5 Things We Know About Legal Weed After 5 Years of Legalisation in Colorado


It’s been five years since the era of legal marijuana sales began in Colorado, and that’s been enough time to begin to be able see what sorts of impact the freeing of the weed has had on the Rocky Mountain State. From the economy and the fiscal health of the state government to law enforcement and public safety, legalizing marijuana has consequences.

Thanks to marijuana sales reports and tax revenue reports from the state Department of Revenue, as well as a legislatively mandated biennial report from the Division of Criminal Justice, we can see what some of those consequences are.

1. They sure buy a lot of weed in Colorado, and the state’s coffers are filling up with marijuana tax revenues. Total marijuana sales in the state were more than $683 million in 2014—the year legal sales began—and have since more than doubled to more than $1.4 billion last year. Since legalization, the amount of legal weed sold in the state has now topped $6 billion. That’s created nearly 20,000 jobs, and it has also generated more than $900 million for the state government in marijuana taxes, licenses, and fees. Tax revenues have increased every year since legalization, and those dollars help fund public school projects, as well as human services, public affairs, agriculture, labor and employment, judicial affairs, health care policy, transportation and regulatory affairs. Pot revenues still only account for 1 percent of state revenues, but every $900 million helps.

2. Marijuana arrests are way down, but black people are still getting busted disproportionately. Even though pot is legalized, there are still ways to get arrested on a marijuana charge, such as possessing more than an ounce or selling or growing unlicensed weed. Still, arrests have declined dramatically, dropping by 56 percent during the legalization era. Both possession and sales offenses declined, but arrests for unlawful production were up markedly, reflecting the state’s continuing fight to eliminate the black market. The age group most likely to get busted was 18-20-year-olds, who can only legally use or possess marijuana if they have a medical card. They are getting busted at a rate 30 times that of adults. Arrests are way down among all ethnic/racial groups, but black people are still getting arrested for pot at a rate nearly twice that of whites.

3. Legalization has not led to more traffic fatalities. While the number of car drivers in fatal wrecks who had marijuana in their systems has increased dramatically, the report notes that “detection of cannabinoid in blood is not an indicator of impairment but only indicates presence in the system.” Marijuana DUIs were up 3 percent, but fatal traffic accidents involving marijuana-impaired drivers actually decreased by 5 percent.

4. Use rates are up slightly among adults, but not among teens. The number of adults who reported using marijuana in the past 30 days has increased by 2 percent, with nearly one-fifth of men reporting past month use. That’s almost double the number of women reporting past month use. These are high rates of use compared to the nation as a whole, but the state has always had relatively high use rates, even dating back before legalization. (There is a chicken-and-egg question here: Do Coloradans like to smoke pot because weed is legal, or is weed legal because Coloradans like to smoke pot?) But what about the kids? Well, the kids are alright. Marijuana use rates among middle and high school students have been unchanged since legalization, and so have graduation rates.

5. Emergency room visits linked to marijuana increased. Some 575 people presented to hospitals with marijuana-related problems back in 2000, but that number jumped to more than 3,500 by 2016. Emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers were both up. It’s important to note, however, that the vast majority of marijuana-related ER visits are related to panic or anxiety reactions and end with the patient eventually calming down and going home. Marijuana ER visits are not life-threatening events. The rise is also likely a function of new, naive users, especially of edibles, biting off more than they can chew.

Phillip Smith is a senior writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent of Drug Reporter

Vaping marijuana gets you significantly higher than smoking it, researchers say

Vaping cannabis gets users higher than smoking the psychoactive drug, according to a small study.

The research, carried out at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, involved 17 adults who rarely used marijuana. When participants inhaled vaporised cannabis at 25 milligram strength, they experienced “stronger effects” and had higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the drug) in their blood when compared with those who smoked the same dose.

The study comes as attitudes and laws relating to cannabis use have become more relaxed, with medicinal cannabis now legal in 30 states and Washington, D.C., and recreational use in nine. As a new marketplace has emerged, the popularity of vaporisers has grown, the authors of the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Network Open, wrote.

To conduct their study, the researchers provided nine men and eight women, whose average age was 27, with three strengths of cannabis. The participants smoked and vaped cannabis at strengths of 0 milligrams, 10 millograms and 25 milligrams in six separate eight-hour sessions at least one week apart. Participants were qualified to take part if they were deemed healthy and had not used cannabis in the month before the start of the study.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine compared the effects of vaping and smoking cannabis in 17 people. Getty Images

The researchers tested the volunteers’ cognitive and psychomotor skills, and measured their vital signs and the concentration of THC present in their blood. Participants completed surveys to measure their subjective experiences in using the drug, which included questions on what they were experiencing, including whether they felt nauseated, motivated, restless or anxious.

