Cannabis pioneer launches company to unlock the potentials of the endocannabinoid system

Meg Hartley for Leafly
Published on June 29, 2020· Last updated July 28, 2020

Scientists have been articulating the prowess of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) since the ‘80s, yet nearly four decades later, the ECS is hardly covered in medical schools, despite dysfunction of the system being linked to many illnesses. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system of neurotransmitters and receptors that enables our bodies to benefit from cannabis, and even though medical cannabis is legal in most states, there are only a couple pharmaceuticals on the market that make use of it.

Cannabis has been studied for even longer than the ECS, but we still use the plant rather simplistically. Even though there are many components to cannabis—cannabinoids, terpenes, terpenoids, flavonoids, oh my!—the industry mostly focuses on the cannabinoids THC and CBD, when over 100 compounds have been discovered in the plant.

Luckily, there are people on a mission to elevate this state of affairs. Acclaimed endocannabinoid scientist Ethan Russo has partnered with business aficionado Nishi Whiteley to create CReDO Science, and they’re off to a running start. Their research focuses on how to apply cannabis to balance the health of the ECS and help treat disease, and by creating market-disrupting technologies that utilize this research to create solutions and products (five examples coming up).

CReDO’s mission

As a Leafly reader, you may be familiar with the work of Ethan Russo, as he has been featured in many of our articles (he’s a bit of an ECS rock star). He’s nearing 25 years of experience researching the ECS and cannabis and is also a board-certified neurologist.

The mission of his new company CReDO is, “To commercialize patented products generated from our investigation of the cannabis plant and the endocannabinoid system (ECS), making cannabis safer and better.” According to the company’s website, their moniker reflects the philosophy of innovation as well: “In Latin, CReDO means ‘I believe.’ We maintain that ‘the proof is out there’ for cannabis/hemp-based solutions for better living.”

Talking about the stigma of cannabis and not taking advantage of its potential, Russo said: “What we’re doing is trying to treat disease with at least one of our hands behind our back. It’s a situation where we’re not applying the requisite knowledge to the problems at hand.”

He also went on to say: “It really points out how politics interfere with science and the public good; in this instance, because we’ve really denied ourselves the full benefits of a plant that has so much to offer medically, nutritionally, and as an aid to better living.”

Russo is joined by Nishi Whiteley, a cannabis author and educator with 30 years of business development experience. In addition to stunning business credentials, she is an advocate for cannabis law reform and sits on the board of the Foundation for an Informed Texas, a cannabis advocacy organization.

Products for the endocannabinoid system

The initial efforts of CReDO Science will concentrate in a few areas for which provisional patents are in progress. Russo shared they cannot get too specific when describing most of the products, as they’re still in development: “We’ve got a lot of convergent evolution in science—that’s a fancy way of saying that you can’t have an original idea for long before somebody else will think of the same thing.” But they were able to give us some general scoops.

Here’s what they can reveal:

Disinfectant that works on coronavirus

This product is a disinfectant that’s efficacious enough to kill coronavirus, a great example of using cannabis in a novel fashion, taking advantage of its antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal properties in an industrial way. “I personally don’t like Clorox, the smell gives me headaches. But there are products that can be made with cannabis in the disinfectant area that would be, I think, aesthetically nicer and potentially even organic,” said Russo.

Diagnostics for diseases of the ECS

CReDO is working on two projects that would diagnose medical conditions related to the ECS. “If there is the potential for products or treatments or profit down the road, that’s nice, but that’s not what keeps me up at night thinking about things; it’s ideas that could help explain what ails us, and what to do about it,” said Russo.

Canna nutritional line

Another product of theirs is a line of cannabis-derived nutritional products (think nutritional bars and capsules) expected to have broad anti-inflammatory effects. The ingredients remain a proprietary secret for now, but they hope to be on the market with full disclosure in the next two to three years. “These would be products that should be saleable anywhere in the US and internationally because they won’t involve the inclusion of nasty [he laughs] THC or anything,” said Russo.

Extraction technique

They’re also working on cannabis extraction hardware that will use a technique to keep more aspects of the plant. “I’m a big proponent of the entourage effect, which requires synergy of terpenoids and cannabinoid components. And yet, many of the extraction techniques really end up wasting, particularly the terpenoid fraction,” said Russo.

