All THC Is Not Created Equal

Since the onset of expanded legalization, cannabis research has exploded. More and
more government and scientific entities have access to our favorite plant and it is changing the way we look at our highs. CBD has taken the world by storm, loved by medical patients and housewives alike. And with it, we have learned about even more minor cannabinoids like CBG (cannabigerol) and CBN (cannabinol), the more uplifting and sedating cousins to CBD, respectively. But what about the O.G. cannabinoid, THC? What have we learned about
Tetrahydrocannabinol in recent years? As it turns out researchers have learned a lot; there are a number of different versions of THC and each one affects you a bit differently. As such, if you’re more interested in the recreational side of cannabis, it can be beneficial to know just what iteration of THC you’re about to interact with.

THC, from A to V

At the core of getting high in the conventional sense is Tetrahyrodcannabinol, or THC. This is the cannabinoid that stoners have been familiar with for decades. It is what gives you the
“psychoactive” high of cannabis, what makes electronic music tolerable and fast food some of the most gourmet stuff you’ve ever tasted. When it is not being used for hilarity and recreational fun, THC is consumed by millions for therapeutic and medical reasons. THC is the reason we all found pot and why we are interested in learning more about it. And it’s only the beginning.

On the analytics label of your cannabis, you will often see a different type of THC, Tetrahydrocannabolic acid, or THC-A. THC-A is the precursor to THC and is found in
abundance in freshly harvested weed. While THC-A slowly converts to THC while being dried, it still exists in raw bud that is purchased. So to help it along, THC-A is heated up to just over 200 degrees with a lighter or in your oven, causing it to decarboxylate and become its more fun cousin. THC-A when consumed unaltered is non-psychoactive and in a lot of ways, has effects more similar to CBD than actual THC. It is most often utilized for its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.

At the other end of the spectrum is THC-V (tetrahydrocannabivarin). Derived from primarily African landrace strains, THC-V is still being researched even though we have known about it for decades. As such, there is still a lot of debate about this cannabinoid. Many believe that THC-V is highly psychoactive while other studies suggest that it is only about a quarter as potent as THC. The current prevailing theory is that THC-V’s psychoactivity is exponentially compounding depending on how much is consumed. One thing that all the research tends to agree on is that THC-V is an appetite suppressant. So, if you are someone who is prone to the munchies, seeking out strains high in THC-V may be beneficial for you. Additionally, medical patients may seek out THC-V to help find relief to anxiety, Alzheimers and diabetes.

THC by the Numbers

Most of the time, the only numbers we have to deal with when it comes to cannabis are
the percentages on the back and the price tags. But there are a whole slew of “numbered” THC types as well. The primary of which is Delta-9 THC (Δ-9). This is the “conventional” THC that you consume. The Delta in these names refers simply to the structure of these particular THC molecules, so don’t be too concerned that Δ-9 sounds like a government issued pesticide.

The second most common THC structure is Δ-8. It is a partially degraded form of THC
that has become more prominent around the cannabis marketplace in recent years. You can most easily think of Delta-8 THC as the “light beer” of THC. Δ-8 has about 20% of the
psychoactive potency of Δ-9 THC. As a consequence, it produces highs that are more gentle and manageable than some of the more intense psychoactivity of high Δ-9. Since Delta-8 THC still has the same therapeutic properties that are associated with Δ-9 THC, Δ-8 functions as a good option for users who are looking for the medicinal aspects of cannabis, without the impairment.

While Delta 8 and 9 are the most common molecular structures of THC, Δ-10 has
recently emerged as another isomer worth noting. Delta-10 is a by-product of the concentrate and extraction process of cannabis. A crystallized version of THC, Δ-10 occurs during distillation. Not much is known about this compound, as for many years, extractors misidentified the compound as CBC or CBL. While there is still a lot of research to be done on the effects of Delta-10, most current anecdotal evidence suggests that Δ-10 produces high energy in its consumers.

The final THC compound worth noting is 11-Hydroxy-THC. This is the metabolic
byproduct of consuming cannabis orally. Whereas most cannabis we enjoy is processed
through the lungs into the bloodstream, edibles pass through the GI tract and the liver to be
broken down. This process and subsequent conversion into 11-Hydroxy-THC is what causes edibles to last longer and feel more potent than your average joint. It is essential to be aware of this compound transformation as it allows us to better articulate why exactly eating cannabis is so much more intense than just smoking it.

Through understanding all of the different incarnations of THC, we are learning how to
better dictate our highs. We can provide both ourselves and other users with the right
experience for them to best appreciate cannabis and what it can do for your life. For a while
after legalization, it seemed that pot had just become too strong at the behest of the general public’s preferences. But as we learn more and more about it, we are understanding that not only is there a strain for everyone, there is a specific cannabinoid for everyone as well. Highs are much more controllable than you think. You just need to do a bit of research.

TJ Gagnier is a cannabis writer and industry professional in the Pacific Northwest. Originally a smoker of California medical, TJ is a 2-time cannabis cup judge and cannabis educator that has loved every moment of making a career out of medicating. When he’s not reviewing cannabis, he helps his partner tend to their 100+ houseplants and enjoys watching Formula 1 racing.

It All Started With A Bhang!

