CBC (Cannabichromene): Emerging from the Shadows Into the Spotlight of Science

The more research that’s done on marijuana, the more interesting this wonderful plant becomes. We’ve all heard of the chemical compounds in cannabis known as cannabinoids, the therapeutic miracle workers, and we’ve also known that the two most talked about and most thoroughly studied cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). Well, it appears it’s time for these two stars to move over and share the spotlight with another cannabinoid that is fast becoming the toast of the marijuana research laboratories: Cannabichromene, or CBC.

While there have been over a hundred cannabinoids isolated in the marijuana plant so far, many of their individual functions are still unknown to scientists. Cannabichromene, however, has demonstrated several distinctive traits that indicate potential medicinal properties.

One of the benefits cannabichromene has exhibited, is its ability (and perhaps its fundamental purpose) to augment and even intensify the effects of THC. Some researchers have theorized that higher levels of CBC can boost the potency of a dominant THC strain of cannabis. Since CBC isn’t psychoactive like its cousin cannabinoid THC, it acts in conjunction with the THC to enhance its overall effect. This synergistic bonding of the two cannabinoids (along with other cannabinoids and terpenes) is important medicinally because it creates an even more vigorous pain reliever than either one could produce on their own without the aid or the entourage effect of its helper.

CBC is also being looked at quite seriously in regard to cancer research. The way it interacts with anandamide, which is a naturally occurring chemical neurotransmitter or messenger in the brain, shows great promise in the battle against cancer because it increases the ability of the immune system to use its own chemical compounds (like anandamide) to fight cancer.

CBC is one of those cannabinoids that acts as a catalyst when it is combined with other cannabinoids. When it mixes with other compounds an entourage effect or synergistic effect takes place. Synergy and the entourage effect are extremely important concepts when dealing with the medicinal effects of marijuana because researchers are noticing more and more that the way to get the most out of one cannabinoid is to blend it with another, different cannabinoid. The terms synergy and entourage effect basically mean that when you combine two or more components together, the resulting effect is more than the sum of their individual effects. In general, cannabinoids need other cannabinoids to bring out their full potential and the full range of medicinal healing powers.

Besides being a helper of sorts with other cannabinoids, CBC has also been shown to be able to galvanize bone growth and decrease inflammation. However, its real value apparently lies in its potential to fight cancer. And that in itself is bringing this hitherto unknown cannabinoid out of the shadows and into the limelight of marijuana research. CBC may one day outshine both THC and CBD – if we’re lucky.

The Interesting Entourage Effects of Cannabis

Have you ever wondered why individual strains of cannabis affect you differently?

While some types of marijuana make you feeling lethargic and half asleep, others give you a burst of creative energy allowing you to be active all day or into the night. There are hundreds of other specific reactions to pot depending on which variety you consume. All of this is definitely not rocket science but it is actually very scientific.

Many of the hippies and cannabis entrepreneurs from the 1960s “turned on, tuned in and dropped out” back then and moved up to Washington, Oregon and Northern California, and other places to escape the prying eyes of law enforcement and those who have no empathy for marijuana users. They began their own cannabis plantations and many of them have been experimenting with marijuana for decades. And by experimenting we mean they have been scientifically mixing and matching marijuana plants to come up with their version of what the ideal bud breed is.

Most people, when they classify a marijuana strain simply tell you it’s either sativa, indica or a hybrid of the two. One strain may be sativa-dominant , which means that the effects will be uplifting and move you to be creative, or it will be indica-dominant, which is just the opposite, that is, relaxing and sedating – you may doze off a bit. However, just because the strain is heavy on one versus the other, doesn’t tell us what’s really going on inside that bud you’re about to grind down to pop in your bowl. There’s a lot more to it than indica and sativa.

