Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Do Highly Potent Marijuana Concentrates Get Users More High? Not Exactly, Study Finds
[Canniseur: This is kind of counter-intuitive. I would think that if I ingested more THC through my lungs, I would get a bigger buzz. Apparently, from this study, this is not the case. So if higher THC levels in my blood don’t mean I’m higher, then what do they mean? This is a good neurobehavioral study and I’d certainly like to see more like it. It’s 2020 and we don’t really know what high means yet!]
High-potency marijuana concentrates on today’s legal markets can contain upwards of 90 percent THC, so one might reasonably expect them to pack a greater psychoactive punch than typical flower, which tops out around 30 percent.
But that may not be the case, according to a new study out of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Researchers found that while THC blood levels spiked after users consumed concentrates, impairment levels didn’t significantly differ from participants who used flower.
“Surprisingly, we found that potency did not track with intoxication levels,” said lead author Cinnamon Bidwell, an assistant professor in CU’s Institute of Cognitive Science. “While we saw striking differences in blood levels between the two groups, they were similarly impaired.”
The study, published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, involved 121 Colorado adults who were regular marijuana consumers. Participants were randomly assigned to consume either relatively low-THC marijuana flower, which ranged from 16-24 percent THC, or higher-potency concentrates, which ranged from 70-90 percent. At various points, researchers tested participants’ blood plasma THC levels, surveyed their mood and subjected them to an array of neurobehavioral tasks meant to test attention, memory, inhibitory control and balance.
Researchers used a mobile pharmacology lab they dubbed the “cannavan” to study participants’ cannabis while complying with federal law, the University of Colorado said.
“Most neurobehavioral measures were not altered by short-term cannabis consumption,” the study found. “However, delayed verbal memory and balance function were impaired after use. Differing outcomes for the type of product (flower vs concentrate) or potency within products were not observed.” Impairment faded after about an hour.
“Despite differences in THC exposure, flower and concentrate users showed similar neurobehavioral patterns after acute cannabis use.”
A University of Colorado at Boulder press release calls the paper “the first to assess the acute impact of cannabis among real-world users of legal market products” and says the findings “could inform everything from roadside sobriety tests to decisions about personal recreational or medicinal use.”
Lawmakers and police departments who assume higher THC blood levels correlate with greater impairment, for example, may need to re-educate themselves on how to measure impaired driving. Consumers hoping that high-THC products will mean more mind-blowing highs, on the other hand, may ultimately be putting that extra THC—and the money spent on it—to waste.
“It raises a lot of questions about how quickly the body builds up tolerance to cannabis and whether people might be able to achieve desired results at lower doses,” Bidwell said.
Via the University of Colorado at Boulder.
As more states have opened legal marijuana markets, high-potency concentrates have become more widely available. Critics of marijuana legalization, as well as some health experts, have worried that those products could unleash health hazards on both individual users and broader society. While the University of Colorado paper doesn’t answer questions about potential long-term side effects of THC exposure, its findings indicate short-term impacts of concentrates don’t necessarily warrant additional concern.
“People in the high concentration group were much less compromised than we thought they were going to be,” said co-author Kent Hutchison, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU Boulder who also studies alcohol addiction. “If we gave people that high a concentration of alcohol it would have been a different story.”
One reason that higher THC blood levels didn’t translate to higher highs could be that the body’s finite number of cannabinoid receptors, which THC molecules bind to, become saturated regardless of whether higher- or lower-THC products are used. Any excess THC in consumers’ blood plasma, in that case, would be metabolized and not contribute to further impairment.
“Cannabinoid receptors may become saturated with THC at higher levels,” the study says, “beyond which there is a diminishing effect of THC.”
That’s not to forget the “striking differences in blood levels” the study observed between the two groups of participants. Researchers cautioned that while short-term effects of higher-potency cannabis consumption don’t seem to differ much from more traditional methods, we still don’t know much about how elevated cannabinoid levels affect health over time.
“Does long-term, concentrated exposure mess with your cannabinoid receptors in a way that could have long-term repercussions?” asked Hutchison. “Does it make it harder to quit when you want to? We just don’t know yet.”
