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Cannabis

Introductory Words on Cannabis: Legality, Stigma, Uses & Quality Control

Cannabis. Marijuana. Ganja. Weed. Pot. Mary Jane. Dank. Sticky Icky. Bud. Grass. Reefer. I am not sure if this is the best or worst one ever: The Devil’s Lettuce. Whatever you want to call it, cannabis is here. Let’s talk about it.

Here we go! The first post in the Cannabis section of Homestead and Chill. Who is excited about the upcoming growing season? Maybe it’s your first? There are so many thoughts, concepts, and tips I am eager to share with you all on this subject – whether you’re new to growing, more experienced, or don’t plan to grow at all, but are simply curious to learn more. If you are not a proponent of cannabis, that is totally fine. We can agree to disagree. But guess what? Cannabis has come out from hiding, and it is not going anywhere, so why don’t we just address it head on then? Even better – how about head on, and with an open mind? Keep reading. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I bet you’ll even learn something new.

For the record, we are no experts over here! Yet we have done a lot of research, played around with various methods, and have two pretty dang successful growing seasons under our belt. Our approach is 100% organic, as you probably imagined. As you may have also gathered, I hold a high importance on natural health, being extremely conscientious of what we use in our garden and put in or on our bodies. I also take time to thoroughly educate myself thoroughly about a subject before sharing it with you all, so please know that I don’t take this lightly.

Before we dive into the content many of you are probably most eager to read about – how to actually grow the stuff – I feel it’s best to start with a foundation post to introduce the subject. Let’s get some disclaimers out of the way, and cover the philosophy of how we view and use cannabis on this homestead.


This article will explore legality, stigma, medicinal and recreational uses, THC versus CBD, the difference between hemp and marijuana, and quality concerns surrounding cannabis.

D


Legality

Disclaimers:

Let’s get right to the point: Everything we are doing here, including growing cannabis at home, is 100% legal. Also known as The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMU), California’s Proposition 64 was voted into approval in November of 2016. Since its passing, each household here in California can now legally grow up to six cannabis plants for personal recreational use, expanding beyond the previous medicinal-only permitted use. People can also possess up to an ounce on their person when they’re outside of their home. If you have your medical card, you can grow and carry even more.

Another important disclaimer to get out of the way: No! Nothing is for sale here! We grow cannabis for our personal use only, and in part just because it’s fun and interesting to grow. Y’all know how much we love playing with plants! When we have extra or old stuff we give it to friends and family, or we compost it. Seriously. It’s just like any other plant in our garden. Sort of.

A man stands amongst very tall cannabis plants, smiling and looking up at them since they're much tall than he is. The setting is on a back yard garden patio, where there are also raised garden beds full of kale, sunflowers, a passionfruit around him. The sun is setting in the background.
See? Just another plant in our garden… Right along side the kale and passionfruit.



State Law

At the time of writing this, over half of the United States (33 states!) have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in one way or another. Commonly, those programs require a “patient” to get doctor’s recommendation or “scrip”. For a complete list of states where medicinal use is legal, click here.

Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in 10 states. This includes California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Washington, Vermont, Alaska, Michigan, plus the District of Columbia and Guam. This means people in those states can grow, possess, or purchase cannabis without a doctor’s recommendation, though the circumstances and limits vary by state.

If you want to grow your own cannabis, please take time to do some research first! Educate yourself on the rules and regulations in your state. The last thing I want is anyone getting themselves into trouble! The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a state-by-state chart that outlines the medicinal regulations. It outlines the rules plus provides links to the statutory language for reference. The last column in their chart (on the far right) also has links to the adult use/recreational regulations.

You’ll need to do a little local research too. Even if medicinal or recreational use has been approved in your state, there may be varying and additional restrictions or requirements set forth by each county or town. It is my understanding that no local law can trump the state law by means of outright taking away your right to grow in a home that you own, or to personally possess or use cannabis, if it is permitted at the state level. At least that is the case in California.

However, local ordinances may do things like dictate that you can only grow indoors. Or, only in a permitted structure that meets certain setbacks and design features, like mechanisms for odor control. This means that within the same state, one town may allow outdoor growing, but the next town over only allows indoor growing. But they cannot take away your right to grow at all.

Local rules can also put limitations on businesses and have unique permitting, licensing, and tax requirements. This impacts not only cannabis businesses, but consumers as well. For example, despite statewide legalization, the majority of California cities and towns are not allowing retail cannabis storefronts within their jurisdiction (yet). Many are, but many more are not. That means that pot shops may not be as easily accessible for everyone, even in a legal state. We happen to live in what is the up-and-coming “pot country” of California, and is extremely cannabis-business friendly. But guess what? We don’t intend to buy much locally anyways. Instead, we prefer to grow our own. After reading the “quality control” section at the end of this article, you just may feel the same.



Federal Law

The cultivation, possession, or use of cannabis is still considered illegal by the United States Federal government, for now. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis remains labelled as a Schedule 1 “drug”. Right up there with heroin. Above cocaine, oxycodone, and methamphetamine, with those three being in the “less dangerous” and “more beneficial” classification – Schedule 2. The biggest difference between Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 is that the Federal Government does not recognize any medicinal benefits of those listed in Schedule 1, but does in some way for Schedule 2. Not only is this outrageously ridiculous (and we will talk about scientifically proven benefits of marijuana in a moment), but the discrepancy between the federal stance and state permissiveness on cannabis makes it very confusing and complicated for consumers, businesses and regulators.

Generally speaking, states have always had the constitutional right to make more stringent rules and regulations than those of the federal government, for example stronger environmental regulations, but not more lax, unless clearly stated in statute. The Supremacy Clause says that if a Federal Law explicitly prohibits something, and a conflicting state law allows it, the federal law trumps it. However, if you are in a state that has legalized cannabis and are following state rules, it is very unlikely local or even federal law enforcement will go after you.

Although cannabis remains a Schedule I drug, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment prohibits federal prosecution of individuals complying with state medical cannabis laws. This means medical marijuana users (patients), businesses, and care providers are protected, as long as they follow the rules of the state they are in. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment only extends to medicinal applications, not recreational.

A stock image of a prescription bill bottle dumped on its side, with nugs of marijuana spilling out instead of pills.
Medical Marijuana, photo courtesy of Earth Med

The real nexus of control that the federal government can hold on to is interstate commerce. If cannabis products or sales cross state lines, that puts it into federal jurisdiction and is significantly more enforceable. Thus, it is when you start thinking about shipping or traveling with cannabis that you need to proceed with caution. This also makes purchasing cannabis seeds online a tricky business. There are many companies who stealthily and discreetly sell seeds all over the world. Many such companies market the seeds as “souvenirs”, saying they are not intended be planted. They fail to include growing and germination information, thus getting around this loophole.