This week was an important week for over 60,000 Missouri patients and counting.  It has literally been almost 2 years since voters approved an amendment to our state’s constitution to allow patients with chronic debilitating conditions to be able to possess, consume, grow, and purchase cannabis from licensed dispensaries.  Well… it’s finally here. Cannabis is finally legally available for sale in Missouri.  And somehow I have a late start on today of all days.  I doubt many other patients had that same problem.   I knew they didn’t hit their snooze button 3 too many times.  I imagine some patients waking up looking at the clock every 15 minutes starting around 730am, wondering if it’s time yet.  

Or at least not the ones I knew who were already waiting, lined up around the block, at the first dispensary to open up in the KC area. 

St Louis had their moment a few days before.  But this was our time.  Today was the day it finally became real.  Sure, I have a piece of paper from an office I’ve never been to, saying that someone official says it’s ok for me to grow a couple plants in my basement.   

But this is different…  

There is now a place that you can go to to purchase medical marijuana.  It’s been hard to ignore all the excitement coming from everyone I’ve talked to recently.   No more wondering why the weed guy isn’t hitting you back after you messaged them 10 times.  Maybe you should call again, I’m sure they’ll pick up this time.  

Reality is always less glamorous though.  Most have built this day up so much that it is going to be tough for anyone to live up to these expectations, realistic or otherwise.  Selection is limited, THC % isn’t what most were hoping for, and not to mention its $60 for an eighth and you can only get an eighth without hopping back in line.  I would argue most already knew this was going to be the case though.  Most knew we were going to have a rough start, but that it’s going to be ok because things are guaranteed to get better.  

So, let’s just mark this date on the calendar as a historic day for Missouri cannabis patients and reminisce, reflect, and nerd out for a little.   Let’s take it back….like waaaaaaaaaay back.

Most cannabis history buffs agree that cannabis has been used for thousands of years to treat certain ailments.  But it was a simple drink in India made from almonds, milk, honey, and cannabis, that led to the  first studies of the medicinal properties of marijuana documented in Western Medicine.  All of this was started by a drink called Bhang.

Medical marijuana has roots that date back to the mid 1800’s when a young Edinburgh graduate who had gained recognition as a clever chemist named William O’Shaughnessy traveled to India where he took a position at the Medical College Hospital in Calcutta.  O’Shaughnessy, who sought to learn everything possible about the colony, and eventually turned his attention to studying a unique aspect of India’s cannabis culture.  He was surprised at how many people were openly drinking the cannabis drink known as Bhang.  

In India, cannabis has been used to treat certain ailments by adding it to food and drinks for hundreds of years and is a feature of Hindu religious practices, rituals, and festivals — including the popular spring festival of Holi.  Bhang is probably one of the oldest nutritional foods, and drinks in the world still regularly used today. 

Even though it was tolerated in India, cannabis use was still very illegal and uncommon back in England.  British colonials looked at the drug with suspicion and feared that cannabis could cause murderous madness and become a threat to colonial power after reading about “lunatic asylums filled with ganja smokers” in the local papers.

While studying the health benefits and cultural significance of Bhang, O’Shaughnessy wrote “To forbid or even seriously restrict the use of so holy and gracious an herb as the hemp would cause widespread suffering and annoyance,” the report said. “It would rob people of solace in discomfort, of a cure in sickness, of a guardian whose gracious protection saves them from attacks of evil influences.” 

In his report, O’Shaughnessy does refer to the consumption of cannabis as a “vice,” however he also notes that the effect of Bhang intoxication is “of the most cheerful kind, causing the person to sing and dance, to eat food with great relish, and to seek aphrodisiac enjoyments.”

So naturally O’Shaughnessy decided to participate in these experiments to understand the effects of cannabis first-hand.  While at Medical College Hospital, O’Shaughnessy also recruited patients to be part of what some would call the first clinical marijuana experiments of modern Western medicine.  These experiments validated folk uses of cannabis in India, discovered new applications, and ultimately recommended cannabis for a great variety of therapeutic purposes.  In articles published between 1839 and 1843, he details the results of his research into the potential of cannabis to treat seizures, rheumatism, and cholera.   O’Shaughnessy established his reputation by successfully relieving the pain of rheumatism and stilling the convulsions of an infant with cannabis.

By the 1894 publication of the British government’s Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, the notion that cannabis caused murderous madness had been mostly put to rest.   Until you fast forward a couple decades to when Harry Anslinger rekindled the war on cannabis…but that’s another story, for another time.

While we wait for dispensaries, who will eventually be filling their menus with exotic strains and carrying something better than what I can grow in my basement, we can look back and reflect on how we got here.  It kinda started with a drink.  A drink that may not be available at most dispensaries.  So if you want to try something new or if you just need something to hold you over, give this recipe I found at Leafly.com a try.

