Explore cannabis strains with a new perspective

You’ve heard it before when it comes to cannabis strains: Sativas will pick you up for energetic daytime activities, while indicas will put you in the couch when you want to relax and wind down at the end of the day.

But the indica/sativa classification is incomplete. There’s a better way of predicting the effects of a cannabis strain before you buy and consume it: by looking at its cannabinoid and terpene profile. Leafly has designed a new visual system to help you easily understand.

Rooted in science and incorporating test data from lab partners across the US and Canada, Leafly’s new Cannabis Guide will help you select a cannabis strain for any activity, mood, or time of day, suited to your particular body and needs.

In this first part, we’ll show you how to use the new system, whether you’re a novice or connoisseur and regardless of what you are looking for: happy or euphoric feelings, a calm or energizing state of mind, or particular wellness benefits.

We’ll get into why Leafly has created this new system for looking at cannabis, what cannabinoids and terpenes are, and why the chemical profile of a cannabis strain is so important in Part 2 of this series.


Jump to a section in Part 1:

To learn why Leafly has created a new visualization system for cannabis, check out Part 2 of this series.


Don’t let change overwhelm you: Leafly’s new system uses simple shapes and colors to help you find the best strain for you. Let’s dive in.

sour-diesel-leafly-flower

The above strain card shows all of the elements of a Leafly flower in the new Cannabis Guide. When looking for a strain, we recommend you go in this order:

Find your shape (cannabinoid), find your color (terpene), find your cannabis (strain).

what-are-shapes-leafly-flower

Shapes are one of the most integral pieces of the system. They represent cannabinoids (ca-NA-bi-noids), which are compounds like THC and CBD that drive the effects of cannabis. More on this later.

Most cannabis strains are mainly composed of either THC or CBD, or a mix of the two. The center shape–or nucleus–represents THC or CBD dominance:

  • Diamonds are THC-dominant strains
  • Circles are CBD-dominant strains
  • Strains with a balanced amount of THC and CBD have a mix of circles and diamonds in the rings; Harlequin is a good example

The larger the shape, the higher the percentage of THC or CBD–longer, pointier diamonds mean more THC, and bigger circles mean more CBD.

A few minor cannabinoids, such as CBG, are also included in the system. Today, however, most cannabis strains contain THC and CBD.

lemon-cake-leafly-flower

A Leafly flower with diamonds, which represent THC.

THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis–it gets you high, and it’s known to help with pain relief, nausea, and appetite loss.

If you want a strain with high THC levels (for more of a high), look for longer and pointier diamonds. If you want something with just a little bit of THC (and less of a high), look for smaller, shorter diamonds.

sour-tsunami-leafly-flower

A Leafly flower with circles, which represent CBD.

CBD is the non-intoxicating compound in cannabis that provides many wellness benefits, so you’ll look for circles. CBD can even help decrease some of THC’s side effects like anxiety or temporary short-term memory problems.

Something with a lot of CBD will have big circles. Small circles means it has just a little bit of CBD.

Today’s market consists mainly of THC-dominant strains, so CBD strains will be less common. Some popular CBD strains are ACDC, Cannatonic, and Sour Tsunami.

terpene-color-chart-leafly

The five most common terpenes in the Cannabis Guide, their flavors, and other fruits and herbs they are found in; calm-energizing data is aggregated from Leafly reviews.

Colors represent terpenes, which make up the flavors and smells of cannabis, including sweet, citrus, skunky, or diesel scents. Terpenes are oils secreted by trichomes, the sticky glands on cannabis plants. Other plants and fruits also produce terpenes.

Terpenes help give each strain its distinct personality and may also influence the effects of cannabis through something known as the “entourage effect” (more on that in Part 2). More research is needed to fully understand how terpenes affect the body.

More than 100 terpenes have been identified in cannabis, but some are more common than others. Leafly’s Cannabis Guide highlights eight of the most common.

Each Leafly flower shows the three most abundant terpenes: The large, medium, and small rings around the center shape indicate primary, secondary, and tertiary terpenes, respectively.

