Why ‘marijuana’ should have always been called ‘the gage’

By Meg Hartley
Published on November 14, 2019· Last updated July 28, 2020

In the 1930s, two distinct potential futures existed for cannabis in the United States.

Cannabis was no stranger to us at that time. Cannabis tinctures were widely available at pharmacies, but people weren’t accustomed to getting high off of those tinctures. Things were changing as Mexican migrants and the (largely black) jazz subculture started to enjoy smoking cannabis as a way to relax and unwind.

Our cultural pendulum swung over to Anslinger, shaping the trauma-filled world of cannabis that we now live in—but if it hadn’t, that “satanic” jazz music might have shaped our world instead.

This might have been just fine and dandy, had it not been for a man named Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the US Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He got the gig in 1930, so when alcohol prohibition ended just three years later, it looked like he was out of a job—until cannabis came into his crosshairs. Anslinger was also openly racist and extra motivated by the idea of turning its predominantly black and brown consumers into criminals.

There’s many horrid quotes by Anslinger that sum up his revolting position, but this succinct one is the most powerful to me: “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

Cannabis gets a new name

Anslinger was a man with a mission. He was going to save his job, and he was going to lock up a whole lot of people of color while he was at it. Ol’ Harry knew that turning people against cannabis would take some real spin—he needed a bad guy, and granny’s arthritis medicine wasn’t going to be it.

Cannabis needed a total rebranding. It needed a whole new name.

Cannabis would have continued to be called “the gage”—a name that gives credit to some of the jazzy creators of our cannabis culture, rather than give homage to the man who did everything in his power to squash it.

“Marihuana” was the moniker that he ran with, transforming the beloved herb into an evil drug that caused “Reefer Madness.” To illustrate this PR spin, I’ll use another Anslinger quote:

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind…Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage.”

As you know, our cultural pendulum swung over to Anslinger, shaping the trauma-filled world of cannabis that we now live in—but if it hadn’t, that “satanic” jazz music might have shaped our world instead, and no one would be talking about “marijuana.”

Cannabis would have continued to be called “the gage”—a name that gives credit to some of the jazzy creators of our cannabis culture, rather than give homage to the man who did everything in his power to squash it.

Smoking the gage with vipers

Portrait of Stuff Smith, Kelly’s Stable, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1946 (William P. Gottlieb, Library of Congress)

The gage has found itself beloved in many creative circles, but in the early days of jazz it was muse, subject, and therapy tool, all-in-one—a splendid inspirational force that penetrated the culture. As a muse, it inspired open thinking and lengthened time, allowing “vipers,” cannabis-loving jazz musicians, to mix it up and add more notes.

As a subject of jazz lyrics, there’s a whole catalog of early jazz songs dedicated to the gage. Take these lyrics from “Viper Mad” by Sidney Bechet and Rousseau Simmons:

Wrap your chops round this stick of tea 

Blow this gage and get high with me 

Good tea is my weakness, I know it’s bad 

It sends me, gate, and I can’t wait, I’m viper mad

And here’s some choice lyrics from Stuff Smith and his Onyx Club Boys, “Here Comes the Man with the Jive”:

Where’s the man with the gage?

There is a man from way up town

Who will take away your blues

And any time the man comes round we like to spread the news

He is known from coast to coast to every cat alive

And any time they give a toast is to the man who brings the gage

Whenever you’re feeling small, don’t care for this life at all

Light up and get really tall

Here comes the man with the gage

Speaks the truth, doesn’t it? And to illustrate the point of cannabis as a therapy tool, I’ll quote the the man who’s perhaps the anti-Anslinger, father of jazz, Louis Armstrong: “It makes you feel good, man. It relaxes you, makes you forget all the bad things that happen to a Negro. It makes you feel wanted, and when you are with another tea smoker it makes you feel a special sense of kinship.”

But in the end, the penalties for illegal cannabis were too much even for even Armstrong, leaving us these fine words on the matter:

“Well, that was my life and I don’t feel ashamed at all. Mary Warner, honey, you sure was good and I enjoyed you heap much. But the price got a little too high to pay. At first you was a ‘misdemeanor.’ But as the years rolled on, you lost your misdo and got meanor and meanor (jailhousely speaking). So bye bye, I’ll have to put you down, dearest.”

Attempting to make good

It shouldn’t have happened like that. People in undeniably challenging positions—like a black community just a couple generations after slavery—not only had this cultural treasure taken from them, but then the community at large was further punished with the horrific effects of the the war on drugs.

Looking at the baby cannabis industry now, it’s hard to argue that attempts at social equity have been successful (or anything more than lip service).

Changes won’t happen in the industry overnight because people replace a word, but perception matters, especially to people choosing who’s going to sit in their corporate boardrooms. If we start refusing to say Anslinger’s “marijuana,” perhaps it could create some cognitive dissonance in those rooms, a bunch of white Boehners finally realizing they don’t know WTF they’re even doing in this scene.

Probably not. But changes in lexicon do drive conversation. They matter. Perception has already shifted worlds for “cannabis” despite the fact that it’s only been a few years, and many still don’t even know what it is. (Though confusion isn’t wholly unhelpful in a PR switch, ask ol’ Harry Anslinger…) Having another politically-correct term in the mix could help shed light on the POC communities currently being ignored by the industry.

In some dreamy alternative universe without Anslinger, the popularity of getting high off of cannabis in the US would have came to be right as alcohol prohibition ended, perhaps tempering the way Americans now treat booze, making us a nation with far less drunken ills.

But we don’t live in that world, we live in one where this plant has gone through a hell of a journey to accomplish legal-ish status—and we’re still calling it by the name beloved by those who banned it.

