News & Updates

Marijuana Migration: The Story of Medical Refugees

In 2014, Colorado was the first state to legalize adult-use or recreational marijuana. Before legislation was even passed, people began flocking to the state with anticipation and a desire to experience the benefits of “fully legal” marijuana.[1]

This significant migration pattern was captured in a 2018 study.

Researchers found that between 2005 and 2009, an average of 187,600 people moved to Colorado each year to access medical marijuana. Between 2010 and 2013, these numbers increased by 20,760 per year—an 11% increase. When marijuana became fully legal in 2014, the number of people who moved to Colorado increased by an additional 8.2%. Based on this data, researchers concluded marijuana legalization had increased Colorado’s total population by 3.2%.

Marijuana migration continues to be relevant today, particularly for individuals and families seeking marijuana for medical purposes. And although a number of states have adopted medical marijuana programs, their qualifying conditions, methods of consumption, and other treatment factors vary and may not be suitable for everyone.

Individuals or families that do choose to relocate are often referred to as “medical refugees.” American Medical Refugees (AMR)—a Colorado-based support group—defines medical refugees as “persons who relocated from their preferred area of living, residence, or community, in order to avoid persecution and prosecution for medicinal cannabis treatment.”

With relocation, many medical refugees sacrifice their livelihoods, their social support networks (including family and friends), and their belongings. For most, however, these disruptions are worth it if it means access to medical relief—and an improved quality of life.

Here are two of their stories.

Autumn Gordon

Treatment for autism and Dravet syndrome

When Autumn was three months old, she was diagnosed with severe autism and Dravet syndrome. Dravet syndrome is a severe type of childhood epilepsy that caused Autumn to have multiple, prolonged seizures—sometimes lasting up to four hours.

In 2018, Christine Gordon moved from Kansas to Colorado to get medical marijuana for her daughter, Autumn. This move, in her own words, saved her daughter’s life.

In less than six months of treatment, Autumn’s cognition, language, and overall health steadily improved.

During a seizure, Autumn often required several doses of rescue medications that caused her to go into respiratory and cardiac arrest. She spent a majority of her life intubated and admitted in an intensive care unit (ICU).

Within a few weeks of living in Colorado, Autumn received her medical marijuana card. And in less than six months of treatment, Autumn’s cognition, language, and overall health steadily improved. She was even able to stop seizure activity in under three minutes and reduce her dependence on pharmaceutical drugs. With less side effects than pharmaceuticals, Autumn is now able to be her authentic self.

Jacqueline Patterson

Treatment for cerebral palsy and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Jacqueline Patterson was born with cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect a person’s movement, balance, and posture. Because there are multiple types of cerebral palsy, symptoms vary and depend on the location of the affected muscle groups.

For Jacqueline, the muscles on the right side of her body are noticeably weaker and less developed than on her left side. She also has a severe stutter and experiences constant speech spasms.

When Jacqueline was fourteen, she tried marijuana and “experienced what it was like to be without pain for the first time in her life.” As a teen, she self-medicated but struggled with purchasing product through safe and reliable channels. As an adult, she made the conscious decision to leave Missouri and seek treatment in California. 

Jacqueline claims medical marijuana helps her numb the chronic pain caused by her condition, as well as improve her speech. When she consumes medical marijuana, she feels more relaxed, her thoughts are less rushed, and she is able to get her words out more easily.

Today, Jacqueline is a medical marijuana advocate and activist, establishing nonprofits to help people with disabilities access medical marijuana and other supportive resources.

These stories and countless others like them resonate with us at Calypso. When you read our story, you’ll learn that our founder, Samuel P. “Pat” Black, III, was compelled to spearhead the development of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania after a family member sought treatment outside of the state—this of course, during a time when medical marijuana was illegal in the Commonwealth.

Fast forward to today, and the medical marijuana industry is booming in Pennsylvania. Residents with one or more qualifying conditions are able to access treatment and experience relief in many ways. Those who may have left Pennsylvania previously are now able to return. However, as long as there are states that have not legalized marijuana for medical use, the migration of medical refugees will continue.

[1] Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act and, as such, continues to be illegal at the federal level.

What Are Terpenes?

When it comes to selecting your medical marijuana products, some of the first questions you might ask yourself are regarding a strain’s type and cannabinoid profile. Is it an indica, sativa, or hybrid? Does it contain THC? CBD? Maybe a combination of the two? While these are important initial considerations, you may be able to refine your search by understanding a product’s terpene content. So, what are terpenes, and why do they matter anyway?

