WHAT IS CANNABIS?
As a member of the Diodocious family, Cannabis belongs to one of the most evolved and complex families in the plant kingdom, having male, female, and hermaphrodite sexes. Cannabis is one of the first plants cultivated by human beings. Aside from its fiber being the strongest among plants, and its seeds being one of the most nutritious renewable food sources on the planet, Cannabis has been used, and widely accepted as a medicine for over 3,000 years – in much the same ways as it is used today for a variety of ailments. Queen Victoria regularly used “cannabis extractums” for pain, and from 1842-1890, Cannabis preparations were the 2nd and 3rd most prescribed medicines in the USA, and used to treat many ailments, from asthma to infection [Herer, pg. 9]. Political and industrial agenda, combined with relatively new myths have created and maintained the idea that cannabis is used solely for recreational purposes.
OK, so we know Cannabis is a plant that has been used for food, for fiber, and for medicine, but what should I, as a patient, know about the plant, you ask?
Different parts of the cannabis plant are used differently. The seeds are used for food [or of course, to grow more cannabis], the stalks and stems are used for fiber, and the flowers are dried, then used in medical preparations. More specifically, the part of the plant that contains the medicine [or cannabinoids, of which there are usually 5 present] are the glandular trichomes [often called "crystals"]. A high concentration of these trichomes can make the cannabis flowers look “sugar coated”, and an informed patient will look for medicine displaying more trichomes than not. These trichomes are extracted by various means to make kief and hash, or are dissolved in a digestible base as with tinctures [or "extractums" as they were once called], or integrated into food, as with brownies or various “edibles”. There has never been a single death recorded in history attributed to cannabis use, even in cases of overdose [Gardner, 2007].
THE THC MOLECULE
THC is an abbreviation for a compound found in cannabis known as Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol. It if often named as “the active ingredient” in cannabis, however, cannabis contains at least 5 other cannabinoids shown to possess bioactive properties. THC has many bioactive properties, many of which are recognized most readily in the mental state of the user. THC has been shown to be an effective anti-depressant, appetite stimulant and is effective in reducing spasms associated with Multiple Sclerosis, and a wide range of other applications, too numerous to detail here [Gardner, 2007].
THE CBD MOLECULE
CBD is another abbreviation, and stands for Cannabidiol. Cannabidiol has NO psychoactive properties, meaning, it does not produce a “high” or feeling of euphoria. CBD does however have some very positive effects for the medical cannabis patient. CBD, for one, mitigates the negative side- effects associated with THC, namely paranoia, anxiety, and accelerated heartbeat. CBD also has been shown to be an immunomodulator (a substance which supports the immune system) with “anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti- psychotic, anti-oxidant and neuroprotective properties” [Ibid, paragraph 3]. CBD has also been shown in clinical studies to be as effective as atypical antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia [Zuardi. 2006]. However, because CBD is also a component naturally found in Cannabis, it is banned as a Schedule I substance by the DEA. Again, CBD does not produce a “high” and no injuries or fatalities have ever been associated with [Gardner, 2007]. The reduced psychoactivity of CBD-rich Cannabis may make it an appealing treatment option for patients seeking anti-inflammatory, anti- pain, anti-anxiety and/or anti-spasm effects without disconcerting euphoria or lethargy. Scientific and clinical studies indicate that CBDcould be effective in easing symptoms of a wide range of difficult to control conditions, including: rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, PTSD, epilepsy, antibiotic-resistant infections and neurological disorders. CBD has demonstrated neuroprotective effects, and its anti-cancer potentialis currently being explored at several academic research centers in the U.S. and other countries. [www.projectcbd.org, 2011]
INDICA & SATIVA
There are two common types of cannabis: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. These species have different therapeutic effects and can be effectively used to treat different symptoms. There are many types of cannabis that are hybrids between these two strains that have different affects. Through years of cross breeding and hybridization, many varieties of cannabis have equal percentages of indica and sativa components. Thus, offering the therapeutic benefits of both types.
