Karuna stays true to its medicinal roots

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      With so many dispensaries in Vancouver, it can be very confusing for those seeking cannabis-related health information. One of the most trusted options is Karuna Health Foundation, which operates in the Jericho and Cedar Cottage neighbourhoods of Vancouver.

      Its trained and experienced medicinal staff are on the cutting edge in communicating how cannabis concentrates can offer pain relief and help people struggling with an opioid addiction.

      That’s because at Karuna they keep up to date about research on the effects of various cannabinoids on human health, including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), and, of course, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

      While some dispensaries are focused on recreational users, Karuna remains faithful to its strong medicinal roots. The city even lists it as a medicinal store with a recreational licence.

      At Karuna’s two dispensaries, strains are often tested on an in-house machine before being put out for sale. None of the concentrates in its pens are cut with vegetable glycerin, which ensures they’re delivered in a purer form.

      Karuna is also a leader in creating high CBD strains, which can offer tremendous health benefits, thanks to extensive in-house research.

      Karuna Health Foundation + Metta Lounge in the Jericho neighbourhood is fully wheelchair-accessible and is along the Number 4, 7, 44, and 84 bus routes—at the stop on West 4th Avenue near Alma Street. There’s plenty of free parking in this area.

      The other dispensary, on Victoria Drive, is along the Number 19 and 20 bus routes and has free parking.

      Traditionally, there have been two schools of thought about how extracts from the cannabis plant can be used as a substitute for opioids, thereby eliminating the risk of an overdose death.

      Some have maintained that high-THC-content cannabis is beneficial because it brings a person’s mind into the present. That heightens awareness of what’s going on in the body and in the immediate surroundings, which can help a person move off opioids.

      Others insist that CBD in high concentrations is a better alternative because it’s not psychoactive. CBD does not create anxiety or any feeling of being stoned.

      Moreover, CBD at high levels can replicate what an opioid does: kill intense pain and induce sleep. And this can affect the brain’s neural pathways in a positive way.

      According to Karuna staff, that’s because the presence of high CBD levels offers an effective substitute to opioids for a person who’s addicted. Best of all, there have been no recorded deaths from a CBD overdose.

      For people who prefer the high-THC route, Karuna carries some of the most potent dispensary cannabis in Canada in its Special Reserve strain.

      Karuna also offers several Sunset blends high in CBD and low in THC, including Haley’s Comet and Charlotte’s Web. While other dispensaries might claim to be offering these strains, Karuna staff warn consumers seeking high-CBD-products to be cautious.

      That’s because they were developed in Colorado and the Netherlands and these seeds are not so easy to obtain.

      If Haley’s Comet or Charlotte’s Web are taken in concentrated forms through shatters or live resin, it’s possible to increase CBD levels so high that they can extinguish most pain immediately. These strains are typically taken at a two-to-one ratio of CBD to THC. So the Hayley’s Comet would have about 15 percent CBD and seven percent THC.

      The difference between a shatter and a live resin is its source. Shatter comes from a dried plant, whereas live resin comes from a living plant that’s been immediately frozen.

      Another difference is the taste. Live resin has turpenes, which provide flavour, whereas there is no such flavour in shatter.

      It is also good to note the difference between live resin and rosin, although they are similar. Rosin is an extract pressed with heat and pressure to obtain a shatter-like substance. Karuna members are welcome to use the in-house rosin press under supervision, or the extract staff are happy to press flowers purchased at Karuna.

      Meanwhile, Karuna’s CBD crystalline is virtually pure at around 99.5 percent, which is a phenomenal alternative for someone looking for an opioid substitute. The two dispensaries also sell CBD pain patches.

      One of Karuna’s most popular products, Phoenix Tears, contains high levels of both THC and CBD, which is why staff recommend that these only be taken in one-grain–sized dose. It’s also possible to buy shatters and live resin with up to 90-percent THC content.

      Karuna has also introduced its compassion line which offers two strains of each category in extracts, as well as flowers, at a discounted rate. Without compromising quality, Karuna has found a way to provide superior strains for $8 or less per gram, shatter at $45 per gram, and disposable pens at around $40 each, as well as other great deals.

      In fact, Karuna prides itself on accommodating those who are on a budget and in need of a medicinal-grade product. And the compassion line provides a solution for people who might otherwise assume they can only afford cheap, poorly manufactured cannabis.

      Concentrates can be delivered in different ways, including through cannacaps and pipes. An increasingly popular alternative is through pens because this involves vapourizing a liquid. There is no combustible material, which makes it safer and easier on the lungs.

      While pens don’t deliver quite the same bang as a hit from a pipe, they do make it easier to regulate how much CBD or THC is being consumed.

      Distillate pens offer the cleanest and strongest forms of concentrates, as well as the best flavour. They’ve also become far more durable in recent years. Other liquid pens come with oil extracted using carbon dioxide, and it’s also possible to purchase pens that vapourize buds.

      Yocan’s high-end pens come with a ceramic coil, which makes it easy to consume shatter without soiling any open metal inside. But the most popular way to take shatter is still through glass pipes.

      While it’s often stated that people can’t overdose on cannabis, the plant is not entirely risk-free. Karuna staff are aware that consuming excessively large amounts of CBN through edibles, for instance, can lead to panic attacks. In rare cases, this can cause a heart attack.

      This is why Karuna avoids strains with high CBN content. That can be accomplished through cross-breeding of different strains and regular testing.

      Staff also won’t allow recreational users to consume concentrates on-site and urge first-time users of cannabis to consult a naturopathic doctor.

      has two locations: 4510 Victoria Drive and 3636 West 4th Avenue, which includes the Metta Lounge. The East Vancouver location can be reached by the Number 19 and 20 buses; the West Side dispensary is accessible via the Number 4, 7, 44, and 84 buses.