Original Article: Marijuana Times: A New Yorker’s Cannabis Experience in Spain
[Canniseur: I’ve written several articles about traveling to places other than the United States, but I haven’t been able to stay in one country for more than a week or 10 days. This is a great and more in-depth look at what it’s like to find cannabis in a country other than the U.S.]
After nearly a decade of living in New York City, I thought I understood what it’s like to live in a major destination that, kind of, sort of, tolerates marijuana use.
Then, a few months ago, I traveled to Spain.
There, I got to experience a cannabis marketplace that reminded me of home while opening my mind to new approaches, both positive and negative. In both Manhattan and Madrid, I felt touches of progress, as well as rumors of older-era illicit market techniques that may or may not still be in practice. While I felt at home, there was enough to let me know that stark differences were around.
What is for sure is that both Spain and the U.S. can learn from one another. In the weeks since my return home, I’ve unpacked my thoughts and experiences in both semi-illicit markets.
To begin, Spanish cannabis laws are often as hazy as the smoke that emanates from the burnt cannabis plant. For example, cultivation for personal use is allowed. However, selling and trafficking pot remains prohibited, as does any public consumption or possession. The latter will likely result in a punishable offense, often a fine. Those caught selling and trafficking can face jail time. That said, you can legally sell and possess cannabis paraphernalia. You can also smoke in the privacy of your own home.
Finding your own cannabis in Spain seems to largely boil down to how you want to go about it. Some I spoke with reported growing their own pot. Others found their supply through a number of alternative means. Some relied on a trusted supplier, often a friend who sold what they cultivated. Others claimed to just wait on certain friends to offer them a few hits at parties and other social gatherings.
Then, there was the method that most reminded me of back home: buying from someone with a backpack in the park. Much like in Central, Washington Square and other parks in New York, backpack dealers remain a common – yet slightly risky – recommendation for picking up cannabis. While these folks assuredly do exist, it seems like their heyday has passed as access to legal, fair priced options have grown.
I attempted to find pot using the backpacker method in a commonly recommended area of Madrid, Parc Retiro. I was prepared with 100 Euros and the understanding that my poor grasp of Spanish would likely net me a higher price point. However, one late afternoon attempt and another early morning walk in the area produced no success. While I saw many families and backpackers, no one seemed keen to offer me any pot. Nor, did anyone give me the look to make me feel like it was worth approaching them.
After two days of making attempts, I was a day away from moving out of Madrid and onto smaller cities where my hopes for hash or marijuana would likely lessen. With worries that I wouldn’t pick up, I turned to a more legal option that I came across in my research: cannabis clubs.
Cannabis clubs have existed in Spain since the early ‘90s, serving as a somewhat legal destination for people to buy and consume their cannabis. These clubs operate as a collective to skirt that law. To do so, cannabis isn’t sold, per se. Instead, buyers give their money to reimburse the club for the allotment of cannabis they take out each visit. It’s exactly the same as a purchase, but it’s not.
While attempts to punish early founders have been undertaken over the years, the law eventually sided in favor of the businesses. That said, their legal status remains uncertain. Despite its longstanding questionable status, hundreds of clubs exist across the country today, mostly in Madrid and Barcelona.
That said, you can’t just enter into any ‘ol club and make a purchase. While some people I spoke to said you can with the right amount of persuasion and funds, most recommend getting sponsored as rules stipulate.
Lurking around outside the club asking someone to recommend you won’t work. I tried once, and all I got was a guy who wouldn’t look at me as he walked away.
I found sponsorship success by Googling tips, tricks and information about Madrid’s cannabis clubs. Many wrong turns eventually led to success. On my second day in Madrid, I found a website that not only provided in-depth information about clubs. They also sponsored qualified applicants in Madrid and Barcelona. I would link to this site, but they did not confirm their preference to be included in the article.
