Death Toll Rising: Overdose Deaths 2022 Released

The numbers from the last few years are not encouraging. It seems these days people are dropping left and right, and the main culprit is doctor prescribed medication. Recent data released by the US government shows an increase – though minor – in overdose deaths for 2022. Read on for more info.

Overdose deaths 2022

2022 is now the highest recorded year for overdose deaths in the US, taking the place of the preceding year. Provisional data released by the CDC on Wednesday, May 17th, put the number for 2022 overdose deaths at 109,680. These are not final numbers however. For example, 2021 provisional data put the number at 107,622 deaths. That number rose to 109,179 by the time final numbers came out. Final numbers for 2022 are likely to be a bit higher than what just came out. Either way, still an increase from the previous year.

The most troubling factor in this, is that over 2/3 of these deaths, are attributable to synthetic opioids. Opioids are based on compounds from the opium plant, but are not naturally occurring, and are instead made in a lab. Whereas synthetic versions of weaker opiates (compounds found in the plant) are also given as medication – like codeine; the bigger issue is with the stronger, synthetic offerings. This entire classing of drugs is lab-created, and this whole issue stems not from a black market growing, but from doctors prescribing these medications.

The drug with the biggest share of the death toll? Fentanyl. Its estimated that of 2022 numbers, more than 75,000 of the total 109,680 are attributable to synthetic opioids, with fentanyl leading the way. Fentanyl is strong in its own right, but is often mixed with other drugs, either purposefully, or accidentally; which leads to many deaths. Other drugs that played a big role in 2022 overdose death numbers, are psychostimulants, like meth and coke; which together made up over a quarter of the deaths.

Overdose deaths strong in 2022

The White House’s Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Rahul Gupta, had this to say in a statement about the current drug crisis and what the government is doing about it: “We’ve expanded treatment to millions of Americans, we’re improving access to Naloxone to reverse overdoses, and we’re attacking the illicit fentanyl supply chain at every choke point.”

Of course the bigger issue, which was 100% ignored in the White House statement, is that these are doctor prescribed medications. The whole reason this is an issue at all, is because doctors were acting as dealers…and still are. Whatever other actions might be taken, that point must be remembered. The opioid issue is massively different from other drug issues, in that these drugs are legally prescribed, and their legal prescription is not only what started this mess, but remains ongoing.

Previous years death overdose numbers

On the plus side (however much you can use that term), overdose deaths stayed relatively level from 2021-2022. 109,179 in 2021 is not terribly far from the overdose death number of 2022 – 109,680. Just a rise of a few hundred; although final numbers could put the 2022 number several thousand higher in the end. For now, the numbers indicate that things remained generally consistent, with only a minor increase; but considering an increase is still an increase – it also shows nothing was done to help the problem.

The final number for 2021 overdose deaths – 109,179, was 15%+ higher than 2020, which had approximately 93,000 overdose deaths. That number is a 30% increase from 2019 overdose death numbers, which totaled about ~70,630 deaths. This means just between the years 2019 and 2022, yearly overdose deaths increased by about 40,000 deaths. 2018 numbers weren’t much lower than 2019, with 67,367 overdose deaths that year.

In one of the only instances of a temporary change in trajectory, the 2018 numbers are a 4.1% decline from the previous year’s numbers. In 2017 there were 70,237 overdose deaths, which is almost on par with 2019; making 2018 numbers a temporary dip. Unfortunately, the trajectory did not change overall, and the numbers since increased. Weirdly enough, after that 2018 dip, numbers went up at a much faster rate than they did before. Kind of like the quiet before a storm.

The main issue with synthetic opioids started in the first decade of the century, although it didn’t pick up steam in a grand way until after 2010. Weaker opiate medications have been around for awhile, going back to the late 1800’s. It says a lot about these newer and stronger synthetics, that despite the fact we’ve had access to similar medications for over 100 years, it was only with their entrance that the overdose rate skyrocketed.

Synthetic opioids driving overdose deaths in 2022
Synthetic opioids driving overdose deaths in 2022

Even heroin has been around since the turn of last century, first as an actual medication. And whereas heroin used to represent the worst talking point for overdose deaths; related overdose numbers have stayed at relatively even levels in the last 20+ years. The main increase is in synthetic opioids only. You can see it all very clearly in graphs here.

Issues with White House statement

Obviously, upon information of this nature coming out, the White House must say something. The government has done nothing to stop the legal production of these drugs, which makes it a part of the problem automatically. The government made no bones about illegalizing Quaaludes back in the early 1980’s, despite also saying that they were highly addictive; so it stands to reason that caring about the addictive nature of opioids is not what keeps them legal. For the record, Quaaludes had a negligible death toll, especially compared to opioids.

Black markets exist for drugs that are both legal and not legal. For this particular issue, what set it off was the creation and sale of synthetic opioids. Meaning this is a pharmaceutical company and government-created issue. Given that, it stands out to me that the White House statement says this: “Most of these deaths were caused by illicit synthetic drugs like clandestinely manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine, often in combination with other drugs including cocaine, heroin, and xylazine.”

Maybe this is true. Maybe most of the deaths are from the black market now, but plenty are not. And it could be that the majority are not. These are doctor prescribed medications. Whatever illicit market there is, is only relevant because of the legal market. The drugs were created by the legal market, NOT the black market. It seems the White House wants readers to associate this entire issue with the black market, and not as a government-regulated problem.

Gupta goes on to say this: “The historic actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration are saving lives. We’ve expanded treatment to millions of Americans, we’re improving access to Naloxone to reverse overdoses, and we’re attacking the illicit fentanyl supply chain at every choke point. As a result, around 19,000 people are still alive and can be there at the dinner table, at birthdays, and at life’s most important moments.”

Once again, the White House really wants you to focus on the illicit market, not the one it promotes legally. Attacking the illicit supply chain? Why not simply not allow doctors to prescribe the medications? Why not stop their legal production and sale? If you read this without knowing anything about the issue, you’d probably not guess these are legal medications.

Drug overdose deaths
Drug overdose deaths

Even funnier still, is that having done nothing to help the problem, the government then takes credit for saving 19,000 lives. I expect the point Gupta is trying to make, is that the use of Naloxone reversed that many overdoses; but it certainly doesn’t mean that that many people were saved. It means a particular overdose was treated for a person. Not only is the government taking credit, it’s calling this a ‘historic action.’

Gupta goes on, “President Biden has called on us to double down on our efforts to save even more lives so we can beat this crisis, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.” But what does that mean? Even more Naloxone? Is his argument that a drug put out to counteract overdoses, will stop an entire addiction crisis for drugs still wildly available, even legally? Does pumping an alcoholic’s stomach, make them not an alcoholic anymore? Its like, the government is offering nothing, yet trying to take credit for an only small rise in deaths. And ignoring that a rise automatically means nothing improved.

He goes on to talk about seizures of illegal product, seemingly to put attention on the illegal market again. Yet, in not one place does he talk of changing regulation to limit legal production or prescribing. According to the statement, government actions are solely for increasing Naloxone use, and seizures of illicit drugs.

And it continues to ignore the most useful possibility out there: swapping ketamine for opioids. This actual solution is never mentioned at all by any government; which is painfully weird if the idea is to help people. Not only does ketamine show as a more useful pain treatment, and one that can last months after application; but without the addictive properties of opioids. Of course, not mentioning it does go in line with helping pharma companies make money from opioid sales.


Does this leveling off mean that some action is working, and the problem will reverse? Likely, no. Because no suitable actions have been taken. Maybe the problem won’t get worse, and we’ve reached the standard leveling off point. Or maybe this is just a break in the overall trajectory, which will continue up next year. One thing for sure (or pretty sure) is that real change takes real action. Right now, the government isn’t even being honest about where the problem is coming from. So can we really expect it to do anything useful about it?

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THCA Loophole Is Making the Government Scramble

Loopholes are fun. They provide a way to get around a law, without really breaking it; by taking advantage of inconsistencies or gaps in specifics. Sometimes they really exist, and sometimes they’re ideas that are simply not worth fighting by regulators. The most recent loophole to rock the cannabis world, is surrounding the use of THC precursor, THCA. What’s this loophole all about? Read on for more info.

What is THCA?

