Following in the grand tradition of Esquire magazine’s long-running Dubious Achievement Awards, we here at Leafly have compiled our own list of 2018’s cannabis clowns, bowl-blowers, and mellow-harshers. These are the people and the stories that made a strange year just a little more bizarre.
Start Low, Go Slow, & Buy Your Own
In late January, two Toronto Police constables allegedly consumed infused edibles while on duty. The pair got so high they had to call for assistance after one of them climbed a tree and could not get down. According to CP24, Constables Vito Dominelli and Jamie Young came under investigation by the police service’s Professional Standards Unit for the incident.
To compound the problem: The edibles had been stolen by the officers after a dispensary raid, and a fellow officer slipped and suffered a serious head injury while responding to the cop-up-a-tree call.
Dominelli, a 13-year veteran officer, eventually resigned from the force and pleaded guilty to attempted obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to six months of house arrest.
Best of Luck Wherever You Decide to Coach
In February, Texas Wesleyan University baseball coach Mike Jeffcoat texted a potential recruit and told him that “we are not recruiting players from the state of Colorado. In the past, players have had trouble passing our drug test. We have made a decision to not take a chance on student-athletes from your state. You can thank your liberal politicians. Best of luck wherever you decide to play.”
A few days later, the university fired Jeffcoat over the obnoxious text.
Invest in a Better Battery, Buddy
In February, the owner of a vape pen disassembled the unit while packing his suitcase to avoid sparking a fire. When the battery passed through an X-ray device in the TSA checkpoint at Denver International Airport, it sparked a fire, forcing the evacuation of the entire terminal. Whoops.
Last Week He Spoke at the Hairy Palms Assembly
In Canada, a York Regional Police officer “misspoke” when he repeated the long-discredited myth that cannabis use leads to breast growth in males.
As the officer told an assembly of high school students: “Doobies make boobies.” The officer made up studies that “suggests that marijuana lowers your testosterone,” and claimed that “we’re finding 60% of 14-year-olds are developing ‘boobies’.”
Um, science says no.
Or Maybe Let Them Retire as Pets?
In May, the training director of a police K-9 academy in Illinois declared that if the state were to legalize adult-use cannabis, law enforcement agencies would have to euthanize “a number” of their cannabis-sniffing dogs.
There are approximately 275 trained narcotic K-9s in Illinois, with each costing the department thousands of dollars. Replacing the dogs would cost millions, and Chad Larner, the director of Maron County’s K-9 Training Academy, said retraining the dogs would be “extreme abuse.”
“At this point, they’re trained on five different odors,” explained the Normal Police Department’s assistant police chief, Steve Petrilli, a former K-9 handler. “Once they’re programed with that, you can’t just deprogram them.”
Leafly looked into what happened to drug dogs in other states after legalization, and our reporting found that the risk of euthanasia has been greatly exaggerated.
Mom Runs a Cannabis Farm, Ya Jerk
Shortly after the first Massachusetts cannabis stores opened in November, the Springfield, MA, YMCA sent home a “Notice on Marijuana” to parents.
“There have been several complaints about parents, guardians and other adults smelling of marijuana entering and leaving our YMCA,” the youth development director wrote. “Staff at the YMCA have smelled some of you out and have been instructed to document instances of anyone suspected of being under the influence.”
The note put parents on warning: Anyone smelling like weed will be reported to the Department of Children and Families and the local police.
After the note caught fire on social media, the Y issued a retraction. The note “wasn’t really the message we were shooting for,” said the president of the Springfield Y.
Not a Member of the Springfield Y
At the Cannabis Media Summit in New York City in December, Boston Globe reporter Dan Adams, the paper’s first reporter dedicated to the cannabis beat, gave the keynote speech dressed in a suit and tie.
“I was just noticing that my suit has a slight odor,” he said. “I was touring a cannabis grow a couple days ago. And it made me realize: If my suit doesn’t smell like weed, I’m not doing my job.”
Pucker Up, Habs
When the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC) revealed its new brand logo earlier this year, officials with the provincial cannabis seller didn’t get the response they hoped for. But did no one on staff notice the logo’s uncanny resemblance to, ah, the below-deck aperature?
