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Cannabis Legalization and Decriminalization: What’s the Difference?

A lot of terms get thrown around when discussing marijuana reform – drug schedules, strain types, cannabinoids – but perhaps the most frequently confused are the terms “legalization” and “decriminalization.” With Joe Biden announcing a new plan for can…

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A lot of terms get thrown around when discussing marijuana reform – drug schedules, strain types, cannabinoids – but perhaps the most frequently confused are the terms “legalization” and “decriminalization.” With Joe Biden announcing a new plan for cannabis decriminalization, we decided now would be a good time to brush up on the two terms.

Though often used interchangeably, decriminalization and legalization are definitely not the same thing. Whether your state has decriminalized, legalized, or none of the above, the distinction is important to understand. This will protect you from costly fines, help you decide how to vote, and assist you in planning a 420-friendly vacation in the future once coronavirus is a thing of the past.

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What Does it Mean to Decriminalize Cannabis?

Cannabis decriminalization means just that: to remove criminal charges against people in possession of small amounts of cannabis. Instead of criminal charges, possession of small amounts of would result in a civil fine, much like a parking ticket. Just what constitutes a “small amount” varies by state so check your local laws to be sure.

Black Market

Black market sales are tough to avoid through decriminalization.

Decriminalization does not, however, grant access to legal cannabis distributors. As such, decriminalization would not reduce black market activity (and, in fact, could have the opposite effect if more people begin purchasing it) and would not protect consumers against contaminants or unsafe distribution practices.

What Does Cannabis Legalization Mean?

Cannabis legalization means that it’s not only okay to own a little weed, but that it’s legal to purchase it, too! Though the details of legalization vary widely (ranging from legal caregiver-ship to full-on shopping centers filled with certified, boutique-quality flower, concentrates, and edible products), the mere fact that cannabis is legal there means that those states are experiencing some major economic gain. Entrepreneurs are catapulting their success, job-seekers are finding ample employment in the industry, and taxes from sales are being put right back into the communities they serve.

Furthermore, legal access to cannabis helps protect consumers from contaminants or unsafe packaging/distribution practices.

Products are regularly tested for things like potency, pesticides, residual solvents and other potential health and safety hazards. Dangerous pesticides and back alley deals are of little concern in a legal market.

Legal cannabis also helps researchers gain a better understanding of how cannabis itself effects the body by removing variables inherent in unregulated products. Study participants are more likely to answer survey questions honestly and over a longer period of time, and variables like unsafe products or limited strain options are removed from the equation.

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The Great Debate: Decriminalize or Legalize?

Many states have decriminalized cannabis (not legalized) as some sort of “middle ground” to the whole cannabis reform movement. In attempt to appease those who fear legalization while acknowledging the negative social impact of criminalizing the plant, these states have passed legislation that removes criminal charges for those caught with a small amount cannabis and/or cannabis paraphernalia. Though it may seem progressive on the surface, it is bound to do more harm than good.

As long as there is demand for a product, there will be a market for it. If criminal charges are no longer a risk factor, more people are apt to try cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes. If these people cannot get their product from a legal distributor, then illegal distributors there must be! These black market operations are not only dangerous for consumers, but they amp up the need for drug enforcement and put more, not less, strain on the system. They cost communities more money and resources and can put less back into it.

Vote

Always vote for cannabis legalization efforts. photo credit

Though decriminalization is a promising step toward nationwide cannabis reform, it does little for the communities who enact it. When faced with the decision to either decriminalize or legalize cannabis, the answer should always be the latter. The benefits of cannabis legalization far outweigh the alternative and it’s time we all stand up for it. If you live in one of the many states with marijuana legislation on the ballot, be sure to vote to “legalize,” not “decriminalize” the plant and all of its by-products to expedite cannabis reform in your area.

The “Marijuana Movement” has made some incredible strides over the past few years, as support for reform becomes impossible to deny. Don’t allow legislators to slap a band-aid over the issue and call it good, demand cannabis legalization over decriminalization on the next ballot.


What’s your stance on the legalization/decriminalization debate? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Gio Bartlett (license)

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Do Other Fruits Besides Mango Intensify the Effects of Cannabis?

