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.


The Leaf411 Cannabis Hotline Difference

Learn what makes us unique in the world of cannabis and medicine, and what to expect when you call the hotline

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

Have you ever tried talking to your primary care physician about cannabis as an option, only to have the conversation fall flat?

This information gap is what inspired Leaf411 co-founders Katherine Golden, RN, and Jennifer Axcell to establish Leaf411 in 2019.

Today we offer a quick rundown of why stigma remains in healthcare, and share an inside look at what happens when you call the hotline.

Cropped image of physician and nurse with crossed arms reflecting judgmental attitude toward cannabis.

Addressing Stigma in Healthcare

Public acceptance of cannabis is strong across nearly all age groups, and more states are voting to legalize either adult-use (recreational) or medical marijuana.

However, if you’ve ever tried bringing up cannabis with your primary care provider, then you’re likely aware that the medical field lags behind. Your provider may have refused to discuss cannabis, or may have even questioned your motives. Why is that?

Some medical professionals still treat marijuana primarily as a drug abuse issue, not as a clinically-valid treatment option. Even physicians who might support cannabis therapeutics are often censored by their employers, including doctors practicing at the VA. In addition, both physicians and nurses may be wary of losing their professional licenses if they discuss cannabis since marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug and is still federally illegal.

Another issue is the gap in knowledge among many providers. According to a 2017 study, less than 10% of medical schools included medical marijuana in their curricula, leaving physicians-in-training on their own to learn about cannabis therapeutics.

Fortunately, awareness of cannabis therapeutics is increasing among the medical professions, with organizations like American Cannabis Nurses Association and Radicle Health providing continuing education to healthcare professionals like our own Leaf Nurses. 

Our Leaf Nurses are fully-licensed registered nurses with clinical experience who’ve completed specialized training in cannabis therapeutics.

Hand holding a cordless phone, calling the anonymous, free Leaf411 hotline

What Happens When You Call the Free Leaf411 Cannabis Nurse Hotline?

Our Leaf nurses approach calls to the hotline just as they would any other patient encounter, bringing nursing best practices into their work. This means that when you call the Leaf411 hotline, you should expect an experience similar to other telehealth encounters, though the focus is on education not diagnosis (diagnosis would be outside of our scope of practice!). 

Generally, you can expect the following steps during your call: 

  • Background Information: While the hotline is anonymous, we gather non-identifying  data (location, age, etc.) to ensure our services match caller needs. This information also helps us determine what cannabis and CBD hemp options exist based on laws in your home state. We may gather this information up-front or as part of the conversation, depending on the caller’s needs. 
  • Triage: Our Leaf Nurses ask a series of questions to understand your healthcare needs and goals for using CBD hemp or marijuana, whether you’re completely new to the plant or an experienced user. We’ll also ask questions about your activities of daily living to make sure that our education is tailored to your day-to-day realities. 
  • Your History of Marijuana Use: When considering marijuana or CBD hemp as a therapeutic tool, it’s important to factor in where you’re coming from. Are you an experienced user, or was the last time you consumed over 20 years ago? Have your past experiences been positive or negative? It’s okay if you have hesitations or concerns based on past experiences! Our Leaf Nurses are non-judgmental and provide balanced information based on your goals and preferences.  
  • Offering Education and Guidance: Once we have a clear sense of your healthcare needs and goals, we provide education and guidance that can save you time and money when it comes to finding the best cannabis options for pain, insomnia, or other needs. Our Leaf Nurses also understand that most callers want relief without impairment so that they can go about their daily lives.

    We start with Cannabis 101 education on your endocannabinoid system, followed by general guidance on product types, routes of administration, and dosing. For example, our Leaf Nurses may suggest starting with a ratio product that contains specific amounts of THC and CBD. They also take into account any physical limitations that callers may have to recommend easy-to-use product formats, like gummies that can easily be divided into smaller doses. 
  • Follow-Up Options: If you’re calling us at the very beginning of your cannabis journey, wondering where to start, you’re not alone! Many of our callers are new to marijuana or CBD hemp. We understand that as you begin trying different products and learn more about cannabis, additional questions may come up. While the hotline is anonymous, we do take notes as part of our nursing practice, including your phone number. That makes it easy for us if you have follow-up questions so that we can pull up those past notes and pick up right where we left off. You can also request to speak with the same Leaf Nurse you previously talked to, though we may need to schedule a call-back time based on our nurses’ schedules.

Want to hear what it sounds like to call the hotline? Colorado Public Radio’s On Something podcast gave us a test call, and also talks to Katherine about the hotline’s work.

Hand holding a puzzle piece with the word “Guidance” printed on it.

How the Leaf411 Hotline is Different than Other Resources

The Leaf411 hotline is unique in that we’re the only free RN-staffed cannabis health resource in the U.S. (at least that we’re aware of!). 

