DEA: Marijuana is Not a Gateway Drug

Marijuana has been called a gateway drug for over 80 years.

The battle lines were drawn long before anyone currently driving the gateway debate had assumed power. Political figures have demonized cannabis and those who consume it for almost a century and worked to create a massive industrial prison complex designed to harvest people. Low income and minority people have borne the brunt of the assault.
Americans have been tricked into accepting the most ridiculous claims about cannabis and a whole generation of people have grown up behind bars because of it. Politicians have used slippery speech to sway public opinion and outright changed the law in order to suite their desires for decades. When Reagan and Clinton enacted laws that put more people in jail than the Romans had slaves.
Larry Anslinger didn’t care about how many would suffer without the healing properties of cannabis, he was motivated by an zealous hatred for the plant to create the movie Reefer Madness. President Nixon was motivated by a religious desire to punish people regardless of what his own investigators proved. Reagan had no mercy for people caught in the crossfire when he enacted draconian mandatory punishments for minor drug infractions.gateway

We stand at the dawn of a new era of American drug policy.

Despite an abundance of empirical evidence about the medical benefit of cannabis from reputable medical professionals from the Shafer Commission to Sanjay Gupta, it remains a schedule 1 controlled substance. This classifies weed as having “no medical benefits” and creates massive hurdles for scientists and doctors looking to research cannabis. It also puts it in the same medical category as heroin.
With the rise of Trump and the appointment of Jeff Sessions to Attorney General, the entire industry is bracing for another impact. Part of the collective wince comes from the evasive actions of top officials on the matter through election season. Instead of giving clear messages about how they plan to pursue policy, government officials are as vague as possible about how they plan to pursue policy.
This evasive attitude has made many wary of the how the Trump Administration plans to deal with cannabis. Statements in the past by Jeff Sessions like “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” and his past issues of discriminatory prosecution during the Civil Rights movement has helped to stir up old debates.

The debate surrounding legalizing marijuana has resurrected the Gateway Theory.

This theory presumes that experimenting with marijuana inevitably results in the use of harder drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Until recently, the DEA website contained dozens of lies and inaccuracies and it begrudgingly changed them only after being threatened with legal action.
Many people don’t know that it is illegal for federal agencies to spread incorrect information. Yet when it comes to cannabis, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been doing it for years. In less than a month, a petition from calling on the DEA by a to stop lying about medical cannabis received 85,000+ signatures.
The petition was started by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nonprofit organization working to increase access to medical cannabis. “The DEA has actually admitted that the theories that cannabis use leads to harder drugs (gateway theory), long-term brain damage, psychosis, and other alleged harms, are not based in scientific fact, and yet they keep distributing this false information”, says ASA. “[W]e have found 25 instances of these false claims on their website.”

The petition for updated information was direct and their arguments were air-tight.

The group argued that the document previously known as “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse,” had a few inaccurate claims about cannabis.  They showed how the page was in violation of the Information Quality Act which requires that administrative agencies provide accurate information to the public. The DEA also had to respond to requests for correction of information within 60 days.
A separate petition was filed by the Department of Justice demanding that the DEA immediately update misinformation about cannabis. While neither the DEA nor the DOJ responded to ASA’s request, the document which contained the majority of the inaccurate statements was removed from their website.
But the governement is made up of more people than ever before. There is a lot of room for competing ideologies and goals to play out. A key observation of the Shafer Commission is that many of the risks of drug use are the result of drug policy/enforcement rather than from the drugs themselves.

The “gateway drug” stigma refuses to die.

A prime example of how this stigma presents itself is New York governor Andrew Cuomo. He wants to keep cannabis illegal in New York State because it “leads to other drugs and there’s a lot of truth to proof that that’s true.” He holds this view despite the results of a major study on medical marijuana conducted by the venerable Institute of Medicine, which included an examination of marijuana’s potential to lead to abusing other drugs.
The study found that “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.” Even the DEA has gone on record to say “Little evidence supports the hypothesis that initiation of marijuana use leads to an abuse disorder with other illicit substances,” while refusing to reschedule cannabis in August of 2016.
The continuing stigma prevents meaningful reform of marijuana laws by perpetuating harmful misinformation.  A Rasmussen poll found that a large percentage of Americans believe the gateway argument. Nearly half of voters (46%) believed marijuana use leads to harder drugs. Thirty-seven percent (37%) did not see marijuana as a “gateway” drug.

Patterns in progression of drug use are strikingly regular.

Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people come across. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs used marijuana before the harder stuff. In fact, most adult users begin with alcohol and nicotine long before moving on to cannabis and other illicit drugs.
In 2006, the University of Pittsburgh released a thorough study which researchers spent 12 years putting together. They tracked a group of subjects from adolescence into adulthood and documented the initiation and progression of their drug use. The researchers reported that the gateway theory was not only wrong, but also detrimental to properly understanding and addressing drug abuse.
The myth of the Gateway effect needs to be put to rest once and for all. The more research that is conducted the clearer it becomes that cannabis use does not lead to abuse of other drugs. Some promising research has also shown that cannabis can actually help people kick the other stuff like heroine. As more and more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, it is more important than ever to put the gateway myth to rest. Thanks for reading.


