Pulmonary Illness Linked to Vaping?

In the last week the media has produced some fear mongering headlines involving an investigation of an Oregon death linked to vaping.

Articles on various websites in the last couple days are not shying away from pointing the finger at vape products purchased at a legal pot shop to be potentially linked to the cause of the death of the middle-aged Oregon man.

I call these fear-driven headlines blasphemy!

If you ask me the only connection one could make to a hazardous cannabis vape oil is one that would be sourced from the black market.

I was talking to some family members from California that shop around at some of the flea market style cannabis bodegas. We were specifically talking about certain vendors selling rip off vape cartridges that either didn’t work or didn’t get you high. My cousin was jokingly talking about them refilling old cartridges with hot dog water and ripping people off.

Frequently people come into Tacoma House of Cannabis asking about refilling empty vape carts with oil that they thinned out with substances like MCT oil or something else they purchased from the internet or at a tobacco vape shop.

I always tell people that this is a bad idea. Not just because the filaments could burn out in the vape cartridge and leave your oil trapped, but because cutting/thinning pure cannabis oil is not natural and one should never smoke a thinning agent.

The fear mongering that the various media outlets were doing didn’t take any of the black-market aspect into consideration.

NPR published an article that did a really good job breaking down what could have been the source of the health hazard.

In the NPR article they interviewed New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and picked his brain on the issues of what could be the source of the health hazard.

Zucker says that Vitamin E oil was very prevalent in about 13 of the patient-submitted cartridges that they analyzed.

Vitamin E oil could be used as a topical or a dietary supplement but vaping it could be very harmful. When it is “inhaled deep in the lung, [it] can cause problems,” Zucker tells NPR.

Vitamin E oil is not an approved additive per the rules and regulations of the New York medical marijuana program, and the cartridges that contained it appeared to be black market products purchased off the street, says Zucker.

Its reported that officials in Oregon say that the man that died of severe pulmonary illness had used a vape product purchased at one of Oregon’s state regulated marijuana stores.

If Oregon officials are going to make a connection of this death to the product he purchased in a legal marijuana store in their report, they had better also try to make a connection to any and everything that could have hindered this man’s lungs in the previous year.

I say that this type of press release is fear mongering and attempt to smear the name of legal cannabis. And that is totally not cool man.

Those that are still worried from the slough of stories that came out this week, my only advice would be to never purchase any marijuana product from anyone that is not a state licensed marijuana store. But c’mon man, especially a vape cart.

NFL’s stance on Cannabis: No

Football season is finally upon us, for all of us die hard fans our time to rejoice is now! Personally, the nostalgia and joy I get from the NFL season, rivals that of a Christmas morning for your average child. Between the fantasy football, the pig skin pick ‘em leagues, or just watching my Hawks battle it out every week, I freaking love the NFL. Some may call that a little bit immature and you know… I’m okay with that.

What I’m NOT okay with is the stance that the NFL has repeatedly taken on the topic of cannabis. Year after year the NFL is forced to take stances on issues that come up in the media’s spotlight.

Whether it’s the league ambivalently taking sides on social issues like what Kaepernick was kneeling during the national anthem for, or the league straight up enforcing penalties on players for actions in their personal lives.

With Kaepernick, teams around the league boycotted him as a player and wouldn’t roster him even though he was good enough and better than many players around the league. They didn’t want him to use the NFL stage as an outlet for the social issues he was advocating.

On account of this being a weed blog I’ll pump the brakes and get back to my element… cannabis. The NFL in the past, has been notorious for enforcing harsher penalties to players that test positive for marijuana, then athletes who have committed violent crimes.

Martellus Bennett, a retired NFL player, recently went on a Bleacher Report podcast and said that he thinks 89 percent of active NFL players smoke weed.

“There are times of the year where your body just hurts so bad,” Bennett said. “You don’t want to be popping pills all the time. There are anti-inflammatory drugs you take so long that they start to eat at your liver, kidneys and things like that. A human made that. God made weed.”

Andrew Brandt, writer for Sports Illustrated had this to say about the NFL and cannabis testing, “It is not a drug test; it is an intelligence test. Players who have not previously tested positive are only tested once a year, and only during a four-month offseason window that begins on April 20 (yes, 4/20, maybe the NFL does have a sense of humor) and ends on August 9.”

Nate Jackson, another retired NFL player, was interviewed on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and said that he thinks 50% of players in the NFL locker room smoke weed. When asked on his personal consumption of cannabis in the NFL, Jackson said, “I weeded as needed.” He then went on to say how viable cannabis has been to him as a medical alternative to painkillers.

