New Trend of Vape Sensors in Hotels

At MJBizCon this year, we got to see what the biggest trends were, from growing equipment, to rolling papers, to vapes, to branding. But one big trend wasn’t actually showcased at the convention, (though some going to it were subjected to it). The new trend of smoke and vape sensors in hotels, which require a sign off by the guest. Here’s what you need to know.

Ew, I can smell your smoke!

Smoke detectors in hotels are hardly new, and nor are the charges that guests must pay when those detectors pick up unwanted smoke. If you’re in a non-smoking room, you can pretty much expect that if the hotel has its stuff together, that you’re going to pay out for breaking the rules. Sure, some probably use the detectors as a way to dissuade people from smoking, while not performing the upkeep to make them actually useful, but many will use their ability to collect fines for illegal smoking.


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The main reason given, is that it disrupts other guests, and this does hold some value. It’s not fun to pay out for a hotel room and not be able to get away from the cigarette smoke from the room next door. If a hotel is offering guests a smoke-free stay, then the quality of air matters if they want to be reviewed well. Smoke gets everywhere. It doesn’t like to stay in the room where it originates, and so all of this really does make sense.

Plus, for a hotel, it’s an easy and valid way to make some extra cash. All they have to do is lay out the rules, and all you have to do is break them for the hotel to collect. While it sounds like it shouldn’t be an issue, since smokers can simply take smoking rooms, this isn’t always how it works out. Sometimes available smoking rooms are full in a hotel, or priced outside of a budget. Sometimes a person doesn’t intend to smoke, but changes their mind, or has a guest over who lights up. There are tons of scenarios by which a person likely to smoke, ends up in a non-smoking room.

Smoke and vape sensors

And realistically, the extra charges make sense. Not only is someone else’s cigarette smoke a nuisance, but it’s also a health concern. Beyond the general dangers of secondhand smoke, which many non-smokers would prefer not to be subjected to, there are tons of issues, from asthma to bronchitis to cancer that require no smoke be around. People often complain about baseless things, but in my opinion, dealing with the detriments of someone else’ bad habit, in a paid-for place like a hotel, shouldn’t have to happen, and these rules are on the up and up.

Hey, I can smell your vapor too?

But vaping? While I’ve heard complaints over being bothered by smoke, and even had them myself, I’ve yet to hear someone complaining about the vapor from the room next door. In fact, that’s one of the benefits of vaping, it doesn’t produce a smoke. Sure, it doesn’t mean someone not vaping wants to smell the often sickly sweet chemically smell of a vape, but I have yet to hear of it being bothersome enough in a place like a hotel, for anyone to complain.

It also, whether mildly irritating when blown directly in the face, or not, doesn’t come with the same health detractions. I’m not saying that the chemicals making up that sickly sweet smell are good for anyone – they’re probably not, but they also haven’t been fingered with provoking the same damage as smoke, in either the vaper, or the secondhand vaper. Mildly irritating or not, it doesn’t come with that death toll, making it not as much of an actual medical issue.

It also doesn’t get into furniture, or make your hands and hair smell. And it doesn’t burn holes in anything or require fire. I get why hotels don’t want smoking in non-smoking rooms. Beyond it bothering paying customers, it can cause damage to property as well, and make for hard-to-get-rid-of smoke odors. None of this applies to vaping, and a hotel would be hard-pressed to know if a vaper just left a room.

For a place like a hotel, vaping is a clearly better option than smoking. It means less issues with unapproving guests, and less damage to property. Yet in a new play to charge even more fines, hotels are now using special vape sensors that pick up not just cigarette smoke, but according to the hotels, vape vaper as well. And they’re making guests sign off on having these smoke and vape sensors in the rooms.

My experience

I’ve stayed in plenty of non-smoking rooms with smoke detectors in my life. Not until my most recent trip to Vegas did I stay in a place with vape senors as well, and which made me sign off on having these sensors in the room. The sensors that the hotel I stayed at are from the company Noise Aware, and according to the statement by the hotel via my email confirmation:

Hotel policy
Hotel policy

“Smoking tobacco, pipes, vapes, e-cigarets is strictly prohibited in nonsmoking rooms. State law prohibits use of marijuana on property.” And that, “NoiseAware is a smart device that allows hotel management to respond to smoking events without disrupting your stay. You hereby agree and consent to the use of such sensor in your room and acknowledge and agree that it is 100% privacy compliant and required by the hotel.”

So automatically, the hotel is lumping in vaping with smoking, but more questionably, its using state law as a backing, when in reality, Nevada is a weed legal state. The hotel doesn’t have to ban it by law. So long as the cannabis is not smoked in public, it shouldn’t legally be an issue in a non-governmental building, which the hotel certainly is. All that logic aside, what I had to sign, said that “By acknowledging the foregoing, you agree to waive any future claims related to the presence of the sensor in a room you may book. Tampering with the sensor is strictly prohibited.”

Not only did this show up in my email, but I signed a sheet upon check-in with a $250 fine attached, and had a card in my room to remind me of this the entire time. I cannot speak to how useful the vape senors are for their stated purpose. I was lucky enough to have a Cannabolish spray from the convention, which I used when vaping in my room, and I was never charged a fee.

While I cannot say whether this is because the product worked well, or the vape sensors are not as awesome as described, I can say that I wasn’t charged anything extra by the hotel. I should also mention that one night I had guests in the room, where blunts were smoked, with just the Cannabolish spray for cover. Perhaps this is really just a ringing endorsement of the Cannabolish product.

What are these sensors?

So, what are these newfangled smoke and vape sensors? And are they really that great that they can pick up vape smoke? A look at NoiseAware’s site, and smoking isn’t a part of it at all. It’s quite possible that the same company did provide the hotel some kind of smoking/vaping sensor, but if so, it doesn’t have information for this product or service on its site. The product seems generally geared toward making sure there isn’t overcrowding or partying in rooms.

However, a wider look on the internet at large shows there is absolutely a market for products making the claim of picking up vape vaper. One company, Halo, says it “provides both a real-time Air Quality and Health Index that sends alerts when either index falls into danger zones.” In fact, it claims to pick up “Marijuana (THC) • Vape • Masking.” It claims to do so by “monitoring Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Particulate concentrations, Humidity, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the air.”

Vape in hotel room
Vape in hotel room

Another company, Forensic Detectors, claims to have the best vape-detection technology, and that a “PM2.5 detector is an excellent low cost detector in an indoor environment to confirm if vapers or e-cigarettes were used.” It continue that “A sensitive PM2.5 detector can be considered a vaping, vaper, or e-cigarette detector. PM2.5 detectors can be used by hotel staff, landlords, or even for property inspections to confirm vaping or e-cigarette use.”

Under its pros, the company lists, “1) Vape and e-cigarette vapor detectors (PM2.5) are relatively low cost, 2) Many detectors that are able to detect the use of e-cigarettes or vaping can also detect the presence of cannabis and weed smoke, and 3) PM2.5 detectors can help landlords and hotel owners solve problems associated with vaping and e-cigarette use.” However in cons, it goes onto say that “Limited product options exists to detect vaping and e-cigarette vapor”, which is odd considering how many options there are online. Unless it means to say that most (or all) don’t actually do this.

Conclusion

The jury is out on whether these new age smoke and vape detectors in hotels can actually pick up vape vapor with their sensors. But it is a growing trend to use them, and for anyone who isn’t sure of their accuracy, and doesn’t want to pay a fine… best to get the smoking room. Or just go outside if you’re unsure. As nearly all info out on these technologies comes directly from the companies, it’s hard to know the quality of what they’re peddling. My guess? They probably don’t work that well, though I expect this technology will improve with time.

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MJBizCon: Still No THC, Still Alcohol Sales

The biggest cannabis business convention happened in November, and it gave us some great insights into the current trends in the world of weed. It also emphasized where there is still some funky discombobulation in cannabis laws. Once again at 2022’s MJBizcon, there was still no THC on the floor, while alcohol was still openly sold.

Why it matters – reason #1 – it’s literally a convention for weed

There are three main reasons why it matters that MJBizCon didn’t allow THC, but did allow alcohol. The first is basic logic. What’s the point of going to a convention, where you can’t sample real products? And therefore, what’s the point of being an exhibitor, if you can’t really get consumers, or potential business partners, to really know what you’re making. This doesn’t apply to every company, or every part of the industry, but it applies to many.

