The disaster that Hurricane Maria created in Puerto Rico is only the most obvious part of the rolling disaster that white America has been inflicting on this enslaved nation for over a hundred years. Yup – enslaved. We call it a “territory”, which is a nice-sounding but evil concept right out of colonialism and it has absolutely nothing to do with democracy. A deliberately innocent word that
actually means ownership. Puerto Ricans are American slaves by definition. “It’s our territory. Sure, you’ve got house privileges but you’re still slaves. We’ll even pretend you’re citizens if that makes you feel better, but we own you.”
Clearly two things have to happen for recovery not just from Hurricane Maria but from 100+ years of American colonial enslavement. Puerto Rico needs to break its chains and declare itself an independent nation – not a US state – and then they need to declare the cultivation of Coca legal. The US would scream and threaten and probably take all their marbles and go home, but it’s a safe bet that Puerto Rico could pull the whole thing off with style. The world would be watching every move and there would be absolutely no shortage of capital flowing in – not aid, investment.
I apologize if I appear to be commenting as an outsider without a dog in the race, but when you look at the history of Coca, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti all have a documented history of more-or-less successful coca cultivation. That history was interrupted by American prohibitionist/imperialists a hundred years ago, and it now lies almost forgotten in obscure archives. My dog in the race is to dig out and point to that history and ask questions that might help people reconnect.
IMO Puerto Rico has an incredible opportunity in Coca cultivation, based on pretty solid evidence. In the 1930’s the USDA Experimental Station in Mayaguez ran a series of experiments, growing thousands of Coca plants around the island. They found that Puerto Rico’s “coffee country” is a highly productive coca-growing region with nearly ideal conditions. (Report of the Puerto Rico Experiment Station, 1939, USDA, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Issued 10/40)
The coffee-growing region of Puerto Rico was literally wiped out by Maria – the entire region will have to be re-planted. This is the perfect time to declare independence and re-plant the coffee region with Coffee, Coca and Cannabis. I don’t see why all three can’t be inter-planted, although it would probably take working out some innovative techniques – wouldn’t that be great fun!
Imagine, for example, that Puerto Rico might become a major supplier of Coca leaf to Coca Cola which buys tens of millions of dollars worth of this green gold each year from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Or even better, Puerto Rico might become a world-class producer of Coca Leaf and establish an its own independent Coca drink industry. Puerto Rico’s tourism industry might flourish with Coca and Cannabis spas, clinics and even retirement homes. Innovative Coca-based products might emerge and contribute to economic growth. How about Coca Rum tonic? Coca Rico?
In another post I wrote about the potential for Coca Therapy spas in Mexico, and the same kind of medical tourism opportunities apply to Puerto Rico.
On a broader scale, if Puerto Rico were to do this right, the entire island could create dozens of regional coca-growing cooperatives, with thousands of small farmers each growing enough Coca on very small acreage to provide every farm family with a good living. Puerto Rico would have a new high-value national crop coming to market just as the re-building gathers momentum. Existing coffee-growers organizations might form a logical core around which to begin building a Coca economy. In fact, one might expect some very interesting coffee/coca drinks to emerge from such a collaboration.
Before Maria, Puerto Rico imported nearly 90% of its food, so there is plenty of room for an agricultural evolution if anyone cares to make one. With a guaranteed income from their individual Coca patch, with their leaf purchased by their cooperativa, thousands of farmers could concentrate on growing food for the local market without worrying about whether they can get a penny more or less per pound for their veggies.
As a plus to the idea of a Coca Rico, the island isn’t big enough to grow enough Coca plants to support massive Cocaine production so an emerging Coca Rico economy based strictly on Coca Leaf and Cannabis shouldn’t threaten the Cartels – in fact, supporting an Independence/Coca Leaf movement might make political sense to astute Cartel leadership.
As for getting this thing started, I can see potential for a very successful Go-Fund-Me campaign by a Puerto Rican 501.c.3 to support full national Independence and a swift transition to a Coca Leaf-assisted economy. I’ve just registered a number of domain names like cocarico.com and will give them to any PR Coca co-op movement that would like to have them.
The danger, of course, is that a Coca Leaf-based economy could default to Cocaine production even on the relatively small scale possible, and Puerto Ricans would simply exchange one form of slavery under the Americans for another under Coca Capitalists.
Perhaps this danger can be avoided if both Independence and the Coca Leaf economy emerge together under the control of a bullet-proof legal structure put in place with the help of the best minds in the world as part of an effort to help Puerto Rico emerge intact and newly prosperous from under the heel of the US.
Hey – it’s a little insane, but does anyone have a better proposal? Let’s have it.
Are you as tired as I am of smug drug warriors who have all the research dollars locked up and then sneer that the Cannabis community can’t prove what we all know to be true because there isn’t any research? Well, now maybe there is – at least a little.
I’ll wait for others to voice their thoughts, but I’m thinking the research we’ll cover in this post means no more “You can’t prove it” bullshit about the Cannabis Entourage Effect from Pig Pharma & their federal shills.
The studies cited throughout this blog post reference terpenes and other phytochemicals found in the natural emissions and vapors of “Forest Bath” environments and prove their wide-ranging efficacy as inhaled and absorbed therapeutic & healing agents.
The “Forest Bath” research also shows clearly that the healing potential of this class of phytochemicals is far from fully understood.
These same “Forest Bath” terpenes and other phytochemicals, exactly the same ones, are found in Cannabis emissions and vapors, in almost the same proportions, and they vary among Cannabis strains the same way that emissions from tree species vary among Healing Forests.
Hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific and medical research studies support the therapeutic validity of the ancient practice of Forest Bathing. Perhaps this same body of science, properly interpreted, would allow the Cannabis community to checkmate the anti-Cannabis propagandists and their scientific pretensions with some solid, relevant data. The planet is tight.
A Little Background
The totality of “Forest Bath” research provides precisely the range of scientific experimental evidence needed to validate ancient Cannabis wisdom and provide strong data-based support for the healing powers of the Cannabis “Entourage Effect”.
South Korean scientists and public health researchers have documented a wide range of positive health benefits from exposure to terpenes in the air of coniferous forests. They have established that variations among the emitted terpenes of different species of trees create highly diverse, differently beneficial micro-environments.