The application process was rather simple, though I was concerned about missing any steps, fearing I’d be rejected. The first step included agreeing to a set of rules. Rules stated you must be aged 21 or over, agreeing to only use the purchased cannabis for personal use and consenting to pay a 30-60 Euro one-year membership fee.
Once I agreed to the terms, I was given an appointment the following day. I went to a nondescript building not too far from Central Madrid. I was told to look for a green storefront with frosted glass and to show up at 9 PM local time. After being buzzed in, the experience resembled what you’d find at a no frills dispensary in many major American locations.
A quick stop in the waiting area led me to the front desk, where I completed my sign up. I didn’t run into any issues, but some hurdles did arise. During my pre-application referral process, I was told by my sponsor that you must provide a residential Spainish address. They said that hostels and hotels would not be allowed. When I got to my sign up, however, I was told that a Madrid address was better to use than the residential address in Toledo that I planned to list.
Once those small issues were cleared, I paid my 35 Euro membership fee and was led to a nearby sales desk. I was offered six different strains, three sativa-dominant and three indica-dominant strains, all relatively well-known. I opted for three grams of Gorilla Glue at 45 Euros. The flower did the job, but was dry and felt less potent overall.
Now, here comes a different part that may not suit everyone: Unlike an American or Canadian dispensary, you simply can’t walk out of the store after making a purchase. In fact, rules at the club I was at stated that you must consume all your cannabis on-site. Doing so is considered the only legal way to avoid the police, as on-site consumption falls into one of the country’s legal loopholes.
If you choose to carry your purchases out, you risk facing the consequences for possession. Some recommend putting your pot in your underwear to be safe. That said, you can carry it out with little concern. Just stick to the usual rules of discretion and you should be fine.
Another reason you can’t just leave after a purchase is to maintain appearances in the neighborhood. A steady flow of people smelling like or carrying pot is sure to attract attention. Instead, clubs may have you wait a period before leaving. I was told to remain for at least 30 minutes. The club had a downstairs area for consumption, which included seating, a pool table, music and snacks.
Before I headed down there, the staff offered me bowls, grinders and papers to borrow while consuming downstairs. I stuck with my dry flower vape. After 45 minutes downstairs, I tucked my excess flower into my crotch and was on my way.
In all, the purchasing experience was rather easy and painless. Outside of Madrid and Barcelona, that may prove less true. In Toledo, I was contacted on Instagram by a person who lived in Cantabria on Spain’s north coast. They were in Toledo looking to pick up. They reported no luck using the park method. Instead, they only saw police.
The best advice I could offer them was visiting the CBD shop inside the walled UNESCO World Heritage site. While they didn’t have THC, they had a tolerable CBD-infused red wine.
The rest of my travels had little to do with cannabis. A few conversations about the plant would buzz by me at times, as would the occasional waft of pot in the air. In the south of Spain, a few stores in and around the Arabic markets sold hemp backpacks with the leaf on the back. But, for the most part, cannabis didn’t come up much. While it was clear that the people consume the plant, it did not seem to be a focal point in anyone’s day or lifestyle.
Back in the States, I look at the two markets and see much of the same. Approaches to buying are different, but the old ways of illicit sales are both seemingly fading, as are their approaches to dispensary purchasing.
While public consumption is less obvious in Spain, there is something to be said about the aroma of marijuana as it zips past you on the city streets. In New York, it’s a common occurrence. In Spain, it was a treat. And while Spain’s overall approach to lounges and cafes for everything from Burger King to cannabis do help you slow down and appreciate the day, there is something to be said about New York’s efficient and rapid takeaway system – marijuana or otherwise. You know you can always grab and go in the Big Apple.
Overall, in my limited, two-week experience in Spain, my main takeaway is that the stuff should be legal. Both countries stand to benefit from it. In Spain, cigarette smoke continues to be an ever-present fixture in public spaces. If they’re going to keep that up, then adding a little pot into the air wouldn’t be so bad, would it?
