CBDV, or cannabidivarin, is one of many molecules derived from cannabis and hemp plants. These molecules, commonly referred to as cannabinoids, are partially responsible for the many effects and therapeutic benefits cannabis has to offer.
CBDV is structurally similar to CBD (cannabidiol). Like CBD, CBDV is not intoxicating when isolated, so it won’t cause the euphoric high associated with high-THC cannabis.
Research has so far demonstrated that CBDV is found mainly in C. indicalandrace strains sourced from Asia and Africa, as well as strains naturally lower in THC. Strains that are high in CBD also typically tend to be higher in CBDV.
Much of the research around CBDV has centered around its effect on seizures. GW Pharmaceuticals, which developed the first FDA-approved CBD drug called Epidiolex, is actively developing a CBDV-based drug known as GPW42006 to reduce or prevent epileptic and other forms of seizures.
Their research has shown that CBDV affects the neurochemical pathway of the capsaicin receptors involved in both the onset as well as the progression of several types of epilepsy. GW reports that CBDV has shown anti-epileptic results “across a range of in vitro and in vivo models of epilepsy.”
CBDV is also showing promise in several other areas of medicine:
According to a 2018 rodent study, CBDV has shown promise in helping the neurobehavioral issues associated with Rett syndrome. Rett syndrome is caused by an X chromosome mutation that affects girls with seizures, speech issues, and muscle spasticity. Interestingly, CBDV seems to help with both the genetically determined and chemically-induced forms of this and similar diseases.
In an animal study published in 2019 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, CBDV was found to rescue memory defects in mice that have the same genetic defect as people with Rett syndrome. CBDV also helped with neurological defects, but the effects were transient.
In a similar 2019 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, CBDV was found to possibly benefit patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). This disease is characterized by chronic inflammation and irreversible skeletal muscle damage and degeneration. CBDV may reduce inflammation and restore and even enhance muscle function. CBDV also improved locomotion, highlighting the compound’s potential as a novel therapy for DMD.
Childhood intractable epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often go hand in hand. CBDV is being investigated as a potential treatment of some of the more significant ASD issues, such as repetitive behavioral problems, cognitive challenges, and communication and social functioning issues.
CBDV may also be a powerful anti-nausea agent. Initial research on rodents shows that CBDV likely acts as an agonist to the CB1 receptors, thereby blocking the nausea response.
Although CBDV was discovered 50 years ago, research is just commencing in an appreciable way. With GW Pharmaceuticals and their CBDV clinical trials underway, this is a hopeful beginning in unlocking the secrets of another potentially powerful cannabinoid.
DENVER (AP) — Some teenagers in Colorado, where cannabis is legal for adults, are shifting away from smoking in favor of edible cannabis products, a medical study released Monday shows.
About 78% of the Colorado high school students who reported consuming marijuana in 2017 said they usually smoked it, down from 87% two years earlier. The number of teens who usually consumed edibles climbed to about 10% from 2% in the same period, while the number of users dabbing increased to about 7.5% from 4%.
“We haven’t seen an increase in use among youth but we are seeing a difference in how young people are consuming.”
Kayla Tormohlen, PhD candidate, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Research about the way young people consume marijuana products is still limited, and the study’s lead author said Colorado’s survey data could provide valuable insight for public health researchers and regulators.
“Since the implementation of retail marijuana sales, we haven’t seen an increase in use among youth but we are seeing a difference in how young people are consuming,” said Kayla Tormohlen, a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Understanding that can help to inform public health efforts.”
The study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics is based on high schoolers’ responses to Colorado’s biennial health survey in 2015 and 2017.
At least three other states that permit adult marijuana use — Alaska, Oregon and Washington — also include questions about how teens consume marijuana on state health surveys.
In Colorado and other states, edibles are tightly regulated including limits on the amount of THC, the compound in marijuana that creates users’ high feeling. In each marked dose, dispensary employees warn that customers should wait several hours to feel the effects of one portion before eating more. Information about the health effects of dabbing — heating or vaporizing an oil or wax with a high THC level and inhaling the vapors — is limited.
“These modes are important to monitor because of their unique psychoactive associations, and potential harms, including unintentional overconsumption with edibles and an increased physiological tolerance and withdrawal associated with the high tetrahydrocannabinol levels of cannabis concentrates used for dabbing,” the researchers wrote.
State and federal surveys have found teen use of marijuana remained relatively stable since Colorado began allowing adults to buy and use marijuana in 2014. In 2017, 1 in 5 Colorado students said they had recently consumed marijuana in any form — about the national average, said Jessica Neuwirth, the Colorado Department of Public Health’s retail marijuana education and youth prevention coordinator.
She said state public health researchers are always reevaluating the survey’s questions and teens’ responses, with input from other states’ agencies doing the same work.
“We are in certain ways leading the country in trying to figure out what are the right questions to ask and how do you ask those questions,” Neuwirth said.
Sales data has consistently showed adults consumers’ are trending toward non-smoking products, said David Abernathy, vice president of data and government affairs for The ArcView Group.
The company’s latest analysis of marijuana product sales shows traditional flower for smoking still makes up the majority of legal sales but vape cartridges and edible products continue to gain in popularity. Abernathy said he’s not surprised by the study’s results showing the illegal market for marijuana following that trend.
“We’ve seen that in states with a more competitive legal market, the illicit market has shrunk substantially,” he said. “And that’s the biggest thing we can do to keep cannabis out of the hands of teenagers.”
In Colorado, customers must be 21 to enter dispensaries and make purchases. Only 3% of teens who reported using marijuana in 2017 said they bought products from a dispensary.
Nearly 40% reported buying it from someone else. Others said they received marijuana from friends younger and older than 21 or from parents or adult family members.
