Tag Archives: POT

Americans Don’t Care If Their Parents Know They Smoke Weed, Survey Says

While we already know that more Americans are growing comfortable with the idea of legalizing weed, a new poll from Yahoo News and Marist suggests that smoking weed is no longer a taboo subject between parents and their adult children.

The poll—which surveyed 1,122 Americans over the age of 18 about a multitude of weed-related issues—found that 60 percent of parents who smoke a few times a year said their adult children know about it, Yahoo reports. Additionally, 72 percent of adult children who smoke weed said their parents know they do it. 

On top of that, a whopping 47 percent of parents (whose kids know about their weed use) said they've smoked weed in front of or with their adult kids. Roughly a quarter of adults say they've smoked pot with or in front of their parents. Furthermore, 52 percent of people who have smoked weed say they're more concerned about their kids smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, having sex, or cheating on a test than them getting stoned. 

The study offers more insight into the way adults—across various generations—view marijuana use now that it's become more mainstream and legal recreationally in eight states and Washington, DC. Still, while 83 percent of the survey's respondents said they believed weed should be available for medical use, only 49 percent believe it should be legal for recreational toking.

Last week, Canada unveiled its plan to legalize pot nationwide, which, if passed, would make it the second country to do so. While it's not clear how parents and adult children in that country feel about the reality of legal weed, teenage potheads will likely think marijuana is cool, no matter what.

How to Make Weed-Infused Trail Mix

Getting high on a hike just got so much easier. With a handful of weed, a few mason jars, and a little coconut oil, Abdullah Saeed serves up a step-by-step guide to making cannabis-infused trail mix.

Graphic Attributions:

Mountains
By Courtney Nicholas

Coconut
By Sarah Tan

Water Drop
By Olivier Guin, FR

Plus Sign
By Giovanni Pompetti

Marijuana [This graphic has been modified]
By Kemesh Maharjan, NP

Nuts [This graphic has been modified]
By Thomas Knopp, CZ

Soy Nuts [This graphic has been modified]
By Thomas Knopp, CZ

Sunflower Seeds [This graphic has been modified]
By Thomas Knopp, CZ

Blueberry [This graphic has been modified]
By Nada AlYafaei, AE

Question Marks
By Giovanni Pompetti

Bowl
By Iulia Ardeleanu, RO

Man [This graphic has been modified]
By Marie Van den Broeck, BE

Various Numbers
By Giovanni Pompetti

Marijuana
By Ezra Keddel, NZ

Marijuana [This graphic has been modified]
By Pete Baker, DE

Question Marks
By Giovanni Pompetti

Arrows Pointing at Tricombs
By Courtney Nicholas

Blanket [This graphic has been modified]
By Lynn Chang

Arrow
By Xinh Studio

Zoom Out [This graphic has been modified]
By icon 54

Bag [This graphic has been modified]
By Linseed Studio

Change [This graphic has been modified]
By Jorge Mateo, ES

How the IRS Screws Legal Weed Businesses

As the co-founder of Greatland Ganja, a cannabis growing operation in Alaska, Leif Abel has discovered that settling up with the state government that licenses his cultivation is a Kafkaesque mindfuck. This is because the Fed's prohibition on weed makes it pretty much impossible for pot businesses to open a bank account.

This inability to access the traditional banking system means Abel has to pay his taxes in cash. He could have crossed his fingers and put thousands of dollars of hard currency in the mail and hoped for the best. But he "doesn't like the thought of that." So he took a seven hour road trip from the remote Kenai Peninsula, where he cultivates his plants, all the way to Anchorage, the only place in Alaska where you can make cash tax payments

Once in Achorage, he couldn't just hand those stacks of cash over to the tax man and bounce back to Kenai. He had to go to a special Department of Revenue deposit site, get the keys to open a drop safe, package his money inside a tamper resistant bag, put the bag in a special tray, and then lock it up. He did all of this without any human interaction. Surveillance cameras captured each step, including when the bag was later opened by state employees tasked with counting the cash.

The whole process is a security risk, an accounting nightmare, a logistical hassle, a waste of time and resources, and a slap in the face to a guy who is doing everything in his power to pay his fair share and follow the law. Not that Abel's complaining.

