Tag: Health

Government Will Provide Patients With CBD Products for Treatment in Mexico

This article is sponsored by CMW Media, the premier public and media relations agency proudly serving the cannabis industry worldwide.  


Medical Marijuana, Inc., the first publicly traded cannabis company in the United States, will provide the government of the State of Mexico with medical-grade CBD hemp oil products from its subsidiary HempMeds Mexico®, which will be used in the treatment of patients suffering from a variety of conditions including refractory epilepsy and Lennox Gastaut-Syndrome.

The deal marks the first time a government in Mexico has purchased CBD products for its citizens, and follows a series of steps in Mexico’s courts and legislature that have made CBD products more accessible to patients. These include the approval of CBD products from HempMeds Mexico by the Mexican health ministry COFEPRIS.

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Mexico is just the latest nation in Latin America to make it easier for patients to integrate CBD products into their healthcare regimens. Since 2015, similar steps have been taken by the governments of Brazil and Paraguay. 

The State of Mexico’s Governor Eruviel Avila Villegas distributed HempMeds Mexico’s flagship product Real Scientific Hemp Oil-X™ (RSHO-X™), a CBD hemp oil containing zero THC, to patients during the opening of a new clinic in the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec. Avila was joined at the event by Mexican cannabis activist Raul Elizalde and César Nomar Gómez Monge, Health Minister of the State of Mexico.

The State of Mexico’s Health Minister, César Nomar Gómez Monge, speaks on the potential treatment value of CBD for epilepsy patients. (Moises Ramirez)

“We want to congratulate the State of Mexico’s government for this historic purchase of our CBD products to help relieve the suffering of its citizens,” said Medical Marijuana, Inc. president and CEO Dr. Stuart Titus.  

“We are a company of firsts, and this is another first. We are excited to achieve the historic milestone of having the Mexican government purchase our CBD products to benefit its citizens. The plethora of benefits of medical cannabis in treating several types of indications is undeniable, and we are encouraged to see not only healthcare professionals, [but] now also governments, become increasingly interested in how CBD hemp oil can help heal.”

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Epilepsy is among the many indications that can benefit from medical marijuana products. A new study led by Dr. Saul Garza Morales, a pediatric researcher and neurologist in Mexico, helps expand on that body of work.

Recently, Dr. Garza Morales shared the positive results of a recent study he conducted on the effects of Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s RSHO-X™ product in treating children with severe epilepsy. Dr. Garza and his collaborators found that 86% of the 38 patients included in the study saw the frequency of their motor seizures cut in half. Five subjects were even totally seizure-free for four full months, a result that is usually only achieved following major surgeries.

“With the advent of RSHO-X therapy, doctors have a new approach—using natural CBD in its natural, botanical form,” said Dr. Garza. “This has shown to control seizure episodes in epilepsy children to a significant degree, meaning invasive surgeries are now a resort of last measure.” 


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

At This LA Rehab Center, Cannabis Is an ‘Exit’ Drug

The experience of detoxing from a drug like heroin mirrors chemotherapy in a lot of ways, Schrank explained. Among other symptoms, both cause bone pain, insomnia, and nausea. Cannabis has been effective in dramatically alleviating those symptoms, Schrank said. With the pain and discomfort of withdrawal being one of the largest deterrents to recovery, cannabis could help entice more patients to start down—and stay on—the road to recovery.

Cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance, which makes it extremely difficult for researchers to get approval to use it in a clinical study. But the emerging patterns are promising: According to a report released in January by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, cannabis has been demonstrated to help treat chronic pain, and certain oral cannabinoids have been effective in preventing and treating adults with “chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.” And the National Institutes of Health recently awarded a five-year, $3.8 million grant to researchers for the first long-term investigation to see if medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic pain.

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There’s less hard science around marijuana’s effects on addiction. The National Academy report “found no evidence to support or refute the conclusion that cannabinoids are an effective treatment for achieving abstinence in the use of addictive substances,” Dr. Marie McCormick, chairwoman of the report committee, told the New York Times.

Nevertheless, a large body of observational research has emerged around cannabis, said Leo Beletsky, a drug policy expert and professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University. That means scientists have observed real-world data and then formed hypotheses as a result, he explained. “Most of the research that we have on the impact of cannabis in the pain and chronic pain world is from these kinds of observational research.”

This is what High Sobriety’s formula is based on.

Vince Sercia, middle, and Leland Kulok, right, help their surf instructor Dano bring surfboards out to the beach before a surf lesson in Santa Monica on Friday, July 28, 2017. High Sobriety includes an exercise component, and Dano gives surf lessons specifically to people in treatment. His sessions also include a meditation component. (Justin L. Stewart for Leafly)

What the findings have shown, Beletsky said, is that cannabis, like opioids, behaves as a “broad spectrum drug” and that both not only have a “euphoric effect” but have been successful in relieving pain, emotional distress, and depression. To the extent cannabis can address the same needs as other, more dangerous drugs a patient may be using, he said, it could function as a less-risky replacement, he said. “You’re going to be drastically reducing people’s risk of addiction and overdose.”

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Amanda Reiman, a former manager of marijuana law and policy at the Drug Policy Alliance who acts as an unpaid advisor to High Sobriety, said the program has the chance to reinforce existing evidence of cannabis for treatment.

People have been using cannabis as an “under the radar” harm reduction tool for years, and as a replacement drug for opioids for even longer, she said. “This is not something new. I think that High Sobriety is an opportunity to formalize it.”

As far back as the late 1800s, hemp was denoted as a cure for opium sickness, she said. And in recent years, the role of cannabis has become so prevalent some that marijuana dispensaries have begun hosting AA meetings, she said, so people using cannabis in their recovery can convene outside the abstinence-only confines of a 12-step program.

