Iowa Governor Signs Bill To Regulate Hemp Products

On May 17, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed 20 bills prior to the end of the legislative session. One of which was House File 2605, which establishes regulations regarding hemp-derived consumable products that contain THC.

The passage of HF-2605 includes new restrictions and penalties applied for hemp-derived consumable sales, manufacturing, and possession. Now, such products may only contain 4 mg of THC per serving, or 10 mg THC per container on a dry weight basis, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch. It also requires that warning labels be adhered to those products, which can be sold to adults over 21, and prohibits the use of synthetic THC.

Many people reached out expressing their opposition to the bill, and called for Reynolds to reject it. Prior to signing HF-2605, Reynolds explained that she considered both sides of the argument for and against the bill. “I have concerns about this bill and have heard from individuals and groups on both sides of the issue,” said Reynolds. “Ultimately, I am signing it into law to protect minors from dangerous and intoxicating products. At the same time, we’ve taken steps to ensure that children who are resistant to medications and suffer from seizures and other medical conditions continue to have access to consumable hemp alternatives for relief.”

In early April, HF-2605’s floor manager, Sen. Dan Dawson, explained that the bill is a necessary update to the Iowa Hemp Act. “The medical cannabidiol program actually puts an individual with a doctor to get these products, that’s the biggest distinction,” Dawson said. “The Iowa hemp program has none of those barriers there. So if we want to protect Iowans with these products… there has to be some type of guardrails on here, to make sure that the medical cannabidiol program is the program that we can direct Iowans to when they have one of these diagnosed conditions.”

In March, Rep. John Forbes expressed concern for the possible “unintended consequences” for patients who rely on hemp-based medicine that’s not included in the state medical cannabis program. “I think we’re not hitting the nail on the head here, when it comes to being able to help Iowans that are seeking out this as an alternative to maybe taking other prescription medications, and increasing quality of life, helping them,” Forbes said at the time.

During that same meeting, Sen. Tom Shipley, who helped create the Iowa Hemp Act when it passed in 2019, said he saw opportunities for loopholes. However, he was more than happy to support HF-2605 as a way to improve upon the current act. “We found out some people could find an angle to get around things and do things that are not good for Iowans,” said Shipley. “And I just want to stand up in support of Senator Dawson’s bill to try and close some of these loopholes that even I could figure out were coming.”

Following Gov. Reynolds’ approval, many others welcomed the new regulations. “This has created a lot of awareness about these products, and it’s put things in place that were necessary,” said Alec Travis, owner of the Iowa-based brewery Field Day Brewing, which offers THC-infused beverages. “Having a small cap while people get used to these products is probably good.”

Earlier in February, House Study Bill 665 was introduced, which would give the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services the ability to regulate consumable hemp products. “We thought we were dealing with the intoxicating aspect, only to find out that there are ways to get around that,” said Rep. Steve Holt. “So it’s sort of the wild, wild west out there in a lot of ways, with THC-infused drinks being able to be served to minors, a lot of other things going on that are not acceptable.” The bill has not received any further hearings after February 19. 

Similar hemp regulations are also being pursued by other states, such as Georgia. Earlier this month, Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 494, which “makes changes to the framework for hemp regulation in Georgia to allow the Georgia Department of Agriculture to have greater oversight and enforcement power and adds labeling, packaging, and marketing requirements to protect children from misleading and dangerous marketing.” 

At the signing ceremony, Kemp explained that hemp cultivation is rapidly growing. “The vast majority of the jobs and the vast majority of the investment that have been created by these great private-sector companies … have been located outside the metro-Atlanta counties, creating opportunities for Georgians to succeed no matter what their zip code,” Kemp said.

Additionally, Kemp signed Senate Bill 420 as well, which prevents a “foreign adversary” from owning agricultural land. “As valued members of our state’s number one industry, Georgia’s farming families deserve our enduring support as they face unprecedented challenges, including having to navigate disastrous federal energy policies, attempts by foreign adversaries to acquire farm land, and theft of property,” Kemp said. “We are tackling these challenges head on, and I want to thank our legislative partners for their work on these important issues.”

