Here’s What Researchers Know So Far About How Marijuana Legalization Affects Public Health

Legalizing marijuana has little to no impact on rates of violent or property crime, according to a new study that was funded by a federal agency. The policy change did seem connected to a long-term decline in burglaries in one state, however.

While previous attempts to understand the relationship between legal cannabis markets and crime have turned up mixed results, researchers involved in this study used an enhanced methodology–a “quasi-experimental, multi-group interrupted time-series design”–to produce stronger evidence.

The study, published in the journal Justice Quarterly and funded by the federal National Institute of Justice, found that violent and property crimes rates were not affected in a statistically significant way in the years after Colorado and Washington State became the first in the nation to legalize marijuana for adult use.

“Our results suggest that marijuana legalization and sales have had minimal to no effect on major crimes in Colorado or Washington,” the paper concluded. “We observed no statistically significant long-term effects of recreational cannabis laws or the initiation of retail sales on violent or property crime rates in these states.”

The study authors explicitly cited claims made by prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana and author Alex Berenson as being contradicted by their findings.

To determine the impact of legalization, researchers designed experimental models that compared crime rates in Colorado and Washington to those in 21 non-legal states from 1999 to 2016. The analysis was based on FBI data on violent, property, aggravated assault, auto theft, burglary, larceny and robbery crime rates.

Following legalization, there were one-time increases in property crime in the two states, as well as a spike in aggravated assault in Washington, but those did not reflect long-term trends, “suggesting that if marijuana legalization influenced crime, it was short-lived,” the study authors wrote.

Via Justice Quarterly.

Via Justice Quarterly.

There was one statistically significant long-term impact that the researchers did attribute to state marijuana laws: The burglary rate in Washington decreased, and that trend has held.

Via Justice Quarterly.

Via Justice Quarterly.

It’s not immediately clear why that is the case, and the study’s conclusion encourages future research that replicates and refines the design used for this experiment to solve answered questions.

“In summary, our results suggest that there may have been some immediate increases in crime at the point of legalization, yet there have been essentially no longterm shifts in crime rates because of legalization, aside from a decline in Burglary in Washington. Though the short-term increases might appear to suggest that marijuana increased crime, we caution against this interpretation as the increases do not reflect permanent shifts (that is, these are shifts in intercepts, not slopes) and could be artificially induced by the small number of time units between legalization and sales.”

Dale Willits, a study coauthor, said in a press release that in light of the “nationwide debate about legalization, the federal classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, and the consequences of legalization for crime continues, it is essential to center that discussion on studies that use contextualized and robust research designs with as few limitations as possible.”

“This is but one study and legalization of marijuana is still relatively new, but by replicating our findings, policymakers can answer the question of how legalization affects crime,” he said.

Study authors also noted that their analysis did not take into account other crimes such as drug impaired driving.

“Given the likelihood of further liberalization of state and even federal marijuana laws, it is imperative that policy makers and research funders allocate the necessary resources to conduct these more rigorous and intensive types of contextualized studies,” they concluded. “Large-scale policy shifts can take a considerable amount of time to produce stable and understandable effects.”

This is the second recent study that’s received Justice Department funding and arrived at a conclusion that runs against the logic of prohibition. Another example looked at the impact of legalization on law enforcement resources and trafficking trends.

Study Funded By Feds Debunks Myths About Marijuana Legalization’s Alleged Harms

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CBD: Hemp-derived, isolate, full spectrum and beyond

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally-occurring ingredient in both cannabis and its cousin, hemp. In medicine, it is used to treat a variety of symptoms and conditions, from epileptic seizures to chronic pain to insomnia and anxiety.

CBD is lauded for its ability to calm inflammation without creating an intoxicating high. No wonder, then, that it’s also an increasingly buzzy ingredient in health, wellness, and beauty products.

In its simplest form CBD is a molecule, and that molecule is the same regardless of whether it’s derived from cannabis or hemp. But not all CBD extraction methods are created equal, and not all hemp or cannabis products contain CBD.

Here to sort science from marketing, and the truth from misinformation, are the factors you should consider before buying a CBD–or so-called CBD–product.

Full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate are common terms used to describe CBD and other cannabis products. Although they sound like marketing buzzwords, they represent real and important distinctions about the cannabinoid(s) inside.