There are many free online resources for general learning, including our own Leaf Library. But when it comes to questions specific to you–your health goals and needs–those are best addressed by a trained clinician, not someone without a medical background.

Other cannabis clinicians provide individualized education, but they charge patients for the service. However, we decided to do things differently at Leaf411, to ensure that anyone and everyone would have access to the same professional and trustworthy cannabis information.

Your Calls Demonstrate the Need for Clinically-Backed Cannabis Education

Whenever you choose the non-profit Leaf411 hotline as a resource, you’re supporting the need for balanced, unbiased clinically-backed education on marijuana and CBD hemp. We point to hotline’s overall call volume as proof when we talk to grantmakers, industry or public health partners. 

We know some people would like to support the non-profit hotline in other ways as well. Sign up for our newsletter below to stay up-to-date on upcoming fundraising initiatives, as well as our upcoming Leaf Learning: Get the 411 series events!


Cannabis, CBD Hemp and Workplace Drug Testing

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

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.


Researcher in white coat looking at tablet screen with medical discoveries like the ECS

Cannabis 101: The Endocannabinoid System

Is the endocannabinoid system real? How does cannabis interact with it? We answer your questions in today’s Cannabis 101 blog.

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

For anyone unable to attend our inaugural Leaf Learning Series: Get the 411 on Cannabis Therapeutics, we wanted to take a step back and give you a quick review on the body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS. A basic understanding of this system will go a long way in helping you find the best CBD hemp or cannabis product for your needs.

We can already hear what you’re thinking—that the ECS sounds made-up. After all, none of us learned about the ECS in high school biology!

Researcher in white coat looking at tablet screen with medical discoveries like the ECS

How the Endocannabinoid System Was Discovered

The discovery of the ECS happened relatively recently. In 1988, scientists discovered that rats’ brains had specialized receptors that were activated by THC. The identification of these receptors led to new knowledge about the ECS, including:

  • The ECS is found in humans, dogs, and all other animals that have spinal cords.
  • This system’s purpose is to maintain internal balance (also called homeostasis).
  • It plays an important role in regulating metabolism, sleep, mood, and immunity, along with other functions.

What are CB1 and CB2 Receptors?

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

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

The body produces endocannabinoids which bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, signaling when the system needs to take action to maintain or restore internal balance.

Just like any other system in your body, the ECS can also fall out of balance, requiring intervention to restore homeostasis. Dr. Ethan Russo has published extensive research on this front, looking specifically at how clinical endocannabinoid deficiency may be connected to treatment-resistant conditions including migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and other conditions.

Woman balancing on a fallen tree log in a green forest, representing the balance the ECS provides.

How Cannabis Supports Your Endocannabinoid System

Dr. Dustin Sulak at Healer.com is an expert in the ECS. In this 3-minute video, he explains how cannabis and the ECS interact: https://healer.com/the-endocannabinoid-system-video/

(Prefer reading over video? You can find Dr. Sulak’s article on the ECS at this link.)

Scientists in other medical specialties are aware of the ECS as well, researching its potential as a therapeutic avenue for treating a wide range of diseases.

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

Tabletop with a keyboard, small plant and printed sticky note that says “Need Help?”

Our Leaf Nurses Can Help

Now that you’ve learned about the ECS, you might be wondering how to use this knowledge to guide your use of CBD hemp or cannabis containing higher levels of THC. Our Leaf nurses have completed specialized clinical education on the endocannabinoid system, and can help you find the most effective CBD hemp or marijuana options for your specific health goals. As you likely know from our other blog posts, not all pain or insomnia are the same. Different issues may require different approaches to maximize the ECS’s potential to restore balance. Call 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us from the Leaf411.org homepage for free guidance tailored to your questions!

Not ready to chat with a nurse? You can find more information about the ECS in our Leaf Library.  

Our Leaf Learning: Get the 411 Series is a great way to learn more about how cannabis might help relieve pain, improve sleep, and restore balance. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter below so you can be the first to know about upcoming topics for the next Leaf Learning: Get the 411 Series event!


Top Takeaways from the Inaugural Leaf Learning Series

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

Were you able to join us on Thursday, August 20th, for our first online Leaf Learning Series? If not, don’t worry! We plan to release an archive of the event at a future date. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page to find out when the content is available! As a newsletter subscriber, you’ll also be the first to learn about our next session covering all things CBD hemp.

In the meantime, we thought we’d share some of the top cannabis takeaways from our inaugural session.

Diverse mix of hands raised into the air, showing how everyone is different.

