Honestly, the reason this title is so strange sounding, is because Minnesota isn’t a state that comes up as one of the more forward-thinking when it comes to cannabis policy. But even so, as part of a sweeping hemp reform bill, Minnesota just legalized hemp-derived THC for edibles of both the food and drink variety.
This bill in Minnesota which legalized hemp-derived THC in edibles is not the standard for states without legalization policies, and it certainly doesn’t go in line with the rest of Minnesota’s cannabis policy. But progress is good, and this is definitely a step forward. This publication focuses on news reporting for the expanding cannabis and psychedelics industries. Keep up with everything going on by signing up for the THC Weekly Newsletter, which also nets you access to prime deals on vapes, edibles, and tons of other smoking paraphernalia. You can also access deals for cannabinoid compounds like the super popular delta-8 THC. Please remember: we do not advise anyone use a product they are not comfortable with using.
What’s the story?
On Sunday May 22, the Minnesota legislature passed a large hemp reform bill, which among other things, legalized the use of hemp-derived THC in edibles including both foods and drinks. This will be applicable to those 21 and older. The law isn’t meant to allow all edibles, but those with a small amount of THC from hemp.
How much is a small amount? According to the law, products can contain concentrations of THC to the limit of 5mg per serving, or 50mg per package. This amounts to about half a standard dose for THC in comparison to products in most legalized states. So realistically, all a consumer would have to do is eat double the amount, to receive a standard dose of THC. Not bad for a state that holds cannabis as illegal for recreational use, but we’ll get to that soon.
The bill also allows for CBD products to be in food and beverages, something that Minnesota changed tack on. In fact, it was Minnesota several months ago that made headlines when it established that CBD was never legal at all for certain purposes under federal law. This bill corrects inconsistencies, and includes CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids like delta-8 THC as well. It also allows these compounds to be used in topicals and other applications.
Other requirements put forth by the bill, include keeping edible products in childproof packaging (just like in recreational states), that products can’t resemble known products (this is standard trademark law), and that the products must undergo testing for things like mold, heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers and solvents (also something standard in the legal states). The bill officially passed the Minnesota legislature, and now awaits signature by Governor Tim Walz. It would go into effect August 1, 2022. These updates don’t go in line with current cannabis policy in the state, but do imply a desire to quickly change things. Let’s look at why.
The cannabinoid black market
Hemp-derived THC refers to THC that is derived from cannabis plants with no more than .3% THC by dry weight. The THC extracted isn’t different from THC extracted from a higher THC plant. This differentiation in how they’re looked at legally is not because the final products are different, but because there’s been confusion stemming from the 2018 US Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production for industrial use. This confusion has led to a black market of cannabinoid products led by delta-8 THC.
Of course, the issue with the cannabinoid market in general, is that the cannabinoids aren’t directly extracted from the hemp plants since they don’t exist in big enough quantities. This means they’re actually synthesized for products, meaning they no longer fit under the definition of hemp. Though this should disqualify them, the reality of life is that things don’t work that way, and no government has been able to squash out this illegal market.
So, why would a state without so much as a recreational legalization, pull an about face and legalize THC for edible products? Perhaps Minnesota’s reasons are less about doing things for the good of the people, and more about trying to rein in black market industries before they’re out of control.
Minnesota has had an issue with legal clarity since it attempted to set its own regulation in line with the federal government. This bill clears up areas of inconsistency, as well as taking care of the black cannabinoid market. By requiring it to be hemp-derived, it officially illegalizes synthetic compounds, and makes the products taxable by the government as cannabis products.
Why Minnesota legalized hemp-derived THC for edibles
All of this is exemplified by Kurtis Hanna, a lobbyist for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Minnesota chapter, who put it this way: “Overall I think it’s a way in which Minnesotans are going to be able to check out what it’s like to have legal products being sold on shelves in a non-gray market.” Of course, consumers seem to care way less about this than government bodies which can tax products.
This idea was echoed by cannabis attorney Susan Burns, who said, “It’s really good for retailers, because it provides [legal] certainty, and also for consumers, because you have safety mechanisms in place.” Indeed it will allow for a cleaner market for consumers, as well as opening it up to legal providers, and taking it away from black market operatives.