The Future of Cannabis

I say that cannabis is federally not legal yet, for now, because I truly bet I will have to update this article within the next couple of years to revise that statement. I mean, they’re still holding onto a regulation that was analyzed and enacted nearly 50 years ago! Times have changed, information and awareness about the benefits of cannabis have improved, tolerance has evolved, and the spreading legalization is coming on hard and fast.

Very recently, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (D.A.R.E), the anti-drug curriculum that we all grew up with, finally removed cannabis from its list of gateway drugs. Just last October, Canada became the second nation in the world to legalize cannabis outright. Way to go, Canada! I predict our Feds won’t hold out much longer either. The opportunity to tax the industry is too real of a benefit for the government to deny it much longer.


Speaking of taxes, let’s take a peek the benefits of legalization.

A stock image of a cannabis leaf laying over a dollar bill. George Washington peers out from behind the cannabis leaf.
Image Courtesy of The Washington Examiner


Benefits of Legalizing Cannabis:

There are many benefits to legalizing cannabis. Some are obvious. Such as increasing the access and availability of a very useful plant to those who need or desire its benefits. The use of marijuana will allow some people to heal, cope, sleep, laugh, and relax. People will be enabled to move away from dangerous, highly-addictive controlled substances like certain prescription pharmaceuticals.

Other benefits are more complex and far-reaching than individual use and well-being. Consider these additional impacts of legalizing cannabis, as outlined by the Drug Policy Alliance:

Reduce harm: The criminalization of marijuana use disproportionately harms young people and people of color, sponsors massive levels of violence and corruption, and fails to curb youth access.

Create jobs: Legalizing and regulating marijuana will bring one of the nation’s largest cash crops under the rule of law. This will create jobs and economic opportunities in the formal economy instead of the illicit market.

Save money: Scarce law enforcement resources will be better used to ensure public safety while reducing corrections and court costs. State and local governments would acquire significant new sources of tax revenue from regulating marijuana sales.

Promote consumer safety: Marijuana product testing is becoming a standard requirement for legalized marijuana markets. This means consumers are better informed about the marijuana they use.

Drug Policy Alliance – Marijuana Legalization and Regulation

I am seeing some of these benefits in our county already. My department alone has been able to hire several new staff people to handle the proper evaluation and permitting of the dozens of commercial cannabis applications currently streaming in. I too am involved in this work. Operations now under permit are being required to come into compliance with everything from their building structures to employee standards and housing. They must address adequate water systems, septic systems, and other environmental impacts.

Instead of illegally tapping into water systems or drilling bogus wells, damming and diverting water from streams, dumping waste fertilizer and pesticides on the ground, or causing fire hazards by living and camping in substandard housing, they’re being forced to do it right, from A to Z.  Just like any other legitimate business.



Breaking the Stigma

Burn out. Lazy. Stoner. Idiot. Space cadet. Criminal.

There are so many negative connotations and stereotypes that come along when people choose to partake in cannabis use. 90% of the time, they’re completely inaccurate. This is becoming exceedingly true as legalization has enabled the increased use of cannabis by everyday people, from all walks of life. Grandmothers with Parkinson’s. Dentists with aching joints. Your child’s classmate that has epilepsy. Your trusty mailman, who just needs to unwind after a long day on the road. People who believe the cynical stigmas may not expect a girl who began smoking pot in junior high* to go on to graduate as the valedictorian of her high school class, obtain a Masters degree from Brown University, and later work as a respected professional for her local government. All while using cannabis on occasion, to fairly regularly. Guess who?

*Note: I do not condone underage use of marijuana, unless needed for medical purposes. Studies do show negative impacts of THC to still-developing adolescent brains. I think I turned out okay though.

A blonde woman in a black and floral jumpsuit stands between two cannabis plants, on a back yard garden patio. The plants are in large fabric grow bags of 25 gallon size. The plants are still young, and only about four feet tall. Since they're in large bags, they are already taller than the woman.
Did you guess who?


I remember when I first “came out” about our cannabis use on social media. Very clearly, thank you. It was early 2017, a few months after the passing of Prop 64. We had begun growing our first crops at home. I felt a desire to open up and share what we were doing and why on Instagram. In part to help dispel some of the very stigma I am writing about now, but also because we weren’t exactly going to be able to hide it much longer. I frequently share photos and videos of our garden spaces. It was only a matter of time until the massive plants were spotted.

Rather than brush over the topic or wait and see if anyone commented, I decided to address the elephant in the room head on. And instead of being all like “Hey guys, we grow weed! Cool, huh?” I knew I needed to put together a very direct and poignant post to express my stance on the subject.

When I got ready to hit the“share” button, my heart was pounding. I was so anxious, nervous, and excited all at once. What would people say? How much hate would I receive? Yep, I definitely lost some followers, but guys, the positive response was overwhelming! It was beyond what I expected. It was touching, empowering, heart warming, and some of it also heart-breaking.

Over 200 responses poured in, which was a lot for me at that time. People opened up about their personal health struggles and how cannabis helps them cope. Or about their loved ones with cancer, and how cannabis was the only thing that brought that person comfort during their treatments, or during the end. There were also some very sad stories about how people were banished from their families or social circles for using cannabis. It is so unfortunate to witness such harsh judgement and extreme reactions around the use of a natural, generally very mellow, safe, and uplifting plant. Meanwhile, people have beers with friends and family, get behind the wheel, and no one says anything.


My cannabis “coming out” post via Instagram, June 2017:

“I’ve been struggling to put together the words to convey my thoughts on cannabis for this, my first overtly open post on the subject. Then the other day I was reading through the TIME magazine special edition “Marijuana Goes Main Street”, along with some online articles about organic no-till growing practices (what we are employing here), and came across a few excellent passages that helped tie it all together for me.

“If there was a single moment that crystallized the nation’s new openness to marijuana, it arrived on August 8th, 2013. That was the day CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta publicly changed his position on pot. Gupta, one of the nation’s most trusted physicians, spent months researching the science of medical marijuana for a documentary called Weed. An outspoken pot skeptic, Gupta had written a story four years earlier for TIME magazine headlined Why I Would Vote No On Pot.

The evidence he uncovered in Weed forced him to reverse himself. He did so in a stunning mea culpa. “I am here to apologize” he wrote on CNN’s website. “I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. In fact, the DEA had no such proof“. Though the government continues to deny it, marijuana has “very legitimate medical applications” he wrote. “In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works.” Bruce Barcott, TIME

My mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer on Tuesday, during her first day of chemo treatment in fact. Long story. She was previously diagnosed with “stage 0” DCIS and was scheduled for chemo to help treat that. That day, the results of a lymph node biopsy came back showing more advanced stages of HER 2+. She uses various forms of cannabis to help kill cancer cells on the local site, to sleep, to reduce the chemo side effects she’s already experiencing. And to simply take the edge off. I need to take the edge off too. I’ve been a basket case lately.

