Week in Review: Germany Likely to Legalization; Politics a Hot Topic at SXSW

Germany’s Health Minister Indicates That Legalization Will Proceed

The German health minister has indicated that adult-use legalization will move forward in the European country, reports Marijuana Moment. Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Tuesday that he has received “very good feedback” from the European Commission and expects his bill to be formally presented “in the next few weeks.” 

“We’ll soon present a proposal that works, that is, that conforms to European law,” Minister Lauterbach said. Throughout the lobbying process, the minister has indicated that his efforts aim to improve public health in Germany via regulating adult-use cannabis. In 2022, the Federal Cabinet of Germany adopted a preliminary outline for legalization legislation. Still, the government required EU approval to ensure that adopting the change wouldn’t violate their international duties.

Under the government’s soon-to-be-revised proposal, which is currently only a 12-page framework and not actual legislation, adults 18 and older would be permitted to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis from establishments with federal licenses, potentially including pharmacies. Moreover, they may raise up to three plants for their own use.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andrew DeAngelo. Photo courtesy of SXSW

Legalization the Hot Topic at SXSW 2023

Global Cannabis Consultant and Strategic Advisor Andrew DeAngelo, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) gathered onstage to discuss federal cannabis legalization at this year’s SXSW conference in Austin. The panel, called “Which Political Party Will Legalize Weed?” gave the two representatives an opportunity for a lively discussion on the end of federal cannabis prohibition. Moderator DeAngelo pushed the politicians on the lack of progress in the Capitol, according to Green Market Report.

Blumenauer is said to be “more optimistic” than last year, referencing President Biden’s pardoning of cannabis prisoners and the fact that Biden is also keeping the possibility of descheduling on the table after initiating a review of cannabis classification. However, he was said to be more critical of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) inability to get a voting measure passed by the House, quoted as saying their desire for perfect legislation is behind the continued stalling but believes the two had “learned their lesson” and are more open to compromise.

Mace was reportedly less optimistic, saying if any change is going to happen, it needs to be done before June, as after that, “it’ll be about the presidential election,” she said. The South Carolina Republican also noted that President Biden could use it to his advantage to boost his reelection hopes.

Photo couresy of Death Row Cannabis

Snoop Extends Death Row Cannabis Product Offering 

 Following the sold-out first product drop of its debut offerings LA Runtz, Trop Cherry, Strawberry Garry and SFV OG, Death Row Cannabis has launched two new additions, True OG and Strawberry Gelato (Apple Fritter x Lemon Cherry Gelato hybrid), on March 10. Plus, fans of LA Runtz can be reassured that the popular strain also be returning. Like the first fire drop, these new cultivars were carefully by Death Row Cannabis’ Head of Operations, AK, a longtime West Coast legacy cultivator. 

“We’re very excited to introduce California consumers to Death Row Cannabis’s newest heavy hitter, Strawberry Gelato,” Travis “Shaggy” Marshall, head of product, said. “It has a loud, unique strawberry nose that’s tart and sharp on the front but sweet and creamy on the back. To me, it’s what I’d imagine a strawberry shortcake-flavored milkshake would taste like. Not only is it uniquely delicious, but testing at over 35% it also packs a punch for heavier smokers like me.” 

Arkansas Police: Medical Marijuana Causes Other Crimes

No Increase in Traffic-Related Hospitalizations Following Cannabis Legalization

The introduction of adult-use marijuana sales in Canada isn’t linked to a rise in hospitalizations for traffic-related injuries, according to data published in the journal Addiction, reports NORML. Researchers compared the national rates of hospital admissions and emergency room visits in the years before and immediately after legalization. 

 “Overall, there’s no clear evidence that RCL [recreational cannabis laws] had any effect on rates of ED visits and hospitalizations for either motor vehicle or pedestrian/cyclist injury across Canada,” the authors concluded.

The results align with an earlier Canadian study from 2021, which “found no evidence that the implementation of the Cannabis Act was associated with significant changes in post-legalization patterns of all drivers’ traffic-injury ED visits or, more specifically, youth-driver traffic-injury ED presentations.”

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THC Detox: What You Need to Know

A THC detox is extremely complex from an objective standpoint. Absorption and metabolism of THC molecules into water-soluble metabolites so they can be urinated out is a naturally time-consuming process. Green Gone Detox, a THC detox brand designed by pharmacists, is on a mission to help you safely, naturally cleanse marijuana from your system. The goal of this article is to objectively explain THC drug testing and provide honest answers to the following questions:

  1. Why would I need to detox from THC?
  2. How long will THC stay in my system?
  3. What options do I have to expedite the process?

There are a variety of situations in which one may need a cannabis detox. A common situation is a urine drug test for pre-employment. Health insurance or life insurance may also require a drug test prior to policy approval. Drug screening is a routine part of parole proceedings. Some physicians and pain clinics require drug tests. Some athletic organizations may require the participant to pass a urine drug test as well.

