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How Cannabis Might Affect Revision for Exams

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We’ve all been there before… The night before an exam. Coffee spilt over a mosaic of post-it notes. Sweat pouring from every part of your body. The feeling of hopelessness, the stress, the panic… but maybe there’s a better way to do this. What if all you need to do is relax? Cannabis and the oils associated with it have long been known to produce calming and relaxing effects that are able to slow that racing mind down a little bit, and provide some clarity.

What if you smoked Cannabis alongside your revision plan? In a recent study by Live Science, it was found that the daily Cannabis usage in students had reached a 30 year high, seeing higher reported usage than cigarettes. The students must know something, so what are the pros and the cons of using Cannabis, or Cannabis Oils as study drugs. In this article, we will review some of the ups and downs of what Cannabis can provide whilst revising for your upcoming midterms, finals or mocks, examining the psychology and research behind Cannabis and CBD’s links to anxiety, focus and memory. 

Cannabis has many varied uses, but can it even help you when taking tests? It’s an interesting topic that certainly warrants further discussion. Remember to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter where you can find more articles like this one and exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles and other products. Save big on Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10THCOTHCVTHCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!


CBD and Cannabis 

A quick technical note before we begin. In this article we will be talking about both Cannabis and CBD. CBD, or Cannabidiol is a Cannabis constituent, a cannabinoid compound found in Cannabis plants and now associated with a calming, soothing effect. Cannabis refers to the entire plant, including THC a separate constituent of Cannabis associated with the more psychoactive experience Cannabis provides. When specifically I mention CBD, I mean this separate compound. As we will discover the two chemicals have very different effects when it comes to studying.

How does Cannabis Affect the Brain?

Before we can address the question of how Cannabis may affect revision, we have to understand what’s going on inside your brain when you take Cannabis, or Cannabis oils. Cannabis affects the brain through the endo-cannabinoidal system (eCS) , a complex cell system that operates around the body as well as in the brain. The eCS is linked to numerous functions and processes including many required for revision and studying: memory, sleep, mood and focus. Cannabinoids, the chemicals in Cannabis bind to the eCS and can result in changes to these functions, so it is important to understand in what particular ways these essential functions are affected by Cannabis before using it to help you revise.

Could Cannabis Help with Studying?

Cannabis might not be everyone’s first thought when you think about a study drug, but there may be some potential benefits to using this fantastic plant to help revise. Firstly, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that using Cannabis can be extremely calming in stressful situations, allowing you a moment to breathe during a particularly heavy study session. But what evidence is there that Cannabis can actually influence the way we study? A fascinating pilot study, carried out by Harvard medical school looked at the cognitive functions of medical marijuana smokers. They found that their functions seemed to have improved since smoking the medical marijuana, being able to perform certain mental tasks faster than before.

This is truly astounding and seems to show that perhaps smoking a small, regulated amount of Cannabis may actually have a positive effect on the brain. This study must of course, be taken with a pinch of salt though. It is a very early pilot study, which means it is still in its early days and there will be more longer term studies to follow, but it is still encouraging. Another note on this study is that it was with medical cannabis, which has much lower levels of THC than street bought or Cannabis, or cannabis bought for the purpose of recreation. THC is associated with different effects to cognitive function, described later.  

Sometimes, creativity is what you need when you’re studying hard and that’s just what cannabis can provide. Perhaps you’re struggling with a certain maths problem, or need a new way to think about a boring topic. In fact we know that Cannabis allows us to think with a more united brain, connecting certain ideas and bringing together different thoughts to allow us a new way of thinking about a problem. This could be exactly what you need to get over a mid-revision hump. 

Cannabis is also useful for getting a good nights sleep, an essential part of any revision plan. Without a good sleep, your brain isn’t able to process the information it’s just learnt. In fact, a short nap may even be technically more useful to memory than a cup of coffee, so if smoking a small amount of Cannabis helps you sleep, that might be super important for remembering those study facts.  

CBD and its Effects on Anxiety and Focus.

