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Marijuana Dispensaries Linked With Less Opioid Deaths

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Opioid addiction remains to be a leading medical care crisis that the US currently faces. This problem costs the United States economy approximately $500,000,000,000 per year and kills around 100 individuals every day – more than traffic accidents or gun violence.

It forms the primary point of focus of nearly every public health and public policy debate in several cities across the US.

Research shows that emergency hospital visits because of opioid overdose keep increasing every day. The shocking news to note is that marijuana, a federally illegal drug, seems to be a safe and effective solution to this issue.

Therefore, its time for concerned parents, law enforcement officers, physicians, and policymakers to look beyond several years of cannabis stigma. It is the right time to acknowledge the marijuana evidence and recommend publically what this drug can do: minimize the opioid epidemic.

There are a myriad of debates going on how the US can address the opioid crisis. The right way to follow in this case is to treat and stop opioids addiction, minimize and do away with opioid overdoses, and create lasting strategies to ensure the 100 million US residents struggling with chronic pain get relief.

With marijuana, it will become easy to achieve all these goals. But how?

Lets see!

Why Marijuana Is A Perfect Alternative To Opioids

Using cannabis as a pain reliever started thousands of years ago. It even found itself in the earliest Chinese pharmacopeia to offer pain-relieving and several other services.

Besides this, the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians also used marijuana for pain-relieving purposes. Moreover, cannabis fell under the category of the USs mainstream medicines all around the 1800s.

Cannabis features unique molecules within its trichomes called cannabinoids that play a pivotal role in offering pain relieving services. Cannabinoid receptors form one of the critical parts of the brains pain refining regions. Animal studies show that cannabinoids produce quality pain relief when administered right to these brain regions.

Opioid receptors also appear in these brains pain refining regions. Therefore, opioids and marijuana produce almost similar reactions inside the brains in the pain-relieving process. However, the cannabis molecules feature anti-inflammatory properties in opioids, and inflammation forms a significant part of the pain.

Opioids play a vital role in lessening the body pain sensation. On the other hand, cannabis can enhance the bodys ability to deal effectively with pain, improving an individual function in day-to-day life.

Moreover, opioids are more addictive than cannabis and have more undesirable side effects than cannabis. Besides this, its easier to tolerate cannabis than opioids, and its much safer for anyone who needs to take it for a long time.

Furthermore, its virtually impossible to experience a fatal cannabis overdose. However, with opioids, accidental overdose happens from time to time, even when consuming the drugs per the doctors orders.

Comparing the US States That Have/Not Legalized Marijuana

Research shows that US states with medical marijuana laws have significantly lower opioid prescription cases. As per Hefei Wen, States that shifted from medical marijuana use only to recreational marijuana use, such as Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, recorded further opioid prescription reductions.

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Colorado and Oregon recorded a 9% and 10% opioid prescription reduction, respectively. This figure was a smaller decrease but a significant one.

California took the position as the first US state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Since this year, several US states have accepted some legalized marijuana. As per Bradford, each of these states includes chronic pain indirectly/directly in the legalized cannabis list.

Research shows that medical marijuana laws have a significant effect on opioid prescriptions. As per Wen, the US States that accepted recreational marijuana use recorded a 6.38% opioid prescription increase than those US States that approved only medical marijuana.

The procurement technique is another thing that has a significant effect on opioid prescriptions. The US States that approved medical marijuana dispensaries restricted the shops that can sell cannabis.

These States recorded 3,742,000 opioid prescription reductions in one year, while those permitted only marijuana home cultivation recorded 1,792,000 option prescription reductions within one year.

Treating/Preventing Opioid Addiction And Deterioration/Relapse

Withdrawing from Opioid falls under the most dreadful experiences one can endure. This experience explains why relapse/deterioration is a prevalent issue.

It has remained the fact that cannabinoids decrease opioid withdrawal symptoms experienced in animals for several years. Recently, opioid addiction and recovery experts released a report that matched well with these findings. From this report, marijuana minimizes opioid withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings.

Anxiety or negative mood falls under the category of the most significant activators for drug relapse.  Besides this, cannabis remains to be the euphoria producer and optimistic mood promoters.

Therefore, cannabis can translate into fewer relapse triggers and fewer heightened anxiety days. Even cannabidiol can put a stop to anxiety that causes relapse.

As per the opioid therapy hallmark, one must increase the opioid dosage for a specific time to work as required. The brain and the human body become tolerant to opioids quickly, forcing each patient to increase opioid consumption to keep enjoying the pain-relieving service.

Increased opioid consumption and tolerance driven by opioids contribute a lot to opioid abuse.

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Opioids provide powerful pain relief that doesnt have an alternative. However, cannabis can enhance this pain relief when used hand-in-hand with opioids. When patients use cannabis, it means they will need less opioid consumption to relieve pain.

Research shows that patients can minimize the daily opioid dose by half if they decide to use cannabis supplements.

Besides this, research shows that marijuana can put a stop to opioid tolerance development. If you use marijuana before opioid exposure, you can eliminate opioid overdose and opioid abuse risk.

Cannabis provides first-line chronic pain treatment due to its ability to prevent opioid tolerance development and relieve pain when used with opioids. One should mostly use cannabis as an initial treatment option and dont consider it an alternative.

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active ingredients

What Is the Role of an API in Pharmaceutical Medicine?

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Everything these days is an acronym, and sometimes the world of acronyms gets confusing. In fact, sometimes the very same letters, are used for more than one acronym, and it requires knowing what you’re dealing with, to know the meaning. One of the terms that shows up a lot is API, which relates to pharmaceutical medicine, (as well as computing).

What is an API in pharmaceutical medicine?

