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How to take a Thanksgiving weed walk with your cousins

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Thanksgiving is built around traditions, and few traditions are more honored and yet less publicly discussed than the annual weed walk ‘n bake among cousins.

Call it what you will. The herbal appetizer. The pre-game. The halftime stroll. The weed walk. The beer run. The safety meeting.

The goal is simple: Hit the jay with your cousins. How you get there may require some strategizing.

The goal is simple: Exit the family gathering to enjoy a little cannabis with your cousins. Return calmed, uplifted, refreshed, and with a botanically enhanced appetite.

The strategems necessary to carry out this task are as varied as the screwballs and nutjobs that you call family.

To help you get through Thanksgiving, I recently polled a group of experienced cannabis consumers to elicit tips, tricks, advice, and anecdotes related to this annual ritual. Contributors have been granted anonymity in the name of holiday household serenity.

Be prepared (and don’t forget the weed)

Think through your house exit, your activity, and your re-entrance. You will need a reasonably legitimate excuse to leave, and you will have the odor of weed about you upon your return.

J-man, a certified Thanksgiving safety officer, says: “If you’re concerned about your breath, be sure to bring some mints or gum with you. I personally recommend cinnamon-flavored gum or mints, as the spice blends in with the Thanksgiving food offerings.”

Others offered a list of items to stash in the car, including:

  • Visine eye drops
  • Febreze or any other scented spray
  • Basketball, football, soccer ball, or other sportsballing device
  • Lighter
  • Weed

Above all, bring enough warm outerwear to assure your comfort. A puffy jacket and knit hat usually suffice.

Do not bring edibles

Your family can’t handle them. Seriously. Word will get around, someone will insist on trying for the first time, and you’ll spend all evening talking them down. Or explaining why the gummies still haven’t kicked in. Either way, a lose-lose.

Your family can’t handle edibles.

Joints work best because of the pass-around factor and an all-around sense of tradition. Bring a box of 3 to 5, and share.

Vapes are fine, as they offer a more subtle low-odor option. And they make a good conversation piece. (“Ooh tell me about that new DaVinci!”)

No rigs. This is neither the time nor the place to offer anyone their first dab.

Ah, tradition

fake-anti-marijuana-ad
This fake ad has been debunked a billion times and we’re running it just for fun. But it’s no worse than many other ads that actually did run during the “Just Say No” 1980s.

Lay the groundwork

It’s not a bad idea to “forget” one or two items outside in the car. Or a non-critical food offering that may be procured at a nearby convenience store.

Danksgiving expert Sam advises: “Always greet your grandma before the safety meeting so you don’t reek when you go in for a hug!”

Also: Check in early with that cousin who’s actually a bigger stoner than you. Align your goals. Make sure he or she doesn’t slip out without you.

photo-of-NFL-players-eating-turkey
If you’re seeing New Orleans Saints players eating turkey on the TV, it’s way past time for the weed walk. You want to time it for the first half of the Cowboys game. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Know your NFL time slots: The Detroit Lions always play the Thanksgiving early game, followed by the Dallas Cowboys’ extravaganza in Jerry World. The New Orleans Saints own the late game. This lineup has remained an unbroken tradition since the 1620s.

The Cowboys game is prime time for most safety meetings, as the older folks who might frown on your shenanigans are going to be parked on the sofa bitching about the ‘Boys not feeding Zeke the ball.

Remember: Nobody cares about the Lions game. Your male cisgender elders will, however, always be cheered by a show of interest in the sporting team from Texas. “How them Cowboys doin’, Grandpa?” is a question that functions as an alarmingly effective intergenerational bonding mechanism.

Keep the exit excuse simple

No need to make this into a Da Vinci Code subplot. “Just going for a stroll” will get you out the door clean, 80% of the time. If a known family narc (though we love them) volunteers to come along, advise them that it’s a “cousins only” walk. “You and I definitely need some catching-up time this afternoon,” you may say, “but I only get to see this crew once a year and I really treasure it.”

It’s just a walk. And it’s cousins-only.

Stacey recalls: “My sisters and I would tell our parents we wanted to do our own turkey trot. We would go on a smoke walk on a nearby trail before we had to start cooking. Then we would come back happy and ready to cook and would take turns sneaking out on our back deck while someone would stand watch. Now that we’re older my parents don’t care and know exactly what’s going on.”

