Cannabis Products

California Cannabis Companies Provide Relief to Valley Fire Victims

Valley Fire relief
By on September 26, 2015

Care By Design and AbsoluteXtracts provide $20,000 of free medicine to local patients

Santa Rosa, CA (September 24, 2015): Care By Design and AbsoluteXtracts are donating $20,000 of medical marijuana products to patients who lost access to their medicine due to the fires in Lake and Napa Counties.

The companies are partnering with local dispensaries throughout Northern California to assist patients impacted by the Valley Fire.

The combined damage of the fires is devastating and is reported to be the third worst fire in California history. Over 1,900 homes have been burned, more than 76,000 acres of land destroyed, and five casualties reported. Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate their homes, leaving them with restricted access to essential daily items—including medical marijuana.

The companies jointly stated: “This disaster happened in our own backyard. As a company that prides itself on putting patient needs first, we felt there was no better time to reach out and help our neighbors in their time of need.”

Care By Design and AbsoluteXtracts have made it easy for patients to pick up free replacement products. Medical marijuana patients simply need to visit one of the five participating dispensaries and present a doctor's letter of recommendation and a valid CA ID with an address in the affected zone.

Patients can get up to $200 of Care By Design and/or AbsoluteXtracts products.


Illuminating Results of CBD Patient Survey

Care By Design
By on September 15, 2015

Care By Design surveyed thousands of patients who had been using CBD-rich cannabis medicines for over 30 days. They asked patients what they were taking CBD-rich cannabis for, the ratio of CBD-to-THC they were using, and about its impact on pain, discomfort, energy, mood, and overall wellbeing. 

Here's what they learned:



Key Findings

  1. Medical marijuana patients are using CBD-rich cannabis for a wide variety of conditions, including serious and incurable diseases, and conditions that may respond poorly to FDA-approved pharmaceuticals. Over 12% are using it to address the side effects of cancer treatment.
  2. Patients with psychiatric illnesses, mood disorders, neurological diseases and CNS injuries favor CBD-dominant cannabis medicines. Patients with pain and inflammation favor CBD-rich cannabis medicines with more equal levels of CBD and THC.
  3. THC matters. Patients using the 4:1 CBD-to-THC were the most likely to report a reduction in pain or discomfort, and improvements in mood and energy. Patients using the 2:1 CBD-to-THC ratio reported the greatest improvement in overall wellbeing. This finding is consistent with scientific research indicating that CBD and THC interact synergistically to enhance one another’s therapeutic effect.
  4. CBD-rich cannabis appears to be remarkably good at ameliorating pain (particularly in patients with fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines), and at improving patients’ sense of wellbeing, particularly for patients with PTSD.
  5. Given that people using CBD-rich cannabis for “general wellbeing” are the only group who reported a decreased feeling of wellbeing and the most likely to report a worsening mood, it's possible that CBD products may not be appropriate as a supplement for people who are otherwise healthy.

Project CBD director Martin A. Lee served as a product development consultant for Care By Design. He did not participate in the preparation of this report.

PDF icon CBD Patient Survey1.34 MB

Fortunate Sun: Solar Power and the Birth of the American Cannabis Industry

Emerald Pharms Nursery & Dispensary, Hopland, CA
By on August 26, 2015

When solar energy pioneer John Schaeffer sold the first photovoltaic panel to a U.S. retail customer in Mendocino County in 1978, he didn’t realize that he had struck a decisive blow against the war on drugs.

It was an auspicious time for Schaeffer to launch his business, the Real Goods eco-store in Willits, California, which specialized in solar power equipment, organic fertilizer, irrigation systems, and tools for sustainable living (before “sustainable” became a catchword). During the late 1970s, Mendocino farmers in increasing numbers were turning to marijuana to make ends meet, and the solar power technology provided by Real Goods enabled cannabis growers and their families to live off-the-grid in remote, rural areas while raising a lucrative, albeit illegal, cash crop.

“Cannabis was the new and up-and-coming thing,” explained Schaeffer. “Solar power facilitated the emergence of an indigenous cannabis industry in Northern California. And the cannabis growers, in turn, supported the fledgling solar power movement... It was a fruitful symbiosis.”

Solar technology was new and expensive back then. “Initially,” Schaeffer recalled, “we sold small, nine-watt panels for $900—that’s $100 per watt. [By reference today, solar panels go for about one dollar per watt, so the price has dropped by 99 per cent.] Who could afford a $900 watt panel that would charge a battery to run lights, a TV, a sound system for music? Well, the marijuana growers were the only people who could afford it.”

