Pubdate: Tue, 10 Apr 2012
Source: Redwood Times (Garberville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 MediaNews Group
Author: Mary Anderson


Chemist Samantha Miller returned to the 707 Cannabis College Friday 
evening, April 6, for the final in her series of lectures on medical marijuana.

This lecture was directed at the medical marijuana baker, but she 
began with a review of cannabis basics. The main psychoactive 
ingredient in cannabis is THC (Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinoid). THC is 
produced from THCA, a non-psychoactive constituent of the plant, when 
the plant material is heated. To fully activate the available THC in 
a plant requires heating it to a temperature of 212 degrees 
Fahrenheit for 90 minutes. Both THC and THCA have medicinal uses such 
as pain relief, to treat nausea and insomnia, and to increase appetite.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is also a constituent of cannabis, but generally 
occurs at much lower levels than THC. CBD also had medicinal uses and 
new strains are being developed to increase the amount of CBD in a 
plant. One of the new CBD-rich strains in called Harlequin. 
Cannatonic, Sour Tsunami and Stinky Pink Diesel are other CBD 
strains. CBD is used to treat muscle spasms, convulsions and 
anxiety-related disorders. Some research indicates that it is 
effective at inhibiting the growth of brain and breast tumors.

CBD causes alertness in some patients and should not be taken at 
bedtime. The effects of CBD last much longer than the effects of THC 
and remain active in the body for up to 12 hours. Combining THC with 
CBD extends the pain relief over a longer period.

Miller also talked briefly about the best growing conditions to 
maximize the medical value of the plant. Cannabis is adapted to 
desert environments so it's important not to over-water the plant. 
The trichome structure is where the crystals form and if the plant is 
given too much water, it will not be potent. It is also important not 
to water in the evening. The stomata of the plant is only open during 
the day, so when a plant is watered in the evening, the roots cannot 
take up the water and send it to the leaves. Cannabis needs dry air 
and sustained wind or air movement to reach its full potential. It 
should not be watered at all during the last few days before harvest.

Light intensity also affects the strength of the plant. Miller 
recommends monitoring light intensity of indoor grown cannabis with a 
light meter. The light intensity should be checked frequently and 
bulbs replaced if necessary.

Light intensity for outdoor plants is a product of the overhanging 
canopy. The top of the plant may receive more light than the bottom 
due to shading.

She recommends monitoring the resin glands of the plant for color to 
determine when to harvest. The ideal is a gland that is 60% amber 
colored and only 40% clear. She also suggests that, since most CBD 
strains are grown from seed, the grower should test them early in 
their growth to determine whether they have the desired amounts of 

For a variety of reasons, some patients prefer to take their medicine 
orally rather than inhaling it. The effects of oral medicine are more 
long lasting and unpredictable because of the variations among the 
makers of the cooked medicine. Some cooks don't measure accurately, 
don't provide proper directions for consumption and whether or not it 
should be taken on an empty stomach or consumed with food. And the 
dosages are unreliable. Being "creative" in the kitchen will change 
the results and the patient will not be getting a consistent quantity 
of medicine.

She recommends having the plant material tested for potency first 
before deciding how to cook it. If potency varies between plants then 
the cook can add or subtract plant material to keep the dosage 
regular. It's important to keep careful records of each step in the 
process so it can be repeated. Her Pure Analytics laboratory offers a 
computer program to help the baker calculate the dosage of the food.

To extract the THC or CBD from the plant, Miller recommends alcohol 
as the best medium, but glycerin or oils are also used. The plant 
matter should be broken down and macerated beforehand.

Cooking does not necessarily release all the THC. Miller said that, 
if for instance, someone is baking cookies in a 400-degree oven, the 
cookies only reach 400 degrees during their last minute of baking and 
that is not enough to fully activate the THC.

She also recommended measuring everything in milligrams for dosage consistency.

There was a lively question and answer period following the lecture. 
The first question dealt with making a salve with THC to rub on 
joints to relieve arthritis pain. Miller said that salves do not 
penetrate the dermis to reach the muscle and are not effective 
against joint pain. Some popular salves include eucalyptus, which 
stimulates blood flow and this provides some relief from joint pain, 
but the product itself does not enter the blood stream or reach the 
aching joint.

She was asked about whether to use fresh plant material or dried in 
cooking. She said that either is acceptable, but the fresh material 
has high water content and that needs to be taken into account when cooking.

Some people prefer the fresh plant and use it to make green 
smoothies. Some like to cook the plant in a crock pot at a lower 
temperature over a longer time. Miller said that this method would 
achieve about a 50% activation of THC. Plants can also be activated 
in a microwave oven.

Miller said also, in response to questions, that when extracting from 
a plant, cannabinoids are not the whole game. There are other 
constituents such a chlorophyll and Vitamin C in the plant. She said 
that cannabis has only begun to be studied and no one is sure what 
role these other constituents play in the effectiveness of medical cannabis.

All three of Miller's lectures have been video taped and will be 
replayed at the 707 Cannabis College at a later date. Check the 
college website ( ) for more information 
about that. Learn more about Pure Analytics at their website,
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom