Should Disposable Vapes be Banned? 

The vaporizer has gone from being a shoddy and fairly unpopular device, to the biggest smoking competitor on the globe. The world has undoubtedly been taken by storm and thousands – if not millions – of people are successfully using the vaporizer to quit their unhealthy smoking habits. It seems that, in many cases, the vape has done what it came to do. But is that the end of the story?

With money increasing in the global vape industry and new vapes being created daily, it seems that perhaps that original aim has been forgotten. The disposable vaporizer is proof of this. These devices, with their multi-colored design and various flavors, are appealing to young non-smokers in an alarming fashion and causing problems to the environment. In consequence, many officials are now calling for them to be banned outright.

The Vaporizer

Whilst the vape is a fairly modern device, it actually has a longer history than you would imagine. Some argue that the first conceptual idea of vaping a substance occurred during the Ancient Egyptians, when they used to heat hemp seeds on hot rocks and inhale the fumes. Nonetheless, it was in the early 1900s that the vaporizer was attempted. However, it wasn’t until Hon Lik – in 2003 – created the device that we would recognise today. After the death of his father from lung cancer, the Chinese inventor made it his goal to create a genuine smoking alternative. He was sick and tired of the uselessness of nicotine gum and pads. The Guardian writes about Lik’s process of inventing it:

“The breakthrough came in 2003, when he hit on the idea of using a piezoelectric ultrasound element to vaporise a nicotine solution in a device resembling a cigarette. These days battery-powered heating elements do the job, but the concept was born”

The vaporizer or e-cigarette is an electronic device that allows people to inhale nicotine without smoking it. The e-liquid is heated by the device’s battery to a temperature much lower than your average cigarette and, as a result, vapour is created. This substance is then inhaled and enjoyed by the user. When a cigarette is lit it is heated at around 900 degrees and begins the process of combustion. Combustion – when something is set alight – brings with it a whole load of difficulties. When the process occurs dangerous toxins and cancerous carcinogens are released and enter the body through inhalation.


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When you also add on top of that the addictiveness of nicotine and the damage the substance can do to the major organs, it results in a highly dangerous habit. Vapes, on the other hand, will not exceed around 250 degrees, which means that combustion never occurs. This is why vapor is released, instead of the smoke from a fire. Whilst e-cigs still have nicotine liquid inside them, the way in which they avoid combustion makes them – according to the UK government website – up to 95% more healthy than cigarettes. If you’re still unsure on why vaping is believed to be healthier than smoking, then here’s a clear explanation by Scott Roberts:

“Smoking is believed to be more harmful than vaping, which is why most experts recommend vaping for chronic smokers who’re struggling to give up the habit. In itself, tobacco isn’t a very harmful compound. However, harmful effects occur when it’s heated… The smoke contains thousands of compounds and most are considered to be highly toxic. Researchers believe that cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals… scientists have cited 250 of them as highly toxic, with 70 of them containing carcinogenic properties.”

As you can see, it is the avoidance of combustion that is crucial. Not only do vapes offer a healthy alternative to smoking, they also are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, it is believed that by 2030 the vape market could be worth around 180 billion dollars. But of course, wherever the money goes, problems usually reside. As vaporizers have changed and adapted, it seems that they may have forgotten their purpose. 

The Disposable Vape

Disposable vapes have been surrounded by much controversy in recent times, especially due to their large appeal to the younger generations and their negative carbon footprint. These devices are increasingly popular in the UK and many government officials have been calling for action to be made against them. But what are they and why do they differ from what Hon Lik supposedly set out to do? First of all, disposable vapes are – would you believe it – disposable.

These devices do not have a refillable option, meaning that you cannot fill up the cartridge with more e-liquid. Instead, you have to throw it away and purchase another. Made from lithium batteries, copper and plastic, these vaporizers need to be carefully disposed of in recycling centers or are a damage to the environment. Many of those who purchase disposable vapes are unaware of this and simply throw them on the floor or in any random bin. According to BBC news, over half of these devices are thrown directly in the bin, with around 1.3 million of them being thrown every week. The issue is, these vapes have around 600 puffs in them and are worth only around £5 in the UK. The vapes that are refillable cost around £20, which makes them a more expensive option for buyers.

The disposable vape is the epitome of a short-term purchase and perhaps this is why they are increasingly popular with the younger generations. This is the second issue with disposable vapes. They are designed to ooze temptation, with many different colors and flavorings, they’re like candy in a sweet store. In fact, other than the fact they contain nicotine, there really aren’t any similarities left between these devices and cigarettes. As a result, many young people who did not even smoke to begin with are now beginning to get hooked on disposable vapes. The Guardian writes:

“Despite it being illegal to sell the devices to under-18s, research indicates a steep rise in underage vaping over the last five years, with the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who say they use e-cigarettes doubling in the past 12 months alone”

TikTok and other social media sites are advertising to under 18s without restriction. The question does have to be asked: what is the purpose of the disposable vape? It seems – with its colourful design and fruity flavours – that this device was made for younger people. However, none of the companies leading in the industry, such as Elbar and Geekbar, are being held accountable. In their eyes, they are not doing anything wrong. 

Final Thoughts – Should Disposable Vapes be Banned?

Elfbar recently spoke to BBC news and recognized that the growing rate of the vape market does have environmental implications. Their next move is to implement recycling boxes for retailers to use to collect the vapes, as well as designing them to be longer lasting in the future. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that vaporizers have become an issue. The question is, is it a big enough issue to warrant a ban? Well, with 9% of 11 to 15 year olds in the UK using e-cigs, there does seem to be a problem.

The issue is, how can you avoid ever banning cigarettes but then suddenly decide to ban a much less harmful disposable vape. It just wouldn’t make sense. The industry is led by money and, therefore, it is highly unlikely that these appealing devices will be banned. Nonetheless, it is definite that something needs to change. There needs to be more of an effort by these companies in altering their design to stop appealing to younger generations. Why do they need to be so colorful? Why do they need to have raspberry fizz, kiwi watermelon and pink lemonade flavor?

There are plenty of actual smokers out there who enjoy the flavor of cigarettes, these e-cigs do not appeal to them whatsoever. Therefore, there needs to be some real change made in the design and some real conversations around their target audience. From a climate change point of view, it seems crazy that disposable vapes are legal to begin with. Hasn’t the environment got enough to deal with? The situation at the moment is not working. BBC writes:

“Material Focus are pushing for vape recycling to be made much easier, and for manufacturers and retailers to install collection points inside shops… Currently large shops must take back all items of small electronic products like disposable vapes in store to be recycled for free, regardless of whether the item was bought in that shop.”

Movements like these ones will hopefully change the negative effects that disposable vapes are having but, at the moment, the situation is not a positive one. The banning of anything does not seem to work and there is a great deal of history that proves that. Nonetheless, hopefully more people become aware of the harm that disposable vapes are causing. Vaporizers can do a lot of good, but it’s devices like these ones that tarnish the name.

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Delta-8 VS Delta-9 THC

Delta-8 is the cannabinoid compound getting a lot of attention these days, but what is it exactly, and how does it compare vs delta-9 THC? Read on to find out more about how these two compounds stack up.

What is delta-9 THC?

We all know delta-9, we all love it. Sometimes referred to as simply THC (which is incorrect), delta-9 is the most famous of the THCs, and the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. It’s found in higher amounts in some plants, and lower amounts in other plants. We generally refer to high-THC plants as marijuana, and low-THC plants as hemp.

In actuality, delta-9 barely exists in raw cannabis plants, and is actually a product of decarboxylation of its parent compound THCA. THCA is not psychoactive, but in the presence of light and heat it loses a carboxyl group, and goes from the chemical formula of THCA (C22H30O4), to the chemical formula for delta-9 THC (C₂₁H₃₀O₂), which is psychoactive.

Delta-9 THC is very closely related to other forms of THC, which we refer to as delta-THCs. They all share the same chemical formula. In fact, the only difference between these separate THC compounds, is the placement of a double carbon bond. For delta-9 THC, it takes place on the 9th carbon atom. For delta-10 THC its on the 10th atom in the chain. For delta-7 it’s on the 7th atom, and for delta-8, its on the 8th. All these delta-THCs only differ in the physical presentation of their molecules.


