7 Quick Reasons For Cannabis Criminal Justice Reform

Cannabis is arguably the most confusing plant on Earth. The nature of this plant isn’t what mystifies me though, it’s the drastic and polarizing views from both ends of the spectrum whenever cannabis comes up in conversation. As an avid and open cannabis user who has made a living out of loving this plant, I have spent many awkward conversations with extended family members or high school classmates trying to deflect the ludicrous ideas or thoughts revolving around cannabis. If you talk to someone about their favorite flower, they might not even have an answer for you, but if you talk to them about cannabis, well they have a PHD in Hypothetical Fact Calculation with an emphasis in Cannabis Pseudoscience. My point is that everyone has an opinion on this plant and no one has it 100% right, but everyone is starting to agree, we shouldn’t be caging, fining, or legally harassing other people for using cannabis. So here are 7 talking points that you can use the next time you find yourself in an awkward legal debate.

  1. Cannabis is legal, in one way or another, in 33 states. That is 33 states whose governing bodies have collectively decided that cannabis is far less harmful than Reefer Madness once taught us. If you include the 9 other states that have at least taken steps toward lessening the punishment for cannabis possession, that leaves only 8 states that remain fully illegal with no medical use allowed.

2. Cannabis is still a Schedule I drug meaning that the federal government considers it to have no medical benefit. States having medical cannabis programs directly contradicts this claim. Minimum cannabis criminal justice reform in the way of rescheduling would at least allow easier and further research into cannabis.

3. This is one of my favorites; cannabis, which is 100 percent illegal on a federal level making it much harder for our country and economy to benefit from it’s legal use and sale, is also deemed essential during even the peaks of the pandemic. I’m sure you see the irony.

4. It is morally reprehensible to allow humans to sit in cages for nonviolent cannabis offenses while other humans in the same country, often times even in the same state, are making millions for selling vastly more cannabis day in and day out.

5. We have the largest prison population on Earth at 2.2 million. With 250 million adults, that’s almost 3 percent of our adult population behind bars. The next largest prison population is in China with 1.5 million and a population of 1.39 billion putting their percentage of imprisonment at 1.07 percent. The difference is staggering and the War on Drugs has a lot to do with it.

6. Despite nearly identical usage rates, black Americans are 4 times as likely as white Americans to be arrested on cannabis related charges. Not only is there a drastic racial difference in the rate of arrest and incarceration for cannabis offenses, but on the other side of the market, only 4 percent of legal cannabis businesses are owned by black Americans. With the War on Drugs disproportionately affecting our communities of color, we would expect legalization to at least allow equal chance and opportunity for those same communities.

7. My last reason is one of the most widely known facts of cannabis; cannabis use alone has never been the cause of a single death. With a fact like that, what is prohibition protecting us from?

One day, our global society will look back on cannabis prohibition and laugh at our manufactured fear and propaganda. We will be utilizing cannabis as medicine, fuel, in textile production, and many other aspects of our daily lives and we will wonder why we were so afraid. The first step is talking about it and changing minds through dialogue and open conversation. Hopefully these 7 facts will help you have a solid argument the next time you step up to the plate against an anti-cannabis rant.

Gateway to Recovery

Many of us grew up with the D.A.R.E. program being a mandatory requirement as we prepared to go into high school.  For those of you who are not familiar with the D.A.R.E. program, it was a drug education class that was normally a part of a Health class.  For most of us, it was our first introduction to drugs.  Nancy Reagan coined the phrase that became the D.A.R.E. program’s slogan.  Just Say No.  They focused on the harm that drug abuse among teens could have on our lives.  They also told us cannabis was a gateway drug, leading to the use of harder drugs.  I argue that cannabis is a gateway drug…a gateway to recovery.  

It’s probably no surprise to you that cannabis is used by many trying to get clean from harder drugs.  Most indoctrinated with the D.A.R.E. program’s teachings might dismiss this as an addict trading one drug for another and not treating the underlying physical or psychological addiction.  But like most things, the truth isn’t quite so cut and dry.  

