Review: Grass is Greener

Review: Grass is Greener

Original Post: Cannabis Now: Review: Grass is Greener

[Canniseur: This documentary has all the ingredients to make a great film. Music. Cannabis. More music. It illuminates the connections between black musicians, cannabis and the cannabis laws that were designed to repress blacks and and other people of color. It’s a must see.Here’s a link to a second page on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s showing now on Netflix.]

It’s easy to focus on the positives and tune out the negatives of cannabis legalization when, in more places than ever, you can walk into a storefront and conveniently purchase a pre-roll without fear of being arrested.

So, it makes sense that when brands like Ben and Jerry’s make statements about racial injustice or documentaries like Grass is Greener — appropriately released on 420 — make their way onto Netflix, they tend to disrupt the dominant narrative that everything is pretty much cool now.

This smart documentary, directed by the hip hop pioneer Fred Brathwaite who’s better known as Fab 5 Freddy, illuminates the deeply interwoven relationship between jazz, hip hop, reggae and cannabis. From Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong to Bob Marley and Peter Tosh to Snoop Dogg and Cypress Hill, viewers are given a chance to connect the dots between cannabis and black music across eras and genres. All the while, Brathwaite narrates through the history of the parallels between the music, the artists and the plant that all found themselves at odds the status quo of their time.

The documentary lends screen time to musicians, researchers, artists, policy-makers, activists and others to speak on what they’ve learned about cannabis and music, their hopes and fears for the burgeoning industry and how cannabis prohibition has affected them personally or the people in their lives. Brathwaite acts as interviewer and guide as he paints a picture of a global counterculture of black artists who exert major, inexorable influence on cannabis culture, both then and now.

This influence is plainly visible from a slang perspective: Words like weed, chronic and ganja all find their roots in this community.

But it does go deeper than that.

The impact and influence of the music are juxtaposed with the reality that — whether in the depths of New Orleans during the height of the jazz era or decades later in the Bronx during the dawn of hip hop — the government found a way to systematically punish being black through cannabis prohibition. For those who are not aware of how blatant racism (masked as cultural anxiety) fueled the War on Drugs, this documentary will help to shed some light on how the politicization of cannabis and its association with people of color (particularly black and Latin people) created a stigma that still remains to this day.

It could also help those unconcerned with a cannabis industry monopolized by rich, white brands understand why organizations that champion equity in the cannabis industry need to exist.

And for industry workers who turn a blind eye to the fact that people of color have been routinely sidelined from participating, this documentary could shed light on how their silence contributes to the problem. And it might just bring the casual user around to the idea that the local weed man on the so-called “black market” is just as much of an entrepreneur as the clean-cut guy tabling at the cannabis convention.

Some parts of the documentary are understandably heavy and heartbreaking, but this feels necessary rather than gratuitous. “Grass is Greener” speaks to a bigger need, beyond just discussion — it demonstrates that real action is essential to fix a history that has unapologetically criminalized a plant and a people under the guise of safety.

The truth is, none of the facts in the documentary are new information. But they are important, and they retain profound impact on how the legal cannabis system is functioning, yet still failing to support its most vulnerable participants. Because it unabashedly addresses a topic so many politicians, uneducated physicians and successful cannabis professionals and ignore with the finesse and ease of well-written track, it’s a gem worth watching and worthy of respect.

Review: Grass is Greener was posted on Cannabis Now.

Book Review: ‘A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis’

Book Review: ‘A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis’

Original Post: Cannabis Now: Book Review: ‘A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis’

[Editor’s Note: Are you interested in a gender specific cannabis guide? Before you purchase Nikki Furrer’s book, read this review by K. Astre.]

Author Nikki Furrer provides plenty of information and solid advice — but do women really need it?

When it comes to spending money, the common wisdom goes that women take the cake across the board. That’s why so many companies spend time marketing to this lucrative demographic with special items, hashtags, slogans and promises.

So it’s only natural that the cannabis industry has its fair share of women-centric offerings, from edibles and tinctures to cosmetics to books and movies. But are women truly different creatures when it comes to the basics on cannabis? It’s hard to say — even after reading “A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis: Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better — and Get High Like a Lady.”