Research on the function of cannabis as a painkiller also continues to evolve. A 2011 study out of the University of California, San Francisco, concluded that patients with chronic pain may see more relief when doctors add cannabinoids to an opiates-only treatment. This combined therapy may also allow for lower opiate dosages, according to the same study. In 2014, a report from JAMA Internal Medicine found that states with legal medical marijuana saw a 25% reduction in opioid-overdose deaths.

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“Cannabis really fits into this arsenal of what can we give someone when they don’t want to go back to opioids, but they aren’t able to function the way they want in complete sobriety,” Reiman said.

Amid the nation’s overdose epidemic, US spending on addiction treatment will surpass $42 billion by 2020, according estimates from the National Institutes for Health. And like most recovery facilities, High Sobriety isn’t cheap. One of the biggest hurdles for the organization, Schrank said, is that unable to accept insurance, so treatment is open only to patients wealthy enough to afford it.

An alcoholic man with a propensity for scotch has replaced his booze with pre-rolled joints. A woman with a dependence on Valium and wine now uses edibles for anxiety.

The first month at the center costs $42,500, which includes housing, food, doctor and therapist visits, clinical services, and recreational activities. When clients first enter the facility and enter the detox period, they are monitored 24/7 and are under constant supervision of a doctor, Schrank said. Afterward, patients transition to a schedule that typically includes three to five individual therapy sessions per week, community meetings, doctors appointments, and an exercise component. Clients receive medical and dental treatment if needed, said Schrank, and often receive trauma therapy, legal or marital counseling, or other services. Most guests end up staying longer than a month, and costs decrease as they need less individual care, Schrank said.

How does that price tag compare? Inpatient rehab facilities vary significantly in cost depending on location and luxury level. Some estimates range from $10,000 to $20,000 per month on the low end to up to more than $100,000 at luxury facilities. At Promises—the rehab clinic to the stars, in Malibu—a 31-day program costs around $60,000 to $90,000, depending on requests.

High Sobriety currently hosts five residential clients and has about 10 former residents who still frequent the center for meetings and regular check-ins, Schrank said. In an attempt to avoid making patients feel imprisoned at the facility, there are gates but no imposing fences, patients are allowed to keep their phones, and they’re even permitted to leave the facility and venture into neighboring Culver City (although they are randomly breathalyzed and subjected to urine testing).

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“It keeps me responsible and accountable but I still have the freedom of being a human,” says Mac Kirk, the musician who counts High Sobriety as his most treatment facility of dozens. “I want to be able to make this an investment and make it my last fucking treatment center.”

Vince Sercia, Leland Kulok, and their surf instructor on their way to meditate and surf in Santa Monica. Patients at High Sobriety attend surfing lessons and also do cycling workouts to focus on physical health. (Justin L. Stewart for Leafly)

For many of High Sobriety’s success stories, cannabis remains an integral part of their life well past treatment. Schrank cites one in particular—an alcoholic with a propensity for scotch—who has replaced his booze with pre-rolled joints. Another woman, who entered the program with a dependence on Valium and wine, now uses edibles for anxiety and a cannabis spray under the tongue for sleep.

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There have been some relapses, he acknowledges, which isn’t unusual in the addiction community. Other patients are conflicted about whether to continue cannabis use in the long run.

Leland Kulok, 26, has been at High Sobriety for just over two weeks, part of his effort to end nearly eight years of heavy opioid use. He had already cycled through a handful of rehab programs when his parents discovered Schrank online. At the time Kulok was living in New York, he recalls, smoking heroin nearly every day and never leaving his apartment.

Now in treatment at High Sobriety, Kulok said that while cannabis helped his initial transition in recovery, it actually makes him paranoid. He’d eventually like to stop using it completely.

“A lot of 12-steppers and a lot of the recovery community sees marijuana as a gateway drug or as something that should be avoided,” he says, “but I think it can also be helpful to people who’ve been using for a long time and are sort of on the path to full abstinence.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

The VA Can’t Provide Cannabis to Veterans With PTSD, so This Group Gives It Out for Free

Once a month, staff members at the Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance (SCVA) fill more than 100 brown paper bags with high-quality medical cannabis and pass them out for free at a local community center. For the military veterans who receive it—many of whom struggle with PSTD—the medical cannabis acts as a lifeline to health.

The SCVA, which operates out of an old office in a Santa Cruz neighborhood, has been serving local men and women since 2011, when the organization was founded by military veterans Aaron Newsom and Jason Sweatt.

After six years of service, though, SCVA’s mission now faces challenges due to an ironic new development: the legalization of cannabis in California. New regulations due to take effect in early 2018 don’t allow the SCVA to continue operating as they do today.

“We’ve tried to create this environment of peace through cultivation and cannabis with a purpose.”

Aaron Newsom, SCVA Co-Founder

“With the new law, if we’re not at the end of the chain of custody, we are not allowed to give away anything for free,” Newsom told me during a recent interview in his office in Santa Cruz. “We have to get a storefront where we can retail our product and determine whether we sell it for $50 or $1.00–or provide it in a volunteer-return basis.”

Newsom, 35, is clean-cut and bright-eyed. He served in the marine corps before co-founding the SCVA. Sweatt, 41, is a 10-year Army vet and director of the SCVA. He offered a quieter hello behind black-framed glasses.

As we spoke earlier this summer, workers were busy carrying out construction projects needed to turn the space into a retail cannabis store. California’s Prop 64, which will soon regulate what was once a loose, laissez faire medical cannabis market, requires that the SCVA obtain state licensing and operate a storefront in order to continue carrying out its mission.

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That mission includes growing their own medicine.

In the SCVA’s garden, hundreds of cannabis plants are cultivated by a staff of volunteers and a few paid staff.

