Governors From Five States Sign Bills Into Law Creating Or Expanding Medical Cannabis Programs
This is a good week to be a pen manufacturer, as governors across the United States of America are running their pens dry signing new cannabis legislation into law. There is no doubting the momentum of the medical cannabis movement with these successful results seen across the country. Governors from Vermont, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Ohio signed legislation into law this week, which either creates or expands their state’s medical cannabis program. These political leaders are surely following the hearts and minds of their voting base, as is reflected in recent polling that “89 percent [are] in favor of allowing adults to legally use medical marijuana if prescribed by a doctor.” Legislation seems to be finally catching up to voters! Now the Federal Government needs to get itself moving, as Ohio’s new medical cannabis program makes it 25 out of 50 (26 out of 51 if you count Washington D.C.) which have a medical cannabis program. This is literally the moment the scales tip the opposite direction, and the majority of our great country has access to medical cannabis.
The Green Mountain State’s Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into law which expands the state’s already existing medical cannabis program. Shumlin noted the importance of mitigating Vermont’s opioid epidemic as a main influencing factor in his decision. The new law adds chronic pain, glaucoma and hospice care patients to the list of approved patients. Shumlin made some of the highest pain pill consuming patients eligible for the program. These patients will now have access to a medicine which will relieve their pain without the threat of severe addiction. These new changes take effect immediately.
The Centennial State’s Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law which requires all Colorado schools to allow students who are also medical cannabis patients to medicate on school property. The law, know as “Jack’s Law”, allows that the use of medical cannabis in schools may be under strict conditions. The law was named after a student, named Jack Splitt, who had his medication seized while at school. Without his medication he was unable to mitigate his seizure disorder, and was unable to attend school. His mother testified how important it is for Jack, as it is for all kids, to attend school for both social and intellectual benefits. It is expected that schools will have their policies updated prior to the start of the next school year.
The Constitution State’s Governor Dannel P. Mallory signed a bill into law which opens access to Connecticut’s medical cannabis program to patients younger than 18 years of age. The patients must have one of five conditions: “a terminal illness requiring end-of-life care; cystic fibrosis; cerebral palsy; severe epilepsy or uncontrolled intractable seizure disorder; or an irreversible spinal cord injury with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity.” Furthemore the underage patients will need permission to use medical cannabis from a parent or guardian along with two separate physicians. Smoking, vaporization, or any inhalation of medical cannabis is expressly forbidden by under 18 patients by the law. This would leave patients with topicals, tinctures, capsules, or edibles as their options of choice. This new law goes into effect on October 1st.
The Pelican State’s Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law which removes criminal penalties for patients who use medical cannabis legally. Prior to this move legal patients and distributors were technically still able to be prosecuted under state law for possession of cannabis, even though it was obtained with the permission of the state itself. Clearly, Louisiana had the metaphorical cart before the horse on this one. The new law protects both patients, registered caregivers, and the parents of a minor from prosecution for illegal possession of cannabis. The state’s correction of this nuance in the interaction of laws is a testament to their commitment to make a program which is viable. The new law goes into effect on August 1st.
The Buckeye State’s Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law creating a brand new medical cannabis program for Ohio. Ohio is officially the 25th state to enact some form of legislation to allow legal access to medical cannabis. The law specifically bans any smoking of any form of cannabis, but does allow the sale of flower. There has not been any explanation on how the state will enforce the ban on smoking. The law allows local cities and municipalities to ban cannabis business, so it will be interesting to see which parts of the state will have local access to medical cannabis. Similar to other states employers will still be able to retain a “drug-free” workplace, and terminate employees who are legal medical cannabis patients. The state will also forbid home growing, a measure which was included in a voter sponsored initiative which has since been suspended. The program will include some 23 conditions. Doctors in the state will be required to complete training prior to being authorized by the state to recommend patients medical cannabis, and will also be required to attend continuing education courses on cannabis. Quite interestingly, the law specifically caps THC percentages at 35% for flower, and 75% for concentrates. The Ohio Patient Network does a great job of summarizing all the details of the new program. The new law goes into effect on September 6, 2016, but it is expected to take about two years until medical cannabis is in the hands of patients.
Finally, the Land of Lincoln, or the Prairie State to some, is about to earn its place as number six on this list. Governor Bruce Rauner is poised to sign a bill into law which both expands and extends the Illinois medical cannabis pilot program. The program is to be expanded two additional years, and PTSD and terminal illness will be added to the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis. One of the most important changes to the current law is regarding how doctors interact with the program. Doctors will no longer have to recommend cannabis in conjunction with the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, but will simply certify that there is a bona-fide Doctor-Patient relationship and that the patient has a qualifying condition. Please be sure to contact the Governor directly and remind him to make good on his word and sign this bill into law! You can even offer to lend him one of your pens if his has run out of ink!
Do you think the Federal Government should take note of the fact that half the nation’s states now have legal access to medical cannabis, and remove cannabis from the schedule one category? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook!
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Illinois medical cannabis patients have a wealth of ingestion options available to them via legal dispensaries. So many options in fact, that at times it may feel overwhelming, a fact that is especially true in the concentrates category more than any other. Cannabis concentrates come in a rainbow of different styles, consistencies, and colors. This blog post is intended to help you have the knowledge you need to navigate the field, and select the concentrate best for you!
In the simplest explanation, a cannabis concentrate is a collection of the oil which is extracted from the plant material. This oil is mostly found on the surface of the leaves and buds in the form of sticky bulbous resinous trichomes. Any variations in the source material, extraction process, or post-extraction processing will result in a slightly different end product. The oil can be unlocked from the plant via various extraction methods, known by two main types; solvent-based vs solvent-free. Solvents can be used to dissolve and carry the oil from the plant material, but must then be removed to ensure a safe and healthy product. Any alcohol or hydrocarbon can be used to strip the oil from the plant, along with supercritical CO2. A process called winterization is then used to remove additional components removed from the plant during the extraction process, like waxes, lipids, and chlorophyll. Solvent-free methods utilize mechanical and physical techniques to remove, separate, and capture the resinous trichomes from the plant material.
Concentrates can be consumed in a number of different ways, but ideally should be vaporized not combusted. The scientific difference between those two is a matter of specific temperatures. Simply put, combustion is burning, and vaporization is a phase change from solid or liquid to gas. When water evaporates it is changing from a liquid to a gas, and this phenomenon is similar to what happens with cannabis oil, but just at a higher temperature than room temperature. The closer the temperature to combustion, the more flavor that will be lost and the more likely it will be that you are combusting the oil and not vaporizing. Concentrates can be paired with typical flower, but some efficiency may be lost with this pairing. Simply placing the concentrate on top of a bowl or inside a joint will work as the heat from the burning flower will work to vaporize the oil nearby. Be wary as any of the concentrate which is not vaporized by the heat, for example which runs down into a glass pipe when heated or wafts away into the air, will be lost product. Typically concentrates are consumed using a vaporizer or dabber, both of which come in many different shapes and sizes. Even in the case of dabbing, be sure to mind your temperatures to ensure you are vaporizing and not combusting your concentrates.
Let’s start by focusing the solvent-free methods first! Most notably in this category would be kief, discussed in-depth in a previous blog post here. Kief is basically resin powder, or the collection of resinous trichomes. They can be collected by shaking cannabis trim or buds over a series of silk screens, which have smaller and smaller sized holes at the micron level and only allow trichomes to fall through while stopping other plant material. This variation is typically of power-like consistency, and is known as dry-sift kief. This same phenomena is what happens inside your grinder, resulting in the powder you find in the catch at the bottom. Trim and buds can also be frozen and washed with water and ice in containers, draining the results through successive bags with smaller and smaller holes sized at the micron level. The results are similar to dry sift, but is paste like in consistency and known as bubble hash. The name refers to the results when burning this concentrate, as it will characteristically melt and bubble when heated. Both variations of kief are similar, but will be different in potency, taste, and consistency. Medical patients who are particularly sensitive to the idea of solvents can choose kief as their concentrate of choice. Both dry and wet kief can be combined with flower to boost medicating power. Dry sift kief can be dabbed, but the results will be less than stellar, so choose the other keif concentrate option (bubble hash) if you are going to be dabbing. If you are typical flower consumer, sprinkling kief on top is a quick and easy way to increase your cannabinoid intake! Kief can be pressed and heated, transforming it into rosin. Rosin is more suited for dabbing applications than kief.
Now let’s move onto the concentrates extracted using solvents. There are many names for the varieties of wax found on the market. Solvent extraction is a powerful means to strip the oily essence from the cannabis plant. The characteristics of the resulting oil will be highly influenced by what specific solvent is used. Some manufactures of cannabis concentrates have gone so far as to create unique and proprietary blends of solvents, so that they have the unique path to their branded concentrate. The choice of solvent is one of the main determining factors which dictates the end result. After the oil has been extracted, it must be post-processed to ensure a safe and healthy product. This post-processing is the second most important factor which will dictate the end result. Special pressurized ovens, called vacuum ovens, are used to modify the pressure while heating the oil to remove any residual solvent locked inside the concentrate. By placing the concentrate into a vacuum the boiling point can be lowered, so the solvent can be made to boil at a lower temperature. Keeping the extract at a lower temperature will prevent degradation of cannabinoids due to heat, and in the case of making shatters prevent decarboxylization. Different mechanical treatments can be used in the post-processing phase, resulting in an end product which can vary from oily to buttery in consistency.
You can take a deeper dive into the chemistry and material science theories behind the difference between a wax and shatter by clicking here. Winterization is also part of the post-processing, removing contaminants and further refining and altering the oil in taste, texture, and consistency. There can also be variations in the choice of starting product from dried buds, various forms of trim, fresh moist buds, and even fresh frozen buds. When cannabis is frozen fresh and then run through the extraction process, a concentrate called live resin is produced. Live resin is known for being especially flavorful and one of the best extraction methods of capturing the essence of the plants unique smells and flavors. With solvent based extractions the most common solvent used is butane, and is abbreviated many places as BHO, short for butane hash oil. The solvent most commonly thought of as the best to use is supercritical CO2, which is CO2 gas super-pressurized to its supercritical point. At this special point the CO2 flows through the plant matter like a gas but dissolves oil from the plant like a liquid. This method can be fine tuned to extract all or parts of the plant’s chemical makeup.
Concentrates are available in a wide variety. When selecting a concentrate to try, keep several things in mind when you are making your decision. First, look for a strain you prefer and try to find a concentrate of your ideal strain. Second, decide if flavor or potency is more important to you in a concentrate product. Finally, look for a concentrate of your desired strain in the form which accentuates either flavor, (like live resin) potency, (like shatter) or range in both flavor and potency (like a wax or budder). Cresco Labs has a wide variety of concentrates available now. Please click here and find the dispensary nearest to you!
What is your ideal concentrate? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook!
Here is a breakdown of the concentrates in summary:
- Kief (Dry sift) (Trichomes)
- Process: The sparkly coating of cannabis or resin powder in the form of resin filled trichomes, is broken off and filtered through screens and collected. Exactly the same powder that you find in the bottom of your grinder.
- Physical Description: A powder-like substance
- Flavor & Taste: Carries the flavor essence of the plant well
- Potency: 20%-60%
- Overall: A great solvent-free concentrate which is easy to pair with flower to enhance both flavor and cannabinoid intake. Will burn quickly and smolder when ignited. Not good for dabbing.
- Bubble hash
- Process: Cannabis is frozen (can be dry) and placed into buckets with ice water. The mixture is agitated and drained through screen filter bags and similar to dry sift the resinous trichomes are broken off and collected.
- Physical Description: A hash-like granular paste
- Flavor & Taste: Slightly less potent in flavor and taste than dry sift kief as some smell and flavors will be washed away.
- Potency: 50%-80%
- Overall: A great solvent-free concentrate which can be paired with flower or a hash bowl. Will burn quickly and smolder when ignited. Not good for dabbing.
- Process: Either kief or dried cannabis is wrapped in wax parchment paper and simultaneously pressed and heated.
- Physical Description: Semi-clear oil with tacky consistency
- Flavor & Taste: Known to capture smells and flavors well
- Potency: 50%-70%
- Overall: A great solvent-free concentrate which can be used in a vaporizer pen or dabbed. Kief can be transformed into a dabbable substance as rosin.
- Kief (Dry sift) (Trichomes)
- Process: Cannabis is placed into a vessel and a solvent is passed through. The solvent is allowed to evaporate, and only the oily essence of the plant remains. Further processing is necessary to purge the substance of its solvent, and winterization is done to remove unwanted chemicals extracted from the plant like chlorophyll, waxes, and lipids.
- Physical Description: Great variation influenced by solvent and post processing choices. Generally oily to paste-like, can be smooth or granular.
- Flavor & Taste: Potent flavor, bordering on harsh
- Potency: 60%-90%
- Overall: Great go-to concentrate which can be paired with flower, a vaporizer, or dabbed.
- Process: Specially treated extract, allowed to cool without being agitated, and kept at lower temperatures throughout processing. Terpenes and moisture are removed to increase the percentage by weight of cannabinoids.
- Physical Description: Hard glass-like low moisture oil. Can be tacky, or solid like hard candy.
- Flavor & Taste: Harsh flavor, thick smoke, can be overwhelming
- Potency: 80%-95%
- Overall: Extremely potent concentrate not for the inexperienced.
- Process: Wax which is agitated mechanically or by hand, causing a molecular change in the substance altering its physical characteristics to be more wax-like than oil-like.
- Physical Description: Butter like paste which is creamy smooth
- Flavor & Taste: Flavorful
- Potency: 60%-90%
- Overall: Great concentrate which can be paired with flower, a vaporizer, or dabbed which has more personality and unique characteristics than unprocessed wax concentrate.
- Live resin
- Process: The same extraction process is run using fresh frozen cannabis.
- Physical Description: Oily and colorful
- Flavor & Taste: Super rich flavor, smooth taste, not overwhelming
- Potency: 65%-95%
- Overall: Most flavor rich of all the concentrates. Great concentrate which can be paired with flower, a vaporizer, or dabbed.
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Illinois Medical Cannabis Program To Expand
Illinois politicians agreed this week on a bill to expand and extend the Illinois medical cannabis pilot program. A bill sponsored by Democratic State Representative Lou Lang was passed by the House on Memorial Day, and the Senate yesterday evening. The bill just made it through the process in time, as yesterday was also the close of the Illinois legislative session for the year. This bill, along with the bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis, now head to Governor Bruce Rauner for his signature. Rauner has indicated through his spokesperson that he will sign both bills into law sometime in the next 30-90 days. The bill will become law when it is signed, but there may be some lag in the issuance of updated doctor certification forms and rules from the Illinois Department Of Public Health. Read below for a breakdown of the changes to the program:
- Pilot Program extended to July 1, 2020.
- Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and terminal illness added as qualifying medical conditions.
- Patient and caregiver cards valid for three years, instead of one.
- Upon renewal of patient and caregiver cards, no fingerprinting is required.
- Doctors will no longer have to RECOMMEND cannabis and the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, but will simply certify that there is a bona-fide Doctor-Patient relationship and that the patient has a qualifying condition.
- Minors who are patients may have two caregivers.
- The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board will be reconstituted, and a new procedure created for accepting patient petitions for the addition of new conditions to the program.
- Fixes a conflict in the law that threatened the lawful gun ownership of medical cannabis patients, plus more.
Rep. Lang issued a statement praising this success; “Governor Rauner and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin deserve credit for their willingness and commitment to reform and extend Illinois’ medical marijuana program. I want to thank them for their cooperation to find a bi-partisan legislative compromise on improving a program designed to ease the pain and suffering of seriously ill individuals, including children.”
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CBD is THC’s partner in success
If you are a medical patient, the strain with the highest THC may not be your ideal strain, and if you ignore CBD, you are missing half the picture. Most everyone who is familiar with cannabis, is also probably familiar with THC, jokingly called “the high causer”, formally known by its full name as Tetrahydrocannabinol. In contrast, most of those same people are not likely to be familiar with CBD, whose formal full name is cannabidiol. Martin A. Lee puts it perfectly in his book Smoke Signals, writing “CBD is the yin of THC’s yang.” THC and CBD are typically the two most prevalent cannabinoids found in cannabis. Many familiar with the pharmacological history of cannabis know about Marinol, the synthetic THC-only pill born in the mid-80’s. Marinol is widely known for being ineffective, and for commonly having a side-effect of an overwhelming-high. This type of overwhelming-high is too much for patients to handle, leading them to be anxious and uncomfortable. This side-effect can also be noted it some patients when medicating with high-THC/low-CBD strains of cannabis.
One important thing to note about CBD is it does not cause the patient to get “high”, known in the medical world as euphoria. This can lead some to a knee-jerk reaction to beleive THC is an intoxicant and CBD is a healer, however to be clear this is not correct. As Steve DeAngelo discusses in his book The Cannabis Manifesto, we should have the perspective that cannabis is a wellness product and not an intoxicant, including and especially THC. Dr. Tod Mikuriya is quoted in Smoke Signals perfectly summing up how reality is perspective by explaining “we should be thinking of cannabis as a medicine first, that happens to have some psychoactive properties, as many medicines do, rather than as an intoxicant that happens to have a few therapeutic properties.” Don’t believe there are currently medications which cause psychoactivity? Watch some YouTube videos of children returning home from the dentist. Cannabis is a wellness product not an intoxicant, and all cannabinoids have therapeutic healing properties, including both CBD and THC. To be clear, going an only-CBD route will reduce the effectiveness of the medicine, and lessen the beneficial results. It would be better to go with a 20:1 CBD:THC ratio than a 100% CBD-only option. Generally speaking being sick can be emotionally trying, especially in the long term, so it is bewildering to most that the emotional uplifting side-effect of cannabis is looked at in a negative light. For most patients a medicine which treats both the body and the spirit would be hugely beneficial dual-pronged approach. Ensure your medicine is a whole plant extract including all cannabinoids and terpenes, not just a CBD only formulation.
As discussed on ProjectCBD, high CBD formulations can be useful in treating diseases “including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.” One of the most well known applications of CBD is in the treatment of seizures, as we can read in written historical records going back to the 15th century, through today. GW Pharmaceuticals recently proved this fact officially in the medical world through their successful FDA blessed clinical trial. In addition to being an excellent anti-seizure agent, CBD is also anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-cancer, and analgesic. Even the United States Federal Government’s research arm, the National Cancer Institute, proclaims on their website “Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.” These studies have not been carried through into human trials due to political, not scientific roadblocks. Patients can medicate with CBD-high or CBD-dominant strains and receive true relief and healing. By keeping the correct ratio of CBD to THC, patients can medicate with a light, or completely absent mental high, while still receiving the beneficial medical effects of the cannabinoids.
THC and CBD, along with the one hundred or so other cannabinoids found in cannabis, all have synergistic healing properties with the human body, working to help the body rebalance its endocannabinoid system. Research has shown that CBD works to mitigate the body’s intake of THC on a molecular level, preventing a Marinol-like result. Furthermore, each strain of cannabis has its own unique fingerprint of smells (terpenes) and flavors (flavonoids), which play an influencing role in the body’s interaction with the cannabinoid group, and also interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system directly. It is important for each patient to find the strain of cannabis which embodies the ideal ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes for their unique body. When a patient finds their ideal ratio and dosage, they are able to medicate in the best way: rebalancing their endocannabinoid system properly without sending it off balance in a different direction.