Home DNA kits can help you pick a cannabis strain

Meg Hartley for Leafly
Published on September 23, 2020

EndoCanna Health’s DNA test. (Meg Hartley)

They say the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is as unique as a fingerprint, and cannabis affects us all differently. Company EndoCanna Health is exploring this by offering a DNA test that will show your body’s genetics and suggest a cannabis profile accordingly, as well as products for that profile. 

This tool wouldn’t be with us today without a real Bob Ross of a happy accident—the moment Len May, CEO of EndoCanna Health, accidentally found an effective way to manage his ADD. According to May: 

“I was kind of hanging out with some older kids, and they asked me if I wanted to smoke a cigarette—and I was like, yeah, you know, I’m dabbling with cigarettes, I’m gonna be cool—and the cigarette was actually filled with weed instead. After I got done coughing, I went back to class, and the windows in my head [referring to what it’s like to think with ADD] they sort of slowed down, and I could focus. So I found my medicine, it was mine.”

After getting kicked out of the house for cannabis—ironically, his parents now use his cannabis formulations—he became a cannabis activist and started working in medicinal genomics, which eventually led to EndoCanna Health, and the ability to use cannabis on a truly personal level.

How does EndoCanna Health’s DNA test work?

While receiving the $199 test can take a month or two, taking the test is a matter of seconds: carefully swab the inside of your cheek, then pop the swab into a tube. After registering your test into their HIPAA-compliant, fully anonymous portal, seal the swab and tube in a plastic bag, pop it into the provided paid envelope, and send ‘er off to the lab. If you have DNA data already, it’s faster and only costs $49.95.

Once your results are ready, log into your profile, which will have an itemized breakdown of your report and suggestions for types of cannabis. The report is broken down into:

  • Anxiety 
  • Cognitive function & behavior 
  • Digestive 
  • Drug dependence 
  • Drug metabolism 
  • Fitness 
  • Metabolism 
  • Mood 
  • Musculoskeletal & immune 
  • Pain, nausea, & neurologic 
  • Sleep 
  • THC side effects 
Digging into my report

Clicking through the various reports shows how cannabinoids interact with your genetic profile in specific ways. For instance, clicking on “Anxiety” brings three more reports: “Fear Extinction,” “PTSD,” and “Stress Reactivity.” 

Under “Fear Extinction,” for example, is this summary of my specific DNA marker findings, as well as suggestions for types of cannabis to use:

In this case, it suggests I start using high-CBD ratio products, as well as cannabis with terpene profiles that include linalool and beta-caryophyllene. These responses are called “formulations,” and my report suggests seven different ones for specific needs. 

Also, the Personalized Wellness Plan links to relevant scientific studies and provides a link to products that match the formulation.

CEO May explained that although EndoCanna Health does sell terpene blends used in some recommended products, they don’t profit directly from sales of products recommended on the Wellness Plan: “We look at certificates of analysis from different product manufacturers and run them to a matching algorithm, and we look for several things: Number one, we look for the percentage of CBD, THC; Secondary, terpene profile; and then some others, like essential oils.”

How to use your cannabis DNA test results

“The best way to get the most out of your results is to understand what your genetic predispositions are to avoid an adverse effect and then to understand which products you can actually take,” said May. 

With your test results, you’re equipped to treat symptomatic conditions based on specific genotypes in your body. “If you have a predisposition to anxiety or stress reactivity, you will know that there are certain cannabinoid and terpene profiles that can actually turn that genetic expression on,” said May. 

For example, if you have a marker associated with not producing endocannabinoids when anxious—as the body ought to—you’ll be able to know what kind of cannabis can be substituted effectively.

And it’s a living document as well, meaning it will evolve as research does. “We have a HIPAA-compliant portal that is dynamically built with lifetime updates, meaning that if there is any research that is happening now that gets published, we provide that as an update to your report on a lifetime basis. And we’re fully secure and anonymized. All the data resides on Amazon’s AWS; it’s fully encrypted,” said May.

May continued to speak on what’s ahead: “The future is this whole feedback loop: It’s the ability to be able to get a response from people, how you know product ‘A’ is really working for you, learn from your experience, and then be able to produce better individualized products.” 

EndoCanna Health is a research lab as well, working on studies all over the world. The company is also looking into expanding the use of epigenetic data and using biomarkers, like Fitbit info, to create a dashboard that will further personalize your experience.

Is the test worth it?

My take is probably obvious by now: I think this is a fantastic resource. I love that it breaks down which cannabinoids and terpenes will help various aspects of my body makeup. As a medical cannabis user, I find this especially relevant—it also confirmed I’m high-risk for flu severity—but these reports will also be helpful for anyone without any medical issues because we all have different bodies and cannabis will interact with each body differently.

EndoCanna Health is also looking to collaborate on research, even with competitors, because “the only way to remove this ridiculous stigma is through science,” said May.

I love it. Let’s science our way from being disregarded as just stoners to having data to improve specific conditions or for overall health, and knowing how best to use cannabis for those specifications. 

And all this magic started with a teenager trying to smoke a cig, and failing. C’est la vie, eh?

Does endocannabinoid deficiency play a role in these common illnesses?

Meg Hartley by Leafly
Published on June 7, 2019 • Last updated July 28, 2020

For many suffering from chronic illness, cannabis is a godsend. From those dealing with the wrath of inflamed digestive systems, to the ones combating global musculoskeletal pain, and the millions who report that the agony in their heads is just the beginning of their symptoms—cannabis can help these fighters with their load of physical woes.

The ECS is present in every major bodily system, which is how its dysfunction can theoretically cause such a variety of conditions—and how cannabis manages to treat them.

But why? To explain, we need to back up a bit. You probably know that cannabinoids (like the popular CBD and THC) interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), and that our bodies produce natural endocannabinoids that work with the ECS receptors to maintain health in all the other bodily systems. But do you know what happens when we don’t produce enough  of these endocannabinoids?

