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It almost goes without saying that cannabis is a plant that offers huge variety for consumers. Stroll into any dispensary in the world and you’ll find a wide range of cannabis strains — each with a different look, smell, taste and outcome. The strain is one of the biggest factors in determining people’s preferences when it comes to cannabis, so it’s an important topic for consumers and the industry alike.According to a medical marijuana patient survey conducted by cannabis community portal HelloMD, 86 percent of consumers agree that different strains create different feelings and effects, while 70 percent of consumers say they have a favorite strain they prefer to consume regularly.

Still, with thousands of known strains available, and new ones being developed all the time by cannabis seed breeders, the possibilities seem endless. For cultivators and brands, this means that the potential options for what strains to market are just as endless.

Indeed, decisions about which strain to cultivate and sell need to be made every time a new grow cycle begins, or a new product is being developed. But how are these choices made? How do these industry professionals sort through the options and choose the strains that are right for their consumer base?

To learn more about best practices and procedures for picking stellar strains, we interviewed cannabis professionals — including cultivators, retailers and processors — who make these choices every day.

Genetic Considerations: Popularity, Variety And Stability

The genetic background of a strain plays a huge role in its character, effects and popularity among consumers, so it’s important for cultivators to consider genetics when making strain decisions. For some, this means looking deeply into each strain’s heritage.

“Where we start is in lineage and pedigree,” says Spencer Brewer, chief cultivation officer for Oregrown, a vertically integrated cannabis brand and dispensary in Oregon. “What we’re really looking for is parent input from the first generation of polyhybrids, and that’s your skunk crosses, your OG crosses — things like that. Those are the foundation of genetics.”

For Oregrown, staying genetically close to the original landrace strains helps keep consistency and stability in the genetics.

For other producers, investigating genetics means looking at the strain’s overall popularity, or the popularity of its parents.

“There are certain things in the market that everyone just wants,” explains Troy Meadows, co-founder and marketing director for Legion of Bloom, a cannabis brand based in California. “Everyone likes OG Kush or Sour Diesel. Everyone knows them. They expect them. So, I think some manufacturers or some brands would make sure they had something like that as part of their offerings.”

Danny Sloat, owner and lead cultivator of AlpinStash, says his team tries to keep a balance when it comes to inventory. They retain some of the classic, tried-and-true strains on their menu, while also updating and changing it up by including original in-house strains.

“We plan our own genetics based on the parents’ popularity,” explains Sloat, adding that the decision often often comes down to “what we liked best as the growers, and what has the best bag appeal.”

Still, not everyone agrees that popularity of strains is the best way to choose which heritage to breed.

“People get burnt out on strains,” explains Aviv Hadar, CEO at Oregrown. “We consider ourselves tastemakers. Since we’re vertically integrated into one big organization on the retail side, it’s easy for us to say, ‘OK, well, the rest of the industry has X strain, maybe we should not grow that.’” Instead of keeping the classics in stock, Oregrown is always on a pheno hunt for new strains that might appeal to the new market.

Sour Diesel is a popular strain among consumers, so many cannabis brands make sure to stock it.

The Foundations Of Pheno Hunting: Look, Smell And Taste

As we talk about genetics and pheno hunting, it becomes clearer how much of these strain decisions are being made based on instinct and experience. What makes a strain appealing to the mass market? It’s all about the senses.

“From a cultivator standpoint, I was always looking for things that had a really good nose,” explains Meadows, a cultivator with more than 15 years of practical experience. He says that back in the old days, before lab testing of product was as common as it is today, he relied almost entirely on his five senses, asking himself questions like, “Did it have good aesthetics? Did it look pretty? Was it sparkly?”

The aroma and flavor of the strain may certainly be its most important factor. Meadows says he looked — and still looks — for strains that taste the way they smell. “Those characteristics, where the smell actually came through with the flavor, I’ve always held in pretty high regard when making a selection.”

Sloat also prioritizes smell, saying that for AlpinStash, a wide variety of aromas is key to meeting the needs of consumers. “We try to get a full spectrum because everybody’s kind of different when it comes to the smell that they like and their preferences. And we’d like to give everybody an end product that they enjoy.”

