How to Use Cannabis

From Edibles to Vapes, Leaf411 Has Your Questions Covered

When we first started taking calls on the hotline, one of the biggest surprises was hearing how many people thought marijuana has to be smoked to be effective. In fact, we even featured this misconception as our first Question of the Month!

Many different types of marijuana (cannabis containing >0.3% THC – sold in dispensaries in states that have legalized recreational or medical marijuana) and cannabidiol (CBD) hemp products are available today, designed to fit a wide variety of needs. Your decision on how to use cannabis may be driven by personal preference. You might also consider factors such as how quickly a product will take effect, how long the effect will last, and what issues you’re targeting.

Our cannabis-trained registered nurses are always happy to answer your questions at no cost when you call our free, anonymous Leaf411 hotline 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411). 

However, we know you might not have specific questions yet. In our guide below, we provide information on different options for using marijuana and CBD products. You’ll also find tips for getting the right dose of this plant-based medicine.

Keep reading, or skip ahead using the links below.


CBD Hemp 101: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, Distillate and Isolate

Are you confused by all the different types of CBD? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there before!

All cannabinol (CBD) starts off as a compound in either hemp or cannabis plants. The plants undergo various processes to extract CBD, resulting in a range of CBD products. We break down the main types of CBD below, along with the pros and cons of each type.

Full Spectrum CBD: Wide-Ranging Hemp Benefits

Full spectrum CBD oil contains most of the of the hemp plant compounds, including terpenes, flavonoids, essential fatty acids, CBD, cannabigerol (CBG), and trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), staying below the 0.3% federal limit for CBD hemp products. The plant compounds work together to create a synergistic entourage effect that can boost the benefits of the CBD hemp plant. Full spectrum CBD oil is often a green color, reflecting the presence of those compounds. The color and flavor can even change between product batches due to variations in the plants.

  • Pro: Full spectrum CBD provides all the power of the hemp plant, available in a variety of product types from topicals, tinctures and edibles to vape concentrates, as well as crumble that can be dabbed (smoked with a special rig). It’s less processed than other CBD concentrate types, as well.
  • Con: Full spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC (under 0.3%). While it’s not enough THC to be intoxicating, the verdict is out on whether it’s enough to trigger a positive drug test result. Also, because full spectrum CBD retains the original plant compounds, it has a natural flavor that some people may find off-putting. Many manufacturers add fruit or mint flavoring to their full spectrum products to balance out the flavor.

Broad Spectrum CBD: A THC-Free Option Loaded with Hemp Power

Broad spectrum CBD is similar to full spectrum CBD, except that the product goes through additional refinement to remove all THC. It’s important to note that the terms “full spectrum” and “broad spectrum” sometimes get confused, even by product manufacturers and marketers. Furthermore, past research has shown that product labeling can sometimes be inaccurate. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s test results on the product Certificate of Analysis (COA) to confirm this!

  • Pro: Broad spectrum CBD maintains most of the plant benefits while eliminating THC, and can be used in the same ways that full spectrum is used. This may be an appealing option for people who want or need to avoid THC due to workplace drug testing; however, given the confusion around labeling, a safer option would be CBD isolate, which we discuss below.
  • Con: Removing trace amounts of THC requires additional refinement which also pulls with it additional minor cannabinoids and lessens the CBD content in the process, moving CBD further away from its full plant form. Also, given the concerns around inaccurate labeling and testing, broad spectrum CBD is not the ideal choice for athletes and professionals who are subject to drug testing.

Distillate CBD: A Powerful Hemp Concentrate

Distillate CBD is a concentrate containing between 80% – 90% CBD. In order to make distillate CBD, additional steps take place to filter out impurities and remove most of the non-cannabinoid compounds, including terpenes, flavonoids and essential fatty acids. This process results in a product with a honey-like consistency that is odorless and tasteless.

  • Pro: Distillate CBD retains the plant cannabinoids, including minor cannabinoids and THC (less than 0.3%). Distillate is often used in vape products, edibles and topical products given its high concentration, purity and lack of odor or taste. This results in a more consistent product.
  • Con: Distillate CBD undergoes additional post-processing extraction. Also, it provides a narrower range of plant-based benefits when compared to full spectrum products.

Isolate CBD: Pure Cannabidiol

Isolate CBD is the purest form of CBD available, consisting of approximately 99% CBD in white powder form. Unlike distillate, CBD isolate doesn’t contain any other cannabinoids or plant compounds. This makes it a favorite among people, such as professional athletes, who cannot risk ingesting even trace amounts of THC. Products made with isolate CBD are often labeled as “No THC,” though you’d want to check the Certificate of Analysis (COA) test results to ensure this is true.

Our Leaf411 nurses recommend using isolate CBD consumer products that are designed to provide consistent, pre-dosed administration, and which are manufactured by reputable companies, such as our member partners.   While isolate CBD is also sold as bulk powder, we have concerns about product quality and dosing.

  • Pro: Isolate CBD does not contain any THC, making it the safest bet for people who cannot risk positive drug tests. Manufacturers use isolate CBD that they mix into their drink products, foods (edibles), topical products or tinctures, while isolate CBD wax can be dabbed but should be used with caution. 
  • Con: The drawbacks are similar to those we discussed with distillate CBD. Isolate CBD’s purity means that many other beneficial plant compounds have been stripped out.

How to Choose the Best Type of CBD

We wish there was an easy cheat sheet or quiz for finding the best type of CBD. Beyond a few basic considerations, though, it can be a process of trial and error.

