Cannabis & Depression: Studies Suggest Marijuana Can Help

There’s no denying that life, with its unpredictable twists and turns, can be a bit overwhelming a lot of the time. Though many people don’t like to talk about it, depression has become a common ailment among both teens and adults, with more than 300 million people affected by it worldwide. Some people have found ways to cope and manage depression through exercise, diet, self-care, therapy, prescription pills or other alternatives that seem to lighten the load. But for others, these methods might be helpful but they still struggle with consistent and intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, chronic fatigue, loss of interest and low self-esteem.

Some studies have shown that cannabis can effectively reduce some of the symptoms of depression. One study recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders suggests that smoking cannabis can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. It also suggests that high-CBD/low-THC strains were most effective among their participants. The study specifically looked at the effects of smoked cannabis.

Researchers found that after just two puffs, participants began to feel relief from symptoms of depression and after 10 puffs, they could feel their stress levels drop.

If smoking is not an option for you due to health reasons, your living situation or otherwise, you can still utilize cannabis in other ways, such as through edibles or tinctures, if you find it helps with your depression. Because depression can vary from moderate to severe, each approach will be different but should consider your tolerance, lifestyle and how you want to feel before you start using cannabis as a remedy. As the study suggests, strains that are high in CBD and low in THC may provide relief, but you may consider looking into the terpene profile of particular strains when you are deciding what will be best for you. Strains that are high in linalool or myrcene may help you feel calmed and relaxed, while strains with limonene can help boost your mood and increase energy.

The study suggests that low amounts of cannabis can be helpful with depression, so microdosing appears as if it could also be an option if you are interested in experiencing some relief without any strong intoxicating side-effects. Microdosing — or utilizing small amounts of THC, usually around 2.5 mg of THC or lower — has been shown to provide benefits that can be helpful in relieving some of the root problems that can lead to depression, such as stress, anxiety, insomnia and isolation. Because it is hard to tell how much THC you’re inhaling when smoking, microdosing with tinctures, oils and edibles is best. Medical marijuana doctors usually recommend starting with one dose per day and then gauging how you feel after a few days. If needed, increase to taking microdoses twice a day. Continue to monitor how you feel and adjust as necessary.

If you experience body aches or tension related to depression, you can also try using an infused topical. There are creams, lotions, salves and even bath salts that you can use to relieve the discomfort. You can feel free to use them daily without any psychoactive effects whatsoever.

It’s important to note that the study also suggests that cannabis may be best as a short-term treatment, so it may be a good idea to employ other strategies as a part of your long-term treatment. Depression is a serious condition that may require medical treatment and supervision, and relying on self-medication isn’t always effective. Cannabis is just one resource of many for treating depression. It can be useful, but don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you are not experiencing relief from your symptoms or find that they are getting worse.

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Indica and Sativa Labels Can’t Be Trusted, Study Indicates

Most indica and sativa labels on cannabis are incorrect, results from a new analysis show. Cultivars are generally sold as indica, sativa or hybrid of the two, promising energizing or calming effects, but this classification system probably amounts to nothing more than a trend that refuses to die. 

A new study published October 14 in Nature Plants re-analyzed nearly 300 samples of cannabis, and found surprising results. Researchers from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada joined a team from Wageningen University & Research institute in the Netherlands to process the data.

Researchers gathered and analyzed 297 samples, which were previously quantified for terpene and cannabinoid content, as well as genotyped for over 100,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms. The results indicated that sativa- and indica-labeled samples were “genetically indistinct” on a genome-wide scale. 

“Growers worldwide label their cannabis strains quite subjectively with the terms ‘Indica’ and ‘Sativa.’ There’s nothing scientific about that. Unfortunately, retailers and consumers cannot rely on the labels that are stuck to the jars,” said Dr. Sean Myles, Associate Professor at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture and lead author of the study. “There is now a broad scientific consensus that the current use of the Indica and Sativa labeling is misleading: these labels do not provide reliable information about the genetic or chemical makeup of the plant.”

Check Terps Instead for Effects

While labeling cannabis as sativa or indica is a poor and unscientific way to categorize cannabis, researchers noted that labeling cannabis by certain terpenes is probably a better way.