Terpenes are the organic compounds that give marijuana and other plants their unique aromas and flavors. In marijuana these aromas can range from, most notably, musky or earthy to sweet or even floral. Linalool, for instance, is the terpene responsible for lavender’s distinct scent and is one of the hundreds of terpenes also found in marijuana. At Calypso, we test our products for terpene content. But scent profiles are also sometimes reflected in strain names like Sour Diesel or Cheesewreck, for example. (And yes, Cheesewreck does smell like cheese.)

Do terpenes offer therapeutic benefits to humans? The research is showing promise.

The strong odor and bitter taste produced by the terpenes in marijuana serve an evolutionary function. These properties work together to repel insects and other natural predators, allowing marijuana to survive and reproduce. In addition to protection from external factors, terpenes are thought to play a role in the plant’s immunity. They are the main ingredient in essential oils, which have long been used for medicinal purposes. So, the question is: do terpenes offer therapeutic benefits to humans? The research is showing promise. 

In one 1995 study, limonene was tested for its efficacy on immune function and depression and was shown to reduce or even eliminate the need for antidepressants. Marijuana strains containing limonene are therefore thought to elevate our mood. In another study, terpinolene extracted from rosemary and sage was shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Further research on the benefits of marijuana is needed, but it looks like terpenes, just like cannabinoids, may have some medical value after all.  

What makes terpenes particularly interesting is that they appear to work in synergy with other marijuana compounds. In what’s known as “the entourage effect,” terpenes demonstrate the potential to enhance or mitigate the effects of other terpenes and cannabinoids. And while terpenes may offer benefits of their own, one article states that “the activity of many terpenoids may be cumulative: unfractionated cannabis essential oil exhibits greater anti-inflammatory activity than its individual constituents,” for example.

Curious to know more? Read about some of the terpenes most commonly found in marijuana and their potential benefits below. 


Myrcene is one of marijuana’s most prominent terpenes. Anecdotal research shows that myrcene may work synergistically with THC to enhance or extend the effects of marijuana. Myrcene is also the terpene thought to induce a “couch lock,” or sedative effect, although there’s no substantial evidence to support this.

Scent profile: Earthy, musky, herbal, cardamom
Also found in: Mango, hops, lemongrass, thyme, bay leaves
Potential benefits: Anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-cancer; treatment for chronic pain and insomnia


Caryophyllene is another terpene abundantly found in marijuana. Most people have likely encountered this terpene in the form of spices used for cooking. But caryophyllene has been the subject of many studies and may be a powerhouse in the world of medical marijuana.

Scent profile: Spicy, cloves, hops, earthy
Also found in: Black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, hops 
Potential benefits: Anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant; stress and pain relief; treatment for Parkinson’s and opioid use disorder


Pinene is the most common terpene found in nature. As a bronchodilator, it can help improve air flow to the lungs. It can also be used to counteract memory loss associated with THC. Pinene is responsible for a strain’s “piney” aroma.

Scent profile: Pine
Also found in: Pine needles, dill, parsley, rosemary, basil
Potential benefits: Anti-inflammatoryanti-cancer, antibiotic; treatment for depression, anxiety, and chronic pain


Limonene is what gives marijuana its “citrusy” scent. This terpene is often used in fragrances, cosmetics, and cleaning products. In medical marijuana, limonene can be used as a mood-enhancer and to boost the immune system

Scent profile: Citrus
Also found in: Citrus rinds, mint, fennel, and juniper
Potential benefits: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer; stress and pain relief; treatment for depression and anxiety


Linalool is often derived from flowers and spices, but it is naturally-occurring in marijuana as well. A study conducted on the effects of linalool on rats indicates that this terpene may be used to relieve stress. Linalool has potential sedative and mood-enhancing effects.

Scent profile: Floral
Also found in: Lavender, rosewood, mint, birch
Potential benefits: Anti-cancer, anti-fungal, antioxidant, antimicrobial; treatment for depression, anxietychronic pain, insomnia, and Alzheimer’s


Ocimene’s herbal, woodsy aroma is often used in household products like fragrances, antiperspirants, and hard-surface cleaners. From a medical standpoint, ocimene could be a worthy opponent to foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. 