On May 17, GOP House representatives recently published a 942-page draft version of the 2024 Farm Bill. Although still a work in progress, the draft currently includes a revision of the word “hemp” and provides numerous separate categories to label cultivators growing hemp for the purposes of animal feed, fiber, or non-food-based production of grain, seed, or oil.

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Fentanyl Dealer on Snapchat Who Caused Deadly Overdoses Gets 20 Years in Federal Prison

A man who used Snapchat to sell fake oxycodone pills that actually contained fentanyl—leading to the death of a teenage girl as well as several other overdoses—faces 20 years in prison.

Jeremial Lee Leach, 20, of Evansville, Indiana, has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to one count of Distribution of Fentanyl Resulting in Death, one count of distribution of fentanyl, and one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury.

Michael Gannon, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-Indianapolis, and U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers for the Southern District of Indiana released an announcement on May 17 describing the ordeal and the consequences.

Leach sold fentanyl on Snapchat as “Mel,” resulting in at least three overdoses, one of which resulted in the death of a 19-year-old woman. “Mel” sold small blue pills marked with M 30 which is supposed to indicate they contain oxycodone hydrochloride—i.e. sold as Oxycontin, Reltebon, Zomestine, etc. Researchers call fake M 30 pills as “Dirty 30s,” and they’re highly dangerous—the slightest miscalculation of fentanyl can easily stop breathing.

“This young woman should be alive today. Mr. Leach pushed deadly poison over social media, ending a teenager’s life far too early, and risking many more,” said U.S. Attorney Myers. “Fentanyl traffickers commit their crimes with utter disregard for the lives of our friends and neighbors or the harm they cause to families in our community. I commend the outstanding work of the DEA, the Evansville Police Department, the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force, and our federal prosecutors to secure some measure of justice for the victims of this fentanyl dealer. The sentence imposed here should serve as a warning: these poisons kill—and selling them will earn you decades in federal prison.”

On June 25, 2022, in the late hours of the night, officers with the Evansville Police Department (EPD) responded to a call about an overdose from a residence on Wedeking Avenue. The first woman was lucky—and responders were able to revive her with naloxone. 

But within hours, at approximately 10:55 a.m. the next morning, EPD officers responded to the same residence for the overdose of another woman, who was only 19 years old, who subsequently died. The coroner found a fake oxycodone pill containing fentanyl when examining the body. The cause of both overdoses was determined to be fentanyl intoxication.

But “Mel” on Snapchat wasn’t done dealing his fake oxycodone pills.

On Aug. 20, 2022, EPD officers were dispatched to a restaurant located on Hirschland Road concerning an overdose. There, the officers found a woman hunched over, falling out of consciousness. But she was also lucky and was revived with naloxone and the woman regained consciousness. The woman told police that she thought she had simply taken a 30 mg tablet of oxycodone, which would not have caused an overdose. The woman’s companion, identified as “Leach,” supplied the pill at a residence on Shanklin Avenue. It was again traced to “Mel” after officers with the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force set up two more drug deals a few months later.

Police then executed a search warrant at Leach’s residence on Shanklin Avenue, where officers found 33 blue pills marked “30,” a digital scale, two 9mm pistols, and approximately $1,843 in cash.

“The sentence imposed on Mr. Leach is righteous and justified. Mr. Leach utilized social media platforms to advertise the sale of fentanyl and continued distributing the poisonous fentanyl even though it had already caused fatal and near fatal overdoses. The DEA would like to extend their deepest condolences to the Duncan family and all families who have lost a loved one to a fentanyl poising,” said DEA ASAC Gannon. “DEA remains committed to working hand in hand with our state, local and federal partners in order to keep our communities safe.  DEA commends the outstanding work by the Evansville Police Department, The Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force and the United States Attorney’s Office.”

