Potency Taxes Are Bad and You Should Feel Bad For Supporting Them

If you’ve ever bought from a licensed dispensary then you likely know that weed is taxed out the ass. The legislative fuckery runs rampant and deep thanks to America’s piecemeal state-by-state rules in lieu of federal legalization. There’s no assurance that the federal government would get taxation right if legalization were to occur. Regardless, the current situation puts everyone over a barrel, from state coffers to brands to, most important, the consumers. The plant and its products are subject to undulating laws, changing at every state line, sometimes municipalities as well. Depending on where you buy, a 30-plus-percent THC potency flower (if you can trust that figure) could run anywhere from sub-$30 an eighth to over $70. 

Each state has its own approach to weed taxation, with varying excise taxes applied depending on state regulations. States have opted to tax based on fixed weights and amounts, a percent of the sale price, or both. Pricing-based taxes are the most common. 

A hybrid tax model can be found in Maine, where a 10% excise tax is applied to the retail price, with additional surcharges applied to weight and the number of seedlings or seeds. New Jersey is another intriguing model, where it charges anywhere from less than $10 to up to $60 per ounce, depending upon the average retail price of an ounce. The convoluted tax structure also includes a lesser-used excise surcharge: tax based on THC potency.

As of April 2023, three states utilize some form of THC-potency-focused taxes, Connecticut (per milligram), Illinois (wholesale, product, and additional tax on 35%-plus product taxes), and New York (per milligram and retail price).

Support and Opposition

Despite explorations into THC potency taxes by states like California and Washington, only a few, including Illinois and New York, have implemented them, reflecting a divided stance on the issue among policymakers

Polarizing advocacy groups, like Smart Approaches to Marijuana, have backed potency measures, stating that taxes help deter the market from consuming high-potency products. In 2021, SAM figurehead Kevin Sabet claimed that today’s flower isn’t the “Woodstock weed” of old, claiming potency has surged upward and that taxes limit access to such products. In addition to public health concerns, supporters have suggested that potency taxes can improve regulatory precision, increase state revenue, and align with taxes in the alcohol space. 

While individuals of that ilk dickride the idea of prolonged plant prohibition, many feel that potency taxes are extensions of ongoing prohibition in addition to being costly to implement, detrimental to the growth of a regulated legal marketplace, and/or overall a bad idea for anyone hoping to see the end of illicit sales and consumption in the United States. Those operating in the industry and its ancillary markets broadly, if not entirely, oppose such measures for several reasons, including:

Lack of Clinical Evidence

Federal prohibition has stifled cannabis research, limiting understanding of its dosage and effects despite decades of anecdotal evidence.

Benedict J. Lubbon, a managing director for Jude Benedict & Associates, feels that claims about dosage need to be further examined before any regulations can be made. Lubbon, the founder of the advocacy group Deschedule NOW, said, “All this talk about potency tax is raised by hype and misinformation from prohibitionists scared this isn’t your grandfather’s weed.”

Profit Struggles

Illinois has seen its market surge in recent years. State and local potency taxes, which can push some product charges up by 40%, have played a significant role. The state doesn’t have plans to change the tax rules, citing market immaturity. Connecticut has seen sales increase month over month since sales began in January 2023. However, tax revenue has not met expectations, with the state generating $9.5 million in sales tax for 2023 pot sales, less than half the expected $20.4 million.      

In New York, operators have said that Jason Ambrosino, a military veteran, as well as owner, founder, and CEO of Broadalbin, NY dispensary Veterans Holdings, Inc., feels that high-potency products like tinctures are subject to significant price increases. “We wholesale it for $50 and pay $30 of tax on it, and that is before retail sales tax,” he explained. 

“This means that if my wholesale price is $50, then their retail price is going to be $100,” he said, adding, “The problem is that in the case of the tincture I was referencing, $30 of that is literally tax,” said Ambrosino. Wyatt Harms, co-founder of the brand FLAMER, said potency taxes are one of the reasons why New York products are some of the highest in the country. 

“When dispensaries buy the product from growers or processors, it includes the potency tax as a part of the price. Then the dispensary doubles the wholesale price to the consumer, which means they double the tax,” Harms said. 

