No study needed: Stoned drivers pose deadly threat

No study needed: Stoned drivers pose deadly threat

FILE – In this May 25, 2020, file photo, agents Amanda Toma and Ashley Brodeur work with customers outside in the parking lot of cannabis purveyor Berkshire Roots in Pittsfield, Mass. Laws legalizing recreational marijuana may lead to more traffic deaths, two new studies suggest, although questions remain about how they might influence driving habits. Previous research has had mixed results and the new studies, published Monday, June 22, 2020, in JAMA Internal Medicine, can’t prove that the traffic death increases they found were caused by marijuana use. (Gillian Jones/The Berkshire Eagle via AP, File)

[Canniseur: This is the worst kind of journalism. We’re seeing a lot of it lately. The story essentially says that stoned drivers are impaired and it’s a throwback to the 1970s and Nixon. We do not need unsubstantiated and uncorroborated stories like this. We call bogus on this story.]

The Associated Press recently disclosed the results of two new studies attempting to determine the impact on traffic deaths in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Both suggested that laws legalizing recreational marijuana may lead to more traffic fatalities.

We wouldn’t think a comprehensive study would be required to reach that conclusion.

The studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reflect previous research, which couldn’t substantiate that the traffic death increases found were caused by marijuana use.

One study found 75 more traffic deaths per year after retail sales began in Colorado in January 2014, compared with states without similar laws. But it found no similar change in Washington state. However, when the two-state study was done, pot stores were more densely located in Colorado than in Washington, which could have made the drug more readily available, the authors said.

Both reviews culled several years of traffic death data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before and at least two years after retail sales of recreational pot began in the states examined.

The studies’ lack of a definitive link between additional traffic fatalities in recreational-pot states stems from their inability to determine whether motorists were under the influence of marijuana when the crash occurred.

Since marijuana can remain in human tissues for several days, even if toxicology tests detected it in a fatal crash, that wouldn’t prove the driver was impaired, said co-author Magdalena Cerda, a New York University researcher.

We’ve already exposed that detection flaw in the Massachusetts law that legalized recreational pot.

Gov. Charlie Baker tried to close that loophole with a bill that would give police new tools to crack down on drug-impaired drivers.

That legislation, based on recommendations from the Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving, would extend restrictions similar to those already in place for alcohol impairment to motorists affected by or in possession of marijuana.

While we certainly agreed with the governor’s attempt to crack down on impaired driving, the differences between alcohol and marijuana don’t lend themselves to similar enforcement.

It’s been established that THC — the main psychoactive compound in marijuana responsible for the “high” sensation — remains in the blood stream far longer than its incapacitating effects, thus rendering a Breathalyzer-type test inconclusive or misleading.

That also seems to be the opinion of the state’s highest court. In a 2017 ruling, the SJC said field sobriety tests typically used in drunken-driving cases cannot be treated as conclusive evidence that a motorist was operating under the influence of marijuana.

In this state, the concern over driving while stoned redoubled the public-safety sector’s awareness efforts last December during the holiday season.

The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security purchased televised advertisements, gas station TV spots and posters for bars and restaurants warning about the dangers of impaired driving, focusing on marijuana.

We don’t need high-brow medical research to realize that in Massachusetts and other recreational-pot states, your chances of running into a substance-impaired motorist can only increase.

And that collision could cause serious injury or death.

Source: Boston Herald: No study needed: Stoned drivers pose deadly threat

Orange Skunk – Cultivar Review (Sativa)

Orange Skunk – Cultivar Review (Sativa)

Orange Skunk Cultivar Review: Total Score: 92

This week’s Orange Skunk cultivar review is for a “sativa” purchased at Arborside Compassion in Ann Arbor, MI. The grower is unknown. Arborside Compassion is one of the few medical marijuana provisioning shops in Ann Arbor remaining only as medical, choosing not to get an adult-use license. The buds were generally small, but not overly trimmed and it was not dried out like much of the flower I’ve purchased in Ann Arbor.

Orange Skunk – Appearance

Orange Skunk Cultivar Review

Photo Credit: Steve Haskin

For our orange skunk cultivar review we found the buds small with a lot of frost (trichomes) all over the flowers including the little bits of stem. And there were lots of orange stigmas to see. It wasn’t overly trimmed, but I still would have liked to see more leaf. That’s me though.

