This is a fireside chat between Vincent Bitetti and Shane from CheapHomeGrow.com. Vincent was kind enough to espouse his immense knowledge about the history of cannabis and outline how he sees cannabis in the past, present, and future. He talked in detail about Chinese Emperor Shen Nung to how long the plant has been used by man.
Vincent talks about the cultivation history and how cultures from centuries ago benefited from using the plant. It was used as a herbal remedy in ancient China and the Japanese used to store cannabis in clay jars centuries ago.
He seemed optimistic about the medicinal benefits and how much man has to gain from a simple plant.
Vincent didn’t solely focus on the history of cannabis. In CheapHomeGrow’s short history he’s not the only interviewee that’s optimistic about the health benefits the plant has.
Vincent has been a consultant to some of the largest and most influential marijuana growers in California. He’s the President of Green Goddess Supply. A Massachusetts based startup specializing in marijuana products such as sifter boxes, dugouts, minivapes and many more products.
Below the YouTube Video is a transcription of our conversation.
Vincent Bitetti: Let’s talk a little bit about humans and when they first started using and cultivating cannabis. Here’s a plant that’s been around as far as we know 36 million years. It first emerged in Central Asia kind of like Liberia and Mongolia area. And so man has been using it, the human race if you will not all the human race but man has been using it in that region of the world for twelve thousand years. We’ve been using it for fiber, for clothing and for rope, medicine, and inebriation i.e. getting high for twelve thousand years since the end of the last ice age. It is the first plant.
Cannabis has been cultivated far longer than any other plant in existence by people. And so basically they have ten-thousand-year-old dry cannabis specimens and they were found in a clay jar. A Japanese archaeological excavation site which is pretty crazy. And there are cave paintings in Japan that have pictures of hemp trees, leaves everything. So the earliest account of it is medicine is in ancient China where it’s part of the oral generation to generation transmission of clan lore. And this oral tradition like American Indians selling stories to generations upon generation goes back to four thousand seven hundred years ago to the legendary emperor, Shen Neng. He rained for four thousand seven hundred years ago he cited cannabis as very important herbal remedy along with gingseng and other herbs at the time. So you have 36 million years of evolution. So think about that. The reason the plant is really sticky and all the trichomes and all this stuff probably came out of an evolutionary thing to trap bugs. So bugs we go to the plant and get stuck in the stickiness and die. Of course there are some bugs that have been adapted to be able to eat cannabis. Anybody the grows it today outdoors in California, for example, they know that grasshoppers love cannabis. I don’t know if they get high but they love it.
In the summertime, there’s a moth and I don’t know that species but the moth travels at night lays it’s egg in the cannabis to protect the eggs from other predators. And then the egg hatch and you have all these baby caterpillars careening and they’re tiny you can’t even see them until they’re about half an inch long and then they blend right in with the plant and now they’ll eat your whole plant literally. So growing outdoors is not so simple. But cannabis goes back a very long way. Let’s go back 10000 years for a minute for cannabis flowers were found stored in clay jars in Japan.
Four thousand seven hundred years ago cannabis was considered an important herbal remedy in China.
Fifteen hundred to two hundred B.C.E. cannabis used as a medicine in India. From my notes which are from 20 or 30 books, I’ve had since the 1970s. 500 B.C.E. cannabis is ranked as the most important of all known medical plant in Persia. We’re talking Persia we’re talking Iran, Iraq. The whole region was Persian. 200 B.C.E. cannabis is used as a medicine in Egypt and Greece. In Eighteen Hundred like 1894 cannabis was considered beneficial in moderate doses in the United Kingdom in the 1920s in the 1930s. Cannabis was banned in the United Kingdom and all forty-eight US states. Prior to that, it was legal in the United States just like cocaine was legal in the United States. That’s why people became addicted to Coca-Cola. That’s why they called it Coca-Cola. They eventually took the cocaine out. But cannabis was in the pharmacopeia which is the American Medical Association the bible of medicine. It was in the pharmacopeia I think until 1943 and when the government banned it in the late 1930s because of the Reefer Madness crap. The American Medical Association they objected, they told the government it’s a medicine. You need to keep it in the pharmacopeia but it was taken out and a lot of people believe and it’s probably true; there’s a lot of conspiracy theories but basically Randolph Hearst he had a huge cotton empire and there were other people were cotton empires there were slaves in the 1800s. They were picking cotton. They made all the clothing out of cotton and hemp makes better clothing longer lasting clothing. And there was a war kind of between hemp and cotton because hemp got you high and cotton didn’t. They used that against the growers of hemp and made it illegal. They made it really illegal. They put it in the same category as LSD and heroin, which is unfortunate.