Apart from the seemingly mandatory situations, one may personally wish to start a THC detox to reset their tolerance, AKA a “tolerance break” or “T-break”. Additionally, people may wish to refrain from cannabis simply to see how long it takes their body naturally, over time, to test clean for future reference. Regardless of your reason for detoxing, all situations should be treated with the same objective: focusing on how THC is metabolized and excreted by the human body. This leads to the importance of timing.

How Long is a THC Detox?

The amount of time THC stays in your system can vary depending on the attributes of the user in question. Some key factors include age, body composition and genetics. As we age, our metabolisms tend to slow down naturally and process chemicals that we ingest at a slower pace. Because of the complexity of how THC is broken down, many users will continue failing a drug test for cannabis even after many weeks of abstinence. The blend of liver enzymes your body tends to make also matters. The initial THC → THCOOH carboxylation reaction is mediated by a key liver enzyme system known as CYP 2C9. This is important because once the THC is carboxylated to THCOOH, the metabolite can participate in several other metabolism pathways that increase the water solubility.

Let’s not overcomplicate it though. The goal of all this is simply to break the molecule down into something easier to get rid of. If your body can’t break it into smaller molecules, the liver will add functional groups to improve water solubility to try and pass it with urine that way. That’s what’s happening here. Problems show up if you’re one of the unlucky people that doesn’t make enough—or at times not at all—the enzyme 2C9 to mediate the above-described reaction. Thankfully, only a couple percent of the population have this genetic anomaly though.

Then, there’s the whole matter of how much THC exposure the user has had. How much and for how long did the exposure take place? What was the method of ingestion? What was the potency of the material in question? All these factors matter when determining the time required for a clean test.

Having said all that, on average, it takes most consistent cannabis users around a month to test comfortably under the cutoff screening without any intervention other than time and abstinence. This, however, can fluctuate greatly depending on a combination of the above factors.

Urine sample for laboratory analysis. Photo Giovanni Cancemi

How a Drug Test Works

Now, let’s review how the drug test itself works. When a urine THC drug test is administered, they’re not actually testing for THC molecules themselves, but rather water-soluble THC metabolites that stay in your system much longer (such as the THCOOH described above).

The standard cut off that most testing centers are looking for is less than 50 ng/mL. This cutoff is extremely sensitive, as the test can detect a very small amount of additive THC metabolites per volume. However, it’s important to note here that if this is passed on a THC urine dipstick, then the test is over, assuming the upfront tests determine there’s nothing “wrong” with the sample.

What could be wrong? Several things if a substitution is made, which is an illegal form of fraud—something Green Gone Detox is strongly against. For example, the temperature could be too high or too low; an additive could be found in the sample; or the density of the urine could show the sample is diluted.

Green Gone Detox advises consumers to provide a real sample that is really from you and nobody else in an untampered state. Usually, this sample needs to have less than 50 ng/mL THC metabolites. If this test is failed for substance, many labs will do a confirmatory test via GCMS (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) that examines the specific molecules flagged even more closely to rule out a false positive. 

Items included in a Green Gone 5-Day Detox Kit. Image courtesy of Green Gone Detox

Green Gone Can Help

Now that you have background info on some of the factors that influence THC metabolism and excretion, and how the drug test itself is conducted, let’s discuss timing.

Naturally, you’ll want to speed the detox process up if you’re going to take a drug test. Green Gone Detox works in five distinct ways to decrease the overall time to a negative THC test: 

  1. Increase in metabolite output in the liver. The goal here is to encourage the liver to put these metabolites out as fast as possible, so they can be urinated and defecated out. Green Gone Detox uses a potent liver enzyme inducer known as St. John’s Wort.
  2. Binding of metabolites in the gut. To accomplish this, Green Gone Detox uses soluble fiber in the form of Psyllium Huskto tie up metabolites in the lower gut to be passed with stool.
  3. Decrease albumin binding. This one was the big breakthrough for Green Gone Detox. Recall that a major issue with attempting to dissolve metabolites into the urine itself is that THC metabolites are highly bound to blood proteins. Green Gone introduced salicylate derivatives naturally found in White Willow. This binds to the same sites on albumin as THC metabolites, and in doing, so frees up the drug to be cleared with the urine much easier. Additionally, this is why NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause false positives on a THC test strip, because both molecules are chemically similar and bind to the strip.
  4. Increase urine pH. Most urine produced is acidic in nature. Given the metabolites are also acidic, they tend to dissolve poorly. The Green Gone Detox formula increases pH using Sodium Bicarbonate to fix this.
  5. Increase urine output. This is fairly straightforward. Now that the hard part has been accomplished (making the metabolites quicker, collecting them in the gut, preventing them from being bound in the bloodstream, and increasing the pH to encourage them to dissolve in the urine), all you’ll want to do is produce more urine. Green Gone Detox also satisfied this need via a natural diuretic known as Horsetail Extract.

Green Gone Detox kits are proudly designed by pharmacists and made in the US at an FDA-inspected, GMP-certified facility. Additionally, health-minded consumers can rest easy knowing the Green Gone Detox kits are vegan and Kosher-friendly. Each kit is stocked with five THC urine test strips, and all kits are covered by Green Gone LLC’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

Ready to Detox?