We’re all at least somewhat familiar with the cannabis plant. At least enough to know that it goes by the names ‘marijuana’ and ‘hemp’ as well, and that there are some plants more geared toward THC, and some toward CBD. The former group is legally identified as ‘marijuana,’ while the 2018 Farm Bill specified the lower-THC grouping as ‘hemp.’ And this designations leads to the THCA loophole.

Have you tried the new THCA pre-rolls?

These terms are related to THC amount in the plants, with a .3% cutoff between the two categories. But this distinction undermines something important: that realistically, no growing cannabis plants have a lot of THC. They’re all low-THC, because THC barely exists in the growing plants. THC is a product of heating weed, which means if a cannabis plant is taken and used raw, there will always be negligible amounts of THC involved. It requires heat to turn the precursor acid – known as THCA – into the THC that makes us high.

THCA, aka tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is what really exists in high amounts in the cannabis plant. But the thing about THCA? It doesn’t get you high, and thus can be used from a raw plant, without psychoactive effects. By itself it has the chemical formula C22H30O4. When heated, it decarboxylates to C21H30O2, meaning it changes in the presence of heat. As you can tell by the formulas, they are closely related, but not the same thing. Decarboxylation is done through smoking, vaping, or leaching out active compounds using heat, like in cooking.

THCA is the precursor to THC

In a raw cannabis plant, decarboxylation does take place, but at slow rates and in low amounts. If you find some really old, dried-out weed, it’s likely to have decarboxylated a little. But if you see a nice fresh plant, still in the ground or just recently harvested, it’s likely to have almost no THC. In either case, the amounts are small enough to not cause any effects.

Is THCA legal?

Depends where it’s from. Marijuana is defined like this: “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.” According to this definition, a precursor acid is still technically a part of the plant, and therefore illegal.

But that only refers to high-THC marijuana. The last US Farm Bill made a legal distinction for hemp plants, giving them this definition: “…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.”

So now we have the situation wherein identical compounds are legal when taken from one place, and illegal when taken from another. This resembles another loophole related to delta-8 THC, which operates similarly. The main difference is that the production of delta-8 requires synthetic processes, which takes it out of the definition of hemp; since the definition never allowed for synthetics. In the case of THCA, it doesn’t require synthetic processing, making it difficult to use the same argument if its place of origin, is within legal limits.

This is the THCA loophole. Whereas delta-8 cannot be extracted in high-enough amounts from either hemp or marijuana for direct product manufacturing (it occurs in amounts far too small), there is a huge amount of THCA in marijuana plants, and at least some in hemp plants. Way more than delta-8 anyway, and enough for extraction.

Since the legal application is based on the decarboxylated compound, and not the one found in the plant, selling hemp flowers as THCA flowers, isn’t technically incorrect. The THCA loophole exists by defining the plants by their THC amount, rather than their THCA amount. While its really a case of semantics, ‘THCA’ flower is any cannabis plant with below .3% THC, with no stipulation for THCA quantity.

THCA exists in marijuana and hemp, creating a legal loophole for use
THCA exists in marijuana and hemp, creating a legal loophole for use

How the THCA loophole causes problems for the government

The government likes to apply hefty taxes on any cannabis product, and its not into products sold which aren’t regulated, and therefore not able to carry this tax. Sin taxes put on cannabis products by every state, are the primary source of revenue for regulating bodies. Sin taxes are excise taxes that span a large range, some as low as 10%, and some well over 30%. Though they’re supposed to be put on dangerous products that pose personal or societal harm, the application on cannabis products means applying this tax in places where cannabis is a sanctioned medication. Massive contradiction.

The government has already had a bad time with the cannabinoids market, since it can’t get a handle on it, and that means lost tax revenue. In an effort to turn people’s opinions against the compounds, and the black market operators who sell them, the DEA and FDA have made different statements and warnings; though they’re not really backed by a death toll. I always find that part funny considering that the same governments (state and federal) support opioids through regulation; which killed close to 100,000 people in the US alone in both 2021, and 2022.

The only real ability the federal government has, is to backhandedly go after these companies by trying to ruin business. When Shopify dropped all cannabinoid sellers last year, it wasn’t stated that the move was from government pressure, but its also unlikely Shopify would reduce its own income with a ban it didn’t need to do. What the US government can do is go after internet platforms that sell the products, or mess with banking, or credit unions of those who work with sellers.

This won’t get the products out of corner shops, or even stop the internet sales; but it can cause a bit of a kink for companies, and keep them on the move to find different sales venues. Realistically, the industry exists in large numbers both on and off-line, and if it were that easy to stamp out, it would’ve been done already.

Where the federal government runs into an extra issue with THCA, is that it can’t ban it. If it put a federal ban on it, this would undermine its own definition of ‘hemp.’ If THCA is illegal, then so is all cannabis. And it wouldn’t matter at that point if it was from hemp or marijuana. Unlike delta-8 THC which comes with the issue of the need for synthetic processes, THCA extraction, does not.

How does the government deal with THCA loophole?

Governments don’t like to bring things up if it makes them look bad, or backs them into a corner. For all the strife in the cannabis industry now, you’d think the governments in question would do whatever they had to. Just to preserve a consistent tax revenue line, even if just in small amounts like standard income tax. Instead, they ignore the issue of sin taxes, as if the subject isn’t pertinent. As if the taxes must exist to facilitate the industry. In fact, when California finally updated cannabis tax laws last year, it did nothing to do away with these high taxes, which increase prices. And it didn’t improve its market issues either.

Black market cannabis products don't have cannabis taxes applied
Black market cannabis products don’t have cannabis taxes applied

Likewise, the government doesn’t want to mention THCA because it doesn’t have an argument against it. Instead, it focuses on what it does have an argument against – delta-8 THC, and other synthetically-made cannabinoids. And it works to lump THCA into that category, so it doesn’t have to answer for the difference. New possible plan? A delta-8 ban, and lowering the THC limit for hemp to attempt to exclude cannabinoids like THCA. Realistically, neither is a probable answer to get rid of lower-priced black market products. We know this from the existence of black markets in general.

The big looming question now? How do governments so completely not learn? US governments (state and federal) have been fighting these black market sellers for several years, and with no real progress. Cannabis legalizations in general are an attempt to divert from already existent black markets, which have been around as long as prohibition. And no government actions have worked, except creating the legal industries, which diverted a certain amount. This most recent THCA loophole is just a showing that the black market will always prevail in the face of bad regulatory moves.

Everyone is talking about the new THCA flower


What will the federal government do about all this? Probably nothing. Maybe it’ll update definitions in the next Farm Bill. Maybe it’ll try to go after illegal sellers online. So far, history indicates that it has very little power to do much at this point, which means the sale of THCA flowers through the loophole, is likely to continue. And this offers yet another avenue for the black market to dominate the legal one; simply because of poor and ongoing judgement in regulation.

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Have you tried the never-ending 5g disposables?

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The Taxman Cometh: Canada Now Going After Unpaid Cannabis Taxes

Every other weed headline is about Canada’s failing market; whether it targets the companies closing down, the dismissal of employees, or reporting major losses and restructuring plans. Now, in a move that shows the strains within, Canada is sending out the taxman to collect unpaid cannabis excise taxes from legal producers in the country.

Most recent news of Canada and cannabis tax collection

A lot can be written on Canada and cannabis, and all the problems therein. Today we’ll start with a little on one of the more recent events. The taxman! On May 18th, MJBizDaily reported that Canada’s governmental revenue service, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), is now going after producers who failed to pay their cannabis excise taxes. This is interesting timing given how many companies are posting bad sales news, and downsizing operations. Like Canada is trying to collect what is can before an even bigger fall.

The agency is not only going after the actual money, but threatening garnishment (the government legally withholding money to pay off debts), plant property and equipment liens (the government taking property and equipment until debts are paid), and further legal action for those who do not pay up. This according to an email from Dan Sutton, the CEO of Tantalus Labs (a cannabis producer out of British-Columbia), to MJBizDaily.

The CRA put out warnings like this to businesses: “If you do not pay the full amount or respond to this letter within 14 days, we may enforce Cannabis Duty provisions of the Excise Act, 2001 without further notice.” The business which received this one requested anonymity, as it does want to work out its tax issues and continue operating; and is afraid that posting the letter publicly might hurt its chances.

Many companies in Canada have not paid excise taxes

All of this is based on Canada’s cannabis excise tax laws, which state: “If a corporation fails to pay any duty or interest as and when required under this Act, the directors of the corporation at the time it was required to pay the duty or interest are jointly and severally or solidarily liable, together with the corporation, to pay the duty or interest and any interest that is payable on the duty or interest under this Act.”

