Mass Media Casts Shadow on Medical Marijuana Industry

Despite being legal in 22 states, the medical marijuana issue continues to draw debate in the form of television shows and documentaries. With such controversy at its heart, it’s no wonder this medicinal substance used to treat pain in cancer and other patients invokes such heated commentary on screen. From shows like Weed Country to documentaries like Code of the West, the goal is to educate and inform, but also take sides on an issue that just can’t find a common ground.

The “Reality” of Reality ShowsMedical Marijuana Industry

Hopping on the band wagon of reality shows, series like Weed Wars have cropped up over the last few years to open up a window on the life of those involved in the medical marijuana lifestyle and business. While enlightening in some respects, these shows do little to open up the minds of mainstream America to the healing properties marijuana delivers to people in chronic pain.

Many of these shows came on the air right around the time federal prosecutors started to turn the screws on medical marijuana shop owners, citing their state-licensed dispensaries regulated by local government agencies, according the the Huffington Post. What typically ends up happening is the shows cast a bad light on the medical marijuana industry as a whole, yet choose to focus on sensationalizing the police, growers and distributors rather than hit on the true issue. This increased scrutiny in the public eye has its advantages, though, bringing to light an issue that was only whispered in certain circles before. Like homosexuality, meth labs, child abuse and rape before it, TV shows are the new breeding ground to expose the giant underbelly of what’s really going on in society.

Ditching the Stigmas

Serving to curb the stigmas, misconceptions and stereotypes about medical marijuana, Weed Wars and others are gaining popularity among a TV viewership eager to see this issue come to the forefront. That being said, like any reality show, drama is injected to give the viewers what they want: over the top views of the medical marijuana industry as seen from those really living it. Good or bad, shows like Weed Country aim to shatter the stigma associated with medical cannabis.

Unfortunately, with the focus on the “reality” TV stars within these shows, the negative connotations are still ever-present. Even with exploratory and information documentaries, the industry continues to seek the respect it deserves. Still, these documentaries work to capture the human stories behind the law-making processes of state-level marijuana reform through intelligent indie films like Code of the West and weak attempts at comedy with Super High Me, which chronicles a man’s physical and mental journey smoking marijuana for 30 days straight.

Despite its legality in more than 20 states, medical marijuana still captures a cult following as opposed to its more socially acceptable and legal cousin, alcohol. With more TV shows on the horizon highlighting the use and cultivation of medical marijuana, this calming substance has many more hurdles ahead of it in a desperate attempt to defend itself.

How To Prevent and Manage Bug Infestation for Indoor Gardens

bugs on cannabis leaf, medical cannabisWhen you invest a lot of time and money into growing your indoor marijuana crop, the last thing you want is for bug infestation to destroy it all. There are steps you can take to prevent bugs from invading your marijuana, through the use of both chemical and organic products, tools and systems.

Types of Bug Infestations

There are more than 250 insects associated with cannabis and that can cause a real problem for the health of your plants, according to Medical Marijuana. Common culprits include spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, hemp borers, budworms, cutworms, armyworms, leaf-eating caterpillars, thrips, flea beetles, grubs, weevils, leafminers, ants, termites, earwigs and even grasshoppers. They all wreak havoc in their own special way. For instance, the spider mite loves to suck the sap from the leaves, while hemp borers destroy flower tops and eat seeds. While technically not a bug, mold is another culprit that can destroy your crops.

What to do About It

You don’t have to sit idly by while your crop is destroyed. Invest in some chemicals or organics to nip the problem in the bud. Sprays like Nutrilife’s SM-90 cost about $14 for one liter. Spray your plants with a solution of one part SM-90 and five parts water but do it when the lights are set to go off so you don’t burn the leaves. Don’t forget to spray underneath the leaves too. Garden Safe Neem Oil Extract is another wise choice if you want to use organics. A 16-ounce bottle will cost you about 10 bucks. There are other ways to trap and kill your bug predators. To get rid of aphids, place sticky traps near your plants, preferably on the floor or hanging at the top. You can also release natural predators of aphids into your crop with no adverse effects. Ladybugs and lacewings will wipe out your aphid infestation in no time. The beetle borer, another pest that is devastating to your crop, will eat through the stalks. Sprays are useless on this pest. The only way to get rid of them is to physically remove them by cutting the beetle out of your plant. Caterpillars will eat through leaves like they’re going out of style. Keep them at bay with a homemade mixture of hot pepper, garlic, pesticide and pyrethrum. Fungus gnats spread through the roots of your plants, but you can slow them down by reducing the moisture in the environment, or apply anti-algae spray to the plant’s base. This will manage to kill any algae, which is the gnats’ primary source of food.

