US medical cannabis company MedPharm has been awarded a research grant to evaluate cannabinoid product label claims of potency.
The three-year study funded by the state of Colorado will delve into trends in consistency between laboratories, shelf life and label accuracy within product categories.
“The proposed work will allow a direct comparison of product content to product labels, enabling an independent quantification of any systematic biases that may exist across product types or testing facilities,” said MedPharm Director of Chemistry Dr. Tyrell Towle.
As well as help informing regulators on any potential issues and helping to shape policies and procedures for testing and dosing, the results will also be of interest to medical cannabis patients and scientists – they will be made public.
Dr. Towle says there have been no previous studies systematically testing the full range of cannabis products sold in Colorado’s retail market.
Virdis Laboratories was founded by former Michigan State Police members in 2016. In total, about 40 employees are spread across two Virdis labs, operating in Lansing and Bay City.
The executive team includes Greg Michaud, former director of forensic science, Dr. Michele Glinn, a former toxicology unit supervisor and program coordinator, and Todd Welch, a former forensic scientist.
Welch was the impetus for starting the company and told Lansing City Pulse that his team has tested almost 70 per cent of all recreational and medical cannabis sold in Michigan over the last five years.
In addition to terpene and cannabinoid profiles, Virdis tests for heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, pesticides, microbes and other contaminants.
As it regulates hemp production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is simultaneously researching and developing end uses for the crop.
The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Peoria, Ill.-based Midwest Bioprocessing Center (MBC) are working together to expand the market for hemp seed oil into new cosmetic ingredients.
Chemists with the ARS’ National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria have patented a process called “bio-catalysis” that is a major component of the two-year agreement between the USDA and MBC. The process replaces chemicals and solvents with enzymes and heat “to catalyze reactions that bind natural antioxidants like ferulic acid to lipids in soybean and other vegetable oils,” according to a USDA press release.
The research team previously used compounds from soybean oil that the cosmetics market adopted because they offered absorbed ultraviolet (UV) and antioxidant properties. Now, per the release, “the ARS-MBC team will focus on bio-catalyzing hemp oil to make ‘cosmeceuticals’—skin-care ingredients that perform specific functions, like protecting skin from UV light, retaining moisture, or stabilizing other active ingredients used in skin-care formulations.”
Meanwhile, NCAUR scientists are researching processing hemp into fiber products, food ingredients, adhesives, lubricants and fuels.
With all the talk of the current devastation to the honeybee community, and the possible repercussions to humanity in general, it makes the small, buzzing creatures a rather important feature in our ecosystem. Honey, much like cannabis, provides all kinds of benefits to health and nutrition, and with a growing interest in cannabis honey, the two are coming together to create some of the best products on the market. If you were unaware of how cannabis and honey go together, read on.
The best thing to hit the world of cannabis isn’t shatter, or live resin, or even THC distillate. It’s delta-8 THC. Unlike delta-9 THC, the standard THC of marijuana, delta-8 THC actually produces slightly less psychoactive effect, causes less anxiety and paranoia, and provides a clear-headed, energetic high. It’s all the good stuff about THC, with less of the issues that cause people problems. If you’ve only heard about it, and never tried it, we’ve got great delta-8 THC deals so you can experience it for yourself.
A little bit about bees
The first thing to know about bees, is that they’re not all the same. When whizzing past your face, they may look the same, but a wasp, a yellowjacket, and a honeybee are all very different species of flying bug. We are most interested in honeybees. There are several types of honeybees, with the most common being Apis mellifera. This specific honeybee is also referred to as the European honeybee, or the Western Honeybee.
As social insects, honeybees reside together in hives, and actually have a pretty intricate communication system between them consisting of dancing movements, which can go in depth enough to explain to other bees exact locations of food sources, their size, and even quality. Each honeybee community has a queen bee, worker bees, and drone bees. Worker bees are female bees that never reach sexual maturity, with the queens being females that are bigger in size. Male bees are called drones.
I could go on talking about the particulars of honeybees, but it’s not terribly important. Here are a few things that are. Bees require two kinds of food. The first is honey, which is made from nectar from flowers. The second is pollen, which comes from the anthers of a flower. This nectar and pollen is individual to each species of flower, and each flower within the species. Most bees will only collect one or the other, pollen or nectar. While collecting, nectar gets stored in a stomach specifically for nectar, from which it is transferred to other bees in the hive to use for honey production. This is separate from the bee’s own regular stomach, however, a valve exists between the two so that the bee can use some of the nectar for energy if needed.
THC Testing Will Now Have A Dosing Standard Feds Say
When it comes to the study of marijuana it’s important that a standard is set. Many people who have researched cannabis in the past have not always gone by a standard. More so overall research is done for individual cannabis products. For example, most research is done by strain or a particular finished product. Which most times have a high dosage of THC and other cannabinoids. Having a method or system in place that helps break down the research in a more efficient way can be helpful to the outcome.
