As America's knowledge about the plant grows, the range of subjects our Stoner handles has expanded. While most of the questions we received in previous years asked such things as how to roll a joint or if it's possible to boof marijuana (it is, but be careful), 2019 queries ventured into slightly more intellectual subjects, such as the recent vaping health crisis, or what the point of useless "indica" and "sativa" designations really is.
As we enter a new year full of unknown and new mysteries, here are five of our most interesting and popular Ask a Stoner questions from 2019:
Ask a Stoner: Should I Quit Vaping THC?
As vaping-related respiratory illnesses, hospitalizations and even deaths occurred across the country in 2019 — including in Colorado — readers became increasingly worried about the convenient and indiscreet THC vaping cartridges that have become so popular. As we pointed out to readers, we haven't heard of any hospitalizations related to vaping products sold at Colorado dispensaries (most hospitalizations are connected to black market products), but that didn't stop the state Marijuana Enforcement Division from banning vitamin E acetate (the chemical linked to many vaping illnesses in 2019) as well as other vaping chemicals.
Ask a Stoner: Tipping Budtenders
Not topical, but timeless. Am I supposed to tip a budtender? Reader response indicated the answer depends on the customer and level of services provided — a sentiment with which we agree. Digging through bins for the right gram of hash or answering question after question about edibles and sativa strains probably deserves a little extra. Laughing and saying "I mean..." after being asked for a strain recommendation does not.
Ask a Stoner: Can I Grow Hemp at Home Now?
Hemp farming was legalized at the federal level right before 2018 ended, leaving a bunch of cannabis lovers wondering: Can I grow hemp at home now? Unfortunately, the answer is still no, as the only federally allowed hemp growing must be on farms registered with their respective state's department of agriculture.
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But we live in Colorado, which tends to have different laws around cannabis than the rest of the country. Because voters here legalized recreational cannabis in 2012, Coloradans aged 21 and up can grow hemp plants as part of their six allowed cannabis plants in home-growing operations.
Ask a Stoner: Can I Smoke Hemp in Public?
This is another question that sprouted off hemp's federal legalization. Although it doesn't get users high because of the lack of THC, hemp has other non-intoxicating cannabinoids, mainly cannabidiol (CBD). People are now smoking hemp flower and concentrates for CBD's potentially therapeutic effects, leading head shops across the country and even Amazon to sell hemp buds for smoking.
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Is smoking hemp more like smoking tobacco, or smoking marijuana? Although smoking hemp is technically legal anywhere in the country, there's no way for a police officer to know that a person is consuming hemp rather than marijuana...other than maybe smoking it.
“Generally, if an officer has probable cause to believe someone is publicly consuming marijuana, he or she could ticket that individual on those grounds,” the Denver City Attorney’s Office explained earlier this year. “At this point, there isn’t a field test that could be deployed to determine, on the fly, whether or not the substance is hemp or marijuana. Officers and prosecutors have to enforce public consumption of marijuana laws nonetheless — they can’t pick and choose.”
Ask a Stoner: Stop With the "Indica, Sativa, Hybrid" Crap, Already
We agree with you, buddy. Indica, sativa and hybrid designations are largely bullshit when it comes to effects, smell and just about everything besides growing characteristics. Almost every strain sold on the commercial market is technically a hybrid, anyway, as pure indicas and sativas are pretty much exclusive to the regions where they grow naturally.
The way that certain strains make us feel individually comes down to their genetics and growing environment, and how the terpenes and cannabinoids they grow affect our endocannbinoid systems. We stopped using "indica" and "sativa" to label strains a while ago, but most dispensaries still use those tags to more easily direct consumers: Indicas are associated with nighttime use, and sativas are connected with energy and a running mind — but there are some who feel opposite effects.