This is a business convention that revolves around making consumer products in some form, and as a business that revolves around THC, not having that main ingredient, means making it difficult for a lot of companies.


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Can you imagine going to a wine festival, or a whiskey festival, or a cheese festival, and being told that you couldn’t try any of the respective products. Imagine a wine festival with fake wine, or a cheese festival where you could eat the product, but without that specific ingredient. Whether you’re a consumer, or looking to make business connections, not getting a good idea of a product, stymies the entire process.

Functionally, as a convention about weed, in a state where weed is legal for recreational use, it becomes absurd that actual weed products, couldn’t be sampled or sold. As in, the entire purpose for many people to be there, was hindered by not getting a good idea of what the specific offering was. And that also meant ruling out a lot of companies from even showing, as not being able to preview their actual products, would make attending such a convention unnecessary.

Plenty of what was there didn’t technically need weed. Apparatus for mass growing or packaging, branding companies, insurance… But even those selling rolling papers or vapes had no way for their specific products to be tested, and therefore separated in any way from everything on either side. Realistically, when having a convention for something, its best to have that something there. In places without legalization measures its more understandable when this doesn’t happen, but in Las Vegas…?

Cannabis convention with no THC

Why it matters – reason #2 – it means weed is treated as more dangerous than alcohol

Maybe the bigger reason it matters that MJBizCon said no to THC, and yes to alcohol, is simply in the comparison it makes to a much more dangerous drug; which was openly sold and used, when weed products couldn’t be. Yup, I’m talking about alcohol. According to the CDC, in the US alone, alcohol kills about 140,000 people a year, while also being said to take as many as 26 years off a person’s life. While most of these deaths are not direct, they still make alcohol the #2 death-toll drug behind smoking.

Considering there is no death toll associated with cannabis, its odd that cannabis regulation often makes it harder to get to, than it is to get to the much more deadly alcohol. While real cannabis (and anything related to THC) was not allowed on the floor of MJBizCon, alcohol was openly sold and drank, sometimes right next to stalls where cannabis products were swapped out for fake plant material.

And while so much of the business industry focused on packaging (specifically child-proof packaging), a can or bottle of beer is still just as easy to open as a can of soda, and high proof alcohol requires nothing more than twisting a cap.

If you didn’t know better, and you saw this scene, you’d probably think cannabis actually is dangerous. And certainly way more dangerous than alcohol. In a scenario like this, without knowing more, it would appear that cannabis proposes incredible danger, while alcohol does not. Let’s remember, no one lives at that convention center, and everyone had to drive in if they didn’t get a ride, meaning plenty of people having drinks and driving back out. Seems like the convention organizers, and the state in general, were fine with that, but not with a person smoking a joint.

No THC, yes alcohol
No THC, yes alcohol

Why it matters – reason #3 – it means inconsistency and misunderstanding in cannabis regulation

Let’s be honest, I complained about this last year. This problem has existed for as long as the legal weed industry has been around. And pretty much every place with a legalization, follows these same crazy guidelines, wherein cannabis use must follow weirdly strict regulation, whereas alcohol, doesn’t. From where its sold, to who can use it, to where its legal to use. All these favor alcohol consumption over cannabis consumption, yet alcohol has only medical detractions, while cannabis is also used as a medicine.

That’s right, it’s not just that its consistently shown to be way less dangerous than alcohol for recreational use (like, not even in the same category), but it also helms a massive and growing world of medical use. People depend on it to live. We have study after study talking of the benefits for both medical issues, and general health, and yet its still easier to buy and use alcohol.

How long does it take for logic to set in? Why haven’t these laws been updated at all in a place like Nevada that has recreational use? And for that matter, how is it still federally illegal, while alcohol is one of the most ubiquitous drugs around? How can we ever expect this industry to function better, when we can’t even get regulators to regulate the industry honestly? It’s been years since many states passed measures, yet this inconsistency in regulation, never seems to go away. And when the biggest business convention, MJBizCon, says no to THC, while allowing alcohol, we know there really is a problem.

Why it REALLY matters at MJBizCon

This harks back to the first reason, but its an incredibly important point to make. MJBizCon is for the promotion of the weed industry, and all the businesses therein. It’s not a school, or a playground, or a bingo game. It’s a convention set up by industry insiders to help empower those in the industry by setting up a way for them to make new connections, and learn more about the industry.

In that sense, MJBizCon comes to represent the industry. And it’s not put on by parent groups, or teachers, or politicians. It’s put on by a weed-centered publication, and weed-centered businesses. Which makes me wonder how these proponents of weed, are okay with having this scenario. Why didn’t it come up as a major point of conversation?

Why didn’t we all sign a petition to get things to change? Why are we so complacent with having logic ignored in the face of nonsensical federal law? Am I the only person it occurs to that this inconsistency, when not focused on and fixed, just leads to more future inconsistencies?

Inconsistent cannabis regulation
Inconsistent cannabis regulation

It’s important for those within the industry, to stand up for it appropriately. That this issue has never been brought up at the convention, is sad to me. That there seems to still be a misunderstanding about these dangers in government regulation and statements, is sad to me. It means organizers are more interested in making a buck off alcohol sales, than working to make sure the public at their events is understanding of the regulation issue.

As long as nonsensical laws aren’t challenged, it means they’ll just continue on. Weed prices might have gone down in some places despite ridiculously high taxes, but that has more to do with overproduction driving down prices, than a realization that such heavy taxation, particularly sin taxes, make the industry less appealing than the black market. In the case of alcohol vs weed, we already have plenty showing us the danger of one, and the benefits of the other, yet the lack of consistent regulation, is constantly ignored, even though it too, hurts the industry.

Conclusion

MJBizCon was a great time, but it still represents through its barring of THC and allowance of alcohol sales, that the weed industry is very unevenly regulated, especially compared to the alcohol industry. Will this ever change in the future? We’ll have to wait and see.

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What Is the Role of an API in Pharmaceutical Medicine?

Everything these days is an acronym, and sometimes the world of acronyms gets confusing. In fact, sometimes the very same letters, are used for more than one acronym, and it requires knowing what you’re dealing with, to know the meaning. One of the terms that shows up a lot is API, which relates to pharmaceutical medicine, (as well as computing).

What is an API in pharmaceutical medicine?

The first time I heard this term, I immediately thought of the computing definition: ‘application programming interface.’ It gets used a lot in the world of tech, and it was the main place I’d heard it. Until it came up in a more medical way. The letters API have a totally different definition when speaking of pharmaceutical medicine.

An API in pharmaceutical medicine, translates to ‘active pharmaceutical ingredient.’ Which, of course, is a wildly different concept from its computing counterpart. What does this actually mean? An active pharmaceutical ingredient is “the biologically active component of a drug product (tablet, capsule, cream, injectable) that produces the intended effects.” These can be ingredients in drugs for a number of ailments, including the treatment of issues: “pertaining to oncology, cardiology, CNS and neurology, orthopaedic, pulmonology, gastroenterology, nephrology, ophthalmology, and endocrinology.”

So, basically, they’re just ingredients. Or, rather, active ingredients. Think about when you read the label to a medication, and it lists both active and inactive ingredients. Sometimes you might wonder about the difference. Inactive ingredients are often related to keeping a tablet held together, or making sure a drug doesn’t spoil. Sometimes they’re for coloring, or consistency, or texture. But they’re not for therapeutic use.


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The active components are the ingredients that do whatever it is that the drug is supposed to do. And much like baking in a kitchen, both active and inactive ingredients are required. If you’re baking a chocolate cake, perhaps the chocolate could be seen as the active ingredient, along with eggs and flower. But you also need baking soda to make things rise. This might not add to the flavor of the cake, but its still important.

However, you might spend more time, making sure you have the right chocolate. Should you use super sweet chocolate chips, bitter chocolate, chocolate powder? This chocolate is equivalent to an API in pharmaceutical medicine…albeit an admittedly strange analogy.

APIs allow for medications to be made in specific strengths, and in desired concentrations. They also require being made in conjunction with good manufacturing practices, and up to codes, as they relate to pharmaceutical medicine, which is very, very precise.

