Cannabis Education

Cannabis Education – A Vital Piece of the Cannabis Industry Puzzle

Cannabis use is becoming more normalized and increasingly common among all demographics. Because the illicit market still exists, it is more difficult to determine if the number of cannabis users is really increasing or if we are just seeing a transfer to the legal market. Reality is likely a combination of both increased admittances, with an uptick in “new” users. When the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill) was enacted, the spectrum of legally available cannabis products dramatically increased. The availability of CBD products not only sparked a craze, more importantly – it sparked conversations.

New legal industry needs an educated community.

As the cannabis conversation continues among the general population, certain patterns are emerging. As this industry finds its place in an ever-changing economic environment, questions are being answered with more questions. The science behind cannabis isn’t just for chemists or geneticists. From common cannabis FAQs to data details – more information needs to make it to the streets. Not only are average consumers actively seeking these resources, major organizations are working intensely to be heard by larger more specific audience demographics.

Cannabis education should be as common as cannabis.

While cannabis is bringing record sales quarter after quarter, there is little profitability in solely advocating and presenting cannabis education. Yet, plenty of companies have made cannabis education one of their main priorities. As a matter of community and consumer safety; cannabis education should now be added to standard continuing education topics for law enforcement, medical staff, community advocates, legislative representatives and most all governmental positions. The sad truth is, access to and use of cannabis education is not keeping pace with cannabis industry expansions.

The gap of cannabis knowledge is widening.

Community workers that need to have access and utilize cannabis education include the healthcare industry, law enforcement, legislative representatives, and other governmental representatives. While we are seeing an increase in task forces and committees created to provide relevant education to intended demographics, the fast paced growth of the cannabis industry has led to a gap in knowledge about cannabis. This lack of factual and applicable information is leading to regressive regulations and restrictions.

Not all cannabis education is neutral.

When it comes to cannabis education for community workers and the general community, despite its growing legal status – it is still difficult to find non-bias educational material. In addition to material being either for or against cannabis use, much has not been sufficiently scientifically backed to qualify to be redistributed as approved educational material. Cannabis’ schedule 1 status in the US inhibits educational material; as government funding for educational material that could be perceived as an encouraging use of a schedule 1 drug is not allowed.

Companies and Organizations are filling the cannabis education gap.

Inconsistent, yet growing levels of acceptance in cannabis’ medical and recreational uses has unfortunately fed this lack of available non-bias education and resources. Certain companies, organizations, and community groups are making waves trying to spread cannabis information to varying demographics. Utilizing contemporary methods of community outreach and conversation, these groups are filling a need in the market and community. Thanks to them – accurate, non-bias cannabis educational material is out there and growing.

Education for the Medical Field

There are a few groups who provide Continuing Medical Education (CME) for physicians and hold an accreditation to certify education for the entire spectrum of healthcare professionals, including nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, psychologists, dentists, and dieticians. The Medical Cannabis Institute Global provides online medical education for healthcare professionals who want to learn about medical cannabis and its potential clinical application. Their science-based, accredited courses help professionals deliver quality care and address patient questions.

Community Education and Resources

Veriheal has been focusing on streamlining access to medical cannabis cards nationwide, but they boast an extensive collection of originally curated articles for the community and the industry. With the many resources from Veriheal, it’s easy to stay in the know with the latest cannabis news, tips, tricks, recipes, and findings. The first FREE cannabis nurse hotline has been up and running since last year and Leaf 411’s “Leaf Library” is chalked full of resources and medically backed articles and links.

Legislators and Lawmakers

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ (NORML)- mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of cannabis by adults. In addition, they serve as an advocate for consumers and community members to assure access to high quality cannabis that is safe, convenient and affordable. Often NORML representatives and volunteers spend much of their time providing cannabis education to current and upcoming community representatives. Known as “Lobby Days”, each representative session cannabis advocates visit state representatives ready to educate on cannabis in person.

More research equals more legitimacy.

While thankful for these organizations and companies out there spreading cannabis knowledge; many anticipate the day when information doesn’t have to be biased to be heard. When factual, scientifically backed, cannabis education is overwhelmingly available – anyone in a position of community representation, even in non-legal states, should have a basic understanding of cannabis in context.

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Cannabis Education

CBD Prescription Drug Is No Longer A Federally Controlled Substance

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has removed a marijuana-based medication from the list of federally controlled substances.

GW Pharmaceuticals announced on Monday that Epidiolex, a prescription drug it developed that’s derived from cannabis and used in the treatment of epilepsy, had been taken off Schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act. Effectively immediately, the CBD medication is no longer a controlled substance, the company said.

That means individuals will be able to more easily obtain Epidiolex. GW said in its notice that it will “begin the process of implementing these changes at the state level and through the EPIDIOLEX distribution network.”

