Cannabis 101

Pipes

The use of pipes for the consumption of cannabis dates back to 500 B.C. Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian, was the first person to make mention of cannabis in literature, describing Scythians inhaling the fumes of burning leaves from a pipe-like object. Native Americans are also well-known for incorporating cannabis into their ritualistic ceremonies and have forever held the belief that there is a connection between the spiritual world and the cannabis plant. The term “peace-pipe” comes from Native American culture, and tribe elders would generally hold meetings while smoking cannabis from a pipe.

 

Pipes offer a convenient, mess-free way of consuming cannabis. They can be small and discreet or sizeable and bold, but whatever the aesthetics of the pipe, the result is the same.

 

Cannabis is consumed through a pipe by placing a small amount of ground-up flowers in the “bowl” of the pipe and inhaling the smoke. Pipes come in all shapes and sizes and can be made from several materials, including silicone, glass, metal, and plastic.

Vaporizers

Vaporizers are a more modern invention compared to cannabis joints or pipes. The first desktop vaporization devices were introduced to the market in the ’90s, and the technology has seen rapid advancements over the last 30 years. Vaporizers now come in many different forms, including disposable, pre-filled pen-like vaporizers and portable, pocket-sized units. There are three main types of vaporizers: flower vaporizers, concentrate vaporizers, and hybrid units. The type of vaporizer determines the form of cannabis being consumed.

 

Vaporizers were created with the medical cannabis consumer in mind, as the cannabis material is only heated to the point of releasing cannabinoids and terpenes, rather than the point of combustion. Vaporization reduces airway irritation and eliminates then ingestion of carcinogens that are produced when cannabis flowers are combusted.

 

Vaporizers contain a coil element that gently heats the cannabis product, whether it be oil, concentrate, or flower, to release the cannabinoids and terpenes. This process is extremely efficient and releases more cannabinoids and terpenes than consumption methods which involve combustion.

Oils

Cannabinoid oils are quickly gaining popularity as they offer a smoke-free method of consumption. Cannabinoid oils are made by infusing a carrier oil (typically coconut oil) with cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD, CBG, and CBN. One of the benefits to oils is that they can isolate specific compounds, such as THC or CBD, to produce a product with very specific applications. On the other hand, oils can be made as full-spectrum products that contain an array of cannabinoids and have a broader application.

 

Oils are used by spraying or using a dropper to administer the oil sublingually. The oil is placed under the tongue for maximum absorption, and it’s effects usually take full effect within 60 to 90 minutes. Dosing is more difficult with oils as they take longer to take effect; however, once you determine the appropriate dosage, the results can be replicated time after time.

Joints

Joints are a modern method of consumption. Smoking cannabis joints dates back to1865 when a Mexican University professor noted that his workers were mixing cannabis in with their tobacco. Thus, was born the legend of the cannabis joint.

 

Smoking a cannabis joint involves rolling finely ground flowers into papers, either by machine or by hand. Papers are available to suit any rolling and smoking style, including rice papers, fine organic hemp papers, and even flavored rolling papers.

 

Smoking cannabis joints remains one of the most popular and convenient consumption methods, as there is no need to buy expensive equipment, and joints can be rolled quickly and taken on the go. Joints are great for sharing with friends and offer a fairly discreet method of smoking cannabis.

Capsules

Capsules are a newer method of cannabis ingestion, similar to edibles. Capsules tend to be popular amongst athletic and fitness-minded consumers as they offer a smoke-free and sugar-free option for cannabis consumption.

 

Capsules are individual gel capsules (typically vegetable-based for vegan consumers) that contain a tincture, oil, or decarboxylated flower mixture. The effects are similar to taking a tincture, oil, or edible and are generally not felt for 60 to 90 minutes.

 

One of the greatest benefits of cannabis capsules is their discreet nature and specific dosing. Figuring out the correct dose can be a process of trial and error, however discovering that sweet spot will generate reproducible results for the consumer. Capsules are mess-free and easy to take to a yoga class or on a hike.