Alternately, you may say that you and the cousins are “hatching a plan” and hint that the excluded party will be surprised and delighted by the results of this plotting.

man-going-out-to-buy-beer
“Going out for more beer” is an excuse nobody will question, especially if you’re buying. (AdobeStock)

Brad, a longtime safety officer, says: I’ll volunteer to pick up a case of beer an hour before dinner will be ready so that ‘no one will have to go out after,’ and so I’ll get the beer and on the way back smoke with my cousins.”

Danksgiving veteran Tom recalls: “My cousins and I would excuse ourselves 90 minutes or so before dinner time, saying we wanted to go for a long walk to the park to ‘build up an appetite.’ We’d throw the basketball around and get high, then walk back for the festivities just in time to sit down and eat. Many years later we found out there was another subset of older adults doing the same thing, but out in the woods out back.”

Look for the signs

Anna, no newbie, says: “My older brother’s car is the spot. When you start seeing some suggestive eye contact or a very particular set of people disappearing one by one, you know you gotta head for that Hyundai or risk missing the sesh or a seat.”

Develop your own lingo

al-roker-with-random-celebrities
“Al Roker,” shown here with two young celebrities, is both an excellent code name and a real person who would be a gas to get high with. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Dress up your code to suit the holiday. Phrases like “Mama Stamberg’s cranberry relish,” or “Let’s go live to Al Roker on the parade route” can mean any number of things.

Stacey again: “My sisters and I always referred to weed as ‘coffee,’ so it was always, ‘Hey I could use coffee with dessert. Anybody putting a pot on?’ That was the signal to leave the stash by the back deck door to ‘sip’ on.”

Setting is important

Everybody loves to joke about hotboxing, but if you hotbox your brother’s Hyundai you will exit the car reeking of weed—your clothes, your skin, your hair, everything.

Fresh air is Mother Nature’s great evidence eraser.

Walking to a nearby park, vacant lot, or just along the side of the road is usually a better option. Fresh air is Mother Nature’s great evidence eraser.

The garage also offers its own opportunities.

Emily says: “Our beverage fridge is in our cold, drafty garage. I’m pulling on my vape by the time I walk into the garage, exhaling as I open the fridge, and walking back in the house scent-free, with a new bottle of wine. Are we running low on beer? There’s some in the garage. Sparkling water? I’ll go grab it. Need to keep that salad cold? I’ll put it somewhere safe in the garage for you.”

Allow for group expansion

photo-of-an-older-person-smoking-cannabis
Don’t assume the older generation isn’t holding safety meetings of their own. (Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance)

With the coming of legalization, there may be surprise-guest additions to your group. Keep an open mind, but there’s no need to spoil the cousin vibe by inviting Uncle Uptight who’s suddenly down with the dank.

There may be room for a second walk as a way to welcome the previously inexperienced. Or maybe the secretly experienced.

T. recalls: “At a recent Thanksgiving at Grandma’s, I dropped my bong in the sink while trying to clean it. It broke, right as my grandmother was walking by. She looked over my shoulder, concerned that I’d broken some china or something. When she saw that it was just the bong I brought, she said ‘Here, let me show you where your cousin’s is hidden,’ because of course, we each have a stash hidden at Grandma’s, and she knows where they all are.

Defunk after the pre-func

News flash: You and your clothing now smell like weed.

Consider leaving your jacket and hat in the car prior to re-entering the house. Some prefer a quick spritz of Febreze. Gum or breath mints can help. Wash your hands and face in Grandma’s guest bathroom—her soaps have that powerful old lady rose scent that’s gonna flatten those lingering terpenes like a goddamn steamroller.

Got no cousins? Treat yourself to some you time

No cousins available? Existing cousins too uptight? Give yourself a little private time in that guest powder room. Remember to drop a towel over the gap between the door and the floor.

Says Nat: “Going for a walk was always too suspicious. It was easier to go to the bathroom and sneak vape hits while standing on the toilet to blow it into the vent so your parents don’t smell it. Just pretend you’re in there ‘making room,’ and that’s why you had to spray so much air freshener.”

And who’s going to question that?

The aftermath

thanksgiving-dinner-table-with-food
Pace yourself. (AdobeStock)

Now go. Eat. If you time it correctly, you are about to enjoy the most delicious Thanksgiving dinner you have ever experienced in your many years on this Earth.

Compliment the food-makers effusively. Fill up a second plate.

Your final task is to scout and lay claim to an easy chair or a cozy spot on the couch. When that combination of THC and tryptophan kicks in you, my friend, are going to enjoy the sleep of the just.

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Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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‘Pot shop’ panic plagues the Canadian cannabis industry

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Politicians are panicking about retail cannabis—the industry is not amused.

