July 26, 2014

Understanding Marijuana Mold And Mycotoxins

Marijuana Mold And MycotoxinsPhoto by Steep Hill Labs

Mold And Mycotoxins: Cannabis Patients Beware

Most cannabis patients are not overly concerned about the possibility that their medicine may be contaminated with marijuana mold. That’s understandable, since most patients have never experienced the immediate illness and ongoing allergic sensitivity that can result from exposure to mycotoxins. But cannabis, like many other crops, is prone to fungal infections, which often leads to the production of dangerous mycotoxins. Some of these contaminants are known carcinogens, and some can produce potentially lethal allergic reactions.

an essential warning about the possible health threats associated with untested medicine.

The United States Food and Drug Administration screens susceptible crops to prevent these toxins from poisoning consumers. Since cannabis remains federally illegal, however, FDA testing does not protect cannabis patients. And the effects of smoking or inhaling common molds, such as mildew, have never been adequately explored.

Steep Hill Halent’s informative article, “Mycotoxins, Mold, and Cannabis” offers an essential warning about the possible health threats associated with untested medicine.

July 23, 2014

Marijuana Strain Noshaq Kush from Takoma Wellness Center, Washington DC

Noshaq Kush

Takoma Wellness Center, Washington DC


Noshaq is the one of the highest peaks in the Hindu Kush Range, near the Kush valley famous for its Indicas. Noshaq Kush is genetically derived from the Afghan Kush grown in that fertile valley and is a new strain that has just recently come onto the scene.

The strain is available in the various Washington DC dispensaries, such as the Takoma Wellness Center, Capitol City Care, or Metropolitan Wellness Center. We got our flower of Noshaq Kush from my personal favorite dispensary Takoma Wellness Center, a non-profit dispensary in DC that helps the community in so many ways. They donate proceeds to the local Whitman-Walker AIDS clinic and are active members in the community. Takoma Wellness Center is always adding new strains and improving their presentation of top quality cannabis medicine. I use medical cannabis for my fibromyalgia and have been visiting this dispensary for almost a year now. The entire staff treats you like family, and visiting is always a pleasant experience.

I use medical cannabis for my fibromyalgia. The relatively high CBG (13%) may have a lot to do with the strain’s effectiveness, for my anxiety was eased, and my spirit lifted. My mind relaxed along with my muscles.

I enjoy testing the effects of the various cannabinoids, especially the ones I haven’t tried yet. I have sampled THC and CBD extensively, but I have not yet really sampled CBG (Cannabigerol). When I saw this new strain Noshaq Kush come into Takoma Wellness Center dispensary, I first noticed the 13% CBG (along with 17% THC and 8% CBD) and realized this would be a good chance to try CBG. Stephanie Kahn, a staff member at Takoma Wellness Center said, “This is a very strong Indica!”.

SC Laboratories reports that CBG inhibits cancer and tumor cells from growing, stems the growth of bacteria, stimulates growth of bones and also reduces inflammation. CBG inhibits the uptake of GABA, a brain chemical responsible for the regulation of the reactions of neurons. Those who suffer from anxiety or muscle tension may enjoy relief when GABA is inhibited.


The flowers are tall, compact, and very dense, with only a slight stickiness. Noshaq Kush has pale green leaves with brownish-orange pistil hairs intertwined. Whitish-amber trichomes sparkle and glisten. I experienced an earthy, grassy bouquet, with a sweet spiciness that tingled the nose. Upon first inspection of the flowers, the Kush “skunk” smell was not overpowering, did make its presence felt. The mild lemongrass and sage aroma is very pleasant and soothing.


I sampled the fresh Noshaq Kush flowers in a waterpipe. The smoke being drawn in was mild but creamy and had a very earthy, distinct taste, with only a slight tinge of skunk. Exhaling left a moist, fruity taste in my mouth. The lingering smoke is surprisingly strong in “skunk” odor, so be sure to have the windows open or a fan going with this one. I also tasted a tinge of mint, pine, cherry and even cinnamon in the flavonoids that tickled the senses. My experience with Noshaq Kush has been pleasant all around. The “entourage effects”, or the combined effects, of the flavonoids, trichomes and cannabinoids are very powerful on the senses and nose and are a large part of the therapeutic properties of Noshaq Kush. The sensations eased my mind and relaxed my muscles.

Noshaq Kush from Washington DC Dispensary Takoma Wellness Center


Noshaq Kush is a heavy Indica that definitely lives up to it’s “Kush”, melting muscles and calmin the spirit within a few minutes of use. My head lightened and my headache eased, and a sense of overall wellbeing was felt. It eased the pain in my muscles and joints, and took my mind off the pain. I didn’t feel a need to take a second puff so quickly, as the rush and effects lasted for almost 15 minutes (a significant duration for my fibromyalgia symptom relief).