Schedule 1 is a drug that has no medicinal benefits whatsoever like ecstasy, LSD, Heroin, cannabis are all classified as Schedule 1. And cannabis should not be a Schedule 1 drug by any means. Your brain cannot even overdose on cannabis. You cannot become addicted to cannabis you cannot overdose on cannabis. It’s the last drug that should be a schedule 1 drug. But politics as they are, this is what it is and this all goes to what’s going on right now with the state and the federal government and all that shit. Until the 17th century, very little was written in the west here about the medicinal uses of cannabis it kind of really came out of writing in the United Kingdom that we became kind of aware of it and in the 19th century there was was a study made of cannabis. It was a big study it was called the Indian hemp drug commission report. It was conducted by the British Government and published in 1894. This report is like seven volumes over 3000 pages of testimony from over 1100 interviews conducted across India. The conclusion of the report is the Commission has examined all the evidence. And basically the conclusion that they came to that was clearly established that the occasional use of hemp in moderate doses may be beneficial but this may be regarded as a medicine in character. So they were calling it a medicine in this report and like I said this report had literally seven volumes. Three thousand two hundred pages. Unbelievable kind of evidence that then everyone ignored it essentially.
In the 1800s cannabis Indica was introduced into western medicine by an Irish physician and so in its usage, this guy’s name was William O’Shannassy. He used it as a medicine and inebriant. It was typically consumed orally but it wasn’t smoked. They turned it into a tincture and so it was a drink basically they ground the marijuana up and mixed it with milk and spices. And there’s a name for the drink; I can only fell for you it’s spelled BHANG LASSI. The drink consisting of milk spices and cannabis. I would like to try that. It’s been present in the Indian subcontinent for over a thousand years. There are lots of recipes some of them call for up to an ounce of cannabis flowers and leaves. This could easily deliver 200 milligrams of THC per cup and an enormous dose. You would think that it would have a huge effect but it’s typically not heated. And so the temperature at which THC becomes psychoactive is pretty hot. So it’s less psychoactive than you think. It becomes psychoactive with heat that’s why smoking it or turning it into oil it all takes the heat and that activates the THC.
So, let’s talk about prohibition to the present. So in 1925 a League of Nations endorsed and ratified the International Opium Convention. This included language banning cannabis and derivatives except for medical and scientific use and this prohibition continues to this day in some places. By the mid-1930s cannabis has been banned in all 48 U.S. states remain listed in the pharmacopeia as a medicine access was virtually impossible. The federal government subsequently banned it with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. During the hearing on the attack that the American Medical Association they basically said it should not be shut off.
They said it should be not taken out of the pharmacopeia but the AMA’s objections were ignored by the government so by the mid 20th century the perception of cannabis and it’s extract had devolved from being a safe and effective medicine to a dangerous narcotic. We know it’s not a narcotic. Real high doses of THC can almost be psychedelic in nature and not good for people that are on unbalance maybe but it’s way safer than alcohol. It doesn’t have any of effects of nicotine basically. I mean there’s some tar and you can get around that but if you can get around that by vaping or whatever. It’s got way less tar and incarnations then nicotine and nicotine been legal forever and nicotine kills people and people been smoking pot and then there’s very few recorded cases of cancer from people smoking pot if any. Like lung cancer for instance.
