Strains and medicinal targets

In Blog // on October 27th, 2012 // by // No comment

When a patient and their doctor have decided that marijuana will be used as a medication, there is at first a sense of relief – then many questions arise.

How much should I be prescribed per day?  How do I take my medicine?  What kinds of cannabis are there?  What do they do?

Each individual should be honest with their doctor when obtaining their prescription about previous use (or non use) and what they hope to achieve through their medicine.

One benefit of using a dispensary like Westcoast Medicann Society is the staff gets to know patients and their needs, taking pride in helping facilitate the right kind of medication, dosage and way of administration.  Each patient is treated with care and on a personal level.

Prescriptions will vary case to case and every person reacts to medication with slightly different results.  However, there are broad assumptions about the amount (for beginner patients 1 – 3 grams per day) and effects of cannabis that Westcoast Medicann is happy to discuss with new and regular clients – and what I would like to share now!

With all the wonderful new agriculture techniques of the day, there are loads of interesting and unique flavours of medicinal cannabis.  But they all started from two general strains:

Sativa or Indica.  And then there was the Hybrid.

For those who are connoisseurs of the cannabis variety, these groupings are broad and dismally non-descriptive.  However, for the purpose of sorting out what does what, on an introductory level, let’s assume that the common folk will react to these groupings in similar ways.

The Sativa

Fun fact: according to Wikipedia, cannabis sativa is “chiefly used as caged bird seed.”  

For human medicinal purposes, however, the sativa strain is used in smoking, vaporizing, baked goods, tinctures, teas and ointments.  The plant itself has long, thin leaves, less chlorophyll than it’s indica counterpart, and takes longer to mature.

Most often, cannabis sativa is described as the day time medicine.  It is

* a stimulant for energy and sense of well being

* reduces depression and nausea

* relieves headaches and migraines

* increases focus, creativity and appetite.

Sativas may also be used as milder muscle relaxants.

Studies say sativas are helpful for patients with mild mood disorders* and women suffering from PMS.

*Patients with severe psychotic disorders, particularly schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, should be under careful psychiatric monitoring when using cannabis.  Also, and the cannabinoids are contraindicated for patients with a history of active cardiac ischemias. 

The downside to the sativa strain: because it works as a stimulant, the sativa offers a cerebral high activating brain activity and may produce hallucinations – while getting the old heart rate up.    Paranoia for those prone to panic attacks and anxiety may be heightened when using sativas.

One great thing about medicinal marijuana, is that each strain has several different sub-strains that have been cloned and bred for many years creating a wide base for interesting and effective names.  Westcoast Medicann Society gets much delight from the titles that walk through our door.  Today, for example, our sativa menu includes Banana, Jack Herer, and Neville Haze.  Some other mentionables include Chocolate Dream, and Strange Clouds.

The Indica

Indica plants have broad leafs cultivated for many uses including hashish, the compressed and/or purified preparations of stalked resin glands.  Indicas tend to have a higher cannabinoidal (CBD) content than sativa strains.  Indica users describe a ‘stoned’ or ‘body buzz’ feeling compared to the ‘high’ of the sativa.

Most often, cannabis indica is prescribed for night time use.  Its beneficial properties have much to do with

* pain relief

* treatment of insomnia

* relaxation, and is less likely to induce anxiety

The downside to the indica strain: it can be very potent, and for the beginner user, the sense of ‘couch-lock’ can be overwhelming.  The body literally becomes ‘stoned’, heavy, weighted and reluctant to do anything else but relax.  For those with plans – break them.  Take the phone off the hook (or shut your ringer off) and be prepared to be out of commission for some time, depending on your metabolism and tolerance.

Some of the fun names given to the indicas are Rockstar, BC God, Ocean Grown, and Master Kush Ultra.  I’ve also heard of Granddaddy Purple, Mighty Might, and Twilight.

The Hybrid

Hybrid cannabis strains are exactly what you think –  a cross between an indica and a sativa.  They will most likely be heavier on one side than the other, as I’ve very rarely come across a complete 50/50 hybrid.  On a whole, the hybrids have the fruitier aromas, and smooth results in terms of effect.  Neither too high or too stony, the hybrid is a personalized experience for each and every patient.

It will take time to experiment with the right hybrid for a user’s medicinal need, but once a hybrid strain is found that works for specific symptoms, the relief can be very enjoyable indeed.

Helen Keller is a hybrid best used as a mild sleep aid and for anxiety relief.  It helps manage pain and stimulates appetite.

Headband eases depression, migraines and muscle spasms.  It has a stony high reflective of many hybrids.

Blue Cheese has a very distinct aroma.  It is recommended for day time use, with a ‘powerfully clear euphoric effect.’

It’s very important to note (again) that everyone processes medicine differently.  Although there is an expected reaction, individualized chemicals in the body can have differing responses to certain strains.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of hybrid strains of medicinal marijuana.  Some (even with the same name) differ slightly depending on who is growing it.  It takes many hours and lots of dedication to decipher the best strain for any particular patient, but it is well worth the effort.