We encourage you to continue your journey into finding reliable, accurate CBD information from reputable sources. One of our favorite sources is ProjectCBD.  You can find more CBD 101 information that we stand behind at this link

Our Leaf411 cannabis-trained nurses are happy to provide guidance on the different types of CBD and how they might help address your specific needs. Call our free, anonymous hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for medically-sound answers to your cannabis and hemp questions.


Your New Year’s Resolutions – And How Cannabis Might Help

Look at the top New Year’s resolutions and you probably won’t be surprised. Most goals are focused on healthy choices—eating better, sleeping more, exercising. At their core, our resolutions are about finding better balance in our lives.

You might be surprised to learn that legal cannabis and hemp CBD can support your goals for better balance. The key is to use these products in moderation together with other positive lifestyle changes.

You Have an Endocannabinoid System – And It’s Made for Balance!

Your body already has a built-in system for maintaining internal balance (also called homeostasis)—the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system exists in humans and most animals. It plays an important role in regulating metabolism, sleep, mood, and immunity, along with other functions.

Your body’s ECS contains two types of cannabinoid (CB) receptors: CB1 and CB2.

  • CB1 receptors are found in your central nervous system—primarily your brain and spine. These receptors play a role in memory, behavior, appetite, motor control, and perception of pain.
  • CB2 receptors exist throughout the body, helping to control inflammation and immune response.

Your body makes endocannabinoids which bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, signaling when your body’s system needs to take action to maintain or restore internal balance.

You can also use products which contain cannabinoids that interact with these same CB1 and CB2 receptors to help bring balance.

There are many different cannabinoids. These include cannabidiol, better known as CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Both are present in cannabis. THC provides the “high” that many people associate with cannabis, while CBD doesn’t have any Intoxicating effects.

When thinking about the connection between your ECS and cannabis, it’s helpful to look at how you already use medicines to help your body. For example, your body generates pain-killing endorphins in response to pain, but you can also take ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation. With cannabis, the difference is that endocannabinoids (produced by your body) and cannabinoids (produced by the cannabis plant) are very similar to one another, which minimizes unwanted side effects.

Kickstarting Your Resolutions with a Good Night’s Sleep

Better sleep may not be on your list of New Year’s resolutions. However, being well-rested will definitely help you achieve your goals!

While many of us get the recommended amount of sleep each night, the quality of that sleep isn’t great for a lot of folks. The National Sleep Foundation reports that over a third of Americans report low-quality sleep.

Many people are discovering that cannabis and CBD hemp products help them relax, fall asleep, and wake up more well-rested. However, finding a product that works for you may take time, and the options can feel overwhelming!

If you are interested in using flower (the plant buds), start with indica-dominant or hybrid cannabis strains that are known to promote good sleep. These strains also contain beneficial plant compounds called terpenes that help with sleep as well.

Cannabis edibles designed for sleep are also an appealing option for many people. While edibles take longer to kick in than smoking or vaping, their effects also last longer. This means that if you wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, you might feel unexpectedly high. Edibles also have a reputation for causing brain fog in some people when they wake up, though this isn’t the case for everyone. Timing is key when consuming your product. Our nurses at Leaf411 can help guide you in the right direction for the best edible dosage and timing. 

Also, you’ll want to check the label on any edibles or tinctures for the full list of ingredients. Manufacturers sometimes add melatonin, valerian or other herbs to boost their product’s sleep-inducing power. It’s up to you to decide whether those added ingredients are needed or not.

Our founding members at 1906 have put exhaustive research and refinement into their formulation, Midnight, because sleep issues are one of the most prevalent health problems Americans face. Midnight’s key ingredient, corydalis, has been used for millennia, and works in several crucial ways which maybe why it’s 1906’s best-selling product!

Cannabis plays a useful role in improving sleep quality, though too much THC and CBD can be counterproductive, increasing alertness or anxiety, or leaving you feeling groggy the following day. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may want to look for a product with lower THC and CBD concentrations or try CBD hemp products instead.

Some people prefer products that don’t contain THC, either due to employment-related concerns with drug testing, anxiety or personal preference. CBD  isolate products provide a great alternative—but make sure you ask for a COA (Certificate of Analysis) prior to purchasing to ensure it has zero THC.

It’s important to note that CBD is not a sedative. It will not knock you out like a prescription sleep medication. Instead, CBD’s power comes from its potential to reduce anxiety and pain while also helping to regulate sleep. Hemp-based products are widely available online and in retail stores, eliminating the need to visit a dispensary (though many dispensaries may carry CBD products as well). Remember to look for reputable manufacturers who provide COAs to back up their product quality.

Our founding member Altus’s mission is to empower you to make the most educated and personal choice when selecting a cannabis product. They created helpful Pillars to categorize their products based on users’ needs. Their Ritual products are low-dose thc or non-intoxicating products designed for daily lifestyle needs. That includes maintaining endocannabinoid system balance, managing minor issues, and helping to get better rest. 

If you’ve ever talked to our Leaf411 nurses, you’ll know that cannabis is only part of the picture when it comes to better sleep. We also encourage you to look at underlying issues and bedtime habits that may be keeping you up at night. Even the strongest indica can only do so much, if your nighttime routine includes scrolling through drama-filled threads on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram

Our Leaf411 hotline nurses are happy to discuss the pros and cons of different cannabis sleep products with you. Call our free, anonymous hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for guidance specific to your needs.