“Our results demonstrate that the Sativa–Indica scale currently used to label Cannabis poorly captures overall genomic and metabolomic variation,” researchers wrote. “Cannabis labeling is instead probably driven primarily by a small number of key terpenes whose concentrations contribute to the characteristic aromas commonly associated with Sativa and Indica and whose variation we genetically mapped to tandem arrays of terpene synthase genes on chromosomes 5 and 6.” 

Researchers noted more of a correlation between terpenes and labels. Myrcene, as well as three sesquiterpenes (guaiol, β-eudesmol and γ-eudesmol) were strongly associated with “indica” labels, while bergamotene and farnesene were strongly associated with “sativa” labels.

The sativa and indica labeling might have little correlation with the cultivars’ genetic background and origin.

The researchers went further to the root cause of the confusion: “We hypothesize that Cannabis growers and breeders have been assigning labels to cultivars primarily on the basis of aroma profiles and purported effects, rather than genetic ancestry or overall chemical similarity.” 

Most Cannabis is Hybrid

Preserved landrace strains grown and stabilized naturally in isolated areas such as Durban Poison or Acapulco Gold might have a better chance at being a pure sativa, or an Afghani landrace for a more pure indica. Some have been preserved for generations. But mass cross-pollination makes it much more likely to come across hybrids in retail these days.

In 1753, all varieties of cannabis were defined Cannabis sativa, per Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus’ identification. Then came along biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1785, who identified Cannabis indica. Finally Russian botanist D. E. Janischewsky identified Cannabis ruderalis in 1924. But this classification system is based entirely upon physical attributes of phenotypes such as shape, leaf formation, thickness, etc.—not based on effects. 

That said, cannabis effects can’t be defined by simply sativa or indica—nor are those type of labels likely to be scientific. In addition, many sativas can cause drowsiness, defying its categorization, and vice-versa with energizing indicas. Judging cannabis potency based purely on delta-9 THC content is also misleading.

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Zkittlez: The Unique Cannabis Strain That Lets You Taste the Rainbow

Gobs of aroma and flavor await openers of bags of Zkittlez — one of America’s most trending, flavorful, fragrant and award-winning cannabis strains.

Zkittlez surfaced slowly over the last five years, originating from a single garden in the West Coast’s most dominant farm — 3rd Gen Fam, winners of 38 awards, including Grand Prize of Chalice California for their Zkittlez rosin processed by Moonshine Melts.

The lovely, pungent, balanced indica hybrid strain began when the 3rd Gen Fam gifted “Brandon” a cut of Zkittlez, which he took and ran with.

It was a cross of a primal grape-flavored strain and another local grapefruit-tasting strain, as well as likely something with fuel in it. Zkittlez lacked bag appeal, but more than made up for it with gobs of tropical candy terps and wholesome, positive effects.

“When we first introduced it to people, we could only do it in joints and pass it around to our friends,” Brandon said. “If they were to see the jar, they would be dogging us right away. It was a blessing and a curse. When we passed it to [rapper, businessman] Berner, we couldn’t show him — it was just too ugly.” 

Zkittlez demonstrates how a high-THC count alone cannot match copious terpenes— which contribute to an ‘entourage effect’ far bigger than higher-THC-testing flowers. If THC is the engine, terpenes are the wheels.

Zkittlez leaves a strong impact on people who try it. Exhibit A: seven awards won in four weeks, including the title belt in the World Secret Cup with an old school Zkittlez bubble hash. 

“[Zkittles] handles like a beauty —it’s enjoyable no matter what… but I’m really proud of that one,” Brandon said. “That made me feel really good. The solventless revolution is here.” 

Zkittlez genetics are now available through the Fam’s “Dying Breed Seeds” label. And look out for a new line of exotics with Berner, under the “Connoisseur Union” brand — including Rose, Dragonfruit and The Lemonge.

Look

Zkittlez looks like an indica hybrid — with its dense, moderate-to-small size and rounded density. It features copious pistils, which are reddish brown, gold and blond over a medium-green to lime-green color.

Smell

Cannabis aficionados love this strain for its huge nose, which isn’t loud like gasoline, but more thick and syrupy sweet. It’s the precise ratio of linalool (floral), humulene (hops), limonene (lemons), myrcene (perfume), pinene (pine), nerolidol (orange) and terpinolene (fuel) that creates the inviting aroma and strong yet balanced effects.

Feel

Zkittlez feels moderately dense and powdery with THC resin as opposed to sticky. Its fused leaves break apart nice and chewy rather than locking the grinder. Great for Js, bowls, vapes — you name it.

Taste

That huge terpene load translates into huge tastes as well — a rainbow gobstopper of sugary orange and pine, with a floral-fuel bite, then orange again.

Effect

Fast onset, physical relaxation and mental stress relief with neither couch-lock nor raciness.

Condition

Indica hybrids are often used by patients managing anxiety and chronic stress, as well as depression. Many report it can also relieve pain and nausea. Outdoor versions of Zkittlez are the perfect accompaniment to inner-tubing a lazy river. It’s too enjoyable to ruin on hard work. It’s brunch weed, or back-from-the-club weed. Not go-to-the-club weed. You’re going to be content, so don’t put too much on the agenda. Go see a chill movie, or just Netflix and chill.

Zkittlez fast facts:

  • Breeder: 3rd Gen Fam/Terp Hogz
  • Grown by: various
  • Type: Indica hybrid
  • Genetics: Original Dallas Grape Ape X Humboldt Grapefruit X [undisclosed]
  • Flowering: 56 -63 days
  • Yield: High

Originally published in issue 22 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, have you tried Zkittles?

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How mango, black pepper, and tea can alter your cannabis experience

There are certain foods that alter the effects of cannabis, ultimately changing the sensation of the drug. Depending on what you’re feeling and your desired outcome, this could be either good or bad. With the right tools, you can control the effect that cannabis can have on your system and ultimately steer the course of […]

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Season 2 Ask an Expert Encore: Building Cannabinoids with Dr Markus Roggen

Welcome to the Season 2 Ask an Expert Encore, Building Cannabinoids with Dr Markus Roggen. Watch Dr. Markus play with a molecular kit and get ready to learn something because after all, there’s nothing like a visual. With the molecule in front of you, it’s easy to understand concepts such as: The structural makeup of […]

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The Art of Terpene Recreation: Replicating Cannabis Strain Profiles

While cannabis strains are typically praised for the strength and effects of their cannabinoids, a growing number of connoisseurs and industry pros alike are recognizing that a strain’s terpene profile can be of equal import.

Terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in all plants, give each strain its particular taste and scent. A cannabis plant can contain over 100 different terpenes, and the particular balance of each helps set it apart from its peers. As cannabis moves closer to the mainstream, more consumers are becoming curious about terpene profiles — particularly those of legendary strains like Jack Herer and Pineapple Express. Luckily, a range of products have appeared on the scene to help people get a taste of the OGs.

(Re)making the Magic Happen

Lock & Key Remedies, in the industrial neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is one of these terpene-focused businesses looking at strain recreation. The company, co-founded by industry veterans Oleg MaryAces and Andres Moreira, has developed a series of CBD vape cartridges that try and recreate the terpene profiles of four iconic strains: Girl Scout Cookies, Cherry Pie, Tangie and Blue Dream. When I visited the company’s office on a gray morning this January, it quickly became clear that Lock & Key’s vision is rooted in a love both for precise science and cannabis itself.

The company’s name, for instance, refers to the way compounds interlock with each other on a cellular level. And Lock & Key uses pre-existing lab reports of various strain profiles as launching-off points for developing their own CBD alternatives. Moreira, who heads the company’s on-site lab, went through a dozen trials of each formulation before sending them to market.

Maryasis was eager to explain terpenes’ myriad health benefits to me, which he did in a manner that recalled a mad scientist and a gourmand chef in equal measure. The terpene myrcene, for instance, has a sedative effect, he says. Furthermore, Maryasis told me, “it has the superpower of helping the blood brain barrier, which magnifies all other terpenes’ access to the brain.” Limonene, which features more prominently in the Tangie strain, has a more citrusy taste. But too much, Maryasis cautioned, “wouldn’t be pleasant, even if you like citrus.”