Full-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum products, sometimes called whole plant extracts, contain CBD as well as other ingredients extracted from the same plant matter. Full-spectrum CBD products are believed to benefit from the ‘entourage effect,’ a theory that the ingredients in cannabis work better together than in isolation.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain flavonoids and terpenes–ingredients that bring therapeutic benefits, along with scents and flavours–and may include other cannabinoids such as CBD, CBG, CBN, CBDa, THC, and THCa. Full-spectrum products are not recommended for people with THC sensitivity, as trace amounts of that cannabinoid may be present.

CBD isolate

CBD isolate is pure CBD, and is produced by removing all other compounds, including terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. It usually comes in the form of an odourless, flavourless powder, and is often used in clinical trials.

While CBD isolate doesn’t offer the potential benefits of the entourage effect, it is attractive for its ease of use and because it carries little to no risk of intoxication. However, at the time of writing, CBD isolate was not available to consumers on the Canadian market.

Broad-spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum CBD has no traces of THC, which are removed during the extraction process. Unlike CBD isolate, broad spectrum retains other cannabinoids and terpenes, enhancing its therapeutic potential through the entourage effect, the theory that the sum of cannabis’s natural ingredients is more effective than its parts.

Cannabis and hemp are two varieties of the same plant species, cannabis sativa. Hemp-derived CBD isolate vs cannabis-derived CBD isolate is an apples-to-apples comparison, because, again, it’s the same molecule.

But things get a little more complicated when comparing full and broad spectrum CBD derived from hemp versus their counterparts derived from cannabis, says cannabis scientist, educator, and speaker Alexzander Samuelsson.

Also known as Alex The Chemist, Samuelsson says that agricultural hemp has been bred over the years to be more fibrous and contain a lower cannabinoid content. Generally speaking, cannabis contains more cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, offering more therapeutic potential than its hemp counterpart.

Full-spectrum hemp CBD will still provide benefits from the entourage effect, but will likely have a lower concentration of terpenes and flavonoids, and require more plant matter to produce the same amount of those ingredients. Other factors that can affect the potency and proportions of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids include genetic heritage, or strain, and growing conditions.

Hemp oil is a popular ingredient in the skincare industry. It is known to be anti-inflammatory, it contains super-hydrating lipids, and it can heal skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and acne. However, it is not the same as CBD oil.

Products labeled ‘hemp oil’ or ‘hemp seed oil’ are derived from hemp seeds, not the whole hemp plant, and therefore contain little to no CBD. This doesn’t mean that hemp oil isn’t useful, simply that it is not a CBD product, even if the packaging shows pictures of hemp leaves, or displays the term cannabis sativa, which is simply the botanical name for hemp and cannabis.

Yes, CBD is CBD no matter which side of the border you’re on, but regulations and laws vary widely between these neighbouring nations (and vary quite a bit from state to state in the US, too). At the time of writing, CBD is a regulated phytocannabinoid under the Cannabis Act, regardless of whether it’s sourced from hemp or cannabis. This means it is illegal to bring it across national borders, possess it underage, or order it from unlicensed providers.

CBD health products from the US are illegal in Canada, and it is illegal to bring Canadian CBD products into the US. It’s easy to get confused, so always be sure to check with local laws before traveling with any hemp or cannabis based products.


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Using Cannabis to Treat Cancer

Cancer doesn’t play favorites. It doesn’t care what color you are, if you’re young or old, or whether you live in a penthouse apartment or a shanty town. When the diagnosis comes, as it will for half of us in our lifetime, we pin our hopes on accessing the best treatment to maximise our chance of survival.

Almost exactly a year ago, 30-year-old George Gannon found himself facing a bleak future. Doctors had discovered more than 12 tumors in his brain. The melanoma he’d had removed three years previously had metastasized.

The aggressive nature of George’s BRAF positive melanoma meant that even with standard treatments of radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy, his tumors had increased in size. With a prognosis of six months and no options left on the table, cannabis seemed to be the only hope.


George, a British cancer patient who turned to cannabis to shrink his tumors, smiles at the camera. He is standing in front of trees next to a river with a bridge in the background. He is a white man with a reddish-brown beard, blue eyes, and is wearing a rain jacket and a baseball cap.