Perhaps a much more promising avenue for how cannabis may help you revise, comes through one of its compounds CBD. CBD is truly a wonder chemical, associated with many, many medical benefits. It reduces inflammation, can be used for depression to name a few of its uses. Interestingly, for revision purposes there is a growing amount of research linking CBD to the treatment of Anxiety. Anxiety is a mental illness which is associated with symptoms of panic, increased heart rate, sweating and nausea. It is also a mental illness associated with revision.. Seriously.

A comprehensive review of exam related anxiety by the UK government highlighted it as a serious problem, showing that 5 people in a group of 30 will suffer from severe exam anxiety. They even give it a clinical name: Test anxiety, relating to pervasive thoughts of failure. If it is possible that CBD oil can be used to treat this test anxiety, then perhaps it will help to calm students stuck in a revision crisis down and help them revise. A recent review by researchers at the New York School of medicine  found that there was an array of evidence suggesting that CBD oil not only alleviates anxiety, but may even bind to specific receptors in the brain associated with stopping anxiety as well. This is incredible evidence that truly highlights CBD’s super powers and shows how it might be useful for calming those pre-test nerves. 

With reduced levels of anxiety, the brain is allowed to focus. In fact research has suggested that CBD may actually increase an individual’s alertness and focus, although there is some contradictory research. Some scientists argue that CBD actually reduces feelings of tiredness, in stark contrast with THC, which seems to induce sleep. It appears that CBD is linked to the Hypothalamus, a part of the brain which is responsible for feelings of alertness. Whilst this research may be very new and more is needed to support the claim that CBD promotes alertness, it is still an interesting thought and when paired with the reduced anxiety seems to suggest that CBD oils would be an ideal partner for revising.

Some Potential Bad News

Unfortunately it’s not all good news when it comes to Cannabis and studying. There is a growing amount of evidence that some strains of Cannabis can have negative effects on memory, the last thing anyone wants whilst studying for an exam. A paper by Kings College London seemed to show that high levels of THC in Cannabis can lead to problems with Working and Verbal memory. Working memory relates to holding facts in your head whilst thinking of other things and verbal memory is the memory of words, both are rather important for revising.

An even more recent study showed that high THC cannabis use was associated with an increased risk of false memories, or memories that haven’t even happened, again something you want to avoid! However, both of these studies were looking primarily at THC’s effect on memory and not CBD. In fact, the evidence presented above seems to suggest that THC alone is linked to improvements in memory. This is definitely something one should consider when thinking about using Cannabis to help with revision. Cannabis can also set you back financially and if you’re a student, it’s probably something you’re worried about. This is another reason that CBD oils, being better value for money, may be a more promising solution.

My Personal Experiences

I have tried smoking Cannabis to help me revise a couple of times. One time I was learning a script for an upcoming play at university and I must say that it actually helped me massively. I only smoked a small amount with a friend in a break between line learning sessions and when I returned to my room, I was on fire. The Cannabis had calmed me down and I was a line learning machine. I was playing Coriolanus and smashed through three acts in one night. Another time, a very different story. I ended up just falling asleep at my desk over some particularly tricky maths problems. Swings and Roundabouts I suppose.

Conclusion

So, there seems to be mixed evidence about the pros and cons of Cannabis and CBD for focus, memory and revision. However, it does look like CBD specifically may have a wealth of benefits to help with that pesky mid-term paper. Of course, as with all research on CBD it is still very new and perhaps more research will evolve showcasing other benefits of this wonder compound.

Hello all! Welcome to CBDtesters.co, your ultimate online destination for the most relevant and thought-provoking cannabis and psychedelics-related news globally. Read-thru the site regularly to stay on top of the constantly-moving world of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and sign up for The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletterso you never miss a thing.





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Organic, Vegan, Non-GMO? Applying Nutritional Terms to Cannabis Products

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Nutritional terms are something we see every day, so much so that they’ve almost begun blending into the background. Organic, non-GMO, vegan, all-natural, raw, superfood, sustainable, and so on, are words you see and a large percentage of labels on consumable products. We tend to think about food in relation to these terms, but they’re prevalent in the cannabis industry as well. For example, organic weed products can sell for two or three times more than conventional items, but the process of creating organic, non-GMO, vegan weed products is complicated and costly.  

