Us: Microscopic Images Reveal the Most Potent Cannabis Flowers in Incredible Detail

Im not interested in what they want to do with cannabis gmo style, they should just leave it alone imho..

but i liked the images :stoned: 


Microscopic Images Reveal the Most Potent Cannabis Flowers in Incredible Detail

On 10/29/19 at 9:40 AM EDT


Scientists have studied the trichomes (or “cellular factories”) of the cannabis plant in extreme detail, revealing that flowers with mushroom-shaped hairs are the most potent—both in terms of smell and cannabinoid content.


“Trichomes are the biochemical factories of the cannabis plant and this study is the foundation for understanding how they make and store their valuable products,” co-lead author Teagen Quilichini, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia (UBC), said in a statement.



Finola flower containing “frost-like” trichomes.Samuels Lab/UBC


The valuable products of the cannabis plants are its metabolites (i.e. the cannabinoids and terpenes), which are amply produced in the glandular trichomes of the female flower—aka the “marijuana bud.” These glandular trichomes come in three variations defined by their appearance—bulbous, sessile and stalked. However, until now, little was understood about how these different shapes affected the plant’s chemical outputs.


To find out, the researchers developed a technique involving two-photon microscopy and intrinsic autofluorescence patterns. This allowed them to study the internal structures of different trichomes in a hemp variant called Finola.


The results have now been published in The Plant Journal.



Multiphoton microscopy image of stalked glandular trichome. Samuels Lab/UBC


The result was that under ultraviolet light, the stalked trichomes possessed blue autofluorescence, reflecting the plant’s higher cannabinoid levels. Conversely, the sessile trichomes possessed a red autofluorescence, signaling lower levels of the metabolite.

The technique also revealed the stalked trichomes contained clusters of 12 to 16 secretory disc cells. Those in the sessile trichomes were smaller and fewer in number (8), while those in the bulbous trichomes were indistinguishable and, as such, could not be included in the analysis.


“We saw that stalked glandular trichomes have expanded “cellular factories” to make more cannabinoids and fragrant terpenes,” said co-lead author Sam Livingston, a Ph.D. candidate at UBC botany.


“We also found that they grow from sessile-like precursors and undergo a dramatic shift during development that can be visualized using new microscopy tools.”



Multiphoton microscopy image of glandular trichomesSamuels Lab/UBC


By looking at the DNA of the different trichomes, the researchers were able to confirm that the majority of genes involved in cannabinoid production are found in all three trichome types. Those in the stalked trichomes, the researchers say, appear to be particularly geared towards making cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)—a discovery that could have practical implications for those in the marijuana business, an industry already worth more than the GDP of nine states, Business Insider reported.


Anne Lacey Samuels, the principal investigator and a botany professor at UBC, described a “treasure trove of genes” related to the production of cannabinoids and terpenes, which could be tweaked to promote “desirable traits.”

“With further investigation, this could be used to produce desirable traits like more productive marijuana strains or strains with specific cannabinoid and terpene profiles using molecular genetics and conventional breeding techniques,” said Samuels.



Stalked (left), sessile (center) and glandular (right) trichomes. Samuels Lab/UBC


The next steps will involve finding out how the trichomes “export and store”metabolites. This is particularly intriguing as levels of metabolites in cannabis plants should be toxic to the cells, says Livingston. “We want to understand how they manage this.”

“Despite its high economic value, our understanding of the biology of the cannabis plant is still in its infancy due to restricted legal access,” Quilichini added.


Scientists Fix a Crucial Photosynthesis ‘Glitch’, Boosting Crop Growth by 40%

Scientists have fixed a natural flaw in photosynthesis, and as a result have boosted plant productivity by an incredible 40 percent compared to wild relatives.

Photosynthesis is the chemical reaction that lets plants turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into food, and this new hack could result in enough calories to help feed another 200 million people on our planet, from the same volume of crops


As of now, the fix has only been applied to tobacco plants, so we’re a long way off using this to boost our food supply. But it’s an incredibly promising first step. 

