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US Government Research Weed Looks Nothing Like the Real Thing--Why?

Marijuana the US Government uses for research and testing holds little in common with the real cannabis that would grow if you planted the...
Rating:
4/5,
  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    wash post MAPS.jpg Take a look at the photo above. That's what most marijuana consumers picture when they think “marijuana” — chunks of pungent green plant material coated in sticky, crystallized THC-rich resin. But if you're a researcher looking to work with marijuana — to say, investigate how it impairs people, or how it could help people suffering from certain ailments — you don't have access to the weed that everyone else is using. Since the late 1960s the federal government has mandated that all marijuana used in research has to come through the federal government.

    To investigate the real-world effects of marijuana, however, researchers need a product that looks and feels like the real thing. And they're increasingly frustrated with government weed that is something else entirely.

    Don't take their word for it. The photo below shows a sample of federal marijuana distributed to Sue Sisley, a researcher who just embarked on a first-of-its-kind clinical trial to test the efficacy of medical marijuana for military veterans suffering from PTSD. A quick glance confirms it looks nothing like the commercial marijuana depicted above. While the real stuff is chunky and dark green, the government weed is stringy and light in color. It appears to be full of stems, which most consumers don't smoke. “It doesn’t resemble cannabis. It doesn’t smell like cannabis,” Sisley told PBS NewsHour last week.

    Jake Browne, a cannabis critic for the Denver Post's Cannabist marijuana news site, agrees. “That is, flat out, not a usable form of cannabis,” he said. Browne should know: He's reviewed dozens of strains professionally and is running a sophisticated marijuana growing competitioncalled the Grow-Off.

    “In two decades of smoking weed, I've never seen anything that looks like that,” Browne said. “People typically smoke the flower of the plant, but here you can clearly see stems and leaves in there as well, parts that should be discarded. Inhaling that would be like eating an apple, including the seeds inside it and the branch it grew on.”

    It's unclear if this is an exceptionally bad batch, but there's reason to strongly suspect it's typical of what most researchers are given. All federal marijuana is grown at a single facility at the University of Mississippi, overseen by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Last summer the DEA formally took steps to allow other entities to supply marijuana for research purposes. So far, none have been approved.

    The problems with the Mississippi weed go well beyond aesthetics. For instance, the pot grown there maxes out, potency-wise, at about 13 percent THC (the main chemical that gets you high). And that might be an overstatement — Sisley's own testing found that one of NIDA's strains purported to be 13 percent THC was actually closer to 8 percent.

    By comparison, the typical commercial weed available in Colorado is at about 19 percent THC, according to a laboratory that tests commercial marijuana in the state. And that's just the average — some of the higher-end strains are pushing 30 percent THC or more.

    For a researcher, it's difficult to assess the real-world impact of high-end pot if you only have access to the low-quality stuff. It's akin to investigating the effects of bourbon by giving people Bud Light. For certain types of research this isn't necessarily a problem, says Rick Doblin, founding director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a group that's been working with Sisley on the PTSD trial. "[NIDA's] marijuana is fine if you want to do academic research,” Doblin said — studies that look at how marijuana affects the body in a laboratory setting, for instance.

    But NIDA's weed doesn't pass muster if you want to know how marijuana use is affecting people in the real world. Or if you want to run highly controlled medical experiments, like the one Sisley and Doblin are working on. It's not even tested for some common contaminants, like yeast and mold, that many states now check for as part of their regulatory regimes.

    Doblin said the marijuana they received from NIDA showed levels of mold and yeast that far exceeded standards for some states, like Colorado and Washington. Be they opted to go ahead with the trial since additional testing confirmed that none of the strains of mold and yeast found in the plant material posed a risk to humans.

    In an email, a NIDA representative acknowledged that “there has been some emerging interest from the research community for a wider variety of marijuana and marijuana products. ... NIDA does plan on growing some additional marijuana this year and harvest some high THC material that will likely be above 13 percent THC.”

    Original Source

    Written by: Christopher Ingraham, Tauhid Chappell, Mar 13, 2017, The Washington Post

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Recent User Reviews

  1. mess clean
    4/5,
    "Look at that difference..."
    I'm sorry to say this, but our government's weed doesn't even look as good as "brick" weed from back in the day.

    Mold, yeast, 8% THC? Stems? Ridiculous.

    Very good article for outing the government's low quality weed, which I'm sure correlates to their low quality studies.

    Thanks for posting this, BT2H!
    perro-salchicha614 likes this.

Comments

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  1. Budgetadvisoryservice
    The image on the right looks a lot like the 'synnies' or synthetic cannabis (a term I hate because it has nothing to do with cannabis at all) which is available on the street here.

    Synnies is basically a mix of RC's in solution with a solvent, some of which might be cannabinoid receptor agonists, sprayed onto inert plant material. Sometimes the inert plant material is marijuana leaf and stem which would normally be discarded after it's been used to make hash or BHO.

    Whatever that shit is, it ain't weed.
  2. EdmundOnHigh
    I would be angry if someone has given me that "government marijuana" instead of normal weed.