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Cannabis 101

Cannabis 101

In Cannabis 101, we have covered the basics

What is cannabis, marijuana and hemp?

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. There are three subspecies: Indica, Sativa and Ruderalis. Hemp is a variety of cannabis that produces low amounts of THC. Marijuana is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It contains psychoactive compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as well as other active compounds like cannabidiol, or CBD.

Cannabinoids

The endocannabinoid system within the human body is a naturally forming system that regulates a wide variety of physiological processes, such as mood, memory, and appetite. When a deficiency or other defect occurs, it can often lead to disease.

When cannabis is ingested, cannabinoids immediately bind to cannabinoid receptors, which are most commonly found in the brain and immune system. The effects on the human body differ based on the specific receptors to which they bind. CBN, or cannabinol, fastens specifically to CB-2 receptors. Depending on the ratio of cannabinoids ingested, they will have a different effect on the body.

While scientists estimate there to be more than eighty unique cannabinoids, and dozens of terpenes in the cannabis plant, restrictions on research keep knowledge limited. We can only list information gathered from available research.

As an analogy, think of cannabinoids and terpenes as vitamins and minerals, respectively. Each can be isolated and consumed individually for their individual therapeutic benefits, but they work best as a team, as a multi-vitamin…working together to produce the Entourage Effect.

Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA) Expand

THCA is the main constituent in raw cannabis. THCA converts to Δ9-THC when burned, vaporized, or heated at a certain temperature. THCA, CBDA, CBGA, and other acidic cannabinoids hold the most COX-1 and COX-2 inhibition, contributing to cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects. This cannabinoid also acts as an antiproliferative and antispasmodic.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Expand

The most abundant cannabinoid present in marijuana, THC is responsible for cannabis’ most well known psychoactive effects. THC acts as a partial agonist at the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors. The compound is a mild analgesic, or painkiller, and cellular research has shown that it has antioxidant activity.

Vaporizes at: 315°F (157°C)

Potential effects: Euphoria, Sedation

Potential therapeutic value: Pain relief, Antioxidant, Nausea, Insomnia

Potential Harm: Dry mouth, Short-term memory loss

Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) Expand

CBDA, similar to THCA, is the main constituent in cannabis with elevated CBD levels. CBDA selectively inhibits the COX-2 enzyme, contributing to cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effects.

Cannabidiol (CBD) Expand

CBD has tremendous medical potential. This is particularly true when the correct ratio of CBD to THC is applied to treat a particular condition. CBD acts as an antagonist at both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, yet it has a low binding affinity for both. This suggests that CBD’s mechanism of action is mediated by other receptors in the brain and body.

Vaporizes at: 356°F (180°C)

Potential effects: Reduce the effects of THC, AntiInflammatory, Antioxidant, Neuroprotectant

Potential therapeutic value: Epilepsy, PTSD, Anxiety, Neuropathic pain, Antipsychotic

Potential Harm: No evidence to date

Cannabinol (CBN) Expand

CBN is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that is produced naturally from the degradation of THC, but can also be obtained through multi-phase distillation. There is usually very little to no CBN in a fresh plant. CBN acts as a weak agonist at both the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors, with greater affinity for CB-2 receptors than CB-1. The degradation of THC into CBN is often described as creating a sedative effect, known as a “couch lock.”

Vaporizes at: 365ºF (185ºC)

Potential effects: Mood, Behavior, Neurological

Potential therapeutic value: Depression, Epilepsy, Seizures, Multiple Sclerosis, Spasticity, Osteoporosis, ALS, Fibromyalgia, Insomnia, Pain, Arthritis, Inflammation, Immune System regulation

Potential harm: Drowsiness

Cannabigerol (CBG) Expand

A non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBG’s antibacterial effects can alter the overall effects of cannabis. CBG is thought to kill or slow bacterial growth, reduce inflammation, (particularly in its acidic CBGA form,) inhibit cell growth in tumor/cancer cells, and promote bone growth. It acts as a low-affinity antagonist at the CB1 receptor. CBG pharmacological activity at the CB2 receptor is currently unknown.

Cannabichromene (CBC) Expand

CBC is most frequently found in tropical cannabis varieties. CBC is known to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, inhibit cell growth in tumor/cancer cells, and promote bone growth. The effects of CBC appear to be mediated through non-cannabinoid receptor interactions.

CBC  has been shown to encourage the human brain to grow by increasing the viability of developing brain cells in a process known as neurogenesis. CBC plays a significant role in the anti-cancer and anti-tumor capabilities of cannabis.-Global Cannabinoids

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) Expand

THCV is a minor cannabinoid found in only some strains of cannabis. The only structural difference between THCV and THC is the presence of a propyl (3 carbon) group, rather than a pentyl (5 carbon) group, on the molecule. Though this variation may seem subtle, it causes THCV to produce very different effects than THC. These effects include a reduction in panic attacks, suppression of appetite, and the promotion of bone growth. THCV acts as an antagonist at the CB1 receptor and a partial agonist at the CB2 receptor.

