What’s The Deal with Sungrown Cannabis?

Leading stoner comedian Ngaio Bealum is the creator of the album “Weed & Sex,” a frequent guest on “Getting Doug with High” starring Doug Benson, and a regular cannabis festival MC. He’s also our very own Dear Dabby, here to answer your most pertinent questions about the plant we all love.

Why do people prefer sungrown cannabis? — Al Natural

That’s a good question. I wouldn’t say that everyone prefers outdoor, er, sungrown cannabis. I remember 10 years ago, when indoor weed was all the rage and no one wanted outdoor weed, especially during harvest season. We used to have gigantic debates about which weed was better. I personally prefer outdoor to indoor and let me tell you why: OUTDOOR WEED TASTES BETTER! That’s it. Something about sun and dirt make for great cannabis. I think the French winemakers call it “terroir,” meaning like “earth” or something. Don’t take my word for it: a lab in Washington state has reported that outdoor cannabis had slightly more THC and a higher terpene count than cannabis grown indoors.

I’m not saying that indoor weed can’t be fantastic. I just smoked a Strawberry Banana grown indoors with dirt, using a “no-till” method, and it was flavorful and amazing. However, quality indoor is becoming harder to find, mostly because factory farming and commercial pressures have created a lot of mediocre cannabis brands. That Strawberry Banana I smoked and loved was grown in a small garden by a master grower. One would hope that the future of cannabis should be small batch, organic cannabis farms, but we will see if capitalism will allow these sorts of businesses to exist.

Oh, and outdoor cannabis is better for the environment. Sunlight is free, so you don’t need to use nearly as much electricity, nor do you need as many chemicals. And yields are bigger because you can let the plant grow and grow. The sky is the literal limit. Plus, with the new light deprivation technology, a good farmer can harvest outdoor weed 2-4 times a year. I feel like greenhouse and light-dep cannabis will be the wave that strikes a happy medium, and we can find other things to argue about, like cold water hash versus butane extractions.

I hate to throw away all the plastic waste from vape pens. Can you recommend any refillable options? — Petra “Kim” Ikal

I think I can. It’s kinda funny how the cannabis industry, which used to be filled with hippies and environmentalists, has embraced plastic disposable pens and cartridges with a quickness. I get that pens are convenient and very discreet, but does anyone care about leaving a small environmental footprint anymore? We shall see. End rant.

As to your question: PAX, Prohibited and a few other companies sell vaporizers that can be used for waxes and oils. They are fairly easy to use, and once you get the hang of it, you can load up a fat dab hit with minimal muss and fuss. Also, if you need to get rid of your empty cartridges and you don’t just want to throw them into the garbage, many dispensaries have cartridge recycling programs, so you can drop your empties in the box and feel better about yourself.

Can I do anything with the cannabis that I’ve already vaped? — Al Offit

Yes. Yes, you can. Use it to make a cannabis-infused oil or butter. Vaped weed still has a usable amount of THC and making a butter (or a tincture if you are fancy and have the time) is the easiest way to get that THC out of the plant and into your bloodstream.

What’s the best way to figure out how my cannabis was grown? — Praven Nonce

Um, ask the grower? Find the brand on Instagram? As cannabis becomes more and more like the fancy booze industry, it should become easier to find out where and when and how your weed was grown.

I live in California, so it is easy for me to find out the provenance of my pot. Hell, the fancier companies love to tell you that their bud was grown deep in the heart of Mendocino County, under the watchful eye of an ancient and venerable hippie farmer who only visits the big city when it’s time to buy new shoes. But I was just in Nashville, and while they had some good weed out there, no one could tell me where it was from or even what it was. Just a few years ago out on the West Coast, there were a bunch of “farmers’ market” style cannabis events where cannabis users could visit different booths and get a chance to talk to the growers to learn about their techniques and ingredients.

Sadly, farmers’ markets are no longer allowed in the new “legalization” era, although there are definitely a few underground farmers’ markets, especially in Sacramento — where luckily, I reside. However, I feel like in a few more years, legal states will once again be able to have legal farmers’ markets and cannabis users will find it easier to learn about the cannabis they consume. 

