High in Public: HempCon

Since legalization passed in California, I’ve tried to take the opportunity to explore the cannabis themed events. Not only am I a fan of cannabis, but I love being able to see the process of seeing what was a flourishing subculture blossom into a mainstream industry. It’s an awkward stumble in many ways, and there’s a ways left to go, but it’s nonetheless fascinating. This past weekend, I attended my first HempCon at the Cow Palace, and now that I’ve nearly come down, I’d like share some stories of this weird, wonderful world and see if I can entice some of you into it.

Buffet-style:

This is only my second event where cannabis was provided, and it is the second one where the admission price covers the whole smorgasbord. We arrived shortly after opening, and were offered a dab in the first five minutes. Those offerings never stopped. I tried to pace myself, and kept it to six or seven over the course of three hours, while my partner in crime managed to try a dozen. I’ve been to beer tastings with a similar setup, but given that cannabis fans tend to be less boisterous and aggressive than beer drinkers, I would hope this becomes a norm for whatever the future holds for public cannabis spaces. Without the high brand markup so commonly seen with alcohol, providing a cannabis buffet seems like a reasonable and affordable option that many cities could accommodate.

Crashing prices:

I didn’t go with the intent to spend anything beyond what would cover lunch. If I had, my dollar would have gone a long way. Flower was cheap, often under $40 an eighth even for quality products, and oils weren’t far behind. I imagine having your competition ten feet away worked to enforce a bargain basement standard on pricing. For the cost conscious, the low prices could easily make up for the $60 price of admission.

Dab is king:

My first experience with cannabis was with a repurposed container of Tropicana orange juice. With an exacto knife, some foil and electrical tape, we had a makeshift bong which more than did the trick for me. Since then, the bong has been my tool of choice, more pleasant than pipes with the water mellowing the harshness, and allowing for the big, bellowing hits I was so fond of. But as I walked from booth to booth encountering dab rig after dab rig, I began to wonder if I’ve been stuck in the past. The handful of stations with bongs had ridiculously oversized units, phallic monstrosities that should have stayed in the frat house. Dabbing on the other hand was quick, easy, got me right where I wanted to go without a lot of hacking and wheezing, but most importantly let me taste the full flower of the product. I finally broke down and ordered my EVO that night. Particularly because…

A lot of dab rigs suck:

I believe there are three primary factors that make the EVO the best dab rig on the market: reliability, user experience, and aesthetics. Most of the rigs available were able to meet the first test, but completely blew the next two. A tiny little beaker not only looks like a prop from Breaking Bad not only makes dabbing look way shadier, but it results in shotgunning hits that are harder to take than they should be. Let’s get away from meth chic, start using properly sized pieces so I’m not bending over to hit something that makes me look like Andre the Giant, and stop bringing in pieces that look like DnD props.

Incredible Edibles:

I have a love/hate relationship with edibles. They can get the job done, and work very well in the right situation, but we all have a story or two where we ended up in the deep end without intending to. That said, the wide range of available edibles was impressive, effective, and delicious. From the upscale salted caramels to the down home S’mores rice crispy treats, to the outrageous 2000 mg of THC three inch gummy bear (I just had a sliver, otherwise I would have floated home after) there was something for everyone and all of a solid level of quality. The days of buying dry brownies that taste like a bag of lawn trimmings are behind us.

WUI (Working Under the Influence):

One thing I’ve noticed at these kind of events is that the folks working the convention are taking advantage of their free admission. Far be it from I to call someone out for getting lit and paid at the same time, but it’s clear that some people are a lot better at working while high than others. As we wrap our heads around what legalization means, I understand that people in the industry are proud of their wares and want to see what the competition is doing, but I saw more than a couple booths where everyone working was talking in a circle and ignoring the public that they were supposed to be selling to, and plenty of folks trailed off halfway through their pitch. I expect the ability to keep your head on straight after a dab is going to be an increasingly in demand skill, and that those who can’t hang will be forced to straighten up or ship out.

Amateur Hour:

While we’re at it, there’s an odd discrepancy in the level of professionalism across the board. Some of this can be chalked up to targeting different demographics, but a lot of it just looks like laziness. Being told to “try some of our shit” made way more sense coming from a white dude with dreadlocks with the only Trainwreck available in town than it does when I’m being pitched by someone who’s competition is found ten feet away. Also, when I ask for your contact info, a sticker with a logo and no name, number, or website isn’t what I’m looking for. This is legal now. Be proud of your product and act like it, or you’re going to look like a drug dealer among businesses.

Have we reached peak bro?:

If we can be real for a minute, San Francisco is a pretty bro-y place in its history. This is reflected at the cannabis events I’ve seen, with hoodie-clad dudes with non traditional facial hair dominating the scene. Now, I won’t act like I don’t count more than a few cannabis-loving bros as friends, but I would hope that the scene doesn’t lose the sense of diversity and inclusivity that’s kept it vibrant, inviting, and culturally relevant since the days of Louie Armstrong. There were many booths representing minority and female-owned businesses, and you could find folks in the crowd from every walk of life, but for an industry that is this young, its lack of diversity is worrisome, particularly considering the legal barriers preventing those who got in trouble for cannabis in the past from taking their spot on the gravy train in the present.