Think of every bottle of Tylenol you buy, over years and years of time, and how every pill is exactly the same. Since APIs are often made by third parties, they also allow for the white-labeling of pharmaceutical ingredients. Several different companies can buy from the same API provider, and then make their own labeled medications with the ingredients.

Where does an API come from?

Much like anything else, whether synthetically or naturally made, An API used in pharmaceutical medicine, comes from some kind of raw material. When dealing with the idea of an herbal supplement, let’s say a mint capsule, the API is the mint, and in this case it probably comes directly from a mint plant. Many APIs do come from plant or animal origins. A great example of this today, is the medical cannabis industry, and the API’s used to make cannabis medications.

In terms of the official names of these ingredients, the US uses generic names assigned by the United States Adopted Names (USAN) program, which works in conjunction with the American Medical Association, the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, and the American Pharmacists Association. The legal name of the drug that the FDA recognizes, is given by the USAN.

Where do APIs come from for pharma medicine

In terms of a broader global scale, the World Health Organization also recognizes API ingredients, as per International Nonproprietary Names (INN). Though they are often the same between the US and the WHO, they sometimes do differ. One example is Tylenol. The API is acetaminophen in the US, but referred to as paracetamol by WHO.

The raw materials are used primarily by pharmaceutical companies in their home labs to create their patented formulations. However, to cut costs, the manufacture of these APIs is often now outsourced, leading to a myriad of issues related to quality and regulation. It is now common for APIs to come from Asia, mainly India and China.

Who are the biggest providers of APIs? Some of the bigger names are TEVA Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Reddy’s, Pfizer, Novartis, Sanofi, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Bristol-Meyers Squibb. These companies generally specialize in different APIs. In terms of where the raw materials come from, that can vary hugely. Sometimes from chemical product manufacturers, and sometimes from growing fields. Raw materials are converted to APIs through different chemical processing techniques. When in the process of a raw material becoming an API, its called an ‘intermediate’.

Raw materials for an API in pharmaceutical medicine

While this isn’t the most specific of answers, the raw materials for APIs are gathered through raw material providers. Yeah, I know, it almost sounds like I’m trying to be evasive. I promise, I’m not. But the truth is that raw materials can come from one of hundreds or thousands of providers depending on what they actually are. Think of all the chemical companies out there, and all the different kinds of ingredients in life. And then think of how many medications there are, and how different.

A general process, at least according to Teva-API, is that once a medicine is approved, a team then goes out looking for all the correct chemical companies to get the component raw material parts. It comes down to the company to judge the reliability of a source. Sometimes to ensure no issues in sourcing, a company like Teva will require two sources for each material. The R&D team that created the medication, essentially gives a list of the necessary raw materials to the team responsible for collection, and then the search into the correct chemical companies begins.

And to be honest…there isn’t a lot of better or more specific information out there. Most of the information that is available comes from companies selling APIs, or pharmaceuticals, and none of them really get into the nitty gritty of exactly where their chemical components are sourced as raw materials.

Sourcing raw materials for APIs
Sourcing raw materials for APIs

I guess at this point its fair to imagine that sourcing likely involves things like mining for the minerals that make up the periodic table of elements, which are used to produce all inorganic materials. As well as whatever biologically sourced ingredients come from different plant and animal sources.

Right now, the API industry in pharmaceutical medicine is quite big. API-producing companies generally produce powder versions and sell in bulk to pharma companies. Their production and sale comprises a multi-billion dollar industry that white-labels the ingredients of pharmaceutical medications.

And while the idea of APIs might be a bit confusing when reading about them in terms of business, the reality in the end, is that the pharma ingredient market is the same as nearly all others. One company takes stuff out of the ground somehow, sells it to another company which uses it to make a specific chemical compound, which sells it to another company which uses that compound in a product. Just like nearly every product made; whether food, a toy, equipment, or whatever else.

Conclusion

APIs in pharmaceutical medicine represent just another form of white-labeling. Of course in this case, the products white-labelled are the ingredients in your pharmaceutical medications. Perhaps we as the public should know more about the process and the safety requirements that do – or don’t – exist. But as in most parts of life, the business of these ingredients and how they move, stays largely out of the public eye. Much like nearly every other big business consumer industry.

Kind of makes those herbal remedies that can tell you exactly what’s inside, and exactly what field the ingredients were sourced from, nice in comparison.

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What Happens if you take these Drugs at the Qatar World Cup?

The world cup has begun, and instead of all the focus being on the incredible football and the tournament itself, it is still tarnished by the strict law differences in Qatar. Thousands of fans from all over the globe have headed to the Gulf country to support their teams, knowing full well that this may be unlike any tournament experienced before. Essentially all recreational substances are banned in Qatar, with very strict punishment for those who ignore the rules.

Even alcohol has harsh restrictions. With human rights violations and bans on same sex marriage a massive problem in Qatar, a limitation on drug use seems like a walk in the park. But, let’s see what would actually happen if you were caught taking specific substances within the world cup host nation. 

Qatar Host Nation

Qatar is a small gulf country – with a population lower than 3 million – that sits on the Arab peninsula. Made up of beaches and deserts, this middle eastern nation once just contained fishing villages for traders going between India and China to visit. After the first world war Britain ruled over Qatar, until they gained independence in 1971. Nowadays, the country is hugely wealthy due to their access to vital resources – these include oil and natural gas. In fact, Qatar has the third largest natural gas collection in the world. This is after Iran and Russia. To put this into perspective, 14% of the people living in Qatar are millionaires. Due to such a small population, the nation is considered one of the wealthiest in the world per person. It is believed that Qatar owns more property in the capital of England – London – than even the royal family. 

Nonetheless, with a lack of football culture, when the decision was made to allow Qatar to host the 2022 world cup, many were left confused. It seemed evident that the usually corrupt Fifa had yet again been swayed by the powerful money of a rich nation. The Guardian writes:

“In the years since, 16 of 22 voting exco members present in that hall have been implicated in or investigated over some form of alleged corruption or bad practice… In 2019 there were allegations Fifa had benefited from a $400m rights deal with Al Jazeera, Qatar’s state TV station, offered just 21 days before the bid decision, with an extra $100m top-up should Qatar succeed.”

Problems

But ultimately it would be the people, as usual, who would suffer. Qatar is a tiny nation and they were left with the task of spending 220 billion dollars to create the world cup infrastructure that was needed in a very short amount of time. How did they find the workforce to do this? Migrant workers coming from nations like India and Nepal were paid abominably low amounts of money in order to help build up this flawed tournament. It is believed that 6600 of these workers have already died due to unsafe conditions and overworking. But these aren’t the only problems that have arisen. Qatar’s laws on women’s rights and same sex marriage are something from the stone ages, with women being under guardianship law and any same sex sexual activity being deemed illegal. Human Dignity Trust writes:

“Human Rights Watch reported that security forces have been arbitrarily arresting LGBT people and subjecting them to ill-treatment in detention in the country… Preventive Security Department officers detained them in an underground prison in Al Dafneh, Doha, where they were verbally harassed and subjected to physical abuse, ranging from slapping, to kicking and punching until they bled.”

Needless to say, it seems that this world cup is surrounded by tarnishing controversy. In essence, it probably should not have happened this way and Fifa’s name will – hopefully – be deeply damaged. But alongside all this are other issues that are, perhaps less extreme, but have also caused disruption. Qatar’s strict substance laws are causing problems for those who are used to far more leniency. 


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Drug Laws in Qatar

According to the government website, Qatar has 0 tolerance for drug-related offences. This doesn’t seem to matter if you are a tourist or not. If you’re discovered using, trafficking, smuggling or possessing any substances from a long list, you are likely to face severe punishment. But how severe? We’re going to go through some of the most common recreational substances that people may want to take during the world cup, and see how risky it really is. Let’s go. 

Hard Recreational Drugs

When it comes to hard recreational drugs, Qatar seems to have a blanket decision on all of them. Whether it’s heroin, MDMA, ketamine, cocaine or whatever – the laws are extremely strict. If found in possession of any of these substances, fines could go up to $50,000. But if anyone is found trafficking hard drugs then the death penalty is also possible. Therefore, if there are any drug dealers out there who are considering Qatar an open market ready to be filled, we would advise to certainly reconsider.

