[UPDATED] Everything We Know So Far About The Recent Vape-Linked Deaths and Illnesses

Updated (9/11/2019 10:50 AM Pacific Standard Time)

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are joining a growing chorus of public officials tweeting and demanding action in response to the recent uptick in vape-linked illnesses and deaths. On Sept. 11, Trump announced his plan to hold a same-day policy discussion with federal health experts on how his administration can address the issue of e-cigarettes and vapes. So far, Trump has not made any decisions about possible steps or actions the federal government might take to help curb vape-linked sicknesses, according to an administration official who spoke with NBC News. 

Federal health authorities like the CDC have already issued advisories and reports on the unknown lung illnesses impacting people who vape. Around the country, state and municipal governments are moving to follow Michigan’s decision to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarette products. U.S. lawmakers are also demanding effective action. On Sept.10, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) urged the U.S. FDA to issue a recall on e-cigarettes.

Original (9/10/2019)

If all the recent news about vape-related deaths and illnesses has you casting suspicious glances at your cartridges and concentrates, you aren’t alone. Reports of hospitalizations due to vaping are surging around the United States, with 450 cases currently under investigation. Yet health officials have yet to pinpoint an exact cause of the illnesses and deaths. They also haven’t been able to link the illnesses to any specific product, as reports involve both cannabis and nicotine vapes. But we aren’t completely in the dark, either. So as this story continues to develop, here’s everything we know so far about the recent vape-linked deaths and illnesses.

Here’s What “Vape Lung” is Like, According to One Patient

Hopefully, you don’t know anyone and are not yourself someone who has experienced severe lung distress due to vaping cannabis or anything else. The experience is a miserable and long-lasting one. Just ask Jackie Gomez, a resident of Los Angeles who spent days in the hospital after developing what doctors diagnosed as necrotizing pneumonia. Gomez told High Times she thinks the DANK vape cartridges she had been consuming may be to blame.

Gomez says it started as a tickle in her throat. That tickle soon became irritation. Then the muscle soreness started, the loss of appetite, the coughing and the vomiting. When Gomez noticed her phlegm was dark brown and tasted putrid, she knew something was up and checked herself into an urgent care center. After a chest X-ray, Gomez ended up in the emergency room.

That was the start of a weeks-long stay in the hospital. Doctors tested Gomez for everything from TB to HIV to bacterial and viral infections. But even after a test of her lung tissue, doctors couldn’t come up with a conclusive result. In the end, it took Gomez a month of IV antibiotic treatments to fully recover from the lung infection. Her doctors still don’t know what could have caused such a severe illness.

Gomez says doctors and specialists regularly asked her about her smoking habits. But she says they never asked what she was smoking or how. The doctors seemed to assume it was a tobacco product, Gomez said. They never asked her directly about cannabis consumption.

Gomez’ experience was terrible. And she isn’t alone. But as in her case, health specialists are struggling to come up with answers for those suffering from vape-related illnesses.

Vape-Linked Lung Problems Hit the Midwest in August

Reports of vape-linked health issues began surfacing about a month ago, when 22 midwesterners were hospitalized for breathing problems linked to vaping. The incidents impacted vape consumers across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. But despite identifying patterns common to all the cases, doctors were unable to determine an exact reason or cause of the patients’ lung distress.

Many of the patients were young, and some were vaping both nicotine e-cigarettes and THC cartridges. One person, 26-year-old Dylan Nelson, was so sick after consuming an illicit THC cartridge that doctors placed him in a medically-induced coma.

Vape-Related Hospitalizations Surge in California, New York

Just days after the outbreak of vape-related lung illnesses in the midwest, California health officials issued a public warning after seven people fell ill with pneumonia-like symptoms after vaping. Some of the patients became so ill that they were placed in intensive care units and placed on breathing machines. Patients suffered from shallow and rapid breathing, low blood oxygen levels, low blood pressure, confusion and tiredness. And all seven of them had recently vaped THC and CBD oil cartridges obtained from unlicensed retailers.

Meanwhile, New York health officials began warning health care providers to be on the lookout for vape-linked pulmonary illness. At the time, the New York Department of Health was investigating 11 cases of lung problems linked to vape consumption. And it was those investigations that finally provided the first possible answer to the mysterious vape-linked illnesses.

New York Health Department Identifies Vitamin E Acetate as Potential Cause of Vaping Illnesses

On September 5, the New York Department of Health announced that it believed the vape-related illnesses across the state could be the result of people vaping vitamin E acetate. Lab analysis of the vape products that landed 11 New Yorkers in the hospital showed that nearly all contained very high levels of vitamin E acetate.

The discovery completely altered the focus of other ongoing investigations, shifting the spotlight to cannabis products, not e-cigarettes. “It is really starting to look like this is a cannabis vaping issue and that it may not have anything to do with e-cigarettes,” Boston University professor of public health Michael Siegel told USA Today. Those findings were then backed by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Vape-Lung” Fears Spread to Canada

In just a matter of weeks, more than 350 cases of “vape lung” had been reported across the United States. And it became increasingly clear that the handful of vape-linked deaths were likely caused by cannabis vaping products. The problem, however, was that no one could determine which products were causing the harm.

