Pittsburgh Advocates Unite To Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania’s second-largest city, advocates are busy working to legalize adult-use cannabis.

Last month, two lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 846 to legalize adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania. The bill currently waits for review from the Senate Law and Justice Committee for further deliberation. Next Pittsburgh reports that advocates at a local Pittsburgh branch of NORML are gearing up for legalization efforts in the state.

“This is a much bigger issue than just cannabis—it’s about giving people the right to be able to find health and wellness in the way that they want to and to not have to feel like the government will tell them how they’re allowed to heal,” says Gina Vensel, a cannabis educator and advocate in the area. Vensel is also on the executive committee of Pittsburgh NORML, the Pittsburgh branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

SB 846 is a bipartisan effort and was spearheaded by Sens. Daniel Laughlin and Sharif Street. The bill would establish a Cannabis Regulatory Control Board, and allow adults 21 and over to purchase cannabis from retail locations. It would additionally allow medical cannabis cardholders to grow cannabis at home. Lastly it would expunge nonviolent cannabis-related convictions.

“Legalized adult use of marijuana is supported by an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians and this legislation accomplishes that while also ensuring safety and social equity,” Laughlin said in a statement. “With neighboring states New Jersey and New York implementing adult use, we have a duty to Pennsylvania taxpayers to legalize adult use marijuana to avoid losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars of new tax revenue and thousands of new jobs.”

Problems Remain in Pittsburgh

High Times reported in 2018 that Solevo Wellness was the city’s first medical dispensary, and is the fourth operating medical cannabis dispensary in the entire state of Pennsylvania. The process of establishing, licensing, and opening Solevo Wellness took about 18 months. The company credits much of their success in obtaining the proper permits to their hired industry consultant, Sara Gullickson.

Pittsburgh, located in Allegheny County, decriminalized cannabis in 2015. Part of the policy shift involved giving law enforcement a choice between arresting people for suspected cannabis offenses or simply giving them a citation. Further downstream the criminal legal system, prosecutors in Pennsylvania’s major cities enacted “decline to prosecute” policies for minor cannabis cases that went to trial.

Despite decriminalization locally, arrests for cannabis increased since Pittsburgh enacted decriminalization policies. Many officers at police departments are having a hard time letting go of the old policy, continuing to arrest rather than ticket suspected offenders.

 Analyzing all the criminal dockets filed in Allegheny County from 2016 to 2017, The Appeal broke down the 2,100-some cases where the top charge was possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis. They also looked at the thousands of arrests for minor possession police made over the same period.

Of the 2,100-plus cannabis-related cases in Allegheny County where the defendant received a misdemeanor possession charge, 51 percent of the people charged were Black. According to the most recent U.S. census data from 2017, 13.4 percent of all Allegheny residents are Black. And the dramatic racial disparity across the county is even more acute in Pittsburgh: Black people were charged in more than 400 of the 600 cases filed by the Pittsburgh Police Department. Black people comprised two-thirds of all cannabis cases in the city, despite representing just 24.3 percent of the city’s population. In other words, Pittsburgh police charged Black people for cannabis twice as much as white people.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Decriminalization

On a few notable occasions, Pittsburgh Pirate games provided a stage for decriminalization efforts and awareness.

Wiz Khalifa, a Pittsburgh native, is an advocate for both cannabis and psilocybin. He tossed the ceremonial first pitch on Monday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Guardians. “Finna get stoned af and throw this first pitch at the pirates game,” he tweeted, before following it up with more specifics. “Shroomed out throwin a baseball is crazy,” Wiz said in another tweet moments later.

Former Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis pulled off a pitch on acid as well on June 12, 1970. 

It was on that day that Ellis reputedly threw a no-hitter while tripping on LSD. 

“According to Ellis (and, it should be noted, all of this is according to Ellis), he went to visit a friend in Los Angeles the day before his start, took some acid and stayed up late into the night drinking and doing drugs, subsequently losing track of which day it was,” Sports Illustrated wrote in 2017. “The day of his start, he woke up and, thinking he was supposed to pitch the next day, took another hit of acid at noon, only to learn two hours later from his friend that he was, in fact, supposed to be on the mound against the Padres that evening in San Diego. Ellis got on a plane an hour later and made it to the park 90 minutes before first pitch.”

For the time being, advocates in the city remain busy at work.

The post Pittsburgh Advocates Unite To Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis in Pennsylvania appeared first on High Times.

U.S. Lawmakers File Bill To Ease Federal Employment Restrictions On Cannabis Use

A bipartisan pair of U.S. lawmakers last week introduced legislation to ease federal employment restrictions on cannabis use that deny employment opportunities for past and current marijuana users. The bill, titled the Cannabis Users Restoration of Eligibility (CURE) Act, was introduced on July 27 by Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Representative Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Carolina who has been an outspoken supporter of federal cannabis policy reform.

“Every year, qualified and dedicated individuals seeking to serve our country are unable to secure federal jobs and security clearances because the federal government has not caught up with the widely established legal use of medical and recreational cannabis,” Raskin said in a statement on Friday. “I am proud to partner with my friend Representative Mace to introduce the bipartisan CURE Act that will eliminate the draconian, failed and obsolete marijuana policies that prevent talented individuals from becoming honorable public servants in their own government.”

If passed, the CURE Act would prevent past or current marijuana use from being the basis for an applicant being found unsuitable for federal employment or the denial of a security clearance for federal workers. The legislation would also be applied retroactively, allowing workers or applicants who have been denied employment or a security clearance to appeal such denials.

“For too long, the federal government has been denying Americans civil service opportunities solely because of its outdated attitudes toward cannabis and those who consume it,” said Morgan Fox, political director at the cannabis policy reform group the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Denying these millions of Americans consideration for employment and security clearances is discriminatory and it unnecessarily shrinks the talent pool available for these important jobs. NORML commends the sponsors for working to undo this policy and replace it with fair and sensible hiring and clearance practices that will put America on much stronger footing on the global stage.”

Bill Endorsed By Justice Groups

The CURE Act has been endorsed by justice reform advocates and cannabis industry groups including the Drug Policy Alliance, the Due Process Institute, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), NORML and the U.S. Cannabis Council.