While genetic testing and market research are starting to become more prevalent, especially as markets become increasingly regulated and commercialized, many cultivators stick to these old-school measures of quality. This makes a lot of sense. After all, these subtle factors are the ones that consumers will actually be experiencing, both in the store and after they’ve committed to their purchase.

Terpene’s Role In Strain Selection

Still, as the industry advances, testing for cannabinoid and terpene content is becoming increasingly relevant to strain selection. While THC and other cannabinoid levels continue to play an important role in selection, terpene profiles now appear to be one of the most crucial factors when it comes to picking strains.

“Cannabis has so many different terpene combinations and that’s where you get all these amazing effects from the specific strains.” explains Meadows. “Legion of Bloom really is focused on that terpene experience.

“You have patients and customers saying, ‘I really love this specific sativa because it’s super creative for me,’ or people saying, ‘I really liked this specific indica because it helps me manage my sleep cycles,’” Meadows continues. “I think what’s happening is people are starting to realize that it’s more about the way the terpenes are helping to modulate the effect of the cannabinoids.”

Oregrown and AlpinStash also shared that they use terpene content in determining what phenotypes to grow. For all three cannabis brands interviewed for the purpose of this story, the aroma and flavor from terpenes was important for flower, but Oregrown and Legion of Bloom both say they’re particularly interested in high terpene results for their extracts.

Choosing Strains For Producing Edibles

However, not all cannabis products work well with high terpene levels. Lisa Tollner, co-founder of California-based Sensi Chew, says her company often pulls out the terpenes from its products. While Sensi Chew does leave in some terpenes for their medicinal effects, the strong flavor and smell that comes from certain of these organic compounds makes them poorly suited to Sensi Chew’s range of edibles. By removing these terpenes, the company is able to improve the taste of its products. And this process has another side benefit as well — consistency of effect.

Sensi Chew isn’t a strain-specific product, and terpenes are responsible for most of the differences people perceive between strains. For that reason, leveling out the terpene content by removing some of them helps to keep the products highly consistent in terms of both flavor and effect.

“In our particular case with edibles, what we’ve found is strain is a little less important,” explains Tollner. “When you smoke cannabis, it’s instantly burned and goes through the pulmonary system into the bloodstream. In this case, the characteristics of the plant have a much more distinct effect on our biology. We feel those characteristics much more intensely and specifically based on the strain.” Tollnet explains that when cannabis is eaten and sent through our digestive tract, these strain differences are much less noticeable.

Instead of looking at terpenes, at Sensi Chew the extracts used in edibles are chosen based on potency, cleanliness, and overall cannabinoid content. “We’ll pick the extract based on a basic cannabis family, either sativa or indica. Indicas tend to be a little heavier in CBG and CBN.”

Cultivation Considerations When It Comes To Picking Cannabis Strains

Some cultivators speak on more practical considerations when growing selected strains. How much does the strain yield? Is it resistant to mold? What kind of growth structure does it have?

“It really depends on where it’s going to be and what system we’re using,” explains Meadows, who adds that “with an indoor cultivation facility, there is more flexibility because of the control over the environment. If you’re going to be in an outdoor environment, you’re going to limit your selections depending on the micro-climate you’re in.”

Still, the brands we spoke to seemed to view these considerations as background conditions to be met, rather than good reasons to choose a particular strain. “We look at everything from more of a boutique model, even when we’re thinking about scale,” says Meadows. “I would rather have something that yielded 20 percent less that had much, much higher appeal on the nose and the [outcome].”

Brewer also notes that yield isn’t necessarily a factor in his choice, but did add, “We’re not looking for anything that’s going to be falling behind the rest of our vigorous genetics.”

In the end, how a brand chooses its strains isn’t a particularly mysterious or technical process — rather, it’s grounded in the experiential facets of the plant we all know and love. These brands seem most occupied by the same things that motivate consumers to buy — namely smell, flavor, effect, variety, and the all-important bag appeal. While we might see this change as the industry becomes even more commercialized and regulated, for now, growers haven’t lost sight of the aesthetic nuances that drive our appreciation of cannabis.