Cannabidivarin (CBDV) Expand

Like THCV, CBDV differs from CBD only by the substitution of a pentyl (5 carbon) for a propyl (3 carbon) sidechain. Although research on CBDV is still in its initial stages, recent studies have shown promise for its use in the management of epilepsy. This is due to its action at TRPV1 receptors and modulation of gene expression.

Terpenes

Terpenes are a large class of organic compounds produced mostly by plants for protection from unwanted organisms and to attract helpful ones by using the strong aromas produced by their terpenes. Terpenes are the major component of turpentine, hence the name.

Terpenes and terpenoids are the primary constituents of the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers. Essential oils are used widely as fragrances in perfumery and traditional medicine, such as aromatherapy. Synthetic variations and derivatives of natural terpenes and terpenoids have greatly expanded the variety of aromas used in perfumery and flavors used in food additives. Vitamin A is a terpenoid. Terpenes do more than determine the scent of plants, they also provide therapeutic benefits just like cannabinoids. Understanding how terpenes function allows scientists to manipulate cannabinoids to desired ratios.

Currently, over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, and every strain tends toward a unique terpene profile.

Myrcene Expand

Commonly found in Mangos, hops, thyme and lemongrass, myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis plants. Myrcene concentration dictates whether a strain will have an Indica or Sativa effect. Strains containing over 0.5% of myrcene produce a more sedative high, while strains containing less than 0.5% myrcene have an energizing effect. Myrcene is also present in thyme, hops, lemongrass, and citrus, and is used in aromatherapy.. Myrcene is also known for its antibiotic, analgesic, and anti-mutagenic properties.

Aroma: Cardamom, cloves, musky, earthy, herbal

Vaporizes at: 332ºF (167ºC)

Potential effects: Sedating, relaxing

Potential therapeutic value: Antioxidant; treatment of insomnia, pain, and inflammation

Also found in: Mango, lemongrass, thyme, hops

Limonene Expand

Limonene is not only characteristic of citrus-smelling cannabis but it’s also the exact terpene found in lemons and other citrus fruit rinds, like oranges and limes, giving them that fruity smell. Among other products, limonene is commonly used as a fragrant additive in cosmetics and cleaning supplies.

Limonene is known for its powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties. It’s a natural insecticide on the cannabis plant and can even assist in treating toenail fungus in humans. Limonene is easily absorbed through inhalation and even improves absorption of other terpenes through the skin and body tissue, like mucous membranes and the digestive tract. Limonene is also known for its stress-relieving and mood-enhancing effects.

Aroma: Citrus

Vaporizes at: 348ºF (176ºC)

Potential effects: Elevated mood, stress relief

Potential therapeutic value: Treatment of anxiety, depression, inflammation, pain, and cancer

Also found in: Fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper, peppermint

Caryophyllene Expand

β Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (CB2). It produces anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Aroma: Pepper, spicy, woody, cloves

Vaporizes at: 266ºF (130ºC)

Potential effects: Stress relief

Potential therapeutic value: Treatment of pain, anxiety/depression, ulcers

Also found in: Black pepper, cloves, cinnamon

Terpinolene Expand

Terpinolene has been shown to exhibit antioxidant and anticancer effects in rat brain cells. Studies with mice show that terpinolene has a sedative effect when inhaled. In addition, terpinolene is responsible for many of the floral notes found in Jack Herer varieties.

Aroma:  Piney, floral, and herbal

Vaporizes at: 366ºF (186ºC)

Potential effects: Uplifting

Potential therapeutic value: Antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer

Also found inNutmeg, tea tree, conifers, apples, cumin, and lilacs

Pinene Expand

α Pinene accounts for cannabis’ familiar odor, often associated with pine trees and turpentine. α Pinene is the most common naturally occurring terpenoid and acts as both an anti-inflammatory and a bronchodilator.

Aroma: Pine

Vaporizes at: 311ºF (155ºC)

Potential effects: Alertness, memory retention, counteracts some THC effects

Potential therapeutic valueTreatment of asthma, pain, inflammation, ulcers, anxiety, cancer

Also found in: Pine needles, rosemary, basil, parsley, dill

Humulene Expand

α Humulene contributes to the “hoppy” aroma of cannabis. This terpene acts as an appetite suppressant and exhibits potent anti-inflammatory activity.