"I'm a second generation cannabis cultivator in Alaska, this is what fed my family when I was a kid," he told me. "So when you consider that as a child I experienced helicopter raids of our home and had automatic weapons stuck in my face because my father wanted to use cannabis as a medicine, this is all a huge step in the right direction. My kid won't have to go through that."

WATCH: How to Make a Pickle Pipe

Unfortunately, there's a much bigger problem when it comes time to pay the IRS. One that, if not corrected, could bring down much of the industry without a single arrest. Again, federal law doesn't recognize state law regarding legal cannabis. So while the IRS expects payment in full from cannabis growers and dispensaries, a special tax code that was originally passed in the 1980s to combat drug traffickers prevents small business owners like Abel from taking basic business deductions that would be available to any other legally operating company—stuff like rent and labor.

"From my perspective, it's not fair," Abel said. "We're being asked to pay taxes and follow all kinds of regulations—like getting our cannabis lab tested—all of which I agree with 100 percent. But if we're going to be held to those standards, we should get the same protections under the law as any other business."

Steve DeAngelo, CEO of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California—one of the nation's largest medical cannabis dispensaries—not surprisingly agrees. DeAngelo took the IRS to court last summer. The dispute goes all the way back to 2010, when federal tax assessors slapped Harborside with a $2.4 million bill after an audit. The feds disallowed deductions they claimed were not permitted due to Section 280e of the tax code:

No deduction or credit shall be allowed for any amount paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business if such trade or business (or the activities which comprise such trade or business) consists of trafficking in controlled substances (within the meaning of schedule I and II of the Controlled Substances Act) which is prohibited by Federal law or the law of any State in which such trade or business is conducted.

On top of this multimillion dollar bill for back taxes, the IRS also sought access to financial records for a large chunk of Harborside's existence. DeAngelo believes this move could put the dispensary on the hook for more than $15 million if 280e is applied to those years. So he launched his legal case, which challenges the application of 280e to Harborside based on language in the tax code specifying that it applies to businesses whose trade "consists" of drug trafficking.

"Would it be accurate to say the city of New York consists of the borough of Manhattan?" DeAngelo asked me. "No, but it would be accurate to say the City of New York includes the borough of Manhattan. By the same token it would be inaccurate to say the activities of Harborside Health Center consist of the exchange of cannabis for money, because we do many, many, many other things. We provide more than a dozen varieties of holistic health care—yoga, reiki, acupuncture, neuropathy, chiropractic, etc—and we sell books, clothing, and a wide range of other fully legal items. We also spend money on, and derive revenue from brand building activities, and there's nothing about brand building that fits the definition of drug trafficking in the Controlled Substances Act."

To drive home the point about the word consists, Henry Wykowski, Harborside's lead counsel in tax court, actually brought a linguist to oral arguments in the case. A former assistant US attorney who specialized in complicated tax prosecutions, Wykowski is now the cannabis industry's go-to lawyer for dealing with the IRS. He said the intention of 280e was clearly not to target dispensaries, because it was enacted nearly 15 years before California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana.

The 280e code was first sponsored in Congress by Representative Pete Stark at the height of the Reagan-era Drug War, after a coke and meth dealer in Minneapolis successfully argued that the IRS, when determining his taxes, must allow deductions for his reasonable expenses in running an admittedly illegal business. Stark has since denounced applying 280e to state-legal cannabis businesses, telling Congress in 2011 that the practice "undercuts legal medical marijuana dispensaries by preventing them from taking the full range of deductions allowed for other small businesses… [and] punishes the thousands of patients who rely on them for safe, legal, reliable access to medical marijuana as recommended by a doctor."

WATCH: Smoking Weed with the President of Uruguay

Despite being a former federal prosecutor, Wykowski, meanwhile sees his support of Harborside as part of a larger, personal fight.

"I've always been a fan of cannabis. It's been very beneficial in helping me figure a lot of things out, and so I've always been a strong proponent," he told me when I asked why he puts his tax expertise to work defending the weed industry. "The IRS for whatever reason seems to be anti-cannabis. They could have agreed long ago that 280e was not meant to apply to medical cannabis in states that had legalized it, but instead they told us to get Congress to change the law. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to get a regulation changed that affects only one industry, particularly when that regulation generates added income for the government."

