Historical Cannabis Use in China

Hemp has a long history in China. At one point it was so prized that the Chinese called their country “the land of mulberry and hemp.” Cannabis was a symbol of power over evil and in emperor Shen Nung’s pharmacopoeia it was called the “liberator of sin.” The Chinese believed that the legendary Shen Nung first taught the cultivation of hemp in the 28th century B.C. Shen Nung is credited with developing the sciences of medicine from the curative power of plants. So highly regarded was Shen Nung that he was deified and today he is regarded as the Father of Chinese medicine.

A Chinese Taoist priest wrote in the fifth century B.C. that cannabis was used in combination with Ginseng to set forward time in order to reveal future events. It is recorded that the Taoists recommended the addition of cannabis to their incense burners in the 1st century A.D. and that the effects thus produced were highly regarded as a means of achieving immortality. In the early Chinese Taoist ritual, the fumes and odors of incense burners were said to have produced a mystic exaltation and contribution to well being.

Marijuana’s Surprising Effects on Athletic Performance

When Olympic snowboarder Ross Rebagliati tested positive for a small amount of marijuana in his blood at the 1998 Japan games, his first-place finish was temporarily called into question.
 
But THC, the main mind-altering chemical in marijuana, wasn’t even included in the International Olympic Committee’s banned-substances list at the time (it is now, but at a much higher level than the one he tested at). Rebagliati was allowed to keep his victory and medal. (He is now in the medical-marijuana business.)
 
Even though it’s on the banned list now, does anyone really think of marijuana as a performance-enhancing drug in the first place?
 
After all, as Robin Williams later joked, “the only way it’s a performance-enhancing drug is if there’s a big f—ing Hershey bar at the end of the run,” right?
 
Maybe not.
A renewed appreciation for nature is also not an uncommon side effect of cannabis use.
It turns out marijuana might actually help some people perform better at certain sports.
 
This may sound crazy. After all, we’re all familiar with the image of the couch-locked, Cheetos-covered stoner.
 
Yet there are people that say training while high has helped them unlock new performance gains.
 
In November, Men’s Journal interviewed elite triathlete Clifford Drusinsky, a Colorado gym owner who also leads training sessions fueled by marijuana edibles.
 
“Marijuana relaxes me and allows me to go into a controlled, meditational place,” Drusinsky told Men’s Journal. “When I get high, I train smarter and focus on form.”

Historical Cannabis Use in India, Pt. 2

One of the most commonly consumed preparations of cannabis in India is called Bhang. Bhang is offered to Shiva images and statues throughout India, especially on the festival of Shivratri.

Cannabis is such an important part of the religious culture of Benaras, the main city of Shiva worship, that it is sold in government-run shops and used by pilgrims and common folks alike, being part of the religious culture.

In reviewing the use of cannabis in India, the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission conducted a government study on the matter and made the following conclusions in their report: “…It is inevitable that temperaments would be found to whom the quickening spirit of bhang is the spirit of freedom and knowledge. In the ecstasy of bhang the spark of the Eternal in man turns into the light the murkiness of matter.

“…Bhang is the Joy-giver, the Sky-filler, the Heavenly-Guide, the Poor Man’s Heaven, the Soother of Grief…No god or man is as good as the religious drinker of bhang…The supporting power of bhang has brought many a Hindu family safe through the miseries of famine. To forbid or even seriously restrict the use of so gracious an herb as the hemp would cause widespread suffering and annoyance and to large bands of worshipped ascetics, deep-seated anger. It would rob the people of a solace on discomfort, of a cure in sickness, of a guardian whose gracious protection saves them from the attacks of evil influences…”

Ayurvedic and Indian doctors still prescribe cannabis to treat a range of conditions. Slowly the west is finally beginning to recognize the true values of this remarkable plant.

How to Decarboxylate Cannabis

Raw cannabis contains a lot of THCA which is not psychoactive. When you smoke weed, the THCA molecule loses its carboxylic group (COOH) in the form of water vapor and carbon dioxide and becomes THC. In short, THCA becomes THC and your cannabis becomes psychoactive. This process is called decarboxylation.

