9 Ways To Incorporate Weed Into Your Personal Aesthetic

There’s toking up and then there’s making pot part of who you are. Looking to extend your appreciation for the herb beyond the smoking sesh? Look no further than our official High Times guide on how to incorporate weed into your personal aesthetic.

Remember that an aesthetic isn’t just based on what or who you wear. Your decor, your weeknight wind down, your social media … these are all aspects of your aesthetic. This means that there are endless ways to make your life a little more 420-friendly. Here are some of our favorite ways to show our love for our favorite plant.

Express Yourself Through High Fashion

9 Ways To Incorporate Weed Into Your Personal Aesthetic

In every sense of the term. Today, high fashion is in the midst of a passionate love affair with marijuana. So take a page from Rihanna’s playbook and make weed a fashion statement.

Options abound when it comes to runway-ready 420 fashion. Check out Alexander Wang’s marijuana-themed collection, The Elder Statesman’s cashmere marijuana-themed sweaters, or Palm Angels’ golden ganja leaf loafers.

From Rihanna to Hugh Hefner, marijuana counts some major fashion icons amongst its most staunch supporters.

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What is a Marijuana Dispensary?

Marijuana Dispensaries exist because federal law prohibits cannabis from being prescribed and filled at pharmacies. What is a dispensary without the marijuana? A place that specializes in carrying and selling a specific type of product. So, a marijuana dispensary is where you want to go when you need any type of cannabis product. There are recreational as well as medical marijuana dispensaries depending on which state you are in. We’ll go over the differences between the two as well as everything you should know about a marijuana dispensary.

What Is A Medical Dispensary?

The first public marijuana dispensary in the United States is the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club which the late, great Dennis Peron operated when it started in 1992. Since then, hundreds of medical dispensaries have opened all around California. There are now medical dispensaries in more than half of the states in the country.

How To Enter A Medical Marijuana Dispensary

What is a Marijuana Dispensary? what is a dispensary what is a medical dispensary

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You’ll need the necessary documentation before you can enter most medical marijuana dispensaries. So have your recommendation before your first visit.

Unlike a trip to the doctor, you’ll likely be greeted by security when stepping into a medical dispensary. This is due to the fact that banks won’t take their money forcing them to deal only in cash. Having that much cash around at all times requires more security than you’d find at a pharmacy.

Upon entering, there is usually a receptionist that you’ll have to check-in with before being allowed into the dispensing area.

The receptionist will ask for your ID and a medical marijuana recommendations or ID card from a doctor. If your ID is from another state you may be asked to provide proof of residency. Many dispensaries offer deals and discounted prices to medical marijuana patients. Anyone that smokes regularly may end up saving money in the long-run by purchasing a medical marijuana card.

What Is A Recreational Dispensary?

A recreational marijuana dispensary allows anyone from anywhere above the age of 21 to purchase cannabis products legally. Depending on the state, the supply of medical and recreational cannabis could be completely separate or nearly identical. The benefits to recreational dispensaries are that you won’t have to pay for a medical marijuana recommendation.

However, recreational taxes are putting a strain on the legal market in certain states. In some states, there is no tax or less tax for medical marijuana. As a result, some people continue to renew their medical marijuana recommendations.

How To Enter A Recreational Dispensary

What is a Marijuana Dispensary? what is a dispensary what is a medical dispensary

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Entering a recreational marijuana dispensary is much simpler than a medical one. You will still have to show security your ID proving you’re of age. If it is a medical and recreational dispensary, the receptionist will ask you if your visit is recreational or medicinal.

Those with a medical marijuana recommendation that are visiting for the first time will have to register with the receptionist before entering. Everyone else can proceed to the dispensing area to pick their products and pay.

What Products Are At Dispensaries?

The products you see in a dispensary will vary from state to state. For example, states like New York don’t allow dispensaries to have smokable flowers. You’ll only find cannabis derivatives like tinctures or vape pen cartridges.

Recreational dispensaries will have cannabis in flower form as well as concentrated forms like kief, BHO, sauce, budder, RSO, CO2 and everything you can find at a medical dispensary. There are also edibles if you want a longer high without the smoke.

Now you’ll have an idea of what to expect when visiting a state with legalized marijuana. If you’re planning to purchase regularly, a medical recommendation could save you some money in the long run. If you’re just visiting, you’re better off with a recreational dispensary visit.

