Article by Dr. Frank, Cannabis Culture
First of all, as I believe all cannabis use to be “medical” to some extent, it should definitely be the case that consumers should be getting the best product possible. This means no pathogens (mold, mildew, bacteria etc.), no heavy metals and no traces of harmful pesticides, herbicides and other industrial chemicals. I also firmly believe in people’s right to grow their own cannabis, and feel that any state that legalizes cannabis without the right for people to grow is not truly legalizing cannabis.
Like with most food, local, organic produce grown by people who care about their product is likely to be best. This means that, like with agriculture, there is a split between big agri-businesses wanting to mass-produce cannabis wanting to turn profit and provide to as many people as possible for the best price possible, and those who want to make sustainable, well-grown cannabis.
However, unlike with food and medications, cannabis doesn’t have the same regulatory oversight that big agri-businesses do. This means that certain pesticides and other harmful substances that are a big no-no if found on food could well be found on cannabis that people get at dispensaries. What’s more is that people grow cuttings from dispensaries that are found to be full of pesticides when grown at home, even if they’ve been grown organically by the home-grower. This is almost criminal, especially when we’re trying to look at this as medicine.
There are other problems as well. Many people aren’t getting the products they necessarily desire from dispensaries. This is not necessarily a problem with dispensaries themselves, but is a fundamental problem in the supply chain itself. Many strains are mislabelled when we take a closer look at their genetics. THC and CBD labels on many edibles and other cannabinoid-containing products aren’t accurate. Many products claim to help you “sleep” or “relax”, but the science behind it is flawed at best.
Marketing hype and chasing after the “next big thing” is common in the cannabis industry, just as it is in many other industries. This is not a surprise, really. There’s profits to be made, after all, and people need to eat and pay their bills. Another issue is one of small, “mom n’ pop” operations being unable to cope with all the new regulatory pressures. Now, whilst it is understandable that everyone should be required to adhere to the same safety standards, it must also be understood that some of these growers are the ones who take the plant most seriously.
One big fear concerning the cannabis industry is it coming under the control of big business and special interest groups. As recreational markets grow, there is a tendency to start treating cannabis as a “fast food” rather than the “whole food” that it is more akin to. The medical side gets left behind for a bit, and the research starts lagging a little due to the focus on making short-term profit.
On the other hand, it also produces a situation where the market splits more effectively, and those who are serious about working on the medical side can stay on the medical side. Those making “recreational” products can be honest about their intentions, and no longer have to hide under the banner of “medical marijuana”. After all, if you are going to call a product “medicine”, surely it should be treated as such, with dosages/titration, accurate measurements, safe ingestion methods, balance against other medications and so on?