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Lax THC vape rules still allow toxins into your lungs

Lax THC vape rules still allow toxins into your lungs

THC vape toxins are still prevalent

In 2019 and 2020, vaping-associated lung injuries killed 68 people and injured 2,807 across the United States. As reported by Leafly and later confirmed by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those injuries and deaths were almost exclusively associated with unlicensed THC vape cartridges purchased from the illicit market.

 

At the heart of the health crisis was a relatively new vape cartridge additive known as vitamin E acetate. Unlicensed cartridge manufacturers were using the substance, a common ingredient in beard cream, to thicken the cartridge oil and boost profit margins.

After the poisonings, officials at the CDC said the number one thing state cannabis regulators could do to protect public health was ensure that “chemicals of concern” like vitamin E acetate did not enter the state-licensed THC vape cartridge supply.

As of early 2021, cannabis regulators have not done that.

 

A Leafly investigation into current and forthcoming regulations around THC vape cartridges in the 15 legal cannabis states reveals that more than a year after the vape lung (also known as EVALI or VAPI) crisis, a few states have banned vitamin E oil, but not a single state upgraded its THC vape cartridge testing requirements up to the standard currently required for all nicotine vape cartridges in Europe and Canada.

State cannabis regulators have generally done a great job of protecting the health of consumers by requiring tests for toxins like pesticides, residual solvents, heavy metals, mold, and bacteria. Manufacturers are also required to test and disclose the exact potency of every product on the label.

But sometime around late 2018, THC vape cartridges escaped the bounds of those safeguards. A new wave of novel cartridge oil additives, thickeners, thinners, diluents, and artificial flavors began flooding the market. The new additives were mostly limited to illicit-market vape carts, but a few seeped into the legal regulated market as well.

Those new additives included:

  • Vitamin E acetate, aka beard cream oil
  • Squalene, a shark liver oil substance
  • Thousands of food flavorings not approved for inhalation

What kept these toxins from flooding into the legal THC vape supply? Only the good conscience of many licensed vape cartridge manufacturers—and a bit of luck. Nothing in the regulatory system of any state would have prohibited most of the new wave of additives.

 

Even today, the existing patchwork of state rules—with their yawning safety gaps and a total absence of federal oversight—has experts throwing up their hands.

Vape chemistry and regulations expert David Heldreth Jr. stepped down as the Chief Science Officer of a vape flavoring company. “It’s painful,” he told Leafly. “It’s one of those things where the industry just popped up and grew so quickly, it’s really difficult to keep up with what people innovate.”

CannaCraft, California’s biggest vape maker, forbids non-cannabis ingredients in its products, citing a lack of safety data. But the only thing keeping the company from adding mystery flavorings is the integrity of company officials. Many in the industry are doing it right. Others have less scruples. Consumers have few ways to tell.

“I think we do a lot of things well, but there’s certainly room for improvement,” said Matthew Elmes, a molecular biologist and Director of Scientific Affairs for CannaCraft. “There are so many things that aren’t tested for, and we don’t know, as consumers, what’s going on there.”

Leafly’s comprehensive review of THC vape cartridge rules in the 15 legal cannabis states found loopholes where those chemicals can get in.

Jamaica faces marijuana shortage as farmers struggle

Jamaica faces marijuana shortage as farmers struggle

Jamaican cannabis industry struggles due to supply and demand

Jamaica is running low on ganja.

Heavy rains followed by an extended drought, an increase in local consumption and a drop in the number of marijuana farmers have caused a shortage in the island’s famed but largely illegal market that experts say is the worst they’ve seen.

“It’s a cultural embarrassment,” said Triston Thompson, chief opportunity explorer for Tacaya, a consulting and brokerage firm for the country’s nascent legal cannabis industry.

Jamaica, which foreigners have long associated with pot, reggae and Rastafarians, authorized a regulated medical marijuana industry and decriminalized small amounts of weed in 2015.