Why is marijuana illegal?

marijuana illegal, Marijuana law, marijuana legal statesEven though more and more states are jumping on the marijuana legalization bandwagon, many states have yet to make this leap. It’s important to know where your state stands before you grow, sell or use marijuana. The laws are changing almost on a daily basis, so arm yourself with the knowledge of where marijuana is legal and how that is evolving.

Legalization

Of the 20 legal marijuana states, only 15 allow the cultivation of marijuana at home, according to ProCon.org. In terms of use in general, federal law has in place something called the Controlled Substances Act, classifying marijuana as a Schedule I substance and does not recognize it for medicinal purposes, according to the Huffington Post. In effect, the feds treat this drug like any other controlled substance such as heroin or cocaine. However, it has allowed individual states to make up their own minds about whether it should be allowed for medicinal use. You’ll see here which states are legal medical marijuana states. Where in the country is marijuana still illegal? Currently, states like New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Minnesota don’t have laws legalizing pot. Some states are even lobbying for and have been granted laws that legalize recreational marijuana, such as Colorado and Washington State. That being said, federal law trumps state law in that if the DEA decides to, it can punish people for both medicinal and recreational marijuana use because it does not officially recognize either use, and the penalties can be pretty steep, says Americans for Safe Access.

Change

In recent years, more and more states are allowing the use of marijuana within their borders. Why? There is a growing body of evidence that suggests making marijuana legal does not increase its use, and that in fact prohibiting its use can be harmful and costly, according to Norml. Many people and organizations, such as the Drug Policy Alliance, feel that legalizing the nation’s biggest cash crop will not only create jobs but also economic opportunities that would work to protect the safety of the public and reduce court costs. The DPA feels that the criminalization of marijuana actually works against curbing youth access to the drug and may boost mass levels of violence. The medicinal effects of marijuana, a major component of legalized marijuana use from state to state, has had a major impact on the increasing acceptance of the growing, selling and consuming of cannabis.

Is it Legal to Grow Weed (Marijuana) in the USA?

Grow Weed, Marijuana law, marijuana legal statesIf you’re thinking of growing marijuana in your home, you should first check to ensure the cultivation of this substance is permitted in your state. This will save you from possible fines and jail time if your operation is discovered by the law.

According to Procon.org, there are 20 legal medical marijuana states; however, only 15 of the 20 states allow you to cultivate marijuana at home. Of the 20, home cultivation is not permitted in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, or the District of Columbia, with a license required in New Mexico. Check out the above link for the full list of 20 legal marijuana states. There are other conditions that may preclude you from home cultivation within other approved states. For example, in Arizona, you can only grow medical marijuana if you live within 25 miles of the dispensary when you submitted your application for an ID card. In Massachusetts, you must be able to show a proof of hardship waiver. Some states are lobbying and have been granted legalization of recreational marijuana, such as in Colorado, with Washington State looking to follow suit, according to The Guardian. These laws — and the regulations and conditions that are attached to them — change all the time, with so many states trying to get in on the weed legalization game.

It’s best to check with your individual state before beginning cultivation to ensure the most up-to-date laws. Here’s a good roundup by the Reason Foundation as to where each state in the United States stands in regards to marijuana. In order to legally grow marijuana in a legal state, you’ll need to get licensed by your specific government. Start with contacting your state health department on how to go about getting an ID card as part of your state’s medical marijuana program that allows you to possess, grow and use marijuana. You will be instructed to fill out the necessary paperwork, pay the fee and provide a doctor’s note saying you do indeed have a medical condition that requires the therapeutic use of medical marijuana.

Does Cannabis Affect Memory?

Most of us have seen movies which depict cannabis users as delightfully scatterbrained, and afflicted with a euphoric detachment from reality, accompanied by any number of humorous side effects, one of which is complete loss of memory. But does cannabis really have any effect on short-term memory, or is that something just written into movie scripts to generate laughs?

It should be acknowledged at the outset, that this is a very difficult area to measure accurately, because there are different types of memory, e.g. short-term memory and long-term memory. It also should be noted that the effects cannabis can have on memory are largely determined by which strain of cannabis is in question, how often it’s used, and what dosage is consumed.

