Which Cannabis Strain Should You Be Growing?

Once you’ve made the decision to grow your own cannabis, you probably have a couple favorite strains in mind. Picking a strain is one of the most exciting aspects of homegrowing, but setting up a successful garden requires careful planning and consideration, no matter what your experience level.

Starting a grow takes an investment of time and money, and which strain you decide to grow will influence how you build out your garden.

Picking a strain to grow is ultimately a matter of balancing what is available to you and what your individual needs, experience, and growing preferences are. Below are some factors to consider to help you pick the right strain for your garden.

Grow Experience

The great thing about cannabis cultivation is that you don’t have to be an expert to get started. Any cannabis enthusiast can grow at home with a bit of planning and research.

Nevertheless, some strains require more care and attention than others. This information is usually made available by breeders and distributors, but be sure to do some research to see how difficult specific strains are to grow.

Difficulty equates to more care and attention, which can involve a more complex nutrient regiment, more training requirements, and perhaps paying more attention to environmental factors. These all take time, patience, and research to master, especially if you don’t have much growing experience.

That being said, don’t let the difficulty factor discourage you from cultivating your favorite strain. As long as you’re determined and know what you’re getting yourself into, by all means, go for it.

Availability of Strains

Where you live and intend to set up your garden will affect what strains you have access to. Although there are many strains in circulation, not all markets carry certain varietals.

The legality of cannabis in your state will determine whether you can buy seeds or clones at the dispensary. Even if you can, you’ll be limited to genetics that are only produced in your state, as seeds and clones can’t cross state lines.

The selection of genetics will be contingent on many variables, including what local farmers are circulating, the time of year, and demand. Popular strains will be easier to find as the market favors supply and demand.

Contact local seed and clone suppliers to see what they have. That way, you can have the jump on genetics you want as they become available throughout the year.

Seed banks exist outside of the US and can sell seeds for “souvenir purposes,” but it is illegal to bring seeds into the US. Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person.

Climate and Environment

Cultivating indoors or outdoors will also affect which strain you choose. Certain strains benefit from open space and are easier to grow outdoors. For example, sativas tend to grow taller than indicas and have a more open bud structure, making them better in warmer and more humid climates.

Cultivars such as Lemon Skunk and Chocolope are known for their towering canopies and moderate-to-intense stretching and will benefit greatly from the extra sun and space of an outdoor garden. Just be sure to plant them early as they have long flowering times.

Other strains need more attention and are more susceptible to pests. These usually benefit from a climate-controlled environment. OG Kush is considered a more finicky strain to grow, so it will probably benefit from being grown indoors despite its tendency to stretch.

Dwarf and auto-flowering varieties grow short and bushy, making them perfect companions for spatially limited grows. Lowryder is a dwarf cultivar and Hash Plant and Critical Kush are other varieties that grow small and have short flowering times.

Garden Planning

Cannabis can be grown successfully in small or large spaces, but know how much space you have to work with before you start building out your garden in order to figure out which strains are suitable. For example, if growing in a small space, consider growing indicas, which tend to grow shorter and bushier.

Many OG strains, like OG Kush, need specific nutrients, like a higher quantity of calcium and magnesium. Other varieties such as Blue Dream or Green Crack don’t need as much watering and can be left alone for longer periods and given a less stringent nutrient schedule.

Also take into consideration flowering time. Some strains take longer to mature than others and if you want a quick turnaround, aim for strains that take 8-9 weeks to flower instead of 12.

Certain strains will need different types of soil, and some will need more watering and nutrients than others.

Other factors to consider before planning out the parameters of a cannabis garden include:

  • What kind of soil or grow medium you’ll use
  • How many lights you’ll need and how bright they need to be
  • The number of plants you’ll have

Be sure to also give yourself room to work in your garden. You’ll need workspaces to put soil in pots, take clones or plant seeds, and room to move potted plants around and water plants.

Strain Preference

At the end of the day, choosing a strain that meets your needs is the most important factor. You want to enjoy the fruits of your labor after months of hard work and dedication. Think about why you want a specific strain:

  • If you’re looking for aroma and flavor, try growing a strain with a great terpene profile, even if it’s lower in THC.
  • If you’re looking to grow a strain simply to process into a concentrate, you’ll probably want something known for producing a lot of resin.
  • If you’re looking for symptom relief, check out Leafly’s strain database and find one that meets your needs–you might want something with a particular THC to CBD ratio.

Research and planning is essential to building out your cannabis garden and picking which strain to grow in that garden. Whatever your wants or needs, as long as you’re determined, you’ll be on the way to growing your own cannabis in no time.

Check out this Twitter post and see what some of our followers’ favorite strains to grow are. Let us know yourself!

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Weed Weddings: ‘You May Kiss the Bride… and Hand Her a Joint’

Imagine a wedding ceremony during which the groom embraces the bride then pulls two joints out of his pocket. The wedding officiant says, “You may now smoke with the bride,” and provides a light to the happy pair, who start their married life with a giant puff of their favourite cannabis strain.

Scenarios like this are playing out with increasing frequency in US states that have already legalized cannabis for recreational use. In fact, canna-weddings are a booming business in much of the country. Event planners, retailers, bakers, and florists are all involved in the niche industry. Many of them even attend special cannabis wedding expos.

