Can I Be Blunt?

Can I Be Blunt?

A Pain in My Cannabis Strain Name

Some cannabis strain names aren’t fit for patient care. Pfizer invested millions of dollars and focus-grouped thousands of people before it settled on the name Viagra. And while insecure men everywhere might blush to utter the V-word, you won’t see physicians writing prescriptions for 50mg of the “little blue pill”. Even when the drug companies encourage you to adopt an easy recall handle like “the little purple pill”, your pharmacist still knows its Prilosec. You may not take your drug regime seriously, but the medical profession does.

Unless it’s cannabis.

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Imagine approaching your pharmacist after a round of chemo and having him or her nod empathetically before saying, “I know just what you need: a little Alaskan Thunder Fuck ought to do the trick.”

Perhaps I wouldn’t be nearly so judgmental if this was a strain dispensed by a recreational retail outfit, but Amsterdam’s Garden is in California. I don’t believe that pharmaceutical brands convey one iota of insight into the drug it’s named for (Philith was particularly bad, though a reliable birth control product if you think you might be thunder fucked by an Alaskan anytime soon), but that doesn’t give us permission to get stupid.

We need common sense nomenclature if we want to keep cannabis legal and help patients in the 25 states who still do not have access to medical marijuana. (Put that AK-47 in your pipe and smoke it.)

DC’s Medical Marijuana Program Statistics thru July

July Medical Marijuana Program StatisticsThe July Medical Marijuana Program Statistics are provided by DC’s Dept. of Health. You can see the the total number of patients registered, their gender and in which ward they live.  

July Medical Marijuana Program Statistics

3,915 patients and 31 caregivers have registered with DC’s Medical Marijuana Program since 2014, thus adding 97 new patients (and losing one caregiver) since last reported. The number of cultivation centers (7) and dispensaries (5) remain unchanged.

Statistical Insights for Marketers

For those of you in the biz, the greatest patient growth is in Ward 2; since the beginning of the year, registrations are up a whopping 37.5% (great news for you National Holistic Healing Center and Herbal Alternatives). Neighboring Ward 3 has seen an 11% uptick in registrants as well, but Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 saw between 6.67 – 9% fewer (net) card holders.

Here’s another insight if my math geeks are still with me. As of July 27, 63% of all registered patients are male. However, since the beginning of the year, female registrants are outpacing males by 70%.

You can view the two-page report here.

Free Advice: Don’t Walk Your Talk

I never liked the advice, “walk the talk”  — in other words, do what you say. It’s far more important to say what you do. So, today’s free advice: Talk the Walk.

If we can agree that “the walk” is your planned path to achieve business objectives, then “the talk” is everything you need to say in support of that effort.

If you find yourself posting content on your website that is not relevant to your strategy, you’re not only wasting your breath (and resources), but forecasting that your priorities are elsewhere. And that means you’re sending the wrong message.

Case in point: a medical marijuana dispensary in the District greets visitors to the website with this:

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Maybe it’s me (update: turns out it’s not), but when I’m investigating herbal solutions to treat a medical condition, the last thing I want to see is “MESS” spelled out in cannabis. The last thing I want to read is a 17-page policy paper. And the last thing I want to do is leave the dispensary’s site (no offense to the Brookings Institution).

It’s an innocent mistake, but a good lesson for all: Before you talk your walk, step into the shoes of your customer. Make sure your content and resources align with your business objectives.

Come out, come out whomever you are

I know a few things about “coming out”. Twice, as it turns out. I chose to come out as a lesbian when my father was diagnosed with cancer; then again, when recreational cannabis was legalized in the District. On both occasions, I wish I had the courage to come out sooner.

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Cannabis users need to come out of the closet too (4:20 seems obvious). You know who you are (you Mary Janes) — you are lawyers, librarians, C-suite executives, and (yes) doctors … you sit on the PTA and coach Little League … your day job is on K Street or Capitol Hill or one of the thousands of non-profits headquartered in DC (and beyond). Your friends (and you’ll discover that many of them use cannabis too) will not suddenly associate you with Jeff SpicoliLouis Gara, or even Jeffery “The Dude” Lebowski (though you should be so lucky). You won’t be defined by the plant you consume.

A lot of us came out in the 80s and 90s, because we had to — there was an epidemic and HIV patients were denied access to life-saving health care therapies. There was a call-to-action, gays courageously came out for the good of the movement, and death from AIDS-related complications were dramatically reduced thanks to the availability of drugs (I acknowledge the over-simplification). There’s an epidemic today too: prescription opioid addiction; and it burdens 1.9 million Americans who might benefit from medical marijuana (as reported recently in ScienceDaily).