So what is this ‘glitch’ that needed fixing? It’s a little-known step in photosynthesis known as photorespiration.

“We could feed up to 200 million additional people with the calories lost to photorespiration in the Midwestern US each year,” says principal investigator Donald Ort from the University of Illinois Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

“Reclaiming even a portion of these calories across the world would go a long way to meeting the 21st century’s rapidly expanding food demands.”

To understand what goes wrong, you need to understand a little about the haphazard process of evolution. In the immortal words of Dr Ian Malcolm in the sci-fi classic Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way”. What he didn’t say is sometimes that way is an inefficient hot mess.

To be fair, evolution does what it can under the circumstances. Like a grad student keeping one eye on summer break, it does just enough to pass. Anything more is a wasted effort, after all.


For many plants, including rice and soybeans, when it comes to photosynthesis, it’s a bare pass. We’re talking a begrudging C-.

One of the most clumsy parts is a key step involving the enzyme ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (RuBisCO), which wedges a carbon dioxide onto the compound ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP).

Roughly 20 percent of the time, RuBisCO mistakes oxygen for the all-important carbon dioxide molecule.(Fun fact: RuBisCO is widely regarded as the most abundant protein on the planet) 

Not only is this a wasted opportunity, the result of this glitch reaction is glycolate and ammonia – two toxic compounds that need to be swiftly dealt with before they cause too much damage.

Fortunately plants have evolved a way to rid themselves of this poison, called photorespiration. They don’t mind spending a portion of their energy on this vital recycling process if it helps them survive.

But when it comes to growing them as a food source, we certainly do.

“It costs the plant precious energy and resources that it could have invested in photosynthesis to produce more growth and yield,” says lead author and molecular biologist Paul South with the US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.

Rice, wheat, and soybeans all suffer from this need to clear out toxic buildup. Not only do they happen to be three of the four crops our world’s population relies on for most our calories, we can expect their yield to drop in the future thanks to global warming.

“RuBisCO has even more trouble picking out carbon dioxide from oxygen as it gets hotter, causing more photorespiration,” says co-author Amanda Cavanagh from the University of Illinois.


There have been numerous efforts over the years to find ways to force crop plants into avoiding the need to detox.

Many have involved finding the most efficient photorespiration approaches taken by other organisms, including various algae and bacteria.

This latest effort is called Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE), and its approach was to select genes from elsewhere and test them out.

A handful came from the bacterium E. coli’s glycolate oxidation pathway. A second version used a gene for catalase also from E. coli, and some for a glycolate oxidase and malate synthase from plants.

Subject number three used a plant malate synthase gene and a green algal gene for glycolate dehydrogenase.


These were used in conjunction with other genetic tweaks to find the most energy efficient pathway among 17 different constructs.

The third photorespiration pathway was the one that stood out from the rest in final results, with metabolic activity surging more than 40 percent compared with controls. This gained energy translates into bigger yields.

It remains to be seen whether these same efficiency boosts will be translated to other crops, but the researchers are working on it.

Life doesn’t always find a way. But if we’re to get food to where it’s needed in the future, science will have to. 

This research was published in Science

Risks of cannabis use for mental health treatment outweigh benefits

New study shows evidence of positive outcomes is scarce while symptoms can be exacerbated


The use of cannabis medicines to treat people with depression, anxiety, psychosis or other mental health issues cannot be justified because there is little evidence that they work or are safe, according to a major new study.


A review of evidence from trials conducted over nearly 40 years, published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, concludes that the risks outweigh the benefits. And yet, say the authors, they are being given to people with mental health problems in Australia, the US and Canada, and demand is likely to grow.


Prof Louisa Degenhardt of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW Sydney, Australia, lead author of the study, said the findings had important implications in countries where medical use was allowed.


