In this behind-the-scenes interview we talk with Morris Beegle of We Are For Better Alternatives (Colorado Hemp Company, NoCo Hemp Expo, Let's Talk Hemp, and others). In this conversation we talked about the many different uses of the Cannabis plant besides cannabinoid-rich resin production, the challenges of getting hemp alternatives accepted in the market, the future of the industrial use of mushrooms, and much more.
Learn more about WAFBA at: https://wafba.org/
Stay curious, and take it easy!
Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
In this behind-the-scenes episode we sit down with Kyle Boyar, vice chair and scholarship chair for CANN, the Cannabis Chemistry Subdivision of the American Chemical Society, and Director of Product Science at TagLeaf. We talked about the ways Cannabis testing labs test Cannabis samples for microbiological contaminants, how microbiological testing can go wrong, other issues facing Cannabis testing, controversy around a medical condition called Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), and more!
This conversation was cut to fit our new 1.5 hour limit.
To listen to the entire 2 hour conversation, join our community on Patreon at www.Patreon.com/CuriousAboutCannabis
Enjoy and stay curious!
Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
In this behind-the-scenes episode we sit down with organic chemist Jackie von Salm PhD (@terp_queen_phd on Instagram), who was a recent winner of the ElSohly award given to outstanding researchers in the Cannabis space. Her team recently discovered the presence of a terpene common only among certain varieties of Cannabis, which is not tested for currently among most Cannabis testing labs and has largely been excluded from the discussion when talking about categorizing Cannabis varieties by chemical profile. We also discuss the process of discovering natural products suitable for drug development, how chemistry is interconnected with ecology and psychology, what she wants to see from future Cannabis research and much more!
Jackie is a co-founder and CSO of the company Psilera Bioscience which is dedicated to exploring the potential of psychoactive natural products to treat mental health disorders.
Learn more about Psilera Bioscience at www.psilera.com
Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
In this behind-the-scenes episode, we talk with Austin Flohrschutz, the Science Director for TruPotency.com, a CBD retailer that performs extensive third party testing on CBD products to screen for fraudulent or mislabeled products. At the time that we spoke, Austin informed me that they had tested 400 products, and 30% of those products passed testing. The vast majority of failures were for mislabeled potency. Around 0.5% failed for contaminants like heavy metals or residual solvents.
Through this conversation we discuss the extent of CBD product fraud in the market, what TruPotency has seen regarding CBD product quality, issues related to cannabinoid testing, research into the psychedelic Salvinorin A from Salvia divinorum and implications for alternative opioid therapies, and much more.
Enjoy and stay curious!
Web | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
BTS #26 Dr. Genester Wilson-King on Cannabis and Hormones, Women's Health, Inequalities in HealthcareRead Now
In this behind-the-scenes episode we talk with Dr. Genester Wilson-King, a board certified OB/GYN, Cannabis clinician, and hormone expert. Our conversation spanned many topics including how cannabinoids and hormones interact with one another, how Cannabis affects women differently than men, how Cannabis affects women after menopause differently than women experiencing cyclical hormones, how Cannabis affects cis gender people different than trans gender people, how Cannabis affects fertility, Cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding and much more!
Learn more about Dr. Wilson-King here: https://www.victoryrejuvenationcenter.com/
Enjoy and stay curious!
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode we talk with Clarenda (daughter of Clarence and Brenda) "Farmer Cee" Stanley of Green Heffa Farms! Green Heffa Farms is a medicinal plant farm and learning laboratory that is dedicated to teaching community members, with a focus on women of color, about food production, resource management, gardening, and medicinal plants. We talk about how Cee found her way into farming, her perspective of ecological consciousness in farming and land use, what led to the development of her first hemp product, experiences with systemic racism in the agricultural and Cannabis industries, and much more.
Learn more about Green Heffa Farms at www.GreenHeffaFarms.com
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) interview we join Angus of The Real Seed Company once again to discuss a recently published paper entitled "A Classification of Endangered High-THC Cannabis Domesticates and Their Wild Relatives" by John McPartland and Ernest Small. We discussed some of our basic thoughts about the paper, how the new taxonomy will influence The Real Seed Company's operations and what plants they collect from, the implications this new taxonomy has for preserving the dwindling genetic diversity of the Cannabis plant, how landrace Cannabis farmers in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other areas are getting hit hard by COVID-19, and much more.
This is an edited version of our conversation. The full conversation is nearly three hours long and can be found at Patreon.com/CuriousAboutCannabis
I hope you enjoy! Stay curious
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) interview we sit down with Cannabis activist, entrepreneur and actor Andrew DeAngelo, best known for being the co-founder of Harborside Dispensary in California. In our conversation we dive into the psychology and sociology of the Cannabis culture, exploring the role stigma plays in a Cannabis user's life, strategies for healing from the trauma of stigma, effective ways of affecting change, and much more.
Learn more about Andrew DeAngelo at www.AndrewDeAngelo.com
Learn more about the Last Prisoner Project at www.LastPrisonerProject.org
Note: Please forgive the audio quality of my microphone in this interview. For whatever reason, my audio was a bit distorted. The issue has since been resolved.
BTS #22 Charles McElroy of Goldleaf on Cannabis Science education, The Patient Journal, Changing StigmaRead Now
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) interview we talk with Charles McElroy, the founder of Goldleaf, a science-forward Cannabis focused print company that has become famous for its journals, like The Patient Journal, as well as their science posters and educational materials. In this conversation we talk about how Charles came to start Goldleaf, the work that went into developing The Patient Journal, feedback that he has received from clinicians and patients that use the journal, the role that companies like Goldleaf play in affecting public perception of Cannabis, the future of the Cannabis industry and more.
Learn more about Goldleaf at www.shopgoldleaf.com
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode recorded in the summer of 2019, we join Hillside Hemp CEO and Cannabis cultivator, Samuel Moore, at his hemp farm in Southern Oregon to talk about sustainable farming practices, how small scale Cannabis farms can survive the growth of hemp farming, things to consider when sourcing Cannabis seeds, lessons learned from the "Great Hemp Seed Debacle of 2018", and much more.
Connect with Hillside Hemp on Instagram @hillside_hemp
We hope to catch up with Sam again soon to see how his farm is doing this year compared to last year when this interview was recorded. Enjoy and stay curious!
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode we sit down with Dr. Linda Klumpers, a clinical pharmacologist that has been studying how Cannabis and cannabinoids affect the body. Our conversation covered a lot of topics including how cannabinoids affect the body, clinical evidence for the entourage effect, how Cannabis affects pain and sleep, misconceptions about Cannabis, differences between studying Cannabis in the Netherlands versus the United States, and more!
Besides the clinical cannabinoid research that she is involved with, Dr. Klumpers is also the mind behind Cannify, a quiz that helps connect people to peer-reviewed human clinical data about Cannabis.
Learn more about Cannify by going to www.Cannify.us
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode we talk with Dr. Junella Chin, a physician that has specialized in Cannabis and cannabinoid medicine. Our conversation spanned a variety of topics including pediatric Cannabis use, how Cannabis interacts with sexual hormones like estrogen and testosterone, how people of different ethnicities respond differently to Cannabis, the state of cannabinoid education in the modern healthcare system, and more!