Within a few years, the region known as the Emerald Triangle—encompassing Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties—would become America’s cannabis breadbasket, the heartland of domestic marijuana cultivation. Located two hours north of San Francisco, this lush, 10,000 square mile swath of redwoods and rushing streams was home to a loose-knit underground of fiercely independent farmers who, it turns out, exceled at growing cannabis. These guerrilla ganja growers managed to transform “homegrown”—an erstwhile put-down for lousy ditch weed—into some of the best, most expensive, and most sought-after herb in the world.

Back to the land

John Schaeffer moved to Mendocino County shortly after he graduated from Berkeley in 1971, flush with idealism about “going up the country” and living off the land with likeminded youthful refugees from the city. A back-to-nature movement was underway, and Schaffer joined one of the many hippie homesteader communes that were sprouting in the area. “All of us wanted to come to the woods to learn what real life was about... We experimented with all kinds of things from growing our own food to building our first houses, our first water systems, experiencing what it was like to live in community.”

While Schaeffer’s intentional family was learning about life without the creature comforts, outlaw horticulturists in the Emerald Triangle were rediscovering and resurrecting the ancient tradition of cultivating potent, seedless cannabis, otherwise known as sinsemilla. This practice entailed identifying and uprooting all the male plants to prevent the female marijuana plants from being pollinated, thereby causing the sexually frustrated females to produce bigger flower clusters with more gooey, psychoactive resin in a vain attempt to catch pollen that would never arrive.

Homegrown, high-potency sinsemilla was an instant hit among American marijuana smokers when it was introduced in the late 1970s. It was also good medicine for the local economy, thanks to talented, below-the-radar gardeners who transformed marijuana into one of the most phenomenal success stories in the annals of modern horticulture. Farmers in the Emerald Triangle could sell their sinsemilla buds for $2000 a pound or more, a staggering amount of cash compared to any other field crop. Ancilliary businesses blossomed in cannabis country. Generous donations from anonymous growers funded volunteer fire departments, community theater productions, and lots more.

Marijuana made possible a quiet rural renaissance in Northern California, where some 30,000 growers took part in the largest illicit agricultural movement in American history, a phenomenon that paralleled the co-evolving solar power movement, which originated in the same region. As the cannabis underground proliferated in the Emerald Triangle, Real Goods expanded and relocated to a 12-acre “permaculture oasis” in Hopland, a nearby Mendocino redoubt, which also served as headquarters of the nonprofit Solar Living Institute, a green technology showcase and educational center. “We called ourselves the solar capital of the world, because solar was born here,” said Schaeffer, who noted the synchronous trajectories of cannabis and solar power: “Marijuana growers were supporting the solar movement, but at the same time the solar movement was supporting them because the growers couldn’t live off-the-grid for any lengthy period on kerosene and candles.”

A Source Nation

The DEA was so disturbed by the scale of domestic marijuana cultivation that it designated Northern California as a “source nation” for illegal drugs, as if the Golden State was a foreign country. The federal government proceeded to set its gun sights on the burgeoning cannabis industry in the Emerald Triangle, turning the once-tranquil territory into a combat zone, a key battleground of President Reagan’s newly militarized war on drugs.

Throughout the 1980s, narcs in camouflage fatigues ran roughshod over Emerald Triangle residents, wielding machetes and hacking through pot gardens, large and small, under the auspices of CAMP, the federally funded Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. During harvest season, CAMP officers stood guard at twenty-four-hour checkpoints on country roads, while Huey helicopters buzzed homes and marijuana eradication squads invaded private property without search warrants. It was a time when Northern California “rejoined, operationally speaking, the Third World,” as Thomas Pynchon wrote in Vineland, his novel set in America’s prime pot-growing region during the Reagan years.

But the war on drugs, which Reagan dramatically escalated, was already doomed when the president made “Just Say No” a top law enforcement priority. The emergence of high quality homegrown marijuana in the Emerald Triangle would prove to be a crucial turning point in the drug war, tipping the balance irreversibly in favor of eventual legalization.

As soon as Reagan sent in the posse, the risks for marijuana farmers increased and, consequently, they charged and got more for their product. Cultivating cannabis was simply too profitable to forsake—and a lot of folks were growing it. No matter what the U.S. government did, marijuana wouldn’t go away. “Once homegrown started,” says Schaeffer, “there was no stopping it.”

The advent of homegrown cannabis signaled the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition.

