Read the latest cannabis news, lifestyle tips, education and more from Big Buds Guide, the largest cannabis information network. Home Office considers cannabis oil trial to help boy with epilepsy. Minister meets family of High time: a grownup’s guide to the cannabis revolution. Despite a strong performance Friday, U.S. cannabis stocks had a bad week, with the United States Marijuana Index, which tracks 15 of the largest marijuana stocks in the U.S., losing roughly 4 percent of its value. The North American Marijuana Index, which also includes Canadian stocks. Marijuana.com is the leading cannabis-related message forum and news site for in-depth, comprehensive cannabis strain and product education, marijuana media, growshop information and pricing. We are the source for serious, factual news videos about everything to do with cannabis, its industrial, medicinal and recreational use.
(N.B. Only US and Canada residents eligible. You can also earn extra entries—see below.)
Electric Sky 300 – Next Level Growing Technology
However, for those of you who don’t know the ES300 yet…
Here’s why those in the know are already over on the Green Sunshine Co. site, typing in their email address:
The Electric Sky 300 is a powerful, $695 commercial-level grow lamp that’s starting to make a real name for itself in the cannabis growing community. Why?
Well, firstly, the ES300 gives super-even coverage over a 2′ x 4′ area for flowering, or up to 3′ x 5′ for veg. We’re talking a perfectly rectangular ‘electric sky’ above your plants (hence the name) that even gives good PAR values at the corners and edges of your grow. No hotspots.
It’s also efficient, needing only 300W to give that kind of 500W HPS equivalent coverage, not to mention great canopy penetration.
But of course the proof is in the growing, right? So check out the videos below.
In this video, on The Green Sunshine Company’s home page, you can see the light’s rectangular footprint through the clever use of a smoke machine:
(When you’ve entered, get 5 extra chances to win by watching this video and answering a question. Watch to the end for the answer.)
This one covers the flowering phase of a big indoor organic grow under Electric Sky 300s, week by week, from beginning to frosty end.
Check it out:
Or check out this timelapse video of two ES300s vs 1000W HPS (starts on day 6 of flower, Electric Sky is on the right):
40% less power usage, no drop in yield or quality. Pretty impressive, no?
And you could get that for free!
So, to be in with a chance of winning, just head on over to the Green Sunshine Company and sign up for their newsletter:
All of them have a problem with cannabis related content. AdSense doesn’t allow its ads to be run alongside anything that could be construed as promoting recreational drugs. Facebook (including Instagram) has long been known for removing cannabis related pages and ads without warning. And recently…
Videos and entire channels of cannabis content have been disappearing from YouTube. Often without the usual strikes or warnings. Even long established channels and big names like Jorge Cervantes. While other similar channels, not to mention videos flagrantly in violation of YouTube guidelines mysteriously remained.
People are calling it the YouTube Cannabis Purge.
So what’s going on?
What social media alternatives do cannabis content creators and businesses have?
And where can folks who just want to talk to each other about the green stuff and learn more about it without censorship go to?
That’s what we’re going to cover in this article. Read on and find out how cannabis enthusiasts are helping each other out and taking matters into their own hands to provide the kinds of online spaces and services that Facebook, YouTube and the like are increasingly taking away.
Back around March/April time, we started to see a lot of articles and tweets about YouTube weed channels being terminated. We also started to notice a lot of the YouTube videos that we often embed in our articles here and on 420 Beginner were no longer available—it seemed a bit more difficult, too, to find videos to replace them or to add to our new articles.
We even came across one article that wondered whether it was Spanish language cannabis videos that were being targeted—the biggest Spanish language cannabis YouTube channel had been suddenly deleted, along with a number of similar smaller channels.
But it soon seemed more likely that it was actually part of a much wider, international purge (although it’s not impossible the new/updated algorithm happened to get started on Spanish language YouTube videos first).
Because that’s how YouTube moderation works:
It’s an algorithm (or bots, or AI or machine learning, whichever term you prefer), primarily, that categorizes content into certain groups advertisers can opt out of and checks for content that violates YouTube’s community guidelines.
You can report videos manually, of course, and some are flagged manually too, but with a staggering amount of content uploaded every minute (300 hours worth) never mind every day, an algorithm’s the only practical way to monitor the lot. (That link seems to be YouTube’s main statement on what it’s been doing.)
