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8 New Cannabis Cultivars to Be Excited About in 2019

Nate Pennington from Humboldt Seed Company talks us through the newest weed strains that we’re excited to see hit the market in 2019.

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cannabis cultivars
PHOTOS | Humboldt Seed Company
Rocket Seeds

It’s that time of year again when we rub our resin-sticky hands together with anticipation of the newest cannabis cultivars due to hit the market.

Nathaniel Pennington and his team at Humboldt Seed Company (HSC) recently conducted a phenotype mega-hunt to search through thousands of plants which generated more than a few “Unicorns” of the cannabis genome. We caught up with Pennington to go through their newest strains that we’re excited to see in 2019.

The Bling

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but the Bling will be your farm’s best bud. This strain is productive and fast growing, pest and mold resistant that boasts both insane trichomes and a heavy dose of THC. “Seriously though, this strain is no joke,” said Pennington. “Productive is an understatement and the trichome density on this beauty outshined the rest in a greenhouse with 3k unique seed plants at Happy Dreams Farm, who practices sustainable agriculture in beautiful Humboldt County”.

  • Breeder: Humboldt Seed Company/Happy Dreams Farms
  • Genetics: Humboldt Frost x Reserve OG x Humboldt Gelato
  • % Indica/Sativa: 75% 25%
  • Type: Indica Hybrid
  • Smell:  Gassy but also sweet and floral with hints of lime
  • Flavors: Alpha-Pinene, Myrcene, Limonene
  • Appearance: Silver/Green with hints of purples
  • Effects: Potent and intense, more ethereal than sedative

Willy G’s Lebanese CBD

Willy G’s Lebanese is taking the CBD cannabis world by storm. “From the legendary Bakka Valley in Lebanon through our product tester and cannabinoid specialist William Watson aka Willy G,” said Pennington. Originating as a landrace, it’s fascinating to think of the historic uses for this cannabinoid profile.

Upon discovering the unique cannabinoid make-up of this strain, HSC bred, phenotype hunted and selected four times to stabilize the cannabinoid levels of this silk road masterpiece of a medical breakthrough. This strain is incredibly unique and Willy G is a wonderful person who uses cannabis to help with the effects of his cerebral palsy.

  • Breeder: Humboldt Seed Company
  • Genetics: Lebanese Landrace x Willy G’s #8 x Willy G’s #2
  • % Indica/Sativa: 20% 80%
  • Type: Sativa CBD
  • Smell: Terpinolene forward with a floral finish, hints of concord grape
  • Flavors: Very rich in terpenes for a CBD strain, some say jasmine or dill
  • Appearance:  Frosty lime green flowers with speckled with purple
  • Effects: Highly medicinal, many say muscle relaxant, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory

Vanilla Frosting

The genetics of this strain are an improvement on what we’ve seen coming from the common various Gelato lines over the past few years. “Vanilla Frosting steers away from the short squat flowers of Gelato and heads to the skies,” said Pennington. Strong stalks leading to less breakage from the heavy dense buds that will fill your 1/8 jars or pipes for days… months, years.

The huge, proud trichome-covered buds with perfect gaps between the nodes lead to easy hand or machine trimming. An uncanny sweet vanilla nose at first followed by a straightforward fuel finish and often a 30%+THC producer.

  • Breeder: Humboldt Seed Company x Happy Dreams
  • Genetics: Humboldt Frost OG x Humboldt Gelato Bx3
  • % Indica/Sativa: 65% 35%
  • Type: Hybrid
  • Smell: Creamy Vanilla with a Heavy Fuel Finish
  • Flavors: Oddly Vanilla but OG at the same time
  • Appearance: Silver/Green Flowers with Purple Tones
  • Effects: A lofty high that’s super potent

Lemongrass

“Lemongrass is a new strain that we are extremely excited to share with the world,” said Pennington. With high THC levels complimented by juicy terpenes just gushing with lemon flavor, you won’t be left wondering why it’s called Lemongrass! The plants are huge and display hybrid vigor, meaning disease, mildew and mold resistance is high and flower structure is perfect for machine or hand trimming.