After that point, state reporting requirements under prescription drug monitoring programs will no longer be applicable. Like many non-controlled drugs, people will still need to get a prescription from a doctor, but those prescriptions will be valid for up to a year and can be transferred among pharmacies.

“This notification from DEA fully establishes that EPIDIOLEX, the only CBD medicine approved by FDA, is no longer a controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act,” Justin Gover, CEO of GW, said in a press release. “We would like to thank DEA for confirming the non-controlled status of this medicine.”

“Importantly, the descheduling of EPIDIOLEX has the potential to further ease patient access to this important therapy for patients living with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two of the most debilitating forms of epilepsy,” he said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the medication in 2018. DEA said it would be placed in Schedule V, rather than Schedule I like marijuana and its derivatives.

FDA pushed back in a letter to the agency, arguing that CBD carries minimal risks and has established health benefits and so it shouldn’t be controlled at all. DEA replied that international treaty obligations warrant its control, albeit in the least restrictive category of Schedule V. FDA then said that if that changed, the agency should “promptly” revisit its status as a controlled substance.

Last year, the World Health Organization clarified that CBD containing no more than 0.2 percent THC is “not under international control.”

Meanwhile, FDA is in the process of developing regulations for hemp-derived cannabidiol products that aren’t approved as medications following the 2018 Farm Bill’s legalization of the crop and its derivatives. The agency said in a report to Congress last month that the rulemaking process is ongoing, but it is actively exploring pathways to allow for lawful sales of the cannabis compound as a dietary supplement, and it’s developing enforcement discretion guidance for products that are currently on the market.

Featured image from Shutterstock

This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.

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Cannabis Training

Protecting Health, Safety and Your Business’ Future is Priority One in the Cannabis Industry

As the world adapts to this new reality, reassessing and updating business practices has become the new normal. In the pre-COVID-19 world, cannabis operators often reached out to FOCUS with an interest in improving a certain aspect of their internal business processes. Whether seeking help with improving existing standard operating procedures (SOPs), expanding employee training efforts, making sure risk assessments are effective, or developing supplier qualification and hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP plans). Every company has areas which they would like to improve, yet all struggle to find the necessary time and resources to dedicate towards the actual improvement activities.

All that has dramatically changed over the past few weeks, making this a perfect time to reassess and improve operations –  to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus – but also to assure continued business success.

 It is critical that all cannabis companies understand their requirements as employers under the General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 [29 USC 654(a)(1)]. Employees are the backbone of every successful company, and their health and safety should always be the first concern – not just during a pandemic.

If your company has not revisited the federal and state OSHA requirements that apply to your business since this pandemic began, doing so should be your first and biggest priority.

Under the Act, employers are required to comply with all occupational safety and health standards, and to furnish each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm”.  The Act also includes requirements that employees comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations and orders issued pursuant to the Act, which are applicable to his/her own actions.

Companies with more than 10 employees must also be aware and in compliance with the recordkeeping and reporting requirements as they related to workplace exposures to COVID-19 under 29 CFR 1904, as well as any applicable state requirements.

Cannabis businesses must also be sure to use cleaning and disinfecting agents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There have been a lot of new companies advertising services to clean and disinfect cannabis facilities, many of which are making false claims about the effectiveness of their services against COVID-19. Don’t make the mistake of going through the efforts to improve your operations only to find they did not work.

Many cannabis companies are asking employees to work remotely. Even companies operating in jurisdictions that have deemed cannabis as essential are limiting staff and splitting shifts to comply with social distancing requirements and do their part to prevent further transmission.

Suddenly, employees are finding themselves at home, with very little actual work to do – providing a tremendous opportunity to improve your company’s practices. Employees working from home can become your biggest resource and best defense against future quality, safety, and compliance related issues within your cannabis business. If handled properly, these changes do not need to equate to a lack of progress. In fact, this is a terrific time to assess the effectiveness of existing operational plans, policies, procedures and training.

Updating and improving Standard Operating Procedures is one of the most straightforward ways to improve. SOPs are one of the most useful systems to streamline a business because they create specific measurable business outcomes. Data shows that just a 10% improvement in productivity from a better SOP could give you 35-40 more productive minutes a day from each one of your employees. Think what that could mean to your bottom line! If you are not sure if your company’s SOPs need improvement, ask these questions to assess the business value of your SOPs:

  • Does everyone in the organization have easy visibility on how things are done at all levels?
  • Are roles and responsibilities clearly defined?
  • Are training costs too high?
  • Is it taking too long to get a new employee productive?
  • How much supervisor time is required to get a new employee trained?
  • Are there areas where you would be at significant risk of incurring high costs or project failure if a key employee or consultant left today?

One way to begin the process of updating your SOPs  is by asking each of your employees to go through an existing SOP and update it with any information they identify that is missing, as it relates to that procedure. That updated draft should be shared with any other employees who perform the same function to assure its completeness and that everyone is in agreement. Once completed, the Quality Director or Management should review the SOP, reach out to any employees to resolve any issues, and then approve the SOP for use.

