Top 10 Common Cannabinoids on a Certificate of Analysis (CoA)

The certificate of analysis (CoA) has become a common document in the world of cannabis business  and marketing. It has grown more central as hemp-derived cannabinoids are available in most of the country, including states without organized medical or adult use cannabis programs. This article will look at what a CoA is all about and the common cannabinoids that you’ll see represented on one. 

What is a CoA?

You can find them on the website of every seed producer, retailer, and wholesaler of cannabis products: a specific document that is a database representing a particular product’s chemical basis. The layout and details of a CoA may vary, but the purpose is the same. It is a document associated with a cannabis derived product, “attesting to its laboratory analysis for cannabinoids and in some cases adulterants, heavy metals and pesticides, mold, etc. [1].” 

That is the scope we are concerned with in this article, but a CoA is applicable to more than cannabis products. Generically, it is ”a document containing test results that are provided to the customer by the supplier to demonstrate that product meets the defined test [2].” As such it could be used as a proof of claim for any product, but it is usually associated with “manufactured products like food, chemicals, research products, and pharmaceutical products [3].” 

The CoA benefits customers and producers alike.

So the CoA ensures a certain quality of produced goods, it is a quality assessment to make sure that the purity, potency and safety of the product is within its specification range [3]. A CoA may seem to be primarily customer-facing but it benefits customers and producers alike. Customers and producers can both have confidence that what is claimed on the packaging is in fact true, connecting both parties to measurable standards on which to base business and interaction. 

What should be on a CoA? 

CoAs come in a variety of formats but most will have similar identifiable features. We can break them down to three basic components: first the top or header section, second the body section, and third the bottom or footer section of a CoA. 

Typically a CoA will have a top section to identify the lab doing the testing, the name of the company whose product is being tested, the product sample that is being tested, and a particular batch identifier. A date of testing, or a date of issuance of the CoA, is also common. 

Skipping to the bottom, the end of the CoA or footer area will usually have info about the testing facility. This can include the lab’s official seals or signatures of approval, and/or elements like contact info, licenses, notes, and disclaimers. 

The header and footer contain crucial identification and functional elements that make the CoA official and operational. If a QR code (quick response code) is included it may be in the header or footer too. QR codes are simply barcodes that have fast machine readability by smart phone cameras, so they have become popular linking tools since their invention in 1994 [4].

Reading results on a CoA

The body of the CoA has the information about what was tested for, and shows what the results of the tests actually were. Cannabinoid potency is very often the first set of results on the CoA. Results of most interest, like potency or “total THC” or “total CBD,” may also be included as a sidebar or separate section. We’ll look at the top 10 cannabinoids you’ll find there a little later, but each cannabinoid found in the sample will be listed, generally in order of amount found, highest to lowest. 

LOD and LOQ

Each compound’s line will have a LOD and LOQ number. Limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantitation (LOQ) are parameters used to validate analytical methods [5]. 

LOD is the smallest amount of concentration of an analyte in the sample that can reliably be distinguished from zero. 

LOQ is the lowest concentration of the analyte that can be determined with an acceptable repeatability and trueness.

These two measurements work together to establish a signal-to-noise ratio—in overly basic terms, to determine what amount of a compound is minimally-measurable, vs. the ability of the instrument to accurately minimally-measure said compound [6]. Suffice it to say that LOD and LOQ are important testing factors in lab analysis and CoAs. 

Some CoAs also include a measurement of uncertainty, letting you know the variability of a test’s accuracy. This is generally expressed as a “plus/minus” amount or percentage. The actual measurement may be above or below the listed measurement by the acknowledged amount. 

Mass vs. percent 

Results for each cannabinoid or other compound will commonly be given in a measured amount of weight and in percentage of the total product weight. Percentages are important, and especially for certain hemp derived cannabinoids. 

The 2018 Farm Bill 

Marijuana is a federally-controlled substance on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Schedule 1 list, meaning it is highly illegal on a national level. At the same time, a majority of Americans now live in states that sanction and regulate medical and/or adult use of cannabis. 

A lot has happened since the U.S. War on Drugs began in the 1970s, and the prohibition on cannabis of any sort was instituted. People and politicians are reassessing harsh regulations and punishments around cannabis that have resulted in destructive policies. Bad policies which prioritize policing and control over human health and well being have made the U.S. a leader in locking up its own citizens. 

Stakeholders at all levels must be attuned to the accurate and documented measurement of Delta 9 THC in products.

One step in combating the decades-long demonization of cannabis happened in 2018 when Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill. The Bill established new definitions for illegal marijuana and legal hemp, both from the same plant, lol. The Bill stated that the federal government considers cannabis with less than .3% Delta-9 THC (the main psychoactive component of cannabis) per dry weight to be “hemp.” Cannabis with more than .3% Delta-9 THC per dry weight is considered illegal “marijuana.” Under the Bill, all other plant material and substances derived from legally-defined hemp are also federally-compliant [7]. 

The distinction of the percentage of Delta 9 THC in cannabis then becomes an important initial test for cannabis derived products. This helps to explain the increasing prevalence of CoAs in the industry—stakeholders at all levels must be attuned to the accurate and documented measurement of Delta 9 THC in products. 

Testing, testing

Beyond the federal legal distinction, states may have specific regulations determining which, and what amount of, particular cannabinoids are allowed in hemp derived cannabis. Testing labs are able to customize testing protocols to ensure products are within legal parameters for specific states. 

Seeing the amount of each cannabinoid in a product gives consumers the ability to monitor what they consume. A CoA lists these in an organized way that can also be used to compare batch to batch, and product to product. 

In addition to showing the cannabinoid levels of a cannabis product, CoAs may show tests for contaminants and impurities. These can include leftover materials from production or conversion processes, or harmful materials that were absorbed from the air, water or soil the cannabis was grown in. Regardless of the source, a CoA can report any detectable foreign materials.  

Top 10 Cannabinoids on a CoA

If you start paying attention to CoAs, you’ll see certain cannabinoids more often than others. The cannabis plant has around 540 chemical substances, and over 100 are cannabinoids [8]. Cannabinoids are simply “the chemical compounds of cannabis that have an effect on the human body when the plant is consumed [9].” 

The endocannabinoid system is a complex cell-signaling system which is integral for maintaining health.

The effects are made possible because of the human endocannabinoid system that has evolved to create and use cannabinoids in our physiological processes. It is a complex cell-signaling system which is integral for maintaining health. Its receptors are found in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells of the human body [10].

Cannabinoids may appear more often on CoAs because they are naturally more abundant in the plant matter that created a product, or because they have been added as distillate or isolate during production. Here are 10 very common cannabinoids that appear on CoAs, and what you should know about them. 

CBD

Cannabidiol (ka-nə-bə-ˈdī-ȯl) 

C21H30O2

CBD is a cannabinoid discovered in 1940. It is often the most prevalent compound in cannabis, the other being THC. CBD is not psychoactive like THC, and may even change THC’s effects on the body when both are present [11]. When interacting with the endocannabinoid system, CBD does not bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors. Rather, it interacts indirectly with the receptors through transient receptor potential vanilloid, or TRPV1 receptors [12]. There is interest and research in CBD related to anxiety, cognition, movement disorders, and pain, but more high-quality evidence that it is effective may be needed before it is available more widely for these purposes [11]. There is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved version of CBD, called Epidiolex, available by medical prescription for use in treating seizures [13]. 

CBG

Cannabigerol (kə-ˈna-bə-’ger-ȯl) 

C21H32O2

CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in trace amounts in harvested and processed cannabis. Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) is the precursor of cannabigerol (CBG), and is responsible for creating most downstream synthesized cannabinoids like THC and CBD [14]. Because of this CBG is lovingly called the “mother of all cannabinoids,” but since most of the CBGa is converted into cannabinoids, traditionally there is very little left in the plant upon harvest and use. Therefore CBG has a high production cost and it can actually take thousands of pounds of biomass to yield a small amount of CBG isolate [15]. A 2018 study indicates that CBG is a regulator of endocannabinoid signaling [16], so it may have a small part to play in much of human physiology. 

CBN

Cannabinol (kə-ˈna-bə-nȯl) 

C21H26O2 

CBN is a cannabinoid found in low concentration in the cannabis plant and is mainly a product of the aging of tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCa). When cannabis is aged, THCa in the plant converts to cannabolic acid (CBNa), and when decarboxylated by air, heat or light, converts to CBN [17]. CBN is sometimes considered to have psychotropic properties [18], and can have up to 25% potency compared to Delta-9 THC [19]. It is reported that CBN is sedative but proper studies are scarce [18]. CBN has exhibited properties related to many medical uses, but again, more studies and data are needed before these are borne out [19].

CBC

Cannabichromene (kə-ˈna-bə-ˈkrō-mēn) 

C21H30O2

CBC is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid found in low to levels in cannabis. It reportedly does not affect the psychoactivity of THC, but does seem to have a different effect if THC is present [19]. Like CBD, CBC works through TRPV1 receptors and by stimulating CB2 receptors, but does not have significant activity at CB1 receptors [19]. CBC has been studied for its pharmacological uses [20], and is said to have significant pharmacological potential based on existing research [19].

CBDV

Cannabidivarin (kə-ˈna-bə-ˈver-ən) 

C19H26O2

CBDV is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in low levels in cannabis [21]. It interacts with the body in various ways including via TRP receptors and CB1 receptors, the latter by affecting how the endocannabinoid system processes and modulates certain chemicals [19]. There is not much data available about CBDV’s medical uses, but it has shown potential as a tool against seizures, perhaps an even better one than CBD [19]. 

9 THC

Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (ˈdel-tə |ˈnīn | te-trə-hī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-ˌnȯl) 

C21H30O2

∆9 THC is the main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis and was discovered in 1964. It is often the most prominent compound in the plant, but the amount can vary quite a bit—please see the above section on the 2018 Farm Bill and +/- .3% ∆9 THC definitions of hemp and marijuana for context. Prior to the revised definition of hemp, the word “THC” used alone often referred to ∆9 THC, even though there are other types of THC (see below). ∆9 THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system via CB1 and CB2 receptors, some of which are located throughout the body including parts of the brain that affect “thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and movement [22].” THC has been widely studied and used for medical reasons [19]. Nabiximols, aka trade name Sativex, is a medical preparation of THC, made by GW Pharmaceuticals [23]. It is available for prescription in 25 countries, and is being tested for use in the United States [24].  

