Emblem’s extraction team starts with specially selected, high-grade materials. The flowers first go through a grinding process, resulting in perfect particle size. Another important step in the process is decarboxylation (commonly referred to as decarbing). When cannabis in consumed, it usually goes through a heat source first (such as a vaporizer). Cannabis plants don’t actually make THC and CBD, but their alternate “acidic” form known as THCA and CBDA; it’s the heating process (decarboxylation) that transforms the compounds into their “active” state for medical efficiency.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, cannabis use for medicinal purposes dates back at least 3,000 years. It was introduced into Western medicine in the 1840s by W.B. O’Shaughnessy, a surgeon who learned of its medicinal properties while working in India for the British East Indies Co. It became useful because of its analgesic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anticonvulsant effects.
So Mechoulam called the Israeli national police and scored five kilos of confiscated Lebanese hashish. He and his research group isolated—and in some cases also synthesized—an array of substances, which he injected separately into rhesus monkeys. Only one had any observable effect. “Normally the rhesus monkey is quite an aggressive individual,” he says. But when injected with this compound, the monkeys became emphatically calm. “Sedated, I would say,” he recalls with a chuckle.
Distinguishing cannabis and hemp can be confusing, so let's make it simple. There are many varietals of Cannabis sativa, all of which have different amounts of THC and CBD. Cannabis sativa varietals that have more than 0.3 percent THC are commonly referred to as marijuana. Hemp is any varietal of Cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
Typically, pharmaceutical companies making cannabis-based medicines have sought to isolate individual compounds from the plant. But Mechoulam strongly suspects that in some cases those chemicals would work much better in concert with other compounds found in marijuana. He calls this the entourage effect, and it’s just one of the many cannabis mysteries that he says require further study.
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