South Korean, Japanese & Taiwanese healing forests are all well mapped – this tall forested mountain valley for asthma; that craggy seaside forest for dermatitis. These healing forests have been well-known for hundreds of generations, and thousands of ancient shrines celebrate the spiritual qualities & health benefits of forested environments throughout Northeast Asia. Legends are filled with heroes suffering grievous battle wounds going alone into the forests and emerging weeks later miraculously healed.
Forest Bath research shows that the dominant terpenes in the air of the most highly-rated “healthy forests” are the same terpenes, primarily a-pinene, myrcene, linalool, and d-limonene, that dominate and differentiate the aromas, tastes and effects of various Cannabis strains.
Because inhaling both Forest terpenes and Cannabis terpenes involves inhaling virtually the same phytochemical mix, “Forest Bath” research pretty well refutes those smug anti-Cannabis arguments against the “Entourage Effect” that boil down to “You can’t prove it because there’s no research”.
Until now, we’ve been limited to a justifiably angry “Of course there isn’t any research you assholes – you’ll have anyone who tries to do the damn research arrested!” Which of course immediately provokes: “Well, that Cannabis certainly does make you people touchy,” followed by further self-satisfied smirks.
Maybe Forest Bath research changes the balance of smirk-entitlement.
Forest Bath research provides a thoroughly validated database in support of the health benefits of inhaling the precise aerosolized natural terpenes involved in the Cannabis “Entourage Effect”, clearly establishing the link between inhaling a natural blend of specific aerosolized or vaporized terpenes and associated phytochemicals and obtaining cumulative, lasting, measurable health benefits..
Some of the research references that follow this introduction focus on studying the biological activity of a single terpene in a laboratory environment, such as a-pinene’s effect on cardiac cell inflammation in vitro, while others focus on measuring variables like blood pressure in people exposed to natural forest environments under experimental conditions. Taken as a whole they form a good platform for launching further Cannabis “Entourage Effect” research even in the presence of the Federal war on Citizens.
Note of caution in applying Forest Bath research to Cannabis:
When we’re looking at the science behind “Forest Bathing” to inform our understanding of inhaling/ingesting Cannabis terpenes, it’s important to differentiate between the terpene/phytochemical content of the smoke stream of combusted Cannabis and the terpene/phytochemical content of the vapors emitted under various conditions by the whole, non-combusted but “vaporized” Cannabis flower.
A combustion smoke stream contains both the byproducts of combustion itself, including particles of toxic soot, and vaporized organic compounds including THC and all the cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals. These compounds are heated to the point of “boiling off” the plant materials ahead of advancing combustion, and those that are especially vulnerable to heat are partially degraded by that process.
On the other hand, dry distillation of Cannabis flowers, also called vaporizing, does not create combustion byproducts in the vapor stream – no toxic soot- because the heating process leading to the change of state from resin to vapor is non-destructive. Nothing burns. The terpene profile in a vapor stream is close to the natural profile of the terpenes in the whole flower before vaporizing occurs because even the most heat-sensitive Cannabis flower phytochemicals survive well-calibrated vaporizing, while far fewer survive even the gentlest combustion.
That difference may be medically significant. It seems likely that the “Forest Bath” science applies directly to an “Entourage Effect” from vaporized Cannabis flowers but somewhat less to combusted flowers.
In other words, inhaling Cannabis vapor is more like taking a pleasant walk through a forest, and inhaling Cannabis smoke is more like being in front of a nice campfire. Both excellent experiences; each very different.
So I’m suggesting that “Entourage Effect” discussions focus more on the health and sensual benefits of inhaling the natural emissions and vapors of Cannabis, as well as ingestion of the natural Cannabis flower by other means, and maybe focus a little less on inhaling Cannabis smoke which has the same toxic effects as inhaling any smoke regardless of benefits, and can’t be dismissed as a serious health hazard.
The following “Forest Bath” research literature citations, all from peer-reviewed scientific journals, are all curated in the US National Institutes of Health “PubMed” database. This provenance means that anti-Cannabis “scientists” cannot challenge the validity of the large body of “Forest Bath” research, nor its applicability to Cannabis and the “Entourage Effect”.
So, if you want to dig deeper into the science, here are the results of the “Forest Bathing” literature research brilliantly elucidated by the Korean Society of Toxicology team. I’ve added revised PubMed links to the original citations and edited a bit for clarity where I thought it was needed:
Therapeutic Potential Of Inhaled Conifer Forest Terpenes
“ α-Pinene, found in oils of coniferous trees and rosemary, showed anti-inflammatory activity by decreasing the activity of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), expression of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), and production of interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and nitric oxide (NO) in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced macrophages (link to original research).”
“In ovalbumin-sensitized mouse model of allergic rhinitis, pretreatment with α-pinene decreased clinical symptoms and levels of immunoglobulin E and IL-4 (link to original research).”
“In human chondrocytes, α-pinene inhibited IL-1β-induced inflammation pathway by suppressing NF-κB, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation, and expression of iNOS and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-1 and -13, suggesting its role as an anti-osteoarthritic agent (link to original research).”
“Strong anti-inflammatory activity was observed when α-pinene was used in combination with two active ingredients of frankincense, linalool and 1-octanol (link to original research).”
“The Anti-tumor effects of pinenes are well established on tumor lymphocytes as well as tumor cell lines (link to original research).”
“Matsuo et al. (link to original research) identified proapoptotic and anti-metastatic activities of α-pinene in a melanoma model.”
“Later, it was revealed in human hepatoma Bel-7402 cells that the proapoptotic effect of α-pinene is associated with induction of G2/M cell cycle arrest (link to original research).”
“In addition, α-pinene triggers oxidative stress signaling pathways in A549 and HepG2 cells (link to original research).”
“Kusuhara et al. (link to original research) reported that mice kept in a setting enriched with α-pinene showed reduction in melanoma sizes, while in vitro treatment of melanoma cells with α-pinene had no inhibitory effect on cell proliferation, suggesting that the in vivo result may not be due to a direct effect of α-pinene.”
