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Does Marijuana Kill Cancer Cells? Animal Studies Look Promising

Marijuana has been used as medicine among humans for millennia. From treating cramping, earaches, malaria and everything in between, marijuana has had a long-term influence on the medical world. While there may have been no scientific basis for using marijuana back then, research about the cannabis plant's medicinal properties has become more and more common.

With the recent medical marijuana movement, marijuana is finally getting exposure as a reliable alternative medicine. Though marijuana was made illegal in 1947, several movements pushed against the statutes, arguing the medical benefits of consumption. Marijuana was then placed on the Controlled Substances act of 1970. It was labeled a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it had high probability of abuse and no medical use.

Despite this, several researchers began conducting experiments to see if marijuana really did have medical qualities. Some studies found that marijuana helps glaucoma, and other inflammatory diseases. Most notably, researchers found that when marijuana was given to patients undergoing chemotherapy, undesirable side effects decreased. Patients felt less nauseous, and were able to eat again. While these studies may be over 50 years old, they paved the way for more current research and hypothesis.

Today, many researchers are focused on new ways marijuana can be utilized in the medical field. One newer notion is the possibility of cannabis killing cancer cells, something that has only just begun being researched on. Though studies may be limited, we can evaluate how marijuana affects the body and if it really could kill cancer cells.

Current Knowledge

medical marijuana coming out of a pill bottle begging the question does marijuana kill cancer cells

As we all know, medical marijuana has become legal in 32 states within the last decade. Though it is still not federally legal, these states recognize the medical benefits that marijuana can have on certain conditions. Common qualifying conditions for medical marijuana include epilepsy, HIV and multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

Though marijuana may affect conditions in different ways, the effects are a result of the cannabinoids. The human body holds an endocannabinoid system, which serves as a regulating mechanism throughout the body. Cells throughout the body hold cannabinoid receptors, which make us feel high when they’re activated by THC. However, the receptors (commonly known as CB1 and CB2) also help maintain other processes throughout the body, like sleep, mood, appetite and pain. Just think of it as another system our bodies have in place to ensure everything functions properly on the cellular level.

By understanding how compounds in marijuana interact with a person's endocannabinoid system, we can hypothesize how the plant can treat other conditions or diseases. Research has already found that several different cannabinoids can regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation or work as sleep aids. While research is new, these studies show promising results for the use of cannabinoids.

Does Marijuana Kill Cancer?

person lighting a marijuana joint

While we know that marijuana helps with a variety of conditions, do we know if marijuana can kill cancer cells? While some studies point to yes more than no, it’s important to break down the research to really understand the results. The National Institute of Cancer (NCI) even recognizes marijuana research may point to a breakthrough for treating cancer and tumors. Delving into the current research is important to understand just how effective marijuana can be in killing cancer.

Some of the first research on marijuana and cancer was conducted by Dr. Christine Sanchez. She focused her work on the antitumoral properties of cannabinoids in breast cancer and other cancer cells. In one trial, Sanchez discovered that when a brain tumor cell interacted with cannabinoids, the cancer cells were killed. They then also used breast cancer cells from animals, and found the same results. This was the first step in discovering marijuana's power against cancer cells.

In a study from 2013, researchers sought to explore the activity of six different cannabinoids with normal cells as well as a combination with leukemia cells. They found that a several few cannabinoids "resulted in dramatic reductions in cell viability," meaning it killed off the leukemia cells. Researchers have stated that the results prove potent anti-cancer ability, and the cannabinoids can target and switch off the pathways cancer can use to grow.

Overall, these two studies suggest that certain cannabinoids really can kill cancer. The NCI also reviewed 34 studies of cannabinoids and glioma tumor models. After review, all but one of those studies showed that cannabinoids can kill cancer cells without harming other normal cells in the body. Though these studies were less specific and not conducted on living creatures, the results are promising.

Cannabinoid Effects on Different Cancers

While the previously mentioned studies were more general, several more studies have been focused on specific types of cancer and their interactions with marijuana. Though cannabinoids can have an effect on a variety of cancers, the ones discussed explain the common basis for reducing tumors.

Breast Cancer

young cannabis plants in pots

Many researchers have chosen to focus on breast cancer cells in hopes that cannabis would diminish the tumors. Breast cancer also happens to be the second leading cause of death in women, and is responsible for around 30% of new cancer diagnoses each year. Finding a cure for tumor growth would be a tremendous step in saving lives. A study conducted in 2018 evaluated the cancer cells of triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive type. By creating a combined treatment of CB2 receptors and a translocator protein, the triple negative cancer cells were inhibited and failed to grow.

In another study from 2009, researchers found that CB1 and CB2 receptors helped slow tumor growth of breast cancer. These receptors have such a strong influence because they are found in 72% of breast tumor tissue. Cannabinoids can also mitigate tumor spreading; this happens by inhibiting key signaling targets that cancer cells typically use to grow.

There are a number of other studies detailing more proteins and receptors in breast cancer that can be influenced by cannabinoids. Though these studies are limited, they have solid evidence that treatment or combined treatments involving cannabis can thwart the growth of cancer cells.

Prostate Cancer

cannabis flower in a pill container with other pills, showing that marijuana could help kill cancer cells

Prostate cancer is another cancer that is all too commonly diagnosed. Though many treatments involve castration to prevent spreading, research has turned to cannabis as an alternative option. A 2015 study focused on not only cell line treatment, but also the signaling pathways that are involved. Results showed that treatments with cannabinoids produced a cell growth inhibitory effect for all prostate cancer cultures. This was traced back to the activation of the CB1 receptors. By using cannabinoids, an increase in dead cells and cell viability among the cancer cells was found. The study concludes that endocannabinoids might be an alternative option to those who to not respond to common therapies.

Liver Cancer

human body image highlighting the liver

Hepatocellular carcinoma is a cancer that begins in the liver and is the third leading cause of cancer-related death around the world. The survival rate is low, and when the tumors are advanced there are few treatment options. In 2011, researchers sought an alternative way to fight these tumors. They found that cannabinoids reduced the viability of two different cell lines in hepatocellular carcinoma. Tumor growth was also inhibited, as well as a reduction in swelling. These antitumor effects are yet another step towards using marijuana to kill cancer cells.

Skin Cancer

patient being examined for skin cancer, which could help us find out does marijuana kill cancer cells

Melanoma is currently the most dangerous and deadliest form of skin cancer. Currently, prevention and early detection are the best treatments, though the latter requires finding the cancer early on. In this study from 2006, researchers found that melanoma cell lines have CB1 and CB2 receptors. When these receptors were activated, melanoma cells in mice decreased in growth and amount and increased cell death.

Like these other studies, CB1 and CB2 play a large part in reducing tumors. These receptors can be activated by certain compounds in marijuana, and they are found in numerous cell lines throughout the body. Since the cannabinoid receptors are so common, marijuana may easily be used to treat a variety of cancers.

Cannabis with Chemotherapy

patient undergoing chemotherapy that could be helped even more with the addition of CBD

Chemotherapy is a widely used treatment for cancer. Though many of these studies are aiming to find an alternative treatment with marijuana, chemotherapy is still known to be the most effective treatment. But what if something could be used to make chemotherapy even more effective?

A recent laboratory study has also found evidence that CBD, a component in cannabis, could help chemotherapy be more effective. When conducted with human glioma cells (glioma is a tumor often found in the brain), CBD was more effective at killing cancer cells without harming normal cells in the body. In another study, mice with pancreatic cancer cells were given CBD along with chemotherapy. They found that the cancer cells were inhibited, and survival rates of the mice tripled. Both of these studies are important for anyone undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Though there were no human trials, CBD can be used for a variety of purposes. By finding that a combined treatment with CBD has the potential to be more effective for the patient.

