Testing your DNA for Cannabis-related Traits?

A company called “Strain Genie” claims to be able to analyze your DNA and tell you how cannabis will affect you.  You may get information on how well you metabolize CBD as well as suggestions as to which terpenes you might most benefit from.  You don’t need to use marijuana to benefit from this.  Many of the results are relevant to hemp/CBD users as well.

StrainGenieIf you have used another service to analyze your DNA in the past you can save money and upload your raw data from that service to Strain Genie. If not, you can pay a lot more to spit into a tube and send it back to them. As I am writing this the costs are $150 if you send them your saliva or $30 if you upload your 23andMe raw data.

I had already tested my DNA through 23 and Me, so I opted for the $30 plan.  The report I got is awfully close to the sample report that they show on their site.   My results were a little more confusing, though.  Take these two sections:StrainGenieWarnings

Apparently I have a gene that slows the metabolism of substances like CBD, and I also have a gene that results in my breaking down CBD especially quickly.  What happens when these genes fight it out?  This information was not particularly helpful for me – since it seems like a wash.  They did modify their recommendations about what cannabis products I should choose.  They stated “Edibles Warnings Found! Based on these results, we will not recommend any edible products (including tinctures) below.”  What they did recommend are THC products that are also high in CBD, even though they knew that I live in an illegal state. StrainGenieRecommendations

Strain Genie seems to be part of the same company as Woahstork, a cannabis delivery service.  This service appears to be available in selected states only.  I’m not sure how closely Strain Genie’s recommendations match up with Woahstork’s selection of products, but Strain Genie pushes you pretty hard to sign up for the other service as well.

Is it worth it?  If you have already analyzed your DNA somewhere else, then it’s probably worth the $30 fee.  It gave me the idea of adding alpha pinene to the terpenes in my “Make your own CBD oil” blends.  They suggested that this might help my memory because I have slightly elevated risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. I’m not sure I’d plop down $150 for these somewhat-limited results.  A better bet would be to wait for 23 and Me to go on sale (which it does from time-to-time) and then get their more comprehensive genetic results.  Once you have those results you can send the raw file to Strain Genie along with $30.

CBD Companies Lose Payment Processors for a Time

Screenshot 2019-06-01 17.12.52

Notice on the Hemp Barn site 6/1/19.  The site is back up and processing payments.

[Edit late 6/2/19: Many hemp and CBD websites lost their payment processors on 5/31/19.  Early reports from some of the sites tied this to the 5/31 FDA public hearing on CBD.  It seems that the problems were more specifically related to the payment processing company Elavon shutting down CBD processing.  It is unclear at this time whether this really had anyting to do with the FDA hearing.]

The FDA held a public hearing on May 31st to get input on how to regulate the booming CBD industry.  Published reports describe a very wide range of views expressed, ranging from CBD advocates and scientists to anti-marijuana spokespersons.  One interesting fallout of the meeting is that credit card processors dropped many CBD companies overnight.  A product that was easily ordered on May 30th with a credit card was now unavailable from many sites unless you mailed a paper check.
Shopping cart full of cannabis
This sort of thing has happened before.  At least one site reported that they are switching banks and expect to accept credit cards again within a few days (using a bank headquartered in Asia). Some sites had no information (as of June 1st) and the buyer simply got a cryptic error message after entering credit card information.  This happened to me on one site.

CBD products are now available in many brick and mortar stores, so if you are running low try these sources.  In addition to CBD shops I have seen it advertised in Bed, Bath and Beyond and in Earth Fare supermarkets, for example.  You should expect that most online sources will have convenient ways to pay within a week or two.


The Amazon CBD Hemp Oil Paradox

You can buy CBD on Amazon.  You just can’t sell CBD on Amazon. When you search for CBD on Amazon you get results. None of the results list CBD in their ingredients. You will usually see “hemp extract” or “full spectrum hemp extract.” Sometimes you see “hemp oil.” Stay far away from “hemp seed oil.” Hemp seeds contain almost no cannabinoids. (The exception is that hemp seed oil is sometimes used as a carrier oil, possibly along with the more common MCT oil).

Inside The UPS Worldport Facility Ahead Of Earnings FiguresI know of a few legitimate brands selling CBD-rich full spectrum hemp oil on Amazon.  I will not reveal the names because I don’t want to contribute in any small way to their getting banned.  There are also other brands that have been tested by a third-party and found to contain no CBD.  What’s a buyer to do?

Amazon’s seller policy states:

  • Drug listings must not be for controlled substances or products containing controlled substances, such as:
    • Products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a Schedule I Controlled Substance, including but not limited to:
    • Rich Hemp Oil containing cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Products that have been identified as containing CBD by LegitScript
  • Hemp products containing Resin or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Hemp (or any cannabis Sativa spp. strain) seeds capable of germination
  • Anything listed in Schedules I, II, III, IV or V of the Controlled Substances Act

As CBD moves off Schedule I it may be accepted by Amazon.  For now products containing CBD must be listed as “hemp oil,” which is an accurate description of what is contained in these oils/tinctures.

One company that I have bought from before recently began offering a few of their products on Amazon. In their email announcing this they said:

“they made us retouch the word CBD off and replace with “Hemp Oil”, but you will receive your normal CBD with 300, 900, 1800mg of actual CBD content.”

