Let’s talk about our beloved Blue Dream for a quick second. On paper, Blue Dream is the single-most searched cannabis strain in all of the lands. It currently has over 12,000 reviews on Leafly, most of them “Exceptional,” resulting in a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.
And yet, if you say Blue Dream is your favorite cannabis strain, the true stoner bois of the cannabis community look at you like you’re some kind of poser n00b. As if your lungs haven’t put in the time to justify such an opinion.
Enough is enough.
No more will we let people disrespect us for loving something that is great, something that has such an influence on cannabis culture, something that is arguably the best strain in all of the game.
It is completely OK that Blue Dream is your favorite strain, and if you run into someone that disagrees, this is what you tell the canna-snob that takes themselves so seriously they can’t enjoy that beautiful green-budded, orange-haired cross of Blueberry and Haze.
It Feels Fucking Great
For one, Blue Dream tastes and makes you feel fucking amazing. That sweet, sweet blueberry flavor with an almost citrus kickback delivers on the euphoric feeling that people associate most with being high.
True to its namesake, this strain really does feel like you’re getting lost in the happiest daydream possible. You get a full body relaxation and creative stimulation, and overall, your mind, body, and soul feel stupendous. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s not okay to feel stupendous.
The Availability Is Unmatched
Second of all, you can literally get Blue Dream at any time, in any place, so your favorite cannabis strain doesn’t have to be a local. Some cannabis consumers like to hop around and try every flavor or new batch of genetics, some like to find one favorite strain and smoke that endlessly.
Wiz Khalifa and Khalifa Kush–the only strain he smokes–is a perfect example of this. If that’s the case, wouldn’t you want to be able to get your needs wherever you go? Uh-huh.
It’s Perfect for Any Time of Day
You can smoke it any time of day and it’ll pair with whatever activity you want. Daytime? Fuck it. Roll up some Bluey, and then bam–15 minutes later you’re ready to run up a mountain barefoot. Nighttime? Roll up some Bluey and 15 minutes later you’re in a shark kigurumi watching the series finale of Euphoria. Straight cozy mode activated.
No matter when, that perfect balance of up and down effects produced by those sweet and sticky buds is the perfect treat.
Jhene Aiko Made A Whole Song About It
Lastly, and probably most importantly: JHENE AIKO MADE A WHOLE SONG ABOUT IT. And it’s a bop! Do you know how inspired by something you have to be to write a song about it? Bruh. Blue Dream had her feeling so good that she took time out of her busy schedule to write:
Don’t wake me up ’cause I’m in love with all that you are You make me see the truth in things, I think that you are The remedy for everything it seems that you are The truth itself because nothing else can take me so far
Now go type “Granddaddy Purple” into Spotify and tell me what you find. Exactly. Nada damn thing.
So the next time someone gives you grief about Blue Dream being your favorite strain, just look them right in the face and say: Stop that.
DENVER (AP) — Some teenagers in Colorado, where cannabis is legal for adults, are shifting away from smoking in favor of edible cannabis products, a medical study released Monday shows.
About 78% of the Colorado high school students who reported consuming marijuana in 2017 said they usually smoked it, down from 87% two years earlier. The number of teens who usually consumed edibles climbed to about 10% from 2% in the same period, while the number of users dabbing increased to about 7.5% from 4%.
“We haven’t seen an increase in use among youth but we are seeing a difference in how young people are consuming.”
Kayla Tormohlen, PhD candidate, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Research about the way young people consume marijuana products is still limited, and the study’s lead author said Colorado’s survey data could provide valuable insight for public health researchers and regulators.
“Since the implementation of retail marijuana sales, we haven’t seen an increase in use among youth but we are seeing a difference in how young people are consuming,” said Kayla Tormohlen, a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Understanding that can help to inform public health efforts.”
The study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics is based on high schoolers’ responses to Colorado’s biennial health survey in 2015 and 2017.
At least three other states that permit adult marijuana use — Alaska, Oregon and Washington — also include questions about how teens consume marijuana on state health surveys.
