Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) for the Cannabis Industry: Part 4

In Part 3 of this series on HACCP, Critical Control Points (CCPs), validation of CCPs and monitoring of CCPs were defined. When a HACCP plan identifies the correct CCP, validates the CCP as controlling the hazard and monitors the CCP, a potential hazard is controlled in the manufacturing and packaging of cannabis-infused edibles. The food industry is big on documentation. If it’s not documented, it did not happen. The written hazard analysis, validation study and monitoring of CCPs create necessary records. It is these records that will prove to a customer, auditor or inspector that the edible is safe. Here in Part 4, more recordkeeping is added on for deviation from a CCP, verification and a recall plan. 

Take Corrective Action When There Is a Deviation from a Critical Control Point

Your food safety team conducts a hazard analysis, identifies CCPs and decides on monitoring devices, frequency and who is responsible for monitoring. You create an electronic or paper record of the monitoring for every batch of edible to document critical limits were met. Despite all your good efforts, something goes wrong. Maybe you lose power. Maybe the equipment jams. Nothing is perfect when dealing with ingredients, equipment and personnel. Poop happens. Because you are prepared before the deviation, your employees know what to do. With proper training, the line worker knows what to do with the equipment, the in-process product and who to inform. In most cases the product is put on hold for evaluation, and the equipment is fixed to keep running. The choices for the product include release, rework or destroy. Every action taken needs to be recorded on a corrective action form and documents attached to demonstrate the fate of the product on hold. All the product from the batch must be accounted for through documentation. If the batch size is 100 lb, then the fate of 100 lb must be documented.

Verify Critical Control Points Are Monitored and Effective

First, verification and validation are frequently confused by the best of food safety managers. Validation was discussed as part of determining CCPs in Part 3. Validation proves that following a CCP is the right method for safety. I call validation, “one and done.” Validation is done once for a CCP; while verification is ongoing at a CCP. For example, the time and temperature for effective milk pasteurization is very well known and dairies refer to the FDA Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. Dairies do not have to prove over and over that a combination of time and temperature is effective (validation), because that has been proven.

I encourage you to do as much as you can to prepare for a recall.A CCP is monitored to prove the safety parameters are met. Pasteurization is an example of the most commonly monitored parameters of time and temperature. At a kill step like pasteurization, the employee at that station is responsible for accurate monitoring of time and temperature. The company managers and owners should feel confident that CCPs have been identified and data are being recorded to prove safety. Verification is not done by the employee at the station but by a supervisor or manager. The employee at the station is probably not a member of the food safety team that wrote the HACCP plan, but the supervisor or manager that performs verification may be. Verification is proving that what was decided by the food safety team is actually implemented and consistently done.

Verification is abundant and can be very simple. First, every record associated with a CCP is reviewed by a supervisor or manager, i.e. someone who did not create the record. This can be a simple initial and date at the bottom of the record. Every corrective action form with its associated evaluation is verified in the same way. When HACCP plans are reviewed, that is verification. Verification activities include 1) testing the concentration of a sanitizer, 2) reviewing Certificates of Analysis from suppliers, 3) a review of the packaging label and 4) all chemical and microbiological testing of ingredients and product. The HACCP plan identifies CCPs. Verification confirms that implementation is running according to the plan.

Verification is like a parent who tells their child to clean their room. The child walks to their room and later emerges to state that the room is clean. The parent can believe the word of the child, if the child has been properly trained and has a history of successfully cleaning their room. At some frequency determined by the parent, the room will get a parental visual check. This is verification. In the food industry, CCP monitoring records and corrective action must be reviewed within seven days after the record is created and preferably before the food leaves the facility. Other verification activities are done in a timely manner as determined by the company.

Food processing and sanitation
Product recalls due to manufacturing errors in sanitation cause mistrust among consumers.

