It is not a surprise that some seriously good cannabis is developing in legal states. Without legal restrictions keeping the sharing of knowledge or the testing of new strains to a minimum, those who live in recreational areas know just how high the quality of cannabis can be. According to a study conducted by the University of Colorado, Boulder, this is causing a major problem for federal researchers trying to study the plant. The samples they are getting to test are simply not as strong or diverse as the products that can be purchased in legal areas.
The current samples being tested do not show the diversity of the strains available in legal areas, nor do they reflect how strong cannabis can be. Because of this, the findings point out, federal researchers are not accurately documenting the plant’s medical uses, psychological affects, real-world use patterns or the biological properties of the plant itself.
“Those who are seeking to use cannabis to treat medical ailments should be able to determine what specific cannabinoids, and ratios of cannabinoids, will best treat their ailment.”
“Those who are seeking to use cannabis to treat medical ailments should be able to determine what specific cannabinoids, and ratios of cannabinoids, will best treat their ailment,” explained Heather Despres, Head of Science at Yofumo Technology, in a recent interview with CULTURE. “This is best done by studying what people are currently using for both medical and recreational uses. In the same way that pharmaceutical drugs are tested for dosage to ensure that the proper dosage is available to patients, cannabis should be studied similarly.”
According to the Boulder study, the cannabis currently being tested by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), is between five and six percent THC, while legal markets have access to THC that is closer to 20 percent in potency. This is important because cannabis still has a Schedule I status with the DEA, meaning that the NIDA is still the only research group in the world that has federal permission to test the plant.
Despres told CULTURE that in addition to the amounts and diversity being off, the method of administration by which patients and recreational users imbibe cannabis is another important point not being taken into account by the NIDA. “In my opinion though, the levels really need to be determined based on routes of administration,” she explained. “While the flowers delivered to patients in the NIDA study may contain only five to six percent THC, that dosage really only applies when smoked. If an extract is made, the concentration increases, and through downstream processing, the concentration can be made higher. More research needs to be done also on sublingual and transdermal applications to determine how much of the cannabinoids are transferred to the bloodstream and how they are received by the endocannabinoid.”
It is clear that if only one research lab in the country can test cannabis, some obvious problems are going to arise in terms of what is being studied and the data and product they have access to. It will not be until cannabis is de or rescheduled that true research can move forward. In the meantime, the University of Boulder study is urging the NIDA to get stronger and more diverse cannabis for their studies.