In Colorado and other states, edibles are tightly regulated including limits on the amount of THC, the compound in marijuana that creates users’ high feeling. In each marked dose, dispensary employees warn that customers should wait several hours to feel the effects of one portion before eating more. Information about the health effects of dabbing — heating or vaporizing an oil or wax with a high THC level and inhaling the vapors — is limited.
“These modes are important to monitor because of their unique psychoactive associations, and potential harms, including unintentional overconsumption with edibles and an increased physiological tolerance and withdrawal associated with the high tetrahydrocannabinol levels of cannabis concentrates used for dabbing,” the researchers wrote.
State and federal surveys have found teen use of marijuana remained relatively stable since Colorado began allowing adults to buy and use marijuana in 2014. In 2017, 1 in 5 Colorado students said they had recently consumed marijuana in any form — about the national average, said Jessica Neuwirth, the Colorado Department of Public Health’s retail marijuana education and youth prevention coordinator.
She said state public health researchers are always reevaluating the survey’s questions and teens’ responses, with input from other states’ agencies doing the same work.
“We are in certain ways leading the country in trying to figure out what are the right questions to ask and how do you ask those questions,” Neuwirth said.
Sales data has consistently showed adults consumers’ are trending toward non-smoking products, said David Abernathy, vice president of data and government affairs for The ArcView Group.
The company’s latest analysis of marijuana product sales shows traditional flower for smoking still makes up the majority of legal sales but vape cartridges and edible products continue to gain in popularity. Abernathy said he’s not surprised by the study’s results showing the illegal market for marijuana following that trend.
“We’ve seen that in states with a more competitive legal market, the illicit market has shrunk substantially,” he said. “And that’s the biggest thing we can do to keep cannabis out of the hands of teenagers.”
In Colorado, customers must be 21 to enter dispensaries and make purchases. Only 3% of teens who reported using marijuana in 2017 said they bought products from a dispensary.
Nearly 40% reported buying it from someone else. Others said they received marijuana from friends younger and older than 21 or from parents or adult family members.
In 1997, Will Foster, then 38, was sentenced to 93 years in an Oklahoma state prison for growing a small cannabis garden in a locked bomb shelter under his home in Tulsa. Foster, a U.S. military veteran with no prior criminal record, wasn’t dealing weed – he had been cultivating cannabis to treat his psoriatic arthritis, a painful, degenerative disease. The Court subsequently reduced Foster’s sentence to 20 years, and he was eventually paroled after waging a lengthy battle against a draconian legal system.
Today, Foster is back in Tulsa, a free man, operating a licensed medical marijuana business. This unexpected turn of events is emblematic of the transformation that is taking place in Oklahoma, which legalized cannabis for therapeutic use in 2018, despite opposition from the Okie political establishment.
Oklahoma, surprisingly, is now the fastest growing medical cannabis market in America. Just one year after the passage of State Question 788 (S.Q. 788) there are already 154,890 approved patients and caregivers, according to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), and business licenses have been issued to over 3,559 growers, just over 940 processors, and 1,673 dispensaries, although it is unclear just how many cannabis storefronts and delivery services have actually opened thus far. But it’s safe to say that total number of dispensaries in the Sooner State easily exceeds the number of licensed cannabis dispensaries that are up and running in much larger and more populated states like Ohio, Florida, and California.
Officially the 30th state to pass a medical cannabis law, Oklahoma is unique in the regulated national landscape. Barriers to entry for both patients and business are lower than any other state. There are no set qualifying conditions to become a patient, but rather it is left to the discretion of the recommending doctor. All patients can grow six mature plants at home. There are no license caps and each business license application costs just $2,500.
Red state reefer
Oklahoma’s cannabis industry has expanded rapidly since the first sales began in early December 2018. Although much of the early product that moved through the stores may have been brought in illegally from other states, local producers are starting to roll out locally produced products and brands.
In March 2019, what is being called “The Unity Bill” (H.B. 2612) easily passed through the state legislature and into law with bipartisan support and input from cannabis advocates as well as from other groups the legislature considers to be stakeholders: law enforcement, banks, chambers of commerce, and relevant government agencies.