What’s an excise tax?

This entire topic is about excise taxes. So before getting back to the story on Canada, let’s talk a little about what excise taxes are. These taxes are taxes levied on a product, but not at the point of sale. Which means they factor into the total price of an item, but with no distinction to the consumer between tax amount, and other product production costs. They’re collected at some point within the process, whether from cultivators to manufacturers, or manufacturers to retailers, etc.

As consumers, we technically pay a lot of taxes, but we don’t often know how much of a total cost, is actually attributable to taxes. We can see the tag for sales tax in the US, but that’s only what gets collected at the register. Excise taxes are paid by businesses, but their cost does factor into the overall price, as the business who pays them, will raise their own costs to make up for them. So in the case of business not paying these taxes, it does mean collecting the money for them through sales, but not giving the amount to the regulating body.

Excise taxes don’t have to be extreme, and usually make sense in their placement. However, some excise taxes are different, like sin taxes. Sin taxes are taxes instituted the same way as a regular excise tax, but which are way, way higher, and based solely on the idea that a regulating body decided something is bad for a person or society. These taxes are levied most on products like cigarettes, alcohol, and now cannabis. This is contradictory, of course, as the first two show detriment to health with no benefit; whereas cannabis is a recognized medical product in the country.

According to a Forbes article, cannabis sin excise taxes in Canada are paid by the producer in the amount of $1 CAD per gram, or 10% of sale price for dry flowers. It goes by whichever is higher to ensure more tax revenue. The article points to professionals in the field explaining how due to different factors, these taxes can account for 20-35% for operations, making it difficult to survive, especially for small operators. And it helps explain why there are so many unpaid taxes, as these tax amounts are a huge burden for all affected, and not reflective of actual income ability.

Canada’s tax situation

So Canada institutes cannabis excise taxes, with large sin taxes included, despite cannabis not causing the negative effects to health or society that the other products receiving sin taxes do. And rather than getting rid of them in a climate with tons of businesses dying out, the government is upping the ante and going after the money; essentially from companies that are barely making it to begin with, some teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Canada collects money indirectly on cannabis through excise taxes
Canada collects money indirectly on cannabis through excise taxes

MJBizDaily reports that around 2/3 of cannabis businesses in Canada are in debt due to unpaid cannabis excise taxes, as of September 2022. At the time of that reporting, it was halfway through Canada’s fiscal year. This totals almost $100 million CAD from a total of 172 licensed producers. That’s a lot of unpaid taxes.

Reports from the previous year (2021-2022), indicate Canada collected $1.5 billion CAD in taxes, from the total $4 billion spent on cannabis products. If you do the math, that means over 1/3 of the money collected on cannabis products for that year, went to the government in taxes and other revenue. And this up against the reality that there’s a functional black market which doesn’t have to pay those taxes, and will always be able to undercut the legal market.

The question for many in the industry, is how aggressive Canada will be in tax collection. Maybe the story is more to induce fear with no real action coming; and maybe Canada is looking to take every cent it can now. Said George Smitherman, the CEO of the Cannabis Council of Canada, “I think it’s an offshoot of the issues management problem that the Trudeau government faces with an excise tax that’s ill conceived.”

He continued, “In a certain sense, at all levels in Ottawa, they recognize the dilemma they have, which is that a very large proportion of (cannabis) CRA license holders can’t keep up with their bills.” He explained, “While we hope that recognition (of the excise debt problem) is going to lead to real action to fix the excise, rather than just the words we’ve heard so far, in the meantime we are faced with the gnarly face of collections.”

But wait, isn’t Canada trying to save the market?

We know that sin taxes don’t really need to be included. They’re not fundamental, nor necessary for what they’re supposed to do. Yet, the conversation is so rarely about them. You’d think Canada (and every US state having the same issue) was entirely backed against a wall, but they’re not. The best answer for all companies, is to eliminate this unnecessary tax. That would fix the problem, right? Yet, the greed of governments becomes obvious when broaching these topics, as they will often go quite a distance, to avoid changing this. They don’t even want you talking about it. They sidestep or avoid the issue.

Think of California finally making amendments to its cannabis tax laws in 2022. What did it do? It did get rid of a cultivation tax, which was good; but did nothing to get rid of the excise tax (15%), which includes the sin tax. And while the industry walks around with its hands up seemingly confused on the matter, the answer is obvious to the point that its getting frustrating and maddening. Sin taxes on weed must be eliminated, or its unlikely these markets can work out long term.

Sin taxes are meant for damaging products
Sin taxes are meant for damaging products

Canada’s market has taken such a distinct downturn, that on March 25th of this year, the Canadian government put up a notice of intent to start consultations to make changes in the industry. Considering every province except for one has seen sales declines, this move is an indication of Canada knowing there’s a big problem. For the country, between December 2022, and January 2022, for example, sales slipped from CA$425 million to CA$395 million.

The notice speaks of finding ways to update regulation concerning licensing, security, production, and packaging, in order to help out the ailing industry. Lowering licensing expenses is surely useful; but if you’ll notice, the country doesn’t say anything about attacking current tax structures. Its left out as if it’s not something that can be modified. As if that tax must be there or the industry can’t survive. But that’s not true. Sin taxes are extra taxes, added onto regular tax structures. You can see in the notice, that Canada doesn’t mention taxes at all:

“Health Canada recognizes there may be regulatory measures that could be made more efficient and streamlined without compromising the public health and public safety objectives in the (Cannabis) Act,” it continues that this includes “(reducing) administrative and regulatory burdens where possible.”

Canada was also supposed to start a ‘strategy table’, a forum for those in the industry, and those regulating it, to come together and talk about issues and how to resolve them. Though this was proposed in April 2022, reports from earlier this month show it never got off the ground. This seems at least partially due to a lack of communication between the industry and regulators. But then, if the only real answer is ‘lower taxes,’ perhaps regulators were never interested in the conversation at all.


There’s a lot to say about the situation; but it really comes down to one thing, and one thing only. If the US and Canada want to keep cannabis from becoming a 100% black market industry; they must forfeit the extra tax revenue they collect unnecessarily through sin taxes (among other unnecessary costs). If they don’t, there’s unlikely to be an industry to collect taxes from soon. And getting nothing is way less than they’d get from an operational tax structure. End of story.

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Finland Initiative for Recreational Cannabis To Go Before Parliament

Germany is plugging away at establishing its watered down version of a cannabis legalization, which is a let down from its original plan for a full-fledged market. Now, Finland is trying its luck at getting some kind of recreational cannabis legalization, which is quite a turn around for the ice-cold EU country.

Finland and cannabis

Finland is a Northern European country that sits as a sort of border between Eastern and Western Europe. It borders Russia to the East, Sweden to the west, and Norway to the north. Nearly 2/3 of the country is covered by dense forests, making it the country with the most dense forests in Europe. It has a small population of 5.6 million; and is a part of the EU, Eurozone, and NATO. It’s a country that ranks high in terms of the following: educational systems, economics, civil liberties, human development, and overall quality of life.

Cannabis is illegal for recreational use currently in Finland. Prohibition in the country started in 1966, with personal use made illegal in 1972. In 2001, the procedure for dealing with personal use cases was updated; a change meant to unburden the courts from all the personal use cases coming through. This doesn’t mean it started letting people go for these crimes though, it means it streamlined its process to make it smoother, more expedited, and geared toward money-collection over jail time.

In fact, the country was unhappy with a number of personal use cases not getting prosecuted, and made the reforms to ensure that all arrests get some sort of attention, without requiring the courts. So though cannabis reforms were made, not in the usual way we mean when we say ‘reforms’. They were instituted to create a a more consistent and workable system of punishment, even for small-scale use.

A new initiative in Finland for recreational cannabis

The new procedure, which stands today, is that the police give summary fines when a person is caught with personal use amounts, but the case doesn’t go to court unless the defendant pushes to do so. This is not the case for aggravated offenses, or bigger crimes like selling, which are always heard in court. The penalties for these latter crimes are much harsher. Under current practice, a person with no more than 15 grams of dry flower, or 10 grams of hash, is considered a personal user. This is met with a punishment of 10-20 day fines, which are fines based on daily personal income.

