Has Vaping Hysteria Gone Too Far?

By Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Jenny Gold, Kaiser Health News

On Sept. 16, Tulare County in California announced the nation’s seventh death from vaping-related illness. Its advisory warned about “the dangerous effects of using electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes.”

As federal and state health officials struggle to identify what exactly is causing the deadly outbreak, vaping advocates are stepping into the void and crafting an alternative narrative that is being echoed broadly in online communities.

The people getting sick, according to their version of events, all vaped THC — the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — using products bought on an illicit black market. They also contend federal officials have seized on the crisis to crack down on a nicotine vaping culture they don’t appreciate or understand, a culture proponents insist has helped them and millions of others quit smoking.

As of Oct. 1, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had identified more than 1,000 cases of vaping-related lung illness in 48 states. Eighteen people have died, including two in California. Of the 578 patients who have reported using specific products, most said they had vaped THC, but a significant portion — 17% — said they had used only nicotine.

CDC officials maintain they can’t identify one product or chemical culprit, and while they recently began emphasizing the risks of vaping THC, they continue to warn against any vape use at all.

Meanwhile, cities and states have responded with a divergent mix of warnings and bans. Michigan, New York and Rhode Island have moved to ban most flavored nicotine vaping products. The California Department of Public Health recently warned against all vaping devices, and the governor of Massachusetts issued a four-month ban on all vaping products.

The actions have sparked a backlash among hundreds of thousands of people who say they’ve been vaping for years without a problem. Compounding their distrust: the political calls to ban flavored nicotine products even though the vast majority of illnesses identified appear to involve people who were vaping THC.

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They see a government out to quash nicotine vaping because its popularity with teens has caused a public outcry, ignoring the adults who find it a pleasing alternative to cigarettes. When it comes to vaping, they have stopped looking to the CDC for advice.

Debbye Saladine-Thompson is a registered nurse in Michigan who was a smoker for 32 years before she switched to vaping. She now manages the Michigan Facebook page for Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA), a nonprofit that advocates for access to e-cigarettes and receives industry funding.

“I do not trust the CDC. Not anymore” Saladine-Thompson said. “I cannot trust an agency that says the product that I and so many people have been using for 10 years and hasn’t caused one death is now causing hundreds of illnesses. No, I do not believe that.”

Online vaping forums are roiling with accusatory messages suspicious of the government response. In Facebook groups, including one called ‘BLACK MARKET THC CARTRIDGES CAUSED THIS QUIT LYING ABOUT VAPOR PRODUCTS,’ vapers have expressed outrage over the bans on nicotine products while cigarettes remain readily available. They’re organizing phone calls to legislators and rallies at state capitols.

“We’re living and dying by these decisions,” said Kristin Noll-Marsh, the member coordinator for CASAA who moderates the group’s national Facebook group. “This vaping panic of 2019 is gonna go down in the history books as being like flat Earth, bloodletting and burning witches.”

CDC Messaging Criticized

Throughout the outbreak, the CDC has said that people who vape to quit smoking should not return to cigarettes. But the emphasis on all vaping devices drowns out that warning, said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University and proponent of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.

“In an outbreak investigation like this one, you have to be as specific as possible if you want people to listen. If you say ‘Just don’t vape,’ that’s not telling anyone anything they don’t already know.”

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Many also are critical of the messaging used by the CDC, states and some media outlets, saying they are out of touch with vaping culture and its terminology. Public officials often use one word — e-cigarettes — to describe what to people who vape is a wide range of products with different names.

People who see headlines about illnesses linked to “e-cigarettes” may not know it applies to them, said Jim McDonald, a journalist with Vaping360, a consumer news site. “Cannabis vapers don’t use the term e-cigarettes. They never, never use that term.”

Even among e-cigarettes, a term many equate with nicotine delivery devices, people differentiate between cartridge-based devices like Juul and the handheld “mods,” which tend to be larger and produce more vapor. E-liquids can come prepackaged in ready-to-use form or can be mixed in stores or at home. Whether cannabis is legal and regulated also varies among states.