When new regulations under H.B. 2612 come into effect in August, all product will be subject to seed-to-sale tracking, childproof packaging and lab testing and labeling requirements. Certain protections are added for legal medical cannabis patients, who are benefiting from a wide range of available product options. The restrictions on public consumption of vaporized or smoked cannabis are exactly in line with restrictions around public tobacco smoking.
Compared to markets in larger states and those where recreational cannabis is legal, Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market is somewhat of an anomaly. It has generated a lot of pride on the ground among local advocates. Not only have they achieved what was once considered unachievable in Oklahoma, they have staunchly defended the right to local ownership and opportunity, while out-of-state vulture capitalists invade larger markets.
The quick roll-out of the medical marijuana program in Oklahoma has ensured that the state’s small businesses will have a chance to gain traction and survive until federal law changes and a national market opens. Thus far, the home-grown cannabis market has proven more lucrative for Oklahoma in comparison to other state level programs, which are typically more expensive, more restrictive, and more favorable to cartel-like production and distribution schemes. According to the Associated Press, retailers in Oklahoma sold $23 million worth of cannabis in May 2019 alone and the seven percent cannabis tax and associated sales taxes have netted over $10 million since legal commerce began in December – and it is just getting started.
A fair chance to compete
Isaac Caviness and Joshua Lewelling of Okie Express Transport & Sales were busy for years working to legalize medical cannabis in Oklahoma, and now they are even busier delivering it to retailers. They spend long days on the road transporting product to dispensaries in Tulsa and the eastern part of the state. While the state’s two major metropolitan regions, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, have hundreds of dispensaries (with more opening every day), even small rural towns are getting in on the action.
Caviness and Lewelling can’t keep up with demand. At each dispensary product flies off the shelves, and they always hear the same question from store owners, “How much can we buy from you today?” Caviness and Lewelling explain that they would sell out of product at a single dispensary if they didn’t plan to spread it out.
Business is good now, but Lewelling and Caviness know there will be a reckoning in the market at some point. As more producers come online, a larger volume of higher quality locally grown and manufactured product will hit the shelves, new regulations will be enforced, and some businesses won’t be able survive. While the reckoning is predictable, every cannabis advocate in Oklahoma feels that the people who worked to pass the law should get a fair chance to compete, even if they fail.
Before the passage of S.Q. 788, Caviness operated Hemp RX, a “CBD dispensary” that sold a variety of cannabis products low enough in THC to legally be considered hemp. A sizable hemp-CBD retail market sprang up in in Oklahoma in response to the passage of Katie’s Law in 2015, which legalized the use of CBD oil for epileptic children but created no regulatory framework for production and distribution. Many CBD businesses have since converted into licensed full-service cannabis dispensaries, but some still continue to operate outside the medical cannabis framework, choosing instead to focus on selling CBD products primarily to pediatric and geriatric demographics.
Beyond CBD only
“CBD-only” was not good enough for Cavinenss and Lewelling, who converted Hemp Rx into an around-the-clock voter registration and signature-drive headquarters in an effort to legalize medical cannabis, not just a single component of the plant. They co-founded the organization Green the Vote, which organized advocates around the state and coordinated voter and signature drives in support of State Question 788. Sponsored by Oklahomans for Health, the medical cannabis ballot measure was ignored by national organizations like Marijuana Policy Project, which dismissed the effort as pointless in conservative Oklahoma.
“We had no national support,” Caviness said. “We made triangle boards with the pictures of sick kids and families who had to leave for Colorado [to access cannabis]. We stood in front of gas stations and we talked to people about why.”
A map of Oklahoma lays underneath a glass bowl packed with cannabis. A cannabis bud sits next to the pipe.
The entire process was a grassroots effort. Over the course of five years and four petition drives, a politically bipartisan and dedicated network of activists emerged. With the help of social media, they expanded their networks throughout the state. “We registered tens of thousands of people to vote,” Caviness said.
