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What the Biden Cannabis Executive Order Means

What the Biden Cannabis Executive Order Means

Biden cannabis pardon executive order

Biden’s cannabis executive order is making waves across the industry and culture, but what does it really mean?

Last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that will release those convicted of federal cannabis crimes from prison. There is no doubt that the move is a major step for this administration and the country as a whole.

Many were quick to jump on the excitement of the announcement. Many were under the impression that this order would impact thousands of people wrongfully convicted of minor cannabis crimes. In one sense this is true.

Upon further inspection, however, some are beginning to question the impact that Biden’s cannabis executive order will truly have.

The Biden Cannabis Pardon

Biden’s cannabis executive order will pardon nearly 6,500 people who were convicted of cannabis possession at the federal level. The key word here is “federal”.

For reference, there are over 40,000 individuals currently in prison for cannabis-related crimes across the US. Another comparison would be Colorado, where Governor Jared Polis has pardoned over 4,000 individuals for possession of two ounces or less.

Illinois has cleared nearly 500,000 conviction records for cannabis related crimes since 2019, with over 20,000 individual pardons in the same time period.

In other words, compared to what individual states are already doing, Biden’s cannabis pardon looks relatively minimal. But let’s go back to the word “federal”.

The reason Biden’s cannabis pardon executive order is so huge is actually because it’s only impacting federal cannabis prisoners. This marks the first time that a mass pardon for cannabis-related crime has been announced at the federal level.

Biden’s cannabis pardon, while only applying to a select group of individuals, shows a great step forward toward this administration following through on its campaign promises.

On the campaign trail, Biden supported reclassifying cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2. In addition to the announcement regarding cannabis pardons, he also asked the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department to review how marijuana is scheduled, or classified, under federal law.

Biden also urged states to consider pardoning individuals for cannabis crimes at the state level.

 

Biden Cannabis Executive Order Leaves Many Out

Due to the selective nature of Biden’s cannabis pardon executive order, there will still be an additional 3,000 people who have been convicted of higher level federal cannabis crimes who do not get out. And as said earlier, the 40,000+ in state prisons for similar crimes are unaffected by the order.

While Biden encouraged state governors to take action and pardon individuals in their state, some states like Texas have already said that they will not be pardoning anybody.

Switching cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 may also not be the positive change many are hoping will move us closer to legalization. Schedule I drugs (where cannabis currently sites) are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Schedule II drugs (where cannabis may move) are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are still considered dangerous according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Drugs listed as Schedule II include vicodin, oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Adderall, and Ritalin. In other words, if the drug is not typically supplied via prescription from a doctor, possession is still illegal.

Cannabis moving to Schedule II may look like a good deal, especially for medical cannabis patients. However the implications that such a move could have on recreational cannabis industries are debated.

The federal government has thus far respected state’s choices to legalize cannabis recreationally, so it is to be expected that it would maintain that discretion even with the changing of federal law. I.e. the federal government will potentially recognize medical cannabis as legal should the scheduling change, while allowing states to keep recreational laws if they so choose.

When the government federally legalized hemp in 2018 under The Farm Bill, states still had the option to set their own laws regarding hemp. Some chose to still ban its production outright, while others made additional restrictions on top of the federal government’s actions.

What Comes Next

Overall the action by President Biden should be viewed positively. While it is not impacting as many people as we would all like, it is a major step for the federal government to acknowledge that simple possession of cannabis should not be a federal crime.

The action marks a step in the right direction for a government that has fought legal access to cannabis for nearly a century. Nobody should expect federally licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in their town anytime soon, however.

Now we wait on the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice to review the scheduling. There has not been any timeline given on how long it may take.

Is HHC Legal? What is HHC

Is HHC Legal? What is HHC

What is HHC hexahydrocannabinol

Another day, another THC analog cannabinoid product!

Every few months there seems to be a new THC analog product that gains popularity. It started with Delta 8 and Delta 10. Then we saw THC-O and THCV.

The latest analog to hit the market is HHC. Also known as Hexahydrocannabinol, HHC is a hydrogenated form of THC.

What is HHC?

Like other THC analog products like Delta 8, HHC does not occur naturally in concentrations large enough to be consumed directly. Instead it is made through an extraction process similar to how a margarine manufacturer hardens vegetable oils.

Through hydrogenation, hydrogen atoms are added to the chemical structure of THC using some type of catalyst like nickel or palladium. With the addition of high pressure, the double bond chemical structure of THC breaks down, replacing one half with hydrogen. This preserves the cannabinoid’s potency and effects.

In other words, HHC is made through a chemical process that converts THC, which is also how Delta 8 and other cannabinoids are made.

