Cannabis College Program at Niagara College

I have always believed that education should be a direct reflection of society and its development, rather than be based solely off of what we already know. While history is important for individuals to learn, education should always be looking to the future as to foster innovation. As countries begin to change their personal and legal interpretations of cannabis use, the education systems provided should also begin to grow. Of course, our Canadian neighbors are leading the way since their decision to nationally legalize cannabis, as the first cannabis college program was opened not to long after.

NiagaraCollegeBlvd_install-3316-809x540-809x540
Photo of Frank Campion, Mayor of Welland, and Dan Patterson, Niagra College President, holding up new street signs for the campus.

Niagra College Canada became the first post-secondary certificate program in the production of commercial cannabis when it opened in November 2018. Still in it’s beginnin gphases, the program only accepts 24 students, 3 times a year. Bill MacDonald, the Coordinator of the Commercial Cannabis Production Program, understood the importance of creating a real curriculum focused around the production of cannabis. MacDonald was a coordinator the greenhouse technician program at Niagra College originally, until he began consulting in the cannabis industry. With his new knowledge of the rapidly growing industry, MacDonald knew that the trends in cannabis would transform the greenhouse industry in total.

” {We] saw how much it was transforming the greenhouse industry and approached the college and said, hey, we need to do a program because this is transforming the whole greenhouse industry, growing industry, and a lot of licensed producers were coming to me saying, ‘ we need qualified growers. We don’t have enough experienced talented people,” – Bill MacDonald, Coordinator of the Commercial Cannabis Production Program, 2018

MacDonald makes an amazing point. As industries emerge, education ALWAYS follows. Take for example the technology industry. At one point in time, there was no fundamental curriculum for educating the youth about how to use technology, let alone develop it. Now, these types of programs are even offered at the grade school level. Not to say that Commercial Cannabis Production Programs will be offered to minors, however, I do believe that for those who are generally interested there should be a tangible education for them to attain.

Once college leadership was on board, MacDonald was able to build the program from scratch. There is no program for the school to follow being the first of its kind, therefore it is still in its developmental stages. To even be considered for the graduate program, a student must have a degree in a related field such as Agricultural of Plant Sciences.

What is funny about the article posted on 2 On Your Side is the reactions that many of the students family members had once hearing about the program. Opposed to before, in the current climate, cannabis production must be looked at as a profession, not just a hobby. Two of the first Canadians accepted into the Commercial Cannabis Production Program at Niagara College detail how their loved ones have grown to understand that what they are studying is a viable profession.

“Older people are like wow congratulations, it’s a growing industry. Then the younger people, you know, give me props and they’re like nice, you’re growing weed in school,” – Carson Otto, Commercial Cannabis Production Graduate Certificate Program at Niagara College, 2018

NC-CCP-program
Photo of a cannabis lab at the Commercial Cannabis Production Program at Niagara College

There is no doubt that as legalization sweeps through the United States, colleges and universities will begin to follow the lead of Niagara College. To build a successful industry, individuals need to be educated, and Niagara College is on the forefront of developing the next trends in the Cannabis Cultivation space.

“Like even my grandma’s going around telling people, hey, my grandson, he’s growing pot at school. So, it’s pretty awesome to see that and get that reaction from people,” – Denzil Rose, Commercial Cannabis Production Graduate Certificate Program at Niagara College, 2018

Article: Exploring Canada’s First Cannabis College Program

The History of Cannabis Museum

Washington D.C, the capital of the United States of America, is home to one of the most prominent tourist industries in the world. Besides the obvious appeal of the white House, Washington D.C is home to many other attractions that bring tourists from all over the world. D.C is a historic hotspot, and encompasses attractions that can appeal to everyone. Due to the fact that they are free, museums tend to be of the most popular tourist attractions in Washington D.C. Visitors can enjoy the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Zoo, National Museum of American History, and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture all for FREE (besides waiting in long lines during peak seasons).