On the fifth try, they qualified S.Q. 788 for the 2016 general election ballot. But then-state Attorney General Scott Pruitt (later a disgraced Trump cabinet appointee) effectively prevented the vote by creating delays and inaccurately re-writing the ballot initiative title to make it seem as if the measure would legalize “recreational” use. Oklahomans for Health sued and prevailed in the state Supreme Court on March 27, 2017.
Gov. Mary Fallin scheduled S.Q. 788 for a vote on June 26, 2018. According to Chip Paul, co-author of the law and co-founder of Oklahomans for Health, medical cannabis advocates were outspent 12-to-1 by opponents yet still won with 57% of the vote in a state-record high voter turnout. Paul says the idea behind much of the design of the cannabis market under S.Q. 788 came from watching what he and others felt to be the fatal flaws in medical legislation enacted in other states.
Thus far, the program has survived legislative attacks at all levels of the state government. In July 2018, for example, Oklahoma’s Department of Health (DOH) proposed onerous regulations that would remove access to flower, require pregnancy tests for women of child-bearing age, and impose business license caps. But Attorney General Mike Hunter warned that the DOH did not have the authority to regulate medical cannabis in a way that’s inconsistent with the statute as written. By early August the DOH reneged and began implementing temporary regulations and issuing licenses and patient cards as compelled by the language of the citizen initiative.
Many medical cannabis entrepreneurs and patients in Oklahoma are veterans – of both foreign wars and the ongoing war on drugs. “People have made real sacrifices. This is an industry that people have gone to prison for to get here,” said Isaac Caviness. Today his company, Okie Express Transport & Sales, is the exclusive distributor for Herblix, a newly licensed cannabis cultivation business run by Will Foster, the erstwhile poster boy for drug war depravity.
Foster’s shocking 93-year sentence for a growing a small medical cannabis garden epitomized the mid-1990s wave of “tough on crime” laws, which involved life sentences for non-violent drug offences, law enforcement hoarding of civil asset forfeiture spoils, and a close relationship between the Sooner State and America’s largest private prison corporations. As a result, Oklahoma currently has the highest rate of incarceration in the nation and the world.
Oklahoma activists, buoyed by the successful grassroots campaign to legalize medical cannabis, are pushing for major changes in the Sooner state’s grotesque criminal justice system. A package of criminal justice reform legislation was introduced earlier this year, but only one piece of legislation passed. Advocates vow to take it up again next year.
Angela Bacca is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance journalist with a MBA and 10 years experience in cannabis media. She specializes in coverage of cannabis in conservative states, science, medicine, politics, business, culture and media.
Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.
More Instagram accounts than ever are dedicated to celebrating women and femmes who dig cannabis. If you want to fill your newsfeed with pro-feminist and pro-cannabis content, all of the accounts below are for you.
Take a look at these women-run, cannabis-centric Instagram accounts below. While some of them are more lighthearted than others, all of them boast stellar content and pride themselves on unapologetically honoring and supporting women and femmes who choose to consume cannabis–for whatever reason.
Based in Arizona and created and run by Laura Armenta, @chronicsadgirlsclub is devoted to “helping femmes navigate the intersection where cannabis, mental health, chronic illness, and self-care meet.”
This account abounds with gorgeous posts and images that gently inspire and affirm cannabis-consuming women and femmes who deal with all sorts of chronic and mental illnesses, from depression to anxiety to chronic pain.
Recently, Chronic Sad Girls Club partnered with @totem.yoga and @flow.ganjamama to create Ganja Flow, a safe space where women and femmes can “practice yoga, heal, and medicate without stigma or judgement.” So if you live in Arizona and have a valid AZ MMJ card, follow @chronicsadgirlsclub to be the first to know when the next event is happening.
Based in Long Beach, California and created and run by Ashley Manta–a former Leafly contributor, sex and cannabis coach, and multiple sexual assault survivor–@cannasexual is dedicated to helping people mindfully combine sex and cannabis in safe, consensual, and healthy ways.
