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28 grams of game: Shiest Bubz is legend

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In New York cannabis, no name carries more weight than Smoker’s Club co-founder Shiest Bubz. Learn how the Harlem native became NYC’s “Willy Wonka of Weed” in Leafly’s latest 28 grams of game.


Shiest Bubz is taking the term “legacy,” back. In cannabis circles, it’s become a buzzword. Its definition depends on who you ask. And if you ask Bubz, the wordplay is becoming condescending.

“They’re like, ‘Oh, we need to help legacy learn how to transition from here to there.’ Who are you talking about? Not White America. Can’t be talking about them. Impossible. You’re talking about Black people… At the end of the day, it’s not White legacy operators that they’re looking for.”

Shiest Bubz to Honeysuckle

That’s why Bubz said he hasn’t rushed to join the licensed game. Over the course of three decades, he’s sold more pounds of flower in New York than any partner he could hope to find before it was legal, and without getting caught up in the state’s historically aggressive Drug War enforcement. Now, New York has already “pre-approved” his Smoker’s Club team to participate in the legal industry, according to NYC Cannabis Czar Dasheeda Dawson. But Bubz is taking his time to survey the field as lawmakers and regulators sort out New York’s adult-use industry.

In this edition of 28 grams of game, Shiest Bubz explains how he became the emperor of New York’s underground weed scene, and shares his vision for building an even larger legacy in the regulated industry.


1. Take initiative

Shiest Bubz lights a blunt on a stovetop flame. (Instagram / @adonisisbored)
(Instagram / @adonisisbored)

“It started in high school, chipping in to buy weed. Then getting an ounce of weed and cutting the hike to go get the weed. So we don’t need to hike, I got the weed already, just give me the money. That was my first flip off weed. I flipped a profit.”

Shiest Bubz

2. Document the process

Shiest Bubz shares his encyclopedia of classic strains with Leafly’s Amelia Williams at The Smoker’s Club in Brooklyn, New York. She’s holding an infamous “F*** U” bag, which still had some funky nuggets. (Calvin Stovall / Leafly)

In 2022, Bubz launched the Heavy Smoke podcast to document weed’s legal renaissance. He’s already interviewed active legends like Juan Quesada of Backpack Boyz and Steph.V of Certz, helping preserve cannabis history in real time. He’s also got an encyclopedia of classic bags and strains he shared with Leafly this winter.

3. Plant firm roots

Shiest Bubz, Purple City and The Diplomats pictured together circa early-2000s. (Purple City Productions)
Shiest Bubz, Purple City, and The Diplomats pictured together circa early-2000s. (Purple City Productions)

In the 2000s, Shiest made his name in music by founding Purple City Records, which contributed heavily to New York’s underground mixtape scene and the careers of artists like Smoke DZA. Bubz also worked with Harlem icons Cam’ron, Jim Jones, and Juelz Santana, all three of whom are poised to follow his footsteps into the legal cannabis industry. Bubz and company’s influence is well documented in DVDs and tapes that once circulated nationwide. Some videos still live on YouTube, giving context to those looking to understand how guys with names like Shiest Bubz and Luka Brazi became the top dogs in New York’s budding cannabis industry.

4. Stay close to the plant

Rapper Curren$y (left) and Shiest Bubz (right) enjoy a smoke break. (Instagram / @adonisisbored)
Rapper Curren$y (left) and Shiest Bubz (right) enjoy a smoke break. (Instagram / @adonisisbored)

After running record labels, clothing lines, and events, Shiest realized that cannabis is his favorite product to market.

“My biggest performer, my biggest artist, my most successful thing that I was able to promote has been cannabis. It doesn’t talk back. I’m always able to sell it. No feelings, no emotions attached.”

Shiest Bubz to Honeysuckle

5. Remember your history

When asked which strains are essential to New York’s rich cannabis culture, Bubz doesn’t hesitate. “Chocolate Thai,” he told Leafly, “Back in the days, everybody in Harlem, Brooklyn, and The Bronx smoked some Chocolate Thai.”

“(Plus), Hawaiian, Sour (Diesel), (Purple) Haze, Kush, Afghani, all types of shit. Acapulco Gold. We ain’t even really know what that was. We thought that was some gas. But as you get older, you realize when the weed starts turning yellow and stuff like that, that just means it is old.”

Shiest Bubz on New York’s classic cannabis strains

6. Tend to the seeds

“My first job as a kid, I worked at a daycare center. I was like 12 years old. It was a summer job at the daycare center that I actually went to, Gardens Nursery School,” Bubz told Leafly. He’s continued to be a mentor to others ever since, investing in people who share his passion for good bud and good business at every stage of his career.

