Higher education: cannabis as a college course

For years, college students have unofficially majored in weed. Now universities are beginning to offer cannabis studies programs because, y'know, marijuana is where the money is these days. From the Associated Press:

"We're providing a fast track to get into the industry," said Brandon Canfield, a chemistry professor at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Two years ago, he proposed a new major in medicinal plant chemistry after attending a conference where cannabis industry representatives spoke of an urgent need for analytical chemists for product quality assessment and assurance.

The four-year degree, which is the closest thing to a marijuana major at an accredited U.S. university, has drawn nearly 300 students from 48 states, Canfield said. Students won't be growing marijuana, which was recently legalized by Michigan voters for recreational use. But Canfield said students will learn to measure and extract medicinal compounds from plants such as St. John's Wort and ginseng and transfer that knowledge to marijuana.

Agricultural schools are also getting in on the action. A similar program is being launched at Minot State University in North Dakota this spring. The college said students will learn lab skills applicable to medical marijuana, hops, botanical supplements and food science industries.

"All of our graduates are going to be qualified to be analysts in a lab setting," Canfield said, noting that experience could lead to a position paying $70,000 right out of school. Those wishing to start their own businesses can choose an entrepreneurial track that adds courses in accounting, legal issues and marketing...

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Watch Spike Jonze's short film about cannabis

Trailblazing filmmaker Spike Jonze made this short film, titled "The New Normal," about how America's relationship to cannabis has changed from the days when George Washington grew hemp. Co-written and starring Jesse Williams, it's a commercial for MedMen Cannabis Dispensaries. From AdWeek:

"We had a desire to create a commercial with a profound message,” said (MedMen CMO David) Dancer. “Our core value is around ensuring that people can lead safe, happy, healthy lives with cannabis being a part of it. … Here we wanted to not only destigmatize and normalize but really, as you’ll see in the spot, highlight what has been unjust about the treatment of cannabis whether it is stop-and-frisk and unjust criminalization, whether it is this propaganda in Referer Madness, quite frankly leading to the Schedule One classification of cannabis as a federally illegal substance sitting next to heroin."

Dancer said (the film has) been in the works for roughly four months, adding that the company worked to make sure everyone involved with the spot had a tie to cannabis.

"The highly selective criminalization of one plant, with flagrantly harsher punishments for one community, must be acknowledged and left behind for something more reasonable, realistic and fair,” said Williams in a statement. “It’s pretty clear that Americans are ready to exist beyond a few inherited hypocrisies. We deserve the opportunity to make this right. We can do, and feel, better."

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San Francisco marijuana crimes to be expunged by the thousands, with Code For America's help

A project to expunge marijuana-related convictions in San Francisco that took an entire year to pull together is nearly complete, San Francisco prosecutors said today, as they announced that 9,300 pot crimes will soon be removed from people’s criminal records.

That's a big deal. As the SF DA said at today's press conference, a felony conviction for cannabis could mean “barriers to education, housing, employment and even being barred from a child’s school field trip because of a conviction.”

San Francisco is able to do this in part because of the efforts of people at Code For America. Read the rest

Willie Nelson's new hemp coffee

Following on Willie Nelson's "Willie's Reserve" cannabis brand, the music icon and weed enthusiast has launched the new Willie’s Remedy line of CBD-infused health and wellness products, starting with coffee. From Rolling Stone:

According to a release, Nelson’s coffee is a medium-dark whole-bean blend with “flavor notes of cherry and cocoa.” Each 8 oz. cup contains 7 mg. of hemp-derived CDB.

Nelson’s wife Annie is overseeing the Willie’s Remedy brand and has plans to release other products in the coming year, including topicals and confections. “The Willie’s Remedy line is a purposeful departure from Willie’s Reserve,” said Annie Nelson. “It’s not about getting high, but it’s still all about Willie and the benefits we believe cannabis has to offer.”

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Trailer for "Beach Bum," Harmony Korine's new weirdo stoner comedy

Writer/director Harmony Korine (Kids, Gummo, Spring Breakers) is back at the shore for Beach Bum, a stoner burnout comedy starring Matthew McConaughey with Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Zac Efron, Jimmy Buffett, Martin Lawrence and Jonah Hill. The trailer reminds me a bit of Pee-wee's Big Adventure if the weirdo protagonist was on Sour Diesel instead of Purple Microdot.

Beach Bum will premiere at SXSW and hit theaters March 22.

