People are continuing to consume cannabis in an often urgent bid to ease the symptoms of a variety of chronic conditions, diseases, mind disorders and ailments. However, unless you live in a forward thinking country like the USA, Israel, Italy or the Netherlands, access to cannabis isn't as easy as it should be.

However, if you've been able to source some yourself or have grown your own for personal use then you're obviously pretty determined to sample its effects and benefits. But are you prepared?

Consuming cannabis in any of its forms for the first time can be quite an intense experience, so it's best to ensure you have everything you need beforehand. A little planning and preparation can help make your first experience that bit more relaxing and enjoyable.

Research the effects of cannabis on the body and mind.

Cannabis Edibles and Medibles are legal in many US states, but aren't necessarily the best choice for your first cannabis experience. Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dankdepot/

Taking a moment to evaluate the effects of cannabis can help prepare you for the types of sensations it may give you. It will also give you a better understanding of what is happening to you and why.

The internet is packed with information on the effects of cannabis, but try to avoid scare-mongering or right-wing websites with an agenda.

Make sure you have a refreshing beverage nearby.

Consuming cannabis can lead to a very dry mouth and sometimes depending on the method of consumption, a dry cough. Having a soothing warm or cold drink nearby can rescue you from cotton mouth or a tickly cough.

Choose drinks that are rehydrating, rather than energy or caffeine based drinks.

Make sure you're somewhere you feel comfortable and relaxed.

As with most first experiences you'll want to feel as comfortable and as relaxed as possible, so choose somewhere familiar to you that offers a safe, protected environment. Then take a seat in your favourite comfy chair, or try lying down if that's more comfortable for you and settle in!

Don't go it alone, have someone with you!

Not only does it give you someone to talk to about how you're feeling, it also gives you some support should you start feeling a little nauseous or disorientated. Make sure they know what to do should you need assistance so make sure you get your canna-buddy to read this article for some useful pointers.

If you're determined prefer to go solo for your first experience at least make sure you have a supportive friend or family member on speed dial, better still have someone in the same location as you, just not in the same space. That way you can enjoy some freedom but still have the option of company.

Munchies!

We've all seen the 'stoner munchies' memes and whilst cannabis doesn't stimulate everyone's appetite in the same way, you may find yourself fancying a snack, or two, or three. So ensuring you have some food nearby will save you having to think about fixing yourself something whilst feeling a bit wobbly.

Sugary foods or drinks have been known to help sober people when they've started to feel a little worse for wear, so bear that in mind when choosing your banquet for one.

So there you have it 5 ways to make your first experience with cannabis slightly more relaxing and hassle free. Have some ideas of your own? Add them in the comments below!

The UK has seen a surge in cannabinoid-based healthcare solutions where demand has seen CBD products grow exponentially due to their many medicinal and therapeutic applications. However not all CBD tinctures and oils are created equal, unfortunately for every high grade product out there, there is a dozen or so low quality offerings.

CBD Molecular Structure

Brace yourself here comes some science! Cannabidoil or CBD as it's better known is a promising and naturally occurring compound found in cannabis. This compound is just one of least 113 found in cannabis, yet it accounts for up to 40% of the plants total extract.

With so many looking to boost their body's endocannabinoid system, or gain some relief from an ailment the market has become a sea of tinctures, oils, capsules and pastes. But there are a few steps you can take before making a purchase to help reduce the risk of wasting your money.

Manufacturing/Extraction Methods

There are currently two main methods of extracting cannabinoids from hemp flowers, those being liquid solvent or CO2 extraction.

One of the most common methods of extraction is using liquid solvents such as butane, isopropyl alcohol, hexane, or ethanol. This lower cost extraction method sees the hemp flower 'washed' with solvent, stripping the plant material of its cannabinoids before being evaporated off and leaving behind oil concentrate. There is a risk of solvents leaving impurities in the finished product and a lack of experience with this method can lead to low quality oil that's green in colour and has a more bitter taste.

Widely used by industrial hemp producers the CO2 extraction method is one of the more expensive techniques of oil extraction, but gives the cleanest product with little to no risk of contamination. This tech savvy extraction method uses a ‘closed-loop extractor’ which features three containers. The first containing CO2, the middle plant material and the last container collects the final product.

Whilst experienced producers can manufacturer good quality CBD products using a liquid solvent method, CO2 extraction remains the superior method of extraction at this time.