Overall, “A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis” is a cohesive guide full of basic information that could be useful to anyone. However, author Nikki Furrer intentionally offers a very targeted perspective to women from a woman on some particular parts of consuming and utilizing cannabis. To be clear, men are welcome to read and learn from this book as well — but it seems like it would probably be of little interest to them, outside of the general information, because of the clear gaze meant specifically for women.

cover image: womans guide to cannabis

Furrer says she wanted to help someone like her mother, for example, navigate her first trip to a dispensary or consuming cannabis. This personal desire creates the foundation for the book, which focuses on the stories and narratives of women who have utilized cannabis to manage symptoms or generally improve the quality of their lives.

The six-part book does a good job at covering a wide range of topics and includes recipes for food and cosmetics, a glossary of terms and suggested reading. It seems to be aimed at mature beginners, women over 40 who may be trying cannabis for the first time or returning to cannabis after decades of abstaining. It’s not a forced relatability, but it is predictable. The book touches on topics often found in mainstream women’s publications, like weight loss and beauty, but brushes over less glamorous topics, like cannabis for menstruation or menopausal symptoms, and it doesn’t mention pregnancy at all.

The book also contains some cliched language — for example, the passing mention of a “ladies cannabis clubhouse door” being open to men or the anecdote about a grandmother who had smoked for the first time many, many years ago in her sorority house. Even the subtitle promises to offer insight into how to “get high like a lady” — but what, exactly, does that even mean? I know plenty of women who smoke tough, others who can dab dudes under the table and some who eat 100 mg of THC for breakfast. Cutesy phrases of that nature, peppered throughout the book, can come off as pushing too hard to make cannabis relatable to a one-dimensional idea of women.

Though a millennial woman could find the extensive cannabis information useful, she’d probably realize this book might not be for her after noticing mentions of osteoporosis, AARP or advice on avoiding dispensaries aimed at twenty-somethings. It’s clear, though, that Furrer has nothing but the best intentions for her audience. This is definitely a niche read that could be useful for a novice enthusiast, as well as a budding beginner with more skepticism that curiosity. “A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis” would be a good gift for your mom, an older co-worker or even your grandmother who appreciates, enjoys and finds value in female-centric guides to otherwise general topics.

Book Review: ‘A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis’ was posted on Cannabis Now.

Book Review: ‘The Art of Weed Butter’

Book Review: ‘The Art of Weed Butter’

Original Post: Cannabis Now: Book Review: ‘The Art of Weed Butter’

[Editor’s Note: This cookbook by Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey has some wonderful recipes with flair. Read the review to find out more.]
The honest truth is that most cannabis cookbooks follow the same form and format. The first few chapters are usually spent illuminating the basics of cannabis, from dosage, decarboxyation and terpenes to tips for picking and pairing strains with recipes. What makes each of these culinary efforts distinct is the personality the author is able to infuse into their work.

So for anyone already familiar with Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey, it absolutely makes sense that her book, “The Art of Weed Butter,” emphasizes the art of infusion in a way that demonstrates her love and appreciation for “her first boyfriend” — aka weed. And those hearing about her for the first time will be delighted to learn about the creative and enchanting force she calls a “cosmic hybrid” of her favorite things: cuisine, cannabis and words.

Though she’s not a chef, Aggrey has been involved in the cannabis industry for over a decade. It’s clear she has a deep appreciation not only for the power of food to nourish and heal, but also for how it can bridge connections between people and across cultures. “The Art of Weed Butter” has eight chapters and offers a selection of 35 infused recipes, and also provides infusion instructions. Readers can learn how to infuse alcohol, lecithin, bacon grease (can you say genius?) and ghee.
The Art Of Weed Butter
Like most cooks, Aggrey’s personal life heavily influences what she likes to make. As a resident of Mexico City with West African heritage, many of the recipes she includes reflect a clear connection between her roots and her chosen home: fried plantains, Philly jalapeño crema, esquites (Mexican street corn) and her mother’s signature West African fried chicken all grace the pages of this cookbook. But her book has a little something for everyone — including vegans.

In the best way possible, this cookbook is a good choice for people who are not necessarily interested in a culinary challenge. It’s down to earth, informative and relatable. Aggrey does an excellent job of writing in a way that flows like conversation. Sometimes, in the pursuit of so-called elevation, some cookbooks toe the line when it comes to alienating the average, casual at-home cook who just wants to put some weed in the types of food they already eat. Aggrey’s recipes effortlessly cover some much-needed basics like infused tomato sauce, balsamic vinaigrette, cheesy flatbread pizza and even avocado toast.

