Humans of Cannabis

written by Alexandra Arnett @calyx.alex

The cannabis industry is a place where many people from all different walks of life come together, for the cannabis plant. We’d like to take this opportunity to give the people behind the scenes of the cannabis industry a voice so that they can tell us their stories. 

Sue Carlson – Sue is the founder of The Botanical Joint, a hemp farm located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Sue prides herself on being one of the only Latina craft hemp farmers in Oregon!

Instagram: @thebotanicaljoints

For the longest time, I was always fascinated with cannabis and my dream was to always work with cannabis. My friend from college was one of the first people to introduce me to working with the cannabis plant. She also helped me make connections in the industry in Oregon. Working on the medical side of the cannabis industry also allowed me to pay for four years of schooling in full. I began work with a cannabis chocolate company as a chocolatier and then moved onto another position making another line for a company. After working with edibles for a while, I moved into farming at Oregon Girl Gardens. It wasn’t more than two months into the job when the greenhouse caught on fire, and my whole life suddenly felt like it was in shambles. Here I was apprenticing under arguably one of the best female cannabis growers in Oregon and then in a quick moment, it was gone. 

After this, I decided to start consulting again and was feeding my garden—emotionally and physically—and giving it the nutrients I needed at the time. During this time, I also noticed the lack of quality hemp products on the market and as a medical patient, it was important to me that other patients had worthwhile medicine. This helped me develop the business that I have today cultivating premium hemp CBD products. 

My favorite strain that is currently in cultivation includes Orange Glaze, which to me is the closest resemblance to cannabis in effect. It has a very citrus and diesel aroma and taste, something you don’t see on the hemp CBD market often, if at all.

One thing that I aim to do in my business is to bring attention to minorities in the cannabis industry. I myself am Latina and Native American, so this is a very important component to me. Knowing and seeing people I love like my brother, uncles and aunt go to prison for a plant was devastating. As someone with a public health degree, I make it a priority to support out the efforts of minorities in the cannabis industry, specifically minority females.

Cannabis and the Lungs

written by Alexandra Arnett @calyx.alex, photographed by Nina Compeau

All too often you will see people make the erroneous claim that smoking cannabis does not harm your lungs. This misconception is often conflated with the statement “smoking cannabis is better than smoking cigarettes,” and while that may have some truth to it, there are still reasons why cannabis smoke is also harmful. This harm comes not so much from the cannabis itself, but the method of inhalation. Cannabis can be inhaled in a various number of ways, from rolling a joint, packing a bowl in a bong or pipe, using a vaporizer or getting fancy with a dab rig. Among other reasons, devices such as a dab rig or a vape pen make research surrounding the effects of inhaling cannabis difficult to conduct.

The current research that has been published on the topic often fails to control for tobacco usage, methods of inhalation and variables like whether or not the flower was free of mold and pesticides. Research has indicated that cannabis smoke has similar carcinogenic effects as tobacco, but there is not a strong correlation between cannabis smoke and lung cancer. Though cannabis inhalation can cause the same symptoms that tobacco inhalation can, like coughing, wheezing and chronic bronchitis, there are some important benefits. Unlike tobacco inhalation, cannabis inhalation is not a primary factor in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), nor does it reduce your lungs’ forced expiratory volume. In fact, research has shown that cannabis inhalation may increase your lungs’ forced vital capacity. The active component in cannabis, delta 9-THC, has even been demonstrated as a bronchodilator along with the terpene pinene.

If you’re concerned about the health of your lungs, there are a few things you can do! The number one suggestion would be to use methods that don’t involve inhalation, like edibles or tinctures. If you like cannabis flower and prefer to inhale, try out a flower vaporizer! By vaping cannabis with heat instead of combusting it with fire, the inhalation of several carcinogens can be avoided. The best products on the market for flower vaporizers include the PAX 2 and PAX 3. For a long-term quality vape to use at home, the original Volcano vaporizer is the number one choice.

To keep with your old school style of a pipe, bong or joint, there are a few simple tricks to create fewer carcinogens from the smoke. One is to stick with glass smoking pieces that have a longer stem. If you’re looking to use a bong, a long neck and an ice catcher design to help cool the smoke is best. In addition, use only filtered water, this helps provide the cleanest filter for the smoke. The best way to light your flower in a pipe or bong is by first lighting a candle (the more natural the better), then light up some hemp wick using the candle and from here you can light your flower with the hemp wick! Through this method you can reduce the inhalation of toxic carcinogens that come with using lighters, this can also be used for lighting joints. In addition to using hemp wick to light a joint, use a crutch or filter and stick with unbleached hemp or rice papers. We have probably all had our experiences with smoking roaches from old joints, but this is not really healthy as it is concentrated with tars and other toxins.

Vape pens fall into a unique category. These pens are made using either ceramic, glass or metal coils, and depending on the battery can be vaped at various temperatures. Words of wisdom for purchasing vape pens include purchasing from brands that don’t use artificial flavorings, botanically-derived terpenes, or MCT oil. Along with using the lowest heat seating, this limits the risk of inhaling any harmful compounds or toxins.