8 THC

Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (ˈdel-tə |ˈāt | te-trə-hī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-ˌnȯl) 

C21H30O2

∆8 THC THC occurs naturally in the cannabis plant, but in low quantities. It has a double bond on the 8th carbon chain, and delta-9 has a double bond on the 9th carbon chain. This small distinction is enough to produce slightly different cognitive and physical effects [25]. Research in 1973 compared Delta-8 to Delta-9 THC and reported that Delta-8 produced effects similar to Delta-9, at a third less potency [26]. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) additionally stated that Delta-8 THC has psychoactive and intoxicating effects, similar to delta-9 THC, and that concentrated amounts of Delta-8 THC are typically manufactured from hemp-derived CBD [27]. Modern Delta-8 products have been called “marijuana-light” and “diet weed” which aligns with these findings. 

10 THC

Delta-10-Tetrahydrocannabinol (ˈdel-tə |ˈten | te-trə-hī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-ˌnȯl)

C21H30O2 

∆10 THC is another cannabinoid that occurs in low levels in cannabis. Following the pattern, it has its double bond on the 10th carbon chain, and is reported to have similar but lower intensity effects to Delta-9. Delta-10 has been described as a mood-enhancer [28]. Not much data is available on the effects of Delta-10 on the body. Delta-10 THC is not easy to manufacture and must be refined extensively, so you usually don’t see it in abundance. Because of this, a lot of products combine Delta-10 with Delta-8 [29]. 

THCA

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (te-trə-ˌhī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-nȯl-ˈik |ˈa-səd)

C22H30O4

THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the non-psychoactive acidic precursor to THC found in raw and live cannabis. “In its natural state, the cannabis plant goes through a vegetative and then flowering stage where it produces cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the source of many therapeutic cannabinoids. Enzymes called synthases convert CBGA into THCA and other cannabinoids such as CBDA or CBCA before being converted to their parent compounds [30].” As the plant dries, the THCA slowly converts to THC, and heat expedites this conversion through a process known as decarboxylation [31]. THCA may indeed have therapeutic benefits but academic studies are limited. Research published in 2017 found that THCA’s clinical use may be hampered by its relative instability due to minimal binding affinity at CB1 [32]. On the other hand, there is interest from the industry in continuing research and developing applications for this common cannabinoid. 

THCV

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (te-trə-ˌhī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-ˈver-ən)

C19H26O2

THCV is found in cannabis alongside THC but it is not clear whether it is psychoactive [33]. THCV interacts with the endocannabinoid system via the CB1 receptor and to a lesser extent, on the CB2 receptor [34]. A theory is that since THCV can block the CB1 receptor, known to stimulate appetite, it could reduce appetite. Preliminary evidence for this is based on animal research and more published scientific studies may be needed to support these benefits in humans [33].

Now you know about common cannabinoids on a CoA

CoAs keep producers and consumers on the same page regarding what is and isn’t in each product. People have easy access to information about which cannabinoids and other compounds are present in a product, and which potentially harmful elements are not. 

We’ve seen how a CoA works, why it’s useful and important, and ten of the common cannabinoids you’ll see represented on CoAs. You can now use your knowledge to explore the CoAs of your favorite products in more depth, and to be better informed about future products. 

 

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certificate_of_analysis
  2. https://asifood.com/food-safety-terms-conditions/
  3. https://evidentic.com/certificate-of-analysis-coa/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code
  5. https://bitesizebio.com/48459/excel-lod-loq/
  6. https://juniperpublishers.com/omcij/pdf/OMCIJ.MS.ID.555722.pdf
  7. https://thehia.org/hia-position-statement-on-delta-8-and-hemp-cannabinoids/
  8. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know
  9. https://www.maximumyield.com/definition/4237/cannabinoids
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997295/
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabidiol
  12. https://myremedyproducts.com/what-are-cb1-and-cb2-receptors-and-how-does-cbd-work-with-them/
  13. https://www.epidiolex.com/
  14. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/cbg-the-mother-of-all-cannabinoids-with-broad-antibacterial-activity/95824/
  15. https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/cbg-vs-cbd-what-are-the-differences-312232
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6021502/
  17. https://deltaseparations.com/how-to-extract-cbn-oil-cannabinoil/
  18. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-vs-cbn#cbn-benefits-uses
  19. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1054358917300273
  20. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabichromene#cite_note-Turner2017-2
  21.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabidivarin
  22.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrahydrocannabinol
  23. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabiximols
  24. https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/news-posts/2020/11/05/sativex-nabiximols-phase-3-trial-cannabis-extract-treatment-ms-spasticity-opens-us/
  25. https://www.hempgrower.com/article/delta-8-cannabidnoid-how-its-made-extraction-testing-measuring/
  26. https://ascpt.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cpt1973143353
  27. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc
  28. https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/delta-10-tetrahydrocannabinol-thc-infinitecal-acs-laboratory/
  29. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-delta-10
  30. https://blog.lunatechequipment.com/thca-isolate
  31. https://originalfarm.com/what-is-thca/
  32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5510775/
  33. https://www.healthline.com/health/substance-use/thcv#effects
  34. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrahydrocannabivarin

Why is the Emerald Triangle So Good for Growing Cannabis?

The epicenter of cannabis in the USA has long been an area of northern California and southern Oregon with rolling hills and a unique history. What makes the “Emerald Triangle” and Rogue Valley so special in the cannabis world is more than just great terroirs. Let’s look at this rich and storied farm land in context.  

What, where

The Emerald Triangle is made up of three counties near the northern border of California: Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino. Just a couple hours away is the Rogue Valley, running along the Rogue River in Jackson and Josephine counties in southern Oregon. But nature knows no political borders—there are differences between the two areas but they operate in concert and we will consider them collectively. This combined agricultural region is known for high-quality cannabis and has been responsible for much of the cannabis production in the U.S. for many years.

Emerald in the rough

Local historians may not know who coined the term Emerald Triangle but the name is believed to be a reference to the “Golden Triangle” in southern Asia [1]. The area where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet is so called because of the value of the opium and heroin produced by the region since the 1950s [2]. 

Cannabis and opium?!? It is a scary connection but the homage is most likely tongue-in-cheek.  While cannabis is nowhere near as dangerous as opioids, it is nonetheless assigned the same legal category in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists cannabis alongside heroin and cocaine on its Schedule 1 of controlled substances. The DEA states that drugs on this list “have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse [3].” 

Even the DEA has called for more research and development for therapeutic medications.

People who understand cannabis’ benefits and history know that the DEA’s position needs clarity, and even the DEA has called for more research and development for therapeutic medications [4]. But there are obvious similarities between the two markets – notably a great consumer demand for the cash crops, and the illegal status of those valuable crops. 

Regardless of the exact derivation, the Emerald Triangle lives up to its name. There are estimates of 20,000+ farms in the area, some worked by three generations of growers [5]. Cannabis farms have populated the area since long before California or Oregon have had organized medical and adult use programs. 

Political environments

Why here? In the 1960s, hippies from the Bay Area of California traveled north as part of a back to the earth movement—to live off of the land and off the grid. By doing so, they sought to honor and use nature’s bounty for good in opposition to commercialism and war. As these countercultural pioneers established their own society in the rural northern counties, they cultivated cannabis for income. Trial and error and natural innovation followed, and the area became home for forward thinking cannabis production methods ever since [6]. 

As time moved on, cannabis reached more people with its goodness and prices for the controlled substance went up, attracting still more people to the region to grow. However, some of the newcomers may have had more interest in revenue than in honoring the earth and sun. 

Outlaw country

There has been a certain and perhaps necessary “outlaw” element to the areas since their early days as cannabis epicenters. Given that cannabis was, and is, federally illegal, this is easy to understand. Growers needed to avoid law enforcement where possible and still protect their investments [6]. Oregonians have also historically embraced an outsider status tied to the difficult terrain and remote location of early western exploration and expansion in the Pacific Northwest. This mindset is similar to the Californians who migrated north to the Emerald Triangle. 

There is additional overhead required to run an operation below the gaze of authorities. As federal law enforcement made efforts to crack down on grows, farmers went deeper into the environment and further off grid. The unique rugged and mountainous environment of the Emerald Triangle could support these needs. The relationship between the land and the peoples’ needs grew together into the established markets and communities we see today. 

A 51st state?

A striking example of the outsider mindset of the Northern California / Southern Oregon region is the State of Jefferson movement of the mid-twentieth century. “The State of Jefferson is a proposed U.S. state that would span the contiguous, mostly rural area of southern Oregon and northern California [7].”  A group of residents of the area felt underserved by, and underrepresented in, their respective state capitals and wanted to secede and form their own territory. 

Map showing the proposed location of the State of Jefferson

The proposed State of Jefferson is shown in red. (Source:Wikipedia)

On November 27, 1941 they released a Proclamation of Independence and established State of Jefferson border access points patrolled by gunmen. The movement was quashed before it could gain much momentum though, when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941 and secession proponents’ efforts turned to the war [7]. 

This wasn’t the end of the movement though. In 1992, 31 northern counties in California voted to split off from California to form a separate state. Again in 2013 there was a revival of the idea and many northern counties again proposed and passed declarations indicating a desire to separate [7]. 

The ultimate success of independence efforts is unlikely but the popular push illustrates the ingrained, hard-nosed independence of those who make their home and livelihood in the Emerald Triangle / Rogue Valley zone. 

Natural environments

Like California, Oregon has diverse growing environments. The Rogue Valley is located in the heart of the southern growing region, long revered by vintners and fruit growers for its favorable conditions. 

A terroir is the collective characteristics of environmental factors that affect a crops’ phenotype, or how its exact characteristics are expressed.

Portland State University has undertaken research to study cannabis terroirs in Oregon. A terroir is the collective characteristics of environmental factors that affect a crops’ phenotype, or how its exact characteristics are expressed. In wine science, as well for other crops, it is presumed that the land grapes are grown on imparts a specific flavor profile to the resulting crop [8]. The soil composition, climate and topography all play a role. It is in this spirit that the cannabis terroir project follows. 

Early findings indicate there are 6 or 7 cannabis terroirs in the Rogue Valley area which may promote distinct flavor profiles for crops harvested in each [9]. Three main soil types were studied as they are common in the southern Oregon region. There are 12 Soil Orders in total, as classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each represents a “grouping of soils with distinct characteristics and ecological significance [10].”

 

Ultisols – acidic forest soils with relatively low fertility; macronutrients have been leached out. 

Alfisols – forest soils that are similar to Ultisols; less acidic and more fertile.

Mollisols – grassland soils that have high fertility and are rich in calcium and magnesium. 

The Emerald Triangle’s main soil types coincide with Rogue Valley’s with one exception.  