There are no exceptions made for foreign nationals and the embassies of these nations have very little power to interject, especially when it comes to drug laws. If there’s one place you want to avoid taking harder substances, it is Qatar. There is evidence that the country is moving away from their 0-tolerance approach however, but nothing has yet officially changed. The Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics has said:

​​“Qatar has moved away from treating drug addiction merely as a criminal matter and is recognising it as a health and social challenge and a human rights issue. The right to health includes the right to obtain health services without fear of punishment. ”

The issue is, with a population made up of the wealthy, it is hard for those below to make the case for a change in drug laws. The culture is not yet there like it is with Europe, the US and other areas of the world. 

Prescription Medicine 

If you’re hoping that prescription medicine may be easier to get through border control than you are wrong. You will need a very exact letter from your doctor for any substances. This needs to include the exact amount that you are allowed, the reason why and any other information. The most they will allow you to bring in is for a 30 day period. Qatar has also banned the use of tranquillisers, antidepressants and certain sleeping pills. If you are hoping to carry these substances in your hand luggage, it is probably a good idea to speak to your embassy in Qatar just to ensure the specific rules.

Otherwise, you may face anything from confiscation, a fine, or even deportation. Over the last few weeks, Qatar customs officers have stopped around 2000 opiate pills from coming into the country. These passengers are awaiting their court cases. With prescription medicine, ensure you have all the backup documents you need. Don’t go bringing some random valium or Xanax without a note. 

Cannabis

Cannabis is treated as harshly as any other drug in Qatar. Despite hashish being known to be world-class in that section of the world, the cultivation, sale and possession of weed is completely illegal. In fact, there was a British tourist who was found with a cannabis grinder in his luggage in 2019 who faced years in a Qatari prison. He was able to leave the country but they attempted to extradite him back when he was visiting Greece. Fortunately, he won his case. This is an example of the kinds of harsh realities that can be faced if found with even just cannabis accessories. 

Alcohol

In Qatar, the legal age of alcohol consumption is 21. Of course for Muslims, who make up a large amount of the Qatari population, it is illegal. The ban on alcohol in Qatar is what has been getting all of the headlines. Many people are contemptuous of avoiding hard drugs throughout the world cup, but not drinking for them is not an option. You only have to watch a video on Youtube of hundreds of fans cheering and throwing their beers when their side scores a goal to realise how integral drinking culture is when it comes to major tournaments. That said, any alcohol-related violence or serious disturbance should not be permitted anywhere in the world.

At the world cup, alcohol is not easy to access. It is banned in stadiums and is completely illegal to drink in public areas. There are designated hotels and spots where alcohol is allowed, but the prices are extortionate. Half a litre of beer costs 50 Qatari riyals, which is equal to around 12 dollars. The whole affair has made alcohol quite appealing to a lot of supporters. However, it has also meant that many fans have attempted to smuggle alcohol into stadiums – with one individual turning a pair of binoculars into a discreet booze bottle. For anyone found drinking in a public place, they could face a 6 month prison sentence or a fine of up to $700.

Vapes & Cigarettes

Oddly enough, vapes are another banned substance or device in Qatar. If you’re someone who enjoys an e-cig then make sure you don’t bring it to the world cup. Cigarettes are very much legal to buy in the country, with 25% of Qatari men smoking, but there is a strict vape ban. This has been the case since 2014. If you’re found with a vape you can face fines of up to $2,700 or a prison sentence up to 3 months. Only around 0.6% of women smoke in Qatar, which is likely to do with their guardianship laws. These essentially do not allow women to marry, study abroad or find a job without permission from their male guardian. 

Conclusion 

As you can see, the Qatar world cup is surrounded with controversy. The human rights violations alone are enough of a reason to avoid visiting. Many female footballers have boycotted the tournament altogether in response to the horrific women’s rights there. Even the ‘OneLove’ armband – supporting LGBT rights – has been banned by Fifa. Many players have resisted wearing it in fear of sanctions. Ultimately, the Qatar world cup should probably not have gone ahead. Nonetheless, if you still want to enjoy the tournament and support your team, then definitely be careful when it comes to substance use. Qatar have some of the strictest drug laws in the world.

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Cannabis Trends From MJBizCon: Cultivation, Rolling Papers, Vapes, & White-Labeling

The biggest cannabis business convention came and went last week. And it made a lot clear, particularly in trends. So, what are the biggest cannabis industry trends currently going on according to MJBizCon? Read on to find out where the money grabs are in the legal world of weed.

What is MJBizCon?

If that word looks strange to you (and maybe a little familiar), let me explain what it is. MJBizCon is a cannabis convention that’s put on every year by the Colorado-based publication Marijuana Business Daily, AKA MJBizDaily. If you read a lot about the weed industry, you’ve probably come across plenty of their articles.

In 2012, this publication launched the first Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, which we lovingly refer to as MJBizCon. The convention serves as a national trade show for businesses within the legal cannabis industry. This is an important note to make, because for the most part, it rules out gray market areas like the cannabinoid industry, which offers us synthetics in the form of delta-8 and HHC, among others. Right now, MJBizCon is considered the largest business trade show of the legal industry.

Every year, the business end of the cannabis space gathers in Las Vegas, so new connections can be made, new products and services put on display, and for the general public to get a gander at what’s out there. Complete with after parties, and big names like Mike Tyson, MJBizCon has become a popular event for anyone related to the world of weed.

The public is also allowed in this trade show, and the ability to be first in line to see what’s new, and for special convention deals, brings in those unrelated to the business world. Overall, it’s like one big weed party that we all get to play at. And regardless of whether you make a big purchase, or get a good new business connection, you’re sure to walk away with some interesting goodies and samples to try.

Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: Cultivation

Now, technically, as a business convention, MJBizCon leans more toward a B2B experience, and less towards B2C. In that sense, its great for seeing how businesses are trying to make money in the industry. The cannabis market is still relatively new, and still getting its footing, and those eager to make a buck tend to gravitate toward where they think its possible. There are a lot of issues with the industry, and it not performing to original expectations. These trends show where operators are focusing within the legal industry, to make money.

The biggest trend was in cultivation. However this is an interesting concept because of what it implies. Cultivation itself comes with the issue of overproduction, something that can devalue a product simply by having too much of it. Cannabis prices have plummeted all over the place because of this issue, so it stands to reason that much of what is offered in the realm of cultivation, is geared not just toward large-scale growing, but towards individual cultivators as well.

This was made clear when I picked up a sample of GrowSafe Bio-Pesticide. Sure, the product is technically made for large-scale production, but the exhibitors were quick to throw in how their product can be safely used by any home-grower (and for that matter, with more crops than just cannabis).


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Cultivation might be key to the industry in general, but part of what makes cultivation products a big trend, is that cultivation equipment, especially when it comes to certain products like natural pesticides and lights, can be marketed to home-growers as well; who make up a big, and growing, part of the industry. For that reason, cultivation products, from lights to organic pesticide to growing chambers, should remain popular as they relate to both the mass production side, and the individual production side.

Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: rolling papers and vapes

I’m putting these together because it’s almost funny how opposite they are. One represents the standard way of smoking, and one, the newer healthier option. I should clarify though, when I say vapes, I mean oil vapes. And what this really means, is the batteries used to power the carts, and the carts as well. One growing (but still small) trend related to the carts specifically, is reusable cartridges, which will hopefully become an even bigger trend in the future.

While dry herb vapes were represented by companies like Storz and Bickel, (bigger names that have remained through time), the mass showing at the convention was for the newer oil version. Here there are less established names ruling the roost, and more way to gain entry; though with much competition, as evidenced by the convention.

They came in all shapes, colors, and sizes, with nearly every company advertising a square-shaped design; something they all seemed to think they cornered the market with. They also all do about the same thing. In fact, whereas it used to be easier to find better batteries with temperature control, now they’re all simpler models that don’t allow for such precision. There was very little difference between products, but an obvious desire to capitalize on the vape trend.

Conversely, rolling papers were also all the rage, and this was the case last year as well, and for good reason. Most people still roll joints. They’re offered with and without filters, as pre-roll cones, as blunt wraps, with and without flavors (advertised as terpene infused, but tasting like synthetic chemicals), and in a variety of sizes. Most were about the same, while some, like the company High Tea, offered products like blunt papers made of tea leaves with no tobacco, nicotine, or hemp involved. Much like with vapes, aside from companies like High Tea, there wasn’t a massive difference between products for the most part. Most were white-label products with different branding, which itself, was quite a trend this year.

Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: white label products

It seems the next big money grab in the legal cannabis industry, is in white labeling and branding. White labeling is when a product is made by a manufacturer, which can be individually branded as per a company. This means many companies are selling the exact same product, but with their own individual labeling. It’s very common in many industries. Tons of products you use that you thought were specific to a brand name, are likely white labeled products that a brand name was simply stuck on.

In the case of the weed industry, tons of white-labeling and branding services were offered. Whether you want to sell your own line of rolling papers or vapes, get sweatshirts with your logo, or whatever else, there are about a million companies that want to help you by providing a generic product to use as your own.

I find white-labeling a bit sad. It’s outright saying that we can expect companies to no longer come up with and market their own products. And it exemplifies the idea of a money grab. Rather than come up with inventive ideas, companies just use the model out there, and slap their label on it. The whole reason all those vapes look exactly the same? Because they are. They come from just a few manufacturers, and then get used by every emerging company looking to get in the industry. But such is the standard today for big business. The brand you love most, is sometimes no different then the product next to it on a shelf.

With all the issues in the cannabis industry, and the difficulty in making money, it’s not shocking that companies will reach for whatever they can. And with the industry being a bit flimsy in some cases, this means not putting in more money than necessary. White-labeling a product gets a company out of the R&D of making a product, and the testing, and ensuring that it meets standards. But it also means that everything we’re sold is the same.

This is truly one of the break off points between many high quality and low quality companies and products. Those actually in it to get you something good, or that offer something specialized or different, are the ones putting in the money to make it happen. It says a lot for the market in general that this emerging cannabis trend is one that generalizes the entire industry.

Conclusion

Last year I remember seeing several companies doing custom gummy molds, or offering products to neutralize smoke in the air. I saw less – or none – of that this year. Cannabis trends tend to come and go depending on where its thought a profit is possible, and if there isn’t one, the trend disappears. Vapes have grown (square is in), papers will likely always be big (now flavored with terpenes and/or chemicals), white-labeling is all the rage, and cultivation is key for its industrial and personal appeal. What new trends will pop up next year? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Fifa World Cup 2022: Anti-doping Laws Explained

The next World Cup is soon upon us. The international football tournament that just keeps giving. There will be speed, drama and unbelievable skill. The greatest footballers on the planet will be all competing for the top prize. However, there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding this world cup, primarily due to the host nation – Qatar – and its backward views on human rights.

With strict laws, fans travelling to cheer on their teams will need to be extremely careful – even a drop of alcohol in an unprohibited place could end with them behind bars. But the Qatar government is not the only one with rigid rules on substance use, Fifa and its anti-doping laws are also ruthless. Any player found with specific drugs in their body could face permanent exclusion from the sport. But how does it all work? We’re going to take a look. Let’s go. 

Qatar World Cup 2022

The world cup is supposed to be the most awaited and longed for football event on offer, but this year’s seems tarnished by controversy and malpractice. It would be great if a football tournament could happen and the focus be solely on the sport itself, but yet again Fifa have proved that they’re objectives sit firmly in the money. Qatar, a small Gulf country with a population of around 2 million, has been heavily criticized for how they have dealt with world cup preparations.

6500 migrants have reportedly died in the speedy creation of stadiums, hotels and training facilities. Not only that, but their overall view on human rights – including LGBTQ+ people and women – is backward to say the least. It isn’t that other nations don’t have the same views, because of course they do, but it’s that these countries should then not be chosen to host a world cup. It’s as simple as that. Amnesty highlights the problematic laws in Qatar:

“Under the guardianship system, women remained tied to their male guardian, usually their father, brother, grandfather or uncle, or for married women, to their husband. Women continued to need their guardian’s permission for key life decisions… (AND) “Sodomy” or same-sex sexual conduct between men remained an offence under the Penal Code, punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment.”

Nonetheless, the world cup is happening and – according to Fifa – we’re all supposed to ‘focus on football’. A very easy thing for a business monopoly with no feelings or threats to advise. But with Qatar having their own strict laws on illegal substances, we thought it would be interesting to see the kinds of rules that Fifa have themselves. Let’s take a look at their anti-doping strategy. 

What is Doping?

Football, like any sport, is a highly competitive one. It is believed that 1% of kids that play football at school will join or be scouted by a professional team and – of those select few – around 1% again will actually make it professionally. In essence, it is near to impossible to become a football player. Plus, even those that make it are constantly under threat of losing their place in the team. It’s one thing to become a professional footballer, and it’s another thing to maintain yourself as one. Being a sportsman takes incredible passion, work ethic and natural ability. You have to be at the highest level possible. That is why, historically, many professionals have turned to doping for assistance. Science writes:

“Its origins can be traced as far back as the ancient Olympics, where competitors would drink ‘magic’ potions or eat special foods to gain an edge over their rivals. The desire to win, motivated by economic incentives… or social pressures… ensures there is a constant market for drugs that will improve performance.”

Doping is defined as using banned substances in order to boost your performance as an athlete. Performance enhancing drugs can give sports people that extra edge on their competitors. Here are a few examples of the kinds of banned substances that athletes have taken in the past: 


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Stimulants

Stimulants speed up the heart rate and boost energy. They fill the athlete with alertness, and make them more aggressive. These include: cocaine, ritalin and amphetamines. Nicotine and caffeine are also part of the stimulant drug family but these are not illegal. 

Steroids

Anabolic Steroids can help athletes boost their muscle growth. By raising testosterone in the blood, the muscles are able to build faster and grow larger. Weight lifters and swimmers have been known to use these substances in the past. 

Hormones

The Human Growth Hormone is a naturally-occuring substance in the body. It helps the growth of physical development. If an excess is taken, the drug can increase muscle, boost energy, and breakdown fat quicker. Lance Armstrong, the famous cyclist, admitted to doping these substances. 

EPO 

EPO – or erythropoietin – was another substance that Lance Armstong was known to take at Tour De France. EPO is produced by the kidneys but, again, can be taken in excess. The substance stimulates the production of red blood cells, which increases the amount of oxygen that is carried around the body. In essence, the entire body can work quicker and more effectively. 

Doping in Football

Interestingly, when it comes to football, there have been less cases of doping. Especially 

when compared to athletics and cycling. However, there is just as much of a reason to make use of performance enhancing drugs. If used, it would have the same benefits: including increased energy, alertness and muscle mass. According to Fifa, over 33,000 doping tests were done in 2016, with 0.29% testing positive. This can be compared to 9 out of 5000 athletes testing positive in the 2012 olympic games. That is around 0.80%. There seems to be a sly belief that footballers are somehow allowed or able to hide it.

fifa anti-doping laws

Arsene Wenger, the ex-Arsenal manager, came out and said that his team had played against many other sides using performance enhancing drugs. However, that’s not to say that doping hasn’t occurred. In fact, one of the world’s greatest – Diego Maradona – was excluded from the American 1994 world cup for using ephedrine. He was consequently banned from the US and has been unable to go back since. But, since this incident, there hasn’t really been as high a profile case. Some people believe that doping simply is not an issue in football, whilst others claim that Fifa are not doing enough to look into it. 

Fifa Anti-Doping Laws

When it comes to doping laws, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the national rulebook that the majority of the world abides by. Fifa adopted the World Anti-Doping Code, but was one of the last federations to do so. Before this, they preferred to deal with each incident on a case by case basis. With many tournaments happening internationally, it is pivotal that there is a consensus approach. Fifa writes:

“Whether it is fear of failure, bad advice by a coach or doctor, a need to speed up recovery, or simple ignorance, the results of doping in football are the same: players can not only lose their professional career and damage their personal reputation, they can also harm their physical and mental health for the rest of their lives.”

According to Fifa, the use of any banned WADA substance will lead to a ban. These substances are listed on their website. The length of this ban will depend on the intention behind it. 

1 year or less – No significant fault or negligence 

2 years – Taking the substance without intent to cheat

4 years – Intent to cheat

Life Sport Ban – Multiple occasions or multiple substances

It’s important to note that this includes coaches and staff, as well as the players. The aim is to maintain that any person involved in or around the football is checked. These tests – by urine or blood – can occur anytime and frequently. Fifa have the right to do this. If a footballer does test positive, then It is very hard to prove that they were not aiming to cheat, as the anti-doping laws are set in stone and are assumed to be known by everyone. 