And yep, the YouTube content moderation algorithm was altered significantly earlier this year. But more on that shortly…
YouTube’s Strike System
Normally, if a video is flagged by the system or enough viewers, then it receives a strike. Three strikes within three months and you’re out. Channel terminated.
Weed videos getting strikes is not uncommon. But nor is the strike being removed after an appeal and manual review.
Putting your videos behind an age restriction tends to avoid a lot of problems too.
But what has been happening recently is entire channels being terminated without the slightest warning beforehand.
In some cases, an age restriction might have avoided the problem. Some channels deleted didn’t have one (and some educational channels arguably had pretty good reason to think they didn’t need one).
But mostly the problem seems to have been that the algorithm flagged so many videos all at once that three strikes (or more) got applied to many channels before there was even a chance to react or appeal.
(The whole mess, including the controversial decision to demonetize smaller channels, quickly came to be known as the Adpocalypse.)
The result: YouTube’s formerly under-zealous moderating was rapidly amped up to over-zealous instead.
To get advertisers, lawmakers and viewers back on side, YouTube needed to be seen to act—and act pretty quickly. There needed to be a big crackdown on content that violates—or, as it turned out in many cases, merely might violate—YouTube community guidelines. A.k.a content that’s not advertiser friendly.
Because cannabis was far from the only area of content affected.
Everything from ASMR videos to conspiracy theories to people talking about sexual identity started to see significant changes in how content was moderated and which videos were eligible for monetization. Again, in an often quite scattergun seeming fashion.
Some YouTubers lost their only source of income overnight.
YouTube Moderation is Playing Catch-Up
For many years, content moderation and what does and doesn’t count as free speech was somewhat of an afterthought for YouTube. They tried to avoid speaking publicly about their policies; to not be seen as upholding or censoring any particular ideology over another. It was all about just adding more and more content. And increasing the ad views.
But slowly that laissez-faire moderation has been catching up to them.
And in the last six months or more, the pace of YouTube’s attempt to rectify it seems to have increased pretty rapidly.
YouTube has admitted, though without going into specifics, that there have been mistakes on what’s been flagged and removed. But it’s also admitted that there will likely be more to come. Just because improving its moderating is such a huge and complicated task.
Some channels we heard had been deleted seem to have returned (Jorge Cervantes’, for instance), while others apparently are still struggling to even get their appeals heard. The YouTube cannabis purge isn’t quite over yet.
Another part of the whole problem seems to be that channels are being categorized into some quite broad categories, largely by AI. So that advertisers can then choose to opt out of these categories.
However, that very broad categorization can see totally disparate channels and videos all falling under the same umbrella, or under the wrong umbrella entirely. Even if your channel’s still online, or back online, you might no longer be eligible to run ads on it (assuming you were before).
So, given that weed content on YouTube is facing a pretty uncertain future, where else can we go now to watch and upload content about growing or consuming weed?
But if you’re a content creator, it’s still a smaller audience and you’ll likely need a pro account, which will cost you.
Also, many content creators in categories badly affected by YouTube’s clean up mission have signed up with Patreon to allow them to continue to make an income.
However, one of the great things about the cannabis world is that there’s quite the DIY spirit running through a lot of it.
And with YouTube no longer a safe haven for videos about weed, it wasn’t long before some YouTube weedtubers decided to create their own alternative: TheWeedTube.com.
Crowdfunded in rapid time ($6,500 in two weeks), it was supposed to be launched on the obvious date (4/20).
However, thanks to the massive uncertainty over whether their own YouTube channels would survive the cull and the rapid funding, The Weed Tube founders actually launched a little sooner.
And it seems to have taken off.
While I have to admit I don’t find it quite as user friendly as YouTube just yet (I much prefer YouTube’s embedding options, for instance; and you’ll find some pretty badly mis-tagged videos under the Growing/Gardening category), The Weed Tube already has active content creators and plenty of videos. The ads are all cannabis relevant too, which makes a change.
Whether you’re a cannabusiness looking to grow a following, a rec or medical consumer looking for info, or a home grower looking for tips and grow journals, it’s worth a look.