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This TARDIS Grows Weed with Artificial Intelligence, PART 2

Editor's Note: Richard Metzger is a connoisseur of cannabis, and recently started growing his own. He's test-driving high-end rig good for small-scale grows from Cloudponics. This is not a sponsored post, Boing Boing is not getting anything from Cloudponics. Metzger's just really *that* enthusiastic about weed, and so far he likes the Cloudponics setup. Here's part two in Richard's ongoing series. — Xeni

In the first installment of This TARDIS Grows Weed with Artificial Intelligence, I explained how incredibly overwhelming it was for me to contemplate setting up a decent small grow situation as a rank novice. There were not only wildly varying philosophical approaches one might employ growing the dankest of nugs, but also a dizzying number of products, potions, pitfalls and problems. The proper cohort of gear needs to be amassed and assembled and it looked like there would inevitably be mistakes made along the way, some of them expensive, or at least time consuming. Growing pot seems easy if everything goes smoothly, but if one tiny thing goes wrong, then all can be lost. What are you going to do about spider mites? Mold? Nutrient burn? What is nutrient burn anyway? Read the rest

This TARDIS Grows Weed With Artificial Intelligence

Editor's Note: Richard Metzger is a connoisseur of cannabis, and recently started growing his own. He's test-driving high-end rig good for small-scale grows from Cloudponics. This is not a sponsored post, Boing Boing is not getting anything from Cloudponics. Metzger's just really *that* enthusiastic about weed, and spoiler alert, so far he likes the Cloudponics setup. Here's an early photo from the grow, and the first installment of Richard's ongoing lab notes. — Xeni

I am a 53-year-old wake-n-bake stoner and I've been high since 1979.

Leaving much of that, er, loaded statement aside (and yes, as a definitive study of one, I do plan to leave my body to science) think of all the money I've spent staying massively stoned since I was fourteen. At approximately $20 a day over 365 days per annum ($7300) for 39 years that comes to $284,700 but do consider that I had to make nearly twice that and pay tax on that income before I could spend it on herb. Money doesn't grow on trees, of course, but there was a time not all that long ago when an ounce of pot and an ounce of gold were the exact same price, for a little perspective. Read the rest

Thailand moves to legalize medical marijuana in 2019

Thailand's got a reputation with being less than cool with illegal drugs being brought into their country or used within their national borders. Which drugs are legal and which are disallowed changes up from time to time, however. Until the 1930s, medicinal cannabis use was hunky dory with the Thai government. Then it wasn't. Fast forward to 2019 and the wheel of acceptability will have spun around once more: on Christmas Day, the nation decided that, provided it was used for medicinal purposes, dope was dope once again. Given the stringent drug laws typically enforced in Thailand's Southeast Asian neighborhood (sentences of death over a trafficking charge aren't uncommon,) it's a surprising shift in policy.

From The New York Times:

By a vote of 166 to 0, the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly approved legislation this week that would allow the use of cannabis under medical supervision. Thirteen members abstained.

The measure is expected to take effect next year.

“This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” the lawmaker who headed the drafting committee, Somchai Sawangkarn, said during a televised session on Tuesday.

Before anyone goes making travel plans, you should know that saying that it's cleared only for prescribed medicinal use isn't just a suggestion. The penalty for recreational use of cannabis in Thailand is still very serious business: those found in possession of 10 kilograms of herb or less can expect to do up to five years in prison. Read the rest

Stench from marijuana farms outrages some California residents

Some communities across California are suing to ban cannabis operations in their vicinity because they claim the smell from the crops is nauseating. I mean, they don't call it skunk for nothing. From the New York Times:

As a result of the stench, residents in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, are suing to ban cannabis operations from their neighborhoods. Mendocino County, farther north, recently created zones banning cannabis cultivation — the sheriff’s deputy there says the stink is the No. 1 complaint...

“It’s as if a skunk, or multiple skunks in a family, were living under our house,” said Grace Guthrie, whose home sits on the site of a former apple orchard outside the town of Sebastopol. Her neighbors grow pot commercially. “It doesn’t dissipate,” Ms. Guthrie said. “It’s beyond anything you would imagine.”

When cannabis odors are at their peak, she and her husband, Robert, sometimes wear respirators, the kind one might put on to handle dangerous chemicals. During Labor Day weekend, relatives came to stay at the house, but cut short their visit because they couldn’t stand the smell...

