City of Denver Releases Annual Report on Local Cannabis Industry

Officials in the city of Denver released its annual cannabis industry report, which covers a wealth of information about most recent data and its comparison to previous years.

A report called “The Denver Collaborative Approach,” conducted by the city of Denver, Colorado, was released on September 20. This report has been consistently published every year since 2015, one year after recreational legalization was implemented. The report covers a wide variety of industry facts and figures, including cannabis taxes, sales and revenue, noteworthy accomplishments and more.

“As legalization spreads across the United States, Denver remains squarely in focus. More than ever, the city is looked at to provide guidance on how it effectively implemented and continues to manage the first-of-its-kind sales and commercialization of voter-approved retail marijuana,” the report states in its introduction. 

It continues to recap the fluid efforts of the Denver Office of Marijuana Policy and how it is constantly at work to ensure that the city’s cannabis industry remains compliant. “Denver continues its collaborative approach to marijuana management, remaining nimble and flexible to keep pace with the sustained growth of sales and innovation in the marijuana industry, while remaining in constant communication with the industry and residents to ensure balance among many competing interests.”

In January 2014, Denver was home to 731 medical cannabis business licenses and 270 retail licenses. As of January 2021, the number of licenses is much more balanced, sitting at 441 and 476 respectively (although January 2020 showed similar results).

The report’s sales data only reflects sales that were collected in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, recreational cannabis sales increased by 18 percent, and medical cannabis sales increased by 31 percent. For the entirety of the state of Colorado during the same timeframe, recreational cannabis sales increased by 25 percent, with medical sales expanding at a rate of 31 percent.

Unsurprisingly, 32.6 percent of the state’s recreational cannabis sales came from the city and county of Denver. This exhibits a consistent decrease in sales from Denver, which suggests that cities outside of Denver have continued to grow and expand. As a whole, combined Colorado retail and medical cannabis sales is recorded at $715 million during 2020 (a 21 percent increase from 2019).

So far in 2021, $24.6 million of the city’s cannabis revenue was granted toward “affordable housing and homelessness services, youth violence prevention, STAR program pilot implementation, leases and other one-time equipment costs.”

The report spotlights some of the city’s accomplishments between 2014-2020, which includes donating money toward various community services, such as free after-school and summer programs for children and the establishment of a recreation center in 2018. The report also notes what other changes it seeks to implement. First, the city intends to examine how it can further assist local cannabis businesses on a financial, technical and business support level. It also aims to “provide social equity applicants licensing exclusivity for most licenses for the next six years and the exclusive ability to conduct deliveries for the next three years.” 

Second, it wants to continue a focus on clearing cannabis-related convictions with its Turn Over a New Leaf Program, which was first put into effect in 2019. So far, the program has received 583 applications, and 94 convictions were labeled as “eligible” for expungement.

“Under the leadership of Mayor Hancock, the city has adopted a collaborative model to manage marijuana, which includes multiple agencies working together to preserve, protect and enhance Denver’s excellent quality of life. This work is grounded in the city’s priorities of marijuana management, including robust regulation, strict enforcement, effective education and equitable access to the industry.”

The report’s last section goes into great detail about the city’s law enforcement data, including details about black market sales and common offenses. The Denver Police Department collected 3,098 pounds of illegal cannabis in 2020. Local police report that cannabis-related offenses account for less than one percent of all crime in the city of Denver, with a total of 435 in 2020 (out of the city’s total offenses across the board, which sits at 73,322).

“The Denver Collaborative Approach” report is a valuable source of information regarding the city’s cannabis industry, and it’s a positive example of a city embracing all aspects of cannabis within its borders.

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The Story of Cannabis in Five Essential Strains

Arguing over which strains of cannabis are the best is a time-honored tradition. In good company and armed with some basic knowledge on the seemingly endless bounty of cannabis varietals now available, the quest to defend your chosen strain as the best of the bunch is often a largely subjective exercise. But a fun one nonetheless. By contrast, a conversation on which cannabis strains deserve to be considered essential in an overall survey of the plant’s long, strange history is a different matter entirely.

While there are unquestionably many candidates worthy of consideration, telling the story of weed through but a handful of its most seminal specimens is a challenge that quickly yields some obvious answers. Even if your favorite strain is not among the five examples highlighted below, it is likely that one of these featured options is a genetic cousin, forbearer, or offspring to the strains you hold nearest and dearest.

Thus, consider these selections a series of strain stepping stones that collectively offer a brief but pertinent overview of just far cannabis has come — and where it may be headed next.

