Can terpenes, alcohols, and THC acid turn into cannabinoid esters?

THC-O-acetate is a form (ester) of THC that is 300 percent stronger than regular THC. (1) Acetic acid – the compound in tabletop vinegar – can combine with THC to form this acetate ester. Does a similar chemical reaction occur if we used a cannabinoid acid and terpene alcohol, instead of acetic acid and active […]

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

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

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Smarter Delivery with Zolt’s Plant-Powered CBD Drink Mixes

How can we feel more balanced and grounded? How can we be our best selves more of the time?

These are the questions CEO Doug Siegel wanted to answer when he founded Zolt, a CBD wellness company bringing harmony to consumers through “plant-powered super drinks.”  

Having worked in the beverage industry for 17 years, Siegel understood the importance of flavor and aroma. He wanted to combine this knowledge with emerging food technologies to give people a product that was properly dosed, tasted good, and actually worked. 

So, he teamed up with experts in emulsification, atomization, agglomeration, and other fields relating to hemp’s bioavailability. And after an immense amount of research and development, they arrived at a solution for a tasty, convenient and effective ingestible hemp format: Zolt

“Zolt is designed to help people stay calm, focused, engaged, and positive,” Siegel told Cannabis Now. “With all that is going on in today’s world, a little goodness and help for our body is important.”

Zolt’s hemp drink mixes are commonly referred to as “mixie sticks.” Simply mix the packet’s contents with water, or your favorite tea or smoothie (each blend includes suggestions for the best combo!) The mixie sticks are formulated with organic adaptogens and antioxidants for use throughout the day, and a blend of 20mg of water-soluble CBD isolate or full-spectrum hemp is combined with different flavors to either invigorate, energize, or relax you. 

The Zolt product line has something for every moment – there’s Rise and Rise+, designed to prepare you for your day,  Dial-Up+ for an afternoon boost, and the Dreamy Honey Citrus Tea bedtime formulation, designed to soothe your mind and repair your body as you sink into sleep. Zolt’s caffeinated Boost+ mix helps promote immunity, while Balance is perfect for maintaining harmony every day. 

Each mixie stick is packed with delicious flavor and contains adaptogens and antioxidants sourced from premium ingredients to supercharge each beverage’s wellness potential.

Quest for Convenience and Accessibility Leads to ‘A-ha’ Moment

Siegel’s motivation to create Zolt stemmed from his own personal wellness journey. After trying a variety of CBD edibles and tinctures, he realized he was more relaxed, focused and capable of doing so much more. The small stuff didn’t interfere with his every day anymore. 

“It was amazing to realize the effects of CBD and be more balanced throughout the day,” he said. 

Siegel began immersing himself in the world of hemp. He researched and evaluated the effectiveness of different hemp formats, and how combining hemp with other super-plants can be monumental in helping people bring balance and wellness into their lives. 

He knew the demand to integrate CBD into wellness regimens was growing but acknowledged that its most common formats were full of friction, whether smoking, vaping or using a tincture. 

There simply had to be a better way.

“We realized that we needed to design a systematized approach to building plant-powered performance products that people can easily incorporate hemp into their daily routine,” Siegel explained. 

Previous experience in the beverages space inspired Siegel to develop a line of high-quality and delicious ready-to-mix concoctions that were simple to use but incredibly beneficial. Intensive research and development led him and his team to water-soluble CBD, opting for both full-spectrum and isolate depending on the mixie blend.

Add Water To Zolt Hemp Mixie Sticks

“Ultimately, we created a totally new, far smarter, wildly effective portfolio of plant-powered super-drinks derived from and inspired by hemp.”

Sustainability: Another Important Focus for Zolt 

For Siegel and the rest of the team, helping people live healthier lives isn’t the only goal. Our planet’s well-being is also at the forefront.