Many in the illegal market lust after strains with high THC and barely detectable CBD, as their impetus is simply the psychoactive high. Medical cannabis patients whose deepest innermost motivations are centered on healing would not hesitate to medicate with a strain that has a higher CBD than THC content. Patients completely new to cannabis, especially those who harbor some anxiety about being able to handle being high, should medicate with strains high in CBD. The CBD will help prevent patients from getting into and anxiety state as a result of over-intake of THC.
As discussed in a previous blog post, cannabis is like a symphony orchestra, each chemical contributing to the overall synergistic effect, known in the cannabis world as the entourage effect. Medical cannabis patients are metaphorically using band members from the cannabis troupe as stand-ins in their own internal musical symphony. When a patient’s musical harmony regains its balance, it restores their ability to make beautiful music again, or in more literal terms, be balanced and healthy.
Cresco Labs offers our Remedi line including several CBD high formulations in various ingestion methods. Currently offered strains like Channel 2 and Harlequin are available in classic flower have a ratio of higher CBD to THC. In addition to flower, high CBD formulations derived from the Harlequin strain can also be ingested in capsule form, and also vaporized from a vapor cartridge or disposable pen. Remedi high-CBD Tinctures will also be added soon!
An Illinois medical cannabis patient recently commented on Facebook writing, “I used to think critical mass cbd was my mixer for fibromyalgia pain, but Harlequin has changed my mind. Might be lower content, but she works fast and amazing!.” This patient has found their ideal ratio of cannabinoids and terpenes in Harlequin!
Be sure to purchase your medical CBD products from registered dispensaries, and not from online sellers. CBD formulations found on the internet are widely known to be of poor quality, and most miss the mark on their reported levels of CBD. The FDA recently sent out warnings to many in the industry ordering some suppliers to stop selling their products. The legal status of these CBD products found outside dispensaries is grounded in the fact that the product is extracted from hemp grown outside the United States. Hemp, is in reality, the same plant as cannabis, only difference being that hemp must have less than 0.3% THC. Also keep in mind that since industrial hemp is bred to be low-resin, large amounts of hemp must be processed to extract the CBD, which is at a low percentage in hemp. The large volume of material may be a critical flaw in this avenue, as cannabis is a bio-accumulator (meaning it draws chemicals out of the soil), so the extract may inadvertently contain toxins from the soil. Furthermore there is the question of what extraction method was used, and weather the over-the-internet, untested, unlabeled product, contains any residual solvents.
Registered Illinois medical cannabis patients are now able to legally obtain high-quality lab tested high CBD formulations from Cresco Labs through a wealth of dispensaries found across the state. Click here to find the dispensary closest to you!
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Illinois On The Brink Of Cannabis Decriminalization
Recently the Chicago Tribune reported the Illinois legislature sent a new bill to Governor Bruce Rauner, after being passed by both the Illinois House and Senate. If Rauner signs the landmark bill it will decriminalize small amounts of cannabis in Illinois. The change being that offenders with small amounts will not be arrested, but ticketed and fined, with their records automatically being expunged twice a year. In contrast the current situation today as “possession of up to 10 grams is a class B misdemeanor that could result in up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,500.” A similar bill was vetoed last year by Rauner, but his feedback was incorporated into this year’s bill which has many hopeful for his signature this time around. Rauner’s feedback was was to lower the decriminalized limit from 15 grams to 10 grams, and the max fine increased from $125 to $200. Seems more like typical politics in action rather than a genuine disagreement in policy or principles.
The new law would also redraw the line for cannabis intoxication while driving. As discussed in a previous blog post in detail, drivers in Illinois currently are held to a zero-tolerance standard, as the presence of any amount of cannabis in the blood, urine, or saliva constitutes intoxication. The Trib reminds us that “a driver can be charged if any trace of marijuana is detected, even if it was ingested weeks before and the driver shows no signs of impairment.” The new law defines cannabis intoxication as a measured level above 5ng/mL in blood, and 10ng/mL in saliva. While these limits should not be the only qualification of intoxication, as reflected by AAA’s research, they are better than zero.
If you think Governor Rauner should sign the decriminalization bill then contact him today and let him know! Tell us your thoughts on this new bill in the comments below or on Facebook!
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Caviar Debuts in Illinois – Extract Infused Flowers
It has been a long and bumpy road for Illinois medical cannabis patients. It was not too long ago that these patients had only illegal avenues available to obtain their medicine. Today we reap the blessings sewn by the dedicated efforts of Illinois’ citizen lobbyists.
Recently a new type of product debuted on Illinois dispensary shelves! Not to be confused with fish egg caviar… Cresco Labs caviar, also known as “superbud, kief pebbles, & moonrocks” in other parts of the country, is a extract infused extra strength flower product. Cresco Labs caviar is a combination of three separate strain specific products in one. Mike West, Cresco Labs Director Of Manufacturing, describes caviar as “an extract and concentrate medley of infused flowers; delicately balanced blend of strength, flavor and slow burning bliss.” Caviar is handmade by infusing flower buds in winterized cannabis oil and then coating the sticky result with a layer of sparkling kief. West went on to detail that “by using top shelf winterized oil, Cresco assures a minimal harsh vapor, without the waxes that present a harsh burning found in other caviars.” Combining the power of high quality flower, potent extracted and purified oil, and robust flavorful kief results in a supercharged-extra-strength medication meant for the most demanding medical needs. Caviar will be available in a reliably consistent formula of strain specific flower, oil, and kief, so patients can trust in the consistent effects of a single strain formula caviar. Not only does a single strain formula allow patients to medicate without the potential confusion of effects of multiple strains, West also noted the importance of how a single strain formula “results in a profound flavor, that holds true to the flowers natural flavor.”
Some patients have medical conditions or symptoms which can at times be especially intense, and may spur them to reach for extra strength medication. If typical flower is your mainstay of medication, then keeping caviar on hand could be useful in those especially painful moments. David Ellis, Cresco Labs Executive Vice President Of Operations, summarized Cresco caviar as an “ideal mechanism for flower enthusiasts to get medical grade dosing per consumption event.” This product will allow patients to easily intake a concentrated dose of cannabinoids without having to smoke loads of additional flower.
Caviar is best consumed either by classic smoking or by using a dry flower vaporizer. When using caviar it is best to keep your grinder holstered, since a caviar nug will instantly gum up your grinder’s mechanical spinning action. Patients can smoke caviar nugs whole or broken up. To smoke whole caviar nugs simply place a whole nug on top of a bed of ground flower, and let the large nug roast like a log on top of a campfire’s bed of embers. Caviar nugs can also be broken up by hand or minced with scissors if you are looking to load a flower vaporizer, a glass device, or roll into a paper. Be wary of the extreme stickiness likely to coat your fingers if you choose to break up a caviar nug!
The characteristics of caviar smoke will be uniquely different than typical flower. You will find the smoke will be thick and dense, the taste intense, and you will be quick to perceive the heightened levels of medication. Be cautious when first consuming caviar, as you will find that a much smaller dose will accomplish stronger effects than typical flower. Caviar is a product perfectly suited for patients who need an efficient mode of high potency cannabinoid delivery!
Photo Courtesy of: Instagram
Mike West summarized Cresco Labs’ efforts to make the best caviar available by explaining how “caviar quality control begins with the ingredients, tested for terpene content, potency, pesticides, and residual solvents. Our graded flowers have all the stems and leaves removed, and are trimmed to a nugget size that can easily fit inside a bowl. The nuggets are then infused with twice extracted oils, that have had waxes removed and distilled. After infusion, the flowers are tossed in cleaned dry sift to infuse the flowers with greater terpene and potency, while making them easier to handle. After making the Caviar, small pieces are removed for Caviar joints, while the nuggets are tested again for terpene content, potency, pesticides, and residual solvents.” West noted that what really sets Cresco Labs caviar apart is that “we use premium, winterized and distilled oils to maximize potency. Our smaller nuggets increase the oil and kief content in each nugget, resulting in a potency 3x stronger than raw flowers, and 2x the strength of our competitors.”
Registered Illinois medical cannabis patients are now able to legally obtain high-quality lab tested caviar from Cresco Labs through a wealth of dispensaries found across the state. Click here to find the dispensary closest to you!
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Why A High THC Percentage Does Not Matter…
Beautiful music is the summation and interaction of all the separate pieces of a musical group; the singers who tell the story through words for your mind, the band who expresses the emotional energy through sound for your ears, the stage crew who frames the group on the stage for your eyes, and the promotion group who gets the people in the seats in the first pace. Some bands may be known by their venerable rock star, like THC is for cannabis, but that rockstar would not be who they are without the backing and support of the entire band and crew. Imagine a rockstar belting a tune for five or so minutes with no backup singers, no musical instruments, on a bare dark stage. It would not be the same show! The effect that cannabis has on an individual is the summation and combined interaction of all the separate cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid chemicals found in the plant. This interaction of all the chemicals in cannabis with the human body is known as the entourage effect.
If cannabis was a musical act, THC would be the lead singer, and well known rockstar of the plant. THC’s backup singers would include other cannabinoids like CBD, CBC, CBN, and CBG. The band’s group of musicians would be rounded out with an eighty or so member sized symphony orchestra of cannabinoid chemicals, which produce a sound unique to each plant’s cannabinoid profile. The orchestra would be supported by the stage crew, which in cannabis would be the many terpenes and flavonoids. According to Whaxy, terpenes and flavonoids are “the molecules that provide cannabis with its aroma and flavor.” Along with enhancing the experience of cannabis, some of these flavor and smell chemicals can also interact directly with the endocannabinoid system themselves, acting like pickup musicians and jumping in to play a song or two with the orchestra. When not playing special sets onstage, the terpene and flavonoid crew would be responsible for the alluring clean and fresh air found in the auditorium, along with a ornate stage which frames the presentation of the musicians beautifully.
