Cannabis Consumers Have Higher Sperm Counts, Harvard Study Finds

New research conducted at Harvard could disprove another major myth about cannabis fans.

A study published on Wednesday in the Human Reproduction medical journal found that male cannabis smokers might actually carry higher sperm counts and concentrations when compared to men who have never used the botanical drug.

“Those who had never used marijuana had 28 percent less potent semen.”

“Our findings were contrary to what we hypothesized at the start of the study,” study lead author Feiby Nassan, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement.

Researchers analyzed health surveys and semen samples from more than 650 men who were part of couples seeking treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center between 2000 and 2017. The majority of the men participating had normal sperm counts, suggesting that other conception issues may have been the issue.

A survey found that 55 percent of men reported ever smoking marijuana in their lifetimes, and 11 percent said that they currently smoked marijuana.

Experts found that men who reported to have smoked marijuana had an average sperm concentration of 63 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Those who had never used marijuana were 28 percent less potent (48 million sperm/milliliter).

However, researchers also observed that people who stopped smoking tended to have slightly higher sperm counts than current pot smokers.

“We spent a good two months redoing everything, making sure that there wasn’t any error in the data,” said co-author Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “We were very, very surprised about this.”

Testosterone Might Be The Link

One possible explanation could be that men who generally produce higher testosterone levels are more likely to use marijuana, rather than the implication that cannabis use itself affects sperm potency.

“It is well-documented that within normal ranges, high testosterone levels are associated with greater engagement in risk-seeking behaviors, including drug use,” Chavarro said. “Higher testosterone levels are also related to slightly higher semen quality and sperm counts.”

Despite the surprising results, experts say that much more research must be conducted before reaching a definitive conclusion.

“We could have found what we thought we were going to find, and maybe wouldn’t have been as surprised and would have ended up writing a very different paper,” said Chavarro. “But the fact that we showed the exact opposite forced us to look very, very deeply into the marijuana health effects literature. There is not that much. We are operating mostly on assumptions and good intentions and hunches.”

In 2017, Stanford University researchers found a similar surprise — cannabis users had significantly more sexual intercourse than non-users. Male daily cannabis consumers had 1.3 times more sex per month (6.9 sex instances) than never-users (5.6 instances) as well as very infrequent users of cannabis (5.5 instances). Female daily cannabis consumers had sex about one more time per month (7.1 occurrences) than never-users (6.0 occurrences) as well as very infrequent users of cannabis (6.0 times).

Do you think cannabis has hurt or helped your ability to conceive? Let the Leafly community know in the comments below!

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Legalization Hits a Tipping Point in Congress This Year

Legalization has hit a historic tipping point in Congress this year, says Neal Levine, a longtime political operative and head of the Cannabis Trade Federation, which is deploying a record number of lobbyists on Capitol Hill for the issue in 2019.

Levine’s been in the legalization game since 2002, and he said voter support can end prohibition this year through the STATES Act, which exempts legalization states from the 1972 Controlled Substances Act. While it’s cliche to say legalization is “always 10 years away,” Levine says it’s here. In the below Q&A with Leafly, Levine points to some key factors:

  • 10 adult-use legalization states, plus Washington, DC
  • 33 medical legalization states
  • hundreds of thousands of American jobs on the line
  • billions and billions of dollars in domestic economic impact
  • polling at 61% for legalization, 75% for federal noninterference, 90% for medical

“We got an issue here that people are starting to care passionately about that can swing elections,” he tells Leafly.

Strap in. You’re riding with veteran activist and policy wonk turned industry lobbying powerhouse Levine, before his Friday appearance at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco. The ICBC is sponsored in part by Leafly.

Leafly: I’ll play devil’s advocate. It took 33 states to enact marijuana prohibition before the federal government followed in the ’30s. What makes you think we he have enough states to stop prohibition this year? There’s only nine legalization states.

Neal Levine: First off, prohibition ended in 10 states, plus the District as of today. But fortuitously it’s 33 states plus the District that have opted out in some form. And so prohibition has become untenable.

We have Canada up and roaring. We have Mexico about to set up legal markets. We got countries in South America, Europe, the Middle East, and now Asia all starting to opt out of prohibition. We are ceding what should be an American industry to international competition, and there’s no reason for it, outside of bad policy.

The states are now moving at lighting speed to opt out on their own. We have now reached that point and Congress must act. That’s why we’re focused on the federal level, and that’s why we’re so optimistic we can get this done.

Talk with Neal Levine at the International Cannabis Business Conference Friday, Feb. 8 — sponsored by Leafly

And the reason we’re so optimistic, and we have bipartisan support, and the president said he’d sign [the STATES Act] into law–is because the polling is so over the top in favor. [Federal noninterference] is polling 10 points higher than legalization, and that’s the STATES Act — it’s polling in the mid ’70s, and that’s why I think we can get this done.