This is evident in the company’s decision to use a water-soluble powder in their products. Removing water weight cuts down on the need for plastic containers and reduces freight, lowering the company’s carbon footprint. Consumers are encouraged to pour their Zolt mixes into reusable water bottles to curb further waste. According to Siegel, the company is also exploring more environmentally friendly and recyclable packaging options for the future. 

In addition, Zolt donates one percent of proceeds annually to the National Young Farmers Coalition. This nonprofit and advocacy group is focused on helping the next generation of agriculture professionals adopt sustainable and equitable practices that will ensure their own success, as well as the environment as a whole.

“It’s everyone’s job to participate in social responsibility,” said an impassioned Siegel. “Businesses who recognize this can transcend these messages to their employees and customers, who themselves are consumers, neighbors, and friends – it starts the conversation and betters our communities.”

Innovation and Compassion Are the Future 

Despite its already robust catalog, Zolt is adding even more options to their product line, in an effort to benefit as many lives as possible. 

A terpene-derived mix that’s hemp-free is on deck. This line will focus on the potential powers of the molecules responsible for hemp’s unique aroma, flavor and entourage effects. 

One of these terpene-derived products is Peak, in Clementine flavor, which features sativa-dominant terps meant to invigorate and encourage focus. Zolt’s hybrid terpene blend, called “Even,” features vegan collagen, which is a lime mint flavor, and is designed to promote balance and hydration. Last but not least in this line, is the indica-inspired Dreamy Ginger Honey Tea (also containing vegan collagen and melatonin), which will help send consumers into a peaceful slumber. All three varieties also include prebiotics to support gut health for a holistic wellness approach.

While new product innovations are exciting for the folks at Zolt, it all goes back to their passion in making the world a better place — one mixie stick at a time.

“We strive to do what’s right, no matter what. We live up to a standard, always.” Siegel said. “Our goal is to help people understand the benefits of hemp and other plants so they can live their day to the fullest, every single day.”  

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Understanding Terpenes: Geraniol

Diehard fans of fruity or sweetly floral scents like berries or roses may not be aware that they have an affinity for a terpene called geraniol that is also found in cannabis and a variety of other plants, herbs and fruits. As the name suggests, it occurs naturally in geraniums as well as in roses, lemongrass, peaches, passion fruit, blackberries, blueberries, coriander, nutmeg, bergamot, lemon peels and even carrots. Bees also naturally produce geraniol in their scent-producing glands and use the aroma of it to mark their territories against other colonies.

Geraniol is a primary part of rose oil, palmarosa oil and citronella oil. The aroma and flavor has a range of sweet notes from sugary and rosy to citrus. Its taste is often used in different foods as an enhancer and flavoring agent to reproduce the flavor of several fruits in desserts like candies and ice cream and the smell can commonly be found in all types of bath, body and beauty products from lotions, creams and perfumes to soap and detergent.

The terpene has a variety of medicinal and therapeutic uses as well. It’s a natural antioxidant that has anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties that can be useful in treating many different types of cancer. The International Journal of Oncology published a study that provides evidence that geraniol could discourage tumorous cell growth in oral, colon, lung, prostate, breast, pancreatic and liver cancer. Plus, it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that can help reduce infections. In a study published by a medical journey called Lipids, geraniol is shown to be effective at inhibiting the growth of certain types of fungus.

Geraniol has also been shown to be anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and have a lot of potential as a neuroprotectant. A study published by the Journal of Neuroscience research showed that the terpene can be useful in treating neuropathy which is common among people who have diabetes or are pre-diabetic. The condition damages the peripheral nerves and causes numbness, weakness, pain or loss of sensitivity in the hands and feet. In the experiment, geraniol was able to lower enhanced cytosolic calcium levels and acetylcholinesterase activity, reduce levels of protein carbonyls and nitrates and restore the activities of enzymes.

