Death Toll Rising: Overdose Deaths 2022 Released

The numbers from the last few years are not encouraging. It seems these days people are dropping left and right, and the main culprit is doctor prescribed medication. Recent data released by the US government shows an increase – though minor – in overdose deaths for 2022. Read on for more info.

Overdose deaths 2022

2022 is now the highest recorded year for overdose deaths in the US, taking the place of the preceding year. Provisional data released by the CDC on Wednesday, May 17th, put the number for 2022 overdose deaths at 109,680. These are not final numbers however. For example, 2021 provisional data put the number at 107,622 deaths. That number rose to 109,179 by the time final numbers came out. Final numbers for 2022 are likely to be a bit higher than what just came out. Either way, still an increase from the previous year.

The most troubling factor in this, is that over 2/3 of these deaths, are attributable to synthetic opioids. Opioids are based on compounds from the opium plant, but are not naturally occurring, and are instead made in a lab. Whereas synthetic versions of weaker opiates (compounds found in the plant) are also given as medication – like codeine; the bigger issue is with the stronger, synthetic offerings. This entire classing of drugs is lab-created, and this whole issue stems not from a black market growing, but from doctors prescribing these medications.

The drug with the biggest share of the death toll? Fentanyl. Its estimated that of 2022 numbers, more than 75,000 of the total 109,680 are attributable to synthetic opioids, with fentanyl leading the way. Fentanyl is strong in its own right, but is often mixed with other drugs, either purposefully, or accidentally; which leads to many deaths. Other drugs that played a big role in 2022 overdose death numbers, are psychostimulants, like meth and coke; which together made up over a quarter of the deaths.

Overdose deaths strong in 2022

The White House’s Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Rahul Gupta, had this to say in a statement about the current drug crisis and what the government is doing about it: “We’ve expanded treatment to millions of Americans, we’re improving access to Naloxone to reverse overdoses, and we’re attacking the illicit fentanyl supply chain at every choke point.”

Of course the bigger issue, which was 100% ignored in the White House statement, is that these are doctor prescribed medications. The whole reason this is an issue at all, is because doctors were acting as dealers…and still are. Whatever other actions might be taken, that point must be remembered. The opioid issue is massively different from other drug issues, in that these drugs are legally prescribed, and their legal prescription is not only what started this mess, but remains ongoing.

Previous years death overdose numbers

On the plus side (however much you can use that term), overdose deaths stayed relatively level from 2021-2022. 109,179 in 2021 is not terribly far from the overdose death number of 2022 – 109,680. Just a rise of a few hundred; although final numbers could put the 2022 number several thousand higher in the end. For now, the numbers indicate that things remained generally consistent, with only a minor increase; but considering an increase is still an increase – it also shows nothing was done to help the problem.

The final number for 2021 overdose deaths – 109,179, was 15%+ higher than 2020, which had approximately 93,000 overdose deaths. That number is a 30% increase from 2019 overdose death numbers, which totaled about ~70,630 deaths. This means just between the years 2019 and 2022, yearly overdose deaths increased by about 40,000 deaths. 2018 numbers weren’t much lower than 2019, with 67,367 overdose deaths that year.

In one of the only instances of a temporary change in trajectory, the 2018 numbers are a 4.1% decline from the previous year’s numbers. In 2017 there were 70,237 overdose deaths, which is almost on par with 2019; making 2018 numbers a temporary dip. Unfortunately, the trajectory did not change overall, and the numbers since increased. Weirdly enough, after that 2018 dip, numbers went up at a much faster rate than they did before. Kind of like the quiet before a storm.

The main issue with synthetic opioids started in the first decade of the century, although it didn’t pick up steam in a grand way until after 2010. Weaker opiate medications have been around for awhile, going back to the late 1800’s. It says a lot about these newer and stronger synthetics, that despite the fact we’ve had access to similar medications for over 100 years, it was only with their entrance that the overdose rate skyrocketed.

Synthetic opioids driving overdose deaths in 2022
Synthetic opioids driving overdose deaths in 2022

Even heroin has been around since the turn of last century, first as an actual medication. And whereas heroin used to represent the worst talking point for overdose deaths; related overdose numbers have stayed at relatively even levels in the last 20+ years. The main increase is in synthetic opioids only. You can see it all very clearly in graphs here.

Issues with White House statement

Obviously, upon information of this nature coming out, the White House must say something. The government has done nothing to stop the legal production of these drugs, which makes it a part of the problem automatically. The government made no bones about illegalizing Quaaludes back in the early 1980’s, despite also saying that they were highly addictive; so it stands to reason that caring about the addictive nature of opioids is not what keeps them legal. For the record, Quaaludes had a negligible death toll, especially compared to opioids.

Black markets exist for drugs that are both legal and not legal. For this particular issue, what set it off was the creation and sale of synthetic opioids. Meaning this is a pharmaceutical company and government-created issue. Given that, it stands out to me that the White House statement says this: “Most of these deaths were caused by illicit synthetic drugs like clandestinely manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine, often in combination with other drugs including cocaine, heroin, and xylazine.”

Maybe this is true. Maybe most of the deaths are from the black market now, but plenty are not. And it could be that the majority are not. These are doctor prescribed medications. Whatever illicit market there is, is only relevant because of the legal market. The drugs were created by the legal market, NOT the black market. It seems the White House wants readers to associate this entire issue with the black market, and not as a government-regulated problem.

Gupta goes on to say this: “The historic actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration are saving lives. We’ve expanded treatment to millions of Americans, we’re improving access to Naloxone to reverse overdoses, and we’re attacking the illicit fentanyl supply chain at every choke point. As a result, around 19,000 people are still alive and can be there at the dinner table, at birthdays, and at life’s most important moments.”

Once again, the White House really wants you to focus on the illicit market, not the one it promotes legally. Attacking the illicit supply chain? Why not simply not allow doctors to prescribe the medications? Why not stop their legal production and sale? If you read this without knowing anything about the issue, you’d probably not guess these are legal medications.

Drug overdose deaths
Drug overdose deaths

Even funnier still, is that having done nothing to help the problem, the government then takes credit for saving 19,000 lives. I expect the point Gupta is trying to make, is that the use of Naloxone reversed that many overdoses; but it certainly doesn’t mean that that many people were saved. It means a particular overdose was treated for a person. Not only is the government taking credit, it’s calling this a ‘historic action.’

Gupta goes on, “President Biden has called on us to double down on our efforts to save even more lives so we can beat this crisis, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.” But what does that mean? Even more Naloxone? Is his argument that a drug put out to counteract overdoses, will stop an entire addiction crisis for drugs still wildly available, even legally? Does pumping an alcoholic’s stomach, make them not an alcoholic anymore? Its like, the government is offering nothing, yet trying to take credit for an only small rise in deaths. And ignoring that a rise automatically means nothing improved.

