Don't want to smoke? You don't have to! Cannabis is a versatile medicine that can be administered in multiple ways, each with its own advantages. In this episode Curt Robbins explains the various ways to get cannabis or CBD into your body. Listen, learn and share!
Welcome to “Twenty 4:20” the bite sized educational podcast from Tom at Kannaboomers and Curt Robbins, author of more than 500 articles about the science of hemp and cannabis. We're giving 20 cannabis topics 20 minutes each to help you get smarter about terpenes, cannabinoids, cultivars and much, much more. And our show starts now.
Hey, we're back with episode three, segment three of “Twenty 4:20” our ongoing bonus series with cannabis expert, Curt Robbins. Hey Curt, how are you?
Curt Robbins 00:37
I'm doing well and enjoying Los Angeles, getting a lot of writing done. Have a lot of exciting projects right now.
All right, well today we're talking about a common cannabis confusion and there's a lot of confusion out there, but there's some common myths that we're going to knock down today. We're starting out with consumption avenues.
Curt Robbins 00:53
Well, there's, you know, obviously smoking has been a very traditional form of consuming cannabis, especially on the underground market over the last century, but there's really a lot of different ways to consume the cannabinoids and terpenes that we've been discussing in this series. And there are primarily four different avenues of ingestion. Or consumption is what I should say because ingestion is one of them. It's when we eat the plant in some form could be a baked good because cannabinoids are absorbed by fats really well. Milk and butter and things. It's a not water soluble, so therefore it works great in baked goods. Then of course there's inhalation and that's smoking or vaporizing. We'll talk more about that in a second. And then there's sublingual. Sublingual is different than ingestion because it's absorbed through the mucus membranes and the mucosa under the tongue, and it is a completely different route into the body, but it gets a little confusing because they both go in the mouth, right. And a lot of people are engaging in sublingual absorption, at least to a certain extent, and they're not even aware of it. Now, typically it's kind of a sloppy model because some will be ingested and go through the stomach and liver, but when it goes through under the tongue, it goes directly into the bloodstream. That's what's unique about this avenue, and it gets a little more complicated than that. And we'll talk about that in a second with onset times.
The other avenue is topicals. And this is going to be a really huge market in the future because topicals are already a tremendous market both for medical care and wellness. And also beauty aides. Topicals can come in many different forms, balms, creams, lotions. And one of the newer applications of it is these topical patches or transdermal patches. And they can apply CBD or, THC or even, you know, full spectrum formulation. Now the patches are typically, and topicals over all are typically used for localized treatment. So if you sprain your elbow playing tennis or you're an athlete, you know, you're just maybe regular exercise, right? This is Kannaboomers after all. And uh, sometimes just a couple of miles on the treadmill can give you some, make some pains as you get a little older. Topicals are great for treating things like that.
That's my experience. A topical balm can really help the knee or elbow and, uh, it's odd that it's so localized, but I guess that's, uh, a trick of it. It, you know, you're absorbing it into your entire body, but it sure seems to work locally too.
