Easy Cannabis Candies

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Making your own medibles isn’t as difficult as it sounds. All you need to do this are the right supplies, a little patience, and the willingness to experiment. You’ll need the following supplies:

• Double boiler or glass bowl large enough to sit on the rim of a pot that allows at least 2” space at the bottom for water with at least 1 ½” of space between the top of the water and the bottom of the bowl.
• Molds. You can use plastic, polycarbonate, or silicone. Plastic molds can crack pretty easily – I’ve done it. Polycarbonate molds are heavier and more costly. I usually stick with silicone molds like this one (candy mold). If you use these molds, one batch of candy will fill both molds.
• You can either put the hot product in a silicone squeeze bottle like this one (candy melt bottle), use a sturdy icing decorating bag, or use a spoon (infinitely more sloppy but perfectly do-able) to transfer the product to the molds. The bottle will hold a batch of candies in liquid form.
• A silicone spatula will be greatly helpful in assisting you to empty the bottle completely, which will help you keep from wasting what’s left in the bottle after you squeeze out as much as you can. I just got small ones from Target but you can pick them up anywhere.
• It’s helpful to have a cookie sheet, cooling rack or other surface to put your molds on for when you move them to the fridge or freezer. This will keep the chocolate from pouring all over the counter, the floor, or you.
• For this recipe the best thing to do is use a distillate or oil. Tinctures have alcohol of one kind or another in them, and they can cause the chocolate to freeze up in the pot. Trust me. I know this. My go-to is TruClear from Trulieve. It’s highly concentrated so you don’t need much. Other dispensaries probably offer similar product – I’ve just never tried another one because I’m perfectly happy with TruClear. We all have our preferences. Find what works for you.

To figure out how much product to add, you need a couple simple things. First, you need to know how many candies your chocolate will make. If you use the molds listed above, one 12-oz bag of chocolate will make 48 candies. If you’re going to be using a different type or size of mold, the best thing to do is a dry run. Follow the directions below with one exception – don’t add your distillate or oil. Pour the product into the molds and see how many candies you get. Once they harden, you can put them back in the pot and start over, adding the distillate or oil at the appropriate time. Unless you know how many candies you’ll have, you can’t know how much product you’ll need.
Because I’m using TruClear, my computations will be based on that. You can do the same with whatever product you choose to use. Each 0.1ml of Truclear (each thick line on the syringe denotes 0.2ml) contains 85mg of THC. 0.2ml = 170mg, which I usually round down to 160mg to allow for waste. I like my nighttime medibles to contain 10-15mg each. If I’m making 48 candies at 10mg each, I need 480mg of TruClear or 0.6ml (3 thick lines). Again, these computations allow for waste, which is what sticks to the pot, the spoon, the inside of the squeeze bottle, or what spills or overflows on the molds and the counter.
TruClear is really thick so you’re going to need to heat it up before you use it. I generally do one of two things: 1) I put it in a Ziploc bag and then in a shot glass or measuring cup, standing the syringe upright, and run warm/barely hot water into the glass for several minutes, or 2) I put it in my bra or the waistband of my skirt. Some folks use a blow dryer on low, but you have to be really careful if you do that so you don’t overheat the product.

Ingredients

• 12-oz bag of compound chocolate (candy melts, chocolate/white chocolate chips, almond bark, that kind of thing) If you use almond bark or the baking chocolate bars, chop it into small pieces.
• Extract of choice. Do not use peppermint, lemon, orange, or other types of oil. They will cause your chocolate to freeze up.
• Coloring, if desired.
• Product (distillate or oil)

Directions

• Put water up to the line in the lower portion of the double boiler or at least 2” of water into the pot you’re using. Using medium heat, bring to a boil and turn down to a low boil or simmer.
• Add the top pot or glass bowl. Pour in the chocolate chips or pieces. Stir occasionally until fully melted.
• Leaving the pot on the heat, add your flavoring and distillate. Stir thoroughly. You shouldn’t see any traces of oil on the top of the chocolate. If you do, it’s not mixed well enough.
• Remove the entire pot from the stove and move to a trivet or hot pad. It’s important to leave the chocolate on the hot water so it doesn’t solidify.
• Using a spoon or silicone spatula, transfer the chocolate to the squeeze bottle. Tap the bottle to allow room for all the chocolate. Clean the threads on the bottle before you screw the top on. Don’t over-tighten it or you’re never gonna get it off unless you use a pipe wrench. This is experience speaking.
• Fill the molds, then tap them against the counter gently to get rid of air bubbles and make sure they’re full. This takes practice. I keep a clean silicone spatula for scraping the extras off the mold and back into the cavities.
• Once they’re full, you can either cool them at room temp or put them in the refrigerator or freezer. I prefer the fridge because since I live near the coast I have ant issues. If you’re putting them in the refrigerator they should be set and ready to unmold in about 2 hours. You can try taking them out earlier, but I’m not going to make any guarantees they’ll be solid. Just invert the mold and push against the bottom of each cavity to release the candies.
• Store at room temperature for 3-5 days or in the fridge for up to a month.

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Making Infused Butter With MMJ Distillate

(I use a product called TruClear that I purchase from a Florida dispensary. You can use any distillate with this method; the only things you need to know are how much butter you need, and how much of the distillate you’re going to want to use to get the dose you desire.)

You can use this process with butter, oil, or lard. If you’re feeling creative, you could also use it with peanut butter or another off-the-wall fat. The only limitations are your imagination.