Tom Freeman of the department of psychology at the University of Bath, U.K., who was not involved in the research, told Newsweek that while past studies had compared the vaping and smoking cannabis experiences of regular users, the new study focused on a different portion of the population.

He praised the study’s strong methodological design “in which different doses were compared to placebo in a random order, which was concealed from both participants and experimenters.”

But he pointed out that the participants had used pipes, and it was not clear if the methods would extend to the more common method of smoking cannabis that had been rolled into a cigarette.

“Also, the cannabis was vaporised three times in a row to ensure complete vaporisation. When used in a typical setting people may only vaporise their cannabis once, and this would result in lower absorption and less intense effects.”

The findings provide valuable new information to inform the dosing of cannabis in medical settings and could help recreational users safely dose their drug use, he suggested.

Speaking generally about cannabis use, he said: “Vaporisers are considered safer due to lower respiratory harms.”

Marijuana use rises among American baby boomers

The 1960s and 70s saw a surge in the popularity of marijuana use among young Americans. Now, decades later, that hippie generation is over age 60, and they’re turning back to weed. Except now, many of them, like Louisianian Dee Dee Chatelain, say its not about getting high, but about treating chronic pain.

“My problem is a soft tissue problem. It’s not a bone problem. If I use marijuana every day I can function. If I don’t, I can barely walk,” said Chatelain.

The 67-year-old New Orleanian knows her use of cannabis is against the law until the state officially opens its medical marijuana pharmacies. But Chatelain says she’s allergic to prescribed opioid pain killers, so pot is her only pain-fighting option.

Her story helps explain why marijuana use is on the rise among the Baby Boomer generation – those are people born between 1946 and 1964. Turns out, pot use has doubled among American adults ages 50 to 64 in the past 10 years, according to a new federal study in the Journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

As for seniors ages 65 and older, their use increased more than seven times in that same period. The study’s researchers attribute the spike to changing attitudes and new laws. Plus, more physicians are prescribing medicinal marijuana to manage pain.

As we spoke to 56-year-old New Orleanian Robin Chambless about the increased use of therapeutic marijuana among her age group, she started to shake.

“I’m shaking not because I’m with you, but because I’m in so much pain and I hadn’t smoked today,” Chambless said.

The stage production manager said she’s lived with pain in her joints and her hip most of her life. Not even prescribed pain pills helped her. She said instead, she got addicted to them and struggled daily.

“Whew, I get teared up just thinking about it. The rheumatoid arthritis alone can some days keep me in bed. I just can’t get out of bed,” said Chambless. It’s why, 11 years ago, she switched from pills to pot. She said her life is now livable.

“I can go outside of my house now. I can get out and do things. I had to stop my career because of pain,” Chambless said. Former NOPD officer Jerry Kaczmarek also shared his story on switching to marijuana after he became addicted to opioids.

“When you are on opioids – this is something people don’t realise – you become a Frankenstein monster that you thought you would never become,” Kaczmarek said.

He says the painkillers were prescribed to treat the pain from injuries he sustained while on the job, but instead, it nearly ruined his life. “I would go into rages,” he said. “I mean, it was awful.”

He said two years ago while he was living in Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal, he switched to the alternative medical treatment. Since then, he said he is a much healthier man compared to his life while he was taking prescription pain pills. “I am into a regimen of exercise every day and it makes me feel good,” Kaczmarek said.

Louisiana medical marijuana advocate Kevin Caldwell estimates that several thousand local middle aged and senior residents use cannabis for its therapeutic value. Advocates like Caldwell point to studies that show opioid use has decreased in states with legalised marijuana.

“It’s not a drug. It’s a pyscho-active substance. It’s a plant. It’s been here since the beginning of time. It’s been used therapeutically and for recreation too in our state for well over 100 years,” he said.

Westbank state lawmaker Rodney Lyons said he’s not surprised to hear that more Baby Boomers are using marijuana for medical reasons. “We see every day, people basically asking for help, and this is a measure to help,” said Lyons.

He voted in favour of the 2016 law to create a Louisiana medical marijuana program for qualified adults and children with special conditions.

“It’s a phase that we need now until we can come to grips with the fact that opioids are not the real answer right now,” Lyons said.

Soon, medical marijuana will be available in Louisiana. Nine pharmacies received approval to sell it across the state. But patients can forget about smoking it because Louisiana won’t allow it to be sold in that form. Instead, initially, Dr. Vincent Culotta, the head of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, said it will be sold in the form of a tincture.

It will contain a liquid alcoholic solution extracted from the marijuana plant, and patients will use drops of it under their tongue for pain relief.

Dr. Alexis Carimi is one of at least 40 Louisiana physicians with the required permit to treat patients. “Marijuana has actually been shown to be one of the least addictive substances,” said Carimi.

To qualify for the program, patients must undergo an examination and provide proof that conventional medical treatments didn’t work. The doctor decides on the strength and potency best suited for the patient, and that could include reducing the levels in the cannabis that produces the marijuana “high” side effect.

“You can get different strains and different strengths to potentially help with various conditions, whether it be for pain, for sleep or anxiety.” said Carimi.

There’s a warning though. That same study that shows an increase of marijuana use among Baby Boomers also found those users are more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and abuse drugs.

Dr. Maeghan Davis, a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction treatment with the LSU Health Network, said there is a risk for addiction with everything. She said people need to be mindful, because any extra substance they start consuming cam impact medications they take.

“The changes will affect the way your medications are processed. So you may become toxic on a medication that has worked fine in the past. It may slow down metabolism, and you will see more side effects,” said Davis.

But medical marijuana users like Kaczmarek say its an individual thing and it depends on a personality type. He said when it comes to marijuana, it’s about providing a safer, less addictive pain treatment. “Give these people a choice to save their own life. That’s what it was for me,” said Kaczmarek.

“We need to break down the barriers of people understanding marijuana is a medicinal good thing. That we can use it for people with chronic pain ‚” added Chambless.

There is still no exact date on when the state will officially start selling the medical pot in Louisiana, but officials estimate it could be at the end of this year or early next year. As for the cost, the pharmacy will set the price. Also, because it’s still considered an illegal drug at the federal level, insurance won’t cover the cost.

Canada: Medical cannabis user finds prescription un-affordable now that recreational marijuana is legal

Shane Moore’s landlords won’t let him grow his own, meaning he’d have to pay $1,500/month for his medicine.

Shane Moore was prescribed opiates for a back injury years ago. He got hooked. It took years to shake the habit and even longer to feel relief without painkillers.

“Sometimes I hit the floor it was so bad,” he said of his back pain, sitting in his Confederation neighbourhood apartment. Moore discovered cannabis was effective as a pain reliever.

For Moore, cannabis is both a harm-reduction measure — it helped him kick opiates — and a medicine. He said it treats both his pain and his anxiety.

He was prescribed 3 grams of cannabis a day by his family doctor, with his psychiatrist’s blessing.

Moore prefers to vape cannabis concentrate. To achieve his daily dose, he requires 5-10 grams of dried flower, which he gives to a friend to process into concentrate.

If he were to purchase the prescribed amount from a Health Canada supplier, it would cost him $1,500 every month. But Moore is on income assistance. He can’t afford that much for medicine.

Shane Moore’s apartment building, located in the Confederation neighbourhood, is owned and run by Calgary-based Avenue Living.

His solution is to grow his own. He has a licence from Health Canada and he has been transparent with his landlords for the last three years.

“When I signed my last lease I had shown [my landlord] my medical paper to show him I’m legal,” said Moore.

When I signed my last lease I had shown [my landlord] my medical paper to show him I’m legal.- Shane Moore

Now his landlord wants him out.

New policy prohibits smoking, growing

On October 1, Avenue Living brought in a new policy prohibiting growing or smoking of cannabis — even medicinal cannabis — on its properties. The move came just weeks before the October 17 legalization of medicinal marijuana.

Moore said Avenue Living, which owns the building he lives in, didn’t have a policy prior to October 1 on growing medicinal marijuana with a Health Canada license. He did so freely.

“Our policy does not allow production or smoking of cannabis products on Avenue Living property. It is not a zero tolerance policy as it does not prohibit oral consumption,” said director of marketing and communications, William Akoto, in an email.

The policy excludes edible cannabis products, but those are even more expensive than medicinal cannabis flower. Moore can’t afford them, either.He’s received several written statements asking him to cease growing.

Shane Moore’s weed once won an award, but he isn’t allowed to sell it.

Moore’s 8 plants are contained in two large black tents in his bedroom. He harvests them every 90 days and doesn’t quite get the 5g/ day required to make his concentrate.

Walking up to his apartment, there is none of the skunky, pungent odour one associates with cannabis. Once you step inside, though, it’s clear that Moore is a devoted grower and consumer.

When asked if Avenue Living has evicted anyone from any of their properties yet under the new policy, publicist Tiffany Burns answered simply “no.”