Stoned Seniors:

I hope I never stop being amused by watching old people get high. Watching a former flower child try her first dab to the cheers of onlookers was fun, adorable and hilarious. If this trend holds, I look forward to toking in front of a mirror in a few decades and laughing my ass off every time.

All in all, we’re all trying to work out the rules of how getting high in public is supposed to work. I expect events such as these will grow more professional as time goes on, and they may become overly sanitized in the process, losing some of the lackadaisical charm so associated with cannabis. That said, we’re only a few steps into this brave, new world and there may end up being enough space for both ends of that spectrum to coexist. What I can tell you is that these events are quite a bit of fun, with a lot of curious, excited people, both attendees and vendors, who are trying to work out our post-Prop 64 reality. I recommend spending the money, bringing a friend, and seeing this scene for yourself. We’ve waited a long time for legal cannabis, it’s only right we go out and enjoy it together.

#CultivateYourself: BHOgart

Here at VapeXhale, we take the extracts we like to dab with very seriously. That’s one of the reasons the good works of BHOgart have caught our eye. BHOgart (The BHO referring to Botanical Hydrocarbon Oil) is San Jose, CA based, but rapidly expanding with retail locations throughout California, Southern Oregon and Spain to service their growing base of extraction artists. Their closed loop extraction systems are used to produce a variety of essential oils, Butane, Propane and terpene extraction with an ethos driven by building a safer, more professional and progressive extraction community. What that means to dabbers and EVO users everywhere is that thanks to the efforts of the team at BHOgart, the world can consume a cleaner, purer, more consistent product every time. We sat down with Liz Lynch and Dan Steigman of BHOgart to learn about their story.

Liz is not your prototypical cannabis enthusiast, but her path to cannabis parallels many medical users: It was more effective at helping her manage anxiety and recover from stressful competitions as an athlete than the offerings from ‘Big Pharma’. Realizing the increased peace of mind it provided and the lack of common sense laws surrounding it, the medicine and the cause surrounding it became intertwined in her life path.

On the flip side, Liz was raised in a household with two parents working in law enforcement, regularly tasked with eradicating the crops of plants she was finding an immense benefit from; yielding unique and polarizing perspectives into many facets of the federal government’s inadvertent industry subsidies, land management and responsible cannabis cultivation arguments. Her father’s role was centered around protecting the public lands that were being poisoned by toxic, illegal grow sites, which made a strong impact on Liz wanting to keep her plants, gardens and extracts clean and green.  

In her adult life, she’s openly championed it’s benefits, referring to cannabis as a cure-all, particularly for women, highlighting its effectiveness at dealing with nausea and cramps. It remains a daily staple of her life, enjoying it’s social, creative and medicinal benefits all the same. 

Once a volleyball player at a Christian University, she shocked her teammates by imbibing before every game and practice, allowing her to stay focused and put the crowd out of her mind. “Most Californians were cool with it, the hardcore christians thought I was the devil.” She bounced around the country apprenticing, later managing cultivation sites and through a few degrees of separation, ended up running accounting and project management at BHOgart. 

A few years ago, Dan came into BHOgart looking to buy an extractor, but was so happy with the environment and the ethos behind the brand, he never left. With a background in activism, he appreciates the professional, but still non-corporate mentality of the company. “People have come in at an entry level position, worked their way up and switched gears to become our production manager, for example. We’re in tune with one another and responsive to the needs of the team – everyone gets to contribute!” As BHOgart’s Director of Innovation, his energy rightfully matches his love for all things extraction. “We’re not trying to sell Apple computers where we’re releasing a new model every year, it’s more of a progression. We’ve been coming up with the technology needed for our extractors because it didn’t exist before.” Dedicated to creating a safer and more standardized environment, BHOgart sought and received ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) certification for the system’s pressure vessels (see specific models/sizes for details) and Pressure Safety Inspectors third party peer reviews. Daniel and his team passionately dedicated meeting the highest possible standard and stay ahead of whatever regulatory structure will end up in place. 

With five stores between California, Oregon and Barcelona, and 10 distributors around the US and Canada, BHOgart is clearly doing well, which Liz and Dan attribute to a healthy, open and positive company philosophy. Dan sums it up as “a fun job, it’s a pleasure to come into work every day. We can make change”. They embrace transparency and consumer awareness, describing potential risks from open blasting, pesticide use, and even the mundanities of storage. And as with all cannabis consumers in California, they’re excited about the march towards legalization and the growing acceptance of cannabis that comes with it. Liz stated “People need to lead by their own lifestyle, their own life example. It’s really important to destigmatize the plant, be a positive, productive active member of society, the only way to change the perspective is to be the change.” She continued, “I think it’s important that consumers treat their medicine the same as anything else they put in their body…just like food. It’s important to know where it comes from and how it was processed. The disconnect in consumer awareness is debilitating to your body over time.” 

“Colloquial awareness resonates deeply with me too. People speak casually with little foresight regarding women, sexuality, race and cannabis. Such as ‘marijuana’, I believe it’s a racist term, used as a propaganda meme so I try to avoid it.” Dan jumped in, “That’s an arbitrary term, it’s cannabis at this point, that’s what scientists call it. People who don’t smoke cannabis call it marijuana, my dad calls it that, people with a negative opinion of it call it that.” 

