Your mom or grandma is extremely curious about medical cannabis

Image courtesy Alex Harvey via Unsplash

Elderly people are smart.

Elderly people have bodies with lots of wear and tear. They ache, and they want relief.

And at their age, they could care less about the stigma the medical establishment perpetuates about medical cannabis.

“Honey, give grandma a hit of that!”

You know you’ve heard it.

Now, let’s talk about it. Seriously.

Dispensary patients no different from who you see at Walgreens

When people ask me about the medical marijuana dispensary where I am registered, which is all the time, I always have the soundbite ready.

“It’s mostly elderly women when I go in the mornings,” I tell them.

In fact, it could be the same people you see in line at Walgreens. Naturally, that always is dominated by elderly people picking up their medications.

So, it’s only natural that elderly people are a big part of the clientele at medical cannabis dispensaries.

Although there are many chronic conditions that might qualify an elderly person for a medical cannabis card in their state, most use it to seek relief from arthritis and inflammation-causing conditions in general.

In fact, even the medical establishment admitted in a recent study that cannabis is effective at treating nerve pain.

Senior bus trips to qualifying docs in big cities?

When I tell people about all the seniors at the dispensary, the reaction from seniors themselves always is, “Yep, yep!” It’s almost kind of amusing to me. Again, I’m not sure why, other than the fact that I love how they could care less about the stigma attached to cannabis. Which to me, just says so much.

The next thing they always tell me about is a friend somewhere who is able to get edibles. “They have cookies, candy, even coffee.”

I always say, “I know, they have that at the dispensary I go to in Milan (Illinois)!” To which they light up upon hearing, especially if they’re local.

Perhaps the Quad-City Times Plus 60 Club should plan a bus trip to The Healing Center in Chicago, where I got my  medical cannabis card.

“Join the Quad-City Times’ Bill Wundram and KWQC’s Paula Sands on a delightful trip to Chicago, where seniors can apply for cannabis cards. You’ll learn about concentrates and edibles while watching ‘Reefer Madness’ aboard our deluxe motor coach. Cost is $800 for the day trip which includes the cost of your cannabis card and seeing the doctor for the two required, back-to-back appointments.”

Ha!

I’m kidding of course, and yet, it would fill up in a day. And it really would cost about $800 if you’re going to add in the bus cost and a way for whomever puts the trip together to make money. It cost me $600 to drive myself to Chicago, see the doctor, and get the card.

For most elderly people, the biggest hurdle to medical cannabis likely is cost.

It’s not for a lack of interest, that’s for sure. In fact, I interviewed for a job on Upwork a while back where I would have been going into assisted living communities in California and educating seniors about medical cannabis.

I may have ended up being offered the job, but I pulled out when “Tell us more!” during the interview process turned into me saying, “I’ve told you enough already! My rate is $27.50 per hour!”

 My interview for a job explaining cannabis to seniors

They must have liked what I had to say, because they sure wanted more. But the Upwork interview process easily can turn into free work, and I don’t play that.

Here’s what they asked me, and what I told them:

What would your main message be to senior homes on why they should allow us to be present?

I said: If the seniors who are mobile and still drive, or have lots of friends who visit, are not educated about what strains may help them if they do get the card, they could self-medicate willy-nilly. Marijuana is medication and the seniors need to understand that no two bowls of weed are necessarily the same. If they are not educated about indica, sativa, CBD (I’d now add terpenes) and THC in an era of widespread availability, the results could be disastrous. No two strains are appropriate for all people.”

They asked: What obstacles do you foresee with contacting senior homes regarding presenting cannabis and how do you plan on overcoming this?

I said: Some may flat out refer to federal law just to avoid the entire conversation. So, it’s important to reassure them first and foremost of what the laws are (in their state and whether there is a logical federal threat…which it increasingly appears there might be, at least to me). Second, they need to be convinced…that it’s important to be ahead of the curve…as it pertains to medical marijuana. It is here to say and at some point, residents are going to start inquiring about keeping it in their units.

Worse, they could start getting it off the streets from their children and grandchildren as the green movement sweeps the nation.

Half of all medical cannabis cardholders are parents, study shows

In terms of hard statistics to back up my theory about the mature medical cannabis market, I found a recent HelloMD study that was reported by Marketwatch. HelloMD is an online service that connects people seeking a medical cannabis card in qualifying states with live doctors. It’s pretty incredible.

The Marketwatch report, headlined “Mom and dad make up 45 percent of medical marijuana patients,” found:

“Nearly 85 percent of medical marijuana patients had some form of higher education – nearly 15 percent held a postgraduate degree – and about 45 percent were parents.”

The survey included responses from 1,400 patients.

I’m not the first blogger or news organization to report about or pontificate on the senior medical cannabis market. And it’s important we do so, because above all, the safety of elderly people in the medical cannabis era is paramount. Full-on federal legalization is inevitable at some point.

Preaching the plant’s benefits to retirement communities

If you think this job I applied for sounds unbelievably wacky, it isn’t.

CBS News reported recently about a cannabis club at the Rossmoor retirement company in Walnut Creek, in the San Francisco Bay area. Its president, Renee Lee, is quoted.

“We caution, especially the seniors, to stay away from edibles, and really start slow,” she told CBS News. “We start with low dosage, we start in the early evening, telling them not to drive, not to mix alcohol. There’s a lot of cautions, a lot of education that comes along with it.”

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This is interesting to know, because the first thing most seniors ask me when they learn I have a cannabis card is whether I’ve tried the edibles.

Many seniors swear by edibles. In fact, in the same CBS news story, 68-year-old Sue Taylor describes how she uses cannabis gummis for sleep and pain.

What did Sue, a retiree, used to do? Work as a high school principal. Her son, who’s in the pot business, introduced her to weed.

Scientific American on cannabis use among the elderly

I think I would really feel like I had arrived if ever I landed a paid assignment with Scientific American.

They are absolutely the best at what I like to think I try to do.

They recently reported on research published in June in the journal Nature Medicine. To quote their prose:

“Picture the stereotypical pot smoker: young, dazed, and confused. Marijuana has long been known for its psychoactive effects, which can include cognitive impairment. But new research…suggests the drug might affect older users very differently than young ones – at least in mice.