Moving into using dab rigs, there are some very important notes to make. The first is to remember that products used with a dab rig are likely made with hydrocarbons. It is very important to be purchasing these products from a legal dispensary where you know the product has been tested for residual toxins. Temperature is extremely important when using a dab rig and there are a few reasons for this. One is that certain terpenes, such as myrcene, can turn into toxic compounds if heated at high temperatures. Your dab nail should never turn red hot while heating for a dab—you should stop as soon as you see a color change. Dabs should not be taken at temperatures of more than 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The safest nails to use on a dab rig are ceramic or quartz glass that is made in America. Don’t forget to let your nail cool for just under a minute before dropping that dab in your banger!

Overall, the research we do have to go off of tells us that smoke inhalation of any kind is not particularly best for your lungs. Until more research on the subject is done, the precautions listed above are the best steps you can take right now to protect the health of your lungs.

Terminated for (Legal) Toking

written by Emma Routley, photographed by Nina Compeau

Spike Kirumira used to work for the service responsible for cleaning dorms at the University of Oregon.  He said he was fired from the seasonal job on the accusation that a coworker saw him smoking weed while the crew was taking a cigarette break.

“They just accused me and then let me go,” said Kirumira.  “Show me one witness that will tell me I was smoking a joint in front of them while they’re all smoking cigarettes.  I’d stand there on my break and talk to people.”

Kirumira argued against the accusation, but the issue remains that people like Kirumira live in a legalized marijuana state and yet cannot work or keep federally funded jobs if they consume cannabis products. 

“I’m just stuck with other people in a hard place where you need cannabis for medication but you can’t get the job you want because of the weed,” said Kirumira.

Oregonians live in a recreational marijuana state and cannot consume cannabis products without putting their careers at stake.  People can be fired for THC present in their bloodstream when they are not impaired on the job, or are not hirable because of THC present in their bloodstream during a pre-screening drug test for potential employment.  Businesses that are federally funded have to follow a zero tolerance policy for cannabis, which is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug. There is no current testing system for active cannabis impairment like there is for alcohol, and hemp-derived CBD products are not a reliable substitute to medicate with and still pass a drug test.

Most employers follow a zero tolerance policy—a system that automatically terminates anyone who does not promote and adhere to a drug free workplace.  Megan Livermore has been a cannabis attorney since 2014, and is an executive committee member of the Oregon State Bar Cannabis Law Section. She says even after the legalization of recreational cannabis over the last five years, there has been no change to employment law.

“You can use this substance legally, and yet if your employer wants to drug test you for marijuana and terminate you for a positive test, they still may do so,” said Livermore.

Federally funded businesses are unlikely to change the current zero tolerance policy system because random drug testing protects them from legal action by the employees they test.

Dr. John Hudak, marijuana policy expert at the Brookings Institution stated, “If you accuse someone of being intoxicated at work, and you’re wrong, that could create a tremendous liability for a business, where random drug testing does not.  So I don’t think businesses are going to voluntarily, in a large scale, transition away from this zero tolerance policy. I think it would require public policy changes to do that and it’s not going to happen all that much in terms of internal workplace changes.”  

Cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug, meaning the federal government reports a high risk of abuse and a lack of medical value..  Federally funded businesses, such as the University of Oregon, have to comply with federal laws when it comes to cannabis, and if they don’t exercise a zero tolerance policy then they are likely to lose their funding.  A bill has been introduced called the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act of 2019, which would remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 drug category.  If marijuana is no longer a Schedule 1 drug, the cannabis industry will be able to expand financially.   

“It will change the industry dramatically, to be taxed like all other businesses and to have access to banking services and lending. It will be another seismic shift,” added Livermore.

Livermore says the potential for medical insurance coverage for medicinal cannabis is thwarted by the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies. “What MDs are shell taught in medical school is that marijuana has no medical use and is actually harmful. Further, for insurance to cover it, it needs to go through the healthcare system they understand. Any decriminalization can certainly loosen restrictions and lead to that kind of change.” 

Changes are occurring within the nation.  Nevada has issued a law that states not hiring a person due to a positive cannabis drug screening is unlawful. The point of Nevada’s new law is to address the dilemma between holding an employee accountable for the cannabis they might have consumed weeks ago. This law will be active in January 2020, and is careful to exclude jobs involving the safety and care of other people.

Oregon does not seem to be heading in that direction, mainly because while regulations for cannabis were being discussed, hemp became nationally legalized and stole the conversation.  Livermore said that the focus has been less directed on issues regarding employment and instead catered to the hemp legalization and “a whole new mountain of regulations” that comes with it.    

Livermore added, “Just the fact that this plant was taken away from people for so long is unfortunate at best, considering what an amazing plant it is and how much good it can do folks.”

Because of the lack of current regulations on hemp products, CBD products sold outside of cannabis retail locations can be mislabeled, causing unsuspecting consumers to test positive for THC.  The products sold at cannabis retail locations can also be misleading if the labels are not clearly understood, some saying hemp-derived CBD and others saying THC-free. Hemp-derived CBD qualifies as containing  0.3% THC content or less, while THC-free products have zero THC content detectable. 