In the last month or two, local news reporters across Ontario have emerged from the pandemic and seemingly noticed, to some shock, that cannabis retail has exploded.

There are 1000+ licensed stores in Ontario, and just over 2700 across Canada. These cannabis retail stores—which mainstream media insist on calling pot shops—are often concentrated in urban, commercial areas.

Are there too many pot shops in your neighbourhood?

reads a Toronto Star headline.

But unlike other businesses, like convenience stores or coffee shops, the spread of cannabis retail has been treated as a cause for concern among residents and politicians.

“Are there too many pot shops in your neighbourhood?” asks the Toronto Star; “Harsh reality setting in for cannabis merchants as pot shops multiply,” writes the CBC. In Bloomberg, we hear that analysts are “beginning to sound the alarm.”

You get the point.

But is Ontario’s cannabis retail boom really a cause for alarm (and new legislation)? Some industry professionals would like to see the focus shift to things that need fixing.

From licence lottery to green rush

In 2018, Ontario received a lot of press about the lack of cannabis retail locations due to their confusing lottery system. Now, Ontario is once again in the spotlight, two and a half years later, for having too many cannabis stores.

For a lot of people within the cannabis industry, the sudden attention to the spread of cannabis retail is a bit confusing—after all, a private market was what the province opted for in 2018.

It may have taken a while to ramp up, but the private market approach certainly led to a lot of cannabis shops. But is this truly a case of too many? Ontario surpassing 1000 stores is exactly what experts predicted when legalization began

Last month, two Toronto councillors backed a provincial opposition bill that would grant cities power to regulate where retail cannabis stores open in an attempt to promote retail diversity. “We’re seeing less variety and diversity in the number of retailers,” councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam claimed to CBC.

“I don’t think a day goes by that there’s not at least one news item about the number of stores in Ontario or Toronto,” says cannabis industry lawyer Chad Finkelstein. “I have friends and family who call and say, ‘How could there be so many stores? Can they all survive?’” 

Many people, he says, seem to want to assign blame for this—as if 1,000 stores represented a market failure. Since Ontario hit the milestone, cannabis shops are being treated by politicians like an urgent concern.

Superette has four Toronto storefronts, as well as two in Ottawa. (Superette)

“It’s created a very funky dynamic,” says Mimi Lam, founder of the Superette family of stores in Ottawa and Toronto.

There is a degree of dismay, among retailers like Lam and lobbyists like Retail Cannabis Council of Ontario president Adam Vassos, about the idea of allowing for more involved regulation from cities and the province.

Vassos explains that while the numbers grew quickly, there are positive sides to the boom in retail stores. It’s made for a more competitive market, which ultimately benefits the consumers, and is helpful in reducing illicit cannabis sales. Which after all, was the main goal of legalization in the first place.

The current cannabis retail game is far from perfect

Instead, a better approach might be to fix what is wrong with cannabis retail.

“I’d love to be able to curate my cannabis products the way I want to curate them,” says Lam. She’d love to sell more merch, or let people hang out in her stores, but she can’t. Not yet, anyway. 

So-called pot shops could be lively community hubs if they weren’t so heavily regulated. Stores seem dull and lifeless from the outside, the regulations treat them more like adult novelty stores than the LCBO.

“That’s actually the biggest problem I have. It isn’t the volume of cannabis stores” Finkelstein says. “I think neighbourhoods and communities lose when you’ve got all these covered windows.”

Cannabis retail is treated more like adult novelty stores than alcohol retail. (Photo by Jesse Milns/Leafly)

In Ontario, stores are required to keep cannabis products out of public view. So curtains, frosted glass, long entryways, walls, etc., are used so that no one is able to see inside. It cuts the inside of the stores off from the world outside, which can be dangerous for staff and intimidating to customers.

“You’ve got store after store where there’s something is lost, visually, optically. When everything looks like it’s boarded up? It’s not an appealing visual.”

Like it or not, this is what we wanted, the billion-dollar industry that legalization was always meant to create. We should be treating legalized cannabis as a legitimate retail venture and not some dirty secret to be hidden behind tinted glass.

“Let the market decide,” says Finkelstein, barely hiding his frustration with the way the stores have been cast in the media. “These are entrepreneurs who are taking major risks. That’s part of the beauty of the entrepreneurial spirit.”

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Kieran Delamont

Kieran is a writer and photographer based in Nova Scotia, located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. His work has appeared in Broadview, The Walrus, Maisonneuve, and elsewhere, and he has been writing about the cannabis industry since 2016.