You can learn more about Dr. Junella Chin by visiting www.DrJuneChin.com
In this behind-the-scenes episode of the Curious About Cannabis Podcast, host Jason Wilson sits down with Medicinal Genomics founder Kevin McKernan to talk about Cannabis genetics and the mysteries of the Cannabis genome. This extended two hour conversation is packed with critical information and covers a wide range of scientific and philosophical topics including how cannabinoids, sex and pest resistance are regulated by genes, philosophical issues surrounding GMOs, genetic testing technologies, epigenetics, common misunderstandings about genomics, and much more. A portion of this conversation was spent reviewing the results of a recent groundbreaking genomics study that examined the genes responsible for sex expression, cannabinoid production, and pest resistance in Cannabis. To learn more about this study, visit this link to read the pre-print article.
Find the Curious About Cannabis Podcast at www.CACPodcast.com or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can support the show and get access to exclusive members-only content by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/CuriousAboutCannabis
Follow Curious About Cannabis on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and subscribe to the Curious About Cannabis YouTube channel for videos of interviews and other educational content.
The Curious About Cannabis Podcast is produced by Natural Learning Enterprises, a mission-driven company dedicated to enhancing public scientific literacy about the natural world through print and digital science education media. Curious About Cannabis is just one of several learning initiatives produced by Natural Learning Enterprises. To learn more, visit www.NaturalEdu.com
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode we sit down with Cannabis educator Murphy Murri to talk all about Cannabis extracts and extraction technology. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics including the value of mentorship, how to stay safe while working with hydrocarbon solvents, how to produce standardized extracts using chromatography, the variables that influence an extract's texture and consistency, and much more.
I hope you enjoy! Stay curious, and take it easy.
Murphy Murri's Instagram: www.instagram.com/murphymurri
Sano Gardens: https://sanogardens.com/
Future 4200: www.future4200.com
Good Life Gang: www.goodlifegang.tech
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode we talk with Wendy Nguyen of Wendy’s Lookbook and Artemis – a premiere CBD shop in New York City. Wendy has a fascinating story of surviving trauma, navigating the foster care system, dodging homelessness to later become a famous YouTube content creator, fashion blogger, and social media influencer. While battling several medical issues, Wendy discovered Cannabis and CBD, going on to focus her work on opening and operating New York City’s only minority woman-run CBD shop. Artemis focuses on science and education and is supported by science and medical advisors to provide patrons with a unique introduction to legal hemp products.
Wendy’s Lookbook: www.wendyslookbook.com
Wendy’s Lookbook on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/wendyslookbook
What's in a name?
In our final episode for Season One, we explore the ways in which Cannabis is named and represented in the market place - by strain name and indica/sativa designation. How do strain names and indica/sativa designations relate to genetic lineage and chemical profiles? Where did the indica vs. sativa model come from? How should confused consumers navigate the strain game?
Contributions from: Angus of The Real Seed Company; Steve Albarran and Brad Bogus of Confident Cannabis
The Real Seed Company: www.therealseedcompany.com
Confident Cannabis: www.confidentcannabis.com
Connect by Confident Cannabis: connect.confidentcannabis.com
Phylos Galaxy: https://phylos.bio/galaxy/
Kannapedia by Medicinal Genomics: http://www.kannapedia.net/
You’re listening to the Curious About Cannabis Podcast.
Before we get started, I have a short announcement.
This is the last episode of our first season, and I want to just take a moment to say thank you so much for coming on this journey with me over the past several months. We will be taking a small break from episodes like these to get new content ready to share with you for season two, which will start this Summer. We will be restructuring the podcast a bit, based on your feedback. Going forward we will be releasing the behind-the-scenes interviews regularly throughout the entire year, but we will only be releasing seasons of our topical episodes, like this one, twice a year, with one season starting in late Fall, and one season starting in Summer.
If you can’t wait for the next season, consider becoming a patron at patreon.com/curiousaboutcannabis where you will get access to a secret patron’s only podcast feed with content you won’t hear on our public feed as well as early access to Season Two content. You’ll also get access to other educational content, early releases of videos, exclusive videos, discounts for the Curious About Cannabis Book, and more. Check it out at patreon.com/CuriousAboutCannabis.
Thanks again for your support and tuning in throughout this season.
Now, without further ado, let’s get on to the episode.
Gorilla Glue. Grape Krush. Blue Dream. Koala. Mr. Nice. OG Kush. Skywalker Haze. Moonshine Haze. AK-47. Trainwreck. Tangie. Hash Plant. Trinity. Vortex.
What’s in a name?
Go into any legal Cannabis dispensary in Oregon and your head is likely to spin trying to keep up with the seemingly limitless numbers of names of different varieties of Cannabis on the shelf. It’s enough to keep Cannabis connouisseurs on their toes, while the Cannabis curious are sometimes left confused and bewildered. And beyond these various strain names, we have other labels, like indica, sativa, and hybrid. Supposedly some make you sleepy. Some make you feel awake. Others are supposedly balanced for a productive lifestyle. But is there really anything to this system of naming and categorizing Cannabis varieties? What do all of these names mean?
In this episode, we will be taking a look into the world of Cannabis names, The Strain Game.
Hey everybody this is Jason Wilson with the Curious About Cannabis Podcast.
If you have been involved in the Cannabis industry for any amount of time or have visited a dispensary, you may be familiar with the company and website, Leafly. Leafly was originally started as a way to collect information on Cannabis strains. Over time they have evolved, but their core focus on strains has certainly not gone away. Here is some copy from their website describing Cannabis strains:
“Marijuana strains are organized into three primary types: sativa, indica, and hybrid. Each type of strain has unique effects on both the mind and body. For example, sativa strains are uplifting and pair well with activities like social gatherings and being physically active. On the opposite end of the strain spectrum, indica strains are relaxing and can help amplify a deep level of physical sedation - making indica great for those times when you need deep sleep. Lastly, there are hybrid strains which fall between indicas and sativas. Hybrid strains offer a combination of both energizing and relaxing effects. Hybrid strains are great for the times when it’s too late for an energizing sativa or too early for a sedating indica strain.”
But is this legit? Or could this be a well-intentioned, but ill-fated effort that is ultimately misleading consumers and promoting bias and placebo in the consumer market?
Many claims are often made surrounding the name of a Cannabis variety including information about the plant’s genetic lineage, it’s chemical profile, and the effect it will have on a consumer. In today’s episode we are going to be taking a critical look at the way Cannabis is commonly categorized – by strain name and indica/sativa designation.
And to guide our curious quest we will be focusing on several key questions:
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
What is a Cannabis Strain?
If you ask different people in the Cannabis industry what they think of the concept of Cannabis strains, you are likely to get mixed reactions.
Some people think that strains are completely useless, outdated ideas. Some think they are concepts reserved for the craft Cannabis cultivators that have an in-depth understanding of the source of the genetics that they cultivate. While others think that strain names are vitally important for understanding the effects that a product may have on them. So, what’s really going on here?
