How to choose the right rolling papers for your skill level

Strains & products

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This article is brought to you by vapor.com, an online hub for rolling papers, smoking accessories, and more.


Rolling a joint is a mandatory skill for any cannabis connoisseur but choosing the right papers can really help elevate your skill level from competency to mastery.

Selecting the papers that are the best for you is completely up to preference and style. Do you want your rolling papers to be easy-to-use or are you willing to fiddle a little extra for the right smoke? Do you prefer a straight joint or a cone?

Whether you’re a brand-new smoker or an expert joint roller looking to upgrade from the usual gas-station papers, this mini-guide featuring popular kinds of papers should get you well on your way.

They’re all available on vapor.com so you can stay stocked up on a wide selection of joint papers, cones, and wraps for the perfect smoke every time.

(cendeced/AdobeStock)

As you decide which papers you want to use, you’ll want to consider things like how nimble your fingers are, how big of a joint you’ll want to roll, and how much ash you want to deal with. While joints that ash a lot are fine outdoors, many people try to keep it to a minimum when they smoke inside.

If you like smoking with others, be patient and learn the technique behind rolling a j before you dive into thinner, fancier papers. While they may love to spark up with you, they might still flame your poor rolling skills if you volunteer as roll-master.

Skill level: easy

Hemp is an easy choice for rolling a joint—you’re essentially covering your cannabis in more cannabis, although it’s gone through a few extra steps. Since they’re sturdy and easy to roll, hemp is a great choice if you’re venturing away from wood-pulp papers for the first time. Hemp papers have a mild flavor that doesn’t get in the way of the taste of your herb. There’s also an added bonus that the nerds amongst us might enjoy.

Hemp crops are space-efficient, fast-growing, and good for soil conditions, so they can be a more sustainable choice than standard papers.

A few examples of natural hemp rolling papers that you might enjoy include:

Vibes hemp rolling papers (red)

Rap and cannabis legend Berner—who you might know as the entrepreneur behind the Cookies brand—designed his line of rolling papers for a consistent experience in a variety of sizes.

RAW organic hemp rolling papers

This stalwart brand of vegan, eco-friendly rolling papers is a classic for a reason. While sustainably-harvested hemp is a nice bonus, they make for a great smoke, too. The papers are designed with cross-weaving and stop lines for slow, even burn.

OCB hemp rolling papers

These GMO-free papers are designed for sturdy cones and environmental friendliness. OCB uses 100% natural Arabic gum to provide a dependable seal, and all of its papers are organic, vegetarian and placed in recycled cardboard packaging.

Skill level: medium

(Courtesy of Vapor.com)

Rice papers are like selecting professional-mode for rolling because they are more delicate and thin. But once you get the hang of them, get ready for tidy, smooth-smoking joints.

Many people choose rice papers because they don’t outpace the burn of the herb, and the clean taste makes your cannabis flavor profile really pop. If you’re looking for a longer, quality session with your friends, rice papers are a great choice.

If you’re interested in trying rice rolling papers, vapor.com suggests:

Vibes rice rolling papers (blue)

Vibes’ rice rolling papers are around the same length and thickness as their hemp counterparts, but burn a little bit slower for longer sessions.

Skill level: expert

(Courtesy of Vapor.com)

Once you trust that you can manipulate thin papers, ultra-thins are your next challenge. Ultra-thin rolling papers can be made out of several materials, but the idea behind all of them is the same: minimize the amount of paper when you smoke.

Ultra-thins help limit combustion for cleaner hits, less coughing, and less ash. They can be a little harder to handle than papers with more density there’s slightly more risk for more tearing as you handle them, but with a little practice, you’ll be rolling joints that smoke like there’s no paper at all.

If you’re ready to take on your final form as a rolling champion, the following ultra-thin papers are a great start:

Vibes ultra-thin rolling papers (black)

These thin versions of the Vibes hemp papers are designed to pack in more herb and flavor.

Elements ultra-thin papers

Made from rice paper and designed for a smooth, ash-free burn, Elements Ultra-Thin Papers are practically invisible. Real rollers will appreciate the magnetic closure on the packaging, so you don’t lose a single one.

Now, you can keep calm and roll on, knowing exactly what to consider in order to choose the right rolling papers for you. Check out more smoking accessories at vapor.com.