With these two young entrepreneurs representing what cannabis users can accomplish, it’s hard to see how stereotypes about lazy potheads will stay standing for much longer.

VapeXhale Customer Profile: Steven Gregorinski

March 7, 1991, Steven Gregorinski was working as a plumbers apprentice on the construction of a high school when a 330 pound cast came loose from the ceiling and came down on his right shoulder, crushing the ladder he was standing on. This led to years of surgeries and what he calls the “wheel of medications”, as his doctors moved him from painkiller to painkiller, he gained a tolerance for one after the other. His lack of mobility led to substantial weight gain, as he grew to 260 pounds. Finally, needing a new direction he began researching medical cannabis, and soon after everything changed.

“People think because we’re using cannabis we’re just using it to get high,” says Gregorinski. “To the contrary, I’m using cannabis so I’m not laying around all day, so I can get up and do things and feel like a whole person. No one knows what it’s like to feel like half a person until they’re there. Not only have I suffered a lot of chronic pain but I’ve felt the depression and everything else that comes along with it. Once you’re in it you feel like you’re always going to be in it, and now that I’m getting away from that it’s such an awakening experience, it’s been profound.”

Currently, Steven works as a caregiver to his elderly parents, requiring him to keep his wits about him during the day. He starts a typical day with a CBD-heavy sativa, with Your Highness and Juanita la Lagrimosa as two of his current favorites. Not only do they help him manage his pain, but it’s enabled him to expand his workout regimen. “I’ll get to a point where I feel fatigue, catch my breath, get high, and my body feels rejuvenated, I can do another set. Before, I couldn’t do two push-ups without a defibrillator, but now I can do so much more. A year and a half ago I was a different person, someone that you would have felt sorry for.” This healthier lifestyle also led him to reject processed foods, switching to a diet comprised of natural ingredients. Evidently, it’s having an effect, as on the 26th anniversary of his accident at the age of 48, Steven was down to 180 pounds.

This miraculous change in his condition has made him into an evangelist for the healing powers of cannabis. While he’s not a doctor, he has clearly done a great deal of research and is happy to share it with any and all who are interested, as others shared it with him when he was questioning the logic of a never-ending supply of narcotic painkillers. “Our misclassification of cannabis will go down as one of humanity’s greatest blunders” he said regretfully. “But with everything changing now is a wonderful time to be alive.” He’s particularly thankful that medical cannabis isn’t just legal in his hometown of Mississauga in Ontario, but that the stigma he felt when he was using painkillers is gone. Furthermore, he relishes the wide range of cannabis products that are currently available in the open market. “Certain things for certain times. Cannabis isn’t just a one label thing. There are so many different kinds of medicine that can help so many people. If it helps somebody, what’s wrong with that? It’s natural, God created it.” 

From the beginning of his use of medical cannabis, Steven wanted to avoid combustion in favor of vaporization, as he didn’t want a smoky-smelling house and a regular cough. He picked up an array of vapes, but stopped looking once he found the EVO. “It’s the cadillac of vaporizers, not just the way it looks but the functionality. And it’s not just about the taste, it’s about getting the full benefit out of it.” Steven agrees with Vapexhale CEO Seibo Shen that users looking to maximize the beneficial effects of cannabis should be inhaling so as to deliver THC into the capillaries.

He does warn that it is not a device to be approached lightly. “All of my friends lick their lips when they see my EVO. They’ve been smoking for 30-35 years, and they think they have an iron lung, and three hits later they’re on the floor.” That said, he believes the EVO is simply the best way to consume cannabis. “It’s not about cost, that unit has saved me money and I haven’t even had it a year. It allows me to use my medicine in the most beneficial way, and not waste it. I’ve tried a lot of vapes, and there are a lot of copycats, but ultimately you get what you pay for.”

Steven is just one of our satisfied customers who was happy to share his experience with us. If you wish to let us know how your EVO has changed your relationship with cannabis, email us at brianne@vapexhale.com.

#CultivateYourself: Lia Arnsten

Lia Arntsen, the founder of Colorado’s You Canna Be Well and Huff & Puff Fitness, stumbled across the idea of combining fitness and cannabis quite by accident. “I have a love/hate relationship with exercise” she said, pointing out that she was never a big fan of gym culture, preferring smaller groups of women focused more on mutual support than bro-ish competition. When her and a group of friends shared a joint before an exercise session however, she found that missing X factor. Cannabis allowed her to focus more intently on exercises she normally found to be tedious, and enabled her to numb some of the aches and pains without exposing her to injury.

The seed had been planted, but it needed the right soil to grow. Leaving Florida for Colorado with just her dog and an idea, Arnsten started her research with herself as her first guinea pig. When she would medicate either pre or post workout, she tracked what she took and what the effects were. While not a doctor, she started acting as an unofficial “CannaCoach”, making recommendations of particular cannabis strains and products to friends, seeing what worked and what didn’t, approaching with the philosophy that “I know cannabis and you know your body, so together we can work out the best way for you to use cannabis”. She found that, even in a state with legal marijuana openly sold, there was still a sizable lack of knowledge of the breadth of available cannabis products, particularly topicals and lotions that don’t result in the high that is commonly associated with cannabis. She joked that she was like a “cannafairy”, providing reliable information and encouraging the reticent to give it a try, and found that motivating others to work out reinforced her willpower for her own personal fitness routine. This eventually led to the creation of You Canna Be Well, Arntsen’s site offering advice and recommendations on cannabis, fitness, and living a balanced life.