As per the Star Tribune article that broke the story, “the intoxicating, hemp-derived cousin of delta-9 THC — delta-8 — is already being widely sold in Minnesota and has until now operated in an unregulated, legal gray area.” This law essentially closes the gap by making regulation for compounds like delta-8 THC. It will also throw a curve ball to delta-8 producers who are already selling products with large amounts of delta-8, which now do not fit into this regulation.
All of this goes in line with a recent federal appeals court ruling based on a trademark violation case, in which it was decided that a delta-8 vape cartridge is a trademark-ready product, thus making it a legal product, as illegal products cannot be trademarked.
How useful is all this? According to Hanna, “it’s pretty exclusively dipping that toe into beverages and edible food products as opposed to making any progress on smokeable or vaporizable products. But it’s a positive outcome.”
Minnesota and cannabis
Funny enough, this all happened right after Minnesota’s republican-led senate, stopped an adult-use legalization bill form advancing in this legislative session. This was in spite of a strong democratic push to get something through before the deadline this year. It seems the government might be more concerned about cornering this black market, than caring about a standard legal industry, as this bill had no problem passing both the house and senate in the state.
Minnesota does have a medical cannabis policy that went into effect in 2014, so its certainly not a state that prohibits cannabis entirely. Minnesota was also a state to institute a decriminalization measure back in 1976 – which several states did around that time in opposition to federal criminalization measures. Possession of up to 42.5 grams is considered a petty misdemeanor, with a maximum fine of $200.
Minnesota has been fighting hard to get a legalization measure through, which is probably why this bill was able to make it. As mentioned, another adult-use bill bit the dust in the senate just prior to this one passing. The state has seen a greater push since Walz took office in 2018. He argued legalizing cannabis would be good for the state on different levels including bringing in tax revenue and getting people out of jail who shouldn’t be in it. He made this statement, “I just think the time is here and we’re seeing it across the country. Minnesota has always been able to implement these things right.”
As such, though it’s not immediately on the docket, it seems like Minnesota should be passing something soon. Either way though, the state has essentially enacted a legalization policy through a hemp reform bill, which does make THC legal for regulated sale in the state.
Usually when it comes to things like cannabis legalization policies, they’re outright and obvious in what they’re doing. This is not the case with the bill Minnesota just passed which legalized hemp-derived THC in edibles. While marijuana remains illegal for recreational use, in Minnesota, THC just got a legal pass.
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The Laser Bong You Never Knew You Needed
The technology of smoking has improved greatly over the last couple of decades. First it was vaping, and the ability to no longer burn the weed. Now it’s the new laser bong, and a technology that takes the butane out of smoking.
The laser bong is the newest in weed-smoking technology, and it’s a pretty cool looking piece of equipment. If you’re a person who needs the next thing now, you definitely need this bong! We report on tons of stories in the cannabis and psychedelic industries, which you can play along with by subscribing to the THC Weekly Newsletter. This also gets you prime access to promotions on all kinds of items like vapes, edibles, and paraphernalia, along with premium deals on cannabinoid compounds like HHC-O, Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP, and HHC. As always, we do remind customers not to purchase any product they are uncomfortable with using.
What’s a regular bong?
A bong, or waterpipe, is a smoking device that uses water to filter the smoke. These devices come in different sizes, and shapes, and though they sometimes look very different, the functional design in the same.
A bong is made of a water chamber, which is connected to a mouthpiece in one place, and a bowl in another, and sometimes a carb hole as well, although this is not necessary if the bowl is removable and able to work as a carb. The point of this function is to let in air to clear the accumulated smoke in the water chamber. The chamber needs to be air and watertight when the user puts their mouth to the mouthpiece. The weed is put in the bowl and lit on fire.
When the weed is lit, the user inhales through the mouthpiece, pulling in air through the bowl, through the water chamber, and into the user’s mouth. If there’s a carb hole, this must be covered during inhale, or it won’t work. Once the user has pulled as much air as they wish, they can let go of the carb, or remove the bowl, in order to clear out the chamber of built-up smoke.
