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The Effects of Different Marijuana Strains | Enhance - Debilitate - Normalize

When I first started budtending, I was very much of the "if it messes you up it's what you want" persuasion. I still very much dwell in that area but as I have had the opportunity to try a ludicrous amount of different strains and crosses, I can much more accurately get to the effect I'm looking for in most cases. Some strains I know for sure will effect me in a specific way, whereas some strains still baffle me and I need to do more pretend research on, all strains just making me wish I could test individual cannabinoids by themselves, But after all of this, I needed a way to explain the generalized effect of strains beyond the Indica Sativa Hybrid model, as there are plenty of cases where just those labels alone were either not accurate enough or in some cases even opposite. We recently got a Sativa strain that is under no circumstances effectually useful as a Sativa, and I would never sell it as such. A lot of categorization happens based on the physical makeup of the plants that are grown, as you can't necessarily know what a plant is really going to result in outside of how it has ended up in previous batches.
 

Indica vs. Sativa

The use of Indica Sativa and Hybrid in a consumer context is also essentially a curse. I cannot even begin to count the number of people that have come in not even ever having smoked weed adamantly telling me that they don't want Indicas, they hate them and they only want Sativas because someone told them all Indica strains would put them to sleep. This is understandable as these past two years have really opened up a lot as far as open experimentation and research, which can only continue to climb. But even so, the average customer is probably still going to tell you that they don't want Indicas, or that Sativas make them too paranoid or sometimes even that Sativas put them to sleep and they can ONLY smoke hybrids, which is generally all nonsense.

Even just going by my dispensary alone, we have always had Indica strains that are very energetic in addition to the more downer strains, and plenty of Sativas that I would never recommend for people to go out and do stuff on, more prone to relaxation and calmness. I have had a hard time really trying to narrow down how to describe the effects of different strains in a way that I can keep them all straight in my head and avoid being constantly thrown off by new weird crosses. So after much deliberation, I came up with the following three categories: enhance, debilitate, and normalize.
 

Three Ways to Categorize The Effects of Smoking Marijuana

Enhance strains
are generally more applicable to Sativas and Sativa leaning hybrids, but are not limited to that by any means. Any strain that modifies your mental or physical feelings in a way that pushes you forward or helps you focus or even body high that reduces muscle pain could fall under this category, Enhance strains can come in many different ranges of strength as well, some lower THC strains being very beneficial for cerebral effect. These strains are generally more recommended for going out and doing things, mental expansion and creativity channeling, among other positive effects. The body high side of enhance strains I have also found to be a little more like lifting body high, losing a few pounds of weight in your extremities, good for all kinds of outdoor kinds of adventures. Enhance strains can also carry with them a heavy drop effect once they have worn off, as enhancement can't be permanent and you must eventually go back to normal you.

Debilitate strains come in two main types for me, strains that are very heavy on the body high and knockdown potential, and strains that make you stupid. I am a huge fan of strains that make you stupid, me stupid, what have you. I avoid a lot of enhance strains as I feel like there is rarely as much change in my headspace, sometimes getting a little more tangential than usual but that is rarely something I'm looking for, as anything more going on in my head just pushes me more towards just getting too distracted to function, whereas strains that knock me down mentally make me more able to enjoy the present rather than spiraling through my thoughts. Intense heavy body high as opposed to the enhance strains lifting body is also a preference for me, again because I want to be knocked down. While these strains can be often attributed to Indicas, the dumbing strains I have found are generally closer to hybrids, usually resulting from an interesting strain cross.

Normalize strains are interesting because they vary from person to person, as you may find that an Enhance or a Debilitate strain may actually knock you down or pick you up to normal. Most CBD strains that I have tried fall into this category, as they are generally just relaxing and relief heavy, without actually being too down. Some people associate CBDs with going to sleep or tiredness, but I don't really agree in any context. Normalize strains are more along the lines of getting you to a nice average space that you want to inhabit, rather than pushing you too much in any direction, similar to how people will take antidepressants or Adderall, things like that.

But these three categories are fairly fluid, really only getting assigned to strains that I think fully embody these ideas. Still if you go into a store and ask for something that fits one of these contexts, I guarantee you will have a much more productive conversation with your budtender. They may even be able to find you something much closer to what you need rather than just assigning you the Indica or Sativa of the day because you told them you couldn't smoke one or the other. I recommend you always take your drug research seriously, and try to move away from the traditional genetic classifications of weed. The sooner we start to move away from these ideas the sooner we can really advance into growing strains that do the same thing every time.

Save your stickers, keep a journal, whatever works for you, I encourage you to do it. Learning is the best aspect of this industry right now, as much as everyone else would have you believe it is money.

Money is not what we're working for.

