Mass Layoffs Continue in Cannabis Industry – Globally

What’s one great way to tell if an industry is doing well? More jobs open up, and salaries improve. What’s a great way to know there are problems? When more and more jobs get cut. That’s where we are today, as mass layoffs continue in the cannabis industry, signaling a host of problems, with no solution in sight.

Industry issues

When the industry first started it was a true free-for-all. The predictions for market growth were off-the-charts, and it seemed like every big international company wanted to swoop into newly legalized locations to take advantage of this new reported cash cow of an industry. Everyone wanted in. Lots of people made investments. We all waited with baited breath to see who among us would become the new weed industry millionaires.

Now, we’re a few years in, and the landscape has changed, along with expectations. CBD has faded out into almost nothing, medical markets are getting eclipsed by recreational markets, which themselves are still often eclipsed by black markets. Prices remain high in many places due to insane taxing, and governments have been slow to pick up on this as an issue. Overproduction has (let’s be honest, predictably) come into play, causing prices to plummet in every venue. And the once thriving industry, is now showing its cracks, with sales plummeting in many places.

Last year the reports started really rolling in about industry closures and layoffs. Smaller names were already having a hard time making it in due to expensive regulation, extreme competition, and extra costs like slotting fees at dispensaries; making it seem like a game for the big dogs only. But even they’re having issues. And now as 2023 gets underway, the mass layoffs continue, both in the US, and around the world.


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Mass layoffs in the cannabis industry – global

Clever Leaves Holdings is a Colombian cannabis company with operations in Portugal. On January 23rd of this year, the company announced restructuring plans that include cutting nearly ¼ of its staff. Clever Leaves is in the medical space, creating pharmaceutical-grade products. This restructuring means winding down all operations in the Portugal location. In fact, the company wants to move everything back home to cut costs, saying:

“By exclusively cultivating and producing our cannabinoid products in Colombia, we aim to leverage our existing cost efficiencies in the country as we ramp our dry flower offering,” said Andres Fajardo, CEO of Clever Leaves. “We believe this transition will allow us to optimize our production infrastructure and drive increased cost savings, positioning us to compete more effectively in the global medicinal cannabis market.”

As of the end of September, the company had $12.1 million in assets in Portugal. The facility included cultivation, post-harvesting, and manufacturing activities; though it sounds like all of this will eventually end. It’s also not the only company operating out of Portugal that wants to cut back. On January 17th, cannabis giant Tilray Brands announced it too was looking to cut about a quarter of its staff. The facility in Cantanhede is also a medical cannabis products facility. Said a Tilray spokesperson to MJBizDaily:

“A total of 49 jobs will be affected in the production, manufacturing, quality, quality control (laboratory), cultivation, supply chain, facilities, warehousing, logistics, procurement, and IT. These changes, which are in line with Tilray’s rightsizing to meet the needs of the current economy and the state of legalization across medical and adult-use cannabis, will take place over the next three months.”

To give an idea why this is happening, consider that in the quarter ending November 30th, 2022, the company posted a $61.6 million net loss. Tilray is a public company and can be found on the NASDAQ and Toronto Stock Exchange under TLRY. Clever Leaves also had huge losses of $37.3 million, in the first three quarters of last year. It only earned $13.2 million in the same time frame. Clever Leaves is publicly traded under CLVR on NASDAQ.

In Canada, Delta 9 announced that it would temporarily lay off 40 people. This is interesting wording as it implies the company does believe it will be able to reverse these layoffs. Realistically, maybe it will, but a stronger reality might be that none of these jobs are coming back for any of these companies. This cut in the company’s Winnipeg facilities accounts for 40% of its staff.

Fellow Canadian company The Flowr Corporation (OTC:FLWPF) a cultivation services enterprise with locations in several countries, made some big changes last year to keep from bankruptcy. It cut employees to the tune of $4 million in savings, accounting for 40% of its workforce. Along with this, it made a deal to sell off its subsidiary Flowr Forests, a 16 acre property for cultivation. This is considered a non-core asset, and makes the company $3.4 million in revenue.

Mass layoffs in the cannabis industry – US

The US might not have federally legal weed, but it is home to the biggest cannabis industries. However, things aren’t doing better within the borders of the US, than they’re doing outside them. One of the big ones to announce major cuts of late? Columbia Care, Inc., which operates in several states, and owns Green Leaf Medical LLC, which is about to make a bunch of people jobless. How many? 73. As of February 28th.

According to the company: “In order to meet the appropriate supply and demand levels of the market, it was necessary for us to reduce the workforce at our cultivation and production facility.” It continued, “We are hopeful that with adult use on the horizon, this facility will be back up to full capacity in the future.” It’s pretty clear this cut is indeed due to a lack of business.

Leaflink, a wholesale tech platform out of New York, is also cutting jobs. Late last year it was reported that 80 employees were sent looking for new work. Much like the other companies to make cuts, the company explained: “Unfortunately, as the cannabis industry continues to face headwinds and the current macroeconomic environment, we needed to take the next step in our evolution to continue supporting the industry.”

Truelieve, a company offering medical cannabis products and services out of Tallahassee Florida, and which operates in many states, also made a similar announcement at the end of last year. Workers were cut from its McKeesport Pennsylvania cultivation facility, numbering approximately 36. This is technically small potatoes considering the company employs in the neighborhood of 8,000, but its also not the first cut. The company laid off workers in three Florida locations: Midway, Monticello, and Quincy, as well.

While the cut was blamed on “Trulieve’s $2.1 billion acquisition of Arizona-based multistate operator Harvest Health & Recreation in 2021,” it also came on the heels of the company posting a quarterly loss of $115 million.

Yet another Florida company, Springbig, a technology company for weed-specific marketing software, cut 23% of its workforce (37 employees) late last year. The company is trying hard to turn a profit amid an industry that seems harder and harder to turn a profit in. These cuts were meant to save $200,000 in the short term, and 21% in the first three quarters of 2023.