Another way to approach this is by having employees use the Notes app on their cell phone to explain each process they perform within a typical workday. They should do their best to include as many specifics as possible, including work location, materials and amounts, steps, time of day, etc. Ask them to explain it like a recipe, step by step, from beginning to end. These documents can then be used to determine if employees are all following the same steps, and where policies should be updated. It will also exemplify where SOPs may be in need of additional Work Instructions to be truly effective.

If effective, SOPs improve productivity, decrease costs, control for quality, and ensure consistent results. Use this time to make sure you are getting everything you should be out of yours. This is especially true for businesses that paid for SOP templates and have not yet customized them to their operations. Unless SOPs are  built upon the daily needs and happenings of your company, and implemented as a part of how you do business each day – they are not likely doing much to protect your business, employees, or customers.

This is also a good time to reassess your job descriptions. Have employees working from home go through and update their specific job description with any additional duties that they perform. Circulate them between employees to ensure completeness and agreement. Once completed, management can approve and update them for later use.

Training is also something that cannabis businesses should be revisiting during this time. Obviously, hygiene, health and safety training should be the first priority, as we all make efforts to mitigate the transmission and spread of this virus. All employees should complete a hygiene related course at this time, regardless of whether they have previously or not. This includes management and executives too. There are plenty of companies offering complementary online training during this pandemic, and cannabis businesses should be taking advantage of these. A terrific example is the ServSafe™ Food Handler Course,which is being offered for free through April 30th.  Additionally, ServSafe™ is also offering free state specific training, as well as COVID-19 Delivery and Takeout Training on demand.

Conducting internal training is also of critical importance right now, As we move through the different phases of this pandemic, more and more people will fall ill, or be forced to stay home to take care of sick loved ones. Do your employees understand all of the functions in your business? Do you have back up employees to cover all aspects of your operations if a crucial member of your team is no longer able to work? Cross training employees now is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for business continuity during this time.

While we all learn to exist in this new reality, smart cannabis business owners will take advantage of the situation and recognize there are plenty of ways to protect the future of their business by making sure they are fully compliant and operating at an optimal level.


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Cannabis Education

Cannabis Books Worth Socially Isolating With

Normally active, social people around the world have been forced to socially isolate themselves in light of the coronavirus pandemic, making this a great time to catch up on that reading list. For years, cannabis buffs had cult classics like Jorge Cervantes’ Growing Marijuana and the beloved cultivation anthologies from Ed Rosenthal. Now, in a post-legalization world, the cannabis enthusiast’s library has grown exponentially. These books could provide entertainment and activities for the remainder of your social isolation:

Higher Etiquette: A Guide To Cannabis, From Dispensaries to Dinner Parties

Decades after the iconic Emily Post set the stage for proper rules of etiquette, her daughter Lizzie Post, President of the Emily Post Foundation, released this guide to cannabis culture etiquette. Read about how to navigate the myriad choices at a dispensary, the proper way to gift weed to a dinner party host, and more in this informative book for stoners and the polite people who love them.

Brave New Weed: Adventures into the Uncharted World of Cannabis

Travel around the world while you’re stuck inside with this international view of the cannabis plant. Join the author on investigative trips to California, Colorado, Amsterdam, and Israel as they attempt to unearth the individual sordid regional histories of prohibition, defamation, and insanity that comes along with the cannabis plant. Be entertained while also learning, Brave New Weed leaves readers thinking about the current state of cannabis business.

Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking With Weed

When VICE began producing the television show Bong Appétit, which features professional chefs cooking with a vast kitchen of weed products, it became instant canon in the industry. Now, the MUNCHIES team at Vice has created a compilation of recipes with one main star: cannabis. Throughout the cookbook, read tips from co-hosts Ry Pritchard and Vanessa Lavorato. 

The Cannabis Spa At Home: How to Make Marijuana-Infused Lotions, Massage Oils, Ointments, Bath Salts, Spa Nosh, and More

Many ancient spa remedies included cannabis, many of which are the model for the home treatments explained in The Cannabis Spa At Home. Browse a whopping 75 recipes for lotions, salves, emulsions, and more that can be made right in your own kitchen. The author is an herbalist, autoimmune disease survivor, and California cannabis patient who has used that unique experience to build these timeless ways to treat yourself. 

Humboldt: Life on America’s Marijuana Frontier

Humboldt County is a special place in Northern California where generations of cannabis farmers have existed and sometimes thrived despite prohibition laws. The region’s families, farmers, and cannabis genetics are intriguing for cannabis aficionados and entrepreneurs alike. Author Emily Brady spent a year living with these secretive farming families which allowed her to build a world of fascinating characters while providing a bird’s eye view into life in the Emerald Triangle.

