Shona Banda

The Cost of War on Drugs

Shona Banda

Img Credit: huffingtonpost.com

I wish I could say I was surprised when I heard the news. Shona Banda, a marijuana activist in Kansas and author of “Live Free or Die: Reclaim your Life…Reclaim your Country!” is fighting for custody of her 11-year-old son after police found Marijuana in her home. Her book recounts how marijuana saved her life from Crohn’s disease so it is little wonder that her son stood up to a “Just Say No” type of lesson at his school. I can just imagine how it went down in his classroom.

Teacher: Marijuana is a Schedule I substance with accepted medical value.

Son: My mother uses cannabis to treat her Crohn’s disease. It literally saved her life.

Teacher: So you’re saying that there is currently rampant illegal drug use in your home with complete disregard for your safety?

Son: That isn’t what I-

But it was too late. The teacher had already called the principal, who will inform the police of a child in danger. Which is why Shona Banda found police cars surrounding her residence when she got home that day. They were investigating the possibility of drugs in the home and they did not let her enter her house without consenting to a search. When she did not consent, they waited until they got a warrant. When she asked what prompted the search, she was told that “it doesn’t matter”. They found marijuana which justified taking her son into state custody.

Of course Kansas has the right to enforce their own laws. Of course you shouldn’t give pot to children. But I think Shona has the right to be innocent until proven guilty. I think her marijuana possession was medical and political in nature and the burden of proof is on the state to prove that the presence of marijuana in this case constitutes reckless endangerment of this child. But that’s not our justice system. In our system the mere presence of marijuana justifies imprisonment, deportation and loss of custody or employment.

Truer words were never spoken when the officer told Shona that “it doesn’t matter”. Privacy is the price of the drug war because to enforce victimless crimes, the police must spy on citizens. It really doesn’t matter if a cop decides he has probable cause to search you and lucky for him if he finds cash because he’s already decided it’s drug money. When suspicion constitutes guilt, it doesn’t matter how it started, you’re already guilty.

I say that possession of marijuana is not a crime, it’s political speech–and it doesn’t justify the forced removal of your children. It was certainly political speech in Shona’s case. If her activist goal was to show everyone the injustice of the drug war, then I think the Garden City Police Department has done a spectacular job for her. Good job, guys. So good luck, Shona. May justice prevail.

 

420 Results

The 420 Results are IN

 

420 Results

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The results are in! The Pot Scientist walked around the Cannabis Cup in Denver 2015 with a suit, a moustache and 3 questions. Although it was a very limited sample size, the data still gave me some insights and feelings. [DISCLAIMER] These insights might be recklessly immature so I just thought I’d post them on the internet for free.

Question 1: What is your preferred method of consuming marijuana? Smoking bowls, joints, blunts, eating Edibles, Vaping, Dabbing or Topicals? Some prefer to smoke bowls and I saw lots of edibles, joints and blunts but the overwhelming answer I got was DABBING! For those who don’t know, dabbing is a way that you can consume approximately the THC of a whole joint in one breath. Beer is to Liquor as Joint is to Dab. It’s the same thing just one’s a lot faster. All you need is a rig, a blow torch, and a little dab of hash oil. [MARKET FOR TORCHLESS DAB RIG?] It looked a little unsafe to me but let’s step back and remember the sample selection here.

These are people who paid money to come to the Cannabis Cup and stay for the duration, so a lot of them really like getting really high. Nobody I asked said “topicals” but I would not write off the topicals market at all. I suspect an unrepresented market of health-store-type people who don’t like getting super baked, do like medicinal lotions and creams and wouldn’t be caught dead at the Cannabis Cup.

Question 2: When buying marijuana, which of these attributes are the most/least important? How it looks, how it smells, the name, the price, the high it gives you or the cannabinoid percentages? Here I noticed Customer Segmentation. There are at least 2 distinct markets here. One market only cares about the price and they know it, and another market cares about high quality of every attribute, except the name which doesn’t matter if the rest is good. “The high that it gives you” also scored high, but more research is needed. Factors off the top of my head that can affect your high include but aren’t limited to the customer’s unique biology, cannabinoids, terpenes and method of consumption. [CALLING ALL SCIENTISTS] So More Research is Needed!

