New Trend of Vape Sensors in Hotels

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

Ew, I can smell your smoke!

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


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

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

Smoke and vape sensors

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

Hey, I can smell your vapor too?

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

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

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

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

My experience

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

Hotel policy
Hotel policy

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

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

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

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

What are these sensors?

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

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

Vape in hotel room
Vape in hotel room

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

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

Conclusion

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

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MJBizCon: Still No THC, Still Alcohol Sales

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Cannabis convention with no THC

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

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

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

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

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

No THC, yes alcohol
No THC, yes alcohol

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

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

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

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

Why it REALLY matters at MJBizCon

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

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

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

Inconsistent cannabis regulation
Inconsistent cannabis regulation

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

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

Conclusion

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

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My Personal Ketamine Experience: Part 1 – The First Infusion

Ketamine might be all the rage these days when it comes to treating psychological issues, but the reality of these treatments is not often written about, and personal experiences are hard to find. Mostly you’ll just find promotional articles and a few studies. Of course, realities don’t always meet the hype, and perhaps one of the biggest lessons to learn about ketamine therapy, is that it will not work for everyone, and results can vary. It’s important for prospective patients to understand the different possibilities when going in for treatment. This article is my own highly personal experience of my first ketamine infusion.

First off, a little about me

One of the hardest things to do in life is be open about a psychological issue, and its probably for this reason that personal accounts of ketamine therapy are few and far between. Not many people want to actually talk about what drove them to seek treatment in the first place. And while I often consider myself a private person, I think there are times when it’s good to open up for the good of others and public knowledge in general. And for that reason I will tell you a little about me. At least enough to know how I ended up in a ketamine clinic.

I am a child of psychological and physical abuse, as many of us are. My problems are not hard to come by in the general public, and there are plenty of people that can relate. I grew up in a very tense environment, which led to an array of anxiety-related issues, the biggest one regarding my ability to sleep. I am considered an intractable insomniac. I do not respond to regular medications. This can be expanded to anxiety as a whole, though the largest issue I deal with on a consistent basis, is the ability for sleep. As ketamine is looked into for insomnia issues, it is indeed a reason for prescription, along with the underlying anxiety issues that cause it.

You will see different words used to explain this concept of non-response to treatments. ‘Treatment-resistant’ is the most well understood, but you will also see it as ‘intractable’ or ‘refractory.’ All of these words when used with a diagnosis next to them, mean ‘it ain’t responding to anything.’ This is far more common than many realize. Sometimes it’s hard to know that because these aren’t pleasant subjects to speak about, and many people won’t.


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A large part of the ketamine industry is based around the idea that it can possibly help those, that aren’t helped by other treatments or medications. However, it’s also available simply as an alternate treatment for those who don’t like conventional medications. I fit into both categories. I’ve been through the ringer enough in life to know I am unresponsive, but I’m also not a huge fan of the conventional pills that get doled out. I prefer alternative therapies that don’t involve standard medications.

A last point to make about my situation, is that I did not go to a clinic in America, I went to a doctor in Mexico. I am told he is one of only 15 in the country that currently provides this treatment, so its not the set-up industry it now is in the States. However, the doctor I found has been providing such treatments for two years, mostly for pain, but for other issues like mine as well.

The infusion, and the basics of what to expect

I cannot say how this goes in a clinic specifically geared toward these treatments. I can only give my experience of going to a psychiatrist where I am, who provides the treatment. There is less protocol available, and it was my decision originally to undergo an initial six treatments, as it tends to be done in the more set-up industry in America. I was provided very little information on what to expect, or the possible outcomes.

There are different ways to receive ketamine treatment. It can be injected into a muscle (IM), given as a nasal spray (esketamine), provided as a sublingual tab, given as a pill, or the original way, by infusion (IV). I did the infusion. That means I had an IV hooked up to my arm for somewhere between 45 minutes and one hour. For people that don’t like IVs or needles in general, this is probably not the best option, and the other forms of ingestion might be more desirable. This was the only mode of delivery offered to me.

It is administered by weight, but this is less precise than many articles make it sound, or at least it was in my situation. I gave my approximate weight, and an anesthesiologist, whose job it is to be able to eyeball such things, set the dosage for my weight. In my case, I wasn’t actually weighed. I was okay with this, but if you feel better with more precise measurements, make them weigh you. I was given standard racemic ketamine. That just means it was regular ketamine, and not esketamine or arketamine, which make up the two halves of the molecule.

I sat on a couch in a semi-comfortable office with no outside view. A private office within a bigger hospital. I had an IV stuck in my left hand. As my veins are a little narrow, this meant a bruised hand for the next several days. My second treatment was done in my arm for this reason. The doctor asked my music preferences, I said classical was fine, and classical music was put on.

First infusion – my experience

I cannot say the exact dose I was given, but I can say how it felt. I can also say that because I had anxiety over an IV infusion (never had anything like this before), I was given a small amount of xanax beforehand. There is debate in the ketamine therapy world as to whether benzodiazepines can hinder the experience, and honestly, I can’t answer that, and neither can my doctor. I can only say I did have a small amount in my system because of the fear of being hooked up to an IV. Those like me who haven’t undergone many (or any) medical treatments in life might understand the anxiety.

I didn’t spin out, or hallucinate wildly. The idea of ketamine treatment is to use sub-anesthetic doses. As in, you won’t end up in a ‘k-hole‘. I had an experience less often written about. The ketamine produced an anxiety in me, referred to online as ‘ketamine-induced anxiety.’ The issue with new industries is that they get hyped by only the success stories, and the realities of all the possibilities are often left out.