A natural hemp plantHemp Source

The quality of any product is the sum of its source. How the hemp is grown is just as important as where, and which species (sativa, ruderalis, or indica). For example industrial hemp has been growing around the world for decades, but this non-food grade hemp is not really suitable for CBD oil. Unfortunately with the increase in demand a lot of industrial hemp is finding it's way into CBD products, so it's important to check the source.

The hemp plant can be grown almost anywhere, thriving in a variety of different climates around the globe. However the quality of the hemp plant itself can vary wildly depending on the type of soil, general care, use of pesticides and light source. It's generally less of a headache to purchase CBD oil that has been made in a country with regulations specifically set in place for hemp.

The UK, USA, Canada, & Europe offer regulated hemp farming, however Europe and the UK have the strictest policies. Organic hemp grown in Europe must also adhere to the EU’s strict organic standards which are more stringent than the USA or Canada, and is regularly audited.

Whole Plant/Full Spectrum

It sounds like marketing spiel, but it can be another important indicator of quality.

Full spectrum or whole plant extract are terms that are often used interchangeably, yet they are not synonymous and are used to describe CBD products that have been extracted from the hemp plant.

Whole Plant Extract - As the name suggests whole plant extract has been made using everything the hemp plant has to offer including fan leaves, stems and seeds. The main cannabinoid and terpene rich parts of the plant are the flowers or buds, anything else generally offers little to no cannabinoid content.

Full Spectrum -  Has not had any of its naturally occurring cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN and CBL, or terpenes like mycerin and pinene removed or isolated. As full spectrum oil has not been refined it will also contain trace amounts of THC. The natural state and potent combination of cannabinoids and terpenes work together to create the 'entourage effect' which can prove more effective, depending on what you're looking for.

Third Party Lab Results

A copy of the lab report for CBD Brother's Blue Edition CBD Oil. Click to enlarge.

All reputable CBD healthcare manufacturers and retailers will offer to show you or have readily accessible third party lab results to confirm in detail the contents, ratio and strength of their products.

CBD third party lab reports are essentially a means of providing an unbiased and independent validation of what’s actually in the product that you're considering. At first glance lab reports can look quite overwhelming, but if you know what to look out for they can become pretty easy to decipher.

The Good - What you want to see.

Alongside CBD you should also see cannabinoid good guys like CBC, THCA, CBG, CBDA, CBN and trace levels of THC if looking at full spectrum. Standard lab reports will not detail every cannabinoid present, so don't be worried if you don't see all of the above compounds listed.

The Bad - What you don't want to see.

Steer clear of any lab report that lists pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, fertilizers or chemical solvents. Though if you're purchasing a CBD healthcare product that has been grown in the EU officially this sort of nightmare lab report is rare.

Lastly double check the lab report you are viewing is for the same product you are considering purchasing.

Beware False Promises

CBD products can offer a great deal in the way of health benefits but they should not be sold as a cure all. Unless regulated by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) no medical claims can be made or promoted, and to do so would be illegal.

Finding the right CBD product for you can be trial and error, and often what will work for one won't necessarily work for another. Luckily due to CBD's increased popularity a number of independent guidance groups and information sites have been created whereby people can discuss their usage and personal experiences.

One closing piece of advice, when trialing any CBD product start on a low dose and work your way up. This will help you find the right product and balance for you.

With all the recent hype surrounding CBD oil there is undoubtedly a risk of 'snake oil' vendors popping up to take advantage of inexperienced consumers. They often make wild claims about their product in order to manipulate people into parting with their cash.

Unfortunately this approach isn't just limited to your local con artists as Holland & Barrett have most recently pointed out. Many corporate companies have used a similar sales technique, but with their larger marketing budget and national reach it can become a dangerous force of capitalist nature.

For example a recent article in love it! magazine (pictured below) features a story about a woman's experience using cannabis oil to treat her cancer. Underneath the article you will see a picture of Holland & Barrett's CBD bottle with the title The 'miracle' oil. This is incredibly misleading as it is not the same oil used by the woman in the article, far from it.

In fact the oil the woman took contained not only a much higher dose of CBD but also a high level of THC content.

Studies on cancer cells in laboratories have found both CBD and THC to have anti-cancer properties. Different studies have also found that different ratios of these cannabinoids work better for different types of cancer. Most found that 1:1 ratios of CBD:THC were the most effective.

The woman in the article took at least 0.5g of a high THC oil that contained little to no CBD to treat her cancer, that's almost double the dose of just THC. Cancer patients require a much higher dose, some taking up to 1.0g a day depending upon how aggressive the cancer is. 