Edibles

Edibles are the most enjoyable way to consume cannabis for the majority of people. Lighting up a joint or a bong can be great, but isn’t eating a brownie or cookie even better? Edibles are infused foods, such as gummies, cookies, brownies, honey, and other confections, which contain cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.

 

Edibles are generally made with infused oils or tinctures but can also be made with decarboxylated flowers. Decarboxylation is a process in which the flowers are gently heated to convert THC to THC-A. This process activates the THC in the flowers and makes them bioavailable to the body.

 

The trick with edibles is to start low and go slow with dosing. Edibles take up to 90 minutes to fully kick in, so it is important to be patient. Finding the right dose is a process of trial and error, but once you have determined your optimal dose, you can attain the desired effects time after time.

 

Edibles are extremely discreet and can be taken anywhere. They are great before a night out or at the movies, where smoking and vaping are not an option.

Topicals

Health and beauty topicals, pain creams, and CBD balms have become all the rage in mainstream America with the passage of the Farm Bill, but did you know topicals can include THC as well? Topical is a broad term for any cannabinoid-based product that is applied externally. The benefit of this type of product is that it will not make the consumer feel high, as with traditional consumption methods.

 

When cannabinoids are used topically, they do not cross the blood barrier and never enter the body’s bloodstream, which is why they will not make you high. A cream could contain 100% THC, and it still won’t have the psychoactive effects often associated with THC use.

 

Legal topicals come in a wide variety of products, including pain-reducing creams, lotions, face creams, body balm, gels, oils, and even intimate lubricating products. Using topicals is a different method of “consumption,” although the body still gets all of the benefits from the cannabinoids.

Tinctures

Tinctures are similar to cannabinoid-infused oils in that they are a smoke-free consumption method. Tinctures are alcohol-based substances that incorporate different cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Unlike oils, tinctures should not be taken sublingually is it will cause a burning sensation. Instead, tinctures are meant to be added to drink or food. Just be cautious, the effects can take 60 to 90 minutes to kick in fully.

 

Tinctures are a popular way to make infused cocktails at home. All you have to do is add a few drops of the alcohol-based tincture to your favorite drink and enjoy it. As with oils, tinctures can be made in an isolate form or a full-spectrum format. Finding the right dose is a process of trial and error; however, once the appropriate dose is determined, the desired results can be attained repeatedly.

Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, known by its common nomenclature of THC, is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. THC is a cannabinoid that produces the intoxicating effect, or “high”, that most people associate with using cannabis. This may include feelings of euphoria, happiness, relaxation, decreased stress, decreased anxiety, and overall well-being. As individualsare as different as the strains they smoke, the effects will vary and are a unique experience to the consumer.

 

In the 1980s, the average THC content of available cannabis strains was around 3%. Today that number is as high as 30%, with an average 15% THC content. Genetics researchers, breeders, and cultivators have figured out how to grow plants with very specific THC content to ensure the desired results are met.Cannabis cultivators can tailor cannabis medicine and THC content to match consumer’s needs.

 

THC has many medical applications, although further research is needed to back subjective claims from medical cannabis patients. Medical benefits may include pain and inflammation reduction, increased appetite, stress reduction, neuroprotectant, and cancer-fighting properties. Early research supports these theories but points to the need for further studies once cannabis becomes a legal substance, due to current research being heavily restricted by legal concerns.

Benefits of THC

One of the biggest benefits of THC is pain relief. A 2010study concluded that THC was effective at relieving neuropathic pain and was well tolerated. The authors reported that a 25mg dose of cannabis with 9.8% THC, inhaled three times daily, was the most effective dose at relieving pain in study participants.

 

THC also can act as a neuroprotectant and protect the brain from degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease. A 2014 study found that “people with THC in their systems were 80% less likely to die from traumatic head injuries than those without THC,” and a 2018 study determined that THC has the potential to further the treatment of diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease.

 

THC is also believed to have anti-inflammatory effects. One study concluded that THC might reduce the production of cytokine and chemokine, which are two compounds that contribute to chronic inflammation by triggering the inflammatory response.

 

Finally, THC has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and may be beneficial for fighting infection and disease.