Most of the cases across the U.S. stemmed from THC vape cartridges obtained on the illicit market. This led many to assume that counterfeit or unregulated concentrates were to blame. But after officials in Oregon linked the death of one vape consumer to a cartridge purchased in a licensed dispensary, those assumptions went out the window. “At this point, we don’t really know what is safe,” said Dr. Ann Thomas, a pediatrician and public health physician in charge of Oregon’s incident management team.

In light of the rapidly spreading epidemic of cannabis vape-related illnesses, and the uncertainty over its cause, federal health officials in Canada issued a health advisory against vaping of any kind.

As of Today, Six U.S. Deaths Linked to Vaping Cannabis, Nicotine

By early September, the CDC-confirmed death toll from vaping had climbed to five people. The death in Oregon, however, has so far been the only fatality linked to a cannabis vape product. Still, all of the deaths resulted from severe lung illnesses and breathing difficulties likely caused by vaping. In each case, symptoms mirrored serious respiratory diseases like pneumonia. But experts still aren’t sure what the root cause is. It could be contaminants in illicit products, common ingredients, the concentrate or the device or cartridge itself.

Then, on September 10, the vaping-related death toll rose to six, with the passing of a resident of Kansas. Like the other cases, the Kansas death resulted from an unknown respiratory illness linked to vaping. We don’t know much about the patient who died in Kansas, except that the individual was over 50 years of age and had a history of health issues, according to a hospital statement. The day before, the American Medical Association issued a warning urging Americans to stop using any kind of vaping device or e-cigarette. It’s so far unclear what kind of product the patient in Kansas had consumed.

Also this week, a Texas high school student collapsed after hitting a vape pen containing cannabis. According to reports, the student passed out immediately after hitting the vape and was unresponsive. Emergency responders transported the Texas teenager to a local children’s hospital. Across the country, cases of vape-linked illnesses had surged to more than 450.

Regulators Aren’t Equipped to Handle Changing Concentrate Formulas

Prior to the popularization of vaping, cannabis had a track record of causing not one overdose death. On its own, cannabis is very safe. But now, cannabis products have claimed at least one life, even if THC isn’t to blame. Clearly, there’s something in the vape cartridges causing serious lung illnesses. And currently, experts’ best guess is that that something is vitamin E acetate.

Vitamin E acetate isn’t just in illicit vape cartridges, either. You’ll find it in certified cannabis products that have passed the tests regulators require. State agencies, like the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, have cleared vape products with vitamin E acetate for sale in licensed retail shops. Vitamin E acetate is a common additive in vaping liquids.

Furthermore, extract manufacturers regularly experiment with new concentrate formulas, trying out different diluents and thickeners. Regulators can barely keep up. There are even different versions of vitamin E acetate, and state agencies don’t really require testing for them. As a result, completely untested varieties of vitamin E acetate are ending up in cartridges on cannabis store shelves.

The Cannabis Industry Responds to Rash of Vape-Linked Illnesses and Deaths

Amid these growing fears that dangerous and deadly vape products are everywhere, some in the cannabis industry are taking action. In Portland, for example, Connoisseur Concentrates has stopped the sale of its signature “Clear Cut” line of concentrate diluent. Clear Cut, which dilutes viscous cannabis oils, contains vitamin E acetate, according to company owner Andrew Jones.

In Michigan, one cannabis business is following the governor’s lead in getting e-cigarette products out of consumers’ hands. Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer authorized a ban on all flavored e-cigarette products. But for those who had already purchased e-cigarette products, two cannabis companies came together to offer a potentially life-saving deal.

Greenhouse, a medical marijuana provisioning center in Walled Lake, and Platinum Vape, partnered to give away $50,000 in cannabis products. For five-days running from September 11 to 15, Greenhouse is running a promotion where people can bring in any nicotine vape product—even if it’s empty—and exchange it for CBD or THC products at no cost. Greenhouse only sells state-licensed and lab-tested cannabis products, including its THC vape pens. Michiganders without medical cannabis cards can also participate in the promotion. They’ll get CBD products for their nicotine trade-ins. “I think vaping THC or CBD is way better for you than nicotine,” said Greenhouse owner Jerry Millen.

Still No Definite Cause to Vape-Linked Lung Illnesses

Public health officials are getting closer, but right now there’s no definite cause to the increasing number of vape-linked illnesses. That’s why health experts across the United States and Canada are urging people to refrain from vaping, especially unregulated, untested products, until scientists can provide an answer.

For cannabis consumers like you, the best thing to do is make sure you know what you’re inhaling when you vape. Buy from licensed sellers who can show you verified lab test results of vaping products. Make sure you can tell what’s inside your vape pen. Avoid products with vitamin E acetate. As the tragic death in Oregon shows, this isn’t foolproof, but it will increase your chances of avoiding a trip to the hospital or worse.

The post [UPDATED] Everything We Know So Far About The Recent Vape-Linked Deaths and Illnesses appeared first on High Times.

The High Priestess: Working with Cannabis and Lunar Magick

While there are many misconceptions about witches, being obsessed with the moon is not one of them. Want to make a witch happy? Tell them you saw the Full Moon and thought of them. For a weed witch, the moon offers up an especially potent source of energy to connect with. While cannabis can help us access new parts of our spirit and subconscious mind, it is the Moon that acts as a guardian and doorway to this connection. 