And that’s not even getting into the other conditions cannabis positively effects such as arthritis, epilepsy, Crohn’s, IBS, PTSD, anxiety, MS, chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, Tourettes, and so on.

Tommy Chong, currently battling rectal cancer (from TIME magazine): “The main thing about pot is that it affects your mental state. Instead of moaning and groaning about what you have, you start listening to music and reading books, and you get very creative. It takes the brain off “the glass is half empty” and puts it on “the glass is half full”.

I wholeheartedly agree, Tommy. Y’all want to know a secret, since we’re laying it all out there? I get these questions all the time – Are you a landscape designer? Are you trained in this stuff? Where do you get your ideas? How did you come up with that design? The truth is: I get stoney and cruise around the garden admiring our work, and new ideas just come. Then I sit down and draw.

In connection to gardening and our sustainable or health-conscious lifestyle:

“The organic lifestyle is gaining monumental popularity thanks to food and farming education. The world is leaning towards more natural practices in all industries, demanding big pharma, corporations and mass farming to exercise local, organic and sustainable philosophies. And now that recreational cannabis is legalizing at a rapid rate, it only makes sense that the demands of the consumers will affect supply and manufacturing practices. The days of stoners smoking mystery bud in their basements is long gone. Today’s cannabis consumer is educated, health-conscious, and wide-ranging. While no two tokers are alike, there is a growing movement for more health-focused pot products. Customers want cannabis that hasn’t been leached with chemicals, without a heavy carbon footprint and without mysterious ingredients and/or manufacturing practices.” – Samantha Lyn Chan, PotGuide.com

Thus, we’re growing our own for the first time ~ Strains to suits our needs, taking pride in the process and effort it takes (major kudos to Aaron here), and the comfort of knowing exactly how it has been treated from “bean-to-bowl”. We protect our lungs by using a vaporizer (a Firefly 2+), even though there hasn’t been any scientific studies that can link smoking pot to lung cancer.

Not that I need to justify or defend myself, and I realize people are going to pass judgment regardless, but we clearly aren’t burn-outs here. We indulge on non-work nights. Not to boast – but because I am proud to a part of a movement that is breaking down stigmas and stereotypes – I would like to point out that I am highly educated, motivated, successful, active, healthy, stable, and happy. Also for the record, I am not here to start heavily advocating cannabis on Instagram or plan to feature it regularly in my posts, so if you’re not a fan of it, don’t worry I am not shoving it down your throat. To each their own!

Y’all know my life motto, right? “We all have just ONE life to live, however we please. You do you, I’ll do me, and let us all respect and appreciate those differences”. I just don’t want to try to hide our 6-foot plants in photos or videos if they happen to be in the shot, and not acknowledge the elephant in the room! And sure, there is potential for misuse or abuse, bad reactions, accidents, and poor decisions…. Just like with anything else in life. Enter: widely used, available, and legal – alcohol. Enough said. Everything in moderation folks.”

@deannacat3

Looking down into a back yard patio garden. Three large cannabis plants are in fabric grow bags. There is also a table on a colorful rug, an apple tree, fire pit, aloe vera plants, and other garden beds around the patio.
The first image of our cannabis I shared on Insta, June 2017


So that was the post. It was extremely liberating to share. Yet I realize that many of you may not be able to be so open about about it (yet), depending on where you live or the social norms of the people in your life. I feel very fortunate in that regard. The subject of cannabis has become so openly talked about and accepted in our home, family, social circles, neighborhood, town, and even our workplaces that I almost feel silly writing all of this. The vast majority of people I know do not think in the negative ways I mentioned. Many of you living in legal states are probably in the same boat.

However, I know a huge portion of the country is still very misled and inadequately educated about the topic. Cannabis needs to be more openly discussed! The more we talk about it, the more we share, the more we learn, the more we can break the stigma.

In the spirit of continuing the conversation in the right direction, let’s talk about the medicinal uses.



Cannabis as Medicine

Cannabis has been shown to help reduce or eliminate undesirable symptoms associated with dozens of health issues. It has the ability to reduce pain, fight inflammation, ease muscle tension, improve mood, and combat nausea. These applications make it particularly effective in providing comfort and reducing weight loss for people battling cancer, going through chemotherapy, or the like. I don’t think most people out there would judge or argue with a person lighting up in that situation, if that is what helps them. According to the Harvard Health Blog, “about 85% of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, and it is estimated that at least several million Americans currently use it.”

As a fantastic muscle relaxant, patients with Parkinson’s disease rely on cannabis to reduce their tremors. Along those same lines, it has been reported to ease discomfort associated with fibromyalgia, endometriosis, arthritis, and menstrual cramps. For nerve pain, like that comes along with multiple sclerosis, cannabis is often times the thing that provides the most relief – while enabling the person to not feel overly “doped up” as they would on the otherwise prescription opioids, allowing the person to move away from those strong and addictive pain medications.

Depending on the strain of cannabis used, it can either help boost mood, creativity, and energy – great for someone with depression – or can help induce a very relaxed, mellow, sleepy state – perfect for a person trying to curb the effects of their anxiety, PTSD, or insomnia. Pain relief comes in the form of cannabis for people with painful symptoms of HIV like neuropathy, and can make up for loss of appetite.

Unfortunately, because of the federal stance on marijuana, the support and use of scientific studies to “prove” all of these benefits have been significantly underutilized or downright prohibited in the past. Consumer experiences and personal reports of the benefits are substantial, but clinical research is behind. As cannabis becomes more accepted, the studies are increasing, and their results are indeed promising. The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at University of California San Diego is spearheading studies that are confirming the suspected benefits as true.

In early 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine completed a comprehensive review of over 10,000 scientific studies on marijuana health research.  In their final report, the committee made 100 conclusions related to health. Many of the health applications we are discussing today are already falling into the section showing “conclusive and substantial evidence” for therapeutic benefits. Some only have “moderate” or “limited” evidence, but again, that is mostly because the studies themselves have been limited. That doesn’t mean future studies won’t confirm it.

It isn’t the obvious medical benefits and dire circumstances, like our cancer patient example, that make cannabis use so controversial however. A big part of the resistance may be that so many people still view it as “getting high”. I am not sure why this is such a concern, since many of those same people enjoy a buzz from alcohol, or are okay with the use of pain medication. That frustrating hypocrisy aside… Maybe they aren’t aware of CBD?