Ultisols – acidic forest soils with relatively low fertility; macronutrients have been leached out. 

Alfisols – forest soils that are similar to Ultisols; less acidic and more fertile.

Inceptisols – mountainous soils with minimal horizon development; recognized as fertile.

Location. Location. Location.

Climate and topography are the other factors in terroir. The Rogue Valley area is geographically diverse, but generally the temperature stays between 32° and 93° F. The region has the warmest growing conditions in the state, with cooler microclimates scattered throughout its hillsides and valleys [9]. Attuned growers can breed strains to flourish in specific environmental conditions. Some of the microclimates are hotter too, which can actually be ideal for sativas [11]. 

On average there are 195 sunny days in Medford. Oregon, located in the Valley, and 23 inches of rain annually, 15 inches less than the national average [12]. Much irrigation comes from the reservoirs in the region, which are typically replenished from melting snowpack and what rain the area gets [13]. Wells and surface waters in the area are of course tapped too. Times of drought can cause major issues for agriculture in the Valley. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is the agency responsible for managing the water plan for the region but local management agencies, advisory committees, landowners and the public are all active stakeholders [14]. 

The Emerald Triangle also seems to have a conducive outdoor environment for cannabis to thrive. It has a climate of cool nights and warm days in the summer, as well as ideal soil and wind conditions [15]. Humboldt County usually stays between 39° and 75° F. It receives 55 inches of rain annually, 17 inches more than the national average [16]. 

Irrigation in the Emerald Triangle also comes from many sources. Surface water diversion, spring diversion, wells, rain collection, and other offsite sources are all ways farms water their crops [17]. 

Right time and place

Yes, two of the most prolific locations for growing cannabis have the right conditions for agricultural success, but that’s not enough to establish them as flagships of the industry. After all, we know cannabis grows in most climates and on every continent except Antarctica [18] so there must have been more to it. 

The attitudes and politics of the West Coast and Pacific Northwest played a crucial role in building up the cannabis industry. The individual Emerald Triangle / Rogue Valley communities have grown in tandem with the industry, and both are inextricably connected at this point. They represent the capital of cannabis for the United States and much of the world. 

References

  1. https://www.cannabischronicle.net/emerald-triangle-revered-cannabis-growing-area/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Triangle_(Southeast_Asia)
  3. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/
  4. https://www.marijuanamoment.net/dea-proposes-massive-increase-in-marijuana-and-psilocybin-production-for-research-to-develop-fda-approved-medicines/
  5. https://www.alchimiaweb.com/blogen/emerald-triangle-california/
  6. https://theemeraldmagazine.com/homesteaders-pioneers-and-outlaws-a-brief-history-of-humboldt-county/
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_(proposed_Pacific_state)
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terroir
  9. https://www.oregonwine.org/discover-oregon-wine/place/southern-oregon/
  10. https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/soil-orders/mollisols
  11. https://www.marijuanaventure.com/growing-massive/
  12. https://www.bestplaces.net/climate/city/oregon/medford
  13. https://www.mailtribune.com/top-stories/2021/06/12/water-shortage-threatens-rogue-valley-crops/
  14. https://www.oregon.gov/oda/shared/Documents/Publications/NaturalResources/InlandRogueAWQMAreaPlan.pdf
  15. Ihttps://emeraldfarmtours.com/blogs/news/brief-history-california-emerald-triangle-cannabis
  16. https://www.bestplaces.net/climate/county/california/humboldt
  17. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1sx0z86m
  18. https://cannabistraininguniversity.com/blog/growing-marijuana/where-does-weed-grow-naturally/

Which States Are Leading Cannabis Prison Reform?

The United States’ War on Drugs has devastated millions of American lives since President Nixon launched it and President Reagan shifted it into high gear. A major contributor to the unnecessary arrests, and families being destroyed, is the fact that cannabis is targeted by this war. Cannabis has been on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Schedule 1 list of controlled substances alongside hard drugs like heroin and cocaine since 1970. However, it’s been used therapeutically, medicinally, ceremonially and recreationally by humans for millennia. Will America ever catch up? 

With legislation changing around cannabis use in many states, how are states dealing with changing existing laws? What are they doing for the folks who have prior arrests or are currently incarcerated for cannabis related crimes? 

What is cannabis prison reform?

Cannabis prison reform refers to changing the way that rules around cannabis use and punishment operate and affect people. Wikimedia characterizes prison reform as “the attempt to improve conditions inside prisons,” but also to make the penal system more effective, working hand in hand with alternative sentences that don’t include incarceration. It includes ensuring that those who have been negatively affected by having a past cannabis crime on their record are treated fairly and equitably [1].

Do we need cannabis prison reform? 

We do. Many states in the U.S. are adopting medical use or adult use legislation to allow citizens to use cannabis within certain guidelines. Meanwhile, cannabis with more than .3% per dry weight is still an illegal controlled substance by federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) rules. 

Some parts of our culture and hence some of our societal systems have come to think of marijuana users as criminals first, rather than categorizing them as what they are: natural health remedy users caught up in hyper criminalization of a natural remedy. This is largely based on the ignorance, fear, and racism that initially led to cannabis prohibition in the U.S. The decades-old deception has found roots as a cultural concept even though the cannabis plant and its components have vast potential as a set of beneficial health tools. 

The propaganda is out there that says cannabis users are degenerate and that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder drugs. The DEA itself states that Schedule 1 drugs have “a high potential for abuse,”  “​​no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S.,” and “a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug, substance, or chemical under medical supervision [2].” 

The claims are dubious for cannabis though. Regarding the first, “a high potential for abuse,” the government defines using an illegal drug itself as abuse, and the government defines marijuana as an illegal drug. So the mere use can be termed abuse. This circular thinking doesn’t define abuse in a meaningful way. Is addiction a fair measure? Research has shown some evidence that approximately 9% of cannabis users may develop addiction to it. But looking closer, those studies may use marijuana “dependence” to mean the same as “addiction.” The two issues are quite different. Dependence means that a person feels withdrawal symptoms when stopping use, whereby addiction means the person can’t stop even though use is harming them [3]. The 9%” finding may therefore be much lower or irrelevant. 

Second, what about “​​no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S.?” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved cannabis-derived and cannabis-analog health products that are available if prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider [4]. 

The cannabis-derived drug product is called Epidiolex, which is mainly a purified form of cannabidiol (CBD). It has been approved for treating seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome. The FDA says this particular drug product is safe and effective for its intended use [4]. 

Three synthetic cannabis-related drug products have also been approved. Marinol and Syndros both contain the active ingredient dronabinol, a synthetic Delta-9 THC, and are approved for therapeutic uses including for nausea from cancer chemotherapy and for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients [5]. Nabilone, another synthetic cannabinoid similar to THC, is the active ingredient in Cesamet which is “indicated for the treatment of the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond well to normal antiemetic treatments [6].” If these drugs are approved, how can there be no accepted medical use? 

The third schedule claim is “a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug, substance, or chemical under medical supervision.” Medical literature does not show instances of fatal cannabis poisoning, and no studies associate it with direct risk of death or other problems at a meaningful level [7]. Plus, as we looked at above, medical uses of cannabis-based drugs are indeed available with medical supervision, as approved by the FDA.

We need more data but it’s been difficult to acquire, partly because the prohibition on cannabis meant that actual scientific research of the plant was somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible to do [8]. With many states approving medical and adult marijuana use, and the removal of hemp from the DEA’s Schedule 1 list of controlled substances in the 2018 Farm Bill, there has been a push for more and better research. Opportunities to gather hard data are growing and we look forward to more comprehensive research and results in the future. 

More money, more problems 

The corrections industry has run rampant. Mass incarceration and minimum sentencing have lead to the incredibly high amount of incarcerated Americans. Overcrowding and underfunding of governmental facilities naturally followed the incarceration surge, creating a need for privatized prisons. So there is financial incentive to these private prison companies to maintain the status quo, including keeping cannabis illegal. This is associated with issues with the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) at large. The PIC is “the expansive network of people and parties with vested interests in mass incarceration” that supports mass incarceration [9]. The PIC is a much larger problem but drug crimes play a major part, perhaps being the biggest force behind giant increases in mass incarceration of recent decades [9]. 

2020 estimates were that 2.3 million people were incarcerated in the US, with another 4.5 million on parole or probation [9]. The numbers are staggering, especially if you factor in the other people who are affected when one person goes to jail for cannabis. Should we multiply by 3 since the average family size is 3.15 people [10]? Should we multiply by 9 since that’s the average number of close friends a person has [11]? Or many more, since our tax dollars pay the astronomical price for all this, up to $182 Billion annually [12]! 

States making progress

Long term progress means fixing the system and preventing the arrests and subsequent woes of the criminal cycle that harm people. Some states are making headway in this regard. One tool that States have is creating legal access to cannabis. As of late-2021, 36 U.S. States and territories allow medical use of marijuana [13], and 21 States and territories permit its adult use [14]. Given that using cannabis (within the rules) is not against the law in these states, arrests will not happen, and the number of people caught up in the system should decrease dramatically. 

California was the first state to sanction medical use in 1996 [15], and in 2012, Colorado and Washington were the first to allow recreational adult use [16]. 

The latest states to make the change in 2021 are:

  • New York – legalized recreational cannabis 
  • Virginia – legalized recreational cannabis
  • New Mexico – legalized recreational cannabis
  • Connecticut – legalized recreational cannabis
  • Alabama – legalized medical cannabis

Honorable mentions to: 

  • South Dakota – recreational cannabis initiative was overturned by circuit-court 
  • Mississippi – medical cannabis initiative was overturned by state supreme court

Which states will legalize cannabis next?

Some in the industry think we’re getting closer to federal legality. In lieu of that, some of the remaining states without marijuana laws are pushing medical and adult use initiatives, and there is pressure for lawmakers to take action [17].

  • Maryland – an adult use bill failed in 2021. It may return as a referendum vote in 2022
  • Missouri – legislation is proposed to create an adult use market
  • Oklahoma – a constitutional amendment allowing adult use was proposed for 2022 
  • Ohio – the state process is complicated but an “initiated statute” may be on the ballot in 2022 
  • Arkansas – efforts are behind a 2022 amendment to allow adult use 
  • Pennsylvania – advocates are working on proposals and there seems to be some bipartisan support for legalization
  • Florida – advocates are working to have an initiative on the 2022 ballot

The Federal approach to legalizing cannabis

Does real reform need to come from the national level? It would help. We must remember that cannabis in any form with more than .3% Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is still a federally-controlled Schedule 1 substance, and illegal on a national basis. 