It’s also common knowledge that cannabis is used everyday as a natural treatment most commonly for nausea, insomnia, muscle cramps, and pain.  All symptoms any person going through detox will experience.  If a person is trying to get clean, it is hard enough to battle the voice inside your head asking for more, let alone the physical agony your body goes through getting rid of the toxins built up in your system.  Cannabis has helped many patients in relieving these extreme body aches and pains when breaking the strong physical dependence that stems from drug abuse.  

Not only does cannabis make a person a little more comfortable, but it also makes it so the body can recover easier and faster.  CBD (cannabidiol), also commonly found in cannabis, acts as a neuroprotectant of your very important brain cells, and can help protect them from cell death as a person detoxes.    

Do No Harm

“But you’re still just trading one drug for another…”  True, but there are a few really good arguments as to why this is not an issue when discussing cannabis.  

First off, doctors give heroin addicts Methadone as a way of getting off heroin all day every day. That seems just fine to the larger medical industry.  Why not something that is way safer? Why not something that is known to help treat patients?  Why not cannabis?

Only 11% of people who try cannabis become somewhat dependent.  Less addictive than coffee, let alone alcohol, cigarettes, or harder street drugs.  The majority of people who use cannabis to quit other drugs would not become addicted.

Alcohol, cigarettes, and harder drugs, all take a heavy toll on your body.  Someone who becomes addicted to any of these is almost guaranteed to take off a large chunk of their life expectancy.  In contrast, Cannabis helps regulate the body and promotes homeostasis, keeping  your body in balance.  

When you look at the harm cannabis has on communities, compared to other drugs, it’s like comparing…well, it really isn’t much to compare.  On average, 10,000 people die every year from drunk drivers.  Cigarette smoking is responsible for 480,000 deaths per year.  Many people who use harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin often commit crimes to support those habits because they are so addictive.  Not the case with cannabis.  There have been zero deaths attributed to cannabis. Not one.  Peanuts cause more deaths than cannabis.  And I have yet to meet the person who had to rob a liquor store to support their cannabis habit.  It’s just not that serious.

 Bottom line, if someone has made the mental commitment to get clean, they should be given all the help they can get.  If it makes it a little bit easier to kick a bad habit, by all means, smoke some cannabis.  Pass that joint.  It just might save someone’s life.

Industry Highlight: Canna Events by Leo

The people of Missouri voted to legalize medical cannabis almost two years ago. With that vote came the expectation of 338 businesses licensed to grow, extract and distribute THC products to medical patients. An exciting part of any budding cannabis industry that is oftentimes overlooked, are all of the ancillary businesses that start up. Home grow consultants, green doctors, bong cleaners, and event coordinators are among the many businesses that Missouri can expect. I got to catch up with Destiny Simon from Canna Events by Leo to hear about what we can expect out of them in the coming months and years.

Canna Events by Leo is based in Kansas City but plans on taking their events and classes statewide as soon as the industry is running with a more constant pace. When asked what they would consider their specialties, Destiny said education through their condition courses and inclusivity, especially for womxn, are their two main focuses. When asked about her vision, Destiny said, “We are all about womxn. If you talk to a womxn, 99% of the time she has made the choice to put herself second, whether it’s for her partner, her family; it’s usually the womxn taking the back seat.” She went on to say, “We have the opportunity to build an industry without sexism or racism.” 

Which opportunities she was most excited about bringing to patients in Missouri? “We know right now, the only options we have to help current patients are if we help build up the caregivers that offer alternative ways for us to get our meds right now…. We actually finalized our September patient caregiver event. We are building from the ground level, finding the low income patients, finding the people who don’t know where to go, and connecting them to caregivers.”

