CBD Nation – Full Review

CBD Nation is an excellent documentary about CBD and cannabis that most people will never watch.  You can watch it on Prime Video for $4.99 (rental) or $7.99 (purchase). CBDNationCosts

Maybe it was supposed to be released in theaters. Maybe it will be free next year.  It’s worth paying this small price to watch this year.  If you have friends and family who are skeptical about medical cannabis, buy it for them as a gift.  

The film starts with a study that found high levels of pharmaceuticals in bay mussels.  The obvious contrast is with the cannabis plant that can heal without many of the side-effects of harsh drugs. We then hear true stories of patients, including young Jayden David who had life-threatening seizures.  The legal medical cannabis industry is a patient-driven phenomenon.  Harbourside Medical Center in Berkley provided Jayden with a CBD tincture in 2011.  This medication virtually eliminated his seizures.


Jayden David’s epilepsy was controlled with CBD from cannabis.

Raphael Mechuloum is interviewed briefly at strategic points throughout the film. Mechuloum is the Israeli researcher who discovered THC also discovered the seizure-blocking effects of CBD 35 years ago.

Medical cannabis and CBD are presented as alternatives to harsh pharmaceuticals; and as promising treatments for difficult syndromes such as Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD). This leads to a presentation of the endocannabinoid system – our body’s natural system that helps maintain balance. Our bodies produce natural cannabinoids that maintain the balance of other systems in the body.  Cannabis appears to be a plant that contains substances that help our bodies maintain and restore balance.


Rylie Maedler was the inspiration for Rylie’s Law legalizing medical cannabis for children in Delaware

Rylie Maedler was a young girl when she developed an aggressive bone tumor that began destroying the bones in her face. Her mother began researching alternative treatments for shrinking tumors and started Rylie on cannabis oil.  Surprisingly these treatments worked to regenerate the bones in her face and to shrink the tumor. She did not require the reconstructive surgery that is usually needed.  The Delaware legislature unanimously passed “Rylie’s Law” to legalize medical cannabis for children like Rylie.

Veterans with PTSD are then featured. Colin Wells is a founder of the group “Veterans Walk and Talk” who use medical cannabis and hike several times a week in Southern California.  The founder of Irwin Naturals then describes his mission to offer CBD at reasonable prices.

The film is professionally produced and it makes a strong case for cannabis medicine. I wish this documentary could be widely viewed without paying a fee, but I guess that’s not realistic.  Check it out on Amazon Prime Video or Apple Video.  It’s worth the small cost of admission.

How to make your own Green Dragon Cannabis Tincture

Before prohibition cannabis was available at drug stores in the form of a cannabis tincture.  These tinctures contained alcohol infused with cannabis.  Neither CBD nor THC are water soluble, so either alcohol or oil are needed as a solvent for the activecannabis-tincture2ingredients in cannabis.  Today the word tincture is sometimes used to refer to CBD oil as well as to alcohol-based tinctures.  The principle is the same. Cannabis is first heated to “decarb” or decarboxylate the plant matter.  This is the process that converts the inactive THCA to the intoxicant THC. It also converts CBDA to CBD.  After this decarb process the plant material is soaked in grain alcohol and one of several techniques is used to speed up the process of infusing the chemicals from cannabis into the alcohol.

I’ll list three methods that can be used at home. These techniques can be used with CBD hemp flower or with marijuana bud.  Before you start you should decarb most or all of the plant material (unless you want to include some THCA and/or CBDA in the tincture).  Decarboxilation is a process of heating cannabis to convert THCA to THC and CBDA to CBD.  If you are smoking or vaping you are decarbing the material as you smoke or vape.