When it Comes to Cannabis, Everyone is Different

Everyone has an endocannabinoid system—but everyone’s endocannabinoid system is just a little bit different. Leaf411’s Founder and CEO/ED Katherine Golden, RN, and our Advisory Board member Dr. Dave Gordon from 4 Pillars Health & Wellness always recommend starting low and going slow when finding your optimal dose of CBD hemp or marijuana containing higher levels of THC, in part because everyone’s endocannabinoid system is unique. The dose that works best for your friend or partner might not be the best amount of CBD or THC for you.

During the learning session, Dr. Dave also talked about how there’s no one best way to use cannabis. Different product types offer different benefits, depending on your health issues and wellness goals.

Understanding the basics of your endocannabinoid system and how CBD, THC and other cannabinoids interact with this system is a great place to start on your cannabis journey, saving you time and money as you begin exploring the best cannabis options for your health goals. That’s why we focused on Cannabis Therapeutics 101 for this first session!

Cannabinol (CBN) molecular structure drawn on whiteboard.

In a subsequent session during the event, Dr. Dave addressed the therapeutic potential of minor cannabinoids like CBN for sleep, and THC-A as a non-intoxicating alternative to help manage pain and nausea. He also talked about how some peoples’ sensitivity to minuscule amounts of THC might actually be due to either inconsistent product quality or the type of product they’re using—this is a much more common experience with edibles as a result of how THC is metabolized by the liver.

Want to learn more? Keep an eye out for the recorded session, and in the meantime, we encourage you to look through our blog and Leaf Library, which includes useful FAQs.

Of course, you are always welcome to call us at no cost at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us from the Leaf411.org homepage during our hotline hours.

Cannabis vape and cannabis flower, two effective forms of cannabis medicine.

Cannabis Medicine: Don’t Be Afraid of Inhalation

Dr. Dave and Katherine tackled one of the biggest hesitations many people have with cannabis—smoking and vaping. They discussed how inhalation methods may provide a safe, effective way to use cannabis medicine. Inhalation can be especially effective when seeking immediate relief for breakthrough pain or nausea. Dr. Dave suggested that vaping flower is a good approach, especially if you’re concerned about unwanted ingredients in vape cartridges.

If you are shopping for oil vapes, look for products with limited ingredients, and which don’t contain propylene glycol (PG), polyethylene glycol (PEG), or vitamin E acetate (the identified source of last year’s 2019 vaping-associated lung injuries).

Several of our supporting members have developed cannabis edibles that utilize cutting-edge technology to deliver a delta-9-THC inhalation type experience—check out Quiq’s wide range of products or Wana Brand’s Fact-Acting Gummies as examples of this new type of product.

THC oil in a beaker on a lab bench, with test results beneath it.

Cannabis Product Quality Matters

At Leaf411, we know that quality matters. Product quality and safety are always in the front of our minds when we review potential members.

During our Leaf Learning Series, we were excited to provide a platform for many of our members to talk about their ingredient sourcing and product manufacturing processes. Attendees chatted with company representatives, including founders and CEOs, during live sessions and in the vendor expo hall.

Nature’s Gift Shop, an incredible family-owned dispensary in West Pueblo, and Lightshade Dispensary, with locations throughout the Denver metro area, both shared dispensary tours along with live Q&A, with participants asking questions about the different products they offer. Both dispensaries are dedicated to making every visit a positive experience by meeting consumers where they’re at, whether they’re brand new to cannabis or an experienced user. By the way, the next time you visit Nature’s Gift Shop, be sure to check out their Willie Nelson sculpture that was made by a local artist!

Robbie Wroblewski also provided an incredibly fun and interactive virtual tour of Seed & Smith’s Growhouse, answering a wide range of audience questions. While we missed smelling the extract room (a feature of their pre-COVID in-person tours), we appreciated the behind-the-scenes look at how cannabis is cultivated.

All of this content will be available on-demand soon. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for updates!

Learning From Top Cannabis Experts

Remember how we said that everyone’s endocannabinoid system is unique? Cannabis retailers and manufacturers understand that consumers have different health goals, tolerances and product preferences as well! 

Many of our supporting members employ food engineers, chemists and other industry experts to develop reliable, high-bioavailability cannabis products. If you weren’t able to attend the August 20th session, we hope you’ll find time to join us in the future, because you’ll be amazed by both our supporting members’ professional backgrounds and the science that they’re bringing to their product development!

Logo for CannOccasions, a cannabis event management company.

A Special Thank You to CannOccasions

We also want to extend special recognition to the amazing CannOccasions team who managed the registration, online event platform and all logistics. If you’re seeking a professional cannabis events management company for your virtual or IRL event, we highly recommend CannOccassions!

Clothesline with a hemp leaf and sign that says “What is CBD?”