First let’s talk about the word “strain”.
In biology, the term “strain” is generally only used when talking about micro-organisms. There are various strains of E. coli, for instance. But in botany, the term “strain” is not typically used to describe different varieties of plants. Instead, the term “variety” is commonly used. More specifically, the term, “cultivar”, meaning “cultivated variety” is often used to refer to different plant types of the same species and subspecies. An additional taxonomical rank used in botany is “form” which is a level lower than variety and is often used to distinguish slightly different varieties of a variety.
Let’s take the Cannabis strain Gorilla Glue, or GG, for example. There are different varieties of Gorilla Glue, like Gorilla Glue #4, and Gorilla Glue #12, etc. But Gorilla Glue itself is a variety of a subspecies of Cannabis. So, GG #4 and #12 would be considered forms of the Gorilla Glue variety.
So, if we want to be botanically correct, we should replace the term “strain” altogether, with the term “cultivar”. And if there are variations of a particular cultivar, then those variations should be called “forms”.
Indica vs Sativa
But what about these terms Indica and Sativa? The old colloquial wisdom states that there are three species of Cannabis plants: sativa, indica and ruderalis. Indica Cannabis plants are short, bushy, and produce heavily sedating effects, whereas sativa plants are tall, airy, and produce stimulating effects. And ruderalis plants are often either considered wild plants or perhaps wild and autoflowering plants. But where did this idea come from?
Let me begin by saying that Cannabis researchers have long debated how to categorize Cannabis and how many species of Cannabis there are. The terms sativa, indica, and ruderalis are only a few of many terms that have been used throughout time to organize Cannabis. These terms have been used inconsistently by different researchers throughout time to describe different types of Cannabis plants.
This basic idea of sativa plants being tall and wide branched and indica plants being short and densely branched comes from a researcher named Richard Schultes in the early 1970s. Schultes suggested that there are three species of Cannabis – sativa, indica and ruderalis. Each of these species was associated with basic morphological characteristics – that the tall Cannabis plants were Cannabis sativa, the short bushier plants were Cannabis indica, and the very small, sometimes unbranching, forms of Cannabis plant often seen in the wild were considered Cannabis ruderalis.
However, a few years later another taxonomical model for Cannabis would be presented that focused on the plant’s chemical profiles, rather than morphology. This taxonomic model, presented by Small and Cronquist, suggests that Cannabis is one single species, Cannabis sativa, with at least two subspecies, sativa and indica. Under this model, the sativa subspecies consists of fiber-type and low THC varieties of Cannabis, while the indica subspecies consisted of high THC and 1:1 THC,CBD ratio plants. Genetic research performed by John McPartland and Geoffrey Guy confirmed that THC-rich varieties of Cannabis are all of the same species. So if we accept this model, which I should point out that not everyone believes this model is accurate, but we’ll save that for later, If we accept the Small and Cronquist model, then all THC-rich varieties of Cannabis should be Cannabis sativa subspecies indica.
Some researchers felt it made little sense to organize a plant based on its intoxicating properties, and so later on in 1980, a researcher named Loran Anderson would refine Schulte’s taxonomical model, taking Schultes’ focus on the growth form of Cannabis varieties and adding details about leaf characteristics to the picture. Anderson characterized Cannabis indica as short broad leaf plants, Cannabis sativa as tall narrow leaf plants, and Cannabis ruderalis as small, weedy plants. Anderson also pointed out that these distinctions between sativa, indica and ruderalis have little to do with chemical profiles.
So this the work of Schultes and Anderson are largely why we refer to Cannabis plants as indica or sativa based on how they look. But why do we often use these terms to refer to chemical profile as well? Well, it’s a complicated story, and maybe too complicated to dive into too much in this episode.
But basically, the term Cannabis sativa was originally used by Carl Linnaeus in the 1753 to describe a non-intoxicating form of Cannabis commonly cultivated in Europe, which we would today call hemp. Cannabis indica was originally used by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck thirty years later to describe Cannabis from India that was intoxicating. The plants he reviewed had narrow leaves, not wide leaves, and the primary difference was that the plants were a little shorter, more aromatic, and intoxicating. Later on, the term Cannabis sativa would be used by a Russian researcher to describe forms of Cannabis from Afghanistan that were used to make hash – a significant departure from Carl Linnaeus. Then later on the term Cannabis indica would be applied to forms of Cannabis from Afghanistan that were used to make hash. So these uses of the terms Cannabis sativa and indica would become confused throughout time, and blended in the minds of many with the taxonomical models that Small and Cronquist and Schultes and Anderson put together, separately, ultimately resulting in a totally confused vernacular that we have been stuck with to this day.
This is Angus from The Real Seed Company. Angus has spent years travelling around the world collecting seeds of Cannabis varieties often referred to as “landrace strains”, which are varieties which have naturalized to the region in which they grow. Through his travels, Angus has had the opportunity to get to know people from cultures all over the world that have been growing Cannabis for millenia, and along the way he has studied the issue of Cannabis taxonomy in depth as he has become a de facto Cannabis historian.
But the story gets even more confusing.
So far we’ve talked about two ways of categorizing Cannabis – one that categorizes Cannabis by morphology, and the other that categorizes Cannabis by chemotype. But there’s another way of categorizing Cannabis which we already hinted at. And that’s by the plant’s genes.
The researcher Karl Hillig performed several different experiments looking at the genetic and chemical variation among Cannabis varieties. In his genetic research, he made a scatter plot representing the differences between samples, and then compared the data to different indica/sativa taxonomical models. What he found was that of the major taxonomical models that he reviewed, including those by Schultes and Small and Cronquist, none of them fit his data. His data showed two distinct clusters, seemingly representative of a split in the Cannabis gene pool.
In their book Cannabis Evolution and Ethnobotany, Robert Clarke and Mark Merlin present a revised taxonomical model that states that all THC-rich cultivars and broad-leafed hemp cultivars are Cannabis indica, and all narrow leaf hemp is Cannabis sativa. This model also posits that all Cannabis varieties are ultimately derived from a single Putative Ancestor. In Clarke and Merlin’s model, THC-rich Cannabis varieties are separated on the subspecies level by their morphology and named after their presumed origins. So narrow leaf THC-rich varieties are Cannabis indica ssp. indica, representing their presumed origins of India, while broad leaf THC-rich varieties are Cannabis indica ssp. afghanica, referring to their presumed origin of Afghanistan. Broad leaf hemp varieties would be Cannabis indica ssp. chinensis, representing origins from China, and narrow leaf hemp varieties would be Cannabis sativa ssp. sativa.
Upon careful review, it appears that the colloquial use of indica and sativa is really just a bastardized synthesis of taxonomical systems, and it doesn’t accurately represent any single system of organizing Cannabis. In short – it’s made up. It seems to take elements from each of these systems that we have covered but fails to accurately deliver on any of them. It’s really quite a mess that should be abandoned.
