[Editor’s Note: Israel leads the world in cannabis research. Their research in cannabis and autism are no exception.]
A recent study conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center has concluded that medical cannabis can be a safe and significant treatment option for many symptoms of autism spectrum disorders in patients ages 18 and under. These symptoms include seizures, tics, depression, restlessness and even “rage attacks.”
In fact, the study, which monitored just under 200 Israelis under the age of 18, revealed remarkable information even Alex Berenson might have trouble disputing: Over 80 percent of the participants who were treated for six months showed either significant or moderate improvement, according to Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider of the BGU-Soroka Clinical Cannabis Research Institute. Less than 10 percent of participants experienced no noticeable effect from cannabis. And how many reported negative effects? A big ol’ zero.
A Legacy of Medical Research
Israel has a far more substantial history of cannabis research than the United States. In 1964, Israeli doctor Ralphael Mechoulam and his team of researchers changed the course of cannabis history by identifying the THC molecule, and the country has paved the way for cannabis research ever since.
Their progress hasn’t slowed; In 2014, for instance, Israel officially sanctioned medical cannabis to treat pediatric epilepsy. There are currently over 35,000 patients approved for medical cannabis use in Israel, and nearly half receive cannabis through the preeminent organization Tikkun Olam.
Yet when it comes to autism, the researchers from BGU and Soroka University recognized that “there is a significant lack of knowledge regarding the safety profile and the specific symptoms that are most likely to improve under cannabis treatment.”
Autism was of particular concern to the Israeli team because recent reports have shown a significant increase in autism rates in the past three decades; according to the Center for Disease Control, in the United States, roughly one in every 68 children in the U.S. has autism, (though other sources have suggested that this data primarily reflects changing criteria for defining the condition.)
An Array of Relief
To complete their study, 188 participants — with an average age of 13 years, and 14 patients under the age of 5 — were given three daily doses of a CBD oil that contained trace amounts of THC. Beyond the general improvement statistics, mentioned above, other observations were equally compelling; As the team wrote, “behavioural outbreaks were improved in 61 percent of patients, communication problems in 47 percent, anxiety in 39 percent, stress in 33 percent and disruptive behaviour in 33 percent of the patients.”
This data also translated to other positive and concrete changes in the participants’ quality of life. For instance, before starting treatment, 42 percent of parents said their children generally displayed a positive mood; after six months of treatment, that number rose to 63.5 percent. Participants’ ability to dress and bathe themselves independently also improved, from 26.4 percent to 43 percent. Additionally, parents who described their children as sleeping well rose from 3 percent to nearly 25 percent. Most impressively, at the beginning of the study none of the parents reported that their children were able to concentrate; after the six-month study that number rose to 14 percent.
The CBD treatment also resulted in over a third of the patients lowering their intake of antipsychotics, antidepressants, sedatives and more.
The researchers made no attempts to cover up the side effects of the treatment, but those effects, which appeared only in a handful of several participants — sleepiness, not liking the taste and smell of the oil, restlessness, reflux and lack of appetite — seem almost laughably benign, especially in the face of such a resounding success.
Hopefully this study will serve to move cannabis research forward, both in Israel and across the world; it is only the tip of the iceberg.
TELL US, what other medical cannabis research would you like to see conducted?
Israeli Study Links Medical Cannabis to Symptom Relief for Children with Autism was posted on Cannabis Now.
[Editor’s Note: Cannabis as installation art at MOMA sparks a discussion on diversity and advocacy within the cannabis industry.]
Earlier this month, a trendy crowd squeezed into a makeshift gallery at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), to see cannabis make its debut on the modern art stage. The timing of the event couldn’t have been more apt, as New York legislators are currently crafting a bill that would legalize an adult-use market in the state.
The artistic appreciation of cannabis is grounded, for some, in the Japanese art of flower arranging known as Ikebana.
