The federal government not only makes it extremely difficult to begin researching marijuana, but the sole source of marijuana used in research must be grown and supplied by the government's only official cannabis farm. A new clinical trial to test the effectiveness of medical marijuana on veterans with PTSD is underway, but a researcher from the study, Sue Sisley, has shown her concern that this government supplied marijuana hardly resembles the retail cannabis that patients are recieving around the US. A picture of the government grown cannabis next to commercial or medical grade marijana makes the difference clear as the former is filled with stems and leaves, which could be comparable to eating an apple with the seeds and branches. The max potency of the government marijuana is 13%, while the average commercial buds are around 19%, and some stronger strains even go up to 30%. The government regulated marijuana program is clearly out of touch with what real marijuana product is and therefore wont be able to properly test for the drugs effects in the real world. In light of these findings, officials hope to bring a better quality government cannabis product to research communities later this year.
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 competition called the Grow-Off.
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.