Tag: cannabis (page 1 of 15)

Cannabis is a Gateway Drug! (But It’s Not What You’ve Been Told)

This article was originally published on CannabisHealthIndex.com.

OK, let’s start this way. Synapses that fire together wire together. What? Stay with me. A synapse (more specifically a synaptic cleft) is empty space (a gateway) between nerve cells. This is true for the entire brain and for all those super highways of connections called our nervous system(s).

When we touch a toe to the cool surface of a pond the sensation is transmitted from one nerve cell to another in form of electrical signals that travel up the nerves until they reach a synapse. The signal (the charge) must now cross the gateway, the synaptic cleft, and it does so by releasing chemicals (neurotransmitters) into the space between nerve cells.


It is upon these that the electrical charge rides across the portal and continues its journey to the brain where the signal is received, processed, and where we get to choose how we will respond. Pull back? Jump in? We decide.


Now, the same is true for thought, feeling, or memory transmissions. When we generate a thought, recall a memory, or sense a feeling, it too is transmitted throughout the body. With each transmission we have options. Do we love this thought, this feeling, or that memory? Do we hate it? Does it scare us? Does it produce stress? Or does it make us feel relaxed?

At this point the reader might ask why is this all relevant to cannabis being a gateway drug? Stick with me, just a little longer.

The body is hardwired for efficiency. For every time the same charge is expressed, the gateways grow closer to reduce distance and make it easier for the electrical charge to cross the cleft. The more often we think the same thought, experience the same feeling, tell yourself the same story, the easier it will be to redo it until it becomes the path of least resistance.

Our thoughts (repeated) and our responses (repeated) are some of the most powerful forces that shape our brain (and our entire nervous system) and in doing so have great power over our health and well-being.

Wow. Let that sink in for but a moment.

We are designed to do this all the time! Our brain grows and evolves with every thought we think, especially those we think more frequently. In fact our most repeated thought and emotional narratives becomes the basis for how we experience ourselves, others, and the world (more on this in Part 2: How Changing Ourselves Changes the World Around Us).

Think of it this way. Imagine the synaptic cleft as a gorge you need to cross. Let’s say you have two ways across. Option A is the one you have taken many times before. It takes you across but is an unhealthy and difficult crossing.

Option B sounds really good, healthy, and leaves you feeling invigorated on the other side. But it is very unfamiliar and therefore you’re a little hesitant to try it out.


How do most of us make that decision? If it’s the end of the day and we are tired, we might feel that it takes too much energy to try something new, even if the outcome would be better. So we go down the old and familiar path even though we know the cost will be high.

In this scenario, option A is a pessimistic state flush with emotions such as stress or fear, and option B would be an exploratory or adventurous state flush with feeling open or relaxed. The road we take most often will become our reality. Fear vs trust, worry vs wonder, or anxiety vs willingness to explore and embrace new things.

If we go with option A, fear, like all chronic negativity, becomes the source of chronic stress. Our body will be flushed continuously with stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenalin, or dopamine for example.


Function of Cortisol in Stress (source)

Chronic exposure to these molecules are clearly associated with reducing our resilience, making us vulnerable to inflammation, and lowering our immunity not to speak of their ill effects on our heart or blood pressure for example. Given the consequences of option A, why is it so hard for many of us to choose option B?

At this point it would really be nice to give ourselves a break. For many of us option A has become so hard wired into our nervous system because we have chosen it so often.

Ok. Now, enter the cannabis-experience.

Remember how we started? Synapses that fire together wire together! It is important to note that much of our “firing and wiring” is actually guided by endocannabinoid receptors inside the synapse.

Cannabinoids are significantly involved in bridging signals. However, rather than merely ferrying over a signal cannabinoids also help to positively regulate additional, complex brain chemistry.

And here is the magic of cannabis. Properly used cannabis is a mindfulness practice that make it easier to explore new choices.

In fact cannabis works for so many different types of patients suffering from so many different diseases because it affects the body and the mind in such as way as to unblock old paths, stimulate the growth of new ones and thus fortify and enhance our capacity for healing.

Mindfulness practices in mind-body medicine work through the same mechanism. That’s the reason why they are so effectively used in individualized, integrative medicine and for a similarly wide range of patient populations.

