Seed & Smith live resin cannabis concentrate shown on the end of a dabber scoop.

Is Live Resin Cannabis Worth the Cost?

Taking a closer look at what makes live resin different and its potential therapeutic benefits

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

Live resin is really all about terpenes, the delicate aromatic plant compounds that pack a therapeutic punch but can be destroyed during conventional extraction processes. Live resin is extracted using specialized processes that preserve terpenes and other plant compounds, retaining more of the whole plant instead of adding terpenes back in later on.

These terpenes play a big role in the effects you get from different cannabis chemovars (strains), a topic we’ve covered before on the blog.

As dispensary shelves become more crowded, cannabis manufacturers are looking for new ways to differentiate and offer products that meet unique consumer needs and tastes. Products containing live resin, including concentrates, vapes and even edibles, are one way manufacturers are looking to stand out. But from a consumer perspective, is live resin worth seeking out?

What is live resin?

Live resin is full-spectrum concentrate made from freshly harvested cannabis plants that are quickly flash frozen, retaining most plant compounds, including the delicate trichomes containing terpenes and flavonoids. This differentiates it from other concentrates made from dried and cured cannabis plants.

(Wondering what trichomes are? Tomatoes are another familiar plant with trichomes. If you’ve brushed across the tiny hairs on tomato leaves and stems, releasing a strong-smelling substance, then you’ve had a firsthand experience with fresh trichomes!)

Seed & Smith live resin concentrate
Seed & Smith live resin concentrate
Seed & Smith fresh flower featuring terpene-packed trichomes
Seed & Smith fresh flower featuring terpene-packed trichomes

How is live resin produced?

Back to our live resin. The plant flash-freezing process is followed by carefully controlled extraction at low temperatures, retaining all the plant compounds. Some popular extraction methods include hydrocarbon extraction and butane hash oil (BHO) extraction.

It’s important to note legal cannabis manufacturers use modern laboratory equipment and follow commercial fire and safety protocols to ensure the extract is safely produced and tested for any residual solvents. Butane hash oil extraction is something you should NOT try at home!

The live resin extraction process contrasts with more conventional methods where cannabis plants are first dried and cured with heat and decarboxylation to create THC distillate. Depending on the product type, manufacturers may re-introduce terpenes, CBD and other cannabinoids, along with flavoring and other ingredients later in the production cycle to create specific product effects.

Young Black woman with questioning face shrugging, unsure which cannabis product to buy.

Is live resin better than THC distillate products?

Does live resin’s unique extraction process make it superior to products made with THC distillate? Not necessarily.

Live resin is only as good as the quality of the plants that went into its production. In addition, the live resin extraction process is complex and time-consuming. If a manufacturer takes shortcuts, they risk losing valuable terpenes or end up with a product that contains residual solvents.

Also, THC distillate made from dried and cured plants often proves more efficient for ingestible products because it can be more precisely measured into a uniform dose.

Both budget and personal preferences also come into play. You may try a live resin product and love the effects and flavor or alternately be left wondering what the hype is all about.

When it comes to therapeutic benefits, live resin may have an edge, given that it preserves more of the whole plant compounds, including a higher concentration of naturally occurring terpenes than you’ll find in dried flower. Terpenes play an important role in cannabis’s healing power, with a wide range of effects. In a previous blog, we provided tips on how to identify the best terpenes for your needs. 

However, everyone’s endocannabinoid system is just a little bit different when it comes to cannabis, which really is individualized medicine. Our Leaf hotline nurses are experts when it comes to terpenes and the pros and cons of live resin products. They are ready to help with your questions via our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411).

Middle-aged white woman reviewing cannabis information in a notebook, with laptop open on table.

Learning more about live resin product types

Live resin is popping up in more legal cannabis products on today’s dispensary shelves. It can be confusing to sort out all the options! Here’s a quick primer on different live resin products:

Seed & Smith live resin concentrate in a jar with packaging in background.

  • Live resin concentrates: Live resin concentrates can be dabbed (smoked using a specially-designed dab rig), or sprinkled on top of cannabis flower before smoking to enhance flavor and boost potency. Remember that a little goes a long way! Leaf411 supporting member Seed & Smith produces a range of high-quality concentrates extracted from unique, small-batch flower strains. You can see examples of different concentrates at this link.
  • Live resin vapes: Vaping is a common way that people use cannabis concentrates, and live resin vapes are quickly growing in popularity as consumers look for options that reflect the full plant profile. Live resin vapes also should not contain cutting agents like Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), Propylene Glycol (PG) or MCT oil, which can be found in some distillate-based vape cartridges.

Escape Artists Live Resin preroll shown with packaging and included glass tip

  • Live resin prerolls: If you’re curious to discover how live resin can enhance a joint but not sure about rolling one yourself, some brands are now offering live resin-infused prerolls, including our supporting member Escape Artists. Of course, quality matters, which is why Escape Artists combines the best full buds (not shake) and live resin for their prerolls. Remember that a live resin joint is more potent than your standard joint–one puff may be all you need!
  • Live resin edibles: Live resin edibles are newer to the scene. While terpenes primarily interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system via smell, they can also affect the digestive system where many endocannabinoid receptors are located. Brands like Dialed In Gummies are now offering single-strain edibles produced using low-heat sous vide methods to retain all the original plant compounds. (Technically, Dialed In Gummies uses live rosin, which is very similar to live resin, except that extraction does not involve butane or other solvents.)

How to get started with live resin

When trying out a live resin product for the first time, our advice is to start with a low dose and go slow. A little goes a long way! This is especially true with cannabis concentrates that can be very potent, containing up to 90% THC. Going slow also allows you to appreciate the complex terpene profiles you’ll find in live resin products.

Nurse working on laptop and calculator

But is live resin worth it?

Circling back to our original question, which we’re sure is on your mind as well: How much more does live resin cost and is it worth it?

Based on a quick look at two of our Colorado dispensary supporting members, Lightshade and Nature’s Gift Shop, live resin products fetch a premium, typically costing more than their distillate-based counterparts. This makes sense given the time-consuming, complex extraction processes used to make live resin. If you’re eager to explore a wider range of cannabis products, the extra cost may be worth it.

However, if you’re looking for a specific therapeutic benefit from cannabis, the answer is less clear. A lot depends on the health issue you’re dealing with, as well as the type of relief you’re seeking. Our cannabis-trained, fully-licensed Leaf RNs are more than happy to help you determine whether live resin may be a good option, or if a distillate-based product may provide targeted benefits at less cost.

Call our free, anonymous hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411), or chat us from our home page during hotline hours, Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for help with your live resin questions or any other cannabis or CBD hemp questions on your mind!

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.


Smiling older Latino couple sits together on a sunny afternoon, reading the newspaper.

Meeting the Needs of Older Cannabis Users

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

Most calls to our non-profit, RN-staffed Leaf411 hotline are from people who voluntarily self-identify as over the age of 55. That’s no surprise to us—after all, older adults have CBD and marijuana questions that are typically more medically focused in nature, and they’re looking for guidance they can trust.

Close-up of feet standing on asphalt, with arrows pointing all different ways, signaling challenges in finding cannabis information.

Older adults face challenges in finding medically sound cannabis information

Many primary care providers struggle to answer patient questions about the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. (We use the terms “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably when talking about products containing over 0.3% THC which are legally sold in medical and recreational dispensaries.) 

Why do clinicians struggle to answer patients’ questions? In part, it’s due to some clinicians’ lack of knowledge on current cannabis research. Also, many clinicians are restricted by their employers from providing guidance on medical marijuana even when they do have the knowledge. These restrictions are primarily due to marijuana’s ongoing status as a prohibited, federally illegal substance, even though it’s legal in most states.

Hospital employee handbook binder containing policies prohibiting clinicians from discussing cannabis therapeutics with patients.

Several of our Leaf hotline nurses come from hospitals and clinics where they experienced these restrictions firsthand. In fact, one of our Leaf nurses, Natalie Murdoch, BSN, RN, shared her perspective in her guest blog last month (check it out at this link).

Doctors and nurses are leading the effort to de-stigmatize cannabis

Despite the challenges posed by cannabis’s federal status and risk-averse healthcare employers, a growing number of healthcare providers are forging ahead, including Natali and our other Leaf nurses.