National Mall
A photo of the National Mall during a busy tourist day in the Spring.

Though it is not apart of the Smithsonian, one museum that has not been spoken about much since its conception has been the History of Cannabis museum that was opened on April 17th, 2017. One reason it may not be as popular at the moment is because it doesn’t employ the same policy as the other Smithsonian’s; Unfortunately it costs $10 to get in. However, for those tourists who are looking to also indulge in Cannabis Tourism, this museum would be a great visit.

In 2014, Initiative 71 was passed in Washington D.C. The initiative legalized the recreational use of cannabis in the district, allowing for attractions such as the History of Cannabis Museum to be opened. The museum welcomes the Washington D.C community and all tourists to learn more about the development of cannabis use throughout time and the positive ways that it can impact society. 

Now located at 2822 Georgia Ave NW, Washington D.C, 20001, The History of Cannabis Museum is very close to my university. Right across the street from Howard Universities School of Business, the museum will definitely be a great place to visit at some point before my graduation. THCb

The History of Cannabis Museum, also known as THC, takes a visitor through the progression of cannabis use throughout the ages, specifically starting at the year 800 BCE in ancient Taiwan. Through their website, THC provides information about how the Hemp plant evolved from Northern China at the beginning of civilization, and is even believed to be the first cultivated fiber plant. According to their website,

“The earliest archeological record of the use of fiber from Cannabis was in China twelve thousand-years ago. Archaeologists unearthed an old Neolithic site at Yuan-Shan, and among the remains dug up included pottery with hemp cord markings on it along with a rod-shaped stone beater, used to pound hemp. Cannabis (Hemp) was also used to make items such as fishing nets, rope, clothes, and paper. The Chinese are thought to have invented hemp paper. Cannabis seeds were used for food, as was cannabis oil, in China.”

According to this timeline, Cannabis would be one of the first and oldest human agricultural crops. For the uses mentioned, it is clear that before cannabis was utilized to get high, it was used in a much more productive lighting by the Chinese. They were aware that hemp is a plant that can be a key resource for humans thousands of years ago, and today it still remains. Unfortunately, cannabis has gotten a negative stigma, however, there is so much more it can be used for that many are not aware of.

THC’s progresses a long way in order to get to the modern day uses of cannabis that we currently abide by. From Emperor Fu Hsi (2900 BCE), The Golden Age of Sail (1000-1400AD), William Shakespeare (1600), all the way to Hollywood Propaganda Films (1936-1950), the museums website is very informative. With such an educational website, I can only imagine the amount of content that the actual museum must have inside. The museum also hosts informative events that involve the community and attempt to educate visitors. Open until 8PM on Friday and Saturday, the THC museum is a great attraction for the weekend crowd! Stay tuned for my visit this upcoming week!

Link: The History of Cannabis Museum

 

 

CBD Treatment For Your Dog or Cat?

While it is apparent that the use of cannabis can be beneficial for the health of humans, an untapped market in the development of CBD as a product is its efficiency with animals as well. When it comes to cannabis, there is very little research on its impact on dogs and cats. Many pet-owners often treat their animals like family members, and will do all they can to make sure that their pet is as healthy as possible. When a pet gets sick and conventional healing options don’t work, many pet-owners have began to look at alternatives, particularly natural healing. Though there are not many trusted individuals who can provide professional consulting on cannabinoid therapies for pets, it is clear to many in the veterinary field that cannabis can be of great use.

The reason that I even began to research more in depth about this topic is because of a conversation I had with my professor. She told our Social Media and Internet Marketing class that her dog often gets anxious and afraid during bad storms. In order to calm the dog down, she utilizes cannabis to assist her animal with sleep. Funny enough, my roommates and I just got a dog of our own, and as hyper as he is, we will most likely use cannabis as a method to calm him down sometimes as well.

