When you want to partake in the recreational cannabis market, either as a resident or tourist, the newness and novelty of everything could distract you from one very important truth: that this is still an industry, a product, a part of the consumer system. Because cannabis is in a grey area (outside of its taxation and sale), it’s not treated like an everyday plant or product coming from harvest, but rather something like a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol.
Even in legal states like Washington, where purchase is perhaps easiest for the layperson, you can see the locked down flower in plastic, labeled with strain analyses — and it’s not as affordable as an equivalent amount of some other substances. Decriminalized places are still worse off, considering even New York still arrests 50 people each day for cannabis possession, use, and sale, enforced primarily on New Yorkers of color. The issue of purchasing and using cannabis in a fully legal and normalized way still bears weight on a few of society’s most crucial concerns.
Make sure that the places you patronize are not only treating the cannabis plant with respect and care, but their staff and community as well. Dr. Jon Vaught, CEO of Front Range Biosciences tells The Fresh Toast how this practice pushes fans forward:
Consumers can influence cultivation practices by purchasing products that are certified pesticide and pathogen free. One way to do this is to ask your dispensary agent which products have a third-party certification showing that the grower is transparent about their cultivation methods, practice sustainability and have fair labor conditions. Supply is directly impacted by demand, and consumer voice and purchase decisions have the power to drive producers to implement standards and certifications.
Being careful where you spend is an essential tool for keeping your dollars in the right hands. Farms that have ethical programs will always perform in today’s awakened buyer market.
As a customer you don’t always have to think about what your purchase means, but knowing how many people are still in prison or encumbered by cannabis charges is a chief concern of many cannabis activists. Sharpen that activism so that your love of cannabis can help those who have suffered to make sure that you can enjoy it.
On the less considered side of the coin, think about how the widespread and standardized use of cannabis could help so many people around the globe. Magical Butter CEO, Garyn Angel, envisions a patient-first future. He says:
Allowing reimbursement would reduce long-term insurance costs. Cannabis is a dietary essential and if consumed regularly may prevent disease- medical marijuana recommendations from physicians is frequently for ailments. Cannabis is a tool to improve public health we need to utilize it efficiently. The opioid epidemic is a significant social cost. Legalize cannabis because it reduces inflammation. Allow non-addictive plant-derived alternatives to disrupt the big pharma model.
And how can we forget Mother Earth? Sure it’s exciting to run in the store and buy all of these products, but what about all of the packaging? Angel talks about this pile, saying, “Dispensary waste is out of control! Every gram of concentrate is individually packaged to be childproof creating an abundance of garbage. Vaporizer cartridges are not being recycled, reused, or refilled.”
Dr. Vaught agrees that this is a problem that we may not have fully considered in our excitement to get the good stuff. Another way that consumers can be conscious is to purchase products that are stored in environmentally friendly packaging. He says, “States with strict requirements on packaging materials make it difficult at times, but not impossible. Look for products housed in recyclable, compostable, child-resistant cannabis packaging, like that from Sana Packaging.”
Get stoked about cannabis, but like everything we consume, we should hold it to a certain standard. If anything, cannabis standards should be even higher, considering we have a chance to build the industry up from illegal to global, it should invoke everything we know about ethics until now.
Photos: Maria Penaloza