“There is a notable absence of high-quality evidence to properly assess the effectiveness and safety of medicinal cannabinoids compared with placebo, and until evidence from randomised controlled trials is available, clinical guidelines cannot be drawn up around their use in mental health disorders,” she said.


“In countries where medicinal cannabinoids are already legal, doctors and patients must be aware of the limitations of existing evidence and the risks of cannabinoids. These must be weighed when considering use to treat symptoms of common mental health disorders. Those who decide to proceed should be carefully monitored for positive and negative mental health effects of using medicinal cannabinoids.”


The authors looked for evidence of an effect of medicinal cannabinoids in trials conducted in depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychosis. They found 83 studies in 3,000 people. But the evidence of a positive effect was sparse.


There was, they said, “low-quality evidence” that THC, one of the derivatives of cannabis, could be helpful to people with multiple sclerosis or chronic pain who were also suffering from anxiety. But it made people with psychosis worse.


While there is little evidence that cannabinoids can help, the authors found more evidence in “a large body of research” of the potential harms. “This research suggests that cannabis use can increase the occurrence of depression, anxiety, and psychotic symptom,” says the paper.


A well-constructed study found that smoked cannabis actually increased the risk of acute psychotic symptoms. And young adults, the age group more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and psychosis, are more likely to become dependent if they use cannabis daily over a long period of time.


“These risks, and the limitations of existing evidence, need to be weighed when considering the use of medicinal cannabinoids to treat symptoms of common mental disorders. Those who decide to proceed should be carefully monitored for positive and negative mental health effects of using medicinal cannabinoids,” they write.


In a comment piece in the journal, Deepak Cyril D’Souza of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, said that “in light of the paucity of evidence, the absence of good quality evidence for efficacy, and the known risk of cannabinoids, their use as treatments for psychiatric disorders cannot be justified at present.”


In modern medicine, it is normal practice to prove safety and efficacy in trials before drugs are allowed to be given out to patients.


“If cannabinoids are to be used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, they should first be tested in randomised controlled trials and subjected to the same regulatory approval process as other prescription medications,” he add.

Cannabis farmers in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley fight government push for legalisation

Cannabis farmers in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley fight government push for legalisation


19 Oct 2018

Cannabis fields in the Bekka ValleyPHOTO: Abu Jafaar in his cannabis fields in the Bekka Valley. (ABC News: Aaron Hollett)

Key points:A plan to legalise cannabis production in Lebanon faces resistance from some of the growers themselves.



In the eastern Bekaa Valley, where the crop has been cultivated for centuries, the local farmers are suspicious of government efforts to create a legal cannabis industry.

“We view the legalisation of hashish as theft from our people,” says one grower, Abu Jafaar.

“As this crop generates a lot of revenues, so our politicians want to legalise it to steal that production.”

Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri has said the Lebanese government is preparing legislation that will allow the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes.

The move followed a report by consultants McKinsey into the ailing Lebanese economy, which has one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world.

The McKinsey report recommended 150 ways to improve the economy, including industrial-scale construction of pre-fabricated homes for Syrian refugees and expanded international markets for avocados and cannabis.

Field of cannabis in Bekka ValleyPHOTO: Abu Jafarr’s cannabis fields in the Bekka Valley, Lebanon. (ABC News: Aaron Hollett)


Cannabis has been grown openly but illegally in the eastern Bekaa for generations. The government raids plantations irregularly but the area is under the control of Shia militias, including Hezbollah, which tolerate the cannabis plantations.

Abu Jafaar says he has around 30 arrest warrants out against him. He carries an AK-47 with him in case of government raids, and says he will not be handing over his cannabis harvest to the authorities.

“If the solution to avoid raids is to let them steal our money, well we won’t accept that. I work in danger every day for the money. What we want is that they let us grow it and not raid us anymore.”

Close-up of cannabisPHOTO: Cannabis has been grown openly but illegally in Bekaa for generations. (ABC News: Aaron Hollett)


He feared his profits would be skimmed off by local officials.