These methods seem to be working. After all, as Sloat points out, “If the flower looks awesome and it smells awesome, there’s a good chance that people will really enjoy it and it will be a good end product.”

 Strain Spotting: What Spurs Cultivators And Cannabis Brands To Choose The Strains They Sell? – Big Buds

How did you choose the name for your brand ?

We selected Sensi Chew for several reasons. First, we wanted a name that was easy to say and remember, and exuded a friendly yet professional feeling. Second, Sensi is short for Sensimillia, the female and most potent of the cannabis plants. Lastly, Chew is descriptive for the soft chewy caramel texture of the edible itself. We wanted a name that was approachable and combined both emotional and descriptive elements. My background is 30 years in brand development and strategy, and I’ve named everything from cell phones to companies to consumer goods.

What is your personal connection?

My husband and I started Sensi Products to help family members who were struggling with chronic pain. Even back in 2009, we saw the potential in this amazing plant.

How did cannabis enter your lifestyle?

I’m probably like most baby boomers in that I enjoyed cannabis while I was young, in a social and recreational setting. Then I was working hard to pursue a career, raise a family, and be active in my community, and I lost interest in it. Fast forward 30 years, and voila! It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized the plant’s many health and wellness benefits!

Tell us more about your chews!

The chews have a chewy chocolate caramel flavor which provides effective transport for the medicine. We focus on what a consumer is trying to accomplish or address and time-of-day use. For example, sativa for daytime, indica for nighttime. etc. This helps people incorporate the product in a functional manner into their daily lives. Dosing is extremely important, and we do a lot of education around dosing. We recommend starting with 10mg or less. Our products are lab tested to verify their potency and to ensure that they’re pesticide and microbial-free. Sensi Chew ingredients are that of a typical caramel, so they do contain a small amount of sugar. They are also gluten free.

Tell us more about the laws in California. How are they changing? Is this affecting you?

CA legal cannabis laws went into effect on January 1st. Cannabis companies of all types are getting permitted in order to legally do business. The tricky part is getting the approval of local jurisdiction before going for state permits, and many cities are either slow to develop ordinances supporting cannabis, or still have bans. We saw this coming a few years ago, and prepared early to get the permits we needed in order to operate under full compliance.

How have you seen the stigma change throughout your life?

Cannabis has gone from being a “hippie thing” to a more acceptable form of medicating. There is still a stigma, but it’s quickly changing. We need lots of education to help all levels of society understand what cannabis can do to improve various conditions and for overall health. Education means credibility. Education means more research will happen. Education eliminates being too embarrassed to talk about it or tell your doctor.

What does the future hold for Sensi?

Our future looks very bright. We hope to educate the medical community on how Sensi’s products help people live healthy, happier lives. Some day we hope to see our products at a typical drug store with knowledgeable pharmacists able to answer questions for consumers.

 Cannabis Conversation with Lisa Tollner, Co-Founder of Sensi Products from California, USA! – LadyNowe

pamelahadfield
Co-Founder HelloMD

One rule of thumb when you’re just starting out on your journey with cannabis is to go low and slow.

If you’re new to cannabis, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the dizzying array of cannabis products on offer. In addition to the breadth of choice, there are so many different ways to ingest cannabis, and each form can result in a different bodily—and cerebral—effect.

Knowing what effect you’re trying to achieve is important when selecting new products. Do you want to relieve anxiety, manage chronic pain or are you simply in need of relaxation on a Friday night after a long work week? Understanding what you’re trying to achieve may make the selection process a little easier.

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However, the reality is that most people end up going through a period of trial and error in the beginning in order to find the cannabis products that work best for them. Although some products are touted to work for specific conditions or cause a certain effect, each person’s body reacts to cannabis differently—partially because everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different. The result is that each of us can have a unique experience when consuming the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and therapeutic benefits aren’t always consistent from person to person.

One rule of thumb when starting your journey with cannabis is to go low and slow. This means start at a minimum dosage, ideally a microdose, and then wait to see how you react to it before taking more.