The 29th annual International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) symposium, which convened last month in Bethesda, Maryland, featured new developments in CBD science that have far-reaching implications for many areas of medicine.
Over 200 scientists from around the world attended the four-day conference, which included 65 oral presentations and nearly 200 posters covering a wide range of topics – with the caveat that researchers had to present new, unpiblished data.
Harvard University scientist Staci Gruber shared encouraging results from “the first open-label to double-blind clinical trial” assessing the impact of a high-CBD, low-THC sublingual tincture in patients who experience moderate anxiety. None of the participants had been using any cannabinoid-based products prior to this study.
Preliminary data “suggests significant improvement following four weeks of treatment when compared to baseline,” Gruber noted. “Specifically, findings suggest that the use of a custom-formulated, whole plant-derived high CBD sublingual tincture results in less severe anxiety and fewer anxiety-related symptoms.”
After the completion of this open-label trial, Gruber intends to undertake a double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment that will generate “empirically sound data regarding the efficacy of sublingual CBD for anxiety.”
CBD for hypertension
Human subjects were also recruited for a CBD study at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, where Saoirse E. O’Sullivan and her team examined the acute and chronic effects of cannabidiol on cardiovascular function.
Previously, the Nottingham scientists had shown that “acute oral administration of CBD (600 mg) causes a reduction in blood pressure at rest and in response to stress.” But would tolerance develop with repeated dosing, thereby mitigating CBD’s hypotensive effect?
To find out, twenty-six healthy males were given 600 mg CBD or a placebo orally for seven days in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel study. The results were mixed. Measurements of resting blood pressure revealed that tolerance developed in response to chronic CBD administration, but CBD’s ability to lower blood pressure persisted during stress.
“The reduction of arterial stiffness, and improvements in internal carotid artery blood flow and endothelial function after chronic CBD treatment, indicate a positive effect in vascular function that warrants further investigation in relevant patient populations,” O’Sullivan reported.
ICRS 2019 included several talks devoted to clinical studies, but most of the CBD presentations showcased cutting-edge data based on preclinical research. The astonishing depth and range of this research underscored CBD’s versatile therapeutic potential.
CBD for stroke. A meta-analysis by scientists at the University of Nottingham surveyed the effects of CBD in animal models of focal ischemic stroke. The study found that CBD limited the damage caused by induced brain injury: “CBD significantly reduces infarct volume and improved early functional outcome in experimental stroke in rodents.” University of Nottingham researchers also conducted hands-on, preclinical research that examined the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), the raw, unheated version of CBD found in the cannabis plant. “Like CBD,” the researchers concluded, “CBDA is effective in reducing blood brain permeability and inflammation in a cellular model of stroke.” A compromised blood-brain barrier is a key factor in the secondary injury cascade that wreaks havoc on the brain during ischemia-reperfusion. CBD and CBDA restore BBB integrity by activating the 5-HT1a serotonin receptor, which also mediates CBD’s and CBDA’s anti-inflammatory effects. In Spain, neonatal animal experiments have paved the way for clinical testing of CBD on brain-damaged babies.
CBD for substance abuse. There are no FDA-approved medications to treat cocaine addiction. So, researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) set out to assess the CBD’s as an anti-cocaine remedy. The NIDA team gave CBD to cocaine-addicted rats and observed that systemic CBD treatment “shifted cocaine self-administration dose-response curve downward,” meaning that CBD tempered the rats’ craving for cocaine. “These findings suggest that CBD may have therapeutic utility to blunt rewarding effects of cocaine,” the NIDA researchers surmised. They also identified several molecular pathways whereby CBD conferred an anti-addictive effect on lab animals. These included the 5-HT1a serotonin receptor, the CB2 cannabinoid receptor, and an ion channel receptor known as “TRPV1” (pronounced trip-vee-one). When chemical “antagonists” were administered to block the signaling of these receptors, it negated CBD’s anti-addictive effects.
CBD for prostate cancer. Italian scientists conducted follow-up research into the combined effect of two plant cannabinoids – CBD and cannabigerol (CBG) – on aggressive prostate cancer. A previous study had shown that 1:1 combination of CBD:CBG “significantly reduced tumor relapse in animals with hormone refractory status, and, in vitro, inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis.” Their latest findings, as reported at ICRS, disclosed “how purified plant cannabinoids (CBD and CBG) affect the metabolic system of malignant tumors,” leading to “notable shifts of specific oncogenic related signaling pathways” in prostate cancer cells. This proves “the efficacy of phytocanabinoids as metabolic reprogramming agents,” which could form the basis of a breakthrough therapy for “highly malignant hormone refractory prostate cancer,” according to the Italian researchers. Scientists at Auburn University reached a similar conclusion regarding the antitumoral properties of CBD and THC, which inhibited prostate cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. This is encouraging news for the one out of nine men who will develop prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death among American males. The preclinical experiment at Auburn suggests “that cannabinoids could be developed as novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of prostate cancer.”
CBD for arthritis and gum disease. A team of Israeli, British, and American scientists analyzed the anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects of synthetic CBD in an animal model of arthritis. “CBD was shown to exert a potent analgesic effect” in preclinical research, which shed new light on CBD’s “anti-inflammatory mechanisms of action.” Another preclinical probe, conducted at the University of Leeds School of Dentistry in the UK, documented the potent anti-inflammatory effects of CBD on gum disease. The ability of CBD to modulate immune function “could provide possible therapeutic applications in the field of periodontal research,” the Leeds study concluded.
CBD oil products
There’s good reason to be excited about CBD’s potential health benefits, but a word of caution is necessary. Administering pure CBD to animals in a controlled laboratory setting is not the same as human consumption of a CBD oil product purchased from an unregulated internet storefront.