Whether you’re curious about cannabis-infused lubes, decreasing pain during penetrative sex with cannabis suppositories, or consuming cannabis to help you heal from the trauma of sexual violence, the “High Priestess of Pleasure” has got you covered.
Founded by Jane West, Jazmin Hupp, and Julie Batkiewicz in 2014 in Denver, Colorado, Women Grow was created to “connect, educate, inspire, and empower the next generation of cannabis industry leaders by creating programs, community, and events for aspiring and current business executives.”
In the past five years, Women Grow has evolved into a for-profit powerhouse that exists to help women from all walks of life influence and succeed in the cannabis industry, and its Instagram account is regularly updated with a wide array of inspiring weed-related posts — from exceptional pieces of cannabis journalism to updates on Women Grow’s monthly local networking events and its annual leadership summit.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Dope Girls Zine is a feminist cannabis culture zine that was founded by Beca Grimm and Rachel Hortman back in 2016. When Grimm and Hortman, “noticed a lack of female representation in the 420-friendly community,” the pair decided to help change the face of cannabis consumption in the American South while also championing marginalized voices.
With both their zine and their Instagram account, Grimm and Hortman are succeeding in doing exactly what they set out to do, from calling out ICE for putting kids in cages to lifting up the LGBTQ community to unapologetically defending reproductive rights.
Grimm and Hortman typically publish two zines each year, and while they aren’t totally opposed to working with men, they pride themselves on prioritizing the work of women and non-binary contributors.
Created by Erin Willis–a mother, holistic nutritionist, cannabis wellness coach, and educator soon-to-be based in Colorado–Mother Indica first began three years ago as a blog centering around an anonymous mom experimenting with cannabis and holistic living to treat her postpartum depression. Since then, Mother Indica has become, “a community of proud, uncloseted cannabis consumers on a journey of self-realization and elevated self love in connection to cannabis and nutrition.”
The blog is frequently updated with content revolving around the wellness side of cannabis, motherhood, and destigmatizing the use of cannabis for everything from culinary and beauty recipes to daily medicine. Both the Mother Indica blog and its Instagram account act as a, “motherly guide and resource for cannabis and nutrition education, inspiration, and storytelling,” and @motherindica is regularly updated with gorgeous images, product recommendations, event invites, and inspirational posts.
From gorgeous images to informational posts to event invites to inspirational quotes taken directly from the book, @breakingthegrassceiling is worth a follow no matter your aspirations–but it’s particularly helpful if you’re hoping to break into the legal cannabis industry and start your own cannabis business.
High Girls Club is easily the most lighthearted Instagram account featured in this list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as important and delightful as all of the other women-run cannabis accounts we’ve mentioned.
Whether you’re looking for a daily dose of inspiring quotes from cannabis-loving celebrities (like Lady Gaga), beautiful illustrations of babes getting lifted, product recommendations, cute gifs, or just content that will make you giggle, you should probably follow @highgirlsclub STAT.
Survivors For Cannabis
As both a blog and a private Instagram account, Survivors For Cannabis serves as a safe space for survivors of all genders, sexualities, colors, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, ages, abilities, and experiences who choose cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Or, as the blog explains it: “Through collective research, learning and advocacy both online and with local chapters, SfC fights the many layers of stigma around cannabis, mental illness, sexual violence, and survival.”
Whether you’re a survivor of sexual violence or simply a curious ally, @survivorsforcannabis is a fantastic account to follow.
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s governor signed a bill Monday that softens penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis and allows for the expungement of some past convictions.
After Aug. 27 it’ll be a $50 ticket for under one ounce, or $200 for one to two ounces, statewide.
The legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes unlawful possession of cannabis a violation.
The penalty is $50 for possessing less than one ounce, or a maximum of $200 for one to two ounces.
The law also requires that records tied to low-level marijuana cases either be marked as expunged or destroyed. It takes effect 30 days after the governor signs the bill into law. August 27 will be the law’s effective date.
“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all,” Cuomo said in a statement.
No Stop-and-Frisk Relief
Advocates for cannabis legalization acknowledge the law is a step forward but also say it falls short of addressing a web of negative consequences that come with having cannabis as an illegal violation.
