Marijuana Moment brings readers comprehensive, up-to-date reporting on important developments in cannabis politics, from Capitol Hill to state legislative chambers. But sometimes, we like to have a little fun, too.
That’s why, when a viral video of a man toking a bong precariously balanced on a drone he was operating came across our feed, we decided to reach out.
Meet Eric Mercer.
He’s a 23-year-old working in Maine’s cannabis industry who’s grown a sizable following of marijuana aficionados on platforms like YouTube and Instagram. When he’s not honing his cannabis craft, he enjoys things like playing guitar and hiking.
For Mercer, his internet presence really started off with comparably smaller (and sometimes questionable) stunts: dabbing and ripping a bubbler simultaneously, dousing concentrates in hot sauce and inhaling the very bad combination (it was “stupid little thing I did a while back… a little on the spicy side, but to be honest, it wasn’t as bad as you’d think,” he told Marijuana Moment), and creating and smoking out of a “potato rig” or head of cabbage.
But then, around March 2017, he stepped up his game, integrating drone technology into his smoking routine.
I've started a new page for my drone shenanigans! I'll let you guys know what it's called once I get past the awkward first few posts and have a page worth looking at. For now; here's a pretty picture 😙 I'll still be posting them on here too, but I want to increase my potential reach. #dronestagram #tinywhoop #cannabiscommunity #stonersociety #art #wfayo #stoners #cannabis
The inspiration “was just a passion for drones, a passion for being creative, and wanting to come up with cool, new things to show people on Instagram,” he said.
It started with the modest joint drone. A joint was affixed to the small device and guided toward his mouth. After a bit of a struggle, Mercer took the airborne hit.
He’s posted several other videos showing off his joint drone skills.
Has it gotten easier over time? “Yes and no,” Mercer said. “Inside, no problem. I feel like I’ve mastered that. I can fly circles around the room and let other people get a chance to hit it, but outdoors is still the challenge.”
Then, there was the drone-based concentrate delivery system.
Which didn’t always pan out as planned.
I'm busy working today, so here's some blooper footage from the seah @xdabninja207x and myself had. We tried to dab off the drone and ended up going in a different direction when I just couldn't control it that well. #drone #dab #fail #420society #cannabis #stoner #nerd #ilovemaryjane #wfayo #dabs #oil
“Knock on wood, thankfully, I haven’t injured myself really in it yet,” he said. “I’ve bumped into myself with my tiny drone that I do the joint with, but yeah, I’ve been very fortunate.”
Most recently, Mercer’s cannabis content has taken off as he’s perfected the art of smoking bongs and taking dabs placed on larger drones, piloting them with one hand and sparking up with the other. One video of Mercer accomplishing this feat is now the top post on the popular Reddit cannabis forum, r/trees.
So @plasmalighter sent me a new sick lighter to show you guys, and to be perfectly honest I couldn't bring her up till she passed the Drone test 😏😂 newsflash! It passed! #dronestagram #wfayo #2lit4tv #bongsmoker #highsociety #710society #weedporn #bongrips #fuckery #hightimes #cannabisculture #staylifted207 #207stoners
What do you get when you cross last month's @hemperco rig with a @djiglobal #mavicpro 🤔??? You get a #dronedab 😎👌🤘!!!!! . . . . #stoners #dabbing #dabs #drone #710 #fuckery #maine #cannabiscommunity #ganja #710society #cannabis #weed #dailydabs #oil #hightimes #weedhumor #concentrates #shatter #greentruckextracts #piestep
Mercer announced on Tuesday that he’s launching a new Instagram page dedicated to the craft, hoping to reach a larger audience. You can follow him on Instagram or Youtube—if that’s your kind of thing.
Feds Call Out Religious Discrimination Against Marijuana Consumers
The U.S. government is again highlighting religious discrimination against people who consume marijuana, but is only shining a spotlight on such anti-cannabis bias that occurs in other countries.
In Guyana, for example, “representatives of the Rastafarian community said that a law criminalizing the possession of 15 grams or more of marijuana infringed on their religious practices,” a new U.S. State Department report says. “A representative of the Rastafari Council said some members of his community faced extra scrutiny from law enforcement officials who believed Rastafaris carried marijuana on their person.”