PHOTO Gracie Malley

Panama Red

Before cultivators began breeding cannabis to create new crosses, consumers were smoking exclusively what is known as landrace strains. These varietals were often named for the geographic area in which they naturally grew, which is how we got Panama Red. This classic of the industry is a pure sativa that would go on to became a household name for pot fans in U.S. in the late 1960s, mostly for being widely available at a time when few strains were even on the market. Known for its lengthy flowering time (often at least 11 weeks), the desire to combine the effects of landrace strains with the shorter flowering cycles of cannabis originating from Afghanistan and other similar climates kicked off what would ultimately become a cross-breeding revolution.

high quality strains for the hobbyist
PHOTO Sensi Seeds

Northern Lights

When it comes to hybrids, the story can’t be told without including Northern Lights. A cross of multiple Afghani landrace strains, Northern Lights is revered for its potency and quick, bountiful yield. By the time we arrive at Northern Lights #5 (so named for literally being the fifth manifestation of the strain), the recipe had evolved to also include genetics from a Thai landrace sativa. The result was the addition of both a fruity taste and a more notably cerebral high for consumers. Reaching its peak of popularity in the early 90s, Northern Lights — and the #5 varietal specifically — is renowned as a sturdy, reliable strain that would also feature prominently in the next phase of the cannabis story, wherein hybrids were at last crossed with one another. And the sky truly became the limit.

Teen Marijuana Use Down, Adult Use Up
PHOTO Taylor Kent

OG Kush

The story of cannabis often takes the West Coast as its setting, and for good reason. Encompassing California and its famed Emerald Triangle, as well as pivotal neighboring states like Oregon and Washington, weed’s evolution was one that largely took place where the U.S. meets the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps no strain better exemplifies this journey than OG Kush. Forever shrouded in mysterious origins, the best guess of those eager to trace its lineage suggest it was a cutting smuggled from the West Coast to Florida and back again that ultimately yielded this iconic example of cannabis at its finest. Forever enshrined in the lyrics of classic rap songs and still namechecked today as a titan of the field, what is known is that we have a cultivator in Los Angeles known simply as Josh D. to thank for ushering the market into a hybrid frenzy that’s never truly dissipated.

PHOTO Gabe Perry

White Widow

Rivaling OG Kush in terms of name recognition is another hybrid that rose to prominence in the ’90s: White Widow. Named for its buds laden with white and crystal resin, there is no actual venom to worry about, however, a highly-potent experience is all but guaranteed from this Netherlands-born heavy-hitter. Derived from a cross between Brazilian indica and South Indian sativa landraces, White Widow has long served as a staple of Dutch coffee shops. Furthermore, the desirable effects of White Widow — often described as a mix of euphoria and energy — makes it no surprise that this strain would soon be utilized to create a host of popular offspring strains, including White Russian and Blue Widow.  

PHOTO Gracie Malley


Turning our eye back to the West Coast, the story of modern cannabis is rather perfectly encapsulated by the balanced hybrid known as Gelato. Having gone through multiple incarnations, all courtesy of San Francisco’s Cookie Farm Genetics — led by famed cannabis breeders Mr. Sherbinski and Jigga — phenotype #33 is affectionately (if unofficially) nicknamed “Larry Bird” in reference to the famed Celtics basketball player’s jersey number. Featuring a cross between two already famed hybrids (Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies and the mouth-wateringly fruity indica Sunset Sherbert), Gelato served a pivotal role in establishing the Bay Area as a new headquarters for innovative, legendary cannabis strains. Still popular today, the amount of strains that owe a debt of recognition to this modern marvel are simple too numerous to name.

As for what comes next, the answer is as simple as paying a visit to your nearest neighborhood dispensary. New and incredible advents in the strain game are arriving seemingly every day, making the strains listed above but a starting point for any cannabis connoisseur on a quest to touch (and taste) all the magic of the cannabis rainbow.

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Former Massachusetts Mayor Sentenced for Extortion

A former mayor of a city in Massachusetts was charged with extorting prospective cannabis business owners, among other charges, and sentenced to numerous years in prison.

Jasiel F. Correia II, former mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, first took on the role at 23 years of age in 2016. During his time as mayor, he allegedly committed numerous acts of greed and corruption. Federal Judge Douglas Woodlock announced his ruling on September 21, assigning Correia to six years in prison and three additional years of supervised release.

The 29-year-old was initially convicted of his crime in May 2021 on “nine counts of wire fraud, four counts of filing false tax returns, four counts of extortion conspiracy and four counts of extortion,” according to an official press release from the United States Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts. According to Forbes, Correia committed wire fraud, extortion and accepted bribes from local cannabis businesses in exchange for business licenses. 

“Jasiel Correia was a corrupt and deceitful politician who could only be stopped by federal prosecution. Now he is a felon and will be a federal inmate,” said Acting United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Nathaniel R. Mendell, in a press release. “Mr. Correia lied to investors, sold his office, and has no remorse for his crimes. That warrants a significant prison term, which is why the government recommended an 11-year sentence.”

