Growing Strains

If you are looking to grow your own medical marijuana as opposed to purchasing it from a dispensary, then you have probably already done your research on the best lights, the best style and the best fertilizer, but you may not have taken into consideration the different strains and how they grow.

The most important factor in choosing your strain is how much space you have. If you are able to build a grow in a larger area, then you can grow whichever strain you desire. Sativa plants, however, can commonly grow too large for smaller grow areas and thus are not normally the best choice for those conditions. Indica strains, on the other hand, are smaller and more compact, making them a perfect choice for tighter or more private areas.

The aroma of the strain may also be of importance to the grower, as cannabis possesses a wide range of colorful smells that are released during maturation. Each strain will have its own distinct aroma, from pineapple to caramel along with the common skunk smell that cannabis is known for.

Grow time is another important factor in selecting a strain to grow, and if speed is desired, auto-flowering strains will grant the best results. These plants can flower in as soon as three weeks and can be harvested after only six weeks. Indica-dominant strains are next on the speed chart, only taking on average two more weeks to be ready for harvest. Sativa-dominant strains are definitely the most time-consuming, as they will only begin to flower after eight weeks and may require additional protections or growing support.

If you are still looking for more information about getting started with growing, take a look at our growing guide to see everything you’ll need to grow your medication.


The Endocannabinoid System

In order to fully understand the benefits that medical marijuana can offer, one must first understand the way that it interacts with the body. The endogenous cannabinoid system is quite possibly the most vital physiologic system in the network of establishing and sustaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors exist throughout the body, from the brain to the connective tissue and immune cells. The cannabinoid system’s role changes depending on its location but is always acting for one goal: homeostasis, also known as the maintenance of a stable internal environment.

Homeostasis exists at every level of biological life, at every turn controlled completely by the endocannabinoid system. For example, the process of autography (cell self-appropriation for self-digestion and recycling) is a type of homeostasis that prolongs the life of normal cells (through enabling them to strike a balance between synthesis, degradation and recycling of cellular products), but is also lethal to malignant tumor cells, forcing them into programmed cellular suicide. This cancer cell death, in turn, creates more homeostasis and increases survival of the whole organism.

Both cannabinoids and endocannabinoids can also be utilized for communication between varying cell types at the intersections of each system. In the event of an injury, for instance, the primary role of cannabinoids is to stem the release of both activators and sensitizers from injured tissue and preventing excessive firing of the nerve cells. This also calms the nearby immune cells and stops the release of pro-inflammatory substances.

Due to its interaction with almost every organ and cell in the body, the endocannabinoid system can truly be described as a link between the body and the brain. The knowledge that comes via understanding this system can show how states of mind can have an impact on bodily health.

Alongside homeostasis, cannabinoids have been shown to influence personal relationship with the surrounding environment; the administration of cannabinoids alters human behavior towards a more creative, generous and humorous manner. Through the manipulation of neuronal plasticity, learning and neurogenesis, they can directly impact an individual’s ability to increase their thought patterns beyond past situations which in turn continues to stimulate health.

States of Disarray

While the distribution of marijuana for medical purposes has been legalized in New York, there are still huge amounts of regulatory hurdles for providers to jump In order to efficiently care for their patients. Unfortunately these concerns have begun to pop up in other states that are attempting to move their legalization from paper to process.

In Massachusetts medical marijuana was legalized as early as 2012, but the regulations were plagued with extremely complicated licensing procedures that stopped dispensaries from opening at all. This May, Gov. Charlie Baker refined the overcomplicated process, allowing dispensaries to open for business only to be stopped by ridiculous requirements on marijuana’s lead levels that even grocery store vegetables were unable to meet. The disarray stemming from these events has resulted in arrest of several doctor-certified patients despite them being in full compliance with state law.

Minnesota patients will be allowed to purchase marijuana on July 1, but are still facing difficulty with the state only approving nine conditions for patients to qualify and only eight dispensaries in the entire state. Minnesota does not allow home growing or smoking, having only legalized extracts and pills derived from the plant, which along with stiff physician regulations may make it even more difficult for patients to find care.

A four-year pilot program for medical marijuana in Illinois initiated in 2013, and with dispensaries not being issued licenses until January of this year and not expecting to open until this fall, it has been slow going. Coupled with Illinois’ strict prohibition on home growing, barely 2,500 patients have applied for the state-mandated medical marijuana program.