Holland & Barrett's CBD tincture is a food supplement at best, containing just 0.275mg of CBD oil in 10ml of regular hemp seed carrier oil. Whilst micro-dosing CBD has been said to help with some very minor conditions and general health it will not treat cancer, crohns, fibryomalgia or any other serious condition.

Most, if not all CBD oil sold in high street health food shops in the UK are similar in both quality and dosage. These products are to be used as a food supplement only and not intended for medical use. In order to be able to make medical claims the CBD product needs to be regulated following strict MHRA regulatory standards.

In order to avoid low quality CBD oil and wasting your money try to ensure the CBD product you're evaluating is:

Full spectrum/whole plant extract.
From Hemp plants grown in countries with strict regulations and guidelines, the UK or USA for example.
Third party lab tested.

For further advice on what to look out for in CBD products head over to our piece: 5 Ways to Identify High Quality CBD Oil.

Yesterday, marijuana.com reported that Poland is continuing to push forward with its Medical Cannabis Bill. The bill, which was recently voted upon in the Lower House of Parliament in Poland voted overwhelmingly in favour of legalising the herb, with 440 voting in favour and just 2 voting against. Piotr Krzysztof Liroy-Marzec, a member of parliament and author of the Medical Cannabis Bill has stated that whilst there is no set date, legalisation is expected to happen soon.

“Parliament adopted the amendment [today], now we are waiting for the President,” said Marzec. “I’m hoping that is next week. I’m trying to arrange a meeting with the President on Monday or Tuesday to talk about it.”

The bill does not specifically state which ailments or conditions patients can be prescribed medicinal cannabis for, only that those who have seen no positive response to traditional medications or treatments will be illegible to have it prescribed for them.

Poland are not currently set to permit the cultivation of cannabis, allowing for imports only from countries with legal access. However, parliament member Piotr Krzysztof Liroy-Marzec is said to be appealing that decision and is drafting another bill to allow for the national cultivation of cannabis.

This is yet more great news for our EU brothers and sisters, but unfortunately for recreational and medical patients in the UK we can only continue to look on in awe as yet another forward-thinking EU government legalises cannabis, while ours dig around their vintage 1970's sofas trying to find their original copy of Reefer Madness to school the masses.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has stated that cannabis will be made available to medical patients for a number of medical conditions. This makes Greece the sixth European country to legalise cannabis for medical use, putting them in line with Germany, and countries like Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain which already have legal medicinal cannabis.

The Prime Minister also announced that cannabis in the country will see its classification go from Table A - the equivalent of our Schedule 1 - to Table B, which is a class reserved for drugs with proven medicinal value like opium or methadone. This change means that cannabis will be officially recognised to have medicinal value. If someone could have him call May for a chat, that'd be great!.

Greece has a long history with medicinal cannabis, dating back nearly 2,500 years according to historical texts and had been cultivating the plant for its fibres for even longer than that. Despite this rich history Greece took a harsh view on cannabis and its punishments were harsh in comparison to other EU countries. They even went so far as to once arrest a woman for importing hemp powder.

If other countries that have legalised medicinal cannabis are anything to go by the Greece economy is about to get a very big boost. It is yet uncertain as to if Greece will eventually seek full legalisation for cannabis, only time will tell but at least they've popped a shoe in the dispensary door, so to speak.

“From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal.” Mr Tsipras said at a press conference, as reported by the Greek Government Gazette.

If a once strict country like Greece can legalise cannabis for medicinal use, it really does make you wonder what has to happen in the UK for the current government to wake up!

A common method of trying cannabis for this time is to smoke it, however this is the least healthiest way of actually trying it. Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/people/cagrimmett/

Cannabis remains the mostly widely used illicit drug in the UK, with many trying it for the first time in an often urgent bid to gain relief for what ails them. However, trying to navigate the effects of cannabis for the first time can leave you feeling quite unwell. All my experiences aside, I still to this day make the odd greedy mistake which leaves me melting into the sofa and a little green around the gills.

So if you've already taken too many bites of your space cake, or toked one too many times on that pure joint you may now be feeling a little too high. Good news is the feeling won't last forever! And often just riding it out whilst distracting yourself with conversation, music or a film can often help relax you enough to make the feeling less intense and more manageable.

However, if you're at the point where you've had enough here are some methods that may help you to sober up.

Drink cold water
A lot of people report that a large glass of ice cold water can help to wake you up, and is something you can grab pretty quickly.

