The High End: The Most Expensive, Outrageous, Over-the-Top Cannabis Products in the World

With mad props to the free-lovin, long-haired Bohemian hippies who paved the way for the progressive-potheads of my own era, if we’re ever going to make the last push toward national legalization (and more importantly, decriminalization), we’re going to need to appeal to mainstream America. Get the marijuana moms and cannabis-closeted executives on board. Appeal to the stiletto stoners and ganjapreneurs. Make pot smoking as appealing to the masses as mixology and martini shakers were in the Mad Men era. (Without the part where everyone drinks themselves to death…). #CannabisIsSafer

Point is, we’re kicking it up a notch. Crappy bongs and aluminum-can pipes will no longer fit in with our terrific new townhouse. That gunked-up grinder needs to be swapped out for gold! Zig Zags and Zippos? Replaced by vaporizers and Tiffany torches!

Legal cannabis is the fastest-growing market in the country (posting $6.7 billion in revenue last year—a 30 percent increase). This Green Rush has created amazing innovation and glorious gadgets for the upscale cannabis clientele. Indeed, we’ve upgraded the hardware. Introducing: The High End. (Check out the video version here.)

If we all had these bongs, we’d get along

Blackened, slimy, swamp water-filled plastic bongs are no longer how we roll. Gorgeous glass is now available at every price level from an impressive array of artists. If budget’s not an issue (make sure ya save something to buy weed), nothing’s classier than a stunning piece from the artisans at Mothership Glass (below).

For pure spectacle, I’m partial to the Grav Labs Menorah—an eight-bowl bubbler that can be used on Hanukkah, or any day you want to make a high holiday.

In the event you’re interested in the most expensive bong in history, it’s this gold-encrusted skull from Scott Deppe. This show piece runs more than $100,000, so yer gonna want to be careful with that thing…

Coming back down to earth, a new breed of American-made ceramic pipes have sparked major interest, including individually crafted gems from Stonedware and Summerland that would just as easily fit into a museum as your nightstand.

While you can still rock a vintage Bob Marley t-shirt or hemp bracelet, canna-fashion is again cutting edge. Alexander Wang’s current designs bring cannabis motifs to the runway on bags and mini-skirts.

High-end designer Jacquie Aiche has created a Sweet Leaf collection inspired by marijuana leaves and worn by Rihanna, Kate Mara and Gigi Hadid. Her Sweet Hoops are also all the rage; they better be sweet for five grand.

Need bigger bling? Fashion maven Vetements, known for couture collections, is selling a gold ganja grinder that can be worn as a necklace or pocket watch.

When it comes to high-fashion, my personal preference is the (fake) Rolex. Notice the green band?!

The Cannabis Connoisseur can clear the counter of clutter and freshen the space with the CannaCloud—essentially the “Keurig of Cannabis!” Made by CannaKorp, this high-end vaporizing system uses single-smoke pods, but unlike those java machines, pours a perfect plume. The CannaCloud is cheap ($150), but they get ya with the individual cPods (at around $7 per unit), which come in various flavors including sativa, hybrid, indica and CBD only strains.

Fully automated infusers like the LEVO will soon be joining the juicer and Cuisinart on countertops. The LEVO is a sophisticated kitchen appliance that makes infused butters and oil. And while the LEVO will infuse butter with herbs and fruits and nutrients, the main purpose is to put your weed in there! Even if, like me, you couldn’t cook your way out of a paper bag, the copper LEVO will still look lovely on your countertop.

Along with sun-grown, small batch, all-organic cannabis, consumers are looking for healthier ways to inhale. The style and sophistication of top of the line vaporizers like the DaVinci IQ, PAX and PuffCo fit right alongside high tech laptops and digital devices, and avoid traditional smoke via convection heat.

The most expensive vaporizer around ($600) was created by former NASA engineers, and while it won’t shoot you to the Moon, the Herbalizer is like having an alien in your living room. These limited edition machines are futuristic and allow users to enjoy herb in a variety of ways, including Aromatherapy, Vaportherapy and the traditional balloon method.

For those of us not chowing elegant edibles or using an electronic vape, we’re in need of FIRE! Hempwick is fab, as are vintage matchbooks (hell—anything but those blowtorches the kids are dabbing with). The S.T. Dupont Prestige Collection Diamond Nights lighter is beyond belief and frankly ridiculous—which is why we’re highlighting it. Inspired by Persian architecture, the $30,000 limited edition is stunning, sophisticated, and, unlike your disposable Bic, not to be left at a friend’s house. If you’d prefer to upgrade from the $30,000 Nights edition, ya can kick it up a notch to the S.T. Dupont Prestige Collection Diamond Rain version—containing 1098 diamonds. Make it rain, bee-otch.

Frenchy fashion house Hermès has been making smoke accessories since Louis XVI’s head rolled into the Seine. This porcelain Hermès Mosiac Ashtray is only $830. Priceless? Hardly! ($830) Senseless? Indeed!

Whether it’s sweet or spicy or has hints of lavender (or Labrador), maintaining aroma and freshness for our flower requires a quality humidor. The best stash box designed for dope is the Cannador… but our over-the-top fave is the Imperiali (below). The Swiss-made Imperiali Geneve dials in constant humidity and perfect self-regulating temperature. The hand-made humidor has 2,675 components (including an internal gas lighter and tourbillion watch) and costs one million Swiss francs. How much is that, you may ask? More than you have… and since only twelve Imperialies are being made a year, forgetaboutit.

The Imperiali comes with Cubans, but I suggest swapping ‘em out with the CannaGar, the World’s highest-end cannabis cigar! Using fine cannabis (from Seattle grower Gold Leaf), each cigar is hand-rolled and cured. Chock full of 9.5 ounces of bud, the CannaGar is then covered in three grams of rosin oil and wrapped in at least two layers of gorgeous, pure cannabis leaves. Cost? $420, of course!

