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CANNABIS 101

Statements made below regarding cannabis and its ingredients/products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These ingredients/products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

Where do I obtain my Medical Cannabis?

 

In the State of Florida, all cannabis is sold/dispensed by dispensaries called Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs). We are a medical office and can only assist you in obtaining the certificate that is required. We do not dispense and are not an MMTC. For a current list of MMTCs please click here for the State of Florida site.

 

Does cannabis give the same effects to everyone?

 

No. The experience someone has using cannabis can be different from person to person. That is because unlike medications, you body actually has receptors for the compounds in cannabis. Humans, as well as other creatures, have an endocannabinoid system. The cannabis plant is full of phytocannabinoids. When we consume the plant cannabinoids they attach to the receptors and in turn cause the desired effects. Receptors can be different from person to person. Someone that is already using cannabis will have an increased amount of active receptors.

 

This is why if you are first beginning to utilize cannabis you should always "start low and go slow". Start with lower dosages and give your body 2-3 days to increase the active receptors before you changes dosages. Every time you change dosages give it 2-3 days to see if it works for you.

 

 

What is the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?

 

Hemp and Marijuana are varieties of the Cannabis plant. To be called Hemp, the variety must contain 0.3% or lower THC content. The Hemp plant is grown primarily for CBD and also for any of its over 50,000 different uses such as: clothing and other textiles; rope, carpeting and other industrial textiles; paper and packaging; seeds and oils for food; paints, inks, insulation and other building materials; soaps, shampoos, lotions, cosmetics and other body care items.

 

The Marijuana variety of the Cannabis plant contains more than 0.3% THC and is used for the effects it causes described below.

 

Marijuana plants can be male or female. The marijuana that is consumed comes from the buds of only the female plant.

 

 

Is it Indica or Sativa?

 

This nomenclature is actually an outdated way of talking about the plant strains or cultivars. All plant cultivars come from Cannabis sativa. It is actually the compounds within the cultivar that cause the effects. The terms Indica and Sativa were used to describe the effects you would get from them. Sativa effects are known for being more cerebral, uplifting and energizing. Whereas Indica effects are known for being relaxing, sedating and giving a body high. We now understand  the difference between a cultivar being labeled Sativa or Indica is actually the compounds within the plant, primarily the terpenes. The terms Indica and Sativa are still being used but when used, they should be used in the context of a cultivar being Sativa-like or Indica- like, or Sativa or Indica dominant. This infers the cultivar has a particular terpene profile.

 

 

What cultivars / strains of cannabis are there to purchase?

 

We will discuss the terpenes below, which is where the actual effects come from, but the terms Sativa, Indica and Hybrid are still being utilized to describe what you can purchase. If you see a cultivar/strain labeled as Sativa or Sativa dominant, they mean it contains the terpene profile that causes a cerebral or head high and imparts an energizing or uplifting effect. This is what makes it a better cultivar/strain for daytime usage.

 

An Indica or Indica dominant cultivar/strain means it contains the terpene profile that causes a body high, often referred to as "couch-lock" and is often used because of it's muscle relaxation, stress relief and all around calming effects. Best used in the evening or night and very good for sleep. Also good for acute pain and muscle spasms.

 

There is also a Hybrid cultivar/strain. These cultivars/strains mean they have both Indica and Sativa qualities. Whichever cultivar/strain is more dominant, those are the effects that will be more pronounced. These are typically used to obtain a combination of effects according to your needs.

 

What is THC?

 

THC or tetrahydrocannabinoid is one of the main cannabinoids that causes psychoactivity ot the "high feeling" associated with its usage. In the plant the majority of THC is in the form of THC-A. THC-A is not psychoactive. THC-A becomes THC by using heat. This is why the flower form of the plant is smoked or vaped. Cooking with flower will also convert THC-A to THC. THC-A does have beneficial effects and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, good for nausea as well as seizures. THC, besides giving the high, is good for things such as pain relief, sleeping, muscle relaxation and has been known to have anti-cancer properties.

 

 

What is CBD?