Write a Recall Plan

In the food industry, auditors and FDA inspectors require a written recall plan. Mock recalls are recommended and always provide learning and improvement to systems. Imagine your edible product contains sugar, and your sugar supplier notifies you that the sugar is recalled due to glass pieces. Since you are starting with the supplier, that is one step back. Your documentation of ingredients includes lot numbers, dates and quantity of sugar.You keep good records and they show you exactly how much of the recalled lot was received. Next you gather your batch records. Batches with the recalled sugar are identified, and the total amount of recalled sugar is reconciled. You label every batch of your edible with a lot code, and you identify the amount of each affected lot and the customer. You have a press release template in which you add the specific information about the recall and affected lots. You notify every customer where the affected edible was shipped with a plan to return or destroy the edible. When you notify your customers, you go one step forward.

How would your company do in this situation? I have witnessed the difficulties a company faces in a recall when I was brought in to investigate the source of a pathogen. Food safety people in my workshops who have worked through a recall tell me that it was the worst time of their life. I encourage you to do as much as you can to prepare for a recall. Here are two good resources:

  • Chapter 15 in the Participant Manual of the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule Warning! The manual is over 500 pages, so be careful what you print. It can be purchased for only $30 by following the link to the bookstore.
  • The Food Recall Manual of the University of Florida Extension Another warning! The manual is 134 pages.

Please comment on this blog post below. I love feedback!

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The Best Duds To Hide Your Buds

Hopefully, you’re relishing unprecedented new freedoms when it comes to smoking, vaping, and eating herb in 2018. But all it takes is one fascist bouncer or dedicated narc standing sentry at the door to a show to arbitrarily detach you from your stash.

To ensure this calamitous scenario never happens to you, good reader, we’ve gone and sussed out the best clothes for concealing your shit. We’re talking about covert compartments, secret pockets, and underwear you’ve simply got to see. Real cloak-and-dagger material to ensure you complete your mission of getting thoroughly baked. Wherever life should take you.

The Best Duds To Hide Your Buds

Courtesy of Rolla Wear

Rolla Wear’s “Dopest Hoodie Ever Made” has a hidden stash pocket built into its hood, along with roach clips for drawstring tips and a suru board for rolling doobs in its front pocket. Perhaps most conveniently, it’s also a hoodie.

$59.95, Rolla Wear

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German Health Insurer Issues First Look at Impact of Medical Cannabis

If anyone (read Auslanders) had any illusions that the German take on medical cannabis was going to be casual or unscientific if not painstakingly documented, think again.

Techniker Krankenkasse (or TK as it is referred to by the locals) is one of Germany’s largest public health insurance companies. In other words, it is a private company that is required to provide so called “statutory” health insurance which covers 90% of Germans.

As such, they are also on the front lines now of the medical cannabis debate. Approximately one year after the new law requiring public health insurance companies like TK to reimburse cannabis claims went into effect, the company has just issued what would surely be a best-seller if it were being sold.All of the medical cannabis now being prescribed and reimbursed is coming from abroad.

The Cannabis Report, as it is titled, produced with the help of professors at the University of Bremen, is also the first of its kind. In its pages, along with the corporate summary produced for the recent press conference in Berlin, are several fascinating snapshots of what is going on.

By the numbers.

The Cannabis Report

For those who cannot understand German, this summary by Business Insider is quite educational. Here are the major takeaways: There are now almost 16,000 German patients who are receiving some kind of medical cannabis by prescription. From a doctor. These patients are also paying about $12 for their monthly supplies – even if they have to wait for reimbursement. This is in contrast to the 1,100 patients who managed to obtain cannabis by prescription and pay for it themselves before the law changed last spring.

Do the math and that is a 1,450% uptick. Add in the additional 15,000 left out of this report who are getting cannabis prescribed but their claims turned down, and that is an even more amazing story.

Cannabis ReportHere is the next obvious fact: All of the medical cannabis now being prescribed and reimbursed is coming from abroad. A significant amount is still coming from Holland. The rest? Canada.

For that reason, the cost of medical cannabis is a major concern, along with the medical efficacy of cannabis and the authors’ frustrations about dosing.

The most interesting takeaway? Chronic pain and spasticity arehigh on the list of prescriptions (MS is currently the only condition which is “on label” for cannabis). So is Epilepsy and AIDS. Most interestingly are the high numbers for ADD. This is also highly significant in a country where amphetamine prescriptions for the same are almost unheard of.