Hopefully this article helps you better understand how a THC cleanse works, as well as some of the methodology behind it. If you would like to learn more or would like to see which product would best fit your personal needs, try Green Gone Detox’s THC detox calculator. The brand has a seven-year established record of helping people successfully reach their THC detox goals.

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Washington Senate Passes Bill Banning Hiring Discrimination for Pot Use

The Washington Senate this week approved a bill that would protect cannabis users from pre-employment job discrimination. The measure, Senate Bill 5123, was passed by the state Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 28-21 and will now be considered by the Washington House of Representatives. 

Under the bill, employers would be barred from refusing to hire a job candidate based solely on the results of pre-employment screening for cannabis use. The legislation does not include protection for other substances, so screenings for other drugs would still be allowed during the hiring process.

“It comes down to discriminating against people who use cannabis,” state Senator Karen Keiser, the lead sponsor of the bill and the chair of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, said in a statement cited by online news site The Center Square. “For people using a legal substance, having a pre-employment test like this is just plain unfair, and we should stop it.”

“At a time when the number of unfilled positions is extremely high, we shouldn’t be limiting our workforce by deterring qualified job applicants,” she added. “This legislation opens the door for people who might otherwise not even apply for a position.”

The legislation does not apply to some jobs including positions in the airline and aerospace industries. The measure also does not apply to jobs that require a federal background check or security clearance.

While the bill protects potential employees from drug tests while applying for a job, Keiser noted that the bill does not prevent employers from subjecting their workers to drug screenings for weed during employment. Under the measure, companies will still be allowed to fire employees who test positive for cannabis in order to maintain a drug-free workplace. Employers could also subject employees to a drug test for cannabis use after a workplace accident or if they suspect a worker is impaired by cannabis while on the job.

“If your employer wants to test you every week after you’re hired, they’re still able to do that,” Keiser said. “This is simply opening the front door of getting into a job. Because too many people who see that they have to take a drug test to even apply, don’t even apply.”

Washington Legalized Recreational Pot In 2012

Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 with the passage of Initiative 502, a ballot measure that was supported by nearly 56% of voters. But while the measure protected cannabis users from prosecution, the initiative did not include protections for workers who use weed off the job. 

Nevada became the first state to protect job applicants from pre-employment drug tests for cannabis in 2019. Since then, other states have also passed employment protection measures, including a California bill protecting workers from discrimination based on their use of marijuana while off the clock that was passed last year.

Cannabis advocates who support employment protections note that current drug screenings can only determine the presence of cannabis metabolites, which can remain in the system long after using marijuana. Burl Bryson, executive director of The Cannabis Alliance, told lawmakers at a public hearing last month that potential job candidates can consume cannabis legally “and still test positive … weeks later.”

“If the same approach were applied to alcohol, employers would refuse employment to anyone who enjoyed a beer or a glass of wine on the weekend,” said Bryson. “We all know that this is not a workable standard.”

“It simply doesn’t make sense to base an employment decision on that kind of unreliable outcome and test,” Keiser told her colleagues in the Senate before Wednesday’s vote.

Brian Fitzpatrick, CEO of the cannabis industry compliance platform Qredible, said that there are legitimate reasons for some employers to maintain a drug-free workplace. But he added that “exceptions need to be made, particularly for medical cannabis users, but also for responsible adult users.”

“There are policies that exist that govern not showing up for work intoxicated under the influence of alcohol, and cannabis should be no different,” Fitzpatrick wrote in an email to High Times. “Unlike alcohol, there is research suggesting that cannabis use does not significantly impair job performance, as such, employers should re-evaluate their policies regarding cannabis use to create a more equitable approach to cannabis users.”

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New Jersey AG Releases Revised Drug Testing Policy for Law Enforcement

It’s been nearly a year since New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis program went live in April 2022. Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin revised his Law Enforcement Drug Testing Policy document to reflect this change for officers across the state. “Due to the complex nature of the law, and in order to provide uniformity in State employee drug testing as it pertains to the use of cannabis, it is necessary to revise this policy,” the document states in its introduction.

The revision also includes a section explaining the differences between drug testing for reasonable suspicion and probable cause. “Agencies must undertake drug testing when there is reasonable suspicion to believe a law enforcement officer is engaged in the illegal use of a controlled dangerous substance, or is under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, including unregulated marijuana, or cannabis during work hours,” the policy states. It adds that this requires objective facts to lead a person to conclude that drug-related activity has taken place.

The policy for reasonable cause is described as “less demanding” than establishing probable cause because 1) more is required to satisfy the probable cause standard and 2) the “type of information” for reasonable suspicion is “less reliable than that required to show [probable] cause.”

Being found under the influence of cannabis or consuming cannabis “at work or during work hours” is prohibited. Reasonable suspicion in testing officers for cannabis use will be required if there is reasonable suspicion of the individual’s use of cannabis during work, or “observable signs of intoxication.”

Platkin initially released a memo one day after legal sales began in April 2022, stating that police can use cannabis while off duty. At the time, some senators penned a letter to Platkin with concerns about how it “fails to mention that marijuana users are federally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, an omission that may put officers unknowingly at risk of criminal prosecution.”