Exactly what proportions of butter and TruClear you use depends on your goal: making butter for toast and such, making cookies/cupcakes/other goodies, or some other reason.

I’ll use a random example:

I’m making marshmallow treats. The amount of butter called for (I use the old recipe, not the new one which calls for a different amount) is 6 tablespoons. I want 10mg in each marshmallow treat, and I’m planning on cutting the treats into 24 pieces. This means I need 240mg of Truclear, or .3cc (making allowances for waste).

First off, you need a double boiler or a pot with a heat-resistant bowl that will sit against the rim far enough down in the pot to get the heat from the water below it, but allowing at least 1 ½” of space between the top of the water and the bottom of the bowl. You need a pot that can do this while allowing at least 2” for water in the bottom of the pot. I got my double boiler at a thrift store for less than $3. You can get them new on Amazon or Ebay for about $13.

You’re gonna need to warm up the TruClear in order to get it out of the syringe. There are a few ways to do this.

  • Use a blow dryer set on low (I’ve never personally done this and I won’t try it. I can’t afford to waste the product if it accidentally overheats and blows up)
  • Using a condiment cup or shot glass, warm the syringe by standing it upright in the container and running warm/slightly hot water into the cup for several minutes
  • Put it in the waistband of your pants for 5-10 minutes or, if you’re a lady, you can put it in your bra. Your body heat will work as well as water or a blow dryer and there’s no risk of water getting in the syringe or the blow dryer overheating it.

Start warming the TruClear before beginning to work with the butter.

Fill the double boiler to the inside line with water, or, if using the pot and bowl method, fill the pot with 2” of water. Turn the stove on medium and bring the water to a low boil. Put the top of the double boiler or the glass bowl on top of the pot and put the butter in the pot or bowl. Melt the butter, making sure the water in the bottom pot doesn’t boil out.

When the butter is melted, it’s time to add the TruClear. Slowly squirt the desired amount into the butter. It will sit on top right at first, but as it gets warm, it will begin to diffuse into the butter. Stir gently as needed. Once the TruClear is pretty evenly integrated into the butter, lower the heat on the stove to medium low and cover the top of the double boiler or the bowl with a lid or plate. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally if desired (this isn’t necessary but some of us just can’t leave things alone).

Remove from heat. Now you can either cool it a bit and use it in a recipe, continue with your marshmallow treats by putting the butter in a pot and melting the marshmallows, or you can stick it in the fridge to use on toast or cook with later.

Cannabis and Drug Interactions

Medical cannabis is a wonderful thing. It helps people deal with depression and PTSD; aids in management of nausea, anorexia, and other appetite issues; is beneficial for patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and MS; it’s effective for chronic and acute pain management as well.

While many people find they are able to stop taking at least some of their medications once they start using MMJ, there are certain drugs that may need to be continued or slowly tapered down. This may present a risk of interaction between these medications and cannabis. While the list of known side effects is short, they can be significant and need to be understood by both the physician and the patient. Extra monitoring may need to take place to assure the best possible outcome and to minimize adverse reactions.

Every substance on the planet interacts with other substances. The amount and severity of reactions, negative or positive, often depend on the person as well as on the substance itself. Factors affecting interactions include diet, activity level, other medications, general health of the patient, stressors, and environmental considerations. Each thing you put in or on your body has the potential to react to everything else you use or ingest. Some of these interactions are well known and can generally be applied to the population as a whole, while others are specific to a disease process, medication, or particular segments of the population. For example, grapefruit juice can affect the metabolism of medication by influencing the enzymes that break it down. This can lead to an increased concentration of the substance in the bloodstream, which can cause harmful or even toxic effects.

Most drugs have a minimal interaction with cannabis. However, there are exceptions. Being aware of these possibilities can make a big difference in how you utilize cannabis as well as what to watch out for in your own personal situation. Listed below are some substances that have the potential to cause unwanted effects. Because of the Schedule I status of marijuana, research in this area is still in its infancy. Early results only show a few medications affected by routine cannabis use; this list may grow as time passes and we learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of using cannabis with other substances.

Alcohol

People who use alcohol can experience one of two possible types of interactions with cannabis:
• Alcohol has the potential to increase the level of THC in your blood, leading to an increased buzz or sensation of being high. It’s interesting to note that the reverse hasn’t been found to be true; THC doesn’t increase blood alcohol levels, according to current research.
• A relatively recent study found that people who concurrently drink alcohol and consume cannabis may find they don’t drink as much as if they’re not using marijuana. While the study was limited, the findings indicate that if you’re doing both, you may use more cannabis while drinking less. In fact, ¾ of the people in this study consumed significantly less alcohol when they were also using cannabis than if they were just drinking.

It is very important to note that one of the positive side effects of cannabis, a decrease in nausea and vomiting, can be detrimental if you are drinking and using marijuana. If you drink too much, you may experience nausea and/or vomiting as your body tries to expel some of the toxins in the alcohol in an attempt to lower your blood alcohol level. Ingesting enough cannabis to inhibit this reaction can cause alcohol toxicity.

Finally, as dangerous as it is to drink and drive, it is even more dangerous to drive after mixing cannabis and alcohol. Caution should be used should you choose to participate in this kind of activity in order to keep yourself and everyone else safe.