Short-term effects

While it should be acknowledged that available information on this subject comes from limited studies, there does seem to be certain facts which consistently emerge, relative to the connection between cannabis usage and its effect on memory.

  • Formation of new memories– studies suggest that cannabis users do not form new memories as readily as during periods of non-usage
  • No blackouts– cannabis users do not experience the memory blackouts that binge drinkers do, when they simply cannot recall specific details of things that happened while they were under the influence
  • Recall difficulty– it appears there is some difficulty in remembering events and situations which occurred during periods of usage, and even for several hours afterward, until the effects wear off
  • Development of tolerance– frequent users of cannabis generally develop a tolerance to any memory impairment effects, so that the impact is less and less over time
  • Temporary effects– in all known studies on the subject, it was clear that any impact on memory was temporary in nature, and involved no long-term impairment


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Long-term effects

In one of the few studies conducted on long-term effects of cannabis usage, Professor Reto Auer from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland surveyed over 3,000 Americans over a period of 25 years.

Specifically testing for verbal recall, his results showed that cannabis users who smoked every day during that time were able to recall 8.5 out of 15 words. The control group, consisting of individuals who either smoked very little or not at all, could recall nine out of 15 words at each point during the testing.

Positive cannabis effect on memory?

One of the most interesting aspects in the study of cannabis effects on memory, is that it might actually help to protect rather than degrade memory.

Several studies have demonstrated that high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which is the non-psychoactive cannabis component, may actually impart a therapeutic benefit. This can serve to prevent cognitive degradation.

CBD protects against damage caused by alcohol

Research in its early stages points at the fact that CBD seems to protect against damage caused to the brain by alcohol abuse.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has reported findings that CBD is able to prevent brain cell destruction due to alcohol abuse, by as much as 60%. Related studies suggest that CBD also acts as a neuro-protectant, and serves to prevent the onset of many diseases which affect the brain such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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How to Choose the Right Strain for Medical Cannabis Patients

It can be more than a little embarrassing when a medical cannabis patient walks in a marijuana shop, and the rep can’t match them up with the best strain to alleviate whatever symptoms they’re experiencing.

By understanding the properties for some of the most common cannabis varieties, a marijuana shop’s representatives have a better chance of providing their medical customers with the right strain of cannabis to manage chronic pain, insomnia, nausea, or whatever issue is bothering them.

Here’s how a store can do a better job of matching up symptoms with the appropriate reliefs from different kinds of cannabis.

What is the patient’s problem?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important all the same to have a good understanding of the issues being experienced by a patient visiting a shop and vise versa.

A store rep should really hone in on what the patient is experiencing. Once the reps have a good idea of the symptoms troubling the client, they should have a better idea of which strains can help.

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Know the strains

If a store rep doesn’t know the particular strains of cannabis, they should learn them. If they can’t for whatever reason, there are guides available which list the properties of each strain, and which medical conditions they would be helpful for.

A good start is an understanding of differences between indica, sativa, and hybrid strains, especially how ones act as stimulants and which are more sedative in nature.

Understand chemical composition

Probably the single most important factor in determining which kinds of symptoms a strain might alleviate is understanding its chemical composition.

By ‘chemical composition’, the cannabinoid and terpene contents are known and understood. As an example, elements of terpenes encourage alertness and sharpness, while also combating inflammation in the body.

THCV is a cannabinoid which has the effect of suppressing appetite and supercharging the consumer with energy.

Know the origins of the cannabis

The best way to learn of any specific or unusual properties of a given strain of cannabis, is by discussing it with its grower.

No one is better positioned than the grower, to know exactly which characteristics a strain of cannabis might have. In such cases, talking with the grower may be the only way to have an understanding of a given variety of cannabis.

Personal experience Sometimes there’s just no substitute for having a thorough understanding of the characteristics of the various strains of cannabis in a shop, other than by experiencing them first hand.

Even though it’s likely that visiting patients will have at least a slightly different reaction to any given strain, the broad properties of the cannabis strains in a marijuana shop should be fairly similar from one person to the next.

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Cannabis Allergies

Allergies afflict at least 50 million Americans, and are the fifth-leading cause of chronic disease, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

The symptoms experienced by people with allergies vary from puffiness around the eyes, to runny noses, coughing, sneezing, and general bodily misery. Sometimes these symptoms can be so severe that a person is nearly incapacitated by them, and that includes both children and adults.

There are many different triggers for allergies

  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Foods

Now it seems cannabis can be added to that list

Correlation to legalization

With the increased legalization of cannabis, researchers have found a rise in the number of allergies in those communities where legalization has begun taking effect.