In an interview with Project CBD, Gary Richter, an integrative medicine veterinarian based in Oakland, CA, I was able to understand many of the benefits of cannabis use for pets. According to Project CBD, any animal with a backbone has an endocannabinoid system, meaning pets can process cannabis similar to humans in the right dosage amount. Dr. Richter states that,

“Animals can benefit from medical cannabis for many of the same reasons it helps people – for pain, seizure control, gastrointestinal disorders, anxiety-related issues. We’ve also seen positive results with cancer” – Gary Richter, Holistic Veterinarian, 2017

Though there are similar results in humans and pets alike, Richter notes that the reason for the lack of research is because cannabis is still federally illegal, therefore it cannot be funded. Richter believes that once there is a legal pathway, the research will happen because there is too much money involved. He would like to see more research on the effect of cannabis on gastrointestinal issues, pain, and inflammation for animals. Many veterinary patients have seen “dramatic” effects with cannabis as a use for these specific ailments.

When asked about the difference between the endocannabinoid systems in pets versus humans, Richter states that n the big picture they are very similar.

“One striking difference is there appears to be a greater concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the dog’s brain than there are in most other animals. This is significant because it makes dogs more susceptible to THC overdose, potentially giving them a certain amount of neurologic impairment in the short-term. This phenomenon is known as static ataxia.” – Gary Richter, Holistic Veterinarian, 2017

Otherwise, Ritchter notes that when cannabis medicine is used efficiently, their endocannabinoid system will act in the same way it would for a human. Cannabis toxicity is nonfatal and does not cause long-term effects for animals, however, Richter has heard of a few cases where pets did not survive after digging into their owners stash. When used responsibly, the goal of medical cannabis for animals is never to get them “stoned”,rather alleviate their pain in the short term.

In the interview, Richter and Sarah Russo of Project CBD, the pair spoke about a variety if issues with the legalization of cannabis for animals. Richter was asked about the ratio of THC to CBD that is effective, preferred administration methods, and most importantly, education. When asked about how knowledgeable veterinarians are about cannabis thereaprutics, Richter states,

“This is a big problem—the lack of education. The California Veterinary Medical Board is very much against the use of medical cannabis for pets. They don’t want veterinarians speaking with pet owners about it at all, except to say that it is bad and not to use it.” – Gary Richter, Holistic Veterinarian, 2017

This is surprising due to the fact that California has already legalized medical marijuana, and is very proactive in monetizing cannabis as well. While the research is lacking still in the use for animals, it is clear that in the right dosage, animals can enjoy cannabis as well. Once legalized at the federal level, it should be no surprise that research into medical cannabis use for animals will be researched at much greater lengths.

Article : Claws and Effect: Cannabis Medicine For Pets

Legal Marijuana As An Alternative To Opioids

Continuing with the focus of the impact that legal marijuana has on Colorado, The Hemp Chronicles will now switch the focus to it’s impact on the health front. In our last post we discussed the financial and economic implications that legal cannabis has had on Colorado, but not the public health.

From a study from the Washington Post, it is apparent that marijuana legalization in Colorado helped facilitate a reverse of opiate related deaths. In the research published by the American Journal of Public Health, Colorado’s legalization of marijuana has helped to save lives even. The authors are quick to emphasize that the results are preliminary since the study took place in 2017, just three years after the state’s first recreational marijuana shops opened in 2014. From the study, the authors reported that,

“After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years”M. Livingston, T. Barnett, C. Delcher, and A. Wagenaar, American Journal of Public Health

Many prior reports have shown an association between medical marijuana legalization and opioid related deaths, the report from the American Journal of Public Health is the first to look at the impact of recreational marijuana laws on opioid deaths. Christopher Ingraham from the Washington Post notes that marijuana is often highly effective at treating similar chronic pain that opiates are often prescribed for. Ingraham notes that from the standpoint of public health, this current trend is positive, as marijuana carries almost no risk of fatal overdose opposed to opioid use. He notes that,