Springbig had just merged with Tuatara Capital Acquisition, in order to get on NASDAQ; trading under SBIG. The company’s shares have plummeted from $4.50 last June, to 82 cents at the end of 2022. Prior to the drop it had reported $24 million in yearly revenue, with a $275 million valuation, as per Green Market Report.

If you’re a big reader of cannabis news, then the publication Leafly is likely familiar to you. Well, even Leafly Holdings is having problems. In October of last year, it was reported that the cannabis resource and marketplace, would cut 56 jobs, or 21% of its staff. Leafly, traded under LFLY on NASDAQ, is looking to save approximately $16 million a year, saying, “These reductions will help preserve our ability to respond to opportunities as this industry continues to mature and expand, and allow us to more effectively manage our capital.”

Previously mentioned layoffs in the cannabis industry

This is unfortunately not the first time I’ve reported on cannabis industry layoffs. Last year made one thing very clear: the market is not as sound as many wanted to believe; and the overall market predictions in place, are falling short of reality.

Some of the big layoffs already reported on, include Weedmaps, which cut about 25% of its staff; Curaleaf Holdings, which just got rid of 220 employees; Akerna, which released 1/3 of its staff, or 59 workers; Dutchie, which removed 8% of its workforce, amounting to 67 jobs lost; Canopy Growth which sold all its retail locations, and cut 245 jobs last year; and Aurora Cannabis which cut 12% of its workforce as a part of corporate restructuring to save money.

With the biggest names in cannabis faltering, it brings up the question of who can survive. More companies to let employees go recently, include California’s Eaze, which laid off around 25 employees last year; Lume, a cannabis company out of Michigan closed four out of 30 of its stores; and Nature AZ Medicine, an Arizona medical cannabis company, cut up to 100 employees as a result of medical sales falling.

There’s nothing saying that 2023 won’t turn into a banner year for cannabis sales, and there’s nothing saying that all of these companies won’t recoup their losses, or hire back the numbers they lost. But right now, things aren’t looking fantastic for cannabis industry growth, and these layoffs are a good indication that more bad news might be coming.

Conclusion

Will the cannabis industry rebound? Or are these mass layoffs an indication that the weed industry has hit a wall? And maybe most important to ask, if it can be saved, what kind of changes are necessary in order to facilitate this?

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6 chocolate weed strains worth trying this Valentine’s Day

For smoke-weed-everyday cacao aficionados, it stands to reason that some of our favorite cultivars would share a few of the same essences as chocolate, especially considering how integral both are to contemporary stoner culture.

Chocophile potheads around the world know how much of a mood lift a single bonbon can deliver, but it’s more than munchies that connect weed to cacao. Chocolate is rich in the terpene linalool. It also contains one of the first endocannabinoids discovered, anandamide, which interacts with the same endocannabinoid receptors as THC.

But weed and chocolate are connected by more than biology. When cannabis is bred to enhance its chocolatey qualities, the results can be more than mouthwatering; they can be freaking transcendent. Chocolate strains are designated as such via their genetics (many stem from crosses of Chocolate Thai or Chocolope) or their distinctly chocolatey terp profiles. Either way, the more chocolaty the strain, the more compelled we’ll be to stock up.

Consider a few of our favorite chocolatey strains of weed below and explore strains of all flavors on the Weedmaps app.

Chocolate Chunk

Chocolate Chunk, a direct descendant of Afghani, is a potentially sedative cultivar with a snoozy reputation perfect for stoners who prefer a mellow euphoria that unravels neatly into bedtime. Users describe Chocolate Chunk as a sleepy, munchy high that arrives with a chest swelling elation that typically percolates through the body, quieting both racing thoughts and achy body parts. Chocolate Chunk features a low percentage of CBD, and therapeutic users and rec users alike celebrate the strain’s potential stress-relieving efficacy.

Expect a botanical, flowery chocolate perfume and a sharp, pine-infused cocoa exhale.

Chocolate Diesel

Chocolate Diesel is an even-keeled cross of Sour Diesel and Chocolate Thai that tends to lean slightly peppy but overall seems to deliver balanced effects. Users report a potentially energetic onset that typically dissolves into an unfocused, cottony head high and loose, languid body buzz. The euphoric overtones make it a useful cultivar to keep around — especially on moody days. Therapeutic users report potential relief from fatigue, while rec users report a typically deep, cushiony stone worth zoning out with.

Expect a potent gassy chocolate perfume and a sour, diesel exhale.

Chocolate Skunk

Pothead chocolate freaks looking for a bright, peppy high should consider auditioning Chocolate Skunk, a cross of underground fave Chocolope and perennial darling Skunk. This cultivar’s effects reportedly skew energetic, and many users describe the high as optimal for functional, everyday stoners. Rec users describe an energetic euphoria that can be laser-focused to complete tasks like housework or low-stakes cerebral projects. And therapeutic users enjoy this strain as well, reporting potential relief from chronic pain and fatigue.

Expect creamy mocha aromas and a commensurate exhale.

Chocolate Haze

Smokers who eschew the lazy stoner stereotype might enjoy this Haze phenotype that delivers some delightfully uplifting chocolate vibes while also maintaining a lighthearted, focused energy synonymous with the Haze genealogy. Chocolate Haze is reportedly ultra-long lasting, with THC percentages that typically peak around 25% and highs that generally evaporate into easy, giggly, euphoria rather than sleepytime munchies.

Expect a spicy, woody chocolate aroma and a flowery, bitter chocolate exhale.

Chocolate Glue

This rare cross of Gorilla Glue and Chocolate Lava is potentially sedative with a bright euphoric streak that fans of the cultivar say keeps the high airy and multidimensional, rather than cottony and thick. Some Chocolate Glue users celebrate the strain’s potentially blissful, alert, creative, and meditative qualities, while others experience super relaxing body effects. That dynamic balance makes this hard-to-find cultivar worth the search — as if tasting like chocolate wasn’t enough to pique interest.

