Marijuana Strain Labeling Likely Misleading, Study Says

Marijuana Strain Labeling Likely Misleading, Study Says

A recent analysis of popular marijuana strains revealed widespread “genetic inconsistencies” that raise questions about what consumers are really getting at their local dispensaries.

The study, released last week, looked at 122 samples of 30 common cannabis strains, obtained from dispensaries in multiple cities around the United States. It turns out that strain names don’t appear to be reliable indicators of a given product’s actual genetic profile.

Marijuana Strain genetics

That might strike consumers as surprising, especially considering the fact that commercially available cannabis products are often reproduced through cloning and “stable seed strains.” Even so, the researchers found “evidence of genetic variation…indicating the potential for inconsistent products for medical patients and recreational users.”

While the study’s findings might disappoint recreational users who studied up on a strain’s reported effects on sites like Wikileaf, it poses a particular issue for medical marijuana patients who seek out specific strains to treat various health conditions, the researchers noted.

The factors behind the unreliability

The fundamental problem in cannabis strain inconsistency is that marijuana is federally illegal, limiting research and regulatory opportunities, and there’s currently no industry-wide system “to verify strains,” the study authors wrote. Therefore, “suppliers are unable to provide confirmation of strains.”

“Exclusion from protection, due to the Federal status of Cannabis as a Schedule I drug, has created avenues for error and inconsistencies.”

“Without verification systems in place, there is the potential for misidentification and mislabeling of plants, creating names for plants of unknown origin, and even re-naming or re-labeling plants with prominent names for better sale. Cannabis taxonomy is complex, but given the success of microsatellites to determine varieties in other crops, we suggest the using genetic-based approaches to provide identification information for strains in the medical and recreational marketplace.”

Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, told Marijuana Moment that he agreed with that recommendation.

“We have been calling for an industry wide science-based system for several years,” he said, citing a legislative accomplishment in 2016 that mandated the California Department of Food and Agriculture “establish a process by which licensed cultivators may establish appellations of standards, practices, and varietals applicable to cannabis grown” in the state.

“Having universities finally able to engage in this type of research is one of the most exciting outcomes of legal reform,” Allen said. “This is an important step the multi-year effort to document and catalog the extensive culture of cannabis.”

“We envision a well informed market, where consumers ask questions before making a purchase. How is grown? Where is it grown? What type was grown? The answers to all of these questions hold great promise for humanity.”

In the new study, which was not peer-reviewed, the researchers at the University of Northern Colorado also pointed out that increased cross-breeding on cannabis strains (hybrids) has contributed to genetic inconsistencies.

“The results are clear: strain inconsistency is evident and is not limited to a single source, but rather exists among dispensaries across cities in multiple states.”

It’s not just the strains that showed genetic variation. The study also indicated that the cannabis categories “indica,” “sativa” and “hybrid” may be unreliable.

Cannabis categories

“If genetic differentiation of the commonly perceived Sativa and Indica types previously existed, it is no longer detectable in the neutral genetic markers [the researchers used],” according to the study. “Extensive hybridization and selection has presumably created a homogenizing effect and erased evidence of potentially divergent historical genotypes.”

The team’s findings are consistent with a 2015 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, which also analyzed the cannabis genetics and determined that “marijuana strain names often do not reflect a meaningful genetic identity.”

How Reddit’s r/trees Helped Scientists Make Marijuana Discoveries

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Marijuana Strain Labeling Likely Misleading, Study Says

House Committee Takes Aim At Public Welfare In Marijuana Dispensaries

House Committee Takes Aim At Public Welfare In Marijuana Dispensaries

Low-income families receiving federal financial assistance would be barred from withdrawing those funds at stores that sell marijuana under a bill approved by a key House committee.

The JOBS for Success Act is a broader piece of welfare reform legislation, but included inside the bill is a provision that would expand the list of federally prohibited services for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. The language is similar to that of previous standalone bills that have been proposed and one that was introduced earlier this month by Rep. David Reichert (R-WA).

