Women of Influence: Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan

Macario’s name means “blessing” in Tagalog—the language of his mother’s Filipino heritage. It’s a fitting name for someone whose very existence is a scientific anomaly. Against all odds, Macario is not only living and breathing, but he’s also full of life—always cracking jokes, he’s known as the funniest kid in the class. He’s a presence wherever he goes, including on tour with his father, Grammy-winning reggae artist Gramps Morgan.

For a child whose parents had once accepted a reality where he’d be tube feeding for however long his life would last, at seven years old Macario’s appetite is bigger than ever, surpassing that of any of his four siblings; his favorite food is spaghetti. His mother, Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan, says he’s not just a foodie though—he’s also a big beach boy. “I do think there’s a connection between the brain and the water,” she says. “He’s at peace and happy when he’s at the beach.”

When Dr. Manalo-Morgan gave birth to Macario, her third child, he was born with a stroke and suffered from 200 to 500 seizures a day. After trying everything to treat his condition, after five weeks in the ICU, Macario underwent a nine-hour surgery where 38 percent of his brain was removed. At 28 days old, he was predicted to be paralyzed on the right side of his body. By the time he was six months old, he’d progressed no more than a newborn baby. 

His parents found acceptance, believing: If this is what God is giving us, it must be.

Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan with husband, multiple Grammy winner, Gramps Morgan, and their five children.

Yet Dr. Manalo-Morgan was no stranger to miracles. Her life had shifted course after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, where she was in college, vying for a career in professional basketball. Fate had other plans for her. Graduating with degrees in biology and chemistry, she decided to pursue an MD at Georgetown University—not long before her father, back home in Canada, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. The doctors gave him one month to live, so she returned home to spend time with him. “Long story short, I started to give my dad everything holistic I could think of to fight for my dad’s life,” she says. “A month later, he was 100 percent cancer-free. He overcame what all the doctors—who I respected—said he wouldn’t. It was at that time that I realized medicine is a protocol.”

Doctors aren’t trained to think in terms of personalized treatments, she explains: “They’re not trained to think outside the box.” This treatment for that indication; and the treatments themselves had to be approved by institutions. “After that point, I decided I didn’t want to be a medical doctor,” says Dr. Manalo-Morgan, who’s now a scientist at Vanderbilt University studying “chemographies” at the cellular level and how they affect people with heart disease. “I didn’t want to know just how to treat something, but also why. That was the beginning of my route toward cellular biology and PhD research and understanding that it’s the scientists who create the medicines. It’s the scientists who understand chemical reactions and how different things work in our body, not the medical doctors.” 

Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan with her son Macario
(L) Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan with her son, Macario.

But as she pursued her research, Dr. Manalo-Morgan still wanted to know, “How does this science I’m doing in a dish truly translate to humans?”

She wanted to feel like she was truly contributing to medicine. And so, her opportunity came in the form of a blessing: Macario. A mother will go to all lengths for her child. Here, she simply refused to accept as fact what the doctors predicted, what was expected. So, simultaneously, Dr. Manalo-Morgan took the risk of experimenting with cannabis to find a solution—never mind that she lived in Nashville, where the plant is still illegal under state law.

A combination of listening to her intuition and word on the street about the benefits of cannabis—especially for those with conditions like epilepsy that cause seizures—led her to formulate a medicine for Macario. Aside from the fact that she couldn’t legally get cannabis medicine in Tennessee anyway, she wanted to make it herself so that she’d know it was pure and contained only exactly what she put in it.

In essence, feeding her son a non-psychoactive cannabinoid formulation through his g-tube was a full-on science experiment…that worked. Within two days, his eyes started moving around. Within two months, he was crawling like a normal baby. And within one year, he was walking. To this day, at age seven, he has no special needs—and he’s still missing almost 40 percent of his brain, including areas that would normally be responsible for many of the things he does today. “So I wrote a book to talk about that,” Dr. Manalo-Morgan says, referring to her recently published memoir, Mighty Flower: How Cannabis Saved My Son (Forbes Books). “It’s about the courage of mom to never give up on your kid, to look outside the box, outside of what’s traditional. I think my son is a miracle and an example of how powerful our brain actually is.”