The problem with the alternative narrative, say doctors who are treating patients, is that it’s not clear whether only illicit THC is to blame. Dr. Dixie Harris, a critical care pulmonologist with Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, has been reporting five to seven cases a week for the past six weeks. While many patients have reported using illicit THC, she also has had patients who have fallen ill after using products purchased at licensed medical dispensaries in states where cannabis is regulated.

A new study looking at lung tissue samples from 17 patients found the damage resembled chemical burns and included two samples from people who fell ill before the outbreak. The findings cast doubt on a popular theory that vitamin E oil, which has been used as a thickening agent in THC oil, is the culprit.

The investigation is challenging on many fronts. Vaping — both legal and illicit, nicotine and cannabis — has exploded in the past few years with little regulation. There are hundreds of products, do-it-yourself kits and home brews. The potential culprits are many: popular flavorings in nicotine vapes never tested for inhalation. Oils used to dilute THC. Contaminants. Pesticides. Possible toxic residue from the containers themselves.

The CDC is grappling with a dearth of information. The process of alerting the many agencies and entities involved — doctors, hospitals, law enforcement, public health departments — has been slow.

Among 86 cases in Illinois and Wisconsin, where the outbreak first was identified and investigators are further along in their work, people reported using 234 different products involving both nicotine and cannabis, according to a report published last month. Those products, in turn, involved a variety of brands, numerous supply chains and packaging without listed ingredients.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said the agency wasn’t narrowing the investigation only to cannabis, stressing it needed to “have an open mind” to understand the possible risks.

“Personally, with all the data that I’ve been seeing,” Schuchat said Friday, “I don’t know what ‘safe’ is right now.”

Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Risks of Vaping THC

By Roger Chriss, PNN Columnist

An outbreak of vaping-associated pulmonary illness is getting national attention. Over 800 people have been sickened and 12 have died.

The CDC reported last week that vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -- the psychoactive compound in marijuana – were involved in 77 percent of the illnesses. Several states responded with bans on vaping products and health alerts on vaping THC.

What do we know about the risks of vaping?

Vaping THC is so new that there is very little research. An animal study on vaping THC was published earlier this year. Performed on male and female rats, the study found that “repeated THC vapor inhalation in adolescent rats results in lasting consequences observable in adulthood."

Specifically, both sexes became tolerant to THC and male rats ate more. Interestingly, THC use did not change oxycodone self-administration in either sex, but increased fentanyl self-administration in female rats. There is no mention of lung effects.

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While vaping with e-cigarettes is relatively new, inhaling THC via cannabis smoking is old. And there is an extensive literature on multiple harms.

A recent study of nearly 9,000 people found that regular cannabis use was significantly associated with greater risk of respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. The study used blood work to confirm use and had a control group, making its results more reliable than a simple population survey.

According to the National Institute on Drug Use, cannabis smoke contains multiple carcinogens and inhalation causes lung inflammation, increased airway resistance and hyperinflated lungs, a symptom of COPD

Josh Bloom at the American Council of Science and Health writes that the solubility and boiling point of THC and CBD in cannabis vaping products may play a role in the lung illnesses.

But complicating matters is the presence of other subtsances in vaping liquids and in the devices themselves. A newly published study in Scientific Reports on aerosols in tank-style e-cigarettes found levels of chromium, lead and nickel, all known carcinogens, in excess of OSHA permissible exposure limits.

Most cases of vaping-associated pulmonary illness involve illicit products. But one fatal case in Oregon involved someone who bought vaping products at two state-licensed cannabis dispensaries.

Some vaping illnesses involve people who report no use of THC products at all, though investigators are finding that these self-reports are not necessarily accurate. According to STAT News, eight patients in Wisconsin initially said they didn’t use THC products, but were later found to have used the drug.

In other words, we may not know what people were really vaping. Given that vaping THC is federally illegal and only marginally regulated in states where cannabis is legal, investigating the role of THC in the vaping outbreak is challenging.

But the emerging risks have led states like Washington to ban all flavored vaping products. And the FDA has asked the DEA to pursue criminal charges against anyone who sells illicit vaping products.