HHC vs THC

Like Delta 8 and THC-O, HHC is very comparable, though slightly less potent. However users report the same effects as when consuming THC, like euphoria, increased appetite and increased heart rate.

Some HHC users place HHC somewhere in the middle of Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC, claiming HHC is more relaxing than stimulating. Due to its molecular structure, HHC also still holds many of the beneficial aspects of the cannabinoid.

However because HHC is not regulated, there are no reliable studies to confirm any of the effects or potential health benefits.

Is HHC Legal?

Just like other THC analogs like Delta 8 and THC-O, HHC is technically legal due to a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized hemp on the federal level. Under federal law, as long as a cannabis plant has a THC content of .3% or less it is considered hemp.

However through extraction and chemical processes like those mentioned above, THC analogs are created from federally legal hemp. And because they aren’t technically Delta 9 THC, they aren’t regulated under the Farm Bill.

So while HHC is legal to buy and consume, it is completely unregulated. With products such as this, it is not uncommon for bad actors to get into the market to make a quick buck without taking into the account the safety of their products and consumers.

Where to find HHC

Because HHC is not a licensed THC product, you won’t see it a legal medical or recreational cannabis dispensary. You are most likely to find HHC products at gas stations and smoke shops where you see Delta 8 and other analog products.

When shopping for HHC or any other analog THC product, do a little research on the product before purchase. Confirm that the brand actually has a website. See if they offer lab test analyses of their products which can confirm the potency that they claim.

If you see any product that is branded as a name-brand knockoff like Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Oreos, Chips Ahoy, etc., avoid it. Aside from the obvious legal implications of stealing a company’s trademark, these products are in most cases not legitimate. They count on consumers seeing a brand they recognize and thinking it looks cool to sell plain gummies with nothing in them, or vastly misrepresented potencies.

Next time you hear someone asking “what is HHC?”, now you’ll have the answer! Always be careful when buying any sort of “cannabis products” from a non-licensed retailer.

In several state where cannabis is already legal medically, recreationally or both, THC analogs like Delta 8 THC have already been banned. Other states have chose to regulate them like Delta 9 THC and make them available only through licensed retailers.

Is Colorado cannabis industry dying or just returning to normal?

Is Colorado cannabis industry dying or just returning to normal?

Colorado cannabis

The Colorado cannabis market that thrived during the peak of the COVID pandemic has been slowly coming back down, decreasing 32% since the state broke records in July of 2020.

Colorado cannabis sales broke $226 million in July 2020 alone, setting a new record for the state. Latest state records show that total cannabis sales in the state for May 2022 were just $147 million.

At first glance this could be interpreted as the market correcting itself following the massive boost it received during the COVID pandemic. It could also be seen as the Colorado cannabis market losing marketshare following the legalization of cannabis in neighboring states like New Mexico and Oklahoma.

This answer is likely a combination of both.

During the peak of the pandemic, cannabis sales rose to record levels across the country. While many restaurants and stores shut down for months, in most states with recreational and medical cannabis, dispensaries remained open.

Cannabis was treated similarly to alcohol in this instance; liquor stores were allowed to remain open in most states during the pandemic as well.

The picture of Colorado’s cannabis industry profits becomes less pessimistic when taken in context and compared to pre-COVID numbers. However the numbers still show an industry that is struggling to grow as the national industry also grows and consolidates.

For comparison, let’s take the same month that we can consistently track according to state released data; May.

In May 2019, total Colorado cannabis sales were $143 million. One year later in May 2020, the state sold over $192 million in cannabis, which would gradually increase month by month until the record breaking month of July 2020 ($226 million).

It is easy to see the boost that COVID gave to cannabis sales in Colorado, as in May of 2021 sales were back down to $194 million. This number is just $2 million more than the same month in 2019.

Comparing to 2019 and removing 2020 from the equation, May 2019 to May 2022 show almost no growth.

Coincidentally, July 2021 was also one of the most successful months of the year, selling $202 million in cannabis products. The industry has not broken $200 million in sales since then.

As an additional comparison, we can look at the same 5 month timeframe from this year (2022) and last year (2021), from January to May.

The mean cannabis revenue in Colorado in 2021 from January to May was $192 million.

The mean cannabis revenue for 2022 is $151 in the same time period.

For a pre-COVID reference, sales for the same period in 2019 were only $133 million.

In other words, while Colorado cannabis sales are down compared to previous quarters, the industry has overall seen growth. The boost the industry gained from COVID has had residual impacts, with more people still purchasing cannabis than before the pandemic.

However the state has not seen a booming month like July 2020 for some time. Current trends in the industry hint that it is unlikely the state will see sales numbers surpassing $200 million until the next holiday season, if ever again.

