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Qualitäts-Sicherung Cannabis Genussmittel Deutschland

Qualitätssicherung von Genussmittel-Cannabis - GMP oder doch was anderes?

Liebe Hanffreunde, die ihr im Moment voller Erwartungen dem Legalisierungs-Geschehen eure ungeteilte Aufmerksamkeit schenkt. 

Bald wird Cannabis in Deutschland auch als Genussmittel reguliert, und dabei steht natürlich nach wie vor ein unentschlossener Elefant im Raum: GMP ja oder nein, oder auch die große Frage nach der Qualitäts-Sicherung von Genussmittel-Cannabis.

Bald soll jeder und jede Deutsche, über einem gewissen Mindestalter, Cannabis-Blüten kaufen und konsumieren dürfen. Die Verantwortung der Gesetzgeber ist deshalb neben der Regulierung des anbietenden Marktes auch der Schutz der nachfragenden Konsumenten.

Die Beantwortung der Qualitätssicherungs-Frage war in den bisher stattfindenden Legalisierungs-Debatten im Vergleich zu anderen Themenkomplexen jedoch bei weitem nicht die meist besprochene Frage: 

Es ging vor allem um die Art und Weise der qualifizierten Abgabestellen, den umstrittenen Eigenanbau, die Beratung, jetzt wieder THC-Höchstgrenzen und ganz prominent der Dauerbrenner Vereinbarkeit mit internationalen Verträgen. 

Zwar behandeln im Moment einige Fragen der Debatte die Qualität von Cannabis-Produkten, zum Beispiel die der Produkt-Spezifikationen, (bspw. eine THC-Höchstgrenze) - über die Sicherung dieser Qualität im Produktions-Alltag wird hingegen kaum bis gar nicht gesprochen.

Dabei ist die Art und Weise sowie der Umfang der Qualitätssicherung von Cannabis zu Genusswecken einer der elementaren Entscheider, wie groß eine Produktions-Anlage mindestens sein muss, um wirtschaftlich bestehen zu können. Das gleiche gilt, je nach konkreter Formulierung des Gesetzes natürlich mehr oder weniger, auch für die Abgabestellen und Zwischenhändler.

Denn abhängig davon, wie viele Arbeitsstunden diese Unternehmen in die Sicherung ihrer Qualität stecken müssen, leitet sich ab, wie viel Umsatz eine Produktions-Firma monatlich machen muss, um die dafür qualifizierten Mitarbeiter oder externen Dienstleister für die Erledigung Qualitätssichernder Aufgaben zu bezahlen. 


Rechenbeispiel: Gefährdet Qualitäts-Sicherung die Entstehung eines durch Vielfalt und Inklusion geprägten Cannabis-Marktes?

Lass mich fix ein Beispiel kreieren, um aufzuzeigen, welchen Stellenwert die Art und Weise der Qualitätssicherung bei der Gestaltung des deutschen Genussmittel-Cannabis-Marktes einnehmen wird: Denn sie wird maßgeblich bestimmen, wie bunt und vielfältig der Markt am Ende aussieht. 

  • Mal angenommen, ein einzelner Gärtner erzeugt pro Monat 3kg getrocknete Blüten als small batch grower. Sagen wir, es sind 3kg aus 3 verschiedenen Strains - also drei verschiedene Chargen. Er kann jede seiner Chargen für 3.000€ das kg verkaufen (evtl. auch mehr, aber nach dem Steuermodell von Justus Haucap wird das schwierig).
    • Nehmen wir an, dass die Freigabe einer Charge nach GMP und dem DAB um die 1‘500€ alleine für die Labortests kostet, wären das mindestens 4‘500€ Qualitätssicherungskosten pro Monat für die Freigabe der drei Chargen des small batch growers.
    • Diese monatlichen 4.500 € Test-Kosten für drei Chargen stehen einem Monats-Umsatz von 9.000 Euro aus diesen drei Chargen gegenüber, was natürlich DEUTLICH mehr ins Gewicht fällt, als wenn aus einem Gewächshaus 40kg-Chargen für (nur) 800€ das kg verkauft werden.
    • Denn: Im Fall unserer edlen craft-grower-one-man-army mit teurem Verkaufspreis hätten die Qualitäts-Sicherungskosten unserem Beispiel folgend einen Anteil von 50% !, im zweiten Fall des Discounter-Produktes aus dem Gewächshaus beliefen sie sich auf nicht einmal 5%!
    • Damit wäre der Anteil der Qualitätssicherungskosten gemessen am Umsatz beim günstigen, in Massen produzierten Gewächshaus-Produkt zehn Mal geringer als beim small-batch craft-grower!

Ich habe diese Rechnung vorne angestellt, um eine Idee zu geben, wie stark Qualitätssicherungskosten auf die laufenden Kosten eines Unternehmens drücken können. Und zwar fallen sie bei hoher Sortenvielfalt und kleinen Chargen existenziell stark ins Gewicht und bei mutmaßlich lieblos hergestellten Massenprodukten fast bis gar nicht. 

Die Betonung liegt auf können, denn noch wissen wir ja zum Glück nicht genau, wie Chargen für den Genussmittel-Markt freigegeben werden müssen. Wir wissen noch nicht einmal die Spezifikationen des Endproduktes. Doch vielleicht ist jetzt ein guter Zeitpunkt gekommen, die Qualitätssicherungs-Frage einmal ein wenig zu erörtern.

Die bestehenden Qualitäts-Sicherungs-Standards für medizinisches Cannabis im Fokus

Seit 2017 ist medizinisches Cannabis in Deutschland verfügbar. Die qualitätsbestimmenden Spezifikationen, für medizinisches Cannabis finden sich für Deutschland im Deutschen Arzneimittelbuch. Darin sind beispielsweise die Schwellenwerte für Schwermetalle, Mykotoxine oder Pestizid-Rückstände festgelegt. 

Der Standard für Qualitätssicherungssysteme in der medizinischen Cannabis-Produktion und -Distribution werden durch die GxP-Guidelines vorgegeben, worunter auch GMP, GDP und GACP fallen.

GMP, good manufacturing practices, ist dabei der Standard für alle Herstellungsprozesse und enthält als Kapitel bzw. Anhang auch den GACP Standard, good agricultural and collection practices, welche die Rahmenbedingungen und Qualitätssicherungs-Anforderungen für den Heilpflanzen-Anbau regeln. 

Wichtiges Detail: Kein End-Produkt erreicht den Patienten am Ende der Wertschöpfungskette ohne GMP-Standard und keine Pflanze im deutschen Medizinal-Cannabis-System wird nicht unter GACP-Bedingungen hergestellt. 

Keine Produkt-Freigabe ohne GMP

Die finale Chargenfreigabe wird unter dem GMP-Rahmenwerk abgeschlossen, als Regel gilt, dass nach dem letzten Arbeitsschritt unter GACP weitere Schritte bis zur Chargenfreigabe unter GMP stattfinden. Denn GACP als Qualitäts-Standard ist per Definition gar nicht darauf ausgelegt, Produkte final freizugeben. Im GACP-Rahmenwerk heißt es dazu übrigens konkret: 

In order to ensure appropriate and consistent quality of medicinal plant/herbal substances it is necessary to establish good agricultural and collection practice for herbal starting materials (GACP). The concept of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for the manufacture, processing, packaging and storage of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) also applies to medicinal plants/herbal substances.  

Source

Deshalb ist es in meinen Augen nicht zielführend, die Frage nach dem entweder GACP ODER GMP zu stellen. Denn wer GACP fordert, muss ab einer bestimmten Stelle im Produktions-Prozess unweigerlich auch den GMP-Weg bestreiten, um Produkt-Chargen marktfähig freizugeben - oder im Rahmen des Genussmittel-Marktes eigene Gesetze oder Rahmenwerke auf den Weg bringen, unter denen die Produkt-Freigabe und Validierung aufgestellter Spezifikationen stattfindet.

Dass GACP nicht ohne GMP geht, wird dem entsprechend auch in der momentanen Medizinischen Cannabis Praxis deutlich: Bei Anbietern von Medizinal-Cannabis-Blüten als Endprodukt werden Arbeitsschritte wie Trimmung, Sortierung und Verpackung, und seit der neuesten Bekanntgabe des BfArM auch die Trocknung, unter GMP durchgeführt. 

Bei der Verwendung von Cannabis-Blüten zur weiteren Extraktion hingegen können Prozesse wie Trocknung und Zerkleinerung der Blüten und die Verpackung als Rohstoff rein unter GACP stattfinden, solange der Verkauf des GACP-Materials vertraglich mit einem pharmazeutischen GMP Abnehmer geregelt ist, welcher die Weiterverarbeitung unter GMP durchführt, in dem Fall unseres Beispiels mindestens den Schritt der Extraktion.

Kann Cannabis allein durch GACP reguliert werden?

Viele Befürworter eines bunten Marktes mit small batches, kleinen Produzenten und vielen Genetiken wünschen sich im Moment, Genussmittel-Cannabis rein unter GACP zu regulieren. 

Ein paar Gründe dafür, dass dies eigentlich so nicht möglich ist, haben wir bereits aufgezählt. Doch es geht noch weiter: Die Einhaltung des GACP-Standards lässt sich in Deutschland nicht durch eine staatliche Stelle zertifizieren. Wie können so Verantwortlichkeiten geregelt werden?

Die Prüfung auf Güte und Konsistenz der Ausführung eines Qualitäts-Sicherungssystems nach GACP obliegt der Verantwortung des einkaufenden GMP-Betriebes. Denn der GMP-Betrieb muss im Rahmen seiner Sorgfaltspflichten, auf die er wiederum von einer staatlichen Stelle geprüft und zertifiziert wird, seine GACP-Zulieferer prüfen. 

Angenommen, Cannabis-Betriebe würden rein nach dem GACP-Standard produzieren - welche Institution in Deutschland sollte sie dafür prüfen und zertifizieren, wenn der Betrieb selbst Produkte herstellen möchte, die er marktfertig verkaufen möchte? 

Es wird deutlich, dass GACP als Rahmenwerk zur Regulierung der gesamten Wertschöpfungskette eines Cannabis-Marktes nicht ausreicht. So zum Beispiel ist auch das laufenden Schweizer Pilot-Projekt, soweit es geht, nach GACP reguliert, die finalen Freigabeschritte und Grenzwerte für Cannabis-Produkte werden von der Schweiz jedoch explizit zusätzlich im Gesetzestext spezifiziert. In Artikel 9 und 10 der Verordnung über Pilotversuche nach dem Betäubungsmittelgesetz (BetmPV) werden sowohl Produkt-Spezifikationen, als auch nötige Freigabetests definiert. Die Probenahme ist nach den Vorgaben der Europäischen Pharmakopoe definiert, die Grenzwerte für Schwermetalle, Mykotoxine und andere Schadstoffe sind im Anhang des Gesetzes zu finden. Der THC-Wert für Cannabis-Produkte des Pilotprojekts ist auf 20% limitiert. 

Diese zusätzlichen Regelungen sind nötig, weil der GACP-Standard eben vor allem die Regeln an die Anbau-Bedingungen von Heilpflanzen definiert. Während es bei der Produktion von Arzneimitteln viele messbare Größen im Rahmen von Teil-Prozessen gibt, welche durch In-Prozess-Kontrollen dokumentiert und validiert werden können, sehen die Arzneimittelbehörden ein, dass der Anbau von Pflanzen, vor allem outdoor, im Vergleich deutlich mehr unkontrollierbaren Einflussgrößen unterliegt. 

GACP wurde geschaffen, um dem unvorhersehbaren Pflanzenwachstum gerecht zu werden

Denn während die Herstellung von Impfstoffen oder Tabletten in Reinräumen unter immer gleichen Klimabedingungen stattfinden kann und sich das Einfüllen eines Reagenzglases auf den Milliliter genau kontrollieren lässt, ist das Wachstum von Pflanzen deutlich unberechenbarer. Deshalb wurde von den Arzneimittelbehörden der GACP-Standard geschaffen, um auf die Unvorhersehbarkeit im Wachstum von Heilpflanzen Rücksicht zu nehmen. 

Die wichtigsten Aspekte, die GACP an ein Qualitäts-Sicherungs-System definiert, sind folgende: 

  • Schulung der Mitarbeiter
  • Verantwortungsbewusster Einsatz von Chemikalien
  • Dokumentieren eingesetzter Chemikalien und ausgeführter Arbeitsschritte
  • Definition von Standard-Arbeits-Anweisungen
  • Reinigungs- und Hygiene-Konzepte
  • Unversehrtheit der Mitarbeiter
  • Regelmäßige Wartung der eingesetzten Geräte
  • Kalibrierung von Düngecomputern und Geräten zur Applikation von Pflanzenschutzmitteln
  • Verhinderung von Kreuzkontamination
  • Sicherstellung der Rückverfolgbarkeit in eine Chargen-Produktion eingeflossener Ausgangsstoffe und Zusätze sowie die weitere Verwendung einer Charge
  • Charchierungsregeln
  • Dokumentation von Käufer-Spezifikationen
  • Beschreibung der Produktions-Stätten und deren geografische Verortung
  • Qualität des verwendeten Gießwassers
  • Aufbewahrungs-Frist von Dokumenten
  • Eliminierung von Risiken

Das sind schon mal eine ganze Menge relevanter Punkte, über die sich ein Anbau-Betrieb nach GACP Gedanken machen und entsprechende Prozesse formulieren, ablegen und implementieren muss, um die Einhaltung dieser Rahmenpunkte zu gewährleisten.

