Marijuana is NOT a Gateway Drug. Period.

Cannabis isn’t a Gateway to Other Drugs.

Throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s and even now, people have used the phrase, “Marijuana is a gateway drug.” Meaning that using cannabis will lead to other drugs like cocaine, LSD and heroin. This is unsubstantiated and based on conjecture, anecdotal stories and myths, not facts.

While some people do go onto other drugs after using cannabis; so do people who abuse alcohol or use tobacco. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, a government agency concludes, “An alternative to the gateway drug hypothesis is that people who are more vulnerable to drug-taking are simply more likely to start with readily available substances such as marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol, and their subsequent social interactions with others who use drugs increases their chances of trying a collection of cannabis stickersother drugs.”

In the 1940s—there was a report from the La Guardia Committee and the New York Academy of Medicine, which questioned cannabis prohibition. The committee found marijuana not physically addictive, not a gateway drug and that it did not lead to crime. Further, The Shafer Commission, another government agency determined in 1972 that cannabis was as safe as alcohol, and suggested an end to prohibition.

These are Gateways.

There are a number of factors that we know lead to drug use and cannabis isn’t one of them. History and research tell us that poverty and poor social conditions; access to people who have hard drugs to sell; as well as some types of mental illness lead to drug use. Cannabis prohibition and its criminalization lead to more other addictive substances than does marijuana use alone.

This is an Exit.

Research recently conducted at the University of British Columbia suggests that marijuana is one medicine that can help people ease off of opioids and other highly addictive substances. There are other studies that indicate this as well, including one in June 2017 at the University of California at Berkley, where 2,897 patients were surveyed and of the sample, 97 percent “strongly agreed/agreed” that they are able to decrease the amount of opioids they consume when they also use cannabis. With opioid overdose deaths on the increase (59,000 in 2016), it only makes sense for patients to manage their pain with medical marijuana, which according to the DEA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime hasn’t been used to the point of death.

Perhaps, it is prudent to think of cannabis as an exit, not an entry point.

image of marijuana which is part of any new marijuana business

Cannabis Taxes Are Improving Communities

“Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.”

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. is credited for saying this in an opinion he wrote nearly 100 years ago.

We’ve been reflecting on this quote since our trip to Colorado on 4/20.

A Closer Look at Where the Money Goes

Consider this receipt from downtown Denver dispensary Native Roots. We found the tax details to be so interesting!  For $48 in products we paid over 20% in taxes—that amounted to nearly an additional $10 on the transaction.

Frankly, we were delighted to pay it. In fact, we might even say that we felt altruistic seeing that we were supporting cultural facilities and RTD (Denver’s bus and rail service provider), in addition to paying the state and municipality taxes.

During our visits to dispensaries (at which there was always a healthy line of customers) we didn’t hear anyone whining over the seemingly hefty cannabis taxes. For us, this was a small price to pay for the chance to legally obtain marijuana products for recreational, adult-use. Cheers to Colorado for tapping into this vast new stream of tax revenue.

Let’s be honest, “stream” seems like an insignificant word to describe what this is really doing for Colorado. Tax flood, perhaps?

It has been reported that cannabis sales in Colorado last year easily topped $1 BILLION.  From that, the state took in nearly $200 million in cannabis tax revenue. Data shows that this amount has been steadily increasingly over the past 3 years.

To be fair, cannabis taxes in Colorado are not (yet) enough to solve all societal woes there. This point was well covered last summer in this story from Colorado’s 9 News. Utopia,no. Better than nothing, for sure!

And the state has not yet reached its full potential when it comes to tax revenue. Not only are sales steadily increasing year-over-year, but now legislators are considering maxing out the recreational marijuana special sales tax to fix the budget. For our receipt above, this could equate to an additional $2.40. Would we pay it? In a heartbeat.

Adult Use Coming to Michigan?

While Colorado is an awesome state, we are really excited for what this could all mean for Michigan, with twice the population of Colorado and an active tourism industry, we could finally solve a few issues here (the pothole-riddled roads). Our enthusiasm elevated last week when our Board of State Canvassers approved the petition to put recreational, adult-use marijuana on the ballot in 2018, assuming the petitioners can garner enough (250,000) signatures with the 180-day time frame.

Help the cause and find a location near you to sign the petition today!

Cannabis by Any Other Name

Marijuana. Weed. Pot. Ganja. Kind. Mary Jane. Grass. Reefer. Dank. Smoke. Dope. Bud. Chronic. Flower.

Everyone has a favorite word for cannabis. A word choice might come from your generation, your culture or from the point in time that you first enjoyed, or heard someone else refer to it.

At Canna Communication, we’ve purposefully selected cannabis as our word of choice, for our company and in our communication on social media. While slang is a part of our common language, and we use any or all of the words in conversation or when partaking—for work—we stick to cannabis. We do this to be clear about the business we’re in; we purposefully do this to elevate the plant by its most scientific name. Cannabis is the genus for the flowering plant in the family of Cannabacae, by the way!

Cannabis as Serious Medicine

We believe that it is important to dignify the plant with a scientific name—it gives the appropriate importance to its vital healing power. Cannabis has amazing properties that the general public is just now beginning to understand. CBDs have healing and behavior health properties that are changing people lives. Children with autism who are chronically engaged in self-harm are finding relief and calm where no other medicine could help. A growing number of cancer patients use cannabis to help relieve nausea and increase their appetite, though the traditional medical cancer sources all call for more science on efficacy. Though with cancer at at the top of the checklist for most medical applications, there is a growing body of anecdotal evidence of its use. Across the country in 29 states, physicians are recommending it for a variety of symptoms and conditions—and each state varies widely on what they recommend it for.