My doctor never mentioned this term, and I had to look into it myself. This is a negative perhaps of going to a doctor in a less set-up industry, where less background information is made available. When it comes to ketamine treatments, non-responders, or negative-responders are actually a large group, and this makes sense. Barely anything in life works for everyone, as we are all so physiologically different. My response is therefore not uncommon, though it isn’t often spoken of yet, probably because it’s not the desired outcome. But, again, its still common, and that makes it important to know about for anyone seeking treatment.

It wasn’t all-out bad though. I certainly felt spacey, and sort of out-there, though I did not hallucinate, or lose track of reality. As an example of my body’s desire to fend off treatments, I actually felt it in waves, which is the opposite of how it should feel when hooked up to an IV. The doctor did what isn’t often done in these treatments (and is more well known for psychedelic treatments) and talked me through it, partly to keep my mind off the anxiety. We went over childhood issues, and patterns of response. He gave me some interesting insights.

When the infusion was over I calmed down partially when the IV was taken out, indicating this method of ingestion is probably not the right one for me. As I calmed down in the following 20 minutes or so, a sick, nauseous feeling crept in. Ketamine is known for this, it doesn’t seem to mean anything in terms of whether the treatment will work, and is a side effect of the medication.

For the next 24 hours or so, I can honestly say I didn’t care about a lot of the things that had been troubling me. I was able to put things on hold that I had not been able to before. I didn’t have a desire to check my phone, or a need to get back to people urgently. It was actually a good feeling, though it was undermined a bit by the sick feeling that persisted, and a general heaviness.

Ketamine first infusion

Truth is, this is common too, and can go on even into the next day, as it did for me. Also something not explained by my doctor. The following day it was more a tired feeling, and the good effects wore off throughout the day. While I was able to get more sleep the first night, that was the only night this was true of that first treatment.

I cannot say I felt a response past that point, but this is also common of ketamine treatments. It’s sometimes described online as planting a flower and tending to it over several sessions, without expecting full results right away. So, I was optimistic. I did feel something temporarily, it really did feel like a possible start. I scheduled my second infusion for four days later.

Conclusion

This article relates to my own personal experience with ketamine treatments. It is not generalizable to the entire population, and is meant to help those looking into this treatment, to know some of the possible things to expect. Everyone that tries treatment will have their own experience. Some will not sound like mine. Read the next installment to find out more about my second infusion.

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

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

What is MJBizCon?

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

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

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

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

Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: Cultivation

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Biggest cannabis industry trends according to MJBizCon: white label products

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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Hong Kong to Ban CBD – Is This China Overstepping?

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

The China/Hong Kong relationship

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

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

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


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

Does Hong Kong and CBD hark back to Opium Wars?

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

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

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

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

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

Opium wars in China

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

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

But…China is the biggest exporter for hemp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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Personal Experience: Why I Said No to Toad Venom 

There are few times in your life that you are offered as elite a substance as toad venom and, not only that, but for free. This substance is hailed by the likes of Michael Pollen and even Mike Tyson as the god of all psychedelic drugs. The trip, although short, can be incredibly powerful – taking the user to an entirely different world.

Who’d have thought that the backs of a specific toad would have something so potent, so mind-altering, so difficult to find, that even the most avid of psychonauts out there would be left awe stricken. However, despite its reputation, when I was offered the chance to experience toad venom free of charge from a trained shaman I decided against it. Here’s why. 


What is Toad Venom? 

Before I can explain why I decided to decline the chance of a lifetime to try this god-like drug, it’s first important to know what it actually is and – of course – what it feels like. Toad venom has its name because it actually comes from the back of a Colorado river toad, also known as Bufo alvarius (Or Incilius alvarius). This specific animal is found in the Sonoran Desert – which includes California, Arizona and Northern Mexico. When the green animal feels threatened, it excretes white venom from its back in order to warn off any unwanted prey.

This venom not only poisons its enemies, but also has now been found to contain 5-Meo-DMT. When consumed as a human, this substance causes a momentous trip, but only lasting around 30 minutes. It has been described as up to 6 times stronger than its cousin DMT, which is another potent psychedelic. Michael Pollen, a respected psychedelic researcher, claims that this substance is the ‘Everest of psychedelics’. When he consumed it, he wrote:

“Rushing backward through fourteen billion years, I watched the dimensions of reality collapse one by one until there was nothing left, not even being. Only the all-consuming roar.”

Even Pollen, who had experienced all other psychedelic drugs, had not been expecting what he had experienced. In essence, toad venom is a natural but highly powerful substance. 

What Does it Feel Like?

Whilst it is a natural substance, 5-Meo-DMT is illegal In the US and is considered a Schedule I drug. In fact, if found in possession of the substance, you could be looking at a 10 year jail time. However, in Mexico it is less regulated and therefore easier to get a hold of. There are many local people who use the substance for spiritual practices. In fact, in the hipster town of Tumun, you can visit and pay up to thousands of dollars to enjoy a shaman-assisted experience.

In order to consume toad venom it is not usual to actually lick it directly off the back of the animal. I know, how boring, right? Instead, the white sweat is taken off the toad and dried into a paste. This paste is then usually placed in a vape or a pipe and smoked. When the user takes the hit, the effects will come very quickly and they will – in want of a better word – be wiped out for around 30 minutes. It is described as a completely out of body experience, where your ego is left at the door.