Instead of impairing learning and memory, as it does in young people, the drug appears to reverse age-related declines in the cognitive performance of elderly mice.”

The esteemed publication quotes Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn in Germany. When young mice were given low amounts of THC, they could barely even find a safety platform in a water maze.

But when elderly mice were given THC, they could find the platform as well as untreated young mice. Without THC, the elderly mice had far more difficulty finding the platform than untreated young mice.

“The effects were very robust, very profound,” Zimmer said.

Although we badly want to when it suits us, but know better when it doesn’t, we can’t immediately convey mice results to humans in any medical study. Costly clinical trials are needed.

Such trials generally are funded by Pharma, which has some of the deepest pockets on the planet. Pharma’s not in the business of funding cannabis trials, of course, because it’s not good for business.

But what makes Scientific American so special is that it goes on to report the “mechanisms of action” – why it may be that THC affects elderly mice in this way – in ways that are easy to understand. You can check it out for yourself right here.

Cannabis as a treatment for Alzheimer’s?

You may also have heard in the news lately that cannabis may help people with Alzheimer’s. This is in part due to the CBD found in cannabis.

A recent Australian study, a review of 27 previous studies, showed that CBD may help with several neurological disorders and even schizophrenia. The study was published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

“From this review, we found that CBD will not improve learning and memory in healthy brains, but may improve aspects of learning and memory in illnesses associated with cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease, as well as neurological and neuro-inflammatory disorders,” project leader, Dr. Katrina Green said in a news release. “Evidence suggests that CBD is neuroprotective and can reduce cognitive impairment associated with use of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis.”

As for schizophrenia, “CBD may be able to treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia that are seemingly resistant to existing medications,” Green reported. “In addition, CBD treatment did not alter body weight or food intake, which are common side effects of antipsychotic drug treatment.”

In fact, Green learned CBD cancels out the harmful effects of THC in people with cognitive impairment. This has long been referred to the “entourage effect” of cannabis. Part of its appeal is how its two medicinal compounds, plus terpenes, create a powerful medicine with very few, if any, negative side effects in most people.

Yet we’re still fighting its use while turning even seniors into addicts with opioids and anxiety medications cranked out by Pharma. Not to mention that by denying seniors cannabis, we’re giving those with alcohol problems even more reason to medicate anxiety and depression with booze. When used in combination with prescription medications, in particular, the result could be death.

To end on a serious, responsible and balanced note, I used to write for a Fortune 500 chain of addiction treatment centers and psychiatric hospitals. Substance abuse among the elderly population and the caregiving population is very, very real. If you or someone you know might have a substance abuse problem, check out these stories I wrote for Foundations Recovery Network:

Caregiving at what price: Coping with drugs and alcohol while taking care of mom and/or dad

Substance abuse where you might not expect it: Older Americans getting drunk, high too

 

When you’re ready to blow, Fukitol SR…or Kavalier Cookies

A long time ago, a former bartender and carnival worker gave me a shirt labeled “Fukitol. Once daily and you forget about all your problems.”

Of course, it was a picture of a pill, and it looked like a Pharma ad. He got it at one of the carnivals he worked at with the owner of the bar next door to the one he worked at. Confused? He worked at Mary’s, the other bar owner operated Liquid, next door, at one time.

Let me just say that I got me some FUKITOL cannabis right now, and thank GOD! after what I just saw on the news!

Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhraaaaaaahaaaaaan.

Anyhow, I HEARD this man was working as a jailer at one time, but then I heard he was back at the carnival.

At any rate, my mind went to him and Fukitol after watching the news report of Bill Boom being sentenced to two weeks of community service, $5,000, and two years’ probation.

That’s PTSD. And for all I know I have my dad’s disease too, and will be dead at a very young age. It would explain the creativity, the one-liners, and my willingness to say absolutely anything and everything.

But hell, I’m going to own my anger right now, and not blame it on any brain disease that might land me in a nursing home! But hey, this is the first time I ever have brought it up. When my brother and I were speaking, he brought it up all the time. He’s older, he’s sicker, and he’s very, very scared.

Wouldn’t that be something if my brother had nothing to do with what happened to me. If it were public officials who are refusing to take personal responsibility?

My UAW/UFCW dead parents will strike them with lightning eventually, so I don’t really give a shee-ot. They’re busted. They’re either going to kill me or it will blow over.

When donkeys fly out of my butt.

Kavalier Cookies, yum, yum

So, right now, I am stoned on Kavalier Cookies, wheeee! This would be a 30 percent THC strain – oh yeah, baby, like at the end of a story!

– 30 —

BUT IT DOESN’T STOP THERE!

Kavalier Cookies by Rythm GTI – Yes! The cultivator right here in Rock Vegas! – is a HYBRID between Pre-98 Bubba Kush – the legendary cure-all for people with PTSD, with a high CBD-THC ratio – AND Platinum Girl Scout Cookies, which is the recreational strain that’s all the rage right now from coast to coast.

YAY! I’m going to do a quick number, and then I’ll be back to test the next strain – ALIEN ROCK CANDY! I’ve never tried that one.

Sorry for the all caps, I’m stoned and being silly.

BRB.

Alien Rock Candy

Wow. I just completed a full orbit on Alien Rock Candy. These long-form joints pack a whopping 30 percent THC also. They are by Cresco, which I love.

I sparked up and a former friend of mine, and a devoted friend of the man on the news today, left an extremely nasty message on my Facebook page.

I got scared and called the cops, and they’re coming, and they’re always here anyway but seldom do we speak anymore.

Then I’m like, who cares. Who really cares.

Annnnyhow…

It is some DANK in here and the cops are coming, so I’ll see you later. Even though I’m legal…

#RespectTheBadge

Misbranded cannabis summit proves addiction recovery ‘experts’ in dark ages

Photo courtesy Pixabay

At least behavioral health professionals are making a feeble attempt to educate themselves.

And I’m so disgusted and triggered right now by the two #Cannabis17 presentations I watched, I won’t be watching any more.

But I at least wanted to wrap up my coverage, for however long it lasted. I would continue to watch if I was hearing anything new, but instead, I’m hearing discussions and comments that were resolved a few years back if not longer than that.