Now that adult-use cannabis is legal across Canada, the trend is starting here. Calgary-based Lifted Cannabis Weddings opened for business a year ago. Owner Laureen Cameron, who has been an event planner for a decade, is now helping a growing number of Canadian couples plan canna-weddings.

She says that, in some ways, a canna-wedding isn’t that different from a conventional one. “The theme of the wedding is still going be the same, the people are still getting married for all the same reasons,” says Cameron. But there are some differences.

At a canna-wedding, cannabis can play a role in the spiritual aspect of the event, with couples smoking up during the ceremony itself, and it can be handed out as party favours. Of course, cannabis is most often used where you would most expect it to be–at the reception.

Some couples offer cannabis at their weddings the way other couples offer alcohol. Some canna-weddings feature special “bud bars,” where budtenders provide strains to guests, advise them about their choices and roll their joints.

South of the border, the scope of cannabis use at canna-weddings is expanding at a rapid pace. In fact, one American couple recently included $8,000 worth of cannabis at their nuptials in California. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were decorated with cannabis buds and flower and the ushers sported boutonnieres featuring cannabis leaves and buds.

Use is a little more modest at Canadian weddings. “Right now, cannabis is used primarily for the receptions and as party favours,” says Cameron. But she adds that is likely to change as canna-weddings become more popular here.

With more of them on the horizon, Cameron has been sharing some tips for interested couples:

Strain Selection

She won’t recommend a particular strain of cannabis, insisting there is “never a one size fits all. It depends on the kind of vibe you want at your wedding,” she says. “Personally, I am very interested in a strain called Wedding Cake. It’s fitting.”

Dosing

“Every individual has a different comfort level so it’s not one size fits all in this aspect either. All you can really do is [make your guests aware] that the cannabis can be used at the wedding or afterwards,” she says. “Just because you have a joint as your party favour, you don’t have to have it right then and there.”

Education

“Educate your guests. Let them know what they are choosing to do when they use cannabis,” says Cameron. She adds that, if many of the wedding guests are new to cannabis, it might be a good idea to have station where those who are interested can go rather than to hand cannabis to every guest as a party favour.

Couples who are seriously looking into planning canna-weddings could attend Canadian Cannabis Wedding Expo in Calgary in March. Traditional wedding planners and canna-wedding specialists will be on hand as will cannabis retailers.

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7 Hemp Heroes Who Changed the Game

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is a hardline conservative who ranks among the most powerful politicians in Washington, DC. He’s also now an official (albeit unlikely) “hemp hero” thanks to an amendment he added to the massive 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp as an agricultural commodity in the United States for the first time in over 80 years.

In its long history, the hemp movement has produced many heroes we can celebrate wholeheartedly, including activists, scientists, authors, and a few of the nation’s Founding Fathers.

Hoping to provide a viable crop replacement for his state’s struggling tobacco farmers, McConnell leveraged his leadership position in the Senate to move the provision through the legislative process at lightning speed.

American farmers are now free to grow and process hemp for industrial uses, as a nutritious food source, or to create hemp-derived CBD products. Which means an issue long considered a far-left pipe dream has suddenly became the law of the land–which much thanks to one of America’s least groovy politicians.

The problem with Mitch McConnell is that he hasn’t been a “hemp hero” for very long, and he remains adamantly opposed to legalization of cannabis. So we’re talking about a guy who considered hemp too dangerous to grow in American soil until domestic tobacco was no longer sufficiently profitable. And he still doesn’t support letting Kentucky’s farmers grow high-THC cannabis varieties. In fact, he’s been a key voice in Congress opposing efforts to protect the existing legal cannabis industry in the United States, never mind end federal prohibition entirely.

For a politician who’s long been a proud backer of Big Tobacco to turn up his nose at cannabis is just inexcusable.

Besides, in its long history, the hemp movement has produced many heroes we can celebrate wholeheartedly, including activists, scientists, authors, and a few of the nation’s Founding Fathers. Here’s the story of seven who truly changed the game.

George Washington

(AP)

Yes, many of the Founding Fathers grew hemp–a versatile crop that played an invaluable role in colonial America’s economy–though there’s no direct evidence any of them got high on their own supply.

“I am very glad to hear that the Gardener has saved so much of the India Hemp [seed],” George Washington wrote to William Pearce, his farm manager, in 1794. “Make the most [of it]… Let the ground be well prepared. The Hemp may be sown anywhere.”

Washington initially became interested in hemp as a commercial crop in the 1760s, when the price he fetched for his tobacco crop suddenly plummeted (sound familiar?). But ultimately he decided to focus on wheat instead, while growing just enough hemp to supply his own needs on the farm.

Primarily, the future leader of the American Revolution used the hemp he grew at Monticello to make the large nets he used to pull fish from the nearby Potomac River.

Today, after two centuries of absence, hemp once again grows at the site of Washington’s home and farm, which the National Park Service now maintains as a National Historic Landmark and model farm. The first modern crop of Mount Vernon hemp was harvested in 2018 and used to make rope and cloth.