But Moore is looking for other options

“It would cost between $12,000 and $15,000 for me to stop my production and start back up at a new location,” he said.

That includes applying for a new license from Health Canada because of the change in location plus the cost of his medicine for the period during which he can’t grow.

Then, there’s the issue of where to use it.

“For me to be technically legally consuming without breaking rules or regulations in Saskatoon, I’d have to drive outside city limits or go to a friend’s house,” he said.

Saskatoon’s new bylaw prohibits consumption of cannabis in public places — even medicinal cannabis.

To visit a friend every time he doses would be time consuming and unrealistic, he said.

Moore plans to find a private landlord who is sympathetic to his issues or buy a cheap house somewhere in rural Saskatchewan. He said it’s the only way he can afford to live, grow, and take his medicine.

‘Money is the biggest thing’: advocate

Shane Moore, right, sits in his home as friend Sterling Wild, left, rolls a joint.

Since Moore went public with his issues with Avenue Living, he’s received support from the cannabis community, including from friend and advocate Sterling Wild.

“It’s very difficult for Shane to obtain his medication, even for growing,” said Wild.

For me to be technically legally consuming without breaking rules or regulations in Saskatoon, I’d have to drive outside city limits or go to a friend’s house.- Shane Moore

Moore and Wild estimate the cost to grow Moore’s cannabis is about $2 to $4 per gram. It’s far more expensive to buy medicinal cannabis.

“He’s looking at $9-plus per gram. We have now included the excise tax and all the taxes recreational users are paying,” said Wild

In terms of access to medicinal cannabis, Wild says “money is the biggest thing.” The drug is not covered under most health plans, or provincial drug plans.

To Moore and Wild, restrictions are piling up, leaving them with few cost-effective options to procure cannabis and to medicate.

Moore expects the issue to land in court sometime soon. Until then, he’s searching for pot-positive landlords.

How is Marijuana Used for Health? 7 Surprising Conditions It Treats

  1. How Is Marijuana Used to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease?
  2. Asthma, Really?
  3. Fibromyalgia Pain
  4. Calming Your Eczema
  5. Many Uses for Diabetic Patients
  6. Breaking Ground in Autism Research
  7. Easing Menstrual Cramps
  8. Conclusion
We all know some of the most common uses for medical marijuana, but how is marijuana used for other illnesses? Check out these conditions you didn’t know about.

By now, most people in America are familiar with some of the most common uses for medical marijuana. With over 2 million patients using it across the country, there’s a good chance you might even know someone who does.

You’ve probably heard that it’s used to treat nausea in cancer patients and that a lot of people find it helpful in treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Maybe you’ve even seen one of the amazing videos of parents giving CBD oil to their child with epilepsy, and how it has the power to stop their seizures within minutes.

But did you know that medical marijuana has also been shown to treat autism, asthma, and Alzheimer’s? Those are just three of the seven surprising conditions that CBD and THC have been found to help.

How is marijuana used to help treat the things you haven’t heard about?

how is marijuana used

Read on to learn about how medical marijuana is completely changing the quality of life for people with these conditions. Because who knows, maybe there’s something on this list that you’ve been dealing with that could be improved.

1. How Is Marijuana Used to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease?

Scientists are still trying to figure out what is the root cause of Alzheimer’s Disease, the debilitating disorder that affects many people as they age.

One thing they know for sure is that there is a certain type of protein in the brain, called beta-amyloid proteins, which is found in all Alzheimer’s patients. There is something about the protein that causes the disease to get worse over time.

Multiple studies have found that giving THC to Alzheimer’s patients helps to lower their levels of these harmful proteins.

If that wasn’t enough to make someone willing to try medical marijuana, other studies have found that it can be helpful in treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s as well.

These can be things like aggression, anxiety, depression, and even hallucinations, which can be really difficult to live with, for both the patient and their loved ones.

2. Asthma, Really?

It might seem counter-intuitive, but there are several other ways to get THC into your bloodstream other than smoking it. Marijuana can actually help people with asthma breathe easier.

The cannabinoids in marijuana have anti-inflammatory properties. They work in a number of ways throughout the body to help reduce swelling in areas that trigger different illnesses.

In the case of asthma sufferers, THC helps to dilate the passageways that air travels through. This lets people breathe more freely. It’s been found to be especially useful in treating asthma that’s triggered by exercise.

cannabis use for asthma

3. Fibromyalgia Pain

Fibromyalgia is another disorder whose cause is unknown in the medical community. It’s a chronic condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body and can keep people from being able to sleep at night.

Depending on how bad your fibromyalgia is, you may be experiencing severe pain, nausea and fatigue on a daily basis. These are all symptoms that medical marijuana has been shown to improve.