7. Study the pioneers

Cannabis remains an essential part of Snoop Dogg's lifestyle and brand, over three decades after his music established him as one of America's most iconic smokers. (Leafly / Megan Schmidt / Original photo from Sue Kwon's Rap Is Risen exhibit)
(Leafly / Megan Schmidt / Original photo from Sue Kwon’s Rap Is Risen exhibit)

“In my era, the people that I looked at as the big stoners were like Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Redman. Basically any rapper that was talking about weed. Weed was always an illegal thing. So if you talked that you were really blowing that big, big weed like that, then nine outta 10 times, you had some notoriety.”

Shiest Bubz to Leafly

Related

The NYC legend behind Redman’s 20-year-old stash of Branson buds

8. Don’t get gassed up

Shiest Bubz pictured in a cloud of cannabis smoke. (Instagram / @adonisisbored)
(Instagram / @adonisisbored)

Now that weed is legal in New York, Bubz is wary of those rushing to profit from cannabis culture without fully participating in or appreciating it.

“These are lies for the pursuit of a license, for the pursuit of money,” he told Honeysuckle, referring to investors looking to enter the industry on false pretenses like supporting the legacy community. Thankfully, New York has gone above and beyond to empower local operators over vertical corporations with its adult-use regulations.

9. Build a reputation

Year after year entering the game, Shiest has maintained a rep for having the best cannabis on the East Coast. His partner at Cinematic Music Group, Jonny Shipes, was 19 when he landed Harlem’s best plug, and he’s still thankful Bubz is only one call away.

“He’’s synonymous with good weed. From the day I met him in 2000, he always had the loud pack. So whether it was Piff or the best of the best, you always knew if you went to Bubzy, you were gonna get that.”

Jonny Shipes, CEO Cinematic Music Group, The Smoker’s Club

10. Raise the bar

Today, Shiest continues to raise the bar for great bud with Purp Invaders, a collaboration with Cannatique Farms. “They’re known for the super fire weed,” Bubz said, promising Purp Invaders is “the best in the world.” The buds are available In Sherbinski’s dispensary in California, and 80s-gamer merch can be ordered anywhere through their website.

11. Keep a mystique

“I was like 19. I had just heard about the Piff for the first time and everybody was like, ‘You gotta find this dude Shiest Bubz. He was like the Willy Wonka of Harlem.’ You couldn’t really find him. You had to go up to his crib, and it was hard to get to him.”

Jonny Shipes

Smoker's Club co-founder Jonny Shipes. (Instagram / Jonny Shipes)
The Smoker’s Club co-founder Jonny Shipes lights up in the Brooklyn club location. (Instagram / Jonny Shipes)

12. Build a community

“The Smokers Club is an evolution of a situation where your local bud dealer has a lot of people coming through and y’all congregate at his spot and smoke weed. That’s how Smoker’s Club started to me, and that’s what it is to a lot of people that can relate to that. It’s basically just hanging out with your boys and your homegirls and getting high and smoking weed and just chilling and kicking shits.”

Shiest Bubz

13. Go global

Benny The Butcher and Shiest Bubz pictured at Rolling Loud's Waferz suite. (Instagram / @ShiestBubz)
Benny The Butcher and Shiest Bubz pictured at Rolling Loud’s Waferz suite. (Instagram / @ShiestBubz)

From those humble origins, Bubz and company have elevated their club into a global movement. “The Smoker’s Club is a lifestyle brand,” DZA explained. “It’s culture, it’s history, it all started from a tour we started in 2009 at SXSW. The tour graduated into a festival, and we have one of the best marijuana brands in the world right now. As far as merch, festivals, and actual marijuana goes.”

14. Do good business

Shiest bubz (left) and Yung LB (right) share a laugh backstage at a cannabis event. (Instagram / @adonisisbored)
Shiest Bubz (left) and Yung LB (right) share a laugh backstage at a cannabis event. (Instagram / @adonisisbored)

“He does good business. A lot of people don’t do good business, you know what I mean? A lot of dealers you’ll go to, if you try to make a play you’ll get like five, six pounds and it’s supposed to be something. And it’s not that. But you know, with Bubz, it was tested, tried and true. You knew you were getting exactly what you were paying for, even if it was $6,800 a pound [laughs].”

Jonny Shipes

15. Focus on the mission

Shiest Bubz pictured in Trinidad. (Instagram / @ShiestBubz)
(Instagram / @ShiestBubz)

How did Bubz keep his hands and record clean for decades? He stayed true to the plant instead of using it to chase fame, power, or profit. Bubz said he’s raised five kids off cannabis, and relied on it to fund legal music and creative endeavors that got him away from illicit activities for good.

