For Carol Erhart, April 20 is more than just a stoner holiday.
“We have a big, private backyard that’s connected to the store,” said Erhart, referring to the retail marijuana store 4:20 Friendly she co-owns with her wife off Sunset Highway. “We invite people to our backyard, just a personal invitation to come next door. We have live music, and all of our vendors come out. It’s just a nice picnic. We can listen to music and enjoy the sun.”
That annual celebration has been postponed, another large-scale event that’s been upended by orders to stay home to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. And while 4:20 Friendly and dozens of other retail shops in Eastern Washington remain open per Gov. Jay Inslee’s order deeming them essential, social distancing rules will stay in place during what has traditionally been one of the busiest days for the legal market in Washington.
“I don’t know what the turnout’s going to look like because of all this,” said David Morgan, owner and manager of Lucky Leaf, a downtown Spokane retailer. “We can only have a max of 10 people at a time in the lobby.”
In the past, stores have held doorbuster sales on prerolled joints, flower and concentrates specific to 4/20, an Oxford English Dictionary-recognized celebration of the cannabis culture started by a group of California smokers in the 1960s. That’s led to long lines and crowds, something the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board is hoping to limit this year.
“We wanted to proactively get in front of some of the thinking about 4/20,” said Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Liquor and Cannabis Board. “It’s one of, if not the biggest sales time of the year.”
Suggestions from the Liquor and Cannabis Board include running sales over more than one day, to give customers time to safely enter a store and not crowd during a single day for deals. They’ve also suggested canceling live music, parties and food trucks, which had shown up at retail stores for 4/20 celebrations.
For Morgan, it meant canceling a planned joint, two-day music event with Browne’s Addition venue Lucky You Lounge, which has been shuttered under the governor’s orders.
Lucky Leaf has also been trying to encourage online sales of their product, Morgan said, by offering a 25% discount. Customers can make their selections online, then park in a designated space on First Avenue and run in to pay, show their ID and collect their purchases, or stay in their car. State laws prohibit delivery and customers must still pay with cash.
“It’s less time at the shop. It frees up parking, and it gets them in and out quicker,” Morgan said. “It’s less risky.”
Erhart said her store mainly serves repeat buyers and hasn’t yet established an online system for shopping. But the store is still practicing social distancing, and a menu is available online that allows customers to browse without being inside the store.
“We’re looking at this as a community service,” she said. “People use this for anxiety, and a number of other reasons. I don’t think anxiety’s ever been this high.”
Erhart said sales usually dip in the week leading up to the 4/20 holiday, as regular customers hold off on big purchases to capitalize on discount pricing. That hasn’t been the case this year, she said, with consistent sales during self-isolation that had bumped in recent days.
Both she and Morgan said they believed customers had received their stimulus checks from the federal government, and were heeding the advice from Congress to spend it. On a drug that Congress still deems illegal.
“The stimulus checks that just dropped, that put a spike in sales,” Morgan said Thursday. “We’ll see how much money people have to spend. A lot of people are out of work.”
Erhart is urging people not to line up at her store, for the sake of her employees’ safety. Prices are already marked down as low as they’ll be for the holiday, she said, with many of the store’s suppliers cutting back on production due to social-distancing rules.
“There’s so many things contributing to this perfect storm,” she said. “The traditional 4/20 is not going to happen this year.”
The traditional day for doorbuster sales from the state’s legal marijuana retailers will likely be affected by social distancing orders. State authorities have asked pot shops to limit the amount of customers and deals to tamp down on crowds during the pandemic.
What was supposed to be a banner year for marijuana legalization is becoming a bust.
Advocates are pushing ballot referendums in nearly a dozen states, from Idaho to New Jersey. Governors and state lawmakers who failed to pass legalization last year — most notably in New York — vowed that 2020 would be different. But social distancing has put ballot drives on pause and state lawmakers are overwhelmed with addressing the crisis at hand.
So even with marijuana sales spiking, the coronavirus pandemic is crippling marijuana legalization efforts on the state level — and campaigns on all kinds of other issues, too.
“The coronavirus has impacted every signature drive on every issue across the country,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of legalization advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project.
Even New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who declared that marijuana legalization would be a “top priority” earlier this year, abandoned the initiative when his state emerged as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
Source: Pandemic upends pot legalization
Way back in 2014, I wrote an article called Desperately Seeking CBD that profiled several families who either broke the law or moved clear across the country to access cannabidiol (CBD)—a non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant that’s proven effective in treating pediatric seizure disorders that don’t respond to more conventional therapies. At the time, the father of a two-year old epilepsy patient explained that they’d uprooted their entire existence and moved to Colorado just to try the treatment.