Massachusetts Asks for Accountability

Massachusetts law states that in order to obtain a license to operate a cannabis business, the head of the local government must issue a non-opposition letter. “Correia, as Mayor, was solely responsible for approving all non-opposition letters in Fall River,” a press release confirmed. 

“In addition, applicants seeking marijuana licenses are required to enter into host community agreements between the marijuana company and the local government, stating that the company will give up to 3 percent of its gross sales to the local government.” A total of four individuals paid Correia between $75,000 and $250,000 in either “cash, campaign contributions and mortgage discharges” in order to receive non-opposition letters.

Prior to his role as mayor, Correia also lied to investors with an app called “SnoOwl” that he founded in 2012 prior to his role as mayor. According to a press release, he accepted an estimated $360,000 from seven individuals. Of that sum, he used $230,000 (approximately 64 percent) to purchase luxury items, a Mercedes, designer clothing, jewelry, paid his student loans, funded his political campaign and more.

Correia allegedly portrayed himself as a fellow entrepreneur leader as mayor, and offered to renew the old city. Correia’s defense attorney, William Fick, argued that despite the charges, Correia brought positive change to the city of Fall River.

“None of that excuses what happened here, but I think it’s required to have a fuller picture of the man and to understand how somebody might get derailed but still have hope to contribute in a future chapter of life,” Fick said, according to the Associated Press. Correia told reporters that “the justice system failed us” and claimed that he was not guilty.

Individuals from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided statements against Correia, having viewed the evidence of his actions. 

Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Boston Division, commented on how Correia’s actions have damaged the city of Fall River, and the citizen’s trust in local government. 

“Jasiel Correia’s conscious decision to fleece investors, extort hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and cheat on his taxes has now cost him his freedom. He has proven to be a pervasive liar who has shown absolutely no remorse or empathy for his victims, and today he has been held accountable.

Sadly, his actions have further eroded the public’s trust in government, and deeply hurt the citizens of Fall River,” said Bonavolonta. “Let his sentence serve as a stark reminder that if you commit crimes, your status as an elected official will not protect you. The FBI is committed to rooting out public corruption and holding officials like him accountable.”

Likewise, Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, Boston Field Office, reviewed the damage Correia caused. “As the Mayor of Fall River, Jasiel Correia held the public’s trust in his hands and was positioned to serve those individuals that elected him.

Instead, he squandered that opportunity and was exposed as a corrupt politician,” said Simpson. “It is a shame that an individual with such a bright future decided to misuse his elected office for personal gain. Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that corrupt public officials will pay dearly for the choices they make.”

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Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Patients Could Be Protected Against DUIs

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are considering legislation that would aim to protect medical cannabis patients in the state from DUI penalties.

On Tuesday, a pair of state House representatives, Democrat Chris Rabb and Republican Todd Polinchock, announced that they had introduced a bill that would “ensure the rights of the more than 500,000 medical cannabis patients in Pennsylvania, protecting them from DUI penalties.”

“I believe that people with a medical need for cannabis, who have acted courageously to seek help for their medical condition and have been granted use of medical cannabis, should be protected from DUI penalties for their legal medical cannabis use,” said Rabb, who represents a district in Philadelphia. “I know I’m not the only lawmaker in the General Assembly who has been contacted by constituents concerned that their responsible use of medical cannabis may expose them to targeting by law enforcement when they drive.”

In a press release, Rabb noted that THC often remains in an individual’s system for weeks after use, potentially complicating the enforcement of impaired driving laws when a legal cannabis consumer is behind the wheel.

“A medical cannabis user can take a miniscule amount of medicine for their ailment and weeks later, with traces of cannabis still in their system, be subject to arrest on a DUI charge if pulled over—not because they’ve driven impaired, but because our state laws haven’t caught up with the science,” Rabb said. 

“And, if you think you don’t know someone who falls into this category—a person who has been prescribed medical cannabis and who drives and is fearful of the potential DUI charge they could face—you’re wrong. I am a card-carrying medical cannabis patient, and I drive regularly, including in and around Philadelphia and to Harrisburg conducting the people’s business.” 

The legislation would “not extend to any illegal cannabis use,” and would only apply to “approved patients with a noncommercial driver’s license who use medicinal cannabis legally and are not impaired.”

Polinchock said it would simply place “medical cannabis on the same level as other prescription pain relievers.”

“It helps many Pennsylvanians, including many of our seniors. It’s time to remove the stigma and treat this drug as we do others,” he said.

For Rabb, the bill is personal, noting that he, too, is a medical cannabis user.