“Police have historically found a way to work around the decriminalization of marijuana,” said Erin George, of Citizen Action of New York.
People can still face probation violations and immigration consequences under the decriminalization bill, George said.
Melissa Moore, New York state deputy director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said the law will continue to allow authorities to target people of color and their communities for cannabis enforcement.
Expungements and Record Sealing
At least 24,400 people will no longer have a criminal record due to the bill, according to New York’s Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The law will prompt the sealing of more than 200,000 convictions for low-level marijuana offenses, according to the agency.
State lawmakers considered legalizing cannabis for adult use this year, but that legislation stalled after state leaders failed to reach an agreement on key details in the final days of the legislative session.
Cuomo and the top leaders in the Legislature are all Democrats.
A new report by Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and dozens of other publications, has found that cannabis use by new consumers correlates with a reduction in their use of painkillers and alcohol.
The study, conducted the company’s digital marketing arm, LOCALiQ, combined survey responses with mobile data to paint a picture of cannabis consumers in legal states. Researchers surveyed 8,805 cannabis consumers aged 21 to 64 across 21 states in which some form of cannabis is legal.
“Baby boomers that are not purchasing marijuana are 60% more likely than millennials to consider it.”
Among all surveyed consumers, 49% reported reducing their over-the-counter painkiller use since starting cannabis, and 52% reduced prescription drug use. Another 37% said they’ve reduced alcohol consumption since starting cannabis. And 60% said they consider a healthy lifestyle to be a priority.
The report splits subjects into two main categories: current consumers and so-called “acceptors,” or “those that would consider using cannabis but currently are not.” From there, the report profiles three groups of current consumers–affluent families with children, baby boomers, and frequent shoppers–and asks what it would take for the cannabis curious to actually consume.
Affluent families, which make more than $75,000 per year and account for 38.8 million US households, are “active cannabis buyers,” the report found. Their average spend on a visit to a retailer was $50, and their biggest factors in choosing a shop are the selection of products and strains (88%) followed by price and convenience (87%). Their top motivators for consuming cannabis included stress management (48%) and chronic or recurring pain (37%). And 71% say they value a retailer that grows and sells its own products.
Consumer behavior also depends on who in the family is doing the shopping. A majority of dads (55%) in the study, for example, shopped at an average of four or more dispensaries over the past three months. Moms on average shopped at only a one dispensary over the same period, “making them more loyal customers,” the report says.
“Despite high spending levels overall,” the report found, “Affluent Families are not loyal and are most easily swayed by a good selection of products/strains.”
Baby boomers are a sought-after demographic for many cannabis brands, and the report makes clear why: Of the groups surveyed, none spent more on cannabis per shop visit than boomers. More than a third (37%) spend upward of $75 per visit, while their average is on par with affluent families ($50). Not only that, but boomers also had the largest percentage of acceptors, or people who are open to consuming cannabis but currently are not. That could mean an additional spend of $1.1 million, the report found.
In fact, the report found that boomers were actually more cannabis curious than their millennial counterparts, noting that “Baby boomers that are not purchasing marijuana are 60% more likely than millennials to consider it.”
Why so much interest? “This group views cannabis as a solution to a myriad of day to day issues such as anxiety, aches and pains, sleep, digestion and more,” the report says. The top reasons given by boomers for consuming cannabis were chronic or persistent pain (62%) and temporary or minor pain (40%).
Boomers are also relatively loyal shoppers, although they tend to visit stores less frequently than other groups: Roughly two-thirds (65%) of boomers who consume cannabis visit a retail store on monthly basis. When they do stop by a shop, they’re looking for a good price (90%), friendly staff (89%), and a good selection of strains and products (88%).
The report’s third highlighted group, frequent cannabis shoppers, do exactly that: shop for cannabis frequently. Of those surveyed, 70% said they go to a cannabis shop three to four times per month, where they tend to drop an average of $50 or more per visit. Most are millennials and Gen Xers: 58% were between 21 and 34 years old, and 35% were 35 to 54. A majority (54%) said they use cannabis to help manage stress.