Terpenes: The Arousing Aroma of Cannabis

Have you ever wondered what makes cannabis smell the way it does?

There is a lot of chemistry when it comes to terpenes. There is still a lot to unlock about how our bodies process the chemicals that make things smell. We call these chemicals aromatics and terpenes are the specific types of aromatics produced by plants including cannabis.
Many recent advancements in the science of biology and biochemistry have opened windows into how we experience terpenes. Most people can tell the difference between the smell of lemons and mushrooms because the chemicals they produce interact with our bodies differently. They interact with our endocannabinoid system through CB-1 and CB-2 receptors the same way THC and CBD do.

How do terpenes work?

Terpenes have a synergistic effect with cannabinoids as their complex chemistry is able to shift and flex. Because of their flexibility, they can be used by the body to work for many different uses. Terpenes can affect dopamine and serotonin production and destruction while limonene can increase serotonin production. This is why different strains not only smell and taste different, but also have different affects on mood or sensation.
While over 200 terpenes occur in different concentrations in any given strain, there are a few primary terpenes that produce the greatest concentrations, and about 20 more secondary terpenes that occur in lesser concentrations. Each terpene has a specific purpose and more research is needed to reveal the true complexity of their chemistry.

What are the primary terpenes?

Of all the hundreds of terpenes, there are only a few that are produced in any great abundance. There are about 12 main terpenes in cannabis. Different strains produce terpenes in different amounts and are therefore specialized to treat different maladies. Here are the most common terpenes and what they do.
Myrcene: Is an effective anti inflammatory. It also works as a sedative and muscle relaxer.
Linalool: Can be used as an anti inflammatory and can also modulate motor movements.
Limonene: Can be used to help promote weight loss, prevent and treat cancer, and treat bronchitis.
Alpha Bisabolol: Can heal wounds, fights bacteria, and can also be used a deodorizer.
Delta 3 Carene: Is an effective anti inflammatory. It is also known to dry fluids like tears, running noses, and menstrual flows.
Borneol: Can be used as an analgesic, anti-septic, and bronchodilator.
Pinene: Has anti-inflammatory properties.
Eucalyptol: Is used in cough suppressants, mouthwash, and body powder.
Terpineol: Contains antioxidant properties.
Caryophyllene: May help treat anxiety and depression.
Camphene: Is known to possess anti-inflammatory and antibiotic characteristics.

Testing for terpenes can be done two ways.

Most consumers have a passing knowledge of what terpenes they want. They try a few strains and develop a preference for one over another. A quick sniff of a sample is all that is needed for a broad sense of what is present. Trying to peel apart the individual layers takes a more nuanced approach though.
Myrcene and linalool are some of cannabis’s most abundant terpenes. Myrcene smells musky, like cloves or an earthy, herbal scent. Some even say it has notes of citrus and tropical fruit. Linalool on the other hand smells like a  candy or  a sweet floral element. The more fragrant a strain, the more terpenes are present and active.
Because of how many different aromatic terpenes cannabis produces, it can be difficult to determine the exact mix of terpenes by smell alone. Most producers or distributors rely on chemical analysis. They get the exact level of terpenes through a report from a certified testing lab. The same labs that test for THC and CBD content are often equipped to also perform terpene analysis for a small fee.

Plants produce terpenes for a variety of reasons.

Plants can’t run away from predators or bad weather. Because they can’t flee, they have developed many ways to deal with the inevitable. One of the ways plants cope is by producing chemicals like cannabinoids and terpenes. Terpenes like pinene and limonene are able to ward off plant predators while linalool and myrcene can help the plant heal from injury.
Plants can also use terpenes to call for help. There is evidence that even corn uses terpenes like those found in cannabis to protect itself from predators. It doesn’t use the terpene to kill anything, it uses it to call for reinforcements. Corn roots damaged by pesky caterpillars emit caryophyllene. This terpene attract predatory wasps that then attack the caterpillars.

Different plants produce the same terpenes.

Cannabis produces terpenes in the same trichomes that it uses to produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD. The cannabis plant smells strongest during flowering because that is when the most trichomes are active. Natural variation and forced breeding techniques have allowed people to design plants based on cannabinoid content as well as terpene content.
Biology is complex but there are repeating patterns. Most plants require the same chemicals (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) as they do to produce smells (terpenes). Cannabis produces the same terpenes as other plants, just in different amounts.

Terpenes enhance the effects of cannabinoids.

Take myrcene, it occurs in fragrant plants and herbs like mangoes, hops, bay laurel leaves, thyme, lemongrass, and basil. It is naturally synergistic with THC and allows cannabinoids to more easily bridge the blood-brain barrier. Myrcene is present in most cannabis although it is a dominant terpene in Pure Kush, Jack Herer and many other strains.
Over generations of breeding, cannabis cultivators have selectively bred plants to produce high levels of specific mixes of terpenes. Strains like Lemon Skunk and Sour Lemon have higher levels of limonene in them while Dog Walker and Skunk normally produce more myrcene.

Orin-Ray Terpenes

Do terpenes just make things smelly?