TK, like the other health insurers who have started to provide numbers, also approved approximately two thirds of the requests they received. And it has cost them $2.7 million. That bill will begin to reduce as Germany cultivates medical cannabis domestically. However, the tender bid, which now apparently includes 11 contenders, is still undecided, with growing apparently pushed off now until (at the earliest) sometime next summer.

The bottom line, however, in the report from Socium, a university-based think tank that focuses on social inequality, is that cannabis is a drug that should also be treated like any other medication. Even though study authors conclude that so far, they do not find cannabis to be as “effective” as other drugs, they clearly state that the drug does help patients.

An Equally Interesting Industry Snapshot

Flip to page 20, however, and the authors also confirm something else. The top companies providing medical cannabis to German publicly insured patients who are getting reimbursed are Bedrocan, Aurora andCanopy. Aurora’s brands clock in at the highest percentage of THC, although their German importer Pedianos, clearly offers a range of products that start at less than 1% and increase to 22%. MedCann GmbH (renamed Spektrum last year) is essentially providing the rest, and ranges of THC at least, that go from 5.4%-16.5%. They also provide the products with the highest percentages of CBD.

Page 20 of the Cannabis Report produced by TK
Page 20 of the Cannabis Report produced by TK

Unlike the other companies, Canopy’s “brands” are also showing up in ostensibly both medical and government reports (Houndstooth, Penelope, Princeton and Argyle). This is interesting primarily because the German government (and regulatory requirements) tends to genericize medications as much as possible.

Dosing, Impact, Results

The next page of the report is also fascinating. Namely a snapshot of what kind of cannabis is being prescribed and at what doses. Patients who are obtaining cannabis flower are getting up to 3 grams a day. Dronabinol, in stark contrast (which is still the only form of the drug many German patients are able to get), is listed at 30mg.

Unlike any corporate report so far, the study also discusses consumption methods (including, charmingly, tea). It is impossible to forget, reading this, how German and structured this data collection has clearly been. There are several fairly stern referrals to the fact that cannabis should not just be prescribed for “vague” (read psychological) conditions but rather aspecific symptomology (muscle spasms and severe pain).

There is also great interest in how flower differs from pills. And how long the effects last (according to the authors, effects kick in about 2-15 minutes after dosing and last for 4 hours). This is, of course, an accurate picture of what happens to just about every patient, in every country. What is striking, particularly to anyone with an American perspective, is how (refreshingly) clinical much of this basic data collection and discussion is.

And no matter how much the authors call for more research, they clearly have observed that cannabis can have positive, and in many cases, dramatic impacts on patients. According to the handy graphs which are understandable to English speakers, study authors find significant evidence that the drug significantly helps patients with severe pain and or muscle spasms – see MS and Epilepsy, AIDS patients with wasting syndrome and paraplegics (wheelchair bound individuals). Authors list the “strong possibility” that the drug can help with Tourette’s and ADHD. Fascinatingly, however, so far, German researchers are not impressed with the efficacy of the drug for Glaucoma. “Psychological” and psychiatric conditions are also low on the list.

Regardless, this is an important line in the sand. As is the clear evidence that cannabis has efficacy as medication.

The great German cannabis science experiment, in other words, is well underway. And further, already starting to confirm that while many questions remain, and more research is required, this is a drug that is not only here to stay, but now within reach of the vast majority of the population.

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Inside Washington DC’s Pop-Up Marijuana Markets

Though Washington D.C.’s marijuana laws are far from complete, cannabis policy in our nation’s capital has long been at a standstill. In D.C., you can smoke marijuana in private residences, own a small amount of weed, and grow marijuana plants at home. You cannot, however, buy or sell marijuana. So how are people who don’t want to grow their own herb getting weed? Despite federal restrictions, marijuana pop-up markets that ‘gift’ rather than sell weed are flourishing throughout the district. Here’s a closer look at D.C.’s underground marijuana community and the legislation keeping Mary Jane in the dark.

Initiative 71 Legalized Weed Possession and Little Else

Inside Washington DC's Pop Up Marijuana Markets

David Berkowitz/flickr

I-71 legalized recreational marijuana. This means that anyone over 21 can have 2 ounces of weed, grow six plants (three flowering at a time, technically), give 1 ounce of weed away without receiving payment, and smoke in a private home.