George Gannon

George was determined to source a cannabis oil containing THC, the cannabinoid which until now has the most robust evidence for anti-tumoral effects.1 But living in the UK meant that anything other than the hemp-based CBD oils was illegal. So he turned to the black market.

George began taking his cannabis oil just before Christmas last year. By his next MRI scan in March, his tumors had stopped growing. For the next few months he resumed low doses of chemo, never once stopping his cannabinoid therapy.

The next scan in August, was a surprise to both George and his oncologist: the main mass on his left ventricle had disappeared and the other remaining lesions had decreased in size.

The oncologist – who had repeatedly told George to stop taking cannabis oil – said it was the best day of his professional career. But he wouldn’t acknowledge that cannabis may have played a part in the cancer’s reversal.

The oncologist’s reaction typified the skepticism of health professionals with respect to cannabis and cancer. Without solid evidence from clinical trials, most doctors dismiss the idea that cannabis could have antitumoral effects in patients. Which begs the question – How far away are we from getting the solid clinical evidence necessary to convince the medical profession that cannabis is a serious anticancer treatment?

Why so few clinical trials?

The only way for a drug to make it into the oncologists’ anticancer arsenal is for it to successfully pass through three phases of randomized double-blind placebo clinical trials testing safety, dosing, and efficacy.

Thirteen years have passed since the first small pilot study was conducted by Professor Manuel Guzman and his group at the Complutense University in Madrid.2 They tested the safety and antitumoral action of THC on a small group of patients with recurrent glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer – and the results were encouraging.

Project CBD spoke to Guzman to find why, more than a decade later, progress has been so slow. One answer lies in the nature of cancer itself.

“Cancer is a very complex disease,” says Guzman. “There are at least 150 different types of cancer from a histological point of view and there are hundreds if not thousands from a molecular or genetic profile standpoint. So when we speak about cannabis or any treatment for cancer, first you should define what type of cancer we are dealing with because it’s really unlikely that a unique substance or a mixture of related substances, as is the case in cannabis, will be effective in all types of cancer.

To this date, all cannabis-based clinical trials have focused on patients with glioblastoma. GW Pharmaceuticals followed up Guzman’s pilot study with a yet unpublished phase I/II trial using Sativex, a 1:1 THC:CBD sublingual tincture, alongside temozolomide, the standard chemotherapy treatment for glioblastoma.

According to a 2017 GW Pharma press release, administering a combination of Sativex and temozolomide increased one year survival rate by 30% and increased the median survival to 550 days from 369 days with temozolomide alone.3

“[The GW study] is the first and so far the only trial that has been conducted on cannabinoids and cancer that is more robust, that it is controlled by placebo, and is randomized,” says Guzman. “It’s also a double-blind trial in which neither the patient nor the doctor knows whether the patient is taking Sativex or the placebo.

“That trial was also promising. It has enhanced our optimism that maybe cannabinoid drugs can have an anti-tumour effect, at least in glioblastoma and at least in the relapsing phase. But we have very little clinical information only for one specific type of cancer. I hope that other cancers will be treated with cannabinoids in the frame of a controlled clinical trial. But to date we have nothing.”

Two further phase II glioblastoma clinical studies are also about to commence. This time, Guzman’s group will be assessing whether a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio combined with conventional cancer treatment is effective as a first line treatment rather than a relapsing state.4 And an Australian study (5) investigating tolerability of different cannabinoid combinations alongside chemo, radiotherapy or immunotherapy is also currently recruiting.5

Slow progress – pharma’s role

As exciting as these initial clinical findings might seem, progress is still painfully slow considering how long scientists like Guzman have been researching the antitumoral potential the cannabis plant holds. It seems like the odds are stacked against a cannabis-based anticancer drug ever making it to market.


Dr. Manuel Guzman sits in his lab and smiles at the camera. He is wearing a thick cotton hoodie and jeans.

Dr. Manuel Guzman in his lab.

Guzman: “Doing clinical research with cannabinoids is very complicated because THC, which to me is the main active ingredient in cannabis, is controlled by the United Nations and is a schedule 1 drug. So, it is subjected to very strong restrictions in the production, manufacturing and exporting, etc. That means many clinicians and investors get frightened. They don’t want to get into so much bureaucracy and they prefer to go for substances that are not classified as schedule 1. In general, my experience is that the bar that is set for cannabinoid clinical trials is higher than for other substances.