Different terpenes may lead to different experiences. Experiment with different colors (terpenes) to find which combinations produce the right feelings and effects for you. If you find a strain with a dominant terpene that you like, you will likely enjoy a different strain with that same dominant terpene.

When searching for flowers in the new system, you’ll notice that some don’t include colors. These strains do not have enough terpene data yet to establish a reliable terpene profile (colors), but they do have enough data for a cannabinoid profile (shapes).

In the US, cannabinoid and potency testing is required by state law in legal markets, so all cannabis sold through state-legal stores will have cannabinoid data. But testing for terpenes is not required by law and costs extra money, so a lot of growers don’t elect to have it done.

Similarly, in Canada, licensed producers (LPs) must provide cannabinoid potency for all cannabis products. Although some LPs may elect to test for terpenes as well, this information can only be communicated on supplementary materials, not directly on packages.

Leafly is working to create a terpene profile for every strain. We intend for our new Cannabis Guide to encourage both growers and consumers to take more of an interest in terpene data and how it can help ensure a reliable, enjoyable experience.

It’s still hard to predict the effects a strain may have on a specific individual because every individual, every experience, and every set and setting are different. Even if the same individual smokes the same exact strain at two different times, it can affect them differently.

An analogy for using the Cannabis Guide to find a strain for yourself is online dating: You can get a sense of someone’s personality from a dating profile, but you’ll have to go on a date to see if you really match.

Similarly, in telling you the cannabinoid and terpene profile of a cannabis strain, the Cannabis Guide will give you an accurate depiction of a strain’s chemical profile, but you still need to try different strains to find the right type of strain for you.

Once you find a shape and color combination that gives you desired feelings and effects, you can keep going back to that kind of strain. Also, if a strain has negative effects for you, a strain with a similar profile will likely lead to negative effects as well.

You’ll see a few options when you go to both Leafly’s app and homepage:

  • The Cannabis Guide homepage, which includes a brief explainer on how to use the new system
  • Suggested strain lists–curated groups of strains based on feelings, activities, or experiences
  • The Flower Finder, which allows you to create a flower by picking your preferred cannabinoid levels and terpenes; the system will then pull up strains based on the parameters you put in

To create a flower, remember: Find your shape, find your color, find your cannabis.

First, pick your shape, or THC and CBD levels. You can have all THC, all CBD, or a mix of both.

Next, pick a color, or terpene. These are the eight terpenes in the Cannabis Guide–ordered from calming to energizing–and information about each based on research and thousands of customer reviews:

  • Linalool (purple): Floral, also found in lavender; it’s reported to promote pain relief and relaxation.
  • Myrcene (dark blue): Earthy; it’s the most abundant terpene found in cannabis; commonly believed to have sedative and muscle-relaxing effects.
  • Pinene (green): Pine flavors; also found in rosemary and many other herbs; it has been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects and may combat short-term memory impairment from THC.
  • Humulene (light green): Woody flavors; reported to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Caryophyllene (fuchsia): Spicy and peppery; rodent studies have shown that it can act as an anti-inflammatory, relieve pain, and may even treat anxiety and depression.
  • Limonene (yellow): Citrus flavor; rodent studies reported have shown that it can provide relief from anxiety and stress.
  • Ocimene (bright red): Sweet flavors; commonly used in perfumes; reported to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Terpinolene (orange): Fruity flavors; reported to have antibacterial and antifungal qualities.

With your cannabinoids and terpenes locked in, the Flower Finder will then give you a list of strains you might like based on your inputs.

We encourage you to test out and explore the system!

After you try a strain, note how it makes you feel. You can do this by signing up for an account and leaving a review on Leafly, or by keeping a personal diary at home. Then use the Cannabis Guide to find the strain’s chemical makeup. Because a strain’s effects are related to its chemical profile, a strain with a similar chemical makeup is likely to provide similar feelings.

To find a similar strain or feeling, first look for a similar cannabinoid and cannabinoid level (shape and size), then look for similar terpenes (colors).

kosher-kush-forbidden-fruit-similar-cannabis-strains-leafly

Two similar strains in the Cannabis Guide. Although their secondary and tertiary terpenes are reversed, their dominant terpene is the same, so they will likely produce similar feelings and effects.