Since I-71 passed in 2015, legislators haven’t proposed a system for regulating and taxing marijuana. This is largely due to federal, rather than district politics. Shortly after D.C. approved marijuana legislation, the federal government passed a law that prevents the D.C. city council from holding a hearing to reschedule marijuana.

According to the Home Rule Act, Congress has to approve all legislation passed by D.C.’s council. This means that unlike other states that can pass their own legislation, D.C. needs federal approval. Without a Democratic majority in Congress, progress in marijuana laws is impossible.

In fact, the bill that permits marijuana possession only squeaked through because Congress didn’t approve a federal budget on time and missed the 30 day review period. To top it all off, D.C. doesn’t have any senators, so they have no representation federally.

This means that buying or producing commercial quantities of weed is still illegal, and will be for a while.

The Pop-Up Loophole

Inside Washington DC's Pop Up Marijuana Markets

Stay Regular/Pexels

Vendors have taken advantage of these ambiguous laws. Since they are tenuously legal, cannabis pop-ups have taken off in a big way.

“Pretty much every single night of the week, there’s a cannabis popup going on,” Nikolas Schiller, co-founder of marijuana advocacy organization DCMJ, told High Times. Since it’s illegal to sell weed, vendors will sell all sorts of other products ranging from food to stickers to motivational speeches. Along with it, you’ll receive a ‘gift’ of marijuana.

You’re not paying for marijuana, so the transaction isn’t technically illegal (though some would beg to differ). Only if the marijuana market occurs in a public space can the police shut it down. Lately, the District has been cracking down on markets so almost all occur in private home rather than bars.

Smoking and gifting inside are fair game. According to Nikolas Schiller, “the smell of cannabis is not probable cause for an officer to conduct a search.” The only way the police can enter a cannabis market held in a private home is if people are smoking outside. They can also intercept vendors bringing large amounts of cannabis from a car into a private home if they exceed the maximum cannabis possession laws.

A Look Inside D.C.’s Underground Network of Vendors

Inside Washington DC's Pop Up Marijuana Markets

High Octane Treats/Instagram

A vendor who goes by DNice runs High Octane Treats, an Initiative 71 compliant company. He explained that they sell Pokémon cards and bracelets. As a gift, you can receive edibles, flower concentrates or, according to DNice, “the best tinctures in the DC area.” They’ve even gifted cannabis-infused eggnog, alcohol free-champagne, and something they call “Death in a Jar”: brownie, caramel, and cheesecake infused with marijuana.

High Octane Treats has appeared at these pop-ups every night of the week for the past year. On a weeknight, these markets can hit 200 to 300 attendees, but on the weekend they can even reach 350 or more. On 4/20, DNice says that over 700 people filtered in and out of the market where he was set up.

Though there are hundreds of these vendors, DNice sees High Octane Treats as doing something different. “Before you leave us, you’re going to be educated on what cannabis is,” he told High Times. “You’re not just getting a gift.”

From this founder’s perspective, cannabis is not only a medicine but a promoter of peace. He clarifies, “There’s no dress code [at pop-up markets] … it’s awesome in there and there’s no violence. And that’s what we don’t get credit for.” DNice compared the ethos of acceptance at marijuana markets to toxic drinking culture, especially with state employees. “You’ve got people drinking alcohol every day, leave a government job, go drink at the bar, leave that bar drunk, drive home, and go back to work every day,” He explains. “We don’t talk about those things.”

How To Find A Pop-Up Market Any Night of the Week

Inside Washington DC's Pop Up Marijuana Markets

High Octane Treats/Instagram

The best way to find out about what marijuana markets are happening today is through Instagram. Accounts that list themselves as “Initiative 71 compliant” or advertise that “Nothing is for sale” are most-likely gifting weed.

Most vendors suggest direct messaging them, and can confirm their location in advance.

If you spend any time trolling Instagram for weed, you’ll notice that there’s an overwhelming number of options. A few websites are dedicated to reviewing these vendors, like 420dc.

