CategoriesGreen Medizin news

Beyond THC and CBD: Meet the New Cannabinoids on the Block

Extraction tech is advancing, and the cannabis industry is just starting to discover and isolate the numerous cannabinoids found in the plant besides THC and CBD. Could delta-8 be the next hot trend?

This is what the future of cannabis looks like.

As the rest of the world catches up to CBD – one of the many compounds in cannabis that doesn’t get us high – extraction specialists are delving deeper into the plant’s chemistry by siphoning troves of lesser-known cannabinoids and infusing them into novel products.

Most of us know about the most famous cannabinoid, THC, and what it does: it can reduce or increase anxiety, it can make us giggle uncontrollably, or put us to sleep. And it may do some other cool stuff, too, like regenerate brain cells or cause cancer cells to self-destruct.

As awesome as THC and CBD are, cannabis contains over 100 cannabinoids, and each offers its own unique contribution to our homeostasis, a state of healthy balance, by interacting with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. THC and CBD may work wonders on a wide array of ailments, but they’re not always effective. Because the other cannabinoids exhibit their own pharmacologies, they may treat illnesses that don’t respond well to THC or CBD alone. However, most cannabis strains don’t produce the other cannabinoids in sufficient amounts, so a little chemistry is needed to either tease out these less-prominent compounds or convert them from other cannabinoid precursors in bulk.

Before we dive in, know that the research on the cannabinoids mentioned below is severely limited, with most of the studies performed on mice or rats. Plus, the scant few conducted with humans were usually not controlled trials. Due to the Controlled Substances Act, all cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant (even the ones we haven’t yet discovered) fall under Schedule I restrictions, meaning researchers must receive stringent federal approval to study them. Further, assuming the academics clear the DEA’s hurdles, researchers must still rely on the government’s crummy weed, which lacks some of the less-prominent cannabinoids.

here’s it all going? Which new cannabinoids could prove to be game-changers? Which are destined to become over-hyped curiosities, fads within the ever-expanding legal market? And will any of them even get us lit? As more and more legit research occurs, and more and more canna-businesses try to differentiate themselves within the green rush with “novel” products, the possibilities and benefits of isolating new cannabinoids are just now starting to reveal themselves — to consumers and companies alike.

Photo courtesy of Oregrown

Delta-8-THC: For a Kinder, Gentler Way to Get Baked

When we think about THC, we’re usually thinking about a specific form, or isomer, of the molecule. The one we smoke or vape is delta-9-THC. Delta-8-THC, however, promises a similar, yet nuanced, experience compared to its delta-9 isomer.

Oregon-based Oregrown makes a Pax vaporizer pod filled with delta-8-THC. The company’s director of extractions, Jake Jones, told MERRY JANE that one of delta-8’s benefits is that users experience its effects instantly, whereas fully feeling a delta-9 dab may take five to ten minutes.

“It really feels medicinal,” Jones said about delta-8. “It’s hard to explain, but it doesn’t give you as strong of a high. It gives you more of a calming, relaxing sensation in the body.”

Joseph Nielsen, Oregrown’s head extraction engineer, described delta-8’s effect as “a solid punch.” “I feel it right in the forehead, behind the eyes,” he said. “But delta-8 is really smooth, and it tastes sweeter [than delta-9].”

Jones and Nielsen believe delta-8 could be used as a training wheel for inexperienced medical cannabis patients. Because it produces an incredibly mellow, subtle high, delta-8 could help new patients ease into THC-based therapies, or it could replace delta-9 entirely for patients who don’t like to get too stoned. Seniors, child patients, recovering addicts, or people with mental illness may also benefit from delta-8’s reduced psychoactivity. Although there hasn’t been nearly as much research into delta-8 compared to its rock star sibling, studies suggest delta-8 may have the same medicinal properties as delta-9.

Where can you get your hands on some delta-8 flower? Probably nowhere at the moment. In nature, delta-8 is found in cannabis at incredibly small amounts. Instead of extracting delta-8 directly from the plant, Oregrown first extracts delta-9 then converts it to delta-8 through a manufacturing process. The result is a clear, viscous oil that can be dabbed, vaped, or possibly infused into edibles.

While Oregrown only supplies delta-8 in a Pax pod, Guild Extracts in California offers a dabbable delta-8 “sap.” In fact, Jones and Nielsen first learned about delta-8 a few years ago by stumbling on Guild’s product. In Washington, Hitz Cannabis produces a delta-8 dab oil, and some dispensaries there carry Oleum Labs’ delta-8 vape pen cartridges, as well.