“Overall, after controlling for both medical marijuana and the prescription-drug-monitoring change, the study found that after Colorado implemented its recreational marijuana law, opioid deaths fell by 6.5 percent in the following two years.” – Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, 2017

Graph version 2The authors are careful to note that policymakers would want to continue to monitor these numbers in coming years to see if the trend continues. And while they are positive that cannabis use can be a sustainable alternative to opioids and other prescribed drugs, they are quick to emphasize that legal marijuana can increase fatalities in other areas. Other areas can include fatalities related to driving under the influence of marijuana, yet the figures have not proved there to be any significant relation. Regardless the study supports the concept that,

“… increasing marijuana availability could help reduce the toll of America’s opiate epidemic, which claims tens of thousands of lives each year.” – Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, 2017

Article: Legal Marijuana Is Saving Lives In Colorado, Study Finds

What’s The Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

Although both of my former blog posts were centered around the use of marijuana, please do not be confused. Hemp and marijuana are in the same family, but both plants are valuable for different reasons. Both Hemp and marijuana are apart of the cannabis family, but are cultivated and applied completely different to everyday life.

Hemp is used in a variety of applications that marijuana could not physically be used for at all. In their physical makeup, hemp and marijuana are completely different. As you can see in the picture below, hemp plants are aligned on the left side and marijuana, its much more popular cousin, is aligned on the right side. Hemp stalks can grow up to four meters tall organically, and do not need pesticides to grow. Hemp leaves are much thinner and less densely placed than leaves of a marijuana plant.

Chemically, hemp and marijuana differ in their capacity for THC. Hemp is categorized by a low THC level, less than 0.3%, while marijuana is categorized by high THC levels, ranging anywhere from between 5% to 35%. Hemp compensates for its lack of THC with a higher amount of CBD, the non-intoxicating compound with more medical applications.  Due to its lack of high THC level, hemp is not a psychoactive plant, opposed to marijuana. In terms of cultivation, hemp requires minimal care and can adapt to grow in the majority of climates. On the other hand, marijuana must be grown in carefully controlled atmospheres. Naturally, there are only a few specific climates that have the capacity to produce marijuana. This explains why in the photo the hemp plants are photographed in a natural environment, while marijuana cultivation is taking place in a warehouse. hemp-vs-marijuana-featured-photo-v3

The reason why hemp is so interesting is because it has the potential to be help provide sustainable energy. It has already been used in tests to power automobiles, providing an alternative fuel to harsh fossil fuel emissions. Hemp has also been used in body care, clothing, construction, food production, plastic, and much more. The plant has been grown for centuries and production of it has soared over the past year.

According to Jeremy Berke of the Business Insider, the impact of the legalization of cannabis across various states has lead to great industrial excitement. From 2016 to 2017, the number of acres licensed for hemp cultivation increased 140 and the number of producers DOUBLED over the same time. Following projections, the hemp market in the United States alone is prime to hit $1.65 billion in 2021. In March of this year, Senator Mitch McConnell introduced a bill to legalize industrial hemp. I am positive, that in a few years, all cannabis use will be legal due to its economic implications. In America, if it makes money, it makes complete sense. If i had a recommendation, I would suggest you to get in the industry now before it gets dominated by large corporations.

23 Proven Health Benefits Of Marijuana

Along with Washington D.C, 29 states around the country have legalized medical marijuana. According to an article by the Business Insider, the American public is in large support of medical marijuana use. The author of the article states that:

“At least 84% of the public believes the drug should be legal for medical uses, and recreational pot usage is less controversial than ever, with at least 61% of Americans in support.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018

Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse lists that there are viable medical uses for cannabis, though some of its advocates often overstate its power. Though there are about 400 or more chemical compounds in marijuana, scientists mainly focus on the two active ones that are believed to have medical implications. According to Loria, the two are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The two min components act in different ways though; CBD seems to impact the brain without a high, while its counterpart, THC, has pain relieving properties but is largely responsible for the high. From Loria’s research, I will provide the 23 health benefits:

  1. The best-supported medicinal use of marijuana is as a treatment for chronic pain.
  2. There is strong evidence that medical cannabis can help with muscle spasms.
  3. The actual smoking of marijuana has not been proven to harm lung capacity (unless used in combination with tobacco) and may in fact improve it.