We’ve talked about cannabinoids and terpenes previously in this blog. Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds in marijuana that interact with the endocannabinoid system in our brains and bodies and can produce feelings of euphoria along with providing healing properties such as stopping pain and reducing epileptic seizures. Laboratory research scientists have uncovered over 80 cannabinoids in marijuana so far and currently, the most famous cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

Terpenes, the cannabinoid-like aromatic hydrocarbon compounds in marijuana, produce the unique fragrance of each marijuana plant. They also aid in the production of the plant’s resins, hormones, and pigments among other things. When certain terpenes are combined with specific cannabinoids, their focus and strength is much stronger than if they were operating alone.

The most famous terpene in marijuana is myrcene. It is found in a number of other plants such as mangos, lemon grass and hops. This terpene is a true medicinal element in cannabis because it’s not only an antiseptic and antimicrobial, but it is an antioxidant and anti-carcinogen also. Myrcene, by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, much like cannabinoids do, can regulate the permeable membranes of the cells, thus controlling the amount of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids that get into the cells. This terpene “helper” allows the effectiveness of the medicinal cannabinoid, whether it is the pain reliever THC or the epileptic seizure stopper CBD to do its job more powerfully than if the cannabinoid had to travel alone to the body’s receptors. This synergistic effectiveness between Cannabinoids and terpenes has been documented in several studies: GW Pharmaceuticals in 2008, The University of Jordan in 2007, and a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects.” The study concluded by saying, terpenes have been found to have medical efficacy typically considered to be delivered only by cannabinoids.

So, in the future, you may see cannabis strains labeled very specifically with all the things you could ever want for your medicinal and recreational needs. The pot strain may be sativa-dominant with a small amount of THC and a large helping of CBD, along with a high percentage of myrcene for added synergistic effect. That day may not be too far away because the government is getting close to decriminalizing cannabis, which means that there will be more research being done on developing the perfect bud just for you.

Anandamide: The Brain’s THC

Anandamide is an endogenous neurotransmitter, which simply means that it is a naturally occurring chemical messenger in the brain. This recently recognized neurotransmitter was named after the ancient Sanskrit word ananda, which means “bliss.”

Neurotransmitters are called messengers because they travel from neurons to the receptors of other neurons (nerve cells) with chemical “messages” that tell the neurons which body and brain tasks to regulate. The receptors have to be a perfect fit for the neurotransmitters to bind to or the message won’t be received; absolutely nothing will happen.

On the other hand, when there is a perfect fit between neurotransmitter and the receptor on the neuron, they will bind together and the message will be received and the instructed task will be achieved. It’s very similar to handheld radios. Both people holding the radios must be on the same wavelength, that is, their radio dials have to be set to the exact same number in order for one person to send a message and for the other one to receive it. If they are not on the same channel then there is no communication at all because there is not a perfect fit.

Naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain have specific jobs or tasks and each neurotransmitter regulates different functions in the body and the brain. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters that help the body manage stress. Dopamine plays the role of reward-giver to nerve cells and thus, to the body and the brain. Serotonin regulates learning, sleep, and mood. All of these neurotransmitters fit snuggly into their targeted receptors so they are successful in accomplishing their intended functions.

Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that is important in memory, appetite, pain and depression, along with fertility. This neurotransmitter is now understood to trigger the receptors that allow the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana to bind with its receptors in the brain. Anandamide, by way of its streamlined structure, is also capable of passing through the blood/brain barrier on its own. Even though it is named after the word for “bliss” it doesn’t produce a very long or sustained euphoric mood or high because it is short-lived and quite delicate in its makeup.

Recent studies on animals and anandamide point to this neurotransmitter producing forgetfulness. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however, because it has pushed researchers forward into testing substances that might keep anandamide from targeting and binding to its receptors. That, of course, would be a huge breakthrough in the treatment of expanding human memory capability and treating the loss of memory.