GMP geht jedoch noch ein wenig weiter, und zwar in den Punkten: 

  • Testen und Validieren der Artikel-Spezifikationen mit anschließender Chargen-Freigabe
  • In-Prozess-Kontrollen 
  • Abweichungs-Management
  • Benennung verantwortlicher Personen für die Qualitäts-Sicherung und Qualitäts-Kontrolle
  • Konstante Einhaltung von Umwelt-Parametern
  • Anfertigung einer umfangreichen Risiko-Analyse für Prozesse und eingesetzte Maschinen
  • Rückruf-Prozesse
  • Benennung einer Verantwortlichen Person, welche über ein abgeschlossenes Hochschulstudium und mindestens vier Jahre theoretische und praktische Erfahrung im pharmazeutischen, medizinischen, chemischen oder biologischen Fachbereich verfügen.

Während die GACP-Richtlinie also schon sehr viele Punkte abbildet, geht die GMP-Richtlinie noch ein Stück weiter. Die zusätzlichen Punkte mögen sich nach nicht viel anhören, jedoch hat es die Erfüllung jeden einzelnen Punktes in sich. Und zwar in Arbeitsstunden und Kosten gerechnet. Allein die Kalibrierung aller eingesetzten Messgeräte zum Validieren der Prozess-Parameter ist sehr aufwändig, ganz zu schweigen von der Dokumentation und korrekten Ablage aller Freigabeergebnisse. 

Limitierung der Anwendung des GMP-Standards auf Genussmittel

Doch da GMP als Teil des pharmazeutischen Qualitäts-Universums vor allem darauf ausgelegt ist, eindeutige Produkt-Spezifikationen Charge für Charge zu validieren, gibt es für den Cannabis-Genussmittel-Markt deutlichen Spielraum. Denn bei verschriebenen Medikamenten ist es natürlich für sowohl den Arzt, als auch den Patienten wichtig, dass die einmal für wirkungsvoll befundenen Inhalts-Stoff-Gehalte eines Arzneimittels über den gesamten Zeitraum der Therapie gleich sind, Charge für Charge. 

Im Genussmittel-Bereich geht es in der Qualitäts-Sicherung jedoch vor allem um Gesundheits-Schutz, also die Bewahrung vor Krankheiten und nicht deren Behandlung. Nehmen wir zum Beispiel alkoholische Getränke: Es gibt gewisse Grenzwerte für Fuselstoffe oder Schwermetalle, die für alle Produkte der Kategorie gleich oder ähnlich sind, der Konsument kann sich jedoch trotzdem ohne Beeinträchtigung der gewünschten Wirkung aussuchen, welchen Alkohol-Gehalt sein alkoholisches Getränk haben soll. Mag der Konsument oder die Konsumentin einen geringen Rausch bei hohem Volumen, greift er zum Bier. Ist ein hohes Rausch-Potential bei geringem Volumen präferiert, wird zum Schnaps gegriffen. Beide Varianten können zu einem ähnlichen bis gleichen Rausch führen. Wichtig im Sinne des Verbraucherschutzes ist dabei lediglich, dass der Alkohol-Gehalt auf dem Produkt angegeben ist und alle lebensrechtlichen Standards eingehalten werden. 

Auch bei Cannabis als Genussmittel kann ich mir vorstellen, dass diese Regelung zur Anwendung kommen kann. Und zwar wahlweise chargenweise. Die Einhaltung von Schwermetall-Grenzwerten, Pilzsporen und anderen schadhaften Fremdstoffen sollte natürlich höchste Priorität haben, denn schließlich werden viele Cannabis-Produkte inhaliert - werden unserem Kreislauf also in einem unserer sensibelsten Organe zugeführt, der Lunge. 

Keine Notwendigkeit konstanter THC-Werte von Charge zu Charge

Der THC-Wert und Konzentration anderer gewünschter Inhaltsstoffe kann hingegen schwanken, ohne die Gesundheit des Konsumenten zu beeinträchtigen. Eine klare Beratung dazu vorausgesetzt, kann der Konsument schließlich mit Blick auf den THC-Wert ziemlich genau abschätzen, ob er jetzt einen dicken Joint rauchen sollte oder aber ein kleiner Bong-Hut auch schon reicht, um den angestrebten Rausch-Zustand zu erreichen. 

Um diesen Grad des Verbraucher-Schutzes einzuhalten, muss der Produzent von Cannabis-Blüten für den Genussmittel-Markt meiner Ansicht nach NICHT Charge für Charge konstant gleiche Wirkstoff-Werte abliefern. Es sollte im Genussmittel-Bereich meiner Ansicht nach auch kein Problem sein dürfen, als Produzent die angebauten Sorten oft zu wechseln oder mehrere Sorten auf einmal anzubauen. 

Denn das Risiko der Aufnahme von Schwermetallen, Mykotoxinen oder mikrobiell belastenden Stoffen unterscheidet sich, gleiche Anbauweise vorausgesetzt, von Sorte zu Sorte nur marginal und kann vor allem durch Kontrolle und sorgfältige Auswahl der Ausgangs-Stoffe wie Dünger und Substrat schon weitgehend minimiert werden. Dafür benötigt es meiner Ansicht nach deshalb keine einzelnen Tests jeder einzelnen Charge, wenn mehrere Chargen unter den gleichen Bedingungen unter Anwendung der gleichen Ausgangs-Stoffe kultiviert und verarbeitet wurden. 

Risikobasierte Qualitäts-Kontrolle

Im Idealfall werden die ersten beiden Chargen, welche unter einer bestimmten Anbaumethode unter Einsatz spezifizierter Ausgangs-Stoffe hergestellt wurden, initial auf die riskanten Stoffe getestet und alle folgenden Chargen müssen dann nicht mehr auf diese Grenzwerte getestet werden, da sich das System als sicher erwiesen hat. Eventuell müsste man nach einem gewissen Zeitraum wieder auf Schwermetalle und Co. testen, um die Sicherheit des Systems erneut zu bestätigen, ähnlich wie beim TÜV. 

Wo meiner Einschätzung nach jedoch kein Weg vorbei führen sollte, sind chargenbasierte Tests des THC-Wertes und anderer Cannabinoide, welche einen Rausch herbeiführen können. Denn der Verlauf des Anbaus einer Pflanzen-Charge ist nicht vorhersehbar, was ja einer der Hauptgründe für die Schaffung des GACP-Standards war. Zum Schutz des Verbrauchers ist es deshalb essentiell, jede einzelne Charge auf THC-Werte und Co zu testen. Und mit Gemmacert und anderen erschwinglichen Test-Instrumenten dieser Werte gibt es ja bereits ISO 17025 zertifizierte Geräte, mit welchen man diese Messwerte kosteneffizient ausmessen kann. 

Außerdem bin ich überzeugt, dass jeder verpflichtende Test für Cannabis als Genussmittel die Test-Industrie soweit beflügelt, dass sich durch den markttechnischen Wettbewerb aus Angebot und Nachfrage Analyse-Tests zu erschwinglichen Preisen entwickeln werden. 

Keine GMP-Chargenfreigaben: Drastische Senkung der Qualitäts-Sicherungs-Kosten für kleine Unternehmen

Wie teuer die Qualitäts-Sicherung für die Produzenten am Ende im täglichen Produktionsalltag wird, ist also maßgeblich abhängig davon, welche Parameter wie oft getestet werden müssen. Wenn lediglich der Anteil bestimmter Cannabinoide chargenbezogen getestet werden muss, sieht die Rechnung für unsere one-man-army aus dem ersten Beispiel nämlich schon viel besser aus: 

Angenommen der Craft Grower beschafft sich ein Gemmacert Analyse-Gerät für 5.000 €, abgeschrieben auf drei Jahre, kostet ihn das Messgerät pro Jahr etwa 1.700 €, wobei es nach drei Jahren abbezahlt ist. Die Testung einer Charge mit einem solchen in-house-Test würde dann nur noch etwa 50€ kosten, wenn wir nach wie vor davon ausgehen, dass pro Monat drei Chargen hergestellt werden. Der Anteil der Testung gemessen am Umsatz wäre dann nur noch etwa 1,6% statt 50% aus dem ersten Beispiel! 

Natürlich kommen zusätzlich noch die Kosten für das initiale Testen auf Schwermetalle und Mykotoxine hinzu, um das Anbausystem als risikoarm zu validieren, aber das ist doch schon mal eine DEUTLICHE Senkung der bremsenden Qualitäts-Sicherungskosten. 

GMP für Genussmittel Cannabis - ja oder nein? Die Mischung macht's.

Eine der großen Fragen dieses Beitrages ist natürlich nach wie vor, ob GMP ja oder nein. Ich denke, wenn nicht jede Charge auf alle möglichen riskanten Fremdstoffe getestet werden muss, sondern ein Anbausystem lediglich validiert werden soll, braucht es zwar kein GMP, jedoch nach wie vor viele Elemente von GMP. 

Denn irgendwo muss ja festgehalten werden, welche Maßnahmen unternommen werden, um die Konsistenz eines einmalig validierten Prozesses auf Zeit zu gewährleisten. Dies kann lediglich sichergestellt werden, wenn die standardmäßige Ausführung von Prozessen irgendwo definiert ist. 

Zur Vermeidung von E-Koli im Endprodukt sollte beispielsweise irgendwo festgehalten werden, dass sich Mitarbeiter nach dem Klogang die Hände waschen. Auch die Verwendung der kontaminationsarmen Dünger und Substrate sollte festgehalten werden sowie die Regeln für die Ausbringung von Pflanzenschutzmitteln. Da auch Ernte-Werkzeuge oder Trimmer die Cannabis-Produkte mit Schwermetallen kontaminieren können, sollte auch die standardmäßige Verwendung dieser Geräte in den Dokumenten des Produzenten festgehalten sein. 

Andere Produktions-Bedingungen, deren Werte beim finalen Testen ermittelt werden, sollten jedoch nicht verpflichtend im Qualitäts-System des Unternehmens festgehalten werden müssen, wozu ich zum Beispiel das Testen des Feuchtigkeitsgehalts nach dem Trocknen zählen würde. Der Feuchtigkeitsgehalt des Endproduktes kann schließlich bei der finalen Freigabekontrolle direkt mitgemessen werden, zum Beispiel unter Einsatz eines Gemmacert-Messgerätes.  

GMP und GACP sind keine Bestrafung

Viele sehen die Arbeit nach den Rahmenwerken GMP oder GACP wie eine Art Bestrafung, aber neben aller regulatorischen Notwendigkeit hilft die Auseinandersetzung mit diesen Themen natürlich ungemein, ein erfolgreiches und nachhaltiges Unternehmen zu führen. Stell dir zum Beispiel mal vor, der Produktions-Leiter hat einen Autounfall und fällt unvorhergesehen für ein paar Tage bis Monate aus. 

Jedem Unternehmen würde es in einem solchen Fall stark helfen, die Details der Ausführung gewisser Arbeits-Schritte in schriftlicher Form wiederzufinden. Denn nur so gelingt es, die Qualität, für die ein Unternehmen bei den Abnehmern bekannt ist, auch in solch einem Ausnahmefall zu gewährleisten. Wenn das auch ohne gelingt, sollte man evtl die Notwendigkeit der Position des Produktions-Leiters in Frage stellen und auf flache Hierarchien zurückzugreifen ;)

Auch ist es hilfreich, gewisse Notfall-Maßnahmen in Standard-Prozess-Anweisungen festzuhalten. Dazu zählt beispielsweise das Verhalten im Brandfall oder eine Richtlinie für den Umgang mit Chemikalien. Denn der Anbau von Pflanzen kommt nicht ohne gesundheitliche Risiken, was jeder bestätigen kann, der schon einmal mit pH-Minus in Berührung gekommen ist. Und man will sich und seine Mitarbeiter definitiv nicht den Gefahren einer Hautverätzung aussetzen. 

Qualitäts-Sicherungs-Systeme als Basis der Kundenbindung und Verhinderung von Shitstorms

Nicht zuletzt helfen Qualitäts-Sicherungs-Systeme bei der Verhinderung von Shitstorms und Vermeidung unzufriedener Kunden. Unter solchen Umständen kann die Beständigkeit eines Unternehmens nachhaltig geschädigt werden und im schlimmsten Fall seiner Existenz-Grundlage beraubt werden. Chargen also bestmöglich auf Einhaltung der eigenen Qualitäts-Ansprüche vor dem Versand zu kontrollieren, sollte meiner Meinung nach ein absoluter no-brainer sein. Und je mehr man die eigenen Prozesse standardisiert hat, desto weniger muss am Ende Charge für Charge getestet werden und desto geringer ist am Ende der Anteil fehlerhaften Chargen, welche zwar Strom und Dünger konsumiert, aber der Firma keinen Verkaufserlös eingebracht haben.

Im GMP-Umfeld wird dies auch „Qualität nach Design“ genannt. Das bedeutet, dass Prozesse und Anlagen so gestaltet sind, dass Kontamination und Qualitätsbeeinträchtigungen von vornherein minimiert oder sogar ausgeschlossen werden. 

