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The Endocannabinoid System

Human beings have been using cannabis for its medicinal and psychoactive properties for thousands of years, but there’s always been a veil over information regarding how and why cannabis works so well with treating such a wide variety of medical conditions. For example, cannabis has been known for decades to be very helpful in the treatment of glaucoma due to it’s ability to lower the intraocular pressure of the eye, or in other words lower the fluid pressure to prevent optic nerve damage. But how does it work?

Endocannabinoids

Endogenous cannabinoids are a family of bioactive lipids that interact with and activate Endocannabinoid receptors via neural transmission. Naturally formed cannabinoids can be found sparsely in the brain and in other tissues throughout the body, and are tasked with homeopathic regulation of functions such as pain perception, memory, mood, and appetite. One event that triggers the natural production of cannabinoids in your body is Noxious Stimulus, a potentially or actually tissue damaging event. Your body is alerted of this event and in response, synthesizes it’s own cannabinoids on demand and releases them to activate presynaptic cannabinoid receptors in specific areas.

Endocannabinoid Receptors

Decades after the discovery of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive ingredient in cannabis which was first isolated in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni, the identification and successful cloning of the first cannabinoid receptor (CB1) came, and shortly after, cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2).

  • Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) receptors are thought to be one of the most widely expressed Gαi protein-coupled receptors in the brain. CB1 receptors have shown particularly high levels of expression in cortex, basal ganglia, hippocampus, cerebellum, and low levels of expression in brainstem nuclei. Also found in medulla oblongata and spinal cord.
  • CB2 receptors are mainly expressed on T cells of the immune system, on macrophages and B cells, and in hematopoietic cells. They also have a function in keratinocytes and are also expressed on peripheral nerve terminals. These receptors play a role in antinociception, or the relief of pain. Activation of peripheral CB2 receptors generates an antinociceptive response in situations of inflammatory hyperalgesia and neuropathic pain.

 

Interaction between Cannabinoids and Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors are Gi/o-protein coupled receptors anchored in the cell membrane, and can be found throughout most of the body’s systems. So how do Cannabinoids interact with their host receptors? Here’s an example below.

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The major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Above, you can see a representation of a GABA neurotransmitter synapsis (the junction point between two neurons communicating), containing CB1 receptors to show potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Endocannabinoids are synthesized in membranes of neurons and other nervous cells and released to the in-between synaptic space to activate presynaptic CB1 receptors. Enhancement of cannabinoid receptors activity can be obtained by different pharmacological manipulations as, for example, administering cannabinoid receptor agonists or inhibiting either the reuptake or the degradation of the endocannabinoids.

In summary, cannabinoids have the ability to alter communication from one neuron to another and they hold a lot of undiscovered medicinal potential. Further study of the various cannabinoids and their receptors could lead to breakthroughs in pain management, neuroprotection and control of motor function aiding in conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, treatment of spinal injury, weight control, conditions like anxiety, neuropathy, glaucoma, nausea, emesis, wasting diseases. Promising data has already been collected in treatment with inflammatory control, cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, depression, gastrointestinal disease, traumatic brain injury and stroke. The list goes on and on.

Cannabis has an exciting future ahead of it, and the science behind it is finally becoming unveiled!

Terpenes: The Basics

Have you ever opened up a fresh jar of bud to give it a smell, and had the aroma take you way back to a nostalgic event or memory in your life? This is likely because your cannabis shares similar terpenes with whichever smell was associated with your past memory!

So what exactly is a terpene?

Most types of cannabis flowers are typically covered in trichomes, which are basically tiny, often mushroom shaped growths containing a sticky cannabinoid filled resin inside of the heads and stalks. One of the main functions of this resin is to produce certain aromas and essential oils to repel insects and other natural predators. Many herbivores find these aromas unpalatable, but to human beings they can share the same smells as pine needles, mangos, apples, pepper, mints, cloves, etc.

What else can terpenes do?

