Tag Archives: cannabis

FDA gives Approval to CBD based Epidiolex Drug

The drug that was given approval this week, is a liquid medicine treatment derived from CBD-dominant strains that have been cultivated by GW Pharmaceuticals.  There have been sufficient clinical trials to prove that it significantly reduces the number of seizures suffered by epileptic patients.  Nothing related to the cannabis plant has ever come close to approval from an entity as important as the FDA.  The closest thing to marijuana that has been approved by the FDA is a synthetic version of THC called dronabinol.  It is a man-made version of tetrahydrocannabinol and is not derived from any natural plants.  Its prescribed to cancer patients suffering from nausea as a result of chemotherapy.  This ruling is a much larger step in the right direction because in order for it to be marketed to patients with Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, it must be rescheduled by the DEA.  CBD still currently holds a schedule 1 status preventing it from being prescribed to patients.  The Drug Enforcement Agency is expected to do so within 90 days due to the scientific confirmation of its effectiveness through numerous trials.

I believe this is going to start a wave of cannabis-based medicines being introduced into the pharmaceutical environment.  People are going to see the acceptance of Epidiolex as an open door to try and treat other ailments using derivatives from the plant.  The Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies can not make money off something that can be grown from a seed so none of these medicines will be cannabis in its natural form.  In the case of epileptic patients, especially children, smoking the buds from plants is not a viable option.  Children suffering from these awful diseases will no longer have to fear criminal punishment on top of trying to just live a somewhat functional life.  Patients suffering from Dravet Syndrome have an average life expectancy of 8 years (National Institute of Health).

The other disease that this drug can soon be prescribed for is Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.  According to the LGS Foundation, one clinical trial at New York University showed a 47% of patients showed a 50% reduction in seizures after 3 months of treatment.  It’s also important to mention that 9% of these people were actually seizure free at that time frame.  This is just incredible that it is actually eliminating seizures altogether for certain patients.  Results like these are backed up by many other studies that show even higher numbers of participants seeing a large reduction in the number of their seizures. The DEA should see rescheduling CBD as a number one priority for these children.  With limited years to live and any seizure having the potential to be their last, officials need to act fast to provide a reliable source of the medication.  It will be treated like any other prescribed drug and can be picked up from local pharmacies, not compassion centers or dispensaries.

Traditional medical marijuana dispensaries offer a variety of extracts that could work well with seizures as well.  The only difference is they have not been given the attention from government officials that Epidiolex received likely due to its non-psychoactive properties and its easy to use liquid consistency.  Patients will be able to ingest the medicine by the use of a dropper for precise dosing.  This can be done anywhere without drawing any attention that smoking marijuana brings.  It’s also possible that there will be additional medical uses approved by the FDA for this exact same drug with no chemical changes being made.  Its unique features give it a higher potential of being approved than other new and existing marijuana medicines that may be tested by the FDA.

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Legalization’s Impact on the Value of Cannabis

The monetary value of cannabis is obviously going to depend on the location at which it is produced and subsequently sold.  Ten years ago the price of cannabis was still location dependent, but now legalization in select states has had a unique impact on the prices of pot products.  In states where it is recreationally or medically legal, the value of bud grown from local growers is lower then it ever has been.  This is because they need to undercut the legally operating dispensaries in order to remain in business.  The addition of legal suppliers along with the original black market growers means supply is growing.  While demand remains as high as it always has been, the expanding number of suppliers will continue to lower weed’s value.  For those states that have not experienced recreational or medical dispensaries, there has been little to no impact.  A lot of the marijuana that is grown in legal states by caregivers or individuals is being transported to these states in order to maximize profits.  For example, a top-shelf $1800 pound in a state like California can easily be resold for $3000-4000 in places like New York or Florida.  That discrepancy is only for wholesale prices. If it were broken down into smaller quantities, the difference in value would become much more apparent.

Many growers like myself are hoping that the demand for high-quality craft cannabis will survive the transition to commercially grown weed.  It’s not going to be feasible to give 5,000 plants the individual attention they need in order to maximize potency and flavor.  Small-time growers have much more control over the environment and are better able to prevent insect outbreaks and nutrient deficiencies.  On top of that, many of the people entering the industry have the required financial investment but no previous experience in the illegal culture.  Those who have been operating in the shadows for years and dominating the market will always have the obvious advantage of experience.

The one that will benefit most from the legalization movement will 100% be the consumers.  Outside of being protected from prosecution, they now have the ability to produce their own marijuana or purchase cannabis from a variety of suppliers at a cheaper price.  While the price of legal cannabis is sometimes cheaper then what consumers were paying during prohibition, high-quality buds still sell for a premium.  That provides an opportunity for black market growers to re-claim the connoisseur market.  For now, they are still able to attract customers because they can compete with prices and taxes being charged at retail locations.  Those new to cannabis and those unable to identify characteristics of a desirable strain will be attracted to dispensaries.  Lacking connections among local growers means they will pay whatever their local shop charges.