Finally, one purely educational cannabis channel deleted from YouTube, Green Flower, has started its own video platform. Not directly in response to being deleted—plans were already in the works. But it’s one way to go. (If you’re interested: Some of the content is on a premium tier and you have to sign up. But there’s some decent free stuff too.)
Where Else Can Growers (and Cannabusinesses) Hang Out Online?
All the old forums are still out there, of course. Long-time favorites like icmag.com or the 420 Magazine forums, for instance, are still going strong.
But thanks to the multiple difficulties of running a cannabis business on, advertising on, and sometimes even just openly discussing weed on the most popular social media platforms—essentially, you’re constantly trying to stay the right side of a line of entirely uncertain size and location—a whole host of promising weed-friendly alternatives have sprung up in recent years.
As with any alternative to the big players in social media, the major difficulty is always going to be in getting enough of the right users on board to reach that tipping point—that point where you need to be on the platform, because everyone else is. (Known in economics as the network effect.) Many a would-be Facebook or “Facebook for [insert niche]” has fallen at that hurdle.
But there are some promising canna-centric alternatives to the big names. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting options.
Smoke Network was born out of many of the problems we’ve already related and linked to in this article. It’s due to launch sometime in the next few months, but you can sign up to try out the demo network right now.
When we asked for a quote, Co-Founder Joseph Ashburner described the new platform to us like this:
Smoke Network was created to help cannabis users and content producers avoid discrimination on popular social media sites and also allow them to earn off of original content. The platform was created for the cannabis community to allow everyone a free place to share their passion for cannabis and be rewarded for it in the process.
If you’ve heard of Steem.it, then Smoke Network will be a lot like Steem.it—but for cannabis.
And if you haven’t heard of Steem.it, then what we’re talking about here is a social media platform for the cannabis community, free from censorship and government interference, where (unlike on Facebook) you actually own all your own data and can make money from it.
Well, it’s all built on blockchain technology and a cryptocurrency called SMOKE. Which to those of us who might use it and post content when it fully launches, basically all just means that participants will get paid in cryptocurrency for interacting and receiving likes.
You’ll be able to exchange that currency for regular currency, spend it in various ways on the site and with other businesses that accept it.
Blockchain is also the technology that enables the platform to be extremely secure, private and difficult to censor, by making everything totally decentralized.
And that’s not even the full extent of their plans:
Long term, the plan is that Smoke Network will further evolve into a strain database, dispensary reviews, grow journals and a tool for peer-to-peer cannabis transactions. An entire, censor-proof cannabis ecosystem. For more details check out the White Paper (PDF).
I’ve had a little play with the test network, and it all looks very promising.
My one criticism: I’d really like to be able to more easily see whether an item of content is going to be an article, video, photo or short bit of text before I click on it.
But it is a test network, and from what I’ve read it sounds like that functionality will be firmly in place when the real network is launched.
Mastodon is a free, open source Twitter, with a 500-character limit. When you first encounter it, frankly, it can be confusing as hell…
Mainly because, once you start the signup wizard, you soon discover it’s kind of not just one network—you can actually join any one of multiple “instances” of Mastodon. And if marijuana is what you want to talk about, it’s hard to know which one to join (more on that shortly).
Instances seem to be separate networks, all running the open source Mastodon technology (or protocol), each centered around particular interests. Different servers, essentially. All of these instances are decentralized, but you can still join in on other instances.
Kind of like Subreddits on Reddit, but not—because there is no central “Reddit” overseeing them all, they’re all their own separate entities. (Not wholly unlike the difference between state and federal marijuana laws, I suppose—but much less dysfunctional 🙂 )
From there, you’ll learn that the main Mastodon instance is mastodon.social. That one may be temporarily closed to new users when you visit, having grown very quickly. However, there are plenty of others, and joining one usually doesn’t prevent you from communicating across the others.
And much like Twitter, it’s by using hashtags like #cannabis that you’ll find relevant “toots” and “tooters” to interact with and follow.
(And yes, the creator of Mastodon is a fan of the metal band.)
Other Weed Social Media Platforms:
Smoke isn’t yet fully launched and Mastodon isn’t weed-specific. So here’s a selection of the most popular and most promising social networks we could find that are totally centered around cannabis—and that you can use today. You’ll find networks here for both weed lovers and cannabusinesses.
