CBCoC, and other dispensaries across Canada, filling the void left by the federal MMAR program
By Owen Smith
In the Summer edition, I discussed the advancements that the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada has made over the years in developing medicinal cannabis products. It’s been our priority to provide our members with as many alternatives to smoking as we can—including various edibles, infused massage oils, and herbal teas. In this article, I’ll talk about the direction of our product development, why the M.M.A.R. is inad- equate, and the explosion of dispensaries south of the border.
The focus of our healthcare has always been on providing the most effective and affordable medicine. Prohibition has driven the price of cannabis through the roof, but by using the leaves and stalk (which are typically discarded by smokers) we can provide affordable edible and topical options. The ingredients we combine with the medicine are organic and local wherever possible, and by being careful to provide high quality food, we optimize the benefit of our members. By using olive and grape seed oil in some of the products, we provide additional benefits for people with high blood pressure, heart conditions, and colon cancer. We make 29 different edible and topical products in the hopes of providing relief and treatment for as many different conditions as possible. Check out our recipe book at www.cbc-canada.ca for descriptions of our products and the specific conditions that they can treat.
When doctors talk about cannabis, they generally agree that, although it’s a relatively harmless complex of chemicals, smoking it is an obvious problem. Medical cannabis patients know that the benefits of smoking are an instant relief of their symptoms, and the ability to regulate doses until their symptoms are relieved. As the chart shows, the effects come on strong and fast, but are short lasting. When we take a pill or eat a cookie, our stomach breaks down the compounds, slowly releasing them into our bloodstream. This slow release can last many hours and provide far more overall relief than smoking. The graph illustrates a generalized pattern of chronic pain over- laid with the release of cannabis when eaten and smoked over an eight hours period. When pain levels rise, at certain times exceeding the relief threshold of an edible, a small amount can be smoked or vaporized to complete the treatment.
The current state of the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations in Canada excludes the infusion of cannabis into oil. This exclusion denies many of the most vulnerable people in our society their most effective medicinal medium—their skin. Massage oils and salves can be applied directly to the location of the pain, isolating the relief and bypassing the rest of the body. Eaten in its raw form, cannabis is very fibrous and can aggravate patients with compromised digestive tracts. While poultices are very useful for targeting small areas of the body, they can be difficult to manage when the pain is more general. In both cases simply draining the oil through cloth removes the leaf material while maintaining the fat soluble cannabinoids.
Doctors have been distributing synthetic THC pills (Marinol, Cesamet, Nabilone) for decades, yet patients—and now scientists—agree that CBD and other cannabinoid compounds have an essential role in pain relief. Seriously ill people should have access to the simple medicines made from the plants leaves, which contain more CBD than THC. The simple act of heating the leaves in oil and pouring that mixture through a colander remains prohibited to permanently sick and disabled Canadians. For those who find synthetic THC pills, smoking, or chewing and digesting raw plant matter, doesn’t work, then the M.M.A.R. has failed.
In Canada, cannabis dispensaries are few and remain unlicensed, thereby limiting their ability to develop their healthcare products. Ironically, in the United States, where licensed medical cannabis dispensaries have exploded onto the scene in the past few years, research and product development has taken off.
A multiplicity of edible products are now available through U.S. dispensaries, that include anything from soda pop and salad dressing to pasta sauce and buffalo wings. The oil is so easily infused, you can explore your own culinary creativity and make your medicine into a healthy meal. Concentrated tinctures are also prescribed by doctors as an alternative to smoking. Organizations in Colorado like Cannabis Science Inc. and Genovations Creations are dedicated to the science of cannabis with refreshing zeal, applying the technologies of our age to a medicine we had almost forgotten.
In the few countries where cannabis is grown outdoors in abundance, methods of curing and gathering resin from the surface of the plant are part of ancient tradition. The preparations of this resin are the pastime of the community, and in Northern India the spring festival of Holi is accompanied by Bhang (a warm cannabis infused milk), pakoras, and a lavish display of dance and colour.
Here in Canada, various dispensaries promote a wide range of non-smokable products. The Cannaberries or Lozenges at the CBCoC are made with ground goji berries, and slippery elm bark, and held together with flax water. They providing relief for tooth aches and sore throats. The V.I.C.S. has long used a sublingual spray called Cannamist. The Green Cross Society have an edible capsule with a standardized dose measured by a H.P.L.C. (read about it in the summer edition: product testing). The B.C.C.C.S. offer alcohol and glycerine based tinctures; glycerin is sweet where alcohol can burn. The Vancouver Dispensary has a massage oil containing the identical ingredients provided in the book of Exo- dus (30:23). Rick Simpson, an East Coast activist who has fled the country, was fea- tured in the movie Run From the Cure giving away a cannabis oil product which he encouraged people to eat or apply on their skin.
In the next article, I’d like to dive into the differences between extracting cannabinoids using alcohol, butter, and various vegetable oils. If you have any comments or suggestions for products feel free to talk to the CBCoC staff or call us at (250) 381-4220. Or write a letter to the editor and get it published in the next Digest.