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Delta-9 is a naturally occurring compound, meaning its found in nature. This is not true of all delta-THCs. Delta-10, for example, was made accidentally through the use of a catalyzer, and doesn’t actually appear in this configuration in nature. Other delta THCs like delta-8, do appear in nature, and are therefore also considered naturally occurring compounds.

What is delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC, as explained, is another delta-THC, which means its an isomer of delta-9. Isomer means they have the same chemical formula, but with a different configuration of atoms. As also explained above, this means it differs from delta-9 THC only in the placement of a double bond, and is chemically identical otherwise.

Also like delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC is naturally occurring, which means it can be found in nature, although in much smaller quantities than delta-9, regardless of whether dealing with marijuana or hemp. It’s not entirely understood how delta-8 is formed, but the main belief is that it’s a product of the breakdown of delta-9. Delta-9 is mainly known for breaking down into CBN, but there is a small amount that does not, and its thought that this small amount degrades to other compounds, including a tiny amount to delta-8 THC.

Delta-8 and delta-9 THC

When made industrially however, delta-8 is made from either delta-9 or CBD. And its done through synthetic processing meaning rather than being extracted directly, its made from component parts of other compounds, put together with unnatural processing. You can technically do these processes yourself if you have the know-how.

Delta-8 was discovered around the same time as delta-9, in the original research by Roger Adams and then Raphael Mechoulam. It was synthesized for the first time by Mechoulam in the 1960’s. It was even the subject of studies by Mechoulam into nausea and vomiting of cancer patients, but most of that research remained buried for many years, and there has been very little research into the compound since that time.

Delta-8 vs delta-9

The reality of delta-8 vs delta-9 is that they’re practically the same chemically, and have shown to have many of the same medical benefits. Delta-8 has been indicated for use with nausea and vomiting, as well as anxiety, and likely can be used for many of the other purposes as delta-9, though since the actual research doesn’t exist, its hard to say this for sure.

Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 THC

One of the interesting aspects of delta-8 vs delta-9 is that though delta-9 products are generally direct extractions of the plant, most delta-8 products (possibly all) are not actually directly extracted, but synthesized in a lab. This is a direct result of the minuscule amount that shows up naturally, which is not enough for product production. So even though it is naturally occurring, the form that’s used, is always a synthesized version, at least commercially.

This puts it in a strange legal place. As a naturally derived compound, its legal under the definition of hemp, so long as it comes from the hemp plant (not over .3% THC). If its from the marijuana plant, it’s automatically illegal federally, just like delta-9. In theory, it can therefore be extracted from hemp, and sold legally, except for that little confounding factor, that it ends up being synthesized from delta-9 or CBD, which means using processes that no longer fit under the definition of hemp. Even despite this discrepancy, not much has been done to stop the ‘hemp-derived’ delta-8 market, likely because it’s difficult and expensive for the US government to fully go after it, especially in this climate of growing cannabis acceptance.

In terms of whether they actually have different effects, this is hard to say. Original research by Mechoulam turned up evidence that delta-8 is less intense vs delta-9, providing less psychoactive high, at a ratio of 3:2. It’s also pointed to as causing less anxiety, and providing a clear-headed high, with less couch locking, and more energy. Unfortunately, with the lack of follow-up research, these points really aren’t confirmed at all. Plus, ‘less strong’ always comes with the stipulation that if more is taken, the same high can still be reached.

Another differentiating factor between the two compounds? The degradation process that creates delta-8 comes from oxidation of delta-9. And through this process, the loss of electrons makes the resulting delta-8 more stable, and with a longer shelf-life.

Legality delta-8 vs delta-9

The thing is, its become commonplace for delta-8 products and other cannabinoid products to be sold all over the place. I’m not even talking dispensaries, but corner stores, gas stations, any little side store out there. Because of the seeming loophole attached to it as ‘hemp-derived’, and the inability of the government to stamp it out, it ends up in a lot of places where delta-9 isn’t accessible. This doesn’t mean its technically legal, but it does mean it’s widely available.

Even delta-9 products under the term ‘hemp-derived’ have started popping up in the same way. The state of Minnesota became an unwittingly legal state when it legalized hemp-derived THC for edible products. Both the hemp-derived version of delta-8 and delta-9 can be found in illegal states, as they are sold outside standard regulation.

Laws for delta-8 vs delta-9
Laws for delta-8 vs delta-9

Just to clarify, the term ‘hemp-derived’, much like ‘naturally-derived’, doesn’t mean that something is actually extracted directly from hemp, or in the case of ‘naturally-derived’ directly from something natural. It just means it has some of those natural components, along with other unnatural components or processing. How much something specifically fits under the definition of hemp, is determined by the presence of these other unnatural ingredients or processes used. The DEA even recently confirmed that synthetic delta-8 is most certainly illegal because of these definitions. This was backed-up as well by Shopify refusing to allow such products on its platform.

When it comes to delta-8 vs delta-9, some will say delta-8 is legal, whereas delta-9 is not. Some states have even made their own regulation to try to tamp down this market, either legalizing or illegalizing delta-8 THC because of the confusion. What’s the real answer? Well, it’s not for me to say, and it’s hard to say anyway. After all, does it matter if something is illegal if no one will do anything about it anyway? As it seems the delta-8 market relies a lot on not having access to standard weed, one must wonder if a full cannabis legalization, will wipe out the industry anyway.

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Conclusion

What’s the real deal with delta-8 vs delta-9? Honestly, its hard to say in the end because we just don’t know. What we do know is that they’re nearly chemically identical, and seem to provide mainly similar effects and benefits. One is well known, and one is a product of the 2018 US Farm Bill, and a desire to provide a legalized version of the psychoactive part of cannabis.

For anyone looking to use delta-8 products, best to know there’s no regulation in this industry, that testing facilities have shown to be bogus, and that its going to be hard to know what exactly you’re getting, and of what quality. This is just a reality of the industry. On the plus side, delta-8 has shown to be just as safe vs delta-9, so unless you’re dealing with the most unscrupulous of vendors, using the worst of additives, you’ll probably get a decent enough product.

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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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Czech Republic Now Moving Toward Legalization

First Malta fell, becoming the first EU country to allow some form of recreational cannabis legalization. Then Switzerland and Germany made companion announcements for new legal industries, both working on promised legislation. Now, the Czech Republic shows the domino effect that’s going on in Europe, as it too looks toward a legalization.

What’s the news?

The reality is, we don’t have a lot of specifics on anything, not even who made the decision in government, or whether it was a full decision, or just an idea that’s been put forward. We don’t have dates given for when any of the process started, or confirmations for any of what might happen. I want to point that out because it makes it hard to know if this is something we can now expect, or if it’s the next headline where nothing actually happened, or happened yet, and where the thing spoken about doesn’t have to happen at all.

So, here’s the minimal amount we do know. Germany announced it would legalize recreational cannabis via new legislation for which no date was given, and to open a market for which no formal information was provided. Germany’s announcement came on the heels of Switzerland announcing the same thing. In October, Germany released possible draft guidelines for its upcoming weed industry, and shortly after, the Czech Republic made its announcement to move toward a legalization.

In fact, it seems the Czech Republic’s idea is to try to coordinate its own legalization effort, with that of Germany’s. This makes a certain amount of sense as the countries are not simply right next door to each other (Czech Republic sits on the east side of Germany), but the land of the Czech Republic is actually poking into Germany, making them about as close a neighbors can get.


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The Czech Republic is run by a coalition government, which is said to be in the process of drafting a legalization bill. The expected presentation date given is March 2023, with the hope of a full market opening by early 2024. We do know that in September, drug commissioner Jindřich Vobořil was tasked with drafting this bill. Vobořil has subsequently stated his effort will be in tandem with Germany.

Via Facebook post he stated: “We are in contact with our German colleagues, and we have repeatedly confirmed that we want to coordinate by consulting each other on our proposals.” I expect as Germany gets farther with its own plans, we’ll see its companion partner in this, the Czech Republic, also acting accordingly.