“The council petitioned the government to legalize the use of small amounts of marijuana for religious purposes, but authorities reportedly did not consider the proposal, saying that reviewing drug legislation was not a state priority at that time.”
In Sierra Leone, “Rastafarians reported this [cannabis] prohibition restricted their ability to use cannabis as a core component of their religious practices.” A community elder told the State Department that “there were 15 incidents of police harassment during the year, often tied to…use of cannabis.”
“The alleged harassment included beatings and confiscation of property found on their persons.”
Also in Sierra Leone, government officials still have not held nine police officers accountable for a 2016 incident in which they damaged a temple as part of a marijuana enforcement operation.
The findings are among several included State Department’s 2017 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, released on Tuesday.
In Barbados, “Rastafarians continued to state their objection to the government’s enforcement of the prohibition on marijuana for any use, which they said made it impossible to fully perform their religious rituals,” the U.S. report says. “Rastafarian activists continued to say that police and immigration officials required Rastafarians to remove head coverings and gave extra scrutiny to Rastafarian women at checkpoints, which they said was a pretext for searching for marijuana.”
In Saint Kitts and Nevis, “Rastafarians continued to face police harassment, particularly for the use of marijuana for religious purposes. Rastafarian representatives continued to state that marijuana, banned by law, was integral to their religious rituals.”
In the Czech Republic, the government suspended a registration application for the Cannabis Church.
“Members of the Rastafarian community said police and immigration officials continued to subject them to scrutiny because of the use of marijuana in the Rastafarian community,” in Dominica. “According to reports by both the police and members of the Rastafarian community, persons of other religious groups were not subject to such scrutiny.”
Despite the ongoing hardships across the world for people who use marijuana for spiritual reasons, Rastafarians in several countries noted that discrimination seems to be ebbing, at least somewhat.
In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, for example, despite continued “societal discrimination” against cannabis consumption, some Rastafarians said they “were increasingly accepted in society, and society was becoming more tolerant of their way of life,” citing a “perceived reduction in police harassment as proof of increased societal acceptance.”
In Jamaica, advocates said a 2015 law legalizing spiritual cannabis use “allowed them to practice their religion according to their beliefs.”
“Rastafarians said law enforcement officials on rare occasions still profiled, stopped, and searched Rastafarians for possession of marijuana over the decriminalized limit, but they were no longer concerned about being detained for carrying marijuana to religious ceremonies for use as a sacrament,” the report says.
Another hopeful sign came from South Africa, where Rastafarians cheered a High Court ruling that declared a ban on marijuana use by adults in private homes to be unconstitutional.
Although U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the new report “is a testament to the United States’s historic role in preserving and advocating for religious freedom around the world,” legal arguments for the use of marijuana in accordance with various religions have repeatedly been rejected by U.S. courts.
How Reddit’s r/trees Helped Scientists Make Marijuana Discoveries
Reddit users subscribed to a popular marijuana forum are helping researchers identify trends and patterns in cannabis consumption.
A new peer-reviewed study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, analyzed more than two million posts found on the site’s largest marijuana-related subreddit from 2010 to 2016. The research team made a series of discoveries, including a few that might seem obvious to regular consumers (e.g. dabbing is gaining in popularity, but users still largely favor smoking cannabis flower).
Nonetheless, the study contributes unique insights to the growing body of international cannabis research. Among research team’s key takeaways was just how high the average “ent” gets on five different forms of cannabis.
(Although researchers didn’t specify which subreddit the study examined, their description in the paper leaves little room for doubt that it was r/trees, where enthusiasts refer to themselves as “ents,” an homage to the tree-resembling Lord of the Rings characters; trees is a common slang term for cannabis.)
How high do Reddit users get on average from smoking, vaping, dabbing, taking edibles or using butane hash oils (BHO) like shatter?
Researchers sought to answer that question by looking for keywords and tracking the subreddit’s 1-10 “user-reported subjective highness” rating system. Though it’s admittedly not scientific, a redditor reporting a  would generally be considered to have a light buzz, whereas a  signifies a very potent experience.