Not content with just a website, Arnsten created Huff and Puff Fitness, an exercise class that incorporates cannabis both before and after the workout. Arnsten works with individual clients to determine their “Canna-equation”, so they can determine what works best for them. Personally, she likes to start with a bowl of a citrusy sativa, preferring a Durban Poison or a Super Silver Haze to motivate her, along with 10-20mg of an indica edible to allow her to push herself a little further past what she otherwise finds comfortable. Her classes offer up bowls served in an EVO as well as one hitters for before, and a range of topics and ointments for pain relief after. The classes are designed to be body positive and attuned to a range of levels of fitness. “Healthy, strong, & fit” is the stated goal for participants rather than worrying about weight. As Arnsten states, “We have different bodies, learning how to work with and appreciate yours is the most important thing”. Furthermore, the class promotes a holistic approach for wellness. “Wellness really is about mind, body and soul. It’s more than working out it’s about volunteering, it’s about being creative it’s about making sure you calling people you care about, living a total wellness life.”

Arnsten sees a great deal of room for expansion in the cannabis fitness market. Having worked with Jim McAlpine to bring the 420 Games to Denver, she has seen firsthand the legions of cannabis users that put the lie to stereotypes about couch potatoes eating funyuns. “Everyone just needs an extra push. I keep people accountable for their wellness,” she explained, arguing that cannabis could be the motivating factor to get people off the couch. With cannabis becoming increasingly available across the country, we’re inclined to agree that Huff & Puff Fitness will be seeing quite a few imitators in the years to come.

Cannabis vs. Alcohol

In the debate over the legalization of cannabis, pro-legalization forces have often drawn comparisons between cannabis and alcohol. This has made sense rhetorically, as few people think alcohol prohibition was a great model for public policy. And we won’t argue there are multiple points where they are similar; they’re both commonly used for their intoxicating effects, they’re represented in pop culture, and there’s few problems with adults using either, provided they act responsibly. But now that we’re on the right side of legalization here in California, it’s time for us to come clean. Cannabis is better than alcohol, in pretty much every way that matters.

Let’s start with their effects on the body. Both substances are absorbed into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body, causing differing effects. With alcohol, those effects are taxing to the liver, brain, heart, pancreas, and immune system. Cannabis can damage your lungs if you aren’t vaporizing or eating it, isn’t great for short-term memory while under the influence, and will temporarily raise your blood pressure. Overuse of cannabis can result in dizziness or feeling withdrawn and anxious. This can usually be cured by lying down with a blanket for a while. Overuse of alcohol often results in vomiting, and in extreme cases can require stomach pumping, with death as a real possibility, one that claims six lives a day in the US, as opposed to marijuana’s none. And we’d be remiss to not mention the day after. As we get older, the effects of a hangover get increasingly taxing. Headaches, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, trouble concentrating, and of course, more vomiting are par for the course. Meanwhile, the aftereffects of smoking or vaping cannabis tend to all revolve around dehydration or overeating. There’s not much a glass of water and a trip to the bathroom the morning after a night of cannabis overindulgence won’t fix. In short, if your body had a choice, it would choose cannabis every time.

To talk about behavior, let’s start with a question: if you had the choice between hosting five drunk people or five high people in your home, which group would you pick? If you picked the high people, congratulations for not finding anything broken. This is because cannabis tends not to make users aggressive or nearly as clumsy, nor does it provide that inflated sense of self-esteem that lets you believe you’re more charming, a better driver, or good at karaoke because of alcohol. The basic act of consuming these substances is fundamentally different. Getting drunk is often the extent of the plan; few people go to a bar with the intention of doing something else afterwards, drinking at the bar is the end goal. Cannabis however can flavor other experiences rather than being the total experience. Marijuana consumers often get high as a prelude to going to dinner or the movies. My parents enjoy edibles on their way to the opera or the symphony. Plenty of our customers use it to get into the zone for a workout. None of these activities work nearly as well after five or six beers.

Finally, if you look at the two from a public policy perspective, the contrast is even more stark. Alcohol is a factor in 27% of physical assaults, 37% of sexual assaults and rapes, 40% of murders, and approximately 10,000 DUIs a year. Numbers on cannabis are harder to come by, but that’s a good sign that they’re lower by a large factor. Additionally, Washington and Colorado have seen no increase in these crimes since the end of prohibition, making it difficult to blame the discrepancy on the legal status. Whether alcohol makes people more violent and irresponsible or whether violent and irresponsible people seek out alcohol, the numbers are clear; cannabis is not nearly as costly for society at large than alcohol is.

This is not to say that there’s no place for alcohol. Millions of Americans (myself included) consume beer, wine, and liquor responsibly, and suffer few negative effects from doing so. And of course, free people should have the right to choose what they do with their own bodies. But if you’re looking to alter your reality, cannabis is by far the safer, more healthful option that enables better behavior and is better for communities. So as you make plans for St. Paddy’s Day, maybe plan on partaking in a natural green rather than light beer and food coloring. Your body, friends, and neighbors might thank you.