Limits of Marijuana Research

researcher examining cannabis helping to answer the question "does marijuana kill cancer cells

So, does marijuana kill cancer? While the studies point to yes, we can't quite jump to that conclusion. The main problem with these studies is that none of them have been conducted on people. This is due to several factors, all leading back to marijuana still being classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

The first issue is that since marijuana is federally illegal, researchers have a difficult time obtaining a way to even get marijuana to use for testing. Right now, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is responsible for overseeing marijuana for research. They establish production quotas and give out licenses, but they have only issued one license at this time. The sole license went to the University of Mississippi, which has a contract with the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Since they are the only place in the country with marijuana grown for research, the limited supply can hinder those studies. If a researcher seeks cannabis for research, they must apply through the NIDA drug supply program.

The other issue is that with marijuana being a Schedule 1 substance, studying the effects on humans is difficult to get approval for. Currently, a study must obtain both a DEA registration and demonstrate scientific validity. This will then be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, where they will ensure the safety and rights of the subjects, as well as assess if the study will have data that could meet the statutory standards for drug market approval.

Because of the roadblocks set up by the government, there is little that researchers can do to try and study cannabinoids and cancer in human subjects. While petri dish and rodent experiments are promising, they likely do not entirely compare to the makeup of humans. Until marijuana is removed from a Schedule 1 substance, human trials will likely be far and few between.

The Future of Marijuana and Cancer

researcher examining specimens, cancer research will involve marijuana in the future

While the marijuana’s place in the medical world is continually evolving, there is much to be done to ensure we find all of the benefits the plant can offer. While advocates have pushed for marijuana reform for years, the federal government needs to step up and at least allow more researchers to study it. If we dive deeper into the ways that marijuana kills cancer cells, we may find more significant and effective treatments for those diagnosed with a variety of cancers.

The good news is that we’re heading in the right direction. The DEA recently announced that they will allow new growers to register with their program in order to grow more marijuana for research. If more marijuana is grown, researchers will likely have an easier time attaining the drug for trials. Additionally, more states have legalized weed as each year passes. While 33 states have medical marijuana, 10 also have legalized recreational weed as well. If states enact more relaxed laws regarding marijuana, the government may soon follow.

All in all, the current research shows a potential for marijuana to kill cancer cells. Until we legalize marijuana on a federal level, studies will remain limited within the field. If more marijuana is grown for research, and more people are approved for human trials, we may just find out the answer. But in the meantime, we must continue to push for researchers to have more authority in the field. If cannabinoids can help kill cancer cells, we should be pursuing every avenue until science can support the previous research.

An Inside Look at Cannarado Genetics

Marijuana genetics is what brings the entire cannabis industry to life. Without quality genetics, there is practically no industry. The backend of the marijuana market is not a new sector. Cannabis genetics has been a focal point for marijuana enthusiasts since the beginning of time. The old-school strains like Pure Kush, OG Kush, and Chemdawg are what set a precedent for higher-echelon genetics. Fast forward to the market today, and it is tough to keep up with all the different strains available. That said, we now have the pleasure of knowing what breeders produce specific genetics and how their quality stands out amongst the rest. Now, let’s take a look at Cannarado Genetics which happens to be one of the largest cannabis seeds and genetics companies in the state of Colorado!

The Mission of Cannarado Genetics

marijuana plants grown from cannabis seeds growing in a field

Cannarado Genetics has been around since 1998 and is now home to some of the best genetics on the market. It’s no shock Cannarado has maintained a steady reputation among cannabis growers and consumers, considering their genetics tailor to nearly every type of consumer. The core values of Cannarado Genetics are all about providing the industry with the quality genetics it deserves. Considering Cannarado has been a leading genetics company since the start, they know what they’re doing.

Cannarado Genetics is dedicated to bringing the best strains to the public in seed form. With our emphasis on quality we are sure everyone will find some keepers in every pack!”

Cannarado Genetics may be local to Colorado, but their genetics come from around the globe. Even the very first strain to come from Cannarado Genetics began with a seed from Amsterdam. It was a classic cross between Pot of Gold and Shiva Shanti. With their first cross on the books, Cannarado turned to the world and began crafting a unique collection of premium cannabis genetics.

Cannarado Cannabis Seeds

a pile of cannabis seeds like ones you can buy from cannarado genetics

Cannarado Genetics is renowned in the industry for their stellar collection of strains. Granted, being in the midst of the massive Colorado market sure does help with brand awareness and consumer engagement! Nevertheless, Cannarado Genetics has their processes down, and it shows in the consistent quality of its strains. When sifting through Cannarado Seed strains, they’re broken down into three different genetic lineups: Grape Pie, Frozen Margy, and Lemon Tree. In each of these strain’s collections, they are the sole father plant for every cross in that lineup.

Grape Pie Strain Collection ? Grape Pie x GSC Forum x Tahoe OG bx

close up of trichomes on marijuana plant

The Grape Pie collection is all about flavor and potency. It’s the perfect collection of grape-like strains with a burst of terpenes in every puff. The Grape Pie father is rather noticeable in nearly every cross in the collection. It averages around a nine-week turnaround time and produces moderately strong yields.

  • Blue Grapes
  • Blueberry Shortcake
  • Butterscotch Pie
  • Charcuterie
  • Chocolate Pie
  • Grape Dosi v2
  • Grape Drop
  • Grape Gelee
  • Grape Margy
  • Grape Nana
  • Grape Willy
  • Lemon Slushee

*All of these seeds are regular cannabis seeds. There are ten seeds to a pack, and each package is $100.

Frozen Margy Strain Collection ? Sour Dubble x Chemdog D x OG

close-up of cannabis seeds

The Frozen Margy collection is full of premium cannabis strains. The original cross of Frozen Margy alone is unique. It’s best known for its distinct flavor and aroma which tend to be lime-like with a berry undertone. The average turnaround time on this collection is about 8 to 9 weeks long. It has a slightly better yield than the Grape Pie collection and tends to produce buds with larger trichome heads than other strains.

  • Candy Margy
  • Durban Margy
  • Gelato Margy
  • Goji Margy
  • House Margy
  • Lemon Margy
  • Margy Dog
  • Margalope
  • Maragritos
  • One Night Stand
  • Roasted Garlic Margy
  • Skunky Margy

*All of these seeds are regular cannabis seeds. There are ten seeds to a pack, and each package is $100.

Lemon Tree Strain Collection ? Lemon Skunk x Sour Diesel

close up of sour diesel strain used by cannarado genetics

Lemon Tree is a stellar hybrid with already classic genetics. Cannarado Genetics took its stellar father strain and made a unique collection of intense lemon strains. Any consumer who desires a citrus flavor profile will adore the Lemon Tree collection. It also has a turnaround time of about nine weeks and tends to be the highest yielding strain of these three collections.

  • Black Lemon Cake
  • Dirty Lemon
  • Goji Tree
  • Lemon D
  • Lemon Soul
  • Lemonessence
  • PeanutButter Tree
  • Scampi
  • Topanga Lemon
  • Wine Bush

*All of these seeds are feminized. Each pack contains six seeds and goes for $80/pack.

Where to Find Cannarado Genetics

beautiful mountain shot in colroado

Any consumer who has come across Cannarado Genetics is likely a big fan. Granted, it’s not always easy to find their seeds outside of their retail website. You’re most likely to see their genetics in the state of Colorado, but their seeds are available to purchase nationwide. For anyone looking to scoop up some cannabis seeds for their home grows, start searching their website first. It’s also a good idea to check out online seed vendors like Seeds Here Now or with local seed shops!

Check out other marijuana breeders and genetics, here!

What Are the Benefits of Medical Marijuana for Parkinson’s?

Humans have used cannabis in medical applications for thousands of years. All the way up to prohibition in 1937, the plant was used in a wide array of tinctures, creams, and other medicinal products. Today, we know that cannabis has beneficial effects for a multitude of conditions, including certain degenerative diseases. The benefits of medical marijuana for Parkinson's disease are still being explored, but we do know a fair amount about how cannabis helps patients cope with this difficult condition.