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What Are the Benefits Of Vaping Weed?

Cannabis vaporization came into popularity when users began to realize the benefits of vaping weed versus smoking. Traditionally cannabis has always been combusted but now we have the technology to vaporize. In fact, there are portable, desktop and oil pen vaporizers for added stealth on the market now. When comparing the differences between smoking and vaping we’ll focus on dry herb vaporizers.

Smoke vs. Vapor: What Are You Inhaling?

What Are the Benefits Of Vaping Weed?

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The greatest distinction between smoking and vaping is combustion. If any combustion occurs, you’ll be inhaling more than just cannabinoids.

In fact, a study that was designed to evaluate the efficacy of herbal vaporizers illustrated it. The study used the same type of cannabis to both vaporize and smoke. What they found was the vaporized cannabis consisted of mostly cannabinoids with a trace of three other compounds. On the other hand, combusted smoke had over 111 compounds including a wide range of toxins.

One of the only advantages to smoking over vaping is it won’t cost you much up front. However, a vaporizer used over a long-term will save you weed and money. Another advantage of smoking is simplicity. To many packing a bowl or rolling a joint comes easier than packing a vaporizer.

Another study found that cannabis users who vaporize were less likely to report respiratory symptoms. So what are the benefits of vaping? Users can still get the benefits of cannabinoids without the pyrolytic smoke compounds.

Finally, research from Leiden University found that the effects of using a vaporizer gave similar results to smoking with less harmful side effects. “The final pulmonal uptake of THC is comparable to the smoking of cannabis while avoiding the respiratory disadvantages of smoking.”

Avoiding combustion also drastically reduces the lingering smell of cannabis. Vaporizers will have an easier time going unnoticed after and during the consumption of cannabis.

Why Do Some People Still Prefer Smoking?

What Are the Benefits Of Vaping Weed?

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When it comes to your health, vaporization seems like the best method of inhalation. Despite the growing awareness of the benefits of vaping, many people that have tried a vaporizer still choose to smoke regularly. This is because vaporization comes with a few deterrents.

Convenience

Some vaporizers have learnings curves that make it hard to use and share with beginners. Others have to be repacked in order to be shared. Passing a joint is an easier and more universal way of sharing cannabis.

Price

Another thing that deters people from vaporization is the initial cost. The best portable vaporizers for dry herbs cost up to $300 but they bring out the best qualities from your cannabis. Anything under a hundred dollars is unlikely to effectively vaporize your herbs. Consider purchasing one of the top portable vaporizers a long-term investment.

Cleaning

A large downside is the cleaning process. When smoking a joint you can just toss it when it starts to taste more like paper than weed. However, a dry herb vaporizer needs to be cleaned regularly for optimal function.

You’ll have to brush the chamber out whenever you’re done vaporizing. Some people move onto the next pack when the weed turns yellowish-brown while others will cook it until it is dark brown. It will also require a deep cleaning every once in a while because oils will build up wherever air travels from the chamber to the mouthpiece.

When it comes to desktop vaporizers, they come in many different styles. Some have a whip for a mouthpiece, a water attachment or the fillable balloon. There are just more pieces to clean and take care of when you compare it to smoking.

Batteries

Portable vaporizers need to be charged. If you forget to charge it and don’t have a charger or a place to charge you’re stuck with a temporary paperweight. In those situations, it is much easier to find papers and a lighter if you don’t already have them handy.

The benefits of vaping weed are mostly health and stealth related. There are many cons to vaporization that have kept many people from fully adopting the method of consumption. As vapor technology becomes more accessible and more people realize the benefits, will people will abandon papers and pipes in search of a cleaner high?

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Michigan Could Add 22 New Conditions for Medical Marijuana Program

Before the upcoming vote on recreational cannabis, Michigan is looking to extend its medical marijuana program. To decide which conditions should be added to the list of those qualifying for medical marijuana, the state’s Medical Marihuana Review Panel heard from the public last week. Here’s a look at the conditions that will soon qualify for medical marijuana.

These Conditions Could Soon Qualify For Medical Marijuana

So far, the panel has proposed 22 more conditions to add to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. They include depressive disorders, neurodegenerative conditions and curable and incurable conditions.