Bongs are used for smoking, but the same structure is also used to vaporize, via dabbing. Dabs are used as a way to vaporize concentrates, and use the same method of heating the concentrate, and then sucking the vapor through the water. The water works as a filter, trapping the heavier particles in the smoke/vapor, which makes for a smoother hit. The water also cools the smoke down, making it less harsh on the throat. Some bong use another piece called a percolator, which is a twisty glass structure, also meant to cool the air down further. It’s common as well to put ice cubes in the neck of a bong, or directly in the water chamber, for cooling purposes.
Because of the water filtration, bongs might be slightly less dangerous than waterless pipes or joints, but there are things to consider. The weed is still being lit on fire and breathed in, which like it or not, is smoke inhalation, the basis for smoking issues. Plus, the weed is lit with a lighter, which also means the user is breathing in butane fumes as well. This matters in that sometimes a flame is held for many seconds when smoking a bong, in order to burn the herbs adequately.
What is a laser bong?
Let’s be honest, just the term ‘laser bong’ sounds all futuristic and cool, and the best part is… it’s real. Smoking technology has certainly reached a pinnacle at this point in history, as its now possible to light your weed with lasers. How effective is this new method? And what’s the difference in terms of what you inhale?
The company Hitoki is the first to make this bong a reality, called the Hitoki Trident. The Trident is a cylindrical bong of mostly black airplane grade aluminum, with an air hose about 1/4-1/3 of the way up from the bottom. Above the air hose is a laser chamber that shines blue when in use, and below it is the water chamber that the smoke gets pulled through. The laser it emits is a 445 nm class 4 blue laser, hence the blue of the chamber. The water hose is either an actual hose – like what’s used for a hookah, but a bit thicker, or a more stable plastic hose-like mouthpiece, more akin to a standard bong.
The benefit of the laser is that it can heat to a very precise temperature, and doesn’t have to go as high as a lighter. It’s used to burn either dry herb or concentrates, and is very efficient, allowing for approximately 280 uses off of each charge of its battery. Something that can be done easily with its included USB charger. In all other ways beside the laser as a heat source, the Trident functions like any other bong.
In order to use it, the bong comes apart for loading the weed. It has two distinct pieces that lock back together with an FDA compliant interlock system. It’s about as simple as loading it, locking it, and lighting it, which is done with the push of a button. The laser has three power settings, with the lowest temperature for buds, the mid for dense buds, and the highest for concentrates. It also comes equipped with a carb button for cleaning out the smoke chamber.
If you’re thinking this is a lot for a bong, you’re right! These bongs are so high scale, they even come in gold or rose gold, for those who want the extra fancy version. Even the regular version will set you back a bit, starting $499,99. Hitoki marks the first company to employ this laser technology for bongs, but it likely opened a can of worms that tons of companies will get in on. Hitoki boasts the cleanest smoking experience using the Trident, and that the smoke is the most flavorful possible.
Benefits of a laser bong
It’s not exactly a cheap piece of equipment, and therefore won’t be available to everyone. It can be expected that upcoming competitor models will retain the same high price, although if its out long enough, there’s surely a budget model somewhere in the future. For now, however, if you want this new smoking gadget, you’ll have to pay out. So, if the cost is so high, what are the benefits of using a laser bong?
For one thing, there’s no lighter, and no other material being burned in order to light the herb. Back a few years ago I had a boyfriend who bought a hemp wick (think hemp twine), which was also meant to clean out the lighting aspect. Instead of lighting the bong with a lighter, the lighter lit the wick, which was then used to light the weed. Honestly, it worked okay, but I found it difficult to use. The laser bong does remove the inhalation of any extra materials, although there isn’t much information on whether it itself creates byproducts which might not be desirable to inhale.
The laser is supposedly more efficient than using a lighter, burning the herb evenly, and requiring less weed to do the same job. Going through weed quickly is often an issue, particularly when a device does not heat evenly, or simply requires a large amount for a not comparable hit. Anything that can elongate the amount of time weed lasts, certainly provides a positive benefit. How much it does in this department, has not been made clear.