CBD-Powered Workout Recovery

Exercise tops many peoples’ lists of resolutions. Sadly, it’s a resolution that many people quickly abandon for well-known reasons: the goal isn’t specific enough; it’s not stated positively; or it doesn’t answer the “why”—that is, why the goal is important to you. Many articles provide helpful tips for sticking with your exercise goals (like habit tracking or setting specific goals or identifying why you’re doing it).

We have an additional suggestion for keeping your exercise resolutions: CBD. Waking up early on cold, dark winter mornings is hard enough without fighting against soreness from the previous days’ workout. Many professional athletes use CBD products for pain and post-game recovery. You don’t need to be a pro player to tap into the benefits of CBD, though!

Our founding members over at Arcanum have been dedicated to producing products that complement active lifestyles. They were the first company to sponsor a professional sports team in the United States and know a thing or two about recovery!  

Arcanum Edge’s Sarco Freeze topical cooling gel comes in two different strengths, and combines CBD with arnica, menthol and other herbs to provide immediate post-workout relief while also soothing sore muscles. Sarco Freeze received a positive review by the Athletes for Care Tastemakers program, which is made up of professional athletes. 

They also offer Sarco Skin, the first CBD and menthol-infused kinesiology tape and The Coil family of tinctures which are terpene-infused for more benefits and bioavailability.

Arcanum Edge’s best-selling product is The Quill transdermal gel delivery pen. The Quill provides patented transdermal delivery of a precise microdose of full spectrum extract and terpenes. Leaf411 is proud to  support Arcanum Edge as a trusted source for performance-driven CBD products. Arcanum Edge products are third-party tested with their COAs available online. They also provide a 30-day, 100% money back guarantee.

Out of Balance: Too Much Cannabis?

Cannabis is a tool, not a magic cure-all. While we enthusiastically support the benefits that this plant provides, we also caution that you can overdo it with any medicine, including cannabis. If you would like help cutting down on your marijuana use or switching to different types of products (for example, switching from smokable flower to edibles), our Leaf411 cannabis-trained nurses can help by providing non-judgmental, balanced guidance. We also provide resources at our online library.

Are you interested in exploring cannabis or hemp CBD’s health benefits in 2020, but not sure where to start? Our nurses can help! Call our free, anonymous hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411).

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.


Leaf411 Question of the Month - December 2019

By Katherine Golden, RN
Leaf411 CEO

Each month, I’ll share insights on questions we receive at the Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline. While the hotline is anonymous, we keep track of the types of questions we get so that we can continually improve our services.

A Surprising Cannabis Question

One issue I hear all the time, including when we’re out at events like our Veteran’s Day booth, is that people think they have to inhale to get the medicinal benefits from cannabis. It’s surprising to me that this misconception is still prevalent across all age groups.

For those of us in the industry, we know that many different THC and CBD product types are out there—edibles, tinctures, transdermal patches and gels. Sometimes we assume that everyone else knows about these options as well. But when I discuss ways that cannabis can be consumed, people are surprised and have a lot of questions about which route might work best for them.

For example, I recently had a caller who wanted to try cannabis for a specific health concern but was worried how it might impact their liver issues. They had no idea that transdermal patches were an option. When I suggested a transdermal patch, they responded, “Oh, like a pain patch!” It was a medication delivery method the caller knew how to use, and it offered a safe alternative. Transdermal patches deliver THC, CBD and other cannabinoids directly to the bloodstream, bypassing the liver.

I also educated the caller about transdermal gel pens which are used on the venous areas like the inside of the wrist. They were just blown away that these types of advanced products exist in our market. Calls like this really underscore the need for education.

At Leaf411, Our Priority Is Always the Public

Our priority at Leaf411 is always the public, helping people find the best information and resources for safe cannabis use.

When I get a call, my first priority is to listen and understand why the caller wants to go down this road. I’ll ask questions about products they’re already using. If they haven’t tried cannabis yet, I’ll ask why they want to start and what their goals are.

I also spend a lot of time discussing balance. Cannabis by itself is not a magic bullet. I ask questions about callers’ activities of daily living, diet, exercise and sleep as well.

Cannabis is a plant that is shown to have benefits. However, it’s only one part of lifestyle changes that I and the other nurses encourage callers to consider.

I recently talked to someone who thought they would need to move to a different state to access legal cannabis. In fact, their home state has legalized medical cannabis, and hemp CBD products are available to be shipped to most states. They had not considered these options before our conversation.

My goal is to offer solutions that are financially sound and accessible, based on each caller’s unique situation and needs.

When it Comes to Cannabis, More is Not Always Better

We tend to think more is better. Based on my conversations with callers, that attitude has extended into cannabis and hemp CBD as well. But the latest science is showing that sometimes just a small amount  of cannabis can provide symptom relief. We don’t need to flood our systems, when it comes to what most people are trying to treat.

Also, there is a point where you can take too much marijuana, or even too much hemp CBD. I educate callers about precautions they need to take when using cannabis, just like there would be precautions with any other medications.

Launching the Leaf411 Chat Feature

We want to create the best service possible at Leaf411. It was important for us to get the phone hotline up and running, making sure it was a positive experience for people who contacted us, before adding other options to connect.

Last week, we launched the chat function on our website, providing an additional option for people to contact us.

When someone begins a chat with me, I bring the same level of attention to their concerns. I may start off chatting with someone online and then ask them to call the hotline to talk if at all possible.

People have so much to say, and tone of voice is so important to understanding someone’s needs and concerns. My hope is that the human touch that I and the other nurses provide through the phone hotline will reassure callers, even those who initially reached out to us via chat.