Sativa plants have less chlorophyll than their Indica counterpart. It has a higher THC content to Cannabinoid [CBD] ratio and offers a much more energetic type of effect. Sativa is used most commonly to elevate a depressed mood. Generally speaking the sativa plant is the much taller with long, lanky leaves. Sativa strains primarily affect the mind and emotions. They are often described as stimulating, uplifting and energizing.
The therapeutic effects of Sativa are generally much shorter lasting in duration [1- 2 hours] than Indica strains and are generally better for daytime use. These strains can be particularly helpful to treat the psychological toll of many illnesses.
Sativa strains offer the following benefits:
- Reduces nausea
- Stimulates appetite
- Reduces depression
- Energizes and stimulates
- Reduces awareness of pain
- Relieves headaches and migraines
- Relieves anxiety
- Reduces migraine symptoms
Indica has a higher CBD content to THC ratio and induces a more physically relaxing effect. Indica is a therapeutic treatment for chronic pain, seizures, multiple sclerosis, nausea and more. Indica strains primarily have physical affects, although the relief from physical symptoms can also have a positive emotional effect. They are often described as relaxing, sedating, and pain reducing. The therapeutic effects are generally much longer lasting [3-4 hours] than Sativas. Because they can be especially sedating, Indicas are generally best in the evening.
Indica strains offer the following benefits:
- Reduces nausea
- Reduces pain
- Relaxes muscles
- Relieves spasms
- Reduces inflammation
- Relieves insomnia
- Reduces anxiety
- Reduces intra-ocular pressure
- Stimulates appetite
- Reduces seizure frequency
Smoking is the most common form of ingesting cannabis therapeutically. It is fast working, simple, potent and cost effective. The downside is that smoking cannabis irritates the throat and lungs, and can cause inflammation in these areas. Tar produced from cannabis smoke, while not proven to be carcinogenic [cause cancer] is more abundantly produced than tar from tobacco [which has been proven to be carcinogenic].
Vaporization is a process that heats the medical cannabis to an optimal temperature of 180° – just hot enough to evaporate the natural oils of the medical cannabis, but not hot enough to burn it, and cause smoke. The big difference between vaporizing and smoking is what you inhale. When you vaporize, 94.8% of the substances in the vapor are cannabinoids [the medicine]! It’s the purest way to medicate via inhalation.
THC & CBD INFUSED TINCTURES
Tinctures are medical cannabis soaked for a period of time in either vegetable glycerin, alcohol, or vinegar. Since the essential oils in cannabis are not soluble in water, an oil or alcohol base must be used. Tinctures are taken under the tongue [sublingually], and differ from edibles in that the medicine does not go to the stomach, and pass through the digestive system for absorption. Instead, with tinctures, the medicine passes through the thin skin under the tongue [titration] and passes directly into the bloodstream. The advantages of using tinctures are that they are fast working [5-20 minutes], offer long lasting effects, dosages can vary and be controlled easily and low cost.
Medical cannabis is often taken in food when used for pain, and sleep issues. When taken in food, or as an “edible”. The effects are long lasting, very potent, and with experience dosages can be easily regulated. The disadvantages of medicating with edibles are that they are unappealing in cases of nausea, and the onset of effects can take an hour or more for some people, depending on individual metabolism. Edibles come in many forms, ranging from baked goods like brownies and cookies using medicated butter, to capsules, drinks and hash infused candies.
QUALITY CONTROL STANDARDS
We have strict quality control standards for our medical cannabis, edibles and other products. Some members may have compromised immune systems or chemical sensitivities. Therefore, we only supply medical cannabis that is free of chemicals, harmful contaminants and mold. The Vapor Room Cooperative was the first dispensary in San Francisco to utilize on site, the QuantaCann Spectral Analyzer to test for THC-A, THC, CBD percentages as well as Moisture content. Combining Near- Infrared Reflective Spectroscopy and thousands of calibration samples from Steep Hill Lab’s vast database, QuantaCann provides cannabis analysis, quickly and easily. This method of analysis is already widely used in pharmaceutical, food and agricultural industries.
Due to distance restrictions and health considerations, and in accordance with San Francisco MCD regulations, members may receive up to 28 grams of medical cannabis per day. However, to address concerns of possible diversion, we reserve the right to limit the amount of medicine that an individual member may receive.