Appearance Score: 18/20

Orange Skunk  – Aroma

Wow! If this was a wine, I’d call it a fruit bomb. In the wine world, a fruit bomb is a wine that has a massive aroma and taste, sometimes very simple taste. The aroma was not simple. It started with a massive aroma of fresh orange-like fruit. I could not detect any pinene or other terpenes that are normal in this kind of sativa bud. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself. The bud had very prominent fruity aromas. I don’t believe I’ve ever smelled as fruity and luscious aroma as this. I do, however, wish I knew who the grower was. This one certainly was exceptional in the aroma.

Aroma Score: 19/20

Orange Skunk – Taste

The aromas came right through the taste. Perhaps the cure wasn’t long enough or it was too dry, but it was a bit harsh on the first toke. There was some coughing, but not a lot and it got mellower as it smoked down in the bowl. The taste went all the way through the process and you could still taste the delicious fruitiness in the exhalation and the fruity taste lingered for a while. In wine, this would be the finish and Orange Skunk had a pretty good finish. A few points lost for the harshness.

Taste Score: 17/20

Orange Skunk – Effect

The Orange Skunk cultivar is called sativa by the dispensary. While I don’t believe in sativa or indica as terms, the bud did have more of what I would call a ‘sativa’ effect. It was very uplifting. The mind effect had several nuanced layers in it. They were distinct from one another but worked together as a whole. Very uplifting and somewhat euphoric. And funny. Many things seemed humorous. There wasn’t much body effect until about 2 1/2 hours after smoking. Then it was just relaxing and maybe a bit sleepy. It was very easy and relaxing to laugh while under the influence.

The effect started about 3 or 4 minutes after we had our first toke. First, my mind felt relaxed and happy. Then my mind seemed to sharpen and the events of the day seemed humorous. It was a fairly focused effect and I liked it a lot.

Effect Score: 18/20

Orange Skunk Strain Review Summary

I was impressed with Orange Skunk. It was excellent, and probably one I’ll purchase again, especially if I knew who the grower was. The dispensary did allow me to pick out the buds.

My only objection to this strain has nothing to do with the grower, but the package it was delivered in. This shop let me select the buds, but then put them in a plastic bag that they then stuffed into a ‘pharmacy’ container like a lot of dispensaries use. The advantage of a ‘pharmacy’ container is the flower doesn’t get crushed. I like to crush (or grind) my flowers when I use them, not in the package thank you. Please dispensaries, if you’re listening, stop using plastic bags. And especially stop using plastic bags and then stuffing them into a container. I had never seen that before in Ann Arbor, MI.

Orange Skunk created a memorable effect. If you like a brain buzz, you’ll really enjoy this strain. If you want a strain that enhances creativity and gives lots of energy, Orange Skunk is that strain. A light session of 1 or 2 puffs will get your brain going for a few hours, but won’t give you that burst of creativity you might want.

Orange Skunk Strain Review Total Score: 92

Acapulco Gold Cultivar Review (Sativa)

Acapulco Gold Cultivar Review (Sativa)

Acapulco Gold Cultivar Review: Total Score: 94

I’m just back in Taos from a short trip to Telluride. If you’ve never been there, go if you can. It’s set in a stunning narrow valley surrounded by 14s (14,000-foot mountains). Telluride a marvelous place to chill for working and hiking. For a town this size, there are a lot of dispensaries. Some are chains while others are locally owned and operated. I like locally-owned dispensaries best and visited a few. This Acapulco Gold cultivar review is the first of several reviews from this trip to Telluride.

Acapulco Gold!

Photo Steve Haskin

One of the dispensaries I visited was The Green Room. It was my second visit and both times I was warmly greeted. This time they showed me some new strains. One was labeled “Landrace” Acapulco Gold. I remember Acapulco Gold from the 70s. It was always hard to find, but as I recall, the rewards were well worth the search. Is this really Acapulco Gold? Would it be as good as I remember? Check out this Acapulco Gold cultivar review for the answer.

What is Acapulco Gold Cannabis?

Acapulco Gold is a legendary landrace strain since the 1960s. Nowadays it’s almost impossible to find. This cultivar has the reputed effect of great happiness and energy. It’s an original Sativa. The effect is purported to be uplifting and intensely mind-bending. Let’s see if the new product lives up to its legend.