But in the 1960s researchers started to learn about cannabinoid molecules like CBGA, THCA, CBDA, CBCA, CBGVA, THCVA, CBDVA, CBCVA. Interesting to note in the 1970s when Humboldt County in California first kind of came into its own. They were growing sensimilla. That’s female marijuana because the female plant is what gets you high. Or is what is used for medicine. The male plant is literally like a male bull. It’s used to perpetuate the species and create new strains and all that. But the female plant it was used for medicine or for inebriation. Essentially think about other kinds of flowering plants that are like that. You could think of hops, hops make beer. The whole family that hops and cannabis belong to is called and the cannabaceae family. It includes 70 species of blackbear of hackberry tree and elm tree, hops, cannabis, it’s pretty amazing actually. So you have these plant there’s basically three species of cannabis. There is cannabis Indica which gets to be no taller than six feet in the wild. Cannabis sativa can get 24 feet tall. That’s really tall. All these scientific names, its genus, and species so cannabis is the genus Indica is the species. Basically, there are three species. There is another one cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis ruderalis is indigenous only to certain parts of the Soviet Union and India. I think it’s all Latin. You know all of the conventions for phylum’s and cannabis and species are all Latin. It’s all Latin word derivatives and so you have a word like ruderalis which literally means ditch weed. It was discovered in the 60s I think but it doesn’t get you high. It’s an interesting plant. A typical cannabis plant flowers when the days grow shorter. If you grow them outside you can grow them all summer and then start getting into a fall in the daylight. You notice it gets darker earlier that’s when flower. That’s called a photoperiod. We mimic that indoors and we can do more mimicking indoor. Indoors we do crazy things and we can talk about that later. Some people run their lights 24/7 and then for 60 days and then they turn them down to 12 hours and the plant flowers and then depending on the terrain or the species could be four weeks six weeks eight weeks 12 weeks with flowering. And that’s their harvest time. But the third species of cannabis what’s really different about it is it does not have that mechanism, doesn’t need that mechanism. It doesn’t care about light so it will grow in even places where it’s not very sunny or very sunny places. It grows and flowers automatically and that’s why they’re called autoflowers. If you go online and look at cannabis seed websites they do the top 10 autoflowers, the top 10 regular cannabis, the top 10 Indicas, the top 10 hybrids or whatever. And so in the 70s, people started crossing this three-foot tall cannabis ruderalis plant that did not get you high but that would grow all year round regardless of how much sunlight it got regardless of the change in the sunlight. And they weren’t to perfect that three-foot plant crops with Indicas and Sativas so that it would retain its autoflowering capabilities and its small stature and its ability to grow in cold climates like northern Europe. Yet gets you high if you will or used as medicine by having Indica and Sativa or both into its gene pool. And so the hybridized and over time they have stabilized it. So today you can buy an autoflower and cannabis seed online and you can even buy a feminized seed so it’s guaranteed to be female. You buy those seeds and you grow them in literally 60 days.
There are 60, 70 and 80-day versions and 90-day versions called autoflowers and for some people, they are the easiest plants to grow. They used to have a lot less THC 10-20 years ago but now they are equal to anything else you can buy. The hybridization process has been going on for 45 years or more. And so it’s very stable now and if a new strain comes out like gorilla glue you can bet 60 days later you’ll be able to buy gorilla glue in an autoflower. We can talk about autoflowers in another segment because in some ways they’re very easy to grow. In other ways, they’re very hard to grow. So all of the techniques you would use on regular cannabis be it cropping or pruning or scrogging or even something as simple as transplanting. You can do a lot of that with an autoflower. It upsets its whole clock. It is accomplishing in 60 days what the other ones are accomplishing in seven or nine months. And so if you cut it and crop it thinks it’s life is over. It’s not like the other indicas or the sativas. You got to know what you’re doing when you grow an autoflower. Once you know how to grow autoflowers they’re pretty cool. But that’s another story.