The immediate impact on legal prices of marijuana will be undesirable.  When Washington opened its doors to anyone over the age of 21, they were charging over $30 a gram.  Those prices are unheard of by those who have been purchasing weed for any amount of time.  Despite the price, the lines stretched long and far the first few weeks of legal sales.  The new feeling of walking into a nice shiny retail location is priceless for some it seems.  Being able to participate in that moment of history after 70 years of prohibition, is what drove people to wait in line and pay high prices.  I would love to take a survey amongst cannabis consumers in states with dispensaries and ask them whether their source is a retail location or local grower/distributor.  Black markets certainly still exist, but it would be great to understand the exact magnitude legalization has had on the cannabis community.

Synthetic Cannabis and its Dangers

K2, spice, or whatever term you’ve heard to describe synthetic cannabis products, have absolutely nothing at all in common with natural marijuana and the chemicals that the plant produces.  A few years back, it was normal to hear about the drug being sold at convenience stores and the crazy effects it had on the people who chose to smoke it.  On shelves, they were simply labeled “not for human consumption” and sold legally as an herbal blend with unknown synthetic compounds sprayed on top.  None of these chemicals are present in cannabis and were constantly tweaked in order to avoid the expanding list of illegal drugs.  The short-term and long-term effects of the drugs sprayed onto these products have not been tested and remain unknown.  These compounds grew in popularity, largely as a result of the drug testing practices in our country.  The youth are the largest percentage of users of spice and are under the impression that it is similar to marijuana, allowing them to pass drug tests for probation, school, parents, etc.

The reason these drugs are classified and known as synthetic cannabis is that they simply bond to the same cannabinoid receptors that weed does.  HU-210, one of the prevalent compounds in spice products, is 100 to 800 times more potent than natural THC.  This is not to mention it is a single chemical by itself and isn’t balanced out by the presence of CBD or any other natural cannabinoids.  The negative physical effects of these types of chemicals include symptoms as extreme as kidney failure and dangerously high blood pressure.  Whoever markets these harmful chemicals as synthetic weed and legal highs is doing an enormous amount of damage to the community.  Attracting a customer base by selling this poison as “man-made” marijuana has destroyed lives and even killed a few this past month in the state of Illinois.

While it’s great that the years of gas station sales are over, the drug is still being sold by dealers on the street.  In Illinois, four people died this past month due to uncontrolled bleeding from the eyes, ear, mouth, as well as internal bleeding.  Officials are saying this likely is a result of the presence of rat poison in the spice.  Spice that seized from two dealers in the same area of the deaths was tested and came back positive for brodifacoum.  This substance interferes with the body’s ability to blood clot, causing serious amounts of blood loss.  While these people probably died from something added to synthetic cannabis, don’t think for a minute “untainted” spice is in anyway safe.  The psychotic state of mind that is induced by these drugs is not something anyone should want to experience.  On top of dangerous physical side effects, users easily get addicted.  Many users ignore the reports of internal bleeding and continue to use because of dependence.  The Illinois Department of Health says the cases of k2 abuse continue to pour in throughout this month.  These drugs are even more dangerous than many of the traditional controlled substances available on the black market.  It seems the semi-legality of these drugs is fooling people to believe that they are somewhat authentic.

Hopefully this is isn’t the beginning of another deadly trend like the opioid/fentanyl epidemic that’s spread across the country. The best way to minimize more new users from using is to spread factual information about these synthetic drugs to as many people and children as possible.  It needs to be associated with many of the same negative consequences addictive drugs like meth and heroin have on a users health and life.

Experiencing Florida’s Cannabis Culture

This past week I was lucky enough to escape the never-ending 6 month winter here in Michigan and visit one of my favorite destinations, the sunshine state.  From my past travels I came to the conclusion that a vacation isn’t really the complete package until you’re able to experience some of the best local flavors.  I knew that the possibility of smoking without any existing connections in the area could be a challenge, and decided to bring some great lakes ganja along for the journey.  Even though I’m a daily smoker, I did not bring enough to meet my usual consumption. It was just one of the strategies to help me stay under the radar.  Being conservative with my medicine was not really a problem because almost immediately my tolerance had drastically dropped.  There was a constant temptation to burn the stash quickly because of perfect weather and a community with a very relaxing environment.

It didn’t take me long to cross paths with another smoker who was also a medical marijuana patient in Florida’s program.  While out shooting hoops and hitting my vape pen, another basketball player joined the court and started shooting around with me.  He acknowledged the vape cartridge, and to my surprise also told me he had even brought his own along.  After hitting the “sherbert” flavored cartridge, I was in shock.  Never had I hit something so tasty that still packed a strong punch when it came to potency.  It was better than any of the countless brands I have tried from the dispensaries here.  The medial marijuana producers in the state have really done well with what they are working with.  Being limited to strictly producing non smokable forms of the plant allowed them to master the process of producing high quality medicine in vapor form.  At that point I felt comfortable asking for some direction on where to find some dank buds.  To my surprise the first person I met there was down to help me out.  I felt pretty lucky considering how sketchy it can be for dealers to deal outside their main circle.