The 2018 Farm Bill introduced a new concept on the cannabis front. The Bill stated that the federal government considers cannabis with less than .3% Delta-9 THC (the main psychoactive component of cannabis) per dry weight to be “hemp.” Cannabis with more than .3% Delta-9 THC per dry weight is considered illegal “marijuana.” Under the Bill, all other plant material and substances derived from legally-defined hemp are also federally-compliant [18]. 

The distinction is at once helpful and frustrating. It is helpful due to the fact that in states without sanctioned medical or adult use rules, people can use hemp-derived cannabinoids without fear of breaking the law. This access is crucial for many people who find therapeutic benefits from low-THC cannabis products like CBD tinctures that they can now legally purchase under the Farm Bill. 

The hemp/cannabis distinction is frustrating because it unnaturally defines two plants from one, based on a seemingly arbitrary amount of one of the plant’s hundreds of components. Without clearer federal regulations, states make their own laws independent of the federal government’s, and the landscape is further complicated 50 times over. 

Possible Federal action to legalize cannabis

In November 2021, Republican Representative Nancy Mace from South Carolina proposed the States Reform Act, or H.R 5977 – To amend the controlled substances Act regarding marihuana, and for other purposes. Mace says a “super-majority of Americans support an end to cannabis prohibition,” and the Act would remove cannabis from Schedule 1 and allow states to control it locally [19]. It remains to be seen how much support and momentum will build around this push. If passed, the Act would also help people who have been arrested for federal cannabis crimes. It would mean release from incarceration, and expungement of criminal records for federal cannabis offenses. The key word is “federal”  because states would deal with the expungement of state cannabis offenses through their own judicial systems. 

Clearing the record 

As misinformation about marijuana is corrected, and laws around it are reformed, it is equally important to help people convicted for breaking those laws in the past. It expresses respect for the law and for citizens, and acknowledges that the law is flexible and equitably applied. Furthermore, convictions have collateral consequences like limits to accessing government benefits and restrictions on licensure [20]. It is doubly unfair to subject people to these effects if the law is no longer the law! So it is encouraging to see that H.R. 5977 is addressing this for federal offenses. States would be in charge of dealing with it for state cannabis offenses. 

Three of the states mentioned above, that are looking at legalization in 2022, include expungement of past convictions in their proposals. Missouri’s plan includes “automatic expungement” of past cannabis convictions. Ohio’s plan  would do the same for many past nonviolent cannabis convictions. Arkansas would similarly reverse convictions for some people serving time for nonviolent cannabis convictions. 

States that have previously legalized have also addressed past marijuana convictions at differing levels of success. In fact, 41 states and territories have record-clearing provisions that can apply to cannabis convictions [OO]. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy to clean up one’s record. For instance, in Illinois, a recent state to legalize, certain “minor cannabis offense” records are automatically expunged but others must be petitioned in court, possibly necessitating a lawyer’s help. Even if automatic expungement applies to one’s law enforcement record, their court records are not expunged and must be separately petitioned [21]. It all adds up to more disparity between states in terms of how they handle cannabis related legislation. Federal clarity could help minimize the discrepancies, but as in the case of H.R. 5977, might not. 

How to help with cannabis prison reform

If you want to help fight injustice, stay informed of the laws in your state. Are there outdated, harsh, unfair, racist anti-drug laws where you live? Do your research, talk to your neighbors and representatives, vote on referendum ballots—make your voice heard. Here are three organizations doing important work in cannabis prison reform, who can use your support. 

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been fighting for marijuana law reform and legalization since 1970. You can donate and get involved. 

The Last Prisoner Project is dedicated “to freeing every last prisoner of the unjust war on drugs, starting with the estimated 40,000 individuals imprisoned for cannabis [22].” You help with donations or assisting with petitions and letter-writing drives. 

The American Civil Liberties Union is dedicated to defending democracy and liberty. Your tax deductible donation will help. 

Cannabis prison reform goes hand in hand with cannabis legislation generally. The more the two work together, the better the outcomes will be. Many states are making headway on their own and others are poised to continue the trend. Federal legalization and reform will go a long way to leading the country into the healthy and productive relationship with cannabis that advocates have imagined for decades. We get closer to that promise every day. 

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_reform
  2. https://www.drugs.com/csa-schedule.html
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive
  4. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-cannabis-research-and-drug-approval-process
  5. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/25/legal-weed-scientists-1074188
  6. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/018677s011lbl.pdf
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/can-marijuana-kill-you#More-concerns-with-more-availability
  8. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-cannabis-research-and-drug-approval-process
  9. https://sites.tufts.edu/prisondivestment/the-pic-and-mass-incarceration/
  10. https://www.statista.com/statistics/183657/average-size-of-a-family-in-the-us/
  11. https://news.gallup.com/poll/10891/americans-satisfied-number-friends-closeness-friendships.aspx
  12. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/money.html
  13. https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
  14. https://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/marijuana-overview.aspx
  15. https://cannabis.ca.gov/resources/laws-and-regulations/
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_cannabis_laws_in_the_United_States#:~:text=In%201996%2C%20California%20became%20the,legalize%20cannabis%20for%20recreational%20use.
  17. https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/these-states-could-legalize-cannabis-next
  18. https://thehia.org/hia-position-statement-on-delta-8-and-hemp-cannabinoids/
  19. https://mace.house.gov/media/press-releases/rep-nancy-mace-introduces-states-reform-act
  20. https://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/clearing-criminal-records-for-cannabis-offenses.aspx
  21. https://www2.illinois.gov/osad/Expungement/Pages/Cannabis-Expungement.aspx
  22. https://www.lastprisonerproject.org/who-we-are

 

What Does It Mean to Be Earthy Now?

Earthy Now is a company, a concept, and a way of living. What does it mean and what’s the significance? The end of the year is a good time for reflecting on our relationships and values, and looking outside of ourselves for connections. Let’s explore what it means to be Earthy Now. 

Is it Earthy? 

“Earthy” is a commonly-used word to describe aspects of fragrances & flavor, people, colors, and cannabis. But it’s still hard to pin down exactly—there may not be one single definition in any of these categories because context matters. Luckily, there is a scientific basis for all of this, so let’s start there. 

Fragrance & flavor

Do you know there’s a word for the smell of rainfall on dry soil? The word is petrichor, based on the greek words for rock (petra) and for the fluid in the Greek gods’ veins (ichor) [1]. This quite literally relates to the earth becoming airborne and smelling like earth, or smelling earthy. 

Part of this mechanism involves actinomycetes, thread-like bacteria that grow in soil. When conditions are dry, actinomycetes slow down. As soil becomes damp with fresh rain, actinomycetes awake and produce a terpene called geosmin, which has a distinct musty odor associated with petrichor [2]. 

Geosmin also contributes to the aromas and flavors of beets, beans, and water. Sometimes earthy flavors are experienced as rough, course or crude, so why do people recognize it so well? The human nose can detect geosmin at very low concentrations—as low as 5 parts per million [3]. This sensitivity speaks to the connection between earthiness and people. Let’s look at that next.

An Earthy personality

Have you been described as earthy, or have you used it to characterize someone you know? People who are authentic and practical are considered “down to earth,” or simply, earthy. They aren’t in the clouds or otherworldly, they are of the earth. Sometimes that can additionally mean open and direct in dealings with others, or relate to humbleness. Earthiness can overlap with outdoorsiness too—people who have comfort in, and intimate knowledge about, nature and coexisting with it, are also called earthy. 

Generally earthy is a positive attribute for people. An archaic use of the word puts it closer to earthly, which would have a more religious based concept, indicating mortal life on earth versus the opposite heavenly or spiritual things [4]. This could still be a positive depending on your stance. 

See the colors

When designers or artists are choosing colors for their work whether that be a painting, or the interior of a building, or a clothing line, they may look at earth tones. Earth tones can be colors of the earth in different forms—soils and clays that vary widely based on location. They can also refer to colors found in nature but usually these tend toward the more drab or subtle colors in nature, not necessarily the brighter natural palettes seen in flora and fauna. Another word would be neutral colors, those that don’t clash, that can easily visually relate to their neighbors [5]. 

See a pattern here? Easy going people are earthy…easy on the eyes colors are earthy….

Smell the freedom

Do you have a favorite strain of cannabis? 

Marijuana is strictly illegal according to the United States government but 36 states and territories sanction its medicinal or adult recreational use [6]. The recent legislative changes implemented by the 2018 Farm Bill mean that the entire country now has access to cannabis in the form of hemp. 

Is hemp cannabis legal? 

Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant, Cannabis, which naturally contains Delta-9 THC, the single cannabinoid that is under federal-control, and the main psychoactive substance in cannabis. The amount of Delta-9 THC existent in the plant material per dry weight determines the federal-compliance of the final product. The 2014 Farm Bill defined the legal limit at .3% so cannabis with less than that is considered legal hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded on this, making it clear to legal experts that all other plant material and substances derived from legally-defined hemp are also federally-compliant [7]. 

Federally-compliant earthy cannabis strains

This all means that there are earthy cannabis strains available to most adult Americans! What makes them earthy? 

The cannabis experts at Leafly tell us, “the aroma of many classic cannabis strains can be described as earthy, resembling rich soil [8].” They elaborate that the qualities can be piney, woody, hashy, and fresh, as if you are experiencing a plant directly “from the ground.” Here are some recommended earthy strains of cannabidiol (CBD) flower to sample and familiarize yourself with the earthy flavor palette:

Bubba Kush – A famous strain of Afghani indica lineage that has a full and rich earthy flavor profile combined with fruity accents and a hash taste.  

CBG – This strain has a lighter earthy profile tending toward citrus and pepper. Plus it’s high in its namesake, cannabigerol (CBG), the “mother of all cannabinoids.” 

Lifter – This popular newcomer strain is bred from Suver haze and Early Resin Bud and has a woody-earthy profile with hints of fuel and cheese aroma. 

Locally Earthy, wherever you are

Think globally, act locally – the practical advice is so common that it’s become a cliche but still guides people who care in how to help the earth fight back against over-exploitation, pollution, and destruction. The members of the Earthy Now cannabis collective live and work in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and appreciate the earth’s beauty, importance, and fragility on a daily basis. We strive to be part of the solution—to help bring the healing power of cannabis from nature to people. 

To influence major change it’s crucial to build networks of like-minded earthy folks who can work together. We start by partnering exclusively with independent organic American farms in California, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, and Vermont. We visit each crop to see and feel the plants in nature. 

