The Danger of Synthetic Cannabis

On the potentially lethal subject of synthetic weed, the news, since legalization, is better, but still not great.

Though not wholly harmless, cannabis itself hasn’t killed anyone through overdose or misadventure. But cannabis prohibition absolutely has a body count. Between 2016 and 2019, at least 61 Americans died after exposure to synthetic cannabinoids, according to recent research conducted by scientists at Washington State University and published in the journal Clinical Toxicology.

Many more have become violently ill or wracked with disturbing mental or psychological trauma after using synthetic cannabis, with more than 64 percent of 7,600 documented exposures over that time frame requiring medical attention, the study found. (These figures don’t capture the full scope of the problem; synthetic cannabinoids are difficult to detect and use is often only detected after the user is in the hospital or the morgue.)

A broad term used generally to describe a range of potent chemicals, intended to mimic natural plant-based cannabinoids and to bind to many of the same receptors—but in some cases, up to 100 times more powerful; the difference in impact comparable “to the difference between a hose hooked up to a fire hydrant versus a faucet with a slow drip,” in the words of Dr. Patricia Frye, a Maryland-based physician and cannabis expert. “Synthetic cannabis” is banned under federal and most state law. (Plant-derived cannabis products created via chemical synthesis, including Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC, aren’t in this product category.)

Though not a priority for law enforcement, who still arrested hundreds of thousands of Americans for marijuana possession in 2020, synthetic cannabis is notorious stuff. Most often appearing in large cities, fake weed was the ultimate culprit behind a so-called “zombie outbreak” in 2016 in New York City, after several dozen people exhibited the same troubling dis-associative symptoms after smoking a particularly nasty “incense” product called “AK-47” Karat Gold.

Why would anyone use such dangerous and toxic stuff? And how can policymakers discourage such self-harm and solve what researchers described to Cannabis Now as a “serious health threat”?

The obvious answer will not shock you.

Nobody Really Likes Synthetic Weed, But…

Initially created in labs to understand how cannabinoid receptors work, synthetic cannabis was never intended for use in humans. And perhaps owing to the nasty side effects, synthetic cannabis use isn’t widespread.

Natural cannabis is far more popular. Even the estimated 0.2 to 0.4 percent of the population who do admit to using synthetic weed say they’d prefer natural cannabis.

However, there’s some societal “encouragement” for synthetic cannabis use: synthetic weed prohibition turns out to be difficult to enforce. Synthetic cannabis doesn’t contain THC. Users won’t show THC metabolites on a urine screening, and so drug tests can’t detect synthetic cannabis, the study noted. Thus, anyone in a position to want a buzz and avoid punishment for weed, including US service members, may decide that fake cannabis is worth the risk.

Users profiled in another recent study, from researchers based in Spain, confirm this ready common-sense explanation: Because drug tests don’t search for synthetic cannabinoids, meaning people worried about losing employment, housing, or other opportunities for a positive drug test are willing to risk serious consequences to achieve something like a weed-like buzz.

In other words, drug laws encourage drug users to risk great bodily and mental harm they wouldn’t otherwise risk. They say so themselves.

Synthetic cannabinoids “exist as a by-product of prohibition,” said Dr. Ethan Russo, a physician, neurologist and prominent researcher and author.

“Following the law of unintended consequences, the continued pervasiveness of urine drug screening for employment has stimulated the popular appeal of synthetic cannabinoids, which are not detectable on routine laboratory tests,” Russo told Cannabis Now. “The result is considerable attendant morbidity and mortality.”

In some places, this situation is getting worse. According to the researchers’ findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, “synthetic cannabinoids are increasingly gaining popularity and replacing traditional cannabis.”

However, that’s not the case in the US, where a simple and popular policy intervention leads to a decline in synthetic cannabinoid exposure (and related deaths and hospitalizations) of more than 37%. Only 5.5% of the synthetic cannabinoid poisonings tracked in the study occurred in states with legalization laws.

This magic public-health solution is allowing people to use cannabis safely and legally.

With Synthetic Cannabis, Legalization Saves Lives

As the Washington state researchers noted, synthetic cannabinoid exposures declined in the US starting in 2016—the same year that four states (California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada) legalized adult-use cannabis for adults 18 and over.

Of the exposures that were recorded, most–-56%–-occurred in states “with restrictive cannabis policies at the time of the exposure,” the researchers wrote. When a state passed a law with a more “permissive cannabis policy,” synthetic cannabinoid exposures reduced by 37%, they added.

This amounted to an “association” between “liberal policies (legalization) for natural cannabis and declines in reported synthetic cannabinoid poisonings,” they concluded. “This finding suggests a potential effect of policy change on substance use behaviors that may have long-term public health implications.”

Tracy Klein, the lead researcher and a professor in Washington State University’s College of Nursing, didn’t respond to a request for comment. But other experts, including Frye and Russo and Peter Grinspoon, a Boston-based physician and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, accepted the findings as a strong endorsement for cannabis legalization as a public-health intervention.

Synthetic cannabis harms people, but people don’t want to use it when natural cannabis is available. When natural cannabis is available, people don’t use it. Legalization saves lives. Could there be a simpler proposition?

“The rules of society have created this problem,” Russo said, “one that should no longer exist once a legal and regulated market for cannabis is established.”

“Legalizing cannabis, in the adult-use market, would certainly eliminate the need for experimenting with these potentially deadly chemicals,” Frye said.

The post The Danger of Synthetic Cannabis appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Study Shows Real Cannabis Products More Popular Than Synthetics

Okay, so for most people this is common sense. However, in a world without real sales market data from the cannabinoid industry, and patchy info on the cannabis industry at large, we rely a lot on speculation. A new study, however, makes clear a certain point, even if it wasn’t the intended point. By measuring issues with synthetic cannabinoids, this study found that real cannabis products are more popular than synthetics. Read on to find out why.

A recent study highlights how real cannabis products are more popular than synthetics for consumers, as evidenced by rates of issues with synthetics in hospitals across states. Cannadelics is an independent publication offering coverage of the cannabis and psychedelics fields, complete with the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter for regular updates on important events. Subscribe today and also gain access to tons of products like vapes, edibles, and cannabinoid compounds including the seemingly-everywhere Delta 8 & HHC. Head to our ‘best of’ lists for product deals, and make sure to pick the products you’re totally comfortable using.


What are cannabis synthetics?

We all know what the cannabis plant is. And most of us are aware that compounds like THC and CBD can be directly extracted from the plant. Whether thinking of the plant as a whole, or the cannabinoids directly taken from it, these constitute the natural version. The term ‘synthetic’ in the drugs industry, means a drug that’s made by a human using component parts, rather than coming from nature. A synthetic compound won’t come out of the ground, however something that does come out of the ground, can also be made synthetically. In the world of cannabis it relates to synthetic cannabinoids like HHC and delta-10, as well as Spice, K2, and every government approved cannabis medicine.

While smear campaigns throw out terms like ‘Spice’ and ‘K2’, the very same governmental agencies pushing fear in those terms, also allow the sale of pharmaceutical cannabis synthetics like dronabinol and nabiximols. As synthetics means anything not directly from the plant, the term encompasses both the pharmaceutical version, and the street version.

The thing is, the ‘street’ versions are essentially the same, or similar-enough to the pharmaceutical versions. In fact, much of what is often complained about by the government, was actually made by the government, or comes from something made by the government. This includes the compounds like spice and K2, along with much of the cannabinoid market, which also represents synthetic compounds.

Now, the thing about this cannabinoids market, is that its an illegal market, which is unregulated, and which we already know falls prey to dirty tactics like using fake labs to show safety results, to keep consumers feeling safe about their purchases. And truth be told, while this is certainly a shady industry, the rate of actual death related to it, is small at best, and so far, never related – as in NOT ONCE – to the compounds themselves, as evidenced by this Australian study looking at an entire 18 years! Which makes the idea of the fear marketing around these compounds, weird, and nonsensical.

How dangerous are cannabis synthetics

If you read the previous paragraph, not dangerous at all. Pharmaceutical companies sell them every day, even in the US where cannabis is federally illegal for both recreational and medical purposes. Interesting, right? That not only does the US government demonize cannabis in general, but it actually allows under certain circumstances, not the plant itself, but synthetic versions of it.

This doesn’t mean all synthetics sold are created equally. Just because there are some totally cool versions, doesn’t mean they all are, especially in a black sales market. Though the reality is that even the less tested compounds really aren’t hurting anyone, people do get hurt by dirty products, particularly in the following two ways:

  • Taking too much. Synthetics might be just fine, but like with cannabis in general, too much can be bad. Synthetics are often packaged like regular cannabis products, but often without the THC limits – sometimes there isn’t THC in them anyway. Especially for kids getting into edible candies, this can cause a problem. But it’s the same problem that exists with regular weed products, as well as all those household cleaners under the sink, the prescription medications in the bathroom, and even the Tylenol bought over the counter.
  • The other issue is simply one of additives. Additives are anything used in a product for whatever reason, that aren’t the main compounds of action. When it comes to vape carts this can mean chemicals used to thin or thicken the oil, for flavoring, or as preservatives. For fake cannabis as a plant, it can mean pesticides, herbicides, or anything else sprayed on the random vegetation used. Plus, considering anyone selling a synthetic is unregulated by definition, anything can be in there. Even something like fentanyl, if desired.