It was discovered in India in the 19th century that I’m unpollinated seedless female plants were super potent. The males could give you a little tiny buzz. The plants that were pollinated females that had been pollinated and had seeds they would also get you high but they wouldn’t be as potent as female only plants. The females produced more drug-resin and have more cannabinoids and more terpenes. That was discovered in the 19th century in India where that came from. It’s kinda like the ganja approach means instead of diverting energy and metabolic resources to the production of seed the unfertilized female plant would continue to produce resin while it was waiting to be pollinated by a male. And that’s why you sometimes have a hermaphrodite which is a male and a female plant in one. Females will be so sexually frustrated for lack of a better term that they will grow male parts and pollinate themselves. You will have a less potent plant hypothetically and also you will have a polluted gene pool because all of your seeds will probably be hermaphrodites. So when this sensimilla was introduced in California in the 1960s the technique radically increased the quality and the aesthetics of the drug cannabis in the United States.
The technique was called sensimilla. It’s a Spanish word for without seed. Caroline Garcia and the Grateful Dead. But Jerry Garcia’s wife wrote a book about this technique which was published in 1977. That book sparked a sensimilla movement in the United States and was lavishly photographed by Jim Richardson was entitled sensimilla marijuana flowers. And I have a copy of it with limited distribution in 1976. Provides the best photographic reference of the different variety and the high and drug candidates being produced in the mid-1970s in the United States. The advantage of producing the seamless drug came with the downside. Seedless crops are produced not from seeds typically but from clones provides uniformity in the crop but growing from clones eliminates the opportunity for improvement in the species if you will. You’re not propagating the crops from seeds, so your using clones and mothers. That approach has kept certain lines of the drug alive for decades although accidents and neglect have resulted in many early clone lines being lost. So basically the science of the 70s which were some of the most incredible plants ever their gene pools are gone because of cloning. The gene pools are gone. So unless you have seeds from the 70s you’ll never see those again under those species. Is there any way to get those back? No, it’s all kind of recessive now. But there are some pretty magnificent strains now because we domesticated we found ways to increase the THC we’ve found ways to increase the terpenes. Like the smell of pine or citrus that’s a terpene. Those smells are also associated with the medicinal uses as well which we can cover another time.
But since the turn of the century in the United States, Israel the United Kingdom, Austria and Canada they’ve been trying to propagate Canada’s plants from tissue samples. They create artificial seeds which are kind of interesting which they did do at the University of Mississippi. I don’t really know whatever happened with that research. But for the average person, you can buy any kind of seed you want now from a seed bank online and pretty much-guaranteed DNA is what it is. If you go into a dispensary and buy a clone. And they tell you it’s girl scout cookies. Well, they have no way to know it’s girl scout cookies. Some grower could have sold them something they don’t even know what it was. He just made some mothers then called it Girl Scout cookies and sold them to the dispensary. And so you know all of a sudden you’re buying clothes that supposed to be Girl Scout cookies and you’re growing them and maybe you’re making mothers and growing more maybe you’re just growing them out and using them. But also you could be bringing home pathogens, bugs you can have hitchhiking bugs, spider mites you could have plant disease on the clones you could be bringing bugs into the grow environment by buying clones. Growing from seed is a much better way to. It’s a purist kind of method. Even though you can’t get seeds of the 1970s you can get the domesticated seeds of all the breeding from the last 40 years that are created all the strains with different levels of THC different smells different levels of CBD. So you can get a lot of really great plants and you can just buy the seeds.
Once you grow these plants and if you buy a feminized seed the plant will be female. And there’s a possibility they will turn into hermaphrodites but it doesn’t happen all the time. So there’s medicine in the sticky resin. So the cannabis plant produces. these trichomes under a microscope or a good magnifying glass. The tips of these plants secrete resin and that is the psychoactive substance which consists of terpenoids fats and cannabinoids. And the unpollinated female plant produces far greater concentrations of medicinal substances in the resin in the male plant. The resin is primarily produced in the flowering tops of the female in each tiny cannabis flower within those clusters consist of a single curl leaf known as a bract. Each bract is covered with vast numbers of glandular cells called trichomes. They may resemble a golf ball sitting on top of the tee. That’s the resin head it’s a waxy pelo of oil secreted from the cells at the tip of the trichome stock. When they’re ruptured they release intense aromatic chemicals called terpenoids. They can sometimes smell like a Christmas tree or whatever. So the terpenoids and terpenes and there are a lot of it and they keep finding more. There’s at least a dozen. And also the most delicate structure of the plant those little stalks they contain the majority of the medicine the trichome head and has must be handled extremely carefully to avoid rupturing them. Between the resin head and the trichome stock is another layer that allows the resin to be separated from the stock these little balls of cannabis resin can be collected because they called it teeth essentially dried resin balls.