Five years later, you can buy CBD ice cream in Texas. Cannabidiol is officially “trendy.” Capsules, tinctures, ointments, and oils containing the compound can be readily purchased online (as well as at gas stations and hair salons nationwide), and the legalization of hemp farming this December via the most recent US Farm Bill means that this rapidly growing market segment will likely expand exponentially over the next five years.
All good news, even if the recent media focus on shiny objects like CBD-infused cocktails has threatened to crowd out significant research showing cannabidiol has tremendous promise in treating cancer, diabetes, head trauma, chronic pain, neurodegenerative disease, depression, anxiety, and addiction.
But unfortunately, along the way, there’s been a lot of shady operators selling CBD in a largely unregulated grey market, and as a result, a ton of misinformation has attached itself to this potentially life-saving cannabinoid.
In fact, Project CBD—a non-profit dedicated to boosting science-based understanding of cannabidiol—has compiled an extensive list of pervasive misconceptions, one of which is “CBD is medical, THC is recreational.”
On the contrary, even small doses of THC combined with CBD can improve the efficacy of your cannabis medicine.
THC Is TLC for Your CBD
Originally, cannabis contained far less THC than it typically does now, and a lot more CBD. But over time, breeders have created ever more potent strains, as that’s what fetches the best price in the underground market. These breeders certainly understood that selecting for greater potency meant maximizing THC output, but just ten years ago few had even heard of CBD, never mind realized it was steadily getting bred out of existence.
Project CBD was founded in 2009, a time when CBD had almost entirely vanished from the cannabis gene pool. The organization’s founders recognized that while there’s long been evidence of CBD’s medical efficacy, unlike THC, it wasn’t reaching actual medical cannabis patients in appreciable amounts. So they worked directly with cannabis labs in California (then a new phenomenon) to identify the few remaining CBD-rich strains in circulation and make them available to growers, researchers and patients.
Which means you can put them down as big fans of CBD. Just don’t put down THCwhile you’re doing it.
Project CBD receives many inquiries from around the world and oftentimes people say they are seeking “CBD, the medical part” of the plant, “not THC, the recreational part” that gets you high. Actually, THC, “The High Causer,” has awesome therapeutic properties… [but] diehard marijuana prohibitionists are exploiting the good news about CBD to further stigmatize high-THC cannabis, casting tetrahydrocannabinol as the bad cannabinoid, whereas CBD is framed as the good cannabinoid. Why? Because CBD doesn’t make you feel high like THC does.
Project CBD categorically rejects this moralistic, reefer madness dichotomy in favor of whole plant cannabis therapeutics.
The best available science makes clear that whole-plant cannabis preparations are quantifiably superior to single compounds because the plant’s complex mix of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids interact synergistically to create an “entourage effect” that enhances each other’s therapeutic effects.
- A study conducted at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco found that combining THC and CBD produces more potent anti-tumor effects when tested on brain cancer and breast cancer cell lines than either compound alone.
- A 2010 study found that patients with intractable cancer-related pain tolerated medicines that combined THC and CBD notably better than a pure THC extract.
- A 2012 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that CBD “inhibits THC-elicited paranoid symptoms and hippocampal-dependent memory impairment”
Finding the Sweet Spot
Lots of people (like yours truly) enjoy the psychoactivity of cannabis and find it mood elevating and healing in and of itself, but rest assured that you don’t need to get high AF to reap the benefits of THC.
Whether you’re trying to master the art of joint rolling or just want to try to alleviate a sore back, every cannabis user should know the difference between CBD and THC.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that interact with receptors found throughout the body to achieve certain physiological effects.
Exogenous cannabinoids, meanwhile, aren’tproduced by the body but can be found in marijuana as THC, CBD, and a variety of other compounds.
Why does THC get you high while CBD doesn’t?
This part gets complicated, but what you need to know is that THC tends to interact with the parts of your body that makes you feel “high,” while CBD tends to interact with the parts that reduces inflammation.
Jeffrey Raber, CEO of California-based cannabis chemistry lab The Werc Shop, says that although CBD and THC have the same atoms, they’re rearranged very differently.
“Because of that, it’s a wildly different key going into the lock,” Raber said in a phone interview.
CB1 receptors are most prominent in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found more in the peripheral nervous system.
THC has an affinity to bind to CB1 receptors: It won’t shut off your breathing or heart like opioids do because it doesn’t affect the brain stem, but it does trigger that euphoric “high” feeling.
CBD, meanwhile, has a stronger affinity to CB2 receptors, which is why it can reduce inflammation without being psychoactive.