Keep cannabis clean and green

Organic agriculture is the healthy and sustainable way to respect the earth while harnessing the incredible powerhouse it is for production. It keeps our products natural and free from contaminants in inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. This is especially important for cannabis which is a bioaccumulator, meaning it is a type of plant that excels at drawing pollutants from the soil without releasing them as waste, and could be contaminated by these elements if grown in non-organic conditions [9]. Research has found that microbes, heavy metals, and pesticides are the most commonly found contaminants in cannabis intended for human consumption, and these can mean exposure to Salmonella, cadmium, fungal spores, and even carcinogenic mycotoxins [10]. It is unnatural and unnecessary to consume these harmful byproducts in cannabis and by doing things the earthy way, we avoid the dangers.

Keeping things real, natural and clean are earthy attributes we celebrate in our business and lives. 

Why now

Why wait? Humans have effectively used cannabis for millennia. Americans are no different and our culture is thankfully finally starting to address a misguided war on drugs and its devastating effects on our fellow citizens, friends and families. There is a changing public understanding of cannabis and an eagerness to use it legally. We have more states develop medical and adult recreational use programs every year, despite the continued federal criminalization of marijuana. We have opportunities to use federally-compliant hemp-derived cannabinoids including THC in the stubborn states due to the gains made through the Farm Bills. 

Cannabis is a gift from the earth and there is no better time to share its healing power. With the current surge of pro-cannabis activity, decades of backward and inequitable prosecution and persecution of those who embrace cannabis for its natural benefits can be overcome. Our human endocannabinoid system has evolved to specifically access cannabis’s benefits, connecting our brains and bodies to the earthy way of being, in the past, today and for the future. 

We invite you to join us in our efforts. We are Earthy Now and forever. 

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrichor
  2. https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-11-01/What-causes-the-earthy-smell-after-rain–Lgf4vwSxIA/index.html
  3. https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/molecule-of-the-week/archive/g/geosmin.html
  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/earthy
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_tone
  6. https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
  7. https://thehia.org/hia-position-statement-on-delta-8-and-hemp-cannabinoids/
  8. https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/cannabis-strains-with-earthy-flavors
  9. https://santelabs.com/2020/07/hemp-bioaccumulation-the-good-and-the-bad/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6177718/

Top Terpenes for the Holidays

Terpenes are all around us and are what makes things have smells—they are the “scent molecules of nature [1].” They are not found only in cannabis, although cannabis does seem to have a special relationship with terpenes. The holiday season is upon us so it’s a good time to look at how these wondrous chemicals can help us share the best of times with our families and friends. 

Terpenes in the world

There are over 20,000 terpenes in nature. Most plants produce terpenes, which are responsible for creating aromas and are the building blocks of essential oils. Flowers, leaves, roots, flowers, and some animals produce terpenes [2]. Terpenes are wide-ranging in their potential roles in a plant and are used for everything from attracting pollinators to recovering from damage [2].  

A particularly impressive plant use of terpenes was found in a 2005 study. Researchers found that when damaged by a herbivore, the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, or thale cress, releases terpenoids that attract carnivorous mites to help defend the plant [3]. 

Terpenes affect people too. Inhaling scents from plants and essential oils can alter a person’s mood and stress levels [2]. This is known as aromatherapy and offers claims for improving psychological or physical well-being. Terpenes can also be used topically via essential oils, which aren’t actually oils. Rather, they are a combination of terpenes, alcohols, and esters that act like an oil when distilled [2]. 

Common sources

Some common sources rich in terpenes are easily recognizable. For instance, orange essential oil comes from the rind of sweet oranges and it is almost 95% limonene, but also contains over a dozen other terpenes [4]. Studies show that orange essential oil has effectiveness against some types of bacteria and fungi, and has additional therapeutic benefits [5]. 

Pine trees give us the most common terpene, pinene. It is produced by conifer trees and other plants [6]. Pinene is used in turpentine, fungicidal agents, flavors, fragrances, and antiviral and antimicrobial agents [7]. A range of pharmacological activities have been reported, such as antibiotic resistance modulation, anticoagulant, antitumor, antimicrobial, antimalarial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects [7]. 

Terpenes in cannabis

Cannabis has over 150 terpenes across various strains. The mix of which ones exist, and the levels of each in a particular strain are responsible for the strain’s aroma and flavor profile, and perhaps its effect set [8]. Due to inconsistency in genetics and production methods, the terpene set in a strain can vary a bit crop to crop [8]. 

Common terpenes in cannabis

Myrcene – Earthy, clove-like citrus scent. Has the ability to enhance absorption through the skin, and may increase the effect of other cannabinoids. Known for relaxing effects of its own. 

Limonene – Bright, citrusy scent. Limonene’s uplifting aroma can act as a mood elevator.

Pinene – Fresh, earthy, pine tree scent. As a therapeutic remedy, it can be used to evoke the inspiration of a pine forest.

Caryophyllene – Spicy and peppery scent. The only terpene that binds to CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which makes it a helpful ingredient for therapeutic purposes. 

Linalool – Sweet, floral scent. This terpene is at the center of lavender’s relaxing properties. 

Eucalyptol – Cooling, minty scent. Evokes clarity, refreshment, and creativity. 

Entourage effect 

Part of the special relationship between cannabis and terpenes involves the entourage effect. “The entourage effect is a proposed mechanism by which cannabis compounds other than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) act synergistically with it to modulate the overall psychoactive effects of the plant [9]” 

Other cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids may all be part of an entourage effect, aiding the efficacy of all the components of the plant. Without it, some cannabinoids don’t seem to work the same way. Scientists have found that the mixture of all the components of the plant has different effects than isolated compounds. GW Pharmaceuticals, makers of one of the only sanctioned cannabis-based drugs, Sativex (called nabiximols in the U.S.), found that a whole plant extract was more effective than a single compound for certain therapies [9]. Another researcher said that single component drugs like Marinol, a synthetic THC pill, have less therapeutic value than those with more cannabinoids [10]. 

Research on the entourage effect is still relatively minimal and some scientists want more data before being convinced of the effect and any benefits it provides [11].  But some producers lean on the popular anecdotal notions of entourage effect and see an opportunity to create custom blends of terpenes and cannabinoids in order to offer consumers specific designed effects [10].

Top terps

The holidays can be fun and celebratory times you get to spend with loved ones. or frustrating and depressing trials you have to spend with them. Terpenes can help you through either way. Here are some top terpenes and how their aromatic goodness will enhance your holidays. 

Caryophyllene – This terpene is prominent in common spices like basil, rosemary, cinnamon, oregano, lavender, cloves, black pepper. These all appear in our favorite holiday recipes so caryophyllene will be a big part of enjoying the season! In addition to imparting deliciousness and complexity to our food, the terpene has been used to enhance relaxation in aromatherapy properties which e a good thing for holiday stresses too. 

Limonene – This terpene is a mood lifter to keep spirits up for shopping, decorating, and event preparation. Try some after a meal, especially if you tend to overindulge at the previously mentioned smorgasbord. Don’t forget the clean up – limonene is very common in cleaning products, for when the party is over. As everyone pitches in, the limonene aroma will keep it fun. 

Linalool – This terpene gives lavender its rich sweet scent and is responsible for the relaxation people experience when inhaling lavender. With all of the family activities and shopping this time of year, linalool can help you deal with the crowds and relatives you don’t quite get along with, and other holiday stressors. 

Humulene – This terpene is prominent in hops. Hops are of course in beer and add a bitter balance to malt’s sweetness while contributing to the aroma and flavor. Many of us will enjoy this earthy, woody terpene in beer and other alcoholic beverages for fun and easing into the festivities. Non-drinkers can enjoy hops as an herb! 

Myrcene – This terpene is found in high quantities in cannabis. It helps the efficacy of other cannabinoids and seems to be a major factor in the entourage effect, as well as producing its own relaxation effects. A pre-roll or gummy might be just what you need to really enjoy the holidays. Thanks to the Farm Bill, even if you are not in a state that gives you the freedom to use cannabis for medical or adult recreational use, you can enjoy premium hemp derived products to gain the benefits of myrcene. 

Primed for success

Now that you know a little more about what these chemical compounds are and do, we hope you put your nose to use and get to know them better. Terpenes are all around us and the holiday season is a great time to start exploring their characteristics and effects. Check out the references below to learn more and we hope you have fun this holiday season!

References

  1. https://hemptonfarms.com/blog/terpenes-guide/
  2. Freedman, Andrew. Terpenes for well being: A comprehensive guide to botanical aromas for emotional and self-care, Mango Publishing, Florida, 2021
  3. https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.1116232
  4. https://www.scielo.br/j/gmb/a/nFwzVgKfDfCSn7VQ8bf9xWh/?lang=en#:~:text=The%20terpenes%20that%20constitute%20the,valencene%2C%20and%20d%2Dcadinene.
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/orange-essential-oil-uses
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinene
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6920849/
  8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168945219301190
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entourage_effect
  10. https://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/11/health/gupta-marijuana-entourage/index.html
  11. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/some-of-the-parts-is-marijuana-rsquo-s-ldquo-entourage-effect-rdquo-scientifically-valid/

Where does CBN (Cannabinol) come from?

Cannabinol or CBN is increasingly available on the market in a variety of forms, often suggested for relaxation or as a sleep aid. Where does it come from, and what’s it good for? This article will take a look into this famous cannabinoid. 

What is CBN? 

CBN is a cannabinoid and a cannabinoid is simply a chemical substance found in the cannabis plant (1), and there are over 100 identified cannabinoids (2). CBN is found in low concentration in the plant and is mainly a product of the aging of tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCa). When cannabis is aged, THCa in the plant converts to cannabolic acid (CBNa), and when decarboxylated by air,  heat or light, converts to CBN (3). 

CBN is considered to have psychotropic properties, and can have up to 25% potency compared to Delta-9 THC (4). 

Like cannabidinol (CBD), CBN is available in many products such as gummies or sublingual oils, and taken by people for its therapeutic effects. With CBN consumers generally include relaxation and sleepiness as reasons why they use it, but cannabinoids of all kinds affect people differently depending on their personal chemistry, dosage level, and other factors. 

Is CBN legal? 

Yes but that may depend on its source. Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant, Cannabis, which naturally contains Delta-9 THC, the single cannabinoid that is under federal-control, and the main psychoactive substance in cannabis. The amount of Delta-9 THC existent in the plant material per dry weight determines the federal-compliance of the final product. The 2014 Farm Bill defined the legal limit at .3% so cannabis with less than that is considered legal hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded on this, making it clear to legal experts that all other plant material and substances derived from legally-defined hemp are also federally-compliant (5). 

