Testing shows that some marijuana strains are not what they purport to be in name, chemical content and genetics. This is particularly concerning for patients seeking pot low in intoxicants and high in pain-relief or other therapeutic qualities.
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One strain widely known for its high-CBD and popular among medical-marijuana patients is called Harlequin. But when Tonani and a leading Seattle pot-testing lab analyzed 22 samples of Harlequin from various growers and dispensaries, five of them were high in THC and had virtually no CBD, which means people trying to take medicine were just getting high instead.
Misnaming and inconsistent chemical profiles are extremely common, said Dr. Michelle Sexton, a naturopath, founder of PhytaLAB and an adviser to the state Liquor Control Board.
This problem can be significant for patients who don’t want to be stoned while working or behind the wheel. It’s even more so for pediatric patients. “You don’t want a 6-year-old with epilepsy being put on a bus under the influence of a psychedelic chemical,” Tonani said.
And there’s this irony: Recreational-pot users will soon have greater assurances about the safety and chemical content of the pot they buy at retail stores in the state’s new legal pot system than the best-educated patients have in the largely unregulated medical system, where testing and accurate labeling are not mandated for dispensaries.
“It’s completely backwards from what it should be,” said Randy Oliver, chief scientist at Analytical 360, the lab that collaborated with Tonani’s firm on the research.
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