THC Metabolism in a Nugget

Delta-9 THC starts in the plant as an acid THCa. It is converted by the heat slowly by sun or more quickly otherwise by “decarboxilating” the THC, dramatically increasing the amount of Delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive substance in Cannabis. That’s a pipe full I think.

A happy concert goer or study crammer imbibes. The Delta-9 is metabolized (changed chemically by the body, typically enzymes at work) into Delta-11 THC, short-lived and psychoactive, which then metabolizes to THC COOH, or Carboxy THC. Carboxy THC is fat soluble, meaning it is lipid soluble. It’s like trying to mix oil and water. Not easily done.

Carboxy THC is not water soluble. It is fat soluble. The lipid soluble THC-COOH, the detritus of imbibing, is NOT psychoactive. But, most problematically, the majority of cheap fast drug testing is of urine, and almost universally urine testing looks at the level of THC COOH in urine. So the measurement is of a chemical that dissolves in the fat of the body, and is excreted in urine. It is stored in fat for as long as two months or more. As evidence of recent use, impairment, or anything else beyond the demonstration that the person may have imbibed in the previous month or so it is useless. That is generally not the issue, save possible parole and probation violations for example, where the question really IS “have you imbibed cannabis within the last month or two?”

Delta-8 vs Delta-9 THC

There has been ongoing significant discussion of Delta-8 THC. The questions revolve around whether or not it is illegal. Delta-9 THC is the familiar marijuana THC, and the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in the plant.

Delta-8 THC signifies that something attached to a ring of carbon atoms shifted from one position, #9, to the position next to that, #8. Such a change absolutely can change the properties of the molecule.

We generally agree that if the Delta-8 THC, which occurs in small amounts in the cannabis plant, is extracted from high THC (high levels of Delta-9 THC) cannabis; regular smoking pot, that Delta-8 extract is federally illegal.

Here’s the new rub which fueled the discussion. When the Federal Farm Bill legalized hemp, people began to extract Delta-8 THC from federally legal hemp. Is that then legal Delta-8 THC, knowing that it would be illegal if taken from the regular cannabis plant?

In the case of opium poppies in Colorado, it is generally legal to grow them. It becomes illegal if you harvest them, possess the straws, slit the bulbs, and do the other things in the heroin/opium production process. So can it be argued that Delta-8 THC from hemp is like harvested opium poppies; illegal in spite of the plant being legal?

I think what’s important is first, it is not marijuana, nor is it the familiar Delta-9 THC. Second, it may or may not be legal depending upon source, location, circumstances, and more so third, I’d avoid it personally. I note that NORML officially takes the position as I understand it that Delta-8 is probably illegal and best avoided.

Have I mentioned SPICE? That’s for another blog on another day! Be happy and healthy.

Hug Deprivation Syndrome HDS

With the varying degrees of physical isolation which the world is currently experiencing on the most personal levels, I am concerned about the impact of what I call HDS Hug Deprivation Syndrome  on our mental health and psychological and physical well being.

Personally, I’m a hugging kind of guy. From the now-shelved warm handshake to the hug of love with a friend, it is part of how I’ve related to people over the years. While respecting others boundaries, my leaning is towards contact as appropriate.

I suspect that although the level of the de-physicalization varies with the people, that the the specifics of those boundaries vary with the person, that overall, the norm as we’ve known it was  far far closer than what we now have; closer by masks and feet.

Assuming that many people and animals have a basic need for physical contact, and assuming that the degree of physical contact we are currently living with is a drastic reduction from what we’re used to, what does that mean? It means that there is a most important physical/emotional basic need which has   suddenly become a victim of COVID19.

How can we reduce the impact of this loss? My suggestion is that we increase the amount of hugging among those of us who are locked-down or partially locked-down together.  My wife and I hug. If I get her to buy this theory, we’ll both be getting more hugs from each other.  I think she’s buying it.

That’s actually the easy answer. The challenge is having concrete suggestions for those who have no safe or permitted physical contact. I do find that contact with visuals, like Zoom and Skype, are far better than contact by  modalities which are audio only.

Love & Hugs


How Many Plants Can I grow at home in Colorado? The short answer!

Is there a short answer to the question “how many plants can I grow in Colorado at home?”