Non-prescription Opioids

I’ve met several people who have used cannabis to successfully wean themselves off non-prescription or illegal opioids. There have been studies done on rats and monkeys that show when these animals are given a regular dose of THC, their self-administration of heroin decreases in over 75% of subjects. This is important considering the current opioid crisis in the USA. Giving addicts hope that they can decrease and possibly even stop using illicit and potentially very dangerous substances is a crucial part of helping them overcome their addictions.

Medications That Affect Calcium Levels

THC and CBD can cause elevated cellular calcium levels. Patients taking medications such as parathyroid hormone, calcium, or vitamin D need to let their doctors know they are using cannabis in order to prevent hypercalcemia, which can cause nausea, vomiting, increased urination, and weakness; it can also lead to the formation of kidney stones.

Drugs Influencing Blood Sugar Levels

Cannabis can help decrease blood sugar levels, improve blood sugar control, and aid in metabolism. There have been studies showing that cannabis users had lower rates of diabetes and obesity than non-users. While more research needs to be done, it is possible that marijuana can be used to help diabetic patients keep their sugars under control.

Blood Pressure Medications

THC stimulates both CB1 & CB2 receptors, which are also affected by medications used to help control blood pressure. Cannabis users may be at risk of increased negative side effects of these medications, including but not limited to decreased coronary arterial blood flow and increased cardiac oxygen use. It’s important to let your physician know if you are using cannabis while on these meds so they can monitor you more closely for potential complications. Beta blockers such as Tenormin and Toprol are included in this category.

Drugs That May Increase the Risk of Bleeding

Cannabis can slow the metabolism and excretion of drugs specifically used to prevent the formation of blood clots, like warfarin or heparin. Also included in this category are medications that can cause bleeding as part of their side effects – these include naproxen and ibuprofen as well as other NSAIDS.

Prescription Opioids

In a small study, it was discovered that chronic pain patients who also used cannabis experienced up to 27% less pain than if they just took the drugs prescribed for their pain. As an adjunct to opioid therapy, marijuana can provide increased efficacy of the prescription drug, thereby possibly enabling the patient to decrease opioid dependency and lessen the side effects of these medications.

In addition, cannabis can be used as a first-line pain medication alternative to opioid therapy. It has less potential for toxic effects and the possibility for dependence, making it a viable alternative for many patients. In light of the current opioid crisis, using marijuana for pain relief can prove extremely beneficial as well as decreasing the risk of chronic pain patients resorting to illegal and possibly very dangerous street drugs when they can’t get prescription pain medication.

Sedatives

• Suboxone or Buprenex is used for pain control as well as treating addiction. It is a central nervous system depressant and can cause respiratory distress, coma, or even death when abused. This medication, if combined with cannabis, can lead to slowed or slurred speech, excessive sedation, difficulty controlling motor function, and a slow/irregular heartbeat.
• Other substances such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and codeine can interact with certain terpenes in cannabis, producing the same kind of effects. It is best to avoid combining these drugs if at all possible; exercise extreme caution if using these medications with cannabis to avoid a negative outcome.

Macrolide Antibiotics

Erythromycin and azithromycin are examples of macrolide antibiotics. They work by inhibiting a cytochrome known as P450. This is the same cytochrome that processes CBD, which presents a problem if you’re using the two substances together because if the body is busy processing the CBD, it can’t effectively metabolize these antibiotics. The end result could potentially be an increase in both the level of antibiotics and THC in the blood, which could interfere with the effectiveness of the antibiotic as well as the potential for increased nausea and other gastric symptoms related to antibiotic therapy.

Retrovirals for HIV

Because these drugs are processed by the P450 cytochrome, using cannabis while taking them can increase the levels of both substances in the blood as they compete to be metabolized and excreted from the body. The effects of CBD as well as the side effects of the drugs can be intensified; it is recommended that a patient new to CBD start with a very low dose and build up slowly if they are on retroviral drugs in order to generally increase tolerance and lessen the chance for negative side effects.

Anticonvulsant Drugs

Clobazam is an anti-seizure drug that may interact with CBD, resulting in increased levels of the medication in the bloodstream. This can cause fatigue, tiredness, and increased sedation.

Antipsychotics

When combined with cannabis, Risperidone may react negatively. This can lead to increased levels of the drug in the bloodstream, causing anxiety attacks. Antipsychotics are also used as tranquilizers for patients with hallucinations, delusions and psychotic episodes; because they compete for that same P450 cytochrome for metabolism, the CBD in cannabis and the drugs can essentially cancel each other out, leading to a loss of efficacy for the medication. Patients may need to be more closely monitored by their physician if they are using these drugs together.

Antidepressants

While negative interactions between cannabis and antidepressants are rare, patients taking SSRI drugs such as Prozac should be made aware that there is an increased risk of hypomania when taking the two substances concurrently. That being said, many patients who use medicinal marijuana are able to wean themselves off antidepressant therapy by using CBD.

Narcolepsy Medication

Xyrem is a drug used to treat excessive sleepiness in the daytime. Combining this drug with cannabis can result in drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, impairment in thinking and motor coordination, confusion, depression, slowed breathing, low blood pressure, and even coma or death. Close monitoring is essential if you are taking this drug and cannabis at the same time.

Steroids

Taking cannabis with steroids such as estrogen, testosterone, and hydrocortisone can increase their levels in the bloodstream since they also depend on the P450 cytochrome for metabolism.

Conclusion

It’s important to note a few things at this point.