Let’s take a quick detour for a history lesson about “pharmaceutical” cannabis! Way back in 1985 the Federal government financially backed and approved a drug, mostly known as Marinol, as a legal alternative to real cannabis. Marinol is 100% synthetic THC, and it was set as a schedule III drug when approved. It is viciously ironic for the government to quarantine cannabis from the public and medical communities as a schedule I drug, and then double-classify THC as a schedule III drug, which can be legally prescribed by doctors with appropriate and acknowledged medical use by the public. Marinol went on to be a lackluster failure of a drug, due to the fact that it got patients too high. Being “too high” is a condition in which the patient is unable to handle the mental effects of THC, and can even go so far as to result in a state of anxiety or paranoia for the patient. This application of only THC in Marinol breaks the convention of the entourage effect. By administering solely THC, the patient’s body is able to quickly absorb the chemical without any mitigating factors, leading some to be overwhelmed. When CBD is combined with THC, CBD works to buffer or meter the activity of THC with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Furthermore terpenes and flavonoids interact with cannabinoids at the blood-brain barrier and influence and affect the crossing of cannabinoids into the brain.
Imagine a rock star showing up to a hotel room without their cast and crew, having no one to influence and mitigate their passion, they brutally trash the hotel room and get the band banned from the hotel for life. Similar to this example, THC could overwhelm a patient and wreck their mental tranquility, and get itself (potentially along with cannabis), blacklisted by a Marinol patient. It would take a lot of education to help a patient overwhelmed by THC in Marinol to give whole plant cannabis another try. Similarly to the case of Marinol, it would be foolish for whole plant patients to only shop for strains of cannabis which are the highest in THC or CBD percentage. Such a patient would be missing out on the bigger picture when it comes to cannabis as a medicine. When you are shopping for strains of cannabis to meet your medical needs, think about how each member of the band will help your body make beautiful music again. Cannabis works seemingly magically to find its own way to where your body needs its help. If your body was short a metaphorical horn player in the band, cannabis would send a stand-in horn player to round out your whole band, and allow your body to make beautiful music again by functioning correctly. The horn player may come from the cannabinoid group, but without the advice from friends in the terpene and flavonoid groups, our horn player might play in the wrong key. Keep this in mind when selecting your next strain of medical cannabis. There is so much more to a strain’s profile than just the THC percentage!
Please keep a medical cannabis journal in which you track each day’s strain, effects, and outcomes, so you can try different strains and find your ideal ratio of cannabinoids and terpenes. Each medical cannabis product will be clearly documented on its package sticker with percentages of the majority cannabinoids and terpenes. The mathematical relationship between the cannabinoids and terpenes which makeup the plant’s profile is known as its ratio. A plant with 5% THC and 1% CBD would be noted as a 5:1 ratio of THC to CBD. When you find your ideal ratio, use your ratio to identify new strains which are similar in chemical composition. As would be the case in a different strain with 10% THC and 2% CBD, still a 5:1 ratio mathematically. This new strain would have a similar effect on your body at ½ the first strain’s dosage, assuming similar terpene makeups. Furthermore your ideal cannabis would be additionally quantitatively described by the ratios of terpenes to each other, and to the cannabinoids. Use this approach to help you understand your medicine, and use the knowledge you gain about your unique ideal ratio to find other strains of cannabis which would be similar in effects for your unique body.
Look for your “ideal sound” in your next strain of cannabis in one of Illinois’ many legal medical cannabis dispensaries. Click here to find the one closest to you!
Posted In: Science
New Research Sheds Light On Inaccuracy Of Legal Limits For Cannabis Intoxication
AAA’s research arm, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety strives to “prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety.” This organization released this week a comprehensive report which analyzes the limits set by many states meant to indicate cannabis intoxication. Fascinatingly this report found that the nanogram per milliliter (ng/mL) limits currently set by states do not accurately determine the level of intoxication of an individual. This mindset of a quantitative approach to qualifying intoxication is a carryover from our understanding of measuring and controlling alcohol intoxication. Most states have settled on a limit of 0.08 BAC for alcohol, and 5 ng/mL for cannabis. To be clear, no patient should get behind the wheel and drive if they are under the influence of any drug and impaired or intoxicated.
This report found that it is not scientifically sound to use the same logic with cannabis as is applied to alcohol. While the BAC limit has been scientifically shown to be a consistent and reliable determination of alcohol intoxication, the AAA study showed that the same is not true for cannabis. The study showed that first time or new users with a small amount of cannabis in their blood can be highly intoxicated, while conversely regular users with a high amount of cannabis in their blood can be not intoxicated at all. Paradoxically, unlike with alcohol, the research showed that measured amounts of cannabis in the bloodstream do not correlate linearly to a measured level of intoxication. This is why the report concluded that “there is no science showing that drivers reliably become impaired at a specific level of marijuana in the blood.”
Marshall Doney, AAA’s President and CEO, feels that “in the case of marijuana, this approach is flawed and not supported by scientific research. It’s simply not possible today to determine whether a driver is impaired based solely on the amount of the drug in their body.” AAA goes on to advise lawmakers to create a system which does not hinge on arbitrary limits alone, but instead “use a two-component system that requires (1) a positive test for recent marijuana use, and most importantly, (2) behavioral and physiological evidence of driver impairment.” Without this approach Illinois may end up chasing its own tail in court, as was the situation in Colorado. For some more insight into what driving on cannabis looks like, check out this documentary by CNN showcasing an experiment on how cannabis can affect driving. Following the experiment in the video you can watch Sanja Gupta as he actually takes a ride in a car driven by a medicated patient.
Some news outlets have been trumpeting scary headlines like Marijuana-related fatal car accidents surge in Washington state after legalization or Report: Fatal marijuana-related crashes up where drug is legal, both implying the number of fatal car accidents caused by cannabis has been trending upward. CBS news straight up misrepresented the findings from AAA and left out the explanations of the details in the study. Like that cannabis was in many cases not the only drug present in the driver’s system in the fatal crash, and the number of fatal drivers with only cannabis in their system is surprisingly low. One of the most important details include that while the presence of cannabis in drivers of fatal car accidents may be trending upward, this has no correlation to their level of intoxication at the time of the accident. As NORML’s Paul Armentano puts in the the AAA news release, “We should not conflate the detection of certain substance with the notion that the driver was necessarily impaired with certain substances.” He referenced a NHTSA study released in 2015 which found that driving impaired by cannabis is in no way statistically similar to driving impaired by alcohol.
An excerpt from the Behavioral Safety Research (February 2015) Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk By Richard P. Compton and Amy Berning:
This study of crash risk found a statistically significant increase in unadjusted crash risk for drivers who tested positive for use of illegal drugs (1.21 times), and THC specifically (1.25 times). However, analyses incorporating adjustments for age, gender, ethnicity, and alcohol concentration level did not show a significant increase in levels of crash risk associated with the presence of drugs. This finding indicates that these other variables (age, gender, ethnicity and alcohol use) were highly correlated with drug use and account for much of the increased risk associated with the use of illegal drugs and with THC. This study found a statistically significant association between driver alcohol level and crash risk both before and after adjustment for demographic factors. These findings were generally consistent with similar analyses conducted in prior crash risk studies. Findings from this study indicate that crash risk grows exponentially with increasing BrAC. The study shows that at low levels of alcohol (e.g., 0.03 BrAC) the risk of crashing is increased by 20 percent, at moderate alcohol levels (0.05 BrAC) risk increases to double that of sober drivers, and at a higher level (0.10 BrAC) the risk increases to five and a half times. At a BrAC of 0.15, the risk is 12 times, and by BrACs of 0.20+ the risk is over 23 times higher.
Illinois residents need to be responsible consumers and understand the laws in this state which regulate cannabis drugged driving. Currently the law states “It is unlawful person to operate a motor vehicle while there is any amount of a drug in the person’s breath, blood or urine.” To restate that in more simple terms, that means anything above zero will result in a DUI for cannabis in Illinois. This should strike fear into the hearts of regular users who understand the facts, and know that they can fail a urine screen drug test for anywhere from 0-120 days, and a blood test for anywhere from 0-3 days after they have last medicated with cannabis. The reality of the situation today is that the only real way to steer clear of a cannabis DUI in the state of Illinois is to either not use cannabis at all, or not drive at all. The medical cannabis legislation which was passed in Illinois which allows legal cannabis access does not offer any exemptions for medical cannabis patients from DUI convictions.
This is important for Illinois residents to understand this topic clearly because the current decriminalization bill working through the Illinois State Legislature will modify the limit from 0ng/mL and set a new limit of 5ng/mL for intoxication of cannabis while driving. The best way for Illinois legislators to keep Illinois roads safe is to take note of the new AAA research and not use a blood ng/mL measurement as the sole deciding factor of intoxication in DUI cases. Please look up your Illinois State Congressional representation and contact and inform them of the AAA & NHTSA research, help them understand the reality of cannabis intoxication and how it does not correlate directly to a ng/mL level, and that our state needs to be smart about how we regulate cannabis drugged driving. Let’s set a new shining example in Illinois for the rest of the country to follow!
Do you think our state is taking the right approach when it comes to setting legal limits for cannabis intoxication? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on social media!
Posted In: Uncategorized
Ohio Poised To Be The 25th State With Legal Medical Cannabis
Ohio is moving new medical cannabis legislation closer to becoming law. Yesterday, May 10, 2016, the Ohio house passed a bill which will provide patients access to legal medical cannabis. Ohio would be the 25th state in the union to pass legislation for medical cannabis, tipping the scales to a straight 50/50 balance of states with and without legal medical cannabis access. If you include Washington D.C as a “semi-state” Ohio would be the 26th state. The Ohio program will be similar to existing programs in other states which currently have legal access. The bill is reported as being sponsored by Rep. Stephen Huffman, both an emergency room doctor and a Representative in the House, who is “…absolutely convinced that there is therapeutic value in medical marijuana.” Notably Ohio legislators plan to allow vaporization but not smoking as a consumption method, and also not allow patients the ability to grow cannabis at home.
