Saturday, January 19, 2019

Ben Walker

Based in California, Ben writes about marijuana culture, cultivation and edibles. He's a regular contributor at,,, and


Within a couple of weeks of Massachusetts voting to legalizing marijuana for recreational use, leaders in Rhode Island are already looking to follow suit.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday she plans to take a closer look into the issue after voters in Massachusetts approved a legalization ballot initiative last week.

It’s not about racing to get the foot up on neighboring states, said Raimondo, who is more concerned with getting regulations and safety measures in place.

Rhode Island look to follow Massachusetts lead

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has expressed his readiness to move forward with legislation next year. Legal weed will soon become available in Massachusetts. If Rhode Island does not legalize, the state will face the issue of its residents crossing the Massachusetts border for legal marijuana, but without the tax revenue to address it.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio has said he is also preparing to act.

Recreational marijuana use becomes legal in Massachusetts as of Dec 15, 2016, but the drug will not become available in stores until at least 2018.


The war on drugs failed a long time ago, even if it has taken a while for America’s leaders to get the message. The same is true in other parts of the world, but as in the United States, change is picking up speed.

Two of the most important health-related organizations in the United Kingdom said in October that they support major marijuana reform in the country. The announcement makes the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health the largest British health lobbies to back cannabis decriminalization.

Cannabis abuse should be treated as a health issue, rather than a crime

The two groups argue that marijuana should be treated as medicine rather than an illegal drug, and its use and abuse should be treated as a health matter instead of a crime. But their proposal wouldn’t go as far as some reformers may hope.

File photo of a medical marijuana starter plant

For one thing, the health organizations favor partial decriminalization rather than full legalization. British adults would be allowed to possess and use small amounts of marijuana without facing criminal penalties, but sale of the drug would remain illegal.

Marijuana possession is a crime in UK

It is currently a crime to possess cannabis for any use in the United Kingdom. Police in some areas, especially London, usually ignore petty offenses, but even simple possession can lead to criminal charges.

The two health groups say they don’t want to encourage marijuana use. But sending tokers to jail is counter-productive, they say.

For one thing, it is often even easier to find illicit drugs behind bars as it is on the outside. And much of that supply is harder than marijuana, worsening the addiction and mental health problems that land many pot users in jail.

It also costs huge amounts of money to warehouse inmates on cannabis convictions, money that has little effect on addiction, illegal trafficking, and other drug-related problems. Most important, though, is the effect incarceration has on users guilty of nothing more than burning a plant.

Conviction can come with a permanent rap sheet

Jail is bad enough, but arrest and conviction – whether in the U.K. or the United States – also come with a permanent criminal record. This rap sheet makes it difficult if not impossible to rent an apartment, find a job, or even obtain government benefits.

JailAnd those punitive effects have never reduced the supply of dangerous illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine. There is literally no trade-off: young men, mostly members of racial or ethnic minority groups, fill Western prisons for no apparent reason.

This state of affairs is especially bad for drug addicts.

Marijuana is widely considered the least addictive of the most popular drugs. It’s less habit-forming than alcohol, opioids, even coffee. But a small percentage of users do get hooked, and subjecting them to arrest, jail, and the stigma of a criminal record do no one any good, least of all the addicts themselves.

The decision by two of Britain’s largest health organization to support reform in that country is evidence legalization is spreading in the West. And it could help prod similar groups in the U.S., including the American Medical Association, to follow suit.

Tell us what you think: Does the support of major medical associations make any difference to the speed of marijuana reform? Leave a comment below.


With legal marijuana spreading across the country like wildfire, it’s worth asking how this incredible experiment in drug reform has worked out. Four years after the first vote to legalize pot, where do things stand?

Here’s a brief look at the state of legalized marijuana in Colorado, where voters legalized the drug in November 2012 (as did voters in Washington State, while Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia followed in 2014).

Economic Boost

marijuana moneyThere’s no doubt cannabis is widely used in Colorado, and the drug has long since lost its back-alley reputation there. Pot shops dot the landscape now, while the state’s mountains and open ranges are home to countless legal cannabis farms, indoor and out.