I may disagree with the league in the stance they take on various issues but I’m not going to lie, they have a goddamn awesome product and I subscribe to it religiously. But hey at least I stream my gameday bootleg-style on the internet.

Happy first week of football ya’ll, GO HAWKS!!!

WA Marijuana News on the Associated Press

The last couple days an article has been floating around various news stations courtesy of the associated press. The headline reads: 5 years In, Washington Considers Overhaul of Pot Regulation.

In the article they detail certain changes that the Liquor and Cannabis Board have been mulling over.

Potential changes that were touched on included spreading out the regulation of marijuana businesses to other state departments and re-thinking the state’s seed-to-sale tracking program. In my opinion, having the Department of Ecology overseeing the certification of marijuana testing labs would tighten up a lot of the slack and misinformation that slips through the industry from time to time.

I’ve chatted it up with a few different lab technicians about the legitimacy of THC percentages on labels and how they might not be as truthful as the average consumer may believe. One of the guys I chatted with who shall remain nameless put it like this.

He said, “Company’s know that the consumer demand is calling for high THC percentages, they are going to do whatever they can to get the highest THC percentages documented on their labels. A lab technician might be able to falsify a THC percentage by altering the formula used to test the product, i.e. use 8ml of solvent instead of 10ml to get a more concentrated test result.”

Right now, the Liquor and Cannabis Board would have to get a significant complaint in order to investigate the malpractice of any specific testing facility. This has happened in the past and testing facilities have ceased to exist. I think that if the Department of Ecology was tasked with certifying and enforcing these testing facilities there may be less issues with funny numbers on our labels.

I’ve said it before and ill say it again, the biggest misconception of the i-502 industry is that the higher the THC on the label the better the product. Oh and one more… that 32% THC on that eighth you’re buying is probably lying to you.

Enough rambling… back to the Associated Press article… They outlined two very progressive proposed bills for the next session of legislature.

One bill would encourage greater ownership of marijuana businesses by minority, women, or veteran citizens and would offer grants and other technical assistance to businesses that qualify.

Another proposal would allow tier-1 producers to sell directly to medical patients either on-site, by delivery, or through a farmers market style as long as it met the regulations set in place.

Recipe for the Perfect Stoner Movie Night

Every once in a while I like to practice my stoner habits in your classic stereotypical ways, and hey that’s just fine man. With that in mind, one of the go-to low-key activities is kickin’ back, getting nice and stoney, and taking in some cinematic culture. Whether it be a date night with the significant other, the K-9 companion, or even solo-dolo, cannabis and movie consumption for me, goes hand in hand.

The girlfriend and I have our routine down pat on how to approach movie night, varying a little of course whether were staying in or hitting the theater. Lately our recipe for the perfect stoney movie night has been the sum of 1-part infused drink and 1-part doobie or blunt.

If our movie night is destined for the theater, we would most definitely be practicing safe and legal consumption and would never advise against. Our version of safe consumption just might include passing the infused drink back and forth while blazing our pre movie doobie in the parking lot, but hey each to their own.

Ray’s Lemonade come in two dosages 25 and 75 mg of THC and a myriad of different flavors.

The infused marijuana drink must be one of my favorite additions to the marijuana industry since legalization. In my opinion, the infused liquids hit your system much faster than infused edibles or activated concentrates. Whenever I split a 75-100 mg infused drink the high sneaks up on me within 45 minutes of consuming the thing. The infused drink high will last anywhere from one to another two hours after it starts kicking in, making it the perfect addition to any movie night. My favorite infused drinks that we have in stock now and for the foreseeable future are Wild Side by Green Revolution and Ray’s Lemonade by Dogtown Pioneers.

Green Revolution’s Wild Side drink comes in a variety of flavors whether your preference be THC or CBD dominant.

The infused drink takes 45 minutes to kick in?!? Have no worries, that’s what the doobie’s for. Lately my favorite infused pre-roll has actually been that of the blunt persuasion. Sensi Organix’s Blunt Royale line makes wood tipped, hemp wrapped blunts that come in one and two gram varieties.

Blunt Royale comes with oil infused one gram, or full flower two gram options.

Hardest decisions I’ve made in a while was narrowing down my favorite stoner movies to create a little list for ya’ll. One through four were easy, these will probably always be my top four stoner flics, unless somebody super epic from the stoner community makes a cinematic masterpiece, until then, they are set in stone.