The Confusing Reality of D.C.’s Marijuana Laws

Inside Washington DC's Pop Up Marijuana Markets

Dank Depot/flickr

Washington D.C.’s inability to craft much-needed marijuana legislation is symptomatic of larger inequality. The capital has little autonomy from the Federal government. Lawmakers from all 50 states can influence D.C.’s budget and, through it, the laws they pass.

In the meantime, marijuana entrepreneurs and enthusiasts are upholding a longstanding tradition. They continue to use legal loopholes to buy, sell and smoke weed. And with the increasing demand for cannabis, marijuana markets are big business.

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Here are the Headliners for This Year’s NorCal Cannabis Cup

The Sacramento Cannabis Cup is this weekend, and though that kind flower is the focus, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t put together a killer lineup for you. Toke up, there’s a lot of good music headed your way.

Here are the Headliners for This Year’s NorCal Cannabis Cup

High Times

Phil Lesh

Founding Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh toplines the bill this year, and any jam band fan knows just how great he can be live. Deadheads and casual fans alike won’t want to miss him.

Here are the Headliners for This Year’s NorCal Cannabis Cup

High Times

Blues Traveler

Another Jam Band icon, Blue Traveler, will be playing Sunday. They’re still rocking like the were in the 80s, so definitely carve out some time for them.

Here are the Headliners for This Year’s NorCal Cannabis Cup

High Times

G. Love & Special Sauce

Laid back alt-blues rocker G. Love takes the stage Sunday to give you those tasty Bob Dylan vibes.

Here are the Headliners for This Year’s NorCal Cannabis Cup

High Times

Arrested Development

The canceled-too-soon Fox sitcom occasionally made reference to Arrested Development — in fact, the positivity-based, alt-hip hop group took their name far before the show, as far back as the 80s. If you know them, you love them. And if you don’t, you’re about to.

Here are the Headliners for This Year’s NorCal Cannabis Cup

High Times

Miguel

LA-born R&B singer Miguel will be playing both Saturday and Sunday, so you have no excuse not to go listen and get lost in his soulful eyes.

Here are the Headliners for This Year’s NorCal Cannabis Cup

High Times

Animal Liberation Orchestra

Not enough jam bands for you? It’s your lucky day. ALO has just been added to the lineup and will most definitely be playing a show you won’t forget. Unless, you know, you get too stoned and then forget.

For more information and updates, follow us on social media and keep tuning in to CannabisCup.com. You can also check out the full schedule below. We’re adding new, exciting, elevated experiences to the event all the time. See you soon!

 

 

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After Police Crackdowns, Copenhagen’s Weed Dealers May Be in Peril

Copenhagen’s weed dealers may be in peril after five straight days of police crackdowns. Every day since Friday of last week, law enforcement officers have raided the infamous Pusher Street in Denmark’s capital. The well-known but illegal cannabis market is located in an alternative community known as Christiania. Squatters founded the hippie enclave on a retired military base in 1971.

Although the recreational use of cannabis is illegal in Denmark, vendors on Pusher Street regularly sell cannabis and related items from stalls in an open-air market. In the past, law enforcement has allowed Pusher Street to exist without too much interference. Police busted the area frequently, but ineffectively. With scouts nearby to tip off the dealers to police activity, raids were usually followed by a quick rebuilding of the marketplace. But that changed on May 31, when the current rash of raids began. Since then, police have arrested pot dealers and dismantled their makeshift shops on a daily basis.

Police Raids Having Their Effect

Deputy Chief Superintendent Lars Ole-Karlsen commands a special police unit that is conducting the raids. He told local media that his team’s efforts are beginning to show results. As police continue their raids and close down the pot stalls, fewer and fewer vendors are choosing to rebuild. He also noted that the shops that return are becoming less elaborate.

“We can state that, where on Friday there were 33 fully functioning stalls built with timber and plywood, the stands are now much more primitive. They are made of milk crates, and there are hardly any of them,” he said.

But at least some of Pusher Street’s weed and hash dealers are changing their tactics. After some vendors began selling their wares from bicycles, Ole-Karlsen warned that they were also in jeopardy.

“Our hope is that they are getting the message. Things like [bicycles] used for shady business will be confiscated,” he said.