Acapulco Gold: Appearance

Nice bud of Acapulco Gold Photo: Steve Haskin

I bought an eighth. Included in the 8th was a huge bud (seen here) and several smaller buds. They were fairly loose-knit and not overly compact. That tells me there were no Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) used in the fertilizer or anywhere else during the growing process. The buds weren’t gold, but rather more celadon green with some, but not an overabundance of pale orange pistils. This is good, as pistils do nothing for the buzz (contrary to some opinions) and while they look pretty, an overabundance of them is one sure sign that PGRs were used in the growing operation. There were seed-like pods, but no seeds. I really liked the completely natural look of this Acapulco Gold cannabis. Some might not like it, but beauty is in the eye.

Appearance Score 17/20

Acapulco Gold: Aroma

The aroma was a blast of something from the past. I’ve been learning to identify the kinds of terpenes in the blend of a particular cultivar and this one was loaded with myrcene. It was earthy, musky and a slight fruity note not unlike grapes. There was a hint of pine and a citrusy scent. It was all put together well and had a very harmonious aroma. The aroma as it also brought back memories of the 70s. There’s not enough I can say about that. It smelled heavenly.

Aroma Score 19/20

Acapulco Gold: Taste

This Acapulco Gold was really well cured with a smooth, rich and mellow taste – a very good taste. The aromas followed directly into the taste. Not all that common these days. It’s all good. This bud tasted a lot like the musky terpene (myrcene) along with undertones of orange and perhaps a bit of pine. I really liked the way my bowl smoked. And I wanted to smoke it all up, so I did.

Taste Score 18/20

Acapulco Gold: Effect

Very focused. Cerebral. Uplifting and euphoric. What more is there to say? Acapulco Gold has a terrific effect. After the first puff, I knew something special was going within 3-4 minutes. After that, I kept getting happier, and happier, and happier. The overall effect kept getting better and better. My thinking became more focused at the same time as the euphoria stepped up its game. While it might not be the most potent cannabis I’ve ever consumed, it has a terrific buzz. I wish I had bought a quarter or a half after my taste and effect test!

Effect Sore 20/20

Acapulco Gold Cultivar Review: Summary

Holy smoke. This is the most highly rated strain review we’ve done. Some people might not like this strain because the THC is only listed at 16.8%, which is plenty for me. Landrace (original) strains are difficult to find in the marketplace because of all the hybridization cultivators are doing these days. But when you can find a landrace like Acapulco Gold or Panama Red or Thai, grab it as fast as you can because if you don’t, it’ll be gone. This example of Acapulco Gold was close to stellar and the score shows it. Terrific strain and I’d bet you could find it in a bunch of dispensaries in Colorado. Now I need to find someone who’s growing it in Michigan!

Acapulco Gold Strain Review Overall Score: 94

Jewish Ritual & Cannabis: What Went on 2500 Years Ago?

Jewish Ritual & Cannabis: What Went on 2500 Years Ago?

A recent discovery at an ancient Jewish temple showed early Jewish culture used cannabis in their religious practice.

An ancient temple with two altars was discovered at what is now called the Judahite Fortress at Tel Arad in the Negev desert. Inside the fortress, archeologists found a structure that was used for religious practices. There were 2 altars in the temple. Discovered in the 1960s, Tel Arad the archeologists noted at the time both altars had residue on them. The residue wasn’t analyzed at the time of discovery because instruments were not sensitive enough. Now we have mass spectrometers to identify the residue compounds. These new devices allowed archeologists to determine the residue on the altars included THC.

New Finding from an Old Dig

Saying there’s cannabis residue on a “Jewish” altar from 2500 years ago might sound cool, but that statement misses something important. The Jewish rituals of 2500 years ago were certainly different from today’s practice of Judaism. We don’t know what those practices exactly were, but we do know they were different from today’s, except for one thing; monotheism. The Jewish religion differed from most other religions in a belief in one god. Not one major god with other minor gods, but one god. Only one.

Was Cannabis Really Used to Get High During Rituals?