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CannaSaver Blog

Effects of Marijuana on Memory

Posted by CANNASaver on Monday, 25 January 2021 in Canna Blog

For as long as I can remember (see what I did there?), people in my life would say, ‘stay away from marijuana’. Often, the charges against cannabis would be tied in with other ideas such as laziness, poor work ethic, and reduced memory function. As research dollars continue to flow into cannabis, we are finding that several of the key ‘scare’ tactics used were based on outlier evidence and are not totally factual.

In this article, we will discuss some emerging research on how marijuana affects memory. Specifically, we will review how memory is affected by cannabis and hopefully learn once and for all if we may clear the haze from anti-weed tactics and lighten the mood around its use. 

effects of marijuana use

Confronting Old Ideas on Cannabis and Memory

Cannabis use dates back thousands of years, yet its use, cultivation, and sale have been partly-legal for less than half a century. 

Untold thousands have been arrested and several billions of dollars have been collected due to laws around marijuana.

We punish people for using it, for growing it, for having it in their possession, or for selling it. It doesn’t matter the relative devastation caused by cannabis when compared to drugs such as cocaine or an opiate, because drugs are drugs. 

The resulting psychosocial process makes it easier for some individuals with hardline abstinence ideas to be seen as the ‘model’ - the person who stays in favor of the law, of family, and of society. This can magnify small issues to an enormous scale. 

Such is the concept of ‘Reefer Madness’; a rare piece of goofy, anti-drug propaganda, speaking to people as though any use or experimentation with marijuana will leave life unfulfilling and lonely. 

The Problem?

When an experience is awful or conflated, it tends to have an outsized effect on how we recall the experience and our willingness to do it again. As human beings, we all are able to coordinate with others, experience empathy, feel joy and sorrow, and make choices based on information available to us.

As marijuana became more popular in the years leading to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, so too did public misunderstandings of the plant. Ideas of madness and paranoia began to percolate around the subject of marijuana, and it was tacked on that significant impairment of memory was from cannabis. 

Back then, the media didn’t move as fast as it does now9 and it was scientifically valid to blame mothers for schizophrenia. Times have changed.

With more and more states legalizing cannabis after 80 years of prohibition, it is time to employ some of the advances in technological and scientific understanding to gain perspective. 

True: memory and reaction time are statistically correlated to cannabis use.

False: memory retrieval gets worse with cannabis use.

Working memory

What is Working Memory?

Working memory is a lot like the RAM memory of a computer. It does not mean the information has been hard-coded into our memory. Instead, working memory implies a near-term function, where maybe only seconds to days have passed. 

On the topic of working memory and cannabis use, one recent study sticks out in particular. The study observed 75 participants, 60 of which have used cannabis while 15 had not. The objective was to determine whether the age of onset - that is, when in an individual’s life they first used cannabis - is related to working memory reaction time in the near-term.

Working memory reaction time was measured using a system of cues and responses which imitated the typical functioning of memory in our environment. With regard to memory and cannabis use, the series of cues made by researchers additionally evaluated the following:

  • Memory Encoding: This was evaluated by showing one or three stimuli to be recollected.

  • Memory Maintenance: Using advanced imaging technology (fMRI), memory maintenance was evaluated by showing where the information was held and maintained in the brain. 

  • Memory retrieval: This was measured by showing four stimuli and evaluated by matching cues to the previous stimuli.

As the main focus of the study was to determine if the reaction time of an individual’s working memory relates to cannabis use IF exposed during adolescence, the true results of the study provide evidence that cannabis and memory have a highly variable, if not totally illogical, relationship. 

effects of marijuana on memory

So How Does Marijuana Affect Memory?

By using an fMRI scanner, researchers were able to show the parts of the brain which are most active when supplied with the encoding, maintenance, and retrieval stimuli. 

As was consistent with previous research, the areas of the brain researchers focused on include the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which help regulate executive function and control in the near-term. 

The results found three relationships regarding working memory and cannabis use worth noting. 

First and most, unfortunately, the research reinforced the idea that individuals who began using cannabis earlier in life had longer reaction times than both cannabis users who began using after adolescence and non-users. This suggests broadly that cannabis use may impact the development of encoding information if used early in life. 

(Note: this does not mean cannabis use is a predictive factor for memory issues, rather working memory and cannabis use may have a relationship.)

Second, the age an individual first uses cannabis and whether they have used cannabis once or repeatedly had no relationship to the behavior of the brain. 

According to researchers, this may suggest the age a person initially uses cannabis may reflect substance use risk characteristics rather than a cannabis-exposure effect (such as impaired memory) on brain development. 

And last but not least, among the group of 75 participants, the researchers were able to show repeated cannabis use AND greater levels of overall cannabis use were associated with increases of performance in the activation (i.e. - working of) of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during the maintenance period.

Additionally, across all 75 participants, users of cannabis generally performed better than non-users, which includes a faster reaction time and higher memory retrieval accuracy.

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