• Research into cannabis/drug interactions is just beginning. While it is possible that there may be more severe reactions to certain kinds of medication, early indicators suggest cannabis has far fewer interactions than most other substances. Because cannabis is not a single compound but one that varies by strain, region, and growing conditions, it is almost impossible to say that combining it with a specific drug will have a specific effect. However, it appears to be far better tolerated than many drugs; it also has far fewer negative side effects and interactions.
• One of the most compelling arguments for medical cannabis use is that it can treat many conditions at once, lessening or eliminating the need for multiple prescriptions – some of which may react negatively with each other.
• Most potential interactions or negative effects arising from the combination of cannabis and prescription medications are mild, especially compared with other substances. In addition, marijuana seems to enhance the therapeutic effects of several classes of drugs. It can also be used to help treat addiction to stronger, more dangerous opioids.

Using cannabis responsibly can improve your life, help your medications work better, and even enable you to eliminate some of the prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet.

When compared to caffeine, which has 82 identified drug interactions (25 of which are moderately severe or severe in nature), cannabis seems almost benign. Just like any other medication, though, it is important for us to be aware of potential side effects, monitor for those problems, and notify our physicians if we are taking any drugs that have the possibility to interact negatively with THC/CBD.

Seniors and Cannabis

In the United States, senior citizens compose the fastest growing demographic of medical cannabis users. In one year the number of cannabis users age 55 and over grew 53%. Why is this happening? The answer has many components.

Senior citizens often find themselves taking a number of medications to combat the effects of getting older. Unfortunately, a lot of the medications that are prescribed for these conditions have side effects of their own; alleviating these negative effects often means taking even more drugs. A lot of seniors have gotten to the point where they just don’t want to be taking 20 pills a day, and they have found that cannabis can take the place of most if not all of these medications while also avoiding the negative side effects caused by many pharmaceuticals.

20 years ago, most seniors would not even consider pot as an alternative treatment for their health issues. However, with the recent legalization of medical cannabis in 30 states, and the increase in research in other countries that indicates its efficacy related to medical use, more and more older Americans are embracing cannabis as a way to maintain their quality of life as they age.

Medical Marijuana Helps the Following Conditions:

Cancer. Marijuana helps slow or even stop the growth of cancer, in effect causing the tumor cells to commit suicide.

Anorexia. Loss of appetite, and the consequences of not eating enough, contributes to almost 80% of senior deaths. Marinol, a synthetic form of cannabis, has been used as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients since it received FDA approval in 1985. The endocannabinoid CB1 plays an important part in appetite stimulation and pain control. Regulating these two factors is important in maintaining a healthy eating pattern.
Chronic pain. The endocannabinoid system plays an important part in regulating pain. When your body is injured, endocannabinoids stimulate your immune system to begin the healing process. Cannabis helps regulate this system through a natural process, because cannabinoids are naturally occurring in the cannabis plant. They bind to the receptors found in our body and encourage healing, thereby decreasing pain. In a recent study, over 93% of patients reported a decrease in pain from 8/10 to 4/10 when using the 0-10 pain scale. (ejinme.com) In fact, over 18% of patients either decreased or eliminated their opioid intake because of using cannabis during this timeframe.

Anxiety and Sleep Disorders. THC and CBD work in tandem to decrease anxiety and help people sleep better. It is important to note, however, that this is a dose-related benefit. Too much cannabis can actually increase anxiety. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the effects of using too much cannabis. These include CBD oil, deep breathing, chewing on peppercorns, eating mango or other citrus-heavy food, drinking passionflower tea, listening to music or watching a TV show, taking a shower, or engaging in mild exercise.

Parkinson’s Disease. Cannabis use has been found to be helpful in reducing muscle stiffness, tremors, falls, pain, and depression related to the initial stages of Parkinson’s disease. (NCBI)

Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is caused by a buildup of plaque in the brain. The combination of THC and CBD has been found to slow down the production of beta-amyloid cells, the major contributors to this condition. It also decreases inflammation, which helps slow the progress of the disease. While it is not a cure, it can certainly make life better and slow the progression of the disease. (MMJHerb)

Multiple Sclerosis. Studies have shown that cannabis can help with the pain, spasticity, bladder problems, and stiffness associated with multiple sclerosis. The CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors seem to play an important role in this relief. Currently, studies are being conducted to see if cannabis indeed slows the neurodegenerative process that characterizes multiple sclerosis. It is evident that the side effects of marijuana are much less acute or dangerous than those of the multiple drugs currently used to treat MS. (SafeAccessNow)

Depression. According to a recent study, between 10% and 30% of people who take pharmaceuticals for depression experience little to no relief from that medication. Conversely, utilizing cannabis high in CBD has been noticed to elevate the moods of depressed people. Micro-dosing seems to be most effective for depression, since it helps maintain a more consistent level in the bloodstream. It is important to note, though, that high-THC strains of cannabis can actually exacerbate the symptoms of depression because of the potential for psychoactive effects. (Journal of Affective Disorders)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of conditions helped by MMJ, but it should provide a basic idea of the many ways seniors can benefit from using cannabis.

Routes and Dosing Guidelines for Seniors

I can’t say this enough: Start Low. Go Slow.

As we age, our bodies process things differently. If you are 55 or 60, smoking a joint or enjoying an edible isn’t going to affect you the same way that it would someone who is 20 years old. These Earth-suits we are born into begin to function less efficiently with time, and we need to take that into account when using cannabis just like everything else we do.