If you’d like to try bhang yourself, here is a common bhang recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • Up to 1/2 ounce of fresh cannabis leaves and flowers
  • 3 cups warm milk
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground fennel
  • 1/2 tsp ground anise
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp rosewater
  • 1/2 cup honey or sugar
  • Rose petals, mint leaves, chopped almonds or pistachios to garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat water to a rapid boil, then remove from heat and add the cannabis plant material. Steep for about seven minutes.
  2. Strain cannabis leaves and flower from water using a muslin cloth. Squeeze the plant matter until all liquid has been removed. Collect the water and set it aside.
  3. Put the leaves and flowers into a mortar and pestle with 2 teaspoons of warm milk. Slowly but firmly grind the leaves and milk together, then squeeze the flowers to extract the milk. Continue this process until you have used about ½ cup of milk. Save the extracted milk.
  4. Add chopped almonds, pistachios, rose petals, mint leaves or any other garnishes to your mortar and pestle, along with more warm milk. Grind until a fine paste is formed. Collect the extract and discard any additional nut fibers or residue.
  5. Combine all the liquids together, and add garam masala, ginger, fennel, anise, cardamom, and rosewater. Add honey (or sugar) and the remaining warm milk.
  6. Mix well, chill, serve, and enjoy.

Disclaimer – The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician and qualified professional regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives for cannabis’s medical/recreational use.

The Doctor Will See You Now…

Somehow I am amazed when I run into someone who is still trying to tell me that cannabis is illegal in Missouri.  The otherwise seemingly nice lady even continued to argue with me as I showed her my patient card (that I laminated myself), and a brochure about how she could become a patient.  “You’re out of your mind!”  

Granted…the brochure I had looked more legit than the “cards” we get from DHSS, especially when you’re talking to someone that doesn’t believe the program even exists in the first place. So I have to be a little understanding when a boomer goes off on the bearded and tattooed 30-something trying to tell her that the plant that she has been told for decades that is just as dangerous as crack or heroin, is now legal for people to consume.  What has this world come  to?!

I live out in the country, so honestly these types of run-ins are not all that uncommon for me.  Not just with cannabis, but on a number of subjects that I’m just not going to go into here.  I am regularly reminded that outside the major metros, Missouri is still very rural and some of my neighbors may not always be up on current events.  

At this point in my life, I’ve lived downtown, in the suburbs, and way out in the country.  I will say living in the country, away from the busy day to day grind of the city, is peaceful and a great place to raise a family.  It is also not without its inconveniences.  Getting anywhere, including groceries or gas, becomes a commute.  Cellular signal is shotty in some places so you tend to pick your carrier based on who has the best coverage where you live.  Not to mention the limited selection of restaurants or bars to choose from.  But that’s easy for most of us to get used to.

It is particularly rough on patients with mobility or transportation issues.  In most cases, a specialist may not be anywhere close to where they live.  Its for these reasons Missouri made some fairly progressive changes to their healthcare system in the hopes of helping patients living in rural Missouri.

In 2016 Missouri signed SB579 into law establishing new telemedicine practice standards, including explicitly allowing a valid physician-patient relationship to be established via telemedicine.  Long before that Missouri passed a law that allowed nurse practitioners to operate their own practice under the supervision of a licensed physician.  Both with the intent of making sure all of Missouri residents have access to proper healthcare services no matter where they live.  Sounds like a great cause, right?  That’s why I was surprised when earlier this year there was an effort to take away telemedicine, specifically for Missouri patients seeking access to medical marijuana. 

Luckily, that amendment died a swift death.  

So what is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is a service that makes it possible for doctors to meet with patients on any smart device with video capability and good signal by means of real-time, live-video technology.  According to a survey by Software Advice, 75% of the respondents were interested in trying telemedicine.  Another study conducted by the Affiliated Workers Association showed that more than 60% of doctor visits are now handled over the phone.  Throw a pandemic into the equation and it’s not surprising that most patients are preferring real-time telemedicine over conventional face-to-face doctor evaluations.  Missouri doctors are, now more than ever, taking advantage of this technology to be able to see patients looking to become certified for the medical mariajuana program.

Kind Remedy, a patient certification clinic based out of Independence Mo, offers medical marijuana telemedicine services to patients as a way of improving patient access, by bringing medical marijuana health care services to previously under-served, rural and urban communities all across Missouri.  Patients with qualifying conditions are able to be evaluated and certified for Missouri’s medical marijuana program from the safety and comfort of their own home. 

Convenience

With so much already going on in one’s life, sometimes it becomes impossible to fit in a trip to the doctor’s office, and will often get put off in hopes that things will improve on their own or just go away.  (guilty!)  As I mentioned before, getting the proper healthcare can become an issue for patients when they have to travel greater distances to get access to medical facilities or specialists.  With telemedicine, patients can easily overcome these barriers.  

Telemedicine makes it possible to see a doctor while sitting in traffic, while you’re waiting for your kids soccer practice to let out, or even while you’re cooking dinner (not really recommended).  Regardless, the idea is to increase access by using a simple technology many of us already use regularly or have had to rely on recently during the pandemic.  With a video call, patients can get evaluated from the medical marijuana doctors or other specialists without affecting other priorities.

How does it work?

With telemedicine, the process of getting certified for cannabis use couldn’t be easier.  Patients are able to schedule their appointment on Kind Remedy’s website by filling out a short patient questionnaire, uploading any necessary medical records, and picking a time and date that works best for them.  If patients are unsure about how to get a copy of your medical records, or need application assistance, they have a team that will happily assist you.  