Anandamide has also been discovered in dark chocolate! Yes, that is exciting and it explains a great deal. Our feelings of well-being and even elation when we eat dark chocolate are brought on by the release of the naturally occurring anandamide in the chocolate itself. Once the anandamide binds with its perfectly fitted receptor in the brain then we get a taste (no pun intended) of a THC high. We also get a rush from a dopamine release, which makes us a bit euphoric.

Based on this news you shouldn’t run out and buy a pound of dark chocolate to get high on. First of all, it won’t be good for your digestion and secondly, you would need over twenty pounds of that exotic treat to duplicate a real and sustained THC high. However, by the time you ate a pound of dark chocolate, which would be tasty for the first few bites, you would probably already be in the emergency room wishing you were somewhere else. So, listen to your neurotransmitters closely, and remember to always be moderate when searching for your bliss.

THC and CBD Are Synergistic Pain Relievers

Chronic pain can be quite debilitating and slow your life down to a crawl. As the opioid addiction problem in this country soars to epidemic proportions, doctors are prescribing less of the dangerously habit-forming painkillers and are seeking other avenues of pain relief for their patients. Since more data on the positive pain relieving effects of marijuana are becoming available more and more people who live with chronic pain are moving toward marijuana to mitigate their physical distress.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that continues to confirm the efficacy of marijuana as a potent pain reliever. People who have back pain and other types of protracted discomfort have had great success in reducing and even alleviating the misery that the recurrent pain has brought to their lives. Cannabis is highly effective for hundreds of thousands of people and now that marijuana is legal in many states, more and more scientific studies are telling us why it works.

As we know from past blogs, the cannabinoids are the important elements in cannabis that affect the body. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are currently the two main cannabinoids and the ones that are the most focused on in clinical research studies.  THC has been the cannabinoid that has been researched the longest, since 1964, and it is the psychoactive compound in the herb. THC also has other medicinal qualities such as – pain relief, treatment of nausea and vomiting, the stimulation of appetite, improves breathing in asthmatics, relieves eye pressure in glaucoma patients and it induces sleep.

CBD is not psychoactive (you don’t get high when ingesting it), and it is an anti-inflammatory, stress reducer, anti-epileptic, anti-anxiety, anti-biotic, and is also used for treating pain, although it is not quite as effective as its cousin THC in fighting pain. Both THC and CBD are true marvels of natural medicine. They both have their purpose and each one works on different ailments in the body.

When used together, however, THC and CBD have a synergistic effect. The CBD actually cuts down on or subdues the potential high and psychoactive reaction one might get from a THC heavy tincture or bud. The combination of the two cannabinoids also produce a real calming effect, which may appeal to medical patients or older users who are averse to the side-effects or the paranoiac feelings that can come with too much THC. To put it simply, CBD helps balance out the stronger psychoactive attributes of THC, while providing pain relief and other very positive health benefits.

CBD and THC can now be isolated from other cannabinoids in the marijuana plant and are available in blends or can be purchased separately in oil or tincture form. There are also many strains of marijuana that are available that either have more THC or more CBD in them, whichever the user is more comfortable with. THC is the main pain reliever in marijuana but CBD is a wonderful compliment to it. So, if you are trying to reduce your pain, you may want to buy a strain or tincture or oil that is a 50/50 mixture of both cannabinoids or one that has slightly more THC in it. If, however, you don’t want to get high every time you medicate yourself with cannabis, start with a strain that has a higher percentage of CBD in it with just a small amount of THC. That will keep you in a euphoric mood as it cuts down on inflammation and pain. Whatever you do, don’t worry, because there is an ideal strain out there just for you and your pain.

 

Cannabigerol (CBG): Another Miracle Cannabinoid

There’s a new marshal in town and its name is CBG, otherwise known as cannabigerol. We’ve heard a lot about several of the more famous of the 80 or so other cannabinoids found in marijuana, but we seldom, if ever hear about CBG. That’s because THC and CBD have taken and maintained their positioning in the spotlight of the pantheon of healing cannabinoids found naturally in the cannabis plant.