In 1996, when California voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in the Golden State, “it became clear,” in Schaeffer’s words, “that the horse was out of the barn.” Prohibition’s days were numbered. It was just a matter of time before the political realities caught up with the pro-cannabis cultural shift that was already well underway. What began as a back-to-the-land rebellion in Northern California would culminate several decades later in the legalization of marijuana in several U.S. states.

With California poised to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2016, Schaeffer’s efforts have come full circle. Real Goods is sponsoring the launch of Emerald Pharms, the world’s first solar-powered medical marijuana dispensary, which will open next month in Hopland, California, the gateway to the Emerald Triangle.

Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

How Safe is Your Vape Pen?

cbd vape oil
By on July 14, 2015

The Hidden Dangers of Propylene Glycol

Jahan Marcu, PhD, reports on the hidden dangers of propylene glycol and vape pens that smolder.

Portable electronic devices, known as “vape pens,” are increasingly popular among medical marijuana patients and others because they provide a convenient, discreet, and presumably benign way to administer cannabis. But how safe are vape pens and the liquid solutions inside the cartridges that attach to these devices? Who knows what’s actually being inhaled?

It’s generally assumed that vaping is a healthier method of administration than inhaling marijuana smoke, which contains noxious substances that may irritate the lungs. Since a vaporizer heats the cannabis flower or oil concentrate without burning it, the active ingredients are inhaled but no smoke is involved. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

But there may be a hidden downside to vape pens, which are manufactured (typically in China), marketed, and utilized without regulatory controls. Available online and in medical marijuana dispensaries, vape pens contain a battery-operated heating mechanism, which at high temperatures can transform solvents, flavoring agents, and various vape oil additives into carcinogens and other dangerous toxins.

Of particular concern: Propylene glycol, a widely used chemical that is mixed with cannabis or hemp oil in many vape pen cartridges. A syrupy, thinning compound, propylene glycol is also the primary ingredient in a majority of nicotine-infused e-cigarette solutions. At high temperatures, propylene glycol converts into tiny polymers that can wreak havoc on lung tissue.

Scientists know a great deal about propylene glycol. It is found in a plethora of common household items—cosmetics, baby wipes, pharmaceuticals, pet food, antifreeze, etc. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have deemed propylene glycol safe for human ingestion and topical application. But exposure by inhalation is another matter. Many things are safe to eat but dangerous to breathe.

A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that airborne propylene glycol circulating indoors can induce or exacerbate asthma, eczema, and many allergic symptoms. Children were said to be particularly sensitive to these airborne toxins. An earlier toxicology review warned that propylene glycol, ubiquitous in hairsprays, could be harmful because aerosol particles lodge deep in the lungs and are not respirable.

When propylene glycol is heated by a red-hot metal coil, the potential harm from inhalation exposure increases. High voltage heat can transform propylene glycol and other vaping additives into carbonyls. Carbonyls are a group of cancer-causing chemicals that includes formaldehyde, which has been linked to spontaneous abortions and low birth weight. A known thermal breakdown product of propylene glycol, formaldehyde is an International Agency for Research on Cancer group 1 carcinogen.

Because of low oral toxicity, propylene glycol is classified by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use as a food additive, but this assessment was based on toxicity studies that did not involve heating and breathing propylene glycol.

Prevalent in nicotine e-cig products and present in some vape oil cartridges, FDA-approved flavoring agents pose additional risks when inhaled rather than eaten. The flavoring compounds smooth and creamy (diacetyl and acetyl propionyl) are associated with respiratory illness when inhaled in tobacco e-cigarette devices. Another hazardous-when-inhaled-but-safe-to-eat flavoring compound is cinnamon ceylon, which becomes cytotoxic when aerosolized.

Currently, there is no conclusive evidence that frequent users will develop cancer or another illness if they inhale the contents of vape oil cartridges. That’s because little is actually known about the short or long-term health effects of inhaling propylene glycol and other ingredients that are present in flavored vape pen cartridges. Many of these prefilled cartridges are poorly labeled with little or no meaningful information on their contents.

The possibility that vape pens might expose people to unknown health hazards underscores the importance of adequate safety testing for these products, which thus far has been lacking.

Scientists face several challenges as they try to gather relevant safety data. As yet, no one has determined how much e-cig vapor the typical user breathes in, so different studies assume different amounts of vapor as their standard, making it difficult to compare results. Tracing what happens to the vapor once it is inhaled is equally problematic.

The biggest variable is the device itself. The performance of each vape pen can vary greatly between different devices and sometimes there is considerable variance when comparing two devices of the same model.

