Dear Legal Cannabis Business: Here’s What I’d Like You To Be When You Grow Up

Legal Cannabis is here and it is not going away. All those dire predictions of society’s collapse? Ummmm, not quite. Just the opposite actually.

As the coronavirus pandemic proves to us every day, some people can’t be dragged kicking & screaming to a good idea even if that good idea could save their life. Full cannabis legalization is a very good idea on myriad levels. Making it illegal in the first place — one of the worst decisions EVER.

It WAS a “decision” remember. We didn’t have to do this. We shouldn’t have. But, as I wrote about extensively in the 13 part series “Blunt Truths” that I wrote for WeedmapsNews, the story of cannabis prohibition is a story of racism and nothing but. The only reason first Commissioner of America’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger sought to make “marihuana” illegal was because white people started smoking it — and racist that he was, Anslinger could not tolerate a “colored vice” infecting white people. Here’s a basic fact: at no time in the process leading up to marijiuana’s “illegalization” did Anslinger EVER look to science or medicine to back him up. That’s because science & medicine (the AMA for example) disagreed with him. Completely.

Anslinger literally INVENTED “Reefer Madness” — the ludicrous notion that marijuana turns people in to raving lunatics. In the 1930’s, as cannabis use spread (following the African American jazz musicians heading north from New Orleans to Memphis, Nashville, Chicago), Anslinger (as America’s respected Narcotics Commissioner) would go to the newspapers and tell them — no, LIE to them — that black and Latino marijuana users were turning into drug-crazed killers who were selling their poison to school children. The newspapers would then dutifully report what the august Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics had told them — and Anslinger, in turn, would hold up those very newspapers as PROOF that what he was saying was true.

Anslinger’s problem: there’s no legal basis in the Constitution to criminalize cannabis. In fact, when America was founded, farmers were REQUIRED to grow hemp because it was that important a crop with multiple uses. Consequently, Anslinger was forced to circumvent the Constitution and the will of the people (via medical science) by creating “The Marijuana Tax Act Of 1937“. The act didn’t make marijuana illegal. It did however impose an onerous tax on the sale and purchase of hemp and marijuana. In order to prove that you paid the tax, you also had to have a stamp to verify your transaction. The stamp however was impossible to get.

Therefore, anyone who bought or sold hemp or marijuana — without paying the tax and without getting the stamp — was breaking the law. The first marijuana arrest came within 24 HOURS of the Tax Act’s passage. Samuel Caldwell of was arrested on October 23, 1937 in Colorado for buying a joint and not paying the tax. So it began.

Racism worked well for Anslinger for a long time. When racism’s spur began to wane however — after WWII when opiates began to wreck American lives in rising numbers (wars cause a lot of physical pain), Anslinger invented “The Gateway Theory” that said marijuana was a “gateway” to harder, worse drugs like heroin.

Mind you — to get to the idea that marijuana was a “gateway to worse” required the leap that marijuana wasn’t the scourge WORSE THAN HEROIN that Anslinger himself had TESTIFIED BEFORE CONGRESS that it was. But, hey — what’s a little perjury between racists, amiright? Especially when those racists are in Congress and legislating their racism.

The Gateway Theory became “accepted” as real. It’s not. Never was.

Then, in the late 60’s as the Vietnam War began to come apart — with tens of thousands of American troops returning with marijuana in their duffel bags — Richard Nixon declared “The War On Drugs”. Quick side note — as the African American jazz musicians in New Orleans had quickly learned, while one cannot create on alcohol or harder drugs like heroin, one becomes extraordinarily creative with THC in your brain. THC and alcohol do not work even remotely the same way when inside us.

American soldiers found that with a few hits of marijuana in them, as they went out on patrol, 1) they were calmer, more collected, 2) they were focused, 3) they were more sensually aware. Our thoughts occur as electric signals flowing across synapses. Our synapses are like digital circuits — they’re either opened or closed. Open they receive information, closed, they do not. THC causes more of our synapses to be open — and receiving information (visual, aural, taste, feel — whatever). That’s why people often feel paranoid when using cannabis. What they’re actually experiencing is an increased rush of information inside their heads. They perceive all that information coming in as someone watching them and knowing everything they’re doing.

If you don’t experience the paranoia reaction, that flow of information is nectar. Ambrosia. Gold dust.

This is the bottom line. Our brain chemistry and THC work extremely well together. Emphasis on the word “WORK”.

Here’s the part, Cannabis, where we talk about how you need to WORK for people.

For comparison’s sake, picture a sports stadium filled with people. Remember them? Remember what happened pretty regularly every time one of those stadiums drank too much and then spilled out onto the nearby streets?

Imagine how it might have been if, instead of drinking, those crowds had been using cannabis instead. No one’s rioting. No one’s fighting. At the end of the match, more likely, people are hugging (remember that) or high-fiving each other (opponents included) for having played so well and so hard. Cannabis does not make people angry or hostile the way alcohol does. We all know a few angry drunks.

I dare you to find an angry cannabis user. That is one of the reasons we use cannabis. To mitigate the triggers that make us angry and destructive. That’s why so many people use it now as part of their psychotherapy wellness regimens. I absolutely do.

The legalization process had myriad hurdles to clear. The largest unfortunately was marijuana’s bandit history. It sucks seeing the mom n pop cannabis shops die because the cost of all the regulations is so steep that only corporate players can survive. This is the price of moving cannabis from a criminal-owned-and-run business to a legitimate business that plays by The Rules.