Book cover: Mighty Flower: How Cannabis Saved My Son
brain trust “I think my son is a miracle and an example of how powerful our brain actually is,” Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan says, who recently published her best-selling account of her son’s journey, Mighty Flower: How Cannabis Saved My Son (Forbes Books).

Indeed, Macario is missing regions of the brain vital for communication, memory, sight on the right side, and visual spatial organization. “He’s doing everything that he’s not supposed to be able to do,” Dr. Manalo-Morgan says. “It shows the power of the brain to rewire, to compensate for the area that is lost. We only use 10 to 12 percent of our brain anyway, and his brain has been forced to work in much more complex ways—and we’re capable of that.” 

Macario’s story, and Dr. Manalo-Morgan’s dedication, force the question: Is the “medicine” that’s being produced today enabling new connections to be made within the brain and body, or do the vast majority of medications simply act as Band-Aids? True medicine, Dr. Manalo-Morgan suggests, heals from the inside out, enabling homeostasis to occur and our own defense mechanisms to kick into gear.

In the last two years, Dr. Manalo-Morgan visited an astonishing 34 countries, speaking with different presidents and ministers of health about cannabis—not in the typical sense of blatantly advocating for the plant itself, but for policy reform that enables more research. 

Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan
tennessee titans The Nashville-based cannabis advocate refused to accept as fact what the doctors predicted, what was expected.

Nowadays, Dr. Annabelle Manalo-Morgan continues to give Macario a CBD tincture when she feels he needs it, just to keep him balanced. “I think of cannabinoids as essential supplements that we all need to have in our daily lives,” she says. Offering a comparison, Dr. Manalo-Morgan explains that just as water satisfies our need for hydration, cannabinoids satisfy our endocannabinoid system’s need for balance. But just as every person needs a different amount of water, depending on their size and constitution, every person also needs a unique medical protocol to custom-fit their nervous system. It does seem logical.

“There are incredible plant compounds out there, not just cannabis, that we can scientifically tailor and use to replace some of our toxic medicines,” Dr. Manalo-Morgan says. “Let us slip cannabis into the conversation; this thing is real; it can help people. Let us study it.” 

This story was originally published in issue 48 of the print edition of Cannabis Now. Read it now on the Cannabis Now iTunes app.

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Women’s Wellness Brand Holief Taps into the Healing Powers of Hemp, Backed by Science

IGC Pharma unveiled its wellness brand, Holief, with a focus on targeting women experiencing premenstrual syndrome and menstrual cramps. The medical science community is barely scratching the surface of what hemp-derived cannabinoids can do for women, and that sociodemographic is poised to continue its unstoppable climb into the mainstream.

“We stand for quality and safety in our products, not just our gluten-free, but also non-GMO products, as they are lab-verified, and also have the certifications of paraben-free, and cruelty-free,” Women’s Wellness Specialist and IGC Pharma Marketing Manager Kenia Andrade told High Times. “So we actually prioritize quality and safety to ensure that our customers receive the best products out there.”

Not only does IGC Pharma develop advanced cannabinoid-based formulations for treating period cramps (dysmenorrhea) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but it also targets other conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and chronic pain for men and women. IGC currently has two investigational drug assets targeting Alzheimer’s disease, for instance.

Noticing the growing market of cannabinoid-based women’s wellness products, IGC developed the Holief line. “We rebranded last year, and then I took over the role of marketing manager,” Andrade said. “So I work very hard with science and operations to get the brand out and also to get the medical information on point.”

IGC Pharma Marketing Manager Kenia Andrade

Holief provides lab reports on the products they sell, on a yearly basis. “Not because it is a restriction but because we are very transparent in what we use in our product,” Andrade said. “And we like that.”

Holief’s award-winning Holi-Wonder Muscle + Skin Relief Cream, for instance, combines lavender, aloe vera, coconut and Jojoba seed oil to effectively relieve persistent muscle stress while hydrating the skin. It contains hemp extract—with industry-leading levels of hemp—at 4000 mg.

“We have a very comprehensive product range,” Andrade said. “Holief offers wellness products addressing various aspects on women’s health and well being whether it’s managing menstrual symptoms, or dysmenorrhea, or promoting overall wellness. One of our main goals is to have products that support the stage of a woman’s life or a person’s life overall.”

