How weed works

THC medicates—but CBD, the new big hubbub among cannabis scientists, might save your life

Ask your local budtender which strain has the highest CBD content.

Ask your local budtender which strain has the highest CBD content.

Buddy Peeler is a medical-cannabis patient writing for SN&R under a pseudonym.

Samantha Miller is the kind of scientist that looks like one even without a lab coat. The president of Pure Analytics, a Sonoma County-based cannabis potency and safety screening company, Miller recently addressed some serious local growers at El Camino Wellness Center about recent breakthroughs and techniques for cannabis cultivators and medical users.

Miller is all about dosages, something I rarely think about. For example: Did you know that when you ingest cannabis on an empty stomach, it becomes 10 times more powerful than if smoked? Instead of a gentle buzz, you may end up on a vision quest.

But the most interesting aspect of Miller’s presentation was the promising research being done on cannabidiol, or CBD.

Here’s how weed works: Cannabinoids are found in the trichome (resin glands) of a marijuana plant. Their purpose is to repel critters and protect the plant from ultraviolet light. It is also what gives marijuana its medicinal properties. There are three major types of cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinol, known to most people as THC, the stuff that gets you high when you smoke marijuana; Cannabinol, a.k.a. CBN, the byproduct of decaying THC, which is nasty stuff that should be avoided; and lastly cannabidiol, a.k.a. CBD, currently the big hubbub among growers and marijuana scientists.

Dr. Sean McAllister and his research team at the California Pacific Medical Center has been studying cannabidiol with interesting results. When CBD is injected into rats with cancer, for instance, the tumors disappear. CBD could be the cure for cancer? The challenge that research team faces is getting the dosage perfect, as too much CBD makes the tumors bigger.

If it ain’t one thing, it’s another with those scientists.

CBD is also proving to be the key for the therapeutic properties of cannabis. Higher levels of CBD in strains—such as Harlequin, Sour Tsunami and Purple Dragon—lessen anxiety, ease nausea and inflammation while prolonging the effects of THC. If you are in pain and use marijuana to control it, the CBD level is what you want to look at when purchasing medicine. With a lower level of THC to keep the noggin on straight and a higher level of CBD, you can have longer-lasting medicinal effects. Because CBD inhibits enzymes that break down THC, the buzz of the THC will last longer, hence the lower dosage of THC.

I guess to really have the bomb, you could have equally high levels of THC and CBD and take a trip without leaving the farm.

All jokes aside, some cannabis may actually be the cure for cancer. Maybe that is why the pharmaceutical companies want to keep it illegal?