While medical marijuana was legal in Delaware in 2011, the proposed plan was suspended for fear of federal intervention. The Delaware law requires at least one dispensary per county, but they have been slow to open, with the first scheduled to open with only 150 marijuana plants.

New Hampshire passed a law in 2013 for medical marijuana, but the regulations were extremely strict. Allowing only four state-licensed dispensaries and approving just five medical condition for qualifications, most patients are unable to even apply for a medical marijuana card. With home grows illegal and more dispensaries not expected to open until January of 2016, patients are still left out in the cold until further revision.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into effect just two weeks ago allowing treatment of severe forms of epilepsy using high-CBD, low-THC cannabis oil. For patients to qualify for the medication, they must have already tried at least two traditional forms of epilepsy medication and been unsuccessful with each, along with securing approval from two separate doctors. This bill will join Texas with more than twelve other states that have legalized high-CBD forms of marijuana with little to no THC for medication of seizures. Unfortunately these styles of legalization are commonly dysfunctional due to a state failure to create proper regulations to provide medicine or relying on federal permission that will never appear due to marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance.


Indica or Sativa?

For anyone with even a passing interest in marijuana, be it medical or recreational, the two most common strains of are common knowledge: indica and sativa. What may be more difficult to discern, however, is which one is more beneficial for medicinal uses. Almost all current information is strictly anecdotal, but each strain does possess certain qualities that may steer consumers to their desired effect. Sativa is the larger of the two, possessing tall and leggy leaves that are usually rather sparse. While a sativa can be tall and round, it is typically long and lanky with thin leaves, while indica will grow in short bushy plants, almost having the appearance of a small shrub.

Of course, most people don’t consume cannabis for the looks, but for the effects. For those in search of large-scale pain relief or a sleep aid, indica strains will be the most common and beneficial choice. The high from indica has been noted as a comforting buzz that fills the entire body, offering calm relaxation and relief from stress. There do exist varieties of indica high in THC, which can push the effects from pleasant daze to an almost trance-like “couchlock” experience. Whereas indicas induce calming and peaceful effects, sativas sit at the other end of the spectrum, offering a high of optimistic thinking and neurological wellbeing. Sativa’s ability to make one more energetic or uplifted allows it to provide targeted pain relief rather than an all-encompassing effect. Much like indica’s more pure forms, a pure strain of sativa will possess a high THC content, which can trigger hallucinogenic effects. In terms of effectiveness, indicas are generally recommended for nocturnal use while sativas are considered to be at their best during the day, allowing one to function normally but still get relief from their pain.

Due to intense crossbreeding (both manmade and natural), the cannabis one receives from a dispensary is not either pure sativa or indica, but a hybrid of the two which can range widely in terms of how much of each strain is present within the plant. This allows treatment of a wider range of patients and conditions, because there is no one perfect strain of cannabis that can suit every patient’s needs.


But How Safe is Cannabis?

One of the most interesting attributes of cannabinoids is their unique safety record when weighed against other therapeutically active chemicals, most significantly their inability to be fatal upon overdose because they do not act as depressants for the central nervous system, unlike alcohol or opiates. The World Health Organization stated that the projected overdose amount would be physically impossible for users to even reach.

Also unlike opiates and alcohol, cannabinoids are largely nontoxic to healthy cells or organs, proven by a 40 year period of clinical studies and trials in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that found no increase in serious negative effects in marijuana consumers in relation to a control group, only noting dizziness as the most common non-serious negative effect. Newer trials have taken place after these findings and showed cannabinoids possessing not only neuroprotective properties against toxins, but an abundance of anti-cancer capabilities as well. The Institute of Medicine for the National Academy of Sciences reported that, aside from the adverse effects related to smoking, the possible harms from cannabis comply with parameters set for other medications and could be rated a relatively safe drug in comparison to other mainly recreational drugs.

Though it has been proven to be relatively safe, cannabis like all drugs is not completely harmless, as its psychoactive effects are still present in one form or another. Marijuana can alter mood, emotion and perception, thus consumers are advised to be fully aware of their state of being and surroundings prior to medication, and should not be used prior to driving or conducting any activities which require retention of new information. As with any therapy or medication, prospective patients should thoroughly consult their doctor on whether medical cannabis is appropriate for their condition and situation.