When you smoke or vaporize marijuana, you decarboxylate the cannabis by heating it. If you ingest cannabis and want the full psychoactive effect, you need to first decarb your cannabis before you cook with it.

 

Temperature

The lower the temperature, the longer it’s going to take to decarb your cannabis. Keep in mind that a lower temperature will allow you to lose less terpenes.

 

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are the pungent oils that color your cannabis with distinctive flavors such as berry, mint, citrus and pine. There are many medicinal benefits to terpenes; some will successfully relieve your stress while others will promote focus and awareness.

 


Table – Decarboxylation Temperatures and Times
Temperature Heating Mode Plant Material Time Kief / Hash Time Cannabis Oil
310F Oven 10 – 18 minutes 5 – 10 minutes
250F Hot oil bath Until bubbles taper off
240F Oven 50 – 60 minutes 30 – 40 minutes
212F Boiling water bath 90 minutes 90 minutes

 


Decarboxylation Methods:

Tip: Grind your cannabis first! A course grind will allow your weed to evenly dry without losing potency from over grinding.

Flower

  1. Preheat your oven (see table above). Use an oven thermometer to check the temperature.
  2. Sprinkle your cannabis in a pie plate and then cover it well with silver foil by crimping the foil along the edge of the plate.
  3. Place in the oven (see table above) – less time for older drier material, more for fresher material.
  4. After required time, turn the oven off, and remove cannabis. Let it cool down slowly before you unseal the container to allow any cannabinoid/terpenes vapor to reabsorb into the cannabis.

Keif/Hash

  1. Preheat oven (see table)
  2. Sprinkle hash/keif on pie plate, cover with silver foil and crimp foil along edge of plate. Place sealed dish in oven for (see table).
  3. Remove plate and let it cool down slowly without removing cover to allow any vapors to reabsorb into cannabis.

Boiling Bag method:

  1. Place the cannabis flower/keif/hash into a boilable cooking pouch. Seal it.
  2. Place in boiling water for 90 minutes. Make sure water does not boil dry.
  3. Take bag out of water. Let it slowly cool before opening.

Cannabis Oil

  1. Place heat proof container of cannabis oil into a cooking oil bath (canola oil works well). Heat cooking oil to 121C/250F.
  2. Stir cannabis oil to break up bubbles.
  3. Remove cannabis oil from heat when bubble formation starts to slow down — or leave on heat until all bubbles stop for increased sedative effect.

Historical Cannabis Use in India, Pt. 1

Cannabis has been used in Ayurvedic and Indian medicine for at least three thousand years to treat a variety of health conditions, including nausea and wasting syndromes. It is also prescribed for general health and longevity. To this day body builders in India use cannabis as a part of their training regiment to gain muscle mass, promote digestion, and build strength.

The spiritual aspects of cannabis are considered so profound in South Asia that many religious groups including Buddhists, Naths, Shaivites and Goddess Worshippers have incorporated it into meditation practices, as a means to stop the mind and enter into a state of profound stillness, also called Samadhi.

Cannabis holds a prominent place among Tantrics in India, Nepal, Sikkim, and Tibet to this day. In the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, it is said that Buddha subsisted for six years on nothing but hemp seeds. Various spiritual texts, including the Buddhist Tara Tantra, list cannabis as an important aide to meditation and spiritual practice. In the Tantric Buddhism of the Himalayas and Northern India, cannabis still plays a significant role in meditative rituals to facilitate deep meditation and heighten awareness.

Cannabis is even mentioned in the Indian creation myth, where it is named as one of the five nectars of the gods and designated a “Reliever of Suffering.” In the original myth, the gods churn the Ocean of Milk in search of Amrita, the elixir of eternal life. One of the resulting nectars was cannabis. In the Vedas cannabis is referred to as a “source of happiness.”

