‘CBD Nation’ trailer hints at a great Documentary

The documentary film CBD Nation premiers August 25th on Amazon Video, iTunes, and other streaming services.  Forbes described the film this way:

Featuring leading experts in cannabis and medicine, including Raphael Mechoulam—the Israeli scientist who discovered THC, the endocannabinoid system and the therapeutic efficacy of CBD to treat medical conditions—the 83-minute film exposes 60 years of often ignored published reports and ongoing research.

The trailer gives a pretty good idea of what is covered.  Maybe this will help even more people recognize that cannabis does have healing properties.

The Easiest Cannabis Edibles

If you are interested in edibles there is one really easy way to get started. The easiest edibles are “firecrackers.”  These consist of graham crackers, peanut butter and cannabis. Chocolate graham crackers work well, and I’ve also seen recipes that use Nutella instead of peanut butter.  If you are using decarbed hemp cannabis (cannabis with <.3% THC) you can probably start with a level teaspoon of decarbed “trim” or “shake” plant material.  You can also use ground flower, but start with a little less. If you are using high THC cannabis (marijuana) you should definitely start with less, and eat only a small portion of the resulting product – waiting at least an hour to gauge the effects.  (I haven’t personally tried this with high THC cannabis.)

Cover one side of the graham cracker with smooth peanut butter.  Sprinkle the cannabis onto the peanut butter and close the graham cracker carefully.  As long as you decarbed the cannabis first, you are ready to eat!

firecrackers - edible cannabis

A firecracker made with chocolate graham crackers and peanut butter.

If the cannabis is not decarbed then you need to heat the firecracker in an oven or toaster oven for around 20 minutes.   Wrap the little sandwiches in aluminum foil and place in a pre-heated oven. The temperature should be at least 300 degrees but not over 350.

Edibles can take between 1 and 2 hours to reach full effects and the effects last longer than inhaled cannabis.  With CBD you won’t feel much, but possibly a deep feeling of relaxation, sometimes referred to as a “body high.” You may need to experiment with how much plant material to use.  Even decarbed hemp flower contains some THC along with the CBD. It’s possible to become impaired (high) eating firecrackers made with hemp if you use too much.

You can even use ABV (already been vaped) plant material in a firecracker – but you will need to use more of it.  When you vaped your cannabis you heated it, but you probably didn’t evaporate all of the CBD or THC.  Using this ABV material in an edible allows you to get the rest.


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.


Qi and The Endocannabinoid System

I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the endocannabinoid system (ECS).  This is apparently one of the body’s more complex systems – on the level of the digestive system, the nervous system, and the immune system.  It is believed to play a major role in maintaining homeostasis (balance) in the mind and body.  Where would I start writing about the digestive system (for example)?  How could I do it justice in this format? To get a sense of the complexity of the ECS see this 2012 “overview.”

shutterstock_623123291.jpgEndo stands is short for “endogenous”, which means originating within the body. Cannabinoids are the substances that activate the ECS.  We are more familiar with phytocannabinoids (plant-derived cannabinoids) such as THC and CBD.  After Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam and his associates discovered THC in 1963 (and later CBD) they began to search for how these substances worked. In 1991 they discovered that THC binds to certain sites in the brain and nervous system and they called these “CB1 receptors.” In 1992 the team found the natural substance that binds to this receptor and named it “anandamide.”  The team found another receptor, mostly in the gut and the immune system, and named it CB2.  They discovered the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) as a substance that naturally binds to the CB2 receptor (also binding to a lesser extent to the CB1 receptor).

So if the phytocannabinoid THC binds to the CB1 receptor, does the phytocannabinoid CBD bind to the CB2 receptor?  It would be great if it were that simple, but it is not. CBD does not bond directly to either CB1 or CB2 receptors but it appears to increase the level of natural cannabinoids (endocannabinoids). It is also a “negative allosteric modulator” to the CB1 receptor, actually reducing THC’s ability to bind with CB1.  This may be one reason that CBD seems to mellow THC’s high and decrease paranoia.  CBD also acts on chemicals like serotonin.  CBD’s ability to relieve pain is likely due to a different mechanism entirely.  It is the result of activating transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) receptors.