I don’t know if you’ve ever made hash but basically, you can make hash really easily by getting some bags that have kind of like the bottom of the bag is a mesh screen. A very fine mesh screen and you get like three bags that fit inside of each other and the mesh gets smaller and smaller so you pour ice in there, ice cubes in there and you put all your plant matter in there and you literally get one of those things you make cement with. And you mix the ice and the cannabis and you break off all of that trichomes and they all fall down into the very bottom of the bucket and you have three layers. The bottom layer is a black hash and it’s very gooey and stuff and turns into kind of a clay like the next layer is brown and the next layer is kind of blonde. Three kind of hash and it’s really easy to make with ice but that all comes from the trichomes. Hash is all made out of trichomes. And it’s been said that the cannabinoids act as an ultraviolet filter to protect plants reproductive tissue from sunlight damage. Their resin definitely protects the planet from predators by insects and grazing animals. That’s for sure.
How medical cannabis works and doesn’t work people using cannabis for medical reasons are seeking symptomatic relief from pain or physical discomfort. For example back pain, migraines, sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety. There’s a body of evidence for using cannabis as a medicine for these conditions and less evidence for other conditions. But on the other hand, in Israel where they’ve been researching cannabis for 40 years, they’re killing cancer cells and there’s a well-known fact in the United States that children with epilepsy or forms of epileptic seizure ailments go from 300 seizures a week to maybe one seizure a week using cannabis. And in those cases, they have them on very high doses of medicine and it makes them drunk and they are literally ‘medicine hit’ from the doctor. You have to put a helmet on your 3-year-old if they walk around drunk all day long and they keep hitting their head.
With cannabis they administer small amounts of it over time and they build up to about a gram a day and then the seizures are literally gone and helmets are gone. Yet we still have people like Attorney General Jeff Sessions who says it’s not medicine and it’s addictive product like heroin and there we have the conundrum. And I think for this chapter this is good we’ve covered the origins of cannabis and the three species of cannabis and a little bit of the medical benefits and a little bit of the cultural anxiety about it for some people. But we live in a time where the states are asserting their statehood and they’re using the constitution to say hey what we have an amendment. We get to make our own laws. And that’s because it’s illegal federally it’s not going to be illegal in our state. And so the federal government and states are having a come to Jesus about this and the feds don’t want to spend federal resources because if they do have a state that legalized cannabis they’re not going to spend resources so you can’t expect local law enforcement in a state where it’s legal to participate in a federal raid on a legal dispensary with a license. These skirmishes are going to happen according to Jeff Sessions but we’ll see if that’s all bark and no bite. But there’s going to be a lot of interesting legal precedents going forward. We have about 30 states now that have legalized cannabis in some form or another. I think about 25 of those states you can grow plants at home.
The latest case in Vermont. OK. My birthday was January 23rd. Either that day or the day after the governor of Vermont signed into law. And it’s a first-time marijuana with legalized I think through the legislative process. Usually, it’s a petition or a proposition or some method by which the voters vote to legalize it. So but this went through the legislature and they took the easy way. So what they did was, they did criminalize having an ounce on you in public and they allow you to grow two plants at home. I think you can grow two mature plants or four immature plants. I’m not really sure what that means because the immature plants will eventually grow to be a mature plant. So let’s say you can grow two plants at home in Vermont. But you have no dispensaries in Vermont and there are no cultivation licenses in Vermont. There is no regulatory structure. It’s not part of tobacco or alcohol like it is in California it’s in the same department and they’ve spent millions and millions of dollars on creating this new office or department of marijuana to oversee and track the plant from seed to harvest aka seed to sale basically. And there are other states that only legalized the use oils to help children. There’s a girl I think she’s 11 or 12 just won a court case. She has a marijuana patch to not have seizures and the school didn’t want to allow it and they went to court and she won because in her state it’s legal. It’s a medicine and so we’re getting a lot more medical breakthroughs with cannabis going forward. And we’re going to see a lot more of recreational usage but basically, twenty-five states where you can grow between two and 12 plants at home. If you know what you’re doing and have the room you can get a pound per plant.