It’s super cool. I don’t know how much this counts as a benefit, but in our world of constantly one-upping each other, and showing off our newest expenditures to those who want what we have, this bong certainly fits in line. Sure, it’s the mansion that’s probably too big, or the eighth car we could do without, but who doesn’t want a huge mansion, or to be able to afford eight cars? If the use of a laser does indeed make it a safer experience, then that is a massive benefit. Either way, in terms of ‘cool’ and ‘status’, this smoking device is the Rolls Royce of bongs.
It’s advertised that this laser bong uses lower temperatures to heat, and that this affects the overall feel. While this would have no effect on the negatives of combustion, it might make a difference in how a user feels the smoke in their body. Lower temperatures can mean a more comfortable time, and less coughing, as the heat can bother the throat and lungs. This is why bongs are often kitted out with extra measures to cool down the smoke.
There is one massive thing to remember. If you’re looking at a laser bong as a healthier smoking option, this isn’t quite true. The biggest issue with smoking – and it doesn’t matter what’s smoked – is that something is being lit on fire and inhaled, and this is not changed through this particular design. It eliminates the added on butane fumes, that’s for sure, and therefore might net a smoke that tastes better and is slightly cleaner, but it won’t take out the overall dangers of smoking, not even by a little.
Quite honestly, in terms of actual benefits, there are some, but they’re not extensive. It does seem to promote a sleek, upscale, cleaner smoking experience, and the removal of butane is certainly helpful, along with the ability to make weed go further. Luckily, cool and futuristic are also benefits in our modern world, so if you’re looking for the newest breakthrough in smoking technology, and the most hip way to do it, this laser bong is definitely for you.
It should be interesting to watch other comparable models by other companies come out. With enough competition the design will surely be improved on, and with enough time, we can learn the true benefits (and detractions) of using laser bongs. For now, Hitoki certainly hit the nail on the head of cool, and I fully admit, I want to try this bong! Review upcoming.
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Biden Wants to Reduce Nicotine in Cigarettes – Will This Help?
Smoking is pretty bad, that’s for sure. So bad that the number of smoking deaths a year eclipses the number of opioid deaths, and that’s saying a lot. In a recent report, Biden stated that he wants to reduce the nicotine level in cigarettes, as a way to reduce smoking in general. Can this help though? And why is the research on this topic so conflicting?
The new thing of the Biden administration is that it wants to reduce the nicotine level allowable in cigarettes, but this seems like a strange move when vaping already provides a safer answer. This news site focuses on stories covering the expanding cannabis and psychedelics industries of today. Keep up with everything by signing up for THC Weekly Newsletter, and also get access to a range of deals on tons of products including cannabinoid compounds like HHC-O, Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC. As always, we only advice consumers purchase products they are fully comfortable using.
The damage of smoking
Smoking anything is bad. This is the first thing to really know about smoking. Though tobacco often gets a bad rap, it’s merely a plant. A plant which has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and without a huge death count. Truth is, there are plenty of substances in life which are safe to take one way, and unsafe to take in others. Mushrooms for example are eaten, but they aren’t smoked. So it’s not that weird to say tobacco doesn’t have to be bad, if not used in a bad way.
The real culprit is the act of lighting something on fire, and breathing it in. Smoke inhalation – what smoking is – is the term used to describe the health issue of inhaling too much smoke. Smoke of any kind is a carcinogen by nature, so it matters less what is burning, than that something is burning and inhaled. Some things are worse to breathe in than others, this is also true. Breathing in burning metal or plastic is way worse than tobacco smoke could ever be. However, having said that, processed tobacco is full of chemicals that make the whole smoking experience that must more dangerous.
In terms of how dangerous it is, according to the CDC, approximately 480,000 people die from cigarettes a year, with 41,000 of those attributed to second-hand smoke. This means over 40,000 people a year die from someone else’s bad habit. When broken down, over 160,000 deaths are from cancer, and another 160,000 are from cardiovascular diseases including heart disease, vascular disease, and diabetes. A third grouping of 113,000+ deaths are from respiratory illnesses like influenza, pneumonia, and COPD.
How does secondhand smoke actually effect people? Of the secondhand smoke deaths per year, over 7,000 are due to cancer, and another 34,000 are from heart disease. Simply sitting in the same room as a smoker causes the same deadly conditions to the secondhand consumer, as it does to the person lighting up.