Dr. Guzman suggests the notable absence of pharmaceutical companies in cannabis-based drug development may also be holding up progress.

“Clinical trials are very much controlled by Big Pharma companies who have the financial means and resources. Philosophically speaking, I’m against the protection of the drug, but on the other hand, the pharma companies are not going to make any movement in any field unless they have the possibility to protect, to patent their products or the indications of their products. So that makes cannabis research more complicated because cannabinoids are natural products and can be extracted from the plant by anyone.”

One way to navigate the intellectual property quagmire is to concentrate on rare conditions with an ‘orphan’ status. Developing a drug for orphan diseases can be an easier route to gaining FDA marketing approval and enjoys various incentives such as tax breaks. Orphan status also allows for usually unpatentable substances such as isolated cannabinoids to be awarded exclusivity – and is likely the reason why the likes of GW Pharmaceuticals are concentrating on rare cancers like glioblastoma.

Another avenue is to patent specific cannabinoid combinations and ratios. This is another speciality of GW Pharma.

Guzman: “Basically the whole cannabis field is mined with GW patents. So, whenever a new company starts to get interested in the field and they make a first overview of how the patent situation is, many times they leave because they realize that everything is basically controlled by GW Pharma. They have been very intelligent in that respect and they are basically the owners of all the intellectual property rights, all active rights and future rights in this field. So that also scares companies.”

‘Common sense’ approach for cancer patients taking cannabis

Strategic decisions made in drug company boardrooms stalling the development of cannabinoid-based anticancer drugs means patients like George Gannon have little alternative but to figure out how to source their own cannabis oil, with all the difficulties that entails. Given the life-or-death stakes involved, Guzman does not begrudge someone’s decision to use cannabis oil for cancer. But he feels that a patient’s decision should be guided by common sense.

“First try to get a standardized preparation,’ Guzman says. “One has to know at least how much THC and CBD is present in the preparation, not ‘I’m just taking cannabis.’ There are a million types of cannabis. So try to get to know how much THC, CBD and other well-known active ingredients are present.

“And if you are using cannabis oil as a treatment, know at least that the oil has been produced with good agricultural practices and is not contaminated by different types of toxic substances: organic solvent residues, pesticides, heavy metals, mould etc.”

“I would include a regime of administration starting from very little, increasing over 3 or 4 weeks, until one gets a standard dose that is well tolerated and at least overtly efficient. Second, I would combine THC and CBD, starting with more CBD and then including THC to get it to a final balanced preparation. I can’t say exactly what is a balanced. Usually you can go for a ratio of say 1:5 ratio of THC:CBD.

“Third, as cannabinoids accumulate in the body because they are very lipophilic, in theory, receptors can desensitize and lose response. So, I’m in favor of including some ‘wash out’ periods from time to time when at least THC is taken out. I would say for instance 3 weeks of cannabis plus 4 or 5 days of wash-out, so there is time for CB1 [cannabinoid] receptors to get re-sensitized.”

Patients must share responsibility for normalizing cannabis

Many patients feel uncomfortable when faced with the question of whether or not to tell their oncologist about taking cannabis during cancer treatment. For Guzman, informing the medical team in charge of care is not only a matter of safety, but a major way of increasing awareness about cannabis within the medical profession itself.

“I think patients are very important, he says. “They are key players in this effort, and they have to push for cannabis to get into mainstream medicine. And one of the ways is simply by normalizing its use by patients. And yes, it’s likely that in some instances the physician is going to react negatively. But we have to try.

“Before I retire,” Guzman continues, “I’d like to know that using cannabis as a cancer treatment has been successful. But at the moment we don’t know. There are some preclinical signals, and also some very tiny clinical signals supporting that there may be an anticancer effect of cannabinoids.

“We have to improve that. And the evidence must come from different sites. Not only controlled clinical studies, but also observational studies, case studies that are reported by doctors about individual patients, and also the active role that I believe patients must play. They have to push. They have to speak about it. We are many different actors, and altogether we have to work hand in hand, otherwise it’s going to be almost impossible.”