‘Hit Me Up’ for Weed on Snapchat

A much lesser “threat” on Snapchat is the sale of weed. A woman was busted in 2018 for setting up her weed business on Snapchat (which is admittedly much safer than selling fentanyl.)

The Beatrice Daily Sun reported in 2018 that Nebraska authorities were tipped off about a Snapchat video made by a woman named Madison D. Carlson. In the video, she held a large bag of cannabis, with a corresponding caption reading “Hit me up.”

Following the post, someone snitched, and authorities went to Carlson’s residence around 9:30 p.m. and immediately noticed two cars in a nearby alley with their lights on. In one vehicle, police found Carson with one female minor. According to police documents, the car reeked of weed. In the other, a male juvenile, who, upon further inspection, was carrying a concealed bag of marijuana in his waistband.

The two female accomplices told police they had just gotten rid of the pot until Carlson was removed from the vehicle, and eventually forked over an additional 32 grams and $80 in cash. Since minors were involved, Carlson also faced serious charges, even though cannabis is not capable of causing bodily injury in the same way that fentanyl is.

Plugs can be found on just about any social media platform, but especially when it comes to pills, buyer beware, as deadly counterfeit pills abound.

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Study: Cannabis Use Associated with ‘Marginal Increase’ in Light Physical Activity

As modern-day cannabis research persists, studies have increasingly shed light on prevailing stereotypes of cannabis users, those persistent attitudes that cannabis makes people lazy and unmotivated. 

Given the increased accessibility of cannabis in the United States and beyond, it’s now clear that there is no fixed demographic when it comes to cannabis use. The research shows it, too, regularly concluding that cannabis may actually fit in nicely with those pursuing a more active lifestyle.

One of the most recent studies to examine this relationship was published last week in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, measuring the physical activity and sedentary behavior among young-to-midlife adults and confirming that cannabis use is actually associated with a marginal increase in daily light physical activity (LPA).

‘The Largest Cohort’ to Study Cannabis Use, Physical Activity

Researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2011 to 2014 to investigate the relationship between cannabis and physical activity. 

The study included U.S. adults aged 18 to 59 who responded to the questionnaire and had at least four days of activity data using wrist-worn accelerometers to track physical activity.

The findings drew data from 4,666 adults, 658 (14.1%) of which reported cannabis use within the past 30 days. Researchers said that it is “the largest cohort in which the relationship between cannabis use and physical activity has been studied.”

The accelerometer data found few differences in sleep or physical activity between people who did and did not use cannabis over the past month. While there were also no differences found between groups in daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) time, daily time spent doing LPA was higher among recent cannabis users.

However, the difference is minimal, as those who used cannabis in the past month had 102 minutes of light physical activity per day versus 99 minutes for those without past-month cannabis use.

New Findings and Outstanding Questions

“With the rising prevalence of cannabis use, there have been concerns of its potential effects on physical activity levels,” the study concludes. “In this population level-analysis, recent cannabis use was not independently associated with daily sedentary time or MVPA, and it was associated with a marginally greater daily LPA time of unclear clinical significance.”

Researchers noted that more than half of the participants were 18-29 years old, “which may suggest selection bias toward younger and healthier people in the NHANES sample” and may not be a representative sample of the general adult population. 

The study also did not explore motivations surrounding cannabis use, though researchers noted the reasons could include exercise, pain, anxiety or sleep. The study also did not include data surrounding frequency of consumption or specific products used.

Authors said that further reason could be useful to examine whether the findings were generalizable to specific subgroups who use cannabis for chronic or neuropathic pain.

“Our findings provide evidence against existing concerns that cannabis use independently promotes sedentary behavior and decreases physical activity,” authors concluded, highlighting that the longstanding “lazy stoner” archetype often portrayed with chronic cannabis users “does not acknowledge the diverse uses of cannabis today.”