“Anyone, like me, who regularly uses cannabis for symptom relief, will always be breaking the law when we get behind the wheel given that traces of THC can remain in our system for up to a month,” Rabb said. “As the law is written today, I could go to jail for six months for driving four weeks after swallowing a few drops of cannabis tincture sold at a dispensary licensed by the very same government that cashes in on tax revenue from the sale of medical cannabis. That’s perverse. And it’s also easily corrected. Our legislation will set things right.”

On the other side of Pennsylvania’s general assembly, a separate bill aims to remedy the same problem.

State Senator Camera Bartolotta, a Republican, has her own bill that would “change that by requiring proof of impairment for someone to be charged with and convicted of DUI, not just a THC level,” local television station WFMZ reported.

At a hearing on Tuesday, a medical cannabis patient named Jesse Roedts testified in support of Bartolotta’s legislation, recounting a time that he was charged with DUI despite being a medical marijuana patient and showing no signs of impairment.

“When the medical cannabis laws were passed in Pennsylvania, a critical detail was missed,” said Roedts, as quoted by WFMZ. “That detail was DUI reform for legal card holders. The state legalized medical cannabis and then turned hundreds of thousands of patients into potential criminals.”

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Green Party in Finland Calls for End of Prohibition

Finland may not be first on anyone’s list when it comes to being an epicenter of cannabis reform, but even this Scandinavian country is now considering the same.

The Green political party of Finland, the Green League, is championing a policy of legalization and regulation of a nascent domestic cannabis market. While the move has no official basis on a legislative level, it marks the first time a political party in the Finnish parliament has called for the legalization of cannabis.

Given the fact that there appears to be only narrow support at the federal level at the moment, it is unlikely that the measure will move forward (for now). 

Cannabis in Finland

This region of the world is perhaps best known to outsiders as having lots of snow and occasionally cool, do it your-selfish furniture. Beyond this, however, cannabis reform has moved glacially, even at the pace seen in Europe, and many are growing impatient for prohibition to end.

The prohibition of cannabis in Finland specifically harks back to the mid-1960s although this being one of the most liberal parts of Europe, the criminalization of personal use has always been highly controversial. The national government achieved this goal however by 1972.

Fast forward to this century. In 2008, the Finnish government approved the use of medical cannabis flower (imported from Holland). As of 2017, Finland’s Supreme Court ruled that a sentence for an aggravated drug offense could be reduced, depending on the nature of the offender’s role in the same and the amount of illegal drugs involved.

In 2018, a national survey indicated that just 18 percent of Fins believed that adult use should be legal. In 2019, a citizen’s initiative to decriminalize gained 50,000 signatures to force the Parliament to consider it (it did not pass). 

Finland’s Narcotics Act states that the use or possession of any illicit drug (including cannabis) is a criminal offense. Punishments can range, depending on the amount involved, from a fine to six months in prison.

CBD, however, is legal, and limited amounts of hemp are grown in the country.

The fact that the issue of cannabis reform appears to be moving, no matter how glacially in Finland, is a good sign for this part of Europe.

Scandinavia, generally, has tough laws about cannabis use. Sweden allows only the medical use of cannabinoid-based drugs. In Iceland, in stark contrast, the entire cannabinoid discussion, even for medical use, is off the table. Norway has liberalized its cannabis laws (back in 2018) allowing for small amounts of possession in the country. The one exception is Denmark, which began a four-year medical trial in 2018 and is further considering a recreational trial in the near future. The country has one of the larger cultivation programs in Europe with over 40 licenses granted.

Given that agriculture only represents just over two percent of Finnish GDP, it is unlikely that a large cultivation industry will develop here. But imports, just like in Germany, and of the medical kind, could begin to show up here, particularly from neighboring Denmark.

Regardless, some kind of cannabis reform is clearly on the political agenda now—and that is a positive development, generally. There is also, at this point, no part of Europe where at least medical cannabis reform has been considered. Moving forward, beyond this, however, is going to be the next big hurdle, just about everywhere, including in Scandinavia.

It remains to be seen what will happen, but it’s clear that a change is coming to Europe when it comes to legal cannabis. 

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Did Shakespeare Use Cannabis for Creativity?

It’s long been known that cannabis and creativity go hand in hand: Hendrix, the Beatles and even Carl Sagan, the world famous cosmologist, all used Cannabis’ creative powers. But there is one name to add to that list that may surprise many people and that’s UK nation’s poet, world famous playwright and every school child’s nightmare: William Shakespeare.