The first time I heard this term, I immediately thought of the computing definition: ‘application programming interface.’ It gets used a lot in the world of tech, and it was the main place I’d heard it. Until it came up in a more medical way. The letters API have a totally different definition when speaking of pharmaceutical medicine.

An API in pharmaceutical medicine, translates to ‘active pharmaceutical ingredient.’ Which, of course, is a wildly different concept from its computing counterpart. What does this actually mean? An active pharmaceutical ingredient is “the biologically active component of a drug product (tablet, capsule, cream, injectable) that produces the intended effects.” These can be ingredients in drugs for a number of ailments, including the treatment of issues: “pertaining to oncology, cardiology, CNS and neurology, orthopaedic, pulmonology, gastroenterology, nephrology, ophthalmology, and endocrinology.”

So, basically, they’re just ingredients. Or, rather, active ingredients. Think about when you read the label to a medication, and it lists both active and inactive ingredients. Sometimes you might wonder about the difference. Inactive ingredients are often related to keeping a tablet held together, or making sure a drug doesn’t spoil. Sometimes they’re for coloring, or consistency, or texture. But they’re not for therapeutic use.


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The active components are the ingredients that do whatever it is that the drug is supposed to do. And much like baking in a kitchen, both active and inactive ingredients are required. If you’re baking a chocolate cake, perhaps the chocolate could be seen as the active ingredient, along with eggs and flower. But you also need baking soda to make things rise. This might not add to the flavor of the cake, but its still important.

However, you might spend more time, making sure you have the right chocolate. Should you use super sweet chocolate chips, bitter chocolate, chocolate powder? This chocolate is equivalent to an API in pharmaceutical medicine…albeit an admittedly strange analogy.

APIs allow for medications to be made in specific strengths, and in desired concentrations. They also require being made in conjunction with good manufacturing practices, and up to codes, as they relate to pharmaceutical medicine, which is very, very precise.

Think of every bottle of Tylenol you buy, over years and years of time, and how every pill is exactly the same. Since APIs are often made by third parties, they also allow for the white-labeling of pharmaceutical ingredients. Several different companies can buy from the same API provider, and then make their own labeled medications with the ingredients.

Where does an API come from?

Much like anything else, whether synthetically or naturally made, An API used in pharmaceutical medicine, comes from some kind of raw material. When dealing with the idea of an herbal supplement, let’s say a mint capsule, the API is the mint, and in this case it probably comes directly from a mint plant. Many APIs do come from plant or animal origins. A great example of this today, is the medical cannabis industry, and the API’s used to make cannabis medications.

In terms of the official names of these ingredients, the US uses generic names assigned by the United States Adopted Names (USAN) program, which works in conjunction with the American Medical Association, the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, and the American Pharmacists Association. The legal name of the drug that the FDA recognizes, is given by the USAN.

Where do APIs come from for pharma medicine
Where do APIs come from for pharma medicine

In terms of a broader global scale, the World Health Organization also recognizes API ingredients, as per International Nonproprietary Names (INN). Though they are often the same between the US and the WHO, they sometimes do differ. One example is Tylenol. The API is acetaminophen in the US, but referred to as paracetamol by WHO.

The raw materials are used primarily by pharmaceutical companies in their home labs to create their patented formulations. However, to cut costs, the manufacture of these APIs is often now outsourced, leading to a myriad of issues related to quality and regulation. It is now common for APIs to come from Asia, mainly India and China.

Who are the biggest providers of APIs? Some of the bigger names are TEVA Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Reddy’s, Pfizer, Novartis, Sanofi, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Bristol-Meyers Squibb. These companies generally specialize in different APIs. In terms of where the raw materials come from, that can vary hugely. Sometimes from chemical product manufacturers, and sometimes from growing fields. Raw materials are converted to APIs through different chemical processing techniques. When in the process of a raw material becoming an API, its called an ‘intermediate’.

Raw materials for an API in pharmaceutical medicine

While this isn’t the most specific of answers, the raw materials for APIs are gathered through raw material providers. Yeah, I know, it almost sounds like I’m trying to be evasive. I promise, I’m not. But the truth is that raw materials can come from one of hundreds or thousands of providers depending on what they actually are. Think of all the chemical companies out there, and all the different kinds of ingredients in life. And then think of how many medications there are, and how different.

A general process, at least according to Teva-API, is that once a medicine is approved, a team then goes out looking for all the correct chemical companies to get the component raw material parts. It comes down to the company to judge the reliability of a source. Sometimes to ensure no issues in sourcing, a company like Teva will require two sources for each material. The R&D team that created the medication, essentially gives a list of the necessary raw materials to the team responsible for collection, and then the search into the correct chemical companies begins.

And to be honest…there isn’t a lot of better or more specific information out there. Most of the information that is available comes from companies selling APIs, or pharmaceuticals, and none of them really get into the nitty gritty of exactly where their chemical components are sourced as raw materials.

Sourcing raw materials for APIs
Sourcing raw materials for APIs

I guess at this point its fair to imagine that sourcing likely involves things like mining for the minerals that make up the periodic table of elements, which are used to produce all inorganic materials. As well as whatever biologically sourced ingredients come from different plant and animal sources.

Right now, the API industry in pharmaceutical medicine is quite big. API-producing companies generally produce powder versions and sell in bulk to pharma companies. Their production and sale comprises a multi-billion dollar industry that white-labels the ingredients of pharmaceutical medications.

And while the idea of APIs might be a bit confusing when reading about them in terms of business, the reality in the end, is that the pharma ingredient market is the same as nearly all others. One company takes stuff out of the ground somehow, sells it to another company which uses it to make a specific chemical compound, which sells it to another company which uses that compound in a product. Just like nearly every product made; whether food, a toy, equipment, or whatever else.

