweet and piney aroma, while the smoke can have sweet, floral, and pine flavors. Effects-wise, most people expect to feel a calm and relaxing cerebral high that pairs great with the ending of a long day on your balcony. Hindu Kush is a great suggestion for anyone seeking a long-lasting euphoric experience.



Northern Lights

Just as old as Hindu Kush is the famous Northern Lights. Its influence on the world of indicas can’t be stated enough. This Afghani descendant is known for having resinous buds and skunky terpenes that fill the room when the plant is cured. You can expect sweet and herbal flavors when you smoke it.

Equally as potent as it is stinky, most consumers report a hard-hitting body high that’ll leave you on stuck mode for the remainder of the evening. If you’re looking to get stoned and run through a sack of gas station snacks, this — or its popular phenotype Northern Lights #5 — may be the one.



Granddaddy Purple

Granddaddy Purple is that classic purple flower that completely changed the game of weed aesthetics. It’s a cross of Purple Urkle and Bid Bud that first came to life in 2003. Though plenty of purple flowers existed before it, GDP was one of the first to become a household name in weed culture. No budtender hears “purp” without immediately thinking of this strain.

Granddaddy Purple is world famous for its deep purple buds that give off sweet, grapey, earthy terpenes. Picture if you were to buy a bag of grapes and roll them in a blunt, that’s smoking Granddaddy Purple. 



Blueberry

From legendary breeder DJ Short comes DJ Short’s Blueberry, or simply Blueberry, another indica-leaning strain with Afghani (and Thai) genetics. It has compact green buds stacked with an assortment of purple and red-coloring that make it as pretty as it is flavorful. 

As its name suggests, Blueberry smells and tastes like fresh fruit from your neighborhood Farmers Market. Whether consumed as flower or concentrate, those berry terps are shining through. Most consumers feel a relaxed, happy, and slumped-over type of body high after consuming Blueberry. If you’re looking for a night cap that appeals to your taste buds, check out this strain.



9 LB Hammer

9 LB Hammer is a heavy indica that hits your head just like that: a 9 LB hammer. A cross of Gooberry and an OG Kush varietal, 9 LB genetics usually produce dense flowers with dark green colors and a blended coat of white trichomes. On the terpene side of things, you can expect 9 LB hammer to smell earthy and somewhat chemmy, while tasting mostly like the former. 

Where this strain lacks in terps, it more than makes up for it in effects. Most people feel a heavy head high that slowly creeps into the body, causing you to starfish in bed for the next couple of hours. 

Personally speaking, 9 LB hammer doesn’t make me sleepy, but it does produce a super duper stone that makes me want to never move again.



Forbidden Fruit

For the last fruity suggestion, it was a toss up between Grape Ape or Forbidden Fruit. And I had to go with Forbidden Fruit for three reasons: 

  1. It’s one of the most beautiful cannabis flowers on the planet. 
  2. The terpenes are usually pretty consistent no matter who grows it. 
  3. Last week I smoked it with my grandma and she was blown away by how good it tasted.

Forbidden Fruit was born by crossing Cherry Pie with Tangie. The result is a staunchly purple flower, covered in a flurry of orange hairs, that gives off an extremely tropical guava-like aroma. When consumed, it’ll taste like you’re smoking a bowl of fruit cocktail, and the effects are much lighter than people associate with indicas and purple strains. Instead of sleepy and down, you’ll feel a relaxing euphoria that makes everything a little funnier.



G-13

You can’t talk about indica cannabis strains and not mention the lochness monster of the weed world: G-13. 

Legend has it that G-13, or Government Indica Strain 13, was a U.S. Government experiment where the intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI, etc.) collected all of the “best” and “most potent” indicas from all over the world, then bred them together to create the Megazord of all cannabis strains. The alleged reason we can all go to a dispensary and purchase this super secret government mission of a strain is because some disgruntled government agent stole a cut of the plant and leaked it to the public. Chances are that this story is not true, but it’s okay to believe it anyway.

What is true is that G-13 will absolutely knock your socks off. Regardless of how you consume it, both G-13 flower and oil usually makes people feel hungry, relaxed, and sleepy, i.e. stoned out of their minds. Its intense high might not put you to bed, but it will make you stare off into space for the next few hours as you wonder why some people don’t have middle names.

Find thousands of strains on Weedmaps


Featured image by Dre Hudson/Weedmaps

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