People like to mess with products, and that’s the real issue of cannabis synthetics. I got sick once from smoking the weed-looking stuff which is actually just crushed foliage with something sprayed on it. Besides whatever the product maker put on it to cause a high, there could also have been fertilizer, rat poison, or insecticides on that foliage, and all those things, while having no relation to the synthetic compound, can certainly make a person sick.

synthetic additives

Though it likes to spout out fear messages all the time, even the FDA technically concedes that all the 68 confirmed deaths related to vapes – like 68 from the inception of vaping until early 2020 (including 29 states and DC), were all really because of additives. This same concept was reiterated in a report by the UK, in which vaping was promoted as a way to stop people from smoking.

So yeah, there are reports of people getting hurt, but I have yet to see a death statistic specifically related to either regular cannabis, or the synthetic cannabis compounds, directly. As far as getting a little sick – well that happens with THC products, and is generally more related to ingesting too much. Something also relevant to all those prescription medications in the bathroom, and even the Tylenol which is bought over the counter. Incidentally, Tylenol causes approximately 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and 500 deaths a year, yet I don’t remember the last time I heard fear marketing from the government about using that product.

What study shows real cannabis products more popular than synthetics?

The purpose of the study wasn’t to establish if real cannabis products are more popular than synthetic products, but it established this information in the point it did make. The study is called Synthetic cannabinoid poisonings and access to the legal cannabis market: findings from US national poison centre data 2016–2019, and is meant to examine “trends in synthetic cannabinoid exposures reported to United States (US) poison control centres, and their association with status of state cannabis legalisation.”

How did they do this? With “Mixed-effects Poisson regression models” which “assessed synthetic exposures associated with legal status, first among all states using annual counts, and then among states that implemented permissive law alone using quarterly counts.” For this, they pulled data from the National Poison Data System (NPDS) for the years 2016-2019.

What did the study find? 7,600 reported exposures in the time frame investigated, with an overall decline through time. 64.8% of these required medical attention, and there were 61 deaths…though we already know they were unlikely directly related to cannabis compounds – synthetic or not.

States that had implemented medical cannabis laws had 13% fewer reported issues per year, while states that adopted more permissive policies during this time period saw a 37% lowered rate. As far as states that already had a permissive policy in place, there were 22% fewer reportings. Overall, states with retail markets, clocked in with 36% fewer issues than states without such policies.

Synthetic cannabis

Investigators concluded that “Adoption of permissive cannabis law was associated with significant reductions in reported synthetic cannabinoid exposures. More permissive cannabis law may have the unintended benefit of reducing both motivation and harms associated with use of synthetic cannabis products.”

What’s the other takeaway? Simply that the cannabinoid market itself (whether we’re talking about delta-8 THC or K2) relies on states being non-permissive. Given the chance, most people will choose the real thing over a synthetic product, making real cannabis more popular than its synthetic counterparts.

Conclusion

I don’t often speak well of the cannabinoid industry, because it is a dirty, shady place. But life is about comparisons, and compared to opioids, alcohol, and cigarettes, there’s so little issue with synthetic cannabinoids, that its hardly worth mentioning. On the other hand, with compounds like fentanyl finding themselves in tons of unwanted places, the unregulated aspect of the market could certainly pose problems.

For now – let’s be honest, bigger issues exist. And at least now we know that if the desire is to have synthetics fazed out, it’ll mean legalizing the actual plant, since real cannabis is more popular than synthetic cannabis.

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Oregon Cracks Down on Lab-Made Cannabinoids

Regulators in Oregon will enact a ban on cannabinoids produced through laboratory processes, making the state the first in the nation to restrict the sale of so-called synthesized cannabinoids at grocery stores and other general retailers. The ban from state cannabis regulators, which goes into effect on July 1, prohibits the sale of lab-made cannabinoids including delta-8 THC at supermarkets, drug stores, and other retailers that have not obtained a special license. The new regulations will go into effect only weeks after a federal appeals court ruled that delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids derived from hemp are legal under federal law.

Delta-8 THC and minor cannabinoids derived from hemp have become business across the country since the federal legalization of hemp agriculture and processing with the 2018 Farm Bill. Although these cannabinoids are generally found in hemp at very small concentrations if at all, many of the substances can be created in a lab through the chemical conversion of CBD. But the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) is concerned about the safety of the process and the chemicals used to carry it out and more than a dozen states have instituted bans on delta-8 THC.

Steven Crowley, the hemp and processing compliance specialist with the OLCC, told Oregon Live that delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids became increasingly popular with hemp processors after a glut of CBD flooded the market.

“The supply of CBD was outstripping the demand for CBD,” said Crowley. “And so, the people who had CBD on hand were looking for other ways that they could market it. People started working on different products that they could convert the CBD into. This is where you get the delta-8 THC products.”

FDA Issues Delta-8 THC Warning

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about delta-8 THC, noting that more than 100 reports of adverse effects caused by products containing the cannabinoid were recorded over the span of 15 months. And the OLCC is concerned about the safety of the chemicals used to process CBD into other cannabinoids and whether trace amounts of the substances can be retained in finished products.

“We have testing for pesticides,” said Crowley. “We have testing for residual solvents from the extraction process. We don’t have any testing for any of the whole universe of chemical reagents that you could use to synthetically turn one cannabinoid into something else, or for any of the byproducts of that reaction.”

The new OLCC regulations prohibit the sale of products containing synthesized cannabinoids at general retailers beginning on July 1. At that time, the sale of such products will be allowed exclusively at retailers licensed by the OLCC, but only after they have undergone rigorous safety testing and receive approval from the  FDA.

The decision by the OLCC is opposed by companies that produce and market cannabinoids derived from hemp including Wyld, an Oregon firm that manufacturers gummies with the cannabinoid CBN, which can be processed from CBD and has been shown to promote sleep. Gabe Lee, general counsel at Wyld and Wyld CBD, said that the new regulation will help the company’s bottom line and have a negative impact on consumers, as well.

“The Wyld elderberry CBN gummy is the number one selling gummy on earth right now,” said Lee. “It’s 20%-30% of our revenue depending on the state. People love it.”

Instead of a complete ban, Lee said that Oregon should draft best practices to be followed in the production of hemp-derived cannabinoids.

“There are ways to regulate it and there are definitely ways that we can ensure that the end product that’s being sold is subject to enough safety testing and safety standards to ensure, to the degree possible, the safety of the product without any sort of larger federal research grants or anything like that,” Lee said.

The attorney also noted that with the ban, consumers who have already been using the products without problems will see higher prices at licensed retailers.

“They may not want to go shop at an OLCC retailer or pay the prices that are up there,” Lee said, “because they are definitely charging a higher price in the OLCC regulated market than they are at New Seasons,” referring to a chain of neighborhood grocery stores popular in the Pacific Northwest.

The new regulations go into effect only weeks after a federal appeals court ruled that delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids derived from hemp are legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. In an opinion from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals released last month, Judge D. Michael Fisher wrote that products made with delta-8 THC are generally legal under federal law, which defines hemp as “any part of” the cannabis plant, including “all derivatives, extracts, [and] cannabinoids,” that contains less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC by weight.

Federal statute “is silent with regard to delta-8 THC,” the court said in its 3-0 ruling.

“Regardless of the wisdom of legalizing delta-8 THC products, this Court will not substitute its own policy judgment for that of Congress,” Fisher wrote in the appeals court’s unanimous decision.

The post Oregon Cracks Down on Lab-Made Cannabinoids appeared first on High Times.

Most Affected: Danny Rodriguez, Two-Time Victim of the Justice System

Danny Rodriguez’s first sentence, occurring in 1994 at the age of 20, was eventually deemed unconstitutional, but not before robbing him of 12 more years in prison than it should have. Rather than receiving a maximum ten years for the charge, he served 22. After over two decades in prison, Rodriguez was released and became embroiled in a contraband distribution ring, sending items like synthetic cannabis to prisoners across the country.

In 2017, his actions landed him in federal prison, where he received a 33 year sentence. Rodriguez told High Times in March that he didn’t think he could get in trouble for an over-the-counter synthetic cannabis. He claimed never to have imagined that he “Would receive a 33-year sentence for something that the Bureau of Prisons gives prisoners 30 days confinement.”

Like the 1994 case, they feel the system has delivered him another harsh sentence, noting that other ring members have not faced the same consequences.

While fighting for his freedom, the now-50-year-old Rodriguez is housed at USP Lee in Virginia with a release date of May 4, 2046. At USP Lee, a high-security prison, Rodriguez has seen his health deteriorate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All the while, his family lives states away in Florida, struggling with their own health matters. The family, which includes father Fernando, mother Gloria and his wife Yanina Cheij, hopes they can reunite before anyone’s health worsens.