Curt Robbins 03:42
Yeah, it does work really well and some of these cannabinoids are absorbed readily and efficiently into the skin, into the Epidermis, and they do their thing. So that's a really excellent option. Again, the stereotype is we see Cheech and Chong or the Scooby Doo and people smoking joints or bonds, but that's really only a small slice of the options that are available for patients and consumers. So let's talk a little about bioavailability. Now, technically, medically bioavailability is the amount of a drug or a chemical that is in the bloodstream and considered active. It's doing its thing and it will eventually be metabolized and you know, exit the bloodstream and it's only going to have efficacy for so long. In terms of what we're discussing here, let's think of bioavailability as three things, onset of effect, peak effect, and overall duration and that type, if we're to to define bioavailability like that, it is different for these different avenues of consumption. So for ingestion, and we've all heard these crazy stories of people getting too much cannabis in their system, especially if they're new to it. And the issue there is that ingestion requires 45 minutes to two hours just for onset. That's not peak. And that's not duration. Duration can be six or eight or ten hours or more depending on the potency. And again, how versed the consumer is in eating edibles. If it's their first time and they have six times more than they should, it's probably not going to go very well. And there's a reason for that too. And this reveals a little about the chemistry of cannabis. Now again, we've got 200 terpenes, 113 cannabinoids, 20 flavonoids and they all get in there and mix up. But let's just talk about the most famous THC. When it's digested by the liver, it converts to some form of the molecule called Delta 11 when it's inhaled, smoked or vaped, it's Delta 9. To add confusion to the issue there's also a delta 8 issue, but we'll talk about that later. Well, it out. That one study I was reading last week showed that Delta 11 is about five times more potent than Delta 9. So that's why consumers have to be very careful when they're eating. And, so often edibles are produced, it's backyard barbecue time, right? It's not labeled, it's, it hasn't gone through a laboratory or a distribution channel. It's on the underground market. And if there's 60 milligrams of THC in a brownie and a new consumer really should be getting five, perhaps ten, you can see where the problems resolved,
Right. And the classic mistake is you eat one brownie and wait half an hour, an hour, you're seeing no results. So you eat another one and then you're set up for a kind of a negative experience.
Curt Robbins 06:50
That is exactly how it happens, because the consumer is anticipating the efficacy and the onset of smoking or vaping, and it's obviously much different. In fact, smoking or vaping, uh, the effects begin to be felt in approximately two and a half minutes. It enters the lungs where it is transferred directly to the heart and the heart takes it and pumps it directly to the brain because those THC molecules are destined for CB 1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system. In fact, if they don't cross the blood brain barrier, they cannot create that psychotropic, that psycho activity for which it's so infamous.
If you don't mind, can we back up a second to inhalation and talk about the different experience between inhaling smoke and inhaling vapor? What do we know about that?
Curt Robbins 07:42
They look very similar, obviously, and some consumers really don't even think about the difference. Vapor is much healthier. We there are known carcinogens in the process of combustion regardless of what you're burning. So just because you're burning cannabis instead of tobacco doesn't mean that we escape all of those carcinogens. So there, there is some bad that comes with smoking, but often people argue, well, there's a lot of good that comes with smoking too. So you know, again, shade, shades of gray that we're getting at. If you're a daily, especially if you're a patient with a weakened immune system, maybe you're fighting cancer or MS or epilepsy it, you know, medical professional would always recommend vape, if you're going to go with inhalation, vaporization over combustion.
Now, I've also heard that when you vape you can set your boiling point and access various terpenes. Is there science to support that?
Curt Robbins 08:38
Yes. The terpenes have different boiling points. So like let's say you have a desktop vaporizer and its temperature adjustable, you're going to be getting a different terpene profile than at a lower temperature. And it's kind of neat. You can start to, if you have an accurate desktop unit, sometimes they cost a few hundred dollars because the lower priced ones, you know, the accuracy is not so great. So you, so you really don't know what you're uh, getting in the end. But you can start to target particular terpenes, and some patients. Well because they have different efficacies. If one is going to stimulate appetite and kill pain, reduce systemic inflammation, if that addresses your particular ailment or condition, then you can start to really dial it in. In terms of saying, okay, these are the terpenes that I want to, um, optimize so to speak in the vaporization process. So it gets complicated because it's not only the inherent terpene profile of the product, of the cannabis that we're using, but then it's the process by which you quote unquote processes, you know, you that you inject what you consume it. So, uh, what you get in the end, the final bioavailability is often not what we think because it's, it's not necessarily what goes into the machine.
I've heard people say that they get a clearer high too when they vape. I don't know if there's any science behind that or if that's just a subjective sort of perspective.
Right. And one, probably the most common way of vaping is with the, the mobile vape pens, you know, that you're just dropping your pocket that have the five, ten parts on them. And uh, you know, there's pros and cons with that too. There are good versions of that and there are bad versions of that have, uh, nasty chemicals in them haven't been tested. There's always going to be good and bad products. So it's definitely buyer beware.