For patients who use cannabis products for pain relief, there are better alternatives than vaping. The Arthritis Foundation recently released new guidelines that recommend CBD oils and tinctures that can be taken orally.

It is not clear what this means for the cannabis industry. But Joe Tierney, known as the "Gentleman Toker,” told the Washingtonian that he would be shutting down his cannabis website.

“I don’t feel good about the industry any longer,” Tierney said. “I don’t think it’s safe to consume cannabis anywhere after all of my travels.”

Sorting out the risks of THC vaping will take time. At present there is only circumstantial evidence and intriguing ideas. It is possible that THC is one of several different causes or is just guilty by association. Beyond that, we have the unknowns of vaping itself, which may be too novel for anyone to fully understand the risks.

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Roger Chriss lives with Ehlers Danlos syndrome and is a proud member of the Ehlers-Danlos Society. Roger is a technical consultant in Washington state, where he specializes in mathematics and research.

The information in this column is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

Green Without Envy

By Mia Maysack, PNN Columnist

In the opinion of some, at various points in my life I could've been considered a "pothead." 

If that is how you refer to the medicinal use of a plant that grows freely in nature, I own the judgement with pride.  

I've known people who sit around and smoke loads of grass to the point of everything being funny -- but they're too stoned to laugh. That has never been my intent or relationship with marijuana.

This is another element of living with chronic pain and illness that is severely misunderstood -- the desperation we feel for relief.  After you've tried countless traditional approaches to no avail or improvement, I don't care what anyone says. Every single person reaches their absolute limit or breaking point.

When others have discovered that marijuana is part of my care plan, I've been shunned and labeled as a drug addict by the very same people who puff cigarettes, drink alcohol into oblivion, cannot get through a day without coffee, and poison themselves with food-like-products from a drive-thru window.  

Please explain how a man-made drug produced in a lab is somehow safer than marijuana. The only difference is that the drug is regulated and thereby taxed. Arguably, that’s what all of this is about: Money.  

I haven't come across anything that eases my head or body pain. I have only been able to accumulate a short list of helpful remedies that can temporarily (but not always) assist in my co-existence with pain. 

For example, marijuana helps combat nausea, which aids with proper nourishment and hydration. And when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in days or weeks, a marijuana-induced state of relaxation can mean the difference between restful sanity or a trip to the loony bin.  

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There will always be people who abuse whenever they get an opportunity, in the same way that every church has sinners and one bad pizza doesn't mean all pizza joints are bad. The unfortunate choices of a few should not outweigh the credibility of many.

When I ingested my first opioid, it lifted the agony in a way I had never experienced before. I remember like it was yesterday. I thought for sure I was too sick to make it into work but chose to attempt this pill, solely out of desperation. It left me smiling ear-to-ear on my way to my beloved nursing job.

But as I pulled into the parking lot, I was struck with an overwhelming wave of sickness and could barely make it to the trash can before completely losing it. I had an allergic reaction to opioid medication and another potential treatment was biting the dust. 

I do not touch the stuff anymore, but that doesn't change the fact that opioids have proven to be extraordinarily helpful for a countless amount of people. And these same people who were given legitimate prescriptions are now being punished by having their medication taken away, often without a follow up plan or any notice. 

Healthcare providers are balancing on a sensitive tight rope between doing no harm while attempting to avoid ruining their good legal standing or that of their practice. This is causing many patients to feel abandoned, lost and isolated, with low quality of life and high suicide rates.

Peering into the window of someone else's life and judging them simply because you don't understand their thoughts, experiences or desperation is unacceptable.

It's easy to be judgemental and not care about the crisis in pain care if you or a loved one hasn't been personally affected by it. But this is a general societal crisis that affects young and old, rich and poor. Someday it will affect you.

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Mia Maysack lives with chronic migraine, cluster headaches and fibromyalgia. Mia is the founder of Keepin’ Our Heads Up, a Facebook advocacy and support group, and Peace & Love, a wellness and life coaching practice for the chronically ill.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

Arthritis Foundation Releases First CBD Guideline

By Pat Anson, PNN Editor

The Arthritis Foundation has become the first major patient advocacy group to release guidelines on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) to treat arthritis pain.  