How Does THC Work?

THC enters the body and acts on the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors are concentrated in the brain, specifically areas that may affect short-term memory, learning and problem solving, and coordination.

 

THC acts by mimicking a chemical called anandamide. Anandamide is a naturally occurring cannabinoid produced by the human brain and is responsible for maintaining normal communication and function in the brain. THC acts on neurons to alter the messages the brain receives, which alters the chemical communication in the brain and causes the consumer to feel “high”.

 

Typically, the naturally occurring cannabinoids, such as anandamide, can maintain normal brain function, but when exogenous THC is consumed, the signals become altered. This may cause decreased coordination, short-term memory, and problem-solving abilities.

Let Green Relief Help

If you are wondering how THC may help your individualized needs, visit Green Releaf Dispensary and speak to one of our certified Budtenders. Our Budtenders have extensive knowledge about THC, terpenes, and what strains are appropriate for certain conditions. You are not alone in your medical cannabis journey, come in and see us today!

CBD is the abbreviated name for cannabidiol, which is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and will not make the user feel “high.” CBD does have mood-enhancing properties and is therefore referred to as non-intoxicating rather than non-psychoactive. CBD is currently being researched for its potential medical properties, and the findings are positive.

CBD is commonly used to manage stress, anxiety, nausea, chronic pain, and arthritis. It also has medical applications in the management of more serious diseases such as Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy, schizophrenia, Tourette’s, and Parkinson’s Disease.

Hemp-based CBD products are not covered by the Missouri Medical Marijuana Program and contain less than .3% THC, by law. Cannabis-derived CBD may contain higher amounts of THC and is covered under the Missouri Medical Marijuana Program.

Will CBD Get Me High?

The simple answer is no, CBD will not make you high. CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, although it does tend to elevate mood, decrease stress, and make the user feel relaxed. CBD can be consumed safely without interfering with daily activities.

CBD covered under the Missouri Medical Marijuana program is cannabis-derived and may contain more than the 0.3% THC allowed in hemp CBD. Therefore, cannabis-derived CBD products may contain higher amounts of THC that produce psychoactive effects.

Choosing a Quality CBD Product

Finding the right CBD product can be challenging, as the marketplace has become saturated with CBD oils, tinctures, balms, and creams. CBD can now be found in grocery stores and gas stations, and the quality of these products ranges from poor to excellent, so how do you know which brand of CBD to choose?

Working with a certified dispensary agent can be extremely helpful when determining what type of CBD product to buy. Green Releaf carries high-quality CBD products, which are cannabis-derived, and covered under the Missouri Medical Marijuana Program. Our agents will be able to help you select the product that is most appropriate for your needs and give you suggestions on appropriate dosing and usage.

Visit us at Green Releaf and find out how CBD may be of benefit to you.

How Does CBD Oil Work?

All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) and produce endogenous (made in the human body) cannabinoids. The purpose of the endogenous cannabinoids is to maintain balance in the endocannabinoid system, but sometimes the system becomes unbalanced.

This could be caused by the underproduction of endogenous cannabinoids or poor activation of the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS. Ingesting CBD activates additional receptors and brings the system back into homeostasis. CBD gives your body more of what it already makes and needs.

CBD Oil

CBD oil is the most common way to ingest CBD; however, CBD can also be eaten, vaped, or smoked. CBD oil is a carrier oil, typically coconut or olive oil, infused with CBD extracted from the hemp or cannabis plant. CBD oil is typically taken sublingually but can also be added to recipes to create CBD infused meals.

CBD is extracted from the hemp or cannabis plants using ethanol or CO2 extraction methods. These two methods represent the cleanest way to extract CBD for human consumption, but should only be performed by professionals, as ethanol and CO2 extraction can be dangerous if the correct procedures are not followed.

Once CBD has been extracted from the plant and added to the oil, it undergoes a process called chromatography, which removes unwanted plant phytochemicals from the oil. This ensures a clean CBD oil.