Terpenes determine many of the effects attributed to specific strains. While two samples may have the same THC content, if their terpenes profile (mix of terpenes present) are different, the samples will affect someone in different ways. Strains like Granddaddy Purps or OG Kush are generally sedating while Sour Diesel and Strawberry Cough tend to increase alertness.
Humans have inhaled terpenes, including linalool, since ancient times to help relieve stress, fight inflammation, and combat depression. Linalool specifically has been the subject of many studies. Some, like this one where scientists had lab rats inhale linalool while exposing them to stressful conditions, reported that linalool returned their immune system stress levels to near-normal.
We still need to do more research to find all of the ways that terpenes interact with our bodies. As legalization sweeps the country, hope for more research funding is growing. For now, people in states that have legalized cannabis in some way can begin doing anecdotal research themselves. Thanks for reading.

cann history

A History of Medical Cannabis Part 2: Modern Cannabis

In Part 1 we talked about ancient cannabis and how it has been used throughout the ages.

Today we are going to talk about modern cannabis and how it moved from prominence as a medicine to a recreational drug. Yet medical cannabis is not relegated to the ancient past. Modern medicine uses the term marijuana instead of the ancient name: cannabis but it means the same thing.
The original name can be traced back to the Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides. He was a roman army doctor from around 40-90AD who traveled widely on campaigns throughout the Roman empire. He wrote the medical text that virtually all others were based on for over a thousand years and had a special entry for both male and female cannabis plants. It wasn’t until the 1930’s when the plant became known a marijuana in an effort to re-brand it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

By 1621, medical marijuana had made its way into the English Mental Health Book.

Cannabis was entered into one of the most popular medicinal textbooks from the era to treat depression. Because of the work of an Irish doctor working for a shipping company during the colonization of the new world, medical cannabis moved to the Americas.
Cannabis treatments were a staple of a professional doctors curriculum up through the industrial revolution.  Before Alaska and Hawaii were states, America had laws on the books that supported medical marijuana in all 48 states. Cannabis was not seen as a recreational drug, it was medicine with little risk of side effects.

But in 1936 all that changed.

Pressure was being placed on the U.S. by the international community to sign the International Treaty on Controlled Substances. While not directly listing cannabis as a controlled substance, the treaty forced all countries that signed to adopt similar drug policies. Propagandists later used the treaty to get cannabis banned across the developed world.
A very popular anti-marijuana campaign burned through the nation. Funded by the government and directed by the talented propagandist Larry Anslinger, “Reefer Madness” was a sensational tale about marijuana. It featured the plant ruining people’s lives through sex, insanity, and horrific acts of violence. Although Reefer Madness was a work of pure fiction,  it was accepted by a whole generation as fact with the tenacity of religious convictions. The influential power of the Reefer Madness propaganda laid the groundwork for Larry Anslinger to get cannabis banned.
Larry Anslinger was a potent propagandist that was able to convince the developed world to outright ban cannabis use, cultivation and distribution. He used a mixed media of propaganda to accomplish this. Anslinger was a master of using media and used the newspapers, radio and television to spread a web of half-truths and outright lies.
After spreading a racially motivated panic with the Reefer Madness propaganda, Anslinger convince the U.S. to pass the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Anslinger provided his political masters a new way to target their political opponents voting base. The politically motivated police force acted quickly on the new laws to target the poor.

The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act brought America Modern Cannabis.

On the day the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act was enacted (Oct. 2, 1937) the FBI and Denver Colorado police raided the Lexington Hotel. They arrested a man named Samuel R. Caldwell for selling modern cannabis. He was a 58 year-old unemployed laborer. Three days later, on Oct. 5, 1937 Caldwell became the first person convicted under U.S. federal law of distributing cannabis.
In 1942, cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopeia. When that happened, cannabis lost the last vestiges of medical legitimacy. Because of the International Treaty on Controlled Substances, most of the other countries in the developed world were forced to enact similar rules.

Over the next decades, criminalization of cannabis continued.

As more and more regulations were heaped on medical practitioners, they became unable to prescribe cannabis. Legal penalties increased massively with the Boggs Act of 1951. It established minimum prison sentences for simple possession of cannabis. Thanks in great part to Anslinger’s work, cannabis was classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance in 1970.
Schedule 1 substances are substances no medical benefit and high risk of abuse. The controlled Substances Act of 1970 Classified Marijuana as a having “No Accepted Medical Use”. After the passing of the Substances Act, medical practitioners were barred from prescribing modern cannabis for any medication, effectively removing the oldest known medicine from a whole generation of healers across the globe.
In 1971, the Shafer Commission was created by the U.S. president to determine the merit of criminalizing cannabis. The Shafer Commission was bi-partisan and overseen by congress. President Nixon himself ordered it to determine “if the personal use of marijuana should be criminalized.” The commission came back with an answer and Nixon ignored it because he didn’t like that they believed there was no reason to scale up action against users.
In 1971 president Nixon chose to aggressively pursue action against cannabis consumers by declaring the War on Drugs. Motivated by personal prejudice political corruption, he saw marijuana as a way to get at his political opponents. He even admitted at the time that his reasons for attacking cannabis users and increasing penalties was motivated by personal directives.

Nixon acknowledged his action was not based on empirical evidence.