  • Breeder: Humboldt Seed Company
  • Genetics: Lemon Kush Bx5 x Humboldt Gelato Bx3
  • % Indica/Sativa: 70% 30%
  • Type: Indica
  • Smell: Lemon Drops, Sour, Fuel
  • Flavors: Sweet Juicy Lemons with Vanilla and Fuel Finish
  • Appearance:  Frosty Lime Green and covered in Trichromes
  • Effects: Extremely potent but uplifting

Banana Mango

With dominant banana and mango aromas, this strain packs a punch that might leave you on a tropical beach soaking up the sun for a little while longer than usual. “The terpene profiles that come together to make these unique seeds are relatively rare in our experience,” said Pennington. Huge plants and amazing vigor are another feature that you will certainly appreciate. THC levels are around 22% and trichome production is high. But it’s the nose that makes this strain so special!

  • Breeder: Humboldt Seed Company
  • Genetics: Mango Trees x Banana OG x Blueberry Muffin
  • % Indica/Sativa: 25% 75%
  • Type: Sativa
  • Smell: Bananas and Mangos with a hint of Terpinolene
  • Flavors: Banana Candy and Mango Nectar
  • Appearance:  Frosty Lime Green and covered in Trichromes
  • Effects: Many claim that this is an excellent medical strain and calms nerves

Magic Melon

“Many inappropriate names were tossed around for these gorgeous melons before we settled on a tame alliteration. We couldn’t help it, it’s uncanny how these buds smell like a luscious honeydew or cantaloupe, said Pennington.

Get ready to feel the magic when you take a toke of Magic Melon because this one hits hard and may bring out the philosopher in you. When it comes to growth and vigor this strain may be the largest growing most productive plant you’ve ever see. The THC levels are not bad, around 22% with around 1-2% CBD on average. The entourage effect of the cannabinoids has great potential to cure whatever ails you.

  • Breeder: Humboldt Seed Company
  • Genetics: Mango Trees x Honeydew Melon x Mango Sherbert
  • % Indica/Sativa: 40% 60%
  • Type: Sativa Hybrid
  • Smell: Literally smells like sweet cantaloupe/watermelon with a gas finish
  • Flavors: Uncanny Melon Flavors
  • Appearance:  Lime Green with hints of purples, orange hairs, frosty
  • Effects: Potent and intense, many say sedating

Very Cherry

“Very Cherry produced record amounts of terpenes in extraction and is literally one of the best smelling varieties that we have ever created,” said Pennington. “That says a lot considering that we created the Blueberry Muffins!”

The strain is likely to only produce around 18% THC but it’s incredibly loud and very unique. Bred it from seeds that were passed to HSC by a local old-timer several years back. One plant from that population smelled just like cherry cough drops and they have continued working that into this sweet cherry blossom masterpiece over the last few years. Simply for flower or definitely for sauce or terpene forward projects, this strain will not disappoint the discerning nose.

  • Breeder: Humboldt Seed Company
  • Genetics: Old Timer Seed x Lemon Kush Bx3
  • % Indica/Sativa: 30% 70%
  • Type: Sativa
  • Smell: Intense Sweet Cherries and Jasmine
  • Flavors: Slightly tangy with a floral finish
  • Appearance:  Frosty Lime Green and covered in Trichromes
  • Effects: A lofty high that won’t debilitate you. Great mid-afternoon smoke

Caramel Cream

A Phenotype Mega-Hunt winner, meaning that this plant stood out in a sea of 10k plant, scoring a perfect ten in the scent category. This one was a terpene forward selection although the growth, bud structure, disease, pest, and mold resistance were good. “We were so glad that we captured this terpene anomaly in clone form,” said Pennington. “For some reason, the smell captivates you and brings you back wanting more and more, it’s an oddly habit-forming smell.”