At MOMA’s PS1 satellite in Queens, there was little political talk. Instead, real-live hemp plants—courtesy of the upstate New York farm Hudson Hemp—with the addition of various flowers, ferns and fruits, had been arranged into a series of vibrant, living sculptures.
As they arrived at the event, called “Hothouse,” visitors crowded around the half-dozen pieces, each displayed on a white pedestal, and snapped photos. While the arrangements were sensational, even glamorous, the event also worked to normalize cannabis and frame the plant in a refreshing, aesthetic context.
‘Hothouse’: Cannabis Plants as Art
The display was accompanied by a panel discussion, featuring five acclaimed cannabis advocates: Anja Charbonneau, the Editor in Chief and Creative Director of Broccoli magazine (who will be on the Leafly podcast “The Hash” on Feb. 17); the floral arranger and writer Amy Merrick, who crafted the pieces on display; Alice Grandoit, a designer and cannabis grower; and Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey, a cannabis grower and author of The Art of Weed Butter.The event was moderated by Georgia Frances King, Ideas Editor at Quartz.
As they arrived at the event, called ‘Hothouse,’ visitors crowded around the half-dozen pieces, each displayed on a white pedestal, and snapped photos.
The panelists shared a love of plants, but their perspectives and experiences differed. The conversation focused less on cannabis’ effects than its beauty, and the lessons learned from a lifetime of plant tending.
Merrick and Grandoit mentioned that appreciation of cannabis is grounded in the Japanese art of flower arranging known as Ikebana—a tradition that dates back to the 7th Century. Merrick studied Ikebana in Japan where, she said, “it’s this super macho thing over there.”
I Call This One Consuela
Grandoit told the crowd she treats her plants like children, giving them names and playing them music. When King asked her to name the nearest floral arrangements, she settled on “Consuela,” with a giggle.
“They’re so delicate,” Aggrey observed of cannabis plants. “It’s so important to see them bloom and turn into big girls.”
Cannabis Reveals You to You
Aggrey, who lives in Mexico City, also pointed out that beautiful plants can serve more practical purposes as well. In Mexico as in the United States, flowers play a part in funereal rites. The gorgeous displays behind her hinted at an unspoken question: Why not incorporate cannabis plants as well?
Later, Charbonneau, who collaborated with Merrick on a photo collection of similar arrangements in Broccoli’s inaugural issue, addressed cannabis on a more existential level.
“It has a way of showing you things about yourself,” she said, as the standing-room-only crowd nodded. “The more you know, the less you know.”
It’s. A. Plant.
For John Gilstrap, the co-founder and vice president of Hudson Hemp, “Hothouse” served to “mitigate some of the stigma around the plant.”
“Seeing it intermingle with other flowers we all know—like birds of paradise, and fruits and vegetables—shows that it’s natural, like all these other plants.” Remarking on the crowd, he added: “[An event like this] brings people out of the shadows.”
When it came time for the audience to ask questions, many focused on notions of diversity and advocacy in the industry.
“Corporate responsibility is trendy [right now],” Charbonneau told the crowd. “Everyone’s trying to be good. Everyone’s super engaged,” she said. “There’s power in community.”
As “Hothouse” demonstrated with exuberance and style, that community is already alive and thriving in New York City.
Original Post: Leafly: Cannabis Makes Its Modern Art Debut in New York City
[Editor’s Note: Terpenes are the least understood compounds in cannabis. Here’s a good article highlighting 3 companies that are making headway in terpene profiling.]
While cannabis strains are typically praised for the strength and effects of their cannabinoids, a growing number of connoisseurs and industry pros alike are recognizing that a strain’s terpene profile can be of equal import.
Terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in all plants, give each strain its particular taste and scent. A cannabis plant can contain over 100 different terpenes, and the particular balance of each helps set it apart from its peers. As cannabis moves closer to the mainstream, more consumers are becoming curious about terpene profiles — particularly those of legendary strains like Jack Herer and Pineapple Express. Luckily, a range of products have appeared on the scene to help people get a taste of the OGs.