Once patients have completed and submitted your patient intake form, they receive a videochat link via email and/or text message that can be accessed through your computer, tablet, or smartphone. On the day of your appointment, you simply click the link to enter a virtual waiting room where you will wait to meet with the doctor. When it comes time for your appointment, you will be connected to one of their physicians through a video conference where they will review your medical records, discuss medical marijuana treatment, and write your certification.  With that certification, you will then have everything you need to register as a Missouri medical marijuana patient! 

Anyone who is considering adding medical marijuana as part of their current treatment plan is encouraged to call or text Kind Remedy at 816-379-6557 and learn how they can help or simply press the Get Started button at the top of their website.  

~Cheers!

What NOT to do When Visiting a Dispensary

The question I see more often than anything else online from Missouri medical marijuana patients is “When are dispensaries going to be open?!”  Unfortunately, license winners are at the mercy of the predetermined time line outlined in the amendment.  There isn’t a lot for most of us to do except maybe fire up the grow tent to hold us over and dream about the day when we can finally enter a dispensary and see walls of well light display cases lined with elegant little glass jars filled with all the different varieties of beautiful buds or concentrates for our eyes to feast on.  

Whether you prefer fruity or diesel terpenes, edibles or flower, topicals or tinctures, or concentrates.  Oh yes, the concentrates; solventless, CO2 extraction, rosin, wax, shatter, butter crumble, sugar, or diamonds and sauce.  If you happen to find yourself behind me in line at the dispensary, just know that I will be taking my time and trying to look at every product on the shelf until the helpful budtender behind the counter starts to get annoyed…then just let me see that Sour Diesel one last time while I end up settling on the first thing I looked at. (more on this later)

Until that day, what can we do?  Well for many Missouri patients, it will be their first time stepping foot inside a legal dispensary.  The number of selections and options may be dizzying for some to take in all at once. What’s the etiquette inside a dispensary?  What can I expect when I get there?  I know that’s what I was thinking my first time I visited a dispensary.  I got quite a few looks and chuckles from the more experienced locals who could tell I was new to this.  If there are such things as dispensary faux pas, I might have done them all.  After a fleeting, mildly embarrassing moment, they were nice enough to explain the ins and outs of what is considered the norm when visiting a dispensary.  Allow me to share a few things I learned the hard way so you don’t have to go through the same thing I did. 


Don’t think you know everything.

Ask questions…and lots of them!  Cannabis is a new thing for a lot of Missouri patients, and it might feel intimidating the first time you walk into a dispensary.  Someone with out a lengthy history of cannabis use might feel silly or embarrassed to ask ‘stupid questions’, but don’t be.  Don’t worry, you are not the only one by far.  Budtenders are there to help you not challenge you.  Budtenders, like most cannabis enthusiasts, enjoy talking about their favorite subject…Cannabis!  Ultimately, with their help, you are trying to find the right strain, with the right terpene and cannabinoid profile, and the right delivery method, that works best for you and your condition.  It may take a couple trips to find the right combination but that’s what budtenders are for.  To help you navigate the different options until you find what works best for you.

Put away your phone!

Most dispensaries have a strict “No Phones’” policy so it’s best to keep your phone tucked away while you are inside a dispensary. Casually using your cellphone is discouraged because you could easily snap a pic at any time.   It’s also very rude to be on your phone while someone is trying to give you excellent service.  Trust me, scrolling until you find the bottom of whatever social media platform you’re on can wait a few minutes while a budtender focuses their time on you.

Don’t Linger

Visiting a dispensary can be exciting and while it may be tempting to try and make the experience last as long as possible, please keep in mind there may be other patients waiting for you to finish looking at every strain twice only to finally settle on the first thing you looked at. (…wow deja uv, this sounds familiar)  Once you have completed your purchase, most dispensaries would prefer you be on your way and not hang around for longer then necessary.  If you are wondering why the security guard is staring at you, it may be time for you to politely exit stage left.

Don’t talk about illicit activities

This is a big no-no.  You will most likely be asked to leave if you break this rule.  We all know recreational cannabis is inevitable eventually.  But not now, and its probably a few years off in Missouri at least.  Missouri passed a medical marijuana law, key word being medical, so saying the wrong thing like sharing with non-patients, driving while smoking, needing party favors, or taking cannabis across state lines, is all frowned upon and should be discouraged by all responsible medical marijuana patients.  Your right to consume cannabis should NOT be taken lightly.  Many people fought really hard for a long time for us to be able to enjoy the healing powers of cannabis.  Rights are hard to earn, and easily taken away.  You don’t want to be the person that ruins it for everyone else.  (I will hunt you down!)

Don’t Haggle

The price is the price.  There is a reason some cannabis is more expensive than others. There is a reason some growers charge more for their best stuff.  A lot of love and hard work went into growing that cannabis.  Some strains are really hard to get and highly sought after.  All the usual rules of commerce apply the same in the cannabis industry.  And just like some of your favorite spirits and liquors….the goods ones are normally more expensive, but you also get what you pay for.  I hate comparing the two, but facts are facts.  And don’t even complain about the tax rate. The budtender selling you your eighth can do absolutely nothing about that tax rate, and they didnt decide what it should be.  Trust me when I say that Uncle Sam is collecting his due from not just the patient, but also every cultivator, dispensary, and processor.  Render unto Caesar and all that….oh, and businesses can’t deduct expenses.  But thats a whole other bag of worms.