People caught with 2 ounces (56 grams) or less of cannabis are supposed to pay a small fine and face no arrest or criminal record. The island also allows individuals to cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke ganja for sacramental purposes.

But enforcement is spotty as many tourists and locals continue to buy marijuana on the street, where it has grown more scarce — and more expensive.

Heavy rains during last year’s hurricane season pummeled marijuana fields that were later scorched in the drought that followed, causing tens of thousands of dollars in losses, according to farmers who cultivate pot outside the legal system.

“It destroyed everything,” said Daneyel Bozra, who grows marijuana in the southwest part of Jamaica, in a historical village called Accompong founded by escaped 18th-century slaves known as Maroons.

Worsening the problem were strict COVID-19 measures, including a 6 p.m. curfew that meant farmers couldn’t tend to their fields at night as is routine, said Kenrick Wallace, 29, who cultivates 2 acres (nearly a hectare) in Accompong with the help of 20 other farmers.

He noted that a lack of roads forces many farmers to walk to reach their fields — and then to get water from wells and springs. Many were unable to do those chores at night due to the curfew.

Wallace estimated he lost more than $18,000 in recent months and cultivated only 300 pounds, compared with an average of 700 to 800 pounds the group normally produces.

Activists say they believe the pandemic and a loosening of Jamaica’s marijuana laws has led to an increase in local consumption that has contributed to the scarcity, even if the pandemic has put a dent in the arrival of ganja-seeking tourists.

“Last year was the worst year. … We’ve never had this amount of loss,” Thompson said. “It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica.”

Tourists, too, have taken note, placing posts on travel websites about difficulties finding the drug.

Read the Full Story from AP

Recreational marijuana sales in Arizona could start this week

Recreational marijuana sales in Arizona could start this week

Cannabis dispensaries in Arizona could open this week.

Marijuana sales to anyone 21 or older in Arizona could start within a day or two, with state health officials telling dispensaries they are poised to issue licenses for recreational sales.

The first stores able to sell recreational marijuana and marijuana products, such as vape pens and gummy edibles, are existing medical-marijuana dispensaries. Some of those businesses said Tuesday they are awaiting approval from state regulators to show up online so they may open their doors to anyone with a state-issued ID. 

“I’m sitting here at my computer hitting refresh, refresh,” said Raúl Molina, a partner and senior vice president of operations for The Mint dispensaries in Mesa and Guadalupe.

A spokesman for the Department of Health Services said 40 medical dispensaries had applied to sell recreational marijuana as of Tuesday afternoon.

The quick turnaround for licenses was unexpected by some dispensary owners, who anticipated the state agency would use the full amount of time given under the law to approve applications, meaning recreational sales wouldn’t begin until March or April.

About two-thirds of dispensaries in the state have yet to make an application, meaning their competitors will have a jump on them in attracting the recreational market.

Molina said he is ready to begin sales as soon as he gets the OK, and that officials with the Department of Health Services told him it could come at any time.

“I am so ready,” Molina said, adding that he has submitted documents to the state for his employees to work in a recreational dispensary, stocked childproof packaging, added cash registers and programmed them to add the appropriate tax to recreational sales, and bought an additional 800 pounds of marijuana in the past month to meet the anticipated demand.

“We expect rushes like 4/20 (April 20) for probably like 10 to 30 days straight,” he said. “Basically it’s going to be 4/20 for a full month.”

Molina said he has dedicated registers for medical-marijuana patients to prevent a displacement by new recreational customers.

Arizonans approved Proposition 207 in November, legalizing adult use and possession of marijuana. The measure also allowed the state’s 120 or so operating medical-marijuana dispensaries to apply for a license to sell to any adult, not just those who have a state-issued medical-marijuana card.

Delta 8 THC Explained: The New THC?

Delta 8 THC Explained: The New THC?

Delta 8 THC vs Delta 9 THC

It’s Delta-9’s close relative, but why is it becoming so popular now?