So while THC isn’t going to by any means “cure” your fibromyalgia, it can certainly make your day to day life much better.

4. Calming Your Eczema

One form of medical marijuana that a lot of people don’t think about it in lotions, creams, and salves.

In addition to those great anti-inflammatory properties that will naturally help treat your eczema, THC also has anti-itch and anti-microbial properties.

So a little bit of CBD cream before bed can go a long way in helping to get your eczema symptoms under control.

5. Many Uses for Diabetic Patients

People with diabetes have a hard time regulating their insulin levels. This is why diabetics always need to keep track of their blood sugar to make sure that it stays at a safe level.

Medical marijuana has been shown to help keep blood sugar levels stable, and to even cause them to produce more insulin and better regulate it.

Another big part of managing diabetes is to eat as healthy as possible to help keep your weight down. Marijuana can help with this, as it’s been linked to lower rates of obesity.

It’s important to work with a doctor to figure out the right dose and method of consumption. For instance, you’re not going to want to use a strain that increases your appetite, because that would only hurt your cause.

marijuana use for diabetes

6. Breaking Ground in Autism Research

Autism might be one of the last conditions you would think of when talking about medical marijuana, but in fact, a lot of exciting research has been done into its possible benefits.

Many people with autism have a hard time processing sensory details – lights, sounds, vibrations, smells, whatever is surrounding them. All of these things can become overwhelming to the point where they are unable to function or communicate.

Low doses of THC have been found to help people with autism be able to better process the things around them. It also helps them identify their bodies in space and time, which can be a challenge for many people.

Hope Grows for Autism is an organization started by Erica Daniels, the mother of a child with autism. Erica is advocating that more research needs to be done into the ways that medical marijuana can help people with autism.

7. Easing Menstrual Cramps

For all you ladies out there, one potential use for medical marijuana that you might not have considered is in helping to ease the pain of menstrual cramps. Because for some women they can be downright debilitating.

Whoopie Goldberg actually started her own line of marijuana-infused products that are aimed specifically at targeting menstrual cramps.

Her brand, Whoopie & Maya, sells a variety of things like tinctures, lotions and bath soaks, all designed to help you get through that time of the month with less pain.

The Possibilities for Medical Marijuana Don’t Stop There

There is research happening right now to see how medical marijuana can help people dealing with these conditions, as well as a wide range of other problems. The possible uses for medical marijuana continue to grow and become more clear as it is slowly legalized across the United States.

How is marijuana used for so many different ailments and illnesses? We’re not exactly sure, but it’s pretty amazing.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have about how you can use marijuana to treat conditions that are affecting you.

Study: Cannabis Inhalation Not Associated With COPD, Other Tobacco-Related Harms

London, United Kingdom: Cannabis smoke exposure, even long-term, is not positively associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, or irreversible airway damage, according to a literature review published in the journal Breathe.

British researchers reviewed nearly 20 observational studies assessing cannabis inhalation and lung health, involving over 25,000 subjects.

Investigators reported that the available literature fails to support an association between cannabis smoke exposure and the onset of COPD, emphysema, lung cancer, shortness of breath, or irreversible airway damage. “The long-term respiratory effects of cannabis differ from traditional smoking,” authors concluded. “[C]annabis smoking does not appear to be carcinogenic.”

Researchers did identify a link between marijuana inhalation and more frequent cough, sputum production, wheezing, and chronic bronchitis – though they acknowledged that these symptoms largely cease upon quitting. Authors also acknowledged that vaporizing cannabis – a process which activates cannabinoids, but does not heat them to the point of combustion – reduces many of these symptoms.

The study’s findings are similar to those of others reporting that cannabis smoke and tobacco smoke differ significantly in their health effects, and that long-term marijuana smoke exposure is not associated with poor lung health.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Marijuana and the lung: hysteria or cause for concern?”, appears in Breathe. See the NORML fact-sheet, “Cannabis Exposure and Lung Health.”

New study says CBD works best when combined with other cannabinoids

Many people know about the medical benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid found in marijuana. But it turns out taking CBD alone may not be the most effective way to get those benefits, writes Joseph Misulonas.

A study conducted over a four year period in Brazil examined how CBD helped patients with epilepsy. As with many other studies on the subject, the researchers found about two-thirds of people with otherwise untreatable epilepsy showed signs of improvement when given CBD.

But more interestingly, they found that patients who received CBD that included amounts of other cannabinoids such as THC were more likely to show improvement than people who received pure CBD with no other amounts of cannabinoids. 71 percent of patients who received CBD extracts that contained small amounts of other cannabinoids showed improvement, compared to only 36 percent of patients who received pure CBD.