Eat something
Not something you generally have to tell someone who smokes cannabis, but munchies and cravings aside if you're feeling a little green, a large meal can bring you back up pretty quickly. Also good for sobering you up are sugary foods and drinks, though they aren't so great for the diet.

Exercise
Possibly the last thing you'll want to do when feeling over medicated is jumping jacks and a 1 minute mile, but some have reported that mild exercise such as walking up and down stairs a few times can help to get the blood pumping enough to give your body the wake up call it needs.

Cold shower
You may not want to take a full body shower so in the first instance you can try simply splashing your face with some cold water a few times while taking some deep breaths in and out. If that doesn't work an invigorating cold shower can soon snap you out of it. Though, it is not recommended if you suffer from a condition which is exacerbated by cold temperatures.

Sleep it off
Simple but effective, popping back to bed for a lie down is often the most favoured solution for getting through a 'whitey'. So if you're starting to feel shivery, and a little worse for wear consider wrapping yourself in a nice blanket and trying to get some shut eye.

Fresh Air
Another simple but effective method of sobering up is taking a step outside (if able) and taking a few deep breaths, just make sure you're wearing something appropriate first!. The combination of fresh air, breathing and the change in scenery can often be enough to help sober you up.

All in all there is no surefire way to sober up after consuming too much cannabis as we are all different, but the methods above have proven the most effective throughout the worldwide community.

The most important thing to remember is that the feeling won't last forever, and once you find the right balance you can enjoy the deep relaxation, uplifting effect, relief from pain and symptoms that only cannabis can offer. Have your own way of sobering up? Let us know in the comments!

Medical cannabis - What's it all about?

After the success of last years exceptionally rushed 420 on the beach we tried hard to come back a bit stronger this year with a bit more time to play with and a growing team of enthusiastic and skilled volunteers. Each year protests and festivals are held all over the world on the 20th of April in the name of legalising cannabis for all reasons and to celebrate the good this incredible herb can and does bring every day. We aimed to do this by bringing you some music, cannabis information, community, and the chance to win some amazing raffle prizes that were generously donated to us by these amazing companies.

SB Dunk Low Hemp shoe

Nike are no strangers to hemp, having set stoner and sneaker hearts ablaze in 2004 with the announcement of their 'Hemp' pack. So in order to toke it up a notch this year the US sneaker giant will be releasing this latest commemorative edition of the Nike SB Dunk Low sneaker, simply called 'Hemp' on 420 itself!

Nike Hemp Sneaker

Nike's original Hemp pack was released in 2004, consisting of 3 colourways - Red, Green, Blue

This premium pair of sneakers boasts a real hemp upper construction, that features a striking leather Nike Swoosh stitched onto the surface with contrasting shades of orange and green branding on the tongue and heel. The flash white midsole brightens things up down below, while dark laces and outsole provide added depth. The SB Dunk Low sneaker is designed to keep you comfortable, supported and cool, making it the perfect summer season sneaker.

The official price tag appears yet to be released, however going by the product listing on Zupport.de it will be around £70-£80. European 420 enthusiasts will be lucky enough to be able to buy these from April 15, while a stateside release is expected on 420 itself (April 20th).

It is easy to click and sign a petition. MPs now know that well over 210,000 people have done exactly that, unfortunately without further information they are free to picture why (and then ignore it). They might imagine 210,000 skunk addled lunatics wildly clicking around on the internet, heavily entrenched in comment section warfare. They might imagine medical patients, they might imagine normal people who may or may not use cannabis raising accurate concerns about prohibition, they might imagine any number of other things but only direct communication tells them exactly why you have signed that petition, that you are a real person, you live in their constituency and therefore why they should care.

They also don’t necessarily know that the 210K who did click and sign are just the tip of the iceberg.

Writing a letter to your MP is not a pain. It is worthwhile, and it humanises your action, for each letter the MP receives they know a real human has bothered to reach out to them.

I am going to quickly talk about fear, namely fear about using your real details. I have written a letter to my MP using my own details several times, the first time I did I was worried about what I was doing, that I was going to get in trouble for writing a letter, that it would be used as grounds to raid me even though I was not admitting to anything. I have since also emailed my MP, in each case I have used my real name and (before when writing a physical letter) my address in order to receive a written response. Sometimes I have been quite explicit about my medical use, sometimes I have been speaking more generally about prohibition and why I think it is wrong. My door has not come off. I have seen a few people online talk about using false details when signing the petition or contacting their MP. If the content of your letter is honest, own it. We are not the bad guys and we are on the right side of history. It is of course optional, it is more important to write the letter in the first place.