The controversy—and uncertainty—around how cannabis affects driver safety has long been a sticking point for legalization. And given the ongoing difficulty in associating THC levels with impairment, it’s unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
As legalization spreads, however, more and more studies are examining marijuana-related impairment. A study published last year found that drivers who tested at the legal limit in many states (2-5 nanograms THC per milliliter of blood) were statistically no more likely to cause a crash than people who had not consumed cannabis, concluding that “the impact of cannabis on road safety is relatively small at present time.”
Earlier this month, Democratic leadership in a House committee introduced a bill that would require states with legal cannabis programs to consider creating programs “to educate drivers on the risks associated with marijuana-impaired driving and to reduce injuries and deaths resulting from individuals driving motor vehicles while impaired by marijuana.”
A congressional report from a year earlier, however, suggested that much of the alarmism about cannabis-impaired driving was unfounded.
“Although laboratory studies have shown that marijuana consumption can affect a person’s response times and motor performance,” the Congressional Research Service wrote, “studies of the impact of marijuana consumption on a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash have produced conflicting results, with some studies finding little or no increased risk of a crash from marijuana usage.”
Do Highly Potent Marijuana Concentrates Get Users More High? Not Exactly, Study Finds was posted on Marijuana Moment.
Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Oregon Marijuana Sales Spike During Pandemic, But Officials Expect Market To ‘Mellow’
[Canniseur: In all States with legal cannabis, dispensaries have been a shining light during this COVID-19 lockdown. Although economies all over the U.S. are hammered, cannabis is selling more than ever. Oregon is only one State, but I’ve read stories about all the legal states. Will cannabis save the day for the U.S. economy? Interesting statistics here.]
Amid one of the sharpest economic downturns in state history, Oregon marijuana sales continue to roll along at a healthier-than-normal pace. State budget officials say that shelter-in-place policies and economic stimulus programs have kept marijuana sales “quite strong” during the pandemic so far.
Since March 1, the sales of adult-use marijuana products are up 60 percent compared to a year ago, the state Office of Economic Analysis said in its latest quarterly budget forecast published last week.
“These increases are not only related to the stockpiling consumers did after the sheltering in place policies were enacted,” the report says, “but have continued through April and early May.”
In April alone, consumers bought $89 million worth of legal cannabis products—a record amount—thanks in part to what officials described as a “4/20 bump.” While the boost in sales figures are due in part to rising prices, state budget analysts said that “underlying demand is up as well.”
“The increase in sales for other marijuana products, like concentrates, edibles and the like, are due to significant gains in consumer demand as prices are flat or down,” analysts reasoned.
The June 2020 budget forecast estimates that the current increase in marijuana sales will yield an extra $9 million in state tax revenue during the 2019-2021 budget period. It’s a rare bright spot in the overall budget report, which state analysts described as “the largest downward revision to the quarterly forecast that our office has ever had to make.”
But even the marijuana sector’s boost may be time limited.
“Expectations are that some of these increases are due to temporary factors like the one-time household recovery rebates, expanded unemployment insurance benefits, and the shelter in place style policies,” the report says. “As the impact of these programs fade in the months ahead, and bars and restaurants reopen to a larger degree, marijuana sales are expected to mellow.”
Demand for marijuana is also expected to fall in coming years due to a lower overall economic outlook, which is projected to reduce Oregon’s population and cut average incomes. “A relatively smaller population indicates fewer potential customers,” the report notes, “and lower total personal income than previously assumed indicates less consumer demand.”
The projected slowdown in sales isn’t expected to make an impact until the next budget period, beginning in 2021. At that point, the forecast says, sales will begin trending down by 5 percent relative to the current period “due to the lower economic outlook” associated with COVID-19.
The pandemic has also changed how Oregonians are making marijuana purchases, the report found, though perhaps not as much as one might expect. The share of sales completed by delivery services more than doubled in recent months, but it remained relatively small, making up just 1.4 percent of total sales. As the Office of Economic Analysis observed, “Consumers still prefer to shop in store.”
Oregon is one of a handful of states looking to legal cannabis sales to help buoy tax revenues. A report published last month by cannabis regulators in Michigan, where legal sales to adults began this past December, forecasts annual marijuana sales in that state to top $3 billion as the market matures. That would mean another 13,500 jobs and roughly $500 million per year in taxes to state coffers. Factoring in the effects on peripheral businesses, the state found, the “total economic impact is estimated to be $7.85 billion with a total impact on employment of 23,700.”
