Good Research, Bad Marijuana: Government, You Do It Wrong
Nida-supplied marijuana, as received by Sue Sisley. (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies)
Look at the picture above. It’s how the government thinks medical marijuana looks like.
How comes? Since the 1960s, the U.S. has required researchers to obtain marijuana through the government-approved farms. According to the Washington post, the picture above is cannabis supplied to Sue Sisley, a researcher conducting a first-ever clinical trial to test the efficacy of medical marijuana for a potential treatment of PTSD. Compare it to medical marijuana sourced by a dispensary:
Even a quick comparison shows that this stuff is not even close to the retail marijuana: chunky flower covered in resin vs. slightly green dry substance. “It did not look like cannabis. It did not smell like cannabis,” Sue Sisley told PBS NewsHour. Some of the samples she received weren’t of the chemical potency she had requested for the study. One strain should have contained 13% THC (maximum available potency; the typical commercial weed is about 19% of THC), but the testing proved it was about 8%. Other samples were contaminated with mold or yeast.
Jake Browne, a cannabis critic for the Denver Post, agrees. In his opinion, ‘that is, flat out, not a usable form of cannabis.’ He points out that ‘here you can clearly see stems and leaves in there as well, parts that should be discarded.’ Of course, it is not clear if it is just a bad batch, but there is a reason to suspect that this situation is standard.
The cannabis was grown on a 12-acre farm at the University of Mississippi under the supervision of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Last summer, the DEA formally allowed other sources of medical marijuana for research purposes. However, approval is still pending.
It is sad to look at the quality of this cannabis; it emphasizes difficulties researchers face when they attempt to study ‘the real-world impact of the high-end pot.’ The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham and Tauhid Chappell noted that ‘it is akin to investigating the effects of bourbon by giving people Bud Light.’
In response to complaints, NIDA claimed it plans to produce ‘some additional marijuana this year and harvest some high THC material that will likely be above 13 percent THC.’