I felt the effects of Noshaq primarily in my head, around the crown chakra; which is surprising with an Indica. The powerful effects of this truly strong medicinal strain were profound. The relatively high CBG (13%) may have a lot to do with the strain’s effectiveness, for my anxiety was eased, and my spirit lifted. My mind relaxed along with my muscles. The body effect hit second. As predicted, the effect was pretty strong. “Couch lock” wasn’t far behind. I felt relaxation in and around my root chakra.

Noshaq Kush is definitely an Indica for night time only, for it causes severe drowsiness and deep relaxation. Noshaq also causes the “munchies” so make sure you have nuts and berries standing by. I would recommend this potent medicinal strain for heavy pain, severe insomnia, migraines, severe muscle spasms, anxiety and depression. Noshaq Kush is an awesome strain that is good for fibromyalgia and other diseases with muscle spasticity issues. I will definitely try this strain myself again for sure.

July 20, 2014

2014 High Times Cannabis Cup Highlights – San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for the winners of the 2014 High Time Cannabis Cup, or the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup Photo Gallery?

The 2014 San Francisco Bay Area Medical Cannabis Cup took place June 28 and 29 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California.

(High Times now presents their Medical Cannabis Cup in Seattle and Los Angeles as well as the San Francisco Bay Area. Following up a 2011 Medical Cannabis Cup in Detroit, this year High Times will host a Cup in Clio, Michigan. Of course, there’s also the U.S. Cannabis Cup, in Denver. Not to mention the original High Times Cannabis Cup, in Amsterdam.)

Fiya reigns at the High Times Cannabis Cup

So, San Francisco’s Cup didn’t actually take place in San Francisco. And, since recreational cannabis is not yet legal in California, all “medicating” was restricted to a “medication area,” which was only accessible to patients with valid California recommendations. And those of us accustomed to foggy summers in San Francisco proper may have been somewhat unprepared for the considerably hotter Sonoma sunshine. Nevertheless, we’ve got to hand it to High Times for presenting a Cannabis Cup worthy of Northern California’s venerable cannabis community.

As our first official order of business, the 91LIFE team made our way to “Cannabis for Health, Happiness & Creativity,” a panel conversation moderated by Debby Goldsberry, a prominent cannabis activist and current ambassador for Magnolia Wellness Center. Courtney Sheats, Jeremy Daw, Rev. Dr. Kymron deCesare, and Diane R. Fornbacher discussed how cannabis reduces stress, augments good health, and inspires creativity. We were particularly excited to learn about THCV, a fascinating cannabinoid with valuable medicinal benefits, from Rev. Dr. deCesare.

Subcool and MzJill speak at the High Times Cannabis Cup

Next up was “Free Weed from Danny Danko”, featuring a panel of cultivation experts: DJ Short, Kyle Kushman, Subcool and MzJill, “K”, Aaron, and Rick Pfrommer. It was lovely to hear from MzJill of TGA Genetics, who provides a welcome feminine perspective in the otherwise male-dominated breeding scene. MzJill goes above and beyond to help patients through her extensive outreach work.

After that, we were ready to get into the mix and see the sights in the medication area. Weaving our way past booths displaying glass, gadgets, all sorts of accessories, jars full of cannabis flowers, and one vaporizer pen after another, we found our way to Buds & Roses. We met Aaron Justis, who owns this popular Los Angeles dispensary, and learned how Kyle Kushman’s “veganic” growing methods influence the quality of the buds at Buds & Roses.

Buds and Roses booth at the High Times Cannabis Cup

Then we visited Subcool and MzJill at the TGA Genetics booth, and when we mentioned that we had yet to actually smoke anything all day, Subcool immediately offered us a few grams of Strawberry Cough. By then, the hot afternoon was melting away and a cool breezy evening was settling in. We took a blissful break from our busy day to light up a few bowls of Subcool’s tasty and impressively potent strawberry-scented buds.

Finally on the right wavelength with the sea of smoke and stony smiles surrounding us, we floated into the pavilion where moe. was already deep into a jam that pulled us into a mellow groove, while dazzling lights traced trippy patterns in the fog and smoke-filled air.

moe performs at the High Times Cannabis Cup

Throughout both days at the Cannabis Cup, we frequently found ourselves gravitating to the Magnolia Wellness booth, which had music, art, hula hooping, and a bar where the dabs and bong hits never seemed to stop. More crucially, Magnolia provided comfy seats, shade, and free bottled water. Mickey Martin, founder of Compassion Edibles, was serving up medicated miniature doughnuts to raise funds for Parents 4 Pot, and the tantalizing aroma attracted plenty of donations. We were delighted to meet Michelle Aldrich, who has been a legalization activist for most of her life, helped draft Proposition 215, and famously eradicated lung cancer with the help of cannabis oil.