Sister Mary Etienne Tibeau

Sister Mary Etienne Tibeau was a Catholic nun associated with Mount Mercy Junior College of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

What she accomplished in terms of determining how and when to best fertilize cannabis formed the basis for the next 80-years of experimentation.

In 1936, just a year before federal prohibition of hemp became the law of the land in the United States, she published a study in Plant Physiology–the journal of the American Society of Plant Biologists–called Time Factor in Utilization of Mineral Nutrients By Hemp. Her results came for a series of double-blind experiments she conducted herself, in which she took identical sets of hemp seedlings and grew them under the exact same conditions, except in each different set she varied “the composition of various nutrient solutions, and the time of growth in these cultures, in order to test the effect of these treatments.”

In his Cultivator’s Handbook of Marijuana, author Bill Drake calls Sister Mary “every cannabis grower’s spiritual mother superior,” and says she “writes of her work with her plants with the systematic vision of a fascinated researcher. Her work concentrates particularly on the nutrients required to produce the largest and thickest leaves and the greatest amounts of resin.”

Though details of her life are hard to come by, Tibeau’s influence on the past 85 years of cannabis cultivation (whether hemp or weed) is undeniable. Though only a rare few remember her name, what she accomplished in terms of determining how and when to best fertilize cannabis formed the basis for the next 80-years of experimentation.

Which means it’s long past time somebody named a strain “Sister Mary.”

Jack Herer

(AP)

Born in New York City in 1939, Jack Herer dropped out of high school to join the Army and serve in Korea. He didn’t try smoking cannabis for the first time until he’d turned thirty, and not long after, ditched his job as a sign maker and opened up a head shop on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, pledging to campaign tirelessly until cannabis was legal and everyone was let out of prison, or he turned 84–whichever came first.

In 1981, Herer was arrested for trespassing on federal property while collecting signatures for a cannabis ballot initiative. Given two weeks in prison, he used the time to start work on The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which was published in 1985. Through painstaking research, Herer’s magnum opus told the hidden history of hemp–a once-revered crop cultivated for more than 10,000 years, that played a vital role in America’s economy from colonial times until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made growing it a federal crime.

“I don’t know if hemp is going to save the world, but it’s the only thing that can.”

Jack Herer

Herer’s underground bestseller argued that ending hemp’s misguided prohibition, and allowing a commercial crop to flourish once again, would yield incredible benefits, including but not limited to feeding the world, freeing us from fossil fuels, reversing climate change, replacing plastics, ending the housing crisis, and restoring our planet’s depleted soils.

“I don’t know if hemp is going to save the world,” he once famously opined, “but it’s the only thing that can.”

Alex White Plume

Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (in South Dakota) in 1952, Alex While Plume has devoted much of his life to advocating for legal hemp production on reservation land as a way to bring an economically and environmentally sustainable source of income to a place stricken with few job opportunities and systemic poverty.

In 1998, he persuaded the Oglala Sioux Tribe to adopt an ordinance exempting industrial hemp from the tribe’s ban on cannabis cultivation. Two years later, believing the ordinance and the tribe’s sovereign status would protect his efforts from interference by the US federal government, he grew a small plot of hand-sewn hemp.

But before that minuscule amount of non-intoxicating cannabis–grown in one of the most remote and resource deprived areas under US jurisdiction–reached maturity, a deployment of federal agents wielding guns and wearing bullet proof vests arrived at White-Plume’s land, where he lived with extended family in a compound of modest homes and trailer houses.

The feds brought along metal weed whackers, to chop down the crop and haul it away. As they did the next year, when White Plume again defiantly planted hemp. In 2002, he actually managed to harvest his small crop, but shortly after he was hit with a court order proactively prohibiting him from planting any more hemp until the DEA gave him permission. This caused him to finally relent from replanting, but White Plume would continue to tirelessly advocate for hemp–both within the Oglala Sioux Tribe and globally.

In 2016, based on new protections for hemp farming at the federal level, he took a chance and started growing again, this time a small commercial crop. He now sells his output to a Colorado-based company called Evo Hemp, which uses it to make tinctures and capsules, including a signature line with White Plume’s name on the label.

Kenneth Galbraith

At one point during his campaign to legalize hemp cultivation throughout the United States, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered some props to fellow Kentucky Republican James Comer, calling him the “first Kentuckian to take a major lead role in what has now developed into a national consensus.”

This really irked Molly Galbraith, daughter of the late, great Kenneth Galbraith.

Galbraith wore hemp suits on the campaign trail throughout that campaign, and five subsequent unsuccessful runs for Governor–a quixotic pursuit that he shrewdly used as a platform to inform people about cannabis and hemp. Known as a colorful character and a straight shooter, Galbraith won over a lot of converts on both sides of the aisle by being persistent, and by positioning hemp as a replacement crop for Kentucky’s ailing tobacco farmers.

His highest moment on the campaign trail was no doubt crossing Kentucky in a hemp-fueled car with Willie Nelson. But his greatest legacy will be that his home state led the charge to successfully re-legalize hemp cultivation

David Bronner

(AP)

Emanuel Bronner was a third-generation German Jewish soap maker who emigrated to the United States in 1929. Intent on branching out on his own in the soap business, he ended up narrowly escaping the Holocaust, which saw both his parents meet their ends in a Nazi death camp. After that, and the untimely death of his wife in America, he developed an All-One Philosophy that defies easy summation, and remains printed on the side of every iconic bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap to this day.