In October 2022, just after Platkin was sworn in as attorney general, he issued a directive that required law enforcement agencies to conduct two random drug tests for “at least 10 percent of the total number of sworn officers within the agency, and every officer must have an equal chance of selection during each test.”

Within the first 10 weeks of sales following the launch of adult-use cannabis in April 2022, New Jersey collected nearly $80 million in sales. “The market is improving. It is performing as we expect with the current number of dispensaries, the spread of locations, and the high prices,” said New Jersey Regulatory Commission Executive Director Jeff Brown. “As more cannabis businesses come online, consumers won’t have to travel as far to make purchases, and prices will fall with increased competition. The market will do even better.”

More recently, sales reached more than $100 million. “New Jersey is only seeing the beginning of what is possible for cannabis,” said Brown last month in January. “We have now awarded 36 annual licenses for recreational cannabis businesses to New Jersey entrepreneurs, including 15 for dispensaries. Those businesses alone will be a significant growth of the market. With more locations and greater competition, we expect the customer base to grow and prices to come down.” New Jersey’s cannabis industry continues to thrive, attracting big celebrities such as Raekwon and Ice-T to open a dispensary in the state.

Next up, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission is establishing a plan to permit public cannabis lounges. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the agency released draft rules at the end of January, which would allow cannabis dispensaries to have indoor or outdoor spaces for legal consumption.

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Nevada Medical Pot Patients Can Sue Former Employer If Fired, Court Rules

If you’re a medical cannabis patient in Nevada, smoke up: medical cannabis patients in the state were recently empowered to consume cannabis on their own time after a landmark decision in court.

On December 1, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that employees in the state have the right to sue their former employees if they were terminated for consuming cannabis off the clock. Keep in mind, however, that adult-use cannabis consumers in the state aren’t exactly provided the same protections.

The ruling dates back three years, when Jim Roushkolb filed the lawsuit in the Eighth District Court in November 2019.

“It relaxes me,” Roushkolb told FOX affiliate KTNV, who suffers from PTSD and numerous other conditions. In 1995, Roushkolb was severely attacked when a former inmate assaulted him in his car as a corrections officer in Ohio.

“He opened the door, and he grabbed me, and he just hit me in the head with a pipe,” he said, “and just started beating me in the head, and he took his thumb and jammed it in my eye like that and tore my retina.”

Roushkolb used cannabis to ease PTSD symptoms and anxiety, but then in 2018, his employer, Freeman Expositions LLC, fired him on the spot after he tested positive for THC, which he was taking legally as a medical cannabis patient in Nevada.

His attorney Christian Gabroy immediately recognized a clear-cut case. 

“The company acted discriminatory, this company violated his rights, and this multi-jurisdictional, multi-million dollar company, they terminated him in violation of Nevada law,” Gabroy said.

Not the Same For Adult-Use in Nevada

Recreational cannabis smokers in Nevada might not get the same outcome in court. NORML pointed out last September that recreational cannabis consumers and patients are subject to a different set of parameters.

Nevada law limits employers from punishing workers who are enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis access program. Furthermore, a 2019 law makes it “unlawful for any employer in [Nevada] to fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee because the prospective employee submitted to a screening test and the results of the screening test indicate the presence of marijuana.” 

But good luck fighting it in court if you’re fired for a drug test. As it turns out—there’s plenty of legal precedent on the matter: Just last August, the Nevada Supreme Court denied a similar lawsuit for an employee fired for testing positive for THC.

The Nevada Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss a complaint by an employee who was fired for testing positive for THC for a routine test after getting in an accident.  

In the case of Ceballos v. NP Palace, LLC, the employee said that the positive THC result was due to his use of recreational cannabis at home, and that he was not intoxicated or impaired at work, complying with state law. 

Nevada law under NRS 613.333(1) makes it unlawful for employers to “[d]ischarge . . . any employee . . . because the employee engage[d] in the lawful use in this state of any product outside the premises of the employer during the employee’s nonworking hours” so long as “that use does not adversely affect the employee’s ability to perform his or her job or the safety of other employees.”

However, Nevada judges ruled that federal law—and the federal status of cannabis—also applies in that clause, and the plaintiff’s complaint was denied. A similar decision was reached by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. Using this logic, however, medical cannabis would also be illegal under federal law.

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New Jersey AG Issues Fresh Guidance on Drug Testing for Law Enforcement

The attorney general of New Jersey last week issued a new directive on drug testing requirements for law enforcement agencies, a necessary update following the launch of the state’s legal cannabis market earlier this year. 

Matthew Platkin, who was confirmed as the state’s AG last month, said that following the opening of the regulated marijuana industry in April, “many law enforcement agencies delayed the random drug testing of officers under the AG Drug Testing Policy to allow time for additional guidance and clarity.”

Under the directive that Platkin issued last Tuesday, law enforcement agencies “must conduct at least two random drug tests during the period from April 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023.”

In each of those two tests, the agencies must test “at least 10 percent of the total number of sworn officers within the agency, and every officer must have an equal chance of selection during each test.”