Some vape pens require pressing a button to charge the heating coil; others are buttonless and one activates the battery simply by sucking on the pen. The surface area of the vape pen’s heating element and its electrical resistance play a large role in converting ingestible solvents into inhalable toxins.

Another confounding factor is the scant information on when and how long the user pushes the button or inhales on average, how long the coil heats up, or the voltage used during the heating process. A five-volt setting yielded higher levels of formaldehyde in a controlled propylene glycol study cited in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the case of vape pens, there’s a great need for specific research on how people actually use these products in the real world in order to understand potential benefits or harms.

Such studies have been conducted using the Volcano vaporizer, a first generation vaping device that differs from a vape pen, a more recent innovation, in several ways. Utilized in clinical trials as a medical delivery device, the Volcano is not a portable contraption. The Volcano only heats raw cannabis flower, not oil extract solutions, and it doesn’t combust the bud.

Vape pen manufacturers don’t like to admit it, but when the heating element gets red hot in a vape pen, the solution inside the prefilled cartridges undergoes a process called “smoldering,” a technical term for what is tantamount to “burning.” While much of the vape oil liquid is vaporized and atomized, a portion of the vape oil blend undergoes pyrolysis or combustion. In that sense, most of the vape pens that have flooded the commercial market may not be true vaporizers.

Unlike vape pen devices, the Volcano vaporizer has been tested for safety and pharmacokinetics (a measurement of what’s in the blood and how long it stays there). Collectively, the data indicate that vaporizing whole plant cannabis exposes the user to lower amounts of carcinogens compared to smoke and decreases side effects (such as reactions to the harshness of smoke).

But nonportable vaporizers like the Volcano may still pose health concerns if the vaporized cannabis flower is below acceptable botanical safety standards. A recent article in the Journal of Analytical Methods notes that high levels of ammonia are produced from vaporizing cannabis grown incorrectly, perhaps due to the lack of flushing during hydroponic cultivation. There’s a growing body of data suggesting that the chemicals used to push the plant towards unnaturally high THC concentrations stay in the finished product.

Dr. Jahan Marcu is the chief scientist for Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and chief auditor for ASA's Patient Focused Certification program. He serves on the board of various trade association and science organization committees, including the American Chemical Society, the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine, and the American Herbal Products Association.

CBD Hemp Oil Vape Cartridges with Propylene Glycol

Project CBD research associate Eric Geisterfer conducted a limited survey of cannabis vape oil and CBD hemp vape oil cartridges. Several of these products were found to include propylene glycol as an additive. The list below is incomplete—vape oil products are continually being introduced and in some cases rebranded.

Hemp oil vape cartridges that contain Propylene Glycol

  • Alternate Vape
  • Bluebird Botanicals
  • CannaVape CBD Oil
  • Cloud 9 CBD
  • Delta Liquids
  • Entourage Hemp Products also known as Cannoid LLC
  • Hemp Life Today (also known as Cannazall)
  • Hemp Pure Vape
  • Hemp Vap
  • KanaVape
  • Miracle Smoke
  • Michigan Hemp Company (also known as Bluegrass Naturals)
  • Pure CBD Vapors
  • Pure Hemp Vape
  • Tasty Hemp Oil
  • Zamnesia CBD Smart Liquid

Some cannabis vape oil cartridges also include propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol as a thinning agent. Both compounds may have adverse health effects when heated and inhaled. Neither has been safety tested by the FDA for inhalation when heated. Cannabis consumers should carefully scrutinize cannabis product labels.

    Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

    Article Sources

    • Boom in E-cigarettes Sparks Debate. Chem Eng News. 2015;93(7):10-13.
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    • Barrington-Trimis JL, Samet JM, McConnell R. Flavorings in Electronic Cigarettes: An Unrecognized Respiratory Health Hazard? JAMA. 2014;312(23):2493-2494. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.14830.
    • Choi H, Schmidbauer N, Sundell J, Hasselgren M, Spengler J, Bornehag C-G. Common Household Chemicals and the Allergy Risks in Pre-School Age Children. Hartl D, ed. PLoS ONE. 2010;5(10):e13423. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013423.
    • Choi H, Schmidbauer N, Spengler J, Bornehag C-G. Sources of Propylene Glycol and Glycol Ethers in Air at Home. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2010, Vol 7, Pages 4213-4237. 2010;7(12):4213-4237. doi:10.3390/ijerph7124213.
    • Etter J-F. Electronic cigarettes and cannabis: an exploratory study. Eur Addict Res. 2015;21(3):124-130. doi:10.1159/000369791.
    • Gieringer D, Laurent JS, Goodrich S. Cannabis Vaporizer Combines Efficient Delivery of THC with Effective Suppression of Pyrolytic Compounds. doi:10.1300/J175v04n01_02.
    • Hazekamp A, Ruhaak R, Zuurman L, van Gerven J, Verpoorte R. Evaluation of a vaporizing device (Volcano®) for the pulmonary administration of tetrahydrocannabinol. J Pharm Sci. 2006;95(6):1308-1317. doi:10.1002/jps.20574.
    • Hazekamp A, Grotenhermen F. Review on clinical studies with cannabis and cannabinoids 2005-2009. Cannabinoids. 2010;5(special):1-21.
    • Jensen RP, Luo W, Pankow JF, Strongin RM, Peyton DH. Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(4):392-394. doi:10.1056/NEJMc1413069.
    • Nitzkin JL, Farsalinos K, Siegel M. More on hidden formaldehyde in e-cigarette aerosols. N Engl J Med. 2015;372(16):1575. doi:10.1056/NEJMc1502242#SA1.
    • Pomahacova B, Van der Kooy F, Verpoorte R. Cannabis smoke condensate III: The cannabinoid content of vaporised Cannabis sativa. Inhalation Toxicology. 2009;00(00):090619130156077–5. doi:10.1080/08958370902748559.
    • Wallace MS, Marcotte TD, Umlauf A, Gouaux B, Atkinson JH. Efficacy of Inhaled Cannabis on Painful Diabetic Neuropathy. J Pain. 2015;0(0). doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2015.03.008.

    All Vape Pen Oils Are Not Created Equal

    AbsoluteXtracts vape cartridges
    By on December 05, 2014

    Published in full on

    A Quick and Easy User’s Guide to Pre-Filled Cartridges

    Vaporizer pens are all the rage these days. Sarah Silverman flashed one on the red carpet (“This is my liquid pot,” she quipped). Whoopi Goldberg wrote a gushy love letter to hers, affectionately nicknaming it “Sippy.” Snoop Dogg has his own proprietary model, which comes cloaked in a map of his old Long Beach ‘hood. The Oxford English Dictionary recently crowned “vape” its Word of the Year.

    It seems that everywhere you turn someone is sucking on a sleek, sexy, subversive little wand. People are vaping cannabis oil on the street, in restaurants, movie theaters, airplanes, even sporting events. You feel like you’re getting away with something sneaky when you vape in public. Being a stoner has never been so easy.

    A vape pen—or “personal vaporizer,” as they are sometimes called—is a classy, high tech gizmo that heats cannabis oil to a temperature just short of combustion, releasing a smokeless, lightly-scented mist free of toxic tars and carbon. There are many vape pen brands, but the key factor, really, is what’s inside the disposable cartridge. How potent is the cannabis oil? How pure? What, if anything, is the oil cut with? How expensive per milligram is the THC content? Is the oil strain-specific or a psychoactive blend?

    O’Shaughnessy’s looked at a total of 19 cannabis oil samples from 13 popular cartridge brands and did a side-by-side comparison based on analytical data from SC Labs in Santa Cruz. (Measured in milligrams per milliliter of concentrate, the data is posted on Regarding THC levels, Pure Cure and AbsoluteXtracts topped the chart at 71 percent and 70 percent, respectively. Neither is cut with an additive. AbsoluteXtracts features a line of strain-specific oils (OG Kush, Chem Dawg, Girl Scout Cookie, etc.), while Pure Cure is presumably a mixture of several unnamed cultivars as no strain designation is indicated. These two brands also rated highest in terms of bang for buck with AbsoluteXtracts priced at 10 cents per milligram of THC and Pure Cure at 11 cents/mg.

    Compare those numbers to O-Pen Vape Panama Sativa Red, for example, which contains only 26 percent THC at cost of 24 cents per milligram. Some vape pen cartridge oils rated even lower in terms of THC content, yet higher in price per milligram. The least potent sample, BD (Black Diamond) Vape Sour D, tested at 14 percent THC, while selling for 28 cents/mg of THC. Although they look golden and pretty, the weaker oils are typically diluted with propylene glycol, a relatively benign solvent that sometimes causes sore throat and dry mouth. Avoid vape pen cartridges that include ethylene glycol, an unhealthy compound used in antifreeze.