Dr. Bronner’s donates millions of dollars every year to cannabis legalization, mental health research, environmental justice, animal-rights causes, and LGBT communities.

“Somehow in the midst of the massive personal tragedy, my grandfather experienced intense mystical love and the oneness of humanity,” David Bronner, now the company’s CEO, explains. “He urgently promoted his All-One mission to convince the public and world leaders alike that we must recognize our transcendent unity across ethnic and religious divides.”

For more on Emanuel Bronner, check out the entertaining and enlightening documentary Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox. But what’s essential for our purposes is that his mix of high ideals and a highly utilitarian all-natural product with 18 different uses made Dr. Bronner’s soap a hit with the hippies of the 1960s and 70s. And then things really took off in 1999, when at the insistence of David Bronner, the company began adding hemp oil to their soaps–with annual sales skyrocketing from roughly $4 million that year to $100 million in 2015.

At one point the company was importing 20 tons of Canadian hemp seed oil annually, but they’ve been increasingly sourcing domestically as US hemp production ramps up post-prohibition. Dr. Bronner’s also donates millions of dollars every year to cannabis legalization, mental health research, environmental justice, animal-rights causes, and LGBT communities.

David Bronner himself is an outspoken activist, one who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Like the time he helped plant hemp seeds on the lawn outside the DEA building in Arlington, Virginia. Or the time he locked himself in a cage outside the White House for a few hours to protest hemp prohibition.

Doug Fine

Author, NPR contributor, and self-described solar-powered goat herder Doug Fine didn’t so much change the game when it comes to hemp, as he did document the changing of said game. In Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution, he also presents a roadmap for moving from a petroleum-based society to one largely run on hemp.

Ultimately, the author predicts a future where hemp produces even more taxable revenue than legalized cannabis, while feeding the world, freeing us from fossil fuels, reversing climate change, and restoring our planet’s depleted soils. And in case you’re wondering, Fine does indeed get not-high on his own supply, having became a hemp farmer himself shortly after the book was published in 2014.

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Which Is More Potent, Vaping Cannabis or Smoking a Joint?

Cannabis vaporizers and pre-packaged cartridges continue to grow in popularity, with sales estimated to grow nearly 50% from 2017 to 2018. Vaping delivers a different experience than smoking a joint, but it’s not easy to quantify that difference. Recently, though, scientists have looked into the question and found that vaping actually packs a more powerful punch than the traditional joint.

Vaping ‘can produce drastically different’ experiences than smoking joints.

Tory Spindle, postdoctoral fellow, John Hopkins University

According to a recent JAMA study that examined cannabis consumption in infrequent consumers, people who vaporized cannabis flower experienced more pronounced effects than those who smoked the same dose. What’s more, effects increased along with the dose administered, suggesting that vaporized flower should be approached with more conservative dosing than any other consumption method, especially for infrequent consumers.

While the lead author acknowledged that the study has some limitations, he echoed its conclusions in an interview with Leafly: “It was surprising, the magnitude of difference between equal doses of smoking versus vaping,” said Tory Spindle, a postdoctoral fellow with John Hopkins University’s Bayview Medical Center. Vaping “can produce drastically different impairment” for all consumers, he said.

More Efficient THC Delivery

Previous studies have shown that vaping is a more efficient THC delivery method than smoking, so researchers sought to examine its impacts on several outcomes at two doses and to compare these results with both smoking the same doses and consuming placebo doses of a THC-free substance. Researchers conducted the study between June 2016-January 2017 at Hopkins’ Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit.

The population studied was made up of nine men and eight women with a mean age of 27.3 who were prescreened for cannabis and other drug use beforehand to confirm they all had gone an average of 13 months without consuming cannabis before the study.

Additionally, researchers assessed the participants before they consumed cannabis and then at 10 points afterwards up to 8 hours after they had consumed each of the six study doses (three vaping and three smoking) and each dose was measured to ensure consistency and with participants blinded to the amount they were using.

“We were able to control dosing better across the two conditions,” Spindle said, noting that this was likely why the study yielded different results. This research method allowing for titrated doses, or more carefully-calculated individual doses, which has been difficult to achieve in much of the past research on this subject.

Measuring Vaporized Flower’s Effects

When it came to measuring the cannabis affects, researchers applied the Drug Effect Questionnaire and three computerized tasks, The Digit Symbol Substitution Task, Divided Attention Task and Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task. These tasks were chosen because they “previously demonstrated to be acutely influenced by cannabis self-administration and representative of workplace performance and/or operation of a motor vehicle.”

Researchers tested subjects vaping flower, not cannabis oil. So there’s more work to be done.

Comparing 17 participants’ outcomes across vaping and smoking, researchers found statistically significant differences at a 25-mg THC dose. With vaping, consumers experienced more adverse effects, or “pronounced impairment of cognitive and psychomotor ability,” determined by their performances on the computer tests. Consumers that vaped also experienced more paranoia and anxiety than their smoking peers.

