What’s in that weed?

English: A photograph of hemp (Cannabis sativa...
English: A photograph of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. A photograph of a cannabis plant. The photo at that site is marked as being copyright-free, and is credited to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. A thumbnail of this photo was originally uploaded to the English Wikipedia by User:AxelBoldt. Ελληνικά: κάνναβη (κάνναβις) – Μαριχουάνα (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From Addiction Inbox:

 

Australia has one of the highest rates of marijuana use in the world, but until recently, nobody could say for certain what, exactly, Australians were smoking. Researchers at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales recently analyzed hundreds of cannabis samples seized by Australian police, and put together comprehensive data on street-level marijuana potency across the country. They sampled police seizures and plants from crop eradication operations. The mean THC content of the samples was 14.88%, while absolute levels varied from less than 1% THC to almost 40%.  Writing in PLoS one, Wendy Swift and colleagues found that roughly ¾ of the samples contained at least 10% total THC. Half the samples contained levels of 15% or higher—“the level recommended by the Garretsen Commission as warranting classification of cannabis as a ‘hard’ drug in the Netherlands.”

In the U.S., recent studies have shown that THC levels in cannabis from 1993 averaged 3.4%, and then soared to THC levels in 2008 of almost 9%.THC loads more than doubled in 15 years, but that is still a far cry from news reports erroneously referring to organic THC increases of 10 times or more.

CBD, or cannabidiol, another constituent of cannabis, has garnered considerable attention in the research community as well as the medical marijuana constituency due to its anti-emetic properties. Like many other cannabinoids, CBD is non-psychoactive, and acts as a muscle relaxant as well. CBD levels in the U.S. have remained consistently low over the past 20 years, at 0.3-0.4%. In the Australian study, about 90% of cannabis samples contained less than 0.1% total CBD, based on chromatographic analysis, although some of the samples had levels as high as 6%.

 

Read the rest here.

 

This is going to be interesting to watch as legalization creates more space and a market for ultra-premium pot. I’m not predicting anything, just wondering, but it makes me wonder if the relationship between the user and marijuana will change. As Bill White said several years back, “I can’t predict what the major drugs of misuse will be, but I can tell you that they are already here and someone will find a new way to use it.” In this case, could it be a new way to grow it? (BTW-This does not imply they I believe incarcerating people is a wise response to that possibility.)

 

 

Labeling legal weed

marijuana marlboroMark Kleiman’s looking for ideas about how to label marijuana in a hypothetical legal, commercial market:

Imagine – just hypothetically – that a state decided to open a legal (at the state level) commercial market in cannabis, with some of the users intending to use the substance to treat some medical condition and others using it for other purposes.

Such a market would have an advantage over purely illicit markets that the state could require that the product be tested and labeled with its content of active agents. Those labels might (or might not) help consumers what experience to expect from roughly how much of the product, avoiding unintentional overdose. They might also “nudge” users toward less hazardous patterns of use.

We’re pretty sure that THC is the primary “stoning” agent and that CBD (cannabidiol) has some buffering properties against, e.g., panic attacks. It seems likely that lots of the terpenoids that help give the product its flavor and odor also have their own psychoactivity, but the detailed science mostly hasn’t been done. It may also be the case that user-to-user variation in reactions will be higher for cannabis than it is for alcohol.

With respect to edible products, the label might try to inform consumers about how the content of (e.g.) a brownie compares to the content of some more familiar dosage form, such as a joint.

Finally, the label might contain warnings of various kinds: e.g., not to drive under the influence.

Since there’s more relevant information than can be legibly placed on a package label, there could also be required package inserts (as for pharmaceuticals) and/or a state-maintained website with information about cannabis and about how to interpret the information on the label.

There must be some optimal labeling system, but I’m damned if I can figure out what it is.

Some of the comments point out the difficulty of scaling an unprocessed crop, using hot peppers as an example.