Meanwhile, in New York and countless other U.S. cities, you still can’t buy recreational pot without inviting someone to your house or some other potentially dodgy interaction. While the convenience is nice, the experience sometimes may not be. When presented with the two, I think that if I had to stay in a club for 30 or so minutes to buy my stuff from a trusted location, I might rather do that. Especially if there were tapas.
Original Article: Marijuana Times: A New Yorker’s Cannabis Experience in Spain
Original Post: High Times: Cannabis and Mental Health: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
[Canniseur: Cannabis has always offered me great focus. A little hit and I’m off handling the present moment with genuine enthusiasm. Some may need to hear official scientific results, but cannabis has become an important option for many seeking treatment. That said, we really need more research on THC/CBD/ADHD.]
To avoid the side-effects from traditional medications, some ADHD patients are using cannabis.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that can considerably impact one’s daily life. The disorder has the ability to affect attention spans and behavior, as well as trigger bouts of hyperactivity. As such, patients tend to struggle with school, work, relationships, and common tasks and interactions.
Several causes of ADHD have been identified. They include genetics, developmental issues in the central nervous system, and a person’s environment. Additionally, families with ADHD or other mental health concerns may be at higher risk, as are those exposed to toxins as children. Issues during pregnancy, like premature births or drinking while pregnant, can play a factor as well.
Coexisting conditions tend to occur alongside ADHD. Accompanying disorders may affect a person’s anxiety, mood or psyche, with learning disabilities also common.
ADHD contains three subtypes of the disorder, including attention deficit disorder (ADD). Other subtypes include Combined, which affects hyperactivity and inattentiveness, and Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, which states what is affected in its name.
According to 2016 Center for Disease Control data, 9.4% of American children between the ages of two and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD. Of the 6.1 million diagnosed, 3.3 million children were diagnosed between the ages of 12 and 17.
The disorder is known to affect the sexes differently. Girls with ADHD tend to outperform boys with ADHD in school. Meanwhile, boys tend to suffer in school and act out more. Boys with the condition likely stand out more due to their frequency as well, with triple the amount of diagnoses.
In both genders, symptoms include being withdrawn, frequent talking, disorganization, and difficulty completing tasks. That said, with symptoms mirroring a person’s everyday struggles, making it difficult for a person to know what they’re dealing with. Experts suggest consulting a physician if you feel that you or your child’s day is disrupted daily. If the occurrence is not a daily burden, it is not likely ADHD.
Though more frequent in children, ADHD affects 4.4% of adults as well. This percentage may be inaccurate, according to some expert positing. They believe scores of undiagnosed adults may drive the figure higher, though unclear of the number. While possible, the Mayo Clinic points out that adult ADHD diagnoses are difficult. In addition to the previous examples, ADHD also shares similar symptoms with other anxiety or mood disorders, further clouding a diagnosis.
Like other disorders and mental conditions, some don’t see their ADHD as entirely negative. “ADHD is an absolute blessing and blatant curse depending on the day,” explains Melissa Gumely, an early-30s clothing designer and creative. She offered up examples. “There are days I’m a multitasking, hyper-focused ninja working on and completing task after task. Others, I can’t get out of my head or my bed.”
Officially diagnosed at 17, Gumley recalls her hyperactivity as a problem for teachers as early as age seven. By her senior year in high school, she reported taking AP classes with an inability to focus on a single one.
“I would finish assignments within 10 minutes and then get sent to go ‘walk it off,’” she said. She switched to a vocational program mid-year, which she said helped.
She continues to struggle with ADHD today. Her symptoms include feeling overwhelmed and overloaded. “It’s constantly fighting with your executive function because some days your brain and body are working against each other.” She continued, “It’s exhaustion but permanent insomnia.”
Treatment for ADHD
In most cases, adults and children are treated using some combination of medication, psychological therapy and treatment for any coexisting conditions. However, some patients experience less than ideal outcomes with traditional methods. Some of the reported adverse effects include difficulty sleeping, higher blood pressure, head and stomach pain, as well as weight loss.
As such, cannabis has become an option for many seeking treatment.