In 2001, a South African Anthropologist called Francis Thackeray was given permission from Shakespeare’s birthplace to analyze a collection of pipe fragments found in the grounds of Shakespeare’s garden. The study found that on eight of the pipes there was the residue of cannabis and these were the pipes most closely associated with the Bard’s property itself. It seems that Shakespeare operated on a work hard, play bard routine, perhaps even using cannabis as a stimulant for his creativity. But what evidence is there from the Bard’s own words that he liked to use cannabis and how does cannabis increases creativity in general? In this article, we’ll examine how Shakespeare’s timeline crosses neatly with the large scale introduction of Cannabis plants to the United Kingdom, we’ll look at Thackeray’s study in depth and we’ll investigate the science behind Cannabis and creativity, all to examine if the man ‘of all time’ may have been high whilst writing his finest works.

Cannabis has been known to boost creativity for centuries. Some of our greatest artists throughout history were using cannabis and other psychedelics to reach new heightened new levels of connectivity. To learn more about these compounds, and for exclusive deals on Delta 8, Delta 10 THCTHCVTHC-OTHCP, HHC and even on legal Delta-9 THC, make sure to subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter, your top source for all things cannabis related!

Cannabis and Shakespeare’s England

Before Cannabis was known and used as a recreational drug in Britain it was grown mostly as hemp, a crop used for medicinal reasons and to make fibre, clothes and rope. The earliest known usage of hemp seeds comes from Roman Britain as seeds were found in a well in York. Hemp was also used throughout Anglo-Saxon England as an important crop for the production of medicine, textiles and animal feed. Hemp very quickly became one of the most popular crops in Britain because of its many uses and indeed boomed in Elizabethan England, the time Shakespeare began to write.

Queen Elizabeth I even created a new law that meant every farmer with more than 60 acres of land had to grow hemp. The penalty of not carrying this out was a fine of 5 whole pounds (worth a lot more then than it is now). The medicinal properties of Cannabis were noted by many writers around Shakespeare’s era, John Gerard describes how many ailments Cannabis can cure in his book The Herball (1597). In a book titled ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’ by Robert Burton, hemp seeds made into a drink are offered as a treatment of depression.

But what about the recreational use of cannabis? Cannabis was being smoked recreationally around the world in the form of Hashish, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, but it’s not easy to find evidence of its use in Britain. However, It is not hard to imagine that travelers from these areas of the world would have found themselves in London pubs or theatres and shown the locals that cannabis plants could be used for more than making ropes or curing ailments.

The Thackeray Study

To make the claim that Shakespeare was using cannabis to help him write, we first need evidence that he was actually smoking it. Francis Thackeray’s study does just this, but beyond Shakespeare it also shows us that Cannabis was being smoked in this era and most likely for recreational reasons. In The study, nicely described in an independent article  written by Thackeray himself, the team used state-of-the-art forensic technology to chemically analyse residue found on the pipe fragments. Interestingly, Cannabis was not the only chemical found. Coca leaves, the predecessor of cocaine, were also found on two of the pipes. This is also in line with the fact that many variations of new smokable leaves were brought back from ‘the new world’ by sailors such as Walter Raleigh (Including Tobacco). 

To make matters even more interesting, the pipes with Coca residue were the only pipes analysed not from Shakespeare’s garden, but near to it. Instead, the pipes from his garden contained the cannabis residue mentioned earlier. Thackeray even goes as far as to say that “Shakespeare may have been aware of the deleterious (damaging) effects of cocaine as a strange compound. Possibly, he preferred cannabis as a weed of mind stimulating properties.” That says it all. Shakespeare’s choice drug was cannabis, because it boosted his creativity. The Bard of Avon was ahead of his times in many ways.

There are of course some issues with the study and some aspects have to be taken with a pinch of tobacco. Though the pipes were found in Shakespeare’s garden, it’s rather tricky to tie them directly to The Bard himself. Even when dating the pipes, the study can only say that the pipes date to ‘the early 17th Century’, this is quite a broad time-frame, especially considering Shakespeare died in 1616. So we have to be a tiny bit cautious when using Thackeray’s study, but it is very interesting.

The ‘Noted weed’: Shakespeare’s References to Cannabis

Is there any evidence from the man himself about his preference for Cannabis, do we find any enlightenment from flicking through the folio?  Amazingly we do, Shakespeare seems to make multiple references to what could be his ‘other muse’. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, the character Ford tells the audience that he wants to drink “pipe wine”, a line usually linked with tobacco, but with the knowledge of Thackeray’s study and the quotes to follow, it could be referencing smoking a different leaf altogether. 

In Sonnet 76 we find arguably the most clear evidence of Shakespeare’s use of Cannabis for creativity: 

Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth and where they did proceed?