When I was attending the University of Mississippi and spending time at the NIDA Cannabis lab there, I asked the researchers how many species of Cannabis they recognized, and I was given a firm answer that there was only one species of Cannabis. When reviewing the Integrated Taxonomical Information System, Cannabis is listed as a single species – Cannabis sativa.
Perhaps as genomic research into Cannabis progresses, the taxonomy of Cannabis will evolve. Based on trends in biology, this is likely to be the case. Genetic research is leading to many changes in how all of life is categorized, across the board, and Cannabis is not likely to escape this rearrangement.
Taking a step back from all of these taxonomical models, let’s briefly discuss what terms like “sativa”, “indica”, “ruderalis” mean from a botanical perspective.
The term “sativa” is typically used to refer to cultivated plants. For instance, the common oat is Avena sativa. The term “indica” technically means “from India.” And the term “ruderalis” is derived from the word “ruderal”, usually used to describe plants that grow easily in disturbed areas. Cannabis researcher John McPartland has argued that we should take the meanings of these terms seriously when deciding how to talk about Cannabis. For instance, as far as we can tell, only domesticated varieties of Cannabis still exist in the world. Sure, there are plants that have escaped cultivation and re-naturalized, but are there really any varieties of Cannabis in existence that are untouched by human domestication? It’s highly unlikely.
So, does that mean that all Cannabis in existence today is technically “sativa”? And then what about the use of the term “indica”? McPartland has argued that we should actually split THC-rich Cannabis into two varieties based on their origins – one being indica, and one being called afghanica.
So regardless of how we want to categorize Cannabis, if we want our vocabulary to be consistent, we should use these terms intentionally according to the manner in which these terms have been applied to other plants.
In John McPartland’s 2018 review of Cannabis taxonomy and systematics, he provides a suggestion for fixing these labels in our cultural vernacular to make them more accurate. He states, “In summary, reconciling the vernacular and formal nomenclatures: “Sativa” is really Indica, “Indica” is actually Afghanica, and “Ruderalis” is usually Sativa. All three are varieties of one species, Cannabis sativa.”
But, leaving the taxonomy debate aside for a moment, just how reliable are indica/sativa designations or strain names in terms of genetic lineage and chemical profiles?
Let’s start with genetic lineage. Do strain names and indica/sativa designations correlate with genetic lineage? The short answer is – not really.
First let’s look at some basic issues.
First of all, strain names are often mislabeled. This happens intentionally and unintentionally. It’s common for Cannabis cultivators to cultivate multiple varieties – and it makes sense that in the hustle and bustle of harvesting and processing, some containers of plants may get mislabeled. However, on the more nefarious end of things, some cultivators will change the cultivar name of a batch of Cannabis in an attempt to make it more likely to sell.
Second, strain names are often inappropriately applied to plants propagated from seed.
These two issues alone have muddied the playing field so much, that the reliability of any strain name, just in terms of genetic lineage, is a real crap shoot.
The same issues can be said for indica/sativa designations. Even if we were to accept the colloquial definitions of indica and sativa – the fact of the matter is that cultivators and product manufacturers often uses these labels to indicate an anticipated effect more so than the genetic lineage or even morphology of the plant.
Additionally, there are several online tools that allow you to examine how genetically similar and dissimilar different Cannabis samples are. One is called the Galaxy by Phylos Bioscience, and the other is Kannapedia by Medicinal Genomics. Using these tools, we can examine data related to samples that were labeled as “Blue Dream” for instance. On the Phylos Galaxy, right away we can see different unique genetic clusters, with some clusters being substantially unique. On Kannapedia you can search for all sorts of samples and see the hodge podge of “close relatives”, some that are labeled the same strain, and some that seemingly should be quite different based on colloquial wisdom.
Now, this isn’t to say that there is absolutely no consistency behind strain names. I want to point out that there are in fact genetic patterns among Cannabis varieties. For instance, going back to the Phylos Galaxy you’ll find that there are distinct genetic clusters of close relatives among any one strain name, but which cluster is “the true OG?” The “true Blue Dream”? Is it the biggest cluster? If so, why? Who decides what “Blue Dream” or “OG Kush” actually is, genetically?
In the Kannapedia database, while you will see a strain name listed, you also will see a unique identifier that is the true “label” associated with the genetics that were tested. From a genetic perspective, the strain name is largely irrelevant. However, if you focus on a sample that was labeled “Blue Dream”, for example, you will likely see that it has close relatives that are also labeled as “Blue Dream”. So there is some consistency. Just not enough consistency to trust the labels.
So strain names and indica sativa designations don’t mean much in terms of genetic lineage. But what about chemical profiles?
To begin to tackle this issue, we need to review a lot of data. So I went to my friends at Confident Cannabis to get their opinions on this issue. Confident Cannabis is a technology company that provides various software solutions to Cannabis testing labs, growers, producers, and dispensaries to bring transparency to the supply chain. Their platform captures a lot of data about products moving around in the Cannabis industry, and by analyzing that data, they have been able to glean some interesting insights.
This is Steve Albarran, the CEO of Confident Cannabis
I had Brad Bogus from Confident Cannabis go through the Connect platform with me to explain how it works and what I was seeing.
But what about indica/sativa designation?
The ugly truth of the matter is that there are various plants labeled the same strain with distinctly different cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles. This can be for various reasons, like the mislabeling of strain names. But it can also be due to the fact that terpenes are highly influenced by environmental conditions and they can change rapidly when Cannabis is in storage. You could take a clone of a Cannabis variety and grow it in different conditions and get slightly different terpene concentrations. You could take plants grown in the same conditions and dry them or store them differently and end up with different terpene profiles.
So these names don’t seem to be strongly correlated with genetic lineage. And they don’t seem to mean much in the way of chemical profiles. So what gives?
Well, in short, we need a new system of a categorizing and talking about Cannabis. If we are interested in how something will affect somebody, we care about chemical profile, and we need a vocabulary for talking about patterns of chemical profiles. If we are interested in discussing plant morphology, we need a vocabulary to talk about that which is consistent, accurate, and separate from the vocabulary used to talk about chemical profiles. If we are interested in discussing genetic lineage, we need assistance from genetic mapping tools and some standardized names of Cannabis cultivars which are based on genetic data. Several researchers and companies, like Leafly, have proposed alternative methods to address these distinct problems, but none of these solutions have really taken a strong hold in the Cannabis industry yet.
Going back to where we started, with Leafly, they have attempted to produce a visual guide to understanding a strain’s chemical profile, represented by a series of shapes and colors with unique meanings. The attributes that are associated with each strain are based on numerous lab tests, which is certainly a step in the right direction. The website then goes on to associate each strain with effects like “sleepy”, “relaxing”, “uplifted”, “energetic” – but this is potentially flawed in a number of ways. First, it assumes that a strain name is represented by one particular chemical profile, which as we have talked about in this episode, is not consistent. Even when basing the findings on aggregates of terpene data, you are still left with an average chemical profile that does not necessarily represent what someone will find in a dispensary.