THC, (tetrahydrocannabinol) of course, is the main psychoactive element in the pot plant and it has some enormous medical benefits, including pain relief, relieving PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, emotional turmoil and nightmares. CBD, (cannabidiol), the most widely studied and reviewed cannabinoid, has surprised the world with its fantastic and almost unbelievable effects on epileptic patients and the amazing reduction of seizures in those sufferers. CBD also has been shown to have great anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety properties along with being quite useful in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and the lessening of cancer pain.

CBG, although it is found in lower concentrations in the marijuana plant than its cousins THC and CBD, it is much more plentiful in the hemp plant. Growers have  discovered, however, that if they harvest the marijuana buds earlier than usual the THC and CBD concentrations will be lower and the CBG extracts will be much greater. Don’t you just love those marijuana growers and their inquisitive minds and sense of experimentation?

CBG has been studied by a number of researchers including an Italian team in 2013 that identified several ways this cannabinoid can be helpful in the medical world. One major discovery was its anti-inflammatory effects, especially on patients afflicted with inflammatory bowel syndrome. They found that CBG markedly reduced the inflammation of the intestine and thus reduced the discomfort and pain of the person who was distressed by the malady. Another research project involving CBG was published in the Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics journal demonstrated stunning benefits for glaucoma sufferers. The CBG reduced internal pressure on the eye and allowed increased eye fluid drainage, which eased the symptoms and the pain of glaucoma.

CBG has also been found to reduce nausea and have anti-emetic effects, that is, it stops a person from vomiting. Research has also demonstrated that CBG can actually slow the growth and spread of skin tumor cells and the Italian researchers have seen indications that CBG could suppress the progression of colon cancer. Other studies on CBG reveal that it is an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, pain reliever, stimulates the growth of brain cells and promotes bone growth.

CBG will soon have the ability and the clout to take center stage as far as medical applications go in the cannabis plant. It has been ignored long enough and is on its way to being on an equal footing with THC and CBD. Its reputation as one of the most important curative ingredients in this most wonderful of all natural herbs is growing rapidly, to say the least. Keep your eyes peeled for more information and new findings on this awesome cannabinoid, CBG

Cannabis Topicals

Cannabis seems to be the plant with the most innovative potential these days. Ever since the states began to decriminalize it, entrepreneurs have been coming up with new ways to market and use its healing properties. Smoking the medicinal herb has always been an option and adding it to your mom’s old-fashioned brownie recipe has been a staple for decades. But then there are those really creative cannabis connoisseurs cum impresarios who have concocted edible pieces of art that resemble the finest chocolates and sweets available at only the finest confectioners’ shops. Artistry at its finest. Just look around at your dispensary’s display shelves and you’ll usually see all types of food products with interesting names and colorful packing, all with some amount of marijuana in their list of ingredients.

Lately, besides all the yummy cannabis edibles that are at hand, a new way to benefit your body from this most wonderful herb has been storming the country: cannabis topicals.

As we’ve mentioned in other blogs, the cannabis plant contains more than 80 known cannabinoids, which are the chemical compounds in marijuana like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) that make medical marijuana such a healing plant. Research is ongoing for many of the cannabinoids and the two superstars just mentioned have been in the spotlight for the last few years because more research has been done on them than any other cannabinoid. THC is a proven pain remedy along with relieving pressure in glaucoma patients. It also makes breathing easier for asthma sufferers and stimulates the appetite in those that have HIV/AIDS and are undergoing chemotherapy. CBD is used for preventing seizures in epileptic patients, decreasing anxiety and reducing cancer pain.

CBD is now being used extensively in body-care products because of its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and cell-regenerative properties. According to Vogue Magazine, CBD in lotions and body creams “can bring localized benefits without detectable brain buzz,” brought on by the use of THC, which is the psychoactive element in cannabis. Many of those lotions and creams soothe painful spots on the body and fight eczema, aging skin and acne.