We see here Shakespeare’s reference his ‘noted weed’, which some (including Thackeray) have taken to be a nod to cannabis being used as a method to help with his writing, or ‘invention’. It seems from this poem that Shakespeare indeed keeps his invention in his weed (cannabis) and uses it whenever he strives to find the right words, or even uses it to show him his character’s histories, fleshing them out (showing their birth and where they did proceed). Earlier in this poem he describes how he doesn’t want to be linked to any ‘compounds strange,’ which Thackeray has taken to mean strange new drugs, even cocaine. More evidence of Shakespeare’s preference to the more natural and ancient method of finding his buzz.

In sonnet 118 Shakespeare says : 

Like as, to make our appetites more keen,
With eager compounds we our palate urge

Perhaps a reference again using compounds or drugs to help increase the appetite, both a reference to appetite of life but perhaps also his attitude to writing.

A potentially even more cryptic, but fascinating reference occurs in Henry V where Pistol tries to save a man doomed to hanging he exclaims: ‘Let man go free and let not hemp his windpipe suffocate’. This line has been analysed as potentially having a double meaning. As we’ve discussed above Hemp was used to make fibres and ropes, so Pistol is referring to the rope of the noose, but it could also be a wry nod to the burning feeling cannabis gives the throat.

Shakespeare, Cannabis and Creativity

It’s clear that Shakespeare would at least have come into contact with the use of Cannabis recreationally, and indeed he may have even shown his readers that he liked to use it for inspiration, but what is the science behind cannabis’s link to creativity and how might we use this to further understand why Shakespeare may have relied on it to come up with his most complicated plots.

To understand, we must look at the neuroscience: Cannabis smoking produces a wealth of Dopamine in the brain, including an area known as the frontal cortex. In a study by Schaffer et al in 2011, they took two groups of participants, some with high and some with low levels of creativity and tested them in two conditions: High on Cannabis and non-intoxicated. What they found was that the low creativity group increased their verbal fluency to that of the high-creative group. Verbal fluency is a measure of how quickly and creatively a participant can speak. The authors argue that this increase in fluency was because of the increase of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex which may lead to a swifter ability to produce words.

What Schaffer’s study showed was that creativity in verbal fluency could be increased in those with low creativity. This would seem almost too perfect to a playwright with a mental block. Cannabis also increases blood flow to areas of the brain needed for creativity, including the amygdala, an area needed for emotional processing and empathy. This would perfectly help the playwright put himself in Romeo’s shoes whilst writing the balcony scene.

A Summary on Shakespeare and Cannabis

So it seems rather likely that Shakespeare had indeed found inspiration in his ‘Noted weed’. The fragments of pipe show us that people were smoking Cannabis and more than that, it was being smoked in Shakespeare’s garden, the many quotes and references in Shakespeare’s own works and of course the science behind Cannabis’ link to creativity all point towards the Nation’s bard using cannabis as his muse. Without Cannabis, we wouldn’t have had Hendrix, we wouldn’t have had some of the Beatles finest albums and now we can assume we wouldn’t have even had Hamlet. A rather strong case for Cannabis’s powers of productivity.

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Amazon Releases Update on Company Drug Testing Policies

Amazon released a new statement elaborating on its decision to remove drug testing as a condition of pre-employment, as well as its support of certain cannabis-related legislation.

In a blog post on September 21, Amazon Senior Vice President of Human Resources Beth Galetti wrote about the company’s ongoing plan to support  legaliation. In the update, Galetti revealed Amazon’s dedication to cannabis, including reinstating “employment eligibility for former employees and applicants who were previously terminated or deferred during random or pre-employment marijuana screenings.” 

Furthermore, Galetti elaborates on this decision with three realizations. First, in the wake of rapid legalization sweeping the country, it has become “difficult to implement an equitable, consistent and national pre-employment marijuana testing program.” Second, she stated that the cannabis testing during pre-employment severely affects people of color. And finally, she admitted that due to Amazon’s constant growth in seeking out new employees, “eliminating pre-employment testing for cannabis allows us to expand our applicant pool.”

Galletti’s statement includes significant clarification on the topic of cannabis at Amazon compared to its previous announcements. On June 1, the company released a blog post based on its goal to become both “Earth’s Best Employer” and “Earth’s Safest Place to Work.” In that announcement ,it confirmed that it would be adjusting its drug testing policy. “We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use,” the company wrote.

In June, the company also announced it would be “actively supporting” the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021, also referred to as the MORE Act. Now, Galetti also mentioned the company’s more recent endorsement of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. 

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Cory Booker on September 1, Amazon Vice President of Public Policy Brian Huseman wrote about how the company is eager to work with them and other legislators to ensure that the Act passes. 

“The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act makes a number of important changes that we support. First, we support removing cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act. Doing so will open significant new economic opportunities for millions of capable individuals while beginning to restore some of the damage done to highly affected communities.” 