We don’t really know whether the attendees at the rites in this temple or generally in Jewish practice of the time got high. Judaic practice 2500 years ago has little to do with Judaic practice today. The Torah, the central book in the practice of Judaism was written about 3300 years ago, probably was part of the ritual somehow. It was handed down to Moses, supposedly at Mount Sinai. It was probably written while the Jewish people were in exile in Babylonia, about 3800 years ago. That would make authorship of the first five books of the bible in around 1300 BCE. Cannabis is mentioned in the bible as well. So we truly don’t know if the plant was used to get high during the rituals of the time.

Surprisingly, the modern Hebrew word for cannabis is pronounced ca-na-bos and that comes from an even older word, KaNeH BoSeM, which means fragrant reed. It’s mentioned in Exodus it’s mentioned as an ingredient in an anointing oil where the ingredients are spelled out. From this, we can gather that cannabis was a salve used by the ancient Jews.

Is Cannabis Kosher?

Through all of this you might wonder, is cannabis kosher? It’s a plant, so yes it is. Kosher food can be a little intimidating to folks. But it’s actually quite simple at the basic level. There are three classes of food in kosher cooking; meat, dairy and pareve. Meat and dairy are never mixed together. All plants fall into a category of pareve foods. So do eggs and fish. Pareve can be mixed with meat or dairy. So yes, cannabis is kosher. It’s a plant. To my way of thinking, in order for plants to be kosher, they should be organic and they should be non-GMO. And if you need an official blessing to know that cannabis is really kosher, here’s a short video of the chief rabbi in Israel blessing a marijuana plant for Passover, so not only is cannabis kosher it’s also kosher for Passover! Amazing.

Some organizations like Chabad have an official position that cannabis is not good for you. Their views go back to the 1970s and are outdated and misinformed. The views in our society have changed considerably, both socially and scientifically, since the 1970s, so I’d take the view with a grain of salt. Not to say it’s 100% uninformed, as their views on the ‘kosher-ness’ of cannabis have a great deal of validity.

Kosher Complexities

It does get complicated though. If you smoke your marijuana, there is no kosher about it. Kosher is about the foods you consume. Smoking, while consuming, doesn’t go into your stomach and that’s what Kosher is about. But if you take cannabis for medical reasons, and we all have ‘medical’ reasons for consuming cannabis, and it’s in pill form, then you should be concerned about how the cannabis is packaged. If it’s packaged with pork products or shellfish products, then it can’t be Kosher. But if you’re taking the pill for a true medical condition, then you can get a pass on the Kosher-ness of the pill. Like most Jewish law, it’s complicated.

While we don’t know exactly what the fragrant reed was used for back in those days of antiquity, I’m going to make a WAG (wild ass guess) that if it was known, some people used it to get high. This is pure conjecture, but give me a break. If you have a plant and you know it does something good to you, some people are going to avail themselves to the use of the plant.

Are You a Canniseur of Cannabis?

Are You a Canniseur of Cannabis?

What Does it Mean to be a Canniseur of Cannabis?

Is it the same as being a wine connoisseur?

During the 25 or so years I worked in the wine business, I discovered a lot of people like wine but about 90% weren’t particular about what they drank. They were, however, extremely sensitive about the price. It had to taste good enough. If a $5 bottle tasted like $5, that was OK. If that same $5 bottle tasted like $7 or $8, they were consumers for life. Why should cannabis and the people who consume cannabis be any different?

The Canniseur of Cannabis

As with wine, about 90% of cannabis consumers aren’t fussy about the quality of their weed, but they are particular about the cost. If it gets them high and it’s cheap, they’re happy. Personally, both taste and quality of both my wine and my weed are where it’s at. Selling a bottle of wine for $6 isn’t hard. It’s the same for cannabis flower. At $6 per gram, it’ll fly out the door. I’ve watched many people walk into a dispensary and ask which strain is the cheapest, or which strain has the highest THC content.

I didn’t understand this in the beginning. After spending enough time in dispensaries, I began to understand the analog between wine and cannabis consumers is real. Asking how much THC is in the flower is like going into a wine shop or liquor store and asking for the Chardonnay with the highest alcohol content. Overly alcoholic wine, and I’m not talking about Port that has 20% alcohol content but a table wine, with that much alcohol tastes terrible. For me, 30% THC flower is overpowering. But many people want exactly that.

What I Look for in a Wine

Wine is a love of mine and no two wines taste alike. What I’m looking for when I drink wine can be described in four words; Color, aroma, taste and finish.