In the above graphic, the shapes differ slightly, meaning the amount of THC is a little different between the two. You’ll also notice that the secondary and tertiary terpenes have switched places.

Regardless of this, the two strains will still have a similar basic chemical profile, just slightly more of one terpene than the other, and they will likely lead to similar feelings and effects. So if you enjoy Kosher Kush, give Forbidden Fruit a try.

blueberry-cookies-golden-goat-dissimilar-cannabis-strains-leafly

Two different strains in the Cannabis Guide. Their primary and secondary terpenes are very different, and the strain on the right has a bit more THC; they will likely lead to different feelings and effects.

Conversely, if you experience a strain that you don’t like, you can look for a strain that has a completely different chemical makeup and go from there.

The graphic above shows two very different strains with different chemical profiles: The strain on the left has dark blue and green (myrcene and pinene), and the strain on the right has orange and fuchsia (terpinolene and caryophyllene). The left strain has lower amounts of THC (small diamonds); the strain on the right has higher levels of THC (long diamonds).

To find a different strain, ask yourself:

  • Do you want to get high? If so, look for diamonds (THC). If not, choose something with circles (CBD).
  • Was it too strong? If so, look for shorter diamonds, or a mixture of diamonds and circles, for a more balanced strain.
  • If it didn’t feel too strong but you just didn’t like the effects (e.g., too calming, too energizing, negative effects), try looking for completely different colors. For example, if the first strain had fuchsia and yellow, try something with dark blue and green, or vice versa.

Start looking for cannabis on Leafly

cannabinoidsLeaflyterpenes

Part one

Explore cannabis strains with a new perspective

 

Part two

Why has Leafly created a new visualization system for cannabis?

 

Read More

Why has Leafly created a new visualization system for cannabis?

For a how-to explainer on Leafly’s new Cannabis Guide, check out Part 1 of this series.


Jump to a section in Part 2:


Cannabis consumers are ultimately concerned with the effects of a strain–how it will make them feel after smoking or ingesting it. Leafly’s Cannabis Guide is a tool to help consumers answer that question for themselves.

“It’s really about helping cannabis consumers find the right strain and the right product as quickly and easily as possible,” says Nick Jikomes, Leafly’s Principal Research Scientist. “We want people to see the difference between products when a real difference exists. We want you to be able to see with your eyes what you can’t smell with your nose.”

Back when Leafly first started in 2010 and up until now, we have used a three-tile system, which classifies cannabis strains as indica (purple), sativa (red), or hybrid (green).

That static system wasn’t based on lab data from growers. The new Cannabis Guide is a dynamic system that uses a combination of lab-sourced data and hundreds of thousands of customer reviews from app and website users.

Leafly works with the best cannabis labs in the US and Canada and is constantly onboarding more lab partners for data; the more data samples of cannabis strains, the better.

For decades, cannabis has been classified as either an indica, sativa, or hybrid. These terms refer to the forms of cannabis with different physical features, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, with hybrid being a genetic cross of the two. Typically, sativas grow tall and thin, while indicas grow short and stout.

Because indicas and sativas can have specific physical traits, it has led to the assumption that each also has certain effects, but this is insufficient. Regardless of whether a strain is an indica or sativa, its chemical profile–that is, the cannabinoids and terpenes in it–will determine how it affects you, not its physical features.

Three sativas in the Cannabis Guide, all with very different cannabinoid and terpene profiles, meaning each will likely give different effects.

The above graphic shows a flaw of using the indica/sativa system. All three strains are commonly classified as sativas, yet they all have very different terpene profiles. Because a chemical profile leads to feelings and effects, even though all of these strains are sativas, they likely will not have the same feelings and effects.

Due to decades of cannabis prohibition, research on the plant is limited. One thing we do know, as shown in a 2017 study and a 2015 study, is that it’s difficult to find a true sativa or indica. Decades of crossbreeding and hybridization has made it so strains that are thought to be sativas can actually turn out to be indicas upon genetic analysis.