Although tax revenue from cannabis sales will help pad budgets in many legal states, the Oregon report doesn’t mince words: The pandemic’s hit to the state’s economy will be drastic. Oregon’s current recession is “the deepest on record with data going back to 1939,” according to state analysts, and it hit with virtually no warning. “The path looks more like what happens to economic activity during a labor strike or in the aftermath of a natural disaster.”
For its part, Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis predicts a relatively swift recovery. “While this recession is extremely severe, it is expected to be shorter in duration than the Great Recession,” analysts wrote. “The economy should return to health by mid-decade.”
New Mexico Governor Says Legalizing Marijuana Would’ve Funded Programs Cut Due To Coronavirus
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Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Is That A Marijuana Vape Pen In This North Carolina Mayor’s Take-Out Dinner Pic?
[Canniseur: OMG is this real. The conjecture is that it’s something other than a cannabis vape. It’s not. It’s cannabis. For sure. OK, we really don’t know, but nicotine vaping devices are usually much larger as are their cartridges. It doesn’t leave us with much other than we can’t tell what cultivar she’s vaping! And in North Carolina where everything cannabis is illegal. Come on Mary-Ann tell us what you’re smoking!]
A North Carolina mayor was probably only trying to highlight best social distancing practices and support for local businesses when she posted photos of her takeout dinner on Twitter. But by failing to crop out what appears to be a marijuana vape pen, she sparked a different conversation entirely.
“Here is what we did tonight to support our local restaurants,” Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin (D) wrote earlier this month. “Take out from Garland. And we left a 35 percent tip. Please do the same.”
As residents in more jurisdictions around the country have been encouraged to stay at home amid the spread of the coronavirus, delivery and takeout food orders have become popular ways of supporting small businesses. Baldwin’s tweet included two photos of her group’s Indian dinner spread, still in its to-go packaging.
In one photo, just north of the tandoori poussin, is what appears to be a cannabis vape pen.
The apparent slip-up immediately drew fire on Twitter.
“More like Mary-Jane Baldwin am I right,” quipped one commenter in the replies.
“So the Mayor is allowed to have weed pens??” asked another, tagging the Raleigh Police Department’s account.
“If you or I get caught w marijuana in N.C. we get thrown in jail,” replied a third, “while the mayor posts pictures telling you how much to tip with her weed pen in the picture.”
Others correctly pointed out that it’s not clear from the picture that the vape pen contained marijuana at all. Devices like the one in Baldwin’s photo can contain a number of legal or illegal substances, including nicotine, THC, CBD or even psychedelic drugs.
“Everyone is assuming that [it] is a weed pen,” Jon Lubecky, veterans and government affairs liaison for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, posted in a reply. “It very well [may] not be a weed pen. It might be DMT,” a powerful hallucinogen.
Lubecky later clarified to Marijuana Moment that he was being facetious: “It was tongue in cheek due to NC’s and Raleigh’s draconian drug laws,” he said. “Whether it was DMT, Cannabis, or some other substance, she would have anyone else arrested for it.”
To Baldwin’s credit, however, she has previously indicated that punitive policing of cannabis offenses may not be productive and called for a debate over the appropriate approach to marijuana.
Neither Baldwin nor a mayoral spokesperson replied to Marijuana Moment’s requests for comment on Wednesday. Messages left with the Raleigh Police Department also went unreturned.
Much of the critical response focused on the hypocrisy of the mayor allegedly having a marijuana product at home while others in the city face arrest and criminal punishment. Arrests for cannabis vape pens in Wake County, where Raleigh is located, climbed from six arrests in 2018 to at least 33 last year, according to a CBS 17 report in November. The county sheriff’s office also last year broke up an operation where individuals allegedly put the psychedelic DMT into vape pens, according to deputies.
Between January 31, 2017 and July 7, 2019, the Raleigh Police Department made 3,154 cannabis-related arrests, according to documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
If the vape pen indeed contained THC, it’s likely to be less than 0.05 ounces. Possession of that amount of cannabis concentrate in North Carolina is a misdemeanor and carries a punishment of $200 and up to 10 days in jail.
Baldwin herself has called for leniency in cannabis arrests, telling the local publication Indy Week during her mayoral campaign last year that there were likely better ways of dealing with marijuana possession than sending people to jail. Asked how she would improve police relations with the city’s black community, then-candidate Baldwin questioned Raleigh’s existing approach.