Like most other countries considering legalizations, the government has already begun talking about tax revenue, and trying to stamp out the black market. It seems the oft touted lines we used to hear, espousing ideas of industries bringing in huge amounts of money, are no longer the norm. As cannabis has failed to actually be a big money maker (mostly because of those black markets, overtaxed legal product, and over-production issues), I no longer see big claims on this front for how lucrative it will be for a country, beyond collecting tax money.

How much does the country think it can make? According to smallest government coalition member the Czech Pirate Party – who act as one of the biggest advocates for legalization, about €800 million ($782 million) yearly. This assuming it can divert enough from the black market.

While we don’t know exactly how any decision was made, or how finite any of these statements are, (given the lack of legal change), its been posited by Forbes writers that the Czech Republic is following up on meetings held earlier in June between several European countries including Germany, Malta, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The point of the meetings was in finding ways to collectively move toward the finish line with legalizations, possibly as a way of making sure upcoming regulations and laws can work between countries.

What else is expected from this possible? definite? upcoming legalization?

Without a change in law, or a vote of some kind, the idea that this has to happen, really isn’t a thing. Right now there’s a Facebook post that acts as an announcement, and a good reason to believe the country wants to do it for monetary reasons. But there doesn’t seem to be anything saying it must happen. This is something to bear in mind, as it means there’s no official decision, or at least, not one I’ve seen. The Czech Republic is a democracy, it doesn’t run off one official making a statement. It is quite possible we simply haven’t been made privy to the other changes that back this up, but that in and of itself, is a bit odd.

Cannabis legalization Czech Republic

Regardless of whether this is something meant to stick, or is just a possible bill, that will possibly pass, here are a few of the other things that Vobořil says will be a part of it. In a local news interview, he stated that cannabis would be sold in pharmacies, both recreational and medical, so long as the pharmacy has correct licensing. And that sales would likely come from dispensaries as well.

He explained about the possibility of letting different municipalities decide for themselves if they want to be a part of the industry, or ban it from their locations. And mentioned the possible inclusion of a Spain-like social club model, though how this actually fits in, or if it would happen, remain – like most of it – unclear.

Of this, Vobořil said, “My colleagues in Germany are talking about permitted quantities, and they don’t have the cannabis clubs that we foresee. I certainly want to hold the cannabis clubs until my last breath. This model seems very useful to me, at least for the first few years.” This shows that though the country is working in tandem with Germany to a degree, that we can also expect it to go off in other directions as it sees fit.

He continued that he wants a partnership established with Germany in terms of supplying one another, but this already goes against the German draft guideline of not importing product. Perhaps he thinks Germany might change its mind, or create a deal solely with the Czech Republic. As Germany is still constructing legislation, this isn’t impossible. Perhaps Vobořil’s statement is meant to put some ideas in Germany’s head.

Vobořil said more about this impending draft bill, letting on to German state-owned international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, that he wants to “try to ensure that as little cannabis as possible is consumed through conventional smoking because that is most damaging to health.” This is interesting as it a) shows an understanding not often seen in US press that smoking of anything (not just cigarettes) is dangerous, and b) would easily promote vaping, something still demonized in the US.

Cannabis laws in Czech Republic so far

Right now in the Czech Republic, until changes are officially made, there is no cannabis legalization for recreational use, though the country stands as one of the more liberal EU countries when it comes to marijuana. For one thing, it maintains a decriminalization measure. According to the law which went into effect January 1, 2010, residents can possess up to 15 grams, and up to five plants. Possession of more than this amount, incurs a civil fine if what is possessed is still for personal use only. A person who is convicted of a possession crime can face a fine up to 15,000CZK ($617), but its usually not this much. Offenders with more than the allowed amount could also face a year in jail.

Cannabis in Czech Republic
Cannabis in Czech Republic

Trafficking is predictably illegal, and comes with jail sentences of 2-10 years. The two years is actually a minimum penalty. In the most extreme cases, these terms can go up to 10-18 years, with 18 years set as a maximum penalty. In some more minor trafficking cases, the offender might face only a suspended sentence, or some alternate punishment. This is usually if the traffickers are not actually making a significant income.

The country also has a medical program which went into effect on April 1, 2013, after votes in both the Czech Chamber of Deputies, and Czech Senate passed the legislation with pretty wide margins (Czech Chamber of Deputies voted 126 for and seven against, Senate voted 67 for and two against). The law allows the sale of cannabis in pharmacies via prescription.

For those able to access a prescription, the law provides for 180 grams of dry flower monthly, and that prescriptions must come from specialized physicians, allowable in electronic form. As per the bill, only imports were allowed for the first year to make sure standards were met. After that, the market opened wider, including domestic growing.

The Czech Republic does have one cannabis law that puts it at odds with the EU in general, and this regards hemp and maximum THC levels. EU mandate stipulates no more than .3% THC for industrial hemp; a limit that was raised in December 2021 from .2%. Technically, since this change doesn’t go into effect until the beginning of 2023, the limit right now is still at .2%.

Now, we know Switzerland has a higher amount, allowing up to 1% THC, but Switzerland, though considered part of Europe, is not an EU member country. The Czech Republic is, and it quite completely breaks with EU mandate by also allowing up to 1% THC. This 1% is applicable to “industrial, technical and garden purposes, including sales.”

Conclusion

We’ve now officially gone from waiting for bills to get passed, or votes to be made, to government officials simply making posts on Facebook. In such situations, this lack of legal definition can spell uncertainty. However in this situation, with such a strict trajectory set, I do think its safe to say the Czech Republic is moving toward legalization. Let’s just remember…it hasn’t happened yet and the old rules still stand for now.

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German Federal Court Ruling Creates Confusion About Impending Legalization

So, Germany is just about to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Initial draft guidelines were even released. Which makes it strange that the German Federal Court of Justice just enforced a ruling against two guys who sold hemp flowers with not more than .2% THC. In fact, it sounds a lot like what we already went through when France tried to stop imports of CBD into the country, and had to be shut down by the EU. Will this change anything?

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First off, what just happened?

The story starts well before Germany made the decision to legalize recreational cannabis. In 2021, two guy were convicted in a court in Berlin for selling CBD flowers in large quantities. This decision was recently upheld by the higher German Federal court, even despite it not making sense with EU law, or upcoming German law. The flowers didn’t have more than .2% THC, and at the time, that was the industry cut off for what is legal and what is not. Hemp flowers under that amount, have been legal for awhile.

Yet on October 14th, 2022, despite the THC limit not gone over, and despite laws in the works that literally invalidate all of this, the German Federal Court confirmed the earlier ruling which convicted the two men; with suspended sentences that include years of jail time. In a press release on the matter, it was stated:

“The 6th criminal senate of the BGH has now decided that CBD flowers – as long as they have not been de-resinized or only contain traces of THC in negligible amounts – are narcotics, since abuse of these products for intoxicating purposes cannot be ruled out.” Which means the court actually considers that the men were dealing in narcotics, even though they weren’t breaking EU law.

Cannabis in Germany

To be clear, its not like the court is even saying the guys were trying to sell the products illegally. They state in the press release: “According to the judgment of the district court, the main defendant – with the support of the second defendant and an unknown third party – acquired 60 kg of cannabis plant flowers with a high proportion of the active ingredient cannabidiol (CBD) in September and October 2019. He sold the CBD flowers to wholesalers for a profit, who in turn sold them to late sales outlets and CBD shops.”

Yet it goes on to say these next confusing statements. First this: “the district court rightly classified the CBD flowers as narcotics within the meaning of Annex I to the Narcotics Act (BtMG). The flowers did not fall under a cannabis exemption. They did have an active ingredient content of 0.2% THC and thus did not exceed the limit specified in the exemption.”

But then after essentially pointing out that legal limits were not exceeded, says, “However, there was no requirement that abuse for intoxicating purposes must be ruled out. If the flowers were heated during baking, for example, this led to the release of further THC, which could produce a cannabis intoxication when consumed by the end user. The main defendant was aware of this, but his assistant was indifferent.”

One could realistically ask what the point is in having legal limits if a court is going to so badly trample on them.

What about EU law?