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Seniors, it’s okay that you still love cannabis

When people think of cannabis consumers, the first image that usually comes to mind is someone in their early 20’s—that fun time in life. But today’s older adults are the people who created the foundational cannabis subculture for the industry that exists today. And some of them never stopped toking! (Why should only one part of life be the fun time?) Others put it aside while raising children, then returned once their responsibilities let up. And still others know it as a wonderful remedy for their many ailments.

We caught up with some of our elder cannabis fans, getting their perspective on matters of today, and some great tidbits from times past. Read on to find out (or remember) what a ‘lid’ is, munchie memories of the ‘60s, and lots more.

seniors enjoying cannabis, older adults consuming marijuana

(Courtesy of Paula Janowiec and Ken Hale)

Paula and Ken are a married couple residing in Oregon, living in a picturesque country home with several towering cannabis plants growing in the yard. Ken reports that he’s been using cannabis for 50 years, mostly recreationally, but currently uses a CBD balm on his knees and back, as well as edibles for sleep.

However, Ken says that he also has a great time with it. “Cannabis lets you notice one form of sensory input and really let it all in. It makes me feel more comfortable in my own skin. Like I can’t dance, but when I smoke marijuana it makes me feel like I can—and I almost can!”

Paula’s mostly uses cannabis socially, saying, “When we have friends over I just have one hit on the pipe and I feel like I had three cocktails—we laugh and laugh, and it’s so much healthier!” They like using a pipe when friends come over, and often when they’re hanging out at home together in the evenings.

Since they grow their own cannabis, they’ve also got plenty to share. Ken makes a lot of CBD cookies for medical needs of loved ones; a friend of theirs actually used them to get off of opiates, now able to sleep through the night with only a cookie for aid.

Though they’re happy with the current state of canna-affairs, they are shocked at the prices of cannabis these days. Ken remembers that he bought a lid, which was slang for about an ounce of cannabis, for $10. He says, “People now call it the ‘good old days’ because of that, but they weren’t the good old days—it was illegal! We were always worried, and now you drive down the road and there’s signs—‘NEED WEED?’—I’d have thought that was heaven back then!”

seniors enjoying cannabis, older adults consuming marijuana

(Courtesy of Paula Janowiec and Ken Hale)

Ken started smoking in college, during the ’60s, sharing that people mostly carried joints at the time, but sometimes at parties someone would bring out a bong. Though Paula and cannabis didn’t hang while her kids were still growing up (picking it up again when she met Ken), she was introduced to cannabis while she was in college, in 1966. She told us that it was usually 8-10 people sitting around listening to all the great music from the 60’s, just talking and laughing.

When asked for their favorite munchies of yore, the two were quick and decisive in answering. Paula’s was rather inventive: a can of Spanish rice and a can of refried beans, served on a tortilla (warmed directly on the stove burner). And Ken’s: “Jack in the Box’s hot apple turnover, vanilla milkshake, combined!” He shared that once the guy at the Box asked if they had the munchies and they responded, “If it weren’t for munchies, you wouldn’t be in business!”

Though Paula’s kids didn’t know her as a cannabis fan growing up, legality and adulthood have made it a family affair. The first time they all did it, they’d gotten together for dinner and Ken said, “Want to smoke a joint before dinner?” And one of the adult children replied, “This is just too weird.” But they did it nonetheless—and it was a great experience.

They say now it’s pretty normal, passing a pipe around while hanging out playing games or vaping at Christmas.

Carol is another person who blends medical and recreational cannabis use, but she says these days it’s mostly medical. Between a bad back, symptoms from surgery, a couple of collapsed discs, a hurt rib, arthritis, and more—cannabis has got its hands full.

“I’m stable, and part of it is because four years ago I was able to get my medical card and become legal,” Carol said. “It helps everything, including the depression. But mostly what it does is helps me by giving me something I can concentrate on so that I forget about the pain.”

She started enjoying cannabis in 1961 while living in New York. She had an easy connection to get cannabis until she left the city in 1981, but since she was in nearby New Jersey, she’d just take a quick trip into the city to get what she needed.

That stopped around the turn of the century, leaving her with only sporadic cannabis connections—but her passion for poker saved the day. After she joined a game with some young people—“poker kids,” as she fondly calls them—she “found a source for some supply.” Then, four years ago, legal medical cannabis really started hooking her up.

Carol recalls the first time that she tried medical cannabis. “It was so intense. The first day I came home and smoked on my porch legally, the first thing I did was to go inside and write a letter to the dispensary asking if they had a position in the garden.”