Throughout history, the Moon has represented a bridge and a mirror to the subconscious and the intuitive, all knowing forces that reside within ourselves and in the universe at large. Historically, the moon has been tied to the feminine and receptive. She’s been personified and worshiped as the Great Mother, and her stages of waxing, waning, and full are reflected in the stages of the Triple Goddess through her archetypes of maiden, mother, and crone. Throughout her 28-day cycle, the Moon grows more and more luminous, from her waxing phase up through the Full Moon, until she eventually retires her light and settles back into her darkness, from the waning moon to the New Moon. In her cycles of wax and wane, she reminds us of our own cyclical nature; of our own ability to renew, release and become reborn. Cannabis can foster access to the medicine the Moon has to offer us, by allowing us to more easily step out of our rational mind and into the liminal where ritual and magick take place. 

We can work alongside the cycles of the moon to create a more powerful ritual practice, as well as to help bring our highs to new highs by combining the effects of each moon phase with cannabis.  After all, if the moon phases affect how your cannabis plant is growing, then wouldn’t it make sense that this would affect how you feel when you work with this plant medicine? Whether you’re looking for manifestation, creativity, protection, or healing, read on for your High Priestess guide to working with cannabis and lunar magick.

Ivory Woods

The New Moon

Work with cannabis to: Get present and set goals and intentions for the month ahead

The New Moon is the beginning of the Moon’s 28-day cycle. Here she is in her truth; there is no light from the sun being reflected on her surface, instead she is inky and black. She reflects our own darkness back at us, alongside the unknown. From the New Moon up until the Full Moon, the moon’s light grows, or waxes. Because of this, the New Moon is an excellent time to set intentions, to plant seeds in the soul and subconscious that you can water and nurture until the Full Moon. 

The New Moon, also known as the Dark Moon, is when we are more able to access our inner realms; the part of ourselves that is wild, feral, fierce, sexual, all consuming. This is the shadow; the stigmatized and often shamed parts of who we are- the proverbial cannabis plant of our souls. During the New Moon phase, we may be more connected to our intuition, the gut feeling you get nudging you in one direction or another. You may feel extra sensitive to cannabis, and like you want to spend time in solitude, reflecting and contemplating. The Dark Moon is like winter; it forces us to go inward. Honor this through communing with weed, by practicing ritual and by creating intentions for yourself.

Ritual for the New Moon: Creating declarations and affirmations of intention 

At this time of the month, take time to sit with yourself. You may wish to smoke, vape, or dab before this, setting yourself up for meditation, either taking a seat or lying down. Focus your gaze inward, asking yourself what feels true in your soul at this moment, what the darkness and presence are speaking to you of. Think of the month ahead; we are in Virgo season, and on September 23rd we officially enter fall. Take this to create an intention for yourself for cycle. 

When you’re finished meditating, get a piece of paper and a pen and write this intention down in present tense. Starting with “I am” is always a good choice. For example, my current declaration is “I am stepping into my fullest power, with grace, purpose, presence and prosperity.” Your intention may be about healing, healthy habits, connecting to your intuition, adopting an abundance mindset, or whatever else is resonating with you at this time. I also write weekly mantras on my Instagram if you need more inspiration. 

Once you’ve written this down, hang it up! Tape it on your bathroom mirror, your fridge or your computer; the key is somewhere you’ll see it often. You may even want to place a copy of this declaration on your joint tray or in your stash box; so next time you work with cannabis you’re reminded of your power! If you can, commit to saying this to yourself aloud three times each day up until the Full Moon. On the Full Moon, check back in and see how this intention resonates and feels. 

Ivory Woods

The Waxing Moon

Work with cannabis to: Unlock your creativity, find the confidence to try something new, see things in a new perspective 

Our intentions our set and our hearts are aligned. Now, as the light of the Moon grows, we too focus on what we want to tend to and nurture. The Waxing Moon is a beautiful opportunity for us to honor ourselves and the commitments we made. This is when we get to see the seeds begin to germinate, how we feel during the new stages of a crush, or that moment when you first realize you’re stoned. This is a transition into something even better than we can dream and the part of the cycle when we’re able to redirect course if needed, adapting so we can stay on route.

This moon phase is an excellent time to try something new; to go on a first date, to try a new edible or strain of weed, to practice a new meditation or take a class. The keyword is growth and evolution! This is when we really get to commit to what we want to cultivate; whether that’s something new, or something we want to keep on caring for. During this moon phase, you may feel a more inspired or artistic high, urging you to reframe things in new perspectives. 

Ritual for the Waxing Moon: Collage with a sigil

You can work with the cannabis plant to help you unleash the flurry of creativity this moon phase offers, and by collaging and working with sigils- or magical symbols charged with an intention- you can carry out your declaration from the New Moon while creating a visual representation of this. You’ll need collage supplies; paper, glue, old magazines or books, a glue stick or tape. And your cannabis of choice! 