Under current federal regulatory conditions, people are able to make, sell, buy, and use products made with CBN, as long as the amount of delta-9 THC is under .3% of the source materials’s dry weight and the product is from hemp. 

History

Cannabinol is “famous” for being the first cannabinoid to be isolated from cannabis in the late 1800s (6), the first to have its structure determined in the early 1930s, then being the first to be synthesized in 1940 (6). Early research from the 1940s and 50s found that CBN had psychotropic qualities of THC, but at much lower potency (6). 

Major research into cannabinoids was largely stymied in the United States because of a decades-long racially-motivated prohibition on the plant (7). However, the Farm Bills’ changes have prompted renewed interest and there has been research on CBN for its sedative, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-MRSA properties (4).

Manufacturing

CBN can be extracted from hemp and for the end products to be federally-compliant, it must come from hemp. The methodologies detailed here are not exhaustive but intended to give an overview. 

Enrich the content

Natural aging is one way to produce CBN in cannabis, regardless of type or strain. THC in hemp oxidizes to CBN when exposed to oxygen and light. This is part of the decarboxylation process, which activates compounds in cannabis (8). Applying heat is a common strategy to accelerate the process. Typically a lower temperature is used for decarboxylation but higher temperatures over 150° C may be useful for increasing CBN amounts in biomass, and may be able to remediate concentrations of THC higher than the federally-compliant level of .3% Delta-9 per dry weight (9). 

Ultraviolet light may be an alternative to heat for the same effect since light also facilitates the CBN conversion (9). These methods are to increase CBN in the plant material so its biomass is primed for extraction of the CBN. 

Go Live

The extraction process is similar to that used for most popular cannabinoids but can vary a bit per material type. One version of CBN extraction begins by soaking the biomass in a solvent of choice (typically either CO2 or ethanol) to separate out the terpenes and cannabinoids from the biomass. The resulting solution is put into an evaporator that uses heat and a vacuum to remove the solvent. This results in a refined CBN crude extract concentrate which is then further distilled to create a purified distillate (3). 

In CO2 extraction, carbon dioxide is pressurized in metal tanks until it becomes a supercritical fluid, then the fluid pulls out the desirable compounds from the hemp flower. The fluid is then separated, leaving only concentrates. Ethanol extraction is done by soaking raw hemp in ethanol to pull trichomes into the solvent. The solid material is then removed; the liquid is filtered and the alcohol purged from the extracted material (10). 

There is an additional “one-pot” process, patented in 2020, that converts hemp CBD to CBN using a solvent plus iodine (14). This method mixes toluene with biomass to maximize and extract cannabinoids, then uses iodine to convert the resulting solution to CBN in a catalytic conversion (15). 

Producers say that there is no single best method for extraction, rather that depends on the particular goals. Some think ethanol is the most efficient method, but that CO2 better preserves the cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as the flavonoids and carotenoids in the final product, retaining more of  the whole plant’s essence (11). The iodine method is touted as being overall simpler and more efficient than the others (14). 

Uses and outlook

CBN is widely considered to be sedating. This idea may originate from a common assumption that older cannabis has a more sedating effect due to the natural concentration of CBN that accumulates in it over time. Anecdotal experience with older marijuana causing sleepiness may also be a factor in this idea. However there may be other reasons for this reaction. 

It may be that the combination of CBN and THC actually causes the drowsiness factor, due to the entourage effect’s synergistic treatment of both cannabinoids. Entourage effect refers to how the interaction of various cannabinoids present in a particular cannabis product may alter the effect on the consumer (12). Even the small amount of THC in hemp (less than .3% per dry weight) can add to the entourage effect without producing the intoxication associated with higher THC cannabis.

Another possibility is that rather than the CBN in older cannabis causing the sedative effects, it could be the older terpenes. In older cannabis, “the monoterpenoids have evaporated leaving the more sedating oxygenated sesquiterpenoids,” according to Dr. Ethan Russo, neurologist and cannabis researcher (13). So the CBN to sedation relationship may be better described as correlative but not causative. 

Is CBN right for you? 

Whether or not you are familiar with using CBD you may find a benefit to using CBN. For a new consumer it can be a gentle onboarding to the effects of hemp derived cannabinoids. For a more experienced consumer, CBN may be better able to target a desired therapeutic need state.

No matter your experience level, trying CBN for yourself is the way to know first hand if it’s right for you. Remember to always purchase from a reputable brand that independently tests their products for safety, purity, and potency.

References

  1. https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/cannabinoids/
  2. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know
  3. https://deltaseparations.com/how-to-extract-cbn-oil-cannabinoil/
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1054358917300273
  5. https://thehia.org/hia-position-statement-on-delta-8-and-hemp-cannabinoids/
  6. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406
  7. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/how-we-rise/2020/06/23/marijuanas-racist-history-shows-the-need-for-comprehensive-drug-reform/
  8. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-decarboxylation
  9. https://extractionmagazine.com/2020/08/24/converting-thc-to-cbn/
  10. https://mjbizdaily.com/choosing-the-right-cannabis-extraction-method/
  11. https://mjbizmagazine.com/digital-issues/2018-10-Oct/60/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/
  13. https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/what-is-cbn-and-what-are-the-benefits-of-this-cannabinoid
  14. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.7b00946
  15. https://patents.justia.com/patent/10954208

Cannabis vs. Cancer

Cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years according to the National Cancer Institute, but to date, “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved cannabis as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition (1)” 

Where is the disconnect? This article will discuss what we know about cannabis and cancer, and why we don’t know more. 

History of abuse

In the United States, a decades-long racially-motivated prohibition on cannabis (2), and its war on drugs, means that research with the cannabis plant was and is still largely forbidden. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug like heroin and LSD stating that, “substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse (3)”

Marijuana is the typical word for cannabis with psychoactive properties. The main psychoactive substance in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Its chemical formula includes many isomers, but the term THC usually refers to Delta-9 THC (4), which is the specific cannabinoid that is cited in federal regulations. Another version of cannabis has the psychoactive parts removed, and it is defined as hemp. This versioning of cannabis into marijuana and hemp  occurred relatively recently as part of the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills issued by the U.S. Congress. The differentiating feature is the amount of Delta-9 THC existent in the dry material that is used to make a product and the government sets that at .3% Delta-9 THC. Cannabis with more than that is considered a controlled substance, and cannabis with less than that is federally-compliant hemp (5). This is just one example of the complexity of the field of cannabis research. 

These are recent changes and it is encouraging that cannabis as hemp is now able to be scientifically studied more easily, albeit still with plenty of federal regulations (6). What about marijuana? 

How to research cannabis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows, and issues guidance for, research on marijuana but the rules are stringent (7). The regulations may impede research in some cases but dedicated researchers find workarounds. Researchers at University of Colorado outfitted mobile research vans just to collect data on cannabis consumers, since they are not allowed to permit the drug in labs on campus and cannot be present when it is consumed (6). Their team cannot even verify the purity and safety of the cannabis being used. 

These researchers and others could obtain licensure and federally-sanctioned cannabis from the one permitted provider, a research facility at the University of Mississippi but that supply is dubious. One physician likened it to muddy garbage (8). The stock was acquired long ago and not updated. Researchers consider it weak and not representative of what is widely available on the open market today (15).

States’ rights

At the same time that the DEA says there is “no currently accepted medical use” of cannabis, publicly available medical marijuana/cannabis programs have been approved in 36 states, including the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (9). 

States like California, the first state to allow medicinal cannabis use in 1996 (10), and Michigan include cancer as a medical condition that justifies approval for a state medical cannabis card (11,12). This is another obvious and troubling example of the complex nature of the cannabis vs. cancer landscape. People are being prescribed cannabis by doctors in some states, yet the FDA says there is “no currently accepted medical use” of cannabis in all states. 

Federal rights

Is the agency being disingenuous? The FDA has actually approved cannabis derived and cannabis related health products that are available with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider (7). 

The cannabis-derived drug product is called Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of cannabidiol (CBD). It has been approved for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome. The FDA has concluded that this particular drug product is safe and effective for its intended use (7). 

Three synthetic cannabis-related drug products have also been approved. Marinol and Syndros both contain the active ingredient dronabinol, a synthetic Delta-9 THC, and are approved for therapeutic uses including for nausea from cancer chemotherapy and for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients (8). Cesamet contains the active ingredient nabilone, another synthetic cannabinoid that is similar to THC, and is “indicated for the treatment of the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional antiemetic treatments (13).”

This begs the question, how can cannabis derived and related drugs be approved by the FDA and in use by doctors and patients, and have “no currently accepted medical use?”  Clearly this position needs to change if we are to take the FDA seriously, and to move forward with any additional medical use of cannabis, which will require gathering and analyzing data to make informed and responsible decisions about health care. 

Right to information

The FDA’s contradicting positions, and the difficulty of obtaining and studying cannabis, are likely major factors in the lack of substantial research data. Even so there has been valuable information published. To avoid making any unjustified health claims, we won’t look at the results of these studies in this paper, but much of this published information has the potential to influence possible courses of treatment for certain health issues.

It is difficult to quantify the full extent of literature available. Many databases are available only to those associated with research institutions and libraries that can afford to license access to them (16). One freely-available scholarly collection of research is PubMed Central® (PMC), a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM). A search of this research database for studies that include “cannabis”  and “cancer” in their abstracts, returns 248 results. A general search for the two terms (not only in abstracts) returns over 10,000 results

It’s a lot to parse, but even a cursory skim shows repeated mentions of the potential and promise of cannabis to improve the situation of humans suffering from cancer. You are encouraged to look at this research and determine if you think there is more reason than not for federal legalization of cannabis for medical or adult-use.  

Light at the end

One study from 2019 is illuminating in the area of cannabis’s potential as a remedy. The authors did a literature review of almost 8,000 research articles related to cannabis, cannabinoids, and marijuana for high priority symptoms of cancer and its treatments (14). They concluded that, “cannabis offers many opportunities for supportive and palliative care in cancer and recent changes in the social climate and legalization of cannabis will hopefully facilitate randomized studies to more accurately weigh the risks and benefits of cannabis use and optimize dose and administration methods (14)”

This is a good indicator of the state of the science and will ideally lead to more and better research, data, and analysis that we can all rely on for improving access to cannabis for healthy living and recovery.  