He goes on to talk about seizures of illegal product, seemingly to put attention on the illegal market again. Yet, in not one place does he talk of changing regulation to limit legal production or prescribing. According to the statement, government actions are solely for increasing Naloxone use, and seizures of illicit drugs.

And it continues to ignore the most useful possibility out there: swapping ketamine for opioids. This actual solution is never mentioned at all by any government; which is painfully weird if the idea is to help people. Not only does ketamine show as a more useful pain treatment, and one that can last months after application; but without the addictive properties of opioids. Of course, not mentioning it does go in line with helping pharma companies make money from opioid sales.


Does this leveling off mean that some action is working, and the problem will reverse? Likely, no. Because no suitable actions have been taken. Maybe the problem won’t get worse, and we’ve reached the standard leveling off point. Or maybe this is just a break in the overall trajectory, which will continue up next year. One thing for sure (or pretty sure) is that real change takes real action. Right now, the government isn’t even being honest about where the problem is coming from. So can we really expect it to do anything useful about it?

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THCA Loophole Is Making the Government Scramble

Loopholes are fun. They provide a way to get around a law, without really breaking it; by taking advantage of inconsistencies or gaps in specifics. Sometimes they really exist, and sometimes they’re ideas that are simply not worth fighting by regulators. The most recent loophole to rock the cannabis world, is surrounding the use of THC precursor, THCA. What’s this loophole all about? Read on for more info.

What is THCA?

We’re all at least somewhat familiar with the cannabis plant. At least enough to know that it goes by the names ‘marijuana’ and ‘hemp’ as well, and that there are some plants more geared toward THC, and some toward CBD. The former group is legally identified as ‘marijuana,’ while the 2018 Farm Bill specified the lower-THC grouping as ‘hemp.’ And this designations leads to the THCA loophole.

Have you tried the new THCA pre-rolls?

These terms are related to THC amount in the plants, with a .3% cutoff between the two categories. But this distinction undermines something important: that realistically, no growing cannabis plants have a lot of THC. They’re all low-THC, because THC barely exists in the growing plants. THC is a product of heating weed, which means if a cannabis plant is taken and used raw, there will always be negligible amounts of THC involved. It requires heat to turn the precursor acid – known as THCA – into the THC that makes us high.

THCA, aka tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is what really exists in high amounts in the cannabis plant. But the thing about THCA? It doesn’t get you high, and thus can be used from a raw plant, without psychoactive effects. By itself it has the chemical formula C22H30O4. When heated, it decarboxylates to C21H30O2, meaning it changes in the presence of heat. As you can tell by the formulas, they are closely related, but not the same thing. Decarboxylation is done through smoking, vaping, or leaching out active compounds using heat, like in cooking.

THCA is the precursor to THC

In a raw cannabis plant, decarboxylation does take place, but at slow rates and in low amounts. If you find some really old, dried-out weed, it’s likely to have decarboxylated a little. But if you see a nice fresh plant, still in the ground or just recently harvested, it’s likely to have almost no THC. In either case, the amounts are small enough to not cause any effects.

Is THCA legal?

Depends where it’s from. Marijuana is defined like this: “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.” According to this definition, a precursor acid is still technically a part of the plant, and therefore illegal.

But that only refers to high-THC marijuana. The last US Farm Bill made a legal distinction for hemp plants, giving them this definition: “…the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

So now we have the situation wherein identical compounds are legal when taken from one place, and illegal when taken from another. This resembles another loophole related to delta-8 THC, which operates similarly. The main difference is that the production of delta-8 requires synthetic processes, which takes it out of the definition of hemp; since the definition never allowed for synthetics. In the case of THCA, it doesn’t require synthetic processing, making it difficult to use the same argument if its place of origin, is within legal limits.

This is the THCA loophole. Whereas delta-8 cannot be extracted in high-enough amounts from either hemp or marijuana for direct product manufacturing (it occurs in amounts far too small), there is a huge amount of THCA in marijuana plants, and at least some in hemp plants. Way more than delta-8 anyway, and enough for extraction.

Since the legal application is based on the decarboxylated compound, and not the one found in the plant, selling hemp flowers as THCA flowers, isn’t technically incorrect. The THCA loophole exists by defining the plants by their THC amount, rather than their THCA amount. While its really a case of semantics, ‘THCA’ flower is any cannabis plant with below .3% THC, with no stipulation for THCA quantity.

THCA exists in marijuana and hemp, creating a legal loophole for use
THCA exists in marijuana and hemp, creating a legal loophole for use

How the THCA loophole causes problems for the government

The government likes to apply hefty taxes on any cannabis product, and its not into products sold which aren’t regulated, and therefore not able to carry this tax. Sin taxes put on cannabis products by every state, are the primary source of revenue for regulating bodies. Sin taxes are excise taxes that span a large range, some as low as 10%, and some well over 30%. Though they’re supposed to be put on dangerous products that pose personal or societal harm, the application on cannabis products means applying this tax in places where cannabis is a sanctioned medication. Massive contradiction.

The government has already had a bad time with the cannabinoids market, since it can’t get a handle on it, and that means lost tax revenue. In an effort to turn people’s opinions against the compounds, and the black market operators who sell them, the DEA and FDA have made different statements and warnings; though they’re not really backed by a death toll. I always find that part funny considering that the same governments (state and federal) support opioids through regulation; which killed close to 100,000 people in the US alone in both 2021, and 2022.

The only real ability the federal government has, is to backhandedly go after these companies by trying to ruin business. When Shopify dropped all cannabinoid sellers last year, it wasn’t stated that the move was from government pressure, but its also unlikely Shopify would reduce its own income with a ban it didn’t need to do. What the US government can do is go after internet platforms that sell the products, or mess with banking, or credit unions of those who work with sellers.

This won’t get the products out of corner shops, or even stop the internet sales; but it can cause a bit of a kink for companies, and keep them on the move to find different sales venues. Realistically, the industry exists in large numbers both on and off-line, and if it were that easy to stamp out, it would’ve been done already.

Where the federal government runs into an extra issue with THCA, is that it can’t ban it. If it put a federal ban on it, this would undermine its own definition of ‘hemp.’ If THCA is illegal, then so is all cannabis. And it wouldn’t matter at that point if it was from hemp or marijuana. Unlike delta-8 THC which comes with the issue of the need for synthetic processes, THCA extraction, does not.

How does the government deal with THCA loophole?

Governments don’t like to bring things up if it makes them look bad, or backs them into a corner. For all the strife in the cannabis industry now, you’d think the governments in question would do whatever they had to. Just to preserve a consistent tax revenue line, even if just in small amounts like standard income tax. Instead, they ignore the issue of sin taxes, as if the subject isn’t pertinent. As if the taxes must exist to facilitate the industry. In fact, when California finally updated cannabis tax laws last year, it did nothing to do away with these high taxes, which increase prices. And it didn’t improve its market issues either.