About 54 million Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis. According to a recent national survey, 79 percent of arthritis patients are currently using CBD, have tried it in the past, or are considering it.

CBD infused products – from edibles to lotions to beverages -- are rapidly going mainstream, even though there is little scientific evidence to support their use. There has also been little guidance for consumers on what products to use or in what doses — until now.

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“We are intrigued by the potential of CBD to help people find pain relief and are on record urging the FDA to expedite the study and regulation of these products,” the Arthritis Ffoundation said in a statement.

“While currently there is limited scientific evidence about CBD’s ability to help ease arthritis symptoms, and no universal quality standards or regulations exist, we have listened to our constituents and consulted with leading experts to develop these general recommendations for adults who are interested in trying CBD.”  

CBD is largely extracted from a hemp, a marijuana strain that has only trace amounts of THC, the active ingredient that makes people high.

"Millions of people in the U.S. are likely trying to use cannabinoids to treat pain, and many are doing this in ways that might cause more harm than good, especially when they use high doses of THC," said Daniel Clauw, MD, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan who was one of the experts the foundation consulted.

"It's important that the Arthritis Foundation has taken a stand on CBD,” Clauw said in a statement. “Right now, it appears to be fairly safe and might help certain types of pain. It's far better to give this guidance, even if preliminary, because otherwise people will have no guidance whatsoever." 

DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE

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The new guideline is largely cautionary and does not explicitly recommend CBD as a treatment, stating only that it “may help” with arthritis-related symptoms such as pain, insomnia and anxiety.

When taken in moderate doses, experts say CBD has no major safety issues, although it may interact with some drugs commonly taken for arthritis, such as naproxen (Aleve), celecoxib (Celebrex), tramadol (Ultram), gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica) and some antidepressants.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends taking CBD in oral sprays or tinctures so the liquid can be taken under the tongue and be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

Experts say a “go slow” approach is best, starting with a few drops twice a day and increasing the dose gradually over a period of weeks until an effective dose is reached.

The guideline strongly discourages inhaling or vaping CBD because of the risk of respiratory problems. It also discourages taking CBD in edibles, such as gummies and cookies, because the dosing is unreliable. Experts say the effectiveness of topical lotions and creams with CBD is unclear because they often contain other ingredients.

Other key takeaways from the guideline:

  • CBD should never be used to replace disease-modifying drugs that help prevent permanent joint damage in inflammatory types of arthritis.

  • CBD use should be discussed with your doctor in advance, with follow-up evaluations every three months or so.

  • Buy from a reputable CBD company that has each batch tested for purity, potency and safety by an independent laboratory and provides a certificate of analysis.  

Unlike prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the manufacturing process for CBD products is not subject to FDA review, and there has been no FDA evaluation of their effectiveness, proper dosage, how they could interact with drugs, or whether they have side effects. 

The Federal Trade Commission recently warned companies that make CBD products to stop making unsubstantiated claims that cannabidiol can be used to treat arthritis and other chronic pain conditions.

Feds Warn CBD Marketers Again

By Pat Anson, PNN Editor

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned three companies that sell cannabidiol (CBD) oils, tinctures, edibles and other products to stop making claims that CBD can be used to treat pain and other chronic illnesses.

In letters to the companies, which the FTC is not identifying, the agency warned that it is illegal to advertise that a product can prevent, treat or cure illnesses without scientific evidence to support such claims.

One company’s website claims CBD “works like magic” to relieve “even the most agonizing pain.” Another company advertises CBD as a “miracle pain remedy” for both acute and chronic pain, including pain from cancer treatment and arthritis.

The FTC said the third company’s website promotes CBD gummies as highly effective at treating “the root cause of most major degenerative diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, fibromyalgia, cancer, asthma, and a wide spectrum of autoimmune disorders.” The company also claims its CBD creams and oils can relieve arthritis and fibromyalgia pain.

“In the letters, the FTC urges the companies to review all claims made for their products, including consumer testimonials, to ensure they are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” the agency said in a statement.

The letters also warn that selling CBD products without substantiation could violate the FTC Act and may result in legal action. The companies were given 15 days to respond.