To stay current on everything important happening in the industry, subscribe to the THC Weekly Newsletter. Also, it’ll get you premium access to deals on cannabis flowers, vapes, edibles, and much more! We’ve also got standout offers on cannabinoids, like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC, which won’t kill your bank account. Head over to our “Best-of” lists to get these deals, and remember to enjoy responsibly!


Common nutritional terms and their meanings  

Let’s start with a few basic terms you may hear when discussing food and other comparable products. The original “organic ideal” was to eat only local, seasonal, sustainable produce, but all these terms have different meanings (although a lot of overlap exists) and sometimes it can be a challenge to incorporate all these components into the final product. The term organic refers to the production of consumable goods without using fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents. Any exceptions are listed in the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.  

Local refers to foods grown within a certain radius that are consumed relatively close to where it was produced. The exact range varies from a few miles to about one hundred, depending on the product and local regulations. Seasonal means the food was grown “in season” and eaten when ripe, not imported produce. Sustainable, in the broadest sense, it refers to how well something maintains itself over a longer period of time. In food, it means the produce was grown in a way that does not deplete the earth around it of natural resources.  

Then we have non-GMO, which can get a bit complicated in terms of application. “GMO” stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and is an umbrella term used to describe any plant, animal, or other organism whose genetic material has been alerted in some unnatural way. Non-GMO implies the final product does not have any ingredients that were modified in a laboratory, but roughly 70% of products on supermarket shelves are, in fact, GMO.  

Vegan is self-explanatory but for the sake of being thorough, vegan items are made without using any type of animal byproducts or animal testing. The cutoff on what exactly is vegan and what isn’t can vary for some people. For example, some vegans still consume honey while many do not. Same with eggs. Some have certain parameters for when they’ll consume such products. For another example, I have chickens at home, 8 hens, no roosters. So, all the eggs produced by my hens are non-fertilized, not viable, and would go to waste if not consumed by someone.  

Similarly, raw food is completely unprocessed, similar to non-GMO, and “natural” has been deemed by the FDA to mean that “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.”  

Organic, Non-GMO, vegan cannabis products? 

An upcoming movement within the cannabis industry, #whatsinmyweed focuses on the connection between shopping for cannabis vs shopping for food items. In both the cannabis and food industries, consumers are spending 60% to 109% more on organic, non-GMO, raw, natural, (healthy) options. It makes sense to see this crossover considering both cannabis and food are consumable products, and if we’re promoting cannabis as a substance for wellness, it makes no sense for it to be loaded with pesticides, heavy metals, mold, and other contaminants that are detrimental to human health.  

Longtime cannabis industry operators can vouch for this, stating that craft organic options are selling for more, and at a much higher rate, than bottom shelf strains. This can be seen in the B2B sector as well, with cultivators struggling to sell bottom and mid-shelf flower. The price for that quality, in some markets, has dropped to as low as $100-$200 per pound, and that’s IF a buyer is even found.  

“The organic side is really coming into its own,” said Liz Geisleman, CEO of 710 Spirits, a Denver company that sells organic and conventional solvents to extractors nationwide. “Organic cannabis is coming fast and furious.” 

And it’s not just artisan buds that are fetching those higher prices. Edibles, topicals, and many other product types are switching to healthier alternatives as well. These days, you’re more like to be able to find gummies that are flavored with natural fruit juices rather than artificial flavorings, or sweetened with real cane sugar as opposed to corn syrup. Obviously a gummy, is a snack and not something we can consider a health food, but eliminating bad ingredients, even if it’s only little by little, does still make a difference in the long run.  

“Being organic, it’s a bit of a slower approach,” said David Bernard, vice president for growing operations for The Green Organic Dutchman in Mississauga, Ontario. “But once the systems are in place, you have a really healthy method of producing cannabis, and as the years go by, the margins increase.” 

Production standards  

When it comes to creating organic cannabis products, naturally, it all starts with the way the plant is grown. But with no true production standards in place, and very little in the way of organic certifications, what exactly constitutes “organic cannabis”? It’s important to note that just because cannabis products can’t get a UDSA organic-certified label, business owners can still choose to abide by those standards in their cultivation and production practices. The problem at that point, is trusting whether the companies advertising “organic” products are self-regulating and actually committing to those standards. 