The work itself is alignment with her passion for inclusivity in the cannabis industry, where so few black women break through into leadership roles. It’s imperative that more voices are added into the cannabis conversation, so the fact that this book is written by a black woman and features images of her brown hands making magic in the kitchen with cannabis is more important than many people may realize. She joins the ranks of other black women, like Andrea Drummer and Cedella Marley, who have also created their own collection of recipes infused with cannabis.

This is a good cookbook for anyone looking for a thoughtful, unintimidating guide to infusion with recipes for foods you’re already making and want to figure out how to infuse. It’s substantial while still being a light read, and it manages to be interesting and entertaining thanks to Aggrey’s cool, calm and collected writing style. If you’re wondering if you need yet another cookbook with a cannabis tilt, the answer could easily be no. But if you’re in the mood for something familiar with a little bit of flair, this collection is definitely worth checking out.

Book Review: ‘The Art of Weed Butter’ was posted on Cannabis Now.

Cannabis & Memory: The Evidence Behind Marijuana’s Impact on Forgetfulness

Cannabis & Memory: The Evidence Behind Marijuana’s Impact on Forgetfulness

Original Post: Cannabis Now: Cannabis & Memory: The Evidence Behind Marijuana’s Impact on Forgetfulness

[Editor’s Note: More cannabis research is being completed and the reports are starting to come in. Will research debunk common stoner myths? Or support them?]

Is there any conclusive data about whether marijuana really makes you forgetful, or is that just another pop culture construct?

Though the idea of the dumb, unproductive stoner is still steadily phasing itself out of the cannabis conversation, unfortunately, there is still a lot of conflicting information when it comes to cannabis and memory.

The average person with a working knowledge of how weed works is often led to believe that consuming it can lower your IQ and deplete your memory, regardless of how much or how often you partake. But there is evidence that shows that there is much more to consider, including the strain of weed you’re smoking, whether or not it’s THC– or CBD-dominant and the amount of time you have been consistently smoking — and that’s just for starters.

It’s also important to consider that there are different kinds of memory. For the purpose of research, most studies focus on short-term memory (also known as working memory) and long-term memory, which includes implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious) memory. THC, the most well-known cannabinoid in cannabis, is what can have an impact on both long-term and short-term memory.


Most studies, like this one from JAMA Internal Medicine, offer research confirming that “long-term heavy cannabis users show impairments in memory and attention that endure beyond the period of intoxication and worsen with increasing years of regular cannabis use.” But there are others, like this one from a medical journal called the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, that suggest that “acute exposure” to cannabis can actually help enhance working memory performance.

In another study published in a journal called Addict Biology, researchers examined the relationship between memory function and cannabis consumption and found that “that sustained moderate to heavy levels of cannabis… do not change working-memory network functionality.”

Conversely, CBD has been shown to be a neuroprotectant that has the potential to prevent the onset of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, illnesses have forgetfulness and a decline in memory as a common symptom.

In fact, a recent study found that “CBD was able to reverse the deficits in both objection recognition memory as well as social recognition memory without impacting the body’s anxiety parameters.” The research also showed that CBD could reduce cognitive deficits.

In Conclusion? It’s Inconclusive

If it all seems like a confusing jumble of contrary data to you, you’re not alone. The truth is that there is still a lot of research that needs to be conducted in order to paint a clear and distinct picture of how cannabis truly affects memory.

In most studies, participants (including the rats) are not even allowed to smoke cannabis. Instead, they consume concentrated or even synthetic versions of THC — which absolutely affects the outcome. Because cannabis is still federally illegal, researchers are continuously facing hurdles that prevent them from having access to cannabis for testing and studies that would help provide a wider picture.

So, what’s the verdict? For now, it seems clear that there is a link between cannabis and memory, though there are various factors to take into consideration, including method of consumption. Is there a difference when it’s smoked (inhaled) versus when it’s eaten (ingested) or absorbed as when using tinctures or transdermal patches? No one knows yet.

But, if you start to notice a change or decline in your memory that you suspect is related to cannabis, there’s good news. Some research shows that just one month of abstaining from cannabis — a move that’s sometimes referred to as a “tolerance break” — can have a noticeable improvement on memory function. If you’re concerned or want to see if there’s a difference, try taking a break for a few weeks and observe yourself to see if there are any changes.