Craft Weed: Family Farming and the Future of the Marijuana Industry

Follow along as author Ryan Stoa makes his case for craft weed in a world where small farms are constantly being challenged by big business. First-person interviews with activists, growers, politicians, and investors lead readers to question whether they care if their weed is sustainable, local, artisanal, or even ethical. Stoa suggests a sustainable, artisanal, local farming model be put in place for cannabis. His solution aims to build a cannabis industry that mirrors the robust Northern California wine country, but is it the right decision? Read Craft Weed to decide for yourself. 

Handbook of Psychotropic Herbs: A Scientific Analysis of Herbal Remedies for Psychiatric Conditions

Investigate the real medicinal value of herbs and plants in this extensive book from Dr. Ethan Russo. Sure, we’re stuck socially isolating and mostly staying inside but a quick walk around our yard or in a neighboring park is safe at a distance from others. Take a walk with this handbook and see if any medicinal plants have been growing in your region all along. It’s a great, fact-filled read for students, psychiatrists, counselors, psychologists, physicians, and anyone interested in herbalism.

The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness

Iconic activist and founder of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center Steve DeAngelo lays out his views on the relationship between cannabis and wellness in this first-hand look at medical cannabis. The advocate explains how he believes that cannabis prohibition has changed the way we look at family, the courtroom, the doctor’s office, and the workplace. Read The Cannabis Manifesto to gain insight on cannabis culture and to build your own idea of what future national cannabis policy might look like.

Whether you’re learning how to use cannabis in the kitchen or the bath, or perhaps about the history of generational cannabis cultivation in Humboldt, these books can keep you company during your period of social isolation. For more, including how-to manuals and business books, check out the rest on our list!

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Cannabis Education

Guide to Cleaning Your Cannabis Gear

As our nation proceeds to navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you’re probably sanitizing everything around you in order to mitigate carrying or catching the virus. The Center for Disease Control even includes step-by-step guidelines to disinfecting and cleaning all surfaces on its website.

And in the midst of the deep clean, your pile of cannabis accessories should not be overlooked. Because unlike a water glass or dish which gets washed after every use, pipes, bongs, and other products may get a once-over every few weeks – though they touch your lips, hands, and mouth constantly.

So keep that bucket of cleaning supplies nearby and follow our guide to cleaning your cannabis gear. You probably have the time now that you’re social distancing.

What do quarantine and social distancing mean?

What’s the difference between quarantine and social distancing? Vox recently reported on coronavirus and the utilization of social distancing to help quell the spread of the virus:

  • Quarantine: to separate individuals completely from the public if it is believed that they have been exposed, but aren’t yet showing, symptoms of sickness.
  • Social distancing: requires the public to refrain from social gatherings and maintain a conservative and clear radius around oneself and others when out and about.

Including these practices in your plan to help fight the virus will greatly and positively affect your community. Protecting those who are immunocompromised or most susceptible to the virus is the number one priority throughout this pandemic.  

Even if you are symptom-free, you can still be a carrier of coronavirus. According to various experts interviewed by The Atlantic, you should be avoiding social interaction as much as possible at this time. This includes skirting the gym, canceling non-essential appointments such as beauty treatments, stepping away from birthday parties and large family or friend gatherings, and keeping a healthy separation between you and the public when grocery shopping or running errands. 

Deep clean your grinder

Though you may be washing your hands often and thoroughly, you most likely touch cannabis nugs with your bare hands when breaking up and shoving them into a grinder. And can you remember if you washed your hands before each and every time you used your favorite grinder this past year? Be extra safe during this time and do a deep clean on your grinder collection.  

Not only will you feel peace of mind for sanitizing your stash, but you’ll also de-gunk any old resin sticking to the teeth and end with a satisfyingly shiny and slick grinder.

Sanitize your glass

Almost every cannabis consumer I know has a pipe or bong in their possession, while concentrates fanatics most definitely own some type of dab rig.

Thankfully, when you clean glass products, you usually sanitize them against certain viruses at the same time. Reason? It is commonly recommended that you pick up a bottle of 99% isopropyl alcohol and a package of coarse salt to deep clean. According to the CDC, cleaning products that contain at least 70% alcohol concentrations can kill coronaviruses.

If you prefer the homeopathic route, it is unfortunately not recommended to go the natural way, as distilled vinegar, tea tree oils, and other natural products are not powerful enough to take on COVID-19.

Put some elbow grease into your handheld vaporizers

Just like grinders and glass, handheld vaporizers benefit from a scrub. Learn how to clean the mouthpiece of your PAX with our breakdown of the PAX III — you’ll find out how to sanitize both the device and the concentrate attachment.

Any other vaporizer mouthpiece can be cleaned the same way as the Utillian 722. As noted with the other products, vaporizers can be sanitized from the use of a few Q-tips and 99% isopropyl alcohol.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Hannah is a Seattle-based writer and editor. She’s worked in the cannabis industry for three years and continues to learn and explore.