Another cannabinoid that manufacturers are infusing their body creams and salves with is CBG (Cannabigerol). This cannabinoid is non-psychoactive and is a great anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory that is used as a preventative and healing mouthwash.

One entrepreneur who has an Oregon-based body care company says that although she ships CBD-only products throughout the country, formulas that also contain THC are much more effective because of the entourage effect. That is, a synergistic effect occurs where the overall effect is greater that the sum of its parts. She can ship her products because the CBD comes from hemp, which is legal; it’s a federal offense to ship a schedule 1 drug, which is what marijuana is still classified.

Now that innovators, scientists and entrepreneurs are pushing the envelope a little more each day, who knows what the next cannabis-based products will be. Do you have any ideas?

Hashishene – The New Name For A New Terpene

One of the fun parts of writing is all the reading and research that has to be done in order to complete the blog or article. What?! Yes, I said that was the fun part, even though we know that a lot of people might think it’s a crazy thing to say. Okay, let’s rephrase it: One of the fun parts of writing is all the learning that comes with it. How’s that? Okay.

So, reading about terpenes, (we’ve written about them in some earlier blogs) has opened up new doors to our knowledge of how cannabis is structured and what effects they may have. We learned why different strains of marijuana taste and smell the way they do (because of terpenes) and that some terpenes have unique properties that have been shown to have highly medicinal benefits to them. Scientists have isolated over a hundred terpenes in cannabis, and their continuing research, there’s that word again, is turning up some very interesting results.

Without going too deep into the heavy scientific language that is used in sterile research laboratories, we’ll try to explain in layman’s terms what a certain study discovered and why they named a new terpene Hashishene.

Myrcene, also known as β-myrcene, (beta-myrcene), as we have posted about before, is one of the most abundant chemical elements and also one of the most important terpenes in cannabis. When ingested, it produces analgesic effects (pain relief) and sedative effects along with being a great anti-inflammatory. Myrcene is also found in hops, lemongrass and mangos, and that’s why pot and mangos as well as beer and weed go so well together. Drinking lemongrass tea can also take the edge off of bodily pain and inflamed joints and muscles because of the myrcene in it.

So, hashishene is what some French researchers have dubbed the new terpene that β-myrcene transforms into through the process of making hash. During the extraction and concentration of trichomes and terpenes from the bud of the cannabis plant, photo-oxidation occurs, that is, oxidation caused by light. This action changes β-myrcene into a brand new terpene that the scientists have dubbed hashishene.

The process of making hash from fresh or dried buds, produces clear differences in the terpene profile. The hash samples that were analyzed clearly showed the new terpene, hashishene, to be exclusive to the hash and not in the marijuana that it was derived from, even though the new terpene was definitely transformed from the source marijuana and its myrcene. It is as though a new species of terpene has developed or mutated through a man-made process of extracting, concentrating and then allowing the resins from the terpenes and trichomes to oxidize by immersing them in light. It sounds so simple and yet something new has been discovered.

The scientists are certainly happy with this discovery and they are now investigating the potential of this myrcene derivative to see what super medicinal qualities it may hold for us in the future. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why this new terpene has gotten a name for itself: hashishene.

A Step Into The World of Medicinal Mushrooms

Most of us, hopefully all of us, have been cautioned about picking and eating wild mushrooms when we’re out on a hike or just appreciating nature. The care and attention our guardians warned us of the dangers of some mushrooms, should be applauded and taken seriously because it may have save our lives. The only thing they left out when they lovingly told us about ‘bad’ wild mushrooms is that there are a great deal of ‘good’ mushrooms out there that taste great and enhance meals but that also have a multitude of health benefits.