Even if the German high court wants to get wonky with this ruling at a completely inappropriate time considering national policy for recreational use is on the way, it still brings up something else. Compliance with EU law. You see, the flowers in this case weren’t grown in Germany, but in Spain. By barring them, it would mean barring Spain from being able to trade a product deemed legal by EU law. EU law upholds the ability for free trade between member states without issue. The recent case of France vs the EU should have put this idea of banning CBD products to rest already, since France lost the case, and with it, the ability to bar imports of CBD.

And it seems this idea was on the mind of the court, which seems to think simply saying its not breaking with the mandate, somehow makes it not break with the mandate. Which it in reality seems to be doing. It sounds like the court knows this is an issue, because before anyone could say anything, it added in this to its statement:

German high court ruling
German high court ruling

“Contrary to the opinion of the appeal, the conviction for trading in CBD flowers does not constitute a violation of the free movement of goods under European law (Art. 34 TFEU) that the flowers were legally produced in Spain.”

But, doesn’t it? I mean, wouldn’t you need a really good reason? Apparently, the best the Court could do was reiterate that “Because the flowers were narcotics, with which trade is prohibited from the outset and which are therefore not subject to the free movement of goods.” I mean, maybe that would make sense, if the EU also agreed that this classifies as a narcotic. But it doesn’t.

Yet the Court’s statement really wants to put words in the EU’s mouth. It goes on, “The standards of European law on which this assessment is based were so clear according to the relevant legal norms and so far clarified by the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) that there was no reason to obtain a decision from the ECJ on compatibility with European law (Art. 267 TFEU ).”

So the German high court made the decision on behalf of the EU that it was okay to classify these flowers as narcotics even though the EU has a standard that allows for .2% THC (actually changed to .3%). By sheer definition the EU most certainly doesn’t agree, and the German court just brushed off the need to even ask.

It concluded with: “In view of the possibility of a health-endangering misuse of CBD blossoms for intoxication purposes, the Senate did not see any violation of the constitutional prohibition on excess in the punishability of trading in them.

The judgment of the Berlin Regional Court is now final.”

Let’s break this down. A country currently developing laws to allow recreational THC products, has a high court that just not only upheld the convictions of two men following EU law perfectly, but was ballsy enough to make a statement saying it was so sure of itself, it didn’t even need to ask the EU for permission.

EU cannabis law
EU cannabis law

What comes next?

Is this supposed to be some sort of hail Mary pass for all those unhappy with the new regime of Germany, and the move toward legalization? Is it expected to change the trajectory? Did someone actually think it would? Truth is, once the new laws come out, all this is invalidated anyway. The court might want to call it a narcotic, but the country is about to legalize it.

Plus, the men in question can do exactly what the two French guys Sébastien Béguerie and Antonin Cohen, did. Take their convictions to the EU high court. After all, if the EU doesn’t agree, the convictions can be invalidated. Those guys were convicted of marketing and selling hemp-derived CBD vapes in France, that came from the Czech Republic, which was within EU law. When France went against the EU and tried to ban the imports, it lost the case, because that violated EU trade law, which allows products to be sold without issue across borders.

Now, Germany is upholding the convictions of two men for almost the same thing. Giving those men the ability to take it to the EU. The question is whether the EU high court will see fit to hear the case. On the one hand, if it doesn’t hear the case, it allows its own ruling with France to be invalidated. On the other hand, doesn’t it have more important things to do than continuously look at the same issue? Personally, I hope it takes the case, and it might given the attention on it now. Or, it could ignore it, and figure that like it or not, Germany’s new laws will also end up invalidating the issue.

Conclusion

Most of all, the latest German high court ruling shows silliness, and petulance. How childish does a court system have to be to make such a judgement 1) as laws are literally in construction to invalidate the effort, and 2) when such a similar case was already lost by France so recently. Sure, maybe not everyone is on board with everything, but making it into such a temper tantrum when a legalization is coming? Stop being such cranky child, Germany!

This case won’t stop the legalization. It just serves to waste time and money, both for Germany, and for the EU if it must now do more work to uphold a ruling it already made.

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Mounting Frustration with VA as Veterans Seek Psychedelic Treatments Overseas 

Despite the fact that overall support for psychedelics legalization remains low, one thing the majority of Americans do agree on is that veterans should have access to the drugs, particularly for the treatment of PTSD, depression, and other mental health disorders. According to a poll released earlier this year by YouGov, and internet-based public opinion and data company, a total of 54% of Americans support this (60% democrats, 45% republicans, 54% independents).  

And yet, veterans still cannot utilize these compounds. Not only that, but the men and women who served our country (the good ole’ U S of A), are being forced to travel across borders and overseas (on their own dime), to access these potentially life-saving treatments. To say that’s unfair, would be a gross and offensive understatement. Although clinical studies are underway and some areas in the US are beginning to decriminalize psychedelic drugs, for many, it’s too little too late.  

What’s the Story? 

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a cabinet-level executive branch of the federal government that is tasked with providing life-long healthcare services to military veterans at one of their many medical centers and outpatient clinics in the country. While the VA has helped veterans in countless ways, like with any government department, they are still lacking in many regards.  

When it comes to psychedelic-assisted therapies, there’s even more to be desired. Currently, it’s impossible for veterans to access psychedelic-assisted therapies through the VA, which means they are forced to continue using ineffective and possibly dangerous medications, or seek psychedelic treatment options on their own.  

Doing so can be risky and challenging in a variety of different ways. First of all, it’s expensive. Not only do patients have to pay for the treatment themselves, 100% out of pocket, but they also have to pay for travel arrangements which can include flights, hotels, rental cars, food, and other accommodations. This is simply not financially feasible for your average American.  

It can also be dangerous. Usually, activity at psychedelic retreats and places of that nature go relatively smoothly, but problems can arise. Aside from possibly getting sick, there is a fair chance that a bad trip can occur, since the person is using powerful hallucinogens in an unfamiliar setting with unfamiliar people.  

But all that aside, the main point here is that forcing veterans to leave the country for medical treatment, is just not right. Take former Navy SEAL, Marcus Capone, who spent almost 10 years unsuccessfully trying to manage PTSD and depression that developed from a mild traumatic brain injury. Following advice from a fellow SEAL, Capone began traveling to Mexico for Ibogaine therapy.  

“The results were immediate”, Capone stated. “It [ibogaine] worked so fast, it was kind of scary,” he added. Other vets share similar stories, like Army Veteran Tom Slattery who didn’t see any improvements in his PTSD until he tried 5-MeO DMT for the first time. Or Army Veteran Phil Sussman, who has been traveling to Peru for ayahuasca ceremonies.  

Because of this profound success, a handful of veterans have been launching non-profits in order to help other military veterans access psychedelic treatments for themselves. Capone and his wife operate one known as Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions. A few other of note are Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions and Heroic Hearts Project, both of which are also helping veterans get to different countries in Latin America for these therapies, as well as providing them with various resources for preparation and reintegration.  

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? 

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can affect people who have witnessed or experienced some type of traumatic event. For a long time, the focus was on veterans with PTSD, which makes sense as it impacts them at a much higher rate than the general population. But anyone can suffer from PTSD, and it’s common after natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist acts, and sexual assaults.  


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About 6 out of every 100 Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. In the veteran population, that number is much higher. While it varies slightly based on age, time served, what war was fought, and other factors, it’s estimated that around 11-30 veterans out of every 100 have experienced PTSD. 

People with PTSD may have very intense and highly disturbing thoughts related to the event that impacted them. This can play out as flashbacks, nightmares, sadness, fear, anger, anxiety, detachment, and aggression. These symptoms can last long after the traumatic event has ended, sometimes, they last forever. Because treatment options (successful ones, anyway) are severely limited, some people feel like the only way to mediate the symptoms is to avoid any possible triggers, a method that can really hamper one’s quality of life.  

Psychedelics and PTSD  

Over the years, psychedelics have proven themselves to be one of the most successful treatment options for many different mental health disorders. An overwhelming 82% percent of Americans are in favor of accelerating research on this front, but federal regulations have really been a stick in the wheel of progress here.  

Out of the emerging studies that have been conducted over the last few years, one this is abundantly clear – psychedelics can be extremely effective at treating a myriad of mental health conditions. Clinical trials have shown us that when paired with psychotherapy/talk therapy, there were “positive and profound long-term outcomes for patients suffering from conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” 

The push for more research is so powerful that some states like Colorado and Connecticut, as well as a handful of individual cities, are starting the path to medical psychedelics legalization. Much of the momentum for these changes came from the testimony of military veterans who have been using hallucinogenic drugs on their own terms when they found that standard treatments were ineffective.  