If you’re a cannabis newbie, you may have a very low tolerance or possibly even an exceptionally high tolerance. When starting out, titrating your dosage, starting small and working up, will help you understand what works best for your body and mind. And it will help you avoid an uncomfortable experience.

RELATED: 5 TIPS TO REDUCE THE EFFECTS OF HAVING TOO MUCH CANNABIS

Following is a roundup of some of our favorite products that we recommend for first-time cannabis consumers.

Cannabis Beverage

Kikoko Sensuali-Tea

 

Kikoko was started by two of California’s coolest women, who set out to help medical patients find relief through easy-to-consume, accurately dosed, cannabis-infused teas. The result is the best-tasting organic tea we’ve ever tried. And each cute triangle-shaped tea bag also happens to have a healthy dose of cannabis within it.

We’re such fans, we think the flavors of the four different Kikoko teas rival, if not surpass, the taste of Republic of Tea, Mighty Leaf or any high-quality loose leaf tea you might purchase. Kikoko tea is pure magic on a brisk night.

The tea we think is best suited for a cannabis newbie is the Sensuali-Tea, an all-organic hibiscus, cardamom and rose-blend tea, which contains 7 mg of cannabis per tea bag. Steep the tea for two minutes, and the full cannabis dose will permeate the hot liquid.

Kikoko’s Sensuali-Tea is meant to promote connection—and help you achieve monumental orgasms. Although we can’t attest to the latter, we do believe you may feel a boost of creative energy and perhaps a desire for deeper conversations. If you’re just starting out, we suggest splitting a single dose into two cups of tea, waiting for the full effect (which may take up to an hour) to set in before sipping more of the medicated beverage.

Cannabis Edibles

Satori Raisins in Milk Chocolate

 

Satori’s one of the first brands that focused on microdosing cannabis. It was also the first-place award winner in the edibles category at last year’s High Times event—a prestigious accolade indeed. Each of the six Satori products, or bites as they’re called, is coated in delicious chocolate and comes in a variety of small doses to suit the needs of different consumers.

Our choice for the new cannabis consumer is the California Raisins in Organic Milk Chocolate. Each chocolate-raisin bite contains 1 mg of THC, which is the smallest microdose available in an edible today—at least that we know of.

Start with one to two raisins, and wait for at least an hour to see the effect. If needed, you can take one more per hour, until you know what the right dose is for you. For some people, two raisins may be just enough, while others may need five.

In any case, dosing with Satori raisins is easy, because if you go low and slow, it’s hard to overdo it. Most people we’ve talked to have found Satori to be an uplifting experience, great for an evening out with friends.

Garden Society Bright Blooms

 

Garden Society began with the belief that medical cannabis has the potential to be a tool for health and wellness and that everyone should have access to its holistic benefits. The result: a company well known for high-quality edible cannabis gelées and chocolates, which are not only delectable but exquisite to look at.

We chose the Bright Blooms gelées, which remind us of the sophisticated gelees you see in the window of a Parisian patisserie. The brightly colored treats are beautifully packaged, equal parts hostess gift and personal luxury.

Infused with fruit and herbs , the gelées are made from an organic, sun-grown, sativa-hybrid cannabis strain. At 5 mg of THC and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCA) per gelée, they provide a subtle, yet relaxing boost, while still within the boundaries of what’s considered a microdose.

If you’re brand new to cannabis, we might suggest starting with half a gelée, and waiting two hours to feel the overall effect before having anymore.

Sensi Chew Insomnia With Melatonin

 

Sensi Chew has been one of the longest-standing medicinal cannabis brands in California. With widespread distribution throughout the state, it has also become a well-known go-to for relieving pain and insomnia. The Sensi Chew Insomnia with Melatonin combines the benefits of melatonin with the sedative qualities of THC to achieve a good night’s sleep.

This particular Sensi Chew is similar to a chocolate chew with an almost Tootsie-roll quality. Although these bite-size morsels primarily contain THC and melatonin, they also include a full cannabinoid profile (including CBN, CBG, CBD, CBC, THCV) along with a terpene profile.

