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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Nature Basics: Storage 101

It’s a dry heat. How many times have Arizonans said this, or heard it, when referring to the temperatures of the state? Residents have explained to friends and family from other states that the heat can be tolerated and even enjoyed because it’s dry. That is true. Even on a 100-degree day, it can be pleasant outside in the shade. Bring a little bit of moisture into the picture and everything changes.
   
Humidity can make even an 80-degree day miserable in the desert, and anywhere on the planet, and shade does not offer an escape. Moisture in the air makes it thicker and some people call it oppressive and suffocating. Although the heat in Arizona is usually dry, the monsoon season brings moisture into the air and everything changes. One area of change is storage practices for food and medicine.
   
The monsoon season in Arizona can bring about some of the most severe weather in the country. In the past, the monsoon season start date was determined by having three consecutive days where the dew point was 55 degrees or higher. The National Weather Service altered that process in 2008 and decided to have a set start and end date for the rainy season. It begins on June 15 and ends on September 30. During this time, it is steamy in the desert.
   
Heat and humidity can wreak havoc on food and medicines. When the craving of the day is cheese and crackers, it can be ruined when that first bite doesn’t have the crisp, crunchy texture that’s expected. A soggy, stale cracker can put a stop to any crave. The structure of the cracker has been changed. It can also be true for potato chips, cereal and even certain nuts and seeds.
   
The same scenario happens with certain medication. According to a study conducted at Montreal Children’s Hospital, moisture and high temperatures alter drug effectiveness. Patricia Vandercruys, the Site Director of the Pharmacy Department, says that most medications need to be stored at 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, which is 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a cool, dark space. Medications can begin to break down and become less effective when exposed to humidity and high temperatures. Liquids can become solids with excessive heat, like the yolk of an egg when cooked, and some solid medications can become insubstantial when exposed to moisture. Some medicine can even become harmful when its integrity has been compromised by heat and moisture. Medicinal marijuana is not immune to these weather changes, and its effectiveness can be altered.
   
Marijuana cultivators are well aware of moisture and heat and how it changes the crop, shelf life and effectiveness of the medicine. Although how farmers dry the plant may vary, every one of them cure the flower. Curing is the process of ridding the plant of excess moisture. The process takes a little time, but in doing so the cannabis doesn’t lose any of the cannabinoids or terpenes, which are the medicinal agents of the plant. Horticulturists have found that the moisture content of cannabis should be between six and nine percent.
   
After curing, the product is stored to ensure freshness and optimal benefit. Once the medicine is purchased and brought home, precautions should be taken to keep the cannabis from taking on excess water or from losing too much moisture. If stored correctly, according to the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, marijuana can stay fresh and remain at its highest potency for up to two years.
   
Too much moisture can cause mold to grow in the flower of the cannabis plant, which can be dangerous for the body. Severe reactions can even include death. If the medicinal marijuana being inhaled contains mold, asthma and allergies can be aggravated. Also, the body’s immune system will kick into high gear because it’s designed to fight off foreign particles in the body. This all seems counterproductive when using a medication to help the body heal. Too little moisture in the cannabis bud causes it to dry out, become brittle and lose valuable cannabinoids. Dryness will also bring about a bitter taste and will sometimes burn the throat when smoked, causing bouts of coughing.
   
Do not store cannabis in plastic bags, aluminum foil or paper. Some of the chemical properties of plastic and aluminum foil can seep into the plant. Paper is porous and absorbent, which can leech out the necessary moisture and leave fibrous materials clinging to the leaves. Do not store it near a heat source like an oven or heating vent, and never put it in the refrigerator or freezer, which changes the structure of the chemical balance. All of these methods can break down the integrity of the plant, which causes it to lose some of the beneficial cannabinoids which are the essential parts of the medication. The best way to store medicinal marijuana is an airtight glass container like a jar. Make certain that the jar is clean and dry before putting the medication inside.

At Earth’s Healing, the budtenders all go through extensive training that can help ease the difficulty in understanding the “how to” and “how much” when looking for the natural way to heal. Earth’s Healing Dispensary is conveniently located at 2075 E. Benson Hwy. and 78 W. River Rd., in Tucson. Visit their website at EarthsHealing.org. See ad, page 27.
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