No to low THC

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Hey I heard some folks in Colorado were trying to change their pot laws. Can I get an update?

—Pueblo Boulder

There were a few concern trolls, calling themselves the Healthy Colorado Coalition, that wanted to put an initiative on the ballot that would do a few things, but the biggest issue was an attempt to keep THC levels in commercial cannabis below 16 percent. This is one of the dumbest ideas ever. Consider this: Most commercially grown cannabis comes in between 15 and 19 percent THC. Some strains get into the low 20s and a rare few will hit 25 percent. Mandating superlow THC content would be like telling boozers that they could only have 3.2 percent alcohol-by-volume beer, none of this crazy 6 percent or 9 percent ABV barley wine. And no hard liquor.

It’s just a dumb idea. I will say this one more time for the folks that don’t pay attention: High THC cannabis is not known to be inherently bad for your health. In fact, smart people will smoke less pot if the cannabis contains a high level of THC; it’s easier on the lungs. And this: Yeah, you got way too high, but did you die? No. There is no known lethal dose of marijuana. Getting too stoned will teach you a lesson the same way a hangover will keep (some of) you from overindulging the booze.

Trying to limit the THC content of pot is just another example of “prohibition through regulation.” Forcing commercial growers to produce bunk weed would go a long way toward a creating a resurgence in Colorado’s black market. Fortunately for us, and for right-thinking people everywhere, Healthy Colorado Coalition couldn’t drum up any support or any money, and, last week, announced that it was going to withdraw the initiative. Yee!

Did I hear right? Is Coalinga on the medical marijuana bandwagon?

—Ray Zen

Yes and no. Last week the Coalinga City Council voted to allow for commercial cultivation of medical cannabis. The council also decided to sell the city’s old, defunct prison to cannabis concentrates manufacturer Ocean Grown Extracts for $4.1 million. According to The Fresno Bee, this sale immediately erased all of Coalinga’s outstanding municipal debt (said to be between 3.3 and 3.8 million bucks) and they had a little bit of money left afterward. Plus, there will soon be 100 more jobs that don’t involve locking up citizens over trivial things. Coalinga still has a ban in place on storefront dispensaries and delivery services, but city officials are looking to have new rules in place this year. How wild and surreal would it be if Ocean Grown had a spot—a former prison, no less—where you could try dabs (and eat food; that prison probably still has a kitchen)? Maybe all that dab smoke will clear away the bad juju from the prison walls.

While I have concerns about the real estate boom that will happen as giant companies look to gobble up prime cannabis cultivation sites, I congratulate Coalinga for being smarter than all of the other towns in Fresno County that have continued to ignore the prosperous new times that await those cities that embrace the cannabis industry.