The Prague-based International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI) analyzed the quality of 70 hemp-derived CBD oil samples available in the European Union, and the results reported at the ICRS symposium were sobering, to say the least. Twenty percent of the samples contained less CBD than indicated on the label. THC was present in 89 percent of the samples, but in most cases no amount of THC was provided. And traces of highly toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were found in all the oils tested, underscoring the strong need for better extraction and processing practices by CBD product-makers.
Similar problems plague the CBD market in the United States. Inaccurate or incomplete CBD product labels undermine a consumer’s ability to make well-informed decisions. According to researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and Washington University in St. Louis: “Recent studies have demonstrated that hemp-derived CBD products purchased over the internet are frequently mislabeled, contaminated, or are outright fraudulent (contain no cannabinoids whatsoever). Therefore, patients are more likely to receive medical benefit from products that are routed through state-licensed cannabis markets, where lab testing for CBD content is required.”
Licensed cannabis dispensaries and delivery services also need to up their game and improve their product offerings. “Despite the obvious medical benefits, the availability of CBD-containing products in state-licensed retail stores is highly variable and surprisingly sparse. In one Pennsylvania store only 20 of products (39 or 196) contained CBD,” the U.S. researchers noted. “Results highlight the need for expanded patient access to CBD products.”
Indoor cannabis grows are expensive operations. Given the real estate costs, massive energy bills, and significant staffing requirements, it’s crucial to find a way to increase profits. Maximizing your grow space is one way to do this and that could mean vertical growing–the practice of producing plants in vertically stacked layers or vertically inclined surfaces.
In the food sector, vertical growing companies like Plenty, Aerofarms, Gotham Greens, and many more, are revolutionizing agriculture. But in the cannabis industry, which practically invented sunless growing, there has been notably less activity.
This is partly because high-pressure sodium lights (HPS), one of the most common lights used to grow cannabis for decades, run so hot that plants have to be many feet away to stay unharmed.
But LEDs run at much lower temperatures, so you can install them inches from the plant canopy. Their decreasing price and increasing ability to equal or exceed HPS yields are making LEDs the standard, finally opening the door to vertical growing for cannabis.
“The main catalyst behind cannabis cultivation going vertical is the improved performance of LED lighting,” says Thomas Rogers, LED engineer of Exact Lux. “Cannabis growers are approaching us wanting the most powerful multi-tier or ‘vertical farm’ lighting systems possible.”
Two Types of Vertical Farming
The most common method of vertical farming is a stacked vertical setup–levels of plant racks with LED lights above each rack. Plants are topped and defoliated to keep them short and bud-heavy.
Growers even stack in the flower stage, despite plants being large and top-heavy.
With true vertical growing, plants grow out the side of a column, and water and nutrients drip down from the top–see these examples from ZipGrow and Tower Garden.
Within the column, a hybrid method combines nutrient film technique (NFT), where nutrient water is passed directly over the roots, and aeroponics, a soilless grow method where roots hang in the air.
Pros and Cons of Vertical Growing
So why don’t all cannabis operations grow vertically, especially in this competitive new industry? Here we’ll look at some of the benefits and drawbacks.
Environmental Conditions Get Complex
Maintaining optimum temperature, humidity, and air circulation is tough for all cannabis grows. But in vertical growing there is even more variability in macro and micro environmental conditions because there are more plants, making control more difficult.
Because of this atmospheric variability, Hugh Gaasch, engineer at STEM Cultivation, recommends sensors to detect data points like moisture changes. “Shockingly, the majority of commercial growers I’ve seen to date use a single temperature/humidity sensor to monitor a room, even large spaces, over 20,000 feet.”
In contrast, STEM Cultivation uses one temperature sensor per 100 cubic feet. STEM collects data on: temperature, humidity, air pressure, CO2 levels, lighting levels, lighting power (kW) and energy (kWh), system air circulation rates, localized air circulation, VOC (volatile organic compounds), and HVAC power and energy, to name a few.
Mike Zartarian, from Zartarian Engineering, builds circulation systems for vegetable and cannabis growers. To decrease chances of mold and fungi, he says: “I recommend systems that push air right in between the racks above the plants, usually with small ducts that take air from the edges of the room to the center of the racks.”
Expensive to Set Up and Maintain
Although vertical growing of any kind will increase yield by maximizing space, when you add up the increased energy usage from more artificial lighting, an upgraded climate control system, the extra infrastructure required (ladders, racks, sensors, and more), and paying high-skilled agro-technicians, it is very costly for many.
Zartarian says: “It’s by no means impossible, but the jury is very much out on whether it’s cost effective long-term. If veggie growers prove it to be a dominant technique, I would expect to see more experimentation on the cannabis side.”
As it is, licensed operators he works with are struggling to meet demand and prefer to stick to more traditional techniques they know will produce.
Vertically grown cannabis needs a lot of hands-on attention during the flowering cycle as compared to, say, vertical lettuce crops which are more set-and-forget. The height of a plant must be closely controlled, which requires grow technicians to get up on step stools or scaffolding to reach into the plant canopy. These high-tier tasks may not be OSHA-compliant.
Certain Cultivars Work Better Than Others
The most successful cultivars for vertical growing are short, have big buds, and fewer leaves, so less defoliation is necessary. But if you’re a confident defoliator, the diversity of cultivars you can grow will broaden.
Arthur Brownsey, cannabis cultivation consultant at Four Trees, thinks most strains can grow vertically. “If you have a tight production schedule, group like-cultivars together, and plan accordingly, there are no restrictions to what you can grow.”
Agro-engineer Aja Atwood of Trella sees value in vertical growing, but the limited cultivars it serves made her determined to find another option. “There is a wide variety of strains out there that prefer longer vegetation periods and have a taller growth structure. In order to diversify, you need to train or trellis those taller varieties to stay within the space.”