For the organic gardening types who like to make their own home-brewed Kombucha, there are great grow systems for cannabis, including the Supercloset, Yofumo and BloomBox. The Leaf advertises itself as a “Plug-n-Plant” home growing system that fits into a small apartment and still leaves room for the flatscreen. With a high-tech monitoring system that puts baby monitors to shame, the Leaf supposedly handles it all: light, ventilation, even nutrient levels! The size of a mini-fridge, the Leaf only fits two plants (yielding between four and five ounces of pot). At $3000 for the machine, that’s some spendy weed.

If you’re super tight on space, the Root Indoor Garden is a counter-top sized gadget that can grow lettuce, tomatoes, culinary herbs… oh, and clones (or auto flowers)! The Root includes an LED grow light and a hydroponic system that infuses nutrient-rich water directly at the roots, letting you grow in as tiny a space as a micro-flat.

Of course, anyone wanting to grow their own will need a guide on gardening, so why not blow $500 on a lovely coffee-table book! Three A Light is beautifully illustrated and leads readers from seed to harvest, though, frankly, we’d save $475 and buy something from master gardener Ed Rosenthal.

Some of us are too lazy to get out of the house, much less grow our own ganja. Luckily, in many markets there’s home delivery! A company called Club M does subscription service, delivering a luxury box full of curated cannabis products and accessories each month. Their limited-edition gift box is the M1K (see below), and the K stands for the cool grand a month you’ll be paying for your ganja goodies. They’ve also got $100 subscriptions if you want to dial it down a notch. The AuBox is another upscale option, with specialized categories including edibles, intimates, beauty and even pet boxes.

So long as we’re upping the ante, there’s no reason the Donald Trump crowd can’t get in on the action. (Seniors are, in fact, the fastest growing cannabis-using population, not to mention the legalization of cannabis is a states’ rights issue which the Republican-minded should appreciate.) Palm Angels have some comfy Italian-made slippers that would make Hef proud, and come with embroidered golf leafs.

For high society tee-time, you’ll also need the Jane West golf tees that double as one-hitters or the Pitch n’ Putt containers from Puffingtons that allow you to store your stash in a golf ball. After all, if you ARE having to spend time with a right-winger, something needs to make those 18 holes more tolerable…

Don’t forget to ditch the golf cart and ride the Hemp Roadster! The so-called Cannabis Car has a hemp body and is made by Renew, a Key West car designer. The high-performance roadster features a Mazda chassis and a composite shell made from interwoven industrial hemp fibers and resin that are lighter and more durable than fiberglass. Though the green machine doesn’t run on cannabis—it uses a feel-good fuel called BioButanol—made from recycled agricultural waste, with a carbon footprint that’s 20 percent cleaner than electric cars. Currently in the prototype stage, you can get on the list for this gorgeous two-seat convertible, but you have to put down the full price: $42,000.

In the end, of course, you don’t need a little red convertible or $100,000 bong to make you happy. You need good cannabis and a loving community (SEE! The Counter Culture is alive and well!). Still, it’s fun to have fancy gadgets, and my personal favorite is a vape pen called the Grasshopper. Made out of sturdy titanium, this elegant device fits right inside my jacket pocket and alongside my journal. Problem is, sometimes I forget my real pen. #Stoner.

Find your own elevated bliss, and enjoy the High Life!

Fronting a Movement

I have a few concerns.

I’m concerned that I may be fronting the largest drug operation since Scarface and meth labs ruled the night.

I’m concerned about kids and marijuana and making more of it available to their developing young flea-brains (which, if they’re like mine, will remain half-baked until their late 20s).

I’m concerned about involving the government in oversight and taxation, as we know full well they fuck up everything they get their grubby hands on (and are already squabbling over and redirecting the massive tax revenue being collected).

I’m concerned about the “dabbing” culture that takes highly concentrated cannabis and fires it up with a blowtorch, making users look like crack addicts and putting a frightful face on the future of legalization.

I’m concerned Maureen Dowd will try to get stoned again.

I’m concerned about people who are getting too high too often—“All Day, Everyday”—and are no better than the drunks, tobacco smokers, and opiate addicts we say we’re “safer than.”

I’m concerned that, despite childproof packaging and clear “Adults Only” warning labels, cannabis products that look like gummy bears, chocolate bars, lollipops, and peanut-butter cups may fall into the hands of youngsters.

I’m concerned that corporate fat cats will see the billions being made in legal states, then craft and finance self-serving initiatives that make them rich while cutting out the original growers who for decades fought prohibition from their black-market basements.

I’m concerned that marijuana’s dirty secret will get out—that growing weed indoors sucks up water and power like golf courses on steroids—and make progressive voters wary of voting for legalization. I’m also concerned that, without the proper regulation, even legal cannabis will be laden with pesticides, mold, and other untested and unlisted chemicals.

I’m concerned that, until we rename cannabis strains such as AlienKush OG, Girl Scout Cookies, GreenCrack, and BubbleBerry, we won’t be taken seriously.

I’m concerned that the stoner clichés of the past are being used against individuals who are fabulous souls, but do not wish to be involved in capitalistic and ganjapreneurial efforts.

I’m concerned that current growers in California’s Emerald Triangle have it so good they won’t support the legalization efforts in their state, and may even actively oppose initiatives with their own money. (It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of California’s marijuana is exported—providing little incentive for farmers there to follow a seed-to-sale tracking system.)

I’m concerned that a profit-driven Big Pot industry will increase potency, decrease regulation, encourage overuse, and abandon limits on age and availability of what surely is a mind-bending drug meant for fully functioning adults.

I’m concerned that those now organizing “Boycott 502 Store” campaigns are missing an important point: that legalization, taxation, and regulation are moving the movement forward, and don’t (necessarily) need to jeopardize the rights of and safe access for patients.

I’m concerned that we’re moving more toward Walter White’s vision than Bob Marley’s.

I’m concerned that marijuana will not only be federally legalized, but controlled and dominated by mega-corporations who begin to squeeze out indie farmers, add pesticides and food coloring, and eventually decide that GMO cloning is the easiest option—and we’ll wind up right back where we started: with “prescription” drugs so far from the plant you need a lawyer to read the label.