What Is Parkinson's Disease?

hand holding other hand to try to stop tremors caused by parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the nervous system, which primarily disrupts movement and motor skills. The disease is progressive, meaning it worsens over time. Parkinson's disease also has no cure, making symptom management paramount. We currently do not know what causes Parkinson's disease, but there may be hereditary factors involved. Key risk factors for Parkinson’s include age and sex; Parkinson's usually begins to develop in late middle age, and affects more men than women.

Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

human brain on white background

The main symptom of Parkinson’s condition is tremors. People with Parkinson's disease generally have shaky heads and hands, which are the most recognizable signs. The tremors worsen over time, making coordination-based tasks especially difficult. Stiffness is another hallmark of the disease, along with gradually slowing movement. 

The warning signs of Parkinson's disease are quite subtle. Lack of facial expression is one effect, as is difficulty speaking. Sufferers usually find their speech becomes quieter, and slightly slurred. Bradykinesia (slowing of movement) makes daily tasks a challenge. Painfully rigid muscles often restrict motion, and result in deteriorated posture. Many of these symptoms manifest due to a depletion of dopamine in the brain.

Treatments for Parkinson's Disease

medications in a pile showing that medications are used but there might be benefits of medical marijuana for parkinson's disease

Current treatments for this condition are non-standardized and vary from patient to patient. No treatment can reverse the damage done by the disease, but prescription medications can help ease symptoms. The main medications prescribed for Parkinson's disease are: Levodopa, MAO inhibitors, and anticholinergic (which blocks a particular neurotransmitter in the nervous system). These medications generally boost dopamine production, or replicate the function of dopamine. The desired results are reduction in tremors and rigidity, and the improvement of coordination.

In extremely severe cases where Levodopa has resulted in improvements, surgical intervention may be recommended. This can come in the form of deep brain stimulation, wherein a wire is placed in a part of the brain governing movement, and connected to a pacemaker-like device in the chest. The other option is inserting a tube into the intestine, where it steadily releases a form of the medication Duopa. These surgeries are extremely invasive, and only used as a last resort.

Parkinson's and Cannabis

cannabis oil tinctures outside with cannabis leaves around, cbd oil could be one of the benefits of medical marijuana for parkinson's disease

The available research on the benefits of medical marijuana for Parkinson's disease is fairly slim compared to the robust body of research on other conditions. The results of these studies generally conflict, with some concluding cannabis is beneficial for Parkinson's, and others concluding that more research is necessary. However, no study has flat-out stated that cannabis is detrimental for people with this condition, and plenty of anecdotal evidence shows it improves quality of life. To back that up, here are three of the most notable studies on the CBD in cannabis and Parkinson's disease.

A double-blind study followed 21 people with Parkinson's, and gave them CBD capsules totaling either 75 mg or 300 mg per day. The study was designed to determine whether CBD would improve motor symptoms in the patients, and followed a randomized, placebo-controlled structure. This study found no meaningful decrease in motor symptoms, but patients that received the CBD reported higher quality of life.

One symptom of Parkinson's is REM sleep behavior disorder, in which people act out dreams by thrashing about. An open-label study, in which both participants and researchers knew the patients were getting CBD, showed marked improvements in the disorder.

The most positive study was also open-label, and involved the consumption of smoked cannabis. This study found smoking marijuana did improve motor symptoms, by decreasing tremors and reducing slowness.

The theme in all three studies is small sample size, which makes them less scientifically viable. However, the studies provide ample support for the idea that cannabis does help people with Parkinson's disease live better lives. Even if the benefits of medical marijuana for Parkinson's disease don't include motor symptom improvement for everyone, it's clear that many of the peripheral symptoms are improved.

The Best Cannabis Strains for Parkinson's Disease

cannabis buds on top of each other on a table showing strains that might show benefits of medical marijuana for parkinson's disease

As the above studies point out, CBD is the main point of interest in studying the benefits of medical marijuana for Parkinson's disease. Given that most patients with this condition would need to medicate continuously, CBD-rich strains are the best way to go. Harlequin and ACDC are the most common CBD-rich strains, and can be found in nearly every state with a medical marijuana program. Parkinson's disease is a qualifying condition in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and West Virginia.          

Can You Be Allergic to Marijuana?

hands touching marijuana plant, which may cause some to wonder can you be allergic to marijuana

Reports of cannabis allergies are rising. Earlier this month, researchers even found the allergy in a child whose parents smoked pot at home. But the sharp uptick in reported allergies doesn't necessarily mean that more people are becoming allergic. Allergy sufferers may simply be more forthright with their doctors about their marijuana habits, as more states legalize pot. 

If you're rolling your eyes, and thinking this "allergy" is just another piece of anti-pot propaganda, you can stop that right now. Cannabis allergies are absolutely real. Every time I touch my pot plants, I break out in hives. And I'm not alone. 

The hives, itchiness, and sneezing don't prevent me from growing marijuana, because sneezing and feeling itchy seems pretty minor, compared to the profound ways pot has improved my life. But other people may not be so lucky. Other symptoms associated with cannabis allergies include rhinitis (inflammation in your nostrils), conjunctivitis (pink eye), and asthma.  

A Wide Range of Symptoms

woman blowing her nose because she is congested, which is a symptom of cannabis allergiesAccording to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), your symptoms depend on how you were exposed. If you touch the plant, you can develop rashes, hives, or swelling. If you inhale cannabis allergens, you may develop a runny nose, sneezing, itching, and swollen, watery eyes. 

There are even reports of anaphylaxis, which, if it leads to anaphylactic shock, can be fatal. However, this may only be linked to hempseed ingestion, not to marijuana itself. Hempseed is a common ingredient found in grocery stores across the country. 

So to put things in perspective, if you're a highly allergic person, you're probably safer in a dispensary than you are in a grocery store.

Can You Be Allergic to Marijuana?

lots of marijuana plants in indoor cannabis grow

Cannabis allergies are still poorly understood, and more research is needed. New studies are underway, and scientists have already identified several ways cannabis may be an allergen. In the western U.S., for example, the AAAAI reports that cannabis pollen may be an airborne allergen, similar to ragweed. For people who are vulnerable to airborne allergens, it can cause respiratory symptoms.

But this doesn't really explain the allergies seen in indoor cannabis grows, where the plants are almost exclusively female. Female cannabis plants don't normally produce pollen. (Female cannabis plants are the ones that produce buds, the part of the plant we recognize as "pot.") The only time female plants produce pollen is when they're stressed, when they become hermaphroditic, in a last-ditch effort to pollinate themselves. (This is what growers refer to as "herming out.") This results in seeds in your weed, so it's highly undesirable – and, for most growers, uncommon. So, while pollen may be a factor in some cannabis allergies, it doesn't explain the allergies reported in cannabis grow facilities.

This has led some people to wonder whether cannabis allergies are really a result of cannabis itself, or a reaction to pesticides applied to the plant during its life cycle. For example, some individuals are allergic to neem oil, an organic pesticide commonly applied to marijuana plants. People may also be allergic to the more toxic pesticides used in some commercial grow facilities. 

But some folks are definitely allergic to cannabis itself. (I grow my plants with nothing but sunshine and water, and I can't even remove a few leaves without hives spreading all over my arms.)  

Allergic reactions are commonly reported among marijuana trimmers. Most professional trimmers wear long sleeves and gloves to prevent skin reactions.   

What Causes Cannabis Allergies?  

hands trimming marijuana, which can cause cannabis allergies in some people

Evidence suggests that some people may develop their cannabis allergies only after prolonged exposure. 

Anecdotally, this appears to be true. Years ago, I trimmed happily in a variety of cannabis grows. I had no allergic reactions. I also worked in a dispensary, back when that involved a lot more contact with cannabis. (In the early days, medical marijuana was never pre-packaged; we weighed out each individual purchase. We also rolled joints by the thousands, and sold plants.) I've also toured licensed grow facilities all over Colorado. Hundreds of them, in fact. (I was Colorado's first state-approved wholesale weed broker, so I transported pounds in my Subaru nearly every day for several years.)  

You could say I've had a bit of exposure. A couple years ago, my allergy appeared.  