Looking Forward to Our Next Leaf Learning Event: All About CBD

Our next Leaf Learning event will be all about CBD! We’ll cover the differences between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and isolate forms of CBD hemp, and provide education to help you find the right CBD for your health goals. 

We also know that many people, including first responders and healthcare workers, are concerned about whether CBD hemp can trigger positive workplace drug test results, despite the fact that it’s a non-intoxicating substance. Join us during our next Leaf Learning event to hear answers to these concerns and more.

We’re still in the process of scheduling our CBD hemp-focused Leaf Learning event. Sign up for our Leaf411 newsletter below to stay in the loop as we release more registration details!


Leaf411 Affordability Program Q&A

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

Leaf411’s new Affordability Program was created to help offset financial challenges many people face when accessing legal cannabis or CBD hemp products. 

We know you have questions about the program. Below, we’re sharing some answers to questions we commonly hear. Keep reading to learn more about the program and how to apply.

What does the Affordability Program provide?

The Affordability Program features two components:

  1. Working with manufacturers and dispensaries to offer low-cost CBD hemp and marijuana products to qualifying patients. Manufacturers are often eager to share deeply discounted or donated products that might otherwise go unused or be discarded due to product expiration.
  2. Creating scholarships to reduce costs associated with medical marijuana card evaluations, with a priority placed on pediatric evaluations. The State of Colorado requires pediatric patients to undergo two independent provider evaluations for a medical card. This means most parents need to drive to two different clinics, take time off for two different appointments which doubles the cost for their families.

Do I need to live in Colorado to participate?

Initially, the Leaf411 Affordability Program will be limited to Colorado residents and cannabis businesses, with future plans to extend it to other states that have legal cannabis in place. Why is that? Individual states have unique restrictions and regulations. As we expand, we want to make sure our Affordability Program remains compliant with all state and local laws.

Note: CBD hemp is federally legal and can be legally shipped across state lines. We invite CBD hemp retailers to contact us if you’re interested in participating in Leaf411’s Affordability program either in your own state or at the national level.

What are the income eligibility criteria? Do you take into account extenuating circumstances like recent job loss?

We use a means test to determine eligibility, which is why we ask for your gross monthly income. Our means test is based on guidelines that you’re likely familiar with, including Medicare/Medicaid, TANF and SSI. 

However, we realize that your monthly income may not be the full story. For many people, the pandemic has resulted in either reduction in pay or outright job loss. Other people are finding themselves stretching their dollars even further as they provide extra support to family or friends. 

The bottom line for us that we don’t want cost to be a barrier to accessing CBD hemp or cannabis for health concerns. If you’re not certain whether you’ll qualify, reach out to us and let us know your specific circumstances and we’ll do all we can to help.

Can I apply on behalf of my child or someone else?

Yes. Parents and legal guardians are able to apply for pediatric patients and disabled adults if unable to do so themselves.

Can I apply on behalf of my pet?

We love our four-legged friends at Leaf411, and have even seen firsthand the power that CBD has in improving our pets’ quality of life! However, our Affordability Program’s focus is only on people, not pets, at this time.

Do I need to already have experience using CBD hemp or marijuana to qualify?

No, you do not need any past experience with CBD hemp or marijuana to participate in our Affordability Program. In fact, our Leaf411 nurses can help you determine the best place to start in conjunction with the Affordability Program–for instance, if you’re wondering whether you need a medical marijuana card, or if you have questions about CBD hemp versus marijuana bought at a dispensary. Call us for free at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us from the Leaf411.org homepage during hotline hours with your questions.

Where can I find the application?

You’ll find the application at the “Apply Now” button on the bottom of our Affordability Program page, below the logos of our program partners and sponsors.

The application form seems intimidating. Will I have to supply all of my medical records to you?

No, we do not require you to submit medical records or disclose detailed health information. However, we know that some participants may voluntarily share sensitive health information with us which may be shared on a need-to-know basis within the program staff.

What steps are you taking to keep my information secure?

Your information will never be shared outside of Leaf411’s organization and all applications are kept in an online file within the organization’s operating system.

How do I find out if I qualified?

After you apply, you’ll receive an email within about 48 hours letting you know if your application was approved or denied.

Once I qualify, then what happens?

Approved applicants will receive an email letting them know they have been accepted into the Affordability Program. They will then start receiving notifications via email and have access to a private patient portal page on the Leaf411 website that will detail discounted medicine and products, services and other information for participants.

How long am I part of the program?

You are enrolled in the program on an annual basis, and will need to reapply each year if you wish to continue.

What happens if I don’t qualify? Can I appeal or request more information about the decision?

Our goal is to improve access to CBD hemp and marijuana for patients who otherwise might not be able to afford it. We’ve put safeguards in place to ensure we reach as many people in need as possible, while also protecting the program from abuse that could quickly deplete our resources. 