Black market cannabis products don't have cannabis taxes applied
Black market cannabis products don’t have cannabis taxes applied

Likewise, the government doesn’t want to mention THCA because it doesn’t have an argument against it. Instead, it focuses on what it does have an argument against – delta-8 THC, and other synthetically-made cannabinoids. And it works to lump THCA into that category, so it doesn’t have to answer for the difference. New possible plan? A delta-8 ban, and lowering the THC limit for hemp to attempt to exclude cannabinoids like THCA. Realistically, neither is a probable answer to get rid of lower-priced black market products. We know this from the existence of black markets in general.

The big looming question now? How do governments so completely not learn? US governments (state and federal) have been fighting these black market sellers for several years, and with no real progress. Cannabis legalizations in general are an attempt to divert from already existent black markets, which have been around as long as prohibition. And no government actions have worked, except creating the legal industries, which diverted a certain amount. This most recent THCA loophole is just a showing that the black market will always prevail in the face of bad regulatory moves.

Everyone is talking about the new THCA flower


What will the federal government do about all this? Probably nothing. Maybe it’ll update definitions in the next Farm Bill. Maybe it’ll try to go after illegal sellers online. So far, history indicates that it has very little power to do much at this point, which means the sale of THCA flowers through the loophole, is likely to continue. And this offers yet another avenue for the black market to dominate the legal one; simply because of poor and ongoing judgement in regulation.

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Have you tried the never-ending 5g disposables?

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Finland Initiative for Recreational Cannabis To Go Before Parliament

Germany is plugging away at establishing its watered down version of a cannabis legalization, which is a let down from its original plan for a full-fledged market. Now, Finland is trying its luck at getting some kind of recreational cannabis legalization, which is quite a turn around for the ice-cold EU country.

Finland and cannabis

Finland is a Northern European country that sits as a sort of border between Eastern and Western Europe. It borders Russia to the East, Sweden to the west, and Norway to the north. Nearly 2/3 of the country is covered by dense forests, making it the country with the most dense forests in Europe. It has a small population of 5.6 million; and is a part of the EU, Eurozone, and NATO. It’s a country that ranks high in terms of the following: educational systems, economics, civil liberties, human development, and overall quality of life.

Cannabis is illegal for recreational use currently in Finland. Prohibition in the country started in 1966, with personal use made illegal in 1972. In 2001, the procedure for dealing with personal use cases was updated; a change meant to unburden the courts from all the personal use cases coming through. This doesn’t mean it started letting people go for these crimes though, it means it streamlined its process to make it smoother, more expedited, and geared toward money-collection over jail time.

In fact, the country was unhappy with a number of personal use cases not getting prosecuted, and made the reforms to ensure that all arrests get some sort of attention, without requiring the courts. So though cannabis reforms were made, not in the usual way we mean when we say ‘reforms’. They were instituted to create a a more consistent and workable system of punishment, even for small-scale use.

A new initiative in Finland for recreational cannabis

The new procedure, which stands today, is that the police give summary fines when a person is caught with personal use amounts, but the case doesn’t go to court unless the defendant pushes to do so. This is not the case for aggravated offenses, or bigger crimes like selling, which are always heard in court. The penalties for these latter crimes are much harsher. Under current practice, a person with no more than 15 grams of dry flower, or 10 grams of hash, is considered a personal user. This is met with a punishment of 10-20 day fines, which are fines based on daily personal income.

In terms of medical cannabis, Finland doesn’t have a wide-reaching program. It allows for cannabis use in the most extreme medical cases, amounting to 223 legally permitted users in 2014, as an example. As there is no industry in the country, those that do use it, use imported pharma products only like Sativex or Bedrocan. There are a limited number of apothecaries that sell cannabis medicines.

In 2019, a push began for real marijuana reform in the country, with the introduction of a citizens’ initiative to decriminalize personal use. The initiative collected the necessary 50,000 signatures to be heard by parliament, plus almost 10,000 extra. This created a requirement for parliament to consider the topic between 2019-2023, though nothing ever came of it. The current story is not about this initiative, but a more recent one which also collected the necessary 50,000 signatures. This time for full legalization.

Will recreational cannabis become legal in Finland?

The current initiative started last October, with the goal of a recreational legalization in Finland, complete with an adult-use market. This initiative also needed to gain 50,000 signatures, which it did at the end of April, requiring parliament to consider the case. The current initiative, should it make it through parliament, would legalize the use, possession, manufacture, and sale of cannabis in the country, as well as allow for personal cultivation.

According to the wording of the initiative, these are some of the key points:

  • The aforementioned legalization for use, possession, subsistence farming, manufacture, and sale of cannabis, with age restrictions attached.
  • The need for a regulatory system for the commercial cannabis market; with a goal of reducing harm to both individuals and society.
  • The inclusion of a cannabis tax to compensate for societal harms.
  • The need for a clearer distinction between low-THC cannabis and high-THC cannabis, so there is no confusion for farmers.
  • The expungement of criminal records for minor sale and cultivation crimes.

The initiative makes this statement: “This initiative provides a comprehensive justification for why Finland, too, should replace the Cannabis Prohibition Act with regulation. The regulation of intoxicants must be based on researched information. The Prohibition Act did not bring us a cannabis-free world. Regulation does not bring us a harm-free world of cannabis either, but it can minimize the harm and compensate for the costs.”

Could Finland pass cannabis legalization?
Could Finland pass cannabis legalization?

This initiative was helped in part by Green Party member Coel Thomas. Currently, the Green Party is the only political party in Finland to openly support cannabis reform. Thomas helped write the initiative; though his own thoughts are that it likely won’t get adopted now; and works more to continue building the case for legalization. Said Thomas of the initiative to Cannabis Health News:

“It seems likely that we will have a right-wing conservative government coming in, but even under a center-right or center-left government, it’s not likely that we could advance legalization. I don’t see how it could get a majority of votes. However, we are starting a conversation in Finland right now, that in my opinion, will most likely lead to the legalization and regulation of cannabis this decade.”

In terms of where the people in the country stand on the topic, a recent survey from the Institute for Health and Welfare, which yle reported on last month, showed a change in attitude toward cannabis for the Finnish people. According to the survey, 57% saw binge drinking as more dangerous than cannabis use, while 53% said personal use shouldn’t be considered a crime.

Can Finland pass a recreational measure like this?

Something to remember is that this initiative was started before Germany was made to downgrade its plans by the EU. Even if Finland were to pass a recreational cannabis measure, could it look anything like what was proposed? After all, Finland is also a part of the EU, and subject to EU restrictions. Unless a country is willing to go up against the EU, it should not expect to accomplish more than Germany did; at least not without a change to EU cannabis politics. This doesn’t negate the ability for a legalization, but it does for a regulated market.

Just last month, Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, had to renege on Germany’s original plans for a full-scale adult-use market in the country. In light of not getting EU approval, the country reorganized to present a plan with two parts: one a legalization that allows social clubs for growing and dissemination, and one a pilot program wherein sales can take place on a very small scale, in specified individual locations only. Finland shouldn’t realistically expect to do more.