His views were echoed by other growers who spoke to the ABC but did not want to be quoted.

Regardless of the view of these growers, research is being undertaken that may assist the legalisation process. Dr Mohamad Mroueh, a professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology at the Lebanese American University, is studying Bekaa cannabis.

“This is very new,” he said. “We’ve only been doing research for a couple of months. So far I’ve prepared the cannabis oil from a legal sample that we’ve received from the government and now we’re doing the pre-clinical testing against inflammation and against various types of cancer cells.”

Dr Mohamad MrouehPHOTO: Dr Mohamad Mroueh is studying Bekka cannabis. (ABC News: Aaron Hollett)


He’s also making a chemical analysis of the cannabis oil to work out the unique properties of Bekaa cannabis.

“The climatic conditions in Lebanon, the growing conditions, the amount of rainfall, the sunlight, the temperature, the humidity, the type of soil — all make a difference in the chemical constituents of a plant.”

Whatever the reason, Bekaa Valley grower Abu Jafaar has no doubt about the quality of the local product.

“That’s the best hashish in the world,” he says, gesturing towards the field of chest-high plants.

“There is no such quality elsewhere in the world, except Afghanistan, where you have a similar quality. You smoke this hashish once and you will never forget it. And then you’ll want to smoke it every day.”

On Vaping and Lung Disease

On Vaping and Lung Disease


A front-page story by Matt Richtel in the New York Times October 21 contains some useful info about the increasing incidence of lung damage caused by vaping, but gets the history wrong. And then gets it right. An editor should have caught the contradiction.


The online subhed sums up the story thus: “A technology initially promoted to help cigarette smokers has transformed marijuana use, too. Now, with cases of severe lung illness rising, health investigators are warning people to stop vaping cannabis.” The piece begins: “For years, a divisive debate has raged in the United States over the health consequences of nicotine e-cigarettes. During the same time, vaping of a more contentious substance has been swiftly growing, with scant notice from public health officials.”


The chronology is upside-down. E-cigs didn’t go on the market until 2007,  long after cannabis aficionados and medical users had begun vaping. In 2002 the German-made Volcano vaporizer hit the market in California (with an instruction manual that, for political reasons, made no reference to cannabis). In 2003 Dale Gieringer, PhD, ballyhooed vaping in  O’Shaughnessy’s first issue (Summer  2003) in a story headlined “Don’t Smoke, Vaporize”  Gieringer also published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics a paper called  “Cannabis ‘Vaporization’: A promising strategy for smoke harm reduction.” It described an experiment showing “that an electric vaporizer can successfully generate THC at 185 degrees centigrade while completely suppressing benzene, toluene and naphthalene formation.”  The Spring 2004 O’Shaughnssy’s ram a piece called “Volcano is to Vaporizer as Porsche is to Automobile.”  Dr. Tod Mikuriya recommended vaporizing to all his patients and the Volcano to those who could afford the >$600 price tag.   Other devices that heated cannabis flowers short of the combustion point would keep coming on the market.


Excerpts from the Times story follow:


Millions of people now inhale marijuana not from joints or pipes filled with burning leaves but through sleek devices and cartridges filled with flavored cannabis oils. People in the legalized marijuana industry say vaping products now account for 30 percent or more of their business. Teenagers, millennials and baby boomers alike have been drawn to the technology — no ash, a faint smell, easy to hide — and the potentially dangerous consequences are only now becoming evident.


Most of the patients in the outbreak of severe lung illnesses linked to vaping — which has left 1,479 people sick and 33 dead so far — vaped THC, the ingredient in marijuana that makes people high. Until more information is known, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned people not to vape cannabis products…


Last year, Dr. Neal Benowitz, a professor of medicine and a researcher on nicotine and vaping at the University of California, San Francisco, sent a letter to Congress warning of the risks posed by leaving a hugely popular practice unstudied.