TELL US, how do you chase down the tastiest sungrown cannabis?

Originally published in print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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10 Things to Know About Terpenes

The cannabis industry is abuzz over terpenes. Everyone in the know is claiming it’s “all about them terps brah,” but do you truly understand these magnificent compounds? Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the intoxicating aromas of cannabis.

1. Terpenes are everywhere. These wildly diverse organic compounds are produced by an array of plants and insects, and exist abundantly in nature. From orange peels to pine resin their powerful scents play a major role in our lives that we hardly ever consider. Their distinctive scents shine brightly in cannabis, from fruitiness to skunky, it’s all in the terpenes.

2. Terpenes interact with cannabinoids and are understood to have vital roll in the effects of the plant on the brain. They can increase and decrease dopamine and serotonin production, speed up THC absorption, and alter our moods. Whichever dominant terpenes are produced in a particular plant make a huge difference in the resulting “high” when consumed. The differences between myrcene and limonene are not only the scent, but also in the psychological and physical effects of the plant and the human body.

3. There is in fact a ‘terp wheel.’  Similar to the color wheel, which at its core is composed of sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. Many cannabis strains will exhibit a multitude of these flavors, before and after smoked, or ingested.  As you move farther out the wheel flavors get more specific.

4. Terpenes are volatile organic compounds that alter after a plant is harvested. Once the flower is dried and cured they are technically considered terpenoids. Proper curing procedures will keep these compounds intact, but excessive heat while drying can ‘cook’ them off. Hence the importance of proper dry room conditions.

5. The therapeutic values of the terpenes found in cannabis have been greatly understated until now. From anti-carcinogenic to anti-inflammatory, the ‘terps’ offer amazing benefits. It is commonplace for laboratories to offer terpene testing, and as greater understanding of these compounds arise, choosing the terpenes that suit your particular taste, or health conditions, will become the norm.

6. You can buy terpenes in a bottle. In fact, some producers have even mimicked the aromas produced by certain strains. While these essential oils may offer you the scent of Gorilla Glue #4, remember it is the cocktail of thousands of chemical compounds that create the wondrous effects of this magical cannabis strain. Some concentrate producers have even begun spiking their products with aftermarket terps. While there is technically nothing wrong with this, stick to the trusted goodness of full flower or a producer that you trust isn’t trying to dress up a mediocre product.

7. Don’t just look to THC percentages when choosing a strain.  At the 2016 Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa, California, the vast majority of top 20 finishers didn’t even break 20 percent THC. This is obviously due to the multitude of other beyond the plants most famous intoxicant. It is becoming more and more obvious that terpenes play a magnificent role in the overall effects of cannabis.

8. Feed your terps. When cultivating cannabis the food you feed it will help or hinder its terpene production. Organic feeds are widely considered the premier way to produce the most flavorful of flowers.

9. Flush. Dosing your plants with plenty of fresh water before your harvest is a basic know how, but it also plays an integral role in allowing your terp profiles to shine brightly. Chemical or salt build-ups in your soil can block your plants expression of one its most crucial goodies. Give your plants at least a week of pure fresh water before you hack them down and taste the difference.

10. Savor the flavor. Proper storage of your cannabis flower and concentrates not only maintain the THC content, but also the terpenoids. Overheating, overdrying and overcooling can turn your terp rich Black Lime Reserve into flavorless brick weed. Treat your nugget with respect and it will return the favor and flavor.

TELL US, are you curious to learn more about terpenes?

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5 Herbal Blends to Pair with Your Cannabis

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

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

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

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

Lavender & Chamomile

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

Peppermint & White Sage

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

Rose & Jasmine Blossom

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

Blue Lotus & Damiana

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

Eucalyptus & Mullein

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

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

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How Mitzva Wellness Became the First Kosher-Certified CBD Brand

For many, the journey to cannabis medicine comes after several painful years of trying seemingly ineffective pharmaceuticals. Shifra and Alex Klein know this all too well. After years of exhausting pharmaceutical treatments and therapies to treat their son’s severe autism, the Los Angeles-based Orthodox Jewish couple made the decision to switch to a more holistic approach – CBD. Unfortunately, what they found on the current CBD market was less than desirable.

