As we inch towards a fully weed-legal nation, more and more minds are mellowing to the idea and even becoming excited at its potential. However, in the spirit of discernment, an increasingly accepting public keeps one caveat close at hand -- we still don’t know enough about its effects. While it’s true that illegal status has hindered the extent to which we’ve been able to study cannabis for the last century, a new report from Salon says that, in fact, we may know more about cannabis than many other drugs currently prescribed in the US. It’s true that in recent years there has been an exponential uptick in the number of cannabis studies, but this increase doesn’t preclude an extensive body of research that has grown over decades. This sits against opponents of medical legalization, who point to a lack of long-term study required of all pharmaceuticals pending FDA approval. To counter that, the article points to analysis from the Journal of Canadian Medical Association which sites little evidence of adverse effects in 30 years of use. That long-term enough for ya? 

While this kind of evidence refutes the point in an intellectual and scientific way, we can count on youthful indiscretion, or perhaps sheer stupidity, to set the movement back a few steps. As extracts rapidly gain popularity across the US, we’re seeing an increasing number of home extraction accidents that link cannabis with chemical explosions and horrific injury. Recently, the epidemic of botched home extractions reached Brooklyn. NY Daily News reported that a teen couple committed the classic butane extraction no-no of lighting a cigarette in a your home lab. Both survived but sustained severe burns. In a subsequent article on the Daily Beast HIGH TIMES editors Bobby Black and Danny Danko reiterated the downfalls of home butane extraction, which should be common sense to all people able to recognize the urgency of a “Flammable” label. Yet, we will likely continue to see the explosion trend continue. Simply put, the unbridled popularity of BHO is growing faster than the overall intelligence level of its potential consumer base. 

While non-legalized states continue to deal with the hazards of misinformation, Denver is adeptly prepping both the commercial entities and the consumers, who are all counting down to New Year’s Day with greater anticipation than any previous year. Finally, an American will be able to walk into a store and purchase cannabis without a prescription. 

But as Denver paves the route to a better future, Washington DC strains to shatter the restrictions that have plagued its medical cannabis program since it came into existence three years ago. The municipal bastion of our federal government made the process difficult enough for both patients and dispensaries that only 111 patients have been served by three dispensaries, now languishing from lack of business. But perhaps things won’t stay bad. DC’s city council is actively seeking to expand the number of ailments covered by the city’s medical cannabis program and are also close to passing a bill that would considerably decriminalize possession. Congress is not expected to step in, granted the program is well regulated. At least in this instance, their ineptitude is beneficial. 

But overall…WE’RE WINNING

T. Kid is the author of VICE’s Weediquette column and editor-in-chief of Karmaloop. Follow him on Twitter: @ImYourKid