This should not be surprising, since cannabis has many of the same properties as ragweed, in that its grains of pollen are very light and buoyant, and are easily dispersed for miles around any cultivation source. That of course, increases their reach and their effectiveness as a potential irritant.

The potential for cannabis to be an allergen stems from the fact that its active ingredient, THC, has been steadily increasing in potency over the last several decades. Cultivation techniques have deliberately sought to isolate female plants to prevent pollination, because that decreases potency and makes cannabis less effective.

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Allergies 101

In effect, allergies are the body’s immune system reactions to what it perceives as invaders from external sources. These ‘invaders’ are things like mold and pollen, which is a powdery substance released by many trees, shrubs, and grasses for the natural purpose of fertilizing neighboring plants as a means of reproducing themselves.

The body produces antibodies to prevent the respiratory system from being attacked by pollen and mold, but those antibodies then cause all the nasty symptoms everyone knows so well.

Researchers have discovered that the pollen released by cannabis plants can trigger hay fever, skin rashes, pink eye, and asthmatic symptoms. This occurs whether it is chewed, smoked, inhaled, or consumed in a food product.

It can afflict growers and handlers as well as recreational and medical consumers of the plant, and it can occur anywhere the wind blows near areas where plants are grown, as well as indoor facilities of course.

What to do

If you suspect you may be allergic to cannabis, you should set up an appointment with a dermatologist, and be tested.

The procedure will call for performing various prick tests on the skin to see which ones, if any, show signs of irritation.

This triggers the immune system production of antibodies, and the more pronounced the visible reaction is to the prick test for cannabis, the more likely it becomes that you will have an actual allergy toward the plant. And that of course, will mean that you should avoid contact with the plant if you wish to avoid the unpleasant symptoms which might be triggered.


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Colorado Tables Initiative to Allow Cannabis Clubs

In early April of this year, Colorado legislators backed away from a plan to have the state become the first one to offer Amsterdam-style cannabis clubs for legalized cannabis usage.

A reflection of the uncertainty in Washington over the government’s stated intention to crack down on marijuana legalization, lawmakers decided that it would be more prudent to avoid provoking the federal government into some form of legal sanctions or even worse actions.

What the bill was about

The bill as originally written, would have allowed consumers to bring their own cannabis to designated clubs in the state, for social gatherings and recreational usage. Both parties of Colorado government supported the measure substantially, but were convinced by Governor John Hickenlooper that now was not the time to test the government’s resolve with such a bold action.

Since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly criticized states which do not enforce the government’s ban on marijuana, it has led states such as Colorado and Alaska to become less aggressive in the pursuit of modernizing their cannabis regulations, and has instead caused them to go into protective mode to safeguard existing cannabis commerce.

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Where it goes from here

The bill was not scuttled entirely, but underwent major surgery to excise those parts which formalized and legalized social cannabis clubs. There are some minor parts of the bill which have survived, and are still going through consideration by both houses, and these surviving elements are certain to attract no attention whatsoever to the state.

Lawmakers from both parties have expressed disappointment, but are also anxious to avoid a setback in the state’s cannabis economy.

Cannabis Clubs Already Operating

Some cannabis clubs do already operate privately and discreetly within Colorado, but are subject to local regulations, which means they are occasionally raided and otherwise hindered from operating.

With state support now evaporating, it is presumed that roughly 30 existing cannabis clubs will continue to provide a gathering place for consumers, subject to whatever kind of intervention is deemed appropriate by local authorities.

There remains strong support for such a bill, because it provides a legalized setting where consumption can be confined and largely controlled, rather than having consumers meet in ‘underground’ settings, well outside the aegis of the law.

Home use of course, would not be affected either way, although it does not promote the kind of social aspect which would have prevailed in the Amsterdam-style club venue.


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How to Calculate THC and CBD Levels in Cannabis

THC-structureThere is no standard in the cannabis industry which is used universally to calculate the THC and CBD levels in cannabis or of any cannabis product, and since there is no standard, cannabis growers and testing facilities understandably have many different methods for calculating the THC content.

THC content of course, is a significant point to know about any strain of cannabis

Or any cannabis product, because THC and CBD are the active ingredients in cannabis and cannabis oils which produce the euphoric effects, and provide much of their appeal.