When it came to the buds themselves, I was able to secure a batch of some mango kush.  The bag appeal was not too bad although noticeably different from what I’m use to seeing in Michigan.  While the buds were covered in orange hairs and pretty dense, they lacked that light green color and were not coated in trichomes.  I was not about to complain though as my new friend had gone out of his ways and it looked decent.  The flavor was surprisingly fruity and it burned really well.  It didn’t pack as strong of a punch as the joints I had brought along, but it definitely was a nice relief to my diminishing supply.  The price was higher then what I would pay at home, but I’m sure if I sticked around for a while and made some connections, I could secure comparable pricing.  The same goes for the quality of the bud.  I know people have top shelf medicine down south, it’s just not as prevalent and accessible.

From my short time there I met several consumers, and even caught some wiffs of dank while walking around the neighborhood.  Just as many people seem to smoke, but in a more discreet manner.  With not many people enrolled in the medical marijuana program, and those enrolled not allowed to have buds, there is a greater threat of police enforcement.  While I was able to find a connection relatively easy, I think it came down to getting really lucky.  With some of the country’s nicest beaches and weather its a trade-off when it comes to the state’s accessibility to weed.  If you plan on visiting, I would suggest bringing some of your locally grown weed along for the ride and not to plan on having a lucky encounter such as mine.  I would also definitely recommend trying the vape cartridges produced there if given the chance, I guarantee they will not disappoint.

 

Cannabis Drying Technique

In order to grow the best quality medicine, you need to have an understanding of the techniques growers have been using for decades to dry their harvests.  Nobody wants to put 3 plus months of effort and investment into a beautiful crop that will not burn or taste right due to poor drying technique.  There is far too much at stake to rush the process or not research what methods work best for your precious flowers.  Just like the cultivation process, there are many different ways to accomplish positive results.  Whether you decide to whole plant dry, trim when you harvest, or some sort of combination, with the right technique the drying stage will go smoothly and you’ll be left with some top shelf buds that are ready to cure.

The method that has brought the most pleasing results to my harvests, is to trim each branch as you go before placing them on hangers.  This is my favorite method because not only has it brought great results, but it makes the trimming process easier as leaves and stems are easier to remove when the plant is fresh.   Once all the small leaves harden and dry up into the buds, it becomes very difficult to get stems without removing parts of the flowers as well.  When you are dealing with large yields, trimming is enough work on its own so there is no reason to make the process more tedious then it has to be.

In the drying area your nipples should be hard because you’ll need a cool dark and well ventilated space.  It is definitely important to have a fan circulating the air around the buds but you do not want to have the fan blowing directly on them.  The buds will dry up much faster and have the potential of being too crispy and breaking up into dust when you grind it.   In these environmental conditions the drying stage should take around 4-5 days.  Another good way to verify that they are actually ready to begin curing is to break one of the branches.  If it snaps clean then it’s already too dry and you left them hanging too long but if you break it and it fractures slightly without much resistance that’s the sweet spot.  Getting it down inside the correct time frame is so key because curing too early leaves the possibility of molding out your due to trapped moisture.  Taking them down too late will also make buds lose the sticky feel connoisseurs are looking for.

Timing and using your best judgement on buds appearance/feel is essential to maximizing your product’s potential.  I don’t think people weigh the importance of the drying stage and treat it as a minimal stage in the cultivation process instead of a determining one.  While the method of drying can change, the drying environment can not so don’t settle for using drying racks or not properly controlling/ventilating the designated drying space.  I truly wonder how much of the lower shelf medicine available was actually grown professionally but ended up how it did due to poor processing techniques.

 

Using Tents vs. an Open Grow Room

One of the many decisions that you will have to make as a cannabis cultivator is how exactly you want to use the available space at your disposal.  If you have a bedroom or basement that can be transformed into a cultivation facility, should you purchase and put up a bunch of separate tents or just use the space as it is?  I would like to say that it’s a straightforward answer and everyone should be using tents but like most things in life each option has it’s benefits.