Take some time to gather your supplies and whatever method of cannabis consumption you decided on. Turn your phone on silent, put on some ambient music, light any candles or incense. Then, find a comfortable seat and take a moment to close your eyes and breathe. Come back to the intention you set at the New Moon. Think about what this means to you and how its evolved, if at all. When you’re ready, open your eyes. Now is the time to work with your weed of choice, so consume this as you see fit, and then start to collage around your New Moon intention. You may wish to write this intention out, or you can use images, art and color to express your intention instead. You can incorporate magick sigils into this, either into the art or on the back of your page. To write your own sigils you will:

  1. Take your statement of intention and write it down. For example “I AM MAGICK”
  2. Then you cross out all repeating letters and vowels which would leave you with “MGCK”
  3. You would take these remaining letters and create a symbol out of them by overlapping them, combining them, and arranging them. This isn’t supposed to look like letters, but a weird symbol your subconscious can bury and attach your intention to.

Once you’re done creating your sigil, you can draw it into your collage or draw it on the back, taking a hit or edible to celebrate your hard work. You may also wish to charge or send this sigil energy by dancing, chanting, exercising, or the witches’ favorite- masturbating. As you get to the peak of this energy raising, send your sigil and intention energy through your mind’s eye. When you’re finished, hang up your collage somewhere you’ll see it often! 

Ivory Woods

The Full Moon 

Work with cannabis to: Tap into your intuition, own your fullest power, believe in your own magick

The energetic climax of the month, the Full Moon is like a cosmic battery we can use to fuel any and all of our magick (though banishing is best saved for the Waning Moon.) At the peak of her power, this luminary body represents our fullest potential. With the light of the sun reflecting on her, the Full Moon acts as a portal, illuminating our magick and granting us easier access to her ethereal power. This is when our intuitive and psychic senses are on high, when we may be granted with prophetic dreams, see repeating numbers, or feel things more clearly. The Full Moon is the height of the 28-day cycle of the moon, and a time when things come to completion as well. This is when we can see how our intentions held up and when we can bask in and celebrate what we’ve accomplished. 

The Full Moon is like the energetic equivalent of a great high; it’s lifting us up, connecting us to the unseen, allowing us to be present with different layers of reality. The Full Moon strips away the illusion that everything is what it seems. Like cannabis, she allows us to shift our perception to see the familiar truth- that we are creatures of the earth, that we’re cyclical, that we’re also all just energy vibrating. With this, both weed and the moon offer us the opportunity to find joy in this state of the ephemeral- as we exist in this tween state, we can grab the golden thread of magick and weave something out of it. 

Whether you’re practicing sex magick, connecting to the elements, manifesting, practicing rituals of self-care or going out and dancing with your friends, the Full Moon is the perfect time to do it big. Some may prefer to go out, be seen, and enjoy the heightened energy of this time. Others may prefer to stay in, smoke, and practice rituals and magick with themselves or their coven. There’s no right or wrong way! But if you’re looking to infuse your Full Moon with some weed magick, then you may wish to puff, puff, meditate. 

Ritual for the Full Moon : Meditate with cannabis and charge it under the moon

There are two steps to this ritual, and they can be done in either order. We have a Full Moon in Pisces on September 13th, and this is the perfect time to do this ritual, though any Full Moon works. 

Step 1-  Charge your cannabis or bong water under the moonlight! 

Since you can charge talismans and crystals under the light of the Full moon, to clear and cleanse their energy, who’s to say you can’t charge your cannabis? Although this will work best with flower, you can charge whatever you want under the Full Moon, including water to use with your bong. Plan to leave this out for at least a few hours the night before or the night of the Full Moon, either outside or on a windowsill or somewhere similar inside. You can leave a jar or baggie of bud, and a bowl or jar of water, asking that the Moon clear and rid this of any unnecessary energy, and bless it with all its love, healing, magick and abundance. You may wish to mark the day and sign of this Full Moon for future reference as well.

Use this blessed bud to meditate with, (though you can also meditate and then bless your weed), for sex magick, cooking or in ritual settings (like any of the other activities written in this guide) to infuse some moon energy into your life. You can also dedicate this weed solely to ritual or magical use as well. Use your blessed bong water for a balanced high, and sprinkle the water in the corners of your home (before you place it in your bong) to help you energetically cleanse your space. 

Step 2- Meditate 

You may wish to read through this a few times to get familiar with it. You can also record yourself reading it as a guided meditation. 

Take your cannabis and find a comfortable seat, either sitting up or laying down. Take a moment to breathe and find some presence, allowing any worries or thoughts about the day to fall away. Take a few hits of weed (if you’re eating an edible, do this an hour before you begin to meditate,) and as you do so, ask for connection to this herb. Ask for the spirit to hold you, to guide you, to share it’s wisdom with you. Thank it and find gratitude in your heart for it. 

When you’re ready to begin to meditate, close your eyes. You’ll start to practice the threefold breath- inhaling, exhaling and holding. Try this for four seconds for each part of the breath, increasing to five or six seconds as you can. As you exhale and hold, feel your breath and body ringing out your lungs and organs of any toxins. Continue to breathe into this as you visualize white light cleansing every part of your body. You relax more and more, and start to feel the boundaries of your body dissolve. Now ask that the spirit of the cannabis plant to make itself known to you. Notice any colors, feelings, sensations, or noises. Don’t force this, and know that even if nothing comes up you can always try again, and that the meditation is still working. 