Backed By Science

Holief’s formulations are backed by evidence, not just anecdotal reports. 

“I’m a medical doctor, and also an epidemiologist,” said Juanita Arbelaez, Clinical Research Physician at IGC Pharma. “And I’m pursuing a master’s degree in Public Health right now. And I’m a medical researcher. So I’m part of the team of IGC Pharma.”

Dr. Juanita Arbelaez, Clinical Research Physician at IGC Pharma

Arbelaez explained that hemp extract has shown to soothe and manage the emotional symptoms associated with PMS, as well as sleep regulation and mood-stabilizing effects. Evidence suggests hemp extract can have a calming effect on the central nervous system.

Holief provides topicals that use menthol, which is commonly combined with hemp-derived cannabinoids to really get into the skin. 

“One of them I have at hand is the Holi-Cramp Plus Menstrual Relief Cream with Menthol, because it has 5% of menthol with its main formulation at the base of the cream,” Andrade said. “And what it gives you is a hot and cold sensation, that really is almost immediate. It is only for external use, but it’s usually recommended to be applicable in the lower part of the abdomen.” The Holi-Cramp Plus cream contains vitamin E, MCT oil, and olive oil, as well as 2,800 mg of hemp extract. 

“For men, you can actually even though the name is Holi-Cramp, men can actually wear it because it is a hand cream that has menthol in it so it allows any part of your muscles, any part of your body that has contracted muscles to relax.”

Again, the formulations are backed by evidence. “Menthol is well known and studied,” Arbelaez said. “And it helps a lot with pain sensation … so that combination is much better than just CBD.”

Holi-Cramp Plus Menstrual Relief Cream with Menthol

Using the Broad Spectrum of Hemp

Some of the products use broad spectrum hemp extract while others use full spectrum. Broad spectrum typically means the CBD is enhanced with compounds such as cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), and terpenes such as myrcene, limonene, or pinene.

“Broad spectrum means that it has no THC that can create psychoactivity in your brain,” Arbelaez said. “[It] can pass through the blood-brain barrier, but it cannot produce psychoactivity. So you are not going to be high. While you’re going to have some other benefits, like pain relief, you are going to feel not as stressed or maybe relaxed, but you are not going to be paranoid, you are not going to feel high. That is what it means it doesn’t have any THC at all. That is the compound that makes you feel high or to have some psychological activity.”

Full-spectrum CBD products, on the other hand, may also contain up to 0.3% of THC, but in insignificant amounts that won’t get you high as well.

“The cannabinoids we have include CBD, CBG, and CBN,” Andrade said. “But we also use Ashwagandha, blueberries or Jojoba seed oil and lavender. Our range of products or our range of ingredients are mostly plants and fruits. That’s why our gummies have their natural flavor and natural colors. We do not depend entirely on hemp extract, but the fusion or the mix of hemp extracts with other ingredients.”

The Holief catalogue is divided in four categories:  PMS, Sleep, Wellness, and Fitness. Our range of products go from creams to tinctures, to gummies to topicals, which can also help with issues like headaches. The Sore Head Roll-On, for instance, is meant to ease migraines and it has herbal extracts that help ease the nerves. It contains 500 mg of hemp, eucalyptus, lavender oil, peppermint, Spanish sage oil, ginger, sweet fennel, camphor, and Menthol. 

Sore Head Roll-On

IGC Pharma will be presenting at the 13th Annual LD Micro Invitational at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, California June 6-8, 2023.

“Authenticity is the main pillar of what we have to build the community and to create safe spaces so that people can actually interact with their own issues,” Andrade said. “At the end of the day, we would like to be like a platform so that more people can be out on their own journey.” 

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Is CBD Toxic?

Is CBD Toxic? The answer is apparent, right? When even the World Health Organization calls CBD “safe and tolerable,” it’s clear CBD is fine. It’s the one cannabinoid that public health hasn’t been able to demonize. Yet. Food and Drug Administration officials published a review study on CBD. They claim their findings show “potential hazards associated with oral exposure to CBD.” They also claim “no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work […]

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Cannabinoids Found in Non-Cannabis Plant Woolly Umbrella

Helichrysum umbraculigerum, or the woolly umbrella plant, is a velvety yellow perennial herb native to South Africa, and Israeli researchers recently discovered that the plant, which is definitively not a part of the cannabis family, happens to produce a number of cannabinoids that, until now, were believed to belong exclusively to the cannabis and hemp plants. 