A close up of a marijuana leaf. One half is a different color than the other. One side of the photo says "THC" and shows the molecular drawing for it. The other side says CBD and shows its molecular drawing. The image is just supposed to represent that CBD and THC have a different chemical make up.
Image from Rx Canna Care



CBD – Relief without the “high”

Cannabidiol, aka, CBD is one of the many active compounds found in cannabis. It is commonly extracted into concentrated forms. CBD has little-to-no intoxicating effects, unlike the other main active compound in cannabis – THC. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, and is responsible for the mental or body “high” that most people associate with consuming cannabis. Different strains of cannabis have varying concentrations of CBD and THC. Some are all THC and no CBD, some fifty-fifty, some high CBD and hardly any THC at all, and everything in between.

One of the more remarkable examples of just how powerful the medicinal properties of CBD can be is the effect it has on people with epilepsy. Namely, Dravet’s epilepsy, a very severe and debilitating form. One particular strain of cannabis has been extremely effective at curbing the frequent seizures associated with the disease. It makes life actually livable for those otherwise completely burdened by it. That strain is Charlotte’s Web. It was named after the little girl that it first was documented to help. Help is an understatement. Without it, Charlotte was going to “live” in a medically induced coma because her seizures had become so life-threatening. Charlotte’s Web is a high-CBD, very low-THC strain. Prior to CBD, she was experiencing hundreds of seizures a week, despite endless therapies and medications. With CBD, her seizures immediately reduced to less than one per week on average.

If you’re in interested in watching Charlotte’s story, which spearheaded the acceptance of medicinal marijuana use for children with epilepsy, see this video:

Video courtesy of Medical Cannabis Costa Rica and CNN



So does that mean I can rely on CBD alone for comfort?  


Maybe! Maybe not.

Marijuana-derived CBD on its own can ease inflammation, seizures, psychosis, inflammatory bowel disease, nausea, migraines, depression, and anxiety. Cleary, it can help with a lot. I say marijuana-derived because it is markedly different than hemp-derived CBD, which we will talk about in a moment. Few side effects are reported with CBD use. CBD is also celebrated because it can be used with ease in everyday life in a variety of situations, including while at work. THC use is more limiting in that regard. This makes CBD products very attractive, effective, popular, and low-risk to use! However, some cannabis users find the greatest effects and benefits when they consume both CBD and THC together.



THC uses and benefits

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been well documented to help with everything that CBD does, with the exception of seizures. Furthermore, THC also reduces insomnia, muscle spasms, low appetite, and helps with glaucoma. While some people consider the altered mental state a negative effect of THC, some seek it out. This is particularly true for stress, anxiety, and depression relief.

Note that some strains of cannabis do better or worse at improving these symptoms. Consumers need to find a strain that works for them. Strains on the high-Sativa spectrum can bring feelings of euphoria and happiness. They can also cause anxiety and feel too “racy” for some people. On the other end of the spectrum, Indica-leaning strains feel too sluggish and demotivating for some, depending on their objective for use. We prefer strains that are a cross of both. I wrote this post dedicated to the differences between Indica and Sativa plants, if you’re interested to learn more! A recent study completed by the University of New Mexico suggests that higher levels of THC contribute to more symptom relief than CBD alone.

Two very tall homegrown cannabis plants are swaying in the wind. They're starting to fill out with flowers or buds, but still are very lush with dark green leaves. They are taller than the house also shown in the photo.
Nothing beats the whole plant, in my humble opinion. Look at our big beautiful Maui Wowie girls! Maui Wowie is an amazing, energetic but mellow, sativa-leaning, medium-THC and high-CBD strain. One of our go-to favorites.



Whole Plant Cannabis

When you put both CBD and THC together, you get much more effective and obvious results, referred to the “entourage effect”. This hypothesis, popularized by Dr. Ethan Russo, proposes that both cannabinoids function synergistically to give it pharmacological properties to increase the healing effects. It isn’t quite as simple as one-plus-one however. Most of the research and discussions around the benefits of cannabis, this article included (so far), focus solely on THC and/or CBD. But cannabis as a whole has dozens of other active compounds and types of cannabinoids within it, like terpenes and flavonoids, that all work synergistically together to bring relief.

Project CBD is a California non-profit that is dedicated to promoting and publicizing research on CDB. They say: “We recommend CBD-rich products made using only organic, whole plant cannabis because this offers the best safety profile and superior medicinal benefits.

This is where some hemp-based CBD products fall particularly short, as opposed marijuana-based CBD extracts. Yes, there is a difference.



Hemp-based CBD versus Marijuana-based CBD

What is the difference between hemp and marijuana anyways? Both hemp and marijuana are species of the cannabis family, but they are far from being created equal. Hemp is most often used as an industrial, sustainable resource for textiles, biofuels, and building materials. The hemp plant itself contains very, very little THC (no more than .3%) while marijuana rings in with an average concentration of 15 to 40% THC.

Because of its low THC concentrations, hemp is legal in most parts of the world. Therefore, you may see “CBD” products popping up all over the place! You may find them on the counter of your corner convenience store or in the supplement aisle of your your local supermarket. Flip the bottle over. Read it. It probably says “hemp-derived” or “extracted from hemp” somewhere on it. This is not necessarily the medical grade stuff. Marijuana-derived CBD oils and tinctures are only for sale in legit pot shops.


Where hemp-based CBD can fall short:

  • One: The CBD concentrations in hemp-based extracts are usually extremely low and thus virtually ineffective for therapeutic uses. Hemp oil contains traces of CBD around 3.5 percent, while marijuana based CBD oil can have up to 20 percent. One article I read something along the lines of “Just think of hemp CBD as a health supplement or vitamin, high in potassium and magnesium, and the bud-based products as pharmaceutical grade”.
  • Two: Hemp-based CBD and refined CBD powders are often times missing those important complimentary compounds like terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids found in marijuana that interact with THC and CBD to enhance their medicinal benefit. However, these compounds are found in marijuana-based cannabis oil products.
  • Three: Hemp is a bio-accumulator plant – meaning it is very good at taking up toxins from the soil.  Because hemp is so low in CBD, it takes processing and concentrating exorbitant amounts of it to result in a usable CBD product. Much less marijuana is needed to create CBD extracts. In the process, it also amplifies and concentrates everything else found in hemp, including any contaminants, fertilizers, or toxins the plant has been storing.
  • NOTE: Not all “hemp” is created equal! Some modern hemp strains grown for medicinal CBD extraction are cross-bred or hybridized (not GMO) with low-THC strains of marijuana. These types of hemp will grow shorter and stockier than the image below, more closely resembling marijuana. They may also also contain a higher profile of terpenes and other beneficial cannabinoids than traditional hemp. There are some high quality hemp-based CBD products out there! Do you best to research their quality and contents. I’d say it’s safe to gander that the stuff on the counter at the gas station doesn’t fall into this exceptional category.