Hard To Say Goodbye

Growing up in the Miami area, Rodriguez had his run-ins with the law. By 1994, Danny Rodriguez’s criminal record prevented him from possessing a firearm. That year, he’d be arrested and charged on four counts, including two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Initially charged by the state, federal authorities picked up the case three years later.

Ultimately, he’d be found guilty of the two felon in possession of a firearm charges. Deputy clerks cited the armed career criminal act as grounds to enhance the sentence from 10 years to 22. His legal team contested that his three years in the state system should count for time served, but that did not happen.

Years of court petitions seeking the acquittal or reset of the sentence ensued. In 2016, Rodriguez’s legal team would win out. Citing the 2015 Johnson v. United States decision, which, in part, contested the vaugeness of criminal statutes, Rodriguez’s 272 month sentence was amended to 120 months with the three years of state time served counting. In 2016, Rodriguez was released after over-serving the sentence by 12 years.

Post-release he opened a cleaning service in the Miami area. Still, Rodriguez said he felt indebted to his fellow inmates, who he’d formed a community with over two decades in prison. That feeling led him to working in a contraband distribution ring, during his supervised release, sending synthetic cannabis and other items to inmates. Rodriguez claims he never made money from the endeavor.

Likening fellow inmates to war buddies, Rodriguez said, “It’s very difficult to serve 20 years in prison, create a bond … and then just go home and say that part of my life never existed.”

The group planned to use sheets of paper soaked in synthetic THC, but authorities thwarted the operation before reaching any prisoners. Higher-ups in the organization were alleged to have provided evidence to the Feds in exchange for a lesser sentence. Rodriguez and his lawyers thought they could fight the case, believing synthetic cannabis did not fall under The Federal Analogue Act. But, instead of fighting the case, Rodriguez claims his legal team compelled him into pleading guilty with the belief he’d come home rather than go to prison. Ultimately, he was sentenced to 33 years in federal prison for synthetic cannabis and money laundering.

Danny’s father Fernando, courtesy of the Rodriguez family

A Family Fights For Freedom Again

Rodriguez’s family and advocates have rallied around him, calling for his release once again.

Efforts included a letter to then-President Trump written by Rodriguez’s mom. In the letter, she implored Trump to consider the disparity of the sentence, with Rodriguez receiving several decades while co-conspirators received probation.

“For God’s sake, pedophiles, criminal-illegals, rapists, murderers, even terrorists are given far lesser sentences for truly egregious crimes,” she wrote.

Efforts attracted the attention of prison rights advocate and former non-violent cannabis prisoner Weldon Angelos. Since gaining his release in May 2016 for non-violent cannabis charges, Angelos has fought for individuals like Rodriguez. The passion of Danny’s advocates and family resonated with Angelos, who started seeing social media posts about the case in 2021.

“I started looking into this, like ‘What’s this 33-year sentence for fake weed,’” Angelos recalled.

His organization, The Weldon Project, took up Rodriguez’s case as part of its Mission Green initiative, aimed at releasing prisoners and creating pathways for record expungements and pardons. He agrees that a sentencing disparity has occurred.

“Even if the co-defendants cooperated, the sentence disparity cannot be that large, especially when considering they were bigger players,” said Angelos.

As the fight for Rodriguez’s freedom rages on once again, the family must contend with their various health issues. The pandemic took a toll on Danny, with him moved twice in March 2021 to an outside medical facility for treatment. At the same time, Gloria’s health has put her in and out of emergency care in recent months. Fernando advocates for his son’s release while tending to his wife’s bedside.

While incarcerated, Angelos had his father pass away. He likened the experience to the Rodriguez family, citing concern for Fernando’s tenacious dedication.

“I talk to his dad frequently, and he does nothing but work on his son’s case,” reported Angelos. Rodriguez hopes to be moved to a lower-security prison closer to Florida in the coming months.

Angelos said the family and his organization are putting forth a package for President Biden to advocate for Rodriguez’s case and others like him. In the meantime, the public can take action by signing up for Rodriguez’s Change.org petition calling for his early release.

Angelos implores lawmakers and others to look beyond the case. “No one’s claiming Danny is a candy striper,” he said, adding, “We’re saying the sentence is so out of whack,” considering his current and past legal circumstances.

Awaiting any new developments in his case, Rodriguez finds himself with many thoughts, ranging from his family’s health to the idea of equal justice. One prevailing belief is that equal justice for all is a lost ideal.

“Equal justice evades our justice system,” said Rodriguez.

The post Most Affected: Danny Rodriguez, Two-Time Victim of the Justice System appeared first on High Times.

Most Affected: Danny Rodriguez, Two-Time Victim of the Justice System

Danny Rodriguez’s first sentence, occurring in 1994 at the age of 20, was eventually deemed unconstitutional, but not before robbing him of 12 more years in prison than it should have. Rather than receiving a maximum ten years for the charge, he served 22. After over two decades in prison, Rodriguez was released and became embroiled in a contraband distribution ring, sending items like synthetic cannabis to prisoners across the country.

In 2017, his actions landed him in federal prison, where he received a 33 year sentence. Rodriguez told High Times in March that he didn’t think he could get in trouble for an over-the-counter synthetic cannabis. He claimed never to have imagined that he “Would receive a 33-year sentence for something that the Bureau of Prisons gives prisoners 30 days confinement.”

Like the 1994 case, they feel the system has delivered him another harsh sentence, noting that other ring members have not faced the same consequences.

While fighting for his freedom, the now-50-year-old Rodriguez is housed at USP Lee in Virginia with a release date of May 4, 2046. At USP Lee, a high-security prison, Rodriguez has seen his health deteriorate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All the while, his family lives states away in Florida, struggling with their own health matters. The family, which includes father Fernando, mother Gloria and his wife Yanina Cheij, hopes they can reunite before anyone’s health worsens.

Hard To Say Goodbye

Growing up in the Miami area, Rodriguez had his run-ins with the law. By 1994, Danny Rodriguez’s criminal record prevented him from possessing a firearm. That year, he’d be arrested and charged on four counts, including two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Initially charged by the state, federal authorities picked up the case three years later.

Ultimately, he’d be found guilty of the two felon in possession of a firearm charges. Deputy clerks cited the armed career criminal act as grounds to enhance the sentence from 10 years to 22. His legal team contested that his three years in the state system should count for time served, but that did not happen.

Years of court petitions seeking the acquittal or reset of the sentence ensued. In 2016, Rodriguez’s legal team would win out. Citing the 2015 Johnson v. United States decision, which, in part, contested the vaugeness of criminal statutes, Rodriguez’s 272 month sentence was amended to 120 months with the three years of state time served counting. In 2016, Rodriguez was released after over-serving the sentence by 12 years.

Post-release he opened a cleaning service in the Miami area. Still, Rodriguez said he felt indebted to his fellow inmates, who he’d formed a community with over two decades in prison. That feeling led him to working in a contraband distribution ring, during his supervised release, sending synthetic cannabis and other items to inmates. Rodriguez claims he never made money from the endeavor.

Likening fellow inmates to war buddies, Rodriguez said, “It’s very difficult to serve 20 years in prison, create a bond … and then just go home and say that part of my life never existed.”

The group planned to use sheets of paper soaked in synthetic THC, but authorities thwarted the operation before reaching any prisoners. Higher-ups in the organization were alleged to have provided evidence to the Feds in exchange for a lesser sentence. Rodriguez and his lawyers thought they could fight the case, believing synthetic cannabis did not fall under The Federal Analogue Act. But, instead of fighting the case, Rodriguez claims his legal team compelled him into pleading guilty with the belief he’d come home rather than go to prison. Ultimately, he was sentenced to 33 years in federal prison for synthetic cannabis and money laundering.

Danny’s father Fernando, courtesy of the Rodriguez family

A Family Fights For Freedom Again

Rodriguez’s family and advocates have rallied around him, calling for his release once again.

Efforts included a letter to then-President Trump written by Rodriguez’s mom. In the letter, she implored Trump to consider the disparity of the sentence, with Rodriguez receiving several decades while co-conspirators received probation.

“For God’s sake, pedophiles, criminal-illegals, rapists, murderers, even terrorists are given far lesser sentences for truly egregious crimes,” she wrote.

Efforts attracted the attention of prison rights advocate and former non-violent cannabis prisoner Weldon Angelos. Since gaining his release in May 2016 for non-violent cannabis charges, Angelos has fought for individuals like Rodriguez. The passion of Danny’s advocates and family resonated with Angelos, who started seeing social media posts about the case in 2021.

“I started looking into this, like ‘What’s this 33-year sentence for fake weed,’” Angelos recalled.

His organization, The Weldon Project, took up Rodriguez’s case as part of its Mission Green initiative, aimed at releasing prisoners and creating pathways for record expungements and pardons. He agrees that a sentencing disparity has occurred.