Ongoing Research Puts Tired Stoner Stereotypes to Bed

It’s one of several recent students examining cannabis use and physical activity, similarly showing that these tired attitudes surrounding cannabis consumers may need to be examined in a new way in regard to today’s modern cannabis community and broad user base.

A study published last month found that regular cannabis consumption was associated with more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions, alongside minimal effects of motivation or objective effort willingness.

“When frequent cannabis users get high, in other words, they are no more apathetic, nor less extrinsically or intrinsically motivated to pursue their goals,” researchers said. “They are, however, slightly less motivated to do things when they are high because they would be upset with themselves if they did not do them.”

Other research has honed in on cannabis use and physical activity specifically. 

Another study from earlier this year showed that cannabis users take more walks on average compared to non-users and e-cigarette users and that they are no less likely to engage in basic exercise and strength training compared to non-users. 

A similar study looking specifically at Americans 60 and older found that this demographic of cannabis consumers exercise more than their non-cannabis-consuming counterparts, while another study found that cannabis is increasingly being used in conjunction with exercise and may increase positive mood and enjoyment during workouts.

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High Five: 5 Cultivation Styles

Aeroponics

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Using aeroponics, cannabis roots are suspended in the air and are fed water and nutrients via a fine mist. Aeroponics doesn’t require any type of medium or substrate, and the growing style is commonly used to develop clones. This is done through the use of cloners, or mini aeroponic systems that blow a mist over clones to allow growth. The lack of a medium usually ends up meaning less space per plant, and the roots don’t have to fight for space. One of the cons to aeroponic growing is that when the pumps break down, the roots die quickly without an alarm and a fast response. Since growers are dependent on timers, valves, and pumps working properly, there are plenty of ways to mess up the system if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Aquaponics

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This relatively rare method combines aquaculture—small fish, crayfish, prawns, or snails—with hydroponics, feeding the plants with natural nutrients produced by aquatic animals instead of synthetic nutrients. The main reason growers experiment with aquaponics is for sustainability and eco-friendly purposes. It abandons any reliance on fertilizers that are mined and manufactured, so you can be sure no synthetic fertilizers end up in the final, chemical-free product. Online, some people say aquaponics is a complicated, overhyped process with few rewards, while others praise the benefits.

Hydroponics 

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Hydroponic cultivation is the process of growing plants in a water-based nutrient solution that doesn’t use soil. Roots are grown in substrates like vermiculite or perlite (porous minerals), as well as coco coir (coconut husk fiber). They absorb water and nutrients like a sponge and roots grow around them. Hydroponics ideally provides a more controlled grow site, promoting faster growth, potentially higher yields, and higher nutrient uptake. Growers often take drastic measures to ensure their hydro setup is sterile, and they have to deal with pesticides less often. 

Sea of Green

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The Sea of Green (SOG) growing technique is designed to maximize the yield per square foot of a grow operation by growing lots of small cannabis plants rather than fewer larger ones. It creates a dense canopy that can be harvested earlier with the plants growing a single large bud instead of branching out. A variation, the Screen of Green (SCROG) method, utilizes horizontal netting to create uniformity. SOG and SCROG setups are typically created by commercial operations that deal with larger-scale grows. These ways can be maximized through super cropping and other pruning and suspension techniques.

Soil-Grown

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Keep it natural, the way nature intended, by growing plants in soil. Generally speaking, it’s easier to maintain a plant grown in soil than in most growing methods and it’s a great medium for beginners. Soil is also an abundant source found everywhere, while quality varies. Living soil, a variation of this technique, is when the soil contains organic matter, minerals, water, air, and microorganisms that work together synergistically. Cultivating in living soil is believed to maximize the terpene and flavor profiles of plants.

This article was originally published in the April 2024 issue of High Times Magazine.

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Marital Status Uniquely Affects Psychedelic Experiences, Study Shows

As it turns out, your marital status could affect the extent to which psychedelics can lower your stress levels. And it appears that single folk may experience the greatest benefit of psychedelics. 