DIY CBD

The Kleins are both children of the 80s, where rampant anti-drug propaganda had them “just saying no” to cannabis for most of their lives. But they easily moved past that mindset when they learned of cannabis’s potential to treat their child. They decided to bring up cannabis as an alternate treatment to the doctors they were seeing at UCLA, but they were quickly shut down. Unwilling to take no for an answer, the Kleins ventured off on their own and started exploring cannabis treatment options.

Shifra and Alex Klein

Having never tried cannabis, they were looking for transparency. They wanted to know exactly what the oil they would be giving their son was comprised of. They wanted to know where it came from, how it was extracted and if it was properly lab-tested. They finally came to the conclusion the only way to get safe, kosher oil for their son was to start from scratch and make it themselves. It took months of research and networking before they were ready to give it a real try. They started by making edibles at home with flower from local dispensaries.

At first it was a little awkward. “I am a religious looking guy,” says Alex, describing one of the first times he went to a Los Angeles dispensary. “The security guard is this big, biker looking dude with tattoos everywhere and a chain hanging out of his jeans and says ‘the temple’s down the street.’” Alex quickly broke through the presumptions about him once he began asking specific questions about the dispensary’s AC/DC and Harlequin strains. 

Once they practiced and refined their home extraction process (made via Crockpot) and went through numerous lab tests, The Kleins finally created a batch of CBD oil worth testing on their son and made cookies with it. The results were immediate. His cognition, attention span and language and motor skills all improved. Friends and acquaintances noticed the incredible positive changes and begged Shifra and Alex to make oil for their families, trusting the Klein’s integrity and kosher kitchen.

The First Kosher-Certified CBD Brand Under the Orthodox Union

Once word got out within their community that quality kosher edibles were being made to treat medical conditions, things began to snowball. 

“I ended up making so much medication for community members that I ended up not being at work at my real job,” said Shifra.

After receiving an overwhelming amount of positive feedback in 2017, Mitzva Wellness entered the market as the very first Kosher Certified CBD brand under the Orthodox Union (OU). Mitzva Wellness products can be purchased online and shipped to all 50 states. They are also available at various doctor’s offices, pharmacies and wellness centers nationwide.

Offerings include CBD tinctures, CBD topicals and terpene tinctures with kosher terpenes.

Mitzva Wellness’s products are effect-based, using specific terpene blends based on scientific research and published studies for maximum efficacy.

A big win for Mitzva was getting their brand certified kosher by the OU. This was a first for a cannabis brand. The Orthodox Union is the largest and most respected certifying agency for kosher products and until Mitzva, they refused certification to cannabis brands. “It took us close to 8 months of education on cannabis, extractions and debunking myths to get them on board,” said Shifra.

Mitzva also hopes to get their products Halal certified before the end of the year.

A Mitzva (Good Deed)

Mitzva Wellness has grown and evolved into a trusted brand in the kosher community, but moreover, the brand has bridged all communities by providing safe and effective CBD options for healing. As a result of their efforts, Alex and Shifra have helped destigmatize cannabis – especially for those in the Orthodox Jewish community.

“So many people that can benefit from cannabis refuse to try it because of the stigma attached,” Shifra said.  “Our family is an example of a typical family that would be put off by those falsehoods, and here we are not only medicating our children but providing it for the world.”

For someone just getting acquainted with cannabis, Mitzva Wellness is a wealth of information.

“Whatever we have learned over the past 6 years on our own journey, only becomes a mitzva when we share it with others,” said Shifra.

‘Mitzva’ means “good deed” in Hebrew and Mitzva Wellness practices the sentiment behind their name by giving back 10% of monthly sales to nonprofits, as well as, offering discount programs to healthcare workers, veterans and first responders.

The time they spend working with researchers on developing natural, terpene-rich formulas that are more effective than a basic CBD oil is just one of the ways the Kleins put their heart into their product. Their Mitzva is providing knowledge and guidance to those who are new to treating themselves or loved ones with cannabis.