Wykowski notes that the IRS also refuses to set clear guidelines for the cannabis industry to follow when filing, leaving some businesses to pay crippling tax rates of 70 to 90 percent, according to industry experts. Typical businesses pay approximately 30 percent.

"What that has lead to is a lot of confusion," he said, "since it's hard to advise clients of what is and isn't appropriate."

A potentially precedent-setting decision in the Harborside case could still be months away, and so the cannabis industry faces the upcoming April 18 federal tax filing deadline under a cloud of uncertainty—even as the new Trump administration has sent some worrying signals that there may be increased law enforcement scrutiny on the horizon, or even an attempt to roll back state laws.

Derek Davis, an accountant with California Cannabis CPA, describes a classic Catch 22 scenario.

"You're kind of stuck, because if you don't pay, you're evading taxes, which is a criminal offense. But if you do pay your taxes and you are compliant, then it gets a little grey in regards to the fact that you're in essence committing a federal crime," Davis said. He always advises clients to keep meticulous records and fully report their financials, because "if the IRS decides to crack down, why would they go after those following the rules and paying taxes?"

On March 30, the Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2017, which would allow state-legal cannabis businesses to take normal business deductions, was introduced in the House by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). But while support for federal reform of 280e and cannabis banking access has grown significantly in the last few months—including the birth of the first "cannabis caucus" in Congress—the journey to creating meaningful change through the legislative branch is still an uphill battle.

In the meantime, Kris Krane, the founder and president of leading cannabis consulting firm 4Front Ventures, advises clients to put aside 15 percent of all sales in a rainy day fund to hedge against audits.

"We advise folks in the industry that this is a long term play," Krane said. "Don't be worried about short term profits, be worried about operating the right way and eventually things will open up and cannabis will be treated like a regular business. And when that happens, you'll be really well positioned."

David Bienenstock is the author of How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High, and a frequent VICE contributor. Follow him on Twitter.

I Went to a Painting Class for Stoners

Not to break too huge a story or anything, but artists occasionally do drugs to tap into their creative sides. Whether slamming 100 bags of heroin a day to manifest abstract masterpieces like Jean-Michel Basquiat or simply getting drunk to help yourself shit out an endless stream of soulless kitsch like Thomas Kinkade, artists from across the spectrum have been turning to mind-altering substances to aid in their work since the first cave painter chomped down sun-fermented fruit. 

Unfortunately, the time, resources, and encouragement to explore creativity are luxuries far too few of us get to enjoy. With the National Endowment of the Arts fully defunded under Trump's budget proposal and already underfunded school districts dropping arts programs left and right, America's relationship with art is about to be more strained than ever. 

One company, Cannabis Tours, is offering a class called Puff, Pass, and Paint that uses the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in a number of states as a springboard to help average adults in those areas harness their unexplored creative talents. Cannabis Tours also offers similar classes that combine weed with a variety of other relaxing hobbies like cooking, pottery, and knitting. I went to a recent Puff, Pass, and Paint session in Las Vegas to see where the Pollocks and Warhols of tomorrow might first discover their talents.  

As state governments are still more persnickety about cannabis than they are with booze, my class was not held in a strip mall retail space like those wine and painting classes PP&P is clearly drawing from. Instead, we puffed, passed, and painted in a house the company had rented in a south Vegas suburb. Ironically enough, the red tape still surrounding cannabis has pushed it into family neighborhoods, at least for the sake of my class. 

All photos by author/pre-masterpiece

Inside, host and PP&P co-founder, Heidi Keyes, sorted me out with some wine and a bowl of Blue Dream, a hybrid strain meant to facilitate "gentle cerebral invigoration." Keyes seated me at my station amid a table of fellow PP&P first timers and a guy who was already back for his fourth class, using his newfound love of painting as a way to stay away from alcohol. I was given a paper plate full of bright acrylic dollops, three brushes varying in size, and a blank canvas on which to paint my masterpiece.

Cassini's example paintings

While PP&P had told me beforehand that it couldn't guarantee pot would be available to all attendees and encouraged students to bring their own stuff, I showed up empty handed and was still offered bowls, joints, and blunts from both the hosts and my classmates.

