Craft Cannabis Series: Colorado’s DuraBowl

In my cannabis travels, one of the most prominent themes I encounter is that of small craft businesses that fear the onslaught of large corporations during the current emergence of the American cannabis industry that is popularly labeled the “green rush.”

Often motivated almost entirely by profit—and with little true understanding of the cannabis plant or our culture—some fear that the megacorps will drive out the small players. The “mom and pop” shops, so to speak. 

Welcome to the first in a series of articles regarding the craft cannabis business in America in 2016. For this debut piece, an obvious candidate rose to the top of my list: Lauren Ely, the founder of DuraBowl

Craft Business Focus

Craft business lies at the heart of Americana. Millions of immigrants have come to this country to enjoy a way of life predicated on hard work, a competitive spirit, and the provision of quality and value to customers. It’s simply good karma. 

Wall St. profit mongering and mega-corporations may seem as “American” as Twitter, M&Ms, and the latest iPhone to the youth of today, but these social elements decidedly were not the goal of the founders of this nation. Ben Franklin is rolling in his grave—and that is not an intentional double entendre. 


The DuraBowl: All the hip kids know. (Credit: DuraBowl)

DuraBowl is one such small company. Based in Colorado and founded by Lauren Ely, a passionate advocate of freedom and human rights, this startup provides convenience, value, and practicality to its customers. 

I love being outside. Seems I’m either madly pumping my carbon fiber ballerina (bicycle) down a Texas highway to stay healthy or I’m stomping through shrubs and climbing sharp rocks to get that perfect sunset photo.

Regardless, I’m in love with the DuraBowl. Why? It simply works.

[The unit accommodates up to six grams of finely ground flowers, but concentrates can be added for a more medicated weekend. The solid ceramic construction means the DuraBowl is always cool to the touch. Allow the chamber to cool post-toke and replace the child-proof cap and you’re once again safely and securely on-the-go.]

Outside Medicine

When exploring the great outdoors, safely and conveniently storing and smoking cannabis is essential. Rainstorms happen (and are wonderful). However, smart stoners don’t take their heady glass when visiting the nation’s mountains, rivers, and beaches for good reason.


Inclusive philosophies—and the execution thereof. (Credit: DuraBowl)

What about those in newly legal states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington? Or the stalwart genesis state of all things quality cannabis: California?

Coincidentally, these areas offer a wealth of outdoor activities and support what are arguably the most vibrant tourism markets in the nation. However, dropping an $80 glass pipe onto a rock face in Boulder or off a cliffside in Santa Cruz isn’t the type of pyrex problem that puts a smile on the face of most pot smokers….

DuraBowl = Tough Kit

Enter DuraBowl. This unique product, produced in Colorado by a small startup company, is what my British toker mates would call “tough kit.” I personally cherish my DuraBowl because it embodies a creative solution to smoking on-the-go. It is this innovative spirit that is at the heart of great products that serve customers of today—not yesterday.    

Affordable, practical cannabis smoking products—made in America—aren’t necessarily easy to find. With so much low-quality stuff mindlessly and unethically stamped out in China, products aimed squarely at fans of the cannabis culture, that also put Americans to work at fair wages, are a very refreshing change.


In style at the cabin with the DuraBowl. (Credit: DuraBowl)

DuraBowl. It’s so simple. Maybe that’s the genius of it. But you don’t want to hear me wax lovingly about this affordable product. The words of Lauren Ely are much more impactful.

Lauren Ely, Founder/CEO DuraBowl

“I saw Ben Cohen, of Ben and Jerry’s fame, speak at the national convention in Vegas in 2014—I was so inspired. I hope to build a company known not only for its high-quality products, but also with a reputation for excellent ethics that gives back to the community.

“We have seen the result of profit at the expense of workers and the planet; it’s time to reverse that disastrous course.”

Q & A

The following Q&A was conducted with Lauren Ely, the founding CEO of DuraBowl, in May of 2016. I’ve met many greedy, shortsighted founders in the emerging cannabis industry; Ely isn’t one of them.

Toker tip: I have found a small 3/8″ screen to work perfectly in the DuraBowl.

Gooey Rabinski: “When did you decide to build a better pipe for cannabis consumers on-the-go?”

Lauren Ely: “This is something that most definitely evolved from my own experiences. I am a Gen Xer from the East Coast, so I grew up during the “Just Say No” years of prohibition. Not only was the brick weed terrible compared to Colorado kindbud, but the prevalence of paraphernalia was also limited.  


Leaves on the flowers of healing.

“There is a saying in the cannabis culture that if you give a stoner some weed, but no pipe, they will suddenly become MacGyver in terms of their ingenuity.

“In college, I remember smoking out of apples, tin foil, and aluminum cans. Not only does metal taste terrible, it is being linked to Alzheimer’s disease! I wanted a better solution. I have also shattered many a glass bowl while away from my carpeting. I was also tired of my pockets and purses lined in weed. So we solved these problems with DuraBowl.”

[Ed: As shown in the photos herein, the DuraBowl features a child-proof twist-lock lid that prevents herb from escaping during transport or storage.]

GR: “How did living in Colorado inspire the design of your durable pipe?”

LE: “Colorado is an incredibly outdoorsy state. The culture here revolves around being outside in many different ways. We’re known for our winter mountain sports, of course. In the summer, there is hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and tubing. Most Colorado people love being active!


DuraBowl: Part of one’s waterproof outdoor kit. (Credit: DuraBowl)

“For less physical culture, we have a great local music and comedy scene and our breweries are second to none. And, of course, even if you are just hanging out with buddies for a smoke sesh, the ease of transporting a loaded DuraBowl—or three—will make you a welcome and honored guest. Especially if it is filled with dank Colorado kindbud.

“I wanted something easily transportable to enjoy all the culture Colorado has to offer.”

GR: “Living in Austin, my house is 100 percent ceramic tile floors. I dropped the DuraBowl on the floor recently and was more concerned about the tile than your ceramic bowl. Fortunately, both survived my sloppiness….

“How important was achieving a reasonable price point so consumers can have two or three DuraBowls for a weekend of medicine and fun?”

LE: “Very important, not only for the purpose of having several you can load up and take out, but also because these pipes are brandable. I can brand with logos for companies (ask your local dispensary), but I can also do more fun branding.

“Holidays, festivals, jam bands…even personalized wedding pipes. We can do all of these things. So we wanted to achieve a price point that would allow our customers not only to have several for daily use, but as commemorative pieces as well.  

“The alcohol industry is doing this with wine labels now, so I wanted the cannabis aficionado to also have brandable, affordable item. It’s also a great price point for a small gift for the cannabis lover in your life. We are similarly priced to the larger, mass-produced bowls made in China. DuraBowl offers many more advantages, however.”


Respecting the plant and patients.

GR: “What does the future hold for DuraBowl?”

LE: “We are currently out-of-stock and about to produce our next run. We are a baby company, indeed. But we’re excited that we have gotten some really good reviews—as well as some helpful suggestions regarding how we can improve our product as we grow.

“I would definitely like to offer more design options for our consumers in terms of color, cap design, and different bore sizes—for both the novice and experienced smoker.

“We also are looking at adding some other products that fit with our mission, which is brandability and portability for the smoker on-the-go. Hopefully soon you will find the DuraBowl on the shelves of local dispensaries, head shops, and convenience stores that sell pipes.”

I got “lifted,” as my Austin-based CBD mentor Dr. Ed Martino would say, to write this article with some graciously accepted Northern California outdoor organic—stuffed in a DuraBowl while listening to vampire songs on Spotify.

It was pretty groovy. I encourage you to try it.

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a photographer, writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The KindSKUNK, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.


Being Legal

[Updated February 13, 2017]

Last year,  my friend and colleague, Paul Christopher in British Columbia, suggested that it might be time for me to move “up north” to take advantage of Canada’s liberal cannabis laws and a more enlightened culture.

After months of soul searchingly pondering my direction in early 2015—and seriously considering leaving the cannabis movement to return to corporate America—I made the decision to move the West Coast of the United States.

Location, location, location. The mantra of retail sales affects other areas of our lives, the most dominant being our residence. I’ve made no secret of my intention—and need—to relocate to a state in which cannabis is legal, culturally accepted, affordable, and readily available.

I recently joked in social media that an enticing role would be that of Editor-At-Large for a magazine, traveling the United States seeking out patient stories and gorgeous photos of everything cannabis.


The southern point of the Emerald Triangle.

In the end, we are all the Editor-At-Large of our own life. We have the option of pursuing adventures and taking risks, of venturing forth in the direction we are led by positive influences.

Risk. Vulnerability. It’s all frightening.

I’m scared. You’re scared. Unsanctioned authorities are always in our way, fighting compassion and the efforts to educate and re-legalize cannabis. It is a daunting struggle, our cannabis legalization gig.

Sometimes we have to sit down, introspect with humble intention, and make some decisions.

Mine has been to relocate to Northern California. I came this close to moving to Portland (and may ultimately end up there), but business opportunities in Humboldt County attracted me to this particular location.


Humboldt Bay in Eureka, California.

I don’t know enough about the cannabis plant. I don’t know enough about how it helps patients. And, when living in places like Austin or Cleveland, I can’t conduct face-to-face interviews with third generation family farmers or photograph their gardens.

In 2017, I’ve re-emerged in a more enlightened area of our great nation. I’m lucky; nothing was holding me back.

But I will dispense with some kind advice: Surround yourself with people of intelligence, enlightenment, compassion, and drive. Business colleagues and friends who lack these qualities will pull you down. Your goals are your own, but fellowship with likeminded others should be a very selective process (do not easily give your trust).

Postscript: I’ve been in Humboldt County now for six months. I haven’t posted much because I’ve been taking on new freelance clients and traveling (the Seattle Hempfest was educational). Watch for reports of my adventures from Twelve High Chicks,, CannaBiz Journal, and The Emerald Magazine.

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The KindSKUNK,, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads,  CannaBiz JournalWeed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and The Emerald Magazine.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Project Portland

I am beginning to focus on developing several series of articles regarding cannabis wellness and science, not just standalone pieces. This has two advantages: 1) It allows for the creation of smaller, more easily consumed articles while 2) simultaneously permitting readers to explore a specific sub-topic in greater detail, if they please.

In other words, presenting learning content in the form of an article series, including multimedia elements, is a more practical way of consuming educational materials. If our overarching, collective goal as a movement, culture, and emerging industry is to educate average voters in the real science and value of cannabis, we must make facts and opinions easy to consume and comprehend.


A cannabis legalization activist in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Our educational materials can’t require too much time or effort on the part of our target audiences, plain and simple. We must entice and reward, both intellectually and spiritually, those who question the efficacy of cannabis or its benefits to patients with PTSD, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, depression, anxiety, pain, and sleep disorders—among many other conditions.

Welcome to the first installment in one of these series: Project Portland.

Travelogues have never been my specialty. However, tens of millions of cannabis consumers across North America fantasize about living in a place where the cultivation, purchase, possession, and consumption of cannabis flowers, and derivatives thereof, are fully legal.


I’ll replace this image with one of my own. Nice vantage point.

There are a few places in the United States—if you’re a cannabis advocate, way too few—where consumers can enjoy these progressive liberties. The shortlist includes Seattle, Denver, Portland, and Anchorage.

Exploring Oregon

Readers deserve to see beyond media hype, aggressive marketing, and social stereotypes to know what it’s really like for a patient or regular cannabis consumer to live someplace like Portland.

Because good investigative journalism doesn’t come easily and I like a good challenge, I’ll be spending a week in Portland over the 4/20 High Holiday to check out Oregon’s largest city (what better time, eh?). Just for safe measure, I’ll also be traveling south to Eugene to check out some of the local gardens and personalities.

Portland is known for many things, including its support of craft businesses (think breweries, coffee shops, dispensaries, and new companies like Smuggle Portland). It is arguably best known as the most bicycle-friendly metropolis in the United States. To test this part (because life is about more than just cannabis), I’ll be taking my bike.


A backyard bush in Toronto, Canada.

Perhaps a more organic exploration of the city, via walking and cycling—while leaving the internal combustion engine car at home—is appropriate for the culture in Portland that embraces organic farming, cannabis medicine, the arts and music, and great food.

What Do You Want to Know?

Project Portland will be more impactful for all of us if you tell me what you want to know. Do you live in Ohio? Kentucky? Florida? Is prohibition weighing down on you like a 10-ton boulder—and making you wish lived in Boulder?

During 2016 and 2017, more than a dozen states will consider the legalization of cannabis for adult use. For the wave of legalization to continue, Americans must be educated in the real science of this plant and how it helps everyone, from terminal patients and those who need to survive current or previous abuse to those who simply need to mitigate stress.

We must, against all efforts of the U.S. federal government, throw off nearly a century of propaganda, misinformation, and fear mongering to achieve a more enlightened, science-based view of cannabis among the masses.


A home garden in the American Midwest.

So let’s all gain an education together. I’m suited up with a new camera and several mobile devices to help ensure that the photos and videos that accompany the words herein are as entertaining as they are educational.

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The KindSKUNK, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis for Performance Enhancement: Part 3

As promised, please find herein another episode of the intrepid adventures of a canna-cyclist who likes to get high and play in Texas traffic. That’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.

To catch up with the party, check these out:

Gooey Rabinski 

I have to admit, the efficacy of cannabis for exercise—be it of the endurance nature or just a quick ride around the block—proved itself to me on my last cycling adventure in a way I simply had not anticipated.

Mechanical Meltdown

I should have guessed that a particular sound meant a mechanical breakdown was imminent. But the distracting click came and went. And when it wasn’t present, I was a happy, ignorant pig in asphalt mug, ignoring reality while I tried to avoid a close encounter with a Ford F-150.


It no longer sits in the snow. #NotAustin

Not even two miles out, it happened. The manifestation of a mechanical meltdown. I was mired in merciless melancholy.

Actually, I was barely frustrated. In fact, I was slightly entertained.

I squinted at the evening sun as I considered pausing the Foo Fighters song on my iPod. Instead I elected to simply begin the awkward walk home. Those cleated cycling shoes are worthless off the bike (I deserve a prize).

Being late in the evening, with only about an hour of dusk left, I was out of commission for the day. I had screwed the pooch, as my U.S. Air Force-trained father would have said.

In a more wholly un-American move than I have pulled in several months, I was happy in the face of bad news. Instead of the ignorance-infused hate spewed by many eager candidates during this election season, I was going mad scientist Aussie and laughing at the crock.

It had been a stressful week. Disruption is often good and sometimes bad, but always stressful. I was in need of a beating on the bike. I had jonesed it for the duration of the day. As I finished my work, the anticipation of the ride continued to build, like some primitive lust for a harsh, familiar lover. (Meh, remind me to rewrite that….)


Master garden in Humboldt County, California (2006)

Normally an episode of this nature could elicit more than a few select—and decidedly crude—words from my otherwise PG-rated lexicon. But not this time.

Having consumed cannabis during my funky deep-toking breathing exercises prior to my ride, I was medicated enough to do no more than silently laugh as I walked my carbon fiber ballerina the 1.8 or so miles back to the house.