A 2010 review article by Dr. Ethan Russo, a pioneer in the study of the body’s endocannabinoid system, points to the importance of cannabinoids and terpenes and the benefits they can provide. Their importance comes from the entourage effect–how cannabinoids and terpenes work together and with other compounds in the body to unlock the wellness benefits of cannabis.

This theory describes how certain components of cannabis might work together to provide benefits, such as relief from pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, and much more.

For more information on the indica/sativa debate, the entourage effect, and the importance of cannabinoids and terpenes, check out our article Indica vs. sativa: What’s the difference between cannabis types?

The flowers you see in Leafly’s Cannabis Guide represent the average of all data from our lab partners. When you look at the Blue Dream flower or any other flower, its chemical profile is an aggregate of data samples from hundreds of growers.

Let’s say a grower produces a product that they market and sell as “Blue Dream,” but it doesn’t align with the average of Leafly’s data from our lab partners–is it really “Blue Dream?”

different-blue-dream-leafly-flower

Leafly’s Blue Dream (left) which is an average of thousands of data samples, and a strain marketed as “Blue Dream” (right). Is it really Blue Dream?

Above you’ll see the most common profile of Blue Dream on the left, which appears in Leafly’s Cannabis Guide. This is an average of all the data samples from Leafly’s lab partners.

The flower on the right is a version of Blue Dream that falls outside of the average of all the data; it’s an extreme outlier. Although it does contain myrcene (dark blue) and pinene (green), its dominant terpene is terpinolene (orange), which will likely produce different effects.

Although the strain on the right may be marketed as “Blue Dream,” it is probably not a true Blue Dream cultivar because its chemical profile doesn’t align with the average of data. Having this information will allow you to better tell if a product actually is what it says it is.

Now that you understand how to use Leafly’s Cannabis Guide and how cannabinoids and terpenes affect the experience of cannabis, you’ll be able to find a cannabis strain for your body and needs.

Remember that exploring strains that suit your unique body and needs is an important part of the process. Because all bodies and settings are different, the same strain can affect two people very differently, and it can also affect you very differently in two different circumstances.

The Cannabis Guide will give you a baseline so you can understand what’s in a strain. Depending on whether or not you like a strain, you can branch out and find another strain that’s similar, or you can try something different that might suit you better. You can sign up for an account and leave a review on Leafly to report how certain strains affect you and keep track of your favorites.

We encourage you to explore the Cannabis Guide. Learning the science behind cannabis and its effects will help you better understand and enjoy this wonderful plant!

Start looking for cannabis on Leafly

cannabinoidsLeaflyterpenes

Part one

Explore cannabis strains with a new perspective

 

Part two

Why has Leafly created a new visualization system for cannabis?

 

Read More

Two Weeks In, Louisiana’s Medical Marijuana Program Is Thriving

BATON ROUGE, LA — Two weeks after Louisiana patients began receiving medical cannabis, the program is humming along without supply disruption and with thousands of people receiving the drug for medical use, regulatory officials and the head of one growing operation said Monday.

Louisiana has 5,000 patients, two weeks after opening dispensaries.

John Davis, president of GB Sciences Louisiana, one of two state-sanctioned medical cannabis growers, said Louisiana has about 5,000 patients so far.

Louisiana became the first Deep South state to dispense medical marijuana on Aug. 6, four years after state lawmakers agreed to give patients access to medicinal-grade cannabis.

Nine medical marijuana pharmacies have been permitted to dispense the products, with the first cannabis available in a flavored liquid tincture, a bottle containing a dropper.

Overwhelming Feedback

“The feedback that we’re getting from patients is really overwhelming, with patients who were having epileptic seizures of 18 a day now down to two,” Davis told a panel of state regulators who meet regularly to update the public on the medical marijuana program.

Concerns that patients could face interruptions in supply since only one of the state’s two growers has a product in pharmacies haven’t panned out in the early days of the program.

“It appears the supply chain is working perfectly, or as well as it can be,” Davis said. “We’re able to satisfy the demands that are out there.”

Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, whose department oversees the medical marijuana program, urged: “We don’t want to run out” now that people are taking the drug to ease pain and other medical conditions.

Law Passed in 2015

Louisiana is one of 33 other states that allow medical marijuana in some form.