As each dose has 10 mg of THC, cannabis newcomers may want to start out by cutting a single dose in half. It may be that 5 mg is more than enough to promote a peaceful slumber.

Marijuana Tinctures & Sublinguals

Level Delta-8 THC Soothe Tablinguals

 

Level, a brand known for its scientific approach and wonderful cannabinoid blends, has come out with a first-to-market tablingual called SOOTHE. Slide open the package, flip open the silicon box inside and place a single 3 mg tablet directly under your tongue. There, the tablingual quickly dissolves and within five to 15 minutes, you should be feeling the effects of the cannabis.

Delta-9 THC is what everyone refers to as THC. Delta-8 is very similar, although chemically slightly differentiated; it’s still psychoactive, however, the effect you feel may be milder, making it a great option for someone new to cannabis.

Delta-8 THC is known to have anti-emetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic and neuroprotective properties. When we tried a single dose of SOOTHE, it was both relaxing and uplifting, while still allowing for a clear head. Level also has a wide selection of vape oil cartridges, based on desired effects, that’s well worth checking out.

TreatWell 1:1 Cannabis Tincture (CBD-Rich)

 

Treatwell is one of the most well-known tincture brands in California. They make whole plant extract tinctures, which are mixed with MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil made from coconuts.Treatwell tinctures come in a variety of ratios of CBD to THC and even other formulations that include lesser known cannabinoids such as THCA, cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).

A 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC is often referred to as borderline psychoactive, which is a good place to start if you’re new to cannabis. For someone with a lower tolerance, this tincture may be mildly psychoactive, and for someone with a higher tolerance, it may not be psychoactive at all. Many people have commented that they felt the Treatwell 1:1 tincture is effective for both pain relief and relaxation. We like the Treatwell 1:1 tincture for its mild taste and fast-acting yet manageable effect.

If you’re interested in a tincture with more THC, you may want to start with the Treatwell THC Cannabis Tincture. This is made with sun-grown cannabis chosen for its high terpene content. The benefit of a tincture is that you can accurately dose the amount of THC drop by drop. Keep in mind that a microdose would be in the range of 2–3 mg to start.

Cannabis Topical

Dr. Kerklaan Natural Pain Cream

 

Dr. Andrew Kerklaan started his topicals brand Dr. Kerklaan with the idea that, after treating thousands of patients in integrative health care, there was a more natural pain alternative. His journey into health and wellness ultimately led him to cannabis. Today, Dr. Kerklaan is a fledgling topicals brand in the California market, but poised to make big waves.

Topicals are a wonderful entrée into cannabis for new consumers. They provide localized pain relief yet don’t cross into the bloodstream. As a result, you don’t feel the stereotypical high associated with most cannabis products.

Dr. Kerklaan Natural Pain Cream takes a whole plant approach and has 90 mg of THC to 90 mg CBD, a 1:1 ratio. One of the first things we noticed about the pain cream is the packaging, which appears more medical than most topicals on the market today. It comes in a tube, which is also more sanitary than most jars of cream and balms where you dip your fingers in again and again.

Immediately after squeezing some cream out, we noticed a pleasant aroma of peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus. In other words, it didn’t smell like a field of cannabis. The cream is also creamy and not greasy, a common issue with many salves we’ve tried in the past.

Dr. Kerklaan Pain Cream states that it may relieve pain, inflammation, muscle tension and stiffness. With high hopes, we applied dime-size portions to various areas in need. Many of us immediately felt an effect, whether that be the loosening of a stiff shoulder or the easing of a sore knee.

Marijuana Vaporizers

Care By Design CBD-Rich 1:1 Vape Cartridge

 

Since their inception, Care By Design has been laser focused on creating the safest, most effective cannabis-based medicine for patients throughout California. The entire Care By Design product line is based on whole plant CBD in either CBD-dominant, CBD-rich or CBD-THC balanced ratios.

CBD is well known as an effective anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antispasmodic. In some cases, it helps a patient sleep through the night and may greatly reduce anxiety.