I’m concerned that with so much emphasis on the amazing medicinal attributes of cannabis, the population without ailments will shy away from the very real benefits of simply getting high.

I’m concerned that the marijuana movement and cannabis culture may not stay true to the ideals that launched the journey, including civil rights and personal liberties. It was never about a Green Rush. It wasn’t about “waking and baking” or dabbing till we got couchlocked. It was about allowing people to farm. It was about being able to use a natural herb to mellow out, and, as it turns out, for medicinal purposes. Ultimately, it’s about making sure no one goes to prison for possessing a plant that grows out of God’s green Earth. That vision of personal freedom—that movement—I can get behind. Those ideals don’t concern me at all.

Mr. Chronic

Counterintuitive but true: Pot can make you more productive.

One of my favorite things to do is get stoned to the bejesus and clean house. And I’m not just talking about casual dusting, either; I’m talking about down on your belly, shoving the long extension vacuum tool deep under the bed and sucking up dust mites and fur balls, only to discover long-lost socks, exercise equipment, underwear (whose are those?!), and enough change to go out and buy MORE weed to smoke and then Shop-Vac the garage. In this way, stoned cleaning is a sustainable endeavor.

Hyperactive cleaning, you may say—but that’s counterintuitive! The stereotype, of course, is that smoking marijuana puts you on the couch, not wildly vacuuming under it. But like so much Reefer Madness, the clichés are all wrong. Turns out cannabis has been proven to aid in focus and concentration, as the body contains cannabinoid receptors for THC that can stimulate and modulate our brain’s neurotransmitters. In states where medical marijuana is legal, it’s even being used to treat attention-deficit disorders, replacing prescription stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta that have nasty side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

“Cannabis appears to treat ADD and ADHD by increasing the availability of dopamine,” noted Dr. David Bearman, who has spent 40 years looking into drug-abuse treatment and uses for medical marijuana. “This then has the same effect but is a different mechanism of action than stimulants like Ritalin (methylphenidate) and dexedrine amphetamine, which act by binding to the dopamine and interfering with the metabolic breakdown of dopamine.”

I know what the Doc’s talkin’ about! When I smoke weed, the THC gives my often scattered flea-brain laser-focus; I’m like Mr. Clean on steroids—intensely scrubbing the grout, determinedly deodorizing and disinfecting, even fire-hosing the disgusting recycling bins caked with foodstuff, wine splatter, and spaghetti sauce. Two-fisted Cannabis Clean!

“The most accepted theory about ADHD rests on the fact that about 70 percent of the brain’s function is to regulate input to the other 30 percent,” Dr. Bearman corroborates. “Basically the brain is overwhelmed with too much information coming too fast. In ADHD, the brain is cluttered with and too aware of all the nuances of a person’s daily experience.” In essence, pot can drive millions of incoming ideas out of your monkey mind, and allow you to focus on the tasks at hand—like spiderweb removal whilst listening to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

For me, getting baked is like a triple espresso, with a shot of spiritual matcha chai on the side. My attitude is energetic and focused, with a little theatrical whimsy thrown in for good measure. Suddenly an overwhelming task such as organizing the jam-packed kitchen drawers becomes an important NASA mission! Run by Commander Clutter-be-Gone, the vital undertaking will be executed quickly, efficiently, and with a few odd brogue verbal commands uttered randomly throughout the exercise. High on ganja, the steps become crystal-clear: EVERYTHING must be dumped on the counter, and items slowly reintegrated into the newly labelled (and vacuumed!) drawers: Sharp Things, FSK, Expired Coupons, TupperWare, and a Catch-All drawer for rubber bands, pens, matches, odd keys, and those fawking square things you twist around a plastic bread bag. Two hours later I’ve made Martha Stewart look like a disorganized lowbrow street thug. Not only are the new drawers impeccably organized, they’ve been lined beautifully with all that excess wrapping paper I couldn’t find a place for.

Now has marijuana ever derailed my efforts at cleaning? Yes. Certainly. In fact, I once began with a toilet wand in my hand and somehow wound up naked in my living room under one of the most amazing pillow forts ever created.

Stoned cleaning sometimes leads to related but tangential tasks, such as trips to the refrigerator (more for munching than defrosting), getting lost in family photo albums, and cleaning out closets. While conducting a fashion show for my friend Julie (to determine which items needed to be given away), I began to see how truly cluttered my life had become. Who needs five baseball hats and a dozen belts? Getting rid of the weight of 1,000 unworn Tommy Bahama shirts lifted my worldly burden, and I began tossing unwanted paperweights, plastic cups, filing cabinets, and additional tchotchkes that not only were cluttering my overcrowded physical space, but, more important, my mind, man!

Chipping away at the inside of my microwave the other day, I came to another reefer-induced realization: What do I really know about this strange food-warming machine? What is a “micro-wave,” and what are the effects of molecules being radiated in this way? And why did I choose a toothbrush to clean the grit and grime when a chisel or power-washer would have been far more apt? I pulled my head out of the nuclear device, unplugged the thing, and put it on top of the ever-growing Goodwill pile, then began scrubbing the empty space on the counter.

“When it comes to clean, there’s only one Mr.”: Mr. Chronic.

Holy smokes—I think I missed a spot!

Turkeys of the Year

Time to reveal this year’s cannabis turkeys—the fattest, most frivolous, flapping, dumb-ass ideas in need of being stuffed, baked, and smoked once and for all.

Let’s start with a turkey large enough for the whole family, and by that I mean Gov. Chris Christie. He not only had the nerve to call cannabis a gateway drug, but said potheads lack restraint (ahem). “If I’m elected president I will go after marijuana smokers and the states that allow them to smoke,” he said. “I’ll shut them down big-time. I’m sick of these addicts, sick of these liberals with no self-control.” Governor GobbleGobble got in one more zinger on the campaign trail: “If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie lectured a small crowd last month. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.” Don’t hold your breath, Guv. Well, unless you inhaled, of course.

