New Study on Cannabis and Autism Supports Parents’ Longtime Claims

Parents of some autistic children have long reported that their kids calm down with cannabinoids, are better able to communicate, and can do more tasks by themselves. But because of the restrictions on cannabis research in the United States, there have been precious few real-world studies to confirm those anecdotal reports.

A recent study out of Israel, which approved cannabis research in 2007, gives parents new evidence to back up those claims. Published Jan 17. in the journal Nature, the study found that yes, cannabis can relieve some of the symptoms suffered by many autistic people, including seizures, restlessness, and rage attacks.

“Cannabis in ASD patients appears to be well tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD.”

The study, “Real Life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism; Analysis of Safety and Efficacy,” followed 188 autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients over a six-month period. The subjects were mostly male (81.9%) and had a mean age of 12.9 years, with 14 of the participants younger than five, 70 patients between six and 10, and 72 patients between 11 and 18. Their autism symptoms included “restlessness, rage attacks, agitation, speech impairment, cognitive impairment, anxiety, incontinence, depression and more.”

“Although many with autism are being treated today with medical cannabis, there is a significant lack of knowledge regarding the safety profile and the specific symptoms that are most likely to improve under cannabis treatment,” wrote the study’s authors, Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, Raphael Mechoulam, Naama Saban, Gal Meiri, and Victor Novack.

The aims of the study were straightforward: “to characterize the patient population receiving medical cannabis treatment for autism and to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this therapy.”

Its conclusion is emphatic: “Cannabis in ASD patients appears to be well tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD.”

Treatment and Findings

Parents have often reported that cannabis and CBD help calm their autistic children and help them focus. And for children who suffer from epileptic seizures, cannabis can help decrease the frequency. Parents such as Brandy Williams, a cannabis activist in Arizona, gave cannabis to her autistic son Logan, who experienced epileptic seizures, and noticed significant changes. He stopped rocking back and forth, and he was able to communicate more clearly.

Most of the subjects in the Israel study were given cannabis oil (30% CBD and 1.5% THC). One month into the trial, respondents were asked to rate their quality of life using the Likert scale “ranging from very poor to poor, neither poor nor good and good to very good,” and report side effects to provide a better yardstick for the final results.

At the end of the study’s six-month course, 155 subjects of the original 188 were still in active treatment. Others had dropped out or began a different treatment option. Of those 155 patients, 93 had been assessed through questionnaires.

Of those 93 patients, 28 (30.1%) reported a “significant” improvement, 50 patients (53.7%) reported a “moderate” improvement, and six (6.4%) reported a “slight” improvement. Only 8 patients (8.6%) showed no change in their condition.

Roughly a quarter of the assessed patients (25.2%) experienced some form of side effect, but most were minor. The most common was restlessness, which was reported by 6.6% of subjects. Others included sleepiness (3.2%), a psychoactive effect (3.2%), increased appetite (3.2%), digestion problems (3.2%), dry mouth (2.2%) and lack of appetite (2.2%).

The patients reported that their quality of life–that is “their mood and ability to perform activities of daily living”–had improved in six months. Prior to the study, 31.3% said they had a good quality of life. After, that figure more than doubled, rising to 66.8%.

“Quality of life” isn’t some nebulous thing. It has real-world meaning. For instance, the subject’s parents found that patients could dress themselves more easily after six months, an improvement of 21.5%.

Autism and Epilepsy

Nearly a third of autistic people are diagnosed with epilepsy–a condition that has been shown to respond well to cannabis treatment.

In the Israeli study, 14.4% of the participants had epilepsy. As in many studies involving autism, the subjects were usually taking other medications, which can make it more difficult to assess the effectiveness of cannabis treatment. Some of the patients in the study, for example, were also taking antipsychotic, antiepileptic, and antidepressant drugs.

Of the 93 patients who responded to the final questionnaire–about a third decreased or stopped some of those medications. After six months, 11 of the patients had stopped taking antipsychotic medication altogether.

Dosing Depends

The doses were not a one-size-fits all application–some patients received a drop of oil three times a day that contained 15 milligrams CBD and 0.75 mg THC. Others received up to 20 drops of oil three times a day.

Though the study is a step forward for demonstrating that cannabis can help autistic people, the researchers believe more work needs to be done. “While this study suggest that cannabis treatment is safe and can improve ASD symptoms and improve ASD patient’s quality of life, we believe that double blind placebo-controlled trials are crucial for a better understanding of the cannabis effect on ASD patients.”

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How to Maintain a Perpetual Cannabis Harvest

There’s nothing like having your own freshly harvested cannabis whenever you want. Growers can make this happen by maintaining a garden year-round through a system known as a perpetual harvest. The idea behind it is to cut down a little bit of cannabis many times throughout the year as opposed to harvesting one big batch once a year. Depending on how you set it up, you can harvest cannabis every week, two weeks, month, or any other interval that you like.