Lawmaker Calls for Legalization

But some Danes don’t agree with stepped-up enforcement and believe that a change in drug policy is in order. MP Henrik Sass Larsen, of the Social Democrat party, has called for the legalization of cannabis and other drugs. He said in an interview that the war on drugs has been a “complete fiasco.”

“Everything we’ve done in the last 50 years has been in vain,” Larsen said. “There are not fewer people using or abusing drugs. Every school child knows where they can get hash. It has served no other purpose than to send a whole lot of people to prison, and the volume of resources society has spent on it has exploded.”

Larsen added that his views are his own, and not the policy of the Social Democrats.

Police Vow to Stay the Course

For now, though, Ole-Karsen says police will continue the crackdown on Copenhagen’s weed dealers.

“We are continuing the strategy we have had of late, only now with more resources and thereby an intensified effort,” he said.

He also warned that police will take down any new cannabis stalls on Pusher Street.

“If the stands are rebuilt, we’ll remove them,” he said.

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Michigan’s Legalization Efforts Have an Unlikely Champion: Republicans

Some Michigan Republicans seem to be hoping to curb voter turnout in their favor by legalizing marijuana before it has the chance to appear on the state’s November ballot.

The Republican-dominated state Legislature has until June 5 to decide whether to pass the measure, which would not require the governor’s signature. If legal weed moves forward without a public vote, it would also be easier to amend without voter input.

Matthew Abel, executive director of Michigan NORML and attorney at Detroit-based Cannabis Counsel, P.L.C. says his group supports legalization, and the sooner the better.

“While we think it unlikely that the Legislature will adopt the ballot proposal, we are open to that possibility,” Abel said. “People still are being arrested daily. Some people think it would not bode well for the legislature to pass it rather than it pass by the voters, because then they only would need a simple majority to amend it, rather than 3/4 support if it passes at election.”

However, Abel added that it will likely be difficult for Legislators to reach an agreement in a lame-duck session to make serious changes. Michigan’s Republican governor is term-limited, and many state rep and senate seats are up for grabs, with a good chance of a power shift taking place, turning the state back to blue.

If Republican intention to legalize seems dubious, there’s certainly plenty of history to back up the shade. Michigan first legalized medical marijuana in 2008 in a Democratic sweep election, and since then, dispensaries, growers, caregivers, and patients have had anxiety over the logistics of when and if medical marijuana in Michigan would ever come to a close.

Various cities across the state have decriminalized the possession of less than one ounce of cannabis by a person 21 or older, including Detroit in 2012. Though in 2013, the state Supreme Court ruled that dispensaries could be subject to regular legality checks and shut down for being a public nuisance.

Roundabout 2014, Detroit exploded with dispensaries. 8 Mile Road became alive with bright green crosses, woven among the fast food joints, abandoned storefronts, and strip clubs. Entrepreneurs took advantage of this change in an area that’s been economically depressed for decades. At one point, the city itself (which has about 700,000 people) had more than 250 medical marijuana dispensaries in operation, and at the same time had but three functioning supermarkets.

Unfortunately for weed lovers around Detroit, the past two years have seen all dispensaries investigated and the majority found to be operating illegally – leaving only about 62 active, of which many are facing investigation. At least one was reported to have offered $20,000 a month to policy enforcers in order to stay in business: A lucrative business for a city which had an estimated unofficial unemployment rate of 50 percent in 2010.

Though the number of dispensaries statewide has dropped to about 215, recent polls show that the majority of citizens back legalization.

Regardless, go vote.

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Use of Toxic Pesticides Increased in California’s Illegal Weed Farms

The use of toxic chemicals like pesticides and insecticides has long been one of the biggest dangers associated with cannabis. When growers—whether legal or illegal—use harmful chemicals it can be dangerous for the local environment and for whoever ends up smoking the weed. Now, it looks like this could be a bigger problem than ever before. According to authorities, the use of toxic pesticides increased in California’s illegal weed farms in recent years.

An Alarming Trend

As per the Associated Press, researchers and federal authorities recently raised the alarm about toxic pesticides. In particular, they reported an alarming uptick in the frequency of toxic pesticides found at illegal grow sites in California.

