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Envisioning A Cannabis Friendly Society

There is a shift occurring in the United States that could have vast implications for western society. The shift involves righting a wrong so obvious at young child could have come up with it. The U.S. is positioning itself to stop its ban of a natural plant. In so doing, the world will change for the better.

Are we being overdramatic? We don't believe so.

Over 7 million people have been arrested in the first decade of the new millenium for possessing cannabis (marijuana is generally considered a pejorative term; cannabis is the scientific name of the plant)1). That was a 10 year period. Marijuana has been illegal in the United States since the 30s. Just think of the tens of millions of people that have been incarcerated, fined, and harassed for using a plant.

Most of the people in jail for marijuana related crimes are there because they had a large amount of cannabis in their possession and/or they were provably distributing it for profit. In other words, people sold a plant that grew naturally, added no chemicals or addictive substances to it, in a business that created no waste save one plastic baggie, and we jailed them for it.

Research has shown that cannabis use is pretty even across the ethnic boundaries, with no racial group having a special affinity for the plant over another. 2) Despite this fact, law enforcement arrests black and latino males anywhere from 5 to 8 times more than white people 3).

The racism of marijuana laws has been around since it's inception, although we don't have the hard data to show for it until recent decades. While we don't have the numbers, we do have solid reason to believe the marijuana laws were racist. Maybe we don't know the ratio of use by race in the 30s and 40s, but we do know that Henry Anslinger, the US drug czar at the time, believed that black men smoked marijuana because it made them feel equal with white mean, and he was opposed to that 4). He said that in no uncertain terms to the U.S. congress. He also feared that jazz was the devil's music, inspired by black people inhaling marijuana.

This sort of racist argument was bought to some extent because they did outlaw it and today those laws are still affecting us. Marijuana was basically unheard of as a dangerous drug before the 1930s. The male cannabis plant, known as hemp, is a beautifully strong, fibrous plant used to make paper. That paper was more lasting than the wood pulp paper we create today. It's durability was no doubt essential in the creation of canvas pieces that were used as sails, ropes, and basic cloth material. The plant was also ground up and harvested for it's oil, which was known to have medicinal properties even before the science was there to prove it.

Thankfully, the American public has learned the racist history of cannabis prohibition and they are attempting to change the laws from the ground up.

5)

23 states and the nation's capital, Washington D.C. have made legal space for cannabis to be prescribed as medicine for a wide range of ailments, from cancer, seizures, spasms, asthma, headaches, nausea, loss of apetite, and general pain. Oregon and Washington are the first states to allow cannabis to be sold for recreational purposes. Portland, Maine is the first city to go ahead and pass legalization ahead of their state. You can possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in the city of Portland, which is a sizeable amount. The federal government could put you in jail for an amount that size, a size that used to come with the assumption that you were selling cannabis. Distribution was always penalized the worst, although as we can see, attitudes are changing.

Is society ready for a free and legal cannabis nationwide?

Picture The New World

Those who think America isn't ready for cannabis freedom haven't pictured what it would be like to have dispensaries and free flowing pot. Well, they have pictured their worst fears of what would happen; everyone would get hooked on pot, kids would drop out of school, crime would go up…except in the viewpoint of recently legalized states of Oregon and Washington, nothing of the sort has happened. That isn't visualizing the future, that is projecting your fear.

For those who are willing to give cannabis a chance, we need to imagine what a cannabis friendly society would look like.

Some will start with the image of “Coffee” shops like the ones found in classic Amsterdam stories from their friends. These are simple stores, like a coffe shop, where someone can go to have their substance of choice, smoke/eat and hang out, and then go on with their life. This is simple enough to envision. Hookah lounges already exist and some will undoubtedly sell cannabis as well as tobacco. But allow your vision to expand even more. Let's think of some scenarios that are going to occur and what we can do about them before they happen.

Cannabis Is (Too) Strong

THC is the main psychoactive component in cannabis that produces the classicly known 'high'. Initial strains of the drug had 1-5% THC content and whole host of cannabinoid compounds along side of it. Over time, breeders began to cross strains in the only way humans would think of; to produce stronger and stronger varieties of pot. In the 21st century, 'good' cannabis has anywhere from 10-25% THC, and sometimes the breeders are able to up the percentages of cannabinoids as well. The effects are more potent, that is not fundamentalist propaganda. What is propaganda is that this increase is not more harmful. No one has been known to die from toxic effects of cannabis. It is believed a handful of people have died because of medical conditions unrelated to their cannabis use (the Gemma Atkinson affair comes to mind) but NO ONE can die from an overdose of THC. Scientists and stoners agree that if you smoke too much weed, you will fall asleep. You might even wake up from that sleep really high, but you won't die.