Conclusion

APIs in pharmaceutical medicine represent just another form of white-labeling. Of course in this case, the products white-labelled are the ingredients in your pharmaceutical medications. Perhaps we as the public should know more about the process and the safety requirements that do – or don’t – exist. But as in most parts of life, the business of these ingredients and how they move, stays largely out of the public eye. Much like nearly every other big business consumer industry.

Kind of makes those herbal remedies that can tell you exactly what’s inside, and exactly what field the ingredients were sourced from, nice in comparison.

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What Happens if you take these Drugs at the Qatar World Cup?

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The world cup has begun, and instead of all the focus being on the incredible football and the tournament itself, it is still tarnished by the strict law differences in Qatar. Thousands of fans from all over the globe have headed to the Gulf country to support their teams, knowing full well that this may be unlike any tournament experienced before. Essentially all recreational substances are banned in Qatar, with very strict punishment for those who ignore the rules.

Even alcohol has harsh restrictions. With human rights violations and bans on same sex marriage a massive problem in Qatar, a limitation on drug use seems like a walk in the park. But, let’s see what would actually happen if you were caught taking specific substances within the world cup host nation. 

Qatar Host Nation

Qatar is a small gulf country – with a population lower than 3 million – that sits on the Arab peninsula. Made up of beaches and deserts, this middle eastern nation once just contained fishing villages for traders going between India and China to visit. After the first world war Britain ruled over Qatar, until they gained independence in 1971. Nowadays, the country is hugely wealthy due to their access to vital resources – these include oil and natural gas. In fact, Qatar has the third largest natural gas collection in the world. This is after Iran and Russia. To put this into perspective, 14% of the people living in Qatar are millionaires. Due to such a small population, the nation is considered one of the wealthiest in the world per person. It is believed that Qatar owns more property in the capital of England – London – than even the royal family. 

Nonetheless, with a lack of football culture, when the decision was made to allow Qatar to host the 2022 world cup, many were left confused. It seemed evident that the usually corrupt Fifa had yet again been swayed by the powerful money of a rich nation. The Guardian writes:

“In the years since, 16 of 22 voting exco members present in that hall have been implicated in or investigated over some form of alleged corruption or bad practice… In 2019 there were allegations Fifa had benefited from a $400m rights deal with Al Jazeera, Qatar’s state TV station, offered just 21 days before the bid decision, with an extra $100m top-up should Qatar succeed.”

Problems

But ultimately it would be the people, as usual, who would suffer. Qatar is a tiny nation and they were left with the task of spending 220 billion dollars to create the world cup infrastructure that was needed in a very short amount of time. How did they find the workforce to do this? Migrant workers coming from nations like India and Nepal were paid abominably low amounts of money in order to help build up this flawed tournament. It is believed that 6600 of these workers have already died due to unsafe conditions and overworking. But these aren’t the only problems that have arisen. Qatar’s laws on women’s rights and same sex marriage are something from the stone ages, with women being under guardianship law and any same sex sexual activity being deemed illegal. Human Dignity Trust writes:

“Human Rights Watch reported that security forces have been arbitrarily arresting LGBT people and subjecting them to ill-treatment in detention in the country… Preventive Security Department officers detained them in an underground prison in Al Dafneh, Doha, where they were verbally harassed and subjected to physical abuse, ranging from slapping, to kicking and punching until they bled.”

Needless to say, it seems that this world cup is surrounded by tarnishing controversy. In essence, it probably should not have happened this way and Fifa’s name will – hopefully – be deeply damaged. But alongside all this are other issues that are, perhaps less extreme, but have also caused disruption. Qatar’s strict substance laws are causing problems for those who are used to far more leniency. 


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Drug Laws in Qatar

According to the government website, Qatar has 0 tolerance for drug-related offences. This doesn’t seem to matter if you are a tourist or not. If you’re discovered using, trafficking, smuggling or possessing any substances from a long list, you are likely to face severe punishment. But how severe? We’re going to go through some of the most common recreational substances that people may want to take during the world cup, and see how risky it really is. Let’s go. 

Hard Recreational Drugs

When it comes to hard recreational drugs, Qatar seems to have a blanket decision on all of them. Whether it’s heroin, MDMA, ketamine, cocaine or whatever – the laws are extremely strict. If found in possession of any of these substances, fines could go up to $50,000. But if anyone is found trafficking hard drugs then the death penalty is also possible. Therefore, if there are any drug dealers out there who are considering Qatar an open market ready to be filled, we would advise to certainly reconsider.

There are no exceptions made for foreign nationals and the embassies of these nations have very little power to interject, especially when it comes to drug laws. If there’s one place you want to avoid taking harder substances, it is Qatar. There is evidence that the country is moving away from their 0-tolerance approach however, but nothing has yet officially changed. The Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics has said:

​​“Qatar has moved away from treating drug addiction merely as a criminal matter and is recognising it as a health and social challenge and a human rights issue. The right to health includes the right to obtain health services without fear of punishment. ”

The issue is, with a population made up of the wealthy, it is hard for those below to make the case for a change in drug laws. The culture is not yet there like it is with Europe, the US and other areas of the world. 

Prescription Medicine 

If you’re hoping that prescription medicine may be easier to get through border control than you are wrong. You will need a very exact letter from your doctor for any substances. This needs to include the exact amount that you are allowed, the reason why and any other information. The most they will allow you to bring in is for a 30 day period. Qatar has also banned the use of tranquillisers, antidepressants and certain sleeping pills. If you are hoping to carry these substances in your hand luggage, it is probably a good idea to speak to your embassy in Qatar just to ensure the specific rules.

