Original Post: Cannabis Now: Trichomes Are the Key to Most Potent Cannabis Flowers
[Canniseur: It’s in the trichomes. The balance between THC, terpenes and other compounds in the trichomes is just being discovered. Trichomes are where all the good stuff in cannabis is made. This doesn’t necessarily mean that frostier buds are better. Frosty buds means there are a lot of trichomes. And not all are created equal. The frosty look to our favorite buds are finally being researched for what they are and science is discovering they’re not all created equal.]
For the diehard cannabis connoisseur, one whose only mission in life is the quest for the eternal buzz, tracking down that one marijuana strain that really kicks them in the boo-boo can be tough. It means visiting one dispensary after another, where, often, none of the staff ever seems willing to break out the secret stash from the back. And we know they’ve got one! So there is a lot of trial and error in this process. And this search for perpetual highness can also dwindle away at the old bank account, too, which really sucks, because it can be difficult to hold down a steady job when one’s life’s work consists of only hunting down the strongest marijuana in the land.
If only there were a way to determine the potency of a plant without having to dedicate so much time, money and lung power to the cause.
Well, it turns out there are some old school physical properties of a cannabis plant that are meant to tell us just how mighty the marijuana is before we ever put in our pipes and smoke it. A recent study published in the Plant Journal finds that the frostier the buds, the more likely it is for the pot to pack a punch.
These crystalized hairs (trichomes) that have been held in high regard for decades by marijuana aficionados are what produces the chemicals that give the plant all of its psychoactive and medical properties, the study, which was conducted by the University of British Columbia, has confirmed.
This means that the more tiny, mushroom-shaped fibers on the cannabis flower, the more cannabinoids are present. These frosty attributes, which are a defense mechanism to protect the cannabis plant from UV rays and animals, also give the plant its pungent aroma, the study finds. In other words, cultivators that are hellbent on producing the best, stickiest, stinkiest cannabis known to mankind are going to need to be well-versed in manufacturing plants that are abundant in trichomes.
“Despite its high economic value, our understanding of the biology of the cannabis plant is still in its infancy due to restricted legal access,” Teagen Quilichini, one of the study authors and postdoctoral fellow at UBC Botany told Science Daily. “Trichomes are the biochemical factories of the cannabis plant and this study is the foundation for understanding how they make and store their valuable products.”
For years, cannabis experts have focused on three trichomes: bulbous, sessile and stalked. Although science has had a pretty solid grip on the function of these components for a long time, little has been known, up until now, about their involvement in shaping the potential of this magnificent plant.
To come up with the latest findings, researchers used chemical profiling and microscopic techniques to get to the bottom of internal structures and individual trichomes. What they found was that all three emitted different colors when put to the test under ultraviolet light.
“We saw that stalked glandular trichomes have expanded ‘cellular factories’ to make more cannabinoids and fragrant terpenes,” said Sam Livingston, lead author and Ph.D. candidate at UBC Botany. “We also found that they grow from sessile-like precursors and undergo a dramatic shift during development that can be visualized using new microscopy tools.”
As the study points out, this ultraviolet testing method could be used in the cultivation process to monitor trichome maturity and ensure that harvests are made at the appropriate times.
Researchers also said that additional discoveries involving trichome DNA could revolutionize cannabis production.
“We found a treasure trove of genes that support the production of cannabinoids and terpenes,” said principal investigator Anne Lacey Samuels, a professor of botany at UBC. “With further investigation, this could be used to produce desirable traits like more productive marijuana strains or strains with specific cannabinoid and terpene profiles using molecular genetics and conventional breeding techniques.”
In the end, more details about how trichomes work will only serve to create better pot products for the consumer, the researchers said.
Trichomes Are the Key to Most Potent Cannabis Flowers was posted on Cannabis Now.
Original Post: Cannabis Now: Teen Marijuana Use Down, Adult Use Up
[Canniseur: This is not surprising in the least. When a “prohibited” product is made legal, the mystery is removed and there’s not as much incentive for teens to try to find the forbidden product. And adults are allowed to consume this newly legal product. They may have heard about cannabis and want to find out what all the fuss is about. As usual, Mike Adams nails it.]