Sarah ElSayed is a public relations executive who was diagnosed with ADD nearly 12 years ago. She explained how cannabis has been part of what she believes is her ideal treatment. “I do believe that cannabis, in addition to probiotics and a reduced sugar diet, helps me maintain my focus without the help of stimulants.”
Medical professionals who spoke to High Times for this article agreed that ADHD treatments are not one-size-fits-all. Brooke Alpert is a licensed cannabis practitioner and founder of Daily Habit. Alpert touched on the correlation between CBD and ADHD. “The studies that focus on ADHD and CBD have shown some conflicting evidence.”
She added, “I think more research needs to look at what relief people are finding with cannabis so we can have a better picture of how to further recommend CBD and cannabis for those with ADHD.”
Alisa Martin is a writer and researcher for InsuranceProviders.com and holds a B.S. in medical technology. Martin pointed towards a study that found 25% of patients surveyed manage their ADHD with cannabis. The researcher went on to agree that additional studies are required. “More investigation is needed from the medical community, as well as an increased public openness and understanding regarding the benefits,” said Martin.
The current lack of evidence and the federal legal status in the U.S. leaves medical professionals uncomfortable to prescribe cannabis. As such, patients often self-medicate.
Those who self medicate have some lab findings to confirm their faith in cannabis treatments. They include a 2017 small clinical study that found that a 1:1 CBD/THC medicine reduced ADHD symptoms. Matt Scillitani, a Demographic Researcher for Remedy Review, also cited the study. Scillitani also pointed out that the research did not meet a statistically significant threshold.
He echoed a similar sentiment about the need for more studies. He also touched on shortcomings in the currently available date. “Additionally, of the few clinical studies that do evaluate cannabinoids and ADHD, most assess the effects of THC or THC/CBD adjunctively.” Scillitani also pointed out that studies typically use only adults and small sample sizes.
Despite the uncertainty in the eyes of science, many are convinced cannabis is their ideal treatment. For the designer Gumley, she claims that cannabis provides everything medications like Adderall, Vyvanse and Ritalin claimed but never did. “It helps bring calm to an otherwise constant anxiety-ridden body,” she explained, highlighting mental and physical relief.
She added, “Cannabis has changed my life exponentially for the better.”
Cannabis and Mental Health: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was posted on High Times.
Original Post: High Times: Study Finds Smoking From A Pipe Can Expose You To More Germs Than A Toilet Seat
[Canniseur: Yuck! But yet, somehow all these years/decades of passing around the bong or joint has not posed any kind of problem – ever. Will the knowledge of the dirty facts change my habits? Time will tell.]
But don’t back out of your smoke circle just yet
Let’s face it: we touch a lot of dirty things every day.
Dirty items inside the home include bathroom hand towels and dog toys. Outside of the house, everything from shopping carts to ATMs can expose us to high concentrations of germs. And that doesn’t even cover everyday items like cell phones, cash, and computer keyboards—all of which have high germ exposure potential.
The same can be said for items that go in our mouths, like fingernails and pens. Sharing drinks, toothbrushes, and food can also spell out germ city.
And that bizarre five-second rule? Forget about it.
Germs are everywhere. They’re unavoidable, but don’t freak out; they’re a totally normal part of living and your immune system will protect you from most of them. However, there’s a pressing germ concern unique to the cannabis community: group consumption of pipes and joints.
A recent study conducted by Los Angeles-based Moose Labs found that cannabis pipes, vapes, and joints all have “an astounding level of bacteria.” It went on to state that it was difficult to find a neutral everyday item that matched its levels of bacteria. The analysis produced significantly higher-than-expected results. In all, the average cannabis pipe was found to have “almost one and a half times more bacteria than a public toilet seat.”
The report concluded that each person should use a mouthpiece when consuming. The findings support using a product like a disposable or washable mouthpiece with a filter, like one that Moose Labs offers. This is a point the company’s co-founder Jay Rush said the study sought out to prove.