The House Committee On Ways and Means approved the bill in a markup session Thursday by a vote of 22-14. It will now more to the full House before potential Senate consideration.

The cannabis provision would prohibit “cash benefits from being accessed electronically at stores that sell marijuana, amending the current restriction on casinos, liquor stores, and strip clubs,” according to a summary.

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During Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) said the so-called “needs not weed” provision was another example of the intentional stigmatization of the poor, rather than a practical, fiscal attempt to reform TANF.

Lawmakers who pushed for strip club and dispensary bans for TANF recipients often consider these individuals the “idle poor,” “takers not makers” and “deadbeats,” Doggett said.

“We get a little flavor of that in this bill,” he said, referencing the marijuana provision. He later said “their goal was to stigmatize the disadvantaged” when lawmakers passed the strip club prohibition in 2012.

“Imagine how much good these Republicans would have done if they would have had the foresight to extend that strip show loophole to the White House,” Doggett said. “And with all of the crazy tweets that have been coming out of the White House these days, it certainly feels to me like someone’s been smoking something strange on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The Democratic lawmaker was then scolded by Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) for an alleged personal attack on the president.

The functionality of the provision

The need for the provision is questionable. Records obtained by the National Review in 2014 showed that TANF recipients in Colorado used EBT cards to take out cash at cannabis dispensaries just 64 times, amounting to a total of “$5,475 in public benefits.” Nonetheless, Republican lawmakers moved quickly to impose a statewide ban on the withdrawal of TANF benefits at dispensaries.

And as Americans for Safe Access (ASA) noted when the House voted on a similar bill in 2014, the efficacy of the proposed rule is also dubious.

“Even if passed into law, the value of the legislation would be minimal in terms of blocking the use of public assistance funds for medical marijuana,” ASA wrote. “By preventing the ability of TANF recipients to access funds from ATMs in medical marijuana dispensaries, the practical impact would only harm those with financial hardship and mobility issues, because TANF recipients could still make financial withdrawals from other nearby ATMs.”

https://massroots.wpengine.com/news/marijuana-business-owners-rally-capitol-hill-cannabis-bills-gain-momentum/

See below for the full text of the marijuana provision of the committee-approved legislation:

SEC. 13. WELFARE FOR NEEDS NOT WEED.

(a) PROHIBITION.—Section 408(a)(12)(A) (42 U.S.C. 608(a)(12)(A)) is amended—

(1) by striking ‘‘or’’ at the end of clause (ii);

(2) by striking the period at the end of clause (iii) and inserting ‘‘; or’’; and

(3) by adding at the end the following: ‘‘(iv) any establishment that offers marihuana (as defined in section 102(16) of the Controlled Substances Act) for sale.’’.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by subsection (a) shall take effect on the date that is 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

House Committee Takes Aim At Public Welfare In Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Save Lives, Study Finds

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Save Lives, Study Finds

States where people can legally access marijuana through dispensaries see dramatically reduced opioid overdose death rates, new federally funded research shows.

“In short, our findings that legally protected and operating medical marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid-related harms suggests that some individuals may be substituting towards marijuana, reducing the quantity of opioids they consume or forgoing initiation of opiates altogether,” the study concludes. “Marijuana is a far less addictive substance than opioids and the potential for overdosing is nearly zero.”

While previous research has shown that medical marijuana laws are associated with lower opioid overdose rates, the new analysis distinguished between states where medical cannabis is simply legal and states that actually allow streamlined patient access to marijuana through active dispensaries.

“Because legal protection of retail dispensaries does not mean dispensaries are operational, we construct our policy measure to identify the state/year in which dispensaries are both legally protected and open for business,” researchers from the RAND Corporation, the National Bureau of Economic Research and the University of California, Irvine wrote. “Dispensaries – retail outlets that sell marijuana to qualified patients – contribute to the decline in opioid overdose death rates.”