Neither does science; not really, anyways. But Ethan Russo M.D., Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute has theorized that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency could be the cause behind irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraine, and other treatment-resistant syndromes. The ECS is present in every major bodily system, which is how its dysfunction can theoretically cause such a variety of conditions—and how cannabis manages to treat them.

These conditions, along with others that fall into this realm, are generally thought to be incurable and chronic, usually lasting for the rest of the sufferer’s life. I spoke with Dr. Russo about this matter, and he offered hope for chronic illness fighters, saying that since these conditions are generally acquired (rather than congenital, from birth), it seems to suggest an ECS disturbance is behind the illness. So hopefully it can be reversed in some fashion.

What is clinical endocannabinoid deficiency?

The theory of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) explains that these health conditions are due to a deficiency in endocannabinoid levels, akin to the way neurotransmitter deficiencies are behind other illnesses—like serotonin deficiency in depression. In other words, the theory posits that the cause of these syndromes is an insufficient amount of endocannabinoids functioning in the ECS.

The theory was first posed by Dr. Russo in 2001. Since then, he’s published several more well-cited papers on the topic.

“The vast majority of physicians just have no background in the ECS. It’s just not being taught.”

Dr. Russo’s 2016 paper, Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered, revisited this issue after substantial evidence for the theory was recorded. Firstly, statistically significant differences of the endocannabinoid anandamide were recorded in the cerebrospinal fluid of migraine sufferers. (Similar results have also been found in fibromyalgia fighters.) Decreased ECS function was found in another condition thought to fall into the CED rubric, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And clinical data has shown that cannabinoid treatment and lifestyle changes aimed to promote the health of the ECS produced evidence for decreased pain, improved sleep, and other benefits in fighters—yet more evidence linking ECS dysfunction to these conditions.

From the paper: “If endocannabinoid function were decreased, it follows that a lowered pain threshold would be operative, along with derangements of digestion, mood, and sleep among the almost universal physiological systems subserved by the endocannabinoid system (ECS).”

The CED theory also posits that such deficiencies could be present due to genetic reasons or be the result of a disease or injury.

The study primarily focuses on IBS, migraine, and fibromyalgia—all of which involve increased pain sensations in the affected areas—but disorders that may fall under the CED rubric include: PTSD, glaucoma, cystic fibrosis, types of neuropathy, phantom limb pain, neonatal failure to thrive, infantile colic, menstrual pain, repetitive miscarriages, hyperemesis gravidarum, bipolar disease, and many others. Many of these diseases are little understood and remain treatment resistant.

How to improve ECS “tone”

Unfortunately, there’s no magic-pill solution here, but there are methods to improve your ECS “tone,” which is the term used to describe the functioning of this little-understood system. Dr. Russo had some advice on the matter—and it’s all about taking good care of yourself to help ensure that the ECS doesn’t get out of balance. Here’s some tips gleaned from his wisdom:

  • Heal your gut: There is increasing evidence that the gut microbiome, and the levels of bacteria within it, are a major regulator of the ECS. People should avoid unnecessary antibiotics, as these damage the natural microbiome balance in the gut. Also try pro- and prebiotics to get that biome in shape.
  • Eat right: Pro-inflammatory foods, such as fried foods with trans-fats, or too many calories in general are bad for the ECS. It’s also important to cultivate consciousness about what you’re eating—how you were taught might not be best what’s best for your body now.
  • Exercise: Sedentary behavior is harmful to the ECS, and exercise is essential to improving tone. However, many fighters of chronic illness will experience a flare in symptoms if they push it, so a low-impact aerobic program is recommended for many.
  • Look at family health: ECS dysfunction isn’t genetic like eye color, but there are genetic tendencies, so be extra careful if there are others in your family who are fighters of chronic illness. Also be mindful about unhealthy habits you may share.
  • Sleep well and stress less: The ECS loves balance, and a body that’s stressed out and unrested is great at throwing all kinds of systems out-of-whack. So get those eight hours and get real about managing stress.

Dr. Russo says that there’s no “cure” for these conditions, but following these guidelines offers the opportunity for a major intervention in symptoms—which can look a whole lot like a cure.

Looking forward

As for what’s next, Dr. Russo is working on getting studies funded and running to provide further information on this topic, especially in relation to ECS and the gut’s microbiome. He’s also working on a diagnostic test for fibromyalgia sufferers—something that would be life-changing for those searching for a diagnosis, or who need to prove that they really have it.

And for now, he says that there needs to be more awareness about the ECS.

“The vast majority of physicians just have no background in the ECS,” he said. “Despite it being discovered almost 30 years ago, there’s been very little uptake of it in med school curricula—it’s just not being taught, and whether that’s an unfortunate association with the word ‘cannabis’ is unclear. But clearly we have a knowledge deficit in regard to it, and until we rectify that we won’t have the ability to treat our patients more effectively.”

So the next time you’re at the doctor, whether you suffer from a chronic illness, or not—think about asking your doctor what you can do to improve the health of your endocannabinoid system, just to see if they know what it is. (And maybe put some pressure on them to find out.)

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.”

What it’s like to be a parent who medicates with cannabis

Meg Hartley for Leafly
Published on June 14, 2019 • Last updated September 24, 2020

If you’re someone who has a strong affinity for the cannabis plant, you’re likely familiar with being judged for it.

But when you need it medically, this judgement can cause more harm than an awkward moment. When people make negative assumptions about what life is like for someone who medicates daily with cannabis, it can lead to things like job and home instability.

If someone, say, thinks that your chronic illness is actually a result of wanting to get high all day and be lazy—which it can look like, since illnesses demand rest—you aren’t likely to get the support that these illnesses demand.

“My ex-husband sued me for custody of our son, citing my medical marijuana patient status as a reason that I should lose him.”

And when you’re someone in this situation who’s also a parent—well, that’s a whole different level of inappropriate punishment due to a plant.