“Investigation of β-pinene also revealed its cytotoxic activity against cancer and normal cell lines with a more pronounced effect on neoplastic cells in the majority of cases, showing acceptable chemotherapeutic potency (citation #1,citation #2).”
“α-pinene and 1, 8-cineole also exert neuroprotective effects by regulating gene expression. They protected PC12 cells against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis through ROS scavenging and induction of nuclear Nrf2 factor followed by enhanced expression of antioxidant enzymes including catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and HO-1 (link to original research).”
“Myrcene, the acyclic monoterpene, also exhibits significant antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects in various tumor cell lines such as MCF-7 (breast carcinoma), HeLa (human cervical carcinoma), A549 (human lung carcinoma), HT-29 (human colon adenocarcinoma), P388 (leukemia), and Vero (monkey kidney) as well as mouse macrophages (citation #1,citation #2).”
“Essential oil from Vepris macrophylla demonstrated a strong cytotoxic effect, suggesting that the effect may be attributed to the presence of specific components, among which is myrcene (link to original research).”
“Treatment with linalool, a natural compound found in essential oils of aromatic plants, inhibited cigarette smoke-induced acute lung inflammation by inhibiting infiltration of inflammatory cells and production of TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, IL-8, and monocyte chemoattractant protein – 1 (MCP-1), as well as NF-κB activation (link to original research).”
“In another lung injury model, linalool attenuated lung histopathologic changes in LPS-induced mice. In in vitro experiments, linalool reduced production of TNF-α and IL-6 and blocked phosphorylation of IκBα protein, p38, and JNK in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages (link to original research).”
“Similarly, linalool inhibited production of TNF-α, IL-1β, NO, and PGE2 in LPS-stimulated microglia cells (link to original research).”
“Li et al. (link to original research) showed that the anti-inflammatory effect of linalool is involved in activation of Nrf2/heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) signaling pathway.”
“Frankincense oil extract, which contains linalool, exhibited anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in a xylene-induced ear edema model and a formalin-inflamed hind paw model by inhibiting COX-2 (link to original research).”
“The anti-tumorigenic activity of d-limonene is well-established. Numerous studies have demonstrated the protective effects of d-limonene against chemical-induced tumors in various tissue types such as breast, intestine, pancreas, liver, and colon (citation #1–citation #2).”
“Another naturally occurring monoterpene d-limonene was reported to reduce allergic lung inflammation in mice probably via its antioxidant properties (link to original research).”
“It also reduced carrageenan-induced inflammation by reducing cell migration, cytokine production, and protein extravasation (link to original research).”
“Similar to α-pinene, d-limonene exerted an anti-osteoarthritic effect by inhibiting IL-1β-induced NO production in human chondrocytes (link to original research).”
“d-Limonene treatment reduced doxorubicin-induced production of two proinflammatory cytokines, TNF-α and prostaglandin E-2 (PGE2) (link to original research).”
“Lu et al. (link to original research) revealed that d-limonene could inhibit the proliferation of human gastric cancer cells by inducing apoptosis.”
“Later, it was demonstrated that apoptosis of tumor cells by d-limonene could be mediated by the mitochondrial death pathway via activated caspases and PARP cleavage as well as by the suppression of the PI3K/Akt pathway (citation #1,citation #2).”
“Monoterpene p-cymene treatment reduced elastase-induced lung emphysema and inflammation in mice. It reduced the alveolar enlargement, number of macrophages, and levels of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-17 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) (link to original research).”
“Similarly, p-cymene showed a protective effect in a mouse model of LPS-induced acute lung injury by reducing the number of inflammatory cells in the BALF and expression of NF-κB in the lungs (link to original research) and by reducing production of proinflammatory cytokines and infiltration of inflammatory cells (link to original research).”
“Mechanistically, p-cymene blocks NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways. It has been reported that p-cymene reduces production of TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-β in LPS-treated RAW 264.7 macrophages. In C57BL/6 mice, TNF-α and IL-1β were downregulated and IL-10 was upregulated by p-cymene treatment. It also inhibited LPS-induced activation of ERK 1/2, p38, JNK, and IκBα (citation #1,citation #2).”
“p-Cymene has been reported to have cytotoxic effects on tumor cell lines (link to original research).”
“Recently, Li et al. (link to original research) evaluated beneficial effects of p-cymene on in vitro TPA-augmented invasiveness of HT-1080 cells, and found that it inhibits MMP-9 expression, but enhances TIMP-1 production along with the suppression of ERK1/2 and p38 MAPK signal pathways in tumor cells, suggesting that p-cymene is an effective candidate for the prevention of tumor invasion and metastasis.”
“The monoterpene γ-terpinene, present in the essential oil of many plants including Eucalyptus, reduced the acute inflammatory response. It reduced carrageenan-induced paw edema, migration of neutrophil into lung tissue, and IL-1β and TNF-α production and inhibited fluid extravasation (link to original research).”
“Terpinene-containing essential oil from Liquidambar formosana leaves reduced inflammatory response in LPS-stimulated mouse macrophages by reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS), JNK, ERK, p38 MAP kinase, and NF-κB (link to original research).”
“Another terpinene-containing essential oil from Citrus unshiu flower or fingered citron (C. medica L. var. sarcodactylis) reduced LPS-stimulated PGE2 and NO production in RAW 264.7 cells. Furthermore, production of inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β, TNF-α, and IL-6, was also reduced in macrophages (citation #1,citation #2).”
“Borneol, a bicyclic monoterpene present in Artemisia, Blumea, and Kaempferia, has been used in traditional medicine. Borneol alleviated acute lung inflammation by reducing inflammatory infiltration, histopathological changes, and cytokine production in LPS-stimulated mice. It suppressed phosphorylation of NF-κB, IκBα, p38, JNK, and ERK (link to original research).”
“Oral administration and intrathecal injection of borneol showed antihyperalgesic effects on inflammatory pain in complete Freund’s adjuvant-induced hypersensitive animal models by enhancing GABAAR (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Type A Receptor)-mediated GABAergic transmission (link to original research).”
“Borneol inhibited migration of leukocytes into the peritoneal cavity in carrageenan-stimulated mice, suggesting its anti-inflammatory function (link to original research).”
