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.
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.
“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
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
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.
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.