The results were similar at a lower dose as well. At 10 mg THC, vaporized cannabis flower “modestly” harmed cognitive functioning and yielded significant differences with smoking, as measured by mean drug effect scores.

“For both inhalation methods, mean peak changes for ratings of drug effect at the 10-mg and 25-mg doses were significantly greater than placebo,” the researchers also found. “Significant, sometimes adverse, drug effects can occur at relatively low THC doses in infrequent cannabis users,” they wrote, “and accordingly, these data should be considered with regard to regulation of retail cannabis products and education for individuals initiating cannabis use.”

What This Means for Consumers

The cannabis administered in the study contained 13% THC (as well as 0.03% CBD and 0.8% cannabinol), according to Spindle, which says a lot about how infrequent users and especially new medical cannabis patients should dose themselves if they choose to vape. Keeping in mind too that cannabis products available at dispensaries are usually more THC-rich than these research doses.

As for regular cannabis consumers with a high tolerance to THC, the results cannot be extrapolated, one of a few limitations in the study. Other limitations included using a range of only three doses and one strain of cannabis (which was low in CBD, Spindle noted), and using only flower and a single vaporizer type (the Volcano Medic) for the vaping portion, and a small pipe for the smoking research. Researchers did not examine the effects of vaping liquid cannabis or using other vaping instruments.

“This is one vaporizer and we need to do more research,” Spindle said. “Definitely more studies are needed to see if these effects are applicable across other types of variables.”

Need to Test More Variables

That idea was echoed in the research, which stated that more controlled studies of a variety of vaporizing and smoking methods are “vital” and “may inform dosing guidelines, cannabis policy and regulation, and procedures for detecting acute cannabis intoxication.”

In addition, the corresponding author for this study, Ryan Vandrey, said, “We still don’t have a full look at the long-term effects of vaping, such as whether there is a risk for chronic bronchitis, and more work needs to be done on that front,” according to a news release issued by the Hopkins School of Medicine (where Vandrey is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences).

On the other hand, some results from previous studies were echoed in this John Hopkins study, like, for instance, researchers did not find strong correlations between results and THC blood concentration.

“THC doesn’t stay in the blood that long,” Spindle said, cautioning: Blood concentration levels “can go back to baseline before you’re done feeling the effects.”

Collectively, the findings from this study and others indicate yet again that blood THC concentrations are not a valid indicator of a cannabis consumer’s intoxication and/or impairment, and that it’s a much more complex issue than once assumed.

As the study concluded: “It highlights the need to explore other biological and behavioral means of detecting acute cannabis impairment.”

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Pain Relief, Cannabinoids, and Neuroplasticity With Dr. Michael Moskowitz

The most amazing thing about the progress in cannabis medicine is that most of it is being made by individuals. People are experimenting on themselves to find relief, create products, and discover remedies for a variety of illnesses and diseases. It’s 2019, we can go to the moon, we can create artificial intelligence, but we are still in the dark about the many miracles of medical cannabis.

Until the American federal government, through the Drug Enforcement Administration, reclassifies cannabis from its very political Schedule I status, patients, nurses, caregivers, and doctors are very much on their own for information, research, and resources that can help guide their use of medical cannabis treatment. Without consistent regulation and efficient laboratory testing, it can be hard to use medical cannabis right now, though it is finally easier to get in states that have legalized medicinal use.

Dr. Michael H. Moskowitz, MD, MPH has been working in public health and medicine for almost forty years, specializing in researching and writing about neuroplasticity and chronic pain. After experimenting on himself first and then going rogue within his own practice, he compassionately gives his experience and research of medicinal cannabis in the exceptional book, Medical Cannabis: A Guide for Patients, Practitioners, and Caregivers.

Diving into questions and issues everyone has about using cannabis medicinally right now, this book is the best thing available on the market. Dr. Moskowitz delivers the science and the practicality necessary to understand how cannabis works in the brain and the body, and how you can approach using it–whether you’re the doctor or the patient.

Breaking the Stigma Between Doctors and Cannabis Medicine

“I was treating patients for probably thirty years when I came upon this [cannabis] in chronic pain treatment, and what I was impressed with was how muddy all of the medicines we were using were. Even though we got people better, we never got anybody well or rarely got anybody well. The rubric in chronic pain treatment is to tell the patient ‘we can help you reduce your pain but we can’t make it go away.’ I thought, that’s just crap, why are we telling people that? We’re only telling them that because we don’t have the tools that we know how to use to make it go away, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist,” Dr. Moskowitz explained.

“With cannabis, it was the opposite. People decided this was a medicine that was helpful to some of their issues, doctors kind of thought it was just wink, wink, nudge, nudge, and they were just getting high … They just looked at it as a reasonable thing for people to do who felt so awful.”

Dr. Michael Moskowitz

While researching chronic pain treatment, Moskowitz experimented with neuroplastic hypnotherapy treatment. Unfortunately, it didn’t work so well for that particular patient, but it absolutely helped his own chronic neck pain. So he dived deeper into working with visualizations and developed a graphic workbook with animations that proved successful in treating chronic pain. He added, “We’ve developed lotions out of that that treat part of the brain where pain’s really harbored. We brought in salves and vibrations and all kinds of things to counter stimulate the pain signal with other sensory input.”