“You get kids busted for a little bit of marijuana, where we’re sending people to jail for something that is legal in other parts of the country,” she said. “Is that really how we should be policing? Are there ways that we can help kids, help young people, instead of just busting them? What are we doing to facilitate conversations in the community between the police? We have a great police department. At the same time, I know that there’s opportunity for improvement.”
Baldwin stopped short, however, of saying she would ask police to end such arrests.
“That’s where I would need feedback from the police chief,” she said.
Legalization advocates said they didn’t want to judge Baldwin for having what may have been cannabis as depicted in the tweet, which was first noted by The Daily Dot. But they hoped it would be a lesson to the mayor about the importance of treating everyone equally under the law.
“Some mayors consume cannabis just like many of their constituents,” Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “Hopefully this tweet will represent a teachable moment and Mayor Baldwin will immediately direct law enforcement to halt marijuana related arrests and be an advocate to legalize it at the state level.”
Photo courtesy of Twitter/Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.
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Is That A Marijuana Vape Pen In This North Carolina Mayor’s Take-Out Dinner Pic? was posted on Marijuana Moment.
Original Post: Marijuana Moment: Colorado Marijuana Legalization Would Be Overturned By New Ballot Measure
[Canniseur: We know that there are many anti-pot people in the U.S. They are thankfully in the minority and that minority is getting smaller all the time. Since adult-use cannabis became legal in Colorado, there have been many attempts to overturn legalization. Hopefully, this is just another lame-brained attempt at doing that. Colorado makes a lot of tax revenue from cannabis and the industry has created over 75,000 new jobs in the state. Other than just mean spirited, this whole initiative seems lame.]
Critics have taken pot shots at Colorado’s cannabis laws since voters there became the first in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. Now, a pair of activists want to scrap the system entirely, erasing all mention of adult-use cannabis from the state Constitution.
A newly filed proposed ballot initiative would repeal the section of the Colorado Constitution that says cannabis “should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.”
The measure, submitted to state officials for review last month, would not change Colorado laws concerning medical cannabis or industrial hemp, both of which are also legal in the state.
The long-shot effort seems unlikely to pass, at least in its current form. The proposal as submitted last month is four sentences long and appears to leave key questions unanswered. But the would-be initiative is nevertheless an indication of the ongoing frustration felt by those who believe communities would be better off under prohibition.
The full text of the proposal is as follows:
The people of Colorado declare that the recreational use of marijuana is a matter of statewide concern.
Article XVIII, Section 16 of the Colorado Constitution (Personal Use and Regulation of Marijuana) is repealed.
Laws regarding medical marijuana and industrial hemp are not changed.
This amendment is effective upon the official declaration of the vote hereon by the Governor pursuant to Section 1(4) of Article V of the Colorado Constitution.
The initiative was submitted to the state last month by Mary Lou Mosely of Denver and Willard Behm, a lawyer in Rocky Ford. Neither responded to telephone messages left by Marijuana Moment on Thursday morning.
Legalization advocates are downplaying any threat posed by the measure, saying there’s no evidence to support the idea that voters want to reverse course.
“We view this initiative as a deeply misguided and futile attempt to roll back a successful legalization policy that Coloradans firmly support,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), told Marijuana Moment. “This initiative would kill jobs, destroy businesses, deprive the state of tax revenue, and restore the injustice of prohibition.”
“We are confident that Colorado voters would firmly reject it,” Schweich added. “But we will not be complacent. If this initiative qualifies for the ballot, the marijuana reform movement will make sure that there is a strong and well-funded campaign to defeat it.”
A 2016 poll commissioned by MPP found that only 36% of voters supported reversing legalization in Colorado. The group’s communications director, Violet Cavendish, said she’s unaware of any more recent polling on the issue but added that studies out of other states, such as Washington, which began legal sales just months after Colorado did, suggest that residents of legal-cannabis states are broadly happy with the decision to legalize.
Nationally, support for marijuana legalization has never polled higher than it does now. A Pew survey published in November found that two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans support legalization, extending an upward trend that stretches back to the late 1980s. A majority of those polled (59 percent) said they support both medical and adult-use legalization, while a third of respondents (32 percent) said only medical use should be legal.
A representative for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a leading prohibitionist advocacy group, did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the new Colorado proposal.