The recent discovery could open new avenues for cannabinoid medicines and treatments. The study, titled “Turning a new leaf on cannabinoids,” was conducted by researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science and published in the journal Nature Plants earlier this month.

Cannabis and the Woolly Umbrella Plant

Researchers have studied cannabinoids and their potential uses for decades. The most well-known cannabinoid tends to be THC, though there are plenty of others that have gained prominence over the years, have little-to-no psychoactive effects and could assist in treating a variety of symptoms and conditions.

While cannabis is known to produce more than 100 different cannabinoids, the research team identified more than 40 cannabinoids found in the woolly umbrella. They also shared the biochemical steps the plant takes as it produces these compounds and how these steps can be reproduced in a laboratory, to synthesize existing cannabinoids or potentially engineer new ones that don’t exist in nature.

“We have found a major new source of cannabinoids and developed tools for their sustained production, which can help explore their enormous therapeutic potential,” said study leader Dr. Shirley Berman of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The woolly umbrella plant is a relative of daisies, lettuce and sunflowers. It can reach up to one meter in height and is often used to make garden borders. It’s also been known to be burned in folk rituals to release intoxicating fumes, which hints that there might be more under the surface. 

More than four decades ago, German scientists also found evidence that the woolly umbrella contains cannabinoids, though modern studies have failed to reproduce those findings until now. In fact, the research team launched the study of the woolly umbrella specifically to revisit its relationship to cannabinoids and larger potential as a medical aid.

A New Frontier for Cannabinoids?

The research team used state-of-the-art technology to confirm those early reports. Specifically, they sequenced the entire woolly umbrella genome and used advanced analytical chemistry to identify the cannabinoids it contains. Researchers were also able to reveal the precise structure of more than a dozen of the observed cannabinoids, along with other related metabolites. 

They found that the woolly umbrella primarily manufactures cannabis in its leaves, which could be a benefit compared to cannabis, which makes cannabinoids in the shorter-lived, sometimes challenging-to-harvest flower clusters. Regardless, researchers found many commonalities between the two plants; particularly, the enzymes used in each step of cannabinoid production belong to the same families.

Researchers found that six cannabinoids found in the woolly umbrella are identical to those in cannabis. THC and CBD were not among them, though CBG, or cannabigerol, was. CBG has increasingly grown in popularity, as research has continued to reveal its potential therapeutic benefits. Similar to CBD, the cannabinoid also lacks the mood-altering effects that create a “high.”

With cannabis plants specifically, CBG is considered the main precursor to many popular cannabinoids. Namely, THCA, CBDA and CBCA all start as CBG’s acidic form, CBGA, which often leaves little CBG for harvest among mature plants. Growers have explored workarounds to maximize CBG production, but the woolly umbrella could pave the way to another solution.

A Promising Finding for Future Exploration

Additionally, researchers noted that there is an ecological point of view to further examine. Scientists still don’t fully understand why plants produce cannabinoids, though some evidence suggests it may help to deter predators or offer protection from ultraviolet rays.

“The fact that in the course of evolution two genetically unrelated plants independently developed the ability to make cannabinoids suggests that these compounds perform important ecological functions,” said Professor Asaph Aharoni, whose lab was used for the study. “More research is needed to determine what these functions are.”

Moving forward, the study findings may allow scientists to engineer cannabinoids that don’t exist in nature, allowing for better binding to human cannabinoid receptors or even specific therapeutic effects. The cannabinoids specific to the woolly umbrella plant could also hold untapped potential.

“The next exciting step would be to determine the properties of the more than 30 new cannabinoids we’ve discovered, and then to see what therapeutic uses they might have,” Berman said.