For someone new to MMJ, a good starting dose is 1-2 mg regardless of route. It is far better to start with a small amount and build up than to overdo it, have a bad experience, and be soured on even the prospect of using medical marijuana in the future. Micro-dosing is recommended for seniors, as is adjusting these doses by tiny variables. You may really be surprised at what even a small amount of cannabis will do for you. Remember, the goal is not to get high; it’s to get relief. Using the smallest amount possible to get the best relief possible is what we’re aiming for.

There are several different routes available in Florida. These include vape oil, distillates, tinctures, suppositories, capsules, vaporizers, nebulizers, nasal sprays, patches, and topical applications. Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks, and you may have to experiment a bit to find what works best for you.

Vape Oil Cartridges are used with a battery, and function much like an e-cigarette. The effect is rapid, but it is also short-lasting. Since many vape oil cartridges are made with carrier oils, people with allergies may want to be careful to make sure they can tolerate the additives in these cartridges before purchasing them in quantity.

Distillates are a concentrated form of cannabis without any carrier oils or additives. They can be used in dab pens or rigs, mixed with coconut oil or another substance and made into capsules, used to make edibles, or added to ready-made food and ingested that way. Some people squeeze some onto a toothpick and rub it onto their inner cheek. They are very strong and should be used with caution by beginners. Effects depend on usage.

Tinctures are created by combining cannabis with a form of alcohol, and, generally, some kind of flavoring. They can be taken orally or put into capsules. They usually come with a dropper, and each drop contains a certain dose of the product. These are also good for micro-dosing. They don’t take effect as quickly as vape oil, but they do last a bit longer.

Suppositories are great for nausea as well as lower body pain or spasms. If you cannot take your MMJ orally, these may be the option for you. They aid in muscle relaxation and pain relief.

Capsules are edibles in simplified form. You can purchase them from dispensaries or make your own, like many other options on this list. They are most often made from cannabis extract and a carrier like coconut oil.

Vaporizers heat dry cannabis so it can be inhaled. This method releases the beneficial attributes of plant matter without igniting it, thereby avoiding the release of smoke, cancer-causing agents, tar, and other harmful components. There are several different styles of vaporizers ranging from vape pens to desktop models. Costs vary widely and most people can find a delivery system they can afford. Vape pens can run from under $25 to over $200; desktop models can cost upwards of $700.

Nebulizers act by sending compressed air though the cannabis flower, converting it to an aerosol. There is no smoke, heat, or vapor produced, so no odor lingers when you use them. No carcinogens or heat are produced, which makes this option better for patients who have respiratory issues. Similar machines are used to dispense medication to COPD and asthma patients.

Nasal Sprays are designed to help stop a seizure (particularly a grand mal seizure) or a migraine in its tracks. It delivers THC and/or CBD directly to the bloodstream via the nasal membranes, which, according to the literature, makes it more quickly available to the brain and increases bioavailability. Absorption, like with every other method, depends on your general health, your metabolism, and the condition of your nasal passages. They can be very helpful for seizure patients and those suffering migraines.

Transdermal Patches act by delivering a controlled constant dose of cannabis to the body through the skin. Since it doesn’t have to be digested or transported through the lungs or mucous membranes, plant bioavailability is increased. These are good for chronic pain, seizures, and nerve pain.

Topical Applications include lotions, oils, and balms. They can be used for everything from minor abrasions to skin cancers. The product is absorbed through the skin and can be applied just about anywhere. Migraine sufferers may find relief from balm applied to the temples or base of the neck; sore muscles benefit from lotions or oils; even strains and sprains can be helped with the use of a topical compound. Some compounds also include essential oils such as peppermint, cayenne, clove, or lavender to assist in relaxation or provide additional anti-inflammatory effects. Topical applications have no psycho-affective properties so you’re not going to get high from them. The cannabinoids bind to CB2 receptors in the body, releasing the THC and CBD to do their jobs.

Many of these delivery options can be produced at home if you have the time, determination, and proper equipment. Edibles can be made with distillates or oils, though the quantity of distillate required is much lower due to its concentration so it may be preferred by those who don’t want a strong cannabis taste to their products. Balms may only need 3-4 ingredients in addition to the cannabis. Capsules can be expensive, but patients have used distillate and coconut or another kind of oil to make their own.

Living in the Internet age offers definite advantages for cannabis users. Resources such as YouTube, cannabis websites, and Facebook groups allow patients to network with others and benefit from their experience. A trip to Pinterest or a simple Google search will result in multiple recipes for cannabis balm, oil, edibles, and even transdermal patches and nasal spray. No longer left to figure things out on our own through trial and error, patients can begin with a basic recipe and tweak it to fit their own needs. The cannabis community is great about helping others find what works best for them. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask if you have questions about what route might be best for you, how different delivery systems may benefit or be a drawback to your specific condition, and potential side effects you should watch for.

The advantages of using cannabis as a senior citizen are multiphasic. Once we get past the stigma attached to this plant, we discover that it can make our lives easier and better while we age. We have reached the point in our lives where it’s time to kick back and relax a little bit, and medical marijuana can help us do that.

Micro-dosing: An Introduction

Whether you are new to cannabis as a medical patient or you’ve been using it for a long time, the amount you use and how it affects you is an important part of your decision-making. Micro-dosing is one aspect of cannabis usage everyone can benefit from if it’s utilized correctly.