In March 2019, the FTC and Food and Drug Administration sent similar warning letters to three companies -- Nutra Pure, PotNetwork Holdings, and Advanced Spine and Pain — for making false and unsubstantiated health claims about a variety of CBD products.

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Nutra Pure, which makes a line of hemp oil, now has a lengthy disclaimer on its website stating that its products “have not been evaluated” by the FDA and that they “are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease.”

But when we posed as a customer in an online chat with “Kristen,” a NutraPure representative, we were assured that hemp oil can treat pain.  

Customer: “Do your products help treat pain?”

Kristen: “There are numerous studies showing CBD has the ability to provide therapeutic benefits in the treatment of various conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, anxiety/depression, nausea, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, glaucoma and many other ailments.”

Customer: “Which one of your products helps treat fibromyalgia?”

Kristen: “We recommend starting with our 300 or 600 mg bottle.”

Customer: “Will that help joint pain?”

Kristen: “They are like an all in one type product.”

Customer: “What does that mean?”

Kristen: “One product helps with all types of conditions.”

Customer: “Including pain?”

Kristen: “Yes.”

CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. Much of it comes from hemp – a less potent strain of marijuana – that was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. There are literally thousands of CBD products on the market being sold online and over-the-counter without a prescription, often with dubious claims about their health benefits.

FDA and FTC enforcement actions against CBD marketers are sporadic and have usually only targeted small companies. But an FDA warning letter in July to Curaleaf, a Massachusetts company that sells CBD products nationwide, had an immediate impact on one large retailer. CVS Pharmacy pulled most Curaleaf products from its stores.

Study: Cannabis Flowers Rich in THC More Effective for Pain Relief

By Pat Anson, PNN Editor

Another study by researchers at the University of New Mexico suggests that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -- the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – should not be ignored as a treatment for chronic pain.

In an unconventional survey of nearly 3,000 cannabis users, researchers found that those who used whole cannabis flowers or buds rich in THC reduced their pain levels an average of three points on a 0 to 10 pain score. Those who ingested cannabidiol (CBD) did not experience similar pain relief.

The researchers relied on information collected from the Releaf App, a mobile software program they created that allows cannabis users to self-report their experiences using different cannabis products, including flowers, edibles, tinctures and ointments.. Their findings are published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

"Perhaps the most surprising result is just how widespread relief was with symptom relief reported in about 95 percent of cannabis administration sessions and across a wide variety of different types of pain," said Xiaoxue Li, PhD, an assistant professor of economics at UNM.

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"Cannabis likely has numerous constituents that possess analgesic properties beyond THC, including terpenes and flavonoids, which likely act synergistically for people that use whole dried cannabis flower," added Jacob Miguel Vigil, PhD, a professor in UNM’s Department of Psychology. "Cannabis offers the average patient an effective alternative to using opioids for general use in the treatment of pain with very minimal negative side effects for most people."

The authors caution that cannabis use does carry the risk of addiction and short-term impairment in cognitive and behavioral functioning.

“Cannabis with high THC also causes mood elevation and adjusts attentional demands, likely distracting patients from the aversive sensations that people refer to (as) pain," explains Vigil.

Previous studies using data from the Releaf app found that cannabis also provides relief from insomnia, seizures, depression, anxiety and fatigue. Despite conventional wisdom, THC was found to be more important than CBD in generating therapeutic benefits.

A significant weakness of the app is that it relies on cannabis users to subjectively self-report their experiences outside of a clinical setting. There is also no way to measure the quality or quantity of the cannabis they are ingesting.   

Two-Thirds of Americans Accept Cannabis as Pain Treatment   

Another new survey – conducted by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) – found wide acceptance of cannabis as a possible treatment for pain. The online survey 1,005 adults was conducted earlier this month.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed said they have used or would consider using cannabis to manage pain. Nearly three-quarters of millennials fall in that category. Two-thirds of Gen Xers and baby boomers expressed interest in cannabis, with 25% of Gen Xers and 18% of baby boomers saying they have used cannabis for pain.