If you’re a regular cannabis consumer, you probably already know that mangoes have been associated not only with increasing your high, but also reducing the time of onset, meaning that the high arrives more quickly. That’s thanks in part to a terpene (…

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If you’re a regular cannabis consumer, you probably already know that mangoes have been associated not only with increasing your high, but also reducing the time of onset, meaning that the high arrives more quickly. That’s thanks in part to a terpene (aromatic compounds that give plants their signature smells while also providing some defense from sunlight and predators) that both mangoes and cannabis have in common, myrcene. Current thought goes that myrcene, also found in lemongrass, hops, and bay leaves can enhance and quicken the effects of THC due to its ability to move more quickly through the blood-brain barrier. 

Terpenes have become a popular topic of conversation in the cannabis world over the past few years because they are thought to play a vital role in how cannabis delivers its ameliorative effects. It goes without saying that cannabinoids like THC and CBD play a crucial role in cannabis’ particular effects. But how terpenes interact with cannabinoids is becoming more clear, as researchers continue to demonstrate how terpenes and cannabinoids are both vital in the full implementation of the entourage effect, a principal suggesting that the cannabis plant works best when all its compounds work together instead of isolated from one another.

Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis and often emits an earthy and musky scent and flavor.

But let’s say you have a strain at home with minimal terpene content and you don’t happen to have any mangoes in the fruit basket. Are there other fruits out there that could intensify cannabis’ effects like mangoes? The answer is, you bet! Although, we do have to stretch the definition of “fruit” just a bit.

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Fruits That Intensify the Effects of Cannabis

Technically speaking, nuts are fruits, and they are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids that bind to cannabinoids like THC and CBD and move through the blood-brain barrier more efficiently, just as myrcene does. If you’d like to test this out, you’ll have to stay away from peanuts, which are technically legumes, and almonds, which are protected by a plum-like shell. Nuts fitting the definition of fruit are walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans.

pecans

Certain nuts, like pecans, are also known to intensify the effects of cannabis. photo credit

For some other foods that could intensify your high, we’ll have to wander far away from the fruit tree. Here are a few candidates:

Other Food Items Than Can Increase the Effects of Marijuana:

  • Broccoli is replete with another terpene called beat-caryophyllene, most frequently affiliated with black pepper, basil, and cloves. Munching on broccoli before your sesh could intensify your high while delivering outstanding nutritional benefits like vitamins A, C, E, K, B vitamins, folic acid, potassium, calcium, and iron
  • Sweet potatoes are high in minerals magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamins C and B6, important for a strong immune system and brain and nervous system health. Rich in complex carbohydrates, sweet potatoes have been linked to an increase in the feel-good chemical serotonin. Cannabis may also increase serotonin levels, though how precisely cannabis interacts with serotonin is an ongoing process
  • Eggs contain many of the same nutrients of nuts, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and  vitamins A,B,C, and K, the minerals magnesium, folate, and protein

But let’s say you’d rather just stick with mango. What’s the best way to get the full benefits this myrcene-filled fruit has to offer?

Does Metabolism Matter when Boosting Your High with Foods?

There are a few factors to consider if you want to try and use foods to increase your high, but the first thing to keep in mind is your metabolism. If your metabolism runs high, eat 2-3 mangoes approximately two hours ahead of your smoke sesh. For those with a slower metabolism, one mango about an hour ahead of time should suffice. This is all anecdotal guesswork of course, but the idea is to have myrcene circulating through your system when you begin your cannabis consumption.

To really get the full benefit of myrcene, stay away from mango juice (unless you juice it yourself) from the store. Juice, in general, is frequently chock-full of unnecessary sugar and in actuality may contain little to no myrcene, the ingredient you’re really after.


Have you tried any of the fruits and foods above to increase your high? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Trang Doan (license)

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Cannabeer Craze: Will There be an Alcoholic THC Beverage?

You’re on your regular trip to your local dispensary and your eye catches something new in the refrigerator display case. Your head whips around to behold this recently released, bottled product. “Could it be?” You ask. “Can it finally be real? Is Cann…

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You’re on your regular trip to your local dispensary and your eye catches something new in the refrigerator display case. Your head whips around to behold this recently released, bottled product. “Could it be?” You ask. “Can it finally be real? Is Cannabeer finally available for purchase?”

You ask your friendly and noble budtender for a closer look. They pass you the bottle over the counter and you turn it in your hands. You can almost hear angels singing. Then you turn to the ingredients. Zero percent alcohol. Your dreams of a chill, hoppy cross-fade in a bottle foiled again! You hand the bottle back to the budtender and go on with your regular purchase, asking yourself one of the big questions in cannabis: “Will there ever be a true cannabis-infused, alcoholic beer?”