What’s great about decriminalization, is that people caught with psychedelics will no longer be treated like criminals. So people don’t have to worry about possessing a small amount of psychedelic drugs for personal use, but since they are still federally illegal, local decriminalization do absolutely nothing for advancing research efforts.  

What’s more, even in the rare circumstances that people are granted early access to psychedelic treatments (as is the case in Connecticut with around 100 individuals participating in such programs), they’re still not covered by health insurance. Psychedelic-assisted therapy is very expensive, and not something that most low to middle income Americans could afford to do on a regular basis.  

Final Thoughts

The fight for access to psychedelics therapy is in full swing, and we can largely thank our veterans for that. Whether they’re fighting for our freedom overseas or battling for our rights on the home front, the one thing we can all agree on is that they need our support. Get the word out, get involved with a grassroots organization, or just get out and vote for politicians who support progressive and reasonable drug reform. The tools are there, and so is the want and need for psychedelic legalization, we just need to work collectively as a united front, and we’ll see the changes we’ve been searching for. Happy Veteran’s Day.

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Delta 8 vs Delta 10

We hear these names a lot, but we don’t always know the difference between them. Is one stronger? Is one considered better? When it comes to delta 8 vs delta 10, they are both new ways to get high and access cannabis benefits, but come with a couple important differences. Read on to find out more.


Delta 8 vs delta 10 – What are they?

So, what are these names which have been popping up in corner stores all across America in the last few years, and causing much debate in many states and the federal government over legality issues? Both are considered cannabis cannabinoids, and fit into the cannabinoids market, along with other compounds like HHC, THCO, and CBN. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re both directly extracted from the plant.

Delta 8 can actually be directly extracted from the cannabis plant, because it’s a compound that exists within it. The problem, is that unlike delta 9 and CBD – the two most prevalent cannabinoids, delta 8 shows up in such tiny amounts, that direct extraction in the amount necessary for product production, isn’t possible. Though it is naturally occurring, when we use it in products, we’re using a synthesized form of it, made from CBD or THC (it must come from hemp to at least be somewhat Farm Bill compliant).

Delta 8 THC

On the other side, delta 10 doesn’t occur naturally in the cannabis plant. It’s just not a part of it. The reason we know about it is because it was found by mistake back in 1980. At that time, the California company Fusion Farms was making concentrates, while also dealing with the natural disaster of wildfires in the area. As it happened, when their outdoor supply was contaminated with flame retardant chemicals, the workers began finding crystals of an unfamiliar nature in their product. The crystals were studied and found to be a slightly different compound than standard delta 9.

The difference is a minor one. The same minor different for all delta THCs. Delta 8, delta 9, and delta 10 are all identical except for the placement of a double bond. For delta 8 its on the 8th carbon atom, for delta 9 it on the 9th, and for delta 10 its on the 10th. When looking at delta 7, same concept, the double bond is on the 7th carbon atom. All of these delta compounds, regardless of where the double bond is, have the same chemical formula of: C₂₁H₃₀O₂.

Delta 8 vs delta 10 similarities and differences

These delta THCs are all isomers of each other, which means they have the same chemical formula, with just that one alternation in chemical structure regarding the placement of the double bond. They are also analogues of one-another because they are so closely related structurally and functionally, meaning they have nearly identical medical profiles attached. The general consensus seems to be that they feel about the same, and therefore may possibly be used interchangeably for many medical issues.

One of the main things to understand about these compounds, especially when looking at the differences between them, is that even now, we still don’t know much. This is because there’s still very little official research. When it comes to the effects of delta 8 vs delta 10, nothing online indicates any big difference, yet no study confirms this. The only real evidence is opinions on message boards, and the grand majority show users ultimately have the same experience with both. There are no formal studies of comparison, so those opinions are the best we’ve got. When it comes to delta 10, the research is generally lacking in all categories.

However, delta 8 actually was studied back in the 1900’s, as it was synthesized for the first time when delta 9 was, in the 1960s. By Raphael Mechoulam. At that time, a few things were indicated about it, but without any real follow-up. Beyond the fact it showed useful for cancer, both in fighting the disease, as well as the symptoms like nausea and vomiting (all of which were ignored for decades), there were a few other possible attributes to the compound.

It’s often quoted from research from that time period, that delta 8 is about 2/3 the potency of delta 9, and that it provides a clearer headed high, with less anxiety, and more energy. However, none of this was further proven, and the idea that it might be slightly weaker simply means a person would need to ingest more to reach the same high, not that they can’t. It also could be that only one strain was studied, and that this might not be true of all delta 8 samples. We just don’t know.

Delta 10 THC
Delta 10 THC

When it comes to delta 10, there isn’t much to go on at all. Personal experience seems to be the only indicator, and in terms of my own, I’ve never felt any difference between any of these compounds. At least not more than expected for using different strains, and with different terpene profiles. Though you might find opinions here or there that state (or restate) originally mentioned ideas of one being stronger than the other, or providing a specific benefit, that seems to be more about the hype that occurs when something new enters the market, and nothing more.

One of the issues that delta 10 presents when looking at delta 8 vs delta 10, is that though they are both formulated synthetically, delta 10 comes with the detraction that it requires a catalyst, which in the first place was flame retardant chemicals. I have yet to see a site selling this product that explains a clean way of making it, which means its quite possible that most or all batches are synthesized with dangerous materials.

Delta 8 vs delta 10 legalities

This part gets a bit tricky in some ways, but is more clear cut in others. Both delta 8 and delta 10 are sold in the cannabinoid gray/black market, under the line of legality via the 2018 US Farm Bill. Now, that bill did legalize the cultivation and use of industrial hemp, but it put a very strict definition on the term ‘hemp’, which goes like this:

“…the plant Cannabis Sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

What it doesn’t allow into the definition, is any amount of synthetic processing. So even if the delta 8 and delta 10 you buy came from component parts of the hemp plant, their synthetization would no longer fit under this definition of hemp if any other non-cannabis component was used. This was confirmed in September 2021, when a letter was sent by the DEA to Donna C. Yeatman, R.Ph., the executive secretary of Alabama’s Board of Pharmacy.

It went through different aspects of hemp law, including this statement: “Thus, D8-THC synthetically produced from non-cannabis materials is controlled under the CSA as a “tetrahydrocannabinol.” As in, once it involves anything not from the cannabis plant, like a catalyst, its no longer regulated as hemp, but goes back to regulation as a tetrahydrocannabinol in the Controlled Substance list, meaning being treated as a Schedule I substance.

Cannabis and delta THCs
Cannabis and delta THCs

The thing is, whether something is technically legal or not, is sometimes less important (in terms of ability for sale) then the simple idea of whether anyone will do anything about it. In the case of the cannabinoid market, and the already losing drug war against cannabis, it seems going after this market isn’t easy to do. Thus, allowing it to fit into what I like to call the no-one-will-do-anything-about-it loophole. True legal loophole? No. Loophole that works nonetheless? Yes!

Truth is, its not even for me to sit and say what the final answer on legality is. The fact that there’s a debate at all means there isn’t a legal consensus, or at least, not one being enforced. Different states have taken different measures on their own in legalizing or banning delta 8 and other cannabinoids, but this remains inconsistent between locations across the country.

Some Products to Choose From

Interested in trying Delta 8 or Delta 10 products for yourself? Well we have some great deals for you to choose from below. Check them out and act while supplies last!


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Conclusion

If you’re trying to make a decision between delta 8 vs delta 10, the first thing to realize is that they’re not functionally different in terms of how you’ll feel, and I can say that having tried plenty of both. What does affect the experience, is all those other terpenes and cannabinoids involved. This is the same when dealing with delta 9 as well. Think of how much difference there is between indica and sativa strains, and that’s just delta 9. Delta 8 and 10 have all those same variations as well.

