One of the fallacies of “medical” marijuana is that it is safe, much like the aspirin or prescription drugs we take based on a doctor’s order. That is not the case according to Bloomberg’s Peter Robinson. Robinson reports:
Months after her biotechnology company sold for $40 million, Jessica Tonani is on Seattle’s Highway 99, where Kurt Cobain in his final days shot heroin in cheap motels. She’s scoring a gram of Blueberry Kush.
Tonani doesn’t plan to smoke the pot. Her typical procedure is to isolate some of its DNA and bank it, sequence its genetic profile, and test it for bacteria. After her stop at Choice Wellness, a medical marijuana store in one of the states where pot is newly legal, she buys the same strain in three more places (often collecting a “new-patient gift” of pot-infused gummi bears or goldfish). The goal for her new company, Verda Bio, is to build a database bringing order to billions of potential DNA combinations and, eventually, create stable strains that people can grow like a Red Delicious apple.
[ … ]
Tonani analyzed more than 20 samples of Harlequin along with Analytical 360, a Seattle testing lab, and found that 22 percent were high in the psychedelic tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and had almost no CBD. Any kids taking it were likely just getting stoned.
Tonani is also looking at contaminants to determine where they’re introduced and how to control for them. The first two samples turned up a long list of nastiness, including the fecal bacteria Enterobacter asburiae and the vaginal bacteriaGardnerella vaginalis. What this means, politely, is that many people handling pot don’t wash their hands.
Others have found pot samples collected contaminated with pot shops rarely testing to insure customers get a safe product. “The whole thing is just so loose and unregulated,” said Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, Director of the Marijuana Research Project at the University of Mississippi.
Bob Doyle, Chairman of the Colorado Smart Approaches to Marijuana Coalition, Christian Thurstone, M.D., General, child and addiction psychiatrist and A. Eden Evins, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School Director, Center for Addiction Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital in a letter to Greg Moore, Editor of The Denver Post, and Ricardo Baca, Editor of The Cannabist, wrote:
We are writing to express serious concerns regarding The Denver Post’s The Cannabist website’s recommendations of various marijuana strains to “treat” mental illnesses, including attention-deficit/
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We are writing as concerned professionals with extensive experience in mental health treatment, medicine, and/or public health.
The Denver Post’s web site provides information from Leafly.com listing 92 Colorado specific strains of marijuana with 88 claimed to treat depression, 25 to treat PTSD, 23 for bipolar, and 40 for ADHD (see attached document assembled by Bob Doyle, Chair, Colorado SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) Coalition). And a few strains are noted to treat cancer. The improper treatment or delay in effective treatment of mental health issues and major psychiatric illnesses can exacerbate the problem and could lead to additional harm to the patient and/or those around them.
In light of the serious potential impact of your recommendations, including possible delay in medical treatment for serious and potentially life threatening mental illnesses, and the potential for worsening of those illnesses by the marijuana you recommend, we request that you release the data upon which these recommendations for dispensing the specific marijuana strains as a treatment for bipolar disorder, PTSD, ADHD, and depression are based. We are sending a copy of this letter to medical authorities with knowledge of science and regulatory policies and procedures.
The absence of critical information on the web site for those accepting your advice to use the various marijuana strains is alarming and demonstrates a failure to appreciate the potential implications of your protocol. For each of the strains, we request to know the recommended dosage, duration, the THC and CBD content, whether you’re recommending they be used with or without FDA approved medication or behavioral treatment for the condition, what contraindications are known, and whether other physical or mental health issues should preclude certain people from using the strain.
We look forward to your prompt reply given the seriousness of the claims on your web site and their potential negative impact on serious psychiatric conditions your web site claims will be “treated” by particular strains of marijuana.
This is coming to Florida now and will get worse if the Marijuana Amendment 2 passes in November. Gird your loins.
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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Jessica Tonani, President of Verda Bio testing pot samples in Washington state.