“Even if the co-defendants cooperated, the sentence disparity cannot be that large, especially when considering they were bigger players,” said Angelos.

As the fight for Rodriguez’s freedom rages on once again, the family must contend with their various health issues. The pandemic took a toll on Danny, with him moved twice in March 2021 to an outside medical facility for treatment. At the same time, Gloria’s health has put her in and out of emergency care in recent months. Fernando advocates for his son’s release while tending to his wife’s bedside.

While incarcerated, Angelos had his father pass away. He likened the experience to the Rodriguez family, citing concern for Fernando’s tenacious dedication.

“I talk to his dad frequently, and he does nothing but work on his son’s case,” reported Angelos. Rodriguez hopes to be moved to a lower-security prison closer to Florida in the coming months.

Angelos said the family and his organization are putting forth a package for President Biden to advocate for Rodriguez’s case and others like him. In the meantime, the public can take action by signing up for Rodriguez’s Change.org petition calling for his early release.

Angelos implores lawmakers and others to look beyond the case. “No one’s claiming Danny is a candy striper,” he said, adding, “We’re saying the sentence is so out of whack,” considering his current and past legal circumstances.

Awaiting any new developments in his case, Rodriguez finds himself with many thoughts, ranging from his family’s health to the idea of equal justice. One prevailing belief is that equal justice for all is a lost ideal.

“Equal justice evades our justice system,” said Rodriguez.

The post Most Affected: Danny Rodriguez, Two-Time Victim of the Justice System appeared first on High Times.

Is Synthetic THC the Same as Natural THC?

There’s a lot of talk about synthetics in the cannabis industry, and for good reason, there are a bunch. But, what exactly does this mean? And why are we sometimes told synthetics are bad, and other times told they’re the only thing we should use? And how close is something like synthetic THC to its natural THC counterpart? The world of synthetics can be a confusing place, let’s take a look.

Synthetic THC can be perfectly fine, just ask the government about dronabinol the next time it tells you synthetics are categorically bad! We cover everything in the cannabis and psychedelics industry, and work everyday to get you the best stories out there. Check out the THC Weekly Newsletter to stay in-the-loop on what’s going on, and to get special access to deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and more! We’ve also got great offers on cannabinoids, like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC, which won’t leave a hole in your pocket. Take a look at our “Best-of” lists to find them, and enjoy responsibly!


What’s a synthetic?

First off, whether you promote them or are scared of them, the definition of a synthetic is the same either way. A synthetic drug is something that’s put together by a human using component parts, rather than being built by nature. A synthetic can’t grow in the ground, but something that does grow in the ground, can have a synthetic version of itself made. In a laboratory, the same compounds that make up the natural one, can be put together using different processes.

Are these processes safe? Sometimes, sure. But sometimes not as much, or with caveats that require chemicals to be used that can interfere with the final product. In essence, a synthetic version of something like THC is meant to be an identical version of natural THC. But that identical version might be tainted by chemical residue.

And then there are synthetic drugs that aren’t made to replicate anything that exists in nature. Some are just drugs created in a lab, like LSD, which though based off the ergot fungus, is its own compound, which isn’t a replication of anything. Or delta-10, which is very similar to delta-9, but which is only created in a lab. They are not exact replicas of something existent, meaning they only show up as synthetic drugs. Big Pharma also provides synthetic THC medications like Marinol/Syndros (AKA dronabinol) and Cesamet (AKA nabilone). While nabilone is said to be based on THC, but not identical, dronabinol is a direct replica of THC, with the exact same chemical formula and makeup.

So the only versions of marijuana with any approval, are strictly synthetics, yet we are constantly told that synthetics are dangerous. And generally, when being told they’re dangerous, the pharma options are left out, and the drugs that get designated as synthetics are Spice, K2, and fake cannabinoids, which are put in a grouping with bath salts and methamphetamine, rather than with dronabinol, nabilone, or any opioid on the market.

Yup the entire opioids industry is all synthetic. The government isn’t handing out poppy flowers for people to smoke, they’re putting them on synthetic versions of opiates like hydrocodone and fentanyl. In fact, every pharma product is a synthetic, since plants can’t be patented, and would never end up in a pharmaceutical product. Kind of takes the air out of the argument against synthetics, when the argument comes from the medical industry and government, which together provide for synthetics only.

Is synthetic THC a big thing?

Yes, synthetic THC is widely used. Partly as a pharmaceutical drug through the use of dronabinol (and similar drugs like nabilone), partly because in some places there isn’t access to regular cannabis because of local government bans, partly because even when real cannabis is available in some places, its not as cost-effective as synthetic products, and partly because there’s a widely used black market that uses cheaper synthetics in products like vape carts and edibles, and often sells them out of fake dispensaries.

There was a time when I was abroad when all I could get was synthetic weed. It didn’t look like weed, but rather, like a handful of something picked up off the ground. Which I imagine had something sprayed on it. Most of the time it was perfectly fine, but a couple times I get very sick, which ended my use of fake weed. Do I blame this on whatever synthetic compound was in it? No, I think it was more likely related to random vegetation being used, which could have been fertilized, or have rat poison in it, or something else liable to make me sick.

Obviously, we all love THC, it’s the driving force behind weed. The first pharma cannabis product to come out, dronabinol, is synthetic THC, and this is because it’s understood that there is a strong and valid medical value. So regardless of whether its being used to induce the appetite of a cancer patient going through chemo, or used to make yourself super high after a long day, it’s a sought after compound, which explains the consistency of the weed industry, despite constant efforts to thwart it with regulation and smear campaigns.

What about the cannabinoids industry?

The cannabinoids industry is a great example of the popularity of synthetic THC products. The cannabinoids industry is a fringe, but currently stable, part of the cannabis industry that relies entirely on synthetics, both of already existent compounds, and of compounds that don’t exist in nature. Take delta-8 THC, for example. Delta-8 THC exists as a natural compound, but though it can be sourced directly from the plant, it’s available in tiny amounts only, which is not enough for production. Therefore, any delta-8 product you see, is synthetically made by converting either delta-9 or CBD to delta-8.

cannabinoids

Delta-8 THC is therefore like dronabinol. They are both the same as what occurs in nature, but made in a lab, which requires the use of chemicals to force the conversion. However, in the delta-8 industry, the lack of regulation means that a consumer isn’t necessarily going to get what they think they are. So though the delta-8 sold is said to be ‘hemp-derived’, or ‘naturally-derived’, its actually synthetic, and since none of the companies producing it are regulated, its also not necessarily delta-8 at all. And that’s a problem.

This is true of the other cannabinoids as well, like CBG, HHC, THC-O, delta-10, and so on. Whether naturally occurring or not, they are only sold synthetically, even though they are said to be hemp-derived. Delta-9 is also being sold as hemp-derived, as a means of getting around regulation, when in reality, just means synthetic delta-9. What else is synthetic delta-9? Dronabinol! What gives dronabinol a leg up? It’s sure to be what it’s supposed to be, whereas cannabinoids sold in the cannabinoids market, have no such guarantee.

Are synthetics dangerous?

This is an interesting question, because if you want a sweeping answer of ‘yes’, then the government and big pharma are pushing dangerous medications. If you want a sweeping answer of ‘no’, then it validates what is actually a very dirty industry. Far as I can tell, the answer is somewhere in the middle.

The cannabinoids industry is dirty and disgusting, down to fake labs to give fake results to encourage trust among consumers. When people get sick from vape cartridges, it tends to be from something added in. And that’s one of the big problems with an unregulated market. Add in unsafe chemicals used for flavoring, coloring, stabilizing, or simply to create a stronger drug, and people can definitely get hurt. Just like when I smoked the fake weed that made me sick. It probably wasn’t the synthetic chemical meant to make me high that made me sick, but something bad added in there.

The two main issues that I see with synthetics industries, are 1) added chemicals that can make people sick, and 2) chemicals used in processing that might not be eradicated by the end, making for a tainted product. The positive of the government sanctioned options, is that they should at least be clean of added chemicals, though this says nothing for processing techniques.

Plus, if we decide the synthetics made by Big Pharma are totally cool, then there would be no reason not to allow the plant itself, since these synthetics are identical to, or closely based off, the plant. In fact, the biggest different between the regulated synthetics industry (Big Pharma) and the unregulated synthetics industry (delta-8 sellers etc..), is that one is government approved, and one is not. So one goes by regulation, and one does not. One gets taxed as a cannabis product, and one does not.

synthetic THC

Recent news of Shopify banning the sale of unregulated cannabinoids looks to be the first major effort of the US government to thwart the industry. And considering how filthy it is, with fake products that don’t meet description, this isn’t necessarily bad. Realistically, most of us still have access to the plant, so we shouldn’t need synthetics anyway.

As far as answering the question of whether synthetics are dangerous, it really depends on who you ask. Cannabinoid sellers lie about their products being ‘naturally-derived’, which means they’re trying to avoid saying that what they’re selling is synthetic. Companies that outright lie are dangerous to begin with, and its hard to trust that their products are safe. On the other hand, the government loves spreading the line that synthetics are dangerous, while at the very same time promoting them through Big Pharma. So neither side is being particularly helpful in proving a point. It seems to me that the synthetics themselves aren’t necessarily bad, but that the industry around them, or the production techniques to make them, can lead to dirty products.