Conclusion

Doping in football seems to be far less common than many other sports. However, seeing as Fifa have been corrupt enough to allow a nation like Qatar to host the 2022 world cup, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to imagine that they could also be hiding the doping of their athletes. But perhaps that’s too conspiratorial? But what do you think?

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Who Grows the Most Cannabis in the World?

The cannabis plant grows in all corners of the world. However, with varying laws in many nations, it’s hard to know where it grows the most. Some countries have legalized cannabis entirely, others have only allowed for it to be used medically, whilst some have banned it completely. Is it reasonable to presume that the nations who have legalized cannabis grow it the most? Or is it actually more likely to flourish in the vast continents of Asia or Africa, where the substance is usually dealt with more strictly? The place that grows the most cannabis may be somewhere you wouldn’t expect. Let’s find out.

Cannabis Growing Countries

In ancient times, there were a few countries and continents that were known for a mass growth of cannabis. In fact, it is believed that the first plant was found at the bottom of the Himalayas – in Asia. It is thought that 28 million years ago, on the eastern Tibetan Plateau, weed began evolving. It was then used as hemp by China and other Asian nations. There was also a great deal of it found in the Americas, Middle East and Africa which, as the empires took hold, caused it to make its way to European shores.

Before this period, it would have been right to assume that the most cannabis in the world would be found in these areas. However, in recent times, the world’s view on the substance has changed. Although the majority of the world banning it in 20th century, in recent times the global mindset has shifted. There are now 21 states in the US that have legalized cannabis, with another 10 decriminalizing its use. Canada has also fully allowed the use of weed. With these legal changes, has come a brand new market, where these nations are now openly growing the plant domestically. The North American weed market has been valued at $12.4 billion and is predicted to rise by 15% every year from 2022-2030. 

In addition, Europe is also steadily on the cannabis rise. Luxembourg and Malta – two proud but small nations – were the first to take the legalization leap. However, in bigger news, the next country to join them seems to be the global superpower of Germany. BBC news writes: 

“Germany’s coalition government has agreed on a plan to legalise recreational cannabis use among adults. Possession of up to 30g (1oz) for personal use would be allowed. Licensed shops and pharmacies would sell it. The plan has yet to be approved in parliament – but also receive the green light by the European Commission. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the plan could become law in 2024.”

When this officially comes into place, it would be a massive push for the rest of the major European countries to follow in their footsteps. This global shift of cannabis laws has begun what can only be described as an arms race – but for weed. The next step is for these locations to create their own successful cannabis market, competing with their own domestic production of the plant. So with this recent shift, how can we know who now produces the most cannabis in the world? 

Recreational Cannabis

There are varying types of cannabis cultivation. Some nations grow it uncontrollably and illegally, for recreational purposes. Whilst others have huge legal medicinal markets that are reasonably new. The first sector we will look at is the recreational one. Who grows the most in the world?

Morocco 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime claims that Morocco is the largest producer of psychoactive cannabis in the world. In other words, the nation that grows the most weed containing the THC cannabinoid. There are just over 70,000 hectares that are taken up by Morocco’s cannabis ventures, and 70% of Europe’s hash came from this nation in 2003. In fact, in 2021, 40,000 tons of hashish derived from Morocco. However, it’s important to note that recreational weed is illegal here, despite it being widely grown. But a recent law change in 2021 has allowed the cultivation of the substance for medicinal purposes, protecting the farmers from illegal activity. 

Mexico 

Mexico is a close second, with many believing that it will overtake Morocco imminently. Cannabis has a grand history in this country, with the word ‘marijuana’ originating there. In the 16th century, the plant was introduced to Mexico by the Spanish as hemp. Whilst cannabis is not completely legal in this country, there seems to be a shift in thought. It is this shift that could lead Mexico to becoming number one. Earlier in 2022, as the Mexicanist reports, litigious change began happening:

“On May 11, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ruled that it is unconstitutional to criminalize the possession of more than 5 grams of cannabis unless it can be proven that it is not for personal use.”

Afghanistan 

Afghanistan also deserves a mention. It was the largest producer around 10 years ago, with 20,000 hectares being dedicated to cultivating cannabis. The indica plant is native here, and has been growing for centuries. There is reported to be 1,500 to 3,500 tonnes of weed shipped overseas every year from Afghanistan, which makes them at least the largest exporter. In addition, like Morocco, Afghanistan is incredibly popular for its strains of hash – with 10% of the world’s produce coming from here. 

Medical Cannabis 

Alternatively you have the medical cannabis sector. Now this one is up for debate and there are varying reports, but let’s take a look at the leading nations when it comes to this. What you will notice is that newer countries – with less history in cannabis – begin to rise up in this category. 


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USA

The USA is definitely one of the main nations leading the charge when it comes to cannabis legalization. With 21 out of 50 states having legalized weed, they have made a global stance. With this, has come a booming medical and recreational market. It is believed that their market was worth around $10.8 billion last year, and will rise to $13.2 billion this year. This is then predicted to hit $40 billion in 2030. These are record numbers. Leafly reported this year that the US farmers grew around 2,834 metric tons of weed. 37 out of the 50 states in America have legalized medical cannabis, meaning that the majority of the US are welcoming to it. It is no surprise then that, with a nation of 331 million people, they would be growing some of the most medical cannabis in the world. 

UK

You probably did not expect to see the United Kingdom anywhere near this list, in any way whatsoever. However, a report in 2019 claimed that the UK – with its modest population of 67 million – was the largest producer of medical cannabis. The Independent wrote:

“Britain is the world’s largest producer of legal cannabis, a new report from the United Nations has revealed. Ninety five tonnes of marijuana was produced in the UK in 2016 for medicinal and scientific use, accounting for 44.9 percent of the world total, its International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) found.”

Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since 2018, but recreational use is still banned. With the rest of Europe beginning to change their tune, it is inevitable that, one day, the UK do legalize the entirety of the substance. However, this could take a while. Nonetheless, it is a constant surprise to citizens that their country could be the largest producer of medicinal cannabis. This is especially because there are only around 6,000 people in the UK who are able to access a cannabis prescription, despite the fact that 1.5 million people need it. Yet 320 tons of legal weed was produced by the UK in 2019, accounting for 75% of the global total at the time. This proves, yet again, that many nations are more interested in the financial side of cannabis, rather than the medical benefits that it can offer their own people. 

Conclusion

It is hard to pin down, for certain, which country grows the most cannabis in the world. This changes and shifts year by year, with varying reports and varying legal alterations. However, these nations are definitely leading the charge in their sectors – for good reasons or bad. It is likely that, as time goes on, more countries will legalize cannabis in order to benefit from the huge amount of market worth there is. Germany is on the rise, Canada is doing well and – of course – the superpower of India is naturally a huge producer. The game is on. Who will become the next largest cultivator of cannabis?

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A Woman’s Perspective on MJBizCon 2022

Cannabis Week just came to a close and, like every year, there was much to learn and observe at the nation’s largest B2B industry conference. One thing that stayed in the back of my mind going into the show, was an article that I read after last year’s event, The Boys Club: A Female Perspective on Cannabis Week in Vegas.  

Now, let me preface this article by saying that my goal is never to discredit another woman’s experience, but in the last few MJBizCon’s I’ve attended, I have not experienced the level toxic masculinity that was described in this article. This year I made it a point to keep an eye out for some of the issues that Gordon discussed. So, what was this woman’s perspective on MJBizCon 2022? Read on to find out.  

About the Conference 

Let’s quickly cover the basics of how the convention went, from a more general standpoint. First of all, it was noticeably smaller and less busy than last year’s event. As a member of the press with more of bird’s eye perspective here, my initial take was that business might be slowing down for many companies. Considering the oversupply issues on the West Coast and the overall struggles facing the industry, that’s an easy conclusion to reach.  

However, when talking to people individually, I was pleased to find that nearly everyone reported better networking opportunities and larger deals being closed than in years prior. As far as who was there, the convention floor was split into four pavilions the busiest areas seemed to be in the preroll/paper/blunt wrap sector, as well as packaging.  