THCV: Ganja’s Jenny Craig

Although weed is (in)famous for triggering rabid cases of the munchies, some strains do the exact opposite. The culprit? Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV, a cannabinoid usually found in Afghan or African cultivars like Durban Poison. Research on rodents suggests THCV may also be able to protect the human brain, improve insulin resistance, and prevent seizures.

GW Pharmaceuticals, the creator of the cannabis-derived pharmaceuticalsSativex and Epidiolex, is currently working on a drug made with THCV. Besides killing appetite, GW’s pot pill may also treat eating disorders and diet-related conditions like Type II diabetes. We may not see this weed diet pill any time soon, though, as GW’s research got stuck at phase II of its clinical trial in 2016.

Outside of pharma, THCV is already finding its niche among the figure-conscious. Last year, SuicideGirls, the alt-model outfit featuring tatted ladies, unveiled its Chill Hustle Zero line of cannabis products with THCV.

“We created Zero because we wanted to get high and not overeat,” said SuicideGirls’ Milloux Suicide in an interview last year with MERRY JANE. “I love getting high, but I am also really into my health and fitness. I like to be able to smoke without waking up the next morning in a bed full of Taco Bell wrappers reminding me of last night’s bad decisions.”

SuicideGirls is not the only company seeing green in cannabinoid extractions, either. Bethenny Frankel, the brain behind the Skinnygirl brand of low-calorie wines and mixers, plans to launch her Skinnygirl Marijuana line sometime in the near future. Skinnygirl’s weed “will be a specially-engineered strain of pot designed to not give you the munchies,” an insider revealed to US Weekly.

CBN: When CBD Alone Just Ain’t Cuttin’ It

Like all things, molecules break down over time. THC is no different. When it degrades or metabolizes, THC converts to cannabinol, or CBN.

“CBN is a more stable form of THC, essentially,” said Jeremy Riggle over the phone to MERRY JANE. Riggle is the chief scientific officer at Mary’s Medicinals, one of the first and only companies to offer CBN products. CBN won’t get anyone lifted, but “it still has some therapeutic benefits, such as being a sedative,” he added.

Fighting insomnia is just one of CBN’s properties. In addition to making us sleepy, it can treat painreduce inflammation, and act as an antibiotic. Riggle noted that CBN may also slow or reverse signs of aging when combined with other cannabinoids, making it ideal for beauty products like face masks or eye creams.

Because CBN is made by the breakdown of THC, there’s not a lot of it in most cannabis plants. Unless, of course, you’re holding some seriously old weed. Mary’s Medicinals doesn’t get its CBN by extracting it directly from the plant. Instead, like Oregrown, they get it by extracting THC, which is then heated until it converts to CBN.

THCA: The Raw Dawg

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA, is another cannabinoid that Mary’s Medicinals infuses into its topicals. By weight, THCA is the most prevalent cannabinoid found in cannabis. When you see lab results on your bud bottles, the listed THC percentage is actually THCA. Additionally, THCA by itself is not psychoactive,which is why we burn and inhale cannabis in order to get high. Heat causes combustion, which leads THCA’s acidic portion to pop off the molecule, leaving behind the THC-laden smoke we all know and love. Now companies like Mary’s Medicinals want to harness THCA’s power without putting it to a flame.

“If you’re looking to not get high, but instead want benefits to your immune and endocrine systems, then THCA is the way to go,” said Riggle. “It kind of gets the immune system kick-started and operating optimally.”

Why does Mary’s deliver THCA through the skin if it’s intended to benefit immune and hormonal regulation? Riggle cited a 2009 paper published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. The skin acts as a “passive barrier” to protect the body’s innards from its environment, and a vast endocannabinoid system network runs through our skin. Hair follicles and sweat glands mediate cell signaling to the immune and endocrine systems, so targeting the epidermis with THCA makes sense.

Ironically, THCA behaves much like CBD, never activating the body’s CB receptors but stimulating them just enough to initiate healing effects. CB receptors act as gateways on cells, triggering specific cell signals after coming into contact with a cannabinoid like THCA. Some of those effects include halting the spread of cancersprotecting nerve cellsanti-inflammation, and curbing nausea.

Besides transdermal patches or other topicals, one of the easiest ways to get THCA into the body is by juicing raw cannabis. Unfortunately, most dispensaries only sell dry cannabis. To juice it, you need hefty amounts of fresh, wet buds. Unless you grow your own or your buddy’s a caregiver, products infused with THCA may be the most efficient route — for now.

