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Health & Wellness: Mind, Body and Soul

The Cannabis Consultant: THC? CBD? How do we know what’s what?

In this recurring column, we help disambiguate some herbal terminology with the help of Berkshire Roots

  • 4 min to read
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10th Planet is a new strain for Berkshire Roots in Pittsfield.

Hi there, Eagle readers! Welcome to the first installment of The Cannabis Consultant, a new, sponsored column that aims to educate and help clear the air about medical and adult-use cannabis.

For this inaugural run, we sat down with the experts at Berkshire Roots, a medical and adult-use dispensary that’s both expanding its footprint and job opportunities, including for Massachusetts communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by the draconian drug laws of the 1980s and stigma that came long before.

The company is expanding its Pittsfield production capacity and has expanded to Boston, with a retail operation in an underserved neighborhood. The cannabis operator has also teamed up with Berkshire Community College to provide students from a variety of educational, socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds with classroom and hands-on experience, horticulture certification and good-paying jobs in Berkshire Roots production facilities.

I, for one, have lived with chronic pain for nearly five years: It’s chock full of good times! Because I never had interest in opiates as a solution, you can imagine my thanks in 2016, when our state government caught up with ancient medicine, and places like Berkshire Roots cropped up to help people like me and the many others who live with pain and far worse.

New Eagle section will highlight the latest in what it takes to feel good

For medical patients and those adults who use cannabis or who prefer it over alcohol, Berkshire Roots has proved to be a lot like “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name (with cannabis being legal, it’s OK if they know your name now).

Berkshire Roots staff is friendly, knowledgeable and always ready to help. It doesn’t hurt that they have classic and new school beats pumping from their surround sound speakers. Here’s what they had to say recently in a chat with The Eagle, as we all look ahead with hope for the new year:

Q: For starters, what’s the difference between medicinal cannabis versus adult-use cannabis?

A: The answer is — they are the same. When a physician helps a patient treat an ailment or condition by recommending cannabis, the patient will purchase legal cannabis products that are the same as what is offered to adult-use consumers. Both have tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana that causes psychoactive effects, as well as a host of other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, each of which have effects on the human mind and body.

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Employees at Berkshire Roots prepare cannabis concentrate, prior to the pandemic.

Q: Cannabidiol, or CBD, products seem to be everywhere these days. Is that a medicinal option?

A: CBD is believed to affect the immune and nervous systems. In addition to its mitigating effect on anxiety, pain and inflammation, CBD has shown promising results as a treatment for some forms of epilepsy. Often people refer to CBD products from hemp as “medicinal” and view cannabis-derived products as recreational. The truth is … that’s not true. In fact, CBD is also found in cannabis-derived products in varying ratios. Hemp is a close cousin of cannabis, but the legal hemp/CBD products cannot contain more than a tiny bit of THC (0.3 percent, to be exact). The unknown issue for any consumer is whether a CBD product will help alleviate the ailment or condition a person wants to treat. If it does, great. If not, you might need that ensemble effect — some level of THC — to unlock the endocannabinoid system to get the results you want.

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A Berkshire Roots technician stays busy in the days before the pandemic.

Q: Wait! What? Endocannabinoid system? Ensemble effect? What are they?

A: In 1964, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli chemist, announced that he and his colleagues were able to isolate tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of hundreds of compounds found in the cannabis plant known as cannabinoids. The discovery was linked to a little-known part of the human body called the endocannabinoid system. Although not well studied, this system exists within our bodies just like we have respiratory, nervous and digestive systems, and relates to sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction and fertility, according to some of the latest research. Another famous cannabis researcher, the late Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a former professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, referred to the combination of elements as the ensemble effect. Called the entourage effect by some, Dr. Grinspoon believed the relationship between the elements was more like members of an orchestra, each playing their part, as opposed to a star surrounded by friends (the entourage) who do not play a role.

Q: Should I pursue a hemp-derived product or a cannabis-derived item?

A: The distinction is whether one versus the other will help you achieve relief, relaxation, or whatever benefit you are seeking. It’s also possible, with the right cannabis-derived product, at the right dose, taken at the right time of day, you can limit the psychoactive effect of cannabis-derived products. To discuss what’s right for you, you can speak with Berkshire Roots’ dedicated and educated team members.

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On Tuesday, Berkshire Roots rolls out its virtual cannabis consultations. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can select a time best for you to meet remotely with a team member to discuss your cannabis journey.

Q: How should I get in touch with the experts at Berkshire Roots?

A: Come visit us! We welcome all 21-plus, with a legal ID of course, and also offer pre-orders online. We’ve built a chat function on our website to allow our customers another means of access to information through our team. It’s another way that folks are able to connect, ask questions, search for details about our locations and products. We have team members available during our normal business hours who are here to help. You can ask general questions, like what type of ID can I use, or about specific products, anything that will help you with your Berkshire Roots experience. We understand this can be overwhelming and intimidating or just a new situation for many, and this virtual option is a great way to break the ice.

Q: What else is on the horizon for Berkshire Roots?

A: Much more to come! We’re excited to test a new feature this week, our virtual cannabis consultations. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can select a time best for you to meet remotely with a team member to discuss your cannabis journey.

Do you have questions about cannabis, hemp or CBD products and treatments? Send your questions to The Cannabis Consultant at nhoffenberg@berkshireeagle.com for possible inclusion in an upcoming installment of the Cannabis Consultant, a sponsored, informational column that aims to elevate the discussion and knowledge about cannabis.

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