“In addition, borneol inhibited TRPA1, a cation channel that is involved in inflammation and noxious-pain sensing, suggesting that its use as an anti-inflammatory agent for neuropathic-pain and trigeminal neuralgia (link to original research).”
“Previous studies showed that borneol has free radical scavenging activity (link to original research) and is a major component of essential oil of SuHeXiang Wan (link to original research) whose neuroprotective function has been reported in in vivo and in vitro models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (citation #1,citation #2).”
“Moreover, a recent study showed that borneol exerts a neuroprotective effect against β-amyloid (Aβ) cytotoxicity via upregulation of nuclear translocation of Nrf2 and expression of Bcl-2 (link to original research).”
“In addition, treatment with isoborneol, a monoterpenoid alcohol, significantly reduced 6-hydroxydopamine-induced ROS generation and cell death in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, suggesting that isoborneol may be a potential therapeutic agent for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases associated with oxidative stress (link to original research).”
“α-Caryophyllene, known as humulene, is a naturally occurring monocyclic sesquiterpene. BCP, an isomer of α-caryophyllene, has been identified as an active component of an essential oil mixture that not only prevents solid tumor growth and proliferation of cancer cell lines but also inhibits lymph node metastasis of melanoma cells in high-fat diet-induced obese mice (citation #1,citation #2).”
“Sarvmeili et al. (link to original research) reported that Pinus eldarica essential oil, of which BCP was the major component, exerts cytotoxic effects on HeLa and MCF-7 cell lines.”
“β-caryophyllene (BCP) was reported to protect against neuroinflammation in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) by attenuating production of proinflammatory cytokines and inflammatory mediators such as COX-2 and iNOS (link to original research).”
“Chronic treatment with BCP attenuated alcohol-induced liver injury and inflammation by reducing the proinflammatory phenotypic switch of hepatic macrophages and neutrophil infiltration. The beneficial effects of BCP on liver injury are mediated by cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptor activation (link to link to original research).”
“Prolonged administration of BCP reduced proinflammatory cytokines in pancreatic tissue of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats (link to original research).”
“BCP reduced expression of Toll-like receptor 4 and macrophage inflammatory protein-2, and phosphorylation of ERK, p38, JNK, and NF-κB in D-galactosamine and LPS-induced liver injury mouse model (link to original research).”
“BCP has antioxidant effects (link to original research), and functions as a regulator of several neuronal receptors and shows various pharmacological activities including neuroprotection (link to original research).”
“Neuroprotective effects of BCP have been reported in both AD and PD animal models. Oral treatment with BCP prevented AD-like phenotype such as cognitive impairment and activation of inflammation through CB2 receptor activation and the PPARγ pathway (link to original research).”
RESEARCH BIBLIOGRAPHY: THE ROLE OF FOREST BATH TERPENES IN HUMAN HEALTH
No more “You can’t prove it” bullshit. The studies cited throughout this post reference terpenes and other phytochemicals found in natural emissions and vapors of “Forest Bath” environments. These same terpenes and other phytochemicals, exactly the same, are found in Cannabis emissions and vapors, in almost the same proportions, and vary between Cannabis strains the same way that emissions from tree species vary among Healing Forests. I hope that the connection between hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific and medical research studies that support the ancient practice of Forest Bathing and their direct applicability to the Entourage Effect will allow the Cannabis community to finally checkmate the anti-Cannabis propagandists and their scientific pretensions.
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The extensively-studied phenomenon known as “Forest Bathing” in Japan and South Korea and as “Kneipp Therapy” in Germany involves exposure to high concentrations of naturally-occurring aerosolized phytochemicals in conifer & deciduous forests.
This natural treatment for conditions ranging from asthma to dermatitis has been documented and validated by a raft of high-quality medical and scientific research.
There is no question that “Forest Bathing” has therapeutic benefits. For example, positive effects on NK (Natural Killer) cell activity have been shown with in vitro treatment of tumor cell lines with monoterpenes released from trees (and of course present in Cannabis flowers) such as d-limonene and α-pinene, and also in forest bathing trips. The anti-tumor effects act by increasing intra-cellular levels of anti-tumor proteins such as perforin, granulysin, and granzymes A/B.
Haven’t heard of “Forest Bathing”? I hadn’t either until I ran across it during some intense research into naturally-occurring environmental Cannabis terpene aerosols. The ancient Japanese natural health practice called “Shinrin Yoku”, defined as “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”, has a wide range of rigorously tested and proven health benefits.
In 2005 the Japanese government introduced a nationwide “Therapeutic Effects of Forests Plan” that pays “Forest Bathing” health benefits. The government says that it pays for this therapy because of the proven reduction in other health care costs across the spectrum.
South Korean scientists and public health researchers have documented a wide range of positive health benefits from exposure to terpenes in the air of coniferous forests, with variations among the terpenes in different species of trees at different locations accounting for differences in the health benefits of inhalation of forest air.
They have divided the country into numerous micro-climes where particular combinations of coniferous tree species co-exist and perfume the air, each location offering a particular healing, stimulating mix of terpenes and other phytochemicals.
Interestingly, the dominant terpenes in the air of these forests are the same terpenes that characterize different Cannabis strains and the same kinds of variability in Cannabis strains similarly account for their differing health benefits.
There is also a natural medicinal therapy in Germany called “Kneipp Therapy”, that involves a series of exercise routines done in a terpene-rich forest environment. Kneipp Therapy has been studied using quality clinical research protocols and the exercises have been found to be significantly more beneficial when performed in a forest environment compared to other kinds of locations.
So, it’s both very interesting and very significant for establishing the validity of the Cannabis “Entourage Effect” that the dominant terpene profiles of all of the therapeutic forests studied in the Japanese and Korean “Forest Bath” scientific literature (cited below) appear to be various combinations of myrcene, pinene, limonene, linelool, and a number of less-celebrated but still important Cannabis terpenes like cynene, terpinene and boneal. There are many other “minor” phytochemicals shared between the airborne perfumes of Cannabis flowers and therapeutic forests, and almost certainly many of these will ultimately be shown to play significant roles in both the Forest and the Cannabis “Entourage Effect”.
Bottom line – I believe that there is an inescapable argument in favor of the Cannabis “Entourage Effect” presented by the “Forest Entourage Effect”, which itself is definitively established in international, if not US, scientific and medical literature.