In terms of medical cannabis, Finland doesn’t have a wide-reaching program. It allows for cannabis use in the most extreme medical cases, amounting to 223 legally permitted users in 2014, as an example. As there is no industry in the country, those that do use it, use imported pharma products only like Sativex or Bedrocan. There are a limited number of apothecaries that sell cannabis medicines.

In 2019, a push began for real marijuana reform in the country, with the introduction of a citizens’ initiative to decriminalize personal use. The initiative collected the necessary 50,000 signatures to be heard by parliament, plus almost 10,000 extra. This created a requirement for parliament to consider the topic between 2019-2023, though nothing ever came of it. The current story is not about this initiative, but a more recent one which also collected the necessary 50,000 signatures. This time for full legalization.

Will recreational cannabis become legal in Finland?

The current initiative started last October, with the goal of a recreational legalization in Finland, complete with an adult-use market. This initiative also needed to gain 50,000 signatures, which it did at the end of April, requiring parliament to consider the case. The current initiative, should it make it through parliament, would legalize the use, possession, manufacture, and sale of cannabis in the country, as well as allow for personal cultivation.

According to the wording of the initiative, these are some of the key points:

  • The aforementioned legalization for use, possession, subsistence farming, manufacture, and sale of cannabis, with age restrictions attached.
  • The need for a regulatory system for the commercial cannabis market; with a goal of reducing harm to both individuals and society.
  • The inclusion of a cannabis tax to compensate for societal harms.
  • The need for a clearer distinction between low-THC cannabis and high-THC cannabis, so there is no confusion for farmers.
  • The expungement of criminal records for minor sale and cultivation crimes.

The initiative makes this statement: “This initiative provides a comprehensive justification for why Finland, too, should replace the Cannabis Prohibition Act with regulation. The regulation of intoxicants must be based on researched information. The Prohibition Act did not bring us a cannabis-free world. Regulation does not bring us a harm-free world of cannabis either, but it can minimize the harm and compensate for the costs.”

Could Finland pass cannabis legalization?
Could Finland pass cannabis legalization?

This initiative was helped in part by Green Party member Coel Thomas. Currently, the Green Party is the only political party in Finland to openly support cannabis reform. Thomas helped write the initiative; though his own thoughts are that it likely won’t get adopted now; and works more to continue building the case for legalization. Said Thomas of the initiative to Cannabis Health News:

“It seems likely that we will have a right-wing conservative government coming in, but even under a center-right or center-left government, it’s not likely that we could advance legalization. I don’t see how it could get a majority of votes. However, we are starting a conversation in Finland right now, that in my opinion, will most likely lead to the legalization and regulation of cannabis this decade.”

In terms of where the people in the country stand on the topic, a recent survey from the Institute for Health and Welfare, which yle reported on last month, showed a change in attitude toward cannabis for the Finnish people. According to the survey, 57% saw binge drinking as more dangerous than cannabis use, while 53% said personal use shouldn’t be considered a crime.

Can Finland pass a recreational measure like this?

Something to remember is that this initiative was started before Germany was made to downgrade its plans by the EU. Even if Finland were to pass a recreational cannabis measure, could it look anything like what was proposed? After all, Finland is also a part of the EU, and subject to EU restrictions. Unless a country is willing to go up against the EU, it should not expect to accomplish more than Germany did; at least not without a change to EU cannabis politics. This doesn’t negate the ability for a legalization, but it does for a regulated market.

Just last month, Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, had to renege on Germany’s original plans for a full-scale adult-use market in the country. In light of not getting EU approval, the country reorganized to present a plan with two parts: one a legalization that allows social clubs for growing and dissemination, and one a pilot program wherein sales can take place on a very small scale, in specified individual locations only. Finland shouldn’t realistically expect to do more.

That this just transpired with Germany, is a direct indication that Finland will not be able to pass this initiative for recreational cannabis; as the initiative in current form calls for things which were just ruled out for Germany. If this topic wasn’t worth Germany having major issues with the EU, its unlikely to provoke a country like Finland to do so.

Cannabis and the EU
Cannabis and the EU

At the time the initiative was written, these issues had not fully come to pass. They should have been foreseen (and were by some), but the result had not occurred; making it a reasonable goal. I expect part of Coel Thomas’s attitude about it now, is an understanding that regardless of how much Finland could be brought on-board with the idea, that this particular attempt is not feasible. What he says makes sense though. In most places where cannabis reform changes occurred, there were failed attempts that precipitated the changes.

This current attempt, (like the previous one), stands as a building block for an overall update, which is likely to come soon enough. In fact, it’s good to see countries like Finland, which previously quiet on the topic of reform; break out of that mindset, and enter the one where a real push for change exists.


Whether the initiative was simply ill-timed – (collecting signatures for a measure that Germany’s experience just invalidated), or an example of the need for more support on the topic; it does now enter Finland into the conversation of cannabis reform. Giving us yet another country to keep an eye on.

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Week In Review: Is DEA Issuing New Rules for Delta-8 THC?

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, the DEA considers issuing new rules for Delta-8 THC and CBD; country music star Paul Cauthen debuts new “Wild Man” single after drug arrest; bipartisan lawmakers in Ohio reintroduce cannabis legalization bill and Lil’ Kim announced plans to launch her cannabis brand Aphrodisiak in Las Vegas.

PHOTO Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP

DEA Could Issue New Rules for Delta-8 THC, Impose Regulations on CBD

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is suggesting revisions to federal drug-control laws that could effectively prohibit almost all currently available Delta-8 THC products. This proposal could potentially significantly disrupt the country’s $5 billion CBD industry.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, products that contain Delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids derived from hemp were federally legalized. These products gained immense popularity in states without regulated adult-use cannabis markets. CBD products, which can be converted into the intoxicating Delta-8 THC through a chemical process, have also gained substantial traction.

However, Delta-8 THC and other newly identified cannabinoids, many of which have either unknown or poorly understood safety profiles, have attracted increasing attention from lawmakers and law enforcement agencies. Although 14 states have outright banned Delta-8 THC, it continues to be sold online, in smoke shops and other retail establishments.

Hemp is defined as cannabis plants containing 0.3% THC or less by dry weight. Critics argue that the thriving trade in hemp-derived cannabinoids deviates from Congress’ original intent when legalizing hemp. They claim that the industry takes advantage of a loophole that the DEA now intends to close with its proposed changes.

The proposed changes to federal drug laws would encompass any cannabinoid “synthetically manufactured instead of extracted from the plant.” As most Delta-8 THC and other intoxicating cannabinoids derived from hemp are typically produced through a chemical process using CBD as the source material (referred to as “chemical synthesis” in the presentation), they’d be classified as controlled substances.

The specific schedule under the Controlled Substances Act that the DEA intends to propose for Delta-8 and other synthetic cannabinoids remains uncertain. Additionally, it’s unclear how committed the DEA would be to enforcing these regulations.

If implemented, the DEA’s new rules on Delta-8 THC would effectively ban almost all products containing the cannabinoid currently available. Furthermore, the proposal would significantly impact the CBD product market, leading to a drastic transformation.

Watch Paul Cauthen’s “Wild Man” video.

Paul Cauthen Shares “Wild Man” Single Four Days After Drug Arrest

Only days after being arrested for possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute, country singer-songwriter Paul Cauthen surprised fans by releasing a new single titled “Wild Man.” The arrest occurred on the morning of Thursday, May 18, in Isle of Palms, SC, approximately 80 miles away from Cauthen’s scheduled performance that evening at Suck Bang Blow in Murrells Inlet, SC. Charges included possession of a Schedule I controlled substance and manufacturing and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute in Schedules I, II and III. Cauthen posted bail amounting to $27,275 and was released from custody later that day.

In a social media post on Monday, Cauthen corroborated that he was arrested for cannabis possession, stating: “I was arrested last week on tour in South Carolina for cannabis possession and want to clear up some of what’s being said. I’m not a drug dealer and I don’t “manufacture” drugs. The legal process will play out and my side of the story will be told, hell or high water. Amidst all the hell last week, a good friend reached out with his support (as did so many that I respect and love) and told me to keep my head up and ended it by calling me “a wild man.” So, I had to go ahead and put this song out today. This is for everyone that reached out and who has supported me. Love you all.”

As a result of the arrest, Cauthen had to cancel upcoming concerts in Knoxville and Hurricane Mills, TN, which were scheduled for Friday and Saturday, respectively. The cancellations were attributed to “extenuating circumstances.” The show at Suck Bang Blow on Thursday was also called off, although the venue cited weather conditions as the reason.