“I play within my parameters of what I’m dealing with. I’m not out here publicly breaking the law. I’m not doing none of that. I’m not here for that. I’m here for the lifestyle and culture of cannabis.”

Shiest Bubz

16. Take care of your people

The roots of The Smoker’s Club trace back to one fact: Shiest Bubz was a life-changing plug. “When I met Shiest Bubz, around ‘02, ‘03, I was privileged to be around the best Purple Haze that New York City had to offer,” Smoker’s Club co-founder Smoke DZA told Leafly.

“Somebody plugged me with Shiest, and he wound up coming down to the studio one night and showing me a pound. It was the best weed I had ever seen at that point, and the rest is history. We just stayed grinding. And then I wound up managing him when he launched Purple City Records. We hustled our whole lives together. From the Black market to wherever it is now”

Jonny Shipes

Related

Tasting Dosidos with Smoke DZA aka The Kush God

17. Take your time

Bubz and his partners at The Smoker’s Club already cracked the code of how to build thriving cannabis businesses pre-legalization years ago. So they’re in no rush to be the first to market in New York’s uncertain legal industry. They’ve put in too many years on the original market to rush into a bad situation in the legal market.

“Seeing New York City now finally go legal, it’s a testament to him and others. They were grinding from the early, early days when we used to ride around in cars and be nervous to get pinched for a fucking blunt or a joint. To see it come full circle, he’s setting himself up for what we got coming next with. I’m sure he’ll wind up with a store. We’ve been going back and forth on what it’s gonna look like.”

Jonny Shipes

18. Leverage your genetics

Bubz’ unique combination of charisma, intellect, and culture was born in Harlem’s St. Luke’s Hospital. His mother came to New York from Louisiana. Bubz’ father, originally from Trinidad, went to Texas before meeting Bubz’ mother on 137th between Broadway in Harlem. His dad was the young rock of his family, leaving for America to pursue an engineering career. His mother worked in accounting for Columbia University, which brought the family to West Harlem, aka Morningside Heights. To this day, Shiest pulls from his rich family history and childhood experiences to connect and build with people from all walks of life.

19. Carry on tradition

“Morningside Heights is Columbia University-owned property. So it’s more like college students, professors, teachers–That’s more the vibe. It’s been gentrified since I could remember growing up. We were always the Black family on the block. So from the time I was little, I’m not gonna lie, the energy was always centered around my parents for being successful. Like, my pops was successful, my mother was successful, and we were their kids. So I always looked at it like we have to be successful. too. It was like a responsibility of their success. And they were mad strict about that too. Like, ‘You’re not gonna make me look bad out here.’ Everything that I did was supposed to be like a reflection of how they raised me. That’s how, that’s how strict they were, And that’s how older people were back then. They wanted their kids to be just like them or following their footsteps or whatever the case may be. 

Shiest Bubz

20. Remember the magic

“I grew up in the ‘80s, even though I was born in the ‘70s, I grew up in the ‘80s, you know once you get to the ‘85, 6 years old, you start remembering shit, for real. And one of my most memorable experiences was being in the Bronx on 183rd at my cousin’s house. And he was like 15 years older than me. So when I’m five, he’s 20. And he’s playing me my first rap record, ‘Rappers Delight.’ Like, ‘check this out, little n****.’ And he was out smoking weed at the time. He was like out in the streets. So I’m putting on wild cologne (trying to be like him). He got all the girls. He’s a ladies man. I’m like, ‘Oh shit, this music is fire.’ And growing up on Hip Hop and going to school downtown with a diverse group of kids, I always stood out as being like, ‘Yo, he knows that street shit, that rap shit. Like how do you know that? Who exposed you to that? Your parents ain’t on that type of time.’ So rap music and Hip Hop has been the timeline for me wanting to be outside and be active in everything since day one.”

Shiest Bubz

21. Resist the stigma

“My mother always used to be kind of against [Hip Hop]. But that’s what I was tapping into. It was on the radio, so I’d sneak the radio under my pillow. I’m listening to DJ Red Alert. So this is when rap wasn’t even on Hot 97, this is back when it was on 92 KTU. I used to get props for just knowing rap records and knowing the lyrics of certain songs and shit. And they’d be like, ‘How you know that shit? Oh, he’s cool. He knows all the latest stuff.’”

Related

Cypress Hill’s new single breaks down the highs and lows of the legal weed game

22. Normalize the nug

Hip Hop wasn’t a gateway to weed, but Bubz saw the two worlds overlap quickly in the 90s. Artists began to mainstream the plant with music like Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, and Cypress Hill’s “Hits From The Bong.”