It’s common for strains with high linalool profiles to be rich in geraniol as well. A few strains that have geraniol in them include Afghan (a calming hybrid that’s good for an euphoric, balanced buzz), Headband (a pain-relieving hybrid that helps with depression, anxiety and headaches), Amnesia Haze (a citrusy sativa strain that’s uplifting and energizing), Great White Shark (a heavy-hitting sativa that will reduce stress and improve bad moods) and Sweet Skunk (a potent hybrid that leans more towards a cerebral high).

According to Steep Hill Labs, geraniol is also closely related to another terpene called citronellol which has “used as a natural mosquito repellent for over 2,000 years.” Because it’s used by honey bees to mark nectar-bearing flowers and help find their way back to their hives, geraniol is known to attract them, but it also be used as an effective insect repellent for things other than mosquitoes as well including flies, roaches, fire ants and ticks. So, if you’re ever smoking outside during the summer and wonder why bees are buzzing around you, it may be because they’re getting a whiff of the geraniol in the strain you’re enjoying. But, at least it might keep the mosquitoes and flies away for a little bit.

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How to Taste & Pair Food with Cannabis

One
of the most exciting elements of cannabis, in a culinary sense, is its ability
to interface with food and drink in very interesting and powerful ways. Much
like a dry, acidic, citrus-forward rosé is the perfect partner to a piece of
seared fish, the uncanny citrus qualities of Tangie, for example, complement a
ponzu-soaked piece of sashimi.

Today’s modern cannabis products, such as separated terpenes, can give you incredible versatility, creating a rich dining experience as aroma and flavor notes bounce back and forth.

While you are able to impart some complementary or contrasting flavors with infusion methods that use lower heat, or by adding terpenes directly to food, you can also have great success pairing cannabis flavors with food via smoked or vaporized cannabis, specifically high-terpene concentrates. And, unlike alcohol, cannabis’s ability to bring the user up or down with its different effects gives it an additional layer of experience, so a cannabis sommelier can start a meal with an uplifting, bright variety and end it with a rich, relaxing one.

When planning a cannabis-pairing dinner, think about the strongest flavor elements in the food and try to play off of those. Often, the most intense element is not the main protein or starch but rather a sauce or herbal component of a dish that makes it unique.

Try to think about contrasting flavors as much as complementary ones; it’s not always about picking something that tastes similar or goes with the dish in a conventional sense. An intriguing pairing can surprise guests and make them appreciate both the food and the cannabis more than they would have either on its own.

To help you get started with understanding the ways to pair and contrast with cannabis, the following are some of the most common scent and flavor categories that you’ll come across.

Acrid

One
function of terpenes is to deter predators from eating or otherwise damaging
the plants. To do this, sometimes certain varieties will emit a smell that can
be described as foul or overwhelming. Over the last decade, connoisseurs have
tended to seek out these varieties, with the incredibly pungent, sharp scents
cutting right through the overmatched plastic bag or jar attempting to keep
them at bay. Known as “gassy” or “sour,” these flavors can include elements of
kerosene, glue, skunk, tires, rubber and bad breath.

While smoking something that smells like the old tennis balls in your grandpa’s attic may not seem like an activity you want to do, these varieties also tend to be some of the most potent and unique, often with hordes of fans obsessing over their subtle differences. Pairing a gassy strain can be difficult, but these tend to do best with dishes that will stand up to them, such as smoked meats and herb-forward sauces (think chimichurri), but they also go suspiciously well with coffee.

Some
of the most notorious gassy, acrid varieties are Chemdog, Gorilla Glue,
Headband, any OG Kush variety, Sour Diesel and Triangle Kush.

Citrusy

While other flavor categories often have hints of citrus in the mix, there are some strains that have such a strong and uncanny citrus aroma that it’s at times hard to distinguish them from the real thing. The presence of limonene (which is found in grapefruit, lime and lemon oils) is generally the reason a strain smells citrusy, but whether they smell like sweet lemon candy or garlic and lemon depends on the specific ratio and combination of other terpenes present.