Matt ‘Fuzz’ Faughnan, owner of Ossining, New York-based service firm Fuzzy Around The Edges, said the taxes are starting to affect business decisions. During a recent discussion over a three-ounce product, Faughnan claimed, “The bud we used tested at, like, 26%, and we had it priced aggressively, but half of the wholesale price ended up being THC tax, which killed any profitability.” He reported having a similar conversation with a grower, urging the cultivator to increase their prices or risk losing significant sums on products. 

Promotes Illicit Sales 

Taxes cut significantly into store profits while driving up the final sale price. No matter how much a state wants to claim that legal, lab-tested weed sold at a higher price will sway legacy buyers, the evidence suggests that isn’t the case–particularly not in states like New York, where a deeply rooted history of legacy sales converges with heavy buying activity. Leah Heise, CEO of Maryland-based firm Gemini Twin Consulting, feels potency taxes create a “chilling effect” on market growth while driving consumers away. “The illicit market is the biggest competitor to the legal market, and we are currently losing that fight due to overregulation and egregious taxation,” said Heise. 

Ambrosino offered a similar take, claiming potency taxes make it impossible for licensed sellers to compete with rampant unlicensed sales. “If potency taxes were removed completely, the cannabis industry, particularly in New York State, would immediately become competitive with 70% of the black market sales,” he predicted. 

The 2019 report by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board reached similar conclusions. “Some work group members from the public health community were in favor of a tax structure that would discourage consumption of high potency cannabis, but did not have confidence that this tax would guarantee those outcomes,” the report concluded, adding that a model could work for states when first implementing laws. However, the cost of creating the tax infrastructure would result in costly changes. 

86 The Potency Tax?

Concerns like lab shopping and potency inflation underscore the challenges potency taxes pose, complicating product valuation and fostering regulatory discrepancies. Additional worries center on medical patients. With some patients requiring higher doses to address their medical conditions, these individuals may become victims of higher-priced medical costs. 

With operators and buyers bemoaning the rules and state coffers significantly less filled than expected, New York is proposing an about-face on its tax structure. As part of her 2025 fiscal year budget proposal, Governor Kathy Hochul proposed the state eliminate potency taxes, switching to a weight-based model, citing the move as a way to ease tax compliance for distributors. Under the proposed rule change, distributors would be subject to a 9% excise tax, leaving retailers with dual sales and municipal taxes. 

New York’s possible shift to weight taxes could help the market while not alleviating all the concerns. However, it could serve as a significant step to correcting market concerns, possibly entice more shoppers to the legal market, and even send a warning to other states that potency taxes are not the way to go in cannabis. 

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Monoxide’s (Twiztid) “The Chainsmoker II” LP Out Now!

Good morning! Before you pour yourself a big bowl of those Wheaties. Start out the day right with the highly anticipated LP from Monoxide of Twiztid “The Chainsmoker II”! As “The Chainsmoker II” is finally available for your listening pleasure! You can bump the Majik Ninja Entertainment freshness below! Fans can support hard copies of “The Chainsmoker II” via https://mnestore.com/




from Faygoluvers

Cannabeginners: What is Pinene?

While many growers talk about their plants as being “trees,” most cannabis doesn’t actually taste like tree leaves or pine needles, that is, unless it is rich in pinene. This terpene is one of the most common terpenes in the natural world and is responsible for pine trees and other conifers, as well as many herbs, smelling like they do. It also is one of the most common terpenes in cannabis and has numerous well-documented medical benefits.

What is Pinene?

Pinene is a terpene with two main isomers, alpha-pinene (α-pinene) and beta-pinene (β-pinene), while α-pinene is a monoterpene, β-pinene is a bicyclic monoterpene. As α-pinene is the primary one found in cannabis, and the terpene “most frequently found in Nature,” when I say “pinene” in this article, that is just a shorthand for α-pinene. Both forms of pinene are commonly found in pine trees and other conifers, as well as a range of other plants, such as rosemary, basil, and parsley. 

Pinene in Cannabis

The same 1997 Swiss study which showed myrcene to be the most commonly found terpene in cannabis also found α-pinene to be the third most common. The pinene content they found varied between 2.3% and 31%. Some particular cultivars known to have higher amounts of pinene include: Jack Herer, Lemon Skunk, Purple Kush, Romulan, Blue Dream, and Cannatonic (just to name a few). Pinene will impart a spicy, herbal scent to cannabis, like it does to pine trees. 