What can we look forward to about your Patient Caregiver Fair on September 19th? “Yeah! We only have 4 more spots for sponsors left available only because we are allowing only a limited capacity and because, through relationships we already have in the industry, we have filled most of the others. We are letting sponsors sell nonTHC merchandise so that they can recoup the cost of the sponsorship. We are having a capacity of 50 people at the Courthouse Exchange in Independence. We have the whole downstairs to ourselves and an outdoor consumption area sitting out in the back alley. We are going to have an app where people can order food or beverages and they will bring it to you wherever you are in the restaurant and it is contactless… We will have guest speakers, (Marne Madison from Fleur Verte Academy, LaVaughn Hamilton of Dabbing Daddies, and Vernon McClanahan the KC Grow Coach) We will have ‘Speed Weed Dating’, where our patients and our caregivers can talk and see if they’re a good match. Our tickets we have on sale from $0 to $25. If you can afford the $25, that’s your VIP ticket. You’re going to get a swag bag of goodies from us, from some of our sponsors and you’ll get 5% off any purchases. We are really excited about it and just getting to connect people.”

Which other organizations are you a member of or that you associate with? “I am the chapter leader for Kansas City Tokeativity, Women in Weed, which is kind of at a halt for now… KSCBA, the Kansas Cannabis Business Association, helping share resources so that Kansas may get off on a better foot than Missouri did. Also Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana, working with them to help build up their organization so that we can actually see the color change in Missouri. And of course Canna Matriarchs.”

If you could tell the patients of Missouri one thing, what would it be? “Research your endocannabinoid system. It’s an entire system inside of our bodies that we were never taught about. If you could learn anything that could change your life, learn about your endocannabinoid system and you can learn all about it in our Cannacian Certification Program.”

The Cannacian Certification Program, that Canna Events by Leo is offering, is a 3 step education and certification program that was created by Dr. Regina Nelson that will be taught in house. The program is three levels and each level claims to take a deeper dive into cannabis knowledge covering topics like the endocannabinoid system and pediatric cannabis use. Customers have the option to pay for the courses one-by-one or as a bundle and there are also payment plans. Below is a graphic that gives a brief overview of what each level of the course offers.

A History Fueled by Cannabis

It has long been known and talked about that hemp has played a role in human history. Archeologists have found traces of hemp products in tombs dating back 8,000 years and have continued to find products made from hemp scattered throughout the world from many different time periods. Hemp was used for rope as early as 200 BC, clothes by 570 when the Queen of France was buried in hemp linens, and hemp paper was used by the Arabs by the year 900. In fact, hemp became so important that by 1533, King Henry VIII fined any farmer who did not raise hemp. Throughout the long history of hemp use, debatably the most important use of hemp was the many ways that hemp fueled the independence of our nation. 

In 1607, when the first colonists started their voyage to the Americas, they sailed using hemp made ropes and sails. The hemp aspect was vitally important because it was the best suited material to survive the salty air and water. By 1616, hemp was being raised in the Americas. This crop would be harvested and made into more nautical equipment and clothing. Just 4 years later, the pilgrims would make the same trip using hemp made equipment.

The first industrial cannabis operation in North America was started by Benjamin Franklin when he opened up a hemp paper mill in 1765. The most important thing to come from this mill was Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. This pamphlet was published in January of 1776 and was crucial in convincing the common people of the colonies to separate from the monarchy of England and establish a democratic republic. By April of 1776, there were over 100,000 copies in circulation, all on Franklin’s American made hemp paper. Thomas Paine’s other political works The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason were also published on hemp paper.