Mass Roots is a network focused on product and strain reviews and a dispensary finder. As well as news on the site (if you’re a content creator, you may be able to syndicate your articles there), it also has iOS and Android apps. It’s also looking to make use of blockchain technology in the near future.
A cannabis social network with a strains database and reviews. As well as the usual features, you can also earn Perk$coins, which can be spent on goods and services on the site (if you’re a business you can use them to buy ads) or converted into real world currency.
A social network for cannabis enthusiasts with iOS and Android apps. Has apparently become known as more of a dating site. (If 420 dating apps appeal to you, it’s a growing niche. Do a search and you’ll find plenty to choose from.) However, the reviews on the Play Store are not great, so I wouldn’t expect too much!
We linked to a Leafly article above, but as well as some great articles it also boasts a dispensary finder and strain directory and smartphone app. It’s not exactly social media, but you can review strains and dispensaries.
WeedLife.com calls itself the Facebook of cannabis. And that’s pretty accurate. It looks much the same, but with green instead of blue. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the consumer social network part of WeedLife Network, a company which also offers a whole raft of different sites and services to the cannabis industry—from marketing tools and advertising to PR and WeedCircles, a cannabis businesses social network.
Cannabis.net, on the other hand, calls itself the Facebook of weed. Again, it looks a lot like Facebook but green. As well as building a community, Cannabis.net aims to offer “a fully integrated media platform to support the growth of the budding marijuana industry; while providing comprehensive resources to locate, educate, employ and entertain cannabis connoisseurs and service industry professionals.”
A social network for cannabis businesses, Cannabiz Connection describes itself as “a comprehensive, one-stop-shop for business owners looking to start-up or grow their business in the cannabis industry; or simply help your existing business to prosper… A social network and business accelerator, all built into one platform.”
Another online cannabis business social network, global and modeled more on LinkedIn.
Want To Advertise Your Cannabusiness Online? Or Host Ads on Your Site? Here’s How
For advertisers wanting to reach an audience of cannabis users or growers there are three main alternatives to AdWords and AdSense that we know of: Mantis, Traffic Roots and 420Network.
For those who don’t know already, AdWords is Google’s platform for advertisers, while AdSense is used by publishers like us to host those ads (or at least it could be used by us if we didn’t talk about cannabis).
Mantis, 420Network and Traffic Roots all broadly mirror that setup. In other words, you can sign up to them as an advertiser and run your ads on lots of different relevant websites, or you can sign up as a publisher and monetize your website by publishing other people’s ads.
If you’re wondering, the ads you see on this site are from Mantis. It was pretty easy to set up and implement on the site and we feel the ads that get served are relevant to our readers. So, for us, the platform works well so far.
However, we haven’t really looked into 420Network or Traffic Roots yet, beyond mentioning them in this article. So if you clicked on those links you know about as much as us now!
Don’t Totally Discount Advertising on Facebook, Google, Etc.
Finally, maybe don’t entirely give up on Facebook and Google Ads.
I’ve been seeing ads for Dealzer on Facebook for a while now. If you don’t know already, they sell grow cabinets—many of them stealth grow boxes. So how are they managing to run those ads, you might well ask…
Well, firstly, when you click on the ad, the landing page has no mention whatsoever of cannabis—just indoor gardening. And, secondly, it looks like the whole site has been purged of explicit reference to cannabis, marijuana, etc.
So if you can find the right angle, that avoids all clear mentions of cannabis, you might still be able to run ads on Facebook. You have to have a product that gives you that option, though, of course—and know the ad guidelines to the letter and get a bit creative.
Despite the increasing legalization and norml-ization of cannabis worldwide, social media platforms are struggling to adapt their policies to the new landscape.
Admittedly, there are still massive legal and classificatory conflicts and gray areas in the real world, which doesn’t help. And moderating huge volumes of content is no easy task. Most of us accept that.
Moreover, some videos were demonstrably in violation of community guidelines. Even if unknowingly and often made with the best of intentions.
