The Stakes Are High
What are some of the hidden (and not so hidden) dangers involved with cannabis in 2021? Before I go any further it’s important for me to establish that I maintain a pro-cannabis stance and recognize the positive impacts of the plant. This is a pro-cannabis essay. I took a look into some of the risks related to what many like myself consider a beloved and beneficial, medicinal plant.
Table of Contents
Some of my findings may stir up feelings of alarm and perhaps despair. On the contrary, this article is intended to empower and provide context to our world as it continues to shift incrementally. I believe properly informed people are better equipped to make prudent and informed decisions.
In spite of newer recreational and medical programs in some US states and some countries abroad, cannabis use can still be associated with a variety of legal and health risks. For starters cannabis is still classified as a schedule 1 substance under US federal law. This means that federal law enforcement can arrest and prosecute anyone who is in violation of federal cannabis laws.
Jurisdictions that have introduced recreational and medical programs aren’t necessarily safer for cannabis consumers. In recent years legal cannabis has created an economic boon. This ganja gold rush has opened doors to the proliferation of criminal practices within this developing economy. Not all cannabis is cultivated and sold by conscientious people. We are in the midst of several public health crises, among them is the continuous and growing fentanyl crisis. Most cannabis consumers may not factor in the potential for their marijuana to be contaminated with fentanyl or another dangerous contaminant. There have been recent accounts of fentanyl making its way into the legal and illicit cannabis markets. Many will consider fentanyl a problem solely for people who use substances like cocaine and heroin.
The Golden State and the Sunshine State
It’s easy to take pro-cannabis policy for granted when residing in a state with recreational cannabis. One can easily forget, ignore or misinterpret the challenges people face when attempting to procure our beloved herb. There’s a strong likelihood that you have experienced similar mishaps and misadventures as what I’ve shared on this platform previously.
Recreational cannabis in places like California and Colorado are a deviation from a vast portion of the world. Life in Los Angeles has afforded me the opportunity to be a more informed and educated cannabis consumer, perhaps even a connoisseur.
My personal preferences lean towards naturally sun grown sativas with a THC content between 20-25%. Jack Herer, Sour Diesel, Lambsbread and Acapulco Gold are amongst my favorite strains. I choose these strains because they are cerebral, uplifting and energizing. They do not obstruct my concentration and my ability to perform the various tasks I need to as a busy entrepreneur. I also enjoy a variety of Indica strains but I typically reserve those for moments when I’m prepared to rest and seeking deep relaxation. Bubba Kush, Northern Lights and Purple Punch are amongst the indica strains I’ve really enjoyed, in case you were wondering. Life in California has increased my knowledge of reputable brands selling quality products.
A recent trip from California to Florida reminded me of the risks and inconveniences associated with being a cannabis consumer domestically and abroad. Florida offered me a bit of respite from a busy lifestyle in LA. I genuinely enjoyed what the Sunshine State had to offer in terms of my extended family, weather, and change of pace. As for cannabis, I had to put my consumption on hold for a few reasons.
Cannabis is still considered a criminal substance in the state. Florida currently offers a legal medical cannabis program but I didn’t bother to investigate the process or attempt to get one during my brief stay. I also knew it was a bad idea to ask friends or family if they had any local herb connections. For years I’ve heard terrible stories of the synthetic marijuana crisis in Florida. With these factors I chose to move cautiously and conservatively as I deemed the potential health and legal risks unjustifiable.
As I traveled the state, most of the time when I caught the scent of marijuana in the air it carried an odor that I found unpleasant and different from the aromas I’m more familiar with. Now I’m not attempting to make a blanket statement about cannabis in the entire state. I’m just simply reporting my findings as an outsider on a short visit.
The streets of Los Angeles offer a generous amount of cannabis dispensaries. All of these shops are positioned to capitalize from the various social and financial classes that exist in the city. Affluent communities tend to feature dispensaries that look more like The Apple Store or other kinds of modern stylish boutiques.
Throughout California, in working class sections you’ll find an assortment of shops that feel like old and neglected convenience stores. Many of these shops I describe have sold products that do more harm to their communities than help. While cannabis is legal in California there are always reports of unscrupulous business owners and managers who sell harmful products to the public.
It behooves the consumer to be well educated and to approach cannabis products with a level of scrutiny. One should take time to research the various brands and products they may be interested in.
International Dangers – Dubai, UAE
Throughout the world, there are countless laws and policies on the books which seek to severely punish people for cannabis use, possession and distribution. I wasn’t keen on matters pertaining to cannabis in the Middle East. That changed with a unique job opportunity that came my way.
Along with being a writer and artist, I am known to many as a plant-based chef. A few years ago I was presented with an opportunity to potentially work and live in Dubai. I was genuinely enthusiastic about such an opportunity coming my way! A member of one of the royal families in the United Arab Emirates was interested in hiring me as a private chef! Social media perpetuates this image of Dubai being one of the sexiest jet-setting destinations in the world! The Dubai I envisioned was this exciting and futuristic Middle Eastern metropolis where the wealthy hang out and where a variety of beautiful Instagram models pose for endless amounts of picturesque selfies.
Ultimately the culinary opportunity failed to coalesce. But during my talks and negotiations with representatives for the client I started to collect information and do some online research on what daily life was like in this part of the world.
I knew very little about daily life in the UAE. And up to this very moment I’ve yet to travel to any Middle Eastern destinations. I talked to friends, family and associates about what they knew about life in Dubai. Those who were familiar with the country told me about several pros and cons mostly in relation to being a foreigner. But I was specifically warned of the potential dangers involving foreigners and cannabis.
Dubai is one of those places where I would advise an avid cannabis enthusiast to either forgo completely or use extreme levels of caution while visiting. Cannabis use and possession is severely criminalized. A few years ago I learned about an incident that occurred with DJ Benhameen. DJ Benhameen was the resident DJ on the ground breaking Hip-Hop podcast The Combat Jack Show. In recent years there have been an assortment of stories of artists, DJ and other foreign travelers who had to bear the brunt of the UAE’s harsh cannabis policies.
Hashish from cannabis is apparently popular in the Middle East yet many nations such as The UAE and Jordan uphold strict criminal policy for possession , consumption and distribution. Israel and Turkey however are two Middle Eastern nations have started to make a shift towards policy that is more reflective of the present economic and social landscape.
CBD and China
I plan on continuing this series in the coming months here on Flavor Fix. My hope is that this information will be useful for travelers and other readers. Before I conclude this installment I’d like to put a brief spotlight on China and it’s cannabis policies.
It’s important to note that cannabis has a rich history in China. But much like Dubai cannabis is connected to some harsh legal penalties for citizens and visitors alike. Ironically, China is positioning itself to become one of the world’s predominant cultivators of cannabis. CBD from industrial cannabis plants is driving this shift as farmers who traditionally grew a variety of unrelated crops are now flocking to cannabis.
Will industry in places like China ultimately bring an end to archaic prohibition globally? Commerce can be the catalyst in societal change. While some may disagree, access to medicinal and recreational cannabis are human rights. It is with great hope that we will one day see a world that shares in this sentiment. Until then let us continue to examine these unjust policies around the world and stand in solidarity with those attempting to change things for the betterment of mankind.