Cannabinoids vs Glioma

Glioma is widely regarded as one of the deadliest cancers to exist today, its aggressive tumors swiftly invading unaffected brain tissue and displaying extreme resistance to surgery and typical medical treatment. They are still affected by cannabinoids.

A 2005 investigation conducted by the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute reported that application of the THC cannabinoid on human glioblastoma multiforme cell lines markedly reduced the growth of malignant cells and caused apoptosis-also known as automated cell death-at a much quicker pace than application of a synthetic cannabis receptor agonist called WIN-55,212-2. THC was also recorded to target only malignant cells, completely ignoring healthy versions in a much more pronounced manner than the alternative synthetic. With other treatments, patients diagnosed with glioblatoma multiforme will usually die in less than three months without therapy.

The ability of CBD to fight glioma cell growth in a dose dependent manner has been proven through both in vitro and animal testing by research in Italy. Because of this, research is now being conducted in Spain to see whether intracranial administration of cannabinoids will increase the life expectancy of patients with inoperable brain cancer.

The journal Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry recently wrote that studies have proven the capability of THC and CBD to halt the advance of lung and skin carcinoma, leukemia and colectoral, prostate and breast cancer.

Your Brain and Cannabis

A study done in 2006 by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon made a startling discovery-the administration of synthetic cannabinoids into rats stimulated the growth of new nerve cells in the hippocampus portion of the brain and greatly reduced levels of anxiety and depression-based behaviors. The results came as such a surprise to many researchers because it had long been speculated that cannabis possessed the same potential to reduce neurogenesis as other drugs of abuse (alcohol, tobacco, etc.) yet was shown to have the exact opposite effect.

While it may be too soon to expedite the testing to human subject matter, the data does at least give body to the theory that cannabinoids are not toxic to the brain and that even long-term cannabis use may actually represent very little risk to brain function. The study also suggests that cannabinoids may have use in the relief of anxiety or depression, and that one day pharmacies may be able to offer safer and more effective alternatives to common anti-depressants.

In collaboration with modern studies disproving the idea that cannabis is neurotoxic, many recent findings have pointed towards cannabinoids actually possessing a neuroprotective nature, especially from brain damage caused by alcohol. A preclinical study conducted in 2006 by the US National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) found that administration of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol-or CBD-caused ethanol-induced brain cells death to drop by up to 60%. This study was the first to show CBD as a neuroprotectant in prevention of binge ethanol-induced brain injury, although scientists have known about marijuana’s neuroprotective nature since 1998. It was then that NIMH first discovered that natural cannabinoids could be used to fight the brain damaging effects of stroke or acute head trauma. Many studies have taken place since then, but the results of measuring the neuroprotective effects of synthetic cannabinoid medication in humans have remained inconclusive.


Does Medication Technique Matter?

The most standard method of cannabis application is through inhalation-either by cigarette, pipe, or vaporizer. These methods are most preferred by patients due to the immediate effects they impart after inhalation, making it easier to adjust dosage as needed or with preference. The effects will also be stronger immediately, offering much faster relief from such symptoms as pain and nausea.

Unfortunately a person is still ingesting smoke no matter the method of inhalation they choose, and it is possible for this smoke to be noxious. To date, however, all studies and research have failed to link inhalation of marijuana (even over extended periods of time) to the typical negative pulmonary effects of tobacco smoking. In fact, moderate cannabis smoking (or smoking at least one joint per day for seven years or one joint per week for 49 years) was shown to be completely unrelated to any negative pulmonary function by a study conducted in 2012 by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). Inhalation has also been shown to lack association with increased prevalence of various strains of cancer such as melanoma or breast cancer and no relation to tobacco-associated cancers such as lung cancer. The largest case-controlled study ever to investigate the respiratory effects of cannabis inhalation, held in 2006, confirmed the lack of association between marijuana and lung-related cancers, even in subjects who had reported smoking over 22,000 joints in their lifetimes. The study was initially hypothesized to show a positive link between lung cancer and marijuana use, but actually showed the reverse, even hinting at evidence of a protective effect on the user.