The pot industry still has plenty of room for growth in Colorado, but it has already flooded public coffers with millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Still, cannabis reform hasn’t exactly revolutionized life in the Centennial State.

Many communities, especially small towns in struggling areas, have rebounded from long economic droughts with the help of legalized marijuana. Some of these places don’t even allow local sales, only cultivation, yet make significant amounts of tax money off the industry.

Coloradans agree their experiment in drug policy has worked well, with recent polls showing support for the 2012 vote remains strong. But it hasn’t saved everyone, and even some localities that could benefit from pot refuse to allow it.

Social Acceptance

The most notable difference for most Colorado stoners since 2012 is the rapid growth in social acceptance of their habit. While it’s still hard to find places to use marijuana openly, that’s changing.

Denver could soon allow members-only cannabis clubs, while bed-and-breakfasts and Airbnb rentals increasingly advertise toke-friendly accommodations. More importantly, though, is the fact that most locals wouldn’t look twice at a pothead ripping from a bong on the steps outside city hall.

But the line between pro-pot and anti-pot communities can be sharp in Colorado. Stoners who draw no attention along Denver’s Green Mile could wind up in jail for public consumption a few towns over.

Legal Consequences

gavel-handcuffsThe most important consequence of legalization is that far fewer people are arrested and prosecuted on cannabis charges. Fewer arrests means less jail time and fewer permanent rap sheets, which in turn means less harm to the racial minority groups that face disproportionate conviction rates.

At a more general level, there is also the widespread sense that life is a bit more liberated in Colorado. Ask Meghann St. Nolde, a Wisconsin transplant to Denver who said she came looking for “cannabis freedom.”

“It’s like we’re living history every day,” St. Nolde said.

That doesn’t mean anything is possible, however. It is still a civil offense to smoke marijuana in public, and possession of any amount of cannabis on federal land is a federal crime, no matter the intended use.

Leave a comment and let us know: How do you think legalization has played out in Colorado? Has success there been enough to push reform forward in other parts of the country?

For all the entrepreneurs, business owners, and professionals who stand to benefit from a legal marijuana market, there are plenty of others who have a lot to lose. And they’re fighting reform tooth and nail.

But who are they? And what are they doing to stop voters from legalizing cannabis in states from California to Maine?

Big Booze

Whiskey AlcoholNot surprisingly, the U.S. alcohol industry has a big stake in the outcome of marijuana reform. And it is pumping money into the cause at a rate to match.

The reasons for this are obvious, mostly. Booze is by far America’s most popular intoxicating drug, generating more than $200 billion in sales each year, almost all of it legal. In fact, the very legality of alcohol is the larger part of its appeal.

But marijuana is provably safer than booze, and given a choice, many regular drinkers would likely pick weed. Alcohol kills thousands of Americans each year, but there is no such thing as a fatal cannabis overdose.

Big Booze pumped big money into anti-legalization efforts, especially in Massachusetts, where an industry trade group gave $25,000 to a political committee set up to fight a ballot initiative in that state.

Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada also voted on legalization Nov. 8. The beer, wine, and spirits industries also fought cannabis reform in those states.

Big Pharma

Big Pharma Pills
Insys Therapeutics of Arizona gave $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group formed to fight Proposition 205

Some of the strongest opposition to legal marijuana comes from the pharmaceutical industry. The reason is simple: Some of these corporate drug manufacturers hope to patent and sell synthetic forms of pot that would compete aginst the real thing.

If Big Pharma could stop legalization (it can’t), it would ensure that all THC medication, including traditional cannabis bud, would require approval from the FDA before reaching patients. This in turn would allow the government to limit prescriptions to tightly controlled synthetic formulas and ban traditional medical cannabis outright.

The makers of Subsys – a potent prescription painkiller made from fentanyl – donated $500,000 to fight legalization in Arizona. They worked quietly elsewhere, too, along with other drug makers that stand to lose billions in future revenue to legal pot.


Sheldon Adelson
Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson has donated at least $2 million to groups opposing legal cannabis in Nevada.

Why on Earth would the casino industry care about legal cannabis? If anti-legalization contributions by gambling magnates are any guide, it’s all about profit.

Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, for one, poured $3.5 million into opposition campaigns across the country this year, much of it spent in Nevada. Adelson and his fellow casino owners have an interest in discouraging legal marijuana use, since alcohol is much more conducive to impulsive gambling: Drunk people play slot machines, while stoners stay in and order room service.

What do you think: Who poses the greatest danger to the future of marijuana reform? Does the outcome of the 2016 election change your answer? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Marijuana is something of a paradox when it comes to anxiety. On the one hand, pot is well-known to cause mild panic and paranoia in many users. At the same time, countless medical cannabis patients attest to the drug’s ability to alleviate anxiety and stress.

The reality is, patients with anxiety disorders often do benefit from medicinal pot, but it’s important to find the right marijuana strains to do the job. Here’s a list of some of the best strains for anxiety.

Grandaddy Purple

Cannabis for Anxiety
Grandaddy Purple

“Purps,” as the kids call it (or used to), is an all-time favorite among stoners both medical and recreational, but it’s especially popular for its ability to calm chronic anxiety.

Granddaddy Purple is a near-pure indica made by combining Purple Urkle and Big Bud. With such strong indica heredity, this strain is ideal for treating stress and insomnia, both common aspects of anxiety and panic disorders, as well as lack of appetite and depression.

Purps generates a decent amount of euphoria, but mostly the sensation is physically relaxing and sleepy. That makes it a great choice for drifting off without the endless distraction of anxiety.


Best Weed for Anxiety

Most medical marijuana patients seek out pot with high levels of THC. That makes sense, as getting high is part of the healing process for many. But for others, there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing.

That’s where Cannatonic comes in. This cannabis hybrid, one of the best strains for anxiety, offers an equal balance of THC and CBD, another critical chemical component of the marijuana plant. The THC still provides a kick, but the CBD helps reduce the anxiety and paranoia that can come with it.

Bubba Kush

Marijuana for Anxiety
Bubba Kush

Bubba Kush, another potent indica classic, delivers a strong dose of drowsiness and physical relaxation. A few quick puffs are followed by loosening muscles, lifting moods, and a blast of euphoria.

This California native is noted mostly as an effective therapy for stress, both physical and mental, and for chronic pain. Anxiety, as anyone who has experienced it knows, often comes in the form of physical pain, lack of appetite, and insomnia – all symptoms that respond to Bubba Kush.

Blue Dream

Weed for Anxiety
Blue Dream

Sativas aren’t typically associated with unwinding, but this favorite hybrid manages both a deep sense of calm and a healthy wallop of cerebral euphoria. Best of all, Blue Dream usually coes packed with THC, making it a great choice for patients with daily anxiety, stress, and pain.

What’s more, this strain works faster than most, delivering medical benefits in a matter of seconds without leading to couch-lock. For this reason alone, Blue Dream is one of the best strains for anxiety.

Strawberry Cough

Best Strains for Anxiety
Strawberry Cough

Social anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental illness, and it can cripple a person’s ability to function in the wider world. Thankfully, there are marijuana strains such as Strawberry Cough that can help.

Like Blue Dream, this is mostly a sativa, but the pep it generates is part of how it works, adding a bit of social energy while also keeping distractions and panic to a minimum. That can make it easier to enter any room with less anxiety, more confidence, and a greater sense of calm.


Halloween is a predictable holiday, a reliable annual formula of costumes, candy, and kids. Also, naturally, false scare stories about pot-poisoned sweets.

Police and health officials apparently have no plans to disappoint on that front in 2016. Poorly informed government agencies have already sent out the year’s supply of bogus rumors about sociopaths planning to lace their Halloween candy with THC – or at least the occasional schlub who confuses weed brownies and Mars bars.

Florida scare tactics ahead of MMJ vote

The latest alert comes from Florida’s poison control officials, who said parents should keep their eyes open for cannabis candy on Halloween. Coincidentally (or not), the warning went out two weeks before a statewide vote on medical marijuana.

“I think it’s very unlikely that it would happen intentionally,” said Alfred Aleguas, director of the Florida Poison Information Center. “I think it’s certainly possible with an accidental – accidentally, that could happen.”

