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Grass Roots America Magazine – May 2020

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Education & Research

What’s Working for Stress Issues

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Releaf is a free mobile app that encourages patients to mindfully track their cannabis experiences. They believe you will strengthen your relationship with yourself while also learning how cannabis can help alleviate your specific issues and ailments. GRAM is proud to share with our readers data gathered using Releaf from individuals suffering from stress symptoms. 

They reported the effectiveness of products for specific symptoms of individuals suffering from anxiety, insomnia, agoraphobia, depression, PTSD, and gastrointestinal problems. The data reflect their individual experiences self-reported using the Releaf App.


Top Rated in USA

Anxiety

  • Orange Cream, Concentrate | The Clear | Colorado
  • Zen Pure Reserve Oil, Concentrate | Surterra | Florida
  • Ac/Dc, Flower | Opc Cultivation | Ohio

Insomnia

  • Grape Dreams, Concentrate | Evolab | Colorad
  • Cherry Chem Og, Concentrate | Ascend Illinois | Illinois
  • 707 Headband Live Resin Budder, Concentrate | Cresco | Pennsylvania

Agoraphobia

  • Orange Cream, Concentrate | The Clear | Colorado
  • Zen Pure Reserve Oil, Concentrate | Surterra | Florida
  • Purple Haze #44, Wax | Prime Wellness | Pennsylvania


Depression

  • Flo, Flower | Emerald Fields | Colorado
  • Zen Pure reserve Oil | Surterra | Florida
  • Florida Black Haze #14, Flower | Prime Wellness | Pennsylvania

PTSD

  • Flo, Flower | Emerald Fields | Colorado
  • Holy Roller Og, Flower | Bold | Arkansas
  • Terra Penn Wife’s Poison, Concentrate | Terrapin | Pennsylvania

Gostrointestinal Problems

  • Jillybean, Flower | Baseball 18 | Colorado
  • Lemon G, Flower | Terrapin | Pennsylvania
  • Harmony, Concentrate | Luxlyte | New York

Top Rated in Florida

Anxiety

  • Zen Pure Reserve Oil, Concentrate | Surterra
  • Ac/Dc, Concentrate | Trulieve
  • Super Sour Diesel, Concentrate | Trulieve

Insomnia

  • Granddaddy Purple, Concentrate | Curaleaf
  • 9lb Hammer, Concentrate | Trulieve
  • Vidacann Indica, Pill | Vidacann

Agoraphobia

  • Zen Pure Reserve Oil | Surterra
  • Ac/Dc, Concentrate | Trulieve
  • Suer Sour Diesel, Concentrate | Trulieve

Depression

  • Zen Pure Reserve Oil | Surterra
  • Ac/Dc, Concentrate | Trulieve
  • Super Sour Diesel, Concentrate | Trulieve

PTSD

  • Ac/Dc, Concentrate | Trulieve
  • Super Sour Diesel, Concentrate | Organic Smart Cart
  • Jack Herer, Concentrate | Curaleaf

Gastrointestinal Problems

  • Zen, Concentrate | Surterra
  • Serene Blend, Concentrate | Surterra
  • Revive AM Blend, Concentrate | Surterra

DOWNLOAD RELEAF APP TODAY TO TRACK, LEARN FROM, AND IMPROVE YOUR USE OF CANNABIS BY VISITING: releaf.at/GRAM

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Year of the Nurse

Featuring Eloise Theisen

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Eloise Theisen is the president of the American Cannabis Nurses’ Association (ACNA). She has been a nurse for 20 years and a cannabis nurse for six years. With the focus on healthcare workers during the pandemic of COVID-19, GRAM felt talking to a cannabis nurse about COVID-19 issues would benefit our readers.

The number one challenge across the country is rapid change and uncertainty. This uncertainty is no different for the cannabis industry. “One of the challenges we’re seeing in the industry right now are these rapid changes that are coming out around deeming cannabis as an essential business in some states and not others; requiring adult-use states to now only supply cannabis to medical patients again. I think we’re seeing the industry–as a whole–is in jeopardy in terms of being able to sustain and weather this storm because of the fact we don’t qualify for any of the business stimulus relief at the federal level because we’re federally illegal still. So we have all these challenges as an industry that I am concerned about how, eventually, the ripple effect comes to patients. If manufacturers can’t weather this storm, if dispensaries and growers can’t weather this storm, who’s going to be there for patients when we start to come out of this?” Eloise said. 