There has been extensive research in multiple advanced countries on the health benefits of exposure by inhalation and skin absorption to the airborne terpenes in forest environments – interestingly enough, these turn out to be the same terpenes that are inhaled in the vapors from Cannabis flowers.
“Forest Bathing” research establishes that inhaling a naturally-occurring mix of terpene emissions or vapors has far greater health benefits than exposure to or ingestion of any of the terpenes and other phytochemicals singularly, like in a pill or other oral or topical medication.
Cannabis visionaries have always known that the THC was only one element of the sensual pleasures and only one of the sources of health benefits from the sacred flower, just as wine lovers have always known that the alcohol is only a relatively small part of their total experience. Nobody drinks a bottle of Etude Pinot Noir or Chateau Pomerol Bordeaux for the alcohol, and nobody chooses which Cannabis flower to enjoy simply on the basis of THC content, although that approach seems to dominate much of today’s adolescent-style Cannabis marketing. Even the most dedicated couch-locked stoner knows very well that there is a world beyond THC and may spend a lot of time (if they’re not too ripped) thinking about taste and aroma options when they’re choosing between Durban Poison and Granddaddy Purple.
However, the concept of a Cannabis “Entourage Effect” has been universally ridiculed by anti-Cannabis forces who say that the supposed variety of effects of different Cannabis strains is simply a kind of mass delusion. They claim that there is no evidence that different phytochemical profiles of different Cannabis strains signal different health and well-being effects, and say that in their expert, informed scientific opinion such observations are imaginary. While their criticisms are couched in the careful, apparently rational language of science, and even rated a major article in Scientific American in 2017, all of the criticisms amount to a simple “It’s all in your head” dismissal.
In other words, the anti-Cannabis establishment says tough, there’s no scientific evidence to support your claim, and there’s not going to be any evidence either because we aren’t going to fund research.
Well, I’ve got some news for these die-hard prohibitionists.
OK, they have managed to impede research that could validate many of the medical benefits of the whole Cannabis Flower as opposed to plain old THC extract. With notable medical research exceptions, many of the health and sensual benefits ascribed to the Cannabis Flower are currently only validated by experience and consensus, both of which the scientists are fond of reminding us can be way off target. They point to the flat earth delusion, or to many other instances where “everybody knows” something that simply isn’t true, and smugly point out that nobody can prove all these marvelous things we’re saying about Cannabis.
It’s hard to find a reasonable explanation of why the Federal government has arrayed its dark-side powers against the Cannabis flower, but in this match between the Flower and the Power it’s beginning to look like the Power is going to lose this one because Forest Bathing research actually provides plenty of evidence . The research unequivocally supports the validity of the “Entourage Effect” by demonstrating that naturally-occurring environmental terpene and phytochemical aerosols do have measurable, verifiable positive impacts on overall health as well as on specific diseases and conditions, and do vary among forest tree species and environments in the same ways that Cannabis flowers vary among strains in response to environmental variables.
Forest Bathing research is directly applicable to validating the “Entourage Effect” of Cannabis terpenes and phytochemicals that are widely observed but, according to the Federal propagandists, not “scientifically verified”. As an example, there is solid research that says that terpene emissions from plants are directly correlated with the concentration of terpenes in the plant. The higher the concentration of terpenes, the greater the emissions from the plant. “Forest Bathing” research naturally focuses on terpene emissions from coniferous and to a lesser degree deciduous trees, but the relationship between terpene concentrations and emission rates has been widely replicated in studies with agricultural crops and seems to apply to all plants.
The bottom line is that clinical literature as well as popular wisdom in several countries points to the health benefits of inhaling and “bathing in” an atmosphere rich in terpenes and other phytochemicals. While the health benefits of many of the individual components of this phyto-soup are only recently becoming well-known, the benefits of exposure to the entire environmental complex of a pine/conifer forest are familiar to anyone who has ever walked outdoors that first morning in a forest campground.
A recent study concluded: “Exposure to natural environment is beneficial to human health. Among environmental exposures, the effects of forest have been emphasized in many studies. Recently, it has been shown that a short trip to forest environments has therapeutic effects in children with asthma and atopic dermatitis. Based on these studies, healthcare programs to use forest have been developed in several countries. Forest bathing has beneficial effects on human health via showering of forest aerosols. Terpenes that consist of multiple isoprene units are the largest class of organic compounds produced by various plants, and one of the major components of forest aerosols. Traditionally, terpene-containing plant oil has been used to treat various diseases without knowing the exact functions or the mechanisms of action of the individual bioactive compounds.”
So, it’s clear that relaxing for a few hours in a forest environment filled with terpenes can be beneficial and even therapeutic for people with a wide range of diseases and conditions from dermatitis to cancer. Do a simple internet search for “forest bathing’ and you’ll find books, resorts, videos and even classes. But enter “cannabis bathing” into a search and you’ll get bath salts, bubble bath, and a lot of fruit-flavored massage and lubricating oils.
For the past year or so I have been exclusively using a vaporizer to enjoy Cannabis flowers and I can add my experiences to the observations of many others that whole flower Cannabis vapor is a marvelous clean, natural high which, now that I realize it, is almost exactly like stepping out of my tent high in the pine forests of the Oregon Cascades and inhaling that first breath of vibrant, aromatic, high-energy mountain air.
So in my opinion all this research on “Forest Bathing” makes the smug “You can’t prove it and we’re not going to let you” chant of the anti-Cannabis “scientists” pretty much irrelevant. Sooner or later there will actually be research on every aspect of inhaled and absorbed Cannabis terpenes and other phytochemicals but until then the parallel research on Forest Bathing should be more than adequate scientific evidence for any reasonable person of the validity of the Cannabis “Entourage Effect”.
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Community pantries/kitchens struggle continually to meet the needs of hungry people because their financial resources are always inadequate. I’m proposing what may be a new way to address this profound social evil, and I’m calling this social invention “The Alice Project” after Arlo Guthrie’s line “You can get nything you want at Alice’s Restaurant”.
The first key to the Alice project model is that it empowers people, whether acting as individuals or as families or groups, to set themselves up with three fresh, nutritious hot meals a day, every day no matter how limited their resources.