PotGuide is here with an answer, but first off we should distinguish between a couple of different kinds of beverages calling themselves “Cannabeer” which are being brewed in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

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What is Cannabeer?

“Cannabis Beers” are beers that are brewed using the stalks and roots of the marijuana plant instead of barley. This gives the alcoholic beers a weedy taste that some consumers like. Since cannabis and hops are closely related plants with some shared terpenes, they compliment each other well in the right combinations. However, cannabis beers contain no THC. 

“CBD-Infused Beers” are beers that are infused with CBD oil but no THC. They have no psychoactive effects beyond the alcohol.

A couple of brewers have been experimenting with CBD-infused beer since the cannabinoid became federally legalized and these beverages generally contain around 3mg of CBD and 5-6% alcohol.

Green Times Brewing CBD Beer

CBD-infused beers can already be found on the market. photo credit

“Cannabis-Infused Beers” are traditionally brewed, non-alcoholic beers that are infused with the same THC concentrates used in other marijuana beverages. These are the “cannabeers” we’ll be referring to for the rest of the article.

The Cannabeer Market

As the cannabis market still is wide open at this point, more and more brewers – and some cannabis companies – are dipping their toes into the cannabeer game in the hopes of creating the next breakthrough product. Craft breweries like Maryland’s Flying Dog are creating hop forward, cannabis-infused IPAs like their Hop Chronic, which will contain around 5% THC and no alcohol. On the opposite coast, California’s High Style brewing has created a citrusy Blood Orange Haze cannabeer with less than .05% alcohol and 10mg of THC that’s already for sale all across the state. 

So far the feedback from consumers has been mixed. The taste of cannabeer is being constantly improved as brewers and cannabis companies collaborate to find just the right mix of terpenes for a smooth flavor. A beer lover looking to enjoy a different kind of intoxication will not be lacking for choice in the coming years. However, many are finding that it’s not enough of one thing or the other to enjoy. 

A group of people sitting at a table drinking beer

While there are some alcohol-free cannabeers on the market, their success has been limited. photo credit

For cannabis consumers, there are plenty of THC-infused sodas, juices, and other beverages that produce the same effects as cannabeer with a much lighter flavor. Some of these products have multiple servings per container so they can last for days rather than having to be finished once they’re opened. This makes them a much better bang for a consumer’s buck than a bottle or can of beer that’ll go flat if left open in the fridge.  

For beer lovers, the effects of consumed cannabis don’t really match up to the traditional buzz of a beer or two. Plus, one of the many joys of beer is that you can have more than a couple cold ones throughout your day off or at the bar with friends. Unless your weed tolerance is high, you’ll probably stop at one or two cannabeers for the day and at that point you may be too high to want to get any more drunk. Plus, you may be waiting up to an hour to feel any effect from those cannabeers, whereas beer’s buzz comes on much quicker. 

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Cannabeer Will Require New Laws

However, there is still the dream of an alcoholic cannabeer. Bottling the chill vibe that a pull off of a joint after a couple beers in the middle of a summer barbeque would be a hit with consumers. (It’s important to note here that mixing alcohol and marijuana in even small amounts can also lead to drowsiness and impairment. As with everything, use both in moderation.) 

The dream of a true cannabeer will probably be deferred for the near term, as most legalized state’s cannabis laws are either still in their beginning phases or are being improved at a snail’s pace.

The long hangover of our country’s conservative views when it comes to non-prescription drugs –whether it was alcohol or marijuana prohibition–means that most states are incredibly wary of passing lenient drug policies. Legalizing an alcoholic product infused with THC thus becomes a stretch for any state liquor and cannabis control board. Laws would have to be changed to either allow the sale of cannabis in bars, liquor stores and grocery stores, or the sale of alcohol at dispensaries.   

Alcoholic THC Drinks Seem Inevitable

So, what is the future of Cannabis-infused beer? Will there ever be a literal “‘Bud’ Light?” Will you be able to stroll the beer aisle of your dispensary and choose between a malty Mad Dog 4/20 or a crisp High-P-A? Will there ever be a Corona Extract that lives up to the hype?

Two glasses of beer next to weeed nugs

Although the desire for a THC-infused, alcoholic beer to enter the market is strong, we can expect to have to wait years before this dream becomes reality. photo credit

As usual, in the end it will all come down to market forces. Legalization is only gaining more support throughout the country, and medical marijuana laws are already gaining toeholds in the South. As any state legalizes, companies spring up looking to fill any remaining demands in the cannabis product market. Once the demand is high enough, one state is sure to allow THC-infused, alcoholic beer at some point down the road. It’s probably going to be Nevada. Or Oregon.   