(Re)making the Magic Happen
Lock & Key Remedies, in the industrial neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is one of these terpene-focused businesses looking at strain recreation. The company, co-founded by industry veterans Oleg Maryasis and Andres Moreira, has developed a series of CBD vape cartridges that try and recreate the terpene profiles of four iconic strains: Girl Scout Cookies, Cherry Pie, Tangie and Blue Dream. When I visited the company’s office on a gray morning this January, it quickly became clear that Lock & Key’s vision is rooted in a love both for precise science and cannabis itself.
The company’s name, for instance, refers to the way compounds interlock with each other on a cellular level. And Lock & Key uses pre-existing lab reports of various strain profiles as launching-off points for developing their own CBD alternatives. Moreira, who heads the company’s on-site lab, went through a dozen trials of each formulation before sending them to market.
Maryasis was eager to explain terpenes’ myriad health benefits to me, which he did in a manner that recalled a mad scientist and a gourmand chef in equal measure. The terpene myrcene, for instance, has a sedative effect, he says. Furthermore, Maryasis told me, “it has the superpower of helping the blood brain barrier, which magnifies all other terpenes’ access to the brain.” Limonene, which features more prominently in the Tangie strain, has a more citrusy taste. But too much, Maryasis cautioned, “wouldn’t be pleasant, even if you like citrus.”
He pointed out that even trace amounts of various terpenes can have an outsized influence on a plant’s aroma. “The synergistic effects cannot be overstated,” he said, citing sweet orange and grapefruit as an example: “[Their terpene profiles are roughly only 3 percent different], but it changes everything about them.”
Twisting Terps Into Innovation
Other terpene-minded businesses have taken a different approach: Blue River Terpenes, in Oakland, California, for instance, borrowed inspiration from the fragrance industry to develop a line of cannabinoid-free versions of some top-shelf strains including Cookies and Wakanda Grapes (and sells them at top-shelf prices) that can be applied to the skin or even added to food. The company’s CEO Tony Verzura developed a modified vapor vacuum distillation system that, as Leafly pointed out, is capable of extracting terpenes “by using only nitrogen, oxygen, and reverse osmosis (or RO) water.”
Finding the middle ground between these two companies, the Colorado-based company Evolab adds “FreshTerps” extracts to their various products in various proportions. Their tagline reads: “Sommeliers have wine collections. Cannabis connoisseurs have FreshTerps.”
The key behind all of these products is the balance of the various terpenes; Maryasis referred to it as their “special sauce,” and was reluctant to divulge even the most general information about their specific ratios. Yet their tight-lipped approach reinforces the innovative nature of terpene science, which will only become more exciting as the industry marches forward.
While Lock & Key Remedies uses plant-derived terpenes and Blue River Terpenes uses cannabis-derived terpenes, other companies are also concocting strain profiles using synthetic terpenes. The science is still early on the medical effects of smoking terpenes, but as with most cannabis products, it’s best to know where the compounds you’re consuming come from.
The Art of Terpene Recreation: Replicating Cannabis Strain Profiles was posted on Cannabis Now.
[Editor’s Note: Green Flower has an ever-growing selection of cannabis videos, across a wide range of topics. You do have to sign up to view them though.]
These informative videos bring a wide lens to the cannabis industry.
As the cannabis industry continues its trajectory towards mainstream American culture, so does the ever-growing world of cannabis media.
Aside from the increased attention to cannabis from major networks like NBC and CNN (where the famed Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been singing the plant’s praises from the rooftops), YouTube also overflows with an abundance of growers, industry pros and consumers alike, all eager to shine light on cannabis (and naturally, themselves). However, in the face of YouTube’s ongoing censorship of cannabis accounts, more marijuana-friendly alternatives to the mega-popular video platform could be necessary to spread the message about the plant.