A challenge for healthcare providers is providing the opportunity for cannabis as an alternative to opioids. Eloise said, “The way that the laws are set up, you have to go in and physically get your prescription refilled. And with all the practices trying to limit patients coming in, some of these chronic pain patients on opioid prescriptions are having a hard time getting their prescriptions refilled. So it’s a good time to explore cannabis as a medicine, as either an alternative to their pain medication or something they can use in conjunction, which may allow them to spare some of the dosages.”

Eloise highlighted the extreme variations happening across the healthcare industry that she sees through ACNA. “What we’re seeing right now is there are hotspots in need of healthcare professionals, but outside of that, we’re seeing layoffs, furloughs, and places closing down because the ERs aren’t at capacity or the hospitals aren’t at capacity. So there’s a real interesting extreme happening in healthcare where we’re either in crisis mode like in New York City, Michigan, Chicago, or you’re getting laid off.” One of the things ACNA is working on is a position statement on post-traumatic stress. Eloise anticipates a “huge increase in that diagnosis from the frontlines, first responders. So we want to get out there and get the states to list PTSD as a qualifying condition because not all states do.”

Eloise addressed the various concerns floating around about using cannabis in these times. “I think a lot of people are nervous about inhaling cannabis right now because there’s been some mixed reports, some clickbait, fear-mongering articles coming out. A lot of those articles, they’re using information based on tobacco studies and not cannabis studies.”

“We do have legitimate research to show that cannabis is effective for things like anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia, and those are three major conditions or symptoms that people are struggling with right now,” she said. “I would say if you’re new to cannabis, inhalation is not the route you should choose to start until COVID settles in. If you’re a long-term cannabis user and you’re having any respiratory distress or any type of respiratory symptoms like a cough or shortness of breath, you should stop, contact your healthcare provider. Know that there are other options out there.”

It is important to note that cannabis is not a treatment for COVID-19. The ACNA came out with a statement1 addressing cannabis or CBD products being marketed as a cure or treatment for COVID-19. Eloise said, “I think it’s essential for patients to know that the FDA says there’s no coronavirus treatment or cure, and what we know about cannabis and immunity is mixed. So if you’re seeing people making claims about how cannabis or CBD can improve your immune system to fight COVID, you should be suspicious of those claims, and they haven’t been founded in science.”

If you are trying to save money on cannabis or hemp-based CBD products, you are probably sacrificing quality and putting yourself at risk. Eloise said, “Right now, because people have limited income, they may be turning to the grey market to try to save some money, and there’s concern about what’s in those products in terms of mold and pesticides.”

One frustrating aspect of the current environment is that in the race to find a treatment and develop a vaccine for coronavirus, doctors and scientists are basing decisions on extremely small subject groups. “The gold standard of the double-blind, randomized placebo trials, that the healthcare community requires or requests for any type of treatment has been getting a lot of pushback with cannabis, and here we are seeing very small sample sizes with coronavirus and different treatments. And you understand, people are desperate. They’re theorizing how COVID is behaving in the body and what mechanism of action and trying to find the right medication for it. But we see mixed results. Even The New England Journal of Medicine published and basically said there’s not enough evidence to support that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are effective treatments for COVID right now.2 Yet we have our current leadership out there promoting this treatment [which has] devastating side effects. It can be toxic to the heart, among other things. It’s this double standard that we’re experiencing right now. I would love to see some leniency or some opportunities open up for cannabis,” Eloise said. “You’re reading about shortages in the hospitals for the different things we need to treat patients, not just with personal protective equipment, but now medication. It’s like if there was ever a time for cannabis, now is it.”

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Testing Requirements for Medical Marijuana

Part 1 of 4 Part Series

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State by state, when rules and regulations are written for medical marijuana one very important area is often overlooked – testing. The need for testing cannabis seems like a no brainer. However, when most states launch their medical marijuana programs the parameters for testing are not always laid out. It often takes additional laws being written to mandate testing. The regulation of pesticides on cannabis, including the difficulty of setting specific residue limits is not the only thing that needs to be considered. Solvent residues, microbes, and heavy metals each pose regulatory challenges of their own. Another hot topic regarding testing is terpenes. It is not mandatory to test for terpenes and from what science is teaching us, we should all be paying close attention to which terpenes are in the cannabis strains we are consuming.