Both (endocannabinoids and plant-based cannabinoids) can reduce chronic stress and induce deep relaxation making new pathways more available and accessible. Plus, both naturally and easily tilt the mind toward positivity (optimism or positive affect). And, in doing so both can become “hard wired” gateways to deeper mental, emotional, physical and spiritual healing and well being.


Uwe Blesching is a medical journalist and regular contributor in the fields of cannabinoid science, mind-body medicine, phytopharmacology, and more. Blesching earned his PhD from the Western Institute for Social Research. Much of the information from his most recent book, The Cannabis Health Index, has been made available on Cannabis Reports as well.

Stay tuned for Part 2. How Changing Ourselves (With Cannabis, Mindfulness, and/or Both) Changes the World Around Us

For the most up to date info on Cannabis Reports, follow us on Twitter, and like us on our Facebook page.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Drafts Letter to the CDC Calling for an Aggressive Response to Opioid Abuse

On February 8th, 2016, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to Dr. Thomas Frieden, the Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In this letter, Senator Warren addresses the opioid epidemic that is sweeping our nation, and asks for the CDC to continue aggressive pursuit of a solution.

Cannabis as an Alternative to Opioids for Chronic and Acute Pain

Cannabis as an Alternative to Opioids for Chronic and Acute Pain

The increase in opioid addiction and unintentional overdoses has spiked in recent years, and in this letter, Senator Warren calls for the CDC to consider alternative solutions to opioids for chronic and acute pain. The letter was also sent to the acting directors of the National Institute of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Senator Warren’s most notable suggestion is for a rapid increase in researching the benefits of medical cannabis as an alternative to the destructiveness of opioid abuse. CBD and THC have appeared to be efficacious in previous clinical studies. A few examples of these clinical studies:

Senator Warren’s letter was originally published at http://www.warren.senate.gov.

Full Letter from Senator Elizabeth Warren, February 8th, 2016

Dear Dr. Frieden,

As you know, our country is faced with an opioid epidemic that only continues to grow at an alarming pace. I continue to hear stories from constituents across Massachusetts affected by this crisis – parents fighting for their kids, doctors fighting for their patients, and communities fighting for each other.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, there were almost 1,100 confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths in 2014 – a 65% increase from 2012. This 2014 estimate is the highest ever in Massachusetts history.[1] Opioid abuse is a national concern and warrants swift and immediate action.

Prescription painkillers are at the center of this epidemic. According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA),  the U.S. remains the largest consumer in the world. Despite accounting for only 5% of the global population, Americans consume 75% of prescription opioid medications in the world.[2]

In 2013, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported that more hydrocodone acetaminophen (trade name Vicodin) was prescribed to Medicare beneficiaries than any other drug.[3] Prescribers – specifically those in primary care settings – are truly on the front lines and have the ability to stem the tide of this growing epidemic.

I applaud the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the actions it has taken to study the epidemiology of this public health crisis, support the ongoing work conducted in states, and provide guidelines to prescribers on the use of painkillers for chronic pain treatment.

These guidelines are aggressive and provide much-needed direction for primary care physicians treating chronic pain while making clear that there are certain circumstances for which opioid prescriptions are appropriate. The guidelines are an important step in combatting this epidemic, much like those issued by the Massachusetts Medical Society, which also provide prescribing guidance for patients with chronic pain, as well as acute pain.

As with the draft CDC guidelines, there is an emphasis on determining when to continue opioid use and assessing appropriate durations of such prescriptions. I strongly urge you to finalize the CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain as soon as possible to inform stakeholders and lead to further collaborative and informative discussions about additional ways to help prescribers combat the opioid epidemic.

Additionally, I hope that the CDC continues to explore every opportunity and tool available to work with states and other federal agencies on ways to tackle the opioid epidemic and collect information about alternative pain relief options. Your agency has produced an enormous amount of scientific and epidemiological data that has helped to inform stakeholders on the breadth of this crisis – however there is still much that we don’t know. I encourage the CDC to collaborate with the National Institutes of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Drug Enforcement Administration to fill the gap in our knowledge about:

  1. the long term impact that opioids have on children treated at a young age;
  2. the use, uptake, and effectiveness of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain treatment in states where it is legal;
  3. the impact of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on opioid overdose deaths;
  4. the increased use of fentanyl, including its sources;
  5. how fentanyl may be contributing to opioid overdoes and deaths.