Trailblazing doctors are also leading the way in shifting attitudes about cannabis in the medical field. Dr. Peter Grinspoon, who will be featured at our free Leaf Learning Series event “Demystifying Cannabis for Older Adults,” on April 22, 2021, is an outspoken advocate on the therapeutic potential of cannabis.

Equally as passionate is our advisory board member Dr. Dave Gordon at 4Pillars Health & Wellness in Denver and our business supporting member Dr. Margaret Gedde at Vibrant Health Clinic in Colorado Springs. Organizations like Americans for Safe Access, American Cannabis Nurses Association, Radicle Health and our own Eloise Theisen, Chief Nursing Officer at Leaf411, are also working hard to change attitudes around cannabis in healthcare.

While we believe the federal government will make progress soon, either decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis, the reality is that you need answers now.

Smiling nurse with a phone headset on, ready to answer callers’ medical marijuana questions.

Leaf411 is ready to help with your cannabis and CBD hemp questions

If you’re an older adult with questions about marijuana or CBD hemp, we encourage you to join us at our free Leaf Learning Series event, “Demystifying Cannabis for Older Adults,” on April 22, 2021. Click on this link to sign up.

Also, you can find many answers in our online Leaf Library and blog posts covering common questions and concerns we hear from older adults, including:

Don’t forget that our fully-licensed Leaf RNs are ready to help with your questions as well! Our free, anonymous Leaf411 hotline is open Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to answer your cannabis and CBD hemp questions. Call 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.


Five diverse older adults at a park on sunny day, smiling and socializing.

Don’t Miss Our Next Leaf Learning Series: Demystifying Cannabis for Older Adults

Upcoming Leaf Learning Series event features Dr. Peter Grinspoon, addresses older adults’ questions about cannabis

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

If you’re over the age of 50 and new to today’s cannabis products, you’re not alone! In fact, older adults currently make up the fastest-growing group of cannabis consumers in the United States according to recent data reported in the New York Times. We’re proud to say that we were mentioned as a resource in that article, too!

Older adults also make up the majority of callers to our Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline. In 2020, 65% of Leaf411 callers were over the age of 55. The need for clinically-sound guidance around cannabis use for older adults has never been greater. That’s why we’re excited to announce our next Leaf Learning Series event:

Demystifying Cannabis for Older Adults on Thursday, April 22 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. MDT. The free event takes place online, and is open to the public. Event registration is available at this link.

Coffee mug next to laptop showing virtual learning event like the Leaf Learning Series.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Peter Grinspoon Will Lead Candid Conversation on Cannabis and Older Adults

We’re excited to announce that Dr. Peter Grinspoon, Harvard-trained primary care physician and renowned cannabis clinician, will be the keynote speaker at our April 22nd event. Dr. Grinspoon brings 25 years of experience as a cannabis clinician as well as firsthand knowledge of the plant’s therapeutic potential. 

Dr. Grinspoon has been featured as a cannabis expert in national media, including on NBC, C-SPAN, Fox, NPR as well as print publications including People Magazine, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Nation, and the Los Angeles Times.

During our event, you’ll have the opportunity to hear directly from Dr. Grinspoon and ask questions, as time allows.

Cannabis dispensary shelf showing different legal cannabis options.

Navigating the New World of Cannabis

Today’s legal cannabis and CBD hemp products are a far cry from what existed before legalization, back when many of today’s older adults first experimented with marijuana. 

At Leaf411, we know many of you are navigating a whole new world as you seek out alternatives for pain management, sleep issues, stress or other concerns. Our Leaf Learning session on Demystifying Cannabis for Older Adults is designed to help, no matter where you are on your cannabis journey.

Looking back at yesterday’s cannabis, it’s true that marijuana in the 1960s-1980s was less potent. It also was very poor quality, and was sometimes contaminated with dangerous herbicides like paraquat.

State legalization allowed progress in research and innovation around cannabis cultivation, extraction and manufacturing. Product standards also came online, with states testing for contaminants including pesticides and mold.

In other words, today’s cannabis is different—both stronger and safer—than the products you may have bought on the illicit market 40 years ago.

Cannabis edibles, including THC-infused chocolates and cookies.

Not All Cannabis Products Are the Same

Needless to say, today’s expanding range of legal cannabis products have a steeper learning curve when it comes to finding the right product and dose to meet your desired effects. Both new and more experienced users may have misconceptions that can lead to a less-than-ideal outcome.

For example, we once had a caller who was experienced in smoking cannabis flower (bud), but had decided to switch to using cannabis-infused chocolate. The caller assumed edibles would affect him the same way as smoking flower, and inadvertently consumed the entire bar assuming his tolerance to smoking flower would allow him to tolerate a large dose in an edible. Following that experience, he called our hotline for help.

In fact, finding the equivalent dose between flower and edibles can be tricky, because flower lists THC by percentage, and every bud is just a little bit different when it comes to cannabinoid and terpene content. Edibles, on the other hand, list dose by milligrams per serving and are more standardized, though they too can vary due to different batches of raw flower used in the manufacturing process.

Also, when cannabis is ingested, it passes through the digestive system where the liver converts the original Delta-9-THC into 11-hydroxy-THC. The result? A delayed-but-longer-lasting high that many users report feels both stronger and different than the high you get from smoking.

Fortunately for our caller who was switching from flower to edibles, one of our hotline RNs was able to help them dial in their cannabis edible dose moving forward.

Wooden scrabble blocks on a table spelling out “Join Us” with a plant in the background.

We’d Love for You to Join Us for the Leaf Learning Series: Demystifying Cannabis for Older Adults

At Leaf411, our bottom-line goal is that everyone has access to evidenced-based information and guidance on safe cannabis use. That’s why we created the hotline as a nonprofit whose mission is to provide free RN guidance to the public, and why we’re hosting the upcoming Leaf Learning Series event tailored to older adults. It is essential to understand the nuances of the new cannabis market you see today to help you understand what you are truly consuming.  Learning events can provide the peace of mind needed to make an informed decision.

Don’t wait until the last minute to sign up! Free registration is open now at: https://hopin.com/events/leaf-learning-series-demystifying-cannabis-for-the-older-adult 

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.


Smiling couple hike up a sunlit trail with another hiker in the distance.

Building an Inside-Outside Daily Cannabis Routine

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

When our supporting member Escape Artists let us know they were launching new cannabis tinctures, we were curious to learn what inspired the expansion of their product line.

Escape Artists is well known for its fast-acting topical Relief Cream and Recovery Cream, both of which are beloved by many Coloradans. The brand also offers Speed Strips, fast-acting dissolvable strips that deliver THC through the mouth’s mucosal tissue directly into the bloodstream, with effects lasting a couple of hours. These innovations build on the team’s prior experience working in food science and the pharmaceutical industry.

While these fast-acting products are a good fit for an on-the-go lifestyle, Escape Artists began getting requests from consumers and retailers for a longer-acting tincture that could be integrated into wellness routines, creating an inside-outside daily cannabis routine. 

In response, Escape Artists is rolling out three new tinctures:

Escape Artist cannabis tincture bottles for their Bliss, Relief and Calm blends.

  • Lemon Bliss tincture containing 2.5mg THC per 0.75ml serving/dose (100 mg THC per bottle)
  • Tangerine Calm 1:1 ratio tincture with 2.5mg each CBD and THC per 0.75ml serving/dose (100mg CBD and 100mg THC per bottle) 
  • CBD-dominant 20:1 Peppermint Relief tincture with 50mg CBD & 2.5mg THC per 0.75ml serving/dose (2,000mg CBD and 100mg THC per bottle). 

The tinctures are all-natural, containing only: MCT oil, THC distillate and natural flavorings, as well as CBD isolate in the two ratio products. You can learn more about each of the tinctures at this link.

The marked droppers can help you start low and go slow with your dose. 

A typical, safe starting dose for anyone new to THC would be about 1mg2mg. Starting this low may not provide the relief you are looking for, but that’s okay. A very low dose allows you to test your THC tolerance and feel comfortable with consuming for the first time. 

Our nurses on the Leaf411 hotline can help you figure out a first-time low dose and then guide you with how to safely increase your milligrams until you experience the relief your body needs. Call the FREE hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) with any questions you have about dosing cannabis.