Expect sweet citrus and dark chocolate in both the aroma and exhale.

Chocolate Mint

For chocolate lovers who prefer a syrupy, sedative high, Chocolate Mint is probably a pretty appropriate addition to the stash box. Chocolate Mint is a cross of Emerald OG and Grand Daddy Purps that reportedly delivers a euphoric, contemplative head high and deeply couch-locked body buzz. Rec users describe a heavy-duty stone that’s potentially sedative under certain conditions (read: warm couch, tasty munchies, infinite Netflix). Others find it to be meditative and rejuvenating (read: picnic blanket, sunshine, good book). Therapeutic users report potential relief from bad moods and achy joints. 

Chocolate Mint gets her name from her rich, complex chocolate exhale and bright, minty nose rather than a Chocolate lineage. Knowing this, expect a nuanced profile that includes both cool notes of mint and warm flashes of pepper.

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Ciro Makes Cleaning Bongs a Breeze

I love it when a new product comes along that’s been designed with the core function to make life better, easier and cleaner. A product that makes me say, “Wow, I need that.” The truly revolutionary Ciro bong cleaner is one such item. The first-of-its-kind countertop appliance is the healthiest, most sustainable way to clean your pipes, bongs, grinder and trimming scissors by removing all the sticky resin using sonic waves—and in under 15 minutes without harmful and expensive chemicals.

Derivative of the Latin word for circle, the Ciro glass cleaner is the brainchild of two Emerald Triangle-based women, Laura Costa and Cara Cordoni.

“The Ciro comes from the heart of Humboldt County,” Costa says. “In addition to being great farmers, we’re also engineers, architects and artists.”

The Ciro cleans glassware and accessories in minutes.

How the Ciro Works

By harnessing industrial ultrasonic cleaning technology, the Ciro cleans the dirtiest bongs, pipes and other cannabis accessories and apparatus such as scissors and metal grinders. And it does so without using any nasty chemicals in a few minutes.

According to Costa, the sonic energy creates “cavitation,” tiny bubbles that explode against the resin, blasting it off the surface material and eliminating the need for solvents or other chemicals. 

The device is unique because the product’s design doesn’t require the bong to be submerged. Instead, it only needs to be filled with water. The Ciro’s six-inch base fits most bongs and if you want to clean dirty pipes, grinders or other accessories, simply pop them in a glass of water and place it in the Ciro. Adding a few drops of biodegradable dishwashing liquid emulsifies the resin, making for easy cleanup.

“The cannabis industry is loaded with waste,” Costa says. “One Ciro is about the same cost as about a dozen bottles of cleaner that you’ll never have to buy again. We’re very proud that we created something that eliminates a lot of single-use plastic and toxic chemicals from the environment.”

Ciro Bong Cleaner
The Ciro uses ultrasonic waves to create tiny bubbles that blast even the toughest resin off the glass.

The Benefits

The Full Flavor: Getting the full taste of the terpene profiles is one of the highlights of smoking cannabis. If you’re using a dirty bong containing stagnant bong water, you’re doing yourself and the flower a disservice. “You wouldn’t drink wine from a dirty glass,” Cordoni says. “So why would you smoke weed from a dirty bong?”

Reduced Respiratory Risks: Smoking out of dirty bongs and pipes isn’t just bad for the taste of your flower; it potentially poses health risks, too. Gross stagnant bong water is a haven for bacteria and other microbes that latch onto the gas and resin found inside your bong. Resin-encrusted bongs are a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and pathogens. Smoking with them can lead to illnesses like strep throat and pneumonia.

Easy Cleanup: Cleaning bongs can be complicated and time-consuming, not to mention damn near impossible if you have dexterity issues. The sleek hands-free design of the Ciro makes it super easy to use, especially for patients and disabled users who often struggle to maintain the level of cleanliness that they deserve with traditional methods.

Environmentally Conscious Engineering: As well as eliminating toxic chemicals and reducing the need for single-use plastic, the Ciro is also engineered for performance and durability and includes a lifetime warranty. Costa and Cordoni developed a circular business model that will repair or reclaim products at end-of-life.

Ciro Bong Cleaner
Ciro founders Cara Cordoni (L) and Laura Costa (R).

Necessity and Innovation

The Ciro was born out of a two-fold need: a way to clean cannabis smoking apparatus and support her family as they worked through farming bureaucracy, Costa says.

“Many small farmers in the Emerald Triangle didn’t make it through the oppressive red tape and permitting costs of legalization after Prop 64,” Costa says. “Many farmers and their families had to pivot and find other ways to provide for their families.”

Costa is a skilled electrical engineer who spent part of her 20s rewiring airports in the South Pacific. She’s married to a legacy farmer and has spent years overseeing trim crews, tinkering with inventive ways to clean resinous apparatus. Costa built the first Ciro prototype using a thrift store cake pan as Exhibit A to her resourcefulness.

Cordoni is a San Francisco native and accomplished business builder, managing and coaching teams at various Fortune 500 companies and cannabis startups. Her passion for nurturing cradle-to-cradle product development extends into developing profitable businesses that prioritize protecting people and the environment.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished with Ciro,” Costa says. “We have the potential to provide a less wasteful and healthier cleaning and consumption experience for the cannabis community.”

Ciro has launched for pre-sale on Indiegogo. A pledge of $185 reserves one Ciro + accessories at 26% off the retail price of $250. Multiple packs are available for dispensaries at a more generous discount. To see Ciro in action, or to pre-purchase a unit, visit @ciro_humboldt.

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Myth or Truth: Do different Alcoholic Drinks Cause Different Drunk Experiences?