Those same testing requirements are in place for the period from January 1, 2022 until March 31, 2023, with Platkin’s directive noting that the “two random tests … conducted during the ‘calendar year’ of 2022 shall be extended and interpreted to include the period January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023,” and that the “two random tests … conducted during the ‘calendar year’ of 2023 shall be amended and interpreted to include the period April 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023.”

The directive continued: “If a law enforcement agency has conducted two random drug tests during calendar year 2022, and then conducts a test during the period, January 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023, that third test may count toward the 2023 requirement of two tests. To summarize, law enforcement agencies must conduct a total of at least four random drug tests between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023.”

Platkin said that in March 2020, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the state AG’s office “sought to ease the administrative burden on New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies by suspending or delaying certain statewide reporting, training, and certification deadlines.”

Voters in the Garden State approved a ballot measure in 2020 that legalized adult-use cannabis. In April, New Jersey launched the regulated retail marijuana market. 

With the new changes in effect, state regulators have been forced to tweak certain rules and practices, including workplace drug testing. 

Last month, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which oversees the state’s legal marijuana program, announced updated guidance for drug testing, saying effectively that employers still have the right to test their workers.

“The purpose of this guidance is to clarify and explain the NJ-CRC’s understanding of the existing legal requirements under the governing law,” the commission said in the announcement at the time. “This guidance does not impose any additional requirements that are not included in the law and does not establish additional rights for any person or entity. Please note, however, that adverse employment actions may impact employees’ protected rights under various laws including, but not limited to, state and federal anti-discrimination laws. When incorporating this guidance, employers should ensure compliance with all state and federal employment laws.”

The commission said that “employees cannot be acted against solely due to the presence of cannabis in their body, but employers have the right to drug test on reasonable suspicion of impairment.”

Jeff Brown, the executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, said in the announcement that it was important to show that striking “a balance between workplace safety and work performance and adult employees’ right to privacy and to consume cannabis during their off hours is possible.”

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The Danger of Synthetic Cannabis

On the potentially lethal subject of synthetic weed, the news, since legalization, is better, but still not great.

Though not wholly harmless, cannabis itself hasn’t killed anyone through overdose or misadventure. But cannabis prohibition absolutely has a body count. Between 2016 and 2019, at least 61 Americans died after exposure to synthetic cannabinoids, according to recent research conducted by scientists at Washington State University and published in the journal Clinical Toxicology.

Many more have become violently ill or wracked with disturbing mental or psychological trauma after using synthetic cannabis, with more than 64 percent of 7,600 documented exposures over that time frame requiring medical attention, the study found. (These figures don’t capture the full scope of the problem; synthetic cannabinoids are difficult to detect and use is often only detected after the user is in the hospital or the morgue.)

A broad term used generally to describe a range of potent chemicals, intended to mimic natural plant-based cannabinoids and to bind to many of the same receptors—but in some cases, up to 100 times more powerful; the difference in impact comparable “to the difference between a hose hooked up to a fire hydrant versus a faucet with a slow drip,” in the words of Dr. Patricia Frye, a Maryland-based physician and cannabis expert. “Synthetic cannabis” is banned under federal and most state law. (Plant-derived cannabis products created via chemical synthesis, including Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC, aren’t in this product category.)

Though not a priority for law enforcement, who still arrested hundreds of thousands of Americans for marijuana possession in 2020, synthetic cannabis is notorious stuff. Most often appearing in large cities, fake weed was the ultimate culprit behind a so-called “zombie outbreak” in 2016 in New York City, after several dozen people exhibited the same troubling dis-associative symptoms after smoking a particularly nasty “incense” product called “AK-47” Karat Gold.

Why would anyone use such dangerous and toxic stuff? And how can policymakers discourage such self-harm and solve what researchers described to Cannabis Now as a “serious health threat”?

The obvious answer will not shock you.

Nobody Really Likes Synthetic Weed, But…

Initially created in labs to understand how cannabinoid receptors work, synthetic cannabis was never intended for use in humans. And perhaps owing to the nasty side effects, synthetic cannabis use isn’t widespread.

Natural cannabis is far more popular. Even the estimated 0.2 to 0.4 percent of the population who do admit to using synthetic weed say they’d prefer natural cannabis.

However, there’s some societal “encouragement” for synthetic cannabis use: synthetic weed prohibition turns out to be difficult to enforce. Synthetic cannabis doesn’t contain THC. Users won’t show THC metabolites on a urine screening, and so drug tests can’t detect synthetic cannabis, the study noted. Thus, anyone in a position to want a buzz and avoid punishment for weed, including US service members, may decide that fake cannabis is worth the risk.

Users profiled in another recent study, from researchers based in Spain, confirm this ready common-sense explanation: Because drug tests don’t search for synthetic cannabinoids, meaning people worried about losing employment, housing, or other opportunities for a positive drug test are willing to risk serious consequences to achieve something like a weed-like buzz.

In other words, drug laws encourage drug users to risk great bodily and mental harm they wouldn’t otherwise risk. They say so themselves.

Synthetic cannabinoids “exist as a by-product of prohibition,” said Dr. Ethan Russo, a physician, neurologist and prominent researcher and author.