“Our end goal is meeting patients’ and consumers’ needs, making sure our products truly help,” says Tucker Council, Escape Artists Marketing Lead. “Our all-natural tinctures provide additional options for consumers to integrate an inside-outside approach to their daily cannabis wellness routine.”

Older woman sitting on her bed in a yoga pose, meditating.

What is a Daily Cannabis Routine?

Daily routines form the foundation of many people’s wellness regimen. Whether it’s a morning walk before logging on to the computer, a healthy lunchtime smoothie, or an evening meditation to wind down, these practices provide balance that protects against everyday life stressors.

In the same way, many people discover that cannabis is an impactful addition to their daily wellness routines. That should not be a surprise considering how the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids (THC, CBD and others), terpenes and other plant compounds interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is designed to restore and maintain homeostasis (balance).  

Daily cannabis routines are often critical for patients’ symptom management and overall quality of life, providing a safe alternative to heavy-duty pharmaceuticals that often cause excessive sedation and other significant side effects.

For people who do not have ongoing or serious health concerns, a daily cannabis routine may nonetheless provide benefits, especially around relaxation and restoration.

Silhouette of four people summiting a peak at sunrise.

Designing Your Daily Routine

Daily cannabis routines work best when created for specific results. For example, you may want to take daily pain-free walks without excessive soreness afterward, or you might be seeking to boost evening relaxation before bedtime.

Whatever your aim, the following steps can be helpful for building an effective cannabis routine:

  • Get specific with your goal: Think through your goal and the results you hope to achieve.
  • Find supporting strategies: Cannabis is only one of many tools available for wellness and works best when paired with other approaches. For example, if your goal is relaxation before bedtime, you’ll also want to identify other ways to create a peaceful environment by turning off electronics, re-centering your thoughts, etc.
  • Identify your deal-breakers: It’s just as important to know what you don’t want as it is to know what you do want. When it comes to cannabis, our Leaf nurses hear from many callers who want relief without feeling “high.”

    Escape Artists and many of our other Leaf411 supporting members offer ratio products that can easily be split into microdoses, giving you the benefit of both CBD and THC cannabinoids while minimizing the likelihood of intoxication. We also have supporting members who specialize in CBD hemp products that are non-intoxicating. Our Leaf nurses can answer your questions about any legal products on the market today—call us at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411).
  • Find the best product format: Odds are that if you’re already using cannabis, you have your favorite modes of consumption, whether that’s smoking flower, vaping concentrates, using edible or topical products. But does your favored format fit both your goal and your daily routine? You may find you need to change your consumption habits to align with your new goals.
  • Consider creating a ritual as part of your routine: Rituals support mindfulness and intention, helping you focus on your goals. Rituals don’t need to be fancy, either!

    Many people find that grinding cannabis flower and rolling a joint is a relaxing, re-centering practice that honors the plant while providing respite from a hectic day. This same type of intentionality can be used for other cannabis forms, as well. For example, when using edibles or tinctures, you might take one minute to do a quick meditation or affirmation before consuming. These small rituals can have an outsize impact when it comes to achieving your goals.
  • Commit to daily practice: You’ve spent time identifying your goal, finding the supporting practices and products that fit, and creating a plan for your daily cannabis routine. Now comes the most important part—commitment! Most experts agree that it takes between 21-30 days for a new habit or routine to stick. If you need help, there are many books, websites and apps.

How to Layer Cannabis Products

Your daily cannabis routine may involve layering different products throughout the day to match the needs of the moment. How do you achieve this without going overboard?

Let’s go back to our example of wanting to take daily pain-free walks without excessive soreness, and see how you might layer different products to support that goal: 

Step One: You would first layer the product that stays in your system the longest. A tincture that you swallow fits that bill. Typically with anything you swallow, you can expect to get about 6-8 hours of relief. (Fast-acting cannabis ingestibles like Escape Artists Speed Strips are the exception.) Timing is key, so consuming the tincture about 1-2 hours before your walk should ensure that you have proper coverage. 

Step Two: In addition to the tincture, you can apply a topical to the areas that cause the most concern. Now you are treating the pain associated with your walk in a preventive fashion before the pain becomes too intense. 

Step Three: The last layer would be for immediate treatment. For example, when you’re finished with your walk and now experiencing some increased pain, you can take a fast-acting product, like Escape Artists Speed Strips, that hits the system fast for instant relief but also exit the system fast, making them ideal for breakthrough pain. Products like Escape Artists Speed Strips give the consumer another option besides inhaling to quickly get THC’s pain-relieving benefits.  

Close-up of someone using Escape Artists Bliss Tincture’s marked dropper to get a precise dose for their needs.

Sign Up for Our FREE Virtual Education to Learn More!

New routines come with new questions like:

  • How will THC make me feel?
  • How do I know if the products are working?
  • What cannabis medication interactions should I be aware of? 

Our next Leaf Learning Series will cover those types of questions and more, with a specific focus on the needs of older adults. 

Join us on April 22, 2021, from 2 p.m.5 p.m. MDT, for our beginner-friendly virtual event on Demystifying Cannabis for Older Adults. The event is free, though you need to sign up in advance at this link: https://hopin.com/events/leaf-learning-series-demystifying-cannabis-for-the-older-adult 

During the event, you’ll hear from Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a renowned Harvard-trained primary care physician and medical cannabis consultant who speaks from both personal and professional experience. Dr. Grinspoon will be available to answer your questions at the end of his presentation.

We’ll also have many of our supporting members on-hand, including Escape Artists, to share product insights and answer any questions you might have. 

You definitely do not want to miss our April 22, 2021, Leaf Learning Series: Demystifying Cannabis for Older Adults. Click here to sign up today!

Can’t make the event? Our fully-licensed Leaf RNs are available on our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411), Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to answer your cannabis and CBD hemp questions.

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.


Cannabis journaling can be in the form of a simple diary or any number of specialized mobile apps

Why you should be keeping a cannabis journal

Note: Our Leaf411 Blog periodically shares articles from The Cannigma, a trusted resource for research-backed medical cannabis education and information. We loved their recent piece on cannabis journaling! Journaling is a practice we often recommend to callers.

You don’t need to be a gifted writer to keep a cannabis journal! The purpose of the journal is to record your goals and experiences using specific cannabis products, doses or CBD:THC ratios, which can help you identify the most effective cannabis regimen moving forward. 

Cannabis journaling only requires a notebook or a simple spreadsheet. However, there are several apps on the market that can help, if you’re looking for a more customized approach. Check out the Cannigma article below to learn more about what to track and how journaling can help you dial in cannabis to your health goals. Remember, too, that the Leaf nurses are available to help at no cost via our hotline: 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) 

This article was originally published on The Cannigma and appears here with permission.

by Ben Hartman
Feb 15, 2021

Despite the traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, and years of PTSD, Otha Smith considers himself one of the lucky ones. 

Pronounced dead at the scene of a car accident in 2003, a friend and medical student he was traveling with performed CPR until a medivac helicopter arrived, giving him another chance at life.

Otha Smith, CEO of Tetragram (Otha Smith)

Otha Smith, CEO of Tetragram (Otha Smith)

Smith eventually recovered, but “started to go down a really dark path” with the prescription medications, so he turned to cannabis. 

Years later, when medical cannabis was legalized in Maryland, where he lives, Smith told The Cannigma how he suddenly had access to a whole world of weed he had never encountered with his old dealer. He had to find the products helped him the most, and it was a lot more work than just choosing a jar with a pleasant-enough sounding strain name.

Fast-forward to 2020, and Smith and two co-founders launched “Tetragram,” a mobile app designed to help medical cannabis patients determine which products — including which strains, formulations, and delivery methods — work best for their ailments or even their recreational use goals. 

Tyler Dautrich, the COO of Releaf, another cannabis journaling app, told The Cannigma that his app “is geared towards helping that individual lessen the amount of time and money they spend in that trial and error process and strictly hone in on what works for them.”

Both apps are technological tools for journaling, a technique that can be used by medical patients looking to treat specific symptoms or conditions, but also by recreational cannabis users trying to hone in on the products and delivery methods that will reliably produce the effects they’re looking for.