Naming this strain wasn’t as easy as naming something like our Blueberry Muffin though, it’s not fruity, it’s a bit fuelly, and it’s a bit nutty, but mostly it’s rich with uncanny salted caramel and cream flavor. Just like it’s namesake candy, it will have you gorging on it again and again.

  • Breeder: Humboldt Seed Company
  • Genetics: Humboldt Reserve OG x Royal Highness x Old School Cookies
  • % Indica/Sativa: 60% 40%
  • Type: Indica Hybrid
  • Smell: Salted Caramel and a Fuel Finish, Very high terpene content!
  • Flavors: Literally smells like Caramel… with a salty finish
  • Appearance:  Silver and Green Frosty, Purple under leaves at harvest
  • Effects: Really strong but still uplifting

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THC: This Cannabinoid Is the Reason You Get High From Weed

THC may be best known as a euphoriant that delivers a psychoactive effect, it also offers a multitude of medicinal benefits.

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THC
Mortgage Lifter PHOTO | Courtesy Humboldt Seed Company

Of the 113 cannabinoids that have been discovered in the cannabis herb, none is more infamous than tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Responsible for most of the psychoactivity and euphoria of cannabis, this cannabinoid does more than merely give suburban soccer moms a modicum of stress relief and college students ravenous munchies.

With all due respect to the molecules caffeine and ethanol, probably no other molecule in the history of humanity has been as misunderstood, stigmatized, or politicized as THC. From the reefer madness era of the late 1930s to the stereotype-laden films of Cheech and Chong in the 1970s to more recent movies like Pineapple Express (based on the name of a popular strain of cannabis), the truth about THC and its efficacy for humans often evades laypeople who consume content from only national media outlets.

The medicinal benefits of the molecule are numerous, ranging from relaxation and pain relief to appetite stimulation and sedation (great for insomniacs). Negative effects of this molecule include intense appetite stimulation (with predictable gastrointestinal consequences the following day), dry mouth, potential short-term memory impairment, paranoia and panic attacks (especially with sativa strains), and lethargy (typically in indica varieties).

The Details of THC

While THC may be best known as a euphoriant that delivers a psychoactive effect, it offers a multitude of medicinal benefits that far exceed the fabled “stoner” mannerisms of lethargy and forgetfulness. Despite its delivery of what is sometimes a potent euphoric effect (especially for new consumers), it is impossible to overdose on THC.

Assuming moderate and reasonable consumption levels, cannabis can serve as a positive lifestyle enhancement that delivers stress relief, mental wellness, improved energy levels, and even performance enhancement. Strains featuring relatively potent levels of THC include Blueberry, Ghost Train Haze, Master Kush, Trainwreck, and White Rhino.

Predicting the exact potency and efficacy of a particular strain of cannabis is difficult for a variety of reasons. For example, a theory called the Entourage Effect identifies how other cannabinoids and their aromatic cousins called terpenes can modify the effects of other cannabinoids and terpenes, including buffering or amplifying the effect or potency of THC.

One distinct characteristic of the molecule is tolerance building. While a subjective area of cannabis efficacy, tolerance building for daily consumers can be significant. To combat this problem, some indulge in a decades-long practice dubbed a tolerance break, during which they significantly decrease or cease consumption for between a few days and a week.

The Research on THC

A 2011 study conducted by cannabis research pioneer Dr. Ethan Russo entitled “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects” and published in the British Journal of Pharmacology provides a critical overview of THC’s medical benefits.

Concluded Russo and his team, “THC is the most common phytocannabinoid in cannabis and…is a partial agonist at CB1 and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2),” pointing out the herb’s myriad medical applications, including “activities as a psychoactive agent, analgesic, muscle relaxant, and antispasmodic.”