The bill has 20 qualifying conditions to start, with a board regulated process to add more in the future. Ohio is unfortunately setting up doctors in a very compromising position, as the new law would require them to recommend specific strains with defined THC levels, and also a specific method of consumption. These recommendations will put doctors directly at odds with the Federal Government and seriously jeopardize their legal ability to practice as doctors. The issue is rooted in the fact that cannabis is regulated as a schedule I drug, and by definition drugs classified as schedule I have no medical value and are forbidden to be prescribed by doctors. A big win for parents and caregivers is that they will have protections built into the bill from arrest or loss of their children because they are medical cannabis patients. No protection will extend into the workplace, because similar to other states like Illinois, the bill does not prevent an employer from retaining a drug-free workplace and terminating an employee for legal medical cannabis use. The new law will have included an opt-out clause for local municipalities which will be able to block cannabis licences in their towns if they so choose. The best feature of all in the bill is a measure to formally urge the Federal Government to reschedule cannabis to schedule II, in hopes of promoting more research on the topic.
Not all Ohio residents are on board with this bill passed by the House. There is a different medical cannabis bill for Ohio being championed by citizen lobby groups locally (Ohioans for Medical Marijuana) and nationally (Marijuana Policy Project). This bill would include a number of additional qualifying medical conditions, and also allow patients the ability to grow their own cannabis at home. Unlike the current bill just passed by the House, this would be a voter initiative passed through a majority vote in Ohio’s upcoming November 8th vote. In the case of both passing, a voter initiative would override a bill passed by the state congress.
Ohio Rep. Teresa Fedor voiced her concerns about the bill being “discriminatory” and “…a cruel joke.” Fedor feels that the state is setting up patients to lose their jobs by allowing medical use without any workplace protection. One has to admit her logic is sound and her position has merit. Ohio residents who legally obtain and use cannabis will have no protection from termination for violation of workplace drug policy. Ideally the federal government should re-schedule cannabis to a schedule II drug, which would allow doctors to write official prescriptions that grant the same protective exemption to patients who test positive for cannabis, as patients who test positive for opiates. To add insult to injury, under the current laws on the books Ohio residents who are terminated for legal medical cannabis use would also lose their unemployment benefits.
The bill is now moving through the legislative process into the Ohio State Senate where there may be some small adjustments made, but lawmakers expect to have the bill on Gov. John Kasich’s desk before their current session ends in June. Kasich is reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as being undecided on signing the bill, waiting to see that the final product “is written properly and there is a need for it.” While we may be able to have a healthy discourse about the specifics in the bill, there is no disputing the need for access to legal medical cannabis.
Do you think Ohio legislators are taking the right approach when it comes to their medical cannabis legislation? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on social media!
Posted In: News
Governor Rauner Voices Reluctance To Expand List Of Approved Conditions
Governor Bruce Rauner visited Lakes Community High School in Lake Villa and Lyons Township High School in La Grange yesterday, May 9, 2016, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. During his visits the Governor took questions, and was asked by a student about his thoughts on expanding the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis. This student was reported as having Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition which was already approved by the medical board but vetoed by the Governor previously in mid-2015. The Governor has twice previously stonewalled the medical board which recommended that her condition, along with a list of others, be added to the approved list.
Unfazed by these setbacks, this brave young woman chose to keep hope alive that her condition will one day be covered, and took her opportunity yesterday to ask Rauner his thoughts on expanding the list of approved conditions. The leader of our state gave a disappointingly tepid response by qualifying that he wants to take the program forward, “one step at a time and see how the process unfolds.” This hardly leaves one with a high level of confidence that he will choose to expand the list this time around. If you believe the Governor should approve the board’s recommendations, then contact him today and let him know how the citizens who he represents want him to act!
The courageous young woman that questioned Rauner, whose name is Emily, has written a blog of her own about this event. Please follow this link where you may have the opportunity to firsthand read her story. It is clear to me that Emily has the kind of patient determination which will help move our state into an enlightened understanding of medical cannabis. Emily declares “Governor Rauner can continue to walk, but when it comes to medical treatment and advancements, I choose to run.” Governor Rauner needs to get it moving, and catch up to Emily and our state’s medical board!
Do you think that a legislator should overrule a medical board when it comes to expanding the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis in Illinois? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
Posted In: News
Germany Announces New Medical Cannabis Program
Germany has joined the growing number of countries, states, cities, and towns across the world who choose to reconsider cannabis and grow their understanding of the plant, to acknowledge that cannabis has both medical value and appropriate medical use. German officials estimated that new federal legislation would be introduced in the spring of 2017, roughly a year from now. CNN reported Germany’s Federal Health Minister, Hermann Gröhe, spoke to the spirit of their motivations by saying, “Our goal is that seriously ill people are looked after to the best of our ability.” Unlike the current situation here in America, top level German officials are working to ensure that cannabis fits inside the existing health care system. To that effort, the medical cannabis legislation will include provisions to ensure this new medicine flows through existing channels in typical pharmacies, and insurance companies will cover patients’ costs.
Taking a strictly medical approach, the new program will have strict entry criteria intended to focus the implementation away from recreational use. One of these requirements from the German Health Ministry would be that the patients had already tried typical medical avenues, and are turning to medical cannabis only when they “have no therapeutic alternative.” The spirit of this requirement may be a result of residual fear on the topic of cannabis as medicine, as officials are trying to force patients to suffer through ineffective treatments to prove they need medical cannabis. By creating a medical cannabis program, Germany is acknowledging cannabis has medical use, and forcing patients to unnecessarily suffer only quells the fear of those who are still on the fence about medical cannabis. In typical politics it is said that half the pie is better than none of the pie. This first slice of the medical cannabis pie by Germany will surely be followed by more slices, as fear on the topic evaporates.
What do you think about Germany creating a medical cannabis program? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
Posted In: News
US Senate Appropriations Committee Passes Federal “Get Out Of Jail Free Card” Amendment For State Legal Medical Cannabis Business
Recently the medical cannabis industry was re-issued their yearly metaphorical “get out of jail free card”. This card is not as wonderful as it may at first seem via this classic Monopoly metaphor, as it only strictly offers protection to medical cannabis businesses operating precisely within compliance of state law. This metaphorical card comes from the Federal Congress, and was specifically was offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in the form of an amendment to the 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies Appropriations Act (CJS). Sen. Mikulski believes “the DEA has enough to do keeping illegal drugs out of our country at the border, rather than interfering where a state has determined through an open process that it wants to do these sales.” This amendment was approved by the US Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 21-8 (~73%). This amendment is precisely aimed at stopping the Federal Government from interfering with states’ own medical cannabis programs and “[…]prevent(ing) any of them (44 states and territories listed specifically including Illinois) from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” The CJS provides funding to main sections of the Federal government including $29.2 billion in funding for the Department of Justice (DOJ), under which the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) exists. This amendment is also known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, after its House sponsors Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA).
This amendment has been included in the past two CSJ funding bills, which were both passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. This great track record leads most to believe this year will be no different, and this protection for medical cannabis businesses will remain in place. In a legal sense, currently this get out of jail free card has a yearly expiration date, and must be renewed every year as part of the funding bill.
The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment has already had its trial-by-fire last year, in the DOJ’s case against Fairfax-based MAMM (Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana), and its founder Lynette Shaw. In this case the DOJ lost on its own home turf in a Federal court case, in which the presiding Judge Breyer ruled “the plain reading of [Congressional law] forbids the Department of Justice from enforcing this injunction against MAMM to the extent that MAMM operates in compliance with state California law.”(3) The DOJ was forced to lay off Shaw and remove its injunction preventing MAMM from operating, a glimmering crystal clear win for the medical cannabis movement. Shaw was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle as saying, “We won the war…and I’m the first POW to be released.” going on to conclude that “the case is precedent-setting. A federal judge has ruled Congressional law means what it was intended to mean — the war on medical cannabis is over.”
While this measure may be a significant win for the medical cannabis movement, the war is not entirely over. By having a measure which must be renewed yearly, the movement is left susceptible to a change in the political landscape. Please lobby your state and federal congressional representatives to take permanent action to ensure the medical cannabis industry can flourish.
Do you think Federal Government will go a step further and pass more sweeping reform legislation like the CARERS Act? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
Posted In: Cannabis Industry
President Obama Jokes About His Cannabis Use In White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech
This past weekend President Obama made a joke about his use of cannabis during his speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The President eloquently quipped: “The last time I was that high, I was trying to decide my major“, as a play on perspective about how high his approval ratings are currently. Cannabis seems to carry a negative stigma in American culture, which it is why it is so monumental for the President of the United States to even bring up the subject, let alone his personal use. It is painfully ironic for a powerful man like Obama to joke about breaking the law and evading arrest, while countless of his fellow Americans either rot in Federal jail or suffer lifelong repercussions from cannabis related Federal convictions. If Obama would have been caught and convicted, his political record would have been forever tarnished, and we likely would be living under a different President right now. If the famous 1930s propaganda film Reefer Madness would have been truth rather than fiction, Obama would have suffered the terrible eventuality of insanity and madness offered in the film as the only result of cannabis use.
This speech was not the first time the president has openly talked about his previous use of cannabis. In his 1995 memoir, “Dreams From My Father” he honestly shared about how he used cannabis during his high school and college years. He has said in other interviews that he regrets his use of cannabis during his youth, and would not want his daughters to use the substance. Overall the President has had an open-mind to change when it comes to Federal enforcement of cannabis laws, speaking in favor of honoring states’ legal medical cannabis programs. With political change usually coming slowly, these trickling drops of honesty and acceptance from the position of the President can only grow into a gushing river of change.