Under the 2015 law and additional changes passed since then, Louisiana is allowing medical marijuana to treat a long list of diseases and disorders, such as cancer, seizure disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease.

Only the agricultural centers at Louisiana State University and Southern University are authorized to grow medical marijuana. GB Sciences is LSU’s grower. Southern’s grower, Ilera Holistic Healthcare, estimates its first product could be available by fall at the earliest.

Marijuana can be available in oils, pills, liquids, topical applications and an inhaler, such as that used by asthma patients–but not in a smokeable form. GB Sciences currently offers only the liquid tinctures, in three different concentrations.

Strain said 4,700 doses of therapeutic cannabis were in the first batch of mint-flavored tinctures. The second batch contains 4,300 doses in cherry-flavored product, he said.

Davis has said he expects to have dissolving strips taken by mouth available soon, followed by topical creams.

Read More

Wasn’t the DEA Going to Let Others Grow Research-Grade Cannabis?

Arizona-based researcher Dr. Sue Sisley is spearheading an extraordinary lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), demanding that the agency stop dragging its feet on a years-old promise to end the federal government’s monopoly on growing cannabis for clinical research.

The DEA has two weeks to explain why it’s stalled these applications from expert growers.

Sisley is a medical doctor who recently made history with her federally-approved studies regarding the effects of cannabis on military veterans with PTSD. The results of those PTSD studies are expected to be released later this year.

Her next scheduled study will look at how late-stage cancer patients can perhaps use cannabis for pain relief.

With the help of two Texas attorneys who are working pro bono, Sisley’s Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) is calling on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to order the federal government to follow through on the DEA’s 2016 announcement in the Federal Register.

In that announcement, DEA officials said they would permit other facilities to grow and manufacture cannabis for clinical trials and research.

Applications Put on Ice

For more than 50 years now the federal government has relied on a farm at the University of Mississippi, via a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), to produce all the cannabis used in research projects across the nation.

But that government-grown cannabis has come under criticism in recent years, including from Sisley and her colleagues, for its poor quality and low potency. There are also concerns by Sisley and others that the phenotypes and cultivars produced by the University of Mississippi’s crop are deliberately unrepresentative of the cannabis consumed by adults and patients in legal states.

According to the petition to the court, SRI repeatedly contacted the DEA about growing its own cannabis, to “improve drug quality and give it tighter control over dosages.” DEA officials have yet to respond. “With new trials around the corner, SRI can wait no longer.”

“We simply want them to make good on this pledge to the public,” Sisley told Leafly. “They promised the U.S. citizenry that they would finally end this monopoly and license other growers for research. And they’ve not followed through on this pledge.”

Demanding an Explanation

DEA officials have declined to comment on the litigation. “We are still working through the process and those applications remain under review,” an agency spokesperson told the Associated Press last month.

The DEA ‘isn’t saying yes, and it isn’t saying no. Until they respond, there’s nothing to go to court with, nothing to appeal.’

Matt Zorn, attorney for Dr. Sue Sisley

Sisley wonders if this three-year-long delay might be due to something outside of the DEA’s control, and perhaps involve other federal agencies.

Matt Zorn, one of the attorneys at the Houston-based Yetter Coleman law firm working on the SRI lawsuit, declined to comment on that speculation. Instead, he’s focusing on the damage done by the government’s inaction.

“They’re not saying yes, they’re not saying no,” Zorn told Leafly. “Until the agency says something, there’s nothing to go to a court with, nothing to appeal. It’s stuck in purgatory. So what we’re trying to do is get the agency to explain why they’re not processing these applications. It’s gotten to the point where we think a court needs to step in and do something about it.”

Unleashing the Writ of Mandamus

Zorn and his colleague Shane Pennington are using an unusual procedure to get the legal wheels rolling in this case: a petition for a writ of mandamus.

“We’re asking one judicial branch of government to order a different branch of government to do something, and they don’t like doing that,” noted Zorn. “What we’re essentially arguing is that there’s agency action that by law was required to have been done. Not only hasn’t it been done, but it hasn’t been done and then some.”

Zorn added that there aren’t many times when a writ of mandamus gets granted by a court.