Call or chat our free, anonymous hotline today at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for answers to your cannabis questions!


Leaf411 Holiday Gift Guide

Share Your Love of CBD with Family and Friends

Whether you shop online, at the big box stores, or in local craft markets, you’ll likely come across CBD-based gifts for everyone, including the family dog.

Perhaps you’ve had good experiences with CBD products. It makes sense that you would want to provide the gift of CBD (which is also sometimes called hemp) to friends and loved ones who could also benefit from this wonderful plant.

You may also be looking for the perfect gift for yourself, as someone who’s curious to try CBD hemp as part of your wellness regimen.

Leaf411 is happy to present our CBD hemp gift guide, highlighting gift-worthy products from our partner business members. We fully review all our members to ensure their products are compliant with all regulations and are manufactured to the highest standards.

We also share tips for steering away from products that are little more than a lump of coal. After all, no one wants to give a gift that’s a dud.

Is Hemp for Everyone? A Word of Caution Before You Give

So you’re thinking about buying that awesome CBD tincture for you Aunt Deborah who complains of stiffness in the wintertime. Before you pull out your credit card, ask yourself these questions about the person you’re buying a gift for:

  • Are they pregnant, breastfeeding, or under the age of 18? There’s simply not enough evidence yet about on either side of the issue—risks versus benefits—when it comes to how CBD impacts developing fetuses, infants, children and teens. For that reason, Leaf411 suggests sticking with topical products like skin cream for this group.
  • Are they undergoing chemotherapy, taking blood thinners or other long-term medications? Cannabidiol works through the endocannabinoid system, with endocannabinoids broken down by enzymes. CBD is metabolized through specific liver enzymes that also play an important role in metabolizing certain medications. In short, CBD may impact certain medications in a similar way that grapefruit does. We recommend sticking with topical products for these folks to try first, which carry the lowest risk of medication interaction. Also, either you or your gift recipient are encouraged to consult with a physician or call our free nurse hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for help with your questions.
  • Do they have a job that requires drug testing? This is a tricky issue. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp products containing less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that provides the cannabis “high.” THC levels in full-spectrum CBD products are so low that you will not feel any psychoactive effects—however, there’s debate about whether they could trigger a positive drug test result. For people who work in construction, transportation, public safety, healthcare, the military or other industries, full-spectrum CBD may not be worth the risk of a career-ending positive drug test.

If you’re determined to buy a hemp-based gift for someone who has concerns about drug testing or is worried about even miniscule THC content, stay away from full-spectrum CBD products. Instead, look for products that specifically say “No THC” on the label, or which are either broad-spectrum or CBD isolate.

Broad spectrum products “should” have all THC removed, though the beneficial terpenes and flavonoids remain. Terpenes, which are present in both cannabis and hemp plants, do not impact drug tests. However, terpenes and cannabidiol work together creating the beneficial entourage effect.

CBD isolate products “should” contain only CBD. All THC, terpenes and flavonoids are removed by the manufacturer.

Why do we emphasize the word “should” when describing different product types? The CBD hemp industry currently lacks clear product labeling standards, and some manufacturers confuse the terms “full spectrum” and “broad spectrum” in their advertising and on product labels.

This makes finding brands you trust especially important when looking for THC-free CBD. Does the manufacturer provide a certificate of analysis (COA) for their product? These are often listed on the manufacturer website in their own section (look along the main website header or footer for a link). COA lab results will verify whether the product contains trace amounts of THC. The COA will also confirm whether the product provides the CBD as advertised.

Leaf411 member businesses provide COAs for their products. Their customer support teams can help you find an item that fits your loved one’s needs, as well.

Our Leaf411 hotline nurses are also available to walk you through any manufacturers’ COA to determine if the product will deliver on its promises. Call us toll-free at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) with your questions.

How to Choose CBD Hemp Gifts that Fit

When it comes to gifts for hemp newbies, stick with products that have familiar features and lower concentrations of CBD. Most everyone is familiar with how to use body lotion even if it contains cannabidiol. On the other hand, a CBD dab rig might be too extreme for Grandma!

Want something special for a friend who already uses CBD? Look for clues with the products they already use. Do they prefer topical creams? If so, look for new CBD hemp body care items they might like to try.

Hemp-Based Gifts for Skin Care and Beauty Enthusiasts

Hemp-based skincare products feel amazing during the cold, dry winter season. Cannabinol (CBD) has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that helps restore stressed dry skin. There are minimal risks associated with hemp skin care products, though you’ll want to carefully check the product label for other ingredients that could be irritating or unwanted. Check the manufacturer’s COA to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for when it comes to CBD content. Also, beware that hemp seed oil is not the same as cannabidiol/CBD—we explain the difference below.

This holiday season, Leaf411 business member Color Up Therapeutics is offering special hemp holiday sets geared toward relaxation, rejuvenation and travel. Gift sets like these provide a great opportunity to test out different hemp-based products!

CBD Products Designed for Guys

Men appreciate high-quality skin and hair products that are created just for them. CBD shaving cream and beard oil are growing in popularity, with many men finding they make for a better shave. Remember to always check the product ingredients and COA.

Clean Coconut, one of our founding members, offers Man Scrub to scour away dirt and grime while moisturizing skin. While this product is marketed toward men, we have a feeling there are women out there who might appreciate it as well!