The conference appears to be an affirmation of arcane ideas that fuel ignorance-induced poor decision making with patients.

Read more: Why cannabis should be used to treat addiction

I got sober without a treatment center or AA, beyond the first 90 days and a meeting here and there after that. While I long have been appalled by what I saw and heard in AA and never would recommend it to anyone (or criticize those who do find relief there), I feel like I have truly given the behavioral health community a fair shot.

Boy, lol. They have a long, long, long way to go. I am beginning to think behavioral health is not really about helping people, but in fact, it’s all about money. Of course, that’s an old hat comment. But after four years as a reporter in the mainstream medical community, I believe it now more than ever.

So, it’s time for me to step aside and just start writing about, and advocating for, medical cannabis.

Read more: Medical establishment admits cannabis effective at treating nerve pain

I’m not saying that all behavioral health professionals and addiction treatment centers are bad. But, hey. They are fueling Pharma chemical-induced addiction every single day with their “maintenance therapies.”

In that context, the #Cannabis17 conference and some of the things being said there are beyond outrageous.

Recently, someone who I like very much who has struggled many years with addiction reached out to me. This person had just spent a whopping amount of money at a well-known chain of addiction treatment centers (none that I ever have written for, thank God).

Now, he’s still a heavy drinker and he’s broke. This person, who has not reached out in a very long time, wanted to share his entire story with me.

Sadly, I cut him off and then blocked him. He used to run with a crowd that is, shall we say, in the forefront of my PTSD-related triggers all last week and this week. I hope it is over soon, so I can move on with my life and try to re-establish personal relationships.

Read more: For many people with PTSD, CBD from cannabis offers great hope

I have been through hell and back and got sober in the middle of it. Then, I was pumped full of benzodiazepines, then relapsed after two and a half years.

Now, while nothing is perfect in light of what I have been through, I’m sober again. Nor were the relapses any sort of disastrous, end-of-world doomsday scenario, which is what AA would have made it out to be, causing many people to hate themselves and again start the drinking/drugging cycle.

Read more: How I got off benzos from 4 mg of Ativan per day

God, they have hurt so many people, yet all they do is toot, toot, toot about those they helped. Come on, AA. After 75-plus years, it’s time to admit you have a problem.

There are no statistics on people like myself who persevere through hard work and faith in God, not a hunger for belonging at the cost of their self-respect.

I remain hopeful about the future every single day, even when I don’t have the money for medical cannabis, which is most of the time these days.

Read more: Check out my caregiving, elder advocacy portfolio

Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, had I known the person who reached out to me had planned on going to rehab, I would have told him to save his money and apply for a cannabis card.

I’m not saying that’s the solution for everyone. But for many people, traditional rehab would never work in a million years. Cannabis would.

Either behavioral health professionals and those who employ them can get with the times, start helping people, and maybe even find a super-hybrid of cannabis and psychotherapy that is a breakthrough treatment.

CBD and CBT, if you will.

Or, they can continue to lose customers who are tired of hearing their ancient rhetoric about cannabis.

From Howie Mandel to Kellie Pickler, check out my celebrity interviews

 

Why I’m having such a hard time taking #Cannabis17 seriously

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Photo courtesy Pixabay

Thanks to medical cannabis, outstanding mental health treatment, and my sobriety, I have learned to manage PTSD triggers.

With God, above all else. I’m the furthest thing from a 12-stepper (I find it predatory and mean) but I am a very religious man.

As I was about to explode from a comment made at #Cannabis17 (they are not friends of those who choose cannabis as medicine, by the way, and I knew that going in), instead I reached to disconnect from the Internet.

But, God beat me to it, and now I have no internet connection at all again. So, I logged off to write this. I do intend to view all sessions from the conference in their entirety tomorrow, assuming my internet is working.

What comment made me so angry?

Dr. Jonathan Caulkins told this group that, based on his research, only 2 percent of marijuana users are “controlled users,” meaning they don’t use it at work, and only use it 10 out of 30 days.

How in the hell can you be a controlled user as a medical cannabis patient with that definition? You can’t.

Stigma!

He goes on to make the argument that medical cannabis is a sham, that the marijuana companies don’t care about sick people and that it’s really all about the almighty dollar.

Read more: For people with PTSD, CBD from medical cannabis sometimes is their only hope

Of course, it is. But don’t be so irresponsible as to discount the benefits of medical cannabis, we’re all quite tired of that.

Pharma churns out addicts every day – opioids, benzodiazepines – and they do it with the help of the medical establishment. Then, doctors prescribe patients “maintenance drugs” of these same harsh, dangerous substances.

It’s a joke! Yes, they need the drugs or they’ll die. But who created that problem?

Give. Me. A. Break.

Read more: How I got off benzos with medical cannabis and got sober again

Pharma is far, far, far, far (should I type a million of them?) more covert, evil, powerful, shady, wealthy, and buying politicians every single day. I apologize to my former Fortune 500 healthcare clients, but it’s the truth, and all of America knows it.

I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I say what I know to be true.  I may not even live to see tomorrow. As someone with PTSD who has been heavily triggered for a week, I live in fear for my life every day. And rightly so after what I have been through, I’m not “crazy.”

Medical cannabis helps.

The total disregard of medical cannabis and the research supporting it by the medical establishment is so alarming I fear for our country.

Stern, others far more powerful than “reefer madness” minority

They are going to have no choice but to fall into line, however, and Dr. Caulkins essentially explained that to this group of mental health professionals, one visibly angry in her comments.

But Caulkins also gave my high school class president and the owner of my medical cannabis dispensary – Matthew Stern – a gigantic compliment, whether he knew it or not.

Matt is sure to become a “Ganjapreneur” (nod to the magazine) based on what Dr. Caulkins said.

And he also made an awesome and important analogy that this crowd probably would not have otherwise understood or listened to, so I shouldn’t be so hard on the guy. In fact, I give him props.

He said that the smartest business model in cannabis is to buy a big parcel with a small building on it. I had to giggle, as Nature’s Treatment of Illinois in Milan is EXACTLY that. With the already-erected, massive Budweiser distributorship that Matt owns next door. I often say, at some point in America, it may become booze out, pot in. Perhaps the distributorship will become a cultivation center!

Read more: The first day I legally bought pot in the friendly village of Milan, Ill.