“I have a really quick question. How many plants can I grow at home in Colorado?” So many who call expect an answer like “six” or something clear simple and direct. If such an answer existed, I’d happily share it as a “quick phone questions.” That is simply impossible. A real answer not only is not absolutely clear, it also involves a long list of factors. For me to give someone a real answer, a lawyerly answer, takes me generally 2 hours. No quite the 10 minutes people anticipate as a brief question with a quick answer.

The shortest possible answer is “six, comprised of 3 in veg and three flowering.” BUT you are on a lawyer’s website, so you already knew that a very short answer was unlikely if not impossible.

Is the grower a Colorado resident over 21 years old? So far so good.
Now we begin to get to the beginning of a better answer.

Is the grower a renter or subject to HOA rules? If so, those sets of rules and arguments based upon legal interpretations of the lease or HOA regulations need to be considered. A lease clause as simple as “tenant will engage in no illegal behavior” has ended up in court based upon the landlord arguing that federal law still has marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.

Are there any minors living in the house?
Depending upon the County and depending upon what that County and the State of Colorado are currently doing. This can range from “make sure the grow is locked up, secured from any possible access by the minors” to “you are at risk of having the Department of Social Services will remove the minors from the home. This becomes either an issue, or just a potential future risk.

Are you a city dweller, subject to municipal ordinances on growing marijuana, or do you grow in an unincorporated part of a county, subject to the county’s marijuana growing ordinances? The ordinances are generally on line, and generally updated so what you see is current. Of course that is not always true.

One household, two adults, you may be fine at 12 plants, 6 in Veg, 6 flowering. Unless…

One Municipality purports to have a limit on grow size, at 10’ by 10’ along with a plant count limit at 6/12, and finally, 1200 watts limit for lights. I wonder if you get a break if you have some solar or wind boost for the lights. Some Muni ordinances attempt to overcome the Constitutional provision that a person has an affirmative defense (raised at trial) that they medically require a higher plant count. It does appear that 99 plants is a “hard line,” and we are now dealing with the original laws, modified to eliminate “loopholes.” The most common “loophole” was having one grower become a “caregiver” for a number of others, each of whom has a 99 plant medical recommendation. Anything to do with caregivers and extended plant counts is beyond a “short” answer.

Note, to add criminality where it may not be, the Colorado criminal law defines weight differently than the state constitution. Plants are counted differently. While the constitution is clear that an ounce of flower is equivalent to an ounce of hash or an ounce of extract, the criminal law is absolutely inconsistent with that, having a doubling factor for concentrates compared to flower. The penalty for one pound of flower is the same as the penalty for ½ pound of extract or concentrate per Colorado criminal law on marijuana.

I could go on, but I promised a short answer.


Lenny Frieling

Growing at home? Whose home? Can you do it?

If you own the residence in which you are going to grow, you must know if you are controlled (along with the rest of the controlling laws and regulations) if you are in a municipality or in an unincorporated part of a county? Generally, every single city has its own cannabis grow laws, and none of them match.
If you are in a development with an HOA, there will be additional rules controlling what you can and can’t do.

The HOA might even have rules purporting to forbid a home-grow in the controlled neighborhood. Apartments, Section 8, and shared living arrangements can introduce added levels of law, regs, rules, etc.

If someone is renting, are there limitations on growing in their lease? Is their lease even the “Master Lease” or are you leasing from someone who is in turn leasing from someone who is leasing from the owner? Are there any prohibitions anywhere limiting home grows?

Lafayette Colorado, for example, limits the plant count, the size of the grow, and the wattage! No more than 1200 watts!! As an old NJ boy, I feel a twinge in my Thomas Edison tendon. I believe that section of the Lafayette Municipal Code was put in place before various LED options were extant.

Plant count limits apply generally though not consistently to a living unit, a residence unit. That may, or may not, consist of a place to sleep, a bathroom, and a place to cook. Some locations, some cities, define a “residence unit.” Some care about whether it is one of a group of more than one residence located on a single property.

My experience is repetitive in that first, there is never a “quick easy 5 minute answer.” Second, a real answer, worthy of a decent lawyer, takes one to two hours,, and sometimes more. Your lawyer will absolutely need the address of the grow, preferably including the city or county of the location. A google earth picture is helpful. To put together an answer that I am confident with generally takes me the hours, and sometimes there are follow-up questions. Lawyers charge differently of course. I charge hourly.
Lenny Frieling

How are plants counted?