There are over 10,000 mushroom species and what most people aren’t aware of is that only about 100 of those are toxic and should be avoided at all costs because of their virulent effects. That leaves over 9,900 or so species of mushrooms that are quite consumable and that possess a number of wonderful qualities for our bodies and taste buds. The most common mushroom consumed by Americans is the button mushroom. Steve Farrar, who is one of the country’s top mushroom experts, says that we devour around 900 million pounds of mushrooms each year. That’s a lot of mushrooms! And about 95% of those tasty little fungi are the button mushrooms, along with two of its cousins, the Portobello and the Crimini.

The button mushroom is a low-calorie food that contains protein, B vitamins, vitamin D2 and enzymes, while the Portobello has plenty of fiber, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and niacin, (B vitamins) potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, and selenium. The Crimini mushrooms are a good source of vitamin B-12, which is hard to get in a vegetarian diet, and it also provides calcium, iron selenium and is a great source of protein and fiber.

Some other mushrooms, among many others, that are used in foods and ingestible not only for their unique taste but for medicinal qualities are Shitake, Reishi, Turkey Tail and Himematsutake mushroom. They can be eaten raw or cooked and these and other beneficial mushrooms are being used in concentrates and extracts for their pharmacological effects.

Shitake mushrooms can be found in gourmet kitchens and also in an herbologist’s medicine cabinet. Shitake contains lentinan, which is used to treat stomach and other cancers with its anti-tumor properties. It also fights anemia, ulcers, gallstones and has been discovered to protect the liver. Shitake is an antibacterial and antiviral, and can stabilize blood sugar and it contains eritadenine, which tends to lower cholesterol.

Reishi mushrooms have been around as a medicinal for thousands of years in Asia. In China, it is known as lingzhi, the ‘spirit plant.’ It can reduce prostate symptoms and regulate immune systems. The Reishi mushroom is an antiviral that has shown positive results with Herpes and Epstein-Barr viruses – along with being an antifungal, which works on Candida. Reishi has been used as an anti-inflammatory and has been shown to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. This great mushroom also helps regulate and normalize blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The Turkey Tail mushroom is also known as the “cloud mushroom” or Coriolis. This magnificent fungus is one of the most studied of all medicinal mushrooms and has been in many clinical trials. The NIH the National Institute of Health, an official United States government agency, poured several million dollars into clinical research of the Turkey tail in 2011 and found that the mushroom, when given daily to women with stage I-III breast cancer, actually improved their immune function. One of the polysaccharides in Turkey Tail, PSP, was shown to improve the immune system in 70 to 97 percent of cancer patients. This fantastic mushroom is being used to treat a host of other maladies, including, Herpes, E. coli, HIV, Candida and Pneumonia.

Himematsutake mushrooms are very popular in Japan and are used medicinally by hundreds of thousands of residents in that island nation. Scientists are just finding out how powerful this fungus is especially for its anti-cancer effects, along with protecting the body from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. It is also being studied for the potential medicinal benefits of treating polio, improving skin and hair, regulating cholesterol and helping diabetics become less insulin resistant.

So, next time you walk through the produce department in your favorite health food store (they usually have a wider selection of mushrooms than supermarkets) reach out and take a risk – try a new mushroom once a week and see what happens. You might not only find that your taste buds will thank you, but maybe your immune system will be smiling too.

Growing Tip Number 141: Location is Key

We’ve already talked about how outdoor and greenhouse grows are the best in so many ways, but an important factor in both outdoor and greenhouse cultivation is the choice of location. Location, location, location. Yes, we all know those famous words about real estate and they also apply to cultivating cannabis if it’s an outdoor or greenhouse grow. Humboldt County, California, is a great location for growing marijuana, no doubt, it is part of the legendary Emerald Triangle that encompasses three northern counties in California, Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity. People have been cultivating cannabis there since the 1960s and it is, according to the Field Guide to California Agriculture, “likely the largest value crop (by far) in the state’s lineup.” In 2013, Emerald Triangle cannabis was estimated to be worth over $30 billion, and that was just the outdoor product, indoor grows weren’t even included in that figure. The monetary value of all that pot was worth more than the top 10 legal crops that California farms produce and California is the top agricultural producer in the United States.