He increased criminalization despite the commission he put together telling him officially and unequivocally that cannabis use should not be criminalized. Over the next two years, the Nixon built a force specifically designed to scale up violence against modern cannabis users.
The Department of Drug Enforcement (DEA) was established in 1973 by merging the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNND) and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) into a single agency. It comes as no surprise that the DEA continues to aggressively pursue cannabis consumers, producers and distributors to this day. They use every tool at their disposal regardless of legality or constitutionality to continue the criminalization of marijuana.
Things continued to go downhill for cannabis in the coming years. It wasn’t until 1976 that Robert Randall (who was afflicted by glaucoma) used the Common Law Doctrine of Necessity (US v. Randall) to defend himself against criminal charges of marijuana cultivation. In 1976, federal Judge James Washington made waves with his ruling. Judge Washington ruled that Randall’s use of modern cannabis constituted a ‘medical necessity’ and the case was thrown out.
Modern cannabis 2

The next milestone for modern cannabis crusaders came in the winter of 1991.

Modern cannabis took a step forward with the passing of medical marijuana reform in California. The first medical marijuana initiative was called Proposition P and was in San Francisco. It passed with an overwhelming 79% of the vote in November of 1991.
Proposition P called on the State of California and the California Medical Association to restore hemp medical to the list of available medicines in California, and to stop penalizing physicians for prescribing hemp for medical purposes. It only effected San Francisco but the cogs of bureaucracy had been activated. It would take another 5 years for legislation to go statewide.
Voters in California passed the first statewide medical marijuana initiative on November 5, 1996. Known as Proposition 215, it permitted patients and their primary caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for the treatment of AIDS, cancer, muscle spasms, migraines, and several other disorders. It also protected doctors from state sponsored punishment if they recommended marijuana to their patients.

The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly.

In September of 1998, the House of Representatives debated a resolution called H.J.Res. 117. They passed H.J.Res 117 at the same time Oregon, Washington and Alaska provided their medical marijuana programs. In H.J.Res. 117, Congress declared support for the existing federal drug approval process.
They decide not to reschedule marijuana despite the overwhelming evidence coming forth that it should be decriminalized. While cannabis is classified as having no medical benefit, the United States Department of Health and Human Services) currently holds a patent on medical cannabis.
Patent No. 6630507 covers the use of cannabinoids for treating a wide range of diseases and was submitted to the patent office in 1999. The Department of Health and Human Services was awarded the patent in 2003. Yet the Department of Health is not the only regulatory agency that has chosen to abandon science, compassion and reason.
Modern Cannabis

In 2002, the FDA decided how to use modern cannabis in a study.

They decided that shipping 300 pre-rolled joints to patients in metal canisters was the best way to judge modern cannabis. The material was frequently two or more years old upon receipt by patients and a close inspection of the contents of NIDA-supplied cannabis cigarettes revealed them to be a crude mixture of leaf with abundant stem and seeds.
The study concluded that “cannabis smoking, even of a crude, low-grade product, provides effective symptomatic relief of pain, muscle spasms, and intraocular pressure elevations…” and that “clinical cannabis patients are able to reduce or eliminate other prescription medicines and their accompanying side effects.” The FDA report was ignored by those in power and cannabis remained a schedule 1 controlled substance despite the undeniable evidence.
The DEA has still not reclassified cannabis. It remains a holistic herb used throughout time as a medicine that current U.S. legislators are violently opposed to. While international progress has been made with the UK rescheduling cannabis to Class B and the Netherlands also making great strides in medicinal research, the U.S. still struggles to come into the light. Use of scientific reasoning is about to get even harder for the U.S. government as President Trump decides who will take the reigns of power. Yet his choice of Jim O’Neill to head the FDA (who openly supports cannabis legalization) gives modern cannabis hope for the future. Only time will tell. Thanks for reading.
Featured image: shutterstock

cbd wr

CBD: How Cannabidiol (CBD) is Natures Best Healing Compound

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis plants.Scientific research over the last few decades has shown that Cannabidiol has dozens of medical benefits. Cannabidiol is one of over 60 compounds found in cannabis.  Both THC and CBD belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids.
Of the known cannabinoid compounds, CBD and THC are usually present in the highest concentrations, and are therefore the most recognized and studied. The difference between CBD and THC comes down to how they interact with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors. Cannabidiol inhibits the interaction of CB-1 receptors throughout the body with a major focus on receptors in the central nervous system.
CBD Flower

How does CBD work in the body?

Cannabinoid receptors are cell membrane receptors  that contain transmembrane spanning properties. Cannabinoid receptors are activated by three groups of ligands (a molecule that binds to another molecule):  endocannabinoids that are produced inside the mammalian body, cannabinoids produced in plants and synthetic cannabinoids. Because CB-1 receptors bind with all three types of cannabinoids, one source can be supplemented for the other to provide medical benefit to patients.
The endocannabinoid system is a vast network of cell receptor proteins and serves many functions. CB-1 receptors are heavily concentrated in the central nervous system. Others types of cannabinoid receptors are found all over the body. They’re in every humans skin, digestive tract, and even in their reproductive organs. All of the endocannabinoids and plant cannabinoids bind to fatty compounds in the body. The binding properties of cannabinoids are why THC and CBD remain in a person’s system for so long.

How does CBD work in the brain?