Any product you buy with either of these compounds is going to have undergone some amount of processing. Whereas creating delta 8 is not necessarily associated with dangerous catalysts, not as much has been put out about safe ways to make delta 10, and this could be one of the things that separates them most. If you’re looking for a cleaner product, it might be safer to go with delta 8. Is that for sure? Well, in a completely unregulated industry, the answer is unfortunately, no. As with delta 9 however, both compounds seem to be perfectly safe, though this doesn’t necessarily account for processing techniques.

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The Cost of Getting Caught with Psychedelics

It’s fun to do a little law-breaking sometimes, especially when the laws in question don’t make much sense. But getting caught isn’t any fun, and when it involves drugs, there can be large, sometimes way-more-than-necessary consequences to deal with. Recently I went over the cost of getting caught with weed. Today, let’s look at the cost of getting caught with psychedelics.

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Is it just one cost?

First, I want to make one thing clear, we are only talking about psychedelics right now. ‘Psychedelics’ are a grouping under the term ‘hallucinogens,’ and though the term has recently been used to include drugs like ketamine, PCP, salvia, amanita mushrooms, and MDMA, these are not actually classified as psychedelics. What they all provide, is an ability for hallucinations, but that creates a much wider category that involves way too many drugs to get into right now.

For the sake of not having this go off the rails, I’m limiting this question to classic psychedelics, which include LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline, and which are technically the only drugs under the ‘psychedelics’ category. For all intents and purposes, we can include MDMA since it’s so often seen as a psychedelic. I’m only getting into simple possession of these drugs, since that’s the majority of what people reading this article, will face. All five of the drugs mentioned are Schedule I, meaning they are all lumped together legally in terms of the federal government.

The cost of getting caught with psychedelics can vary by location. That’s because of states’ rights, which means different states have their own legal policies for dealing with just about everything, including drugs. So, what counts as one thing in one state, might count as something else entirely in another. And the penalties in one state can be vastly different from those in another. If you’re caught by a state agency, the cost of getting caught with psychedelics is determined by that state’s government.

Cost of getting caught with drugs

On the other hand, the federal government has its own policies. When it comes to psychedelics, according to the federal government, they’re all Schedule I controlled substances, deemed dangerous, and without any benefit, medical or otherwise. As a reiteration, since I’m not including dissociative hallucinogens, drugs like ketamine and DXM aren’t included, though these are considered non-classic psychedelics, along with salvia, ibogaine, and even THC.

The last thing to consider is that there are several different psychedelics, and they don’t have to be regulated the same way. In fact, there’s a good reason why they sometimes aren’t on a state level. Some, like DMT and mescaline, are naturally produced by different plants. While others like LSD and MDMA are solely made in a lab. Any location that makes an allowance for ‘entheogenic’ plants, for example, is speaking only of naturally occurring, while ruling out synthetic drugs. This point is relevant to state laws, since the federal government holds all psychedelics as illegal.

The federal cost of getting caught with psychedelics

Right now, all the classic psychedelics are Schedule I controlled substances, although mescaline-producing plants get a pass, which creates a loophole specific to that drug. We’ll get more into that later. Any mescaline outside of a plant is still subject to the same laws as other psychedelics. The following provisions relate to all controlled substances, and include far more than psychedelics, including cannabis as well.

First off, any simple possession of an illegal drug, is a misdemeanor crime. A misdemeanor is considered a less intense criminal act than the more serious felony charge. But is comes with higher penalties than something like an administrative infraction (petty crime). So its sort of in the middle on the general scale of how bad something is. A simple possession amount is considered:

“When someone has on his or her person, or available for his or her use, a small amount of an illegal substance for the purpose of consuming or using it but without the intent to sell or give it to anyone else.” This is important, as simple possession is ruled out if there is an intent to sell. Simple possession is often referred to as a ‘personal use’ amount.

According to the federal government, a misdemeanor charge can incur up to one year in prison, a minimum fine of $1,000, or both. However, that’s for a first offense. Once a person gets caught again, even a simple possession charge can become a felony simple possession charge, making this smaller crime, into one that incurs bigger penalties. To give an idea of how often this happens, consider that between 2008-2013 felony simple possession charges increased by 400%.

Cost of psychedelics penalties
Cost of psychedelics penalties

What’s the difference in penalties after the first offense? Second convictions incur a minimum sentence of 15 days and can go up to two years in prison, and come with a minimum fine of $2,500. Caught again after that? Now you’re looking at a minimum of 90 days behind bars that can go up to three years, and a minimum of $5,000 in fines. Bear in mind, we’re still only talking about personal use.

The OTHER costs of getting caught with psychedelics

So you got caught, and you had to submit to the above penalties. Oh, but wait, that’s not it when it comes to paying out. Don’t forget about civil penalties too. These are fines which are imposed as a form of restitution for doing something wrong. Since they’re seen as a form of compensation, they’re not considered a criminal penalty, and not a part of the standard penalty system. Which means one does not take the place of the other, and you can pay both. When it comes to simple possession of controlled substances, these penalties can go as high as $10,000. And these can be given when there is no criminal prosecution.

More? Really? Yup, there is. Beyond these fines, which can add exorbitant amounts onto an arrest situation, there’s more to consider. When a person is convicted of something like possession, they also might have to pony up the money for the cost of the investigation against them and prosecution fees. Yup, you might have to pay the legal fees of the other side if found guilty. And that’s on top of your own legal fees. And we’re still only talking about simple possession.

That has to be the end, right? I mean, there are some scary drugs out there, but lets remember that everything I’m saying pertains to weed, LSD, and mushrooms. Not only do all the fees and jail time provide a massive cost for getting caught with psychedelics, and other drugs, but there’s still one more thing to consider. Getting a federal drug conviction is like throwing a stone in a pool of water, and watching the waves ripple out.

Jail time, criminal fines, civil fines, personal legal fees, and opponent legal fees… And then there are more costs. Like the fact that it can also result in forfeiture of the property involved, like a car. That you might never be able to own a firearm. Or the possible inability for government help in the form of things like student loans or scholarships. These actions add that much more cost – financial and otherwise – to getting caught with something as simple (and non-life-threatening) as psychedelics.

What about the mescaline loophole?

There’s one great exception to the federal ban on psychedelics, though it has to be used properly in order to not incur penalties. It’s the mescaline loophole. Mescaline is a schedule I substance, so if you have a bag of pure, extracted mescaline, you’re looking at the same punishments as the other Schedule I substances we just went over. Although because of the following loophole, you might at least have a decent basis for an argument to get out of it. Right now that’s just theory though, so don’t assume it’d work.

Mescaline loophole
Mescaline loophole

The loophole is created because mescaline comes from plants, and those plants either aren’t regulated, or are legal for religious use all throughout the US. The unregulated plants are the San Pedro cactus and the Peruvian Torch cactus, both of which contain mescaline, and neither of which is mentioned in the Controlled Substances list. Meaning there are no laws for having, growing, buying, selling, or using these plants. So long as you’re not extracting the mescaline, and only enjoying it as part of the plant, you’re not breaking a law.

What did make it onto the Controlled Substances list, along with mescaline itself, is the Peyote cactus. But even that is perfectly legal when used for religious purposes. This was established by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 that opened use of the plant to Native Americans for religious purposes by requiring government agencies to stay out of it. This was updated in 1991 to include any person looking to use the plant religiously. And it was updated again in 1994 to include harvest, possession, consumption, and cultivation of the plant.

So long as the mescaline you ingest is used while using the entire Peyote plant, and is done with a religious purpose, its legal. And if you want to consume San Pedro or Peruvian Torch, there’s no law stopping you at all. Just don’t take the mescaline out of the plant, if you don’t want a legal battle over it. I expect this could be fought for religious purposes, but no case law exists yet, so be wary.

This loophole doesn’t exist with magic mushrooms in the US, though other locations in the world can take advantage of the similar magic mushroom loophole. That loophole functions comparably in that sometimes the psilocybin in the mushrooms is a controlled substance, while the actual mushrooms are not. In the US, however, both the mushrooms and the compounds inside are schedule I, and without a parameter for religious use.

Conclusion

This guide is for what happens when caught federally with psychedelics. When it comes to states laws, and the cost of getting caught with psychedelics, the laws vary widely and are changing constantly. Oregon legalized some use; Colorado has a ballot measure to do the same this election, and already pre-emptively legalized MDMA; and tons of places have decriminalization measures and/or are working on legalizations. If you want to know penalties for your specific location, you’re best looking for the most recent legal updates.