Rows upon rows of cannabis plants vegetated in silent darkness, lit only by a dim green light. Fans hummed quietly, creating a pleasant breeze in the branches. The grow rooms feel peaceful, surrounding curious visitors among the slow growth of life.

“We’ve tried to create this environment of peace through cultivation and cannabis with a purpose,” Newsom said. “It’s horticultural therapy.”

Buds of Kosher Kush.

Another room was brightly lit and populated with flowering plants that filled the room with their sweet, fragrant aromas. Kosher Kush, White Fire OG, and a Tangie hybrid were among the stock that sat glittering with trichomes. Though Jason and Aaron started the garden years ago as a twosome, a few other veterans now help tend the plants.

“A lot of these guys were over there [in war] kicking in doors and taking lives,” Newsom explained. “They’re able to come back to slow growth and cultivating life, and then [they’re able] to bring back life in [other] patients.”

When we returned to the office, SCVA staff members had begun packing freshly cured cannabis into brown bags for their veteran brothers and sisters. Music danced in the air, dogs flopped on the floor, and between busy hands, cannabis was shared. Aaron excitedly and emphatically rallied everyone between puffs, and in that moment where it seemed everyone was smiling in unison, it was hard to imagine what each of them had been through.

● ● ●

Veterans gather for the monthly SCVA meeting, where medical cannabis is distributed.

For many of those who live with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there is no cure–only temporary relief. It’s a condition that lives in the basement of your mind. Now and then, a trigger kicks in the door leading down to the dark, ushering in fear and anxiety. The dormant trauma, living and breathing below the surface, snaps awake by flashbacks, nightmares, or subtle reminders in daily life. Like a scab on the psyche, it gets torn open again and again.

Therapy and mood-stabilizing drugs have helped many patients strip the “disorder” aspect of their PTSD so that it’s possible to live without the constant looming shadow of memory. But for others, conventional treatments don’t work.

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Some patients with this type of chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD have found that cannabis helps bridle PTSD symptoms. It calms an overactive mind, slowing it down to a sustainable pace where peace can be found. Cannabis can also reduce a patient’s reliance on heavier pharmaceuticals, medications with side effects that can devastate a person’s quality of life.

● ● ●

Members of the SCVA tuning in to announcements before cannabis is given out.

Later that day, an SCVA staff member showed me some footage he’d taken during his own combat tour.

On a laptop screen, I watched as a shaky camera moved through a dusty stone corridor. It followed a group of soldiers, guns in hand. The sound of footfalls and muffled movement carried on for just seconds before a blast overwhelmed the senses, blackening sight and deafening ears. When the dust cleared, a soldier was on the ground, surrounded by shouts. A medic leaned over the wounded soldier, repeating words of reassurance.

The soldier who’d captured the footage of the detonated IED (improvised explosive device) was standing behind me, alongside other SCVA staff members. They stood watching with fixed eyes and folded arms, eyebrows folded slightly inward.

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Knowing that PTSD manifests differently for everyone, I asked Newsom, Sweatt, and other members of the SCVA what the condition looked like for them.

For Sweatt, the many convoys he did in Iraq left him unable to drive for two years. “I experienced a lot of heightened alert, my head was on a swivel,” he admitted. “When I drove, I was really hypervigilant, looking around, constantly checking my surroundings.”

Sweatt had difficulty reintegrating into civilian life. He moved to California and lived in a van for six months. The re-entry difficulty and social isolation seemed to be common among many of the veterans I spoke to.

“I saw patients whose lives were destroyed by the ravages of drugs and alcohol, but never anyone who was sick from cannabis.”

Dr. Jordan Tishler, Former VA physician

“We’ve got homeless veterans, and many who [struggle to gain] employment and education,” Newsom said. “Returning to civilian life, everyone is out on their own.”

Due to the Schedule I status of cannabis, VA doctors are legally unable to recommend it to veterans. Instead, they are left to prescribe a cocktail of antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, opioids, and sleeping medications.

“The VA tends to group us into two categories,” Newsom explained. “You’re either the PTSD depressed category and you get these three sets of pills, or you’re the angry type and you get these three sets of pills. It’s like a conveyer belt.”

These pharmaceuticals can sometimes create more problems than they correct. Most of the veterans I spoke to noted that cannabis helped them reduce their reliance on opioids, benzos, and other prescription pharmaceuticals. But there’s a catch. The pharmaceutical costs are covered by the VA. Cannabis is not.

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And yet it seems to work. I heard a lot of comments like these from veterans working with SCVA:

  • “Cannabis helps me stay in the present.”
  • “It helps tone down the hypervigilance.”
  • “It helps me sleep.”
  • “It helps me stay calm.”

Lucy, a soft-spoken marine veteran and SCVA member, sat and talked with me for a while. “A lot of therapists who don’t understand veterans, they’re quick to prescribe the same pills I was trying to get away from,” she lamented. With cannabis, however, Lucy found relief.

“I thought it might mellow me out,” she smiled. “It worked.”

● ● ●

Clones growing in SCVA’s cannabis garden.

To find out why cannabis could be helpful to a mind plagued by trauma, I contacted Dr. Jordan Tishler in Boston.

A Harvard medical graduate who worked for 15 years as a VA physician, Tishler went on to establish a private practice, Inhale MD Medical Care, so he could advise patients on medical cannabis.

“Time and time again I saw patients whose lives were destroyed by the ravages of drugs and alcohol,” he told me in a recent phone interview. “It occurred to me that I had seen all these harmed individuals, but never anyone who was sick from cannabis.”

Tishler saw firsthand the therapeutic potential of cannabis for the treatment of both pain and PTSD, so he dove into the research to learn more. He came up with a theory about how cannabis helps calm the mind of a PTSD patient.