It never has. There has not been a single credible report of accidental underage cannabis consumption by way of Halloween candy, anywhere. The same is true of other dark rumors about the holiday, including tales of razor blades in chocolate bars.

Halloween candy marijuana fears
Fears of children being unwittingly given cannabis-infused candies have resurfaced.

The Florida Sheriff’s Association issued a warning of its own, as did many other local and state police agencies across the country. But the issue has raised special concerns in the Sunshine State, where a vote on medical marijuana is just days away.

“Anything like that that interfaces with something on a ballot is going to be perceived as highly political,” Susan MacManus, a professor of political science at the University of South Florida, told WFTS TV of Tampa. “On the other hand, we have a pretty good history [in which] concerns about objects and things in children’s candy is something that we talk about.”

Political fear-mongering

But that’s exactly the problem: Police bang the drums over the threat of pot candy every October despite a lack of evidence that it has ever happened. These claims naturally arise in October, often shortly before votes on cannabis reform, a fact that raises the possibility of political fear-mongering.

Similarly baseless rumors about candy tampering with other drugs or sharp objects have caused countless parents unnecessary alarm over the years. In some cases, adults may deny their children the chance to trick-or-treat out of misplaced concern about weed candy.

There are a few simple reasons you will never encounter laced Halloween sweets. For one thing, states where pot is legal have adopted tough new labeling and packaging rules to reduce the risk kids will accidentally eat cannabis edibles.

For another thing, no parent is likely to unwrap marijuana candy and then drop it in a bowl full of Snickers Fun Size bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Homeowners these days don’t usually hand out unwrapped treats on Halloween, intentionally or otherwise.

Finally, most parents just aren’t dumb enough to confuse THC edibles with real candy. Children do sometimes eat marijuana-infused food without realizing it, but those cases are rare, and none has involved Halloween candy.

If you’re a parent and you really need something to worry about Oct. 31, try to limit your fears to traffic, obesity, and cavities. Tooth decay is more likely to land your kid in the hospital than marijuana gummy bears.

Tell us what you think: Why do police and other officials spread the myth that Halloween candy could be laced with cannabis? Leave a comment below.


Five states will vote on marijuana legalization Nov. 8. Polls show strong public support in all of them, but one is especially important, maybe more critical to the future of marijuana reform than the other four states combined.

That state is California, where roughly 60 percent of voters say they plan to support Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Prop. 64 would legalize adult purchase, possession, and use of up to 1 ounce of pot, as well as home grows of up to six plants.

California is home to nearly 40 million people, making it the most populous state in the country by far. If cannabis is legalized in the Golden State, it would become the world’s largest legal marijuana market.

Five states will vote on legalization

The other states voting on the issue this year are Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Public support is at or above 50 percent in each of these places, but all require a majority vote to amend their constitutions.

Even if one or two of the initiatives fail, a victory in California by itself could permanently speed up the pace of reform in the rest of the country. If nothing else, it would put heavy new pressures on the federal government to deal with the spread of legal weed.

Democrat Hillary Clinton, a shoo-in to win the presidency, would likely have to deal with the cannabis question early in her administration. It’s unclear what her ultimate position would be, but she has promised to reschedule the drug and allow states to legalize under their own laws.

California legalization vote

Still, pot remains illegal for any use under federal anti-drug laws. The DEA, the primary agency responsible for enforcing those laws, has shown little desire to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, and President Obama has refused to direct his attorney general to make that happen.

At the same time, Congress has taken a slow approach to legalization, passing laws that protect medical marijuana patients but not recreational tokers. The general trend has been toward reform, but it has yet to reach a tipping point.

Majority support for AUMA

That moment will probably come at the ballot box in the Golden State. Assuming California marijuana advocates win, almost a third of the American population would live in states where recreational pot is legal. The new laws would need at least a few years to take full effect, but each of the five states has a preexisting medical marijuana industry that would ease the transition to recreational sales.

National support for legalization has been on the rise, with about the same percentage of Americans and Californians, 60 percent, backing the idea. Once the state’s voters pass Prop. 64, it will likely be impossible for the country to reverse course.