Terpenes can also invoke therapeutic effects, which can be amplified when paired with cannabinoids. Terpenes assist cannabinoids with entering the bloodstream and help them interact with the endocannabinoid system. This process is called the Entourage Effect. The different terpene-cannabinoid relationships are also what allows each strain of cannabis to have its own specific psychoactive and medicinal effects. For example, one strain may contain high amounts of limonene, which typically helps to elevate one’s mood and relieve stress by increasing your brain’s serotonin levels, and can also help to treat depression, cancer, inflammation, and pain!

Here are some terpenes and their related functions:

terpene_icon_pinene

α Pinene

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

terpene_icon_linalool

Linalool

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

terpene_icon_myrcene

Myrcene

Myrcene is the most prevalent terpene and is found in most varieties of cannabis. Myrcene concentration dictates whether a strain will have an Indica or Sativa effect. Strains containing over 0.5% of myrcene produce a more sedative high, while strains containing less than 0.5% myrcene have an energizing effect. Myrcene is also present in thyme, hops, lemongrass, and citrus, and is used in aromatherapy.

terpene_icon_limonene

Limonene

Limonene is a dominant terpene in strains with a pronounced Sativa effect. It is also found in the rinds of citrus fruits. Limonene aids in the absorption of other terpenes through the skin and mucous membranes, and has been used to treat anxiety and depression.

terpene_icon_ocimene

Ocimene

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

terpene_icon_terpinoline

Terpinolene

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

terpene_icon_terpineol

Terpineol

Terpineol is known for its pleasant smell and is often used in soaps and perfumes. It is known to have relaxing effects.

terpene_icon_valencene

Valencene

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

terpene_icon-caryophylline

β Caryophyllene

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

terpene_icon_geraniol

Geraniol

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

terpene_icon_humulene

Humulene

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

Secondary Terpenes Found in Cannabis:

Phellandrene
Phellandrene is commonly found in the essential oil of plants in the eucalyptus genus. Its smell is reminiscent of peppermint, with a slight citrus tone. Recent research shows that phellandrene possesses antidepressive effects.

Carene
Carene has a sweet, pungent odor and is a main constituent of pine and cedar resin. It is used to dry out excess body fluids, such as tears, mucus, and sweat.

Terpinene
Terpinene is used as a fragrant additive in both the cosmetic and food industries.It is also considered to be a well-tolerated additive in the pharmaceutical industry. It has very strong antioxidant properties.

Fenchol
Fenchol is found in basil and is used extensively in perfumery. It is known to exhibit antibacterial properties.

Borneol
Borneol has a menthol aroma and is used as a calming sedative. It is also beneficial for combating fatigue and recovering from stress or illness. Borneol exhibits both anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects.

Bisabolol
Bisabolol is the primary constituent of German chamomile essential oil and has recently been shown to induce apoptosis in models of leukemia.

Phytol
Found in green tea, phytol is a diterpene that results from the degradation of chlorophyll. Phytol inhibits the enzyme that degrades the neurotransmitter GABA, which may partially account for its relaxing effect.

Camphene
Camphene is found in essential oils extracted from certain trees. It has recently shown promise for pain relief and antioxidant effects.

Sabinene
Sabinene is known for its spicy, oak, and black pepper accents. It has been shown to benefit liver function and digestion, relieve arthritis, and can soothe skin conditions.

Camphor
Principally derived from the camphor tree, camphor is readily absorbed through the skin. When applied topically, it produces a cooling sensation similar to that of menthol. Camphor also acts as a slight local anesthetic and an antimicrobial substance.

Isoborneol
Isoborneol is found in mugwort that exhibits antiviral properties. It is a potent inhibitor of herpes simplex virus type 1.

Menthol
Menthol exhibits analgesic properties and is used topically to treat inflammatory pain.

Cedrene
Cedrene is present in the essential oil of cedar.

Nerolidol
Nerolidol is found in oranges. It acts as a sedative and exhibits potent antifungal and antimalarial activity.

Guaiol
Guaiol is an alcohol found in the oil of guaiacum and cypress pine. It possesses antimicrobial properties.

Isopulegol
Isopulegol is a chemical precursor to menthol, and has a variety of promising routes for therapeutic research. Studies have shown that isopulegol possess gastroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects, and reduces the severity of seizures in animal models.