Perpetual harvesting can benefit both the homegrower and the commercial grower. It allows both the ability to look after and control their plants better through each phase of the growing process. Commercial growers can also manage their labor needs and operations easier by providing consistent work on a weekly or monthly basis, instead of having to bunch up labor when planting a crop and harvesting it with a seasonal grow.

What Qualifies as a Perpetual Harvest?

Indoor perpetual harvesting is a horticultural design system that maintains a steady rotation of crop through the different phases of the cultivation process. With cannabis, plants in different phases–seedlings, vegetative, flowering–have different photoperiods, meaning that you’ll need separate spaces for plants in each phase because they need different durations of light.

Maintaining a perpetual harvest is all about timing. When a set of plants is done flowering and ready for harvesting, you’ll replace them with a set of plants from the vegetative stage. Plants moved from the vegetative stage will, in turn, be replaced by clones or seedlings. And as those clones or seedlings replace the veg plants, you’ll take more clones or grow more seeds, and so on, cycling plants through the whole process like a revolving door.

Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

Spaces Needed for a Perpetual Harvest

You’ll need separate spaces for each phase of the growing cycle. Make sure each space is light-tight so light from one space doesn’t affect plants in other spaces. Also, make sure that plants continually get the right amount of light in each phase. If you use timers, be sure to check them periodically to make sure they are functioning properly.

You don’t want plants in a certain phase to receive more or less light than they need because it will disrupt their ability to grow. Vegetative plants that receive too little light will start flowering early and flowering plants that get extra stray light can revert back to a veg state.

Although clones and seedlings are on the same photoperiod as plants on a vegetative light cycle, growers usually have a separate space for them because they’re more delicate and need to be looked after more closely.

Clones/Seedlings Space–18 hours of light/6 hours of dark Photoperiod

These love warmth and high humidity and require very little space compared to plants in the veg and flower phases because of their small size. You can have a separate closed-off space for them or just keep them in your vegetative space.

Clones and seedlings should have their own light, which is directly over them–small T5 fluorescent lights will be sufficient. If using clones trays, put heat pads underneath for added warmth and humidity domes on top to keep in moisture.

Vegetative Space–18/6 Photoperiod

Your vegetative area can be a little smaller than the flower space, as they won’t be as big as flowering plants. T5 fluorescent lights will work well, but high-powered lights like LEDs or HIDs may be more useful for facilitating explosive growth.

At this phase of the growth cycle, your plants will also need fans to provide airflow throughout the space.

Flowering Space–12/12 Photoperiod

Reserve the largest grow space and most powerful lights for the flowering space. It’s imperative to keep this space and the vegetative space separate and light-tight as the amount of light changes. HID, HPS, LED, and CFL lights are all solid options to give plants the light and energy they need to mature and produce buds.

Plants in this stage will also require fans to create airflow within the space, as well as inline and exhaust fans to bring clean air into and out of the space. Fan filters are also recommended.

The Good & the Bad of Maintaining a Perpetual Harvest

Operating a perpetual harvest year-round isn’t for everyone. It requires more time and planning than a seasonal grow and creates constant work throughout the year. But if done correctly, there are many benefits.

Pros

  • You can have freshly harvested cannabis throughout the year. How much and how often depends on how you scale the operation.
  • The workload is spread out more evenly over time. You won’t have to hire a bunch of trimmers for the fall harvest when everyone else is looking for them.
  • Mitigating a garden catastrophe is more manageable. You can reset your garden easier with a minimal loss of the crop.
  • Perpetual harvests give the grower more control of plants in each phase of growth.

Cons

  • Perpetual harvests require constant attention and careful management at all times, throughout the year. Planning time away from the garden can be difficult.
  • Not all strains are suitable for perpetual harvests–some varietals need more time or more physical space than others, which can disrupt the steady flow of plants through the process.

Tips for Perpetual Growing

Several factors can easily make or break the success of perpetual cannabis harvesting. Maintaining plants in each phase and preparing each for the move into the next step is a delicate balance. Here are some factors to consider before setting one up.

Timing

It’s crucial that plants are ready to transition phases at the right time or else the flow will bottleneck. You’ll have a number of plants at different stages of growth, so knowledge of each growth stage is critical. Plants develop at different rates because of a myriad of factors, including:

  • Plant genetics
  • Environmental factors (temperature, humidity, light spectrum, airflow, CO2 exposure)
  • Feeding/nutrient schedules
  • Root health
  • Plant training

Genetics Management

Every cultivar grows differently. Some varietals grow tall and lanky while others are squat and bushy. Certain strains also take longer to mature and flower than others. This information is important to know ahead of time so that you’ll have a sense of what kind of space you’ll need and how to time everything, especially when growing multiple strains.