The best recommendation for cannabis dosing is to “start low and go slow”. As there is no formal dosing schedule, and most medical professionals don’t know how to recommend the correct dose of cannabis, it is crucial to work with experienced and knowledgeable dispensary agents, patient educators, and medical cannabis doctors when learning to dose cannabis medication.

 

As cannabis dosing is usually a process of trial and error, it can take even the most experienced consumer awhile to find the optimum dose and correct strain to meet individualized needs and achieve the desired results.

 

Cannabis is a unique medication in that it works differently in every individual; therefore, some patients may require 10mg of cannabis, whereas others require 1500mg to achieve the same results. This has to do with the consumption method, metabolism, diet, exercise, and the conditions being managed. Learning about the correct dose of cannabis takes time and requires patience.

Cannabis and the Multiphasic Dose-Response Relationship

Most medications follow a monophasic dose-response relationship where an increased dose increases therapeutic effectiveness. Cannabis is unique in that it does not follow this pattern but rather follows a multiphasic dose-response relationship.

 

Multiphasic dose-response relationships require the consumer to take an increased dose of medication over time to achieve the same therapeutic result. This may increase unwanted side effects as cannabis tolerance builds, and higher doses are required.

 

It is always recommended that medical cannabis patients take the smallest dose possible to achieve the desired results. This prevents over-excitement of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and unwanted side effects from occurring.

Effects on the Endocannabinoid System

The dosing range of cannabis that is considered effective is called the “therapeutic window” and represents the smallest effective dose to the maximum dose where unwanted side effects begin to take hold.

 

The ECS is a sensitive system with thousands of receptors throughout the body. If the ECS becomes oversaturated with cannabis, it can cause cells to retreat and be recycled or destroyed, or the cannabinoid receptors to become desensitized.

 

The ECS is responsible for maintaining balance on a cellular level, and it is important not to overwhelm the system. In terms of cannabis, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Tolerance Breaks

As patients are required to continually increase their dose of cannabis to achieve the same therapeutic results, there are times where a tolerance break may be required. This involves taking a break from cannabis consumption for a pre-determined length of time.

 

Tolerance breaks effectively re-set the endocannabinoid system, and allow patients to return to smaller doses of cannabis to achieve the desired results. A 3-day tolerance break is enough to lower tolerance thresholds and return the consumer to their starting dose levels, although seven days is the recommended length for a full tolerance break.

 

As tolerance breaks require a break from taking cannabis medication, they can be a difficult task to take on. It is important to remember to stay hydrated, eat well, and exercise during a tolerance break. This will decrease unwanted side effects and support the body’s normal function.

Choosing the Right Medication

WWhen choosing what type of cannabis medication to use, it is important to understand cannabinoid and terpene profiles. This will help consumers make informed decisions on the best medication for their needs. For instance, an Indica strain which is lower in THC and higher in myrcene would be great for someone who suffers from anxiety, whereas a high THC Sativa strain, which is high in limonene, would be appropriate for someone who is trying to counteract fatigue and chronic pain.

 

Cannabis is individualized medicine, and time and care must be taken to choose appropriate strains and consumption methods. What works well for one person may have unwanted side effects in another individual.

What If I Take Too Much?

At some point, most individuals will end up over-consuming cannabis. As dosing is a process of trial and error, it is easy to take too much cannabis and experience unwanted side effects. The good news is there are several ways to combat the feeling of “being too high”.

 

CBD is known to combat the psychoactive effects of THC and can be taken to help calm down the feeling of being high. Taking a moderate dose of CBD can combat the unwanted effects of cannabis. Another method that can be used after taking too much cannabis is chewing on black pepper. Black pepper contains the terpene caryophyllene, which combats the effects of THC.

 

No one has ever died from overconsumption of THC, so take a few deep breaths, chew some black pepper or take some CBD, and you will be back to normal in no time.

Be Patient

At the end of the day, finding the right dose of cannabis for your individual needs is a process of trial and error that requires patience. It is important to heed the old adage of “start low and go slow” to avoid overconsumption and unwanted side effects, but if overconsumption does occur, remember that you have options.

 

Cannabis is a medicine that should be used with intention. Seek to find the appropriate therapeutic window and discover the minimum dose needed to achieve the desired results. Be patient and trust in the process.