A couple of years ago some growers bought some land in Humboldt County along the Eel River about thirty miles south of Eureka. It was beautiful country surrounded by Redwoods and only 500 feet from the river. They laid out the property for several RVs, a urt and growing space for two-hundred cannabis plants. 140 of those would be strictly outdoor plants and the remaining 60 would be tended to in homemade greenhouses. Clones were potted, fertilized, watered and re-potted as they got larger and the greenhouses had fans at either end to control airflow. The weather was perfect and after a while all that was needed to maintain the thriving herbs was watering on a regular basis.

The greenhouse plants grew at just about the same rate of speed and girth and height as the outdoor ones and as the growers walked through their wondrous garden admiring their very healthy trees, they couldn’t help but smile at each other because of the success of their endeavor. The buds started to form and the gardeners started to get ready for the harvest, which would come fast once the buds reached a certain size. They readied the drying racks and the dehumidifiers, along with calling friends who would be the trimmers for that particular harvest, which was going to be huge. Two plants matured before all the others and the limbs were cut off and the branches were dried and the buds were trimmed. They were perfect and they yielded high-quality cannabis with better than average levels of THC. They each gave up two pounds of high-grade trimmed pot.

One morning the growers were sleeping dreamily when they were awakened by loud shouts to “Get Up! Come out Here!” by one of the partners. They all came rushing outside to see that he had two branches in his hand that apparently had just been cut off of one of the trees. “Look at this,” he said solemnly. As they gardeners all leaned in to look, they saw black mold covering some of the buds. “It’s mold,” he said. “It’s mold.”

One of the guys jumped to action and yelled, “What are we waiting for? Let’s go!” Everyone knew what he meant and ran to catch up with him as he bolted to the two hundred plants. He told everybody to go to different groups of trees and start checking them out. If they found mold on any of them they were to cut the whole tree down and toss it over to an area that was far away from the other plants. One of the farmers started digging a hole where the moldy plants were being thrown and when it was deep enough he tossed the bad plants into it to keep them from infecting the good ones. The other partners were frantically rushing from plant to plant to see if any of them could be saved. It was like firefighters trying to fight an unbeatable, fast-spreading wildfire.

Two hours later saw the gardeners sitting down for a breather and none of them looked very happy. There were only about ten or twelve plants standing and the rest filled the several new holes that were dug to isolate the bad from the good. As they drank their coffee, one of them got up and walked over to inspect the still upright plants. He walked from tree to tree, looking carefully at each branch before moving on to another one. When he came back, he slowly brought his coffee cup to his lips and quietly said, “They all have mold.”

The growers had a good start with their two hundred plants and initially, it looked as though they had everything going for them – good source material (the clones), terrific weather and a great piece of land for their legal grow. The constant moisture from the river, however, popped their happy balloon and gave them one of the major disappointments of their lives. There was just too much humidity in the air. They did have the four pounds from the first two plants they harvested, though. But after selling those, the only thing the money was able to cover was the cost of the clones, the fertilizer, water, and the plastic sheeting for the greenhouses. The idea that mold could poison their harvest so quickly and so overwhelmingly never even occurred to them. While it’s difficult to approach people and ask them if marijuana can grow in an area, perhaps a bit more research into humidity, growing next to a river, etc. may have provided some much-needed information for these growers and saved them not only heartbreak but also financial loss.

Good luck next time.