As traffic zipped past on the busy boulevard, I smiled at a cloudy, puckered sunset. I doubt I would have noticed it had I been madly pushing down the road, all bike parts fluidly co-mingling in the synchronous mesh I like to call “the shit works.”

I certainly wouldn’t have taken it in as I was at that time, my skinny dilapidated two-wheeler in tow and the very real prospect of a fairly pricey repair bill awaiting me (enough to purchase plenty of herb on the Austin black market).


The stuff that doesn’t always work….

Mechanical breakdowns, flats, and other maladies of the road are an inherent part of cycling. They’re actually a large slice of what make it special, if you can follow that twisted logic. A long ride lacking a breakdown or tire puncture is obviously always one for the win column.

“Suffering such problems is merely part of the risk. And maybe why I and a couple million other road cyclists get so excited about it.”

Performance = Rolling with the Punches

My breakdown was actually one of the best days of the cycling season. As ironic and mildly psychotic as that sounds, it’s true. I know my nature. I know how I typically respond to things.

If conservatives want to balk at my playing in traffic “high,” I’ll simply counter with the fact that I’m not the one popping pills and sucking down sugar and alcohol all day long as I text and check Facebook in rush hour traffic.

You think I don’t see the flasks, fries, and ADD-addled driving when I’m on the road?


Home grow in the American Midwest

I don’t believe cannabis is a drug; it’s an herb. Pot is no more a “drug” than the oak tree in my backyard. People need to use those slick smartphones for more than Twitter and sexting and research stuff every now and again.

But let’s assume cannabis is a drug. Ok, fine. My “drug” helps me deal with stressful situations with calm alertness, maturity, and rational confidence. Try that with booze or pharmaceutical drugs.

Pot doesn’t shut down my mind or perceptions. In fact, it heightens them. This is why some get paranoid, especially newbies who don’t have solid canna-mentors. With cannabis, regardless of the situation, I can retain my manners and respect for others. Unlike booze, I can maintain my personal dignity—even when the shit hits the fan.

Pot vs. Booze and Pharmies

I seem to recall friends and colleagues who took a variety of pharmaceutical drugs over the years telling me how they experienced disturbances in sleep or sex drive or became angry or depressed or experienced anal bleeding or any number of truly nasty symptoms. Anecdotally, it seems that well over half the time, the condition for which they were taking the drug never—or only temporarily—abated.

For those of you afflicted with TV commercials: If the narration must speed up by a factor of 2.5 to include the legal disclaimers for a drug commercial, you might wanna reconsider your wellness strategy.

Oh yeah, cannabis for performance enhancement. Now where was I?

Professional cyclists have gotten so pissed that they’ve thrown their bikes into the ditch. Anger is a nasty beast. The ability of cannabis to mitigate the anxiety resulting from mechanical breakdowns when on the road is…well, let’s say significant. At least in my experience.

Once such a lesson in calmly dealing with a crappy situation is experienced, and the benefits become apparent, the same intelligent strategy can be employed—with or without cannabis. Just because one learns a lesson when experiencing the mild (or not so mild) euphoria of THC is no reason they can’t remember it and live by it at all times—high or not.

Workday Benefits

Invaluable is the ability to roll with the punches and live with a happy memory—instead of the embarrassment of having blown a gasket (mine, not the bike’s).

If cannabis can do this during endurance exercise, what can it do during the workday? When caring for children? Reports say quite a few Americans—as in possibly 10 percent of the workforce!—consume cannabis before or during their workday.


Cannabis eased the pain of the brakes being applied to my ride

Are they gaining similar benefits to my experience? Are they not “going postal” on an unreasonable boss or an incessantly obnoxious co-worker because they’ve experienced the calming and sometimes positive intellectual effects of a good hybrid or sativa cannabis?

The cycling season in Austin began in mid-February. It will last until November. We all still have a lot to learn. There will be plenty more unanticipated pros—and possibly cons—of consuming cannabis with the goal of performance enhancement.

Stay tuned and subscribe so you don’t miss any future installments in the Cannabis for Performance Enhancement series.

Gooey Rabinski

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Cannabis CultureHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Exposing the Lies of Cannabis Prohibition

I’m having another challenging day.

Not drunk-throwing-whiskey-bottles-across-the-room challenging, but I’m sufficiently frustrated that it’s putting a dent in my mood. It’s nice that cannabis has the power to calm one’s mind, mitigate anxiety, and put us on a path to intelligent introspection that may lead to better decisions.


Era of final-stage pot prohibition.

Once again, I’m pissed off by cannabis prohibition. I was raised to approach life from a science-based perspective and to employ critical thinking and logic when assessing a situation.

You can see why people of this mindset might get a tad frustrated with the situation of cannabis being illegal in the United States. This is a situation that has pervaded for 80 years (as of August of this year).

Everyone has an opinion. I try to respect them all. But the chemistry of the human body is not an opinion. The behavior and nuances of neurons, cell walls, metabolites, endorphins, long-chain proteins, and endocannabinoids cannot be swayed by propaganda or corporate agendas.

Nearly each day, I communicate with very sick patients around North America. Many are so ill they cannot hold a job. Some scream out in pain over social media because they are relegated to prohibition regions where black market bingo is the only game in town. They either have poor medicine, cannot find cannabis, or simply can’t afford it.

As a result, many patients are financially constrained. In New Jersey, Chris Christie’s twisted example of a state medical cannabis program charges such patients $500-550 for an ounce of top-shelf cannabis medicine. Now that’s one for the WTF file….

What’s wrong with this picture? I could toss out dozens of other examples for why the seemingly science-fearing, anti-cannabis mindset (and behavior) of conservative forces in the United States hurts patients on a daily basis.


New Jersey governor Chris Christie. M&Ms aren’t his only problem (not my photo).

I honestly don’t want everyone in the world to think like me. I enjoy being unique, as should you. I’m not trying to convince prohibitionists that I’m right. I’m trying to convince the citizens who voted for them that their elected officials are hypocrites and propagandists.

I don’t see another way to oust the corrupt leaders whose actions prove they have no compassion whatsoever for society’s most frail citizens. We’d be fools to further tolerate their smoke and mirrors.

Could it be time for our smoke?

Unfortunately, dethroned politicians typically just slither back to their law firms and corporate consulting gigs—if they can resist the temptation of lobbying money. But the masses hold the power. General Motors and Toyota are nothing if no one purchases their vehicles. Johnson & Johnson will wither and die if nobody buys its bandages and toothbrushes.

Even a cursory overview of the hard research (as in human trials) reveals a strong efficacy of cannabis for patients. Conditions from cancer to anxiety to multiple sclerosis to dystonia can benefit from pot. As I’ve discussed in the past, this is simply because cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and THC-A are such powerful medicine for symptoms such as inflammation, nausea, and pain.

Cannabis advocates have the moral high ground. They have science.

The situation sometimes makes me think that, if we allow prohibition to continue longer, it’s our bad. I’m not suggesting violence or militant rebellion. But we need—as a culture, movement, and industry—to better communicate to the masses the science of cannabis and how it truly helps patients.

My parents don’t get it. Yours likely don’t. Despite our progress, the majority of the country is mired in ignorance that has spawned decades of suffering and billions of dollars wasted in a fruitless war on drugs begun more than 40 years ago.


Some beautiful homegrown plants from the American Midwest.

But don’t waste your time trying to convince the staunch conservatives and Luddites. It’s not worth it. Focus on the innocent—and often naive—citizens who elected them in the first place.

Make them smart, give them science, and touch their hearts.

Even conservatives and arguably most evangelicals are pissed off by patient suffering (the recent actions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints notwithstanding). Human compassion permeates political allegiances and programmed partisanship. Take advantage of their humanity and simply give them the information and examples that they need.

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.


The Power of Critical Thinking

Recently, I was feeling beaten. Battered. Tired of the game of cannabis prohibition, I was yearning for more progressive neighbors than I find in Central Texas.

Despite the trendy music and art culture and hipster neckbeards abundantly scattered throughout Austin, the fact that I’m a daily consumer of cannabis—but live in a prohibitionist state—was weighing on me.

And the real kicker: This is the case with the majority of cannabis consumers in America. Despite great progress in states like Oregon, California, and Washington, most patients and adult users are simply playing the same ol’ game of black market bingo, often with stiff penalties if they get caught.

Anger & Intelligence

Anger isn’t an intelligent emotion. It almost never improves a situation or is a recommended strategic interlude during one’s planning sessions. Like tens of millions of other cannabis advocates around the world, I was not happy.

I took my downtrodden, pathetic self and attacked the road on my bike (think carbon fiber, not Harley Davidson). It was a blatant and desperate effort to forge through the mental and emotional fog that was thwarting some of my best attempts to be productive and drop insightful words into articles.

Research is a big part of the jobs of writers. While finished articles, books, and courses are often sexy (stick with me, here), the research that enables their creation typically isn’t. From flakey Wikipedia entries to bad links buried in academic research papers, my days often aren’t worthy of entertaining discussion at the weekend barbeque.

With such a torrent of information passing through my eyes and ears, I’ll admit, standout pieces are rare. I sometimes just shut it all down and go spend time in nature or playing in traffic (cycling) in an effort to escape from the same tired memes and oversaturated article topics streaming through social media.

Then, one evening, after a restless post-ride sleep that, while physically refreshing, left me mentally frustrated and still full of angst, I found a burning bush.

The Burning Bush

I was trying to rationalize my state of mind. “Challenging days are good,” I thought to myself. “Hard days give you empathy for patients, like folks who can’t get out of bed or are relegated to a wheelchair,” I preached to my jaded mind.

I imagined what a traumatized sissy I was, waylaid by a single mildly confrontational day. I was able to physically get out of bed this morning. I was able to work. My fingers functioned on the keyboard. I was able to eat unassisted.

What the hell was I whining about?

I was angered by things like placid bureaucrats and unresponsive senators. Stories of families uprooted from conservative states such as Kentucky, Ohio, and Kansas to move to more enlightened areas, where they or their children can gain safe access to laboratory tested, high-quality cannabis medicine, were a big part of my negative feelings.

Regardless of how much Denis Leary or The Doors I listened to on Spotify in an effort to improve my mood, it just wasn’t working. Even my mad, sativa-pimped cycling adventure missed the mark (losing myself in riding is typically my break-glass-in-case-of-emergency move).

Then I came across a photo on Twitter of a middle aged man in the suburbs urinating in the gas tank of a car (he resembles my deceased grandfather, sans the beer).

Research. Politics. Botany. Psychology. Chemistry. It all became seemingly so absurd in light of a photograph of an adult peeing into the side of a late model Ford Taurus, replete with a can of what appears to be Budweiser precariously perched on the trunk (maybe the Photochop experts in my reader base can discern this detail).


And then something magically simple happened: The poster asked for feedback on a video he had put on YouTube.

You know what? It was one of the best damn videos I have watched in a long time. Was it the massive production budget? No. The amazing CGI effects? Um, not quite. The sexy cleavage heaving forth from a young blonde more intent on discussing her contrived opinion of rolling papers than the plight of sick patients?

No again. Thank effing god.

It was critical thinking. It was a young person brave enough to plug in his brain, use it, and speak truth to power—with his face on camera.

In a world enamored by a massive amount of shitty content, the good stuff sometimes seems oh-so-rare. Making it oh-so-fantastic when one finally trips across these golden nuggets of information.

Instead of me describing it further, why don’t you check it out for yourself? Watch it before you go to bed, and think about what you heard as you attempt to drift off. Especially if you’re getting to sleep with the pharmaceutical drug Ambien instead of a good cannabis indica.

How safe are the people who are being addicted to opiates by a medical establishment that places profits over patients?

The power of social media and mobile technology is creating a revolution in how information—and opinions—are expressed and shared. Don’t make my mistake and get so frustrated that you forget the power that resides in your keyboard or webcam.

All text Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Cannabis CultureHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His freelance work appears online at Green Flower Media, The Kind, Whaxy, and others.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis for Performance Enhancement: Part 2

In Part 1 of this series,  the topic of potential performance enhancement gained from the consumption of cannabis by folks indulging in exercise was discussed—specifically endurance athletes.

Can amateur or professional athletes really gain solid, measurable improvements in their performance via cannabis therapy? A lack of research prevents solid data from being presented to skeptics. However, disbelievers and prohibitionists have neglected or dispelled solid data for decades, so the availability of such metrics may not be the solution to convincing the unenlightened.

Gooey Rabinski 

I’ve been thinking quite a bit—especially when on the bike—about the bronchodilation effects of cannabis. I’ve earlier written about how I perceive cannabis, when used with intent and breathing exercises directly prior to exercise, to purposefully expand airways within the lungs and, thus, aid in respiration.

This, in turn, can result in a significantly better exercise session. For endurance athletes specifically, it allows them to push harder and achieve milestones with greater efficiency and speed. Which is kind of a big deal.


Some people balance their lives by hitting the road

One nice aspect of any form of exercise is that one can indulge at a minimal level, “taking it easy” on a run, ride, or swim. Likewise, one can push extremely hard, testing their limits. For those who like to push themselves, certain physiological results are typically predictable.

Burning Lungs

While all people are different (something very important to remember when considering the efficacy of any herb or medicine, including cannabis), most runners or cyclists can anticipate a certain set of results from a hard core endurance session.

During a session, these can include fatigue, shortness of breath, a runaway heart rate, and even dizziness, disorientation, or heat stroke—if one pushes things too far. These are symptoms that, especially for older individuals or those who are not in shape, are serious and should not be taken lightly.

When using cannabis to expand passageways in the lungs (via deep breathing exercises while smoking or vaporizing), I have noticed a decrease in the burning in my lungs that typically accompanies a hard ride and the accompanying rapid, intense breathing.

Pushing Hard

In situations where I want to push harder, like when I’m playing in traffic and racing cars off the line (fun is a serious part of a balanced life, no?), I find that I’m able to push harder and sustain a relatively higher level of effort. I can also sustain this greater level of effort for longer periods, it seems, than in the past.

I can simply exert, or achieve, a higher level of energy than when I wasn’t using cannabis with the intent of improving my performance. At least that is how it feels.

For the first time since I’ve purchased my current road bike, I’ve felt as if I am finally becoming in good enough shape to leverage the performance capabilities of this amazingly light road machine.

Some may label me a zealot, but I attribute much of this benefit—not experienced in years past when I was not using herbs with intent—to be derived from cannabis. The combination of a decrease in anxiety with the improved lung capacity delivered by THC is, to me, a winning combination.


A young toker in Toronto, Canada

Because I don’t feel the burn in my lungs and the overall signs that I’m pushing my system to the limits of its capacities, I’m able to push harder and enjoy the ride considerably more. I understand that skeptics might argue that I’ve simply dulled my senses and am not aware of the damage I’m doing to my various parts of my body.

Resuscitating Ride Recovery

However, if cannabis was simply masking my pain (pain management is one of its most powerful capabilities, after all), I’d pay the price during not only the second half of long rides, but also in recovery for the next day or two.

But I don’t. In fact, my recovery seems to progress faster than ever. Pro athletes who use cannabis are telling me the same thing. In fact, when asked the number one benefit of pot for elite athletes like themselves, they note improved recovery.