 Don’t draw attention to the dispensary

Most dispensaries operate on a fragile truce with their surrounding neighborhood.  A lot of dispensaries exist without any issues or complaints.  However, there will always be that one neighbor just waiting for someone to do the wrong thing and try and get the place shut down.  As tempting as it may be, leave your meds in its packaging until you get home and for heaven’s sake, don’t even think about sparking up in the parking lot.  

OK, I think that covers most of our bases on what not to do.  Now, what TO DO….

Bring your ID

Medical marijuana dispensaries are governed by some of the most stringent regulations out there.  They are not going to let you in without an ID.  Even if you were to go to your favorite dispensary everyday, at the same time of day, wearing the same clothes, they are not going to let you in.  It’s not that they don’t know you, or that they don’t want to help you, it’s that any slight misstep could mean they will lose the license they fought so hard to get.  Before you can leave the waiting room and enter the sales floor, you are going to have to show the front desk your ID and Patient ID Card

Ask Questions

I know I shared this already, but I think it bears repeating.  Don’t make the mistake by thinking that you know everything.  The science is always changing.  A lot of things we took as facts 10 years ago are being debunked as “Bro Science” , or things you might have heard from your ‘bros’ that you take as fact.  Good dispensaries are going to have an ongoing training program for their staff.  Asking a few questions can tell you a lot about what a budtender does or doesn’t know, and by that, if a dispensary is worth visiting again.  

Check out the menu online

If there is something specific you would like to try, it’s smart to call ahead and make sure their online menu is current.  This can help you avoid a disappointing trip when your favorite strain is also a popular one and the dispensary runs out before you can get there.  Some dispensaries may even be able to pull your order and have it ready for pickup when you get there!

Tipping your budtender is common…

Some people are surprised to learn that tipping a budtender is more common than you think.  $1 or $2 for small buys, $5 for bigger buys. Some might consider a dispensary as a retail business.  I will argue the fact that a great dispensary is judged not only by their product, but also by the service they provide their patients.  Sometimes more so the latter.  Budtenders, like a barista or bartender, provide a service for patients.  Budtenders help patients with all kinds of things like finding the right dosage, mode of delivery, or finding the right product with the right terpene profile that best suits their needs.  Budtenders often develop long-term relationships with the patients they help as they craft the individual patient therapy plan for that specific patient.  


I share the same excitement that I’m sure most of you feel when I think about when dispensaries will finally be open for business here in Missouri.  Bottom line, the thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy your trip to the dispensary.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions, the budtenders are there to share their vast knowledge and passion they have for cannabis with you and help make your visit an enjoyable one.  Could really use a pic of the KC Cannabis coming soon banner….

Gateway to Recovery

Many of us grew up with the D.A.R.E. program being a mandatory requirement as we prepared to go into high school.  For those of you who are not familiar with the D.A.R.E. program, it was a drug education class that was normally a part of a Health class.  For most of us, it was our first introduction to drugs.  Nancy Reagan coined the phrase that became the D.A.R.E. program’s slogan.  Just Say No.  They focused on the harm that drug abuse among teens could have on our lives.  They also told us cannabis was a gateway drug, leading to the use of harder drugs.  I argue that cannabis is a gateway drug…a gateway to recovery.  

It’s probably no surprise to you that cannabis is used by many trying to get clean from harder drugs.  Most indoctrinated with the D.A.R.E. program’s teachings might dismiss this as an addict trading one drug for another and not treating the underlying physical or psychological addiction.  But like most things, the truth isn’t quite so cut and dry.  

It’s also common knowledge that cannabis is used everyday as a natural treatment most commonly for nausea, insomnia, muscle cramps, and pain.  All symptoms any person going through detox will experience.  If a person is trying to get clean, it is hard enough to battle the voice inside your head asking for more, let alone the physical agony your body goes through getting rid of the toxins built up in your system.  Cannabis has helped many patients in relieving these extreme body aches and pains when breaking the strong physical dependence that stems from drug abuse.  

Not only does cannabis make a person a little more comfortable, but it also makes it so the body can recover easier and faster.  CBD (cannabidiol), also commonly found in cannabis, acts as a neuroprotectant of your very important brain cells, and can help protect them from cell death as a person detoxes.    

Do No Harm

“But you’re still just trading one drug for another…”  True, but there are a few really good arguments as to why this is not an issue when discussing cannabis.  

First off, doctors give heroin addicts Methadone as a way of getting off heroin all day every day. That seems just fine to the larger medical industry.  Why not something that is way safer? Why not something that is known to help treat patients?  Why not cannabis?

Only 11% of people who try cannabis become somewhat dependent.  Less addictive than coffee, let alone alcohol, cigarettes, or harder street drugs.  The majority of people who use cannabis to quit other drugs would not become addicted.

Alcohol, cigarettes, and harder drugs, all take a heavy toll on your body.  Someone who becomes addicted to any of these is almost guaranteed to take off a large chunk of their life expectancy.  In contrast, Cannabis helps regulate the body and promotes homeostasis, keeping  your body in balance.  

