The Cannabis Historian, vol. I: Ancient Chinese Secrets
By Timothy Anderson, Purchasing Assistant, Harborside Oakland
Nearly a decade ago, archeologists working in China's Gobi Desert discovered a grouping of tombs-thousands of them-dating back more than 3000 years. Among the many incredible discoveries in these graves was one containing the remains of a 45-year-old male buried 2700 years ago with an impressively large cache of cannabis-nearly two pounds!
Researchers noticed several important things about this ancient sample. First, there was a lack of stalks or any male cannabis parts (which implies purposeful separation and hence, cultivation), and the seeds in particular showed "traits of domestication."
The dry environment and alkaline soil of the desert had preserved this 'stash' almost perfectly, as the cannabis retained its green color and still contained resin glands (trichomes). Researchers noticed several important things about this ancient sample. First, there was a lack of stalks or any male cannabis parts (which implies purposeful separation and hence, cultivation), and the seeds in particular showed "traits of domestication."
Second, when some of the plant matter was examined by chromatography (the same method Steep Hill Lab uses to evaluate samples of medical cannabis), the high levels of certain cannabinoids indicated that this sample likely had relatively high levels of THC (the THC itself was long gone, of course, having succumbed to the ravages of time and degraded into CBN. Rest assured, the medicine you purchase at Harborside will be much more fresh, and potent!). Again, this indicated to the researchers that humans had selected and likely propagated this particular variety cannabis on the basis of its higher-than-average THC content.
Perhaps this man was a shaman (as the other items in his tomb seem to indicate), or just a very cool dude for his era, but one thing is clear: humans were actively cultivating cannabis for medicinal uses thousands of years ago. Seen through a historical perspective, what we do here at Harborside Health Center is but a continuation of a very ancient tradition of using this amazing plant for its many healing properties.
Russo, Ethan et al., "Phytochemical and genetic analyses of ancient cannabis from Central Asia," Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 59, No.15.
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By Rick Pfrommer, Purchasing Manager, Harborside Oakland
To Dab or Not to Dab?
The medical cannabis community is seeing the rise of a new form of concentrate consumption, 'dabbing' or "doing dab's." Concentrated extracts, usually produced with butane or CO2, are consumed using ever-more-elaborate glass apparatus. The most common methods include a 'nail' made from glass or titanium, or a metal skillet. The procedure for dabbing is basically the same. The nail or skillet is heated to red hot with a blowtorch. The extract, usually a solvent wax or oil, is then touched to the red hot surface. The intense heat almost instantly vaporizes it, whereupon it is inhaled through some form of glass tubing. Dabbing devices range from simple pipes, to incredibly complex arrangements of glass chambers, diffusers and mouthpieces.
Watching the variegated rituals involved leads one to ask, "Why are so many people dabbing?" There are several answers to the question. Also, and perhaps more importantly, is dabbing a safe and wellness-oriented method of consumption?
Where's the harm, you might be asking? Isn't it better to consume a small portion of extremely concentrated cannabis, rather than more plant material?
The last decade has seen an explosion in the type and purity level of concentrated cannabis products. It all started with cold water hash, then later butane hash oil (BHO) and more recently CO2, oxygen and hydrogen-collectively called super critical extractions. The availability and potency of concentrates has risen exponentially. Five years ago BHO was commonly available but represented a small segment of the market. Consumption of oils and waxes was initially through traditional methods. Oil could be smeared on a rolling paper or dropped onto a pipe of flowers. BHO would usually be smoked on a pipe of flowers. These methods provided a much stronger effect than just smoking flowers, as the THC content could be as high as 70%. People also used charcoal to instantly vaporize, which is what I believe gave rise to the current dabbing craze.
Where's the harm, you might be asking? Isn't it better to consume a small portion of extremely concentrated cannabis, rather than more plant material? Well, yes. Arguably cold water hash is safer than whole flowers; there are fewer compounds in the smoke that might be potentially harmful. Although if one looks at Dr. Tashkin's 40-year UCLA study showing the signs of lung impairment from regular cannabis consumption, one has to wonder what all the fuss is about. In this author's opinion, it is both the nature of solvent concentrates and the frequency of use that present the most troubling questions about the safety of dabbing. Oh, there's also the burning of yourself, friends and house, with blowtorches and red hot nails. Last but certainly not least, overindulgence in dabbing does not fit in with a wellness model.
I don't have any science to back up these suppositions, just 30 years of cannabis consumption. I believe cannabis undergoes a transformation when exposed to solvents, especially butane. BHO's must be thoroughly purged of any residual butane or the sulfur used as an odorant. Frequently this does not happen correctly. This is one reason why Harborside is so discerning in what products we carry. Even with the cleanest BHO's, the effect of smoking them is fundamentally different than cold water hash or flowers. I, and other longtime smokers I know and respect, feel that BHO has a "chemically" feeling. The high seems to be mostly in the head and is quite powerful. I don't understand, if cannabis can be concentrated using cold water, why anyone would want to use solvents.