There’s no middle ground sadly. There shouldn’t be a need for a “middle ground” but history forces things on us that reason would prevent. For now, we’ll have to endure over-regulation of the business side (who can sell, how can they sell, in what quantities, in what format) until we achieve a “critical mass” of acceptance where we realize that the overwhelming majority of our caution and regulations weren’t necessary. There’s more money to be made — via tax dollars — by letting the legitimate, mainstream marijuana marketplace find its way.

A big “for instance” — I sometimes use edibles at night. I do smoke indicas every night before bed. I used to use over-the-counter sleeping aids like Simply Sleep. But the sleep was never very good; I always awoke from what sleep I got groggy and lethargic. From the day I switched over to medical cannabis instead (I have and keep a prescription), I have slept wonderfully most nights. The smoked cannabis is great for getting me to sleep and keeping me asleep for a few hours. If I want longer sleep — that’s when edibles are good — as an add-on to the smoked cannabis.

If we were talking any pharmaceutical product, it wouldn’t even be a thought that someone with no involvement in my medication-taking would be telling me how much of a dose I can take vs how much I can’t. Prior to the crack-down on legit dispensaries here in CA, one could buy edibles with huge THC levels (pot brownies with 1000 milligrams of THC in them). Now — because of the regs — everything’s capped at 100 mg of THC. Why? No reason. Someone chose a number and there we are.

This is what I’m talking about, Legal Cannabis Business. That’s bullshit and YOU (especially you) know it.

It’s not the legal cannabis business itself that’s causing itself (and all us legal users) frustration and heartache. Yes, heartache, because cannabis IS a medicine. I use it not only for sleep but to moderate of my hypomania. I am bi-polar. I use 25 mg of lamotrigine a day to manage my depression. To manage the manic side of my brain — I use THC. It works. It works over short periods of time so that I’m never waiting to “come off it” when I need to. Hell, at any point, if I did feel I’d consumed too much THC (this has never happened to me and I doubt it ever will), I can always down a little CBD to eliminate the THC’s impact.

When you grow up, Cannabis Business, I need you to see yourself in a multi-faceted way befitting your multi-facted uses.

You need to position yourselves not so much as an adjunct to alcohol use (one really shouldn’t use the two concurrently as they cancel out each others’ effects — it’s really just humans being piggy about their indulgences), but as AN ALTERNATIVE. In the three years since I’ve stopped drinking (the lamotrigine gives all alcohol a grapefruit skin aftertaste making it completely unpalatable — an unintended, unexpected side effect), my eyes have been opened about alcohol: we (myself included when I drank) abuse the hell out of it. For real.

Cannabis also needs to get way better at messaging. It’s a big ask, I know, but the science is on cannabis’ side here. We need to get straight on something — since alcohol and THC act very differently in our brains, it follows that alcohol and THC impact us differently when we, say, get behind the wheel of a car. Alcohol impairs our motor skills. There’s data. THC? There’s no such data.

Let me be clear — where cannabis data is concerned, there’s far more we don’t know than we do. When they measure THC in experiments, they treat it as a generic when the way that THC acts in my brain depends entirely on the rest of the package it entered with (its terpene structure). Speaking entirely for myself here — since I can only speak from personal experience (365 days X 7 years of daily data gathering) — I become MORE physically coordinated with THC in my brain than when I don’t have it in me.

Example — I play tennis (well, I did before quarantine). I smoke cannabis before I play (and often during). The sativa Durban Poison is my preference. Within a few moments of a hit, after a feeling of calm descends on me, my brain focuses. The calm slows me down. The focus allows me to see the tennis ball with remarkable clarity. I can literally see the fuzz and the spin on the ball as it speeds toward me. I can break down the timing with precision. Move now. Racket back. Choose a spot across the net. Step into the shot. Follow through. Move to where you expect the “reaction shot” to go.

I just don’t play that way without the DP in my brain. I play appreciably better because I’m more focused. Alcohol does not work that way.

Just as sativas focus my brain for tennis, they focus my brain for work. Remember all those black jazz musicians from New Orleans. Louis Armstrong was one of marijuana’s first great champions (until the man took it away from him and put him in jail).

I drive with THC in me all the time (on the few occasions when I drive anymore). Hell, when we (used to) go to parties or out to dinner? My wife drinks alcohol. She’ll drive TO the party or bar and then I (because I don’t drink) do the drive home. I will have been smoking at some point during the evening. Keep in mind — marijuana doesn’t do to me what alcohol does to you. I’m not slurring my speech at the end of the night. I’m not bumping into things.

The National Highway Transportation Administration aches to tell us cannabis use causes traffic accidents. But read their own analysis of their own methodology — BEFORE looking at any numbers they throw down:

“Compared to that of alcohol, the contributions of other drugs to crash risk were minimal. In the initial data analysis, THC seemed to be a significant contributor to crash risk. However, with more sophisticated analysis controlling for variables known (based on previous research) to be associated with age, gender, race/ethnicity, and alcohol, drugs did not show a significant crash risk. The findings from this study may be surprising in light of some studies that have reported crash risk to be significantly related to drug use and driving.”

The moment you do “sophisticated analysis”, “drugs do not show a significant crash risk”. Bias shows more risk than the cannabis does.