To start off, lets go over why I have used grow tents in all of my medical marijuana grows.  In my situation space has always been a constraint when it comes to producing the amount of plants that I would like to.  If you only have one room that you can dedicate to your garden there is no reason why you shouldn’t be using tents unless you’re really short on cash for equipment.  By adding tents you can have multiple stages of growth going on all contained and controlled separately.  This is a huge advantage because if you have grown cannabis in the past you know it takes a minimum of 3 months for the entire process from plant to harvest.  If you didn’t buy any tents and didn’t go through all the work of separating your room into a bunch of individual sections, your entire garden will be in the same growth stage.  To trigger flowering requires that there is only 12 hours of light per day, so if you want to have different growth stages you have to block the light from entering the flowering area.  In this business it’s all about the turnaround and if you can have another tent right behind your flowering one, there will be many more harvests in the same amount of time.

Tents are great for more then just separating the light cycles from the different areas of growth.  They also make containing the scent of your buds much more manageable than an open room full of skunky scents.  Adding a carbon filter to the air that is trapped inside will make it near impossible for uncleaned air to exit the tent.  In addition, all tents that I have installed also have hanging poles on the top making it easy to hang fans, lights, and carbon filters without any extra equipment.

If tents are so great then why do so many people still opt to go with the open grow room?  The most likely scenario where you would see rooms with no tents is in warehouses full of 5,000-10,000 plants.  If you are going to be producing on a large scale then using tents is going to be a waste of resources and just more unnecessary costs that you don’t need.  People that have multiple rooms can do the same separation I spoke of before, but on a much larger scale and without tents.  Rooms can be climate controlled just as easy as a tent so that is not an issue either.  When it comes to smell, the warehouse cultivation centers in recreational states don’t have to worry as much as most home growers with neighbors.  Hanging all your equipment and keeping plants of different heights at the appropriate distance from lighting will just take some extra creative designing on your part but still makes much more sense than installing a bunch of separate tents.

For those that grow on a small to medium sized scale at home,  I would highly suggest using tents to get the most money out of the same amount of time.  There is no doubt in my mind that it’s possible to grow high quality buds without containing your grow inside tents, but at the end of the day you might just have less bud and a stinky house.

 

 

 

Migraine Headaches and Cannabis Treatment

Everyone has heard that a joint helps the day after you have a hangover and the worst headache.  This actually can be applied to those of us who suffer from the physical pain involved in migraines headaches.  I thought it would be helpful if I shared my own personal experience and how I’ve found what type of cannabis treatment works best to treat the horrible side effects from migraines.  To this day, I’m still experimenting with the different available plant forms and strains to see what works best for not only the pain but the horrible nausea  that can accompany them.  The funny thing is that even if I took any of the many popular strains that are being grown today, it would  still work far better than the pharmaceutical drugs I got prescribed or could have got prescribed had I continued traditional treatment.  If you are in a similar situation and all you have tried are painkillers or other drugs with negative side effects, try whatever form of marijuana consumption you would be most comfortable with obtaining.  There are many places even in the United States still today that don’t make it easy to find specific strains to fit your medical needs by continuing prohibition.  Unfortunately all you can really do is take whatever Bob the black market dealer has, or gain the skills and equipment to produce your own medicine.  It may not only reduce the discomfort you experience during an episode, but more importantly prevent the frequency that they occur in my experience.  There are also new studies supporting this idea popping up the past few years.

For those of us lucky enough to live in a place where locking people in cages for having a plant has lost its popularity, we have a wide selection of not only strains but edibles, oils, drinks, lotion, and anything you could imagine.  The general rule that I live by when it comes to treating my migraines is that indica dominant hybrids work best.  They provide the most pain relief while relaxing the whole body making the pounding sensation much less intense and manageable. There are most definitely specific strains in this category that work better than others, but when in doubt or lacking specific info, go with this category of strains.  By sedating the body and providing a lot of pain relief  it makes the dizziness subside and patients able to relax.   As far as consuming these strains I find smoking and vaporizing far more ideal then edibles or other methods because they take a while to produce effects.  Migraine suffers much prefer immediate relief because in 40-50 minutes the worst of it likely has passed in most cases.  It’s often hard to anticipate one coming until you’re already experiencing the symptoms.

Before I was being more general by saying to look for a indica dominant strain, but I would like to get more specific and point you in the direction of some strains I’ve found help me greatly.   One of these are sativa dominant and that’s why the indica/sativa differentiation is only applicable in general and is not a cut and dry rule whether your talking about treating migraines or any condition.  First to start off, if you can get your hands on it, is the classic and arguable most popular marijuana strain OG Kush.  I think that this may be the best strain ever, not only for how much it has helped me with pain relief and nausea but  it amazes me with the best effects ever.  When this is professionally grown and is the authentic genetics it doesn’t get any better.  Most of the good strains that took off in popularity have this in it’s genetics.  It packs the punch required to treat severe pain and makes you feel extremely euphoric.  Another good option that won’t put you out for the night is Tangerine Dream.  I would use this if I had to work or go to college because it really finds a way to kill the pain and give motivation.  There are a lot of strains that do this but the flavor on this one is amazing!  Hopefully this info can lead you to the same relief I have experienced since discovering medical cannabis for myself.