“Following the law of unintended consequences, the continued pervasiveness of urine drug screening for employment has stimulated the popular appeal of synthetic cannabinoids, which are not detectable on routine laboratory tests,” Russo told Cannabis Now. “The result is considerable attendant morbidity and mortality.”

In some places, this situation is getting worse. According to the researchers’ findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, “synthetic cannabinoids are increasingly gaining popularity and replacing traditional cannabis.”

However, that’s not the case in the US, where a simple and popular policy intervention leads to a decline in synthetic cannabinoid exposure (and related deaths and hospitalizations) of more than 37%. Only 5.5% of the synthetic cannabinoid poisonings tracked in the study occurred in states with legalization laws.

This magic public-health solution is allowing people to use cannabis safely and legally.

With Synthetic Cannabis, Legalization Saves Lives

As the Washington state researchers noted, synthetic cannabinoid exposures declined in the US starting in 2016—the same year that four states (California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada) legalized adult-use cannabis for adults 18 and over.

Of the exposures that were recorded, most–-56%–-occurred in states “with restrictive cannabis policies at the time of the exposure,” the researchers wrote. When a state passed a law with a more “permissive cannabis policy,” synthetic cannabinoid exposures reduced by 37%, they added.

This amounted to an “association” between “liberal policies (legalization) for natural cannabis and declines in reported synthetic cannabinoid poisonings,” they concluded. “This finding suggests a potential effect of policy change on substance use behaviors that may have long-term public health implications.”

Tracy Klein, the lead researcher and a professor in Washington State University’s College of Nursing, didn’t respond to a request for comment. But other experts, including Frye and Russo and Peter Grinspoon, a Boston-based physician and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, accepted the findings as a strong endorsement for cannabis legalization as a public-health intervention.

Synthetic cannabis harms people, but people don’t want to use it when natural cannabis is available. When natural cannabis is available, people don’t use it. Legalization saves lives. Could there be a simpler proposition?

“The rules of society have created this problem,” Russo said, “one that should no longer exist once a legal and regulated market for cannabis is established.”

“Legalizing cannabis, in the adult-use market, would certainly eliminate the need for experimenting with these potentially deadly chemicals,” Frye said.

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Can I Smoke Weed at Work?

With marijuana becoming legal in more and more states, the question has to be asked: Can we smoke cannabis at work? Smoke breaks are part of the regular pattern of Solonje Burnett’s workday, though where workers at an Amazon warehouse or a downtown office tower might look forward to state-mandated ten-minute pauses every few hours for coffee or cigarettes (or both), Burnett punctuates her day with cannabis. And everything seems to get done just fine.

“I’ve been on a mission to normalize puff (or joint) breaks while at work for years,” says the Brooklyn-based entrepreneur who is co-founder and CEO of Humble Bloom, a cannabis culture agency, as well as the co-founder and Chief Culture & Community Officer of Honeypottt, a cannabis-focused discounts and promotions management app. For Burnett, who stays plenty busy, cannabis is a key part of that productivity—just as much as updating her LinkedIn profile, hopping on Zoom meetings and attending networking events.

“Cannabis is the medicine I need to get through juggling the many tasks of a creative entrepreneur,” she says. “It’s a matter of maintaining balance, achieving focus, finding flow and staying in a calm, elevated mindset.”

Work and Weed

Though Burnett is self-employed and thus enjoys freedom from the rules that dictate the lives of hourly wage-earning employees, even if she were a worker bee, she has two things going for her. She’s in New York, where the legalization law specifically permits cannabis use wherever tobacco is allowed. And New York also expressly forbids employers from taking action against an employee for off-duty cannabis use. 

You can come back from a lunch break reeking of the joint you just stubbed out, and that’s not sufficient cause to fire a worker in the state, observed David C. Holland, a New York City-based defense attorney. Somewhat controversially, New York’s law also has no public-safety exemption—meaning an off-duty firefighter can use cannabis, whereas a subway operator or bus driver, who may be subject to post-accident testing should a mishap happen on the job, might have to think twice. (Cops could too, in theory, though a NYPD brass revoked an earlier order this summer granting cops that right.)

But not everyone else is so lucky as Solonje Burnett or as a New York City firefighter. As two-thirds of Americans live in states where cannabis can be legally possessed and consumed and the debate over criminalization shifts to Congress and the White House, certain key practical considerations remain unaddressed. 

These include balancing an employer’s right to create a functional and profitable working environment with employees’ rights to govern their own personal conduct. So, can you smoke cannabis at work? 

Worker Protections Lacking in Legalization

So-called “first-wave” legalization states such as Colorado and California don’t have the same protections for off-duty cannabis use as New Yorkers. (Cannabis culture is worth only so much.) This was a flaw that legalization advocates noted and addressed in later laws and have had to return to lawmakers to correct in states that legalized first.

In California, a bill protecting workers from termination for off-duty cannabis use in 2024 recently passed the state Legislature and is expected to be signed into law later this month, nothing in any state law in the country allows you to use cannabis during work hours. 

Yet, as Burnett and others contacted for this article observed, every workplace in America likely has someone under the influence of cannabis while on the clock.