The incident unfolded on Thursday morning when an officer from the Isle of Palms Police Department noticed that Cauthen’s tour bus was illegally parked and detected the distinctive smell of cannabis as he passed by the vehicle. The officer approached two individuals outside the bus, including Cauthen himself. During their interaction, the musician admitted to having approximately an ounce of cannabis on the bus. However, according to the police report, the officers discovered and confiscated nearly four ounces, along with other items, including a white powdery substance in a small tube, three-and-a-half pink oval pills, two pink circular pills and a clear plastic bag containing another white powdery substance.

While at the scene, Cauthen confessed to the officers that the pills were Xanax and Diazepam and that he didn’t possess a prescription for them. He claimed ownership of all the cannabis found on the bus, which amounted to slightly less than four ounces, as well as the pills. However, no one on the bus took responsibility for the powdery substances. Due to the weight of the cannabis discovered, Cauthen was charged with manufacturing and possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute. He also received an additional possession charge for the pills.

A statue of William McKinley stands in front of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus Ohio.
Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. PHOTO Jack

Bipartisan Lawmakers in Ohio Reintroduce Cannabis Legalization Bill as Ballot Drive Moves Forward

A bipartisan group of Ohio state lawmakers reintroduced a bill to legalize adult use cannabis. Previous attempts by Ohio lawmakers to legalize cultivation and possession for adults aged 21 and older through the legislative process have been unsuccessful.

Known as the Ohio Adult Use Act, House Bill 168 is sponsored by Republican state Rep. Jamie Callender and Democratic state Rep. Casey Weinstein. Retail sales of cannabis would be subject to a 10% tax, aligning with the proposed rate in the ballot initiative. Furthermore, the bill offers the potential for expungement of criminal convictions related to marijuana cultivation and possession.

If passed, the newly renamed Division of Marijuana Control would regulate commercial cultivation, processing and sales of medical and adult-use cannabis in the Buckeye State. This regulatory body would oversee the implementation and enforcement of regulations in the industry.

“It’s time for Ohio to act on this before we fall too much further behind our neighbors,” Weinstein said in a news release. “Adult use [cannabis] is good for our economy, good for our justice system and the right thing to do.”

Simultaneously, a campaign is underway to gather signatures for an adult-use legalization ballot initiative that may be presented to voters in November. Ohio residents are actively engaged in a signature-gathering campaign to place an adult-use cannabis initiative on the ballot in November. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has submitted a proposal for legalization using an initiated statute, a lawful method that allows citizens to propose modifications to state law. To meet the July 5 deadline, the coalition aims to collect approximately 124,000 signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Many are optimistic that this goal can be readily accomplished, considering the level of support and enthusiasm surrounding the initiative.

PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

Lil’ Kim Launches Aphrodisiak in Las Vegas

Iconic rapper, Lil’ Kim and her Aphrodisiak partner Priscilla Vilchis, the self-proclaimed “Hollyweedqueen,” have launched their cannabis brand Aphrodisiak in Las Vegas, NV.

“As female entrepreneurs, we know how important it is to support other women and marginalized groups,” Lil’ Kim says. “We’re proud to be part of a brand that not only provides amazing products but also makes a difference in the world.”

Aphrodisiak’s premium product line features a diverse selection of strains and cannabis-infused products carefully crafted to enhance intimacy and pleasure. The brand debuted its offerings at the renowned Planet 13 dispensary in Las Vegas with a meet and greet for fans.

“We want to create a brand that empowers and uplifts women and promotes healthy, enjoyable relationships,” Vilchis says. “We’re proud to partner with Lil Kim, who shares our vision for creating a brand that is inclusive, empowering and forward-thinking.”

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Mama Sailene Promotes Health

California cannabis patient Sailene Ossman’s journey with the plant came after a horrific car accident when she was just 19 years old. Her injuries included a spinal fracture at the C2 vertebra, a fractured sternum, five broken ribs, a compound fracture of her right leg—nearly resulting in the amputation of her foot—as well as chronic pain, arthritis, and neck degeneration.

“It took months to learn to walk again, with my dad dubbing me his ‘walking miracle baby,’” she told High Times. “I had a tracheotomy and was in traction on my back in the ICU when a respiratory therapist compared cannabis to other medications as a bronchodilator or a productive cough that would loosen the phlegm, preventing my lungs from filling up and causing pneumonia. That’s when I realized she was telling me that cannabis was medicine.”

Once she returned home from the hospital, she dove headfirst into learning more about cannabis remedies, which continue to quell her pain to this day. Since then, her journey with cannabis has led to careers she never dreamt of having.

The Queen of Abbot Kinney Boulevard

The one-mile stretch hosting some of the hippest shops in Los Angeles makes up Abbot Kinney Boulevard in the eclectic town of Venice Beach, California. This is where Ossman began her career as owner of Abbott’s Habit, a community hub where she gained the title “The Queen of Venice” in the mid-1990s.

She had a secret life, however, establishing the first cannabis delivery service with no name in the beach town and branching out to found the Privee Social Club, which hosted infused gatherings and dinners around the country, including a soiree for P Diddy. The web series Smoke in the Kitchen with Mama Sailene found her cooking side by side with Snoop Dogg for his website, MERRY JANE. Merry Jane dubbed her “Mama Sailene” when they produced her video series with the tagline, “Mama Sailene, a mother to none, mama to all.” Ossman then went on to found the Glowing Goddess Getaways, a traveling cannabis camp-out for women.

Rolling Stone wrote that Ossman was “the goddess earth mother you always wished you had… Mama Sailene, the nurturing and cheery feminist cannabis guru of Southern California, really specializes in making sure everyone else is having a wonderful time—and always has enough weed.” 

In 2020, Ossman published the book CBD Cocktails encouraging readers to “take the edge off with over 100 relaxing recipes.”

The book is unique in that each recipe incorporates various CBD (cannabidiol) tinctures made by different companies, available nationally either in dispensaries or by mail order. The idea is a novel one. How many times have you stood looking at the sea of CBD tinctures at a dispensary and wondered what else you could do with them besides simple dosing?

Courtesy Cider Mill Press

Cali Sober

Ossman is an admitted California girl through and through. Since she doesn’t consume alcohol, she was only too eager to incorporate cannabis mocktails into her recreational and medicinal dosing regimen. One section of her book is devoted to mocktails. The trend of using cannabis, but not alcohol, has been called “Cali sober,” and Ossman has included beneficial and tasty recipes for those who prefer this lifestyle.

“As the plant loses its historical [negative] stigma, cannabis and CBD products have begun to flood the market, making the healthful benefits derived from CBD accessible to all, whether marijuana has been legalized where you live or not,” Ossman wrote in her book. “If it hasn’t, it soon will be, as everyone has begun to learn of the incredible health benefits derived from this miracle plant.”

In the book’s introduction, Ossman also offers a brief overview of the history of the plant and its origins dating back to ancient times in countries we know today as China, Tibet, and India. She expounds on the plant’s use as medicine and its place in shamanistic rituals. While the book is all about CBD, she also highlights the medicinal benefits of cannabinoids working in synergy.

“Cannabinoid receptors in the body need higher levels of THC to be activated than those present in CBD products alone,” Ossman wrote. “This is why users find that the products containing only CBD are less effective, and why products using the entire plant, THC and all, work best, especially when it comes to pain management.”

Today, Ossman is the founder and owner of the Brewja Elixir in Joshua Tree, California, where she makes her home in the high desert. In her shop, you’ll find mocktails and elixirs made with a variety of CBD products, herbs, plants, and fruits, including a myriad of medicinal mushrooms.

The cannabis plant has forever changed Ossman’s life.

“The benefits from plants, and the healing I’ve witnessed for myself and others from CBD and cannabis in general, are too numerous to detail,” she said. “This experience in witnessing the healing caused me to step up to the plate for this female plant, and there’s no turning back. Cannabis has been my life, all of my adult life now, for a good reason. She’s added so much to my life, and I’m honored to work for her.”

Courtesy Sailene Ossman

Recipe: Martini

This is the ultimate form of sophistication in a glass. If you like a simple drink, reach for a simple CBD add on like a neutral tincture.


4 parts gin

1 part dry vermouth 

1 lemon twist

Neutral CBD tincture, to taste

Glassware: cocktail glass 

Place the gin and vermouth in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, strain the mixture into a cocktail glass, and garnish with the lemon twist and the tincture.