Scent profile: Woodsy, herbal, sweet
Also found in: Basil, mint, parsley, tarragon, kumquats, mangoes
Potential benefits: Antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungalanti-inflammatory


As one of the primary components in tea tree oil, terpinolene may be used as an anti-fungal agent. Terpinolene is another terpene known for its sedative effects, but it may also be used to treat oxidative damage and inflammation caused by cancer.

Scent profile: Sweet, floral, herbal, woodsy
Also found in: Lilacs, apples, conifers, tea tree, nutmeg, and cumin
Potential benefits: Anti-cancerantioxidant, antibacterial; treatment for insomnia


Named after the hop plant (Humulus lupulus), humulene is also commonly found in marijuana. Further research on humulene is needed, but this terpene could have anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties.

Scent profile: Hops, earthy
Also found in: Hops, sage, coriander, cloves, ginseng
Potential benefits: Anti-inflammatoryanti-cancer, antibacterial; appetite suppressant 

Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?

While browsing marijuana strains or purchasing medical marijuana from a dispensary, it’s common to see strains divided into three categories: indica, sativa, and hybrid.

Indica and sativa are two primary species of the marijuana plant, and cross pollination of these two species breeds hybrids. These general categories reflect the widely understood classifications of marijuana and have been used to distinguish the experiences associated with particular strains. However, there are much more important differences to consider.

With this in mind, these are the key distinctions largely accepted by marijuana connoisseurs:


  • Plants have shorter flowering cycles (6 to 8 weeks) and are able to thrive in colder climates native to the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Turkey
  • Plants are short in stature (2 to 6 feet) with wide, broad leaves and dense, plump buds
  • Strains often have higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Strains are commonly associated with relaxing and calming effects, while providing mainly a “body high”
  • Strains are usually consumed at night due to their sedating effects


  • Plants have longer flowering cycles (10 to 16 weeks) and are able to thrive in warmer climates native to the tropical regions of Africa, Central America, and portions of West and Southeast Asia
  • Plants are tall in stature (8 to 15 feet) with long, thin leaves and airy, elongated buds
  • Strains often have higher levels of THC and less CBD
  • Strains are commonly associated with invigorating and energizing effects, while providing mainly a “mind high”
  • Strains are usually consumed during the day due to their stimulating effects

Hybrids are the result of crossbreeding indica and sativa plants and tend to be labeled as indica-dominant, sativa-dominant, or balanced. Hybrids are commonly grown to target specific effects, which are partly determined by the unique ratio of the two parent plants.

The three-category system used to predict marijuana effects is generally useful—especially for those new to the medical marijuana market. However, there is growing demand in the scientific community to abandon these categories and focus instead on a strain’s chemical composition to determine its potential effects.

The differences between indica and sativa do not serve as an accurate indicator for the effects experienced by a consumer.

Dr. Ethan Russo is a subject matter expert on the medicinal use of marijuana and currently resides as the Director of Research and Development at the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI)—a collective of global stakeholders from academia and private industries, committed to advancing medical marijuana research.

In 2016, Dr. Russo insisted that “accurate biochemical assays on cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles be available for [marijuana] in both the medical and recreational markets” and further claimed that “scientific accuracy and the public health demand no less.”

The differences between indica and sativa are rooted in each plant’s physical traits and attributes. However, these differences do not serve as an accurate indicator for the effects experienced by a consumer. As Dr. Russo suggests, the combination of chemicals in a plant is the superior predictive factor. These chemicals, which include THC, CBD, and hundreds of other cannabinoids are what distinguish a particular marijuana strain and its medical benefits.

As you explore medical marijuana and determine the right product for you, be sure to also consider the following:

  • Your desired effects. What do you intend to feel or treat? This question will help you pinpoint potential options. Discuss your goals with a dispensary employee, who may have recommendations to best suit your needs.
  • Your tolerance. With a variety of marijuana strains comes a variety of potencies. For first-time users, a low-THC and high-CBD strain may be the most tolerable and provide a less overwhelming experience. Start with a low dose. And if you desire stronger effects, increase your dosage or try experimenting with THC-dominant strains.
  • Your medical history. As with any medicinal remedy, there are potential side effects involved with marijuana. Before treatment, consult your doctor or other healthcare professional to identify possible interactions with your existing medical conditions and medications.
  • Your preferred consumption method. There are different ways to consume medical marijuana. In Pennsylvania, patients have the option to deliver product orally, topically, or by inhalation through vaporization. Each technique has its benefits and drawbacks. If you choose to vape, for example, you may experience effects quicker than if you were to use a transdermal (i.e., topical) patch. For more information on consumption methods, check out Medical Marijuana Consumption Methods in Pennsylvania