Last week the DEA chief, Chuck Rosenberg, called medical cannabis “a joke.” “What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal—because it’s not,” said pilgrim Rosenberg. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine—that is a joke . . . If you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana—which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana—it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.” Hilarious joke for those being aided by cannabis for everything from epileptic seizures to Parkinson’s, chronic pain, PTSD, and more. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) slammed this diatribe from the House floor, calling Rosenberg “an inept, misinformed zealot who has mismanaged America’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition.” A petition created for this turkey’s removal currently bears more than 100,000 signatures.

The State of Kansas is still attempting to put Shona Banda, an author and medical-marijuana patient, in prison after her young son accidentally outed her in a D.A.R.E. presentation. Banda, who uses cannabis oil to treat her Crohn’s disease, had her 11-year-old taken from her when he challenged the school presentation’s accuracy based on his own firsthand knowledge that marijuana was helping his mom battle her illness. Though her son has since been returned, Banda is still facing felony criminal charges, including distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property; unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance; possession of drug paraphernalia; and child endangerment. Banda, who faces 28 years in prison, will be arraigned in January, and has become a spokesperson for legalization, bringing national attention to the absurdity of the charges. As hemp farmer Thomas Jefferson said, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” Or in this case, a woman.

Ohio’s failed legalization initiative gets the Wishbone Award, screwing up not once but in two pieces! First, the deeply flawed law was a greedy attempt to make billions for the 10 millionaires who wrote and backed the initiative in the first place; second, it introduced the world to Buddy, a regrettable marijuana mascot who resembles Joe Camel. Sixty-four percent of voters clearly saw what a sham this attempted oligopoly was, and voted it down. But ya know who did support this anti-free market boondoggle? The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. For that, NORML gets a Dumb-Stick. Not everything with the words “marijuana” and “legalization” is a good idea, pals.

A 420-friendly resort called CannaCamp was set to open July 1 in a gorgeous wilderness area outside Durango, Colo. In addition to scenic cabins, weed-infused dinners, and baked yoga classes, the Mary Jane Group offered high hiking and a cannabis concierge on its 170 marijuana-friendly acres. Unfortunately, the stoners at the MJ Group didn’t get the details about the ranch’s sale a month before cannabis-campers were set to arrive. “Dude. Where’s my ranch?!”

While the Colorado CannaCampers are now looking for a new location, here in Washington we’ve got hundreds of CannaCampgrounds for all to enjoy! They’re called parks, and our beautiful state is chock full of  ’em! (Disclaimer: It is illegal to smoke in local, state, or national parks. Enjoy!)

Finally, the biggest Turkey of ’Em All was . . . the DEA! In addition to the 700,000 annual arrests still taking place for marijuana-related offenses (now there’s a harvest!), our Drug Enforcement Administration is continuing to put up major roadblocks when it comes to even researching the benefits of medical cannabis.

The solution to carving up this mega-turkey is simple: Take marijuana off the controlled-substances schedule—which currently equates pot with heroin and meth and states it has “no medically accepted use” and a “high potential for abuse.” This will allow doctors and scientific researchers to begin exploring, producing, and testing the medical benefits of this plant without fear of arrest. Put that in your pipe and stuff it. #ThankfulforLegalization

The Lone Reefer

Our King County Sheriff is outspoken in his support for legalization.

The sky has not fallen because we have legalized marijuana in Washington. Is it going to work long-term? I don’t know; we’ll have to wait and see. But clearly, what we were doing before—the War on Drugs—did not work, so it was time to try something new. The citizens suggested legalizing marijuana—and I support it.”

It’s a reasonable-enough statement, but somewhat surprising in that it comes from our own King County Sheriff, John Urquhart. “I still think it was a good decision for the citizens of Washington,” Urquhart told me in an interview last week. “The initiative [I-502] passed statewide with 56 percent supporting it, and 63 percent in King County, so that’s clearly what the citizens wanted.”

Urquhart’s outspoken support of legalization isn’t being taken all that well by some members of law enforcement. Urquhart did a TV ad last year on behalf of the (successful) Oregon Measure 91, and members of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association took him to task. “How dare he use his position as a sheriff to spoon-feed Oregonians blatantly false information about Washington state,” said Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, “right before an Oregon election.”

Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins not only didn’t like Urquhart’s ad, he went NIMBY gun-slinger with a zinger. “You don’t see any Oregon sheriffs going up to Washington to weigh in,” Adkins blasted in a statement. “He needs to get his nose out of our state and show some respect. The issues we face are different.” Like neck beards and living on a swamp-river, I presume.

Members of the Oregon Sheriffs Association claimed Urquhart’s statements were misleading, citing state patrol reports that showed stoned driving arrests had increased. In the ad, Urquhart rightly claims tax revenue is up, wasteful arrests have been eliminated, and DUIs in our state are down, implying that legal weed may have something to do with all these results.

While it’s true DUIs are down overall (DUIs have dropped 25 percent since 2009), arrests involving pot and driving are up. The most current stats from the Washington State Patrol show that cannabis-related DUIs since December 2012 (when we legalized it, man) have gone up, from 988 in 2011 to 1,362 in 2013. A Washington Traffic Safety commission report last week showed the frequency of drivers in fatal crashes who tested positive with THC in their systems (alone, or in combo with booze or other drugs) was highest in 2014 (75) as compared to the previous four-year average (36).

“There have been more arrests for driving with marijuana in their system,” Urquhart admitted, “but, overall, fatality crashes have not gone up. There haven’t been any studies in Washington where there’s a direct causation from legalizing marijuana [to road fatalities]. There might be a correlation, but we’ll need more research on that.”

And the reason for more stoned drivers? “Well, for one, we’re looking for stoned drivers. Because of all the publicity around it. And now we have a per se standard. So we’re watching for that—and obviously there will be more arrests. As they test more blood—they’re gonna find more people with THC. The question then will be, how long has it been in their system? Did it affect their ability to drive? And what other drugs might be in their system?—including alcohol.”

But surely, since ganja has gone legal, officers in the field have constantly had to tackle out-of-control stoners at sex-crazed parties, right?