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Cannabis Education

Guide to Staying In and Social Distancing

As the nation tries to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19), you’ve likely found yourself in a state of isolation. Working from home, staying in, and avoiding large crowds have become the status quo for the foreseeable future. So what does this all mean for those of who use cannabis? How can you avoid transmitting the virus, and what should you do if you become so bored that watching paint dry sounds like top-notch entertainment?

Learn about what it means to isolate, stop the spread of germs, and follow our guide to making the most out of social distancing to break up the blasé days to come.

What do quarantine and social distancing mean?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you have an elderly loved one or know someone who is immunocompromised, it’s in your (and everyone else’s) best interest to practice social distancing. We must gather as a community and protect our most vulnerable from the coronavirus, which has an unprecedented high mortality rate for those susceptible.

But what’s the difference between quarantine and social distancing? Vox recently reported on coronavirus and the utilization of social distancing to help quell the spread of the virus. To quarantine is to separate individuals completely from the public if it is believed that they have been exposed, yet aren’t yet showing symptoms, of sickness. Social distancing, on the other hand, requires the public to refrain from social gatherings and maintain a conservative and clear radius around oneself and others when out and about.

Even if you are symptom-free, you can still be a carrier of COVID-19. According to various experts interviewed by The Atlantic, you should be avoiding social interaction as much as possible at this time. This includes skirting the gym, canceling non-essential appointments such as beauty treatments, stepping away from birthday parties and large family or friend gatherings, and keeping a healthy separation between you and the public when grocery shopping or running errands.  

Avoiding germs and getting sick

Should you give up getting elevated during the coronavirus outbreak to avoid germs? Not necessarily. Per the CDC, as long as you keep clean, wash your hands, use sanitizer, and shine up your living spaces, you should be good to carry on with your usual habits. Bonus obvious tip: don’t share your cannabis accessories with any friends or family at this time.

It’s also an excellent idea to use your isolation to sanitize all of your cannabis gear. Break out that bottle of isopropyl alcohol and clean out any pipes, bongs, and vaporizer mouthpieces that have been used within the last year.

Feeling a tickle in your throat? If you haven’t avoided getting sick this year for any type of cold or flu, consider our guide to using cannabis while sick. The bottom line: weed smoke can be harsh on the respiratory system when it’s already under stress due to coughing or hacking from the flu. When interviewed by Vice, medical physician Ira Price recommends other methods such as topicals and edibles over burning flower.

Keep yourself occupied

Okay, so you’ve meticulously cleaned your entire home, sanitized all cannabis accessories, stocked up on an extra 500 rolls of toilet paper, and got through the nitty-gritty of your at-home work assignments. Now what?

If you’re looking to keep yourself occupied during self-quarantine and you’re in a legal state, take a crack at growing your own weed. If it’s something you’ve always considered, but never had the time to pursue, you’re now in luck — as long as you have access to quality soil.

Don’t have the space to grow? No worries, try making your own concentrates instead. You can go all out with the Rosinbomb Rocket. But if concentrates aren’t your thing, home in on your joint rolling skills by creating the best damn crutch you’ve ever seen.

And if you’re heartbroken over the cancellation of numerous sporting events, occupy your time with our own Weedmaps March Madness strains bracket. Root for your favorites and follow which one will come out on top.

Sports not your thing? Not feeling creative? Want to just hang out with no plans? Then simply veg out solo with our guide to staying in and finding your chill amidst the social distancing. 

Illustration by Angelina Bambina/Shutterstock

Hannah is a Seattle-based writer and editor. She’s worked in the cannabis industry for three years and continues to learn and explore.

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Cannabis Education

Vermont’s Castleton University Launches Cannabis Certificate Program

Castleton University in Vermont is launching a Cannabis Studies Certificate program that will cover the business, cultivation, history, and culture of cannabis.

Vermont’s Castleton University has launched a Cannabis Studies Certificate program; it is the first higher education institution in the state to offer a full cannabis-centric program, VT Digger reports. The program includes three courses: Canna-Business; Cannabis, Cultivation and Care; and Cannabis, Culture and Consciousness, along with an internship component.

There are about a dozen students enrolled to complete the program, which includes cannabis industry economics, sociological and anthropological topics, and the history of the plant and policies.

Philip Lamy, a Castleton professor who helped develop the program, called it “unique.”

“Most of what I’ve seen across the country is colleges and universities focusing on cultivation, CBD production and the medicinal effects of marijuana but very few that are looking at the history, the sociology, the business aspects of it. We’re doing all of it.” – Lamy to VT Digger

The cost of each course in the program runs about $1,500 for in-state students and full-time students must be enrolled in 12 non-Cannabis Studies classes in order to receive full-time federal student financial aid, the report says.

Some faculty have voiced concerns over the program, namely that it doesn’t have an individual or public health component.