Well, I know you were going to address a isolates and broad spectrum versus full spectrum.
Curt Robbins 10:39
Yeah. If we're talking about consumption here, there's a lot of confusion I find even among medical professionals about the different primary forms in which you can consume cannabis regardless of the consumption avenue. So we have isolates now as their name implies, an isolate is a single molecule and we capture it so to speak as purely as we can. And there are 99.9% pure isolates of CBD and THC and they can be consumed in a variety of ways. They can be smoked, they can be dabbed. We hear about this process of dabbing, which is a form of high temperature vaporization. Okay, so dabbing is a type of vaporization, but if the temperatures are not controlled accurately, dabbing can be a combination of combustion and vaporization. That can happen easily.
And that's a very intense sort of inhalation. I mean that's a very, a high potency experience, right?
Curt Robbins 11:45
Oh yes. I did it with CBD a couple of years ago and it was very interesting. It was a, not a powder, it was in the form of a crystal, which always looks very interesting. And uh, you know, I definitely felt the, uh, the effects of it. I felt like zero pain in my body. Um, not everybody likes dabbing and especially with, this was CBD that I was doing, but with THC dabbing can really knock you on your butt. It can be, it's one of the most potent other than edibles, one of the most potent ways. And again, you're going to get hit and two and a half or three minutes. So, uh, sometimes people do a couple of dabs and if they're not very versed on it, they got to sit down for a while. So again, people, consumers should be careful with some of these avenues of consumption.
Yeah, it sounds overwhelming.
Curt Robbins 12:33
So we've got isolates and without talking about them too much, there's pros and cons with isolates because you're getting just that single molecule. So if that's what the consumer needs for their ailments or their condition, whatever their state of being they're trying to achieve an isolate might be a good way to go. But often, especially for general wellness, like if we're consuming cannabis as a preventive mechanism and we're not treating a specific disease, broad spectrum and full spectrum products are often preferred. Now broad spectrum means that it's been filtered basically that when the extract or the concentrate was created from the plant that something was taken out and typically it's THC and this is so we can have a product that is below the 0.3% THC so it qualifies as legal. It can be sold in all 50 states and a lot of consumers don't want any psychoactivity, I don't want the people fly on my planes or driving my cars or taking care of my kids or you know, the air traffic controllers, I don't think I want them getting all looped out on THC. So there's really a good place for broad spectrum products containing trace amounts or no THC on the market regardless of the medical efficacy of THC. I think there's a good place for those full spectrum as the name implies, is everything from the plant. Now it should be stressed here that manufacturing and processing techniques typically strips something away. Terpenes and cannabinoids, especially terpenes are very volatile delicate molecules and literally just the transport of cannabis can't like in a vehicle, you know, with the jostling can cause these molecules to deteriorate or morph into, you know, a different form in their lifespan.
This also brings to mind the whole concept of the entourage effect. All these things are working together, right? And if you have an isolate you're not, you're not getting any entourage effect.
Curt Robbins 14:41
If you believe in the entourage effect, which is technically a theory right now, we need more research, but there is a lot of evidence, both anecdotal and clinical study, uh, pointing toward the validity of it. You're getting the most entourage effect benefit with a full spectrum obviously, but you do get some with the broad spectrum. Uh, but you know, there are people who don't like broad spectrum whatsoever cause they say, hey, everything's in the plant for a reason. They really embrace full spectrum or what's sometimes called whole plant formulations. Uh, they've done their homework. They know there's a lot of medical efficacy in THC. So many consumers and medical professionals will use full spectrum exclusively actually.
Okay. And then, uh, I think we were going to talk about how long one can store cannabis. Cause some of us, maybe we're not consuming at a, at a high rate and it sits in a jar. How long can you keep it and still have that efficacy?