“Very little is known about the safety or effects of vaped cannabis oil,” he wrote, cautioning that some ingredients mixed into the oils “could have harmful, toxic effect on users, including the potential for causing and/or promoting cancer and lung disease.”

“It’s disgraceful,” Dr. Benowitz said in a recent interview as reports of hospitalizations and deaths from vaping-related lung illnesses mounted. “I’m not able to take products we think are potentially harmful and do analysis. I can buy a vape device around the corner, but I can’t bring it into the lab and test it.”


The mounting toll of vape-related illness may turn into a boon for the regulated industry, which has long wanted law enforcement  to crack down on unlicensed producers. The president of the board of the United Cannabis Business Association, Jerred Kiloh, emphasized to Richtel that only vape pens and cartridges sold in regulated stores have been tested by California’s Bureau of Cannabis Controls. Kiloh (great name for a pot dealer) owns the Higher Path dispensary in Los Angeles. Richtel writes:

Vaping oils typically include other additives, solvents and flavor enhancers, and health investigators believe some such ingredients, including vitamin E acetate, could be responsible for some of the lung illness cases. The problem of unknown and potentially dangerous additives, Mr. Kiloh and others said, is vastly worse in a soaring black market in the nearly 40 states where recreational marijuana is still illegal.


Even in states where the drug is legal, counterfeit cartridges are cheaper than the licensed, tested and taxed products. It is hard for legal players who pay taxes to compete. A regulated vape pen with half a gram of THC costs $55, compared with $25 or less on the street for an untested product.


Richtel is evidently referring to Dale Gieringer’s 2003 paper, when he recounts:

In the earliest days of cannabis vaping, a small group of innovators saw the technology as a safer way to help medicinal marijuana patients. They hoped that vaping — which entails heating THC so that it turns to an aerosol — would be less harmful to the lungs than inhaling combusted marijuana.


But that ethos quickly gave way to a different lure: the pure convenience of vaping, which allowed users to avoid rolling joints, spilling ash, giving off a telltale smell — or getting caught. Vape pens brought the sheen of high technology to a drug associated with hippies and grunge, along with the discretion of, say, texting beneath the dinner table.


The harm-reduction ethos gave way to the generate-revenue ethos. Growers who sold manicured flowers to dispensaries could now sell to hash oil makers the leaves theywould have composted and the “shake” they would have donated to needy friends and family. The hash oil makers were given shelf space by dispensary owners and created a profitable niche for themselves in the industry. The market itself expanded because bringing cannabis in the form of oil  across state lines is so much less risky and more efficient than transporting bulky, odiferous flowers. As explained by Richtel in the Times:

Entrepreneurs began to extract oil by bathing the leaf in ethanol or butane, filtering out the solid material that remained and then evaporating the solvent to leave the concentrated oil. Another method used carbon dioxide, which, when pressurized, creates a fluid that can be used to extract the oil…


Once extracted, the THC oil could then be heated up using a small battery, kept in a cartridge or penlike case, creating aerosol, which is then inhaled from one end of the device. Consumers fell in love/

Businesspeople found they could use the entire plant to extract oil rather than throw away stems and other parts discarded by smokers, which maximized the value of the crop.


The oil also could be mixed with other additives to give flavor, to create the effect of big puffs of smoke or just to cut the THC to substitute less expensive chemicals.


You don’t have to be a regulated dispensary owner to assume that unregulated ganjapreneurs are making and selling the lung-damaging vape pens and cartridges. A looming  question is: which ingredients  are doing the damage?  A friend in the industry who suspects the fungicide Myclobutanil cites pathology reports of damage from “toxic fumes” and notes that “Myclo converts to Hydrogen Cyanide when heated.” He adds,  “The primary affected demographic is young adult males. This may or may not be simply representative of the user demographics. If there is a disproportionate effect on that population it may be due to a toxic conversion that is heat dependent. Healthy young males hit the pen harder, heating the oil hotter.”