To allow for vertical growing with a diversity of strains, she and her partner Andres Chamorro invented a grow unit, TrellaGro LST, that trains plants to grow horizontally. Each unit is vertically stackable and equipped with LED lights that follow it as it grows sideways, allowing for taller strains and less energy use.
In these early days, vertical growing has yet to revolutionize the industry, and some operations, focused on supplying a high-demand market, are sticking with traditional growing methods.
However, most operations already know the price of cannabis will likely drop as competition grows. In that climate, the future of cannabis could move up, not out.
In 1997, Will Foster, then 38, was sentenced to 93 years in an Oklahoma state prison for growing a small cannabis garden in a locked bomb shelter under his home in Tulsa. Foster, a U.S. military veteran with no prior criminal record, wasn’t dealing weed – he had been cultivating cannabis to treat his psoriatic arthritis, a painful, degenerative disease. The Court subsequently reduced Foster’s sentence to 20 years, and he was eventually paroled after waging a lengthy battle against a draconian legal system.
Today, Foster is back in Tulsa, a free man, operating a licensed medical marijuana business. This unexpected turn of events is emblematic of the transformation that is taking place in Oklahoma, which legalized cannabis for therapeutic use in 2018, despite opposition from the Okie political establishment.
Oklahoma, surprisingly, is now the fastest growing medical cannabis market in America. Just one year after the passage of State Question 788 (S.Q. 788) there are already 154,890 approved patients and caregivers, according to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), and business licenses have been issued to over 3,559 growers, just over 940 processors, and 1,673 dispensaries, although it is unclear just how many cannabis storefronts and delivery services have actually opened thus far. But it’s safe to say that total number of dispensaries in the Sooner State easily exceeds the number of licensed cannabis dispensaries that are up and running in much larger and more populated states like Ohio, Florida, and California.
Officially the 30th state to pass a medical cannabis law, Oklahoma is unique in the regulated national landscape. Barriers to entry for both patients and business are lower than any other state. There are no set qualifying conditions to become a patient, but rather it is left to the discretion of the recommending doctor. All patients can grow six mature plants at home. There are no license caps and each business license application costs just $2,500.
Red state reefer
Oklahoma’s cannabis industry has expanded rapidly since the first sales began in early December 2018. Although much of the early product that moved through the stores may have been brought in illegally from other states, local producers are starting to roll out locally produced products and brands.
In March 2019, what is being called “The Unity Bill” (H.B. 2612) easily passed through the state legislature and into law with bipartisan support and input from cannabis advocates as well as from other groups the legislature considers to be stakeholders: law enforcement, banks, chambers of commerce, and relevant government agencies.
When new regulations under H.B. 2612 come into effect in August, all product will be subject to seed-to-sale tracking, childproof packaging and lab testing and labeling requirements. Certain protections are added for legal medical cannabis patients, who are benefiting from a wide range of available product options. The restrictions on public consumption of vaporized or smoked cannabis are exactly in line with restrictions around public tobacco smoking.
Compared to markets in larger states and those where recreational cannabis is legal, Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market is somewhat of an anomaly. It has generated a lot of pride on the ground among local advocates. Not only have they achieved what was once considered unachievable in Oklahoma, they have staunchly defended the right to local ownership and opportunity, while out-of-state vulture capitalists invade larger markets.
The quick roll-out of the medical marijuana program in Oklahoma has ensured that the state’s small businesses will have a chance to gain traction and survive until federal law changes and a national market opens. Thus far, the home-grown cannabis market has proven more lucrative for Oklahoma in comparison to other state level programs, which are typically more expensive, more restrictive, and more favorable to cartel-like production and distribution schemes. According to the Associated Press, retailers in Oklahoma sold $23 million worth of cannabis in May 2019 alone and the seven percent cannabis tax and associated sales taxes have netted over $10 million since legal commerce began in December – and it is just getting started.
A fair chance to compete
Isaac Caviness and Joshua Lewelling of Okie Express Transport & Sales were busy for years working to legalize medical cannabis in Oklahoma, and now they are even busier delivering it to retailers. They spend long days on the road transporting product to dispensaries in Tulsa and the eastern part of the state. While the state’s two major metropolitan regions, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, have hundreds of dispensaries (with more opening every day), even small rural towns are getting in on the action.
Caviness and Lewelling can’t keep up with demand. At each dispensary product flies off the shelves, and they always hear the same question from store owners, “How much can we buy from you today?” Caviness and Lewelling explain that they would sell out of product at a single dispensary if they didn’t plan to spread it out.
Business is good now, but Lewelling and Caviness know there will be a reckoning in the market at some point. As more producers come online, a larger volume of higher quality locally grown and manufactured product will hit the shelves, new regulations will be enforced, and some businesses won’t be able survive. While the reckoning is predictable, every cannabis advocate in Oklahoma feels that the people who worked to pass the law should get a fair chance to compete, even if they fail.
Before the passage of S.Q. 788, Caviness operated Hemp RX, a “CBD dispensary” that sold a variety of cannabis products low enough in THC to legally be considered hemp. A sizable hemp-CBD retail market sprang up in in Oklahoma in response to the passage of Katie’s Law in 2015, which legalized the use of CBD oil for epileptic children but created no regulatory framework for production and distribution. Many CBD businesses have since converted into licensed full-service cannabis dispensaries, but some still continue to operate outside the medical cannabis framework, choosing instead to focus on selling CBD products primarily to pediatric and geriatric demographics.
Beyond CBD only
“CBD-only” was not good enough for Cavinenss and Lewelling, who converted Hemp Rx into an around-the-clock voter registration and signature-drive headquarters in an effort to legalize medical cannabis, not just a single component of the plant. They co-founded the organization Green the Vote, which organized advocates around the state and coordinated voter and signature drives in support of State Question 788. Sponsored by Oklahomans for Health, the medical cannabis ballot measure was ignored by national organizations like Marijuana Policy Project, which dismissed the effort as pointless in conservative Oklahoma.