The slow method: 

  • Mix your flower or extract in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (such as Everclear)
  • Close the jar and let it sit for a few weeks, shaking it once a day
  • After a few weeks, filter it with a coffee filter

The shake method:

  • Grind your herb finely, either before or after decarb. Mix in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (such as Everclear)
  • Shake for 3 minutes
  • Strain the mixture and store

The high tech method:

  • Use your Magical Butter machine or an Infuzium 420.  These machines make infused oils and butter, but they simplify the process for tinctures as well.  I chose the Infuzium 420 because it has good reviews, it’s cheaper, and it allows me to make smaller batches if I wish.
  • Just dump in the alcohol and the herb (grinding not necessary) and push the button for tinctures.  The machine heats the mixture safely and stirs it for you. Strain the end product with the strainer included with the machine.  Straining again through a coffee filter removes even more of the fine solids.

If you are using hemp flower to make a CBD tincture you should consider including some raw (not decarbed) plant material in addition to the decarbed material.  CBDA is a COX2 inhibitor and may inhibit some tumor growth.  Similarly, THCA is being studied for a number of health benefits, including treating some seizures.

Whichever method you choose you will end up with a tincture that may burn if you put it under your tongue.  If it does, then take it with a sip of water and swish it around in your mouth for a minute or so before swallowing.  Adding a drop of peppermint extract and a splash of stevia will make it easier to tolerate too.  Putting it in the freezer for 24 hours and then straining it through a coffee filter will remove some of the bitterness too.

You can roughly calculate the dose if you have good lab results on your cannabis.  You will likely capture 75% or so of the CBD or THC, so include this in your calculations.

References: Leafly guide to tinctures.

Cannabis sativa vs. indica vs. ruderalis – What’s in a (Latin) name?

The few times I’ve visited dispensaries in legal states the cannabis products were always described as Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica or hybrids.  In Alaska I tried two gummies and found them to be very different.  One was described as:

“707 HEADBAND: INDICA  |  18.7-21.2% THC. An indica dominant hybrid known for its potency, 707 Headband has uplifting and happy effects while also providing deep relaxation. Originating from Humbolt County (area code 707) in Northern California, Headband is a combination of NY City Sour Diesel, OG Kush and Master Kush.”

The other was described as:

“DURBAN POISON: SATIVA  |  17.2% THC. Known as the “espresso of cannabis”, Durban Poison is one of the most sought after strains in the world. Whether you’re exploring the Alaskan wilderness or just want to vacuum your house, this pure sativa will get have you ready for activity. Listed as one of the 25 Top Strains of All Time by Hightimes Magazine.”

I did find them to be quite different.  The “Sativa” was definitely more activating and made me a little paranoid.  The “Indica dominant hybrid” was more sedating and I was pretty mellow.   I preferred the Indica – but what was it I was really preferring?
Traditionally Cannabis sativa was thought to be taller, with thinner leaves and more uplifting – for daytime use.  Cannabis indica was shorter with fatter leaves and more sedating – for nighttime use.  Cannabis ruderalis was a weedy “roadside” cannabis from Eastern Europe and Russia that bloomed more quickly than the other varieties.  Genes from ruderalis have been bred into some modern varieties to produce “auto-flowering” plants that produce flowers more quickly, regardless of day length.

Lexis-Olivier Ray interviewed Aaron Riley, president and co-founder of Van Nuys-based Cannasafe, one of the nations most prominent cannabis testing facilities for an article in LA Taco. Riley reported that

“Almost all of [the] current crops have been crossed and are somewhat hybridized. Also the terpenes, which really deliver the effects associated with the indicia-sativa argument, are present in both strains,”

All cannabis (including marijuana and hemp) is now considered botanically to be Cannabis sativa.  Differences between strains are largely due to different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes (and possibly other substances).  This is the same “entourage effect” that results in full-spectrum cannabis products being more effective than isolated substances like CBD isolate and THC isolate.

According to Riley:

The Entourage Effect is what happens with different combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids. This is why smoking cannabis that contains different cannabinoids and terpenes is better and more effective than drugs like Marinol which is Synthetic THC Delta 9,”

So how do you know what to buy?  Buy cannabis that includes Certificates of Analysis (COAs) from independent testing laboratories.  These certificates should list the cannabinoids and terpenes present, as well as whether any harmful chemicals were detected.  Make notes on how different terpenes affect you and read up on different strains.  It’s also fine to use “Indica” vs “Sativa” and a rule-of-thumb to let you know if a strain is sedating (indica) or uplifting and possibly paranoia-inducing (sativa) – but be aware that these labels may not reflect the actual genetics of the plant.