She says she was blown away that there are people fighting for legal cannabis. “This magnificent movement around the country to make nature’s miracle pain medicine available…I never thought I’d live to see it happen. It is just wonderful.”

And she wound up becoming one of those people fighting for legal cannabis. After discovering that she went to high school with one of the organizers, she joined the New Jersey cannabis community last November. She went to a social event with the group and it was the first time in 20 years she had smoked with people who were used to smoking.

“For the first time, I was in the company of people who were not only using marijuana medically, but were fighting actively for homegrown and other aspects of legalization that should be the right of everyone, and isn’t.”

They gave her her very first dab, and she proved to be a champion. “I took an enormous inhalation and everybody was astonished and labeled me ‘Sturmella Iron Lung’ on the spot,” Carol said. (‘Sturmella’ is a nickname that comes from her maiden name, ‘Sturm.’)

Though friends her age are generally tolerant of her use, she doesn’t yet get to share her love of cannabis with many of her peers. “Younger people always think I’m cool because I’m very forthright. The older people…I don’t know.”

She told us that her friend was dying of Parkinson’s disease, and she wanted to help her with cannabis, but her husband refused to consider it because he saw Reefer Madness when he was young, and now nothing’s going to change his mind. “That is the danger of misinformation of that kind,” she told us wistfully.

“I love, love, love the people I’ve been meeting through [cannabis],” she told us before emphasizing how much Marijuana Mommy (Jessie Gill) has helped. Together they got Carol off of painkillers by using specific strains for specific problems.

Without the drug-induced lethargy, she’s been able to get moving again. “It’s gotten me up and out of bed and it’s got me doing things again; it’s gotten off the weight I put on from sitting around doing nothing—and I’m not going back.”

She’s lost 55 pounds since cannabis helped her quit the sedentary life four years ago, telling us that she has a normal BMA “for the first time this century.”

But there are also definite elements of “recreational” use at play, she shared with happiness in her voice. “[Cannabis] heightens music, and it makes me feel good. It makes me feel alive,and it makes me want to get up and out of bed. And at this point that’s what I need.”

Kate (who preferred not to give her last name) started smoking in the 1970s and hasn’t stopped since. She says she used to smoke sticks ‘n stems before she moved to NYC in 1976 and discovered sensimilla, and it was a whole new experience. Kate still spends most of her time in New York, where cannabis is only legal for medical use, so continually getting high-quality cannabis can be an issue.

Luckily, she met that hero of a dealer who introduced her to sensi; and when he left town he passed her onto another. The next dealer did the same. And the next. And now, nearly 44 years after arriving in NYC, she shares that this chain remains unbroken, even though her last connection died of cancer.

“On our last phone call, he said, ‘And don’t forget, you can always see PJ’. Here’s this guy, dying of cancer, and he’s worried about me and my pot connection!” Kate said.

Kate says she’s not too worried about getting caught. “You walk in Manhattan and you smell weed all the time. It’s not enforced, and, if anything, you get a ticket. Or, I should say, it’s not enforced if you’re a white person, to be honest with you,” she shared, with irritation in her voice. “Whenever I read about people getting busted for marijuana smoking, it’s disproportionately people of color. I’m white and I’m old—so I’m not going to get busted.”

When asked what she likes about cannabis, she replied, “I like the high. And it’s different from drinking. I can’t say that I’ve ever gotten so stoned that I fell down, which happened to me drinking in the past.” She enjoys cannabis a few times a week, loving the ritual of rolling up a joint, the puffing, and how it looks sitting smoking in the ashtray.

Kate also lives in a building where she’s not worried about anyone complaining about the smell associated with her hobby, as she resides in an artist’s community. In fact, many of her neighbors smoke, too. Since most of the tenants move in, love it, and never leave, she says it’s become a “naturally occurring retirement community.” She enjoys having neighbors who are like-minded peers, sharing that she enjoys smoking with a couple different neighbors her age, as well as flying solo.

All-in-all, cannabis life for Kate hasn’t changed all that much since the 70’s, though she does enjoy a vape pen when she goes to the Jersey Shore, where the houses are close together and the smell of a joint is too conspicuous. She also reminisced about one stoney pastime from back in the day, one that we’d have loved, too: ironic showings of the 1936 anti-cannabis propaganda film, Reefer Madness, which played at midnight.

“We were probably stoned out of our minds, but we thought it was hilarious.”