However, Dr. Caulkins made the point to the crowd, at least the way I saw it, that they will best be served to also erect their tiny, closed-minded house on a large field that will allow room for growth.

I’d like to think it should work both ways, but…no. We’ve been told “Our way, or the highway” by the medical establishment on this matter our entire lives.

By the way, Dr. Caulkins is THE authority on illegal drugs. His job, officially or not, is to make sure the country remains lawful as it transitions to a cannabis free-for-all like Pharma has (they are regulated, sure…lol…and powerful). So, in that regard, I have the utmost respect for him.

Dr. Caulkins, please look into illegal organized drug crime in Rock Island County. I’ll bet you find something! But I don’t think it will be marijuana. Heck, it’s probably everything, but the more market share Stern gets, the less powerful the mafia will be in that regard. Yeah, I have no problem at all calling it that.

From Caulkins’ LinkedIn profile:

“My primary research expertise is quantitative modeling of the effectiveness of drug control strategies and also associated issues (crime, violence, prevention, counter-terror, etc.). With co-authors, I just published a book on marijuana legalization, to follow up last year’s book (Drugs & Drug Policy, Oxford U Press). A longer-range project is obtaining new high-frequency data series that will help me discover insights into the operation of illegal markets.”

Dr. Caulkins said marijuana supporters are “rabid.” Even more so than boozers, he pointed out. Boozers is my word.

Yes, Dr. Caulkins, we are! Most people who have been lied to and hurt by powerful people and denied basic human rights, such as consumptions of a plant, are. Don’t get me started on why I have PTSD.

Read more: What happened to me in the Rock Island County Jail? Finally, my tell-all (full book coming fall 2018!)

#Cannabis17 is sponsored by the National Council for Behavioral Health. It’s important that you know who they are and where they stand in the context of my coverage for the rest of the week.

What is the National Council for Behavioral Health? From their press release alerting me to #Cannabis17:

“The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with our 2,900 member organizations serving over 10 million adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions, the National Council is committed to all Americans having access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery. The National Council helped introduce Mental Health First Aid USA and more than (a) million Americans have been trained.”

I’ll be covering Cannabis Summit next week, with a focus on public health

When I typed “recovery” into Pixabay, this odd image popped up. Since my dad’s stock car No. was 37, I just had to use it.

When I fine-tuned the focus of my site and my expertise to include sobriety and cannabis together, I knew it wasn’t a wacky or even trailblazing idea by any means.

In fact, just today Ganjapreneur reported on National Institutes of Health-funded research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System in New York. A $3.8 million grant will examine 250 adults, half with HIV and half without. All will be under a microscope for a year and a half, with required drug and urine samples, about their illicit and prescribed opioid use. All are both receiving prescription opioids and also are registered with the state’s cannabis program.

Opioid overdose deaths and painkiller prescriptions have dipped where marijuana is legal.

Yet we know that sometimes even widely held ideas and beliefs don’t go anywhere with those who make decisions or influence them.

Check out my portfolio of paid work regarding matters of public health

Let me say with confidence that I’m certain “Sobriety with Cannabis” is going to become a “thing.” It already has been going on forever and ever. Nobody should be denied the peace from the plant, especially if they have tried more rigid ways to get “sober.” Gosh we need a new word for that anyway.

And I agree…nobody wants to be feel like they need anything. That makes us dependent!

People need love too, yet that’s not called an addiction. Unless you’re Robert Plant.

Find coverage here or on my Facebook page

In all seriousness, sobriety with cannabis will be discussed next week at the National Cannabis Summit in Denver. Whether it’s for my site or a paid client, you can count on coverage from me: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week.

I’ll be covering the summit via web link.

Sessions I’ll be covering include:

Marijuana Legalization and Answers to Our “Drug Problem” presented by Harvard Medical School addiction specialists.

Cannabis Legalization and Public Health (very excited about this one) presented by Hilary Karasz, PIO for King County (Seattle) and Beau Kilmer from RAND Drug Policy Research Center.

What I’ll be looking for: No doubt, there will be a discussion regarding how to measure cannabis impairment among motorists. This discussion needs to happen. Driving stoned is very real. Some people may be able to handle it, but others can’t. You can’t make some people blow and not others.

Check out my portfolio of paid addiction/recovery content

I also hope there will be some sort of discussion about cannabis as an “exit” drug. There are too many people coming forward now with stories like mine – sobriety through cannabis – for this to continue to be ignored. There has, however, been an increasingly warm response to the idea of opioid addiction being a qualifying condition for cannabis use. In fact, no place is it warmer than King County.

The State of the Science of Cannabis. The science nut I am, this is another one I am especially excited about. None other than Susan Weiss, director of the Division of Extramural Research at National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal agency, will be presenting.

What I’ll be looking for: Anything and everything regarding moving us forward on proof of what we already know: Marijuana helps people get better.

Let’s Stop Asking, “Should we Legalize Cannabis?” Presenter will be Andrew Freedman, an attorney, co-founder and president of Freedman & Koski.

What I’ll be looking for: Not knowing exactly what Freedman might speak about, the program describes his firm as having “hands-on government experience effective implementing voter-mandated legalized recreational and medical marijuana while protecting public health.

Thanks to National Council for Behavioral Health

The summit is sponsored by the National Council for Behavioral Health. Many thanks to Aaron Cohen for alerting me to this important conference. You can check out their Facebook page and try to watch #Cannabis17 live for yourself. (Update: There were technical difficulties with audio Monday morning but I know they are working to fix it…if video does not appear, try restarting your device…you need a robust Internet connection…my $185-per-month Verizon unlimited business plan would not deliver this morning on any of my devices util I got out of range of my house).

If you don’t see a story here on my website, be sure to look on my David Heitz (@DavidHeitzHealth) Facebook page. I may end up covering some sessions for paid clients instead of my own site, and you will find those stories there.

Please like my Facebook page regardless, if you’re so inclined.

See you next week.

I also write about aging, elder care, elder advocacy and dementia. Check out my portfolio of paid work, which even includes an interview with former U.S. Secretary of Aging Kathy Greenlee on elder abuse.

Fructose Kush: Are wacky leaf names what’s freaking out doctors?