“It’s a very extraordinary remedy reserved for extraordinary circumstances,” he said, “but we carefully investigated the facts and thought there was substantial merit to this case.”

Unshackling Science

The DEA’s response to this lawsuit is due before the end of August.

For their part, Sisley and Zorn are optimistic their legal strategy will have results which, if SRI prevails, could set a legal precedent.

“It’s really about unshackling science,” Sisley said. “It’s been shackled by politics in the U.S. now for over 50 years, ever since this monopoly was granted to the University of Mississippi.”

“We’ve been trying to ignite a national conversation about this,” she continued, “and trying to persuade people to pressure the government to license other growers for (cannabis) research. I don’t want to be a farmer, but I want to do research. I know what it takes to have good compliance. We’re trying to open the door for all researchers.”

Dr. Sisley, said Zorn, did everything required of her by law, “and it’s still not working.”

In cases like these, in order for change to take place, he added, “you need to show someone followed the rules and did everything right, and it didn’t work out. And that’s what we got here. We got a person who tried to work within the system and encountered system failure, at least at this juncture.”

Read More

Is It Even Possible to Smoke $40,000 of Weed in a Month?

On a recent episode of his podcast, Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson, Mike Tyson told rapper Jim Jones that he consumes about $40,000 of cannabis per month at Tyson Ranch, his future cannabis “resort.” As Jim’s mind is blown by this number, Eben Brriton, Tyson’s co-host, follows this up by saying that they smoke 10 tons of weed per month.

We call bullshit. Let’s look at the numbers.

How Much Weed Does $40,000 Buy?

Let’s look at that figure of $40,000. I live in Washington, where eighths of That Fire cost about $45 on average. So by the numbers, that would be about almost 900 eighths per month (if you broke it down to the usual retail value of cannabis).

As a blunt/joint smoker, the eighths I buy tend to go quickly. An eighth is like 3 to 4 blunts. By my personal consumption, 900 eighths would add up to about 2,700 blunts per month, which would be 90 blunts per day, which would be about four blunts per hour. And that’s without ever stopping, for an entire month.

Mike Tyson, marijuana
(Leafly)

Even on the expensive side of things (looking at you, California), where eighths could run for the hellacious $70, that would still break down to about three blunts per hour, nonstop, for a whole 30 straight days.

Solo, that would be completely impossible. With a Tyson Ranch full of consumers, very possible; however, that smoke squad would have to literally sit there for an entire month and do nothing but face L’s all day and night. No food, no water, just doinks.

So either Mike is stretching the truth, or his team of weed-smoking superlungs are just reinforcing stoner boi stereotypes.

10 Tons of Weed in a Month

Now that we’ve established that $40,000 of cannabis in a month is technically possible, it’s time to address the most absurd claim of all:

“We smoke 10 tons of weed at the ranch a month.” – Eben Britton, former NFL player and Mike’s co-host.

FAM. NO.

Beau Kilmer, co-director of RAND Drug Policy Research Center, told Leafly that on average, the cannabis consumers who smoke at least 21 days per month smoke about 1.6 grams a day.

Ten tons of cannabis is 20,000 pounds, which equals 320,000 ounces, which equals a little over 9,000,000 grams per month.

You don’t have to be Ptolemy to see that this would be physically impossible. Even with 100,000 humans visiting the ranch per month, this would come out to 3 grams per person per day, which would be double the aforementioned average of consumption amongst people who smoke all the time. Not possible. And even if you look at it from a grams standpoint of “Yeah, you can smoke 3 grams in a day easily,” it would still be unlikely for Tyson Ranch to host 100,000 visitors per month.

So in the end, only one truth remains: men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.

Read More

How Does Your State Rate for Medical Marijuana in 2019?

Sorry, Texas.

The world’s leading medical cannabis patient advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), reports that residents of the Pacific island territory of Guam have better options to treat chronic pain and other ailments than their fellow Americans in Texas and the Southeast. That’s according to ASA’s 2019 State of the States Report, an annual evaluation published recently.

“No state has more quickly and effectively implemented a medical cannabis program than Oklahoma.”