Have you ever wondered why different alcoholic drinks will make you feel a different kind of drunk. Why does beer chill you out but gin makes you angry? Why does wine cause you to have deep chats but vodka makes you sad? Some will argue that there’s no logic behind this, that it’s simply the amount of alcohol within the drinks and the speed at which you metabolise them. But maybe there’s more going on here. Maybe there’s more in the science that differentiates alcoholic drinks than we think. As always, we’re going to delve into the truth and flesh it out. Let’s go. 

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol – whether we like to hear it or not – is technically a drug. So don’t think you’re not taking drugs when you sip on that vodka and coke. You are. Alcohol, or ethyl alcohol, is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that can produce a range of effects on the brain and body, depending on the type of alcohol consumed and the amount consumed. Other drugs that join the depressant or downer club include ketamine or GHB. These kinds of substances are known for specific effects:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Relaxed feelings
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Enhanced mood

Sound familiar? Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that is widely consumed in various forms around the world. It is produced by the fermentation of sugars or starches, which is a process that occurs when yeast or bacteria consume the sugars and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide as by-products. The alcohol content of beverages can vary greatly, with some containing only a small amount, while others have a high concentration.


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There are several types of alcohol – many will experience them all in one evening – but the most commonly consumed form is ethyl alcohol, or ethanol. Ethanol is the main active ingredient in alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, and spirits. It is responsible for the intoxicating effects that are associated with drinking alcohol.

Legality

Alcoholism causes 140,000 deaths in the US every year, yet it still remains a legal substance. On the other hand, cannabis kills essentially 0 people every year and there are still several states yet to legalize it. So why is alcohol dealt with differently to other drugs? The Conversation writes:

“The main reason why alcohol remains legal in the U.S. – despite mounting evidence of the harm it can cause – is that banning it a century ago failed… Prohibition initially helped reduce alcohol consumption. But it also bolstered the illegal liquor trade. This practice, called “bootlegging,” created new problems.”

This theory makes sense, until you consider that there is a black market for all illegal drugs. So why have substances like cocaine or ecstacy been legalized? Nonetheless, due to the fact that alcohol is illegal basically everywhere in the world, it has meant that money has been within the industry for a long time. In fact, the global market worth of the alcohol industry hit 1.45 trillion dollars in 2021. Where there is money, there is innovation, hence why there are so many different kinds of alcoholic drinks. Not only are there varying types of alcohol, but there are also hundreds of brands. It is no surprise, with all of the diverse options, that people start to wonder if one alcoholic drink can cause different effects than another. But is this just a myth?

Different Alcoholic Drinks, Different Effects

There are several theories both for and against the theory that different alcoholic drinks can cause different effects. Some believe it’s a placebo and psychological, whilst others claim there’s truth to it.

Reasons in Support

Different types of alcohol can cause different experiences due to variations in their chemical structures, metabolism, and effects on the brain and body. Ethanol, the type of alcohol commonly found in alcoholic beverages, is a simple molecule consisting of a hydroxyl group attached to a carbon atom. The molecular structure of different types of alcohols, however, can vary greatly. In addition, the way that alcohol is broken down in the system can also affect the experience it produces. The rate at which it is metabolised can vary depending on a person’s liver.

If alcohol is absorbed quicker, this could manifest itself as a different drunk experience. With less intense drinks – such as beer – we tend to drink more of it. This can be quite a dehydrating experience, needing to consume more to get drunk. This can trigger tiredness or a more relaxed feeling. Spirits, on the other hand, have a higher percentage and thus are usually drunk slower. The intensity of the higher percentage drinks can cause more energy. Suddenly, alcohol becomes a stimulant, rather than a depressant. Perhaps this is why Tequila makes you crazy but Fosters makes you sleepy?

Reasons Against

Let’s be honest here, ethanol is ethanol. Alcohol is alcohol. How can there really be different effects from different alcohols? Whilst there has been limited research into this, the mainstream school of thought is that the theory is a myth. Instead, scientists prefer to think about the idea of expectancy. Dru Jaeger writes:

“Expectancy is a psychological term for a predictable relationship between an external stimulus and our response to it. At its simplest, your expectation of what will happen can shape your experience of what happens. So what you expect to happen when you drink can change what actually happens in practice.”

A recent study of 30,000 people found that people attach different emotions to different alcohols. However, these are believed to be caused by this idea of expectancy. Throughout life we find reasons to believe that different drinks make us feel differently – this is based on certain factors. Ultimately, it’s our mindset. Like with the set and setting idea and psychedelic drugs, how we feel before drinking can dictate our experience. If we drink wine when we’re relaxed, it’ll probably make us feel more relaxed. If we drink spirits to go out, we’ll probably feel energetic. If we drink beer to chill out, we’ll probably feel sleepy. You see what’s happening here? The alcohol itself isn’t changing, but the way we feel towards it is. The Conversation writes: 

“The direct effects of alcohol are the same whether you drink wine, beer or spirits. There’s no evidence that different types of alcohol cause different mood states. People aren’t even very good at recognising their mood states when they have been drinking.”

It seems that the evidence is pointing towards this theory being a myth. It’s a bit like people saying that different sweets cause different sugar highs. Of course there are foods that have more intense portions of sugar, but this doesn’t mean that it’s causing an entirely alternative experience. The mixture of varying levels of alcohol, alongside this idea of expectancy, is what gives people the impression of a different kind of drunk. With this in mind, it’s not the alcoholic drink that is different, it is us. 

Final Thoughts on different alcoholic drinks

I myself have wondered at points why some alcoholic drinks do seem to give me different – let’s say – vibes. I’ve experienced feeling chill on wine and beer, but more energetic on spirits. Although, at the same time, now that I think of it, I’ve also experienced having intense arguments after a bottle of red wine. I also remember first drinking beer and feeling invincible.