Another NHTSA document “Marijuana-Impaired Driving: A Report To Congress” makes THIS statement:

Challenges in Estimating Crash Risk from Drug Use Conducting case-control studies to estimate the risk of crash involvement from drug use presents many difficulties. The first challenge is obtaining reliable and accurate estimates of drug use. Many studies rely on self-reporting (which have obvious inherent problems) rather than actual measurement of THC in blood or oral fluid. Also, the extent of care regarding the matching of crash-involved and control drivers varies to a large extent among studies. The more carefully controlled studies, that actually measured marijuana (THC) use by drivers rather than relying on self-reporting, and that had a high degree of control of covariates that could bias the results, generally show low risk estimates or in a few cases no risk associated with marijuana use (Elvik, 2013).

Another recent report published by the National Institute of Health says this:

Although cognitive studies suggest that cannabis use may lead to unsafe driving, experimental studies have suggested that it can have the opposite effect. 

And, in conclusion, it also says this:

Because of… an increased awareness that they are impaired, marijuana smokers tend to compensate effectively for their impairment by utilizing a variety of behavioral strategies such as driving more slowly, passing less, and leaving more space between themselves and cars in front of them. Combining marijuana with alcohol eliminates the ability to use such strategies effectively, however…

If we compare apples to apples — marijuana smoking to marijuana smoking and not stupid male behavior (per the studies) or stupid behavior combined with alcohol consumption to marijuana smoking — a very different picture of cannabis, cannabis use and cannabis users emerges.

A little while ago I went to the first cannabis cafe that opened here in LA. It was AWESOME! Strange, too. In such an atmosphere, one expects to hear the hush of human voices and laughter — and the clinking of glasses. That’s missing here. The “CLINK!” because no one is toasting each other.

But the voices are there. And the laughter. But the laughter doesn’t have that increasingly manic edge that comes after alcohol use. Instead, the voices and laughter had an intimacy to them. No one needed to shout. Everyone was cool and sober and social and feeling good. The cannabis made the food taste really, really good — as cannabis (which, remember, is feeding more sensual input to your brain) invariably does.

And then, when the meal was done (diners were allotted 90 minutes and then given the heave-ho cos people were waiting to get in), just about all of us went out to the parking lot, got our keys from the valet guy, got into our cars and drove away. Some of us went home but others WENT BACK TO WORK.

Here’s the key. We drove out of the parking lot — every single one of us — with THC pumping through our brains — and (to my knowledge) not a one of us had an accident. If there WERE a string of accidents, we’d all know about it. But there weren’t. And there aren’t. That’s because cannabis effects our brains differently from how alcohol effects them.

There’s actual data — from the government no less — from the National Highway Safety Bureau that backs this up. When they actually measure how cannabis effects people behind the wheel, what they invariably get is this: while alcohol makes people drive erratically, changing speeds, swerving from their lane, cannabis has the exact opposite effect. The data says people with THC in them maintain the speed limit (consistently) and they stay in their lanes. They keep safe following distances.

In other words, unlike with alcohol, cannabis users drive mindfully.

But then, cannabis users mostly know this about cannabis. We know what cannabis does for us — and what it doesn’t do. We know how good it makes us feel and we know how productive we can be with cannabis in us.

The large and growing number of us who use and enjoy and rely on cannabis — we know for a fact that everything we were ever told about this product is bullshit. Yes, yes, yes — cannabis isn’t good for everyone. It’s not good for kids to use. And not everyone drives well on cannabis (they might not drive well without cannabis in them — the cannabis might not be the issue with their bad driving). Nothing in this world is uniform or perfect. Not even physics.

The cannabis business, being a business — will do what it needs to do to stay a business. They will respond to whatever they perceive the marketplace for its product to be. If we act like a mature, responsible, data-driven market, the cannabis business will eventually catch up with us.

First though, we have to get the rest of the culture on board with us — with the truth. I guess what I’m saying is, it isn’t so much the cannabis biz that needs to grow up here, it’s us.

Dispatches From The War On Drugs — Is That Marijuana We Smell? Or “Surrender”?

I took marijuana to an airport yesterday — out in the open. Here’s what happened…

I never imagined I would become a warrior in the War On Drugs. I definitely never imagined that cannabis would touch my life so profoundly that I’d take up its cause with a Kamakazi’s zeal.

For reference’s sake — I wasn’t into pot when I was in high school. The handful of times I tried it, it put me right to sleep. Same all the way through college. I preferred cocaine. Speed worked better with my hypomania. At least, I thought it did at the time. I preferred ecstasy. Even psybocilin the one time I tried it. And, of course, there was always always ALWAYS alcohol.

Then Life happened. Ups, downs and everything in between. By the time I reached my mid 50’s, I was depressed and getting more so. Sleep was getting hard to come by. I had no interest in taking Ambien — knowing how my mind worked, that pretty much guaranteed I’d snap to from a fugue state in some strange, public place, completely naked. Wasn’t gonna happen.

I’d been taking Simply Sleep knock off’s for years. Occasionally I would get some sleep from it. Mostly it just made me groggy the next morning and screwed with my short term memory. Living in California, (back before full legalization), I had access to medical marijuana. Being at the very end of my tether, I found a doctor nearby who prescribed.

It wasn’t illicit — but it felt illicit. That’s how powerful bullshit is. “What’s your issue?” “Insomnia,” I said. I began to explain but he held up his hand. Not necessary. He wrote the prescription on his computer, printed it and handed it to me. Short $69, I walked out the door.

Next stop — my local dispensary — located almost literally under a freeway overpass. The only thing it needed to be a full on crime scene was the yellow police tape. I filled out their extensive paperwork. Showed them my California picture ID and my RX. I was buzzed through to the “showroom”, a few old display cases with pipes, bongs, papers, the few edibles then on the market (Cheeba Chews mostly) and a dozen large jars filled with cannabis flower.

