High Recommendations: Delta Nine Fruit Punch

written and photographed by Renee Thompson

*Edibles should only be consumed by consenting adults/medical users, and make sure to store them in a secure area away from children. *

I started dabbling in medicated beverages once I moved to Eugene for school. As someone who uses THC and CBD to manage a few chronic conditions, I thought that they were a great cost-effective way to get relief. Most beverages cost around $12-16 before taxes, and some contain several servings per bottle. The first beverage I started getting regularly had a blackberry lemonade flavor and worked relatively fast for an edible. Similar to syrups and other tinctures, you mix small portions of these beverages into a juice or soda, wait about 10-40 minutes, and enjoy a nice calming experience.

One day while looking through the Space Buds Dispensary delivery list, I found another medicated concoction that caught my eye: The Delta Nine Fruit Punch Beverage. It only cost $14, before taxes, and was at my door in under forty minutes. The red syrup-like beverage was packed in a cough syrup like bottle and smelled like a pineapple-cherry lollipop. The Delta 9 company also make the same beverage in orange and pink lemonade flavors and some of their products are made in Bend, Oregon.

The feeling I experienced with the recommended tablespoon dose, which contains roughly 4.1 milligrams of THC and 3.7 milligrams of CBD, left me with a sense of calm, creativity, euphoria, and a light tingle on my tongue. I personally like to use these products for pain and stress management, and Fruit Punch worked wonders in those departments after about 25 minutes. Without using other THC or CBD products, these sensations and feelings lasted for about three hours. But, I have found that when used before smoking, edibles make it so that I need less flower to elevate me to where I’d like to be. Consuming products like Fruit Punch from Delta 9 can be a great way to curb spending on flower, which at times can be pricey.

After several trials, I think my favorite mixture is using the Fruit Punch Beverage with POG, also known as passion fruit-orange-guava juice. This mixture is like the ultimate fruit punch since the natural and artificial flavors in the medicated beverage pair well with the tropical flavors in the juice. The Fruit Punch product also tastes great with Sprite on ice. The carbonation works wonderfully with the fruit flavors and tastes a lot like Hawaiian Punch with Sprite. Since the product itself only has 1.4g of sugar per serving, the sweetness from the soda mixture is not overbearing. But, for those looking for a less sweet option, I’d recommend mixing the product with a homemade aqua fresca or a store bought one like the Santa Cruz Passion Fruit Mango Agua Fresca.

While consuming edibles of any kind, I strongly suggest starting small. In the case of the Fruit Punch Beverage, I would suggest a newbie to start with a half tablespoon and wait up to two hours before having more. This strategy can help you avoid the infamous “I’m too high” edible experience which occurs when you have too much too quickly. To avoid this, try planning calming activities, like drawing or yoga, to do for once the edible kicks in. More experienced users should start with the recommended serving size, but if needed can double that dosage to have a more intense experience. Since the body processes liquids faster than solid foods, medicated beverages can be a great option for those of us that hate waiting for edibles to activate. I highly recommend it for those looking for a tasty way to mix up their routine.

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

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.