And concerning the predicted effects, if you dive deeper into the data, you often find that even consumers don’t agree on the effects of a Cannabis variety. For many strains on Leafly’s website, close to 50% of people report the most commonly reported effects, meaning that nearly half of people that tried the strain did not feel those same effects.
Another issue that we haven’t really gotten into at all in this episode is: even if you know the chemical profile of a Cannabis variety – can you really predict the effects it will have on somebody? We’ll save that question for another time.
So as a consumer trying to find Cannabis products that work best for you, what do you do after you learn that all of these names are unreliable?
My takeaway is this – stop relying on strain names. Stop relying on indica/sativa designations. Start journaling. Pay attention to the chemical profiles and the organoleptic characteristics of what you consume and keep track of how you respond. You may find that a single chemical profile affects you differently at different times of the day, or in different settings. You may find that that Cannabis that your budtender told you would put you to sleep actually makes your heart race and wakes you up. You may find that a small toke produces very different effects than consuming a larger dose. There are so many variables at play that will influence how a person will respond to Cannabis. To dilute all of those variables down into a simplified model of Cannabis strains or indica/sativa designations is a fool’s errand.
There is also the hidden and impossible to quantify variable – which is you. The chemistry of the product is only part of the picture, and the biochemistry that your own body brings to the table is the other part of the picture. No one can tell you what will work for you, or how something will affect you. And there is no sure-fire way to predict it. It comes down to trial and error.
If you are looking for a good journal designed for this purpose, check out Gold Leaf’s Patient Journal. I’ll be doing a review of Goldleaf’s journals and other educational materials that will be posted on the Curious About Cannabis YouTube channel soon.
So let’s review what we’ve learned:
And with that, I’m your host, Jason Wilson.
Thanks again for tuning in for this episode and this season. It’s been a great pleasure to have you join me on this journey. Until next time, stay curious, and take it easy.
 Schultes RE, Klein WM, Plowman T, Lockwood TE. 1974. Cannabis: An Example of Taxonomic Neglect. Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University. 23(9): 337-367.
 Small E and Cronquist A. 1976. A Practical and Natural Taxonomy for Cannabis. Taxon. 25(4): 405-435.
 Anderson LC. 1980. Leaf Variation Among Cannabis Species From A Controlled Garden. Botanical Museum leaflets, Harvard University. 28(1): 61-69.
 Linnaeus C. 1753. Species Plantarum.
 Lamarck JB. 1788. Encyclopédie Méthodique, Botanique, Tome second, Part 2. Panckou> McPartland JM. 2018. Cannabis Systematics at the Levels of Family, Genus, and Species. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 3(1): 203-212.
 Hillig KW. 2005. Genetic evidence for speciation in Cannabis (Cannabaceae). Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 52: 161-180.
 Clarke RC and Merlin MD. 2013. Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany. University of California Press.
 McPartland JM. 2018. Cannabis Systematics at the Levels of Family, Genus, and Species. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 3(1): 203-212.
 Sawler J et al. 2015. The Genetic Structure of Marijuana and Hemp. PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0133292
 Piomelli D and Russo EB. 2016. The Cannabis sativa Versus Cannabis indica debate: An Interview with Ethan Russo, MD. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 1(1): 44-46.
 Piomelli D and Russo EB. 2016. The Cannabis sativa Versus Cannabis indica debate: An Interview with Ethan Russo, MD. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 1(1): 44-46.
BTS #15 Daniel Hayden PhD of Extractioneering on Carbonated Extracts, Spectral Fingerprinting, and The Vilification of THCRead Now
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) interview we sit down with Dr. Daniel Hayden of Extractioneering to talk all about extraction and Cannabis extract quality. In this conversation we discuss misconceptions about hydrocarbon extraction techniques, the meaning of the term "full spectrum", how Extractioneering makes its carbonated extracts, using spectral fingerprinting to identify the quality of extracts, and much more.
This interview has an accompanying video available on the Curious About Cannabis YouTube Channel.
Learn more about Extractioneering at www.extractioneering.com
BTS #14 Oregon Rooted's Higher Peaks on Cannabis Culture, Changes After Legalization, Stigma, Reflections on the IndustryRead Now
Coronavirus got you down?
This behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode is a bit lighter than our typical episodes. Jokes and reflections abound when I'm joined by my friend and fellow podcast host, Higher Peaks, co-host and co-producer of the Cannabis culture podcast Oregon Rooted. Our 2.5 hour conversation covers a number of different topics related to Cannabis culture including how the Oregon cannabis industry has evolved since the early days of medical marijuana, ongoing issues related to the stigmatization of Cannabis use, the history of Cannabis extracts from a user's perspective, wading through the hype in the Cannabis industry and much much more.
Come sit in on the conversation and take your mind off of the pandemic for a couple of hours! Have fun, and stay curious!
Learn more about OregonRooted at www.OregonRooted.com
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode, we speak with Ellen Parkin, MS, a quality manager at a Cannabis testing laboratory in Oregon. Ellen has been involved in Cannabis testing since the early years of regulated Cannabis testing in Oregon and has worked as a laboratory technician, a laboratory director, and a quality manager. Over the years her work has gravitated towards identifying quality control issues related to testing Cannabis infused edibles. In this conversation we discuss some of the issues she has run into regarding testing edibles, what laboratories do to understand whether their data is accurate, how to work with a lab to troubleshoot unforeseen test results, and more.
I hope you enjoy! Stay curious, and take it easy.
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode we sit down with Peggy Anderson, the founder of Canna Help You?, a company that provides education to seniors about Cannabis. In this conversation we discuss common reasons why seniors are turning to Cannabis, how to minimize the chance of an uncomfortable Cannabis experience, what to do if a Cannabis experience becomes overwhelming, and much more.
Enjoy, and stay curious!
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode we speak with Dr. Jason Miller, an expert in traditional Chinese medicine with a focus on the treatment of cancer. In this conversation we explore how Dr. Miller conceptualizes Cannabis in relation to other medicinal plants, historical uses of Cannabis in Chinese medicine, the promise and limitations of Cannabis as a medicine, his experience with Cannabis as a cancer treatment, bridging the worlds of eastern and western medicine, and much more!
Enjoy, and stay curious!
In this episode of the Curious About Cannabis Podcast, we take a look at CBD, the cannabinoid that has been all the rage lately. We are joined by neurologist and cannabinoid researcher, Dr. Ethan Russo, anesthesiologist and pain physician, Dr. James Taylor, and co-owner of Artemis, a premier CBD shop in New York City, Wendy Nguyen, to discuss the history of CBD, what people are experiencing with CBD, and how CBD affects the body.
Look for the associated behind-the-scenes (BTS) episodes for each of our guests to hear our full conversations!
Episode Transcript/Show Notes:
You’re listening to the Curious About Cannabis Podcast
Before we get started let me share a little disclaimer here. In this episode we are going to be discussing the medical uses of Cannabis. All of the information I present to you in this podcast is for education and entertainment purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Never make decisions about your health based on anything you hear me or any other podcast host talk about. I’m simply sharing information that I’ve collected from talking with professionals with relevant experience or from research studies that are available. But I’m not a doctor, and you should always get your medical advice from a licensed health care professional. Now with that out of the way, let’s move on.