In the pipe variation of ingesting cannabis, especially in the water-pipe filtration system, the cannabis smoke is cooled to a comfortable level for the throat and lungs but unfortunately is ineffective at eliminating the toxic combustion byproducts. Because of this, many cannabis user choose to utilize a vaporizer instead, whose technology heats the plant enough to form cannabinoid vapors, but not enough for combustion. This allows consumers to experience the immediate effects of smoking while still avoiding the coughing and wheezing typical of smokers. Vaporization has been proven in multiple clinical studies to be a safe and effective delivery system for marijuana while also boasting a higher plasma concentration of THC than smoking.

Another method of cannabis medication and consumption is oral ingestion through foods or tinctures. These methods offer a much different and possibly more intense effects than inhalation, but the outcome is not felt until at least 45 minutes after ingestion. The dosage is therefore much more difficult to determine not only because of this delayed effect but also because orally consumed cannabinoids are typically much stronger and have longer-lasting effects than through inhalation. This more powerful result is mainly caused by how differently the human body metabolizes alternate forms of THC. Inhaled THC passes immediately from the lungs to the bloodstream and brain, but a large amount of THC ingested orally is changed into metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC before it enters the brain, which is considered more potent than standard THC and induces magnified physical and psychoactive effects due to a greater blood-brain penetrability.


Fighting Skin Cancer With Hemp Oil

It’s no strange fact that over 2 million Americans are diagnosed with one or more varieties of skin cancer each year, which also correlates to much more recognized cancers such as breast, prostate, colon and lung. Not only that, but recent studies have shown that one-fifth of Americans will contract skin cancer in their lifetimes, while one person dies from melanoma every hour in the United States alone.

Though these statistics are frightening to say the least, there is a ray of hope: Hemp oil. This oil, which is regarded by many to be a super food, contains omega 3 and 6, along with gamma linoleic acid (GLA). The concentration of GLA in hemp oil is 5% higher than any other plant in the world, while the acid itself is known to aid in relief from a range of medical disorders and conditions including breast and skin cancer. By boosting healthy cell growth, the GLA neutralizes cancer cells in the body naturally.

Hemp has been proven to fight and even eliminate skin cancer through application of its powerful nutrients and beneficial acids directly to the lesions symptomatic of skin cancer. To treat these lesions one must apply a healthy amount of oil to their surface and cover completely with a waterproof bandage. After three full days, they should then remove the bandage and clean the area with isopropyl alcohol, then repeat the process. The process should be repeated until two or three weeks after the lesion has completely disappeared from sight in order to completely neutralize the subcutaneous cancer cells.

Treating one of the most common cancers in America is just one of the amazing benefits of cannabis that has been discovered in the thousands of years it has been used as a medication for an incredible variety of conditions and diseases. Though illegal under federal law, the fact stands that almost nothing is as effective at curing one of the most common forms of cancer to date.


Multiuse Marijuana

Use of the marijuana plant has occurred throughout human history in a multitude of ways. While many today use the plant primarily as a mood enhancer, many types of cannabis (as well as parts of the plant) contain almost no psychoactive effects yet can be utilized for many other roles. As an example, high levels of essential amino acids and essential fatty acids from the ground seeds of the marijuana plant are able to be used to create a multitude of incredibly nutritious food. Bread, butter and oil are just a few of the many healthy choices to come from the seeds.

The seeds are not the only part of the cannabis plant that can be utilized in a positive way. The stalk of the sativa plant is usually harvested for its bast fiber reserves. This fiber is typically used in the creation of paper, clothes and rope in most industrialized nations. Along with such countries as Japan, Canada and Australia, the U.S. utilized low-THC species of cannabis to aid in its needs for World War II. At war’s end, however, the government issued a ban on all growth and domestic production of the cannabis plant.

While widely known for cannabis’ physiological effects, the cannabinoid THC is still the most studied of all the plant’s chemicals, since it brings the highest amount of mind-altering effects to the table. Its effects are not all negative, however, as THC has been shown to possess multiple therapeutic effects, including but not limited to pain relief, appetite stimulation and anti-spasticity. An FDA-approved appetite stimulant and anti-emetic for HIV/AIDS patients known as Dronabinol is currently available as a Schedule III substance. It contains an isolated stereoisomer of THC to obtain its stated effects. Many other non-psychotropic cannabinoids like CBD possess therapeutic capabilities as well, but unfortunately are still classified as illegal under federal law.