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New Leafly ‘Cannabis Harvest Report’ values crop 5th in the nation

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America has begun winding down its disastrous, century-long war on marijuana. We’re beating swords into plowshares. So what’s coming in from the fields? The answer: America’s 5th most valuable crop.

The first-ever Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report, released today, counted 13,042 cannabis farm licenses in the 11 legal states where retail stores are open. This unprecedented peek into US pot production found farmers growing 2,278 metric tons per year. It’s a mind-boggling number—enough to fill 57 Olympic-size swimming pools, or more than 11,000 dump trucks stretching more than 36 miles.

With US state cannabis prices ranging from about $500 to $3,000 per wholesale pound, you’re looking at a crop worth $6.175 billion per year. As measured against US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, the value of America’s legal cannabis crop ranks fifth nationwide, ahead of cotton. And yet state and federal officials generally do not track it or acknowledge it.

Click here to download the ‘Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report 2021’ as a PDF

Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report Cover Image for web post
Tap the cover image to open the full report in a new tab, and save it for reference. (Leafly)

Pulling back prohibition’s curtain on cannabis

Cherry Cheesecake harvest at Sonoma Hills Farm, Petaluma, CA on October 6, 2021. (David Downs/Leafly)

Why did we count the crop? Because cannabis is as stigmatized as it valuable.

USDA economists track annual yields, prices, and estimated values for nearly every commercial crop grown in America. But they do not track legal cannabis due to the plant’s status as a federal Schedule I drug.

Our goal with the Leafy Harvest Report is to quantify annual cannabis production in operational adult-use states, just like the USDA’s Economic Research Service does for all non-cannabis crops. This is the first time anyone’s done this, as far as we know.

Voters, lawmakers, and industry leaders need these basic facts to make informed decisions. The Harvest Report is the third in this year’s Leafly Reports series, including the Leafly Jobs Report and Leafly Seeds of Change: Strategies to create an equitable cannabis industry.

A huge harvest, even bigger report findings

Here are a few more takeaways from the report:

  • Only corn, soybeans, hay, and wheat return more wholesale revenue to
    American farmers annually.
  • Legal cannabis is the single most valuable crop in Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon.
  • In each of the 11 states with adult-use retail stores operating, cannabis ranks no lower than fifth in crop value—often within two years of the first legal stores opening.
  • In a surprising result, Colorado’s seven-year-old legal cannabis farming industry outproduced California (627 metric tons for Colorado vs. 514 for California). But that lead might not last. After years of slow growth, California’s licensed cultivation sector is finally taking off.
A crop value comparison table showing cannabis from 11 active legal states as ranking 5th in the nation against corn and other crops.
Cannabis ranks 5th in value of crops produced in the US. (Leafly)

How Leafly counted the crop

(Leafly graphic/Photo courtesy Rimrock Farms, CA)
(Leafly graphic/Photo courtesy Rimrock Farms, CA)

Leafly News senior editors David Downs and Bruce Barcott teamed up with Beau Whitney at Whitney Economics to aggregate annual crop data from the 11 states with active, legal adult-use cannabis sales.

We followed the USDA’s method of computing crop value by finding the average wholesale price per pound in a state, and multiplying it by the state’s amount of cannabis produced. In those 11 states, we counted crops destined for both adult-use and medical outlets.

Freelance cannabis journalists Amelia Williams (Debunking Dispensary Myths, 2020) and Zack Ruskin assisted with research and reporting.

Read our full methodology on page 15 of the report.

It’s time to treat cannabis farmers like first-class citizens

(David Downs/Leafly)

Prohibition, over-regulation and over-taxation infringe on Americans’ constitutional right to pursue happiness with regard to cannabis gardening and farming.

The federal government must legalize cannabis for adults, and grandfather in legacy cannabis farmers by establishing low fees and easy licensing procedures.

The Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report summarizes the discrimination cannabis farmers face at both the federal and state levels—years of review and millions of dollars in extra expenditures—just to put seeds in the soil.

Additionally, this $6 billion agricultural sector is under-banked and under-insured. Most farmers have to pay taxes in cash. Thirty-eight state attorneys general have called on Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act, which would increase public safety and tax compliance. Reform measures like the SAFE Banking Act, and especially the MORE Act (which would legalize federally) are long overdue.

Cannabis agriculture predates our country’s union. And a more perfect union would acknowledge and respect the power of this plant.

Click here to email the Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report 2021 to your elected lawmakers, or others.

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Bruce Barcott and David Downs

Bruce Barcott is Leafly’s deputy editor and the author of ‘Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.’ David Downs is Leafly’s California bureau chief and the author of ‘Beyond Buds’ and ‘The Medical Marijuana Guidebook.’