We will always reach out to you to answer questions if your application is denied. We understand that in some cases, misunderstandings about the application process may play a role, or that technology issues, language barriers or other circumstances may be an issue as well. Our goal is to help you, whether that’s through the Affordability Program, education or other resources.

Can the med card scholarships be used at any provider offering MMJ evaluations?

The med card scholarships can only be used at providers who give discounts through Leaf 411’s Affordability Program. You’ll receive a list of those providers after qualifying for the program.

What CBD hemp and marijuana companies are participating?

You can find a list of participating industry partners at the bottom of our Affordability Program page on our website. Once you qualify for the program, you’ll receive updated information about specific products available, as well as where to purchase them.

I still have more questions. Who can I contact?

Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran, Affordability Program Chair, can help with any questions you have about the Affordability Program, whether you’re a patient or potential industry partner. 

For other questions, use our Contact Page to get in touch.

Sign up for our newsletter below to get the 411 on our upcoming initiatives and events!


Older Asian man yawning while looking at his phone.

Seniors and Insomnia: How a Little THC Can Go A Long Way to Restoring Sleep

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

Insomnia is an issue we hear a lot about on the Leaf411 hotline. Many callers ask if cannabis might help manage age-related sleep issues.

The short answer for most people is yes—but it depends on your specific health conditions as well as finding the best products to meet your needs.

We also hear concerns from callers who are eager to try cannabis as an alternative for sleep but worry about experiencing an unwanted high.

In today’s blog, we’ll address both these issues—why cannabis may help with age-related sleep issues and how to use it to minimize the risk of feeling overly intoxicated or uncomfortable.

(Note: When we talk about cannabis, we include both CBD hemp which is federally legal and non-intoxicating with less than 0.3% THC, as well as marijuana containing over 0.3% THC, which is legally sold in dispensaries in states that have legalized adult-use/recreational or medical marijuana.)

Older Black man sits at his computer staring into the distance, appearing tired and distracted.

Why Is Sleep So Hard As You Get Older?

It’s a well-known fact that sleep patterns change as we grow older. Falling asleep is more difficult and quality of sleep suffers, according to the Sleep Foundation. Many seniors also experience insomnia, impacting their overall quality of life. Changes in seniors’ sleep architecture trace back to the aging brain, a phenomenon that researchers have managed to capture using imaging in the lab.

Also, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, pain and many other common physical and mental health conditions may negatively impact sleep cycles. And let’s not forget those everyday worries that keep all our minds preoccupied late into the night!

Clothesline with 3 signs saying “Good,” “Better,” and “Best,” symbolizing the challenge of finding the best solution for sleep.

Finding a Sleep Solution that Fits

When seeking a sleep solution, it’s essential first to have a clear sense of where the problem is. Many different treatment options exist, but they are not one-size-fits-all.

If your sleep difficulties are rooted in unhelpful bedtime habits like keeping the news channel on all evening, then the solution may involve behavioral approaches like turning off the TV and listening to calming music instead.

Certain health conditions and medications may also cause insomnia. If you suspect that a health condition may be the source of your insomnia, we suggest first talking with your primary provider to address any underlying medical issues.

In some cases, cannabis might be a helpful adjunct therapy for specific health issues. For example, cannabis has shown promise in managing restless leg syndrome. However, in other cases, cannabis may not be a good fit if it interferes with medications you’re taking.

Our Leaf nurses have the experience, training and research-backed knowledge to help determine whether cannabis may be a suitable option for you if you’re dealing with health condition-related sleep issues.

For many seniors, though, insomnia isn’t due to a specific health issue but is simply the outcome of the aging brain and changing sleep patterns. You may find that it’s harder to fall asleep or stay asleep, even after cutting out caffeine, taking up evening mindfulness practices, and shutting down electronics early in the evening. That can be frustrating!

Medical provider holding sleep pills in one hand, and cannabis in the other hand as an alternative for sleep.

Looking For Alternatives to Pharmaceutical Sleep Medications?

Finding a product that supports a good night’s sleep is the holy grail for most of us. A lot of over-the-counter and prescription products exist, but many come with unwanted side effects.

Over-the-counter medications like Unisom (doxylamine) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine) may cause unwanted grogginess the following day.

Likewise, many prescription sleep medications may work in the short term but have troubling trade-offs. The popular drug Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) is a hypnotic that’s gained a reputation for causing serious side effects in some people, including amnesia, hallucinations, sleepwalking and even sleep-driving. It also has the potential for dependency, like many other prescription sleep medications.

A powerful plant-based sleep alternative is becoming available to more people as marijuana legalization spreads to more states each year. However, just like conventional medications, not all marijuana is the same. Knowing the best type of product for your particular sleep issues can make a tremendous difference.