He pointed out that even trace amounts of various terpenes can have an outsized influence on a plant’s aroma. “The synergistic effects cannot be overstated,” he said, citing sweet orange and grapefruit as an example: “[Their terpene profiles are roughly only 3 percent different], but it changes everything about them.”

Twisting Terps Into Innovation

Other terpene-minded businesses have taken a different approach: Blue River Terpenes, in Oakland, California, for instance, borrowed inspiration from the fragrance industry to develop a line of cannabinoid-free versions of some top-shelf strains including Cookies and Wakanda Grapes (and sells them at top-shelf prices) that can be applied to the skin or even added to food. The company’s CEO Tony Verzura developed a modified vapor vacuum distillation system that, as Leafly pointed out, is capable of extracting terpenes “by using only nitrogen, oxygen, and reverse osmosis (or RO) water.”

Finding the middle ground between these two companies, the Colorado-based company Evolab adds “FreshTerps” extracts to their various products in various proportions. Their tagline reads: “Sommeliers have wine collections. Cannabis connoisseurs have FreshTerps.”

The key behind all of these products is the balance of the various terpenes; Maryasis referred to it as their “special sauce,” and was reluctant to divulge even the most general information about their specific ratios. Yet their tight-lipped approach reinforces the innovative nature of terpene science, which will only become more exciting as the industry marches forward.

While Lock & Key Remedies uses plant-derived terpenes and Blue River Terpenes uses cannabis-derived terpenes, other companies are also concocting strain profiles using synthetic terpenes. The science is still early on the medical effects of vaping terpenes, but as with most cannabis products, it’s best to know where the compounds you’re consuming come from.

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5 Herbal Blends to Pair with Your Cannabis

People have been using plants and herbs casually and medicinally since the beginning of time to improve the quality of their lives. Just like cannabis, different herbs each have their own unique flavor profiles, distinct fragrances and healing properties that can boost your mood, give you some energy, help you focus, ease pain or reduce stress. Combining herbs with cannabis to create a customized herbal blend gives you an opportunity to introduce additional healing compounds into your sessions without missing out on the high.

There’s no right or wrong way to create and enjoy an herbal blend. They can be smoked in whatever way you prefer whether it’s rolled up, in a bowl, in a bong or in a vape. You can choose any herb you want and pair it with whatever strain you want, but it’s cool to try to pair strains and herbs based on terpenes, flavors or effects.

You just have to make sure that whatever herb you’re choosing is safe to be inhaled and that you make it a priority to get the highest quality (preferably organic) option that’s available. Each herb can be used in any ratio you desire (heavy on the cannabis or heavy on the herbs) but it’s best to put all of it into a grinder to evenly mix everything together before smoking for the best flavor and so that it burns well.

Try starting out with some of these herbal blends and then branch out to make your own after you get the hang of it.

Lavender & Chamomile

If you’re feeling too overwhelmed to get to sleep, both of these herbs can help soothe the nervous system and encourage your body to rest. Lavender has a terpene called linalool in it that is known for its sedative properties that can reduce stress, anxiety and feelings of depression. Try pairing this blend with an indica to compliment the flavors of the herbs and help ease you into deeper relaxation.

Peppermint & White Sage

This refreshing blend would work well with an energizing sativa to enhance the mood-boosting effects of peppermint and sage. Both herbs can help improve digestive problems like a stomach ache or gas as well as respiratory issues like congestion. Sage is also known to improve memory function, so it might be able to you keep your focus during a day.

Rose & Jasmine Blossom

Fans of strains that smell and taste floral will find these two flowers make a good match with their strain of choice. Jasmine has a light, pleasant essence that compliments the roses that have geraniol in them which is known to be a natural antioxidant that has anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties. Find a fruity or berry strain that will fit well with the sweet flavor profile.

