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The art of medical marijuana and plant-based medicine is to ascertain what ratio and strain might be right for the patient, how best to administer the plant as medicine, and how to utilize patient feedback to get the best outcome.

This is a lot like using hormone therapy where there is no objective test, like blood or saliva levels. Successfully prescribed medical marijuana relies upon good communication between the patient and the practitioner.

Marijuana Basics

Marijuana is a plant that has been used for thousands of years for medicinal, recreational, and religious uses worldwide. It is derived from the cannabis sativa plant and should be referred to as medical cannabis for the most accuracy.

CBD vs. THC

Cannabidiol (CBD) is found in both hemp and marijuana. CBD is not psychoactive, and has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anticancer, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-seizure effects.

Medical Marijuana

Facts vs. Rumors

Rumor:
Marijuana kills brain cells.
Fact:

Studies have found that it actually promotes the development and growth of new brain cells. In studies of animals, cannabinoids (the substances found in marijuana, a.k.a., cannabis) appear to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased hippocampal newborn neurons is positively correlated with its antidepressant-like effects. Scientists are also studying the role of marijuana in treating neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig's disease.

Rumor:
Marijuana makes you high.
Fact:

Certain strains of marijuana have been bred to create an intense euphoria and heighten a recreational user’s senses. Medical marijuana growers have, however, bred strains of marijuana to focus on health benefits and reduce, or even eliminate psychoactivity. Studies have also found that strains containing higher amounts of CBD rather than THC have a calming effect, rather than a euphoric “high.”

Adding CBD in certain ratios, such as 1:1 or even up to 4:1 CBD to THC can often buffer the psychoactivity of THC. This is also recommended for neuropathy, migraines, and PTSD. Talk to your provider about specific dosing for your condition.

Rumor:
Marijuana is a gateway to other drugs.
Fact:

Studies have found that marijuana is used far more as an “exit drug” rather than a gateway drug. Medical marijuana can be used to substitute alcohol, opioid, and more dangerous illicit drug dependencies. In fact, states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, have dramatically reduced opioid prescriptions.

Rumor:
Marijuana causes addictive dependency.
Fact:

Most users never have a problem with becoming addicted to marijuana. There is roughly 10-15% of those users who do lose control of their consumption habits and become dependent, especially young people and those with mental health conditions. But much like any other prescription drug, medical marijuana should be consumed in appropriate dosages under the guidance of a qualified provider.

Rumor:
Smoking marijuana affects lung health.
Fact:

Studies have shown that smoking marijuana over an exponential amount of time is associated with decreased lung and respiratory health. Patients seeking relief through the use of medical marijuana can avoid negative side effects by choosing an alternate method of consumption such as ingestible, topical creams, and liquid extracts.

The good news on vaping is that vaping ground cannabis flower has not been linked to increased risk of lung disease according to the National Academy of Science 2017 report.

Rumor:
Marijuana will make you hungry and fat.
Fact:

The ongoing joke is that marijuana causes the “munchies”. While it is true that depending on the level of THC found in marijuana, it may cause an increase in appetite. This can, however, be beneficial for some people. Medical marijuana is commonly recommended to people suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia, as a solution to increased caloric intake. THC can also help with cancer and chemotherapy-related nausea in a much more effective way than some traditional prescription medications.

Industry Overview

  • For thousands of years, hemp has had many useful applications for society. Even the founders of the United States of America grew hemp for cloth and paper. It wasn’t until the early 1900s when the marijuana plant became known worldwide as a drug of abuse and labeled as dangerous, that it was lost to most of the world’s industrial societies.
  • As hemp reemerges and booms again, we learn that much that was previously known as hemp production and cultivation was lost. Farmers are having to relearn best practices and develop new techniques for both farming and production into goods.
  • Biomass is the fiber that comes from the hemp plant. Hemp fiber is extremely strong and durable. It can be used in many products, but the process by which it is broken down and used has yet to become cheap enough to compete with cotton for clothing or wood pulp for paper products.
  • Searching for hemp paper, for example, yields a very poor selection of products with only a small percentage of true hemp fiber. Hemp clothing is yet to become mainstream.
  • Technology improves and companies find better ways and cheaper ways to break down the biomass and convert it into useful materials.
  • New companies have been started in the last five years to develop farming techniques and biomass production.
  • As hemp sees a resurgence in popularity after the farm bill of 2018 was passed and legalized in production with less than 0.3% THC, CBD has also seen a very high increase in production.
  • CBD production and, its counterpart THC, require highly specialized extraction techniques. These extraction techniques are either alcohol-based, CO2-based, or chemical-based.
  • There is a Utah company that is using all extraction-based techniques to become one of the only companies in Utah providing products to dispensaries in Utah for medical use.
  • Zion Cultivars has partnered with Proper Cannabis Company to develop nano emulsification techniques for THC capsules as a better alternative to the typical edible gelatinous cubes that will be available in most dispensaries throughout the state later this year.

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