Jessie Gill, Registered Nurse and founder of Marijuana Mommy is someone who’s had all too much experience in this realm. As a public cannabis advocate and parent, she’s unfortunately dealt with a whole lot more than dirty looks.

“My ex-husband sued me for custody of our son, citing my medical marijuana patient status as a reason that I should lose him,” she says. “Fortunately, I’m in New Jersey where patients have more protection than other regions, but my son has been the victim of many cruel comments about me because of my medication.”

Perception around cannabis is quickly evolving. Yet even in legalized areas, parents often aren’t included in the changing perceptions of cannabis. The prevailing presumption often seems to be: If you’re using cannabis when a child is awake and under your care, then you’re putting the little one in harm’s way. But your medical condition doesn’t care what your kiddo is up to. You will have to combine cannabis and parenting. It’s inevitable.

The thing that people don’t seem to realize is that having a chronic condition can severely and negatively impact one’s ability to parent, and pharmaceutical medications often come with side effects that exacerbate this problem. In many cases of chronic illness sufferers, cannabis is the option that yields the best ability to parent.

For Many Parents, It’s Really the Best Option

Jessie suffers from a spinal injury and nerve damage in her neck, head, throat, and right arm. It causes mobility issues and constant pain, to the point that even holding her head up is excruciating. If she doesn’t medicate with cannabis, she’s completely debilitated and on bed rest. It was hard for her to go anywhere or do anything—even just watching her kids’ activities was too much.

Before cannabis, she had to medicate with opiates, Valium, Lyrica, as well as several other meds—a combination she says resulted in destructive consequences. Between the depression, fatigue, and stomach issues, she was barely even existing at all. She felt hopeless.

She’s grateful that cannabis relieves her pain, allowing her to fully engage with life again. She says, “Thanks to cannabis, I’m able to be present for my children. I can engage in their activities and enjoy time with them again. I can go places. I can sit at the table and play board games.”

“My five-year-old daughter has ADHD, and cannabis allows me to be more intuitive and compassionate while parenting difficult situations.”

Another mother familiar with this situation is Stefanie Taylor, who agrees that cannabis makes her a more present parent. She is a cannabis advocate who suffers from anxiety and Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, the latter of which results in widespread muscle pain and fatigue. Sitting or standing for an extended period is very painful, which can make the physical demands of parenting feel impossible, especially on top of her full-time corporate job.

Before cannabis, she was taking a monthly infusion of a biologically modified immunosuppressant, which made her weak and tired. But with cannabis, she’s able to handle the physical demands of parenting, adding, “I also feel that while I’m using cannabis, I’m a more patient parent. My five-year-old daughter has ADHD and I think cannabis allows me to be more intuitive and compassionate while parenting difficult situations.”

To Hide or Not to Hide

Both mothers are advocates of cannabis who generally don’t hide their use from others.

Stefanie says she feels frustrated that cannabis still has a negative social stigma, adding, “I also feel motivated to be an example of how cannabis can be used while parenting in a responsible and effective way.”

With Jessie’s position as a nurse, she says, “I feel a deep ethical obligation to share my story and to share information about the benefits with other potential patients—so I don’t feel like hiding it is an option.”

Conversely, there are many who feel that hiding their cannabis use is the only option. Kevin from Chicago says that sharing his medicating with others would leave him open for custody issues. His wife and trusted friends know, but he keeps it a secret from everyone else to avoid judgment as a parent or in other ways.

When asked if it’s safest to hide his use from other adults, he says, “Always. As much as I’d like to say otherwise, nobody should know. You never know when it can come back to bite you.”

Talking Cannabis With the Kids

Kevin includes his stepson in people he doesn’t tell about his medicating, being careful not to smell like cannabis around the 11-year-old. But Jessie and Stefanie’s kids are aware.

“Our children are our future. Teaching them the real benefits and the real risks of cannabis is how we change the stigma.”

Jessie says her kids were very different ages when she became a patient. “My daughter had just started college, and my son was in third grade,” she says. “My daughter was a little freaked out at first because of the stigma, but after watching me suffer so much, she was also hopeful for any solution. Seeing my remarkable medical results made us all realize how incredible this plant is. For my son, it was different. He hadn’t been exposed to the stigma yet. I knew I had to prepare him for the nonsense he’d hear in school and the hatred he’d encounter from others.”

Jessie also worried that if she didn’t tell her kids, they’d find her medicine and be afraid that she was doing something illegal. She adds, “It’s extremely important to educate our kids about cannabis at home, because they are not receiving accurate information at school. Our children are our future. Teaching them the real benefits and the real risks of cannabis is how we change the stigma.”

Stefanie’s daughter is only five, so she approaches the matter in a way that makes sense to her. “My daughter is aware that I use cannabis to help relieve chronic pain,” she says. “I talked to her about cannabis as a plant and how the flowers are the medicine. She knows not to touch someone else’s medicine (pharmaceuticals, too). I keep all of my cannabis products out of reach. I know there will be more mature conversations as she ages.”

She adds that her kiddo’s knowledge has caused an awkward moment or two, saying, “I’ve never asked my daughter to not discuss my health or medication with other people, although I considered it after she confided in a stranger at a restaurant!”

Clearing the Smoke on Stigma

These cannabis patients are working hard to keep their health in balance so they can care for their children. Stigma around cannabis use has real consequences, especially for patients—and even more so for patients who are also parents. The people in this article are responsible adults, hardworking parents who deserve to be treated with compassion, and, frankly, some common sense.

People who are unfamiliar with cannabis need to know that the reality is nothing like what it is on TV, and it’s also not like “that one time they did cannabis and it was totally crazy.” The experience stops being crazy pretty quickly, especially when you’re using it to medicate. If you have pain all over your body and then something takes that pain away, you’re able to think better, even if it is at a slightly different angle.

