Shawn Carter — better known to most of the world as JAY-Z — shined a searing spotlight on the hypocrisy and lunacy that still guides cannabis policy throughout the majority of the United States with a series of billboards for his MONOGRAM cannabis brand.
On March 1, MONOGRAM launched an ad campaign that included murals, billboards and mobile ads in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C., using shocking headlines juxtaposed with portraits of people who have been charged for cannabis-related crimes.
“If you use a flamethrower to light a joint, you’ll be arrested in 17 states. But not for the flamethrower.”
“You can marry your first cousin in more states than you can buy recreational weed.”
“The War on Drugs worked, if systemic racism was the goal.”
“Weed is a federal crime. Even in the states where sex with farm animals isn’t.”
The ads used a variety of other “depraved vices” and “dangerous transgressions” that are still permitted to draw attention to the injustice of cannabis laws.
“I created this campaign to amplify the voices of those who have been penalized for the very same thing that venture capitalists are now prospering from with the emerging legal cannabis market,” Carter said in a press release. “Far too often we forget that these are real people whose everyday lives and futures have been affected by this outdated legislature — people like Bryan Rone, who can no longer pursue a career in sales because of a cannabis-related conviction in 2003.”
— Garrett Rudolph
Research from an Israeli company tracking cannabis test results globally suggests that 45% of THC-dominant flower on the market is labeled inaccurately.
GemmaCert, a manufacturer of desktop testing units, accumulated more than 1.5 million potency scans in 35 countries in 2020 as part of its ongoing effort to map cannabis potency worldwide, revealing a global THC average in THC-dominant flower of 15.35%. In the United States, the average THC-dominant flower tested at 16.31% THC, according to GemmaCert data.
However, multiple studies show the reported THC numbers to be much higher.
A study published in 2020 by the University of North Carolina and Wake Forest University found that most cannabis flower products advertised online by cannabis retailers were listed at higher than 15%, with an average of 19.2% for medical programs and 21.5% for recreational programs.
Similarly, a report published in 2020 by the Colorado Department of Revenue showed flower potency had risen from an average of 14% THC in 2014 to 19% THC in 2019.
An earlier study conducted in Washington state — published in 2017 by the Society for the Study of Addiction and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse — showed that products with labels claiming THC levels of 15% or higher accounted for over 90% of sales, with flower averaging 20.6% THC.
GemmaCert’s research did not suggest a reason for the discrepancy between potency on labels and potency based the company’s own accumulated testing data.
One explanation could be the nature of lot testing, in which one pristine bud could be selected to represent an entire five-pound batch. However, there are plenty of other explanations, including a lack of standardized testing protocols from state to state and issues related to a profit-driven market in which higher potency flower commands not only a higher selling price, but more demand from the average consumer — thereby incentivizing growers and labs to achieve more potent results.
— Garrett Rudolph