The complete list includes chronic and general pain, diabetes, colitis, ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, organ transplant, brain and spinal cord injuries, OCD, depression, panic attacks, social or general anxiety, arthritis, asthma, Schizophrenia, Tourette’s Syndrome and Parkinson’s Disease.

In total, Illinois residents submitted 115 conditions to the list of ailments that qualify for medical marijuana. But, for the time being, lawmakers are only considering adding 22.

What’s Next for Michigan’s Marijuana Legislation

On May 4th, the panel will reconvene to hear more public suggestions. Afterward, they will approach the director of the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation. Only after the director’s approval will people with these conditions officially qualify for cannabis.

In November, Michigan residents will vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Earlier this week, marijuana advocates submitted 365,000 signatures supporting recreational cannabis. With more than a hundred thousand approvals over the requisite 250,000, it looks like Michigan will vote on marijuana in the fall.

56.6 percent of Michigan residents support legalization, and many others are not opposed to the idea. Since Michiganians feel so strongly about legal recreational weed, Republicans want to legalize marijuana before November. If people come out to support for marijuana in the polls, chances are they will also vote for Democratic candidates. This would be bad news for Michigan’s Republican leadership.

After Last Week, Medical Marijuana Patients Might Have Difficulty Accessing Legal Weed

Since March, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has closed over 200 dispensaries. The reason? They didn’t apply for a new marijuana retail license. Dispensaries had until February 15th to apply for an official license after the passage of new regulations last year.

Those that did are allowed to stay open while the department deliberates. Law enforcement recently shut down dispensaries that did not fill out the appropriate paperwork.

Public Information Officer for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs David Harns explains, “Last month we delivered cease and desist letters to facilities that had not applied for state licensure and were not operating with local approval.”

Between shutting these marijuana dispensaries and the issuance of new licenses, there will be a couple hundred fewer options for Michigan’s growing number of medical marijuana cardholders.

Despite Conservative Leadership, Cannabis Is Gaining Ground

Michigan has a Republican Governor and a Republican majority in the state Senate. This has translated to more dispensary regulations and licensing laws, compared to previously lax policies. So far, more legislation has meant more dispensary closures and reduced access to marijuana.

But over half of Michiganders support legalizing marijuana, and many are taking an active role in the political process. As a result, it looks like they’ll be getting an expansion to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act a few months before legalizing adult recreational use.

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The Dos and Don’ts of Being A Parent Who Smokes Weed

Before states from Colorado to Massachusetts legalized recreational weed, smoking weed as a parent was taboo. This doesn’t mean that people didn’t do it, just that you would probably never be high (or ever admit to it) in front of your kids. Today, well over half of Americans live in places where marijuana is legal in some form. This means that a lot more parents are toking up. Here are the dos and don’ts of being a parent who smokes weed in this new era of 420 freedom.

Do: Play With Your Kids While You’re High

The Dos and Don'ts of Being A Parent Who Smokes Weed

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The most enjoyable thing you can do as a weed-smoking parent is playing with your kids when you’re high. Many parents find that weed helps them relate to their kids. Plus, you’re more likely to enjoy the same things your kids like when you’re blazed.

Many parents around the world would agree with this. Lucy, who lives in Portsmouth, England, wrote to The Guardian: “I feel weed makes me a better, calmer, more interactive parent, I ask my daughter more questions, have the patience to sit and teach her new things, go on long exploratory walks and spend longer playing with her than I would if I hadn’t been smoking, I feel it’s really brought us closer.”

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Arkansas Highway Patrol Busts Trucker With Over 230 Pounds of Weed

If you’re looking for weed in Florida, you might be out of luck. Last weekend, the Arkansas police stopped and searched a truck coming from the Golden Coast. They originally stopped the truck because it did not stop at a designated weight area. What they found was much more interesting.

An Ordinary Road Check Finds An Inordinate Amount of Pot

On Sunday morning, a truck traveling from California did not stop at a weigh station off Interstate 40 in Alma, Arkansas. The Arkansas Highway Police decided to pull the vehicle over but the driver, carrying precious cargo, sped on.

A police chase ensued. When the vehicle finally pulled over, law enforcement noted that the driver seemed anxious. Not only was the driver’s behavior unusual, but his log book didn’t match his cargo according to 5 News.

Next, the driver gave the authorities written consent to search his truck. Immediately, the police noticed that truck seemed to be carrying two different shipments. One was seemingly legal produce, while the other was stored in trash bags.