It seems that it isn’t the alcohol that is changing, it’s my attitude towards it. Thus it seems that the theory has been deemed a myth, doesn’t it? Although, on the other hand, if we believe it to be true, then doesn’t that make it true? In other words, if our attitudes towards different alcoholic drinks can change how we feel they affect us, then maybe that’s enough to give a bit more credit to this theory. Who cares what’s causing it? It’s still happening, right?

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FDA Will Not Regulate CBD

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will not regulate CBD after a “careful review” of the subject. Instead, the FDA is asking Congress to create a regulatory system that balances “risk” with access to CBD products. This announcement hasn’t changed the status of CBD products, which are legal but not regulated as food or dietary supplements. Some businesses were disappointed to hear that the FDA will not regulate CBD. Many people associate the federal bureaucracy with consumer-friendly standards and […]

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Are We Too Stoned To See an Impending Alien Invasion?

It was March 1998, and I was driving northbound on Highway 41 just south of Princeton, Indiana when three bright white, yellowish orbs appeared in the distance above a nearby cornfield. The abrupt nature of such an unexpected sight terrified all who witnessed it. I know this because tires were screeching all around me, as vehicles in both lanes slammed on their brakes, much like I did, as soon as they saw the lights. Every motorist, I presume, gripped their steering wheels in a wild-eyed panic while skidding all over the road trying to avoid crashing into the vehicle in front of them. By the time the boisterous brouhaha had finally subsided, the orbs were hovering directly in front of us in a triangular formation. We now had bigger problems.

What was strange, aside from the obvious, is that these things didn’t appear to fly into the area – not like you might see with an Earth-born aircraft. They just sort of materialized there in the night sky, like they had transported from God knows where to that precise spot in the world. It was eerie, man. One second, everything on that stretch of road was moving along just like any other day and then Boom! Me and a bunch of hicks were suddenly in an episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s not every day that mysterious orbs show up in Podunk, so there were plenty of questions. For starters, what the heck were these things and where did they come from? I had a few guesses.

Sitting there, I began to consider that they may have been part of a brand-spanking new nuclear kill machine being tested by the United States government. “Go ahead and try that mutha out over Southern Indiana, boys. Nobody’s going to miss a few rednecks.” Perhaps, too, I contemplated intently, it was a rogue spy satellite that slipped down into plain sight. Yeah, or maybe it was the second coming, the rapture, and all of us out there on the highway cussing up a storm trying not to do anything to sabotage our car insurance rates were going to be the first of the heathens dragged to hell. I didn’t hear any trumpets. I did, however, see a woman praying her ass off from the passenger seat of a Toyota Camry. “Better safe than sorry,” I thought. It finally occurred to me that, more likely than not, what we were witnessing was alien spacecraft from another freaking planet. As unbelievable as that might sound, what else could it be?

Then, just as I was about to get out of the car to take a better look, the craft, seemingly poking fun at the melee on the road beneath them, got a case of the zoomies. What the fu… I had never seen anything move like that in my life. The orbs whipped around the sky, this way and that, all erratic and at a speed that I can’t even begin to articulate. They were fast and effortless, as if space ninjas from unfathomable depths geeked out of their minds on stardust and amphetamines. They were floating all steady and stationery one second, not budging a stinking inch, the next, they were zigzagging all over the place – up, down, forward, backward, sideways, and then up and down again – in perfect symphonic unison, like a flock of horny hummingbirds. Nothing you can possibly imagine moves with such precision. And I mean nothing.

I sat there in awe of whatever they were, mind totally blown, watching what I presumed to be extraterrestrials zipping around the sticks searching for some poor, unsuspecting farmer to probe. At least I hoped they were looking for a farmer. I sure as hell didn’t want to be the recipient of a cosmic colonic. No way, Jose. I didn’t need authorities finding me a week later naked in the woods with a sore asshole, scratching a bunch of prime numbers into a maple tree. I had enough problems. Fortunately, the UFO didn’t stick around long enough to introduce us to interplanetary proctology. For that, I was thankful. Just like they were being catapulted into another dimension, the orbs abruptly shot out of the area like a bat out of hell. All that remained, as far as I could see, was a smudge of light that burned into the sky for miles.

The orbs were long gone, hauling interstellar ass to their next destination. I knew, at that moment, everything I had ever been taught about human existence was a big ol’ dirty sham. Aliens were real, and we were not alone. Considering that hundreds of UFO sightings were reported in the area that week, many others, just like me, were also left in a quizzical state of what the fuck. About a month later, the sighting was mentioned on local television station WTVW Fox 7 News, but the verdict left a lot to be desired. After contacting officials with NORAD, the FAA and various other agencies nobody had any answers. As far as the watchers could tell, nothing was supposed to be in the sky that night. It wasn’t a plane, and it wasn’t a military exercise. 

But was it aliens?

Fast forward twenty-five years, and UFO sightings or “UAP” (unidentified aerial phenomena), as they are referred to by the U.S. military, are as frequent as an old man’s bladder and well documented too. Although people who reported UFOs were once considered whack jobs and conspiracy theorists, most people know by now exactly what I’m talking about when I mention the triangle formation that I saw in ’98. They’ve either witnessed it for themselves or seen footage through the many documentaries that have been made about this phenomenon. “I saw that same thing a couple of years ago,” Jason, a 34-year-old from San Diego, California, told High Times. “They hovered above the ocean for a while and left streaks of light when they moved.”

Chances are, you’ve seen a UFO too.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence admits the federal government has received over 500 new reports of UFOs since March of 2021. This in addition to the 140 sightings that still has the Pentagon baffled to beat the band. Some of the reports, as we have come to expect, have been debunked – found to be drones or trash – while others remain a mystery. Roughly 350 cannot be explained, and hundreds more will likely be added to the list before the end of the year. 