Blue Lotus & Damiana

Damiana is considered a natural aphrodisiac that helps increase arousal while blue lotus is often attributed to pleasant dreaminess that makes you feel deeply relaxed. Both of these herbs are known to have calming, sedative properties that produce a very mild euphoria and would work well with a hybrid strain that offers a balanced buzz. Some people report having vivid dreams after smoking blue lotus.

Eucalyptus & Mullein

Though sometimes smoking is the last thing you feel like doing when you’re congested and not feeling well, this combo can help with breathing issues and encourage what’s referred to as “effective coughing” as an expectorant. Eucalyptus has a terpene called eucalyptol in it which has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anti-fungal properties as well as myrcene which is antibiotic, antimutagenic and an effective muscle relaxant. Use this blend when you need a powerful lung cleanser.

TELL US, have you ever thought about blending cannabis with other herbs?

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Chocolope: This Potent Strain Provides a Contented Happiness

Breaking open a Chocolope flower brings up memories of a summer afternoon, the smell of sunkissed blackberries and their entangled vines growing slightly overripe in the late August heat. While the strain itself doesn’t have a distinct berry aroma, a subtle sweetness is blanketed by a familiar herbal warmth.

Lightened by a pepper-like sharpness, the fragrance of this strain is inviting. Upon looking at the flower, it’s amazing that this simple herb can project such an attention-grabbing aroma. The bud features unassuming pine-tree shape and an airy texture, a surprising vehicle for thousands of glittering resin glands. Yet, it is this welcoming scent that provides the first glimpse into the seductive nature of Chocolope.

The Chocolope High

Chocolope provides a contented kind of happiness. Far from the zippy shot of espresso it is made out to be, this cannabis plant presents a subtle boost of mental energy in a calm and peaceful manner.

This gentle awakening makes the plant a great selection for those hoping to mindfully work through a daytime project. However, the herb also has a silly side. Chocolope offers a smooth cocktail-bar attitude that can mellow just about anyone’s day.

As with all cannabis strains, however, the overall experience this plant inspires is influenced by your current environment and state of mind. Those who are prone to anxiety may find the high-THC experience of this strain overwhelming, especially when placed in uncomfortable situations.

While high THC strains like this one can get out of hand if you consume too much, even cultivars that produce upwards of 20 percent of the psychoactive can still provide very soothing experiences.

Chocolope itself has a reputation for its potency, the flower among many contemporary strains that boast over the 20 percent mark. Yet, there’s no reason to fret. This simply means that consumers can still achieve a notable psychoactive experience with less flower.

Chocolope Strain Background

Chocolope may have debuted back in the 1980s, but this plant is certainly never out of style. The brainchild of the talented Dutch gardeners at DNA Genetics, the cultivar is a nearly pure sativa mashup of Chocolate Thai and Cannalope Haze.

The former is a landrace strain native to Thailand which took the world by storm back in the 1960s, providing flower children of all types with an energetic and thought-provoking cannabis experience. Cannalope Haze is another DNA Genetics creation, with a lineage that spans a very different region of the globe: Mexico.

Featuring genetics from the Michoacán region in central Mexico, Cannalope Haze is also considered a nearly-pure sativa cultivar. The plant has a reputation for producing high levels of THC and inspiring a notable sensation of bodily relaxation. Both traits are also present in Chocolope, though the spirited offspring errs more cerebral than grounded.

Chocolope Strain Benefits

When looking for the cannabis strain that best suits you, following your nose almost always leads to success. While most cannabis strains can produce THC, CBD, or some variation of both, it’s the aroma molecules in the plant that distinguish the nuances between different cultivars.

While molecules may not sound very exciting, peeking into the unique chemistry of Chocolope provides some important details about the sativa strain. In laboratory tests, Chocolope showed moderate levels of the terpene fragrance molecules humulene, myrcene, and beta-caryophyllene, all molecules that offer a sweet and spicy fragrance to the Chocolope strain.

The science is still out regarding just how compounds in the plant interact with one another in the human body. However, researchers already have some ideas about some of the benefits these compounds might provide.

Bright-scented beta-caryophyllene may be beneficial for easing inflammation and calming anxiety. Musky myrcene, on the other hand, lends a hypnotic quality to many strains. Its this molecule that is partially responsible for relaxing the muscles and lulling consumers into a dreamy state of mind.