Inside the trash bags were 201 packages of marijuana. In total, the truck was carrying 232 pounds of cannabis.

The Driver and Passenger Are Facing Charges

Being caught carrying marijuana across state lines, especially when that state hasn’t legalized recreational use, carries some hefty charges. Specifically, Arkansas is charging the driver and passenger with Possession with the Intent to Deliver.

Since marijuana is still a Schedule I substance, these charges are a felony. According to Arkansas law, possession and attempt to deliver over 100 pounds of marijuana incurs a minimum six-year prison sentence. The maximum penalty is 30 years, with a fine of $15,000.

Most Southern States Have Strict Marijuana Laws

Comparatively, Arkansas is one of the most progressive states in the South when it comes to marijuana legislation. Though the state’s 2016 medical marijuana program has hit some major legal roadblocks, Arkansas is one of the few states south of the Mason Dixon that allows medical THC use.

Florida has also legalized medical marijuana, but cannabis is often difficult to find in the Sunshine State. “With the current system, you’re very limited to the strains of product that are available. Some patients can’t even get their medicine,” Seth Hyman said about his daughter Rebecca’s struggle to access medical cannabis.

Part of the difficulty with Florida’s program is that the state completely bars smokeable marijuana, medical or otherwise. Just last month, the fight for the right to smoke cannabis went to court.

The Dangers of Banning Cannabis

When states do not give their residents access to marijuana, people turn to the black market. The case of this truck traveling across Arkansas with 213 pounds of illegal marijuana is just one minor example.

More dangerously, many Americans are using synthetic weed. Though the finest herb is just as illegal synthetic marijuana in Florida, the effects of the latter can be incredibly dangerous. This week, a fourth person died from synthetic cannabis. This 30-year-old woman is only the latest in a deadly synthetic cannabis outbreak that has spread to four states. In Illinois alone, health officials report 150 cases of synthetic weed-induced bleeding from wounds, ears and eyes.

Limiting access to marijuana wastes resources and contributes to synthetic marijuana’s deadly popularity. While law enforcement should be cracking down on synthetic weed, they’re pulling over trucks full of marijuana.

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YouTube Remains Silent as Weed Pages Are Purged

YouTube is shutting down, and issuing “strikes” against, accounts that feature marijuana or marijuana-adjacent content at an unprecedented rate. The crackdown is leaving many in the community who’ve built large subscriber bases and revenue streams wondering, “what the hell changed?”

Dontae, founder and executive producer of the cannabis entertainment and education production company Loaded Up Entertainment, told High Times that his page received three strikes over the last few months, resulting in a deletion of its YouTube channel last week. A video from the channel’s educational series about the best munchies to eat while high was the final strike, Dontae was informed days after the deletion.

“We are definitely considering moving to other platforms,” he told us. That might include sites like The WeedTube, which was created in response to cannabis censorship on YouTube. Loaded Up’s deletion “gave us an awakening call that social media platforms are just tools for us to use—and that you have to go really go for a platform where people can go that’s not going to be censored out.”

Loaded Up—which had about 200,000 subscribers before the deletion—is one of numerous channels producing weed-related videos that have been shut down in recent weeks. Other channels have seen an uptick in specific videos “flagged for review” and “deleted” due to alleged community guideline violations.

What Does YouTube’s Community Guidelines Actually Say?

Videos that promote “violent or dangerous acts” or show “drug abuse, underage drinking and smoking, or bomb making” violate YouTube’s community guidelines. Well, when it comes to content featuring marijuana, which is legal in some form in 29 states, that might seem subjective. Do educational videos about how to roll a joint qualify as promoting dangerous acts? Do first-person reviews of pipes show drug abuse according to the video company’s standards?

For its part, YouTube has remained silent on the increased enforcement of its ambiguous community guidelines targeting weed-related pages. We reached out for comment, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.

There Are Some Theories About the Purging

Last year, reports surfaced that showed YouTube was running ads on “objectionable content,” including videos depicting violence, promoting hate-speech, and showing disturbing scenes involving underage children. Numerous corporate advertisers took part in boycotts against YouTube in response, and the company has since made repeated promises to increase enforcement of its community guidelines to ensure that ads don’t get placed on improper content.