Pinene Is a Folk Remedy for Tuberculosis

While pinene has been researched as a treatment for a wide range of medical conditions, one area where it has traditionally been used for centuries is as a treatment for lung/breathing conditions, most notably, tuberculosis. Since the earliest origins of the sanatorium, they have been located in areas with pine trees. Examples abound, such as America’s first sanatorium in New York’s Adirondack pine forest or the aptly named Pinewood Hospital in Pinewood, England. Before we had research to support the claims of the sanatorium movement, “Pine trees were a common feature of TB sanatoria at the time, as they were believed to purify the air.” 

Dr. Ethan Russo is a world-renowned cannabis researcher, and in his 2011 study, “Taming THC,” he reported that pinene “is a bronchodilator in humans at low exposure levels,” which is great news for athletes. Since then, a 2014 study found pinene to be “a promising anti-allergic agent” which helped combat allergic rhinitis. Multiple studies have shown pinene “has wide potential … to inhibit the growth of bacteria” including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and infectious bronchitis virus. It seems that the sanatorium movement was correct in their belief that pine trees had some medical benefits to sufferers of TB.

Medical Effects Of Pinene

Beyond its impact on lung health and fighting bacterial infection, pinene has a wide range of other medical impacts. Pinene has been shown to have “significant anxiolytic-like activity,” meaning it reduces anxiety, and “significant antiulcerogenic activity,” which means it helps prevent ulcers.

When it comes to pain management, pinene has been shown to help with inflammatory and neuropathic pain, as well as nociceptive pain. Related to its pain-relieving effects, multiple studies have shown pinene to have anti-inflammatory effects against numerous inflammatory diseases, including acute pancreatitis

Just like many other cannabinoids and terpenes, pinene is an effective tool to combat various types of cancers, though it has also been suggested that the benefits could be “limited.” Similar to pinene’s medical effects against tuberculosis, which were observed as a result of environmental exposure, mice kept in an environment rich in pinene showed “reduced melanoma growth.” Pinene has been shown to control the growth of cancers through a range of methods including inducing apoptosis, activating natural killer cells, and inducing tumor necrosis factor-alpha

Unlike the stereotype of cannabis harming your memory, pinene has clear benefits for improving memory in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The main way that pinene improves memory is by inhibiting the production of acetylcholinesterase, which “could counteract short-term memory deficits induced by THC intoxication.” For these reasons, pinene has been suggested as a “treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.” Pinene has even been shown to protect “against brain damage associated with stroke and ischemia.”

Can Pinene Be Harmful?

As we saw in our previous Cannabeginner on myrcene, while there are numerous medical benefits associated with terpenes, there also can be potential harms. Considering terpenes are natural defenses for plants, it makes sense that there could be toxic effects on people as well as other predator species (bugs, fungus, etc). The research on pinene is mixed, while one study referred to it as a “common indoor air pollutant,” a cytotoxicity evaluation “revealed that limonenes and α-pinene are non-toxic.” 

When the National Toxicology Program studied α-pinene, they found “the toxicity data available for α-pinene are inadequate for assessing potential human health effects.” The data they analyzed did show that reports of pinene toxicity generally noted “potential respiratory and skin irritation.” Overall, it appears that pinene has a relatively safe profile. 

A Quick Hit

Pinene is one of the most common terpenes in the world and in cannabis cultivars, which has long been used as a folk remedy for tuberculosis and other lung issues. Modern research has proven the folk remedies were based on some science, as pinene has antibacterial effects, works as a bronchodilator, and has a range of other medical benefits against cancer and a host of other illnesses. 

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Uber Driver Allegedly Doubled as Shroom, LSD Dealer

An Uber driver in Florida faces felony drug charges after he allegedly tried to sell psilocybin mushrooms and LSD to his passengers. A series of transactions climbed up to 200 hits of LSD on gel tabs and a quarter-pound of shrooms in one transaction.

If you’re going to offer shrooms and LSD to Uber passengers, you’d better make sure your passengers aren’t narcotics cops—this Uber driver learned that the hard way. 