Otherwise, you may face anything from confiscation, a fine, or even deportation. Over the last few weeks, Qatar customs officers have stopped around 2000 opiate pills from coming into the country. These passengers are awaiting their court cases. With prescription medicine, ensure you have all the backup documents you need. Don’t go bringing some random valium or Xanax without a note. 

Cannabis

Cannabis is treated as harshly as any other drug in Qatar. Despite hashish being known to be world-class in that section of the world, the cultivation, sale and possession of weed is completely illegal. In fact, there was a British tourist who was found with a cannabis grinder in his luggage in 2019 who faced years in a Qatari prison. He was able to leave the country but they attempted to extradite him back when he was visiting Greece. Fortunately, he won his case. This is an example of the kinds of harsh realities that can be faced if found with even just cannabis accessories. 

Alcohol

In Qatar, the legal age of alcohol consumption is 21. Of course for Muslims, who make up a large amount of the Qatari population, it is illegal. The ban on alcohol in Qatar is what has been getting all of the headlines. Many people are contemptuous of avoiding hard drugs throughout the world cup, but not drinking for them is not an option. You only have to watch a video on Youtube of hundreds of fans cheering and throwing their beers when their side scores a goal to realise how integral drinking culture is when it comes to major tournaments. That said, any alcohol-related violence or serious disturbance should not be permitted anywhere in the world.

At the world cup, alcohol is not easy to access. It is banned in stadiums and is completely illegal to drink in public areas. There are designated hotels and spots where alcohol is allowed, but the prices are extortionate. Half a litre of beer costs 50 Qatari riyals, which is equal to around 12 dollars. The whole affair has made alcohol quite appealing to a lot of supporters. However, it has also meant that many fans have attempted to smuggle alcohol into stadiums – with one individual turning a pair of binoculars into a discreet booze bottle. For anyone found drinking in a public place, they could face a 6 month prison sentence or a fine of up to $700.

Vapes & Cigarettes

Oddly enough, vapes are another banned substance or device in Qatar. If you’re someone who enjoys an e-cig then make sure you don’t bring it to the world cup. Cigarettes are very much legal to buy in the country, with 25% of Qatari men smoking, but there is a strict vape ban. This has been the case since 2014. If you’re found with a vape you can face fines of up to $2,700 or a prison sentence up to 3 months. Only around 0.6% of women smoke in Qatar, which is likely to do with their guardianship laws. These essentially do not allow women to marry, study abroad or find a job without permission from their male guardian. 

Conclusion 

As you can see, the Qatar world cup is surrounded with controversy. The human rights violations alone are enough of a reason to avoid visiting. Many female footballers have boycotted the tournament altogether in response to the horrific women’s rights there. Even the ‘OneLove’ armband – supporting LGBT rights – has been banned by Fifa. Many players have resisted wearing it in fear of sanctions. Ultimately, the Qatar world cup should probably not have gone ahead. Nonetheless, if you still want to enjoy the tournament and support your team, then definitely be careful when it comes to substance use. Qatar have some of the strictest drug laws in the world.

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Atlanta’s cannabis kings: Sharklato, Real 1, GasHouse

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Meet the CEOs behind the dirty south’s dankest cannabis brands. For the ‘28 grams of game’ series, these Atlanta weed pioneers show Leafly how they went from underground legends to legal operators.


Although THC-rich cannabis is still prohibited in Georgia, many municipalities within the state have decriminalized possession of small amounts over the last decade, following Atlanta’s 2017 decision to allow less than an ounce to result in no more than a $75 ticket. With access to premium bud increasing across the Southeast, a handful of legacy brands have sprouted into public view, including GasHouse, a collaboration between Georgia natives Felix Murray and Kingston.

A fully-licensed retail market may not come to Georgia or neighboring states any time soon, but entrepreneurs like Murray and Kingston are securing a head start in the meantime. The pair met in 2014, and moved to Oregon a year later with the intention of getting a medical cultivation license.

GasHouse founders Felix Murray and Kingston. (Instagram)
GasHouse founders Felix Murray and Kingston. (Instagram)

In the years since, Murray and Kingston built GasHouse into a globally-known brand by securing licenses out of state and collaborating with West Coast companies in legal markets. That includes a crossover with Cookies, which helped GasHouse secure the Zooted storefront in Miami, plus multiple retail touch points in California, and a successful seed bank release this past Black Friday.

Another Atlanta brand, Real 1, has expanded on similar grounds, connecting with Joke’s Up to get licensed and distributed across California, including at the five-star Ice Kream dispensary in Studio City.

Meanwhile, more paths from legacy to legitimacy have been carved in Atlanta’s airwaves, by artists and owners like Yung Marley (Sharklato), Lil Baby (Wham!), and the late great Migos rapper TakeOff, who was working with GUMBO on a signature product before his life was tragically taken last month.

These brands and more are making use of Atlanta’s instrumental influence on popular culture, and cornering the many intersections between pop and pot that legalization makes profitable. For those who hope to follow their paths to legitimacy in the weed industry, we chopped up 28 grams of game from the reigning Kings of Atlanta cannabis, including GasHouse, Real 1, Sharklato, and more.

28 grams of game distills the journeys of cannabis operators who’ve transitioned from legacy to legal.


1. Plant quality seeds

The name GasHouse honors grower Kingston’s legendary house of genetics. Kingston perfected his formula growing in rural Georgia before linking with Murray, a key influencer in Atlanta’s music and nightlife scenes. Their relationship blossomed after Murray got Kingston’s product from a friend and was inspired to set up a fishing trip.

