Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Science and the Looming Cannapacolypse



Leave it to scientists to rain on your wellness parade.

CBD is clearly all the rage right now. Cannabidiol, a naturally occurring compound that's one of more than 100 phytocannabinoids found in cannabis flowers, has recently been federally legalized, was featured in a Super Bowl promotion and could reach more than $16 billion in annual sales by 2025, according to a recent industry analysis by Cowen & Co. In short, CBD products have become a full-blown wellness craze, with media companies from Goop to the Washington Post touting their benefits, loosely linking the compound to successful treatments of everything from autoimmune diseases, seizure disorders and neurological conditions to acne, anxiety and cancer.

Part of CBD's popularity is that it's stripped from cannabis' principle psychoactive compound, THC, meaning people can infuse it, tincture it, vape it and ingest it without getting high, which is a major draw to large swaths of the country that want to treat specific symptoms without getting stoned. Sounds good, right?

Well, researchers at the University of New Mexico found that the only hitch in that logic is that while THC has measurable benefits, CBD might not.

"Despite the conventional wisdom, both in popular press and much of the scientific community that only CBD has medical benefits while THC merely makes one high, our results suggest that THC may be more important than CBD in generating therapeutic benefits," said Jacob Miguel Vigil, one of the study's authors, in a statement. "In our study, CBD appears to have little effect at all, while THC generates measurable improvements in symptom relief."

The study used ReleafApp, a publicly available, incentive-free application designed to educate patients on how the type of product they are using (flowers, concentrates, edibles) and their cannabinoid contents (THC and CBD levels) affect their "severity levels" across 27 measured symptom categories, ranging from seizures to depression. The researchers tracked the data from 20,000 registered users over the course of more than a year.

But rather than calling on patients to trade those CBD products in for high-THC alternatives, the researchers say the study just reinforces that additional, controlled studies are needed to analyze the efficacy of both THC and CBD for medical uses.

"These findings justify the immediate de-scheduling of all types of cannabis, in addition to hemp, so that cannabis with THC can be more widely accessible for pharmaceutical use by the general public," Vigil said.


While rumors of California's cannapacolypse proved greatly exaggerated, this time it might be real. Really.

Dire predictions on the impacts of regulation on the cannabis industry's ability to get products to legal markets have come and gone in the past with little disruption. But the state really is in a bit of a pickle this time. Of the 7,000 licenses the state has issued to date for the industry, only nine are permanent. The balance are temporary. And expiring. Soon.

Currently, all the temporary licenses are slated to expire by July, at which point the California Department of Food and Agriculture expects to have only issued 144 permanent licenses. Obviously, this would grind the state's regulated industry to a halt, shutter thousands of businesses and generally result in chaos.

Fortunately, the North Coast's own state Sen. Mike McGuire has introduced Senate Bill 67, which would allow cannabis businesses to continue operations until they receive permanent state licenses. The bill was slated for a hearing in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee as the Journal went to press and some local industry advocates were headed south to testify.

Thadeus Greenson is the Journal's news editor. Reach him at 442-1400, extension 321, or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @thadeusgreenson.

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