In India today, cannabis is often made into a drink consumed by local people and is said to be the favorite drink of Indra, the king of the Indian gods.

Cannabis is most closely associated with the worship of Shiva, one of the three principal deities of India. Cannabis is considered Shiva’s favorite herb due to its spiritual properties. It is commonly consumed by Shaivite yogis, ascetics and worshippers of Shiva, as an aid to their sadhana (spiritual practice). Wandering ascetics, known as sadhus, are often seen smoking cannabis out of a clay chillum as a part of their spiritual practice.

An Introduction to Cannabis Edibles Pt. 2

Learning to Classify Edibles Correctly

Though there are untold varieties of edibles available on the market today, they can all be split into three basic categories: those geared towards gastrointestinal uptake (digested through stomach), those geared towards oral uptake (through saliva), and a few that fit into a hybrid category that targets both. The most common edibles are geared towards gastrointestinal absorption. Any edible where the cannabinoids are absorbed through the stomach, like a brownie, cookie, cashew bar, or crepe falls into this category. These edibles tend to take longer to activate within the body (sometimes as long as two hours), but produce a longer-lasting effect (up to eight hours of relief).

uptakemethods

On the flipside, edibles geared towards oral uptake can affect a patient almost immediately, but tend to wear off faster (within two to three hours). Edibles that you hold in your mouth for an extended period of time like suckers, lozenges, or tincture, fall into this category. Some items, such as drinks and chocolates fall into a hybrid category, because they are designed to be absorbed in both the mouth and the stomach. These edibles are a middle ground between oral and intestinal absorption, offering fast-acting relief (patients usually feel this type of edible within a half hour) that can last for four hours or more.

How do I know which edible is best for me?

When selecting an edible, it is very important to pay attention to the potency of the product. This will help you determine how much of the product to eat, as many edibles are designed to be split into multiple doses. However, the exact potency of an edible can be tough for a patient to determine because the strength of an edible depends on the potency of the product used to infuse it.

“Just like the old saying goes, you get out of it what you put into it, and the same is true for edibles. ie. A candy bar that contains five grams of shake or poor quality bud is not necessarily going to be stronger than one that has two grams of primo bud.”

Some manufacturers list their products in strengths such as 10x, 20x etc. Although these numbers help a bit with dosages (typically 5X per dosage, so 20X is 3-4 doses) it is impossible to determine exactly how much cannabis is in one of these products without asking. Other edible companies label their products with the amount of cannabis that is infused in grams. The problem with this, is that unless you know how potent that gram of marijuana was, there is no way for you to tell how potent the edible will be. The same goes for manufacturers who test their products for total cannabinoid content and list the number in milligrams (mg). These numbers can be misleading because they completely disregard the individual bioactive compounds in the plant (THC-A, THCV, CBD, CBN, CBG, etc).

Nonetheless, 30-100mg of active cannabinoids is considered a daily dose by most patients (depending on your experience). 10-30mg is a good place to start if you are brand new to ingesting cannabis. However, only you can determine what dosage works best for you, and this often requires experimenting with different potencies and types of edibles. Long story short, look for edibles that use quality ingredients and use the numbers on the packaging as a rough guideline. Never hesitate to ask your budtender about a product, they will be more than happy to give you advice on edibles (they will know best because they have probably tried all of them).

Are there any health risks associated with consuming edibles?

Unfortunately, because there is no solid system in place to oversee edible or infused products production, patients must exercise caution when purchasing edibles. Most states require nothing more than a commercial cooking license to sell to a dispensary.

“Although edibles companies are supposed to operate out of commercial kitchens, following all health and safety regulations, there is no entity currently in place to assure compliance with these regulations.”

In addition, the quality of the cannabis that is used to infuse dispensary-bought edibles is nearly impossible to determine. Some companies use edibles as a way to dispose of marijuana that otherwise couldn’t be sold; like buds heavily laden with spider mites or mold. Because of this, it is very important to get your edibles from a trusted source.