Into the mix comes Green Flower Media, a Ventura, California-based company that offers free videos — as well as a “premium” option for a little under 50 bucks a month — that explore a wide variety of cannabis topics. Many of the videos are quite informative, providing useful tips for growers and consumers alike, but the company still has room to grow — much of Green Flower’s content could be improved by an increase in production quality and a further emphasis on highlighting diverse voices in the cannabis community.
Green Flower has the opportunity to present the conversation around cannabis on highly professional terms; after all, they describe themselves as “the #1 space for honest and reliable cannabis information.” While the videos sometimes appear out of touch with the real concerns and interests of those in the cannabis community at large, the presentations do include the perspectives of many of the most influential people in the industry and show cannabis in a non-threatening light that will certainly appeal to novice consumers.
Green Flower was founded by Max Simon, a longtime cannabis consumer himself with a background in business development. He has assembled a team full of pros, including Mike Seashols, a former vice president at Oracle, and Will Petruski, who previously oversaw sales at the influential cannabis investment company, the Arcview Group.
Simon has filled his company’s videos with an impressive collection of hosts and on-air interview subjects, including the well-regarded breeder and educator Kyle Kushman, veteran grower Derek Gilman and Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo. These savvy industry experts naturally have a lot to say, and Green Flower churns out a ton of content to fit their voices, which results in hundreds of hours of videos.
The videos are divided up into several categories, including “Grow Guidance,” “Cannabis 101” and “Lifestyle,” and they run a wide gamut, from a sit-down interview series called “High Rollers” to canna-cooking demos, and from short-form documentaries to half-hour talking-head pieces.
Simon couldn’t point to a particular outlet or style of filmmaking that Green Flower has taken inspiration from, but instead, explained that “we’ve been forging our own pathway, based on the complicated nature of cannabis.”
While Green Flower’s content could benefit from a representation of the diverse voices in the cannabis industry, Simon expressed that finding “credible experts, notable figures who are willing to be on camera” has been difficult for the company.
Green Flower’s strongest videos take deep dives into the nitty-gritty of growing cannabis and the plant’s myriad of effects and health benefits. Take one clip about spider mites, a common pest for cannabis plants. Host Kyra Rude, an “Integrated Pest Management Expert,” offers constructive suggestions on how to keep them away. Her first tip: plant beans around your cannabis as a “sacrificial plant” that attracts the mites.
In another video, in-house producer Mandee Lee explains the pros and cons of juicing cannabis in helpful and concise terms at Green Flower’s studio. (Also of note: Green Flower’s blog, featuring posts like “How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System” and “How to Become a Cannabis Industry Accountant,” contains similarly constructive information.)
Things get less compelling when the videos shy away from this informational angle. A 15- minute-long documentary centered around the legendary Mendocino grower Swami Chaitanya’s 75th birthday adopts a VICE-like cinema verité style that works well with its casual tone, but it treats Chaitanya’s partner Nikki Lastreto like a ghost who just happens to be in every other shot. Another film promises to dish up the “Untold Story” on the iconic activist and businessman Steve DeAngelo, but spends a lot of time showing him walking in the woods.
The videos which could use the most improvement are found in Green Flower’s “On Cannabis” series. By focusing on more than thin white people doing yoga on the beach, taking a bath or running in the woods after hitting a vaporizer as mid-tempo electronic music plays, the mission to encourage consumers to enhance normal activities could come across as more applicable rather than cartoonish. Green Flower’s content in this series could be further enhanced by including a wider range of racial diversity and lifestyle choices that cannabis consumers (and other cannabis content mainstays like VICE, for instance) regularly embrace.
Ultimately, Green Flower is clearly committed to cannabis education and de-stigmatization. As Simon pointed out, Green Flower contains a growing database of information — as well as a free e-book — for folks interested in finding jobs in the cannabis industry. Their videos also contain an abundance of helpful information, though you just might have to be willing to dig a little to find what you’re looking for.
Green Flower Media’s Cannabis Education Videos Have Room To Grow was posted on Cannabis Now.