It is much easier though to email your MP than write to them physically so here are the emails for Swansea East and West and some MPs from the surrounding area:

Geraint Davies, Swansea West, geraint.davies.mp@parliament.uk

Byron Davies, Gower, byron.davies.mp@parliament.uk

Carolyn Harris, Swansea East, carolyn.harris.mp@parliament.uk

Stephen Kinnock, Aberavon, stephen.kinnock.mp@parliament.uk

Christina Rees, Neath, christina.rees.mp@parliament.uk

Nia Griffith, Llanelli, nia.griffith.mp@parliament.uk

Jonathan Edwards, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, jonathan.edwards.mp@parliament.uk

Simon Hart, Carmarthen West and Dinefwr, simon.hart.mp@parliament.uk

http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/contacting-your-mp/ is a useful link for finding other ways to contact your MP such as Twitter. Remember you do not have to identify yourself as a cannabis user or medicinal patient unless you want to. There is plenty of room to be angry about these laws from all sorts of directions not least common sense.

So let us begin, there are a few consistent rules about letter writing but ultimately the main thing about any letter you write to your MP is that it must be personal and clearly from you, it must contain your reasons to feed into the upcoming debate matter far more than it must observe letter writing conventions. Be clear, be concise, be passionate and honest.

Be polite, the MPs are not the enemy here any more than anyone else is, sometimes they will already be happy to support you, sometimes they need to be convinced of the evidence like everyone else –and ultimately they represent you, get them on side! Also, be original, copy pasted letters are apparently ignored, use the one below as a starting model if you want or as inspiration for your own! There are suggestions for topics to expand upon half way down.

Sample letter:

Dear ____________

In the wake of the 200000+ petition on the government's own e-petition website I strongly urge you to consider supporting and attending the debate regarding the legal status of cannabis (both recreational and medicinal) to be held in parliament on October 12th.

The world is changing and from Israel to the US to Uruguay countries are dramatically altering their stances on drug policy. Closer to our own borders, Spain, Portugal and other parts of Europe are exercising restraint in enforcement and approaching the issue with tact, tolerance and an overarching concern for health.

My medical story ……………..

The medical benefits I have seen in others…………

My fears about inaccurate drug education for children ……………….

The benefits to the economy …………..

The wasted money spent on prohibition …………

The bad information in the media ………………

Personal freedom……………..

Please attend the debate on 12th October, this really matters to me and to many, many thousands of people across the country. If you have any questions for me prior to that, I would be happy to speak to you further.

Best wishes,

Your name here

Read it through, double check it, spell check it, send it. Then when you hear a friend talking about the petition or the issue in a wider sense, ask them if they have written to their MP, ask them why they have not.

Finally, don’t stop writing. Write to your MP after the debate as well and thank them for going (if they go), scold them if they don’t go. When a by-election comes up in your area, write to all the candidates if you can. If you are able to go and meet your candidates and speak with them then that is amazing, not everyone can, but everyone definitely can write a letter and make their message heard.

One letter does make a difference, MPs raise the concerns of individual constituents all the time. If there are many of us writing to them, the message becomes harder and harder to ignore as it stops being a government problem because of a petition and instead becomes first a local matter and then a national matter as MPs across party lines are beset by letters from their constituents.

Set yourself a date, get it done.

Happy writing.

Regulate Cannabis Production Petition

 

This morning the petition above hit 70k and just two days ago when I added my signature it was only at a reasonable 10k. The petition will receive a government response at just 10,000 signatures and at 100,000 will be put forward for the chance to be discussed in parliament.

It comes at a time when a handful of local police forces have publicly stated that they will no longer be prioritising cannabis crimes and instead will be using discretion amongst complaints and those found to be growing cannabis to differentiate between small medicinal grows and cash crops run by gangs. The one thing that kicked off this small wave of compassion from some local police forces was the very public announcement from Durham's Police Chief that they would no longer be wasting time on targeting small medicinal grows and those they come across will be dealt with using discretion.

All the evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, points to the regulation and legalisation of drugs to better tackle the harms caused when misused. The government's own specialist advisory teams have repeatedly advised that reform is the best option as it would save millions (if not billions), open up brand new industries previously controlled by drug cartels, and heal the damage that has been caused to our societies and countries by prohibition.

If you're for rational drugs policy and think it's high-time the UK took the grown-up and sensible approach to drugs policy, please sign and share this petition.
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104349