 

CBD can be derived from both varieties of the cannabis plant, Hemp and Marijuana. If derived from the Hemp plant the THC content will be 0.3% or less. If derived from the marijuana plant it typically has 0.3% or higher THC. Only CBD derived from the Hemp plant is legal for over the counter sales. CBD is good for its anti-inflammatory effects as well as utilized to decrease pain, reduce anxiety, improves mood, decreases neurogenic pain and has also helped with combating additions.

 

 

What are Terpenes?

 

Terpenes are highly aromatic compounds found in items such as plants, fruits and trees and it is what makes their scent and taste. They also open up the barrier to the brain to allow the cannabis compounds to penetrate more easily. It is the terpenes that actually make the cannabis product what it is. There are over 144 known terpenes in cannabis and each one has specific effects. Below are some of the most common terpenes and their

 

Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant. The amount of myrcene in the plant is what makes it either a Sativa or Indica dominant variety. Plants with over 0.5 % are typically considered Indica dominant. It has a strong ability to penetrate the blood brain barrier and therefore allows the cannabinoids to take effect in the body more quickly. Its effects include anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relief) and sedative. It is also found in mangoes, hops, bay leaves, thyme, lemongrass and basil.

 

Terpineol has a pleasant floral aroma and is commonly used in such things as cosmetics, perfumes and flavorings. It has been suggested to have strong anti-fungal properties as well as anti-inflammatory. It has the ability to enhance skin penetration, making it valuable for topically applied medications or remedies.

 

Linalool is found in floral and herb-likes plants. It is most commonly found in lavender. It is found in perfumes, soap and fragrance-based products. In higher quantities it has been found to have anti-inflammatory and pain managing properties. When inhaled it exerts calming and sedative effects as well as showing increased social interaction and lessened aggressive behavior. The anti-inflammatory effects would be good for illnesses such as Crohn's,asthma, arthritis and Alzheimer's.

 

Terpinolene has a sweet, pine-like aroma and naturally found in apples, lilacs, lemon, cumin, rosemary and sage. A primary effect is its sedative properties, especially when inhaled. It also has anti-bacterial and ant-fungal properties. It is most commonly found in sativa-dominant strains.

 

Geraniol has a floral, citrusy scent, and as the name suggests, is found in geraniums. It is a natural insect repellent and is being studied for treatment of neuropathy (nerve damage). It is often used to increase the effects of other terpenes.

 

Limonene is one of the most common terpenes in nature. It is highly concentrated in citrus fruit rinds and is responsible for their aromatic scent. Often used in bath products, air-fresheners and as a flavoring agent. Its medicinal benefits include aiding digestion, alleviating depression and it has anti-bacterial properties. It has also been shown to have anti-proliferative properties, meaning it can help prevent the spread of malignant cells. This makes it very promising for cancer treatment research. It also is credited for being a weight loss aid due to its appetite suppressant characteristics. It promotes an overall uplift in mood.

 

Pinene occurs naturally in two forms, alpha and beta. Alpha-pinene is found in pine resin and conifer trees. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can also be used as a topical antiseptic as well as has bronchodilator effects (opens the airways). It has also been known to improve memory. Beta-pinene is primarily found in allspice but also in ginger, nutmeg, mace, rosemary, lime peel, fennel and sage. It has strong anti-bacterial properties. Some studies suggest that when combined with Linalool it can have antidepressant properties. Pinene has also been shown to reduce the size of some cancerous tumors.

 

Caryophyllene has a peppery scent and often found in spices such as black pepper and clove. It is reported to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as being anti-fungal and antiseptic, which is why it is often found in topicals and salves. It does have a unique property of only binding to CB2 receptors and not CB1 receptors in the body. Because of this property it has no psychoactive effects.

 

Humulene is best known for giving beer its hops smell. It is also found in ginseng, sage and sunflowers. It has been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as having appetite suppressant properties.

 

Carene has a sweet and earthy aroma with piney undertones. It is found in basil, rosemary, bell pepper and cedar. It is used in cosmetics abd perfumes and is widely considered a natural antihistamine. It is commonly associated with the dry mouth and eye redness associated with cannabis usage. It may be an effective contributor towards combating fibromyalgia, arthritis and osteoporosis in addition to possibly promoting memory retention and mental sharpness.