 “There’s a threshold level so the end use product has to be below 0.3% THC,” said Gary McAninch, the hemp program manager at the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “I could imagine that if you’re a person that consumed a CBD product that had a little bit of THC that was less than 0.3% total THC you still could possibly test positive on a drug test or for a THC test.” 

There is no dependable technology to test how much THC is in someone’s system.  Those who work in a job that exercises a federally required zero tolerance policy for marijuana, such as employees of universities, are only safe from termination if they abstain from using cannabis products altogether.

What’s My Tolerance?

written by Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Nina Compeau

We’ve all heard the words “cannabis tolerance,” but what exactly does that mean, and how does it work? 

Developing a tolerance toward cannabis means that your body has become accustomed to the physiological and psychological effects of cannabis. This typically results in the need to use higher doses over time to reach the same level of intoxication as the times before, or the desired level. Cannabis tolerance is most prevalent in daily users of cannabis. The main theory surrounding cannabis tolerance is the desensitization of CB1 receptors by THC. What this means is that, over time, the use of THC can wear out the binding ability to CB1 receptors. According to the research, daily users of large amounts of cannabis develop tolerance at higher rates than those who use occasionally. However, developing a tolerance to cannabis seems to vary by person, and this is likely the result of everyone having unique endocannabinoid systems.

Variations in a person’s endocannabinoid system also relates to dosing; what works for some, may not work for others. For new cannabis users, dosing cannabis can be scary, especially when it comes to edibles. Cannabinoids have a biphasic dose-response curve. What this means is that less can actually be more: after a certain dose, the cannabinoids become less effective. The best dosing strategy is to start low and go slow. Through a campaign called “Try 5,” Oregon put in place the 5mg of THC per serving rule and consequently the 50mg package limit for edibles. These rules are intended to protect people from ingesting too much at once and having a bad or unpleasant experience. In addition, it was also meant to protect children and pets from any negative side effects if they were to get into edibles. Today, you can find “single-dose” 50mg THC edibles made to eat in one bite for those with higher tolerance levels, or you can find packs of edibles with various serving sizes of THC in each bite for smaller doses. 

For extracts, concentrates and tinctures, the OLCC has limited their THC levels per package to 1000mg of THC. So whenever you see a cartridge or a dab and see 87% THC, it means there is 870mg within the entire product. For example, say the serving size for a specific cartridge is 0.05g in a product containing 870mg of THC. Doing the math, per 0.05g dab from a 1g cartridge, you would get 43.5mg of THC in a single serving.

To help remediate a cannabis tolerance, try switching up the strains of flower or concentrate you’ve been smoking for a new profile of cannabinoids and terpenes. If you’ve been using a lot of vape pens, move away from the distillate cartridges and splurge on the Live Resin cartridge next time. By changing up the profile of cannabinoids and terpenes, you are able to help “reset” the receptors they interact with. If after switching up the strain you still find a hard time reaching your desired effect, take a break for a day or two if possible. The longer you wait, the more time your cannabinoid receptors have to get back to baseline. This also means that the longer you wait, the more likely it will be that potential adverse effects, such as dizziness, nausea, and paranoia, may occur as well. Also, it is important to note that just because you aren’t receiving an “intoxicating” high doesn’t mean the cannabinoids and other compounds aren’t working in various ways to benefit your body. For some, like cancer patients, a tolerance to the “high” of cannabis is a good thing because they are often taking very high milligram doses of THC. 

If you’re a customer at a dispensary in Oregon, you should be handed a little card with two warnings on it, one for pets and children and one for pregnant women. While frequent customers and medical patients may take these cards for granted, the OLCC created these with good intent. Dogs have a higher concentration of CB1 receptors in the brain than humans do. This means that THC without higher levels of CBD can be harmful to dogs or make them sick, and may cause respiratory issues that may lead to death if left untreated. The OLCC also restricts any company from marketing a product toward pets to deter people away from giving their pets cannabis products. You may see CBD for pets at your local retail store, but these are unregulated products and many should NOT be used for pets or even humans. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all cannabis is bad for animals, but pet owners should take caution with these products. Sourcing from a reputable company and purchasing from a licensed dispensary are the first steps you should take if looking for CBD products to give to your pet. 

Currently, there is not much research on the topic of cannabinoids and dogs or cats and veterinarians across the country are restricted from discussing cannabis medicine with pet owners. One state, California, passed AB 2215 which gives veterinarians the ability to “discuss” cannabis with pet owners and are working on SB 627 which would allow for medical recommendations of cannabis to pets by veterinarians.

References

Ramaekers, J. G., Mason, N. L., & Theunissen, E. L. (2020). Blunted highs: Pharmacodynamic and behavioral models of cannabis tolerance. European Neuropsychopharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.01.006

Customer’s Guide to Cannabis

written by Alexandra Arnett

The Cannabis sativa L. species is a member of the family Cannabaceae. Around 27.8 million years ago, a split occurred within the Cannabacea family developing into Cannabis L. and Humulus L. Cannabis has been used for thousands of years either as medicine, food, for fibers and even in religious ceremonies. Many of the early reports of cannabis use indicate it can cause psychosis-like symptoms, including visions, but this is extremely speculative as it was mostly observed in religious ceremonies and/or ritual practices. 