This technique would create cannabis products that take advantage of the full power and spectrum of cannabis’ value, allowing us to benefit from terpenes, underutilized cannabinoids, and other components.

Over-the-counter medicine

They had to stay pretty tight-lipped about this one, but according to Russo: “There is a really, really common condition where current products are either toxic or not very effective. We think that we’ve got an effective approach with a cannabis-based product that’s not going to be psychoactive, not subject to any abuse potential.”

How is a cannabis pill made? Its journey from seed to capsule

By Meg Hartley
Published on June 22, 2020· Last updated November 16, 2020

In the legal cannabis industry, getting a processed cannabis product can be just as mysterious as buying meat at the grocery store—conveniently packaged and unrecognizable from its original form. And while I appreciate a shroud of mystery around how pigs become sausage, when it comes to cannabis products, I’d actually really like to know how that sausage was made.

This wave of curiosity came to crest with my new favorite cannabis product: a little capsule called RA’, named after the Egyptian sun god. I found myself wondering about the journey the plant material inside had taken: Where did its voyage begin? Did the person who grew it love their job? How did it go from trimmed plant all the way to handy capsule?

I traced my little cannabis pills back to their source and got to talk with some amazing humans on my journey. I found fascinating insights, industry scoops, and people who dedicate their lives to the plant we love.

While you might not want to think about how your sausage was made during breakfast, this is a backstory you’ll love to have in mind when enjoying cannabis products. It is a very human industry, my friends; let’s do our damndest to ensure that it stays that way.

Starting from seed

outdoor marijuana growing

(Courtesy Sweet Sisters Farm)

Our plant’s journey starts at Sweet Sisters outdoor farm in Mendocino, Northern California, which is part of the Emerald Triangle, an area globally celebrated for its cannabis. Referring to themselves as a “family unit,” they don’t at all claim to be breeders. “The beauty of being a legacy farmer … is that we have had seedstock in our own possession for years, that we know can work well in our own microclimate,” said the family unit.

They’ve been farming the same land since 1981, when the two farmers who started the family unit met at a nursery buying cannabis growing supplies. Since then, they’ve had plenty of time to learn their favorite cultivars, some that go back to the ‘80s—back when they used to have true indicas and sativas, before all the hybridization. They know the growth cycles of various strains, as well as important details like which seeds will be resistant to mold and powdery mildew, and which ones will grow into buds that they enjoy and prefer.

The planting process starts in mid-March by cracking the seeds, which will sex in 6-8 weeks. Then they enjoy watching all of the individual characteristics come out of each plant within the cultivar: “It’s an honor and a pleasure to watch her grow,” said the family unit.

Sometime in September or October, it’s harvest time. After cutting the plants, it’s time to cure; watching the humidity and heat, it’s done in about two weeks, depending on each individual plant. They leave it on the branch so it finishes its final cure and holds better until it can get to the trimmer’s bench. Then they do some paperwork and it’s out of their hands.

On the trimmer’s bench

trimming marijuana

(Courtesy of Root One Botanicals)

From Sweet Sisters farm, our plant heads to Root One Botanicals. They do many things at Root One, but our plant is here to get trimmed. The beautiful buds will be separated from trim, which RA’ does not use in their products. But before it’s time to work with the plant, there’s paperwork to do.

Like many other legal states, California uses a program called Metrc to track each plant from seed to sale. Root One CEO Jon McColley describes the process as “arduous and boring” but also recognizes its importance.

Once harvests come in, plant material gets divided between A, B, and trim, depending on the bud’s size, and waste (stems, etc.) gets tossed out. “It’s segregation, separation, and manicuring; putting those tiered products into their proper place,” said McColley.

McColley reports that the people doing the trimming dig what they do: “It’s amazing what kind of enthusiasm it creates in a workforce … they love the work, being able to work around the plant day after day and just being immersed.”

After our plant has been processed by the Root One crew, it’s tagged and entered into Metrc, then heads out down to Long Beach, California.