What is cannabis journaling?

Cannabis journaling can be in the form of a simple diary or journal, Hello Kitty stationary, or an Excel spreadsheet on your computer. Online apps like Releaf and Tetragram are growing in popularity, and are well-suited for a smartphone. 

Journaling can make cannabis use more mindful, deliberate and based on goals, past experiences, and your own personally cultivated data tracking what works best for you. It’s a way of getting the most out of the legal cannabis field in which there is an almost bewildering amount of options. 

It can also help cannabis consumers tune out some of the noise, Dautrich said. 

“As legalization trends continue and more and more options become available, companies are branding completely different products in the same way so there a lot of products that are labeled differently than what they’re actually for,” Dautrich stated, adding that “with journaling, you have a lot of knowledge and data and information backing up your purchase so you know you’ll get a similar outcome.”

When you go to the grocery store or pharmacy, Dautrich explained, even if you can’t find the exact brand and product you’re looking for, you can be confident that you can find an alternative that produces the same results. Cannabis consumers do not have that luxury.

Dautrich said that there isn’t a typical Releaf user, and that their users include new cannabis consumers who are looking for some help navigating the world of cannabis, as well as connoisseurs who are using the app to track their consumption and rate different brands and products. He likened the connoisseurs using the app to craft beer fans who use similar apps for beer, to record beers they’ve tried, the taste profiles, aromas, and how they feel.

But what should cannabis users be journaling?

What to track in your cannabis journal

Regardless of what journaling method you decide upon, it is important to take some time and set it up and acquaint yourself before attempting to record your first session or product. There are many different ways to journal your cannabis use — a lot will depend on your goals of treatment but also what information or insight you hope to gain from journaling. From the sections below, pick those that feel most relevant to why you are journaling your cannabis, and make sure to be consistent so that can easily spot trends and useful insights later.

  • Set and setting
    When and where is the particular cannabis session. What is the time? The date? How do you feel as you start? Is there anything unique about the situation or about how you feel?
  • Your goals
    Why are you using cannabis right now? Are you looking to treat specific symptoms or alleviate a particular health condition? Are you looking to relax in the evening or find a product that produces an energetic high during the day? Do you just want to get a good night’s sleep? Identifying and setting your usage goals allows you to gauge which products produce the results you are looking for, and which miss the mark. 
  • Product type, delivery method, and dosage
    How are you taking the cannabis? Are you smoking? (If so, from a pipe or bong or joint?) Vaping? Using a tincture? Taking an edible? Different delivery methods can affect you in different ways, even if they come from the same chemovar or strain. How much are you taking? Be specific! With edibles and tinctures it’s easier to know what dose you took down to the milligram, but if you’re smoking a joint or using a vape pen, write down how many puffs you took.
  • Product details
    Different products can have the same strain name but different cannabinoid and terpene profiles, and different batches of the same product produced by the same company can even have different THC or CBD levels. That’s why recording the brands and products names is so important for making sure you are able to replicate the good sessions and avoid revisiting the disappointing ones. While this often involves writing down the strain name, as long as you’re also noting the brand and product name you should have all the information you need.
  • Cannabinoid and terpene profile
    Recording the THC, CBD, and other cannabinoid content of your cannabis product is crucial. If it’s flower or a vape pen, you’ll want to record the listed percentage of THC, CBD, or other dominant cannabinoids. If it’s a tincture, edible, drinkable, or capsule, you’ll want to record the milligram unit of each cannabinoid that you are taking during your session. But don’t stop there. Terpenes can also have a major impact on the effects, as well as the flavor and aroma of your cannabis. Knowing and recording which terpenes are present in your cannabis is an important tool for figuring out what cannabis products work for you. 
  • How it made you feel
    This is the most important part. How did the session make you feel? Did you achieve your goals? Relieve your symptoms? For how long? Did you like the way it made you feel? Were there any adverse side effects? If it’s helpful, you can rank each of the effects from 1-10 to track how effective the session was for each of your goals. Just make sure you’re consistent with how you record this info — it will make it easier to compare and see what is working best. Ultimately, this is the most crucial factor in determining if a product is right for you and it is at the core of why cannabis journaling is important. 

After a few, dozens, or hundreds of entries into your cannabis journal, you should be able to see the common denominators of what factors contributed to a successful session — be it the dose, cannabinoid profile, terpene profile, delivery method, time of day, or any combination of those or others. Don’t be discouraged if the answers aren’t apparent right off the bat — it could be a process of narrowing a broad range of products down to a few. You may even find that different products work for you in different situations or for treating different symptoms. A cannabis journal can also be very helpful to bring to your next doctor’s appointment to discuss what is and isn’t working in order to find the right treatment regimen.

Different cannabis journals

There are several options out there for journaling your cannabis use, whether it’s as a patient, budding connoisseur, or any other reason. You can go the DIY route and make your own physical journal or Excel sheet with custom formulas, use one of the specially designed online apps, or purchase a beautiful physical cannabis journal.

Releaf

Designed with what the company describes as “the basic principle that there had to be a better way to track and demystify the world of medical cannabis,” Releaf is a free mobile app that allows users to track a wide range of aspects of their cannabis use, including their dosing, level of symptom relief, feelings, and side effects, among others. The app also provides customized trends and insights that are based on the user’s own input. 

On the app’s “sessions” dashboard, users can review all of their sessions in detail. While on the “cannabis on hand” section, users can organize all of the different cannabis products they have at the moment, by name, rating, and date. 

Rating makes it easy to see which product has been the most effective for the user, in that it presents a score which is the average rating the user gave it for each parameter. Users can also provide feedback on products at any time.

Tetragram

Tetragram is a free “smart, digital journal that helps you get the most out of medical cannabis.”

The app allows users to create a digital diary of their cannabis experiences by way of sessions in which the user logs a series of data points including strain, product, intake method, dispensary where it was purchased, symptoms treated, quality of experience, and flavor and appearance. 

Users can rate each individual cannabis product and share their ratings as well as photos and comments with the community of Tetragram users. 

The app can also be used to find similar products to ones that worked well for the user. 

The app is fully customizable for every user’s particular cannabis needs and goals. 

Goldleaf

Anybody who has ever held a beautiful glass pipe in their hand or gazed longingly at a perfect trimmed and cured, frosty nug of cannabis knows that sometimes form can be almost — but not quite — as important as function. 

Goldleaf produces a wide variety of sophisticated, informative, and handy journals for all types of cannabis users. The templated and educational notebooks are suited for everyday users, patients, and growers alike, and come complete with infographics and artwork covering a variety of topics in cannabis. 

Take for instance “the Cannabis Taster,” a “pocket journal for those who appreciate fine cannabis.” It comes with 25 full-spread templated entry pages, as well as purveyor sections for logging favorite dispensaries, growers, and products, as well as flavor and terpene infographics. 

And of course, if none of those strike your fancy, you can find lots of custom-made and beautifully designed cannabis journals on Etsy.

How journaling can make cannabis better

In addition to helping patients optimize their cannabis use, online cannabis journaling platforms can also have a potential benefit to the cannabis industry. The anonymized data is made available to scientists and people within the cannabis industry, to help them design products with the right chemical profiles to treat specific conditions and symptoms. 

According to Smith, “all this aggregated data we’re collecting we can provide to the medical professionals and say listen, this is no longer a ‘he said, she said’ — we have actual data about these strains and products and how effective they are at addressing medical conditions.”

A December 2020 study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research examined data from 670 users, who recorded their cannabis use sessions with the Releaf app. The study looked at how cannabis use changed feelings of agitation/irritability, anxiety, and stress, as well as side effects, producing findings that could be of valuable use to cannabis producers.  

According to the researchers, the data indicated a decrease in symptoms intensity levels in 95.51% of cannabis usage sessions. The data also served to indicate that mid and high THC forms of cannabis “were the primary independent predictor of increased symptom relief.”

Dautrich said the Releaf app isn’t meant to replace the doctor-patient relationship, rather, to improve it by helping both patients and doctors have a more informed and educated relationship with cannabis. 

He added that Releaf is also working with companies in the cannabis industry, to allow them to use customer reports to help them improve formulation decisions for their products, as well as which products to market to which customers.

