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STEM Tuesday: Cannabis, Shannanabis.

Born in the Flower Child generation, I missed out on the drug culture entirely.  I never even went to a kegger.  Well, I take that back, I did go to one when I was a senior in high school.

“Look!”  someone shouted.  “Adela’s here.”

I can’t believe its echoed out of the barn and across the field.  A bunch of my classmates swarmed at me, beckoning to me like a crowd of zombies carrying red solo cups.

I was so embarrassed that I left after fifteen minutes.  Was I really that straight-laced?  Was I really that much of a geek or nerd or whatever, that the crowd looked at me like Snow White just showed up at a triple X-rated movie?

Maybe.  Or maybe I’m just a little bit of a control freak.  I decided I’d get drunk when I turned 40.  I did.  With a bunch of people I trusted.  Okay, it’s not that easy to let go of control.  Plus, I like to remember what I did, even if the people around me have a very different memory.

I decided I’d smoke a joint when I turned 50.  I didn’t.  Mainly because Wrestler #2  was “shocked and appalled” by my behavior.   “It’s illegal,” he admonished me.   (I hate it when my words come back at me.)

Today many States legalized pot: twenty-two, plus Washington D.C.  Mainly for medicinal use, but two States legalized cannabis for recreational use, too.

Okay, now I’m geeking-out over cannabis facts.  And they’re coming at me from everywhere:  The radio stations, CNN, and my favorite podcast “Stuff You Should Know.” (At the end of this post, I have a bunch of links, so you can geek-out along with me if you are so inclined.)

According to Chuck and Josh (“Stuff You Should Know hosts,”) the word marijuana started to be used to describe cannabis sometime in the 1930s as a way to associate cannabis with Mexican immigrants.  (!)  There are two species or types of cannabis: Sativa which produces a creative, “brain high;” and Indica which produces a “couch-lock” mellow kind of high.

Most cannabis is a blend or hybrid of the Sativa and Indica types.  They have some crazy names out there like Northern Lights (a mostly Indica blend) and Charlotte’s Web, which is a Sativa type.

Cannabis has 109 cannibanoids or CBDs, 33 cancer causing chemicals, and TCH, which is a psychotropic chemical.  Although cannabis can cause cancer, it can also kill cancer cells, most notable liver cancer and breast cancer cells.

Other human body systems
Other human body systems

Scientists discovered a new biological system called the endocannibanoid system, due to some of the cannabis research done.  To put it simply, this system works with our other biological systems to return the body to  homeostatis.  It’s the CBDs that seem to regulate electrical and chemical activity in the nervous system. (Turns out almost all animals, even sea squirts and nematodes, have an endocannibanoid system. Even some plants have a endocannibanoid system.)

The CNN’s chief medical reporter, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reversed his negative opinion on the medical use of marijuana.  He created a docomentary on Charlotte’s Web, a strain of cannabis developed by the six Staley Brothers.  Charlotte’s Web helps six-year old Charlotte Figi in her struggle against Dravet Syndrome.  This form of epilepsy starts around three months of age with increasing frequency of seizures, and usually results in death.  Thanks to Charlotte’s Web, Figi went from 300 seizures to 3 seizures a week.

The strain of cannabis that the Staley Brothers developed has a low level of THC.  According to one source, you’d have to smoke a bale of Charlotte’s Web to get high.  But smoking is not the only way to get a dose of cannabis.  You’ve probably heard about pot brownies.  Other routes of administration are tinctures, oils, coffees, teas, and even strips similar to popular breath strips.

This CNN video is long, but full of information.  Click to watch:

Leafly.com has a ton of information about the cannabis strains available, along with user reviews.  For example, the medicinal uses for Charlotte’s Web are Migraines, ADA/ADHD, epilepsy, and anxiety; Northern Lights is for anxiety, migraines, PTSD, bi-polar disorder, and ADA/ADHD.  Most of the reviews I read addressed the “high” or degree of “mellow” achieved, rather than the medical effectiveness.

So am I ready for a toke?  No.  The control freak in me kicked in for two reasons.  If the endocannibanoid system is so important for my ying/yang balance and homeostasis, I don’t want to mess with it.  Plus, the same system that get things back in balance is responsible for a bit of short-term memory loss.  I like to remember what I did when I have all that fun.  It can take up to 20 days for cannabis to clear my system.  That’s too long for me to relinquish control.  Besides, my inner geeky-nerd is feeling pretty high on all this new-found knowledge.

Okay, here are a few resources if you want more information:

About the endocannibanoid system:

Chuck and Josh How Marijuana Works (“Stuff You Should Know” is a great podcast.  I just learned how soccer works and impressed Loved One with my new-found knowledge. The episode on octopuses or octopi – both are correct, and the origin of comic books, kept grand kids entertained on a five hour car ride.)

About Dravet Syndrome:

Now that you’re through all the dry stuff, I got a half-year birthday surprise from a friend. If it’s good enough for the President….Teeheee. Giggle-giggle.  A Cheeto sandwich and some chocolate milk.

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