“It really is just absolutely horrifying,” Rush said about the findings. “I almost feel bad telling people, but would you rather be informed and upset or uninformed and blissfully ignorant?”
Other experts in the field told High Times they recommended carrying a product like alcohol wipes when smoking a bong or pipe with a large group of people.
Christopher Carrubba, MD explained why cannabis consumption devices can become so contaminated. He cited biofilm formation as the cause. “Marijuana itself can be a host to numerous bacterial and fungal organisms and contaminated bong water can similarly serve as a host for bacteria, candida, and other types of fungi,” he said.
“As these organisms grow, they secrete substances that allow them to cling to certain physical objects such as plastic or glass within a bong. The accumulation of these secretions leads to the formation of a biofilm that serves to protect these organisms and to facilitate their ongoing proliferation.”
Dr. Carrubba went on to note that biofilms are resistant to standard cleaning solutions and antimicrobial agents: “Once a biofilm forms, bacterial and fungal contaminants may persist even after a basic washing of the bong.”
He added that some of the more common microbial organisms and their potential risks include:
- Aspergillosis — When burned, the fungal organism aspergillosis releases mycotoxins that can gather in bong water and be inhaled later on. This can potentially cause a cough or chest pain and can lead to pulmonary disease.
- Pseudomonas — This bacterial organism can cause acute pneumonia and sepsis. It is difficult to treat, often requiring antimicrobial therapy for long periods.
- Flavobacterium — This bacteria is found in sources of stagnant water like an unclean bong. An infection can lead to pulmonary symptoms and diarrhea.
- Streptococcus species — A common bacteria usually found on the skin and in the oral and respiratory tract. It is responsible for infections such as strep throat, pneumonia, ear infections and other unpleasant medical results.
- E. coli — E. coli can also be found in the cannabis plant, as well as human and animal feces. Exposure to E. coli can turn into symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
The Moose Labs study focuses on cannabis pipes, as the company did not receive enough materials to analyze joints and vaporizers as closely as the pipes.
However, Rush noted that the unnamed joints and vaporizer provided in the test are products he uses personally. “I consider myself a relatively clean person,” Rush said. “And they both read significantly higher than anything else that we have tested for.”
The results from Moose Labs found that both joints and vaporizers had close to four times more bacteria than a toilet seat.
The concerning data shows that cannabis consumption, especially in group settings, can create adverse effects. While drastic, Rush noted that global issues, such as the SARS virus, can go from one person to thousands across the world relatively quickly. If an infected person consumed cannabis in a group setting, the consequences could be dire.
“Imagine if someone goes to one of these events where they have one of these viruses and a hundred other people put their mouth directly on [a pipe] and go out into the world. You’d have an epidemic like never before,” Rush explained.
Causing the next global health scare isn’t a likely outcome, but other uncomfortable conditions from sore throats to diarrhea are possible. While it may not always be the trendiest thing to do, carrying a mouthpiece or sanitary wipes will keep pieces cleaner. Using a few could help yourself and those around you.
Those looking to protect themselves further may want to consider Dr. Carrubaa’s advice that includes cleaning the bong with boiling water after each use. Other measures include properly drying the bong after washing, a weekly cleaning with rubbing alcohol, and cleaning your hands before using your piece.
Study Finds Smoking From A Pipe Can Expose You To More Germs Than A Toilet Seat was posted on High Times.
Original Post: High Times: Cannabis and Mental Health: Schizophrenia
[Canniseur: Here’s an interesting debate. Does cannabis help or hurt people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia? There are two sides to this. More research will help us understand how cannabis affects schizophrenia. Good or bad? I’m guessing that for different people, cannabis can have opposite effects. The more we learn, we’re beginning to see that cannabis consumption, by whatever means, is hugely complex.]
About 1.1 percent of the worldwide population is diagnosed with schizophrenia. According to the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America, schizophrenia is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States, affecting 3.5 million people.