In some respects, especially after a long ride, I’m shocked that within just a few hours to think that I covered the distance I did or achieved a particular average speed. I don’t seem to suffer the punishment that I did in the past when riding hard and trying to attain a weekly mileage goal.

I had always considered a certain level of physical suffering to be part and parcel to the endurance exercise experience: We push hard, our bodies hurt, and we recover. Rinse, repeat the next day.

Now, however, I feel as if my cannabis-free riding years were plagued by unnecessary pain, minor injuries, and slow recoveries that could have been not only faster, but also more pleasant. Meaning I could have pushed harder on the following ride, improved my training, and achieved a feeling of success (obtaining goals, in all areas of life, is certainly psychologically healthy).

There are numerous benefits to a faster recovery for any athlete, from the most casual amateur to the best of the pros. It really comes down to a more enjoyable experience and the ability to safely get back on the road or trail or in the swimming pool for the next session.

An important side benefit for the average athlete: A more enjoyable experience is one that a person is more likely in which to again indulge. Nobody, but nobody, will argue with the fact that, within reason, more exercise is better than less exercise.


The gears that make it go

When using cannabis as an aid in recovery, many of the typical negative aspects of the beating to which I expose my body seemed to be significantly decreased—such as muscle soreness, injuries, low energy, and overall fatigue.

Also note that all of my observations are occurring at the beginning of this season of riding. I’ve been blessed with a nice climate in Central Texas, which allowed me to begin serious riding in mid-February. This is precisely why this is part of a series.

Take my testimony with a grain of salt now because of the launch of the season. Wait until July or August, however, to really see how things are going (subscribe to my blog and you won’t miss a single installment).

Preventing Injuries?

I spoke at length in Part 1 of this series about the way cannabis can reduce anxiety and, thus, improve one’s focus on their exercise. However, I also believe that this reduced anxiety may help aid in preventing injuries.

Stick with me here. When pushing hard on a bicycle or running in a pair of Nikes, our bodies are tense. They’re under load. If we are unnecessarily stiff, tense, or employing the wrong body position or form, the chances of causing or suffering an injury are objectively greater.

In my own riding, I have noticed that I am more easily able to position my body for the optimal riding position. Because my lungs are not burning, I can maintain that position for a longer period of time and exert more effort during the entire session.


A home garden in the American Midwest

Aches and pains that sometimes manifest themselves as minor injuries haven’t plagued me this season. That certainly doesn’t mean they won’t. So far,  a minor problem with my ankle and typically recurring  pain from a college knee injury have either disappeared or simply aren’t putting a dent in my performance.

That, quite frankly, has shocked me. It’s premature to attribute this preventative advantage to cannabis. It may simply be that I love the Central Texas air. Or maybe it’s lessons learned from past seasons that I’m unconsciously incorporating into my training that are producing a large portion of these positive pot perceptions.

The Psych Game

Most professional athletes will tell you that the main ingredient to success in competitive exercise is the right mental mindset. In other words, most of the secret sauce is in our heads (or not).

One element of the endurance exercise experience that is often neglected is an athlete’s emotions. Did they learn of a pending layoff at their company and are now worried about losing their job? Did they suspect that their spouse is having an affair? Have they encountered financial pressures? Are their children having difficulty in school or being bullied?

All of these factors can easily dull an exercise junkie’s edge during a session. If cannabis did nothing more than ease some of the stress that results in anxiety—which disrupts mental focus—it would be a wonderful supplement to one’s training diet and highly recommended.


Are we listening to our bodies? (Subject: guitar virtuoso Joe Rollin Porter)

Fortunately, cannabis also aids in reducing inflammation and pain, which is why pro athletes who use cannabis are telling me in interviews that they find the most efficacy from this herb in terms of aiding their recovery.

I’m curious to get the opinions of readers about the role of anxiety reduction in exercise. While most will probably focus on how cannabis can kill pain during or after strenuous exercise, I want to learn about how anxiety reduction aids riders or runners both physically and mentally.

Please Note

Please note that there’s no hard science behind my observations. They are purely anecdotal and very subjective. This isn’t a double-blind placebo-based human trials study being conducted by a reputable academic institution.

Also keep in mind that your proverbial mileage not only may vary from mine, it will. In fact, some folks just aren’t cut out for endurance exercise at all—like I’m not cut out for chess or cooking you dinner. We all have our things, and if exercise isn’t yours, the entire topic of performance enhancement from cannabis may be moot in your world.

However, those who do gain benefits will do so in sometimes markedly different ways.

And, just think: If cannabis can provide these types of fine-tuning results for endurance athletes, what could it do for you? Could it help your mental focus on the job? Could it help you be a better parent? A better student or volunteer?

Which begs the question: Does relieving pain, anxiety, and depression aid in performance? This one seems easy: Undoubtedly. I simply don’t need a research study to embrace this viewpoint. And neither should Congress.

How have you noticed cannabis helping your performance? Let me know in the comments below. 

— Gooey Rabinski

I’m curious to get the opinions of readers about the role of anxiety reduction in exercise. While most will probably focus on how cannabis can kill pain during or after exercise, I want to learn about how anxiety reduction aids riders or runners both psychologically and mentally.

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis for Performance Enhancement: Part 1

As promised, I’ve decided to at least attempt to document some of the experimentation I’ve been doing with cannabis in terms of performance enhancement. In my particular case, I have been using it to enhance and improve my road cycling.

I enjoy endurance cycling, but will attempt in this series to avoid boastful mileage claims and all the competition-fueled ego fluff that too often accompanies social media updates and even friendly conversations with amateur athletes (we all know one; it’s why Facebook’s Unfollow feature was invented).

We also all indulge in particular hobbies, be they athletic in nature or not, because of passion and true interest. It’s our precious free time, so we better do something we damn well please, right? If your thing is chess, that’s cool. But you’re probably reading the wrong article….


The chain and gears that help the rubber challenge the road. My bike in cleaner days.

However, I’ll attempt to spare selling you on my passion for cycling. It’s just something that works for me and many others, but it’s not a miracle for everybody. Nor do most sane humans want to spend this much on a pile of carbon fiber, snappy racing colors, and purpose-driven electronics.

I will, however, constantly encourage readers to exercise. An enlightened friend once turned me onto an interesting theory: 20 minutes of exercise, three times per week—if it raises your heart rate enough—will give you the majority of the health benefits of exercise.

You simply don’t need to head out for 16 miles of running or 50 miles of cycling. Efforts that are much more reasonable and practical in terms of time and effort can give you all the health you need.

Cannabis, I believe, can help. Even if it does nothing more than break a spell of anxiety or depression that had previously kept you away from the track, trail, or pool. However, cannabis is only part of a holistic approach to wellness and health. Exercise and a clean, science-based diet are just as important. I’m told meditation and yoga don’t hurt, either.

The few pro athletes I’ve spoken with have indicated that cannabis is very impressive in aiding their recovery from training and long endurance sessions. This is something I have noticed personally and will explore more in future articles in this series.

Breathing: Considering Bronchodilation

Any runner, cyclist, or swimmer is naturally concerned with the capacity of their respiratory system. The efficiency of their lungs and heart is critical to performance and reaching training goals.

Despite his controversy, a big part of Lance Armstrong’s success wasn’t just his venting of anger toward his father (his admission, not my observation), but also because of his significantly above average respiratory and cardiovascular capacity (his heart and lungs are simply larger and more efficient than many of his peers).

Personally, I have been using cannabis directly before a ride in combination with breathing exercises. I take very slow, long, deep tokes, getting the smoke or vapor as deep within my lungs as possible. If you’re using the good stuff and it was actually cured, this won’t be a problem (another reason to support legal, regulated dispensaries).

Herer demonstrating his pipe at a trade show in San Francisco

Jack Herer in San Francisco in 2006.

Because THC acts as a bronchodilator (read my asthma article for MassRoots for more info), it means that pulling smoke or vapor that is rich in this special psychoactive cannabinoid as deep as possible within the lungs serves to open passageways and increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of these critical organs.

I have been both medicating pre-ride by smoking flowers and mid-ride via use of my handy Puffco Pro vape pen. It handles only concentrates, which is perfect. I desire to stop for a relatively short period and arouse no suspicion of my true activities with the smell of burning flowers (I’m riding in Texas, after all).

The Psychology of Fear

It’s easy to get scared of training. There’s pain and a need for an almost constant push. It’s intense, and I can easily understand why some don’t want to participate in this game of racing the clock (or, for some, other humans).

I’ve found that this fear can be debilitating when it comes to good performance. The consumption of good cannabis, however—especially a top-shelf sativa variety—can reduce or almost eliminate this fear. At least for me.

After medicating with cannabis, I felt no trepidation whatsoever about my training. Now, this may be due to the sativa-dom strains that I prefer, which are naturally energizing (obviously good for endurance exercise). Cannabis caused my mind to calm to the point that I’m able to block any outside stress that might result in anxiety that would distract me from my ride. And, in the process, distract me from pushing as hard as possible and improving.


A backyard bush near downtown Toronto.

We all have too much drama in our lives. Crude bosses, ex lovers, children, pets, daily commutes, and finances can all suck away much of our best energy. This is energy that’s desperately needed during endurance exercise. Or any exercise, in my humble opinion.

I’ve always believed in the power of focus. Cannabis simply allows me to better focus on my ride. The anxiety of my next article deadline or the topic of my next book or how well my daughters are doing in school fades to issues with which I will deal after I get off the bike.

As one of my old corporate clients used to post in their conference rooms: Be Here Now. Cannabis helps many—including me—do exactly that.

Unless it’s a critical analysis or sorting things out in terms of strategy, what can I really do for the other areas of my life when I’m on the bike anyway? I ride to improve my career, health, and interpersonal relationships. Why would I want to allow these very things to, ironically, put a dent in the effort designed to improve them?

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

This said, I do want to emphasize that the total elimination of fear during endurance exercise isn’t wise. I have no choice but to play in traffic when I go riding. I live in the suburbs, not the country. I often ride to the country, but I must pass thru some heavily congested traffic arteries to do it.

Also, a full elimination of fear may result in over-indulgence in strenuous exercise, which may produce injury, unnecessary fatigue, and a prolonged recovery period. Overtraining is one of the most common and harmful potential aspects of competitive exercise.

If I drop my alertness for one second in the middle of rush hour traffic, I could literally be wiped out by a 4,000 pound vehicle. Those furniture vans cruising down the state highway at 65 MPH aren’t exactly my idea of sexy bedmates.


Know when to put the brakes on smoking + exercise.

Thus, a heavy indica, with a narcotic effect, would not be recommended for this type of activity. Also, getting extremely high is not on the recommended list. Know your limits; use intelligence. Don’t ever venture into uncharted territory with cannabis flowers or concentrates—in terms of potency—and then go out and indulge in endurance exercise.

Always be very familiar with the medicine you are consuming before or during exercise, especially if you are out and about in society and not just sitting at home on an exercise bike or a stair climber.

I realize that the majority of the cannabis consumers in the United States are in areas where the possession or consumption of pot is illegal. Relegated to black market bingo, sometimes a heavy indica is all you can get. If you’re lucky enough to get anything at all.

Thus, what I’m doing isn’t practical for all. You might not have Maui Waui or another nice sativa-dom to get your motor running before a long run or ride. You might not have access to concentrates like the BHO I’m putting in my Puffco Pro.

But if, just if, you can get decent cannabis, I believe you can improve your performance with mindful use with intent. That, plus a little knowledge of how THC works to expand your bronchial passages.

It works for asthmatics. Why not cyclists and runners?

I realize I’m going to attract plenty of glares and a few arrows from those in the cycling and running communities, especially cyclists in more conservative areas of North America.  To those of you who think cycling is akin to golf in terms of physical exertion, um…no.

To those who are hardcore endurance athletes and are offended by the idea of even considering the use of cannabis for performance enhancement, I say wake up and smell the coffee. Drop some science on yourself. There just might be something to this.

Don’t forget to add your comments to this piece. I’m interested in how others are using cannabis for wellness, mental focus, and a healthy, fast recovery after a long ride or run.

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Addressing the Cannabis Skeptics

Skeptics wonder how cannabis can be so effective against such a wide variety of conditions. It’s simple: It is very good at mimicking the body’s own internally produced medical molecules, chemicals called endocannabinoids.

Because modern life and its pollution, lack of exercise, and highly processed foods often result in very poor diet, humans are typically deficient in these molecules. Recent science has revealed that such a problem, called endocannabinoid deficiency, results in a lack of homeostasis within the human body.

It is theorized by some intelligent researchers that this lack of homeostasis may be the root of literally hundreds of conditions. This imbalance, because it involves the central nervous system and immune system, can result in diseases as wide ranging as multiple sclerosis, asthma, strokes, and epilepsy.

Because so many conditions involve inflammation, pain, and nausea, cannabis is simply very effective in treating them. It should be noted that this herb is not always able to treat the core disease or condition that ails a patient, but it typically is an excellent way of decreasing negative symptoms.

One Research Example

Back to the science of cannabis: A 2013 human trial study in Israel revealed that 45% of participants with Crohn’s disease, a potentially fatal form of Irritable Bowel Disease, experienced a full remission of their disease after only eight weeks (they consumed high-grade cannabis containing 23% THC). All subjects were patients who had tried conventional pharmaceutical drugs, but had experienced no relief from their disease or its symptoms.


CBD oil can  help children with untreatable epilepsy avoid seizures

This is just one of literally hundreds of examples of research studies that either hint toward or prove the efficacy of cannabis. However, “proof” in the world of science means repeatable results.

With the U.S. government opposing cannabis research that extends beyond petri dishes and test tubes due to the Schedule I status of cannabis, such research won’t be occurring in the United States anytime soon.

If you’re offended by this, let your representative or senator know.

How have you benefited from integrating cannabis into your wellness therapy? How does it help you psychologically, emotionally, and physically? Have you been able to reduce or avoid opiates and other conventional pharmaceutical treatments by substituting cannabis?

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, MERRY JANE,, Emerald Magazine, CannaBiz JourbnalCannabis Culture, Twelve High ChicksHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Flower MediaGreen Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

LDS Church: Failing on Cannabis, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, LDS Church: Failing on Cannabis, the topic of the opposition of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based in Salt Lake City, to the legalization of medical cannabis in the state of Utah was introduced.

It is strongly suggested that readers check out this introductory article prior to reading the piece below.

Who Deserves Help?

Concerning the topic of medical cannabis, is a four-year-old girl with epilepsy somehow less deserving of relief than a 68-year-old diabetic who the Church would encourage to take her pharmaceutical drugs to maintain her health?

How can Church leaders live with themselves or sleep at night, knowing they have deprived patients so sick that mobility requires a wheelchair? Many of these patients cannot speak or even care for themselves. Given scientific and anecdotal evidence, how can the Church justify its stance?


What if this was your daughter and she had late-stage cancer?

Are life’s most unfortunate participants, many of whom are members of the LDS Church, getting the cold shoulder from an organization that claims to be a messenger of god’s love, yet vocally opposes their ability to simply grow plants or treat themselves?