My delight in sampling cannabis strains takes me back to when I first discovered the many flavors of fructose candy at the 7-Eleven on 24th Street Rock Island, now the Gasland with no gas.

A while back, my therapist noted that the biggest problem medical marijuana faces is that mainstream clinicians don’t take it seriously.

And why should they, she pointed out, with all those silly names?

Bio Jesus. Magnificent Mile. Grand Doggy Purps. Strawberry Cough.

Normally, I would agree with her assessment. I understand how doctors and people in healthcare think. I see her point.

However, I was offended by the comment. Why? Well, because the vernacular of the cannabis movement is part of its appeal.

How fascinating that these wacky names have stuck for decades despite, until very recently, ever being “branded.”

They stuck because the names were clever and they conveyed important information about the strain.

Take, for example, Grand Doggy Purps. Grand Doggy Purps is akin to Grand Daddy Purple. Grand Daddy Purple is well established through the years as a bedtime strain.

But think about this. Cannabis only recently has been commercialized in the United States. Add this schizophrenic fact into the mix: It’s legally sold and yet it’s a federally illegal substance.

Yes, it’s so screwball that, as a result, it’s the wild, wild west in the cannabis industry right now.

Time to patent my Fructose Kush

So, who owns the names to the cannabis strains? For the most part, nobody.

And it’s very confusing because now there can be two or more strains with the same name, and yet one might be an indica and another a sativa. So, there are strains among strains if you’re only going by the name.

Lawyers already are hanging out shingles for cannabis companies, seeing the dustup that inevitably is upon us in terms of copyrighting strains and their names.

The strain name can be protected by State and Federal Trademark Law,” writes the law firm Hoban & Feola LLC on the website NewCannabisVentures.com. “Those holding or owning special strains of cannabis see value in the strain name. Customers recognize the name and it may be difficult for a third party to distribute the strain without using the name. Trademarks are a way of creating a hurdle for competitors.

“There are challenges to Trademark Protection. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is notorious for rejecting trademarks for marijuana and related products. In order to obtain a federal trademark registration, actual use in interstate commerce is required. The Controlled Substances Act under federal law arguably makes the interstate distribution of marijuana illegal.”

Bio Jesus, my fave, only found in Illinois, Nevada

New strains always are emerging, many of them specially grown to treat certain conditions. Bio Jesus by Cresco, which is my favorite strain, happens to be a new strain. It only is available in Illinois and Nevada, according to Leafly.

I love that it comes with a warning – not for novice users!

So how are new strains like Bio Jesus getting their names?

Well, for now, even “new” strains being born under the regulated, commercialized cannabis industry are being named the way strains always have been named. And hallelujah, as it should be!

Strains generally are named for:

Aroma or appearance: Purple Haze, for its purple trichomes, “haze” for its psychedelic effects; Lavender Kush, for the smell of lavender from its terpenes.

Region: Durban Poison, for a port in a South African city, Durban; Poison, no doubt, for simply being wildly powerful (a daytime sativa).

Their psychedelic or medicinal effect: I can’t help but think Bio Jesus is named for its uplifting effects. When I smoke it all I can do is count my blessings and see the beauty in everything. What better name than Bio Jesus? Check out my review of Bio Jesus.

People: Charlie Sheen, for example, which Leafly describes as “Charlie Sheen is an indica-dominant hybrid, parented by Green CrackOG Kush, and Blue Dream. These lemon-scented buds taste likewise, with a distinct undercurrent of kush. The effects are relaxing and uplifted, with a lengthy, sleepy come-down great for pain relief and insomnia.”

Leafly should have full nomenclature rights

Which brings me to the point of Leafly. Thanks to Leafly, we already have a logical directory of strains. While the names may sound nonsensical to the medical community, they do convey a strain’s properties most of the time. With Leafly, the strains are assigned colors and letters. Charlie Sheen is “Cha” in green on the Leafly “periodic table of the cannabis strains,” as I call it. Strains coded green are hybrids; indicas are purple; sativas are red.

I won’t get into what you can Google yourself on the web, but thanks to modern science (genomic sequencing) cultivators with cash presumably can create a strain, seek a patent (it’s hard to get one, but they have been granted) and call a strain all theirs.

Some big daddy cultivator could come along and copyright the strain Bio Jesus (my favorite!) for example, and then jack up the price to $12,000 a gram!

No wait, that’s the price of a pill for Harvoni, which cures Hepatitis C.

Oh, um…

All aboard the fructose express

Let’s not fool ourselves. Someday we will long for the days when new strains got their names by stoners who plucked the forbidden plant out of the earth and gave it a taste, oblivious to how it will be packaged or who it will be marketed to.

I predict that as reefer madness continues to sweep the nation, someday the dispensary I visit will be located in the Budweiser warehouse next door to it, in fact! Check out my story about my first trip to the dispensary.

For now, and go ahead and laugh, but I feel like it is 1980. Going to the dispensary is like jumping on my Huffy to go to 7-Eleven for some of that pretty high-fructose corn syrup candy. I enjoyed throwing all the colorful candy into a jar and shaking it about. I even liked the sound of it before popping one into my mouth.

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All the pretty packaging was delightful, as is the cannabis packaging!

People try to say cannabis and vape juice are targeted at children because of the childish names. In fact, I think they are targeted to the kid in all of us.

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Ataraxia’s potent, tasty Gold Leaf brand cultivates medical cannabis fit for royalty

There is no doubt in my mind that Ataraxia’s Gold Leaf, hands down, is the finest medical cannabis brand in Illinois.

Gold Leaf isn’t a brand I normally purchase, however. At least it wasn’t before last week.

I have tried some Gold Leaf high-CBD strains including ACDC and White Harmony and haven’t been terribly impressed. Not that it was bad, by any means! Just not bowled over one way or another. Probably because they were CBD strains, let’s face it. Effective isn’t always memorable when it doesn’t get you high. And that’s not always a bad thing!

However, I did buy a gram of Gold Leaf Green Crack a while back and wrote this review. I was impressed and shocked by how you can get so much energy out of marijuana.

I also had tried Grand Doggy Purps recently and found myself taken in by the delicious taste and generally euphoric feeling, which is followed by a nap every time you smoke it. It’s an easy way down from a PTSD trigger, into a nap, and on to moving past it all when you wake up.