The mental health condition can erase people’s memories of their days, past and even their reality. The SRDAA states that person must have at least two of the following symptoms to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, with one of the first three listed being one a person is suffering form:
- Disorganized speech
- Disorganized or catatonic behavior
- Negative symptoms
Cannabis consumption tends to be a debated topic surrounding most mental health conditions today. This is particularly true with schizophrenia. Some believe that cannabis can lead to increased psychosis, a common symptom in schizophrenia. Meanwhile, others believe that may not be the case just yet.
Dr. Alex Dimitriu is a double board-certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine. In response to this article, Dr. Dimitriu explained what the effects of psychosis are like on a person. “Psychosis is defined as having false beliefs (often called delusions) and seeing or hearing things that are not real (hallucinations). In a psychotic state, people may appear disorganized, confused, paranoid, almost as if they were tripping on something (like LSD, or magic mushrooms).”
He also expanded on how THC is a mild hallucinogen that can lead to short-term schizophrenia but should not be long-lasting. “Believe it or not, to some degree or other many users of cannabis have experienced the “psychotic” like effects of the drug. Fortunately, this is short-lived, usually lasting hours. Most commonly, this is seen as the paranoia – thoughts like “are people watching me?” “am I going to get in trouble with the authorities?” or, “I think I’m having a panic attack and should maybe go to the ER?”
Dr. Amy Baxter, CEO of Pain Care Labs, felt differently about cannabis use and its potential to affect people. She wrote that while cannabis can be useful in a myriad of conditions from cancer to PTSD, the dopamine pain receptors targeted can lead to mania and psychosis when overstimulated. Dr. Baxter elaborated, “In fact, 10-15% of people get paranoia and hallucinations (psychosis symptoms). With certain genetic backgrounds, even a single use of cannabis can lead to a 10x greater risk of lifelong schizophrenia.”
She also recommended a 2017 review of cannabis through the centuries, noting its recommendation for more research.
Dr. Jordan Tishler is a Harvard graduate and doctor with his own practice and research and works with CannabisMD. He noted that cannabis use is used at higher rates by people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Dr. Tishler added, “This has lead to the association of cannabis use with development or worsening of these illnesses. It’s entirely unclear whether cannabis is causing these problems or the problems lead to cannabis use. Obviously these are very different situations. Studies that try to solve this riddle are very mixed, some appear to show causation, others do not.”
Unlike other articles in this series, no patients came forward to share their experience with High Times. That said, many testimonies online detail individual experiences. From the medical professional perspective, while often short-lived, Dr. Dimitriu noted that come symptoms can worsen when using cannabis. He recalled a patient in their 20s who experienced paranoid thoughts, didn’t go to school and slept on the floor to avoid electromagnetic waves. He also noted a 50-something-year-old patient who started hearing voices after smoking a potent strain.
Dr. Tishler also offered up an example they encountered. In this case, a 65-year-old patient suffered from severe and constant physical pain and unresponsive to traditional medicine. The patient also had suffered from 40 years of mental health issues, dating back to her 20s. He explained how they came to a suitable treatment plan using cannabis.
“Ideally, we’d avoid cannabis for her, but her pain is debilitating, unresponsive to prior treatment, and her acute psychosis was long ago. In this case, I was able to devise a care plan with her vast mental health team to monitor her daily (as they were already doing) such that if cannabis made her worse, we’d know rapidly.”
He said that he “did lose sleep over her case,” but the issue worked out in this case. He also offered a counterexample. “I’ve had cases where, despite careful consideration, they did poorly and were thankfully noticed quickly.”
With such varying outcomes and the severity of the condition, Dr. Tishler recognized that cannabis could be the cause of psychosis, or increase the illness. Therefore, it is wise to avoid using cannabis if there are any signs of any such symptoms. He also addressed the problem with this solution. “The problem, of course, is that it is hard to foresee these illnesses until they strike. Since these illnesses tend to occur in late teens and early young adults, this is part of the reason for suggesting that these people avoid cannabis.”