What do you think of President Obama’s joke? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
Posted In: Uncategorized
Illinois Dept. Of Public Health Board Reviewing 15 Conditions To Add To The Medical Cannabis Program
Today, May 2, 2016, in Springfield, IL the Illinois Department Of Public Health is holding a meeting to review the addition of fifteen conditions to the list of conditions approved for medical cannabis in Illinois. The medical cannabis program allows patients to recommend new conditions to add to the list of approved conditions twice a year. The board has recommended twice previously to add conditions to the list, but Governor Bruce Rauner has denied the board’s recommendations both times.
Illinois residents must file a petition prior to having the opportunity to have their request heard by the board and present their supporting technical evidence. While the outcome of these efforts today may follow the same path as the previous attempts, patient and consistent lobbying for change is what created the medical cannabis program in Illinois in the first place, and it is that same attitude which will expand the list of approved conditions.
Do you think Illinois should expand the list of approved conditions? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
The meeting agenda is available here.
Conditions for discussion:
Chronic Pain Due to Trauma
Chronic Pain Syndrome
Chronic Post-Operative Pain
Mellitus Intractable Pain
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
Posted In: News
Walgreens, The World’s Largest Pharmacy Chain, Openly Discusses Medical Cannabis With Its Patients
The powerful negative stigma surrounding cannabis, better known by its derogatory slang marijuana, keeps many from being open-minded on the topic. This stigma, which is woven into our native perception, comes from a lifetime worth of misinformation and fear-mongering. This is why it is somewhat surprising to see Walgreens, the world’s largest pharmacy chain, openly discussing medical cannabis on its Tumblr feed with its patients, in a recent public Tumblr posting. Not only did Walgreens weigh in on this highly controversial topic, they did so in a fair and balanced manner. Big Kudos to Walgreens for helping us all stay well by being educated on the facts of medical cannabis!
It is part of the human condition, to hear what we want to hear, out of what others choose to tell us. Once we understand and perceive something a certain way, we tend to build upon that foundation as we grow older. It is a true challenge to metaphorically tear down the way you understand something, and re-build a new understanding. For many of us, a radical remodel of our understanding of the facts of cannabis is necessary.
Walgreens enlisted a Chicago source for this Tumblr post, Dahlia Sultan PharmD, who is listed in the posting as Resident Pharmacist at Walgreens and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The author opens by recognizing that cannabis ”[…]has been used to relieve pain, digestive and psychological disorders for more than 3,000 years—but the efficacy, safety and legality of the drug are still widely debated.” The first section gives a quick mention of the two most well known cannabinoids, THC and CBD, as well as their most recognized medical applications. The posting goes on to introduce the system in the human body which interacts with cannabis and explain how “[c]annabinoids attach like a key to a lock to your body’s naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors, which make up the endocannabinoid (EC) system.” The endocannabinoid system can be said to like the conductor of an orchestra, and is noted as being understood in “current studies [which] have proven that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulation, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth and immune function.” The possible side effects are also discussed, including mention of potential impairment, giving the message a well-balanced tone. There is a quality review of the medical conditions which have been known to respond well to cannabis. The author does not touch on the idea of the entourage effect.
Many doctors have a serious problem with smoking any medicine, as smoking inherently has carcinogenic chemicals present, and can be an irritant to the respiratory system. The posting breaks down the stereotypical idea of cannabis by going beyond the classic of smoking joints, to note some of the possible avenues of today’s medical cannabis. The author accurately noted that there is a lack of FDA blessed research to help the medical field understand dosing. This is mainly because the US Government does not allow federally funded medical studies to research the benefits of cannabis, they are currently only allowed to research the harms. Doctors have no options for the standard prescription route, as they are expressly forbidden from writing prescriptions for schedule 1 drugs. Illinois medical cannabis patients receive a certification, not a prescription, which certifies to the state that the patient has one of the approved conditions.
The schedule 1 classification of cannabis would lead one to conclude that cannabis has no medical value, as this is a required characteristic that is directly written into the definition of schedule 1 itself. One of the most important facts about cannabis history to know is that cannabis was wrongly convicted as a schedule 1 drug by then President Nixon. In 1970 the controlled substances act was passed by the Federal Congress, and created what we know today as the drug scheduling system. As part of the bill, Congress created a commission to study cannabis and ensure that it would be properly classified as schedule one. This commission was known as the Shafer Commission, and released their report in 1972 after two years of exhaustive study. The most important fact to note is that the commission recommended the removal of cannabis from schedule 1, and furthermore the decriminalization of cannabis. Nixon did the exact opposite, and you can read the transcripts here, or listen for yourself here, to understand his motivation from his own words. It would also be quite interesting to note that synthetic THC (sold under several drug names, but mainly Marinol) is currently listed as a schedule 3. By definition schedule 3 drugs have medical value and appropriate medical use. This contradiction of classifications of cannabis (listed as both 1 and 3) speaks to the heart of our country’s misunderstanding of the facts of the medicine. This is why it is so amazing to see a world-wide conglomerate working to set the record straight on medical cannabis.
The most important message of the posting is, “If you’d like more information about the use of medical marijuana, talk with your doctor.” Currently in Illinois there is a bottleneck of patients trying to get their doctors to be open to medical cannabis as a new option. Please do not let fear keep you from starting the conversation about medical cannabis with your doctor.
Do you think Walgreens should sell medical cannabis? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
Posted In: News
White House Opens Its Doors To Cannabis Activists
This past Monday April 25th, at the direction of President Obama, White House officials directed two low-level staffers from the ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) to meet with members of DCMJ (DC Marijuana Justice) to discuss the group’s viewpoints and agenda. This meeting is a result of the group’s members effectively working as citizen lobbyists to shine the spotlight on the issue of cannabis de-scheduling. The group earned the listening ear of the Government in part by writing letters to the White House, but mainly by organizing a recent 4/2/16 smoke-out right on the front lawn of the White House. The highlight of the event was a 51-foot-long inflatable fake joint painted with the phrase “Obama, Deschedule Cannabis Now!” This epic gesture was surely hard for POTUS’s eye to miss when gazing out across the White House lawn from inside the Oval Office. The Washington Post wrote an article describing the event and the outcome eloquently in “Turns out, smoking pot outside the White House gets you invited inside.”
DCMJ is led by Adam Eidinger and Nikolas Schiller, and the group was instrumental in helping the people of Washington D.C. pass Ballot Initiative 71, which legalized personal possession and non-profit cannabis cultivation. Eidinger recently tweeted on 4/24/2016 an article about which he commented “I feel like @POTUS is talking to cannabis activists too.” In this article the President is directly speaking about the Black Lives Matter movement, but Eidinger believes that the President’s words also could apply to the movement to de-schedule cannabis. In the article Obama is quoted saying “The value of social movements and activism is to get you at the table, get you in the room, and then to start trying to figure out how is this problem going to be solved.” He goes on to describe how the process of change can be a show and laborious process, harping on the idea of compromise in good politics. There are more than a few metaphors about compromise in politics, mostly circling around baked goods like pies (or loaves in Obama’s case), stating that it is better to have half the item than none of the item. It is this positive perspective on incremental change which can help keep the heart of a cannabis activist going strong. Even small successes are still successes.
In the case of DCMJ, it is better to have a meeting with someone official-ish willing to listen, than no meeting at all. As High Times put it, “It’s a step in the right direction, at least.” In this case the meeting came about through a means which should inspire us all. Isaac Newton described to us the laws of physics, including the idea that an object at rest stays at rest. This law holds true not just in the physical world, but in the political world. The cannabis de-scheduling movement is a large complex issue with tremendous inertia, but as the saying goes, “many hands make light work.” It is only with the support of motivated individuals that the movement will gain forward motion.
During the meeting, observers noted that the Governmental Officials did not respond to questions or speak at all, but did take notes and offer smiling faces. While this may be disappointing to some, it is critical to stay positive and acknowledge that listening is the first step in a balanced discussion. Eidinger was interviewed by Leafly after the meeting and described the Governmental Officials himself by saying, “they both displayed thoughtful, sincere body language during the entire meeting[…] We got a lot of nods, a lot of smiles.” While this meeting may not be the monumental policy flip-flop event some hoped for, it is a far cry from the cold-shoulder countless cannabis activists have received from the Federal Government in the past. Unshaken in their concrete resolution, the DCMJ has sparked activists to keep pushing for the next meeting with the hashtag #WeNeedaHigherLevelMeeting. We all hope the Federal Government will continue the conversation with activists, and schedule another meeting with members from a higher level inside the Government, hopefully with POTUS himself (or herself, depending on the next election). Eidinger is hopeful for a large scale summit-like discussion in which, “they would invite people to the White House in a high-profile way and let the President just listen. He doesn’t even have to say anything, he just needs to listen. Because it’s going to take a year of dialogue at the federal level to figure out federal legalization.”
I recently found myself choosing to linger on a friend’s couch, watching a rerun of The Shawshank Redemption on cable, the soul-touching honesty of the movie making it difficult for me to tear myself away. In this great movie there is a character named Andy Dufresne, who single-handedly earns his prison a library by writing weekly letters to the state for six long years. It is a powerful moment in the movie, when Andy reads their reply which notes his persistence, saying that they hope the books and money the state will provide will “shut him up.” We could all learn a valuable life-lesson from Andy Dufresne: that persistence is the cornerstone of success. It is this same personal accountability that drives Eidinger, and hopefully you the reader of this blog post, to be inspired to take personal action to help move the cause of cannabis reform forward. When asked what his next steps were after the meeting yesterday, Eiginger stated simply “I’m going to write more letters.” Much like the patiently persistent Dufresne, Eidinger understands that one single person can make a difference in this world. All they have to do to succeed is to make the conscious choice to hope in the idea that their success is possible. After all, as they saying goes, “you can’t hit a home run, without swinging the bat.” A true activist, regardless of the cause, would view themselves not as a home run hitter, but as a professional bat swinger.