Russo’s team concluded that THC also functions as a bronchodilator and neuroprotective antioxidant while featuring 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.

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Everything You Need to Know About Microdosing Weed

There are great reasons for microdosing weed including medical conditions that benefit from it, and a few different ways to achieving the perfect dose.

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Microdosing Weed
PHOTO | Gracie Malley

Microdosing is the latest craze in cannabis. It has been utilized for some time, both with cannabis and LSD, but only now is the mainstream getting hip to the low dose strategy. There are great reasons for microdosing weed including medical conditions that benefit from and improve because of it, and a few different ways to achieving that perfectly sensible dose.

Wait, First… What Is It?

Microdosing weed is when a person consumes very small amounts of cannabis in order to receive the benefits of whole plant medicine (THC, CBD, terpenes, etc) while experiencing very little to none of the “high.” It isn’t for those times when you want to get ripped and watch an entire season of Westworld and chow down, it is not going to produce that kind of experience. It is more or less a medical use technique that can be utilized day to day without affecting one’s overall state of mind. It is basically the opposite of a dab or trying to find the biggest pre-roll with the highest THC strain you can.

So Why Microdose?

As cannabis becomes more popular, and more people want to harness its power, the demand for less psychoactive pot rises. Not everyone likes to get the giggles, or the munchies, or the long trains of thought that tend to present themselves when a person gets stoned. Others do enjoy the laughing, eating and philosophizing but need something more manageable during their work day and family time.

Microdosing to the rescue. Now you can get just a little high, without any of the headiness or outward signs that you have been consuming anything at all.

Family reunion? Microdose.

Big meeting at work? Microdose.

Irritatingly long wait at the DMV? You guessed it – microdose.

More seriously, if you work a 9-5 and suffer from back pain from sitting at your desk all day long – you could be microdosing to alleviate those aches and pains without making it obvious that you are medicating with cannabis throughout the day.

Potential Medical Benefits

Unfortunately, because cannabis is a Schedule I drug, the federal government claims that it has no medical value and therefore has not been studied as much as it should be. Most scientific studies on that have been completed on cannabis consumption are animal based. While many of those animal studies can absolutely translate to apply to human beings, it is certainly not the same as results garnered from actual human studies.

There have been studies on the benefits of administering low doses of synthetic cannabis pharmaceuticals in humans. Those results are typically positive in regards to microdosing. However, like the animal studies, results from synthetic cannabis studies do not fully represent the results that could be gathered from studying real, naturally sourced marijuana.

With that said, there are incredible amounts data supplied by cannabis users, and a bevy of recorded favorable results, that go toward proving that marijuana is an effective way to treat a variety of medical conditions. Microdosing can help almost anything that using cannabis will – just in a much smaller and more controlled way. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), insomnia, glaucoma, nausea, wasting syndrome, and moderate pain are just a few of the conditions that can benefit from microdosing weed. However, medical issues like cancer and epilepsy, that are treated with large amounts or very concentrated forms of cannabis, are not necessarily best suited for treatment with microdosing.

Think of it like this… if you have achy muscles you can take an over the counter pain reliever twice a day for relief but if you have severe pain in your joints and muscles that requires a prescription painkiller, the over the counter medicine isn’t really going to make a dent. The same can apply for microdosing. If your condition can be treated throughout the day in small doses, microdosing could be a beneficial, natural way to treat the problem. If you only experience relief from consuming an entire joint or 100 mg edible, microdosing is likely not going to be the best way to alleviate the issue.

Start low and find your sweet spot.

Consumption Options for Microdosing Weed

Microdosing weed can be achieved a few ways.

An oil cartridge and vape pen is one of the easiest ways to consume small, controlled doses of cannabis. A vape pen is discreet, clean, and odorless. Many vape pens have an auto-shutoff after a few seconds, so doses can be regulated with ease.