“We had no national support,” Caviness said. “We made triangle boards with the pictures of sick kids and families who had to leave for Colorado [to access cannabis]. We stood in front of gas stations and we talked to people about why.”
A map of Oklahoma lays underneath a glass bowl packed with cannabis. A cannabis bud sits next to the pipe.
The entire process was a grassroots effort. Over the course of five years and four petition drives, a politically bipartisan and dedicated network of activists emerged. With the help of social media, they expanded their networks throughout the state. “We registered tens of thousands of people to vote,” Caviness said.
On the fifth try, they qualified S.Q. 788 for the 2016 general election ballot. But then-state Attorney General Scott Pruitt (later a disgraced Trump cabinet appointee) effectively prevented the vote by creating delays and inaccurately re-writing the ballot initiative title to make it seem as if the measure would legalize “recreational” use. Oklahomans for Health sued and prevailed in the state Supreme Court on March 27, 2017.
Gov. Mary Fallin scheduled S.Q. 788 for a vote on June 26, 2018. According to Chip Paul, co-author of the law and co-founder of Oklahomans for Health, medical cannabis advocates were outspent 12-to-1 by opponents yet still won with 57% of the vote in a state-record high voter turnout. Paul says the idea behind much of the design of the cannabis market under S.Q. 788 came from watching what he and others felt to be the fatal flaws in medical legislation enacted in other states.
Thus far, the program has survived legislative attacks at all levels of the state government. In July 2018, for example, Oklahoma’s Department of Health (DOH) proposed onerous regulations that would remove access to flower, require pregnancy tests for women of child-bearing age, and impose business license caps. But Attorney General Mike Hunter warned that the DOH did not have the authority to regulate medical cannabis in a way that’s inconsistent with the statute as written. By early August the DOH reneged and began implementing temporary regulations and issuing licenses and patient cards as compelled by the language of the citizen initiative.
Many medical cannabis entrepreneurs and patients in Oklahoma are veterans – of both foreign wars and the ongoing war on drugs. “People have made real sacrifices. This is an industry that people have gone to prison for to get here,” said Isaac Caviness. Today his company, Okie Express Transport & Sales, is the exclusive distributor for Herblix, a newly licensed cannabis cultivation business run by Will Foster, the erstwhile poster boy for drug war depravity.
Foster’s shocking 93-year sentence for a growing a small medical cannabis garden epitomized the mid-1990s wave of “tough on crime” laws, which involved life sentences for non-violent drug offences, law enforcement hoarding of civil asset forfeiture spoils, and a close relationship between the Sooner State and America’s largest private prison corporations. As a result, Oklahoma currently has the highest rate of incarceration in the nation and the world.
Oklahoma activists, buoyed by the successful grassroots campaign to legalize medical cannabis, are pushing for major changes in the Sooner state’s grotesque criminal justice system. A package of criminal justice reform legislation was introduced earlier this year, but only one piece of legislation passed. Advocates vow to take it up again next year.
Angela Bacca is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance journalist with a MBA and 10 years experience in cannabis media. She specializes in coverage of cannabis in conservative states, science, medicine, politics, business, culture and media.
Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.
More Instagram accounts than ever are dedicated to celebrating women and femmes who dig cannabis. If you want to fill your newsfeed with pro-feminist and pro-cannabis content, all of the accounts below are for you.
Take a look at these women-run, cannabis-centric Instagram accounts below. While some of them are more lighthearted than others, all of them boast stellar content and pride themselves on unapologetically honoring and supporting women and femmes who choose to consume cannabis–for whatever reason.
Based in Arizona and created and run by Laura Armenta, @chronicsadgirlsclub is devoted to “helping femmes navigate the intersection where cannabis, mental health, chronic illness, and self-care meet.”
This account abounds with gorgeous posts and images that gently inspire and affirm cannabis-consuming women and femmes who deal with all sorts of chronic and mental illnesses, from depression to anxiety to chronic pain.
Recently, Chronic Sad Girls Club partnered with @totem.yoga and @flow.ganjamama to create Ganja Flow, a safe space where women and femmes can “practice yoga, heal, and medicate without stigma or judgement.” So if you live in Arizona and have a valid AZ MMJ card, follow @chronicsadgirlsclub to be the first to know when the next event is happening.
Based in Long Beach, California and created and run by Ashley Manta–a former Leafly contributor, sex and cannabis coach, and multiple sexual assault survivor–@cannasexual is dedicated to helping people mindfully combine sex and cannabis in safe, consensual, and healthy ways.
Whether you’re curious about cannabis-infused lubes, decreasing pain during penetrative sex with cannabis suppositories, or consuming cannabis to help you heal from the trauma of sexual violence, the “High Priestess of Pleasure” has got you covered.
Founded by Jane West, Jazmin Hupp, and Julie Batkiewicz in 2014 in Denver, Colorado, Women Grow was created to “connect, educate, inspire, and empower the next generation of cannabis industry leaders by creating programs, community, and events for aspiring and current business executives.”
In the past five years, Women Grow has evolved into a for-profit powerhouse that exists to help women from all walks of life influence and succeed in the cannabis industry, and its Instagram account is regularly updated with a wide array of inspiring weed-related posts — from exceptional pieces of cannabis journalism to updates on Women Grow’s monthly local networking events and its annual leadership summit.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Dope Girls Zine is a feminist cannabis culture zine that was founded by Beca Grimm and Rachel Hortman back in 2016. When Grimm and Hortman, “noticed a lack of female representation in the 420-friendly community,” the pair decided to help change the face of cannabis consumption in the American South while also championing marginalized voices.