“Just because you like bacon doesn’t mean you want to live next to a pig farm,” said Lynda Hopkins, a member of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, whose office has been inundated with complaints about the smell...

image: Wikipedia/Cannabis Training University Read the rest

"Complete Idiot" resigns from Toronto Police Service

Hey, remember those cops who ate a cannabis-infused chocolate bar that was supposed have been taken as evidence during a raid? Do you recall that they snarfed down their stolen snack while on duty and then proceeded to trip balls? Maybe the fact that they freaked out and called for police assistance--the sort of thing that the police normally do when they're in a life threatening situation--might ring a bell? OK, how about this: when their fellow officers responded, one slipped on the ice and was pretty badly injured as he tried to get to his distressed comrades. No? This link will jog your memory. Good to go? OK, buckle in: there's an update on their story.

This past November, Constable Vittorio Dominelli pleaded guilty to attempting to obstruct justice and wants everyone to know that he's very, very sorry.

From The CBC:

Justice Mary Misener says Dominelli is a "complete idiot" for tampering with evidence.

Crown attorney Philip Perlmutter, who read out an agreed statement of facts in court, says Dominelli took three hazelnut chocolate bars infused with cannabis oil from the raid.

Perlmutter says Dominelli and another officer later ate one chocolate bar and became intoxicated in about 20 minutes, and eventually radioed for help.

Const. Jamie Young and Dominelli allegedly assisted in the execution of a search warrant at Community Cannabis Clinic, a marijuana dispensary in the city's west end, in the early evening of Jan. 27.

As a result of their poor judgement and inopportune snacking, Dominelli and Young both wound up facing multiple misconduct charges under the Police Services Act. Read the rest

Massachusetts mayor first in line to legally buy recreational weed

Today, Massachusetts' retail marijuana shops opened for business, and Northampton, Mass mayor David Narkewicz was first in line. Massachusetts is the first state east of the Mississippi to approve recreational marijuana. From CBS News:

When asked whether the purchase is simply ceremonial or it will be consumed, Narkewicz said, "I am actually going to probably preserve it and display it…because it is historically significant."

"There has been marijuana use going on in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a long, long time. What's changing is it's now being regulated. It's now being tested. It's now being strictly monitored. That's really the major change that's happening," Narkewizc said.

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This mossy plant may be 'more medically effective than cannabis'

Something interesting from the world of science: Liverwort contains a psychoactive substance ("perrottetinene" or "PET") that has similar molecular structures to THC. Researchers think might be superior to THC for dampening pain signals and reducing inflammation. It just doesn't produce the same kind of high.

ScienceDaily:

Until now, it was thought that cannabis was the only plant that produces THC. However, as early as 1994, Japanese phytochemist Yoshinori Asakawa had discovered a substance in the liverwort plant Radula perrottetii which was related to THC and had named this natural substance "perrottetinene." In this natural product, the individual atoms are linked together in a manner similar to that of THC, however they differ in their three-dimensional structure and further exhibit an additional benzyl group.

A few year ago, Jürg Gertsch from the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bern discovered that liverworts were being advertised as so-called "legal highs" on the internet. At the time, nothing was known about the pharmacological effects of this substance. Together with chemists from Erick Carreira's team from the Department of Chemistry at the ETH Zürich, Gertsch's research team in Bern biochemically and pharmacologically compared THC and perrottetinene.

Using animal models, they were able to demonstrate that perrottetinene reaches the brain very easily and that, once there, it specifically activates cannabinoid receptors. It even demonstrates a stronger anti-inflammatory effect in the brain than THC, something which makes perrottetinene particularly interesting when you consider its potential medical application "It's astonishing that only two species of plants, separated by 300 million years of evolution, produce psychoactive cannabinoids," says Gertsch.

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Liverworts contain psychoactive cannabinoid

A new molecular study shows that a compound called perrotetinene in certain species of liverworts is actually a psychoactive cannabanoid. From Science News:

A group of Japanese scientists in 1994 discovered perrotetinene in liverworts, but the new study is the strongest evidence yet that the compound is a psychoactive cannabinoid. Previously, cannabis was the only plant known to produce such cannabinoids....

After mapping perrotetinene’s molecular structure, the researchers created a synthetic version and tested it on mice. The team tracked the animals’ pain response, body temperature and movement — measures of the compound’s psychoactivity. The results suggested that perrotetinene may be slightly less psychoactive than THC, says study coauthor Jürg Gertsch, a biochemist at the University of Bern in Switzerland. The liverwort compound may also have fewer negative side effects such as memory loss and loss of coordination, he says.