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What does cannabis look like? A visual guide to cannabis quantities

A gram, an eighth, an ounce–what does it all mean? We’ve all been there at one point. Attempting to make sense of the names associated with different cannabis quantities can be challenging. Central to the confusion is conceptualization of weight, which depends on both product size and density.

If you are new to cannabis, we hope this video and visual guide will provide you with a general framework to wrap your head around the common sale quantities for flower. Keep in mind that these depictions are approximations, given that density varies (at times drastically) between products. In other words, a dense cannabis flower can look a lot smaller than a fluffy bud and still carry the same weight.

Thankfully, cannabis shops and producers use digital scales to determine the exact weight of your weed before it is packaged. And, if you wish to weigh the weed from your own garden or verify your purchased products, digital scales can easily be found for purchase. Remember that moisture is part of the weight. Cannabis flower will lose weight as it ages and dries out.

Cannabis quantity range by weight, from one gram to an eighth-ounce, quarter-ounce, half-ounce, and ounce. There's also a comparison of a half-gram and full-gram pre-rolled joints.

Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

For reference, here is a quick conversion guide from ounces of weed into grams.

  • Eighth (1/8) ounce = 3.5 grams
  • Quarter (1/4) ounce = 7 grams
  • Half (1/2) ounce = 14 grams
  • Full (1) ounce = 28 grams

The price of flower varies depending on the quality of the product and the market in which it is sold. You can expect to pay between $4 and $20 for a gram of flower—sometimes getting a price break when you purchase larger quantities.

This post was originally published on November 18, 2014. It was most recently updated on February 6, 2020.

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Why isn’t the endocannabinoid system taught in medical schools?

I am currently dependent on medical cannabis, and despite loving the plant, I’m kinda bitter about this fact. And it’s not the usual lamenting of “Why me?” that so often goes with illness; it’s because the medical professionals I encounter have little to offer about the origin and treatment of my disease, fibromyalgia. A major reason that they’re at a loss with it—and so many chronic illnesses like it—is because it may be sourced in the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

As a Leafly reader, you might already know that the ECS is a bodily system made of receptors located throughout the body and that it works with all other systems to maintain homeostasis, or optimal functionality.

But did you know that this vital system isn’t covered in medical school despite the fact that studies worldwide have been articulating its prowess since 1992?

And do you know what their primary reason is? Because they say they “don’t have time to teach it.” That’s right—med schools are apparently no longer open to integrating new science into their curriculums. We reached out to many medical schools for comment, but repeated emails went without response.

According to Dr. Ethan Russo, board-certified neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, the common response is that they’d have to remove something else from the curriculum to make room for it.

According to Dr. Russo, “The medical curriculum is just jam-packed. I went to med school back in the ‘70s, and even at that point there was just no slack in the schedule. What one has to cram into particularly the first couple years of basic science, is rather astounding. And now there’s been an additional 40 years of scientific discovery that also has to be incorporated. Administrators are always going to be defensive about that. The typical response is, ‘What will we eliminate?’ However, that ignores the scientific importance of this system and its fundamental role in regulating physiology in every aspect.”

One would hope that the response to realizing there is a vital bodily system missing from medical school curriculum would be something thoughtful, like, “This system works with all of the other bodily systems and is essential to maintaining health in the body—maybe it’s time to reassess and reorganize.”

But, alas, the party-line solution is actually to just not teach another piece of medicine, which would remove it from practice. It’s as if medicine goes into a tool belt, and rather than reconfiguring a more suitable tool belt when full—they’d instead just toss aside an irreplaceable tool.

Dr. Russo says that the idea of not educating doctors on the ECS is incomprehensible because it is fundamental to how our bodies work.“A prime example is that there are more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than there are for all of the neurotransmitters put together,” he said.

As you’ve probably ascertained, this is a fact with significant implications. He continues, “One could easily argue that you can’t understand how neurotransmitters in the brain work without knowledge of the ECS.” Additionally, he confirmed this could also imply that there are more opportunities for cannabis to work with the body than pharmaceuticals.

The ECS is also responsible for maintaining the homeostasis of all of the other bodily systems—which is a fancy way of saying that it keeps balance in the other systems, ensuring that they are functioning optimally. It’s also often described simply as the way the brain communicates with the body. Or, as Russo put it in our interview, “Everything in the body is connected, and this is the glue.”