Once everyone had settled in and was starting to feel their high, Mike Cassini, our painting instructor, revealed the example we'd be emulating: rolling hills of mushrooms. Cassini gave relatively barebones instructions, mostly keeping people on pace to complete their painting within the two hours allotted for class rather than offering brush stroke pointers.

We dove in on the background sky and, immediately, a variety of styles began to emerge on the class's canvases. Keyes walked around the room offering the ever-positive and nurturing encouragement of a kindergarten teacher to each station she popped by. "Hey, I love those brush strokes! Wow, I really like how you went darker up there! What a great idea to add a sun up there!"

Most of my table didn't feel comfortable being interviewed or photographed for this article due to the stigma still surrounding cannabis, but the couple to my right, Brandon and Ryan, visiting from Detroit and Inglewood respectively, had no qualms about opening up. "Bae came to me talking 'bout, 'We're gonna go smoke and paint,' so here I am smoking and painting," Brandon told me when I asked how he wound up in the class. He later revealed that this was his first time ever putting paint on canvas, and it's not likely something he would have ever tried without enrolling in the class. 

As class progressed, the uniqueness of each painting became more and more defined. Inhibition was discouraged by the hosts, and students were told to just go with their guts, resulting in some getting mega abstract and others abandoning the mushroom suggestion entirely in lieu of humans or tigers.

While Brandon and I chatted about the semiotics of our respective pieces of art, chef Kristal Chamblee emerged from the house's kitchen to inform the class that a medley of cookies, brownies, and other baked goods were available in the next room. At the end of our chat, we went to the kitchen only to find the baked goods spread had been picked clean by our classmates. I spun the disappointing news by informing him that since we'd officially starved for the sake of our works, we were truly artists.

Brandon and Ryan and their paintings

The class ended with everyone shuffling around to stonily laud one another's work and clean up. As I cleaned up and hunted down the last remaining cookie, I asked Keyes about how her classes might help in a future where art is under attack.

She told me that she finds the proposed NEA defunding "extremely alarming" as she believes in "the calming power of art, both as an activity and in adding to the beauty of our existence."

Beyond their goal of destigmatizing cannabis, Keyes hopes that every painter from her classes "walks away feeling relaxed and inspired, having laughed and smoked and made new friends, even if they didn't create a painting they deem a masterpiece." She noted that "Puff, Pass, & Paint isn't about making a perfect piece of art, it's about the experience of being able to legally consume cannabis while tapping into one's creative side."

More art

I had fun getting high and painting, and it seems that the rest of my class did as well. For those who've never taken a stab at art and are maybe too perfectionist to allow themselves the freedom to play around in an unfamiliar medium, a cannabis painting class might be just what the doctor ordered to remove some of those inhibitions. As great as the experience provided by Keyes and Cassini was, I just hope it's not the only training America's future great artists will be afforded.

Follow Justin Caffier on Twitter.

Check Out the Trailer for the Next Season of ‘WEEDIQUETTE’

In April, VICELAND will return with an all new season of Weediquette, our show that investigates the world's pot paradigm. On the upcoming third season, host Krishna Andavolu delves into the war on drugs and the consequences that pot legislation has on American families.

With full marijuana legalization no longer a bygone conclusion, Krishna chronicles the thriving, ever-changing landscape of cannabis in the US—embedding with smugglers, doctors, immigrants, and cops as they shape the future of American weed.

WEEDIQUETTE returns April 19 on VICELAND.

Some Generous Stoner Left a Bunch of Weed to Goodwill in a Donated Cooler

The police in Monroe, Washington, are currently trying to figure out who anonymously donated a cooler to the local Goodwill—not to give that person a tax receipt for their very heartfelt donation—but to find out why there was $24,000 worth of weed inside of it.

On Tuesday, the Monroe PD posted a photo of said cooler on Twitter, with a very jolly-looking police officer standing above it, revealing almost five bags of pot stashed inside.

Although marijuana sales in Washington State are legal for both medical and recreational use, it's only lawful to have an ounce or less for personal use. Anything more than 40 grams is a felony that can carry a five-year jail sentence and a $10,000 fine.

According to a local FOX affiliate, the police are checking the charity store's security cameras to see if they can identify the very forgetful stoner who left roughly four pounds of weed in an otherwise unassuming cooler. Or perhaps the culprit was actually just Johnny Marijuana Seed making a charitable donation, spreading the word and spreading the seeds.