Regelmäßige Kalibrierung von Mess-Sonden in der Bewässerungs-Technik wäre zum Beispiel ein Punkt der GACP-Richtlinie, dessen Einhaltung dem Produzenten von Cannabis-Blüten ungemein dabei hilft, die Produktions-Bedingungen soweit im Griff zu haben, dass, im Zweifel unerkannte, Überdüngungen oder pH-Schwankungen gar nicht erst eintreten. 

Genauso verhält es sich mit klar definierten Reinigungs-Richtlinien, welche dabei helfen, möglichen Kontaminationen den Nährboden zu nehmen.

Ein letzter Punkt von GMP, den ich für den Cannabis Genussmittel-Markt für absolut relevant halte, ist das Vorhalten klar definierter Rückruf-Prozesse. Denn sollte sich herausstellen, dass eine freigegebene Charge durch Dritte für unzulässig getestet wurde, so muss es ein System geben, um jeden Empfänger dieser Charge informieren zu können, dass der Konsum dieser Charge allenfalls gesundheitliche Risiken mit sich zieht. 

Abgrenzung zu GMP - Keine Lösung für den Cannabis-Genussmittel-Markt

Da es für Cannabis als Genussmittel meiner Einschätzung nach nicht darum gehen sollte, als Unternehmen Produkte mit engen Spezifikationen anzumelden, wie es im Arzneimittel-Bereich zur Sicherstellung des Therapie-Erfolgs der Fall ist, wird der GMP-Standard wohl nicht geeignet sein, um den Anforderungen des Genuss-Mittel-Marktes abzudecken. Denn der Genussmittel-Markt sollte durch Weglassen starrer Produkt-Anmeldungen genetische und unternehmerische Vielfalt zulassen dürfen. 

Jedoch finde ich, dass viele Aspekte aus dem GMP und GACP-Bereich auch bei der Qualitäts-Sicherung von Genussmittel-Cannabis sinnvoll Anwendung finden können. Denn Cannabis-Blüten werden mehrheitlich inhaliert und die Lunge ist ein sehr sensibles Organ, welches nachträglich geschädigt werden kann und deshalb besonders schutzbedürftig ist.

Ich finde, hier gibt uns die Schweiz ein sehr gutes Vorbild, indem für ihr Pilotprojekt GACP für den Anbau spezifiziert ist und die Anforderungen an alle weiteren Schritte der Wertschöpfungs-Kette bis zum freigegeben Produkt, die sonst unter GMP geregelt wären, im Gesetzestext klar definiert sind. Auch die Produkt-Spezifikationen mit all ihren Grenzwerten sind für das Schweizer Pilotprojekt fest im BetmPV verankert, lassen jedoch mit erlaubten +- 15% Abweichung von den auf der Verpackung angegebenen Wirkstoffwerten viel Spielraum bei der Chargenfreigabe verarbeiteter Produkte. Unverarbeitete Produkte dürfen sogar +-25% vom angegebenen Wert abweichen.

Die Regelung der Schweiz lässt noch einen weiteren, für einen bunten, vielfältigen Markt wichtigen Punkt erkennen: Durch den Mix aus GACP und Gesetz, fällt für Produzenten die Benennung der Verantwortlichen Person (in der Schweiz "fachtechnisch verantwortlichen Person") weg - freie Bahn für Produzenten ohne komplizierten Hochschulabschluss!

Die deutsche Regierung zwischen den Fronten

Ich möchte nicht in der Rolle der Regierungs-Parteien stecken, welche momentan den Spagat zwischen einfachem Marktzugang für Produzenten auf der einen und erfolgreichem Verbraucherschutz auf der anderen Seite ausführen müssen. Man wird es definitiv nicht allen Recht machen können. Aber das letzte was wir alle wollen, ist eine Umkehr der Legalisierung, weil sich herausstellt, dass viele Konsumenten mit Lungenembolie ins Krankenhaus eingeliefert werden mussten oder sie eine höhere Schwermetall-Belastung als nach der letzten Sushi-Session mit nach Hause genommen haben. 

Dieser Punkt ist sicherlich einer der Beweggründe für die teilweise ablehnende Haltung der Politiker zum Eigenanbau. Aber auch da würde ich ähnlich wie beim professionellen Anbau ansetzen, mit dem Unterschied, die Qualitäts-Sicherung nicht verpflichtend zu machen. Im Endeffekt trägt der Eigenanbauer ja im Idealfall lediglich die Verantwortung für seine eigene Gesundheit und Selbstschädigung ist in Deutschland ja bekanntermaßen nicht illegal. 

Für Patienten, welche die hohen Anforderungen an ein Cannabis-Rezept nicht erfüllen und sensible Körper von rein freizeitlichen Cannabis-Genießern, welche ihr Cannabis selbst anbauen, sollte es deshalb Möglichkeiten der Testung des Eigenanbaus geben. Sei es in speziellen Test-Zentren, an welche man per Post (mit entsprechender Kennzeichnung) seine Proben senden kann oder das Testen in Apotheken, möchte ich an der Stelle komplett offen lassen. Auch, ob die Kosten für solche Tests vom Staat übernommen oder teilweise übernommen werden sollten, gebe ich gerne zur Diskussion frei. 

Unterscheidung der Grenzwerte zwischen cannabishaltigen Lebensmitteln und Produkten zur Inhalation

Was mir noch wichtig ist, wäre eine Unterscheidung der Anforderungen an Cannabis-Genussmittel zur oralen und inhalativen Aufnahme. Denn die gesetzlich zulässigen Grenzwerte an Schwermetalle und andere Schadstoffe sind für Lebensmittel teilweise deutlich höher als für Produkte, die inhaliert werden. In diesem Aspekt sollte Cannabis natürlich gleich mit anderen Lebensmitteln gestellt sein.

Bei pflanzlichen Ausgangs-Materialien zur Herstellung von Edibles und anderen cannabishaltigen Lebensmitteln sollten meiner Ansicht nach deshalb die Regeln für Lebensmittelsicherheit gelten, unter die auch Tomaten oder Bier reguliert sind. Natürlich auch hier ganz wichtig, zusätzlich den Wirkstoffgehalt der Chargen entweder prozessual zu standardisieren oder chargenbezogen auszumessen, um den Konsumenten eine Indikation über die zu erwartende Wirkung des Produktes zu geben. 

Das waren mal meine Gedanken zur Thematik, doch jetzt seid ihr gefragt: Habt ihr Ideen, wie eine sinnvolle Qualitäts-Sicherung für Genussmittel-Cannabis aussehen kann? Schreibt es gerne in die Kommentare!


Greenception-Seriex-X-Research-Gardens-grow-light-cannabis-best-spectrum

Grow LED 1/3 - which light spectrum does Cannabis love?

The featured image shows the Greenception Series X Cannabis Grow LED.  

The cannabis plant is one of the most diverse plants on the planet. It can be consumed for the purpose of recreational relief or to cure and relieve various diseases and symptoms. The fibers of the plant can even be made into paper to write the American Declaration of Independence on it.

But at the beginning there is always a small cannabis seed in front of you or your breeder. There is still a lot to do before this tiny plant becomes a plant up to four meters high with resinous flowers. In this article series we will only deal with one of the most important and probably most complex of all components: the light. In this article series we introduce you to the entire complexity of this extensive topic, because light is by no means just light. For example, the plant sees light completely differently as we humans do. Literally.

PAR-Spektrum Cannabis

SL: The graph shows at which light wavelengths (colors) human beings can see the brightest.

PAR: The graph shows at which wavelengths of light (colors) plants can see the brightest.

The future of cannabis lighting is LED

Since we at Research Gardens have already fully arrived at the future and have the planet and your electricity bill in mind, there are only LEDs to marvel at in this post. On the one hand, the small semiconductors are very efficient in using electricity and, on the other hand, they can precisely map the types of light required by the plants. This means that, in contrast to conventional light sources, LEDs do not generate excessive waste heat and the right colored light shines precisely on the plants.

Sustainability is key

Even the German nature conservation association NABU recommends LEDs because they are mercury-free and can withstand frequent powering on and off for a very long time without any problems. When using an LED in your cannabis cultivation operation, you do not have to install any energy-guzzling cooling elements, because in contrast to conventional lamps, LEDs generate significantly lower temperatures and the dangerous 30-degree mark is only reached much later compared to HPS lamps.

Wavelengths and light colors as the key to the right light for optimal cannabis plants

When we talk about plant lighting, we should first analyze the exact needs of plants for light. For the aspect of light, we take solar radiation as a reference, because all plants have evolved to adapt to the light spectrum and the intensity of sunlight over millions of years and make optimal use of them with the help of special characteristics. Such features include, for example, the photosynthetic active mesophyll plant tissue, where the photoplastics generate energy from light.

Wavelengths over day

Source: GICON

It starts with a representation of the light spectrum generated by the sun with corresponding intensities at noon (upper graph) and evening (lower graph):

This light arrives somewhere on earth. A spectrum from less than 400nm light wavelength to over 800nm radiated by the sun is very clearly visible. The spectrum ranges from invisible UV light to blue, green and red to invisible infrared light. It is very clear to see that the light intensity differs greatly over the course of the day, due to the different angles of incidence of the sun over the course of the day. The intensities of individual wavelengths in comparison to one another also change over the course of the day. We keep these observations in mind.

But not all light that arrives on earth is used equally by the plant.

A scientist called McCree had already carried out investigations on this subject in the 1970s in order to assess at which wavelengths a leaf shows photosynthesis activity and how strongly photosynthesis is carried out. With the help of light filters, McCree irradiated the leaves with isolated wavelengths of the natural light spectrum and quantified (measured) the strength of photosynthesis by the amount of CO2 absorbed by the leaves for each individual light color.

CO2, carbon dioxide, is what a plant needs as a raw material for photosynthesis and with the help of the effectively processed amount of carbon dioxide it can be estimated to what extent a plant is photosynthesizing.

The result is the “photosynthetic action spectrum”, shown in second position in the graphic below. In parallel to the action spectrum, the two pigments in the leaf were examined, which were thought to be responsible for photosynthesis, in order to determine the so-called absorption spectrum: Chlorophyll A and B. To this end, it was measured which wavelengths were absorbed by the isolated pigments (chlorophyll A and B) and how much. Later, the pigment carotenoid was additionally discovered, which takes on regulating and also absorbing and thus energy-generating tasks in the context of photosynthesis.

peaks chlorophyll A and B sun radiation photosynthesis

It is easy to see that both the absorption and the photosynthetic action spectrum use blue and red components particularly efficiently.

Nice to know at this point: Because green light is used less efficiently for photosynthesis and cannot be absorbed to the same extent as red and blue light, a certain proportion of the green light is reflected and the leaves appear green to us human beings. Experts also call this observation the green gap.

Good to know: While the plant mainly “see” blue and red light, we humans have our peak in exactly the opposite direction, our eyes perceive green light particularly strongly and red and blue less so. This is where humans differ from plants regarding to light sensitivity.

PAR-Spektrum Cannabis

However, for some reasons, we should also take green light seriously when it comes to cannabis plant lighting:

In the past, many LED lamp manufacturers used the absorption spectrum as a basis for developing their own LED plant grow lights. A negligent mistake, as some analyzes of existing research show:

Photosynthese grünes Licht hilfreich Cannabis
source

This illustration shows very well that it makes a big difference whether one examines pigments in isolation or the whole plant. “Whole Leaf” in the diagram on the left shows very clearly that the plant absorbs 70% of light in the green spectrum despite of the efficiency of the isolated chloroplasts examinations.

The illustration on the right underpins this observation by showing that complex, multi tissue crop plants such as cannabis, beans or maize use green light almost as much as blue light for photosynthesis. In comparison, the green alga "Ulva", which is only two cell layers thin, hardly uses the green spectrum photosynthetically. But its structure is also way much more like the isolated pigments were arranged in the first experiments to this topic.

This very detail is quite important: The isolated pigments and the very small thickness of the green algae. Because a big structural difference between more complex plants like cannabis and isolated pigments or the thin-layer ulva is the leaf thickness. Green light is especially absorbed by the deeper leaf layers, the mesophyll. This is done to prevent damage at the cellular level and to use the natural sunlight as efficiently as possible over the entire light spectrum for energy generation by means of photosynthesis. As I said, plants have worked continuously over the past 4 billion years to adapt to naturally occurring sunlight.

mesophyll stomata palisade schwammgebewe cannabis leaf blatt

source

PAR and MAR-Spectra

Red, green and blue light is not only absorbed by the plant with different degrees of efficiency, but is also used in a spectrally specific manner for certain functions within the plant's development. Dietmar Prucker from the Weihenstephan University of Applied Sciences used a literature review to highlight the following influences of different wavelengths on plant growth:

  • UV-B (230-320nm) and UV-A (320-380nm):
    • reduced growth height, lower biomass, decreasing leaf volume
  • Blue (380 - 500nm)
    • Photosynthetic activity, previously unspecified influence on root growth
  • Green (500 – 600nm)
    • Photosynthesis in deep leaf layers via carotenoids
  • Red (600-700nm)
    • Photosynthese,Verminderung des Streckenwachstums (kompakter Wuchs), Verhinderung der Blütebildung bei Kurztagspflanzen (worunter Cannabis zählt)
  • Near Infrared (700-775nm)
    • Increased flower formation in short-day plants (opposite effect of light red), promotion of elongation and leaf surface growth

On the basis of these observations, the so-called PAR spectrum (photosynthetically active spectrum, parallels see above) and the MAR spectrum (morphologically active spectrum, morphologically = individual growth traits) have been classified for the light used for photosynthetically effects. In particular, the edge areas of the full spectrum, i.e. UV and infrared light / deep red, fall into the MAR range, while the range of visible light that is used photosynthetically (energy production) falls under the PAR range.