That this just transpired with Germany, is a direct indication that Finland will not be able to pass this initiative for recreational cannabis; as the initiative in current form calls for things which were just ruled out for Germany. If this topic wasn’t worth Germany having major issues with the EU, its unlikely to provoke a country like Finland to do so.

Cannabis and the EU
Cannabis and the EU

At the time the initiative was written, these issues had not fully come to pass. They should have been foreseen (and were by some), but the result had not occurred; making it a reasonable goal. I expect part of Coel Thomas’s attitude about it now, is an understanding that regardless of how much Finland could be brought on-board with the idea, that this particular attempt is not feasible. What he says makes sense though. In most places where cannabis reform changes occurred, there were failed attempts that precipitated the changes.

This current attempt, (like the previous one), stands as a building block for an overall update, which is likely to come soon enough. In fact, it’s good to see countries like Finland, which previously quiet on the topic of reform; break out of that mindset, and enter the one where a real push for change exists.


Whether the initiative was simply ill-timed – (collecting signatures for a measure that Germany’s experience just invalidated), or an example of the need for more support on the topic; it does now enter Finland into the conversation of cannabis reform. Giving us yet another country to keep an eye on.

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Minnesota About to Become 23rd Adult-Use State

Minnesota lawmakers recently passed a bill for adult-use cannabis, and sent it to the governor’s office. The expected signature will make the state the 23rd in America to legalize recreational cannabis. The funny thing? Though this legalization would be full-scale, Minnesota has allowed a weed edible products market, since last year.

News on Minnesota as 23rd adult-use state

According to AP News, on Saturday, May 20th, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state. It wasn’t exactly a sweeping vote. It won 34-32; and was then sent to Governor Tim Walz’s desk, as it had already passed the House earlier. Assuming its signed, the new law will go into effect August 1st of this year.

The new law would allow those 21 and above to use, possess, and cultivate cannabis. The possession limit would be two pounds in a private home, and up to two ounces in public, for dry flower. A person could have up to eight grams of concentrate; and edibles, like gummies, with up to 800mg of THC max.

It would also allow retail sales, though these are expected to start a year or so after the initial legalization begins. Cannabis products would be subject to a 10% sales tax on top of other taxes; and individual locations would have choices like how many dispensaries exist, and where they can be in relation to places like schools.

New Minnesota adult-use law would expunge some convictions

The bill also includes provisions for those formerly convicted of some marijuana crimes. The state would automatically expunge anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor possession charge, via the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It’s fully expected to take about a year to finish this. Those convicted of crimes like selling, would need to apply to get their record expunged or their current sentence reduced. This would only apply to non-violent offenses.

As always, and especially in a vote this close, there is both support and opposition to the new law. Said democratic Sen. Lindsey Port in support of the bill: “Minnesotans are ready. Let’s legalize, regulate and expunge.” Countered republican Sen. Jordan Rasmusson: “The fundamental flaw with this bill is that the starting point of it from proponents has been about creating an industry to fit their ideology.”

Wasn’t Minnesota already kind-of legal?

Almost exactly a year ago, on May 22nd of 2022, Minnesota passed a large hemp reform bill. As a part of that bill, the use, possession, manufacture, and sale of hemp-derived THC edibles, is legal. This means products can contain the same THC as standard cannabis products, so long as the THC is sourced from low-THC hemp, and not high-THC marijuana. As this allows for a legal cannabis market within the state, it means Minnesota is technically already a legal state. That law went into effect exactly one year before the current one is slated to: August 1st, 2022.

The allowance isn’t complete, however. It doesn’t allow for smokables of any kind (regular flower or vapes), or anything beyond edibles, topicals, and other minor applications. Its mainly for food and drink products, and requires all THC be sourced from hemp plants. It also sets lower limits than what most states do. The law allows 5mg THC per serving, and 50mg per package. The general standard (though not a law) is 10mg per serving and 100mg per package.

Much like laws for cannabis everywhere else in the US, the Minnesota edibles law includes provisions for childproof packaging; following trademark law; and the necessity for testing for things like heavy metals, molds, pesticides, fertilizers, solvents, etc.

A big reason for the bill came from the state trying to deal with the black market more effectively, including the cannabinoid market. Since cannabinoids are almost always said to be hemp-derived, (as a supposed loophole for their existence), the bill legalizing hemp-derived compounds, also made such products available for the legal market. This in hopes it would get people to buy the legal version. At the time, there seemed to be a lot of hope for the initiative.

Minnesota already has adult-use cannabis edibles market
Minnesota already has adult-use cannabis edibles market

Of course, the problem Minnesota encountered, is that simply setting a law, won’t necessarily make anyone follow it. Plus, once consumers are told something is legal, its not for them to figure out if a specific product or store is legal. Minnesota started going after illegal operations within months of passing the bill; unable to control the black market offerings. Much like in fully legal markets, the black market dispensaries are the ones that will sell stronger products, and with more options. And consumers tend to like this.

Minnesota law enforcement found itself going after products with sometimes 50X the allowable THC limit. The government has even specifically targeted certain producers, trying to pin deaths on one, even though no death was actually attributable to any of the products. A kind of strange avenue to go down when the state supports the sale and use of opioids, which do come with the definable death toll of at least 678 deaths in just 2020.

What other states might legalize soon?

Because of its previous year legalization of THC edibles, the new adult-use bill in Minnesota is like taking a second baby step. The state already began allowing THC sales, so it technically is already a legal state. However, when it comes to official counting, it never makes the cut, since it doesn’t have a broad-ranging legalization. This new bill will thrust it over the line into the ‘officially legal’ side, making Minnesota the 23rd state to have an adult-use market.

It follows right behind Delaware, which passed its own adult-use bill in April. Delaware did it pretty quickly. Two bills were introduced in January; one for a direct legalization, and one for regulation. In the beginning of March, both bills passed the House, and then they passed the Senate at the end of the month. They were sent to Governor John Carney mid-April, and went into effect on April 23rd. They were not signed off on, as Governor Carney is not in support of the legislation. On April 21st he announced he would allow both bills to pass through without a veto or his signature.

If this sounds strange, consider that the guy had vetoed a similar bill in May 2022. Which means both the House and Senate passed a legalization measure, sent it to him, and he said ‘no’. Why change tack a year later? According to Carney in his statement about not vetoing the current bill:

“I want to be clear that my views on this issue have not changed. And I understand there are those who share my views who will be disappointed in my decision not to veto this legislation. I came to this decision because I believe we’ve spent far too much time focused on this issue, when Delawareans face more serious and pressing concerns every day. It’s time to move on.”

Some states had ballot measure for adult-use markets which didn't pass
Some states had ballot measure for adult-use markets which didn’t pass

In terms of states we might see legalize soon, its good to remember that there were a few failed ballot measures in last year’s election. Simply getting the ballot measure approved means getting signatures and support, and this doesn’t usually happen if people are uniformly against something. So, we should continue to watch Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota. South Dakota actually did pass a ballot measure in 2020, which was taken away by the governor and courts. Why it didn’t pass this past November is certainly a head-scratcher; but it does seem the trajectory in the state is for legal weed.