Because the ECS appears to regulate actually recognized bodily systems, many things go awry when it doesn’t function correctly. Endocannabinoids have been observed to directly and indirectly influence a variety of physiological systems that control appetite, pain, inflammation, thermoregulation, intraocular pressure, sensation, muscle control, energy balance, metabolism, sleep health, stress responses, motivation/reward, mood, and memory.

These functions are not minor details—if you were to lose even a single one of these abilities, it could significantly alter your daily life. Chronic illnesses, which last three months or longer and are generally considered “incurable,” affect 40% of Americans. Why is it that so many of our bodies are afflicted with conditions that modern medicine cannot do anything to absolve?

Could it be that we’re missing a crucial piece of the puzzle? Surely, there must be something else going on.

When asked why the ECS isn’t being taught in medical schools, another common response was that there are presently very few medications that interact with it—but how will there ever be if the medical community doesn’t even regard it in the first place? And why does it matter, anyways—do doctors only need to know about bodily systems that can be treated via the pharmaceutical industry? (And even the answer there is a plutocratic ‘yes,’ then do the available synthetic cannabinoids not count?)

These are apparently not questions that are often discussed in the medical community. The basic consensus seems to be that though medical students ought to be taught about all illnesses—not just those that there are presently pharmaceuticals for—that’s simply not how it works.

Another factor is, of course, the federally-illegal status of the plant that works so adeptly with the ECS; still holding its ancient and never-been-true title of ”Schedule I–Drug with no currently accepted medical use.” But since the ECS generally functions without the help of cannabis (thanks to our naturally occurring endogenous cannabinoids), one wonders why this is show-stoppingly relevant—again, shouldn’t doctors need to know about bodily systems that don’t already have viable medications? Isn’t that all the more reason they should be trained in what we do know about the ECS, so they may help patients keep the vulnerable system unharmed?

This next revelation will not surprise you: According to Russo, stigma around cannabis and a lack of funding as a result also appear to play a role in this reckless and willful knowledge gap, “One has to imagine that a prejudice against cannabis, fear of cannabis, and lack of funding is spilling over into a pejorative effect on education about the endocannabinoid system.”

Even though Russo says that grad students rarely want him as a mentor, some colleges are hedging their bets that tomorrow’s generation will have a different take. The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is one such school, now offering a Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics. Leafly talked with Andrew Coop, PhD, their Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, who seems hopeful that logical changes in this area are on the way.

“The reason we started the program was because so few programs focus on the health benefits of marijuana,” Coop said, “the pluses, the minuses, the strengths, where further research needs to go, where the indications have good strong evidence, where there is no strong evidence. We are teaching 150 students at the master’s level to understand all aspects—but also to be able to critically assess what the current state of the art says and doesn’t say, and what further studies need to be formed so that we can move forward in a systematic manner.”

Their twelve courses cover a comprehensive range of topics, from an introduction to the history and culture of cannabis, to the highly technical “Genomics and Pharmacognosy,” to “Expert Seminars and Case Studies” where students identify knowledge gaps in the science and design an educational intervention.

Coop is looking forward to more sweeping changes in policy and legislation. “To me, the bottom line is that we need change at the federal level, such as the MORE Act, before we’ll see more med schools include it in their curriculum,” he said. “Once we get things such as the decriminalization of marjiuana, I predict more schools will include it. There is a want and a need for education in all aspects of marijuana.”

Until that day, those of us with diseases suspected to be sourced in ECS malfunction must wait. One day, researchers like Dr. Russo will have the resources to provide necessities like a diagnostic test for fibromyalgia, something he’s waiting on funding to get rolling on—a development that could change the lives of millions.

As Dr. Russo told us, “This failure to address ECS education appropriately is in unforgivable breach of scientific trust and a major disservice to the public health.”

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Illinois pardons 11,000 cannabis convictions on eve of legalization

Politics

January 1, 2020

Illinois adult-use cannabis legalization, expungement for Illinois cannabis crimesCook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx looks on as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a press conference in Chicago after Foxx filed motions to vacate more than 1,000 low-level cannabis convictions, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Just one day before Illinois legalized cannabis for adult recreational use, Governor JB Pritzker granted pardons to more than 11,000 individuals with convictions for misdemeanor cannabis offenses.

“We are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis,” Pritzker said in a statement. “We are restoring rights to many tens of thousands of Illinoisans. We are bringing regulation and safety to a previously unsafe and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry that puts equity at its very core.”

