Monday, June 6, 2022

Consistently Inconsistent

What's in your weed? You might be surprised
May 2022,

  • 90,000 samples across six states
  • Leafly database of chemical analyses compiled from cannabis testing centers
  • Largest analysis to date of the chemical composition of marijuana products
  • Commercial labels "do not consistently align with the observed chemical diversity"

"Our findings suggest that the prevailing labeling system is not an effective or safe way to provide information about these products," said co-author Brian Keegan, an assistant professor of Information Science at CU Boulder. "This is a real challenge for an industry that is trying to professionalize itself."

"A farmer can't just pick up an apple and decide to call it a Red Delicious. A beer manufacturer can't just arbitrarily label their product a Double IPA. There are standards. But that is not the case for the cannabis industry," said co-author Nick Jikomes, director of science and innovation for the e-commerce cannabis marketplace

Products do tend to fall into three distinct categories:
  • high in the terpenes caryophyllene and limonene
  • high in myrcene and pinene
  • high in terpinolene and myrcene
  • (similar to Avery Gilbert's study; Citrus vs Earthy)
  • (but those categories do not neatly correspond to the indica, sativa and hybrid labeling scheme)

Some strains, such as one called White Tahoe Cookies, were surprisingly consistent from product to product, while others, such as one called Durbin Poison, were "consistently inconsistent," said Jikomes.

"There was actually more consistency among strains than I had expected," he said. "That tells me that the cultivators, at least in some cases, may not be getting enough credit."

via University of Colorado at Boulder: Christiana J. Smith et al, The phytochemical diversity of commercial Cannabis in the United States, PLOS ONE (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267498

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