Biden wants to reduce nicotine in cigarettes
It should be remembered that for many years after it was technically known that cigarettes cause dangerous health concerns, they were not only openly marketed, but with lies attached to their safety issues. And they were promoted by the likes of doctors. Though the US government likes to separate itself from its shady activities in the past, it has continually taken money from big tobacco, and for years failed to regulate the industry. Though big tobacco gives less money to congressional representatives than it did in the past, the US government still makes billions of dollars from cigarette taxes.
When it did start to regulate the industry, it changed tack on big tobacco outwardly (while still accepting its money), and began pointing the finger at the entity, while ignoring its own part in everything. But it was involved, just as much as its involved in helping to keep people on opioids by refusing to better regulate the industry; by accepting money from, and promoting policy in favor of, the pharma companies that produce them; and by downplaying better options like the use of ketamine instead. So perhaps this recent rumor from the Biden administration, should be taken with a grain of salt.
A recent report by the Wall Street Journal on the 10th of June, says that Biden wants to reduce the allowable limit of nicotine in cigarettes. The publication stated that though the US government might announce new policy this week, any policy would take several years to craft, and wouldn’t go into effect for quite some time.
The idea of the Biden administration is to reduce nicotine levels until cigarettes are no longer addictive, though how many steps this may take, what levels will be allowed, and what exact end goal there is, have not been stated. As nothing was formally announced yet, this news comes from unidentified white house sources who supposedly spoke directly with the Wall Street Journal.
What happens when nicotine is reduced in cigarettes?
Biden wants to reduce nicotine in cigarettes to make them less addictive, but can this really work? A piece of oft cited research from 2015 points to reduced nicotine cigarettes helping people smoke less and quit, but everything else from before, essentially says that reducing nicotine simply promotes the smoker to smoke more. Which statement is correct? Let’s examine the evidence.
In 2015 a study came out called Reduced Nicotine Cigarettes: Smoking Behavior and Biomarkers of Exposure among Smokers Not Intending to Quit. The aim of the study was to examined how consumer behavior changes in response to reduced nicotine cigarettes. Seventy-two adult smokers were used for the study. Participants went through a trial period where nicotine levels were gradually reduced by week. It went from 0.6 to 0.3 to 0.05mg emissions, and everyone smoked Quest cigarettes.
According to study results, there was a reduction in nicotine intake when going from 0.3 to 0.05 mg, but not when going from 0.6 to 0.3mg. According to the study, there were “no increases in exhaled breath carbon monoxide levels, smoking intensity, or levels of 1-hydroxypyrene across study periods. No significant differences were observed for smoking urges or measures of nicotine dependence.” This all indicates that reducing nicotine in cigarettes, leads to consuming less nicotine.
This study comes with a myriad of problems though. For one thing, the study lasted for three weeks, and we don’t know what happened to smoking behavior after that. People who smoke, often smoke more or less at different times, but this doesn’t indicate overall behavioral changes. Plus, the study participants were completely aware of everything, as this was not a blind study. This means they knew they were getting less and less nicotine, so their behavioral responses came with that understanding.
Last, this study was funded by an anti-smoking group (Health Canada Tobacco Control Program), has an author who was an expert witness for the FDA, and clearly states “The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked advertisement in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.” These are massive conflicts of interest, and show a possible informational slant which can call into question the results of this study.
The other story…
Prior to this, research told a different story. In 1984 the study came out Does switching to an ultra-low nicotine cigarette induce nicotine withdrawal effects? In the study, 26 participants were randomly assigned to either a control group or an experimental group. The former group continued smoking as usual, and the latter group was switched to an ultra-low nicotine cigarette instead. Both subjective rating, and plasma nicotine concentration levels, were examined.
Results did find a substantial drop in plasma nicotine levels of 60%, but this was lower than the 90% that it should have been in accordance with the reduction in nicotine levels in the cigarettes. This shows that smokers were compensating by smoking more cigarettes, even if the total nicotine they received, was less.