I find France vs the EU as a great story to highlight just how far governments will go to ban a natural product while selling a synthetic version of it. France lost because it couldn’t show the EU’s highest court how CBD was dangerous, which is probably because if it had tried to make that argument, the same argument could have been used against the country for selling the pharma version Epidiolex. France lost, making natural CBD legal all throughout the EU. If it had won, it would have barred the import of natural CBD from other EU countries, while selling the synthetic version, Epidiolex, in France.

Conclusion

I’ve used plenty of synthetic THC in life without dying, and so have many other consumers. Realistically, barely any of us have had an issue. This does nothing to abate safety concerns related to unwanted chemicals, or effects, but it does imply that there generally shouldn’t be a problem. It should always be remembered that there are two parts to this industry, a regulated one and an unregulated one. And whatever is said about safety, is generally guided by which market it’s a part of. That something like bath salts would be considered in any way similar to something like delta-8 THC, is a great reminder of how much information is skewed for consumers.

So just remember the next time the government tells you all synthetics are bad, that the government only approves synthetic medications! Perhaps we’d all be doing a bit better if the government saw fit to hand out poppies rather than fentanyl. In fact, opioids are a great place to see the idea of synthetic vs real, because no one seems to die from poppies, whereas 60,000+ die a year from overdoses on synthetic opioids, with that number on an upward trajectory. The government tends to say what’s convenient at the time to make tax money. If it really wanted to rule out synthetic cannabis, it would be ruling out Big Pharma as well.

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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Is Synthetic THC the Same as Natural THC? appeared first on CBD Testers.

Fake Edibles Are Taking Over, How to Make Sure You’re Getting the Real Deal

We know synthetic cannabis gets sold, and we know the fake vape market is huge. But what about fake edibles? As the legitimate cannabis industry grows, so does its black market counterpart, and that means even fake edibles. Here’s how to know you’re getting the real deal.

The fakes market is always out there, and you must be your own informed buyer if you don’t want to end up with fake edibles and fake vape carts. It’s definitely a know-your-brands world. We’ve got tons of real-deal products for you to try out your favorite cannabis compounds. Subscribe to The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter. Also save big on Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!


Cannabis black market

Simply legalizing something and creating a legal market, is rarely the end of the story, and certainly not when dealing with cannabis. It should be remembered that the cannabis industry has survived quite strongly as a black market, and it is the legal industry that seeks to divert from these well-established channels. While it’s nearly impossible to get precise statistics, there is plenty that we know about the black market cannabis industry vs the legal cannabis industry in America.

It’s been understood for several years now that the legal cannabis market has been having problems competing with the black market. California is a great example of the problems that abound. Different states can have different issues, because of different levels and intensities of regulation and taxes. However, as the biggest single market in the US, and the world, California tells us a lot about what we can expect.

California’s legal market brought in approximately $3 billion in 2019. That same year the black market brought in an estimated $8.7 billion. When looking at where and how people are buying their cannabis goods, California is also a great example. According to a Politico article, California – possibly due to its strict regulations – has a lower number of legal dispensaries per inhabitants. Whereas Washington state and Colorado have 17-18 dispensaries per 100,000 residents, California has closer to two. In fact, the state only has about 823 licensed dispensaries.

cannabis dispensary

On the other hand, it has about 3,000 illegal dispensaries and delivery services. Possibly as many as 50,000 illegal growing operations, and a growing range of synthetic and black market products. Whereas the black market used to be strictly a flower market (edibles were more done on a personal basis in my experience), it has now evolved to mimic the products of the legal market. And that means fake vapes and fake edibles as well.

The legal market is having such a hard time competing with the black market, that the California cannabis industry received approval for a bailout in 2021. Though there could be many reasons for having difficulty moving a black market to a legal one, one of the biggest issues seems to be in price, with very high taxes being applied, which make the illegal operations look that much better.

While California might have the biggest woes, these issues can be seen in every legal market, where few, if any, have surpassed the local black market. This was evidenced to me by the massive number of black market dispensaries in Las Vegas, some even brazen enough (or connected enough) to open their illegal operations, and sell their products, in the middle of the Las Vegas strip.

Fake edibles – is this really an issue?

The increase in vapes and edibles has been one of the distinguishing factors of the cannabis boom. Before this century, there was no market for these products, legal or otherwise. And now they’re highly popular items. Seattle based firm Headset, which specializes in cannabis analytics, put out end-of-year data showing a 60% increase from the year before, across seven states, when it came to edibles. This accounted for both medical and recreational in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Edibles took up about 11% of the cannabis market share in 2020 for these states.

When I was in Las Vegas, it became easy to tell a real dispensary from a fake dispensary. Real dispensaries always checked IDs, sell more than just distillate vapes, use pricing that accounts for taxes, and will ALWAYS go by regulation in terms of how much THC can be in a product. When I saw gummies with 40 mg of THC per gummy advertised in Nevada, I knew it wasn’t real because Nevada has a 10 mg limit. So should it be expected these gummies actually have THC in them at all?

Not really. Just like selling fake vapes as distillates, (because distillates don’t taste like cannabis and can be faked easily with the same flavoring used for synthetics), the same is true for edibles. And since they’re made to look like the real thing anyway, making a synthetic edible can mean literally using the real thing…along with synthetics. According to a journalist for Complex magazine, Zachary Harris, “all dealers need to do is unwrap bulk quantities of real Nerds Rope or Sour Patch candies, spray them with cheap THC distillate, and repackage them in the pre-labeled edible bags.”

black market edibles

In terms of what he meant by ‘cheap THC distillate’, Harris went on to explain that most of the time the distillate is actually the same thing used in fake vapes. Likely the same HHC-related compound that shows up as fake cannabis, usually in the form of something sprayed onto something else. This is relevant to products being sold as fake flower, what ends up in vape carts, and what goes into edibles too.

While Harris stipulated that this doesn’t mean there’s going to be a massive health crises ensuing, he does point out that this can mean potentially unsafe manufacturing practices, with unexpected variation in potency, both of which can lead to issues including using the wrong amount, contamination, the use of dangerous additives, and a myriad of health issues that can come from various chemical additives.

Here are a few things to look out for if you think you might be buying fake edibles:

  • First and foremost, where did you get them? If you didn’t get them from a legit dispensary, they’re very likely not real. You can assess this by whether the dispensary checked your ID at the door, the amount of THC in products, the presence of vapes that aren’t distillates or isolates, and the general price of products. If an ID isn’t checked, if only distillate carts are sold, if the THC in products goes over the allowable regulated amount for that location, and if the products don’t match standard dispensary pricing, you are unlikely to be in a legit dispensary.
  • Does the company exist online? If you can’t find any information about the company putting out the product, it’s probably not real. Real companies have plenty of information available on their products, and generally work to have a verifiable online presence. If this can’t be found, beware of the products.
  • What about the packaging? If the packaging for the edibles is found in bulk online, then its likely to be fake. Real companies don’t sell their packaging online, and they don’t buy it from online either. They create their own, with their own branding and labeling. If you bought a product for which you can buy the packing yourself online, it’s likely not legit. This is especially true if the product uses branding from known non-cannabis retailers. No legit business will use copyrighted material from another company.
  • Does it all sync up? Does the product match the packaging, or is it off in some way? If there are discrepancies, it’s likely fake. If the packaging looks like it was not meant for that specific product, it really probably wasn’t. The packaging should be realistic to the product inside, and if it’s not, the product might not be real at all.
fake cannabis edibles

Are fake edibles just as bad as fake vapes?

It certainly doesn’t seem like it, though it’s hard to know for sure, and they both come with their own issues. One of the problems with vapes, is that they include the use of heat, and heat can cause problems by changing compounds, or causing them to interact in different (and unexpected) ways. So, while an edible and a vape cart might have the same additive compounds, that issue might be more problematic when it comes to actually smoking them. There’s also the issue of what some of these chemicals might do in the long term, that we just don’t have data for yet. It took years to know that smoking causes cancer, perhaps we’ll find out some of the chemicals used in fake cannabis products, are also carcinogenic.

One of the things about edibles, especially when illicit, is that they’re not in any kind of child-proof container (also a decent giveaway these days, as legit companies generally over-package their products to be barely openable). And let’s be honest, every kid likes candy. While I often scoff at government fear campaigns, I can see an honest issue here. Whether legit or synthetic, a small child shouldn’t have access, and these tactics make it that much easier for kids to eat what they should not.