Whilst all psychedelics trigger effects of distortion, visuals and dissociation, it is believed that toad venom is so strong that it is indescribable. However, of course, many people have tried to put words to the experience. Mike Tyson, an ex-heavyweight boxing champion, has had a controversial career to say the least. Nonetheless, whether you’re a fan of his or not, he has recently taken solace in psychedelic drugs and used them for therapy. In an interview with Joe Rogan, he described his encounter with the toad:

“I came across this thing called the toad. I smoked this medicine, drug, whatever you want to call it, and I’ve never been the same… I look at life differently, I look at people differently. It’s almost like dying and being reborn… It’s inconceivable. I tried to explain it to some people, to my wife, I don’t have the words to explain it. It’s almost like you’re dying, you’re submissive, you’re humble, you’re vulnerable — but you’re invincible still in all.”

It is evident that what Mike Tyson is semi-describing is a kind of ego death. This phenomenon is well known in the world of psychedelics, and basically describes the feeling of losing the concept of self. Without a ‘me’, suddenly one’s perception of life changes. You begin to deal with life in a different way. It becomes less about you as a protagonist in your own important story, but instead about you as part of something much larger. You are completely powerless and, in a sense, that is the most powerful thing of all. You are no longer bound to the selfish, self-deprecating and reductive ‘you’. You are now free of yourself. There is no wonder that toad venom and other psychedelic drugs are so popular with celebrities, it is these people who need to free themselves from their ego the most. 

Toad Venom Shamans

Toad venom is not as easy to access as acid or psilocybin. It is much more like ayahuasca, in the sense that you usually require a shaman or trip sitter to help you, and you pay for this entire experience. It isn’t a party drug or a substance that you can use casually, it’s goal is to completely reset your mind. You can expect to pay around 200-500 dollars, but it can easily be more too.


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There are special professionals whose job is to help people through these intense trips and, whether they are or not, they claim to be talented in the art of toad venom consumption. Some of these individuals will prefer to offer 1 to 1 ‘journeys’, and others will do it in groups of 20 or more. It depends on the client and the shaman. It is their job to ensure that the set and setting is perfect – no dangerous habitat, and good vibes only. It is like a paid trip sitter. When I was approached by a woman and offered toad venom, she spoke to me about her process.

According to her, she was a celebrity toad venom shaman – meaning that she had assisted the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and even Snoop Dogg himself through their journeys. She told me that she once had an experience where a gangster had a gun when he came in and she forced him to put the gun in a locked safe before beginning the trip. He wanted it there for support and was reluctant to give it up, but she said it was essential. This woman told me that it was integral he gave up his weapon because, in her words, ‘when you take the toad you ain’t there anymore. You’re gone. You could do anything. And that guy looked strong’.

Apparently the moment he inhaled the substance he ran for the safe and she had to attempt to pin him down. Nonetheless, she mainly highlighted just how important a substance it was. She’d delt with people who felt suicidal, who had experienced serious trauma – all felt renewed after consuming toad venom. According to a study by the National Institute of Health, just one experience with the toad can completely eradicate many mental health issues.

Not only that, but it can lead to an improved outlook on life. A John Hopkins researcher surveyed 362 toad venom users. These people were used to taking the substance in group settings with 5-12 people in them, as well as a sober shaman. Out of the 362 participants, 162 of them suffered from anxiety or depression, and 80% of these reported serious improvements in their condition.

Why Didn’t I Do It?

So it’s a miracle substance. A drug that can eradicate all pain and suffering. If that is the case, then why didn’t I take toad venom? Well, to be honest, I was afraid. I have tried many drugs in my life and – for some reason – toad venom just seemed like a step too far for me. It isn’t that I’ll never do it, it’s just that my gut was telling me that this moment wasn’t the right time. She mentioned that it was important for any user to be completely sober for up to a week before consuming toad venom, so when she offered it to me free of charge, fully aware that I’d been drinking, it felt a little irresponsible.

It’s not that drinking the night before would have put me at risk necessarily, but it would have changed my trip and not allowed me to experience it to its full potential. A clear head is key, as it’s your brain that will be subconsciously taking you on that journey. I can come up with a whole load of reasons why I didn’t want to take toad venom, but the truth was that I had an instinctual feeling not to. There’s a difference between nerves and an inexplicable desire against something – this was definitely the latter.

Maybe I let an opportunity of a lifetime pass, or maybe I avoided a horrible trip. I will never know. What I do know is that the entire encounter made me want to research toad venom more and continue learning about this incredible substance. Afterall, if it really is the ‘Everest of all psychedelics’, perhaps I need to practice climbing to base camp first.

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How Long Does THC Stay in the System?

We’ve all had to do it at some point; take a marijuana test. And every time something like this comes up, the question of just how long does THC stay in the system, also comes up. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Nevertheless, here are the basics to THC and how long its stays in your system.

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What is THC?

Most of us already know the answer to this, but just for the sake of keeping us all on the same page, THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, and actually refers to several different compounds within the cannabis plant. The THC we’re usually talking about when using the term ‘THC’, is delta-9 THC. Delta-9 doesn’t exist in high amounts in the cannabis plant, but rather is decarboxylated to this form from its prior form of THCA, which is the compound found in abundance in fresh plants.

THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) C22H30O4 is not psychoactive, but it decarbs to create delta-9 C₂₁H₃₀O₂, a psychoactive compound. Psychoactive means it has an effect on mood, cognition, and behaviors. It change the way a person feels. And it is this idea which has been the outward reasoning for cannabis’s illegalization, along with general stories of danger, which have never proven true. It’s known, however, to cause a sense of relaxation and euphoria, though for some people it’s more associated with anxiety and paranoia; highlighting how ultimately, different drugs affect different people, differently.

THC is schedule I in the Controlled Substances list on a federal level, meaning the federal government considers it only to be dangerous, with no medical value. On the other hand, 19 states already passed recreational legalizations measure, a 20th, South Dakota, did as well, but had it taken away by its governor (its up for ballot measure yet again this election season), and a 21st state, Minnesota, essentially went legal, but without a formal legalization measure.