Add to that, the High Times after party with Method Man & Redman was so much fun! Aside from the implication food would be provided and sadly, it was not, the party was everything we anticipated it would be and more… a fun, laid back atmosphere with smoking, drinking, music, and socializing with great people.  

A “Boy’s Club”? 

Now, on to more pressing issues. What does it feel like to be a woman attending MJBizCon in Las Vegas? Honestly, in my opinion, it feels like being a woman at most other cannabis industry conventions in the United States. There is a certain vibe in Vegas that has some people acting a bit more extreme there than they would in their hometowns or other cities, but that’s to be expected (and let’s be honest, it’s one of the reasons many of us enjoy Vegas conventions so much). I also have the added benefit of having lived in Sin City for a few years during my early 20s, so I’m relatively accustomed to the madness.


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Regarding the article from last year, this was a quote that really stuck out to me: “A frat boy party culture has begun to permeate the legal industry, distracting the narrative from the true potential of plant medicine. A culture where blatant sexism and harassment are commonplace, and testosterone-fueled pissing matches have become more prevalent. A culture, while perhaps a product of our society, is on track to potentially destroy the integrity and passion that generations of legacy operators have built in the shadows. And while sexism in the industry is nothing new, it’s become more visible than ever before thanks in part to legalization.” 

Now, I can’t say there is no truth to what she claimed here. Some industries have a crazier air about them, and cannabis is just one of those industries. And we all know that some people can be downright creepy and inappropriate. But overall, I found that most men I spoke to were respectful, focused, and there to talk business like the rest of us.  

It might just be my opinion, but I do believe that because MJBizDaily (the news site that operates MJBizCon) was founded by a woman, it serves as a reminder of how much we can accomplish in the industry. There is a massive level of respect for founder and former CEO, Cassandra Farrington, as we all know the convention would not be possible without her and her team of strong women that helped build it from the ground up.  

Female Representation in Cannabis  

One thing that Gordon mentioned, which I also find disturbing, is the dwindling number of women in upper-level positions in the cannabis industry. This didn’t used to be the case a few years back. To the contrary, female representation was greater in the cannabis industry than the general populace.

But according to MJBizDaily’s most recent Women & Minorities in the Cannabis Industry report, female executive representation is down to 22 percent right now, an all-time low from just under 37 percent in 2019. And now, it’s also well below the national average of roughly 30 percent.

The cause for this drop remains a mystery, but it’s concerning nonetheless. Not only is it disappointing on a human-rights level, but according to a recent study, companies with women in executive positions are 30% more likely to outperform other companies. So the lack of representation is disappointing on a financial level also.

Final Thoughts

Once more, my intention is not to discredit anything that other women may have gone through. But I do feel it’s important to offer multiple different views on the subject, so people – especially women – don’t make the decision not to attend based on someone else’s experience. Like it was stated in Gordon’s article, many claimed they would be skipping MJBiz altogether because they “know what happens there nowadays and don’t want any part of it”.

But it’s worth keeping in mind that the majority of people seemed to have a good time and many important deals were struck. It’s still the best place to keep up with current industry trends and get your business’s name out there. So, with that being said, we’ll see you all at MJBizCon 2023!

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Hong Kong to Ban CBD – Is This China Overstepping?

China has yet to be a country to embrace the use of cannabis in any way, even as it remains a top global exporter of hemp. In a new move, the Chinese territory of Hong Kong is looking to not only ban CBD, but to classify it as a drug like heroin or methamphetamine.

The China/Hong Kong relationship

Technically this news story isn’t about mainland China. It’s about Hong Kong, a city of 7.5 million with a strange history that makes it part of China since 1997. In fact, Hong Kong started as a British colony in the early 1840’s. In 1898, Britain actually got itself a 99-year lease on the city. This was temporarily upended during WWII when the city was occupied by imperial Japan, but returned to British control in 1945 upon the war’s end.

Now, Hong Kong is located on the South-Eastern side of China. During most of the last nearly 200 years, China was not much of a super power, despite its size, so that the British empire had control isn’t shocking. But it certainly isn’t the case anymore. In 1997, Hong Kong went from British ownership, to Chinese ownership. It is considered an administrative region, with separate governance from mainland China, though I expect it would be silly to assume that the standard Chinese government doesn’t maintain control, even if below board (I mean, c’mon…)

Hong Kong is a major industrial city, housing 7.5 million, which also makes it one of the most densely populated cities in the world, as it sits on only 426 square miles. It’s a massive business center that acts as a major global financial center, and which is ranked 3rd on the Global Financial Centres Index. People in Hong Kong have a high life expectancy, the city has the third highest level of billionaires in a city, and it has a very high income per capita. Though it shouldn’t be understated that there is still a massive issue with wealth inequality, making for a city with both an incredibly high, and incredibly low, priced housing market.


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The city maintains one of the most highly developed transportation systems, with an entire 90% of its population that use it. The city is considered one of the highest developed in the entire world; and while it is governed separately from China, there has always been an understanding that Hong Kong bows to the will of China. In fact, China is known for being excessively forceful, even when it promises not to be. Which brings up just how much mainland China is an influence in what I’m about to get into next.

Does Hong Kong and CBD hark back to Opium Wars?

This most recent news story has to do with Hong Kong’s classification of the compound CBD. It was decided in October, that Hong Kong will outlaw all CBD products, putting them in the same category as drugs like heroin. It plans to have this done by February of 2023. Up until now, the city has been selling CBD products. In fact, tons of them in infused products like beer and coffee, and as supplements. As per a government official, “The trade and the public should arrange early disposal of any CBD products in their possession to avoid contravention of the law.”

Now, the comparison to drugs like heroin is interesting. You see, China had a major issue with opium, in what were called the Opium Wars. In short, opium was used by the British to essentially weaken the Chinese, in order to take advantage of the country and its people; at the expense of the Chinese population which suffered major social and industrial issues from the widespread opium addictions. And it worked pretty well for a time. The first Opium War took place in the early 1840’s, when Hong Kong was taken by the British.

Imagine that, pushing a drug industry in a country to get everyone addicted so that their land could be taken over and their people abused. And that’s exactly what happened. The first war was because China seized the product, trying to stop its sale. The British empire, pushing an idea of free trade, wanted to keep the drug flowing through the country it was taking advantage of, and making a profit from.

The second Opium War started in the mid-1850’s, and had to do with the right to keep trading opium in and out of China. Like the first one, it was the Qing dynasty against the British empire, this time with help from the French, and the latter won again, maintaining control of China through opium addictions, and this time making China cede some of its land to the Russians. While awful historical moves are often sanitized, the Opium Wars and the treatment of the Chinese by the British, represents a reprehensible act in history, for which no formal apology has ever been made.

In fact, when looking at Chinese drug laws, and the harshness of them, much of the reason for this can be attributed to these Opium Wars. China might be known to go overboard with strict regulation, but in an actually very human showing, it also really doesn’t want any country coming in and taking control through drugs ever again. How much this plays into a decision on CBD is certainly hard to say, but it does give a massive amount of credence to the idea that China doesn’t want its people messed with by drugs. And for an extremely appropriate historical reason.

Opium wars in China

The reason I bring this history up, is that in putting CBD in the same category as heroin (opium), it begs the question as to whether this is just some weird backhanded move for another reason, or if there’s a fear in China of having its people exposed to something that could alter their ability to think and perform in life, much like the opium did. In a speech at the time of the announcement, former-police-officer-turned-chief executive John Lee, stated:

“Cannabis is a drug, and the government will categorize CBD as a dangerous drug… to protect the public’s health.” While there might not be actual validity to the statement in terms of a real danger, it is perhaps understandable for China to be cautious.

But…China is the biggest exporter for hemp

I suppose this can be looked at as ‘do as I say, not as I do’, or perhaps it’s a chink in the general logic. China might be barring cannabis entirely to its population, including CBD now, but it is the biggest supplier of hemp and medical cannabis, globally.

How much does the country export out? Well, in terms of just cannabis oil, numbers from 2019 show that China exported nearly $1 billion in cannabis oil alone, which accounted for 33.4% of the market that year. How much was the next biggest exporter for comparison? India, which exported about $320 million worth for the year, which is about 1/3 as much. In fact, when CBD started ending up in cosmetics, China went ahead and closed the loophole, banning it from those products too. Cannabis is 100% illegal in China, and that includes all parts of it.