Patients with severe allergies are advised to use extreme caution when selecting edibles, as the kitchen could be contaminated with trace amounts of nuts, gluten, lactose, or even pet dander. All we can do now is cross our fingers and pray that our edibles aren’t coming from the kitchen of a crazy cat lady!

Edibles Help Patients With Cancer & Other Debilitating Illnesses

Edibles offer patients one more wonderful way to get medicated. They can be extremely beneficial to cancer patients undergoing radiation, as well as those suffering from debilitating illnesses of the stomach, nervous system, or muscular system. Edibles are not only a great tasting, safer alternative to smoking, but also a great way for patients to introduce high levels of certain cannabinoids to the system. They are allowing patients to treat their illnesses with more efficiency than ever before.

An Introduction to Cannabis Edibles Pt. 1

With all the options available to medical marijuana patients today, many are choosing to explore methods of medicating beyond the traditional pipe or paper.

Marijuana infused products, commonly referred to as ‘edibles’, provide another option to patients who cannot, or choose not to smoke their cannabis. Edibles come in many different varieties, including tinctures (alcohol and glycerin based extractions), cooking oils, premade dessertsdrinkssnack foodscandiesand even chewing gum. There are even some companies that offer a medicated meals-on-wheels service for patients that physically cannot leave the house!

Edibles Provide A Safe Alternative To Smoking

Many patients believe that ingesting their cannabis is a healthier alternative to inhaling it because there is no exposure to carbon-rich smoke. Some patients, such as those on supplemental oxygen, turn to edibles when smoking is no longer an option. For patients with eating and digestive disorders, edibles are not only a great source of nausea-reducing CBD, but also a vital source of nutrients and calories. The same is true for cancer patients suffering from nausea caused by their treatments, and expecting mothers dealing with hyperemesis (morning sickness). A few patients choose edibles because they are a more discreet way to medicate, while others simply prefer the effects of ingesting cannabis to the effects of smoking.

What conditions are edibles most recommended for?

Because most edibles (with the exception of alcohol tincture) are exposed to some kind of heat during the cooking process, many of the inactive cannabinoids such as THC-a and CBD-a, are converted to THCCBD and CBN. The cooking process, as well as the high levels of THC found in edibles, work together to create the perfect treatment for many disorders, including chronic pain, muscle inflammation and spasms, autoimmune disorders, nervous system disorders, insomnia, and nausea (provided the patient is well enough to ingest the medication).

While anyone can enjoy the benefits of edibles, patients suffering from crohn’s disease, anautoimmune disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that affects as many as 700,000 Americans, find this method of medicating extremely beneficial. Because Crohn’s Disease occurs in the GI tract, edibles distribute useful active and inactive cannabinoids at the root of the problem, instead of having to rely on the bloodstream to carry them from the lungs.

Will ingesting cannabis affect me differently than smoking it?

Yes, without a doubt. However, exactly what effect edibles will have on you depends on several factors: the type and potency of the edibles you are using, your tolerance, your body chemistry, and even how much you’ve had to eat. Because the effects of eating an edible differ greatly from the effects of smoking, many first time users are caught off guard by the stronger potency and long-lasting effects.

Despite CBD’s anxiety relieving properties, many people experience a heightened sense of anxiety and paranoia when they initially ingest an edible. This is caused by various factors, but tends to mostly deal with fact that most people are not used to ingesting cannabis yet and have feelings of uncertainty, which leads to anxiety and paranoia. This seems to fade away the more you eat them, and get used to the effects.

You see, when you smoke marijuana you only receive a small amount of the cannabinoids in each hit, although it will be felt instantly. Where as, edibles tend to hit you much more slowly. This allows the cannabinoids to be released in waves, as they are processed by the stomach and digested.

What is Kief?

Ever wonder what to call all those tiny, sticky crystals that cover cannabis flower?

Well, we’ve got an answer for you: kief.

Simply said, kief (also known as dry sift or pollen) refers to the resin glands which contain the terpenes and cannabinoids that make cannabis so unique. While marijuana sans kief still contains cannabinoids, the resin glands that develop on flower buds pack the biggest punch.