How Not to Treat Weed Dealers, According to Weed Dealers

Close to half of all Americans have tried marijuana, and as more accepting attitudes prevail and social mores loosen, the number is growing steadily. For the curious languishing in places where medical or recreational marijuana is still illegal, that means interacting with a weed dealer, which can be a bit awkward, especially before something resembling rapport is established. That need not be the case. Because weed dealers—are you sitting?—are just like any retailer. They want to sell you a product and move on with their day. No fuckery. No weirdness. In. Out. Bing, bang, boom. 

We talked to a few Chicago-area weed dealers about their customer pet peeves and the dos and don'ts of buying pot on the DL.

No

I really hate when people try to bargain. It costs what it costs. If you can't afford it, don't buy it. Cash only. There are a surprising number of people who try to pay me in change. If you have to pull out dimes and quarters to pay me, maybe you shouldn't be buying weed!

It's not like I don't give deals. I hook up my friends, of course, and I give deals for bulk shopping just like Costco. Some people assume they can get customer loyalty discounts after they've bought a certain amount from me. And while I'll definitely do that, it's gotta be on my terms. Don't ask me about it; let me bring it up to you when I decide you've earned it. You don't go to a restaurant and demand to get something for free just because you've been there multiple times. If they have a loyalty program, they'll let you know, and they'll hook you up if they want you to come back.

When it comes to communication, I'm more about clarity than discretion. The way I look at it, this shit is getting legal pretty quickly, and I don't deal in huge quantities. I'd say my customers are more paranoid than I am. Some of them come up with their own code words for shit, and I don't know what the hell they're talking about. People will call an ounce an onion, like "Yo, can I get an onion?" What the fuck is an onion, bro? Just tell me what you want, and I'll hook you up!

Other than that, don't linger after I sell you a sack. I like to have friendly conversation, but let's cap it at two minutes. I'm also not going to smoke you up unless you're my friend, so don't hang out hoping I'm going to offer you free weed after I just sold some to you. Go smoke your own shit. - Sam*, 29

Nope

Our service has a lot of rules, and it is based entirely on referrals, which are tightly guarded. Basically, you'll need three people who are already in to vouch for you, and we freeze referrals often due to security issues. If you're lucky enough to become a member, follow the first rule of fight club: Don't fucking talk about fight club. Don't post about us on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or any social media sites. Don't give any of our numbers to your friends. You will be blacklisted.

In the same vein, we have your number/address in our database. Don't order from your friend's house, or you will be blacklisted. You'll also be blacklisted for ordering to your address while you're having a party. Don't be dumb.

And don't try and play us on payment. We have three levels of quality, order the lowest if that's all you can afford. Occasionally we'll give you a break on the better stuff if you order the basics and we're out by the time we get to you, but that's rare. Don't try to game the system, or you'll have to go back to asking friends of friends if they know where to get weed. - Josh*, 28

Illustration by Brandon Celi

Don't

As a female dealer, people assume I'm more vulnerable, but honestly, the college dudes I sell to really don't scare me. The biggest issues I've had have actually been with women getting really obsessed with me. Seriously! I had this one girl who wanted so desperately to be my friend that she would buy tons of weed from me and also bring me cute vintage jewelry. She was really sweet but got annoying after a while. If I'm not giving off friendship vibes, don't push it.

Speaking of—people ask if they can pick up and pay later so often, it's mind boggling. I never let them do it, unless they're a close friend. They'll keep adding to their "tab" and think they can do it going forward. I know they'll take advantage of me if I let it slide.

Don't call me at weird hours. I sleep at night just like everyone else, and I don't appreciate getting woken up by four missed calls and 16 desperate texts. I've cut people off for doing this. Also, don't constantly check in with me. Sometimes I run out and can't pick up for a few days. If I tell you on Friday that I'm out until Monday night, texting me on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning isn't going to change anything. If I'd picked up, I would have told you. 

Depending on the drug, I probably do know where to go to get it, but I don't refer customers to my hard drug dealers unless they're my friends and we're going to party together. I don't want to be involved in selling anything other than weed.  