Why Micro-dose?

In order to help you understand the concept of micro-dosing, I’d like to take a minute and introduce you to something one of my pain doctors used to call the psychology of short acting pain medication. When you take short acting opiates, such as Vicodin or MSIR, there is a process that goes on in your body. It takes this type of medication 60-90 minutes to kick in. Relief is optimized for two to 2 1/2 hours, and then the benefits start to taper off. This results in something rather like a roller coaster ride. You feel better, then you start feeling worse. It goes up and down because there is not a consistent dosage of the medication in your system. What you end up doing is watching the clock. I know when they first started me on Vicodin back in 2005, I lived by that clock. I knew exactly when my doses were due, and I grouped my activities around those doses. It consumed my life. On the days when the pain was bad, that six-hour gap was almost unbearable. I had entire days where I could barely get off the couch. I stayed curled up in a fetal position, and told God more than once that if I had to keep living like this, it wasn’t worth the bother.

After several months of being on Vicodin, my pain doc decided to let me try methadone. Because I have a history of abdominal surgery, I cannot take long acting pain medication. However, methadone has up to a 72-hour half-life, so it works effectively like a timed-release dose. It took several months for me to build up to the point where I didn’t have to take Vicodin for breakthrough pain, but once I was on the optimum dose of methadone, the amount of medication in my bloodstream was maintained at a consistent level, and I was more able to function on a daily basis. I didn’t have the sporadic relief that Vicodin had provided. I could be an hour or two late with the dose, and I wasn’t in such pain that I couldn’t tolerate life.

We can apply the same concepts to cannabis dosing. If you dose by using a vape pen, the relief you obtain is going to be almost immediate. However, it doesn’t last very long. Within two hours, you’re going to need to hit that pen again. While it is good for short term management of pain or symptoms, it does not give the consistency of relief that a lot of people need. In order to obtain a steady level in your blood stream, there are several options available. You can use capsules, suppositories, or edibles. Ingesting your cannabis orally, in or on food, will give you a more long-lasting effect. Maintaining a constant level in your blood stream can help you with symptoms that short-term relief may not touch. It can lessen or even eliminate symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, PTSD flashbacks, and seizure disorder. Where you might need a higher level of cannabis to obtain relief if you vape or smoke it, smaller doses taken routinely can have a greater effect than smoking. In fact, you may discover you need far less cannabis if you include micro-dosing in your daily routine.

Staying ahead of your pain is an important concept. If you’ve ever suffered from acute pain, you may have learned that waiting until you’re hurting badly causes your pain medication to not be as effective. Part of this is because physiologically your body responds differently when you’re in more pain. It takes longer to attack that pain because of the muscle tension, stress, and extra neurons firing; those are all actually advanced signs that you have waited too long to medicate. Taking a pain pill when you first start feeling pain will help that pill work better. It’s the same with cannabis. If you put it off until you are really in need of the medication, it will not be as effective as if you utilize a proactive method like micro-dosing.

One of the reasons for the advent of the PCA machine for postop patients was the discovery that if a patient can control the level of medication in their bloodstream, they often recover more quickly. Because of the nature of hospital care, nurses cannot always get to a patient right away with pain medication. Sometimes, it may be half an hour between the initial request for pain medication and the patient actually getting it. Having access to the PCA, with the ability to push the button and deliver a prescribed dosage, enables the patient to help take control of their own healing process. They actually found that these patients do not require as much medication as those who were taking pills, they are moving around easier and faster, and their recovery time is shortened. One of the reasons is that the patient with the PCA machine routinely maintains a more consistent drug level in their bloodstream. It’s the same with cannabis. Lower dosing on a regular basis can be far more effective than larger doses taken sporadically or at larger time intervals.

Dosing Specifics: What exactly is a micro-dose?

Micro-dosing is patient specific. Some literature says it only includes amounts between 1-3 mg; if you happen to be someone with a history of routine cannabis use or you’re experiencing a lot of chronic pain/symptoms, you may need to use a higher dose. The sweet spot with micro-dosing is the smallest amount you can take to achieve the relief you need. You’re not aiming for the complete absence of pain or symptoms, but increased functionality and the ability to what you need to do in as much comfort as possible. It’s good for people who need cannabis for pain or anxiety, but who also need to work, drive or parent without being impaired. Another thing to remember is that micro-dosing is not the same as taking your normal daily dose and dividing it into five or six smaller doses. Someone who routinely takes 250 mg of cannabis daily for pain may find that if they micro-dose correctly, they can get away with taking far less while still achieving relief and the ability to function throughout the day.

For newbies or cannabis novices, a good starting point is 1-2 mg. You can add it to coffee, put it on a cookie, stir it into your yogurt, or whatever you prefer. Take the dose, wait 60 to 90 minutes, and see what kind of effect it has. Pay close attention to any changes in the symptoms you normally deal with. You may notice even with this minimal amount of cannabis they begin to lessen. If not, take another dose. Remember, you’re not looking to fly. The goal is symptom relief.