“Millions of patriotic, conscientious Americans use cannabis legally each year, but they are consistently penalized by outdated federal regulations,” said Ed Conklin, executive director of the U.S. Cannabis Council. “We strongly support the CURE Act because it will bring federal employment policies into line with the views of most Americans. Cannabis use should never prevent a qualified candidate from serving his or her country as a federal employee.”

The bipartisan bill is not the first effort to ease employment discrimination against cannabis users seeking a job with the federal government. In 2021, the federal Office of Personnel Management, an agency that sets “suitability” standards to determine whether an individual is fit to serve in a federal position, issued new guidance to clarify that past marijuana use should not automatically disqualify applicants or appointees from most U.S. government jobs. However, the agency emphasized that marijuana is still considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Additionally, the Drug-Free Workplace executive order of 1986 requires federal employees to refrain from using illegal drugs at all times.

“An individual’s disregard of federal law pertaining to marijuana while employed by the federal government remains relevant and may lead to disciplinary action,” the OPM wrote in the 2021 memo. “It is important to note that it is also the policy of the federal government to offer appropriate prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programs and services for federal civilian employees with drug problems.”

Also in 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which sets security standards for access to classified information, issued new guidance to clarify that past marijuana use should not be the sole reason someone is denied a security clearance. The guidance stresses that the illegal use of any controlled substances “can raise security concerns about an individual’s reliability and trustworthiness to access classified information or to hold a sensitive position, as well as their ability or willingness to comply with laws, rules, and regulations.”

However, the guidelines also instruct agencies that prior recreational marijuana use by an individual “may be relevant to adjudications but not determinative” in issuing a security clearance. The guidance references a 2017 security directive that tells agencies to apply the “whole person concept” to the decision for granting a security clearance.

“There are many talented and dedicated people who have used cannabis and want to serve their country,” said Terry Blevins, a former civilian investigator for the Department of Defense, Arizona police sergeant, and LEAP board member. “Compromising recruitment by our federal agencies with antiquated cannabis laws makes our nation less safe in the face of security threats we face globally.”

The post U.S. Lawmakers File Bill To Ease Federal Employment Restrictions On Cannabis Use appeared first on High Times.

Cannabis Arrests Down as DEA Seizes Six Million Plants in 2022

The US Drug Enforcement Administration and its law enforcement partners arrested fewer people for cannabis-related offenses in 2022 compared to the previous year, according to annual data from the federal agency. The DEA also seized nearly 6 million cannabis plants from illicit marijuana grows across the country last year, slightly more than the number of illegal cannabis plants seized by federal law enforcement officers in 2021.

According to the DEA’s yearly Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program Statistical Report, the agency and its law enforcement partners confiscated 5.7 million marijuana plants through its nationwide eradication operations, an increase of 3% over last year’s total. Federal interdiction operations also resulted in the confiscation of approximately 37,000 THC-infused edible products and about 60,000 cannabis concentrates.

According to the annual report from the DEA, the agency’s cannabis eradication efforts in 2022 were “responsible for the eradication of 4,435,859 illegally cultivated outdoor cannabis plants and 1,245,980 illegally cultivated indoor plants for a total of 5,681,839 illegally cultivated marijuana plants. The program also removed 2,840 weapons from cannabis cultivators.”

Most Cannabis Plants Seized in More Than a Decade

The number of cannabis plants seized by the DEA in 2022 is the highest total since 2011. Since that year, seizures had steadily declined before spiking in 2021, when the agency eradicated more than 5.5 million cannabis plants. Arrests for cannabis-related offenses were down, however, with 5,061 arrests in 2022 compared to 6,606 in 2021, a reduction of 24% year to year. Federal agents and their local law enforcement partners also reported the seizure of $45 million in assets in 2022 as part of the agency’s nationwide interdiction program, less than half of the $103 million seized the year before

Morgan Fox, the political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said that cannabis interdictions and arrests remain high even though 38 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories have approved comprehensive medical marijuana legalization statutes and 23 states have ended the prohibition on marijuana for adults.

“The reasons we are still seeing relatively high levels of marijuana eradication and interdiction are simple,” Fox said in a statement from NORML. “Despite considerable state-level progress, more than half of all US states continue to ban regulated adult-use cannabis markets. Furthermore, the federal government overtaxes state-licensed cannabis businesses and makes it extremely difficult for them to access basic financial services so that they can better compete with unregulated operators.”

The data on cannabis arrests and seizures are compiled annually as part of the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP), the only nationwide law enforcement program that exclusively targets drug trafficking organizations involved in cannabis cultivation. The DCE/SP began funding marijuana eradication programs in Hawaii and California in 1979 and was quickly expanded to include programs in 25 states by 1982. By 1985, all 50 states were participating in the DEA’s marijuana eradication and suppression program. Last year, 37 states were active in the DCE/SP.

California—or Bust

The Golden State saw the most interdiction action from the DEA in 2022, with 88% of the seizures (4.9 million cannabis plants) by the agency and its law enforcement partners, and 52% of the arrests. The high totals come despite the state’s legalization of cannabis in 2016. Dale Gieringer, the coordinator of the California branch of NORML, said that underground operators in the state continue to supply much of the illicit marijuana to states that maintain the prohibition on cannabis.

California has always exported the majority of its marijuana crop out of state and the adoption of adult-use legalization in the Golden State has done little to change this fact,” Gieringer said. “Illegal marijuana cultivation will persist in California so long as there remains a substantial demand from other states and as long as interstate commerce remains prohibited by federal law.”

The DEA also reported significant totals for plants seized in other states, including Oklahoma, where 342,746 plants were seized by the agency and its partners. Another 184,295 plants were confiscated in Kentucky, while law enforcement officers seized 50,301 marijuana plants in West Virginia. All three states continue to prohibit recreational marijuana for adults.

With seizures of marijuana plants at the highest level in more than a decade despite continued prohibition, reform advocates say it is time for the nation to rethink the nation’s cannabis policy.

“Spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars to enforce federal cannabis prohibition, putting law enforcement officers in unnecessary danger, and hampering the implementation and effectiveness of state-regulated markets are clearly not the answers to this issue,” Fox says from NORML. “Rather, the federal and state governments should work toward furthering sensible policies that facilitate regulated cannabis markets and work to repair the harms caused by nearly a century of prohibition.”