The finished capsule

RA’ Flower is our plant’s stop before the dispensary, where it will be made into capsules. According to RA’ Founder and CEO Alan Hoskins, “Once the flower is brought in here, we weigh it, and then I usually try and process it right away just for the sheer fact that cannabis starts the degradation process once it starts growing and being in the sun, and that’s just the natural element. So it’ll come into the building, and then we ‘powderize’ it,” he said, explaining that they use a machine akin to an industrial food mill.

To turn THCa to THC, they blend up the plant and put it through a low heat decarboxylation process. According to Hoskins, the most important part is minimizing the degradation of plants and retaining “important plant constituents, like terpenes, flavonoids, all those wonderful things.”

After the impurities are removed and it’s powderized, “All you’re left with is this really beautiful green powder, which is all flower, decarboxylated,” said Hoskins.

The powder is then tested for potency and terpenes, and Hoskins’ wife, Ashley, takes it away to put into capsules, using a manual machine called an encapsulator, which halves the capsules and puts them back together after they’ve been filled by hand.

Once capsuled, it’s packaging time, and, of course, good ol’ Metrc comes into play here as well. “When [the flower is] brought into the building it has to be entered into Metrc; when I take that flower, and I go to process it, I have to put a new tag on it [for Metrc]; once we decarboxylate it and activate it, it has a new tag; once I put it into packaging, it has another tag,” said Alan, laughing. “So, yeah, it’s very cumbersome. But, you know, it allows the state to really see where every product goes so if there’s a recall on something, they’re able to reach out.”

The Hoskins’ came from the healthcare industry so they’re used to regulations, but not accustomed to the chaos of the cannabis industry. “It’s not an easy business to navigate. It’s over regulated, it’s overtaxed. You know, when there’s 38-40% tax, and people rely on this for medicine, that only helps the black market thrive,” said Alan.

But to them, contributing quality cannabis makes the industry worth it. “It’s about getting a super high-quality product to market, to people who need it. And this is the future of medicine, no doubt,” said Alan.

The other folks involved in the capsule’s journey expressed similar sentiments about the fine art of bringing cannabis to the world. “If there’s just one thing that [readers] should be aware of, it’s that every one of those buds they are consuming has been picked up by loving hands and just been cared for,” said McColley of Root One. “This is the worst get-rich-quick scheme in the history of mankind. The people are doing it because they love the plant and they know that this is something bigger than all of us.”

How to tell legal from illegal cannabis dispensaries in California

By Meg Hartley
Published on February 20, 2020· Last updated March 8, 2022

On January 1st, 2018, recreational cannabis became legal in the state of California, after over two decades of medical-only legalization. Over the next few months, some dispensaries would go from having cannabis out on the counter for people to smell and inspect to only having pre-packaged and sealed cannabis. Free deals for newcomers would vanish. Prices skyrocketed. And high taxes were added on top of that, adding up to over 40% in some counties.

But at other dispensaries, prices remain just as low as before. You can still inspect the buds up-close, probably see them weighed, and they’ll likely even give you a free joint just for discovering their shop. So if you’re a patron just looking for a place to get a price-conscious bag, it’d be an easy decision to choose between the two types of dispensaries in California—who picks expensive and uptight over reasonably priced and chilled-out?

However, if you were to choose that second shop, you’d be breaking the law—it’s an unlicensed illegal dispensary. So how are cannabis lovers in California supposed to know which is which? And, does it matter?

Legal compliance in the Wild West of cannabis

In California, the amount of unlicensed illegal cannabis dispensaries is estimated to be over 3 times higher than the amount of legal ones. Between a bureaucratic nightmare with licensing, including stunning fees, limited availability, and other issues, going legal in California isn’t easy or cheap. This has resulted in a state filled with dispensaries that were previously legal for medical patients but are now illegal.

Many people risked everything they had to start a legal business, but the cheap illegal competition has meant the ruin of their legal businesses.

There are many other benefits in supporting legally compliant dispensaries. Adam Hijazi, owner of the legally compliant Long Beach Green Room, said, “When you buy legally, you’re getting a far better product. You’re getting better customer service, facilities with security, with cameras, and with guards.” He also noted that legal shops tend to offer more stable jobs that pay better, and that the immense taxes legal dispensary owners pay are invested into the community.