Then, there’s Oklahoma. That state collected enough signatures for a ballot measure, but was then refused the ballot based on unrelated technical issues. Plus, Hawaii, which passed numerous cannabis reform bills in the last few years, just to have them all vetoed by Governor David Ige. In fact, many initiatives lose steam early on because its understood he won’t let them through. Much like Carney, however, Ige did let a decriminalization measure pass in 2019, without a signature. Ige left office at the tail end of last year. And the state is currently working on new legislative measures.

Ohio, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, are all passing around legislation for adult-use markets; or have recently, with expectation of new initiatives. Florida is working on a ballot measure for 2024; and even states not ready for adult-use markets, like Nebraska, are at the very least, looking to legalize medical cannabis officially. Texas, also has been making some interesting moves of late on the medical cannabis front, with a possible full medical legalization on the horizon.


Once the bill is signed, and it should be, Minnesota will officially be the 23rd state to legalize adult-use cannabis. Considering this count includes California, New York, and Illinois, with these 23 states, at least half the population will live in weed legal places.

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Danger of Marijuana Use While Pregnant… Or a Smear Campaign?

Smear campaigns are all around, and can usually be identified by their unbacked arguments, and lacking information. Such is the case with the study I’ll go over today on whether marijuana causes issues if used while pregnant. What does the study say, what is it leaving out, and what does this mean? You can form your own opinion in the end.

This article is the specific opinion of the writer in response to a published research report on the dangers of marijuana use while pregnant.

The study on the dangers of marijuana use for pregnant women

The study in question was recently published, and is called The impact of timing of in utero marijuana exposure on fetal growth. According to the study investigators, the purpose of the study was “To examine whether timing of in utero marijuana exposure independently and negatively impacts fetal growth, and if these effects are global or specific to certain growth parameters.”

The study setup consisted of two groups, one with marijuana users (‘Marijuana Only’) and one for non-users (‘Control Group’) in which the non-use was verified with a drug test. The data collection for the study was not direct, with all data coming from investigation of electronic medical records. This means the investigators had no ability to set their own parameters or controls for collection. All the participants were pregnant and receiving care at an academic hospital (unnamed). All participants were 17 and above, and had a single birth within the time frame of 2016-2020.

The women chosen had their medical information reviewed to look for information on substance use during their pregnancies. Nothing was asked directly of the women by study investigators. Women were not included if they didn’t provide substance use information, or if they had documented alcohol issues or issues with other hard drugs.

Marijuana or smoke more likely to cause issues when pregnant

In order to get classified into the ‘Marijuana Only’ group, an expectant mother said they used marijuana during pregnancy, or had a positive marijuana test during pregnancy. Most women had a urine drug test upon beginning care. 82% had a drug screen in the interim period, 90% had one at delivery, and 78% had newborn cord blood tested.

The women in the ‘Marijuana Only’ group denied use of other substances then marijuana, including tobacco, electronic cigarettes, alcohol, and other illicit drugs. All testing during labor was negative for anything except marijuana. None of the chosen participants had current prescriptions for opioids, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates. The only difference between the ‘Marijuana Only’ group and the ‘Control Group’, was the presence of marijuana. 109 women ended up in the ‘Marijuana Only’ group, and 171 in the ‘Control Group.’

Main findings of the study

According to the study investigators, there was a significant decrease in the weight of newborn babies when the mother used marijuana in just the first trimester, or during the whole pregnancy. They also found significant decreases in the circumference of the babies’ heads when the babies were exposed to marijuana in the first or second trimester, or throughout the pregnancy. They did not find any difference between the user group and the non-user group in terms of the length of the babies.

According to the researchers, “Timing of marijuana exposure appears to play a key role in specific fetal growth deficits, with exposure throughout gestation most detrimental.” They go on to say that even just using in the first trimester can affect birth weight. However, they do stipulate, that the lack of information on the timing of use, and amount used, make it difficult to judge this. Some women, for example, only smoked marijuana when first pregnant, and no questions were asked about amount or frequency of use.

They also drew other conclusions, like that mothers in the ‘Marijuana Only’ group were generally younger, more often single, usually not beyond a high-school education, and more often than the ‘Control Group’ women, covered by Medicaid. They also pointed out that the ‘Marijuana Only’ group gained more weight than the ‘Control Group’ while pregnant.

In the discussion, they sum up by saying “The results of this study support the hypothesis that marijuana use throughout pregnancy, compared to use only early in pregnancy, has the greatest impact on fetal growth, with both newborn weight and head circumference impacted.”

Smoking and low birth weight
Smoking and low birth weight

Were the women asked if they smoked the weed?

The investigators did say they had some limitations in the study. They list things such as the limited sample size, possibly not knowing if a woman was using some other drug within the overall pregnancy time period; human error; the ability to generalize to the population at large; and the lack of information on the amounts of marijuana used, and timing of use, by different participants. This last point is already a pretty big thing to leave out. Smoking a couple joints during a pregnancy, and smoking five times a day, are wildly different.

But the bigger omission is the deadlier one for a piece of research like this. Something that the researchers failed to mention, whether they had data on it or not. In fact, its the most important factor to consider. And it was absolutely, 100% disregarded as if not important. Not even mentioned once. The researchers never considered how the marijuana was consumed, and most importantly, if it was smoked.

All of these things the investigators relate in the study, are known side-effects of smoking when pregnant. And I don’t mean cigarettes specifically. Smoking is the act of lighting something on fire and breathing it in. And though we’re often taught to think of that solely in the context of cigarettes, this is not true at all.

Smoke inhalation is the breathing in of any smoke, whether from a house fire, a wildfire, plastic burning, or if a person smokes something like cigarettes or weed. All of this is smoke inhalation, and all smoke inhalation is detrimental. Although having said that, breathing in burning plastic will likely land you in emergency care before smoking a cigarette; so there are degrees.

If all – or the majority – of the women were smoking it (and this is highly likely based on the dates and that smoking is still the most popular form of use), then these results are literally 100% meaningless. This is an entire study that backs up the damage of smoke on a fetus, not of marijuana use. And while this isn’t to say that marijuana can’t have a bad effect for a pregnant women, it just means this study did nothing to back up that idea.

Smoke inhalation damage to fetuses

The reality of life, however unfortunate it is, is that the powers that be think you’re dumb. They think you’re so dumb, that they dumb down information either because they think you can’t understand it, or want you to think in a specific way. And because of this, if you look up ‘smoke damage to fetus,’ nearly all results will be geared toward smoking cigarettes. Here, however, is a study talking about general smoke damage to fetuses.