The second key is that the Alice Project model relies on goodwill and a win-win attitude on the part of those implementing the model but it also relies on their self-interest in addition to those necessary charitable impulses.
The final, third key to the Alice Project is that all but the most destitute people have some, even if very limited financial resources. The predator industries that feed on the hunger of the poor – all kinds of hunger, including deliberately manufactured hunger – have grown extremely rich exploiting the fact that the poor actually have a great deal of money, collectively.
The Alice Project is an expression of my belief that the collective wealth of any community, but especially any low-income community can become its own engine of change by creating thoughtful new models that really work in areas of food, health, housing, work, education, and aging.
Even after street cash, social benefits and SNAP, the fact is that low-income and homeless people in America starve at least part of every month, when their resources are used up. Unless they can get free meals from shelters and community kitchens, they starve the rest of the month.
This is an endless maze.
• Any meals a pantry or kitchen offer have to be free, because people have no money.
• People have already spent their SNAP benefits, income benefits, and street cash if they have any by the time they get to kitchens and shelters.
This means that shelters and kitchens have to provide food without cash flow, and are stuck in a dependent position, surviving on and limited by donations, subsidies, and the occasional miracle.
Finally, in most states SNAP benefits can’t be used to buy prepared food, so poor hungry people can’t buy a hot nutritious meal with SNAP even if they want to because there’s no way that pantries, shelters or kitchens can recover their food costs with the SNAP program.
” The following items are not eligible for purchase with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits: alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, hot food, any food intended for immediate on-premises consumption.”
The Bread On Waters Ratio Suggests A Solution
I’ve noticed an interesting relationship between:
1. A Unit Weight of the food – let’s just say One Pound
2. The cost of the Unit Weight – let’s just say One Dollar
3. The # of cooked meal portions per unit weight of food – and let’s say 4 portions per pound
The BOW ratio appears to be something like 1:4 with many basic foods.
•1# uncooked rice @ $1 yields 4+ cooked meal portions*
•1# uncooked beans @ $1 yields 4+ cooked meal portions*
•1# veggies @ $1 yields 4+ cooked meal portions*
•1# meat @ $1 yields 4+ cooked meal portions*
•1# bread @ $1 yields 4+ cooked meal portions*
•1# cheese @ $1 yields 4+ cooked meal portions*
•1 dozen eggs @ $1 yields 4+ cooked meal portions *
* The $1/Pound isn’t intended to be precise, but to suggest that there’s some kind of an advantageous relationship at work here. Of course, there is actually a surplus in some of these ratios, since $1 will often buy more than 1# (in bulk) of many basic foods and will thus produce more than 4 portions. And of course the amount of meat protein that $1 will buy isn’t steak.
But for the example, let’s just say that a number of very basic foods cost $1 a pound, as many do in bulk. I’m not, by the way, pronouncing the BOW ratio some sort of “perfect number”, or implying anything particularly magical – merely observing that a dollar, in most cases, appears to buy enough basic food to make quite a few cooked portions.
Setting Up An Alice Kitchen
Let’s envision a very poor neighborhood, with many people living on or nearly on on the street and crowded into sub-standard housing of all kinds. Now envision a community kitchen operating using donated food, cash donations, and volunteer labor, providing free meals to as many people as possible.
The community kitchen is in survival mode, which means that it serves people without money meals of donated and scrounged food until the food runs out.
The people are in survival mode – they do have a little money, but they spend it just surviving and it never lasts until the next government check or SNAP card so often their only option is the community kitchen or starvation.
Now add a couple of new elements to this picture.
Let’s envision a local, successful grocery store chain – let’s call it “New Ideas Market” – that is already involved doing a lot of good things in the community, but like everyone else trying to solve the problem of widespread hunger they are frustrated that their efforts aren’t more successful.
Now let’s say that New Ideas Market approaches a Community Kitchen and proposes to provide funds and manpower to organize an initial number of community residents into a co-operative – admittedly, no small task. Call this the Community Food Store.
In addition to initiating and helping set up the co-op structure for the Food Store, New Ideas Market will then act as the ongoing supplier, stocking the shelves and aisles on an at-cost basis, foregoing profits but not having to incur costs. The Food Store will carry ONLY food used by the Community Kitchen to prepare meals. For example, it will stock basic commodity foods, produce, meats and dairy, and other food. It will not stock any non-food items that are not required by the Community Kitchen to prepare and serve meals. Buyers at the Food store will know what to buy because the Community Kitchen will post a “Needed Today” list in the Food Store.
A formal co-operative operating structure that physically and legally separates the Food Store operation from the Community Kitchen/Pantry operation is necessary if the Food Store is to become Food Stamp/SNAP authorized.
However, the Food Store and the Community Kitchen/Pantry will be in close enough proximity for peoples’ convenience, and the co-op provides a coordinated operating structure and allocation of net revenues. At that point the operation will be “open for business”.
Here’s a hypothetical example of how the Bread On Waters ratio might operate, providing the economic energy which community kitchens have lacked in the traditional mode, and effectively diverting some of the low-income community’s financial resources from the hands of those who exploit hunger for profit.
The Nitty-Gritty Of An Alice Kitchen
A community resident goes to the Food Store and buys 10# of rice, paying $10 in SNAP benefits.
That gives the Food Store the cash flow to pay New Ideas Market as their supplier for the rice – remember New Ideas Market is only covering their costs, not making a profit, but they aren’t donating the food either.
Now that person goes from the Food Store to the (physically and legally separate) Community Kitchen/Pantry, and donates the $10 worth of Rice they just bought with SNAP benefits at the Food Store to the Kitchen/Pantry.
Now here’s the magic trick – the rabbit in the hat. SNAP benefits can’t be used to buy prepared food at a restaurant, but SNAP can be used to buy “raw” food. Food Store and Community Kitchen are legally and physically separated.
So after donating the 10# of Rice to the 501.c.3 Community Kitchen, as a gift for their donation (just like an NPR membership pledge gift), they receive 10 meal coupons. (And just like NPR, people in the neighborhood can become “sustaining members” of the Community Kitchen by pledging to donate regularly.)