Geranyl Acetate
Geranyl Acetate is found in a variety of natural oils, derived from citronella, lemongrass, sassafras, roses, and many others. It has a strong floral aroma with a fruity twist, and exhibits strong antimicrobial effects.

Cymene
Commonly found in the essential oils of cumin and thyme, cymene has documented anti-inflammatory effects. Research also shows potential protective effects against acute lung injury.

Eucalyptol
Derived from eucalyptus oil, eucalyptol has a minty, earthy aroma. It has been shown to possess potent antifungal effects.

Pulegone
Pulegone has a pleasant peppermint aroma and is a strong insecticide.

Licensed vs. Unlicensed Dispensaries in San Diego

The legalization of cannabis in California brought with it many changes in the industry including higher taxes, updated rules and regulations, new mandatory three-stage product testing, and plenty of confusion as to what is and is not allowed in the industry.

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control is now heading up the organization of the state’s cannabis market by regulating and monitoring the production and sale of cannabis products. The Bureau is also responsible for licensing retailers, distributors, testing labs, microbusinesses, and temporary cannabis events. This means that they are also in charge, along with the DOI-CEU and its other constituents, of figuring out what to do about manufacturers and retailers who continue to operate without licenses and refuse to conform to the modern laws and regulations of 2019.

In San Diego alone, there are still hundreds of delivery-only dispensaries, and dozens of storefronts alike operating illegally, so what exactly are the differences between licensed and unlicensed shops? Lets discuss two important areas!

TESTING

Licensed retail cannabis storefronts in San Diego may only sell products which have passed through the three stages of BCC required testing.

Stage One includes Cannabinoid Testing, Moisture Content Testing, Category II Residual Solvents and Processing Chemicals Testing, Category I Residual Pesticides Testing, Microbial Impurities Testing (A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, A. terreus), Microbial Impurities Testing (Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp.), Homogeneity Testing of Edible Cannabis Products. To summarize, this stage of tests is mainly to determine exact levels of cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN, etc.) as well as to make sure there are no known harmful molds or other microbial contaminants in the products.

Stage Two includes Category I Residual Solvents and Processing Chemicals Testing, Category II Residual Pesticides Testing, and Foreign Material Testing. To summarize, these tests help to determine whether harmful and poisonous pesticides or additives were used in the process of producing the cannabis products.

Stage Three includes Terpenoids Testing, Mycotoxins Testing, Heavy Metals Testing, and Water Activity Testing of Solid or Semi-Solid Edibles. This stage is crucial regarding vape cartridges, as testing laboratories around the state are reporting the finding of toxic metals in some cartridges, which are then rejected and sent back to the manufacturer.

These standards of testing are extremely important to ensure that cannabis consumers are getting the safest possible products. Since unlicensed dispensaries do not follow all of the processes required by those which are licensed, the products you purchase from them could contain pesticides, molds, and other harmful contaminants which can damage the brain and body.

Additionally, stage I of testing is instrumental to finding out the true cannabinoid percentages of the products you’re consuming. Advertised percentages of cannabis products from unlicensed shops are nearly always inaccurate, because they aren’t required to test per batch of products. In other words, if an unlicensed shop says their Banana OG is testing at 30% THC, there’s really no way to tell if that’s true because there’s no way to show accountability. Licensed shops must be provided with certificates of analysis proving full testing has been completed on each batch of products which comes into the store.

 

TAXES

Licensed shops in San Diego are now required to collect a 27.75% total tax on all products in the store, including paraphernalia and accessories. Broken down, 15% goes to the California excise tax, 7.75% goes to the state sales tax, and San Diego takes a city tax of 5%. Although nobody likes to pay more for things, other states have shown us what sort of positive impact cannabis taxes can have on the economy!

For example, in Aurora, CO over $1,500,000 in cannabis tax revenue has been invested directly into combatting homelessness by providing shelters, meals, an basic essentials. In Pueblo County, CO local marijuana taxes have paid for over $600,000 student scholarships for the past three years. Colorado as a state voted on amendment 64, which allocated the first $40,000,000 collected in excise taxes directly towards the BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) program.