This article is the first in a series focused on the various needs for testing cannabis. Each article will cover the need for testing and why, as well as a call to action so that you can feel educated and empowered to make your voice heard wherever you live. Cannabis consumers are not just healthy adults. In most states, medical marijuana programs are legalized before recreational laws are even considered. This means that consumers consist of all age groups with various types of illnesses and conditions, and everyone is entitled to clean medicine.

The need for testing cannabis seems like a no brainer.

Third party testing is required in all states to show the amount of THC and CBD the marijuana cultivars possess. But, testing for pesticides, terpenes, and anything else varies from state to state. Regulations for testing are vital, and laboratory analysis is the bare minimum for medical cannabis facilities. A medical marijuana treatment center must retain all records of testing, as well as the samples, for a minimum of nine months (depending on the state.) Then, if a sample does not meet the set legal standards, the treatment center must recall all other products from the same batch.

Pesticides are used in the growing of cannabis for pests, insect infestations, mites, and more. Cannabis crops are very expensive, and the fastest and most inexpensive solution for bug problems is often to spray the crops down with chemicals. 33 states now have medical marijuana in the US, and they all have different rules and regulations surrounding pesticides. A major cause for this could be the fact that pesticide use in agriculture is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and overseen by state and local governments. But, the federal government considers cannabis an illegal drug.1 Therefore, the EPA has not approved any pesticides for use on the plant, nor has the agency provided any indication of the level of residues on cannabis products—if any—that could be considered safe. 

Each state has had to create new laws and executive orders. Colorado for example, passed Amendment 20 in 2000 legalizing medical marijuana. But, their emergency rules for testing for pesticides took place in 2015 when the Governor issued an executive order directing Colorado state agencies to address the threat to public safety posed by marijuana contaminated by pesticides. By March of 2016, the Colorado Department of Agriculture passed rules and regulations for the Pesticide Applicators Act to apply to cannabis as well.3

Now, 20 years after medical marijuana was legalized, the state of Colorado maintains a very thorough list of which pesticides can be used on growing cannabis. The list is now up to 46 pages.4 Whenever the list is updated, notifications are sent out to all cannabis businesses and anyone registered on the list to receive updates. This streamlined process took years for the state of Colorado to fully develop. This type of list is something every state should implement.  Another example is Washington state. Five years into their recreational cannabis program, they are still working on laws related to pesticides used on recreational cannabis. Currently, their medical cannabis testing requirements for pesticides are simply to detect the general presence of any pesticides prohibited by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Regulations for testing are vital.

Florida is an agricultural state. Many crops are exported from the state and many pesticides are already in use for these large scale crops. The difference is—we don’t smoke strawberries or oranges. Some pesticides are deemed safe to be eaten if the produce is thoroughly washed off before eating. We don’t wash our cannabis. Instead we add fire to it when consumed through a pipe or a joint, or we add solvents to it to turn it into concentrates, or we cook with it to become edibles. None of these methods of usage have been studied for the pesticides in question. This can lead to people becoming sick after consumption if the plants are not properly flushed. 

Florida created emergency rule 64ER20 in January 2020 requiring that testing results  be reported accurately to three significant figures as the concentration in milligrams per kilogram, dry-weight for any test reported in parts per million (ppm,) and to three (3) significant figures as the concentration in micrograms per kilogram dry-weight for any test reported in parts per billion (ppb).5 They also provided a list of some 67 agricultural agents used in the growing process and what the testing parameters are for each chemical. This is a great step in the right direction.

Now you may be wondering, “What are they testing for in my state, or how can I make sure we have testing for pesticides?” The first place you can check, is the website your state has created for their medical marijuana program. You can find this by searching “medical marijuana Washington” or whatever state you live in. In Florida, the Department of Health created the OMMU (Office of Medical Marijuana Use) to be the official source of all things cannabis.6 They are responsible for writing and implementing the department’s rules for medical marijuana, overseeing the statewide Medical Marijuana Use Registry, and licensing Florida businesses to cultivate, process, and dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients. 