Also, have those who judge ever taken a strong painkiller? Do they think (and goodness, they must) patient parents ought to be taking Oxycontin all day? And let’s not even get started on the “wine mom” phenomenon. People have been medicating with cannabis since the beginning of history—it’s a valid medicine.

How cannabis helps ‘spoonies’ soothe the symptoms of chronic illness

By Meg Hartley
Published on May 17, 2019 • Last updated July 28, 2020

Medical cannabis is known for its ability to quell seizures, dull pain, and squash anxiety. It can also aid people with less well-known—but not uncommon—conditions, ones that often come with a life-long sentence. We call ourselves “spoonies.” In my case, fibromyalgia was the main force behind my conversion, but sadly there are a lot of ways to join the ranks.

The term was coined at a diner, when a lupus fighter named Christine Miserandino tried to explain the challenges of living life with the disease to a friend. Her friend knew the facts, but wanted to know what it felt like as an ongoing experience—as a lifestyle. Christine was a bit stunned: trying to sum up the limitations that affect every single aspect of your life is an overwhelming task.

Cannabis is a very common medical aid and ally to spoonies, offering soothing powers to all kinds of symptoms through the power of the body-wide endocannabinoid system.

She then grabbed a bunch of spoons from surrounding tables. She handed her friend the utensil bouquet, telling her that life with chronic illness is like only having so many spoons to get through the day—far fewer than the average person. If she borrows from tomorrow, she might be able to swing what she needs to get done today; but tomorrow has just as few spoons, so she’ll run a high risk of running out. And running out of spoons/overdoing it means big-time symptom flares and even less spoons. Maybe for weeks.

Christine asked her friend to go through her day, removing spoons appropriately as each activity demanded: getting up, showering, getting dressed, eating, etc. Half of her friend’s spoons were gone before she even left the house. Christine told her she had to decide what to miss out on in order to conserve spoons—run errands or make dinner? Wash the dishes or your hair? See a friend or catch up on work?

Her friend became sullen and asked how she possibly dealt with those limitations every day, forever.

A best friend to so many kinds of spoonies

Christine answered her friend’s serious question with a serious answer, and told her that spending her precious spoons chilling together was always a wise expenditure. Personally, I would have added: “And there’s no effing way I could do it without cannabis.” Though it can’t give me desperately needed spoons, cannabis makes getting through a regular spoon-starved day a whole lot more palatable—and a full-blown flare less horrific.

Cannabis is a very common medical aid and ally to spoonies, offering soothing powers to all kinds of symptoms through the power of the body-wide endocannabinoid system. We’ll touch on five conditions that can turn someone into a spoonie, as well as how cannabis is said to help treat symptoms.

Lupus

In the disease fought by Christine, the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissues, and organs. It affects many different systems, resulting in many different symptoms. These may include extreme fatigue, headaches, painful and swollen joints, fever, anemia, confusion and memory loss, swelling, pain in the chest with deep breathing, hair loss, light sensitivity, abnormal blood clotting, ulcers, and more—including very serious issues like organ failure.

Science is extremely behind the ball when it comes to studying how cannabis can assist chronic illnesses, and the lupus community has not been served in this effort. However, there has been promising results in regard to cannabis aiding other diseases that affect the immune system and inflammatory response. Lupus is nicknamed “The Great Imitator” due to sharing symptoms with other diseases, and science has proven that cannabis aids in many of these shared symptoms. The next disease is one such example.

Fibromyalgia

This is the bugger getting me down. Many kinds of physical pain are involved with this disease, whose cause is unknown. I could write a whole essay on the different kinds of pain, but instead I’ll share that when I broke (nay, shattered/comminuted fracture) my foot a while back I walked on it for ten days because it hurt less than the rest of my body, so I figured it was fine. Oops. And then there’s the mental confusion of “fibro fog,” fatigue, insomnia, and other fun stuff like depression and IBS symptoms.

My dear friend cannabis helps ease the pain, turning cutting shards of glass in my body into warm melty goo. It aids in lifting my spirit, which helps me push through the exhaustion, then gets me to eat through nausea. When I can do no more—when I become spoon-less—cannabis helps me emotionally handle the extreme amount of rest dictated by this advanced stage of the disease. And science backs me up here, with one fibromyalgia study showing so much improvement using cannabis that half of the participants quit their other medications completely.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)

Referred to by some as chronic fatigue syndrome, ME causes severe exhaustion, a debilitating symptom that’s often minimized by culture and, deplorably, even by the medical community. The cause is unknown. Rest and sleep don’t improve overwhelming ME fatigue, and it worsens with physical and mental activity. Sufferers also battle headaches, poor memory, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, nausea, palpitations, insomnia, and sore throat or glands.

Unfortunately, science has not studied ME much in general, and not at all in relation to cannabis, but it has been recorded as anecdotally helpful by scientists. Another fibromyalgia study also showed improvement in many overlapping symptoms. Because of the sedative effects of certain cannabis strains, it’s said that using an energizing strain during the day can be crucial factor in improving symptoms of ME. Modest dosing can also prevent feelings of sluggishness.

Crohn’s disease and Colitis

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two primary forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They are both characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, though colitis is limited to the colon and Crohn’s can occur throughout the digestive system. Both diseases can result in abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, anorexia, and malnutrition.

Cannabis can lend a hand in living life with colitis or Crohn’s. It’s often a qualifier in medical cannabis states, with patients using it to fight the full range of symptoms. Cannabis is an effective IBD aid largely because of its ability to reduce inflammation. A small-but-promising study on Crohn’s disease found that participants needed less surgery and reduced bowel movements while using cannabis, as well as drastically reduced need for other medicines.

Endometriosis

A woman’s uterus has endometrial tissue that builds up throughout her hormone cycle, then breaks down and sheds—a never-particularly-fun process called menstruation. In endometriosis, this tissue grows outside of the womb, spreading itself on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other organs. When it’s time for the shedding of blood and other cells, they become painfully trapped in the body.