The two clicked and cooked up a recipe for legal success. By then, Washington and Colorado allowed legal cannabis for residents 21 and older. Since they knew it would be years before Georgia got with the program, the pair set out to buy 40 acres of land in rural Southern Oregon to test their skills in a legal market.

2. Don’t take no for an answer

The seller of the property they wanted was a white-bearded white man who later admitted to almost shutting the deal down because of deeply-held prejudices. But Kingston and the seller eventually bonded to the point that, “He cried on my shoulder,” Kingston told Forbes.

“He told me he was a bigot all his life and that I changed the way he perceived us… I told him I’m just trying to do this for my family, and I just told my situation,” Kingston said. “And he sold me his property.”

3. Trust yourself

“I had to convince Kingston to come to Oregon. I said: ‘We gotta prove ourselves.’ We (do) clothing and merchandise too, we move that. So we started branding. And me being in the nightclub business, I know everybody…We started branding in the city and we started creating. And people started seeing the word GasHouse.”

Felix Murray, on the GasHouse brand’s early roots

Kingston and Murray said they didn’t use a lawyer to apply for a license. They chose to read the regulations and handle it themselves. Murray said in 2021, “We realized it was so new that lawyers didn’t even understand the rules and regulations yet. We felt that we could interpret them just as well as they could.”

GasHouse started in Oregon by growing medical cannabis in greenhouses. The new environment was a challenge, but Kingston’s experience and commitment to clean, pesticide-free growth kept him on the path to excellence. In 2015, they got an adult-use license, “and that’s when GasHouse Farms was really born,” Murray recalls.

4. Strive for excellence

Since their very first cannabis competitions, GasHouse has been grabbing awards. At their debut event, Dabathon Cup in 2016, Kingston didn’t even know competitions were a thing. That didn’t stop them from leaving that event with two awards. The instant success was mind-blowing for Kingston, who knew his work was good but not necessarily world class.

Murray built a solid reputation over the years while running one of Atlanta’s most popular nightclubs. Combining Murray’s network with the work Kingston put in as a master grower and underground operator, the pair became an unstoppable team with chemistry that took the West Coast by storm.

5. Claim your name

As soon as Kingston and Murray landed on the name GasHouse, they moved to lock the brand down legally. “Using [the] term ‘gas’ for weed originated in the South,” Murray told Leafly. “I’m from the OG era, OG Kush,” Murray continued. “That was like our favorite strain. So we refer to that as gas. Because when you open that bag, that’s what it smelled like—some type of fuel.”

Murray still remembers the night the GasHouse name was conceived: “Sitting at the table at my house, me, Kingston, and DJ Teflon, we were playing with different names. And at first it was: House of Gas. Because we said that’s all we’re gonna have in our stable is gas. And then we were like, no, GasHouse. And so it was born. I couldn’t believe (the name) was available. So I locked it down immediately while I was still sitting at that table.”

Murray and Kingston also manage the trademark for Zaza, another common term in every Atlanta stoner’s dialect.

6. Blaze new trails

At the end of 2017, they left Oregon for Southern California. Murray and Kingston knew that California had 10 times the potential market, with nearly 40 million people to Oregon’s 4 million. And they soon took first place at 2018’s High Times NorCal Cannabis Cup, and then the 2019 Challis Cup.

The wins led to high-end pricing and helped land the brand in industry-leading California stores like Cookies. GasHouse has now released its best sellers at Cookies locations across Cali and the rest of the country, thanks to cultivation and licensing deals that stamp elite locally-grown crops with GasHouse’s brand and strain names.

7. Leave a legacy

“I’m smokin’ on that dope/And it got me on Pluto”

Lil Durk, “Gas & Mud”

With A-list rappers like Lil Durk and Lil Baby shouting out GasHouse’s staple stain, Pluto, for millions to hear, the sky appears to be the limit for Murray and Kingston’s high octane dream. Last week on Black Friday, GasHouse released its award-winning genetics through a historic seed drop with Cookies. The company’s owners see it as another way to leave a lasting mark on the industry.

“The Pluto seed drop—This is forever. This is gonna be here when we’re gone. You know what I mean? We’re gonna give her to the world because that’s what the plant is meant for anyway. So that’s a big deal for us.”

Felix Murray to Leafly shortly before GasHouse’s Black Friday seed drop

8. Swim with the sharks

Sharklato CEO Yung Marley (Instagram)
Sharklato CEO Yung Marley. (Instagram)

“Smoking Sharklato in a fishbowl wearing Prada”

Moneybagg Yo, “Shottas (Lala)

Sharklato’s designer name appeal is no accident. Founder Yung Marley has been an independent rapper since 2015, collecting a wealth of experiences that he’s poured into making one of America’s most sought after brands.

Platinum artists like Moneybagg Yo and Jadakiss namedrop Sharklato on songs and socials as a status symbol, much like luxury goods from Prada or Rolls Royce. Stars also drop money bags on shark strains in real life, with Yo spending $1,000 for an ounce of the gassy exotic back in 2020.

“He said he heard of it, but he never got a chance to smoke it. But once he finally got it, (he) was in love with that shit. I didn’t even ask him to post that, he just went up with that shit.”

Yung Marley speaking on Moneybagg Yo’s Sharklato shoutout on the Off The Porch” YouTube channel in 2020.

Rappers Skooly and Lil Yachty have also shown Sharklato love over the years, and Grammy-nominated audio engineer J Rich even told One37pm during the pandemic: “My favorite weed to smoke while engineering is a strain called Sharklato. It’s the best weed out right now.”

9. Network organically

Sharklato CEO Yung Marley (Instagram)
(Instagram)

Before Sharklato was a brand name, Marley was well-known for providing exotic flavors around the city. “In Atlanta, I always was known for having the best cannabis,” Marley told Leafly during a summer session in producer Sonny Digital’s recording studio.

