Good idea, canna bumps: thanks for keeping marijuana illegal

The Haymaker is Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott’s column of opinion on cannabis politics and culture.

A new cannabis product made waves over the past week, and not in a good way. Canna Bumps, a “snortable” powdered cannabis concentrate that is packaged to look like cocaine, caught the attention of some industry leaders.

They tweeted their reactions – pretty much a chorus of So Disgusting! – and on the weekend weed Twitter piled up.

Can someone please write about this snortable cannabis that is sold in California?

Like what the heck.

It even comes with a mini spoon for easy snorting. and a card to break it open. This is gross and not what I want to see in the cannabis industry!

– Alice Moon (@thealicemoon) April 30, 2021

Subreddit r / weed picked up the powdered product and continued the conversation. The reaction was mixed. Some defended the product:

Some people love to snort and this is a cool idea for getting that high instantly without carrying a cartridge pen (which is a crime risk and this stuff is easy to dispose of). If it were economical I would buy the shit out of it!

But most of the reactions went to “So damn stupid. Holy shit “.

Canna Bumps is made by THC Living, a licensed California food manufacturer whose line of products was previously limited to THC-infused soda and pain relievers.

It is listed as 600 mg THC concentrate – but is marketed as an edible product.

With 600 mg of THC per pack, THC seemed to legally position Living Canna Bumps as a concentrate. California law allows up to 1,000 mg of THC per pack for concentrates. Edibles are limited to 100 mg of THC per pack.

But then the company clearly classified the product as edible to consumers in its marketing materials:

Have a great time with your cannabis with our novel cannabis concentrate. Canna bumps are exactly what they sound like – cannabis concentrate to be devoured through the nose, ingested directly, or added to your staple diet.

And that seems … downright illegal.

Did you pull the product?

By the end of the weekend, the industry backlash and / or legal threat appeared to be working. The product could no longer be found on Leafly or on Weedmaps on the THC Living brand pages.

At the end of the weekend, Canna Bumps was no longer on Leafly or weedmaps on the THC Living brand pages.

That led some to speculate on Reddit that the whole thing was a big joke: “It’s wrong … it doesn’t exist.”

Unfortunately the product seems to exist.

Late Monday afternoon, a law firm representing THC Living released a statement to Leafly that included the following statement:

A few months ago, our customer was approached by a third party who was trying to use our customer’s proprietary formulations in developing the Canna Bumps product. Once our customer learned more about the product, their customers’ and industry temperatures were measured to assess how they felt about canna bumps. Based on its own concerns, consumer concerns, and industry concerns, our customer made the decision to terminate a license that was being given to a third party who would use their proprietary information to manufacture or market a product like canna bumps.

So it sounds like THC Living pulled the product itself. The company’s employees declined to comment beyond their attorney’s written response so we don’t know their side of the story. But obviously THC Living didn’t just license its technology. Canna Bumps was marketed as the newest product in the THC Living consumer line.

Leafly and Weedmaps: platforms, not endorsers

Licensed cannabis companies usually manage their own branded pages themselves on platforms like Leafly and Weedmaps.

Full Disclosure: I work for Leafly, of course, and my own business requires cannabis brands to agree to Leafly’s terms and conditions which prohibit illegal, threatening, harmful, racist, sexist, or overtly offensive product listings. (The full terms can be found here.) Our staff will remove any entries they come across.

Leafly employees don’t filter out products that some find stupid, creepy, or tasteless. In other words, we will protect consumers from harmful products, but we cannot protect a cannabis brand from their own stupid choices. We leave that to the consumers.

Leafly’s staff first became aware of the product late last week, but the product was shut down by THC Living before Leafly could determine its legal status.

How this harms patients and consumers

Good for THC Living to end the short and unfortunate life of cannabis-based cocaine. I think the company is getting credit for doing so much.

However, products like canna bumps not only hurt the good taste of consumers and colleagues in the cannabis industry. They do real harm. They help keep cannabis illegal for hundreds of millions of Americans, thereby propping up the prison state, assisting the arrest of 450,000 Americans each year, and ruining the lives and lifelong prospects of untold numbers of adults. They are hurting medical marijuana patients and cannabis users across the country.

This is how it works.

Those of us who are in a legal medical and adult state know that licensed products must adhere to strict restrictions on THC effectiveness.

But legislators and community leaders in prohibited states do not know that. Most of them know less than zero about the legal and regulated cannabis industry. Their only information often comes from reefer presentations given by scary groups like SAM and the Drug Free America Foundation by Mel and Betty Sembler.

I’ve seen some of these sessions firsthand. They typically take place at law enforcement seminars, political conferences, or over lunch and learning from local civic groups. They are often titled “The Truth About Marijuana Legalization” or something similar. They’re packed with bullshit stats and debunked studies.

And at some point the speaker invariably flashes slides of products like Canna Bumps or “Stoney Patch Kids” to illustrate what legal cannabis stores are selling. It’s their cash shot. At that moment, you can almost hear voices all over the room speaking against legalization.

Are these products legal? Usually not. Most of them existed in California during the unregulated medical marijuana era of 1996-2018. Food that might be considered the least child-friendly is now strictly prohibited in constitutional states. But stupid products like this live on forever in the Prohibitionists’ propaganda deck. And they are powerful. They keep adult marijuana illegal in 32 states. They ensure that 450,000 Americans are arrested for cannabis possession this year again.

Thank you, THC Living. Canna bumps are now helping police officers across America turn innocent cannabis users into criminals.

Throwing medical marijuana patients under the bus

Of course, canna bumps is not intended to appeal to children. Potency aside, the product may be legal under California law. The people most affected by this epic failure will likely be the millions of medical marijuana patients in the 13 states where their medicine continues to be illegal.

If you’re a Leafly reader, you probably know patients whose lives are greatly improved by legal access to medical cannabis. Legislators and leaders in full prohibition states like Texas and Indiana do not. Many of them suspect that medical marijuana is just one way for the Stoner brothers to get around the law.

Congratulations, THC Living. Canna bumps have confirmed their suspicions. These votes are lost. Patients in Prohibited States will spend another year buying drugs on the street and living in fear of arrest.

When “gross products” cause real damage

Many cannabis leaders who participated in the public shame over THC Living and Canna Bumps this week have voiced their outrage over a common industry standard.

In any other industry, such a product would simply be a violation of good taste. But cannabis is no other industry.

Alice Moon, an LA-based cannabis marketing consultant, put it bluntly, “This is gross and not what I want to see in the cannabis industry!”

In any other industry, the harm from such a product would be limited to an offense against good taste. But cannabis is no other industry. The damage here goes much deeper. Tens of millions of Americans have been deprived of their liberty and ruined their lives through nonsensical criminalization and the war on drugs. This damage is compounded by the stigma surrounding cannabis and the stereotypes that still cling to healthy, happy, everyday consumers.

Canna bumps isn’t just a marketing pitch that went wrong. It actively eases the risk and harm that millions of Americans face every day.

So far away, THC Living. Good idea. Smart. Very not damn funny.

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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