But what does that mean, anyway? There’s a vast gap between responsible, mindful cannabis use to soothe anxiety or stimulate creativity and visible, disruptive intoxication—yet in workplace culture, the two are often treated as one and the same. 

That’s the nature of cannabis drug-testing, where a positive result famously reveals past consumption that may be days or weeks in the rear-view.

Use Weed, Get Fired

The law’s strength has yet to be tested in the courts, but in New York and New Jersey and other states where off-duty use is protected, the only way to get fired for cannabis use is to demonstrate intoxication as well as impaired performance. And that impairment must be clear.

“The odor of weed isn’t enough to get drug tested or disciplined,” said Holland, the New York attorney. “There has to be a clear and articulated observation that the worker isn’t performing up to speed.”

That, however, is also going to lead to problems in the form of lawsuits challenging dismissals, as employers seek to allege that a worker producing 100 widgets a day suddenly slipped to 85 because of cannabis—and attempt to prove it.

“You’re going to see a lot of fabricated claims,” Holland said. But one thing that won’t be tolerated, since it’s not protected, are smoke breaks like Burnett’s. Possession at work and use during work hours aren’t protected acts, so anyone who does like to consume during the day beware.

Unfinished Business

This weird list of conflicting bullet points—you can’t smoke marijuana on the job or during work hours, though many do; you can’t smoke weed at home in some states and be safe from ramifications after a drug-test, though for many, this will never be an issue—leaves anyone searching or offering practical advice in a bit of bind. 

But it also illustrates the incomplete project marijuana legalization remains, even in states where cannabis culture is deeply rooted. Policing cannabis at work is still a technique to control and punish workers. 

And given the different standards applied to blue-collar and service-industry workers compared to knowledge economy workers—many of whom are still comfortably working from home, enjoying the privileges granted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may also include the freedom to indulge in cannabis—there are racial and classist divides at play, too.

Quiet Quitting

Though for now, in the great workplace debates around “quiet quitting” and dragging workers back to the dreary rigors of commutes, cubicles and business-casual, cannabis use hasn’t appeared as a dividing line quite yet.

“I haven’t heard any complaints, post-COVID or otherwise, about office workers being upset that their co-workers are smoking cannabis at work,” said Ellen Komp, the deputy director of California NORML, one of the chief sponsors of the workplace-protections bill currently awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature. 

This could partially be because employers are still in the process of summoning office workers back into the office—and only some employers at that. Many are content to let their workers remain at home several days out of the week, or all of it, if that’s what it takes to keep their people happy and productive.

As for co-working with cannabis, that’s a cultural shift that’s yet to take root, at least officially. For now, American workers will have to make do with a familiar status quo: uneven and unequal treatment, and some unclear directions under the law, rules and culture still struggling to adjust.

“Employers and co-working spaces need to recognize and release their biases,” Burnett said. “Many of us are already high in the workplace. It’s all about responsible conscious consumption.”

The post Can I Smoke Weed at Work? appeared first on Cannabis Now.

U.S. Forest Service Employees Still Banned From Consuming Cannabis

On Aug. 22, the U.S. Forest Service Human Resources published a notice to remind employees that cannabis consumption is not allowed, even if they live in a state where it’s legal.

“Several states now allow recreational and or medicinal use of marijuana. However, marijuana is still an illegal drug per federal law,” the notice said. “All Forest Service employees must remain drug-free and refrain from illegal drug use whether on or off duty regardless of state laws. There have been no changes to the panel of drugs contained in the list of Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substance Act.”

The notice also listed the current rules for drug testing protocol. First, it warned that any employee can be subjected to drug testing for cannabis if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they have been consuming. Second, employees whose jobs are listed as Test Designated Positions (TDPs) will also continue to be drug tested. “Test Designated Positions generally carry safety or security responsibilities tied to the Forest Service mission. Job functions associated with TDPs relate to public health and safety, the protection of life and property, law enforcement, or national security.”

Finally, should an employee test positive for either cannabis or any other illegal substance they “will be subject to mandatory administrative actions per DR 4430-792-2, Drug-Free Workplace Program, which includes discipline up to removal for the first finding of illegal drug use.”

Although CBD was legalized nationwide through the 2018 Farm Bill, the U.S. Forest Service’s notice states that it is also off limits. “[CBD] can be inaccurately labeled as having no to low levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol, and yet actually contain high levels. If you use CBD, you could test positive for illegal drug use.”

Some U.S. Forest Service Employees are tasked with removing illegal cannabis plants found on national forest land, and cleaning up any trash or other materials left behind. However, in 2018 a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that after reviewing these sites, there was evidence that a proper cleanup was not conducted.

“We performed onsite inspections of eight marijuana grow sites that were eradicated in FYs 2014- 2016 in California and two marijuana grow sites in Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky,” the report states. “Hazardous materials were present at seven of the eight grow sites in California, and infrastructure such as irrigation piping, trash, or equipment were found at all eight sites. The hazardous material and infrastructure were still present several years after eradication for some of the grow sites.”