This problem can result in severe menstrual cramps, chronic lower-back, abdominal, and pelvic pain, painful intercourse, painful urination or bowel movements, IBS symptoms, and infertility. Traditional treatments (including risky surgeries) only try to keep the endometriosis from advancing, but cannabis has actually been shown to stop cell growth in mice as well as helping symptoms, especially pain.

We’re more common than culture regards

There’s many more ways to become a spoonie: Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, Ehlers Danlos syndrome, or Hashimoto’s—all four (and potentially many more) may be aided by cannabis via the body’s widespread endocannabinoid system. It’s frustrating that science doesn’t understand these illnesses quite yet, regardless of the stunning amount of promise it shows in improving the lives of spoonies.

When you total the numbers of Americans estimated to be suffering from the eight diseases mentioned in this article, and there’s many more, you get 91.5 million—that’s about 27% of Americans. Though there is comorbidity to be factored in (people who have more than one of these diseases), there’s also millions still searching for a diagnosis, as well as many conditions that weren’t mentioned.

We’re talking about a lot of people suffering from conditions that are barely regarded by society here. A whole lot. And they are generally invisible illnesses, which adds another dimension to feeling ignored. It’s like we’re drowning a world of problems that only we can see. Hug your spoonies (and maybe smoke ‘em out), because you probably know at least a couple—whether you’re aware of it or not.

Here’s what symptom relief with cannabis feels like for medical patients

By Meg Hartley
Published on May 14, 2020 • Last updated July 28, 2020

Being a medical cannabis patient often means knowing two worlds—the symptom-ridden world of being in need of medication, and the world of bodily woes dramatically reduced. Because the endocannabinoid system works with other systems throughout the body, cannabis is able to lessen or even eliminate painful health conditions for millions of patients around the world.

I’m one such medicator, and I often find myself describing the sensation of how cannabis changes my symptoms of illness with illustrative language. I wondered how other medical cannabis patients describe the before and after of symptoms, so I reached out to other fighters of a variety of health conditions for some insight on how it feels for them.

I discovered that I am far from being alone in understanding that magic moment of relief. From CBD giving one woman back her ability to drive and to dream (not at the same time), to one man’s sudden insight into how Popeye must feel when spinach gives him that pep, this plant is helping all kinds of people, in all kinds of ways.

Fighters for health describe how medical cannabis helps
Stefanie, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, age 36, San Diego, CA

“Before, I feel like my chronic pain is taking up space in my lungs, my skin, and my joints. After I use cannabis, I feel the chronic pain melt away, and I feel like I can take the first deep breath. It feels like all the pain that is creeping just beneath my skin suddenly melts into the rest of my body and I feel heavy/cozy and light/weightless at the same time.”

Brian Penny, Chronic Pain, age 39, Tucson, AZ

“I totally understand Popeye better as an adult than I did watching as a child. The moment the THC hits, I notice a Joker-like smile start to spread across my face. My speech speeds up (if I’m talking to someone), and when I realize it happened, I stop and comment on it. Then I laugh and forget what I was initially talking about.

Chronic pain is what I’m treating, and that’s actually what causes the smile (and that Popeye feeling). It gets pretty miserable waking up in the morning, but as soon as the medication kicks in, it lightens the load on my body immensely. It’s a pep-in-your-step kinda thing that gets me off the couch and getting things done, rather than the typical couch lock stereotype. Without it, the combination of pain and age make me feel like I’m moving through quicksand.”

Seth, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, age 36, Framingham, MA

“I have irritable bowel syndrome, which can be quite debilitating to my lifestyle. Some days are normal and others are a must-get-to-the-bathroom-immediately nightmare. There really isn’t a medication or cure, but my friend Mary Jane has changed everything.

IBS is triggered by my stress and anxiety, and to manage that I consume cannabis in a variety of ways. I’m less anxious at work and in social settings, I sleep without my mind racing, and I have normal bowel movements way more often than ever before. Life with IBS will never be perfect, but with cannabis it’s no doubt much better.”

Anita Wolf, Fibromyalgia, age 55, Paso Robles, CA

“Part of fibro is bad sleep, not entering REM, not getting restorative sleep. I went years not getting the right kind of sleep. I now smoke some cannabis before bed and I can feel my body melting into sleep. My mind quiets, my legs relax (restless leg is not just disruptive but very painful), my peripheral neuropathy quiets, and once in full effect, I can roll onto my side. I actually wake up and not feel like getting out of bed is useless.

I am still stiff in the morning but I dream! I hadn’t dreamt in years before cannabis! I don’t take pain meds anymore. My body has had a chance to recharge. I still have pain but not nearly as bad. I use cbd during the day when the pain gets too bad. I can actually drive distances without excruciating pain. I drove 5 hours one day and thanks to a fairly good night’s sleep and my CBD vape I made it without tears.”

Sophie Ryan, Optic Pathway Glioma Brain Tumor, age 7, Sherman Oaks, CA

“Cannabis makes me feel healthy and strong! It has really helped me with my boo boo in my brain and it keeps the seizures away. If I don’t have my cannabis my seizures come back really fast, and I don’t like that. My mommy said that my immune system is extra strong too, and that helps me stay well. I love taking cannabis!”

Mary, CPTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Arthritis, age 36, Portland, OR

“Before MJ I often feel stuck ruminating on a subject. Cannabis frees me from repetitive thinking patterns and disrupts me to focus on something that feels good. Physically, my body feels less tight, and I am able to relax.”

Lauren, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Dercums Disease, age 32, San Diego, CA

“I’ve always felt the feeling of a warm gooey egg being cracked on the top of my head, that melts, loosens, and soothes my symptom-laden body as it makes it way down. Without it, I’d be regularly immobile, unable to eat or take necessary medicine, and stuck using opiates, steroids, and NSAIDs, which I now avoid. Cannabis aids my recovery from migraines and reduces the varied neurological symptoms of neuroinflammation or brain fog.