MAR spectrum PAR Spectrum differences

Effects of different light spectra on cannabis plants

There are still no 100% scientifically proven data on the subject of light spectra and cannabis. However, the field research carried out by our customers in the medical field, the cultivation of CBD or where it is already permitted for recreational use appear promising. We therefore allow ourselves to repeat the above list of the effects of the various light spectra specifically for cannabis:

  • UV-C (100 – 290nm):
    • Mostly filtered by the atmosphere
    • Leads to certain cell death by destroying DNA
      • It is therefore used as an infectious agent to destroy fungal spores and bacteria in cultivation facilities
  • UV-B (230 – 320nm):
    • If the radiation is too high, UV-B destroys DNA cells and slowly leads to cell death
    • Is largely filtered by the atmosphere, but reaches measurable radiation intensities at noon when the sun is at its highest point
    • Stimulates sunburn mechanisms: Cannabis plants protect themselves by producing cannabinoids such as THC in the trichomes.
      • Thus, the trichome content of the plant increases under UV-B. It is particularly interesting that studies have shown that UV stress significantly increases THC levels, whereas CBD levels only rise marginally with increasing UV radiation. In the case of CBD genetics, however, the terpene content increases noticeably when the plants are exposed to UV light.
  • UV-A (320 - 400nm):
    • At around 380nm, UV radiation is hardly filtered by the atmosphere and has a significantly less destructive effect on DNA. UV-A LEDs also have a significantly longer lifespan than UV-B and UV-C LEDs. This makes them the all-round carefree recommendation for all friends of increased active ingredient concentrations by triggering natural sunburn mechanisms, without having to fear that the plants will die of cell death.
    • A nice effect of UV-A radiation has also been shown in the rooting of cuttings, where the near-UV radiation ensures faster and more abundant root growth.
  • Blue (380 – 500nm)
    • Blue light, especially deep blue light around 450nm, has been shown to inhibit stretching when used with cannabis. Elongating plants, = particularly high internodial distances (distance between two side branches on main stem), can be brought under control with blue light. A high proportion of blue ensures compact growing plants and is therefore suitable for environments where the ceiling height is limited. Blue light is therefore often used when growing young plants or in the vegetative phase. Our customers on an industrial scale often carry out these phases on multi-storey shelves, where the compact growth is very advantageous.
    • As considered above, blue light is used particularly efficiently for photosynthesis. Overall, blue light leads to second high yields with the lowest possible power consumption.
  • Green (500 – 600nm)
    • Photosynthesis in deep leaf layers via carotenoids. After a brief hype of red-blue LEDs, cannabis plants in particular have shown their preference for sun-proof, white light. White light inevitably contains green and this green is converted into photosynthesis energy, especially in the deeper leaf layers. Dense canopies with tall plants benefit particularly from green (part of the white) light.
  • Red (600-700nm -> 660nm)
    • When the light is red, plants use light energy best for photosynthesis. A too rapid initiation of flowering is prevented by a high light red portion of the light, which also leads to a more compact growth. Rather simply put, light in the red area is one of the most energetic types of light, because its long wavelengths also generate more radiant heat than blue light.
    • This study also showed that a red-blue ratio of 7: 2 produced the highest cannabinoid values, higher than, for example, 6: 2 or 5: 2 red-blue ratio.
  • (Near)-Infrared (700 -800nm)
    • When the infrared light increases in the entire spectrum, the initiation of flowering is promoted, but also the extension and leaf surface growth due to the phenomenon of shadow escape. This can cause problems in tight plantings.
    • An interesting, if not yet widely documented fact about the use of infrared is the shortening of the flowering phase by up to a week. Thus, there are economic advantages to be found in the use of infrared light. In order to achieve these advantages, it is sufficient to let the infrared light burn on its own for about 15-30 minutes before switching on the entire lamp and after switching off the entire lamp.

 

As an interim conclusion and free advice for grow LED manufacturers, we can state the following key points at this point:

  • Cannabis plants use all types of light from UV to infrared.
  • Green light is used less efficiently than red and blue light, but much better than assumed some time ago
  • UV light and infrared modulate how a plant grows, thus influencing height growth, flower formation and, above all, increasing the active ingredient concentrations.

full moon sesh 2021 gran canaria

Fullmoon Sesh: Cannabis extraction artists reach for the stars

We're going to Gran Canaria on July 22nd, 2021 to meet some of the real heroes of the cannabis movement. It will be an excursion to the origins of a world-shaking movement, a meeting with the artists and creators of unique genetics and alchemists of the finest cannabis extracts.

The Canary Islands not only attract with fantastic year-round weather and both diverse vegetation and topography, but also inspire the cannasseur of the world with one of the liveliest cannabis scenes on our globe. There is a significant accumulation of cannabis social clubs in the Canary Islands run by talented gardeners and extractors. They came from all over the world, buying properties, collaborating with locals, and running club-owned cannabis cultivation, processing, and sales outlets. The cooperation and the exchange of know-how and process knowledge come first in the Social Club model and it is therefore not surprising that the Social Clubs are miles ahead of the large capital-intensive cannabis companies in terms of product quality.

Learn from the cannabis extraction professionals at the Full Moon Sesh in Gran Canaria

At the exclusive Fullmoon Sesh, a cannabis cup specializing purely in extracts, the grand masters of cannabis extraction from all over Europe will compete for the golden full moon. Numerous cannabis extractors come up with very different products to convince the jurors of their strengths. Whether may it be Vape Cart, Diamonds and Sauce or THCa - we definitely will salivate on the cup when terpenes and cannabinoids melt on the banger and make their way to the taste buds of the cannasseurs throat.

Those interested in the cannabis industry can always learn something new in the Canary Islands

As already mentioned, one of the densest and most advanced cannabis cultures in the world can be found in the Canary Islands, comparable to hotspots in California, Oregon or Barcelona. Here the talents of ambitious breeders of the genetics of tomorrow and the willingness to experiment of cannabis extractors come together on a level that the scents of the extracts envelop an entire archipelago in a magical scent.

On islands like Lanzarote, untamed nature meets meticulous precision; on Gran Canaria, banana trees meet Strawberry Banana Hash Rosin. Day after day, extraction processes are questioned by passionate cannabis enthusiasts, get further developed and gradually raised to ever higher levels of perfection, until the Canarian extracts eventually reach the Milky Way.

The experts and social clubs in the Canary Islands are always worth a trip to bring together extraordinary nature and craftsmanship. While one day you can enjoy the beauty of the year-round air-conditioned island, the next day you can take a tour to the most gifted cannabis extractors and growers to learn about the process and product knowledge of unique cannabis preparations. We are therefore going to Gran Canaria on July 22nd, 2021 to attend the legendary Fullmoon Sesh. For everyone who missed this event in the second year of Covid-19, we offer the possibility of establishing contacts in order to offer you a journey full of bits of knowledge and visits to the most talented extraction artists. Simply contact us at info@research-gardens.com and we will arrange a trip including accommodation, organized visits and tours to the extraction masters and culinary delicacies.


Cannabis as pain medication

Cannabis as a painkiller

Every Tuesday we want to put the medical effectiveness of cannabis to the test in this series.
Each week a different disease or group of diseases should take center stage.Today we are going to explain the context of cannabis and (chronic) pain.

Cannabis has been used to treat pain for thousands of years.
The wonder herb was used early on, especially against migraines, gout, nerve pain, toothache and of course menstrual cramps.
The mechanisms of action of the cannabis plant regarding pain therapy have been researched very well. I am emphasizing this, because the facts are still very thin for many other complaints.
In order to delineate exactly how cannabis helps against pain, I would first like to clarify the term pain.

What is pain?

Pain is a complex sensory perception that sends signals to the human brain like a message: My dear friend, there is something wrong with you.
However, if the pain is chronic, the feeling of pain is not due to a temporary disruption of the human organism. Rather in such cases there is damage to the nervous system. In plain terms, the body sends false signals, false alarms. Chronic pain is a disease of its own.
The pain we feel is conducted through our body via the nervous system. In concrete terms this means: If you bump your little toe the nerve cells on the little toe are irritated. This creates a signal that is sent to the next nerve cells as quickly as possible. At some point this signal arrives in the spinal cord or brain and a neural reaction follows through which we perceive the pain.
Fun Fact: The speed of nerve transmission is not infinitely fast. If we assume 10 m / s, the transmission takes 200 ms (a fifth of a second) for a 2-meter man like me.

But pain doesn't just make you feel uncomfortable. In the case of chronic pain in particular socio-psychological damage is also often caused. In other words: This affects the quality of life in public spaces, as the person affected suffers so-called breakthrough pain. This can be imagined in bursts of pain attacks or other body malfunctions, for example skin problems.

In the traditional sense, chronic pain is treated with opioids, like morphine, codeine, fentanyl or methadone. Antidepressants are also used in certain cases, if the cause of the pain can be located therein.

Pain treatment with cannabis

Cannabis can be used for most pain relief. The exact processes in the body are incredibly diverse, because pain can arise in many ways. However, there are a number of substances in the body that reduce the sensation of pain. Some neurotransmitters (you can read a bit about them here) can more or less alleviate the pain that is felt. THC for example is such a neurotransmitter and an externally supplied one, aswell. When THC docks onto the so-called receptors (I'll refer you back here), messenger substances such as dopamine are released.

Dopamine is a essential substance for the feeling of happiness in the body. If the dopamine level is high, pain is felt less intensely. Happiness and pain are therefore directly related - whoever is happy doesn't perceive much pain. Those who are unhappy feel pain more strongly. The body cannot differentiate between physical and psychological pain.

Other neurotransmitters (messenger substances of the nervous system) are also released when THC is ingested. In this way, effects on the so-called serotonin level can be measured. Serotonin is responsible for stabilizing the psyche and is significantly involved in the body's own pain inhibition.

Chart showing dopamine levels
What applies to ADHD patients in terms of dopamine levels and THC intake also applies analogously to pain patients. In contrast to healthy people, the level of happiness hormones such as dopamine or serotonin is chronically low in pain patients. When consuming THC this value is not raised to a level at which one feels "high" or "stoned" as is the case with healthy people, but rather depending on the dose it is first raised to the "normal" level at which the chronic pain is reduced or barely noticeable for the patient.

So, from a biochemical point of view, consuming cannabis containing THC when you are in pain makes perfect sense. But what do the studies say?

Studies support these considerations. In one trial patients suffering from severe spasticity due to a spinal cord injury were given 5 mg THC, 50 mg codeine or a placebo. As expected, the placebo did not change the condition, the codeine, an opiate, alleviated the spasticity somewhat, and the THC led to significant relief.

In another study, a pain patient was given 30 mg of morphine per day. At some point, 10mg of a THC / CBD extract were added. The pain intensity was measured for both cases over a period of six weeks.
Result: During the period in which the patient received the THC / CBD extract, his need for morphine had decreased significantly with the same pain relief.
Further studies show the effectiveness of cannabis compared to placebos. It has even been proven that THC can reduce so-called phantom pain after amputations.

If you suffer from pain yourself and are now rolling a joint euphorically, here is another tip: The pain is best suppressed the longer the THC works. However since the high wears off very quickly when you smoke I recommend baking a cake or realizing a recipe of your choice. You can read about how to decarboxylate cannabis, i.e. make it "digestible", in this article.

Which strains are the best, when used for pain relief?

First I have to say, that I'm not a doctor, I therefore advise all readers to always discuss the medication with a doctor. In general, however, you can at least classify which varieties are more suitable for pain relief than others. In many cases, a cannabis patient with pain suffers from chronic pain, which is why continuous medication to alleviate the symptoms is the usual choice. And if you have to start medication early, I recommend a sativa variety for the time until the afternoon or evening. Because with these varieties you can still pursue a lot of activities while the felt pain is significantly inhibited. In many cases sativas are creative, lift the mood and produce a head-heavy high. If the high feeling gets too much for you I recommend taking CBD at the same time, because CBD significantly weakens the psychoactive effects of THC. For some, being high in certain situations can also be exhausting and lead to additional stress in the long run.

For the evening I recommend an indica, because after consuming such flowers you sleep well and enjoy a very physical high. This effect is also often expressed in the well-known “couch-lock”. You feel particularly comfortable in bed or on the sofa and can sleep well all night.

Which varieties specifically? First of all, a multitude of strains and products can help against pain. Because it depends above all on the presence of the active ingredients THC and CBD. In the end I decided on the following sativa-dominant and indica-dominant varieties:
For the day, I recommend a classic: Silver Haze.
With a sativa content of 80% and a high THC content, this strain will get you through the day well.
For the evening I recommend another classic: Skunk.
This strain is listed as 80% indica and pushes you into bed really nicely when you want to sleep.

