Category Archives: Health

Cannabis is a Healing Plant: A Personal Account

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Picture provided via wikipedia.com

For my first article writing about cannabis, I want to reflect on my own poignant and personal testimony demonstrating how this amazing plant can be a healing medicine.

My mother moved to Northern California to settle down and begin her golden years in a place of beauty, and to be near her daughter (that’d be me). She and dad found a place, and jobs, and were getting excited about summer hikes and adventures when, six months into the new chapter of our lives, mom was diagnosed with stage four anal cancer. A very rare cancer that is usually removed via surgery when found, but mom’s cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and it was too late for surgery. (Side note of relevance: the reason for this is that she was living in a state that, at the time, did not have health care and therefore she could not afford and get the recommended colonoscopy screenings. So, hey people over 50 – get your colonoscopy, it can save your life!)

I cannot express to you in words what it feels like to witness a loved one go through the suffering, pain, and fear that mom went through. Memories flood my brain as I recall the countless hospital days and nights, the chemo and radiation treatments which made her so sick and frail, the piles of pills she had to take every day, the time her feather light blonde hair all fell out except a few clumps which dad had to shave off, the time she held my hand praying to die, the regular vomiting and nausea, and, eventually, IV dripped morphine and only a skeleton of mom lying for weeks in bed, only waking to use to the bathroom and to whisper “I love you.” She died in May of 2014, screaming and writhing in pain and morphine-induced dementia. Yes, horrible beyond belief; unfair, traumatic, unreal, and completely fucked up.

I can, however, express to you the gratitude and joy I have for the cannabis plant. It was a positive ray of light – hope – that we cherished throughout mom’s cancer journey.

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NFL: Why Not Change Policy on Cannabis Use?

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Photo by Teo’s89 via wikipedia.org

The Super Bowl is over. Played next to the counter culture hub of the world, San Francisco, and won by the team representing the friendliest cannabis city in the world, Denver – weed was apart of the party. Yet, as many partook, NFL players are still not allowed to use cannabis. Team ownership and the NFL regularly test for THC. The permitted threshold for THC is 35 nanograms per milliliter of urine. This is an effective ban on cannabis use, as anything but a one time use would result in a failing test.

Given the Super Bowl is fresh in everyone’s mind, its a good opportunity to examine the NFL as a case study representing the misconceptions of the plant. Seen as a drug detrimental to players, cannabis use is strongly discouraged. Lately the NFL has faced flak from cannabis advocacy groups for the harsh punishment incurred by players using the plant. While the plant normalizes nationally, the NFL seems stuck in the past.

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Renewing Your 215? Do New Laws Make It More Difficult?

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Photo provided by Blausen.com via wikipedia.com

It’s the New Year. 2016! The year California is supposed to legalize cannabis! It’s also the year new medical marijuana law – MMRSA – goes into effect. Here at HU, several of us need to renew our Prop 215 recommendation, which got us thinking… We’ve spent so much time researching the way MMRSA affects cultivation that we paved over what these new laws mean to safe access. Basically, is it more difficult to obtain our recommendation this year?

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Can cannabis save meth and heroin users?

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Humboldt County has a drug problem. Most people would agree with this but if you don’t believe me read the North Coast Journal’s excellent two part series on addiction last month. It pretty well establishes that meth and opiate based drugs like heroin and oxy are a big problem around here. Alternately, if more hands on evidence is what you’re looking for, just walk around downtown Eureka or Arcata. The piece in the NCJ outlined different treatment and support options available in Humboldt, as well as different treatment philosophies. It was while perusing the section on harm reduction that I came across something interesting: the idea of getting a meth user to replace meth with cannabis. This sounds too good to be true – can people replace harmful drug use (meth, heroin, pain pills) with less harmful drug use (cannabis)? The answer is… it’s complicated.

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Blazed: To Vape or Not to Vape?