We’ve chosen the Care by Design 1:1 vape cartridge as an ideal addition to any newcomers’ starter kit as it balances one part CBD to one part THC. Having a 1:1 ratio creates a balanced high as CBD mitigates the effects of THC. Often a 1:1 ratio will be described as having “borderline” psychoactivity, which means the high may or may not be present—and if it is, it will be milder.

Care by Design’s 1:1 vape cartridge offers a pleasant, piney flavor with the help of cannabis terpenes. The taste is robust, but not too overpowering. Most of our staff noticed little to no psychoactive effects; however, relaxation was evident within a few minutes of consumption. For a novice consumer, a 1:1 vape cartridge is a good place to begin testing the waters with both CBD and THC.

Absolute Extracts Jack Herer Vape Cartridge

 

Absolute Extracts, or ABX, has been creating extensive lines of premium vape oil cartridges for years. One of the reasons we like ABX so much is its dedication to quality and long history of providing patients with superior cannabis alongside a consistent experience. A vertically integrated company, ABX grows its own cannabis and manufactures products on site.

Although there’s a multitude of vape oil cartridges to choose from, we chose ABX’s Jack Herer vape cartridge. This easy-to-find, mellow strain is a good fit for experienced cannabis users and newbies alike. It manages to be uplifting and cerebrally stimulating without any of the raciness that often accompanies other sativas.

Overall, Jack Herer is balanced and stimulating, making it a versatile companion any time of day. The ABX vape experience is very flavorful and aromatic with a citrus flavor undertone. If you’re new to cannabis, we suggest that you start with one puff, wait 15–20 minutes to see how it affects you, and then determine if more may be needed.

Main photo credit (clockwise from top left): Garden Society, Satori, Kikoko, Sensi, ABX, Care by Design.

If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.

 Cannabis Newbies’ Guide to Products That Give a Balanced High – HelloMD

“Women are in every sector of this industry, and I think there are a couple reasons for that. We’re the nurturers and healers of our families. When someone in our family or friend group is not well, we take the role of caregiver. Some of this has been imposed on us by society, but that means we have a comfort level with that, so we’re the early adopters who are seeing cannabis as medicine. I really think this was the springboard that launched it. It’s a unique and beautiful thing to see nurturers and healthcare providers get in early in this industry. Many of us feel like we’re reaching a point of critical mass in the workplace. The timing is just right. The combination of these things makes it ideal for women to step to the forefront and be highly active and entrepreneurial.”

 

In 2008, Lisa Tollner co-founded Sensi Products, a popular line of cannabis edibles. Their goal was to create medical marijuana products for families dealing with various health issues, who are considering cannabis as a treatment method for pain or other chronic symptoms. Their most popular products are Sensi Chews, a line of chewable supplements designed to address different health needs, from insomnia to pain relief. They even have a line of Amore “pleasure” edibles, perfect for Valentine’s Day.

 

 

“We have a customer service number on our site. We’ve gotten a lot of calls ever since California’s new laws kicked in, but we usually get a couple calls a day. I would venture to say that 75% of the calls we receive are from women. They’re either doing research for themselves, they want to know more about cannabis and its effect on various conditions, or they’re doing research for loved ones. They’re the ones out there saying ‘my husband, my boyfriend, my son or daughter is suffering from an illness, we’ve tried everything. Will this help us?’ Women are blazing this trail after watching the people they care about suffer needlessly. They’re ready to roll up their sleeves and do their due diligence.”

 

 

Last year, Sensi Products teamed up with the Institute of Research on Cannabinoids (IROC) for a 1,400 person study to examine the role of cannabis as a treatment for sleep disorders, anxiety, PTSD, and pain. This will be the largest peer-reviewed study of its kind when the findings are released this spring.

 

 

Assorted cannabis bud strains and glass jars isolated on black background – medical marijuana dispensary concept

“When we teamed up for this study, the goal was to focus on 4 primary issues – chronic pain, sleep and insomnia, anxiety, and PTSD. The survey was so extensive so we could yield more information and allow people to discuss other issues like fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal issues, and other pain-specific illnesses. From that, we’d relate it to the 4 primary objectives.