A side by side comparison of hemp versus marijuana. The hemp plants are tall and lanky, and yellow looking. The marijuana plants are shorter, bushier, dark green, and have fatter leaves.
Industrial hemp on the left, marijuana on the right. Photo from Ministry of Hemp


In summary, because CBD doesn’t “get you high” and is thus less controversial, it is getting most of the media attention and hype right now. It has definite health benefits, particularly marijuana derived-CBD. The fact that you’re able to remain clear-headed makes it attractive and flexible in its use. However, increasing research is coming out that THC has overall stronger and more therapeutic benefits for those in need.


Speaking of getting high….



Cannabis for Recreation

I use cannabis for many of the therapeutic benefits described above: muscle and joint pain, insomnia, menstrual cramps, to name a few. To be frank, I also like to “get high” sometimes.  The thing is though, I don’t see the need to make such a clear distinction and judgement between medicinal and recreational use. Sure, there is an absolute, undeniable difference between someone like Charlotte who depends on weed to live a functional life, and someone who is otherwise “healthy” but likes to toke up on the weekend. But if we start talking about mental well being, stress, anxiety, and less-severe but annoying aches and pains, I see recreational and medicinal cannabis as one in the same. Because guess what? Those types of “medical conditions” apply to damn near everyone.


Rec·re·a·tion (noun)

According to the Meriam-Webster Dictionary, recreation is defined as:

refreshment of strength and spirits after work

also : a means of refreshment or diversion : Hobby

Recreation consists of things you do in your spare time to relax

Synonyms: dalliance, frolic, frolicking, fun, fun and games, play, relaxation, rollicking, sport

Meriam-Webster, on recreation


Also defined by Meriam-Webster is:

Health (noun)

Definition of health

1a: the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit

especially : freedom from physical disease or pain

Meriam-Webster, on health


If I am reading this all correctly: recreation is something that refreshes your strength and spirit; health is a condition of a sound body, mind, and spirit. Thus, participating in recreation leads to improved health and positive well-being. The two are directly connected. In this line of thought, by using cannabis recreationally to improve spirits, unwind, and maybe even frolick (I love that synonym for recreation!) in the garden after work contributes to personal wellness. Plus, you get the benefits of pain relief and improved sleep? Sounds like medicine to me, no matter how you cut it. Just as “let thy medicine be thy food, and thy food be thy medicine”.

Maybe you can tell, and if you know me “in real life”, you know… I have a natural tendency to be ON. I am wound rather tight. A total type A, on the go, brain won’t stop, can’t sit still, will work myself to death if I allow it. Cannabis brings me much needed balance. It helps me switch my brain from over-analyzing to stop-and-appreciating. It enhances my mood and creativity, and enables me to chill the hell out.

A hand holds a trimmed bud of organic homegrown cannabis. It has little orange hairs and crystals.
Homegrown medicine. Homegrown recreation. Same same. 100% organic.

As I mentioned in my “coming out” post, I was under the influence of cannabis while I designed all of our garden spaces. Some strains we use are more uplifting for that type of work and play. We also grow strains that are more sleepy or have a nice mellow comedown. These allow me to sleep deeply and soundly, while I otherwise toss and turn and wake up a lot. Good sleep is also directly related to overall health.  

No, we aren’t stoned all the time. Far from it. Cannabis is just one form of fun and relaxation in our recreation portfolio. We love yoga, reading, walking on the beach, going to the gym, hiking, biking, and obviously, gardening. Kitty-therapy too! Oh and music. We can’t forget the music. Because while cannabis has all of these potential positive impacts, I also believe in balance and moderation. Particularly if we are talking about THC use. This article would not be complete and fair if I didn’t also mention some of the possible negative effects of cannabis use.


Negative effects

In regards to negative side effects from cannabis use, THC is more often the guilty party over CBD.  Overindulgence can lead to dizziness, nausea, and vomiting for some, especially if you’re already physically exhausted or dehydrated. It can also cause feelings of anxiousness, chest tightness, shaking, or paranoia. Yep, some people just don’t do well with THC. Of all the reports and papers I read in doing my research for this article, the negative side effects were far less extraordinary and common than the positive ones though. Significantly worse and long-ranging impacts will result from the regular consumption of sugar, processed food, and saturated fats than those from cannabis.

There has been no research that I am aware of that suggests cannabis use can lead to the development of cancer, or other chronic illness. On the contrary, it has been shown to kill or slow the spread of cancer cells. Of course, common sense will tell us that the frequent inhalation of any combustible substance into your lungs probably isn’t the best idea. Using oils, edibles, tinctures, and vaporizers greatly reduces or eliminates the impact on the lungs.

I personally believe that many of the unfortunate experiences (and therefore lasting impressions) people have with cannabis is because they smoked mystery bud. Or, they tried the wrong strain for their desired outcome. If you smoked a few times in high school or college, felt paranoid and crummy, and never smoked again in your life, you likely have a very skewed opinion on what “being high” is actually like. Pot has come a long way. Different strains, breeding, indica or sativa influence, and THC and CBD concentrations all influence the user experience. The options are seriously limitless. To read more about the differences between sativa, indica, and even learn about autoflower cannabis plants, check out this post.

Speaking of concentrations, another culprit of bad experiences is in the dose. Particularly with concentrates and edibles, it is really easy to overdo it. We have definitely made ourselves ill with homemade edibles in the past. As a consumer, make sure to inquire about the potency and dosage of an edible product. This is especially important if you are new to using edibles or concentrates. Or if there isn’t clear labelling on the product as there should be. Start small. Also, never just blindly purchase seeds or products. Read reviews. Do research on the kinds of strains you’d like to grow or purchase at the dispensary. Find what is right for you!

While pure cannabis itself may not pose a risk for chronic disease, that doesn’t mean we should all toke up without heeding caution. What about other substances that may be IN and ON the cannabis? As the countries largest up-and-coming cash crop, the cannabis industry and resulting products have a serious potential to get nasty.

A cannabis leaf is shown in the foreground, looking down from above. Behind the leaf you can see the fabric pot or bag that the marijuana plant is growing in. The mulch on the soil is colorful, with yellow yarrow flowers, lavender buds, and green leaves of comfrey chopped up on top.
Do you know what is on your medicine? In its soil? In its veins? How about some compost, lavender buds, comfrey, yarrow, worm casting, organic alfalfa and kelp meal? One could only hope.



Concerns about Quality

Wait, what did you say about hazardous materials?

In my professional life outside this blog and homestead, I am an Environmental Health Specialist. It is my job to review any proposed map, development plan, subdivision, or conditional use of land in the county – from an environmental and public health perspective. Guess what 95% of the cases currently sitting on my desk are for? Commercial cannabis operations. We are talking several new permit applications coming in every week.