Edibles are another great way to microdose. Infused food or candy manufacturers have caught on and started producing products in smaller doses in order to service the microdosing market. Edibles of yesteryear could only be found in 50 mg, 100 mg or higher dosages. Now, you can purchase a bag of candies infused with 2.5 mg, 5 mg or 10 mg.

You can also microdose with smoked cannabis, but it is more difficult to do so covertly. If keeping your use under wraps is important, smoking cannabis should be your last choice due to the lingering smell alone. However, a loaded one-hitter or chillum is an adequate way to limit the dose you consume while still benefiting from the plant’s medical properties.

Whether you vape, eat, or smoke cannabis to microdose is up to you. In many circumstances and for many medical conditions, microdosing can be a better option than an all-out cannabis consumption free for all — less fun, sure, but not everyone is after the same experience with weed. As cannabis becomes more widely accepted, so does the trend of microdosing. Give it a shot, see if the shoe fits!

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Why Independent Third-Party Cannabis Testing Is Important

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Cannabis Testing
PHOTO | HQUALITY

During cultivation, the cannabis plant acts like a sponge. It absorbs everything it is exposed to, from pesticides, nutrients, and heavy metals present in the soil. For these reasons, it is essential that reputable and reliable third-party labs carry out cannabis testing to assure safety and efficacy of the product.

Lab testing of cannabis products is an essential part of the regulated market’s supply chain. It detects offensive chemicals or contaminants that can lead to adverse health effects when consumed, while additionally providing cultivators and retailers with efficacious cannabinoid and terpene profiles of legal cannabis products. 

In Canada’s regulated market, batch release quality control testing is required for potency and product safety, so it is necessary to measure substances like pesticides, mycotoxins, bacteria, and molds. Unfortunately, reports on potency and contaminants can vary from lab to lab, while recalls of contaminated products threaten consumer trust of legal products. 

Sigma Analytical Services is a full-service pesticide, elemental, molecular, genetic, and pathogen analysis laboratory for cannabis, hemp, and cannabis-derived products. It delivers reliable science for cannabis products to the cannabis industry and cannabis consumers.

Cannabis Aficionado spoke with Ashton Abrahams, co-founder and COO of Sigma Analytical Services, to learn more about the importance of cannabis testing and Sigma’s strict processes.

Cannabis Aficionado: Tell me about your entrepreneurial journey to cannabis.

I’m a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in starting and growing several successful ventures. In 2017, when Canada was in the process of legalizing cannabis, my partner and I saw an opportunity to focus on a different side of the new cannabis industry — ancillary testing and quality reassurance requirements. We knew there would be new products in the market, and they would all require testing. So, we started a testing lab that focused on cannabis and cannabis products, and this is how Sigma started.

What sets Sigma apart from other testing labs?

We want to ensure products available in this new market are efficacious and safe, and ensure the levels of both remain consistent. Sigma is the only GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified, cannabis-focused lab in Canada and the only cannabis-focused lab with cross-continental operations. We developed and validated our methods back in 2018 and 2019, so we are the frontrunner in Cannabis 2.0 product testing and are set up to test a comprehensive list of cannabis products — including flower, edibles, beverages, and topicals. 

Sigma also has validated methods for quantifying and testing 16 cannabinoids and 43 terpenes — one of the highest in the market — and our analytical and microbiology tests are compliant with Health Canada, EU, and US Pharmacopeia.

Additionally, Sigma was awarded the Best Cannabis Lab/Testing Facility in Canada at the Grow Up 2019 awards.

Inside Sigma Analytical Services’ state-of-the-art lab.

What need does Sigma fill in the global cannabis industry?

Sigma brings reliable science that is already available in food and pharma to the cannabis industry, its products, and consumers.

Cannabis, food, and pharma share certain quality requirements. However, there is a big difference: in terms of quality assurance, food and pharma have decades of testing experience, while cannabis is a new industry, and the science is still being developed. 

What kind of samples do you test?