Woman smoking while pregnant
Woman smoking while pregnant

In reality, any information on smoke inhalation makes it clear this is not specifically about cigarettes. So once we apply the idea of smoke inhalation to all smoking, smoking marijuana is included as well. In this context, smoking anything should be accounted for; and it’s a massive, horrible failure for researchers to release something like this, with no mention of that.

For anyone confused on the matter, I suggest acquainting yourself with what ‘smoke inhalation’ means. This is not a controversial definition. According to WedMD, “Smoke inhalation occurs when you breathe in the products of combustion during a fire.”

Then ask yourself, what smoking is. Does it involve lighting something on fire and inhaling? Sure does! Its a fire from which smoke is repeatedly going directly into your lungs. And that’s the byproducts of combustion, directly inhaled, over and over. The exact definition of smoke inhalation. What’s one of the biggest issues with the main source of smoke inhalation while pregnant (cigarettes)? Low birth weight. In fact, here’s a study talking about the low birth weight that comes from exposure to wildfires in Brazil! It’s not just about cigarettes, guys. Smoke has been shown repeatedly to have this effect.

This study represents a concerning trend in the world of research, wherein researchers are so desperate to put something out, that they create links in information, and then hide what doesn’t go along with them. This is the second time I’ve seen this particular smear campaign of attaching marijuana to something negative, while not broaching the topic of smoking. In fact, in this example, the researchers were saying there was a link between marijuana and heart attacks, but they only used people who specifically smoked it, and didn’t once mention the issue of smoke inhalation as a possible cause.

As one last backing point to my argument, consider that the UK recently released news of a new program to get people to stop smoking by swapping cigarettes for vapes. That’s how much of a difference there is, even if that only refers to cigarettes. And what is one of their primary concerns in this? Getting pregnant women to switch to vaping first. How you ingest something is incredibly important, and its too bad that the researchers on this project didn’t understand this concept, or purposefully left it out (not sure which is worse).


I’m a writer, I don’t make laws or tell people what to do. However, my personal advice? If you’re pregnant, maybe stay away from any substances you don’t have to use. We don’t have an answer on everything, and sometimes the safest bet, is choosing the safest bet. Having said that, if you’re pregnant and trying to find answers about marijuana, best to find a better information source than this study.

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Positive Results From Study on Self-Treating with Psychedelics

The psychedelics market is getting wider, and actually goes way beyond psychedelics, to include many different hallucinogens. As more treatment options come out, so does the question of how effective self-treating with psychedelics is. A recent study sheds light on the benefits of getting high on your own.

Self-treating vs therapy sessions

First and foremost, when getting into self-treating with psychedelics, its good to know what we’re talking about. Psychedelics are a class of drugs under the heading of hallucinogens. And while there are tons of hallucinogens that aren’t directly called ‘hallucinogens’ (like Amanita mushrooms), there are three classes of hallucinogens, which are directly referred to as hallucinogens: psychedelics, dissociative (that’s ketamine), and deliriants (which include Benadryl).

Hallucinogens in general are drugs that cause the user to have a sensory experience that isn’t real, or is altered in how a person perceives it. Many different compounds from different drug classes, are considered hallucinogens, and this means that its not just psychedelics that cause people to hallucinate. In fact, when using the term ‘psychedelics,’ we only refer to LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT. Even MDMA is technically a psychostimulant, NOT a psychedelic.

If a person wants to use a psychedelic or hallucinogen for treatment, there are two ways to do it. One is with the help of a second person, generally in a therapeutic capacity; and one is by self-treating with the psychedelic, or other hallucinogen. The first includes some kind of setup process, with the help of a facilitator; and one is just about hoping to get a therapeutic response, but on one’s own.

Self-treating with psychedelics outcomes

There is no hard and fast answer to which is better. There does seem to be a massive value in psychedelic-assisted therapy for some, in that the therapist presiding can push a patient to cross limits, which might help with establishing new neural connections. But there are also drawbacks, like being in a less comfortable situation, and often one that feels ‘medical.’ Doing it oneself might be more relaxing, but comes with is own drawback that just because the drug is being used, doesn’t mean that a person’s brain gets pushed across boundaries. Different people require different things.

When done as drug-assisted therapy, its definitely a process. The patient and doctor must get acquainted. The patient must feel comfortable with the doctor, and the doctor must come to understand the ins and outs of what a patient is suffering from. All together this can mean several preliminary sessions, and several integration sessions after, wherein the doctor helps the patient examine and understand their experience.

With self-treating using psychedelics or other hallucinogens, these other steps are not involved, and the person simply takes the drug and has the experience. With no one to help them through, explain anything, or provide feedback. This might be perfectly fine for some, but could be a drawback to the treatment value, for others.

Recent study on self-treating with psychedelics

The first thing to understand about the study, is that the data collected for it, was not designed by the study investigators. They simply used existing data from the Global Drug Survey for 2020, which is available to the public. The investigators therefore had no way to control for anything outside of what was already collected; or to clarify any information, or interact with participants.

The new study is called Investigation of self-treatment with lysergic acid diethylamide and psilocybin mushrooms: Findings from the Global Drug Survey 2020 and was headed up by PhD student Emma Kopra, at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry. She, and the other researchers involved, were most interested in use of LSD and psilocybin for self-treatment of mental health issues.

Of the purpose of the analysis, Kopra explained, “Increasing publicity of psychedelic’s therapeutic potential is attracting growing numbers of people to ‘self-treat’ with these substances independently outside clinical settings. However, there is very little research on the patterns, outcomes, and safety of this type of use.”

Respondents answered questions on self-treating with psychedelics
Respondents answered questions on self-treating with psychedelics

The survey was taken in 2020, and 113,000 people completed it. Though 10,268 reported that they’d used psychedelics of some kind within the past year to treat a mental health issues, only 3,364 were included in the study. All had taken either LSD or psilocybin. Depression and anxiety were the most commonly treated issues, and respondents answered questions relevant to changes they noticed in themselves after their self-treating with the psychedelics in question. This included negative outcomes as well.

The study measured the responses to 17 different criteria for well-being with self-treating, as well as assessing psychiatric symptoms, social-emotional skills, health, and overall behaviors. Items were judged by a 7-point scale that went from -3 – +3; with -3 relating to negative outcomes, and +3 relating to positive outcomes. 0 was the middle point, which represented no change.

In terms of evaluating negative experiences, the respondents also answered a 10-part survey on negative results, if they had them. Only those that gave numerical values relating to a negative experience, answered this part. These questions came with four options: none, mild, moderate, and severe.