Your Cannabis Sleep Team: THC, CBD, CBN, Terpenes and More

You’ve likely heard about tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD); however, those are only two out of 113 different identified cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Here’s a quick primer on some of the various cannabis plant compounds:

  • THC: This cannabinoid is responsible for the “high” that cannabis is best known for when used in large enough amounts. THC binds to CB1 receptors that are primarily found in your brain and spinal cord and help regulate the nervous system, as well as CB2 receptors which are found in the peripheral nervous system and play a role in reducing inflammation.
  • CBD: A non-intoxicating cannabinoid that indirectly affects the CB1 and CB2 receptors, though it doesn’t bind to them. CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation and muscle spasms and to help manage anxiety.
  • CBN: Cannabinol (CBN) is a lesser-known cannabinoid created when THC is exposed to heat and light over a period of time, and has been called the “sleep cannabinoid” by some people due to its sedating effects. It also lacks the intoxicating effects of THC, though an older study showed that it could make the effects of THC feel stronger. Research is still limited on exactly how CBN impacts sleep onset or duration.
  • Terpenes: Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis along with many other plants, including lemons, basil, oregano and pine trees. For example, if you’ve ever used lavender-scented products to help with relaxation, then you’ve experienced the power of linalool, a terpene found in lavender as well as in some cannabis chemovars (strains).

Cannabidiol (CBD) tincture with an illustration of CBD’s chemical structure and cannabis leaves in background.

How CBD Helps with Sleep – and How It Doesn’t

Remember when we mentioned the importance of identifying the root cause of your insomnia to find the best solution? CBD is the perfect example of why that’s the case.

If your sleeplessness is the result of anxiety, stress or inflammation-related pain, then CBD may be useful at higher doses. Paradoxically, lower doses of CBD may cause wakefulness. Dr. Dustin Sulak discusses this challenge in an interview on his Healer.com website.

However, if you are contending with age-related changes in your sleep patterns, CBD may not be enough to solve your sleep issues.

Unfortunately, when CBD doesn’t work, many folks write off plant-based alternatives as a failed experiment and resign themselves to chronic fatigue or less-than-ideal pharmaceuticals.

Why CBD May Not Solve Your Sleep Problems

CBD doesn’t bind with the CB1 receptors that are concentrated in your brain and nervous system, but THC does. That gives THC an advantage when dealing with age-related sleep issues that are connected to the brain.

“But wait,” you might be saying, “I don’t want to get high—I just want to get a good night’s sleep!”

At Leaf411, we understand. Despite growing research and medical marijuana legalization in over half the states, the plant still suffers from stigma and misconceptions.

Stoner stereotypes are hard to shake, especially when some brands and celebrities promote the recreational, fun aspects of cannabis and not the plant’s therapeutic value.

Also, occasional fear-mongering news stories report how potent cannabis is today, but that’s not the full story. The legalization of marijuana in many states has allowed for more precise cultivation and manufacturing practices to develop flower (bud), concentrates, edibles, tinctures and other products tailored to different consumers. As a result, you’ll find products designed for consumers seeking high-THC products as well as for consumers looking for much smaller amounts of THC, or even ratio products with balanced amounts of THC and CBD.

Most legal states also require licensed marijuana cultivators and manufacturers to regularly test their products, assuring that the stated levels of THC are accurate. CBD products, on the other hand, are not required to undergo any testing, so it’s buyer beware.

Wooden letter blocks spelling out “Microdosing” referencing microdosing THC for relief.

Microdosing THC for Sleep, Not to Get High

When it comes to using marijuana for sleep, our mantra at Leaf411 is to start low and go slow.

Leading cannabis physicians support this approach, including Leaf411 board member Dr. Dave Gordon as well as Dr. Dustin Sulak.

Even very small amounts of THC, like 2mg, can have therapeutic benefits. Using very small amounts of THC is called microdosing, and it’s an increasingly popular option among people of all ages who are seeking cannabis’s health benefits without an intoxicating high.

Because everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different, the minimum dose required for positive effects is also different—that’s why we always say to start low and go slow to find your optimal dose. How low? At Leaf411, we suggest starting with ¼ the suggested serving size on the package, or 1-2 mg of THC, whichever is lower.

You may not feel anything at the lowest dose, but by starting low and going up slowly each night, you can build up your dose safely until you find the right amount that works for your body. When increasing by a milligram or less each night, you may still end up with a dose that makes you feel a bit too groggy in the morning or uncomfortable before falling asleep. If this happens, just go back to the dose that was comfortable and reassess after a few days. When using ingestible products (edibles and tinctures), it can take up to 2 hours for you to feel an effect, so allow plenty of time before increasing your dose.

Old-fashioned clock at 7:15 pm, reminding someone to use THC a few hours before bedtime to help with insomnia.