    So buyer beware: Many vape cartridge brands are available in the unregulated cannabis market and it’s not always obvious what you’re getting. Deciding between vape cartridges is somewhat like choosing between a vintage scotch and a flask of moonshine, though in this case purchasing one of best whiskeys of the cartridge world might actually leave you with a few more greenbacks in your pocket.

    Read full article

    FDA Grants “Orphan Drug” Status to GW’s Epidolex

    Epidolex GW Pharmaceutical
    By on March 03, 2014

    Published in full on

    GW Pharmaceuticals’ CBD plant extract Epidiolex has been granted “Orphan Drug” status by the Food and Drug Administration, setting the stage for Phase 2 clinical trials later this year. The Realm of Caring Foundation, a Colorado-based non-profit, is also making CBD-rich plant extracts available to the parents of pediatric epilepsy patients. And other entities have begun producing and distributing CBD medicaments. GW will not have a monopoly—but it will have the edge with physicians who would rather prescribe an FDA-approved medication than recommend an extract available at the local dispensary.

    Here’s GW’s press release, datelined London, Feb. 28, 2014:

    GW Pharmaceuticals Receives Orphan Drug Designation by FDA for Epidiolex® in the Treatment of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

    GW Pharmaceuticals plc (AIM:GWP) (Nasdaq:GWPH) (“GW”) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug designation for Epidiolex®, GW’s product candidate that contains plant-derived Cannabidiol (CBD) as its active ingredient, for use in treating children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), a rare and severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy. Epidiolex is an oral liquid formulation of a highly purified extract of CBD, a non-psychoactive molecule from the cannabis plant.

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    Cannabis Oil Extraction Methods

    CBD capsules
    By on February 23, 2014

    Published in full in Cannabinoids 2013.

    Cannabis oil: Chemical evaluation of an upcoming cannabis-based medicine

    Abstract: Concentrated cannabis extracts, also known as cannabis oils because of their sticky and viscous appearance, are becoming increasingly popular among self-medicating patients as a claimed cure for cancer. In general, preparation methods for cannabis oils are relatively simple and do not re-quire particular instruments. The most well-known example of such a product is called ‘Simpson oil’. The purpose of the extraction, often followed by a solvent evaporation step, is to make canna-binoids and other beneficial components such as terpenes available in a highly concentrated form. Although various preparation methods have been recommended for cannabis oils, so far no stud-ies have reported on the chemical composition of such products.

    Recognizing the need for more information on quality and safety issues regarding cannabis oils, an analytical study was performed to compare several generally used preparation methods on the basis of content of cannabinoids, terpenes, and residual solvent components. Solvents used include ethanol, naphtha, petroleum ether, and olive oil. The obtained results are not intended to support or deny the therapeutic properties of these products, but may be useful for better understanding the experiences of self-medicating patients through chemical analysis of this popular medicine.

    Read full abstract

    The Straight Dope

    Martin A. Lee Project CBD
    By on February 21, 2014

    Originally published in the Bohemian.

    Tired of the euphoria, anxiety and crash from being stoned? Nonpsychoactive cannabidiol supplies health benefits without the typical effects of THC.

    Medical marijuana has gotten a bad rap in Northern California, and perhaps for good reason. In Marin and Sonoma counties, the cannabis dispensaries that haven’t yet been shut down are often located near adult video “shoppes” and liquor stores, and are guarded by surly bouncers who buzz people in from behind bulletproof glass. Dispensary logos typically feature a red cross backlit by a neon pot leaf, with maybe the image of a wheelchair and the word “compassion” squeezed in somewhere; meanwhile, a “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” atmosphere pervades many a dispensary waiting area, filled as they are with a high number of male “patients” between the ages of 18 and 40 who are here to be treated for “back pain” and “insomnia,” their prescriptions written by doctors who advertise in the classifieds and on billboards. It’s not surprising that the boundary between recreational and medicinal cannabis can sometimes seem as hazy as the interior of a reggae dance hall.

    That smoky haze is about to clear. New research in medical marijuana is shocking scientists in the industry right out of their white lab coats, and its implications for treating medical conditions that range from cancer to schizophrenia are poised to take the federal government by storm.

    Read full article

    Alternet Interviews Project CBD

    Project CBD, Sanjay Gupta
    By on February 19, 2014

    Published in full on Alternet.

    The Potential Miracle Element in Cannabis That Changed Sanjay Gupta’s Mind About the Power of Pot

    As marijuana reforms sweep the nation, and states from coast to coast scramble to join Colorado and Washington in legalization of the notorious herb, it is clear the U.S. has reached a pivotal point in the marijuana dispute. Martin A. Lee’s new book Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana—Medical, Recreational and Scientific provides an unprecedented history of the controversial plant.