Announced on New Year’s Eve at a church on Chicago’s South Side, it’s expected that these pardons will be just the first round of their kind. Ultimately, officials estimate that more than 116,000 individuals will be eligible to have convictions for low-level cannabis offenses expunged from their records.

Expungements for previous cannabis convictions were a key part of the bill that legalized cannabis for adult use in Illinois as of January 1, 2020, representing part of the state’s efforts to recognize and mitigate the harm done during prohibition, especially in minority communities.

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What is the Veterans Cannabis Project?

Strains & products

(Courtesy of Curaleaf)

This article is presented by Curaleaf, partnering with the Veterans Cannabis Project to advocate for improved access to medical cannabis for veterans.


The service and commitment demonstrated by United States military veterans stir many Americans to their core. At the intersection of veterans and medical cannabis is the Veterans Cannabis Project – where Executive Director Doug Distaso works towards full legal cannabis access because he knows exactly what other vets are going through.

“I was in a pretty bad spot after I left the Air Force. I was taking the standard combat cocktail of benzos, opioids, and mood enhancers, and got my wake-up call one Christmas morning. I was following my doctor’s orders but couldn’t be fully present with my family on all those pills and had fallen asleep in the middle of opening gifts. My wife shook me awake, and that was when it clicked for me that something had to change. Days like Christmas are important to my life as a father and husband, and they are the entire reason why veterans sacrifice in the first place.”

(Courtesy of Curaleaf)

The Veterans Cannabis Project thinks the sacrifices that the military veterans make are the reason they deserve access to the same solutions that have helped countless others and Doug leads the charge.

“At this moment, data suggests that 22 veterans a day commit suicide and that at least 1 in 5 are returning from places like Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD. Those are alarming problems,” Doug says.

His personal experience gives him the ability to connect and empathize with other veterans, and it’s the clear focus of everything that happens at the VCP. With members of the organization on the ground all over the United States, the organization uses three pillars to spread its essential message: advocacy, education, and support.

“We believe that we need to get full legal access to cannabis for veterans, and we use advocacy, education, and support to achieve our goals. We demonstrate our advocacy every day on the Hill, trying to create a community of advocates with personal stories that can be shared with legislators. We fight to get laws changed because we know the discrepancy between state and federal law is what is anchoring many of our problems.”

(Courtesy of Curaleaf)

“Education is equally important to our advocacy efforts. We look to countries like Canada that have started introducing cannabis to veterans, teaching them about it, testing its efficacy – and we mimic their education efforts. We also look for ways to get the correct research and information to veterans that want to begin a cannabis journey or addressing their doubts about using medical cannabis.”

Doug thinks that support is the most important part of all. The Veterans Cannabis Project has local advocates (referred to as VCP Force Commanders) who work within their communities to help other vets that are struggling, undereducated about cannabis, or confused about the particulars of medical cannabis programs, including details about how the Department of Veterans Affairs views cannabis use.

“In the military, we say that you have to win the current fight, and the current fight is full legal access that includes comprehensive support from the VA. Veterans rely so profoundly on the VA due to the types of injuries sustained, the lack of income we bring in when we get home, and the treatment level we need to heal, so we need them on board and at our side, not working against us.”

Though getting the support of the VA is a massive part of the fight, it isn’t the only thing that vets worry about when they consider using cannabis to combat the symptoms that impact them most. As they take care of their physical and mental health, many also have to navigate the post-military workforce.

“Maintaining security clearance is a big topic in the veteran community, which is made up of a lot of rule-following, law-abiding people. Their clearance is a symbol of their hard work, and sometimes all they have after leaving active duty. Interacting with cannabis, a Schedule 1 drug, can put their security clearance at risk, so it’s not realistic for them,” Doug says. “As long as there is threat and stigma from the drug schedule, veterans are going to be wary of cannabis, even if it is to their detriment.”

(Courtesy of Curaleaf)

Amongst other things, vets worry about their second amendment rights, making adequate money to live a full and happy life, and staying balanced throughout the day. Eventually, the choice became a no-brainer for Doug.

“Personally, a security clearance does me no good if I’m not awake, aware, and alive enough to have a life. I always upheld my end of the bargain with my clearance, but it did lead me to choose to have this life outside of working for the government,” he says. “The reality is, I struggle to see the point of penalizing people who seek out cannabis when alcohol and pills have the same, if not greater, detrimental effects. Under current federal law, cannabis use voids your second amendment rights and security clearance, and the VCP wants legislators to rectify these things so that all veterans can have a better quality of life and do the work they have the skills and training to complete.”