“No. Not at all. From what I’m hearing from my deputies, it’s a big yawner. No change for them whatsoever. What I have told them, if people are smoking marijuana in public, use your discretion like you would with drinking in public, or like speeding. Don’t be afraid to write a citation. So they’re doing that. But I haven’t heard any pushback.”

I asked the Sheriff if it was strange to be a voice for legalization. “To be honest, it’s very, very weird. I have been a cop for 40 years, I spent a good amount of that time doing drug investigations, and was a street-level narcotics investigator. And now, in some quarters, I’m the face of all this. Most police chiefs and sheriffs don’t want to speak out on this, regardless of their what their personal feelings are. And of course, the police chief has to kowtow to who the mayor is. A sheriff has more freedom. I just don’t care, to tell you the truth.” (FYI, the Washington State Sheriffs’ Association wrote a letter to the Oregon sheriffs during the campaign, clearly stating that Urquhart’s views were not endorsed by the organization.)

Urquhart isn’t a Lone Ranger (Lone Reefer?) on legalization. Founded in 2002, LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is a group of over 5,000 current and retired cops, judges, and prosecutors committed to ending decades of failed drug policies. Like Urquhart, they don’t like the trillion dollars spent on the failed War on Drugs or the $80 billion spent on incarceration in the U.S. each year—which could instead go to rehabilitation, job training, and education.

At a press conference last month, executive director Major Neill Franklin explained LEAP’s position: “As our nation’s top police and prosecutors reflect back on their careers, we have come to understand that many of the so-called tough-on-crime principles to which many of us gave our lives are flat-out wrong,” said Franklin. “We can reduce crime and incarceration at the same time, but to do that we need alternatives to arrest, balance in our laws, and continued improvement in community relations.”

Every 45 seconds a person gets busted for marijuana. This adds up to more than 700,000 pot-related arrests in 2014 alone. Of 1,561,231 total drug arrests last year, weed made up 45 percent of ’em. Of the 1,700 daily cannabis busts, 88.4 percent were solely for possession. Still, Urquhart understands that not all law enforcement will agree with his stand on legalization, and he’s fine with that—so long as they have ideas of their own on failed policy.

“The only thing that gets me pissed off is when police chiefs criticize the decision that the citizens of Washington made, for legalizing marijuana, but offer no alternative to that. They all know the War on Drugs doesn’t work. What are we going to do differently? Marijuana is one small step. Let’s see if it works. It’s a grand social experiment. And it appears to be taking hold.”

Weed By the Numbers

This week, just some cold, hard stats.

Clearly I am in support of the legalization of marijuana. And I’m passionate about the subject not only because I enjoy smoking weed, but I’d also prefer not to be arrested for buying it. Regardless, I try to be objective on the matter, understanding that not everyone likes to get high (on cannabis, anyway), and that countering decades of Reefer Madness may take time. So in an effort to be more neutral and journalistic, I’d like to let the plethora of statistics I’ve gathered speak for itself. Although numbers, of course, cannot speak.

Legal cannabis sales last year were $2.7 billion, $1.55 billion in 2013. Estimates for this year are over $3.5 billion (not including ancillary products such as pipes, papers, grinders, vaporizers, etc.).

According to a Gallup poll taken last month, 58 percent of adults think cannabis should be legal, an all-time high (no pun intended). Last year only 51 percent were in support, and in 2010, only 48 percent. The first time the Gallup poll asked about ganja was in 1969, when it found only 12 percent in favor of legalizing marijuana (and four percent claiming to have ever tried it).

Among Americans born between 1981 and 1997 (i.e., whippersnappers, aka millennials), 71 percent support marijuana legalization. Thirty-five percent of senior citizens (65 or over) support cannabis reform, as do 58 percent of baby boomers. Only 29 percent of those aged 70 to 87 think weed should be legal.

Even though the majority support the right to smoke marijuana, they don’t necessarily want it in their faces. According to Pew Research, 62 percent of Americans don’t want weed smoked in public, even if legal, and 15 percent don’t want guests using it in their homes. As for opening a pot store in their hood? Fifty-seven percent have no problem with a legal cannabis business in their neighborhood.

Women hold 36 percent of the executive positions in the U.S. cannabis industry, as compared to 22 percent of business-executive positions in the nation as a whole.

Almost half of us have tried weed at some point (49 percent), and 12 percent—around 22 million Americans—have fired up (or eaten a brownie) in the past year. Over the past decade, the number of adults who say they used pot in the previous year has doubled. According to the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, in 2013 40 percent of teens said they had used marijuana—down from 47 percent in 1999, but up from 37 percent in 2009.

According to a 2013 study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 20 million Americans are monthly marijuana users, and 33 million try it every year. Two-thirds of those who say they use pot on an annual basis also report that they don’t use any other (illegal) drugs. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one in every three users experiences abuse of or dependency on the substance, adding up to 6.8 million Americans.

It’s estimated by the United Nations that worldwide, 3.8 percent of the population—about 266 million adults—uses marijuana at least once per year, and 22.5 million smoke cannabis daily. The countries with the highest percentage of potheads? Papua New Guinea (29.5 percent), Palau (24 percent), and Ghana (21.2 percent). Italians like it a lot (15 percent), as do Nigerians (14 percent). Lowest on the list? Japan (0.1 percent) and Singapore (0.004 percent).

A nationwide survey conducted by the University of Michigan found that 5.9 percent of college kids smoke weed on a near-daily basis, and only 5 percent smoke cigarettes, marking the first time since the study was first conducted in 1980 that more college students smoked cannabis than cigarettes.

The average rolled joint contains half a gram of marijuana. Since an ounce is slightly more than 28 grams, you’ll get almost 60 joints in an ounce. (Unless of course you are Snoop Dogg.)

Fifty-nine percent of Americans say that weed is easy to get a hold of, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Among kids aged 12 to 17, 48.7 percent say it’s easy to obtain, and for those 18 to 25, 75 percent do. That’s an even higher percentage than the 26-to-34 age group; 69 percent of them said it was fairly or very easy to get. Among those 35 to 49, 60 percent had no trouble getting the ganja, while only half of those 50 or older could find a dealer.