As with vapes, the last practical aspect of looking at this, is that a buyer simply isn’t going to get what they’re intending to get, if the active ingredient is different. Sure, a person might pay out less, but that’s weird to begin with, and means getting something other than what’s being advertised. People are so strung out for cash, that a cheaper option often won’t be questioned, even when it offers something too good to be true, and the result is less than that. If a legal dispensary is selling .5 gram vape carts at close to $50, then getting one gram anywhere for $30 should be a major tip-off. Just like, if a pack of gummies with 10 mg per gummy costs $40 in a real dispensary, and a fake one is offering 40 mg of THC each, twice as many, and at half the cost, then there’s probably a problem.

Conclusion

The idea of products being tainted is always problematic, and that seems to be a huge issue in today’s cannabis black market. Maybe today its not a super-massive issue, but tomorrow it could be. The isolated incidences of vape deaths from additives tell us this can happen. Much like with vapes, and dispensaries in general, it’s a buyer-beware market. Good products exist, but not all can be bought on the black market. So unless you want fake edibles and fake vapes, I suggest being an informed shopper, and knowing both the dispensary from which you’re buying the products, and the companies putting them out.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Fake Edibles Are Taking Over, How to Make Sure You’re Getting the Real Deal appeared first on CBD Testers.

Artificial High – The History of Cannabis Synthetics

The idea that cannabis exists as a pharmaceutical product, is still strange to people like me who grew up with the plant as the only form of ingestion. Whereas some medications have no natural counterpart, like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Benadryl (diphenhydramine), some do, like anything based off cannabis. And we know the plant itself works fine, but that hasn’t stopped an immense amount of research into synthetic cannabis, and the production of synthetic cannabis products. Here we’ll take a look at the history of cannabis synthetics, and what can be expected in the future.

The history of cannabis synthetics is important because it’s a large part of today’s current market, including products like delta-8 THC. Though delta-8 is naturally occurring, it does require human synthetization help to provide large quantities, which means the dealt-8 we use in products, is all synthetic. We’re into quality cannabis products, whether naturally occurring or synthetic, and have a nice selection of delta-8 THC, delta 10 THCTHCVTHC-OHHC, THCP and even legal hemp-derived Delta-9 THC products. Subscribe to the Delta 8 Weekly and check ’em out!

What is a synthetic?

First things first, when talking about the history of cannabis synthetics, or simply what the synthetic version of something is, it’s best to know what we’re talking about. According Dictionary.com, the definition of ‘synthetic’ encompasses several principals. Under adjective, the definitions that relate to cannabis are:

  • Of, pertaining to, proceeding by, or involving synthesis (opposed to analytic).
  • Noting or pertaining to compounds formed through a chemical process by human agency, as opposed to those of natural origin: synthetic vitamins; synthetic fiber.
  • Not real or genuine; artificial; feigned: a synthetic chuckle at a poor joke.

Under noun, the following relates to cannabis:

  • Something made by a synthetic, or chemical, process.
  • Substances or products made by chemical synthesis, as plastics or artificial fibers.
  • The science or industry concerned with such products.

A synthetic is something that was created, rather than occurring naturally, although this not does negate that a naturally-occurring compound can also come as a synthetic. A synthetic is something that is not real or genuine, but is instead artificial. Synthetics are made through a process, and studying synthetics, means studying the process of making artificial products. Thus, synthetic cannabis compounds, are compounds that do not exist in nature on their own (or which do, but still require synthetization help outside of nature for products), and are manufactured by human production. This can relate to much more than just cannabis. For example, a lot of clothing uses synthetic plastic fibers rather than natural ones like cotton or hemp.

Have You Tried The New High-Potency THCP Vape Cartridges?

Main points of cannabis research

When talking about the history of cannabis research in general, two of the occurrences that stand out the most are related to the isolation of certain compounds: the two main compounds of the cannabis plant. By isolating a compound, researchers can understand what it is, how it’s made, and are then able to synthesize it, and modify it. The two most spoken about findings in cannabis history are these:

1940 – The funny thing about the solation of CBD, is that it gets way less attention than the isolation of delta-9 THC, even as the current CBD industry booms. In fact, the name Doctor Roger Adams is way less known than Raphael Mechoulam, the guy up next. However, back in 1940, Roger Adams and his team at the University of Illinois, were the first to isolate CBD. In 1940, the team published their findings here: Structure of Cannabidiol, a Product Isolated from the Marihuana Extract of Minnesota Wild Hemp. It should be noted, that while Adams was not the first one to synthesize delta-9 completely, he was the first one to identify it, and he did do a partial synthesis.

1964 – Doctor Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli researcher from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, isolated delta-9 THC for the first time in 1964. Mechoulam and team published their findings here: Isolation, Structure, and Partial Synthesis of an Active Constituent of Hashish. Since this time, Mechoulam has been a leader in the industry, actively taking part in research, and even discovering this synthetic cannabinoid in 2020, called HB 580, or cannabidiolic acid methyl ester. And this at the ripe old age of 90. Mechoulam is still the president of The Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Tons of other research has been done into different compounds within the cannabis plant, its history of use, and how it can be used today. But somehow, the isolation of these two main cannabinoids stands out as beacons in the history of cannabis research. And it’s through the finding of these compounds, that the history of cannabis synthetics began.

History of cannabis synthetics

If you’ll notice from the publication put out by Mechoulam and team in 1964, in the title it directly states that not only did they identify delta-9 THC, but they did a partial synthesis of the compound. What does this mean if delta-9 does appear in nature? It means, the researchers were able to isolate and map the compound, and that they then attempted to re-create it themselves, without help from nature. The ‘isolation’ is the part where the single molecule can be taken and studied, its chemical formula identified, and its chemical structure mapped. The ‘synthesis’ part is when the same molecule is created through human production. This might make it seem like the history of cannabis synthetics started here, but once again, it was really the other guy.

The thing about Roger Adams, is that he didn’t just isolate CBD, he isolated CBN (cannabinol), identified delta-9 THC as well, and was able to show the relationship between CBD, CBN and delta-9, as the three are isomers to each other. Not only that, he was able to synthesize analogues of CBN and delta-9, meaning he was able to create artificial versions of these cannabinoid analogues. He wasn’t, however, the only one doing this at that time!

cannabinoids

Enter Doctor Alexander Todd, the British researcher who was neck and neck with Roger Adams, and who received a Nobel prize for his work with nucleotides. In 1940, while at the University of Manchester, at the age of only 32, and working with a very small research group, Todd was able to isolate CBD from a sample of hashish from India. He published his findings in the journal Nature in 1940. Adams submitted his first notes on CBD in 1939 to the Journal of America Chemical Society, making him technically first over Todd. Todd’s version was without detail originally, with a full detailed version published in March of 1940 in the Journal of Chemical Society

Adams’ early synthetization of cannabinoids can be seen in his published research, which additionally shows a partial synthesis of delta-9 THC. Both Adams and Todd showed the isolation of CBN, which was fully mapped before CBD. Adams takes the win for first providing the structure of CBD, though Todd was right there with him. In fact, the two scientists spent a few years dueling in the scientific press, each publishing their findings as they came to them, in direct competition with each other. Later on, the two scientists became good friends and even worked together. It should be pointed out that the goal of both scientists had been to find the intoxicating agent of cannabis (delta-9), which neither ever established for sure.

During this time, delta-9 THC was not synthesized fully, though it was identified. But other compounds were synthesized, like CBN, CBD, and analogues of these cannabinoids and delta-9. CBN seems to be the very first cannabinoid that was synthesized in the quest to find delta-9, which CBN was assumed to be very closely related to. This makes CBN and CBD the first examples of synthetic cannabinoids, even though they do appear in nature. This reinforces the idea that a naturally occurring compound, can also be produced in synthetic form.

Cannabis synthetics today

We could have a whole debate about why cannabis was illegalized, and the part that pharmaceutical companies played in it, as a way to minimize use of a plant that couldn’t be patented. And while we could go back and forth on that one, the results of it can be seen clearly in today’s world. For example, while the US government likes to talk about how bad synthetics are, it also approved synthetic cannabinoid medications like Dronabinol, Epidiolex, and Sativex, and this in place of allowing the actual plant which has been used for thousands of years. This means, the only cannabis medications approved in the US, are synthetics.

In a great example of how far a government will go to protect pharmaceutical interests, France literally went to court with the EU over the ability to block sales and imports of naturally-occurring CBD. Of course, what the majority of reporters missed in the story, was that while France went on and on about the dangers of CBD (which it failed to back up in court), it was allowing GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, a synthetic version of CBD, to be sold. Kind of seems like France wasn’t actually all that against CBD, huh?

At this point, there are about a million synthetic cannabinoids out. From non-naturally occurring like THC-O-Acetate, delta-10 THC, and canabidiolic acid methyl ester, to naturally occurring, like delta-8 THC, Dronabinol (THC), and Epidiolex (cannabidiol). And then, of course, there are the compounds that are generally thought of as synthetic, like Spice and K2, although these are no more or less synthetic than the pharmaceutical versions being sold to patients, and were discovered through the same lines of research. In fact, the compound that led to spice and K2, was none other than HHC, which was created in a lab in a search to find a simplified, yet working, THC compound. THC-O-Acetate was also an early street synthetic, possibly put out by the military, as the military was doing testing on this compound, and it seems to have shown up in public around that time.

legal cannabis synthetics

Some of the first non-naturally occurring cannabinoids to be synthesized were non-naturally occurring delta THCs like delta-7 THC and delta-10 THC, synthesized around the time that Adams first identified delta-9. The very first cannabis medicine to be approved in the US, was Dronabinol, under the name of Marinol, which gained FDA approval in 1985. Marinol, of course, is synthetic, meaning the very first cannabis medicine allowed in current day America, is synthetic. Clearly the US is A-okay with synthetics.