“We’re starting to manipulate the enzymes that generate these cannabinoids, so I don’t think we’re far away from having plants that are high in THCA or CBN or whatever,” Riggle said. “That’s definitely where things are going: figuring out ways to produce other cannabinoids besides THC or CBD.”

Delta-8, photo courtesy of Oregrown

The mainstreaming of new cannabinoid products adds to our already-existing arsenal of goodies for customizable or directional highs. Unfortunately, we still don’t know why certain cannabinoid/terpene combos make us sleepy, focused, awake, or bubbly. But isolating specific cannabinoids will help patients and researchers better understand how different cannabinoids interact inside of our bodies.

Until then, whether we’re prescribed an FDA-approved weed pill or simply prefer that our beauty products are loaded with cannabinoids, we are, essentially, guinea pigs. The nation’s fastest growing industry isn’t just testing the limits of federal law; it’s testing how we respond to an incredibly young market that could become oversaturated with THC and CBD products before legalization goes national. It’s also no coincidence that many of these novel extractions are taking place along the West Coast, America’s first (and so far, only) region to fully embrace regulated recreational cannabis.

What cool discoveries will companies stumble on when the East Coast finally opens up to legal cannabis? What about those in the Midwest or the Deep South? And what happens when academic researchers can finally investigate this plant’s chemistry with gloves completely off?

Randy RobinsonFOLLOWBased in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljayShare this article with your friends!

NOW WATCHINGSeed to Strain: Blue DreamPlayUnmuteLoaded: 21.01%Remaining Time -5:52Picture-in-PictureFullscreenIn this episode of Seed to Strain we spotlight one of the most popular strains on the West Coast, Blue Dream. Whether you are new to toking or a cannabis connoisseur chances are you’ve heard of these fluffy blue nugs. The sativa-dominant hybrid which hit the scene a decade ago, will enliven your mind while relaxing your body. A cross between the indica strain Blueberry and the sativa strain Haze, Blue Dream offers a chill yet productive high. Bess, one of the original growers of the strain tells MERRY JANE that while the plant was first cultivated in the northern part of the state, it was Los Angeles that catapulted Blue Dream into legendary status. Today, Blue Dream continues on as a dispensary staple. The strain continues to rein because unlike other popular flowers, there is no proprietary license so you’re free to grow, where it’s legal that is.

CategoriesGreen Medizin news

Florida Veterans Affairs: Medical Marijuana Won’t Jeopardize Benefits

Did you know that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating physiological and mental health condition that affects more than 12% of American soldiers? Military service can put individuals in life-or-death circumstances repeatedly. Veterans with PTSD struggle because what they see, hear, and feel during their tours of service can stay with them for a long time. 

What many people do not know, however, is how hard it is for American veterans to reintegrate into normal civilian life, because of PTSD. Reformation of the support and services provided by Veteran’s Affairs resulted in the designation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a disability.

The state of Florida recently expanded the list of qualifying health conditions to include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There are an estimated 1.25 million veterans currently living in the State of Florida. Many of them are seeking an alternative approach to manage anxiety and the symptoms of PTSD. 

Medical cannabis has been featured in many global clinical health studies, supporting the efficacy of marijuana treatments for mood disorders and trauma. 

What are the Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Like any other medical condition, PTSD must first be diagnosed as a health issue from a mental healthcare provider, such as a psychologist. Post-Traumatic stress disorder is more than a feeling of stress or flashback memories. It is feeling like you are reliving agonizing moments of your life. For veterans, it feels like you are right in the middle of it again, fighting for your life. 

Patients that have PTSD symptoms often go unnoticed and underserved by the medical community. Military veterans sometimes fear the stigma of mental health issues. Others feel that they should “tough it out.” They feel pressured to cope with their emotions and memories, because it is “not a big deal” and are forced to deal with their symptoms alone.

Post-Traumatic stress disorder can make emotional engagements more difficult and stressful. Veterans with the condition do not know when they will feel symptoms of extreme anxiety or emotional distress. Veterans with PTSD symptoms can experience:

  • Deep sadness and remorse
  • Inability to open up to or trust new people or relationships
  • Sustain long-term relationships with a spouse or partner
  • Feelings of detachment from loved ones
  • Lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • A feeling of emotional numbness
  • Traumatic flash-back memories
  • Negative thoughts about self-worth 
  • Distrustful thoughts about people and the world around them

The physical symptoms caused by excessive anxiety can include appetite loss, hypertension, hormonal variances, and suicidal thoughts or ideations. From 2007 to 2018, the number of veteran suicides stayed at the rate of 6,000 deaths per year. Roughly 13% of suicide deaths in the United States annually are veteran soldiers. Veterans with PTSD may also experience difficulty acquiring and retaining employment. 