About five years into this research and treatment, he was asked by the American Academy of Pain Medicine to do a series of talks and lectures around the country on medical cannabis. “As a medical concept, it’s completely backwards from the way we mostly do things where some scientists develop an idea about something and it gets studied, tested on animals, then tested on humans and brought to market, etc. etc. With cannabis, it was the opposite. People decided this was a medicine that was helpful to some of their issues, doctors kind of thought it was just wink, wink, nudge, nudge, and they were just getting high. But these people were in such bad shape it was okay for them, and so doctors really didn’t look at it as a legitimate treatment. They just looked at it as a reasonable thing for people to do who felt so awful.”

Up to this point, doctors would send people to dispensaries and they would talk to people [budtenders] who generally didn’t know anything about medicine. Dr. Moskowitz began gathering his own research and doing lectures on it, despite never trying it as a treatment. This went on for about five more years, the first lecture being in 2011.

“I taught it at a number of places. I’m actually one of the two people I know in the world that’s taught medical cannabis to the federal government. I taught it at Walter Reed Hospital for the 5th Annual Army, Air Force, VA International Chronic Pain meeting,” he said. He still had not used it on himself or any patients.

Healing, Cancer, and Why Whole Plant Medicine Matters

As Moskowitz was teaching and researching, he became impressed with the fact that it looked like cannabis might be a fairly effective treatment for cancer. He experienced problems with his own prostate in the past without it being cancer, but after receiving an MRI that showed he had about a 90% chance of it, along with a high PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen), his neurologist wanted to biopsy. He asked his doctor if they could wait and watch since it didn’t seem aggressive at that moment, and he wanted to instead treat himself with cannabis for a few years first. His doctor agreed and certified him for medical cannabis use.

“I really researched this out and I did a number of different things on myself. I realized as I was doing this that I was feeling really good, my physical health felt improved after about three months. I ended up continuing to feel really good, my PSA dropped that first year from 9.5, (which is high) to 8.3, which was still high but quite a bit lower. But the next year it jumped up to 13.5, which it’s not absolute that you’ll have prostate cancer, but it’s a pretty good chance you will–they thought 99% sure I had it. I did a biopsy about a year and 8 months into this treatment. I’d been very methodical about this, I treated it very very carefully, and it was negative.”

“Everything we know about CBD as a treatment pretty much came from THC … we gradually learned a lot more about THCA, CBDA, THCV, CBC, CBDV, CBN, and CBG. There’s this tremendous synergy that makes up that ensemble or entourage effect.”

Dr. Moskowitz

The day after these results, Dr. Moskowitz broke his ankle and fibula. He had to have 4 surgeries and still, he had never used cannabis for pain. After his first surgery, he used opioids for three days, and it helped a little, but not particularly well. “I started using more cannabis with higher THC because I was doing nothing but laying around at that point and I got great pain relief. I came up with a treatment where I used a combination of THC and CBD in alcohol tincture in a rollerball, rolled around the area where the surgery was because I couldn’t touch it, it was still an open wound, and it took the pain away 100% within three minutes. It never failed to do that, not once.”

Passionate about using the whole plant in his treatments, he began to tap into the ensemble effect of medicinal cannabis. “CBD doesn’t absorb particularly well under the tongue, it’s actually one of the worst places to absorb it into the body, but THC does. Everything we know about CBD as a treatment pretty much came from THC as a recreational drug because that’s all anybody ever looked at. Now, we gradually learned a lot more about CBD but also THCA, CBDA, THCV, CBC, CBDV, CBN, and CBG. There’s this tremendous synergy that makes up that ensemble or entourage effect,” Dr. Moskowitz explained.

With hardware in his leg for several months, Dr. Moskowitz continued applying the rollerball treatment, which lasted 6–8 hours, sometimes longer. Struck by the remarkable qualities he experienced, he wanted to bring this into his own practice. After looking at the law and acknowledging the potential problems, he decided he could not deny it to his patients. “They’re really suffering, and this looks like a really good treatment. When I treated the pain issues with myself, not the prostate, I noticed it didn’t just suppress the symptoms but it healed the tissue–it’s also healing the tissue in the dermis of the skin which then helps heal the tissue below that.”

Discovering New Methods of Treatment With Cannabis

In his own practice in Marin County, California, Dr. Moskowitz asked his patients if they were interested in trying medicinal cannabis. For those who were, he followed them in a separate database to see what it did for their pain, stress, quality of life, sleep, energy and focus. The last two of which he expected were going to be worse. He also considered if they were on opioid medications, if they lowered them.

His book further explains how he worked with his patients, and ultimately, he discovered that cannabis is an infinite treatment. There were so many combinations and permutations that you can never run out of ideas.

Knowing only the THC and CBD content of a strain is limiting; it takes away the blending of the entourage effect and doesn’t help in recommending something based on its medical values.