Given the cross-marketing potential, this seems like an inevitability no matter how long it may take for local or federal laws to allow it. For a couple that hangs together as much as weed and beer, it’s going to be hard to keep them apart forever. Of course, when cannabeer is finally available for purchase on dispensary shelves (or your local bar), consume responsibly.  


What are your hopes for cannabis hops? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Photo Credit: Paloma A. (license)

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Marijuana Holidays: Tips for Safe, Solo Celebrations in 2020

The 2020 Holiday Season is sure to go down in history as being unlike any other before it. Social distancing, altered holiday shopping, the stress of the craziest year on record for over a century, there’s a lot going on that will change the way we cel…

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The 2020 Holiday Season is sure to go down in history as being unlike any other before it. Social distancing, altered holiday shopping, the stress of the craziest year on record for over a century, there’s a lot going on that will change the way we celebrate. This year, due to COVID, many may find themselves like Santa in his sleigh: flying high on a solo mission for the good of your fellow humans. However, don’t start up with the “bah humbug” just yet, there are plenty of ways to make merry with Mary Jane. The PotGuide team has put together some tips to toke your way through the Holidays.

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Have Yourself a Stoney Little Christmas

We would never encourage anyone to overindulge on cannabis, but if you’re solo this year, one advantage is a chance to let your cannabis flag fly to whatever height you choose. Once that video call to the folks back home is done, you can get your eyes as red as you please. After-dinner dabs? Don’t mind if we do! 

A small solo christmas tree with a woman sitting next to it

Just because you may have to be celebrating Christmas solo this year, doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it! photo credit

Being solo can be a bummer, but it’s also a chance for free expression, exploration and relaxation. Start that weird art project you aren’t ready to show people! Dye your hair funky colors! Make food no one else would like! It’s your tiny vacation, live it up to the fullest.

Cue Up Some Cannabis Friendly Holiday Movies

It doesn’t take a seasoned smoker to recommend adding some extra special mistletoe to your holiday viewing list. Christmas movies are by their nature over-the-top visually stimulating, and all those lights twinkle just a little brighter with some Kush. If you’re looking for some overt Christmas smoke-fests, there’s A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, or Seth Rogan’s The Night Before

The Night Before movie poster

The Night Before is the perfect Christmas movie to pair with some kush. photo credit

The classics pair well with cannabis as well. Any version of the Grinch is good with some green, and we doubt Adam Sandler would protest trying eight crazy strains over Eight Crazy Nights. We always thought Ralphie from A Christmas Story could use some more chill, or if you really want to get weird, try doing a Hallmark marathon with some edibles. For bonus fun, consider making your own smoking game (bong rip every time someone says Santa?), or convene for a watch-party sesh with friends.

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Take Advantage of Cyber Sales

With the vast majority of holiday shopping shifting to online this year, plenty of deals that used to be more time-sensitive have been extended to last the whole season. We’re pretty sure everyone will understand if gifts are a little delayed this year, so take the extra time to shop with leisure, from your living room, with a nice big joint.

PotGuide Cannabis Gift Guide

Check out PotGuide’s Cannabis Gift Guide to find the perfect gift for the cannabis lover in your life. photo credit

There are few better ways to get through the buying blitz. And if your shopping for others is done for the year, why not yourself something nice? 2020 was crazy, you deserve it. 

Infused Food Part 2: Return of Cannabis

Oh, you thought Turkey was good with Trainwreck? There’s more where that came from. Give Santa’s cookies a little extra fun this year, and make some for yourself while you’re at it. 

Holiday foods

Elevate your Christmas and upgrade your meal by infusing it with cannabis. photo credit

Fruit cakes, rum balls, hot cocoa, warm cider… Our heads swim thinking of all the great things to infuse. Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Christmas, no matter what your friends and family celebrate, there’s sure to be a feast attached to it. Brisket and blunts? We’ll take seconds.

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Happy Holidays from PotGuide

Much like the winter Holidays, cannabis is known for bringing people together. Through our common love of the cannabis plant, we can feel close even with miles between us. While this year’s celebrations may be a little strange, let us not forget that they are still celebrations. We at PotGuide are celebrating the incredible amount of cannabis progress this year, and look forward to the year to come. We wish you all the happiest of holidays, and may you stay safe, warm and well.


How will you be celebrating the Holidays this year? Share your plans in the comments below!

Photo Credit: PS Imaging (license)

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