Cannabidiol has low binding affinity for CB1 receptors. THC binds well with CB1 cannabinoid receptors but CBD does not. This is why one (THC) will cause a high and the other (CBD) will not. While this makes Cannabidiol a bad choice for recreational users, it is a significant advantage for use as a medicine. The high associated with cannabis is generally considered a side effect.
Since health professionals prefer treatments with minimal side effects. CBD is seen by most medical professionals as preferable to THC. CBD is non-psychoactive because it doesn’t act on the same pathways as THC. These pathways, called CB1 receptors, are highly concentrated in the brain and are responsible for the mind-altering effects of THC.
CBD Flower 1

What does CBD do?

The fact that Cannabidiol-rich cannabis is non-psychoactive or less psychoactive than THC-dominant strains makes it an appealing option for patients who want to avoid the stereotypical feelings associated with consuming cannabis.
Scientific and clinical research underscores Cannabidiol’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions. People looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy find Cannabidiol to be an effective treatment.
Conditions including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders find the most relief from treatments. This is because CBD has demonstrable neuroprotective and neurogenic effects along with anti-cancer properties. These properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers around the world.

How does CBD treat all these health issues?

The biggest distinction between CBD vs. THC comes down to a basic difference in how each one interacts with cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors. THC binds well with CB1 cannabinoid receptors while CBD does not. Think of it like an electrical plug connecting to an outlet.
A THC molecule is perfectly sized to connect with CB1 receptors. When that connection happens, THC stimulates those CB1 receptors like turning on a switch. THC works to activate those CB1 receptors.Cannabidiol works in a different way. It doesn’t act directly to activate or suppress CB1 receptors. Instead, it acts to suppress the CB1-activating qualities of a cannabinoid like THC.  So while THC turns on CB-1 receptors like sticking a key in an outlet, CBD blocks the outlet.

If CBD is so good, why isn’t it more mainstream?

Even though CBD shows great promise as a medicine, it remains illegal in most of the world. CBD is classified as a Schedule I drug (right beside THC) in the United States and a Schedule II drug in Canada and the UK.
The US government has been studying CBD for a while and fund most of the science going on stateside due to the difficulties associated in researching a schedule 1 substance. Even with the challenges, intrepid researchers have identified dozens of conditions that can be treated or cured using Cannabidiol.
A team of researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center, led by Dr. Sean McAllister, has stated that they hope to begin trials on CBD as a breast cancer therapy. Due to the challenges of navigating the FDA, they are fighting an uphill battle.

If CBD is great as medicine, why aren’t more drug companies using it?

All is not dark for CBD research. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a request for a clinical trial of a CBD based drug. The drug in question is a pharmaceutical version of CBD used to treat children afflicted with rare forms of epilepsy. The drug is called Epidiolex and is made by GW Pharmaceuticals. GW Pharmaceuticals also makes another cannabis-based drug called Sativex.
Even with approval of trials for Cannabidiol based meds, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made it clear that marijuana-based extract is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law. They made sure to say in a Dec. 2016 address that the ban includes CBD oils and other types of CBD-rich extracts.

What does the future of CBD look like?

In general, far more research is needed to figure out all of the effects cannabis has on our bodies. But, to say that our overall understanding of CBD is “lacking” would be an understatement. In the midst of medical and recreational legalization happening in the US state by state, the federal stance on cannabis remains staunchly opposed. While the UK classifies CBD as a schedule 2 substance, the US still tightly holds to its schedule 1 status of all things cannabis.
A pharmaceutical version of Cannabidiolwas recently developed by a drug company based in the UK. The UK based company, GW Pharmaceuticals, is now funding clinical trials on Cannabidiol as a treatment for schizophrenia and certain types of epilepsy through the significantly easier UK process.
Only time will tell if cannabis will become a mainstream medical tool in the future. With political pressure and overwhelming public support for legalization, there has been a lot of gains in recent years. As legislation moves cannabis out of the darkness and into the limelight, government agencies like the FDA will have to reevaluate how they have classified cannabis. Thanks for reading.

420 weed

Happy Holidaze, Weed Readers!

Happy 4/20!

But wait… what does 4/20 even mean? Why do so many folks in (and out) of the cannabis culture, reference this number to no end but couldn’t tell you what it meant?

For most, it’s used as code– using 420 to reference cannabis was believed to have originated as a police code, then adopted as a counterculture.  Other users believe the reference was started by the band, The Grateful Dead. Word of Deadhead meetings, aka Grateful Dead concerts, was spread through flyers. One story in particular mentions a flyer bearing the info, “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais” (source).

The apparent truth of the origin story is, ‘420’ was a term established in the early 70s by a group of high school students from San Rafael, CA. They called themselves The Waldos, and still do. Well before any states had legalized cannabis, one might need to go by an alias, or at least be very careful about where and when they did their smoking. Their group name was coined in reference to the statue they’d meet as, as well as the number alluding to the time

So while the term was established by a group of high schoolers, it’s obviously made it’s way across the country and other parts of the world, as a catch-all term for cannabis culture. As I said, the uprising of cannabis counterculture in the 90s and its use of ‘420’ was helped along by The Grateful Dead and its fan base. Members of The Waldos had close relations with the Dead, so really, each part of the origin story does have some truth to it. Each piece of lore or information ends up weaving together to form a more complete envisioning of how the notion of ‘420’ started.