With both their zine and their Instagram account, Grimm and Hortman are succeeding in doing exactly what they set out to do, from calling out ICE for putting kids in cages to lifting up the LGBTQ community to unapologetically defending reproductive rights.
Grimm and Hortman typically publish two zines each year, and while they aren’t totally opposed to working with men, they pride themselves on prioritizing the work of women and non-binary contributors.
Created by Erin Willis–a mother, holistic nutritionist, cannabis wellness coach, and educator soon-to-be based in Colorado–Mother Indica first began three years ago as a blog centering around an anonymous mom experimenting with cannabis and holistic living to treat her postpartum depression. Since then, Mother Indica has become, “a community of proud, uncloseted cannabis consumers on a journey of self-realization and elevated self love in connection to cannabis and nutrition.”
The blog is frequently updated with content revolving around the wellness side of cannabis, motherhood, and destigmatizing the use of cannabis for everything from culinary and beauty recipes to daily medicine. Both the Mother Indica blog and its Instagram account act as a, “motherly guide and resource for cannabis and nutrition education, inspiration, and storytelling,” and @motherindica is regularly updated with gorgeous images, product recommendations, event invites, and inspirational posts.
From gorgeous images to informational posts to event invites to inspirational quotes taken directly from the book, @breakingthegrassceiling is worth a follow no matter your aspirations–but it’s particularly helpful if you’re hoping to break into the legal cannabis industry and start your own cannabis business.
High Girls Club is easily the most lighthearted Instagram account featured in this list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as important and delightful as all of the other women-run cannabis accounts we’ve mentioned.
Whether you’re looking for a daily dose of inspiring quotes from cannabis-loving celebrities (like Lady Gaga), beautiful illustrations of babes getting lifted, product recommendations, cute gifs, or just content that will make you giggle, you should probably follow @highgirlsclub STAT.
Survivors For Cannabis
As both a blog and a private Instagram account, Survivors For Cannabis serves as a safe space for survivors of all genders, sexualities, colors, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, ages, abilities, and experiences who choose cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Or, as the blog explains it: “Through collective research, learning and advocacy both online and with local chapters, SfC fights the many layers of stigma around cannabis, mental illness, sexual violence, and survival.”
Whether you’re a survivor of sexual violence or simply a curious ally, @survivorsforcannabis is a fantastic account to follow.
There’s a lot of wariness around hydroponic growing, particularly for homegrowers looking to establish small-scale grows. But although it may be more expensive to get started with than soil, hydroponics can be a superior way of growing cannabis, and hydro technology is getting cheaper and more accessible every day, offering a range of benefits over classic soil-based cultivation.
Here we’ll take a look at its primary advantage, an increased level of control, as well as three secondary advantages: efficiency, versatility, and sustainability.
Patience is crucial with hydroponic growing. Despite all its advantages, it’s often more labor-intensive and has a higher skill barrier.
With a soil grow, your primary concerns will center around light and nutrients; with hydroponics, you still have to be deliberate in those areas, while also managing a complex and sensitive system that circulates water and nutrients among your plants.
It’s essential that you have a strong command of your system, as the health of your plants depends on it. Hydroponic cultivation is much less forgiving of small mistakes than growing in soil.
Since nutrients are delivered directly to your plants’ root systems, you’ll need to ensure you’re delivering an optimal mix, as over-fertilizing can have disastrous results. The complexity and sensitivity of hydroponics systems also means they’re an investment of time and money.
You can design and set up a relatively low-cost setup, but it requires a strong understanding of the basic principles of hydroponic cultivation. Alternately, you can forgo designing your own setup and buy premade solutions. A system capable of growing 5-6 plants can start at around $100, and quickly increase from there with features that increase control and ease of use.
Of course, once you’re set up and have a couple of grow cycles under your belt, the costs will level off, and the increased yield and quality will quickly make up your initial investment.
If you are jumping into hydroponics, just make sure to continue your research and look carefully before you leap.
Control Your Environment
A hydroponic grow allows you to exercise total control over the quality and quantity of nutrients your plants receive, whereas with soil grows, nutrients remain in the soil. The nutritional needs of cannabis plants vary throughout the grow process and with hydroponics, you’re able to dial in the mixture of nutrients and tailor it specifically to their progress.
It is worth keeping in mind, hydroponics may require a higher degree of care than a soil grow. Microorganisms in soil can help restore balance in case of issues like a pH imbalance or over-fertilization, but since hydroponic mediums don’t have this capability, you’ll need to be careful and deliberate in the ways you nurture your plants.
Closely monitoring your water’s pH and overall quality, selecting and measuring your nutrients with extreme care, and maintaining a consistent temperature are key to a productive hydroponic grow.
However, this degree of sensitivity also allows you to make small adjustments to maximize yields, which is more difficult in a conventional soil grow. You’re also be able to directly examine your plants’ root systems in a hydro grow, ensuring your plants are developing in a healthy way.
Save Time and Space
The increased level of control offered by hydroponics allows you to grow your plants more efficiently. By creating the ideal circumstances for plant growth, you’re able to maximize the productivity of each plant.
An indoor hydroponic grow allows your plants to mature faster and more evenly. Year-round hydroponic systems can yield multiple harvests annually, though strain genetics also play a role in that as well.
Since you’re going to be delivering nutrients directly to each plant, each plant’s root system requires significantly less space than with a soil grow. Less space needed for roots means you can use a grow space more effectively, whether it’s a walk-in closet or a warehouse. The only factor that will limit your number of plants and the density of your canopy is the strength and availability of light.
You’ll also be able to use less nutrients overall, as they are absorbed directly into the plants, with nothing lost in soil.
Grow Hydroponically Indoor or Outdoor
The classic image of hydroponic cultivation is large, intricate, expensive systems in industrial warehouse grows, but hydroponic cultivation is actually much more accessible than that.