This is not uncommon for adult-onset allergies. Many adults are startled to discover they're suddenly allergic to a favorite food, like nuts or shellfish.  

Researchers have found that most adult-onset allergies stem from what they call "cross-reactivity." In other words, my body may be recognizing marijuana as a relative of something else – something to which my body was allergic already.  

And cannabis is apparently very cross-reactive. (This is ironic, because I smoke cannabis to avoid becoming either cross or overly reactive.)  

"There is reported cross-reactivity between marijuana and certain foods," reports the AAAAI. "Cannabis cross-reacting foods that have been reported to cause allergy include tomato, peach and hazelnut." 

Researchers at the Antwerp University Hospital in Belgium have named this the "cannabis?fruit/vegetable syndrome." In 2016, they found cannabis cross-reactivity with tobacco, natural latex, and plant?food?derived alcoholic beverages.  

Children Can Experience the Allergy Too

marijuana joint leaving lots of smoke that can cause cannabis allergies

Earlier this month, researchers at the conference of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reported the first known case of cannabis allergy in a child. The six-year old boy had poorly controlled asthma. His adult family members, who often smoked marijuana at home, weren't exactly helping.  

When they stopped smoking pot in the house, his asthma improved dramatically. Skin prick tests and blood tests confirmed that the boy was allergic to cannabis. Further tests indicated that cannabis allergies may have a genetic component: His grandmother, who sometimes broke out in hives after smoking pot, also tested positive for a cannabis allergy.  

(Reading this, I recall that my mom, who's never smoked pot, became allergic to peaches, after spending her childhood eating lots of peaches. And peaches are cross-reactive with marijuana, according to the Belgian scientists. I must have inherited her gene for adult-onset cross-reactive plant allergies.) 

These recent findings are important, because it's another huge reason to avoid smoking around kids.

"Children exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke can become allergic to cannabis," said the report's lead author, an Allergy and Immunology Fellow at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado. "[This] in turn may significantly worsen their asthma or allergy symptoms." 

When any child has uncontrolled asthma, doctors should consider cannabis allergies as a possible cause, the doctor told Reuters. 

More research is definitely needed. But it's clear you shouldn't smoke pot around kids, especially if they have other allergies or asthma. 

Possible Treatment Options for Cannabis Allergies

chocolate marijuana edible cookies

No treatments have been found. In the grand scheme of medical research, this probably isn't a huge priority. 

"In the absence of a cure," the Belgian researchers concluded, "treatment comprises absolute avoidance."

If that seems unacceptable, you could experiment with some solutions. (Although, if you're severely allergic to cannabis, you should probably see a doctor. And if you experience anaphylactic shock for any reason, you should seek emergency room treatment immediately.)  

If you're allergic to touching marijuana, you could try eating cannabis-infused food. Because while some people are definitely allergic to marijuana, nobody appears to be allergic to being stoned. So, edibles could be a great solution.

If your symptoms involve inflammation (like rhinitis), you could try treating them with cannabidiol (CBD). This non-psychoactive cannabinoid is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. You could try hemp-derived CBD to avoid further aggravating your marijuana allergy. 

Maybe I'll give that a try, next time my cannabis allergy flares up. Luckily, I'm only extremely allergic to fresh plant matter, not dried and cured marijuana. (My allergy is basically a great excuse to ask my husband to trim our whole harvest every fall.) My allergies may get worse, as I've learned from researching this article. And I may suddenly become allergic to other things. In the meantime, I'm going to smoke pot, and eat a lot of peaches.  

Why Would You Buy a Marijuana-Infused Candle?

lit marijuana-infused candles

When it comes to the smell of marijuana, people either love it or hate it.

We’ve all been there – we come across the burning weed and someone in the group wonders if there’s a skunk nearby. Others might be able to sniff the level of dankness. Either way, there's usually an opinion involved.

Now, cannabis and smells have teamed up in a new way that’s less likely to scrunch noses. Marijuana candles, fairly new to the scene, are burning their way, lighting up people's homes, lives, and hearts.

What's a Marijuana Candle?

small marijuana candles lit and sitting on a wood table

A marijuana-infused candle is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a candle that has been flavored to smell like cannabis.

They are made from cannabis essential oil, combining distilled oil with terpenes for an overall marijuana scent and feel.

When you hear about a weed candle, it makes sense to think that sniffing it would get you high. That is what happens when you burn just about every other form of the plant, right? In this case, it is important to note that cannabis essential oil, and marijuana candles, do not get anyone high.

These candles are just flavored to smell like weed, and to emit some of the healing properties. Cannabis essential oil is distilled from the hemp strain of the cannabis plant, which does not contain any THC. There are no mind-altering components when you put a light to this wick. 

In some cases, the candles can even be lit during a smoke session to enhance the overall effect of the marijuana. If a candle was made with the terpene myrcene, for example, it will help for the effects of the THC to take effect faster and allow your body to absorb it in greater quantities.

Aromatherapy: Sniff for Good Health

container of aromathearpy lavender oil

When you break down aromatherapy, the ancient art is pretty straightforward: it involves healing (therapy) through our sense of smell (aroma).

Aromatherapy uses the natural essential oils and materials within a plant to boost the mood of the person taking the whiff. It connects the smeller to the feel-good properties of the plant, which are used to enhance overall wellbeing.

Some see aromatherapy as a complementary therapy, meaning that it's seen as something to do in addition to more standard or conventional types of therapies or medicines. Sometimes essential oils or blends are used through topical application (like through a massage), water immersion, or inhalation, like with a candle.

While there is no concrete medical evidence that aromatherapy can necessarily cure or heal any ailments or diseases, essential oils have been known to offer comfort and boost the mind and body in different ways. They tend to enhance or help. Many scientists suggest that healing qualities lie somewhere in between a placebo or entourage effect and a conventional anti-emetic drug.

Different plant-oils have various uses and benefits, including marijuana.

Cannabis Essential Oil

cannabis essential oil with a pot leaf sticking out

In case you've somehow missed the throngs of at-home marketers selling their favorite line of at-home diffused goods, essential oils are all the rage right now.

Lavender is in high demand. So is peppermint, lemon, rose, orange, jasmine, tea tree, pepperwood. Name just about any plant, and it has a corresponding oil. And that oil can be made into a candle. You can bet cannabis is included in that list.

Cannabis essential oil, while still verging on taboo and less likely to pop up on that multilevel marketing biz's website, is a useful and widely beneficial resource. It's known to promote a balance between the mind and the body, by releasing stress; the spirit is lifted while the body is relaxed. Because of this, cannabis essential oil makes a fine candle. These marijuana-infused candles transform any space into a vibrant environment, while simultaneously stimulating the senses.

Some of the major terpenes found in cannabis essential oil are myrcene, limonene, and linalool. Different strains will have dominant terpenes with contingent effects. For example, strains high in limonene will smell citrusy (like a lemon, as you might've guessed), and will likely dissolve any bad mood and will decrease anxiety. Strains with high linalool content will produce an oil that is sweet and sugary, which has a mild sedative effect. And myrcene, as previously mentioned, is pretty musky and earthy, and can have a full-force sedative effect for a natural sleep.

Where Can You Find Marijuana Candles?

marijuana bud and topicals for marijuana candles

Marijuana-infused candles are popping up all over the place.

Kushed Candles is a popular brand of marijuana candles. Their website boasts a natural and organic candle, made from 100 percent pure soy way and pure hemp seed oil, non-toxic fragrance oils, pure cotton wicks, and a slow, 50-plus hours burn. They're made in Colorado and are infused with the terpenes that give cannabis oil its signature scent and enhancements.

Etsy has a fair share of weed candles, easily available at the notice of a digital click. This is also an excellent chance to support a small business and fellow cannabis enthusiast, in addition to being super convenient.

If you're feeling extra crafty and inspired, you can even make your own marijuana-infused candles. This recipe uses cannabis coconut oil as its main ingredient.