Data Collection

Staggering plants within a perpetual system requires keen awareness of each element of the entire operation. Track progress by taking notes on:

  • Rooting time for fresh clones
  • Environmental factors, such as temperature, humidity, light intensity
  • Vegetative growth milestones
  • Plant training dates and procedures
  • Flowering times
  • Watering and nutrient schedules
  • Transplant dates
  • Troubleshooting, including pest management, deficiencies, environment anomalies

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Here’s Why You Should Consider Dabbing With Quartz

Perhaps no other material has made as big of an impact on dabbing culture as quartz has over the past several years. Initially created as an alternative to materials like titanium and ceramics, quartz is now regarded as the gold standard for dabbing rig pieces.

Quartz can withstand and retain heat with less risk of breaking and it can preserve concentrate flavors better than other materials.

What makes quartz so great for dabbing cannabis concentrates? It can withstand and retain heat with less risk of breaking and it can preserve concentrate flavors better than other materials.

Here we look at what makes quartz so popular, how quartz nails and accessories have evolved, and best practices for quartz cleaning and maintenance.

What Is Quartz?

Silicon Dioxide (SiO2), also known as clear-fused quartz or fused silica, is a solid, amorphous (non-crystalline) material comprised of silicon and oxygen. While very similar to traditional glass, the two are distinct in that quartz contains no other materials.

In order to create fused quartz, pure silica sand containing quartz crystals must be melted or fused. This purity gives quartz a high thermal conductivity, and it’s also often used in laboratory-grade materials.

Why Dab With Quartz?

Quartz is great for low-temperature dabbing, the practice of using reduced temperatures when heating a nail in order to preserve terpene flavors during the sublimation and inhalation processes.

When used in conjunction with a carb cap or any other device designed to create convection, quartz nails preserve terpenes because they can maintain a lower temperature for a longer period of time before cooling off. This creates a much more robust and enjoyable dabbing experience compared to other nail materials, which can burn off terpenes with higher temperatures.

Quartz is also a champ when it comes to thermal conductivity. It can withstand high temperatures over time with less risk of breaking, and can also retain steadier temperatures for longer periods, making for easier and less rushed dabbing without the fear of cooling.

The amount of heat a quartz nail can retain depends on its thickness, and this is usually advertised by the retailer.

A Brief History of the Quartz Nail

Before 2010, low-grade flathead nails were easy to produce and often accompanied early versions of dab rigs. These impure glass nails would break easily, so quartz began to show up as a stronger, more resilient alternative.

The introduction of the quartz domeless nail was the turning point when quartz became a major contender for nails.

But the flathead design of early quartz nails was still imperfect. Although it fit well with early dab rigs that had domes for creating convection, concentrates would often melt off the ridges and go to waste. Cupped designs proved to be a better option with domed rigs, but these nails couldn’t retain heat long enough.

The introduction of the quartz domeless nail was the turning point when quartz became a major contender for nails. Designed to be used without a dome, these nails could hold concentrates easier and retain heat longer. Quartz domeless nails were quickly recognized for providing a better flavor when dabbing, compared to titanium and ceramic nails.

As it grew in popularity, several influential American glassblowers started custom designing nails with quartz. Out of this explosion of creativity came several designs, including the Honey Bucket model from Mothership Glass, the Quartz Club Banger from Quave Glass, and the Trough from Joel Halen.

While each of these designs are still popular today, the simplified banger nail has easily become the most popular for quartz enthusiasts because of its functionality, simple and sleek design, and easy replicability. Quartz nails complement glass more than other materials like titanium, bringing a more attractive aesthetic to expensive dab rigs.

A quartz banger nail. (Julia Sumpter for Leafly)

Proper Quartz Hygiene

A fresh quartz nail, translucent and free of cloudiness and debris, will give you better dabs, allowing you to taste the flavors and terpenes of concentrates better.

Because of the amorphous nature of fused quartz, its atomic structure is in a perpetual state of imbalance. When heated to extreme temperatures, a process called devitrification occurs, when the atoms of quartz attempt to reorganize into a crystalline structure.

This can happen when cooled quartz is exposed to various elements, including extreme temperatures, like a red-hot torch flame, the introduction of contaminants like oil reclaim, or continued and prolonged exposure to oxygen as a byproduct of oxygenated torching.

When devitrification occurs, quartz becomes cloudy. This process is irreversible without lab-grade chemicals and it can negatively affect the function of the nail. To avoid this altogether, be proactive in taking care of your nail:

  • Never expose a nail to extremely hot temperatures. This is the easiest way to ruin a fresh nail.
  • Don’t dab on a hot quartz nail. Always wait for the nail to cool a bit before applying a concentrate.
  • After each dab, immediately clean the nail with a cotton swab or similar material to rid the skillet of carbon residue or reclaim.
  • Don’t leave a nail dirty for a prolonged period for risk of creating carbon build-up, which will devitrify the quartz on the next heating session.
  • Don’t clean your nail with water, as this will also cause devitrification.