These days, CBD is all the hype.
The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for legal hemp production in the United States, seeming to open up a multi-billion dollar hemp market that was now up for grabs. Of all the potential surrounding legal hemp, there was one section of the hemp market that had everyone’s attention – the CBD market. It is estimated that over 1000 CBD brands came onto the market in 2019, and it’s estimated that approximately a quarter of the US population has tried CBD.  Health claims have been boasted and promoted by CBD companies, doctors, entertainers, and social media influencers. So what’s the deal? Is CBD legit? Or it just another snake oil? And what does CBD actually do to your body?
In this episode we explore the history and science of the cannabinoid that’s all the craze – Cannabidiol, or CBD.
Hey everybody, this is Jason Wilson with the Curious About Cannabis Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in once again! In this episode we are going to be taking a close look at one of the most popular cannabinoids produced by the Cannabis plant, Cannabidiol – or as it is better known, CBD.
And to guide our curious quest, we are going to explore several primary questions:
So let’s get started!
What is CBD?
[News Clip Compilation]
For the past few years, CBD has been big business. The price of a single one-ounce bottle of CBD tincture can range anywhere from $50 to $200 or more. Compare that to the average cost of a one-ounce bottle of a different herbal extract tincture like Echinacea or Elderberry that would typically cost somewhere between $10 and $20.
So, why is CBD getting tagged with such a high premium?
But what is CBD?
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is an oily compound produced in the resins of the Cannabis plant. Whether the Cannabis plant is considered hemp or marijuana – they both produce CBD, outside of some uncommon exceptions. In the United States, hemp is classified as Cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3% THC. In other countries the limit can be even lower, commonly 0.2%. Instead of THC, the primary cannabinoid that hemp varieties of Cannabis tend to produce is a cannabinoid called Cannabidiol, or CBD. Thanks to intentional breeding efforts, CBD can now be found in concentrations as high as 20 or 25% in hemp plants intended for CBD-rich resin production.
CBD is markedly different than THC. To start, CBD does not cause intoxicating or euphoric effects like THC does. This feature has gotten the attention of a lot of people, ranging from medical researchers looking to unlock the therapeutic potential of Cannabis without the risk of abuse to consumers interested in Cannabis but not looking to get high. Although CBD is not intoxicating, it is psychoactive, meaning that it elicits effects on neurons. This is a common misunderstanding about CBD.
A Brief History of CBD
The story of CBD goes back thousands of years – as cultures across time have used non-psychoactive varieties of Cannabis for different uses. But the most relevant part of our story really starts in 1940, when researchers Roger Adams, Madison Hunt and JH Clark published a report indicating the structure of a compound that they extracted and isolated from wild hemp in Minnesota. (Shout out to listeners in Minnesota! You’re a part of CBD history.) These researchers named this compound, Cannabidiol, or CBD as it would become commonly known. CBD was only the second cannabinoid found in Cannabis at the time, the first being Cannabinol, or CBN – a degradation product of THC.
In 1944 it was discovered that the effects of barbiturates could be extended if administered with CBD, but not with CBN or THC. There answer to why CBD had this effect would come almost 30 years later.
For a moment in 1963, scientists in Israel would shine light on CBD once again, before announcing their discovery of THC as the intoxicating components of Cannabis – a year later in 1964. CBD would become a bit more ignored once again until around the 1970s and 80s when research into CBD really began to pick up steam.
In 1972 it would be discovered that CBD inhibited certain enzymes in the body, which affects how the body metabolizes certain foods and drugs. This helped begin to complete the puzzle that stemmed from the barbiturate study three decades prior. In 1981 researchers were able to demonstrate anticonvulsant effects in humans – indicating that it might be an effective treatment for certain forms of epilepsy and spasticity. In 1982 CBD was found to exhibit anti-anxiety effects, which would later be reconfirmed in 1993.  In 1995 it was discovered that CBD improves symptoms of psychosis. In 1998 the United States government filed a patent on the antioxidant and neuroprotective effects of CBD, as well as THC.
The 2000s would become the decade of elucidating the activity of CBD. In 2001, researchers began to finally understand more about how CBD actually works in the body by revealing that CBD targets non-cannabinoid receptors in the body, stimulates the production of at least one endocannabinoid, Anandamide, and inhibits an enzyme responsible for breaking down Anandamide, effectively allowing it to linger in the body longer.
In 2002 researchers would confirm that CBD exhibits anti-nausea effects, which had already been reported as far back as the 1800s when systematic Cannabis research really began to take shape. In 2004 it was discovered that at certain dosages CBD can increase wakefulness and counteract THC induced sedation. So if you are feeling sleepy after using THC-rich Cannabis, a little bit of CBD might wake you back up! However, be careful, because CBD exhibits what is known as biphasic activity, meaning it acts differently in low doses versus high doses. At high doses, CBD can actually be sedating.
In 2005 it was discovered that CBD interacts with certain serotonin receptors in the body. In 2006 researchers would go on to discover that CBD also enhances adenosine receptor signaling, which is associated with heart health, blood pressure, and body temperature regulation. It was also in 2006 that researchers discovered that CBD can kill breast cancer cells – bringing significant attention to the compound as a potential anti-cancer drug.
In 2007 researchers began to understand why CBD reduced the effects of THC in some of their prior research. It turns out that CBD changes the shape and activity of CB1 receptors, even though it does not exhibit much affinity for them directly. In this way, it changes the way that THC binds to the CB1 receptor, modulating its activity. This kind of activity is called allosteric modulation, and CBD is considered an allosteric modulator of the CB1 receptor. This is why CBD is able to reduce the high associated with THC – it essentially deforms the CB1 receptor so that THC cannot stimulate the receptor as well as it normally would.
In 2008 it was discovered that CBD was a potent antibiotic against MRSA – a powerful infection that is commonly picked up in hospitals and often resists treatment. In 2012 researchers discovered that CBD may be as effective as standard antipsychotics. In 2014 it was discovered that CBD might be able to effectively treat acne in the skin by reducing inflammation, fighting bacteria on the skin, and changing the way that the skin produces oil.
The Modern CBD Industry
In 2018 in the United States, The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, was passed, which effectively legalized hemp across the United States, including all of the cannabinoids and other chemical constituents of hemp varieties of Cannabis with THC concentrations below 0.3%, and CBD was removed from the Controlled Substances list, as long as the CBD was hemp derived.  Some may say that the CBD market began at this time, but CBD products had already been available in foods, cosmetics, and dietary supplements widely for years prior to the legalization of hemp, operating in somewhat of a regulatory grey area. In 2018, Epidiolex would officially become FDA approved for the treatment of certain forms of epilepsy in children.
The status of CBD as a pharmaceutical drug presents a problem for the CBD industry as a whole. The FDA does not allow drugs to be added to foods or supplements unless they have been marketed as foods or supplements previously. This is due to a set of laws in the Food Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Of course, the irony is that the CBD industry had been around for quite some time, not considering the exposure that humans have had to CBD throughout history. Cannabis in all its forms had been prohibited in the US for nearly 100 years, so of course Cannabis derived products were not openly marketed and sold. The Food Drug and Cosmetic Act was enacted in 1938, right around the same time that Cannabis prohibition began.