If you’re a homegrower with the right equipment and expertise, you can set up a hydroponic grow in a space the size of a walk-in closet and yield far more than you would with a soil grow in a comparable space.
Hydroponics can be scaled to any grow size or type, and will confer the same advantages no matter how large or small your grow.
Most hydroponic systems are used to grow indoors. However, as long as you have a reliable power supply, hydroponics can be used to grow outdoors, particularly in greenhouses. While you’ll have to deal with factors like light, temperature, and humidity, growing hydroponically in a greenhouse will allow you to maximize yield and quality while avoiding the massive energy requirements of indoor cultivation.
Sustainability is an oft-overlooked benefit of hydroponic cultivation. With soil cultivation, a significant portion of the water you use never gets to your plant’s roots. With hydroponics, you’re able to precisely deliver the exact amount of water each plant needs, without wasting any.
Also, many of the insect and disease problems faced in the cannabis cultivation process are the result of soilborne infestations. Since hydroponics dispenses with soil, the reduced risk of pests means your need for pesticides will be minimized.
Since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, the amount of opioid prescriptions for pain fell significantly compared to two states where access to cannabis for adult-use is still illegal, a new study finds.
While a robust body of research has demonstrated a link between legal access to medical marijuana and lower use of opioids, less is known about how broader adult-use laws affect the prescribing rates of pharmaceuticals used for pain management. Researchers at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and the University of New England were interested in addressing this gap in the literature.
For their analysis, they chose to compare Colorado with Maryland and Utah based on the fact that those two states are similar to the first-to-legalize jurisdiction in different ways: While Maryland has similar demographics in terms of population size, home ownership, education level and uninsured rates, Utah was the most geographically similar state with comparable Body Mass Index and median household income.
According to the study’s findings, which were pre-published on bioRxiv earlier this month and have yet to be peer-reviewed: “Colorado had a larger decrease in opioid distribution after 2012 than Utah or Maryland. Therefore, marijuana could be considered as an alternative treatment for chronic pain and reducing use of opioids.”
“There has been a significant decrease in the prescription opioid distribution after the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.”
Using data from a federal program managed by the Drug Enforcement Administration to keep an eye on the distribution of certain narcotics, the study’s authors looked at the prescription rates from 2007 to 2017 for nine opioid pain medications (oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, tapentadol, codeine, and meperidine) and two medications used to treat opioid use disorder (methadone and buprenorphine) in the three states. For a baseline comparison, they converted the amount of each drug distributed into what the equivalent would be in a dose of oral morphine in milligrams (MME).
According to the study’s analysis, Maryland had the highest amount of total pharmaceuticals distributed during the study period: In 2011, the weight of all 11 opioids peaked at 12,167 kg MME. That amount was more than twice the weight determined in Colorado and Utah, which peaked at 5,029 kg MME in 2012 and 3,429 kg in 2015, respectively. The two narcotics distributed the most in all three states were oxycodone and methadone.
When researchers looked specifically at medications prescribed to help people who misuse opioids–that is, methadone and buprenorphine–they found Utah had cut back by 31 percent over the study period. Colorado and Maryland both increased these prescriptions by 19 percent and 67 percent, respectively.
For pain medications specifically, Utah had lower rates in every year and in every drug compared to Colorado. However, its prescription rate increased by almost 10 percent over time. Meanwhile, Colorado’s prescribing rates decreased by approximately 12 percent during the decade studied, while Maryland saw a decrease of 6 percent.
“This finding was particularly notable for opioids indicated predominantly for analgesia such as hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl.”
“Colorado and Maryland experienced an overall decrease in opioid distribution, but Colorado’s decrease was larger,” the study states. “While the nation as a whole was experiencing a decrease in opioid distribution, it was promising that Colorado’s greater decrease gives consideration to the potential impact of recreational marijuana.”
It’s unclear why Colorado saw such a significant drop in prescriptions for pain medication, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Colorado legalized marijuana for adult use in 2012. Recent research also shows that many customers purchase marijuana from recreational dispensaries for the same reasons medical cannabis patients do: to help with pain and sleep.
There may be other variables at play, however, including guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016 to address prescribing narcotics for chronic pain, the study states. Additionally, Maryland lawmakers passed a medical cannabis law in 2013, while Utah voters didn’t approve medical access until 2018.
Importantly, the authors say that lawmakers “have the duty” to consider other options to address the opioid crisis, including “marijuana as a treatment option for chronic pain.”
“If there is an initial reduction in opioid distributions in states with recreational marijuana laws, it is conceivable that opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose deaths could also fall,” they conclude. “Therefore, it may be time to reconsider the practice of automatically discharging patients from pain treatment centers for positive marijuana screens, considering this use might actually reduce their overall opioid use.”
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s governor signed a bill Monday that softens penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis and allows for the expungement of some past convictions.
After Aug. 27 it’ll be a $50 ticket for under one ounce, or $200 for one to two ounces, statewide.
The legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes unlawful possession of cannabis a violation.
The penalty is $50 for possessing less than one ounce, or a maximum of $200 for one to two ounces.
The law also requires that records tied to low-level marijuana cases either be marked as expunged or destroyed. It takes effect 30 days after the governor signs the bill into law. August 27 will be the law’s effective date.
“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all,” Cuomo said in a statement.
No Stop-and-Frisk Relief
Advocates for cannabis legalization acknowledge the law is a step forward but also say it falls short of addressing a web of negative consequences that come with having cannabis as an illegal violation.
“Police have historically found a way to work around the decriminalization of marijuana,” said Erin George, of Citizen Action of New York.
People can still face probation violations and immigration consequences under the decriminalization bill, George said.