Do you think DCMJ and other cannabis activists will be able to influence the Obama administration to de-schedule cannabis before leaving office? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
Posted In: News
All About Kief
When examined under magnification, cannabis appears to be covered in small hair-like growths called trichomes. Some, but not all, of these trichomes will be a special type, called resin glands. These resin glands contain the majority of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. When they are broken off and collected via various solvent-less methods, they form a powder-like substance called kief. Kief is also sometimes referred to as “pollen” due to its obvious resemblance as a powder-like substance. However, kief is not pollen or involved in plant reproduction in any way.
Kief delivers a high THC potency without the use of chemical solvents to extract it. Concentrates like wax, shatter, and other oils, use a solvent that acts as a vessel to dissolve and absorb resin glands. Kief is produced by passing cannabis flowers through screens or filters. Cresco’s kief is collected via micron screen sifting. By using progressively finer screens, with smaller and smaller holes, the plant matter is agitated and resin glands are separated from the rest of the material. There are two different methods for collecting trichomes – wet and dry. Wet is known as bubble hash, while dry is known as dry sift. Each method produces a kief that is slightly different in smell, taste, flavor, and concentration of cannabinoids. The dry method is known for a more flavorful and deeper tasting product, as the water does not dissolve away terpenes and flavonoids. The wet method typically yields a higher THC potency, but removes a lot of the plant matter and water soluble terpenes that give the product its flavor. In both the dry and wet processes cold temperature is applied, to freeze and stiffen the flower’s resin glands. When the frozen plant matter is agitated, the resin glands break off easily. Cresco produces dry and wet solvent-less extracts, and uses a dry sift process to collect kief. The kief is then cured for two to three weeks before it is evaluated using a microscope. If it exhibits the right color, texture, aroma and moisture content, it will be packaged by hand and considered ready for sale.
Kief is literally cannabinoid powder. It can increase the effectiveness of any strain of cannabis with one little sprinkle. Kief gives you the ability to increase the dosage level when your pain is at its worst, without requiring you to consume a significantly larger amount of cannabis. When kief is consumed (whether it be smoked, vaped or ingested) it can be a super extra strength medication for those particularly painful moments.
Posted In: Science
The Different Methods Of Cannabis Ingestion
Ingestion is one of the many avenues of consumption for medical cannabis, and is one of the most discreet and effective methods available to patients. Without the telltale smoke, odor, and evidentiary ash, patients can intake the medicine they direly need without infringing on the social space of others. Steve DeAngelo discusses his three questions to help an individual evaluate their use of cannabis as a wellness product in his new book The Cannabis Manifesto. Question number three asks the user if their consumption will negatively impact someone around them. Regardless the specific vessel, ingestion will not infringe on any adjacent social spaces. Ingestion of cannabis can be accomplished by adding cannabis to virtually any of the typically ingested retail edible products. Including but not limited to: baked goods, snacks, drinks, tinctures, lozenges, soups, candy, and even gum. Some patients may not be able to smoke at all due to their illness directly, or the fact that they are placed on supplemental oxygen. Furthermore, ingestion removes the carcinogenic aspect of smoke, which is harmful to a patient’s lungs. Ingestion offers an avenue more in line with most doctors’ oath of “do no harm”.
Ingestion can be a tricky avenue for first time consumers of cannabis. This is because the effects of ingestion take so long to be felt, and are more intense as compared with smoking or vaping. It could be better for first time users of cannabis to choose smoking or vaporization, simply because the perceived effects are nearly instantaneous. The quick onset can allow a user to more easily perceive, and then control, their level of medication. Chris Goldstein puts it so eloquently when he says “Newbies, stick with doobies”.
Ingestion can happen via two methods: sublingually orally inside the mouth, or gastrointestinally inside the digestive tract, but can also happen via both methods in a hybrid situation. Medicine which is chewed and swallowed, for example cookies or brownies, will be absorbed gastrointestinally. Medicine which is held in the mouth or applied under the tongue, for example gum, or drops of an oil or tincture, will instead be absorbed sublingually. In each of these two methods the onset and the duration of the effects will be different. Gastrointestinal absorption will be felt by the patient typically from 1-2 hours, and the effects last from 4-8 hours. Sublingual absorption will be felt by the patient typically from 5-30 minutes, and the effects last from 2-4 hours. An example of a hybrid absorption situation would be a food item which is held in the mouth, but is swallowed as it melts, like a sucker.
It is important to note that when THC is absorbed through ingestion, it passes through the liver, which metabolizes delta-9 THC into 11-hydroxy THC, the latter being 3-4 times more potent than the former and better at crossing the blood-brain barrier. With this general mathematical relation, it can be understood why smoking and ingesting the same amount in mg of THC can have vastly different effect on the patient.
Most edible preparations of cannabis will include the use of heat during the manufacturing process. This is important to note because the heat will decarboxylate the acidic cannabinoids and increase the bioavailability of the chemicals. The natural form of THC in the plant is found with an additional airplane-style “remove before flight” tear away tail, referenced as the “acidic” or “-a” form as THC-A and CBD-A. The “-A” must be removed for the psychoactive effects of THC to be felt by the patient. It may come as a surprise to many, but simply chowing down on some flower cannabis straight out of the bag will not lead to a strong psychoactive high. This is because the flower has not been heated and “decarbed”. While the acidic form of the molecule is not psychoactive, but still believed to hold medicinal value. The cannabis juicing movement believes in the medical value of the whole plant. By removing heat from the equation, there is no modifications to the natural terpenes, flavonoids, proteins, and the ideal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Typically only cannabis juices and alcohol based tinctures are prepared without the use of heat. Those familiar with the process of making homemade cannabis edibles know that decarboxylation is a key step prior to making your most effective medicated canna-oil or canna-butter. When “de-carbed” oil or butter is used to make edibles, the cannabinoids will be in their famous forms as straight THC and CBD, without the “-A” modifying the molecule.
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is another, less widely known, form of cannabis for ingestion. This form is special, as it is a whole plant extract, and like juicing, will as a result allow for the full entourage effect in the patient’s system. RSO is rumored to be, in underground medical circles, a cure for cancer. While there have been a parade of anecdotal cases to support Rick’s claim, the claim that RSO can cure cancer has not been independently verified via certified double-blind scientific trials. It is an quite interesting coincidence to observe that the United States Governmental body, National Cancer Institute (NCI), states on its website “Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory” (11th bulleted point down in the list). NCI stops short of making the conclusion that cannabis kills cancer in humans, but only notes the effect occurring “in the laboratory”.
Ingestion is especially well-paired with those patients who are looking to medicate the gastrointestinal tract directly, as the case with Crohn’s disease or other gastrointestinal diseases and disorders. By directly applying the medicine to the GI tract, the medicine is not taking the “long route” through the lungs and the bloodstream, but can instead interact with the patient’s tract directly. Several factors can influence the rate and at which uptake absorption of the cannabinoids occurs inside the GI tract, including the amount of overall food present in the tract, and the type of edible preparation.
It is worthwhile to point out that concentrates, such as shatter and wax, are not intended to be ingested directly. Butane hash oil (BHO) is similar to RSO, but made with butane in place of alcohol. This method typically also does not include heat, as the butane evaporates off at room temperature. Ingestion of BHO would not be similar to RSO, as BHO has not been ‘decarbed’, and therefore will be less psychoactive when ingested. BHO is usually smoked or vaporized, both methods ‘decarb’ the product as it is heated during the process. It is not recommended to eat concentrates as there is likely residual solvent inside the product, especially if it was sourced illegally. When illegal concentrates are produced, there is a high likelihood that residual solvent, or contaminants present in the solvent used, will remain in the final product. These unwanted chemicals will cause the user to become sick when ingested. The method of extraction preferred in the cannabis industry is supercritical fluid CO2 closed-loop extraction. This method allows for the best control and end product, and can be adjusted to remove a specific part of the plant while leaving others behind. This is the method chosen by most professional cannabis kitchens, as it avoids the possibility of solvent aftertaste in professional cannabis edibles because there is virtually no residual solvent. Cresco Labs partnered with Mindy Segal, who teamed up to make the best possible edibles using supercritical fluid CO2 closed-loop extraction. This method uses pressure to put CO2 into a supercritical hybrid-gas-liquid state, where it “diffuses through solids like a gas but dissolves compounds like a liquid”.
It is important when taking any medicine for the first time, for a patient to exercise a raised level of caution, and as the saying goes “start low and go slow”. Another cautionary saying goes “you can always eat more, but you can eat less”. If the level of perceived effects were to be quantitatively rated from one to ten, it is highly recommended that a patient aim to land at a level one their first time medicating. If as a patient you are barely able to feel the effects your first time medicating via ingestion, that is a great thing, and you have chosen the best route. Keep in mind, a patient may possibly have some anxiety or fear of the unknown their first time medicating via ingestion, but especially if it is their first experience with cannabis ever. Couple a slight anxiety with a high dosage of THC, and the patient is likely to experience a paranoid state. Raphael Mechoulam, the scientist who first isolated and discovered the molecule delta-9-THC, found out first hand during his experiment that cannabis affects everyone differently (please watch this entire video after reading this article). So if a patient is to start out at a level one, and work up through the levels of perceived effects from there, they will be able to learn to match their medical condition with the proper level of medication, without experiencing unwanted anxiety-like side effects.