I honestly do not care about a person’s religion if they are hurting and in need of relief to live their daily life. The Church, if it truly has compassion for not only its own members, but all of what it labels god’s children—if it is really compassionate and trying to live the preachings of Jesus Christ—will drop its opposition to SB73.

Unfortunately, I fear that this centuries-old organization, despite all its wealth and influence, lacks the courage to make the right decision. The Church has obviously prioritized its fear of political repercussions and shrinking congregations over the welfare of its millions of members and doing what is right.


An illegal outdoor home garden in the Midwest, the land of prohibition

The Church’s opposition is not only confusing to those who base their critical thinking on logic and science, but also frustrating. How can a religion that claims to love all of god’s children not allow society’s most sick and frail to consume cannabis, including THC, for the treatment of literally hundreds of diseases and ailments?

Any excuse for the Church’s behavior falls short. It’s 2016; let’s stop acting as if it is 1682 and we didn’t walk on the moon 47 years ago. Church leaders all have a supercomputer in their pocket called a smartphone. I recommend they use this gift of science and technology to do some research.

LDS Church: You can do better. And, by any objective metric, you are sinning in the most paramount of ways if you do not. But I didn’t make those rules.

You did.

Politics as Usual

The Church’s announcement had the immediate ripple effect of convincing two senators to drop their support of the bill.

Are Church leaders too busy praying for a miracle to a member’s disease that they ignore the hard numbers and factual data? In their belief system, god has provided this plant, this herbal medicine, for people to utilize to their betterment. Yet the Church prefers the mystery of prayer to the hard science of cannabinoids and terpenes?

Church Leaders: There’s a special label for people and organizations that do what you do. I don’t write that type of material, but the label still pertains. When will you stop denying the facts?

One Research Example

Back to the science of cannabis: A 2013 human trial study in Israel revealed that 45% of participants with Crohn’s disease, a potentially fatal form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), experienced a full remission of their disease after only eight weeks (they consumed high-grade cannabis containing 23% THC). All subjects were patients who had tried conventional pharmaceutical drugs, but had experienced no relief from their disease or its symptoms.

This is just one of literally hundreds of examples of research studies that either hint at or prove the efficacy of cannabis. However, “proof” in the world of science means repeatable results. With the U.S. government opposing cannabis research that extends beyond petri dishes and test tubes due to the Schedule I status of cannabis, such research won’t be occurring in the United States anytime soon.

I recently tuned into the LDS Church’s Twitter page. The most recent tweet at the time offered the hashtag #LoveOneAnother and the image below:


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; photo by LDS Church

This is all fine and good. Nice PR campaign. How is this helping Church members? How can these words—when viewed against the stark shadow of the Church’s opposition to medical cannabis—be perceived as sincere or heartfelt?

I’m not a militant activist. In fact, I don’t consider myself an activist whatsoever. I’m simply a patient advocate who believes in the science behind cannabinoids, terpenes, and the entourage effect. Why won’t powerful, influential organizations like the Church and Congress join me in a science-based approach?

Addressing the Skeptics

Skeptics wonder how cannabis can be so effective against such a wide variety of conditions. It’s simple: It is really good at mimicking the body’s own internally produced medical molecules, chemicals called endocannabinoids.

Because modern life and its pollution, lack of exercise, and highly processed foods often result in very poor diet, humans are typically deficient in these molecules. Recent science has revealed that such a problem, called endocannabinoid deficiency, results in a lack of homeostasis within the human body.

It is theorized by some very intelligent researchers that this lack of homeostasis may be the root of literally hundreds of conditions. This imbalance, because it involves the central nervous system and immune system, can result in diseases as wide ranging as multiple sclerosis, asthma, strokes, and epilepsy.

Because so many conditions involve inflammation, pain, and nausea, cannabis is simply very effective in treating them. It should be noted that cannabis is not always effective at treating the core disease or condition that ails a patient, but it typically is an excellent way of decreasing negative symptoms.


LDS Church: You would deprive her of medicine? Really?

In addition, cannabis can help patients replace opiate drugs and other pharmaceutical treatments that may result in negative side effects such as inflammation and pain.

So what say you, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Are you confident enough in your stance to debate the issue and defend yourself? Are you truly doing god’s work and representing the preaching of Jesus Christ?

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis for Performance Enhancement?

I’ve been increasingly thinking about cannabis and its role in our lives. How do we use it—and why? Are intent and motive important when one is consuming marijuana? Are those who simply want to escape reality losing out on the full spectrum of benefits offered by this wellness herb?

The topic of intent, as in “using cannabis with intent,” is deep and detailed. It involves mindfulness and is regularly practiced by many cannabis users who also indulge in meditation, yoga, and endurance exercise.


A big, beautiful outdoor cannabis plant in Toronto

Those who view cannabis as a simple opportunity to escape from reality, relegating it to a mere euphoriant, may be missing out. Why? Put simply, cannabis—whether the user is aware or not—is increasingly proving itself to be a tool for use with the intent of homeostasis, or balance, within humans—including our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Homeostasis = Performance Enhancement

If you’re still with me, isn’t it reasonable to assume that a balanced or homeostatic mind/body/spirit is one that is more likely to be optimized and that may result in the enhancement of performance for a wide variety of tasks?

Could not everything from software development and public speaking to parenting and competitive cycling benefit from reasonable daily dosing of this cannabinoid-rich vegetable? When we strip away the decades of stigma, propaganda, and tremendous ignorance, we learn that cannabis has a special relationship to the human body (as proven by numerous research studies and thousands of patient testimonials).

Unfortunately, a significant chunk of North Americans perceives this natural “tonic” to completely lack medical efficacy. Of course, the herb’s Schedule I status under the U.S. government’s Controlled Substances Act, where it cosies up beside truly harsh drugs like heroin and bath salts, doesn’t help.

More progressive thinkers who believe cannabis does nothing more than get one “high” or give cancer and AIDS patients an appetite are also not seeing the big picture.

Enduring Stigma & Endurance Exercise

During my childhood, I basked in the shadow of competitive road cycling. Instead of fantasizing about being an NFL quarterback or G.I. Joe, I imagined racing with the peloton in California or France.

I remember when I was about eight or 10 years old, watching as my father walked through a crowd of hundreds of very capable cyclists prior to a beautiful spring tour in the Midwest during the late 1970s.


Part of the road bike I ride—now after consuming cannabis with intent

With his special shoes clacking against the pavement, he walked through the crowd, perusing his cycling peers with caution and muted excitement in anticipation of the following two days of hard riding. The eager athletes awaiting the launch of their tour would cover 200+ miles in the following 36 hours of spinning—if they were lucky. (Some ultra-competitive top riders would suck down the entire distance in a single impressive day.)

Of course, back then, more than 30 years ago, the bike frames were heavy steel and names like Schwinn Paramount dominated the field (my dad’s was orange). Disc brakes on road bikes were unimagined, pedals featuring primitive toe cages were the standard, and bike computers like my Garmin GPS—replete with touchscreen, altimeter, and thermometer—were virtually unimaginable (the stuff of Star Trek).

Also Unimaginable

Of course, consuming cannabis for performance enhancement was also unimaginable back then. Unfortunately, it remains so today for most citizens, even for many who, ironically, smoke, vaporize, or eat cannabis on a daily basis. Nearly a century of prohibitionist rhetoric and misinformation doesn’t dissipate overnight.

Most competitive amateur athletes, like their non-athletic peers, don’t understand the potential improvement they could experience in their training and daily lives if they simply adopted moderate use of cannabis—again, with intent.


A happy toker at the Hot Box Cafe in Toronto

The warming weather in Central Texas this year invited me to begin my cycling season a bit earlier than I anticipated. Like many occasions in the past, I consumed cannabis prior to my ride. This time, however, I did so with the intent of improving both my performance and also my appreciation of the experience.

An Exercise of Intent

About 2.5 minutes after my first toke of some sativa Maui Waui—as the THC molecules and terpenes lodged themselves in the CB1 and CB2 receptors of my brain, central nervous system, and immune system (basically my entire body)—I began to feel that common euphoria that wipes away anxiety and worry.

Mitigating and hopefully alleviating anxiety is a key step for many cannabis consumers and athletes who wish to optimize their approach to and appreciation for life.  Or endurance exercise. Is not a more balanced, patient, and calm attitude toward life good for all pursuits, including endurance exercise?

I tried to harness the psychoactive effect of the THC to visualize my own humility. I wanted to know not so much what I could accomplish on the ride, but rather what I could learn. I desired to engage with the smoothly rolling machine below me in a more harmonious, efficient, and fluid manner.

I’ll never compete in the Olympics or turn in impressive tour times, even in my age group. I simply wanted to maximize my potential, regardless of how humble those numbers being stored in the flash memory of my cycling computer might actually be.


A cannabis activist in Hamilton, Ontario around 2007

When inhaling the smoke, I intentionally did so slowly and deeply, but manually carbed it to complete the toke with a cap of clean air, in an effort to push the column of cannabis smoke deep within my lungs. Then, instead of holding it (like so many innocent but misdirected tokers), I gently and slowly released the air, exhaling as much as possible. All in one continuous action.

Athletes: #ComingOutGreen

Civilized recently published an article entitled “How Cannabis Helps This Ultra-Marathoner Race 100 Miles at a Time.” The piece regarded promising distance runner Avery Collins, a young man who is a great example of #ComingOutGreen and one of the top ultra-marathoners in North America.

Collins, a 23-year-old uber-athlete from Jacksonville, North Carolina, has balls of brass—especially considering that he lives in the thick of Prohibition Land. He has admitted his pre-race cannabis consumption habit to major media outlets like the Wall Street Journal.

Collins said he typically consumes before his almost unimaginably long runs, ingesting THC that is either infused into edibles or in the form of 20-50 mg extracted concentrate capsules. Unlike me, he purposefully avoids smoking.

Smart guy. I should vape more and smoke less. But I do take a vape pen on my long journeys for a mid-ride tune-up.

In addition, this young athlete uses cannabis in his post-run recovery (not a small issue, as one might imagine, for those running such a distance). Collins has also successfully used pot topicals to treat injuries and dramatically reduce his recovery time.


The gears that make it happen; are yours moving smoothly?

“It sets the mind free,” Collins told Civilized in January. Illustrating the ability of cannabis to help one focus, regardless of the task, he said, “You don’t think about anything but what’s currently going on.” Collins added, “It makes the greens greener and the blues bluer—but it’s much more than that. It makes the run very spiritual.”

Hidden Benefits?

Spiritual. Interesting choice of words for a 23-year-old.

What is your self-image as a cannabis consumer? Do you consider it a performance enhancer? If you’ve never used pot in this manner, do you believe it has the potential to enhance or improve not only one’s physical and athletic performance, but also their mental functioning and spiritual awareness?

Do you believe that cannabis can allow a person to tap into his or her inner spirituality to gain an edge over either their competition or simply to improve on their PB (personal best)? If such benefits are enjoyed by ultra-marathoners, why not all runners? Could not golfers and tennis players also gain an edge?

What about your boss who loves racquetball, or your neighbor down the street who is into kickboxing two or three times each week? If pro athletes can gain such efficacy from cannabis, does it not go to reason that that the rest of us are missing out if we don’t apply this complex herb to our lives in a similar manner?

They Must be Educated

Unfortunately, nearly half the nation denies the wellness and lifestyle enhancement capabilities of cannabis (more voters are in favor of medical cannabis than adult use, which the media typically refers to as “recreational” consumption).

I always imagined myself as a “recreational” consumer. For years, I perceived myself to be smoking, vaping, or eating cannabis simply for euphoria and enjoyment. Rather than envisioning it enhancing my performance, I bought into the prohibitionist lie that I was screwing around, intoxicating myself, and necessarily blowing off work.


How do you look at the world? How do you use cannabis?

Should we all change the  conceptual framework from which we approach cannabis and its integration into our daily lives? Should we focus more on our intent with this plant to optimize our performance and better accomplish goals as we strive to achieve homeostasis?

As Collins told Civilized earlier this year, “I’m educating people on the simple fact that cannabis can be used in a positive way, as opposed to just getting high and sitting on the couch.”

Actually Using with Intent

Well said. Now let’s just hope conservative forces don’t lock up this world-class athlete for having the bravery to admit not only his use of pot, but to preach the rational performance benefits of a cannabis-centric lifestyle to major media outlets.

The next time you are stressed out and feeling like getting “high” to escape the world, consider instead the power of this plant to reduce your anxiety, depression, pain, or merely crappy attitude enough to allow you to at least try to give the day your best effort.

How do you use cannabis? Is it ever with intent? Do you complement yoga or exercise with the kind herb? Let me know in the comments below.

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Toking: You’re Doing It Wrong

Knowledge is power and ignorance is decidedly not bliss. The science of toking may surprise you. Most of the country is doing it wrong (Hollywood proves it on a daily basis).


A young cannabis fan in Southwestern Ohio, circa 2006

In a nutshell: You’re probably screwing up this toking thing.

I know…you’ve been smoking for years. Maybe decades. How could you be not doing it correctly? Please, Mr. Rabinski; you’re pushing my patience on this particular point, toker science dude.

We’ve All Been Wrong

But I can’t take the guilt. I have to come out of the closet. I’ve also been doing it wrong. In fact, most of us have been doing it wrong. You probably are. Your neighbor likely is. Your cousin’s sister-in-law, or that dork with the bad haircut at the office? For damn sure.

I posed a question to Dr. Aggarwal: Millions of cannabis consumers, when they smoke or vape, retain, or hold in, their inhale for several seconds—sometimes as long as they can, especially with an overflowing lung packed with smoke or vapor. Unfortunately, this is a topic where beloved and missed hemp hero Jack Herer was wrong.

Holding one’s breath with smoke that contains tars and carcinogens is simply not helpful. In fact, modern cannabis science (not available back in the 1970s to ’90s, when Jack did the core of his work) has revealed that it’s harmful.


A cannabis user at the Hotbox Cafe in Toronto, circa 2007

Oxygen Deprivation

While the cannabis vapor contains no tars or carcinogens (it is mostly cannabinoids, particularly THC), holding your inhale does nothing more than deprive your brain of oxygen (decidedly not a good thing for those of you wondering).

Damn. I hate doing things the wrong way. I feel like I’ve been duped by an ignorant underground produced by prohibition.

When I first consumed cannabis at the age of 14 behind the garage of a school buddy (now a conservative pastor in the Midwest with a dedicated flock; ahhh, the ironies of life), it was drawing on a duck tail joint that either he or one of his bad sheep cousins had rolled.

And what did he tell me? “Pull it in and hold your breath.” It was the beginning of a couple of hundred thousand misdirected inhales.

But I didn’t need him to tell me. Cheech & Chong and countless Hollywood memes made things perfectly clear: Hold your breath or you won’t get the most from your precious, expensive, and all-too-often difficult-to-find herbal medicine.


Almost Immediate THC Absorption

First, absorption of cannabinoids and terpenes within the lungs is basically immediate. Like a few milliseconds. I wouldn’t BS you. Dr. Aggarwal is one of the foremost cannabis medical experts in the world and actually went to medical school and got a Ph.D. and tons of challenging things you and I did not. It’s why I like to talk to him.


Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., lecturing at the Cannabis Health Summit, Jan. 23, 2016

For the second part of how we’re all doing the inhalation of our cannabis smoke and vapor wrong, stay tuned and subscribe to this blog.

And while you’re at it, learn more than the prohibitionists and Luddites who you dislike telling you what to do—or what not to do. They aren’t going to give up easily. In fact, I don’t think people like Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush will ever give up….

This is a culture war, so gear up.

[For my full article on this topic, click here.]

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, MERRY JANE,, CannaBiz Journal, Emerald MagazineSKUNK, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, Twelve High Chicks, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.


Thoughts on Suicide

I began thinking about the topic of suicide in the summer of 2008. It was involuntary; the disabled father of a close, lifelong friend shot and killed himself on Father’s Day.

His father’s OCD was great enough that he ensured that there would be no mess in his home resulting from the nefarious co-mingling of a bullet and his body. I recall standing in the living room where he had performed the act only days before, noting the perfectly placed slippers by the easy chair in front of the TV—the slippers that would never again be used by their original owner.


The discovering officers noted how meticulous and clean this person had been in the execution of his own death. The leather-bound volumes of Arthur Conan Doyle and a small collection of Tony Bennett CDs remained on the bookshelf, unaware of his passage.

Embracing the Challenge

Topics such as suicide are emotionally challenging. However, if we can’t talk about reality, what kind of progress are we really going to make toward preventing the type of severe depression that results in this harmful behavior? If we ignore things simply because they are ugly, how are  we going to help patients with any affliction, let alone depression or chronic anxiety?

Years later, in 2013, an old friend was struggling with the recent loss of his parents, substance abuse, and the prospect of rapidly deteriorating health and energy levels. A few years older than me, he joked “If I don’t win the lottery by then, it’s a 44 at 55” as he physically interpreted the trademark meme of thumb cocked beside extended index and middle finger pointed at his temple.


Yes, he was half joking. And yes, he suffers anxiety, depression, and the hopelessness that sometimes results from them. His parents are gone, his friends have lives that he perceives to be better and more productive than his, and his career is in jeopardy after a layoff having nothing to do with his performance (and everything to do with shortsighted budgeting on the part of his employer).

In 2014, another friend, who was struggling after an ugly divorce and custody issues with her children, informed me that she had considered the route of ending her life. She believed it might just make everything better, not only for her, but also for those around her (she doesn’t have a big ego and isn’t overly self-serving).

In both 2014 and 2015, another friend, a disabled retiree who was prescribed a litany of pharmaceuticals—such as Vicodin and Oxycontin for pain and Adderall and Zoloft for PTSD, depression, and severe ADD—threatened suicide in multiple angry outbursts, typically delivered via text messages or email.

There are threats, and there are credible threats. This case scared me more than the others simply because my friend owned two guns and was educated in how to handle them; they were always close by. A bit too much whiskey or a drug/alcohol interaction gone bad and he could easily achieve a mood causing him to reach for a firearm for the wrong reason.

Most recently, in 2016, I was visiting with an old friend from Austin who I had actually met at the Toker’s Bowl in Vancouver in 2004. It’s a small world sometimes. He described a toke-friendly pal to whom he had introduced me in 2011: Stevie.

Stevie was a gregarious extrovert in his late 40s with great stories and an obvious love of our favorite herb. His goatee and oversized front teeth were a beacon for his expressive personality and self-deprecating sense of humor. I instantly liked Stevie and appreciated his sharp mind and great wit. He was smart, fun, and good people.

My conversation with my Austin friend progressed as we were catching up on old friends. “Nobody heard from Stevie for a long time…like six months,” said my old chum. “Apparently he was drinking a lot and playing the hermit.”

“Why?” I asked. He always had top-shelf herb, why would he lean on booze like that?”

“Maybe he had a genetic tendency,” my friend replied. “Who knows. But they found his body several days after he blew his brains out.”

After a somber pregnant pause, I queried stereotypically, “Did he leave a note?”

“No. Nobody knows exactly why he did it. I guess he just got really depressed and figured that was the best solution.”

I can understand how those suffering from depression or low self-esteem might find solace in the false belief that their own death could prevent them from continuing to inflict damage on those around them—especially their loved ones. While this might be a logical assumption, it is typically not a rational one.

Related Problems

There’s a good chance that chronic depression has resulted in a sufferer becoming a substance abuser of some type. Smoking cigarettes is often a comfortable background task for those stricken with moderate to severe anxiety while they indulge in excessive drinking and become dependent upon or recreationally use pharmaceutical drugs


But don’t drop that “cigarettes are bad for you” and “whiskey will eat your liver” line, because we’re talking about people on the verge of or buried within suicidal thoughts. Arguments regarding the long-term health risk of one’s drug of choice fall on deaf ears if they are hopeless enough to consider a drastic act in the first place. Many people in this mental and emotional zone often wish that an outside force would fortuitously result in their death, like a car accident during a morning work commute or a cartoon piano falling from a 10th story window in Manhattan.

Others can’t keep a relationship, romantic or otherwise, to save themselves. Society has phrases for the lives of these folks: “Trainwreck” comes to mind.

That may sound cruel, but we’ve all been there. Our trains have all jumped the tracks, regardless of how brief that lapse in judgement or confidence may have been. Well, you have if you’ve lived to middle age like me and my peers. At some point in our lives, we have necessarily just royally screwed the pooch. And we think to ourselves (as we experience insomnia): It could have been prevented. It could have been so much better.

Many decisions or events can lead to the type of depression that manifests itself as suicidal thoughts.

A drunken episode at the company holiday party brought a rewarding career to a standstill; children were confused and became anxious, depressed, or maybe rebellious; a teenage pregnancy split a family; an affair brought a marriage to an end; a high schooler ran away from home; someone came out of the closet in a household dominated by LGBTQ-fearing parents; a gambling addict’s debt destroyed her life and foreclosed her home; health was compromised by abuse and neglect; or maybe a student dropped out of school.


Regardless of how, it got nasty. Between health, finances, co-workers, our vehicles, education, and careers—not to mention children, parents, drinking buddies, and lovers—we typically find some way to really mess things up. Even if everything looks tidy and neat to those on the outside.

The emotional result of our mismanagement? Typically guilt, shame, and regret, peppered by more of the same. All of which may easily result in severe depression, the type that too often leads to self-harm or self-inflicted death.

Nasty, negative situations and nasty, negative emotions result in a downward spiral that all-too-often gets very serious—and may even be life threatening. No wonder between 50 and 100 military veterans are committing suicide each day. This gets into the entire PTSD issue, which will be explored in a future article.

An armchair psych analysis involving conventional wisdom reveals that the proclamations of those who are considering or intent upon self-harm is merely a plea for help. They don’t really want to commit suicide, goes the popular layperson’s bumper sticker philosophy.

Rather, they are asking for assistance, and we are supposed to merely recognize the fact that the plea emanates from a psychologically and emotionally crippled human, regardless of how temporary or permanent this state may be. We are then supposed to refer them to a cadre of professionals, including physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors.

I Don’t Know….

I don’t know. I think it’s often more than a mere plea for help, and I sometimes question the sincerity and qualifications of some of society’s most highly paid citizens, our medical professionals. Especially when the majority tow the prohibitionist line and preach that cannabis medicine is addictive and “dangerous,” going counter to nearly every shred of research evidence that has been produced to date.

In the case of my particular friends, I think they really were considering suicide. At least those who were honest enough to reveal their thoughts to me. I think they told me because I’m that critical thinking, analytical a-hole friend who helps them tear apart the problem and logically surmise the situation without allowing political correctness to intrude (comforting crying friends or delivering a warm and fuzzy over comfort food is probably not my strong suit).


Maybe I should say at this point that I believe everyone should be allowed to end their life if they desire. Who am I to tell someone they should be “happy” and “cheery” and “see the bright side”? Screw that. I believe in freedom and personal choice. It’s why I’m a patient advocate for medical cannabis. One human cannot tell another what to do if the first human isn’t hurting anyone outside him or herself.

Who am I to tell someone not to commit suicide if they have invested a great deal of thought and come to the sober, clear realization that they want to end their life? Am I smarter than them? Yes, life is valuable, regardless of the existence of a god. But how does my authority trump that of a friend or loved one?

Basically, who am I to tell someone else what to do or not do with their life and their body?

However, I have been disingenuous in this stance if one considers my actual advice to loved ones who have expressed an interest, even if just as a passing joke, of harming themselves. I am an intellectual hypocrite because, in each case, I have pleaded with them to not do it. I have always preached to friends considering self-harm the opportunities that lie ahead in terms of romance, career, travel, and food. “There are good times ahead, trust me. You just have to get through this current struggle,” I would say. “You just have to be patient.”

Why? Because I didn’t want to lose them. We’re all understandably cowardly when it comes to losing people—especially friends or relatives—and having our lifescape forever change.

Self-Serving Hypocrisy

Like all humans, I’m often self-serving. I don’t want to suffer personal loss, and I allow that fear to taint the honesty of my advice to friends. It’s easy for me to say, “Sure, do it if you want” in the clinical, theoretical tone of this one-way communication. But here, in front of my keyboard and alone in my office, I’m not staring into the sad, tired eyes of a friend with whom I share dozens of precious memories, sometimes over several decades.


Go Smoke Some Herb

After the medical cannabis research I’ve conducted over the past decade for my writing projects, I now know what I will tell the next person who is considering suicide and honest enough to express that to me: Go smoke or vaporize some herb.

In fact, I’ll do that one better: I will take some good cannabis to them.

Those sad enough to even contemplate ending their lives should consume good cannabis, feel the resulting anxiety relief and euphoria, and then think about all of their troubles again—this time, minus the crushing anxiety and depression that has prevented them from objectively and intelligently approaching their problems. If patients suffering depression and hopelessness can’t improve their mental and emotional perspective and attitude, there is no way they will ever escape their disease.

Avoidance behavior, including severe procrastination, often afflicts those who are suffering anxiety and depression. Of course, blowing off taxes, child support, car maintenance, class assignments, or exercise will never result in an improved life or greater happiness. Fortunately, cannabis therapy of all shapes and sizes can help patients re-engage in life, manage their affairs, and interact with others to the advantage of all parties.

One thing that people with suicidal thoughts shouldn’t do is get drunk. As fun and escapist as drinking may be, it won’t help patients resolve anything. It won’t allow them to reasonably reflect on their life—and how to improve it. And if they don’t effectively think about these issues, they won’t get out of their pit of despair and hopelessness. It’s obviously a deep, dark, nasty hole, or they wouldn’t be where they are.


Those sad enough to consider suicide need to spend a considerable amount of time in a better mindset, thinking and reaching positive conclusions. They can then use these conclusions to form a strategy, after which they must execute on that path. And what better way to achieve a “better mindset” or improved attitude than smoking, vaporizing, eating, or sublingually consuming cannabis? Especially among like-minded, supportive friends.

Stop & Calmly Think

Cannabis, especially nice sativa strains (for me, at least—everyone is different), help me to think. Objectively, rationally, and calmly think. Maybe it is the anti-anxiety properties of many strains of the kind herb that are responsible for its ability to help people sit back and put things in perspective, void of the panic and dread that may typically fill their days.

Another powerful reason for recommending cannabis to those who are severely depressed or suicidal is the irony of hopelessness. Typically, to see the light at the end of the tunnel and form a credible strategy for reaching it, one must exhibit at least a modicum of hope. Without it (and we’ve all been there), how does one pull oneself out of his or her situation?

Cannabis gives people hope. Those who consume pot on a regular basis, whether they suffer chronic depression or not, understand this. Sometimes it is subtle; other times more pronounced. But after supplementing their endocannabinoid system with cannabinoids (especially tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC), people suffering depression bad enough to make them take a dark path typically are able to gain some hope.

It is this glimmer of hope that is critical for those considering self-harm to improve their situation.

Like a minute flame applied to a large pile of wood doused in fuel, sometimes all one needs is that small sliver of hope and a couple of hours of happiness and laughter (the duration of cannabis’ effect when smoked or vaporized) to get back on their feet and face the next day with a more positive, energized outlook.

The medical cannabis movement is acclimated to dealing with ugly topics. Intractable childhood epilepsy, for example. Cancer in any human, child or adult. Serious Crohn’s disease, the type that derails careers and results in disability payments. True patient advocates who embrace medical cannabis face stories of both ugliness and victory each day.


“Medical marijuana” isn’t always a fun topic. It’s not an aspect of the pot culture that’s adrift in dancing leaf logos and sexy college students ripping hard on two-foot Roor bongs during a pretentious photo shoot.

Next Time

The next time you or a loved one considers suicide—or are simply so damn miserable and depressed that you’re in that zone—consume some cannabis to ease the anxiety. Then think about your life and how you want to change or improve it. But jump on that train of thought after you have mitigated your anxiety and dread—preferably with a natural herbal solution like pot.

Remember: The intent of this herb isn’t to provide an opportunity for escape. Instead, it is to deliver the peace of mind and confidence to think about ugly topics and face the music, so to speak. The gift of this plant is to allow one to engage in deep introspection in an effort to improve their life and the lives of those around them.

In other words, use cannabis with productive, positive intent in an effort to make real improvements to mind, body, and spirit.

One could easily question the photos included in this article. My logic: The people and things that remind us why we should value life.

In your continuing quest to get smart on medical cannabis, I offer you the following 2015 lecture from Mara Gordon, one of the most enlightened voices in the medical cannabis movement.

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, The KindCannabis CultureSKUNK, Heads, WhaxyWeed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis Experts Drop Science

The videos below offer a core and relatively comprehensive basic knowledge of cannabis medicine and its components, including cannabinoids (such as THC, THC-A, and CBD) and terpenes (like myrcene and limonene).

Dr. Amanda Reiman of Drug Policy Alliance

This is a valuable body of information for any patient, caregiver, physician, or legalization advocate who embraces medical cannabis and the science of the human endocannabinoid system, including the entourage effect and endocannabinoid deficiency.

Those who believe in safe access to laboratory-tested, high-quality cannabis medicine for all Americans are encouraged to gain as much knowledge as possible regarding the plant and its efficacy for human disease. This includes not only conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy, but also psychological conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Dr. Sunil Aggarwal (MD, Ph.D.)

Dr. Sunil Aggarwal is a Seattle-based scientist, physician, and cannabinoid integrative medicine subspecialist who focuses on hospice and palliative care. He is a self-described “medical geographer” and a powerful voice in the movement to legalize and legitimize medical cannabis.

Aggarwal, a tireless patient advocate, has dedicated his professional life to researching medical cannabis, especially in terminal and aging patients. His lectures and writing offer some of the most lucid, intelligent, and compassionate arguments available for the use of cannabis as medicine.

Aggarwal is one of the few medical professionals to speak frankly about the corruption and propaganda that led to the federal prohibition of cannabis in 1937 and that has prevented its widespread use in both mainstream and alternative medical circles for nearly 80 years.

“To understand cannabis scientifically, a holistic point of view is essential as the human-plant relationship itself must be acknowledged.”  — Dr. Sunil Aggarwal



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Mara Gordon (Aunt Zelda’s)

Mara Gordon is a specialist in the development of cannabis extract treatment protocols for seriously ill patients. She lives and works in California. A prolific and gifted speaker, Gordon is co-founder of Aunt Zelda’s and Zelda Therapeutics.