This study would seem to prove the idea of the “Entourage Effect,” a theory among cannabis enthusiasts that all the different cannabinoids in marijuana work together to produce the ideal effect. For instance, the presence of CBD in marijuana helps temper some of the psychoactive effects of THC. But the Entourage Effect was mostly hypothetical and there wasn’t any real scientific research backing up until now.

This research is particularly noteworthy because some states without legalized medical marijuana do allow for CBD medications that contain little to no amounts of THC for people with severe cases of epilepsy. This study would suggest that those medications are not as effective as ones that do contain a stronger presence of other cannabinoids.

Canada: Why cannabis vape pens and concentrates are illegal

Cannabis vape pens can be found in several dispensaries across Vancouver. But after October 17, cannabis concentrates and vape pens will not be allowed.

Vape pens allow cannabis users to ingest concentrated extracts from the cannabis plant.

Cannabis concentrates usually consist of THC extract, or the less psychoactive component, CBD. They are sold in either liquid form or a waxy substance.

Vape pens are portable battery-powered devices.They are easy to use, do not produce any smoke and emit little odour.

“There’s also this perception that these vape pens for cannabis give a cleaner high because you aren’t inhaling burnt plant matter like you would if you were smoking a joint,” On the Coast‘s Greenlit columnist Rohit Joseph told host Gloria Macarenko.

But the government has not yet found a way to regulate these products.

Health Concerns

Cannabis concentrates are created by an industrial process, so they are not natural products. Chemicals are commonly used to extract the cannabis molecules from the flower and create the concentrates, according to Milloy

But there are some potential benefits, says Milloy. Getting a specific dose of cannabis is much easier with vape pens than by smoking it.

The black market

A California-based company called dosist legally manufactures vaporizing products. But while the company has an office in Vancouver, it only sells its products in California due to current regulations.

“If the government’s mandate is to protect children and stamp out the black market, this is the single biggest gift that the government could give the black market. To allow for certain forms of cannabis, and not all,” said Josh Campbell, president of dosist.

Campbell says the black market will move away from selling the cannabis flower, and begin creating oil, which has much higher value and concentration. Because concentrates are unregulated, the black market will have an opportunity to make money off of them.

In the California legal market, nearly a quarter of sales in 2016 were for cannabis vape cartridges, according to marijuana delivery service Eaze. In Washington state, dry bud sales fell to 61 per cent from 87 per cent in just two years of cannabis vape cartridges being available.

Campbell says he would not be surprised if cannabis vape pens and other concentrate products surpass the dry bud market within five years of recreational legalization.

In the meantime, those purchasing concentrates will be taking a risk, says Joseph. Consumers will have no assurance of what is in the products until they are regulated.

Canada: From hydroponics to robotics, a medical cannabis grower took StarMetro through his process from seed to harvest

Hydroponics, robotics, high-powered lights — growing weed on an industrial level is a serious business. But according to one local independent grower, getting cannabis to flower is as simple as tending to a house plant.

Tom Neumann, who has a medical licence to grow and consume on his farm in Ardrossan east of Edmonton, thinks anyone who is curious should give growing a shot when it becomes legal on Oct. 17. Each household is permitted to grow four plants.

“It’s no different than growing any other plant,” Neumann said. “My parents managed apartments when I was a kid, and my brother used to grow (marijuana plants) in the hallway.”

Neumann, who recently left the construction business, got a federal licence three years ago to treat arthritis and back pain. His wife also got a growing licence after she was diagnosed with cancer, and the couple started experimenting with oils that helped her through chemotherapy. She has since finished her treatments and recovered.

Neumann’s son also obtained a medical licence and grows on the family farm. Neumann has signed on as a designated grower for a young terminal cancer patient in the community.

Together, the family is legally allowed to grow 38 plants on the farm, where Neumann took StarMetro through his process. He said anyone can get started for $100. He starts growing seeds indoors under 400-watt high-pressure sodium lights, which he estimates add about $20 to his monthly power bill.

Seeds are available at head shops, although it is currently illegal to grow them at home unless you have a medical grower’s licence. At Jupiter on Whyte Ave. in Edmonton, packs of five can run for as low as $40 while a three-pack can go for up to $150, depending on a strain’s genetics and popularity.

Neumann starts each seed in its own pot and, in general, he says the bigger the pot, the bigger the plant. He prefers planting each seed in three- to five-gallon pots in soil with a peat moss base that is enriched with compost from his farm that consists mostly fruit and vegetable scraps.