A little bit about THC

Contrary to popular belief, the cannabis plant does not manufacture THC, but instead generates THCA, which is a compound that has no psychoactive properties at all, but which can be converted into THC through a process known as decarboxylation.

Believe it or not, right up to the moment cannabis is lit up in a cigarette, it is still non-psychoactive – but once it gets heated up by a match, a lighter, or a vaporizer, decarboxylation takes place and the THCA gets converted into THC.

That’s why on existing cannabis products, the labels contain information relating to Potency Analysis, and the label lists the percentage content of THC, THCA, and total THC. Typically the THC level is very low – something in the neighborhood of 1% – because the THC will not actually be present in the cannabis until a heat source is applied. Therefore it makes sense that the THCA percentage is much higher, perhaps somewhere around 23%, and then the total THC percentage is usually a figure somewhat less than the THCA percentage.

If that doesn’t sound right, it’s because there’s another element that factors in there, and that relates to THC weighing less than THCA.

Once THCA gets converted into THC, it will represent a lower percentage of the overall contents, simply because it’s lighter than the THCA was in the container’s original condition. It’s also true that some THC will be lost in the decarboxylation process, so that not all THCA gets converted into THC, which is another contributor to the lower-than-expected total THC figure.

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The bottom line

So how can the actual THC content be calculated in any given cannabis strain or related product?

The theoretical maximum amount of THC which is present in any cannabis product can be calculated by a specific formula with a fair degree of accuracy, although it assumes 100% conversion of THCA into THC, and in reality, that will only happen under ideal conditions.

The formula is as follows:

Total Potential THC = (.877 x THCA%) + THC%

So if the original THC was 1% and the original THCA was 23%, the Total THC = (.877 x 23.0) + 1.0 or 21.17%

There are of course, a few caveats to this formula, one of which has already been mentioned above, but it also assumes that the product you have in hand has been accurately labeled by the grower or tester.

It also depends on exactly how the cannabis is consumed, because as the temperature rises to activate the decarboxylation process, above a certain threshold that process breaks down somewhat, and the conversion is less effective and less predictable.

In any case, if you really want to know approximately how much active THC is in the strain of cannabis you’re holding, get out your pencil and paper, and re-live the glory days of high school Math with the formula above.
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Cannabis to treat Insomnia Sufferers

Acute insomnia is a condition which affects almost all people at some point in their lives, and it’s generally triggered by some kind of stress that is encountered during the daytime.

Typically this insomnia occurs sporadically

It is not a persistent condition like chronic insomnia would be. Chronic insomnia affects more than 1 billion people globally, and often occurs three or more times per week for those who are afflicted by it.

In addition, about 50% of all seniors are troubled with insomnia, and in most chronic cases, the cause is associated with a long-term health issue, which explains the persistent nature of the issue.

These causes can be

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Some forms of cardiovascular disease,

These can interrupt the sleeping patterns regularly of those who suffer from it.

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At least in the case of acute insomnia, the major cause of sleeplessness is attributed to stress, so anything which can be done to relieve stress is a useful treatment option. Exercising more and eating healthy foods are both good ways to help relieve stress, and for those who are so inclined, calming practices like yoga can also banish stress to a certain degree.

Treatment options for chronic insomnia are necessarily a bit more involved, since the cause is generally attributed to some other health condition which requires its own specific program of treatment.

Sleeping pills have not been shown to have the kind of significant impact which a sufferer might expect, in many cases only adding 10 or 15 minutes of sleep per night. Other more powerful medications, for instance Xanax or Valium, can be extremely addictive and are not recommended, except in extreme cases.

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New treatments for insomnia… Cannabis

A growing body of research now supports the fact that cannabis is an effective treatment option for people who suffer from lack of sleep.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted a recent study, and found that people suffering from insomnia who consumed THC (the active ingredient in cannabis), fell asleep much more quickly and more easily than the control group of people who did not ingest THC.

Studies also indicate that subjects sleep longer and better after having consumed THC, with fewer interruptions during the night, and a decrease of awakenings overall.

THC induces longer periods of “Deep Sleep”

Additional studies have also demonstrated that THC induces longer periods of deep sleep among consumers, and this is extremely beneficial, because it is the deep sleep state which plays the most significant role in the body’s natural restorative processes overnight.

Further studies indicate that men and women who suffer from breathing problems such as sleep apnea are often able to breathe much easier as they sleep, after having ingested THC.

Medical research is now discovering what many cannabis consumers have known for years – that it can be a very effective agent for aiding in the sleep state which is deeper and lasts longer.