The only thing greater than Gordon’s presentation skills is her knowledge of the cannabis plant and its nuanced interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Her science-based, moderate approach is one of the most well-spoken and relatable messages within the cannabis legalization movement; her presentations are among the most educational available.

“The goal of the endocannabinoid system is homeostasis. It is to create a sort of balance, or equilibrium, within the body. The theories are, of course, that when you have imbalance, or lack of homeostasis, in the body, that is when disease can occur.” — Mara Gordon


Social Media

Dr. Amanda Reiman (Drug Policy Alliance)

Dr. Amanda Reiman, manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, brings extensive experience in researching medical cannabis, dispensaries, and cannabis as a treatment agent for addiction. This Oakland, California-based cannabis legalization advocate is another top-shelf presenter with a keenly deep knowledge of her subject matter.

Dr. Reiman, a Chicago native, is currently a lecturer in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley. She teaches Drug and Alcohol Policy, Substance Abuse Treatment, and Sexuality and Social Work.

She earned her Ph.D. in Social Welfare in 2006 at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation, Cannabis Care, was the first study to report on how medical cannabis dispensaries operate as health service providers.

“It’s like we’re dancing all around the [cannabis] research question. We’re getting at it from every possible angle, given the restriction. Everything but that golden ticket of [the] feds [funding] clinical research through universities with actual marijuana with people. We have not gotten there yet.” — Dr. Amanda Reiman


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All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Cannabis Health Summit: Embracing Mind, Body, Spirit

Many in the cannabis movement-cum-industry are tireless crusaders who are reminiscent of activist legend Jack Herer, crossing the continent to educate patients, professionals, policy makers, and the average consumer.

These efforts are often intended to give citizens and voters the insight and understanding required to appreciate—and responsibly leverage—the healing properties of the cannabis herb. This obviously includes those who help to pass ballot initiatives by sharing credible, science-based information with friends, family, and social media.

Mind, Body, Spirit

In late January, Green Flower Media held a two-day educational event dubbed the Cannabis Health Summit. It featured 18 speakers, all delivering engaging TED Talk-style presentations that totalled more than 13 hours of lectures. To participants, the experience was like attending an intense hybrid college graduate course in botany, psychology, political science, public policy, chemistry, medicine, and business.


Such a number of speakers, delivering this volume of information, obviously covered a wide range of topics. However, several themes emerged as takeaways for participants. One of these was a comprehensive mental framework and approach for the consideration of cannabis therapy and its medical efficacy that encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Think terpenes meets yoga meets high-quality vaporizors.

More Than Cancer & Epilepsy

If one considers that cannabis medicine helps not only physical ailments such as pain, inflammation, and nausea, but also deftly combats psychological conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, it soon becomes apparent that pot is a plant that possesses a special relationship with the human body. This includes the vast network of targeted receptors within the endocannabinoid system.

If theories that modern humans overwhelmingly suffer from endocannabinoid deficiency are true, it means that we must supplement our bodies—which endure extremely high levels of processed food, pollution, and stress—with phytocannabinoids from sources such as cannabis. At the risk of waxing philosophical, it could be argued that cannabis has a relationship with the human spirit.

Several speakers addressed issues that exceeded the topic of physical health, also discussing personal happiness, contentment, and the optimization of one’s career and family life. Other presenters dropped heavy science in terms of cannabinoids, terpenes, trichomes, the entourage effect, and endocannabinoid deficiency. Viewers were inundated with solid information, and even enlightenment, from insightful frontline experts, including doctors, researchers, and activist leaders.


Amanda Reiman from the Drug Policy Alliance

Readers who are in the least bit curious about any of these presentations are in for a treat. Those who missed this event can purchase the entire Cannabis Health Summit from Green Flower Media, either streamed in high definition ($67) or as a set of DVDs ($97).

Investment in Education

Those habituated to getting all of their online education free of cost, via sources like YouTube, should consider how much they pay on a monthly basis for products and services such as cable TV, lunch with coworkers, drinks at a bar, or pizza (yea, I went there). At the sake of over dramatizing the issue, this collection of bleeding edge presentations, freshly curated and captured in 2016, is a bargain—and worth depriving yourself of something else if you’re on a tight budget (as are many patients).

Knowledge is power, and power is required to win the culture war in which the cannabis legalization movement currently struggles. We can keep whining about prohibition and lack of freedom, or we can put our money where our mouth is and invest in an education that can result in legalization that will literally change society and reinvigorate the economy in a way that few comprehend.

I can’t think of a better way to leverage a work commute than listening to the audio portion of the lectures from this event. Even if one’s drive is only 10 minutes per day, using that time to get educated about the physical and psychological efficacy of this herb is a great way to defy prohibition and help ensure that the current wave of legalization doesn’t cease. Listening to these presentations when cycling, running, or at the gym is a great way to positively multitask.

Defy Stigma & Ignorance

A point of clarification: This isn’t a pitch for Green Flower; it’s a pitch for education. Cannabis health education. The only reason that a few states in this great country have legalized adult use of this natural herb—and we’re currently enjoying a wave of permitted use slowly emerging across the country—is because a majority percentage of voters became educated and voted as such. They realized that cannabis legalization was not only good for them, but beneficial to their communities and society overall.

The next time you’re wishing you had a better selection of, or less expensive, cannabis—or that you lived in a state that permits adult use—remember that these reforms occur only when voters, and sometimes politicians, get educated. Help spread the word. Don’t underestimate your influence.


Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, a cannabis for hospice and palliative care expert

First, however, ensure that your own knowledge is solid. Dive into educational content like the Cannabis Health Summit or read Follow researchers, doctors, and experts on social media. Become obsessed with acquiring knowledge of the cannabis plant and how it synergistically interacts with the endocannabinoid system of the human body.

Learn amazing things, like how all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, meaning that medicating pets with cannabinoids and terpenes to help them achieve and maintain health equilibrium is real. In fact, it will soon be a multi-billion dollar market. Americans love their pets, and if cannabinoids can make a pampered pooch happier, healthier, more energetic, or extend its life, consumers will spend their hard earned disposable dollars.

In the end, it is less important where readers gain their knowledge than the fact that they simply get it. Cannabis as medicine is a complex and nuanced science that even the world’s foremost experts—many of whom spoke at the Cannabis Health Summit—do not fully understand. Much more research is necessary.

It is only by educating voters that the current wave of legalization will continue to roll across the United States, eventually providing safe access to laboratory-tested, high-quality cannabis for both medicinal and adult use to the more than 317 million inhabitants of the country, including children and seniors.


Mara Gordon, cannabis medicine alchemist and advocate from Aunt Zelda’s

However, until more stigma and misperception is wiped out, public debate will continue to center around fear mongering, misinformation, and propaganda. Voters will continue to be mired in ignorance and possibly make what is the wrong choice—not only for society and their fellow humans who are very sick, but also for themselves.

Fear not. Word is getting out. Average Americans, who typically relegate cannabis to nothing more than a cartoonish whimsical meme related to the munchies or Cheech & Chong are finally beginning to understand. Major media outlets such as CNN, FOX, and MSNBC are airing documentaries related to the medical, economic, and social benefits of cannabis.

When many of the world’s foremost experts gather to share their knowledge and experience, it is a relatively rare opportunity for viewers to expand their understanding of cannabis and how it serves both patients and society.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

When Compassion Equals a Pilot Program

Despite a credible amount of hard research and anecdotal evidence from patients, on Friday, January 29, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration announced that it will not expand the list of qualifying conditions for the state’s struggling medical cannabis program.

Proposed Conditions

Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Advisory Board had recommended that eight conditions be added to those that qualify for legal medical cannabis, including autism, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, osteoarthritis, and several pain-related conditions. It responded to the governor’s negative decision by issuing a statement that labeled it “a gross injustice to patients.”


Chairperson of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, said in response to the announcement from the state:

“I’m deeply disappointed. But I’m not surprised. The governor’s office hasn’t shown much support for this pilot program, and it shows in this blanket rejection again.”

Journalists and the mainstream media continue to cite the number of states in the U.S. where medical cannabis programs exist—regardless of how stimied or ineffective they may be.

The Land of Lincoln is to be praised for things like the fact that, at 39, it covers more conditions than any other state, and that it includes ailments typically neglected in state laws, even in many progressive states, such as Tourette’s Syndrome and dystonia.


Illinois governor Bruce Rauner

There are currently about 23 dispensaries operating in Illinois, with another dozen slated to open by March.  While the pool of retail outlets for safe access continues to grow, with literally hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in cultivation and processing facilities and dispensaries, cannabis business owners in Illinois are complaining that there are too few patients to sustain the business of the current number of outlets, let alone a growing network of revenue-hungry retail stores that require a sufficient number of daily customers to stay in business.

Many desperate patients are probably thankful that the state has any program whatsoever. However, the forces that govern Illinois have the relatively open goal of dismantling the program, regardless of its effectiveness or the number of patients that it either does, or could, assist.

According to Debra Borchardt, when writing for Forbes:

“The clock is ticking for the Illinois medical marijuana program. A low number of approved patients could force some marijuana businesses to close just as the program is getting underway.”

The Problems

The greatest problem obviously lies in the state’s opposition to its own law. Republican Governor Rauner openly opposes anything cannabis. Officially, his state’s medical pot program is a grand experiment conducted at the expense of sick patients who, finally granted legal, safe access to medical cannabis in the state, may very likely lose that access in the near future.

This is despite the overwhelming approval of medical cannabis among the citizens of the state. Sixty-nine percent of voters support expansion of the program, while 73 percent believe that the benefits of medical cannabis outweigh the risks.

Too Few Participants?

The proof of this opposition? This isn’t the Rauner administration’s first oppositional move toward the state’s medical cannabis program. A year ago, the highly contested governor punted on expanding the list of qualifying conditions, which then included neuropathy, a condition that afflicts millions of patients.

Also, despite the fact that the state covers more conditions than any other, it has admitted only 4,400 patients to the program as of the end of 2015 (more than 29,000 had begun the application process at that time). This is despite predictions from regulators that the pilot program will include “tens of thousands” of patients by the end of its four-year run.


Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, Chairperson of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board

In its defense, the Illinois program began accepting applications only as recently as September 2015. The stark reality of the situation, however, is that businesses have already begun to complain that the program, from a business perspective, is generating too small a volume of business to sustain.

This is making many in the medical cannabis industry who have invested in Illinois, from venture capitalists to dispensary managers to those providing security for the transport of money and flowers, nervous that the program may collapse under the neglect and mismanagement of the state.

Said a dispensary operator in Chicago, Joseph Friedman:

“If this is the trend, with one to three patients a day, we’ll go out of business.”

Owners and investors in cultivation facilities and other medical cannabis businesses in the state say they require 20,000 to 30,000 customers—all within the next six to 12 months—to stabilize the market and allow them to sustain their businesses.

At the current pace of roughly 1,100 new patients per month, those managing the state’s program will need to increase their acceptance rate for applications, possibly being less strict in their approval of prospective patients. Business owners claim that “unnecessarily tight restrictions” are either dissuading patients from submitting an application or preventing them from being accepted if they do.

More Inclusive Approach Needed

Allowing more patients to enter the program would obviously be good for not only the patients themselves, but also the businesses that have invested heavily in the emerging medical cannabis infrastructure of the state.

While most of these business entities are acutely aware of the relatively high risk of entering a business segment that is illegal at the federal level, they also may not have anticipated a state government that would so cavalierly subvert the will of its own citizens, especially that most frail slice of society that is comprised of very ill children and seniors.

Dispensary owners are stressing that, unless the state begins approving patients at a more rapid rate, the result will be a growing number of dispensaries fighting over a relatively small population of patients—and patient dollars. “As they open, we’re going to be sharing a finite number of patients because it’s not growing the way anyone expected,” said Friedman.


A dispensary in Illinois

Put simply, the industrial-scale cultivation and processing facilities within the state are owned and operated by for-profit businesses that, if they don’t get enough foot traffic through the doors of dispensary outlets to move their product, won’t be able to justify or sustain a viable business. The result of this could be investors that pull out before incurring losses or businesses that choose to focus on more lucrative or dependable states, like California, Oregon, and Washington.

It could be argued that conservative forces within Illinois are practicing obstructionism, purposefully dragging their heels and even blatantly opposing the success of the state’s program that, in the end, is intended to provide sick patients, with conditions like cancer and dystonia, with access to laboratory tested, high-quality cannabis medicine.

Commercial concerns within the state that invested hundreds of millions of dollars into their businesses are justifiably concerned that the state may allow its medical cannabis program to atrophy and literally die on the vine.

Feel the Pain

Keen readers will note how four of the eight conditions recently rejected by the Governor relate to pain. One of the chief goals of adding these conditions to those covered in the state was an effort to deal with the opiate epidemic that is sweeping the nation.

Temple, of the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, in an interview with WTTW, a Chicago PBS affiliate, stressed that pain is difficult to treat and that many conventional pharmaceutical drugs are bad in two ways: 1) They aren’t an effective analgesic (pain killer), especially over time, and 2) They are highly addictive.


A nice, plump outdoor, backyard plant in Toronto, Ontario (circa 2008)

“If we look at the number of narcotic pain killer deaths that have occurred in this country, we are facing an epidemic of people dying from overdoses because their pain isn’t adequately managed,” said Temple.

The sometimes outspoken doctor explained how patients using opioids and narcotics can slip into respiratory depression and literally die, something that happens all too commonly. “We’re seeing more of that mortality grow,” said Temple. She explained how states that have adopted comprehensive medical cannabis laws are experiencing 25 percent fewer opiate overdoses.

In the end, the Illinois program could be terminated as early as 2017 by nothing more than swipe of the pen from conservative governor Rauner. Instead of incurring the political backlash and wrath of angry patients and progressives, the current administration may be trying to subtly sabotage the program through long-term mismanagement and a deprivation of resources.

If Illinois conservatives and Rauner can point toward slumping numbers, they may try to defeat the program by claiming it is unpopular or even unnecessary. While nothing is certain, the next 12-24 months will prove stressful for the state’s qualifying patients, caretakers, and legalization advocates, all of whom will live in fear that patient access to laboratory tested, high-quality medicine may soon be a thing of the past.

Illinois Qualifying Conditions

The state of Illinois currently allows the following 39 conditions (although it is being extremely picky about those it allows into the program):

  1. Cancer
  2. Glaucoma
  4. Hepatitis C
  5. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  6. Crohn’s disease
  7. Alzheimer disease
  8. Cachexia/wasting syndrome
  9. Muscular dystrophy
  10. Severe fibromyalgia
  11. Spinal cord disease (including, but not limited to, arachnoiditis)
  12. Tarlov cysts
  13. Hydromyelia
  14. Syringomyelia
  15. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  16. Fibrous Dysplasia
  17. Spinal cord injury
  18. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-concussion syndrome
  19. Multiple Sclerosis
  20. Arnold-Chiari malformation and Syringomelia
  21. Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA)
  22. Parkinson’s disease
  23. Tourette’s syndrome
  24. Myoclonus
  25. Dystonia
  26. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  27. RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type I)
  28. Causalgia
  29. CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndromes Type II)
  30. Neurofibromatosis
  31. Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
  32. Sjogren’s syndrome
  33. Lupus
  34. Interstitial Cystitis
  35. Myasthenia Gravis
  36. Hydrocephalus
  37. Nail-patella syndrome
  38. Residual limb pain
  39. Seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy)

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle, and a contributing writer at

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Value the Budtenders

As a lifelong resident of a prohibitionist state who recently moved to yet another prohibitionist state (brilliant, I know…), I can attest to the value of budtenders.