Another huge issue is testing for safety and content. Alex Traverso, Assistant Chief of Communications for the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), shared with us that just two weeks ago they tested cartridges from 45 illegal shops—and a whopping 75% of them failed the vitamin E acetate tests, meaning they contain the commonly cited source of the vape crisis. Traverso commented, “I know I don’t want to be taking that chance.”

Luckily, there will be a quick way to know

Because many licensed dispensaries simply upgraded their old stores to become legally compliant, the differences between the two kinds of shops aren’t always apparent to customers.

Aiming to make the distinction as simple as knowing if a restaurant’s up to health code, the BCC created an emblem to be placed on cannabis business fronts.

Aiming to make the distinction as simple as knowing if a restaurant’s up to health code, the BCC created an emblem to be placed on legal cannabis business fronts. These emblems have a unique QR code that pulls up the licensing information of the business.

If you haven’t used a QR code with your smartphone before, it’s really easy: just pull up your camera, hold it over the QR code, and click the notification that appears on your screen. Industry personnel in delivery and distribution will be required to have one on their persons as well.

If there is no QR code, try checking where you can search by location, license type, and other handy filters. There is also an LA-specific map here.

Since the early months of legalization, Leafly has listed only licensed businesses. Licenses can be found under a dispensary’s “Info” section.

In addition to the QR code emblems, there are also subtle ways of telling if a dispensary is legal, like asking about taxes and testing, or looking for visual cues. According to Traverso, “If you go into a shop and still see big bags and jars of cannabis on the shelves instead of individually packaged stuff, there’s a good chance that it’s not a legal shop.”

He added that it’s wise to know if a shop is legal before you get up to its door, or before leaving the house, if possible—once you’re already at the shop, it can be awkward and time-consuming to adjust the situation.

Stay tuned and spread the word

Traverso says the QR emblems are becoming mandatory for all licensed businesses in coming months, and he expects no pushback. “The licensees that I’ve talked to want people to know that they are legit,” he said.

Speaking to the extensive compliance demands, Traverso said, “Everything they are doing is to be legit. They want to tell the public, ‘this is a shop that does everything by the book.’’’ He added that the QR emblems are really a badge of honor, a nod to all of the hard work these businesses have put into California’s fledgling industry.

The program has already started to roll out and should be completed within a few months. The legally compliant dispensary owner we talked with, Adam Hijazi, already has his emblem, telling us that the program is off to a good start.

“I think it’s very helpful that these programs are coming up. Even though at first it’s going to be hard for them to recognize—of course it is, it’s the first time this is happening.”

Educating the public is never easy, and this is no exception to that rule. “Some patients or customers come in, notice it, and ask questions about [the QR emblems]—but really most of the time it’s us talking about it, so that way they can notice it,” Hijazi said. He says that this effort to educate the public is very much worth it, and that the California cannabis industry is worth it. “We gotta keep going at it. Insistence breaks the resistance.”

So, California readers, is your favorite dispensary legal

The ‘sleepy’ cannabinoid CBN might not actually be sedating

By Meg Hartley
Published on June 25, 2019 • Last updated July 28, 2020

While working at a cannabis dispensary, I discovered the power of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), and how cannabinoids in cannabis—like THC and CBD—can interact with it to deliver a variety of stunning medical results. I’d also learned that the cannabinoid cannabinol (CBN) had a reputation for being a great aid to insomnia fighters.

At the time, cannabis laboratory Steep Hill reported, “The consumption of 2.5mg to 5mg of CBN has the same level of sedation as a mild pharmaceutical sedative, with a relaxed body sensation similar to 5mg to 10mg of diazepam.” They’re a widely respected company and this quote is all over the canna-net, so I bit.

I turned to a CBN product (a 1:1 CBD/CBN tincture, to be precise), which happily did seem to deliver comparable results to the pharmaceutical insomnia medications I’d been taking. Knowing that THC degrades and turns into CBN when exposed to elements like heat, air and light over time, I wondered if I could devise a more cost-effective way to make CBN medicines from regular ol’ THC flower.

I figured if I left buds sitting in a dish by the sunny window, it might result in higher CBN content—thereby, a handy DIY sleep medication. After doing so for awhile, I hadn’t noticed any differences in effect (just crunchiness), and so started digging to see if this was actually a feasible way to raise CBN levels.

