Flush with victory after marijuana’s near-sweep on election day last week, cannabis users have another cause to be smug. This bout of satisfied superiority comes courtesy of a study out of Boston, in which researchers found medical marijuana aided test participants’ “executive function.” (Note: This means they performed better on various cognitive test after using medical cannabis products, not that they all became CEOs.)
This is just the kind of cannabis-positive study you need in order to stay high-minded, considering other studies that say marijuana weakens your heart, ages you more quickly and otherwise renders your otherwise-promising life a jagged pile of broken dreams.
But there’s a problem with this body of “knowledge,” maybe all of it—the good and the bad—it’s based on bunk weed.
As many cannabis scientists and researchers have known for years, the only marijuana available for clinical study comes from the federal government. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has licensed the University of Mississippi to grow the country’s only “research-grade” supply of cannabis. (This is the same garden that supplies the surviving participants in NIDA’s Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program, which still mails a tin of government pre-rolls to a stockbroker in Florida and a few other souls.)
This does not bode well for any studies underway or planned, including the $2 million-worth of research that the California-based Center for Medical Cannabis Research will get to conduct, thanks to a cash injection from recreational marijuana sales under Prop. 64. Unless the research relies on patients supplying their own cannabis—which a few studies do—any cannabis science is derived from studies involving this marijuana, which is so low quality and so low in THC and CBD that it has next-to-no correlation with actual marijuana found on the marketplace.
According to NIDA, “high-THC” pre-rolls top out at 6.7 percent THC, or about half of the THC content you’d find in the bottom-shelf, $20 eighths, at any self-respecting medical or adult-use dispensary. “High-THC” bulk marijuana tops out at 10 percent, and while there is “very high THC” weed at “greater than 10 percent,” that’s still struggling to achieve half the potency of most strains used everyday by consumers.
And dabbers? Forget about it—the shatter that wooks are playing with might as well be from another planet.
Think of it this way: Imagine if you wanted to declare a new pharmaceutical safe or dangerous, but only had half or quarter-strength test material to use for research. Now imagine that substance was psychoactive and had demonstrated its ability to mess with peoples’ minds. It’s enough to make you question everything you know.
Not that you needed experts to tell you this, but researchers from the University of Colorado and Steep Hill Labs, the Berkeley-based cannabis testing lab—who last month also let us know that 84 percent of the weed they tested over a month-long period recently failed pesticide, fungicide and mold standards—went ahead and compared strains available to scientists and the strains available to consumers at retail dispensaries.
And as you’d expect, “[o]ur results demonstrate that the federally produced Cannabis has significantly less variety and lower concentrations of cannabinoids,” they wrote. “Current research, which has focused on material that is far less diverse and less potent than that used by the public, limits our understanding of the plants chemical, biological, psychological, medical, and pharmacological properties. Investigation is urgently needed on the diverse forms of Cannabis used by the public in state-legal markets.”
In order to do this, one of two things has to happen: Ole Miss’s farm has to grow a bigger, better and wider variety of cannabis, one that reflects reality; or other researchers have to be allowed to grow “research-grade” cannabis—which should have the same potency and terpenes of the pot actually used out in the wild. Seems an obvious move that a child could have identified, but this is weed we’re talking about.
While rejecting a rescheduling petition, the DEA did announce that it would entertain applications from other would-be cultivators, but it’s unclear how many licenses they plan to hand out and when they might make an announcement. Until then, rest assured knowing everything you know is quite possibly wrong.
Most Universities Have No Interest in Growing Marijuana for the DEA
State Department Says NIDA Marijuana Monopoly Is a Scam
NIDA in Need of Better Weed
NIDA Releases Info on the Pot They Sell
$68 Million Marijuana Research Contract Awarded to the University of Mississippi (Hotty Toddy!)
You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.