THC

Instead, it simply legalized the use of THC in edible – and other – products. Beyond this, nearly 40 states have full medical programs, also in contrast to the US government. And the majority of states in general allow for some kind of decriminalization.

In a showing that the US government does understand its position, despite moving incredibly slow to update regulation; Biden just announced a sweeping pardon for all those who were convicted on simple possession charges. However, the pardon came with no legal change, meaning already new arrests for these same crimes, have most definitely been made. With five more states putting forth ballot measures for recreational legalizations this election, it looks like the government needs to change tack immediately, or look weak amid its non-complying states. All while fending off lawsuits from new arrestees, for crimes just pardoned.

How long does THC stay in the system?

This is where things become way more individualized. While there are certainly some basic standards to go over, there isn’t one simple answer to the question, and each person will have to look at themselves, their bodies, and their lives, to try to establish what their own particular answer is. Plus, there are different options here. How long does THC stay in your system? Well, are we talking about how long its detectable in urine? Or in blood? Or in hair? Not only does each body work differently, but THC is detectable in these different places for different amounts of time.

Usually, if a person is undergoing a test, it’s a urine test, so when we talk about how long does THC stay in the system, we’re usually speaking of how long it shows up in your urine. It makes a big difference how much a person smokes in life, as heavy smokers can expect THC to stay around a bit longer. When someone who doesn’t usually smoke gets high, THC is detectable in urine for up to about three days, but again, this is not 100% specific.

For moderate users (not daily, but several times a week), THC is often detectable for closer to a week. Daily users might have THC in their systems for more like 10-15 days, while the super heaviest of smokers might be detectable for as long a month or more. These numbers are so non-specific though that depending on individual bodies, these times could be cut in half at each juncture, or even quartered, or perhaps lengthened by twice as much.

In terms of factors that have an effect on how long your own body might hold onto THC, consider that people with more body fat will likely retain it longer, as will people with more sedentary lifestyles, slower metabolisms, and overall higher usage levels. It can generally be expected (but not said for sure) that those with lower body fat, who get more exercise, and who metabolize faster in general, will probably get THC out of their systems faster.

THC in the system
THC in the system

What about those other tests?

Sure, you’ll probably just have a urine test, particularly if its for a job interview or random workplace testing, but there are other testing options. Hair tests are sometimes used to establish past usage of marijuana. Since hair stays around on your head for awhile, when THC gets into it, it also stays around for awhile. In fact, remember how I said a heavy user might be detectable for around a month in terms of urine? Well, even when their urine is clear after a month, their hair might tell a different story. THC can be detectable in the hair for several months.

Then there are blood tests. We don’t usually hear about THC blood tests, but because of new regulations in different states concerning driving under the influence of cannabis, THC blood tests are are getting more popular. They’re used particularly for driving incidences, as well as with other crimes. These tests are the most accurate, and are only looking for very recent use. THC leaves the blood stream within days, so these tests only test for use as recent as the last couple days.

Most people will likely never have a THC blood test done. Though this could change if more locations adopt and enforce road policies for THC. This does seem to be happening, though the reality is that research has shown lower levels of road issues in places with legalized cannabis.

Can I get it out faster?

When we ask how long THC stays in the system, we often want to know if there’ a way to get it out faster. Truth is, most products sold won’t do much for you, and that’s partly because of how THC stays in your system in the first place. It sticks around so long because its fat soluble, meaning its taken in by your fat cells. When something is taken in by fat cells, it means it can’t be flushed out with water. It’s stored in the form of its metabolite THC-COOH, and no matter how many water-based fluids you drink, you won’t wash it out of you.

On the other hand, sometimes the best that can be done, especially when taking a test, is to simply dilute the urine. This can indeed throw off tests if it appears the urine is too watered down, but it is a generally good way of making it appear like less THC is in the system. Please remember, it will do nothing to actually get it out faster, though.

If you really want to get it out, one of the best ways is through exercise, and this might be the only true way to speed up this process. Exercise burns fat, and fat holds THC. So if you burn off the fat, you’re burning out the THC too. If ever you want to shorten the amount of time THC is in your system, getting off your butt and moving around is the first thing to consider.

Exercise to get THC out of the system
Exercise to get THC out of the system

Of course, if you’re really concerned about having THC in your system, take yourself a break. If you’ve got something coming up that THC in the body won’t help with, just don’t use it for a while. The most surefire way to avoid worrying about the question of how long does THC stay in your system, is by eliminating the need to ask it.

If you’re thinking of trying the products out there, do so at your own risk. None should hurt you, but they likely won’t help much either. In fact, most methods involve drinking a lot of liquids, which just supports the water-it-down method. Detox pills and drinks really have no method for releasing THC from fat cells. Adulterants can easily throw off a test and make it invalid, and using someone else’s urine is tricky in its own way as it must be kept at the right temperature. (Besides the fact you have to sneak in someone else’s urine).

There are also more natural ways, like using pectin, cranberry juice, baking soda, and niacin. Though, none of these compounds are dangerous, they’re often taken in way larger amounts than what is considered normal or safe, and this can come with problems. Not only do none of the methods work by consensus, but baking soda, for example is a salt which can cause damage at high volumes, and pectin can force the body to rid itself of necessary nutrients. Neither of which is good for a person.

Just remember, if there really was a system that worked, we’d all be doing it. Instead, we’re sold gimmick after gimmick, proving only that this is an issue that many face, and not one that there is a workable answer for.