David Mangone, Governmental Affairs Director, Americans for Safe Access

ASA aims the report at lawmakers each year, prodding them to make progress relative to their neighbors. Each US state and territory gets a grade, yielding an annual map of unequal protection for 126 million Americans with chronic pain, which is cannabis’ number one qualifying condition.

On the positive side, we’re seeing medical cannabis deployed against the opioid epidemic in Illinois (A-), New York (B-), and California (B+). Oklahoma, Ohio, and Florida all made heartening progress–two Bs and a C (up from Fs in 2015).

That contrasts with the frustrating stasis happening in Texas and throughout the Southeast–all of which got Fs. Guam got a C, by the way.

(Leafly)

New Points for Fighting Opioids

ASA’s point-based grading system gave out the organization’s first-ever A minuses to Oregon and Illinois this year. Opioid patients in Illinois can trade in their prescriptions and get a digital medical cannabis card–on the very same day.

“It immediately reduced the number of individuals who were turning to opioids after surgery or acute pain issues,” said David Mangone, director of government affairs at ASA. “They did not have to undergo a trial-and-error period with dangerous opioids and run the risk of addiction.”

Opioid deaths dropped 25% in US states with adequate medical cannabis access, numerous studies have confirmed.

“We certainly applaud Illinois for those efforts and hope they are modeled around the country,” Mangone said.

Looking for Legal Cannabis? Leafly Has All Your Local Menus

US Cannabis Cost Is Too Dang High

The 2019 report included first-ever points awarded for patient feedback. A 500-patient US survey revealed 88.5% of respondents believe that in some way their medical cannabis was not affordable.

“To have over 400 respondents in the survey say, ‘My program isn’t serving me well because medicine is so expensive,’ should be a red flag to state regulators and lawmakers,” Mangone said.

In California, for example, local cannabis bans and excise taxes still decrease affordability in both the medical and adult use market. “Even though this program exists, many people have to turn to the illicit market because of pricing and the incredibly high excise tax,” Mangone said. “It’s one of the chief concerns year after year.”

No health insurer in the United States covers medical cannabis, so patients must bear the entire cost of cannabis meds on their own.

And that’s strange, because 131 people die every day from opioid overdoses, among 70,237 annual prescription drug deaths in the United States in 2017. Cannabis has no risk of lethal overdose, and the National Academy of Sciences concluded in 2017 that medical marijuana worked for pain.

“Anything that reduces a tax burden or makes insurers more incentivized to cover medical cannabis is going to be tremendously helpful looking to 2020 and onward,” Mangone said.

Heartening Progress in Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma

Who knew we’d live to see the day where Ohio and Oklahoma got a B score in medical cannabis and Florida eked out a solid C–all part of a cannabinoid awakening in conservative states. ASA awards each state up to 400 total points based on patient rights, access levels, and consumer safety. Passing medical cannabis laws, implementing them, or fixing programs all boost scores.

“No state has more quickly and effectively implemented a medical cannabis program than Oklahoma,” said Mangone.

In Florida, court rulings enhanced dispensary access and product variety. Now patients can use smokable formulations of cannabis, and judges removed the licensure cap on dispensaries.

Frustrating Stasis in Texas, Southeast

ASA’s F scores track across regions noted for their above-average rates of mortality, obesity, and overdose deaths. Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana–all Fs. “These programs really inadequately serve large patient populations,” he said.

Texas legislators passed a small but critical improvement to the state’s medical cannabis program in late May, adding eight conditions that qualify patients for medical cannabis access. Prior to passing that law, intractable epilepsy was the only condition that qualified a patient for legal cannabis.

Texas’ Legislature meets just once every two years, removing the possibility of further reform at the state level until 2021. “Texas is incredibly frustrating,” said Mangone.

Again, that’s odd because medical cannabis is bipartisan–support polls at 93%. Even water doesn’t poll at 93%.

“I don’t think there’s a politician in the US in any district that polls the same way that medical cannabis does,” Mangone said.

Hopeful for Health Freedom

Mangone said he’s hopeful about the possibility of change in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, where lawmakers are planning to introduce medical cannabis bills in early 2020.