According to the packaging, the serving size for Nacho Cheese Doritos is just 11 chips. Eleven.

That’s a lot to think about. Oh, and #LegalizeIt.

We Need to Build a Weed Wall!

With the election of a progressive Prime Minister, Canada jumps way out ahead on legalization.

Oh! Canada! Not only did our neighbors to the north elect a handsome, progressive, yoga-practicing Prime Minister, but they put into power a man who promises to legalize marijuana across the Great White North, from VanCity to Haligonia. The Liberal Party’s Justin Trudeau pledged during his campaign to legalize recreational cannabis use “right away,” and, unlike our legislative clusterfuck known as Congress, Canada’s parliament typically pays attention to the will of its people.

Canadian voters liked Trudeau’s reasoning for legalizing weed, including mega-tax revenues and eliminating the black market. Current laws were “making marijuana too easy to access for our kids,” Trudeau said, “and at the same time funding street crime, organized gangs, and gun-runners.”

According to a University of British Columbia study, more than seven and a half million people use cannabis in Canada, and legalization could bring in between five and 12 billion dollars. (Not sure if that’s Canadian or U.S. dollars. It’s so confusing!) The news of Trudeau’s victory has already helped established canna-businesses in Canada. Shares of listed companies such as Mettrum Health and Aphria, which currently produce for the medical system, have had major stock-price gains since Trudeau’s surprise win. The biggest current producer of Canuck chronic is called Canopy Growth Corp., and their shares are up more than 20 percent. “I think what you’ll see perhaps, after this election,” noted Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton, “is a recognition that there is an opportunity to collect taxes on something that is already being sold into the market illegally or illicitly.”

Justin Trudeau isn’t just providing lip service in regard to the legalization of ganja . . . well, he is, actually. The Prime Minister-designate admits to having smoked reefer, and not just in a “tried it and didn’t inhale” kinda way. “When the joint went around the room, I usually passed it around to the next person,” he told HuffPo a few years back. “But sometimes throughout my life, I’ve had a pull on it.” According to the tube-ripping Trudeau, the last time he was high was three years ago, which would mean he fired up after having been elected Montreal’s MP. “Sometimes, I guess, I have gotten a buzz, but other times no. I’m not really crazy about it.”

It’s a refreshing bit of candor from a politician in any country, really; Trudeau has said pot’s not his bag, but he doesn’t see a reason to bust the balls of adults who dig it. “I’m not someone who is particularly interested in altered states, but I certainly won’t judge someone else for it,” Trudeau stated, adding he’d only gotten baked five or six times. “I think that the prohibition that is currently on marijuana is unjustified.”

As in the United States, arrests for marijuana possession have been rising in Canada, but hopefully that trend will be reversed. Under the previous PM, conservative Stephen Harper, arrests soared by 30 percent (475,000 under his watch), and draconian mandatory minimum sentences were put in place. If Trudeau immediately allows for simple possession, those arrests will come grinding to a halt. He may also allow for home grows, currently not allowed under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Trudeau said on the campaign trail last month in Vancouver that he’d work to pardon those currently in jail for marijuana-related offenses. “There have been many situations over history when laws come in that overturn previous convictions. And there will be a process for that that we will set up in a responsible way.”

If Trudeau makes good on his legalization promise, Canada will be the first major (or “developed”) country to do so. (Sorry, Uruguay, you don’t count.) Even the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany, which have lax laws, haven’t fully legalized sale, cultivation, and recreational use.

National implementation, of course, is complicated, given taxation levels, potential home grows, and impaired driving rules, and could take up to a year to create. And of course there’s the possibility Trudeau’s plans might piss off the U.S. government. “The biggest concern I always had was the thickening of the border and being off-side with the United States,” Trudeau noted about his plans. “I do not see this as a slippery slope. . . . I see this as an issue of legislators slowly catching up to where public opinion and public behavior actually is.”

While America is taking a slow-but-not-so-sure state-by-state approach to legalization, there are myriad benefits to doing it at the national level. By listing cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic under federal law, the U.S. government maintains roadblocks related to interstate commerce, banking, insurance, and federal tax codes. It also is delaying scientific research on its medicinal uses, and leaving organic standards and oversight to individual states.

Given our 3,987-mile border with Canada, we can either build a wall to keep Canadian potheads out, or legalize it ourselves. The choice is quite clear.

Cannabis Correspondence

Tips and pointers for your Halloweed.

Time once again to answer Stoner Mail! Given the season, I’m going with a Halloween theme.

I’m worried about some idiot putting weed-laced candy in my kid’s stash-bag on Halloween. I know a lot of the urban legends about razor blades in apples were bunk, but this genuinely scares me. Should it? —Bryan, Bothell

There are plenty of things for parents to worry about, but having your child get his or her grubby hands on marijuana-laced candy should be low on your priority list. While I do despise cannabis edibles that look like kids’ candy (there’s no reason for ganja gummy bears or Reefer’s Peanut Butter Cups), we’ve now had three years of trick-or-treating in legal weed states—and not one incident involving THC-laden candy disguised as store-bought. There are, of course, plenty of items that can kill yer kid, but pot’s not one: Aspirin killed 7,500 Americans last year, peanuts another 100. Hell, since 2010, poison-control-center hotlines have seen a 400 percent increase in calls in which whippersnappers got drunk on hand sanitizer! Selfieskilled four people this year, vending machines another three! And those colorful laundry-detergent pods that actually look like candy have poisoned 17,200 children under the age of 6 in the past year—so I’d definitely check the Halloween bag for those suckers!

Speaking of suckers: Every Jolly Rancher, every Almond Joy, and every kernel of that disgusting caramel corn that your kids chow down is made from sugar—which not only increases cavities and weight gain, but is proven to raise blood pressure as well as increase the chances for cardiovascular mortality—which means death. Spooooky!

Finally, even if some idiot does spend a ton of money and hand out weed-laced lollipops, brownies, or gummy bears, let’s remember this: No one ever has died from marijuana. Not. One. Person. Happy Halloween. Enjoy it.

