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American Stoner – Comparing Cannabis Culture in Legal vs Prohibited States

Written by Alexandra Hicks
As a real, through and through stoner, California is one of the best states you could possibly live in and I feel blessed to have grown up there. Sure, the golden state’s industry has some flaws, but as a consumer you can find literally anything pot-related, and usually with great convenience and for a fair price. However, as journalist stoner I’m also lucky (if you want to call it that) to be able to experience life in a fully prohibited state – my new home for the time being, Indiana – where I get to learn more about how the market works in states that don’t offer adult-use recreational products and make some interesting comparisons.

Cannabis culture is an interesting subject in the United States and the entire world, and it varies so much based on where exactly you are located. Your stoner experience will be completely different in a state like Colorado as opposed to Alabama. Same with comparing Canada to Israel. To learn more about cannabis around the world, make sure to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter. To learn more about the new exotic cannabinoids, such as Delta 8, Delta 10 THC, THCV and THC-O, subscribe to the Delta 8 Weekly newsletter.

Cultural and Societal Differences

When it comes to personal views on cannabis use, I’ve noticed a huge discrepancy between what the citizens of Indiana feel, and what our politicians enforce. Nearly everyone I have met either uses cannabis products or doesn’t care if other people use them, point being that most people would support legalization as it would improve quality of life for many and bring a lot of money and industry to the state.

As a matter of fact, regional surveys have found that 84% of locals support new and more lenient cannabis regulations. Approximately 39 percent of Hoosiers favor allowing cannabis to be used for any purpose, while 42 percent prefer medical use only to be permitted. Regardless, only 16 percent of Indiana residents support the current laws so suffice it to say, even in Indiana I’m a stoner among stoners.

Unfortunately, the laws are not in favor of what most people here support, they actually happen to be among the most restrictive in the entire country. Many attribute it to Indiana’s reputation of being extremely conservative, more so than other states. Others believe it’s because the state is basically bought and paid for by Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals, a known enemy of cannabis reform who has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against legalization.

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There are some obvious repercussions to prohibition, the main one being that cannabis possession is criminalized so anytime you have it you run the risk of getting arrested. And the penalties are pretty steep here. A first offense, possession up to 30 grams, is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and up to 180 days in jail. If you have priors, you’re looking at class A misdemeanors and even felony charges.

That aside, there are some more subtle differences to living life in one of these states, things you don’t necessarily think about until you experience them. For example, I noticed this when I recently took my elderly aunt to the doctor for a pain management appointment. In California, I could be very candid with doctors about cannabis use and we could have a real discussion – like adults – about the benefits of cannabinoid therapy for different conditions, if it could possibly interact with any prescription medications, and if there are any risks. In Indiana, we had to stay quiet on the subject.

Another area of concern is worrying about what my kids might say that could get me in trouble. A lot of people in the industry remember the story of Shona Banda, the mother from Kansas who got arrested and lost custody of her child after he mentioned at school that she was using cannabis medicinally to treat her Crohn’s Disease. The school contacted authorities, who went to her house and turned her world completely upside down. This is definitely something that has crossed my mind, being in the cannabis industry I’m pretty outspoken with my opinions on the subject, and the fear of my kids accidentally repeating something about it at school and causing an uproar, well, it’s making me seriously consider homeschool.

Product Comparisons

Product quality and availability is a huge downside to living in a prohibition state. Of course, people can still get weed, and usually, you can find good weed in every state, but being a cannabis consumer can be much more challenging in a state like Indiana. Going from having the ability to walk into a licensed dispensary and choose from any number of flower strains, concentrates, edibles, and even specialty products – to being stuck scrambling for buds is a bit of a culture shock. Back home, if a store I went to was out of the product I wanted I simply went to another store; out here, if my dealer is out of bud then I’m out of luck.

But ease of access is not my only gripe. I have definitely noticed a difference in taste and freshness of some strains that I’ve purchased. One in particular that I bought had a perfumy smell to it, I have legit never smelled pot like this before except one time in my life and that was in Texas, other very strict prohibition state. There are numerous different reasons why it could have this aroma, from natural (albeit uncommon) terpene combinations, to pesticides, synthetics, and other contaminants.

One thing I find pretty interesting about the market here is that there seems to be much more demand for alternative THCs and synthetics like Delta 8, Delta 10, and THC-O. While most people in California don’t seem to know much about these products, or have any interest in trying them, they can be found at head shops and smoke shops all over the state. Here you’ll find entire racks full of 3Chi vape carts containing all these different, barely legal or not-yet-on-the-radar cannabinoid compounds.

Price Points

For me, this is the big one. I have a few people that I can get good quality flower from (except for the perfumy bud guy but that was a one-off purchase), but I pay quite a bit more here in Indiana than I did in California. I used to pay $120 per ounce for high mids/low top. Most people can expect to pay an average of $240 per ounce for the same quality. I’ve been lucky and found someone who I can buy from for $175/oz, and I’m sure many other people are finding good deals as well. But across the board, it is usually $200 or more for an ounce of decent flower. For really high-quality stuff, the top-of-the-line strains, you’re looking at well over $300 per ounce.

As far as pricing goes, the way it changes by weight is a bit different too. What I’m used to is that when you buy more, you get a prorated price; so the more you buy the less you pay per unit. For example, a half would cost $75 whereas a full ounce would be prorated to $120. This is pretty standard in California whether you’re buying from a dispensary or a dealer. That is not the case in Indiana and I have yet to find a single dealer that prices this way. It can be annoying at times, but there is a plus side to this, if you’re low on funds are stuck buying less than your normal amount, you don’t have to worry about paying extra for not getting a full ounce.

As far as concentrates go, those are hard to find and way more expensive than on the west coast. I typically buy it by the gram and have been quoted double for live rosin, sugar, and shatter than what I was spending in California, which was about $15-$20 per gram.

Final Thoughts On Being a Stoner in America

You can see the contrast is striking. On one side, you have a flourishing consumer market with every product option and price point your heart desires, with no legal ramifications; and on the other side you’re limited on products, sneaking around and worrying about getting arrested while overpaying for average bud. It’s not ideal, especially being a true stoner coming from a completely unrestricted state, but it’s certainly educational. I know the comparison is focused on California verses Indiana, but it’s safe to assume the differences apply to any legal vs illegal state. And the silver lining here is that no matter where you are in the United States, and regardless of what the laws are there, you can guarantee that it’ll still be relatively easy to find decent flower, even if you have to pay more and work a little harder for it.

Thank you for stopping by CBD Testers, your hub for all things cannabis-related. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one.  

TAGS: cannabis, cannabis industry, stoner, stoner nation, medical cannabis, indiana, california, united states

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About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Managing editor at Cannadelics and U.S based journalist, helping spread the word about the many benefits of using cannabis and psychedelics.