Yet this doesn’t stop it from being a massive cash crop. Commercial hemp was legalized for growing in 2010, and China currently holds about half the world’s hemp-growing space (though recent legalizations and new countries entering the market might change this a bit). Much of this takes place in the Yunnan province, where its said hemp growing makes the land worth about $300/acre. At that rate, its more profitable than even the plant that makes Canola oil – rapeseed.

Just how much does the country actually export as a whole? Unfortunately this information is harder to come by as China isn’t very into sharing such information. But we do know a few things. First off, though the info is a couple years old, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, about half of all global patents for cannabis belong to Chinese companies or individuals, which equals about 306 of 606 (though these numbers are likely changed due to growing industries worldwide).

Is China forcing Hong Kong to ban CBD
Is China forcing Hong Kong to ban CBD

We also know there are around 50 enterprises with licenses to grow industrial cannabis in China, while only a handful have a license for production. And we know that at least two of China’s 34 regions are known for the cultivation of cannabis for CBD.

While there are plenty of countries that have inconsistent laws regarding cannabis, allowing the production and export, without allowing access to their own people, China stands out for one particular reason. There have been, and are, plenty of natural medicine traditions in the history of the world, and even today. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine is probably the most enduring, which makes it that much more of a contradiction that a country in which 32% (in 2018) of medical visits were made to traditional medicine practitioners, still bans one of the plants most used as a medicine, and for which the country has a rich history of medical use.

Conclusion

We don’t really know for sure why China does what it does, and exactly how it does it. And we don’t know how much influence the regular Chinese government had over the recent announcement for Hong Kong to ban CBD. But it would be weird to let your administrative region keep using something banned on the mainland, right? Seems likely to me, that this is just another example of a Chinese overstep into the governing of Hong Kong.

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Who Is Smoking Weed in the US? Insights From Gallup & Government

Well before legalizations I was smoking weed, and so was a very large part of the population I came into contact with; though its illegal status meant less admitting to this. In fact, it’s been the most popular drug for so long, it’s funny to see research talking about it like a new trend. People have always been smoking weed, but now that its more socially acceptable, its okay to talk about it. So, to give an idea of who is smoking weed in the US (now that people are being more open), here’s some info to provide new insights, from both Gallup and the government.


Where is this data coming from?

Before getting into the numbers, let’s first examine where the following information is coming from. It’s great to know that a lot of people smoke, but when it comes to informational breakdowns, it requires a lot of information collection. One of the biggest organizations to collect and publish data on consumer opinions, is the company Gallup.

You’ve probably heard the term ‘Gallup poll’, because they’re used for all kinds of data collection, and get published frequently to help shed light on a subject for the general public. Gallup polls are conducted through the US analytics company Gallup, Inc., which hails out of Washington, DC. Gallup conducts all sorts of opinion polls, both in the US, and abroad.

The polls are all carried out via telephone interviews. The numbers called create random samples, and any number with a working exchange can be used, including unlisted numbers. As with any poll, it’s hard to imagine they’ll ever be 100% right on, but have through the years provided a level of consistency in accuracy that makes them useful tools for gauging public opinion.


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It should be remembered, however, that its easy to hang up on a person calling for a poll, and many people will simply never take part in one, while others relish the opportunity. Plus, plenty of people don’t answer calls they’re unfamiliar with; and some populations, like the homeless, are less likely to have a number at all. These surveys are useful, but only as good as who picks up and feels like responding.

However, Gallup polls are interesting because they’re not based on governments looking for information, and have more of an independent appeal. This can mean less slant in the outcome, and more reason for impartiality. Having said that, other organizations, including government organizations, also provide compiled data on topics like drug use.

Which is expected to provide a better answer? It’s hard to say. A lot of recent information comes from the Monitoring the Future panel study, which was conducted via the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, and which received its funding through the National Institutes of Health’s NIDA, making it a government study. How does non-government Gallup data compare to the government version? Read on to find out.

Current Gallup data on who is smoking weed in the US

It’s easy to say, ‘everyone is doing it’, but that’s not true. And sometimes its nice to see an actual breakdown of exactly who is, and who isn’t (or, at least, as exact as possible). The first thing to know, is that the first time Gallup ever asked this question in the US, it was back in 1969, and at that time, only 4% admitted to having used marijuana. Now, this represents a possible limitation, in that at a time when there was a strong social stigma against it, it might have been harder to get people to be honest…even if it was anonymous polls.

What’re the most recent Gallup numbers? As of 2021, up to 49% of respondants said they’d used cannabis. Says director of U.S. social research for the company, Lydia Saad, “In the next few years, we should see that crossing 50 percent.”

What else has Gallup found about marijuana usage among Americans? Well for one thing, apparently if you’ve got a Masters degree, you’re only a third as likely to smoke marijuana a those who only have a standard college degree or less. And as it might seem obvious just by which states were the first to adopt recreational policies, democrats have shown to be twice as likely to toke up as republicans. In the same vein, those who see themselves as liberals, apparently use marijuana almost 4X as much as those who see themselves as conservatives.

Weed polling data

Gallup polls also indicate that men have been more likely to use than women throughout the years. How much more? At apparently a nearly 2:1 ratio. However, this gap has steadily been closing in more recent years, and in the young adult category, it almost doesn’t exist at all anymore.

Gallup polls have shown another interesting point. While they look at opinion, they tend to also look at who has that opinion. What its polling shows, is that though some people (as much as 50%) still have a negative view on cannabis, that negative view comes primarily from those who don’t, and have often never, used it. Those who do use it see it as beneficial for both individuals and society (70% and 66% respectively).

Those who never used it, see it as beneficial on both those levels at only 35% and 27% respectively, with much higher numbers in the not-beneficial category (62% and 72% respectively). This says quite a bit about knowing the thing you’re making a judgment about, and how not knowing about something, can easily lead to fear of it.

Current Monitoring the Future Panel study info on who is smoking weed in the US

So we saw a little bit of what Gallup had to say, now what about what the government compiled? According to this data, about 2/5 of young adults say they use cannabis at least sometimes. Remember how it used to be mainly men smoking? Well, part of the rise, is the catching up of the female population. The young adult category is comprised of those 19-30, and the comparison comes from looking at 2021 data, next to data from both five and 10 years ago.

The data also points to a another interesting factor.Take Vermont, for example. When it comes to young adult users, you actually now have a greater number than non-users. As in, for the 19-30 category, more people in that location now use cannabis, than don’t use it. This is getting close to the case in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, DC as well.

In terms of past-year, past-month and daily cannabis use (20+ occasions in past month), 2021 had the highest levels since the question began being looked into in 1988. Past month usage reached as high as 29%. Five years ago it was 21%, and 10 years ago it was 17%. In terms of daily use? 11% met the standard for 2021, whereas only 8% did five years ago, and 6% 10 years ago.

Weed legalization in the US
Weed legalization in the US

Another interesting factor? While alcohol continues to be the #1 drug of choice, it has steadily been going down in usage. This was seen in past-year, past-month, and daily drinking trends, which have all gone down in the last decade. This isn’t as clear cut as it sounds however, as high intensity drinking (10+ drinks in a row), has gone up. Does this indicate that party drinking is still a thing, while non-party drinking is growing less popular? Hard to say exactly. Just like its hard to say if this is directly correlated to rising cannabis use.

And another growing trend according to this data? The use of hallucinogens. According to the data, these numbers have also grown quite a bit in the last decade. The 2021 numbers show 8% for this category, up from 5% five years ago, and 3% 10 years ago. Should we expect these numbers to skyrocket up as well in the next few years, as more states legalize hallucinogenic drugs? Certainly seems like it with an Oregon legalization of magic mushrooms, access to MDMA and psilocybin in Connecticut, and a pre-emptive MDMA legalization in Colorado, along with a ballot measure for legal use of entheogenic plants.

Conclusion

Who is smoking weed in the US? Well, according to both Gallup and government data, a large and growing section of the population, particularly in the young adult category. Which is more accurate? It kind of doesn’t matter. The trend shows the same through both sets of data, with a general upward trajectory in overall usage. Imagine what these numbers will look like in another few years, especially considering five more states are up for legalizations this election season, including southern states which were previously holdouts.

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