Perhaps more troubling than the product itself is the method of consumption. Rituals have always been an important part of cannabis culture and you could argue that dabbing just a logical next step. There is some truth to that. People with extreme medical conditions for whom flowers are not strong enough can indeed benefit from dabbing. My concern lies more with 18-year-olds who are just learning to medicate. Imagine having access to 60-70% THC products and a method for consuming large amounts in a short time. This appears to be a recipe for abuse-following an intoxication not wellness model. The same way a young person will do a beer 'bong,' or tequila shots until they puke, they are overindulging in dabbing.
I've been concerned about this trend for a while but my recent trip to the High Times Cannabis Cup in L.A. is what prompted this article. I was amazed and more than a little concerned watching hordes of 20-somethings dabbing away. I saw very few sharing joints or pipes. Instead people were clustered around elaborated glass pipes and blowtorches. For those of you who lived through the 1980s, the similarities to 'freebasing' were impossible to ignore. More worrisome were the glazed looks of many people's faces. The folks weren't medicated, they were ripped. I know I'm sounding old-fashioned but what's wrong with a joint, bong hit, or pipe? Are we preserving the best face for the medical community to the rest of the world to be so high we can barely function?
How is this wellness?
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Crochet for a Cause
After watching my father lose his hair due to the effects of chemotherapy-and then losing him to cancer a few years ago-I was looking for a way to contribute to the patients suffering from this horrible disease that claims thousands of lives each day. While accompanying Dad to one of his weekly chemo sessions I noticed that many of the patients, who had clearly been in chemo for some time, were not wearing any hats. At that moment, an idea came to me: To help as many patients as I can who are in need of headwear for warmth, comfort, courage and strength by donating handmade crochet beanies.
Harborside Health Center contributes to numerous charities and we have excellent free programs for all of our patients. After making hats for our staff and patients, I approached management to talk about starting a crochet class for our patients who would like to learn how to crochet. In return, all the hats they make will be donated to the Chemo Therapy Ward at Valley Health Medical Center.
We've had great success with patients signing up and many others who've donated finished hats and yarn, even though they can't make it to the class. Patients experienced in knitting have also provided their assistance. I'm very proud to lead the class and be part of this! It's always been my dream to help out in any way I can, and to dedicate my time and knowledge for this great cause.
It is my hope that one day a cure for cancer will be found but until then, I'll keep making my hats.
Crochet classes started Feb. 26 and are held at Harborside San Jose every other Sunday (3/11, 3/25 and so on).
-Vlad Fershtater, Ombuds and Clones Associate, Harborside San Jose
JB's Product Pick:
Sun Grown Full Extract Cannabis Healing Oil
In an effort to accommodate patients who seek alternative methods of medicating other than smoking, Harborside Health Center offers a wide array of products to satisfy. To provide patients with a similar product to Rick Simpson's Phoenix Tears Healing Oil (http://phoenixtears.ca), we have started carrying a Sun Grown Full Extract Cannabis Healing Oil that is refined using only food-grade ethyl alcohol, and is fully decarboxylated and solvent-free. This extract contains almost all components of the cannabis medicine and not just the more popular THC and CBD; the plant product is grown outdoors in the sun so it retains all of nature's goodness. Ingested orally or applied topically, this oil has been used for many ailments, including nausea, Crohn's, MS, Lupus, skin rashes and sores. Cannabis oil has also been used as a replacement treatment for patients with serious pain issues who want to stop using dangerous and addictive narcotics for relief. The oil can also help promote healthy and restful sleep. Ask a Harborside Health Center sales associate today about alternatives to smoking, like this amazing Sun Grown Healing Oil for only $60.
- John Brown, Web/Marketing Manager, Harborside Oakland
An ongoing bulletin on holistic services at Harborside
Recently, someone asked me for an easy way to describe how Reiki makes everyone feel better. And I find, it's all in the breath-and coming back to the awareness of your own breathing body. After a Reiki treatment, people leave breathing lighter, often walking lighter, feeling brighter and refreshed.
Today we are becoming more conscious about what we eat and drink but we don't often think about how we breathe. And yet, our breath is our most direct connection with the world-we enter the world and we start to breathe. Breath is life force in the body. And the way we breathe affects our nervous system, our heart, our concentration and our sleep.
When we experience ongoing stress or pain, physical or emotional, our breathing is easily affected, becoming habitually restrained or blocked, more shallow and in the chest.
So, start by noticing your breath right now. We always begin where we are. Just observe.
Become present to the movement and sensation of your body breathing in-and out.
When you watch your breath you are making your mind focus still.
Now, try taking some deeper breath all the way down into your belly.
Abdominal breathing has a calming and relaxing effect and can help us add more life energy. We absorb more oxygen and release more waste products with fewer but more effective breaths.