Mary Biles is a journalist, blogger and educator with a background in holistic health. Based between the UK and Spain, she is committed to accurately reporting advances in medical cannabis research.

Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

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Cannabinoids for Scleroderma

When you cut yourself and start to heal, your body forms a matrix of tissue largely composed of collagen. It’s the basis of the scar tissue that forms where the cut was. For people with scleroderma, a rare auto-immune disease, their tissues continue developing even without an injury, resulting in the overproduction of collagen and other fibrous tissues, called fibroblasts, in the skin and internal organs.

People with scleroderma often experience pain and inflammation. As is the case with many autoimmune diseases, there aren’t any therapies that have been specifically developed to treat this condition. The scarcity of treatment options makes scleroderma an “orphan disease” – a special classification that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses to incentivize drug-makers to develop new and innovative “orphan drugs” for the treatment of rare diseases.

Two compounds that target the endocannabinoid systeminfo-icon are currently in development to treat scleroderma – and they’re already in clinical trials. Scleroderma patients are hoping that these efforts will prove to be as successful as Epidiolex, the cannabisinfo-icon-derived CBD pharmaceutical approved by the FDA in 2018 as an orphan drug for two forms of severe pediatric epilepsy (Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome).

What is scleroderma?

Degenerative autoimmune diseases are often poorly understood, and such is the case with scleroderma. Medical scientists don’t really know what causes it, or how to treat it. It’s theorized that both genetics and environmental factors can play a role in its development.

The earliest symptoms of scleroderma usually involve a thickening of the skin and a condition known as Reynaud’s phenomenon, which constricts the arteries and turns the fingers blue when they’re exposed to cold.

There are two primary types of scleroderma – localized scleroderma (morphea), which affects specific areas of the skin; and systemic scleroderma, a potentially fatal condition characterized by the thickening of tissues around organs. Systemic scleroderma can lead to excess collagen and scar tissue in the lungs (interstitial lung disease), resulting in the constriction and blockage of pulmonary arteries (pulmonary artery hypertension).1

The endocannabinoid system and scleroderma

Scleroderma usually appears at first as an abnormal skin condition. Skin diseases typically involve a dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is true for scleroderma, as well as for more common maladies like acne and psoriasis.

Comprised of endogenous compounds that bind to cannabinoidinfo-icon receptors – CB1 and CB2 – that are expressed in all types of skin cells, the ECS plays a vital role in maintaining skin homeostasis through a signaling mechanism that promotes healthy skin renewal and barrier function.2

There are several reasons why the endocannabinoid system might present a good target for scleroderma drugs. Both cannabinoid receptors subtypes are overexpressed in scleroderma fibroblasts,3 as is the endogenous cannabinoid 2-AG.4

Additionally, the expression of FAAH, the metabolic enzyme that breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamideinfo-icon, is abnormally low in the skin of scleroderma patients. This indicates that something is fundamentally out of whack with the endocannabinoid system.5

THC and fibrosis

In petri dishes and rodents, CB1 and CB2 receptors appear to play opposing roles in disease models of scleroderma. Activation of CB1 receptors actually promotes the growth of excess connective tissue.6CB2receptorinfo-icon activation, on the other hand, seems to limit that same growth. CB1 signaling in peripheral organs has a profibrotic effect (and also promotes wound healing); CB2 signaling has an antifibrotic (and blood-thinning) effect. A well-functioning endocannabinoid system maintains a balance between the pro and antifibrotic properties of CB1 and CB2.

Tetrahydrocannabinolinfo-icon (THC), the principal intoxicating component of cannabis, conveys therapeutic benefits by activating both cannabinoid receptor subtypes. When THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system, it makes a person feel high and hungry, among many other effects. When THC binds to CB2 receptors on immune cells and in the peripheral nervous system, it eases pain and inflammation. THC can induce profibrogenic or antifibrogenic effects in the liver, where both cannabinoid receptor subtypes are present. So, too, in the skin.