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Autumn strains to kick off cuffing season

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The fall season is upon us! It’s time to break out the sweaters, boots, and embrace all things pumpkin. If you’re searching out a new strain to keep you cozy as temperatures drop, there’s a sea of quality green to pick from to match any budget.

During this brief interlude between summer and the holiday season, let’s take a minute to enjoy the bounty and harvests of autumn. Take a look below for our recommendations on some of the latest and greatest strains to spark up as the leaves change colours. 

Cherry Jam

Cherry Jam, the best kind of sticky fingers. (Wagners)

By: Wagners

Dose: 21% – 26% THC

Skip the cherry pie and grab some Cherry Jam! This strain delivers a deliciously sweet and sour fruity taste with a hint of skunkiness.

Cherry Jam has a robust terpene profile, featuring myrcene, limonene, and pinene for a woodsy finish.

Wagner’s buds are dense and extravagantly coloured, with shiny orange trichomes popping out from the bright green pistils.

Freshly Baked #76

Freshly Baked #76 (OGEN)

By: OGEN

Dose: 20% – 26% THC

Baked goods are best when you’re baked—and OGEN has you covered with these ‘fresh out of the oven’ type nugs.

Their Freshly Baked #76 strain brings a creamy sweetness with a hint of spice built from its genetic roots in cake strains.

The hefty caryophyllene and myrcene content give off that spicy, earthy aroma, with undertones of citrus from limonene.

Mac 1

Mac 1 (Carmel Cannabis)

By: Carmel

Dose: 19% – 25% THC

Craft cannabis requires an extreme level of care, and Carmel’s Mac 1 shows the quality that brings. It packs a creamy citrus punch with a strong gas aroma brought to life through rich terpene content.

The buds boast an elegant range of deep green, purple, and orange hues with a gleaming shine from the crystal coated trichomes. Their nitrogen flushed packaging keeps the product perfectly fresh too, so it’s at its best quality when you take it home. 

Peggy’s Pride

Peggy’s Pride (Msiku)

By: Msiku

Dose: 19% – 24% THC

Fall calls for cinnamon, spice and everything nice, which Peggy’s Pride captures in every toke! This strain gets its genetics from cookie lineages, and the flavour is true to that. Dense concentrations of caryophyllene give a spiced, cinnamon taste, while humulene, linalool, myrcene, and limonene add sweet and fruity subtleties.

Gorilla Berry

Gorilla Berry (GreenSeal)

By: GreenSeal

Dose: 22% – 28% THC

This strain brings together an eclectic mix of genetics crossing Gorilla Glue, Blueberry and OG Kush. The result is a heavy-hitting hybrid with a super sweet blueberry and citrus taste.

Gorilla Berry is an experience for the senses with 2-4% terpene content. Humulene, myrcene, pinene, and caryophyllene give off a subtle earthy and spicy flavour with unmistakably sweet berry overtones. Gorilla Berry’s buds are eye-catching, dense and well-trimmed. 

Orangeade

Orangeade (Tenzo)

By: Tenzo

Dose: 17% – 23% THC

Like a sweet orange creamsicle, Tenzo’s Orangeade is fun, fruity and flavourful.

This cross of Tangie and Purple Punch delivers a sweet-tasting smoke from limonene and humulene content.

The buds have an unreal aesthetic too, with a wild spectrum of orange and purple gleaming through the frosty green nugs. 

Gnarberry

Gnarberry (Shred)

By: Shred

Dose: 17% – 23% THC

If you’re looking to have a, easy sesh at a low price without losing quality, Shred’s Gnarberry can’t be beaten.

This pre-milled cannabis gives a surprisingly strong and flavourful fruity hit at one of the lowest costs available.

While pre-milled flower may turn off some people, it’s great for those who don’t want to grind up buds or have difficulties doing so. 

Afghani Drifter

Afghani Drifter (Greybeard)

By: Greybeard

Dose: 22% – 28% THC

Afghani Drifter is not for the faint of heart, with up to 28% THC potency potential in every nug. The potency is balanced with a robust terpene profile, featuring myrcene, caryophyllene, and limonene.

The bright green buds are covered in trichomes and striking orange filaments. Afghani Drifter gives off a hash-y, earthy aroma with a peppery kick—perfect for snuggling.

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Joe Smith-Engelhardt

Joe Smith-Engelhardt is a Toronto-based freelance writer focusing on music and cannabis. He’s previously written for Alternative Press, Exclaim! and other publications.

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