Conclusion

How long does THC stay in the system? It varies widely, and I’m sorry that that’s the best answer out there. If you’re in a situation where you need to know its not going to show up; get some exercise in, take a little break, and always assume it will take the longest amount of time for your circumstances, and not less. Just to be on the safe side.

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The Cost of Getting Caught with Weed – Even Now

Yeah, things are changing, and good riddance to the old rules. Cannabis legalization hasn’t created the nicest or most functional of industries, but it has made it so that less people are penalized for possession and use. Those penalties have cost a lot of people a lot of time and money, and continue to today in many places. Here’s the lowdown on the cost of getting caught with weed.

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State vs federal

The fact that anyone has to pay out for possessing or using a plant that makes them hungry and happy, is a crime in and of itself to many of us. But that’s the current situation, and even loosening restrictions don’t change a lot of realities about the plant. Legal state or not, I guarantee you you’ll have problems if you try to sell what you grew at home, or if you’re caught moving kilos of said plant across borders.

Regardless of how much or little sense it makes, there are some stark realities to the world of weed, and the biggest one is that for all its lack of danger, and for all the positive benefits it offers, it’s still the #1 reason for drug arrests, and has been for awhile. It’s not meth, or opioids, or cocaine. No, the drug that causes the most arrests, is the one that causes the least harm.

So not only do people pay out, and sometimes have their lives ruined by convictions, its all done for something that was never a threat. This logic has now led to a pardoning by President Biden for all federal simple possession cases, but funny enough…he didn’t offer to repay all those fees that got taken, or offer compensation for incarcerations.

The cost of getting caught with weed varies depending on the specific crime, as well as who the arresting body is. Simple possession garners way less time and money than trafficking charges, but happens way more often. And being caught by the federal government, or a state with harsher restrictions, can net a much different fine and jail term than breaking the law in a place with a legalization or decriminalization measure (legalizations don’t mean no active laws).

What’s the cost of getting caught with weed by the federal government?

When it comes to the cost of getting caught with weed, its way more complicated when looking at states, since each one has its own policy. On the other hand, the federal government works off one policy, and so its easier to get into what the penalties are, and how much people have to pay out.

The main breakdown is between possession charges, sale and supply charges, cultivation charges, distribution charges, and paraphernalia charges. Interestingly enough, the US is most definitely a death penalty country when it comes to drugs, even if it’s not often (or ever) used. According to Norml,

The cost of weed penalties

“The sentence of death can be carried out on a defendant who has been found guilty of manufacturing, importing or distributing a controlled substance if the act was committed as part of a continuing criminal enterprise – but only if the defendant is (1) the principal administrator, organizer, or leader of the enterprise or is one of several such principal administrators, organizers, or leaders, and (2) the quantity of the controlled substance is 60,000 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, or 60,000 or more marijuana plants, or the if the enterprise received more than $20 million in gross receipts during any 12-month period of its existence.”

Luckily, we really don’t hear about this. The most basic collection is done for simple possession, as this is the most common arrest. How common? We don’t always get numbers for these things, but for 2019, we do. That year, there were a total of 545,602 cannabis arrests for everything from possession to manufacturing to sale; and the grand majority, 500,394 were for simple possession only. Incidentally, in terms of arrests that year, there were more simple possession cannabis arrests, than arrests for violent crimes, which totaled 495,871.   

Possession crimes: The first thing to understand is that they aren’t based on amount, but on number of times caught, meaning a joint, and ten grams, can both garner the same punishment. First time offenders face a misdemeanor charge, up to one year in prison, and $1000 in fines. Second time offenders are still charged with a misdemeanor; have a guaranteed 15 days in prison (as a minimum sentence), which can go up to two years; and $2,500 in fines. Third offense or anything after? Now its either a misdemeanor OR a felony; it comes with a minimum requirement of 90 days in prison, which can go up to three years; and $5,000 in fines.

Sale and supply crimes are all felonies, but the penalties vary depending on the amount caught with. Under 50 grams nets a person five years prison time, and a fine of $250,000. 50-99 kilos nets 20 years and $1,000,000 in fines. 100-999 kilos will get you 5-40 years and $500,000 in fines. And 1,000 kilos or more will incur 10 years to life in prison, and set a person back $1,000,000. Let’s remember, this is for plants that grow out of the ground.

So, what if you are just growing plants in the ground? Well, the US government sees cultivation of this plant as a felony at all levels. Under 50 plants lands a person in prison for five years with $250,000 to pay in fines. 50-99 plants garner 20 years and $1,000,000 in fines. 100-999 plants come with 5-40 years and $500,000. And 1,000 plants or more is worth 10 years to life in prison, with $1,000,000 in fines. Distribution follows the same guidelines, unless its in small amounts and not for profit, in which case its treated as possession only.

What about paraphernalia? Stuff that isn’t actually drugs, but used with drugs? You can end up in hot water just for having stuff that doesn’t directly get you high. And, it’s a felony charge, that comes with three years in prison, and surprisingly, no fine. Just to be clear, all of this still stands, even though a pardon was given for previous simple possession cases, and even though the majority (74%) of the country live in places where cannabis is legal in some form or another.

The cost of getting caught with weed in US
The cost of getting caught with weed in US

The cost of getting caught with weed in different states

This is less clear cut, as every different state has its own laws. In a legal state, for example, simple possession isn’t a thing anymore. Unless a person is underage, or breaking a law of use, like smoking around a school, adults don’t have to worry about this. There are limits, but generally large enough to make whatever purchase you want at the dispensary, perfectly fine to bring home.

Such states still outlaw illegal sales, manufacturing, and trafficking, for which penalties are very strict, and generally unchanged during legalization processes. As simple possession is where most arrests come from, looking at these penalties tells us the most about what the majority of arrestees, are faced with.