Performance-Driven Hemp Gifts for Athletes

There’s been strong interest in CBD among professional and amateur athletes and it’s no wonder—high-quality hemp-based products can make a noticeable difference in post-game recovery. Since the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from the list of banned substances in 2017, athletes across multiple sports are using hemp to improve performance and reduce recovery times. It’s important to note that THC is still banned, though, so make sure any gifts for competitive athletes are THC-free.

Companies like Arcanum, one of our founding members, have developed products tailored to athletes’ needs, including beginner-friendly salt soaks and topical cooling gels.

CBD Pet Treats for Fido

At Leaf411, we love sharing dog-approved CBD treats with our four-legged friends. CBD can keep your dog’s tail wagging through the stressful holiday season. Older dogs also benefit from hemp-based treats during the wintertime, when colder temperatures limit outdoor activity and aggravate arthritis.

Everyone knows that chocolate is bad for dogs. But did you know that your CBD gummies and flavored tinctures may contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs?

When shopping for canine gifts, stick with CBD oil and treats developed specifically for pets. These products come in dog-friendly doses, often with flavors that your best friend will appreciate, like Arcanum’s Hemp Bacon pet tincture.

Our partner Color Up Therapeutics also offers pet CBD drops that include fish oil as a beneficial addition to cannabidiol.

Not sure about where to start with CBD and your pet? Veterinary Cannabis provides guidance to pet parents, veterinarians, and product creators about the medicinal properties of cannabis, as well as how to use CBD products with pets. Their Veterinary Cannabis library is a good place to start!

Don’t Forget the Family Cat!

If you’re a cat owner, you likely know that supplements and medications can be trickier with felines. Doses are different, and individual cats may respond differently to the same medications. Despite the challenges in finding the right CBD product for your cat and convincing them to ingest it, many cat owners report success.

Online retailer CBD Garage sells Earth Buddy brand hemp treats for dogs and cats that contain a blend of CBD, mushrooms and herbs.

Tips for Buying High-Quality CBD Hemp Gifts

CBD products are legal across the United States and are widely available in stores and online. Your biggest challenge can be finding a retailer you trust:

  • Can the seller answer your questions about specific product ingredients?
  • Do they provide COAs for products they’re selling, or know where to find them online?
  • Does the retailer offer customer support in case you or the gift recipient have questions or concerns?

Leaf411 business member CBD Garage is a good example of a responsible, trustworthy online retailer that ships products across the U.S. They offer a wide range of hemp-based products for people and pets, along with education and robust customer support.

Last Thoughts: Hemp Seed is Not the Same as CBD

Before we wrap up our gift guide, let’s talk about what isn’t CBD. Hemp seed or hemp seed oil, also called cannabis sativa seed oil, contains only trace amounts of CBD. While hemp seed oil may provide beneficial essential fatty acids for hair and skin, it likely won’t provide the benefits of cannabidiol that you’re looking for.

Product branding can make it tough, too. For example, a popular body care brand features a cannabis leaf and tag lines like “Get Baked,” though their ingredient lists make it clear that the products contain only hemp seed oil.

Some products contain both CBD and also hemp seed oil as the carrier agent that the CBD is infused into—these products will list both CBD and hemp seed oil separately.

Other brands confuse CBD oil with hemp seed oil, acting as if they are the same thing in order to charge the premium prices associated with CBD.

We’re not saying that hemp seed oil products don’t make great gifts—but if your goal is to provide the benefits of cannabidiol, these products won’t deliver.

With all the name variations, it can be easy to get confused! Just remember that hemp seed oil and cannabis sativa seed oil are the same thing, and do not contain significant amounts of CBD.

We Can Help

Still contemplating that CBD dab rig for Grandma? While our cannabis-trained nurses can’t do your holiday shopping for you, we’re happy to provide balanced information, including the pros and cons of different CBD hemp products. Contact us at the free hotline: 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411)


Support Leaf411 on Giving Tuesday

The 2018 Farm Bill turns one year old on December 20, 2019. This federal law fully legalized hemp cultivation and sales, making cannabidiol/CBD products widely available online and in retail stores.

Now, everyone and their grandma are trying out hemp products. And with legal medical and recreational cannabis expanding to additional states, many people are also curious about THC-based products.

But what happens when people have questions?

Federal and state laws don’t fully address the need for consumer education on safe, effective cannabis use. In fact, hemp and cannabis producers, manufacturers, retailers and dispensaries are prohibited from making specific health claims about their products.

That’s where we come in. Leaf411 nurses have the professional medical background and training to provide balanced education and support for safe, legal cannabis use.

Donate to the nonprofit Leaf411 nurse hotline today to expand our free service to even more people with questions about hemp or cannabis.

Note: Our Giving Tuesday fundraiser is set up in Facebook. They’re matching the first $7 million in donations made via the platform on Dec 3. Contribute now to boost your donation’s impact!

You may also donate via PayPal. Contributions made via PayPal don’t count toward the Facebook Giving Tuesday challenge; however, we appreciate them just as much!

Your contribution supports our goals to:

  • Increase our hotline coverage while maintaining our commitment to pay our cannabis-trained nurses a living wage.
  • Increase our community-based outreach. We know that not everyone is online. That’s why we launched the free Leaf411 hotline, and why we’re also focused on in-person events to meet people where they are at.
  • Strengthen our nonprofit’s foundation of support. As we grow, new doors will open. This includes our ability to participate in future Colorado Gives events. However, we need your help to get there! Colorado Gives  and many grant programs require that nonprofits show existing support to qualify. Every dollar you donate today helps us unlock new funding sources.

Are you able to help on Giving Tuesday to support Leaf411’s mission? Donate via our Facebook fundraiser.