If you’ve been in a head shop or a smoke circle recently, you might have heard about or even seen Delta 8 THC. This hemp-derived compound has been growing in popularity over the last year, but why?

In 2018, the federal government passed the Farm Bill which legalized hemp across the country. While classifying hemp as hemp is as simple as measuring the Delta 9 THC content and ensuring it is below .3%, Delta 8 THC is not the same thing, and therefore not included in that judgement.

In other words, as long as D9 THC is below .3%, D8 THC is irrelevant. With this loophole and discoveries of Delta 8’s effects, the race was on to start production of Delta 8 THC products.

Just like D9 THC, our knowledge about the effects and benefits of D8 THC are limited due to lack of research. For the most part, the resources for learning about Delta 8 THC come from first hand accounts of users.

What we do know about D8 THC is that it is chemically different from delta-9-THC by only a few atomic bonds, and according to the National Cancer Institute is defined as, “An analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.”

In other words, it sounds a lot like plain old Delta 9 THC. However the experiences noted by Delta 8 THC users reveal some slight differences.

Does Delta 8 THC get you high?

The short answer seems to be yes. Most descriptions of the Delta 8 THC high note that it is more mild or “lighter” than a traditional Delta 9 THC high. User have also said that the high feels almost identical to D9 THC but without the associated paranoia or anxiety many experience.

Other anecdotes note how it can take multiple hits of a D8 THC vape to get a similar effect to a Delta 9 THC vape of similar potency, and that the flavor differs, and not always in a good way. Granted, taste is typically associated with processing, especially when it comes to distillate cartridges.

The most popular form of consumption seems to be vaping and consuming D8 edibles like gummies. However just like CBD, you can also find Delta 8 THC flower and other extracts.

Is it worth it?

Anybody who lives in a state where cannabis is still illegal or only available medically, or anyone who does not want to risk their safety with an illicit market Delta 9 THC vape cartridge might find Delta 8 THC to be a very strong alternative.

For now, D8 THC is completely legal on the federal level and available in 38 states with multiple online retailers that ship nationwide. That’s a very appealing offer when the alternative isn’t available anywhere. There are no dangers currently associated with D8 THC consumption compared to D9 THC, and the high seems to be at least comparable.

However as with any unregulated “grey market” product, Delta 8 THC should be treated with more scrutiny and consumed carefully compared to its state-regulated cousin.

UFC won’t punish fighters for marijuana use in policy change

UFC won’t punish fighters for marijuana use in policy change

UFC is no longer going to punish fighter for cannabis use

The UFC will no longer punish fighters for using marijuana in most cases, making a major change to its anti-doping policy.

The world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion confirmed Thursday that it will no longer worry about positive tests for carboxy-THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, unless it believes a fighter used it intentionally to enhance performance.

All other cannabinoids derived naturally from marijuana are no longer prohibited substances, said Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s senior vice president of athlete health and performance.

“The bottom line is that in regard to marijuana, we care about what an athlete consumed the day of a fight, not days or weeks before a fight, which has often been the case in our historic positive THC cases,” Novitzky said. “UFC athletes will still be subject to marijuana rules under various athletic commission regulations, but we hope this is a start to a broader discussion and changes on this issue with that group.”

Indeed, the UFC’s decision doesn’t affect the rules of various state athletic commissions and international governing bodies, but those groups often follow promoters’ leads on anti-doping policy. The UFC hopes state commissions will similarly relax their rules to reflect the more widespread tolerance for marijuana use.

The UFC won’t allow fighters to compete while under the influence of cannabinoids, but Novitzky said the promotion recognizes that MMA fighters often use marijuana for pain management or relaxation. Fighters advocating for legal competitive marijuana use have previously argued that a relaxation of the UFC’s anti-marijuana rules could lead to a reduction in the use of more addictive pain medications.