High Times Cannabis Cup presents the Magnolia booth

On Sunday we found Diane Fornbacher, publisher of Ladybud magazine, relaxing in Magnolia’s shady lounge area, as well as Debby Goldsberry, who sat down with us to talk about the process of judging the entries for Best Indica. We were thrilled when she opened up a tote bag containing the remains of her samples of all the entries, which she allowed us to examine, smell, and even smoke. But, while passing around one enormous joint after another, we were appalled to learn that Magnolia had accidentally been left off the ballot for Best Booth, since their space was clearly one of the best, and certainly our favorite at the Cannabis Cup.

We also stopped by DJ Short’s booth on both Saturday and Sunday. It was a rare privilege to chat about some of our favorite strains with the man who created them. The legendary breeder turned out to be laid back, down to earth, and very friendly. We were honored when he generously took the time to answer our questions and share a few tidbits of breeding wisdom with us, such as the fact that despite his reputation for producing uniquely flavorful genetics, he always prioritizes specific medicinal effects and then refines the flavors once he has achieved his desired therapeutic benefits.

DJ Short greets the faithful at the High Times Cannabis Cup

Eventually, we made our way back to the pavilion, where we encountered even more celebrities of the cannabis world while we all waited for the awards ceremony to begin. Then the ceremony kicked off with the announcement that Vader Extracts had won Best Booth, which didn’t come as much of a surprise based on the number of people seen crowded around their booth all weekend. Best Product went to Cloud Penz, and Best Glass to Hitman Glass.

San Francisco-based Madame Munchie took home the award for Best Edibles, for their artisanal cannabis macaroons. Madame Munchie explained to 91LIFE that their goal is to “create a new category in edibles, to offer patients something more than just medicine.” Some edibles are so potent, the average patient can only consume an impractically small portion without overmedicating, but these little cookies contain 20 mg of THC, a relatively mild dosage.

Valerie and Mike Corral win at that High Times Cannabis Cup

The most touching and dramatic portion of the evening came when the Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Valerie and Mike Corral, who founded the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, or WAMM, in 1993. WAMM is the oldest continually operating medical cannabis collective in the United States and is uniquely focused on serving those with terminal and chronic illnesses. After the DEA destroyed their garden in 2002, WAMM sued the federal government and won the right to replant and continue providing medicine to their patients. Valerie and Mike Corral were also instrumental to the passage of Proposition 215.

The first place award for Best Non-Solvent Hash went to Medi Brothers for their ice water hash made from Kottonmouth Kush x Strawberry Cough. Jenn Doe, the artisan who grew the flowers and created the hash, credited her skills to YouTube tutorials, and later revealed that “the secret to [her] win, from seed to finish,” is simply, “Give a shit.” She said, “I care, every step of the way… My two favorite strains plus lots of love and giving a shit equals winning hash.”

Los Angeles dispensary Gold Coast Collection won Best Hybrid with their Thin Mint Cookie. Gold Coast Collection has described this Girl Scout Cookies phenotype as “definitely a head turner,” and a favorite to grow. The winning strain for Best Sativa was Cracker Jack, “a piney, cheesy, mango-scented Jack Herer x G-13 phenotype” from Santa Cruz Mountain Naturals, who touted their “superior genetics” and “absolute attention to detail and unwavering commitment to true organic cultivation techniques.” Chem Scout, from IC Collective, was declared Best Indica.

Best Concentrate was announced last, emphasizing the extent to which concentrates were the main event for so many Cannabis Cup attendees. First place went to Gold Coast Extracts for their Hell Raiser OG, which was produced with material from TLC Collective, and which Gold Coast Extracts described as having “a very lemony candy flavor.”

High Times Cannabis Cup artisans display their concentrates

It was clear throughout our time at the Cannabis Cup that dab culture has become enormously influential. Wherever we turned, someone was either dabbing or offering us a dab. Glass displays were dominated by oil rigs, rather than familiar pipes and bongs. It took some effort to track down the people passing joints instead of dabbing wax and shatter, because that side of the Cannabis Cup was quieter and less conspicuous.

Ultimately, we had an excellent experience at the Cannabis Cup and sampled a fantastic selection of flowers. The cannabis community is evolving in new directions, and it remains to be seen whether concentrates will continue to predominate while buds become marginalized, or whether dabbing will turn out to be a passing fad. But we don’t begrudge those who prefer dabbing, and it’s unlikely that we need to be concerned about any lack of access to a diverse variety of expertly cultivated flowers. Despite our differences, we’re all part of the same cannabis community, standing up together to celebrate one remarkable plant.