Holy smokes though man the number five slot was hard to narrow down. Some titles that just quite didn’t make the cut, but I feel I must list anyway: Harold and Kumar, Cheech and Chong, Jay and Silent Bob, Grandma’s Boy, the almost contender list could go on and on.

But alas, my top five stoner movie list. If you hadn’t seen any of them, go ahead and crawl out from the rock you’ve been under for the last 20 years and thank me later, I just made you plans for the night.

  1. Half baked
  2. Big Lebowski
  3. How High
  4. Pineapple Express
  5. Dazed and Confused

For all the Aphrodisiac Stoners…

Legal, recreational marijuana brings all types of consumers out of the woodworks. I get the pleasure of serving weed to a vast variety of people, some more entertaining than others.

No joke, some days it seems like Dave Chappelle scripted our consumers straight out of his movie, Half-Baked, when he montages all the different types of stoners they sell to. One demographic of consumer that is always fun to sell to is the guy or gal looking to spice it up in the bedroom. We’re going to call them the ‘aphrodisiac stoner,’ if I were to try to fit the Half-Baked ‘different types of stoner’ mold.

We got some fresh drops this week, one strain specifically standing out for that aphrodisiac stoner. Mt. Baker Gardens (M.B.G.) grows a strain called Candyland which may be just the thing for all those individuals looking to get high and hot and heavy. M.B.G. brought us three strains Candyland, Lemon Sorbet Birthday Cake, and Sin Mint Cookies.

An Ounce of M.B.G.’s Candyland retailing for $200, Eighths for $30, Grams for $10

If you’re asking me, the Candyland takes the cake (and the cookies). The look of the Candyland buds are immaculate. Coated in crystals and trichomes, with hints of a beautiful purple and light green variegated throughout the jar, Candyland is a cross between Granddaddy Purple and Platinum Girl Scout Cookies.

Most growers and weed heads alike call Candyland a strong sativa with the classic happy, euphoric, and energetic type of high to go along with the sweet, earthy, and citrus-y flavors and smells. I have heard from many different strain reviews, read ups, and consumer feedback that Granddaddy Purple can be the source of the arousal part of the high. The beauty of M.B.G.’s Candyland is the energetic/happy effect that goes right along with it.

So you heard it first here folks. We got the stuff to get the birds singing and the bees buzzing, just ask for M.B.G.’s Candyland.

PSA: Vaporizer Cartridge Awareness

When shopping for vape carts in Washington’s legal market it’s very easy to get lost in the huge selection that most stores have available to consumers. Once you get to the counter and start talking to the budtenders its even easier to be misled or misinformed about the product that they have available, intentional or not.

In my opinion, if you’re looking for a full spectrum vape cart that is going to have strain specific qualities you are going to be much better off going with a CO2, Ethanol, or the creme de la creme Live Resin or High Terpene Extract (HTE) oils.

CO2 hash oil is created by using carbon dioxide as a solvent. The process is officially called super or sub-critical CO2 extraction. The CO2 is turned into a liquid and ran over top of the marijuana in a closed loop extraction process which strips the THC, CBD, other cannabinoids, and other essential terpenes and oils from the raw plant. After extreme pressures and temperatures you are left with a hash oil that has the full spectrum qualities to tailor to each individuals. CO2 oil is the safest and cleanest way to make marijuana concentrates.

Leaf Werx carries CO2 vape carts compatible with magnetic, 510 threaded, and PAX Era batteries

Ethanol extraction is similar to CO2 in the sense of the full spectrum oil that is returned after the extraction process. Ethanol is even more effective at extracting a full spectrum product in the fact that it can dissolve both polar (water loving) and non-polar (water fearing) substances. In laymen’s terms, ethanol extraction is extracting more cannabinoids, terpenes, and oils out of the marijuana.

RSO+GO is a great example of an ethanol extracted vape cart that can be found on our shelves.

Live resins and HTE oils are becoming some of my favorite options when it comes to what is available for vaporizer cartridges. Processors are using hydrocarbons to extract high percentages of terpenes and other cannabinoids. The majority of concentrates in the dabable world are made from hydrocarbons, processors are mixing these live resins and HTE’s with distillate to make them compatible to be smoked in cartridge form. Basically, these distillate and cannabis derived terpene mixes are making the gems and juice or diamonds and sauce of the cartridge world. A vape cart that finally tastes like your’e taking a low-temp fresh dab.

