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Astronauts to Test Cannabis Growth in Outer Space

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NASA‘s recent collaboration with the International Space Research Consortium to launch a mission testing the cultivation of cannabis in the microgravity of space has stirred a whirlwind of interest and controversy across the globe. This initiative aims to unravel the mysteries of how low-gravity environments affect plant growth, with cannabis serving as the pioneering subject. According to Dr. Alfred Terra, the esteemed lead scientist spearheading the project, the conditions in space present an “unparalleled opportunity” to push the boundaries of our understanding of botany and its applications in medicine and agriculture beyond Earth’s confines.

This ambitious endeavor aims to shed light on the potential for utilizing space-based agriculture to support long-duration space missions and future colonization efforts on other planets. The choice of cannabis as a research subject is particularly intriguing due to its complex biochemical makeup and its increasing use in medicinal therapies on Earth. Insights gained from how cannabis adapts to space’s harsh environment could lead to breakthroughs in growing food and medicinal plants in extraterrestrial colonies.

Despite the scientific excitement surrounding the mission, the announcement has been met with its share of skepticism and criticism. Some members of the scientific community and the general public question the allocation of resources toward cannabis research in space, arguing that more pressing scientific and exploratory questions merit attention aboard the International Space Station (ISS). These critics call for a focus on projects that directly contribute to our understanding of space travel’s impacts on human physiology or further our knowledge of the cosmos.

However, the space agencies involved have been quick to highlight the broader implications of this research. They argue that studying cannabis growth in microgravity could offer invaluable insights into plant biology, stress responses, and the possibility of cultivating a variety of crops in space, which are crucial for the long-term sustainability of space exploration and eventual human settlement on other planetary bodies.

Amidst the debates over the mission’s merits and the speculation spurred by its announcement date—April 1st—lies a deeper curiosity about the future of space exploration and the role of innovative agricultural research in that journey. The timing has led some to question the announcement’s authenticity, pondering whether it could be an elaborate April Fool’s Day jest aimed at sparking discussion or simply a coincidence that has amplified the public’s fascination with the project.

Whether viewed as a bold step into the future of space agriculture or a controversial choice of research focus, the mission symbolizes a growing intersection between space exploration and the quest to understand and utilize biological processes in unprecedented environments. As the launch date approaches and preparations continue, the world watches, eager to see what insights this venture might unfold about cannabis, plant science, and the potential for life beyond Earth.

*** This article is an April Fool’s Day joke ***



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A Hiring Wave on the Horizon

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The U.S. cannabis industry is on the brink of a significant hiring wave in 2024, spurred by a 12% increase in legal sales in 2023, reaching $29 billion. This growth, alongside potential federal reclassification of cannabis, is expected to create up to 100,000 new jobs, particularly in the retail sector, where 93% of companies plan to expand their workforce. The Vangst 2024 Cannabis Salary Guide highlights an industry ready to bounce back from previous economic stagnation, with a strong emphasis on experience, adaptability, and cultural fit in prospective employees.

The cannabis sector is poised for a massive expansion in employment opportunities in 2024, following a year of economic challenges and layoffs. This optimistic forecast comes from Vangst’s latest industry salary guide, which anticipates a hiring boom driven by increased legal cannabis sales and the potential for federal rescheduling. The anticipated move to reclassify cannabis to Schedule III could significantly reduce tax burdens, increase company valuations, and attract more investors, according to Viridian Capital Advisors.

Retail cannabis companies are at the forefront of this hiring surge, with nearly all surveyed indicating plans to bolster their teams in response to growing demand and market expansion. The focus is not just on filling positions but on finding candidates who can navigate the evolving legal and market landscape, prioritize cultural fit, and possess strong communication skills over traditional qualifications.

Salaries in the cannabis industry have also seen an uptick, with top-end wages growing by 4.7%, outpacing the national non-cannabis average. However, the sector still trails behind others in offering comprehensive benefits packages, a gap that affects employee satisfaction and retention. The demand for health insurance and better work-life balance is clear among job seekers in the cannabis space.

Diversity and inclusion are gaining traction within cannabis company hiring practices, with a significant portion of companies implementing strategies to create a more inclusive workforce. The industry’s employment of veterans and individuals with disabilities highlights its diverse nature, but there remains room for improvement.