Why Leaf411 is a Needed Resource

Manufacturers and retailers are prohibited by law from talking about how CBD and cannabis may impact specific health conditions.

Also, many doctors say they are unprepared to answer patient questions about medical marijuana, despite the majority of those doctors also saying they believed cannabis can serve a legitimate medical purpose for patients, according to a 2019 Mayo Clinic survey. The reality is that less than 10% of medical schools even address medical marijuana, leaving many new doctors unable to answer questions. And older doctors likely don’t have any cannabis education at all.

The Leaf411 hotline provides an important service with cannabis-trained registered nurses ready to answer your questions at no cost to you.

Our hotline nurses are members of the American Cannabis Nurses Association and have completed specialized training on cannabis through Radicle Health. We stay up to date on the latest research to ensure that the information we provide reflects best practice. We also regularly connect with other cannabis clinicians to share knowledge and resources.

Our nurses are committed to Leaf411’s mission to provide callers with balanced education and directional support for safe, legal cannabis use. We are deeply grateful for their dedication and are committed to paying a living wage for their work.

Help support our nurses. Donate to our Facebook fundraiser.

Meeting the Community Where They Are At

Who uses cannabis? While market research shows that younger adults make up the majority of consumers, older adults represent one of the fastest growing groups of cannabis users. It’s no surprise, given the potential benefits of cannabis. However, many seniors struggle to find sound medical guidance for using cannabis, including the best delivery method and dosage, as well as benefits and risks that are specific to older adults.

Our cannabis-trained nurses have the medical background to answer seniors’ questions, but first we need to let them know we’re available.

Older adults are not online in the same way younger people are. We know the most effective way to reach out to this population is by participating in community-based events where we can introduce ourselves, build trust and awareness of the free Leaf411 hotline service.

Our focus isn’t limited to older adults, either. We’ve also partnered with our founding members and veteran’s organizations on outreach events for military veterans. Veterans face unique challenges in accessing medical advice for safe, therapeutic cannabis use, with VA physicians essentially prohibited from discussing cannabis as a treatment option. Through partnering with organizations like Veterans for Natural Rights, we’ve built a deeper understanding of veterans’ unique needs, and are honored to provide support to those who sacrificed for our country.

Veterans visit the Leaf411 cannabis nurse booth during Denver’s Veteran’s Day event.

We have more community outreach planned for the coming year, but we need your support to make it happen.

Can you help us reach more veterans, seniors, and others who are seeking personalized information on safe cannabis use? Donate via our Facebook fundraiser.

We are thrilled to participate in the national Giving Tuesday event on December 3, as a Colorado 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Every dollar raised today helps unlock new funding sources in the future.

The annual Colorado Gives event takes place on December 10, a week after Giving Tuesday. Did you know that in order to participate in Colorado Gives, a nonprofit must show $50,000 in annual revenue?

As a newly launched nonprofit, we’re making good progress on qualifying for next year’s Colorado Gives—but we need your help to get us over the finish line! Contribute today via our Facebook fundraiser.

Qualifying for future Colorado Gives events is important. Our visibility to potential donors and potential callers will increase by participating in the Colorado Gives event. We’ll also be eligible for a portion of the $1.5 million incentive fund shared between participating Colorado Gives nonprofits.

By demonstrating strong community support, we’ll qualify for other grants and in-kind donations as well.

Any amount you give, no matter what that is, moves us closer to our goals. Please contribute to the Leaf411 hotline today. Donate via our Facebook fundraiser where your contribution may be matched, amplifying its impact!.

You may also donate via PayPal. Contributions made via PayPal don’t count toward the Facebook Giving Tuesday challenge; however, they are appreciated just as much!


Is Vaping Safe?

Leaf411’s Position on Vaping

Our mission at Leaf411 is to provide balanced information and guidance for safe, legal cannabis use. We’re closely monitoring emerging Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research around vaping to make sure our advice reflects the latest information. Health officials’ findings point to what we’ve long known—that in the current cannabis environment, the burden is on consumers to ask questions and carefully review products for safety and efficacy.

Below, we’ll share what we know about the current health concerns related to vaping and guidelines for selecting safe vape products. And of course, we always welcome your questions at the free Leaf411 nurse hotline: 1-844-LEAF411 (1-844-532-3411).

Different Types of Vape Products

When we talk about vapes, what do we mean?

Vapes, or e-cigarettes, were first used with nicotine-based cartridges as an alternative to conventional cigarettes. JUUL is a popular nicotine-based brand that offered mint and fruit-flavored nicotine cartridges until very recently. In addition to nicotine-based vapes, some vapes in this category contain only flavoring and additives to produce unmistakable clouds of vapor.

Vape pens and cartridges expanded into the cannabis market as states began legalizing recreational and medical marijuana. Many people have found they prefer to vape THC and CBD oil. Vaping is more discreet than smoking cannabis and produces less odor. Vaping can also preserve beneficial terpenes that are destroyed by high heat when smoking flower. THC and CBD vape cartridges may contain additional terpenes or flavoring as well.

Some devices are designed for vaping flower, or buds, as well as vape oils, while others are designed solely for either oil or flower.

What’s Causing Vaping-Associated Lung Injuries?

Health officials have connected the spike in vaping-associated lung injuries (VAPI) to additives used in some vape cartridges, notably Vitamin E acetate, as well as polyethylene glycol (PEG), medium chain triglycerides (MCT oil), and other emulsifiers. These ingredients are especially common in illicit vape cartridges.