Humulene is another inflammation-fighting compound, offering an herbal aroma similar to hops. This delicate bouquet may contribute to the analgesic and stress-relieving properties the Chocolope strain reportedly provides. However, it is difficult to say with any certainty. Regardless, break out this plant for moments of uplifting calm throughout the day.

TELL US, what’s your favorite strain?

Originally published on cannabisaficionado.com.

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Weed Wordsearch – Cannabis Terpenes

Today’s Weed Wordsearch is all about cannabis terpenes! Terpenes are organic hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants. Within the cannabis plant, there are many different terpenes. Each strain contains a unique blend, producing a unique aroma. Studies to discover the benefits and therapeutic value have only just begun but one thing is certain, […]

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Dark Star: This Soothing Strain Will Melt Away Your Tension

If you’ve ever traveled around the countryside, the occasional smell of skunk as you pass tree-rimmed farmland may not bring back the fondest memories. Yet, that otherwise putrid aroma is transformed into something truly enjoyable in the Dark Star strain.

Breaking open a dense, lime-colored flower releases a striking scent of forest earth. An almost acid-like sweetness tickles the nose, offering the first hint as to this plants’ teasing psychoactive nature.

The Dark Star High

Some cannabis flowers are upbeat and giggly, while others are more collected and contented. The Dark Star strain is akin to the latter, inspiring a slow and soothing physical high. After a few tastes of this pungent bud, a creeping relaxation sends a comfortable, vibrating energy through the chest and limbs.

PHOTO T.H. Seeds

The strain is a little on the sedative side, therefore it is not uncommon to feel that tension in your face and around the eyes dissipate. Dark Star might inspire some heavy eyelids, allowing you to let go of stress you weren’t aware that you were carrying. Understated, yet inviting, this plant is an evening flower that would make an excellent companion for post-dinner relaxation.

However, as with all psychoactive substances, the plant often acts more as an enhancer than a catalyst for radical change.

If you’re having a bad day, for example, a few tastes of the earthy Dark Star can help you unwind and kick back. Yet, the plant does not provide an instantaneous route to happiness or good health. Rather, the herb may simply lend a helping hand toward these goals when consumed with the right mindset and in the right environment.

Dark Star Strain Background

Breeders at T.H. Seeds are the geniuses behind Dark Star. An excellent flower for growers in wet climates, this strain was created with mold and mildew resistance in mind.

A cross between Purple Kush and Mazar I Sharif, this plant doubles down on indica genetics. While strains in the indica category are not always the sedative, couch-locking flowers they are made out to be, Dark Star certainly fits the bill.

PHOTO T.H. Seeds

With a dense bud structure and peaking purple coloration, this flower is a proud representation of its lineage. Purple Kush is considered a pure indica flower with Northern Californian roots, while Mazar I Sharif is a less common find with its origins rumored to be from the Northern Afghanistan.

The combination produces a stalky plant with high yields and substantial amounts of rich trichomes. Lab tests have revealed that the herb boasts upwards of 16 percent THC. This doesn’t make Dark Star the most noteworthy flower on the shelf, but don’t underestimate this plant’s potency.

Dark Star Strain Benefits

At this point most are aware that there’s much more to cannabis than THC percentage. Cannabis can produce upwards of 400 different chemical compounds known as terpenes.

Dark Star produces two distinct terpenes: myrcene and beta-caryophyllene.

Myrcene, a musk-scented molecule that is more commonly found in lemongrass, may have muscle relaxant and hypnotic properties, that give Dark Star a sedative effect.

Beta-caryophyllene, which gives a pepper-like aroma to cannabis flowers, is not as sedative as myrcene, but it is thought to have relaxing and anxiolytic effects.

Combined with the potential muscle-relaxant properties of myrcene, this flower is one mellow lady. This herb is likely best for those who need both mental and physical relief from stress. So, it is perhaps best saved for the evening.

TELL US, do you know about the strain Dark Star?

Originally published on cannabisaficianado.com.

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