Another study from 2004 shows a similar thing. In this study, Smoking cigarettes of low nicotine yield does not reduce nicotine intake as expected: a study of nicotine dependency in Japanese males, 458 Japanese men with an average age of 51, participated. A questionnaire was used, along with urine nicotine measurements. Study results showed a nearly halved decrease in urine nicotine concentration from the highest nicotine level to the lowest. However, in reality, it should have been an 11-fold difference, as the nicotine level decreased by 11X. In fact, the study investigators found that “cotinine concentration in heavily dependent smokers was consistently high regardless of the nicotine yield of brands.”
This once again indicates that lowering nicotine levels doesn’t mean smoking less, and instead points to smoking more. When looking at only nicotine decreases in plasma and urine, it’s misleading when not considering the level the nicotine decreased in cigarettes, and if they match up. This is a tactic meant to make it appear that smoking levels went down, when in fact, only nicotine went down, while smoking increased.
The two should match, and if there’s a lesser decrease of nicotine in urine or blood than the decrease of nicotine in the cigarettes, this implies the person smoked more cigarettes to get to whatever level of nicotine they achieved in between. Since the issue is really smoke inhalation, any increase in cigarettes smoked indicates a problem, and a reason for concern over increased rates of damage in the future.
What makes this more confounding, is that there already is an alternative in the form of vapes. Vaping has virtually no death toll, and isn’t associated with cancer or cardiovascular disease. It’s possible in the future we’ll find some issue associated with vaping, but as of right now, this information doesn’t exist. And it doesn’t exist regardless of nicotine content of what’s vaped. Instead of promoting vaping, the government wages fear campaigns against it, and constantly tries to block or dissuade the public from doing it, even though no direct deaths come from vaping, and all issues reported have been related to additives.
This brings up a lot of questions, like why is the government continually talking down the safer option, and instead offering weak measures that have many issues attached? And why are we still talking about nicotine or tobacco at all, when the real thing to be wary of, is smoke inhalation in general?
Biden might want to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes, but the only indication from both life and research, is that this will increase the amount of cigarettes smoked. Insisting on lowering nicotine levels as a way to combat cancer, cardiovascular disease, or respiratory disease is so backwards in the first place, that expecting anything decent to come out of this, is like ignoring the massive role the government played in getting people hooked in the first place.
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Buying and Selling Cannabis in the Metaverse
Numerous companies are utilizing the metaverse as a new, barely-regulated way to promote their products. Although major brands like Miller Lite, Estee Lauder, Wendy’s and JPMorgan Chase & Co are already setting up shop in the digital realm, there seems to be some keen advantages to advertising this way for those who work in the cannabis industry as well.
Because the metaverse operates on a Web3 decentralized platform, there is no corporate control or censorship, leaving cannabis companies freer to market their products in ways they would not be able to do on say, Facebook or Instagram. According to Lisa Buffo, founder and chief executive of the Cannabis Marketing Association, “It is a wide-open space in Web3… regulators haven’t wrapped their heads around it yet.”
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What is the Metaverse?
By now most people have, at the very least, heard the word “Metaverse” – whether in the context of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook rebrand, or when NFTs briefly had their moment in the limelight, digital art galleries, and so on. But what exactly is the metaverse? Different explanations have been offered up, from the metaverse being a basically just a virtual universe where we use an avatar to navigate a fake world, to it being simply a way to categorize various extended reality technologies.
Actually, the term “metaverse” was first coined in a sci-fi novel written by Neal Stephenson in 1992, titled Snow Crash. In the book, Stephenson describes the metaverse as a type of digital parallel universe. Today’s metaverse bears some similar concepts, but overall is based on the idea of Web3, or third generation internet in which everything is operated on decentralized blockchain technology.
“The metaverse is a 3D version of the Internet and computing at large,” Mathew Ball, a venture capitalist and angel investor who’s written a series of essays about the potential and structures of the metaverse, told VICE. “There are two ways to place this in the current context,” Ball added. “When these two technologies (internet and computing) first emerged, all interactions were primarily text-based (emails, messages, usernames, email addresses). Then they slowly became more media-based (photos, videos, livestreams). The next elevation of user interface and user experience is into 3D. Secondly, if we think of [a] mobile [phone] as placing a computer in our pocket and the internet being available at all times, think of the metaverse as always being within a computer and inside the internet.”
Many experts and Web3 stakeholders view the metaverse as a 3D version of the internet, where you a digital life through your avatar and interact with others through their avatars. A way to be social, more so than typing on a keyboard on some social media platform, but minus any true, real-life interactions.