Results of study about self-treating with psychedelics

All 17 measures on average showed positive change, across the board. The 17 items: ‘Changes in my understanding of why I feel the way I do,’ ‘Changes in mood or reduced depression,’ ‘Changes in my understanding of my condition or how I relate to it,’ ‘Change in overall symptoms of your psychiatric condition,’ ‘Changes in productivity, motivation or confidence,’ ‘Changes in my tolerance towards others,’ ‘Changes in empathy, sociability and communication skills,’ ‘Changes in ability to control negative thoughts/persistent worryings,’ ‘Changes in self-identity,’ ‘Changes in life priorities,’ ‘Changes in feelings of frustration/anger,’ ‘Changes in energy, alertness and/or focus,’ ‘Changes in anxiety, including social anxiety,’ ‘Changes in my use of alcohol/other drugs,’ ‘Changes in sight, smell or hearing,’ ‘Changes in concentration/memory,’ ‘Changes in sleep.’

Of the respondents, 22.5% did experience a negative outcome. Whether the connection actually exists or not, investigators found links between “High intensity of psychedelic experience, seeking advice before treatment, treating with psilocybin mushrooms and treating post-traumatic stress disorder” as being associated with higher scores and better outcomes. On the other hand, younger participants with high intensity of experience, and self-treatment with LSD, were associated with a greater number of negative outcomes.

Though each individual had their own responses for each of the 17 categories, 94.6% scored a +2 or +3 on at least one item. These respondents also answered questions about duration of effects and onset times. The majority (64.3%) noticed the positive result within 24 hours, about 9.9% took about a week to see the result. 52.7% had positive results that lasted at least four weeks. 17.6% said their positive effects lasted more than six months.

Study investigators were interested in psilocybin mushroom and LSD experiences
Study investigators were interested in psilocybin mushroom and LSD experiences

In terms of negative effects, respondents only had to have one to answer the negative effects questionnaire. The majority who did, reported ‘Mental confusion, memory problems, or racing thoughts’ or ‘Feeling disconnected from the world around you.’ Lesser experienced issues were persistent worrying; unpredictable outcomes or bad interactions with other substances; bad mood or emotional regulation issues; worries about the come down, building tolerance, dependence, or creating addiction; more irrational fears; ongoing issues with perception; negative hallucinations; and bad health results.

The majority reported that the negative outcome happened within 24 hours, while 1/5 claimed it happened as much as a week or more later. The majority of these negative outcomes were gone within seven days. 27%, however, said they lasted for more than a month. 4.2% of respondents who had a negative response, sought emergency care; however, no deaths or long-term issues are associated with the study.


I am always a bit wary of studies like this that don’t seek to create their own test populations. And there are definitely some things to consider; like if the anxious responses were a part of someone’s existing anxiety, or actually related to the drug. Even so, this study does indicate that self-treating with psychedelics has a generally positive outcome for most who do it; and is a plausible answer for some. It does not in any way assume that psychedelic-assisted therapy won’t provide better results, or that psychedelics will help everyone.

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Basic Cannabis Economics

Basic cannabis economics. Wherever you find reefer madness, a poor grasp of basic cannabis economics is right behind it. For example, public health busybodies demand THC limits. As if adults choosing high-THC strains of cannabis will simply shift their demand to lower-THC strains once public health tells them what their preferences should be. Most, if not all, government workers lack an understanding of basic economics and, therefore, basic cannabis economics. So let’s clear up some misconceptions. First, let’s start with […]

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A Love Letter To The Mylar Bag

I get stoked every time I see a discarded weed bag on the sidewalk.

Okay yeah, litter is a bummer and the bags themselves aren’t great for the environment, but I can’t help it. Every time I walk past a mylar bag lying on the street I stop to check it out, kicking it around and flipping it over against the cracks in the sidewalk until I can see the art, the strain name, the branding, and every word of text. As cannabis and the cannabis community mesh further into the fabric of American life, the mylar bag has quickly become the artistic bellwether for the industry, pushing creativity, trends, and creating a lasting record of the culture akin to skateboard graphics, album covers, craft beer labels and countless other visual staples of counterculture scenes.

Existing both in concert and completely separate from the weed inside, graphic bags have hit all the early hallmarks of subculture evolution, creating a design language that extends past the cannabis community into its own distinct style of art complete with moral panic, bootleggers and copycats, regional intricacies, and iconic standouts. 

The intersection of commerce and counterculture is always contentious, no matter how niche, and while the artistic merits of each particular bag are certainly up to personal interpretation, it is already clear that graphic bags have reshaped the world of weed at damn near every level.

Evolving from RX labels scribbled with a strain name and stuck to black, silver, or plastic windowed bags in California’s pre-recreational medical market, as soon as cannabis sellers turned into cannabis companies the open space on the front of every bag became a billboard for branding and expression, setting strains and sellers apart on dispensary shelves and black market menus. 

Fueled by an influx of legalization laws, increased competition amongst distributors, a flood of flower, and tons of custom print shops and pre-printed bags a Google search away, graphic bags grew from the domain of top-shelf brands and exclusive suppliers to a ubiquitous facet of the regulated and unregulated markets. In 2020, with pack prices high, traditional businesses on hold, hustlers and smokers flush with extra pandemic unemployment funds put the bag game into overdrive, turning branded bud into a status symbol, with dye-cut shapes, holographic printing, and wilder subject matter – the more outlandish the bag, the more clout on social media, the faster it flies out of dispensaries and backpacks alike. 

Just like limited-edition Nikes and Supreme t-shirts, the exclusive aesthetics were immediately bootlegged, with overseas printers churning out cheap knockoffs of every popular brand and bag under the sun, turning downtown L.A. into Canal Street for trappers, with blocks of storefronts dedicated to fake packaging. It might piss off brand owners, but for the culture as a whole the bootleg obsession is a mark of legitimacy to be proud of. 

Outside the culture, cannabis bag art has become a convenient boogyman for prohibitionists, who argue that cartoon characters and bubble letters appeal to kids. Disregarding decades of rated R (or worse) animation holding a significant place in pop culture, a number of legal markets have sided with the prohibitionists on the limits of adult artistic expression, strictly restricting bag designs.

But if the past is any indicator, loud, newsworthy, and eventually unsuccessful protests against rap, metal, controversial movies back to Elvis’ hip shaking and countless other moral outrages aimed at saving kids from deviant art, the long-term odds are in our favor. Besides, you can’t ban cartoon art or bubble letters on the black market, no matter how sick of red eye Rick & Morty we all are.

Like the culture’s cousins in skateboarding, graffiti, and streetwear, the design language that dominates bag art from seshes to sidewalks is highly referential, drenched in parody, nostalgic, psychedelic, obsessed with local flavor, global ambitions, and luxury aspirations. 

Be it licensed collaborations with superstar athletes like Cookies’ Gary Payton and 33 by Backpack Boyz, a very unofficial dye-cut Supreme Air Force One sneaker by Shiest Bubz and The Smoker’s Club, a genre-defining run by Jokes Up culminating in the, um, unique, Coochie Runtz bag, hyper-local creations like Chopped Cheese by Buddy’s Bodega, all the way to dime bags printed with hastily photoshopped collages of The Joker, graphic bags are an amalgamation of every corner of cannabis culture, highbrow to lowbrow, political to patronizing, original to bootleg, calligraphy to cartoon and everywhere in between. At the end of the day, seeing a graphic weed bag on the sidewalk – an unavoidable happenstance walking through any American city these days – is saying the same thing – weed is here, weed is everywhere, and you’re gonna see it. 