Habitual users of cannabis today are fully aware of the increased potency and they adjust naturally. In the past, it was more common to have to smoke more than one joint or more than one bowl (a bowl is a pipe used to smoke cannabis) to get the high that you wanted. The every day pot smokers now simply smoke one joint or one bowl (or less) to get the high that they need. Some wax philosophical about how they believe there to be a perfect ratio of THC to cannabinoid content. Others just keeping smoking with no discernment for how the THC has changed.

But casual users certainly have noticed the difference. Many only need 1, 2, or 3 hits maximum before they are at a high that is comfortable for them. Most casual smokers are less excited about this THC boost and they wax poetical about how they used to like to smoke multiple times, but now they just can't.

This is the demographic we should think about today because if there are people who pick up smoking once it is legal, it is our duty as cannabis supporters to properly prepare our friends and family for their cannabis initiation. Casual smokers have little to no tolerance built up so the newcomers will be in a similar boat as them. They will experience high percentage THC cannabis as something really intense unless we do something for them.

What could we possibly do?

Puff and Hold!

Puff, puff, and pass is a phrase known within cannabis circles who smoke joints in a group. Someone would like the cannabis joint, smoke from it for two lung inhales, and pass it along. The concept comes from the idea that you don't need to be stingy when smoking. Some circles allow you to smoke as much as you need on your turn (provided that you are pitching in weed for the next joint, that is). This phrase is the phrase of the pass. We need awareness amongst our old school pot users to educate their new smoking buddies that Snoop Doggs weed from the 90s doesn't hold a candle to the product of today. Puff, puff, pass is the thing of the past. What if we created a new phrase?

Puff and Hold

Puff and See

Puff and Chill

Puff and Fly

One Puff is Enough

Whatever we come up with, we need to encourage SLOW introduction to cannabis. It is a fact that people can overdo their first cannabis experience. What frequent cannabis user hasn't brought his/her newbie friend to the smoking circle, only to have them smoke well beyond their capacity and pass out on the couch in ten minutes? No, you won't die, but it might be an intense experience. Like alochol, like psychedelic mushrooms, there is no coming down immediately once the high takes effect. You might experience your high for hours. This is why we advocate smoking literally one hit and waiting to see how it affects you. That way, if the affect is too much, you will have done the least amount necessary.

Which leads to the next point…

Smoke herbal blends

One way to mitigate the first timer's bad experience is to mix the cannabis with herbs. Fight as we may against the puff, puff, pass rule, culture is a bitch when it comes to changing. People have it there mind that they need to smoke a whole joint. It simply isn't cool to smoke one or two hits from a joint and put it out right away. Where is the fun in that?

When we take this into consideration, adding herbs to the joint will minimize the amount of cannabis smoked while maintaining the smoking experience. One could get very creative with what you add to a cannabis joint:

  • lavender
  • mugwort
  • mullein
  • raspberry leaf
  • mint

…to name a few.

i60.tinypic.com_102mlj9.jpg 6)

One could buy a 95/5 lavender/cannabis blend for simple, light highs, 90/10 for a little more, 80/20 for a little kick, 70/30, 60/40, 50/50, and so on, each potentially helping to titrate the dosage for different tasks. This is important to understand and we need to really consider what people will be doing when they smoke cannabis.

For starters, most people who buy cannabis for the first time in an legal environment will probably smoke at the safety and comfort of their own home. Many of those users will be parents of children. At first, people freak the fuck out when they think about parents smoking in front of their kids. Maybe they don't smoke in front of them, but rest assured, those who quit becuase they had kids and doing illegal stuff was frowned upon will go ahead and light a joint once the pressure is off, even if its in the back closet. Parents with little to no tolerance built up? They probably should smoke the 95/5 blend to get started, doncha think? Or what about the home builders and active folks? Think of the millions of people who used to smoke in the 70s and quit for the usual reasons. Once they jump back into smoking, they might be in for a surprise.