WIN55,212, a synthetic cannabinoid compound that activates both CB1 and CB2, is commonly used instead of THC in experiments. Some scientists decided to see what WIN55 would do in a rodent model of scleroderma. They found that rodents treated with this synthetic cannabinoid developed less excess collagen and generally fared better compared to untreated animals.7

Would other compounds – such as THC – that bind to both cannabinoid receptors confer similar effects? Or would THC accentuate problematic tissue growth by activating CB1 receptors? Unfortunately, in the United States clinical trials involving THC have gotten short shrift because of marijuana prohibition, resulting in a paucity of data pertaining to scleroderma and many other conditions that might respond to cannabis-based therapies.

A single case study from Israel indicates that smoking cannabis helped to alleviate inflammatory pain and improve the quality of life of one young scleroderma patient.8 The condition of this cannabis smoker remained stable throughout observation, suggesting that consumption of THC at the very least didn’t have a harmful impact on his disease. But a chemical analysis was not performed on his stash, so we have no way of knowing the content of what he was actually consuming.

Clinical trials for cannabinoids

Given that CB1 receptor activation in preclinical research has been shown to promote excess tissue and collagen formation whereas CB2 receptor activation has the opposite effect, pharmaceutical researchers have their sights set on developing a drug that bypasses CB1 while boosting CB2. Referred to as a “selective CB2agonistinfo-icon,” such a compound would appear to have potential as a treatment for scleroderma.

What’s more, CB2 receptors are localized primarily outside the brain and therefore are not responsible for mediating THC-induced intoxication. A drug that selectively targets CB2 receptors would not cause any of the psychoactive side effects associated with CB1 activation – and that’s a big plus in terms of getting FDA approval.

Incentivized by the potential of developing an orphan drug for scleroderma, a couple of companies are betting on selective CB2 agonists that are currently in clinical trials. Ajulemic acid (AJA), under the brand name Lenabasum, is in a Phase 3 trial. And an orally administered, partially synthetic cannabinoid derived from CBD called EHP-101 (formerly VCE-004.8) is pursuing Phase 1. Both of these compounds have been shown to mitigate the production of excess tissues in rodent models, and both are well tolerated in humans.

It remains to be seen whether these efforts will bear fruit. Although earlier attempts to develop synthetic CB2 agonists into effective therapeutic modalities came up short, the progress of current clinical trials is encouraging. But there’s no telling if or when these scleroderma drugs might go to market. Meanwhile, readily available whole plant remedies may already be a viable option for scleroderma patients in states where medical cannabis and adult use are legal.

What about CBD?

CBD-rich cannabis, which remains off-limits (with few exceptions) to medical researchers, has never been formally studied as a scleroderma treatment. But extensive preclinical investigations with molecular isolates suggest that cannabidiolinfo-icon could be helpful for a number of reasons.

In vivo studies indicate that CBD inhibits CB1 receptor signaling without completely blocking it. Imagine that CB1 operates like a dimmer switch – CBD turns it down but not entirely. In theory, this would impede tissue or collagen overproduction.

At the same time, CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory that augments CB2 receptor signaling, thereby boosting the antifibrogenic activity that’s sorely deficient in scleroderma patients. Scientists have yet to sort out exactly how CBD induces effects that are similar to CB2 activation without binding directly to the CB2 receptor.

But this much is known: CBD can differentially modulate CB1 and CB2 receptor signaling by down-regulating the former while amplifying the latter – a beneficial combination for treating scleroderma. CBD also holds promise as a remedy for several other disorders (including fatty liver disease, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome) that are associated with overactive CB1 receptor signaling and inadequate CB2 stimulation.

Cannabinoid science suggests that scleroderma patients (and many others) could also benefit by increasing their dietary intake of ss-caryophyllene, a common botanical compound found in cannabis, bitter greens, and kitchen spices such as black pepper, oregano, and cinnamon. ss-caryophyllene, an aromatic terpeneinfo-icon, selectively activates the CB2 receptor without activating CB1.9

Perhaps a CBD-rich cannabis remedy – a topical and/or an ingestible – with a robust terpene profile that includes a healthy dose of ss-caryophyllene would be worth a try for scleroderma patients. Those who are using cannabis to treat an autoimmune condition should make sure their doctor knows; high doses of CBD and other plant cannabinoids may interact with pharmaceutical meds. And keep Project CBD in the loop, as well. If you use cannabis for scleroderma, let us know how it goes.