But as I started digging into my DIY method, my objective (and methods—more on that below) quickly became questionable.

Things get murky on CBN and sleep

It turns out, though there are numerous products in the cannabis industry that aim to promote sleep via CBN the link between the two lacks scientific foundation. In fact, only one (well-cited) study has signified that this effect is in play, but the study is highly problematic.

The results point to sedation only when CBN was used in combination with THC.

In addition to questionable methods, the results point to sedation only when CBN was used in combination with THC—a finding that could be attributed to the phenomenon known as the entourage effect, wherein cannabinoids work synergistically with one another, as well as with other components of cannabis (like terpenes and flavonoids), to create a stronger effect.

So where did the supposed connection come from?

According to Dr. Ethan Russo, Director of Research and Development at the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, this might be due to people feeling tired after smoking old and/or improperly stored buds. He said that the sedating effects of aged cannabis are often misattributed to CBN because of the previously described degradation process that creates the cannabinoid. However, he says the sedative effects of old cannabis are more likely due to other components of the plant that change as cured cannabis ages.

He shared that old cannabis tends to be sedating due to a loss of monoterpenoids and a retention of sesquiterpenoids, which have a soporific (or drowsy) effect. He added that the addition of another cannabinoid, CBN in this case, to a cannabis sleep regimen may increase the aforementioned entourage effect—but that CBN hasn’t been shown to be sedative on its own, and he contends that it is not more sedating than other cannabinoids.

Then why does CBN seem to work for some?

So, how come CBN products seem to work for so many rough sleepers? It’s possible that CBN is working that entourage effect, being the perfect addition their nighttime cannabis routine. Or, the product-in-question may have also had additional ingredients that worked effectively (like sesquiterpenoids).

As is often the case in cannabis, there’s a lot of research left to be done on this topic, but I did get my answer. Dr. Russo says, “Setting out cannabis in the sun is a good way to waste the monoterpenoid fraction and leave sedating sesquiterpenoids and CBN behind.” (However, he thinks this is likely to take a significant amount of time, and does not recommend my method.)

We reached out to Steep Hill for comment on that quote comparing CBN to diazepam. They didn’t reply, but did change their CBN text to read, “Initially, it was reported that CBN was a promising adjunct in the treatment of insomnia, but with the advent of a few small trials, sedative qualities have not been observed. Further study is required.”

Cannabis is still a fierce sleep aid

For now, Dr. Russo informs us that the best known way to use cannabis for sleep is to combine THC with other sedating components, like the terpenes myrcene and linalool. He told us that cannabis isn’t such a successful sleep aid because it’s wildly sedating, but because it treats underlying conditions that are keeping people awake.

He emphasized the importance of treating what, precisely, is keeping the person from sleep. For instance, if you’re incredibly tired, but your mind is racing a jillion miles an hour—you probably want a good dose of CBD for anxiety in your nighttime routine.

So, reflect on the things that keep you up (he said pain and spasms are two more big ones), and do some research and experimenting to find the best approach to treating what ails, allowing your bod to get the rest it needs.

And as for CBN, time will tell as to if this cannabinoid has any particular super powers—but the jury is still out on whether sedation is one of them.

10 Things I Learned Working In A Cannabis Dispensary

It was unlike any experience at an office I’ve ever had.


Meg Hartley, Guest Writer

Nov 3, 2018, 09:00 AM EDT|Updated Sep 10, 2022

"Playing with cannabis while chatting with customers was definitely unlike any other day at an office I’ve ever experienced."
“Playing with cannabis while chatting with customers was definitely unlike any other day at an office I’ve ever experienced.”

It’s just cannabis, right? How important can something affectionately referred to as “wacky-tabbacky” be? In my case, very.

In 2015, I nearly died from a vitamin B12 deficiency (because that’s a thing), which catapulted an evil disease called fibromyalgia into the center of my world ― and then totally imploded it. I was completely debilitated and lucky to leave my sickbed once a week. There is no way I would have gotten through the worst of it without cannabis to manage both my symptoms and the depression that came with them. No. Fucking. Way. (But, of course, you should always consult your own physician or mental health professional before trying any drug or medication.) It was an incredibly hard time, to put it mildly.