It is no coincidence that every single Democrat in the US Senate who is running for president or talking about running for president is putting their name on a cannabis bill.

Yes, but there are like a half-dozen bills in Congress, why is the STATES Act the one to back?

So Rep. Earl Bluemenaur (D-OR) has a whole suite of bills. … But the STATES Act is a bipartisan bill that the president said he would sign into law if it hits his desk. Based on that, that’s why we’re focused on the STATES Act.

Our intel is that the STATES Act is the one game-changing piece of legislation that we can pass into law in the next Congress.

Look the STATES Act is not the entire loaf–but it’s 60% to 70%. It fundamentally ends the conflict between federal and state law and it opens the door to have the conversation move from “Should we do this?” to “How should we do this?” The “How should we do this?” piece is full social equity.

There’s been a lot of talk about equity lately. That’s not in the STATES Act.

If you look at what’s going on in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California–all the social equity pieces are happening locally. Denver is doing expungement. The state of Colorado is talking about stuff. So a lot of that stuff is happening at the state level, because that’s where the laws are. The STATES Act will speed up the pace of legalization in the states exponentially.

Can the STATES Act help with banking, or tax reform? The current banking situation redlines out anyone who can’t raise a million dollars from an angel investor, friend, or relative.

It immediately fixes [IRS tax penalty] 280E for every licensed legal state business. It doesn’t open up all banking, but it’s going to open up a lot commercial banking services from FDIC-insured banks.

Will Wells Fargo and B of A jump in? Probably not. But will community banks start offering real commercial banking services? Yes.

And it ends the threat of the DOJ coming in and kicking in our doors and seizing our assets for the crime of running a state-legal business.

That being said, what we’re trying to do here is end federal prohibition. The end goal is expungement for everybody with old crimes that would not have violated new law.

But it’s much harder to pass that initial, fundamental, game-changing piece of legislation than it is to amend the law later.

An example is the first law I quarterbacked while I was at Marijuana Policy Project was medical marijuana in Vermont in 2004. Vermont became the ninth MMJ state in 2004. That initial law was three plants, one mature, no industry, grow your own, three qualifying conditions: cancer, AIDS and MS. Vermont then became the first state legislature to end adult-use prohibition, and it was also, ironically, the ninth state to [end prohibition].

So you don’t always get the whole loaf at first.

How do Leafly readers make the most impact with their time and energy here? A lot of people feel powerless, or that this might be above their head.

They should call their members of Congress, call their senators, and they should tell them they support this. They should contact their local officials, their mayor, their county commissioners, their governors, and the state’s attorney general, and tell them, “I support this legislation. You should support this.”

And then folks can jump on our website,, and sign up for our list. We’ll be sending updates on ways they can help and be involved, and not just us. Sign up with our partners, the MPP, Drug Policy Alliance, any number of these groups we work in coalition with. They will get a steady stream of things that [they] can do to help us pass this.

What exactly is the six-month-old Cannabis Trade Federation? Your 20-member board includes Pax, Cannacraft, Dixie, Reef Dispensaries, and Tilt?

The Cannabis Trade Federation has the largest-staffed lobbying team the industry has ever seen. If you would have looked at all the other resources that are brought to the table up to this point combined–it’s not as large as what we’re bringing. This is a huge boulder we’re pushing up a steep hill in a short amount of time. We think it’s doable, but we have no illusions about how difficult this is going to be.

Right now we have about 50 companies, and every company has made a minimum financial commitment of a five-figure amount, and board members have made six-figure commitments.

What makes you the guy to lead this macro-group of lobbying groups?

I got into this from a social justice and social equity point of view 15, 16 years ago. So I’ve been here a minute.

When I started working on this issue, there was no real industry. You had California and what was going on there, but all the early medical marijuana laws were grown-your-own laws. The first one we did at the ballot was Arizona that was actually creating industry.

On top of the seven laws I helped to quarterback for MPP, there’s another half-dozen that I played assist role on.

And I led the team that did the decrim initiative in Massachusetts in 2008, and we got 65% of vote for that. At the same time, we did medical marijuana in Michigan and we got 62% of the vote for that. We did both of those at the same time, and that decrim initiative in 2008 is probably to date the purest social equity initiative that we’ve run as a movement, ever.

You went into the industry in 2009 in Colorado and ran communications, government affairs and philanthropy for LiveWell. What brought you back into the fray?

How this all started was the prohibitionists went and tried to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot here in Colorado that would have capped THC in products at 16%, which would have made 86% of everything on the shelf illegal overnight.

We formed a coalition to beat that back. Up until that point, the industry just slit each other’s throats, as opposed to work together. And there was a lot of skepticism … whether or not we could work together.

It worked really well. We were able to do a public education campaign and prevent them from gathering enough signatures to get it on the ballot. Sometimes the best way to win a fight is to avoid it. So that worked. We quickly raised a half-million dollars, we knocked it off the ballot, and we refunded half the money, and everyone was like, “That worked splendidly.”