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Medical Cannabis “Safe and Effective” For Cancer Patients, Study

A new study reveals what many already know: medical cannabis is safe and effective for cancer patients. The study of 358 adults with cancer found a 1:1 balance of THC and CBD significantly helped reduce pain intensity and the interference of pain in daily life. The Canadian-based research also found that with medical cannabis, cancer patients had a reduced need for other drugs. Why Is Cannabis Popular With Cancer Patients?  Before getting into the latest study on medical cannabis, let’s […]

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Study: No Significant Association Between Cannabis Use, Developing Psychosis

While experts have argued in the past that the link between psychosis and cannabis is overstated, another study published just last year linked increased risk of psychosis and addiction to high-potency cannabis.

Now, a new study published in the journal Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences is sharing another perspective, finding that cannabis use is not associated with an increased risk of developing psychosis, even among those predisposed to the disorder. 

The research was conducted by a team of investigators from Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom.

Exploring Psychosis and Cannabis

The authors point to the history of research on this specific issue, adding that there have been “limited prospective studies” on the topic and that “the direction of this association remains controversial.”

They describe the study’s primary aim, “to examine the association between cannabis use and the incidence of psychotic disorders in people at clinical high risk of psychosis.” Researchers were also looking to assess associations between “cannabis use and the persistence of psychotic symptoms, and with functional outcome.”

For this study, researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis use and the incidence of psychotic disorders in clinically at-risk subjects. The study analyzed 334 individuals who are at high risk of developing psychosis, along with 67 healthy control subjects at baseline. The investigators then followed up on the participants over a two-year period using a modified version of the Cannabis Experience Questionnaire.

During the follow up, 16.2% of the clinical high-risk sample developed psychosis. Of those who did not develop psychosis, 51.4% had persistent symptoms and 48.6% were in remission. 

Authors ultimately stated, “There was no significant association between any measure of cannabis use at baseline and either transition to psychosis, the persistence of symptoms, or functional outcome.” They added that the findings “contrast with epidemiological data that suggest that cannabis use increases the risk of psychotic disorder.”

A Potentially Misunderstood Topic

The findings are indeed contrary to a number of other recent studies on cannabis and psychosis, though there may be more to this conversation than initially meets the eye. 

A 2016 review of previous research published by The Lancet (the journal which also published the 2022 study) found that people already experiencing psychosis can improve outcomes by reducing or eliminating cannabis use. This essentially shows that cannabis does not exhibit a causal relationship to psychosis. 

While people with psychotic illnesses may use cannabis and other substances more often, studies showing lifetime incidences of acute cannabis-induced psychosis in the general population are still rare.

This study specifically showed that, even among those predisposed to psychosis, a history of cannabis use is not associated with an increased risk of developing the illness. While authors noted that further research is still needed to understand the relationship between cannabis use and mental health outcomes, these findings could help to shift perspectives on policy and healthcare in the future.

Affirming Previous Findings

It’s also not the only study to come to a similar conclusion. 

A 2022 study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry analyzed emergency room data related to cannabis-induced psychosis. Researchers concluded that the implementation of Canada’s cannabis legalization program “was not associated with evidence of significant changes in cannabis-induced psychosis or schizophrenia ED presentations.”

A similar study, published in January 2023 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the same question in relation to the United States, analyzing data from 2003 to 2017. Researchers came to the same conclusion, “The findings of this study do not support an association between state policies legalizing cannabis and psychosis-related outcomes.”

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Everything You Need to Know About Nano-Emulsification Process

Cannabis enthusiasts around the world are constantly seeking ways to enhance their experience. Thanks to science, there’s no need to take risks or experiment with various products or methods of alternative consumption anymore. Nano-emulsification is a safe and efficient method for elevating your experience. Products made with nano-emulsification offer a more consistent and reliable experience for users, making dosing easier than ever before. In this blog we’ll take an in-depth look at the advantages of this process, the types of THC products with nano-emulsification, the distinctions between them and non-nano emulsified THC products as well as other concerns shared by our readers.

What is nano-emulsification process?

Nano-emulsification is a technique that breaks liquid particles into minute droplets on a nanoscale, creating an ultra stable liquid that spreads out evenly. This technology has revolutionized how drugs, cosmetics and food additives are administered. Recently it’s gained attention within the cannabis industry for making THC products more bioavailable and effective.