Regardless of where the term came from, people take great joy in being able to reference (though no longer that subtle) their activities or culture in ways others can recognize. For the most part, the culture developed off the back of the phrase is pretty harmless. (Though let me say, hearing “heheh, 420, man” anytime the clock changes over, gets old.)

Most people celebrate the “holiday” by spending it with their friends, consuming plenty of cannabis, and for some, it’s become a political opportunity to advocate for legalization. Many cities, especially in states where cannabis is legal, tend to have some sort of gathering to observe the day, often at universities or parks. If it interests you, do some searching and see what’s going on in your area. If not, find your own way to celebrate! Have your first bowl or joint outside, share it with friends, or make someone’s day and hide some nuggets in easter eggs!

Whatever you decide to do, be smart, and be safe. Know the laws of your town/state on cannabis before you go lighting up on the sidewalk. Know your rights if you’re stopped by police! The perception and reputation surrounding cannabis users is something important, if we want to get any closer to legalization, or in general, acceptance of its use in everyday life. So, act accordingly–your cannabis use does not relieve you of being respectful or having some awareness!

All in all, let tomorrow be a day of celebration, relaxation, and feeling grateful that such a wonderful plant exists. Happy holidays!

-hope this is what you guys meant, it’s not that polished but feel free to edit what you don’t like!

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420 gifts

The Ultimate 420 Gift Guide

420 is without a doubt one of the world’s most famous unofficial holidays. And not just because it’s a great excuse to get high, watch Netflix, and binge-eat curly Cheetos with your friends (although that’s certainly a part of it)…
As any true cannabis enthusiast will tell you, there’s a lot more to it than that, and it’s something you truly have to experience to understand. 4/20 (despite its hazy origins) is a day for all cultures, all personalities, all subspecies of stoner and cannabis connoisseur to come together as one in celebration of a plant that has gifted and improved the lives of so many, despite being shunned and misconstrued by so many more.
The reality is you don’t have to be a cannabis expert to participate, you don’t even need to consume cannabis at all. But chances are you know someone who does, and maybe you’d like to impress them with a thoughtful, 420-inspired gift to symbolize your acceptance and appreciation for them and the plant. Well, read on, as you’re about to discover the best 420 gifts you could possibly give. Of course, I’ve broken them down by category to make things easy for you.


The pioneering Chicago Trap/Bass duo has teamed with up with SOURCEvapes, one of the industry’s leading manufacturers, to create the most powerful wax pen vaporizer on the market.  While the price is a bit steep ($120), it’ll be the only portable you’ll ever need.  Crafted from the purest Grade 1 titanium and quartz, the Source Orb XL is the ideal 420 gift for your refined cannabis enthusiast wanting the purest taste and experience.  With revolutionary triple coil atomizers the vape pen can hold over a half gram of concentrated oils, has five airflow settings, adjustable voltage battery, and dabbing tool—which all fit inside a compact and convenient travel case.  You’ll be able to sneak this into their next show and rep your love for the HDYNATION.


image03Considered the Rolls Royce of vaporizers, Storz & Bickel’s Volcano desktop unit is renowned the world over for its unparalleled performance, smooth taste, low maintenance—and hefty $500 price tag for a device that resembles a Vicks steam inhaler.  But once you’ve taken a hit it’s easy to understand how this continues to be such a popular model.  The hits are so smooth and clear it’s hard to tell if you’re medicating or inhaling air.  If you’re short on cash I’d opt to split the cost with a friend or roommate since you’ll most likely being using it among good company anyway.  It also comes with the option of choosing the Easy Valve or Solid Valve kit, though I believe all you need is the former which includes five balloons (each should last about five months), a cleaning brush, filling chamber, liquid pad, screen set and hot air generator.  It’ll be worth it.  


These thick glass Patron bottles have been refurbished into beautifully handcrafted water pipes available in two distinct styles, regular (water pipe) and hookah.  Personally I’d recommend the hookah as the experience is always more communal and conversational, perfect for a 420 group sash with friends and loved ones on this upcoming high holiday.  They’ll be sure to trip out (if they aren’t already) at its ingenious design and craftsmanship, which supplies ample space to hold your favorite smoke without any seepage.  The 750mL makeshift smoking device comes complete with an interchangeable four-foot hookah hose, ceramic bowl and is made to order.  Enhance your living room décor and make this unique piece a conversation piece at your next pot party.


Give the gift that keeps giving as you grow a few of your own plants in the comfort of your own home.  This mini greenhouse comes with a 7” dome, fluorescent light fixture that stays warm but not hot, adjustable lighting and a reflector allowing constant air flow.  It’s small enough to lodge in any discrete locale and powerful enough to blossom a mini bounty without the hassle of costly upkeep.  Retailing for about thirty bucks it’s an affordable junior operation and great practice for future horticulture operations should this hobby become a passion.  Get back to nature; cultivate a practical crop you can use in everyday life and share with friends.