To qualify the initiative for the state’s 2020 ballot, organizers will need to collect 124,362 signatures from registered voters—a task that can be quite expensive to organize. But first, the campaign has to reply to questions from state legislative staffers, who earlier this week pointed out a number of problems with how the proposal is currently written.
For example, proposed initiatives are supposed to indicate specific changes to state laws, showing precisely what language would be added or removed. The current proposal doesn’t do that. “You have provided a description of the measure,” the state Office of Legislative Legal Services wrote in a February 3 memo to the initiative’s backers. “Please amend your proposal to show the actual proposed constitutional or statutory changes.”
Other questions hinge on apparent legal conflicts created by the measure. The proposal’s text said it wouldn’t change laws on industrial hemp, for example, but the state’s reply points out that “article XVIII, section 16 of the Colorado constitution includes provisions related to industrial hemp,” which would cease to exist if that section were repealed. “How do the proponents intend to address this conflict?”
Moreover, regulations around cannabis retail stores exist in separate state statutes, officials said, which the proposed constitutional amendment wouldn’t change. “What is the proponent’s intent in repealing the constitutional provisions but not the statutory provisions? Do the proponents believe that a person would still be able to purchase marijuana at a licensed entity and use small amounts of marijuana?”
The measure’s supporters have until March 20 to submit a revised proposal.
Top Connecticut Lawmakers File Marijuana Legalization Bill On Behalf Of Governor
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[Canniseur: About Washington, California, Nevada, & Colorado States only. Lots of diverse factors and trends drive cannabis markets. If you’re into understanding cannabis market forces, this is a fascinating read.]
As US states have legalized cannabis over the past decade, they’ve created a patchwork of small economies. These economies are governed by divergent state laws and separated by firewalls; not a single gram can legally cross state lines. Unsurprisingly, then, markets have evolved considerable differences even as they’ve developed side by side.
A new report by cannabis data firm Headset explores the differences in price that have arisen across these state markets. Looking at Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and California, the report traces price trends across various product categories.
Where’s the Cheapest Cannabis?
Click to enlarge. (Headset)
Of the four states Headset looked at, Washington had the lowest average price per cannabis product. The aptly named Evergreen State also offered the cheapest average gram in terms of concentrates, pre-rolls, and vape pens. Colorado came in slightly lower on average price per gram of flower, but only by a hair.
According to the Headset data, a gram of cannabis flower runs an average of $4.90 in Washington. That wasn’t always the case. “The first day of legal cannabis sales in Washington state saw grams of cannabis being sold for as much as $30, which is unheard of now,” the report notes.
What’s behind the precipitous drop in price? After all, Washington’s 37% cannabis excise tax is one of the highest in the nation.
“Washington has thousands of distinct cannabis brands, and a ‘tiered house’ market system that gives retailers a lot of power to push back on price,” the report says. “Colorado’s system allows for vertical integration, so even though it has seen prices come down over the years, the brand landscape is less hotly contested.”
And the Most Expensive?
Click to enlarge. (Headset)
If Washington offers the lowest average cannabis price of the four states Headset analyzed, Nevada boasts the highest—by far. The state had the highest average price per gram across flower, concentrates, pre-rolls, and vape pens.
Tourism might account for some of Nevada’s premium pricing. Vape pens, which are particularly popular among out-of-towners and casual consumers, were considerably more expensive in Nevada than in any other state. The average price per gram for vape carts in Nevada was $96—nearly triple Washington’s average of $36.
California reigns supreme when it comes to average product price, although part of that has to do with what products retailers choose to carry. The average item price is $30.90, according to the Headset report, which is more than double Washington’s average of $15.33. Some of the difference is the result of increased compliance costs that came with California’s recent transition to a regulated market. “In California, which just came online in 2018,” the report says, average item price “has actually gone up by $5, but that can’t last forever.”
Click to enlarge. (Headset)
Price trends in non-inhalable products—including infused beverages, edibles, capsules, tinctures, and topicals—were a bit less clear. Headset evaluated price per milligram of THC in these products and found that “price trends don’t mirror the state trends shown in inhalables.” Variance in prices from state to state was also more limited.
Nevada, for example, is still on the expensive side in terms of beverages, edibles, capsules, and topicals—but it had the lowest average price when it came to tinctures. And despite California’s high average item price, the Golden State has the lowest-priced edibles of any state Headset looked at.
Original Post: Leafly: Where’s the Cheapest Cannabis? A State-by-State Comparison