Then, of course, there was the Logan Paul scandal earlier this year. When the vlogger posted a video of a man who’d committed suicide (since deleted), public outrage led to a rare open letter from YouTube. The company said it was “listening to everything [viewers have been] saying” and acknowledged that “the actions of one creator can affect the entire community.”

Again, it pledged to take actions to prevent similar content from being circulated.

Is it possible that weed accounts are vanishing from YouTube as a casualty of these new technologies and enforcement directives? Has Google, YouTube’s parent company, received negative feedback from advertisers whose commercials appeared on marijuana content? We don’t know! Because they haven’t told us—or the content creators—aside from sending out the standard community guideline violation notice.

Coral Reefer, a globetrotting influencer who posts videos of her marijuana adventures on a page with about 120,000 subscribers, told us that YouTube’s apparent targeting of weed pages puts them squarely “on the losing side of the cannabis conversation.” Her channel has been spared in the purging so far, but she recently received a “strike” against a video of her making edibles.

“With or without the corporation’s involvement, the truth and information we have to share about cannabis will reach more and more people, and instead of being a tool to spread a message for legalization, they have cannabis content creators scrambling to create backup channels, or leaving the network entirely,” Coral said. “YouTube inspired me to believe my voice mattered, and I won’t sit down and be silenced now that they’ve changed their mind.”

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Pennsylvania Governor Proposes Plan To Curb Opioid Overprescription

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has proposed a plan to curb opioid addiction in the state. He said that he will use a series of executive actions to reduce prescriptions of the powerful painkillers. His plan will only apply to patients covered by the state’s workers compensation program.

Wolf said in a written statement that the actions will improve medical care for injured workers.

“Pennsylvania’s injured workers must have access to reliable, safe, and effective prescription drugs that assist their recovery and ability to re-enter the workforce while keeping in mind the need to safely and appropriately prescribe all medications, including and especially opioids,” he wrote.

“My administration is taking these steps to limit overprescribing of opioids to injured workers, limit expensive opioid-based medications, and combat the potential for opioid abuse without rationing health care for millions of workers who could be injured on the job or severely limiting treatment options for workers and their doctors beyond opioids. My priority will always be to ensure injured workers, including our police, firefighters, and laborers, have access to quality healthcare.”

Wolf’s plan will address the opioid crisis in several ways. He will form a task force to create guidelines for prescribing opioids safely. The plan also seeks to raise awareness of the opioid crisis among workers’ compensation judges and healthcare workers. The state will also monitor prescriptions more closely, as well as form a system to detect overprescribing.

The governor also wants the legislature to pass two bills now pending in committee to attack the opioid problem. Senate Bill (SB) 655 would make the administration guidelines for prescriptions law. And SB 472 would limit opioid prescriptions to seven days, except in extraordinary cases.

No Action Yet On GOP Plan

Pennsylvania’s legislature also has a plan to limit the use of opioids in the state. Republican majorities currently control both the House and the Senate.

Earlier this month, lawmakers passed SB 936. The bill is now waiting for a signature or veto from Gov. Wolf. Today is the deadline for him to act.

SB 936 contains a formulary which would control the type, dosage, and length of time for opioid prescriptions. J.J. Abbott, a spokesperson for the governor, told reporters that Wolf is concerned that the law would lead to reduced care for patients.

“I think the natural effect of the formulary is that it will allow for more money to flow back to insurers at the expense of treatments for workers,” Wolf Spokesman JJ Abbott said.

But Republicans say that the formulary approach is sound.

“It’s an evidence-based formulary developed by a panel of doctors,” said House Republican spokesperson Steve Miskin. “It’s peer-reviewed, so it’s not like it’s just done.”

Miskin also noted that Wolf’s plan to regulate prescriptions via executive action usurps the power of the legislative branch.

“He’s trying to not create a law, and that is wrong,” he said. “Especially after the legislature acted.”

Whichever approach they take, it’s clear that the governor and legislature need to act soon. Nationwide, Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of opioid prescriptions for patients in a workers compensation program.

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Are Canadian Legalization Laws Too Strict?

Legalizing marijuana in Canada will benefit millions of people. First and foremost, people will no longer be incarcerated for minor possession charges. This means fewer arrest records, less government spending on prisons and less longterm impact on the careers and lives of those caught with marijuana. Legalization does, however, vary province by province, and come with a host of bureaucratic complications. Are Canadian legalization laws too strict? Here’s a closer look at the problems marijuana legislation, as it exists today, could cause.

