Use your common sense The changes can no longer be reversed. After decades of repression, cannabis is clawing its way back into public awareness as a medicine. For consumers, this is an exciting but also a confusing time. Much of what we assume is true turns out to be wrong, or at least inaccurate. The main rule is: Use your common sense!
Sour Diesel. Gorilla Glue. Purple Haze. Tangerine Dream. Strawberry Kush. Anyone wanting to buy from an American dispensary will be spoilt for choice. But is there actually “Kush” in everything with “Kush” on the label? No! The legal cannabis market is still in its infancy and there is no official body to check the origin and quality of the products on offer. How could there be, when cannabis is still banned at federal level?
The situation is even more precarious in the Netherlands. Despite what many people think, cannabis is still illegal here. A blind eye is merely turned on sale and consumption, under the so-called “tolerance policy”. Because production is completely forbidden, the coffee shops are obliged to buy their goods on the black market. The current legislation plays into the hands of criminals, puts the health of consumers at risk, and ensures that the state is missing out on millions in tax revenues.
Are full spectrum profiles the solution?
For cannabis patients, things are looking slightly better. Bedrocan is the only manufacturer of medicinal cannabis with a contract with the Dutch Ministry of Health. Anyone who purchases a named variety from them can be sure that they will receive high-quality goods. The cannabinoids and terpenes contained by the product can be seen in the so-called full spectrum profile on the company’s website. Cannabis experts agree that this is far more useful for judging the likely effect of a variety than the previous breakdown into indica and sativa varieties Just recently, we published a report saying that this classification was now out of date because the scientific standard has moved on.
Thanks to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, we now know that cannabinoids like THC and CBD dock onto receptors in the human brain and body and in this way control important bodily functions. We are also discovering more about how terpenes work. For example, scientists have shown that alpha-Pinene, a terpene that smells of pine needles and exists in many cannabis varieties, stimulates alertness.
But what we still do not know is how the various cannabinoids and terpenes interact and influence one another. Alpha-Pinene may stimulate alertness, but there are indications that the effect may be reduced or even changed by other terpenes. Jeffrey Raber, whose company Werk Shop has analysed hundreds of varieties of cannabis, has this to say: “What is learned from basic research on a single terpene cannot be widely extrapolated. It really is the complete cannabis compound that we need to understand better.”
Like Dr Ethan Russo, who is viewed as a leading light in the field of cannabis research, he suspects that the real power of cannabis comes from the interaction between the substances it contains, known as the entourage effect. It is like a symphony. Only when all the instruments play in time and in tune with one another do you get a pleasant overall sound.
Until we understand the entourage effect better, the full spectrum profiles need to be treated with caution. They feign a level of accuracy which is simply not true. Cannabis is a living organism, and even if the same variety is grown under the same conditions, individual plants will have different amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. That is why at Sensi Seeds we do not provide full spectrum profiles for our varieties.
This is why everyone reacts differently to cannabis
The Israeli scientist Rafael Mechoulam is credited with discovering THC. To find out how it works, he gave a group of friends 10 mg of THC in its pure form. The feedback from each was very different. Some said, “Well, we feel really strange. In a different world. We want to lean back and enjoy it.” Others said, “Nothing happened,” but they could not stop talking and laughing. You will certainly have noticed that people react very differently to cannabis. Meanwhile, we have a pretty good idea why that is the case.
Genetics play a major role. Research findings show that people with a certain genetic mutation are prone to feeling worried and paranoid. Problems with short-term memory that are typically associated with cannabis consumption can also be traced back to certain genes. Around 20% of the US population produces more endocannabinoids than the rest, due to a gene mutation. It is assumed that this group is less inclined to consume cannabis.
Cannabis affects men and women differently. The former are more likely to suffer severe hunger attacks – munchies – and need to consume more to get the same effect.
Another decisive factor for the effect of cannabis is the person’s general state of health. Let us assume that you suffer from a disease for which cannabis is a useful treatment, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or fibromyalgia: There is a good chance that after consuming cannabis you will mainly experience a reduction in the symptoms of your illness and feel “normal”, rather than high.
Perhaps the most important reason why we all experience cannabis so differently is because we are all unique. No two people are the same, and depending on our individual temperaments, moods and life experiences, we react differently to cannabis. That brings use back to the theme of this article.
Use your own common sense. Really.
Product names and evaluations, indica vs sativa, full spectrum profiles, personal experience, dosing advice, recommendations from growers and friends – all this provides valuable information if you are looking for a new variety or want to improve your experience of cannabis. But it is much more important to use your common sense. That may sound like a cliché, but things are not always that simple. We are bombarded with information all day long. Information reaches us every second, and the dividing line between advertising and information is blurred, just like the line between public and private life.
People who are self-aware, listen to their own sense of reason and are not afraid to follow their own path will cope the best. Recently a friend told me that she only likes indica varieties because sativas make her too sluggish and unmotivated. I wanted to argue, but I stopped and thought about it first. Just because something is true for most people does not mean it is true for you. So keep an open mind, think critically and do only what suits you best. Amen.