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4 cannabis producers on what makes a strain great to grow


October 1, 2019

(Julia Sumpter)

It can be hard enough to decide what strain to purchase or grow yourself, so can you imagine the pressure of doing so for a large scale cannabis operation?For the uninitiated, strains are not one-size-grows-all by any stretch of the imagination. Cultivators who produce flower for your local dispensary need to put a lot of deliberation into the process. Tossing dead plants when things go awry is something a big commercial grow simply cannot afford to do.

Temperature, humidity, pests, light availability, and lots of other factors can trash a grow, and commercial farmers have to know every detail while still providing big yields. It’s a lot more than just making a basic cannabis bonsai like the rest of us beginners.

We spoke with four growers about which strains get the job done of getting you high. Getting an inside peek into how some of today’s powerhouse cannabis companies pick their genetics for efficiency and fragrance is valuable advice for hobby growers, consumers, and anyone else with a passing interest in the plant.

Strain selection can often come down to climate and terroir, especially with sun grown operations. Aster Farms, a popular Lake County, California, cultivator, has a high elevation coupled with less humidity: In terms of weed, the low moisture atmosphere can help cannabis thrive in cold nights, with lower chances of mold and frost, which are certain weed killers.

Aster Farms’ CEO Julia Jacobson says this lets them aim for tropical sativas that typically don’t perform well in California weather, and that the terpene content is heavily influenced by the operation’s live soil techniques, which create fungal networks that some growers swear by.

“Since our climate is higher and drier, we are able to grow less hardy and longer-taking varietals–sativas and more tropical strains like White Widow. Therefore, we have the advantage of being able to select strains based on our product portfolio and desired effects, not having to worry about climate,” she says.

Founder and CEO of Paradiso Gardens Christina Dipaci had genetics optimized just for her setup. Their Salinas Valley, California, grow calls Grandiflora Genetics’ Project 4516 one of their most popular strains.

“Grandiflora’s strains are all bred to yield well and be resistant to bugs. Working with the breeder helps us develop the perfect environment for each particular strain,” says Dipaci.

Paradiso often does trial periods to analyze key strains before completing full runs, which allowed them to determine that Project 4516 was a prolific choice. Dipaci explains, “Project 4516 is ideal for the customer and the op because we are able to grow it to its fullest expression of color, taste, and flavor at a larger scale.”

You can find Nug California products at dozens of locations around the Golden State, and their size would probably allow for national distribution if federal law were remotely at that point.

Until then, despite having their favorite cultivars racked up to rake in the big buds, master grower Ryan Tonsberg cites Strawberry Fruity Pebbles, Sunshine OG, and Kush Mint Animal Cookies as their standout strains. These were the finalists of over 40 choices, Tonsberg explains, and they test four new strains per month, constantly fine-tuning their selection.

He said the Sunshine OG and Strawberry Fruity Pebbles thrive because “Their genetics match our environment really well. We have large grow rooms so it’s not possible to dial in temp and humidity for each strain individually. We have to run on what’s ideal for most of the stains we carry.”

He continued: “If a strain is really susceptible to pests or disease, we have to take that into consideration. Production and ease of cultivation are important, but our guys are willing to put in the extra time and effort if the strain is worth it.”

Johnny Casali, chief cultivator at Huckleberry Hill Farms–who supplies to California mega-brand Flow Kana–cultivates his mother’s 45-year-old strain, Whitethorn Rose, for its supreme quality.

“Bred from a strain that has been cultivated on the same exact property for the last 45 years, I truly believe that it is adapted to the special terroir and thrives here better than anywhere else in the world,” Casali says.

Heritage strains like Whitethorn Rose even cost Casali time in prison, but this did not deter his stewardship of it into today’s place of esteem.

Terpenes are every plant’s natural pest repellent–the main reason you rarely see spider mites and aphids on culinary herbs. Casali says this is a boon in cannabis language as well, “One of my favorite parts of cultivating Whitethorn Rose is that because of its high terpene profile, it’s super resistant to any kind of pests and any kind of molds including powdery mildew. For me, this is a huge advantage.”

With the legal market primarily based in the West Coast for the time being, there’s no telling what people will be crossing to make potent and pest-repelling piff in the coming decades–likely in new locales where cannabis was once illegal.