The post Cannabis Arrests Down as DEA Seizes Six Million Plants in 2022 appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Colorado Legalizes Online Cannabis Sales

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis last week signed legislation to legalize online cannabis sales, ending the prohibition on internet shopping enacted following passage of the state’s landmark 2012 ballot measure that legalized adult-use cannabis. The measure, House Bill 1279, which was signed by the governor on June 1 after being passed by Colorado lawmakers last month, repeals a regulation that specifically prohibited online cannabis sales while establishing regulations for internet sales of licensed cannabis products.

Under the law, adults 21 and older will be able to shop for cannabis products and place orders online, although customers will be required to pick up their purchase in person. The legislation requires retailers to verify the name and age of online customers, who’ll be required to provide matching valid identification when the purchase is picked up. Cannabis retailers will also be required to furnish internet shoppers with “digital versions of all warning or educational materials that the retail marijuana store is required to post and provide on its licensed premises,” and consumers will have to “acknowledge receipt” of the materials before the transaction is completed online, according to a report.

Online Cannabis Sales Limit Cash Handling

While the bill was being considered by lawmakers in the Colorado legislature, Sen. Kevin Van Winkle (R-CO) said that the legislation would make cannabis retailers less reliant on cash to operate their businesses.

“What the bill mainly aims to do, from my perspective, is reduce cash in the marijuana space, which is something that’s exceedingly important to do because when there’s a tremendous amount of cash in any industry, it can lead to some troubling outcomes—specifically things such as robbery,” Van Winkle told his colleagues in the Colorado Senate last month. “It sets them up for a tremendous amount of potential theft and other things.”

Rep. Said Sharbini (D-CO), one of the sponsors of HB 1279, said that he hopes that the legislation will help advance Colorado’s legal cannabis industry.

“It’s to prevent a barrier for transactions; it’s to help businesses make sure that they can take these funds in so they’re not all cash businesses and that there are banks that are opening up to functions with them,” Sharbini said earlier this year. “Regulations are opening up across the country and we need to be competitive as well so this is a step in that direction to try and make sure that we can facilitate better business.”

Liz Zukowski, policy and public affairs manager for Native Roots, one of Colorado’s largest cannabis dispensary chains, notes that the state temporarily approved online shopping for cannabis products in 2020 as part of executive orders issued by Polis in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The temporary authorization expired in 2021, and later that year, a bill that would have permanently authorized online cannabis sales failed to gain the approval of lawmakers, including some who were concerned that internet sales would increase access to cannabis by young people. However, the bill also contained provisions to allow telemedicine appointments for medical marijuana recommendations, which Zukowski believes made the legislation even less palatable to legislators.

“The online sales prohibition was put on hold, and we operated as a state with little to no incidents. That bill in 2021 was more than just online sales,” she told Westword as the bill was being considered in the Colorado state legislature. “It also had telemedicine as part of it, and I believe that was part of what got wrapped in the discussion. Telemedicine is not part of this bill.”

In addition to the safety issues surrounding cash sales at dispensaries, Zukowski also says that the bill permitting online cannabis sales will make shopping more convenient for consumers.

“The most obvious reason is that we’re in 2023, and customers want to be able to have access to e-commerce solutions. The cannabis industry has been held back from that,” she said. “And whatever we can do to lessen that reliance on cash would limit the risk of burglaries and robberies.”

Cannabis Industry Operates Largely In Cash

Supporters of the online sales bill note that the cash-dominant economy of the regulated cannabis industry continues because of the failure of Congress to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act or similar legislation that would allow banks to provide traditional business financial services to regulated cannabis companies. Under current federal regulations, providing cannabis businesses with financial products, including payroll and deposit accounts, credit card processing services and loans is subject to strict regulations. Because of the rules and onerous reporting requirements, most banking services are unavailable or costly for licensed businesses, and many financial institutions avoid serving the cannabis industry entirely.

In written testimony to the US Senate on the SAFE Banking Act, Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), warned that the cash-only nature of the retail cannabis industry makes “businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. It also places the safety and welfare of their customers at risk, as patrons must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons to make legal purchases at retail facilities. Similarly, it needlessly jeopardizes the safety of retail staffers, who are susceptible to robbery.”

The post Colorado Legalizes Online Cannabis Sales appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Lawmakers Refile Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana for Veterans

Lawmakers in Congress last week reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would allow military veterans to use medical marijuana and require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to study the medical potential of cannabis. The legislation, known as the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, was introduced in the Senate last week by Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii and in the House by California Democratic Representative Barbara Lee with co-sponsorship from Republican Representative Dave Joyce of Ohio, Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and nearly a dozen additional lawmakers. Schatz’s Senate version is co-sponsored by seven Democratic senators and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.

“In 41 states and territories and Washington, DC, doctors and their patients can use medical marijuana to manage pain or treat a wide range of diseases and disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder—unless those doctors work for the VA and their patients are veterans,” Schatz said in a press release. “Our bill will protect veteran patients in these jurisdictions, give VA doctors the option to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans and shed light on how medical marijuana can help address the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

VA Doctors Can’t Formally Recommend Medical Cannabis

Currently, VA doctors are permitted to discuss the medical benefits of cannabis with their patients, but they aren’t allowed to recommend the treatment or complete the paperwork necessary to authorize its use, even in states that have legalized medical marijuana. As a result, veterans who wish to use cannabis medicinally are required to obtain a recommendation at their own expense, source their medicine from the illicit market or buy legal recreational cannabis, often at significantly higher tax rates than the medical market.

“Veterans in Oregon and nationwide are unfairly and unacceptably stuck in a legal gray zone when discussing medical cannabis with their doctor,” Wyden said in a statement. “Veterans deserve the opportunity to explore various treatments with their doctor without fear of prosecution or employment ramifications. The Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would protect veterans who use medical cannabis while also directing the VA to research how medical cannabis could help veterans manage their health and well-being. I’ll fight tooth and nail to get this bill over the finish line and help get veterans the care they deserve and earned with their service.”

The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act (H.R. 2682) creates a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for vets who use medical marijuana and allows VA doctors to discuss and potentially recommend cannabis as a treatment for their ailments. The bill would also authorize the VA to study the potential of cannabis to treat chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Previous versions of the bill were introduced during the last three Congresses, but lawmakers failed to approve the measures.

Supporters of the legislation note that veterans are twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose compared to non-veterans. Joyce said that “there’s a growing body of evidence about the beneficial uses of medical cannabis as treatment for PTSD and chronic pain, two terrible conditions that plague many of our veterans.”