That’s not to say that THC will exclusively bind to CB1 and CBD will exclusively bind to CB2.
And most CBD products, whether a tincture to help you sleep at night or a shot of oil in your smoothie, won’t get you high if it’s hemp-derived because hemp products cannot legally be sold if they contain a THC content higher than 0.3 percent.
How do they work together?
Anecdotally, cannabis consumers report less feelings of anxiety and paranoia when they consume products with both THC and CBD, as opposed to products that contain just THC. In one study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, participants who were given CBD before they were administered a dose of pure THC experienced less cognitive impairment and paranoia than participants who only received pure THC. Wireddescribes CBD as an “antidote” to weed freak outs.
“In a basic sense, the two together act differently than when they are used by themselves,” Raber explained in an email. He says that one or both of two actions can happen: receptors can be activated differently, and/or CB1 and CB2 receptors can change.
“So you are somehow not getting as much THC activity at CB1,” Raber said. “Which is therefore lowering the potential for causing anxiety and paranoia.”
That still leaves a lot unexplained, but as High Times notes, there’s so much more to be studied about cannabis and the brain. Raber says CBD can interact with over 60 receptors in the body, and its full potential is yet to be understood.
What’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?
That’s not to say that all CBD products will be accessible nationwide. The Food and Drug Administration still considers CBD to be a “drug ingredient” and won’t allow CBD in food or health products.
Do ratios matter?
The higher the CBD to THC ratio, the less high you’ll get. Because CBD counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC, you’re more likely to get comfortably stoned on a 1:1 ratio than an 18:1. A 1:1 ratio means that there’s the same amount of CBD and THC in the product, whereas an 18:1 ratio means there are 18 parts CBD to one part THC.
What about terpenes?
The cannabis industry often categorizes weed by calling products either a sativa, which are known for more creative, energetic highs, or indica, which are known for “in da couch” calming highs. Hybridssupposedly combine the two sensations. But the differentiation is relatively meaningless; those are botanical categories, not chemical ones. That means that the terms sativa and indica refer to the plant’s shape and physical traits more than what the plant can do for you.
Terpenes, meanwhile, also play a role in how the plant tastes and smells. Growers have been tinkering with terpenes by breeding cannabis plants, curating plants that will give you a targeted high.
If you’re looking for a specific kind of high, you should look at two things: the CBD and THC ratio, and the terpenes present. When they’re all working together, you’ll probably experience a better high than vaping pure THC.
What is the entourage effect?
Sometimes called the “ensemble effect,” the entourage effect takes THC, CBD, other cannabinoids, and terpenes into account when getting high. The buzzword basically means that the therapeutic benefits of weed are greater when you consume products made of multiple compounds from the whole plant, instead of just THC.
The phrase was popularized by a 2011 study that looked into how interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes can be used to treat various medical disorders. Think of it like a cocktail: It’s going to be a much more fulfilling experience. If you include all of the extra ingredients instead of just drinking straight liquor.
Full spectrum? Isolate? What?
You’ll probably find these words emblazoned across cannabis product packaging, bragging about how it’s made of “pure” CBD or “full-spectrum” plant.
“Unfortunately we don’t have standardized definitions of these terms,” Raber said. “Isolate most likely refers to single-molecule, just CBD by itself.”
Isolate oils are entirely CBD. It isn’t more potent than full-spectrum oil, although it was previously believed to be; a 2015 study found that full-spectrum CBD oil eases inflammation more consistently than isolate oil does.
It gets blurry when cannabis companies label products “full-spectrum,” or “whole plant,” or “broad spectrum.” Although some companies may label products “full-spectrum” if all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids — including CBD and THC — and terpenes from a plant are included, Raber notes that without an industry-wide standard, all “full-spectrum” really means is that there’s more than one cannabinoid present.
Cannabis company MassRoots describes full-spectrum and isolate as two different kinds of pasta sauce. While full-spectrum oil includes tomatoes, mushrooms, meat, and the works, an isolate oil would just be made of tomatoes. But until the cannabis industry figures out a way to define what “full-spectrum” really means, there’s little regulation guaranteeing that the product you’re about to consume has more than just THC or CBD in it.
How do you get CBD?
If you do live in a state with legal recreational marijuana you can consume CBD products in a variety of ways. It’ll be up to you to decide which works best for you — and at what dosage — so you’ll need to do some experimenting. It’s best to start with a low dose and move up over a few days when you’re starting out.
- Tinctures are herbal extracts made from infusing plants in alcohol. You can consume these through a dropper used under the tongue. (Just make sure to let the drops absorb and not swish the liquid around in your mouth — that will impact how your body absorbs the CBD.)