Luckily, there are some exceptions for this lack of oversight. Organic recognition for organic marijuana (more than 0.3% THC) from the USDA is obviously not going to happen until its federally legal, but hemp (less than 0.3% THC) is legal as per the 2018 farm bill, and can in fact, sport the organic label. Additionally, at the state level, we are seeing more of a push for organic standards in cannabis production, as demand continues to grow, and local governments try to thwart the still-thriving black markets.  

Take California, for instance, where the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently released information for the new OCal Program, which is meant to establish regulatory framework to create “comparable-to-organic” standards in the cannabis industry. In Maine, the Organic Farmer & Gardener Association has launched a Certified Clean Cannabis Program (MC3) that would offer third-party verification for cannabis companies who claim their products are organic. Georgia (medical), Washington, and Massachusetts are working it implement their own standards and regulations as well.  

Organic extractions 

The next step in the creation of organic cannabis products, beyond flower, is extraction and processing. Certain extraction methods, careless manufacturing, or even using the wrong cleaning agents can ruin a product and strip of its organic label.  

cbd extraction
Photo courtesy of Green Mill Supercritical

Choosing an extraction method is key, and hydrocarbons like butane are out of the question. So that leaves: CO2, organic ethanol, or solventless (such as cold-press extraction); all of which have their ups and downs. If we take solventless extraction, those methods are intrinsically organic, but they’re slow and it’s difficult to scale how much you’re going to get at the end.  

Organic ethanol is another option, but not a very cost-effective one. Organic ethanol can cost anywhere from two to ten times as much conventional ethanol, so that’s not an option for man companies. “It’s not really cost effective at this point to use organic ethanol,” said Smoke Wallin of Vertical Cos., a multistate marijuana operator in Agoura Hills, California, and CEO of its hemp-derived CBD spinoff, Vertical Wellness. “The market is there,” he said. “The future play for processing is going to be significant growth on the organic side.” 

Wallin’s company, and many others, are opting for CO2 extraction simply because it’s the most affordable option that still falls under the umbrella of organic. During CO2 extractions, pressurized carbon dioxide is used to draw out naturally occurring phytocannabinoids and terpenes from raw cannabis flower.  

Final thoughts 

The way it’s looking now, the future of cannabis is in the high-end, artisan-style, organic, non-GMO, natural products. This pattern has already been seen in the food industry. Since the USDA began requiring companies to print nutrition facts on their products, consumers became increasingly conscientious of what they were putting in their bodies; it’s no surprise this mindset eventually spilled over into other industries, like cannabis.

Welcome to the site! Thanks for making it to CBDtesters.co, the top internet spot offering up fully-rounded independent news covering the growing cannabis and psychedelics industries. Stop by frequently to stay up-to-date on these dynamic industries, and make sure to sign up to The THC Weekly Newsletter, to ensure you’re never late on getting the news.





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Isle of Man to Build £100 Million Cultivation Facility

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Isle of Man doesn’t get spoken of much because it’s a tiny little place. However, there are some pretty big plans underway in this tiny little place. If all goes to plan, Peel NRE will make Isle of Man the building site for a massive medical cannabis cultivation facility.

Will Isle of Man become the new cannabis cultivation center of the world? Hard to say just yet, but its size and location make it a great place for the UK to produce medical cannabis. We’re a news platform focusing on the emerging cannabis and psychedelics fields. Stay current by signing up for the THC Weekly Newsletter, and also put yourself first in line for deals on a collection of cannabis products from vapes and edibles, to smoking paraphernalia. Also, it’ll get you premium access to deals on cannabis flowers, vapes, edibles, and much more! We’ve also got standout offers on cannabinoids, like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC, which won’t kill your bank account. Head over to our “Best-of” lists to get these deals, and remember to enjoy responsibly!


Isle of Man

When looking at a map, it’s clear that between England and Ireland, there’s a small island. This small island isn’t technically a part of either England or Ireland, and is self-governed, while also being a British Crown Dependency. This is an odd contradiction, because Isle of Man is actually not a part of either the UK, or the British Overseas Territories, but there is a dependency relationship on the UK, which keeps it from being an entirely sovereign country.