References

  1. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq
  2. https://www.britannica.com/story/why-is-marijuana-illegal-in-the-us
  3. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrahydrocannabinol
  5. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2/text?overview=closed
  6. https://ovpr.uchc.edu/services/rics/research-involving-cannabis-hemp-and-marijuana/
  7. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-cannabis-research-and-drug-approval-process
  8. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/25/legal-weed-scientists-1074188
  9. https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
  10. https://cannabis.ca.gov/resources/laws-and-regulations/
  11. https://cannabis.ca.gov/consumers/medicinal-cannabis/#eligible-medical-conditions
  12. https://www.michigan.gov/mra/0,9306,7-386-83746-449306–,00.html
  13. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/018677s011lbl.pdf
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6676264/
  15. https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2019/10/14/cannabis-medical-marijuana-research-000984/ 
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embargo_(academic_publishing)

Top 5 Strains with CBG (Cannabigerol)

Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of many fascinating cannabinoids being widely discovered and used in new ways by cannabis aficionados and others who are interested to experience its effects. Keep reading for more information about this unique, scarce and exciting cannabinoid, and the top strains that have been developed to deliver its benefits. 

Brief background on CBD and hemp-derived cannabinoids.  

Skip ahead if you are familiar with CBD 101, the Farm Bill, and all of that. If not, here’s what you need to know about CBD (Cannabidiol) and cannabis legality, etc. All cannabinoids are derived from cannabis, a single plant that is responsible for illegal marijuana and legal hemp. The amount of Delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, existent in the plant material per dry weight determines the federal-compliance of the final product. For instance these smokeable CBD hemp flowers contain less than .3% of Delta-9 THC, but up to 20% total cannabinoids. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid called CBD is one of the most prominent and has a bevy of beneficial qualities that you no doubt have heard about by now. To learn more about how cannabinoids work with human biology, check out the article: Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System

With this new federal-compliance benchmark of .3% THC, hemp was removed from the list of Schedule 1 substances in the 2014 Farm Bill. This ushered in a wave of long-desired research into the cannabis plant and the many compounds it contains. The simple but crucial change in the legal status of hemp has been a huge step forward by allowing research into the medical and wellness benefits of cannabis, and CBG specifically. 

Why is CBG so scarce? 

CBG is abundant in developing cannabis as the precursor to other cannabinoids but it can be rare in the end product—why is this? 

Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) is the precursor of cannabigerol (CBG) and is responsible for creating most downstream synthesized cannabinoids like THC and CBD (3). Because of this CBG is lovingly called the “mother of all cannabinoids,” but since most of the CBGa is converted into cannabinoids, traditionally there is very little left in the plant upon harvest and use. Therefore CBG has a high production cost and it can actually take thousands of pounds of biomass to yield a small amount of CBG isolate (1). 

Why is CBG an important cannabinoid?

The endocannabinoid system of the human body is a complex cell-signaling system which is integral for maintaining health. Endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, including in the brain, immune cells, connective tissues, glands, and organs. A 2018 study indicates that CBG is a regulator of endocannabinoid signaling (4), so it may have a small part to play in almost all of human physiology. 

Remember that research into cannabis is a relatively new frontier. While much more is needed, the recent findings from what is currently available mean that scientists are on the right track. 

The top companies for CBG

How do you determine the top five strains with CBG? We first need to look at the companies who are working with the plant’s genetics, to understand why and how these strains came about and why they outperform others. We’ll look at three major innovators in the CBG space, and the top five CBG strains they’ve given us.

Oregon CBD Seeds is the company that introduced the first pure CBG strain to North America in 2017 (7). As research and progress continued, in 2018 it was speculated that the mass farming of cannabinoids could all be done with farming industrial hemp for CBG, because CBG would only need to have the right synthase added to it to make it THC, CBD, or CBC (8). After three years of lab work and field testing, they produced two initial strains that had a big impact on the industry in 2020: White CBG, and Stem Cell. Later the company released their Sour G CBG. 

High Grade Hemp Seed from Colorado is another company that put much effort into CBG, and partnered with the original developer of Matterhorn CBG, Matthias Ghidossi, founder of Swiss Cannabanoid, to make it available in the United States. Ghidossi worked with geneticists and pharmaceutical companies to cultivate, trial-test, and register this strain. High Grade Hemp Seed field tested Matterhorn for two years and currently offers it as a prime strain for commercial production (11).

Sunbelt Seeds out of Georgia is the third company we’ll discuss who produce a top-rating CBG strain called The Grail CBG. The company went through a lengthy phenotype selection process to create a stable pest resistant strain suitable that has been tested for multiple climates and flourished everywhere (12).  

The top 5 strains with CBG

 

White CBG

Oregon CBD Seeds started with the strain called “The White” which is an industry leading cannabinoid producer, and converted it to a pure CBG phenotype, bred for increased terpene and resin production. The plants grow vigorously with large frosty flowers and huge colas. A creamy-lemon aroma and terpene profile make this a sativa strain that is associated with a sense of calm, clarity and focus without any grogginess or sleepiness. Capable of producing up to 20% CBG while staying below .3% total THC (9). 

Stem Cell

Referencing its nature as the precursor to other cannabinoids, CBG has also been called the “stem cell cannabinoid” and that’s perhaps what inspired the name of this strain, also from the initial offerings from Oregon CBD Seeds. It was specifically developed for biomass production and extraction. This strain has very little terpene content which allows it to be mass harvested, since the trichomes don’t gum up the equipment like stickier buds do. Another result is that very little odor is produced so this strain is useful for situations that require stealth (9). Averaging 16% CBG with .11 THC. 

Sour G CBG

Sour G CBG is Oregon CBD’s latest release. It’s lineage comes from Sour Diesel, but it is mostly sour in name only. It produces large, dominant, but slightly less dense flowers than the White CBG. It is a shorter statured plant but still produces solid yields of tasty, crystal-covered flower. It’s a high CBG yielding plant capable of producing upwards of 20% CBG, with averages in the 13-16% range. While not an overpowering aroma, the nose is mainly citrus, diesel, earthy, and peppery (14). 

Matterhorn CBG

This strain began from Carmagnola lineage, an Italian sativa strain of hemp used mainly for fiber (10). It boasts a 15% CBG level with a very low average of .09% THC. Great for extraction but also very smokeable, Matterhorn has a hoppy lemon and lime profile and has proven itself to be a consistent, stable, and reliable choice for CBG (11). 

The Grail CBG

The Grail CBG strain was developed over a 5 year period utilizing a wild hemp variety that has then been crossed and back crossed multiple times per year for 5 years to make a stable high-CBG plant that can reach up to 10 feet tall. Averaging a 15-17% CBG content with very low THC. It grows well in diverse climates and is known for easy harvesting. It is another producer strain that is also smokaeable, with a profile similar to others in this list: soft citrus with lingering aromas of fresh hops (13). 

The best CBG for you

With strong market interest, and more new research underway, expect to see more and more CBG strains and products on shelves in the future. Geneticists will continue to cross-breed high-CBG cannabis into interesting hybrids that combine feature sets from other strains. If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of CBG, we suggest you do your own research, try a few strains, and share your favorite with a friend. 

If you aren’t into smoking or vaping CBD hemp flower, there are lots of options out there for you. High quality CBD gummies, tinctures, and more are available everywhere with all sorts of options these days. Just remember to purchase from a reputable brand that maintains a tight chain of custody and uses third party testing to ensure safety and potency. Most importantly have fun experimenting! 

References

  1. https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/cbg-vs-cbd-what-are-the-differences-312232
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5487438/
  3. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/cbg-the-mother-of-all-cannabinoids-with-broad-antibacterial-activity/95824/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6021502/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33562819/
  6. https://www.crescolabs.com/cannabinoids/cbg/
  7. https://oregoncbdseeds.com/innovations/
  8. https://thehempmag.com/2018/08/hemp-cannabinoid-cannabigerol-cbg/
  9. https://oregoncbdseeds.com/blog/?post=cbg-the-seed-that-will-pass-the-03-thc
  10. https://en.seedfinder.eu/strain-info/Carmagnola/North_East_Hemp/
  11. https://highgradehempseed.com/hemp-strains/cbg-matterhorn/
  12. https://www.sunbeltseeds.com/product/the-grail-cbg-seeds/
  13. https://ihempx.com/the-grail/
  14. https://www.leafly.com/brands/oregon-cbd/products/oregon-cbd-sour-g-cbg

How to Roll the Perfect Pre-Roll

I first heard the term pre-roll from Bill the electrician. Electricians use “pre-wired devices” which, as expected, come pre-wired, meaning the electrician doesn’t do as much work on site. “Hand me that P.W.D.,” an electrician will say for short. Well one day Bill smiled and said, “I’ve got a P.R.D. today if you’re interested…a pre-rolled device.” I was interested and after work we shared his pre-roll full of tasty and relaxing Suver Haze CBD. 

There are as many ways to roll a great pre-roll as there are strains. Let’s look at some factors that go into the perfect roll. 

What is a pre-roll? 

Put simply, it’s a joint that someone rolled already. Maybe it was made at home ahead of a special occasion like a hike, or manufactured for consistent dosing purposes. Either way, pre-rolls are a popular and convenient way to purchase and consume CBD and CBG products. For more info about minor cannabinoids see the article What Minor Cannabinoids are the Most Popular? on our blog. 

Joints come in as many styles as there are smokers. They can be rolled tight or loose, fat or skinny, with any combination of hemp flower, to tailor the experience to the user’s need. Manufactured pre-rolls are typically cone-shaped and include a handle that is sometimes referred to as a “crutch.” The crutch is a short paper tube on the mouth side of the joint that provides structure for the joint and a convenient handle for passing. It’s normally made of heavier paper like cardstock. It’s not a filter like on a cigarette, but it can stop bits of bud from hitting your lips. The best feature may be that the crutch avoids finger burns when you get to the very end of the joint. 

Start with the best CBD ingredients 

Using quality materials will make most jobs better, and joint-rolling is no exception. Choose your favorite strain and remove any stem materials from the bud. A nice feature of rolling your own is that you can customize the size and hit you want, but between half gram (0.5g) to one gram (1.0g) of flower should work well. At that rate, you can roll up to seven beautiful joints from one jar of Earthy Now’s CBD Hemp Flower

It’s best to grind your flower to a medium-fine-grain fluffy texture with a precision grinder, because the consistency of the material will make the joint burn evenly for its whole length. Another benefit is the soft texture of the ground bud will protect the delicate paper from any sharp bits poking a hole through it. All grinders are not created equal – a high quality grinder is a good investment in your happiness. Grinder tech has really expanded and there are hundreds to choose from, whether you want a classic hand-operated model or a new battery-powered version. Factors that affect grinder performance include the material it’s made of, construction quality, the number of cutting-teeth, the ergonomics, and its features. Don’t worry if you don’t have a grinder—it’s totally fine to break up the bud with your fingers. Take your time until you have nice small fluffy bits that will pack evenly in the joint.