And when we came out, our neighbors, co-workers, and family learned (some more slowly than others) that we were not defined by our same-sex affections (and today, gender identities). It took nearly 30 years, but in 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. By the time that same-sex marriage became legal nationally, public opinion on the subject had reached almost 60% approval levels. Public opinion for recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is also polling well:

Quinnipiac University has found that 54 percent of registered voters in the U.S. support legalization of adult use marijuana … 89 percent approved of medical marijuana legislation. (Source)

But we cannot sit on the sidelines and hope that the 25 remaining states legislate access to (at a minimum) medical marijuana or that the federal government will decriminalize its possession and use. We have to advocate. And it starts with coming out.

DC MMP Program Statistics as of July 5, 2016

Quick word about these statistics. The Government of the District of Columbia’s Department of Health publishes statistics on its Medical Marijuana Program, including but not limited to the the total number of patients registered. These patients are broken out by gender as well as ward.

As of July 5: 3,818 patients and 32 caregivers have registered with DC’s Medical Marijuana Program since 2014, thus adding 111 new patients and 3 caregivers since last reported. The number of cultivation centers (7) and dispensaries (5) remain unchanged.

You can find the latest statistics here.


Literally. I’ll be offline and on a big boat next week. Have a wonderful and safe Independence Day.

The “M” Word

The term “marijuana,” given its history and the nature of prohibition, is downright racist. I was surprised to learn why.

Venustiano Carranza (1859-1920) on 100 Pesos 1982 Banknote from Mexico. One of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution.

V. Carranza (1859-1920)

Marijuana is what prohibition supporters called cannabis as they sought to demonize its use and criminalize its consumers. Prior to that, usage of the word “cannabis” simply referred to the plant that was widely sold in U.S. pharmacies to treat insomnia, migraines and rheumatism; it’s therapeutic properties studied and hundreds of articles published in scientific journals. There is no known reference to the word marijuana/mariguana/marihuana prior to 1894, according to H.L. Mencken. So, what changed? How was it that cannabis was medicinal, but marijuana was “the devil’s weed”?

The politics of hate.

Marijuana became identified as the “devil’s weed” by early supporters of prohibition, and many Americans don’t know any other name for the cannabis plant. War refugees and political exiles of the Mexican Revolution (1910 – 1920) fled to the United States to escape its violence, purportedly taking with them their popular form of intoxication, what they termed “mariguana.” Upon arrival, they encountered anti-immigrant fears throughout the Southwest — prejudices that intensified after the Great Depression. This bigotry played a key role in instituting the first marijuana laws — aimed at placing social controls on the immigrant population. Being anti-marijuana was also a way to be anti-immigrant. It’s been a political football ever since (I will write about this at length later and draw parallels to Nixon, the civil rights movement, and the War on Drugs).

In 1937, Dr. William C. Woodward, the legislative counsel for the American Medical Association, opposed legislation to “raise revenue by imposing occupational and transfer taxes upon dealings in marihuana and to discourage the widespread use of the drug by smokers and drug addicts.” He testified:

“I use the word “Cannabis” in preference to the word “marihuana,” because cannabis is the correct term for describing the plant and its products. The term ‘marijhuana’ is a mongrel word that crept into this country over the Mexican border and has no general meaning, except as it relates to the use of Cannabis preparations for smoking . . . In other words, marihuana is not the correct term.”

I admit that I still use the “M” word from time to time — it’s ubiquitous, it’s nice to swap out for cannabis when I’ve used it 5 times in a paragraph, but I’ll try to be less lazy about it and more aware of its origins.

This DC woman teaches you how to legally grow weed in your home

Big shout out to Natalie Carver, co-founder of Buds Organic, DC’s first “cannabis consulting” company.

In an interview with VOX, Ms. Carver said, “People want to know where their food comes from. In the same strain [sic], people want to know where their weed comes from. As farmers, we can help with that.” Natalie manages the pot dens of about a dozen clients throughout DC [and] says her client base is rapidly expanding.

The Atlantic: In Praise of Women in the Cannabis Industry

So happy that I’m a proud member of this organization. Here’s an excerpt from the The Atlantic article:

Launched in 2014, [Women Grow] wants to help women both “influence and succeed in” the marijuana market as more states eliminate laws that make selling and smoking illegal. And it wants them to enter the market early, so that women have as much of a say as men about how the post-legalization landscape develops. In the past couple of years, its membership and reach have swelled to more than 30 chapters across the United States.