An old standard for nail care was seasoning–heating a new nail until it clouds and turns red, seasoning it like you would a cast iron skillet. But seasoning is, in fact, not considered a best practice for nail hygiene these days because the extreme temperatures cause devitrification.

Exciting New Quartz Technology

The world of quartz dabbing accessories continues to grow with new technologies, fueled by a never-ending pursuit to create a quality low-temperature dabbing experience. Here are some exciting innovations in quartz to look out for:

Thermal Banger Nails

Quartz bangers can create build-up and residue of concentrates inside the nail stem. This occurs when oil either bubbles over or solidifies within the stem when taking a dab. Thermal bangers mitigate this with their design: With a large cylinder to redirect airflow, residue can’t reach the downstem of the nail.

Bubble Carb and Directional Caps

Carb caps are designed to create convection when dabbing, allowing concentrates to sublimate more evenly over longer periods of time when exposed to lower temperatures. Bubble carb and directional caps help facilitate this process by siphoning airflow toward every corner of the skillet.

Their unique design allows the dabber to manipulate the direction of incoming air when taking a dab by moving the cap around. The result is less reclaim at the end of the dab and a better flavor when low-temperature dabbing.

Quartz Inserts

One way to ensure that high-end quartz nails don’t suffer the fate of devitrification is to use a quartz insert or skillet. These skillets are designed to be pre-loaded with concentrates and placed in a heated flat-top nail. This lets the concentrate be sublimated inside of the skillet, leaving the nail basin free from the potential of residue buildup.

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First Senate Marijuana Bill Of 2019 Would Force Study On Medical Cannabis For Veterans

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) announced last week that she will be seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2020. Here’s a look at where the congresswoman, who received a B+ grade from NORML as well as an earlier endorsement from the advocacy group, stands on marijuana reform.

Legislation And Policy Actions

Gabbard has cosponsored a large number of cannabis-related bills during her time in Congress, and she was the lead sponsor of a measure to require the federal government to study the impact of state marijuana legalization.

Gabbard signed onto far-reaching legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and withhold federal funds from states that disproportionately enforce cannabis laws.

Other bills she’s backed would shield medical marijuana states from federal interference, legalize industrial hemp, protect banks that service cannabis businesses, provide tax fairness for the cannabis industry, address various aspects of the federal-state marijuana policy gap, remove roadblocks to research and exempt CBD from the CSA.

She was the lead Democratic cosponsor of a measure to federally deschedule marijuana.

Gabbard, who served in a medical unit in the Hawaii Army National Guard, has also cosponsored several pieces of legislation aimed at expanding access to medical cannabis for veterans. That includes one bill that would block the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from denying benefits to patients who use marijuana and another that would require the VA to survey patients and caregivers on cannabis use.

She signed onto a House resolution last year that was meant to express the chamber’s sentiment that the drug war has failed and apologize to “individuals and communities that were victimized by this policy.” She also cosponsored a separate resolution calling on states to “address disparities in the cannabis marketplace participation and to address, reverse, and repair the most egregious effects of the war on drugs on communities of color, in particular to those who now hold criminal records for a substance that is now legal and regulated.”

Quotes And Social Media Posts

There’s no deficit of marijuana-related posts on Gabbard’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, and her office has released numerous statements and press releases about the issue.

After then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era Justice Department guidance on cannabis enforcement priorities in early 2018, she posted an extensive thread about why the move “will exacerbate an inhumane, ineffective system that tears families apart.

Later in the year, she turned her attention on Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) after he vetoed legislation that would have made opioid misuse a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. Gabbard has repeatedly touted research demonstrating that legal access to cannabis can reduce opioid overdoses and prescriptions, potentially mitigating a national drug crisis.

“With such a stark increase in prescription opioid use and dependence, heroin and synthetic drug overdose, and emergency room visits over the last decade, we must allow legal access to medical marijuana to help prevent opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths,” Gabbard said in a press release. “Understanding that people’s lives are at stake, I urge Governor Ige to reconsider and sign this legislation into law now.”

She also talked about the relationship between marijuana laws and opioid overdoses on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

“There are states that have legalized, whether it’s just medical or full legalization, there has proven to be a direct correlation to a drastic reduction in opioid-related deaths in those states where people have access,” she said. “If we know this, and every one of the leaders in this country are so concerned about this opioid epidemic, why hasn’t this been brought forward?”

In a 2017 interview with SFGate, the senator discussed legislation she cosponsored to remove marijuana from the CSA, saying that current federal cannabis policies “have turned everyday Americans into criminals, torn families apart, and wasted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for nonviolent marijuana charges.”

“The reality is, whether or not any individual chooses to consume cannabis is irrelevant. The important question is, should we really be sending people to jail and turning them into criminals for using a substance that is far less dangerous and harmful than alcohol? The answer is no. The fiscal and social impacts of our current policy, are having devastating effects on individuals and our communities and are only perpetuating the problem.”