Cannabis is not allopathic, but biphasic, meaning the effect is not a linear progression. A small dose of THC will make a patient feel euphoric and hungry, but a large dose will inversely make the same patient feel anxious and not hungry. This is inverse to a typical allopathic understanding of a drug, where a single dose has an measured effect, and ten doses would have ten times the same measured effect. Even long-time patients with a high tolerance to smoking, can be overwhelmed by their medication when trying ingestion for the first time. Even patients who have mediated via ingestion for a long time period could experience unwanted side effects if dosing is not carefully watched, and they move into the far side of the biphasic effect.
If you clicked the “his experiments” link above, and watched the video about Mechoulam’s self-testing of cannabinoids, then you saw in his experiment each subject ingested 10mg of THC. In the cannabis industry a 10mg dose is considered a single dose. It is crucial that a patient clearly and specifically understands the amount of THC in an edible, the plant’s only psychoactive cannabinoid, before ingesting the medicated item. This can be especially challenging for patients who make their own, or consume others homemade medicated edibles. It is possible the amount of CBD will also be labeled, or even be the main cannabinoid. The presence of CBD in conjunction with CBD is thought to buffer the effect of THC, and keep the patient from feeling an overwhelming mental effect. It is especially difficult to quantify the THC amount in a homemade item because it is mainly a function of the potency of the source cannabis. THC percentages can range as much as 1-30%, resulting in a vastly varying amount of mg of THC per one gram of cannabis. Furthermore, concentrate extraction can be done with flowers, or also from the “scrap” trimmings and leaves, with less potency via the second method. Edible cannabis preparations found in legal retail stores are required by law to be clearly labeled and consistently dosed, regardless of the source material and the extraction process. It is the sole responsibility of the patient to heed caution, follow recommendations, start slow, and dose low.
While an overdose death from THC or any cannabinoids may be impossible, it is possible for patients to feel negative side effects like extreme anxiety or paranoia, and fluctuations in cardiovascular function, which can exacerbate an already nervous patient. Patients can panic when they feel an overwhelming effect, leading some to hospital visits by patients feeling as though they may die. Unlike opioids, it is not possible for cannabis to be fatal, even in large doses. This is due to the fact that there are no CB1 receptors in the brainstem, where automatic body functions are managed. A person would need to consume 1,500lbs of cannabis in 15 minutes in order to die from overdose. This is physically impossible, as 1,500lbs of cannabis would fill a dump truck, and this leads the scientific community to conclude an overdose death is not possible. In all of recorded history, there has not been a single case of a cannabis overdose fatality.
Colorado made prompt updates to their laws regulating cannabis edibles dosing and packaging after a first-time consumer of edibles accidentally fell to his death while having a panicked reaction. After the investigation, it was discovered this was as a result of the individual not following the dosing recommendations from the dispensary where the edibles were procured. With quickness rarely seen in government, the state of Colorado required cannabis edibles manufacturers, via new regulations, to modify the way in which they packaged edibles. The goal was to provide consumers a situation in which they can not consume multiple dosages of THC in a single serving edible. Simply put, it is hard to eat ⅙ of a delicious cookie. If the effects of ingestion were as quick as with smoking, then the risk of over medicating would be much lower. Due to the fact that the effects via ingestion can take so long to be felt, the inexperienced or first time user may attempt to speed up the perception of felt effects by ingesting more product, which results in a longer and stronger effect, but not quicker.
Here is a summarized list of advice when it comes to cannabis ingestion:
- Watch the mg of THC carefully!
- The simplest comparison would be to the proof or ABV% stated on bottles of alcohol. A new consumer would be ill advised to consume a high proof or high percentage ABV beverage quickly. Similarly a new consumer of cannabis edibles needs to be personally responsible to ensure they understand and control their consumption of THC, regardless of the avenue of ingestion.
- Aim to land on a level 1 for your first time ingesting, or anytime you consume someone’s homemade edibles for the first time, and then work up from there.
- Start low, and go slow!
- You can always eat more, but you can’t eat less!
- Wait a minimum of 3 hours after ingesting cannabis before concluding how much effect you feel from it, and deciding to ingest more.
- When making homemade medicated edibles ALWAYS clearly label them!
- Medicated items for ingestion should be stored with as much consideration and protection as other items prohibited for children.
- Under lock and key!
- Do not consume medicated edibles on an empty stomach.
- Most oral medications would have in their included paper insert the recommendation to not take the medicine on an empty stomach. The same advice goes for medicated edibles, as an empty stomach would allow for an extremely high rate of absorption uptake, potentially resulting in the patient feeling the effect too strongly.
- Do not mix alcohol and cannabis edibles.
- Especially for first time users of either.
Posted In: Science
What Would Happen if the DEA Reschedules Cannabis This Year?
The DEA will announce whether or not they will reschedule cannabis by “sometime mid-year” from its current Schedule I status to something else. That means the future of cannabis on a federal level could be decided as soon as tomorrow and as late as mid-summer.
This major decision by the DEA, likely influenced by the FDA’s recommendation, involves a thorough process and the insight of NIDA and the CDC in addition to the FDA. While the DEA’s decision and potential rescheduling has garnered plenty of media attention, there hasn’t been enough discussion on exactly what would happen if the DEA does in fact reschedule marijuana.
The pipe dream for cannabis activists and business owners would be for the DEA to simply de-schedule cannabis, thus decriminalizing and liberating the plant. That won’t happen. The more likely scenario will see the DEA rescheduling cannabis from its current Schedule I status to a Schedule II status.
Here’s what that very possible outcome of rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II status would accomplish:
1) Accepted Medical Use & Research: Cannabis’ current Schedule I status does not make it easy and in most cases even possible for researchers to study the marijuana plant’s medical value (particularly with human and not rodent test subjects). Hence, the viable medical research and studies are largely done by private universities aside from the federal government’s grow operation in Mississippi. If cannabis becomes Schedule II, that key unlocks the door for more medical research and studies via legitimate scientific resources. Currently, doctors must go through a thorough process to obtain “special licensing from the DEA” which includes an on-site, “background visit.” The DEA does not hand out those licenses easily. This scheduling change would allow physicians and researchers much easier pipelines to studying the effects of cannabis on different medical conditions. And that could unlock insight into the over 60 compounds in cannabis that go way beyond THC and CBD–compounds which have currently unknown effects. Additionally, the supply of marijuana could come from private sources and a variety of medical marijuana states–so more genetics would be studied.
2) New Company: Along with that medical distinction, cannabis would consequentially find itself associated with less onerous drugs. Rather than grouped with other Schedule I drugs, cannabis would share classification with current Schedule II drugs. That means, on a basic level, that cannabis wouldn’t be considered on the same playing field as Schedule II drugs that include Hallucinogenics (LSD, Peyote, Mescaline, etc.), Opioids, and Opium Derivatives (Heroin). Instead, cannabis would be categorized as a Schedule II drug with known medical use just like Codeine, Morphine, Opium, Cocaine, and other drugs. While surprising that those aforementioned drugs have “known medical use”, their current classification highlights just how bizarre marijuana’s current scheduling is. Fortunately, should this go through, cannabis will no longer be spoken of in the same breath as Heroin.
3) Open the Banks: Despite being medically legal in 23 states (plus D.C.) and legal in four others (plus D.C.) and despite being a $5 billion legal industry, cannabis businesses do not have access to traditional banking services. Thus, marijuana remains a cash business that eschews credit cards. That means cannabis businesses, dispensaries specifically, are at high-risk. The banking issue represents a murky dilemma that some pro-cannabis Senators have tried to solve this riddle by way of a marijuana banking bill. They have failed, in large part, because cannabis is a Schedule I drug. That classification alone blocks the government from seriously considering allowing federal banks to work with cannabis businesses. Moving cannabis away from its nasty association with Heroin and associating it with regulated drugs like Codeine could swing the scales of justice. Last month, Oregon became the first state to pass a banking bill protecting in-state banks that deal with cannabis businesses. The rescheduling of cannabis could allow this to happen not just in state, but on a federal level.
4) FDA Approval: As noted, the FDA is already urging the DEA to make this demonstrative move. Reading between the lines, that’s because marijuana cannot and will not become an FDA approved drug until it moves to Schedule II status. The FDA currently states that while cannabis may indeed have medical value and while it knows many people seek the drug’s approval, there’s not enough scientific research and evidence to approve the drug. As aforementioned, moving cannabis to Schedule II status would vastly increase the amount of research and human studies done with medical cannabis. That step would then pave the way for the FDA to receive enough viable, empirical evidence that cannabis can be an FDA approved drug. Naturally, the arduous process of FDA approval relates directly from the DEA. This is how that process works:
The FDA reviews the IND application and the research protocol submitted by the applicant.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reviews the registration application filed by the researcher.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) within the National Institutes of Health operates pursuant to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. NIDA has been designated the responsible agency to supply research-grade marijuana to researchers.
Given the FDA’s decision to ask the DEA to consider this move, it seems likely that the FDA would, once enough data presents itself, ultimately approve cannabis and its derivatives.
5) The End of Prohibition: All of the aforementioned factors would pave the way for the penultimate marijuana move: federal decriminalization and/or legalization. It may take five years. It may take 10 years. It may take 20 years. But if marijuana gets rescheduled, federal legislators will have no choice but to seriously consider legalization. That would mean marijuana could, potentially, cross state lines, be sold online, and be treated like the normalized, modern medical industry it has the wherewithal to be. Furthermore, the end of prohibition and the decriminalization of cannabis would mean no one would senselessly go to jail for selling or smoking this divergent plant. Likewise, police forces and the judicial system would no longer use valuable time and money on persecuting cannabis users and believers. We might not see people dancing and smoking in the streets when this day comes, but it will feel like that on the inside.
Of course, all of this could simply go up in smoke should the DEA decide to stay put. So stay tuned!
Posted In: News