The other responding physicians agreed with this approach. Dr. Baxter called using cannabis with this mental health condition “extremely risky.” Meanwhile, Dr. Dimitriu expanded on other substances people with schizophrenia and other conditions may want to consider avoiding.
“Certainly true with uppers – whether it is amphetamines like Adderall, or methylphenidate – Ritalin, even caffeine and energy drinks – these meds can increase levels of dopamine which can worsen agitation, and the symptoms of psychosis. Classic psychedelics should be definitely avoided – like LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), DMT, and so on.”
While THC appears to be a cannabinoid medical professionals would not recommend in most schizophrenia patients, some are discussing the positive benefits of CBD.
Dr. Bill Code is a cannabis expert concerning mental conditions, including schizophrenia. His book, Solving the Brain Puzzle, addresses cannabis use. He explained how CBD led to “considerable benefit” with psychosis and schizophrenia. He came to a decision after reading a French study of high potency CBD and its equivalence to modern antipsychotics “without the rough side effects.”
Dr. Dimitriu expanded on why CBD may prove to be an effective anti-psychotic. “CBD has been shown to have numerous medicinal benefits – as a pain reducer, an anti-convulsant (anti-seizure), a sleep inducer, and has been shown to lower anxiety levels,” he said while adding that additional studies are required. He mentioned a 2012 investigation of the effects of CBD as an antipsychotic for further reading.
In the end, just with any condition, the choice falls on the patient as long as they are of a sound mind to do so. “This is not always an easy decision…careful planning and monitoring is essential to being able to avoid problems or [react] quickly if they do arise,” said Dr. Tishler.
Cannabis and Mental Health: Schizophrenia was posted on High Times.
Original Article: Marijuana Times: Do We Talk About LGBTQ Cannabis Inclusion Enough?
[Canniseur: News Flash: The LGBTQ community includes both people of color & women. Really, you don’t have to choose between groups to add diversity in your organization. An entity can can choose to just not discriminate. Select people to work with that don’t look like you and your world becomes diverse.]
Be honest, be educated and be ready to do the work.
The cannabis industry could serve as the ideal for other industries regarding inclusion and diversity. Much of the discussion has centered on communities primarily affected by the drug war, often being people of color, and women in general. The market does seem to be performing slightly better than most others, but there is room for improvement as the industry matures.
The discussion around such equitable measures will sometimes, but not always, include the LGBTQ community as well. While most in the space agree that people of color and women need to be prioritized, does the same need to apply for LGBTQ people? The responses we received from those we spoke to for this article seem to indicate that the feeling is mixed.
“While there’s little available data on LGBTQ representation within the cannabis industry, there is some tension around representation – and it’s existed for some time,” said Michael Klein, CEO of cannabisMD. Klein mentioned other prominent outlets covering the topic in recent years. He discussed the need for the industry to acknowledge the impact the community had in growing the market, while also understanding the market’s good intentions. “But there’s a difference between wanting to do the right thing and actually doing it. It’s important that the industry look back and celebrate those that have contributed to bringing it into mainstream consciousness.”
Acknowledging the shared history of cannabis rights and the LGBTQ movement is something that John Entwistle is very familiar with. As director of the Dennis Peron Legacy Advisory Board, he understands how linked the two are, especially in the Bay Area. “Two great advances for human rights everywhere came from San Francisco where gay people and cannabis users combined forces first to elect Harvey Milk and later, during the AIDS epidemic, legalized marijuana for all medical use,” he explained.
He elaborated on their significant efforts. “Two marginalized groups of people who were entirely underground working together to push back against the dark forces of discrimination and fear. This is a huge story, and it deserves more attention.”
Chris Schroeder owns Somatik, a Bay Area-based cannabis business. He spoke further about the connection between the early cannabis movement and the LGBTQ community. “Historically, the legacy cannabis community has always been very inclusive, but hadn’t necessarily reflected equal representation of all communities. However the LGBTQ impact on cannabis is undeniable.”