I love the fact that the SQDC logo looks like a booty hole pic.twitter.com/szZwkS1k0U
— home of faux brick (@lepettyprince) October 17, 2018
They’re Just Numbers, Right?
When the lab equipment at Sequoia Analytical Labs, a Sacramento, CA, cannabis testing facility, started to malfunction over the summer, lab director Marc Foster faced a choice: Shut down production and fix the machine, or just start piping the data? He chose the latter.
Things went along swimmingly for months. Then a state regulator showed up for a normal calibration test. The state official quickly noticed the problem. Confronted with the regulator’s suspicions, the lab director folded like a cheap tent.
“He flat-out told them, ‘I faked it,’” according to Steven Dutra, Sequoia’s general manager. Dutra fired Foster the next day. Dutra said he has no idea why Foster faked the reports. The testing equipment wasn’t working, and Foster told the company, “I just kept thinking I was going to figure it out the next day,” according to Dutra.
We Call it ‘Flightseeing’
In December, the Vermont State Police announced that they had disbanded a decades-old program that used helicopters to spot illicit cannabis grows from the sky. The curious thing was this: Vermont officially legalized cannabis back in January. So what exactly were the State Police doing for 10 months?
Just Following the Evidence
In August, BuzzFeed news reported that the Trump administration had formed an anti-cannabis committee that was soliciting 15 federal agencies for data on the negative effects of marijuana reform laws, including legalization. According to BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden, a “Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee” told the agencies via email to submit “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” about marijuana and the “threats” it poses to the country.
Two months later, officials at the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy assured Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet that the committee would be objective and dispassionate in its examination of state legalization.
Elon Had a Rough Year (Part I)
Tesla founder Elon Musk ran afoul of the Securities & Exchange Commission by tweeting his intention to take the company private at a price of $420 per share. (A few days later he withdrew the statement.)
Weeks later, the SEC filed civil enforcement charges against the Tesla titan. “We allege Musk arrived at the price of $420,” said an SEC official, “by assuming a 20 percent premium and rounding up to $420 because of its significance in marijuana culture and his belief his girlfriend would be amused by it.”
Elon Had a Rough Year (Part II)
Musk made the dubious decision to appear on the Joe Rogan Podcast in September. Near the end of a free-wheeling conversation, Rogan offered Musk a lit joint. The Tesla CEO accepted and proceeded to hit the doob in a manner… well… it was kind of like watching Rowan Atkinson comically mime the act. And thus, one of 2018’s most popular memes was born.
Elon Had a Rough Year (Part III)
Here’s the thing about hitting a doob on video. When you or I do it, nobody cares. When you run a space exploration company that relies on federal contracts, and those federal contracts come with stringent Drug-Free Workplace stipulations, a lot of people care. After seeing the Joe Rogan video, officials at NASA announced they were launching an investigation into SpaceX, Musk’s rocket ship startup, to make sure those drug-free rules were being followed.
It’s an Educational Film, Really
In July, San Francisco-based XBlaze Productions announced the production of the world’s first CBD porn film. “XBlaze Productions is bringing the benefits of CBD Oil and Cannabidiol to its onscreen erotic adventures,” the company announced.
Derrick Pierce stars as an MMA fighter making a comeback after struggling with heroin addiction. Pierce’s onscreen girlfriend, played by Tana Lea, is concerned about his pain management and eventually discovers CBD and its potent healing powers.
“The new XBlaze scene is aimed at educating people about the healing powers of CBD,” the company stated in a press release.
‘Bro, Is This One of Those CBD Strains?’
Staff at the Native Roots store in Colorado Springs don’t leave real cannabis in the display cases. They use oregano. But nobody told the thieves who pulled off a smash-and-grab operation in late September.
After ramming a stolen van through the front window, a group of teens burglarized the store, then departed in a separate getaway car. Fortunately, it was 1 a.m. and nobody was hurt. The van was abandoned inside the store. The thieves escaped scot-free. THC-free, as well.
Meanwhile, in Florida (Part I)
In September, authorities in the Florida counties of Volusia, Flagler, and St. John’s reported that swimmers and sunbathers were finding bales of cannabis washed up on the Atlantic coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
In Volusia County, word got out and things grew heated. “We’re at Jungle Hut Park and a huge bundle of drugs just washed up on the beach and there are people like fighting over it,” reported a caller to 911.