My first budtender (I didn’t know he was called that then) welcomed me like I was a “customer” or something. The whole experience — that first time especially was surreal (something about it remains surreal). “Insomnia,” I said.

“Skywalker,” said my Budtender. As he went for the Skywalker jar, my immediate thought was “cute name”. I had no idea — zilch — that Skywalker wasn’t just a “name”, it was a genuine cannabis strain — a known quantity with known effects if you smoked it. It wasn’t the product of a bunch of stoners stumbling upon a plant that made the dope they liked, it was a hybridized product of serious work by serious people. Skywalker was a kind of “brand”. In theory, Skywalker was as reproducible a product as a Big Mac.

My Budtender offered me the jar — so I could smell it. Yup. Smelled like dope. I bought two grams. Took them home, intensely curious about what the dried flower in the plastic vile would do to me that night. I’d already bought a small glass pipe and a lighter. I didn’t have a grinder. Didn’t know I needed one.

I was as green as the Skywalker in the vial in my hand. But, that night, I ground up some of the leaves between my fingertips, snuck outside and smoked it. It didn’t take long — a few minutes — before a feeling of calm came over me. My hypomanic mind slowed down. Then sleep beckoned. Usually, I had to go hunting for it. But, with Skywalker’s THC now in my brain, sleep came looking for me. As I slipped into bed beside my wife, the feeling of sleepiness became downright delicious.

All I remember after that is waking up the next morning, feeling RESTED for the first time in… forever. In time (subjects for other blog posts), I’d learn that cannabis wasn’t just for bedtime. I was buying from one jar at the dispensary. What was in all the others?

Turned out cannabis could be genuinely useful first thing in the morning, too. Turned out pretty much EVERYTHING I knew or thought about cannabis was absolutely wrong. And the more I corrected that problem — the more I learned about cannabis — why it was “illegalized” (check out my series Blunt Truths at Weedmaps News) — the more I learned about the differences between indicas, sativas and hybrids — the more I found that cannabis & me were, in myriad ways, soul mates.

I’d even say we’re “buds”.

Back to my airport story… A few days ago, I traveled from LA to visit family on the East Coast.

In California, cannabis is legal. Because I’m over 21, I can walk around with 28.5 grams of cannabis flower in my possession (I can also have 8 grams of marijuana concentrate — I can even possess six living cannabis plants at my private residence. In California, these are my constitutional rights.

I can possess the flower and concentrate at my house, on the street, in my car (so long as I’m not actually using it then and there, mind you) and — still Constitutionally legal — at the airport. Until I board the airplane — where the FAA and the Federal government have jurisdiction — the weed in my possession is 100% legal.

So — I’m at LAX the other day. I know my rights here in California. I intended to travel some of cannabis with me to the east for personal consumption. The place I was going — another state where cannabis is legal. I know for a fact, as I go through the TSA security line that the vials of cannabis flower in clear view in my carry on bags (I now grind my flower and put it into 5 or 10 dram vials that I label with the strain’s name & type — there will be no mistaking what’s in those vials). I also was traveling with clearly marked edibles. I did not repackage my THC gummy worms with store-bought ones (as one normally does).

Quick footnote — on the day cannabis went fully legal in Nevada, an interesting phenomenon happened. The dispensaries all ran out of edibles. This happened principally because Nevada made a deal with the devil (in this case the liquor distributors who, shocking, did not have their shit together on Day One like they promised to); all re-stocking of retail supply had to be handled by the liquor distributors. Dumb, dumb, dumb. BUT – the phenomenon part is this: most of the sales, it’s believed, were made to non-Nevadans — tourists — who were about to get onto airplanes with loads of THC — in their food.

The wide availability of THC in food that looks exactly like non-THC food changes the game with no going back. It’s unpolice-able. Now that semi-legalization has unleashed all that THC-inspired creativity, there aren’t too many formats THC won’t take going forward. I’m not saying I’ve broken the law and traveled with THC-laced food in the past, but, I might know one or two people who have.

Being a “Have a plan B in your pocket” kind of person, I prepared myself in case the TSA agent understood the law “differently”. I drew plan B from my pocket when my computer backpack got flagged and pulled aside for a hand inspection.

I stepped up to the counter — not anxious so much as wary (I already had lots of THC in me). The TSA agent saw — and moved right past the 5 vials clearly containing cannabis — to the (I thought it was empty) water bottle that was there, too. There was an ounce of water left inside it. I needed to either lose the water bottle or leave my bags with my young adult kids, exit the secure area, dump the water and go through security again — water bottle in hand.

I’ve had this water bottle for a while. It’s a good water bottle. It’s my tennis water bottle. I’m not ditching it because I overlooked a few swallows of water. I left my bags with my kids and did the whole security dance again. Then I carried on through the airport to my gate — water bottle & cannabis still in my possession.

I saw the future — where cannabis was normal and, to a degree already, normalized. It was awesome.

Better than awesome. It was sane.

It’s CRIMINAL That Cannabis Was Ever Criminalized

I believe — actual life experience being my data set — that my life is better in myriad ways with cannabis IN it than WITHOUT it. If I separate my personal experience with cannabis from cannabis’ story here in America (its demonization and prohibition for entirely racist reasons), I see a natural product — minimally processed (especially if you grow it yourself which anyone can do) — that 1) gives me a quality of sleep that no OTC sleep med ever delivered, 2) mitigates my hypo-mania while 3) improving my focus exponentially and, bonus, makes me a far, far better 4) tennis player and (frankly) 5) driver.