Why It Matters: This hiring wave marks a pivotal moment for the cannabis industry, signaling a shift towards recovery and growth after a period of stagnation. It underscores the industry’s resilience and its potential to contribute significantly to the economy through job creation and increased sales.

Potential Implications: The anticipated hiring boom in the cannabis industry could lead to wider acceptance and normalization of cannabis use, further influencing policy changes and societal attitudes. Additionally, the focus on diversity and inclusion could set a precedent for other sectors, promoting a more inclusive workforce across industries.

Source: Green Market Report



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86% of Californians Support Legal Cannabis Markets

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A recent survey conducted by the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and FM3 Research reveals that a significant majority of Californians, 86%, believe it’s important to purchase cannabis from legal markets. The survey also indicates growing support for Proposition 64 and highlights the need for consumer education on legal cannabis procurement.

California, a pioneer in legalizing medical cannabis in 1996 and later adult-use cannabis in 2016, has developed into the world’s largest cannabis market. The DCC’s Real California Cannabis Campaign, aimed at guiding consumers to licensed dispensaries, commissioned FM3 Research to survey over 1,000 California adults to gauge their attitudes towards the state’s cannabis market. Key findings include:

  • 62% view Proposition 64 positively, suggesting increased support for cannabis reform.
  • 86% of respondents stress the importance of buying cannabis from legal sources.
  • 72% feel consumers should ensure they’re purchasing from licensed retailers.
  • Despite the legal market’s size, illegal sales remain prevalent, with two-thirds of cannabis sales in 2022 coming from the illicit market.
  • The California Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) reported significant seizures in 2023, including over $312 million in illegal cannabis and 119 firearms, showcasing efforts to combat illegal operations.
  • The survey uncovered education gaps, with 85% of respondents in areas where retail cannabis is banned either misinformed or unaware of local cannabis laws.
  • Opinions on identifying licensed retailers were divided, with 44% finding it easy and 42% finding it challenging.

Why It Matters: This survey underscores the growing acceptance of legal cannabis markets among Californians and the critical role of consumer education in supporting legal operations. It highlights the ongoing battle against illicit sales and the importance of regulatory efforts to ensure a safe, legal cannabis market.

Potential Implications: The findings could influence future cannabis policies in California, emphasizing the need for public education campaigns and stricter enforcement against illegal operations. It also suggests a potential shift in consumer behavior towards supporting legal cannabis sources, which could further legitimize and stabilize the legal market.

Source: High Times



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Menthol Cigarette Ban Could Save Lives in the Black Community

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A study simulating the public health impact of a US menthol cigarette ban reveals significant potential benefits for the non-Hispanic black population. Implementing the ban could lead to a substantial decrease in smoking rates, resulting in approximately 255,895 premature deaths averted and 4.0 million life years gained over a 40-year period.

The US FDA‘s (Food and Drug Administration) proposal to ban menthol cigarettes has sparked a critical analysis of its potential public health effects, especially among the non-Hispanic black (NHB) population, who have higher rates of menthol cigarette use. A simulation study applied the Menthol Smoking and Vaping Model to the NHB population, comparing a status quo scenario with a menthol ban scenario from 2021 to 2060.

The findings suggest that the ban could lead to a 35.7% reduction in overall smoking by 2026 and a 25.3% reduction by 2060, compared to the status quo. This reduction in smoking rates is projected to avert approximately 255,895 premature deaths and gain 4.0 million life years over the 40-year period, highlighting the ban’s potential to significantly reduce smoking-associated health impacts and disparities within the NHB population.

Why It Matters: The study underscores the importance of implementing a menthol cigarette ban to address health disparities and improve public health outcomes, particularly among the non-Hispanic black population. By significantly reducing smoking rates, the ban could lead to considerable health gains and contribute to narrowing the health disparity gap.

Potential Implications: The findings support the FDA’s proposal for a menthol cigarette ban, suggesting it could be a crucial step toward reducing health disparities and improving public health. This study may influence policy decisions and encourage further research on the impact of tobacco product regulation on different population groups.

Source: NY Times

More stats: Current smoking has declined from 20.9% (nearly 21 of every 100 adults) in 2005 to 11.5% (nearly 12 of every 100 adults) in 2021. More data is the “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States” report by the CDC.



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