Be sure to look on Leafbuyer to find the best deals on cannabis, or to figure out the perfect cannabis essential oil for marijuana candles, and their terpene-rich effects. Most importantly, light up and embrace the healing power of the weed candle, minus the skunky smell.

How to Find the Right Marijuana Edible Dosage

Chances are, if you have ever eaten marijuana edibles, you have experienced the near crippling existential anxiety that comes from taking too much. At the very least, we have all heard of the two cardinal mistakes people make when it comes to marijuana edibles dosage – taking too high of a dose and not waiting long enough for the edible to kick in before taking more. In fact, dosage is probably the number one thing you should learn about before eating marijuana edibles!

How To (Actually) Enjoy Marijuana Edibles

chocolate marijuana edible squares, helping you figure out the correct marijuana edible dosage

If you took weed edibles once and though you were dying or poisoned, do not swear them off forever! With the right dosage, you can have a safe and enjoyable marijuana experience. In fact, a lot of people like edibles because they can be cheaper than smoking or vaping, do not aggravate your lungs, and produce effects that last a long time. The key is figuring out what dosage and ratio of CBD to THC works best for you. And trust me, once you get your dosage figured out, it can open up a whole new wonderful world of cannabis consumption.

What To Expect From Your Edibles Depending On The Dose

marijuana brownie edibles

It pretty much goes without saying, but if you are brand new to cannabis, opt for the lowest marijuana edibles dosage possible and increase your dosage gradually. Depending on your metabolism, it could take up to two hours before an edible has any effects.

In you are unsure of your tolerance level, here is a general breakdown of a mild, medium, and strong dose based on how much cannabis you smoke regularly. This information is pulled from Trip Safe, which is a great resource for first-time edible users.

Minimal tolerance or first time users have a mild response at 2-4 mg, medium response at 3-8 mg, and a strong response at 5-15 mg. Those who smoke weed 1-3 times per week will experience a mild response at 3-7 mg, a medium response at 4-12 mg, and a strong response at 10-20 mg. Daily smokers will obviously have a pretty high tolerance level. Mild effects are felt at 4-10 mg, medium effects at 6-15 mg, and strong effects at 15-30 mg.

What Edibles Feel Like At Various Doses

snickerdoodle marijuana edibles with marijuana edible dosage information

  • 1-2.5 mg THC

This is a good level for first-timers and people who want to microdose. It can provide mild pain relief, improve creativity, and enhance focus. At this dosage, you are not likely to feel adverse effects like anxiety or panic attacks, and will only feel a light head and body high.

  • 5-15mg THC

At the level, you start to feel impaired. It is good for people that want to feel altered states but maintain the ability to be social. This dosage will provide stronger pain relief, can alter your perception and coordination, and can make you feel that euphoric sensation THC is known for. This tends to be a good dosage area for people with problems sleeping.

  • 15-30mg THC

At this level, the effects of the THC begin to get more intense with strong levels of euphoria and things like panic attacks in infrequent consumers. It is not recommended to take doses this high unless you already have a high tolerance for cannabis. Experienced consumers can turn to this dosage level for help staying asleep. Medical marijuana patients with extreme pain may require doses this high.

  • 30-50mg THC

The sensation of euphoria will get very heightened at this dose. It also provides much stronger pain relief and symptom relief for people with poor gut absorption – especially those with GI conditions. Expect to have impaired perception and coordination.

  • 50-100mg THC

A super dose! Edibles this high should be eaten with caution. It is really only for experienced THC users and those with diseases like cancer or inflammatory disorders, and those whose doctor recommends it.  Doses this high can increase your heart rate and highly alter your perceptions of reality.

If you are interested, GQ also has a hilarious and informative guide that helps you calculate how many milligrams of cannabis edibles you should take for the desired effect. Combine this with the information above and you are probably out for a pleasant experience.

Exploring THC to CBD Ratios in Edibles

marijuana nugs and cannabis oil

If you accidentally take too much of your edibles, have no fear. There is no lethal dose for cannabis, so even if you feel like you are dying you are going to be just fine. Moderate to intense highs can produce dry mouth, increased heart rate, anxiety, and of course, paranoia. If even small doses of edibles produce these effects, you might consider taking edibles that are 1:1 CBD to THC or higher. Of course, if you do not want any mind altering effects in your edibles, you can also take pure CBD edibles that give you tons of benefits without the THC.

Finding The Right Edible Marijuana Dosage for DIY Baking

chocolate chip marijuana cookies

If you’re making your own edibles at home, the standard ratio for baking is to make an infusion that is 1 part cannabis to 1 part fat. For example, if you are making cannabis- infused coconut oil, you would combine 1 cup of coconut oil with 1g of cannabis. Obviously, when you try to calculate the mg of THC in the end product, it gets a lot trickier. For that reason alone, it is a lot easier to accidentally take too much after eating a homemade edible versus one from your local dispensary.

Can Smoking Weed Help Digestion and Calm Digestive Disorder Symptoms?

woman laying down with bad stomach pain wondering does weed help digestion

Marijuana does it all. Well, pretty much.

Think about it. This plant is like magic: consuming it can get you high, relax or energize you, affect your mood, and soothe your ailments. You can smoke it as flower, eat it in gummy bear edibles, or even vape CBD oil. Have a problem? Simply choose a strain.

In addition to helping everything from inflammation to depression, cannabis also has another not-so-hidden secret. This delightful plant, perhaps to no one's surprise, can also aid the tummy.

Does weed help digestion? Yes, most definitely. Continue reading to find out more.

Digestive Issues

rendering of intestines shown on man while he grabs his stomach

There are several types of digestive issues and disorders that weed can help with. Digestive problems are exactly what they sound like: an issue with the body's digestive system, which reaches from the mouth to the rectum – a far reaching and large system that works both to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste.

On a smaller scale, smoking marijuana can help with a tummy ache or cramps. Too much food? A joint can help to reverse the damage – or at least alleviate some of the discomfort.

On a larger scale, gastrointestinal disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – including the likes of both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis – affect millions of people and can be crippling. Both conditions come with severe side effects and symptoms.

IBS is specifically rooted in the intestines, and brings forward bloating, excessive gassiness, abdomen cramping, stomach pain, and constipation or diarrhea. Without a known cause or cure, patients can only look for products that can help to subside the symptoms and reduce the pain.

IBD, which includes both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, has to do with inflammation in the large and small intestines. The symptoms, which commonly include abdomen pain, diarrhea, weight loss, rectal bleeding, fever, intense blockage, loss of appetite, joint pain, liver problems, and swelling of the eyes, indicate its origins as an autoimmune disorder.

Traditional treatment for digestive problems takes the usual shape: pharmaceutical medicines that come with their own baggage – namely a hefty list of additional side effects and serious risks. Patients with IBS use everything from laxatives to anti-diarrheal medications like Imodium or Bentyl. Crohn's Disease is paired with anti-inflammatory meds, like corticosteroids and Oral 5-aminosalicylates. Marijuana has become a popular and natural alternative that greatly takes the edge off of these with no clear cure in sight.

Weed as a Solution

woman lighting a marijuana joint, which might help answer the question, does weed help digestion

Over the years, research has suggested that marijuana is an effective means of alleviating the symptoms of digestive issues – even the heavier types, like IBS and IBD.

Long story short: the cannabinoids in the plant interact with the endogenous cannabinoid receptors in the body's digestive tract. This connection provides relief in the problem areas: calming spasms, dissipating pain, and knocking out inflammation upon contact.

Good Gut Health

woman eating healthy foods for good guy health

People like to say that good health starts in the gut. And they're right – it does. Weed happens to thrive in the gut, acting less like a drug and more like a supplement that is absorbed and used throughout the body.

When talking about IBS and IBD and issues in the digestive tract and intestines, we're using medical terminology to describe the gut. Inside this area, which also includes the stomach, there is a large ecosystem of microbes. The job of the microbes is to help digest food and complete other biological tasks, like dispose waste. This area is also full of CB1 and CB2 receptors; these are the cannabinoid hot spots that can bind with the receptors in the marijuana, also connecting to the receptors in the brain.