Dedicated to community outreach, the Klein family works to break the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding cannabis/hemp use and points families toward trustworthy information in order to make informed decisions regarding their healing. Whether it’s answering dosing questions, finding a qualified physician or pointing them to community resources, Mitzva supports every step of their customer’s journey. The next step for Mitzva is expanding their community outward.

“Being able to reach other places in California is a really huge goal for us,” Shifra said. “I know that when Mitzva Wellness can be in other places and people have access, we can help more.”

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How To Conserve Your Stash: 10 Steps To Save Money

While conserving marijuana is always a high priority for dedicated tokers, now more than ever, cannabis users must find ways to make that expensive eighth stretch as far as it can. 

1. Vape instead of smoking joints or blunts

Vaping will allow you to get just as high as a joint or a blunt with less than half of the weed, as vaporizers deliver your high in a much more efficient manner. A study by California NORML and MAPS found that the Volcano vaporizer converts 46 percent of available THC into vapor, while the average joint only converts less than 25 percent of THC.

With joints and blunts, most of the THC is lost into “sidestream smoke” up in the air, rather than being trapped in a device for your handy consumption. However, if you want to indulge in the act of smoking, you can still save weed by rolling a thinner joint or blunt. Besides, a study found that vaping may be safer for your lungs than smoking.

2. Corner the bowl

Smoking from bongs and bubblers fall second behind vaping in terms of efficiency. Hitting a bong can be even more efficient in conserving your weed if you try and light only a small portion of the bowl at a time, through the technique known as “cornering.” With less of the bowl lit at a given time, less of the weed’s THC will burn up with no one to inhale it.

3. Don’t rush the smoking process

Remember what your mother told you at the dinner table: If you rush through your food, you’ll eat more than you should and you’ll be uncomfortably full! Applying the same logic to smoking will help you save your weed. Take it slow and smoke one small bowl. Enjoy your high for 30 minutes or so before you decide whether or not you want more. You just might find you’re as high as you want to be.

4. Eat foods such as mangoes and dark chocolate to intensify the high

If you follow up your toke with a specific snack or two, the effects of the cannabinoids can be deepened to get you higher without needing to smoke more. Over-ripe mangoes, lemongrass and verbena possess large levels of myrcene, a terpene that is believed to help THC to cross the blood-brain barrier more efficiently. Dark chocolate will also extend your high by causing anandamide, the chemical the brain releases known as the “bliss molecule,” to take longer to break down. Tumeric, specifically its active ingredient curcumin, can also help intensify cannabis highs.

5. Use a grinder, collect your kief

Investing in a quality grinder will allow you to grind your bud into efficient little nugs, and will also help you collect the kief that falls off in the process. You can sprinkle the kief on top of your next bowl, but to be even more efficient, use your kief to make edibles. Try making cookies, spring rolls or candied ginger with the kief you save.

6. Handle your buds as little as possible

The more you touch your weed, either in admiration or during transportation, the more you knock off the trichomes dangling delicately on the outside of your nug. Avoid losing these precious resin morsels by handling the stem of a nug only.

7. Store in an airtight dark glass jar, not a plastic baggy

Heat, light and moisture are the biggest factors in causing your stash to deteriorate, and plastic bags do little to help. In fact, the plastic can stick to the trichomes and pull them off your stash. Instead, try to keep your buds in a dark glass jar in a cool, dry and dark place like a cabinet, basement or refrigerator.

8. Make edibles with your already vaped bud (AVB)

Another way vaporizers help conserve your stash is that they give it a second life. You can use the bud you have already vaped and make edibles with it. Try Cannabis Now’s recipes for AVB chocolate firecrackers or AVB pesto.

9. Save your trim

If you’re a home grower and you’ve harvested, don’t throw away the trimmings. Leaves and unformed nugs hold THC and terpenes that can be extracted. There are a multitude of ways to effectively extract THC from your trim, from butane systems to ice water extraction. Read more here: THC Extraction: How to Turn Trim to Profits.