But then at that point, the prohibitionists had qualified a local ballot initiative down in Pueblo County which would have banned the industry, including 1,200 jobs, and scholarship money, and a bunch of stuff. So the coalition expanded and helped defeat that on Election Day down in Pueblo.

But you didn’t stop there?

Now it’s Election Day 2016 and the Republicans have taken over the entire federal government. I went to DC, and what became very apparent to us is we needed some sort of entity from the industry or movement to be able to talk to the right in their language. Because they were talking about tax reform and we saw an opportunity for 280E.

And then obviously we had Sessions as the AG and we saw a great threat. We knew we needed to engage, and we needed to engage in a way where we were talking to the folks who were in power. So that was the formation of the New Federalism Fund, and this Colorado coalition expanded and became more of a national coalition.

We didn’t get a 280E fix into tax reform, then Sessions pulled the Cole memo, Sen. Gardner put a hold on all DOJ appointments, and that turned in to the STATES Act for the release of these DOJ appointments.

And here we are saying, “We need something that’s both sides of the aisle.” And a lot of our folks didn’t feel well served by their options and were talking about pulling together an actual association, and so that led to the natural evolution of what the Cannabis Trade Federation is.

And instead of forming an association, we’re forming a [tax-exempt] federation so we can share some of these resources that we are bringing and spread it around to all of the other entities, so all boats can hopefully rise.

So the Cannabis Trade Federation is much larger than any individual entity. It’s right in our logo what our DNA is about: professionalize, unify, diversify.

Catch Neal Levine at the International Cannabis Business Conference Friday, Feb. 8 — sponsored by Leafly

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How Honey Cultivates Partnerships With Humboldt Cannabis Growers

This article is sponsored by Honey, a California-based cannabis company specializing in high-quality cannabis oils that reflect and respect the strains they’re derived from.

Change is a constant in most industries, but there are few places where things evolve faster than cannabis. As legalization becomes the new normal across North America, farms, processors, and dispensaries alike are working full-time to keep up with the developing market.

The team at Honey–a California-based crafter of cannabis oils and distillates for vaping–made their debut in 2013, and they’ve witnessed first-hand just how much things have changed for the cannabis world in that brief time.

“It’s only been five years, but it has been a transformational five years,” says Honey CEO Peter Tejera. “The regulatory market has been established, there’s been a dramatic expansion in the number of brands in the space, and institutional money has arrived in earnest.”

While the industry is moving fast and showing no signs of slowing down, the Honey team remains devoted to supporting farmers in one of the world’s most storied cannabis cultivation regions: Humboldt County.

“Humboldt farmers have led the way in growing and developing high quality cannabis, and the industry is indebted to these individuals for their dedication to cannabis cultivation as a way of life,” says Tejera. “Unfortunately, the boom in cannabis grows around California means that many of these family farms are now in jeopardy. That’s among the reasons Honey exclusively supports Humboldt farmers. We’re committed to turning their superior product into superior cannabis oil.”

Mr. D of Happy Dream Farms gets a close look at his crop of Purple Punch of a Humboldt County cannabis grow.
(Courtesy of Billy Ellyson)

Respecting the Roots

As part of that support, Honey partners with the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild (HSSG), a consortium that represents dozens of cannabis farms from around the Humboldt County community. It’s a long-held agricultural model, and one that allows small, independent farmers to market and distribute their goods to customers more efficiently than they might be able to on their own.

“Four years ago, the founders of the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild set out to build a company for farmers and by farmers with the intention of keeping the traditions and heritage of Humboldt County cannabis going strong into the 21st century,” says HSSG lead botanist Billy Ellyson. “We started enrolling farmers in 2015 and have been distributing Humboldt sun-grown cannabis around California ever since.”

The ease of distribution provided by consortia like HSSG make it easier for companies like to Honey access a diverse selection of sun-grown flower produced by family farms that have been in the business for generations. That access makes it feasible for Honey help preserve Humboldt County’s cannabis legacy–and help shape its future, says Tejera.

“Honey reaches a diverse audience of consumers who are coming to cannabis for a variety of reasons, many for the first time,” Tejera points out. “It’s critical to ensure our products are pure and of the finest quality, and that starts with us relying on the consistency and potency of Humboldt cannabis.”

A beautiful example of OG Kush, produced by a Rambling Rose Farm in the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild and headed for extraction by the team at Honey.
(Courtesy of Billy Ellyson)

Turning Flower into Honey

While California is in no short supply of cannabis connoisseurs, the market for flower is not the hottest one in the Golden State. Increasingly, consumers are looking to vape pens and cartridges for discreet, on-the-go cannabis consumption that doesn’t necessitate lighting up.