Excepted from CBD Cocktails by Sailene Ossman

This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue of High Times Magazine.

The post Mama Sailene Promotes Health appeared first on High Times.

Minnesota About to Become 23rd Adult-Use State

Minnesota lawmakers recently passed a bill for adult-use cannabis, and sent it to the governor’s office. The expected signature will make the state the 23rd in America to legalize recreational cannabis. The funny thing? Though this legalization would be full-scale, Minnesota has allowed a weed edible products market, since last year.

News on Minnesota as 23rd adult-use state

According to AP News, on Saturday, May 20th, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state. It wasn’t exactly a sweeping vote. It won 34-32; and was then sent to Governor Tim Walz’s desk, as it had already passed the House earlier. Assuming its signed, the new law will go into effect August 1st of this year.

The new law would allow those 21 and above to use, possess, and cultivate cannabis. The possession limit would be two pounds in a private home, and up to two ounces in public, for dry flower. A person could have up to eight grams of concentrate; and edibles, like gummies, with up to 800mg of THC max.

It would also allow retail sales, though these are expected to start a year or so after the initial legalization begins. Cannabis products would be subject to a 10% sales tax on top of other taxes; and individual locations would have choices like how many dispensaries exist, and where they can be in relation to places like schools.

New Minnesota adult-use law would expunge some convictions

The bill also includes provisions for those formerly convicted of some marijuana crimes. The state would automatically expunge anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor possession charge, via the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It’s fully expected to take about a year to finish this. Those convicted of crimes like selling, would need to apply to get their record expunged or their current sentence reduced. This would only apply to non-violent offenses.

As always, and especially in a vote this close, there is both support and opposition to the new law. Said democratic Sen. Lindsey Port in support of the bill: “Minnesotans are ready. Let’s legalize, regulate and expunge.” Countered republican Sen. Jordan Rasmusson: “The fundamental flaw with this bill is that the starting point of it from proponents has been about creating an industry to fit their ideology.”

Wasn’t Minnesota already kind-of legal?

Almost exactly a year ago, on May 22nd of 2022, Minnesota passed a large hemp reform bill. As a part of that bill, the use, possession, manufacture, and sale of hemp-derived THC edibles, is legal. This means products can contain the same THC as standard cannabis products, so long as the THC is sourced from low-THC hemp, and not high-THC marijuana. As this allows for a legal cannabis market within the state, it means Minnesota is technically already a legal state. That law went into effect exactly one year before the current one is slated to: August 1st, 2022.

The allowance isn’t complete, however. It doesn’t allow for smokables of any kind (regular flower or vapes), or anything beyond edibles, topicals, and other minor applications. Its mainly for food and drink products, and requires all THC be sourced from hemp plants. It also sets lower limits than what most states do. The law allows 5mg THC per serving, and 50mg per package. The general standard (though not a law) is 10mg per serving and 100mg per package.

Much like laws for cannabis everywhere else in the US, the Minnesota edibles law includes provisions for childproof packaging; following trademark law; and the necessity for testing for things like heavy metals, molds, pesticides, fertilizers, solvents, etc.

A big reason for the bill came from the state trying to deal with the black market more effectively, including the cannabinoid market. Since cannabinoids are almost always said to be hemp-derived, (as a supposed loophole for their existence), the bill legalizing hemp-derived compounds, also made such products available for the legal market. This in hopes it would get people to buy the legal version. At the time, there seemed to be a lot of hope for the initiative.

Minnesota already has adult-use cannabis edibles market
Minnesota already has adult-use cannabis edibles market

Of course, the problem Minnesota encountered, is that simply setting a law, won’t necessarily make anyone follow it. Plus, once consumers are told something is legal, its not for them to figure out if a specific product or store is legal. Minnesota started going after illegal operations within months of passing the bill; unable to control the black market offerings. Much like in fully legal markets, the black market dispensaries are the ones that will sell stronger products, and with more options. And consumers tend to like this.

Minnesota law enforcement found itself going after products with sometimes 50X the allowable THC limit. The government has even specifically targeted certain producers, trying to pin deaths on one, even though no death was actually attributable to any of the products. A kind of strange avenue to go down when the state supports the sale and use of opioids, which do come with the definable death toll of at least 678 deaths in just 2020.

What other states might legalize soon?

Because of its previous year legalization of THC edibles, the new adult-use bill in Minnesota is like taking a second baby step. The state already began allowing THC sales, so it technically is already a legal state. However, when it comes to official counting, it never makes the cut, since it doesn’t have a broad-ranging legalization. This new bill will thrust it over the line into the ‘officially legal’ side, making Minnesota the 23rd state to have an adult-use market.

It follows right behind Delaware, which passed its own adult-use bill in April. Delaware did it pretty quickly. Two bills were introduced in January; one for a direct legalization, and one for regulation. In the beginning of March, both bills passed the House, and then they passed the Senate at the end of the month. They were sent to Governor John Carney mid-April, and went into effect on April 23rd. They were not signed off on, as Governor Carney is not in support of the legislation. On April 21st he announced he would allow both bills to pass through without a veto or his signature.

If this sounds strange, consider that the guy had vetoed a similar bill in May 2022. Which means both the House and Senate passed a legalization measure, sent it to him, and he said ‘no’. Why change tack a year later? According to Carney in his statement about not vetoing the current bill:

“I want to be clear that my views on this issue have not changed. And I understand there are those who share my views who will be disappointed in my decision not to veto this legislation. I came to this decision because I believe we’ve spent far too much time focused on this issue, when Delawareans face more serious and pressing concerns every day. It’s time to move on.”

Some states had ballot measure for adult-use markets which didn't pass
Some states had ballot measure for adult-use markets which didn’t pass

In terms of states we might see legalize soon, its good to remember that there were a few failed ballot measures in last year’s election. Simply getting the ballot measure approved means getting signatures and support, and this doesn’t usually happen if people are uniformly against something. So, we should continue to watch Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota. South Dakota actually did pass a ballot measure in 2020, which was taken away by the governor and courts. Why it didn’t pass this past November is certainly a head-scratcher; but it does seem the trajectory in the state is for legal weed.

Then, there’s Oklahoma. That state collected enough signatures for a ballot measure, but was then refused the ballot based on unrelated technical issues. Plus, Hawaii, which passed numerous cannabis reform bills in the last few years, just to have them all vetoed by Governor David Ige. In fact, many initiatives lose steam early on because its understood he won’t let them through. Much like Carney, however, Ige did let a decriminalization measure pass in 2019, without a signature. Ige left office at the tail end of last year. And the state is currently working on new legislative measures.

Ohio, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, are all passing around legislation for adult-use markets; or have recently, with expectation of new initiatives. Florida is working on a ballot measure for 2024; and even states not ready for adult-use markets, like Nebraska, are at the very least, looking to legalize medical cannabis officially. Texas, also has been making some interesting moves of late on the medical cannabis front, with a possible full medical legalization on the horizon.


Once the bill is signed, and it should be, Minnesota will officially be the 23rd state to legalize adult-use cannabis. Considering this count includes California, New York, and Illinois, with these 23 states, at least half the population will live in weed legal places.

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Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference in New York City

On May 18 and 19, retailers, buyers, and investors attended the exclusive, invite-only Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference in Manhattan, NY. The prestigious two-day event, billed as the first B2B trade event of its kind, was an opportunity for luxury cannabis, CBD, and hemp wellness brands to connect with New York’s burgeoning adult-use market.

Unlike other tradeshows, LMCC’s aesthetic was akin to an Apple Store—spacious, white and inviting. Dozens of brands were in attendance, with sitting areas purposefully created for conversations. In addition to the retail exhibition, there were some high-profile speakers covering some hot topics, including “New York Cannabis Retail Comes Alive: OR Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know But Were(n’t) Afraid to Ask,” presented by the New York State Cannabis Control Board and Bloomberg News and featuring Tremaine Wright, Cannabis Control Board Chair, New York State Office of Cannabis Management.

When I first walked in and began to make my rounds, I immediately noticed the packaging of what looked like a teddy bear falling asleep and I headed in that direction. I was greeted by a smiling man with a firm handshake. He turned out to be Kyle Paradiso, CEO of Sleepy Bear Gummies. The all-natural sleep aid products are redefining the word “wellness” and how it relates to selling cannabis and CBD-infused products.