How doctors view cannabis journaling

Dr. Lewis Jassey is the Medical Director of Pediatric Medicine at Leafwell, a network of online medical cannabis clinics. He told The Cannigma that in his practice he uses a form that patients can fill out to describe their health condition and how it affects their daily life. This information is later used to determine how medical cannabis is helping these issues, in order to gain what he describes as “an objective barometer to determine if treatment is working for a patient.”

Jassey shared a version of the questionnaire used for chronic pain patients, which contains nearly two dozen questions about their history with pain. 

“This is designed to establish that there is a true medical indication for you and your body and it’s not just, ‘oh you’re in pain and I’m approving you [for medical cannabis].’”

For Jassey, this sort of data collection is key not only in helping the patient, but also in showing the efficacy of medical cannabis. 

“We want to be pioneers and in the forefront of helping to demonstrate that medical cannabis can in fact help out with many conditions, but you have to have objectivity in your notes.” 

Journaling and these forms of questionnaires are also a way of making sure that treatment is customized for that particular patient’s needs, Jassey said. 

It’s not appropriate to take a cookie-cutter approach to every patient, Jassey said, adding that “this is not a meat market, or a factory, this is peoples’ lives and this is their day-to-day functionality and this is trying to establish medical cannabis in a more mainstream way and to do that you have to establish the credibility.” 

“So it’s not about churning out the next patient, or how many patients I can see in a day. It’s about having meaningful experiences with them so that they can know what’s on their radar so when we have our next follow up I know what to look for and what their [cannabis] application should be,” he added.


American flag with hand holding cannabis leaf

Why Cannabis is Different Between Legal States

State laws determine what cannabis products are legally available where you live

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

As we enter 2021, medical marijuana is legal in 38 states plus Washington D.C., and adult-use (recreational) marijuana is legal in 15 states, with several other states, including New York, poised to legalize adult-use in 2021.

If you live somewhere with legal cannabis, you might assume that the products you find locally are the same as you’d find in other legal states, but in fact, that’s not the case at all. The cannabis edible or flower (bud) found in Florida’s medical marijuana market will be different from what’s available in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market, even if it says that it’s the same strain/cultivar or comes from the same brand.

Why Does Cannabis Vary Across States?

There are two big reasons for why cannabis differs across states:

  • Cannabis remains federally illegal. As a result, cannabis plants and THC products are prohibited from crossing state lines, even between two legal states located right next to one another, since federal law governs interstate commerce.
  • In legal states, marijuana regulations vary widely with different rules for packaging, dose sizes and even the types of products that are legal. State regulations also determine how you can get your cannabis, either by curbside pick-up, drive-thru, or delivery.

An Example from Two States: Cannabis Regulations in Florida Compared to Oklahoma

Going back to our example of Florida versus Oklahoma, we can take a look at how Wana’s medical marijuana market gummies have different packaging and product design across the two states. Wana’s website features photos and details for all their products by state on their website, making the comparison easy.

Wana Blueberry soft chews sold in Florida, showing the gummies are colorless and the packaging is all white with no images or logos.
Wana Blueberry Soft Chews sold in Florida’s medical cannabis marketplace, which has stringent rules for products and packaging.
Wana Blueberry Sour Gummies sold in Oklahoma, showing the gummies are dark blue and the packaging includes colors, photos and logos.
Wana Blueberry Sour Gummies sold in Oklahoma’s medical cannabis marketplace, with regulations allowing photos and colors on packaging.

As you can see, the Wana products sold in Florida look quite different than those sold in Oklahoma! The Florida Department of Health, Office of Medical Marijuana Use, set strict rules for edibles, including requirements that they are not “of a primary or bright color” and cannot resemble any commercially available candy. Florida also requires white packaging that does not contain any images other than the required THC warning, while Oklahoma—the other image shown above—allows images, logos and other package coloring.

When it comes to potency, Florida has a limit of 10mg of THC per piece, while other states have higher THC limits for edibles. Looking at the two examples above, both contain 10mg THC per piece, though Wana also offers high-dose products in Oklahoma with up to 50 mg THC per piece. Other brands in Oklahoma offer gummies with up to 100 mg THC per piece, ten times the limit in Florida!

That’s one reason it’s always important to check the label for potency and dose size, especially when visiting other states. You may think you’re buying the same product you use at home, only to discover that the potency is different due to regulations in the state you’re visiting.

The same rule applies when recommending cannabis-infused products to a friend in a different state—the edibles in their state’s dispensaries may have different potencies than the ones that are available to you.

Our Leaf nurses understand how cannabis products vary between states and they can guide you on safe use with the variety of products you may have on hand. That’s why the nurses ask you to describe the product packages you have and ask where you are located when you call our free hotline (844-LEAF411), so that they can make suggestions for safe and effective use based on products available in your area. They will also guide you to the many vetted resources of support members we have listed by state.

“Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign at Colorado state line.

Another Big Difference: Cannabis Plants and THC Cannot Cross State Lines

Earlier, we mentioned how federal law regulates interstate commerce. Since cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, all legal medical and adult-use (recreational) products must be produced with marijuana grown and processed within that state’s borders.

How does that work for brands sold in multiple states? That’s a good question! We have several Leaf411 supporting members, including Wana, incredibles, Altus and Mary’s Medicinals, that offer cannabis-infused products in more than one state.

In most cases, brands like incredibles set up licensing and manufacturing agreements with in-state producers who have in-depth knowledge of the state’s regulatory environment and trusted relationships with state cultivators. The brand shares proprietary recipes, procedures, potency and testing requirements with the manufacturer to ensure the final product is the same quality and consistency that would be found in any other state.

Five different cannabis nugs (flower) representing variation in cannabis plants and strains.

How Cannabis Flower Differs Between States

California’s Humboldt region is legendary for producing the best cannabis in the United States. In part that has to do with the decades of experience California farmers have in carefully cultivating unique, terpene-laden cultivars (more commonly referred to as “strains”), but it also is the result of growing the plant in an optimal environment that includes a mix of rich soil, ideal temperatures, precipitation and sunlight.

Needless to say, Bubba Kush flower grown outdoors in California’s Humboldt region will be different than Bubba Kush cultivated indoors in Massachusetts. One is not necessarily better than the other, though cannabis consumers will likely have opinions on which they prefer.

Even within states or local regions, a cannabis strain may vary in potency and flavor depending on specific cultivation techniques, time of year, and harvesting practices. In that way, cannabis is not so different from the produce you buy at your local organic market.

Also, as long as federal prohibition exists, the cannabis legally available in your state will generally reflect the genetics developed by growers in your area. While the Bubba Kush in your area may share similar genetics as the Bubba Kush in another part of the country, there will also be distinct differences in terpene profiles and effects that you’d easily notice if you sampled both products side-by-side.

Medical marijuana patients sometimes get frustrated in their search for a specific strain to address their health concerns, without realizing that other strains might provide the same or even better benefits. Our cannabis-trained Leaf nurses have specialized knowledge and experience helping patients find the best cannabis strain for their needs. Call our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for help with your cannabis questions and concerns.

Cannabis dispensary store sign saying “Open for in-store or curbside pickup.”

Cannabis Delivery, Curbside Pickup or In-Store: It All Depends on Where You Live

One of the big cannabis stories in 2020 was the rapid expansion of cannabis home delivery, offering a safe shopping alternative for consumers who didn’t want to risk visiting a dispensary. However, depending on where you live and whether you’re a medical marijuana patient or adult-use consumer, your options may remain limited to in-store pick-up. Even in states like Colorado, which technically allows delivery, the delivery licenses are being rolled out slowly, with the final decision left up to individual cities.

Book cover saying “Federal and State Marijuana Laws” which will change if cannabis is federally legalized.

What Will Federal Cannabis Legalization Do?

Many people believe that if federal legalization occurs, cannabis will go the way of CBD hemp—lightly regulated and widely available in stores and online.

However, it’s more likely that legalization will lead to cannabis looking more like the legal alcohol market. States would continue to regulate adult-use and medical marijuana in much the same way as before, albeit without the risk of federal crackdowns.