"Uncovering the psychoactivity of a cannabinoid from liverworts associated with a legal high" (Science Advances)

illustration: "Hepaticae" from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur, 1904 Read the rest

Canadian government growers can't keep up with Alberta's demand for weed

While cannabis may now be legal to smoke, sell and possess across Canada, the demand for bammy is harshing the buzz of many an Albertan. According to the CBC, certified cannabis suppliers are having a hell of a time trying to keep up with demand. The problem is cropping up at a time when the provincial government continues to dole out licenses to operate dispensaries in the province, putting an even greater strain on the amount of marijuana available in big sky country.

From the CBC:

Not all retail stores are necessarily open this weekend — a shortage of stock on the AGLC's retailer website means some new stores aren't able to order any cannabis at all to stock their shelves, and those that have run out can't order enough to restock.

The AGLC is the province's official supplier of cannabis, offering products from 15 licensed producers.

In Edmonton, Numo Cannabis has closed its doors after running out of weed, according to a sign on its door. Another Edmonton store, Alternative Greens, was also closed Saturday after running out of cannabis.

It's not just retail locations that are coming up with bupkis to sell. the AGLC's online portal doesn't have a shred of cannabis to sell, either.

The shortage likely hasn't come as a surprise to anyone keeping tabs on the Canadian cannabis rollout: licensed resellers have been complaining about their inability to order product since September. Given that shops in Alberta are only able to order a weed resupply once a week, it could take some time before the province's dope supplier finds a way to keep up with demand. Read the rest

Weed legal in Canada

Weed is legal now in Canada. Here's what it'll cost ya. Some places are banning smoking it in public and there are other bumps expected, but the business windfalls are expected to define an emerging market by attracting global brands previously leery of associating with drugs. With nearly 40m inhabitants, Canada became overnight the largest market for legal weed, with few of the peculiar regulatory compromises found in large U.S. states.

Previously: The New York Times has the dope on cannabis use in Canada Read the rest

The New York Times has the dope on cannabis use in Canada

I'm writing this on a flight to Chicago. By the time I return to Canada on Thursday, the sale and use of cannabis, in many circumstances, will be cool, from coast to coast to coast. This does not excite me: I'm not a cannabis enthusiast. Your mileage, however, may vary.

If you're a Canadian who enjoys the use of weed in its many forms or love the idea of visiting my often-frozen nation so that you can partake in a legal left-handed cigarette, you should know that the laws surrounding where and when you can use marijuana varies from province to province. The same goes for who can sell it. Fortunately, The New York Times has taken it upon itself to give its readers the scuttlebutt on all of these issues and more:

From The New York Times:

On legalization day, only fresh or dried flower, seeds, plants and oil will be available. Legal marijuana will have lower levels of THC, the chemical that brings on the buzz, than most products now on the black market.

The law will not allow cannabis-infused edibles and concentrates until next year. So those craving pot-infused gummy bears, baked goods, barbecue sauce and drinks will have to wait to buy them legally.

It is unclear whether cannabis creams and cosmetics will ever be approved.

The Times goes on to talk about the fuzziness of what cannabis will cost from province to province, how much of it is legal to own, the limits placed upon growing your own, and the age required to make buying it OK. Read the rest

WestJet Airlines says no to drugs as Canada prepares to decriminalize cannabis

Last month, the Canadian Armed Forces announced its strict but reasonable policy surrounding the use of cannabis by service personnel. With Canada's decriminalization of cannabis nearly upon us, a lot of companies and organizations that deal with dangerous tasks or complicated hardware are following suit. Earlier this week, one of Canada's most popular air carriers, WestJet released its policy for when their employees will be allowed to use cannabis.

The short version of the rules: If you're a WestJet employee doing anything other than riding a phone for the company's customer service line or working at an airport check-in counter, chances are that you won't be allowed near the stuff.

From the CBC:

Spokesperson Morgan Bell said employees were notified of the changes on Tuesday morning.

She said cannabis is being treated differently than alcohol, which is banned for certain staff members within 12 hours of coming on duty.

Bell said WestJet's list of affected positions would be similar to Air Canada's, which includes flight and cabin crew members, flight dispatchers, aircraft maintenance engineers and station attendants.

The new WestJet policy also includes a prohibition on possession or distribution of cannabis on company property while on duty or attending a company social function.

Air Canada, Canada's flag carrier, has pretty much the same policy on dope, which makes me happy. In almost all instances, 12 hours is long enough for the blood alcohol level of most drinkers to dip back down to safe levels. Despite all the criminal bullshit that we've laden cannabis down with over the years, we still know comparatively little about what it does to a user's reflexes or how long it may continue to have an effect on judgement. Read the rest

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