Though the Cannabis sativa L. species has been around for over 10,000 years, botanical and chemical research and classification of the plant has only occurred within the last few centuries. 

 The “L” indicates who first published the classifications, and in the case of cannabis and Humulus, or hops, it is Carl Linnaeus. Linnaeus is also considered the Father of Taxonomy and published Systema Naturae in which he classified over 7,700 plant species.

Now, when cannabis was first classified and popularized in the early 60s, it was mistakenly noted that “indica” and “sativa” were relevant in terms of the physiological and psychological effects. However, this was never indicated by those using cannabis and the botanists certainly were not ingesting them to find out. This is where the confusion really sets in; with the re-popularization of cannabis in the early 90s, the terms indica and sativa were suddenly being used to describe effect rather than morphology and origin. These terms have no bearing on how a certain strain will make you feel. Instead, the chemical makeup of terpenes is what influences the effect of a certain strain. 

The term “sativa” is Latin for cultivated, which is why it was used to name the variety of the Cannabis L. species Cannabis sativa. The term “indica” was for the region, India, in which they first found a specific variety of the species. Cannabis L. contains two main varieties, Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa and Cannabis sativa subsp. indica. Furthermore, within these subspecies, there are several varieties:

  • Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa var. sativa (Broad-leaf hemp or BLH)
  • Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa var. chinesis (Narrow-leaf hemp or NLH)
  • Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. indica (Narrow-leaf drug or NLD)
  • Cannabis sativa subsp. indica var. afghanica (Broad-leaf drug or BLD)

Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa varieties are what we call hemp, which is simply cannabis with a lower THC content, and is better for crafting fibers and other materials. Cannabis sativa subsp. indica varieties account for the “drug” types that helped develop the cannabis we have today. However, this is not to say that these four varieties never crossed paths and mixed genetics. If isolation of the plant varieties were the case, we would not have the cannabis we have today with the varying ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes. 

In today’s market, most cannabis “strains,” or cultivars as the scientific community likes to say, are hybrids of the various cannabis genetics. Landrace strains are another variety of cultivars that have not been crossed with any other genetics since its discovery. Due to the perseverance of some breeders and activists such as Ed Rosenthal and seed banks such as Sensi Seeds, strains that are considered “landrace” are available nearly everywhere. One of the most popular landrace strains is Durban Poison, which hails from the Port of Durban in Africa. Others include Hindu Kush, Afghan Kush, Lamb’s Bread, Acapulco Gold, Nepalese Kush and Chocolate Thai. These landrace strains have been cultivated by the native populations and have been used for centuries. Many of these landrace strains are best grown in climates similar to their place of origin. This can be achieved through indoor and greenhouse grows if the outdoor climate is not ideal for that particular strain.

In order to obtain the cannabis we have today, breeders have been crossing genetics and developing a wide array of strains, each with their own unique profile. Cannabis profiles include cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. There are over 113 cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, THCV, CBDV and now THCP and CBDP. Various cannabinoids play a role in the psychological and physiological effects of cannabis. In addition, there are over 200 terpenes that can be found in cannabis. Terpenes contribute to the scent, effect, look and taste of cannabis. Flavonoids found in the cannabis plant include cannflavin A, cannflavin B, cannflavin C, vitexin, isovitexin, apigenin, kaempferol, quercetin, luteolin and orientin. These flavonoids contribute to the colors and tastes of the cannabis plant to create the combinations that we are familiar with. For example, the purple color that certain cannabis strains produce is due to a flavonoid called anthocyanin! In addition, this flavonoid is an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and antioxidant.

Overall, one should not rely solely on cannabinoids or strain names to help determine what strain is best for them. The best test is the smell test: your nose knows better. The more you enjoy the scent of a cannabis strain, the more likely you are to enjoy the effect. Although, be aware that high THC content and certain terpenes such as pinene and terpinolene can cause anxiety. Training your nose to sniff out those terpenes can help you choose the strain with little to none of those terpenes. Pinene has a scent like pine while terpinolene has a gassy/tart scent. 

References

McPartland, J. M. (2018). Cannabis Systematics at the Levels of Family, Genus, and Species. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 3(1), 203–212. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0039

High Recommendations

written and photographed by Kimberly Harris

Passing a drug test for cannabis can be an essential part of getting a job or being on a team. Even though I’m of age and live in a cannabis-legal state, companies still have the right to deny hiring me if I test positive for THC in a drug test. That uncertainty and restriction about having to pass a drug test for cannabis is conflicting. Cannabis had become a part of my lifestyle for years and kicking it was just like trying to get rid of any habit—difficult. So, for this High Recommendations, we’re going to learn how to detox. 

Stop Cannabis intake. 

As soon as possible, I stopped my cannabis intake to begin detoxing. The first week was the hardest. I felt no physical symptoms of withdrawing, but I did have a mental battle with myself to stop. I had to constantly remind myself of how important detoxing was. I also want to be stronger than a substance. 