The Black Rock Safety Case has been built not only for the methodical marijuana user on the go, but to disprove the popular misconception that all users are irresponsible stoners.  This durable, odor proof case has been field tested to withstand the elements.  At first glance its sleek design makes it look like just another phone or eyeglass case, but after further inspection you’ll note the plentiful space to keep your stash safe and discreet.  For twenty dollars more the case comes loaded with a vape, joint or pipe kit containing (depending): two 1g pebble containers for buds or concentrates, a stainless steel grinder card, rolling papers, pipe, poker, and lighter.  If you like convenience and tend to get forgetful after medicating this case is well worth the $50.  


Colorado Stashbox puts a lot of effort into their rustic, hand crafted 7” X 7” dab box, available in two distinct styles/woods: Colorado Aspen, more of a pale brown, and Beetle Kill Pine, an earthy red (my personal recommendation).  Inside it has carved compartments that include a medical dab mat, titanium dab tool and blue, yellow and green 7mL silicon jars.  The box’s simplistic design doesn’t require hinges or latches and is made with their detachable, air tight lid which also functions as a rolling tray.  For just seven dollars more you can truly personalize this gift by having it engraved.  This is perfect for the dabber who appreciates craftsmanship, color and design.  And in honor of 420 all products are currently 10% off, so don’t wait and order yours today!


A grinder is an essential medicating tool, and I believe this one is the best available.  Made in Amsterdam, The Bulldog Swing Grinder is a durable metal four-piece grinder with sharp teeth, a translucent lid, and a unique crank arm that moves easily and quickly requiring little energy.  The circular grip provides extra control when milling your herb into a fine, fluffy powder and the see-through top allows you to judge how coarse you want it.  It’s also easy to clean and comes with a kief collecting compartment for use in a medical emergency or rainy day.  Some might argue $25 is an unnecessary price for such a basic utensil, but it’ll last forever and help you get the most out of your herb.  


Based on the design of original CLUB rolling tray, RAW’s 20” X 15” Lap Tray combines quality, space and stability.  Its concave design, curved corners and high sides assure your precious herb won’t spill and provides plenty of room to keep all your medical marijuana paraphernalia together in one place.  You’ll no longer need to search for a magazine or textbook to find a flat, stable surface.  The built-in foldout legs also make it perfect for rolling blunts in bed or on the couch.  Made from thick metal, it’s strong enough to double as a lunch tray so if you’re a multitasker like me you can roll a smoke with your meal while catching up on your favorite shows.  This is an often overlooked but essential purchase.


Dixie Brands’ Aceso (named for the Greek healing goddess) spray products have unlocked hemp’s medicinal powers by combining them with all natural, immune enhancing ingredients to help you reach your full potential and find relief from daily stress, aches and anxiety.  Each bottle contains 335mg of cannabinoids (5mg of CBD per spray) and is available in three distinct flavors: Calm has hints of lavender and grapefruit; Soothe contains notes of cinnamon and cherry; Wellness has bursts of lemon and orange.  A $70 price tag for such a small bottle could deter some, but why put a price on your health?  It’s already proven to be so effective it’s been approved in New Zealand to combat Tourette’s Syndrome. Simply push and spray six times a day and swallow.


This handmade, light beige market bag is designed to make your shopping experience as convenient as possible.  Measuring 18” X 18” it has an attractive hand stamped lavender moth patch, wide straps that rest easily over your shoulder without drag or discomfort, and includes a large pocket for keeping your wallet, smart phone or additional bags.  Made from hemp/organic cotton muslin fabric the tote is environmentally safe, light enough to take to the beach and strong enough to carry the groceries, a trend which has quickly grown in popularity here in California where disposable paper and plastic bags are taxed.  Invest in a beautiful, reusable product that’ll pay for itself within the month—but hurry, they’re selling out fast so buy yours ASAP!


Baking can be too much work and isn’t for everyone, so if you want a different chocolatey THC treat Liquid Gold Delights will satisfy you and your sweetheart’s sweet tooth.  While there are countless gourmet chocolates on the market these High Times Cannabis Cup winning truffles actually live up to the standard.  They’re handmade and come in packets of four individually wrapped 25mg pieces, available in mint, cinnamon, raspberry, orange, caramel, espresso, and dulce de leche.  The Mint and Raspberry Meltaways are just as delicious as they are ornate, so much so you almost don’t want to eat them.  Each piece is an edible work of art detailed with abstract shapes and color patterns reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock.  GFarmLabs also makes equally tempting chocolate bars, confections, and cherry cordials.  Just take note, you’ll need to be a medical marijuana patient or live in a recreational state to get your hands on these.


Whether you buy it or make it yourself, cannabutter and cannaoil are one of nature’s greatest gifts.  I recommend unsalted MariButter and their extra virgin MariOil (available in 8 & 16oz containers).  They’re tasty on their own, moderately strong (25mg per ounce), and will leave you feeling warm, full and fuzzy from head to toe.  I use the butter for creamy dishes, soups, and desserts; the oil for salads, seafood, and light pastas; both for searing and braising.  Before making anything you should understand the products’ dosage so test your tolerance with a piece of bread and a spread or drizzle.  Be patient with its effects which should kick in anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half.  And, if you insist on wine with your meal, limit it to one glass and do not mix with hard alcohol.  After crafting your first delicious dish you’ll wonder why you never combined these two before.  