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“THC and CBD tend to work as a retrograde postsynaptic shut-off valve,” he said. “Their job is to decrease the level of stimulation in systems that tend to be excitatory. These are important systems in our brain that can get revved up and overly triggered [by PTSD or anxiety]. Cannabis tends to dampen those systems.”

Another theory, first posited by neurologist Ethan Russo, proposes that conditions like PTSD can result in a deficiency of endogenous molecules (called “endocannabinoids”) that serve to balance the signals Tisher described. The molecules in cannabis, like THC and CBD, function like these endocannabinoids and can help to restore that balance of signals. And that, in theory, is why PTSD and anxiety patients feel calmer under the effects of cannabis.

For his PTSD patients, Tishler generally recommends a small dose of cannabis at night just before going to bed, noting, “The anti-anxiety effect will last that next day even though the intoxication has worn off.”

For people with PTSD, sleepless nights often open the door to other symptoms and setbacks. Addressing insomnia and nightmares is a common first step. But it’s important, Tishler cautioned, to consider starting at a low dose.

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“Cannabis is a complex actor,” he acknowledged. “It can be very good for anxiety at low dose and very bad for anxiety at high dose.”

Most doctors aren’t as well-equipped as Tishler to explain the benefits and risks of medical cannabis. Some haven’t educated themselves on cannabis. Others are gagged by ties to the federal government.

As a result, many patients are using medical cannabis with no professional guidance whatsoever. Others have no safe access to it, period. The continued absence of compassionate cannabis laws across the nation is astounding to doctors and patients who have experienced an improved quality of life firsthand.

● ● ●

SCVA members line up to receive their monthly cannabis donation.

Back in Santa Cruz, upwards of 100 military veterans poured into a local community hall for the monthly SCVA meeting. Old metal folding chairs screeched against the wood floors as veterans took their seats and caught up with old friends.

At the front of the room, the SCVA staff prepared to pass out brown paper bags full of cannabis grown by their small team. A staff member tossed out silicone accessories for cannabis concentrates, cracking jokes amid booming laughter.

After a few short announcements, the veterans signed in, as if at a dispensary, and accepted the brown bags with smiles and handshakes. Many stuck around long after the meeting ended to catch up with other members. The sense of connection between them contrasted sharply with the isolation and social withdrawal many of them experienced after returning from service.

“We’re not therapists, and we’re not doctors,” Aaron Newsom demurred. “We just understand each other. That in itself is a healing tool.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cleansing With Cannabis: 4 Ways to Treat Tension With THC

We’ve all heard of cannabis cleanses that aim to flush THC from the body by using a variety of herbs and vitamins. But what if it’s possible to use cannabis as a key ingredient in overall wellbeing? From lessening your stress to loosening body tension, cannabis can be a welcome addition to a plethora of health regiments and self-care routines.

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Nurture your body and mind by cleansing yourself of everyday pressures with a little help from THC. The result will be a happier, relaxed version of yourself—and you deserve to feel your best.

Mindful Meditation

Cannabis is a wonderful aid to meditation as it has a natural way of calming the mind. Even the act of smoking mimics the practice of breathing meditation: deep breaths in, and long, slow exhales out. Think of it as a refreshing soak for the brain.

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Begin your cleanse by incorporating meditation into your evening routine. Smoke or vape a relaxing strain such as a calming indica (we love Lavender), sit in a quiet place, and indulge in 20 minutes of meditation. After a few days, you will find heaviness and anxiety lifting from your mind, leaving clarity in its wake.

Cannabis-Infused Bath

There are several cannabis bath products that offer an infused, relaxing soak made to soothe tension, ease the body and mind, and leave you ready for a deep night’s sleep.

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Grab a CBD or THC-infused cannabis bath bomb paired with a cannabis Epsom salt soak, then add both to hot water before sinking into your mixture of oils, salts, and cannabinoids.

This combination will not get you high, but it will grant you a truly nourishing and deeply calming experience to prompt full relaxation. You’ll wake up feeling calm and cleansed of any daily tension you’ve been holding in.

Juicing With Cannabis

If you like to start your day with a glass full of healthy juice packed with fruits and vegetables, adding cannabis to your blend can be an extra way to incorporate medicinal benefits into your morning routine.

Go for a healthy green smoothie recipe and avoid smoothies heavy in fruit as these tend to be high in sugar with little fiber. Opt for vegetables and consider pairing them with a single fruit or beets for sweetness.

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When adding your cannabis, you can use the plant’s buds or fan leaves depending on how strong you’d like the blend to be. Mix in raw cannabis for its myriad health benefits and give it a try before adjusting to taste and dosing preferences.

For a delicious combination, try apple, parsley, celery, spinach, lemon, and cannabis fan leaves.

Cannabis-Infused Massage

Massages are a fantastic way to cleanse tension from our bodies and stress from our minds. After all, touch is exceedingly important to our emotional and mental wellbeing, and even plays a significant role in our cognitive development as infants.

Such effects are only enhanced by the addition of cannabis-infused massage oil or lotion. Although it will not get you stoned, infused lotions can calm inflammation, penetrate tough muscles, and soothe the senses.

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If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with massage studios offering cannabis-enhanced massages, such as Denver, Colorado, all it will take is booking an appointment on your next day off. Otherwise, pick up a nice lotion or oil during your weekly dispensary visit, or make your own.

Whether using them with a loved one or treating yourself to some TLC, anyone with access to these products can enjoy a nice cleansing cannabis massage.

Have your own infused relaxation methods? Tell us about them in the comments.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Feds to Study Medical Marijuana’s Effect on Opioid Use

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded a five-year, $3.8 million grant to researchers for the first long-term investigation to see if medical marijuana reduces opioid use among adults with chronic pain.

The study will use real medical cannabis from New York dispensaries, not low-quality NIDA product.