On the bright side, legalization will drive progress on the cannabis banking front, allowing dispensaries to accept credit card payments, reducing the IRS 280E tax burden on plant-touching cannabis businesses, and opening up banking services like loans and lines of credit that are available in other sectors.

Also, legalization will effectively end the destructive War on Drugs that has incarcerated millions of Americans for low-level, non-violent drug possession convictions. Believe it or not, the number of drug arrests has continued to increase over the past 10 years, even as more states legalize. Marijuana possession makes up the majority of those arrests, with Black, Indigenous and people of color arrested, charged and convicted at higher rates than their white peers.

Four directional signs at crossroads saying “Help, Support, Advice, Guidance” which the Leaf411 hotline provides.

The Cannabis Landscape Is Changing—and We’re Here to Help You Navigate Your Options!

Regardless of where things stand with cannabis reform, our Leaf nurses can help you navigate the legal options available in your area, whether you’re seeking cannabis for pain relief, improved sleep, or simply for relaxation and stress relief. Even in states without legal cannabis, CBD hemp is an option that may help with common health concerns or wellness goals. Talk to one of our cannabis-trained, fully licensed RNs today at no cost at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411).


Happy woman on a morning run boosted by the positive effects of cannabis

Using Cannabis to Improve Your Workout Mindset and Recovery

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

Cannabis as a useful workout tool? That was one of many insights shared on the December 2020 Emerge Winter Conference “Cannabis Health & Wellness: Edibles” panel that Leaf411 Co-Founder and CEO/ED Katherine Golden, RN, participated on. During the session, two of her fellow panelists Scott Jennings, CEO and Founder of Pantry Food Co., and John Houston, CEO of Kushla Life Sciences, shared how a small dose of cannabis provided pre-workout motivation and improved their mindset during exercise.

Their experiences may come as a surprise to people who mistakenly equate cannabis with laziness or lack of motivation. However, Jennings and Houston are far from alone in their experiences using cannabis as part of their workout regimen. Recent research suggests that pre-workout cannabis use may trigger a euphoric feeling similar to a runner’s high, motivating people to get moving.

View from tunnel leading to professional sports field.

Cannabis and CBD Hemp in the Professional Sports World

Full-time athletes contend with daunting physical and mental health issues resulting from their intensive training, high-stakes competitions and hectic travel schedules. They are frequently prescribed painkillers, NSAIDs and sleep medications that may be habit-forming and come with unwanted side effects that can hurt performance.

Athletes try to avoid products that dull their focus or competitive drive. They’re looking for every advantage possible to improve overall performance and wellness. After all, that’s why most high-level athletes rely on not only coaches but also nutritionists, sports psychologists, physical therapists and even meditation experts. An increasing number of these top athletes are adding CBD hemp or cannabis to their performance toolbox as well, when allowed by their sport’s regulating authority.

Close-up of referee whistle on a tabletop, representing sports regulating authorities’ changing stance on cannabis.

The International Olympic Committee’s World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently removed CBD from its banned substances list, and the UFC mixed martial arts organization just announced that a positive THC test will no longer be considered a violation of their anti-doping policy. The NFL and MLB also enacted new drug policies that take a much more balanced approach to cannabis.

On the research side, studies like the University of Colorado’s Athlete PEACE (Pain, Exercise, and Cannabis Experience) study provide support for athletes’ use of cannabis to address pain and sleep.

Also, organizations like Athletes for Care are speaking out about the benefits of cannabis as a safe alternative to pharmaceuticals for elite athletes.

Close-up of woman adding post-workout CBD hemp tincture to her drink

Using CBD Hemp or Cannabis for Workouts

Odds are that you’re not an elite athlete; however, the science around cannabis and athletic performance applies no matter where you’re at with your exercise goals.

Remember that cannabis plant compounds, including cannabinoids like THC and CBD, interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to restore balance—and everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different.

Keeping this in mind, we do have a few universal suggestions that may help if you’re curious about adding cannabis to your workout routine:

  • Check with your medical provider: We always suggest consulting with your primary provider before starting a new wellness regimen. However, we know that not all physicians are up to date on the latest cannabis and CBD hemp research. Our fully-licensed, cannabis-trained hotline RNs are available at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) to help with your questions and provide links to research you can share with your primary physician.
  • Be realistic about cannabis’s potential exercise benefits: Cannabis is a tool, not a magic bullet. It works best in conjunction with other proven performance strategies, including a commitment to a regular workout routine, healthy diet, adequate rest and recovery time.
  • Identify your goals for using cannabis as part of your workout: Are you looking to add marijuana or CBD for a pre-workout lift or as a post-workout recovery tool? This makes all the difference when it comes to product selection. Fast-acting cannabis with a rapid onset and short duration may be better suited for pre-workout, while either CBD hemp or a longer-acting edible with a mix of CBD and THC may be optimal for recovery. Our Leaf nurses are experienced in helping consumers find the best marijuana or CBD for their needs. They can guide you in the right direction, saving you money and time.
  • Start low and go slow: This is our mantra for all cannabis consumers, whether it’s someone completely new to the plant or an experienced user trying a new product type. By starting with a very small dose and increasing that dose over multiple days, you can find the best amount of THC or CBD for your needs.

Use cannabis safely: Safety goes hand-in-hand with starting low and going slow, so that you can discover precisely how cannabis impacts your workout. For example, some people experience transient dizziness when using cannabis, similar to the sensation when you stand up quickly and feel off balance. This is not something you’d want to discover while running at full speed on a treadmill!

Our Leaf Nurses Can Help With Your Cannabis Wellness Questions

Today’s cannabis and hemp are becoming more sophisticated than ever, with products manufactured for specific needs. If you’ve recently browsed a dispensary’s online menu, you likely know how overwhelming it can be to sort through all the options!

Leaf411 cannabis-trained nurses are knowledgeable about different cannabis and CBD hemp products on the market today, as well as the research supporting plant-based medicine for wellness and relief. They provide balanced information, guidance and education that makes your dispensary visit less intimidating.

Curious to learn more? Our Leaf RNs are ready to help! Call our free, anonymous hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411).


How Cannabis Affects Women and Men Differently

Note: Our Leaf411 Blog periodically shares articles from The Cannigma, a trusted resource for research-backed medical cannabis education and information. 

This article was originally published on The Cannigma and appears here with permission.

by Ben Hartman

Medically reviewed by Dr. Joseph Morgan, MD

Nov 25, 2020

The cannabis experience is significantly influenced by mindset (intention/expectation) and setting (environments of consumption and post drug onset). One’s male or female biological sex can also affect the mind and body reaction to cannabis, alongside and in concert with a number of other factors, including an individual’s endocannabinoid system and the cannabis chemovar(s) being used. 

Biological sex-associated differences can range from how strongly the effects are felt, side effects like anxiety, changes in heart rate, effectiveness at relieving pain, and sexual arousal. Researchers have even found that the risks of cannabis abuse and driving under the influence differ for men and women.  

Biological sex-associated differences can range from how strongly the effects are felt to how well it treats pain. (Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance)

How does that work?

The differences in how the body reacts to drugs, how drugs act on the body, and dose, all play a role in the ways that some medications can have a different — and potentially more dangerous — reaction for women than men. 

A Swedish study from 2008 said that “many but not all, such gender related differences can be explained by the effects of sex hormones,” and added that while sex differences in drug response can be seen on the receptor level, there is a paucity of research on the matter. 

The overall lack of an explanation into the “why” of gender differences in drug reactions and efficacy is a recurring theme in the research, but a number of studies have already asserted that there are at least some clear differences in how men and women use cannabis. 

Why cannabis affects men and women differently

Scientists are not all in agreement about how and why sex differences lead to different effects of cannabinoids and cannabis. The theories include hormonal differences, muscle mass and fat ratios, volume of cannabinoid drug distribution, and cannabinoid metabolism in the liver.

One review of existing research found that sex differences in cannabinoid effects might be from different pharmacodynamics (how drugs affect an organism), and pharmacokinetics (how the organism affects drugs), both of which influence dosing, benefits, and adverse effects. Sex differences with cannabis are also due at least in part to the ways males and females experience emotions as well as “differences in muscle mass at fat tissue distribution between males and females.”

The researchers were careful to add though, that “investigation of such differences is still at an early stage.” 