Once you feel this connection to the cannabis plant, ask that it guides you in connecting to your higher self. The Full Moon helps to make this easier, acting as an ethereal conduit to this evolved version of yourself. As you continue to ask the cannabis spirit to help you connect to your higher self, you may visualize the crown of your head opening like a door, inviting in messages from the cosmos. Give yourself permission to receive your own divine wisdom and feel into all of your senses as you ask for this connection. Allow this to come to you through colors, smells, feelings, visions, tastes and intuitive inklings. 

You may ask yourself, or the cannabis plant, for whatever guidance or wisdom you need. When you’re ready to finish the meditation, thank the plant spirit and your higher self for their support and wisdom. Then, visualize the door at the crown of your head shutting, and slowly move your fingers, and open your eyes! 

Ivory Woods

The Waning Moon 

Work with cannabis to: Release what you no longer need, relax, and heal 

Between the Full Moon and the New Moon, as the light of the moon grows smaller or wanes, we too focus on what we want to release and banish. While the Waxing Moon is a great time to try something new, the Waning Moon is a beautiful chance to let some shit go! This is when we get to see what habits, patterns, and situations are keeping us from accomplishing our intentions. This is when we can banish and burn away, and when we can protect and bless.

We planted the seeds on the New Moon, tended to the garden on the Waxing Moon, bloomed during the Full Moon and now during the Waning Moon, we get to enjoy our harvest, pick our bounty, and eat it. This is a time of release, and we can work with cannabis as a way to surrender and soften into this. While we may have found the waxing and full phases to be outwardly celebratory, the Waning Moon is the equivalent of Fall, when we’re ready for cuffing season or in the mood to stay home by ourselves to get our shit in order. This is a time to be both compassionate and firm with ourselves; what’s working and what isn’t? Take the time to look back at the intention you set during the New Moon; take stock of what’s been working and what hasn’t and then act accordingly. This is a wonderful time to work with CBD in all its forms, a chance for us to find our center before we begin a new cycle on the New Moon.

Ritual for the Waning Moon: Protection bath with cascarilla and mullein 

This ritual is simple; you’ll be creating a ritual bath for yourself for protection and energetic cleansing. This is a good way to shed any baggage from the past month, and to protect yourself as you continue turning inward through the Dark Moon. 

You’ll be working with cannabis as a way to either relax deeper into this ritual, by smoking it, or as an ingredient in your bath by adding CBD and THC infused bath salts.  For the bath itself, you can use any or all of the following protective herbs. Keep in mind you don’t need much of each herb; a couple of pinches is enough. You may also wish to add herbs like lavender for healing and rose for love as a way to add a stronger scent as well. Keep in mind, if you’re using herbs it’s best to use organic herbs if you’re going to be soaking in them.

  • Epsom Salt- though it’s not an herb, salt is one of the smallest natural crystals and absorbs negative energy. Epsom salt helps to relax muscles, ground, and soothe the energetic body.
  • Cascarilla- Powdered eggshell used to banish and protect. You can buy this at your local metaphysical shop or botanica.  
  • Mullein- Associated with the element of fire, mullein is fiercely protective and can be used to help cleanse your system of any negative energy. 
  • Bay Leaf- Both healing and protective, Bay Leaf is classically used in banishing rituals to remove unwanted energies and creative a protective boundary.
  • Mugwort- ruled by the Moon, Mugwort is an herb of psychic visions and protection. Use it to connect with your intuition and the energy of the moon as you release and realign.

Before you begin, gather all your supplies, including your cannabis, and run the bath. As the bath runs, take a moment to meditate. Breathe into your body, and as you exhale, release anything you’ve been clinging to. Get present in the moment and ask yourself what you need to shed and let go of. You may like to set this as an intention for your bath. Stay here as long as you need, releasing this more and more with each exhale. When you’re finished meditating, you can open your eyes and start to prepare your bath.

Once the bath is almost full, add the Epsom salts. Once the bath is done running, you may add pinches of your herbs. Make sure that you have your cannabis near you ( ‘cause you’ll be smoking in the bath), and once the temperature is okay, step into the tub. Settle into the water as you allow the bath to absorb whatever it is you’re shedding. Consciously declare to yourself that you’re releasing this. Yes, you will have to follow this up with action in real life, but for now, let the water wash this away.

Ivory Woods

Once you’re ready, smoke your cannabis, allowing this herb to also work its protective and healing magick on you. Know that you’re guided and protected, even sitting in the tub. When you’re finished with this ritual, thank the herbs and yourself, drain the tub, and voila! You’re done.
Wait until the next day, when the herbs are dry, to clean the bath for easier pick up. You may also wish to check back in with your New Moon intention at this time to see how that manifested as well. 

No matter how you celebrate the cycles of the Moon, cannabis may help you do so with more ease! So mote it be! 

The post The High Priestess: Working with Cannabis and Lunar Magick appeared first on High Times.