The vaping boom has been facilitated by the War on Drugs and societal disapproval of smoking per se.  As Richtel observes, vape pens enable “discretion” by users. Drawing on a sleek little device can seem inobtrusve and respectable compared to firing up a joint. Maybe people forget —or maybe the news never got conveyed— that smoking marijuana does not cause lung cancer. A gold-standard study by Donald Tashkin and colleagues at UCLA established that cells damaged by cannabis smoke die off instead of metastasizing. Tashkin has established that smoking cannabis can cause bronchitis  —but not a higher rate of lung cancer (or emphysema or COPD),


Given that the real risk is bronchitis, maybe smoking marijuana will regain some of its popularity. Like vinyl LPs  The ecological impact of large numbers of people smoking American Spirits marijuana cigarettes would be close to zero. Till that unimaginable day, disposable vape pens and empty plastic cartridges made in China and purchased in the US will keep adding to the debris  coagulating in the ocean that everyone tsk-tsks about. Not to mention the poison leaching out  of the batteries.

Scotland’s drug death crisis: We risk walking into a minefield

Scotland’s drug death crisis: We risk walking into a minefield



There seems to be another head of steam building for a radical overhaul of our drugs laws. A unanimous vote at the recent SNP conference called for legislation controlling drugs to be devolved to Scotland apparently to allow for decriminalisation of possession and consumption of what are presently illegal substances.

Even allowing for the ‘them and us’ element so depressingly familiar in our political discourse today, it’s long overdue, there is little doubt that the 50-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act is well past its sell-by date, if it was ever really fit for purpose.


There is also, understandably, a strong sense that ‘something must be done’ and in the face of year-on-year rising drug death figures (1,187 last year) it’s hardly surprising.


At times like this, there is an almost irresistible urge to reach for an instant solution – that works ‘perfectly’ elsewhere, the elusive magic bullet that does not exist.

Let’s be clear. It’s high time our politicians were taking this human carnage seriously again, there has been precious little progress since ‘The Road to Recovery’ initiative was championed by Fergus Ewing over 10 years ago. Since then, local action teams have suffered severe budget cuts, losing services and impetus.

It’s also right that we do look abroad for good practice, Portugal and elsewhere – there is much to be learned with the obvious caveat that a straight cut-and-paste job is unlikely to succeed.

But there is a more fundamental problem, the current search for new solutions, while creditable, presumes that drug misuse is in itself the problem.

How will dealers react?

The evidence however would seem to contradict this at least in part, for while drug misuse spans all stratas of our society the hot spots of harm and the body count are concentrated in our areas of deprivation – where there is poor housing and low educational attainment, where unemployment and crime is high. Perhaps drug misuse is not the problem but a symptom of deeper social issues and, if so, then decriminalising certain drugs is unlikely to be the solution.

And there’s another problem, such radical policy changes are strewn with unintended consequences. Questions arise, like – if you decriminalise certain drugs how will the dealers and criminals who profit from them react?

Take cannabis as an example: legalise and therefore remove it from the illegal market, what is likely to happen? Will dealers accept the loss of their ‘bread and butter’ commodity, perhaps seeking gainful employment to make up the shortfall or will they try to undercut the legal market with stronger cannabis products or perhaps diversify into other markets, increasing the deadly synthetic drugs on our streets. Who knows? The results will differ from place to place, drugs misuse has always followed local trends.

Whatever the consequences of a shift in drug policy there will consequences and they may be profound. That is not to advocate that we should do nothing, a new coherent policy is desperately needed, but it must be a policy based on evidence carefully thought through. There are no magic bullets or simple solutions – there may well be good practice elsewhere but there will be no complete answers. We should also remember that once decriminalised it will be almost impossible to reverse the policy, put the genie back in the bottle.

The radical reform of drug policy in Scotland is essential but beware, it is a minefield of concealed and unexploded consequences – we must tread carefully.

Tom Wood is a writer and former Deputy Chief Constable.

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