You can also try reaching out to cannabis organizations currently fighting for your rights as patients, such as Americans for Safe Access. The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.7 There are also groups like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) working towards cannabis legalization as a whole. NORML has chapters in almost every state working towards broadening the conversation surrounding the cannabis plant.8

There are steps you can take to feel empowered and make your voice heard. 

Follow these 4 steps to empowerment…

1. Reach out to your legislators
If you don’t know who they are, that is okay. Our government has made it incredibly easy to find out exactly who represents you at the local, state, and federal levels. By visiting the site www.usa.gov and clicking on the tab at the top of the screen that says “Government Agencies and Elected Officials,” you will then see the question pop up that says,
“How do I contact my elected officials?” Simply click on that and away you go.9

Pro-tip: Do your homework before you write a letter to your representative. What does that mean? It means to research them and their opinions of things, especially the issue you are contacting them about. Follow the Ten Commandments of speaking with lawmakers and you will do great.

2. Get involved
Whether you are a keyboard warrior or you are better at walking the halls of your state Capitol or medical cannabis business offices. Become proactive and interactive with your elected officials. Don’t just send emails, try calling their offices too. Remember, if you call, have a plan of what you want to say.

3. Interact digitally
In addition to platforms like Facebook and Instagram increasing the amount of interaction politicians make, Twitter remains the place where most are active daily. Consider making an account to interact and read their opinion on current events. 

4. Attend town hall meetings
Your representatives will hold local Town Hall events where the public is encouraged to attend and voice concerns. You can usually find when and where these events are going to take place on your representative’s website. If you do not see any upcoming events listed, call their office and ask their assistant. They will be happy to provide an engaged citizen with the information.


The Ten Commandments for Speaking with Lawmakers

  1. Thou shalt not lie to thy legislators.
  2. Thou shalt not forget to thank thy legislators for their help.
  3. Thou shalt not ignore thy legislators between sessions. 
  4. Thou shalt not be hypercritical of thy legislator’s voting on any bill.
  5. Thou shalt not hesitate to praise thy legislators publicly for their good works.
  6. Thou shalt not insist thy legislators desert their party on important party policy.
  7. Thou shalt not fail to recognize the importance of thy legislator’s office.
  8. Thou shalt not forget thy legislators too hath problems and sometimes needeth assistance in their day.
  9. Thou shalt not become completely partisan.
  10. Thou shalt not nitpick.

Do your homework on the office you will visit:

  • Familiarize yourself with your representative’s position or votes on relevant issues.
  • It is nice if there is something you can thank them for right from the start.

Greeting

  • A warm greeting is a great ice breaker.
  • Begin your meeting by thanking your representative for his/her time.
  • Introduce yourself and all members in your group and state why you have requested a
  • meeting or why you are stopping by their office. 
  • Identify your association and no more than three priority issues.

Stay on Message

  • Be professional, but assertive.
  • Be brief. Representatives appreciate it when you get to the point and respect their time.
  • Ask for something; be specific.
  • Never make up information or ‘guess.’
  • It is best to say, “I need to get back to you.” Other than making up an answer.
  • Encourage a conversation. Ask questions of the staff.

Tips for After the Meeting

  • Take notes to help you remember what was accomplished.
  • Find the answers to questions you were unable to answer during your meeting and follow up with them like you said you would.
  • Send a thank you note and other relevant information when you get home/back to your office.

Sources:

1. Seltenrich, N. Environmental Health Perspectives. April 25, 2019. doi: 10.1289/EHP5265

2. https://www.safeaccessnow.org/amendment_20_to_colorado_s_state_constitutionnew  “Amendment 20 To Colorado’s Constitution” Americans for Safe Access.” 

3. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/agplants/pesticide-use-cannabis-production-information  “Pesticide Use in Cannabis Production” Colorado Department of Agriculture.

4. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1upPu4MArl5Wcdy0eOgP7fkgFDTTSmQo0/view  “Pesticides allowed for use in cannabis production.” Colorado. 

5. https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ruleNo.asp?id=64ER20-9  Florida Department of Health. Emergency Rule for 2020, 64ER20-9.

6. https://knowthefactsmmj.com/  OMMU, Office of Medical Marijuana, Florida. 

7. https://www.safeaccessnow.org/   Americans for Safe Access.

8. https://norml.org/chapters   NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) “How to find a chapter near you.”

9. https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials  “How to contact your elected officials.”

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