Agilent Partners with LSSU on Cannabis Chemistry & Research

Back in August, Lake Superior State University (LSSU) announced the formation of a strategic partnership with Agilent Technologies to “facilitate education and research in cannabis chemistry and analysis.” The university formed the LSSU Cannabis Center of Excellence (CoE), which is sponsored by Agilent. The facility, powered by top-of-the-line Agilent instrumentation, is designed for research and education in cannabis science, according to a press release.

Chemistry student, Justin Blalock, calibrates an Agilent 1290 Ultra-High Pressure Liquid Chromatograph with a 6470 Tandem Mass Spectrometer in the new LSSU Cannabis Center of Excellence, Sponsored by Agilent.

The LSSU Cannabis CoE will help train undergraduate students in the field of cannabis science and analytical chemistry. “The focus of the new LSSU Cannabis CoE will be training undergraduate students as job-ready chemists, experienced in multi-million-dollar instrumentation and modern techniques,” reads the press release. “Students will be using Agilent’s preeminent scientific instruments in their coursework and in faculty-mentored undergraduate research.”

The facility has over $2 million dollars of Agilent instruments including their UHPLC-MS/MS, UHPLC-TOF, GC-MS/MS, LC-DAD, GC/MS, GC-FID/ECD, ICP-MS and MP-AES. Those instruments are housed in a 2600 square-foot facility in the Crawford Hall of Science. In February earlier this year, LSSU launched the very first program for undergraduate students focused completely on cannabis chemistry. With the new facility and all the technology that comes with it, they hope to develop a leading training center for chemists in the cannabis space.

Dr. Steve Johnson, Dean of the College of Science and the Environment at LSSU, says making this kind of instrumentation available to undergraduate studies is a game changer. “The LSSU Cannabis Center of Excellence, Sponsored by Agilent was created to provide a platform for our students to be at the forefront of the cannabis analytics industry,” says Dr. Johnson. “The instrumentation available is rarely paralleled at other undergraduate institutions. The focus of the cannabis program is to provide our graduates with the analytical skills necessary to move successfully into the cannabis industry.”

Storm Shriver is the Laboratory Director at Unitech Laboratories, a cannabis testing lab in Michigan, and sounds eager to work with students in the program. “I was very excited to learn about your degree offerings as there is a definite shortage of chemists who have experience with data analysis and operation of the analytical equipment required for the analysis of cannabis,” says Shriver. “I am running into this now as I begin hiring and scouting for qualified individuals. I am definitely interested in a summer internship program with my laboratory.”

LSSU hopes the new facility and program will help lead the way for more innovation in cannabis science and research. For more information, visit LSSU.edu.

The post Agilent Partners with LSSU on Cannabis Chemistry & Research appeared first on Cannabis Industry Journal.

Can THCV Help You Lose Weight And Enhance Your High?

We’re all aware of THC’s power to help us with sleep, relieve pain and or simply relax after a long day. We also love THC for deeper reasons.

For as long as artists and thinkers have existed, humans have all celebrated this “holy herb” for its power to inspire creativity, laughter, joy and love. Yes, green-fiends, it seems THC is pretty rad.

The Cost of THC

Can THCV Help You Lose Weight And Enhance Your High?
Courtesy of Kanabia

Unfortunately, THC has also been linked to negative effects such as increased anxiety, risk of psychosis, increased depression, and of course, increased appetite. Long-term use has also been linked to reduced concentration, decreased short-term memory and impaired “Mario-Kart” motor skills.

Beyond THC—The Whole Picture

Can THCV Help You Lose Weight And Enhance Your High?
Courtesy of Kanabia

So how can something so good for us also do us such harm?

As it turns out, THC doesn’t naturally occur by itself. THC is just one of more than 100 different cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant— cannabinoids like CBD, CBDV, CBG, CBN and THCV. Each of these cannabinoids have their own unique health benefits. It’s these “other cannabinoids” that help balance out the psychoactive and neurotic costs of THC.

A healthy life means having a varied diet, with more than one food and more than one vitamin. It’s the same with cannabinoids. Nature never meant us to have just THC; we were always meant to have the most complete variety of cannabinoids.

Balancing THC

Can THCV Help You Lose Weight And Enhance Your High?
Courtesy of Kanabia

As growers compete to make the dankest weed, THC levels in weed have risen dramatically with CBD levels falling. In one study, the ratio of THC to CBD was found to have increased from as much as 14 times to 80 times since 1995. The result is a stronger high, with less CBD and other cannabinoids (CBDV, CBG, THCV) to balance out the THC.

So how can we enjoy the benefits of THC without worrying about its side effects? How do we find the right balance with our cannabinoids?

THCV—Reducing Your Hunger While Boosting Your Clarity

Can THCV Help You Lose Weight And Enhance Your High?
Courtesy of Kanabia

While CBD can relax you, there are other cannabinoids that can preserve and even enhance the creative energy of your high.

That cannabinoid is THCV. Known as one of the rarest and hardest to extract cannabinoids, it’s so exotic that “strain hunters” have died hunting it down.

What makes THCV so special? In lower doses, THCV actually blocks receptors that respond to THC. So while THC kills your concentration and jacks up your anxiety and hunger, using THCV as the same time can actually increase your mental concentration, decrease your appetite, and may have powerful neuroprotective benefits for Parkinson’s as well as antipsychotic effects. THCV also shows incredible promise as an anti-acne agent.