Paradiso, a former army ranger, experienced multiple spinal cord injuries that led to his premature medical retirement from the military at the young age of 24 in 2016. Enduring chronic pain as a result, he faced numerous sleepless nights and sought solace in CBD and cannabis, which ultimately transformed his approach to wellness and provided significant relief.

Sleepy Bear Gummies at the Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference.

“Wellness is not a one-size-fits-all approach and neither should CBD be for its use”, Paradiso says. “Getting the active material, albeit THC-v or CBD, into the bloodstream and doing what it needs to do for relief is what matters. My goal is to offer the fastest, most effective edible on the market”. And he’s not wrong, most people avoid gummies for their ambiguous dosage and onset time—I know I do.

Continuing around the show, a few other brands stood out to me including Dad Grass, Pamos beverages, and Drew Martin pre-rolls. Dad Grass for its nostalgic, approachable packaging, and its ability to be self-aware about its market position and X-factor as a CBD pre-roll that isn’t looking to get you high at all; rather, it wants to chill you out with a glass of wine, so you can stay in the moment while your friends partake in stronger cannabis. Pamos is a delicious well-branded infused beverage that left a minimal weed-like aftertaste, that really played well to the California sober crowd.

What I appreciate about the Drew Martin pre-roll is its ability to make a standard joint look and feel pretty. The brand infuses cannabis with natural botanicals, so you get a potpourri-smelling joint versus the standard aromas we’ve all become accustomed to. They offer both high and low doses, so you can relax with friends or with your thoughts while being grounded, engaged and immersed in the moment.

Overall, the Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference was a great event with positive energy. I am glad I had the chance to attend and see first-hand the direction NYC is taking with the “luxury” narrative.

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Danger of Marijuana Use While Pregnant… Or a Smear Campaign?

Smear campaigns are all around, and can usually be identified by their unbacked arguments, and lacking information. Such is the case with the study I’ll go over today on whether marijuana causes issues if used while pregnant. What does the study say, what is it leaving out, and what does this mean? You can form your own opinion in the end.

This article is the specific opinion of the writer in response to a published research report on the dangers of marijuana use while pregnant.

The study on the dangers of marijuana use for pregnant women

The study in question was recently published, and is called The impact of timing of in utero marijuana exposure on fetal growth. According to the study investigators, the purpose of the study was “To examine whether timing of in utero marijuana exposure independently and negatively impacts fetal growth, and if these effects are global or specific to certain growth parameters.”

The study setup consisted of two groups, one with marijuana users (‘Marijuana Only’) and one for non-users (‘Control Group’) in which the non-use was verified with a drug test. The data collection for the study was not direct, with all data coming from investigation of electronic medical records. This means the investigators had no ability to set their own parameters or controls for collection. All the participants were pregnant and receiving care at an academic hospital (unnamed). All participants were 17 and above, and had a single birth within the time frame of 2016-2020.

The women chosen had their medical information reviewed to look for information on substance use during their pregnancies. Nothing was asked directly of the women by study investigators. Women were not included if they didn’t provide substance use information, or if they had documented alcohol issues or issues with other hard drugs.

Marijuana or smoke more likely to cause issues when pregnant

In order to get classified into the ‘Marijuana Only’ group, an expectant mother said they used marijuana during pregnancy, or had a positive marijuana test during pregnancy. Most women had a urine drug test upon beginning care. 82% had a drug screen in the interim period, 90% had one at delivery, and 78% had newborn cord blood tested.

The women in the ‘Marijuana Only’ group denied use of other substances then marijuana, including tobacco, electronic cigarettes, alcohol, and other illicit drugs. All testing during labor was negative for anything except marijuana. None of the chosen participants had current prescriptions for opioids, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates. The only difference between the ‘Marijuana Only’ group and the ‘Control Group’, was the presence of marijuana. 109 women ended up in the ‘Marijuana Only’ group, and 171 in the ‘Control Group.’

Main findings of the study

According to the study investigators, there was a significant decrease in the weight of newborn babies when the mother used marijuana in just the first trimester, or during the whole pregnancy. They also found significant decreases in the circumference of the babies’ heads when the babies were exposed to marijuana in the first or second trimester, or throughout the pregnancy. They did not find any difference between the user group and the non-user group in terms of the length of the babies.

According to the researchers, “Timing of marijuana exposure appears to play a key role in specific fetal growth deficits, with exposure throughout gestation most detrimental.” They go on to say that even just using in the first trimester can affect birth weight. However, they do stipulate, that the lack of information on the timing of use, and amount used, make it difficult to judge this. Some women, for example, only smoked marijuana when first pregnant, and no questions were asked about amount or frequency of use.

They also drew other conclusions, like that mothers in the ‘Marijuana Only’ group were generally younger, more often single, usually not beyond a high-school education, and more often than the ‘Control Group’ women, covered by Medicaid. They also pointed out that the ‘Marijuana Only’ group gained more weight than the ‘Control Group’ while pregnant.

In the discussion, they sum up by saying “The results of this study support the hypothesis that marijuana use throughout pregnancy, compared to use only early in pregnancy, has the greatest impact on fetal growth, with both newborn weight and head circumference impacted.”

Smoking and low birth weight
Smoking and low birth weight

Were the women asked if they smoked the weed?

The investigators did say they had some limitations in the study. They list things such as the limited sample size, possibly not knowing if a woman was using some other drug within the overall pregnancy time period; human error; the ability to generalize to the population at large; and the lack of information on the amounts of marijuana used, and timing of use, by different participants. This last point is already a pretty big thing to leave out. Smoking a couple joints during a pregnancy, and smoking five times a day, are wildly different.

But the bigger omission is the deadlier one for a piece of research like this. Something that the researchers failed to mention, whether they had data on it or not. In fact, its the most important factor to consider. And it was absolutely, 100% disregarded as if not important. Not even mentioned once. The researchers never considered how the marijuana was consumed, and most importantly, if it was smoked.

All of these things the investigators relate in the study, are known side-effects of smoking when pregnant. And I don’t mean cigarettes specifically. Smoking is the act of lighting something on fire and breathing it in. And though we’re often taught to think of that solely in the context of cigarettes, this is not true at all.

Smoke inhalation is the breathing in of any smoke, whether from a house fire, a wildfire, plastic burning, or if a person smokes something like cigarettes or weed. All of this is smoke inhalation, and all smoke inhalation is detrimental. Although having said that, breathing in burning plastic will likely land you in emergency care before smoking a cigarette; so there are degrees.

If all – or the majority – of the women were smoking it (and this is highly likely based on the dates and that smoking is still the most popular form of use), then these results are literally 100% meaningless. This is an entire study that backs up the damage of smoke on a fetus, not of marijuana use. And while this isn’t to say that marijuana can’t have a bad effect for a pregnant women, it just means this study did nothing to back up that idea.

Smoke inhalation damage to fetuses

The reality of life, however unfortunate it is, is that the powers that be think you’re dumb. They think you’re so dumb, that they dumb down information either because they think you can’t understand it, or want you to think in a specific way. And because of this, if you look up ‘smoke damage to fetus,’ nearly all results will be geared toward smoking cigarettes. Here, however, is a study talking about general smoke damage to fetuses.

Woman smoking while pregnant
Woman smoking while pregnant

In reality, any information on smoke inhalation makes it clear this is not specifically about cigarettes. So once we apply the idea of smoke inhalation to all smoking, smoking marijuana is included as well. In this context, smoking anything should be accounted for; and it’s a massive, horrible failure for researchers to release something like this, with no mention of that.

For anyone confused on the matter, I suggest acquainting yourself with what ‘smoke inhalation’ means. This is not a controversial definition. According to WedMD, “Smoke inhalation occurs when you breathe in the products of combustion during a fire.”

Then ask yourself, what smoking is. Does it involve lighting something on fire and inhaling? Sure does! Its a fire from which smoke is repeatedly going directly into your lungs. And that’s the byproducts of combustion, directly inhaled, over and over. The exact definition of smoke inhalation. What’s one of the biggest issues with the main source of smoke inhalation while pregnant (cigarettes)? Low birth weight. In fact, here’s a study talking about the low birth weight that comes from exposure to wildfires in Brazil! It’s not just about cigarettes, guys. Smoke has been shown repeatedly to have this effect.