One would think that a plant is a plant is a plant. Of course that may be true in the normal world, but not in the pot world. It’s more like the front of a large store in the spring, where the cost of plants varies with the size, and sometimes with the rack it is on.
With cannabis plants, in Colorado, under state law, plants are counted in at least three different ways depending upon where you look. Constitutionally, a plant is an “immature plant” if it is not flowering, not over 8″ tall, and in a container not more than 8″ by 8″ by 8″, and open at the top. I’m not sure why open at the top matters. Easier for LEOs to measure??
In the 1/1/2018 Colorado Statute, a plant is a not-yet-flowering cannabis plant in a container less that 4″ by 4″ by 4″ and not more than 4″ tall.
Criminally, a plant can be a clone with a root system that has started to develop.
The most basic 6 plant limit consists of 3 plants in veg or mothers, and 3 flowering. Generally flowering means buds are showing at nodes.
So a plant can be anything from a clone with a root system developing to a plant over 8″ in a pot, open at the top, not over 8″ by 8″ by 8″
The complications, as if that was not enough, comes in determining how many plants you can grow, which generally depends on where you are located and which LEO is bothering or busting you.
Lafayette Colorado limits not only count, but also size of grow, as well as total grow wattage! Why leave anything out? They did not prohibit pot businesses in town.

While I’ve run into LEOs that weigh plants they cut down, including some that weigh containers and dirt. That is simply wrong

Random Death Penalty for Pot Possession

Pot carries a random death penalty.

The ones we know of already, including :

raids and killings at the wrong address
raids and killings at the site where pot is found, growing or not
dogs shot during search warrant raids, regardless of the outcome of the search

Pot growing and possession is still beings actively investigated and charged in Colorado.

I if a grow is suspected, the house is raided, contaminating it with infected LEOs without hazmat suits. Note that they’ll wear the HAZMAT PPE if a meth lab is suspected, to protect themselves and neighbors. The cops breath on each other. They breath on the suspects, the suspect’s baby, girlfriend, wife and cats and interior surfaces including cabinets, inside and out. Every knob in the house is handled.

The suspects breath on the cops, without masks and without distance. Ever see a LEO cuffing a suspect from 6.5 feet away, wearing a mask and having had the suspect mask-up and wash hands first Either of them?

When were the cuffs last disinfected? The pistol? The M-16, the back seat of the police cruiser? the holding cell, the counter at the jail control module? the pens in the pen cup on the jail intake counter?

Then, if not bonded, the suspect, still innocent unless proven guilty, is in the HIGH infection risk of the jail. The jail staff did not sign up for this type of life-threatening risk. The State and US Constitution forbids it in numerous ways including violating the presumption of innocence.

SO, to take down a grow, or to investigate a grow or mere possession, LEOs expose entire families, regardless of the outcome of the ultimate case, if there even is a case and conviction. The families, and perhaps their pets, pose a risk of infection to the LEOs.

Please tell me how that makes any sense??

In law, we talk of a “lessor of evils” defense. Is it worse to grow pot or to die doing your job? Is it worse to grow pot or to expose LEOs to a deadly virus? Is it worse to grow pot than it is to expose Sheriffs and other jail personal and other inmates, whether convicted or still presumed innocent, to a random death penalty by torturous germ warfare?


Lenny Frieling

How Many Plants can I Grow in Colorado? Part ONE of a complex issue.

I talk to numerous people weekly with the “same” question. “How many plants can I grow in Colorado?” Most who reach out to me either have initially researched it themselves and not reached any comfortable level of certainty in their answer, while others are starting with reaching out to me.

Most believe that the question has a clear answer, and that the answer will take less than 10 minutes. That is not true. If it were possible, I would happily answer the question during the brief call, without charging for that brief answer.

In fact, the answer is surprisingly complex. I’ll break the areas of concern into a number of blogs, this being part one.

First, is the answer found in one place? No it is not. The Colorado Constitution has part of the answer, and theoretically should be controlling-overriding guidance for Colorado. If only that were so. The other sources of law do not always agree with the Constitutional language. The state criminal law contradicts it. County and municipal ordinances contradict it in many locations. Even the methods of counting plants differ from law to law.