Digital is a multi-platinum artist who introduced Marley to Yung LB, the CEO of Runtz years ago. “Soon as I walked in, me and LB hit it off instantly,” Marley said, crediting LB with inspiring Sharklato’s early development. “He brought (the) idea of branding and marketing. He sparked that idea in my head.”

“My brother LB, gave me the legal game,” Marley told Leafly, remembering the time he spent sitting in on “billion-dollar meetings in California,” as LB built the Joke’s Up empire. Marley said he was “getting hip to being corporate,” and “soaking the game up,” while plotting his own attack on the industry.

“I was the first person to bring Runtz to the South and put it on the map. Then I said, ‘I got their shit piped up, I need to have my shit piped up.’ So I’m just sitting around the house, getting high with the gang. Everybody knows me as the shark, and (my motto’s) always been ‘shark’s gotta eat,’ so shit, Sharklato! I just ran with it.”

Yung Marley, Sharklato CEO

10. Feed your soil

Marley was born in the heart of Atlanta as a proud Grady baby, meaning he took his first breaths in the city’s famous Grady hospital. He was raised in Grant Street’s Summerhill community and always finds ways to put Atlanta first as his brand continues to take off.

So far, Marley has used his early lane in the game to help other legacy operators get up and running. Along the way, he’s hired locals and collaborated with artists like Skooly, Young Nudy, and Lil Yachty on signature products that bring exotic to starving markets and help destigmatize the plant. In the process, Sharklato has become a hallmark of premium exotic from East Atlanta Village to the West End, inspiring countless imitators.

“I’m havin’ Sharklato mixed with Pie Hole, one-fifteen a zip”

Pooh Shiesty, “Neighbors”

11. Change the game

Marley said he got in a lot of trouble growing up. He started smoking at the end of sixth grade and got kicked out of every school he attended after that. But he eventually got a GED, and became an early pioneer of landing Cali-bred exotic in the Deep South.

“I was blessed because my cousin and them already had situations going on, so I just really took it to a whole ‘nother level,” he said. “My cousin Big Woody and them, they (were) already on exotics. But I’m the baby of the whole family, I just really elevated it.”

Yung Marley of Sharklato (Instagram)
(Instagram)

Marley is still protective of the legacy cannabis community’s longevity, noting that vultures from all industries are ready to swoop in and capitalize on legalization. “We’re the ones who really took risks for this,” Marley told Leafly, “So we really gotta stay consistent and look for the best deal. We are the streets, and we control everything for real. We gotta put ourselves in position and level up, and not just be put in the box,” Marley explained.

“I love marijuana, so I love the industry–I like it because there’s a lot of Black people that are starting to do better for themselves. That’s [why] I’m not tripping about people imitating my brand, because I really sparked the creative side [of cannabis] for other people. Not to go do dumb ass shit like rob and steal. You can really make some money and make a way for your family.”

Yung Marley

12. Bring the loud

When we linked with the big shark he was smoking brand new Sharklato genetics. “This is a new strain right here, Blue Flame,” Marley told us between tokes. The cultivar is named for Atlanta’s famous strip club, as well as its myrcene-tinted hue.

Quality Control engineer J Rich said he counts on Sharklato’s sedative qualities to help perform under the intense weight of working with Atlanta’s top artists. He explained last year that the brand’s genetics “help your creative intuition because you’re constantly under pressure to finish this, hurry up and record, finish this.” He said, “Artists move so fast… I’ll be like, ‘Damn, I didn’t even get enough time to make you sound good. You’re going to want this [session] bounced, get home, hear it and then blame me that it doesn’t sound good.”

13. Tap into your roots

Marley was raised by a Puerto Rican mother and Rastafarian stepfather who had slightly different views of the plant. “I came up in that Rasta culture young, like six, seven years old. I lived with him, and every month everybody would come together and smoke their joints. So I was brought up in the culture for real,” Marley told Leafly.

But Mommy Shark wasn’t as loose with the leaf. “Hell naw, Mama wasn’t going for that,” Marley said when asked if he ever smoked with his parents back then. “But over time, she saw I was so consistent with it, she eventually let it go,” he said.

Today, Marley’s Rasta roots are alive and well when he uses fronto-leaf to roll his thumb-thick blunts. A proper Rasta spliff traditionally contains a mix of cannabis and ground “fronto,” aka grabba leaves, which provide a tobacco-filled kick.

14. Plan for the future

Real 1 CEO JR The Director (left) and Sharklato CEO Yung Marley (right). (Instagram)
Real 1 CEO JR The Director (left) and Sharklato CEO Yung Marley (right). Both Atlanta natives partnered with Joke’s Up to join the legal cannabis market. (Instagram)

As for the future of Sharklato, Marley said, “Five years from now, I just see the legal market taking over. We’re working on a deal I can’t really talk about yet. But we’ll have the biggest, and the only indoor outdoor cannabis mall out in LA, and we’re part of one of the biggest legal grows in the world,” he said, referring to Joke’s Up’s brand new plaza and SoCal grow op, which Leafly visited this summer to sample the goods.

Marley said one day, Sharklato will be a public company, with legal holdings in the deep South. “Legal weed is coming to the South,” Marley predicted, adding that Alabama, Florida, or the feds will likely legalize the plant before Georgia. With a national platform through Joke’s Up, and rap stars are adding clout to the brand on the regular, and Marley’s dreams of going public could come sooner rather than later.