Very few kids ever come down our dark, scary alley to trick or treat on Halloween, so there’s always a massive amount of leftover candy. My girlfriend and me use the leftover stash for when we get the munchies the rest of the year. So the question is, what do we buy?Soon-to-Be-Gorging George, Georgetown

You do know you don’t have to eat all the leftover candy, right? HA! Just kidding! Of course you do! It’s an American tradition. Though my personal favorites are Twizzlers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Twix bars, your smartest move might be something healthier. And no, I’m not talking about giving out kale chips; this isn’t Russia. They make mini-packs of tasty and healthy stuff like Pirate’s Booty, gluten-free kettle corn, string cheese, Goldfish crackers, even bags of Halloween-themed carrots (renamed Scarrots for the season!). You could also skip the sugar-laden bombs all together and hand out spooky stickers, glow sticks, spider rings, terrifying temporary tattoos, or skeleton-shaped Post-It notes. I’d go with the Twizzlers. God. I love Twizzlers . . . If you really want to be PC, participate in the Halloween Candy Buyback, an organization that buys excess candy from kids and ships it to our troops overseas (along with toothbrushes).

My 9-year-old daughter wants to be a giant marijuana leaf for Halloween. It’s legal now. What do you think? —Mary, Maple Leaf

I think you should think about whether you’d want your kid dressing up as a vodka bottle, Lotto ticket, RedBull can, AK-47, Viagra pill, or pack of Winston Lights. While marijuana is safer than all those, the point is that none are for kids; in addition, a child of 9 may not understand the larger implications of dressing like a plant that can get you stoned out of your mind and is not great for the developing brain. Same with Cheech & Chong costumes, bigger-than-life bongs, or giant overinflated bags of weed. No, no, and no.

You could have your girl dress up as Charlotte Figi, age 9, whose epileptic seizures were greatly reduced through the use of a high-CBD and low-THC cannabis extract (and who now has a famous strain, Charlotte’s Web, named after her), which led to new medical-marijuana laws across the land. But a better idea is to have a conversation with your daughter about how, while the marijuana plant is extremely beautiful (as are the opium poppy, coca, and agave plants), cannabis is for grown-ups. Then make her into a sunflower, a rose, or, if she’s still feeling badass, poison ivy, a black dahlia, or a Venus flytrap. Everyone loves those—and you won’t get her tossed out of school in case she wants to wear it to class.

Wacky Weed Wire

News that’s stranger than fiction.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” That’s a Hunter S. Thompson quote, and absolutely applies to the latest news related to marijuana and its legalization. Much of it is so weird, in fact, ya just can’t make this shit up.

A group of Bigfoot hunters (seriously) were in search of their nonexistent furry friend in a Wildlife Management Area in Texas last month when they came across a giant crop of weeds in the woods. The hidden garden, northeast of Dallas, had almost 6,500 mature plants, worth around $6.5 million, on an acre of land. Turns out the Delta County Sheriff’s department had been scoping the ganja farm to bust the guerrilla growers, but when the Bigfoot team accidentally stumbled onto the scene, they ruined the police operation-in-progress. (Probably the same reason these buffoons haven’t nabbed Yeti yet.) Had the coppers been able to bust the black-market growers—who had set up generators, camouflaging tents, and watering systems—they would have faced felony charges with fines of up to $50,000 and 99 years in the slammer. Who knew Bigfoot has such a big green thumb!

It is possible, of course, that Bigfoot himself (herself?) was the giant sharecropper; after all, if the legend is true, there’s no creature on Earth quite so stealthy. Now that I think of it, someone should come up with Bigfoot Bud (Gigantopithecus OG ?): The stuff’s so powerful, it will make you disappear . . .

Hell, if Costco and Safeway can pair shopping with gas stations, why not a weed shop? This month a Colorado chain of pot stores, Native Roots, is trying out a new business model, opening a dispensary next to a gas station. The two are side by side with a separate entrance for the dispensary, which must follow all the rules and restrictions for cannabis businesses (21 and over, etc.). “It’s really just kind of pairing the convenience in one specific stop,” noted company spokesperson Tia Mattson.

Gas & Grass hopes eventually to have several locations, with a uniform look and common merchandise—kind of like a Quik Mart, but instead of 5-year-old hot dogs, hunting caps, and fingerless gloves, it will be stocked with prime dank. Of course, given the onset of the munchies, Gas & Grass outlets will be fully stocked with stoned supplies such as Doritos, lighters, Gatorade, BlowPops, and donuts galore. “I believe we’ll have lottery tickets, beverages, cigarettes, and similar things that you would pick up in a convenience store,” Mattson said. One thing that will not be allowed: gassing up while firing up. (Ka-boom!)

Last month the District of Columbia State Fair hosted the country’s first official Cannabis Competition at a fairgrounds. Showcased alongside blue-ribbon home brews, knitted sweaters, and longest vegetables was priceless pot! The display was sponsored by a group called Let’sGrowDC, which runs a retail garden-supply store and educational center for urban gardens.

The Best Bud contest was taken quite seriously by the panel of judges, who rated the pot on the growing process, aroma, snap of the stem, stickiness (I’m not kidding), and appearance. If you’re wondering why it wasn’t judged on potency, that may have had to do with the setting (family-friendly with kids and all) and the fact that 64 different strains were submitted. The winner? “Capital Chronic OG” from green thumb Kenneth Gore, who took home a blue ribbon (shoulda been green) and a $50 certificate to Mellow Mushroom pizza parlor.

The real reason it was so important for the DC State Fair to encourage cannabis agriculture had less to do with boasting rights for the prizewinners and more to do with logistics. Though marijuana was legalized in D.C. in February (with over 70 percent support), no recreational stores or sales of any kind are allowed; residents are allowed, however, to grow their own or “gift” weed to one another. And because it’s illegal to transport cannabis across state lines, any and all marijuana consumed in D.C. must be grown there. Any tips from green-ribbon ganja farmers, therefore, were greatly appreciated by the greensmen in attendance. Given the number of entrants, a gardening boom for bud has clearly taken place in our nation’s capital. After the fair, Let’sGrowDC gave out more than 30 clippings that attendees could use to grow prizewinning plants of their own. Now that’s what I call a shared economy!