“If a state has made it legal, like Ohio has, the federal government shouldn’t be preventing a VA doctor from recommending medical cannabis if they believe that treatment is right for their patient,” Joyce added. “As the son of a World War II veteran who was wounded on the battlefield, I’ve seen firsthand the many challenges our nation’s heroes face when they return home. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important bill and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure we are providing our veterans with the care they need to overcome the wounds of war.”

Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act Supported By Veterans Groups

The legislation drew support and quick praise from veterans groups and organizations working to reform the nation’s cannabis policy, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), AMVETS, VoteVets, Minority Veterans of America, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Veterans Cannabis Project, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the National Cannabis Roundtable, US Pain Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Veteran’s Initiative 22, National Cannabis Industry Association, Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation, Americans for Safe Access and the Hawaiʻi Cannabis Industry Association.

“We strongly support the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act and are thrilled to see it reintroduced in the current Congress by Senator Schatz today. To have such strong bipartisan support from policymakers in both the Senate and House, including from Congressman Joyce and Congresswoman Lee, is encouraging to veterans and advocates who far too often see their issues get lost in the federal shuffle,” the Veterans Cannabis Project wrote in an April 19 statement. “The reforms proposed by this legislation couldn’t be more straightforward or necessary. Almost everywhere in the country doctors and patients are permitted to prescribe and consider medical marijuana for treatment. Veterans who seek medical care from the VA are unfairly excluded from this process. As a nonprofit organization with thousands of veteran supporters, we strongly believe that vets should be able to safely explore medical cannabis with their VA doctors.”

The post Lawmakers Refile Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana for Veterans appeared first on Cannabis Now.

What and Where Is Cannabis Culture Today?

Danielle “Dan” Guercio, a New York-based cannabis writer and creative, felt that cannabis news stories had to focus on “a brand, celeb, political or science angle” to get featured.

“The only culture stuff we get is from the same five dudes and their friends,” she said via LinkedIn comments

“There’s a little bit of an echo chamber happening in the professional space right now—too-similar circles circulating too-similar information,” she told me in a follow-up chat. 

The suggestion was certainly interesting. Were we running into an echo chamber where only a few similar voices speak for millions? I wasn’t sure about the number of representatives. But I certainly agreed when it came to the stories. With commenters telling me they wanted more success stories and relatable topics, is the news playing gatekeeper, or is the public short-sighting the current offering? 

When I pitched the topic to my editor, he told me I could pursue it “only if you go into it realizing you are one of those dudes.” I agreed to the condition despite not fully agreeing with the opinion. Sure, my work appeared regularly on a few outlets. Still, I could name several voices on this publication and numerous others that cover all things pot. And even if only five of us dudes are covering the scene, I can name at least two that probably wouldn’t consider me a colleague they’d want to associate with. 

I get it, if that’s the case. Those prominent writers certainly walk the walk more than I ever could. Maybe it’s the imposter syndrome talking, but I never thought a 30-something who can barely roll a J, hasn’t grown a plant and hasn’t been busted for anything really represents what many in the Western world consider authentic weed culture. Or, maybe it isn’t the imposter syndrome but rather the reality of the current situation. 

Before tackling if it is adequately covered in the media, I needed to unpack what cannabis culture is in the first place. To do so, I asked roughly 100 pot personalities, from underground operators to MSO execs to casual consumers. 

What is Cannabis Culture?

Cannabis Culture is a Canadian weed publication once run by this guy who did some questionable things…

Wait, wrong cannabis culture. That’s a story for another day. The cannabis culture we’re looking to nail down is a bit more ambiguous—just like it’s been for decades. 

Defining culture can be challenging at times. Taking pot out of the equation doesn’t help much, either. Culture’s definition varies depending on the source. Most would summarize it as our shared or collective knowledge, experiences, beliefs, patterns, behaviors, attitudes, religions and other components we’ve encountered as humans over many generations. We shape the world around us through our collective experiences. As time progresses, our culture evolves with it. Our worldviews grow while some once dominant traits or subcultures fade into the background as others gain prominence. 

That sums up cannabis culture throughout the ages, particularly today. While many may have clearly defined views of the culture, others contest that it has always been wide-reaching.

“It is a multifaceted phenomenon encompassing a wide range of social and behavioral aspects surrounding the consumption of cannabis,” said Kimberly Shaw, a 10-year cannabis grower and plant enthusiast. 

Thanks to legalization and expanding access, millions of newcomers are now part of the discussion. Does this make them part of the culture? It depends on who you ask. While many casual consumers are welcomed by most, fear over particular types runs high. 

“Excluding the overlap with mainstream pop culture–movies, music, celebs, etc.—the cannabis culture as it was once known has evolved into “industry” culture,’” said Benjamin Owens, a cannabis event organizer and author of psilocybin recipe book Mr. Boomer’s Magic Kitchen

“The culture has many faces and many independent desires,” said Alex Redmond via Twitter

“From MSOs to ancillary businesses—it doesn’t feel like we’re attracting the best and the brightest,” he added. 

Whether we like it or not, these individuals are part of the cannabis community, a now bloated but still technically accurate term for pot consumers. While some may not like the inclusion of casuals and atypical consumers or operators, there’s no denying these folks represent the evolution of the modern community and its culture.

“Cannabis culture today is evolving and being remixed across geographic boundaries, legal and legacy sectors, and consumer communities,” said Michael Kauffman, executive director of the Clio Music & Clio Cannabis awards.

Until recently, cannabis culture helped describe the few prevailing cannabis subcultures, including medical users, advocates, trappers and the hip hop community. But, some argue that view excludes today’s and past era’s cannabis consumers. 

“I always say the cannabis culture is a subculture of all other cultures,” said Ngaio Bealum, a prominent cannabis writer and comedian, among many other talents. He added, “Whatever it is that people do, there’s a subset of people that like to get high and do it.”

Similarly, Morgan Fox, political director for NORML, told me the cannabis community has always represented more than just its most vocal pot proponents.

“I think it’s kinda difficult to answer because cannabis culture has always been ubiquitous,” he said. Since prohibition has been in place, there’s been a kinship between weed consumers from various walks of life. 

“Even people that were super undercover about their cannabis use…part of the culture of cannabis use was that when they would find somebody else that they know also consumed cannabis, there’d be sort of like an instant rapport and understanding,” said Fox. 