Washington has focused most of their tax dollars on public health. Financial assistance has partly been aimed at substance abuse programs, and mainly allocated towards paying the state’s share of Medicaid, which provides health insurance to roughly 1.8 million low-income residents of the state. They are also in the process of creating a plan to divide portions of cannabis tax towards k-12 schools, in an effort to hire more faculty and provide supplies for classrooms!

Here in California, Governor Jerry Brown estimated that in 2018 California would bring in an estimated $645 million in cannabis tax revenues, when actually we fell short earning nearly half that at $345 million. So why is that? A large chunk of that has to do with unlicensed storefronts absorbing much of the local cannabis business due to their low prices and tax free visits. If they aren’t paying taxes, all of the money goes into the pockets of the owners rather than being redistributed into state and county funding.

Another key element to the missing revenue is the lack of licenses being distributed for potentially lucrative businesses and events like smoke lounges and festivals. Some cities around California have locations where cannabis users can go to safely and comfortably consume, which is huge for out of state visitors. Tourists and visitors come from other states to San Diego to vacation and experience cannabis while they visit, but if they purchase something to smoke, finding a legal place to smoke it can be difficult. Public consumption is still illegal, most hotels forbid smoking (especially weed), if you smoke in your vehicle you risk a ticket or worse. San Diego city officials have discussed plans to offer designated places to consume, but haven’t released any official notice of permission as of yet.

In the end we can agree the start for recreational cannabis in California has been a bit rough, but what truly matters to most is getting clean, safe products to enjoy! Cannabis still has so much to offer the community economically, socially, and medicinally, and we’ve only just begun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Marijuana Delivery

delivery

The benefits of weed delivery are many. Keeping stoned people from getting behind the wheel of a car is the most obvious. There is also the privacy factor, as well as convenience, but for medical patients who are homebound, delivery services are a genuine lifeline. Just ask “Tyrone,” a homebound vet who lost one leg to the Vietnam War and the other to diabetes brought on by alcoholism he suffered after coming home. He regrets not turning to cannabis to cope with his PTSD back in the 1970s. Now he medicates with a variety of concentrates and edibles to cope with stress, depression, and insomnia. That he can anonymously place an order and receive a dosage “without having to deal with the world” makes cannabis delivery an easy decision for him. “My guy knows me,” he says with a chuckle. “Sometimes I just say hello and he answers with ‘One Tyrone special, comin’ up!’ ”

Read original article from the Seattle Weekly here by  May 3, 2017 1:30AM

Marijuana Is Shaping Up to Be a Defining Election Issue Across the County

defining

 

California voters may have spoken on recreational marijuana in November, but rather than settling the issue, that vote has set the stage for several local battles over whether to allow marijuana operations.

Because Proposition 64 passed last fall, state licensing to marijuana businesses is slated to begin Jan. 1, 2018 — though local jurisdictions have the power to forbid them in their boundaries.

That has teed up a new set of pot-related efforts, from a group seeking to overturn the County Board of Supervisors’ ban to cities softening their stances on marijuana in the face of voter petition drives.

In March, the County Board of Supervisors banned new recreational and medical cannabis operations in unincorporated areas of the county, while phasing out existing medical marijuana dispensaries. Yet the matter could be headed for a public vote.

The Southern California Responsible Growers Council is exploring a 2018 ballot initiative that would give the green light to pot farms and medical marijuana dispensaries. Specifics are still being hammered out, said Adrian Kwiatkowski, the executive director of the group, which includes farmers feeling the pinch of rising labor and water costs.

“You have the voters of the county saying one thing, and the supervisors saying something else,” Kwiatkowski said. Recreational marijuana shops aren’t part of the initiative because they’re more likely to be targeted should the federal government crack down on cannabis, he said.

In the county, only San Diego, Lemon Grove and La Mesa have ordinances allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. San Diego is alone in having cleared a path for recreational cannabis sales.

Prop. 64 pertained to recreational marijuana, but its broad voter support has also prompted a renewed push in recent months for medical cannabis dispensaries. That includes in Vista, where the medical marijuana industry and the City Council have dueling dispensary plans.