Fighting this epidemic will take hard work on the part of federal, state, and local governments working together with local law enforcement, medical professionals, and members of the community. I appreciate the work that the CDC has done and ask that you continue to work collaboratively with stakeholders to finalize the Prescribing Guidelines without further delay and identify other ways to aggressively tackle this issue.


Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator (Massachusetts)

CC: Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health
CC: Ms. Kana Enomoto, Acting Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
CC: Mr. Chuck Rosenberg, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration

[1] http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/quality/drugcontrol/county-level-pmp/data-brief-overdose-deaths-ma-residents-january-2016.pdf
[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/popping-pills-prescription-drug-abuse-in-america
[3] https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2015-Fact-sheets-items/2015-04-30.html

For the most up to date info on Cannabis Reports, follow us on Twitter, and like us on our Facebook page. If you would like to learn more about cannabis as an alternative to opioids, or you have further questions about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s letter, please join the discussion in the comment section below, or through our social media links.

Find Smoke Reports at The 2015 Emerald Cup: One of California’s Favorite Cannabis Events

Some twelve years ago, Tim Blake decided that California was producing such good cannabis that the regional cultivators deserved their own competition. So Mr. Tim Blake went ahead and founded The Emerald Cup, which has become California’s most anticipated cannabis event over the past decade.


The event is designed for cultivators and other producers to show off their cannabis goods alongside the best options in the world. Unlike other cannabis competitions that happen all over, The Emerald Cup recognizes that competitive entries are from some of the best cannabis growers on the planet, so the event carries with it a deep respect for these cultivators, extractors, and edible makers.


Smoke Reports loves to attend these type of events in order to document the growth of the cannabis industry. Yet The Emerald Cup offers something even beyond the standard of cannabis competitions. The fact that this event it taken the most seriously by those producing the best cannabis brings with it a feeling of sincerity. The Emerald Cup truly does make you feel like you are part of a multigenerational cannabis community.


Come hang out with the Smoke Reports team as we run around the event capturing the awesome companies that make The Emerald Cup one of the most special events available for cannabis. The event is at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds on December 12th and 13th. One-day tickets are $55, and 2-day passes are $100.


“The Emerald Cup is Northern California’s premier destination for medicinal cannabis, while advancing the concept of sustainable, outdoor farming. Its reputation is firmly solidified as the largest, most respected, organic, outdoor, medicinal cannabis competition in the world. As a group, The Emerald Cup prides itself in bringing together experts and educators in the cannabis field to our fellow farmers, patients, and patrons each year. It is a community celebration that has grown to become a global movement honoring the year’s finest, organic, sun-grown, medicinal cannabis harvest.” –TheEmeraldCup.com

Awesome Cannabis Companies with Exciting Exhibits


AbsoluteXtracts is a California cannabis company that specializes in strain-specific extracts, but also produces medicated sprays and honey. The Emerald Cup and AbsoluteXtracts have partnered up to create disposable vaporizer cartridges in honor of California’s favorite cannabis competition and exposition. The strains chosen for this special batch of cartridges are Berry White and Royal Kush. Check out the AbsoluteXtracts booth and mention “AbsoluteEmerald” for your chance to puff on this limited edition product.


Care By Design is a progressive medical cannabis manufacturing company that offers patients sublingual sprays that contain specific ratios of THC and CBD. Cannabis ratios are incredibly important because they allow patients to measure dosages, and find the optimum amount of cannabinoids for them. Care By Design offers sprays with a ratio as even as 1:1 CBD to THC, and as high as 18 parts CBD to 1 part THC.


RVR is a distribution company that has been working with the Smoke Reports platform for quite some time. The company has a commitment to making both the producers and the retailers happy by reducing friction in the supply chain. RVR Distribution is incredibly forward-thinking and understands that technology is just as valuable as personal relationships when it comes to providing patients with access to cannabis.