Terpenes are the essential oils found in all plant species, including cannabis. These aromatic compounds are responsible for giving each cannabis strain its unique taste and smell, as well as providing medical benefits that go beyond THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

 

Each cannabis strain has its own unique genetic makeup and a combination of cannabinoids and terpenes that give it a distinct taste and aroma. Cannabis breeders are now delving into the science of terpenes and breeding plants with specific genetics to get the desired terpene profile. For instance, crossing strains such as Critical Super Silver Haze, which is high in pinene, with Jack Herer, which is high in terpinolene, would create a strain high in both pinene and terpinolene which has a piney and woody smell and taste.

 

Cannabis is a highly personalized medication that works differently in different individuals. That is why it is crucial to understand how terpenes work and the effects they create. Blue Dream is considered a Sativa strain, but due to the myrcene content, its effects are relaxing and sedating, not what most people expect from a Sativa. Critical Super Silver Haze is another Sativa strain that is lower in myrcene, and higher in Limonene and pinene, giving it more traditional uplifting Sativa effects.

 

Terpenes can also be found in all plants and are generally responsible for the smells we have come to associate with different plants. Terpenes are what makes lemons smell like lemons and lavender smell like lavender, due to the Limonene and linalool in the respective plants.

Medical Benefits of Terpenes

The role of terpenes has been extensively studied as it relates to fruit, vegetables, and plants other than cannabis. Terpene profiles and related effects have been identified in nature and can be related to the study of cannabis and the effects of terpenes on different strains.

 

A 2011 study, in the British Journal of Pharmacology, concluded that breeding cannabis with specific terpene profiles might broaden the application of medical cannabis. The study noted that terpenes act in synergy with cannabinoids, through the Entourage Effect, to enhance the effects of each individual strain.

Terpene Profiles

Now that we understand how terpenes work let’s take a look at some specific terpenes and their medical applications.

 

Caryophyllene is a terpene found in black pepper and all-spice. It has a spicy, peppery taste and delivers a smell similar to cinnamon or cloves. This terpene has significant anti-inflammatory effects and acts on CB2 receptors in the brain to reduce oxidative stress. Strains high in caryophyllene are excellent for patients with chronic inflammation, post-stroke patients, and individuals with acute injuries that cause swelling.

 

Limonene is a terpene commonly found in lemons and most citrus fruit. It has a distinct citrus smell and fruity taste and is commonly found in strains with haze genetics. Limonene produces feelings of euphoria and is great for stress and anxiety relief. Limonene also acts as an antibacterial and antifungal agent and is great for issues of the digestive tract.

 

Linalool is a terpene commonly found in lavender and mint plants, and it has a distinct spicy, lavender aroma. It is well known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties, as well as its sedative effects. Strains high in linalool are great for sleep and pain reduction and are more common in Indica dominant strains.

 

Pinene is commonly found in pine, rosemary, basil, and dill plants and has a definitive pine, earthy, and herbal aroma. Pinene is a common terpene found in the kush species of the cannabis plant and is well known for its anti-cancer properties. Pinene inhibits acetylcholinesterase activity in the brain and improves attention, focus, and alertness, making pinene heavy strains great for daytime use.

 

Although we have only touched on several terpenes, there are dozens more present in nature and different cannabis strains. Work with a certified dispensary agent to determine which terpene profile will be of the greatest benefits for your individual needs.

The Entourage Effect

Terpenes play a crucial role in the entourage effect and act to increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, allowing cannabinoids to have a greater effect on the consumer. Additionally, terpenes allow cannabinoids to bind more effectively to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system and enhance the effects of cannabis.

 

In essence, cannabinoids and terpenes acting in synergy produce greater effects than individual cannabinoids or terpenes acting alone. There is significant power when cannabinoids and terpenes combine forces.

 

Therefore, it is important to understand the role of cannabinoids, and synergistic terpenes play when choosing a cannabis strain or concentrate.