The FBI has a new crime reporting system, which is causing a lot of mayhem for getting accurate numbers. Even so, for 2021, the 31 states without legalization policies made a total of approximately 170,856 arrests for simple possession. Texas led the way with 21.3 thousand, followed by Tennessee with 13.9 thousand, and North Carolina with 12.4 thousand. Georgia was fourth with 9.8 thousand, and Indiana rounded out the top ten states for these arrests, with 6.4 thousand. With the exception of Missouri, which had an increased amount of arrests from 2017 to 2021, going from 2.8 to 9.1 thousand, every other state had a pretty big decrease in these arrests, between those years.

How accurate are these numbers? Well, the National Incident-Based Reporting System relies on law enforcement agencies to participate, and in 2020, only 85% did. These numbers are where the FBI gets it data through the FBI Crime Data Explorer. In 2021, even less reported at 63%. So no, these numbers are probably far lower than the actual numbers of arrest. However this is what we have to go on.

The #1 state for simple possession arrests, is Texas, and in that state, like with the federal government, there is no personal use limit. In Texas, up to two ounces is a misdemeanor, with up to 180 days in prison, and $2,000 in fines. It’s still a misdemeanor at 2-4 ounces, but prison increases to one year, and the fine is doubled to $4,000.

Four ounces to five pounds is now a felony, with a two year minimum prison sentence that goes up to 10 years, and $10,000 in fines. And while the fine amount stays the same, 50-2,000 pounds can net an extra ten years in prison. Over 2,000 pounds and you could be looking at up to 99 years (five-year minimum), and $50,000 in fines.

Getting caught with weed in Texas
Getting caught with weed in Texas

What about #2 Tennessee? Well, it might rack up plenty of arrests, but this state is a bit less harsh than its predecessor on the list in some ways. For one thing, Tennessee cuts off minor and major penalties at ½ ounce. So long as you don’t go above this amount, its not considered for sale, qualifies as a misdemeanor, incurs up to one year only, and comes with a mandatory fine of $250 for the first incident, and $500 for all following incidences. Past a half ounce, and the crime is a felony, with 1-60 years in prison depending on amount, and up to $200,000 in fines if the maximum of more than 300 pounds is reached.

#3 is North Carolina, and it’s the loosest of the three, at least at first. In fact, in North Carolina, half an ounce or less is a misdemeanor with no jail time, and up to $200 in fines. It’s still a misdemeanor up to 1.5 ounces, but now with 1-45 days in prison, and $1,000 in fines. In North Carolina, up to 10 pounds, though now a felony after 1.5 ounces, still only incurs 3-8 months in prison and $1,000 in fines. From 10 pounds to 10,000+, however, it’s a felony crime, starting with minimum sentences of 25 months, and going up to 222 months, with a top fine of $200,000.

Conclusion

States’ rights are great in some ways, and do provide ways for state governments to get around some federal policy, and to provide local laws relevant to local populations. However, marijuana laws, and the varying cost of getting caught with weed, show a major failure of them. Not only is it silly that a person can get arrested by the federal government for something that’s not a crime in their state, but its just as bad that someone smoking a joint in California, will face nothing compared to a person in Texas, who could serve jail time for the very same act. Be careful where you get caught!

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Pardon, Elections, And Why Weed Should Be Legal By Year’s End

Oh, I mean it. And it’s not much of an option at this point for the US government, not if it doesn’t want to be buried in lawsuits, or look incredibly weak. Between a sweeping pardon with no legal change, and five states with ballot measures, all of which could pass; weed will have to be legal incredibly soon in the US, and likely by year’s end. Read on to understand why.

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But…will weed really be legal by the end of the year?

Okay, so I can’t actually see into the future, but when the pieces are put together, they tell a compelling story. One which has been playing out in front of us for years already. Between ballot measures, and legislative measures, 19 states have recreational legalizations, and nearly 40 have medical policies. Outside of that, nearly every state has some amount of a decriminalization policy. And why shouldn’t they? No one dies from weed.

Yet for this sweeping understanding that there aren’t dangers, and there are benefits; the US government has essentially been sitting around with its thumb up its butt, trying to tell us time and time again why we should be wary of the wacky weed, and repeatedly arresting people for nothing more than a joint. Imagine that, a huge and powerful government that can’t seem to understand basic principals that everyone else seems to get. Are they really that dumb?

No, of course not. Anyone who calls their government or elected officials dumb, is probably the dumb one; but that doesn’t mean that government actions always look smart to those watching. The government responds to corporate payments, and we know this. With all the information out there about payments from oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, and so on, even expecting the government to respond to its citizens needs, is off base. Maybe that’s how it should be, but hundreds of millions+ coming into government representative pockets says otherwise, and we just have to know that.

Corporate payments

Corporate interest payments are quite compelling, as implied by how much policy revolves around these industries (opioids are legal but cannabis isn’t…hmm?) So it says quite a bit that these payments can no longer substantiate the illegal cannabis situation. In fact, its a massive indication of the power of the people, that the federal government is changing its stance, even with all that pharma and oil and gas money coming in to stop it. How much does the plastics industry want hemp? Not even a little! But the people want it so much, that it’s coming anyway. Weed is actually an indication of how strong we can be.

The current situation is an interesting one, certainly not planned on by the government. Planned or not, though, the situation now requires a decent and speedy response, and that response should come by year’s end. And really, it has to, or really soon after. That part isn’t speculation, and there are two reasons why.