The federal grant, given to scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, could provide peer-reviewed evidence of the widespread but anecdotal phenomenon of chronic pain patients stepping down from opioid use to a safer reliance on medical cannabis to manage and alleviate their pain. Notably, the study will use real medical cannabis from licensed dispensaries in New York State, not the lower-quality “research grade” cannabis grown by federal contractors in Mississippi.

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“There is a lack of information about the impact of medical marijuana on opioid use in those with chronic pain,” Chinazo Cunningham, associate chief of general internal medicine at Einstein and Montefiore and principal investigator on the grant, said in a media release. “We hope this study will fill in the gaps and provide doctors and patients with some much needed guidance.”

The study will have a special focus on chronic pain patients with HIV. Cunningham plans to enroll 250 HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults with chronic pain who use opioids and who have received certification from their physicians to use medical marijuana, which is provided through approved dispensaries in New York State.

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Over 18 months, the study subjects will complete web-based questionnaires every two weeks, which will focus on pain levels and the medical and illicit use of marijuana and opioids. They’ll also provide urine and blood samples at in-person research visits every three months. In addition, in-depth interviews with a select group of these participants will explore their perceptions of how medical marijuana use affects the use of opioids.

Compared to the general population, chronic pain and opioid use is even more common in people with HIV. Between 25 and 90 percent of adults with HIV suffer from chronic pain. Previous studies have reported that despite the high risk for misuse of opioid pain relievers, adults with HIV are likely to receive opioids to help manage their pain. In recent years, medical marijuana has gained recognition as a treatment option. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized its use; in those states, chronic pain and/or HIV/AIDS are qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use.

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Researchers have never studied—in any population—if the use of medical marijuana over time reduces the use of opioids. Additionally, there are no studies on how the specific chemical compounds of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), affect health outcomes, like pain, function, and quality of life. Most studies that have reported negative effects of long-term marijuana use have focused on illicit, rather than medical, marijuana.

“As state and federal governments grapple with the complex issues surrounding opioids and medical marijuana, we hope to provide evidence-based recommendations that will help shape responsible and effective healthcare practices and public policies,” Cunningham said.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cannabis Shows Great Promise in Treating Cancer—Let’s Not Wreck It With Hyperbole

There’s no topic like cancer to inspire cacophonous claims of a cure, pegged to everything from the rinds of fruits nobody has ever eaten to powders drawn from Micronesian beaches no one has ever visited. As such, claims of miracle cures for cancer typically cause the medical establishment to roll their eyes and avert their attention.

This is why it’s so important to eschew such cure-related hyperbole when discussing the cancer-treating components of cannabis, which could all too easily be lumped into the same National Enquirer “wonder cure” category.

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Such talk is especially counterproductive given that there is little doubt that cannabis plays a very important role as a treatment option for cancer—a fact even government agencies are ready to acknowledge, issuing statements on cannabis and cancer that are profoundly encouraging.

The National Cancer Institute has said that “Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.” (Presumably it does something similar outside of the laboratory, but taking cannabis from lab to bedside is an exercise in Schedule-I bureaucratic frustration.) In addition, the NCI states that “[c]annabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their non-transformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death.”

Anecdotes of success in treating cancer with cannabis can’t be ignored—they’re what’s driven the medicalization of cannabis for a long time.

This is because cannabis is what’s known as “pro-apoptotic.” Apoptosis means that a cell commits suicide. Cannabis encourages this in some cancer cells while protecting non-cancer cells from the same fate. As any oncologist will tell you, killing cancer cells while not affecting normal tissue is one of the Holy Grails of treatment. Cannabis can also prevent cancer cells from further dividing, spreading, and growing.

Even the National Institute of Drug Abuse—an organization historically devoted to vilifying cannabis—has gotten on board, stating that “marijuana extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others.” Not even they can ignore the science.

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Anecdotes of success in treating cancer with cannabis can’t be ignored—they’re what’s driven the medicalization of cannabis for a long time. But anecdotes aren’t enough to support touting cannabis as a miracle cure. As always with cannabis and its 144 cannabinoids, the range of effects and variations is vast. Medical cannabis is still the wild west. One size simply does not fit all. There are just too many permutations.

So let it be said, loudly and often: Cannabis is not a cure for cancer. It is not a panacea that has been evilly suppressed by greedy pharmaceutical corporations.

Exaggerations such as these do nothing but sabotage the potential of cannabis. T-shirts emblazoned with “Cannabis Cures Cancer” and assorted leafy greens simply give the appearance of Rastafarian snake oil.

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Let’s not further embolden biased clueless conservatives, who look for reasons to further vilify cannabis and stigmatize cannabis users. Now is the time for common sense and reason rather than common screech and rhetoric. Overcoming stigma means reversing ideas that are all too often loosely formed yet firmly held.

Progress in cannabinoid science is truly exciting and packed with great promise If we are to advance, the focus needs to be on objective science and studies. Let’s keep it that way.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Fentanyl-Laced Cannabis: Forever Feared, Not Yet Found

Fentanyl is the synthetic opioid that delivers a high 100 times more powerful than morphine. “A few hundred micrograms–the weight of a single grain of salt–are enough to trigger heroin-like bliss,” writes the Globe and Mail. “But the line between euphoria and fatal overdose is frighteningly thin: An amount the size of two grains of salt can kill a healthy adult.”

This exceptionally dangerous drug has taken a serious toll on Canada, where fentanyl addiction is a national crisis and fentanyl overdoses claim hundreds of lives per year. “In British Columbia and Alberta, the two hardest-hit provinces, fatal overdoses linked to fentanyl soared from 42 in 2012 to 418 in 2015,” reports the Globe.