There’s a UFO spotted almost every day in the United States and whatever weird, beady-eyed bastards are in the driver’s seat, whisking around the globe and always thwarting capture, are none too shy about making their presence known. What’s peculiar about that, even oddly curious, is these sightings are increasing in frequency with each passing year. Some say it’s a sign that the world is on the verge of collapse. Others think aliens, if that’s what we’re seeing, are just inquisitive. I, on the other hand, suspect the heavy UFO presence has something to do with weed. 

After all, the uptick in UFO sightings seems to have picked up momentum right around the time the U.S. started legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and over. Perhaps aliens caught a whiff of weed during one of their missions and now, after decades of being somewhat aloof, they’re looking to party. Hell, it’s easy to see how we’ve piqued their interest. Drive through any legal state and the odor of marijuana is king. Weed is the unofficial state smell in places like California, New York, and even Illinois. Even in areas of prohibition, like Indiana, my stomping grounds, the scent of skunk wafts through the air so aggressively these days that some of us can’t even remember what the outdoors used to smell like before. Perhaps all the pot smoke drifting around has finally reached outer space, giving the extraterrestrials just enough of a contact buzz to not only show a renewed interest in our little fucked up part of the universe, but show it without fear. 

Yep, alien ships may have started habitually showing themselves all over the country simply because there’s a lot more marijuana being smoked down here than when their ancestors first started coming around. It’s possible that a recent radio signal captured by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India from nine billion light years away might hold the answers. Scientists are, of course, champing at the bit to try and decipher the message to see if it holds any secrets of the universe. They may, however, be extremely disappointed to learn that the communication is just some otherworldly being scouring the vastness of the macrocosm for a plug. “Take me to your dealer.”

Then again, maybe there’s a dark side to their arrival. Yesiree, the winds of change do, in fact, reek of weed, quite possibly enough to give our interstellar counterparts reason to believe that we, as a people, have abandoned all hope and are now resolved to just letting the good times roll until the world is pulled off life support. Watching from above, these creatures have likely stood in shock and awe seeing some of the more enthusiastic stoners curled up in a ball after consuming too many edibles, begging for someone to call 911. They’ve also almost assuredly witnessed, on more than one occasion, some overzealous cannabis aficionados gripping the toilet bowl after one too many dab hits. We’re a mess. How could space beings not be out there contemplating the stability of the high human race? Rest assured, if the aliens are curious about anything as it pertains to humankind, it has nothing to do with our intellect or civility. It’s how we continue to thrive, hate, and lead unrelenting oppressions against our fellow man from the drive-thru of a Taco Bell. 

But then again, maybe they’re really impressed with our ability to smoke copious amounts of weed and remain functional. Even if we are undoubtedly cut from less intelligent DNA, there’s still a good chance that we can be friends. That is unless they see this newfound stoner state of mind as an opportunity to dish out spinning anal probes of torture. Pain beyond pain. All of humanity writhing in agony. It’s payback, bitches, for what Uncle Sam and his doom legion did to their homies in Roswell back in 1947. Sure, nobody really knows the extent of the government’s fuckery back then, but people like Area-51 whistleblower Bob Lazar are of the opinion that we roughed up whatever beings were in the wreckage and got them to spill their guts for the sake of advancing our technological endeavors and taking control of the world. Without alien knowledge, it is presumed, the U.S. wouldn’t be as advanced as we are today. So, it goes without saying that their plot for revenge has been a long time coming. I suspect these beings, wherever they’re from, don’t give a good goddamn about the Geneva Convention or what is considered cruel and unusual punishment. There’ll be an orgy of ultra-violence in the streets, and no that’s not a metaphor. I hope you’re ready.

Listen, this is the reason that the uptick in UFO sightings should be rocking the nation to its core. If these elusive fuckers are technologically advanced enough to defy physics, as we understand it, and essentially transport from one location to another – maybe even through time – we can’t even begin to fathom the horrific ugliness they could potentially rain down. Oh well, let’s just get stoned. Yeah, like, don’t sweat the small stuff. It is what it is, man. We all have to die sometime. 

The population has grown so cavalier toward the concept of UFOs and aliens – many still don’t believe it’s possible they even exist – despite the fact that these impressive crafts have been witnessed countless times by military pilots, become part of controversial Congressional investigations, and even spurred NASA involvement. Hey, somebody’s driving these things! Don’t you want to know who? No, nobody cares. We’ve survived COVID, and weed is legal, and the industry has been deemed essential. We’re high as balls, so nothing about an alien invasion scares us. 

In the eyes of the American public, UFOs have lost their cachet. We’ve lost interest beyond trying to capture some footage of one to post on TikTok. Never mind that their presence on Earth could get wild enough to make us all regret the day we were born. Even folks who’ve always just assumed that strange-looking beings would eventually crawl out of one of these spastic spheres don’t seem all that worried that they might do so wielding a powerful interstellar laser-bullet doomsday device with enough dinosaur-killing fury to castrate half of Texas in one fell swoop. Jeez, what’s wrong with us? Not just with respect to our pitiful concern for alien carnage, but anything of substance, for that matter. Are we so stoned these days that we’ve allowed ourselves to become desensitized to the coming of nothingness? Are we too high to care that some green men with really long fingers could show up and turn us all into sex slaves? Or have we all bought into enough biblical bullshit in our time to find solace in the fact that no matter how we die, we’re all going to a better place? Well, farts. I’m not part of that tribe. Faith has no place where there’s a significant threat of a metagalactic colonoscopy. Perhaps instead of producing weed strong enough to mimic brain death, we should be working to grow an herb that allows us to communicate with these fuckers and get them to calm down. I, for one, want to send them a strong message: I don’t have a problem with you dudes. Oh sure, there will be those, like Cheech Marin, who think I’m just being a paranoid pothead, that if these beings wanted the hind ends of humanity on a stick, they would have stuck it in there long ago. Yet, I suspect that these creatures are playing a long game, one chock full of psychological warfare. Truth be told, despite the prevalence of UFOs today, we still don’t know anything more about them or what’s behind the wheel than we did in the beginning. And that was precisely jack squat. They could be friendly, they could be monsters. They could also be looking for love or wanting to get high. My advice, for what it is worth, is to keep a stash nearby just in case.  