Cannabis & Memory: The Evidence Behind Marijuana’s Impact on Forgetfulness was posted on Cannabis Now.

How the NOVA Decarboxylator Fights Against Lost THC

How the NOVA Decarboxylator Fights Against Lost THC

Original Post: Cannabis Now: How the NOVA Decarboxylator Fights Against Lost THC

[Ed. Note: The NOVA Decarboxylator is designed to precisely regulate the heating process, maximizing the best parts of THC for a better infused edible.]  

Many people may think that they have mastered the art of cannabis infusion at home on the stove thanks to their go-to butter recipe that never disappoints, but they may be skipping a very critical step that could take their infusions to the next level and also save them a lot of wasted cannabis. Attorney, entrepreneur and inventor Shanel Lindsay used to be in the same boat before she decided to go get her homemade infusion tested and realized that she was burning away most of the healing cannabinoids she wanted to utilize to treat an ovarian cyst she discovered more than a decade ago.

That discovery led her down a path of rigorous research and experimentation that gave her a deeper understanding and appreciation for the scientific necessity of decarboxylation, but also left her without any options to successfully execute the delicate process without losing therapeutic compounds. She found it impossible to get a precise temperature profile with kitchen appliances typically used to decarb cannabis like conventional ovens, toaster ovens and crockpots.

Frustrated, she founded the Boston-based biotech company Ardent and created a device called NOVA, which decarboxylates the THC in cannabis with lab-grade precision to make it bioavailable to your body without any loss of potency.

The process of decarboxylation is a chemical reaction where heat causes inactive compounds to break down into active cannabinoids that can bind your cell receptors in your endocannabinoid system and produce a high. For example, through decarboxylation, inactive compounds like THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) are converted into THC and CBD.

But if decarboxylation is done without precision, then cannabinoids can be burned off as waste or fail to completely convert. Plus, if THC is pushed too far, then it converts to the cannabinoid CBN.

“When the average person is making cannabis-infused butter or oil, there’s a lot of compound loss there,” Lindsay explains. “They are often using much more cannabis than necessary. Smoking cannabis produces an even higher loss. You lose about 90 percent of the available THC in a strain when you smoke it.”

With the NOVA, Lindsay wanted to introduce a new way of thinking about and approaching cannabis that allows users to get from point A to point B — from raw plant to final product — as efficiently as possible without any damage to compounds or terpenes. The airtight NOVA device can hold up to 14 grams of cannabis or 3-5 ounces of kief at one time. Inside the odor-proof container, a heating arc heats up the cannabis to the lowest temperature possible for decarboxylation — in order to preserve terpenes — and then through a precise heating cycle, with a cool-down.

“You can take your material, whether that’s flower or kief or concentrate, put it in the device and press the button. It takes about an hour and 45 minutes to complete the process and that’s literally it,” she explains. “It will look essentially the same as when you put it in, but it will now be activated without any loss. At that point, you could use it to make other products, but it’s not necessary to do anything with it. You could just eat it if you wanted and sprinkle it onto food like a seasoning.”

Lindsay adds that many people think decarbed cannabis must be infused in heated butter or oil, but it can also be mixed with topical products like lotion, unique foods like barbeque sauce or other medicated products. “I often suggest just mixing the activated material with coconut oil because oil can help with absorption in the body,” she says.

One of Lindsay’s main objectives behind creating the NOVA is to empower people by giving them the tools and the confidence to heal themselves by making it easy to start incorporating cannabis into their own life in a way that’s natural and makes sense. She plans for Ardent to start selling vehicles that people can use once they’ve activated their chosen material.

“Soon, we’ll be having things like edible kits and capsules that are full of vitamins on one side and space the other side for the decarbed cannabis to be inserted,” she says. “You don’t have to do anything special to the activated material, but we want to be able to provide options for people who might not know that there are other ways they can utilize their cannabis that may not know yet.”

Her focus, though, is on providing a device that gives users the ability to consistently create medicine that retains 100 percent of the available THC each and every time.

“Accuracy is important to me,” she says. “The technology the NOVA has is backed by science and clinical data. But, at the end of the day, I made this for consumers like me who need reliability and really only care if it gets the job done. I want people to be able to have the opportunity to take their healing into their own hands with ease.”

How the NOVA Decarboxylator Fights Against Lost THC was posted on Cannabis Now.

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