These 10 coupons entitle them or anyone in their family to 10 full adult meals or 20 child/elderly meals served at the Kitchen/Pantry. The BOW ratio means that the 10# of rice becomes 40+ portions of cooked rice, just by adding water, of which only 10 portions are “owed” to the original buyer as a meal. This means that 30 “extra” meal portions of rice are generated.
These portions become part of the meals of others who have bought at the store and exchanged for meal coupons at the kitchen. Each $10 worth of food from the “Food Store” – 10# of vegetables, cheese, meat, bread etc. – becomes 40+ meal portions, for which the original buyer receives 10 meal portions.
An important principle is that the community kitchen/pantry does not accept cash OR SNAP CARDS for meal coupons; ONLY FOOD bought from the Food Store can be exchanged for coupons, and customers can only “buy” a meal with a coupon.
This means that all incoming resource transactions in the Community Kitchen/Pantry result in activation of the BOW ratio.
By placing the Food Store in close proximity to the shelter or kitchen/pantry, and by only accepting donations of basic food bought in the store in exchange for meal coupons, the shelter/kitchen can capture enough SNAP resources to enable the entire project to operate like a business in the sense that it becomes self-supporting and independent of charity.
This in turn means that any contributions received can go toward improving services, rather than simply staying afloat another day or week.
The threshold numbers of clients required to operate an Alice Project do not appear to be high. This means that small Alice projects can be neighborhood-based and therefore accessible to people who need the service the most, the relatively immobile poor, elderly, handicapped, unemployed, addicted and homeless.
Since the Kitchen/Pantry will probably operate using volunteer plus paid labor as needed, and since it has no food costs, the other overhead and operating expenses such as utilities can be covered from the cash flow into the co-op from the Food Store operation – where prices can be set to generate excess revenues over costs even as a non-profit.
The outcome of a successful neighborhood Alice Project would be that with a food budget of $3 a day from SNAP benefits, or $90/month, people who choose to participate can obtain 3 full high-quality meals a day for themselves and family members, and the organization providing those meals can do so in a way that it not only covers expenses but generates much-needed revenues through its revenue-generating but non-profit ‘partner’, the Food Store.
Spending less than $3 a day for food without cutting into life’s other “necessities”, including alcohol and cigarettes for those for whom this is reality, is within the means and abilities of even those in deeply unfortunate circumstances on the street. It is also a cost which can be almost 100% covered using properly budgeted food SNAP benefits, still leaving people enough SNAP benefits to cover other consumables.
For people without addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, and street drugs, who are simply bound by poverty, circumstances, and lack of available alternatives into the fast food/packaged food trap, the Alice Project can offer ready access to top quality food on such hard to refuse terms that there may be very real problems dealing with the demand.
By preparing and serving nutritionally superior meals including meats, vegetables, grains, dairy and eggs, and fruits and juices, all sourced from a “Food Store” that stocks items based on the Kitchen’s needs, a single neighborhood kitchen could turn around the malnutrition of a significant portion of the community in a very short time.
All that is really missing from many current community shelter/kitchen projects is an appropriate co-op structure and the ability to open the doors on a well-stocked Food Store operation, plus operational items like sufficient dishes & tableware, adequate food storage and preparation facilities, and a coupon program.
While this proposal does not offer a comprehensive solution to the problem of hunger I believe that by addressing the issue of who gets the meager resources of the poor – those who can help them to nourish themselves with that money, or those who exploit and drain them of the money – the Alice Project is worthy of consideration.
My hope is that readers will help me think this proposal through, identify and resolve any conceptual flaws, and create a model that can be customized and implemented in any American community. I say American only because the model takes advantage of specific American social benefits – it’s entirely possible that a variation of the “Alice Project” could be implemented in other cultures.
I propose a novel but straightforward application of some obscure, but still clear and unambiguous agricultural tax provisions to affordable housing development.
This model uses tax provisions that apply to Tenant Farming and Sharecropping to create a new approach to affordable housing.
This admittedly strange combination yields some pretty astounding potential benefits for community residents and developer/investors. I am calling it the Urban Farm/Affordable Housing model.
You may be thinking – Tenant Farming & Sharecropping! Affordable Housing? Now hold on there for just a minute!
OK, I know that the history around this part of American life is so bad that it is counter-intuitive and counter-history to imagine that the Tenant Farming/Sharecropper model could be used in new, positive ways – but that is exactly what I think can be done in the areas of affordable urban and rural housing.
In fact, the terrible reputation of this area of American life is probably why nobody seems to have looked closely at the tax laws that support it.
I’ve taken the model as far as I can at this point – I’ve germinated the idea, done the research, and given it a lot of thought. I’ve gone as far as I can go without the critical appraisal of other people, so I am putting it in front of the community to see whether others feel that it has value and want to help make it happen.
The Urban Farm/Affordable Housing Model
What if it were possible to build an affordable fully-accessible housing community where the residents paid no rent, had good jobs if they wanted them, and received utilities, insurance, day care, and other basic living needs at little or no cost to residents?
What if it were also possible for the developers & investors of this community to make more money than they could with an equivalent investment in upscale, market-rate residential development? And what if the tax advantages this model offered were on top of, not instead of all the LIHTC and other incentives developers/investors already enjoy?
I think that these things are possible by:
applying a couple of relatively obscure but very clear and unambiguous IRS tax laws that govern Tenant Farming & Sharecropping to high-value urban farming technology, and then
integrating that technology with an affordable housing community and an operational and governance model based on best practices.
For a look at the technology being proposed see footnote (1).
The Relevant IRS Provisions
The Tenant Farming & Sharecropping laws define a relationship between employer and employee that is unique – under these laws, the landowner is able to deduct the fair market value of the housing, utilities, insurance and other benefits they provide to a tenant farmer/sharecropper, but that employee doesn’t have to report the value of that free housing etc. as income. It really is free. There is no other employer/employee relationship with this configuration under IRS law. Under any other circumstances, if an employee is given free housing they owe tax as if it were salary or wages paid in cash, and the same is true of all other employer-provided benefits like meals, insurance, utilities, or transportation. Tenant Farmer/Sharecroppers are the only group exempt from owing income taxes on these employer-provided benefits.