“We were smoking weed and listening to Jodeci and shit like that trying to get women,” Bubz told Leafly. “Then Dr. Dre’s The Chronic album changed the dynamics,” Bubz recalled. “Like, n****s was talking about weed and it was normalized already ‘cause we were smoking outside on some ‘f*** the police’ shit. So any rap songs with references to smoking blunts or smoking weed or joints or weed? We were eating it all up. Every bit of it.”

Shiest Bubz

Related

The 23 dankest lyrics about loud weed

23. Be in the building

(Instagram / @ShiestBubz)
Shiest Bubz (left), Stoney Mama (middle), and Smoke DZA (right). (Instagram / @ShiestBubz)

Bubz has known Happy Munkey’s Vlad Bautista since the 90s when both worked the original market. Both are now major influencers in the cannabis space thanks in part to one principle: “You must be in the room to influence change.”

At Vlad’s 40th birthday party at The Dream Hotel in December, Bubz told Pothead University, “I’ve known (Vlad) since I was a teenager. He’s still out here repping for the culture not the vultures.” And Bubz doesn’t just show his face at parties. He can also dip into the political space. “Even though it seems as if I’m in a political role in cannabis, I’m actually not, I’m actually there to gain information first hand instead of word of mouth,” Bubz told Leafly after he spoke with New York’s cannabis regulators about how to protect and empower original operators from those treating the gray market like a gold rush.

Shiest Bubz is one of New York’s most visible legacy operators. He said his presence at the Mayor’s press conference was to ensure that Black and brown communities are protected from cannabis prosecution, as well as bootleg products that harm legitimate cannabis businesses and unsuspecting customers. (NYC Mayor’s Office)
Shiest Bubz is one of New York’s most visible legacy operators. He said his recent presence at a Mayor’s office press conference was to ensure that Black and brown communities are protected from cannabis prosecution, as well as bootleg products that harm legitimate cannabis businesses and unsuspecting customers. (NYC Mayor’s Office)

“I’m not just sitting back and waiting for someone to translate something to me. I’m actually putting my due diligence to try to be in those rooms where the conversation is happening. Because I look at a lot of the people who play these positions in cannabis as inexperienced. They know law writing and cliche paperwork.”

Shiest Bubz

24. Legitimize your grind

(Instagram / Shiest Bubz)
(Instagram / Shiest Bubz)

Bubz did not wait for a license to turn his cannabis hustle legit. After decades of providing bud for famous and local clientele in New York, Bubz partnered with Rolling Loud and Packwoods to become an ambassador that gifts artists weed in their suites. Now, he gets paid to do what he’s always done in New York City: Connect VIPs with very important packs.

In 2007, Bubz said he learned the legacy-to-legal grind from rapper and exec Jim Jones in the music space. “Jim Jones took me to a lot of label meetings and taught me how to flip the street game to the rap game, because there is a difference,” Shiest said. “Cam’ron also taught me a lot about the game,” Shiest said while promoting Purple City.

25. Empower the people

Caption: Labor peace agreements in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were fought for by cannabis workers unions including UFCW. (UFCW)
Shiest Bubz (top left) pictured with cannabis workers union UFCW. (UFCW)

Bubz was one of many cannabis entrepreneurs in support of New York cannabis workers’ push to unionize. At the Black CannaBiz Expo in New Orleans in 2022. UFCW is one of the country’s largest workers’ unions, and Bubz has given his full support to the movement to get all New York budtenders and cannabis employees union protections.

Related

New Yorkers may soon be buying weed from union budtenders. Here’s why

26. Collaborate don’t compete 

The GUMBOs, Luka Brazi and Alexis Major, pose with Shiest Bubz after recording an interview on his Heavy Smoke podcast in New York’s Cookies store. (Instagram)
The GUMBOs, Luka Brazi and Alexis Major, pose with Shiest Bubz after recording an interview on his Heavy Smoke podcast in New York’s Cookies store. (Instagram)

There’s a lot of competition to dominate New York’s growing cannabis culture. But Shiest is not getting pulled into rivalries with his fellow operators. There’s way too much weed to sell, and too many smokers to serve to be worried about the next operation. Thankfully, the Heavy Smoke podcast is the perfect platform for Bubz to show the entire community that cooperation is key. One of the show’s best interviews to date was with The GUMBOs, Luka Brazi and Alexis Major. From their shared roots in Harlem’s Dipset era, to their bright futures ahead in the legal game, it’s truly inspiring to see the cannabis industry’s pioneers join forces in representing positivity.