They did stipulate that some of the differences they found in their review included that, among non-marijuana smokers, “men are more sensitive to the subjective effects of delta-9-THC alone than women,” and that women “report significantly more dizziness than men.” They clarified though that they did not find any gender differences in regard to how THC affects impulsivity (disinhibition). 

The review also found that preclinical studies show that men may be more receptive to the hunger-inducing effects of cannabis (the munchies). 

However, females are still underrepresented in clinical research and if these studies “routinely included subjects of both sexes, greater progress in the field would be reached in a shorter time. Clinical studies should also report all findings, whether positive or negative, in order to quantitatively define the issues related to the gender differences in cannabis consumption,” the researchers added.

Yet another theory holds that sex can actually impact how sensitive one is to cannabinoids.

The authors of the study that produced that theory wrote that there is growing evidence to show the endocannabinoid system is sexually dimorphic (it has two different forms) and that hormone differences could seemingly be the basis for the different ways men and women react to cannabinoids like those in cannabis.

The ways weed affects men and women differently

Stronger effects for women

While feeling stronger effects of cannabis might be a good thing in some situations, it can also have its down-side. 

A study published in 2020 found that females exhibited greater peak blood concentrations of an important cannabis metabolite and greater subjective ratings of “drug effect,” even when controlling for body weight. These drug effects included ratings of “anxious/nervous,” “heart racing,” and “restless,” which were significantly higher among the female respondents. 

The researchers concluded that starting doses for females should be lower, and that public health officials should issue warnings about the higher risk of acute anxiety related reactions among female cannabis users.

More effective at reducing pain for men

There is evidence that cannabis has a stronger pain-reducing effect on male users than it does for women.

Researchers, who published a 2016 study on the matter, had 42 people put their hands in ice water — some given cannabis with THC and others cannabis without THC — and found that the men in the group were able to keep their hands in the cold water longer than the women. 

It should be noted, however, that the cannabis used in the experiment had relatively low levels of THC (3.56-5.60%), and cannabis with levels closer to what is available in the medical and recreational markets could have led to different results.

More sexually arousing for women

Numerous studies over the years have found that women who use cannabis have more sexual satisfaction — and the more they use the greater the satisfaction

A survey-based study published in 2020 found that “Increased frequency of marijuana use is associated with improved sexual function among female users, whereas chemovar type, method of consumption, and reason for use does not impact outcomes.”

For men, it’s a little bit of a different story. One study suggested “some experienced (male) smokers have derived an enhancement of sexual pleasure while they were using marijuana.” 

The question of erectile dysfunction, however, still hangs undecided. Some subjects in studies have reported superior erectile function, while others the opposite.

Those studies, however, aren’t the final word — in 2010, researchers found that the influence of cannabis on sexual behavior appeared “to be dose-dependent in both men and women.”

This article’s medical editor points out, the presence of pesticides or other contaminants could also adversely impact sexual function, memory impairment, and in other ways reduce the quality  of the cannabis experience.

How men and women use cannabis differently

There is growing evidence to show the endocannabinoid system is sexually dimorphic — that it has two different forms. (Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance)

Gender differences in risk perception, stigma, intake method, the role of peer pressure, and propensity to develop a dependency (Cannabis Use Disorder) have all been asserted in published research in recent years. 

Females “[are] nearly two times more likely to perceive risk in regular marijuana use compared with males,” a study from 2015 found, though it added that the perceived risk among women dropped from 59% in 2002 to 47% in 2012. 

A comprehensive review of existing research published in March 2020 found that when women use cannabis, they “transition more quickly to cannabis use dependence compared to males.”

This doesn’t mean that women are more prone to develop Cannabis Use Disorder, rather those that do, develop it on average 4.7 years after they first use marijuana, as opposed to 5.8 years for men. The study found there was no difference between men and women in terms of how old they were when they first started using cannabis. 

Gender-based stigmas and quality of life effects

Among other differences, the review found that “the negative effect of cannabis use on mental quality of life scores was more pronounced for women.” Part of this may be social in nature, in that women may face greater stigma and discrimination for using substances like cannabis, according to the researchers. Another reason could be greater sensitivity to contaminants.

In other words, those women who do develop Cannabis Use Disorder not only do so quicker than men on average, but they feel it more intensely, in part because of the greater stigma attached towards women who consume cannabis. 

The stigma might be partly because men are more likely to use marijuana, and thus it’s more expected of them, if not more accepted. A 2019 National Cannabis Survey in Canada found that 18.4% of male respondents had smoked cannabis in the three months prior, as opposed to only 15.1% of women. 

Doctors less likely to support medical cannabis for women

Furthermore, there may also be differences in how medical professionals consider cannabis use by female patients. A survey of 361 medical cannabis users in Illinois, for instance, found that women reported “lower levels of support from physicians for [medical cannabis] use.”

The study also found that women were more likely to decrease their use of other prescription medications after receiving a medical marijuana license — particularly from a physician supportive of their cannabis use.

Women eat more edibles, men smoke more flower

But what about when men and women actually get high? Is there a gender difference in the consumption methods used? That same National Cannabis Survey found that men are more likely to smoke marijuana flower and women are more likely than men to use edibles, while a separate Canadian study from 2019 found that men were more likely to prefer vaping cannabis (15.8% vs 10.8% of women), and surmised that this could be because taking edibles is more discrete and allows women to easier avoid scrutiny for using cannabis. 

Women don’t drive while high as often as men

Perhaps the most glaring difference could be in terms of driving while under the influence of cannabis. A 2018 report compiled in the US found that while 43.9% of male reported driving after using cannabis, only 8.7% of female respondents had. 

In summary, common sense, anecdotal evidence, and scientific studies tell us that each person’s experiences with cannabis may be influenced by dose, route of administration, frequency of use, assessment of risk, their biological sex, hormonal environment, expectations (set), and context of use (setting).


Does Cannabis Interact with Other Medications?

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

According to a Consumer Reports study, approximately half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug every day. Many more people take non-prescription, over-the-counter painkillers, antacids and other medications.

Not surprisingly, a fair number of these people are seeking alternatives to their medications. In many cases, people are turning to cannabis—either marijuana (cannabis containing >0.3% THC, which is sold legally in dispensaries) or cannabidiol (CBD) hemp products sold in retail stores and online.

This trend grew in 2020, with additional states legalizing adult-use (recreational) or medical marijuana, and increased awareness around the plant’s potential after cannabis was deemed essential during pandemic-related lockdowns. 

As more consumers turn to cannabis for wellness and relief, we decided it was time to republish our Leaf411 article addressing common concerns with potential drug interactions with cannabis products, including both marijuana and CBD hemp. 

We will also be covering this topic early next year in a Leaf Learning series we’re putting together for older adults, though all are welcome. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page to stay updated on this Leaf Learning event!

Smiling senior woman on phone holding medication box, asking about drug interactions with cannabis.

Thinking About Adding Cannabis to Your Medicine Cabinet? Talk to a Healthcare Provider First.

We always suggest that you talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new medication. That includes CBD hemp or marijuana. Our Leaf411 cannabis-trained nurses can provide education and guidance on adding plant medicine into your regimen for you to share with your healthcare team. Call our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for personalized help.

Also, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before stopping any prescription medication. It is imperative that your prescribing physician should always be the one who guides you with stopping or weaning off any pharmaceuticals.

Understanding How Cannabis Interacts With Other Medications

Have you ever wondered why you’re told to not drink grapefruit juice with certain prescription drugs?

Prescription bottle with warning labels to not eat grapefruit while taking medication, and to take medication as prescribed.

When you take medicine by mouth, it passes through your digestive system. The digestive system’s enzymes metabolize (break down) the medicine in your liver so that some of it can enter your bloodstream. The medicine dose takes into account normal digestive processes.

However, grapefruit juice affects several digestive enzymes. It blocks the enzymes’ action, and can result in too much or too little of the drug entering your bloodstream.

What does this have to do with cannabis? Well, the cannabinoids in cannabis—especially CBD—affect your digestive enzymes in a similar way that grapefruit does. In fact, scientists have found that CBD has an even stronger effect on the cytochrome P450 enzyme than grapefruit.

Generic statin medication pills on top of a cholesterol test results page.