Benefits of Nano-emulsification for THC Products

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical found in cannabis plants that causes the feeling of being “high.” Traditional ways such as smoking Delta-8 THC or eating Delta-9 edibles have always been challenged due to concerns over bioavailability – the amount of substance absorbed into the bloodstream by taking traditional methods like smoking Delta 8. When taken this way, only a small amount is absorbed by the body, making the drug less potent and taking longer to start working.

Nano-emulsification makes THC products more bioavailable by breaking them up into smaller droplets that the body can more readily absorb. Because these particles are smaller, they penetrate cell membranes and enter the bloodstream more rapidly—leading to faster effects from each dose since each droplet contains exactly the same amount of THC. Furthermore, this technology makes dosing THC products much simpler since each has the same amount of active ingredient inside them.

Nano-emulsified THC products are water soluble, meaning they can be added to drinks and other liquids without separation or settlement—something not possible with traditional THC products made from oil. This has opened the door for new uses of THC such as Delta-9 THC edibles made from hemp which have become increasingly popular over time.

Different Types of THC Products Made With Nano-Emulsification

Nano-emulsification can be applied to many THC products, such as tinctures, edibles, beverages and topicals. This process takes your favorite items to the next level! Tinctures are liquid extracts that can be put in food or drinks or taken orally; when combined with nano emulsified THC they become even faster acting than before! We have found that Delta-8 THC tinctures which have been nano emulsified have more rapid absorption rates than regular ones when taken orally.

Edibles like Delta-9 gummies and chocolates are a popular way to consume THC. Nano-emulsified THC gummies deliver faster effects that last longer! Some users even claim they can control the intensity of effects due to more even distribution of THC within the product, increasing bioavailability.

Beverages with cannabis in them are becoming increasingly popular, and nano-emulsification makes it simple to add THC. This technology is even being employed in topicals like lotions and balms that deliver THC directly onto specific parts of the body.

Difference Between Nano-emulsified and Non-nano-emulsified THC Products

The primary distinctions between nano-emulsified and non-nano-emulsified THC products are when their effects start, how long they last, and their strength. Nano-emulsified products generally start sooner and last less than non-nano-emulsified ones due to smaller particles which make it easier for them to get into your bloodstream. Furthermore, nano-emulsified THC items tend to have higher potency since each droplet contains the same amount of THC; therefore you get stronger consistency across time.

How to Utilize Nano-Emulsified THC Products

When using nano-emulsified THC products, it’s best to start with a low dose and gradually increase until you achieve desired effects. This is especially crucial for first time users since nano-emulsified THC has stronger effects than traditional methods due to their speedy action and higher THC concentration. Furthermore, read and follow all product label instructions carefully; depending on the type, these nano-emulsified THC can either be taken orally or applied topically.

Safety Considerations

Like all THC cannabinoid products, there may be potential side effects, drug interactions and overconsumption when using nano-emulsified THC products. Signs of overconsumption may include dry mouth, red eyes, increased heart rate or impaired coordination. Therefore it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider prior to using THC products if you have any preexisting medical conditions or taking medications. Furthermore it’s best to store THC products in a secure place away from children; never use THC while driving or operating heavy machinery.

Where you live, THC products may or may not be legal. In some states and countries, people can use them for both medical and non-medical purposes; in others however, getting access to these items may prove challenging. Therefore, it’s essential that you learn about the laws in your area regarding how THC can be utilized and sold.

Future Applications of Nano-Emulsification Process in THC Products

The potential applications for the nano-emulsification process in THC products are many. One potential use is creating new formulations such as fast-acting and long-lasting THC items. Nano-emulsification can also enhance shelf life of THC items by increasing stability and decreasing degradation. Furthermore, nano-emulsification enhances flavor and aroma of these items for an enhanced consumption experience.


Nano-emulsification is an innovative technology with great potential to increase THC product bioavailability and effectiveness. This process enables products with faster onset times, more consistent effects, and increased potency. As with any THC product it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects or risks associated with use and follow the dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer. With continued research and development the nano-emulsification process could revolutionize the cannabis industry, making THC products more accessible and effective for more users.

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Two Tier, Three Tier: What Happened to the Quality?!