When you look at the harm cannabis has on communities, compared to other drugs, it’s like comparing…well, it really isn’t much to compare.  On average, 10,000 people die every year from drunk drivers.  Cigarette smoking is responsible for 480,000 deaths per year.  Many people who use harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin often commit crimes to support those habits because they are so addictive.  Not the case with cannabis.  There have been zero deaths attributed to cannabis. Not one.  Peanuts cause more deaths than cannabis.  And I have yet to meet the person who had to rob a liquor store to support their cannabis habit.  It’s just not that serious.

 Bottom line, if someone has made the mental commitment to get clean, they should be given all the help they can get.  If it makes it a little bit easier to kick a bad habit, by all means, smoke some cannabis.  Pass that joint.  It just might save someone’s life.

Cannabis Sex

Male, female, hermaphrodite; cannabis sex is complicated.  Unlike animals, plants are capable of sexing one direction, the other, or both, almost on a whim.  However, cannabis sex can be predicted based on the sex of the seed’s parents and the environment the seed endures during the germination stage.  With a little know how, cannabis sex can nearly be chosen from a seed at will.

Cannabis seeds are sold by strain (genetic lineage), and also by sex.  The sex listed may be either of the following:

-‘Regular’ which means the sexes are segregating; male or female plants can come from a seed. 

-‘Feminized’ which means no segregating; each seed results in a   female plant.

But this is not the end of the story.  Both sexes can turn hermaphroditic, with flowers of the opposite sex growing from the plant even after its sex has already been determined, i.e. male flowers growing on a female plant, or (less commonly) female flowers growing on a male plant.  In some instances, both sexes are represented equally, with an equal number of male and female flowers coming from each flowering site.  A hermaphrodite in a bloom room will create a plethora of immature seeds, ruining the taste and potency of a flower.

Hermaphrodites can come from both ‘regular’ and ‘feminized’ seeds and are typically the result of environmental stress during the bloom phase.  That being said, a hermaphrodite is in fact more likely to come from a ‘feminized’ seed.  ‘Feminized’ seeds are created by pollinating a female plant with the pollen from a hermaphrodite’s male flower.  This is because the pollen from a hermaphrodite’s male flowers only carry the genetic information for female or hermaphroditic traits.  Basically, since the father of a ‘feminized’ seed is a hermaphrodite, it is more likely to become a hermaphrodite itself than a ‘regular’ seed with ‘regular’ parents.

Since ‘feminized’ seeds come with a higher probability of hermaphrodites, other methods of achieving higher numbers of females are worth looking into.  Many growers claim to achieve upwards of 90% females with ‘regular’ seeds by germinating them in ideal conditions.  A stable environment with high humidity, blue heavy light, high nitrogen/low potassium in the media, and a shorter photoperiod are said to increase the likelihood of germinating a female (1).  This is called ‘epigenetics’, which means gene expression changes depending on the environment.  If environmental conditions are favorable, it is more beneficial for the species for the seed to become female since females can make seeds themselves.  Females take more energy to mature than males, but has a high probability of success in a favorable environment.  In addition to that, a single male can pollinate many females so fewer males are necessary.

(1)“How to Get More Female Plant’s From Regular Seeds.” CANNA connection, 18th of June  2018, https://www.cannaconnection.com/blog/18582-how-to-get-more-female-plants-from-regular-seeds.

Industry Highlight: Canna Events by Leo

The people of Missouri voted to legalize medical cannabis almost two years ago. With that vote came the expectation of 338 businesses licensed to grow, extract and distribute THC products to medical patients. An exciting part of any budding cannabis industry that is oftentimes overlooked, are all of the ancillary businesses that start up. Home grow consultants, green doctors, bong cleaners, and event coordinators are among the many businesses that Missouri can expect. I got to catch up with Destiny Simon from Canna Events by Leo to hear about what we can expect out of them in the coming months and years.

Canna Events by Leo is based in Kansas City but plans on taking their events and classes statewide as soon as the industry is running with a more constant pace. When asked what they would consider their specialties, Destiny said education through their condition courses and inclusivity, especially for womxn, are their two main focuses. When asked about her vision, Destiny said, “We are all about womxn. If you talk to a womxn, 99% of the time she has made the choice to put herself second, whether it’s for her partner, her family; it’s usually the womxn taking the back seat.” She went on to say, “We have the opportunity to build an industry without sexism or racism.” 

Which opportunities she was most excited about bringing to patients in Missouri? “We know right now, the only options we have to help current patients are if we help build up the caregivers that offer alternative ways for us to get our meds right now…. We actually finalized our September patient caregiver event. We are building from the ground level, finding the low income patients, finding the people who don’t know where to go, and connecting them to caregivers.”

What can we look forward to about your Patient Caregiver Fair on September 19th? “Yeah! We only have 4 more spots for sponsors left available only because we are allowing only a limited capacity and because, through relationships we already have in the industry, we have filled most of the others. We are letting sponsors sell nonTHC merchandise so that they can recoup the cost of the sponsorship. We are having a capacity of 50 people at the Courthouse Exchange in Independence. We have the whole downstairs to ourselves and an outdoor consumption area sitting out in the back alley. We are going to have an app where people can order food or beverages and they will bring it to you wherever you are in the restaurant and it is contactless… We will have guest speakers, (Marne Madison from Fleur Verte Academy, LaVaughn Hamilton of Dabbing Daddies, and Vernon McClanahan the KC Grow Coach) We will have ‘Speed Weed Dating’, where our patients and our caregivers can talk and see if they’re a good match. Our tickets we have on sale from $0 to $25. If you can afford the $25, that’s your VIP ticket. You’re going to get a swag bag of goodies from us, from some of our sponsors and you’ll get 5% off any purchases. We are really excited about it and just getting to connect people.”

