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 Gonzalez-Walker

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 Gonzalez-Walker

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 on American Flag with Stethoscope

The Cannabis Industry Needs Nurses

Headshot of Eloise Theisen

By Eloise Theisen, AGPCNP-BC
CEO, Radicle Health
Executive Board Member, Leaf411

(Note: This article was originally published on the RadicleHealth blog.)

The cannabis industry (and particularly the hemp space) has been gaining momentum. Last year was a monumental year for cannabis legislation. With 36 states and the District of Columbia allowing some form of medical cannabis, 15 states plus D.C. allowing adult use, and the descheduling of hemp, it is safe to say that cannabinoid therapy is here to stay.

It is estimated that there are around 3,000 CBD companies in the United States alone. Many of those companies are not expected to survive, with COVID-19 playing a significant role in their demise. According to Hemp Industry Daily, the top 20 hemp CBD companies account for 17% of the market share. The rest of the market is made of new CBD enthusiasts who are not well-established brands, and they are finding it harder to survive in the crowded space.

Cannabis companies like Acreage, Tilray, Aurora, Canopy, Cresco Labs, GW Pharmaceuticals, and Tikun Olam are hoping to position themselves as leaders in the cannabis space. These companies have multistate operations in medical and adult-use states. More states are predicted to put cannabis legalization on the ballot in 2021 and there is talk of federal decriminalization happening by 2022. As these national brands expand, they too will need to consider unique ways to positions themselves among the competition.

So how do brands establish brand loyalty and secure a piece of the market? A leading data analyst and consulting company speculated that survival will depend on brand differentiation. Companies can position themselves by increasing distribution through multistate operators, aligning with well-established nutraceutical companies, and working with large retail chains. What else can they do to establish brand differentiation? They can hire a nurse.

As the market becomes more competitive, brands will need to be creative about offering services that help them stand out. Nurses are an excellent way for brands to craft credibility, brand differentiation, and brand loyalty.

For 19 years in a row, consumers have voted nurses as the most trusted profession. Beyond gaining the public’s trust and respect, nurses are educators, counselors, leaders, and advocates. Nurses promote health and wellness, interpret patient information, conduct research, and improve practices and patient outcomes. And yet nurses are rarely employed by cannabis companies.

Nurses can bring incredible value to cannabis companies. In addition to offering instant credibility, they can collect data, identify trends, provide training and education, and coach patients through the medical cannabis process. Cannabis companies: what are you waiting for? We need more nurses in the industry.

Eloise Theisen (CEO, Radicle Health) is a board-certified Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner with over 20 years experience in nursing. Prior to cannabis, Eloise worked for 14 years in oncology at John Muir. Eloise started her own cannabis practice in 2015 and has treated over 7000 patients using cannabis. Eloise is the current President of the American Cannabis Nurses Association and an Executive Board Member for Leaf411.

References

Nichols K. Chart: 2020 an ‘extinction event’ for thousands of CBD companies, but industry remains crowded. Hemp Industry Daily. https://hempindustrydaily.com/chart-2020-an-extinction-event-for-thousands-of-cbd-companies-but-industry-remains-crowded/. Published August 3, 2020. Accessed February 25, 2021.

Skelly C. Top CBD Companies. https://blog.brightfieldgroup.com/top-5-cbd-companies. Accessed February 25, 2021. Skelly C. Top CBD Companies.


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.


Hand putting quarter in piggy bank with cannabis symbol, after saving money on cannabis

Saving Money on Cannabis

Learn how dispensary deals and specials can save you money

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

Cannabis is an amazing plant. Depending on the cultivar (strain), it may serve as an effective tool for pain relief, sleep support, or even pre-workout motivation! However, the cost of cannabis adds up. Today we’re sharing our top tips for saving money on cannabis, and it starts with knowing what you need, as well as where to look for discounts and deals on cannabis products.

Three large jars of cannabis at a dispensary. Knowing why you want to use cannabis can help you make the right choice.

Before You Shop: Know Why You Want to Use Cannabis

One of our top tips for saving money on cannabis is to start by identifying why you want to use cannabis, then find the strains or product types that match your goals before you head out to the dispensary. Otherwise, you could end up buying something that sounds good, but doesn’t align with your needs.