    Smoke Signals is an unmatched illustration of the science behind the cannabis plant. Perhaps the most stunning revelations in Lee’s book are those focused on the little-known “Cinderella molecule” in the cannabis plant, called cannabidiol (CBD). CBD gives marijuana some of most wide-ranging healing properties in medicinal history, but doesn’t get you stoned like THC.

    Lee is also the director of Project CBD. His wealth of knowledge on the underappreciated molecule is vital to understanding our past and future relationship with the marijuana plant. Lee spoke with AlterNet about the miraculous healing potentials of CBD.

    Read full interview

    A Review of Dixie Elixir’s CBD Products

    Dixie Elixir
    By on February 14, 2014

    Originally published on

    Denver-based Dixie X Elixirs and Edibles recently launched a new line of ingestible CBD products to complement its medicated foodstuffs, tinctures and creams infused with THC.

    Dixie X, founded in 2009 to serve the Colorado market, now operates under the umbrella of Medical Marijuana, Inc. (MJNA), a publicly traded start-up founded by Bruce Perlowin and based in San Diego. In the 1970s Perlowin was busted for shipping marijuana into the United States and spent seven years in prison. He is no longer officially associated with Medical Marijuana, Inc., but remains a key player in Hemp, Inc., another start-up company traded on the OTC stock exchange.

    In an October 2, 2012, press release, Medical Marijuana, Inc estimated the “CBD and wellness industry” to be “a $5 billion market.” Dixie Elixirs, MJNA’s de facto subsidiary, is the first business to mass market CBD as a “wellness product.”

    In the spring of 2012, Dixie X entered into a licensing agreement with Red Dice Holdings, another subsidiary of Medical Marijuana Inc. Dixie owner and managing director Tripp Keber is president and CEO of Red Dice Holdings and a board member of Medical Marijuana, Inc. “I make companies to sell companies. Make me an offer, and I’ll ride off into the sunlight with saddlebags of gold,” Keber told The Daily Beast.

    The arrangement between Dixie and Red Dice is structured so that Medical Marijuana, Inc. is able to utilize only the CBD aspect of the licensing agreement, while MJNA eschews responsibility for Dixie’s THC products.

    In September 2012 Michael Llamas, Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s president and CEO, was indicted by the federal government and charged with running a $17 million multistate mortgage fraud scam. Shortly thereafter a MJNA press release announced that Llamas was “taking a leave of absence effective immediately... [and] stepping down from his position in order to focus his attention on personal business matters.”

    Medical Marijuana, Inc. claims that it “does not grow, sell or distribute any substances that violate the United States Law or the controlled substances act.”

    Is CBD legal?

    The legal status of CBD is somewhat muddled. Cannabidiol is conspicuously absent from the DEA’s recently updated list of proscribed drugs. But “marijuana,” including CBD-rich varieties, continues to be listed as a controlled substance.

    CBD as a natural compound exists only in marijuana and in industrial hemp, which are both illegal to grow in the United States. Although industrial hemp contains more CBD than THC, the overall cannabinoid content of hemp plants is much lower than what’s found in CBD-rich marijuana strains. The kind of CBD-rich plants being grown for the medical market in the U.S. produce much more cannabidiol than fiber hemp plants.

    Medical Marijuana, Inc. says it circumvents the federal prohibition by extracting CBD from industrial hemp—not from marijuana—that is grown outside the United States in five different countries. MLNA won’t disclose which countries.

    The initial extraction is performed by another Medical Marijuana, Inc. subsidiary, Phytosphere, which provides raw hemp paste to Dixie X and its sister firms. Like other industrial hemp products legally imported into the United States, this hemp paste apparently contains a minuscule amount of THC; hence it’s legal to bring it into the United States, according to Dixie officials.

    Once they receive the crude hemp extract, Dixie personnel refine, purify and filter the paste, turning it into the CBD oil that eventually goes into three Dixie X products: Dixie X Dew Drops (a tincture), Dixie Scrips (granulated powder in a capsule), and a topical “pain relief salve.”

    Project CBD received samples of the Dixie Scrip capsules and the Dixie X tincture and submitted these for analysis to the Werc Shop in Los Angeles and Halent Laboratories in Davis, California. We did not test the salve.