Finally, after two and a half intense-yet-dull years of medical tests, bedrest, physical therapy and intensive self-care, I was healthy enough that rejoining the working world started to seem like an option. I was homeless at the time after moving to the warm Los Angeles area from rainy Portland at the advice of a doctor. I hadn’t been able to find affordable housing or reliable work I could physically perform. I was starting to accept the idea that I’d be a homeless cover letter-writer for the rest of my days. Then, miraculously, an incredible job landed in my lap.

After posting about my beloved cannabis on Instagram, a follower-turned-friend introduced me to the manager of a nearby dispensary who then kindly hired me to do their marketing for as many hours as I could handle (whew!). Sadly, the position was phased out of existence after six months due to budgetary restrictions. But it was a brilliant introduction to the industry and helped me get back on my feet.

Here are a few things I learned during my first professional stint in the weed industry:

1. It’s like working for any other business: I don’t know what I expected on my first day ― I’m sure images of the police showing up (never saw one) and the sounds of reggae (which I did hear! along with all kinds of tunes) ran through my head ― but I know I didn’t imagine the Keurig machine. In many ways it was, surprisingly, like any other job I’ve had: It involved a very typical management structure; there was software to learn; we attended morning meetings; and there were never quite enough (or the right) office supplies in stock. All in all, it was totally the standard stuff you’d encounter in any other workplace.

2. It’s nothing like working for any other business: On the other hand ― oh look, there’s a big stack of cash, video cameras and armed guards and, of course, ginormous bags of herb! I got to weigh and package the cannabis buds (known as “flower”), and playing with cannabis while chatting with customers was definitely unlike any experience at an office I’ve ever had. Even after time began to be filled with duties typical of a more traditional marketing position, I still often found it hard to believe I was getting paid to do things like describe the particular high of a cannabis strain or take photos of herb. I even got to create a giant cannabis painting for a photo-op background.

3. People can be real jerks about getting their cannabis: I assumed our customers would be all chill and thrilled to be at their local weed store. Nope! My guess is that some of the crankier people who visited the store were folks in need of cannabis for medicinal use, and being sick is always an understandable reason for crankiness ― especially if we didn’t have what they needed in stock. We had lots of friendly, laid-back visitors to the dispensary ― the majority, in fact, were that way ― but I was still surprised by the noticeably high jerk ratio. (Still, I’d bet most of them were much more likable once they were able to enjoy our product…)

4. But it has good people: I’ve worked in many offices and generally felt like a weirdo, even before I started dying my hair purple. But I never felt like an outsider at my dispensary. Hugs were given out on the regular and it was safe to tell stories and share opinions without having to majorly censor yourself. So far I’ve found that kind, funny, hard-working, passionate badasses dominate the industry.

5. Cannabis is an industry in flux: Recreational cannabis use in California only became legal on Jan. 1 ― and just 10 months in, it’s a total shitshow. New compliance regulations are released by the government all the time, and they often leave dispensaries and manufacturers scrambling to adhere to them or risk losing their licenses. Even with licenses intact, adjusting to the changes can leave businesses temporarily unable to serve their customers and patients.

What’s more, illegal dispensaries are still flourishing right out in the open while authorities use their time, energy and resources to make sure the licensed ones are following the new, and often very vague, rules to the T. The fact that cannabis is still federally illegal also makes thinks like banking tricky, which in turn causes daily annoyances and can lead to huge problems, like the inability to pay employees or vendors.

The author in front of a mural she created at the dispensary where she worked.
The author in front of a mural she created at the dispensary where she worked.

6. Cannabis is a gloriously complicated plant: The therapeutic effects of cannabis seemed magical to me when I started working in the industry, and oh, how I loved the glory of discovering exactly why. It turns out our bodies have something called endocannabinoid systems (ECS), which work with plant compounds called cannabinoids ― THC and CBD are popular ones, but there are so many others. Each cannabinoid engages with the ECS, which then activates their distinct superpowers and thereby helps alleviate suffering from a huge range of ailments. Many cannabinoids are even capable of working their magic without getting the user stoned, a benefit for those who are seeking relief without looking to get high.

