Modern trends in cannabis use are being driven by technology and big business.
With Massachusetts being the latest US state to bow to public pressure and legalise THC for both recreational and medical use, most of the North American population now have access to Marijuana via the internet thanks to the rapidly expanding service industry struggling to meet the mail order demand.
But if you think its just old fashioned "weed" marijuana, dried flower heads which are being sold then think again. Cannabis is now being viewed and studied as a medicine, and the data that is being produced is encouraging business to look seriously at the genetic variation and potential intellectual property and patent rights which exist through the development of highly refined strains. Brands are being created which could be as strong as Marlborough, Rothmans and Players where in the 20th Century.
By combining physiological or functional studies with the molecular science and plant genetic modelling we are already seeing the development of some highly specialist strains which give reliable end user experiences. These are already being marketed an connoisseur high end brands, some even come with celebrity endorsement.
Silicone Valley is providing all the tech support with software companies such as BiotrackTHC providing off the peg specialist cannabis software, solutions for all elements of the business from production, through processing to sales and marketing. They claim to be monitoring over 11 million cannabis plants in over 2000 enterprises. E-Commerce has not waited to be invited to the game, with companies such as Ease.com leading the way to the massive American market.
Cannabis use and vaping
But the game changing move has been the development of liquid vape solutions. Clear liquid solutions, odourless or flavoured in a range to mirror nicotine vape products. These new products are seen as clean, pure, and importantly allow rapid THC dosing without smoking.
They have become the go to THC product for a whole new demographic of user. The upwardly mobile, affluent, young and middle aged, professional business class who want recreational cannabis without any of the traditional smell or mess (or risks) of smoking "old cannabis" It's rapidly turning into middle Americas go to drug of the 21st century. Its viewed as a clean, safe, medically regulated, licensed and legal.
Vaporiser liquid cartridges already account for over 60% of the online catalogs. The vials are small, portable, discreet and virtually indistinguishable from the nicotine counterparts (making them a smugglers dream) CBD (Cannabinol) blends are also becoming popular on the back of "medicinal benefits" 25g cartridges with between 57-66% THC are available for $30-40 Blends with 8% CBD are sold with tags such as "calm" "sleep" "bliss"
But the modern market does not limit user options. Enter the modern branded edibles. Dark chocolate espresso beans, milk chocolate blueberries, mint creams and gummies, all laced with psychoactive doses of THC. The packaging is all very high end, luxury brand, but how these won't be attractive to children is difficult to see.
Transdermal patches, both THC and CBD offering both psychoactive and pain relief specialist options. Currently these are more targeted at the CBD end of the market, more chronic pain control than "high"
Concentrated THC oils, what used to be called hashish, rebranded "resins" and all sold as solvent and pesticide free, they're not quite claiming organic yet, but it's only a matter of time. Up to 77% pure THC
With more and more US states legalising recreational THC use, the move by it's neighbour Canada in 2018 became almost inevitable. It became the second largest country in the world to legalise recreational cannabis. But make something legal in one place and illegal across a border and you instantly create and opportunity, almost an invitation or certainly a temptation, and these products are small, odourless, look like legal alternative lines/products, making any effective control problematic.
Cannabis and the law
Contrary to popular belief recreational cannabis use remains technically illegal in every European territory. Recreational THC use is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but authorities turn a blind eye to local and tourist use. Selling cannabis is illegal but not punishable. Only Dutch citizens are permitted to buy cannabis and only as long as they cause no nuisance. Spanish citizens are also permitted to grow and personally use cannabis, although sales remain technically illegal.
In the UK Cannabis is a Class B controlled drug. The maximum penalty for possession is up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both and the penalties for supply and production are up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
For more information on the UK law on drugs visit https://www.gov.uk/penalties-drug-possession-dealing
The future for Cannabis
The UK's move this year to legalise medicinal cannabis is perhaps the first move towards a wider relaxation and the possible decriminalisation of recreational users. While authorities insist this is not on the cards, if no new health risks become apparent from the newer delivery mechanisms, the reduced criminal justice workload and possible tax revenue benefits may become more attractive to a more socially liberal political class in the near future.