Everyone in the United States is stoned. If that sounds like a bit of an exaggeration, we’re not going to lie, it sort of is. But it is not far-fetched to suggest that there could come a day when most of the population has settled into the cannabis scene in the same way it has done with alcohol over the past several decades. There is now, in fact, evidence that more of the nation is headed in the direction of the doobie. Uncle Sam and his band of white coat goons, which makes it part of the federal government’s keeping track of the country to gauge drug use in America every single year, has just announced the results of its latest glimpse into our feel-good affairs. It seems that long gone are the days when pot was just something done by longhairs driving around in Monte Carlos listening to Rush’s “Moving Pictures” album at full blast.
“Today’s Tom Sawyer he gets high on you…”
The cannabis plant has since crossed the imaginary line that separates the dregs of society from the cool kids, and now it is showing up in more households than ever before. But for those worried that weed is going to turn the future generations into a red-eyed legion of go-nowhere losers, never fear. It appears that only adults are finding comfort in the herb these days. Kids are apparently looking for something new to get into, and it apparently has less to do with intoxicating substances.
The latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is conducted under the guidance of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), finds that marijuana use is rapidly increasing all across the United States. The data shows there has been a 35% uptick in pot consumption over the past 15 years. And it is those who reside in legal marijuana states in the western part of the nation that are getting the highest. Colorado, Oregon and Washington, all of which have legalized for recreational use, smoke more weed than any other state in the country. The District of Columbia, however, also showed an impressive level of pot consumption, even though a Congressional rider prevents this area from having a retail market.
Other states are going to need to get their act together if they want to be lumped in with the highest states in the nation come next year. Utah, we’re talking to you specifically. The Beehive State had the lowest cannabis consumption levels in the nation. It has experienced only a 2% increase since 2002. We’re going out on a limb here and saying that you guys aren’t even trying. Yet, it actually comes as no surprise that Utah is the most sober sector in the land, considering that what isn’t made of rock is influenced by the Mormons. We learned last year that they’re no friend of weed.
But who are the people smoking all of this weed?
Well, it is not who you might expect. It is those Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 that are getting high the most, the survey finds. The next age group where marijuana use is becoming more prevalent is those 26 and older. This is the first time in history that this demographic has surpassed teenagers in their pot-smoking endeavors. But that’s because marijuana consumption among the youngsters in this country appears to be in decline. While the rates of adult marijuana use have double nationwide, teenaged consumption rates have dropped off by around 25%. Alcohol is still the leading drug of choice among teens, but they are even drinking less, similar studies have shown. They have presumably watched the members of their family mess up their lives through substance abuse and now have an aversion to that lifestyle.
Regardless of how it came about, this is the “Ah-ha” moment the cannabis community has been waiting for — the one where it finally gets to throw it in the faces of local, state and more importantly federal lawmakers that, despite all of the concerns about more teens using weed on the heels of legalization, establishing a legitimate pot market doesn’t equate an increase in minor consumption.
“Regulation and education is a more effective and a more preferable tool to discourage youth use and access than is criminalization,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a statement. “A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults but restricts its use among young people — coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about cannabis’ potential harms — best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or abuse. By contrast, advocating for the marijuana’s continued criminalization only compounds them.”
The reasons that adult marijuana use continues to spread is not supernatural. The population has learned that pot isn’t necessarily the great destructor that it has been purported to be all of these years. More folks have learned that weed is not going to lead them down a rabbit hole to addiction, while others have found its therapeutic benefits more appealing then pharmaceutical drugs.
Others, well, they have discovered that all of the stuff they enjoy in life is just more interesting and, above all, more enjoyable with a buzz. To most users, it doesn’t matter if the cannabis plant or any of its trendy derivatives will eventually save the world, they are content with it at face value.
The truth is Americans are moving toward a day when marijuana is just a normal part of life. We are now in the final stretch of a shift in public opinion that will almost certainly force federal lawmakers to make changes to the law in the foreseeable future. Some of the latest Gallup polls consistently show that a vast majority of the population (62-65%) support the legalization of marijuana like alcohol and tobacco. Congress, which mostly continues to ignore the issue, will have no choice soon but to offer a response. We expect these power moves to spark a tremendous amount of debate of this popular issue following the 2020 election.
Teen Marijuana Use Down, Adult Use Up was posted on Cannabis Now.
Original Post: Cannabis Now: Netflix Proves That Marijuana Has Gone Mainstream
[Canniseur: I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept of cannabis as a mainstream ‘thing’ in the U.S. There are a lot of reasons that it might seem like cannabis is mainstream, but somehow it’s not. There’s still a stigma associated with cannabis and there’s still some social push against cannabis. However, Mr. Adams makes the point that Netflix is pushing along the social acceptance of cannabis and I couldn’t agree more. Less cigarettes. More weed!]