For example, if flower is your preferred type of medicine, the Red-Headed Stranger strain might pique your interest based on its name (yes, it is named after Willie Nelson’s 1975 album!). Red-Headed Stranger may become your best friend if you’re looking for a creative, energizing daytime boost. However, if your goal is improved rest, then this strain would not be a good fit.

Cannabis products are also available in different potencies, different ratios including both CBD and THC, and a wide range of product forms including flower (bud), concentrates, tinctures, pills, edibles, topicals and even suppositories that have different onset and offset times.

While you may be tempted to say, “Give me your strongest stuff!” to the budtender, in reality, a smaller dose or different form may be more effective (and less expensive!) for your needs.

Every day, our Leaf nurses help callers sort through all the options available in dispensaries, providing impartial, balanced guidance and education. Call our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for help with your questions.

Dispensary budtenders can also help point you in the right direction; however, keep in mind that they are not medical professionals, and in fact are restricted from giving medical advice.

Dispensary sign. Save money by knowing where to find dispensary deals and specials.

Finding Dispensary Deals and Specials

You’ve done your research and narrowed down your product selection. Now, let’s turn to ways to save money on your cannabis.

Cannabis advertising is heavily restricted. You won’t find dispensary sales circulars tucked in your mail. However, cannabis retailers in most legal states can offer specials to consumers—you just need to know where to look for the details!

Visit a dispensary’s website and you’ll likely find recurring specials on a set day of the week, making it easy to plan your shopping around your product preferences. Are you an edibles fan? Many dispensaries offer 10%-20% discounts on edibles on Mondays or Tuesdays. Other days may feature specials on flower, concentrates, topicals or products containing CBD. By timing your shopping trips around these weekly specials, you can save considerable money.

In addition, some dispensaries offer ongoing discounts to Veterans and to customers who are 65 or older. It doesn’t hurt to ask if the dispensary offers these discounts!

Beyond ongoing promotions, dispensaries often hold sales in conjunction with product launches or holidays. Again, the dispensary’s website is the best place to look for these specials.

Why don’t dispensaries share their specials on social media? Most social media platforms have strict rules against online cannabis sales advertising, though cannabis businesses may share informational or educational content.

Finally, use in-person sources of information. When you visit a dispensary, it’s always worth asking your budtender about upcoming sales on your favorite products.

Phone on table surrounded by cannabis buds. Many dispensaries text sales to subscribers.

Dispensary Loyalty Programs, Newsletters and Texts: A Good Source If You Don’t Mind Sharing Your Information

Many dispensaries offer loyalty programs that function a lot like any other retailer’s rewards programs. Loyalty members may receive special discounts and deals, including earning points that can be redeemed on future purchases. For consumers who are comfortable sharing their personal information, these loyalty programs can be a good way to save money on cannabis.

(Note: These dispensary loyalty programs are different than designating a medical marijuana dispensary as your caregiver, which many states require as part of their medical cannabis program.)

When you sign up for a dispensary loyalty program, you’ll likely be asked if you want to receive email newsletters or text messages as well. Most dispensaries also offer newsletter sign-ups on their website, without requiring visitors to join their loyalty programs.

Other Ways to Stretch Your Cannabis Budget When Shopping at Dispensaries

You’ve marked cannabis sales days on your calendar and joined your favorite dispensary’s loyalty program. What other ways can you save money on cannabis?

Actually, that’s a good question to ask the budtenders! They might be able to recommend an alternative that is less expensive yet delivers a similar effect or flavor as a higher-tier product.

Many dispensaries also offer price breaks on larger quantities of flower, concentrates or other products. However, keep in mind that flower and concentrates are perishable. THC and terpenes break down over time, and flower may dry out, even when properly stored in an airtight container and kept away from sunlight and heat. (Hint: The freezer isn’t the best place to store your cannabis, either! Check out this link for tips on how to store flower and edibles.)

Making edibles, with cannabis shake in a small dish next to a mixing bowl with brownie batter.

Another low-cost option is to buy marijuana shake, the small bits and pieces that break off of larger buds as they are handled. Trimmers and dispensaries collect shake and either use it to make prerolls, or package it by weight, selling it at a discount when compared to bud. 

On the upside, shake can be an inexpensive ingredient source for making your own cannabis tinctures or edibles, or rolling your own joints. However, you will want to make sure that you know what you are buying. Shake may sometimes contain stems, leaves or even a few seeds.