Schroeder added, “As a diverse brand in a changing industry, it’s essential that we take an active role in creating a diverse company by creating space on our board, in our community and within our four walls for representation of each of those communities.”
As such, he does not feel like there is equal representation in the current market. Schroeder explained that businesses need to make conscious choices around equal representation. This includes seeking candidates outside of a person’s usual social and business networks. “Equal representation isn’t just a cannabis goal, it’s a goal for our society as a whole. This is an opportunity for the cannabis industry to set the standard by showing that a diverse team of people running our businesses fosters innovation, better products, and a healthier economy.”
Others feel that while LGBTQ representation and equality is paramount, women and people of color receive more attention because of the implications of the current system. Sara Gluck, Chief Operating Officer of the America Israel Cannabis Association (AICA), delved into why the attention should be focused on people of color, namely African Americans. “Studies have shown that those that identify as LGBTQ+ are twice as likely to use illicit substances, including cannabis. However, to my knowledge, sexuality doesn’t equate to being twice as likely to being imprisoned for cannabis, race does,” Gluck pointed out.
Schroeder also agreed that diverse representation includes all three of the core groups in the discussion. He also expanded on the differences each group faces in cannabis and beyond. “I would be reluctant to compare it to the other groups because the LGBTQ community has not been targeted by the war on drugs, and the cannabis industry is a good example of how the fight for female inclusion applies to every industry and is a global goal.”
Tess Taylor, founder of the brand TAYLOR + tess said her interactions with women of various ethnicities and gender preferences revealed barriers around licensing, funding, pay and other key areas of the business. “However, this creates a thread of commonality that bands these groups together, which is empowering for everyone.” Taylor added, “I do believe that this is an inclusive industry and a paradigm shift is happening in this industry and beyond.”
That paradigm shift seems to include brand inclusion. Today, Pride events are filled with sponsors promoting openness to the LGBTQ community. This extends past cannabis and into major names like banks, clothing and scores of other brands getting involved. Entwistle mentioned vaporizer brand PAX and its efforts to celebrate LGBTQ history and its participation in Pride week celebrations.
Others get involved outside of Pride. Dan Karkoska, aka DJ Dank, puts on PUFF, a queer, cannabis, drag party in San Francisco. PUFF has been nominated for best in city awards and has had support from major cannabis brands. Sponsors have included Somatik, Papa and Barkley and other leading names in the cannabis space to give out samples and educate the crowd. “By mixing a party, music and drag with weed education, we created a whole new hybrid show,” Karkoska noted.
That said, some are dubious to the influx of cannabis brands embracing the LGBTQ. Paul Rathert is the co-founder of Higher Level and considers himself a straight ally. He noted how consumers are becoming wiser to companies pandering support instead of actually embracing it. “Right now It’s easy to throw a rainbow sticker on your packaging and post it on IG with a bunch of community-friendly hashtags. It’s something else entirely to consistently see an LP actually doing good within a community.”
Rathert expanded on his inside perspective to the situation. “There’s a lot of talk about supporting minorities, but not many LPs actively supporting them or protecting them from being exploited. There’s a lot of talk and marketing behind supporting the LGBTQ community, but not many LPs are focusing time on it or telling the story of the relationship between illegal cannabis cultivation, especially in the famed Emerald Triangle and the AIDS epidemic in the Bay Area in the early 80s.”
With the need for representation and equality a must in the space, cannabis can serve as the fair entry point for LGBTQ people, as well as people of color and women. While the general consensus is that people of color and women deserve a bit more priority, many believe cannabis could be the unifier of all our differences.
This is something Karkoska hopes to achieve through PUFF – and with the plant in general. “Let’s educate ourselves on the amazing benefits of the cannabis plant, and create a community of all sizes, shapes and colors. Cannabis is a great uniter!”
Top Photo by Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now
Original Article: Marijuana Times: Do We Talk About LGBTQ Cannabis Inclusion Enough?