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Poll: Majority Support Legalization in Hawaii

More than half of Hawaii residents believe it is time for the state to change its laws and legalize recreational cannabis use for adults, according to a new poll from a marijuana trade organization released this week. 

The survey, released on Tuesday from the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association (HICIA), found that 52% in the Pacific island state are in favor of legalizing adult-use marijuana, compared with only 31% who said they are opposed.

Fifteen percent of Hawaii residents said they neither support nor oppose legalization. 

“Reasons for support are varied, but tend to center on social and economic benefits, the belief that citizens should have the ability to choose what to do with their bodies, and the fact that cannabis is perceived to be safe, especially compared to prescription drugs. Reasons for opposition are equally varied, but focus on the perception that society may be harmed, the belief that cannabis itself is harmful (and a potential gateway to other drugs), and insistence that cannabis will be abused if legalized,” the pollsters wrote in their analysis.

“Political candidates are unlikely to be affected by support for recreational cannabis legislation, especially if their districts are comprised of sociopolitical groups that are more inclined to support legalization,” they continued. “Thirty percent of residents indicated they would be more likely to support a candidate who supported legalizing adult recreational use, compared to 26 percent who would be less likely to support a candidate who espoused that same view. Nearly 40 percent of residents, however, indicated that a candidate’s view on legalization doesn’t make much of a difference in their vote. A majority of residents believe regulations are important. Ninety-three percent of residents stated an age limit was either very important or somewhat important, 83 percent indicated limits on quantity purchased and prohibitions of use in public places was important, and 81 percent thought it was important that cannabis products were taxed. Slightly less importance was attached to limits on dispensary locations (72%) and number of dispensaries (67%).”

A Democratic lawmaker in Hawaii filed legislation last month to legalize recreational cannabis use in the state.

“We all know, and Hawaii’s people know, that it is high time to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults in Hawaii. This year we stand on the precipice of history,” state House Rep. Jeanné Kapela said at an event announcing the legislation last month. 

 “Following the recommendations of a task force devoted to addressing cannabis policy, we now have a roadmap for legalizing recreational cannabis in our islands,” Kapela added.

According to the poll that was released this week, “a larger proportion of residents believe legalization can produce positive social and economic outcomes compared to those who think legalization will produce negative outcomes.”

“For example, 54 percent of residents believe legalization would be good for the economy compared to 16 percent who believe it will be bad. Forty-five percent of residents believe legalization would produce significant tax revenue, compared to 36 percent who believe it would generate small tax revenue,” the pollsters wrote. “Forty-four percent believe it would reduce the burden on Hawaii’s criminal justice system while 38 percent believe it would not reduce the burden. From a social justice perspective, 42 percent believe legalization would help those groups who have historically been negatively impacted by cannabis laws; just 21 percent believe legalization would hurt those same groups. In terms of overall impact, 34 percent believe legalization of adult recreational use would be beneficial to the residents of the state, 23 percent believe it would be harmful, and the largest single group (37%) believe legalization would produce both benefit and harm.”

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Connecticut Locals Protest Cannabis Facility Near Schools

Local news station WFSB reports that the facility, which is being built in New Britain, Connecticut, will be “close to five schools, some of which are less than a mile away.”

Locals in New Britain are concerned about that proximity, citing the expected odor from the new cultivation center. 

“How should we explain to our children who want to play outside what that smell is? How should the teachers at [the schools] explain to their students that the city is more concerned with revenue than their own health and wellbeing,” New Britain resident Shelley Vincenzo told the station

“I’m not against marijuana, we know the goods and the bad for it. What I’m against is having that kind of establishment in a community that’s been trying to thrive and trying to build into something that’s better than marijuana,” said Franciso Santiago, also of New Britain, as quoted by WFSB.

But all those objections are apparently moot, as “the proposal still passed with the amendment that the developers must install and maintain an odor control mitigation system approved by the department of public health.”

The construction developer behind the project “says an odor control plan will be submitted to the city,” according to the station.

Legal recreational cannabis sales kicked off in Connecticut last month after the state’s Democratic governor, Ned Lamont, signed legislation ending the prohibition on pot back in 2021. The Associated Press reported that state-approved “shops in Branford, Meriden, Montville, New Haven, Newington, Stamford and Willimantic were expected to open their doors to the general public on the first day,” with another two dispensaries “in Danbury and Torrington” slated to open later.

“That’s why I introduced a bill and worked hard with our partners in the legislature and other stakeholders to create a comprehensive framework for a securely regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, social justice, and equity. It will help eliminate the dangerous unregulated market and support a new, growing sector of our economy which will create jobs,” Lamont said in a statement at the time of the bill signing. “By allowing adults to possess cannabis, regulating its sale and content, training police officers in the latest techniques of detecting and preventing impaired driving, and expunging the criminal records of people with certain cannabis crimes, we’re not only effectively modernizing our laws and addressing inequities, we’re keeping Connecticut economically competitive with our neighboring states.” 

On the day that legal sales began in Connecticut last month, Lamont said that it marked “a turning point in the injustices caused by the war on drugs, most notably now that there is a legal alternative to the dangerous, unregulated, underground market for cannabis sales.”

In addition to laying the groundwork for a regulated retail cannabis market, the new law put thousands of Connecticut adults on the road to having their records cleared.

Lamont announced in December that about 44,000 individuals would be getting their low-level marijuana convictions expunged in the new year.

“On January 1, thousands of people in Connecticut will have low-level cannabis convictions automatically erased due to the cannabis legalization bill we enacted last year,” Lamont said. “Especially as Connecticut employers seek to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings, an old conviction for low-level cannabis possession should not hold someone back from pursuing their career, housing, professional, and educational aspirations.”