While there are a wide range of pesticides and insecticides that can be dangerous, authorities are especially worried about one specific chemical: Carbofuran.

Carbofuran is a super potent and highly toxic chemical originally intended to kill insects that eat crops. It is incredibly poisonous and in many places where it’s used, it ends up killing much more than just insects.

It is so strong, a single grain can reportedly kill a bird. Similarly, small amounts are known to kill mammals like rats and dogs. In fact, it’s been reported that a quarter teaspoon of the chemical can kill a 300-pound bear.

Carbofuran has been banned in many countries, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union. But now, this highly dangerous chemical is showing up at illegal marijuana grow sites in California at an alarming rate.

According to the new reports, Carbofuran has been found at 72 percent of the grow site’s discovered in California last year. That represents a dramatic spike from past years. For example, the pesticide was present at only 15 percent of illegal grow sites in 2012.

Additionally, many sites have been found to use highly concentrated forms of the chemical, possibly making it even more dangerous.

Consequences of Chemical-Tainted Cannabis

Researchers and authorities are worried about the implications of so much Carbofuran being used in California’s wilderness.

For starters, these types of chemicals have long tainted cannabis that ends up getting shipped all over the country. The people who buy and consume the weed have no way of knowing what’s in the product they’re smoking or if contaminants will produce any negative side effects.

Similarly, the use of Carbofuran and other chemicals is extremely harmful to California’s environment. Insecticides and pesticides can poison waterways and kill fish. Similarly, these types of chemicals can end up killing mass amounts of birds.

And when chemicals are used in concentrated forms, it takes longer to break down. This increases the chance that larger animals might ingest the chemicals.

In particular, many researchers have expressed concern that chemicals like Carbofuran could cause significant harm to a small, carnivorous mammal called the fisher, which is highly endangered in the state. There are only a few hundred of these animals left in California, and illegal grow sites have been a contributing factor in their disappearance.

After discovering the prevalence of Carbofuran, law enforcement and environmental agencies are working to crack down on illegal grow sites. California state officials and federal officials said they will team up in the effort. Additionally, $2.5 million has been earmarked to find illegal grow sites.

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New Competitive Weed Cooking Show Coming to Netflix

After Netflix’s weed-themed sitcom Disjointed was abruptly canceled, the streaming service needed to find a replacement for its pot-leaf shaped hole. With marijuana’s ever-increasing prevalence in pop-culture, finding a niche show should be as easy as 1,2,3. Luckily, the streaming service, was, in fact, able to find a different kind of cannabis fun, this time, with a new competitive weed cooking show coming to Netflix in June.

High Cuisine

The show, aptly titled Cooking On High, is set to debut on June 22nd. The show will be hosted by comedian and YouTube sensation, Josh Leyva, known for his diverse array of wacky characters, viral skits, and odd challenges. He’s also starred in the movies Laid in America and Dance Camp, both of which were released back in 2016.

Joining Leyva is fellow comedian and noted cannabis activist Ngaio Bealum, who will serve as the show’s primary “culinary weed expert.” Bealum was the original host of the television series Cannabis Planet and has published the West Coast Cannabis Magazine, a non-profit cannabis magazine. He also has a weekly column in the Sacramento News & Review, where he answers readers’ questions about cannabis and the laws surrounding it.

As for the show’s format, the new-age cooking program will pit 10 chefs against each other to see who can come up with the best tasting and most creative dish for a panel of four celebrity judges. The only caveat? All of the recipes must get you stoned. That means, presumably, the chefs will also have to master the art of decarboxylation and extraction of THC, in order to ensure their dishes are both delicious and potent.

Other than the basic premise, and the castings of Leyva and Bealum, not much is known about the show, other than the fact that it’s rated 18 and over (you know, because of the whole ‘weed’ thing). Guest hosts have yet to be named, and it remains to be seen what sort of weed-infused dishes the contestants will be required to chef up. But if the show turns out to be a pot-centric version of classic competitive cooking shows like Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, or the ever-popular Cutthroat Kitchen, we should be in for quite the treat.

However, if all the contestants are as stoned as the judges figure to be, temper tantrums should be expected to be kept to a minimum.