There’s actually lots of data compiled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that backs me up about cannabis’ actual effect on driving. Look past the report’s inherent upfront bias — where it states how impactful cannabis is on driving performance — to where it deals in actual data. The actual data about cannabis’ impact on driving abilities says “Experienced smokers who drive on a set course show almost no functional impairment under the influence of marijuana, except when it is combined with alcohol.”

Further: “Several reviews of driving and simulator studies have concluded that marijuana use by drivers is likely to result in decreased speed and fewer attempts to overtake, as well as increased “following distance”. The opposite is true of alcohol.” Cannabis made drivers drive more safely. There’s a giant flaw in all of this research however. A giant one. The research assumes that all cannabis is created equal. It’s not. An indica’s impact is very different a sativa’s. Skywalker will put you to sleep while Durban Poison will focus you like a laser.

I’d like to see the same research done with users on different types of cannabis. I won’t hold my breath.

We currently treat cannabis the same as we do alcohol — as if its impact on our brains was exactly the same. That’s nonsense. Scientifically speaking — it’s total nonsense. THC does not work on or in our brains the way alcohol does.

The reason black jazz musicians in New Orleans gravitated toward cannabis in the 1920’s when it first appeared there was that, whereas alcohol and every other drug dulled their creativity, cannabis sparked it. Yes, yes, there are feelings of euphoria. But there’s also an increased awareness of all the details around you. You hear more, see more, smell and taste more. Fact — food when THC is pumping through you can taste extraordinary.

My creative day begins with cannabis. I like to ease into the work day with GG4 and coffee. I usually have MSNBC on in one ear via satellite. I hear nuances in the voices. I hear the awkward pauses and the extra twists of inside-dish-snarkiness. Getting serious starts as the coffee finishes — with a sativa. Durban Poison is a regular; I love its clean, even-keeled focus. Consistent clarity. Clementine is another terrific daytime work sativa. Ditto Super Lemon Haze.

For maintenance of a working “high” (it’s not a “high”, it’s focus — good, solid, intense focus), I also use Pineapple Express and Silver Back. But the hands down best “Go For Broke” workday strain is the hybrid Trainwreck. A Trainwreck reviewer said once that it made them want to clean their house with a toothbrush — that’s how focused it made them. Yeah — that’s about right. The one drawback to Trainwreck though — unlike the other strains — there is a sleepy patch on the downslope side of the high. Nothing a five minute cat nap won’t resolve.

Even before I discovered cannabis late, late in life (it only ever put me to sleep when I was younger — which held minimal appeal then), I wanted to tell the story of Harry Anslinger and cannabis’ criminalization. When a journalist friend became an editor at Weedmaps’ News division — and asked me to write for them — I offered up my deep dive into Anslinger — and Blunt Truths was born.

I’m biased, of course, but I recommend Blunt Truths unequivocally.

The Blunt Truth is that we did something terrible to ourselves when we let prigs and sanctimonious racists bamboozle us into thinking cannabis caused people of color to rape white women. As my own research revealed — at no point in cannabis’ illegalization did ever of the illegalizers ever ask or even conduct experiments demonstrating whether cannabis WAS actually good or bad for its users.

That’s what makes what we did so profoundly wrong. It’s not for everyone. Can we please accept that nothing is good for everyone? But its benefits so far outweigh its negatives that — it WAS criminal to have criminalized cannabis. It was extra criminal to criminalize the people who used it — or sold it or bought it or grew it or sold products related to it as Tommy Chong did (for which he was imprisoned — and check out my experience of getting high with Tommy here).

I am grateful — truly grateful — that cannabis is in my life. My wish is that it can be a part of everyone’s life (everyone who wants it to be of course). If more people smoked more dope, more people would be more sane in this world. That’s experience talking.

My Cannabis Journey: How THC Is Saving My Life Every Day

Okay — that’s probably hyperbole. I could remove THC from my life and continue living exactly as I am. But, because I live in California, I have a choice — and I choose to use cannabis for a boatload of very good reasons.

I turned to cannabis as a last resort. I wasn’t a big cannabis user in high school or college. If it was there, I did it but it always put me to sleep. Cocaine (by the time I got to college) was the drug of choice. When I think of all the time and money spent chasing an ethereal dragon — a moment or two of exhilaration followed by more lines, more bumps, more angsting about why the high wasn’t kicking like it was supposed to — I want to scream at myself. I wouldn’t have turned to cannabis instead. Being young and stupid, I wouldn’t have listened to myself.

In later life, restful sleep became hard to come by. I took OTC sleep meds for years — Simply Sleep mostly or its knock-offs. These are actually antihistamines. Sleep is a side effect. So is memory loss.

Between deep depression & memory loss — compounded by lack of sleep because the pills were only occasionally efficacious — I was on a downward spiral. I finally broke down and went for a cannabis prescription. What’d I have to lose, I asked myself. Dope was legal. Dope had always put me to sleep in the past. The worst that could happen was exactly what was already happening.

As some of you may know, I’ve written a 13-part series of articles for WeedmapsNews called “Blunt Truths“. The series delves into the mythology America’s first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, invented out of whole cloth to gain his little bureau (started in 1930) the money, manpower and mandate Anslinger wanted. I walked in the door of that first dispensary in Silver Lake, my head filled with Harry Anslinger’s bullshit mythology.