Some of his “passengers” ended up being narcotics investigators visiting Miramar Beach, Florida for the Florida Narcotics Officers’ Association Annual Conference last August in 2023, according to authorities. How’s that for bad luck? According to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), the investigators who rode the Uber are from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).

John Alcott, 52, of Crestview, Florida, arrived to pick up his riders, and when the CCSO investigators entered the vehicle, they said it reeked of pot smoke. Alcott whipped open his glove box to show them all the shrooms he had in his inventory. (Uber drivers are not employees of Uber; they are independent contractors as Uber’s key to success.)

The off-duty investigators decided to play along, posing as psychedelic customers.

WCSO reports that Alcott sold the CCSO investigators 134 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 10 psilocybin mushroom microdose capsules, and 12 doses of LSD on blue gel tabs for $1,000. During the purchase, Alcott told detectives he would be willing to run a mail-order supply as well. WCSO also posted Alcott’s mugshot and several photos of the LSD and psilocybin mushrooms.

They’ve been processing the investigation ever since, and upped the ante with larger quantities to pin down the Uber driver for bigger charges. The sting operation eventually involved WCSO Narcotics Investigators, the Crestview Police Department, and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Officers, who set up surveillance on Alcott’s residence in Crestview, Florida.

On Feb. 21, WCSO narcotics investigators sent the undercover CCSO detective, who was a passenger-turned-drug buyer, to reach out to Alcott to tell him they were in the area and wanted to buy over a quarter-pound of shrooms and 200 doses of blue gel tab LSD hits in exchange for $5,000.

“While these types of cases aren’t the primary focus of our VICE/Narcotics investigations, this one kind of came to us,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “He obviously makes it a habit to sell while driving an Uber and that’s pretty alarming considering how teenagers and young adults frequently use driving services in the area.”

The investigators are taking it seriously and Alcott faces numerous felony charges. Alcott was arrested and booked into the Walton County Jail on two counts of selling a hallucinogen, trafficking in LSD, possession of a hallucinogen with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of using a two-way communication device in the commission of a felony. He was issued a $15,000 bond, posted it, and walked free the following day.

Uber and DoorDash Drivers Caught With Weed

One DoorDash customer received more than he bargained for when he placed an order of food—finding an unwanted bag of weed in his order, and decided to complain about it. The actions of the driver led to his termination as a Dasher with the company.

A Columbus, Ohio man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he ordered food through DoorDash on Aug. 9, 2023, and complained that the bag of weed made him feel “scared.”

“I was scared at first but then again, I wasn’t very surprised,” the man who ordered food from DoorDash told ABC 6.

He provided a photo of his bag of food where he found a fork and a bag filled with cannabis. The photo shows a baggie adorned with alien heads holding what appears to be about a gram of weed. “Did this start with the driver?” he said. “Or did this start in the restaurant that I ordered this from?”

Others choose not to snitch on their DoorDash or Uber drivers. In 2016, comedian and talk show host Arsenio Hall was in Washington, D.C. to host the 2016 BET Honors, but soon after the star arrived into town, the show was canceled due to a blizzard. While in Washington D.C., Hall tweeted about the “overpowering” smell of cannabis in his Uber car. It didn’t bother him as much as other riders, however.

Hall was in Washington, D.C. to host the 2016 BET Honors, but soon after the star arrived into town, the show was canceled due to Saturday’s blizzard. While in our nation’s pot-legal capital, Hall tweeted about the “overpowering” smell of cannabis in his Uber car. 

His tweet was immediately responded to by Uber’s customer support account, calling the situation “completely unacceptable” and asking Hall to snitch on his driver. But Hall refused to narc, tweeting back at Uber that it was “all good y’all.” 

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Gilbert Shelton’s Nephew Gavin Shelton Resurrects Comix Character ‘Poddy’ 

Gilbert Shelton is an American underground comix icon. Now in his early 80’s the creator of self published and distributed characters like “Wonder Warthog” and “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” has been getting laughs from around the world beginning in the early 1960s. Fast-forward to 2021 and Shelton’s “Freak Brothers” have recently enjoyed renewed attention after being adapted into an animated series on Tubi, featuring the talents of Woody Harrelson (Freewheelin’ Franklin Freek), John Goodman (Fat Freddy Freekowtski), Pete Davidson (Phineas T. Phreakers), and Tiffany Haddish (Kitty) among other Hollywood veterans.