Talk about getting ‘baked.’

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Parents Face Prison After Treating Their Son’s Seizures with Weed

To stop their son’s debilitating seizures, a family in Georgia has been giving their child smokeable marijuana as treatment. Recently, the Division of Family and Children Services gained custody of the boy and charged his parents with Reckless Conduct. Matthew and Suzeanna Brill aren’t denying that they gave their son weed. Instead, they’re arguing that marijuana is the only way to cure his seizures, no matter what the law says.

The State Took The Boy Away And Arrested His Parents

Family and Children’s Services took the Brill’s son away last month. Since the child is a minor, authorities have not shared his name or age with the public.

Now, parents Matthew and Suzeanna Brill are facing charges of Reckless Conduct from the Twiggs County sheriff’s office. They’ve been arrested for giving their son smokeable marijuana, which is illegal in their home state of Georgia.

Today, Juvenile Court contends that it’s dangerous for the son to live with his family. But his parents are fighting to get him back and avoid time behind bars.

In an interview with local news, mother Suzeanna recounts, “They [Children’s Services] showed up at my house demanding that I quit ‘abusing my son’.”

“I wasn’t abusing my son; I was taking care of my son,” she explains.

The parents aren’t keeping anything from the police or the media. At the time of the arrest, they disclosed to authorities that they were using marijuana, in its smokeable form, to treat their son’s dangerous seizures.

“We openly admitted to them … in front of Twiggs County sheriff’s deputies,” says stepfather Matthew Brill.

The Brill’s son has experienced near-constant seizures, and not much helps. “Every day. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” explains Matthew. These episodes impact every aspect of his life and pose a real threat. For instance, the Brills explain, he often has seizures in his sleep and vomits. Not only is this dangerous, but his health problems are getting in the way of his education.

Common seizure medication and low-THC cannabis oil yielded no results. Then, they offered their son smokeable marijuana. While taking it several times a day, he went a full 71 days without a seizure. “Nothing else was working,” says Suzeanna.

CBD Oil vs Smokeable Marijuana For Seizures

Cannabis, typically in the form of CBD oil, is an increasingly common treatment for seizures. More families, dissatisfied with traditional pharmaceutical treatments, are turning to cannabis to help children with autism, epilepsy and other seizure-inducing disorders.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine a couple weeks ago proves that CBD medication can reduce seizures. Several clinical trials on medical marijuana’s effect on autism are currently taking place.

However, the Brills have said that the CBD oil they had tried did not work. Running out of options, they turned to smokeable marijuana with THC. THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning that it’s the main reason why medical experts do not advocate for its use for children. Others say that the entourage effect—ingesting more than one cannabinoid at a time—makes it more potent medicine.

The Brills did their best to give their son medical treatment. Matthew Brill told reporters, “I smoke it first. I know where it comes from, I know my people. Made sure the bag was good, packed the bowl in my bowl, which I know ain’t been anywhere else.”

He adds that they never forced their son to smoke it. “I set it on the table and told him that it was his decision. I did not tell him he had to or not.”

Quality Medical Marijuana Is Inaccessible for Many

Though other parents swear by CBD treatment for seizures, quality CBD oil can be hard to come by. For instance, Epidiolex, a CBD medication that could one day gain FDA approval, is only accessible to those lucky enough to participate in clinical trials. The only two ongoing studies on CBD for seizures are in Los Angeles and New York.

Even if you live in a state with medical marijuana, and in an urban area with access to seizure-specific medication, you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Since marijuana is illegal federally, insurance providers do not cover it even in its medical form. Additionally, over 10 percent of Americana and 12 percent of Georgians don’t have any insurance at all according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Once you factor in accessibility, smokeable weed may seem like the only seizure treatment available.

According to Georgia law, children can take CBD oil to treat seizures. This requires a medical marijuana card and a maximum THC content of 5 percent. Since smokeable marijuana is illegal, especially if given to a minor by a parent, the Brill family could face prison time and lose custody of their son.

In spite of these dangers, the Brills stand firm in their decision to treat their son’s seizures with marijuana. Suzeanna Brill upholds, “I can’t have my kid dying because no one wants to listen.”

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