Touting her Marijuana Data Collection Act on the House floor, Gabbard said “federal policies should be based on actual science and fact, not misplaced stigma and outdated myths.”

“For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that’s wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for non-violent marijuana charges,” she said. “Our outdated marijuana policies have turned everyday Americans into criminals, strained our criminal justice system, cost taxpayers tremendously, and torn families apart–all for a substance that’s proven to be far less harmful and dangerous than alcohol.”

Prior to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized industrial hemp, the senator spoke out in support of allowing farmers to cultivate the crop.

“Our nation should empower our local farmers by allowing them to grow, cultivate and research industrial hemp that will create opportunity and strengthen our economy,” she said in a press release. “The DEA must honor and uphold the Congressional intent of federal legislation that allows states, like Hawai’i, to establish programs to research the benefits, cultivation, and market of industrial hemp.”

Personal Experience With Marijuana

It’s not clear whether Gabbard has personal experience with marijuana besides meeting patients and veterans who’ve benefited from medical cannabis.

Marijuana Under A Gabbard Presidency

Gabbard’s cosponsorship of a long list of cannabis reform bills and continual focus on the issue in public statements and social media posts indicate she would be an especially marijuana-friendly president if she were to earn the Democratic nomination and win the 2020 election.

Where Presidential Candidate Kirsten Gillibrand Stands On Marijuana

Photo element courtesy of Lorie Shaull.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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Selecting a Cannabis Phenotype: How to Get the Best Version of Your Strain

Ever wonder why the same strain of cannabis can be slightly different, depending on which store you get it at? A gram of OG Kush from one grower who sells to a particular dispensary will be slightly different from another grower’s OG Kush at the dispensary across town. Although they are the same strain, these are different phenotypes (or “phenos”)–different expressions of the same genetic material.

If two cats–one an orange tabby and the other a black and white calico–have a litter of kittens, some of the kittens will be orange tabbies and some black and white calicos. Some may even be black and white tabbies. So too, do different cannabis phenotypes have different traits from one or both of their parent strains.

When a grower decides to produce a particular strain, they typically get a packet of seeds from a breeder, each one a different phenotype of that strain. After growing each seed, the grower will pick the best one because of its characteristics, picking for yield, bud density, smell, flavor, potency, color, and many more attributes, and discard the others.

This narrowing process usually takes a few generations of selection, and months, sometimes years, but in the end, the best pick will be mass produced for sale, and that’s the cannabis you buy off the shelf at the dispensary.

The Importance of Labeling

An example of the phenotype selection process. Growers typically mark and number each phenotype for tracking purposes. In this case, a grower is selecting OG Kush (OGK) phenotypes. Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

Selecting phenos is a meticulous process. Organization and keeping track of things through the long growing process is imperative. You’ll be taking clones of each phenotype and keeping some while discarding others, so it’s important to label clones according to their originals phenos and to not mix up any.

To start, plant all of your seeds and label each one with a separate tag. So if you’re growing 10 phenos of OG Kush, you would assign them “OGK 1,” “OGK 2,” etc., up to “OGK 10.” The order of the numbering doesn’t matter, but make sure that a number always stays with the pheno you assign it to.

Grow out each seed until they are 6-12″ tall, or big enough to clone. This will probably take about 3-6 weeks.

Take a clone of each phenotype and number each clone to its corresponding original: the clone of “OGK 1” would also be named “OGK 1” and so on.

If you’re starting out with ten seeds, you should now have 20 plants: 10 seedlings and 10 clones.

Clone, Flower, Discard

After you have taken clones, grow them separately in a vegetative state. When the original phenos are big enough, after at least 2 months in the vegetative state, put them on a flowering light cycle (12 hours of dark, 12 of light).

After about 8-10 weeks of flowering, these original phenos will be ready to harvest for buds. Some phenotypes might finish sooner than others and each will probably be slightly different. Now you will discard some of the phenos based on their poor quality and keep the ones that have good qualities.

A lot of seeds come pre-feminized, but if you are starting out with male and female seeds, you will need to determine the sex of the plants first and discard all of the males, because only females produce buds. Reproductive organs appear a couple weeks into the flowering cycle, and if you have any males, discard them and their corresponding clones and keep flowering the females.

When harvesting each phenotype, take meticulous notes of each pheno’s bud structure, yield, smell, density, and overall appearance. Some phenos can be discarded right away, as it will be easy to tell that they won’t produce quality buds. Whenever you discard a pheno, discard its corresponding clone that’s in the vegetative state.

You can still use the harvested buds from discarded phenos. This product may not be as desirable because it’s from the phenos that didn’t make the cut, but a lot of growers will sell this for pre-rolls or extracts, just usually not quality flower.

Repeat the Process

The process is repeated. If you started with 10 phenos and discarded six after the first round of flowering, you’ll be left with four. Take a set of clones off of these four–a second generation of clones, or clones from clones. Keep this new second generation in the vegetative phase separately, and flip the first generation of clones into flower.