When using edibles, it’s best to eat within 20 minutes of taking the dose. This will help with digestion as well as transporting the medication to your body. Because THC is processed through the stomach with the help of the liver and gallbladder, eating something with fat (cheese, butter, milk, beans, nuts, steak, ribs, a chocolate bar, etc.) will enhance the properties of the medication. As the food is digested, and the nutrients are transported through your body, the THC will hitch a ride. Not only will the effect be more intense, but because it is going into your bloodstream and not just your brain, it will last longer. This is why cookies, cakes, brownies, and other edibles made with oil or fat tend to affect you longer than a lollipop or hard candy. Another thing to remember is that some foods boost the effect of THC due to the natural terpenes or found in them. Mango, chocolate, peppermint, coconut oil, black or green tea, and broccoli all contribute to an enhanced sensation when used in conjunction with cannabis intake. You may find other foods that work well for you in addition to the ones I just listed. Keep track of those, and keep a couple on hand to help you optimize your experience.

Dosing is going to be different for each individual. Some of us can function with more pain than others, or make it through the day with an anxiety level that another person might find crippling. This is why there is no one-size-fits-all guideline for micro-dosing cannabis. As with any other medication, it needs to be individualized to the patient. For example, I function quite well with 2-3 mg every six hours on a normal day. It depends on what I need to accomplish, where my pain is, and how I slept the night before as well as other factors. At least I know what my starting point is, and I can adjust my medication from there. If I have a busy day, or I’m doing a lot of driving, I may not even take the 2-3 mg dose. When driving, if I haven’t taken my usual micro-dose, I do carry a vape pen so I can use it if needed. It can help me control my anxiety level if I hit bad traffic, or get stuck behind a stupid driver.

Other Considerations

As with any other method of cannabis use, micro-dosing is dependent on many variables. The efficacy of the medication can be affected by diet, recent food intake, stressors, environment, timing, and other things I probably forgot about. Strain properties as well as THC and/or CBD content also play an important role.

For example, if you are under stress, hypervigilant, or worrying about whether or not your medication is going to work, that is going to affect the amount of time it takes to kick in as well as the intensity of the effect. I can take a dose of medication, sit back and watch a TV show, and I can tell when the cannabis starts to affect me. However, if I take the same amount and work on a puzzle, or clean the house, or go for a walk, I may not get that same sensation telling me that the medication is doing its job. I may think it’s not working because I didn’t feel it. That’s not always accurate. Sometimes we get so tied up in a certain indicator that we focus on it to the point of excluding other signs that we are getting what we need. When you’re trying a new method or strain, you should attempt to be as relaxed as possible. Make a genuine effort to optimize your environment and mental condition so that your medication has the best opportunity to affect you in a positive way.

If you have taken a break from cannabis in order to reset your tolerance level, micro-dosing can be an excellent way to reintroduce it to your body. Using the “Start Low, Go Slow” concept, you may be able to achieve alleviation of your symptoms with a much lower dose than you thought possible. Once again, it’s important to pay attention to your body. It’s not an inherent behavior, but it is something we can learn to do. Some people even keep a notebook or journal so that they can monitor how different doses affects them at different times of the day or under various stressors or circumstances.

Bigger is not always better. A higher dose is not always more effective. While achieving couchlock now and again isn’t a bad thing, we can’t live like that. It’s kind of like eating Godiva chocolates combined with the economic concept of the law of diminishing returns. The first chocolate is really good. The second one may be really good, too. By the time you hit that fourth or fifth piece of candy though, you’re not getting the same enjoyment you got with the first bite. In fact, you may be starting to get a stomachache. Your body is telling you you’ve had enough. It’s the same way with cannabis. It is quite possible to think that you need a lot more than you really do. Micro-dosing is one way to find the optimal dose for your situation, and can prove highly effective if used correctly. It can also be an excellent adjunct to relaxing with a higher dose after work, on the weekend, or whenever you can just let down and enjoy yourself. Finding the micro-dose that works for you can help you have a better quality of life and maybe even enjoy the journey a bit more.

Cooking with Cannabis – Make Your Own Edibles

Medical cannabis in Florida is in its infancy. Current legal limitations prevent us from buying marijuana plants, buds, flowers, or edibles. It does not, however, make it illegal to use the products we are permitted to buy in our own recipes.
Working from plant matter, the process for making an extract or concentrate can be quite complicated. Fortunately, we have access through Trulieve to a product called TruClear concentrate. It’s highly concentrated; you get approximately 875 mg per .8 mL of product. This makes it incredibly easy to cook with. It’s as easy as adding the desired amount of product to your recipe at the appropriate time; you don’t need to adjust the liquids or dry ingredients to compensate for the volume of the cannabis extract. For a novice, this is perfect.
It only took a minute in my mind to decide that I was going to try making some edibles of my own with the TruClear concentrate. I have had edibles before, but they were really strong-tasting and I didn’t enjoy them. The ratio of cannabis oil to volume in the TruClear makes it easier to for those of us who aren’t necessarily looking for the distinctive cannabis flavor in our edibles. The recipe that follows is pretty simple; as long as you have patience and some hot soapy water in your sink you can probably pull this off.

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Easy Lollipops
Ingredients:
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp extract of your choice (less if concentrated)
1/2 teaspoon citric or tartaric acid (optional: helps with flavor)
Food coloring (optional)
Lollipop molds and sticks
TruClear concentrate

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Supplies:

Medium pot
Spoon, preferably silicone since things don’t stick to it
Candy thermometer (A meat thermometer will work with chocolates. It does not go high enough to use with this recipe.)
Measuring cup
Basting or pastry brush
Apron (Trust me. Seriously.)
Parchment paper, wax paper, or specially designated lollipop wrappers. Cellophane wrap does not work well with these candies. It likes to stick. Ask me how I know.