Public health officials have responded differently across the country. In Massachusetts, the governor banned all vape products—including nicotine and cannabis oil vapes and flower vapes—for four months, sparking protests and court challenges. The ban has reportedly pushed medical cannabis patients to seek out vape-based plant medicine in nearby states. Cannabis advocates also worry that these blanket bans could push more consumers to illicit underground markets where they face much higher risk of encountering dangerous products.

Other states, including Colorado, are seeking to strengthen regulation through legislation to prohibit use of certain additives in vape products.

You can find an updated list of vape bans and restrictions here.

For the time being, it’s on consumers to check product labels for problematic ingredients in vape cartridges.

How to Tell if a Vape Cartridge is Safe

Not all vape cartridges are created equal. The CDC is finding that many of the vape-associated lung injuries and deaths are connected to unlicensed products that contain vitamin E acetate and other problematic ingredients. How do you find a safe vape cartridge?

  • Purchase your vape products only through state-licensed cannabis retailers or licensed delivery services.
  • Avoid concentrates that contain additives such as Vitamin E acetate, polyethylene glycol (PEG), propylene glycol (PG), MCT oil, coconut oil or any other emulsifiers or synthetic agents. While some of these ingredients are safe to eat, they are not safe to inhale.
  • Use flower that is cultivated using organic standards, or concentrates that are third-party tested and strictly designed for vaping.
  • Recently, there’s been an explosion of topical and sublingual THC and CBD products—these are not formulated for inhalation and should not be used in refillable vape cartridges!

Most legal dispensaries and delivery services can help provide access to certificates of analysis (COA) for the products they carry. The lab results on a COA include the cannabinoid profile, pesticide testing, etc. Budtenders, clinicians and Leaf411 nurses can help answer your questions about the COA.

Looking for a manufacturer or dispensary you can trust? Check out the Leaf411 member directory.

Avoid Illegal and Counterfeit Vape Products

The easiest way to avoid illicit vape cartridges is to always buy your products from legal dispensaries who provide COA lab results for the products they sell.

Don’t buy vape products sold through illicit (black) market sources or from non-licensed dispensaries. These products are likely not tested and can be easily counterfeited. The vast majority of products implicated in recent vape-related illnesses and deaths came from illicit vendors. In addition to problematic additives, many illicit vape pods have been found to contain dangerous synthetic marijuana instead of actual CBD or THC.

When it comes to spotting counterfeit vape cartridges, the internet is your friend. Look up the manufacturer’s online product images to see if the packaging is the same as the product in front of you. Suspiciously high or low THC or CBD levels may also be a tip-off that something isn’t right. Also, look for legally mandated labeling and icons on the packaging. Leafly offers additional tips for spotting counterfeit cartridges here.

If you believe you have a counterfeit or illicit cartridge, toss it. You may lose a few dollars, but it’s not worth the risk to your health to use it.

Is Your Vape Pen Safe?

You’ve done your homework to ensure your vape cartridges are additive-free and backed by lab results. How about your vape pen?

Vape pens may contain heavy metals and other low-quality materials that carry long-term health impacts. Before buying a vape pen, research online or ask your dispensary budtender to review the vape pen’s technical specifications. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Where was the vape manufactured?
  • Is the vape made from medical grade materials?
  • Does the vape have plastic near the heating element?
  • Does the vape manufacturer have a good reputation in the industry and stand behind their product quality?

You’ll also want to consider whether the vape is compatible with the cannabis products you plan to use.

Leaf411 hotline nurses can help with your questions about vape safety. Call us toll free at 1-844-LEAF411 (1-844-532-3411).

What About Vaping Flower?

Dry herb vaporizers provide an alternative to smoking THC and CBD flower (buds), and may also allay some concerns about additives in vape cartridges. Dry herb vapes are specially designed for heating cannabis flower and converting the resins into vapor that is inhaled. Many people find it easier to vape flower instead of smoking it. Also, dry herb vaporizers use lower heat than combustion (smoking), which preserves more of the terpenes.

When purchasing flower, you’ll want to use the same guidelines for finding safe, high-quality products. Buy organically cultivated flower from state-licensed dispensaries or delivery services who can provide COA lab results for the product.

Watch Out for Vape-Related Symptoms

The CDC has been monitoring vape-associated lung injuries (VAPI) throughout the United States. Patients with VAPI reported the following symptoms that developed over days or weeks prior to their diagnoses:

  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea
  • Fever, chills, or weight loss
  • No other explanation for symptoms

With the winter influenza and respiratory virus season upon us, it can be hard to determine the source of illness. Leaf411 encourages you to truthfully report all vape use to your medical providers when seeking treatment for any illness. As Jon Doneson’s story illustrates, it could help save your life.

Vaping is Not for Everyone

Leaf411 advocates for safe cannabis use. To that end, there are specific populations that we advise against vaping:

  • Pregnant and/or Breastfeeding Women: Leaf411 does NOT promote or suggest using any form of cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding unless specifically recommended by a physician, due to lack of consistent, reliable research on either side of the issue.
  • Teens and Young Adults: Leaf411 does not encourage, suggest or promote underage use (<21 years old) of any cannabis products on a recreational basis. Our nurses are available to educate teens and young adults on the risks of cannabis use and vaping specific to their population. Teens are especially susceptible to buying illicit vape cartridges from friends or other informal sources. Note: For patients under 18 years old who have an MMJ card, our hotline nurses may discuss medical use with a parent or legal guardian on the phone.