Aroma: Hops, woody, earthy

Vaporizes at: 222ºF (106ºC)

Potential therapeutic value: Anti-inflammatory

Also found in: Hops, coriander, cloves, basil

Ocimene Expand

Ocimene is frequently used in perfumes for its pleasant odor. In nature, this terpene contributes to a plant’s defenses and possess antifungal properties.

Aroma: Sweet, herbal, and woody

Vaporizes at: 122ºF (50­ºC)

Potential therapeutic value: Antiviral, anti-fungal, antiseptic, decongestant, antibacterial

Also found in: Mint, parsley, pepper, basil, mangoes, orchids, and kumquats

Linalool Expand

Linalool has a floral scent reminiscent of spring flowers, but with spicy overtones. It possesses sedative properties and is an effective anxiety and stress reliever. It has also been used an analgesic and anti-epileptic.

Aroma: Floral

Vaporizes at: 388ºF (198ºC)

Potential effects: Mood enhancement, sedation

Potential therapeutic value: Treatment of anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, inflammation, and neurodegenerative disease

Also found in: Lavender

Geraniol Expand

Also present in geraniums, geraniol emits a rosey scent that makes it a popular perfume additive. It is an effective mosquito repellent and shows a potential protective effect against neuropathy.

Valencene Expand

Valencene is present in Valencia oranges and contributes to cannabis’ citrus aroma.

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Cannabis Extracts – Oil, Wax, Crumble and Shatter

Extract (noun) : a preparation containing the active ingredients of a substance in concentrated form.

A cannabis/hemp oil concentrate or extract is any product derived from the cannabis flower that is processed into a concentrated form.

There are several methods of extraction:

  1. Ethanol – An ethanol extraction paired with distillation is an fast and easy way to a cannabis concentrate.  Ethanol is a relatively common extraction solvent and as such commercial solutions are readily available.  While still flammable, ethanol is a very safe and food grade solvent which is readily distilled away.  Lastly, it is an efficient solvent allowing for large scale rapid extractions.
  2. Butane – For small scale concentrate production butane continues to be quite popular as it is simple to produce flavorful and potent extracts. While many would refer to these types of concentrates, sauces, waxes, etc. as full-spectrum, they don’t quite fit the bill. Butane does not extract all the compounds from cannabis equally, causing a shift in the ratios of the natural compounds. Additionally, butane must be removed from the extracts for safe consumption. This removal process involves heating under a vacuum which results in a loss of terpenes in addition to the butane solvent.
  3. CO2 Extraction – Creating true nature-identical, full-spectrum extracts to produce the highest quality products, Supercritical Fluid CO2 Extraction (SFE) has emerged as the technology of choice.  What it provides in terms of extraction quality it trades off in complexity.  This complexity and quality stem from the fact that unlike butane and ethanol, Supercritical Fluid CO2 is tunable based on temperature and pressure, which means the experienced extractor can tailor each extraction to the specific strain of cannabis being extracted.Conversely, this also means an inexperienced extractor can very easily over or under-extract their cannabis resulting in low quality or low yield extracts.  This challenge gave SFE a bad name in the early days of recreational cannabis legalization.  Now, with new processes developed and optimized using engineering, chemistry, and analytical expertise, SFE can produce extracts which truly mirror the original raw material in both cannabinoid and terpene ratios.  Additionally, because COis safe, green, and a gas a room temperature, further heating is not required to make the product safe for consumption.  These high-quality, nature identical extracts avoid any potential degradation, delivering the full cannabis experience into any product type including concentrates, vapes, beverages, sublinguals, and transdermals.
  4. Grind & Screen (no solvent)
    1. Kief is created by grinding dried marijuana and screening out the plant material so that you are left with just the trichromes. A 4-piece grinder does a decent job.
    2. Hash or hashish is simply kief that has been pressed into a block.
    3. Bubble Hash is kief collected with an ice water technique “it bubbles when heat is applied”

Cannabis Extracts a.k.a. Concentrates

  1. Oil – The most basic of cannabis extracts. All final cannabis products begin with the oil. Oil refers to the extremely thick, sticky result of the extraction and filtration process and can be any shade of amber. It can be eaten, smoked, vaped or rubbed on the skin. It can also refer to a cannabis oil extract and MCT coconut oil mixture known as tinctures and vape oils.
  2. Wax/Crumble –  A cannabis extract product that “crumbles” when handled. Results from elevated temperatures used during the solvent removal process, or by whipping air into the extract under the presence of heat. Can also be created directly, using proper techniques, from a CO2 extraction or Butane extraction
  1. Shatter – A brittle, glass-like cannabis extract with a tendency to snap when handled. Shatter requires long and delicate purging cycles to properly remove all solvents used in the manufacturing process.

Information courtesy of Leafly, SCLabs and Citiva

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Cannabis 411

Cannabis 101

Cannabis Dictionary – coming soon

The Endocannabinoid System – coming soon

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