    Both analytical labs confirmed that the Dixie Scrip capsules (priced at $11 per unit) contain approximately 20 to 25 milligrams of CBD and one milligram of THC. The amount of THC in the capsules measured less than the federal government’s .3 percent limit for THC permitted in industrial hemp. “In order to be able to ship these products across state lines we need to keep the THC to a trace amount so we can service people all over the United States,” explained Dixie X marketing specialist Christie Lunsford.

    The 20-something-to-one ratio of CBD-to-THC is similar to a CBD-dominant cannabis phenotype that’s available in California and other medical marijuana states. This CBD-dominant phenotype has been circulating under various strain names – Oracle, AC/DC, and Cannatonic, among others.

    According to Dixie’s website, “Dixie X Hemp Oil Scrips” capsules contain several ingredients in addition to CBD: turmeric powder, “conjugated linoleic acid,” and white willow bark (herbal aspirin).

    Test results from The Werc Shop indicated that the Dixie Scrip capsules were nearly devoid of terpenes, which were lost during processing. Creating CBD and THC from raw plant matter involves a process known as decarboxylation. When heated, raw CBD-Acid decarboxylates into neutral CBD and raw THC-Acid becomes neutral THC. But it takes twice as long (if not longer) to decarboxylate CBD than THC. And the decarboxylation process removes the volatile terpenes, which evaporate at much lower temperatures than are required to decarboxylate CBD and THC. Some cannabis extract-makers make a point of putting terpenes back into their decarboxylated products.

    When tested by The Werc Shop and Halent, the Dixie X Dew Drops, a syrupy, cinnamon-flavored, glycerin-based tincture, was found to contain a negligible amount of THC (below .3% by weight in accordance with federal law) and a small amount of CBD.

    The Werc Shop reported 1.51 milligrams per gram of CBD in a bottle containing 1 fluid ounce of tincture, which amounts to about 45 milligrams of CBD. Halent got slightly higher numbers: 2.1 mgs per gram of CBD, or about 62 milligrams of CBD in an ounce of the Dixie Dew Drops tincture. Halent also reported approximately 8 mgs of other cannabinoids (THC, CBG and CBC) in the tincture.

    Both labs found CBD concentrations at significantly lower levels than the “approximately 100 mgs CBD and other cannabinoids” promised on the label of the one-ounce Dixie X Dew Drops ampule, which retails for $40 a bottle.

    Halent also analyzed the contents of a two-ounce bottle of the Dixie X Dew Drops tincture, advertised as containing 500 mgs of CBD and other cannabinoids. Halent found 280 mgs of CBD plus 37 mgs of other cannabinoids in the two-ounce ampule, which sells for $160.

    Lacking significant THC and terpene content, Dixie’s diluted CBD tincture is weak medicine, but it may have some value. “For some people, taking one to two milligrams of CBD a day can have a positive effect,” explains Allan Frankel, MD, a Los Angeles-area physician who specializes in CBD treatment regimens. “A small dose like this might help with anxiety or seizures, but most patients need larger doses of CBD along with substantial
    amounts of THC.”

    Whereas Medical Marijuana Inc.’s press releases initially included sweeping claims about CBD’s therapeutic efficacy, the company has recently shifted its rhetorical gears as part of a rebranding makeover. Henceforth, Dixie’s CBD products will be marketed strictly as “hemp oil” dietary supplements and cosmetics rather than as curatives in order to comply with FDA rules. “We had a little bit of a misstep in our initial launch because of our backgrounds in medicinal cannabis,” Lunsford acknowledged. “We didn’t understand what claims were appropriate.”

    Toning down the medicinal claims for Dixie’s CBD products seems appropriate given that their therapeutic value is limited by the paucity of biologically active terpenes and THC, which may result in disillusioned consumers who were hoping for more pronounced results. Others may benefit to some degree from these so-called food supplements. And for many people, the Dixie X CBD products might be the only way they can access  cannabidiol, especially if Medical Marijuana, Inc. is able to market its products nationwide.

    Whether Dixie’s CBD products are ultimately successful in the marketplace may come down to a matter of cost-effectiveness: Do they contain enough CBD on a dose-per-dollar basis to justify Dixie’s asking price when more concentrated CBD extracts, infused with a synergistic bouquet cannabinoids and terpenoids, are becoming available in states where medical marijuana is legal?

    As we go to press, we find this message from Dixie Botanicals on its website: “We have revised our labels for our small containers, and these small labels do not have enough room for the Supplemental Facts box.” Thus there is no indication of how much CBD is in these small containers, but consumers can allegedly learn “the precise amount of CBDs per serving” by visiting Dixie’s website.

    Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.