27. Stay ahead of the curve

(Purple City Productions)
(Purple City Productions)

During the 2000s, Bubz was at the forefront of online cross-branding and marketing music and marijuana. Unlike many of his peers, he didn’t need a major label or marketing department to capture the attention of listeners nationwide. And long before artists like Berner, Wiz, and JAY-Z used their music platforms to brand bud, Bubz was branding his purple piff across the East Coast with flashy album covers, gaudy fashion, and well-produced mixtapes under the Purple City name. Today, he sees the entire industry building on his blueprint and can’t help but feel ahead of his time.

“We got the internet, so the things that were so ritual to us back in the days, are just a normality. Now it’s like if you got the brand, you got your bag, you got your shirt, you know what I mean? You got a song, it’s all regular, it’s all cliche. It’s like a wheel turning now.”

Shiest Bubz on branding in cannabis

Related

Berner is among music’s wealthiest artists—and it’s thanks to legal weed

28. Be legendary

(Instagram / @ShiestBubz)
(Instagram / @ShiestBubz)

After giving it some time, Bubz is coming around on that hot-button “legacy,” term. “I like the word legacy,” he told Leafly in January. “I just feel–like I said before,” referring to his Honeysuckle interview. He still questions the intentions of those using the term, holding  strong that the cannabis landscape is not fertile terrain to be colonized and capitalized. Original members were buying and selling weed before it became regulated. And they will continue to, with or without the government’s permission, or the legal industry’s euphemisms.

“It’s all good. I rock with “legacy.” It dresses up what we’ve done for so many years in a better way… I just feel like true legacy has to be recognized and not just as one or two persons like myself. I’m not trying to wear any hat like that. If I have to, I will. To make sure the market and the people who built this market have some type of outlet to participate legally in the game.”

Shiest Bubz

Just remember this: When it comes to cannabis. Shiest Bubz isn’t just legacy. He’s legend.





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New Device to Help Police Detect Cannabis-Impaired Drivers 

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When we think of DUI testing, what usually comes to mind are roadside sobriety evaluations and breathalyzer tests for alcohol. Despite how prevalent the use of illicit drugs may be, nothing really holds a candle to alcohol when it comes to DWI-related vehicular incidents. But as a growing number of states go against the federal government and legalize cannabis either for medical (38 states) or recreational (24 states and Washington D.C.) use, the topic how to reduce the number of stoned drivers on the road is of greater relevance.  

Until now, no reliable testing methods were available; but a police department in the Midwestern United States recently unveiled a new device that will help detect cannabis-impaired drivers. Let’s take a closer look at how it all works.  

DUI testing – how it works 

The terms DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI/OWI (Driving/Operating While Intoxicated), are pretty self-explanatory. It means that a person was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a mind-altering substance. Most often, these cases involve alcohol or some type of illegal substance like heroin, methamphetamine, or even cannabis. In some circumstances, even OTC medications like Nyquil and Benadryl can lead to a DUI arrest because they cause drowsiness and can negatively impact motor skills.  

While some people can handle perfectly handle driving after smoking a little bit of weed or taking some cold medication (pro tip, opt for the non-drowsy varieties), the general rule of thumb is that you should be sober and clearheaded when behind the wheel of car – and never drive after drinking alcohol or using any other heavy substance. Afterall, driving is a huge responsibility. It’s not just your own life you hold in your hands, but those of your passengers as well as other drivers and pedestrians on the road. 

When a person is pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence, the officer will first begin conducting field sobriety testing. “Field Sobriety Tests” (commonly shortened to FSTs) consist of several roadside evaluations such as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), the Walk and Turn test (WAT), and the One Leg Stand test (OLS), during which the officer gauges a suspect’s balance, coordination, ability to follow instructions, overall behavior, and other physiological and psychological responses that would indicate the person is driving under the influence.  

If a person fails these tests, then the suspect would be subjected to a breathalyzer test. The driver blows into a handheld device that measures the concentration of alcohol in their lungs to determine an approximate amount of alcohol that is in their blood. If the person is for some reason unable to perform a breathalyzer test, due to illness or injury of some sort, then they will have to do a blood test to measure their blood alcohol content (BAC). Anything over 0.08 percent is beyond the legal limit and will result in a DWI charge.  

A DUI can result in hefty fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time

Because breathlyzers only work for alcohol, officers must rely on field sobriety tests and testing of bodily fluids to determine whether a person is driving under the influence of any other substance. While blood and urine testing might be accurate for some drugs, it’s not for cannabis because it stays in the system much longer than other illicit substances. As the legal market continues to grow, government officials continue searching for effective ways to find and cite stoned drivers.  