Cannabis & Sex

Here at Vapexhale, we try to push back against stereotypes of cannabis consumers being lazy couch potatoes by highlighting the positive effects marijuana can have on physical performance. But this doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty about not being a pro-football player or mixed martial artist, as there’s one physical activity that most of us enjoy a great deal. I’m talking about sex, baby, and if you haven’t been doing it while high, you’ve been missing out.As with many aspects of cannabis, science is getting around to providing evidence in place of years of anecdotes. Marijuana was considered an aphrodisiac by most of the cultures that had access to it, going back to China in 2700 BCE. Hugh Hefner became a major supporter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws shortly after discovering what he called “a whole other dimension to sex” through cannabis use. This could be explained by a recent study linking the CB1 receptor in the brain to the female orgasm. The CB1 receptor is a part of the endocannabinoid system, which allows us to feel the high commonly associated with cannabis. 

This may account for why cannabis can be a positive for your sex life, but let’s take a look at the data showing what it could improve. Since the 80s, a series of studies have had respondents claim that cannabis increases both libido and sexual pleasure. Another study by about.com showed that 5 out of 6 men found cannabis to enhance their sexual pleasure, while 90% of women found the same. In addition, 40% of the women polled said cannabis improved the quality of their orgasm. A poll conducted by match.com found that cannabis users were 30% more likely to want to make out at the end of a date, have 3.6% more orgasms per sexual encounter, and most surprisingly 109% more likely to have had multiple orgasms. Whether this is a direct side effect of cannabis use, a result of a heightened sensory system, or due to users being more relaxed and less anxious, they’re results that are hard to ignore.

Cannabis producers are already working to meet demand for cannabis as a sexual aid. Foria offers a lubricant made from a combination of coconut and cannabis oil that purports to help women and their partners have more and stronger orgasms. Also, cannabis suppositories that can be administered either vaginally or rectally are becoming more common as the marijuana market diversifies. However, fans of the high experience should be warned that these techniques will deliver only on the physical effects of cannabis. For those looking for a good old-fashioned high before you celebrate the best part of Valentine’s Day, your EVO is more than capable of getting you there.

Cannabis Legalization Election Preview

If you’re anything like us, Election Day can’t come fast enough. But while the mainstream media gives us 24/7 coverage of this tire fire of a Presidential race, pro-cannabis activists across the country are poised to strike some devastating blows against Prohibition. Next Tuesday, five states will vote on legalizing the adult use of marijuana, while four more vote on medical marijuana. Here’s a primer on what’s at stake, and how we can expect to see cannabis laws change in the days ahead. Disclaimer: These haven’t been voted on yet, and I am not a lawyer. If you get caught walking down the street with a lit blunt and expect to get off the hook by showing them this article, you should cut down a bit.
Arizona:

What: Prop 205, which would legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older.

When: September 1, 2018

How much: 15% tax on sales. Money would go first to fund the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, with the leftovers going 80% to schools and 20% to poison control. Local governments would also get half of licensing fees from businesses in their jurisdiction, with the rest going to the DMLC.

Gonna Happen?: It’s neck and neck, and it’s gotten so nasty that the Colorado Legislature had to call out the opposition for misrepresenting legalization in their state. Expect to stay up late on Tuesday if you want to see how this one shakes out.
California:

What: Prop 64, which would legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older.

When: November 9, 2016 for possession, mid-2017 for sales.

How much: 15% tax on sales, $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves for cultivation. Estimates vary, but this tax would likely bring in approximately $1 billion per year into California’s coffers. 60% of this fund would go to drug prevention, treatment, and education, 20% to state and local law enforcement, and 20% to environmental restoration, cleanup, and enforcement. The California Highway Patrol will receive $3 million per year for the next four years in order to establish a means of determining whether drivers are under the influence of marijuana. A portion of the revenue will also go to fund research into the medical benefits of marijuana.

Gonna Happen?: Bet on it. A PPIC poll from October shows 55% in favor with only 38% opposed. In 2010, Prop 19 was hemorrhaging support at this stage of the game, and there’s no evidence history is repeating itself, in no small part to the fact that the opposition is underfunded and outgunned.
Maine:

What: Question 1, which would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for people 21 and older.

When: 30 days after the official results of the election are determined (so probably early December unless it’s a close call).

How much: 10% tax on sales. This would bring in an estimated $2.8 million in 2017 and over $10 million in the subsequent years. 98% of that would go straight to the general fund, with 2% going to the Local Government Fund.

Gonna Happen?: Probably. Polls put it up 50% to 41%, which is down from the 15 point spread earlier this year, but is still a healthy margin of error. In addition, opposition forces haven’t been terribly well organized. If you want a lobster roll with cannabis butter, might be a good time to book a flight.
Massachusetts:

What: Question 4, which would legalize possession of up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their homes and 1 ounce in public for people 21 and older.

When: December 15, 2016.

How much: 3.75% tax on sales, with individual cities able to tack on another 2% for themselves. The 3.75% would go into the Marijuana Regulation Fund which (not surprisingly )would solely fund the regulation of marijuana.

Gonna Happen?: Signs point to yes. The polls have been squirrelly lately, but a recent poll that concluded on November 2nd put it at 61% in favor with 34% opposed. The odds of Kevin Smith tricking Affleck and Damon into Jay and Silent Bob 2: Electric Boogaloo are looking better by the day.
Nevada:

What: Question 2, which would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older.