So, when the dispensary had a “Gold Leaf Flower Flight” special that included a gram of five different Gold Leaf strains, including Green Crack and Grand Doggy Purps, I couldn’t say no for $70.

I’m so glad I didn’t. If I had, I never would have learned about Magnificent Mile.

Magnificent Mile

From the second I opened the bag, I knew it was going to be incredible stuff. It has a Middle Eastern smell. It actually is subtitled “Iranian Landrace.”

Another intoxicating strain that I ran across in Colorado that I also have purchased here is called Durban Poison. It also has Middle Eastern roots and literally makes my eyes roll up inside my head.

Magnificent Mile takes me even further.

Admittedly, it’s a recreational trip. Holy wow. Loads of profundity, problem-solving ideas, everything you might remember about the first time you smoked pot 30 years ago. That’s Magnificent Mile, LOL!

I definitely could never smoke this in a group unless I was with someone very, very special who was my best friend. I would get way too paranoid.

However, by myself I was laughing so hard I was rolling on the floor. When I would laugh, it literally would pop the joints in my back that had relaxed along with the muscles from the weed.

I seriously am that tense a person. When I smoke weed, my back relaxes enough that when I take a deep breath, my back will pop. It’s alarming to people who hear me do it, but to me it’s instant relief!

I found an extraordinarily heightened sense of smell and sound while smoking Magnificent Mile. When the air conditioning kicked on once I thought a jet plane was flying low over my house.

Again, like the first time you smoked pot. Oh, the stories we all have.

I was in a basement in Laguna Beach, Calif. in 1993 and I saw a head on a door. Yes, like The Cure song. I was lying in bed and I opened my eyes and saw a head on a door. I thought a human being was hanging from a hook on a door.

In fact, it was a hat, on a hook, on a door.

Magnificent Mile actually is an indica, although I found it very stimulating and wildly trippy. THC is 28.75 percent, which is pretty high.

Grand Doggy Purps

As powerful a strain as Magnificent Mile is, Grand Doggy Purps is the same, but different. Just total and complete relaxation, with scrumptious flower that truly makes your mouth water even after that first hit.

The terpene myrcene found in Grand Doggy Purps relaxes the muscles and induces sleep. Again, just what the doctor ordered for me.

G6

G6, also known as “Jet Fuel,” is some stimulating sativa. It has a powerful, unusual, sort of citrusy taste. The bud itself feels as soft as a kitty cat’s fur.

Although G6 motivated me to mow the lawn, the euphoric, energetic high was very smooth and not at all jittery.

Green Crack

It’s just as it sounds. It’s mental alertness, energy, and clarity.

Gelato

Gelato is an indica-dominant hybrid, yet it gives me plenty of energy. Like all the rest of the Gold Leaf cannabis, the taste is out of this world. It gave me a relaxing body high after I was done mowing, which led to a 30-minute cat nap after a refreshing shower.

The Gold Leaf Flower Flight variety pack is a must-buy. Go on, you deserve it!

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Why is the VA punishing veterans who are trying to get off hard drugs?

Photo courtesy Pixabay

I have something stuck in my craw as it pertains to opioids, cannabis, PTSD, booze, and our veterans.

Let’s face it. We have a crisis at hand with service members returning from deployments with PTSD. Why wouldn’t they be coming home with PTSD in today’s world.

If you don’t know what PTSD is, in a nutshell you are pissed off and on edge. All the time. You may think the best way to medicate yourself is by drinking, but you quickly learn that is like throwing gasoline on a fire and makes you even more explosive.

Still, the VA isn’t going to know if you are drinking or not unless you tell them. Also, the VA probably is going to prescribe you benzodiazepines for your PTSD if they feel it cannot be handled with talk therapy or some other means.

Benzodiazepines such as Ativan and Xanax essentially are alcohol in a pill.

I’m sure veterans know the drill. I’m not a veteran, but I have met enough veterans with PTSD through my writing and during my travels earlier this year to know what I describe above is a common scenario.

Now, many veterans who are quick to realize the dangers of the booze decide to self-medicate with marijuana instead. However, since the VA now is drug testing apparently rather regularly, patients are being threatened to have their medications taken away unless they stop smoking pot.

I have talked to wives of service members who are fuming over this. They say the plant is the only thing that calms their husbands down.

I’m sure the same can be said of male spouses of female service members as well.

Of course, the opioid problem affects veterans too, because who other than men and women doing battle in war are going to need opioids more often for painful injuries? That problem runs so deep in the military it’s not even funny.

Veterans expected to meditate withdrawals away

In research published last month in Annals of Internal Medicine, a systematic review of 67 previous studies showed that life gets better for those who taper off opioids.

“Very low-quality evidence suggests that several types of interventions may be effective to reduce or discontinue LTOT and that pain, function, and quality of life may improve with opioid dose reduction,” the authors half-heartedly concluded.

The interventions that might be effective? Things like behavioral modifications, talk therapy and mindfulness.

Mindfulness is great for PTSD, too. It’s how I stayed sober when I wasn’t smoking the plant. But it doesn’t always work. And sometimes triggers can be so severe that some type of medication is warranted to keep from blowing a gasket.

That’s why so many people living with PTSD smoke weed.

It’s not realistic to expect tens of thousands of wounded veterans to just come home from war and taper off their opioids while meditating.

In an accompanying editorial to the Annals research, experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn clinicians that “decisions to discontinue or reduce long-term opioid therapy should be made together with the patient. Clinicians have a responsibility to carefully manage opioid therapy and not abandon patients in chronic pain.”

Meanwhile, research published yesterday showed that cannabis is effective at treating neuropathic pain, even though the cannabis used pales in comparison to what’s commercially available. You can read my blog post here.

It’s one thing to require people to pay large sums of money to get the state-legal medication they need. Both the medical cannabis itself and the certification process is very expensive, at least in Illinois.

It’s another to then punish them beyond the pocketbook by making the transition from one medication to another as dangerous as possible.

Especially after they have served their country.

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BREAKING: Study says cannabis effective at treating nerve pain

Photo courtesy Pixabay

Research published today in Annals of Internal Medicine shows that cannabis is effective in combatting neuropathic pain, the type suffered by people with multiple sclerosis, HIV, diabetes and possibly some forms of fibromyalgia.