Huge marijuana bundles are washing up on Florida beaches after hurricane Florence, and swimmers are fighting over them https://t.co/Ej3dYKKxUopic.twitter.com/Pytzwo6Tjr
— National Post (@nationalpost) September 18, 2018
Sheriff’s deputies arrived and arrested a man who was holding 11 pounds (wet) of cannabis. The man assured authorities “he was holding it for law enforcement’s arrival.”
Meanwhile, in Florida (Part II)
In December, police in Port St. Lucie, FL, said a 23-year-old man went through a McDonald’s drive-thru and tried to pay for his order with a bag of marijuana.
Port St. Lucie police said the fast food worker denied the trade and Anthony Andrew Gallagher drove off, only to return again a short time later. Police arrested him Sunday on charges of cannabis possession and driving under the influence.
Police were alerted to Gallagher’s offer early Sunday morning and got a description of him from the worker. They say a suspect matching his description went through the drive-thru a little while later and police approached him.
Rebuilding Trust, One Customer at a Time
In August, Wells Fargo fired Florida politician Nikki Fried—running for state agriculture commissioner—and closed her account after learning that she received campaign donations from medical marijuana companies, which are legal and state-licensed in Florida.
Wells Fargo took the action while in the midst of a branding campaign known as “Re-Established,” which focuses on rebuilding consumer trust after revelations that the bank defrauded customers by opening 3.5 million fake accounts and charging customers for them. Fried won, by the way, and will be sworn in on Jan. 8.
And in Two Years Those Plants Will Probably Be Legal
When Pennsylvania state police came across 10 cannabis plants on state game lands, the man suspected of growing them, 51-year-old Gregory Longenecker, fled the scene.
Officers arrested a second man, but rather than ask him about Longenecker’s whereabouts, police quickly commandeered a Pennsylvania Game Commission bulldozer and gave chase. Before long, police lost sight of the man. They stopped the bulldozer and soon spotted his body—apparently crushed to death by the machine during the chase.
One local NORML representative estimated the value of the 10 plants at less than $5,000. Another asked, “What was so hard about asking the guy you had in custody what his buddy’s name is?”
Giving New Meaning to ‘Baked Lobster’
In Maine, the owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound hit upon a brilliant marketing scheme and humanitarian gesture. Kind of. In September, Charlotte Gill announced that she would be giving cannabis to bound-for-boil lobsters by piping smoke into their holding tank. (Adult-use cannabis is legal to possess, but not sell, in Maine.)
Gill and her staff tested the concept and claimed the lobsters were calmed by the infused atmosphere. A bit of sedation on the way to the steamer, if you will. They even checked to make sure the prepared meal didn’t affect the human consumer. “Gill’s 82-year-old father is the test subject, and so far he hasn’t tested positive for THC after consuming the [infused lobster’s] body and tail,” the Boston Globe reported.
Problem: The local health department found out and reminded Gill that “medicating” the lobsters ran afoul of the Maine Food Code. Gill quickly put the project on ice.
Canada: ‘Makes Perfect Sense to Us.’
Canada released a report on legal weed today. The authors needed a way to compare the maximum size of a licensed “micro-cultivation” area.
And lo, in all its Canadian glory: pic.twitter.com/6LXInrOzuX
— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) March 19, 2018
We See Melissa McCarthy in the Lead Role
In November, federal prosecutors charged five North Carolina postal workers with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and theft of mail. Allegedly, five workers at the Fayetteville, NC, processing and distribution annex conspired to sell cannabis from parcels they intercepted and removed from the mail stream. The caper went on for six months, from October 2017 through February 2018.
‘Mate, You’re in the Shot!’
Local UK news reporter Cameron Tucker was reporting live from the scene of a cannabis grow house bust in a countryside village when an unexpected character photobombed his shot. A man carrying a sizeable cannabis plant turned a corner, caught sight of the camera, and began sprinting down the sidewalk, potted herb in hand. Tucker gamely carried on with his report.
Constables tallied 88 cannabis plants growing in the thatched cottage. It remained unclear whether the sprinter carried away #89.