“We see more and more people every year turning to cannabis oils and distillates as their primary consumption method. And as they get more experienced with these products and see more options available, they’re also learning more about what to look for in a cartridge,” says Tejera. “One of the things they’re looking for is clarity about what they are buying, so transparency around ingredients and origins is more important than ever.”

That sort of transparency is a specialty of the team at HSSG, where every batch of flower is thoroughly tested for safety and graded for quality.

“To ensure only the best oil is incorporated into Honey, our science teams takes a sample of each strain extracted on a very small scale. That lets us do thorough screenings of every batch for things like pesticides, heavy metals, and mycotoxins,” says Ellyson. “Once we have a product we know is safe and clean, we proceed with extracting the entire batch. Then, we send off even more samples to confirm the final product will pass compliance testing.”

For their extraction efforts, Honey buys loads of small flowers, trim, and sugar leaf–material that’s rich in trichomes but doesn’t always look appealing to consumers. It makes a great base for the cannabis distillate and oil that fills Honey cartridges and disposable pens, though. And, says Tejera, it’s a great way for farmers to diversify their offerings, sell more of their crop, and improve their bottom lines.

Combining fabulous Humboldt County cannabis with Honey’s painstaking extraction process results in top-quality cannabis oils and distillates that reflect and respect the flower they’re sourced from. (Courtesy of Honey)

As Fresh as Flower

One key to Honey’s process and philosophy is crafting cannabis concentrates that reflect–and respect–the flowers they’re derived from. To create oils and distillates that are true to the strains and effects of their not-so-humble Humboldt origins, the Honey team employs a proprietary technique called Fresh Mapping.

“Each plant has its own fingerprint, and Fresh Mapping lets us explore the live plant to understand its phytochemical formulation–its unique fingerprint,” Tejera explains. “That provides us with a recipe we are able to replicate consistently with the help of dozens of terpenes and thousands of other canna-chemicals, protecting the integrity and essence of the original plant.”

The only difference is that instead of flower that can crumble or dry out in a pocket or stash jar, Honey’s oils stay safely stashed in a cartridge or disposable vape pen for discreet consumption and customizable dosing.

“For decades, Humboldt farmers have been producing and protecting incredible flower that has set the standard for the cannabis industry,” Tejera said. “The Honey team is proud to lean on their history and expertise and help promote the great work they’re still doing every single day.”

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A Patient’s Guide to Using Cannabis for Cancer

If you (or someone you love) just got diagnosed with cancer, that’s obviously very frightening. My heart goes out to you in every way. Now here’s the good news: cannabis can help, and this guide will explain how.

Jump to:

The cannabis plant contains a number of compounds with research-backed benefits for cancer patients. The science-based case that it is a safe and effective medicine will be made below, with plenty of links to double-blind studies, authoritative sources, and leading experts. The takeaway being that the plant and preparations derived from it can provide relief of cancer-related symptoms like pain, nausea, and inflammation. Some research has even shown that some cannabis compounds may slow cancer growth and shrink tumors.

Cannabis can also elevate your mood at critical moments, and even help you psychologically come to grips with the difficult times ahead. This is no small thing.

Cannabis can also elevate your mood at critical moments, and even help you psychologically come to grips with the difficult times ahead. This is no small thing. Many of the medicines you will be prescribed, and procedures you will undergo–helpful as they may be–will leave you feeling depleted (to say the least).

Cannabis is restorative–to body and soul.

To laugh, to escape from pain and anxiety, to step outside one’s self and experience a moment of peace, or bliss, or both–what could be more healing? Now, I don’t have any studies to back up this particular claim, but I have seen it firsthand countless times in my 15 years of meeting cancer patients and writing about their relationship with medical cannabis. And that includes both people who had a lot of experience with cannabis before they got cancer and those who’d never even considered trying it before.

Now, it’s perfectly understandable if, after a century of anti-cannabis government propaganda, you’re skeptical about such anecdotal claims. But please don’t let that prevent you from further researching the subject. I believe any cancer patient who takes the time to review the breadth of evidence with an open mind will conclude that cannabis is an option worth trying, whether you’re undergoing chemotherapy or not.

The Case for Medical Cannabis

(Gillian Levine for Leafly)

Let’s start with the bad news: Cannabis remains illegal even for medicinal use in many places around the world. This forces countless cancer patients every year to resort to the underground market, where they risk arrest for simply possessing a small amount of plant matter. Beyond that, it’s also important to understand that cannabis itself is not harmless.

But neither is water, if you drink too much.

So when we talk about the potential risks of cannabis, we need to talk not about it being “safe” or “dangerous,” but in terms of “relative harm.”

When it comes to cancer specifically, there’s been a number of landmark studies proving the safety and efficacy of cannabis.

The first ever study to show that cannabis exhibits anti-tumor properties was originally designed to demonstrate the plant’s dangers, specifically harm to the immune system. Funded by a grant from the American Cancer Society, research published in 1974 in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that mice who had tumors surgically implanted and were then “treated for 20 consecutive days with THC” had reduced primary tumor size.