It’s a noteworthy conclusion given that cannabis is still scheduled as an illegal, class I controlled substance by the federal government, with “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” to use the DEA’s own words.

Also today, Annals published research about cannabis and PTSD, although it essentially concluded nothing.

Despite the federal law, medical cannabis already is legal in more than half the states in America, with the above-mentioned conditions and chronic pain listed as qualifiers in many of those states.

“Investigators’ conclusion that there exists clinical evidence supportive of the efficacy of cannabis in the mitigation of neuropathic pain is consistent with both prior reviews and with the anecdotal reports of patients, many of whom are seeking a safer alternative to the use of deadly opioids, and it is inconsistent with federal government’s classification of the marijuana plant….” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a statement to DavidHeitz.com.

NORML is a Washington-based marijuana advocacy group.

The research was published as part of a three-article package on cannabis that went live on the medical journal’s site at 5 p.m. Eastern on Monday.

Annals of Internal Medicine is published by the American College of Physicians, a tenet of the mainstream medical establishment. I attended the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting in San Diego in May, as a member of the credentialed news media.

The other articles published today in Annals concluded that there is not enough evidence to know whether cannabis is effective in treating PTSD (but that new information will be coming soon) and advised doctors that “the horse is out of the barn,” regardless.

Research cannabis looks like grass clippings

While the study found only “limited evidence” of cannabis’ efficacy on neuropathic pain, it’s important to understand that the cannabis being used for medical research is incredibly weak and not remotely representative of what’s available on the market to medical cannabis patients.

Because of the arcane federal law that classifies cannabis as being more dangerous than crystal meth or heroin, researchers at academic institutions studying the medicinal effects of cannabis on people must obtain the plant from the federal cannabis garden at the University of Mississippi.

This garden grows remarkably weak strains of weed with THC levels topping out at 8, 10, maybe 13 percent, depending on which reports you want to believe. Most cannabis available in medical dispensaries these days has THC levels of around 20 percent. Some have THC levels as high as 30 percent as far as flower goes and, with concentrates, THC levels can go into the 80 percent range and higher.

The weed out of the Mississippi garden is so vile that one researcher recently alerted the Washington Post. You can read here how PTSD researcher Sue Sisley got some nasty, moldy bud. After determining the mold levels would not be toxic to patients, she decided to use it anyway. It’s not like she has any other choice.

Read the Washington Post story for yourself and get a look at the nasty government “grass clippings” by clicking here.

I asked Armentano if he could fill me on the latest regarding the federal government’s ditch weed garden at the University of Mississippi. He sent me this link.

 To the federal government’s credit, the ditch weed garden is evolving to include high CBD strains. Once upon a time, it grew only one nasty strain instead of five nasty strains.

The link is hilarious. The feds charge researchers $10.96 for a “marijuana cigarette.”

It could be worse. A “placebo cigarette” will set you back $13.94!

“Obviously, these products do not represent the broad scope of actual cannabis-based products that patients are using in the real world — a point that has been raised frequently by critics,” Armentano wrote in an email to me. “You are correct that any cannabis administered as part of a FDA-approved trial must be provided by the University of Mississippi.”

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And yet, I bet when the 5 p.m. news reports the medical research coming out in Annals tonight they aren’t going to explain that the weed used in those studies is nothing like the medical cannabis available to people treating themselves for pain or PTSD.

The garden also completely ignores the science of terpenes, compounds in the plant that vary by strain and have medicinal qualities as well as an aromatic effect. You can learn more about terpenes by clicking here.

 One wonders where the government even gets the seeds to produce the funky cannabis like what they dispense to medical researchers.

The truth is in our stories: Cannabis is saving lives

The Annals pain study actually was a review of research already published. It analyzed 27 chronic pain trials.

Its official conclusion: “Limited evidence suggests that cannabis may alleviate neuropathic pain in some patients, but insufficient evidence exists for other types of chronic pain.”

It then adds the always scary-sounding, “Among general populations, limited evidence suggests that cannabis associated with an increased risk for adverse mental health effects.”

To the researcher’s credit, the flaw in the research that renders much of it null and void in my opinion is listed: “The cannabis formulations studies may not reflect commercially available products.”

We know anecdotally, overwhelmingly so, that millions of Americans are effectively treating their pain with cannabis. Opioid overdose deaths are down in states where medical cannabis is legal. Fewer painkillers are being dispensed.

As I left the dispensary this morning, a woman shared with me how she ended up being hooked on fentanyl after a surgery. Now, with her medical cannabis card, she is off opioids completely.

Just as I am completely off benzodiazepines for my PTSD. You can read about that here.

Last week I wrote this blog post about how cannabis should be used to treat addiction. I have pinned the post to the top of my Facebook page. The conversation is so lively I can’t even keep up with it. The number of new likes to my Facebook page just this week, since I have written that piece, is well in excess of 300.

I also have been inundated with emails of personal stories. Just this week, two veterans receiving VA medical care informed me they have been put on notice for their illicit cannabis use. Both have been told if they “drop” (the VA urine tests veterans) for cannabis again, their medications will be revoked. One is on benzodiazepines for anxiety; the other is on opioids for pain.

This is shocking. Abrupt discontinuation of these highly addictive medications may result in death. And again, medical cannabis is legal in more than half the states.

You can read the VA’s medical marijuana policy here.

Medical establishment’s blessing would expedite cannabis availability

The medical cannabis blessing from the mainstream medical establishment would be an important first step toward getting insurance companies to pay for the treatment. That would make it more widely available.

But the establishment isn’t going to do that without further, more rigorous clinical trials. Expensive trials…where researchers are required to use government grass clippings.

“While more rigorous clinical trials of longer durations are arguably warranted, call for such trials should not overshadow the reality that tens of thousands of patients in the US are presently using therapeutic cannabis to safely and effectively address various hard-to-treat conditions, including chronic pain and post-traumatic stress — which is why well-respected advocacy groups like the American Legion and AMVETS are lobbying in support of greater patient access to marijuana,” Armentano said.