Shake is often available in a specific strain. However, dispensaries may also mix all their shake together from various strains, resulting in the cannabis equivalent of kitchen sink cookies (containing everything but the kitchen sink)!

Cannabis seedling growing in a pot at home.

Is It Cheaper to Grow Your Own Cannabis?

Many people find growing their own cannabis to be a rewarding experience. But is it cheaper than buying cannabis at a dispensary?

Leafly took a detailed look at this question a few years ago and concluded that no, it is not cheaper to grow your own cannabis. Their analysis factored in equipment and supplies for an ideal grow set-up, with costs running into the thousands. However, a quick look at the comments on that article show that many people successfully grow their personal supply of flower with lower-cost supplies.

Before you stock up on seeds or clones and other supplies, be sure to check your state and local laws, as well as any HOA regulations that might restrict personal cannabis grows. You’ll find different laws and regulations depending on whether you’re a medical marijuana patient or an adult-use (recreational) consumer. The laws will also spell out how many plants you’re allowed to grow and where you can grow on your property. For example, Colorado requires all plants to be kept in an enclosed, locked area that cannot be openly viewed. That means you cannot grow your cannabis in front of your favorite sunlit picture window, since passersby would be able to see your plants.

Finding the Best Cannabis for Your Needs and Budget

If you’re feeling a bit lost, don’t worry! Our fully-licensed Leaf RNs can help you sort through your options, saving you money and time. Best of all, as a non-profit, we are able to offer our service for free. Call our 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.

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.


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 Gonzalez-Walker

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 Gonzalez-Walker

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).


Does Cannabis Interact with Other Medications?

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

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!


Leaf411 Year in Review and Predictions for 2021

Reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

As the year wraps up, we’re sharing highlights from Leaf411’s first full year in operation, along with our plans and predictions for 2021. While we talk a lot about the Leaf411 hotline, it’s only one of several programs our organization is undertaking to improve access to no-cost medically-sound information on legal cannabis and CBD hemp products!

The need for balanced, unbiased cannabis information is greater than ever, with additional states voting for medical and adult-use (recreational) legalization in the 2020 election. As a result, one in three Americans now lives in a state where adult-use cannabis is already legal or will be legal soon.

Answering Your Cannabis Questions on Our Free RN Hotline

Our Leaf411 hotline launched in October 2019, with the online chat option going live in January 2020. During the hotline’s first full year of operation, we received calls from almost all 50 states as well as several other countries! Who’s calling? It’s a mix of patients, new and experienced cannabis consumers, as well as clinical professionals seeking to expand their own knowledge to better serve their patients.

With more states legalizing cannabis, we anticipate that demand will rapidly grow for medically-sound, science-based guidance on cannabis and CBD hemp use. 

Moving into 2021, our biggest challenge is securing increased funding to hire additional Leaf RNs for the hotline. If you’re a cannabis business interested in supporting consumers’ access to free, unbiased information and resources, we encourage you to visit our business membership page. Individuals can also support our mission by donating at this link.

Laptop screen showing diverse participants in a virtual cannabis education event.

Cannabis Community Outreach Goes Virtual

From the beginning, we envisioned Leaf411 as a boots-on-the-ground organization, with our nurses meeting people where they are at both figuratively and literally, whether that’s at a senior living center, community event or dispensary.

Of course, the pandemic changed those plans. Like many other organizations, we pivoted to virtual learning events designed to engage and encourage audience questions and conversation. In August 2020, we held our inaugural Leaf Learning Series: “Get the 411 on Cannabis Therapeutics” event, followed by our “Supporting Veterans” event in November 2020, which featured Veteran-led cannabis advocacy groups as well as many of our supporting members.

In 2020, Leaf411 also participated in numerous national events either as panel participants or nonprofit exhibitors, including the Whole Plant Expo, Women in Plant Medicine Summit, MJBizCon Next, Emerge Winter Cannabis Conference, and I Heart 420 Living Room Lovefest held on April 20, 2020.

In the near-term, virtual events remain the default as we work within pandemic restrictions. Our next Leaf Learning Series event in Spring 2021 will be geared toward older adults and cannabis—keep an eye on our social media and newsletter for more details! Not signed up for the newsletter yet? You’ll find the signup form at the bottom of this page.