Leaf411’s cannabis-trained nurses are happy to talk with you about whether vaping is a safe option for you. Please call us toll-free at 1-844-LEAF411 (1-844-532-3411).

Where Leaf411 and Our Founding Members Stand

Many people in the cannabis industry, including Leaf411 and our founding members, advocate for full legalization of cannabis nationwide, along with stronger regulatory oversight to ensure a safe marketplace for consumers. A legal, well-regulated market will sharply limit the ability of bad players to manufacture and sell illicit products. National legalization will also open the doors to research on the medical benefits of cannabis, along with the safest and most effective routes of administration.

Have other questions about vaping? Our Leaf411 nurses can help! Call our free nurse hotline at 1-844-LEAF411 (1-844-532-3411).


Welcome to the Leaf411™ Blog

The Leaf411 Cannabis Nurse hotline is a FREE non-profit hotline available to all Colorado residents. We provide easily accessible cannabis education and support from trained medical professionals. When you call our free hotline, you’ll receive individualized answers to your questions. Our hotline phone number is: 1-844-LEAF411 (1-844-532-3411).

We also realize you might not have a specific question yet, or you may only be looking for general information. Our Leaf411 Blog is written for you. We provide information on trusted resources, research, cannabis news, and how-to guides for safely using cannabis and hemp products.

What You’ll Find on Our Cannabis Blog

We’re passionate about providing high-quality balanced information about legal cannabis use. Our blog provides an outlet for us to share cannabis resources to help you on your journey, whether you are new to cannabis or are already using cannabis recreationally or medically.

Not a cannabis user? We still have you covered! Our blog covers issues that impact all of us. Recreational and medical marijuanalegalization continues to spread across the country, and CBD and hemp products have earned their own spot in retail stores.Leaf411 is committed to providing balanced information to help you sort through the products that your patients, family members or friends may be talking about.

The People Behind the Leaf411 Cannabis Nurse Hotline

Our commitment is driven by firsthand experience after seeing the healing power of cannabis in our own lives and in the clinical setting. All of our hotline nurses are members of the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) and have completed specialized training. You can learn more about our nurses here.

Leaf411’s Founding Members

You’ll notice a growing list of founding members in our Member Directory. Our founding members support our nonprofit’s mission to provide free clinician-based cannabis education to consumers and industry partners. We screen all potential member businesses to ensure they meet our standards. Watch for future blog posts featuring our founding members’ perspectives on cannabis consumers’ needs.

Leaf411’s Cannabis Resource Library

We also offer a robust online resource library where you’ll find FAQs, disease-specific articles, information on how to get a Colorado medical marijuana card, and links to crisis lines and support groups. We always welcome your calls as well!

Sharing Our Cannabis Success Stories

Every day, more people are seeking out cannabis and hemp/CBD products to find relief and improve wellness. While you’ll certainly find those benefits within the space, you’ll also find an incredible community made up of people who have experienced the power of plant-based medicine. By sharing our stories, we help to remove the stigma and outdated stereotypes surrounding cannabis and hemp.

Katherine Golden, RN, Leaf411 co-founder’s story:

My journey in cannabis started 3 years ago when a close family member was suddenly diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. He was in his 40s with kids in high school, and he’d never smoked. The doctors gave him 2-5 years to live. My family was completely devastated.

As a nurse and the medical professional in the family, I immediately researched alternative and less well-known treatment options to supplement my family member’s care. I began looking into the cannabis plant mainly to see how valid the research really was. At the time, I was extremely judgmental about cannabis. However, when I started searching well-known medical research sites like PubMed and ScienceDirect, I found tons of published research supporting the benefits of cannabis. 

I’m happy to say that my family member is going strong 3 years since his cancer diagnosis. We don’t know exactly how the supplemental use of cannabis with his current regimen has helped reduce his tumors. However, everyone—including his non-cannabis physician—is watching his progress closely!

My personal experience led me to work as a lead nurse in a cannabis clinician’s office in Boulder, Colorado, where I met Jennifer, Leaf411’s co-founderEvery day, we saw patients who had benefited from cannabis. However, I realized not everyone had access to cannabis-trained medical professionals. I decided to dedicate myself full-time to my dream of making cannabis information from trained medical professionals readily available to everyone through the Leaf411 hotline. As a nurse, I can assure you that no question is too silly or strange when it comes to cannabis and your health. Give us a call today for help with your cannabis questions.

Jennifer Axcell, Leaf411 co-founder’s story:

I still remember when I started out as a cannabis patient. At the time, my primary care physician had happily prescribed me 13 different narcotics and opiates for chronic pain. However, these medications came with troublesome side effects and risks. When I asked my doctor about using cannabis instead, his answer was, “I don’t know anything about cannabis, I don’t want to know anything about cannabis, it’s federally illegal.” I didn’t know where to go to get answers to my questions about how to use cannabis to treat my chronic pain and PTSD. I was frustrated and confused, but determined to go down this path, even without help from a medical professional.

Three years later, cannabis has undoubtedly changed my life for the better. I also saw how cannabis improved other peoples’ lives while working with Katherine at the cannabis clinician’s office in Boulder, Colorado. Time and time again we saw patients leave with more questions than they came with. For new patients especially, it’s hard to know what questions to ask if you know very little about cannabis. The office we worked at did their best, but we knew much more could be done. After a lot of hard work, we’re thrilled to launch Leaf411 to provide the resource I wish I’d had when I first decided to look into cannabis as medicine.

Check back often as we regularly update our blog with the latest information and resources for the safe use of legal cannabis (marijuana and hemp).