Strict Laws Require Bigger Law Enforcement Budgets

Many provinces are planning on toughening up penalties for driving while high.

In Nova Scotia, the fine for being in a car while high ranges from $1,000 to $2,000. This applies to passengers as well as drivers. The proposed law would also include a one-year license suspension. If you’re caught driving while high a second time, you’re looking 30 days in jail, minimum, plus a longer license suspension.

There are a few problems with this sort of a crackdown on driving while high. First off, it will require extra policing, which will be costly. In Ontario, this means an extra $40 million dollars is going towards law enforcement. For many people, one of the benefits of legalized weed is more revenue for social programs.  Legalizing a substance should mean less, rather than increased, police spending.

Testing for Driving While High Is Almost Impossible

Are Canadian Legalization Laws Too Strict?

More importantly, THC, which is the cannabinoid drug tests detect, can stay in your system long after it has stopped being psychoactive. Two days after a single instance of THC ingestion, your blood can test positive for the cannabinoid. With more frequent use, THC can stay in your bloodstream for weeks.

According to a former federal government employee who prefers to remain anonymous, “It’s difficult because they want to regulate it like they do with drinking and driving, but the technology and science just isn’t there.”

“What I would be worried about is that the devices aren’t advanced enough to detect who really is driving ‘high’ and that many people will be labeled as driving ‘high’ when really they are no longer intoxicated,” they add.

Though this employee supports the rationale behind province’s strict driving laws, one could worry that uncertain testing will lead to discretionary policing. Sam Hart, a student from Ontario explains, “It’s going to come down to the discretion of specific judges or cops. Whenever there are ambiguities in the law you get unequal enforcement, unequal judgment.”

Are Canadian legalization laws too strict? Your answer might come down to who pulled you over, or who sentenced you in court.

Some Places Might Ban Home-Grown Cannabis

Though the federal government allows everyone to grow up to four cannabis plants, some provinces want to set their own rules. In Quebec and Manitoba, this could mean banning all home-grown cannabis.

This week, Quebec lawmaker Minister Jean-Marc Fournier traveled to Ottowa in hopes of convincing federal authorities to change the law. Minister Fournier is petitioning to change federal legislation so it guarantees Quebec’s right to ban at home marijuana growth. Currently, federal laws could overrule a provincial ban. Most likely, cases of at home marijuana growth in Quebec and Manitoba would be settled in messy court cases.

This points to a larger problem in Canadian legalization laws: inconsistency between the provincial and federal levels. As Xavier Ménard, a law student at McGill Unversity explains, “People will not know what they should do unless they go to court. It’s going to be retroactive. I think we’re going to see injustice.”

Can You Share Your Weed? Maybe Not

Are Canadian Legalization Laws Too Strict?

In places where you can grow up to four marijuana plants, you still cannot, technically, sell your harvest. Can you give to your friend?

“This is one of those grey market areas, Hart explains, “suddenly a friend of a friend wants to buy weed…”

At some point, sharing with your friends become a cottage industry in violation of the law.

The Cannabis Act Affects Marijuana-Adjacent Industries

Additionally, many provinces will have a monopoly over marijuana sales. In places like Quebec, the state will control all liquor and marijuana sales through one administrative body. This could have serious legal ramifications for people sharing weed within their communities, and for natural remedy stores that might sell cannabinoid-infused products.

“Wellness stores still fall under the same jurisdiction as a weed store,” Hart says. This means that Canadian legalization laws could force legal, pre-existing businesses that are not dispensaries to close.

Additionally, the federal government will regulate what called ‘cannabis accessories.’ These are vaguely defined as anything used in the production or consumption of marijuana. At this point, anything you might need to ingest marijuana might be exclusively sold through a government-operated store in many provinces.

Distribution Restrictions Will Limit Access

Are Canadian Legalization Laws Too Strict?

Not only may certain places ban at home marijuana growing, but you may not have a lot of options in stores. Cannabis production will be federally regulated, but distributed provincially.

Canada is the second biggest country by land mass and has a wide range of cultural attitudes towards cannabis. Some places have been tolerating illegal dispensaries for years, while others strictly enforce marijuana laws. Should all marijuana production be federal, rather than catered to individual provincial needs?