Frequent shoppers don’t just go to the store often–they’re also likely sign up for deals and promo alerts. Of those surveyed, 62% said they are notified of promotions through emails or text messages. And 58% belonged to some sort of rewards or points program.
What do these shoppers want? Competitive prices and a good selection of products are top-of-list, with 83% of those surveyed mentioning those traits. After that, they’re looking for friendly staff (80%) and recommendations for treating specific ailments (also 80%). But don’t expect frequent shoppers to stick to the same shop. The report notes that these buyers aren’t particularly loyal.
Acceptors are on the fence. They don’t currently consume cannabis, but they say they’ll consider it. In established legal states, the report found, roughly half of nonconsumers say fall into this category–and wooing them could mean big bucks for the industry. “Spanning many consumer types and ages including millennials, baby boomers, and affluent families with children, the acceptor segment has an estimated market potential of $2.1 billion, making it the largest potential combined growth segment,” the report found.
Acceptors are three times more likely to get information about cannabis from a news website than from their doctor.
Most of these folks are interested in cannabis as medicine. More than three-fourths (77%) said they would use cannabis to treat a medical condition, and 23% think medical cannabis could help with a current health issue and are interested in learning more. The biggest reasons they’d consider using cannabis include to treat chronic or recurring pain (63%), to help with anxiety or stress (46%), and to have a better quality of life (41%).
While acceptors are primarily interested in medical cannabis, the study found they’re three times more likely to get information about cannabis from a news website than from their doctor.
What’s in a Brand?
There’s still very little brand loyalty in the cannabis space, the report found, with 67% of cannabis consumers shopping at two or more dispensaries during the past three months and a quarter shopping at four or more.
So what drives consumer decisions to go with one shop over another? Of those surveyed, 80% said a retailer’s reputation is “extremely important” in their selection process.
“Like other more established market segments that lack brand loyalty,” the study found, “price, selection, and friendly staff topped the reason why shoppers selected a particular dispensary.” Those surveyed gave these five reasons, in order of importance:
In a first-of-its-kind hearing, a key congressional committee met Wednesday morning to discuss how to finally put an end to federal cannabis prohibition. Titled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform,” it was the latest indication of just how far Congress has come on cannabis reform after decades of intransigence.
Wednesday’s hearing highlighted competing visions of what reform should look like.
According to most polls, Americans now broadly support cannabis legalization, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in favor. That bipartisan agreement was on display Wednesday at a House Judiciary subcommittee meeting, where members of both parties expressed frustration at the current state of the country’s cannabis laws.
Ending prohibition, said US Rep. Tom McClintock, a California Republican, “may be one of the very few issues upon which bipartisan agreement can still be reached in this session.”
But while lawmakers seemed to agree on the need for reform, Wednesday’s hearing also highlighted tensions between competing visions of what reform should look like.
Race: A Persistent Sticking Point
The war on drugs has wreaked havoc on millions of Americans and their families, but no group has been more disproportionately impacted than people of color. Despite evidence that Americans consume cannabis at similar rates across racial lines, US Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) noted, black and brown people are roughly four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than their white peers. Those disparities are even higher in some parts of the country, including major cities such as New York and Baltimore.
“The foundations of our drug policy are inherently racist.”
Dr. G. Malik Burnett, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Even in states that have taken steps to legalize, racial disparities remain–both in terms of arrests and as measured by company ownership in the newly legal industry. In Florida, for example, which has a limited medical cannabis program, US Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell observed that most people in the legal industry are “white and wealthy” while people of color continue to be arrested. “We have a tale of two Americas,” she said.
To address these inequities, some lawmakers called for automatic vacation or expungement of past cannabis convictions. Others urged more direct action, such as funneling federal funds to help people of color find a foothold in the new industry.
That suggestion was too much for other lawmakers, such as McClintock, the California Republican. Though he agreed with the need for some form of federal cannabis reform, McClintock claimed Democrats were using the issue to inflame racial divisions. “I am disappointed that just as a strong bipartisan consensus is emerging on this issue,” he said, “the majority has chosen to play the race card.”