Smoking weed equals good gut health, which leads to good digestion.

In the Medical Community

small amount of weed in a jar that might help with digestion

Smoking weed has helped digestion issues for centuries in eastern medicine, with westernized medicine slowly catching up within the past 100 years. Clinical studies and laboratory research are on the rise, and have led to discoveries like the abundance of cannabinoid receptors located throughout both the small and large intestines. THC has been linked to improving appetite and decreasing nausea within studies, and relax contractions located within the intestinal tract.

As it turns out, weed and digestive issues seem to be a natural pairing, and is widely recognized as an effective method of treatment. The Institute of Medicine has credited marijuana's anti-emetic and analgesic properties. They wrote, "For patients who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication."

Cannabis also makes an appealing case for itself since it can address a wide range of symptoms and issues in a single broad stroke, with minimal side effects of its own. It's considered low risk.

The research has led to some promising results regarding the endocannabinoid connection between weed and our bodies. According to Americans for Safe Access, "Research has also shown that in the case of intestinal inflammation, the body will increase the number of cannabinoid receptors in the area in an attempt to regulate the inflammation by processing more cannabinoids."

Best Weed Strains to Help with Digestion

weed in a jar falling out on table

Now that we have answered the question, "does weed help digestion?" we can move onto the next important item on the agenda: which strains work best? Smoked, eaten, or applied as a topical, each of these strains will help to kick digestion issues down the gutter.

Strain: Chemo

Named for its main purpose, Chemo was created purely to counteract the adverse effects of chemotherapy. This makes it the top strain for digestive issues like nausea, loss of appetite, or cramping in the stomach. It is intensely potent and will lead to an indica slumber, but Chemo sure is an effective gut helper.

Strain: Trash

Also known as "Trash Kush," Trash is an indica-dominant hybrid. This strain is meant to boost appetite – perfect for people who suffer with anxiety around eating – and comes with a euphoric head rush and sensation of arousal. At a 19 percent THC potency, Trash is quite strong.

Strain: White Cheese

White Cheese is a 50/50 hybrid, crossed between Afghani, Cheese, and Super Skunk strains. It has both THC and CBD, which leaves patients with a reduced high and leads to a deep sleep. Its ability to ease digestive tract pain is what makes White Cheese a go-to for anyone experiencing unease or discomfort in the gut.

Strain: Hustler Kush

With a reputation as a lethargic strain, Hustler Kush is an indica-dominant strain that is potent, efficient, and fast-acting. The effects, which include anti-inflammatory properties, last for hours; that's what makes Hustler Kush ideal for digestion help.

Strain: Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies

This hybrid is a powerhouse strain that can "knock any uncomfortable indigestion out solid," and comes with a sleepy aftertaste. It's minty and delicious, and packs a large (comforting) punch to the intestines.

Strain: Bay Dream

A mix of Blue Dream and Bay 11 creates Bay Dream, a sativa-dominant strain that works to settle the stomach. Instead of putting patients to sleep, Bay Dream will first ease and soothe the tummy, and then also give a burst of euphoria. It is also known to boost creative energies as well.

For more information on strains, deals, and the medicinal qualities of marijuana, head to Leafbuyer. And remember, when pondering, “does weed help digestion?” know that yes, weed can in fact help with digestion.

How Do You Identify and Care for Male vs Female Marijuana Plants?

The cannabis plant is one of the heartiest and easiest plants to grow, and it can be found growing wild in every state in the union. Even though it grows naturally, there’s still careful attention paid to each cannabis plant when it’s cultivated, either for resin-filled flower, or CBD rich seeds.

Generally, only cannabis breeders and hemp farmers are interested in growing marijuana with seeded buds, which requires a female marijuana plant to be fertilized by male marijuana plant's pollen.  Anyone growing cannabis strains for THC content will want to pick out any male marijuana plants, so that the flowers on the female plants grow large and seedless.

If stopping by your nearest dispensary has become too easy for you, here’s a handy guide to help you determine a cannabis plant's sex. If you want to know more about spotting male vs female marijuana plants and what the difference is between them, you're in the right place.

Botany 101

large indoor marijuana plant grow house

Most plants reproduce by way of pollination, which can happen a few different ways.

  • Monoecious plants produce both pollen and flowers on the same plant. These plants are also known as hermaphrodites, because they have both male (pollen) and female (buds/flower) reproductive organs.
  • Dioecious plants like cannabis, produce either male or female reproductive organs on each plant. Two dioecious plants, male and female, are needed for reproduction.

Because cannabis grows as either a male or female plant, we can isolate how each sex of the plant grows independent of the other.

Seeds Unless You Separate the Sexes

cannabis seeds and cannabis leaf to be grown into either male vs female marijuana plant

Already, there are huge known benefits to growing female marijuana plants without male interference. One reason is that all the resinous buds that are consumed only come from female marijuana plants.  Removing male marijuana plants from the garden allows female plants to grow large, seedless buds, called sinsemilla.

Having both female and male marijuana plants in your garden will result in cross-pollination, which is what a female cannabis plant needs to make seeds.

Removing male marijuana plants early in the cycle is important for two reasons:

  • It frees up space in your garden, so female marijuana plants grow bigger.
  • It prevents male marijuana plants from pollinating females and developing seeds in the buds.

Cannabis flower that is full of seeds is generally regarded as lower-quality cannabis, when it is intended to be smoked. The presence of seeds in cannabis buds that are smoked is harsh and unpleasant.

However, a grower might intentionally introduce male marijuana plants if they are breeding a new strain or collecting seeds for next year's crop.  New genetics are created by prodigious cannabis breeders who carefully select specific strains to cross-pollinate.

The Future (of Cannabis) is Female

cannabis plant among a lot of other marijuana plants showing there are male vs female marijuana plants

Guaranteed female genetics in a marijuana plant can only be obtained by using feminized seeds or cuttings from a female marijuana plant, also known as a clone.

If you do not have feminized cannabis seeds, then you are working with what are called “regular” cannabis seeds; which may be male or female.

If you’re unsure of your seed type, it’s vitally important to know how to determine the sex of your cannabis plant to grow for maximum yield.  The good news is that sexing cannabis plants is easy if you know when and where to look.

Cannabis plants show their sex in the nodes: the area where the leaves and branches extend from the stalk.

In male marijuana plants, pollen sacs will form underneath the plant's nodes. At first glance, the pollen sacs on a male marijuana plant may appear 'bud-like' or look like a tiny bunch of grapes, but if left unattended, the sacs will swell with pollen.

On female marijuana plants, the female calyx can look like the beginning of a pollen sac. Usually pointed ones tend to be female, but sometimes you have to wait and see a few more flowers to be certain.

Luckily, the pre-flowers of both sexes are visible on the plants weeks before they start serving their reproductive purposes.

Pre-Flowers and Late Bloomers

male marijuana plant sacs

Depending on the strain, sex, and growing conditions, pre-flowers begin to develop four to six weeks into seasonal outdoor growth. You should be able to find the pre-flowers and confidently determine the sex of your cannabis plant by week six of an outdoor grow.

Though there are other methods to determine what sex the plant is, examining pre-flower formation is the most reliable.

A magnifying glass or jeweler's glasses can help identifying the initial pre-flowers that are small and hard to see with the naked eye.

Examine the nodes of each plant and look for the early growth of small (male) sacs or two (female) bracts, which will eventually produce the hair-like stigma.

If your plants do not begin to show pre-flowers even after six weeks, are they just late bloomers? Probably not. This adage only applies to outdoor grows that rely on the sun for light. If you are growing cannabis indoors under a 24-hour light cycle, your plants may never begin to pre-flower.

Gotta Get My 12

close up of marijuana plant

Usually pre-flowering is initiated by adjusting the light cycle to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. This is because cannabis plants are photosensitive and need a few periods of uninterrupted darkness (mimicking the shorter days of Fall), before they being to show pre-flowers.

