Illegal weed market shrinks

Yes, dear reader. Here we are, together again, permanently entwined through eternal recurrence. We can comfort ourselves with the fact that things are always the same—even when they change.

For years cannabis advocates have claimed that the legalization of cannabis would lead to less cannabis-related cartel crime and an end to demands for black market marijuana from Mexico. Well, the results are apparently in, and Congress’ very own think tank has verified the theories.

In July the Congressional Research Service reported that, thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns and the expansion of legal cannabis markets, American and Mexican authorities are now reporting a lower U.S. demand for illegal marijuana. The report’s authors projected that the trend will continue as more states move to legalize this year. “This is also the case due to legalized cannabis or medical cannabis in several U.S. states and Canada, reducing its value as part of Mexican trafficking organizations’ portfolio.” The report also points out that Mexico is currently discussing cannabis legalization and regulation.

Maybe people feel less comfortable meeting with strangers during this pandemic and are willing to eschew whatever benefits they feel they’ve been getting from illicit cannabis purchases to buy from dispensaries instead. Maybe it’s the fact that legal weed gets cheaper every quarter. Last year’s vaping injury scare—which was found to be tied almost exclusively to black market THC cartridges—might also have helped by making the dangers of unregulated cannabis products a reality for more users.

Whatever the reasons, the legal cannabis boom in the U.S. is contributing to the general deterioration of Mexican cartels. Low sales figures, leadership losses and fragmentation of the traditional crime families have apparently taken their toll in the last decade. The report says that extreme violence has erupted to the south as small splinter groups are fighting each other for dwindling power.

Most Consumers Prefer Lower THC

A new study has found that most cannabis users prefer to avoid high-THC concentrates.

The journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence just published a paper written by researchers from the University of Arizona that found cannabis users consumed more flower than concentrates and purchased more flower with THC volume between 9 and 20 percent than other options.

This contradicts anecdotal evidence that users are consuming ever higher amounts of THC across America. While it’s true that producers have begun making concentrates with THC levels that peak above 90 percent in recent years, the study found that the average consumer is still more interested in using mid-level flower than concentrates.

This could be explained by an increase of negative side effects alongside THC content. Feelings of anxiety or paranoia that may not be noticeable at low levels of THC consumption could potentially become more prominent and unpleasant with increased doses.

The study participants were cannabis users who were familiar with both dry flower and concentrates. Negative effects from both forms of the drug were reportedly slight, “suggesting that extreme negative effects are unlikely for regular cannabis users,” concluded the authors.

Overall participants reported experiencing more positive health effects from consuming flower than concentrates, and the study’s authors concluded that this was the main difference between the two forms of consumption.

The study could go a long way toward confirming what cannabis enthusiasts have labeled the “entourage effect”—a synergistic relationship between cannabinoids that theoretically makes their effects more powerful when used in conjunction rather than individually.

It also raises questions about whether THC is the actual chemical in cannabis that users associate with being high—as we’ve been told these many decades. It’s very likely that some other cannabinoid (or the combined effort of a number of cannabinoids) is the real culprit behind feeling stoned.

And maybe it isn’t a specific compound or combination at all. Maybe each user has their own definition of what “feeling high” is like, which would explain why some prefer one terpene profile over another.