If smoking is a part of a daily routine it’s more difficult of a habit to kick. I’ve had to pick something else to replace that time like making a cup of coffee, taking an extra-long shower or stretching. I choose things that help me relax and start my day with a positive attitude.

Stay occupied and focus on hobbies. 

To not be tempted to smoke in my off time, I learned to keep myself busy throughout the day. I attached myself to school, work or another hobby if I found myself with extra time. Keeping busy helped with my cravings and desires. I loved to come home after a long day and wind down with a bowl. That habit has been replaced with working out. I can hold a lot of anxiety and stress that builds up inside of me, especially after a day of work, school and completing assignments. Doing cardio, yoga and lifting weights helps to release that build of stress instead. 

2 to 4 weeks is how long it takes for THC to leave the body, supposedly. 

Various articles online told me that how quickly THC flushes through my system would depend on how much I weighed and how often I smoked. After intake, THC is stored in fat so the more fat someone has the easier it is for THC to linger in the body. As a 120lb girl, I wasn’t worried about THC storing in my fat cells. I was more worried about being a daily smoker for the past 4 years. Just to be safe, I gave myself a month and a few weeks of zero intake to let the THC naturally detox out of my system.

Drink lots and lots of water. 

Drinking water is a way for people to detox their body and flush out their systems naturally. I started to increase my water intake. I made it a goal of mine to fill up and finish my 32 oz water bottle twice a day. I knew I was doing it right by how many times I was going to the bathroom throughout the day. 

Detox drinks help but aren’t always reliable. 

If a test is urgent or soon, using a detox drink is a method of cleansing your system quickly. Detoxes are uncertain because it’s hard to know if a detox drink will flush 100% of the THC in your system. Friends who have drank a detox to pass a drug test guided me to purchase one at a smoke shop or a dispensary. They also told me to drink a lot of water with a detox. I feel comfortable with drinking 32 oz of water before and after taking the detox. 

Important tips 

-Pee before going to the drug test, so that it’s not the first pee of the day in the cup. The first pee of the day can hold a lot of what your body processes overnight, so it can have a higher level of THC than pees that happen later in the day. 

CBD products can have traces of THC in them. THC helps promote CBD’s benefits for the body, so finding straight CBD products might not be as helpful or worth it. 

– Detoxing is a practice rather than a quick remedy. It’s more efficient to use the tips I provided consistently and over a long period of time to get a full THC detox. 

– Abstaining from intaking cannabis for a long period of time is the only way to be certain about passing a drug test. Sometimes drug tests come up with little to no warning, so a detox drink can be helpful in urgent situations but aren’t always reliable. 

What’s Up with Vapes?

written by Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Nina Compeau

Cannabis vape pens, nicotine vape oil and nicotine vape pens have been around for less than 10 years, and there has been little research on the safety of inhaling these products. Recently, vaping has caused a lot of fuss within the cannabis industry. Patients have reported variations of symptoms including cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and even weight loss. 

According to the most recent update by the CDC, 2,668 cases of illnesses related to nicotine or cannabis vapes have occurred, with 60 deaths having been reported so far. Among these patients, 1,782 of them reported which substance was being vaped, with 82% reported using THC containing products, while 33% reporting the use of only THC containing products. Of the affected, 50% reported where their product was sourced, with 16% having obtained them from retail businesses and 78% obtaining them from friends, online, or other dealers. 

The CDC reported that in 51 samples of lung fluid from those with a vape-related illness across 10 different states, 48 were found to have vitamin E acetate. While vitamin E acetate has been associated with vape-related illnesses, the CDC notes that there is not enough evidence to say it is the only chemical that should be of concern. The FDA states that vape injury cases are not affiliated with any single brand and more research is needed.

Many states have taken action by banning the sale of cannabis and/or nicotine vapes. Our own state of Oregon enacted a temporary six-month ban on October 4th, on the sale of all flavored vapes, both for cannabis and nicotine. However, an Oregon court of appeals established a pause on the ban on November 15th that is stated to last 60 days. As of February 5th, no ban on flavored vapes is in place. Places such as New York, Michigan and Montana also made attempts at banning the sale of vape pens, but they were also blocked by the courts. Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington all put in place temporary bans that are set to expire soon. San Francisco has banned all sales of nicotine e-cigarette products. After this, several states, including Oregon, have banned adding substances such as Vitamin E acetate into vapes, as well as implemented more testing requirements to look for this substance.

So how valid is this “vaping crisis?” 

We know that cannabis, specifically the terpene pinene and the cannabinoid THC, are both bronchodilators, meaning they help open up the airways to the lungs and may even help with conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma. What we don’t know is how the various extraction solvents, namely hydrocarbons such as butane, propane and hexane, along with other common additives, affect our lung health.

Within the cannabis industry, there are limited regulations for how an extract is supposed to be made. Because of this, companies are able to add synthetic and natural food-grade terpenes, something that we don’t know much about the safety of when inhaled. Common ingredients added to vapes to promote the flow of liquid to vapor include medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. Additives such as these have also never been tested for long term safety when inhaled, but all three of the above have been implicated in the “popcorn lung” crisis circa 2016. Failing to add MCT oil or botanically derived terpenes to the ingredient list can lead to consequences and negative attention from the OLCC, and for good reason.