However, it’s the scattergun, haphazard and above all inconsistent approach to content moderation that many social media and advertising platforms take in relation to cannabis—and the frustrating slowness, unapproachability and unhelpfulness they display when mistakes are made or specific explanations are requested—that has angered and confused cannabis content creators, cannabis enthusiasts and cannabusiness owners.
Fortunately, where the current big players are failing, the cannabis community is increasingly stepping in to fill the void. Social weedia is becoming more than just a pun.
Before writing this article, I knew of a few cannabis social networks and ad platforms—but I’ve stumbled on a whole lot more. And may well have made work for myself—further researching and signing the site up to a few of them!
We’ll add any profile details here. And likely update the article soon with more info and more links.
Their eBay factory shop is cheaper than Amazon. (You can’t accuse us of burying the lead! 🙂 )
Not only that but some MarsHydro lights just aren’t available on Amazon anymore.
And those are just the two main reasons…
So if you’re considering buying a MarsHydro grow light or grow tent, read on to find out a bit more about MarsHydro, what they sell—and why it could be worth your while to buy from the eBay store.
Oh, and we’ve got a nice surprise for you at the end…
*What do we mean by a Sponsored Post? A sponsored post just means that we’ve been paid to write about MarsHydro and its eBay store—but what we write has been left up to us.
We agreed because we’ve always written positively about the company and its products in the past, and we know they’re already popular with our readers, so we weren’t concerned about a conflict of interests. Plus, we felt it was well worth alerting you guys to the lower prices at their eBay store. Also: there’s that surprise we just mentioned…
MarsHydro: A brief introduction
MarsHydro grow lights have earned a great reputation among growers for very competitive prices—but combined with component and build quality that exceeds most lights at similar price points.
For instance, rather than no-name LED diodes, Mars lights use zener protected Epistar and/or CREE LED chips. (Zener protection means that if one LED fails the rest continue to work.)
Moreover, MarsHydro lights are tested at least three times for quality control and all products are fully safety certified for US, Canadian and EU markets.
Founded in 2009, the company has been developing and perfecting its products for nine years now. And the Mars factory shop itself has a history on eBay going back over six years, with 99.9% positive feedback. They reply to enquiries within one business day.
While MarsHydro lights are manufactured in China, a network of warehouses and repair centers across the US/Canada/UK/Germany/Australia handles local shipping and servicing. For the vast majority of our readers that means fast, free or cheap local shipping; local repairs; and no extra customs fees.
Shipping within the USA is free. And packaging is discreet.
Mars also stocks its own grow tents and protective glasses for dealing with the ultra-brightness of LEDs.
What else we like about MarsHydro grow lights
Full spectrum, for use throughout your grow
Plenty of info given on the exact spectrum, footprint and PAR values of each light—too many manufacturers still don’t give growers enough of this info
No unrealistic claims about what wattage of HID lights they can replace
Hanging kit, region-specific power cable and instruction manual included
Minimum of 1 year manufacturer warranty with free service or returns with first 90 days (after that, Mars sends parts for free, or you pay shipping to the repair center and Mars pays return shipping)—warranty length depends on product.
Advantages of buying from the MarsHydro eBay factory shop:
Did we mention already that the eBay factory shop is cheaper than buying from Amazon?
Besides that not insignificant point, it’s also worth noting that the eBay store sells some models that aren’t available on Amazon.
Another advantage: You can be sure that you’re buying authentic goods directly from the company, rather than from a reseller raising the price or someone selling fakes (it happens). Just make sure the store name is “marshydro”.
Selling on eBay also means the company can offer the occasional auction of new or used equipment. Your chance to perhaps pick up a great bargain.
Plus they offer some good deals on multi-product packages, which you won’t find on Amazon.
They’ve kindly given us a discount code to share with you, our readers.
Just sign up to our weekly newsletter before the end of June and we’ll send you details of how to get 10% off your purchase. (See below for sign up form. Signing up also gives you access to our sister site’s free ebook: Complete Beginners’ Guide to Growing Weed Indoors.)
Existing subscribers, don’t worry, you won’t be left out. The details will be shared in the newsletter today and for the rest of the month.
Not sure which MarsHydro light to buy? No worries, we’ve already reviewed a few over on 420Beginner.com and we’ll be adding some more reviews over the next few months. (N.B. We said “next few weeks” in the newsletter—we meant “months”!)