Tom Neumann tends to some young cannabis plants at his legal home grow operation on Thursday near Ardrossan, Alta. 

It takes two to nine months from seed to harvest, depending on the strain, watering four times a week with grow lights trained on the plants for 12 hours a day.

Weather permitting, Neumann prefers to move the plants outside after six weeks, allowing the plants grow taller. Outdoor plants can produce as much as 10 times the yield of an indoor plant. His biggest plant right now stands at about five feet, but he expects it to grow as high as nine feet and produce a kilogram of pot.

The plants are cut down before the buds can flower and are hung up in his cool and dark basement to dry.

“You don’t want it too humid, you don’t want it too dry,” Neumann said, adding it’s important for growers to check them every day and feel the buds. Some growers say the leaves and buds can come off the stalk once the branches are dry enough to snap, but he personally prefers to cut it before they get to that point.

Curing comes next, which is done in sealed glass jars, and the weed is periodically “burped,” meaning the cap is unscrewed for an hour to let out humidity and gas and “get rid of the stinky stuff you don’t want.” He does this every day for the first week, and every third day for the next two weeks.

His 38 plants can produce up to 20 kilograms of marijuana a year.

He has a workshop in a shed for indoor growing, and a fenced-off area at the back of his vegetable garden for the outdoor plants. Finding the right care regime depends on each individual plant and its environment, as well as the grower’s preference.

Tom Neumann talks about some of his methods for growing cannabis at his legal home grow operation on Thursday near Ardrossan, Alta.
Tom Neumann talks about some of his methods for growing cannabis at his legal home grow operation on Thursday near Ardrossan, Alta.

“It’s practice. It’s like growing tomatoes,” he said. “If you plant the first seeds and they don’t grow, then next time they grow because you did it a little different. But it’s not difficult.” Growers can use cuttings of plants — called clones — instead of seeds, but Neumann said it’s trickier because a clone will put roots down from the side of a stem and grow sideways.

In six weeks, Neumann plans to launch an interactive web series called the “Grow Show” that will teach people around the world how to grow. He will live-stream the one-hour show on his website three times a week at 4:20 p.m. PT, a sly nod to 4:20 p.m. on April 20, the time and date that many Canadian pot enthusiasts set for a synchronized smoke.

He is already offering tips and promoting the show through Twitter.

Neumann has a two-year plan for his web series that will take people all the way through extracting oils and making edibles — a process that can be dangerous. There have been recorded cases in the United States where homes have caught on fire when residents tried to make their own concentrates using butane as a solvent.

He said disasters can happen when someone is using a gas burner, or sparking a cigarette while using butane in an enclosed space. But, he insisted, the process is simple and safe when done properly. “You’ve got a liquid fuel. Don’t be stupid, you can’t put it by a fire,” he said. “If you do it outside and use common sense, there’s no danger.”

Tom Neumann shows a male cannabis plant at his legal home grow operation on Thursday near Ardrossan, Alta.
Tom Neumann shows a male cannabis plant at his legal home grow operation on Thursday near Ardrossan, Alta.

Some are nervous over the prospect of homegrowing altogether. Realtor Darcy Torhjelm said homes that have been illegal grow-ops, where residents used hydroponics and additional electricity, often have rampant mould and mildew growth from the humidity and can be hard or impossible to resell.

While those grow-ops often had hundreds of cannabis plants intended for illicit sales, he still has concerns that even four-plant houses could cause problems for buyers and sellers.

“The idea is that four plants are like having potted plants in your house, but this is different because people are growing it with an expectation of getting something back out of it — more than just beautifying the house,” Torhjelm said. “I think the unknown is the problem.”

Anand Sharma, president of the Canadian Condominium Institute, shares some of those concerns. He said it’s possible some condos will ban growing, but it would require 75 per cent of owners to agree in writing to a bylaw change.

According to Service Alberta, landlords can choose to prohibit the growing of cannabis in rental agreements, meaning many low-income residents could be shut out. But Neumann said the homegrown debate is way overblown.

“They’re comparing it to the guys that were growing it for profit in the black market, so they were renting houses to be hidden away and illegally wiring (them) because they didn’t have enough power, and they were trying to grow 50 kilograms of pot.”

Since buying weed will be easy once it’s legal, some have speculated the market will be oversaturated by licensed producers and retail shops in October. As far as Neumann’s concerned, homegrown pot is superior to mass-produced cannabis, because the latter will be packaged, shipped and stored which could compromise its freshness and potency before it reaches the consumer.

“People laugh about homegrown weed,” he said. “There is no comparison, This is craft-grown weed, because I tend them every day with these two paws and these two eyes.”