When: January 1, 2017.

How much: 15% excise tax on wholesale sales. All the taxes that don’t go to fund the regulatory structures created by the measure would go straight into public education

Gonna Happen?: Seems likely. There’s not a lot of recent polls, but polls taken in August and September showed legalization forces with somewhere between a 10 and 20 point lead. It also stands to reason that a state as dependant on tourism as Nevada would find a lot of support for such a measure.
Arkansas:

What: Issue 6, which would legalize medical marijuana for 17 conditions..

When: Not clear, as the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, Department of Health, and the newly created Medical Marijuana Commission would have to design a regulatory framework first.

How much: There wouldn’t be a special marijuana tax, but existing sales taxes would apply. Of that revenue, 50% would go to the Vocational and Technical Training Special Revenue Fund, 30% to the General Fund, 10% to workforce training programs, 5% to the Department of Health, 4% to the ABCC, and 1% to the Medical Marijuana Commission.

Gonna Happen?: Wouldn’t bet on it. Polls show a close race, which is often bad news for initiatives, and one of the two medical marijuana measures on the ballot was decertified on October 27, but remains on the ballot. A close race plus a confusing ballot is rarely a good sign.
Florida:

What: Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana for a short list of conditions, but would allow licensed doctors to certify patients for other conditions determined to be comparable.

When: After the Department of Health sets up a regulatory framework.

How much: No new taxes, just standard sales tax, which would go into the general fund.

Gonna Happen?: Odds are good. Florida initiatives need to pass a 60% threshold to pass, but a previous measure in 2014 made it to 57%. This time, increased turnout due to it being a Presidential year will likely put them over the top, There have been quite a few polls this year, all of which have it passing safely, many with a more than a ten point cushion. Hopefully, Florida will no longer be known as the land of bath salts. 
Montana:

What: Initiative 182 which would amend a Montana Senate Bill that heavily curtailed medical marijuana in the state, allowing for medical marijuana providers to have more than three patients and eliminate the state review of physicians that prescribe marijuana to more than 25 patients.

When: Either immediately, or on June 30, 2017. Due to a clerical error, it would likely be up to the Legislature to decide, so it’d be unlikely to see any change until January of 2017 when they come back into session.

How much: No special taxes, just licensing fees.

Gonna Happen?: Doubt it. It was down 44% to 51% in early October, and it seems unlikely that supporters will turn it around.
North Dakota:

What: Measure 5, which would legalize medical marijuana for defined medical conditions.

When: After the Department of Health sets up the regulatory framework.

How much: Estimates are that expenditures would outpace revenues generated by medical marijuana, but no special taxes will be applied.

Gonna Happen?: Beats me. A poll taken in 2014 showed 47% support for medical marijuana compared to 41% opposed, and that’s the last time anyone bothered to ask. I guess North Dakotans like to keep their cards close to their chest.

That’s the nine states voting on cannabis on Tuesday. If it needs to be said, remember to vote. Some people think marijuana smokers are lazy deadbeats that can’t be motivated to do anything. Some of those people are elected officials. Show them how wrong they are.