An analysis of data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health revealed that individuals who had used psychedelics at least once in their lives, in general, had lower levels of psychological distress, according to research PLOS ONE. This association was most pronounced among people who were single and significantly weaker among those who were married, widowed, or divorced, PsyPost reports

There’s already loads of research that clearly establishes a positive correlation between psychedelics and mental health. The Department of Veteran Affairs is funding research into psilocybin and MDMA to treat PTSD and depression. The FDA recently recognized LSD’s potential to treat anxiety. And there’s a study suggesting that DMT may be an effective treatment for depression.

The research into the martial status and tripping looked at classical psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT, in addition to MDMA. 

The study’s author, Sean M. Viña, sought to explore the relationship between psychedelic use, marital status, household size, and psychological distress. He hypothesized that married individuals who have used psychedelics might experience reduced distress and that those in larger households would face increased distress. He also suspected that the beneficial effects of psychedelics on distress would be least pronounced among people with large households.  

Viña analyzed data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, which is an annual survey conducted across all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. This survey seeks to measure the pervasiveness of substance use and mental health issues in the United States. 

This analysis looked at data on people’s distress levels over the past month using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale. The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) is a straightforward tool for measuring psychological distress. It consists of 10 questions about emotional states, each with five possible responses. The K10 can be used as an easy screening method to figure out one’s levels of distress (you can try it here). 

It also considered whether participants had ever used classic psychedelics like DMT, ayahuasca, psilocybin, LSD, mescaline, peyote, or MDMA. It also included information regarding participants’ marital status, household size, and other demographic details.

While single people won in some ways, and we’ll get to that, the results indicated that married individuals experienced lower levels of distress compared to single and divorced people. Married folks’ distress levels were actually comparable to widowed individuals. 

Interestingly, the divorced individuals had the highest levels of drug use, unrelated to the psychedelics, which included cannabis but also tobacco, cocaine, tranquilizers, inhalants, pain relievers, and heroin. They also were more likely to have started drinking at an earlier age. While some of that substance use could be in reaction to divorce, it also may indicate that, unsurprisingly, an unhealthy relationship with drugs could lead to relationship problems. 

Those who reported using classic psychedelics, in general, had generally less psychological distress. This was held true even after considering marital status and household size. But the connection between psychedelic use and reduced distress was strongest in single individuals. It was also significantly weaker in those who were married, widowed, or divorced. So, while being partnered or mourning a partner could lead to less stress in general, such folks may have a reduced benefit from taking psychedelics. 

Notably, and giving child-free people a reason to celebrate, those with the most stress had larger households. If a person using classic psychedelics was married, the connection between living in a large household and experiencing psychological distress was even stronger. 

“The results confirm the predictions that LCPU [lifetime classic psychedelic use] exacerbates the negative consequences of household size for the heads of households who are married, widowed, and divorced. The results also suggest that larger households are associated with harm regardless of marital status, but the negative consequences decrease for single psychedelic users as the household size increases,” Viña explained. 

Viña went on to conclude that: “Widowed psychedelic users may experience some benefits from living with more people, but these benefits decrease as the household size becomes too large. In contrast, among married or divorced psychedelic users, the distress caused by household size worsens as the family sizes increase. Finally, for widowed psychedelic users, there is a negative association between household size and distress, but this association decreases at a decreasing rate.”

So, while, if you’re windowed, it might not be a bad idea to move in with a friend, don’t move in with an entire family. 

“These results can be explained by the increasing responsibilities that heads of households face as their families grow, which are then exacerbated by psychedelic use. On the other hand, single individuals may experience a diffusion of responsibility as their family sizes increase,” Viña said. 

It’s important to remember that while studies like this are fascinating, we don’t always know if they’re demonstrating correlation or causation. In other words, while psychedelics could lead to less stress for single people, compared to overworked and exhausted moms and dads, on the other hand, it could just be that single people are more likely to have less stress and have a free weekend to spend tripping. 

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