Getting the Greatest Benefit from Terpenes

While smoking cannabis is the most popular form of consumption, methods such as vaping are gaining popularity. The benefit of vaping is that cannabis can be heated to a precise temperature, which releases specific terpenes. Smoking tends to burn up terpenes and lessen their effect on the consumer.

 

Different terpenes have different vaporization points. For instance, caryophyllene vaporizes at 160º Celsius, while Limonene does not vaporize until 176º Celsius. When using a vaporizer, it is important to determine the optimum temperature for cannabinoid and terpene release. This will allow the consumer to get the maximum benefit from their medicine.

Enhancing the Cannabis Experience

For many medical patients, consuming cannabis is about much more than “getting high.” Medical patients are seeking specific results to help manage their medical condition, and terpenes may be the answer.

 

Terpenes play an important role in the genetic profile that makes up different strains of cannabis and should be taken into consideration with as much weight as the cannabinoid profile.

 

Choosing strains with specific terpene profiles will ensure that the cannabis you are consuming is tailored to your individual needs and acts to enhance the overall experience of using cannabis as medicine.

Indica Vs Sativa

There are hundreds of different strains available in Missouri’s legal market, and it can take even the most experienced user years to find the strains that achieve the desired results.

 

Each cannabis strain gives the consumer a different experience, as strains are genetically unique and contain different cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Just like snowflakes, no two strains are exactly alike! Strains also have different smells and tastes based on the terpenes in their unique genetic makeup.

 

All cannabis plants come from the family of Cannabacae plants, under the genus name Cannabis Sativa. This is a deceptive name as there are two different types of species of cannabis: cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Indica and Sativa are the two terms consumers are used to hearing when describing different strains of cannabis, and each type has specific effects.

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Cannabis Indica

Indica plants grow short and bushy with big, wide leaves and small internodal spaces. Indica plants tend to produce bigger, bushier buds as compared to Sativa plants and are known as high-yielding, easy to grow plants with a 7-8 week flowering time.

 

Cannabis from the indica species is well known for its sedative and relaxing effects. Many consumers equate indicas with a “couch-lock” high that leaves the consumer feeling mellow and sleepy.

 

Indica strains are intended more for consumption at night due to their sedative effects. Indicas are also excellent at reducing stress and anxiety and are generally recommended for medical patients due to their pain-relieving properties.

 

Indica strains tend to be higher in CBD and lower in THC compared to Sativa strains. For patients looking to take advantage of the calming properties of CBD in a strain that’s not as potent, indica strains or Indica dominant hybrids may be the appropriate choice.

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Diversity Oriented Outreach

Cannabis plants grow tall and tree-like, with large internodal spaces and large thin leaves. Sativa strains are more appropriate for environments with longer growing seasons as they have an 8-10 week flowering time and may not fully mature in colder climates. Sativa plants tend to have smaller yields, as compared to indica strains, and the buds are usually smaller and less dense.

 

Cannabis from the Sativa species is well known for its uplifting and energizing effects. Other effects may include euphoria, happiness, mood-enhancement, and stress relief. Sativa strains may not be appropriate for patients with serious anxiety issues as they may enhance anxious feelings.

 

Sativa strains are great for daytime use as they are uplifting and energizing. Many consumers report that sativas enhance creativity and stimulate artistic endeavors.

 

Sativa strains tend to be higher in THC due to longer flowering periods. Additionally, Sativa strains tend to have far less CBD content and may not be the best choice for individuals looking for relaxation and relief from anxiety.

Choosing the Right Strain

As cannabis has been genetically bred for generations, it is difficult to find “pure Sativa” or “pure Indica” strains. Most modern-day strains are a “hybrid” of Indica and Sativa genetics and have properties of both species. Therefore, strains are generally expressed as an Indica dominant hybrid or a Sativa dominant hybrid strain, rather than a straight Indica or Sativa.

Choosing appropriate strains to try can be difficult, but working with a qualified budtender can make all the difference. Budtenders have extensive knowledge about cannabinoids and terpenes and will be able to direct their customers to the best strains to try. The rest is up to the individual consumer as they go through a process of trial and error to determine which strains produce the desired effects.

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