Lastly, don't ask me if I've laced my weed with something else. That's offensive. It's probably because I sell to younger kids, but a lot of people accuse me of putting stuff in my weed because it gets them so high. It's just good weed! I'm not sprinkling it with heroin, you're a lightweight. - Lilly*, 21

Do Not

I prefer to be contacted during normal business hours, on both weekends and weekdays. This is my only job at the moment, but I have a life outside of work. You wouldn't want your boss or your clients calling you in the middle of the night on a Tuesday, so don't expect me to pick up when you do that.

Don't ask me if you can pay me with Venmo. You can't. Cash or nothing. Definitely don't place a big order from me and then spring the "Oh, can I pay you in Venmo?" shit on me when I get there. It's a waste of my time, and I'm not going to do you any favors in the future.

Finally, be patient. Drug dealer time is real! I know I have all the power in our transaction. I might say I'll be there in 20 minutes, but I know I can take as long as I want when I'm the guy with the weed. Don't expect me to be on time, and don't flood me with ETA texts. I'll get there when I get there. - Antonio*, 26

Follow Caroline Thompson on Twitter.

How Some British Weed Growers Are Avoiding Prosecution

(Top photo: two tagged plants)

This post originally appeared on VICE UK

In the UK, growing weed is usually a pretty clandestine procedure. It has to be, really, considering it's still very much illegal and can see you handed anything from a community service sentence to a decade in prison. Good news for green-fingered smokers, then, that the United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs (UKCSC) has recently launched a system that, in theory, would help you battle a court case if your grow was busted.

There are four categories of cannabis grows in the eyes of the law. Category 1 is where your operation is capable of producing enough for commercial distribution, and the remaining categories work their way down to number four, meaning nine or less plants, which can be considered a "domestic operation."

The UKCSC sells a kit containing branded tags complete with unique serial numbers, and a poster bearing a notice for the police. You can use these to tag up to nine plants in one grow location, which signifies your operation is not one with criminal intentions. In other words, you are not a street or commercial dealer.

So why would you need to grow nine plants if you don't intend to deal? The idea is that this one garden provides for multiple cannabis consumers who are part of a "collective"—a "separate and legally distinct group of consenting adults that wish to avoid engaging with the black-market by the communal growing and sharing of cannabis," according to the UKCSC website.


Related: Watch 'High Society—How Weed Laws Are Failing the UK'


These collectives consist of many medical users of cannabis who are looking for the safest and fairest access possible, as well as recreational enthusiasts who don't want to associate with the criminal market and also wish to grow their preferred strains to a much cleaner standard than what's available on the street. As well as making it clear to the court that your grow was not funding organized crime, the money you paid for the tags goes into a pot maintained by UKCSC, which helps to fund your legal defense if you do ever get raided.

James, a grower who has been raided before, has recently registered his garden under the tagged collective model. He told me: "This scheme allows us to show that we are not commercial growers if we do get another knock at the door. And it shows the authorities that whilst cultivation is illegal at the moment, we are trying to do it in as professional a manner as possible and be responsible."

No one who is registered under the tagging system has actually been raided yet, so how the police and courts will view this model has not yet been tested. "I'd like to think the police would look at the tags and be able to clearly see that the plants are not intended for sale on the street and that they are for helping people to have a decent quality of life," says James.

A poster provided as part of the UKCSC's tagging system.

Alongside the tagging system, domestic growers in certain parts of the country have something else their side: The fact that Sara Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs Council, has said cracking down on weed has "never been a top priority," and that if police are alerted to small-scale grows they're more likely to just "record" the news rather than carry out an investigation.

Another grower under the UKCSC scheme, Trev, has confidence in the project. He says: "Sooner or later we'll hit a tipping point where the police have to work far more effectively with us, rather than against us. The same will happen vice versa, which all goes towards community relations and cracking down on crime gangs. The tags show the police that I'm part of something bigger than myself. It shows them that I'm part of a culture that would far sooner work with them for change."

James also hopes the scheme will help to foster better relations with the police, as he'd like to be able to access his medicine without fear of arrest or prosecution. "I've had bad joint and muscle pain for about five years, and I've used cannabis concentrates to help with pain relief," he says. "After years of different tests, I just found out this week that it's fibromyalgia. This is why I grow cannabis; even though I have been raided before, it is the only way I can guarantee consistent quality meds."