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What’s more, fentanyl has historically been added to other hard drugs—typically heroin —in order to boost their potency. That has led a fair number of heroin users to suffer surprise and sometimes fatal overdoses from fentanyl they didn’t know they were ingesting.

All these facts came into play last week, when police in London, Ontario, announced the discovery of fentanyl in the urine of cannabis consumers. “The tests were done in July at the Addiction Services Thames Valley Suboxone Clinic [and] detected fentanyl in people who reported only smoking marijuana,” reports the CBC.

There is zero documented evidence that ever in this country cannabis has been found laced with fentanyl. It’s very important that we make sure that that message is clear.

Jane Philpott, Federal Health Minister

As a result, London police urged all cannabis users to carry naloxone kits, so they’re ready to combat potentially fatal overdoses on fentanyl-laced weed.

This isn’t the first time Canadian authorities have sounded the alarm over fears of fentanyl-laced cannabis. “The RCMP issued a warning last fall, saying they believed marijuana contaminated with fentanyl was being sold in Masset, B.C.,” reports the London Free Press. “But the warning was based solely on concerns from community members and no fentanyl-laced pot had been seized…. both the RCMP and Canada’s health minister have said the rumours haven’t been proven.”

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Similar dubiousness surrounds the more recent warning, which is based entirely on traces of fentanyl being found in the urine of people who claim to have ingested only marijuana. If we lived in a world where no one ever fibbed about their drug use, such claims might be valid. For now, they’re just more anecdotal evidence of something that’s not yet proven to exist.

So let us return to the still-valid words of Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, who shot down conservative hype about fentanyl-lace cannabis earlier this year: “We have confirmed this with chiefs of police [and] law enforcement officials across this country—there is zero documented evidence that ever in this country cannabis has been found laced with fentanyl. It’s very important that we make sure that that message is clear.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome: How to Ease the Symptoms

When Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant stopped his regular cannabis consumption in order to pass the NFL’s drug test, he encountered an unexpected challenge. Insomnia kept him up at night. “I would get frustrated,” Bryant told Sports Illustrated. “I’d yell, ‘Why can’t I sleep!?’”

Symptoms typically start within the first two days of cessation, and stop within four weeks of abstinence.

The answer may have been cannabis withdrawal syndrome, or CWS.

For regular, long-term cannabis consumers who want to take a tolerance break or need to abstain completely, cannabis withdrawal syndrome can be a mild but very real challenge. It’s nowhere near the severity of withdrawal induced by tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs, but it may be irritating and mildly discomforting for a few days. In fact, it may most resemble the withdrawal a daily coffee drinker might feel upon going cold turkey.

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“For many people who smoke marijuana, withdrawal is a non-issue,” says Roger Roffman, a University of Washington researcher who studied cannabis use for more than 25 years. People who consume cannabis occasionally, or use a higher amount for a short period of time, generally don’t experience any withdrawal symptoms. “But the person who smokes a lot of dope for quite a long period of time is likely to have an experience of withdrawal,” Roffman says.

Insomnia is often an indicator of CWS, but symptoms aren’t limited to sleeplessness.

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According to German researchers who recently published an overview of the current CWS knowledge in Substance Abuse Rehabilitation, discontinuation of regular consumption can lead to one or a number of these symptoms:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Dysphoria, a feeling of general unease or dissatisfaction
  • Craving for resumed cannabis use
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

Any combination of those symptoms occur in 35% to 75% of patients who quit cannabis after longtime regular use. (It’s a wide percentage range because different percentages were found in several separate studies.)

How Severe?

Symptoms of cannabis withdrawal “are much less severe than those associated with withdrawal from chronic opioid or depressant use,” researchers with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) wrote in a 2015 study, “but aversive enough to encourage continued cannabis use and interfere with cessation attempts in some individuals.”

In that NIDA study, scientists noted that the effects induced by simply discontinuing exposure “are not severe and can be hard to detect, probably due to the slow elimination of lipophilic compounds like THC from the brain.”

The symptoms and mild severity of CWS resemble the experience of patients going through caffeine withdrawal.

Because the federal government—specifically, agencies like NIDA itself—has made it so difficult to conduct cannabis research, the NIDA scientists used studies of non-human animals to describe the typical symptoms. So we know what CWS in rats looks like: “symptoms include scratching, face rubbing, licking, wet-dog shakes, arched back and ptosis.” Ptosis is the medical term for droopy eyelids.

If you’re stopping cannabis use after regular intake, face licking and wet-dog shakes are not likely to figure among the symptoms you will experience. The severity of CWS among humans “is dependent on the amount of cannabis used pre-cessation, gender, and heritable and several environmental factors,” the German researchers noted. Women, they wrote, tended to report stronger symptoms of CWS, and their experience included more physical discomfort, nausea, and stomach pain.

These mood and behavioral symptoms are usually “of light to moderate intensity,” the researchers wrote.

Symptoms typically start within the first two days of cessation, and stop within four weeks of abstinence.

The symptoms and mild severity of CWS resemble the experience of patients going through caffeine withdrawal, a condition described in the DSM-5 as including headache, fatigue, drowsiness, dysphoric mood, irritability, depression, nausea, muscle aches and impairment of cognitive or behavioral performance.

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What Causes CWS?

Prolonged exposure to cannabinoids causes complex adaptations in the brain’s neuronal circuits and their components. Some researchers believe that regular cannabis intake can desensitize and downregulate human brain cannabinoid (CB1) receptors.

It’s a physiological process. The brain is adapting to the absence of cannabinoids.

“If you administer a lot of THC, and you do it at a heavy rate over a pretty intense period of time, you’re going to change the functioning of the brain,” says Roffman. The German study published in Substance Abuse Rehabilitation, Roffman said, confirms what a number of previous researchers have found. “After a couple days of cessation, cannabis withdrawal syndrome starts. It will likely be largely over within two weeks to a month.”