It is always vital to time your dose about 1-2 hours before you want to fall asleep instead of waiting until the moment you are climbing into bed. Timing your dose will allow you to relax before bedtime instead of watching the clock and hoping it kicks in fast.

Our Leaf411 nurses always guide our callers to safe use by cautioning about potential side effects from THC, which is dry mouth and an unsteady gait. Our nurses suggest keeping a glass of water at your bedside so there is no need to walk to the kitchen and risk falling when you feel the cannabis take effect. These precautions are very similar to those you’d take with any other sleep medications.

Healthy older white woman at home sitting on a yoga mat while calling Leaf411 with sleep questions.

Helping You Find the Best Cannabis Product for Insomnia and Sleep

Our Leaf nurses are knowledgeable about the unique challenges that seniors face in getting a good night’s sleep. Our goal is to provide balanced education and clinically-sound guidance that is specific to your needs and goals. Our commitment is to you—the consumer—not to a particular product or company.

Call our anonymous hotline for free at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us from the Leaf411.org homepage during hotline hours for help with your cannabis 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.

Various cannabis tinctures and other products, with cannabis flower (bud) in foreground.

Low-Dose Cannabis Options for Seniors

The cannabis market has responded to the growing popularity of microdosing by producing low-dose edibles and tinctures that make it easy to find the right dose. Many of these products are available in both THC versions as well as CBD:THC ratios.

Among our Leaf411 supporting members, Ripple offers a range of low-dose dissolvable powders that can be added to beverages or food or sprinkled directly on your tongue. Our member Wana Brands also provides low-dose vegan-friendly gummies, including new fast-acting gummies that take effect on average within 5-15 minutes. Medically Correct is another of our supporting members that is developing low-dose products tailored to different needs, including the recently launched Quiq brand, also designed for fast onset. Also, our supporting member Altus produces the Lucky Edibles micro-tart line with each tart containing only 2 mg THC. 

Fast-acting products like Ripple, Wana and Quiq are ideal for the person who has trouble falling asleep versus staying asleep. Something that you swallow is vital because these products tend to last 6-8 hours in your system, providing a longer sleep cycle than inhaled products that typically last about 2-4 hours. Gummies and tablets can be an excellent choice since they tend to be easier to cut into small pieces versus a chocolate that may crumble. 

It’s important to always pay attention to the dose size listed on product packaging. For edibles, in particular, there’s not one standard size or dose. One brand might produce 10 mg THC gummies, while a different brand’s gummies are 5 mg. Products like THC-infused candy bars contain multiple doses, typically with each square serving as a separate dose. Likewise, cannabis tinctures will list a dose on the bottle which you can measure out using the bottle dropper.


Celebrating Pride in 2020

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

Every year, LGBTQ+ Pride is celebrated during the month of June, highlighting the accomplishments and challenges of LGBTQ+ people throughout the world. Typically, millions of people gather during parades, concerts, workshops and other events to share their experiences and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, including safe, equal access to health care services.

This year’s Pride will look different due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. Many events have gone virtual, including the 2020 Denver PrideFest and the 50th Anniversary San Francisco Pride celebration

Despite the lack of parades and crowded celebrations, it’s important to pause and reflect on the state of LBGTQ+ rights, as well as how they connect to the current movement against racism, bias and police violence, along with the movement for full federal legalization of cannabis. Keep readingyou might be surprised to learn how these issues are all connected!

Neon sign outside of the historic Stonewall Inn that says, “Love & Resistance, Stonewall 50.” LGBTQ+ people of color played a pivotal role in the Stonewall uprising.

The History of Pride

Why the month of June? In June 1969, the Stonewall uprising took place in New York City, when LGBTQ+ community members took a stand against harassment and violence they faced at the hands of police. On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a neighborhood gay bar. Unfortunately, this was an all-too-common occurrence at the time. However, at Stonewall Inn the patrons and surrounding Greenwich Village community fought back, sparking the beginning of the LGBTQ+ movement.

Notably, the Stonewall uprising was led by several people of color including Marsha P. Johnson and Zazu Nova along with another activist, Jackie Hormona. People of color who identify as LGBTQ+ faced—and continue to face—higher rates of police violence, harassment and discrimination due to the intersecting issues of bias, racism, homophobia and transphobia.

Racism is an issue that Jamie London Wollberg of Trannabis Chi, one of the organizations we support, has recently elevated on his own social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram. Jamie is a trans cannabis patient who deeply believes we all have roles to play in bringing about change.

Trannabis Chi logo, featuring a cannabis leaf representing balance and collective consciousness.

“While social media can be problematic and is definitely not the solution to racism, it’s absolutely helpful in the movement and for learning. It’s a great time right now to follow people in the Black community, for both support and listening,” Jamie said.