We received 1,400 completed surveys. 300 participants came back to complete it a second time so we could collect some time-related data, but it’s hard to get people to come back after the first 30-minute survey. We had 30-50 people come in for a third round. We were seeking time-stamped data, and we did get a little, but having 1,400 completed surveys is a significant sample. The industry does not yet have access to information of this kind.”

 

 

“We’re hoping for some insight and knowledge we haven’t seen in the past due to federal restrictions. Most big research firms prefer a hands-off approach, so most research is done outside the United States. When patients inquire about whether a product will help them, we often find ourselves referencing studies that are 10 or more years old. Our study with IROC is not a clinical trial, but it’s still a complete survey with a large sample and peer-reviewed data. It’s important information and we’re excited to share it with the industry.

The timing for release could be just right with Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice doing everything they can to slow the industry down. A study like this could take some of the wind out of their sails, especially when they try to claim cannabis has no medical value. It’s hard to ignore peer-reviewed studies from medical professionals.”

 

the cannabis leaf and medicaments

“In my view, the pharmaceutical companies are worse than the government. They’ll take the plant into their lab and strip it of anything natural and valuable. I have a very strong belief that the reason this humble plant works so well for the human condition is that it’s as close to plant life as you can get. When you come to extracts or butter or even vape cartridges, it’s very close to its authentic, original, in-the-ground form. It’s been engineered to work effectively with human anatomy and the endocannabinoid system. My fear is that when big pharma gets involved, they’ll screw it up for small companies who are doing things right, taking it slow, who don’t have deep pockets but want to honor the plant in its truest form.”

Cannabis on a wooden background

 

“I’m hoping Sensi Products will be able to continue and support more research. I also think other companies will begin stepping forward to invest in research and help move the needle. It will be interesting to see what happens in terms of science and who backs it. Who’s going to back the science? Are we going to wait for big pharma to come and do it, crushing us in the process? I hope not.”

 

Find out more about the study and who’s behind it on the Institute for Research on Cannabinoids website. Jane Dope will publish the details of the study as soon as it becomes available. Be sure to subscribe to the blog for new post notifications.

 Lisa Tollner on Sensi Products, Women in Weed, & Her Role in Groundbreaking New Cannabis Research – February 5, 2018 – Jane Dope

By Rachel Parsons
Hub Correspondent

The first Friday evening of the new year, Dina “Dr. Dina” Browner stood in the lobby of her West Hollywood pot shop watching the line of customers snake out th e door and down the sidewalk. There was about a 40-minute wait at Alternative Herbal Health Services, one of only four stores selling recreational weed in the Los Angeles area.

“I’m not a doctor,” she said. “I’m board certified by Snoop Dogg.” He is a client, she added, and she flipped on a big screen TV to entertain the patiently waiting crowd as it inched closer to the backroom sales counter.

Although New Year’s Day saw scores of new laws take effect in California, including changes to statutes governing things from firearms to diaper changing stations in men’s restrooms, arguably the most anticipated change was the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana use.

It is now legal at the state level for adults 21 and older to buy cannabis without a medical recommendation in certain places. As lauded as the end to pot prohibition was by some, the move resulted in a patchwork of local jurisdictions and taxation that is creating uncertainty in the industry in the first weeks of implementation.

Location

To do business, a shop must have a state license and local permission to operate. The state left the ultimate decision of whether sale is allowed in each city to that city, resulting in a jigsaw puzzle of possible points of sale that customers have to navigate.

In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, West Hollywood was the only city to pro-actively approve recreational sales permits for four of its existing medical cannabis dispensaries. Those shops were allowed to begin sales of adult-use non-medical marijuana Jan. 2.

Browner, whose store sits on Santa Monica Boulevard, said the West Hollywood City Council told her not to expect too much business too soon.

“I went online and I ordered crowd control stanchions just in case,” Browner said. “And thank God I did … we used to have about 120 customers a day. Now we have 500.”

In Los Angeles, the city began allowing existing Prop D-compliant shops to apply for recreational sales permits Jan. 1, though according to the Department of Cannabis Regulation’s website, it may take “weeks to months” for those to be issued.