Officers in the US begin “cannabis roadside impairment” testing  

Earlier this month, Minnesota-based newspaper the Star Tribune reported that officers will begin conducting roadside sobriety testing to detect and arrest cannabis-impaired drivers. Within the next few weeks, they will begin utilizing a new saliva-based test that will gauge the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their systems.  

This pilot project with sort through several different testing devices to see which are most accurate, and plan to narrow it down to only two that will be used in the field. Because driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal, regardless of whether it’s prohibited in the state or not, finding ways to stop stoned driving is a requirement of their new recreational cannabis program. It’s important to note that during this trial period, results from these tests will not be admissible in court.  

“I would expect that by this time next month, the units will be in the field and will be in use,” said Mike Houston, director of Minnesota’s Office of Traffic Safety. “Other states that have legalized cannabis have used these test methods with their law enforcement to find probable cause. 

Additionally, the state will start utilizing what’s known as drug recognition experts (DREs) who will be responsible for identifying drivers who might be operating a vehicle while high. So far, Minnesota has more than 300 DREs in employment, with plans to increase those numbers by early 2025. 

“Our goal is to put enough DREs on the road where a street cop, anywhere in the state of Minnesota, within 20 or 30 minutes … can either have a DRE on scene or at the very least have a phone consultation,” Hanson explained. “We’re being very proactive as we come up on legalization and when the dispensaries will actually open.” 

What’s the point?

Why are so many resources going towards stopping stoned drivers?

It’s up for debate whether cannabis intoxication even has that much of an effect on driving at all. Although driving stoned can sometimes affect reaction times and peripheral vision, people typically compensate for these shortcomings by driving more carefully. That being said, some people really just do not drive well after using cannabis products and they should avoid doing it. What’s nice about these situations, is that people are can’t drive stoned usually avoid doing it anyway because it’s unpleasant and causes anxiety. 

It’s important to note that I’m not advocating for stoned driving or encouraging anyone to smoke pot and hop in the driver’s seat. However, based on years of anecdotal evidence, as well as recent studies and other forms of data on the subject, it’s safe to assume that it’s less dangerous to drive while under the influence of cannabis, rather than alcohol, heroin, or pretty much any other intoxicating substance.

Which begs the question, why is so much money and effort being put into cannabis-related sobriety testing? And what about tests geared specifically towards other drugs? How many times have we seen people passed out behind the wheel of a car after a heroin binge? Or a methed-out driver making crazy maneuvers and terrifying everyone around with their road rage? Why are we so focused on stopping drivers who smoke pot rather than drivers who are using much more dangerous substances?

Maybe because it’s easier to make arrests, and thus, more profitable for the state? Since a larger percentage of the population uses cannabis products as opposed to harder drugs, and it can be easier for a police officer to detect the presence of marijuana than it would be other substances. It seems almost like a fish-in-the-barrel type of situation; as unfair as that ultimately is.  

Final thoughts  

Even though cannabis-impaired drivers aren’t the biggest threat to our safety on the road, ideally, drivers should be as sober as possible. And since such a large number of Americans enjoy marijuana on a regular basis, it should come as no surprise that technology and regulations are changing to keep up with the evolving market and culture.

Hello readers. We’re happy to have you with us at Cannadelics.com; a news source here to bring you the best in independent reporting for the growing cannabis and hallucinogen fields. Join us frequently to stay on top of everything, and subscribe to our Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter, for updates straight to your email. Check out some awesome promos for cannabis buds, smoking devices and equipment like vapes, edibles, cannabinoid compounds, amanita mushroom products, and a whole bunch more. Let’s all get stoned together!



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Cannabis Edibles Market 2023 – And What’s Upcoming

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2023 was a great year for edibles, which accounts for a growing segment of the market. What were the most popular edible products, and what should we expect moving forward? Read on.

What counts as a cannabis edible?

The term ‘edible’ implies that the product in question, is put in the mouth and swallowed. However, this can be accounted for differently. For example, oils and tinctures are put in the mouth, but they are rarely referred to as edibles. At the same time, pills certainly aren’t food, but are often included in the edibles category. So its important when talking about edibles, to define the parameters of the definition.

Edibles are most often thought of as food products. And whereas this category used to consist of only fat-based products that THC could be directly leached into through butter use; the process of emulsions now makes it possible to create edible products out of just about anything, which has expanded the market to include tons of food products.

Edibles do come with one of the bigger issues related to the weed industry, and it’s the one concerning increasing THC levels. While this is also relevant to concentrate products like oil, and vapes, and even applies to cannabis flower itself; the edibles issues is an intensified version. This is because it involves a wait time for action, which often leads to people consuming more than they should.