#1 reason weed should be legal by year’s end: the pardon

If a pardon comes as an individual act for a crime, it doesn’t say anything for the crime in general, just for the person getting the pardon. Anyone else that committed the same crime previously, at the same time, or in the future, still faces all penalties. It doesn’t stop a crime from being a crime, it just helps out a single person, for whatever reason its offered. This was represented in the spring, when President Biden pardoned one cannabis conviction, and commuted the sentences of eight other cannabis offenders.

What happens when everyone who ever did a crime in the past gets pardoned for it? Isn’t that like saying it was never supposed to be considered a crime? And what happens when this is done, but with no legal precedent to stop future arrests and convictions for the same actions? Mayhem, perhaps? Or maybe just a bunch of lawsuits, and immediate case-dropping.

That’s the situation we’re in. Sounds sticky for a government that just indirectly admitted wrongdoing, but didn’t feel like updating laws immediately to correspond. On Thursday, October 6th, President Biden issued a sweeping pardon for ALL federal simple possession of cannabis cases ever tried in the US (for US citizens or permanent residents). All convictions for this particular crime, will be erased, with certifications given out. But the laws of prohibition still exist. And that means new people can get arrested and convicted for a crime everyone else got pardoned for. Want to guess on the lawsuit potential?

Biden did state that something must be done soon, but that’s nonspecific. Soon could mean in three years. Of course he had to say something, but that statement still doesn’t stop law enforcement from arresting more people now. Plus, not only has the government indirectly admitted wrongdoing, but its not offering compensation to anyone, while still leaving the door open for new arrests. It’s an insanely precarious situation. And one that highlights the discomfort the US government faces in this situation, which it now must expedite an answer for, because if its own action.

weed convictions
Weed convictions

One last point, the pardon doesn’t release anyone from prison. According to the government, no one is in federal prison for simple possession. The government is only collecting fines. While in 2019 alone there were over 500,000 simple possession arrests, “The White House estimates that about 6,500 people nationwide have federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana on their records since 1992.” Over 500,000 arrests in just one year (close to 29 million since 1965), and 6,500 convictions in almost 30 years? That’s a painful discrepancy, and points to this as a money industry for the government.

Sounds like law enforcement arrest literally anyone. And how many of those arrested are paying the fine, without a conviction? I can’t find any numbers for government revenue from cannabis fines, it seems that information is kept out of the press. Possibly because of how big that number is, and its mismatch with conviction numbers? This pardon doesn’t cover new arrests or convictions, and the numbers for those it helps sound uncomfortably small considering the number of arrests each year. However, convictions or not, the arrests roll in, and in huge numbers. Now, each new one is a new liability.

#2 reason weed should be legal by year’s end: the election

Yup, it’s that time of year again. The time when our overlords actually grant us the ability to have a say in things. And this time around, five states are putting it directly to voters to decide the fate of cannabis legality. While it should be six states, Oklahoma is being a bit of a jerk, and allowing technical system issues to outweigh allowing the measure, essentially putting it on the people, that its governance couldn’t get its stuff together appropriately. It is meant to be scheduled for 2023 or 2024, but shouldn’t be necessary by that point.

Five states do have approved ballot measures, all came in with way more signatures than needed, and all are likely to pass. In fact, one already did, two years ago. South Dakota passed a ballot measure during the 2020 elections to legalize cannabis, and its governor Kristi Noem, took it away. That state is up again and looking to right a wrong, along with North Dakota, Arkansas (which had to have its Supreme Court intervene to allow the measure), Maryland, and Missouri, which already has the bill written and ready to go.

The first thing to notice here is that these ballot measures are offered in states that just a couple years ago were not thought of as states that promoted cannabis legalization. That’s how much and how quickly things have changed. It’s not just states like California, New York, and Oregon, it’s now reaching into the south. Four out of five of these measures are for southern states, an area that was previously a stronghold for prohibition until very recently.

The second thing of note is just how much some governments are trying to deny making the change, like South Dakota’s legalization taken away. And Arkansas needing its Supreme Court to shoot down the State Board of Election Commissioner’s rejection of the ballot, even after all hoops were correctly jumped through. Yet, South Dakota is back at it, and Arkansas has its measure. And that says a huge amount too.

Ballot measure for legal weed
Ballot measure for legal weed

If all five pass, that’s 24 states, plus DC, and half of the physical population. And that’s just recreational. Let’s remember, the US government holds cannabis as Schedule I, meaning all medical programs and decriminalization measures, also go against federal policy. There are now almost 40 medically-legal states, and very few states without some form of decriminalization. That’s a lot of going against the federal government. How much does a federal mandate mean, when all its states go against it? According to Bloomberg, 74% of the population already live where they can legally access cannabis.

Truth is, even if just three pass (which will likely happen), it makes for bad optics for the federal government, and all five could go through. Should the federal government not immediately pass a new legal measure or drop prohibition laws, it then only represents 50% of the country (in terms of recreational), and is quickly headed toward the minority, with the majority of its states and territories already opposing legal measures (including all legalizations). No government wants such a weak position. Making it the second reason we can realistically expect weed to be legal by year’s end.

Conclusion

No, I can’t say it for sure. It could take longer, but the reality is that it can’t take that long, not with the standing situation. While I find it odd how little the legal disparity of allowing a pardon, but not changing laws to prevent more arrests for the same thing, is mentioned in the press; this is most certainly an issue, and a reason for extreme expedition of an actual legal change. Maybe Biden just wants to wait for elections, when the reality of being outnumbered, can no longer be denied. Between the two events, my money is on weed being legal by the end of this year.

As an aside, it doesn’t technically have to be legalized. It can be decriminalized to balance out the pardons and the states in contrast, or a personal use amount set. While these things can be done instead, the overall climate of the country dictates that a legalization – and the ability for a taxable market, is probably the end result.