Here is the average r/trees high for five forms of cannabis, on a scale of 1-10:
- Smoking: [6.8]
- Vaping: [6.7]
- Edibles: [7.2]
- Dabbing: [7.8]
- Butane hash oil: [7.2]
So in terms of intensity of a high, the crowdsourced data puts dabbing at the top—which isn’t especially surprising since dabbing typically involves heating up and inhaling concentrated, high-THC cannabis extracts. Vaping appears to produce the least intense high on average.
(For the record, the researchers distinguished between dabbing and BHO products, which are commonly used to dab, because of differences in terminology; one is a method, the other refers to products.)
Of course, more people are getting into dabbing as more states have legalized marijuana in some form, giving many users a greater product selection. Dabbing also may be increasingly attractive, the study authors wrote, because “it requires fewer ‘hits’ and produces stronger effects.”
The new study of Reddit posts also examined adverse effects of cannabis consumption, such as anxiety, coughing, nausea, vomiting and memory problems.
In general, the researchers found that “very few adverse effects were reported,” and the study showed that “there were no statistically significant differences in adverse effect term occurrence across products,” based on the subreddit post analysis.
But since r/trees is an online community that generally celebrates cannabis and promotes legalization of the plant, it’s not entirely surprising that there weren’t a large number of posts focusing on potential negative affects of marijuana.
Accordingly, researchers also examined other keywords frequently included in Reddit posts, and found evidence that first-time cannabis consumers seek out r/trees and its resident ents as a source of good information about how to have a fun and safe experience.
“The frequent occurrence of the word ‘first’ for vaping, dabbing, and edibles indicate that many posters are using or considering using for the first time,” they wrote. “With diverging medical and scientific opinions regarding the efficacy and safety of cannabis use, new and experienced cannabis users may be seeking out peer-generated information in online communities and social media about these newer forms of use.”
Why this study matters
“Analysis of social media data has been used to complement other epidemiologic methods as a strategy for understanding emerging trends in real time with limited social desirability or recall bias,” the study authors noted. “Despite the limited ability to determine the representativeness of creators of social media content and thus inform generalizability, social media data analysis can uncover behaviors not captured in traditional surveillance and inform terminology and emerging behaviors that larger scale health surveys may wish to incorporate.”
And that’s exactly what this study did—leverage data from a unique and popular social media site to paint a different kind of informative picture of the emerging marijuana landscape.
Washington Governor: ‘We’ve Got The Best Weed’
Washington State’s governor is proud of his state’s legal marijuana.
“I can honestly say, we’ve got the best weed in the United States of America,” Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said on Friday night. “It’s a growing industry, and well-regulated.”
Inslee was speaking during an appearance on Bill Maher’s HBO show, Real Time.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the first time Donald Trump said something that was actually true, if he said he would leave us alone on our marijuana decriminalization?” he added, referring to recent reports that President Trump is preparing to support cannabis reform legislation. “And I hope that that will occur.”
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if the first time Donald Trump said something that was actually true, if he said he'd leave us alone on our marijuana decriminalization?" Watch Gov. @JayInslee on last night's #RTOvertime: 420 Edition. pic.twitter.com/6J9oxEKJEU
— Real Time (@RealTimers) April 21, 2018
But Inslee and Washington have some competition: Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu has recently been bragging about how “amazing,” “wonderful” and “awesome” his own state’s legal cannabis is.
This new study of all 50 states shows California is ranked second (behind Hawaii) in life expectancy of its residents. California also has one of the lowest rates of dying young. https://t.co/4yD79OGdCl
And let's not forget: California has Disneyland, Yosemite & amazing cannabis
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 10, 2018
Actually, California has now grown to the 6th largest economy in the world. We have a budget surplus. Of all the 50 states, CA ranks second highest in life expectancy after Hawaii.
And our voter approved, regulated #cannabis is wonderful.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 15, 2018
Earlier during Friday’s show, Maher delivered a monologue urging Democrats to adopt an increased political focus on marijuana.
Photo courtesy of Jay Inslee.