These empathetic professionals who help patients and adult users select just the right strain of cannabis—in the correct form—are the backbone of a loosely knit international network of thousands of dispensaries throughout North America.

The face of any dispensary is its staff of friendly budtenders, all of whom provide safe access to high-quality herbal medicine and the advice and direction to best consume it. Some budtenders take a holistic approach and advocate cannabis therapy that may involve diet, exercise, meditation, organic food sources, and possibly even yoga.


Proper advocacy and mentoring involves compassionate, science-based advice that’s available to patients who intelligently eschew the black market and seek safe access to regulated, laboratory-tested cannabis medicine from reputable dispensaries and retail stores.

Budtenders: Educating Patients

Those who follow the cannabis culture on social media may have taken note of dispensary companies and other organizations that sometimes host budtender appreciation events in progressive legal cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, and Denver. Budtenders and other cannabis industry employees are honored by patients, customers, and owners who show their thanks for the important, albeit critical, role played by these hard working retail employees.


More than 80 years of Reefer Madness (a campaign that began well before the August 1937 debut of U.S. federal prohibition) has created a culture of purposeful misinformation and disinformation in North America and throughout the world. Urban legends and misperceptions abound in terms of cannabis as medicine. Along with abortion and climate change, medicinal cannabis is one of the most controversial and hotly debated topics of the 21st century.

Teaching Patients & Voters

Budtenders are at the forefront of educating patients and adult use consumers, not simply selling flowers and concentrates. They help to abolish the stigma and ignorance that pervades modern society, especially among those actually willing to walk into a dispensary—many of whom are very sick single parents, retirees, teachers, local business owners, and retail employees.

Disinformation: noun dis·in·for·ma·tion: False information that is given to people in order to make them believe something or to hide the truth.

Those who wish to see full cannabis legalization and abundant safe access in their state or province must strive to alleviate the ignorance of society when it comes to this herb. The gains that have been made in this movement-cum-industry have emerged primarily from ballot initiatives involving regular citizens visiting the voting booth and saying yes to medical or adult use of cannabis.

Such voter behavior is the result of knowledge, and it doesn’t precipitate out of thin air. It is sought. Or shared. But someone has to get gutsy. Someone has to have the courage to defy the stereotypes and risk exposure to request—or preach—valuable, life-changing information.

When it comes to cannabis, this education is typically obtained or preached informally, from friends, family members, anonymously via sites like NORMLWhaxy, and Green Flower Media, and from budtenders—whether they are on the job or not.

When a state ballot initiative is passed, we know that myths have been shattered and stigma has been crushed—at least among those brave souls who voted in favor of such legislation. These are citizens who have come to see beyond the decades of propaganda and lies to realize that the cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis are real medicine for body, mind, and spirit and truly improve communities, including economically.


Research studies and anecdotal evidence from patients, their physicians, and caretakers has convinced millions of Americans and Canadians that cannabis is real medicine. They now understand that it is not physically addictive and that it lacks the danger and risk of opiate drugs for the vast majority of patients.

Voter behavior is influenced by solid information and enlightenment. Victory for the cannabis movement lies in, basically, voters recognizing science over scare tactics and believing research more than rumors. A simple dynamic, right?

Not Simple

But it’s not simple. Voters in several states will consider adult use laws in 2016. What percentage of them could use the advice of a seasoned budtender or cannabis advocate? How many desire to control their pain, depression, PTSD, or simple anxiety, but have no clue that the proper strain of cannabis—at the right dose and via the best consumption avenue—is capable of replacing their addictive pharmaceutical drugs?

How many know that the negative side effects of these drugs can be decreased or even eliminated by natural cannabis medicine?


Educating voters doesn’t end with teaching them enough to vote with intelligence and compassion on state-wide ballot issues. Hundreds of municipalities and counties throughout legal states like California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have banned sales of cannabis in their communities (they can’t ban cannabis possession and consumption because it would defy state law—but many would if possible).

Would They?

If city council members, county commissioners, and those citizens who are easily swayed by fear mongering and the deception of 21st century prohibitionists like Ted Cruz and and Chris Christie had only a very basic knowledge of cannabis (and its history), would they continue to ban sales of the herb in their communities?

Would they continue to deny their municipal coffers and schools the tax revenues being enjoyed by more progressive communities? Would they continue to refuse to improve their local economies with both permanent jobs, as well as ancillary services, like what is being experienced in Seattle and Denver?

Is the current controversy over something as simple as the medical efficacy of a plant merely the result of ignorance?

Is this literally just one big misunderstanding?

Both cannabis patients and lifestyle consumers should leverage the powerful and typically free resource found in their favorite budtenders. The daily exposure of budtenders to patients with a wide variety of conditions, from all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds, ensures their familiarity with most patient needs (even if one is simply suffering a bit too much anxiety and needs a nice indica).

This knowledge should then be spread throughout the community, with powerful conversations, blogs, lectures, seminars, and Meetup groups.

“The savvy and educated consumer needs more than just products. They require knowledgeable employees. They need additional information, resources, and support to truly empower them in utilizing cannabis to self-manage their holistic wellness.”  — Miz D, cannabis industry consultant and consumer advocate, Vancouver, Canada

Having trouble sleeping? Tired of dealing with the negative side effects of pharmaceutical pain killers? For those who live in areas that allow legal access to cannabis medicine, the best solution is speaking with an experienced budtender.

Photo credit: Sensi Magazine

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

How Many States Will Legalize Pot in 2016?

[Updated October 12, 2016]

What began as a pool of roughly 11 states that would potentially allow their citizens to decide if they wanted adult use cannabis legalization on their home turf has dwindled to only five.

The cannabis legalization movement in 2016 is providing both patients and recreational consumers with more pot freedom than they have enjoyed since…well, since cannabis was first outlawed on the federal level in August of 1937.

In other words, than since ever.

The trick? It all depends on where one lives.

Leveraging Momentum

In an attempt to leverage the momentum and political capital generated by current cannabis legalization in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, many states have bills or ballot issues pending that, if passed, will allow their adult citizens (21 or older) to legally possess and consume cannabis without medical necessity—sometimes via dispensary networks.

Five U.S. states will consider adult use (“recreational”) cannabis legalization this fall, including California (Prop 64), Arizona (Prop 205), Maine (Question 1), Massachusetts (Question 4), and Nevada (Question 2).

Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota will offer their voters medical laws. Ohio and Pennsylvania, via their state legislatures (not a popular vote), introduced medical cannabis laws in the first half of 2016.


In California, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is expected to win the majority of votes (current polling suggests that 60% of California’s voters are in favor of the controversial proposition). The Golden State is already a billion dollar market for medical cannabis—let alone the grey and black markets that exist in the nation’s most populated state.

Most significantly: The addition of Cali to the list of adult use states will add nearly 40 million Americans to those who can legally indulge in the kind herb.

In one fell swoop, more than 12 percent of the nation would suddenly have the legal right to possess, consume, and probably cultivate cannabis.

When one considers that Colorado has only 5.5 million residents, Oregon sports a mere four million, Washington is home to 7.2 citizens, and Alaska has only 740,000 legal inhabitants, California’s population stats begin to take on significance.

If the state legalizes recreational cannabis in November—something that is  likely to occur—it will, overnight, create the world’s largest legal recreational market for cannabis.

Lured to Legitimacy

Many cannabis breeders, cultivators, and resellers operating on the black and grey markets will be lured into legitimacy. There’s significant value and health benefits in not having to look over one’s shoulder for the five-oh or wonder if black helicopters will land on your farm.

No risk of legal penalties, at least from authorities in California (the feds are a different story) will be very appealing to tens of thousands of people currently making a living from the recreational cannabis market in California.

This isn’t meant to diminish the positive influence of pioneering states like Colorado and Washington. For very sick patients and those who embrace cannabis as a lifestyle, these states are currently among the best places in the nation to reside or do business. They not only embrace the cannabis culture, they help define it.


California and Washington, D.C. are typically at odds, both culturally and economically. California is home to Hollywood, Silicon Valley, SpaceX, Apple, Tesla Motors, Pixar, Oracle…you get the idea. The state holds sway, even among those groups and interests that are opposed to its culture of progressive liberalism.

How are we, as individuals, positioning ourselves for the inevitability of forthcoming legalization?

Yes, existing legal states are doing amazing things, nurturing a culture of healthy open-market, yet regulated, competition among cannabis businesses. For patients and consumers, this means lower prices, higher quality, and immensely better selection. With some startups basing their entire business model on something as specific as infused coffee or medical baked goods, legal states are certainly doing something right.

Even Alaska and Colorado are considering legalizing cannabis smoking lounges and social gathering places. Drinkers have bars, after all.

There are also plenty of problems inherent in the few existing state models, however.

Tax rates are excessive (Washington State charges 37% in sales tax) and restrictions and red tape are often unfair and not endured by those in similar industries, such as pharmaceuticals and alcohol.

Retail bans in dozens of communities in states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have limited safe access by both lifestyle consumers and patients alike.

When, Not If

California legalizing recreational cannabis is a matter of when, not if—and it will most likely occur on November 8. Unfortunately, many other “influence states” with large populations aren’t as excited about legalization as California. Texas, the second most populated state in the nation at 27 million*, likely won’t legalize cannabis for many years.

New York has 20 million* inhabitants and is basically tied with Florida for third most populous state in the country. The Empire State has already proven its Luddite nature by implementing one of the most short-sighted and restrictive state medical programs in the nation (it allows no smoking whatsoever).

Some critics have deemed it designed to fail, while others have simply called it lacking compassion and even mean spirited in the number of seriously ill patients that it excludes from eligibility.


Meanwhile, Florida’s conservative politics and widespread corruption promise to make it one of the last states to implement a real medical program or to even consider recreational legalization. In fact, states like Florida, Texas, and New York will probably jump on the adult use cannabis bandwagon if and when it is legalized at the federal level—not through their own efforts.

What will happen in your state in 2016—and how will you be a part of it?

In the few states where cannabis is already legal for lifestyle enhancement, opportunities for solopreneurs and entrepreneurs are ample and economies are booming.

First: Get It Legal

For those who wish to own or manage a dispensary or cultivation facility or start a web 3.0 business focused on cannabis and its millions of fans, the first move will be working with national, D.C.-based nonprofit groups like Marijuana Policy Project and NORML, while also partnering with new cannabis businesses to gain funding and marketing outreach.

After all, the culture war won’t be won with empty pockets. The prohibitionists have plenty of money and influence. Simply being “right” means little in our modern, corporate-driven society.

Elected representatives and business leaders alike shun science in an effort to play politics and maintain shareholder confidence—instead of educating those stakeholders in the objective realities of the situation.


While the cannabis legalization movement has never been healthier, this is the time that conservative forces will bring out their big guns in terms of money, influence, and even celebrity pot bashing.

There is no true victory in this culture war until all patients in America enjoy safe access to properly cultivated, high-quality strains of cannabis medicine, including concentrates, edibles, and topicals.

Until this happens, no one who respects science or has an ounce of true compassion for other humans should sit back and declare a win—including those in legal states.

*Population stats sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, instructional designer, and photographer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, MERRY JANE, Herb.coSKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, Green Flower Media, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana and developed a series of 175 long-form educational articles for

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.


Twenty-First Century Toking

Not long ago, the consumption avenues available to the average cannabis consumer were pretty limited: Bongs, bowls, and joints. Then blunts came along to shake things up a bit and further diversify the cannabis culture.

Enter Vaping

A relatively radical shift in pot consumption occurred between 10 and 15 years ago: Cannabis consumers began vaporizing their herb. This has come to be known as vaping and, until recently, was accomplished using desktop devices like the infamous (and expensive, at $500-600) German Storz & Bickel Volcano and domestic efforts like the Vapolution Vaporizer (a family of $100-250 glass-on-glass devices from Chico, California).

Vapolution 3.0 glass-on-glass vaporizer

Then vape pens came along. Available in a wide range of price points and in many different quality levels, these portable and pocketable vaporization devices allow one to discretely—and typically without the tell-tale odor—consume their cannabis flowers or concentrate when on the go.

Or on the sofa. The flexibility of these devices is quite amazing and truly a game changer. Mark my word, vape pens and mobile vape devices are no fad. Just look around a recreationally legal state and anecdotally note the adoption rate. It’s through the roof. And it’s more than bohemian hipsters wanting to surf the latest trend.

In fact, the vape pen will play a significant role in competing with the slim aluminum gen three Apple TV remote and pocket coins for most likely to get lost in the cushions of the living room sofa. (“Dude, don’t harsh my mellow. Seriously, where the hell is my vape pen?!”)

Sure, a joint is one of the ultimate forms of portability and convenience for pot consumers. But the smell and the smoke reveal one’s activity—or simply piss off those around one, like a vape pen never will. Let’s face it: While adoption might be highest in legal states, vape pens arguably offer the greatest utility to those in prohibitionist areas who must hide their medicine or lifestyle.

When combined with state-of-the-art concentrates, such as those that can be produced only by industrial laboratories run by real and regulated companies, vape pens can deliver amazing, relatively predictable efficacy for patients and uber-efficient euphoria and psychoactive effects for recreational users. Many vape pen manufacturers employ a cartridge design that allows their customers to purchase a base pen and then feed it what are basically THC cartridges, made with either BHO, CO2 oil, or another extraction concentrate.

vape pen

Bloom Farms in San Francisco is a great example of a company that produces affordable vape pens that charge via USB (one of the slickest new features being offered by companies like Bloom Farms and O.penVAPE) and can be refilled via 400 mg cartridges available in either indica or sativa.

Vape Pen Advantages

Vape pens offer several advantages over their old school joint and bowl cousins. First, there’s the health benefits of vaporizing cannabis herb or oil instead of combusting it. Second, most areas of the country have robust anti-smoking laws designed to curb and discourage the smoking of tobacco cigarettes. By vaping—regardless of what is being vaped—tokers take advantage of a technical loophole that allows them freedom of consumption where traditional smokers of cannabis or tobacco are left empty handed (and possibly facing hefty fines if they turn rogue and get tagged).

Vape pens also offer tremendous advantages for severely ill patients. Those suffering from intense pain or nausea (like people undergoing chemotherapy) can very quickly give themselves a supersized toke of relief that begins to hit them in only minutes. High-quality concentrates and reputable vape pen devices can deliver, in one vape hit, roughly the same amount of THC and other cannabinoids that would be obtained from an entire joint of mid-grade cannabis flower. All without the harmful tars and carcinogens.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention portable vape devices, commonly known as mobile vapes or pocket units. While not as small or discreet as a vape pen, mobile vapes typically offer better performance, accuracy, and reliability. They are simply more like a mini version of  a desktop vaporizer. In fact, it might be easiest to consider a mobile vaporizer to be the love child of a desktop unit and a vape pen. Imagine that a Neos USB pen slept with a Volcano and had a Vapir Prima as a child.