“I did it [cannabis treatment] over nineteen and a half months, and I followed 161 people. Every time [a patient] came in, I would talk to them about their pain, stress, sleep, quality of life, energy, focus. And if they were on opioids, did they lower their opioids? At the end, 87% of the patients reported pain reduction, 81% reported improved sleep, 73% improved stress, and 76% improved quality of life. Those are remarkable numbers in a practice like mine. We get tough cases and we work them for years and years and years, so I really know these people. It’s not like a typical study where you’re getting randomized strangers from out in the world. These are my patients, and I know them pretty well. It also brings in a little bias in their results because they want to please me, but I’ve done many of these things with neuroplasty over the years and I never saw such a robust response.”

Other results included 53% reporting improved energy and only 7% worse energy. 43% reported improved focus and only 8% worse focus. They weren’t stopping their other medications, just adding this treatment and then adjusting whatever needed adjusted. 71.3% of patients reduced their opioids and 14% came off of them completely.

The ensemble effect that Dr. Moskowitz has tapped is there for a reason. In the plant, it’s there to help the plant survive in nature, but the doctor is quick to point out that over the last 30,000 years, humans have moved the plant from the three isolated places it existed in the world (Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and equatorial South America). “We’ve planted this in closets, desert, in rocks, in water, and in the air. We’ve done all kinds of things with it and we’ve totally changed the genetics of the plant. We’ve also used it in mass quantities. We’ve really passed these genes to most of the population, so most people have adapted to this plant even though they’ve never had it,” he said. Another reason why this is important is because it faults animal studies. Humans have a unique interaction with cannabis , no rat or dog or monkey has adapted to cannabis over the last 30,000 years.

As more dispensaries open and have quality medicinal products available, we should request they begin to give more information on their labels. Knowing only the THC and CBD content of a strain is limiting; it takes away the blending of the entourage effect and doesn’t help in recommending something based on its medical values.

When purchasing medicine, not only is strain knowledge important (beyond “sativa” and “indica”) but also the embodiment of the way they’re manufactured, whether it’s tinctures, capsules, vaporizers, etc. New laws in different states are emerging to make testing imperative, but the lack of consistency in testing itself is still an issue. Dr. Moskowitz added that it would be beneficial if at least nine cannabinoids were covered in the testing and available on the labeling. With so much more to discover in this early phase of cannabis research, his book is a fantastic and easily accessible guide into everything you need to know about using medicinal cannabis today.

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Only the Best: Inside the Tissue Culture Lab at House of Cultivar

In Seattle’s industrial SoDo neighborhood sits House of Cultivar, an award-winning indoor cannabis farm with a passion for growing and preserving premier cannabis genetics. No matter what genetics they run, either seed or clone, all start in their tissue culture lab.

With a steady rotation of new and exciting strains, House of Cultivar puts out an evolving mix of trending flavors. Each is grown with their insightful approach, close attention to detail, and acute vision of quality.

Tissue culturing is the process of propagating fresh plants by growing them from a cellular level in a controlled and sterile environment. Also known as micropropagation, tissue culturing can mitigate risks that pests and pathogens pose to cannabis. It allows plants to grow robustly and vigorously, giving each a clean slate from which to grow toward their ultimate genetic expression.

“We operate with the motto that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Matthew Gaboury, Founder, House of Cultivar

There are many advantages to utilizing tissue culturing in cannabis farming. It can reduce overall cultivation costs, especially when you consider the resources needed to maintain a large and diverse library of genetics.

Starting and sterilizing genetics at a cellular level gives House of Cultivar the ability to rejuvenate old, tired genetics and to cleanse new genetics coming into the garden that may have questionable health or potential genetic defects.

They’re also able to manage hundreds, if not thousands, of genetic variations without having to dedicate the space and labor needed to keep mother plants alive and healthy.

Watch the full episode of Only the Best to dive deeper into the tissue culture process and see how House of Cultivar applies these innovative, sustainable practices to produce high-quality characteristics from their expansive genetics library.

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Watch This Rejected Cannabis Super Bowl Commercial

It almost happened: Cannabis nearly made its way to primetime television with Acreage Holdings’ Super Bowl ad about medical marijuana. Featuring testimonies from patients who have seen the plant’s healing benefits, this one minute-long ad sets a somber mood of, “Oh wow, it’s ridiculous that this medicine is illegal.”

While the ad’s intent is to jar up heartfelt emotions about cannabis prohibition, it ultimately falls flat by seeming too vanilla and exclusive. The commercial discusses the injustices of cannabis, but never shows any messaging or imagery that acknowledges the truest injustices of cannabis (such as the War on Drugs and the demographics of people who have suffered most for companies like Acreage Holdings to be able to exist in the first place).

Ultimately, CBS decided to say, “No thank you” to this multimillion dollar commercial, so in that sense, the war rages on.

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Reach Your Fitness Goals With This Natural Cannabinoid

When starting a new health plan, more often than not, people share the common goal of better fitness. It can be hard to develop a routine and stick to it; finding the motivation to workout sometimes means making deals with yourself or practicing self-discipline. However, there is one very good reason to workout, and you may be surprised that it has to do with cannabinoids.