Virtually everything I knew about cannabis — aside from the fact that, in the past, it had put me to sleep — was based on lies (except I didn’t know it yet). I told my first budtender that I was there because of insomnia.

His immediate reply: “Skywalker”.

I chuckled at the name — thinking to myself, “Cute”. I had no idea that cute as the name was, Skywalker was not this one shop’s attempt at clever marketing. Skywalker is a recognized cannabis strain that is grown all over. The people who first started growing and working with Skywalker wanted to create a consistent plant with consistent qualities. The goal of the cannabis industry is to make Skywalker (or any established strain) as consistent a product as a Big Mac. Of course there will be variations from plant to plant — it’s a plant, not a robot. Or a Big Mac.

I’ve come to think of cannabis as a cross between a Big Mac and a good cabernet sauvignon clone. Just as the cab grape is bred, cross-bred and hybridized to bring out certain qualities while minimizing others, so, too, are cannabis strains manipulated. There’s more to cannabis than just its THC or CBD. There is a whole host of other active chemicals in cannabis — terpenes that give cannabis its flavor but also deliver a range of other distinct effects.

Mycrene, for instance, has a relaxing, calming, anti-spasmodic and sedative effect. Combined with THC, mycrene increases THC’s psychoactive potential. Limonene’s presence produces a distinct citrus smell to the cannabis it calls home. Limonene also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. This description comes from the web site Alchima — “It prevents the deterioration of the RAS gene, one of the factors that contribute to the development of tumors. It also protects against Aspergillus and carcinogens present in smoke. Limonene quickly and easily penetrates the blood-brain barrier, which increases systolic pressure. During testing on the effects of limonene, participants experienced an increase in attention, mental focus, well-being and even sex drive. Limonene is used sometimes in spray form, to treat depression and anxiety. It also has the effect of reducing the unpleasantness of gastric acid and stimulates the immune system. Plants use limonenes to ward off predators; for example, it repells flies like any insecticide.”

I had no idea whatsoever that these attributes existed or were a very real part of the product I was so tentatively sniffing, my budtender extending a giant mason jar filled with Skywalker buds toward me. I bought a couple of grams. Took them home and (before I had the sense to purchase a grinder), broke off little, sappy bits of leaf that I stuffed into the cheap little glass pipe I also bought.

In one night, I went from being a problematic sleeper to a half decent sleeper. I still sleep too few hours but the quality of my sleep went from broken and restless to deeply satisfying. Whereas I used to wake up every morning feeling exhausted as my feet found the floor, now I get up ready for whatever. In time, I learned how to use edibles; a combination of smoked flower and edibles produces as much as 7 hours of rock solid, restful sleep.

So — right off the bat, cannabis brought a positive impact to my life that Big Pharma couldn’t. A healthful effect.

On subsequent visits to that first dispensary, I grew curious. I loved the Skywalker. What was in all those other mason jars? That’s when I learned the difference between indicas, sativas and hybrids. And, yes — there is a marked difference.

For the uninitiated — indicas (the majority of available strains by a long shot) are the strains most people know about or have experienced. They induce euphoria, bliss and sleep. Sativas, on the other hand, produce euphoria, bliss and mental focus. Hybrids combine sativa and indica qualities or multiple sativa qualities or multiple hybrid qualities.

Let me describe my first experience with the hybrid Dutch Treat. Keep in mind — these are psychoactive drugs that work differently inside each of us depending on our individual brain chemistry. The first feeling is warm syrup coating everything. It doesn’t create distance, it just swathes everything in contentment. A feeling of evenness and calm. Whatever comes at me, I can handle it. This was followed by a sense of my mind coming into focus. Or focusing on everything around it.

Our thoughts are created when electricity flows between synapses in our brains. Our synapses are like digital circuits. They’re either open or closed. The more synapses that are open — the more information our brains are receiving. THC causes more synapses to be open rather than closed. The reason some people feel paranoid is because so much more information is coming at them. That sudden influx of more info and raw data than they’re used to can feel oppressive. Though the info is disembodied, we attach a body to it — we feel like we’re being spied on by “someone” who seems to “know” more about us than we’re comfortable with. It’s not an outside person “spying” on us of course — it’s just us processing more information.

For whatever reason, my brain (like a lot of peoples’) doesn’t react to all that additional information with paranoia. Instead, I feel as if I’m more aware. My thoughts are clearer, cleaner. More cogent. The reason jazz musicians took up cannabis back in the early 20th century is because all those clear, clean thoughts can be translated into music. Or, in my case, words.

Dutch Treat made me incredibly productive — not in a coked-out, shotgun kind of way but in a focused, electron-microscope kind of way. Dutch Treat was the tip of an iceberg I’ve come to adore and rely on.

I’m hypomanic (as I’ve written here). The inside of my head is like a black box theater (think of a shoebox, painted all black inside). Walk through the door and you’ll find a dozen or more movies being projected from every conceivable angle. Some are color. Others black and white or even sepia. They’re old movies, ideas, memories. Laser lights flash on and off, too — and music and sound. It’s quite a show — but distracting as hell. While indicas shut it all down, putting me to sleep, sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids, merely slow it all down. Rather, the THC drops a kind of mental scrim in front of most of the projections, giving me the chance to focus on two or three at a time — so I can work productively.