The time span and severity of symptoms will differ from person to person, Roffman adds.

“Ultimately, it’s not a psychological process,” he says. “It’s a physiological change in the brain as the body becomes adapted to marijuana no longer being there.”

What Works? What Doesn’t?

Certain antidepressants may be given to lessen the symptoms of CWS. Mirtazapine (an antidepressant also known as Remeron) can be prescribed to counteract the insomnia that’s sometimes associated with CWS. But other antidepressants, including Venlafaxine (the antidepressant known as Effexor) were found to worsen the CWS, the researchers wrote.

One thing that might work: an alternate form of cannabinoids. In a study published last year in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependency, Canadian researchers tested the use of Sativex, GW Pharma’s 1:1 THC:CBD pharmaceutical, on patients experiencing symptoms of CWS.

Not surprisingly, “high fixed doses of Sativex were well tolerated and significantly reduced cannabis withdrawal during abstinence,” the researchers found.

Sativex is, after all, composed of the same cannabinoids the patient has ceased to ingest. So is it really withdrawal, or a continuation of the same psychotropic substance in a different form?

Here’s where it gets interesting. In theory, longtime regular cannabis consumers who wish to cease consumption could lessen their CWS symptoms by substituting Sativex for cannabis—and then gradually tapering their daily dosage of Sativex over the course of two to four weeks.

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It’s the Form, Not the Function

Of course, the same sort of tapering could be done with the cannabis itself. But there are also psychological factors at play. It may be easier to taper off when the cannabinoid delivery vehicle (Sativex is usually taken as an oral spray) differs from the cannabis routine to which a patient has grown accustomed. Just as it’s easier to quit tobacco by using a transdermal patch, rather than tapering off cigarettes, it may be easier to ease out of a cannabis routine by using a different form of intake.

‘The research evidence supports the idea that most people are able to stop on their own.’

Roger Roffman, University of Washington

By altering the form of cannabinoid intake, “you’re changing the routine of the individual,” says Roffman. “If the person smokes a lot, now you’re giving them something [like Sativex] orally.” Sativex is designed to have fewer psychoactive properties, so the patient may experience it as a gradual step-down from regular cannabis consumption.

Most people, though, probably don’t need the aid of Sativex. “The research evidence supports the idea that most people are able to stop on their own,” says Roffman. “Clearly, there’s some part of the population for whom withdrawal is unpleasant.” He recommends working with a physician who can help the patient through the process, which could include a short-term prescription for a sleeping aid or mood stabilizer.

Going into the adjustment period with a game plan can also be a big help, Roffman says. “We worked with a number of behavioral approaches” in his research, including anticipating difficulties with mood and sleeping, and planning activities—everything from exercise to a warm glass of milk—that can alleviate the difficulties.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cannabis and Meditation: Best Practices for an Elevated Mind

As the zen saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”

Easier said than done, right? To clear the mind and prepare for true meditation, you must forget about your list of chores, put away tomorrow’s anxieties, and try not to dwell on that embarrassing thing you did 12 years ago at your best friend’s party.

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If you find yourself struggling to let go of your thoughts, consider lighting up before clearing out. Cannabis has a knack for focusing the mind when combined with meditation techniques, and with our guide below, it won’t be long before meditation is a simple part of your daily health regime. With time, patience, and perseverance, you’ll go from meditative newbie to a full-blown relaxation expert.

Why Meditation Matters

Negative thinking, or even overthinking, is a bad habit like any other. Just as one can get caught up in a cycle of biting nails or procrastination, it is also possible to develop patterns of thinking that are unhealthy. These states of mind can create heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression that have very real negative effects on not just mental, but also physical, health.

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For the negative thinker, the best way to diminish those perceptions is by stopping undesirable trains of thought the moment you realize you’re having them, and replacing those thoughts with mindfulness and peaceful stillness. But how do we get to that place of stillness? It can be rather difficult to relax the mind, especially in today’s hyper-stimulating world.

Cannabis, however, is a wonderful vehicle to mentally get you where you need to go—our brains are full of cannabinoid receptors in areas of the brain related to behavior, thought, and mood. When cannabinoids in cannabis interact with these receptors, they produce euphoric, relaxing effects.

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That said, some may also find they experience an increase of anxiety after consuming certain strains or with certain cannabinoid ratios. It’s best to find the ideal strain for you on a personal basis, before embarking on your meditative journey.

It is equally important to explore differing meditation methods as it is different strains. From gazing meditation to deep breathing to body mindfulness, there are so many paths of meditation that can help clear your head. So put emphasis on your mental health by embracing meditation, cannabis, and the healing power of a clear and focused mind.

How to Pair Gazing Meditation and Cannabis

The purpose of “gazing” meditation is to sharpen your focus, promote clarity, and aid concentration by settling your eyes on a fixed object. The focus on the object allows for the dismissal of wandering thoughts and thinking patterns, ultimately clearing a path for a calmer mind.

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The object can be anything of your choosing, but we recommend you opt for something soothing to view—common choices are the flame of a candle, a mandala, or ripples in a body of water.

Take your practice to the next level by reaching for a focus promoting strain such as the buzzy hybrid Double Dream.  This deeply relaxing strain will invigorate the mind while maintaining mental clarity and full-body tranquility.

Step One: Once you have chosen your object, sit across from it in a comfortable position (consider sitting cross-legged on a pillow).

Step Two: With the object in clear sight before you, allow your focus to settle on the details: the way the candle flame flickers and moves as though it breathes; the intricate patterns and colors of the mandala; how the sunlight glints off the rippling waves.

Step Three: Do not strain your gaze—simply allow the image to wash over you as you rest your gaze upon it. Allow your attention to be focused entirely on the object. As you gaze gently, allow your breathing to soften, deepen, and gradually move towards viewing the object without contextualizing it in thought at all.