Trichomes: It’s All About Protection

While kief specifically refers to the bulbous, crystal formation on the tip of a gland, the substance itself is just one part of what is called a trichome, or a “hair.”

Many different plants and algae have external trichomes for specific evolutionary purposes. For example, some carnivorous plants rely on sticky trichomes to trap their prey. Other plants, like cannabis, use them as a deterrent to herbivores.

Trichomes on the marijuana plant keep away hungry herbivores by producing an intense psychoactive experience, theoretically disorienting the animal and preventing it from eating the rest of the plant. The resin’s strong, distinct odor also attracts pollinating insects and predators, which might keep herbivore populations at bay.

Extracting Kief

If you like the experience of concentrates but don’t want to break the bank buying expensive wax or extraction equipment, sifting kief might be a great alternative. Due to the high concentration of terpenes and cannabinoids in resin glands, separating kief crystals from plant matter is a great way to consume cannabis while reducing the amount of charred material you take into your body.

Extracting kief is simple. Using a three-chamber herb grinder will help you finely grind your cannabis while letting kief crystals fall through a screen and collect into a small compartment. While two chamber grinders are nice, they often let potent kief go to waste since crystals fall off of the dried herb and just stick to the inside of the grinder.

For extracting larger quantities of kief, using simple silk screening materials will allow you to separate kief from plant matter with the ease of sifting flower.

Many people create makeshift sifters using layered screens similar to the ones pictured above. Because kief tends to measure between 75 and 125 microns, it can be difficult to separate all of the resin from the plant materials. To make sure you’re collecting the cleanest kief without unwanted plant matter, stack three to four layers of fine mesh screen one on top of another.

For the best results, home extractors use consecutive sizes of screen and stack them in order from largest to smallest. When buying screens, the number of wires or threads per inch, or the LPI (lines per inch) number is an important thing to remember. The larger the screen, the smaller the LPI number. When it comes to sifting kief, mesh between 80 and 270 LPI tends to work best.

When buying extracted kief at a dispensary or retail store, keep in mind that the purer the kief, the lighter the color will be. Kief that still looks fairly green means that there is still quite a bit of plant matter mixed in, whereas kief that has been well cleaned tends to be more of an off-white color.

What’s the Deal with Hash?

Extracting kief is one of the first steps of making hash. To simply summarize, hash is basically just kief that has been heated and pressurized to form a soft, green ball. Applying heat and pressure to kief changes its composition by rupturing the resin glands. Once the kief ruptured, the overall taste and effects of the product are slightly different. Pressurizing kief also darkens its color; the more pressure you apply, the darker the hash becomes.

Kief may not be the most exciting cannabis product out there, but it still remains one of the most popular and easiest to access. For more information on kief and kief extraction, check out Ed Rosenthal’sBeyond Buds. In the meantime, be sure to pick up a three-chamber herb grinder if you’d like to get the most bang for your buck.


 

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Marijuana Drastically Shrinks Aggressive Brain Cancer, New Study Finds

Over the past few years, research has revealed that marijuana can both destroy certain cancer cells and reduce the growth of others. Now, a new study in mice has found that when combined with radiation treatment, cannabis can effectively shrink one of the most aggressive types of brain tumors.

In a paper published Friday in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapies, a team of researchers from St. George’s University of London outlined the “dramatic reductions” they observed in high-grade glioma masses, a deadly form of brain cancer, when treated with a combination of radiation and two different marijuana compounds, also known as cannabinoids. In many cases, those tumors shrunk to as low as one-tenth the sizes of those in the control group.

“We’ve shown that cannabinoids could play a role in treating one of the most aggressive cancers in adults,” Dr. Wai Liu, one of the study’s lead authors, wrote in an op-ed earlier this week. “The results are promising…it could provide a way of breaking through glioma and saving more lives.”