3 reasons 4/20 is still an important holiday

3 reasons 4/20 is still an important holiday

best things to do on 4/20

From the outside, 4/20 might just seem like a special day for stoners to get especially stoned. In a way they aren’t wrong.

4/20 has become a national holiday for cannabis lovers across the world. It is a day when we can all come together as a community to share our passion for the plant.

And yes, it is a day where you can score some great deals at the dispensary to get a little extra baked!

However 4/20 still holds a lot more importance than you may think. While the day may have supposedly started from some friends sneaking out to get high together, it has evolved into the main holiday promoting the cannabis legalization movement.

You see, cannabis is only fully legal in 18 states in the US. While there are only two states — Nebraska and Kansas — that haven’t legalized anything at all (including CBD), cannabis is still fully illegal according to the federal government.

That brings us to five reasons why 4/20 is still an important and essential holiday. Not just to those who love cannabis, but for anybody who supports breaking down unjust laws that punish minorities and create more problems for the country as a whole.

Cannabis is not federally legal

It might be easy to look at the expressive nature of the cannabis industry and community and think, “how could this be illegal?”

After all people like Snoop Dogg can openly smoke a blunt on live TV at the Super Bowl and face no repercussions. But for many others, the reality is much, much different. In fact, 40% of drug-related arrests in 2018 were for cannabis.

Consider the resources that are still going into arresting people for a plant that is medically or recreationally legal in over half the country. Does that make sense?

Additionally in New York City, 94% of cannabis arrests were black people in 2020.

4/20 has been the main day where proponents for legalization can really get their message heard and inform people on why legalization really matters.

Sharing the benefits of the plant

According to the federal government, cannabis is currently ranked as dangerous as heroin, an a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This means it has no medical applications and is highly addictive.

Well, 35 states that have legal medical cannabis programs would disagree. There have been studies showing recreational cannabis access decreases the demand for prescription opioids. Other studies have shown it to be extremely effective in treating various diseases, including cancer.

Lest we forget the wide range of ailments that cannabis is legally prescribed for by licensed doctors across the country. That sounds like a lot of medical applications, but you would be surprised how many people haven’t heard about those studies or the benefits of cannabis.

When you are a part of the cannabis community it is easy to think that everybody knows these things. After all you see articles and posts on social media all the time about new laws, legalization, medical studies. But that is a bubble. In most cases, if you aren’t actively looking for cannabis news or information, it isn’t very likely to pop up unless it is a major story.

On 4/20, there is just that little bit more attention the entire community and industry gets to share this information with a wider audience. While many may still not support the full legalization of cannabis, helping them to understand how much it truly helps people is an important step in the right direction.

4/20 is a celebration of culture

It is not very often that there is a community of millions of people, all passionate about the same thing which happens to be completely illegal according to the federal government. Think about it.

As a culture that developed in the shadows over decades, the cannabis community is different from any other. A group of people who were traditionally artists, musicians and hippies has spread to encompass every type of person out there. From your grandma to wall street businessmen and women, somebody you know is likely a consumer.

The culture has begun evolving over the years from the small, close-knit community of growers in online forums to massive festivals headlined by A-list artists. And it has become even more accessible to someone who is trying to learn more about cannabis and the community surrounding it.

What better way to dip your feet into the culture of cannabis than going to your local 4/20 festival or event? And if it’s an underground event in a illegal state, even better. Because that’s where it all started, and has stayed for many across the country still.

Because its FUN

Consider this one an honorable mention. 4/20 is basically the only holiday for cannabis lovers (some would argue 7/10 is growing in popularity now as well). While spreading awareness about the war on drugs and pushing for legalization are important aspects of 4/20 celebrations, it’s also about just that; celebrating!

The fact that you can go to Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado on 4/20 and consume cannabis publicly with thousands of others without persecution is a big deal. The fact that there will be hundreds of public 4/20 celebrations across the country today is huge. Just 10 years ago, almost none of it would be happening…at least in public.

Some people miss the old days where the community was smaller and more close-knit, with underground celebrations where you had to be “in the know” to go. Well, you can still find plenty of those across the country too. Because as big of a day as 4/20 is, and the difference it can make, it’s important to remember that millions of people are still at risk of arrest and prison time to simply possessing a plant.

Why you should stop calling it “marijuana”

Why you should stop calling it “marijuana”

history of the word marijuana

The majority of Americans now approve of cannabis legalization on the federal level. Yet the majority of the country still refers to the plant by much different name: marijuana.