In time — with lots of experimentation — I made strains like Durban Poison, GG4, Clementine and Pineapple Express part of my daily THC regimen. I start my work day around 5 am — with a little coffee and a good solid hit of GG4 (formerly Gorilla Glue #; they had to stop calling it that cos the Gorilla Glue company threatened to sue). Between the coffee, the GG4 and the Durban Poison, the world comes into very sharp relief.

Let’s be clear. Just like no one thing is uniformly good for everyone, cannabis isn’t for everyone. But I bet it’d be good for far more people than even currently use it. Hell — if they stopped selling beer at sporting events and sold cannabis instead, there would never be another riot following a sports match. There would, however, be lots of hugging and high-fiving.

Maybe some sleeping, too.

Not A Revelation: The War On Drugs Was An Exercise In Naked Racism Top To Bottom

I’ll apologize up front for doing a little cross pollination here — citing the series I just finished over at weedmapsnews.com: “Blunt Truths“. It’s about the deep down dirty truth behind the 100% pure racist illegalization of cannabis. At no point in the process did anyone EVER ask the question “But, is cannabis actually bad for anyone?” because its impact on anyone’s health was never the point of the exercise.

Who was smoking cannabis was the point. Mexicans at first in the Southwest US. After the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, a wave of Mexican war emigrees brought cannabis with them; it was part of their culture. White Americans were unfamiliar with this thing these Mexicans were smoking. Because it was different, cannabis, it scared the White Americans shitless.

The first anti-cannabis legislation was enacted in 1915 in California — written more or less by the California Pharmacology lobby who insisted cannabis was a dangerous substance right up there with heroin. When Harry Anslinger became America’s first Commissioner of the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, he saw no threat in cannabis specifically because the only people smoking it (or even aware that it existed) were Mexicans. But — after cannabis use spread to New Orleans — where black jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong had taken it up because it made creating music so much more intense & satisfying — and then up the Mississippi to Memphis, Nashville, Chicago and the white world — things changed in Anslinger’s mind. White people using marijuana was a whole other question.

Anslinger saw in marijuana a way to generate money and manpower for his young, under-funded, under-manned agency. To get at that money and manpower, Anslinger invented first the whole racist marijuana mythology and then – when racism began to be less efficient — the “gateway theory” which justified continued cannabis prohibition because marijuana use invariably led to heroin addiction. Not a word of it was true.

When journalist Dan Baum interviewed Nixon henchman John Erlichman 19994 for Harpers, Ehrlichman forthrightly explained Nixon’s strategy regarding cannabis: “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.”

One caveat though to seeing Harry Anslinger as a racist, pure & simple: it’s not true. Anslinger WAS a racist. But he also was a very talented bureaucrat. We overlook that fact about Anslinger at our peril. Anslinger’s racism was aided and abetted by his skill at turning his racism into 1) marijuana mythology and 2) legislation that criminalized huge chunks of the American population.

Dear CNN & MSNBC: Your Problem Is Simple — You Suck At FRAMING

How you tell a story is almost as important as the story itself.

The moment you fade in on your narrative, you frame it. You establish a point of view — even if its strict neutrality. And strict neutrality is rarely as neutral as it thinks it is. That, too, is a framing problem.

If you report a lie — without framing it as a lie — it’s perceived as the truth. When you sit a climate scientist next to a climate denier on a set and shoot them 50-50, you’re framing their conversation as a 50-50 — literally. The visual language says these two points of view are being represented on the screen in their proportional likelihood of truthfulness. At 50-50 — to judge by the framing — either could be right.

Quick side note, CNN & MSNBC — A more truthful, accurate screen representation would have the climate scientist occupying 99% of the screen and the denier getting roughly 1% — not because what he’s saying is 1% valid but for shits n giggles. I want to experience a climate denier shouting (at 1% of the audio mix too) into the wind as the wind devours them. See? I just framed a cruel streak in myself. I like to mock stupid people. And I think people who frame things badly are stupid.

Every time the Main Stream Media tell a story that’s framed incorrectly, they lead us further astray — and further down the authoritarian rabbit hole. The whole point of making the Truth hard to know starts with FRAMING IT THAT WAY. By “framing” the Truth as “hard to know”, those unwilling to question that assertion will now accept as truth that the Truth is beyond them. And all it took to get there was dishonest framing.

If you frame abortion as “baby-killing”, you’re framing it dishonestly. If you frame hunting as “sport”, you’re framing it dishonestly (you’re murdering animals for fun — admit it — the animal would tell you that’s what’s happening). If you frame

The fact that Donald Trump became president and is still president is a failure of framing. The CORRECT framing of Donald Trump was obvious the moment he rode down that escalator in that whorehouse of a building of his and announced that Mexicans are rapists. Trump framed himself as a racist. A few days later we heard him frame himself as a rapist, too, whose wealth apparently gave him permission to sexually assault women at will. Donald Trump framed himself as a criminal every time he bankrupted a casino. Everyone with a brain knew he’d been laundering money for the Russian mob. The proper frame for Donald Trump has always been a “thing”.

And yet… Our news media framed Trump differently. They stuck racism and bigotry and rapey behavior IN the frame (in a corner) but they didn’t use them to FRAME the way THEY were “telling” Donald Trump. In spite of the honest way Trump himself was framing himself, the media insisted on framing Trump as the imaginary character that had been created for him by Mark Burnett so as to make “The Apprentice” make sense.

As we now know, The Art Of The Deal wasn’t just utter bullshit, it was the utterest bullshit. While Trump was putting his name on Tony Schwartz’s writing, he was on his way to losing 1.7 billion dollars. A more honest framing of the book would have been The Art Of Near Total Failure.