In an email to The Huffington Post, Liu pointed out that while research surrounding marijuana’s cancer-fighting properties is nothing new, his team is the first to document its effect on the disease when used alongside radiation. “The results showed that the final effect was superior to the sum of the parts,” he said. “Hopefully, these results will support calls for formal trials in humans to test these combinations.”

Liu and his colleagues examined mice that had been infected with glioma and subsequently treated with radiation alone or in combination with varying levels of two cannabis compounds: THC, the psychoactive compound associated with the “high” sensation, and CBD, which doesn’t produce psychoactive side effects.

They found that the tumors were best treated by low doses of both THC and CBD that, when used in concert, made the tumors more receptive to radiation treatment. “Our data suggests a ‘triple threat’ approach using all three may be of value,” Liu told HuffPost.

The researchers also found that together, the low doses of THC and CBD produced a similar effect to a large dose of either compound, which is noteworthy because it indicates that patients may ultimately experience fewer side effects.

THC and CBD are just two of the dozens of chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. While research surrounding the therapeutic effects of these compounds has been limited, a team of scientists from the U.K. last year found that a combination of six different purified cannabinoids can kill the cancerous cells found in individuals with leukemia.

Meanwhile, when used alone as a form of treatment, THC has been shown to reduce the size of other cancerous tumors and stop the spread of HIV, and CBD strains of marijuana have had a profound effect on children and adults who suffer from debilitating seizure disorders.

Despite these findings, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States, meaning the federal government believes it has no medicinal value. The federally-funded National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) grows a limited supply of marijuana in Mississippi, which is used for government sanctioned research. Whilecritics have long accused NIDA of only funding experiments that examine the substance’s negative effects, the agency has conducted a handful of studies that look at its potential benefits.

Although 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, many experts argue that the lack of federally regulated studies of cannabis limits doctors’ and scientists’ understanding of the full medical benefits of the plant, resulting instead in a trial-and-error attitude towards treatment.

“You can find publications from the ’70s and ’80s that show pure cannabidiol is an anti-convulsant,” Catherine Jacobson, the director of research at the Epilepsy Foundation, told HuffPost last month. “And here we are 40 years later and we still don’t have any new information about this.”

 


 

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Online Petition to Reschedule Marijuana

A recent petition has surfaced on WhiteHouse.gov calling for the rescheduling of marijuana. Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has no medicinal merit.

As a Schedule I Drug, marijuana joins the ranks of Heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. In comparison, cocaine, meth and OxyContin are all labeled as Schedule II drugs with less potential for abuse then Schedule I drugs. With empirical evidence showing that marijuana has efficacy in the treatment of a variety of epileptic conditions, it is shameful that our government believes that the drug has less medical value than cocaine and methamphetamine.

The reclassification of marijuana would likely be dictated by the DEA who have received numerous petitions in the past. As recently as 2011, Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee petitioned to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug.

The petition on WhiteHouse.gov need 100,000 signatures by December 6 in order to provoke an official response from the White House. As of today, the petition has collected just over 900 signatures. With only 20 days left, the petition is in strong need of attention in order to get a reply from the Obama Administration. However, acting Attorney General Eric Holder has said publicly that he would gladly reexamine how the drug is scheduled. Holder said:

“It is something that ultimately Congress would have to change, and I think that our administration would be glad to work with Congress if such a proposal were made.”

The timing is right for the Obama administration to make changes to marijuana’s classification, even though AG Eric Holder is on his way out of office. Marijuana support is at an all-time high in the United States and Washington D.C. just voted to legalize recreational marijuana. When President Obama appoints his new Attorney General, there is a strong chance that he will appoint someone who shares many views with Holder.

What does Congress think? Back in February, 18 congress members wrote a letter to Obama asking him to delist marijuana or “at the very least,” reclassify it to a Schedule II Drug. The newly elected Republican majority may prove to be detrimental to forward progress for the rescheduling, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The tides of change are sweeping across the nation and whether it happens state-by-state or through federal action, marijuana policy will be changed. If you would like to make a difference you can sign the petition by clicking the banner below.


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