The silent consumers throughout the ages certainly help contribute to the culture. But if you were to ask the general public during those times what they considered cannabis culture, few, if any, would say the silent majority. Instead, they’d likely mention the loudest communities and subcultures. Does that eliminate those not in those groups? It shouldn’t, but the truth is that many in the community, be it media, business or sometimes more sophisticated consumers, practice this approach. 

My hunch is that, like anything people hold dear, they feel responsible for protecting the cannabis community and culture they grew up in. As the world around them changes, they become protective of what they see as the proper culture. Without conflating cannabis into another massive societal issue, it feels like cannabis’ old guard is protective of its remaining culture as cannabis gentrifiers enter the community. While justified and correct in many ways, I do wonder if certain members of cannabis are shutting out passionate cannabis folks because they don’t fall into the standard personalities or perspectives we’ve established as “authentic.” If they don’t look a certain way, don’t know enough about the plant, or haven’t been arrested for it, are they still considered members of the culture?

The Pillars of Cannabis Culture?

The cannabis community has always been wide-reaching, even if consumers often stayed low-key. In recent eras, that quiet consuming approach helped minimize particular consumers as different subcultures became dominant voices. While true that culture varies by country, state, city and neighborhood, a few prevalent subcultures continue to shape much of the conversation. 

Few, if anyone, will deny that the medical community started it all off. While some could have puffed on the plant for fun in the early days, documented history shows that groups stretching across various continents and centuries turned to cannabis for its healing properties. One of the most heavily cited examples is the plant’s inclusion in ancient Chinese pharmacopeia.

“I think cannabis transcends almost everything because it’s biology,” said “Hawaii” Mike Salman about the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Salman, the co-founder of New York-based infused dining events Chef for Higher, grew up in the Bay Area and Hawaii cannabis communities. There, he began developing an appreciation for how the plant fit into daily life and wellness. His professional career saw cannabis converge with one of the most influential cultures of the past 40 or so years, hip hop. Like other genres of music before it, hip hop has continued to help shape cannabis while the plant has done the same to it. Listen to any track from today’s artists, and you’ll soon run into some bars about pot. Those odds increase when the track features names like Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Kid Cudi or [insert your favorite pot-loving hip hop artist here]. The trend is nothing new, with artists ranging from Rick James to Louis Armstrong shouting out the plant over the years, but hip hop has run with it like nobody else. 

As road manager for acts like Mobb Deep and editor for The Source Magazine, Salman was front and center as hip hop and cannabis furthered their bond. He credited hip hop’s influence in promoting both communities’ cultures.

“[Hip hop] is the broadest cultural expression that we have,” said Salman, saying the culture can be identified through music, fashion, vernacular and many other facets of life—cannabis included. 

Until hip hop’s emergence, the counterculture movement of the 60s and 70s was the best example of music and cannabis coming together, at least since the Jazz Era. Some may still argue that the counterculture movement is the most potent example due to drug culture and music helping advance societal perspective shifts. Simultaneously, the counterculture and civil rights movements, particularly for Black Americans, were the two groups targeted in the Nixon-era War on Drugs in an attempt to stop both growing influences in America.  

Whether it’s jazz, classic rock, hip hop or otherwise, the cannabis connection is forged thanks to another crucial subculture: the underground. 

Call them OGs, trappers, legacy operators, your guy or whatever you want. We wouldn’t have cannabis culture without the ones supplying the pipeline. The OGs kept the medical market thriving despite prohibition and draconian criminal punishments for often non-violent offenses. Until legalization, if you saw weed, you knew it came from the underground. They supplied pot to the musicians and club attendees throughout the decades, just as they did for you and I in these modern times. It’s been the same for ages because of the underground, no other way to say it. 

Without their contributions and sacrifices, cannabis culture wouldn’t have flourished. And we for damn sure wouldn’t have the legal market that often turns a cold shoulder to the OGs when setting up licensed businesses. 

These large groups of people help shape cannabis culture in the US and most other nations. Hip hop can play more or less of a role, depending on the country. However, the medical and underground movements are linked to the culture no matter in America, India, South Africa and even more restrictive parts of the world. Still, as legalization and access grows, so does the cannabis community. 

Therein lies the conflict: Are newcomers part of the culture or just the community? And are either of their stories getting told properly? 

Much More To Consider

The above groups have every right to claim a significant stake in the foundation of cannabis culture. However, many participants, new and old, could argue that their communities deserve a place in the culture conversation. 

Advocates and other plant-passionate individuals make up a huge portion of the community. It indeed can be argued that they are pillars just as much as the above groups. With the subcultures having their fair share of overlap, separating advocates from the medical, underground and hip hop communities and calling them their own pillar felt redundant. But others would do so and are correct in that approach. 

The term advocate has become a freely used descriptor as legalization efforts gained steam in recent years. Jimi Devine recently highlighted the concern around under- or uninformed folks calling themselves advocates or framing themselves as experts when they’re far from one. Still, the true advocates, the ones passionate about education, reform and eroding stigmas, are a community that deserve their recognition as cornerstones of the culture in the past century or so. 

Then there are the casuals. These folks like their pot quite a lot–sometimes consuming every day, sometimes less frequently. No matter how often they partake, when they do, they enjoy it. While they may love it, you won’t confuse this group for OGs. 

Some in the group pursue plant knowledge to become more informed consumers, advocates or otherwise. Parents and working professionals are becoming two of the more prominent voices in the casual consumer community. 

“Cannabis offers a safer and healthier alternative to alcohol, which is often the go-to choice for working parents,” said Tara Furiani, CEO at Not the HR Lady.

Other casuals aren’t that concerned about the plant other than how high they’ll feel. For some, all they want to know about is THC percentage or the difference between indicas, sativas and hybrids. Some don’t even care about that. I remember the most significant takeaways I got from the 2021 MJBizCon came from Vegas cabbies, who exclusively discussed price and THC percentages. Whether people like it or not, a lot of casuals just want the basic info or even less. 

While this group’s lack of knowledge and/or zero desire to learn more can frustrate some pot-passionate individuals, we can’t disregard the casuals from the conversation. If we do, the education gap will only grow. But, if we provide them with this type of basic information, they may become more interested, and thus informed than they ever intended. That is where I like to write most of my articles. I feel much of cannabis media has skipped over this group, instead focusing on the experts and passionates or the business community. Plus, everybody knows my ass isn’t OG. 