Curt Robbins 15:41
The joke here is that, you know, who keeps cannabis sitting around long enough for it to go bad? And all of the daily consumers in the room can chuckle and laugh at that. But you know, many people just consume only when necessary to treat a particular ailments or socially. And it's just a couple of times a week. So I actually get this question quite a bit and some people are shocked to think, “What marijuana goes bad? Really?” Well what happens here is again, all of these molecules are very volatile and THC tetrahydrocannabinol, breaks down, it degrades in its life cycle into CBN. And CBN is a cannabinoid that is very much bedtime for Bonzo. It's great for insomniacs. If I can get it in a decent enough quantity. So if yes, we let, we'll we're entering legalization where there was this, uh, you know, there's talk in Canada, there's talk in the United States about distribution channels like we have in other industries, right? And if you go to 7 -11 and you bought a Pepsi Cola, uh, it was not made yesterday, it sat on a shelf, it went through distribution for whatever length of time. So a study was conducted in 1999 and it's really nice because they, it's a multi year study and basically in the end what they found was that the quantity of THC decreases by certain percentages over time. And the first year the sample lost almost 17% of the THC. Again, most of that converted to CBN. So if you had an uplifting, cerebral, energetic cultivar of cannabis, if it was stored long enough, it could be quite different in its efficacy. After all, a lot of, a lot of that THC degraded to a CBN and I don't want to bad mouth CBN it has its place too. If you're an insomniac or suffering, extreme anxiety and CBN might be one of your best friends.
Curt Robbins 17:43
In terms of cannabinoids. After two years, the sample, uh, lost about 27% of it's THC. After three years it lost about 35% and after four years, again an unlikely scenario, the rate of decline actually decreased a bit, but it was about 41% THC lost after four years of storage. It should be stressed that this is storage at room temperature and basically the more you raise it, the higher the degradation. So there's a lot of mitigating factors here. There are, you know, obviously we're in the green rush. So there are companies right now working on technologies on services and products that will, for example, a nitrogen storage system, one is being talked about that could store for about seven years. They're claiming you could have a shelf life of seven years with no loss whatsoever. But in a basic model, I don't know the details of what they're doing. You're replacing the oxygen with the nitrogen, the oxygen is going to cause the degradation of the THC. So you want to get the oxygen, the heck outta there. Now, if you can put something else in there that acts as a preservative, well all the better.
Sure. So in that instance, they're putting it in a, in a can or an airtight jar or something where oxygen can't get at it as you say.
Curt Robbins 19:08
Yes. And there are products on the market that uh, sometimes they have like a press valve and, and they just push all the air out of it. You know, there's always going to be a little air left in there. And again, if you're consuming your cannabis, you know, fairly quickly over a couple of weeks, it's not going to be critical. And that's why I like sharing these numbers, finding, you know, science and real studies like this so we don't have to sit around and, and dredge up anecdotals, “My uncle Bob, he found half an ounce that, you know, from before his divorce, it was sold and we smoked it and we all thought it was great.” That's a good story, you know. But that doesn't really tell us what's going on here. Uh, here, we get to see hard percentages. It's really almost shocking if this research was done 20 years ago.
Well it definitely makes a difference to have something fresh and , I mean, some people wonder, do you put it in the freezer? Does that help or are you probably better just getting it fresh.
Curt Robbins 20:05
Exactly. The master cultivators that I've interviewed over the years always tell me fresh is best. And when I've visited, farms and gardens and gotten something that they had just gotten through the cycle of drying and curing, I have to admit, it's some of the most potent yet enjoyable cannabis I've ever consumed.
That's awesome. Well, we ran a little over our 20 minute target, but, um, we can't stop talking about something that has so much value to all of us. So, um, thanks Curt. That kind of wraps it for this week, but we'll be back soon with episode 4.
Curt Robbins 20:39
Thank you, Tom.
You've been listening to “Twenty 4:20” a special edition podcast series from Kannaboomers and Curt Robbins. Want to learn more and help grow the cannabis movement? Spread the word and follow us on your favorite podcast platform or at kannaboomers.com