Melissa Moore, New York state deputy director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said the law will continue to allow authorities to target people of color and their communities for cannabis enforcement.
Expungements and Record Sealing
At least 24,400 people will no longer have a criminal record due to the bill, according to New York’s Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The law will prompt the sealing of more than 200,000 convictions for low-level marijuana offenses, according to the agency.
State lawmakers considered legalizing cannabis for adult use this year, but that legislation stalled after state leaders failed to reach an agreement on key details in the final days of the legislative session.
Cuomo and the top leaders in the Legislature are all Democrats.
A new report by Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and dozens of other publications, has found that cannabis use by new consumers correlates with a reduction in their use of painkillers and alcohol.
The study, conducted the company’s digital marketing arm, LOCALiQ, combined survey responses with mobile data to paint a picture of cannabis consumers in legal states. Researchers surveyed 8,805 cannabis consumers aged 21 to 64 across 21 states in which some form of cannabis is legal.
“Baby boomers that are not purchasing marijuana are 60% more likely than millennials to consider it.”
Among all surveyed consumers, 49% reported reducing their over-the-counter painkiller use since starting cannabis, and 52% reduced prescription drug use. Another 37% said they’ve reduced alcohol consumption since starting cannabis. And 60% said they consider a healthy lifestyle to be a priority.
The report splits subjects into two main categories: current consumers and so-called “acceptors,” or “those that would consider using cannabis but currently are not.” From there, the report profiles three groups of current consumers–affluent families with children, baby boomers, and frequent shoppers–and asks what it would take for the cannabis curious to actually consume.
Affluent families, which make more than $75,000 per year and account for 38.8 million US households, are “active cannabis buyers,” the report found. Their average spend on a visit to a retailer was $50, and their biggest factors in choosing a shop are the selection of products and strains (88%) followed by price and convenience (87%). Their top motivators for consuming cannabis included stress management (48%) and chronic or recurring pain (37%). And 71% say they value a retailer that grows and sells its own products.
Consumer behavior also depends on who in the family is doing the shopping. A majority of dads (55%) in the study, for example, shopped at an average of four or more dispensaries over the past three months. Moms on average shopped at only a one dispensary over the same period, “making them more loyal customers,” the report says.
“Despite high spending levels overall,” the report found, “Affluent Families are not loyal and are most easily swayed by a good selection of products/strains.”
Baby boomers are a sought-after demographic for many cannabis brands, and the report makes clear why: Of the groups surveyed, none spent more on cannabis per shop visit than boomers. More than a third (37%) spend upward of $75 per visit, while their average is on par with affluent families ($50). Not only that, but boomers also had the largest percentage of acceptors, or people who are open to consuming cannabis but currently are not. That could mean an additional spend of $1.1 million, the report found.
In fact, the report found that boomers were actually more cannabis curious than their millennial counterparts, noting that “Baby boomers that are not purchasing marijuana are 60% more likely than millennials to consider it.”
Why so much interest? “This group views cannabis as a solution to a myriad of day to day issues such as anxiety, aches and pains, sleep, digestion and more,” the report says. The top reasons given by boomers for consuming cannabis were chronic or persistent pain (62%) and temporary or minor pain (40%).
Boomers are also relatively loyal shoppers, although they tend to visit stores less frequently than other groups: Roughly two-thirds (65%) of boomers who consume cannabis visit a retail store on monthly basis. When they do stop by a shop, they’re looking for a good price (90%), friendly staff (89%), and a good selection of strains and products (88%).
The report’s third highlighted group, frequent cannabis shoppers, do exactly that: shop for cannabis frequently. Of those surveyed, 70% said they go to a cannabis shop three to four times per month, where they tend to drop an average of $50 or more per visit. Most are millennials and Gen Xers: 58% were between 21 and 34 years old, and 35% were 35 to 54. A majority (54%) said they use cannabis to help manage stress.
Frequent shoppers don’t just go to the store often–they’re also likely sign up for deals and promo alerts. Of those surveyed, 62% said they are notified of promotions through emails or text messages. And 58% belonged to some sort of rewards or points program.
What do these shoppers want? Competitive prices and a good selection of products are top-of-list, with 83% of those surveyed mentioning those traits. After that, they’re looking for friendly staff (80%) and recommendations for treating specific ailments (also 80%). But don’t expect frequent shoppers to stick to the same shop. The report notes that these buyers aren’t particularly loyal.
Acceptors are on the fence. They don’t currently consume cannabis, but they say they’ll consider it. In established legal states, the report found, roughly half of nonconsumers say fall into this category–and wooing them could mean big bucks for the industry. “Spanning many consumer types and ages including millennials, baby boomers, and affluent families with children, the acceptor segment has an estimated market potential of $2.1 billion, making it the largest potential combined growth segment,” the report found.
Acceptors are three times more likely to get information about cannabis from a news website than from their doctor.
Most of these folks are interested in cannabis as medicine. More than three-fourths (77%) said they would use cannabis to treat a medical condition, and 23% think medical cannabis could help with a current health issue and are interested in learning more. The biggest reasons they’d consider using cannabis include to treat chronic or recurring pain (63%), to help with anxiety or stress (46%), and to have a better quality of life (41%).
While acceptors are primarily interested in medical cannabis, the study found they’re three times more likely to get information about cannabis from a news website than from their doctor.
What’s in a Brand?
There’s still very little brand loyalty in the cannabis space, the report found, with 67% of cannabis consumers shopping at two or more dispensaries during the past three months and a quarter shopping at four or more.
So what drives consumer decisions to go with one shop over another? Of those surveyed, 80% said a retailer’s reputation is “extremely important” in their selection process.
“Like other more established market segments that lack brand loyalty,” the study found, “price, selection, and friendly staff topped the reason why shoppers selected a particular dispensary.” Those surveyed gave these five reasons, in order of importance: