Perpetual motion is Suzy Lanza's middle name. Honestly, the woman has a non-stop travel itinerary, constantly jumping from city to city, meeting and greeting, teaching and exciting. Having had drinks with her, I'll be the first to say that Firefly couldn't ask for a better saleswoman.
When you sit down with Suzy and talk cannabis, in her enthusiasm and her passion and her storytelling, she gets you excited about all the things she sees happening, from city to city to city, constantly on the lookout. Not for the sake of the next big thing, but the real deal. She's brainy, she's arty, she's into the mystic, so when Suzy Lanza makes a recommendation, I run, don't walk.
The future is now.photo: Elena Kulikova Photography
Hi there. I'm Suzy Lanza.
Since I've been working with Firefly, a vaporizer technology startup in SF, for a few years, I was asked to write about ten things I thought would be beneficial for people to learn about cannabis.
The current climate of working in the cannabis industry is one of constant change, and there is a lot of new knowledge to share. Doctors are trying to keep up with the evolving world of extraction, cultivation, and hardware technology for their studies. On the consumer side, cannabis dispensaries have lines out the door on vendor days with growers bringing in new custom products they have created. And, in the public policy sphere, very few people without a couple of law degrees understand all the legalese of the new laws being proposed.
Amidst all this growth, the common theme is that passionate people are devoting their time and effort to co-creating this new industry, and luckily, information flows so freely now that even if there is a lot of it to sort through, we can all share in this brand new knowledge together.
I outlined some of the key things I have learned from my first few years in the industry. My hope in writing this is that having more information about cannabis available to more people will allow everyone to have access to this plant sooner than later, which will increase the quality of life on this planet for our loved ones, and also increase the way we love our planet. :)
Thank you for reading..
Suzy LanzaCourtesy Suzy Lansa
10 Things I'd like People to Know about Cannabis:
1. Bans on research are truly hindering our current understanding of the vast medicinal value of this plant.
I will just leave that sentence right there. It's a powerful one, and my next few points help to explain just how powerful.
2. Cannabinoids are compounds within Cannabis.
Cannabinoids are compounds within Cannabis, and there are approximately 144 different ones. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of understanding what they are and how they interact with each other.
The cannabinoid THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is probably the best known cannabinoid, as it is the most common psychoactive compound that gets you high. THC is just one of these hundreds of cannabinoids. There is also is a cannabinoid called CBD (Cannabidiol) that seems to repair damage on cellular level, without getting you high. CBD is currently looked at as one of the most medicinally important molecules in cannabis, and, it was almost bred OUT of cannabis completely. This happened in a large part because when we were banned from studying this plant the only effect that was outwardly measurable was caused by the THC. So breeders kept growing plants with higher and higher THC. We didn't know 'pot' could do anything but get us high.
And during that time, we almost lost an extraordinarily healing medicine.
Currently, researchers think that there are about 144 cannabinoids, or even more! Different cannabinoids within this multifaceted plant. We have very little knowledge about what the other compounds do, and, how they work together. We are just starting to learn more about CBC, CBN, and CBG and how they interact with receptors in our body. The research continues to point to the fact that cannabis is an extraordinarily healing plant.
3. Terpenes are also a thing.
So, scientists are thinking there are 110+ cannabinoids. To add to this, there are also compounds called terpenes found in cannabis.
The way these compounds interact with cannabinoids changes the profile of the medicine. Like cannabinoids, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain and have a variety of effects. There are 6 main groups of terpenes, and they express themselves in ways like elevating one's mood, calming you down, or even suppressing appetite. So, as one would hope, labs are now beginning to test for terpene levels in addition to cannabinoid content.
4. Maintaining small batch outdoor grows will likely be very important to the future of this medicine.
As I mentioned earlier, CBD was almost breed out of cannabis, and because of that, THC levels are veryyy high now.
It was recently discovered you can balance out the psychoactive "high" of THC into a more balanced feeling by taking high doses of CBD. CBD will bring back a sense of calm if one's heart is racing or if you may feel paranoid. I think that will start to see breeders focus on growing plants that have a more balanced THC/CBD profile.
When I consume THC, I generally seek out a 1:1 balance of CBD and THC, as I find this to be a more controlled and mellow way to experience life. It all really comes down to what experience you are looking for.
In some ways, THC is starting to get a bad rap, and I want to point out that it helps tremendously with pain management, and it also potentiates the effects of CBD. Plants are very intelligent, and, numerous studies have shown that cannabis works best when you can access the entire plant with all the compounds working symbiotically together. As I talk about in my next point, this is precisely the reason my company makes the product we make.
5. You can modulate your "highs."
Due to all of the factors listed above, the method you choose to use to get cannabis into your system matters. For many years, joints, bongs, and edibles were the only way to consume cannabis. When using combustion, you heated the material so much you lost a lot of the active compounds. And with edibles, you were high for many, many hours- which works if you know how to control it, but, isn't for everyone, or for all settings.
In recent years, more and more vaporizers have entered the market. There are now hundreds of different makes and models.
My company Firefly, produces high-tech, convection vaporizers that work with both flower and wax (or you can say herb and shatter, bud and resin, there are so many words for this now!). It's one of the most technologically sophisticated devices on the market, and it takes the entire background of what I just wrote to explain to people why we made it the way we did, and why the way you use it is so much different than the way you use other vapes.
The Firefly utilizes a heating method our engineers created called dynamic convection, and it only heats up while you inhale. The vaporizer then continues heating through a range of temperatures that can be set with a BlueTooth app, but the crucial data point concerning the way it heats is that it starts at zero degrees, which allows a person to introduce every available cannabinoid and terpene into their system.
Most vaporizers are heated via conduction, and they pre-heat the plant matter (or the wax or dab..). So while you get instant hot vapor with conduction, you are losing many of the more delicate and medicinally valuable compounds. You can only get full-spectrum vapor with a convection vaporizer because the beneficial qualities of cannabinoids and terpenes can be seriously damaged if heated past their boiling point. Since our convection vape only heats while you inhale, you are keeping these compounds pristine and intact until you inhale them.
If you google the "Entourage effect" you will see why this concept of full-spectrum vapor really matters so much. And if you look around the market, you will quickly notice how few devices can deliver this quality of medicine.
6. Many e-cig vape pens are unsafe.
PSA: This can apply to either the construction of the e-cig, or the ingredients in the vapor you are ingesting.
Firefly doesn't have a e-pen vape yet because it is of the utmost importance to us that we are not harming anyone with our products. If we do decide to produce one (spoiler alert: we might!), it will not be manufactured using the toxic elements many e-cigettes on the market contain. One of the more common issues that is prevalent today is the instance of the nichrome wire heating element touching the liquid being ingested. This specific wire is very common in e-cigs, and, it gets thinner with use, so over time the coil is flaking off into the wax or liquid you are consuming and nanoparticles of the metal are getting into your lungs.
There are also chemicals in e-juices sold on the market that are known carcinogens and lung irritants.
If you use an e-cigarette, I suggest looking into the ingredients label, and also into the construction of the hardware itself.
Now onto a more lighthearted topic...
7. Giggling is not a crime.
We should have the right to choose to feel good, as long as this choice does not harm anyone else.
The side affects of cannabis are so so so minor compared to the negative effects of many other legalized substances available in our culture. The main thing that prohibitionists have seemed to have against cannabis is that, in short, it may cause euphoria.
Who decided to wage war against feeling good? There are many potential industries that can sell us things only when we are unhealthy or unhappy, but I am not going to go down that path. Instead, I am going to point out that the word Euphoria comes from the Latin word euphoros, meaning "healthy".
I strongly feel any negative potential side effects that may arise from cannabis consumption far outweigh what comes from overindulgence in alcohol. Or even fast food. Or too much coffee. Or, sleeping pills, followed by waking pills, and so on.
8. Endogenous cannabinoids.
On American soil. With American soil.
In these discordant political times, isn't new job creation one of the few things people from both political parties can agree on?
9. Cannabis is: neuro regentive, anti-tumor, antibacterial, anti-microbial, anti-spasmatic, anti-oxidant, immune modulating, antifungal, a bronchodilator, an immune stimulant.
neuro-protectant, which actually encourages brain-cell growth, and also nueroregentive, anti-tumor, antibacterial, anti-microbial, anti-spasmatic, anti-oxidant, immune modulating (boosts immune function), anti fungal. It is a bronchodilator, an immune stimulant, and an antinauseant,
It has analgesic effects, including for use in neuropathic pain and chronic nerve injury, and in neurological disorders.
It helps with chronic inflammation- including with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and cancer-related treatment.
It is also used as a treatment for anorexia, insomnia, chronic pain, cachexia, multiple sclerosis, seizures, epilepsy, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines, Crohn's disease, PTSD, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), spinal cord injuries, ALS, hepatitis C, sickle Cell disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Tourette syndrome, lupus, fibromyalgia, fibrous dysplasia, glaucoma, muscular dystrophy, and the list goes on.
Cannabis is THAT powerful.
10. In social terms, legal cannabis means all of these things (and more):
Less opioid addictions, vast public health benefits, less profiling against people of color for nonviolent crimes, more taxes available for the arts and education, and less suffering overall. It also means my younger brother may still be alive if this natural medicine had been available as a treatment for his brain tumor (and, this is just one of thousands of personal stories like this).
Rescheduling cannabis is the social issue of our lifetime. Please do what you can to re-educate anyone who may be holding on to stigmas which were created for political motives that exist far outside the realm of human compassion. It literally might save the life of someone you love.
Thanks for reading.
And be careful with those edibles!
(Pro-tip: nibble and wait two hours. Set a timer. I'm not even joking.)