 

 

What is decarboxylation?

 

Cannabis flower does not contain active delta 9 THC, which is the main psychoactive component. It contains the precursor form THCA.  Decarboxylation or "decarb" is the process that converts THCA to delta 9 THC. This conversion occurs with the use of heat. It will occur when smoking or vaping flower as well as when flower is heated in cooking. Flower can also be decarboxylated by using a device made for this purpose, or by placing it in an oven for a set period of time and temperature. THCA can be consumed in the flower form and does have its own benefits. It has been known to be anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, anti-emetic for treatment of nausea and appetite loss, and anti-proliferative for the treatment of prostate and other cancers.

 

 

What methods can I use to consume cannabis?

 

There are multiple methods that can be used to consume cannabis. Each has its own specific usage, pros and cons.

 

When inhaled by smoking or  vaping, the effects may be  felt within 1-2 minutes. This is the quickest route of administration but has the shortest span of effect, approximately 2 hours.  If smoked you will be inhaling the products of combustion. This includes tars and any carcinogenic chemicals, the rolling paper if used, the product itself as it turns to ash, and the lighter fluid used to start the combustion. Vaping on the other hand does not produce products of combustion. Vaping heats the product like a convection oven producing vapors. The flower product is never combusted and does not turn to ash. Consuming flower is the original method that has been used for centuries. There are over 400 compounds in the flower, which are not contained in the consumed products that have been extracted from the flower (vapes, concentrates, etc..). It is felt that by consuming whole flower there is an "entourage effect". This is the idea that all the compounds together in nature interact in a useful way and provide the benefits of what nature intended. Inhalation is useful for acute pain, muscle spasm, anxiety, getting to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night or any issue that requires immediate effects with a short duration.

 

Shatter is a type of cannabis extract that is gold or amber-colored and essentially shatters like a piece of glass. It is considered an inhalation product. The main benefits are that it is very fast acting and has increased potency. It is usually vaporized or "dabbed". Dabbing is the traditional way to use shatter and requires the user to place pieces of the shatter on a hot surface, which then vaporizes the shatter for inhalation.

 

Oral methods consist of edibles (not yet available in Florida), capsules, liquids, concentrates or anything else that you swallow. Being oral products must go through your gastrointestinal tract, they take longer to be effective, about 1 hour, but last longer, up to 6-8 hours. Concentrates are very concentrated oil based products that usually come in a syringe-like container. They are very viscous and it is recommended you place the whole container in warm water prior to usage so it thins it out making it easier to use. Very tiny amounts, usually a drop, is used. It can placed on a cracker or any food item for easier consumption. This route of administration is useful for longer control of pain, muscle spasms or other amenable symptoms. It is also useful for a full nights sleep.

 

Sublingual is listed separately by the State of Florida, but is still an oral product. It just means you but it under your tongue, which makes it take effect sooner, about 30-45 minutes, versus swallowing it. It will still last approximately 6-8 hours.

 

Topicals come in the form of lotions, creams and patches. These are applied directly to an area of issue and get absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness and inflammation. The topical method of usage does not produce the euphoria like other methods and is ideal for someone seeking relief without that "high". Patches, however, can produce a pschoactive effect if the THC content is high enough. The difference between them is topicals do not enter the blood stream and only penetrate to the local CB2 receptors, not the CB1 receptors which cause the "high". The cannabinoids in patches will enter the bloodstream and can cause a psychoactive effect. Topicals are also being used for various dermatological conditions including skin cancers.

 

Suppositories are actually a great way to obtain relief very quickly without the "high". They can by inserted in the rectum or vagina. The effect of a suppository can be felt withing 10-15 minutes and last up to 8 hours. They are a viable alternative for someone unable to ingest an oral form, issues with nausea or vomiting or issues with the gastrointestinal tract. Rectally they are good for issues dealing with things such as such as seizures, Crohn's and IBS, prostate, anal fissures, low back pain, cancer, hemorrhoids and post surgical pain. Vaginally they are good for issues such as menstrual cramps, endometriosis, pelvic pain and painful intercourse.