Other committee members pushed back by highlighting the drug war’s racist origins.
US Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), for one, noted that a chief architect of cannabis prohibition, Harry Anslinger, not only “made claims about cannabis that were incorrect” but “also targeted blacks and Latinos.”
“Would it be fair to say that the origins of marijuana prohibition are racially tinged, flawed?” Jeffries asked Dr. G Malik Burnett, a physician at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance.
“The foundations of our drug policy are inherently racist,” Burnett replied.
Rescheduling vs. Descheduling
In years past, cautious promoters of cannabis reform, such as former Sen. Hillary Clinton, said they would support removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act’s most restrictive category, Schedule I, and reschedule it amid a less-restrictive class of drugs. But both lawmakers and witnesses at Wednesday’s hearings said that removing cannabis from the CSA entirely would lead to better results for most Americans.
“The whole system to me seems irrational.”
US Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)
US Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), noted that cannabis is less dangerous than most Schedule II drugs, which include cocaine and fentanyl. But even moving cannabis to Schedule III would leave obstacles in place for businesses and consumers. Taxing cannabis and expanding research would be allowed under Schedule III, for example, but access to banking and other financial services would still be limited. Nor would a Schedule III classification allow consumption by consenting adults.
“The whole system to me seems irrational,” Lieu said. “I think marijuana should be taken completely off of the Controlled Substances Act.”
Removing cannabis from the CSA completely would also “lower the barrier to entry to the cannabis industry” and thus promote a more equitable industry, Burnett of Johns Hopkins said. Descheduling cannabis would allow cannabis entrepreneurs to access federal incentives for small businesses, including grants, loans, and other financial support. That would mean more equitable access to startup capital than is currently available through angel investors or venture capitalists “who themselves have a diversity problem,” Burnett said.
One of the speakers at Wednesday’s hearing was Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who in January announced that her office would no longer prosecute cannabis possession cases. She also filed a motion to erase nearly 4,000 cannabis convictions–a move the court has since denied. Mosby testified that decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis would allow the state to better treat problem drug use while at the same time freeing up law enforcement resources to target bigger public health threats.
“We’ve criminalized what should have been a public health issue this entire time,” she said. Since her office stopped prosecuting cannabis possession cases, Mosby told the panel, the clearance rate for Baltimore’s nonviolent shooting crimes has gone up. “What would my work look like if we were to focus on safety?” she said. “It would be great.”
Gateway Drug & Teen Use
Asked to speak to the notion that cannabis is a gateway drug, Dr. David Nathan, board president for Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, called the concern “one of the most thoroughly debunked issues in this debate.”
For one thing, many researchers now subscribe to the so-called common liability theory, which says that there are a common set of factors that tend to lead to all drug use, including poverty, absence of a parent from the home, bad schools, unsafe streets, genetic predispositions, and others. It seems drug use is determined less by what someone puts in their body than the environment that body is in.
Beyond that, Nathan added, “Although there is a correlation between cannabis use and the use of other drugs, there’s also a stronger correlation between alcohol and tobacco and the use of other drugs.” In other words, if we’re truly concerned about a gateway effect, alcohol and tobacco use are bigger concerns than cannabis.
There are a number of bills currently circulating in Congress that address cannabis legalization. The leading measure, the STATES Act, was mentioned favorably by a number of legislators and hearing witnesses. A few, though, objected to the lack of equity measures in the STATES Act–measures which are contained in a rival measure, the Marijuana Justice Act.
Wednesday’s hearing was not meant to consider any one specific bill, but rather to give legislators an overview of the racial justice issues at play.
“Everything in politics seems impossible until it happens,” said US Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA). “If 15 years ago I were to tell you, ‘In 15 years we would have gay marriage in 50 states and, in some of those states, we’d be smoking weed,’ you’d think I was crazy. But that is, in fact, what is happening now.”
“I appreciate the fight,” Lieu said. “Keep on fighting, and I believe we can get this done.”