Question 3: Would you rather have an edible that hits you faster and doesn’t last as long or hits you slower and lasts longer? I thought more would say faster because it’s easier to dose but I was surprised to hear just as many people say longer. Both sides were certain, like no hesitation. I think a dissolvable tablet that hits you in 1-5 minutes has a market AND an extended release tablet that lasts all day has a separate market.

Last Question was open-ended: What kind of high are you looking for? Some answers were distracting but pleasant, without a fog, relaxing, and it depends.

I am not a Marketing Professional, I’m just a scientist and a quality guy, so I give these thoughts freely. They’re are simply a reflection of what the data were telling me at the time. If you are a Marketing Professional, if you agree or disagree, feel free to comment, share and start a conversation. Happy 420 everybody! If you have freedom, please USE IT and So Long from Colorado!

 

VOC 420

Voice of the Customer 420

img credit: america.aljazeera.com

img credit: america.aljazeera.com

Whenever a company decides to implement Lean/Six Sigma Production into their business model, a critical component is what is called the Voice of the Customer.

The voice of the customer is the deciding factor in steps that are Critical to Quality in your production process, or which steps in your manufacturing are Customer Value-Add (CVA) or not. If you’re spending a lot of time making your product a certain way that the customer either won’t notice or doesn’t care about, then that is a Non-Value-Added (NVA) activity, also known as Waste.

Marijuana advertisement is hobbled by regulation more than many other markets. Interstate commerce is forbidden as are many forms of advertisement. Marijuana companies are understandably reluctant to perform studies of their own customers.

So I am taking the initiative here as an independent contractor. I am going to the 4/20 Cannabis Cup here in Denver and my mission is to take a survey of cannabis consumers so that businesses can make effective quality decisions. So if you’re a marijuana business, you’ll want to tune on April 20th, 2015 to hear the results. I’ll be asking the following questions of cannabis consumers in the recreating area:

  1. What is your preferred method of marijuana consumption?
    1. Smoking? (Bowls)
    2. Smoking? (Joints/Blunts)
    3. Edibles?
    4. Vaping?
    5. Dabbing?
    6. Topicals?
  2. When buying marijuana, which aspects are the most/least important?
    1. How it smells/tastes?
    2. How it looks?
    3. Strain/Name?
    4. Cannabinoid chemical content?
    5. The Price?
    6. The high?
  3. Would you rather have an edible that hits you faster and doesn’t last as long or an edible that hits you slower and lasts longer?
  4. What kind of high are you looking for?

The first three questions will have data associated with them and the last question is a bit more free form. So tune in on 4/20 and I’ll have my Voice of the Customer Report ready for the marijuana industry along with my own analysis.

What is the voice of the Marijuana Consumer? What do they care about and what are they looking for? Answers to these questions and more will be coming in the next TPS Reports!

 

Not a Criminal

I am Not a Criminal

Not a Criminal

Not a Criminal

Img Credit: aragonlawfirm.com

Just because marijuana is legalized here in Colorado and a few other states doesn’t mean that the drug war doesn’t rage on across the United States. One of the hardest tasks is removing the social stigma of marijuana consumption. Moderate Marijuana consumers (like me) face discrimination in cases of immigration, child custody, housing and employment. The statistics are overwhelming at aclu.org but I’m not going to hit you with statistics in this blog post. Instead I’m going to offer myself, The Pot Scientist, as a case study in hopes of changing few minds and softening the stigma.

I smoke weed the way a moderate drinker drinks beer. I smoke to put a cap at the end of a hard day. I smoke to increase my appetite, I smoke to relax, I smoke to deal with my chronic pain of living (which is none of your business), I smoke to fall asleep, I have been smoking regularly for years and I am not a criminal. Consuming marijuana was a part of my routine when I graduated from college, became an avid reader, got a career job at big pharma as a microbiologist, quality analyst and quality engineer. If marijuana tempered my ambition, I would not have founded my own company, Cannabis Quality Engineering, with a mission to implement safe and hygienic marijuana production practices in this new and growing industry. And I did all of these things despite smoking weed on the regular.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that I was only able to do these things because I was not randomly stopped and searched by the police and didn’t get my life ruined with a felony conviction and a prison term. (whitey!) I don’t know exactly why…but somehow…I just slipped under the radar of the drug war…for some reason…

The worst thing a privileged person can do is deny that they have privilege. I acknowledge the privilege I have and I am outraged by the racial injustice of America’s Drug War. Maybe this is the best thing about marijuana legalization. Recognizing the overall injustice of the War on Drugs. There are people in prison today who are no more Criminals than I am. And it’s wrong. I recognize that it’s wrong and I want to do something about it.

So NSA, please deliver this message to POTUS: Non-violent marijuana possessors should be released from prison and have their marijuana records expunged so they can become contributing members of society. It’s not enough, but it’s the least we could do.

You can smoke and be a good scientist. You can smoke and be a good employee. You can smoke and be a good parent. You can smoke and be a good politician. You can smoke and be a good doctor. You can smoke and be a good lawyer. You can smoke and be a responsible voter or a business owner. If you agree or if your life proves it join the movement with #ImNotaCriminal or feel free to respond to this blog post with your own story. Let’s fight the stigma together, people. We’re here! We get high sometimes! Get used to it!

 

 

The Fate

The Fate of Schedule II Marijuana

img credit: en.wikipedia.org

In the past few weeks, the United States House of Representatives followed the lead of the bipartisan effort in the Senate to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule II drug instead of its current status as Schedule I.

As with most things in Congress, the intent was good but the execution leaves much to be desired. On the upside, if this passes, Marijuana businesses would finally have unfettered access to banking…and that’s where the positives end. All the sudden, marijuana will be in the same group as vicodin, adderall, hydrocodone, and percocet. And every new marijuana drug (for example, ALL OF THEM) will have to be developed with chemically identical doses designed to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent a specific disease.

Essentially it means that no one could legally sell any marijuana or marijuana-derived product until they complete the FDA’s Drug Review Process (DRP). I’ll give you the easy, simplified version in 12 easy steps.

  1. Preclinical (animal) testing.
  2. An investigational new drug application (IND) outlines what the sponsor of a new drug proposes for human testing in clinical trials.
  3. Phase 1 studies (typically involve 20 to 80 people).
  4. Phase 2 studies (typically involve a few dozen to about 300 people).
  5. Phase 3 studies (typically involve several hundred to about 3,000 people).
  6. The pre-NDA period, just before a new drug application (NDA) is submitted. A common time for the FDA and drug sponsors to meet.
  7. Submission of an NDA is the formal step asking the FDA to consider a drug for marketing approval.
  8. After an NDA is received, the FDA has 60 days to decide whether to file it so it can be reviewed.
  9. If the FDA files the NDA, an FDA review team is assigned to evaluate the sponsor’s research on the drug’s safety and effectiveness.
  10. The FDA reviews information that goes on a drug’s professional labeling (information on how to use the drug).
  11. The FDA inspects the facilities where the drug will be manufactured as part of the approval process.
  12. FDA reviewers will approve the application or issue a complete response letter.

The Marijuana Industry is unable to afford a Drug Review Process, and Big Pharma would be unwilling to fund a DRP on a chemically inconsistent product (should we do a DRP for every strain to treat different conditions?) with poorly understood physiological effects and marketability.

Besides testing requirements, there are other problems with rescheduling Marijuana. Dispensaries would be illegal because you’d have get your marijuana from a pharmacy with a doctor’s 90-day prescription. Another problem is that the FDA would require the United States Pharmacopeia and National Formulary to list marijuana to even CALL it a “drug”. (unlikely) And WHAT ABOUT HEMP?

In short, if we want the Marijuana industry to survive. Hemp should be regulated like Corn and Marijuana should DE-scheduled and regulated like a herbal product, dietary supplement or vitamin. So my dear congress, Marijuana doesn’t fit in with the other Schedule II drugs and trying to make it fit would be a colossal mistake.