Leave a comment and let us know: Do you live in California? If so, how do you plan to vote on Prop. 64? Why?


Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas billionaire, newspaper publisher, and casino magnate, is one of the Republican Party’s wealthiest backers. He is also one of its staunchest.

And now Adelson, who has thrown at least $100 million into the campaigns of Donald Trump and other GOP candidates, is giving a bit more in an effort to stop marijuana legalization.

Adelson disclosed in October that he has donated $2 million to groups opposing legal cannabis in Nevada. The state will vote on the issue on Election Day. Public support is strong, giving the measure a strong chance of success.

Adelson’s money alone won’t stop Question 2, the initiative that would make recreational marijuana use legal across the state. Even his massive financial presence in Las Vegas won’t make much of a difference.

Sheldon Adelson

But his contributions are a sign of the growing desperation among legalization opponents. As state after state reforms its cannabis laws, the odds of turning back the tide grow ever slimmer.

Adelson is best known as a billionaire supporter of conservative causes. He has been one of the biggest donors to GOP candidates in 2016 and one of the few financial titans to openly back Trump. Adelson’s newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, gave the GOP nominee his first – and only – major editorial endorsement.

Biggest contributer to Protect Nevada’s Children

Adelson’s most recent campaign finance disclosures, filed Oct. 17, show he is the biggest contributor to an anti-pot political action committee called Protect Nevada’s Children, giving the group $1.8 million. Three of his casinos have also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the committee, which was formed explicitly to defeat Question 2.

Marijuana Leaf and Cash MoneyWith roughly $2 million in the bank, Protect Nevada’s Children has almost equaled the $2.1 million raised by marijuana reformers who support Question 2. But Adelson has done little to convince voters they should reject the measure.

Though mostly associated with conservative political campaigns, Adelson also gives significant amounts of money to a wide range of charitable causes. He and his wife have founded addiction treatment clinics, an experience that may contribute to his anti-marijuana views.

Battling legalization in Massachusetts

Nevada isn’t Adelson’s only target. He has already given $1 million to stop legalization in Massachusetts – though his money is unlikely to have any effect in that deep-blue state.

Adelson also opposes a medical marijuana vote coming in Florida, donating $1 million to that cause. He helped defeat a similar proposal in the Sunshine State two years ago by giving $5.5 million.

Nevada and Massachusetts are among five states voting on legalization proposals next month. The others are Arizona, California, and Maine. Recent polls show at least one or two of the measures will pass, including California.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think: Do big-money donors like Sheldon Adelson make any difference in the outcome of legalization votes?

Life has not been especially easy for tourists who want to sample some of Colorado’s famous legal weed. While the drug has been available at retail stores for almost three years, out-of-state visitors still have few places to use it.

An illicit cannabis club
An illicit cannabis club

That could change soon, as voters in Denver decide Nov. 8 whether they want to allow members-only cannabis clubs in the city. If they do, the Mile High City would become the largest in the country to allow any form of public marijuana consumption.

One state lawmaker called the vote a potential “shot across the bow” that could convince the state Legislature to clear the way for pot clubs elsewhere in Colorado. It may even have national implications.

Four-year pilot program

Initiative 300, which appears on the local ballot, would launch a four-year pilot program to license public accommodations such as bars, cafes, and yoga studios so their customers could toke on their property.

The law would require that each guest bring his or her own cannabis. Aside from licensed pot shops, no private businesses would be allowed to sell the drug. And while vaping and edibles would be legal indoors, smoking would only be allowed in designated outdoor areas.

A handful of smaller communities in Colorado already allow regulated cannabis clubs, but Denver would be by far the largest. And the licensing process would be complicated.

Any permit application filed by a business could be effectively blocked by neighborhood groups, including so-called business improvement districts and other community organizations registered with the city. These groups could even set their own local regulations.

Aiming to reduce high driving

Backers of Initiative 300, also known as the Neighborhood-Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program, say their proposal would cut down on high driving and make it easier for tourists to enjoy the city.

The measure was drafted by Kayvann Khalatbari of Denver Relief Consulting, with support from area marijuana businesses. But that backing is not universal. Anti-pot groups claim clubs open to the public would increase impaired driving, contribute to excessive use of the drug, and lead consumers to mix it with alcohol.