The Way It Used to Be

Do you remember the days of flipping to the back of a High Times magazine and seeing all the grow ads? Think way back, I know… It was a long time ago. Maybe you remember walking into just about any grow store in the ’90s or 2000’s, from Florida to Colorado to California, and seeing products upon products, old and new, all geared and focused towards a common solution: “A higher quality of product”. 

The days of walking aisle to aisle, searching and hunting through different plant products with advertised combinations of nutrients and foliars, all showing the science on how this would stimulate your plants to make the flowers taste better, contain more resin, smell more fragrant… even have better overall color.

There used to be an overwhelming amount of products focused on new and old formulations to stimulate resin production, terpene inducing foliars, flavor, and looks. Organic additives, specialty sugars, and quality enhancers were all geared towards the goal of better overall quality flowers. You would see aisles of products advertising “more resin and more terpenes” “stickier flowers,” “more flavor,” “better color,” all with one common goal for the grower, an overall increase in flower quality was the main topic of conversation. 

Flash Forward

Today it seems those days are gone. For those of us who can remember the constant strive for better and better quality, those days aren’t forgotten… yet. But there’s a vast change happening slowly. Something in our culture has shifted. Do you smell that? I don’t either because flower quality has taken a massive hit over the past six to eight years. Nowadays every lighting and nutrient company hitting the market is basing their advertising and “science breakthroughs” on two things: cost of production and overall yield. 

Let me make it super simple: You can grow way more flowers for way less! Well what about the quality?! 

New lighting spectrums and LED inventions are hitting the market monthly, and you see one focus from all these companies…yield increase. Two tier, three tier, more tier, cry tears, because what’s coming is all this abundance of lower tier product for less. Just what’s advertised, way more for way less. 

What Really Matters

But what about the quality?! New breakthroughs geared towards dry backs are specifically focused on one thing: yields. What about the quality?! Beneficial foliars these days are an afterthought for most growers unless it’s a fungicide or pesticide. What about the quality?! 

Don’t forget the days of hunting down the best solutions to the biggest prize: quality. The goal was always a higher quality product and letting the rest fall in line. You remember the days of letting your bag speak for itself. Letting the goal of having the dankest flowers in your city or town rule your dreams. 

Don’t forget… It was always about the quality.

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Center for Medical Cannabis Research To Open at University of Utah

The University of Utah recently confirmed that it’s starting the early planning phases to build a Center for Medical Cannabis Research. House Bill 230, which was passed by the House and the Senate, was signed by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox on March 15.

According to bill sponsor Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost, HB-230 will expand the state’s ability to conduct research and offer up scientific-backed information. Specifically in reference to the opening of a medical cannabis research center at the University of Kentucky in September 2022, Dailey-Provost believes it’s time for Utah to do so as well. “I figured if Kentucky can do it … we can create one in Utah as well,” she said, according to The Daily Utah Chronicle.

She added that previously, Utah legislators have been listening to studies conducted from out of state, rather than conducting their own research from within. “What we hear from providers, especially physicians, nurse practitioners, PAs who can recommend [cannabis] as a medication is that they just don’t feel like they have enough information to really confidently recommend this as part of a comprehensive health care plan,” Dailey-Provost said.

The main goal of the Utah-based Center for Medical Cannabis Research is to become a hub that monitors all research being conducted in the state, as well as “identify gaps in patient accessibility, and support researchers and going out and finding grounds, doing the work, talking to other states about what work is going on.”

Eventually, Dailey-Provost also wants the state to have a National Institute of Health-approved (NIH) medical cannabis cultivation site. “There are only six in the nation that grow medical grade cannabis that is eligible for study by NIH grants,” she said. “I think Utah with its robust agricultural heritage, we have an opportunity to maybe be a center for meeting those needs for research being done at the National Institutes of Health.”

The passage of HB-230 also includes $650,000 to fund the Center for Medical Cannabis Research, which comes from the Department of Health’s Qualified Patient Enterprise Fund. According to University of Utah Associate Vice President Dr. Rachel Hess, they want to ensure that they do everything they can to help usher in this new era of medical cannabis research. “Obviously, everything can’t be accomplished in one year, but the legislature has really made a longitudinal commitment, so ensuring that the science that is prepared to go…can go in the first year and then staging subsequently after that are the key steps…to ensure that we really are able to deliver on the promise of this vision,” said Hess.