Huseman also called for Congress to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and to expunge more individuals whose lives have been negatively affected by the War on Drugs. “For far too long, criminal marijuana provisions have been unequally enforced upon people of color, perpetuating over-incarceration, poverty, health conditions and other barriers to economic opportunity,” he wrote. 

“We believe it’s necessary to expunge these crimes that our society has borne on the shoulders of communities of color. And as the nation’s second largest employer, we support expungement to ensure that all capable individuals have a fair opportunity to seek and secure employment wherever they choose. Finally, we support community reinvestment grants, which can have a positive impact in pursuit of social justice.” 

Huseman’s letter openly notes that the company does not have an opinion on certain views about the industry, including “regulation, permitting, taxation and interstate commerce.”

Galetti ended her September 21 letter with a hopeful outlook on the future of cannabis for employees, and for citizens of the U.S. as a whole. “We are enthused by the notable momentum in the country toward recognizing that today’s status quo is unfair and untenable. We look forward to working with Congress and other supporters to secure necessary reform of the nation’s cannabis laws,” she concluded.

Amazon’s recent ambitions to support those affected by the War on Drugs, and supporting them through political means, continues to be an opportunity for the ongoing fight for cannabis legalization. Although, recent reports are left wondering what kind of involvement Amazon could be planning for the future.

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Switzerland’s Zurich to Begin Recreational Cannabis Trial in 2022

Switzerland has finally announced its highly anticipated three-and-a-half-year pilot scheme to implement the development of a recreational cannabis trial (and industry). This is a direct result of legislative changes made in Swiss law about the same last year.

The trial will allow Swiss cities to set up their own cannabis markets, and further, conduct their own studies on the effect of such trial cannabis markets—as well as the impact on the citizenry on the use of the drug.

The Zurich trial, called “Zuri Can” will begin in the fall of next year and include different products with varying levels of THC and CBD content. The municipal trial will be supervised by the psychiatric hospital of the University of Zurich.

Local manufacturers must obtain a production permit from the Federal Office of Public Health to ensure quality standards.

Beyond being one of the most avidly watched experiments right now, this is also a large turnaround by the Swiss people and legislature in a relatively short period of time (and one that both tracks and lags North American reform by about seven years). In 2008, almost two-thirds of the Swiss voting public decided against decriminalization of cannabis for personal use.

What is Good (And Bad) About the Approach

At this point, as the recreational reform discussion has stalled in the DACH region (Germany, Switzerland, and Austria) beyond the rest of Europe, any federally regulated recreational trial in any of these countries should be considered a mark of progress.

Sadly, however, there are still some odd elements to all of this that smack of lingering stigma, starting with having the recreational trial in the country’s largest city supervised by any Psych Department. The second odd twist to this is that the trial only seeks “experienced users” to participate.

What exactly an “experienced” user is defined by will be determined by hair tests—namely, one must prove that one has consumed enough cannabis for the proof to show up not just in urine or even blood tests. 

Beyond this definition, however, the study goals are clear: to understand the dynamics of a legitimate market and how to set up the same to combat the illicit one. The idea, of course, in four years, is ostensibly to transition to a federally licensed, national recreational market—the second in Europe after Holland at the current schedule. 

Beyond Zurich, other experiments are planned for the largest Swiss cities including Basel, Bern, Biel and Geneva. 

While of course official estimates are just that (and for all the obvious reasons), there are currently an estimated 200,000 people who consume cannabis or cannabis products on an ongoing basis.

Organic in Switzerland

There is another twist to all this that could prove to be a game changer in the way that cannabis is grown (and even for medical purposes) across Europe. Namely, the only cannabis to be allowed in the trial must be grown both domestically and organically. 

This means that the Swiss are potentially setting another precedent that could well ripple across Europe if not the entire cultivation industry. So far, there has been terrific debate about how both medical and recreational cannabis should be cultivated.

The debate so far—mainly whether cannabis grown indoors but under high GACP standards (namely national if not regional standards for all foodstuffs) could, in some circumstances, be certified as EU-GMP (or pharmaceutical grade) through the processing, extracting and packaging process. The requirement that cannabis be an organic crop in Switzerland begins to better define the process generally—and, in fact, could well become a regional standard for all cannabis grown throughout the EU. See Portugal and Spain, for starters, where this debate has begun to rage, triggered by the German medical import market.

If such a regulatory schemata were widely copied from Switzerland, this, in turn, would help regulate nascent domestic markets across the continent and create a path to both the pharmaceutical and recreational markets that starts with a single certification.

This also could be used to lower (significantly) the expense of medical cannabis production, not to mention lower the carbon footprint of the same.

In its own way, the strategic Swiss may, as a result, leave their own mark on an industry that, far from Swiss borders, needs better guidance about how to cultivate and process in the future.

The post Switzerland’s Zurich to Begin Recreational Cannabis Trial in 2022 appeared first on High Times.