Post-64: Day One

I’m sitting on my friend’s balcony watching the ducks below on my first day of Trump’s America. I’ve known Tom and Louise since college, he was one of my groomsmen, she my primary smoking partner for a decade, so their apartment seemed the ideal place to celebrate the passage of Prop 64 and similar measure from Nevada to Massachusetts. I took my first drag on a magic stick from San Jose’s Purple Lotus and as the flower, kief and hash oil wove themselves through me, I began to contemplate the new legal reality we have found ourselves in.
I spent many years of my marijuana smoking career as a criminal, mostly possession, a short stint in sales, the occasional transporting across state lines. But in 2008, I got a new coworker who was proudly out of the green closet. Jon was a diabetic, and he found cannabis helped him cope, mostly because it’s better for your blood sugar than gin. I was nervous about signing up medical marijuana, as I had enough semi-reliable dealers to keep me covered, worried about being on a list, and wasn’t in any way sick. But Jon was a determined evangelist, and convinced me that, since Obama was expected to be more lenient on the subject than his predecessor, my gift to myself for his election should be signing up. So a week after Election Day I strolled into MediCann with a memorized list of other people’s experiences with insomnia, and strolled back out having been asked zero questions about said insomnia with a cannabis prescription. That evening, I got high in the hills of San Carlos, no longer a criminal, but instead a licensed patient. I was now a sick man, but the cure was easily at hand.
The difference was night and day. First of all, dispensaries beat the hell out of drug dealers. It’s hard to be a choosy consumer when in the passenger seat of a relative stranger’s truck while he looks around for cops and hands you what he says is an honest eighth. Instead, I walked into Grass Roots on Post and Polk, sidled up to the bar, asked what was good, and got the most informed answer I had ever received. I got a crash course on indicas and sativas, looked at the buds through a magnifying glass, and walked out with two eighths, one of Trainwreck, one of Blackberry Kush, a bit of hash, a pre-rolled joint, and a whole new perspective. I finally started figuring out what strains I preferred and was able to better pair my collection with my evening plans. I could take advantage of sales and bulk purchases, rarely an option in the black market. It was also nice having a storefront instead of a connection, as storefronts don’t stop answering their phones for three days, nor do they make you feel obligated to come to their improv show (wasn’t enough green in the state to save that evening). Even with their scarcity in some parts of the state (including my home in San Mateo County) having posted hours and a regular schedule was a great convenience. As a result, I haven’t suffered through a drought in 8 years.
More than that, there was a shift in how I perceived my own cannabis use. Before, while not exactly a secret, my use was something I kept close to my chest as I still considered it something that could cost me my freedom and employment if it came up in the wrong circumstances. With a card in my wallet, this changed. At concerts or outdoor venues (Bless you Zeitgeist) I’d light up freely, respecting the space of those around me, but not fearing consequences for what should be a consequence free act. No more sneaking, no more keeping a stash in the trunk in a gym bag under a blanket. My proudest moment as a patient is when a Belmont officer, having pulled me over for rolling a stop sign, said he smelled marijuana in the car as he handed me the ticket. I pulled out my card, put my hand on my stash, and said I hadn’t partaken but did have it in the car, at which point he asked me to drive safe and have a good night. My passenger, a six foot eight Senegalese immigrant marveled at this act of privileged wizardry, as I thanked both Jah and Jon for their role in my salvation.
With my history, I can’t say my first legal high was profoundly different than my first medical one. I made the choice to become legally compliant years ago, and I have felt free since then. But I am eager to have more company. Since my first experience with cannabis 17 years ago, I have considered its use to be a freedom everyone should be able to enjoy. Prohibition was a failure practically, fiscally, and morally, but that doesn’t encapsulate all the reasons why it was a backwards policy. Cannabis allows me to think more freely, to find joy in small things that often pass my notice. It lets me get more in touch with my emotions, and makes me more thankful for those I am close to. My three vices are food, sex, and pop culture, and cannabis use enhances and heightens my appreciation of all three. I partake far less than I used to, but it still brings me a great deal of happiness, and I am eager to exploring its use and the culture surrounding it as it becomes more available to all Californians. Since the days of jazz musicians and beatniks, up through the hippies into hip-hop, cannabis has been defined by its illegality. It has given this plant an outlaw appeal, and its users enjoyed a sense of fraternity. To smoke with a stranger was to embark on a mutual risk, to enter into a trust, and to share an experience that was legally dangerous while otherwise safe. Going forward we will form a new ethic, a new aesthetic, a new set of rituals and customs. I look forward to learning all I can of it.

Cannabis 101: How to Get There

50 million Americans live in a state that legalized marijuana last week. If you’re one of them, you may well be excited about your first legal bowl. But for every regular smoker, there’s someone who hasn’t picked up a piece since college and someone else who has never touched the stuff. So, in recognition of those who are looking to either get back into the wide world of weed or to check it out for the first time, we here at VapeXhale would like to give you some advice on how to experience this miraculous plant safely, comfortably, and legally.

Find a friend

If you’re going to get high for the first time, you should have a friend with you who knows the ropes. Cannabis is often a social experience, and while many aficionados light up alone, most prefer some company. Also, smoking for the first time takes some getting used to, and watching some YouTube video trying to teach you how to work a carb is not a recipe for a fun evening. Being high for the first time may make some everyday tasks more difficult, either because your senses of coordination or perception are off, your memory is less reliable than usual, or because you get the giggles on each attempt. As such, it’ll help to have someone around who can help you through whatever struggles you are met with. Thankfully, marijuana smokers are everywhere, so you’ve likely got a friend who knows their way around a bong, even if you don’t know it yet.

Choose your weapon

There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the increasing strength of cannabis. And while some of that discourse has been just more Reefer Madness, there is some truth to it. The combination of marijuana’s growing popularity and illegal status has incentivized growers to maximize THC content. As such, if you haven’t had a joint since Woodstock, you’re going to feel the difference. Now, there’s still plenty to enjoy, just don’t jump right into the deep end. Straight flower is probably a good place to start, preferably an indica which tends to have a more calming and relaxing experience, as opposed to sativas which tend to leave users feeling more energized and eager to move and explore. Don’t feel that marijuana is only for shut-ins of course, but it would be wise to get a feel for how it affects you before you go out to meet the neighbors. A joint is the most simple option, but if you aren’t used to smoking, a bong will provide a smoother and milder experience, and a vaporizer even more so.

Watch out for edibles

Edibles are growing more common every day, and are easy to share, particularly when out and about. But, as Maureen Dowd learned the hard way, edibles can be very powerful. If you’re a rookie, 5 milligrams is a good jumping off point, but it’s not unheard of to find products with a THC count in the hundreds. If you wouldn’t introduce someone to alcohol by handing them a funnel and a bottle of everclear, don’t take a whole brownie without reading the label or talking to the baker. You’ll be OK of course, but you might not be able to do much besides sit, stare, and smile for a couple of hours. Also, the effects of edibles can vary based on when you last ate, so don’t make the classic mistake of taking more because you haven’t felt the effects yet, as you may realize you’re in deeper than you intended.

Clear your schedule

Your first time should ideally be in a safe space with no interruptions. Again, experienced users can handle many day-to-day activities while high without a problem, be it doing the dishes, playing with their kids, or finishing up that power point presentation for work. But as Bill Hicks said, “When you’re high, you can do everything you normally do just as well. You just realize that it’s not worth the effort.” You don’t want to realize the fundamental absurdity of the universe at the same time you remember you’ve got to pick your sister up at the airport. Be in a position where you can not worry about work, don’t need to look at your phone, and can just sit back and relax.