If you walked up to someone in their mid-forties and asked them their opinion on cannabis, there’s a chance they wouldn’t know what you were talking about. However if you asked them if they supported the legalization of marijuana, there’s a higher likelihood of them supporting it than not.

So where is the confusion?

When we have been referring to cannabis as “marijuana” for nearly a century, it isn’t as easy to telling people that the name has changed. But the reality is that cannabis was always, well, cannabis.

Origins of cannabis

Cannabis has been a known and used plant for medicine and recreation for centuries. With use dating back to 8,000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, those studying medicine throughout the generations have had plenty of time to learn about the origins of the cannabis plant.

Through these studies, this is where the plant’s name originates. Actually, it has several names for the various types of cannabis that can be found across the globe.

Cannabis Ruderalis (northern/central Asia), Cannabis Sativa (Eastern Europe/Central Asia), and Cannabis Indica (China, Korea, Southeast Asia, Himalayas, Middle East) are the most studied and well known biotypes of cannabis. These are the scientific names for the plant. Notice that none of them have the word “marijuana” or anything close to it in their title.

So if cannabis had held that name for centuries of scientific study, what changed?

The answer to this question is why you should stop using the word “marijuana” when talking about cannabis.

Origins of “marijuana”

The origins of the word “marijuana” or “marihuana” are debated among the cannabis community. But one thing is inarguable; the word is racist.

Cannabis,  AKA hemp, was a major cash crop in the United States for decades, with the government even requiring its production by farmers during the Revolutionary War. Now, why cannabis became illegal in the first place is highly debated.

Many argue that cannabis became illegal because major paper manufacturers and big cotton producers partnered together to phase out hemp as a material for paper. However there is very little historical information to back this up. The more recognized and historically traced reason for the criminalization of cannabis goes back to the introduction of Mexican immigrants to the United States.

Prior to their arrival, recreational use of cannabis was not widely accepted. The plant’s main uses were medicinal and manufacturing. Hash and concentrated forms of cannabis were commonly used by doctors to treat a variety of ailments. The fibers of the hemp plant were great not only for creating boat sails which were vital to the war effort, but hemp was also a vital material in clothing and paper for decades.

However it was when Mexican immigrants arrived and brought their preferred method of cannabis consumption with them that the plant would begin to gain notoriety. Opposed to consuming it in a medicinal form such as a tincture which was common in the country at the time, the immigrants would roll up loose cannabis flower into cigarettes or pack it into pipes and smoke it.

Just like today, immigration of Mexicans to the United States stirred up xenophobia. In the 1930s a man named Henry Anslinger, the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotic (now the DEA), made a distinct effort to link cannabis use to Mexican immigrants to stir up fear in the community and build support for prohibition.

Keep in mind this is the 1930s, and alcohol prohibition had already been in effect for almost a decade. So the idea of banning a substance through provoking fear in the public was by no means a new concept.

Anslinger would coin the term “marihuana” to replace cannabis. He chose the word because of its foreign sounding nature that could be attached to Mexican immigrants. But Mexicans weren’t the only victims of Anslinger’s racist campaign against cannabis.

Henry Anslinger held such views on cannabis as, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” and, “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.​” One of his most famous quotes is as revealing as we need it to be to recognize the racist intentions of the word “marijuana”:

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.​​”

Need I say more?

In the end as we all know, Anslinger’s plan would be a success. In 1937 the United States passed the Marihuana Tax Act which would be the basis for criminalizing the plant nationwide in the years to come.

After the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 went into effect, the Bureau of Narcotics arrested Moses Baca for marijuana possession. Baca was a Mexican-American and was the first victim of the federal government’s war against drugs.

It’s time to move on

To make a long story short, the only reason the word “marijuana” even exists in the first place is because of racism. And that same racism has fueled the drug war that has plagued the United States for decades, with that word being at the forefront of the campaign.

Does this make everybody who calls cannabis marijuana a racist? Of course not. Don’t attribute malice to that which can be explained by ignorance.

It’s not like the history and prohibition of cannabis is taught the same way prohibition of alcohol is in high school. Politicians don’t want to talk about the dark, tattered history of the plant and why it became illegal in the first place. Anybody who wanted to know the history of cannabis had to seek it out themselves, and in most cases still do!

Let’s not forget that cannabis is still illegal on the federal level, all because of the racist campaign Henry Anslinger started in the early 20th century. Well, we’re in the 21st century now, and it is time to move on from the outdated, racist terms used to describe a plant that thousands use as medicine and recreation.

It isn’t snobby to call cannabis by its proper name to combat the decades of racism its former helped promote. It isn’t elitist or trying to be cool to use the proper terms for a plant that the majority of us want to be legal.

How can we expect legalization of cannabis when we can’t agree on what to call it?