For information on the cost of getting caught with weed by the federal government and different states, and for general arrest numbers, look here.

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My Journey Through Nepal: Exploring Local Drug Laws

Within the digital nomad lifestyle, sometimes it requires you to try something new and go places you thought you’d never go. Well, as I write this, I’m sitting in a small hostel restaurant in the quiet cobbled streets of Bandipur, Nepal. It’s a tiny village on the road to the Himalayas, with a population of around 5000. I plan to stay in this country for over a month.

Why did I come? Well, there are many reasons why people travel: to experience new cultures, to breathe new life into their current one, to try the insanely tasty food and, in my case, to learn more about how Asian countries deal with drugs. Whilst many nations in the continent have made cannabis and other recreational substances illegal, there’s also another culture that exists. One where drugs are used for spiritual and religious purposes, as well as for rural tasks. I plan to learn more as I go, but here is what I know so far about drug laws in Nepal. Namaste. 

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Laws vs Culture

In every country there are two realities that exist, oddly, side by side. If you were a lawyer, you might label this dichotomy as: de facto and de jure. De facto means the actual reality that takes place on the streets, regardless of what the law might permit. De jure signifies what a nation allows by law, by the book. You’d assume, with police enforcement, that these two things would be the same. However, as many people will be aware, what is written in the law, does not always take place in reality. In fact, usually, it’s quite the opposite.

During the civil rights movement of the 60s in the US, it took a long time before the legal change promoting African American rights turned into anything genuine on the streets. With racism and inequality still very much existing, despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A change in law does not directly cause a change in people. At Least not instantly. In a different sense, the ‘war on drugs’ has also failed. Nixon’s decision to demonize those using drugs, as well as the substances themselves, has not and never will stop production and use. The UN has recently berated this consensus, and called for an end to it, stating that the war on drugs…

“Undermines health and social wellbeing and wastes public resources while failing to eradicate the demand for illegal drugs and the illegal drug market. Worse, this “war” has engendered narco-economies at the local, national and regional levels in several instances to the detriment of national development. Such policies have far-reaching negative implications for the widest range of human rights”

Laws – for good or for worse – do not always directly influence the real world. In the world of drugs, this almost never happens, unless enforced by a dictatorship. Although, even then, Hitler was supposedly a cocaine abuser. Consider, for a second, the cannabis laws within the UK. Whilst the substance is illegal and classed as a type B drug (the second most extreme), there are still 1.4 million cannabis users within the UK. Two realities exist side by side. De jure vs de facto. Laws vs culture. This is what is also being confirmed to me as I travel through Nepal. Whilst many drugs are still illegal here, it doesn’t stop them being an important part of society. 

Nepal 

Nepal is a landlocked country that is situated between the two huge looming nations of China and India. With a population of 30 million, it is slightly bigger than the state of Arkansas or the European country of Portugal. In fact, it is the 25th smallest nation in Asia. Most of Nepal finds itself in the Himalayan mountain ranges, home to, of course, Mount Everest. This beautiful land of mountains, jungles and busy cities is where I will be residing for the next month of my travels. Nepal is believed to have existed back in the ancient times of the 30th Century BC. Whilst India experienced the pointless imperial rule of the UK, Nepal remained unscathed. Record Nepal writes:

“There was little fear of British military intervention in Nepal from the moment the British acquired its newly conquered territories of Kumaon, Garhwal and parts of Sikkim after the Anglo-Gorkha war; the difficulties of a military expedition in the hills of Nepal were clear to the British.”

It is nice, for a change, to visit a country where the United Kingdom hasn’t laid its filthy colonial hands. Nepal is a spiritual nation, with some incredible food and beautiful landscapes. But as I enjoy the fusion of Chinese-Indian food, thukpa and masala, I can’t help but wonder where drugs sit in the culture of this place. 

Drug Laws in Nepal 

During my first day in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, I wandered the tourist streets of Thamel and was probably asked about 50 times whether I wanted to buy hashish or psychedelics. The hash I was expecting, but LSD and magic mushrooms l was not. However, I was also aware that this was a tourist area, and perhaps these dealers were just catering to their Western, drug-loving visitors. Let’s take a look at the drug laws in Nepal, maybe this will help us understand more. 

Anyone who is found purchasing, selling or consuming cannabis or hash in Nepal will be subject to a prison sentence and fine. The length and total fee will depend on the amount of this substance in question. For example, up to 50 grams can result in 3 months in prison, with a 3000 NRS fine. This is around 25 dollars. However, if you’re found with 10kg or over, this can result in a 2-10 year prison term, with a 100,000 NRS fine. This is around 800 dollars. It is interesting that, according to Nepalese law, whatever amount of cannabis or hash you are involved in, it will supposedly lead to a prison sentence. This seems slightly harsh and unlikely to me. As written in the Narcotics Drug Control Act of 1976, much is the same with any other recreational substance:

“Anyone who consumes opium, coca or any other narcotic drugs made therefrom shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to one year or with a fine of up to Rs 10,000… Anyone who consumes any natural or synthetic narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and their salt and other substances… shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to two months and with a fine up to Rs 2,000 or both.”

However, whilst the laws on drugs are strict and have been for some time, there is an inbuilt societal connection to certain substances which cannot be changed. Plus, the mountainous and diverse wildlife that Nepal has, makes it hard to limit the type of natural drugs that grow – such as cannabis or hash.

Drug Culture in Nepal

Hashish, or charas, has grown naturally in Nepal for centuries, some believe it grew in prehistoric times. In fact, it is sometimes considered that the feet of the Himalayas is where cannabis first derived. Could it be that Nepal grew the first ever joint? Nonetheless, the substance does grow there naturally in the wilderness and isn’t stopped by the government. Himalayan Trekkers writes that whilst it is illegal to cultivate, possess or consume cannabis…

“It is said that the wild-grown hashish in the mountains of Nepal is the best among the hashish found in the world… Nepal was known to be heaven for Marijuana lovers in the late 60s and early 70s as marijuana, hashish… were legal before that period. The government of Nepal illegalized the use of Cannabis in 1973 AD because people started migrating to Nepal because of the legal production and trade of Marijuana. “

It is true, before the cannabis ban, Nepal was surely on the hippie trail hotspot list. Plus the substance is also a part of religious and spiritual celebrations. 80% of the Nepalese population follows Hinduism and the pujari and sadhus of this religion have an unofficial exemption from the cannabis ban. It is respected that they use cannabis to help their meditation, which is them imitating Shiva. During Maha Shivaratri – the great night of Shiva – sadhus come together, as well as many others, to smoke hashish in pipes. You can witness this occurrence in temples around Nepal, including Kathmandu. 

Final Thoughts

In Kathmandu the smell of hash was commonly in the air, with holy men holding some questionable pipes. However, as I go further into the mountains and closer to the Himalayas, I expect this type of sight to increase. I’m still waiting to try some myself but I’m certain I will. With the religious connection It seems inevitable that Nepal will one day legalize cannabis, but perhaps also it’s not for the best. The reason they banned it in the first place was to stop drug tourism – I acknowledge the irony of this. Nonetheless, since 2020, there have been many politicians in Nepal who have been advocating a lift of the ban. Perhaps only time will tell. 

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After Weed, What Drugs Are Most Likely to Become Legal? 

Knowing that cannabis legalization is just around the corner, one can only help but wonder, what will be the next drugs to become legal? And when will it happen? Well, weed isn’t even legal yet so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But considering we’re in a sort-of psychedelic renaissance with both policy and public opinion shifting in favor of these compounds, it’s not very off-base to assume that some of them will be more widely accessible one day. What might be next on the list? Let’s take a look.

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Possible timeline for cannabis legalization 

It’s only a matter of time before cannabis is fully legalized, although sometimes it can still be difficult to picture… especially for those of us stuck living in very restrictive prohibition states (I’m looking at you, Midwest and Deep South). But exactly how long is that timeline? Some believe it could happen as early as the end of this year. As much as I would love to see that happen, I’m not sure it will be quite that soon. However, for a few different reasons, I do think we could see weed completely legalized sometime in 2023, or by early 2024 at the latest.  

