“Medicinal” Cannabis: not so much, maybe

After years of competition to grow best, dank, killer, kick ass weed like; Sour Diesel, OG kush, Train Wreck, Chem Dog, and Blue Dreams etc. The Cannabis grown today bears little resemblance to sixties and seventies weed that started the whole counter culture

puple haze
(Liberal Jon note: edited CBS News story starts here):

THC concentrations can be manipulated by Cannabis growers who cross-breed strains for increased potency.

The process of cross-breeding may also be responsible for another change in the makeup of much of the marijuana tested by Charas Scientific. Many samples turned out to contain little or no cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound in pot believed to have a number of potential medicinal uses. Scientists are researching its possible role in treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, as well as conditions like seizure disorders, anxiety and schizophrenia.

“That was somewhat of a surprise. Much more potent strain and less of the medicinal part,” Agus said. In light of the potential medical uses of CBD, “I hope more studies are done, but certainly we have to standardize and put CDB in there to make sure the studies have the benefit,” he said.

One other finding LaFrate reports from his lab is the presence of contaminants in many marijuana samples.

Testing for contamination is required in Washington state, which also has legalized marijuana, but not currently in Colorado, where regulators are still working on establishing standards. Charas Scientific says some Colorado producers submitted samples for voluntary testing — and they may not like the results.

“It’s pretty startling just how dirty a lot of this stuff is,” LaFrate said. Some plants turned out to be harboring fungus, bacteria or traces of heavy metals. (they apparently didn’t test for pesticide residues and their break down products)

Today’s marijuana is more potent by far than the weed sold a generation ago, according to new data being presented Monday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The research comes from Charas Scientific, one of a handful of labs certified to test the potency of marijuana in Colorado, where recreational use of the drug became legal last year.

“We’ve seen a big increase in marijuana potency compared to where it was 20 or 30 years ago,” lab founder and director of research Andy LaFrate, Ph.D., said in a video released by ACS. Based on testing in laboratory equipment, “I would say the average potency of marijuana has probably increased by a factor of at least three. We’re looking at average potencies right now of around 20 percent THC.”

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that acts on the brain to produce the feeling of being high.

“As far as potency goes, it’s been surprising how strong a lot of the marijuana is,” LaFrate said of the samples his lab has tested in recent months. “We’ve seen potency values close to 30 percent THC, which is huge.”

Compared to the 1980s, when federal officials say the level was about 4 percent, “that’s a dramatic increase in the part that gets you high,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus said on “CBS This Morning.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the potency of marijuana has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, but a level of 20 or 30 percent THC is even greater than the institute has reported in the past. As of 2012, it said marijuana confiscated by police agencies nationwide had an average THC concentration of about 15 percent.

So the questions become: What’s a safe threshold? And which contaminants do we need to be concerned about?”

Agus agreed, “The problem is how much is too much? When you smoke marijuana, it goes right into the bloodstream. What we worry about is some of these contaminants probably shouldn’t be in the bloodstream.”

Previous testing at another Colorado lab, reported by CBS News last year, found mold, mildew, E. coli and salmonella in some marijuana.

The head of the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division has said rules governing testing for contamination were being written, but the agency has not said when they will be announced.

{Liberal Jon note: original CBS News story here}:




12 thoughts on ““Medicinal” Cannabis: not so much, maybe

  1. Any comparison to other plants we consume such as tobacco and vegetables? This sounds like agendas overlain with Reefer Madness.

    In trying to parse this out, this is from one Colorado lab…while Colorado is looking at new regulations…and the results of these regulations are either going to be good for a MJ test lab’s bottom line….or not.

    So are they over-stating the case or is the writer?

    And what is CBS’s agenda here?

    And do read the comments at the CBS story linked at the bottom of the article.

    And good that I don’t have to smoke so much of all those ‘contaminants’ to get the same effects…progress.


  2. They could start by using the standards they use for the legally sold Tobacco,


  3. Now the TE has to start a story with a special heads up to Liberal Jon. Kinda like posting a sign when kids get on the short yellow bus.


  4. I’d seen the original article and am confused about some of the facts concerning the lab test results. But that’s not my point here.

    What struck me was the very casual TE remark “…sixties and seventies weed that started the whole counter culture.” I read that as a blanket assertion that pot is the basis of that era’s social movements. That’s ridiculous and wrong. And its irresponsible because first its not true, and second it perpetuates the untruth that the effects of drug use is the capability for individuals to more soundly develop opinions and attitudes about social and political issues.

    Especially in HumCo I’ve heard many times the idea that just by smoking a bowl you’ll understand the world much better and be a better person. TE is reinforcing that myth by restating it. Its the same lie as “just have another drink and your challenges will resolve and your life will improve” or “just buy another product and you’ll feel better and be happier”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While it’s definitely an oversimplication to say that smoking a bowl will automatically make someone a better person, it is also absolutely untrue to equate cannabis with alcohol or general consumerism. Cannabis -does- have a potential to improve people’s cognition on a number of levels. The thing is, it doesn’t necessarily happen automatically. The person still has to put in their side of the work, so to speak.


      • Of course, you’re entitled to your opinion. And other people have the opinion that drinking alcohol or seeking material wealth has the potential to improve cognition.

        I find no evidence for any of those claims. So my opinion is they’re all merely self serving justifications and rationalizations for mindless and selfish pleasure seeking behavior and nothing else.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The difference is that some opinions are based on personal experience and verifiable observations, whereas others are based on ignorance. Tell me, how much of the scientific literature on cannabis have you actually read? Not the anti-drug propaganda, nor the pro-drug propaganda, but actual peer-reviewed, published, well-constructed studies? I find it very hard to believe that anyone with even a cursory familiarity with the literature would hold such an opinion.


  5. CBD is not the only compound in cannabis with medical benefit. THC is not exclusively recreational with no medical benefits. There are hundreds of other chemicals in cannabis whose levels vary from strain to strain. Also I would point out that greater potency means less material needs to be used to get a useful effect, meaning less smoking has to be done.


    • Of course you have verifiable and repeatable data to back up your claim. You must also know that meth, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and (obviously)every Rx substance that is used recreationally also have medical benefits. Medical benefits are easy to find. Its the relative benefit to harmful ‘side effects’ that’s determines the more important quality of substances: safety.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course I do, but frankly, I didn’t think it was worth my time to cite anything in an initial comment. Most people would cling to their pre-conceived ideas and wouldn’t bother to read any of it, so it’d just be a waste of time. With that said I am glad to track down links to what’s available online and citations for what isn’t if you are sincerely interested and not just “firing back”.

        And, yes, I am aware of all of that. I am also aware of many other things – for example, that there are many legal drugs which are extremely similar, if not functionally identical, to illegal drugs. For example, most common antidepressants are reuptake inhibitors of serotonin, dopamine, and/or norepinephrine (usually one or two of those… not sure if any of the ‘supers’ that were being tested, that hit all three, made it to market, would have to check). Cocaine also happens to be a reuptake inhibitor of those three substances. I should also mention that it is not uncommon for psychiatrists to prescribe multiple such drugs at once, often with the result that all three receptors are now involved. In short they are given totally legal cocaine, in essence, with no idea that’s what they’re taking.

        I get that you think you’re making a good point, but -you- need to cite some proof that cannabis’s harm potential overrides its medical potential. Especially compared to your little laundry list, there. Because every one of those substances has much greater harm potential than cannabis does. Period. It’s not only been demonstrated, it’s common sense in some cases. I don’t think anyone, including you, honestly believes that cannabis is as dangerous as cocaine or heroin. At least I would sincerely hope not.


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