Contrary to popular belief, the final and official Declaration of Independence that was signed by the founders was actually written on cured animal skin; but the first several drafts were written on hemp paper, including the draft that immortalized the Fourth of July in American history. In fact, until 1883 almost all American literature was printed on hemp paper including the works of Mark Twain, Frederick Douglas, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Fast forward to 1937 and the Marijuana Tax Act was passed placing a tax on all cannabis sales (including hemp). Many people think that this put a halt to our governments use of Industrial hemp, but by 1942 the USDA started the “Hemp for Victory” program to have farmers help with the war effort by raising 150,000 acres of hemp. That same year, Henry Ford created a car made from hemp fiber. Unfortunately, after World War II was over, the hemp industry continued to decline at the hands of corporate entities and lobbyists. By 1970, all cannabis was included in the ever controversial Controlled Substance Act classified as a Schedule I drug being labeled as dangerous as heroin. In 1996 California became the first state to side with the patients and legalize medical cannabis. Washington, Oregon, and Alaska followed suit with their own medical programs only 2 years later. Now in 2020 there are 11 states with legal adult use and 33 states with their own medical cannabis programs. 

From the very moment our country declared independence and immortalized July 4th as Independence Day, cannabis has been here every step of the way. Cannabis sturdied our sails, fueled our military, and now helps us heal. The cannabis industry has created nearly 250,000 full time jobs and has beaten out every financial prediction made; even surviving financial crises. Cannabis has and will continue to fuel the history of the United States (and the world). Happy Independence Day.

Clones (or Seeds I Guess)

Which is better, starting from a seed or a clone? This question has divided the cannabis growing community for years with most growers having a hard stance on the topic. Some growers will argue in favor of growing from a seed because of the natural taproot formed, better anchoring the plant in place, while other growers will argue in favor of cloning because you can replicate the same medicinal effects of a mother plant. No matter what side of the debate you’re on, one thing is for certain, dispensaries having the ability to sell clones to legal and compliant patient growers only enhances patient access and their ability to properly medicate themselves.

Dispensaries should be able to sell clones. It’s the safest, fastest, and most effective way to guarantee the effects that your medicine will have on you. Clones taken from a mother plant are genetically identical to the mother plant itself and therefore will cause similar, if not the same effects. Now before you quote me, let me clarify; growing skill and methods, light exposure, soil (or soiless concoction) quality, and a plethora of other factors will go into whether or not your cannabis is “good”. BUT! If you have a solid growing method that you are comfortable with and you successfully propagate a clone and grow it with generally the same elements and amount of skill, you will have a harvest that offers very similar  physiological and psychoactive effects. You get it. Without further ado, here’s three reasons why Missouri dispensaries should be able to sell clones.

First: I feel like this may be overstated by now, but did I mention that a clone offers identical genetics as its mother plant. The reason this is so important in a medical state is because consistency is vitally important when it comes to proper dosing of any compound(s). Consistent genetics leads to consistent results for the patient’s symptom relief. For further clarification, call your local pharmacy and ask them why xanax and oxycontin aren’t used for the same conditions or symptoms. 

Second: Growing from a clone is more cost effective than buying ounces of finished and ready to use products. So let’s talk about patient access. Patient access is defined as the ability for patients to obtain symptom relief by taking charge of their own health care. Nothing would open up access to high quality and affordable cannabis medicine better than selling clones directly to the patient themselves and allowing the patient to “take charge of their own healthcare” by sourcing, growing, and preparing their own medicine at a fraction of the cost. A single clone can cost as much as an ⅛ and yield as much finished product as an ounce or more! If you have purchased cannabis before, you know that is a difference of a couple hundred dollars.

Third: A clone takes less time to grow. A clone that is bought from a dispensary is rooted and about a month further along in its growth cycle than a plant that pops from a seed at the same time. This speeds up the process of acquiring homegrown, consistent and cost effective cannabis medicine when compared to seeds.

Bonus: Seeds are not guaranteed to be female or produce well (if at all). When you buy a pack of regular seeds you can expect about a 50% male to female ratio. You can also expect that some seeds won’t produce at all. This is normal and expected, but a clone doesn’t have these shortcomings.

Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri DHSS, when talking about his department once said “Our North Star is to help people. That has to be the basis for action. We’re not acting just to act. We’re acting to help people,” The sale of clones directly to a legal and compliant Missouri patient cultivator or caregiver from licensed and compliant dispensaries would be the peak of patient access. Clone sales allow access to affordable, consistent, and efficient cannabis medicine to further and more completely “help people” in Missouri. We aren’t asking to grow 100 plants in our garages; we are asking for maximum patient access and maximum control over our own symptom relief.

Anxiety and How Cannabis Helps

I’ve written, and rewritten this blog three times now, each time changing the subject and each time finding some reason to scrap it and start over. It’s a cycle that I have become familiar with; the need to perfect whatever task I have put my attention on in order to deliver, not what someone else expects of me, but what I expect of myself. A standard that I sometimes put so high that it becomes impossible to reach. It causes my heart to race and my thoughts to speed through my head faster than my words can keep up with. Then, by trying to catch just pieces of those thoughts, I start to feel the familiar swell start in the back of my head. My foot will start to tap and my jaw will tighten. If I don’t slow down by this point my hands will start to shake and I’ll get tunnel vision. After that, I have a panic attack. Simply put, I have anxiety, but cannabis helps.

Before I dive in, I wanted to acknowledge that cannabis isn’t for everyone. I understand that not everyone enjoys the effects or finds them therapeutic. At one point in my life cannabis sometimes gave me terrible anxiety, but after spending some time exploring what cannabis could do, I found what worked for me. If you are considering giving cannabis a first time try (or another try) for anxiety relief, here are some tips from someone who has done the “field testing” for you. What works for me may not work for you and I wouldn’t recommend cannabis to anyone who wasn’t comfortable with the idea of using it in the first place but I hope some of you find benefit from these tips.

Tip Number 1. It’s not all about the THC. I started out by chasing the highest THC percentage that I could find. A high THC percentage tends to speed up my heart rate and that is absolutely not how my anxiety goes away. These days I find myself preferring around 18 percent THC.

Tip Number 2. It’s very easy to use more but impossible to use less. Start with a small dose and work your way up in small increments. If you’re smoking, take a drag and wait a couple minutes before taking another. If you would prefer to try an edible, take ½ or even a ⅓ of what’s recommended. It is important not to speed through finding the proper dose for yourself.

Tip Number 3. If it smells good, it will feel good. It sounds cheesy but it works for me most of the time. When I smell dried cannabis, I can feel my body relax a little when I find a terpene profile that will suit me best when smoked.

Tip Number 4. Learn where your tipping point is. This is less about cannabis and more about knowing yourself. If your anxiety is working up and you don’t feel comfortable or at ease with the thought of medicating or medicating more, then don’t.

Tip Number 5. Always remember, you won’t die from using cannabis. There has been exactly zero(0) deaths from cannabis overdose. Keeping that fact in mind will oftentimes help alleviate the anxiety caused from using cannabis… for anxiety.

As I said before, don’t use cannabis to medicate until you are comfortable with the idea of it in the first place. By no means is this the only path to take when using cannabis to help prevent or calm anxiety. If you ever have any questions don’t ever hesitate to ask your bud tender. Trust me, they like talking about cannabis and will love to talk to you about it. Now when dispensaries open up, hopefully these five tips can speed up the process of finding your effective dose range.

Cannabis Therapy and Pain Management

By: Aspen Jewel

Over the past decade, cannabis has regained popularity as a therapeutic treatment for those experiencing pain. Many people find that prescribed drugs do not work after time; it has a lot to do with the buildup of these drugs in your body. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system has resulted in over 16,000 studies in the U.S. alone. A systematic review of clinical trials over the past 40 years has proven that cannabis can be incredibly effective at managing pain associated with debilitating illnesses such as chronic pain, neuropathy, arthritis, and cancer.