This study represents a concerning trend in the world of research, wherein researchers are so desperate to put something out, that they create links in information, and then hide what doesn’t go along with them. This is the second time I’ve seen this particular smear campaign of attaching marijuana to something negative, while not broaching the topic of smoking. In fact, in this example, the researchers were saying there was a link between marijuana and heart attacks, but they only used people who specifically smoked it, and didn’t once mention the issue of smoke inhalation as a possible cause.

As one last backing point to my argument, consider that the UK recently released news of a new program to get people to stop smoking by swapping cigarettes for vapes. That’s how much of a difference there is, even if that only refers to cigarettes. And what is one of their primary concerns in this? Getting pregnant women to switch to vaping first. How you ingest something is incredibly important, and its too bad that the researchers on this project didn’t understand this concept, or purposefully left it out (not sure which is worse).


I’m a writer, I don’t make laws or tell people what to do. However, my personal advice? If you’re pregnant, maybe stay away from any substances you don’t have to use. We don’t have an answer on everything, and sometimes the safest bet, is choosing the safest bet. Having said that, if you’re pregnant and trying to find answers about marijuana, best to find a better information source than this study.

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Positive Results From Study on Self-Treating with Psychedelics

The psychedelics market is getting wider, and actually goes way beyond psychedelics, to include many different hallucinogens. As more treatment options come out, so does the question of how effective self-treating with psychedelics is. A recent study sheds light on the benefits of getting high on your own.

Self-treating vs therapy sessions

First and foremost, when getting into self-treating with psychedelics, its good to know what we’re talking about. Psychedelics are a class of drugs under the heading of hallucinogens. And while there are tons of hallucinogens that aren’t directly called ‘hallucinogens’ (like Amanita mushrooms), there are three classes of hallucinogens, which are directly referred to as hallucinogens: psychedelics, dissociative (that’s ketamine), and deliriants (which include Benadryl).

Hallucinogens in general are drugs that cause the user to have a sensory experience that isn’t real, or is altered in how a person perceives it. Many different compounds from different drug classes, are considered hallucinogens, and this means that its not just psychedelics that cause people to hallucinate. In fact, when using the term ‘psychedelics,’ we only refer to LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT. Even MDMA is technically a psychostimulant, NOT a psychedelic.

If a person wants to use a psychedelic or hallucinogen for treatment, there are two ways to do it. One is with the help of a second person, generally in a therapeutic capacity; and one is by self-treating with the psychedelic, or other hallucinogen. The first includes some kind of setup process, with the help of a facilitator; and one is just about hoping to get a therapeutic response, but on one’s own.

Self-treating with psychedelics outcomes

There is no hard and fast answer to which is better. There does seem to be a massive value in psychedelic-assisted therapy for some, in that the therapist presiding can push a patient to cross limits, which might help with establishing new neural connections. But there are also drawbacks, like being in a less comfortable situation, and often one that feels ‘medical.’ Doing it oneself might be more relaxing, but comes with is own drawback that just because the drug is being used, doesn’t mean that a person’s brain gets pushed across boundaries. Different people require different things.

When done as drug-assisted therapy, its definitely a process. The patient and doctor must get acquainted. The patient must feel comfortable with the doctor, and the doctor must come to understand the ins and outs of what a patient is suffering from. All together this can mean several preliminary sessions, and several integration sessions after, wherein the doctor helps the patient examine and understand their experience.

With self-treating using psychedelics or other hallucinogens, these other steps are not involved, and the person simply takes the drug and has the experience. With no one to help them through, explain anything, or provide feedback. This might be perfectly fine for some, but could be a drawback to the treatment value, for others.

Recent study on self-treating with psychedelics

The first thing to understand about the study, is that the data collected for it, was not designed by the study investigators. They simply used existing data from the Global Drug Survey for 2020, which is available to the public. The investigators therefore had no way to control for anything outside of what was already collected; or to clarify any information, or interact with participants.

The new study is called Investigation of self-treatment with lysergic acid diethylamide and psilocybin mushrooms: Findings from the Global Drug Survey 2020 and was headed up by PhD student Emma Kopra, at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry. She, and the other researchers involved, were most interested in use of LSD and psilocybin for self-treatment of mental health issues.

Of the purpose of the analysis, Kopra explained, “Increasing publicity of psychedelic’s therapeutic potential is attracting growing numbers of people to ‘self-treat’ with these substances independently outside clinical settings. However, there is very little research on the patterns, outcomes, and safety of this type of use.”

Respondents answered questions on self-treating with psychedelics
Respondents answered questions on self-treating with psychedelics

The survey was taken in 2020, and 113,000 people completed it. Though 10,268 reported that they’d used psychedelics of some kind within the past year to treat a mental health issues, only 3,364 were included in the study. All had taken either LSD or psilocybin. Depression and anxiety were the most commonly treated issues, and respondents answered questions relevant to changes they noticed in themselves after their self-treating with the psychedelics in question. This included negative outcomes as well.

The study measured the responses to 17 different criteria for well-being with self-treating, as well as assessing psychiatric symptoms, social-emotional skills, health, and overall behaviors. Items were judged by a 7-point scale that went from -3 – +3; with -3 relating to negative outcomes, and +3 relating to positive outcomes. 0 was the middle point, which represented no change.

In terms of evaluating negative experiences, the respondents also answered a 10-part survey on negative results, if they had them. Only those that gave numerical values relating to a negative experience, answered this part. These questions came with four options: none, mild, moderate, and severe.

Results of study about self-treating with psychedelics

All 17 measures on average showed positive change, across the board. The 17 items: ‘Changes in my understanding of why I feel the way I do,’ ‘Changes in mood or reduced depression,’ ‘Changes in my understanding of my condition or how I relate to it,’ ‘Change in overall symptoms of your psychiatric condition,’ ‘Changes in productivity, motivation or confidence,’ ‘Changes in my tolerance towards others,’ ‘Changes in empathy, sociability and communication skills,’ ‘Changes in ability to control negative thoughts/persistent worryings,’ ‘Changes in self-identity,’ ‘Changes in life priorities,’ ‘Changes in feelings of frustration/anger,’ ‘Changes in energy, alertness and/or focus,’ ‘Changes in anxiety, including social anxiety,’ ‘Changes in my use of alcohol/other drugs,’ ‘Changes in sight, smell or hearing,’ ‘Changes in concentration/memory,’ ‘Changes in sleep.’

Of the respondents, 22.5% did experience a negative outcome. Whether the connection actually exists or not, investigators found links between “High intensity of psychedelic experience, seeking advice before treatment, treating with psilocybin mushrooms and treating post-traumatic stress disorder” as being associated with higher scores and better outcomes. On the other hand, younger participants with high intensity of experience, and self-treatment with LSD, were associated with a greater number of negative outcomes.

Though each individual had their own responses for each of the 17 categories, 94.6% scored a +2 or +3 on at least one item. These respondents also answered questions about duration of effects and onset times. The majority (64.3%) noticed the positive result within 24 hours, about 9.9% took about a week to see the result. 52.7% had positive results that lasted at least four weeks. 17.6% said their positive effects lasted more than six months.

Study investigators were interested in psilocybin mushroom and LSD experiences
Study investigators were interested in psilocybin mushroom and LSD experiences

In terms of negative effects, respondents only had to have one to answer the negative effects questionnaire. The majority who did, reported ‘Mental confusion, memory problems, or racing thoughts’ or ‘Feeling disconnected from the world around you.’ Lesser experienced issues were persistent worrying; unpredictable outcomes or bad interactions with other substances; bad mood or emotional regulation issues; worries about the come down, building tolerance, dependence, or creating addiction; more irrational fears; ongoing issues with perception; negative hallucinations; and bad health results.

The majority reported that the negative outcome happened within 24 hours, while 1/5 claimed it happened as much as a week or more later. The majority of these negative outcomes were gone within seven days. 27%, however, said they lasted for more than a month. 4.2% of respondents who had a negative response, sought emergency care; however, no deaths or long-term issues are associated with the study.


I am always a bit wary of studies like this that don’t seek to create their own test populations. And there are definitely some things to consider; like if the anxious responses were a part of someone’s existing anxiety, or actually related to the drug. Even so, this study does indicate that self-treating with psychedelics has a generally positive outcome for most who do it; and is a plausible answer for some. It does not in any way assume that psychedelic-assisted therapy won’t provide better results, or that psychedelics will help everyone.

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