Cannabis, Statins, and Blood Thinners: Use Caution

An emerging area of concern is with cardiovascular medications, including statins and blood thinners. Many of these medications are metabolized by the same liver enzymes as cannabis. As a result, people who use cannabis while also taking statins or blood thinners may end up getting a higher dose of their prescription medicine than they intended, since the liver is breaking down the drug differently than normal.

Does this mean you cannot use cannabis? Not necessarily. The key is to talk with your provider and discuss any changes that need to be made to your medication dosage, frequency or timing. You might consider sharing the link to this article from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology which provides very conservative guidance for doctors to use as a screening tool who have no experience or knowledge about cannabis.

Outstretched arm with fingers pinched together to indicate starting slow with cannabis.

The Benefit of Starting Slow with Cannabis

Not all drugs are metabolized by the same liver enzymes. However, even if you’re taking medications that are not directly impacted by cannabis in your digestive system, it’s worth it to start with a low dose of marijuana or CBD, and to go slow. By starting slow, you can see how the addition of marijuana or CBD impacts your ongoing medications (after checking with a healthcare provider, of course!).

Also, Dr. David Gordon (Dr. Dave), founder of 4Pillars Health & Wellness, notes that people usually only need a small dose of cannabis for therapeutic benefits. This minimizes the risk of side effects. Dr. Dave explains that as an integrative physician, “We start with just a small amount, just to stimulate our own internal system. These are dosages that often don’t cause any intoxication or have any significant interaction.”

Dr. Dave is experienced at looking up potential interactions with medicinal cannabis. He’s found that most drug interactions don’t preclude someone from using cannabis, though he notes that drug doses may need to be adjusted. (You can read more from our recent interview with Dr. Dave here.

Smiling Black woman holding out smartphone with the Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline homepage shown.

Getting Answers to Your Cannabis Questions

Our Leaf411 hotline nurses have special training on cannabis-medication interactions. They also have access to a robust database of research.

We encourage you to call our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) with your questions about how CBD or marijuana may interact with other medications you are taking.  

Also, remember that we will be covering this topic in Spring 2021 during our free, virtual Leaf Learning event for older adults. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on this and other Leaf411 events!


Cannabis, CBD Hemp and Workplace Drug Testing

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

Thirty-three states have legalized medical marijuana, with 11 of those states also legalizing adult-use (recreational) marijuana as of October 2020. Come November, those numbers are likely to grow as five additional states vote on either medical or adult-use cannabis initiatives.

But just because marijuana is legal in your state doesn’t mean that you’re protected, should you fail a workplace drug test.

Also, the proliferation of CBD hemp products has raised questions about whether the minimal, non-intoxicating amounts of THC contained in full-spectrum CBD hemp might trigger a positive drug test result.

We hear these concerns frequently enough on the hotline that we decided to take a closer look at current workplace drug testing protocols to help you choose the best course of action for your own use of CBD hemp or legal marijuana containing higher amounts of THC.

Notepad with the word ‘why’ written on the page

Why Does Cannabis Stay in Your System Longer than Other Drugs?

Many people use cannabis to help manage health conditions, boost wellness or simply to unwind after a stressful day. Cannabis’s intoxicating effects generally fade away after 2-8 hours, depending on your mode of ingestion. This means that the bowl you smoked on a Friday evening will be a distant memory by the time you return to work on Monday.

However, when the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is broken down, it creates non-active metabolites (THC-COOH) that stay in your system much longer. While these non-active metabolites don’t give you any kind of psychoactive effect, they are the “evidence” of cannabis use that urine drug tests look for. Depending on how frequently you use cannabis, these metabolites can be detected for several weeks or even months.

Other drugs like cocaine, amphetamines and opiates flush out of the body much faster, within a matter of 1-4 days. Alcohol also quickly exits the system, often within hours.

Why is cannabis different? Cannabinoids like THC are fat-soluble, with their non-active metabolites accumulating in fat cells. These metabolites are slowly flushed out via urine over a longer timeframe when compared to water-soluble substances that pass through without making a stop in fat cells.

When thinking about workplace drug testing, it doesn’t seem fair that someone could either lose a job or an offer due to a positive cannabis drug test, especially in a state where their cannabis use is fully legal and very likely happened off the clock. But until employers change their policies or the laws change, drug testing will be a reality for many workers, including those in the healthcare industry.

Workplace drug/alcohol testing consent form and urine specimen cup

Drug Testing and Cannabis: What Do the Tests Look For?

Most workplace drug tests continue to include marijuana in their drug testing panel, even in legal states. Workplace drug tests, including Department of Transportation (DOT) tests, are typically set to trigger a positive marijuana result at 50 ng/ml.

If you’re required to complete a pre-employment drug screening or workplace testing, you can call the lab in advance to ask how many nanograms they’re testing for. This information will help you anticipate what your results might be, based on your past use of cannabis.

  • For occasional users, metabolite levels in urine may remain above 50 ng/ml for 1-5 days
  • For regular once-a-day users, levels may be detected for 1-3 weeks after discontinuing cannabis
  • For moderate multiple-times-a-day users, levels may be detected 4-6 weeks following discontinuance

Factors that Impact Levels of Cannabis Metabolites in Urine

Your best friend tells you that they only had to stop using cannabis for one week to pass their drug screen. Your use is similar to theirs—so can you assume the same rule applies to you?

Not necessarily!

First of all, product potency plays into how long cannabis metabolites stay in your system. Your friend might be using a very low-dose tincture, while you depend on a product with ten times the amount of THC. Ingesting more THC means that you’ll end up with more metabolites which take longer to flush out of your system.

Also, body fat levels may impact how long THC-COOH remains present since it’s stored in fat cells. Put bluntly, the more body fat you have, the longer the metabolites might stick around.

CBD (cannabidiol) oil shown with molecular structure diagram. CBD is a different cannabinoid than THC.

Will CBD Hemp Cause a Positive Drug Test Result?

CBD hemp was legalized as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, and full-spectrum hemp (which contains all of the plant cannabinoids) may contain up to 0.3% THC under federal law. That amount of THC is so small that you won’t feel any intoxicating effects from it—but will it show up on a workplace drug test?

That’s an incredibly important question for many people. When your job is on the line, you can’t afford to take chances.

We suggest that anyone who is subject to regular or random drug tests should limit their purchases to CBD isolate products which have all THC removed. (Check out our article on CBD for more information on different types of CBD hemp.)

Be sure to confirm the products are THC-free by reviewing third-party test results, which are called Certificates of Analysis (COAs). All reputable manufacturers will have COAs available for their products. COAs should be on the product website or available by request. Details on the COA will vary, but they should always include results for CBD and THC levels.

We know that COAs can be confusing! Our Leaf nurses are experienced at reading COAs and can help with any questions you may have. Call us at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us from the Leaf411.org homepage during hotline hours.

Home drug test for THC, with urine specimen cup beside it.

Using Retail Drug Tests as a Tool

Curious whether your cannabis use will register on an employer-mandated drug test? Test yourself and see! Over-the-counter urine drug tests are widely available for home use. They also give you the chance to find your optimal length of time to abstain from cannabis, if you’re anticipating pre-employment drug screening or annual tests in the near future.

Some companies like UTest even offer marijuana drug tests at different sensitivity levels, including 15 ng/mL, 20 ng/mL, and the standard 50 ng/mL, so that you can prepare based on what you know about your workplace’s testing policies. 

Man filling a glass with water at the sink, hydrating to help flush out THC-COOH metabolites before a drug test.

Other Steps to Prepare for a Drug Test

You’ll find all kinds of advice online about how to pass a workplace drug test. Much of it is based on anecdotal evidence or is merely an urban legend. 

However, we do suggest safely increasing your fluid intake prior to a test to help flush out metabolites more quickly. Also, if possible, schedule your drug test later in the day, when drug metabolites will be less concentrated in urine.

Our Leaf Nurses Are Ready to Help

Our fully-licensed registered nurses answer all sorts of cannabis and CBD hemp questions on the hotline. Whether you’re concerned about workplace drug tests or simply curious about trying cannabis for pain, insomnia or other health concerns, we’re here to help at no cost to you! Call us at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us from the Leaf411.org homepage during hotline hours.