What Does Veterans Affairs Say About Medical Marijuana Use? 

Veterans are encouraged to speak to a Veterans Affairs doctor before seeking to become certified for medical marijuana. While a VA doctor will not provide advice or consulting regarding medical marijuana, they can discuss symptoms and other treatment options.

The Veteran’s Affairs website states that it recognizes marijuana (and medical cannabis) to be classified as a Schedule 1 drug, per Federal law. As such, it does not endorse, recommend, or counsel military veterans on the use of medicinal marijuana therapies in any state.

Will I be Denied Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits for Taking Medical Marijuana?

Veterans Affairs will not endorse or provide medical cannabis as a treatment option for veterans with specific physical or mental health conditions. At the federal level, cannabis is viewed to be a Schedule-1 drug and prohibited substance. It is right up there on the list with some pretty terrifying and hazardous drugs.

Do you know what they say about being judged by the company you keep? Cannabis gets lumped in with some pretty frightening drugs, even though it has many medically documented health and pain relief benefits.

A Schedule 1 (Class 1) drug is illegal as it is categorized as a health and safety threat. Cannabis has been classed with the likes of heroin, LSD, and cocaine. Opioids, like high doses of codeine, Fentanyl, and Oxycodone are classified as Schedule 2 drugs (with less potential to harm patients). Barbiturates like opium and morphine are also classified as Schedule 2. 

On the Veterans Affairs website, the agency states that no veteran will have their VA benefits cut or reduced if they are a certified medical cannabis user. The VA does not endorse it or enable veterans to access medical marijuana. On the other hand, they do not penalize retired soldiers from seeking therapies for PTSD and other qualifying health conditions in Florida and other states.

How Do I Qualify for Medical Marijuana as a Military Veteran in Florida?

A military veteran must follow the same procedures as any other permanent or a seasonal resident in the state of Florida. Acquiring a medical cannabis card in Florida requires a formal diagnosis of PTSD or other qualifying health conditions.

The formal diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may also require an evaluation from a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. For military veterans however, it is common for the VA to diagnose the retired soldier as part of the evaluation for disability benefits and services. 

The next step is to contact a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) in Florida for an evaluation and consultation with a state-certified marijuana doctor. During the course of the online (or in-person) evaluation, the medical diagnoses will be reviewed to determine if they qualify according to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU). 

The doctor from the MMTC will guide you through the required next steps to submit your application for a medical marijuana certification. Each Florida resident that is certified for medical marijuana is also required to submit their name and contact information to the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry. This is a confidential, HIPAA-compliant, and secure state government listing required for all cardholders. 

Once the patient’s information has been successfully submitted to the registry, the certified medical marijuana card will arrive by mail in approximately 10 business days. The card will have your picture on it and allow you to visit any Florida dispensary to purchase medical cannabis products. There are a variety of different products to choose from, including smokable marijuana, tinctures, or sublingual drops, and therapeutic capsules.

At the time of writing, edible marijuana products are not legalized. They are expected to pass legislative approval within the next year, however. When it is legalized, options for edible marijuana in Florida may include baked goods, confectionaries (candy, chocolate), THC infused olive oil (for salads and cooking), and more.

What Happens if I Return to Active Duty while Using Medical Marijuana?

If an American military veteran agrees to return to active duty or volunteer as part of the National Guard services, they are required to submit to drug testing. If you are a veteran who currently has a medical cannabis card, you will not be able to continue purchasing medical cannabis while in military service. Military veterans from Florida who are returning to service should surrender their medical cannabis card and contact the Florida Registry to have their name removed.

It is also advised that to successfully pass the drug testing required to return to active duty, veterans wait a period of at least 60-days without the consumption of medical marijuana.

CategoriesGreen Medizin news

How CBD Oil May Treat Anxiety in the Time of COVID-19

Anxiety disorders affect some 40 million adults in the US every year. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic currently wreaking havoc worldwide, there is a real danger of that figure increasing in 2020. Without a doubt, hearing or watching news about the rising number of infections and deaths can increase anxiety levels. Losing jobs the way millions have during this pandemic can make people worry about their future. The realization that no vaccine or cure for COVID-19 is close on the horizon can send one into panic mode. The stay-at-home orders state governments have issued aren’t helping anxiety either.