Katy Culpo, an associate professor in the Department of Health, Human Movement and Sports, said that the course offerings in the program “needed balance” and that not including the warning messaging would be a “huge mistake.”

“If it was truly a studies program of any substance – alcohol, tobacco, heroin, cannabis – you would need a least one course that really takes a hard look at what we know and don’t know about that substance, whether that’s from a pharmacological perspective, or a psychological, social, biological perspective,” she said in an interview with VT Digger.

Lamy indicated he would consider adding those topics as the program expands.

Adult cannabis use and possession were legalized in Vermont in 2018 but the law did not include taxed-and-regulated sales. Last month, House lawmakers approved a plan to legalize an industry. That measure is currently in a conference committee to align amendments before it moves to Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s desk for final approval.

Colleges and universities in states with both adult-use and medical cannabis legalization have rolled out a variety of cannabis education programs alongside their traditional courses.

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Cannabis Education

Cannabis and Parenting: Just Say Know

Parents today are
often overwhelmed by trying to juggle the demands placed on them by their jobs,
children, and households. It is no wonder that parents would like to consume
something at the end of the day to help alleviate that stress and relax before
bed. It’s not uncommon for a parent to unwind at the end of the day with a
glass of wine, a beer, or a mixed drink. This has been the standard practice
for many parents and adults, mainly because no other options were available.

With the spread of cannabis legalization sweeping across the country, more adults are using cannabis. The barriers to entry that have plagued our past, such as criminality, social stigma, and safe access to cannabis, are finally being removed. This shift leaves parents with a new option to explore when trying to shut down for the evening. As a relatively new phenomenon, many unanswered questions remain. Is it safe to possess cannabis with children in the home? Should you be open about your cannabis use or hide it? How do you talk to your kids about cannabis?

These questions are
unexplored territory with the onus left on the parents to figure out. Answers
to these questions are critical because they will dictate how upcoming
generations perceive cannabis. This article will explore these questions and
aim to generate ideas for parents to work from when trying to figure out how to
incorporate cannabis into their lives.

Safety First

The biggest issue that needs to be addressed when parents are considering whether or not to use cannabis is safety. As a parent, keeping your children safe is paramount to your role as a caregiver. A 2016 study looking at the rates of children exposed to cannabis in Colorado after legalization found a 34% increase in accidental cannabis composure compared to the nation’s 19% increase as measured through reports to Regional Poison Centers. The researchers noted that the majority of these cases were due to inadequate parental supervision or product storage.

Cannabis exposure in children should be avoided at all costs for two main reasons. First, because children are so much smaller than adults, the adverse effects of cannabis can be much more pronounced. Side effects include intense nausea, vomiting, and anxiety, which can be a horrific experience for a child who has no idea what is happening. Second, these incidents reflect poorly on the broader cannabis community and give opponents arguments against the legalization of cannabis.

When parents make the
shift and start to use cannabis, they need to consider how they are going to
consume and store cannabis. In terms of storage, parents should go to extra
precautions to keep cannabis products away from their children. Most pediatric
cannabis exposure happens when kids mistake edibles for regular cookies,
brownies, or candy. These types of products should be stored where children
cannot get them, ideally with something you can lock. For consumption, parents
should consider what fits their lifestyle best and what would be the hardest
for their child to consume. Vape cartridges and edibles will be the easiest for
a kid to consume accidentally. Find what works best for you and your family.
Remember to keep safety and access at the forefront of your mind.

Coming Out of the Cannabis Closet

Once you have
addressed how you will store your cannabis in a place where your children
cannot access it, it is time to think about how to talk to them about cannabis.
For years cannabis consuming parents had to hide their consumption from their
children. If a child went to school and spoke about their parent’s cannabis
use, they would most likely have found themselves in trouble with the law.
Luckily, attitudes and legal restrictions towards cannabis have changed,
allowing parents to finally open up to their kids.

Many parents today are
still on the fence about talking to their children about cannabis, even in
states where it is legal. As the old saying goes, “old habits die
hard”, and hiding one’s cannabis use is no different. When confronted with
this new dilemma, looking at research done on similar taboo topics can be
helpful. One taboo area parents have historically avoided talking to their kids
about is sex because it can feel uncomfortable to address. Parents often fear
they will inadvertently place ideas into the minds of their children. This is
similar to the concerns parents have when considering whether or not to open
the conversation on cannabis.

In an article published in 2017 on how parents should talk to their adolescents about sex, some valuable insights can be taken away for parents wondering how to approach the cannabis conversation. One important thing to note here is that talking to your kids about sex in the right way can act as a protective factor against teenage pregnancy and STIs. It all comes down to getting accurate information from a trusted source rather than from their peers or the media, and the same principle applies to cannabis.