Most of those who expressed interest in using cannabis products believe they are safer or have fewer side effects than opioids or other medications.

Other key findings:

  • 57% believe more cannabis research is needed

  • 34% don't feel a need to discuss cannabis use with their doctor

  • 13% believe no other type of pain management works for them

  • 40% wrongly believe CBD products sold at grocery stores, truck stops, health food stores and dispensaries are approved by the FDA.

The ASA recently endorsed two bills that seek to expand research on CBD and marijuana: the Medical Cannabis Research Act and the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act. The bipartisan bills would increase the number of manufacturers allowed to grow cannabis for research purposes and streamline the application process.

“As experts in managing pain, physician anesthesiologists are concerned about the lack of research regarding the safety and effectiveness of marijuana and cannabinoids," said ASA President Linda Mason, MD.

Government Grown Cannabis May Be Harming Research

By Roger Chriss, PNN Columnist

Physician researcher Sue Sisley, MD, has filed suit against the federal government over the quality of cannabis provided for her study on post-traumatic stress disorder. Sisley claims that the cannabis supplied by the DEA-sanctioned facility at the University of Mississippi is “suboptimal.”

Sisley told Green Entrepreneur that the DEA provided "standardized green powder that is just cannabis ground up.” She also said that the plants were moldy and contained sticks and seeds. 

Sisley is not the first researcher to say government cannabis intended for research is not the same as the cannabis available in dispensaries. This of course poses a key question: What is research cannabis?

Cannabis is a plant. Specifically, cannabis is the genus of a plant that includes the species C. sativa, C. indica, and C. ruderalis. There is still dispute if C. ruderalis should be included with C. sativa, or if all three species should be considered a single species, C. sativa. 

There is no precise pharmacological definition of medical cannabis. There is no agreed-upon level of THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids, and no accepted terpene profile. In dispensaries, cannabis comes in a large variety of strains used in a wide range of products. 

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There is poor consistency among strains. Leafly recently attempted to measure the reliability of cannabis strains and found that even the most reliable ones were far from consistent at the levels necessary for clinical research.

Moreover, cannabis is a moving target. Because it is a commercial product often intended for nonmedical use, it is subject to a variety of market forces involving its various psychogenic effects. And new strains are introduced regularly. 

Further, cannabis products are consumed in many different ways, such as smoking, vaporizing, ingesting and through the skin . The bioavailability of cannabis varies significantly by route of consumption because of different absorption levels and metabolism. So whatever research cannabis is used would have to be specified by strain, amount and route of administration. 

For research purposes, that requires precise information. But as Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News reported, medical cannabis comes in so many forms and has so many different uses that it presents a "unique challenge to cannabis testing laboratories." No existing test provides a good model on how to proceed.

In other words, there is no clear definition of research cannabis and there is no practical way to reliably test commercial strains with a consistency adequate for clinical studies. 

This means the definition of research cannabis is arbitrary. Researchers and advocates keep adjusting the definition or questioning the quality to explain away poor outcomes. According to Microscopes and Machines, when Dr. Sisley's PTSD study concluded, she unblinded the data and quickly came to realize the quality of cannabis provided by the University of Mississippi "had negatively affected the study’s efficacy data.”

But we cannot define research cannabis as the form of cannabis that only gives the results we were hoping for. This would be circular and self-justifying. It would also be self-defeating since we’d never know what, if anything, cannabis has to offer. 

Cannabis is a plant, not a laboratory-synthesized chemical being turned into a USP-grade pharmaceutical. As Jonathan Stea wrote in Scientific American,“it is best to conceptualize cannabis as a chemical soup with over 500 ingredients that can be served in countless different ways.”

This means that researchers will need to define their cannabis before starting a study. And the U.S. government will need to provide such cannabis. Fortunately, the National Institutes of Health is responding by producing more varieties of cannabis.

A more favorable legal landscape would also help. There may not be any “research cannabis” per se, but cannabis is certainly worth researching. 

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Roger Chriss lives with Ehlers Danlos syndrome and is a proud member of the Ehlers-Danlos Society.Roger is a technical consultant in Washington state, where he specializes in mathematics and research.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.