Cannabis edibles market includes baked goods
Cannabis edibles market includes baked goods

As cannabis effects last much longer when taken as an edible, this can also mean a prolonged period of sickness for those who do go overboard. This is less likely to happen with smoking or vaping, since the effects are felt immediately, and the user knows more quickly how the product will make them feel.

Edibles used to be a fringe part of the industry; but with the start of legalized markets, the use of them, and corresponding product offerings, have skyrocketed. As with the whole industry, the fact that so much of the market is a black market, means its hard to say the overall market share of a particular segment. All data relates to legal sales. However, as buying trends shouldn’t be different between the two markets (most people never know they’re in an illegal dispensary); this data can shed light on the overall market.

What edibles do people like most?

Let’s start by looking at which types of edibles get the most traction. In this case, the information comes from Statista, and edibles include the following: candy, chocolate (as a separate category from candy), infused foods, beverages, pills, and other. So, though this breakdown includes pills, it doesn’t involve oils or tinctures.

According to the Statista breakdown, candy is the most popular category, accounting for 74% of the edibles market. This makes sense as gummies are wildly popular. Next up is chocolate, which could be thought of as candy. Separately, it accounts for 8% of the market. This is the same as pills, which also account for 8%. Next is cannabis beverages, which make up 6%, followed by infused foods with 3%, and other products, at 1%. If candy and chocolate are put together, they account for 82% of the market.

Infused products include literally any other food besides candy that has THC infused into it. So this can be ketchup, or chips, or beef jerky, or salad dressing. Some of these might be less convenient, or less easy to dose, than a basic gummy or chocolate square. In terms of the category ‘other,’ it is unclear what falls into it, but whatever does, only takes a small amount of the market.

Another Statista report showed something else interesting; that most edibles users prefer smaller doses closer to 5mg. In fact, 5mg was more popular than 10mg edibles, which were preferred by 17% of users. This could indicate that while illegal dispensaries advertise edibles with extremely high amounts of THC, that this might not actually be preferred by consumers.

Cannabis can be eaten as an edible
Cannabis can be eaten as an edible

The value of the edibles market

Once again we’re dealing with the idea that much of what gets sold, is actually on the black market; for which we don’t have figures, and which doesn’t play into the value of a legal market. Just to be clear on this point; while dispensaries can be found all over the place in any legal state, nearly every state also has a massive deficit in legal dispensaries. This indicates that much of what is sold, isn’t part of the legal market.

A Global Market Insights report from October of this year, stated that the cannabis edibles market was valued at just over $8 billion in 2022. According to this report, the market is estimated to experience a compounded annual growth rate of 16.5% from 2023-2032. It’s expected to be worth over $37 billion by 2032, according to this company.

Estimates in this industry should always be taken with a grain of salt, however. Just remember CBD was meant to have skyrocketed in use by now, and in reality, this didn’t happen beyond a point; and certainly not outside medical markets. Plus, as this only pertains to a legal market, growth of the black market, or a divergence from the legal market, could make this number way smaller; even if edible use increases.

For now, Global Market Insights gives the statistic that edibles should take up about 17% of the global cannabis market by 2032. It also says that as of 2022, that just over 50% of edibles are THC dominant, globally. Also for 2022, GMI says that cannabis baked good products accounted for $4.27 billion in market value globally; while in North America, the entire edibles industry was valued at $3.6 billion in 2022.

As a testament to the lack of ability for consistent numbers – due mostly to these being state industries; different companies have differing numbers for market size, and for growth expectations. For example, GlobeNewsWire estimated the 2022 market to be bigger, at $9.6 billion. It gives an expectation for 2030, not 2032, but puts the number at $27.2 billion.

Edibles compared to other cannabis products

How much of the overall market share do edibles take up? According to Cannabis Business Times from December 26th of this year, edibles account for 13% of sales, while flower accounts for 40%, and vapes take up 25%.

Cannabis beverages are also edibles
Cannabis beverages are also edibles

This is a couple percentage points higher than an estimate from 2020, which put the edibles market at 11% of the total cannabis market. This came from an analysis of seven states by the company Headset, and included data from California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, only. According to that analysis, edibles use rose to 11% in 2020, from 10.65% in 2019.

There aren’t too many other companies giving a statistic here. Likely because it involves accumulating the data of different states, since there isn’t federal oversight. On a state level, there is also information to consider, which adds to the overall picture. Like for Connecticut, which reported that in November 2023, 12% of sales were from edibles, while 50% and 31% came from flower and vapes, respectively. This is close to the 13% given by Cannabis Business Times.

Edibles are eyed as a growing trend; and the increase in expected market size indicates that its thought the market will rise even more, and quite profusely. We’ll have to wait for next year’s numbers to see how fast this happens, or if some new trend comes up first, to offset this current one.