- Oils use a carrier oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. Like tinctures, you can consume CBD oils by using a dropper under the tongue.
- Edibles like CBD gummies are appealing because of their taste. CBD gummies are particularly popular, but many contain CBD isolate.
- Vaping is also popular, but can result in lung irritation if it’s made of cheap carrier liquids. If you’re going to vape CBD, check out the ingredients before buying any products — cannabis vapes shouldn’t use the same ingredients as nicotine vapes.
- Patches allow users to consume CBD through their skin — with a simple adhesive patch, you can get the benefits of CBD without needing to vape or take edibles.
Now that you know the difference, go forth and blaze it.
Under the proposal, patients could buy up to 2.5 ounces of medical pot during a 35-day period and would be able to possess up to 4 ounces of cannabis at any given time. Smoking of medical cannabis — which would have to be purchased from state-authorized operators — would be banned in public places. And patients under age 18 would be allowed to smoke the treatment only if they are terminally ill and have a second opinion from a board-certified pediatrician.
The Senate’s 34-4 vote in favor of the measure (SB 182) came two days after the start of the 2019 legislative session, and the House is expected to take up the measure Wednesday.
“We have been working around the clock, with our colleagues in the House and with the governor’s office, to come up with a consensus product. I think we have done that,” Sen. Jeff Brandes, the bill’s sponsor, said in an interview Thursday.
The smoking ban was included in a 2017 law aimed at carrying out the amendment, approved by more than 71 percent of voters in 2016.
Cathy Jordan, a plaintiff in the case, credits a daily regimen of smoking marijuana with keeping her alive decades after doctors predicted she would die from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Jordan, who grows her own pot and who is highly regarded by pot advocates nationwide, testified last year that smoking marijuana treats a variety of life-threatening side effects of the disease and that other forms of ingestion don’t have the same positive impact.
“Every year, she comes up and she would visit us,” Brandes said. “Cathy Jordan was a champion.”
Several Republican lawmakers, however, bristled at the idea of legalizing smokable pot, which Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland called a dangerous “gateway drug.”
The proposal requires the state university system’s Board of Governors to designate a university to house a “Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research” and would steer $1.5 million each year to fund the research, which would be based on data submitted by doctors.
But Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, said that doing away with the ban defies common sense because of the well-known negative health effects of smoking.
“I guess we could take any medication and now say why don’t we smoke any medication? There’s lots of medications out there, and I think we ought to open it up to that, unless we think there’s something wrong with that,” he said. “The research needs to be done before we implement it, not afterwards.”
But Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who has been instrumental in passage of the state’s medical marijuana laws, argued the legislation erects “reasonable guiderails” that would be lacking if the governor drops the court appeal.
“It’s time to move this discussion from Tallahassee to doctors’ offices around the state of Florida,” he said.
But Bradley, a former prosecutor, also challenged doctors to take the issue seriously.
“This is a medicine. Treat it as such,” he said. “Make sure when you make your decisions with your patients that you do so in their health, in their best interest, and not turn this into some kind of joke.”
The newly inaugurated DeSantis appeared at a news conference Jan. 17 with Orlando lawyer John Morgan, who largely bankrolled the 2016 constitutional amendment, to deliver an unambiguous ultimatum about eliminating the smoking ban, saying the “sword of Damocles” was hanging over the head of legislative leaders.
“We have to comply with the Constitution. I am not going to fight these lawsuits when we are on the losing side of them. So if they continue to do a bill that’s constitutional, then we will move on,” DeSantis, a Harvard Law School graduate, told reporters Tuesday.
Senate President Bill Galvano, however, is among those who believe the ban does not violate the constitutional amendment, which does not specifically state that smoking of medical marijuana is allowed.
“I think we were right when we interpreted the amendment the way it was interpreted … but the world we find ourselves in is where the courts disagreed with us. That’s how it works, and we have respect for the courts and respect for the Constitution that we’ve sworn to uphold. So we’ve done what I think is taking some reasonable steps in meeting the requirements of both,” the Bradenton Republican told reporters after Thursday’s floor session.
If the House approves the bill and DeSantis signs it into law as expected, it’s unclear how long it will take for smokable pot to become available to patients.
State health officials would still have to craft rules regulating smokable marijuana. And DeSantis has yet to appoint a Department of Health secretary, who also serves as the state’s surgeon general.
The state’s largest medical marijuana operator, Trulieve, is prepared to offer whole-plant products to patients “as soon as all rules and approvals are in place,” the company said in a news release following passage of the bill.