10. Take a tolerance break

This is probably the hardest step to follow, but might provide you with the largest payoff in the end. First, a tolerance break will allow you to save money for a few weeks while you withhold from smoking. When you are finished with your tolerance break, you will be able to smoke less to achieve the same high — and you won’t need to burn through your stash as fast as you used to.

TELL US, how do you conserve your weed?

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Humulene: The Terpene That Can Kill Cancer Cells

Consumers of craft beer, specifically IPAs, may perceive a similar olfactory sensation between their favorite brand of brew and the cannabis flowers in their joint or vaporizer. Of the 200 aromatic terpenes that may manifest in a single strain of cannabis, humulene is of note due to the other plants in nature that produce it, including strains of hops used in the brewing of beer.

Terpenes are the molecules in cannabis that deliver a sometimes pungent aroma and that have been discovered to provide significant medical efficacy. The three main medical benefits of terpenes are its anti-cancer properties, the reduction of systemic inflammation, and its significant role as an analgesic (pain killer). More than 20,000 terpenes exist throughout nature.

Humulene, also known as alpha-caryophyllene or a-humulene, derives its name from the Latin Humulus Lupulus, which translates to “hops” in English. This terpene, like others, when consumed as a potent isolate carries the risk of irritation if inhaled and when it comes into contact with skin. Strains rich in this terpene include GSC (formerly Girl Scout Cookies), Headband, Skywalker OG, Super Lemon Haze, and White Widow.

The Details of Humulene

Strains of cannabis rich in humulene emit a “hoppy” aroma reminiscent of basil, clove, ginseng, hops, and sage. Like many other terpenes, this molecule is flammable and utilized in industrial applications as an insecticide.

The medical efficacy of this major terpene includes its role as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain killer) and anti-tumor (anti-cancer). It even provides antibacterial properties. It also helps wounds to heal and may play a role in weight management.

Humulene serves as both a powerful anti-inflammatory and also an effective analgesic. Research has shown it to be effective in dealing with systemic inflammation, while also demonstrating its ability to deliver targeted efficacy to specific bodily regions.

The Research

2008 study entitled “Pharmacokinetics and Tissue Distribution of the Sesquiterpene Alpha-humulene in Mice” and published in the journal Planta Medica demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of the terpene when used as a topical. Concluded the researchers, “These findings further contribute to an explanation of the topical and systemic anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties previously reported for the essential oil alpha-humulene.”

2007 study entitled “Anti-inflammatory Effects of Compounds Alpha-humulene and Trans-caryophyllene” and published in the European Journal of Pharmacology found that systemic treatment with alpha-humulene prevented tumor growth in rats. The study’s researchers concluded, “These findings indicate that alpha-humulene and trans-caryophyllene, derived from the essential oil of C. verbenacea, might represent important tools for the management and/or treatment of inflammatory diseases.”

2006 study demonstrated the antibacterial properties of humulene. Entitled “Composition and Antibacterial Activity of Abies Balsamea Essential Oil” and published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, the study’s authors found that some other major terpenes, beta-pinene and delta-3-carene, to be inactive against two bacteria strains. However, alpha-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, and alpha-humulene were found to be effective against the bacteria strains.

2003 study published in the journal Planta Medica entitled “Antitumor Activity of Balsam Fir Oil: Alpha-humulene as Possible Mechanism of Action” found that balsam fir oil containing humulene produces antitumor activity when “evaluated against several solid tumor cell lines.”

TELL US, do you have a favorite terpene?

Originally published on cannabisaficionado.com.

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Delta-3 Carene: The Terpene That Promotes Healthy Bones (& Dry Mouth)

Of the 200 aromatic molecule varieties called terpenes that may manifest in a particular example of the cannabis herb, none is better at repairing bones and promoting their growth than delta-3 carene (also called alpha-carene or simply carene).

Beginning in the 1960s, researchers began to note the medicinal efficacy of phytochemicals from plants such as cannabis. Among these chemicals are cannabinoids (the most famous examples are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), terpenes (such as myrcene and pinene) and flavonoids.