Anyone searching for definitive evidence that marijuana is going mainstream in the United States should look no further than Netflix. The popular, American streaming service, which produces a variety of original programming, seems to believe that while it is irresponsible to glamorize cigarette smoking in their programming, that doesn’t have much to do with weed. If anything, the company has made it a point as of late to do business with showbiz types that include the use of cannabis products in their storylines as a manner of keeping true to the times.
Indeed, we are now living in a world where depictions of tobacco use in shows and the movies are seen as more problematic than smoking marijuana. It was just last month that Netflix announced that it was planning to limit scenes showing cigarette smoking after research from the Truth Initiative showed the company had tripled these kinds of images from the previous year. The primary culprit responsible for this increase was the company’s mega-hit “Stranger Things,” which showed cigarette use in “100 percent” of its episodes. So, Netflix agreed to pull back on these smoking shots as much as possible. Just enough not to have an influence on the teenaged viewers.
“Netflix strongly supports artistic expression. We also recognize that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people. Going forward, all new projects that we commission with ratings of TV-14 or below for series or PG-13 or below for films, will be smoking and e-cigarette free — except for reasons of historical or factual accuracy,” Netflix told The Hollywood Reporter. “For new projects with higher ratings, there’ll be no smoking or e-cigarettes unless it’s essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it’s character-defining (historically or culturally important).”
Nothing about this decision, however, included the use of marijuana. Netflix, which is owned by Walt Disney, does not appear concerned that shows with portrayals of cannabis consumption are being seen by young viewers. Shows skewed to reach the young adult demographic, including “On My Block” (rated TV-14) and “Always Be My Maybe” (rated PG-13) show extensive pot use throughout.
The decision not to limit marijuana use has some health professionals a little riled up. They believe pot smoking is just of a much a detriment to the younger generation as tobacco.
“Rating a film for 14-year-olds that’s promoting substance abuse — it’s like the peak of risk,” Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco told National Public Radio. “Marijuana is not harmless.”
But there is a cultural significance that comes with marijuana these days that is no longer the case with tobacco. Some of the latest federal data show that cigarette smoking among teens has declined substantially over the past four decades. There is even research to suggest that young adults are less interested in smoking marijuana than they were in the past. In Colorado, for example, teenaged marijuana consumption by way of smoking is down roughly 10%. These youngsters prefer edibles instead. But this doesn’t mean the country is in the midst of a problem stemming from kids using cannabis products. In fact, some of the latest research shows that more teens are using less marijuana since it started going legal. There is no denying, however, that marijuana is a way of life for this demographic. Perhaps this is the reason that streaming services like Netflix have held their ground when it comes to restricting images of pot consumption.
Or perhaps more than that, the company is looking to generate some additional revenue from the burgeoning cannabis trade. As it was pointed out in a recent column from the Washington Post, the only reason cigarette smoking became so prevalent on television back in the day was for the purpose of profit. Tobacco companies used to shell out big bucks on productions so that actors would use their goods on screen. It’s called product placement. It is a situation where if you see someone drinking a Budweiser on a show, the company paid a significant chunk of change to be featured in the scene. So, considering that the cannabis industry is still relatively limited when it comes to advertising, there are concerns that these companies might start financing film and television projects to spread the good word similar to how the tobacco companies once did.
“Netflix ought to be adopting a policy that, you know, is not only based on the bombproof science we have on tobacco,” Glantz said, “but brings common sense into the discussion for these other exposures.”
But just because marijuana use is going mainstream and is now being shown regularly in Hollywood productions doesn’t mean the industry won’t be pressured to change its attitude toward pot in the future. Recently, the National Association of Attorney Generals sent a letter to streaming services demanding policy changes when it comes to their depictions of tobacco use. Lawmakers will likely come out in full force soon to apply some pressure against Hollywood’s relationship with pot. How that will all shake out remains to be seen. History tells us it might get rough. Perhaps if marijuana can find a way to disassociate from smoking, it stands a better shot at surviving on screen in the same fashion that alcohol has enjoyed for decades.
Netflix Proves That Marijuana Has Gone Mainstream was posted on Cannabis Now.
Original Post: Cannabis Now: Should Health-Conscious Consumers Really Smoke Medical Marijuana?