The group Vistans for Better Community Access will soon gather signatures for a ballot measure that would allow up to 10 medical marijuana dispensaries. An alternative proposal from the council would permit a maximum of two dispensaries and place tighter restrictions on where they can open.

The Council, which was staunchly opposed to dispensaries until the petition came along, has argued it put forth a plan to retain local control.

Vince Duffy, a Sacramento-based campaign consultant who’s leading the initiative campaign, said two dispensaries aren’t enough to meet patient demand.

This will be the group’s second time collecting signatures. More than 7,000 signatures submitted earlier this year — enough to qualify for the ballot — were invalidated because of a paperwork error. Now, the group is aiming to put the measure before voters in four to five months, said Duffy.

Craig Balben, president of North Coastal Prevention Coalition — a nonprofit that educates on drug and alcohol abuse — said the marijuana industry too often turns to the ballot box instead of compromising on regulations.

“My experience has shown me that the industry is not necessarily willing to work on any regulations. They want to force their will on cities,” Balben said. He also expressed concern over dispensaries increasing teen access.

“We don’t want to be against marijuana for the sake of being against marijuana. It has nothing to do with just being prohibitionists,” he said. “We want to collaborate and work together and figure out what are good public health policies and what are good regulations.”

Scott Chipman, head of the anti-legalization group San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods, said residents are increasingly concerned over marijuana and want to lend the group a hand.

But Chipman fears that the message of groups against cannabis will be drowned out by a marijuana industry that appears to be growing more powerful.

“We will try to inform by showing up at city council meetings, county supervisor meetings and planning group meetings,” he said.

Oceanside, too, is re-evaluating its stance on cannabis after facing a medical marijuana ballot measure, which is on hold. Last month, the Council set up an ad hoc committee to study cultivation, distribution and sales of marijuana. The committee will report back to the full Council in five months with options for regulations.

Councilman Jerry Kern sits on the ad hoc committee and suggested forming it, even though he voted against Prop 64.

Kern said given Oceanside’s support of Prop 64, maintaining the city ban runs the risk of a ballot initiative that would limit the city’s say on the number of dispensaries and their locations.

“The problem with ballot-box initiatives or ballot-box zoning is that the city loses all control,” Kern said. “We want to get out ahead of this.”

Kern said he’s also heard from struggling farmers who are interested in growing cannabis. It’s a similar story in Encinitas, where a council subcommittee is exploring marijuana cultivation in hopes of saving what’s left of the flower industry.

The local group Oceanside for a Safer Community earlier this year planned a measure to potentially allow up to 10 dispensaries. David Newman of the group said it hit the pause button on the initiative to work with the ad-hoc committee on regulations. He added that the group is prepared to resume the initiative if the Council again denies medical dispensaries.

Hezekiah Allen is the executive director of the California Growers Association, which also wants to end the Board of Supervisors’ ban on cultivation. Allen said ballot measures tend to be costly and divisive, but an initiative may be the only route given the board’s repeated opposition.

“Whenever you see an imbalance between the voters and the elected officials, I think that ballot measures become much more practical and likely, and I think we’ve reached that point in San Diego,” Allen said.

While the potential measure from the Southern California Responsible Growers Council only covers the unincorporated areas, it would go before the entire county for a vote. That seemingly bodes well for the initiative’s chances, considering that more than 57 percent of county residents backed Prop 64.

“Looking at the voter data, it’s a sea change in cultural attitudes and public opinion,” said Vince Vasquez, an independent elections analyst, regarding Prop. 64 versus a failed 2010 state ballot measure to legalize marijuana.

Beyond local initiatives, the medical marijuana industry plans to flex its muscle in other races.

Phil Rath, executive director of United Medical Marijuana Coalition in San Diego, said the group plans to fundraise for marijuana-friendly candidates in the city of San Diego. The group has yet to determine which candidates it will endorse.

Although San Diego allows dispensaries, Rath said there’s still much to be decided. For instance, the coalition is advocating at the local and state levels that dispensaries be able to sell both medical and recreational marijuana, instead of picking one.

“Our view is that the regulation of the industry is going to be an ongoing conversation,” Rath said.

Read original article from the LA Times here by  May 16, 2017