Terpenes were first believed simply to convey a sometimes pungent aroma in plants like cannabis. From an evolutionary perspective, these molecules serve the purpose of protecting the cannabis plant from pests and predators, many of which find these chemicals offensive or toxic.

The Details of Delta-3 Carene

Delta-3 carene conveys a sweet, pungent scent composed of citrus, cypress, pine and wood. It is produced by plants other than cannabis, including rosemary, pine trees and cedar trees. Delta-3 carene is utilized by the cosmetics industry as a fragrance and is employed as an insect repellent at the industrial level (it is a natural constituent of turpentine).

Regarding medicinal efficacy, the terpene provides significant qualities to combat systemic inflammationrepair diseased and damaged bones and is said to promote mental focus and concentration. Strains of cannabis rich in the delta-3 carene have been found to benefit those with arthritis, fibromyalgia and even Alzheimer’s disease. This terpene is found most commonly in strains of cannabis, including AK-47, Arjan’s Ultra Haze, Jack Herer, OG Kush and Super Lemon Haze, among others.

Beyond the repair of bones, the terpene is unique due to its power to draw out liquids (one of its chief applications within the cosmetics industry). This drying effect makes it a candidate for use as an antihistamine and in products targeting excessive menstruation or mucus production. This quality is also responsible for anecdotal reports of dry mouth (cottonmouth) and red-eye among cannabis smokers and vapers.

The Research

Research has revealed the medicinal efficacy of terpenes such as delta 3 carene since the 1980s. A 1989 study entitled “Comparative Study of Different Essential Oils of Bupleurum Gibraltaricum Lamarck” that was published in the journal Europe PMC investigated the anti-inflammatory properties of delta-3 carene, concluding “the essential oil of the Cázulas Mountains population was most active against acute inflammation owing to its high delta-3 carene content.”

2007 study entitled “Low Concentration of 3‐carene Stimulates the Differentiation of Mouse Osteoblastic MC3T3‐E1 Subclone 4 Cells” published in the journal Phytotherapy Research tested 89 natural compounds for their ability to maintain bone repair, deal with bone disease and promote overall healthy bones.

Concluded the study’s researchers, “Further studies are needed to determine the precise mechanism, but the anabolic activity of 3‐carene in bone metabolism suggested that the use of natural additives to the diet, including essential oils, could have a beneficial effect on bone health.”

Originally published on https://cannabisaficionado.com.

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How to Be An Informed Cannabis Consumer

Being a consumer in the brave new world of legal cannabis markets can be an intimidating, confusing experience. Dispensary shelves can contain dozens of varieties of cannabis flower, as well as hundreds (or even thousands) of other assorted products; new products are seemingly released daily; labels can contain hard-to-pronounce, sometimes scary-sounding chemicals; and lab testing results show percentages of compounds that science does not even understand completely. On top of all that, since the industry is so new, most companies have not yet had time to gain a reputation as a trusted grower or product manufacturer that consumers can count on for consistency and quality. In some cases, people even disagree on what constitutes “quality” in a cannabis product.

As the cannabis industry continues to mature, it is often said that consumers will become more discerning. But what does that mean? What should you be concerned about when deciding how to spend your hard-earned money?

There’s a Lot More to Cannabis than THC (and CBD)

The cultivators and dispensaries that I work with consistently tell me that one of the biggest factors in a product or batch of cannabis selling quickly is high THC test results. However, THC — and even the combination of THC and CBD — do not tell the whole story. Many cannabis researchers are supportive of the theory of the Entourage Effect, put forward by Raphael Mechoulam, the scientist who first discovered THC and CBD. In basic terms, it states that the effects of a particular variety of cannabis are the result of synergistic actions by all of the plant’s components: the dozens of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds produced by cannabis. Terpene testing is available in many legal markets and should be being performed by top organizations that are truly trying to dial in their strains, as they play a big role in the effects caused by the final product. Ask to see terpene profiles in addition to those of cannabinoids.

Is it Organic?