What can be expected in the future should be obvious. Use of the plant will likely not be stopped, but increasing pressure will probably be put on consumers to buy pharmaceutical products. The demonization and smear campaigns for cannabis will in all probability continue since they incite fear, and can be used to push the pharmaceutical ‘better answer’. And though this ‘better answer’ might prove to be true for people fighting ailments like cancer, for many people, nothing more than the plant would ever be necessary.

Conclusion

It might not be very well known, but the history of cannabis synthetics started at around the same time as the first major breakthrough in cannabis research. Adams and Todd led the charge in the early 40’s, identifying isolating, and synthesizing CBD and CBN, making them the first isolated cannabinoids, and the first examples of synthetic cannabis compounds.

Hi there and welcome! Thanks for joining us at CBDtesters.co, the best online location for the most relevant and up-to-date cannabis and psychedelics-related news from around the world. Stop by regularly to stay abreast of the exciting universe of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and sign up to get our newsletter, so you always know what’s going on.

DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Artificial High – The History of Cannabis Synthetics appeared first on CBD Testers.

Delta-8 THC Threatens Legal Cannabis Industry

Let’s be honest, the cannabis market is becoming a cut-throat one, with everyone looking to make a buck, a range of low-level and possibly dangerous products on the market, and a rush by local governments to save revenue by outlawing what they can’t regulate. This brings up the question of whether a hemp-derived THC like delta-8 threatens the revenue of the legal cannabis industry, and explains why recreational states are quickly banning it.

Delta-8 THC runs the gamut from accusations that it threatens the legal industry, to governments like Texas which recently failed to fully criminalize it. What’s all the fuss about? Well, this alternate form of THC gives a milder psychoactive high, doesn’t create the anxiety that delta-9 can, and leaves users with more energy and less couch locking. There are very good reasons why delta-8 is liked by so many, and we have an array of great Delta-8 THC deals that can get you started with this new form of THC.

What is hemp-derived THC?

In short, THC and CBD are the two more prevalent cannabinoids in a cannabis plant. Some plants, which we use the term ‘marijuana’ for as a differentiator, have more than .3% of THCA in the plant, whereas the term ‘hemp’ implies cannabis with less than .3% THCA, and a higher amount of CBDA. The reason I use the terms ‘THCA’ and ‘CBDA’, instead of ‘THC’ and ‘CBD’, is because THCA and CBDA are the precursor acids that are found in cannabis flowers, and the actual compounds for which these measurements are made in fresh and dry plants. THC and CBD occur only after decarboxylation. Even the term ‘THC’ really isn’t a good one, as that merely stands for ‘tetrahydrocannabinols’, and the THC of interest is specifically delta-9.

It is much easier to extract THCA from marijuana plants since there’s way more of it there. In hemp plants, it only exists in small amounts, but CBDA exists in larger amounts. This CBDA can be converted into CBD, and then into delta-9 by way of a solvent and some processing. Realistically, this is not the issue, though. The issue, is that it can also be used to source delta-8 THC.

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Delta-8 THC is also naturally occurring, like delta-9, and is produced through the oxidation of delta-9 when it comes into contact with oxygen. This happens at an extremely low rate, however, so in order to produce enough to be used in products, human processing help is needed. This has caused an argument as to whether delta-8 should be considered a synthetic, and bound to laws related to THC synthetics.

The delta-8 legality issue

What should be pointed out about delta-8, is that while there is still talk of a federal loophole, and while it seemed briefly like this might be the case, it never was the case at all. Even if it had been, the US government ended all discussion of its federal legal status by officially adding it to the DEA’s Controlled Substances list, as an alternate name for ‘tetrahydrocannabinols’, along with delta-9, for regulation under DEA criminal code 7370. This wasn’t totally necessary in my opinion, as , even without considering it synthetic (which is indeed debatable), its still an analogue of delta-9, and therefore illegal due to the Federal Analogue Act.

CBD to delta-8

Plus, since its an isomer of delta-9, its also required that concentrations not be over .3% for processing or final products, which rules out the ability to use it anyway. As stated, whatever debate there was, ended with the Controlled Substances list update. However, why this is happening is a very good question, as delta-8 itself has not been found to be dangerous, but merely the possible processing techniques that can use harsh chemicals. I’ve said it several times already, but this means all that’s needed is regulation in the delta-8 industry, not an illegalization of it.

The reason we’re talking about this at all, is because the 2018 US Farm Bill legalized hemp production and the production of hemp-based products. The perceived delta-8 loophole gave the impression that THC could legally be sold, leading an industry to sprout up around it. Delta-8 isn’t merely a half-brother to delta-9, it has its own impressive list of characteristics that actually make it a better option for many recreational and medical users. This is primarily because delta-8 has not been shown to produce the anxiety and paranoia of delta-9, and it’s associated with less couch-locking effect, a slightly less intense psychoactive high, more energy, and a clearer-head.

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It’s no wonder that recreational users who experience anxiety with delta-9 would like this product, and the same for medical users who don’t want to be weighed down during treatment. As delta-8 produces nearly the identical list of medical benefits, it therefore provides a really great workaround for some of the issues associated with delta-9. And so, legal or not, the industry has been pushing it out, with some worried that this hemp-derived THC will cannibalize legal THC sales. This is what’s being spoken about now in Washington state.

How delta-8 threatens the legal industry

First and foremost, any black market like delta-8 threatens a legal industry, that’s just the nature of it. So what’s going on here, is essentially no different than the legal industry fighting the standard cannabis black market, which it already is doing a lackluster job with, likely because of high prices due to taxes. In that sense, complaining about delta-8 is kind of useless, and simply highlights that its a black market product. Let’s be honest though, delta-8 threatens the legal industry way less than the standard cannabis illicit industry does, and this is not likely to change.

The complaint being made, regardless of how relevant – or even true it is, is that marijuana growers in Washington are afraid they’ll be put out of business by the growing delta-8 market. The reason given by growers, as per mjbizdaily, is that its cheaper to convert CBD into delta-8 and 9, than to grow marijuana plants. This sounds a bit suspect to me, since both cases involve growing cannabis plants, with the former method requiring extra processing, thereby likely making it more expensive. It sounds more like these growers are simply angry that they’re legal, and competing with an illegal part of the industry.

Delta-8 legal industry

As of right now, Washington state law requires marijuana to be grown only by licensed producers, with only their products available in dispensaries. This is, of course, how legalized location works, and is not specific to Washington at all, or even the cannabis industry. In any regulated industry, products must come from licensed providers only in order to be in concert with the law.

It should be pointed out, that much like with federal regulation which never legally allowed delta-8, neither does Washington state as of late April, 2021. At that time, the States Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSCLB), issued a statement regarding the banning of lab-created cannabis products from hemp. This is standard, as synthetics have never been covered by any legalization in any state. The statement made, talks about “the conversion of CBD, hemp, or both to Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC, or any other marijuana compound that is not currently identified or defined in the RCW, the WAC, or both.”

This clarifying statement came about because products were being sold that were in violation of the State’s law, which only allows pre-approved marijuana-infused products. Legal products must be grown and produced by licensed cultivators and producers. It was found that products were being sold containing other cannabinoids, like delta-8, and other additives.

The states that have moved to illegalize delta-8, like Colorado and Vermont, did so under the guise of safety, rather than closing a tax loophole. With statements about the possibility of dangerous processing (which, is actually a worthwhile fear, just not one being handled properly). The first concern of the WSCLB is that CBD is being altered to make synthetic equivalents of compounds found in the cannabis plant. Once again, remember synthetics are always illegal. The second issue is that these compounds have then turned up in regulated markets, though they are unregulated. These products are not allowed for sale under i-502, which governs marijuana products for sale, and makes sure all relevant parties are in concert with the RCW (Revised Code of Washington).

The RWC – which regulates controlled substances, makes clear that both synthetic and non-synthetic cannabinoids are covered under the term ‘tetrahydrocannabinols’, making both kinds Schedule I compounds. Under ‘unfair and deceptive practices’, the RWC states that it’s a deceptive practice to sell or manufacture “any product that contains any amount of synthetic cannabinoid.”

However, the illegality is not clear-cut, because the RWC allows for exemptions, mainly in the form of a legal recreational cannabis market. Whether this exemption of a controlled substance therefore counts for both delta-9 and delta-8 is debatable, and many see the overall statement as not clarifying delta-8 illegality. Regardless of possible future court debates, the current standing is that Washington’s LCB disallows synthetic cannabinoids from entering the legal market.