These proposals include everything from the legalization of previously illegal operations, to new hoop house and greenhouse grow operations. Also included are drying and processing facilities, CBD oil extraction facilities, and edible storefronts. I told you, our county is gearing up to be one of the most cannabis business-friendly places in the state. While it is amazing to be a part of the progress in the cannabis industry, and there are so many stellar benefits that go along with these changes, there is also some fairly scary shit going down.

One of the conditions that I am putting on almost every single project is to obtain a permit with our hazardous materials unit, due to the intense use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers proposed. Also, a referral to the State Water Board for a waste discharge permit. Though there are a handful of very clean and natural operations out there, like those utilizing neem oil and beneficial bacteria, most are not.

In most cases, the plants are being sprayed with chemicals. The plants are also being watered with chemicals. All of that is being taken up into the plants vascular system, and in to the buds. So much so, it is standard practice in the industry to require a “flushing” period. This is where the plants root ball and soil is repeatedly flushed with water for about two weeks prior to harvesting. The purpose is to help rid the plants of built up chemicals and salts. If they don’t flush, the bud burns really harsh and tastes unpleasant. Hmm… I wonder why? Yuck.


We aren’t all that familiar with flushing since we don’t need to employ it here at home. When I was reading up on it, I came across this badass quote:

When Not to Flush Cannabis Plants:

“The only time flushing is not encouraged is when you are growing in amended organic soil. This is because your soil already holds all the nutrients the plants need to thrive. By flooding the soil, you can wash away and damage the complex ecosystem that you’ve worked so hard to develop in the soil itself. Furthermore, these plants almost always receive pure water during waterings. The nutrient uptake by plants in this environment is natural, diverse, and easy for the plant to process.”

Leafly, Flushing Cannabis Plants


That is how we roll.

Just because the big growers flush the plants to remove some of the junk, that doesn’t make their practices okay in my opinion. I do not want to consume stuff that needs flushing, period. Recent lab tests of California cannabis show that 1 in 5 samples failed in pesticide testing. Results either showed the presence of pesticides that are outright not allowed, or other pesticides were present at levels exceeding the allowable threshold.

Even if the end product does pass its tests and is a little “cleaner” now, that entire growing and flushing process is intensive, toxic, wasteful, and unnecessary. Someone who works in the pot industry or grows in this more conventional manner will probably chime in here and say, “It is necessary! We need ABC process to get XYZ result in blah-blah-blah conditions in zero amount of time!”. My point is, you CAN grow good, quality, dank bud without all that junk. Is it as quick, easy, high-yielding, efficient, and cost-effective? Maybe not. But as conscious consumers, we need to ask ourselves: What is more important? Quantity, or quality? Hmm… this beginning to sound a lot like another industry I feel passionately about.


Cannabis as Big Ag

Just like in today’s intensive food agriculture system, if profit is the goal, quality and safety is most often jeopardized. Monsanto and Round-Up dominates the conventional farming operations in this country. As usual, the company is under extreme scrutiny right now. Round-Up’s active ingredient glyphosate, a known carcinogen, was recently found to be present in every breakfast cereal tested and marketed to children. The reported levels were exceeding the Environmental Working Group’s health benchmark. Isn’t that absolutely disgusting? We do not buy or consume inorganic food. Nor do we use weed killers in our garden, or grow our own food with chemical fertilizers like Miracle Grow. We are extremely aware, and maybe even a little paranoid, about what we ingest. To us, cannabis is exactly the same.

Well guess who just invested $1.8 billion dollars in a Canadian cannabis company last December? Altria, the parent company for Marlboro. It is just a matter of time that they start buying out a lot of the smaller cannabis operations and implement their own practices. Some little guys (hopefully those with stronger values and safer practices!) will hold out, but I’m sure many will sell out to Altria (or similar) too. No offense Altria, but you don’t necessarily have a track record for peddling health-promoting products… This entire situation is even more devastating for people that are relying on cannabis as medicine. They’re looking to it for healing, but are getting a dose of poison along with it instead.

The point of this section is NOT to terrify you. Not all cannabis is as gnarly as I am making it out to be. My intention it simply raise awareness. Just because pot shops may be popping up in your neighborhood, either now or in the coming years, it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to shop there. If you do, ask questions! Just like food, we all have to make educated and conscious decisions as to what we choose to support, buy, and put in our bodies.

The photo shows a close up of an organic marijuana leaf, with a ladybug perched on the tip of the leaf.
It’s okay Miss ladybug. You’re safe here.



Organic Options

With the lack of federal involvement, some states are starting to develop their own organic certifications. Keep your eyes and ears open for those in your state! For example, within California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act, there is a mandate for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to create an organic cannabis program by 2021. “Create” is a loose term though. In my experience working with government, actually implementing and enforcing a functioning system will take years beyond that date.


So what should I do to protect myself?

Until then, obtain products from reputable, trusted sellers that can openly and honestly answer your questions and address your concerns. Supporting local, small businesses is all the better. Request information on any pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, or any other products used in the growing process. See if they have those test results available to view, along with any mold or fungus tests. If you are in a state that has legalized medical use, get your card! That way you’ll have access to be best products, or….


…If you’re up for it (and legally able to)
Grow your own!
I want to help show you how, organically.

A series of posts are on the way to guide you through. Then you’ll have the peace of mind to know exactly how your cannabis was treated, from bean to bowl! If you want to get a jump start, feel free to check out some of these supplies we use to grow cannabis at home.

(Update: A how-to-grow post has since been added to start you on the homegrown cannabis journey.)

Until then, I hope you have found this an interesting, thought-provoking read! Please share it with anyone you think would also benefit from this perspective. Together, let’s keep breaking down that stigma. Thank you for reading!




29 Comments

  • Regina

    Hi! Where did you find your grow bags? I thought I remembered you mentioning for the back garden on the hill but can’t find it. Thanks!

    • DeannaCat

      Hey Regina! We usually get them on Amazon. I have a few different sizes included in our Cannabis Supplies list! For big photoperiod plants, we usually just at least 15-20 gallon bags, and the smaller 5-7 gallon size for autoflower plants. I have a post coming today or tomorrow about the difference between those, if you aren’t sure! I hope this helps. Happy growing!

  • Nicole Novak

    I don’t think I have ever seen such a complete and thorough evaluation of the US cannabis situation. Thanks so very much. I can’t wait to read your “how-to-grow-cannabis” blog. You helped us out with your Instagram posts on the subject last summer. I especially love your “grow bags on the move” and we constructed the same set-up for our deck plants. It was marvelous to be able to move them and turn them at will, both for the growing season and when it came time to manicure the plants.
    HUGS!!

  • Katie

    Very Informative post. I like to get a full picture on a subject and this has given me a lot to think about.
    The Charlotte video made me cry, amazing!