Cannabis cannot at this time be certified organic, as that program is regulated by the federal government, and many companies using the term are doing so incorrectly. Ask about how the plants are fertilized. Most growers use some form of hydroponics, which cannot be organic, as they employ synthetic nutrients as fertilizers. However, if growers are using natural fertilization sources, such as kelp, earthworm castings, molasses, guano, and materials of that nature, then it is likely that their approaches are closer to what is known as “organic.” It’s also a big plus if they mention beneficial microbes, which can play a huge role in naturally boosting plant health and contributing to a higher-quality final product.

The production and use of synthetic fertilizers is also not environmentally friendly and standards that organic operations must follow include conserving natural resources and protecting biodiversity, which are also principles that are important to some consumers. Ammoniacal nitrogen is produced through the Haber-Bosch process, which requires significant fossil fuel inputs (typically natural gas derived from fracking) and results in greenhouse gas emissions. Run-off from synthetic nitrogen fertilizer has resulted in massive “dead zones” where algal blooms kill fish and other organisms by starving them of oxygen. For a peek into the impact of phosphate mining, look up the history of the Pacific Island nation of Nauru, which has basically been stripped bare due to demand for fertilizer. Cannabis is at this point a tiny percentage of the world’s agriculture, but being a small part of a big problem doesn’t help anything. If buying organic is important to you in regard to food, then ask for cannabis grown in soil with natural fertilization and avoid product grown in hydroponic systems, which includes using synthetic fertilizers in inert media such as coconut coir and rockwool.

The Indoor vs. Outdoor Debate

The prevailing opinion in the industry is that indoor grown cannabis is superior to outdoor. I am here to tell you that is not always the case; that prejudice is partly based on outdated notions of outdoor product from prohibition. At that time, illegal growers did not care for their plants; the main goal was not getting caught. Now, in legal states skilled cultivators are growing incredibly high-quality greenhouse and outdoor product. The full spectrum of the sun also cannot be matched by any lighting technology that exists today, and it promotes the development of cannabinoids and terpenes differently (better, in my opinion) than any artificial lamp ever could. Finally, if environmental impact plays a role in your consumer decisions, then you will want to ask for greenhouse or outdoor-grown product, which have a drastically smaller carbon footprint compared to the energy-hogging nature of indoor grown cannabis.

Watch Out for Pesticides…

Unfortunately, the recalls in Denver have shown that a significant amount of legal cannabis growers are using chemical pesticides improperly. Right now, we don’t know if pesticides can be safely used on cannabis as no research has been done to this point. Ask about the grower’s IPM practices. IPM means Integrated Pest Management and any good cultivator should be able to talk about their holistic pest control strategies. See if they talk about cleanliness, prevention, environmental control, resistant varieties and, again, using natural materials such as extracts of garlic, thyme, cayenne pepper and the like. Conscientious cultivators absolutely can bring in pest-free crops without the potentially highly toxic chemicals being used by some growers.

How Old Are Those Tests? And What Lab Performed Them?

Many dispensaries will happily show you or quote you test results for their products, but are those results actually relevant for what you are actually buying? Test results can vary from harvest to harvest, as changes in environmental conditions, fertilization, the amount of time a plant was allowed to flower and other factors can all alter the cannabinoid and terpene profile of a plant. Ask if the test results are for the particular harvest batch (or production batch, in the case of infused products) that you are being sold. Historical tests can provide some idea of the characteristics of a strain or product, but will not always be accurate.

Make sure to ask what labs are doing the testing and do some research on them too. Some labs are unfortunately not equipped to provide accurate results and some have even been accused of faking favorable results for growers in order to bring in more business. It is difficult for those without science backgrounds to understand how to evaluate a lab, but a simple question would be, what type of equipment is a lab using? My contacts at Agricor Labs, one of the leading operations in Colorado, tell me that Agilent and Waters are the top laboratory equipment manufacturers; everything else is a distant third, at best. Unfortunately, to save money, some labs are buying cheaper brands of equipment, or even purchasing old machinery second-hand. Also investigate the background of the people running the lab. Look for individuals that came from the medical, pharmaceutical, or agricultural fields and have significant experience in testing other crops or products for quality and safety.

