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  • Jason Sean O'Donoghue

New to Cannabis medicine?

It seems that the potential of Cannabis as a medicine is making its come back from many years of oppression and misinformation. Sadly, the many years of propaganda, misleading and blatant lies have down their work well, and have left most of us in a state of confusion and fear. We fear Cannabis because, you know, “It’s evil”, without actually having any idea why or how?

I remember being told in school how “weed” kills brain cells. Did you know that the study used to cite these claims has been proven to be a flawed study? To show you how ridiculously pre-arranged the experiment was to fail, this is how they did it: The subject monkeys in the study were forced to breath pure Cannabis smoke through gas masks - without any air, thus depriving them of oxygen. Biology teaches us that without oxygen the brain dies, right?

So instead of forcing monkeys to breathe only Cannabis smoke, they could just as well have used only nitrogen gas.

At around 70%, nitrogen gas forms the majority of our standard air. Without oxygen, the results would have been the same. According to that study, nitrogen would be brain damaging too! So why aren’t we all these brain dead beings yet? Oxygen!

To show up the propaganda about the “evil” ways of smoking Cannabis: it actually acts as a bronchial dilator! That is why it was used as an asthma treatment, and still is used by many asthmatic people today. It allows better air inhalation into the lungs. There is a 10 year study done by Dr. Donald Tashkin, where he looked at the effects of Cannabis in the cause of all chest/breathing related disorders (C.O.P.D.) compared to cigarette smokers and people who smoked nothing at all. The results were very interesting.

Cigarette smokers have a 20 fold (2000%) chance of getting any form of lung disease (bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, lung cancer etc. ) compared to non-smokers. What is interesting, is the fact that those that only smoked Cannabis joints had a very slightly reduced risk of getting any lung disease compared to non-smokers! Not compared to smokers, but NON-SMOKERS!!

It’s slightly healthier to smoke cannabis than it is to not!?

Right, so smoking isn’t the evil demon we’ve all been told it is. Saying that, not all of us wish to smoke or be “high/stoned”. We’d like to have access to the most active and prolific compounds in Cannabis (THC and CBD - CBD normally being in extremely tiny amounts, not more than 0.3% in total with most strains). This is where the different types of medicine come into play.

It seems everyone wants Cannabis oil and thinks it is only “that black oil you get in a syringe”. That isn’t the case. That concentrated, pure full extract is really only essential for those with serious ailments like Cancer, and even then caution is required because the body is already under stress fighting a serious disease. Over loading it with oil could put already stressed organs under more pressure. This is why this isn’t something that should be handed out without full understanding both from the user and the supplier. If you as the user don’t know what to ask those supplying you, how can you verify that they have any understanding of the medicine themselves?

Checks and balances!

What are the different types of Cannabis medicine you can get?

Tincture – This is usually extracted into alcohol directly from the flower, sometimes only “trim”, and is considered a cold press. This means that certain cannabinoids haven’t been “activated” yet. Many like to label it as THCA. This is a simplification of what is true. THCA is the “inactivated” THC molecule still carrying the original acid molecule i.e. not psycho-active. It still has many beneficial properties. I’m not going to go into details here as there are many websites and people willing to explain this.

You can also get an “activated” tincture, often labelled as THC tincture. This could be activated pure oil dissolved into alcohol, or a direct extraction with pre-activated bud. Here again, mistreatment of the medicine can happen. The quality of plant material (flowers) is not reliable for most that make Cannabis medicine, as there is an inconstant supply of raw bud. This creates a constantly varying product whose strength is really only determinable per batch. Many aren’t bothered to figure this out before sale.

Coconut/Olive oil infusion – There are two available styles of doing this. Direct extract is where the bud is placed directly into the carrier oil (coconut or olive oil), and allowed to infuse over time. Heating it up through the use of a double boiler quickens the infusion, but unless you’ve investigated the different boiling and smoking points of these oils, as well as the standard procedures for extraction, you do run the risk of destroying the end medicine. Or contaminating it. This method is ideal for those who wish to make their own at home. There are people willing to teach the direct extraction method, with relevant background information, for any who wish to learn for domestic use only.

The other method, infusion, is when Full Extract Cannabis Oil is made and then infused into the carrier oil. This method is more financially viable for commercial use, and is used by many who supply on the underground market. Again, quality and strength is dependant on the quality and supply of bud, so each batch can end up being completely different.