Other concerns surrounding the epidemic of vaping go back to the material used for the process. The OLCC  does not require testing for mold, mildew, or heavy metals in any cannabis product that goes to market. Only four of thirty-three states that have legalized cannabis for recreation and/or medical use require heavy metal testing. Furthermore, the requirements for pesticides vary by state, with California having the strictest restrictions. These issues pose a concern because if the contaminated flower is processed for smoking or ingestion, certain pesticides or other chemicals are toxic or can turn toxic throughout the process of consumption. Although, with extraction processes that use solvents such as CO2 and butane, some extractors say that mold can be eliminated from the final product. However, this is tricky because while the toxin may not be live, the mold spores are still present in the finished product. States like Colorado test their cannabis for mold, which allows processors to take cannabis that tested positive for mold and process it into an extract for resale as long as that end product tests free of mold.

To prevent yourself from falling into the trap of a bad vape pen purchase here are some things you should know; 

Buy only from a licensed shop. A reputable and licensed source should be the only place you purchase vape pens from. This includes not buying CBD vape pens from online distributors. Research the brand! By keeping yourself up to date with the brand, you can likely look at pictures of their grows, team members, and final products. In addition to doing your research, an important thing to look for in a brand is ones that can tell you exactly what farm supplied the flower they extract from. Avoid flavored vape pens. We all know they’re tasty but added synthetic and natural terpenes are volatile and harsh compounds. There are also no regulations on their production and sale. Although some can be a bit pricey, look for Rosin or CO2 cartridges that have less than a 10-15% total terpene count. These processes not only capture the full cannabinoid and terpene profile of the flower, but they also are some of the cleanest methods to extract oil from the plant.

Some cartridge brands that are my personal favorites include; Artifact Extracts, Echo Electuary, Happy Cabbage Farms, Oregrown, White Label Extracts, and Willamette Valley Alchemy.

Updated information on the “vape crisis” can be found on the Center for Disease Control’s website, as well as from CannaSafe Labs and the American Chemical Society’s Cannabis Chemistry subdivision. 

CBD for Dummies

written by Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Nina Compeau

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding cannabidiol, or CBD, and while the FDA still restricts its use in food and beauty products, hundreds of new products have begun popping up since the enactment of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.  So with all these products filling the shelves, what is the deal and what exactly is legal? How can one tell a quality hemp CBD product from an inferior hemp CBD product? 

As of August 2019, the DEA has retracted the status of CBD derived from cannabis from the Schedule 1 list, which means many new (and old) companies are hopping on the CBD bandwagon. At the end of October, the United States Department of Agriculture sent out interim rules for hemp production and testing. Currently, farmers can be issued a license for hemp production under their state or tribes’ own hemp regulation program or through the USDA. Individual states still have the right to make the production of hemp and hemp products illegal. Even though some states still have hemp production bans in place, the USDA reassured producers in legal states that interstate transfers of hemp may not be seized in states where hemp production is illegal.

While people often confuse hemp and cannabis, they are the same species of plant. Hemp has served as a legal definition for cannabis with less than 0.3% THC for the better part of its cultivation in the United States. Both cannabis and “hemp” varieties have the ability to produce high amounts of CBD. Hemp can also be grown for seed and fiber, which produce oils for beauty and food products and material for cloth. CBD products can come in many different forms, some of the most popular being edibles, tinctures and topicals, such as lotions and salves. CBD has also been seen in hair care products, beauty products, beverages and even clothing. To note, products using hemp seed oil will not always contain CBD. If the product has only hemp seed oil, then there will be little to no chance of CBD being present in the formulation. If the product uses hemp seed oil as a carrier for the CBD oil, then there will be CBD (and potentially other cannabinoids) present.

So what exactly is it that makes a CBD product worthwhile? CBD products can be made using three different CBD infusions: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and isolate. Full-spectrum CBD is made using whole-plant extract and will contain at least the legal limit of total THC, 0.3%, and may contain other amounts of cannabinoids. Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum CBD, but with an extra step of extraction to pull out any THC that may be present. Isolated CBD is made from an extract that has had all other cannabinoids pulled from the oil and is typically at 99% purity. The number one thing consumers should look for in a CBD brand is those who have both full and broad-spectrum CBD products. While full-spectrum is highly recommended for help with pain, loss of appetite and nausea, it can also cause anxiety in some, as well as a positive drug test. If you are worried about a drug test, look for either broad-spectrum or isolate based products. Quality products include brands that source their flower from a trusted farm. Farms in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington all have rigorous testing standards for their hemp and many of the “craft” hemp farms are located in these states. In addition to this, companies that can supply you with a verifiable lab report from an ISO 17025 certified lab are at the top of the list for having a higher quality product.

Now, how exactly do these CBD products work? 

First, let us start by saying that there are two types of cannabinoid receptors present throughout the body, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found all throughout the body and are mainly located in the brain. CB2 receptors are mainly found in the peripheral nervous system, gut and immune cells. CBD has a weak binding affinity for both the CB1 and CB2 receptors and instead plays a more indirect role in regulating cannabinoid receptors. 