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Cannabis - What makes this plant special? Botany, utility, society

Cannabis - Introduction of a long forgotten plant. Botanical aspects, society, economy.

Cannabis is one of the oldest and useful plants in a wide variety of cultures. From China to India to Europe and even the American continent, the medicinal plant has spread like weeds over the past millennia. And while the quality of many cannabis products is not remotely reminiscent of weeds, the comparison is very accurate. Because the plant, valued for its fibers and healing flowers, is one of the most robust and adaptable herbs in our world. In it lays the strong power to influence people and nations. It can heal, it's a great building material, and its seeds are the perfect superfood. But what is behind the plant, that everyone is suddenly talking about?
An essay about a botanically intoxicating queen.

Basic botanical knowledge of cannabis

What all cannabis plants have in common, is that they are annual, not like trees, which sprout with new leaves every year. Cannabis arises from new seeds every year in spring to die again in autumn. However, creating supernatural circumstances, experts also create the famous exception, that confirms the rule - cannabis plants, that have existed for several years. Nature has been tricked for long in the propagation of cuttings and in conditions under artificial lightning.

seedlings of cannabis plants
This is what it looks like, when life of a cannabis plant emerges from the seed. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Another characteristic, that all cannabis plants share, is the famous leaf shape. If you look at the stem, from bottom to top, the lower leaves begin with only one or a few "fingers" per leaf, while leaves with 5-11 fingers predominate in the central part. Towards the end of the stem axis, there are more leaves with fewer fingers. The fingers always have serrated edges, so they look a bit like saw blades.

Cannabis plants are usually dioecious. That means, there are both all-male and all-female plants. The males carry the pollen, the females the fruit pistils (stigma). Stress or other negative environmental influences also cause hermaphrodites from time to time, which is fatal for indoor gardeners in particular.

gorgeous cannabis male
Gorgeous cannabis male plant. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

 

female cannabis plant in second week of flowering
Female cannabis plant in second week of flowering. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

 

tied up cannabis plant
In this tied down plant you can see very well how from the beginning of the plant to the top first leaves with 3 fingers and after some "nodes" leaves with nine fingers are already growing on the main shoot. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Since cannabis plants produce resins, which are made up of coveted ingredients such as CBD, THC and Terpenes, they cannot be pollinated by insects because they stick to the resin. Due to this protective mechanism, cannabis plants are dependent on pure wind pollination, whereby their "trichomes" covered with resin heads, together with the sticky resin, are of great help. Since male plants grow taller than female plants, pollen that falls down falls on the female plants, sticks to the pistils and, with the help of a female ova, forms new life in the form of a seed.

trichomes of a cannabis plant
Cannabis plants have the so-called trichomes on their inflorescences. These are small hair extensions of the leaf tissue in which the valuable trichomes and terpenes are stored. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Cannabis - master of adaptability

Just as there are not only white or black individuals in humans, there are also different growth forms in the cannabis plant. These can be classified into sativa, indica and ruderalis, based on structural properties and individual light reactions. All of these growth forms share the same basic characteristics, but you can see the differences with a little more background information.

ruderalis sativa plant
Plants with Ruderalis-Sativa characteristics can be seen here on the left. Long, loose growth and lemony terpene clouds. Rather less trichomes and resin. To the right of them are a few worthy representatives of the Indica types - dense, arm-sized headbuds and so much resin that you have to shower for half an hour after caring for these plants. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Above all, the stature of the plants differs greatly, if you compare two cannabis plants growing in different climates: If you take a cannabis plant from tropical Thailand and compare it with a plant from high Nepal, it's noticeable, that the Thai representative grows significantly higher - so it's a sativa. Sativas grow very tall, up to five meters, while indicas sometimes grow no taller than eight inches. On the other hand, indicas grow much more densely or bushier in cold areas with little sunshine than their counterparts in warmer regions. While the distances between the side shoots in Sativa growth types on the stem axis can be very large, with Indicas all branches and foliage grow very close to one another.

Distinct sativa phenotype in advanced flowering
Extreme example of a Sativa plant with high resin / active ingredient levels. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

 

Gorilla Breath Humboldt Seeds Picture
Blütenstand einer Gorilla Breath von Humboldt Seed Organization als hervorragendes Beispiel für einen Indica-Wachstums-Typen. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

The differences of Cannabis phenotypes are always an evolutionary adaptation to the respective environment.

Sativas for sunny, wet environments

In hot, sunny areas, there are usually plants with long, thin leaf fingers that have a relatively small leaf surface. Why? Because the photosynthetically active leaves do not have to fight for every sparkle of light in sunny areas, but rather have to offer protection against evaporation of valuable water resources, which takes place via the leaves. Because of their not that dense flower structures, Sativas also grow better in humid climates without molding.

Indicas for colder climates

Indicas, on the other hand, have different challenges to master, as they occur in climates and areas with less sunshine. Therefore, compared to sativa plants, they form thick, short leaves with a larger leaf surface in order to be able to absorb the less abundant sunlight more efficiently. On the other hand, because of the lower outside temperature and higher air humidity, such areas do not require much protection against evaporation, which is why the compact, thick leaf shape is perfect in this case.

Mango Sapphire Indica strain
On this Mango Sapphire, the thick leaves of an Indica are easily recognizable. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

There would be numerous other differences in the construction of the various types of cannabis at this point, but in the end they all follow the same principle: if life gives you lemons, get salt and tequila. The cannabis plant is tough and does not shy away from any evolutionary challenge. The cannabis plant has conquered almost every country between Finland and Chile for the past thousands of years.

Survival artist: Cannabis Ruderalis

Accordingly, the cannabis plant also found a way to grow in northern countries, where the hours of sunshine go to zero in winter and about 24hrs in summer. The so-called ruderalis differs from its relatives, in that it can grow independently from light cycle.

While cannabis plants usually begin flowering, when the length of day decreases and levels off at 14-12 hours, ruderalis plants begin to flower approximately a month after germination, regardless of the daylight hours. This has the advantage that the flowering does not have to be finished in wet, cold autumn and thus the risk of mold is significantly lower. In addition, with ruderalis plants, several harvests in succession can be achieved in good years.

Incidentally, many outdoor growers in Germany swear by ruderalis hybrids. Under the better known generic term automatics or autoflowering, they are sold by most seed banks and also show their advantages in Northern Europe. (Just beware, cultivation is strictly prohibited for most people in this area)

Girl Scout Cookies autoflowering plant from Mallorca-Seeds in final flowering
Girl Scout Cookies autoflowering plant from Mallorca Seeds in final flowering. Grown and photographed by Lorenz Minks.

Speaking about seed banks: there are now well over a thousand cannabis varieties, and the sheer number of crossbreeding options means, that new genetics are added every day. Crossing takes place all over the world - across the borders of illegality.

Multiple uses of cannabis: houses, planes, natural cosmetics, etc...

The hemp plant has always made a name for itself, not only as a medicinal plant, but also as a building material, for dietary supplementation or textile fiber manufacturing. In Europe and the whole world, the potential of the cannabis plant has been more or less systematically suppressed under the pretext of prohibition for the past hundred years, but in recent years more and more start-ups have popped up that are specifically exploiting the potential of this powerful plant: hemp clothing, hemp insulation, hemp houses ,hemp cosmetics or even hemp planes are there to discover! All THC-free and totally legal.

But also in terms of healthy nutrition, hemp takes up a top position. Hemp seeds contain loads of antioxidants, vitamins E and B. Since hemp seeds contain all the amino acids required by the human body, they have a very positive effect on metabolism and the detoxification of the body. Athletes also appreciate the potential that hemp seeds have.
Hemp is also available as a ground powder for the protein shake - because hemp seeds are very rich in vegetable proteins!

Hemp fibers are mainly used for the production of paper or textiles. Textiles, that are made from hemp fibers have a temperature equalizing effect - they warm in the cold and cool in the heat. Sails, ropes and the American Declaration of Independence were also made from hemp.

Hempearth-Hemp plane
Hempearth-Hemp plane

 Cannabis as a medicinal plant

The most prominent potential of cannabis, however, lies in its medicinal properties. Cannabis is a medicinal plant, that can be used effectively against a wide variety of diseases. It treats Chronic pain, as well as stress symptoms or skin diseases. In most cases it's a stimulation of the body's own reward system, the cannabinoid system,
which is closely linked to the causes of the (chronic) diseases to be treated.

It's important to know the various cannabinoids and terpenes, considering, that the correct application-related composition of THC, CBD and other secondary ingredients is crucial for a successful therapy. To get deeper into this categorization thing, we wrote this article about batch categorization of cannabis.

The categorization aspect shouldn't be underestimated, because even the smallest deviations from clinical pictures require a different indication. Would you like an example? As known from various statements, with some types of breast cancer, CBD helps significantly better, while with other types of breast cancer, THC defeats the tumor. At this point, a doctor, who is open and trained in the segment related to cannabis. He can give the best advice and should always be consulted before and during medication with cannabis.

Cannabis is on the rise - is it finally back to normal?

For thousands of years, living beings such as humans, but also dolphins and chimpanzees, have been dealing with mind-expanding substances. Whether was it opium, alcohol, magic mushrooms or even cannabis - up to a hundred years ago, nothing was a problem with consuming these things for recreational or medicinal purposes. Cannabis was a thing almost all over the world.

It was only with the opium crisis between Great Britain and China and a racially motivated, and globally implemented prohibition policy against cannabis, which was led by the USA, since when cannabis was promoted into being illegal and socially sidelined.

For a few years now, however, the problem has been easing. Several states in the USA have joined the legalization movement since 2012, which begun with Washington State and Colorado back then. In the meantime, two entire nations have opened a regulated, legally accessible market for cannabis for free consumption. One of them is a country of the G7 nations and part of the most important economic powers in the “western" world: Canada. In the Netherlands, the coffee shop scene has been tolerated for 50 years, while there is a largely calm cannabis social club scene in Spain. This is because people who live in countries like Spain have certain freedoms, especially in the private sphere.

Map of countries with federal legal access regimes in 2014
Development of the liberalization of cannabis worldwide

In many third world countries, a small bribe, by Western standards, is enough to be able to devote oneself to consumption without blame, and in Germany we have also been making progress since 2017 with the passing of the Cannabis Medicinal Law. In 2019, Thailand was the first country in Southeast Asia to venture a foray by legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis “as a gift to the people”. South Africa achieved legalization in 2018 and the German Hemp Association raised almost 100,000 euros for its 2019 justice campaign. Oh right, Georgia legalized Cannabis in 2018 as well. You see, legalization is happening all over the world right now. Even in Germany there is some great chance of legalization because of the poll values of the Green Party right now.

The cannabis plant has a bright future ahead. I wish her the best in her comeback into humanity - that she can make the world a better place.


Cannabis and ADHD

Cannabis and ADHD

Cannabis is now a miracle cure for a wide variety of diseases and ailments. Which has not scientifically been proven yet, because scientific studies cost a lot of money, but anyways it has already done a lot of good for patients. Cannabis is currently being used against all sorts of things. Against migraines, against back pain, against fibromyalgia or treating the symptoms and comorbidities of ADHD. This article is about those correlations between cannabis use and ADHD.

What is ADHD anyway?

ADHD is not the "fidget syndrome", not a fashion diagnosis, nor is it a personality disorder. Because even, if there is something to the terms - the terms are filled with prejudices and appear disrespectful to patients. The bottom line is that ADHD is nothing more than Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

And what can you imagine by that? The site adhs.de aptly writes:
ADHD is not a disease like measles or mumps, that can be clearly identified or ruled out. ADHD is more like being overweight or having high blood pressure. If you have too much of it, it can become critical.

[This definition is accurate, but I still don't know what ADHD is or how to recognize it. So my best bet is to take a step further towards symptoms to make the matter more tangible.]

ADHD manifests itself in different symptoms, that can appear separately in different people. On one hand, an ADHD patient can be purely hyperactive and impulsive, i.e. restless, fidgety and very talkative. On the other hand, a person affected can also be disturbed in their attention, and frequent dreaming or wandering about an activity is particularly noticeable. This symptom is often misused to call the smartphone-savvy Generation Z “Generation ADHD”. A third group combines the two symptoms and is both disturbed and hyperactive.

There are two kinds

Those affected, who only suffer from concentration or attention disorders, do not have ADHD, depending on the definition, but ADD. An attention deficit disorder. This is often not recognized, because concentration disorders in society are not regarded as illness-related, but rather as a weakness. It is more likely that a person affected, is often just told to try harder or to play less on their smartphone in order to be able to be able to concentrate better. Children in particular suffer from these misjudgments, as they are much less able to assess situations. Often they suffer from categorization and stigmatization and look for the fault in themselves. This often leads to social problems or depression. Therefore my early appeal to all parents out there: If your child is struggling with homework or cannot sit still for a long time - please do not blame them, until a doctor has taken care of the matter. Because only a precise diagnosis can reveal whether the child suffers from ADHD, or simply needs more exercise or retreat.

Now I have talked briefly about children, but one thing should be said: ADHD is not a childhood desease, all age groups suffer from ADHD. While ADHD regresses in some people during puberty, this is often seen as a wrong sign. In many cases, the symptoms simply change; adults affected no longer suffer so much from an unrestrained urge to move, but increasingly from concentration disorders. This often manifests itself in forgetfulness, ignorance or disorganization.