15. Keep it realer

Real 1 CEO JR the Director
Real 1 CEO JR the Director poses with in front of a top floor view of Dubai. (Instagram)

“Joke’s Up/It’s gotta be stamped on the package/This the Real 1 you know that I’m taxing”

Lil Baby, “As Real As It Gets

Another Joke’s Up-backed Atlanta staple is Real 1, whose owner operates like a true Southern gentleman. The brand is curated by JR The Director, a popular music video director and legacy operator from Atlanta who works hard to protect his brand from the riff raff that often comes with the reefer business.

The name Real 1 and its accompanying catchphrase, “not the deal 1,” originate from Atlanta’s streets. The phrase is meant to separate exotic Zaza from lower-grade offerings. 

“The name Real 1 comes from Atlanta culture and slang—It’s a term that everyone here already uses to identify the best bud you can find. This [is] the real one, not the deal one!”

JR The Director, founder of Real 1 brand and the N1 strain

In the absence of legal recreational dispensaries, most buyers in the Peach State are faced with two choices when purchasing weed in Atlanta: Exotic or OG. The Real 1 is aiming to elevate the city’s expectations and access with offerings like its staple strain, a hybrid packed with terpenes that shout to the rooftops and serve to deeply soothe the minds and bodies of consumers.

Real 1’s next release, N1, is a cross between its flagship strain and Nasuh (pronounced like NASA), another Joke’s Up hitter with a rep for taking users to space.

16. Protect the brand

According to Real 1’s CEO and founder, JR the Director, his team is always intentional with how the brand is represented. From curated music and merchandise offerings that expand awareness, to supremely-grown crops that are only available in limited supply, the attention to detail speaks volumes.

For now, Real 1’s powerful flower is available exclusively at the Joke’s Up Ice Kream dispensary and The Jokes Up Plaza in California. Despite the limited access, the brand finds ways to exist everywhere, including streaming and social media.

17. Cut your own cloth

Real 1 and Trap House collaboration merch (Instagram)
(Instagram)

Real 1’s new collab with the clothiers at Trap House House is the latest example of the brand’s guerilla marketing chops. Much like industry leader Cookies, The Real 1 team invests in top-of-the-line threads and tracks that build brand appeal with mass audiences just as much as with cannabis lovers.

“I promise it’s the Real 1/Nah, fasho, it ain’t the deal one.”

Rylo Rodriguez, “Real Project Babies”

JR applied the same strategy when releasing this summer’s Real 1 mixtape, which featured musical odes to the brand, including one from red-hot ATL rapper Rylo Rodriguez. “Real project baby at the top,” JR wrote under an Instagram photo in Dubai last year. He was born and raised in the Cascade area of Southwest Atlanta, but moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and has gone back and forth since.

“I dropped the music project ‘Real 1’ as a marketing tool for my dispensary release with Joke’s Up. I also wanted to bring the cultures and lifestyle together. But being able to draw more people to the store and for brand awareness was my main goal.”

JR the Director, CEO and founder of Real 1

18. Lead the way

GUMBO CEO Luka Brazi (left) poses with late great Atlanta rapper TakeOff (right). The pair was cooking up a special GUMBO products infused with Atlanta flavor before his tragic passing on November 1. (Instagram)

The late Migos rapper TakeOff was developing cannabis products with GUMBO and Cookies when his life was tragically taken earlier this month. After his untimely passing, GUMBO CEO Luka Braziposted on Instagram to honor his friend and business partner, writing, “I love you my baby brother,” and, “fly high champ.”

TakeOff’s influence on music and cannabis continue to live through the people he left behind. Quavo, his fellow Migos member, already joined the legal game with Birkinz, a rare luxury cultivar that comes packaged in a Hermès Birkin-shaped purse bag and boasts maxed-out THC levels.

19. Swing for the fences

(Rolling Loud / Majavincic)
(Rolling Loud / Majavincic)

“Pack’s in/they done sent so much money for Wham! this shit on backorder”

Lil Baby ‘Vulture Island V2’

After a lifetime of selling the plant on Atlanta’s West side, Lil Baby took his first swing at the legal cannabis industry in 2022. He knocked it out of the park with Wham!, a Cookies collab that was available in California dispensaries this summer for a limited time only.

Wham! flew off the shelves thanks to its beautiful buds and brilliant marketing, including the Wham! ring set that Baby flossed across the music festival circuit this year.

As one of the most streamed artists in the country, Baby is taking advantage of his platform by name-dropping Wham!, and other Atlanta cannabis brands every chance he gets. In addition to collaborating with Sharklato for the Baby Shark strain drop, Baby has also shouted out Real 1 and GasHouse’s Pluto in his lyrics. As the CEO of The Holding Company, expect Baby to deliver more big time legal weed moves as one of the biggest champions of Atlanta’s legacy scene.

20. Don’t knock the hustlers

Sharklato’s Yung Marley may get frustrated with counterfeit suppliers who mimic his brand, but he doesn’t dwell on it. “You can’t knock the bootleggers,” he told Leafly.

“You can’t stop the counterfeit. They’re doing that shit worldwide.” Fake bags that imitate Sharklato and other elite brands sell like hotcakes online to local dealers who stuff them with inferior products. But Marley ultimately sees it all as a branding opportunity.

“(There are) people all over the world in places that I can’t reach. So they’re helping me build my brand. It’s a Catch-22 for real. They’re helping build it, and letting people know about it. But they’re fucking it up in a way, too. But I ain’t tripping. I got new shit coming.”

Yung Marley, Sharklato CEO

21. Expand your horizons

Sharklato is expanding its territory to include delta-8 vapes that can be sold in markets that still prohibit THC. They’re also exploring CBD and gummies through private white label deals. Marley’s advice to anyone following his lead: Just keep swimming like Nemo, or the big shark himself.