“Further, it must be acknowledged that the longstanding politicization of the cannabis plant, and its ongoing schedule I status, has greatly impeded researchers’ ability to conduct the sort of robust, large-scale, prolonged clinical trials that are typically associated with eventual FDA drug approval. Such trials are typically funded by private pharmaceutical companies seeking market approval, whereas cannabis research must be funded by academic institutions. These institutions possess limited funds and they are not in a position to — nor are they seeking to — attempt to bring the drug to market.”

In the Annals editorial accompanying the research meta-analyses, Dr. Sachin Patel of Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville writes, “Although several well-designed trials are under way to address (treating pain and PTSD with cannabis), to some degree the horse is out of the barn – and unlikely to return. Even if future studies reveal a clear lack of substantial benefit of cannabis for pain or PTSD, legislation is unlikely to remove these conditions from the lists of indications for medical cannabis.”

Any medical cannabis patient with PTSD or chronic pain – and I suspect those two conditions make up most of us in many states, if not nationally – will tell you not only is it effective, it’s highly effective.

The Pharma medications for those conditions – benzodiazepines and opioids — churn out addicts and alcoholics (benzos are booze in a pill) every day. In the midst of a national opioid crisis, why aren’t the feds declaring pot legal as part of a national addiction emergency?

I bet that would solve Trump’s popularity problems quick. An executive order legalizing cannabis!

I’m going to end with a final quote from the Vandy doctor who wrote the editorial. I’ll warn you…it’s insulting. But I’m using it, and I’m ending with it, because it’s so incredibly ridiculous and out of touch with the realities of people suffering from pain and addiction that I hope it gets blasted around social media far and wide.

“As Nugent and colleagues note, patient characteristics associated with clinical response to cannabis products for pain are unknown,” Patel writes. “Another, more controversial explanation may be the complexity of chronic pain, with interrelated behavioral, emotional, and cognitive domains.

“Perhaps cannabis decreases the clinical effect of chronic pain in some way not readily operationalized by traditional pain rating scales. Of course, it’s also possible that cannabis’ effects on perceived pain are simply not robust, and such catch-all diagnoses as pain to justify legal access to cannabis may be overused.”

At the end of the day, the people of this country are only going to tolerate the mainstream medical establishment’s delusional “reefer madness,” to use the words of Berkeley medical researcher Amanda Reiman, for so long.

Grass clippings, folks.

Follow David Heitz on Facebook at @DavidHeitzHealth and on Twitter @DavidHeitz

Hey! Can I try that? The nose knows when it comes to medical cannabis

(Photo courtesy Pixabay)

The other day I posted in my medical cannabis group about exhaling smoke through the nose. I said I noticed that I got much higher that way. Or shall I say, I got a much better dose of the medicine I legally administer.

And that’s what it’s all about – feeling better.

One commenter quickly noted that it makes sense that you would feel some of the therapeutic effects more quickly that way. That’s because the nose contains mucous membranes that quickly absorb smoke, and the smoke contains the terpenes from the plant.

Pretty soon everyone was trying it, LOL, and posting the results online. Everyone agreed…it takes you higher. However, it also burns your nose a bit depending on the terpenes. Some smell like pepper. That’s not so pleasant blowing through your nose.

What are terpenes? Terpenes are those cool little molecular compounds that make the plant smell so darned good. All of the different terpenes convey different medicinal and psychoactive effects.

I learned from a story at ProjectCBD.org how terpenes were “discovered.” A couple of American expatriates formed a company in Holland that studied terpenes and infused marijuana plants with terpenes. They found that marijuana plants with half the THC of other plants became far more potent when infused with terpenes.

While a terpenes lesson is old hat for hardcore stoners and even most medical cannabis patients, all the old ladies following me on social media want to know! By God they are thinking about it for their arthritis.

Follow your nose…it always knows

Terpenes are found throughout nature. They convey an odor to flowers, vegetables and other plants.

Much like aromatherapy, ProjectCBD says “Follow your nose” when choosing which plant to puff. Do you like lavender? Then try lavender kush.

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I LOVE lavender like a cat likes catnip. My dispensary has some lavender kush right now but only in ounces. I can’t spare 300 bones right now so that is on the “next time” list.

Oh, the smells of cannabis terpenes. Lemon, pine, lime…they all do different things.

Plants that smell like pine contain Alpha-pinene, or essential pine oil. This terpene opens up the air passages and make it easier for asthmatics to breathe.

I absolutely love cannabis that smells like pine, and I have not bought any since obtaining my card. I need to do that. It has been many, many years since I ran across that strain.

Limonene, of course, smells like lemon and lime. It has been used on everything from gallstones to mood to heartburn, according to ProjectCBD, and even “has been shown to destroy breast-cancer cells in lab experiments.”

I have two strains of lemon right now – kush and tag. One is for day, one is for night. Both are solid and dependable.

Myrcene is a terpene that essentially puts you to sleep. It’s used for pain, stiff muscles, and insomnia.

All told, there are about 200 different terpenes. One of the joys of legal cannabis is that you know exactly what you’re getting terpene-wise when you spark up.

Terpene tutelage from Dr. Dustin Sulak of Maine

I first learned about terpenes while interviewing Maine osteopath Dr. Dustin Sulak for a Healthline News story. Dr. Sulak explained “the entourage effect” to me.

“Compounds in the plant, called terpenes, that give the flowers their aroma, are responsible for modifying the effects of the cannabinoids,” he said. “So, you can have two different strains, both with 10 percent THC and close to zero percent CBD, and one that smells like fruit might be sedating and a great treatment for insomnia, while the other that smells like pepper might be stimulating.”

As I went on to explain in my Healthline story, “This knowledge of how marijuana works and the effect of terpenes isn’t being put to use and studied, however, because the U.S. government only allows medical researchers to use pot grown at the University of Mississippi.”

Sulak also told me about “the entourage effect” of all of the medicinal properties of cannabis. That includes THC (the psychoactive ingredient most people think of in terms of getting ‘high,’ but in fact, it also prevents children from having seizures), CBD (not psychoactive and getting lots of media attention for its uses in treating people with PTSD and other conditions) and finally, the terpenes.

All plants are different and contain different levels and amounts of all three properties. Regardless of your medical condition, when it comes to choosing cannabis, there no doubt is a bud for you.

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