Editor’s Note: Welcome to our newest bi-weekly column, High Folks: the cannabis-infused version of Humans of New York, in which we take an intimate look at people’s relationships with our most beloved plant. The connection between humans and cannabis is primal, dynamic, and profound. But it’s something that’s increasingly overlooked in the new age of weed. So in an effort to combat the superficiality of cannabis in the social media-age, High Times is proud to present to you a collection of work that highlights one of life’s most beautiful gifts: connection.

On the back of a black 2005 Chevy Tahoe z71, the statement “fuck cancer” is disruptive and haunting. The words also follow you up and down Nick D’Amelio’s Instagram feed like an unwanted ghost. When we ask the 24-year-old from Waldwick, New Jersey, what “fuck cancer” means to him, he begins by telling us the story of how his relationship with cannabis began.

“On my 18 birthday, I wasn’t aware that my stepfather was sick but it seems that I smoked the joint that started it all,” D’Amelio tells High Times.

In August 2013, Nick’s life became a wildfire of confusion. His stepfather, Peter Allen, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. At the time of the diagnosis, D’Amelio’s relationship with cannabis was just blossoming.

“My friend said ‘Let’s get high!’ At the time I didn’t smoke, but I told him if he could roll a joint, then I would smoke it,” says D’Amelio, reminiscing on his 18th birthday. “He ended up YouTubing it, and I ended up having to smoke the joint because he rolled one.”

Shortly after his birthday, D’Amelio’s mother Fran Benintende, took his stepfather to the hospital for Ulcerative Colitis. That’s when they found out about Allen’s cancer.

“It felt like someone had punched us in the face when [Allen] was diagnosed,” Benintende tells High Times in a phone interview. She says it felt like her husband had been handed a death sentence.

Allen was the athletic-type, weighing in at 200 pounds and 6 feet tall. “It was heartbreaking watching him become so weak.”

D’Amelio was dazed when his stepfather was diagnosed. “I really didn’t understand how quickly this was going to change our lives,” he says. “I honestly started to feel helpless. I’m a ‘fix it’ kind of guy, and I felt like there was nothing I could do.”

Benintende married Allen when her son was around 6-years-old. “They had a very close relationship,” she says. “It was very open and honest.”

The closeness of their relationship allowed  D’Amelio and Allen to form a bond around cannabis. “[Allen] was smoking weed when his colitis was acting up and it was helping him a lot,” says  D’Amelio. “We started smoking together as he got sicker. And it really started to help him. The only time he ate and the only time he wasn’t in a shit-ton of pain was when he smoked.”

“Cannabis to me is the answer to everything,” D’Amelio says, “or almost everything.”

Allen died on Aug. 8, 2013. Then, about a year and a half later in November of 2014, D’Amelio’s cousin, Zach Koop, was diagnosed with stomach cancer. “I started to dive deeper into learning about cannabis, CBD, and oils,” says D’Amelio. “I was trying to encourage my family to try it, but no one would really listen.”

Koop went into remission, but like many who battle cancer, it came back with vengeance a year-and-a-half later. Koop died on May 3, 2016. Towards the end of his cousin’s life, however, the family began listening to the information D’Amelio was providing. They allowed Koop to take CBD oil.

“The CBD oil was the only thing that encouraged him to eat and have an almost normal conversation,” D’Amelio says. “In my eyes, the last few weeks of his life weren’t so miserable for him because of the CBD. My aunt told me that the CBD really did do something. After that, I promised myself that cannabis can do amazing things.”

After the death of his cousin, D’Amelio was motivated to learn all he could about cannabis. He began to do his own research and eventually, he enrolled at the New England Grassroots Institute, now The Leaf Collaborative, where he learned the history and science of cannabis as well as extraction science, dosing, and how to perform these tasks in a professional manner. This led him to become a Medical Marijuana Technician in upstate New Jersey.

“Cannabis to me is the answer to everything,” D’Amelio says, “or almost everything.”

Dr. Donald I. Abrams, an integrative care oncologist who’s researched cannabis since 1977, wrote “Should Oncologists Recommend Cannabis?” for the ASCO Post in December 2018.

“I have seen countless patients with cancer benefit from the therapeutic effect of this versatile botanical therapy,” Abrams says.

He even believes that cannabis should be introduced at the beginning of a cancer treatment plan because it has been proven to be highly effective in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, sleep deprivation, and anxiety. Though he’s supportive of using cannabis as part of a standard cancer treatment plan, he cautions against Internet advertising that says cannabis is a “cure” for cancer.

“There is no evidence that says cannabis kills cancer cells,” Abrams tells High Times. He believes that it’s criminal to tell people such a thing because there isn’t a lot of evidence available yet to back up those claims.

In Chapter 15 of The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research, Abrams outlines all of the barriers that stop medical researchers from learning more about the medical effects of the plant.

“In the absence of an appropriately funded and supported cannabis research agenda, patients may be unaware of treatments, policy-makers may be hindered from developing evidence-based policies, and healthcare organizations and insurance providers lack a basis on which to revise their care and coverage policies,” he writes.

Ultimately Abrams says the challenges faced by medical researchers to learn more about cannabis is a public health problem.

Though there isn’t a lot of medical literature that supports D’Amelio’s belief that cannabis can cure cancer, he says he’ll continue to advocate for it. He cites the Machado Rocha study that used THC oil on rats and determined that “cannabinoids selectively killed glioma [cancer] cells while leaving normal brain cells unharmed.”

“I’ve met people who were supposed to be dead,” says D’Amelio. “And when people do cure cancer with cannabis, doctors don’t wanna hear it!”

Matt Sciolaro, D’Amelio best friend of more than 12 years, says that says D’Amelio is extremely dedicated to changing the narrative around cannabis. “I’ve seen him make an impact on his own family members who’ve struggled with battling cancer. Even when the situation didn’t look good he was still there to provide insight on some ways cannabis could help them.”

Sam Collins, D’Amelio’s girlfriend, is continually amazed at how excited he gets about the plant. “He can literally talk for hours about it,” she says.

His passion for helping educate medical marijuana patients in New Jersey has trickled over onto social media and among patient groups where he gives advice to those interested in adding cannabis to their treatment plans. D’Amelio is currently looking for jobs in the cannabis industry and has plans of opening his own dispensary in New Jersey in the coming future.

The post High Folks: Cancer, The Ghost of Nick D’Amelio’s Past appeared first on High Times.

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1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.

CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.

2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?

Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.

3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?

Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. organic hemp seedsTypically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!

99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.

In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?

The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.

Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.

5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?

colorado growing operationWe feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.

6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?

Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.

7. What is the best method of use?

For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.

8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?

There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.

9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?

Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative CBD Oil Extractside effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.

10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?

As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.

When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.

The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.

For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.

THOSE WHO SUSPECT THEY MAY HAVE A DISEASE OR ARE SEEKING HELP FOR A DISEASE SHOULD CONSULT A QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.

11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?

In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.

12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?

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Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.

13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?

No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.

We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor thereCannawell.

14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?

Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†

Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.

15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?

We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. mjna message boardWe also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.

16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?

We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.

17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?

CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.

Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.

18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia

There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).

For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.

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