For this reason, Isle of Man is not a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, but is a member of the British-Irish Council. This can create gray area when it comes to passing legislation. Technically, the Queen-in-Council (the ruling monarch in the presence of an executive committee) has the final word, but generally legislation doesn’t change without consent from the island nation itself.

Isle of Man does have its own legislative assembly, and has plenty of power to self-govern on local matters, so long as the crown approves. The head of this government is called the chief minister, and the reigning monarch is considered the Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is represented on the island by a lieutenant governor. Isle of Man doesn’t have its own military, and depends on the UK for defense measures.

Isle of Man

The island has been inhabited by people since 6,500 BC, and has been a center for Gaelic culture since the 5th century AD when Irish missionaries settled on it. As of a 2021 census, there are approximately 84,000 people living on the island, with over 26,000 residing in the capital city of Douglas. The island is about 32 miles long (52km), 14 miles at its widest point (22km), and covers about 221 square miles (572km2).

Isle of Man cultivation facility

In February, 2022, the company Peel NRE, released an outline for a massive medical cannabis cultivation facility on the Isle of Man. This cultivation facility would be adjacent to a new research campus, also to be built in the Braddan area. The plans are only a proposal for now, and the company requested opinions from the public about its plans.

According to Chris Eves, the finance director for the project, the cultivation buildings will be atmospherically-controlled, and will produce highly potent cannabis specifically for the medical industry. He explained in terms of timing, that there was “never a better time to grow the industry than the post-pandemic era”. He went on to explain that there would be comprehensive security measures involved for both the research and cultivation facilities.

He also pointed out that the creation of these facilities would mean jobs for locals. These opportunities for employment, as well as education, are all in the vein of both high-tech, and scientific research. Currently, interviews are being held to find operators for the facilities, who will need to apply for licenses upon hire.

How did this come about?

The Isle of Man plans for a medical cannabis cultivation facility are pretty extensive. So how did this all come about? And why there specifically? We’ll start with why there specifically. As it happens, Isle of Man is the home to billionaire John Whittaker, the chairman for the Peel Group, which is a property company based in England. ‘Peel NRE’, the company making the plans, is a part of the Peel Group. Thus, this project is being conducted where the Peel Group operates most, in the UK.

The reason for this to happen now, apart from it being a good time post-pandemic to get in on it, is that laws recently changed in the country. Isle of Man never legalized use of cannabis for residents, but it did legalize the cultivation, production, and exportation of products in June of 2021. According to Laurence Skelly, the Enterprise Minister, this move makes for a “significant opportunity for economic development”.

medical cannabis

He went on to say, “The new regulatory framework and guidance will offer stringent and flexible licensing of a broad range of cannabis products, which ranges from outdoor grown industrial hemp to indoor grown medicinal products.” As of a 2019 public consultation, about 95% of the residents of the island are onboard with growing medical cannabis there. According to the new legislation, the Gambling Supervision Commission is the body responsible for regulating this new industry.

The country isn’t trying to leave out its own population, and the Health Department is currently going over ways to allow the import of cannabis medicines, as well as providing medications for those who hold prescriptions from UK doctors. Whether this part will actually go through is less sure. What is for sure, is that the governance of the Isle of Man, definitely wants to get in on the weed cultivation and exportation game.

For now, this project by Peel NRE is only meant to grow for the pharmaceutical market. There is no global market for exporting recreational cannabis at the moment, so any country that wants to get in on the industry, must do it with medical cannabis until that changes. With more countries becoming legal for recreational use, that change will likely happen soon enough, but isn’t relative until it does. It’s expected that later this year Peel NRE will officially submit a planning application. This project, assuming it goes through, could create one of the biggest cannabis cultivation facilities in the world.

The UK and cannabis

Isle of Man straddles the line of being an independent nation and a dependent state to the UK. As it legislatively is tied to the UK, the UK’s position in the cannabis world is important. In both the regular UK and the Isle of Man, cannabis is illegal for recreational use, but legal (to some degree) for medicinal use. Though Isle of Man is only now getting that part together, the UK legalized medical cannabis in 2018 with a doctor’s prescription.