What are the causes of ADHD?

Of course, ADHD cannot be compared with a viral infection or an allergy. So no external influences are responsible for ADHD, right? It's not that simple. Because although ADHD is not "triggered" by pollen or viruses, psychosocial influences can strongly influence ADHD in its development. Family and school, for example, can fundamentally control the development of ADHD. Stress is seen as a major, negative factor. The extent of ADHD is strongly influenced by family disputes or separated parents, but also by low family income, frequent criticism or inconsistent upbringing without rules.

Another criterion that promotes the development of ADHD is pregnancy. Nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs are believed to promote ADHD. However, this is not yet scientifically proven - which does not mean that the concern is unjustified!

According to some studies, hereditary factors are said to have an influence on the development of ADHD. In the case of dizygotic twins for example 30% of the test pairs showed the same symptoms, in the case of identical twins even 80%!

Why does cannabis help against ADHD?

To understand why cannabis helps against ADHD, it is first necessary to understand how ADHD works in the body. Researchers and doctors today agree that ADHD is caused by a disruption in chemical signaling. One study found, that half of the ADHD patients examined, had an abnormality in the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and with dopamine deficiency.
Dopamine deficiency is the key to the healing properties of cannabis, but more on that later.

But why does this deficiency of "happiness hormones" occur in ADHD patients? Scientists still disagree on this. However, many experts assume that ADHD patients develop too many dopamine transporters in certain areas of the brain. This means, that dopamine stored in synaptic fissures is removed more quickly than in healthy peoples brains. This is why a dopamine deficiency occurs.

But not only the dopamine deficiency is a cause, especially since it is not the decisive factor for the syndrome in all ADHD patients. Therefore, some researchers have investigated, why ADHD patients often react differently or in an unusual way to rewards or punishments. So the brain areas where the motivation and reward center is located were examined. It turned out that many of the patients examined, had a particularly low density of dopamine receptors in these areas. In plain terms: There is no dopamine deficiency, there are simply no docking points for the dopamine.
As a result of this anomaly, many downstream functions are also impaired. For example, the lack of attention correlates directly with this fact.

Cannabis raises the level of happiness

So here's where cannabis comes in. In a nutshell, the “happiness level” in ADHD patients is much lower than in healthy people.
This is partly due to the lack of dopamine. It is well known that cannabis can increase this “happiness level”, because dopamine is released through the ingestion of THC. But if you have been paying attention up to now, you will be surprised: Wasn't the problem with the many dopamine transmitters and the low density of dopamine receptors? Right, that's exactly how it is. But cannabis would not be a drug that’s so hyped, if it didn't have a solution for this problem: The endocannabinoid system. Although the presence of this alternative nervous system is not due to the plant itself, it is basically the key to the lock in our body.
The THC is the key, the endocannabinoid system is the lock.

If THC hits the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, a relatively large amount of dopamine is released for the duration of the effect. That's why most cannabis users are pretty happy and "high", when they smoke weed.
However, the ADHD patient first reaches the normal happiness level through the consumption of THC, i.e. the level at which healthy people are sober.

Chart showing dopamine levels of adhd and neurotypical patients
Chart showing dopamine levels of adhd and neurotypical patients

It is obvious, but not yet scientifically researched, that the now restored dopamine balance in the brain can also reduce the consequences of the low dopamine receptor density in the reward center. One study found, that particularly hyperactive and impulsive behavior patterns decreased in patients when using cannabis.

What does the cannabis patient say?

On the Cannabis Normal! Conference I took the opportunity to talk to an ADHD patient. He confirmed the theory about the dopamine level, he also needs cannabis for an acceptable feel-good climate. To get really high, he needs a lot more cannabis than, for example, myself as a neurotypical person.

Another "problem" for him is the large amount of cannabis that he consumes. As a solution, he had delicious wax with him at the conference, which he extracted from the Pedanios 22/1 with a straightening iron. Pharmacy dabs for gourmets! This allows him to take medicine in small doses throughout the day and he does not have to inhale any unnecessary pollutants.
After a long fight with the health insurance, he gets the cannabis paid for by them, so ADHD patients should stand their ground - You have the right for access to your medicine, apart from Ritalin!

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flag Denmark plus cannabis plant

Denmark: Green light for permanent medicinal cannabis production

On May 25, the Danish Parliament, also known as «Folketing», agreed to allow the cultivation of medical cannabis on a sustainable basis. As can be seen in the Danish newspaper fyens.dk, this step follows a four-year pilot project that has been running since 2018.

Interesting: The pilot project was primarily intended to test patient access to medical cannabis. However, so far only four foreign cannabis products have been approved by the Danish Medicines Agency and no products from Danish production. The paradox is that the pilot project laid the foundation for the domestic production of medical cannabis in Denmark in addition to the distribution to patients. The best-known player in the field is Aurora Nordic, a subsidiary of the Canadian Aurora, which has entered into a joint venture with the Danish tomato grower Pedersen & Søn.

In this context, an almost 10,000m2 greenhouse on the island of Funen was equipped for the production of medical cannabis, which corresponds to an annual yield of 10,000 kg of medical cannabis per year. With this amount plus imports from Canada, Aurora predicts that it will be able to cover the entire European demand for the coming years, according to Krautinvest.de.

The matter appears paradoxical against the background that the largest production facility for medical cannabis in Europe has now emerged in Denmark, which is mainly used to meet the demand for medical cannabis in the rest of Europe. However, the medical cannabis flowers produced in Denmark are not yet approved on the domestic market, as Jane Heitmann from the Liberal Party announces with annoyance.

Extension of the pilot project for patients by 4 years

The period for testing the dispensing of medical cannabis in Denmark has been extended by a further 4 years with the new decision. The cultivation of medical cannabis, however, was allowed indefinitely with the parliamentary vote. So one could almost conclude that Denmark will initially benefit primarily from economic benefits of the cannabis boom. Because Aurora's activities in Odense on the island of Funen primarily secure jobs and strengthen the local economy through tax revenue rather than give the domestic patients big benefits.

How big the focus of Denmark is on the patient's well-being can currently only be guessed at. It is to be hoped that domestically produced cannabis products will soon be able to be sold in Denmark. After all, the medicinal cannabis flowers produced there are already available in Germany and four other European countries. So while the model project for cultivation has already produced a very positive result for the country of Denmark and it's foreign investors, the level for domestic patients is far from being acceptable, sums up fyens.dk.


tobacco joint on paper money

Why tobacco joints (biochemically) make no sense at all

The various cannabis cultures around the world are united in their hearts, but devided in consumer culture. Due to different supply markets, one issue in particular separates cannabis users worldwide: Does tobacco belong in the joint or not? Today I would like to take you on a journey through different smoking cultures habits and want to show why tobacco joints in 2021 are simply no longer up-to-date.

Let's start with the current geographical differences in cannabis tobacco consumption

The Atlantic Ocean acts as a natural border between the American “pure joint” and the European “tobacco joint”. Traditionally, massive amounts of cannabis have been produced in Mexico and California for half a century - enough to supply all passionate cannabis users in the North American target markets with sufficient cannabis buds. There is talk of abundance, great competition and thus attractive prices for the end consumer. That is why cannabis is mainly consumed pure in the cannabis hype nations USA and Canada. Cigarettes generally have a hard time in North American societies. Loose tobacco is very rare, and if you get one, it's at exorbitant prices.

The only exception are blunts, cannabis flowers rolled up in tobacco leaves. Blunts are quite common in the US. The tobacco leaves that replace the rolling paper naturally contain nicotine - but in significantly lower amounts than our European friends smoke in their joints.

Dried Tobacco Leaves
Dried Tobacco Leaves (Source)

Tobacco high culture in Europe

And with that we take a look at Europe. On the continent of millennia-old civilization, where the Romans invented dental fillings, Isaac Newton discovered gravity or Michelangelo set David in stone, cannabis is traditionally consumed with tobacco. And ironically tobacco is rarely grown in Europe - it's not supposed to, because tobacco is one of the oldest imported goods and Europe practically invented colonialism.

Smoking cigarettes is also much more widespread in Europe than in North America, as these observations made by some users of the popular expat social network Quora suggest. Also my experiences after living in Germany, Spain and Switzerland show me that much more cigarettes and tobacco are generally smoked in Europe. In Europe, the tobacco in the joint is simply part of common smoking habits. Thus, many consumers like my former blogger colleague Daniel from Cannabis-Rausch.de show with their stories that they often associate a certain love-hate relationship with tobacco. He has written numerous articles entitled "Fuck You Tobacco Joint", in which he repeatedly recounted his efforts to quit smoking tobacco. Again and again setbacks, missed goals and finally the surrender to his nicotine addiction.

Tobacco addiction from cannabis concentrates such as hashish

In my early days as a cannabis patient, I was never a tobacco smoker, but during my time in Spain I discovered my “love” for tobacco. In an environment where good hash dominated the supply market, I couldn't find any other way to medicate cannabis than rolling the hash in joints with flammable tobacco. Before that, I stayed in Germany, where the consumption of tobacco joints was predominant. In Germany, however, mixed with cannabis flowers instead of cannabis hashish.

 

Anyone who has ever been to Berlin and smoked the Berlin Amnesia Haze knows that cannabis can contain very high levels of active ingredients in Europe. Since cannabis possession is subject to high penalties in Europe, especially in Germany, Sweden or France, there are also very good reasons for highly potent weed or hash. Because for a joint with the same effect you need significantly less of the previously illegal cannabis flowers when they have a high potency than when the active ingredient concentration is low.

This means that only smaller quantities have to be transported and the penalties are lower if you are caught with such less amounts. In order not to be completely overwhelmed by the high levels of active ingredients as a consumer, mixing it with tobacco to «dilute» the THC concentration has established itself as the go-to solution.

But are tobacco joints really the solution for a more pleasant high?

Tobacco joints because "I can't afford to smoke pure weed" = you lie to yourself

Before I emigrated from Germany, I quickly noticed in my cannabis-positive circle of friends that the tobacco in their joint is an insane consumption motor. Tobacco plays mainly the sellers of cannabis products in the cards, because users of tobacco joints consume nicotine. Sooner or later, tobacco joint users develop a nicotine addiction, which the consumer later on associates with the inhalation of cannabinoids. This means that after the joint you just smoked has waned, thanks to the nicotine, the need for the next joint is quickly aroused.

Tobacco joint smokers who do not smoke cigarettes have the highest costs

Because often the craving for the next joint is in truth the longing for the next load of nicotine. Because nicotine, as a very fast-acting neurotoxin, has the potential to trigger an almost immediate effect in the body and head. It ranges from a brief, activating «kick» to a moment of relaxation, depending on the situation. However, this craving for nicotine could also be satisfied with a cigarette, an IQOS or an e-cigarette, which in many cases is a much cheaper option than the next tobacco joint.

I have spoken to many people about this topic lately; Many who have only recently given up tobacco consumption. We all share one observation: At the end of the day, tobacco joint smokers smoke significantly more cannabis than pure smokers. There are several reasons for this.

As this peer-reviewed study shows, for example, regular nicotine consumption inhibits the reward function in our brain when nicotine is withdrawn, i.e. when tobacco is not being smoked.

The decrease in brain reward function experienced during nicotine withdrawal is an essential component of nicotine addiction and a key barrier to abstinence.

As a result, the brain's reward function is only available to a limited extent when a regular tobacco user smokes a pure cannabis joint. Because nicotine, in contrast to THC or other cannabinoids, unfolds its effects very quickly and also subsides very quickly, a large amount of dopamine is briefly released. The THC, which is available for the release of dopamine in the body much longer, can then no longer release sufficient amounts of dopamine, which would be necessary to exceed the reward threshold in the brain.

And if we go back to the above quote, we will, to make matters worse, note that the threshold of reward for nicotine-dependent people in a withdrawal state is also significantly higher than for people without nicotine addiction - so it takes even more reward-promoting substances such as THC to cross the threshold of perceived happiness.

Conclusion: Tobacco should be banned from all cannabis products, even if it boosts cannabis consumption lucratively

Even if the desire for the next joint in connection with tobacco is much higher than when smoking pure joints, this connection should not be exploited by the industry. In Switzerland, for example, there is such a product with the popular "Heimatzigaretten", which contains 20% CBD cannabis flowers and 80% tobacco blends. The consumer is made physically dependent by the product and longs for new tobacco mixed joints to satisfy his cravings.

In terms of the consumers and customers health, pure joints are therefore the comparatively healthier option. Because every time you smoke, with or without tobacco, lots of toxic and carcinogenic substances are released, such as benzene. So if there is already the craving for smoking, smoking should at least be minimized in order to protect health. While CBD, for example, even lowers the pressure of addiction and thus even delays reaching for the next joint, nicotine builds up an unnecessarily high addictive potential.

Of course, from the consumer's point of view, it is very difficult to quit smoking nicotine. However, consuming pure CBD can help in the withdrawal process. In this study, for example, nicotine abandoners who consumed CBD daily smoked 40% fewer cigarettes per day than the control group who did not take any CBD.