After two to three weeks of the 12-12 light schedule, most cannabis plants will reveal the first signs of their gender; either they are female marijuana plants and start growing buds (yay!), or if male marijuana plants, start growing balls (boo).

What If You See Both Sexes?

analyzing cannabis plant in a field

When a cannabis plant develops both male and female sex organs, it is a hermaphrodite and should be treated like a male marijuana plant. Hermaphroditic plants can produce enough pollen to ruin your entire garden.

"Herming out," as some call it, can happen from bad genetics or from a plant being excessively stressed. Some common cannabis plant stressors are:

  • Plant damage
  • Extreme Temperature
  • Light Leaks
  • Nutrient deficiencies

It’s important to monitor your plants after they have been exposed to stressors. Being indoors, high temperatures and light leaks are often the culprit. On outdoor grows, a snapped branch might be mended and later show signs of going "hermie."

Cull the Crap, Save the Crop

cannabis field with lots of marijuana plants at sunset

It is wise to destroy any marijuana plants that are showing signs of pollen sacs in a garden; whether they are male or hermaphroditic.  Culling undesirable pollen producing plants is the only way to protect your female marijuana plants from being seeded.

Remember that pollen is extremely potent and very good at traveling. Only keep male marijuana plants in your garden if you're interested in pollinating portions of your crop. Keep male marijuana plants separate from your larger garden and be careful around pollen.

Now that you have a better understanding of the differences between male vs female marijuana plants, you should be able to keep your garden free of any unwanted pollen producing pot plants.

Knowing how to spot the potentially destructive pre-flowers of a male marijuana plant is key to growing excellent cannabis.  Learn more about the best cannabis strains and where to get them at Leafbuyer.

Clearing Up the Laws About Hemp CBD

hemp seeds and flour and oil for hemp cbd

The legal CBD market is expected to become a two-billion-dollar industry within the next three years, yet the legality of hemp CBD products is still wildly debated. While hemp cultivators can use Farm Bill Act of 2014 to fly under the radar, the truth is, according to the letter of the law, all CBD products are federally illegal. Fortunately, due to the confusion regarding the laws, only a few agencies are enforcing the rules.

Let's review the incredibly complex legal status of hemp CBD.

CBD According to Federal Law

hemp cbd in a jar next to cannabis leaf

Even though CBD manufacturers seem to be proliferating like rabbits, regardless of where the extract came from, in the eyes of the federal government, it is still illegal, except for the ridiculously expensive Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical-produced CBD.

By definition, CBD is a cannabinoid extract produced from the flowers of the cannabis sativa plant. Congress declared all parts of the cannabis sativa plant as "marijuana" with the exception of the stalk and the seeds. Regardless of whether the plant is hemp, grown in a field, or cannabis, grown in a greenhouse, if the extract is produced with the flowers and leaves of the plant – it's illegal.

Unfortunately, the stalks and the seeds contain a shallow concentration of cannabinoids. The value is in the flowers and leaves.

The Farm Act isn't All-Inclusive

hemp plants in a field for hemp cbd

Many producers use the Farm Act of 2014 to justify their legal status. The bill provided states the ability to start pilot programs for industrial hemp cultivation. Specifically the Act allows for the production of hemp products like fibers, fuels, plastics, and extracts for research purposes. The law does not authorize the sale of hemp or hemp products, and it doesn't include any regulation for the distribution of products made from the plant that are safe for humans to consume.

This is why California is banning hemp-derived CBD products.

While GW Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval for Epidiolex, a 99.6% pure CBD extract with a Schedule V designation, CBD from any other source is still considered a Schedule I drug. This is because CBD products are produced from the parts of the cannabis sativa plant US Congress has defined as marijuana.

So Why Is It Sold Online?

lots of hemp products like seeds and oils and lotions made of hemp cbd

Truthfully, because no one is policing it at this time. Although the DEA and the FDA absolutely could crack down on the sale of CBD products, between the growing public acceptance and looming legalization, they admittedly have "bigger fish to fry," with the opioid epidemic and other deadly illicit drugs.

On a local level, CBD products are starting to gain attention in individual states. In entirely legal states, police don't glance twice at CBD products or lotions. Due to a lack of education, other states may not view them as benign.

For example, a woman in Jackson Hole, WY received felony charges and spent 36 hours in jail for possessing a CBD lotion she purchased at a grocery store in Taos, New Mexico. Although the charges were later dropped, the entire incident was more than a mere inconvenience for the woman who had to sell her car to make bail.

Ohio is also making headlines recently for their crackdown on CBD sales as well. After implementing their state medical marijuana program, they declared all other sources of CBD products illegal.

What's the Big Deal? It's Just CBD

hemp seeds and hemp cbd balm

We've learned enough about cannabidiol and the products, so most consumers know and understand CBD is non-psychoactive, non-habit forming, and comes with few side effects. So why is the government still so worried about the substance?

  • Lack of regulations and testing. Because CBD supplements are not FDA approved, they fall into a class of unregulated dietary supplements which have very few standards. As several reports have shown, many CBD products don't contain the potency promised, or worse, they may provide more THC than an unsuspecting consumer might be ready for or is considered legal.
  • Due to the lack of testing, you may be getting more than you bargain for as well. Hemp is a clean-up crop which absorbs pollutants from the ground and water, and because industrial hemp typically contains smaller concentrations of cannabinoids, it takes more plant matter to produce the extracts, thus increasing the risk of toxins in the product.

Safety Questions to Ask a CBD Provider Before You Order

hemp plants in a hemp field outside

  • Where is your hemp sourced? If they are shady about telling you where their product comes from, take it as a sign. Look for products produced in legal states where testing is more common and more accessible to perform.
  • How do you certify organic cultivation? Cultivators using high-end, organic practices and integrated pest management are going to be proud to tell you how wonderful they are. If they answer like they are hiding something – they likely are.
  • Do you provide test results or a COA? A quality CBD producer will give a certificate of analysis for each batch so you can match the batch number on your product to the test results.

Although the products are not technically legal at the Federal level, the chances are good that no one is going to knock on your door when you order CBD pain cream or tinctures for stress. Taking advantage of the ambiguous laws surrounding the production, distribution, and use of CBD to improve your quality of life is not the crime of the century. Be mindful about where your products come from in the meantime, but rest assured, CBD will likely be legal for all in the very near future.

Cannabis Content Creators Want to Create a Place for Cannabis Community

marijuana flag in the city

When Arend Lenderink started posting chatty videos of himself getting stoned, he was working at a coffee shop in New York. (A likable conversationalist who sometimes goes by Arend Richard, Lenderink also calls himself "The Gay Stoner.") A mother who frequented the coffee shop discovered his YouTube channel. She convinced dozens of other mothers and coffee shop patrons to sign a petition, urging the local police department to investigate Lenderink and his YouTube channel.

A sympathetic police officer tipped Lenderink off to the impending investigation, he says. (The cop happened to be a friend of his family.) The next day, the vlogger packed up his apartment – as much of it as he could fit in a U-Haul – and moved to Denver.

Increasingly, people are videotaping themselves getting stoned and sharing the experience with their followers online. Some, like Lenderink, share personal stories between tokes. Others provide educational content and smoking tips. Others simply consume massive amounts of cannabis, and film the results. There's usually some discussion of how many followers they have, or how they got so many followers, or how to get more.

WeedTube Was Born on YouTube

glass pipes for smoking marijuana, commonly seen on weedtube

When weed consumers appeared on YouTube, they were christened “weedtubers.” Cannabis enthusiasts are fantastic at combining words to make new hybrid words: budtender, ganjapreneur. (In the early days of medical marijuana, edibles were almost called medibles.)

WeedTubers showcase their glass pieces, their primo buds, their dab rigs (with electric nails, of course), and their home decor, which frequently involves stickers. Some WeedTube stars began smoking on YouTube when they were in a new city, where they didn't have many friends to smoke with in person. On YouTube, they found a community.