At Calypso, we are dedicated to helping patients make more informed decisions. With above industry-standard testing, we are able to record complete and accurate cannabinoid and terpene profiles for each of our strains. With comprehensive chemical profiles, we can better predict the effects our strains produce and ultimately provide patients a better experience. 

Stay tuned for more as we near our product launch!

Medical Marijuana Consumption Methods in Pennsylvania

In an industry where new products appear on the market daily, choosing the medical marijuana consumption method to suit your needs can be overwhelming. After selecting a strain for its desired effects, the next step is to consider which delivery method might work best for you. 

In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana patients can choose from three basic methods of consumption: inhalation (through vaporization), oral, and topical.



Vaporizers are growing in popularity among medical marijuana patients and health-conscious consumers. By using lower temperatures to heat marijuana, rather than burning it, vaporizers minimize exposure to the toxins associated with smoking. Additional research is needed to understand the health risks of vaporizing when compared to smoking.[1] However, consumers in one study reported less respiratory symptoms with vaping.

Vaporizers come in an array of makes and models but generally have cartridges that take marijuana oil or dry leaf. Oils and other concentrates are relatively new developments that provide relief using less product. However, they may have higher tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels than dry leaf, so it’s a good idea to start small and work your way up to the desired effect. 

Vaporization offers a level of discretion by producing less of an odor than smoking. The lower temperatures may also preserve the taste and produce stronger effects. When inhaling marijuana into the lungs, effects usually take place within minutes.



One simple way to get relief is by ingesting marijuana-infused products. In this process, cannabinoids are absorbed through the stomach and intestines. Because they undergo a chemical transformation during digestion, the effects caused by these products are often much stronger than any other consumption method.

Oils are concentrates that can be eaten, dispensed through a syringe and ingested, or taken in capsule-form. When orally ingesting any kind of marijuana product, it’s always a good idea to start with a low dose, be patient, and work your way up from there. It can take up to 2 hours to feel the effects, but they last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours—and sometimes longer!


There are also sublingual methods of delivery that completely bypass the digestive system.  Tinctures are marijuana-infused liquids that are usually placed directly under the tongue using a dropper or spray, although they may also be ingested. When products are administered sublingually, or under the tongue, cannabinoids are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream via the large number of blood vessels in that area. 

Dispensaries carry tinctures in a variety of dosages and cannabinoid profiles to suit your preferences and medical needs. Tinctures are an inconspicuous option that are odorless, offer better dosage control, and generally take effect within 15 to 60 minutes.


Topical products like lotions, balms, and salves can be applied to the skin for localized relief. Topicals are designed to treat pain, soreness, and inflammation, but they may also provide relief from things like skin conditions to itching. Topicals are non-intoxicating, which can make them great alternatives to products that are meant to be inhaled or ingested.

Because the cannabinoids in topicals don’t reach the bloodstream, they don’t produce the “high” feeling commonly associated with marijuana. Instead, cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), and THC are absorbed into the skin, where they bind to a system of receptors located in and around the human body.

Onset time for topicals can range anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, so be sure to read the label for details.


Transdermal patches are unique in that their properties penetrate through the skin to enter the bloodstream. They offer low-profile relief when applied to venous areas like the arm, wrist, or ankle. 

Patches come in a variety of cannabinoid profiles, including split ratios such as 1:1 CBN:THC—which has a sedative effect that may offer relief from insomnia. Patients can also opt for a simple, isolated cannabinoid like CBD to alleviate arthritic pain or inflammation, for instance. 

Although onset of effects is generally up to two hours, advances in slow-release technology can make patches a great option for relief that lasts all day or all night. 

At Calypso, we understand the world of medical marijuana can be an intimidating place, especially to new patients. But it doesn’t have to be. We hope this guide to Pennsylvania-approved consumption methods helps prepare you for your next dispensary visit so you can rediscover wellness.

[1] While smoking was traditionally the most common method of consumption, smoking medical marijuana is considered illegal under Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act.