I myself have designed a home system which I received the patent. It creates a quarter pound in 60 days. I hope to get it to market in the next six months. It’s not like brewing beer at home. It’s not like making wine at home. That’s a hobby. This is different. Growing your own organic vegetables. OK. It’s totally different. Millennials and baby boomers have spent three billion dollars last year just on tools and seeds to grow their own vegetables at home to be more healthy and in every legal state where a new dispensary opens every photograph, they put in the newspaper the first people in line have gray hair. There are the Baby Boomers. They’re saying screw you to big pharma. OK. This marijuana works better for my Parkinson’s than any of your drugs. I can take two hits from my marijuana from this particular strain and my shakes go away for six hours. I don’t get that from any pharmaceutical and I’m tired of paying two grand a month for 30 pills and I’ll spend the money on cannabis. Better yet I grow my own vegetables so I can grow two plants in my house or 6 and they’ll grow their own. They have to follow directions and buy some books and recipes and they can make their own butter. They can do whatever they want. It’s a whole new ballgame. So we’ll talk about a whole new ballgame going forward.
Is that one of the reasons why you decided to invent the grow box because you wanted to ‘stick it to’ big pharma and help people save money on their medical bills?
Vincent Bitetti: It’s basically a medical idea. The way it works it’s completely organic. So put it this way you know what goes into it if you think about buying pot at a dispensary there’s a lot of regulations that say it has to pass certain tests like can’t have any mold like penicillin could kill you if you’re allergic to it. Right. There are other molds like aspergillus molds that have carcinogens. They’re known to give you cancer. Mold is an issue. And the other issue is pesticides. So you think about a 25000 square foot grow. OK. It’s not impossible to do without pesticides but it’s almost impossible.
The government allows the use of pesticides just like they allow the use of pesticides on food. So if you go to your local supermarket and you don’t buy organic food tomatoes, blueberries, blackberries, carrots whatever. If you don’t buy the organic stuff you buy the other stuff. It’s been hit with pesticides that are deemed legal and safe. Well, I don’t want any pesticides in my cannabis. And if I go to a dispensary and they bought it from a giant company they probably have legal pesticides in it. And there are some pesticides. There’s one called Eagle 20 which is illegal in most places and it’s systemic. So if your mother had it than your clones have it. If you sell the clones then they have it and then if you make mothers they have it and if you make clones they have it. It’s never-ending. Pesticides are bad and it stays forever in the lineage of the plant.
I created the box so people could grow it at home. Any strain they wanted and just mail away for their seeds. It’s not illegal to buy seeds. There’s no drug in the seed and comes in the mail. It’s like buying an ant farm in the mail when you were a kid. The same thing this grow chamber comes to you fully assembled. And there’s an app and a lot of other things, concierge service. And basically, we will teach you how to do it right with no chemicals. Fully organically and no pesticides and yet you know what goes in and you know what’s coming out. I think that’s the future. I really do.
If you can’t sleep there’s a strain for that. If you’ve got a lot of pain there is a strain for that and you know what if you are making oil you want to make butter; you can buy a decarboxylator. There’s one on the market now it’s small. You can put it in your kitchen just like you have your blender or your little ninja juice maker.
You have your decarboxylator so it turns your flower into dust and doesn’t take any of the THC out of it or anything. And that dust you can use to make oil and then you can make butter or you could use just make oil. You know there are things about oil some people say you put oil on cancer like skin cancer and it can help cure you. There’s literally enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that you could try that and you might cure yourself of skin cancer. It’s crazy but what people were actually doing it. So you know this whole idea, it’s like growing herbs at home you have a whole kitchen window shelf full of basil and lime. You want for your fresh herbs for your dishes, your pastas or whatever. This is just an extension of that and it’s medicine. It’s like having a dispensary in your house and in 60 days you can have a quarter pound. The unit pays for itself the first time out.