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Top 3 Ways to Enjoy This Fall’s Cannabis Elections

Nope, I’m not talking about celebrating Halloween, Veteran’s Day, or even Thanksgiving. You can refer to separate articles for those holidays. No, today, we’re talking about how to celebrate something we probably never thought about celebrating at all. That’s right, here are the top three ways for cannabis aficionados to enjoy the elections this fall.

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Yeah, I get it. I’m telling you to get all excited about election season, and its not like an election is the big party of the year for most of us. Hell, a lot of us won’t even vote, and that’s okay too, as voting is a personal decision. So why am I harping on election season this year? Because in the world of cannabis, these elections are very important, and could be the nail in the coffin for federal cannabis prohibition.

This election isn’t to elect a president, but is instead geared toward congress, and other representatives. It’s an election that shouldn’t be terribly exciting, but comes at just the right time, that it is. Five states have ballot measures for recreational cannabis, and that could mean just about half the US’s states going weed legal, and all subsequent federal repercussions. It’s exciting!

#3 Way With a joint, spliff, vape, edible, bong, dab, oil, or tincture

If you didn’t get the point of the heading, its to get high. This election season, you should watch the news reports on votes coming in, and you should do it stoned. Why? Why should it be this way? Because this year’s elections might very well be the veritable straw that breaks the camel’s back. Yup, we’re at a turning point, and this election might be what forces a change in official federal direction.

Cannabis election party

Right now, 19 states are legal for recreational use, and nearly 40 are legal for medical use. Apart from these, several other states have decriminalization policies, ranging in how broad they are, and what they cover. But according to the federal government, cannabis is a Schedule I Controlled Substance, with no medical potential, and with an overall dangerous nature.

The thing is, its sometimes okay to have discrepancy between federal law and state law. But its now getting to the point where already half the population live in legal locations, with more on the way. And that means the federal government is losing to its states. It also means a growing issue with an act that’s perfectly allowable in one state, incurring penalties in another. An overall failure of the use of states rights.

In order to keep its stance, the federal government has to put out danger smear campaigns, deny medical abilities, and make up statistics that show some kind of death or danger aspect. And its getting harder and harder to do this with a country (and world) of people who no longer agree. If the US doesn’t want to keep going in contrast to all its states, it eventually has to change policy. And if it doesn’t want to look weak, it has to do it soon.

Why this election? About 50% of the population are in legal states now. And there are five more states with ballot measures for legalization. If all five make it, that means 24 states will be legal, plus DC, and that’s half of all locations, and well over half of the population. Even two or three states passing measures means an inarguable majority living in legal locations. In fact, according to a recent Bloomberg article, 74% of the population live where they can legally access cannabis in some way already, but this election can push recreational access over the 50% line.

So even if just three, or just two, or just one more state falls, the numbers are simply too high. Plus, all of these ballot measures come from petitions that gathered well over the minimum requirements for signatures, and most are quite likely to go through. So why not celebrate these elections by taking out your favorite type of weed paraphernalia, and getting yourself baked? It’s kind of the order of the day.

#2 Way At the polls – duh!

The reality is that no one has the right to tell anyone else what they should do when it comes to voting. Telling people to go to the polls is as bad as telling them what to vote for. We used to hold voting privacy as sacred, something ruined by social media, and our need to put our own opinions on other people. But the reality is the reality. Voting is meant to be a private matter, and that includes whether it happens or not.

Cannabis elections
Cannabis elections

So, if you’d rather not take part, that’s all good. But if you are of the poll-minded variety, get your butt over to your local voting center, especially if you’re in a state with a ballot, and want to see weed legalized.

Not only can you practice your given right to vote for your chosen candidates and, in the case of ballot measures, policy; but with everything going on in the world of weed, your vote might actually help force a federal changeover this time around. This doesn’t have to relate to a direct ballot measure, and is also attached to which representatives win.

This election season, take part (if you feel like it). And if you’re in North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Maryland, or Missouri, know that your vote can help determine legal policy concerning marijuana in your state, and that this can go on to affect the rest of the country.

It’s not a duty or a responsibility, but if you can, and especially if you’re in a state with a ballot measure, make your way over to cast your vote. Even if you don’t believe in fair elections, this is partly an optics game, and every physical body to promote the cause, helps.

#1 Way With an election party

As stated earlier in this article, elections aren’t generally thought of as the most exciting times, especially when there’s no presidential race. I mean, they can be, particularly when it is a heated presidential election, but a lot of the time they don’t make waves to the masses as much as other things going on.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Maybe this year, throw an election party, complete with all the weed, and weed edibles you can think of. You can gather together like-minded friends and party it out as the votes roll in. You can even make a smoking game out of it. Every time the word ‘legalization’ is said, take a hit.

Election party
Election party

Or any time you hear the words ‘ballot measure’, pack a new bowl. You can come up with any number of ways to play the game, and no matter how exactly its done, it’ll be the best smoking game you played, and everyone is sure to end up completely blasted.

The best part of throwing a cannabis party for the elections, is that regardless of whether the news is good or bad, you’ll be plenty high. A buzzy head is certainly great for enjoying good news, but its also a way to take the edge off of bad news. Maybe things won’t go as desired on the weed front, and maybe we’ll want to console ourselves in the process. And if they do turn out how we want, we’re perfectly baked, and ready to celebrate.

Conclusion

I say we make election season exciting this year. We’ve got our high-quality, indoor-grown, sticky, brightly-colored ganja, and an election that could spell change on a very big level. It’s definitely time to break out the premium cannabis, as these elections are all about the weed.

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