The health benefits of stop smoking are huuuge

Those who have successfully given up smoking tobacco can notice physical improvements in themselves within a short period of time. Lung regeneration begins after a month. After 10 years, the chance of dying from fatal lung cancer is already halved. After 20 years, all cells damaged by tobacco consumption have regenerated to such an extent that the risk of death is as low as that of a person who has never smoked in his life. Here's a great list with all improvements after specific time spans.

 

ps: And for everyone who "cannot afford" to smoke pure cannabis: There are excellent tobacco substitutes or inexpensive CBD flower mixtures for this very purpose; As a substitute for tobacco.


Test tubes with nutrient Solution

The EC value: importance for (hydroponic) cannabis cultivation

The EC value is a physical unit [1] that indicates the electric conductivity of a substance.
Knowing the EC value, we as growers get an overview over how many nutrient salts are dissolved in a nutrition solution.
This is possible because nutrient salt molecules break down into their individual ions in a watery solution and generate electric conductivity in it.

These ions have free charge carriers. More free charge carriers in the sense of unoccupied electron sites or excess electrons far from a charge equilibrium, ensure a higher electrical conductivity and thus, a higher EC value of a solution. The chemical background however is not that important for us gardeners, because there are easy to use EC-measuring instruments for practical purposes. Later in this article we will dig deeper into the scientific backgrounds of the EC value, but now it's time for some hands on information.

Measuring with a EC device you will be most probably confronted with microsiemens per centimeter (1 ms/cm) or sometimes also PPM (parts per million) or tds (total dissolved solids). It has to be said, that the expression of the electric conductivity in ms/cm is the most accurate for horticulture applications. You'll find usage of this unit mainly in Europe, while tds and PPM is very common in the US.

The most important use of measuring the EC value is during the mixing process of your fertilizer stock solution, that irrigates your plants. This ensures that there's always a proper basis for your plants nutrition needs.

The second important application of measuring the EC value is related to monitoring the health of your growing medium. With measurements of soil EC, Rockwool EC, Coco EC or recirculating nutrition solution EC you can check the state of health of your medium. This is crucial for a successful grow, as the amount of dissolved fertilizer salts in your medium affects the oxygen concentration in your medium and also can lead to nutrition burn, which slows down or stops plants growth. Especially in the flowering stage high oxygen amounts in your medium are very important for a vigorous grow of fat flowers.

The following EC values are a good starting point for EC values during the cannabis life cycle (based on personal and common research experiences):

EC value hydroponic cannabis and soil recommendations and differences ms cm tds ppm
Suggestion for a cannabis nutrition plan regarding EC values.
Please note that for Indica varieties you can apply even higher EC values depending on the growing style.
With Sativas on the other hand you should be more careful and better apply lower EC values to prevent nutrition burn on your plants.
As you see, it's always a good choice to use lower EC values when working on soil. This is because in opposite to hydroponic media, soil mostly consists of a complex biologic ecosystem with bacteria, fungi and microbes which could be damaged by high nutritional values. ps: Week 1 presupposes rooted clones or already sprouted seedlings. These can be fed with 0,4 - 0,8 EC.

Medium Crop Steering with measuring input EC and drain EC

The EC value gives you a great starting point for the mixing process of your stock solution / fertilizer mix. Whenever you irrigate your plants, especially in hydroponics, a well mixed fertilizer solution fitting to the needs of your current plant development stage gives a great basis for a successful grow.

But it gets more difficult when it comes to the EC value of your medium. This is because depending on a plants individual nutrition uptake behavior the EC value in the medium can rise over time, even if you always give the same (low concentrated) EC fertilizer mix every time. This is the reason why I would recommend also measuring the medium EC value. With this technique you're able to "steer your crop" nutrition-wise.

How is crop steering be done? Most basic rules for crop steering with measuring the EC value of your medium.

If you irrigate your plants (automatically or by hand) you should aim for a little runoff / drain after some irrigation events. This excess drain water you can collect in a small beaker glass and then measure it with your favorite EC measuring device. If you measure higher EC values in the drain than in your nutrient solution, you can conclude there have been happened a salt built up in your medium. This indication gives you the sign to lower the fertilizer concentration in your stock nutrition solution for the next time(s) to slowly lower the medium EC value over the time.

On the other hand, if you measure your drain and you realize it's EC value is lower than what you apply with your stock nutrition solution, it gives you the sign that your medium and plants need to be irrigated with higher fertilizer salt concentrations.

If you never measure your drain, you also will not recognize any salt built ups beforehand and could be surprised by deficiency or nutrition burn symptoms when it's already too late. Especially when growing organically in soil you're not be able to react fast to rebalance your soils conditions and it can be already too late for saving your crops potential yield. [2]

Be careful: The EC value alone tells you hardly anything about the abundance of specific nutrients in your fertilizer solution or soil

And it even gets more difficult: Depending on a plants nutrition uptake behavior, a medium can also develop nutrition imbalances. Because as plants require 17 different chemical elements for healthy growth, plant nutrition is a bit more complex than just measuring the EC value. While you can be sure that fertilizer component ratios are in a righteous ratio when mixing A + B components following the fertilizer scheme with your plain water, it's a more difficult thing when it comes to these ratios in the medium or soil.

Without a proper lab analysis of your medium you will not know, which salt is missing or if there's too much of one in your solution. Luckily this can be roughly analyzed when combining medium EC measurements with medium pH measurements. In short: Different nutrients have different pH levels. Ammonia - a plant available form of nitrogen - has a very alkaline pH of 11. Ammonium dihydrogen phosphate (ADP), a plant available form of phosphorus, has a pH of 4.2 in a 5% concentration. So for example when the pH value of the nutrition solution when irrigated is 6.0 and the drain pH is 5.5 we could assume that plants took up more alkaline nutrients like nitrogen and less of phosphorus as the pH of the medium got lower. This advices us to give more nitrogen and less phosphorus next time when irrigating. But that should be it for now regarding pH. More in this in one of our upcoming articles.

Not all dissolved salts in a watery solution help plants grow

Since the EC value does not only measure the required nutrient salts for plant growth, it shows us only a vague picture of what is going on in any solution nutrient wise. Part of the measured EC value are also other salts that are not usable by the plant such as sodium chloride, which could be more described as toxic or destructive for plants. This is the reason why professional gardeners work with laboratory soil or medium analyses in order to get to know which single types of salts make up the total dissolved salts in a solution or medium. With this knowledge in mind, one can see which nutrients are missing, which need to be added or which salts are too much in a mix. In the high end professional field, this can be automatically controlled by a fertilizer computer and a closed nutrient solution circuit. In most cases, these measurements are not integrated in irrigation computers and are done from time to time in the lab with help of a so called photo meter.

As this article focuses on the EC value and not plant nutrition in all aspects, we will proceed with this topic some lines later.

What is important to keep in mind at this stage is just the fact that whenever you measure the same input and output EC does not automatically mean, everything is fine with your medium bound salt concentrations. Because it can be still be, that there are some hazardous peaks for one or another specific salts.

The importance of tap water EC value

The previous paragraphs are most important to keep in mind when operating with tap water. Tap water can already have EC values up to 0.9 ms/cm - mind you, for the most part these dissolved particles are not useful but toxic nutrient salts which nevertheless strongly increase the EC value of your nutrient solution or your substrate over time (to your plants disadvantage). As the upper table shows, younger plants need lower EC values under 1 ms/cm. So 0.9 ms/cm tap water full of toxic salts like sodium chloride provide no room for nutritional salts from your fertilizer bottles and could lead to sustainable damages at your plants.

A helpful solution for this very problem comes in handy in form of reverse osmosis filter units. There is a paragraph at the end of this article about such devices. Whenever you start a grow at a new destination, I highly recommend to measure the tap water there. If the tap water EC is over 0.4 ms/cm it's best for your grows success to invest in a reverse osmosis unit.

Plant physiology background on EC value:

Nutrient and water uptake via the roots depends largely on the EC gradient between the substrate / nutrient solution and the plants internal salts concentration. The goal is to achieve an equilibrium of nutrient concentrations between root cells and the nutrient concentration in the medium. To give an example, an equilibrium would be achieved, if both solutions in the root cells and substrate each consisted of 99% water and 1% nutrient salts. Or 98% / 2%. Important is just, that it's close to each other. If the ion concentrations of two solutions separated by a semipermeable, sieve-like membrane differ (e.g. 2% to 5%), the aim would be to equalize the concentrations, which is not to be confused with a pure mass or volume equalization based on simple pressure differences. That would be "just" diffusion.

Osmosis

The most important type of mass transfer for the EC value is called osmosis. In this process the individual components of a solution, in our case the water on the one hand and the nutrient salts on the other, do not move proportionally from one cell to the other, but always strive for a homogeneously concentrated solution in neighboring cells.

Imagine cell walls as a semipermeable membrane like a sieve, that lets small water droplets pass. As we know that two neighboring cells strive for same salt concentrations, there are two ways to achieve this: The cell with the lower salt concentration has to let some water flow to the neighboring cell to get both cells salt concentrations to the same level. Or the cell with the higher salt concentration sends some water to the cell with the lower concentration. And all this happens automatically, as salty water has no hurdle to flow through the semipermeable cell membrane. FYI: The semi-permeable membrane is semi-permeable, because it lets salt enriched water freely pass, but not bigger molecules like glucose. Transporting these bigger and more complex molecules has to be done actively with the help of some plant energy in the form of ATP. Water molecules in comparison travel between cells passively without the need of extra provided energy just according to different salt concentrations. The motor for water transport in the end is the transpiration suction of the leaves.

Effects of high medium  EC values with low plant EC values

If the nutrient solution or medium has a higher salt concentration and the plant in its root cells has a lower salt concentration then the root cells lose water to the nutrient solution as a result of this condition with simultaneous nutrient salt uptake and the cells can dry out. This occurs because a balance of salt concentrations in the cell sap and the surrounding nutrient solution is sought, with water leaving the root cells for dilution of the saltier medium or nutrient solution. At the same time, nutrient salts are drawn into the plant cells.
This causes an excess of nutrients in the plants cells and at the same time a shortage of water in the cell. Plants can die from this.

Effects of low EC value of the nutrient solution or medium with high EC values of the plants

If the salt concentration in the root cells is somewhat higher than in the nutrient solution, everything is fine. Because more salts are stored in the root cells, there is a gradiation balance in favor of the water in the direction of the root. This means that in favor of achieving a balance the saltier root cells are accordingly diluted with water from the nutrient solution in order to establish the concentration balance.

All in all, lower EC values are better for healthy plants. Because it's way easier to increase salt levels in plant tissues than get rid of too much salts in a plant. But if the EC value in the medium is too low for too long, that also could be a problem.
For example, if the EC value of the root is very high and the EC value of the nutrient solution is super low, too much water may be absorbed by the plant, while the uptake of nutrient salts doesn't happen. This then manifests itself in pale leaves, less dense and large flowers or overly slender growth. A classic case of under-fertilization.

In the plant, a high EC value of a nutrient solution manifests itself in wilting and hard leaves, stunted growth or even cessation of growth. This is a classic case of over-fertilization.

Role of plant EC value for photosynthesis and cell respiration

The challenge of the matter is the successive increase of the EC value in the plant - which also allows us to increase the EC value of the medium gradually without upsetting the osmotic equilibrium of the plant. [4]

The EC value in the plant increases over time because it draws water vertically through the xylem (water pipes) of the plant. The water carries the nutrient salts upwards, evaporates due to heat and leaves the salts back in the plant cells because they cannot leave the plant like water vapor can do. This is either due to their molecular size, and/or relative density/weight in comparison to water vapor. Thus, the nutrient salts keep stored in cells and get transported to where they are needed. In addition to the Xylem water pipes, there are other vascular bundles in the plant, called phloem, which can only transport nutrient salts and sugar throughout the plant. [5]

Basically, the plant first transports water and dissolved nutrients to the photosynthetic organs, mainly leaves, to perform photosynthesis. The main product of photosynthesis, the energy-rich glucose, is then transported via the phloem from the leaves back to the roots in order to be able to perform the second important metabolic process of plants: cell respiration.

The glucose production by photosynthesis is one of the plants first important metabolic processes in the energy supply chain of a plant and is made out of light energy, CO2 and H2O.

Glucose then gets transported down to the roots to be saved down there and gets destructed again to carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) in the process of cell respiration. During this process of cellular respiration the plant get a lot of chemical bound energy namely in the form of "ATP". FYI: Cell respiration plays a mayor role in production of fat buds. Because during the built up of flowers a lot of higher molecules like glucose has to be transported through the plant - for this there is big need of a lot of ATP, which is required by active plant transport mechanisms. In comparison to nutrition salts, glucose cannot pass semipermeable membranes.

The bottom line is, that cellular respiration works with the results of photosynthesis and vice versa.
Difficulty: Both processes take place at the most distant organs of the plant (leaves and roots). [6] I would like to show you a small sketch for clarification:

Top: Photosynthesis Bottom: cell respiration

The plant increases its own EC value slowly but continuously. Time is the determining factor.

The plant in the vegetative stage will grow very much in height and thus creates many cells and with some weeks of time, the plant can still grow in height and width and also lignify, continuously making new space for future nutrient deposits.
Thus, the EC value, the percentage of nutrient salts in the plant at the beginning of growth, does not increase significantly, more does the number of cells and the absolute amount of nutrient salts increase.