Considering that Cannabis was included in the United States pharmacopoeia for many years all the way up until prohibition began, it’s clear that Cannabis derived products had been a part of society well into the 1930s, and would have persisted had it not been for Cannabis prohibition. So, in the 1930s the opportunity for Cannabis to mature alongside the food and supplement industries was eliminated, and the only pathway to get federally legal Cannabis derived products to the public, was through pharmaceuticals. And now that hemp derived CBD and other cannabinoids are federally legal, 90 years later, the government argues that it can’t be put into food or supplements because it’s a drug. It just seems like an awkward argument when you take the full history into account.
Another argument that the FDA argues for resisting making any exceptions for CBD and hemp derived cannabinoids in foods or supplements is that there is not adequate data available to show that CBD is safe. They have argued that CBD could cause liver damage, and thus it should be researched longer before it is allowed to be widely available to be consumed. The study that they cite for this concern is a recent rodent study that looked at dosages that were orders of magnitude higher than the highest dosages used in comparable clinical trials for Epidiolex.
I spoke with Dr. Ethan Russo, about his thoughts on the idea of CBD causing liver damage.
I should point out that in the study, dosages of 15mg/kg or less were not found to exhibit these toxic effects. That’s approximately 930 milligrams of pure CBD for an average sized person.
It should also be noted that the World Health Organization issued a report on CBD very recently attesting to CBD’s remarkable safety profile.
At the time of this recording, the future of the CBD industry is very uncertain as hemp farmers, CBD product manufacturers, and legislators plead their case for changes to allow the CBD industry to continue operating as it has, with CBD foods, dietary supplements and cosmetics readily available to consumers. States are taking matters into their own hands, just as they have had to do with anything related to Cannabis and set their own laws for CBD.
The greater question lingering around the FDA’s involvement in the CBD industry is whether the FDA will take enforcement action against CBD companies. To date, they primarily seem concerned with going after companies making medical or health claims about CBD, but that’s not surprising. The FDA will always go after companies making unapproved medical claims, because that is in violation of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 which made it illegal to make such claims without FDA approval. This is why you see an FDA statement on every dietary supplement label which says something to the effect of, “These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
It seems as though the only pathway forward to a booming legal CBD industry, is through changes to federal law to allow an exception for CBD and other hemp derived natural products. Any law changes that are proposed should be carefully worded. Even if CBD is allowed in foods and supplements, if a law change does not also determine that CBD is Generally Recognized as Safe, or GRAS, then there could be another set of problems for the CBD industry to tackle.
Food additives like plant extracts and essential oils, have to have GRAS status to be freely added to foods or formulated into supplements. Until the FDA takes on the role of doing this research and granting GRAS status to CBD and other cannabinoids, it will be up to private companies to do their own expensive research to achieve what is called “self-affirmed” GRAS status, which only applies to their specific products, and not their competitors – essentially making a playing field where only the most well-funded CBD companies can survive long-term. To put this into perspective, gathering all the data needed to successfully achieve self-affirmed GRAS status can cost as much as a million dollars or more. At a time when the value of CBD as a commodity is rapidly shrinking, along with CBD product margins, this is a difficult task for small or medium sized hemp companies to pull off without coming together and pooling resources.
What are people experiencing with CBD?
Since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, CBD shops have popped up across the country and even large retail chains like Kroger, Fred Meyer, CVS, and Walgreens are starting to carry CBD products.   Additionally, specialized hemp and CBD focused wellness stores have made their way into neighborhoods and cities across the US. I spoke with Wendy Nguyen, an owner of a premier CBD shop in New York City about her experience operating a CBD store.
I also had the chance to speak with a pain physician in North Carolina that has been working with patients that have chosen to try CBD as a potential solution to their chronic pain.
[James Taylor Clip]
One question that was on my mind when I was speaking with people about CBD was, what dosages are needed to get an effect? CBD products on the market have potencies of anywhere from 100 to 1000s of milligrams per 1oz bottle. When I reviewed the available scientific literature – I found that there was not a lot of information available. Epidiolex clinical trials utilized dosages of 5mg/kg to 20mg/kg, or 310mg to nearly 1500 mg for an average sized person. In a 2019 review of dosages utilized in published CBD studies, it was found that dosages below 2.5mg/kg of body weight were largely ineffective at treating most conditions measured, except for sleep disorders. That would be around 150mg of CBD for an average person. However, the research on CBD dosaging is complicated by the fact that CBD exhibits unique efficacy when it is administered in isolation versus when it is administered in the presence of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemistry from the Cannabis plant. Many clinicians I spoke with commented that they were seeing better results at lower dosages with broad or full spectrum CBD versus isolate.
Some of the people I spoke with that used CBD regularly claimed that they saw relief at much lower dosages, as low as 10 or 15 mg of CBD per day, if taken regularly.
The frequency of dosing is very important because CBD, like THC, lingers in the body and can accumulate over time with repeated dosing. So it may be that low dosages of CBD might be effective when taken regularly, but when acute relief is required, higher dosages may be needed.
So clearly people are having profound experiences with CBD, but how does CBD actually affect the body?
How does CBD affect the body?
Like all other cannabinoids, CBD is not incredibly bioavailable in the body. Most of the CBD that anyone ingests is simply excreted either unmetabolized, or as a conjugated sugar – meaning that a glucose molecule adhered to the CBD molecule as it passed through the body. Some of the CBD that is ingested sticks to other lipophilic, or oil-loving, tissues in the body, which keeps it from circulating in the body and reaching sites of action. But for those molecules of CBD that do make it into the blood stream and get circulated throughout the body, and interesting series of events takes place.
First of all, it is important to know that CBD has very low affinity for either CB1 or CB2 receptors, which as you may remember from episode 6 of the podcast are two of the primary chemical receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system. Instead of directly affecting cannabinoid receptors, CBD stimulates these receptors indirectly by affecting the production and break down of endocannabinoids that the body produces on its own. As mentioned before, CBD stimulates the production of Anandamide, which is a partial agonist, or stimulator, of CB1 and CB2 receptors. Additionally, CBD inhibits an enzyme called Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase, also known as FAAH, which would typically break down Anandamide, as well as a lot of other things in the body. This allows the Anandamide that the body produces to linger in the body longer, thus stimulating cannabinoid receptors for a longer time.
You could think of this as CBD nudging the endocannabinoid system to do its own thing, rather than completely hijacking the system altogether, like THC does. That’s not to say that the activity of THC is bad or undesirable – it’s just very different.
CBD also interacts with a putative cannabinoid receptor called GPR55. The GPR stands for G-protein coupled receptor, which is the type of chemical receptor that cannabinoid receptors are. GPR55 is thought to be responsible for some of CBD’s anti-epileptic activity, among other things.