To be more specific:

“Using data from just the early period of these laws 1999–2010, dispensaries reduce opioid mortality rates by about 40%, above and beyond the reduction from marijuana laws alone. The total effect is estimated to be even larger. When we consider the full time period (1999–2013), the estimates imply that dispensaries reduce opioid mortality rates by about 20% while the main effect of having a law is relatively small in magnitude, implying declines of about 5%, and not statistically distinguishable from zero. Importantly, together – a marijuana law with a legal, operational dispensary provision – the estimates imply a statistically significant (at the 5% level) decline in overdose death rates of about 25%.”

“It is clear that operational dispensaries are critical,” the study, published online over the weekend by the Journal of Health Economics, concluded. “This evidence is consistent with the need for a clear and legal supply chain for medical marijuana policy to have an effect.”

Going a step further, the study, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that examining data from after 2010, “a period when states began opening more tightly regulated medical marijuana retail systems,” apparently in response to federal enforcement guidance, weakens the effect.

“The effect of medical marijuana policies on opioid related harm diminishes over time, particularly after 2010, which might be due to the regulatory tightening of medical marijuana dispensaries, the major marijuana policy feature behind the reduced harm in the earlier period,” the data suggests.

Nonetheless, the researchers concluded that “our results suggest a potential overlooked positive effect of medical marijuana laws that support meaningful retail sales.”

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Save Lives, Study Finds

New Hampshire’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

New Hampshire’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens

Nearly three years after voting to legalize medical cannabis, New Hampshire’s first medical marijuana dispensary finally began serving patients.

Over the weekend, the Sanctuary Alternative Treatment Center in Plymouth, New Hampshire finally awarded dozens of patients who anxiously waited the medical cannabis dispensary’s opening. This newly opened dispensary says it already has 150 registered patients with another 800 awaiting approval.

Those patients will have plenty of options to choose from as the dispensary’s grow operation includes over 50 strains of cannabis priced at about $400 an ounce. Patients can purchase up to two ounces or 56 grams of marijuana once every 10 days.

New Hampshire’s legislation legalized medical marijuana in July of 2013, but the regulatory and licensing process for dispensaries took nearly three full years to iron itself out and come to fruition. With New Hampshire’s medical marijuana industry officially underway, the East Coast is nearly painted completely green with medical marijuana states.

With Pennsylvania recently legalizing medical marijuana, every state north of Virginia now has medical marijuana laws in place. Along with Pennsylvania and Hawaii (which recently handed out its dispensary licenses), Maryland is one of the few 24 medical marijuana states not to have a dispensary system yet in place.

That should change within the next 18 months as Maryland is currently licensing dispensaries and setting up its own regulatory system.

Bernie Canter

Denver Puts a Limit on New Cannabis Businesses

Denver Puts a Limit on New Cannabis Businesses

Greenwood Spring CO - JULY 1: The Green Joint Marijuana Shop and sign in Greenwood Springs in Colorado USA. July 1 2015.

Greenwood Spring CO – JULY 1: The Green Joint Marijuana Shop and sign in Greenwood Springs in Colorado USA. July 1 2015.

Last night, the Denver City Council voted 7-5 in favor of placing a limit on new cannabis businesses’ in Colorado’s cannabis capital.

By this slim vote, the marijuana dream of opening a dispensary in Denver were likely shattered for many hopeful ganjapreneurs. The vote puts an end to Denver’s moratorium on new businesses and will implement a lottery system for new businesses.

There will be no new dispensary licenses handed out and it sounds like the “lottery system for new businesses” will be a very, very limited one if at all.

This decisions means those looking to cash in on Colorado’s green rush must try their hand at gaining licenses in Denver’s neighboring Aurora and Commerce City or look into mountain cities.

The inevitable dispensary plateau has finally hit in Denver.

Bernie Canter

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