The U.S. Government’s Patent on Cannabis for Health

At the same time that the U.S. government maintained that cannabis was an illegal drug with no medical value the U.S. Department of Health and Human services took out a patent on “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.” This apparent hypocrisy is the result of scientists and politicians having very different agendas. The patent was awarded to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in October 2003.  It was filed four years earlier by scientists who worked at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

USPatientIn the U.S. a new use for an existing product that is “new, useful, and non-obvious” may be patented. In theory the patent holder can claim exclusive use of the product for that “use” and charge people money to license it. When government employees apply for a patent for work that they did during their work hours the government gets the patent. In some cases they are allowed to share in some of the profits from the patient in a limited way. Aidan Hampson, Julius Axelrod, and Maurizio Grimaldi saw promise in CBD and THC 20 years ago.  In their patent filing they wrote that:

“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new-found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, Such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, Such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, Such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsons disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, Such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”


Since that time cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to be a neuroprotectant and to have powerful anti-seizure properties.  THC has been found to dissolve beta amyloid plaques in the brain, one theorized cause for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Will the government try to collect their money?  I guess that’s theoretically possible, but it’s hard to square this obvious acknowledgement that cannabis has value with the continued prohibition at the Federal level.  Some people in the government knew about the medical value of cannabis 20 years ago.  How come they didn’t tell the rest of us?

[edited 3/17/19 to add links to the authors’ biographies]

Spike Jonze “The New Normal”

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

Behind the Scenes Developing CBD-rich Hemp

Seth and Eric Crawford formed Oregon CBD Seeds to develop CBD-rich varieties of hemp. They bred their signature male “Early Resin Berry” (ERB) with a number of varieties of high CBD cannabis to get varieties such as Special Sauce, Lifter, Hawaiian Haze, Elektra, Suver Haze, and Sour Space Candy.  Seth explains the process and gives us hints of what’s to come:

Farm Bill Confusion

Hemp farmers and hemp smokers cheered when president Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill in December 2018. Industrial hemp is now legal in all 50 states, and interstate commerce in hemp is also legal. The new law also appeared to legalize derivatives of hemp including CBD. The DEA could no longer treat CBD as an illegal drug like THC.

At some point people read the fine print. Industrial hemp remained defined in the following manner:

The term `hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. 
 and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all 
 derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and 
 salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 
 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on 
 a dry weight basis.

This means that hemp-derived products, such as CBD oil, still had to contain less than 0.3% delta 9 THC. All such products on the U.S. market already contain such low amounts.

States and Indian Tribes are allowed to manage hemp growing in their states. Section 297 of the new law outlines the guidelines for these state programs. The section that concerned some hemp flower enthusiasts on Reddit is below:

 [must develop]a procedure for testing, using post- decarboxylation or other similarly reliable methods, delta- 9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration levels of hemp produced in the State or territory of the Indian tribe.

Essentially the states and tribes are required to have a “reliable method” to assure that the industrial hemp being grown is really legal hemp, not illegal marijuana. They list “post-decarboxylation” as one example of a reliable method. Presumably it is not the only reliable method.

Currently available industrial hemp flowers sometimes contain both very low levels of delta 9 THC and very low levels of THCA. When hemp flower is smoked or vaped some of the THCA is converted to THC. If all hemp plants were tested post-decarboxylation the effective THC levels might be higher than the legal limit. Some of today’s legal hemp might not pass the new test.

The new law does not actually require post-decarb testing. It says nothing about THCA. It’s too soon to know exactly how the .3% figure will be applied this time next year.

U.S. Hemp is currently grown in demonstration programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. These programs are expected to continue and states will be able to expand them this year. Hemp is being grown for seed, for fiber, and for CBD. The strains of cannabis (hemp) grown for these different purposes are quite different from each other. As states continue to develop these programs we should see more hemp on the market in 2019.  We just don’t know exactly how potent it will be.