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about as a cannabis consumer and the issues above are just the tip of the iceberg. Still, your budtender will probably not be able to answer all of the questions raised here, as most dispensaries buy cannabis and other products from many different suppliers. But, if enough people ask them, dispensaries, growers and infused product manufacturers will be forced to educate those selling their products on exactly what makes them better, or possibly even change their practices if they are not in line with what consumers are demanding. While the newness of the industry itself can be a little overwhelming, it’s also a truly unique opportunity that we have to be able to set the standards and collaborate in deciding where we want this field to go. Being an informed, selective consumer and voting with your dollars is one of the most effective ways to shape the industry and make sure that the types of products you are happy to purchase will have a place on dispensary shelves. If we want safe, high-quality, reliably tested and responsibly produced cannabis — and who wouldn’t? — then we have to start asking for it.

TELL US, do consider any of this criteria when buying cannabis?

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Terpinolene: The Powerful Medicinal Terpene with Anti-Cancer Promise

Few cannabis consumers are fully aware of the complex molecular chemistry of the herb they vaporize, smoke, or eat.

Terpenes like terpinolene are the aromatic molecules responsible for the sometimes revealingly pungent aroma of many strains of cannabis. Although the chief purpose of this family of chemicals is an evolutionary defense mechanism against pests and predators, terpenes have been found to deliver medicinal efficacy that equals that of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.

More than 20,000 terpenes exist throughout nature, about 200 of which have been identified in various strains of cannabis. Terpinolene (sometimes denoted as “TPO”) is considered a minor, or secondary, terpene and features an aroma resembling sweet pine.  It delivers a taste reminiscent of citrus and is produced in many plants in nature other than cannabis, including allspice, cumin, junipers, parsnip, rosemary, sage, and tea tree.

The Details of Terpinolene

In terms of medicinal efficacy, terpinolene kills cancer cells and acts as a sedative. In addition, it displays antibacterial properties and is both an anti-fungal and an anti-oxidant. It is employed as a flavoring agent by various segments of the food industry. It is also used to manufacture plastics and resins and is an effective repellent against pests such as mosquitoes and weevils.

2013 study found this special molecule to be a powerful anti-cancer agent. Concluded the study’s researchers, “Our findings clearly demonstrate that terpinolene is a potent antiproliferative agent for brain tumour cells and may have potential as an anticancer agent, which needs to be further studied.”

The Research

2013 study entitled “Anticancer and Antioxidant Properties of Terpinolene” that was published in the journal Arh Hig Rada Toksikol found terpinolene to be a “potent antiproliferative agent for brain tumour cells” and surmised that this powerfully medicinal terpene “may have potential as an anticancer agent,” an issue in obvious need of further research due to the 91 million people worldwide who suffer more than 100 types of cancers.

The researchers concluded, “Our findings clearly demonstrate that terpinolene is a potent antiproliferative agent for brain tumor cells and may have potential as an anticancer agent, which needs to be further studied.”

2012 study entitled “Terpinolene, a Component of Herbal Sage, Downregulates AKT1 Expression in K562 Cells” and published in the journal Oncology Letters found the terpene terpinolene to be an effective agent in the battle against a variety of cancers.

Concluded the study’s researchers, “Increased expression and/or activation of AKT is involved in a variety of human cancers. In cells treated with sage or rosemary extract, mRNA and protein expression levels of AKT1 were reduced compared with those of the control cells 48 hours after the herbal treatments. We found that terpinolene, a common component of sage and rosemary, markedly reduced the protein expression of AKT1 in K562 cells and inhibited cell proliferation.”

Originally published on cannabisaficionado.com.

TELL US, how well do you know your terpenes?

The post Terpinolene: The Powerful Medicinal Terpene with Anti-Cancer Promise appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Interactive Wordsearch – Parts of the Cannabis Plant

Today’s Weed Wordsearch is all about the different parts of the cannabis plant! Get stoned and get ready! Here is a plant-based puzzle made for chronics! WHEN YOU FIND A WORD: Click on the first and last letter to cross it off the list!

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