While casuals aren’t entirely representative of the culture, this group’s massive numbers shape cannabis society. Even if they aren’t impacting OG mindsets, they are the symptom of legalization, helping divide the consuming community into informed, passionate consumers and everyday folks who are helping erode stigmas whether they are aware or not. Should the casuals be leading the conversation on cannabis ethics, cultivation or other important topics? Certainly not. But their experiences and voices are shaping the cannabis community–one that many experts and insiders may not recognize if they stay within their echo chambers. 

This leads to the last question…

Is the Media Adequately Covering Cannabis Culture?

While many differed on what cannabis culture is, most agreed that mainstream media failed to adequately showcase it .

Respondents often told me they consider mainstream media to be traditional TV and print outlets, not including more niche cannabis publications in the grouping. Many felt that depictions in the news and in fiction-based media continued to rely on stereotypes rather than actual consumers.

“There’s definitely still a lot of caricatures and stereotypes that are popular,” said Nadir Pearson, VP of business development for cannabis brand WISECO

While you can find cannabis use normalized in select news and fiction projects, recent examples like Netflix’s now-canceled Disjointed series highlight the ongoing lack of quality cannabis representation in media. Others, like Hawaii Mike, highlighted concerns around the digital news model. 

“It’s skewed because we’re in clickbait culture still,” said Salman, saying that demonization pieces continue to generate clicks. 

Like traditional news, digital media thrives on the “if it bleeds, it leads” model. Meaning, sensational stories win out more often than not. Those that disagree should see traffic numbers for positive articles versus negative or sensational pieces. The model is also rampant on social media, with scores of influencers looking to cash in on “shocking” or informative content “no one will believe,” despite being easily sourced on Google or Wikipedia.

Salman’s argument is valid. When publications like the New York Times run stories about dogs eating edibles instead of more pressing cannabis topics, one has to wonder what’s getting passed over. However, it could be argued that these pieces target the casual consumer crowd, not those in the previously mentioned pillar or advocacy subcultures. While most of us reading this aren’t dumb enough to leave an edible around our dog, tons of NYT readers probably aren’t aware of the effects of pot on their animals–much less the impact of sugar, chocolate and other ingredients in those edibles. Those readers need this sort of information, but without less doom and gloom, ideally. 

On the other hand, most news outlets beyond mainstream TV and digital publications may not cover culture for different reasons. Some respondents felt the media is covering what the public is already consuming.

“People are really focused on news and business,” said Pearson, adding, “Those types of things versus the actual culture.” Pearson’s point can be supported by the vast array of cannabis business publications while many culture-based outlets have shuttered in recent years.  

News coverage also boils down to budgets, bandwidth and public importance. With minimal budgets to hire full-time writers or commission freelancers, media outlets, especially nascent pot publications, may be unable to cover all the stories they want. In that case, editors often go with their gut and/or performance metrics to determine what stories get picked up. In that case, you either need to pique an editor’s interest or prove that this kind of story will generate clicks, shares and comments. If publications don’t follow this model, they risk losing ad revenue and likely commission less work. It’s an ugly cycle that nobody other than Google and social media ad platforms seem to enjoy. 

That’s why I propose cannabis news seekers evolve alongside the culture. Don’t abandon your traditional news. Pot-focused outlets are still producing helpful and often must-know information. But, you may need to bounce around to various outlets to find comprehensive coverage spanning current events, business, politics and culture. I’ve got an Excel spreadsheet if you wanna look it over. Hit me up.

Simultaneously, expand your sources of information. Social media can prove beneficial, like Reddit’s r/trees community, as well as in some groups and conversations found on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Just like traditional news, some of these sources can also produce lackluster results. A certain level of critical thinking and analysis is required. At the same time, Oldheads like myself must also keep up with the times. Branching out to YouTube, Discord and TikTok can all open up avenues to insights from different cannabis community members and content creators. 

Let’s not entirely discount independent journalists, either. While it’s a good rule of thumb to disregard the opinions of nameless, faceless accounts, some are providing excellent news, often on regional levels. Critical analysis is even more important when sourcing news here, but there are trusted names you can connect with and follow for more insights. 

Meanwhile, more cannabis-specific apps and platforms are helping reduce noise while focusing on the culture. Pearson’s Hybrid app cultivates a dedicated following based on a calendar highlighting drops, community events and other authentic experiences. Hybrid is currently available for Apple users. 

And as always in life, it’s good to step out of the digital sphere occasionally. Don’t forget how important it is to show up. I’m not one to talk, with my introversion, disabled dog and pandemic really ramping up my desire to never leave the living room this past year or so. But let me tell you from experience, showing up is the best way to understand the pulse of the community on a local, national and international level. If you can, go to info sessions, meetups, rallies, public forums and anywhere else where pot is in the discussion. I stay in the loop on all things New York State cannabis thanks to Mannada’s Kristin Jordan and The Maze Calendar newsletter. 

At the same time, try to save up the cash to attend events like Spannabis, the High Times Cups and various other national and international gatherings. Find the ones that cater to what you want to learn about and dive in. 

Do these options fix the media’s lack of cannabis coverage? Absolutely not. But I would argue that cannabis culture is covered more often by more people than credit is given. But with the task of covering an already large and evolving culture, some critical stories won’t reach the masses. Be it a hesitation from major media or other limitations facing many smaller brands, it isn’t easy to adequately tell the legacy and ongoing news in cannabis culture or its surrounding, growing community. 

But, if you continue to evolve with the times, you can discover a world of cultural content out there–and most of it isn’t coming from me and four other dudes. At the same time, folks like myself need to keep an open mind and hear out the voices that sometimes aren’t being heard. We don’t need to pitch every suggestion we receive, but there are more voices to consider than the ones we rely on. 

The post What and Where Is Cannabis Culture Today? appeared first on High Times.

Biden Debuts Application For Federal Marijuana Pardon Documentation

The Biden Administration announced last week that it’s launching a system that will allow individuals pardoned for federal cannabis possession convictions in 2022 to obtain written documentation of the pardon. In a March 3 statement, the Department of Justice wrote that a new application is available to request written documentation of the pardons, which were issued en masse by President Joseph Biden on October 6, 2022. The announcement was hailed as a step forward by advocates for cannabis policy reform, including Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

“This is another small, but critical step with the Biden Administration coming to terms with the new cannabis realities, and taking another step in the right direction,” Blumenauer said in a statement on Friday.