The Loft After Care, a medical dispensary within Los Angeles city limits, applied for its permit, but the company does not know how long it will wait, according to one employee. Until then, it will continue to operate as a medical-only service.

Compton still has an outright ban on all marijuana activities, said Dean Jones, senior economic development specialist with the city, but there is a special election Jan. 23 to resolve the question of local sales.

Compton voters pushed for a ballot initiative with two measures included—one asking whether manufacture and cultivation of cannabis and dispensaries should be allowed in the city, the other whether only dispensaries should be permitted.

Jones pointed out if neither initiative is approved, the ban will remain and there are currently no legal pot shops in Compton.

Taxation

Critics of the law, including shop owners and customers, said high tax rates will have an adverse effect on regulated sales and allow the illicit market to thrive.

At the state level, there is a 15 percent tax levied on cannabis products. Previously, there was no state tax on medical marijuana. Cities can apply local taxes and Los Angeles consumers will pay its standard 9.5 percent sales tax and shops will likely pass the city business tax of 10 percent on to customers as well.

With a potential tax of about 35 percent on a recreational purchase in Los Angeles, medical use is not going anywhere, said Alex Kayekjian, manager of Total Herbal Consultation in Woodland Hills, a physician’s office that issues medicinal cannabis recommendations.

“Obviously we were a little concerned,” Kayekjian said. “If it’s turning legal, why would people come and get a med card? The answer to that is the taxes. It’s really expensive now.”

Medical patients will avoid sales taxes if they have a state issued medical marijuana ID card. A recommendation from a doctor will still be needed. Both of these come with fees, but if a patient buys medication routinely that cost will outweigh the taxes, Kayekjian added.

Lisa Tollner, co-founder of Sensi Products, a 10-year-old company that makes cannabis edibles, underscored the industry’s concern over taxation.

“What’s the balance,” she said. “Between taxation and being, and not having the greed for taxes be so rampant that you force the black market to become strong?”

Tollner said she believes things will get worked out, but added that Washington state and Colorado still have strong illegal markets, in part due to the higher cost of buying from a licensed retailer.

Legality

At the federal level, marijuana is still illegal.

Because California’s law leaves final say to local jurisdictions, there is confusion for existing medical shops in many localities around the state.

Tollner said some shops that previously operated where there was no official city ordinance are now sitting in places that have banned cannabis all together. That has hit Sensi’s business, at least temporarily.

“Sales [are] definitely going to fall for us,” Tollner said. “We expected it. We don’t know how severe it’s going to be just yet … there’s still a shakeout that’s happening.”

The Department of Justice threw a wrench into the works during the first week of legalization as well.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo Jan. 4 rescinding an Obama administration directive that essentially told the DOJ not to prioritize prosecution of states that legalized the drug.

“What Jeff Sessions did by reversing [Obama’s instruction],” Browner said, “The reality is, it did nothing. It meant nothing to us … we already know how California feels.”

AHHS’s local law enforcement had no issues with the shops. Lt. William Nash of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station said there were no incidents involving any of the city’s dispensaries, and it was too soon to tell whether they would curb illegal sales in the area.

Consumer reactions were mixed.

Ken Hamasaka, a Los Angeles resident, said although he no longer uses marijuana, he would still buy from private individuals whom he knew and trusted if he wanted some.

Actor David Krumholtz, who waited in line at AHHS said even with the higher cost and a long wait, he would rather buy retail.

“The convenience of not having to wait for a guy to show up,” Krumholtz said. “You don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know if you can be arrested, you don’t know who they are, where they’re from, who’s watching them, I mean the convenience is worth it.”

Despite the uncertainty and hiccups, there is still optimistic confidence inside the industry that things will work out.

“We believe that the state has done a phenomenal job,” Lisa Tollner said. “It’s not easy, I mean they’re carving out regulations for an entire industry … This year is going to be a year of change and so everybody’s just got to stay flexible and work through it.”

 Pot sales create patchwork of confusion – January 17, 2018 – The Hub

Sensi Products co-owner Lisa Tollner talks California's new regulations, and how CBD's Schedule I status may actually be a good thing.

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