Which other organizations are you a member of or that you associate with? “I am the chapter leader for Kansas City Tokeativity, Women in Weed, which is kind of at a halt for now… KSCBA, the Kansas Cannabis Business Association, helping share resources so that Kansas may get off on a better foot than Missouri did. Also Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana, working with them to help build up their organization so that we can actually see the color change in Missouri. And of course Canna Matriarchs.”

If you could tell the patients of Missouri one thing, what would it be? “Research your endocannabinoid system. It’s an entire system inside of our bodies that we were never taught about. If you could learn anything that could change your life, learn about your endocannabinoid system and you can learn all about it in our Cannacian Certification Program.”

The Cannacian Certification Program, that Canna Events by Leo is offering, is a 3 step education and certification program that was created by Dr. Regina Nelson that will be taught in house. The program is three levels and each level claims to take a deeper dive into cannabis knowledge covering topics like the endocannabinoid system and pediatric cannabis use. Customers have the option to pay for the courses one-by-one or as a bundle and there are also payment plans. Below is a graphic that gives a brief overview of what each level of the course offers.

A History Fueled by Cannabis

It has long been known and talked about that hemp has played a role in human history. Archeologists have found traces of hemp products in tombs dating back 8,000 years and have continued to find products made from hemp scattered throughout the world from many different time periods. Hemp was used for rope as early as 200 BC, clothes by 570 when the Queen of France was buried in hemp linens, and hemp paper was used by the Arabs by the year 900. In fact, hemp became so important that by 1533, King Henry VIII fined any farmer who did not raise hemp. Throughout the long history of hemp use, debatably the most important use of hemp was the many ways that hemp fueled the independence of our nation. 

In 1607, when the first colonists started their voyage to the Americas, they sailed using hemp made ropes and sails. The hemp aspect was vitally important because it was the best suited material to survive the salty air and water. By 1616, hemp was being raised in the Americas. This crop would be harvested and made into more nautical equipment and clothing. Just 4 years later, the pilgrims would make the same trip using hemp made equipment.

The first industrial cannabis operation in North America was started by Benjamin Franklin when he opened up a hemp paper mill in 1765. The most important thing to come from this mill was Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. This pamphlet was published in January of 1776 and was crucial in convincing the common people of the colonies to separate from the monarchy of England and establish a democratic republic. By April of 1776, there were over 100,000 copies in circulation, all on Franklin’s American made hemp paper. Thomas Paine’s other political works The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason were also published on hemp paper.

Contrary to popular belief, the final and official Declaration of Independence that was signed by the founders was actually written on cured animal skin; but the first several drafts were written on hemp paper, including the draft that immortalized the Fourth of July in American history. In fact, until 1883 almost all American literature was printed on hemp paper including the works of Mark Twain, Frederick Douglas, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Fast forward to 1937 and the Marijuana Tax Act was passed placing a tax on all cannabis sales (including hemp). Many people think that this put a halt to our governments use of Industrial hemp, but by 1942 the USDA started the “Hemp for Victory” program to have farmers help with the war effort by raising 150,000 acres of hemp. That same year, Henry Ford created a car made from hemp fiber. Unfortunately, after World War II was over, the hemp industry continued to decline at the hands of corporate entities and lobbyists. By 1970, all cannabis was included in the ever controversial Controlled Substance Act classified as a Schedule I drug being labeled as dangerous as heroin. In 1996 California became the first state to side with the patients and legalize medical cannabis. Washington, Oregon, and Alaska followed suit with their own medical programs only 2 years later. Now in 2020 there are 11 states with legal adult use and 33 states with their own medical cannabis programs. 

From the very moment our country declared independence and immortalized July 4th as Independence Day, cannabis has been here every step of the way. Cannabis sturdied our sails, fueled our military, and now helps us heal. The cannabis industry has created nearly 250,000 full time jobs and has beaten out every financial prediction made; even surviving financial crises. Cannabis has and will continue to fuel the history of the United States (and the world). Happy Independence Day.

Clones (or Seeds I Guess)

Which is better, starting from a seed or a clone? This question has divided the cannabis growing community for years with most growers having a hard stance on the topic. Some growers will argue in favor of growing from a seed because of the natural taproot formed, better anchoring the plant in place, while other growers will argue in favor of cloning because you can replicate the same medicinal effects of a mother plant. No matter what side of the debate you’re on, one thing is for certain, dispensaries having the ability to sell clones to legal and compliant patient growers only enhances patient access and their ability to properly medicate themselves.