Medicinal marijuana is, afterall, a plant.  Organically grown within a framework but in the hands of nature.  Location or environment, how it is harvested, or how long it is cured can all have varying degrees of effect on a patient.

That also includes how the medicine is taken.  Edible products made from sativa, indica or hybrid strains also react differently in different patients.

The Edible

With edible marijuana products, the most enchanting experiences can be had – and so can the most terrifying.  For non-smokers, eating your medicine can be the best way to get what you need, but also the most confusing.  Edibles have a wide range of effects that can be most unexpected.

When marijuana is inhaled, the active components are absorbed directly into the bloodstream in the lungs and the effect is almost instantThis is not the case when marijuana is digested.  It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour for the full effects to be felt, and the final result is often stronger and lasts longer.”

Many report that eating cannabis provides a more gradual psychoactive effect and a more powerful body feel compared to smoking or vaporizing.

For those who are prepared and know what they are getting into, edibles are also a discreet way of medicating and can be enjoyed where smoking is not possible.

Opposed to smoking, intensity of an edible is more likely based on the amount of cannabis used rather than what type.  “Some newer edibles are produced using hash oil extraction and other sophisticated processes involving concentrates which increase potency and eliminate the need for eating large quantities of cannabis butter.”

The edible can be a swing medication, giving some patients all the relief they need, and others no relief at all.  It is important to start slowly with edibles and reflect on what was previously eaten, what sleep patterns have been, where the patient is, and who they are with.  The more information one gives themselves, the greater the advantage their medication will give them.

A few delicious choices if a patient decides to go the edible route are:

brownies   cookies   lollipops   cake-pops   cakes   butter   honey  candies popcorn   toffees   and the list is never ending

There are other ways to take medicinal marijuana.


Hashish (Hash) is made from the glandular hairs that are chock full of cannabinoids.  There are methods that use mechanical separation technics that resemble sieving through a screen.  There is a powder leftover that is referred to as kief, which is then compressed with heat and turned into blocks of hashish.  (There is also an ice-water separation method).

Or, chemical separation, that uses solvents.  Plant materials are filtered out of a solution and the leftover solvent is evaporated, leaving behind desirable resins called honey oil, or hash oil.

Patients smoke hash with medicinal marijuana, or melt it as an oil.  It can be very strong, and is intended for the more intermediate to advanced marijuana patient.

Pheonix Tears

Pheonix Tears is a product name for concentrated hemp oil.  Without any psychoactive effects, this edible oil is a preventative and curative ‘magic potion’.

Westcoast Medicann Society has Pheonix Tears on the menu as a ‘sober’ way to fight pain and actually reduce cancerous tumors (as well as anti-aging properties).

disclaimer: it does take a little time to get used to the medication so that one feels absolutely no ‘high’, but it’s a recommendation to all patients, young and old.  Applied to the skin, it even helps heal ulcers, burns and scars.

Feel free to check out Rick Simpson’s website for more information, but the general idea is the pineal gland is a huge part of the healing body, and the melatonin it produces is essential.

When the function of the pineal gland is impaired, it produces much less melatonin and therefore we become sick and diseased.”

Cancer lowers melatonin, but smoking hemp seems to raise the levels – therefore, we can say the concentrate of hemp would be quite effective to the increase of melatonin levels.  Melatonin brings the body’s PH level up which counterattacks acid in the body which cancer can thrive on.   (Also, baking soda and lemon juice can raise the body´s PH very rapidly.)

Pheonix Tears are a great way to jump start the healing process.

Cannabis is making a real breakthrough in the fight against illness, and with dispensaries, informed doctors and quality product, patients are reaping the benefits.

Next week I’ll talk about the cost of the this medicine and why it’s important more support comes through.


“Beginner's Guide to Medical Cannabis- Using Edibles | Berkeley Patients Care Collective.” Berkeley Patient's Care Collective – Cannabis Dispensary Since 2001. (online). 13 Oct. 2012.

“Bluecheese | Medical Marijuana Strains.” Medical Marijuana Strains | Marijuana Pictures and Reviews. (online). 13 Oct. 2012.

“Cannabis Herbal Treatment: Health Benefits, & Medical Uses for Nausea.” Home Remedies and Natural Cures for Common Illnesses. (online) 13 Oct. 2012.

“Difference in marijuana: cannabis sativa and indica seed strains.” Amsterdam marijuana seeds seed bank (online). http// 13 Oct. 2012.

“HELEN KELLER | StrainGeniusLabs.” Cannabis Testing Lab | Medical Marijuana Test | Strain Genius Labs. (online). 13 Oct. 2012.

“Medical Use of Cannabis (marijuana) | Here to Help, A BC Information Resource for Individuals and Families Managing Mental Health or Substance Use Problems.” Home | Here to Help, A BC Information Resource for Individuals and Families Managing Mental Health or Substance Use Problems. (online). 13 Oct. 2012.

Simpson, Rick . ” Phoenix Tears.” Phoenix Tears. (online). 13 Oct. 2012.

Wunder, Mark. “Headband Marijuana Strain | Medical Cannabis Headband.” Medical Marijuana Dispensaries – Cannabis Strains, Edibles & Seeds. (online). 13 Oct. 2012.

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