Color / appearance; Is the wine completely clear? If it’s a red wine, what color red is it? Deep and dark or light and clear? For a white wine, is it golden, clear or straw-colored?

Aroma (or nose in the wine biz) is how the wine smells. Does the aroma only have one or two discrete smells? That’s a simple wine which is not bad in and of itself. Is it complex (as good and great wines are)? Are there a lot of aromas in the wine you can pick out clearly?

Taste in your wine should be well defined. Are there just a few flavors or a lot of flavors (complexity)?

Finish or aftertaste. How long do you taste the wine after you’ve swallowed your sip (or gulp!). In most wines, there is no lingering finish. Some wines have an aftertaste that goes on and on and on and that’s one of the definitions of great wine.

I have tasting notes for about 5,000 wines and have tasted several times that without taking notes and can unequivocally state that I’ve had only five or ten truly great wines in my life. Really. They’re that rare and they’re that memorable. I’ve had hundreds of incredibly good wines in my life, but they weren’t like that handful at the top. I can say the same for great cannabis.

What I Look for in Cannabis

I like the effect of cannabis more than I like the effect of alcohol. Like wine, cannabis quality consists of four areas; appearance, aroma, taste, and the finish (the effect). The first three can be evaluated pretty much the same as wine, but the last (the effect) is more difficult to describe and is developing a language of its own.

Cannabis Attributes

Appearance

Look at the bud and ask; Is it pretty? Is it well trimmed or is it over trimmed? Does it appear tight and compact or is it loose? Too tight and it might have been grown with Plant Growth Regulators (PRGs, which are bad) Is it dry and crumbly (bad) or is it pliant and has some moisture left in the buds. What are the colors in the flower? Are there some bright orange pistils or is it covered with them (a sign of possible PGR use) or is it tight or loose?

Aroma

Does the cannabis cultivar have a bright fresh aroma? What does it smell like? Fruit, muskiness, lemony or whatever? The aroma, which should be readily distinguishable in cannabis should be different from cultivar to cultivar and in great cannabis has a lot of different elements. I love the differences in terpenes from strain to strain. Just like a great wine, some cannabis flowers have wonderful aromas that are very distinguishable, but most cannabis strains, while being pleasant to smell, aren’t that complex.

Taste

Does it taste like it smells? In the cannabis world I inhabit, the taste is as important as the smell. If it smells lemony, is there a lemony taste? Is it harsh or is it smooth? Here is where you’ll taste how well it’s been cured. Well-cured cannabis is smooth while poorly cured cannabis flower is harsh and will probably make you cough.

Effect

Then there’s the effect. Some flower gives me a buzz that, for lack of a better word, is generic. “Yep, it’s a buzz alright, but it’s not a distinguishable buzz.” It’s either a bit energizing or a bit sleepy and then it just locks me to the couch after about an hour. The cannabis effect that I look for has a super energizing feel with a mental feeling of openness. It’s what I like. You may like something different. It’s all good.

What is a Canniseur?

Being a cannabis canniseur doesn’t mean you’re a cannabis snob, although it does mean you’re aware of all the things about cannabis that matter (see above). Like wine, I’ve only had what I consider great bud four or five times. I’ve had some really good weed and I’ve had a lot of mediocre weed. When weed was illegal everywhere, I didn’t have much choice. But now, as the legal cannabis world opens up, I find myself looking for that holy grail of great weed in a dispensary. I’ve found some pretty good strains legally and I’ve found some dispensary weed to be almost great. At dispensaries I’ve never found any awesome weed. This may be the difference between black market and dispensary cannabis, not that black market cannabis has given me anything truly great in a while.

A canniseur takes care of their flowers. I store mine in the jars with a 62% Boveda humidifier packet. This keeps the buds fresh. I also like to have a little bit of a lot of strains around. So I’ll buy a gram, or an eighth if I really like a strain. And then I’ll want more, which is a different story.

There is an answer to the low-quality weed found in most dispensaries. Growers supplying dispensaries need to step up their game. Too many people just accept what they get, especially if it’s cheap. There will always be that 10% or so of cannabis consumers who do care about the quality. They won’t win the day and the cannabis they buy won’t be exceptional. Maybe if we pay $40 or $50 per gram for flower that approaches greatness and $75 per gram for truly great weed cost, that’s OK. But only if it’s truly great!

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