7. There’s so much more to do with cannabis than just smoke it: I was in love with my vape pen ― a device that uses a battery to warm cannabis oil in a cartridge and then produces a vapor the user inhales ― when I started the job. But I had no idea how many other ways to partake in the plant there were out there. My favorite cannabis product is the tincture: I drop some THCa (a cannabinoid) oil under my tongue a few times a day, which helps my nerve pain like whoa. There are also topical solutions that are applied to the skin, edibles you eat or drink, capsules you take like a pill, patches to slap on your body for longer-term relief, even cannabis lube.

8. Cannabis isn’t just for eating Funyuns and watching goofball movies (though it’s great for that too!): Working in a dispensary taught me just how multifaceted cannabis really is. In addition to what it can offer those suffering from various ailments, different strains of cannabis and different cannabinoid profiles can also provide different users different experiences. If want to become one with your couch and enjoy satiating your munchies, there are strains for that. But there are also strains that are better for socializing, others for being productive, and some for using before or during sexual experiences. You can visit a dispensary and find exactly the strain you want or need for whatever activity you have planned. The notion that cannabis just makes you lazy only exists because people haven’t learned exactly what cannabis is capable of or the myriad ways it can be used.

9. Cannabis is for everyone (of legal age, of course): Pop culture often portrays cannabis users as predominantly male 20-something slackers, but that’s definitely not the case. The combination of decreasing stigma, increased studies on cannabis’ benefits, and the availability of cannabinoids that don’t get users high have all kinds of people interested in trying the plant. Grandmas, school teachers, rich people, poor people ― we served them all at my dispensary. After a few weeks in my position, I was no longer shocked by the wide variety of people who came in to purchase cannabis. The only people who surprised me were the ones who weren’t wearing any shoes, which happened three times in one week before we made a sign requiring footwear in the store.

10. Cannabis used to be sold in pharmacies all across America: I got to do a lot of fascinating research related to my position at the dispensary and cannabis prohibition was one of the most interesting topics I learned about. The plant used to be popular at U.S. pharmacies until 1937, when the Marijuana Tax Act was passed and the first major federal limitations on the sale and use of cannabis went into effect. Before then, it was legally sold in tincture form to treat many ailments. Then, after alcohol prohibition was overturned 1933, cannabis became the new target. A real peach of a man named Harry Anslinger led the charge, demonizing the plant and calling it “marihuana” to make it sound like a different drug than the popular “cannabis” ― and threateningly foreign to boot. He once reportedly said, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” His horribly racist strategies were horribly effective, which greatly contributed to both the remaining stigma associated with cannabis and the current systemic mess we’re attempting to clean up with legalization and regulation of the drug. This is why you shouldn’t refer to the plant as “marijuana,” a word with a racist history. Instead use its proper name, “cannabis,” or one of its many other colloquial names, like “weed” or “herb.”


I feel optimistic and excited about the future of the cannabis industry, despite its current messiness. Aside from legal issues, I believe a lack of education about the plant causes a lot of the troubles related to what cannabis can and can’t ― or should and shouldn’t ― do. I’ve been a cannabis fan for much of my adult life and I’ve lived in a state where it’s been legal for recreational use since late 2015. Still, I was stunned by the massive amount I learned during my brief time working in the industry. If someone like me wasn’t fully aware of the power or potential of this plant, I can only imagine what folks who have never tried it or researched it know ― or don’t know ― about it.

I’m not alone in my passion for spreading accurate information about cannabis. Working to alleviate stigma and misinformation is also included on the manifestos of many cannabis companies. The industry is aware of the problem and is passionately working to find creative ways to address and bust the myths and straight-up lies about cannabis that continue to circulate. Hopefully, our lawmakers and those tasked with enforcing the current laws will get on board and work with the industry to regulate cannabis and make it safe and available to everyone.

Cannabis is so much more than another way to relax with friends on a Friday night. I’m grateful to have learned so much and to have met some really amazing people while working in the industry and I’m hoping I’ll soon land another job that will allow me to continue to share the life-changing ― and incredibly enjoyable ― capabilities of this incredible plant.