Full Extract Cannabis Oil – The “black” oil is simply the pure Cannabis oil that remains from distilling off the alcohol from cold press tincture. Seems simple right? The issue here is the alcohol used for this extraction. Pure, potable, high proof alcohol is ideal and like hens’ teeth to find. It also costs a lot!!! Many are not willing to pay this cost because it cuts into their bottom line. They end up compromising and using solvents like denatured alcohol (99% ethanol), benzene, isopropyl alcohol, butane and other chemicals which are toxic and carcinogenic in parts per billion.

Now this is where it gets sketchy! They will claim they have purged the oil of the residue of these chemicals. HOGWASH! There will always be traceable amounts, which are still toxic and poisonous, and concentrated.

Why do we need regulations?

Without some form of regulation, of the people involved, the possible abuse that can take place is scary. And those that suffer it are you, the person seeking to use this medicine. Some might advocate then that the government should control this? My reply is, “Tell me, how good a job have they done with the current regulation of medicine? What about the pharmaceutical companies, who act independently and tender rig for profit?”

What is needed is regulation of the activities of the people involved, not the Cannabis plant. Cannabis is a natural living plant that is beneficial. Let’s all start acting in a manner deserving of this plant.

What the plant needs to be freed, is people that see the benefit of Cannabis medicine and want reliable, herbal organic, beneficial medicine available at reasonable prices, or to be able to make your own and become medically independent, to stand up in support of those that will enable this to take place.

Be responsible.

The only organisation that I am aware of that is looking at freeing Cannabis as a whole is the South African Cannabis Community & Regulatory Association. Neither the Western Cape High Court ruling nor this current Dagga Couple case will bring about the freedom of Cannabis. The relief that the Dagga Couple are seeking is better state control!!?? Meaning, you’ll have access to an extremely expensive, ineffective medicine that is good for simple pain and nausea, if you are lucky. Or you may just be ending up with the synthetic version of THC which is toxic, deadly and addictive. The doctor that synthesised it himself said you’d need to be crazy to take it.

And on the “Cannabis is addictive” note, it’s less addictive than coffee. For a substance to be classified as addictive your body has to have physical withdrawal from the absence of the substance, which is not the case with Cannabis. Any “addictive” like symptoms are purely a psychological dependency, kind of like comfort eating, TV shows, shopping, chocolate or sex!

So here are a few things you can ask regarding the product you are purchasing.

What alcohol did they use?

The only acceptable alcohol is potable alcohol, which most people can only get from our bottle stores. This means they using plain vodka, which works but is a very low proof/percentage alcohol, quickly saturating with the beneficial Cannabis oils, and carrying smaller amounts of oil compared to a higher proof alcohol. So by knowing what alcohol they are using you can also determine the strength, because a lower proof alcohol carries less cannabinoids. Therefore you are required to use larger doses, whereas a higher proof alcohol carries more cannabinois, requiring smaller doses. Unacceptable liquids are denatured alcohol (99% ethanol), benzene, isopropyl alcohol, butane rubbing alcohol, any and all “medicinal” grade alcohol, which have normally have been infused with highly toxic and dangerous chemicals to “help” sterilise medical instruments.

Was it trim? Or full flower bud?

What usually happens is those making these products are smokers who smoke the flowers, and are left with the “trim”. Trim does contains cannabinoids but in a significantly lower volume. Sadly, under current restrictions regarding the illegality of Cannabis, there is no way to identify what volumes of trim/bud to alcohol is sufficient to give really decent products. At this point any sort of Cannabinoids entering your body is beneficial, just don’t expect a cancer cure.

Where did you get your Cannabis from?

Most will say they have “this grower” growing for them in Swaziland or some such thing. Normally that means they’ve gone to the local street dealers, bought a fat stash and used that. Or they have bought in big volumes of that same stuff from the street dealer’s supplier. Until you have investigated Cannabis you will have the wool pulled over your eyes time and time again. Ideally you need a supplier who grows their own organic Cannabis, who preferably doesn’t smoke it, so they use full flowers in the process. Where people get their Cannabis plays a major role. The more hands it passes through, not only does the price keep climbing, but the constant handling and moving of the buds causes a lot of the oil glands to break off and reduces the volume of available oils.

In an ideal world each of us should be able to, without threat of prosecution or defamation of character (be considered wrong or evil), grow and make our own Cannabis medicines. Saying that, not everyone has the ability or time to grow Cannabis. Nor the desire to make their own medicine. We all wish to have access to the best possible Cannabis medicine, because we all do deserve the best!!

Please also be aware that this isn’t just a medicine. It’s clothing; bio-degradable, nontoxic plastic; biofuel (so clean the exhaust fumes are the same as a human breathing out); paper; soil cleaner and a building material for houses. Whilst Cannabis remains illegal, the potential of these products will only be possible for the few.

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