    I have two brothers who both started out smoking pot as teenagers for a few years. In our small beach surf town it doesn’t have much of a stigma, catch a wave, smoke some pot. The cops will often ignore it and there are a few cops who are known to confiscate it for their own use and send you on your way with a “warning”. It is very accepted here and every evening you can smell it wafting from at least one neighbors home. My point being that you don’t really need to hide it here and yet….without a doubt it was a gateway drug to heroine and pills for my brothers because of the crowd they ended up hanging with to get their high and the other drugs became readily available. Essentially dealers are their “friends” and their strategy is to get young kids in the door with weed and then peer pressure them to try pills because they make so much more money on the pills. So I don’t believe research that says its not a gateway drug because that’s removing the very reality of the exposure to other drugs that comes with it and human nature. Is that directly pot’s fault? No. Can it be ignored. No.

    It took one of my brothers 21 years to kick his drug habit and no one around him trusts him anymore. The other is currently serving a 9 year sentence for aggravated assault while under the influence. This is his second stint in jail and both times drug related. The fist time he went into jail he was 17 and stole a gun and tried to rob an army guy so he could get high.

    I don’t know the solution. All I know is our family has been in so much pain for many years and it all started when the “friends” who supplied my brothers weed to smoke on the beach started pushing little while pills into their hands when they where 15 years old. I understand the vast majority of people who use marijuana are not exposed to the horrors of drug dealers pushing pills on teenagers. And I get that there needs to be a solution. But I get upset when the reality that it can be a stepping stone to serious drug addiction is swept under the carpet. It has to be faced and be part of the thought process when legalizing marijuana. Responsible adults growing their own in their back gardens is great and feels right. But that is not the experience that shattered out family.

    • DeannaCat

      Hi Katie,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am so, so sorry to hear about the troubles and pain in your family. That is really awful. 🙁 It is true that often times in the “druggie” crowds, pot is also there too. Is pot use correlated with the use of other drugs? Absolutely. That means there is a often a common relationship and presence between the two variables, if you look at their overlap. However, what DARE was saying by removing it as a gateway drug is that there is not a causation relationship between the two. Pot doesn’t cause people to do other drugs. Correlation and causation are often confused. I’m sure there are just as many people, if not more, who start with drinking first, then escalate to weed, then other drugs. In that line of thinking, alcohol (widely legal) is the number one gateway drug. Pills and opioids are a much larger issue in this society and cause more escalated drug abuse than cannabis by far. The “high” people are seeking between cannabis and heroine is completely different. The transition from pills to heroin is exponentially more similar and cause-and-effect. I don’t mean to argue. I just get frustrated when the legal, more addictive, more damaging “drugs” like alcohol and pills are let off the hook. The bigger concern to me is why and how are kids running around with pills? Anyways, thanks again for opening up. I truly appreciate it, and I am not trying to sweep it under the rug. There are just so many factors at play, and cannabis always seems to be the easy target.

    • Erin Schaefgen

      Wow, Deanna – this article is SO informative and so well written. My nephew works for Charlottes Web in CO and so we get to try out their products regularly, and I must say they are truly amazing. Their CBD oil kept me out of the ER on several occasions when I was dealing with my very sensitive gallbladder that likes to flare up. If I’m not mistaken, the charlottes web strains are hemp derived CBD so I’ve always been a little confused how they seem to be so powerful. There have been times that I have taken it and can def feel the effects of some THC in there. But anyway, this article is on point and EVERYONE needs to read it!! Well done love <3

      • DeannaCat

        Thanks Erin! So the other Aaron (hubby) was doing some research and I think he learned that Charlottes Web originated with hemp but they hybridized or bred it (non GMO) with marijuana to get more full spectrum cannabinoids, terpenes, etc. I honestly think that is what a lot of the “hemp” industry is doing these days. They can still call it hemp as long as they keep it low-THC, but botanically, I think they’re they’re more and more similar to ganja. Kind of a loophole I think. Which is great, because then people can get more benefits from it too, but it’s a little misleading and perpetuates the stigma against marijuana.

    • DeannaCat

      We use a Firefly 2 and highly recommend it. It is the safest, best-tasting one on the market. Cheap-o ones can leach heavy metals when heated!

  • Erin

    Great article and we are in Michigan and are so excited for the new season coming and can’t wait for your next post!!!!

  • Valerie

    Thank you for this… Very informative. I firmly believe that cannabis is medicine. Use it myself. I am a nurse and I have a few patients that are benefiting from it as well. Hopefully someday everyone will get it.

    • DeannaCat

      Thank you for that input Valerie! It is always nice to hear feedback like this from someone in the medical and caregiving industry.

      • Jenny Ingram

        Finally got to sit down and read your entire post. I like to think of myself as well educated in the benefits of cannabis and the laws. Your writing gave me chills at least 5 times. AND I still learned several things! I don’t think I ever put the schedule 1 & 2 thing together, that is absolutely insane! The Marlboro in Canada thing, really pisses me off. Thank you for taking the time for us ☺️

  • Carrisa

    Thank you for such a thorough and objective article on the subject! I definitely learned a lot that I hadn’t known before, especially about the different strains having a different ‘high’ – so interesting! One question I do have is I know that a lot of companies do random drug tests and if you fail the test you’re fired, but within the states, like California, that have medical and recreational legalized, do companies no longer do drug tests? or can they specifically tell if it’s cannabis, and so you don’t have to worry about being fired? Don’t know if that’s something you can answer, but I’d love your thoughts on it.

    • DeannaCat

      Even where it is legal, private companies, businesses or organizations are allowed to have their own policies about it, including if they want a “drug-free” workplace – Personally I don’t think they should be able to dictate what you do on your time, but since cannabis drug tests cannot distinguish if you used it on the job or off-the-clock, some companies have a zero-tolerance policy and it can’t show up in your system at all. An employer has to disclose if they are going to perform tests or not a head of time though, like at the time of hiring in HR paperwork. A lot of time there are “trigger events” like if you use a company car and get in an accident, then a test would be required then. And yes drug tests distinguish between the type of drug, like cocaine, opioids, or cannabis.

      • Carrisa Valantine

        Thank you for your detailed reply, I now understand that aspect of it a lot better now. I agree as well that companies shouldn’t be able to dictate what you do on your own time and I’m a firm believer in the separation of the home sphere and work sphere. What you do on your downtime, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your job performance, shouldn’t matter. Cheers~!

      • Lauren

        This is amazing! Man, remember when big tobacco claimed cigarette smoking was healthy? These big corporations will do the same thing with cannabis and they’ll be allowed to! And I’m a way, it will be true! Kinda scary. This is where i think new standards will develop and perhaps spread to other crops- the difference between organically grown and not. I’m excited to see the pressure we the people put on these companies to either stop using harmful chemicals or to become fully transparent with labeling.