Conclusion

It’s been an interesting year in the world of weed; with tons of legal changes, new products, interesting research, and changing trends. 2024 is sure to bring us even more; in the cannabis edibles market, and beyond. So, here’s to having a safe, happy, and healthy new year; complete with all the weed products you could ever dream of.

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30 weed predictions very likely to come true in 2024

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Two out of three ain’t bad, readers. Leafly News got it right 66 percent of the time in December 2022 when we made 51 predictions about weed in 2023. 

We scored 34 accurate prognostications, nine misses (sorry New Hampshire legalization), and eight maybes.

What will 2024 hold for the wide world of weed?

Leafly senior editor David Downs and Great Moments in Weed History podcast host David Bienenstock burn down the list of likely things to happen. The podcast will be out later in December. But here’s our full predictions list.

2024 weed politics

Hippie Hill on April 20th, 2023. (David Downs/Leafly)
Hippie Hill on April 20th, 2023. (David Downs/Leafly)

Will Congress legalize cannabis in 2024?

We’d bet no. Congress must crawl before it can walk, and it couldn’t even pass a weed banking bill this year. We expect more executive orders and policy changes like President Biden’s weed pardons.

For example, we foresee marijuana moving to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act in time for the election. It seems like the administration has that in their pocket for young Democrat voters.

“It will be the most profound change in years,” said veteran weed author/podcaster David Bienenstock. “Write to your elected officials.”

What about hemp rules?

We foresee some cosmetic attempts to rein in the hemp CBD market but I don’t see it translating to real-world results in terms of ending the delta-8 wild west. The FDA will continue warning CBD sellers, and will propose guardrails on CBD formulations.

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“Cannabis [as opposed to hemp] as we have understood it for literal millennia is the gold standard for how to access these compounds,” said Bienestock. “Access should be a human right.”

What states will and won’t legalize weed next year?

Oklahoma, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire will talk about but won’t legalize adult-use cannabis.

Related

How to order weed delivery online with Leafly

Florida will legalize adult-use in 2024, and it’ll drive a purple wave in Florida that’ll help keep President Biden in office. It’s a bold prediction, but we like to live dangerously. Otherwise, what’s the point?

We’ll see more city, county, and state-level expungement efforts. We’ll see more new legalization states try to earmark licenses for drug war victims.

2024 cannabis consumer experiences

Moe Greens cannabis lounge in San Francisco (Leafly File Photo by Jamie Soja)
Moe Greens cannabis lounge in San Francisco (Leafly File Photo by Jamie Soja)

2024 will see hundreds of new dispensaries open up across the country and new and newly maturing states drive the retail wave. We’ll see more delivery options in more places, and more pickup.

Expect more weed lounges

Weed consumers will be able to go to a dozen more lounges in 2024, whether it’s Las Vegas, West Hollywood, or the tribal lands of Buffalo, NY.

“We need a place to smoke weed,” said Bienenstock. “It’s going to help these communities that are more forward-thinking about cannabis to be rewarded for that.”

What are the next hype strains?

In terms of cannabis cultivars, we expect purple candy-gas strains to stay the center of the bell curve of the market. The Leafly Strain of the Year Permanent Marker wave will build. We’ll see lots of quality Z work, and more Superboof and Trop Cookies projects. As a counter-point to sweets, we’re anticipating a sour wave and a savory surge.

In 2024, we’re going to start The Ugly Weed movement for weed that tastes great but does not look so perfect. Ditto for the Under 20% THC movement, and Weird Terps movement. 

We think live rosin will keep gaining marketshare in 2024.

We expect the seeds market to get even bigger, but also tougher for startup entrants.

We expect 2024 to be a banger year for weed events! April 20th lands on a Saturday and the scenes in San Francisco and New York will be unrivaled.

New York itself will be much more fun in 2024—with a slew of stores opening, better pot, and world-class experiences.

Related

Legal weed farmer’s market pops up near New York’s Times Square

2024 in weed science and health

Terps are not the whole story. (Courtesy Abstrax)
Terps are not the whole story. (Courtesy Abstrax)

We’re going to see deeper research into flavorants, esters, and other non-terpenes that drive smell and effects.

More data on the efficacy of CBD will come in.

More potency and purity studies of the hemp market will reveal the need for better oversight.

The vape market will engage in some much-needed self-regulation by better-scrutinizing vape additives.

THC potency inflation battles will continue with fresh lawsuits and regulations.


So there’s a tight 30 predictions for 2024, Leafly Nation. Go out there and smoke the weed you want to see in the world. As I told Bien on the podcast: ‘I’m rooting for the plant. And I’m not worried about it.’



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