“I have already learned so much. Sharing stories is a powerful way to bring empathy and understanding. Social media is shaped by and helps shape the world, so Black voices deserve to be heard there. I’m heavily motivated for many reasons with the biggest being an empath and therefore, deeply care for people. I believe that we are all connected within the higher collective consciousness.The smallest being the fact that I myself, though I have white privilege, am also marginalized. I am a queer and disabled transgender man who is a spiritual jew. I am spelling it out here to show how you can be marginalized and still have white privilege. Black people are being murdered – racism must end and I have to do my part,” Jamie explained.

Court gavel resting on a rainbow flag, symbolizing the victories and challenges LGBTQ people face.

Legal Victories and Challenges for the LGBTQ+ Community in 2020

As we celebrate Pride remotely this year, changes are underway that have very real impacts on LGBTQ+ lives. On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) which forbids discrimination based on sex includes LGBTQ+ employees. This clarifies an important workplace protection for LGBTQ+ individuals.

While advocates are celebrating this decision, concerns remain in other areas. In early August 2020, the Trump administration is rolling back non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. While the administration claimed it was simply cleaning up a confusing rule, the rollback could have very real impacts when it comes to access to care. Once the change is made, a health care provider may deny care to someone based on their self-identified gender or sexual orientation, and that provider will not face a penalty for doing so. This is especially concerning in the middle of a pandemic and poses yet another barrier for an already vulnerable community.

Stethoscope with cannabis leaf, showing connection between health and access to safe legal cannabis.

What Do LGBTQ+ Rights and Pride Have to Do with Cannabis?

Put simply, at Leaf411 we believe that access to high-quality health care is a universal right. That includes access to safe, legal cannabis.

The LGBTQ+ community has been active in fighting for medical marijuana legalization since the early 1990s. At the time, cannabis had proven to be an effective therapy for reducing the severe side effects of HIV treatment. Even though HIV treatments have been improved with less side effects, HIV or AIDS remains a qualifying condition for a medical card in Colorado.

Many LGBTQ+ people don’t have the option of safe, legal cannabis, however. In 17 states, many of them in the South, cannabis cannot be legally sold either medically or recreationally. Even in states with medical marijuana, the cost of medical card evaluations and registration can be steep, disproportionately impacting both people of color and LGBTQ+ communities. Also, in some states the list of qualifying health conditions is very limited, based more on politics and old stigmas than on the actual science backing cannabis’s therapeutic benefits.

One of the most promising areas of cannabis research is related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While much of the research is focusing on military veterans and PTSD, the same benefits hold tremendous potential for LGBTQ+ folks who frequently experience PTSD as a result of hate crimes, homophobia and transphobia.

In a recent issue of The Emerald Magazine, Marval Rechsteiner shared how cannabis helped him both with panic attacks and PTSD he suffered related to his gender identity and growing up in a conservative area. Rechstiner also realized that cannabis could provide a safe alternative for managing inflammation, pain and healing from surgery.

Cannabis also made a difference for Jamie London Wollberg of Trannabis Chi. He explained, “Cannabis has completely saved my life. Cannabis helped me through my transition, as well as through my numerous health challenges. I have multi-genetic disease, autoimmune disease, chronic illness, mental health challenges, and a brain disorder. I literally felt like I was dying and I wanted to die, many times in my life.” 

“Cannabis allows me to be me. It allows me to be the best version of myself I can in any moment. It makes it possible for me to function and/or at least survive the pain I’m experiencing. Cannabis IS healing and it’s my privilege to have lived and to live the path I’m on because it meant finding my way to assisting people on their healing journeys with Trannabis Chi,” Jamie concluded. 

Trannabis Chi’s next Body, Mind, and Soul event theme is “A Virtual Slumber Party of Rest and Manifesting Your Dreams” with the event scheduled for July 25, 2020. You can find more information at this link.

Black woman in striped shirt smiling and talking on her smartphone with a cannabis-trained nurse.

Leaf411 Is Here for You

Though the annual Pride month is wrapping up, the fight for equity is a year-round endeavor. 

Every day at Leaf411, we hear about the positive impact that access to safe, legal cannabis has on peoples’ lives, including those who identify as LGBTQ+. 

At Leaf411, our commitment is to help you find the best cannabis options for your specific needs and goals, regardless of where you are on your cannabis journey. We are sensitive, as well, to the numerous ways that stigma, stereotypes and misconceptions around cannabis have disproportionately impacted LGBTQ+ people, as well as Black, Indigenous and people of color. 

As we said earlier, high-quality health care is a universal right. When you call the free Leaf411 hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or chat us via our homepage during hotline hours, you can expect to be treated with respect and sensitivity.

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