This first generation should be big enough to flip into flower now because they were growing vegetatively while the original phenos were flowering. But you can always grow these out more vegetatively if you want bigger plants.

After flowering these four remaining phenos, harvest them and take more notes. Discard the ones with poor qualities and their corresponding clones and keep the ones with good qualities.

Continue this process until you’re down to one pheno. That is your winner!

You don’t want to discard a pheno with possible good qualities, but keep in mind that the less you discard, the more rounds of cloning, flowering, and discarding you’ll have to do.

Timeline

Often, commercial growers will go through at least three rounds of generations of this selection process to get the final pheno, sometimes even more.

You can see how this is a time-consuming process. Three generations of flowering phenotypes, if each round takes about 8-10 weeks, is 24-30 weeks alone. Add on top of that another month or so for the seeds to germinate and get to an initial size in which to clone off of at the beginning of the process, plus time to harvest, dry, and cure buds at the end.

So before that OG Kush from your favorite grower hits the shelves for the first time, they have been growing and narrowing it down for 7-9 months at least, to get you the best version of that OG Kush. That phenotype is now their “cut” of that strain.

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US Virgin Islands Legalize Medical Marijuana

The US Virgin Islands this week became the latest US territory to greenlight medical cannabis, with Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. signing a legalization bill into law on Tuesday.

It’s a change that’s been a long time coming. In 2014, 56.5% of Virgin Islands voters approved a referendum in favor of legalizing and regulating medical cannabis. From there, lawmakers led by Sen. Positive T.A. Nelson crafted and introduced legislation.

For several consecutive years, the Nelson’s legalization bills fell short. But he persisted, continuing to introduce bills every session. In December, his measure finally made it through the Legislature. This week it went to newly elected Gov. Bryan, who on the campaign trail said he supported legalization.

“I believe a properly regulated medicinal cannabis industry can provide relief to those seeking alternatives to conventional medicine and can also be an economic driver attracting new revenues for the Virgin Islands,” he told The St. Thomas Source last year.

The new law, the Virgin Islands Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act, allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to possess and consume cannabis. It also establishes an Office of Cannabis Regulation, which will handle licensing and regulations around dispensaries, cultivation, lab testing, and product manufacturing.

Patients who are residents of the US Virgin Islands will be able to possess up to four ounces of cannabis flower. Nonresident patients will be able to have up to three ounces. Possession limits on other types of products will be set by forthcoming regulations.

Patients diagnosed with the following conditions may qualify for the program: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, hospice care, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain, neuropathic pain, or the treatment of these conditions or conditions that cause cachexia or wasting; severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms.

More information about the law is available on the Marijuana Policy Project website. Draft rules for the program are expected to be written within the next four months.

“We applaud Gov. Bryan and the Virgin Islands Legislature for enacting this sensible and compassionate legislation,” Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement on Thursday. “Medical marijuana is widely recognized as an effective treatment for a variety of debilitating conditions and symptoms. This new law offers the prospect of relief for countless patients, and it will do so for generations to come.

According to the MPP, there remain only one US state (Idaho) and one US territory (American Samoa) without any form of medical marijuana law. A number of other states have medical cannabis laws that MPP deems “ineffective” because they are “either unworkable or exceptionally restrictive.”

“Most U.S. states and territories have enacted effective medical cannabis laws, and those that have not are giving them increasingly stronger consideration,” O’Keefe said. “There is no reason why patients in 18 states and American Samoa should continue to be deprived of this medical treatment option that is now accessible to so many of their fellow Americans.”

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Can Texas Build a Working Medical Cannabis Program in 2019?

This is the year Texas residents will find out whether lawmakers are ready to build Texas a viable medical cannabis program or whether the Lone Star State’s old-fashioned politics will limit patients’ access to effective medicine.

While the state Legislature passed a limited medical cannabis bill in 2015, hardly anyone in Texas can currently access the drug. Only registered patients with intractable epilepsy who have exhausted other treatment alternatives can purchase low-THC CBD oil–the only form of cannabis that’s legal in the state.

“The only people you’re keeping it out of their hands are law-abiding citizens.”

Texas Sen. Jose Menendez

Not only do the rules hamper patient access, they also prevent medical cannabis businesses from being viable. There simply aren’t enough registered patients to keep companies afloat.

“You need to create a marketplace that can function on its own, and not place the entirety of the cost of operating on a very small patient population,” explained Andrew Livingston, the director of economics and research at the cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg. “The prices are going to be so high and the availability is going to be so low that it’s just not going to be a functional marketplace for those patients you’re trying to serve.”

But there’s hope. After the 2017 legislative session produced some promising bills–but ultimately no new cannabis laws–lawmakers this session have introduced bills aimed at expanding the state program.