“Though we do not have an exact date for when these rules will be in place, we understand patients’ urgency in getting immediate access to this form of medicine and are working to be as prepared as possible for when approvals are granted,” the Quincy-based company said in a statement.
This week, Mexico’s Congress is expected to begin deliberating a bill to legalize medical and recreational cannabis use across the country. President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador signaled his willingness to consider legalization during the campaign. Then last week, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that anti-cannabis laws are unconstitutional, forcing lawmakers to decide how to regulate its use.
López Obrador and Mexico aren’t alone in the push to decriminalize cannabis. Uruguay and Canada have already made recreational use legal, while 30 countries (and 33 U.S. states), including Australia, Germany and Israel, have legalized some type of cannabis use. Those numbers are growing. A dozen or more countries have started on the path to full legalization of the plant.
Spain and the Netherlands allow recreational use at designated cafes. Jamaica and the Czech Republic have burgeoning cannabis tourism industries, and have acknowledged them by starting to decriminalize medical use and possession of small amounts. After taking office last year, French President Emmanuel Macron followed through on a campaign promise to eliminate mandatory prison sentences for minor cannabis possession. Colombia and Portugal have strong grassroots legalization movements and growing government support. All these countries are often listed on “most likely to legalize next” lists.
Mexico’s Supreme Court issued two more rulings Wednesday ordering that complainants in individual cases be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes, establishing a precedent that a blanket prohibition on pot is unconstitutional.
The court found that adults have a fundamental right to personal development which lets them decide their recreational activities without interference from the state.
“That right is not absolute, and the consumption of certain substances may be regulated, but the effects provoked by marijuana do not justify an absolute prohibition of its consumption,” the ruling said.
The high court ordered the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk to authorize the complainants to consume marijuana, though not to commercialize it or use other drugs.
The two decisions followed three similar ones between 2015 and 2017, and under Mexican law five decisions on a related issue set a standard that applies more broadly.
“With the existence of five precedents in the same vein on the subject, the judgment will be mandatory for all courts in the country,” the high tribunal concluded.
The rulings technically do not legalize recreational use, however. They establish that courts must allow it, but it is still up to each individual to press his or her case in the judicial system.
Mexico saw something similar happen in recent years with five Supreme Court rulings establishing a broader precedent allowing same-sex couples to wed, though same-sex marriage has yet to become the law of the land nationwide.
Mexico United Against Crime, a group that opposes prohibitionist drug policies, said Wednesday’s rulings “open the door to regulation of cannabis” and confirm that “Mexico must move toward the regulation of drugs to improve conditions of justice and peace in the country.”
Formal legalization would be up to Congress, and the group urged lawmakers to act.
“The Supreme Court has done its job. … The responsibility for issuing the corresponding regulation falls on congress,” the group’s director general, Lisa Sanchez, said in a statement.
Mexico has long been the source of marijuana smuggled into the United States. The rulings from Mexico‘s Supreme Court come after many U.S. states have legalized pot in recent years for medicinal purposes, recreational use or both.
A previous version of this story was corrected to show that the earlier rulings came between 2015 and 2017.
Entrepreneurs and investors are rushing headlong into the nascent legal marijuana industry, fueling a stock craze reminiscent of the late 1990s dot-com bubble and the recent bitcoin mania.
TORONTO—Shannon Soqui just quit his Wall Street job to go after what he thinks is a bigger business: selling marijuana the way Mary Kay Inc. sells cosmetics.
The 51-year-old banker wants to focus on Qind, his San Francisco startup that organizes home parties to sell cannabis products, to get a piece of what he says could sprout into a $100 billion annual business in the U.S.
“It’s like the internet in 1997 or 1998,” said Mr. Soqui. “Investment opportunities to create new businesses have never been more compelling.”
Entrepreneurs and investors are rushing headlong into the nascent legal marijuana industry, fueling a stock craze reminiscent of the late 1990s dot-com bubble and the recent bitcoin mania. Big companies, wealthy families and amateurs alike are taking stakes in speculative companies, many of which have scant revenue or history.
Boomers are experimenting with marijuana more than ever before. Here’s what it could mean.
Marijuana is apparently booming among, well, boomers. Specifically, marijuana use is becoming more prevalent among Americans over 50, according to a new study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
The study analyzed survey responses from more than 17,000 adults over 50 and found that roughly 9% of American adults ages 50 to 64 used marijuana in the past year. Around 3% of adults over age 65 tried marijuana in that same period.
In practical terms, wider adoption of cannabis products among middle-aged and older adults certainly makes sense. In terms of medical use, marijuana is often cited as diminishing nausea and pain symptoms. And just this June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the nation’s first-ever cannabis-based drug, Epidiolex.