In short, THCV balances the negative parts of THC while sharpening your mind. THCV has huge potential for weight-loss by suppressing your appetite.

Where can I find THCV?

Can THCV Help You Lose Weight And Enhance Your High?
Courtesy of Kanabia

THCV is the rarest cannabinoid. THCV can be found in some strains of cannabis, but can’t be found in isolate due to the difficulty of finding it and the high cost of extracting it.

One company is paving the way for access to such rare and newly discovered cannabinoids as THCV.

Kanabia is the first to have CBD, CBDV, CBG, THCV in one complete formula.

Through pioneering research and revolutionary extraction methods, they are also the first to have concentrated THCV and significant levels of other cannabinoids.

In addition to CBD and THCV, Kanabia’s multi-cannabinoid formula also contains CBG (a powerful anti-inflammatory) and CBDV (a strong neuroprotective with antibacterial effects).

Whether it’s for enhancing your high or for sleep, recovery, and anxiety, Kanabia is proud to offer the most complete range of cannabinoids for a full range of health benefits. With an assistance program (40% OFF) for military, students, disability, low-income status, and public safety workers, Kanabia’s goal is to bring top quality and affordable cannabinoids to all.

Save 15% off every order with the code Hightimes15. Free shipping to the United States!

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What’s in Your Stash? Max Montrose: Founder of the Trichome Institute

You might say that Max Montrose has a nose for weed. That his lineage, handed down from beneath his very DNA, in cahoots with spirits of cannabis past, placed him in Denver, Colorado, then waited as the state and the man literally grew into their own.

“The cannabis industry and I grew up together,” Montrose said from his home in Denver, Colorado. “I first started using cannabis from the black market in high school – there was no industry; it was about as mature as I was. While I was in college, the industry medicalized, decriminalized, then we went into legalization and everything became more professional – all of this, literally in my own back yard – and I participated as much as I observed.”

Montrose was a protesting, sign-carrying activist for the plant starting in high school. Beginning in 2007, once in college, he said his only focus was on cannabis.

“College, for me, was a funny situation,” he continued. “I’m a liberal, Jewish, pot-head and went to a very Catholic, Jesuit university in the state of Colorado – Regis University. At Regis, they make you take two classes on every subject – math, science, history. The only thing I studied in any subject, and the focus of most all of my papers, was cannabis.”

Naturalist’s Bachelor’s in Cannabis

Montrose earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology, while working across the street from the university at a dispensary, with his sights firmly set on a career in cannabis. But not just any career. In his case, he let his nose lead him.

“I’ve been asked many times if I’m on the Autism Spectrum,” he shared. “I’ve also been asked more than once if I’m a Super Taster – specifically in terms of identifying good weed by scent. I went to very expensive, special schools because of my learning differences – which are severe dyslexia, ADD, psychomotor agitation – basically, the inability to turn your brain off. I was highly tested.”

According to SkillsYouNeed.com, human behavior specialist Scott Black went one step further with Harvard professor Howard Gardener’s research on learning styles, creating a measured way to determine a person’s overall learning style. Of the categories defined are: Intra & Inter-personal, Logical or Mathematical, Visual or Spatial, Kinesthetic, Musical or Rhythmic, Linguistic, and Montrose’s learning style, the Naturalist. 

“Turns out I’m one of the rarest learning types,” he explained. “I’m a naturalistic learner; I learn best by relating to nature. At a very young age I took talking and relating to plants one step further, and it led me right to one of my favorite plants, cannabis.”

As co-founder of the Trichome Institute, Montrose and team focus, not on cultivar types or whether a plant is indica or sativa, but on interpening, as stated on its website, “The art and science of the Cannabis Sommelier: evaluating flower for total equality control, psychotropic effects, and a variety type designation.”

The institute offers an intensive in-house course on interpening, a comprehensive book and an interpening tool kit. 

“I’m most interested in changing my own alchemy – the process of taking something in some form and alchemically changing your mind – your mood, attitude – your world view; changing your perception of reality. You can’t say you are the same person when you are under the influence – not just THC, but any mind-expanding plant from the natural world.”

Montrose said the cannabis plant was the first plant that spoke to him at a young age, with its fragrance – which is where the medicinal and psychotropic compounds lie; its tastes, and its ability to change one’s alchemy, allowing him to focus on his purpose in life.

Courtesy of Max Montrose

A Living, Breathing Stash

Montrose is a walking, talking testament to his love of, and scientific interest in, plants that change alchemy in humans, with dozens of his beloved entheogen type specimens tattooed on his body. 

“I’m Max from Where the Wild Things Are,” he laughed. “Every tattoo on my body is a drug, or an entheogen – coffee, Ayahausca, beer… and I love reptiles, amphibians. One of my first pets was an Emu. When I was a teenager, after alchemizing with cannabis, I could put myself on that little boat in my mind, leave my parents and my home behind, and sail off to a different world – and I did, often.”

His backyard greenhouse mirrors the plants on his legs with “sacred plants” everywhere, collected from his travels. 