Acme Diesel’s HTE and Avita’s Live Resin are the creme de la creme of vape carts in our store when considering the 510 threaded battery type

As a retail industry worker, specifically when talking about vaporizer cartridges, I witness lots of sales representatives come through and try to upsell their product or exaggerate the benefits of their products. Look I get it, their sales representatives, their job is sales. I’m a budtender, my job is also sales.

It’s our job to inform you what you’re purchasing and at the House of Cannabis we pride ourselves in doing that in the most honest way possible. With that in mind, gather around, if you don’t take harsh news well, maybe you should grab a seat…

Your 95% THC distillate vape cart that you paid $40 a gram for is, in my opinion, the worst cartridge on the wall. Not because it tastes bad. Or because it won’t get you “high.” Distillate tastes delicious, for what it is. It gets you plenty high, if you’re looking for a pure THC, spectrum-less high.

My bone-to-pick with distillate revolves around the misconceptions of the industry that companies easily exploit, and it happens with many distillate vape cart companies. A lot of these products have artificial terpenes added or fruit derived terpenes when claiming to be a specific strain. If the terpenes are not cannabis derived then they are not going to carry those special qualities that give the specific effect or high that the strain is claiming to be, they will simply taste like it, with a very spectrum lacking, pure THC high.

Every Tuesday at Tacoma House of Cannabis we run a sale on our vape cartridges, that’s every Tuesday, all day long. So, since it is Tuesday, lets freaking do it, let your hair down and treat yourself a little bit. Go ahead and ask one of our budtenders to show you one of those super dope Live Resin or HTE cartridges, you can thank us later.

My Stoner Parents; Their Honest Approach.

I grew up in a conservative Missouri. My parents were what you would call Midwest hippies. They, and their close group of friends, graduated from high school in the early 1970s, and they certainly did their best to let their freak flags fly. However, it was 1980s Missouri by the time I have a recollection. By then, the stresses of life, jobs, children, and the day to day grind had begun to sink in, I think. Not so idealistically, they pushed forward in their lives, taking some of the carefree freedoms of their youth forward to relive those stressors (cannabis, alcohol, sex, et al). Still, they had to be careful as the draconian drug laws were locking up individuals over personal drug crime, left and right.

Online ordering - Click this image
Click here for online ordering!

I always knew my parents were different. We had a “darkroom” in our basement which was a familiar term to me, as my mother owned her own out-of-the-house photography business. Other kids had a laundry room, playroom, or root cellar. My parents had a rolling tray that I thought resembled a Chinese checkers board (more on the naming of that game, here (it is neither Chinese, nor Checkers. Spoiler alert, America – You were marketed to.), which had hundreds of seeds on it. Other kids had a Chinese Checkers board. My parents asked me to keep kids out of our house when I was in middle school and a teenager, even on hot days in the Kansas City sun. “Bring them iced tea in the driveway,” they said. Other kids had a Nintendo or SEGA and Air Conditioning for their friends.

I knew my parents smoked weed. I also knew that my mom and dad, who rarely drank and even more rarely drank to the “drunk” state, weren’t as violent, fucked up, or “out of it” as the career drinkers some of my friends’ parents were. I knew they smoked weed before I was accidently almost passed a joint by my mom around a campfire, after I sniped a chair that a friend of hers had left open while her attention was diverted to another friend, in the opposite direction. I was aware that there must have been something special about that plant that my mom hacked down near a county highway and threw in the trunk in late summer. Sometimes I could smell that familiar-since-whenever compressed Mexican brick weed on their breath.

At some point (probably of my mother’s choosing), natural conversation started to take place about the substances that adults sometimes used, even if they were against the rules, and what was safe and what wasn’t. She did insist that they were for adults, if at all to be used. She insulated me; made me feel safe by telling me that if I had any questions about any of it, she would be happy to impart what she knew, and help me research what she didn’t, so that I could make an educated decision. She had honest, heartfelt conversation with me about adult choices. She made herself available. She told me she wouldn’t be upset. Throughout my life, I have found this to be true.