Chronic Pain

A large portion of patients I meet are experiencing chronic pain on many levels. Studies show that only three in every ten chronic pain sufferers find relief in prescribed pharmaceutical options (Hauser, 2019). Chronic pain is the most studied ailment in the cannabis research community. Overall, cannabinoids have been found to block the transmission of pain. Combined with opiates, cannabis increases efficacy of drugs used for chronic pain by up to one thousand percent. It is important that someone interested in trying cannabis knows that the process to find your perfect “blend” can take a few months. Like any medication regimen, cannabis therapy will include trial and error. For example, the strain White Widow might help inflammation and pain, but the tired & groggy feeling wouldn’t be suitable for daytime use. Professional bud tenders will be able to discuss the reported effects associated with any medical cannabis products.

Neuropathic Pain

Damage to the nervous system can result in chronic pain, otherwise known as neuropathy. This disease typically causes weakness or numbness in the area affected. Clinical trials over the past decade have proven cannabis to be highly useful in the treatment of pain. Steroids that are often given to help combat inflammation in the nerves can lower the efficacy of the immune system over time. The nervous system and endocannabinoid system work closely in the body; both are involved in homeostasis. This feedback loop creates balance in the body when it comes to temperature and maintaining a stable internal environment. In addition to neuropathy, cannabis has been proven to help with neuropathic pain linked to trauma, vascular disease, multiple sclerosis and more.

Arthritis

Cannabis is famously used for this common movement disorder. Arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, which results in pain when moved. Cannabis relieves pain by working closely with the nervous system while reducing inflammation simultaneously. Juvenile arthritis is often treated with a high-CBD strain to reduce euphoric side effects. One-to-one ratios of THC to CBD in cannabis have been proven to help children’s arthritic symptoms. It is recommended to “microdose” this ratio throughout the day (about every 2 hours). I would suggest doing 2.5mg CBD with 2.5mg THC (1 to 1) for first timers. Those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis will often use a good inflammation-targeting strain in conjunction with a cannabis lotion. Essential oils such as camphor and lavender can help with absorption of the cannabis, which is why a lotion is often preferred over using a tincture topically. There are many inflammation-targeting strains, from the relaxed Grand Daddy Purp to the uplifting MediHaze. In an animal trial, researchers found that cannabis blocked progression of arthritis if used regularly “without evident side effects,” (Hammell, 2015).

Cancer

Research has proven that cannabis can stop certain types of abnormal cell growth. Along with helping to stop the growth of cancerous tumors, cannabis helps with the side-effects of traditional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. The nausea and other aching systems that individuals undergoing pharmaceutical treatments experience can be drastically reduced with a regular cannabis regimen. Cannabis is known to increase appetite and reduce hyperemesis (vomiting). Relaxing, broad-leaf cannabis strains for nausea and lack-of-appetite include Northern Lights and Blueberry Diesel. Uplifting, narrow-leaf anti-nausea strains include Super Lemon Haze and White Fire OG. Many who experience insomnia due to cancer treatment will use a broad leaf cannabis strain to combat the irregular sleep/wake cycles without known side-effects. 

Cannabis can work with the nervous system and endocannabinoid system to reduce pain and inflammation. When used regularly, cannabinoids can build up in your body and provide a greater therapeutic use. Research has shown that cannabis has an array of uses ranging from anti-inflammatory to appetite stimulating. The side effects of pharmaceutical drugs are often combatted by cannabis use. Be sure to talk to your doctor when using cannabis in conjunction with any other medications. Ask your local bud tender about the right cannabis regimen for your conditions and day-to-day lifestyle.

Aspen Jewel
General Manager, Health & Wellness
Kansas City Cannabis Company
[email protected]

Häuser, W., Welsch, P., Klose, P., Radbruch, L., & Fitzcharles, M.-A. (2019). Efficacy, tolerability and safety of cannabis-based medicines for cancer pain. Der Schmerz, 33(5), 424–436. doi: 10.1007/s00482-019-0373-3

Hammell, D., Zhang, L., Ma, F., Abshire, S., Mcilwrath, S., Stinchcomb, A., & Westlund, K. (2015). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain, 20(6), 936–948. doi: 10.1002/ejp.818