The Veterans Cannabis Project’s efforts on the ground have already started to expand to meet the unique needs of veterans. Along with local team members that they have on the ground to meet with doctors and canna-curious vets, they’ve also started recruiting for an art program created to help veterans express themselves and their feelings.

(Courtesy of Curaleaf)

“I almost didn’t know I was allowed to paint. I think that’s the case with a lot of veterans. We don’t know what we are allowed to do. I joined the Air Force Academy at 17 years old. Twenty-five years later, I’m 42 and realize that I’ve missed out on a lot. I hadn’t done a lot of the things that many other people had done. I had never picked up a paintbrush until a year ago or so, but I found that it gave me such a sense of calm.”

Doug believes that any treatment veterans receive should be backed up with outreach so that they never feel alone. After all, the whole point of the Veterans Cannabis Project is to bring help and support to like-minded vets in every aspect of their post-military service.

(Courtesy of Curaleaf)

Curaleaf supports nationwide visibility of the Veterans Cannabis Project by offering VCP branded pre-roll 5-packs in six of the states where they have dispensaries, with more launches planned in the next few months. One dollar from every box sold goes directly to the VCP to support their advocacy for improved access to medical marijuana for veterans.

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How Vietnam veterans expanded America’s cannabis strains

Politics

November 8, 2019

(AP)

Veterans in the U.S. and Canada are becoming increasingly open to trying cannabis when first-line drugs aren’t working. But their governments aren’t making it easy.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs still refuses to prescribe it, even though many veterans report finding relief from chronic pain and PTSD by using medical cannabis. In Canada, the federal government continues to move the goalposts for veteran access to medical cannabis–most recently reducing the amount of cannabis that Veterans Affairs Canada will help subsidize.

One of the many ironies inherent in this situation: Today’s plethora of cannabis strains, legal cannabis industry, and the tax dollars they generate, were created in part by veterans of past generations.

The most influential generation of veterans may be those who served in the Vietnam War. Soldiers not only used locally-grown cannabis to cope with the stresses of war while in country; they also brought seeds home to North America, where they would become the progenitors of some of today’s most popular strains.

During the Vietnam War about two-thirds of American troops volunteered for service. The rest were drafted. At 18, Bob Luciano entered his local draft office in The Bronx, and at 19 he found himself in Vietnam serving the first of two tours of duty. “That’s where I found out that cannabis is better than drugs,” Luciano, now 69, told Leafly in a recent interview.

The possession, sale and use of cannabis wasn’t legal in Vietnam. But that didn’t stop American troops from developing a taste for southeast Asia’s indigenous varieties.

Bob Luciano recalled the tenor of the times. “In the naval base, when I went to Vietnam, we started smoking weed–pot, at that time we smoked pot,” he said. “The reality was that it was able to prepare us for battle and all the unknown things. We were 18 and 19-year-old kids. The things that you’d see, you’ve never even seen before. It wasn’t like watching the news.”

Veterans often face one or many of several conditions that persist well after they have served. Chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are two of the most common. Typically, when a veteran displays signs of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and pain, government doctors put them on a combination of prescription medicines that some veterans ruefully call a combat cocktail.

“Pot, or weed, or cannabis, we found out, enables you to go through what you were going to go through,” said Luciano. It also, he said, helps veterans survive the aftermath of war: “It enables you to deal with what has happened.”

Prescription drugs provided by veteran health care providers, Luciano said, tend to dull the senses for a short period of time–but the mental trauma and pain would only return, amplified, later on.

“Beyond the horrors of Vietnam, I learned a lot of medicinal benefits of cannabis” during his two tours, said Luciano. “It enabled you to go into battle, complete your mission, talk about it, and then go back in to complete another mission.”

When he could, he found some escape. “During battle, we watched what [farmers] did with the soil because we just wanted an escape. You’d smoke weed, and you’d watch the monkeys play in the trees, and watch the farmers grow.”

While others around him drank or used heroin to dull the sensations of war, he was discovering the soothing effects of the local cannabis crop. “Even God and religion wasn’t enough,” Luciano said. “I could never understand why they were allowing me to kill people.”