Best paper for the pre-roll

Using the right paper is the next major factor for taste and burnability. There’s nothing worse than an uneven burn. Papers are available in many shapes, sizes, and materials, and these all affect the quality and experience of the pre-roll. You’ll want to choose a good quality paper and have an understanding of the differences in how the paper materials perform. 

The common paper material types are wood pulp, hemp, and rice.  Wood pulp paper is the thickest which makes it burn the fastest but also makes it easiest to use since it’s harder to accidentally put a hole in the paper. Hemp paper is thinner than wood pulp paper so the pre-roll will burn longer. Rice papers are the thinnest and burn the longest but can be the most difficult to roll successfully. Keep in mind there is no wrong paper for your joint. However, making an educated choice can make the difference between a frustrating situation and a sweet session. 

Get ready to roll 

There’s one more important choice to make – roll by hand or use a pre-formed cone. To work by hand requires more steps and dexterity but offers more customization of your smoke. Anyone can learn to hand-roll and it’s a great skill to have if you’re inclined to practice. You can be the hero at the next cookout when you hear, “I have cannabis – does anyone know how to roll?” 

To simplify the process, you can choose to use a pre-roll cone. Pre-roll cones are papers that come pre-shaped as a cone with the crutch attached. This saves you from the tricky step of rolling and sealing the paper around the loose bud and adhering the crutch to the paper all at the same time. 

If you’re new to rolling, we recommend using the cone method because it is easier and faster. It can be tricky getting the tuck-and-roll move down without spilling material and a beginner can get frustrated while they practice. To get to the smoking faster, use a cone. If a cone isn’t enough help, there are also a plethora of rolling machines available depending on the volume of pre-rolls you need to make, and the style you want them to be. Rolling machines can be simple pocket-sized tools to make one pre-roll at a time, or they can be designed to fill dozens of pre-rolls at once for bulk production.

While rolling by hand takes more control and skill, it does allow you more freedom and flexibility in determining the size and shape of your joint. Of course if you want to always have the same size and shape, cones or machines are the way to go. 

Let’s roll!!!

Once you have your favorite CBD or CBG flower ground and your paper or cone picked out, you’re ready to roll. Find a stable place to work like a tabletop or desktop and use a tray or other clean surface to protect your work area and catch any stray bits of bud.  You can also use a food tray, book, or record album cover on your lap but be careful not to spill! 

How to roll the perfect pre-roll by hand

  1. Cut or tear a piece of light cardstock approximately 1” x 1” square, and roll it into a tube between ⅛” – 3/16” diameter. This is the crutch. 
  2. Place the crutch at the center of one short side of the rolling paper, slightly lapped over the edge. 
  3. Sprinkle .5 gram to 1 gram of premium ground flower onto the paper in the shape you want the final joint to be. 
  4. Take your time to shape the material and start pre-forming the shape.
  5. Start to form the shape of the joint more firmly, rolling it back and forth with your thumbs and fingers. 
  6. Carefully lick the top edge of the paper and lay it gently down around the rolled up joint, sealing it tightly.
  7. Hold the shape with your fingers until the paper is dried enough to hold its shape. 
  8. Using a semi-blunt poking tool like a pen cap, lightly tamp down the bud into the rolled joint, to pack it toward the crutch. You can also hold it from the open end and lightly shake back and forth to push the material back. Don’t pack too hard – it can impede air and smoke from passing through. Don’t shake too hard either, you don’t want to spill or lose control of the pre-roll. 
  9. Wrap the open end closed by twisting the paper clockwise between your finger and thumb. This will seal the material in and keep it packed correctly until you’re ready to…
  10. Light it up and enjoy!

How to roll the perfect pre-roll cone

  1. Put a small amount of premium ground flower in the cone. Use a semi-blunt poking tool like a pen cap to lightly pack down the bud. Cones may come in a storage tube that can be used as a packer.
  2. Continue to fill the tube as you periodically pack it down. Don’t pack too hard – it can impede air and smoke from passing through
  3. Fill the tube to your desired level but leave at least ½” of empty paper at the open end. 
  4. Wrap the open end closed by twisting the paper clockwise between your finger and thumb. This will seal the material in and keep it packed correctly until you’re ready to…
  5. Light it up and enjoy!

How to get the perfect pre-roll every time 

And if you just want perfect pre-rolls without the time investment, check out Earthy Now’s CBD Hemp Flower Pre-Rolls that each pack in 1 gram of premium Hemp Flower with up to 20% total cannabinoids per strain. Earthy Now uses authentic RAW organic hemp papers and filters, made from natural plants with zero burn additives, to keep the Pre-Roll experience organic and long-lasting.

Each Earthy Now packaged Pre-Roll comes in a reusable, smell proof, waterproof, environmentally friendly glass or biodegradable plastic tube that functions as a “saving”  tube if you don’t want to feel the whole thing at once. 

Final thoughts on the perfect pre-roll

No matter the style of your pre-roll, the ingredients inside it, or who made it, the good news is now you get to spark it up and enjoy! Remember that even though to be federally compliant, CBD, CBN, and CBG products must contain less than .3% of Delta-9 THC, many of them have potent effects and should be only used by responsible adults.

References

https://harasupply.com/blogs/news/rolling-papers-vs-pre-rolled-cones

https://harasupply.com/blogs/news/how-to-pack-a-pre-roll

https://filter420.com/2019/08/16/how-to-make-a-joint-crutch-filter/

How is Organic Cannabis Harvested?

Organic cannabis—does it really matter? Yes!

The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products. Organic farming practices are designed to reduce pollution, enhance soil and water quality, and foster self-sustaining farms (1).  Organic foods and wellness products have become a standard for healthy living over many years, and the recent major growth of the cannabis market has created a demand for organically produced cannabis as well. 

Demand for organic cannabis is rising

As the legality and availability of cannabis products increases, savvy consumers want safe, consistent, and high-quality products. Organic farming methods help ensure these goals while adding to the sustainability of the production and environment (2).

Every part of the cannabis plant can be used, and in a multitude of sometimes-surprising ways. Cultivated varieties of cannabis are harvested for their therapeutic and psychoactive cannabinoids, whether ingested in original form or extracted to maximize the potential of  compounds like CBD, CBG, CBN, and other minor cannabinoids. Second, cannabis is an excellent nutritional source many describe as a superfood (3). The seeds are harvested for their rich proteins and fatty acids—and you can even eat raw cannabis! Cannabis is also a sustainable textile powerhouse. The fibrous stalks, for example, are harvested and processed into eco-friendly materials for clothing, bedding, etc.

Indica plants, with shorter flowering cycles, grow well in cold, short-season climates and typically produce relaxing effects when used therapeutically. Sativa plants, which can produce energizing and creative effects, have longer flowering cycles, and are better in warm areas with longer seasons (4). Both varieties benefit from organic methods, largely because of the greatly increased nutrient bioavailability that comes with organic methods (5).  

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivatives of cannabis with extremely low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis), from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (6). This ushered in an unprecedented period of demand for hemp. Following a rush of active experimentation and development, we have the many innovative CBD products  available on the market today, with the promise of endless more to come. 

Who says it’s organic? 

Organic plants must be grown from non-GMO seeds without using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, so organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods (7). Organic fertilizers are made from plant and animal waste, while non-organic fertilizers likely use raw elemental salts. These salts reduce bio-availability by limiting beneficial microbes and fungi in the soil (5).  Bio-availability is important in determining absorption of nutrients and hence the speed and quality of the growth cycle, along with other factors like physical conditions of the soil, soil temperature, moisture content, etc. (8). 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the governing body in the United States that administers the certification of organic industrial hemp production (9), but even without official certification, growers can follow organic production standards to yield clean and sustainable cannabis harvests. The USDA publishes The Program Handbook: Guidance and Instructions for Accredited Certifying Agents and Certified Operations, which exists to guide organic operators through compliance with its National Organic Program

Why farmers choose organic

There are many advantages that may influence farmers’ decision to pursue organic production. Organic farming increases bio-availability and bio-diversity. It also means safer working conditions for farmers and staff throughout the entire growth cycle. 

Cannabis products grown organically have higher purity with no toxins from fertilizers or pesticides. This means less general pollution for the earth and healthier and more productive soil. In addition to the benefits to the farm and staff, purchasers of their yields will rest assured that they’re getting pure organic CBD in every dose. 

Why consumers choose organic

There are compelling reasons why consumers want organic products, and why they specifically prefer organically-produced CBD, CBG, CBN, and other hemp-derived products. Organic foods and health products decrease pollution and toxins in the world and deliver clean nutrients to our bodies, which are clear advantages. 

This is especially important for cannabis which is a bioaccumulator, meaning it is a type of plant that excels at drawing pollutants from the soil without releasing them as waste, and could be contaminated by these elements if grown in non-organic conditions.10 Research has found that microbes, heavy metals, and pesticides are the most commonly found contaminants in cannabis intended for human consumption, and these can mean exposure to Salmonella, cadmium, fungal spores, and even carcinogenic mycotoxins (11).  

Consumers looking for reliable and clean cannabinoids will want to choose organic CBD products every time. 

Harvest time

Whether the crop was grown indoors or outdoors, there are two common ways to determine if it’s ready to harvest. The first is to observe the hair-like strands on the buds, called stigma, which will start to curl and turn from white to orange, or red to brown. Secondly, the trichomes which are resinous glands all over the plant, will change from clear to opaque to amber. 

The plants’s cannabinoids and terpenes are contained in the trichomes, which become fragile at this time. Growers can limit damage by using drying, trimming, and curing practices that minimize agitation in order to preserve these potent products (12).  

Organic future

The value of organic cannabis production is clear to producers and consumers alike and we expect continued demand for organically-made cannabis products. Cannabis users who are  interested in natural, toxin-free enjoyment and wellness should always seek high-quality, organic cannabis goods

References

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02527-2
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323037
  4. https://weedmaps.com/learn/the-plant/cannabis-cultivation-intro
  5. https://www.maximumyield.com/go-organic-or-go-home-how-to-grow-cannabis-organically/2/4155
  6. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019
  7.  https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/07/22/understanding-usda-organic-label
  8. https://www.maximumyield.com/definition/3874/nutrient-availability
  9. https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NOP%202040%20Hemp%20Instruction.pdf
  10. https://santelabs.com/2020/07/hemp-bioaccumulation-the-good-and-the-bad/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6177718/
  12. https://www.leafly.com/learn/growing/harvesting-marijuana