Gilbert Shelton’s career in cartooning began in 1961 with the creation of his character “Wonder Warthog.” The porcine antihero was a satire of mid-century super hero comics and began getting published around the country in college humor magazines. 1968 then saw the arrival of his famous trio, “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” whose satirical misadventures helped Americans laugh through an era of social and political turbulence. 

In 1969 Gilbert joined a growing contingency of Texans moving to San Francisco and launched the Rip Off Press with his friends Fred Todd, Dave Moriaty, and Jack Jackson. Facing issues with censorship, FBI intimidation, distribution issues, and local obscenity ordinances they pressed on to publish and distribute satirical material that championed the freedom of artistic expression and flew in the face of the oppressive Comic Code Authority. Gilbert went on to join Robert Crumb’s all-star cast of ZAP contributors which also included S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, Spain Rodriguez, Victor Moscoso, and Rick Griffin. The ZAP collective went on to warp minds and define counterculture comix, eventually releasing 17 issues over 46 years.

Gilbert’s nephew, Gavin Shelton has been working on a research project about his cartoonist uncle since the beginning of COVID. “During lockdown I got to research and learn so much about the cultural context of what was going on at the time, when all those comics were created,” Gavin Shelton tells High Times. “Although the 60’s seem like a time of peace, love, and flowers in reality, it was very culturally repressed and conservative. The social tension that existed seems like it’s cyclical, and today we’re seeing it today in a different form.”

Gavin Shelton, Blake Anderson, and Pete Davidson

In 1969, High Times founder Thomas King Forçade ran the Underground Press Syndicate which included the East Village Other, Berkeley Barb, Los Angeles Free Press, Fifth Estate, the Rag, and others. This network of independent publications reported primality on the antiwar movement and gave a platform to under-represented voices, freely trading and publishing each other’s content. Gilbert’s work made its way into pages of Underground newspapers which offered some humor to publications that reported on the often violent changing social norms of the era.

Paul Mavrides, who drew the Freak Brothers with Shelton for 25 years, told High Times in 2022 he remembers meeting Forçade when he publicly announced the founding of the magazine at the National Alternative and Underground Press Convention held in Boulder, Colorado in 1973. The Freak Brothers were featured on the cover of High Times multiple times, including the 18th issue in February 1977, when the magazine was just three years into publication.

Who is Poddy?

During his research Gavin learned about Gilbert’s earliest character, “Poddy Passumquoddy,” whom Gilbert would graffiti around Houston, Texas as a teenager in the 1950’s. The squat character brandishing an anteater-like tongue and a 23¢ piece would appear on walls and billboards around town with the call to arms, “Poddy Rules the World!”.

“As a teenager Gilbert would read MAD magazine and the New Yorker,” Gavin explains. “Virgil Partch was one of the number one gag cartoonists of the era and would parody Picasso by flattening the perspective and painting both eyes on the same side of the nose. Gilbert was inspired by that style and soon Poddy Passumquoddy began to appear all around Houston.” Inspired by his uncle’s early street art Gavin has restarted Paddy’s conquests with stickers (available on his website) and stencils, cataloging his adventures on Instagram @PoddyRulesTheWorld.

Poddy and Tommy Chong

The connections between the underground comix world and street art are undeniable. Gavin explained that he managed to connect with a fellow fan of Gilbert’s—anonymous French street artist Invader, who creates pixelated mosaics that reference 8-bit video games and who installed a stylized tribute to Shelton’s character “Fat Freddy’s Cat” in Paris. “Putting up a sticker or spraying a stencil is an act of minor civil disobedience,” Shelton says. Connecting with the famous street artist has encouraged the younger Shelton’s efforts. “It feels gratifying to be carrying on something that Gilbert started so long ago.”

He intends to take the research and original artwork that he’s found and present it as a traveling art exhibition. “My mission is to be able to show him through this project, how many people here in the United States, 60+ years later still love and cherish his work. For many of his fans the comix are like passports to the excitement and adventurousness of their youth, and I’d like to offer them an experience that lets them relive a bit of that while also bringing in new readers. I want Gilbert to see how many people still recognize and love his work because of how funny and relevant it still is,” Shelton says.

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