Between 1961 and 1975, the ongoing war claimed the lives of an estimated 10 percent of the population of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. In the same period, 56,869 American troops were killed. 153,329 were seriously wounded, and three million soldiers continue to experience long-term psychological damage, the social effects of which are still unravelling.

“Because of the huge trauma they’ve gone through, it’s something unique; it’s almost like the PTSD brain is different because of what they’ve been exposed to,” explained Dr. Mandeep Singh. A psychiatrist with Apollo Applied Research and the Be Well Health Clinic in Toronto, Singh specializes in post traumatic stress. “Because of that, [the brain] actually reacts to both cannabis and traditional medications differently” from a brain that hasn’t experienced similar trauma.

Singh trained in the United States, but when he started practicing in Canada he noticed that many veterans were enduring rounds of medications that negatively affected their quality of life, or just didn’t work.

With PTSD, he explained, “it’s not just the brain that’s affected.” The rest of the body remains on high fight-of-flight alert. These patients “have high cortisol levels,” Singh said, “and their whole body is out of balance.”

In the course of his work with veterans, Singh has observed that most civilian patients will use one or two grams of cannabis per day, while a typical veteran will need up to ten.

“Ten grams: You’re talking about almost twenty joints worth a day,” said Singh. “But they’re functioning well. They’re not looking euphoric, or high, or out of it. I think that’s something to do with the PTSD brain being different in how it reacts to CBD and THC and so forth.”

In 2016, Veterans Affairs Canada reduced the amount of cannabis per day that it pledged to reimburse for veterans whose healthcare providers recommend the medicine. The government agency previously allowed up to ten grams of dried cannabis, or its equivalent in fresh marijuana or cannabis oil, per day. After 2016, that allowance topped out at just three grams.

Meanwhile, in the US, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs still won’t allow VA doctors to recommend cannabis to the nation’s military veterans. Up until a few years ago, VA doctors weren’t even allowed to discuss it with their patients. That’s a hard policy to square with many veterans who’ve seen the help cannabis can offer.

“Weed was like the healing of everything,” Bob Luciano told Leafly. “The war happened in the sixties, we weren’t even over segregation yet, we weren’t over equal rights. We had a lot of issues that were happening, like the demonstrations with the burning of the bras. It was a lot of different influences that were in Vietnam, sharing the same gulch or bunker, and whether you like the next person or not, it unified you. It allowed you to discuss why things were changing. It stopped the war, man. Pot stopped the war.”

American soldiers were so moved by Vietnam’s potent sativa that some of them returned home with pockets full of seeds. Today’s “thank you for your service” culture didn’t exist back then. In fact, many soldiers received cold welcomes. Instead of returning to the US, Luciano took his seeds and headed for Jamaica. For five years he honed his skills as a cannabis grower, operated an organic restaurant with his wife, and developed his Mr. Natural brand of cannabis products, from dry flower to salves.

His years in Jamaica allowed Luciano to experiment with cross-breeding, and learn how environmental factors like air quality and soil affected the plant. Local growers turned him on to the mighty cultivation powers of nutrient-rich Jamaican bat guano.

“I knew Columbian Gold at that time period used to make you very relaxed, and a Kush strain that we had developed in California generated more energy and made you forget what you were thinking of; it made you happy when you were negative,” Luciano recalled, telling the origin story of his Cali Gold variety.

Learning as he went, but always adhering to organic growing practices, Luciano began creating genetic variations that made the most sense for veterans like himself–strains that calm the mind, ease physical pain and stimulated the appetite.

Today, Luciano medicates daily for chronic pain and PTSD. He reaches out to other veterans, helping them navigate the byzantine ways of the VA so that their cannabis use doesn’t negatively impact their treatment. In the past, testing positive for THC would have automatically ended a VA patient’s ability to receive pain medication prescriptions, but that’s no longer the case.

Because of a change in VA policy, American veterans are no longer denied benefits if they are found to be consuming cannabis. VA medical officials now advise patients to disclose their cannabis use, as it may affect the course of action taken by doctors.

Still, some veterans choose not to reveal details of cannabis use to their physicians. Luciano had the VA note his cannabis use on his medical records ten years ago, and he encourages others to do the same. His message is simple: “Notify the VA that you’re getting more medicinal benefits from it,” he said, to force the agency to recognize the value of cannabis and change its policy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via Justice Quarterly.

Via Justice Quarterly.

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

Via Justice Quarterly.

Via Justice Quarterly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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?

 

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