Even if the various sources of laws and regulations agreed, one must consider HOA rules, leases, related overlapping ordinances like odor nuisance ordinances, roommates and the makeup of the household, and whether it is recreational or medical grow. The underlaying paperwork if any also impacts the answer.

In general, to be able to give reasonable advice and guidance with at least some level of confidence has required one to three hours consultation. This is generally split over two meetings.

in PART II I’ll address a basic list of things you can have ready to go to improve the quality of the advice, and to reduce the time it takes to provide the advice.

Because of the changes in the count rules and laws over the last several years, a number of incorrect and high risk strategies for growing larger numbers no longer are “safe harbors.” For example, the strategy of being a caregiver for numerous patients with extended (beyond 6 plants) plant counts has been the target of laws intended to close that “loophole.”

To further complicate the question, different LEOs (law enforcement officers) have different beliefs as to what the laws permit and require. These range from generally right to completely wrong. One can be legally pretty safe technically and still end up swept up by the system under the direction of LEOs with totally confused and incorrect understandings. Some Counties are operating under beliefs which are simply wrong.

Stay healthy!

Vaping Dangers, Deaths, and Strategies

My thoughts on the recent tragic vaping deaths.

  1.    is a good starting point for gaining an understanding of the “vape issue.” Lung disease and deaths are rearing their ugly heads.
  2. For clarity, vaping is done with either a rechargeable battery with a “factory” made cartridge attached, or is a battery (USB charged frequently) attached to a small container containing the ingredients. The gooey contents are heated to temperatures below combustion temperatures. Typical temperatures are in the range of 220 deg. F.  The cartridge, or “cart,” is filled with the viscous liquid which will be heated, producing vapor. The other for of vaping which is common, and which involves vaping only the flower material, uses the rechargeable battery to heat the plant flower in a screened container, producing the vapor, with no extra chemistry from combustion. Since there is no extra chemistry added to the plant material, I suspect that none of the current scare has anything to do with this mode of vape. The “normal” problems with cannabis remain, such as use of inappropriate pesticides.

It appears that as of today (from the lay sources) the deaths and illnesses  may have been caused by heated, vaporized oil in the lungs. This can result from the vape cartridges (“carts”) being filled with the wrong oils, or with the wrong oil additives. So some things perhaps including flavor oils, glycerin, and other viscous oils are used. To vaporize these chemicals, far higher temperatures are required. Since these chemicals are heated but not enough to vaporize them, The lungs can become “gunked up,” and not work properly, leading to severe consequences in some cases. An example of an extreme case involves a heavy user of nicotine “carts,” vapor cartridges, possibly homemade. The negative effects so far appear to be not occurring in carts made in marijuana-legal states (which have chemical purity /content testing as part of their state regulation. Also, I’ve seen no accounts of any problems with regulated commercial cartridges, and none with THC which is tested and controlled, a goal of legalization.

It is theorized that vanilla acetate, or vitamin E, or with some other relatively heavy oil may be the root cause of the (starting)  9/9/2019 spate of horribly tragic vape deaths and lung damage and illness..Those oil, taken in this way,  are oils that appear to be able to kill, apparently because it does not vaporize without very high temps. These temps are far above what is produced by a THC or e-cig vaporizer.

So far the apparent cause of the recent deaths appears to be  solely associated with after-market cartridges, not towards legally produced and regulated cartridges. We should know shortly. Testing of course must be appropriate. Is this perhaps an unintended consequence, with no one having thought of oil in cartridges being a deadly problem? If so, did testing miss it because we did not know to look for it? Probably not, since the illnesses and deaths are not apparently associated with legal regulated tested cannabis.

Again, regulated legalized states are in the best position to protect our citizens from this random death penalty for vaping anything.  Youngsters vaping nicotine is a separate severe danger. Emergency rules can be put in place  as we are already seeing.

My advice: I would be hesitant to use any cartridges that have been laying around.  The older they are, the greater the chance that they might be “pre-regulation.” The older cartridges may have been untested, tested poorly or incompletely or tested too long ago. The more volatile components may have evaporated, leaving the less desirable bigger chain oily molecules in higher percentages.  It would be like burning candle wax or burning jet fuel.   Warning: This part might be stressful. Be calm as you properly dispose of old expensive cartridges.  To me, guessing only, I think that once a cart is 2-3 years old it’s likely both pretty different in appearance (going to golden brown, honey color) and probably the container is not as full. Not good signs generally if safety is a goal.