        While i love this entire piece, i want to correct some information regarding hemp and hemp derived CBD. Before i continue, I’d like to make it known I’m coming from a place of believing we need full legalization for marijuana cannabis, and i also believe the entourage effect is a real thing. I also believe that in some circles, the promotion of hemp can continue the stigma against THC.

        That being said, there is a lot of mis-information about hemp out there. I work in the hemp industry for my state and with multiple growers and retailers. The main difference between hemp cannabis and marijuana cannabis is THC levels, and there is a HUGE difference between hemp grown for fiber and hemp grown for cbd extract/ flower for smoking. It sounds like what you’re describing is industrial hemp grown for textiles which grows quite tall and lanky and is sometimes called “hemp cane”. The plants grown for their CBD are shorter, bushy, and grow just like marijuana cannabis. Unlike what you said, the plant is abundant in terpenes, flavanoids and cannabinoids and produces rich, sticky resin. It also doesn’t cap at .3% THC; that is just the legal limit. Anything over .3% is considered marijuana, not hemp. THC levels can climb up to 1.5%, even higher. I’ve purchased CBD marijuana from dispensaries in legal states of exactly that. Additionally, the CBD content is the same or higher than many marijuana strains, average levels usually hovering around 13-15%. While enthusiastic breeders are consistently improving the DNA of these strains, we already know the high content because each strain grown per farmer is tested by the state, then the farmer sends their own samples off for third party testing.

        The legality is also not exactly as widespread as you make it sound. Industrial hemp just for the use of textiles wasn’t even legal in my state until a few years ago (about 4 or 5). It then took them even longer to legalize the growth of varieties used for CBD production.
        Even in states where marijuana cannabis is completely legal, if a farmer is growing a crop of hemp for textiles and it runs “hot”, meaning over .3% THC, they are required to destroy it because it’s considered marijuana and they didn’t have the proper licensure for such. This can be absolutely devastating to farmers who’s sole industry is textile hemp. Again, this could be eradicated with the destruction of the stigma surrounding THC.

        Marijuana cannabis is just as much of a bioaccumulater as hemp cannabis. It is just as important to purchase your hemp cannabis products from a transparent, reputable farmer as it is your weed. The farmers I work with in my state are biodynamic/and or certified organic farmers that have spent years testing and building their soil. The result is a high quality, high terpene + flavonoid, high CBD and other cannabinoids, low THC cannabis product.
        I hate to see hemp cannabis and the CBD hemp industry almost demonized in this article. Again there is a LOT of mis-information out there so it’s incredibly easy to become mis-educated.

        Hemp cannabis is a wonderful option for either those who don’t live in medical or recreational states, and also those who are highly sensitive to THC. The products are saving and changing lives despite not having high amount of THC. And when marijuana becomes legalized nationally, many farmers will not stop growing these strains- they will just now be allowed to let them “run hot”, therefor selecting and breeding plants that develop around 1.5-2.5% THC because there’s definitely going to be a market for folks who don’t like the intoxicating effects it can have.

        I’d also like to touch on the fact that as proponents of legalized weed, and as it becomes trendier and more socially acceptable with the onset of full legalization, we need to uphold the utmost humility and know that there are vast amounts of people still incarcerated for non-violent cannabis related crimes. Even the legal hemp industry we would not have were it not for the martyrs.

        Thank you for writing such a well thought out and informative piece! It’s amazing how much people care about their food being organic but the thought has never crossed their mind about what chemicals they may be inhaling off their weed.
        Thank you so much for ceaselessly doing your part to wake people’s minds up to a “better way”.

        I hope you are interested and intrigued by the information i shared about hemp. It is hard to find info about it online, so if you’re interested in learning more and perhaps revising your article, many hemp farmers would be more than willing to talk to you!
        I’ve been a longtime follower on Instagram and I’m looking forward to many more incredible and informative blog posts from you.

        • DeannaCat

          Hey Lauren! Thank you for the kind words, support, and thanks for your input from the industry perspective. I appreciate it. A lot of what you said is very intriguing, but also raises some questions that I dug into further. When I was speaking about hemp, I was talking about true, very genetically-different-than-marijuana hemp. The industrial stuff that doesn’t produce flowers/buds. That type of hemp IS largely being used to extract CBD products and misleadingly sold as “medicinal”. That is the stuff you can find readily available at gas stations, grocery stores, and the like. They extract the CBD from the stalks and fiber portion, that is very low in other beneficial cannabinoids. I see it everywhere. People I know that NEED good CBD in their life for medical reasons are disappointed and left feeling like CBD isn’t helpful because they go pick up that crap from the corner store and surprise surprise, it doesn’t do anything.
          In regards to the comment about marijuana being a bioaccumulator, yes, it also is. So is kale. My point was that if you start with a plant that has low-CBD concentrations (like hemp) and have to extract and condense that CBD with a larger amount of raw material to get the same high concentration as marijuana, you are also exponentially condensing and extracting its contaminants. Less of that junk will come along with the lesser amount of marijuana raw material needed to get the same concentration of CBD. Does that make sense? And just like you said, for any product, a huge consideration needs to be taken on how they’re grown or treated to determine what is in the soil to uptake in the first place! I totally agree.
          I did go back and update the article to include a caveat for medicinally grown CBD “hemp” like you’re describing. The thing is, from my research, a lot of these modern hemp plants seem to have genetics cross-bred or hybrid with low-THC marijuana strains (which is why they grow and a look a lot more like marijuana, and why it gets higher levels of terps, etc) and why they can also accidentally “run hot” and go over the limit – which purely natural old school hemp does not do so easy. That is the case for Charlotte’s Web. It seems like an industry loophole – a way to keep growing “hemp” under laws that only allow hemp cultivation, keeping it low in THC so it doesn’t cross that threshold, but sort of hiding or ignoring the fact that marijuana genetics have a role here. It’s a great way to create quality products and benefit people in need while still following the law! It just kind of bums me out too because it further perpetuates the stigma that marijuana= bad while hemp = okay. Are the products your industry creates sold in medical cannabis shops only? That was sort of my point when I told people to go to pot shops, not the grocery store for the CBD. Be it from hemp, marijuana, or a cross between. 🙂 Anywho, thanks for pointing out that I left out this third category of cannabis, hybrids! I added a note about it, and changed some of the language around CBD point out this difference.

  • Karen

    This was a great article! Thank you so much, I am looking forward to your next posts on cultivating it, and especially interested in resources. Thank you, Deanna!

    • Paulette Richardson

      Hey Deanna – great article- some very good reading – I read that you sometimes compost your old or left over cannabis plants – that leaf is worth a lot here in Canada – not sure if you follow Bubbleman – Or Bubbleman’s World – but he has a ton of information – also Hash Church on YouTube –

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