Does it really contain CBD?

One site claims to have tested some brands from Amazon and found no CBD in 6 out of 7 hemp oil products tested  The site CBDlabresult.net appears to show thumbnails of COAs (certificates of analysis) from an independent lab.  Unfortunately the COA pictures are heavily cropped.  Interestingly, the only other article on their site is a positive review of a CBD oil that you can buy (from them?).  I’d trust the site more if it had more content.  The domain was registered 12/29/2018 and the post about Amazon CBD testing was dated the following day. They waited a month to write a positive review of the other site that sells CBD.

Since there are lots of places to buy CBD it is probably better to avoid Amazon unless you have other independent details about the brand. If you are not sure contact the company and ask them what is in the product they sell on Amazon.  You won’t find COAs on Amazon since they don’t allow CBD to be sold there.  Look for vetted sites that include independent certificates of analysis.  Look online for sales and coupon codes. When you find a good brand, stick with them.



Spike Jonze “The New Normal”

Spike Jonze has produced a two minute history of cannabis for MedMen.  It puts things into perspective.

What makes a good CBD Hemp Flower? A Tale of two Lifters

Starseed Botanicals has arguably some of the best CBD hemp flower on the market. When Hayden Gerson started the company they sold various botanical products. Now they focus on well-cured top shelf hemp flower (the CBD equivalent of marijuana bud). Unlike marijuana bud, hemp flower can be bought with a credit card and shipped to your door. The 2018 Farm Bill made it Federally legal in the United States as long as the delta 9 THC content is under .3%.


Heavy Lifter Lab Results

What good is cannabis without the THC?  A growing number of fans are eager to tell you. Visit Reddit’s r/hempflowers forum to read their stories. The CBD provides a quick hit of relaxation without the intoxication of high THC flower. [As of late 2019 CBG Hemp Flower is also available online,]

I ordered an ounce of “Heavy Lifter” CBD flower from Starseed a few weeks ago and they were out.  Instead of letting me know this, they “upgraded” me to their Lifter Private Reserve (PR).  When I looked over the lab tests I saw that Lifter PR had 11% CBD – a little over half of the CBD content of the Heavy Lifter (which had 19% CBD).  Terpene content was also lower. I felt like I had been shortchanged.  I’m vaping hemp flower as an economical way to medicate with CBD, and this company substituted a product with half of the active ingredients.

I contacted Starseed Botanicals and Hayden called me back. He really sang the praises of Lifter PR, telling me about the plot of land that it grew on and the care that was taken to hand trim it and cure it. He stated that it had “strong effects” even though cannabinoid and terpene values were much lower than the Heavy Lifter. (How could this be? I was skeptical.) He told me that a few people had been “upgraded” when their supply of Heavy Lifter ran out temporarily. He shipped me the ounce of Heavy Lifter that I ordered for free and told me to keep the Lifter PR. He suggested that I compare the two.

I did.  Lifter is a strain of high CBD hemp flower from Oregon CBD Seeds.  They describe Lifter this way:

“Our goal was to develop an extremely high oil content hemp plant with dense, weighty flowers. After the initial cross (our Special Sauce mom to a very high content, new world Haze line), we honed in on our target after 3 additional generations of inbreeding and careful selection to remove unwanted chemotypes and phenotypes. The resulting mom carries a farnesene dominant terpene profile, has incredible vegetative vigor and grows like a bush with rock-hard flowers. The resulting cross of SH50 and ERB gives us Lifter (in homage to the famous heirloom tomato, Mortgage Lifter).” – oregoncbdseeds.com

Farnesene has anti-inflammatory and tumor-inhibiting properties. It is found in green apples and tumeric. It has a calming effect and may help suppress spasms.  I have trouble smelling and tasting subtle scents and flavors in cannabis.  I don’t smell any green apple. Most hemp flower smells the same to me.  Tasting notes for Scotch whisky are similar.  I can certainly tell a peaty Islay from a sweeter Highland Scotch, but I don’t get the subtle notes that you read about on the label.

I do notice whether the flower is smooth or rough.  I usually taste a piney flavor in the first few puffs. The Heavy Lifter was a little harsh to vape. It started out fine, but the vapor gave me some dryness and irritation at the back of my throat.  I did feel relaxed and I felt pain relief.  The Lifter Private Reserve was smooth and flavorful.  I did not get any throat irritation.  I felt effects, but they were not a strong as the effects of the Heavy Lifter.

So I guess it boils down to what you are looking for. If you are looking to dose CBD then Heavy Lifter is a good choice. With 19.3% CBD and 23.2% total cannabinoids you are getting 193 milligrams of CBD for each gram of flower. You are also getting 2mg of myrcene and 2mg of beta-Caryophyllene and who knows how much farnesene.  If you are looking for flavor and a smooth smoke or vape then consider the Lifter Private Reserve.  I am trying the two blended together and that seems to be working out for me.

Starseed Botanicals has lowered their prices a bit.  You can get a 15% discount if you use cryptocurrency.  You can also use the coupon code CANNAPHARM to get 15% off.  Like many coupon codes a small amount also supports this site. Please do not post this code on other sites.