Here is the exact language from IRS Publication 225:
“You can deduct the costs of maintaining houses and their furnishings for tenants or hired help as farm business expenses. These costs include repairs, utilities, insurance, and depreciation. The value of a dwelling you furnish to a tenant under the usual tenant-farmer arrangement isn’t taxable income to the tenant.”
“The cost of boarding farm labor is a deductible labor cost. Other deductible costs you incur for farm labor include health insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and other benefits.”
There are a number of related provisions, easily browsed in Pub. 225. All are equally clear. After careful reading of the entire set of tax provisions affecting this relationship here are what I believe are the main benefits of the Urban Farm/Affordable Housing model.
Affordable (or free) long-term quality housing
Affordable (or free) utilities, insurance, adult/child day care, other benefits
Stable, desirable, long-term, accessible employment
Possible path to home ownership
Community involvement in oversight of housing, benefits & employment
For Developers, Investors
Farm management can be subcontracted; ag operation is turnkey
New tax benefits on top of existing benefits
New tax-advantaged revenue streams
New kinds of tax credits potentially available (example: Work Opportunity Tax Credit; Farm Fuel Tax Credit).
Improved amortization schedules
Multiple revenue streams supporting debt service
Resident’s path to ownership increases stability
New high-quality affordable housing with good, co-located jobs
Improved community-wide social & financial metrics
Reduced community-wide social & financial costs
Increased leverage for existing AH investment in tax benefits & incentives
Flexible model allows high or low-density, urban/suburban/rural development
A Few Hypothetical Scenarios
Applying Tenant Farming & Sharecropping tax provisions to indoor high-value food-crop production under lights by employing a community of affordable housing residents as the workforce might seem like a stretch, but when you read the IRS language their applicability is pretty clear.
I am simply talking about taking this model out of the bleak cotton fields of Alabama and applying it to a new affordable housing-high-value agriculture model in cities and towns.
Here are a couple of brief descriptions of how the affordable housing/urban farm model might work.
Envision a rehabilitated 10-story building near downtown. The top 5 floors are apartments, and the bottom 5 floors are food production. The residents pay no rent or utilities, and at least one resident in every apartment is employed by the food production operation downstairs. Even if they are elderly or physically challenged there are jobs that they can do. The building is 50,000 SF of residence and 50,000 SF of food production. Revenues from the food production are $60/SF/year or $3 million. There is no rental revenue. Fair market value of the residential space & utilities is $40/SF/Year or $2 Million. Developer/Investors receive that $2 Million as farm expense deductions. Developers/Investors, resident sharecroppers, and technology providers/managers all divide the $3 Million revenue pie in appropriate shares that incentivize everyone.
Envision a 50 pad trailer park on the edge of town with low-income residents in substandard housing. Now see a developer/investor buy the park and an adjacent 3 acres, and install 50 units of high-standard modular housing and the supporting infrastructure – sewer, water, electricity, communications, accessibility, parking, community garden space, etc. Also see the developer/investor build 100,000 SF of indoor growing warehouse-style space, and contract with a high-value food production company to install and operate the farm with the residents as Tenant Farmer/Sharecroppers. If each of the 50 modular units has a fair market-rate rental value of $2500/month or $30,000/year, then that generates $1.5 Million in tax deductions for the “Landowner”; other benefits to the residents bring additional tax benefits to the Landowner. Meanwhile, the 100,000 SF of high-value farm space is generating $60/SF/Year, or $6 Million/year in net revenues. In contrast, a high-end 50 unit garden apartment affordable housing development might bring in rents of $1000/month or $12,000/year per unit, or $600,000/year. Of course the developer/investor of the affordable housing project would get a lot of Low Income Housing Tax Credits and other incentives but nothing, in my opinion, that would pencil out like the Urban Farm/Affordable Housing model.
These are only two possible scenarios. I can see the Urban Farm/Affordable Housing model applied to retirement communities, disaster recovery re-building, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, college campuses, abandoned or decaying small towns, abandoned military bases, and other scenarios involving existing, under-utilized or unused resources.
I am investigating whether or not the relevant tax and labor laws would permit a worker cooperative to be the ‘landowner’ of the high-value agricultural enterprise and if the cooperative members could be its employees as tenant farmer/sharecroppers. If this can be legitimately structured, then a Coop could be formed as the investment vehicle for funding an affordable housing/high-value farming project development, subcontracting the agricultural technology operations and management to the vertical farming technology provider while managing the overall worker-owned community development process.
Sharecroppers, Tenant Farmers, Racism, Exploitation And Poverty
As I said earlier, Tenant Farming & Sharecropping both have horrible connotations of poverty, racism, and exploitation. Both Tenant Farming & Sharecropping have been embedded in some form in agricultural tax & property ownership laws since the American colonies. As an exploitative agricultural model both have been around at least as far back as Medieval European peasants living in cottages and working on the King’s lands for a share.
This awful reputation for inhumanity is well-deserved, and is undoubtedly what has kept the positive potential of the Tenant Farming/Sharecropping tax laws hidden so well for so long, in spite of intensive searches in every field and profession for every possible usable tax provision.
There is no question that the Urban Farm/Affordable Housing model could be abused, virtually enslaving people attracted by free rent and a job, but as long as governments have a regulatory and financial hold on affordable housing developers and investors, and as long as the residents of the affordable housing communities themselves and the advocacy groups that represent them have a solid role in governance, such abuse can be mitigated if not completely avoided.
To see one example of a high-value farming business model that would integrate well with affordable housing in both urban and rural environments, look at Plenty, a California-based intensive food production company.
While Cannabis is the highest-value indoor crop @ $112/SF annual yield, Cannabis production doesn’t qualify for Federal tax breaks – directly. although I do see a few ways that Cannabis growers might be able to structure their operations to benefit from the tenant/sharecrop model. Still, for the most part, this model will work great with lettuce spring mix or basil or strawberries but Cannabis production is probably off the table for now.
Also, if you dig through the internet business chatter, you’ll find that Plenty, and other intensive indoor food production companies, consider the lack of skilled, dedicated workers and the costs of labor when it can be found to be their major vulnerability. This is a huge incentive for vertical farming technology companies like Plenty to look into integrating affordable housing into their production model.