Some cannabis content creators have amassed hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Most of them are millennials, but one channel called "Mary Loves Glass" was created to show viewers that "cannabis users can be grandmas," according to the channel. In her videos, Mary smokes out of glass while an assortment of glass (all kinds of glass, including liquor bottles and vases) sits on the shelf behind her. She also takes advice from viewers, like how much water should be in her glass bong.

Another user, Silenced Hippie, is in her early twenties. With over 200,000 followers on Instagram, she is feeling less silenced now. "YOUTUBE DELETED ME AT 429K," reads her Insta profile. She consumes cannabis while taking walks and hanging out.

Over at "Strain Central," another YouTube channel, Josh smokes lots of pot out of lots of bongs.

WeedTubers Love Dabs

heating up a dab rig, which cannabis content creators do a lot

While bongs make frequent appearances on WeedTube, dab rigs are even more prominent. The most common type of WeedTube video is a millennial taking a massive dab, and coughing. These dabs involve large amounts of cannabis concentrate.

To stay relevant, video bloggers have to keep one-upping each other. Some gained thousands of followers by taking half-gram dabs. They'd consume an entire half-gram of wax or shatter, and exhale a cloud of smoke while having a coughing fit.

For a while, a half-gram dab was a great way for cannabis vloggers to gain new followers. Then other vloggers started taking full-gram dabs.

WeedTubers became so popular, they even appeared on the now-cancelled Netflix series "Disjointed," starring Kathy Bates. On the show, two characters – a couple of fictional vloggers named "Dank and Dabby" – become famous by taking dabs and bong hits on their online video channel. The characters earn money and free product through their content, but get into trouble when they film themselves smoking in a national forest.

For real cannabis content creators, the possibility of earning revenue through viral videos – and the buzzkill of federal marijuana laws getting in the way – are both very real.

Last March, YouTube began deleting popular cannabis users' channels. Some had amassed hundreds of thousands of followers, and were earning several thousands of dollars per month, according to some estimates.

Tech Companies Are Moderating Their Content woman rolling a joint with cannabis

Like many platforms, YouTube has started moderating its content more. In recent years, all social media companies have faced increased scrutiny. After Russians influenced our 2016 election, and Burmese groups used Facebook to incite violence against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, it became increasingly difficult for social media companies to remain neutral. Even Reddit was forced to begin moderating its content.

In 2017, YouTube faced a public relations crisis when child abuse videos and other violent content was found on the platform. In late 2017, one YouTube vlogger named Logan Paul uploaded a video where he showed a dead body, and laughed at the suicide victim. The backlash was swift.

As part of this "content crisis," YouTube expanded its staff of moderators to 10,000, by adding 2,000 human moderators in 2018. (They also continue to develop machine-learning algorithms to flag violent extremist content.) In August, YouTube deleted all videos associated with the far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The company explained that his videos were promoting violence towards a group of people.

Meanwhile, YouTube was also deleting the channels of cannabis content creators, who weren't inciting anything, except maybe a trend towards bigger dabs. Confused cannabis vloggers appealed the decision. In response, YouTube sent them a generic list of "community guidelines." (YouTube declined to say which of its guidelines had been violated by cannabis content.)

YouTube Hurts Entrepreneurial Content Creators

woman using social media to get around youtube censoring cannabis content creators

For vloggers who had successfully "monetized" their content, this was especially painful.

Fortunately, some WeedTubers had built "lifeboats," including personal blogs, podcasts, and newsletter followings. For "The Stoner Mom," who had grown her YouTube audience to 42,000 subscribers over four years, having her YouTube channel terminated wasn't the end of her career.

"YouTube doesn't own the relationships I've built with my amazing sponsors and brand partners," she said. "And YouTube definitely does not own my relationship with my viewers, readers, and listeners.”

For cannabis producers and retailers, traditional advertising is frequently off-limits. So cannabis marketing strategies commonly involve social media influencers.

That's why "sponsored content" is a large part of a cannabis content creator's life, as Lenderink explains. He never successfully monetized his YouTube content through ad revenue, he says, but he has several sponsors.

So, Lenderink decided to create a separate video platform, exclusively for WeedTubers, to help them further monetize their content. He crowdfunded the project, TheWeedTube.com, and easily met his fundraising goal.

At first, he intended for his new site to work synergistically with YouTube creators. He was inspired by Patreon, a site where fans can directly support an artist's work. Still, even with WeedTube, cannabis content creators wouldn't exactly be making millions, he said.

"But we can make an honest living," he told fellow WeedTubers.

The Weedtuber Genre Isn’t Mainstream

woman outside smoking a joint on a bridge

"WeedTube is dead," said some prominent WeedTubers, who were talking about WeedTube as a genre of YouTube.

"WeedTube isn't dead," said Lenderink, in another video, referring the new WeedTube. "It's underground."

His new site wasn't exactly ready to launch. But he didn't have a choice, he says.

"When YouTube started terminating accounts, we knew we had to step in,” Lenderink told BuzzFeed News.

He rushed his launch date forward, and made a sudden announcement about WeedTube, on YouTube. (He was concerned YouTube was about to delete his channel.) WeedTubers immediately started joining the new WeedTube, he says.

Within one week of launching TheWeedTube.com, his new company was seeing ad revenue.

You won't be making money if you only have 10,000 followers, Lenderink warns.

"I didn't start making money until I had 20,000 subscribers," he tells his subscribers.

When YouTube deleted Lenderink's account, he had amassed nearly 200,000 subscribers.

The Cannabis Influencer Blues

woman and man smoking pot from a bong with a group of people, which is a common theme for cannabis content creators on weedtube
Editorial credit: nisargmediaproductions / Shutterstock.com

This problem is familiar to cannabis influencers and businesses on Instagram and Facebook. Both major social media platforms frequently delete cannabis-related accounts.

It's a catch-22: an influencer, in order to influence, must become popular. But if they become too popular, the platform will delete their account. This is likely to remain a problem, as long as cannabis is still federally illegal.

This problem has inspired several entrepreneurs to create alternative social media platforms, geared exclusively to the cannabis community.

In 2013, entrepreneurs launched MassRoots, a social media platform like Facebook, but specifically for cannabis enthusiasts. It quickly raised money from investors, but it never became profitable. In 2016, it lost $18 million, according to the Marijuana Business Daily. In 2017 alone, it lost $44 million.

This has not deterred other entrepreneurs from creating other weed-specific platforms. In 2016, app-makers launched "TokeWith," for people who want to live stream themselves smoking pot.

It's unclear whether platforms designed exclusively for cannabis content can succeed.

But it's very clear that people enjoy watching other people smoke pot on the internet.

For now, you can still do that on YouTube. The company has only deleted the most popular cannabis YouTube channels, like Lenderink's "The Gay Stoner," plus "Strain Central," "The Silenced Hippie," and "The Stoner Mom," among others.

You can also watch people smoke pot on Linderink's WeedTube. But some users are struggling to use the site effectively, because the app version still hasn't launched.

Creating a Community

woman in a forest smoking weed

Despite Lenderink's charming persona as "The Gay Stoner," I didn't think anyone could top the fictional cannabis content creators, Dank and Dabby, from Netflix. As stoner archetypes, consuming heroic amounts of pot in their videos, Dank and Dabby did capture the vast majority of what's happening on WeedTube.

But not entirely. Because vloggers like Arend (and the grandmotherly Mary, and the legions of young women with heavy eye makeup and perfectly-shaped brows, who take massive dabs on camera) are also showing us that stoners don't all look the same. There are stoner moms. There are stoner grandmas, minority stoners, LGBTQ stoners.

"I think the cannabis industry is super homophobic," Linderink told OutFront Magazine. "The LGBTQ community is not catered to at all by the cannabis industry. They don't consider us part of the demographic, when in reality we are a huge part of the demographic."

Linderink's videos are helping to change that. On YouTube and WeedTube, cannabis vloggers are doing more than taking full-gram dabs and binge-eating edibles. (Although they are definitely doing those things too.) Cannabis content creators are creating more than just content. They're also creating community – one that's hopefully more welcoming and inclusive, for stoners of all stripes.

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