I just wrote the last installment of a series called Blunt Truths for Weedmaps news — about the true story of cannabis prohibition. Yes — it was racism start to finish. But the way Harry Anslinger — America’s first Commissioner of Narcotics used racism to frame cannabis was a stroke of dark public relations genius that’s still haunting us. Even as cannabis is legalized, it’s still drenched in the bullshit mythology Anslinger created for it. We still frame cannabis from the point of view of a racist lie.

Every time a Hallie Jackson or an Alex Witt or a Chris Matthews goes to commercial with a tease that asks “Was the FBI SPYING on the Trump Campaign?” they’re literally FRAMING the story from THE CRIMINAL’S POINT OF VIEW. Think about it. The FBI wasn’t spying, they were carrying out a legitimate counter-intelligence investigation because good, solid evidence fairly shouted that Trump was owned by the Russians — but MSNBC is still FRAMING the story as SPYING because that’s what the subject of the investigation — the guy owned by the Russians — calls it.

It’s ludicrous. It happens every damned day.

Terrible framing is why so many of us remain in a constant stage of agita. We expect the Fourth Estate — as part of its Constitutionally mandated responsibility — to be the final check on power. To do that, they need to acknowledge that indeed that IS their responsibility.

I bet if they framed it that way to themselves, they’d get better at their jobs immediately.

Dear CNN & MSNBC: Your Problem Is Simple — You Suck At FRAMING

How you tell a story is almost as important as the story itself.

The moment you fade in on your narrative, you frame it. You establish a point of view — even if its strict neutrality. And strict neutrality is rarely as neutral as it thinks it is. That, too, is a framing problem.

If you report a lie — without framing it as a lie — it’s perceived as the truth. When you sit a climate scientist next to a climate denier on a set and shoot them 50-50, you’re framing their conversation as a 50-50 — literally. The visual language says these two points of view are being represented on the screen in their proportional likelihood of truthfulness. At 50-50 — to judge by the framing — either could be right.

Quick side note, CNN & MSNBC — A more truthful, accurate screen representation would have the climate scientist occupying 99% of the screen and the denier getting roughly 1% — not because what he’s saying is 1% valid but for shits n giggles. I want to experience a climate denier shouting (at 1% of the audio mix too) into the wind as the wind devours them. See? I just framed a cruel streak in myself. I like to mock stupid people. And I think people who frame things badly are stupid.

Every time the Main Stream Media tell a story that’s framed incorrectly, they lead us further astray — and further down the authoritarian rabbit hole. The whole point of making the Truth hard to know starts with FRAMING IT THAT WAY. By “framing” the Truth as “hard to know”, those unwilling to question that assertion will now accept as truth that the Truth is beyond them. And all it took to get there was dishonest framing.

If you frame abortion as “baby-killing”, you’re framing it dishonestly. If you frame hunting as “sport”, you’re framing it dishonestly (you’re murdering animals for fun — admit it — the animal would tell you that’s what’s happening). If you frame

The fact that Donald Trump became president and is still president is a failure of framing. The CORRECT framing of Donald Trump was obvious the moment he rode down that escalator in that whorehouse of a building of his and announced that Mexicans are rapists. Trump framed himself as a racist. A few days later we heard him frame himself as a rapist, too, whose wealth apparently gave him permission to sexually assault women at will. Donald Trump framed himself as a criminal every time he bankrupted a casino. Everyone with a brain knew he’d been laundering money for the Russian mob. The proper frame for Donald Trump has always been a “thing”.

And yet… Our news media framed Trump differently. They stuck racism and bigotry and rapey behavior IN the frame (in a corner) but they didn’t use them to FRAME the way THEY were “telling” Donald Trump. In spite of the honest way Trump himself was framing himself, the media insisted on framing Trump as the imaginary character that had been created for him by Mark Burnett so as to make “The Apprentice” make sense.

As we now know, The Art Of The Deal wasn’t just utter bullshit, it was the utterest bullshit. While Trump was putting his name on Tony Schwartz’s writing, he was on his way to losing 1.7 billion dollars. A more honest framing of the book would have been The Art Of Near Total Failure.

I just wrote the last installment of a series called Blunt Truths for Weedmaps news — about the true story of cannabis prohibition. Yes — it was racism start to finish. But the way Harry Anslinger — America’s first Commissioner of Narcotics used racism to frame cannabis was a stroke of dark public relations genius that’s still haunting us. Even as cannabis is legalized, it’s still drenched in the bullshit mythology Anslinger created for it. We still frame cannabis from the point of view of a racist lie.

Every time a Hallie Jackson or an Alex Witt or a Chris Matthews goes to commercial with a tease that asks “Was the FBI SPYING on the Trump Campaign?” they’re literally FRAMING the story from THE CRIMINAL’S POINT OF VIEW. Think about it. The FBI wasn’t spying, they were carrying out a legitimate counter-intelligence investigation because good, solid evidence fairly shouted that Trump was owned by the Russians — but MSNBC is still FRAMING the story as SPYING because that’s what the subject of the investigation — the guy owned by the Russians — calls it.

It’s ludicrous. It happens every damned day.

Terrible framing is why so many of us remain in a constant stage of agita. We expect the Fourth Estate — as part of its Constitutionally mandated responsibility — to be the final check on power. To do that, they need to acknowledge that indeed that IS their responsibility.

I bet if they framed it that way to themselves, they’d get better at their jobs immediately.