Dispensaries should be able to sell clones. It’s the safest, fastest, and most effective way to guarantee the effects that your medicine will have on you. Clones taken from a mother plant are genetically identical to the mother plant itself and therefore will cause similar, if not the same effects. Now before you quote me, let me clarify; growing skill and methods, light exposure, soil (or soiless concoction) quality, and a plethora of other factors will go into whether or not your cannabis is “good”. BUT! If you have a solid growing method that you are comfortable with and you successfully propagate a clone and grow it with generally the same elements and amount of skill, you will have a harvest that offers very similar  physiological and psychoactive effects. You get it. Without further ado, here’s three reasons why Missouri dispensaries should be able to sell clones.

First: I feel like this may be overstated by now, but did I mention that a clone offers identical genetics as its mother plant. The reason this is so important in a medical state is because consistency is vitally important when it comes to proper dosing of any compound(s). Consistent genetics leads to consistent results for the patient’s symptom relief. For further clarification, call your local pharmacy and ask them why xanax and oxycontin aren’t used for the same conditions or symptoms. 

Second: Growing from a clone is more cost effective than buying ounces of finished and ready to use products. So let’s talk about patient access. Patient access is defined as the ability for patients to obtain symptom relief by taking charge of their own health care. Nothing would open up access to high quality and affordable cannabis medicine better than selling clones directly to the patient themselves and allowing the patient to “take charge of their own healthcare” by sourcing, growing, and preparing their own medicine at a fraction of the cost. A single clone can cost as much as an ⅛ and yield as much finished product as an ounce or more! If you have purchased cannabis before, you know that is a difference of a couple hundred dollars.

Third: A clone takes less time to grow. A clone that is bought from a dispensary is rooted and about a month further along in its growth cycle than a plant that pops from a seed at the same time. This speeds up the process of acquiring homegrown, consistent and cost effective cannabis medicine when compared to seeds.

Bonus: Seeds are not guaranteed to be female or produce well (if at all). When you buy a pack of regular seeds you can expect about a 50% male to female ratio. You can also expect that some seeds won’t produce at all. This is normal and expected, but a clone doesn’t have these shortcomings.

Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri DHSS, when talking about his department once said “Our North Star is to help people. That has to be the basis for action. We’re not acting just to act. We’re acting to help people,” The sale of clones directly to a legal and compliant Missouri patient cultivator or caregiver from licensed and compliant dispensaries would be the peak of patient access. Clone sales allow access to affordable, consistent, and efficient cannabis medicine to further and more completely “help people” in Missouri. We aren’t asking to grow 100 plants in our garages; we are asking for maximum patient access and maximum control over our own symptom relief.

Anxiety and How Cannabis Helps

I’ve written, and rewritten this blog three times now, each time changing the subject and each time finding some reason to scrap it and start over. It’s a cycle that I have become familiar with; the need to perfect whatever task I have put my attention on in order to deliver, not what someone else expects of me, but what I expect of myself. A standard that I sometimes put so high that it becomes impossible to reach. It causes my heart to race and my thoughts to speed through my head faster than my words can keep up with. Then, by trying to catch just pieces of those thoughts, I start to feel the familiar swell start in the back of my head. My foot will start to tap and my jaw will tighten. If I don’t slow down by this point my hands will start to shake and I’ll get tunnel vision. After that, I have a panic attack. Simply put, I have anxiety, but cannabis helps.

Before I dive in, I wanted to acknowledge that cannabis isn’t for everyone. I understand that not everyone enjoys the effects or finds them therapeutic. At one point in my life cannabis sometimes gave me terrible anxiety, but after spending some time exploring what cannabis could do, I found what worked for me. If you are considering giving cannabis a first time try (or another try) for anxiety relief, here are some tips from someone who has done the “field testing” for you. What works for me may not work for you and I wouldn’t recommend cannabis to anyone who wasn’t comfortable with the idea of using it in the first place but I hope some of you find benefit from these tips.

Tip Number 1. It’s not all about the THC. I started out by chasing the highest THC percentage that I could find. A high THC percentage tends to speed up my heart rate and that is absolutely not how my anxiety goes away. These days I find myself preferring around 18 percent THC.

Tip Number 2. It’s very easy to use more but impossible to use less. Start with a small dose and work your way up in small increments. If you’re smoking, take a drag and wait a couple minutes before taking another. If you would prefer to try an edible, take ½ or even a ⅓ of what’s recommended. It is important not to speed through finding the proper dose for yourself.

Tip Number 3. If it smells good, it will feel good. It sounds cheesy but it works for me most of the time. When I smell dried cannabis, I can feel my body relax a little when I find a terpene profile that will suit me best when smoked.

Tip Number 4. Learn where your tipping point is. This is less about cannabis and more about knowing yourself. If your anxiety is working up and you don’t feel comfortable or at ease with the thought of medicating or medicating more, then don’t.

Tip Number 5. Always remember, you won’t die from using cannabis. There has been exactly zero(0) deaths from cannabis overdose. Keeping that fact in mind will oftentimes help alleviate the anxiety caused from using cannabis… for anxiety.

As I said before, don’t use cannabis to medicate until you are comfortable with the idea of it in the first place. By no means is this the only path to take when using cannabis to help prevent or calm anxiety. If you ever have any questions don’t ever hesitate to ask your bud tender. Trust me, they like talking about cannabis and will love to talk to you about it. Now when dispensaries open up, hopefully these five tips can speed up the process of finding your effective dose range.