The government immediately pushed the offending study down the memory hole, and pushed on with the War on Cannabis, but three decades later, Dr. Manuel Guzman, professor of biochemistry at the University of Madrid, managed to follow up on the original 1974 experiments, with similar results. In the March 2000 issue of the journal Nature Medicine, Guzman reported that cannabinoids (like THC) not only shrink cancerous tumors in mice, they do so without damaging surrounding tissues.

A year later, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine for the first time demonstrated the efficacy of THC for nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.

“Cannabis is the only anti-nausea medicine that increases appetite.”

Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology-oncology at San Francisco General Hospital

“A day doesn’t go by where I don’t see a cancer patient who has nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain, depression, and insomnia,” Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology-oncology at San Francisco General Hospital and a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco told Newsweek for a 2013 article headlined Marijuana Is a Wonder Drug When It Comes to the Horrors of Chemo. “Cannabis is the only anti-nausea medicine that increases appetite.”

More recently, in 2017, the International Journal of Oncology published a report showing that cannabinoids produced naturally in a cannabis plant possess anti-cancer activity whether used alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy. While according to research by Yale Cancer Center, a majority of pediatric cancer providers now endorse the use of medical cannabis for children with advanced cancer.

Talking With Your Doctor

Many physicians and medical professionals (including cancer specialists) remain wholly unaware of the many ways cannabis can support those going through cancer treatments, so it’s important to show up to every appointment armed with as much information as possible. But you should be cautious as well, particularly if you live in a place where medical cannabis is not legal, and admitting to using cannabis could potentially lead to legal trouble, refusal of medical care, or problems with your insurance coverage.

So research thoroughly and choose you words carefully until you determine if you feel safe broaching the subject with your primary care physician and/or oncologist. Also, consider seeking out a cancer specialist who publicly embraces medical cannabis for a more thorough consultation on your particular needs.

How to Obtain Medical Cannabis

If you live in a place with either legal cannabis or legal medical cannabis, you should have no problem accessing what you need through a dispensary. There may be some legal hoops to jump through to sign up for your state’s medical cannabis program, but as a cancer patient you most certainly qualify.

The Leafly app can help you locate the best dispensary within a reasonable distance from where you live, and then you can search their menu online to make sure they’ve got the specific products you’re looking for before you pay them a visit.

Find a Cannabis Shop

Everything you find on a dispensary shelf should be lab tested for purity and potency, but it’s still a good idea to seek out cannabis grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Federal law prohibits using the word “organic” when it comes to cannabis, but there are third party certifications that mean the same thing, and certain companies only work with growers using organic methods.

If you live in a place without legal medical cannabis, you’ll have to first carefully weigh the potential benefits of having this medicine in your life against the risk of legal consequences.

The medical cannabis movement has been built on civil disobedience, and the foundational belief that any law preventing the seriously ill from accessing a proven medicinal plant should be actively subverted. So feel no shame, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Think of a person in your life whom you trust, and who already has access to cannabis, and let them in on your situation.

Dosing Medical Cannabis

(Gillian Levine for Leafly)

When it comes to identifying your ideal dosage, the most important thing to know is that you should start with very small amounts of cannabis and slowly increase them until you find what works best for you, without going overboard. This detailed dosage guide from Project CBD offers thorough information on how to optimize the benefits of medicinal cannabis.

It’s also vital to understand that different delivery methods will produce vastly different effects, including how quickly they onset and how long they last. Inhalation will have you feeling relief in less than a minute. Just start with a puff or two, see what happens in a couple of minutes, and then inhale more as needed.

Meanwhile, edibles can take up to 90 minutes to onset, and last for up to eight hours. That makes them ideal for long-term relief, but you run the risk of eating too much before you start to feel the effects. So until you get the hang of it, stick to low-dose edibles (five or ten milligrams of THC) and then slowly up your dose as needed–always waiting at least 2 hours between doses to account for the lag time.

Incorporating CBD-rich cannabis products into your regiment gives you access to another therapeutic cannabinoid, one that is also shown to reduce anxiety induced by larger doses of THC. (Note: small doses of CBD can enhance THC’s intoxicating properties, but large doses appear to counteract unwanted side effects.)

Be sure to remain well hydrated at all times, and ideally share the experience with a friend. Definitely stay home the first few times you use cannabis, particularly as you get used to the experience and while experimenting to find your optimal dose.

Mixing cannabis with alcohol is not a good idea. Mixing it with your favorite music and a game of stoned Scrabble, however, is really fun.

Choosing a Delivery Method

(Gillian Levine for Leafly)

Pharmaceutical Cannabinoids

Several pharmaceutical drugs have been developed using either synthetic cannabinoids (like the THC drug Marinol), or plant derived blends of THC and CBD (like Sativex from GW Pharmaceuticals). What these products all have in common is that they’re inferior to whole plant cannabis (and whole plant cannabis derived products) in terms of efficacy and price.

As Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a retired Harvard Medical School professor and longtime leading medical cannabis researcher put it:

Needless to say, the pharmaceutical industry is increasingly devoting its massive resources to the development of cannabinoid analogs or other products which can compete with herbal marijuana. But none of these products will be as inexpensive or useful as herbal marijuana. Legality, not efficacy, is their major appeal.

Cannabis Flowers

Also known as “buds,” the dried flowering tops of female cannabis plants are ideal for smoking and vaporizing. If possible, get yourself a high quality portable vaporizer. Vaporizing is a lot less work for your lungs than smoking and you’re much less likely to have a painful coughing fit. Here’s a recent consumer test done by The Wirecutter that will give you lots of options by price range.

If you’re sourcing dispensary cannabis, the label should tell you its levels of THC and CBD. Ideally, you want a range of strains at your disposal, including one that you find pleasantly uplifting (like Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, and Super Lemon Haze); one you find pleasantly sedating (like Blueberry, Purple Kush, and LA Confidential), and one that’s rich in CBD (like ACDC, Cannatonic, and Harlequin).


When dealing with extreme pain or nausea, it’s reassuring to have a way to quickly inhale a high dose of cannabis. Depending on how concentrates are made, they can have levels of purity from around 50% THC all the way up to 95%.

If you’re new to cannabis, a vape pen is a good option for exploring concentrates, as you can inhale small amounts of cannabis oil with ease, and they’re very discreet to use when out of the house. But make sure you research a reputable brand, as the quality of vape pens varies widely.

Dabs are definitely the most efficient way to inhale the most cannabinoids all at once, but they should wait until you’re fairly experienced with cannabis, as it’s a lot to take in. When you’re ready, here’s Leafly’s guide to dabbing.

Cannabis Oil or RSO

Some cannabis patients ingest large doses of cannabis oil in an attempt to not only control symptoms, but to destroy existing cancer cells and prevent the disease’s spread. As mentioned before, research is beginning to show the specific ways cannabis may help control cancer growth. But it’s also led to a rash of overblown claims and “snake oil sales pushes” that target vulnerable patients, so be careful what you buy and who you believe.


Again, edibles take up to 90 minutes to onset, and can potentially get you way higher than smoking or vaping because of a chemical conversion that takes place when THC is processed in the liver instead of the lungs. So it’s way easier to overdo it on edibles.

But edibles also have some big advantages: They provide relief for many hours, they’re discreet to carry and consume, you don’t have to inhale smoke, and they can really help you stretch your cannabis budget, particularly if you’re making your own edibles at home. Just follow proper safety protocols.


Prior to the Age of Pharmaceuticals, many prescriptions were delivered to patients via tinctures, a medicinal preparation where an active ingredient is dissolved into a solvent, typically alcohol.

Tinctures give you a smoke-free, vape-free option that still takes effect quickly, since the medicine can be absorbed under the tongue rather than in the stomach. They’re discreet and easy to dose, and you can either make your own at home or find a high quality tincture at a dispensary, including ones that offer a range of different cannabinoid ratios, and even blend in other medicinal herbs along with cannabis.


Topicals can be applied directly to the skin wherever you’re feeling pain, so it’s a great way to get targeted all-natural relief of soreness and inflammation without getting high. At a quality dispensary, you can find a wide range of lotions, balms, bath soaks and massage oils, including lines that also blend in other therapeutic herbs.

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Science Backs Most Medical Cannabis Treatment, Study Finds

Chronic pain is the most common reason people give when they enroll in state-approved medical marijuana programs.

That’s followed by stiffness from multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-related nausea, according to an analysis of 15 states published Monday in the journal Health Affairs.

“The majority of patients for whom we have data are using cannabis for reasons where the science is the strongest.”

lead author Kevin Boehnke, University of Michigan

The study didn’t measure whether marijuana actually helped anyone with their problems, but the patients’ reasons match up with what’s known about the science of marijuana and its chemical components.

“The majority of patients for whom we have data are using cannabis for reasons where the science is the strongest,” said lead author Kevin Boehnke of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

California became the first state to allow medical use of marijuana in 1996. More than 30 states now allow marijuana for dozens of health problems. Lists of allowable conditions vary by state, but in general, a doctor must certify a patient has an approved diagnosis.

While the U.S. government has approved medicines based on compounds found in the plant, it considers marijuana illegal and imposes limits on research. That’s led to states allowing some diseases and symptoms where rigorous science is lacking. Most of the evidence comes from studying pharmaceuticals based on marijuana ingredients, not from studies of smoked marijuana or edible forms.

About 85 percent of patients’ reasons were supported by substantial or conclusive evidence in the National Academies report.

Dementia and glaucoma, for example, are conditions where marijuana hasn’t proved valuable, but some states include them. Many states allow Parkinson’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder where evidence is limited.