Citrusy varieties tend to be mentally uplifting and
physically invigorating just like limonene itself, which makes sense because
you more commonly find citrus-heavy flavors in strains that have traditionally
been described as sativa. To pair most effectively with citrus varieties, think
about how you’d use citrus in cooking; it’s usually best to help brighten up a
dish or add a lasting aftertaste that lingers on the palate.

Some varietals that exhibit a citrus-dominant aroma and
flavor are Grapefruit, Jack’s Cleaner, Jilly Bean, Lemon Diesel, Lemon G-13,
Lemon Tree, Orange Cookies, Papaya, Soma’s New York City Diesel (NYCD) and
Tangie.

Earthy

Like some of the more complex and challenging wines of the world, cannabis has a whole host of rich, dank, earthy flavors present at times. Leather, smoke, coffee, soil, peat and vegetation are some of the terms used to describe such strains, which tend to have been categorized as indicas over time. These varieties are often relaxing or sleep-inducing, perhaps due in part to the presence of terpenes such as myrcene and beta-caryophyllene, both of which are thought to have anti-anxiety properties.

Some rich and earthy varieties include Bruce Banner, Bubba
Kush, Deadhead OG, Deep Chunk, Girl Scout Cookies, Hindu Kush, LA Confidential,
Master Kush, Sour Bubble and Sunset Sherbert.

Floral

Cannabis is a flower after all, so it’s expected that some varieties simply smell light and fragrant like other flowers. While certain strains kick down the door to your brain like a sensory SWAT team, others lightly dance in — calming and tranquil, blending in rather than taking over. One terpene that is very common in floral varieties is linalool, which is also the most common terpene, found in lavender and many other botanicals such as bay laurel, coriander and sweet basil. These strains can range from very soft, pleasing scents to slightly more complex, grassy ones. Floral aromas are great to use in dishes such as subtly flavored baked goods and to scent sauces and drizzles in unobtrusive ways.

Floral varieties of cannabis include Blackberry Kush, DJ
Short’s Flo, Grape Ape, Grape Stomper, Lavender, Purple Urkle, Strawberry Cough
and UK Cheese.

Herbal

The general flavor present in cannabis can be described as
“herbal.” Though this admittedly covers a huge variety of scents, they are
similar in that they can be found in other herbs such as rosemary, sage and
eucalyptus, and also in things like pine trees. The most common terpenes in
herbal varieties tend to be alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, beta-caryophyllene,
humulene and terpinolene, the combination of which can cover the spectrum from
the tangy citrus spice of a Jack Herer to the pine-forward floral sweetness of
a Maui.

Common herbal varieties include Blue Dream, Jack Herer,
Malawi, Mango Haze, Maui, S.A.G.E., Super Silver Haze and Trainwreck.

Sweet and/or Fruity

The first time you smell weed that is truly sweet, it’s a
life-changer. Since the odor that most casual users associate with cannabis is
along the acrid, skunky side of things (because that’s the way smoke usually
smells), they’re often totally surprised to find aromas ranging from lemon
drops to cotton candy to green papaya, or a combination of ten sweet things all
rolled into one.

Sweet varieties usually run a spectrum from the almost
creamy, neutral sugary side to the tangy, tropical fruit side, all of which
offer a lot of options when it comes to pairing. Though it’s tempting to pair
sweet with sweet, it is often more interesting to use the sweet strains as a
way to cut through something acidic or to enhance something herbal. If a strain
has the distinct qualities of a specific fruit, sometimes the flavor will come
through clearly enough to replace the actual fruit in a recipe, similarly to
the way you can use a fruit extract.

Common
strains that fit into this category include Banana Kush, Blueberry, Bubblegum,
Cinderella 99, Island Sweet Skunk, Lemon Skunk, Purple Urkle, Super Lemon Haze,
Vanilla Kush and Zkittlez.