Final Step: Gaze until your mind is still and all that stirs is the flame of your candle and the rise and fall of your chest.

How to Pair Deep Breathing and Cannabis

Deep breathing is the cornerstone of meditation. By controlling our breath, we can control not only our thoughts, but even the strongest and most volatile of emotions. It is the simplest way to gain control of a runaway mind.

Inhale an uplifting strain to capitalize on those meditative feelings of euphoria—we recommend the bright sativa Chocolope for it’s elating effects and ability to crush anxiety.

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Step One: Sit in a comfortable position of your choosing with your chest upright and back straight. Close your eyes and relax your shoulders. Allow the tension to melt out of your body.

Step Two: Observe your breath in this relaxed state. Then, take a long, deep breath in through the nose, filling up your whole abdomen and chest with air.

Step Three: Once you have inhaled fully, pause at the top for just a beat or two and then very slowly begin to exhale fully out. Pause here for another couple beats (these pauses should always be comfortable and never strained). Then, inhale again and repeat this pattern.

Final Step: As you breathe, allow your thoughts to focus solely on your breath and gradually allow your mind to clear. Simply exist in this space breathing mindfully and relax as all else melts away.

How to Pair Body Mindfulness and Cannabis

If you have trouble relaxing or sitting still, this method may be the one for you. The idea here is to focus your attention on your body, scanning each part to observe the areas that are holding tension and mindfully allow it to relax. With this inward focus, the mind is permitted to let go of aggravating thoughts.

Such a calm, meditative routine deserves a heavy indica to really open up a deep sense of alleviation. Before you begin, pick up Master Kush—this knock-out strain provides full-body relaxation without the mind-numbing effects commonly associated with heavy indicas, so it’s the perfect pair for complete meditative comfort.

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Step One: Begin by lying flat on your back on a comfortable surface such as a bed or yoga mat. Allow your arms to rest at your sides with your palms turned up and fingers naturally curled. Legs should be relaxed with feet allowed to fall outward. Permit yourself to sink into the earth beneath you; really feel the heaviness of your form as you fully unwind.

Step Two: Treat your mind like a scanner ready to inspect each part of your body and banish any tension it may find. Start at your feet, toes and ankles, letting them relax fully. Move up your legs, thighs, hips, lower back, and stomach. Continue on to your arms, hands, fingers, shoulders, neck, jaw, and all the muscles in your face. Move your focus over your body slowly, taking your time, and when you discover tension, allow it to dissipate, leaving fluidity and release in its place.

Final Step: As you relax your body, make sure your breathing is relaxed as well. Long deep breaths in, followed by long slow breaths out. When you have completed your scan, you will find your entire body is filled with relaxation. Continue to lie there and breathe, while turning your focus inward, allowing the relaxed state to extend to your mind as you seek those moments of clarity and stillness.

Have your own meditation techniques that are enhanced with cannabis? Tell us about it in the comments.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

You May Want to Avoid These Ingredients in Cannabis Oil Vape Cartridges

By now, you’ve probably seen or tried firsthand a vaporizer with an oil cartridge. These portable vaporizers are becoming increasingly popular as they’re easy to dose and operate. Visiting a dispensary, you’ll notice different brands made with different strains, solvents, and additives. Which ingredients are safe, and which ones should be avoided?

Burning cannabis oils can produce some of the same free radicals that are formed when you burn cannabis or tobacco, which is why people have turned to vaporizing (vaping). Vaporizing means that cannabis is heated without combustion. Active ingredients are released by the heat into a fine-mist vapor. Since combustion does not occur, smoke is not created.

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People who vape cannabis perceive vaping to be safer and less harmful to their health than smoking. Cannabis vaporizers are specifically designed for inhalation without harmful smoke toxins, but how safe are materials being inhaled?

Harmful Agents to Avoid in Cannabis Oil

When vaporized, cannabis oils are frequently mixed with thinning agents for better performance in a vaporizing device. However, when some thinning agents are heated, potentially harmful carbonyl compounds can be produced.

Research in this area first began with e-cigarettes. Cannabis and e-cigarettes use different thinning agents and are heated and vaporized at different temperatures, but there are parallels that have now led researchers to begin similar research on cannabis thinning agents.

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In a 2017 study conducted at the Medical Marijuana Research Institute in Arizona, researchers looked at the byproducts produced when vaporizing cannabis oil. These popular cannabis thinning agents were studied:

  • Propylene glycol (PG or PPG)
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG) 400
  • Medium chain triglycerides

These thinning agents were heated to 230°C (450°F), and scientists tested the resulting vapors to detect the presence of harmful compounds like formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein.

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The results showed that polyethylene glycol 400 produced much higher acetaldehyde and formaldehyde byproducts than the other three agents. Heating of the thinning agent propylene glycol also produced significantly greater formaldehyde byproduct. Researchers concluded that individuals who vaporize cannabis oil utilizing these thinning agents may risk harmful exposures to the byproducts.

Thinning Agent Alternatives in Vaporizer Cartridges

Producers of vaporizer cartridges are making a mass exodus away from these thinning agents due to their health risks and the unpleasant taste they tend to carry. Instead, many are turning to terpenes as they help thin the oil while improving flavor. Others are using different extraction methods such as distillation to achieve an oil thin enough to be consumed in a cartridge without the need for additive thinners.

As vaporizing oil cartridges becomes more popular, products specifically designed for this purpose are emerging in the marketplace. When purchasing oil cartridges for your portable vaporizer, check the ingredients to see if propylene glycol and/or polyethylene glycol 400 are listed. If so, you may want to avoid them and reach for an alternative product that utilizes terpenes or more health-conscious thinning agents.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.