But giving the provinces too much control over Canadian legalization laws is also controversial. Ménard, who also writes about legalization, takes Quebec as an example.

“We have 8 million people and they say that they’re only going to open 15 société québécoise du cannabis dispensaries,” Ménard says. “I don’t think the government has the expertise.”

Packaging Laws Will Prevent Consumers From Making Informed Decisions

Health Canada is making sure that marijuana packaging is more unappealing that even cigarette packets. As it stands now, marijuana products cannot feature logos, mascots or any type of colorful image. The objective of these restrictions is to limit cannabis’ appeal to children and teens.

But these limitations are so severe that they may stop consumers from accessing much-needed information. North American Affairs Manager at Consumer Choice Center David Clement told High Times, “A lot of people aren’t aware of which cannabis products have THC in them, or which helps you sleep. It would be prohibited to put the desired effects [on packaging].”

From a consumer safety standpoint, Mr. Clement adds, “We would love to have brands be able to say ‘this product will not get you high.’ ”

Not only are these restrictions potentially unsafe, but they’re also hypocritical. Alcohol has comparatively few limits on branding. All across Canada, liquor companies have funded venues like Budweiser Stage in Toronto.

Are Canadian Legalization Laws Too Strict?

Having any sort of national legalization framework is groundbreaking, especially when it allows you to grow your own weed (for the most part). This does not mean, however, that there aren’t vast areas of uncertainty, injustice and bureaucratic inefficiency in the law, only some of which is unavoidable.

Aside from inequality, whether in the case of provincial regulations or unequal driving enforcement, allowing the black market to thrive should be of concern to Canadian legislators. Plain packaging restrictions enable criminals hoping to pass off un-taxed and unregulated product. Limiting cannabis production and availability also encourages black market sales.

As the federal government has stated that its biggest concern is regulating a billion dollar black market, legislators should remember that strict laws encourage people to break them.

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Virginia Will Get Its First Needle Exchange Program This Year

Virginia will get its first needle exchange program this year in an effort to prevent disease in the state. The public health initiative will most likely begin in or near Wise County, in southwestern Virginia. Officials hope to stem the tide of infectious diseases fueled by the epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction.

A new state law authorizing needle exchange programs went into effect in July of this year. Under the law, 55 counties are eligible to create needle exchange programs. But so far, only Wise County has submitted an application to begin one.

In the last ten years, Wise County, with a population of 40,000, has seen 120 deaths from opioid overdoses. Additionally, the rate of hepatitis C in the county is twice the state average.

Elaine Martin is the director of HIV prevention services with the Virginia Department of Public Health. She told local media that the health department had expected a more vigorous response to the newly authorized opportunity.

“We anticipated it to roll out maybe a little quicker than it has,” she said.

Martin also said that the health department has reviewed the application from Wise County. A site visit has been completed, and she expects the program to be authorized soon.

Needle Exchange Programs Reduce Disease

Sam Rasoul, a Democratic member of the House of Delegates from Roanoke, voted for the needle exchange program. He said that science has shown that the programs are successful in reducing the rate of disease.

“I think that we need a multi-pronged approach to the opioid epidemic and the drug issue that we have in Southwest Virginia,” said Rasoul. “We need to make sure we’re open to the data and what the data is telling us, and that’s things like syringe exchanges work in many cases.”

Martin of the health department applauded politicians like Rasoul and others who are trying to find solutions to the state’s current health crisis.

“I think it’s really exciting that they have been the leaders in this and are showing the state the way to go and are jumping right in,” she said.

Harm Reduction Is Critical

The nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse is causing a health crisis beyond overdoses. Occasionally, people who are prescribed pharmaceutical opioids become addicted while using the powerful pain medications. But once their prescriptions run out, they sometimes turn to using heroin intravenously.

Used hypodermic syringes present their own health hazards. They are often the vehicle of communicable diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

The incidence of hepatitis C has shot up in Virginia. Last year, 2141 new cases of the disease among those 18-30 years of age were reported in the state. That number was up from 840 only six years earlier. The 18-30 age group is the one most likely to use drugs intravenously.

Martin said the spike in hepatitis C has officials worried about what’s next.

“The dramatic increases in hepatitis C have been concerning,” Martin said. “Hepatitis C comes before HIV, so we’re really trying to get services in place to stop that from happening.”

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