For now, these entrepreneurial cultivators are building the lasting foundation of the commercial cannabis industry, and it says a lot about what will be on shelves in the years to come.


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Want the most from your cannabis terpenes? Temperature matters

Cannabis flowers contain hundreds of chemical compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes. Terpenes are scented molecules that are responsible for the flavour and aroma of cannabis.

In addition to lending flavour to cannabis, they also contribute to its effects on the body, both individually and in combination with cannabinoids.

Most vaporizing temperature recommendations focus on the boiling point of THC (157?C) and other cannabinoids, such as CBD (180?C). But for an even more customized experience, you may want to consider the boiling points of terpenes, too.

Here, we’ll review the boiling points of five major terpenes, and explain how you might use this information to your benefit when vaporizing cannabis flower.

How to target terpenes while vaporizing

In order to preferentially vaporize specific compounds, you will need a vaporizer with an adjustable temperature control.

Keep in mind that altering the temperature you are vaporizing at may reduce the amount of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids that are activated.

It’s important to look at the boiling points of the other major compounds in the plant and consider which ones are close to your target terpene. THC’s boiling point is 157?C, and CBD’s is 180?C.

It’s also important to note that compounds will begin to vaporize at temperatures lower than their boiling points, and will also vaporize at temperatures higher than their boiling points.

Given the diversity of compounds within cannabis, and the range of vaporization points, it’s impossible to target a single compound for vaporization. This is not necessarily undesirable, though, because scientists believe terpenes and cannabinoids work synergistically in what is called the entourage effect.

Playing with vape temperatures in this way will probably have more impact on flavour than effects, which will likely be subtle.

Regardless, vaporizing temperature will certainly alter the aromatic experience, and the perceived flavour of your cannabis. It’s also important to note that some of the effects you experience could be due to your beliefs and expectations about the effects of terpenes.

Ideal temperatures for vaporizing terpenes


Myrcene is a sedative compound that is thought to flip the effects of THC from energizing to couch-locking. If it’s relaxation or help sleeping you’re after, myrcene is the terpene you want to target. The boiling point of myrcene is 167?C.


Pinene is an energizing scent that may contribute to a more alert, active high. Some scientists believe it may counteract the short-term memory deficits induced by THC. Preferentially, vaporizing pinene makes sense if you’re using cannabis during the day or at a time where you want to be mentally sharp.

The boiling point of pinene is 156?C.


Limonene is thought to elevate mood, and some research suggests it might treat depression. This could be a good terpene to try targeting if you are feeling down. Regardless of its potential effects, this compound lends a pleasant lemon note to the cannabis experience.

The boiling point of limonene is 176?C.


Studies suggest that caryophyllene may have analgesic effects. It may be a good terpene to preferentially vaporize if you are using cannabis to treat pain. It offers a spicy, woody, and peppery scent.

The boiling point of caryophyllene is 130?C.


Linalool is a sedative, relaxing compound, which may also elevate mood. Targeting the temperature for this terpene makes sense when using cannabis to relax or before bedtime. It also contributes a floral aroma to the vaporizing experience.

The boiling point of linalool is 198?C.

Optimizing terpenes for specific situations

Scenario 1: You’re using cannabis during the day, and you want to get some work done.

Let’s say you have some Tweed Penelope, which contains pinene and myrcene, on hand. Target the pinene (156?C) and stay below the boiling point for the highly sedative myrcene (167?C). Since THC vaporizes at 157?C, you’ll likely want to vape at this temperature.

Scenario 2: You’re home for the night and would like to use cannabis to relax.

If you typically reach for Houseplant’s Indica strain, which contains linalool and myrcene, you may want to start your session around the boiling point of myrcene (167?C), which will also vaporize THC. Later in the session, you can step up your temperature to 198?C, which will target linalool, another sedative terpene.

Scenario 3: You’re in pain, and you’re using cannabis to feel better.

Sour Diesel is available from several Canadian licensed producers, and frequently contains caryophyllene and myrcene. If that’s your go-to pain strain, start at 130?C to target caryophyllene. Step up to 157?C to add some THC to the mix, and finish up around 180?C to benefit from CBD’s pain-relieving effects. If you want to avoid sedation, skip the last step and stay below the boiling point of myrcene (167?C).

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