The first step before you even open the door to a conversation around cannabis is to educate yourself. This will allow you to not only feel confident in the conversation you’re about to have but also help you provide your child with the most accurate information. Being educated on the subject will also help when your child has questions which will solidify your place as a knowledgeable source on the subject. It is important to admit when you don’t have an answer for a question instead of making something up on the spot.

Once your educated and
feel ready to start opening up about cannabis to your child, there are a few
things to keep in mind. You want to make sure the conversation is tailored to
the child’s age. As kids grow, they can handle more information that is
increasingly complicated. Younger kids might need to only know that cannabis is
a plant that is for adults to use and is not for them, similar to alcohol or
medications. Adolescents may require a more detailed account of the plant that
includes its history, common uses, and side effects. Teens and young adults
need conversations around what they are hearing and seeing through peers and
the media. This age group is where youth typically try cannabis for the first
time, so it is essential to be open and honest about the positives and
negatives associated with its use. You want to provide your children with an
open, informative, and non-judgmental space to talk about cannabis. Make sure
to check in regularly, capitalize on teachable moments, and, most importantly,
remember what you do is far more powerful than what you say.

A Path Forward

As the landscape
around cannabis continues to change, parents need to think about how they will
approach this issue with their children. Parents who consume cannabis should
not be demonized as bad parents, nor should the parents themselves feel ashamed
of their cannabis use. Our society is experiencing a massive cultural shift
with the acceptance of cannabis, and parents will play a significant role in
how future generations respond to this movement. With any psychoactive
substance such as alcohol or cannabis, what’s most important is maintaining
safety, having open conversations, and modeling responsible use. Cannabis is a
wonderful way to end the day and connect with the loved ones around you as it
brings your awareness into the present moment while simultaneously allowing you
to relax. It’s about time for parents to feel ok with replacing that glass of
wine with a joint or cannabis-infused edible to help unwind after a long and
stressful day.

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Cannabis Education

WTF is Nano CBD? We asked some experts.

CBD, more formally known as cannabidiol, is everywhere. Given the incredible enthusiasm, you would never guess that CBD is not exactly legal, leaving CBD purveyors in a legal grey area. This lack of federal oversight has created a lot of wiggle room for companies seeking an edge or niche in an increasingly crowded and competitive space. One such niche is the very sci-fi sounding name nano (or water-soluble) CBD, touted as being more effective and bioavailable (the degree to which a nutrient is available for the body to use) than other formulations.

CBD is non-intoxicating and reported to ease a wide range of conditions, and consumers are flocking to the cannabinoid to help relieve chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, and even skin conditions like psoriasis and acne. Even restaurants and cafes are jumping in on this wellness trend, adding it to smoothies or mocktails for a few extra bucks, while chefs are adding CBD to their menus (though officials in cities like New York are cracking down on the practice). Even mainstream stores like Walgreens and CVS are jumping on the bandwagon, stocking their shelves with CBD products.

But nano CBD exists in a world with such a confounding range of CBD products available that can be found in the oddest of places — like the neighborhood bodega, alongside the condoms and Five Hour Energy packets — it begs the question: Is nano CBD a genuine innovation, or a gimmick to help companies differentiate themselves from the pack?

The technology used in Nano CBD isn’t new. 

Dr. Itzhak Kurek, Ph.D., is the co-founder and CEO of Cannformatics, a Northern California biotech company using saliva metabolomics technology to personalize medical cannabis treatment. Weedmaps spoke with Kurek to learn more about nanoparticles and the science behind them. 

Kurek begins by noting that nano-sized delivery technologies are not unique to CBD and are widely used by pharmaceutical companies to ensure bioavailability. “Nano CBD is a CBD molecule coated with very small particles, such as liposomes or lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), that stabilize the CBD and can move in our blood faster than ‘naked’ CBD, to effectively reach the target,” he explained. 

Kurek adds, “Nano CBD is a CBD molecule packaged in nano-carriers that are the size of about 100 nanometers — or one-billionth of a meter — which allows the “package” to stay in the body for a longer time and to slowly release the intact CBD in the targeted tissue.” To illustrate his point, he mentions a 2017 study that reported a 600% increase in bioavailability of oral Nano CBD compared to CBD in a rat model.

What this means is that, theoretically, a person who consumes nano CBD as opposed to regular CBD may feel the effects more quickly. Dr. Mary Clifton, an NYC-based MD specializing in internal medicine, is also a CBD and cannabis expert and has worked with medical marijuana patients for more than 20 years in Michigan and New York State respectively.

Clifton says that she remains undecided about nanotechnology, but she says that some of her patients are enthusiastic about the formulations. “A number of my patients swear by the use of nanotechnology to make their CBD more effective,” she said. However, she notes that the human data on CBD nanotechnology is pretty much nonexistent, though cellular data shows promise. 

Like any trend, nano CBD has its skeptics. 