In addition to these effects on endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, CBD interacts with a lot of other chemical receptors including vanilloid receptors like TRPV1, which are also referred to as capsaicin receptors because capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the spiciness in peppers, also stimulates vanilloid receptors. CBD also interacts with serotonin receptors, commonly associated with mood, sleep and blood pressure. It also influences the activity of adenosine receptors, commonly associated with heart health, and PPAR-gamma receptors which are linked to insulin resistance and diabetes, among other things.
In addition to inhibiting enzymes that break down anandamide, CBD also has potent inhibitory effects on a group of liver enzymes called the cytochrome p450 enzymes, which are responsible for metabolizing many common drugs. This inhibitory effect is commonly referred to as “the grapefruit effect” because grapefruits are well known to also cause this same enzyme inhibition. In fact, you may have once been prescribed a medication that featured a label on the bottle that cautioned against taking with grapefruit. One of the most well-known drug interactions with CBD is with a blood thinning drug called Warfarin. CBD has also been demonstrated to exacerbate the negative side effects of some epilepsy drugs like Valproic Acid. Because of these kinds of interactions, it is important that anyone taking CBD with other medications do so under the supervision of a health care provider to stay safe.
One thing that should be mentioned here is that so far, we have been talking about how CBD, by itself, interacts with the body. When CBD is present in a complex mixture like a Cannabis extract with dozens or hundreds of other compounds, or when formulated in a food or topical product with other ingredients, effects can be different.  A hemp extract product should be judged by the total formulation, not just the quality of the hemp extract used as an ingredient in the product.
It’s also possible to manipulate the absorption and bioavailability of CBD using technologies like nano-emulsion, which is a process of breaking up a CBD extract into tiny droplets the size of a nanometer, which is one billionth of a meter, and then surrounding those droplets with a water friendly casing. This keeps the oil droplets from rejoining, maximizing their surface area and allowing the oil droplets to be suspended in water.
So far we’ve mostly been talking about how CBD affects the body when it’s ingested or inhaled, but what about the effects of CBD on the skin? There are all sorts of chemical receptors in the skin, just like you have in other parts of your body. In general, when CBD is applied to the skin, or topically, it only affects the area where it is applied. The exception is when CBD is applied transdermally, usually with a patch. These are like capsaicin patches or nicotine patches. They are specially formulated with ingredients that help carry things through the skin that normally would have a hard time penetrating. If CBD can soak through the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, and reach the lower layer of the skin, the dermis, then it could end up reaching the blood where it could get distributed throughout the body.
So, does CBD help keep your skin healthy?
Safety of CBD
So you can see that CBD’s activity in the body is diverse and complex – and we still don’t understand the whole picture yet. Yet, despite our lack of knowledge about CBD, evidence seems to indicate that it is a pretty safe compound – even if some regulatory agencies disagree. The most common adverse effects associated with CBD are things like lethargy, appetite disruptions, and gastrointestinal distress. But everyone reacts to things differently, and in uncommon cases some people may react unfavorably to CBD. But, like THC, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to overdose or die from using CBD.
At very high dosages of 15mg/kg of body weight or higher, it is possible to cause liver damage with CBD, but it is very uncommon for anyone to take dosages that high. That equates to a dose of around one gram of pure CBD for someone that weighs 140 pounds, or 62 kilograms. For someone like myself that weighs closer to 200 pounds, that dose would be closer to a gram and a half, or 1500 milligrams of CBD. To put this issue into better perspective, consider that most CBD products readily available on the market have serving sizes that feature doses of between 5 and 50 milligrams of CBD. According to the Safety Data Sheet for Epidiolex, CBD is tolerated well in humans orally at dosages up to 1500mg per day.
Based on the history of research that exists, it is clear that CBD has a lot of potential as a medicine. Research indicates it may be effective at treating things like anxiety, depression, sleep, various forms of spasticity, pain, bacterial infections, and inflammation. When it comes to skin treatment, it might be effective in battling acne and regulating inflammation of the skin. The fact that CBD is available as a pharmaceutical in various forms across the world, including the United States, is a testament to its medical value.
It is true that a lot more research is still needed to understand how to best unlock the therapeutic potential of CBD, but CBD is certainly not another snake oil.
But like many things, there is a lot of nuance around the topic. One of the big issues that needs to be understood is what dosages are needed to elicit therapeutic effects. While we have a pretty good understanding of what dosages not to exceed to stay safe, we don’t have a clear picture of what dosages to shoot for to achieve targeted therapeutic effects under different conditions. This is why many consumers of CBD are leaving it up to trial and error to find the dose that works best for them.
Let’s review what we’ve learned.
But for all of the promise of CBD, there is still a lot of unfounded hype for consumers to wade through. It is critical that consumers pay attention to the quality of CBD products as well as the dosages. Many CBD products feature incredibly low concentrations of CBD that are likely sub-therapeutic. In addition, CBD products can be quite expensive, leaving consumers paying out fortunes for low-potency sub-therapeutic products. And this trend isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. New hemp extract products featuring other lesser known cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, and CBN are already quickly gaining market buzz. It won’t be long before CBD passes the hype torch on to these other cannabinoids.
And with that, I’m your host, Jason Wilson. Thanks for listening. Stay curious and take it easy!
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BTS #10 Steve Albarran CEO of Confident Cannabis on Transparency, Lessons From Big Data, Chemotypes, Market TrendsRead Now
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) episode we sit down with Steve Albarran, the CEO of Confident Cannabis, a technology company that has been working to bring transparency to the Cannabis industry through various software solutions that allow labs, producers, and consumers to share product information and test results seamlessly. In this conversation we explore how Confident Cannabis got started and where the company is headed, insights that can be taken from the data that Confident Cannabis has managed, lessons that users have gleaned from Confident Cannabis' chemotype visualization tool called Connect, trends in the marketplace, and much more.
I hope you enjoy. Stay curious, and take it easy.
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) interview we sit down with Dr. Justin Fischedick, a natural products researcher that performed some of the early Cannabis research investigating the terpenes in unique Cannabis varieties. Justin describes how he came to research Cannabis terpenes, how his colleague Arno Hazekamp came up with the term "chemovar" and what it means, what lessons they learned from mapping terpene differences between Cannabis varieties, issues related to testing terpenes in Cannabis, and limitations related to interpreting research about Cannabis and other natural products. Running at over an hour and a half, this interview is packed with information, so I hope you enjoy. Stay curious!
UPDATE: This conversation took place in early Fall of 2019, near the beginning of the media's coverage of the "vaping crisis". You will hear us reference the number of deaths associated with vaping at 13, however by the end of media coverage in December, this number increased to approximately 60 deaths and nearly 3000 reported injuries related to vaping.
In this behind-the-scenes (BTS) interview we speak with Dr. Wyeth Callaway (aka @DrJackHughes), an organic chemist currently working in the Cannabis industry. In this interview we discuss a wide range of Cannabis extraction related topics including commonly used extraction technologies, the pros and cons of different forms of extraction, unique considerations when extracting Cannabis essential oils, how to manage the quality of extracts, and much more!
I hope you enjoy our conversation! Stay curious and take it easy.