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Republican Congressman Reintroduces Bill To Move Cannabis to Schedule III

As many advocates are pushing for decriminalization and completely descheduling cannabis at the federal level, one Republican congressman is pushing to simply downgrade cannabis from schedule I to schedule III, which would allow for research to move forward at a faster pace and provide several other perks.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Florida) reintroduced a bill as H.R. 610 or the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act on Jan. 27, about four years after filing a similar bill previously, along with seven other bills, according to a press release

The bill would direct the Attorney General of the United States to amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to move cannabis from schedule I to schedule III of the Act—within 60 days of the bill’s enactment.

The bill doesn’t go as far as others that would end the federal prohibition of cannabis via decriminalization or other routes. However, the bill would protect federal employees who consume cannabis, as only Schedule I or II substances are prohibited. It would also free cannabis businesses affected by Tax Code 280E, and make research a lot more feasible.

Rep. Steube filed a similar bill on Sept. 12, 2019, the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act of 2019, which would also downgrade cannabis from schedule 1 to allow for more possibilities in research.

“As marijuana is legalized for medical and recreational use across the United States, it is important that we study the effects of the substance and the potential impacts it can have on various populations,” Congressman Steube said in 2019. “By rescheduling marijuana from a schedule I controlled substance to a schedule III controlled substance, the opportunities for research and study are drastically expanded. With this rescheduling, researchers can now access federal funds to research this substance and determine its medical value.”

The congressman acknowledged that research on cannabis is currently hampered under current conditions.

“We hear every day about the positive health benefits of marijuana. Whether it’s young children with seizure disorders, or veterans suffering from chronic pain, it is clear that there are medical benefits to marijuana and I think it’s time we remove the bureaucratic red tape that prevents us from thoroughly studying this substance,” continued Steube.

The discordant nature of state cannabis laws versus federal law makes such a bill a step, albeit rather small, in the right direction.

President Joe Biden directed an administrative review into the possibilities of rescheduling cannabis under the CSA. 

Rep. Steube’s other bills which were announced at the same time as the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act include one that would strip Disney of copyright protections and specifically target what he calls “big tech” and “woke” organizations, per the announcement. 

“The Republican majority in the 118th Congress is working to make our government accountable to the people,” said Rep. Steube. “I am reintroducing eight bills that will remove special privileges for Big Tech and woke organizations, cut taxes for Americans and prevent their money from being spent on cruel dog testing, and hold our government accountable while improving efficiency!” 

Rep. Streube also takes a controversial stance on other matters such as transgender rights, and pushed to allow guns in airports and add mandatory-minimum sentences for drug trafficking. His 2017 bill would have pushed for stricter sentences for the sale, manufacture, and delivery of cannabis and other drugs. 

On Jan. 27 the bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be determined by the Speaker.

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Washington, D.C. Mayor Signs Medical Pot Bill

The recently passed bill, called the Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 (B24-0113), was sponsored by Chairman Phil Mendelson of the Washington, D.C. Council in February 2021. The Washington, D.C. Council voted unanimously to pass on Dec. 20, 2022, followed by Bowser signing the bill on Jan. 30, just two days before a response was due on Feb. 1.

The bill expands the capital’s medical cannabis program in many ways, including lifting the cap on dispensaries, creating new license types, and codifies emergency measures passed in 2021 and 2022.

Originally the amendment proposed implementing an increased cap on dispensaries, but was later revised to include no maximum number (although the Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Board is given the power to establish a cap one year from the passage of the bill in January 2024).

It also authorizes the creation of more cannabis license types, including cannabis delivery services, online sales, educational programs, and areas dedicated to cannabis consumption. “At least half” of all licenses given to currently unlicensed businesses will be given to social equity applicants (defined as those who are D.C. residents with low income, have spent time in prison for cannabis-related charges, or are related to someone who was affected by the War on Drugs).

Medical cannabis was legalized in Washington D.C. in 2010, and an attempt to legalize adult-use cannabis was passed by voters in 2014 through Initiative 71. While it allows possess of up to two ounces of cannabis and home cultivation, it also allows adults to gift up to one ounce of weed to another adult, which created the loophole of gifting (or a way to get around cannabis sale restrictions by selling merch or apparel with a gift of cannabis for free). The Medical Cannabis Amendment Act of 2022 seeks to target those unlicensed businesses, giving them a path to obtain a legal license.

The act also codifies emergency measures that were implemented for cannabis. This includes the emergency measure that provides support for Washington, D.C. patients with expired cards and help struggling dispensaries as well, which was passed in November 2021. In July 2022, Bowser signed a bill allowing adults to self-certify themselves as medical cannabis patients.

Overall, enforcement action related to these changes won’t be implemented until 315 days have passed since the signing of the bill, which would be later this year in December. It also needs congressional review before officially taking effect.

Also recently in Washington, D.C., Mendelson the Second Chance Amendment Act of 2021 (B24-0063) is under congressional review. This would implement automatic expungement through “automatic sealing for non-dangerous, non-convictions as well as shorten the waiting periods before a person is eligible to seal their record. It would also expand the eligibility of who can seal their record.” All expungements would need to be processed before Jan. 1, 2025. If congress doesn’t make a move against the bill, its projected law date is set for March 16, 2023.

Mendelson also recently introduced another bill (B25-0052) on Jan. 19, which aims to legalize adult-use cannabis sales. The proposal includes a “Reparations for Victims of the War on Cannabis Fund,” which would offer anywhere between $5,000 to $80,000 to pay those who were negatively affected by cannabis criminalization. It also includes a “Cannabis Equity and Opportunity Fund,” which would gather up 40% of revenue to go toward loans or grants for applicants affected by criminalization. Additionally, the bill details a plan to reinvest cannabis tax revenue into community services such as mental health treatments and youth development.

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