CBD is also known to mediate the intoxication affects many people feel with THC. This happens because CBD blocks THC molecules from binding to more receptors by attaching to what is called an allosteric binding site. Think of it as if you were trying to put a key into a keyhole that a substance like gum had been stuffed into.

Indirect pathways in which CBD interacts with include those involved in anxiety, depression, pain, cancer cell growth and even heart health. For anxiety, CBD has various mechanisms of action by which it may contribute to combating the symptoms. CBD can mediate the 5-HT1A receptor, which is one that serotonin interacts with. Serotonin is involved in a variety of actions such as anxiety, addiction, nausea, sleep, pain perception and vomiting. 

In addition, CBD can inhibit the reuptake of adenosine through the GPR55 receptor, which helps contribute anti-inflammatory effects, as well as the anti-anxiety effects. This inhibition increases the amount of adenosine within the synapse of a neurotransmitter, allowing for more transmission of adenosine through your system. Because of this, CBD can also help regulate coronary blood flow and oxygen flow throughout the heart muscles. Referencing back to the GPR55 receptor, when it is activated, it promotes the growth of cancerous cells. CBD is able to help fight the growth of cancerous cells by blocking the activation of the GRP55 receptor. Activation of the GPR55 can also be thought of as like a key fitting into a keyhole while blocking it can be thought of as the gum that blocks keys from fitting.

Overall, CBD is a wildly new research topic with human clinical trials just beginning to pop up in various countries. There is so much that we don’t know about the cannabis plant and scientists are itching at the possibilities for treatments of epilepsy, anxiety, psychotic disorders, cancer and pain. Everyone has their own unique endocannabinoid system, so it is important to remember that cannabis products are not a one size fits all deal. It may take some trial and error to find that perfect product, so don’t be afraid to try various quality brands. Now, this doesn’t mean that the products that didn’t work for you aren’t quality products, maybe there was just too much of a certain terpene or cannabinoid that your body doesn’t like, or maybe it was grown with outdoor flower and was contaminated with an allergen your body is sensitive to. Consumer safety is very important, and thus education is key. Brands that I personally recommend include; Sun God Medicinals, Angel Hemp (Angel Industries), Empower, grön and Wyld.

Silver Dabbers

words by Josh Delzell

A study by Dr. Benjamin Han, assistant professor of internal medicine at NYU, found that between 2015 and 2016, 9 percent of adult between the ages of 50 to 64 had at least tried cannabis in the past year, and 3 percent over 65 had also tried it within the same time period. While these percentages may seem small, it’s actually a statistic on the rise. In 2013, 7 percent of middle aged people had tried it, and 1.4 percent of those over 65. Is cannabis use normalizing for older Americans, or is the devils lettuce still too infamous for baby boomers and beyond?

At a minimum, there’s less of a stigma around cannabis use in certain areas than there once was. In 2018, 10 states — as well as the District of Columbia — passed laws legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, and several others pushed for new legislation or took the first step with legal medical use. The number of states that may pass legal cannabis is also rising in 2019, with states like New Mexico passing a bill that would legalize cannabis.

Doug Fuchs, a Eugene resident and older generation cannabis user, noted the rise in cannabis use for people his age.  “A lot of people my age started using [cannabis] in the past 4-5 years since it has been legal,” said Fuchs. “My inlaws are in their 80’s and lived through the anti-cannabis era. Now they are using it because of its medical purposes.”

Fuchs also helps run the Oregon Homegrown Challenge, in which contestants bring their own flower to be judged, and many of the participants fall into the baby boomer category — not only consuming cannabis, but taking the industry by the reigns. It’s like a brew contest, but for cannabis. Currently, Fuchs is working on establishing The Willamette Valley Homegrowers as a local cannabis gardening and network club, an organization Fuchs founded himself.

Medical relief is also a huge motivator behind older generations increasing use of cannabis. These properties come from the benefits that cannabinoids provide for easing common ailments like nausea, pain or spasticity. Medical cannabis also has shown to provide positive benefits for diseases like parkinson’s, which tends to affect people over 40.

The Alzheimers Society recognizes the ability of cannabis to soothe symptoms of alzheimer’s such as aggression or agitation. Dr. Joshua Briscoe of Duke University told NPR that even the most modest benefits of cannabis use would be beneficial to the elderly. “We prescribe substances that are far more dangerous than cannabinoids,” Briscoe told NPR during an interview on elderly use of cannabis. He also noted that the elderly are far more likely to experience side effects from medication in general.

While cannabis can be helpful for older patients, because of the strict federal regulations on cannabis, it’s hard to fully know the benefits and risks cannabis can have on elderly users. Dosage amounts are especially important for older consumers, because of metabolism rates slowing with age. Sticking with a smaller dosage until comfortable with cannabis is a good idea for older users to avoid potential side effects that can come with a heavy-handed edible or preroll.

Whether or not cannabis helps elderly users is still up for debate in an empirical sense, because of the lack of research, but anecdotal evidence has shown that it can help tremendously.