Cannabis for Wellness

People consume cannabis for relaxation, to help them be more social, to reduce anxiety, to unlock creativity and just because it makes them happy. In the end, isn’t being a happy person reason enough? We wear certain clothes, travel to special places, eat favorite foods and surround ourselves with special people because it makes us happy. Enjoying cannabis is no different. That’s why we believe the end of prohibition of cannabis will be good for all people who choose to use it.

Perhaps as a culture, we need to “get over” the idea the being happy isn’t something we all deserve and sometimes we need a boost, from a plant to make it happen. That’s what wellness is all about.

We heard cannabis pioneer Steven DeAngelo speak recently via Green Flower Media and we couldn’t help but cheer his wise words. Like him, we believe that cannabis has the power to change the world for the better—no matter the reason you use it or what name you give it.

View From the Front Seat of the Cannabis Bus

It’s hard to find an experience that compares to a cannabis bus tour. Maybe be a basement pot party circa 1977; or perhaps a frat house at a Midwestern college known for partying or maybe if you have 30 friends who all love cannabis and happen to be in the same place at the same time. Put one of those experiences on wheels and you’ll get a feel for a Colorado Cannabis Tour. Our tour, on 4/21 was more fun than expected and an experience we’d recommend should you find yourself in the Mile High city.

The tour on a limo/party bus departed from The Cheeba Hut in downtown Denver, where tour staff checked IDs and distributed waivers. “You might want to get a sandwich—there’s no stop for lunch, but we do have plenty of water and pop,” she said. Advice taken.

Tour bus guides
Shannon and Dan (aka Dannon)

With sandwiches and chips in hand, we boarded and were welcomed by Dan and Shannon. They laid out the itinerary and the rules: use the red Solo cups with ice as ashtrays and remain seated. That was it. They also advised saving edibles for later, as people tend to eat too much resulting in a bad time. Fair enough.

Before the bus turned the corner, people fired up and got down to getting high. Joints, pre-rolls for the most part, were passed to the left, to the right and across the aisle. I observed a joint I started travel from hand to hand to the very back end of the bus and back up toward me again. It’s making a ‘J’, I thought to myself, laughing at the idea. I’d guess there were a dozen joints burning as we rolled along.

Our first stop was River Rock dispensary. It was good to get away from some of the crowded shops downtown that were packed for the high holiday. Our fellow bus riders loaded up, giving particular attention to the Kahlifa Kush (aka Wiz Kahlifa OG). We bought some edibles—thinking that we needed something inconspicuous to put in our luggage. Plus, who can resist a cannabis-infused chili chocolate bar?

We made another stop at a glass-selling shop—the owner—complete with a broken middle finger, told jokes while blowing a glass pipe. He was incredibly focused for a pothead playing with a thousand degree flame.

Owner of Medicine Man dispensary and a cannabis leaf
The Medicine Man and His Leaf

Third stop was Medicine Man, a well-established cannabis growing operation and dispensary where Pete Williams, a member of “The First Family of Legal Marijuana“, gave a tour of his growing operations where they’re harvesting more than 50 plants each day. He talked enthusiastically about the biology of cannabis growing and cloning processes. Despite his jokes about sexual harassment, (never funny, dude) it was the most educational and memorable part of the tour.

People smoking on a bus
Puff Puff Pass

In between stops, the guides talked a little about cannabis in Colorado. But, interesting data and factual information was missing, which would have been interesting, as many of the us were 4/20 visitors. A few more details about dollar amounts and where the taxes go specifically would have been cool—before everyone got too stoned to care. Dan and Shannon were good about passing out water and passing around a big bong and steamroller. There was no shortage of pot. They also shared a snack mix of gummy bears and popcorn—a previously unknown, but worthy combination.

Is a cannabis tour worth it? Like any experience, it’s all about what you put into it and what you’re looking for. This was just fun—a different place to smoke up with a bunch of like-minded strangers and get around Denver without having to think too hard about it.

A Kid in a Candy (Cannabis) Shop

Oh my aching knee. Sorry about a cliche in a headline and in the first sentence. But there is an aching knee and my first trip to a dispensary was resulted in a whole lot of gram packages of cannabis and a few edibles.
I received my Michigan Medical Marihuana card for some chronic pain in my left knee from running. I’ve been running for more than 30 years and two years ago I injured my knee and despite cortisone injections and PT (which I still do) the knee just aches. Instead of continuing to down Ibuprofen a few times a day I opted to try MMJ.

With license in hand, I headed to Lansing to check out a few shops and buy some meds. I used Leafly for a reference and while I needed cannabis for my knee, I also wanted something that helped with upping my mood, which is affected by West Michigan’s cloud-laden winters.
I came home with a bunch of great things (see the photos) to test.
Perhaps, my eyes were bigger than my head–I feel like I’ll just be smoking and eating until July. It seems like a lot of cannabis!

I’m mostly in love with a strain called Monkey Paw, according to Leafly, it’s a strain that was created in Michigan and is from Acapulco Gold and Columbian Gold sativa with some Afghani indica. It’s balanced for the pain in my knee and helps with the mood, too. I’ve tried a few others, too, b ut this one calls to me every time.

I’m testing out lots of edibles, too. The MotorCity Cannabites bars are very tasty, but almost too powerful. I’ve been working on a cherry chocolate brownie for a couple of weeks. I want to use one of the infused gummies instead of a Gu at my next race–that should keep my mind off of my aching knee right?