Also, for anyone with compromised health, like heart issues or other cardio-pulminary or anyone electing caution say heart or the like, now 9/9/2019 might be a good time to avoid vaping products which are home-made. This is especially true of the “cart” originates from a state that is in yet testing and regulating their cannabis products, allowing the labs to do their job. CDC is all over it.

Additionally, since the lethality is apparently not age or health dependent, I would extend my thinking to anyone who is currently vaping either tobacco or THC or any other material. This is a good time to wait and see, not “vape and see.” I suspect that vaping the pure flower alone is far far safer than inhaling what is basically a broad-band distillate of a number of things including cannabis. For “legal and regulated” states, assuming professional work by the various state labs, I would be generally comfortable using vaping products which employ cartridges.

My thinking is that while we are quickly narrowing in on the vector of the health impacts from the “killer vapes,” we do not quite yet know, as of 9/9/2019, at 9 PM EST, just what is causing the deaths. And I did not sign up as an experimental subject. .

If smoking weed is used as an alternative for this short time, a single toke may be quite sufficient. Remember that a joint from the store costs $5 to 10 for a one gram joint. A pair of tweezers (once called roach clips) is a good investment. Pipes are efficient I suspect, if used one hit at a time.

If edibles are substituted, remember the dosing issues, timing issues, and pay attention to the sugar, since so many are high in sugar. They also vary somewhat a great amount, in kick.

If one is to continue vaping, perhaps relying upon only the “legitimate, legal, regulated, and lab tested  cartridges, and paying attention to the expiration dates which I suspect are on the packaging, might be sufficient.





Driving and Odor

Blog smell odor in a car 5/15/2019

Am I staying legal if:

I’m only smoking in my car when I’m not driving.
I’m driving, not smoking. Just my friends in the car are smoking.
I’ve smoked earlier in the day
I’m not smoking, have not smoked, and have bud in the car, mine or otherwise.

The answer is easy.

If the car you’re in has any odor of pot, burning or not, you are not in a good position.
First, if a LEO (law enforcement officer) smells any pot odor, or even claims to smell it, you have a problem instantly.

First, the police-citizen encounter will be extended instead of ending quickly. That’s almost always bad for the driver and passengers.
Second, so much of what people think is not what the cops will testify to or how the cops are trained.
Third, the “Pot Open Container Law” is widely misunderstood and ignored. In short, to carry THC in the car, the rules are almost identical to carrying open alcohol. It must be in the trunk or rear-most compartment. IMO (in my opinion) it should never be carried in a way that leaves any odor in the car. So in addition to not smoking in the car, ever, what is carried in the trunk should be kept in an “O” ring sealed container, such as the Dry Box on Amazon for $15.00.

The Dry Box, for example, will keep the smell of stinky pot completely contained even when kept in a hot trunk for hours. In short, the car should never have any odor of marijuana at any time for any reason. Is this easy? No!

For example, what about the legal, “badged” employee of a legal cannabis grow who is coming home after a day’s work in the greenhouse. Or a day harvesting. That person will emit a strong odor of marijuana, clinging to skin, clothing, etc.

Countless people have, after being pulled over on the road, told LEOs that they smoked “earlier in the day,” thinking that protects them. While the science provides solid support for the level of active delta 9 THC levels in the blood dropping very rapidly, many cases have been prosecuted with “earlier in the day” smoking.

The percentage of DUI pot cases that I’ve seen that involved an odor of marijuana coming from the car or from the passengers is shockingly high. Attempts by the people being investigated to explain the odor (“I smoked hours ago” for example) are almost always harmful to the case.

SUMMARY: You simply cannot smoke in the car, driving or not. The car cannot ever have any smell of cannabis for any reason. With these two simple precautionary steps, the innocent will be in a much better position to present an effective defense, and perhaps more important, will have radically improved their chance of a brief, insignificant LEO interaction on the road.

Remember, in any conversation with the LEO, they have studied and learned their lines. You probably have not done that.

Future blogs will discuss how to proceed if the law enforcement interaction continues.

Travel Safely!

Lenny Frieling