Cannabis use is increasing every day as states begin or continue the process of legalization, storefronts pop up across the nation and the stigma slowly fades. Baby boomers and older generations were raised with a dark image of cannabis, and old habits are undeniably hard to break. Despite this, education is spreading and the healing properties of cannabis are starting to dominate the conversation — regardless of your age.

That being said, maybe your parents have been using cannabis behind the scenes. I just found out only a couple months ago that my dad has been smoking since he was in his teens. Do you have a fun or hilarious story about learning that your parents use cannabis? Message us on Instagram or Facebook @greeneugenemag!

Runner’s High

words by Josh Delzell
photos by Connor Cox

Lazy, dull and careless; all stereotypes to describe stoners.  While it can be nice to give in to couch lock and watch a movie, not all “potheads” are lazy, despite what cultural stigmas may have you believe. Many stay active, and while the science is still murky on whether or not cannabis is beneficial to an active lifestyle, many swear by it. Active runners have said that it helps them push through the pain of a workout because of the high. Former NBA player, Matt Barnes, swears by cannabis use. Barnes said “All my best games I was medicated,” in an interview by Bleacher Report for their B/R x 4/20 piece. While most professional athletes are still hesitant to discuss their cannabis use, recreational athletes can talk more candidly about their consumption. Take Ruben Estrada for instance.

Estrada, a senior at the University of Oregon, has been active for most of his life. “Running has been a hobby of mine for a while,” he said. “I’ve played soccer since I was kid.” Estrada tries to get in a strenuous workout at least three days a week, and he does this all while utilizing cannabis.  He declared that he smokes every day,— following up with a clarification that he typically doesn’t smoke before classes, but occasionally indulges in the classic wake and bake on weekends.

Estrada even used to actively run after a smoke sesh. “It depends on the strain,” he said. “But with a sativa, a two hour plus run, even when the high was coming down, I still felt a little boost to add onto the runner’s high.” Estrada reflected on competing in the last Eugene Marathon. “My parents kind of made me do it. They didn’t force me or anything, but they started to really get into fitness by the end of my high school career.” Estrada felt as if he was getting ‘lazy’ while his parents were whipping themselves into shape. “My dad ran the Portland marathon, and my mom ran the half. I was like ‘dang, they’re in their 40’s, I can do this too!’” Estrada also wanted to challenge the ‘pothead’ stereotype in a way. “It was fun taking a bong rip and following up with a two and half hour run, and thinking, ‘most people won’t do this.’”

Estrada wanted to push back against the stigma of cannabis being detrimental to an active lifestyle, when in reality, it’s more common than you’d think.  “There are so many people that use it, that are professionals and are active on a daily basis.” Despite connotations, some people use cannabis and still go for a run or hit the gym. “I ran a marathon, and there are a lot of people who don’t smoke cannabis that didn’t. So, you can laugh your way to the bank knowing you’re doing stuff others aren’t even when they doubt your lifestyle.”

Estrada unfortunately suffered a knee injury during the marathon. “It was the classic, ‘mile 22 will get ya’,” he said. He suffered an LCL injury, and is currently doing rehabilitation for his knee, but unfortunately doesn’t run as much as he used to. However, Estrada continues to use cannabis as a pain reliever for his knee. “It’s a great pain reliever, it relaxes the pain.” THC and CBD have many anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it an effective pain reliever for active lifestyles. THC also relaxes the nervous system which can help with muscle spasms.  “I work for UO Concessions, so I worked all the football games, and I would end up running around 10 to 12 miles a game,” he said. “So at the end of the day, my knee was pretty sore… cannabis made it easier to go to sleep without a nagging injury keeping me up.” Estrada uses cannabis infused topical cream for his knee. He likens these topicals to Icy Hot. “You can slap it on your knee, back, shoulders or anything. It’s a great soother and relaxer,” he said.

Despite the benefits that cannabis provides to athletic lifestyles, it is still banned in most high profile athletic events. The Olympics and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) lists cannabis as a performance enhancing drug, due to “having the potential to enhance sport performance” and “representing an actual or potential health risk to the athlete,” according to the USADA Marijuana FAQ page. However, according to a study done by the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, no evidence was found of cannabis being a performance enhancing drug. They even touched on the potential cannabis could have to help with traumatic brain injury after further research. “There is no science that says it’s a performance enhancing substance in the context that it gives you an unfair advantage,” said Estrada. “There are ex-NBA players that have come out saying they used it, and it was their saving grace [for their injuries]. I would like to see a time where people  start to understand and empathize with the medical benefits from it, because I see it as a really therapeutic substance.”

With evidence that indicates cannabis can help athletes, it remains banned by high level athletic competitions. Many stigmas about cannabis come from a lack of knowledge and experience. People like Estrada challenge old stigmas and show that cannabis doesn’t make one lazy; how you use cannabis is up to you and your personal lifestyle. While reflecting on his experience in the Eugene Marathon, Estrada left with an anecdote that sums up what it’s like being an athlete that uses cannabis: “At the marathon I was wearing a t-shirt that had a pot leaf on it, and at mile 20 when I was feeling it a little, there was a group of people and one of the guys yells ‘Yeah! Powered by weed!’ and that was a motivator!”