How Should Researchers Measure Cannabis Variables?

Article by Solomon Israel, Cannabis Life Network

How should researchers measure cannabis variables? From individual doses to big-picture trends, Canadian researchers are starting to work towards consensus on quantifying cannabis By: Solomon Israel When Canadian researchers define new empirical measurements for cannabis, they'll be walking into a complex intersection of botany, chemistry and psychopharmacology. (Steven Senne / The Associated Press files) A sample of cannabis at a testing laboratory in Santa Ana, Calif. (Chris Carlson / The Associated Press files) In this Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, photo, a marijuana sample is set aside for evaluation at Cannalysis, a cannabis testing laboratory, in Santa Ana, Calif. Nearly 20 percent of the marijuana and marijuana products tested in California for potency and purity have failed, according to state data provided to The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) Researchers have long quantified marijuana's primary intoxicating molecule in terms of milligrams, but there's no scientific consensus on how many milligrams of THC count as a standard dose for the purposes of clinical research. (Jae C. Hong / The Associated Press files)

For Canadian researchers, recreational cannabis legalization opens up new possibilities for investigations in fields from social science to medicine, but first they have a problem to solve: a lack of agreed-upon standards for measuring cannabis-related variables.

Take THC, for instance. Researchers have long quantified marijuana’s primary intoxicating molecule in terms of milligrams, but there’s no scientific consensus on how many milligrams of THC count as a standard dose for the purposes of clinical research.

That stands in stark contrast to some other substances. In Canada, for example, a standard drink is defined as containing 13.45 grams of ethanol. That allows the government to issue drinking guidelines for alcohol users and gives researchers a straightforward way to measure alcohol use and compare it across different populations.

“When we talk to the basic science researchers in cannabis, they tell us there’s a need to standardize the methodology around, for example, vapour chambers for animal experiments, how you do them, what kind of dose of cannabis, what type of cannabis product you’re using, how you vaporize and so on,” said Eric Marcotte, associate director of the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the federal agency that funds medical research in Canada.

“There’s a need for standardization there.”

CIHR hosted researchers at its first workshop on the topic of cannabis measurements in Ottawa earlier this week, said Marcotte. It’s part of the agency’s integrated cannabis research strategy, which includes new funding for research into the drug.

Read the full article here.

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