More importantly, the Center for Medical Cannabis Research will open up research opportunities for other universities as well. “I think that’s going to be really important to communicate with all of the institutions across Utah about, about this work that the legislature is sponsoring and then bringing together that community to form those collaborations to move this work forward,” Hess added.

The plan for the Center for Medical Cannabis Research’s year will begin with a focus on up-and-coming research initiatives. The second year will be an opportunity for researchers to begin planning ahead. Ultimately, Hess concluded that she’s very proud of the new opportunity. “We really feel like Utah can lead in many ways in this area and are just really proud of the forward-thinking nature of creating something like this,” she said.

While medical cannabis embarks on a new journey with the university research center, psilocybin is also taking center stage. Last month, a psilocybin mushroom bill was introduced in Utah, which would emulate regulations similar to the state’s medical cannabis program. It would allow psilocybin therapy to be legal for patients with qualifying conditions. “This is not for everyone, but if it’s for someone that is desperate (for help) with their anxiety, depression and PTSD—that’s pushing many, unfortunately, to suicide, I want them to have access in a way that’s safe, that we can regulate,” said Senate Majority Leader Luz Escamilla.

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Scientists Map Out Effects of DMT on the Brain

Advanced brain imaging in a study from a team of U.K.-based scientists shows how dimethyltryptamine (DMT) alters perception of reality by changing communication and connectivity.

According to a March 20 press release, brain mapping revealed that DMT significantly activated areas to imagination and other high-level functions, and that DMT enhances communication and connectivity between different parts of the brain.

Researchers associated with Imperial College London examined brain imaging data from 20 healthy volunteers. The volunteers were given a 20mg injection of DMT while researchers from Imperial College of London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research captured detailed imagery of their brains. This allowed the team to study how brain activity changes before, during, and after the trip. Findings show DMT alters brain function.

“This work is exciting as it provides the most advanced human neuroimaging view of the psychedelic state to-date,” said Dr Chris Timmerman, first author on the study. Timmerman conducts research at the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.

“One increasingly popular view is that much of brain function is concerned with modeling or predicting its environment,” Timmerman added. “Humans have unusually big brains and model an unusually large amount of the world. For example, like with optical illusions, when we’re looking at something, some of what we’re actually seeing is our brain filling in the blanks based on what we already know. What we have seen with DMT is that activity in highly evolved areas and systems of the brain that encode especially high-level models becomes highly dysregulated under the drug, and this relates to the intense drug ‘trip’.”

LSD and psilocybin—classic psychedelics—have quite a bit a longer duration and effects last up to six or 12 hours, respectively, if not more. DMT however is a short-acting but very powerful psychedelic, wearing off in a matter of minutes, though it may not seem that way in some cases.

The main difference between the effects of DMT versus classic psychedelics is that the effects of DMT are much more closely related to near-death experiences, while classic psychedelics are a bit less intense. “But exactly how the compound alters brain function to account for such effects has been unclear,” scientists wrote in the press release.

Volunteers received a 20mg high dose of DMT—intravenously—while simultaneously being scanned by two types of brain imaging: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). 

According to the report, the duration of the psychedelic experience lasted about 20 minutes, and at regular intervals, volunteers provided a rating of the subjective intensity of their experience on a 1-10 scale.

The fMRI scans showed activity within and between brain regions in volunteers on DMT, including increased connectivity across the brain and more communication between different areas and systems. 

They call this phenomena “network disintegration and desegregation” and increased “global functional connectivity,” aligning with previous studies. The changes in activity that were observed were mostly in brain areas associated with “higher level” human-specific functions, i.e. imagination.

“Motivated by, and building on our previous research with psychedelics, the present work combined two complementary methods for imaging the brain… fMRI allowed us to see the whole of the brain, including its deepest structures, and EEG helped us view the brain’s fine-grained rhythmic activity,” Prof Robin Carhart-Harris, founder of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, and senior author, who is now working at the University of California, San Francisco.

Meanwhile, a U.K.-based biotech company Small Pharma is conducting the first major study of DMT and its potential for treating major depressive disorder (MDD).

The findings shine light on the mechanism behind how DMT helps overcome deep-rooted issues.

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