Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Getting serious about the cannabis referendum

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  • billtaylor,

    Russell. What's your take on Bob McCoskrie's story in the Herald today? If what he says is true, is there a worry with Big Marijuana and is the increased potency of marijuana a problem?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2017 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to billtaylor,

    Russell. What’s your take on Bob McCoskrie’s story in the Herald today? If what he says is true, is there a worry with Big Marijuana and is the increased potency of marijuana a problem?

    It's true, THC levels are getting higher – although that's been a trend in the black market for a long time. The US states (and now Canada) do regulate the dosage in edibles, which is where the problems really occurred after legalisation. Cannabis flower has to be tested for potency and that potency declared at sale.

    It's entirely possible to regulate a maximum THC level. Or a set CBD ratio, which is the thing that goes under the radar – CBD levels have dropped sharply in black market weed in the past 20 years, and that's not actually a good thing. Under legalisation, higher-CBD strains are widely available in Colorado and elsewhere.

    The thing is, selecting cannabis solely on its THC potency is actually kinda dumb. Research on cannabis social clubs in Europe found that many people like the clubs because they provided access to weed that wasn't rocket fuel.

    Also, literally no one – least of all the local reform advocates – wants Big Marijuana to be a player in New Zealand. That's why there's strong support in the activist community for the non-profit-at-retail model.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Attachment

    But this, from the Colorado state government reporting is the interesting thing. Average THC levels in legal cannabis flower are lower than they were immediately after legalisation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The thing is, selecting cannabis solely on its THC potency is actually kinda dumb. Research on cannabis social clubs in Europe found that many people like the clubs because they provided access to weed that wasn’t rocket fuel.

    Good article, on that note, as has been discussed here previously specifically wrt to smokable cannabis; personally higher potency generally means I’ll smoke less entailing less tar in the lungs, likely producing less severe potential physical health consequences. I felt McCoskrie’s story was a bit of a self-own in that regard.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2268 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The thing is, selecting cannabis solely on its THC potency is actually kinda dumb.

    Also, how much evidence is there that the potency is a particularly important health issue, rather than, say, the volume consumed, and how often that is done? Since it's not toxic like alcohol, there isn't a physical danger of overdosing, but like alcohol, the amount you have affects how wasted you get, whether you had it as spirits or as a shandy. It's not really that difficult to just smoke ten times as much, as even a few puffs is enough to get a lot of people really high. But if it isn't, so you have 20 puffs. So what? It's probably a little bit healthier to puff it less from a purely toxic burning plant inhalation POV. From a vaporization POV it's not that relevant, particularly as in ones with good temperature control.

    In other words, I'm not convinced high potency is anything more than a strange side effect of prohibition - if there are legal consequences based on what weight of cannabis you carry, of course you want it purer if you want a lot of it.

    The demand for overproof alcohol is pretty small. People want to buy something they can practically use, and that means something they don't have to be quite so cautious with. So I would be surprised if lower potency cannabis didn't have a strong renaissance after an end to strong prohibition, as it's easier to measure dose in less concentrated substances, and other concerns than the pure potency are likely to become market differentiators, like the taste of it, the slightly different balances of the psychoactives, the smell and look, the credentials of the grower, and probably most importantly the packaging and advertising.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10579 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    NZ cannabis producer welcomes shape of govt bill after second reading: https://hikurangi.com/2018/11/29/world-class-medical-cannabis-legislation-a-win-for-patients-and-industry/

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to BenWilson,

    So I would be surprised if lower potency cannabis didn’t have a strong renaissance after an end to strong prohibition, as it’s easier to measure dose in less concentrated substances, and other concerns than the pure potency are likely to become market differentiators, like the taste of it, the slightly different balances of the psychoactives, the smell and look, the credentials of the grower, and probably most importantly the packaging and advertising.

    Kind of like cigarets.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4046 posts Report Reply

  • Neil,

    Having read Russell Brown’s article on psychedelic therapies I’m reminded of the Emily Dickinson poem I’ve never quite agreed with:

    The Brain, within its Groove
    Runs evenly—and true—
    But let a Splinter swerve—
    ’Twere easier for You—

    To put a Current back—
    When Floods have slit the Hills—
    And scooped a Turnpike for Themselves—
    And trodden out the Mills—

    It seems we are more predisposed to digging the groove deaper via thought and accessing memory rather than being delicately susceptible to being thrown into new visions.

    Since Nov 2016 • 276 posts Report Reply

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