We have developed and validated testing methods for many different types of cannabis products, from traditional dried flower and oils to Cannabis 2.0 products , such as concentrates, beverages, edibles, and topicals. From a testing standpoint, each and every one of these products is different and can have a different matrix. In turn, we develop a testing  method for each one.

What should customers be looking for to see reassurance that a product’s been tested? 

Make sure their products are purchased through legal channels. It’s the regulatory bodies’ responsibility to make sure the products launched in the market are not just tested, but tested specifically by qualified labs.

Moldy cannabis is a problem in legal markets and there are numerous reports of Health Canada product recalls after customers discovered moldy flower. Can you talk to us about how you test for these pathogens?

From day one, instead of using the traditional culture-based method, Sigma has tested for mould and all microbial contamination using a newer technology called qPCR (quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction). When we first started it in late 2018, nobody was familiar with it in the cannabis industry, so we had to take time to explain to our clients that it was a better, more reliable, and faster process. In the last six months, however, we have seen a huge shift in attitude. Not only have the cannabis producers accepted qPCR, but more cannabis labs are starting to use the technology to test for microbial contaminations.

Cannabis Testing
Moldy cannabis. PHOTO | LabRoots

What are some of the most exciting developments in cannabis testing?

Using qPCR for microbial contamination is very new for the cannabis industry. We’re happy and excited about it because we see the benefits and we hope the whole cannabis industry embraces it. 

Secondly, the challenges of formulating, developing, and testing new products. The developments in the past six months have been really promising.

Thirdly, discovering more about the cannabis plant and what ends up in cannabis products is really an exciting development. As we progress, we are sure to learn more about the effects of cannabinoids and terpenes.

What’s your pinnacle vision of cannabis testing?

There are two sides to it. There is a regulatory side, and there is the testing side. On the regulatory side, it’s about what needs to be tested, and how it needs to be tested. 

A very important part of the quality assurance initiative for cannabis is ensuring the testing sample is representative of that batch. There are different factors in place. Is that batch homogeneous or not? Are the characteristics consistent or not? Cannabis is a plant. It’s an agricultural product. It’s not something that’s coming out of a machine, so we cannot expect all of the plants to have exactly the same characteristics. I believe one key is to limit the size of the batch. Other jurisdictions have clearly defined regulations. For example, in California, it clearly states that each batch cannot be larger than fifty pounds. In the Canadian regulations, there is no definition at all.

Secondly, labs need to get more serious. Some labs are testing cannabis products with outdated instruments or unvalidated methods, meaning their results cannot be truly accurate or reliable. Cannabis labs cannot use a 15-year-old second-hand instrument and expect to get the same results as pharmaceutical labs that use the best, most advanced instruments. Some people might think that testing cannabis products is not as important as pharmaceutical products, but it is just as important.

Cannabis has a very complex matrix which requires complex testing methods. Not all labs have good enough or validated methods. However, I’m optimistic that it’s a matter of years, maybe between five to ten, for cannabis testing to get there.

How is Sigma helping to foster the growth of a responsible and safe legal cannabis industry?

I think everyone active in the cannabis industry has a responsibility to make sure they are doing a good job and providing safe and efficacious products to the consumer. That’s because, if the consumer is not happy with what they’re getting from us, it will translate into unhappiness with the whole legalized framework.

Finally, what’s next for Sigma?

We are going through some expansion at our headquarters in Toronto and we’re about to acquire a lab in British Columbia, which will be our second lab in Canada. Additionally, we have a joint venture in Colombia and are setting up the first GMP certified cannabis lab in South America.

We are also becoming more involved with helping develop formulations for new products, and testing them, especially for the producers that follow GMP requirements either in pursuit of higher quality or for international cannabis markets.

We also recently received our GMP clearance from the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (“TGA”). The approval designates Sigma as an approved testing laboratory for Canadian companies to introduce their products into the Australian cannabis market.

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