[Canniseur: There are two sides to this issue. Mr. Adams outlines both the pros and cons of consuming cannabis via burning and inhalation. Both arguments are fairly obvious, but it’s nice to see both sides of the issue put together.]
There is a lot of noise these days about medical marijuana and its place concerning wellness. The average American has come to believe that using cannabis, regardless of whether that is whole-plant marijuana or hemp-derived CBD products, may help them ward off all of the despicable diseases put here to destroy us. Some of these people, however, have shown up late to the party, and are just now jumping on board the medicinal cannabis train in hopes that it will keep them above ground.
However, depending on how these people choose to consume this product, they might actually be doing themselves more harm than good. So, we have to ask the question: Should health-conscious consumers really be smoking marijuana to stay healthy or treat disease?
Well, it doesn’t take a degree in aerospace engineering (that’s rocket science) to know that smoking anything is not the healthiest thing to do. The lungs simply do not take kindly to being filled with burnt plant particles. It doesn’t matter if the smoke comes from burning wood, tobacco or marijuana, toxic chemicals and carcinogens can enter the body when it is inhaled. And it’s these toxins that can bring about disease and respiratory issues. Sure, many cannabis advocates argue that marijuana smoke doesn’t pose the same health risk as tobacco, but health experts say that isn’t necessarily true.
“Smoke from marijuana combustion has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke,” according to a report from the American Lung Association.
Regardless of the potential risks involved, smoking is the most common consumption method on the cannabis scene. Even though there are now a variety of presumably safer pot products on the market — edibles, drinks, oils, tinctures — that the medical marijuana community could be using instead. But those products still need more time to catch on. We still live in a society that thinks of cannabis as something that needs to be smoked as opposed to orally consumed like most other drugs. This means it could be a while (we might be talking decades) before we see a drastic shift in the preferred consumption method of the average cannabis user. For now, smoking is here to stay.
But are there any benefits to smoking marijuana, even if the user is trying to manage their overall health?
Most people prefer smoking marijuana to other forms of consumption because the effects are instantaneous. If a person is using cannabis to help them with something like social anxiety, there is no time to mess around — they need to feel calm, and the sooner, the better. So, in situations where the user, for whatever reason, needs or wants to be high right now, smoking is perhaps the best option. And it sure beats going without, that’s for sure. It is also easier for a person to control their buzz through smoking than it is with any other method of consumption. We seldom hear of anyone suffering from a full-blown canna-panic after smoking a joint, bowl or bong. Those types of freak out moments, which are reportedly causing more people than ever to rush to the emergency room, are typically experienced through the use of edibles. The onset time of these products can be an hour or more. And it is easy to overdose (not the deadly kind) when using these products.
Another benefit of smoking weed is the ability to sample a variety of strains at one time. When medical marijuana patients first get involved with a program, it can be difficult at first to find a specific strain that works best for them. Smoking makes it easier for them to find the best possible strain.
Are there any other reasons?
Well, a lot of the old school stoners simply prefer smoking to any other consumption method. These are the people who have been getting ripped up for years, decades even, legal or not, and they’re not about to buy into the neatly packaged corporate cannabis construct. Heck no, these are tokers for life, and most will tell you that they haven’t experienced any health problems yet as a result. This testimony is not scientific by any stretch, but it is what they have chosen to believe.
However, there are plenty of reasons not to smoke marijuana.
For starters, without concrete research to tell us any different, the chemicals produced from burning buds could be damaging to the lungs. There is no real evidence that smoking marijuana increases one’s risk of lung cancer, but there’s not really any that says it doesn’t either. For this reason alone, even if there is only a small chance of it causing lung cancer or any other disease, the health-conscious consumer should avoid smoking. The smell associated with weed smoke is also a concern for some folks.
Instead of smoking, many cannabis experts recommend a microdosing regimen (2-5 mg of THC as needed) using cannabis edibles. The buzz is more of a body high than in the head, but there is no risk of health issues as a result of the smoke — only feel goods. It is also reasonable to suggest that consuming edibles might help a person smoke less marijuana than if they were using the burn method exclusively. Edibles also make it easier and more discreet to get high at work and other places where pot needs to be kept on the downlow. You can’t just fire up a joint in the break room when you need to.
Unless, of course, you have my job.
Should Health-Conscious Consumers Really Smoke Medical Marijuana? was posted on Cannabis Now.