Are Delta-8 THC Products Actually Dangerous?

Last Tuesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration published a warning to the public “regarding the potential health risks of using Delta-8 THC products.”

Part of their reasoning for putting out a statement was due to “an uptick in adverse event reports to the FDA and the nation’s poison control centers.”

Questionable Side Effects

Cannabis isn’t supposed to give you a hangover. But that’s exactly what the Delta-8 THC gummies—purchased from a gas station, copped at a smoke shop, or ordered online —did to one of Greg Gerdeman’s friends.

“They took one and felt totally hung over the next day,” recounted Gerdeman, a biochemist and researcher and member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. “They were like, ‘What was that?’”

Investigating that question is what interests Gerdeman. As a “lesser known” cannabinoid, known to science for decades, Delta-8 THC—now famous and in vogue in the past year, since it can be derived from hemp, and thus federally legal—is safe and therapeutic. So that wasn’t the problem.

The culprit, Gerdeman suspects, was whatever else was in the gummy: Impurities, possibly, like residual solvents from the chemical synthesis process in which CBD isolate is converted to Delta-8 THC.

Or something else entirely different, like one of the still-unknown isomers created during that process.

As for exactly what that was, and what it could do to the human body? Nobody knows. And that, along with a high probability for contamination with toxic solvents, is the problem with Delta-8 THC products. According to Gerdeman and his SCC colleagues these dangerous unknowns are an enormous potential liability for the burgeoning hemp industry, for which Delta-8 THC products are of vital importance.

Consensus For Concern

Since former President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law, legalizing hemp cultivation and production in the U.S., the hemp industry has grown by leaps and bounds, but has largely failed to find profitable traction. In late 2019, with hemp companies overproducing and extraction companies sitting on mounds of unsold CBD isolate, a savior appeared in the guise of Delta-8 THC.

Molecularly very similar to Delta-9 THC found in adult-use cannabis (and banned by the federal Controlled Substances Act), Delta-8 THC acts on the brain and body in a similar fashion. And conveniently, can be derived from CBD isolate via a relatively simple chemical process.

But the cannabis industry has moved faster than either regulatory agencies or researchers. Late last month, the SCC—which includes other respected cannabis researchers such as Dr. Ethan Russo—released a “consensus” paper on Delta-8 THC products.

Untrained Chemists, Unknown Compounds

According to the SCC, the “untrained garage chemists” that are making Delta-8 THC products—which, with few exceptions, are not regulated by states and are not marketed or sold with any assurance of potency or quality control—may be selling products contaminated with solvents like the “light hydrocarbons” used in the extraction process.

More troubling, perhaps, is the science experiment Delta-8 THC product users are conducting on themselves—knowingly or not. According to the SCC, the conversion process creates “a number of molecular isomers that do not exist in nature” and that have yet to be fully identified in lab analyses.

And “we have no knowledge” how these “unidentifiable… isomers behave in the body,” according to the SCC’s consensus statement. Do they cause hangovers? Will they interact poorly with other drugs? How much of them are in Delta-8 products made from CBD isolate with 80 percent purity? These are questions consumers should ask, but product makers themselves likely have no idea.

“What’s most often underappreciated and completely glossed over in all of the sort of bubblegum ‘What is Delta 8’ stories out there, are the impurities that are created by the synthetic process,” Gerdeman said. “The fact that it can be done so cheaply and with a lot of side products that are completely unknown to nature… that’s what I am mostly concerned with.”

“I’m not concerned about Delta 8 as a molecule,” he added. “We know very well cannabinoids are remarkably safe and therapeutic molecules.”

“What I am most concerned about is, chemists are cooking together products and they’re able to sell their work in the public marketplace when it’s only met internal controls,” Gerdeman said.

Hemp Industry Aware

While Delta-8 product makers claim their wares are safe and pass muster, hemp advocates are aware of the issues raised by the SCC.

“Truly it’s something that has never been in the food or supplement supply chain, and that’s a problem from a regulatory standpoint,” said Bob Hoban, a Denver-based attorney who specializes in the hemp industry and has advocated for hemp legalization. “These new isomers are not found in trace quantities in hemp seed oil, or hemp seed, or anything that was previously allowed under federal law.”

“That’s concerning to the public, and it should be,” Hoban added.

Though there are examples in medical literature of dangerous and potentially deadly interactions with CBD products, there are no such examples yet of a Delta-8 product causing health problems. This could partially be because Delta-8 is still so new.

For years the federal government has pondered product-safety standards for products containing hemp derived CBD. The federal Food and Drug Administration may add Delta-8 products to regulations and may issue regulations Delta-8 product makers don’t like if Delta-8 product makers fail to self-regulate.

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