Originally excerpted in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

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Attention all dabbers: This is how to avoid getting a ‘chazzy banger’

It’s quite appropriate that I am writing this article, in fact, it’s sort of ironic and funny. In the past, I’ve had friends designate a ‘Julia’ rig and keep it aside for when I come to visit. Up until a year or two ago, I had a bit of a reputation for chazzing bangers. But, […]

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

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

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The Benefits of Treating Arthritis With Cannabis Topicals

Arthritis is a painful and sometimes debilitating condition characterized by joint swelling, pain, and stiffness, along with a decreased range of motion.

As a consultant for cannabis patients, I often work with those who are suffering from arthritis and looking for alternative ways to manage the painful condition. Often these patients come to me when they have exhausted the conventional options.

When arthritis gets severe, painkillers (such as opiates) are usually the primary treatment that these patients are receiving. But opiates have their limits. Patients adjust to their dose and it has to be continually increased. In some cases, opiates can actually increase sensitivity to pain. Many have already reached the highest allowable dose and will receive less and less relief from the drug as time goes on. Patients who have been relying on that pain relief are suddenly left without any recourse.

Thankfully, cannabis offers new hope for safely and effectively managing arthritis. As a potent painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent, cannabis has helped many with their arthritic symptoms. It can also be used safely in conjunction with opiates, so patients who are still using opiates, or tapering off of them, don’t have to worry about dangerous interactions. Research shows that cannabis use actually allows patients to decrease their opiate use, and in states where cannabis is legally accessible, opiate-related deaths have gone down by 25 percent.

In addition, research suggests that cannabis can do more than just ameliorate the symptoms of the condition, it may also be able to reverse it, leading to increasing improvements in mobility, inflammation and pain. Research shows that arthritis patients actually have a higher level of CB2 receptors in their damaged joints, than most.

One study, conducted in Canada, researched the effects of topical applications of cannabis on rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers behind it believed that saturating the patients CB2 receptors with cannabinoids will not only aid with pain relief but may actually repair the joint damage that has already been done.

Treating Arthritis with cannabis topicals

In my own experience with arthritis patients, topical applications of cannabis have been extremely helpful. Patients often complain that the topical isn’t doing much at first, but with regular saturation, they experience a gradual but significant change in their pain and mobility.

Those looking to try treating arthritis with cannabis topicals should start by finding a topical cannabis product that they can regularly apply. For patients with mild arthritis, you might start with a regular strength topical. I am a big fan of Leafy Botanicals’ hard lotion balm, as well as their massage oil. These topicals not only work well, but they smell delicious, with hints of lavender and rosemary.

For those with more severe arthritis, I recommend Fleurish Farm’s extra strength balm. This incredibly potent product was designed specifically with arthritis sufferers in mind, and I have seen it deliver immediate pain relief to some of the most severe arthritis patients I have worked with. This whipped balm is unscented and made entirely of oils that score a zero on the pore clogging scale, so it is light and hypo-allergenic enough for even the most sensitive skin. It’s also infused with high-quality rosin, a solventless cannabis concentrate, which contains powerful terpenes in addition to the cannabinoids found in most topicals.

Whether you are using topicals, edibles or inhaling it, cannabis can help ease the pain of arthritis and may even lead to long lasting improvements in joint health. If you are one of the 50 million people struggling with daily arthritis pain, cannabis just might be the perfect solution. Talk to an MD who specializes in cannabis to find out if it is right for you.

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What You Should Know Acquiring Marijuana Seeds

Planting and harvesting are difficult, even leisure gardening can be confusing for first-timers. So it is not surprising if you are having a hard time growing marijuana. Growing marijuana is difficult because the first step, getting the seeds, is already daunting.  Marijuana is already a tough topic all over the world so it is not […]

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The Art of Terpene Recreation: Replicating Cannabis Strain Profiles

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

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

(Re)making the Magic Happen

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

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

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

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

Twisting Terps Into Innovation

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

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

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

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

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