It simultaneously seems to repair my proprioception, rectifies my overactive autoimmune response, and soothes my gastrointestinal illness by activating the rest/digest state of my otherwise hypervigilant autonomic nervous system while stimulating my appetite. Weed relieves many types of pain, most notably, my vascular spasticity, allodynia, neuropathic pain, myofascial tumors, lymphatic flow, and chronic inflammation.

Cerebrally, I literally feel my vibration frequency shift once the purp has done its tasks. I become more mindful, patient, and empathic as minor euphoria highlights the vibrant, radiant colors of life, savoring moments of beauty and expressing our souls highest good through music and art.

This sacred herb services us in the process of honoring our self-love, embracing grounding embodiment practices, and prioritizing the wellness rituals of our self-care. Ultimately it unites people while embracing our need to simultaneously remain autonomous agents. Its miraculous magic just lights me up about life!”

Can orgasms help your endocannabinoid system?

Meg Hartley for Leafly
Published on May 12, 2020 • Last updated July 28, 2020

What if sufferers of certain health conditions having to do with endocannabinoid deficiency were able to heal through the power of orgasm? That question has been on my mind since reading a 2017 study which hypothesizes that endocannabinoids can play an important role in the sexual response cycle.

Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that the body produces which bind to and activate cannabinoid receptors, much like THC and CBD in cannabis. Specifically, the above study showed significant increases in the body’s levels of the endocannabinoid 2-AG post-orgasm—which could help contribute to the delightful experience we colloquially refer to as “post-coital bliss.”

So, if you’re trying to improve the functioning of your endocannabinoid system (ECS) and thereby related health issues, should you be prioritizing regular orgasms in your self-care routine? I delved into this question with a couple cannabis experts to find out.

Getting down to raise endocannabinoid levels

Dr. Genester Wilson-King, MD, obstetrician, gynecologist, and cannabis advocate, was also intrigued by the 2-AG study mentioned above. “Endocannabinoids … might play a very important role in the sexual response cycle, leading to maybe a better understanding and treatment of sexual dysfunction,” she said.

When asked if regular orgasms could help ECS function, Dr. Dustin Sulak, D.O., said: “There’s a little bit of evidence supporting this theory, not conclusive; but the ECS does well with similar stimuli that create a short-term strong production of cannabinoids, like exercise.”

I asked Sulak if orgasms could be a “double-whammy” since they stimulate the ECS by both being an enjoyable exercise as well as directly boosting endocannabinoid levels: “Absolutely. Sex [with orgasm] is the double-whammy for sure. It’s a triple or quadruple whammy. It involves touch. In animals, touch and social grooming are strong ways to stimulate endocannabinoid release. I think many people don’t have enough social grooming activities or physically touch each other on a daily basis, but feel better when they do.”

Doc’s orders

So how often should one be taking advantage of these benefits? According to Dr. Sulak, “I would suggest at least once a day doing something that strongly stimulates endocannabinoid activity. And so, perhaps if it’s a day when somebody didn’t have a chance to exercise, or dance, or sing, and the day’s winding down, and they realize, well, it’s time for a different type of practice, I would say go for it.”

Women could actually benefit from more than one orgasm per day. “I think experts in the orgasm field would recommend, especially for women, to have several per day for optimal health. And you know, typically for women, one orgasm can follow the next. And so there’s not a good reason for stopping at one,” he said.

Dr. Wilson-King noted that cannabis can potentially help bring back multiples for some women: “I don’t know that it can help a person who is not multi-orgasmic, but a person who has had multiple orgasms in the past, certainly using cannabis can enhance that.”

But it’s different for the fellas. “What a lot of men don’t realize is that they can absolutely have orgasms without ejaculating,” said Dr. Sulak. “The practice is essentially to approach orgasm very slowly and cautiously, then wait in that space that leads up to orgasm. It starts out feeling like a very narrow space where they kind of get right up to the edge and then fall over. With enough practice that edge can become miles long, and they can remain at the edge and have all sorts of orgasmic feelings and actual contractions in their body without ejaculation.”

Self-lovin’ and wellness

The aforementioned study on 2-AG studied masturbation, and both Drs. Sulak and Wilson-King stressed that one does not need to be partnered to enjoy the benefits regular orgasms can have for the endocannabinoid system.

Dr. Sulak elaborates, saying “I really want to encourage people to not feel like they need a partner to achieve the health benefits. So many people think, what am I going to do right now? Oh, I’ll either jog or maybe I’ll meditate or something. And the idea of a sexual health practice probably doesn’t even occur to most of the readers.”

So, the next time you’ve got a free hour to engage in some wellness, remember Dr. Sulak’s words: “Meditation, running, and masturbation can all produce increased endocannabinoid levels and states of euphoria and mental clarity.”

Cannabis can help release endocannabinoids

While Dr. Wilson-King doesn’t recommend cannabis first for help in getting to orgasm, she said it absolutely can help for some: “Cannabis is a libido enhancer. It helps you to relax, helps you to have maybe more body awareness and sensitivity … Pharmaceuticals are usually single molecular substances that have one effect, whereas cannabis is multifactorial, such that it affects the brain, it affects the body, it affects the vaginal tissue, it affects the sensitivity. The advantage of cannabis is its multi-pronged approach.”

She also noted that cannabis can do wonders for women who deal with painful sex, saying, “It can relax the vaginal muscles, relax the mind, and has the patient focus more on her partner and her body as opposed to worrying about pain.”

As for how much to use, she said, “Using cannabis for sex is generally dose-related, especially for men—lower doses really help, whereas higher doses, you get too stimulated and can’t focus and may have difficulty, men more than women, but low doses are effective for both.”