A study published in July 2019 found that legal cannabis can reduce illegal grows in national forests. “Arguably, our models hint that outright, national recreational cannabis legalization would be one means by which illegal grows on national forests could be made to disappear,” the researchers wrote. They also stated their belief that taxes on legal cannabis is what drives people to cultivate illegally on federal land.

Other agencies in the U.S. are also updating or reiterating current rules and restrictions of cannabis for employees. Last August, data showed that commercial truck drivers consumed cannabis more than any other substance. However in May 2022, the U.S Department of Transportation shared that 10,276 commercial truck drivers tested positive for cannabis, and this violation of the department’s rules contributed to a nationwide shortage of drivers who couldn’t keep their jobs. Most recently in August, draft rules were published on the Federal Register that warned medical examiners of commercial drivers that CBD could still contain THC, which is not allowed. “A driver who uses marijuana cannot be physically qualified even if marijuana is legal in the State where the driver resides for recreational, medicinal, or religious use,” the rules stated.

The post U.S. Forest Service Employees Still Banned From Consuming Cannabis appeared first on High Times.

Science Confirms: You Can’t Get High on CBD

Can CBD get you high?

It’s not quite right to say that CBD—or cannabidiol, which, after THC, is the best-known and most abundant cannabinoid (“active ingredient”) found in the cannabis plant—isn’t “psychoactive.” Of course, CBD has some effect on the mind; if it didn’t, why would CBD, which adherents say helps alleviate brain-powered problems including insomnia and anxiety, be so popular?

What is right is to say is that unlike THC, CBD is “non-intoxicating.” In fact, CBD is non-intoxicating to a such a degree that you can consume great gobs of the stuff and still be relied upon to safely operate a motor vehicle, according to a recent study.

So, can CBD get you high? No. However, this isn’t to say that CBD isn’t without some risks, biological as well as legal. Depending on what CBD formulation a patient is using, and depending on what state they’re in, they may indeed be able to operate a motor vehicle without any issue while on an epic amount of CBD — while still running the risk of a “cannabis DUI” charge. And depending on what other pharmaceuticals and other drugs a patient may be taking; CBD does carry some risks.

Safe at any Speed

In this most recent study, researchers in Australia—where doctors have written more than 55,000 prescriptions for medicinal CBD since medical cannabis was legalized in 2016—gave doses of either a placebo or synthetically derived CBD ranging from 15 milligrams to 1,500 milligrams to 17 study participants. Each participant was then asked to perform basic tasks in a driving simulator between 45 to 75 minutes after taking their dose, and then again between 3.5 to 4 hours later.

And, according to findings published last month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, even a massive, prescription-only dose of CBD “has no impact on people’s driving or cognitive abilities,” as the University of Sydney, where the lead researchers are employed, reported in a news release.

The question of can CBD get you high? has been answered: Not only did the study participants report no feeling of intoxication, but they also exhibited no signs of intoxication whatsoever.

These findings are consistent with past research, and they “suggest that unlike some other drugs, CBD can be used without the risk of being unable to operate a motor vehicle,” said Danielle McCartney, the lead researcher and a professor at the University of Sydney’s School of Psychology. “This could certainly make CBD more appealing than other therapies to some patients (e.g., those with jobs requiring them to operate heavy machinery).

Previous research found that low doses of vaporized CBD also had no impact on driving ability. But the CBD used in the study isn’t the CBD most people are using.

What’s in Your CBD?

In Australia, it’s already legal for consumers to drive a car while using CBD. The same is true in the US, where neither state nor the federal government imposes any limits on how much CBD can be in the human body while operating a vehicle.

But the same isn’t true for THC. In theory, it’s possible to consume enough CBD oil to trigger a positive result for THC in a drug test, as well as exceed the “per se” limit for cannabis intoxication in states that still have a per se limit.

That’s because in the US, “hemp” is classified as cannabis with 0.3 percent or less THC. While formulations and ratios will vary—and while product quality and consistency are issues that continue to bedevil the CBD industry—what this means is that a CBD product will likely have some THC, and the larger a dose of CBD, the larger the potential dose of THC.

While that still probably won’t be enough THC to create any kind of intoxicating effect, or at least an effect that the user would recognize as THC-driven intoxication—in part because CBD is a THC agonist, and tends to ameliorate or even eliminate THC’s psychoactive properties—patients in a situation where a drug test could trigger loss of employment or housing should be aware of the risk of a positive drug test, said Dr. Sherry Yafai, a Santa-Monica, CA-based physician and board member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians.

“It’s really important to highlight that,” Yafai told Cannabis Now. “I bring this up because I do have patients who test positive for THC after using a CBD product, and then get booted out of their pain-management doctor’s office.”

Yafai, who wasn’t involved with the Australian study, was also surprised that study participants reported “no lethargy or sleepiness” even at high doses. “That’s a little bit strange,” she said. “Practically speaking, a 1500 milligram dose will make most people tired for a couple of days.”

That said, this latest study is the latest demonstration of what should now be accepted as gospel: CBD is non-intoxicating.

“That’s been shown over and over again,” she said. “CBD shouldn’t be considered a drug of intoxication.”

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