Logo Green

Clean Green Certified is doing something fundamentally important for the cannabis industry and community. Cannabis is an agricultural product but it is not recognized by the USDA, and therefore ineligible for official, federally-approved classification as being ‘organic.’ This means that even farmers taking great care to grow cannabis to the same high standards as other organic farms are not considered equal. Sure, they can call their flowers organic, but so can every other cannabis farm in the area, and there is no means to compare the quality of the flowers.

Enter Clean Grean Certified, the first company to offer unbiased evaluations of cultivation practices and flower production techniques. Clean Green Certified modeled their evaluations off of international organic and sustainability standards, so that Californian cannabis cultivators and retailers can show off the fact that they only carry the best, healthiest, most sustainable cannabis flowers.


East Bay Express is a Bay Area print and online publication that has been incredibly supportive of cannabis news in the media. David Downs, who has become a sort of journalistic celebrity for cannabis, is in charge of the East Bay Express’ popular blog ‘Legalization Nation.’ Downs has been reporting on California cannabis culture for a long while, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

A Few Cannabis Pioneers Speaking at The Emerald Cup


Robert Connell Clarke is one of the world’s leading experts on cannabis science and history. Clarke’s newest book, Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany, is considered the most valuable resource for understanding the evolution of cannabis and how the hybridized strains of today came to be. Clarke also works with the Phylos Bioscience team to help map the cannabis genome.


Ed Rosenthal is one of the most notable cannabis pioneers alive today. Rosenthal was a High Times columnist for a long time as the magazine was getting off of its feet. He eventually wrote The Big Book of Buds and documented his horticultural experiences with cannabis strains, prompting breeders all over the world to try and produce new strains.


Dr. Sue Sisley is one of the leading cannabis scientists, and recently secured funding for a triple-blind clinical study on the effectiveness of cannabis treatment for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Dr. Sisley has been persecuted by the education system in her efforts to study cannabis, and earlier this year she received state-approved funding for a cannabis study in a revolutionary turn of events.


Martin A. Lee, the founder of Project CBD, is a long time advocate for patients to have safe access to cannabis medicine that is consistent and easily divided into doses that fit that person’s specific needs. Creating an industry that makes products like this possible has been a journey for Project CBD, who continually investigate products may not live up to their medical claims.


Kyle Kushman is a cannabis cultivator with international acclaim. He has won three cannabis cups in the Best Flowers category, and he is also well known for Kushman’s Vegamatrix, considered by many to be the best commercially-available nutrient for cannabis cultivation.


Julianna Carella is a cannabis chef and the founder of Auntie Dolores, one of the most well known cannabis edibles companies in California. On top of making wonderful medicine for the community, Julianna is a major proponent behind women working in the cannabis industry, including her work with the group Women Grow.


Hezekiah Allen is a Humboldt native from a multigenerational farming family. Hezekiah is currently the Executive Director of the Emerald Growers Association, and he works with policymakers in Sacramento to promote sustainable and responsible regulations and licensing processes.


Kyle Turley is a former American football player that played in the NFL for ten seasons. Since retiring from professional football, Turley has been a major advocate for increased player safety in football and sports. He holds an active seat on the board of directors for the Gridiron Greats Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting former NFL players and their families as football-related health problems begin to develop.

Awesome musicians and the award ceremony



The Emerald Cup is going to be incredibly fun, especially because cannabis is additionally represented by musical performances. Among some of the awesome performers will be reggae-superstars Rebelution, livetronica performance art band Beats Antique, and reggae fusion artists Collie Buddz. There are many other musical performers as well as other entertainment opportunities. Check out the full list at www.theemeraldcup.com.


The 2015 Emerald Cup: See You There!

The Emerald Cup promises to be the most fun and rewarding cannabis competition and exposition of 2015. Tickets are still available, but you shouldn’t even think about waiting since the event is this weekend (Dec. 12-13). Join the Smoke Reports team in Santa Rosa as we bounce around The Emerald Cup making friends, swapping stories, and introducing likeminded folks as the cannabis industry grows.


For the most up to date info on Smoke Reports, follow us on Twitter @smokereports or like us on our Facebook page. If you want to meet up with us at The Emerald Cup, please join the discussion in the comments section below, or through our social media links.

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