Finally, in the craziest news item of all, new stats on marijuana arrests in 2014 were released last week by the FBI. Given the ever-growing support for legalization not only in the four legal states but across the land, you’d expect a huge reduction in pot arrests nationwide, right? Sadly, in 2014, more than 640,000 Americans were arrested for cannabis-related offenses. That breaks down to 1,700 people per day, meaning that someone in the U.S. is arrested for marijuana use or possession every 42 seconds.

Thankfully, here in Washington, arrests have dropped dramatically—which is fab until you look at nationwide numbers and see that, as a percentage of total arrests, the number of marijuana busts is going up, not down; more than one in 20 arrests overall are for the possession of ganja—a stat putting it near the all-time high. It would be one thing if cops had nothing better to do, but as thousands of officers take themselves off the streets each day to detain and book men and women for pot possession, serious crimes are back-burnered. According to the FBI’s own stats, over half the country’s violent crimes in 2014—such as murder, assault, and rape—are not being solved. So, big picture: As far as legalization goes, we’ve got a long, long way to go.

Marijuana, the Potformance-Enhancing Drug

Calling out cannabis testing in sports.

Mixed-martial-arts superstar Ronda Rousey is obviously, pound for pound, the most kick-ass fighter in the world, and not to be messed with. She has also ignited a firestorm with her articulate and accurate attack on the idiocy of marijuana testing in her sport. “Rowdy” Rousey made her argument when her friend and training partner, Nick Diaz, was suspended for five years by the Nevada Athletic Association after testing positive for pot.

“I’m sorry, but it’s so not right for him to be suspended five years for marijuana,” Rousey said at a UFC press conference in Melbourne last week. “If one person tests for steroids, that could actually hurt a person, and the other person smokes a plant that makes him happy, and he gets suspended for five years. Whereas a guy who could hurt someone gets a slap on the wrist.”

To make matters worse, UFC fighter Diaz, a popular star in his prime, has a valid medical-marijuana card (from California) and stated he was using medical marijuana for ADHD as well as pain management (of which there is plenty in his brutal full-contact sport). In an absurd side note, Diaz was suspended after a match with the great Anderson Silva, who also failed a drug test—for steroid use. Silva’s punishment? One year. Diaz was suspended for five for having weed in his system—though to be fair, it was the third time in his career Diaz had tested positive for marijuana, making him perhaps not the sharpest tool in the UFC shed. For Diaz, 32, a five-year penalty is essentially a lifetime ban in a sport that takes its toll (and, in my opinion, should be outlawed, along with boxing, NASCAR, motocross, and tackle football).

The whole idea of drug-testing athletes is to see if they’re using substances that may give them a competitive advantage in their chosen sport. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that cannabis is hardly a performance-enhancing drug (at least until couch-surfing becomes an Olympic sport). Diaz has claimed to use cannabis to heal his body between matches. The World Anti-Doping Agency—one of the many institutions drug-testing MMA athletes—states in its rules that marijuana may not be used “during competition”—and thus it’s quite possible Diaz was not in violation, but still had THC in his system from previous use. (A small amount of marijuana is allowed in the urine samples WADA tests, but one of the three samples taken from Diaz the day of the fight had more THC than is considered acceptable.)

Plenty of athletes over the years have admitted to using marijuana, not as a PED but to relax and unwind—including the world’s greatest runner, Usain Bolt; NBA stars Chris Weber and Allen Iverson; beefcake Arnold Schwarzenegger; and swimming god Michael Phelps.

As in martial arts and boxing, NFL players do a lot of head-banging, and use ganja to manage pain, stress relief, depression, and even help repair neurological damage. And they also get suspended for it. In addition to the dozens of players who have been sent to substance-abuse programs for testing positive for pot, long suspensions were recently given to receivers Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns) and Martavis Bryant (Pittsburgh Steelers) for firing up. Funny thing about the NFL: They have two separate drug policies—one for PEDs and another for recreational drugs.

Since Washington state legalized cannabis for recreational purposes, our Seattle Seahawks should be able to fire up for fun and not be fined (or suspended) for it, right? Sorry—the commish isn’t going for that. (Though a nonprofit called the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition is working to allow medical marijuana to treat ailments for NFL players.) Thing is, if ganja can give professional athletes relief—from joint pain, headaches and concussions, lack of sleep, soreness, and muscle inflammation—they should have it available. If nothing else, it will give these athletes much-needed liver relief after being prescribed a plethora of addictive and highly toxic painkillers and sleep aids by team doctors.

The only organization that seems to be getting it right on marijuana is the Olympics! The World Anti-Doping Agency (good Lord, does everyone use the same lab?) is responsible for drug-testing athletes who are training and participating in Olympic competitions all over the globe. While cannabis is on the agency’s list of prohibited substances (though not explicitly banned by the International Olympic Committee), they recently upped the allowable amount of THC in an athlete’s system from 15 ng/mL to 150—most likely because they didn’t like the idea of suspending 90 percent of their prime snowboarders and skiers.

The WADA lists various competitive advantages of each drug on their Prohibition List. For cannabis, these include “better focus” and “diminished stress.” Now that I think of it, this may be an advantage in synchronized swimming, dressage, canoe slalom, racewalking, trampoline, and whatever the hell a steeplechase is.

Rules on cannabis and sporting should obviously be changed, and, like full legalization, this will ultimately need to take place at the national level. Nick Diaz had a valid and legal (in California) use for medical marijuana, but ran into a state (and a Commission) that invalidated his legitimate needs. We’ll give the great Rowdy Ronda Rousey the last word on the subject: ”I’m against testing for weed at all. It’s not a performance enhancing drug. And it has nothing to do with competition. It’s only tested for political reasons,” said the champ. “I think we should free Nick Diaz.”