Original Post: Cannabis Now: Medical Marijuana Research in Canada Is Going Nowhere
[Canniseur: Why do governments have to keep their heads so firmly in their nethers that real research cannot get done. Although cannabis is entirely legal in Canada, the national government doesn’t allow unfettered research. I’d say the bureaucrats are just idiots, but really they’re just behaving like bureaucrats do all over the world. I guess they’re all the same no matter what country. The bureaucrats of Canada need to allow researchers to do what they were trained to do. Research and not have to fill out reams of paperwork to get to the place where they can actually do research.]
It was said last year that Canada was poised to become a global leader in the realm of medical marijuana research. It made perfect sense, too, what with the country being one of the first to ultimately end marijuana prohibition nationwide. There would be nothing to stop the barrage of researchers all across the northern nation from rolling up their sleeves to learn more about the therapeutic powers of the cannabis plant.
It was exciting news for those of us living in the United States, especially since the federal government continues to uphold a prohibition standard. The powers that be still refuse to embrace the possibilities of cannabis and will not lighten the nation’s drug policies enough to give science a fighting chance at showing the value in weed. But as long as our friends in Canada were up there, proving to the world that cannabis is medicine, the naysayers of the nug couldn’t stand in the way of progress for much longer.
Well, so much for hope.
Come to find out, Canadian researchers haven’t even started exploring medical marijuana in any real capacity. A report from CTV News indicates that hundreds of research facilities are still too busy trying to cut through the red tape and deal with other complexities of the approval process.
Although cannabis is entirely legal in Canada, scientists there are still required to hold a license before they engage in a single study. Furthermore, the hundreds of research licenses that existed before the country went legal are being forced to transition over to the Cannabis Act. As for newcomers, well, their approval isn’t exactly happening with haste. So far, only around 65 new licenses have been approved since the country’s monumental pot law took effect in October.
Some researchers say the approval process is “so difficult” that many “don’t even try” for a license. Why all of the snags, however, is something most of them cannot wrap their heads around.
While a lot of these folks are eager to get involved in cannabis research to find out how it might benefit patients with dreadful diseases, solve the stoned driving conundrum and other unknowns, the research policies outlined in Canada’s new pot law are designed more for the industry itself.
And that has thrown a bit of a wrench in the idea of science exploring marijuana for the sake of humanity.
Health Canada requires researchers to provide details about physical security measures to prevent unauthorized access; Storage measures “appropriate to the amount of cannabis required;” Record-keeping practices “that ensure the accurate tracking of the inventory, production and destruction of cannabis; and Prevention of diversion or retail sale of research products,” the report shows.
Now, if you’re thinking to yourself: “Hey, this sounds more like some of that B.S. that U.S. researchers are going through instead of a country where cannabis is completely legal,” we would be inclined to agree. One would think that legalization would have automatically created more research opportunities. In fact, last year, Forbes said the country now had a head start in global research and that the “opportunity would be profound.” But they apparently didn’t foresee the current licensing hassles.
So, what gives?
According to Health Canada, “Research licenses are intended to provide a mechanism to authorize otherwise prohibited activities with cannabis for the purpose of research.” OK, sure we get that. We wouldn’t want a bunch of scientists supplementing their incomes by dealing weed on the side, would we? Still, some researchers say they need less than 30 grams (the possession limit for recreational use) for their studies. Their primary gripe is the country continues to keep a tighter leash on cannabis than it does for booze. If both products are legal, what’s with all the bureaucrap?
“We’re doing driving research and we want to use cannabis in the same way we might use alcohol,” Simon Fraser University Ph.D. candidate Bertrand Sager said in an interview with the news source.
Still, Health Canada insists that it is not trying to hinder medical marijuana research. While “there have been challenges in processing times for new research license applications,” the agency said, it “recognizes the importance of cannabis research and is committed to promoting and enabling that research.”
Perhaps another year will make a difference. Just don’t hold your breath for results to come pouring in anytime soon. The research aspect is just another reason why some believe Canada screwed the pooch on legal weed.
The country could have dominated the market, yet it decided instead to put so many restrictions in place that it was sort of finished before it ever got started. Maybe that will change later this year when the country premiers its edible cannabis sector. But we have a sneaking suspicion that this part of the market isn’t going to end up being the boost that many hope it will be.
Medical Marijuana Research in Canada Is Going Nowhere was posted on Cannabis Now.