We are also expanding outreach through our podcast series co-hosted by Leaf411 Co-Founder and COO Jennifer Axcell and podcaster Steve McMorrow. Jennifer and Steve recently sat down with Veterans to talk about cannabis and healing. You can find these insightful, inspiring podcast episodes on Buzzsprout or Spotify.

Close-up of a young Black person using a calculator to update their budget

Cannabis Compassion: Making Cannabis Affordable for Patients in Need

In 2020, we launched our Affordability Program to connect low-income patients, families and Veterans with fully-vetted free or low-cost legal cannabis and CBD hemp products. These products are donated by cannabis and CBD hemp manufacturers, with marijuana products distributed via legal dispensaries, and CBD hemp products distributed by a designated pick-up location or mail. The Affordability Program also offers scholarships to qualifying patients who cannot afford medical marijuana evaluations. So far this year, the Affordability Program has served approximately 200 patients.

Americans for Safe Access signed on to the effort as a program partner in November 2020, recognizing that the high cost of cannabis is a barrier for many patients. If you’re a patient advocate or industry member who’d like to lend your support, we encourage you to visit our Affordability Program page to learn more.

Nurse on a laptop completing clinical cannabis education.

Building the Leaf Nurse Network in 2021

From the very first day, one of our priorities at Leaf411 was to build clinical professionals’ capacity for providing accurate, balanced information to diverse patient communities. In 2020, we began laying the groundwork through our collaboration with Radicle Health, inviting Radicle Health founder Eloise Theisen, RN, to join our Executive Board as the Leaf Nurse Network Program Chair.

We also knew that in order to meaningfully serve diverse communities, we needed to engage diverse partners in Leaf Nurse Network program development. We are excited to collaborate with Cannabis in Colour, a professional development resource and intentional community for BIPOC in the cannabis and hemp sectors, as we continue building the Leaf Nurse Network.

Asphalt road through forest with the years “2020,” “2021,” etc. stretching ahead toward the future.

Growing Our Leaf411 Business Membership

Our industry supporters expanded, literally from coast to coast! We welcomed West Coast supporters CAASI CBD (Oregon), Care by Design (California) and A Therapeutic Alternative dispensary (California), along with East Coast supporter Takoma Wellness Center dispensary (Washington DC).  

We also welcomed many great Colorado cannabis and CBD businesses–check out our Member Directory to find a full list of our fully-vetted supporting members! 

We can’t thank our industry members enough for their support, which powers everything we do at Leaf411. We encourage you to keep these businesses in mind when shopping for legal marijuana or CBD hemp products.

Diverse group of college graduates throwing caps in air, celebrating new cannabis degrees

Cannabis is Expanding in Higher Education

Beyond our walls, cannabis continues expanding into higher education (no pun intended!), further establishing the industry as a professional field within its own right.

Our own Co-Founder and CEO/ED, Katherine Golden, RN, will be presenting a noncredit workshop in March 2021 at the Community College of Denver. The workshop is part of a preview series for CCD’s Associates and Bachelors in Cannabis degree program that launches in Fall 2021. Other workshop presenters include Dr. Dave Gordon from 4 Pillars Health & Wellness, along with representatives from LivWell dispensary. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to learn more details on these offerings, once available.

White notepad with crafted string heart and cannabis leaf resting on top

Help Our Nonprofit Cannabis Organization Grow in 2021!

We look forward to continued expansion in 2021, but we cannot do it without you! Please donate to our nonprofit Leaf411 organization if you’re able to, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and help us spread the word about the services that Leaf411 provides for patients, consumers, clinicians and industry partners.


Supporting Our Veterans This November

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us, including our military Veterans. This November, Leaf411 is putting the spotlight on those who’ve served, celebrating their stories and creating new connections through our virtual Leaf Learning Series: Supporting Veterans event scheduled for Thursday, November 19, from 4-7 pm MST.

Two veterans sitting across from one another at a table, recording a podcast about how cannabis benefitted their healing.

We’re also launching a new podcast, Leaf Live, as part of the educational event. Our  podcasts will feature Vets sharing their stories and talking about how cannabis helped them manage conditions brought on by their call of duty. Our event will also feature these Vets and the nonprofits they founded to support fellow service members.

Keep reading to learn more about why we’re focusing on Veterans this month, as well as to learn about the nonprofits we’re partnering with for our interactive learning series event.