Of course, mobile vaporizers are also considerably more expensive, ranging from about $200 to $400 for reputable models actually worth having. The Vapir Prima, pictured below, is a standout based on its high quality, ease-of-use, and five-year warranty.

vapir prima v2

In legal states, CBD-based concentrates are becoming available, many of which contain very little psychoactive THC. For child patients and those who don’t desire to get high (or who simply can’t because of their job, especially if it involves unannounced and regular drug tests), CBD concentrates and vape pens are a small medical miracle.

One example of a company catering to this concentrate-via-vape-pen market is Denver-based Neos. The company pre-decarboxylates its proprietary “EVO” oil cartridges to allow for vaporization at lower temperatures, delivering what it claims is a better terpene profile from these molecules that are notoriously volatile and prone to breaking down under heat.

Neos may be the only vape pen company to explicitly embrace the entourage effect in its marketing materials and how it preserves the cannabinoid profile. While many concentrate companies promote the pure potency of their products, Neos seems concerned with quality and user safety—achieved via the use of “state-of-the-art technology previously unavailable to the industry.”

Neos is one of the more progressive, enlightened vape pen companies on the market. Some companies take a more medical approach to their product development and advertising, while others full-on target the recreational market and boast of nothing but THC and potency. But beware: There are some totally shit products available at nearly all price ranges.  Before making a purchase decision, read product reviews from trusted sources and speak with experienced colleagues and budtenders.

Vaping of any variety, be it the desktop type or via a miraculous pocketable model, is inherently cleaner and less offensive than smoking, regardless of whether one is a recreational or medical user. While tokers will always enjoy smoking, does modern technology afford the average cannabis consumer a better avenue? I know many hardcore cannabis users who are mostly vaping concentrates with vape pens.

Is this not only the new wave, but also a healthy, superior route of consumption that offers tons of convenience and doesn’t threaten to burn a hole in one’s jeans or catch the bedroom drapes on fire?

Technology is great for presenting consumers with options, and options are good. While automotive consumers once could choose from only internal combustion engine vehicles, they now also can opt for a battery electric car. Many of those who were relegated to getting their power from a local coal-burning power plant can now lease or purchase solar panels to gain energy independence.

Herer demonstrating his pipe at a trade show in San Francisco

Likewise, new technology is changing the way cannabis is cultivated, regulated, distributed, packaged, and consumed. While most of us will never fully give up on smoking marijuana and few would shy away when offered a joint of top-shelf Jack Herer or Durban Poison, the best route for one’s daily driver may not involve a Bic lighter and rolling papers or spoon-shaped glass.

The Reality

Those who live in states where cannabis is legal at the recreational level obviously can much more easily be purveyors of pot, especially if they want to indulge in concentrates. By simply driving to their nearest dispensary or retail outlet—there are more in Denver than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined—lucky fans of the culture in these states can easily obtain the advice, equipment, and flower or concentrate with which to fill a sexy, efficient, and affordable vape pen. Intelligent, well-trained budtenders rock; those lucky enough to have access to them should leverage the opportunity to increase their knowledge while purchasing the most appropriate cannabis products.

Those residing in prohibitionist states are increasingly choosing to travel to a legal rec destination like Seattle, Portland, or Denver to get the advice and hardware necessary to discretely vape, in private or public, back in their home state.

Of course, those who must deal with black market bingo may remain somewhat frustrated because they experience shady dealers, high prices, and uncertain strains and quality. Not to mention that high-quality examples of concentrates are often simply not widely available in black markets and are often priced outside what the average patient or rec consumer can afford.


Those who have the option of traveling to a more progressive area of the country when it comes to cannabis—or who already live there—should seriously consider the best that technology has to offer and how it can both protect consumers in states where pot remains illegal and also deliver quick, potent relief to patients in need (many of whom, like us, also have jobs and families and daily commutes).

So get yourself a vape pen and pump it full of some flower, CO2 oil, or live resin. Your lungs—and your arrest record—may thank you.

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

The Schizophrenia of ResponsibleOhio

[Updated August 16, 2015]

Come November, voters in Ohio will have to decide if they want a highly regulated cannabis legalization law to go into effect in their state by voting yes or no on Issue 3. The law would allow citizens to legally purchase, possess, and consume marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

Like progressive leaders Oregon, California, Colorado, and Alaska, all of which legalized recreational cannabis within the past two years, Ohio’s law would permit adults 21 and over to cultivate the herb. Ohio’s particular regulations specify up to four indoor plants and possession of up to eight ounces of raw marijuana flowers. Outdoor gardens, permitted in much of California and Oregon, would be prohibited, however (just as they are in Colorado,). All forms of personal cultivation are currenty banned in Washington State.

Only Ten Producers

The initiative, sponsored by a group of wealthy individual investors (some of whom are minor celebrities) and based in Columbus, the state’s capital, would limit production of marijuana to only ten pre-selected facilities positioned throughout the state. The state would then license roughly 1,100 businesses, at fees of between $10,000 and $50,000, to open manufacturing facilities, medical dispensaries, and retail outlets.


These businesses would be forced to purchase their herbal product  from the ten cultivation facilities. In this respect, the scheme is a monopoly (technically, it is an oligopoly) that would prevent any person or business, regardless of their expertise or potential benefit to the market, to get into the business of cannabis production (above the four plants per adult personal limit).

ResponsibleOhio, of course, argues that it will not be a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel based on the fact that the ten companies will compete with each other. It is assumed that retail outlets and dispensaries would be capable of purchasing from any and all of the ten facilities. However, this would ultimately be determined not by ResponsibleOhio or its member companies, but instead by a governing board appointed by Governor Kasich, a Republican who is opposed to legalization (and may appoint his prohibitionist buddies to administer the program).

It can easily be argued that so few production facilities would result in a lack of innovation and possibly little research and development—such as the breeding of new medicinal strains. The recreational quality (high type), medical efficacy (cannabinoid profile), and potency of pot produced by the ResponsibleOhio investment group-cum-constitutionally amended state law would depend entirely on how vigilantly the ten production facilities competed with one another (and the regulations surrounding that competition and their individual operations that are eventually written and implemented by the state).

Good for Consumers

For consumers, ResponsibleOhio is a pretty sweet deal, but would almost certainly result in higher prices than in some other states. Medical users will be permitted to purchase discounted (wholesale) marijuana at designated dispensaries (among the 1,100 businesses permitted under the initiative) if they are registered with the state (as in California). Recreational users would purchase from retail outlets and require no registration. If ResponsibleOhio’s legal herb is of relatively low quality or costs more than the black market, citizens will have the option of growing their own (if they wish to remain legal).


Unlike what is offered by the current black market, the investment group’s ten cultivation factories would utilize outside laboratories to batch test all cannabis grown. It could be argued that the ability to visit a medical dispensary or retail outlet and purchase a product that has been thoroughly tested, with accurate labeling and a guarantee of quality, safety, and purity is certainly worth the prices currently being charged by the black market.

It is sad, however, that a lack of competition at the cultivation level would most certainly curtail innovation and the competition necessary to truly drive down prices.

For cannabis consumers in the Buckeye State, ResponsibleOhio is so much better than the prohibition with which they live now that it’s not even funny. With the exception of the continued prohibition of outdoor gardens, consumers would have the option of purchasing on the black market (and possibly getting busted), buying from a medical dispensary or retail outlet, or growing their own. No longer would adults be convicted of possession of small amounts of marijuana or personal gardens.

Bad for Employees

However, the proposed ResponsibleOhio legislation in no way protects employees who legally use medical or recreational marijuana. Employers who are acclimated to drug testing employees—and firing those who fail drugs tests—will continue to be legally permitted to do so.

In this respect, ResponsibleOhio addresses some of the concerns of Ohio’s citizens who wish to avoid the black market and legally cultivate, possess, and consume cannabis as medicine or euphoriant while avoiding some of the stickier issues of workplace drug testing and the rights of both workers and the companies that employ them.


Brandon Coats, who lost lawsuit over firing for legal medical cannabis consumption in Colorado

On June 15, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana patients can be fired if they fail a drug test. Even in this progressive state, prohibitionist forces are defending employers and outdated practices from the late 20th century and Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign. Would a legal challenge in Ohio’s court system produce a different result, especially given the current conservative Republican legislature and presidential candidate Kasich’s opposition to cannabis legalization of any type?

Crain’s Business Cleveland article from August 16 describes how a variety of groups in Ohio oppose the bill, including the Council of Smaller Enterprises, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

The board of directors of the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association on August 13 announced opposition to the ballot issue “on the grounds that granting what, in effect, are business monopolies would undermine free-market competition.”

According to Ian James, the executive director of ResponsibleOhio, “This is disappointing, but not surprising.”

“They all know that legalization does not have an impact on the ability to enforce drug-free workplaces. After passage of the marijuana legalization amendment, you remain a drug-free and a zero-tolerance workplace, period.”   — Ian James

The only problem with James’ logic is that metabolites of THC, the chemical compound in cannabis that delivers its euphoric high, remain detectable in the human body for roughly 30 days following consumption of the herb or an extract or concentrate thereof (like tinctures, edibles, and oils). Heavy habitual users may test positive up to two months after ceasing consumption.

ian james for gooey rabinski blog

ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James

Thus, patients and recreational consumers who are not consuming cannabis or high while at work, but who smoked at a party or medicated for a disease like Crohn’s or cancer weeks prior to a workplace test, would be penalized for their fully legal consumption of cannabis. Most of Ohio’s citizens must work to earn a living. According to James, the same people to whom his investment group would be marketing cannabis flowers and manufactured products if the law passed would be subject to dismissal because “legalization does not have an impact on the ability to enforce drug-free workplaces.”

Growers Database

Unfortunately, those growing their own would have to register with the state and pay a $50 annual fee. I don’t think anybody cares about the $50 (that doesn’t even buy a quarter ounce of quality herb in the state today). But registration in a state-owned database is something that justifiably intimidates and frightens a lot of existing growers who are contemplating passage of this initiative and the ability to legally grow a few plants.


What if the Republican-dominated state cooperated with federal authorities (like the DEA) and handed over the database, revealing exactly who was growing cannabis (in flagrant violation of federal law)? Regardless of the real possibility of this occurring, many curious cannabis cultivators are wary.

While I personally would like to see the grow limit raised and legal outdoor gardens—from a consumer perspective—ResponsibleOhio looks pretty nice. In theory, prices set by all stages of cultivation, manufacturing, and retail sales would strive to equal or beat those of the black market, helping ensure market demand and sufficient sales volumes to maintain all segments of the industry. If retail outlets and the black market engaged in a price war, consumers would obviously benefit.

Can a Closed Market Drive Down Prices?

States like Oregon, Colorado, and Washington have proven that open markets drive down prices while simultaneously improving quality, selection, and brand dependability. In some areas of Colorado and the West Coast, ounces of top-shelf sativa and indica strains, like Jack Herer and G13, sometimes sell for only $130 to $200—significantly below the national average for the black market.

In tightly regulated New Jersey, state-run dispensaries sell an ounce of top-shelf cannabis flowers for $550; at Delaware’s sole dispensary, that ounce costs $400-450.


The only problem for those in Ohio, however, is that theirs would not be an open market. With only ten production facilities—albeit owned by ten separate companies—market competition likely wouldn’t occur at a level necessary to significantly drive down prices through the natural forces of the market. At least not like in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. With only ten potential sources of raw plant material, sales outlets could cut their margins only so thin in an effort to compete with one another on price.

In this respect, retail stores would be hobbled by limited selection and greater difficulty in differentiating themselves from their competition. Exclusivity is a trait of many successful marketing campaigns. None of the 1,100 retail outlets would be able to claim that they offered a unique strain of cannabis. Thus, customer loyalty would be considerably harder to obtain. Pot customers would understand that they could purchase the same basic product—albeit possibly in different packaging or processed in a somewhat different manner—from each and every retailer in the state.


This frustrates some activists and progressive leaders for two reasons. First, they cite that Ohioans will likely pay more for their cannabis than citizens in other states featuring true open market production, manufacturing, and retail sales. Second, what about other entrepreneurs who might want to get into the production of cannabis for sale in the state? Is it ethical, in a supposedly open market democracy, to exclude them?

Voters should not assume that legal herb produced by the ResponsibleOhio group would be cheaper than that of the black market. In states like Colorado, black market prices have been driven down by legal dispensaries and retail shops, but are still cheaper than legal herb. Thus, cannabis consumers in Colorado prove that they are willing to pay more for legal and safe access to tested, labeled, and reputable marijuana.

(In March 2015, Colorado sold about $75 million worth of cannabis in combined medical [dispensary] and recreational [retail shop] sales. By July, the monthly revenue for recreational sales alone topped $50 million for the first time, contributing about $4 in taxes to Colorado’s schools.)

Pros and Cons

Thus, marijuana consumers in Ohio who are tired of high prices, dealing with the black market, and, of course, the threat of being busted for purchasing street weed might want to embrace ResponsibleOhio and vote Yes in November. In the end, ResponsibleOhio is offering a value proposition to pot consumers: Would cannabis users rather pay the black market a little less, but get a baggie full of something that has no strain name, no brand, no pedigree, and certainly no guarantee?

Outdoor gardens banned

Outdoor cultivation would be banned under ResponsibleOhio’s law

The simple ability for a patient or recreational consumer to shop a retail outlet during business hours, purchase up to an ounce of a particular strain like Kali Mist or Jack Herer, and then take it home and consume it—all within the bounds of the law—is something that sounds almost too good to be true for the average toker or patient almost anywhere in the Midwest, including Ohio. The fact that this luxury would be enabled by a pseudo-monopoly on the production side of the business somewhat sucks. Most would agree that monopolies, especially those encouraged and maintained by the state, are anti-American and anti-middle class.

For those of a libertarian mindset who encourage free markets, believe in the power of entrepreneurialism (consider the wealth that has been generated by Silicon Valley), and don’t support arbitrary government restrictions that put wealth into only the pockets of a few will be against ResponsibleOhio on principle. Of course, if ResponsibleOhio fails to pass, they’ll also be forced to continue purchasing their cannabis on the black market, with uncertain quality, a total lack of testing, no labeling or ability to choose strains, high prices, and the risk of imprisonment.

Come November, Ohio voters must decide if they not only embrace marijuana legalization, but if they are willing to limit production to an artificial monopoly of only ten cultivation facilities. ResponsibleOhio is basically telling voters: “We’ll pay the $20 million required to get this issue on the ballot and educate voters so it passes if you’ll give us exclusivity on the production of the product.”

To learn more about ResponsibleOhio, check out ResponsibleOhio: The Upside.

Image credit: ResponsibleOhio PAC

HBK11RenderGooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed to magazines such as High Times, Cannabis CultureSKUNK, HeadsWeed World, and Cannabis Health Journal. He is currently a contributing writer to and the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana (2015 Edition), available on Amazon Kindle.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.