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I bought a funnel from Wilton that has a manual controller on it to allow me to pour the liquid into the lollipop molds. It was probably one of the best investments I’ve ever made…or it will be, once I figure out how to use it without making a big fat mess. The nicest thing about it is that once the candy mixture cools, you can peel it right off the sides with a knife. It also soaks clean very easily in hot soapy water. You’re either going to need one of these or something else to transfer your liquid lollipops into the molds. It has to be done fast in order to keep you from ending up with a solid lollipop in your pot. I have experience with this.

Preparations:

It will be a lot easier if you pre-measure the sugar, water, citric acid if you’re using it, and corn syrup before you get started. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind about the flavor or the color of your lollipops right up until the time you pour them into the molds.
If you are using silicone molds, all you need to do is put the lollipop stick where it goes. Other kinds of molds will require the use of grease, butter, or nonstick cooking spray to keep the candy from becoming permanently attached. If you are not using a silicone mold, PLEASE make sure the mold is rated to hold candy. The plastic molds you get for chocolates are often not made to hold up to the high temperatures required for hard candy. You don’t want to be spending the next four days cleaning lollipop goo off your counters.
It’s a smart idea to put the molds on something other than just your counter. This way, if you’re anything like me, anything you spill will go on whatever you have laying under the molds. I like using wax paper. Once the candy hardens, it’s easy to get it off.

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If your molds require greasing, nonstick spray is the easiest way to go. Spray the molds lightly, and then, using a paper towel, blot up all but a very thin layer of the oil. Put the sticks in the molds. (Side note: if you buy your molds online, those cheap plastic sticks are awful for making these lollipops with. Regular paper lollipop sticks fit the molds better, and they don’t flop out when you’re pouring hot liquid into the mold. I threw my plastic sticks away. They’re worthless.

Put your apron on. This is important unless you want to walk around with little pieces of candy all over yourself. If you don’t have an apron, please don’t wear something that’s important to you. If you use good quality food coloring, that is permanent. It will not wash out. Ask me how I know. It’s really worth taking the effort to put on an old shirt instead of wearing your favorite tee and ending up with a bright rod blotch on the front of it.

Making Your Lollipops

1. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Stir this until the sugar dissolves. Get the pastry brush wet with water and brush down the sides of the pot to the level of the liquid. This will help prevent the formation of rock candy on the sides of your pot when the sugars are boiling. I usually go over the sides of my pot twice to make sure they’re nice and wet.

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2. Once the liquid is boiling, insert a candy thermometer into the pot. Allow the liquid to boil without stirring it until the candy thermometer reads 295°F or 146°C. You will notice the mixture thickening as it boils. This is normal. Be patient. You will want to stir the liquid. Don’t. It interferes with the chemical process that makes this wonderful combination into lollipops.

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2a. At this point it’s a good idea to get the TruClear heated up so it flows more easily since it is very thick. I put the syringe in a snack size zipper bag, seal the bag, and immerse it in a cup of hot water. If you’re not sure how long it will take, you can leave the water running to keep it hot. I’d wait till that thermometer reads about 250 before heating up the TruClear – this boiling candy stuff can take a while.

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3. Once the thermometer reads 295°F, remove the pot from the heat. Allow it to sit until it completely stops boiling. Do not stir until it is done boiling.

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4. Add TruClear, citric acid, flavoring, and coloring if desired. The solution will foam at this point; it’s just another chemical reaction. Stir gently until well blended. If you stir too hard, your lollipops will be full of air bubbles.

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5. This is the fun part. It’s now time to see if you can get the candy into the molds before it solidifies. Honestly, this works best if you have two people. However, it can be done by one person. It works best if you have something other than a spoon to fill the molds with. That being said, if the solution starts getting thick and sludgy, you can heat it up a little bit in the pot to re-liquefy it. You don’t want to do it too often, but once or even maybe twice should be okay.
Make sure your lollipop sticks are covered by the candy. This is another reason I prefer the paper lollipop sticks: the candy adheres to it better and the sticks don’t come out while you’re trying to unmold your lollipops.

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Don’t worry if you make a mess. It will clean up, and part of the fun of making your own cannabis candy is that you get to eat whatever you spill. I think I enjoy that part of the process more than any other one!

Make sure your molds are flat while your candy cools. If you need to move them for whatever reason, please do so slowly and use both hands. Cookie sheets are a good place to let them cool. It will take up to several hours for the candy to set. Don’t be in a rush. Make sure the molds are totally cool before removing the lollipops.
When I remove my lollipops from the molds, I usually put a piece of waxed paper on the counter and then invert the molds to loosen the candy onto the paper. This has two benefits: first of all, the lollipops don’t stick to the waxed paper whereas they would stick to my counter; secondly, it’s easier to clean any broken pieces off waxed paper then it is to get it off of said counter. I use a small knife or my hands to remove any extra candy hanging off the back of the lollipops from the mess I made when I put the stuff in the molds. I put it in a bag with what I scraped out of the funnel after pouring the candy and I have a little baggie full of leftovers to munch on. Things could definitely be worse.

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Welcome!

I’m an MMJ patient, advocate, writer, and aspiring cook. I make my own medibles from medical cannabis. I started doing this because we can’t buy them in Florida yet. This blog is a way for me to share my articles for people who can’t access the magazine they’re published in as well as to help folks who want to learn to make their own goodies at home with (or without) cannabis.

Enjoy!