Project CBD is a California-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting and publicizing research into the medical uses of CBD and other components of the cannabis plant. Their Chief Science Writer, Adrian Devit-Lee, is somewhat skeptical of nano CBD formulations. He agrees with Kurek that the nanoemulsion theoretically makes CBD easier for the body to absorb, but that it doesn’t mean it is “practically” easier to absorb.

Devit-Lee zeroes in on how people consume cannabis compounds generally as potentially altering its bioavailability regardless of formulation. “The way the problem [with nanoemulsion] is often framed is ironic because it’s framed around potency,” he said. “When you eat CBD, if you take it first thing in the morning before food, you might absorb 3-6 percent. If you take it with a fatty food, you might absorb more of it.”

Acknowledging that the onset of nanoparticles takes about half as long as regular CBD, he also notes that the molecule spends about half as much time in your system. “Practically speaking, is that much different than taking a stronger dose? I don’t know that consumers would find it [nano CBD] much different.”

And this is assuming that the CBD product in the bottle is exactly what’s reported on the label, something that some CBD companies are wont to do. In 2019, the FDA issued several warning letters to CBD firms for products that did not contain the amount of CBD they purported to contain, and for using language that suggested CBD could cure, treat, or prevent disease, a big FDA no-no. 

Another area of concern lies in the safety of nanoparticles — when particles are made smaller, there may be unintended consequences. The increased use of nanotechnology in biomedicine, agriculture, and consumer products has led to the rise of nanotoxicology, the study of how engineered nano devices and structures may affect people. In reporting an explainer on weed wine for Weedmaps News, Josh Lizotte, founder and CEO of Rebel Coast, cautioned against the process of using nanoemulsions in cannabis-infused wine because “we don’t know the health effects of nanotechnology, and how such small particles [interact with] the body.”

To nano or not? 

Corona, California-based CBD company CBD Living utilizes nanotechnology for their flagship product, CBD Living Water, as well as topicals, gummies, and others. Chief Operating Officer Sean McDonald said that the company decided to utilize nanoemulsions because of its reported ability to increase bioavailability and speed up the absorption rate. And the customers, he said, feel better, quicker. 

A challenge with cannabinoids generally — regardless of how they’re processed — is cannabinoid degradation. Once cannabis is harvested it begins the degradation process, meaning that the potency of the product, whether it is water or an edible, will decline. Many factors contribute to this process, but the top four are UV light, airflow, humidity, and temperature. 

Though most CBD products come in packages designed to keep out light, the simple act of opening and closing the container will reduce its efficacy. McDonald says that the nanoemulsion process itself insulates their products from degradation — though it should be noted the research backing this is scant — and all their packaging, with the exception of water, is opaque to keep out light. 

But clear CBD water bottles that could sit on store shelves for weeks or even months under the blazing lights of a grocery store aisle might be CBD-free by the time they’re purchased and consumed.

Devit-Lee also notes that every state has different testing requirements, and each lab has a different formulation for detecting drugs. In other words, just because it says something on the label doesn’t make it so. “If you have a good product that has some terpenes that help with absorption and with medicinal effects — if it’s a good quality product in general you don’t need to do this nanoformulation. But if you have bad quality hemp products, maybe [nano] can help them stand out,” he added. 

The bottom line is that there just isn’t much research for a persuasive argument either way. The only thing consumers can really do is to shop thoughtfully for CBD — nano or not — and buy from U.S. companies that can easily show you their third-party lab results and certificate of analysis. 

Featured image: a 3D rendering of nanoparticles on a white background (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Cannabis Education

South Africa Officials Approve Cannabis College on Eastern Cape

The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform in the Eastern Cape of South Africa has approved the development of a cannabis college to train potential industry workers in cultivation and distribution, according to a BusinessTech report.

The college is planned for Ingquza Hill in Lusisiki, which Nomakhosazana Meth, MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, said had ideal growing conditions for cannabis. She described the plant as “green gold” which would help impoverished citizens in the region.

“The Eastern Cape is constantly searching for ideas and ways on how to contribute to the growth of domestic product of the province. Lusiski is known to be ‘the world’s capital of cannabis’ and this is a very important industry, so we need to exploit it in our province. We want to make sure we embrace cannabis for medical and commercial purposes.” – Meth, in an interview with 702

Over the last three years, there have been major overhauls of South Africa’s cannabis policies, including national medical cannabis legalization in 2017 and a decision by the Constitutional Court in 2018 that cannabis prohibition was unconstitutional. In the decision, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said the personal use of cannabis “does not constitute undue harm” and infringes on the privacy rights of citizens.

According to a report by Prohibition Partners, a fully legalized cannabis industry in South Africa could be worth more than $1.7 billion annually by 2023.

The cannabis college will be established in a former teaching college, according to a Moguldom Nation report. The World Health Organization estimates there are about 1.25 million cannabis farmers in South Africa and at least 350,000 of which are traditional healers who give the plant to others for its medicinal benefits.

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