Canada: Inside the debate over whether home growing should be legal

Prohibitionists say it brings crime and impacts home values, among other things. Cannabis lovers say it’s their right to grow their own medicine.

Wherever legalization arrives, home growing, along with edibles, is always among the most contentious topics.

Conservative communities worry about odors. Police consider home grows crime incubators since it’s easy for a hobbyist to go into business. Fire Departments, also with some justification, worry about the high-pressure light bulbs and the elaborate wiring growers use.

Nowhere has home grow kicked up more of a stink than in Canada where the newly passed legalization law, C-45, allows for the home growing of four plants.

Quebec lawmakers, who have been notably unenthusiastic about legalization, fought unsuccessfully to ban home growing nationally and banned it in its strict provincial law. Manitoba and Nunavut also banned it.

The federal law, as passed, does not allow provinces to opt out. Quebec has not ruled out a legal challenge and it’s possible the discrepancy between provincial and federal law will have to be resolved by the Supreme Court.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has been another major foe of home growing. In an April statement, CREA President Barb Sakkau said: “We’ve heard from homeowners and tenants across the country who are worried about living beside grow-ops. What does this do to their home value? Will this increase their rent? How safe will their kids be? Will their quality of life diminish because of the prevalence of drugs in their neighborhood?”

1 Inside the Debate Over Whether Home Growing Should Be Legal Inside the Debate Over Whether Home Growing Should Be Legal

CREA warns that even four plants can damage home values. It has also voiced concerns about home grows gestating mold and other blights. The trade group was not successful, however, in its April call for a national home grow moratorium until national regulations for the practice could be established.

In Canada, at least one industry leader has expressed skepticism about home growing. Rather than call for a ban on it, Bruce Linton, CEO of mega-grower Canopy Growth called it “good advertising” for his company, since, in his mind, homegrown product is nowhere near as good as Canopy’s.

Some experienced growers, however, disagree about the quality of homegrown product. To them, in order to ensure they consume exactly what they want to, they have to be the ones in control of the growing process. It’s an invasion for the government to consider taking that right away.

Lisa Campbell got her medical license to grow in 2013 when she was volunteering on an organic farm which was a designated grow. When she first got permission, she had a small patch of cannabis plants, including an L.A. Confidential strain, which she grew outside her modest trailer.

It’s cheaper to grow at home, she says, and “you can get high without depending on a major company.”

Jason Levin, co-founder of A Pot for Pot, a grow your own kit, says part of the reason home growing is so important now is because laws in California and Canada have cut out midsize growers, leaving primarily huge corporate farms. In Canada, there are a handful of large cultivators who got their starts in the medical market and are expected to dominate the recreational space too.

In California, an association of more than 1000 cannabis farmers recently filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture for granting 20 percent of its licenses to just 12 licensees. Meanwhile, experts predict both markets could experience weed shortages—California because it hasn’t opened enough testing facilities to process its legal cannabis and Canada because the supply simply won’t meet the demand.

2 Inside the Debate Over Whether Home Growing Should Be Legal Inside the Debate Over Whether Home Growing Should Be Legal

Marijuana consumers—especially patients—don’t want to have to rely on the market amid all this uncertainty. Additionally, many of them prefer to grow their own because, unlike what Canopy’s Linton asserts, they believe they grow better weed than a large corporation. They want to be able to grow the strain that works best for them, how they want to grow it. Many small growers, for example, are passionate about ensuring their bud is organic and sun-grown, something which some believe enhances terpene development. Large corporations often grow their bud indoors.

Larisa Bolivar, executive director of the non-profit Cannabis Consumers Coalition, has grown for most of the 17 years she’s been in the industry. For her, she says, home growing is “a quality control thing.”

“Growing your own is fun, cause it’s not that hard,” Levin said. “You can save money, you can smoke clean product. I can consume my medicine for next to nothing for a year, as opposed to paying $60 an eighth.”

For many too, home growing is deeper than saving some money or ensuring high-quality product. Growing cannabis—like growing anything else in one’s garden—is often described by longtime cultivators as a spiritual experience.

Tim Blake, the activist and grower who started The Emerald Cup, an annual cannabis harvest festival in California, has seen quite a few changes since he planted his first crop at 16. Growers, he said, have gone from hiding their hobby to posting about it on Instagram. Throughout this time he’s remained an advocate of home growing, especially when it’s powered by sunlight. He calls it, “A natural interaction with the plant, something magical.”

“People shouldn’t go to jail for growing a few plants for themselves,” Blake says. “That’s just the way we live in this country as a free and democratic society.”