What better way to profess your love for someone this Wednesday than making them a delicious, THC-infused gourmet meal?  Or baking them a batch of cannabis sweets?  Think of  HERB: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis as The Joy of Cooking for marijuana foodies; you can make simple and amazing dishes right from your own stash!  Containing hundreds of delectable and colorful recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and desserts, this text tackles the herb like any other organic ingredient.  Chefs Melissa Parks and Laurie Wolf also provide easy extraction techniques, tips on making your own butters and oils along with a comprehensive understanding of strains and their varied effects on our mind and body.  Remember you don’t have to be a veteran chef to whip up a tasty dish, so don’t be afraid to try; kitchen experimentation is always a fun bonding experience.  Just be sure not to be overly medicated around the stove or oven and take the proper precautions.  
Phoenix Tears The Rick Simpson Story chronicles the activist’s uphill battle to champion cannabis as a medical miracle after confirming in 2003 that hemp plant extracts can not only cure cancer, which he himself had until homemade cannabis oil cured it, but also treat a wide range of illnesses.  Despite this book’s overwhelming testimony neither the government nor the medical community will openly recognize its life saving properties.  If you want to learn the truth, debunk misconceptions, and understand why marijuana should no longer be a Schedule 1 drug, read this book.  It’ll make a believer out of you, regardless of your position.  You can also purchase Rick’s signature oil with your doctor’s recommendation here, though only available to California residents.  


If you’re baking or cooking with butter or oil, you definitely need some kitchenware to handle hot grills, pots, pans and to protect your hands.  Priced at only $27 these vibrant full body aprons are made from a 65% polyester/35% cotton blend and available in red, white, green, black, and blue with a variety of marijuana themed prints suited for every mood and occasion.  In honor of the holiday I say go for this “I Heart 420” graphic print.  Each apron has an adjustable drawstring and split front pocket for holding your grilling utensils, condiments or other culinary enhancing items.  Take it a step further and match your apron with a chef’s hat for a coordinated look.  This would make a great gift for the cooking cannabis connoisseur in your life.  


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Regardless of your medical intake preference, every cannabis user must show his or her pride and have at least one weed themed piece of apparel in their closet.  While there are countless inspired designs, these three satirical tees pictured above are my favorites and will sure to bring compliments from cannasseurs and non-users alike.  Retailing between $8 and $10 they’re a bargain, available in eight colors, made from 100% cotton, come in sizes small to 3XL, and are machine washable.  I recommend washing them inside out at cold temperature and not putting them in the dryer since the print will eventually fade or crack.  Don’t be ashamed to wear it publicly and show your support for the cause!


For residents of California, there’s plenty of deals around the corner, whether they come from your dealer down the road, or a legitimate, licensed medical cannabis dispensary. I personally prefer the latter, as having my marijuana use protected by law sits well with me, and dispensaries (although not all) are notoriously more upscale than your dealer’s living room. Luckily, sourcing cannabis from a real dispensary isn’t as hard as you might think. It’s actually gotten incredibly easy thanks to Nugg, a “Grubhub meets cannabis” site that lets patients view menus of nearby dispensaries and place orders online for delivery.
As if getting your cannabis delivered to your door wasn’t enough, they’re putting on an incredible 4/20 promotion — $20 off your first delivery plus a FREE Domino’s Pizza with EVERY order! That’s right: free food for that inevitable munchy moment and a cash discount on all your essential 420 purchases, all day and night. Now I don’t know if the company is working with Domino’s directly or not, nor do I care, they’re bringing me free pizza. And the best part? Nugg works with dispensaries all over California, so no matter where you are, stay there. In fact, don’t even get up at all this 4/20 if you don’t have to, let the party come to you. I lied, that’s not the best part. The best part is that even if you don’t have a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana, it’s no problem! You can get one 100% online from the comfort of home through NuggMD, which lets you video-chat with a licensed California doctor to get your recommendation in ~10 minutes for just $40.
To claim the $20 off deal and your free pizza, Nugg’s website instructs new users to signup with the promo code “PIZZA” and include what type of pizza (medium, 1 topping) in the comments section at the checkout screen on your order!


BAIT retail has collaborated with Adidas Skateboarding to produce the medicinal inspired Stan Smith Vulc “Happy” variant.  Made from natural hemp, the detailed stone patterned and colored shoes have contrasting touches of green, red, sky blue, and yellow along with suede heels and hidden tongue compartments to protect your emergency stash and cash.  There’s also the option to have your laces in matching stone hemp, black or white, though I wouldn’t recommend changing their rustic look and keep them as pictured.  These are so limited and in-demand that you must create a BAIT account just to win a chance to purchase the $120 pair, so hurry! Those lucky few are already being notified as they ship out on 4/18 then will be available on 4/20 at their seven West Coast stores.  A must have for any weed loving sneaker head.    


The self-proclaimed “world’s best online headshop” continues its annual 420 sale with 20% off all their products (excluding vapes and papers) and free, fast shipping on orders over $100.  Choose and compare from a large selection of pipes papers, bongs, bubblers, dab and oil rigs, vaporizers, grinders, accessories and anything else weed friendly; no discount code needed!  Knowing the holiday might put a hole in your pocket and your memory, they’ve extended the sale until 4/30, so you have an extra ten days and no excuse not to pick up some cool gear.