What’s interesting about this, is that the UK is also one of the biggest global exporters of legal cannabis. Part of the reason for this, is that the UK is home to GW Pharmaceutical, which is one of the biggest cannabis pharma companies in existence. In 2016, for example, the UK produced 95 tons of medical cannabis, excluding hemp products. This amounted to 44.9% of the global total for that year. It exported 2.1 tons of this, which amounted to 67.7% of global exports for that year.

On the other hand, while that sounds like a lot, it barely compares to the exports of two other countries. Morocco holds the largest illegal export market, which exported approximately 36,000 tons of cannabis resin in 2017. China holds the largest legal hemp export market, though specific numbers are not reported on.

Isle of Man cultivation

What is known, is that just domestically, the hemp market is expected to bring in over $1 billion annually, and that when it comes to cannabis oils, China topped the list in 2019, exporting 33.4% of all cannabis oil exported on a global level. The cannabis industry is a dynamic place, though, and these numbers outdate themselves quickly.

In recent years, things have shifted on the international stage, with numbers for exports increasing, and Canada taking the lead for legal marijuana exports. In 2020, Canada exported some 15.6 tons of dried cannabis flower and about 7.3 kilos of oils and extracts. It is still expected, however, that the UK exports the most actual cannabis medicine in the form of Epidiolex and Sativex, as they are products of GW Pharmaceutical.

Conclusion

It’s not uncommon for towns and cities to sprout up around large factories or other businesses. Sometimes entire towns exist of employees to an operation. Since Isle of Man is small, it could very well turn into a cultivation country, with the majority of residents involved in the cannabis industry. We’ll let you know more, as the story unravels.

Welcome readers! We appreciate you joining us at CBDtesters.co, your top web spot offering up comprehensive independent news coverage of the expanding cannabis and psychedelics fields. Stop by whenever possible to stay on point in this time of dynamic change, and check out The THC Weekly Newsletter, so you’re always up on what’s going down.





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Are You Smoking Irradiated Cannabis? And is ‘Nuclear Weed’ Safe? 

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If you’re buying legal weed, regardless of what state or country you’re in, there is a very strong possibility that you’re getting irradiated, or ‘nuclear’ pot. That might sound weird and scary, but it’s more common than most people realize, and not just in the cannabis industry, but in agriculture and healthcare as well.  

When it comes to safety, nuclear weed is actually (believe it or not) perfectly fine, despite some possible changes to the flavor profiles. Safety is actually the core reason for blasting weed with radiation in the first place, to kill and possible contaminants without sacrificing quality. But marketing irradiated cannabis products, on the other hand, has been an uphill battle for producers and retailers.  

The cannabis plant is so interesting and complex, and we’re learning more about it every day. To stay current on everything important happening in the industry, subscribe to the THC Weekly Newsletter. Also, it’ll get you premium access to deals on cannabis flowers, vapes, edibles, and much more! We’ve also got standout offers on cannabinoids, like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC, which won’t kill your bank account. Head over to our “Best-of” lists to get these deals, and remember to enjoy responsibly!


What is ‘nuclear weed’? 

So, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is ‘nuclear’ cannabis? In short, it’s cannabis that has undergone irradiation to sterilize it and kill and mold or possibly harmful bacteria. A lot of people hear the “radiation” part and are immediately put off; but there is a big difference between irradiation treatment and being exposed to radiation.  

Simply put, radiation refers to the number of photons that are being emitted by an independent energy source. By and large, there is no one specific definition for radiation, but can be used to describe various, single-source phenomena that are related to the release of energy. That said, when talking about “exposure to radiation”, it’s usually energy and often at dangerously high levels. With irradiation, on the other hand, the exposure to energy is calculated and intentional.  

Industry reports claim than an estimated 80-90 percent of cannabis available at retail locations throughout Canada has been irradiated, and roughly the same numbers (slightly less) apply here in the United States. Irradiation has been used for a long time in other industries, one common example is for sterilizing medical equipment. Irradiation is also an EPA-approved method of decontaminating produce, like most things you buy from supermarkets. Theoretically, weed shouldn’t really need to be treated with radiation. Ideally, a successful grow should be free of contaminants anyway, but we know that is not always the case. 