A Black veteran stares out a window from a darkened room.

2020 Has Been a Difficult Year for Our Veterans

Pandemic-related shutdowns and social distancing restrictions changed all our lives this year, but for Veterans the impact has been especially difficult.

Following military duty, many Vets have found purpose by serving as community leaders, speaking publicly about their own hardships and motivating others to overcome challenges and barriers. The majority of these outlets—meetings, presentations and in-person classes—were abruptly shut down in early 2020 as stay-at-home restrictions were quickly enacted in response to the rapidly-spreading virus. While medical experts agree that the restrictions were urgently needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, there was little discussion about how restrictions would impact communities that rely heavily on one another for connection and support.

A female Veteran in military uniform stares to the side with a pensive look.

Even during normal times, Veterans are at increased risk for depression, PTSD, and other mental health concerns when compared to non-military civilians. Concerningly, suicide rates among Veterans also trend higher than the general population. The reasons behind this increased risk of mental health conditions are complex, but the realities of 2020 have only exacerbated the situation.

Close up of military field jacket and American flag patch with cannabis flower on top.

Veterans Building Community Around Cannabis

The community built around cannabis, along with the therapeutic benefits of the plant itself, have provided a lifeline for many wounded warriors during dark times. Some of these Veterans have even been inspired to form their own nonprofits to help fellow soldiers along the path of learning and healing.

As Leaf411 contemplated how to celebrate Veterans this November, we decided our best approach was to share our platform with others who are fighting for the right of all Vets to safely, legally access cannabis medicine. Our November 19, 2020, event will feature the voices of Veterans, with educational content geared toward your questions, including how cannabis use may impact VA benefits. We’ll also hear from our supporting member Medically Correct about the cannabis research they’re doing in partnership with the VA. Other Leaf411 members will also be presenting information about their products and answering your questions.

Several Veterans organizations will be on hand to share their stories and connect directly with attendees through interactive chats and a dedicated virtual Veterans Lounge. These organizations include:

  • CanniMedic.org – CannaMedic.org was founded by Navy Veteran and retired Paramedic Firefighter Stanley Atkins II to bridge the gap between medical cannabis, education and patients who could benefit from cannabis or CBD. 
  • Balanced Veterans – Balanced Veterans advocates for alternative therapies for Veterans, including cannabis as a safe alternative to opioids and other pharmaceuticals. The organization also recognizes that community, conversation and holistic healing are all part of the path to healing and provides support to Veterans across all these areas. In addition, Balanced Veterans provides financial support to disabled Veterans in Pennsylvania to offset the cost of medical marijuana card certification.  
  • Veterans for Natural Rights (VNR) – VNR is a Colorado-based nonprofit serving Veterans, their families and friends. The organization is built on the premise that freedom is the birthright of every American. This freedom extends to safely, legally accessing cannabis and psychedelics as research-based treatment options for PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain and other conditions. 
  • Veterans Ending the Stigma (VETS) – This Ohio-based nonprofit seeks to address various stigmas that are commonly connected to Veterans, from outdated opinions about mental illness and homelessness to misconceptions about cannabis.  VETS supports cannabis’s therapeutic potential for PTSD, TBI, chronic pain and other battle-related conditions. 
  • Helmand Valley Growers Company (HVGC) – HVGC was founded by U.S. Special Operations Veterans who understand the challenges that Veterans face as the result of time spent on the battlefield. They’re partnering with cannabis researchers to develop a Veteran-based protocol and provide evidence of the benefits of medical cannabis as an alternative to habit-forming opioids. HVGC is a fully-licensed cannabis company in the state of California, with products sold in legal dispensaries. Profits support the company’s mission to advance the science around cannabis’s potential therapeutic benefits for Veterans. HVGC also formed a separate nonprofit, Battle Brothers Foundation, to provide personal, medical and financial support to struggling Veterans.

A female veteran on her laptop, signing up for the free Leaf Learning event.

Sign Up for Our Leaf Learning Series Today!

We hope you’re able to join us for our next free Leaf Learning series event. Sign up today at this link: https://hopin.to/events/leaf-learning-series-supporting-veterans 

Also, we encourage you to share this information with family members, friends and colleagues who might benefit. While our learning series event is designed for Veterans, it will also include a lot of great educational content geared toward anyone who’s interested in cannabis’s therapeutic potential!

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.