Anandamide is the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoid–very similar to THC–and it can be accessed through movement. This neurotransmitter was discovered when scientists realized that there must exist a natural cannabinoid for us to have developed cell receptors that interact with THC. After its discovery, it became clear that anandamide is produced at greater volumes during exercise.

Like THC, it relieves pain and anxiety, and anandamide has the added benefit of increasing dopamine production.

If you want to get (and stay) in shape this year or develop healthy fitness habits, explore three great activities that harness your natural cannabinoid and get the anandamide flowing.

Running

Running is the perfect choice for getting in shape and enjoying the positive after-effects of your workout. As an activity, it requires little more than a place, a good pair of shoes, and determination. Start out with small, obtainable goals, such as running for twenty minutes every day, or one lap around the local park. Slowly work up to longer times and greater distances.

The more you put into this exercise, the more you will get out in terms of not only fitness but anandamide production (there’s a reason many runners say the activity is addictive). Enjoy every minute, because when you finally stop, there will be a blissful euphoria waiting to reward you.

Yoga

Yoga and anandamide go hand in hand. In fact, the word “anandamide” comes from the Sanskrit word “ananda,” meaning pleasure. Yoga and anandamide both leave you feeling peaceful, centered, and happy. It’s an excellent choice for your fitness goals due to its extensive health benefits.

Since anandamide is more easily produced through harder physical activities, it will pay to choose a practice that is fast-paced. Consider a higher level vinyasa yoga class, which will keep you steadily and efficiently moving through each pose.

At the end, your savasana will have you soaring more than ever as you feel your body relax and open, and your mind clear and awash with the natural high of anandamide.

Dancing

How do you combine intense physical fitness with fun? Dancing. Whether it’s free-form to your favorite music or in a class with a guide, dancing is a phenomenal way to get fit and enjoy every second. This is a full-body exercise that will burn calories, loosen muscles, and keep your heart in shape. It’s also an activity that can be adjusted to suit many different people; whether you prefer hip hop, salsa, or jazzercise, there is bound to be a style and a music that gets you excited and moving.

Due to the intense physical nature of dancing, it’s also a great way to get that anandamide flowing.

There are plenty of great options to stay in shape and enjoy our body’s natural cannabinoid. Whether it’s running, yoga, dancing, or another activity like swimming, pilates, or lifting, there are so many great ways to get moving. With anandamide on your side, the result will not only leave you healthier and fitter, but pleasantly happier and higher as well.

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Quick Hits

By Adrian Devitt-Lee On January 24, 2019

Some recent highlights and curiosities from the amazing world of cannabis science and therapeutics:

  • CBD and autism. In his first article of the new year, Raphael Mechoulam and other Israeli scientists look at the “real life experiences of medical cannabis treatment in autism.” Published in Nature, the study found that just under a third of patients report significant improvements and over half report moderate improvements while using CBD-rich oil derived from cannabis (30% CBD, 1-2% THC). The improvements include decreased aggression and agitation, fewer seizures, and better sleep, appetite and ability to concentrate. Around 10-20% of patients stopped taking various medications (mostly antipsychotic and antiepileptic drugs) within 6 months of starting cannabis treatment. One quarter of people experienced some negative side effects like sedation or restlessness, but none were severe. And about one in 5 stopped treatment because it wasn’t effective. Even though there remains a lot to be discovered about how and why CBD can improve the lives of people with autism, it is clear that cannabis can be used safely by this population and should be studied further.
  • Cannabis and ADHD. A study in Molecular Psychiatry with tens of thousands of people found an association between ADHD and cannabis use. Their data suggests that ADHD causes later cannabis use, which may support the notion that THC is used to self medicate (although ADHD is associated with heavier use of many drugs). Previous research has found that THC may be effective for some cases that do not respond well to Ritalin.
  • Self medicating for endometriosis. Endometriosis is a poorly-understood condition causing severe chronic pain and alterations in a woman’s menstrual cycle. As an understudied disease, treatment is limited. Scientists surveyed over 400 Australian women to see what actions they took to treat their pelvic pain. Cannabis, heat, CBD oil, and dietary changes were rated most effective by women, in that order. Unfortunately, more women used alcohol than cannabis to manage symptoms; self-medicating with alcohol promotes chronic inflammation and led to worsening pain and fatigue in over half of such women. This underscores the importance of not treating cannabis like alcohol in the ongoing saga of legalization. (Note: endometriosis is diagnosed with an invasive surgical procedure, and so many women who likely have endometriosis go undiagnosed. The group that responded to this survey had a confirmed diagnosis.)
  • Concussions and alcoholism. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) leads to numerous problems, including alcoholism and suicide. New findings indicate that endocannabinoids aid TBI recovery: When researchers boosted 2-AG levels shortly after injury, rats displayed less anxiety and less interest in alcohol. This is significant since alcoholism is a serious comorbidity of brain injury. The researchers link the protective effect of 2-AG to changes in glutamate transmission in the central amygdala, the part of the brain that processes traumatic and fearful memories. Other preclinical research has demonstrated that endocannabinoids can play a protective role after traumatic brain injuries, like concussion, by ameliorating glutamatergic toxicity.

Adrian Devitt-Lee, a Project CBD contributing writer, is a graduate from Tufts University with a degree in mathematics and chemistry.

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