We promise: NO SPAM. Just our weekly newsletter, bringing you our latest posts and the occasional relevant offer.
What we have been showing you is a major industry that is about to explode in value.
There are 200,000 medical marijuana users in Canada today, and an ever-growing number of proven treatments for diseases by this amazing plant. Whenever legalization takes place, every one of the 27 million adults in Canada will be allowed to consume it. If every adult did so, that would mean that the market for marijuana sales would grow by 13,500%…
Let’s be real, however—your granny probably isn’t going to invite you round for her homemade space cakes and not everyone will come around to consuming cannabis!
Large numbers of Canadians will though.
A growing market
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), in 2015 one in five Canadian adults smoked cannabis that year. The same polls suggested that 30% would become consumers if it was legalized. That’s a total market of more than nine million Canadians and a potential for the market to grow by nearly 4,500%!
While medical research does indeed show that a joint a day can keep the doctor at bay, this won’t happen. People will consume it at different intensities and regularity over time.
Whatever the case, it is widely understood that the Canadian marijuana industry is set to grow to $22.6 billion in the first year. It will generate tax revenues of $1 billion for the Canadian public purse alone.
What does this mean for investors?
For investors all this means one thing:
Some penny stocks today will be worth hundreds of dollars each in the next 12 months.
While some businesses will fail, others are set to make their owners multimillionaires or even billionaires.
As with all investment there will be an element of risk involved, of course.
The marijuana industry is, however, at just the same point in history as Microsoft and Apple were in the 1980’s when only spotty geeks used computers.
Founder of Microsoft Bill Gates would retire as the richest man on the planet, and you can’t walk down the street without seeing someone holding onto their Apple product, that they have possibly bought from Amazon which has made Jeff Bezos worth $100 billion.
The cannabis industry in Canada has had a long run up to legalization. From the first semi-legal grows in 1999, we now have an industry serving 130,000 users and this is set to grow to nine million in the coming months. Many companies have had time to grow in this time and some are already giants, in one case worth nearly $5 billion already.
Want to invest in pot stocks? Here’s what to look for
When you set out to invest you should consider spreading your risk between firm and safe bets and those which might fly high but have a chance of sinking like a rock.
While it doesn’t always happen, the big guys tend to be safer bets.
Investopedia has a good list of the best market capitalized cannabis companies in Canada.
Its highest valued company is Canopy Growth Corp, which has a number of brands under its umbrella including Snoop Dogg supported Tweed. It is currently worth $4.987 billion as of January 2, 2018. This is one of those companies that is set to totally dominate the market—think of buying into Microsoft in the 1990’s just before the internet went big.
PharmaCan is currently capitalized at $1.222 billion. It invests in pot companies in Canada and owns outright two companies in this sector. Thanks to legalization the grower industry will explode in value. Growers are set to benefit in every province in Canada, even as some provinces are set to only allow sales through government dispensaries.
Emerald Health Therapeutics is worth nearly $564 million and investors saw a 473% return in the last 12 months. Its strength is in serving British Colombia, which is the pot capital of Canada.
SupremePharma’s stock value grew by 100% in the last year. Is this due to the volatility in the market as a whole? As a well-established marijuana producer, it is set to grow extremely quickly when the doors open to recreational use.
Investing in cannabis? Jump on in!
There will be people making very fast money when marijuana is legalized in Canada in the next year. That is beyond doubt.
Those who brazenly throw sums they can’t afford at any old venture could lose their shirts as they did in the Dotcom Bubble at the turn of the Century.
Those who take care, do their research and place their investments carefully in proven businesses are set to see huge returns.
Threats and announcements from the Department of Justice
On September 20, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said to a press conference in San Diego, “It doesn’t strike me that the country would be better if it’s being sold at every street corner.”
Just the week before, his deputy Rod Rosenstein said somewhat alarmingly, “I think there is some pretty significant evidence that marijuana turns out to be more harmful than a lot of people anticipated, and it’s more difficult to regulate than I think was contemplated ideally by some of those states.”
The Department of Justice had been doing its own research—did they know something that the industry hadn’t seen?
In April Sessions asked a panel of experts to dig some dirt on marijuana legalization.