“We’re really interested in breaking this stronghold in the Southeast,” he said. “It is much less of a political risk to come out and support medical cannabis [than it used to be].”

ASA Medical Cannabis 2019 Factbox:

  • 47 states have some medical cannabis law
  • The three holdouts are Idaho, South Dakota, and Nebraska
  • 33 have some form of medical cannabis access
  • 14 are CBD-only states
  • 0 have an A+ score from ASA
  • There are an estimated 3 million medical cannabis patients in the US
  • There are 95 conditions for which medical cannabis can be useful
  • Top 3 medical cannabis uses are chronic pain, spasms, nausea
  • 126 million Americans live with chronic pain
  • There are 9,000 patient-years of clinical trial data on cannabis for pain
  • There are 30,000 studies on the endocannabinoid system
  • There are now 5 hours of AMA-accredited continuing medical education (CME) courses available to physicians via ASA

Read More

Opinion: It’s OK That Blue Dream Is Your Favorite Cannabis Strain

Let’s talk about our beloved Blue Dream for a quick second. On paper, Blue Dream is the single-most searched cannabis strain in all of the lands. It currently has over 12,000 reviews on Leafly, most of them “Exceptional,” resulting in a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

And yet, if you say Blue Dream is your favorite cannabis strain, the true stoner bois of the cannabis community look at you like you’re some kind of poser n00b. As if your lungs haven’t put in the time to justify such an opinion.

Enough is enough.

No more will we let people disrespect us for loving something that is great, something that has such an influence on cannabis culture, something that is arguably the best strain in all of the game.

It is completely OK that Blue Dream is your favorite strain, and if you run into someone that disagrees, this is what you tell the canna-snob that takes themselves so seriously they can’t enjoy that beautiful green-budded, orange-haired cross of Blueberry and Haze.

It Feels Fucking Great

For one, Blue Dream tastes and makes you feel fucking amazing. That sweet, sweet blueberry flavor with an almost citrus kickback delivers on the euphoric feeling that people associate most with being high.

True to its namesake, this strain really does feel like you’re getting lost in the happiest daydream possible. You get a full body relaxation and creative stimulation, and overall, your mind, body, and soul feel stupendous. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s not okay to feel stupendous.

The Availability Is Unmatched

Second of all, you can literally get Blue Dream at any time, in any place, so your favorite cannabis strain doesn’t have to be a local. Some cannabis consumers like to hop around and try every flavor or new batch of genetics, some like to find one favorite strain and smoke that endlessly.

Wiz Khalifa and Khalifa Kush–the only strain he smokes–is a perfect example of this. If that’s the case, wouldn’t you want to be able to get your needs wherever you go? Uh-huh.

It’s Perfect for Any Time of Day

You can smoke it any time of day and it’ll pair with whatever activity you want. Daytime? Fuck it. Roll up some Bluey, and then bam–15 minutes later you’re ready to run up a mountain barefoot. Nighttime? Roll up some Bluey and 15 minutes later you’re in a shark kigurumi watching the series finale of Euphoria. Straight cozy mode activated.

No matter when, that perfect balance of up and down effects produced by those sweet and sticky buds is the perfect treat.

Jhene Aiko Made A Whole Song About It

Lastly, and probably most importantly: JHENE AIKO MADE A WHOLE SONG ABOUT IT. And it’s a bop! Do you know how inspired by something you have to be to write a song about it? Bruh. Blue Dream had her feeling so good that she took time out of her busy schedule to write:

Don’t wake me up ’cause I’m in love with all that you are
You make me see the truth in things, I think that you are
The remedy for everything it seems that you are
The truth itself because nothing else can take me so far

Now go type “Granddaddy Purple” into Spotify and tell me what you find. Exactly. Nada damn thing.

So the next time someone gives you grief about Blue Dream being your favorite strain, just look them right in the face and say: Stop that.

Read More

Study: Colorado Teens Reduce Cannabis Smoking, Increase Edibles

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.

Read More

How Cannabis is Transforming Oklahoma

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.”

image

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.

Sooner Justice

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.


Read more about Will Foster’s story here.


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.

Read More