Others, like cybersecurity expert and founding director of the Connecticut Institute of Technology at the University of New Haven, Ibrahim Baggili, don’t believe a true metaverse actually exists yet. “It’s not real at this stage, and won’t become real until people have a single location they can go to to get into in a virtual world they could live in,” Baggili claims.
Cannabis transactions in Decentraland
What is most appealing to cannabis companies about selling products in the metaverse, for the time being anyway, are the very lax advertising regulations compared other internet platforms. So far, only a handful of weed companies are buying up digital space, and only of these companies sells THC products.
For example, Higher Life CBD Dispesnary LLC, who partnered with partnered with Saucey Farms & Extracts LLC earlier this year, opened a store in Voxels last December. Voxels is a metaverse-style universe that used to be called Cryptovoxels until they rebranded last month. Although you can’t buy anything directly from their virtual store, you can click a cash register button in the meta dispensary which will redirect you to their website where you can make a purchase. According to Higher Life chief executive, Brandon Howard, roughly 1000 people visit the virtual dispensary every day.
Florida-based Kandy Girl, owed by Alina Boyce, is the first cannabis company that sells THC products to purchase virtual property in Decentraland. Her metaverse store is located at -55, -129. Every “parcel” that exists in the metaverse has its own coordinates/location so people can “teleport” there immediately.
However, according to chief marketing officer and owner of Boyce Capital LLC, Ben Boyce, there aren’t enough users yet to generate the necessary investor interest to take things to the next level. “When there’s a million people logged into a metaverse at any given time, that’s when it is going to make sense to staff [a virtual] dispensary with a real live human being,” Mr. Boyce said.
But until then, basically all the cannabis brands can do is take advantage of the advertising freedom they have in the metaverse compared to traditional advertising platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google. Metaverse platforms are different in that they have varying rules for how and what you can promote, depending on what world you’re in. For example, Roblox, Meta Horizon WOrlds, and Sandbox have banned cannabis companies, but Decentraland and Voxels support them.
“We have supported various NFT cannabis communities—as long as they meet the terms and conditions,” said Adam de Cata, head of partnerships at Decentraland. “Cannabis companies that open in Decentraland need to observe legal regulations, including not serving users in countries where the product is prohibited,” said Sam Hamilton, creative director of Decentraland Foundation, which builds tools for the platform and handles its marketing.
The consumer experience
The basics of shopping for pot products in the Decentraland metaverse go a little something like this: First, you launch the program on a desktop computer, create an avatar, and move through the virtual dispensary world where you can interact with other people’s avatars and buy products with your crypto wallet by scanning a QR code that takes you to the checkout site. There are multiple floors in the meta Kandy Girl store for customers to explore, including a large NFT gallery and a virtual rooftop party held earlier this year (yes, a party for avatars).
Founder Alina Boyce says, “A lot of these NFT projects people are investing in, either don’t end up delivering on their promises, or it just takes so long for the promises of these projects to be executed. It scares investors when they see the floor price of a NFT project start dropping. We’ve created a reason to stay.”
To get a better idea of the whole experience, I did a bit of exploring in Decentraland myself. The concept was interesting. First, I made an avatar and launched Decentraland, where I started off inside the Kandy Girl dispensary. There was an upper level but I did not have access because I entered the game as a guest. It was very rudimentary – which is understandable considering how new this digital world is.
After looking around a bit, I went outside and wandered where there was an array of different NFT artwork to look at, walked some more and exited the app shortly after. I do find it extremely forward thinking of Kandy Girl to pursue this marketing avenue, as they are the first company to establish a digital metaverse dispensary that sells THC products. However, it will certainly need to be more entertaining if business owners wish to create an experience that’s worth repeating.
As strange as it all sounds, the metaverse is trending so it’s no surprise that cannabis companies (an industry which has also been trending for the last few years), are eyeing these virtual business opportunities. An added bonus is that, in some of these digital worlds, they are free to advertise with much more leniency than they are in the real world. And although shopping and activities are still somewhat abysmal in decentraland and voxels, it will be interesting to see what the future holds.
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