    “Researchers looking for risk factors of heart disease tested the lung function of 5,115 young adults over the course of 20 years. Tobacco smokers lost lung function over time, but pot users actually showed an increase in lung capacity. It’s possible that the increased lung capacity may be due to taking a deep breath while inhaling the drug and not from a therapeutic chemical in the drug.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018

  4. It may be of use in treating glaucoma, or it can be possible to derive a drug from marijuana for this specific use. 51f92144ecad04532d00000e-750-563
  5. It can help control epileptic seizures.
  6. It decreases the symptoms of severe seizure disorder known as Dravet’s Syndrome. The article provided an interesting anecdote about this specific use as well:

    “During the research for his documentary “Weed,” Sanjay Gupta interviewed the Figi family, who treated their 5-year-old daughter using a medical marijuana strain high in cannabidiol and low in THC. The Figi family’s daughter, Charlotte, has Dravet Syndrome, which causes seizures and severe developmental delays. According to the film, the drug decreased her seizures from 300 a week to just one every seven days. Forty other children in the state were using the same strain of marijuana to treat their seizures when the film was made — and it seemed to be working.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018

  7. A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer from spreading, at least in cell cultures.
  8. It can decrease anxiety in low doses.
  9. THC can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This is of particular relevance to me, due to the fact that I lost my grandfather to Alzheimer’s earlier this year. There is no cure to Alzheimer’s, but if I would have known about some of marijuana’s healing ability for it, it definitely would have been explored as an option.

    The 2006 study, published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques kill brain cells and are associated with Alzheimer’s. A synthetic mixture of CBD and THC seems to preserve memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study suggested that a THC-bases prescription drug called dronabinol was able to reduce behavioral disturbances in dementia patients.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018

  10. Marijuana eases the pain of multiple sclerosis.
  11. It seems to lessen the side effects from treating Hepatitis C and increase treatment effectiveness.

    “… A 2006 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that 86% of patients using marijuana successfully completed their Hep C therapy. Only 29% of non-smokers completed their treatment, possibly because the marijuana helps lessen the treatment’s side effects.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018

  12. It has been proven to help with inflammatory bowel diseases.
  13. It relieves arthritis discomfort for many.
  14. Marijuana users tend to be less obese and have a better response to eating sugar.
  15. Though it isn’t a medical or health benefit, marijuana could spur creativity.

    “Contrary to stoner stereotypes, marijuana usage has actually been shown to have some positive mental effects, particularly in terms of increasing creativity, at least in some contexts. Even though people’s short-term memories tend to function worse when they’re high, they actually get better at tests requiring them to come up with new ideas.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018

  16. Cannabis soothes tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease.
  17. Marijuana can help veterans suffering from PTSD.
  18. Studies on animals suggest that marijuana can protect the brain after a stroke.
  19. Particularly related to sports, marijuana can protect the brain from concussions and trauma.533c206f69bedd2a3a0a1aab-750-493
  20. Though this one can’t necessarily be proven, marijuana use can help eliminate nightmares.
  21. Cannabis reduces some of the pain and nausea from chemotherapy and stimulates appetite.
  22. Marijuana can help people who are suffering from alcoholism, which has proven to damage the liver and cause aggressive behaviors.

    “Research published in the Harm Reduction Journal found that some people use marijuana as a less harmful substitute for alcohol, prescription drugs, and other illegal drugs. Some of the most common reasons patients make that substitution are that marijuana has less negative side effects and is less likely to cause withdrawal problems.” – Kevin Loria, Business Insider, 2018

  23. Medical marijuana legalization seems to reduce opioid overdose deaths.

Article: 23 Health Benefits of Marijuana