The analysis is based on 2016 data from the 15 states that reported the reasons given for using marijuana. Researchers compared the symptoms and conditions with a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence: a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

About 85 percent of patients’ reasons were supported by substantial or conclusive evidence in the National Academies report.

The study shows people are learning about the evidence for cannabis and its chemical components, said Ziva Cooper of University of California Los Angeles’ Cannabis Research Initiative. Cooper served on the National Academies report committee, but wasn’t involved in the new study.

About two-thirds of the about 730,000 reasons were related to chronic pain, the study found. Patients could report more than one pain condition, so the figure may overestimate patient numbers.

Patients include 37-year-old Brandian Smith of Pana, Illinois, who qualifies because she has fibromyalgia. On bad days, her muscles feel like they’re being squeezed in a vise. She said she has stopped taking opioid painkillers because marijuana works better for her. She spends about $300 a month at her marijuana dispensary.

“Cannabis is the first thing I’ve found that actually makes the pain go away and not leave me so high that I can’t enjoy my day,” Smith said.

The study also found:

–Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon saw a decline in medical marijuana patients after legalization of recreational marijuana in those states.

–More than 800,000 patients were enrolled in medical marijuana programs in 2017 in 19 states. That doesn’t count California and Maine, which don’t require patients to register. Other estimates have put the number at more than 2 million .

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What Is Caryophyllene and What Does This Cannabis Terpene Do?

Terpenes provide a wide variety of aromatic properties ranging from floral and earthy notes to musky and citrusy ones. When it come to the spicier side of the spectrum, caryophyllene holds the trophy for the most flair.

The terpene caryophyllene is present in many herbs and spices, including black pepper, basil, and oregano, and cannabis strains with high levels of it deliver a spicy, funky warmth to the nose, similar to cinnamon and cloves.

What makes caryophyllene an intriguing terpene is its relationship with our endocannabinoid system, particularly, its ability to bind to CB2 receptors. Because of this, it comes with a host of potential medical benefits.

Caryophyllene’s Unique Profile

Also called beta-caryophyllene or BCP, this terpene can be found in aromatic oils like rosemary and clove oil, and in nature it’s most commonly found in hops, cloves, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and basil. It’s responsible for the slight bite of pungency associated with smelling cracked pepper.

Caryophyllene is a bigger molecule than terpenes like myrcene and limonene. Caryophyllene’s molecular structure also contains a cyclobutane ring, something rare in nature and not found in any other known cannabis terpene.

The human body’s endocannabinoid system contains a vast network of receptors located throughout the body. Two major types exist: CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found mainly in our peripheral organs.

When a cannabinoid such as THC is ingested, it primarily binds to CB1 receptors located in the brain and central nervous system, producing a euphoric effect.

The unique molecular structure of caryophyllene allows it to easily bind to CB2 receptors primarily located within our peripheral endocannabinoid system. This means that is doesn’t cause any of the euphoric feelings of cannabis while providing many of the benefits associated with activating those receptors, like reducing inflammation.

It’s unlike any other terpene because it is the only one that has the ability to directly activate a cannabinoid receptor, especially CB2 receptors.

Strains Containing Caryophyllene

Cannabis strains with high levels of caryophyllene tend to be spicy and musky, and some are also known to have a funky profile. Many carry prominent notes of diesel and fuel that are known to cause the same nose-tingling bite associated with taking a whiff of pepper.

Some strains with a higher-than-average amount of caryophyllene include:

(Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

The graph above shows how much caryophyllene a strain produces on average, relative to its total terpene content. For example, about a third of Lavender’s terpene profile is caryophyllene (33.27%). The length of the bars represents the range of samples obtained from growers, which were verified by Confidence Analytics.

According to the graph, caryophyllene is found in high levels in many strains of the Cookies family–Platinum GSC, GSC, Cookies and Cream, and Candyland (Platinum Cookies x Grandaddy Purple).

This stress-relieving terpene is also present in many hybrids known to cause relaxation and reduce anxiety. Given its unique aromatic notes, it’s fairly easy to detect in a strain.

Many cannabis topicals and salves utilize strains with high levels of caryophyllene, showcasing its natural aromatic profile while also providing therapeutic benefits.

The Medical Benefits of Caryophyllene

Studies on caryophyllene indicate a wide variety of therapeutic potential. A 2014 study shows pain-relieving properties of the terpene in mice, and another rodent study shows caryophyllene’s potential to reduce alcohol intake, making this terpene a possible treatment for addiction.

Caryophyllene has also been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and to be a possible therapy for treating inflammatory bowel disease. Research has even found that caryophyllene may be able to treat anxiety and depression.

Current studies are hoping to unveil even more of the therapeutic potential behind caryophyllene, including research indicating that it may help with lifespan longevity by reducing gene stress.