According to an Associated Press article in August (whose journalists had seen the report), the “Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, a group of prosecutors and federal law enforcement officials, has come up with no new policy recommendations to advance the attorney general’s aggressively anti-marijuana views.”
Given that there is no evidence of additional harm caused by states’ legalisation programs, this gave industry observers the idea that the Trump administration might be going down the same road it has with climate change and has started to believe its own not-so-true ‘truths’.
The Federal position on marijuana
The current Federal government’s position on medical marijuana is not to interfere with state policy.
This is broadly in line with the intention of the US Constitution where there are tensions between different levels of government written in so that there is no concentration of power in too few hands (whatever their size).
Essentially if state governments decide that national policy is wrong, they have some rights to go their own way.
While ignoring Federal law and passing their own laws that run contrary with the overriding law of the country wasn’t specifically envisaged, the concept is still in the spirit of the Constitution.
In 2013 the Obama administration published the ‘Cole Memo‘ that said,
the Department expects these states to establish strict regulatory schemes that protect the eight federal interests identified in the Department’s guidance. These schemes must be tough in practice, not just on paper, and include strong, state-based enforcement efforts, backed by adequate funding. Based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department has informed the governors of both states that it is deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time.
It seems that the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety was told by Sessions to find breaches of the Cole Memo and thereby enable him to crack down.
The Cole Memo was effective and the states agreed to follow it.
America’s opiate addiction
Just under 1% of the US population has an opioid addiction.
The American Society of Addiction of Medicine estimates that over 2.5 million Americans now have an opioid use disorder. In 2015, 33,092 Americans died from an opioid-related overdose, a four-fold increase from 1999.
In September 2016, President Obama called for Congress to give $1.1 billion in funding to tackle what has become one of the worst drug crises the US has ever faced. The 21st Century Cures Act that was signed into law in December that year gave states money for primary and secondary prevention measures until 2018.
This may well be a drop in the ocean in the face of pharmaceutical companies getting people hooked almost daily—300 million opiate prescriptions were issued by doctors, more than one for every US citizen, in 2015.
Speaking to one industry insider who did not want to be named (a successful marijuana businessman currently based in Oregon but who had been working in the legal industry for more than a decade) we were told,
The US marijuana industry is worth $25 billion and would be almost impossible to stop now. Besides, there is an epidemic of heroin users and the Feds are overwhelmed in tackling that. How could they fight the cannabis industry when they can’t stop heroin?
Cannabis legality: a possible antidote
There is growing evidence that marijuana use can help with opiate addiction.
An article published on Medium.com shows a situation where those with access to marijuana in their states use opiates far less:
A federally-funded study showed ‘access to medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with lower levels of opioid prescribing, lower self-report of non-medical prescription opioid use, lower treatment admissions for prescription opioid use disorders and reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths.’
For those looking at available science, as opposed to evidence that what they believe is true, marijuana may well be one of the solutions to the opiate addiction epidemic.
Cracking down on marijuana would require many billions of dollars more and may actually compound the opiate problem by restricting access to a far more benign pain treatment.
Trump’s small hands
Presidents with a deft diplomatic hand have the ability to make a real difference, even when they have a Congress that is ideologically opposed to them.
On the surface, Trump should be able to get any policy he wants through Congress as the GOP has a majority in both Houses…
However, Trump has got zero legislation through Congress of any kind since he took office.
Another problem for Trump: Congress has the power over the US government purse—not the President.
Given the DEA’s main priority is interdiction of the opiate problem, Congress would have to throw billions of dollars more at the organization to give it the resources to tackle a well established legal marijuana industry on top of the opiate crisis.
There are no signs that this would be possible—even if Trump did have the first idea how to get even a flagship election policy such as repealing the Affordable Care Act through using his ideological friends.
There is legislation passing through Congress that would amongst other things, stop the Feds from meddling with medical marijuana laws. This won’t pass either as there are too many opponents to legalization in Congress.
So it seems that for now, nothing can change existing policy for the good or bad—an incompetent President and a divided Congress can’t work together.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The absurd clash between state and Federal laws on cannabis legality creates all manner of logic-defying anomalies and Catch-22s for everyone involved. For more on this genuine reefer madness, check out this segment on marijuana laws from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight show back in April.]