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Being an athlete and believing in the benefits of cannabis can be a fine line to walk. Not only do coaches, schools, and the NCAA condone (piss test) cannabis use, but smoking weed can also hinder endurance due to lung inflammation and scarring. During my football playing days I learned the benefits of vaporizing cannabis as opposed to smoking blunts and joints. Wind sprints were far easier after beginning to vape. It was easier to hide my intoxicated state because cannabis vapor doesn’t smell and leads to a clearer controllable high. Even after hanging up the cleats, my meditative hikes in the woods, workouts in the gym, rides on the back roads, and floats on the river are always accompanied by a well-timed vapor puff.

Today, here at HU, we are on the vapor bandwagon. Although we enjoy the occasional blunt, spliff, bong rip, or joint; we see vaporizing cannabis as far a superior ingestion method than smoking. Not only is vaporizing healthier for those who partake but HU has learned that vaporizing your stash has fringe benefits such as controlling ones high, cleaner taste/high, edible ABV (Already Been Vaped), and no smoke smell!

It has been well documented that vaporizing cannabis is far healthier than smoking. In fact the DEA, in a semantic slight, continues to cite these studies, pronouncing that there are no health benefits when smoking cannabis – they must have forgotten about the vapor part of the study… But they have a point because anytime combustion is used to burn cannabis – or anything – Screenshot_2015-09-07-16-11-47hydrocarbons, carcinogens, and toxins are present. CA Norml reports – using data from a study published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics – that combusted cannabis produces over 100 chemicals that are not present in cannabis vapor. Using a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) researchers determined that cannabis vapor contains 95% THC with trace amounts of CBD with the remaining percentage made up of flavinoids and terpenes. Combusted cannabis was shown to contain as much as 88% non-cannabinoid compounds – that only leaves 12% for the good stuff! All in all, findings demonstrate that cannabis consumers can all but mitigate ill effects of smoking cannabis by using a vaporizer! Check out this cool visual by weed maps (Above – or Click for full view).

In addition to mitigating ill effects of smoking cannabis, vaporizing cannabis has additional benefits. For instance, as Chuck Lenatti points out in Why Vape? A Cooler Way to Consume Cannabis (Cannabis Now Magazine), “unlike combustion, which releases all of the psychoactive chemicals simultaneously… [vaporization] allows the active ingredients to be released gradually.” Terpenoids (smell and flavor) vaporize at 246˚F, THC vaporizes at 315˚F, CBD vaporizes at 320-356˚F, and CBN vaporizes at 365˚F. Toxins are released at 392˚F. So what does this all mean? With a digital vaporizer one can control the temperature and dial in their high. Here at HU we like to set our vaporizer at 315˚F earlier in the day and closer to 365˚F later. A pure THC high, in low doses and with the right strains (sativa) can lead to an extremely uplifting, productive, and active high (a great writing high!). Conversely, dialing the vape to 365˚F latter in the day (with indica dominate strains) is great for watching a movie and winding down.

Sticking to these numbers when vaporizing can lead to additional benefits. For one, as Emerald Cup judge Nikki Lastreto pointed out (Underground Review Sept 1st), taste and smell are probably the most important categories when judging cannabis. However, when smoking cannabis, smell and flavor is distorted by the combustion process. Additionally, because of all the photo (1)chemicals associated with smoking cannabis, vaporizing offers a clearer high reflecting the plants compounds and not compounds produced during the combustion process. Then theirs ABV, Already Been Vaped, as Chuck Lenatti calls it. If you stick to a lower vaporizing temp and don’t fry your weed it can be used to sprinkle on food as a on the go edible. Because the cannabis has been heated, it is now psychoactive and ready to eat. In Cannabis Now magazine Chuck leaves us a recipe he calls Old Hippie Firecrackers – a little Nutella on a graham cracker, a sprinkle of ABV, and instant edible!

In sum, if one is wishing to be a connoisseur of cannabis, a vaporizer is mandatory. Smoking just doesn’t cut it. There are too many benefits associated with a quality vaporizer. We recommend Vapor Bros!

“[Vape] weed every day” Nate Dogg – The Next Episode [brackets mine]

Ed