Because bags can be designed and produced so quickly, mylar art is constantly rotating and reacting at the pace of our collective attention span, with print houses like Sticker Farmer dropping new bags memorializing every Academy Awards slap, viral challenge, and athlete, celebrity, or politician to be “turned into a pack,” all dropping days if not hours after the event itself. 

The evolution of bag graphics is still in its early stages, and if cannabis giants, small brands, and local trappers continue to put significant creative effort and funding into creating the next bag to set their strains apart, go viral on IG stories, and sell out on menus, weed bags are going to continue to solidify a place in the pantheon of modern art. 

I have high hopes, but for the medium to really stick, it is time to start giving respect to the artists and graphic designers behind the bags. Brands, start tagging the artists more frequently on posts, put a signature on the back of the bag, sponsor and host art shows. Smokers, if you like a bag seek out the artist, give them a follow on IG and see if they have any pieces for sale – anything you can do to continue pushing their art as a core facet of the industry and culture. 

The possibilities for bag art are endless going forward and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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Cannabis Sending Pregnant Women to Hospital: Study

Cannabis is sending twice as many pregnant “people” to the hospital, says a new study on cannabis use during pregnancy published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. (And yes, the study calls pregnant women “people” in an attempt to be “inclusive” by insulting women and rejecting biological facts.) The researchers looked at over 950,000 pregnancies between January 2015 and July 2021. They found the rate of ER and hospital visits related to cannabis use during pregnancy doubled. Ergo, legalization has […]

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Pot in the Pantry

Long gone are the days when cannabis edibles were limited simply to sweets like brownies or gummies. Brands like Potli are bringing cannabis into daily meal routines with infused kitchen pantry staples, making cannabis consumption more welcoming and accessible to consumers of all ages and experience levels.

Potli was co-founded by CEO Felicity Chen, along with her college roommate Christine Yi, with a goal to bring cannabis-infused ingredients into the kitchen. The company began with selling infused raw honey (the “Dream Honey” won first place in the CBD category at the 2021 Emerald Cup), followed by other unique cooking ingredients such as a cannabis-infused extra virgin olive oil, as well as a cannabis-infused sriracha (which also won first place at last year’s Emerald Cup in the Edibles/Savory category). More recently, the brand has begun an expansion of ready-to-eat products with its cannabis-infused shrimp chips as well (made with Potli’s infused olive oil), which won first place in the Edibles/Savory category at the Emerald Cup in 2022.

Potli products offer a fresh new way to use cannabis as a condiment. 

Courtesy Potli

From Pot to Potli

Chen, a Bay Area-native, met her Potli co-founder Christine Yi when they were randomly paired as roommates during their freshman year of college on the East Coast at Boston University. During that time, Chen recalls experimenting with cannabis in their dorm room, causing the hallways to smell strongly of herb. But ultimately, she discovered how cannabis helped her on a more personal level.

“I have always been someone that has been you know, a more anxious teen and going into my college years to someone that just had a lot of energy and didn’t really know how to calm my brain,” Chen says. “It just was something that was interesting to me and calmed me.”

After graduation, Chen returned to the Bay Area and Yi remained on the East Coast, and their transition from consumers to entrepreneurs began as they worked together to develop Potli.

Although Potli became a way to keep Chen and Yi connected remotely, it was also founded as a method to help treat Chen’s mother’s asthma and allergies. When Chen returned home, she discovered that her father had learned how to keep bees in order to harvest honey for her mom. 

Chen explains that her mom’s daily routine usually starts with honey and lemon. Raw honey can be added to a variety of different dishes, such as tea, oats, or smoothies, and contains beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Add cannabis into the mix, and it becomes even more useful as part of a healthy regimen.

Courtesy Potli

While Chen’s mother was not interested in smoking cannabis, adding it to her honey allowed her to partake in a format that she found more familiar and comfortable.

“I’m a second generation Chinese American, meaning that like, there’s no way my mom would ever smoke weed with me. That was just a given, right?” Chen says. “But she understood the benefits of cannabis. And all of its anti-inflammatory effects through the lens of ‘This is medicine.’ And so, medicine typically is consumed with edibles. And it’s also truly the healthiest way to consume cannabis, through an edible.”

One of Potli’s main goals is to create and promote food as medicine, a philosophy that has led the company to create its best-selling infused honey products. The company’s honey harvest operation includes anywhere between 30 to 50 hives, depending on the season (honeybees are more active in spring and summer). Currently, Potli sells different infused variations of infused raw honey, such as one that contains THC, CBD, and CBN, while another contains just CBD.

Cannabis as a Condiment

The company has continued to expand its line of pantry essentials to include other useful ingredients as well.

Potli’s Cannabis Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil is sourced from the same region that the company gets its cannabis—Lake County, California. Their olive oil comes from Campodonico Olive Farm, among a few other local olive farms, while their cannabis comes from Aster Farms, which is well-known in the region for its dedication to transparency and organic growing practices that produce high-quality sungrown cannabis flower.

Chen believes it’s crucial to promote and work with local producers in order to spotlight some of California’s agricultural products.

“That’s the reason why we create what we create, because our products are pretty much products that you can only find in California. And it is grown with such intention, and created with such care, and it tells a story about all of these different farmers that make it and are behind it,” Chen says.

Following the success of Potli’s cannabis-infused extra virgin olive oil, its cannabis-infused sriracha took the stage, offering a spicy kick to a variety of meals.

Between offering infused honey, olive oil, and sriracha, Potli already covers a wide base for experimentation.

Courtesy Potli

“But these are the types of things that [you] really can make any recipe with it, right? And that’s what I love, is that you can make a salad dressing to like, fried chicken, and you can use every single ingredient and make wildly different products. You can make a soup that’s really Chinese style, so like [with] tofu. So all of these things are just really, really different,” Chen says.

Chen explains that she personally enjoys experimenting with different cannabis-infused dishes in the evenings.

“I love making food. That’s also one of my ways that I de-stress,” Chen explains. “And part of that journey is also making food with Potli goods that get me high, and then I have the best sleep ever.”

In the past, Potli carried infused chili oil and apple cider vinegar products as well. Chen shared that there are plans to re-release these products soon. Chen also hinted at a new, exciting product coming in the near future. While she couldn’t divulge the details just yet, she explains that it’s something she’s confident that the Potli community is going to love.

In the meantime, Potli’s dedication to creating versatile food items will continue to lead the way in infused home cooking and healthy eating.

“We really think that through edibles and through things that you eat, health is just something that is based on what you eat. And, you know, that’s the age-old adage,” Chen says. “And that’s really what the company’s main values are, is that we’re correcting people’s health and helping people feel better through the foods that they eat.”

This article was originally published in the November 2022 issue of High Times Magazine.

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