“Just keep going man. Don’t ever stop. Nobody said it was gonna be easy. It’s gonna get hard. But on some real shit, as soon as it gets hard and people want to quit, they don’t know that the door is right there. Soon as you finna quit, it is right there. So you can’t quit. You gotta just stay firm and believe in your vision. Just go with it.”

Yung Marley

22. Raise the bar

Real 1’s strict quality control is most obvious in its strain genetics. “We’ve built our company around genetics,” JR said of Real 1’s goal for each release to be among the best on the market. They’re also offering Real 1 seeds, like GasHouse, Cookies, and other leaders in the legal field.

As for GasHouse, the future smells explosive. New drops like Zooted, plus new Pluto flavors, are primed for success. And their fresh venture into seeds should create even more massive growth for Murray and Kingston’s gas-powered empire.

23. Change the narrative

Curtis Snow Snow On Tha Blunt collaboration with Gastrap. (Gastrap)
Actor and writer Curtis Snow, star of the Netflix hit Snow On Tha Bluff, collaborated with a Maine company called Gastrap to test the legal market. (Instagram / Gastrap)

Atlanta native Curtis Snow isn’t letting the green rush pass him by, either. His cult classic film Snow On Tha Bluff was one of Netflix’s first original content purchases in 2012, and a film festival and New York Times darling.

Snow said he got the raw end of the entertainment industry, but he’s resolved to change his cards, focusing on weed’s potential to aid in the opioid epidemic. As a recovering user and provider of various illicit substances, Snow strongly believes legal cannabis can curb the widespread opioid and lean (codeine) addiction he sees among young adults in Atlanta, and nationwide.

“I started out selling weed way back then, so it’s only right things came all the way around and I can do it the legal way,” he told Leafly this fall. Snow’s first official cannabis venture came through a collab with Maine’s Gastrap brand in early 2022.

They dropped Snow On Tha Blunt jumbo pre-rolls as a limited release to honor his film’s 10th anniversary in the spotlight. The pre-rolls were coated with a thick layer of trichome crystals, and sold out immediately. The first run gave Snow the confidence to field more meetings with out-of-state companies, including a potential venture with legacy legend Freeway Rick Ross.

24. Stay down ‘til you come up

Waka Flocka Flame and Jamar Brown for Dro Life clothing. (Instagram)
Waka Flocka Flame (left) and Jamar Brown (right) for Dro Life clothing. (Instagram)

Two vets of Atlanta’s music scene have also gotten in on the legal game early. For years, Killer Mike and Waka Flocka Flame have used media and merchandise to carve an early entryway to the industry, despite the illegality of recreational weed.

In 2015, Flocka partnered with entrepreneur Jamar Brown to bring Dro Life clothing to the masses, and the brand continues to grow. Dro Life’s gear nods to legacy cannabis culture and streetwear with clean designs and limited releases that Waka frequently sports for his 3-million-plus Instagram followers.

Meanwhile, Atlanta activist and diplomat Killer Mike hosts cannabis-centric video content including the web series Tumbleweeds. Mike also dropped a signature cannabis strain through a partnership with Lemonnade and Cookies, alongside his Run The Jewels partner, EL-P. The pair’s Ooh La La strain was named after one of their songs, and ultimately proved they are serious about the legal game long-term.

25. Pass that GAS

2 chainz signature pre rolls by Gas
(Courtesy GAS)

Rap star 2 Chainz has already claimed his piece of the dirty South’s next big cash crop. His GAS brand uses octane ratings to help both newbies and connoisseurs choose from a wide offering of premium flower, pre-rolls, concentrates, topicals, and edibles that are available across California. Chainz also has his own Cali dispensary, Pineapple Express Hollywood, which debuts products from fellow rap stars like Lil Kim and Wiz Khalifa.

26. Share the crown

So who’s Atlanta’s King stoner? Depends who you ask. Murray told Leafly, “I would say DJ Teflon. I’m a stoner too, but he comes to my mind. And my son, he’s 24 years old. He goes hard. I passed that down to him. Like, he’s probably the only person outside of myself that I ask (for an) opinion on bud from. And he kind of hits it on the head. He even can smell (a strain) and tell you what’s in it.”

Yung Marley claims the title for himself, saying he’s been burning since middle school. “Back then, it was some stuff called Timmy D from TLE, Headband, the Kush, and the Irene. That’s what we called the fire, Irene. But back then, I didn’t know too many stoners besides my parents and their (Rastafarian) community.”

Real 1 had two nominees: “I would say Earthgang or JID,” Marley told Leafly, referring to hometown Grammy-favorites.

Atlanta’s rich legacy market seemingly won’t slow down anytime soon. So expect more collabs in out-of-state markets, innovative products that break the mold, and plenty of clout boosts courtesy of the city’s global reach.

Yung Marley explained to Leafly, “Marketing is really about who you know. Staying consistent, innovative. You gotta stay thinking about some new shit. Because you can’t be content… You gotta really put it in their face—But smart, though. Can’t just be everywhere loose. You gotta be strategic and just stay with new ideas, logos, merch, looks. Staying ahead of the curve. We can’t be cool with just this pack or this design—We gotta stay on their ass!”

28. Keep Georgia ganja on your mind

Atlanta is the epicenter of rap’s dominant trap sound, and the secret filming location of huge Hollywood and streaming productions. When you add agriculture to the equation, the entire state of Georgia is ripe to become one of the East Coast’s most promising cannabis markets when the law permits.

But even without a licensed game in sight, the city still carries the flame as the dank capital of the South, thanks in large part to legacy growers, distributors, and sellers who go above and beyond to keep the Peach State baked to perfection.





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