Legislation and Potential Impact

At the moment, there are two key medical cannabis bills to keep an eye on, one in the House and one in the Senate. Senate Bill 90 and House Bill 209 are companion bills authored by state Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) and state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City), respectively.

Both bills contain a clause that redefines “debilitating medical conditions,” expanding the ailments for which doctors could legally recommend medical cannabis.

The new list includes cancer, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and post-concussion syndrome, among others. It also carves out allowances for “chronic medical conditions” that produce “severe pain” or “severe nausea.”

As Livingston has written in the past, adding chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions can cause a medical cannabis market to explode:

Chronic pain affects tens of millions of Americans–roughly 11% to 17% of the population–and cannabis has shown to be an effective treatment for symptom relief. By comparison, epilepsy, another condition treated effectively with cannabis medicines, affects just 84 people out of 10,000, or 0.84% of the population.

Another piece of legislation, House Bill 73, introduced by Democratic Rep. Joe Moody, would remove criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of cannabis or associated paraphernalia, replacing criminal penalties with civil fines.

Motivation for Expansion

For Menendez, who authored the Senate medical cannabis bill, the push for expanded access to medical cannabis is personal. He said he watched his father-in-law fight a difficult battle with cancer, refusing to try medical cannabis because he didn’t want to break the law.

Menendez said his son, who was 13 at the time, had researched medical cannabis and suggested it could offer the lawmaker’s father-in-law some relief from pain and other symptoms.

“My father-in-law, who was a veteran and just a good person, a native of Oklahoma, just said ‘I don’t break the law,'” Menendez said. “He said, ‘I just don’t break the law, and I’m not gonna do it.'”

Menendez said he believes it’s wrong for legislators to continue blocking access to medical cannabis based on “social hang-ups” or things “we were taught when we were younger” about cannabis as a dangerously addictive gateway drug or a threat to social order.

“At the end of the day, kids are abusing their parents’ prescription narcotics,” Menendez said. “People who want to get stoned right now.”

“If you’re talking about marijuana control,” he added, “the only people you’re keeping it out of their hands are law-abiding citizens.”

Livingston said that if Texas truly prides itself on upholding conservative, free-market values, expanding medical cannabis access only makes sense.

“That mantra that underlies American business conservatism needs to apply to cannabis as it does to other markets,” Livingston said. “It provides consumers with a better product at a better price.”

Likely to Pass?

Texas has legislative sessions only every other year. That means progress on issues such as cannabis legalization can be a slow. It also means the stakes are higher when the Legislature is in session–especially for patients who need access to medical cannabis now.

Right off the bat, there will be a couple of potential obstacles. First, the Legislature still has many conservative members who fear backlash from constituents for supporting cannabis reform. Second, even if a bill makes it through the Legislature, Gov. Greg Abbott has signaled his reluctance to sign any legislation expanding the state’s medical cannabis program.

Menendez understands those obstacles, he said, and believes the best way to overcome them is to be straightforward.

“People need to realize that their voice and their opinions and their emails and their letters do make a difference.”

Rep. Menendez

“Ask them up front. Schedule a meeting. Ask them, ‘What can you live with?'” Menendez said. “‘If this gets to your desk, what would you be open to signing?'”

Past attempts to expand medical cannabis access have been focused on making the medical cannabis program more user-friendly for dispensaries, such as by easing regulations and simplifying the process for patients to get legal access. This time around, Menendez said, he wants to do everything he can to work within the existing framework to improve the program.

Despite the renewed push to expand medical cannabis in Texas, Menendez said that it will ultimately be up to citizens–especially Republicans–to contact their legislators and urge them to support the issue.

“Voters who identify as Republicans who agree–which I know there are many–we need to have them reach out to our elected officials and say, ‘Hey, I’m a Republican primary voter, and I need you to get on board with this. This is not a partisan issue. You’re way off base,'” he said. “People need to realize that their voice and their opinions and their emails and their letters do make a difference, and they need to get in front of these folks and show them the real stories.”

Texas’s 86th Legislature convened on Jan. 8. It will stay in session until May 27. If the efforts to expand medical cannabis fail, Texans will have to wait until 2021 for another opportunity.

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Senators Ask FDA to Update Rules on CBD Products

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s two senators on Tuesday urged the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to update federal regulations to permit interstate commerce of food products containing a key non-psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.

The appeal by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley came after Congress legalized the production and sale of industrial hemp and hemp derivatives, including cannabidiols, known as CBD. Wyden and Merkley had been behind a hemp provision that Congress passed and was included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

But after President Donald Trump signed the bill in December, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb restated his agency’s stance that CBD is a drug ingredient and therefore illegal to add to food or health products without his agency’s approval. The FDA has sent warning letters to some companies making health claims for CBD.

In a letter to Gottlieb, the senators asked the FDA to update “outdated regulations” that prohibit food products containing CBD from being sold across state lines.