There were a lot of things I wasn’t interested in consuming as a teen, alcohol included, but cannabis WAS on the list. I smoked some in the backseat of a 1969 AMC Rambler in Olathe, Kansas, when I was 15, but I didn’t get high (for the record, I absolutely discourage teenage cannabis consumption). I didn’t see much weed in the possession of my friends in my neighborhood of Kansas City, MO, though. Then I moved to Mercer Island, Washington in November of 1993. Not only is the island affluent, but it’s also just a stone’s throw from the U and Capitol Hill (both artist and young-person havens in the timeframe). Drugs do flow onto the island. In March of 1994, a young lady named Michelle, who was a Senior, got me high. She cut assembly on a Tuesday between 3rd and 4th period with me, drove to a scenic island spot in her Honda Accord, and smoked some Seattle chronic with me. I got absolutely wrecked. Nearly non-functionally wrecked. I made it back to school for 4th period, Physics II. A female mid-50s instructor who certainly had been through college a few times in the 60s and 70s was my instructor. She knew I wasn’t my usual perky self and delivered most of her lecture that period from beside my desk. I was feeling a little more real by the end of the period, but she still stopped me as class was dismissed and let me know that she thought I could make better choices during my school day, but that her door was open if I needed to discuss what had happened with no strings attached. Did I mention she is one of my personal favorite teachers? She wasn’t my parent, but she sure functioned as one, here.

It was some time before I smoked pot with a parent. I was home in Seattle from attending college in Missouri in May of 1996, and I had just visited the University Smoke Shop on University Way NE, just N of NE 45th Street in Seattle and bought my first glass bong. I used it with some friends on Mercer Island but returned to my mom’s place where I was staying during my stay. The package is unmistakable. She wanted to smoke some herb. She wasn’t an all-day, every-day sort of girl at this point, so we both got high AF, and ended up coloring pictures for her dad’s refrigerator (he lived in Texas).  This was the first time we smoked weed together. It was the first time she had hit a bong in years. It was a good, slightly unnerving time that has grown very commonplace and natural over the years.

My approach to substances has been moderated by my parents’ openness to discuss them. When those walls are down and the path is paved, you can have real conversations with your loved ones. This applies to not only drugs, but sex, family history, medical issues, and a host of other topics. With open borders between loved ones and friends come honesty and compassion for the struggles of real life. That, in itself, is a natural coping mechanism that circumvents the need and allure for those more dangerous substances.

Cultivar, Chemovar: What’s the point?

So probably at least once or twice every day one of our customers says to me in the most Dazed and Confused-esque way. . . “Man . . . you got like the dream job man… Do you like get to test all these strains?” to which I reply in my most Half Baked-esque way, “Hell yea dude! And you best believe it my man! And the proper term is cultivar.” Okay, I may leave out the latter in my best attempt to not sound like a douche-bag, much to my boss’ dismay.

It had to have been about three to four weeks ago my boss was super excited to geek out on the latest terminology he heard from a key speaker at the Terpestival. The words “cultivar” and “chemovar” are more informative synonyms to words I classically knew as cannabinoid/terpene profile and strain.

So, long story short, he informed us about this new terminology to help classify marijuana correctly for lab technicians and growers and everyone in-between. Nicholas Demski, a writer for terpenesandtesting.com, gives a clear and concise description of the differences between the term cultivar and chemovar.

A cultivar is what a grower might cultivate, a variety of a plant created or selected and maintained though cultivation, For cannabis; Sour Diesel, GG#4, and OG Kush are all examples of different cultivars, so yeah its means the same thing as the term potheads have used for decades, strain.

A chemovar is the term used when considering cannabis from a more scientific approach. By observing the terpene profile, cannabinoid presence, and other elements of the whole plant that are not inert, labs are able to identify different chemovars within the cannabis plant.

Demski paraphrases Dr. Ethan B. Russo in saying scientists don’t have the luxury of using generic names for plants that vary so wildly in their appearance yet have strikingly similar compound structures. Russo says that cultivars are eminently malleable, and are as simple to alter as writing a new label. Chemovars is needed for precise dosing and consumers looking to replicate an exact effect. Lab technicians need to isolate these measurable chemical markers found in cannabis to help classify the industry and differentiate between plant chemistries, and the physiological effects the plants will trigger.

Before I give you my opinion on this spicy new terminology, I highly suggest reading a piece by Dominic Corva, titled ‘The Chemovar and the Cultivar.” Corva does a beautiful job explaining the differences between some of these newer terminologies and how they relate to older ones we might be using wrongly.

So back to my opinion piece . . . I am 100% for the unifying of cannabis culture and mass informing of any thing that has to do with a positive effect in the industry, especially when talked about by significant industry players like Dr. Ethan Russo, and Dominic Corva. But holy shit, most consumers aren’t ready to hear these pretentious sounding words describing weed.