Later in the flowering stage, when the plant starts to grow in thickness and width, there aren't created so many new "superstructures" like before, but the existing cells get pumped up with nutrients and more important higher molecules like glucose. At that stage, of course, the plant can use a lot of nutrient salts, because the plant no longer concentrates it's energy on height growth and cell division, but on the pure accumulation of flowering mass and cells to increase it's own reproductive probabilities. This all happens in a fairly straightforward manner.

A plant grows, when the photosynthetic activity is higher than its cellular respiration

Cellular respiration is done by roots in the dark with the help of oxygen. A plant grows, when it undergoes cell division [3] and the individual organs of the plant, such as leaves and shoots develop.

It's essential to form enough photosynthetic organs (leaves), which on one hand provide the necessary transpiration suction to take up water through the roots, on the other hand mainly for the conversion of sunlight and water into glucose, oxygen and not to forget ATP (chemically bound energy; molecule). Proportionally to development of photosynthetic organs, the roots will start increasing in surface. Roots thus form, depending on the leaves surface for water and nutrient uptake, while the improved nutrient supply in turn allows the leaves to expand their biomass and thus photosynthetic activity. It all happens in circles.

The important connection at that point is: the more photosynthetically active organs a plant has, the more nutrients can also be converted into chemically bound energy (ATP), that can be used by the plant within cellular respiration. Roots and leaves resonate with each other in their growth process and are mutually dependent on each other, and it is more of a cooperation than a competition. Roots depend on leaves and leaves depend on roots.

The EC value of young plants is low because most of the energy in form of ATP is converted fairly directly for numerous growth and cell division processes. Storage of higher molecules and nutrients happens only marginally at the point, for example, to strengthen the shoot axis with a vigorous supporting tissue.

How the needs for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium change over a plants life cycle

You may have realized that most of the commercial plant nutritions contain higher amounts of Nitrogen in the vegetative formulas and more amounts of phosphorus for flowering fertilizers ("N-P-K" - the n stands for nitrogen and the p for phosphorus. K is potassium).

Nitrogen

The prioritization of energy use in the early stages of a plants life is clearly on the production of DNA, chromosomes, nuclei - the core structure of a plant, where amino acids play a big role. This needs a lot of amino acids to translate the information saved on the DNA into real plant structures. Chloroplasts have to be built up in leaves structures for performing photosynthesis. Nitrogen plays a big role in the synthesis of both chlorophyll and amino acids and in the construction of cell walls. Amino acids for example need only nitrogen out of all minerals found in a fertilizer bottle. Super simplified spoken, nitrogen plays a big role in establishing the basic frame of a plant that's later be filled with other molecules. [7]

Phosphorus

Later on during flowering, more phosphorus is needed in a plant, when a lot of energy is put into the formation of flowers. At this stage, much moveable nitrogen is already stored in the leaves for supporting new cell growth that occurs in the flowering stages when many new cells are built up for densely stacked buds and structural elements like trichomes and complex flavonoids like terpenes. For this, plants need a lot of energy to transport complex molecules through the plants cells in an active way. To do this in a short period of time, the plant needs a lot of energy in the form of ATP, which needs phosphorus to be built up - phosphorus is the only mineral out of a fertilizer bottle, that plants need for making ATP. As in the cell respiratory process way more ATP is built up than in the photosynthesis process. So plants have to establish a lot of leaves to produce glucose first, which is then transported down to the roots, where glucose can be converted into ATP in a way much larger amount than during photosynthesis. Take this just as another reason why plants need more phosphorus in the later stages. Because just then we have the basic requirements fulfilled for synthesizing huge amounts of ATP (-> glucose).

As cell replication rates increase exponentially during the flowering phase, also more DNA has to be synthesized at this stage. For this again, only phosphorus is needed out of all minerals that can be found in a fertilizer bottle. [8]

Potassium

Potassium (K) is needed equally at all stages of a plants lifetime, because this macronutrient is primarily responsible for regulatory mechanisms of the plant, for metabolic processes and support functions. A well-known plant process that's controlled by potassium is the level of transpiration by opening and closing the stomata cells at the bottom sides of all leaves . [9]

As at the beginning of a plants life there is mostly need for photosynthesis and not that much cell transpiration,

I hope this somewhat more comprehensive excursion into the world of fertilizers or nutrients has sufficiently explained the role of different ratios of fertilizer components in different stages of a plants life.
The more photosynthetic organs are available, the more ATP can be used over time for various processes, the more nutrients can be converted, moved and stored in the plant in percentage terms. It's like building a city: At first there is need for some infrastructure that's built with a lot of concrete (nitrogen) and then there is need for a lot of daily goods (phosphorus). In both the construction and the running state of a city there is need for people who run everything (potassium). Hope this comparison kinda works for you :D.

So, what's all the sience about EC for?

Now it should be clear that the EC value alone is not that meaningful. Most important is the gradient between plant salt concentration and medium salt concentration, which can be analyzed by measuring input EC and runoff EC. With gadgets like the Bluelab Pulsemeter you can even measure the EC of the medium by sticking probes in the medium.

However, experience has shown that the chart at the beginning of the article can be used as a guidance, when you don't have the abilities to measure everything. It's easy to see, that the EC value of the plant, and analogously also the target value of the nutrient solution, increases slowly but steadily during a plants life time. It's just important to make no huge jumps from low to high EC values, because this can damage a plant heavily. But with an even increase, some gardeners even can go up to EC values of 5 and higher and still have healthy plants. For such results, all parameters during the grow should be optimized in every detail.

With this knowledge, we can now also explain, why the EC value of the solution should be higher at flowering, than in the youthful stage of the plants. When flowering, cannabis plants need more nutrients, which they transport via further transport processes, from the root to the flowers, to form them nice and lush. They are also needed for nutrient storage, biochemical processes and compaction. Nevertheless, it has to be said that in the last 3-4 weeks of a grow the EC values should begin to get lower again as the plants don't produce much structures anymore during ripening.

Young plants on the other hand, which primarily perform photosynthesis, concentrate on building structure and, due to their under-prioritization of reproduction, they are not yet really interested in carrying out more complex metabolic processes for thick flowers, or are still limited in their possibilities at the beginning due to the small leaf and root surface. So they can perfectly grow with lower EC values.

The reverse osmosis unit

As i have already mentioned at the beginning of the article, the EC value of a solution in itself, has nothing to say about the number or the percentage of relevant nutrient salts in the nutrient solution. Tap water, for example, contains dissolved sodium and chloride ions, which influence the EC value, both in the nutrient solution and after uptake in the root, but they do not perform any function in the plant and rather cause damage.
For example that overall less of the usable nutrients can be absorbed in favor of the sodium and chloride. A high EC value in the plant due to useless salts, leads to water shortage and thus to symptoms such as soft, wilting leaves, growth inhibition, etc.

To remove all salts and enrich this relatively clean solution with the desired nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in a closed system, the water for the base of a nutrient solution should be run through an reverse osmosis system first. It's better to achieve the desired EC values with the bought bottled or powdery nutrients than through substances that bring no benefit but harm to our project.

osmosis system

usable and defective ions

The harmful ions in red and the nutritional ions in blue. Right picture shows optimum for plants.

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elektrische_Leitfähigkeit

[2] http://www.hortipendium.de/Salzgehalt

[3] https://www.spektrum.de/lexikon/biologie/osmose/48395

[4] https://www.pflanzenforschung.de/de/themen/lexikon/naehrstoff-wasseraufnahme-und-transport-347

[5] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00010968

[6] http://nawi.naturundbildung.at/wp/?page_id=3128

[7] https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/understanding-nitrogen-requirements-for-plants.htm

[8] https://ag.umass.edu/cafe/fact-sheets/fertilizing-flower-gardens-avoid-too-much-phosphorus

[9] https://extension.umn.edu/phosphorus-and-potassium/potassium-crop-production


In this drawing, rolling benches are moved to open an aisle. Top: 1,6m / 5ft wide rolling benches Bottom: 1,2m / 4ft wide rolling benches

The rolling bench issue: The perfect table width for cannabis cultivation

Today I wanna write about a topic, that made me think a lot in the past: The best size for rolling benches.

Rolling benches might look like a trivial topic for you. But deciding the width of rolling benches is a really crucial consideration when designing an indoor or greenhouse cannabis grow facility. The size of rolling benches in your facility have a big impact on how efficient your floor space is used and how easily plants can be accessed by gardeners for defoliation and other care keeping tasks. All this will contribute to the production cost of your cannabis products and should be well thought.

Technical aspects of rolling benches, that dictate rolling bench designs

Recently I had a talk with Greenfox, a leading horticulture company in Switzerland, which installs rolling benches in many CBD and medical cannabis facilities. Greenfox has much experience in technical solutions in the greenhouse and indoor grow sector and have great knowledge regarding technical aspects of rolling benches.

When I was designing my first indoor grow facility, I was keen on getting rolling benches, which are not wider than 1,20m or 4 feet. But when I reached out to Greenfox to get a quote, I got a fast feedback: They would recommend wider rolling benches because of better usage of floor space and lighting. I mean, I love great efficiency, but back then I was more thinking about work ergonomic aspects. I thought, with 1,2m or 4 feet wide tables, workers just have to reach plants 60 centimeters or 2 feet deep in the canopy. Even really small people with short arms can defoliate this way easily.

Ergonomic requirements vs. technical requirements of rolling benches

Unfortunately, not only work ergonomics make up the requirements for rolling benches, but also gravity and structural stability. So it turned out, that rolling benches with a width of just 1,20m or 4 feet can just be moved by 12,5cm on every side. This means, if we have two rolling benches side by side and move them both in a manner, that we get an aisle between them both, we just get 25cm of aisle width. This is way too less for workers being able to go through these two rolling benches to do defoliation or other plant keeping work.

For safety reasons, it's not possible for conventional rolling benches to move them even more sidewards. Because then, the table can either turn over the edge and fall down or the structural stability would suffer. So to get an aisle width of about 75cm, which is a recommended distance to work between two rolling benches, we would need 50cm of "dead floor space" between each rolling benches. So however the 1,20m wide rolling benches are moved, there will be always at least 50cm of "dead space" between the two tables. Dead space, where you cannot place plants to make efficient use of your rent or light energy.

Fortunately, with wider rolling benches you can partially avoid this problem. With 2m / 6 feet wide tables you can move each table by 35cm each side - this makes up for 70cm aisles without having any dead space between the rolling benches. But with 2m wide tables it gets really hard, especially for small people, to reach the plants located at the center of each table. One has to stretch his or her arms 1 meter or 3 feet to reach these plants. So I would think about a compromise between 1,2m / 4ft and 2m / 6ft tables.

I think, 1,6m / 5 feet wide tables would make the deal. Because in this setup you just have 25 centimeters or 10 inches of dead, unused space between each table to get 75cm wide aisles. And workers just have to reach plants 80cm deep, measured from the edge of the table. Just keep in mind: 2m or 6 feet wide rolling benches are best practice for ornamental flower or smaller herb greenhouses. But in these cases, workers don't have to grab into the canopy, but can reach all plants from above, as these flowers and plants are way lower in height than cannabis plants.

I just made some CAD Drawings, to show you the differences between 1,6m and 1,2m wide rolling benches.

In this drawing, all rolling benches are in their centered position.  Top: 1,6m / 5ft wide rolling benches Bottom: 1,2m / 4ft wide rolling benches
In this drawing, all rolling benches are in their centered position.
Top: 1,6m / 5ft wide rolling benches
Bottom: 1,2m / 4ft wide rolling benches
In this drawing, rolling benches are moved to open an aisle. Top: 1,6m / 5ft wide rolling benches Bottom: 1,2m / 4ft wide rolling benches
In this drawing, rolling benches are moved to open an aisle.
Top: 1,6m / 5ft wide rolling benches
Bottom: 1,2m / 4ft wide rolling benches

It's easy to see, that with the 1,6m wide rolling benches you use your valuable grow space way much better than with 1,2 wide rolling benches. I calculated a 16% better usage of floor space with 1,6m wide rolling benches. Especially when growing indoor, this makes a huge difference as floor space is way much more expensive than outdoors or in greenhouses. Just think of all the lights.

Fixed aisles for better aeration

When aiming for like 75cm wide aisles between the rolling benches when moved to the most outside positions, we still have these 25 centimeters of dead space between the 1,6m / 5ft wide rolling benches. What seems like heavily inefficient at first glance, turns out to be a big advantage in huge grow areas. Because all these gaps are useful for homogenous aeration and makes for better micro climates in the grow area. Also does it reveal all side branches of the plants positioned at the sides of each table to the top mounted light sources - so we will have more higher grade buds at the point of harvest.

Another advantage of the fixed way width for the 1,6m rolling benches: You don't have to move all rolling benches in your room to the side, to get an aisle somewhere in the middle of the room. For this we have this 25cm of aisle width, which is exactly the same as the moving distance to each side of the rolling benches.

To conclude the rolling benches issue:

In the end, you're free to decide which table width fits best for your very own grow project. Now you know some thoughts you can go though when planning and designing your own facility and can weigh up according to your personal needs, if you go with bigger dead spaces, wider tables or narrow aisle widths.

Don't forget to reach out to info@research-gardens.com, whenever you're in need of some help or consultancy for your grow project. Our team of well experienced horticulture engineers is here to help you out!