The tagged plant model also does more than just sending a message, it also allows the UKCSC to track data around how many potential medical users and growers exist in the UK. Greg de Hoedt, the President of the UKCSC, got the idea for this comprehensive anonymous database after seeing similar systems in US states where cannabis is legal, like California and Colorado.

"The inspiration initially came from an area in California called Mendocino," says Greg. "When the area was doing badly economically, the police force risked having major cuts. As the area was already known to be full of weed growers, they decided to drastically slow down on raiding weed farms—instead, they offered growers tags and flags for $8,000 that would make them immune from being a police target. The only condition was that there were no more than 99 plants being grown."

Nine tagged plants

The money raised would be added directly to the community's tax budget, and therefore was a win-win situation for everyone—growers who signed up to the system were no longer anxious about being raided, and the community benefited economically.

"The sheriff who headed up the idea was praised for his innovation by most, and a bridge was built between cannabis growers and the police for the first time ever," says Greg. "I'd love to achieve this bridge in the UK."

In Colorado, cannabis is tracked by batch and by gram from seed to sale. This system of regulation was another source of inspiration for Greg, who sees such moves as an important part of cannabis coming out of the underground and becoming an accepted part of society. "This is about taking cannabis into our own hands and away from criminals," he says. "The tags are about knowing your cannabis has been grown properly, cleanly, and is of medical quality. The tags are about being ethical—knowing that acquiring your medication or your recreational drug doesn't fund the dealing of hard drugs, sex trafficking, or other real crime."

Whether or not this tagging system will make a tangible difference to a potential court case is yet to be seen, but the message is clear: Some people just want to grow the weed they smoke, and which affects only them, without being dealt with like gangsters by the authorities. Whether it's for medical or recreational purposes, Greg tells me he sees it as a human right for someone to be able to grow and supply their own medicine and to have the freedom to choose what they do with their own bodies.

Follow Ali Cedar on Twitter.

Weed Might Put You at Greater Risk for Heart Attack or Stroke, Says Study

According to CBS News, there's new research on the horizon that suggests marijuana use might not be as safe as originally thought—the data suggests that smoking pot may put people at a higher risk for stroke and heart disease, adding to a number of conflicting studies about the safety of getting high.

Dr. Aditi Kalla, a cardiologist from Philadelphia's Einstein Medical Center, got a team together to analyze 20 million hospital records from people ages 18 to 55 who had been discharged from US hospitals in 2009 and 2010. The team looked at the number of people in those records who had admitted to smoking weed—only about 1.5 percent—and found that marijuana use was responsible for a 26 percent higher risk of stroke, and 10 percent higher risk of heart failure, compared to patients who did not smoke weed. 

Although the study didn't allow the researchers to actually talk to the participants to find out how much they were smoking each day, or if they were smoking or eating edibles, Kalla still believes the findings indicate a general link between heart problems and marijuana use. 

"Even when we corrected for known risk factors, we still found a higher rate of both stroke and heart failure in these patients, so that leads us to believe that there is something else going on besides just obesity or diet-related cardiovascular side effects," Kalla said in a press release. "More research will be needed to understand the pathophysiology behind this effect."

This is just the most recent in a number of studies that have found harmful effects of marijuana use, including diminished bone densityvision problemspsychosis, and paranoia. Earlier this year, a review of 10,000 studies about the medical effects of marijuana published by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that pot can affect memory, mental health, and respiratory functions, but won't cause cancer. 

However, that same study found that cannabis also has tremendous health benefits, including use for chronic pain. Other studies show that the green stuff can improve cognitive functionstreat cervical cancerhelp PTSD patients, and block the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Even former surgeon general Vivek Murthy has touted weed's potential medical benefits

With medical or recreational marijuana use legal in more than half of the states in the country, doctors and the general public are going to be paying more attention to these studies to weigh the drug's benefits. The bottom line seems to be that without more inquiry, we can't be quite sure of the real risk marijuana can pose.

"Like all other drugs, whether they're prescribed or not prescribed, we want to know the effects and side effects of this drug," Kalla said. "It's important for physicians to know these effects so we can better educate patients, such as those who are inquiring about the safety of cannabis or even asking for a prescription for cannabis." 

Kalla and her team plan to publish their findings at the annual American College of Cardiology meeting on March 18.