While campaigning for office before the 2020 elections, Biden pledged to end incarceration for federal cannabis possession convictions. The president acted on the promise late last year, announcing that he was issuing an executive order to pardon all convictions for simple marijuana possession prosecuted under federal law or Washington, D.C.’s municipal code. In a statement, the president said the move would help address the collateral damage of a federal drug conviction.

“As I often said during my campaign for president, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden said in a statement from the White House on October 6, 2022. “Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

When he announced the federal pardons in October, Biden called on governors to take similar action at the state level. The president also directed the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department to review the continued classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. According to the statute, the Schedule 1 classification is supposed to be reserved for drugs with no medical value and a high propensity for abuse.

Application Available Online

The new application form for documentation of a federal cannabis pardon requests information about the qualifying offense and demographic data about the applicant. The application can be completed online, or a hard copy can be mailed to the Justice Department, which has “committed to carefully and expeditiously reviewing the applications and issuing certificates to those pardoned under the proclamation.”

“Those who were pardoned on Oct. 6, 2022, are eligible for a certificate of pardon,” the Department of Justice wrote in a statement on March 3. “Consistent with the proclamation, to be eligible for a certificate, an applicant must have been charged or convicted of simple possession of marijuana in either a federal court or D.C. Superior Court, and the applicant must have been lawfully within the United States at the time of the offense. Similarly, an individual must have been a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident on Oct. 6, 2022.”

Natalie Papillion, chief operating officer at the cannabis justice group Last Prisoner Project, said the new pardon documentation process will ease the burden of a federal cannabis conviction. But she also noted that completing the application isn’t required to receive a pardon under the president’s executive order.

“We’re really heartened to learn that the Department of Justice has officially launched the federal cannabis pardon certification process. Having physical proof of their pardons will undoubtedly help pardon recipients as they navigate a world that’s unduly hostile to those with cannabis offenses on their criminal records,” Papillon says. “That said, it would be irresponsible not to clear up a major misconception about these pardons. President Biden’s marijuana pardons were self-effectuating, meaning eligible individuals received them on October 6, 2022—the date of President Biden’s proclamation. This recently launched application process is aimed at helping pardon recipients receive physical proof of their pardon, which may prove helpful when recipients apply for jobs, housing, educational opportunities, etc.”

Between 6,000 and 20,000 Americans will be able to apply for written proof that their federal convictions have been pardoned, according to information from the US Sentencing Commission and the Office of the Pardon Attorney cited by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Biden’s pardons mark the first time that an American president has ever used the power of the executive to provide legal relief to the cannabis community, according to a statement from the cannabis policy reform group.

The post Biden Debuts Application For Federal Marijuana Pardon Documentation appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Cal NORML Warns of Potential THC-O Acetate Risk

New data shows a potential problem with vaping THC-O acetate, and the reasons are worthy of concern. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) branch in California, Cal NORML, issued a warning on Jan. 9 about a study that shows a significant risk for people who vape products containing THC-O acetate.

First published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology on Dec. 12, 2022, a team of researchers led by Neal L. Benowitz discovered a link between THC-O acetate and significant danger to the lungs. THC-O acetate shares structural similarities with vitamin-E acetate—an additive that becomes dangerous to the lungs when converted by heat.

According to the California Department of Public Health, the 2019-20 outbreak of EVALI lung disease sickened and hospitalized 249 Californians—five of them fatally. On Nov. 15, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that vitamin E acetate is the likely culprit for EVALI. Vitamin E acetate also produces carcinogens such as alkenes and benzene when heated.

When heated in a vape pen, both substances—vitamin E acetate and THC-O Acetate—produce ketene, a “highly potent lung toxicant.”  

“We put out the press release specifically because of a study showing that vaporizing vitamin E acetate was similar to THC-O acetate,” Cal NORML Director Dale Gieringer told High Times.

 “Apparently when heated up, it produces a serious lung toxin called ketene.”

As cannabis consumers, we often have to filter through anti-cannabis hysteria, but certain risks hold weight when products aren’t regulated properly. Usually vaping dangers arise when random thickeners and unvetted compounds are added.

Gieringer added, “We have a lot of concerns about some of these other new cannabinoids that are being synthesized from hemp, which are brand new and never been tested in human subjects before. Some of them are advertised as being way more potent than THC. THC-O acetate is being advertised as three times more potent than delta-9. THCP is being advertised as having 30 times the binding power to receptors as THC. That kind of reaction sets off a lot of concerns with us. 

“These compounds have never been found in nature before—being made by fairly amateurish underground hemp chemists—raise a lot of concern.”

Gieringer added that delta-8 THC isn’t his primary concern, given there is slightly more known about the compound, but it’s contaminants and other new cannabinoids he’s most worried about, mostly due to the unknowns: THCP, THCjd. THC-H, THC-B, HHC, and Delta-10 THC. 

Cal NORML reports that the sale of psychoactive hemp derivatives was recently deemed legal under federal law by a Ninth Circuit Court decision (AK Futures v. Boyd Street Distro). That’s up for debate though, given that synthetic cannabinoids can be considered illegal under the Federal Analogue Act. 

Under the 2018 federal Farm Bill, cannabis with less that 0.3% THC is legal to grow, and its products can be sold nationally, but the THC often exceeds the limit regardless.

California’s industrial hemp law, which is overseen by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), currently disallows the sale of hemp products with active cannabinoids other than CBD.

THC-O acetate begins as hemp-derived CBD and goes through a chemical process. Going beyond how cannabinoids like delta-8 THC are processed from CBD, acetic anhydride is added to the mixture, making it an acetate.

THC-O is believed to be three times as potent as delta-9 THC—the naturally occurring cannabinoid most of us are used to.

“Cal NORML strongly advises consumers to avoid hemp products with psychoactive cannabinoids, especially novel ones stronger than THC, whose safety is particularly suspect. CBD products may be safely obtained from state-registered industrial hemp product manufacturers, whose products must be tested for safety and cannabinoid content,” the release reads. “Under state law, hemp products should have a batch number and a label, website, QR code or barcode linking to the laboratory test results that state the levels of cannabinoids, total THC, and presence of contaminants, as well as the address and phone number of the manufacturer. Violations can be reported to CDPH.