“Farmers in Oregon and nationwide are poised to make real economic gains for their communities once these regulations are updated,” they wrote. They said it was Congress’ intent in the bill to ensure producers and consumers have access to hemp-derived products, including those that contain CBD.

The Oregon Democrats asked the agency to clarify to the public several issues, including its authority in the production and marketing of hemp and its derivatives, and whether the FDA will consider issuing a regulation to allow hemp derivatives in food, beverages or dietary supplements that cross state lines.

CBD oils are increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures and foods. Proponents say CBD offers health benefits, including relieving pain and anxiety.

Scientists note there have been few comprehensive clinical studies on how CBD affects humans. Harvard Medical School said the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating childhood epilepsy syndromes which typically don’t respond to anti-seizure medications. The FDA recently approved the first ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions which contains CBD. Studies suggest CBD may also help those with insomnia to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Hemp looks like marijuana but contains less than 0.3 percent of THC, the compound that gives pot its high. Both hemp and marijuana are species of cannabis.

Merkley and Wyden noted that the FDA is operating with limited staff due to the partial federal government shutdown and requested a response within 30 calendar days of the government reopening.

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Leafly’s Outdoor Cannabis Grower’s Calendar

Growing cannabis outdoors is easy. All you need is a nice open space that gets lots of light, a water supply, good soil, and a way to cover the plants when the weather turns.

One of the most important things to know is that cannabis is dependent on a photoperiod, meaning that it changes from the vegetative to flowering stage when days start to shorten and nights get longer. You want to time things right so that your plants can maximize their exposure to light during the summer before fall sets in.

Growing and harvest times here reflect ranges of time in the Northern Hemisphere. For more growing tips on specific regions, check out this guide on different climates.

Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

On the West Coast of North America alone, cannabis farmers in Northern California have a long season: They can put plants outside early and harvest later into the season because of the region’s relatively warm weather.
Washington state, on the other hand, will have a shorter time frame, as plants can’t be put outside until later in the season because there’s not enough sunlight yet, and the harvest needs to be completed earlier, before cold weather descends on buds and makes them wet and moldy.
Important Dates

The Spring Equinox is a good reminder that it’s time to kick off the outdoor growing process and start popping your seeds.

As the sun reaches up high in the sky, your cannabis will want to as well. Make sure all of your plants are outside around the Summer Solstice.

The weather will start to turn and the sun will begin descending as your plants fatten up with sweet, sticky buds. It might be tempting, but wait until around the Fall Equinox to start harvesting.

Everything should be cleaned up, dried, and curing well before the Winter Solstice. Now’s a good time to make your own cannabutter, topicals, or tinctures with all that trim from the harvest. Kick your feet up, relax, and hunker down for the cold, it’s been a long growing season!

Notes on Phases

We can’t stress enough that the time frames on this graphic are ranges of time in the Northern Hemisphere. You’ll need to adjust to them based on your specific region and local weather and climate.

Be sure to keep a grow journal to track the progress of your plants. Looking back on your notes will help you learn from mistakes and maximize the quality and quantity of your buds.

Take meticulous notes on when and how you perform each step, as well as what the weather is like. Other notes can include how much water you give plants, at what intervals, and how much nutrients you give them. Pictures will also give you a better sense of how your plants look along the way.

Germinate & Grow Indoors

It takes about 3-7 days to germinate a seed. A lot of growers will do this indoors because seeds are delicate and it’s easier to control the temperature and climate inside. But if you live in a warmer climate, by all means, start growing them from seed outside.

When you start growing your seeds depends partly on how big you want your plants to be for harvest. If you’re going for high yields, the earlier you grow your plants, the bigger they’ll be. But keep in mind that smaller plants are more manageable and easier to top and prune.

Sow & Move Outdoor

If you live in a warmer climate, you can go straight to planting outdoors. But if you grow your plants vegetatively indoors first, this is the time frame that you’d move your plants outside so they can get some serious sunlight.

Top Plants

You’ll want to top your plants a few times throughout the season, to encourage outward development and make your plants bush out. It’s a good idea to give them an initial top after the plant develops five nodes.

Additional topping can happen as needed, but you shouldn’t have to do any more into August, when plants will be well on their way to flowering.

Prune & Clean Up

This is something that needs to be done as-needed. You want to get rid of dead leaves and lower branches that won’t get light so that the plant can use that energy for producing buds elsewhere.

If you have a large crop, growers clean up their plants anywhere from 1-4 times during the season.

Harvest

What kind of strain you have and what climate you live in will determine when to harvest your strains. Indicas grow stouter and bushier and there is more of a concern that their dense buds will get moldy, so they’re usually harvested on the early side of the season. Sativas are generally taller and less dense, so these can usually get harvested second.

Colder climates will need to finish their harvests earlier, for fear of cold weather setting in and molding out buds. Warmer climates can sometimes harvest well into November.

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