Delta-8 legal industry

Does it matter if delta-8 threatens the legal cannabis industry?

It depends how you look at it. It might not help marijuana farmers, but competition exists everywhere in life, and that’s just a reality. The only front that this matters on, is lost tax revenue. The government doesn’t care if a producer thinks they’re not making enough money, they sure don’t care in any other industry. The government cares about the rise of products being sold that it can’t make money off of, and these illegalizations function to attempt to rid these legal markets of illegal products.

In terms of the safety issues associated with synthetics, there really aren’t any thus far, yet it keeps being the line spoken by government officials. Take a look at this study from 2014 which notes that 1/2 of all respondents currently used, or had used synthetics, and yet no truly negative issues were mentioned. Whereas a study like this indicates that synthetics are used by a large percentage of cannabis users, government sites rarely make mention of total usage, instead focusing on negative cases without giving a frame of reference in terms of whether the numbers given represent a large or small percentage of the total.

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It does the same thing with vapes, talking up 68 deaths over more than a decade of time, while failing to make the immediate comparison to the 480,000 that die every year from smoking. It’s some of the worst fear marketing out there. The government has spread intense fear over compounds like K2 and Spice, yet people aren’t falling down dead, or having issues en masse, which creates a logical quandary. If they are so bad, how are so many people using them without a problem? This subject presents a massive contradiction between what the government is warning, to what’s actually going on. In fact, the government has no issue with pushing synthetics like Dronabinol, the only difference being that this is an approved pharmaceutical product that puts money in the government’s pocket.

Yes, safety issues do exist, which is why the industry should be regulated. This is exemplified by the vitamin e-acetate issue in vape cartridges, and other additives that have caused problems. We don’t want harsh chemicals in our products. But, way more importantly, we also don’t need opiates all over the place. Yet these drugs, which accounted for approximately 75,500 deaths between March 2019 and March 2020 in the US, are still given out in huge amounts, and in every state that has banned delta-8 because of safety concerns. It makes considerably more sense that governments are concerned with losing money, more than being worried about our collective heath. Or for that matter, the loss of profit to some producers in a competitive market.

Yeah, delta-8 will cut into other cannabis product revenues, because that’s how life works. Just like Walmart takes money away from higher end stores. Markets work off competition, and if marijuana growers are unhappy with another relevant product cannibalizing their sales, they should rethink their own strategies. But one thing for sure is, the government will never care about this. Not federally, and not on any state level.

Conclusion

This particular news story is no different than those of other states that have outlawed delta-8, or even the federal government. No government wants to lose tax revenue because of unlicensed products. The better question now is, why isn’t delta-8 being regulated to end this problem? My guess? The government already knows it can’t get it under control, or is waiting for a pharmaceutical version that its willing to push for its own cut. As far as the idea that delta-8 threatens the legal industry, sure, but that’s mainly related to tax collection. As far as marijuana growers losing out, they might, but that’s life in competitive markets, and they should really stop complaining.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Science Behind Cannabinoids

The cannabis plant produces literally hundreds of specialized molecules — cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids — that have been shown to deliver medicinal efficacy, lifestyle enhancement and even performance enhancement to human beings. For those afflicted with disease, medical cannabis has been found to offer a wide range of health benefits, from killing cancerous tumors to alleviating the pain of arthritis to reducing the number of seizures experienced by epileptic children.

Of these molecules, cannabinoids are the most cited and understood. The most infamous cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the molecule responsible for most of the psychoactive (psychotropic) and euphoric effects of cannabis, but that also has been found to successfully treat serious conditions, such as PTSD and cancer. Another notable cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), a mostly non-psychoactive chemical that has been found to provide a wide range of medicinal benefits, including reductions in pain, anxiety and depression.

Endocannabinoids vs. Phytocannabinoids

First discovered in 1964 by Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam, phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant interact with the human body by mimicking the molecular characteristics of chemicals produced internally. Called endocannabinoids, these internally manufactured molecules include anandamide and 2-AG.

Anandamide has been dubbed the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to decrease depression in humans. It plays a central role in the regulation and modulation of critical bodily functions such as mood, appetite, sleep, immune system efficiency and one’s ability to deal with stress and anxiety.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids emerged in the 1970s and are created in a laboratory. An example of it would be dronabinol (Δ9-THC synthetic), which is the active compound of Marinol, a medicine that comes in capsules and has been consumed in the US since 1985 to prevent nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and loss of weight.

The Endocannabinoid System

All mammals, not merely humans, have evolved with a network of specialized cellular receptors throughout their bodies that are designed to bind with cannabinoids — both endocannabinoids such as anandamide and phytocannabinoids from cannabis — that is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The fact that the ECS is present in all mammals is why companies and product lines dedicated to the health and wellness of household pets are beginning to emerge in legal cannabis markets. Dogs and cats suffering conditions such as arthritis, digestive issues, anxiety and pain can gain significant benefit from the cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp.

Anandamide production has been found to increase and temporarily spike in those who engage in endurance exercise on a regular basis. However, it metabolizes quickly, exhibiting a relatively short duration of effect. Anandamide hints at the chemical underpinnings of the significant health benefits of frequent and intense exercise—and the fact that the mere consumption of cannabinoids is not enough to establish and sustain optimal health of the ECS (a condition called homeostasis that means “balance”).

Both internally produced endocannabinoids and plant-based phytocannabinoids interface with the ECS via specialized cellular receptors that were discovered in the 1990s and called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain and central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are located primarily in the organs and tissues of the immune system—including the thymus, skin, bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, bowel and the mucous membranes of the bladder, genitals, nose and throat.

Major Cannabinoids + Acidic Precursors

More than 113 cannabinoids have been isolated and identified within the cannabis plant — which is, technically, also a vegetable. Beyond the two major cannabis-derived molecules, THC and CBD, are a plethora of healthful cannabinoids that deliver a slew of desirable and beneficial efficacies for lifestyle consumers and patients alike. Among these are cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).

Additional healthful cannabinoids include tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). These chemicals represent a class of cannabinoids dubbed acidic precursors. Think of acidic precursors as the larval caterpillar stage of what becomes the butterflies of THC and CBD.

While they provide significant benefits in terms of health and wellness, the exact effects of these molecules differ from their non-acidic versions. For example, while strains of cannabis that are potent in THC can exact a significant toll in terms of psychoactivity and euphoria, THCA delivers no such psychotropic effect. THCA does, however, offer anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, making it helpful for conditions as wide-ranging as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

Understanding Decarboxylation

The process by which the transmogrification from the chemical state of acidic precursor (THCA) to its child molecule (THC) occurs is significant (and can be accurately controlled by anyone). A process called decarboxylation, this conversion involves the application of heat (via flame, as in combustion, or from a hot surface or airstream, as in vaporization) to catalyze a chemical reaction in which the THCA molecule drops a carbon and two oxygen atoms (called a carboxyl ring, or COOH) to become THC — and gain its euphoric effects based on its newfound binding affinity with the CB1 receptors of the ECS.

Technically, maximum decarboxylation for a sample of cannabis flowers occurs most effectively when exposed to 220 degrees F (104 degrees C) for a period of 30 to 45 minutes. Decarboxylation is easy and convenient because it can be accomplished using a standard consumer oven.

Thus, one who eats the raw flowers of cannabis will gain significant medicinal benefits, but no euphoria. The simple application of a flame or hot air, however, leads to the nearly instantaneous transformation of these molecules into their chemical cousins, delivering beneficial — but sometimes very different — effects.

The Research

2017 research study entitled “Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology and Implications for the Acute Care Setting” that was published in the journal Pharmacy & Therapeutics found the cannabinoids of cannabis, such as THC and CBD, to be effective in the treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions.

The study’s researchers stated, the “Beneficial cannabinoids exist, as evidenced by single-entity agents derived from cannabis containing the compounds THC and CBD.” The study concluded that “cannabis is relatively safe; therapy is self-titratable by the patient; and…therapy is relatively inexpensive compared with pharmaceutical agents.”

CBC is a powerful cannabinoid first isolated in 1964 by Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam. It is considered one of the “big six” cannabinoids that, according to Steep Hill Labs in Berkeley, California, is ten times more effective than CBD in treating anxiety and stress.

In a 2011 study conducted by cannabis research pioneer Ethan Russo entitled “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects” and published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, Russo found that a CBC-extract displayed “pronounced antidepressant effect,” meaning it may be helpful for humans suffering from anxiety and depression.

Additional evidence of the medical benefits of cannabinoids derived from cannabis — this time for an ocular disease — was revealed in a 2008 study entitled “Possibilities of Applying Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Glaucoma” that was published in the journal Klinika Oczna. The study concluded that cannabinoids like CBG are “able to decrease intraocular pressure. These compounds are characterized by neuroprotection and vasodilatation properties that additionally substantiate their therapeutic utility in conservative treatment of glaucoma.”

Originally published on cannabisaficionado.com.

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