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Over the past several months, seven people have died and nearly 400 others have gotten sick after using vape pens containing either nicotine or THC, the chemical in cannabis that makes you high. It’s causing a nationwide moral panic: Michigan’s governor enacted regulations that could result in 17-year-olds being hit with six-month jail sentences for every Juul pod in their possession. President Donald Trump has called for a similar nationwide ban on all flavored e-cigarettes. The demand for cannabis vapes has exploded over the past few years, and the illicit market has kept up with the trend. Consumers like vaping because it is more discreet and convenient than rolling a joint or carrying around a bong. Sellers like vapes too because the profit margins tend to be higher — especially on the illicit market, where sellers can save on costs by heavily diluting the THC oil. This haphazard “do something” approach ignores the fact that several of the people who got sick from vaping used pens filled with THC oil, which is already illegal in most states and under federal law. “Banning things — have we not learned that doesn’t curb use?” asked Jeffrey Raber, a chemist who founded a cannabis lab-testing facility in Los Angeles. Public health officials have not yet specified how many deaths and illnesses are linked to cannabis vape products — but there is only one known case involving a person who purchased a THC vape pen from a legal cannabis dispensary. Several of the other cases appear to involve people who bought illicit vapes, which are not subject to any regulations or testing.
California now has the most rigorous testing requirements: Every cannabis product sold in a licensed dispensary is tested for 66 types of pesticides, heavy metals, microbial pathogens and potency. A more effective way to prevent people from using marijuana vape pens that could kill them or make them sick would be to legalize weed so that consumers could have the option to buy regulated, lab-tested products. The public health benefit of legalizing and regulating marijuana is not hypothetical — it’s already happened in states that have done it. Back in 2017, before California’s testing requirements went into effect, around 70% of clients that submitted their product to cannabis-testing lab Cannasafe failed to meet standards the lab was using at the time, according to Antonio Frazier, the lab’s vice president of operations. These days, only 3-6% of Cannasafe’s clients fail to meet the state’s testing regulations. that’s because failing these testing requirements is a huge pain for cannabis companies. Products have to be quarantined. The manufacturer can either destroy the entire batch or submit a “corrective action plan” to the California Department of Public Health, which decides whether or not to approve the plan. “Our fail rate was much higher when no one was required to do it the right way,” Frazier said. “Without regulation, people aren’t going to do what’s right. This has been true in almost all industries.” Legalization and regulation isn’t a perfect solution. There is still a thriving illicit market in California for consumers who don’t want to pay dispensary prices or who live far away from licensed stores.
The Crow is a contributing writer for c4ocradio.com
The buzz over 420 isn’t just media hype, April 20 ― aka “420” ― is considered pot’s biggest day, according to cannabis industry insiders like Robert Arabian, founder of Pop-Up Potcorn, a line of cannabis-infused microwave popcorn, and it should only get more popular now that 33 states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. “These days, 4/20 has turned into the biggest Holiday in the cannabis industry and serves as a day of celebration for the advancements the industry has made in the legal space,” Arabian told HuffPost. How is the marijuana industry changing you ask? Here are some significant changes for 2019: Everything CBD — or cannabidiol, the nonpsychoactive ingredient in the marijuana plant — is popping up in all sorts of products, including face masks,jelly beans and even burgers, despite the lack of evidence of its effectiveness for easing pain, insomnia, anxiety and depression. CBD will be sticking around for quite a while, though maybe not in its current form according to Michael Christopher, the CEO of Mood33, a California-based cannabis-infused beverage brand. “We are seeing some proliferation of CBD-infused products that are starting to overwhelm consumers,” Christopher told huffpost.com . “From $9 CBD-infused donuts to $14 CBD-infused brownie mix.
More Women Are Using Marijuana: Sheena Shirvai, director of consumer communications for Eaze, a cannabis-delivery company in California, says women are now behind 75 percent of orders. Last year, baby boomers were seen as the future of sales, but industry experts now see women as the next budding market. Dr. John Oram, the Founder/CEO of NUG, a cannabis company specializing in concentrates, said “soccer moms” are coming into the business in droves ― and it shouldn’t be a surprise. Oram told HuffPost. “Moms generally make the health and wellness decisions in the household. It is natural to expect women to play a greater role in choosing quality cannabis products.” Ray Landgraf of Island Cannabis, which deals with cannabis production technology, says there’s a thirst for pot-infused drinks. “We’re really early on beverages where people are just figuring out the science that will make cannabis beverages a really unique experience. Marijuana Delivery Is The Future: The idea of brick-and-mortar bud shops popping up like Starbucks is one that should be nipped in the bud, according to Brad McLaughlin of BudTrader.com, which bills itself as “the largest cannabis social media platform.” “Dispensaries will go the way of Blockbuster Video. You heard it here first,” McLaughlin said. “People don’t want to leave the pad, especially in major metropolitan cities with heavy traffic congestion like New York, LA and places where it’s cold.” However, many industry insiders such as Bryson Bulda, brand manager of LBS Distribution, a California cannabis company, believe dispensaries are crucial to building burgeoning bud businesses. “Going to a dispensary and talking to budtenders is the only way to actively learn from products and what you are consuming.”
The Crow is a contributing writer for c4ocradio.com/listenlive
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Democrat’s proposed spending plan, released Thursday, projects the state will bank $355 million in marijuana excise taxes by the end of June. Deep in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new budget is a figure that says a lot about California’s shaky legal marijuana market: The state is expecting a lot less cash from cannabis taxes. That’s roughly half of what was once expected after broad legal sales kicked off last year. Most consumers are continuing to purchase pot in the illegal marketplace, where they avoid taxes that can near 50 percent in some communities. Tax collections are expected to gradually increase over time, but predicting what that amount will be remains something of a guess. Industry experts say the diminished tax income reflects a somber reality. Tax collections for “a newly created market are subject to significant uncertainty,” the budget said. Josh Drayton of the California Cannabis Industry Association credited Newsom with taking “a realistic look at the challenges” after a bumpy first year of broad legal sales. Newsom also recommended a sharp increase in spending for regulatory programs, although it’s an open question whether it will be enough to help steady the state pot economy.
Initially “the state was too optimistic about how the implementation of legalization was going to work. This governor has paid attention to that,” Drayton said. The budget recommends just over $200 million for marijuana-related activities in the fiscal year that starts July 1, which would be over a 50 percent boost from the current year. That said, Drayton added that legal businesses need a break from hefty tax rates that are driving consumers to the illicit economy. Local governments are free to slap taxes on sales and on growers too, which has created a confusing patchwork of tax rates around the state. Various proposals have been made to cut state pot taxes. The state’s top marijuana regulator, Lori Ajax, has said the state intends to get more businesses licensed and operating in 2019, while cracking down on rogue operators who continue to proliferate across the state. By some estimates, up to 80 percent of sales in the state remain under the table, snatching profits from legal storefronts. At year’s end, California’s effort to transform its longstanding illegal and medicinal marijuana markets into a unified, multibillion-dollar industry remained a work in progress. Meanwhile, the courts budget includes nearly $14 million for resentencing of thousands of drug offenders whose offenses are no longer crimes since California legalized recreational pot.
The Crow is a contributing writer for c4ocradio.com