During a session, as you feel the Reiki energy bringing greater balance to your physical, mental and emotional body, you come back to your own most natural breath.
Free Reiki services are offered at Harborside Oakland, Mondays 11am-3pm.
-Ewa Litauer, Hynotherapy & Reiki Practitioner
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A humorous meditation on all things Harborside
By Andrew DeAngelo, General Manager, Harborside Oakland
"When are we going to see more episodes of 'Weed Wars'?!"
I have been asked this question more than any other in my life. And since I am a numbers sort of guy, I actually calculated how many times. Answer: 14,400,000. How is that possible, you ask?
I applied a very simple formula.
I get asked this question on average daily about 24 times on Twitter and various other sites on the Internet. It's been surmised that each time someone posts a question online, there are 10,000 others who think about it and do not. So that represents about 240,000 questions a day multiplied by 60 days since the airing of the last episode and you get to my 14,400,000. And I'm not counting the other 25 or so of the same inquires I get working at Harborside Health Center, which adds another 1,500 for a grand total of 14,401,500 questions that are actually the same: "When can we see more episodes of 'Weed Wars'?"
All of this has motivated me to answer this question, in writing, once and for all. Perhaps then I will not have to answer it anymore, but merely direct people to this article. I may have to get it translated into Braille and 110 other languages to reach everyone, but I am willing to do that. OK, here we go:
I don't know when there will be more episodes of "Weed Wars."
The problem with that answer is people find it totally unsatisfying. I find it unsatisfying. And so I keep talking when, perhaps, I should not. I discuss the complex decision-making process of a giant multi-media company like Discovery Channel. I go on about our ratings and how those ratings must be put into the context of other ratings for similar shows on similar days at similar times. Then I digress into the true meaning of the word similar, which is not similar to any other word except similar. I philosophize about what an episode is, and the meaning behind the idea of an episode, and how episodes reproduce.
All of this talking usually gets me pretty worked up and stressed out. I then turn to some wonderful Sun Grown flowers to ease the stress and allow me to focus. No one has Sun Grown like Harborside so it's a lucky thing I work here. Once that medicine hits my brain and body, I keep talking, trying to give a satisfactory answer to the $14,401,500 question.
You see, people expect me to have the answer. They assume my brother and I produced "Weed Wars" for Discovery Channel-which we did not. They look at me like I'm crazy if I tell them I don't know if or when there will be more "Weed Wars." They simply cannot comprehend that there's no real answer to this most frequently asked question. And for the record, Steve and I certainly cannot comprehend why Discovery (or even NBC!) does not want more "Weed Wars."
In the end, we do expect more episodes, but we don't know for sure. It's up to the Discovery Channel and they have not yet told us. One thing for certain is this: Harborside Health Center will be here to serve our patients and community each day we are open for business. Television shows come and go, but our mission stays the same-to serve all of you in a spirit of caring, healing and innovation. My brother Steve and I, and our entire team will always be here for our patients despite what Discovery decides about "Weed Wars." And that is the most important answer to the most important question I have ever been asked in my life.
FAQ of the Month:
Does Harborside Sell Seeds and/or Clones?
A question we get a lot at Harborside Health Center is whether we offer seeds and/or clones, and the answer is YES! Harborside Health Center has the widest selection of seeds and clones around, with more than 40 different clones and about 100 strains of seeds available at any time.
Harborside stocks some of the best known and respected breeders' seeds, including lines from TGA, Cali Connection, and DNA. Our seeds come directly from the breeders so there's no wondering exactly what you have; it's the prime product for the really serious grower who has the time to dedicate to their garden. For the everyday grower, however, we also offer exceptional clones to speed up your growing process.
Clones are essentially small cuttings of larger cannabis plants which retain the same genetics of their larger mother, hence the name "clone." Clones are efficient because you are provided with a plant that is already growing, which eliminates the time and effort needed for germination and sexing the plants to locate the females. Harborside Health Center only deals with reputable nurseries who supply us regularly with superior cuts. These nurseries include Dark Heart Nursery (DHN), Queen Bee Nursery (QB), House Of David's Nursery (HOD) and more. We offer a wide array of strains in our clone department and encourage all patients to stop by the Clone Department to discuss genetics and growing with them. Of course, we would also encourage you all to take one of our Grow Classes that are offered every weekend. It is a great complement to growing your seeds and clones, and the class is FREE to all patients.
Harborside Health Center does have a wide selection of seeds and clones, and we encourage all patients to try growing at some point if they are interested. You can always take a look at our seed and clone menu online at: http://www.harborsidehealthcenter.com/images/SeedMenu.pdf.
We also post our clones daily on our Twitter feeds at the following places:
San Jose: http://www.twitter.com /HHCSJ
Of course, you can always stop by for a menu as well. We hope to see you around the Clone Department sometime discussing strains with our experts!
- John Brown, Web/Marketing Manager, Harborside Oakland