Got all that?  Me neither.

What I do get is the idea of homeostatis.  Wikipedia defines homeostasis as

“the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant. Examples of homeostasis include the regulation of temperature and the balance between acidity and alkalinity (pH).”

The ECS appears to be responsible for regulating balance in the body.  Dr. Ethan Russo believes that some challenging syndromes, such as migraine headaches and fibromyalgia, are actually due to an endocannabinoid deficiency.  If our body produces too little anandamide and 2-AG (and other endocannabinoids) it may result in painful syndromes such as these. The implication is that cannabinoids may eventually be part of a treatment for migraines and fibromyalgia.

In China migraines and fibromyalgia might be addressed as imbalances in Qi (pronounced “chi”). Qi is the concept of vital energy.  Acupuncture meridians are thought of as channels for Qi in the body.  Qigong and Tai Chi are techniques for improving Qi.

Western Medicine is missing a system of vital energy.  Most systems of medicine around the world recognize the importance of this vital energy for the mind and body. The concepts of yin and yang are important components of Qi, and it is critical that yin and yang are balanced.  In Japan vital energy is called Ki.  In India it is prana.   Some Western medicine doctors understand that “the will to live” is an important component in someone’s battle against a chronic or terminal illness, but that’s about the only time you hear anything approaching this concept in the West.

Is the endocannabinoid system the same as Qi?  Do they at least overlap?  What do you think?



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]

Drug Testing and CBD

Some people medicating with CBD are subject to workplace drug testing.  The intent of such testing is to assure that people don’t work while under the influence of intoxicating drugs.  This works well for drugs that are water soluble.  Drugs like cocaine and heroin wash out of your system within 2-4 days.  LabCorp reports that THC is detectable for 2-7 days after a single use and 1-2 months after chronic use. 1.  This puts people who use medical cannabis (hemp or marijuana) at a disadvantage.


A negative initial test for THC. Note the faint pink band.

Urine drug testing is usually a two step process. The first step is an inexpensive immunoassay test. Immunoassays measure the formation of antibody-antigen complexes.  They can produce false positives.  If you test positive for THC you will usually then be given a more-expensive gas chromatography test that can tell more precisely what is in your urine.

People taking CBD isolate should not test positive on any urine drug screen.  If your job has a strict policy and tests frequently then you should probably only take CBD isolate. Multiple studies have found that CBD isolate works, but that the dose needs to be very precise.  CBD that is accompanied by other substances naturally found in cannabis works over a much wider dose range.

The image to the right shows the results of a $1.00 home urine drug test (Easy@home brand from Amazon) that uses the same technology as the initial tests used in many workplaces.  If no bar at all shows up next to the “T” then it is considered a positive test.  Any bar at all is supposed to represent a negative test. The example shown is the result when I was using CBD isolate supplemented by a small amount of CBD hemp flower twice a week. It’s technically negative, but the lower band is awfully weak. That’s probably because hemp flower contains THC-A that converts to THC when smoked or vaped. This is in addition to the small amount of THC that is usually in flower.If it is essential that you pass urine drug tests then you should probably avoid hemp flower.



It’s comforting to know that I currently test “negative” for THC, but I’m not confident that every lab technician would read this as a negative result (even though they should). To the left is an example of the instructions for a different brand of test that uses the same technology.

Should you test at home?  You shouldn’t need to if your job doesn’t test, or if you only use CBD isolate products.  If your job tests, and you use full spectrum hemp products, (even hemp oil from places like Amazon that don’t explicitly list CBD as an ingredient) you should consider testing yourself from time-to-time.

1. https://www.labcorpsolutions.com/images/Drugs_of_Abuse_Reference_Guide_Flyer_3166.pdf