The UFC partnered with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in 2015 to produce a comprehensive anti-doping program in a notoriously fractious sport. Mixed martial arts once frequently showcased fighters semi-openly using steroids and testosterone replacement therapy, among other performance enhancements.

Despite its prior ban, marijuana and CBD products have had a prominent role in many MMA fighters’ training and financial backing. Many fighters have sponsorships from CBD businesses, while others have launched CBD-related business ventures.

Nick and Nate Diaz, two semi-retired but wildly popular fighters from Stockton, California, have built their outlaw image partly around their enthusiastic use of marijuana and CBD products. Nick Diaz, who hasn’t fought in six years, tested positive for marijuana use after two of his last three fights.

What is CBG? Cannabigerol and CBG Benefits

What is CBG? Cannabigerol and CBG Benefits

Cbg, what is it and what are its benefits?

CBD was just the beginning of the cannabis cannabinoid craze.

THC and CBD have become the two most well known compounds known as “cannabinoids” in the cannabis plant. The majority of cannabis products contain THC with trace amounts of CBD, however 2020 was the Year of CBD.

After the federal legalization of industrial hemp in 2018, many jumped into the hemp market to try and make a profit. While your average hemp farmer did not see too much success and still struggled through 2020, CBD specific products slowly gained traction and exploded this past year.

From health and lifestyle influencers to medical professionals, just about everyone was recommending using CBD for something in your life. But there’s something a lot of people who have recently been introduced to the wonder of cannabis/hemp don’t know.

There are over 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

Cannabis and Cannabinoids

So far, over 113 different cannabinoids have been isolated from the cannabis plant. It starts to make you wonder if it’s really just THC and CBD making cannabis so special. But what is really special, is how our brains and bodies were design to interact with cannabis and cannabinoids in a very specific way.

Prior to the 1980s, it was thought that cannabis just interacted with cell membranes throughout the body to produce its psychoactive effects. In the 80s the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered, putting that theory to rest. And it isn’t just us humans.

Cannabinoid receptors have been found in many mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. In the field of science, cannabinoid receptors are still relatively new, and so as of now there are two known types of receptors. But there is already evidence that there are likely more.

While it would be information overload to throw every cannabinoid we know at the public at once, we are slowly learning more about the individual cannabinoids that make up the cannabis plant, and the different effects they have.

One of the latest cannabinoids gaining CBD-like attention in the cannabis and hemp community is Cannabigerol, also known as CBG.

What is CBG?

Cannabigerol or CBG, is a cannabinoid just like CBD (Cannabidiol). Both are non-psychoactive, and found more commonly in low-THC, high-CBD varieties. In other words, CBG and CBD are both more prevalent in hemp than psychoactive cannabis.

CBG is the decarboxylated form of cannabigerolic acid, the parent molecule from which other cannabinoids are synthesized. Due to this, during plant growth most CBG is converted into other cannabinoids, primarily THC or CBD, leaving about 1% cannabigerol in the plant. With the rise of hemp, strains with higher percentages of CBG have become more prevalent.

And with it’s potential benefits, it is not hard to see CBG making its way into psychoactive cannabis breeding circles to create high-THC, high-CBG strains in the future.

CBG Benefits

While research is still very limited on CBG due to its newfound interest in 2020, there are some studies that have shown CBG can help with Glaucoma, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. There is currently not enough data to determine the best means of consumption, be it smokable flower or extract.

However like CBD, CBG will most likely be most effective in its extracted form and converted into various products like creams, ointments, tinctures or edibles. Because CBG is also non-psychoactive, the consumer does not need to worry about an actual “high” from consuming Cannabigerol products.

But we are also learning more about how all of the various cannabinoids in cannabis work together to create what’s known as the “Entourage Effect”. So while we may know how we react to a 50/50 THC/CBD strain thanks to the latest cultivation innovations, we haven’t gotten to experience many CBG and THC rich cannabis strains.

With over one hundred other cannabinoids to consider as well, CBG is just one little piece in the massive puzzle that is cannabis.

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