ARIZONA – A newly-released study by the Medical Marijuana Research Institute, which tested cannabis oil thinning agents, revealed that medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are among the safest thinning agents available to individuals who vape cannabis.
Published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the study analyzed four cannabis oil thinning agents – propylene glycol [PG], vegetable glycerin [VG], polyethylene glycol 400 [PEG 400], and medium chain triglycerides [MCT] – which were all heated to 230 degrees Celsius, the maximum temperature at which the plant’s chemical compounds vaporize but do not combust. The resulting vapors were then tested for formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein.
Conducted by Matthew D. DiDonato, Ph.D. and William D. Troutt, NMD, who co-founded the Medical Marijuana Research Institute and who have more than 15 years of cumulative research experience, the study revealed a large discrepancy between the two types of thinning agents – the natural agents (such as MCT and VG) and the petroleum-based agents (such as PEG 400 and PG).
The study revealed that: “Formaldehyde production from PEG 400 isolate was particularly high, with one inhalation accounting for 1.12 percent of the daily exposure limit, nearly the same exposure as smoking one cigarette. Because PG and PEG 400 are often mixed with cannabis oil, individuals who vaporize cannabis oil products may risk exposure to harmful formaldehyde levels.”
The Medical Marijuana Research Institute is the research arm of Harvest, Inc., a Tempe, Ariz.-based cultivator, producer and distributor of medical cannabis products, including Dream Steam, a vaporizable cannabis oil product that utilizes MCT.
“As the use of medical marijuana grows, so too does the demand for safe methods of consumption,” said Steve White, CEO of Harvest, Inc. “Even though Arizona doesn’t mandate that cannabis be tested, or enforce any kind of safety standard for cannabis, we have strict quality-control measures in place to ensure that we’re producing the safest, highest-quality products. We feel it’s our responsibility to not only conduct our own internal testing, but also to have our products independently inspected on a regular basis. As a leader in the medical marijuana industry, it’s important for us to test all cannabis products so that we are producing the safest ones in the market. This recent study validated that thinning cannabis oil with MCT is a safer alternative to a petroleum-based additive that produces harmful levels of formaldehyde when heated for vaporizing.”
Cannabis use in the United States has more than doubled between 2002 and 2013, and is expected to continue its growth trajectory. While 86 percent of medical cannabis consumption takes place through smoking, a concern about negative respiratory and health effects have increased interest in cannabis vaporization as a potentially safer alternative to smoking cannabis.
Vaporization creates an inhalable aerosol by heating cannabis to a temperature at which the plant’s chemical compounds boil. Because the cannabis is not heated to the point of combustion, fewer carcinogens and irritants are produced. Compared with smoking, vaporization is associated with fewer respiratory issues in cannabis users, which some researchers suggest is a result of lower exposure to toxic substances.
“We’re in the business of helping people battle painful medical conditions and debilitating diseases; we’re not in the business of adding to or creating any health issues,” said White. “It’s one of the reasons we feel so strongly that the potential health effects of petroleum-based thinning agents need to be front and center when it comes to regulating cannabis.”
About Harvest, Inc.
Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., Harvest Inc. is a national medical cannabis company that was founded by a business-litigation attorney in 2011. The company currently has dispensary, cultivation, and production licenses in Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, and Nevada, and plans to expand its reach into more states across the country.
Harvest’s dispensaries are not what you might immediately picture, as they tend to closely resemble a sophisticated medical facility or upscale retail store. Harvest dispensaries provide a safe, clean, comfortable, respectful and compassionate environment for patients looking to obtain medical marijuana. The company’s flagship dispensary in Tempe is considered a model for the industry, as evidenced through the reception of several awards. The company’s dispensary in Scottsdale is one of the largest in Arizona.
Harvest offers free informational orientation seminars for anyone interested in learning more about medical cannabis. Each dispensary location has a space where support-group meetings and lectures are held, including a physician-led new-patient orientation that’s free, family-friendly and open to anyone in the community, whether they have a medical marijuana card or not. The events provide the history of cannabis, strategies, ways to safely ingest it, and other basic topics to assist those considering medical marijuana as an alternative to traditional medications.
Patients who visit Harvest’s dispensaries are not who you might immediately picture, either. While they represent a broad cross-section of the U.S. population, most of them have one thing in common: a serious illness. Terminal cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and debilitating or chronic pain are among the top conditions that many medical marijuana card carriers have.
Harvest also operates a 12,000-square-foot indoor cultivation facility in Flagstaff, Ariz., and a 35,000-square-foot facility and 3.3 acres of outdoor cultivation space in Camp Verde, Ariz. The latter site features a fully- automated greenhouse with a building management system that senses and stabilizes the environment, thereby increasing efficiency and efficacy. Harvest has partnered with Quality Connections to employ individuals with special needs at its Flagstaff cultivation facility. This program creates economic opportunities and a sense of identity for a population that tends to fall behind both financially and socially.
Harvest also produces the Dream Steam vaporizer pen, which promotes the safe inhalation of cannabis. Dream Steam is a subsidiary of Harvest, and produces medical vaporizer pens and pen cartridges that mix cannabis oil with MCT, a fatty acid derived from coconut or palm oil that is often ingested as food or as a nutritional supplement.
To ensure sound manufacturing practices and patient-focused standards, Harvest invited Americans for Safe Access to inspect its facilities, audit its policies and procedures, and augment its training programs. Harvest is proud to be one of only a handful of facilities in the United States to earn ASA’s Patient Focused Certification for cannabis product manufacturing.
Since its inception, Harvest has donated more than $300,000 to Veterans, Seniors, patients-in-need, and charitable organizations that include the American Cancer Society, Bosom Buddies, Ryan House, Climb to Conquer Cancer, and the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona. The company also operates a (501(c)(3)) organization
called Harvesting Hope, which was established in 2014 to provide a better quality of life for young children suffering from pediatric epilepsy. To date, Harvesting Hope has provided services to more than 100 families and their children, including guidance on cannabis use for seizure control, educational seminars and discussions, and introductions to medical specialists. Harvesting Hope has also raised money to send children to Camp Candlelight, a camp for children with epilepsy.
For more information, visit harvestinc.com.
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