Hit it, don’t quit it

Now the moment is at hand. If you’re using a pipe or bong, it’s a deceptively simple practice. First, pack your bowl with greens, which ideally you would have split or ground up. Next, while covering the carb if you have one, light the bowl and inhale enough that smoke begins to accumulate in the chamber. When a sufficient amount of smoke is visible (and you’ll have to experiment to see how much you can handle, but don’t feel you need to show off) uncover the carb or remove the slide. This allows the free flow of air from the chamber to your lungs. Breathe from your diaphragm, holding the smoke as long as you can, and then exhale (preferably towards a window. Cannabis smells wonderful, but stale cannabis? Less so.)

Don’t feel the need to take more than you feel you can handle, but you should continue until you can feel a difference. Many people bungle their first hit, refuse a second, and then claim cannabis doesn’t work for them. If you take a few hits and give it a few minutes, you’ll likely experience a feeling of movement when standing still, euphoria, or a change in perception. That’s when you can effectively judge the experience and determine if it’s for you.

Don’t drink and imbibe

Alcohol and cannabis have multiplicative effects upon one another. As such, if you’re just starting out with cannabis, you should probably leave the liquor in the cabinet. When you feel more comfortable with the herb, you can try drinking while high, but we’d advise you to take it slow. Otherwise, it’s quite likely you’ll find the room starts spinning faster than you’d, and the contents of your stomach, would appreciate.

Enjoy the ride

Once you’re high, remember to have fun. There isn’t a universal response to cannabis, so don’t feel married to your expectations. It’d be wise to have a range of stimulae on hand so you’re covered with however the mood takes you. Listening to music, talking with friends, watching cartoons, making a puzzle, playing a board game, or whatever else could seem like a whole new experience, so it’s good to have options available. You don’t want to end up rooting through your closet just to realize you forgot what you started looking for. Stay hydrated, as you will more than likely have some cottonmouth to deal with, and marijuana does act as a diuretic. The munchies is a very real phenomenon, likely caused by endocannabinoids getting into your hypothalamus which leads to your cannabinoid receptors increasing your appetite. As such, it is wise to have something (or many things) you enjoy eating on hand. Contrary to stereotypes, not all high people subsist on junk food; foods of all sorts will become more exciting, but remember that you will have to face the consequences the next day, regardless of how good everything tastes. All in all, the journey you have embarked on is perfectly safe, more so than ever if the legal barriers against use have been removed. Enjoy the journey.

Cannabis 101: What is Cannabis?

Here at VapeXhale, we like to consider ourselves cannabis experts. We love cannabis, and we sell our product to people who love cannabis too. But with cannabis prohibition giving way to common sense across the country, a lot of people are expressing their curiosity about this incredible plant. As such, we wanted to get back to basics for everyone out there who was trying cannabis out for the first time or who is coming back after a long hiatus. We’ll have a lot to say on the subject in the near future, but today let’s answer the first question: What is cannabis?

Three species of plant provide what we commonly refer to as marijuana: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis, and over the course of generations, farmers have cultivated hundreds of different strains. These plants grow buds that contain chemical compounds that, when consumed, will affect our bodies and minds in ways that can be medically beneficial and quite enjoyable. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are the primary compounds that produce the effects that marijuana connoisseurs seek. After consumption, these chemicals interact with cannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies, which can lead to “a general alteration of conscious perception, euphoria, feelings of well-being, relaxation or stress reduction, increased appreciation of the arts, including humor and music (especially discerning its various components/instruments), joviality, metacognition and introspection, enhanced recollection (episodic memory), increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, increased libido, and creativity. Abstract or philosophical thinking, disruption of linear memory and paranoia or anxiety are also typical.” (Effects of cannabis, Wikipedia) Unlike other recreational drugs, cannabis has no possibility of overdose, and does not carry the addictive potential of alcohol or tobacco. Cannabis affects everyone differently, and the wide range of strains have different effects and differing amounts of THC and CBD, allowing for users to pick and choose among both varietals and circumstances for the kind of experience they prefer.

Cannabis also has many medicinal uses, which has led to its legalization for medical purposes in 25 states. Written records have been found from nearly 5000 years ago describing the use of cannabis as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug, and it is current used to treat everything from arthritis to anxiety to seizures to the side effects of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the legal status of marijuana on the Federal level has stymied research in the US, although studies from China and Israel among others have offered hope that cannabis could help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or certain forms of cancer.

Cannabis is available in its natural state as a dried herb, or as an extract such as hash or hash oil, which have more concentrated doses of THC and CBD. They are most commonly smoked, but can be cooked into food by bonding the chemical compounds with fats such as butter or oil. In addition, though the use of a vaporizer, which allows the active ingredients to be turned into a gas without igniting the plant matter, allowing for a smokeless high.

We hope this has been a helpful introduction to cannabis. In the coming weeks, we hope to write about the experience of using cannabis, as well as dive into some more specific topics on the subject. With legalization on the ballot in five states next Tuesday, hopefully you’ll have an opportunity to try this miraculous plant for yourselves with a knowledgeable confidence.