Dr. Sulak is on the same page. “The goal I think for someone that is really wanting to use this information for health would be to consider using a little THC at a low dose to help them kind of change their gears and compartmentalize the rest of their day, creating a sacred space and a new mindset as they approach the practice. But not to use so much THC that they’re very intoxicated. Rather, they should be trying to use their own equipment—to get high on their own supply,” he said, referencing tapping into one’s own endocannabinoids.

6 weird ways to consume cannabis

Meg Hartley
Published on April 8, 2020 • Last updated July 28, 2020

Once limited to just plant or butter form, the recreational market has opened up products like tinctures, vape pens, topicals, and much more. If you’re new to cannabis, or live in an illegal state, that alone may be news to you. 

But there’s even more innovation going on in the cannabis industry, beyond the typical products. So we’ve rounded up product picks of some unusual forms of cannabis consumption. 

These products help all kinds of people get the medication or relaxation they need, and in forms that make consuming cannabis more feasible for all kinds of people. Get ready to branch out …

Mary’s Medicinals Transdermal Patches

(Courtesy of Mary’s Medicinals)

This product is a med consumer’s dream! These sticky patches are 2×2 inches, and meant to be placed on the skin somewhere venous, like on top of your foot or on your wrist. They release cannabinoids for up to 12 hours, which makes them great for sleeping—no waking up to take another pill or smoke another bowl with these guys. 

They’re also dreamy for traveling—TSA agents may be getting hip to what a vape pen looks like, but they won’t be able to tell your canna patch apart from one that releases nicotine or birth control.

CannaDips

While the idea of chew gives many the icks, this product shouldn’t be disregarded for its similarities to tobacco products. The packaging looks like a regular dip tin, but when you open it, there’s little pouches inside. These pouches are filled with coconut fiber, essential oils, monk fruit, and a dry cannabis tincture.

As a Leafly reader, you probably know that holding a regular tincture in your mouth (instead of swallowing it) lets it absorb directly into your bloodstream instead of going through your stomach, which takes longer. Holding the canna pouch inside your cheek takes advantage of this process, leading to relief in 10-15 minutes, and releasing meds for up to 40. And the pouch is not visible. 

Cannadips come in American spice, citrus, and mint. (Hot tip: mint is great with coffee.)

Ripple Dissolvable THC 

(Courtesy of Stillwater)

Ever wish you could just spike a drink or food with cannabis? Well, now you can! Ripple comes in single-serving packets of powder that are odorless, flavorless, calorie-free, dissolvable, and full of THC and/or CBD. This means you can add some to your water bottle, sprinkle it on your cereal, or add it into just about anything you can think of.

Ripple packets contain organic coconut oil, sorbitol, modified food starch, and cannabinoid distillates—so there’s nothing too crazy making that dissolvable magic happen. (Though sorbitol isn’t recommended in excessive amounts, so perhaps don’t add it to everything you can think of.) They also have a CBD-heavy variety as well as a 1:1.

Medizin Capsules

Sometimes you want relief to hit quickly, and sometimes you want it a bit later. Pills, tablets, and capsules offer the delayed effects of edibles, but are quick ‘n’ discreet. Say you don’t want to be stoney for the getting-situated part of a concert, getting through security, finding a seat, etc.—but would like that soothing inside-out feeling of edibles once the show gets rolling. Just take it (or them) the second you park, and you’ll be chillaxed in time for the show.

Similarly, medical consumers can take advantage of this form of cannabis when they know they won’t have the ability to medicate. Say you’re heading into a long meeting and concerned that your pre-medicating won’t last through the whole event, you can pop this 10mg capsule before it starts. 

And if the meeting’s uber-long, take another before symptoms hit again, feigning like it’s a regular ol’ Advil and not symptom-soothing THC.

Gum and mints

(Courtesy of Joygum)

Chewing gum has never been so fun! Another super-stealth product, Joygum can get tossed in a bag—great for chilling out a plane ride, quelling unexpected symptoms, or spicing up an event that’s gotten dull. 

Another one that absorbs through your mouth lining, this gum starts working in just ten minutes. It comes in 7 flavors with a variety of THC:CBD ratios.

And it must be mentioned that gum isn’t the only thing rocking it in the mouth-freshening-canna department! Menta Mints are another way to dose up whilst getting good breath, coming in four flavors, three with THC and one offering CBD as well. 

Breath strips are another great option—the version by Escape Artists comes in Minty Mint and Sour Lemon, each with 10mg of THC. 

Foria Suppositories

These were formulated with female needs in mind, easing the pain and discomfort experienced with menstruation, and have become a godsend to thousands of endometriosis fighters

But they can also be inserted into the other hole where the sun don’t shine, taking about 20 minutes to start providing localized relief (near the spine, through the rectum) for other types of pelvic pain, IBD, lower back pain, and sciatica.

But when used this way, they’ve got some saucier benefits as well. If you’re interested in sensual activities involving this area, but the idea of it, umm, tenses you up, these are said to help relax things. 

If that’s not for you, rectal use of this product also can help with both clitoral and penile arousal issues. They are meant to be used 30-60 minutes before sex.

Other bonkers edibles

(Image courtesy of Cornucopia)

This list would not be complete without highlighting several out-there and under-appreciated edibles from Leafly’s extensive collection—because we’re living in a time where you can buy Weedos, and people don’t celebrate that fact nearly enough. 

If you’re not feelin’ cheesy, perhaps some Mixed Fruit Crispy Treats are what you need—part sugar cereal, part ‘mallow, and up to 50mg of THC goodness, mmm. 

Still not quite hitting the munchie spot? You must be after something heartier, like Infused Beef Jerky? Nah? Maybe if you add a little Pot Sauce? There you go.

It’s a beautiful time to be alive, isn’t it?