The addition of herbs should catch on from a business stand point as well. Think of the variety of home grown and local packaging that could exist for cannabis blends. You could have national companies producing blends, this is true, but the real variety would be seen in the farmers market where there is no limit to the combination of plants you could put together in a joint.

Businesses might also struggle to sell cannabis joints because they are so damn powerful. They have to sell them at $10-20 a joint to make the kind of profit that they want to. Instead, they should make blends. This will reduce the actual amount of cannabis in the joint and the bulk of the smoking material should come from an herb that goes well with cannabis. The great thing is that there is no worry about the companion herb to cannabis being “too expensive”. Cannabis sells for $200-400 and ounce, wherease something like mugwort or lavender sells for $3 an ounce, a 100 fold difference in price. This could make cannabis blend joints down near the $1 a joint range, something much more palatable for the antsy public.

Don't Eat Cannabis

People have an aversion to smoking, and with good reason; tobacco is a plague on modern health. It is the number one product that is sold for profit that does nothing but kill people. Cannabis is also smoked and it seems that people are conflating smoking anything with the risks of smoking tobacco. This is not scientifically true. They have not been able to prove that people who smoke cannabis long term are at risk for getting cancer, although a number of things up your chances (which will be discussed later).

The avoidance of smoking tobacco stops many people from smoking cannabis and they therefore attempt to eat cannabis. The truth of the matter is that eating cannabis is perfectly fine. Indeed, for those who are afraid of potentially deleterious lung affects, eating would be a wise choice. Except one thing; you cannot titrate your dose well at all.

Titrate is a chemistry term that refers to an ability to slowly and accurately measure something in the lab, usually in liquid form. A titration process is precise and involves watching a slow drip to get an exact amount. With cannabis, you can titrate your dose easier with smoking. Inhalation of THC provides rapid intake into the body, providing an affect within minutes. Thus, you can puff and wait a few minutes to see how the one inhale changes your conscious perception. This is not so with consuming cannabis like a food because the cannabis must be absorbed through the digestive system, which can take half an hour up two 2 hours long before any affects are noticed. This means you could eat 5x times the dose you intended to experience and not know it until it was too late, as Maureen Dowd famously did 7).

Eating will be something that you can incorporate into your cannabis practice once you are familiar with the high. We do not recommend beginners eating cannabis for this reason. In addition, the high tends to last 2-4 times as long, so if you don't like the high, it can last nearly all day if you took too much. That could make your experience that much worse.

How will we protect innocent first timers? By spreading the word. Don't be a brave, macho badass because you smoked pot before it was legal and you want to impress all of your first time friends by getting cannabis brownies. Be cool enough to explain to them that edible cannabis is harder to control the dose and potentially much more powerful.

Instead, offer them the healthy smoking alternative…

Vaporizers Are The New Zippo

Isn't it bizarre a lighter company could become so popular? Why would Zippo be known to most high schoolers? Lighters are used for two things by teenagers, for smoking stuff and for burning stuff, and some will argue that those are the same thing. Yet here is Zippo, burned into the minds of our youth. Who doesn't know what Zippo brand is these days?

This is what we need for vaporizers, a product image so glorious that everyone seems to know about it, even the non pyromaniacs and non smokers. Vaporizing cannabis is the healthiest form of consuming the plant, bar none. You maintain your ability to titrate the dose without the potentially (although not proven) harmful side effects of combusting plant material and paper (from the joint) into your lungs. Vaporizing heats the plant hot enough to remove the THC from cannabis and not burn the rest of the plant. You get the high without the burn.

Every coffee shop should ditch the ad campaigns for edibles and focus on vape specials. Everyone should have a vaporizer. As of now, vaporizers are expensive pieces of equipment. In a free and legal market, hand held vaporizers could be invented and sold for the price of a outdated video game. Users wouldn't have to mess with unnecessary paper products or learn how to roll a joint. If MTV can run an advertising campaign to shame celebrities from posting tobacco selfies, they should endorse the celebrities who ditch the smoking form of cannabis for the vaporizing form of cannabis. Indeed, should vaporizing become cheap and efficient enough to become the dominant method of consumption, cannabis could forever buck the notion that it is somehow harmful to the human body.

Envision a vaporizer in every home as the healthy choice for cannabis consumption. Trust me, someone will be daring enough to make vapeing the new healthy. We will be better off for it, too.

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