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Before I begin, it is important to note that, at the time of writing this post, marijuana use in the state of Arizona is restricted to those who have a Medical Marijuana (MMJ) card. The purpose of this post is to start a dialogue, and not to pursuade. I would also like to note that my husband is the owner of the dispensaries about which I will discuss.
I may be going out of one’s comfort zone with the topic of cannabis and cannabis use, but I am also tasked with getting the word out regarding the lifestyle and culinary scene in AZ. Along this vein, I ventured west on Highway 101 into the retirement hub of Sun City, Arizona, to visit the new (as of August 2019) Sol Flower Wellness Center, Café and Dispensary, and to attend a Cannabis 101 class taught by the onsite Director of Patient Services, Jane Fix. This visit was followed by lunch at the adjacent Sol Flower Café and a tour of the facility.
If you think you must have your MMJ card in order to get into the Sol Flower complex, you are both right and wrong. You only need the card to gain access to the dispensary itself, but you can access the café, attend a class and even have a one-on-one consultation with Jane without an MMJ card. This multidisciplinary type of complex is the first of its kind in Arizona, where you can nosh on a Mezze Platter while looking right into a state-of-the-art cannabis dispensary. Floor-to-ceiling glass separates the dispensary from the rest of the facility, affording views from just about every vantage point and busting preconceptions about the somewhat seedy (pun intended) nature of dispensaries.
Next to the dispensary is a classroom where classes are offered weekly with topics ranging from cannabis, to mindfulness training, to yoga. Jane Fix is the Director of Patient Services for Sol Flower’s two locations (the other being Tempe), but classes are only offered in Sun City. Jane has a background in botany and is not an MD, but in her quest to help ease one’s suffering, she is a staunch supporter of spreading the word regarding the power of the cannabis plant.
Starting with a brief vocabulary lesson, there are two natural compounds found in the cannabis plant, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both CBD and THC have the same molecular structure and interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, but with different effects. While both have certain healing properties, THC is the psychoactive component that gives you the “high” sensation.
CBD can be extracted from hemp or from marijuana plants. Hemp plants are cannabis plants that contain a minimal amount of THC, while marijuana plants contain higher concentrations of THC. CBD and THC are sold in the form of creams, gels, gummies, oils, supplements, tinctures lozenges and extracts. THC is additionally sold in a form in which it can be smoked, such as a vape pen and/or as a pre-roll.
So, why would you choose one form over another?
In sum, the answer lies in “conscious consumption”, trial and error and journaling to find the right mix. When Jane first meets with a patient, she starts by going over his/her list of current medications. It is important that CBD not counteract with any medications one could be taking. For instance, CBD and THC can react negatively to medicines for low blood pressure, certain anxiety and depression medication, and statins.
There are many factors when considering adding CBD and/or THC to your health regime, and it can be confusing. The following are important bullet points when weighing your options:
- To start out, especially with those who have “cannabis anxiety”, Jane will usually recommend the use of creams. Creams, particularly creams with THC, provide pain relief without any side effects, such as impairment in judgment.
- Patches that release CBD into the blood stream over time can be helpful, but at $20 a piece, they can also be cost prohibitive.
- Edibles, tinctures and lozenges are stronger options. An “edible” is any kind of food, candy or drink that contains ingestible cannabis. Edibles are often sold in the form of baked goods, like brownies, chocolate and candies. Another smokeless option is the tincture, which is cannabis-infused coconut oil. Tinctures are administered with droppers sublingually for maximum absorbency. With a lozenge, CBD and THC can enter the bloodstream quicker than an edible, which has to be metabolized in the liver, thereby decreasing the potency. Lozenges and tinctures are easier for pediatric and geriatric patients, or for those who have difficulty swallowing or holding food down.
- In is important to keep in mind that each form will has a different rate of onset. The general rule is, the quicker it hits, the faster it will dissipate. When inhaled or smoked, the effect will hit quicker, and will have passed in roughly 3 hours. In contrast, an edible has the slowest onset of roughly 1-2 hours, and may stay with you for more than 8 hours. Inhalation will have the fastest onset, then sublingual (lozenge/tincture), and lastly an edible. Jane generally does not recommend capsules often, as they are not good for people with digestive issues.
- Journaling and “conscious consumption” are very important parts of the process. While CBD medication can help with arthritis, inflammation, depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia, after 12-18 months, the efficacy level will start to decrease. At this point, Jane recommends to add a little THC. She feels that four parts CBD to 1 part THC is the perfect mix, but that being said, it may take about three weeks to find what is right for each individual. She works with the patient for as long as they need her, which is usually 3 weeks to three months.
Many in the audience were curious if doctors are generally on board with adding cannabis to one’s protocol. What bothers many doctors is that people may not find the best kind of product at certain dispensaries. Lucky for us, Arizona has passed a bill, SB1494, that states beginning November 1, 2020, all cannabis products are to be third party tested. In the meantime, everything at Sol Flower is currently third party tested, so MMJ card or no MMJ card, hop in the car and head on out to Sun City and grab a pastry, a cup of coffee and sit in on a class. For the cannacurious and just the plain curious. xoM
Sol Flower Wellness Center & Café
13650 N 99th Ave, Sun City, AZ 85351