INDOOR VS. SUNGROWN

When I first started looking into the comparisons of indoor grows vs. outdoor and greenhouse grows I was surprised at all the differing opinions that were out there. Many of them felt one type of growth was better than the other because of the quality of the end product and others were convinced that the most natural way was the only method for a self-sustaining industry to continue in a sane business manner. Once I started digging into the subject (no pun intended) I began discovering some interesting information. By the way, we are not talking about or including in this conversation the destructiveness of illegal outdoor grows on public lands. In order to keep those illegal grows hidden from the view of sheriff deputies in helicopters and Fish and Game officers, along with the DEA, the uncaring and greedy growers destroy water resources, local creeks and the toxic fertilizers and pesticides they use completely destroy the environment. We are concerned with legal grows and in seeing which is ecologically better: greenhouses and outdoor grows or indoor cultivation.

If you drive on certain little-used roads in several counties in Northern California, Oregon and Washington State you will see more than a fair share of legal grows standing right out in the open air for everyone to notice. The first two or three grows you glance at will leave your mouth open with surprise because there are so many healthy cannabis plants concentrated in one area. But then as you cruise along and see even more of those beautiful green trees, the novelty will soon wear off. You’ll also notice greenhouses all along those back streets that are made of PVC plastic pipe covered with plastic and shaped like Quonset huts.

These growers, if they have all the required paperwork that allows them to be legal state marijuana growers don’t really have to worry about helicopters spying on them. Once they show their documents to the officials who ask for them they can go back to being cannabis farmers again. The DEA will generally only bother growers if they have more than several hundred plants on their site because they just don’t want to be bothered with small busts anymore – they don’t have the time or the manpower. The local cops are only concerned if you have more plants than your paperwork says you should have – otherwise, they will pretty much leave you alone.

What I learned about indoor grows, and you won’t see any of those while you’re driving on any road or in any state, is that they leave an enormous carbon footprint. Cultivating marijuana indoors takes a lot of energy; high voltage lights, large fans, which control air regulation, and temperature and humidity monitors all use up monstrous energy loads. Legal outdoor grows, on the other hand, don’t use any electricity because they don’t need heavy-duty lighting equipment – they use free energy from the sun. They also depend on the natural air circulation that nature provides and once the shoots are planted (with natural, organic and safe fertilizer and pesticides) little care is needed except for regular watering.

It has been said recently that as much as 10% of Denver’s electricity is going toward indoor grow operations, which continues to increase yearly. Ten percent may or may not sound like a lot for a population of over 700,000, but that means that electricity normally used by 70,000 people goes directly into producing indoor marijuana. To make this concept more understandable, some experts put the cost of electricity for large indoor grows at around $750 per pound of cannabis produced, which, when extended out to a minimum of 100 pounds per growing season, and indoor grows can have several harvests each year, comes to $75,000 spent just on electricity for each harvest. That represents a colossal expenditure of natural resources such as coal and natural gas, which when burned, produces tons of carbon dioxide, which then creates greenhouse gasses and a large carbon footprint, which moves us closer toward global warming.

Carbon footprint: The total amount of greenhouse gasses caused by an individual, organization or event.

Greenhouse cultivators can cut that cost down by 50 to 75% depending on the size of the greenhouse and yet their strains are every bit as good if not better than the indoor brands. They can produce great cannabis at a fraction of the cost of production of the indoor process and create a much smaller carbon footprint, which is better for the environment. Outdoor grows cut the electricity costs by 100% and if done conscientiously, they leave little to no carbon footprint behind. And the quality of legal outdoor grows has never been challenged because the end product is so organically satisfying. Plus, as an incidental bonus, outdoor and greenhouse cultivators’ profit margins shoot way up in comparison to indoor productions cannabis because of their negligible electricity consumption.

Caveat emptor = buyer beware. Since it’s not practical for each end user of cannabis to witness the process of their marijuana supplier, he or she should at least ask basic questions about their product. “How was this grown? Is this product from an indoor grow or was it grown outdoors or in a greenhouse?” This should be standard procedure when purchasing marijuana if you care about the environment. Dispensaries with integrity will welcome these questions because they have nothing to hide and their outdoor and greenhouse grows are not hurting their environment – or yours.