These arguments aren’t backed by statistics, which show the rate of drugged driving actually dropped after Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012. But some neighborhood groups insist they won’t allow cannabis clubs on their streets.

Cannabis Club Barcelona
Social cannabis use in Barcelona, Spain, where there is already a thriving cannabis club scene.

Khalatbari, meanwhile, says he and his supporters are already accounting for the concerns of residents who live near possible club sites. Some local anti-cannabis activists disagree, saying rejection by one local group would simply lead business owners to look for locations in other neighborhoods.

It’s unclear how that argument works, since angry neighbors would presumably be happy to see a proposed pot club give up on their districts – even by moving somewhere else.

And supporters say there’s a critical fact to consider: If Initiative 300 works in Denver, it could provide a road map for safe, legal public consumption in other parts of the country. That, they say, could save lives by keeping pothead tourists from toking in their cars or otherwise hiding from the law.

What do you think? Will legal cannabis clubs make life easier for stoners? What about safer? Leave a comment below.

How to Grow Autoflower Marijuana Plants

There are many types of seed used to grow cannabis. Some create male plants, some female, some hermaphrodite, and each has its role in the breeding process.

And then there are autoflowering marijuana plants. But what are they, how are they grown, and what exactly is the point?

Autoflowering strains are designed to grow indoors during seasons when a normal outdoor garden can’t produce a quality harvest. When marijuana is cultivated outdoors, its growth depends on the quality and quantity of daylight. Plants do better in the tropics because sunlight there is intense and consistent year-round.

Autoflower cannabis

In cooler zones, outdoor farmers are constrained to summer; by autumn there is no longer enough light in the day. This is what makes indoor autoflower grows so popular in the United States and other northern climes.

Instead of blooming mid-summer, when outdoor sunlight is ideal, autoflowering plants bloom automatically, usually two to four weeks after sprouting. This allows greater control over the cultivation process and makes it possible to grow more weed.

But how to grow autoflowering seeds? Here’s a brief explainer.

First, here’s what you’ll need: “feminized” autoflowering seeds; a germinating kit; a bucket or pail that holds 5-15 gallons (with holes in the bottom); enough cannabis-friendly soil to fill your bucket to 3/4; and lights adequate for a standard indoor grow.

How to grow autoflower marijuana plants

Once you have your supplies, follow these steps to cultivate your seeds:

1. Germinate your autoflowering seeds using a germination kit. This is an easy process that requires only a cheap plastic kit and rockwool cubes. Germinate until a sprout starts to grow.

2. Put soil in the bucket until it’s 75 percent full. Even more soil is better, up to about 95 percent full. Of course, your choice of bucket will determine how much pot you’ll be able to grow.

3. “Flush” the soil by pouring a large amount of water onto it. This ensures the soil is damp throughout. Dry spots could block the growth of healthy roots.

4. Dig a shallow hole in the middle of the bucket, deep enough to cover the seed and its sprout, and then carefully place the seed in the hole and cover it with soil. Make sure the head of the sprout pokes up from under the dirt.

5. Next, set up your lights. Place them above the plants, leaving 6 to 10 inches between the hot bulbs and the plant tops. Raise the lights as the cannabis plant grows taller.

6. Follow a set lighting schedule during your autoflower grow. This is usually 18 straight hours of light each day and six hours of darkness, or 12 hours of each.

7. Follow recommended steps for a standard marijuana grow. Water the soil as needed (check every day and add water if the soil feels dry). Keep the light consistent throughout the entire cultivation period.

8. The final step in producing an autoflowering strain is to harvest the resulting bud after flowering is complete. Once bud start to blossom, you’ll have another 10 to 14 weeks before it’s ready to pick and process. You’ll know the time has come when you see a fine layer of white crystals on the bud.

And that’s how you grow an autoflowering marijuana plant. It’s no harder than growing any other type of cannabis seed, and it could leave you with an even better supply of dope. Give it a try!

Let us know: Have you ever grown a pot plant? What about an autoflowering plant? How did it go? Leave a comment.