Cal NORML adds that the less common cannabinoids that are deemed safe for human use are CBN, CBG, CBC, THCV, THC-A, CBD-A, and Delta-8 THC.

The post Cal NORML Warns of Potential THC-O Acetate Risk appeared first on High Times.

Cannabis Researchers Published 4,300 Scientific Papers in 2022

NORML recently announced that according to a PubMed.gov keyword search, there were more than 4,300 scientific research papers published about cannabis in 2022. In 2021, there were an estimated 4,200 papers published; over the last 12 years, more than 30,000 research papers have now been published; and in total, there are approximately 42,500 scientific papers exploring cannabis.

While it’s common to hear opponents of cannabis state that more research is necessary before legalization can occur, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano released a statement to counter that argument. “Despite claims by some that marijuana has yet to be subject to adequate scientific scrutiny, scientists’ interest in studying cannabis has increased exponentially in recent years, as has our understanding of the plant, its active constituents, their mechanisms of action, and their effects on both the user and upon society,” Armentano said. “It is time for politicians and others to stop assessing cannabis through the lens of ‘what we don’t know’ and instead start engaging in evidence-based discussions about marijuana and marijuana reform policies that are indicative of all that we do know.”

NORML compiled numerous scientific studies involving cannabis between 2000-2021, exploring findings from studies on a wide variety of medical conditions such as chronic pain, Huntington Disease, insomnia, Multiple Sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and so much more. The review analyzes the evolution of researcher’s scope of cannabis. “As clinical research into the therapeutic value of cannabinoids has proliferated so too has investigators’ understanding of cannabis’ remarkable capacity to combat disease,” NORML wrote. “Whereas researchers in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s primarily assessed marijuana’s ability to temporarily alleviate various disease symptoms—such as the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy—scientists today are exploring the potential role of cannabinoids to modulate disease.”

Even recently, the scientific community has released many intriguing cannabis studies in recent months. One recent study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that cannabis was an effective treatment for insomnia, with researchers stating that participants experienced an 80% increase in sleep quality, and 60% were no longer classified as clinical insomnias following the end of the two-week study. Another study found evidence that cannabis has “uniquely beneficial effects” on those with bipolar disorder, while one found a link between cannabis consumption and physical activity in HIV+ patients. And there are many more studies underway, such as King’s College London which recently launched a massive 6,000-person study in September, with a goal of publishing early results in 2023 or 2024.

Cannabis is more mainstream than it has ever been before. President Joe Biden’s recent monumental signing of the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act which “establishes a new registration process for conducting research on marijuana and for manufacturing marijuana products for research purposes and drug development.” Biden also signed an infrastructure bill in 2021, which contained provisions for cannabis. It states that in two years, the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services must submit a report that addresses how researchers can receive increased samples of various strains, establishing a “national clearinghouse” that will help researchers better distribute cannabis products for research, and an increased amount of samples for researchers who don’t live in states with medical or adult-use cannabis legalization. 

On the side, studies exploring the benefits of other psychedelic substances are also rising. One study in the journal Psychopharmacology found evidence that psilocybin can treat those with autism spectrum disorder. The University College of London released the results of a recent study as well, which analyzed brain imaging of consumers who attended psychedelic retreats. Another from the University of Melbourne explored how ayahuasca benefits outweigh the risks.

The post Cannabis Researchers Published 4,300 Scientific Papers in 2022 appeared first on High Times.

Study Finds Link Between Cannabis Use, Greater Physical Activity in HIV+ Patients

Marijuana use is associated with heightened physical activity among individuals who are HIV+ positive, according to a study published last month.

The findings, which come via a team of researchers from Brown University, Boston University and the University of Minnesota, showed that “those who reported consuming cannabis were significantly more likely to be physically active than those patients who did not,” according to NORML’s summary of the study, which was published in the journal AIDS Care.

“Chronic pain, depression, and substance use are common among people living with HIV (PLWH). Physical activity can improve pain and mental health. Some substances such as cannabis may alleviate pain, which may allow PLWH to participate in more physical activity,” the authors wrote in the abstract. “However, risks of substance use include poorer mental health and HIV clinical outcomes.”

They said that their “cross-sectional analysis examined the relationships of self-reported substance use (alcohol, cannabis, and nicotine use), gender, and age with self-reports of walking, moderate physical activity, and vigorous physical activity, converted to Metabolic Equivalent of Task Units (METs), among 187 adults living with HIV, chronic pain, and depressive symptoms in the United States.”

According to NORML, the authors reported that the “estimated mean rate of vigorous METs [Metabolic Equivalent of Task Units] was … 6.25 times higher for people who used cannabis than non-users.”

“Women reported less walking, vigorous activity, and total physical activity compared to men. Individuals who used cannabis reported more vigorous physical activity relative to those who did not use cannabis,” the researchers wrote. “These findings were partially accounted for by substance use*gender interactions: men using cannabis reported more vigorous activity than all other groups, and women with alcohol use reported less walking than men with and without alcohol use. Research is needed to increase physical activity among women who use substances and to evaluate reasons for the relationship between substance use and physical activity among men.”

The research echoes previous findings that also showed a link between cannabis use and greater physical activity. A study published last year in the journal Preventive Medicine found that “the commonly held perception that marijuana users are largely sedentary is not supported by these data on young and middle-aged adults.” 

That study, the authors said, “represents one of the first studies to rigorously analyze the relationships between marijuana use and exercise.”

“Results show that, particularly for fixed-effects models, marijuana use is not significantly related to exercise, counter to conventional wisdom that marijuana users are less likely to be active. Indeed, the only significant estimates suggest a positive relationship, even among heavier users during the past 30 days. These findings are at odds with much of the existing literature, which generally shows a negative relationship between marijuana use and exercise. As additional states legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, perhaps its impact on exercise, one of the leading social determinants of health, is not necessarily a primary concern,” the authors wrote in the abstract of that study, which was published in June 2021. 

Those authors also noted that “positive relationships between marijuana use and exercise have also been found” in other research, including one study that showed individuals “who reported using cannabis either shortly before or after exercise engaged in 43.4 more minutes of weekly aerobic exercise on average than individuals who did not use cannabis shortly before/after exercising.” 

The post Study Finds Link Between Cannabis Use, Greater Physical Activity in HIV+ Patients appeared first on High Times.