First, we have midterm elections coming up and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives (as well as 35 of the 100 Senate seats) will be contested, and federal cannabis legalization depends largely on who controls congress. It does seem that republicans currently have the edge, especially as voters continue to worry about inflation other economic issues, but that may not matter as we have been seeing a growing number of pro-cannabis republicans, both in office and constituents.  

Next, we have a handful of states that plan on putting recreational cannabis up for a vote in November. Should they all pass – and it’s likely they will – that will put us over the tipping point with more than half of our states having passed adult-use marijuana laws. It doesn’t sound like much… only a few more states with legal pot, what’s the big deal right? Well, it has many implications for the government so it’s actually a huge deal.  

If more than half the states in our country are openly defying federal law (and many more are towing the line with medical pot), that makes our government look very weak. The last thing a government wants is to look like it has no control over its people. Another thing the government is not too keen on is looking hypocritical. Despite being hypocritical nearly all the time, the more obvious that is to voters, the less trust people have in their government, and the more likely they are to rebel against it.  

On October 6th, President Biden issued a sweeping, unconditional pardon for anyone who has been convicted of simple cannabis possession under federal law. While this is amazing and long overdue news, it does set a very confusing legal precedent. From this point forward, how can people continue to be arrested and charged with cannabis-related crimes that everyone else got pardoned for? It’s hypocrisy to the max, and the only possible thing this could lead to is the government eventually being buried in lawsuits.

All that said, it’s safe to say that pot will likely be legal soon. How soon exactly is up for debate, but once again, I imagine that within a year, we’ll see the changes we’ve been fighting for. And once cannabis is no longer prohibited, it will be time to push these decriminalization and legalization efforts on to new substances.  

Effective dose vs lethal dose ratios  

When looking up how drug prohibition works and what some of the parameters are for legalizing various compounds, a concept that came up frequently was “effective dose vs lethal dose”. This is referring to the dose it takes to get high versus the dose it takes for the drug to kill someone, and how that ratio compares to other drugs.  

For example, the lethal dose to die on alcohol is only 10 times the dose needed to get drunk. Compare this with psilocybin, which has a lethal dose that is estimated to be 1,000 times higher than the effective dose, or even ketamine whose lethal dose is 38 times higher than the effective; one can easily ascertain that psychedelics – both natural and synthetic – are relatively safe.  

Follow the money  

Although our overlords would like to have us think that they are keeping certain substances illegal for reasons like the one I listed above, the reality is, it’s mostly related to money. The government receives a substantial amount of money from several industries that benefit from the prohibition of cannabis and psychedelics. These include oil, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies, big tobacco, the for-profit prison industry, and so on. 

All these industries are funneling hundreds of millions (possibly billions) of dollars to government representatives and lawmakers through political donations, lobbying, and various other types of corporate interest payments. Knowing this makes it easy to conclude that many of the laws we have in place are there to serve the best interests of the corporations that pay our government, rather than the citizens they were elected to represent.  

Taking that into consideration, what can we expect as far as future drug legalization? Honestly, it’s hard to say. On one hand, we’re already seeing policy changes on a smaller scale with a growing number of cities across the country that have decriminalized different psychedelic drugs. Look at Ann Arbor, Michigan, whose city council voted unanimously to decriminalize all entheogenic plants back in September 2020. That includes ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms and truffles, mescaline-containing plants (excluding peyote), ibogaine, and other plants with hallucinogenic properties that are still considered illegal under state and federal law. 

Ann Arbor is probably the most progressive example, but many other cities have decriminalized at least one psychedelic compound, psilocybin being the most common. Based on that information, it’s safe to assume that recreational psychedelics legalization will follow the same path as cannabis reform.  

On the other hand, it does seem unlikely that many of these drugs will be legalized for widespread adult-use… why would the government want to give us that much power over our own happiness and well-being? Yes, cannabis will be totally legal soon, but that took decades of rebellion and we’re still not quite there yet. What’s more plausible is that the government will try to legalize the majority of psychedelic compounds for pharmaceutical use only, since big pharma spends the most on political lobbying and it’s easier to get medical legalization bills passed anyway.  

It’s likely that drugs such as MDMA, ketamine, and LSD will be used largely in therapeutic settings, whereas we may see more of a push at the grassroots level to decriminalize/legalize plant-based entheogens for all, since it’s harder to regulate or ban something that grows from Earth. 

Public opinion on psychedelics 

With so many policy changes happening on the psychedelics front, it seems pretty obvious that the general public is opening up to the idea of using them, at the very least, in therapeutic settings. In a recent poll by internet-based analytics company, YouGov, it was determined that roughly 28% of Americans have tried one or more psychedelic drugs (of the seven polled) at some point in their lives.  

The largest number of people reported having tried LSD (14%), followed closely by psilocybin (13%). Next, nearly one in ten claimed to have used MDMA (9%) and mescaline (8%). A smaller but still significant number say they have used ketamine (6%), DMT (6%), and/or salvia (5%).  

Interestingly enough, the study found that support for legalizing psychedelic drugs still remains low, despite how many people claim to have tried them. This is especially true among people 65 or older, religious individuals, and those living in rural areas. The people most likely to support psychedelic drug reform were those who have tried them before (naturally), people with postgraduate degrees, 30- to 44-year-olds, and people living in the western United States.  

Overall, 54% of Americans do support allowing more research into psychedelic substances, particularly to use for military members and veterans suffering from PTSD – doubling down on the earlier sentiment that it’s often easier to legalize drugs in a medicinal context.  

What’s on the horizon for legal drugs? 

Psilocybin: A lot is going on with psilocybin at the state-level, which leads me to believe that it will be one of the first drugs to possibly be decriminalized or legalized following cannabis. For example, this November, Coloradoans will vote on the Natural Medicine Health Act (NMHA or Initiative 58), which would legalize psilocybin (as well as a handful of other entheogens) for use in approved healing centers.

Additionally, the safety profile of mushrooms is much better than most other drugs, both psychedelic and otherwise. A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that only 0.2% of shroomers (or 19 out of 9,233) end up in emergency rooms after use, and these adverse incidents are almost exclusively psychological in nature, meaning they resolve themselves once the high wears off a bit.

Ketamine: Standard Ketamine has only received approval for use as an anesthetic, but there is a huge market for off-label use. Also, a different form of ketamine called esketamine (S-ketamine) has been legalized to use in the treatment of depression. Another type of ketamine called arketamine (R-ketamine) is currently undergoing research and will likely be approved for therapeutic use in the very near future as well. For reference, S-ketamine and R-ketamine are two halves of a whole – the whole compound being standard (or racemic) Ketamine. Individually, these compounds have similar effects and benefits as racemic Ketamine.

MDMA: Again, we’re looking at Colorado as a glimpse into the future of drug legalization, this time with MDMA. The most recent news to come out of the state is the passage of HB 1344, which essentially legalized the use and possession of MDMA by prescription only. It won’t go into effect until the federal government also legalizes it, but once that happens, Colorado has already laid the groundwork for a functioning medical MDMA program.  

This is only one state, but more will follow suit. And the more states we have doing this, the more pressure it puts on the government to legalize pharmaceutical MDMA. Additionally, MDMA has proven to be quite effective at treating PTSD. The VA (Department of Veteran’s Affairs) launched clinical trials earlier this year to test its efficacy and safety, compared to the standard available treatments.  

Final thoughts  

It’s hard to say exactly how soon any of this will happen; but we do know that eventually, it will. It’s inevitable. Not only are more and more studies coming out to back up the use of psychedelics in therapy, but the industry is growing before our eyes. Some of these companies are already publicly traded. If anything, this indicates that psychedelics are heading down the same path as cannabis, but at an even faster rate. In my opinion, the above three will be first up for decriminalization/legalization. What are your thoughts? Drop us a line in the comment section below!

Thanks for stopping by!! Welcome to Cannadelics.com; an independent news platform where we work hard religiously to bring you the best in cannabis and psychedelics reporting. Hang out with us frequently to stay aware of all updates, and subscribe to our Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter, so you’re always first to get the news.

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