One of the most promising uses for irradiation to eliminate mold and bacteria in flower – which for consumers, can be a gross inconvenience at best, or a major health concern at worst. Weed is not commonly advertised as being “nuclear” or “irradiated” because most people don’t even want to hear any of the details behind it. But for many consumers, those with weakened immune systems and underlying health conditions, nuclear weed is all they can smoke.  

George Terry, the executive vice president of sales at Rad Source Technologies, one of the top suppliers of irradiating devices for the U.S. cannabis industry and the maker of the irradiation devices at EOS Farms, says he has clients in 23 states already. According to Terry, “For an immunocompromised patient like a cancer survivor, irradiating cannabis could be the difference between a safe smoke and a life-threatening fungal infection.” 

Eliminating pathogens vs preserving terpenes  

Many researchers claim that irradiation has no negative impact on the therapeutic components of cannabis, but that’s because they were mainly focused on how the treatments impacted cannabinoid content (THC and CBD primarily), but they seemed to glaze over the fact that up to a 38% reduction in terpene levels was documented.  

In a study conducted by internationally acclaimed cannabis researcher Dr. Arno Hazekamp, he explains that some patients who have been treated with irradiated medical cannabis noticed “a change of taste or effect”, while others were “concerned over the potential changes in chemical composition as well as the quality of the product.” As per his data, it was discovered that irradiation reduced “the content of terpenes such as myrcene and linalool” while another found no indications of “changes in cannabinoid profile”.  

Dr. Hazehamp explains that “such opinions may be hard to substantiate because the same cannabis is usually not available to consumers in both its irradiated and non-irradiated form to allow direct comparison, meaning there is no ‘baseline product to quantify the magnitude of change, and not to mention the fact that cannabis effects are somewhat subjective to the consumer.” 

He makes an interesting point there, but his own data does, in fact, substantiate the consumers’ claims because there is a notable drop in terpene levels. He mentioned myrcene and linalool specifically, both of which are very prominent in many cannabis strains. An up to 38% drop in those two terpenes would absolutely equate to a change in flavor profiles, as well as possibly a loss in some medicinal benefits.  

Importance of terpenes  

Terpenes are a very large and diverse class of organic compounds that are produced by a wide variety of plants. In cannabis, they are secreted by the same glands that produce some of the more dominant cannabinoids including THC and CBD. Their role and effects are quite different, however. Terpenes are aromatic plant oils that, when combined with other plant compounds, create a never-ending palate of scents and flavors. In nature, terps serve as a defense mechanism by deterring herbivores and by attracting predators and parasites that attack herbivores.  

Chemically, terpenes are hydrocarbons, and they differ from terpenoids, which typically have added functional groups such as oxygen. The words “terpenes” and “terpenoids” are often used interchangeably but this is incorrect. Terpenes are also the major component of rosin, which a sap/waxy-like substance that is produced when cannabis buds are placed under high heat and pressure. Climate, weather, age and maturation, fertilizers, soil type, and light cycles can have an impact on the development of terpenes.  

As far as cannabis goes, terpenes are the key to differentiating the effects and flavor of a strain. Some terpenes are relaxing, like those found in lavender, while others are energizing. Some smell fruity, some are piney, some are musky. There really is no limit to the variation. So far, over 100 different terpenes have been discovered in cannabis plants alone, and each strain typically has its own unique blend and composition of terps.  

Terpenes have long been known to hold great therapeutic value, and some of the more common ones have been studied more extensively, considering they’re found in many different types of legal plants. More research is needed to determine the extent of their medicinal effects when combined with other cannabis plant compounds. 

Final thoughts  

Again, the idea of irradiated, nuclear cannabis buds can sound unpleasant, understandably, but when you begin to unravel the science behind it, you realize it’s not that bad and you are then able to really appreciate its role in the industry. If you’re a relatively healthy, recreational cannabis smoker, it’s fine to prefer things more natural. But for immunocompromised patients or those with certain pre-existing conditions, nuclear weed opens up a whole new world of therapeutic possibilities for them.

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