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Fantastic Sativas and How to Grow Them

This article is sponsored by Kannabia Seed Company, an award-winning cannabis seed company headquartered in Spain whose grower-oriented approach has made cannabis cultivation simple and satisfying for growers of all skill levels for years.

As cannabis legalization continues to spread around the world, more and more people are getting the opportunity to grow their own plants at home. For individuals living in jurisdictions where the practice is legal, cultivating new and classic sativas, indicas, and hybrid strains has never been easier. From complex indoor operations to simple additions to an existing garden plot, there are a plethora of ways that aspiring cannabis cultivators can get to know the plant from seed to smoke.

Whether you’re wondering where to start, or looking to level up an existing cannabis garden, the team at Kannabia has you covered. Their grow experts suggested five superb sativa strains from the company’s diverse catalog of seeds, and provided some tips for getting the most out of every grow.

An example of the Cookies Haze strain from Kannabia. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Make room at the top

Sativa plants can grow really tall, whether potted or sown directly into soil. That makes it important to leave more overhead space than you might think you need. For instance, Kannabia’s Cookies Haze can reach heights of more than three meters, or about ten feet tall.

If you’re afraid of heights, you may be better off sowing Cookies Haze outdoors, where adjustments to timing can help keep it in check. In the Northern Hemisphere, growers can plant in or mid-to-late May for a harvest that is more likely to stay around the six-foot mark

Wherever you plant it, this mix of Afghan and Super Silver Haze is easy to grow and bred to be pest-resistant, making it a great choice for first-timers. Its high THC levels, meanwhile, make for a very satisfying harvest.

An example of Kannabia’s Kaboom strain. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Stay dry

Too much humidity can do a number on many plants, including cannabis. A climate that’s too moist can inhibit growth and leave plants susceptible to mold, mildew, and pests like caterpillars. While some strains are more tolerant of humidity than others–like Kaboom, a heavy producer that’s bred to finish fast, resist pests, and thrive in a variety of conditions–it remains a factor to keep an eye on.

No matter what strain they’re growing, indoor cannabis cultivators should be sure to provide their plants with plenty of ventilation, and monitor humidity levels to ensure they stay in a safe range of between 50 and 80 percent. Outside, you may have luck covering plants with plastic at night–just make sure to remove the cover during the day and prevent condensation from building up.

Kannabia Sativa Dream
Kannabia’s Sativa Dream strain. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Don’t forget to prune

If left to their own devices, plants can grow up spindly and weak. With deliberate pruning and shaping, though, gardeners can encourage denser growth and higher yields. Whatever you’re growing–fruit, herbs, roses, or cannabis–you need to prune early and often to get maximum growth.

A traditional pruning regimen, also known as defoliation, begins as soon as the plant starts to get bushy, and involves both removing lower leaves that aren’t receiving light or are dying off and pinching new growth at the top. Continuing this process during the two or three weeks that follow will set up your grow for long-term abundance.

Proper pruning will maximize yields for all strains, but some plants respond especially well to a little training–even sativas, which tend to be less leaf-dense than their indica relatives. Kannabia’s growers report that topping their Sativa Dream strain, for instance, can boost its production by almost a third. It’s also bred to be pest-resistant and fast-growing, making it a great cultivar for rookie growers who are still polishing their green thumbs.

Amnesi-K Lemon finds its origins in several popular strains. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Sweeten the pot

Different kinds of plants like different kinds of nutrients in their soil, and cannabis plants are known to have a bit of a sweet tooth. Adding a source of sugar, such as unsulphured molasses, can boost the microbes that help your plants grow, resulting in higher yields.

This technique also has a bonus effect of making the flavor of fruity strains pop. Give it a shot with Kannabia’s super-citrusy Amnesi-K Lemon–a cross between Amnesia, Lemon Skunk, and Jack Herer–to dial up the lemon and grapefruit notes.

Adding a little sweetener isn’t Kannabia’s only tip for growing this citrusy-strain, though. To bring out its full potential, their growers recommend monitoring the surrounding temperature closely and ensuring it always stays between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius, or about 64 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mikromachine is an autoflowering strain from Kannabia. (Courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company)

Automatic flowering for the people

Whether they’re sativas or indicas, autoflowering cannabis strains are crossed with Cannabis ruderalis–a subspecies apart from indica and sativa–giving them the ability to flower on their own after a short vegetative period without any hand-holding.

While autoflowering strains can be a good fit for some growers, the Kannabia team cautions that they can’t be treated like normal cannabis seedlings. Growers should avoid transplanting autoflower strains, for example, instead planting them directly in soil or a large pot. When feeding and fertilizing these strains, be sure to use products that are specialized with autoflowering in mind–otherwise you may end up with a cannabis plant with bonsai dimensions.

If autoflowering seems like a fit for you, Kannabia’s Mikromachine Auto strain is a great place to start. This easy-to-grow strain mixes classic strains Northern Lights and AK-47 with ruderalis to provide a potent and creative high.

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