“I make my own beer with hops I grow,” he said. “Hops are a cousin to cannabis. One I’m growing now I found while rock climbing in a canyon, hanging over a cliff – I said, ‘gee, isn’t that a wild, indigenous hop?’ I pulled the rhizome from a crevasse, stuck it in my pack and it’s now growing in my backyard, doing nicely.” 

The Max of Where the Wild Things Are meets The Science Guy, has laid his stash out on his patio for an impromptu photo op. Not concerned with the simplicity of the display.

“My stash is pretty humble,” he said of the spread. “I added the fresh leaves to represent the NLM and BLM type plants I grow. You can’t call them sativa or indica, none of that is real. They are ‘Narrow Leaf Marijuana,’ and ‘Broad Leaf Marijuana’ plants. I don’t believe in strains, I believe in interpening.”

Interpening, Montrose said, is the only way to break down the myriad compounds that make up the full spectrum of said plant. Is it full of fragrant phyto-compounds? Is it heavy on certain terpenes, you can both smell, yet feel with separate cranial nerves? This is what really determine effect – not just the level of THC, which most lab tests focus on.

Courtesy of Max Montrose

Montrose’s stash – his flower and the tools he uses – put the focus on the lure of the flavor, the seductiveness of scent. 

The jar he uses to hold flower for smoking is made by Miron Glass, protecting against harmful effects of light, increasing shelf life, and prolonging potency. Miron has been around since 1995, making its first delivery of violet glass to Spirulina International, for storing the fragile spirulina algae.

“This jar is high-end technology that preserves the herbal material better than anything else, including humidors and two-way humidity packs,” he said. “We sell them on the Trichome Institute website, and is included in the Interpening Tool Kit.

The flower in the jar was grown by Montrose, and the oil in the pen was made from flower he grew; preferring a distillate to hash oil for effect, due to his “higher tolerance.”

Grav Labs is his go-to for glass, with the company sponsoring his top certified Interpening Team for judging, via a full set of glass at each competition they work. A proud moment came when the CEO hand-delivered the now infamous Menorah bong to him the first night of Hanukkah. 

“My jewelers Loupe is custom, with my name engraved,” he said. “It has two lights, including UV. Both are also part of the Interpening Tool Kit. A grinder is a must, the lighters are in-house; and I use a Debowler and pokes to open my glass. I only use Raw papers! I love everything about the company and have been a huge advocate for years.”

The answer to the question, what’s in Max Montrose’s stash, is not an easy one to answer. His stash is the world’s natural grow room; with his bounty wherever his trusty nose will lead him.

“If there was a recipe created for who I am and this life I’m leading, the chef couldn’t have whipped up a more perfect combination,” he surmised. “For a guy who can smell and taste ten times greater than the average human, I’m grateful my super powers put me squarely in the right place at the right time. I was put here on this planet to do this work. My stash is my life.

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NY Department Of Financial Services Issuing Subpoenas Against Opiate Suppliers

The New York Department of Financial Services has announced that it will be issuing dozens of subpoenas to individuals and companies associated with the pharmaceutical opioid industry.

State Governor Andrew Cuomo did not mince words when referring to the pharmaceutical companies’ tendency to obscure their products’ highly addictive nature. “I’ve seen a number of schemes and frauds, but the opioid scheme is as diabolical, as brazen, as obnoxious and as offensive as anything I’ve seen,” he commented on Tuesday.

Last year, the state’s attorney general sued Purdue Pharma, and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has sued the Sackler family of opioid kingpins who own Purdue, in addition to bringing charges against national chain pharmacies who made millions from hocking Oxycontin.

With this latest round of subpoenas, the governor hopes to initiate proceedings that will recoup over $2 billion that New Yorkers were overcharged in health care premiums as a result of insurance industry fraud.

His announcement comes on the heels of the first major ruling against pharmaceutical companies for their role in creating the US opioid crisis. In August, a judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role in the death of the 6,000 Oklahomans who have died as a result of opioid misuse. The company released a statement saying that it would appeal the judgement, whose cash sum would go to fund addiction-fighting programs in the state of Oklahoma.

The US Department of Health and Human Services says that 400,000 people have died nationwide from opioid overdose over the last 20 years. While numbers appear to have dropped between 2017 and 2018, the agency did recommend that the country focus on improving resources for addiction, and bolstering research in the area of opioid abuse.

Across the country, various tactics are being used to counteract the opioid epidemic. In Chicago, a pharmacist has launched a delivery service for naloxone, a drug that can be administered in the case of an overdose. Last week, a $2 billion grant program was announced that will go to fund treatment access and a system to track the size of the opioid epidemic.

Some cannabis advocates have long held that marijuana can play a role in reducing opioid addiction, although states like Rhode Island and Iowa have declined to add opioid addiction to their lists of qualifying conditions for their medical marijuana programs. In New York, the New York State Assembly filed a near-unanimous approval for a bill that would add opioid addiction to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis.

But a recent study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that states that have legalized marijuana have actually seen an uptick in the rate of opioid deaths. Of course, these trends could be influenced by outside factors. Indeed, in May, the American Journal of Psychiatry released a study that showed that cannabis could reduce heroin cravings in addicts. In May, the journal Preventative Medicine published another investigation that suggests that medical marijuana legalization has led to lower rates of opioid prescriptions.

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