Right now a push to establish a standard dose of THC when researching marijuana is important. This will help arrive at better answers when conducting tests on cannabis. Using a standard dose will also give researchers a better understanding of how much THC is needed along with other cannabinoids for the plant to be most effective for consumers.
A leading federal health agency released info this past week in regards to the set in stone standard on the THC dose used for cannabis testing. This new standard will be the THC limit for marijuana research moving into the future. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced in a report to researchers that there is a “new requirement to measure and report results using a standard THC unit in all applicable human subjects’ research.” This would become active immediately. That standard unit is five milligrams of THC.
Looking At The Future of Cannabis Research
NIDA said that inconsistencies in measuring and reporting THC exposure “has been a major limitation in studies of cannabis use, making it difficult to compare findings among studies.” Therefore, a “standardized measure of THC in cannabis products is necessary to advance research by providing greater comparability across studies of both its adverse effects and potential medical uses.”
Ethanol contains 7 calories per gram. That’s almost two times the calories of carbohydrates and nearly as many of fat. So, if you want to drink beer without the calories, sorry — it’s not going to happen. It can’t.
That may be why, as breweries strive to minimize their beers’ caloric value, cannabis beverages are taking flight. With THC-infused drinks, consumers can attain that buzz they’re after without the caloric baggage. In a sense, they’re required to, since it is illegal to combine alcohol and THC in the same product.
Cannabis-infused drinks have been on the market for several years now, but I didn’t have a taste until last week, when I was delivered a sample pack of a lime-and-basil-flavored bubbly water infused lightly with the compounds of interest from marijuana — namely, and chemically, tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. These are better known in daily dialogues as THC and CBD.
CBD is the miracle molecule that cures all ills, or nearly so, according to high life advocates, while THC is the compound that messes with people’s heads.
The product I tasted contains both. It is on shelves now and emerged from a collaboration between Sava, a local online cannabis vendor, and Cann, which makes a variety of all-natural, low-dose “social tonics,” as Cann’s website calls them.
The Marijuana Collection Act would allow the federal government to get an accurate glimpse into the legal weed movement to see what works and what doesn’t.
Some Congressional members believe the concept of marijuana legalization should be studied extensively to pass the best laws at the federal level. Senators Robert Menendez (D) and Rand Paul (R), along with Representatives Sylvia Garcia (D) and Don Young (R), have introduced a piece of bipartisan legislation in both chambers called the Marijuana Collection Act.
If passed, the bill would task the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor and various health agencies to examine taxed and regulated marijuana markets across the nation over the next decade to learn more about what legal weed does for state and local economies, public health and criminal justice. It is then that nationwide legalization might be more realistic.
“As more and more states legalize and regulate marijuana, we must take a thorough examination at how different laws and policies in different states have been implemented, what works, what doesn’t, and what can be replicated elsewhere,” Senator Menendez said in a statement accompanying the bill.
Photo by traffic_analyzer/Getty Images
When it comes to starting global cannabis trends, America is like the big old light outside that all the fireflies keep trying to get at. Sure, other countries have their own trends, but on a global stage, no other country dominates like the US. In terms of cannabis trends started in America, perhaps the biggest are vapes, edibles, and delta-8 THC.
Are you familiar with one of the biggest growing cannabis trends in America? Delta-8 THC is giving regular THC a run for its money, and establishing a new way of using cannabis. With less psychoactive effect, and a clear-headed high, delta-8 offers most of the same benefits as delta-9, and without the associated anxiety and paranoia. If this sounds good to you, we’ve got great delta-8 THC deals for you to go ahead, and try it out for yourself.
One of the biggest cannabis trends to gain popularity in America before going international, is the cannabis vape. The idea of vaping materials is not new, and has been traced back as far as ancient Egypt, around 1554 BC, when hot bricks or stones were specifically mentioned for use with inhaling black henbane vapors.
I bought my first weed vaporizer in 2004. I was on a trip to Los Angeles at the time, and I was checking out head shops, since we didn’t have as many back East, where I’m from. At the time, the idea of vaporizing anything wasn’t on my mind, but once it was explained to me by the salesperson inside, I immediately saw an answer to the growing issue I was having smoking flowers in pipes and bubblers. It was killing my lungs, and I knew it.
I was sold almost instantly, and shipped the Vapor Brother’s box vaporizer back East, along with the small stash of smokable herbs (non-cannabis) that came with it. At the time, the vaporizer was still patent-pending, which was emblazoned on the side of the product. I spent years explaining to people what it was and what it did.
An agency of the US Department of Agriculture is teaming up with an Illinois based firm to potentially expand the market for products made from hemp seed oil.
The cooperative research and development agreement between Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and the Midwest Bioprocessing Center focuses on a patented process already developed by the pair called bio-catalysis. This involves using enzymes and heat rather than chemicals to catalyze reactions binding natural antioxidants such as ferulic acid to lipids in plant-based oils.
Already used to create a class of licensed and commercialized feruloyl soy glyceride (FSG) compounds from soybean oil, the same sort of process will be used in an attempt to make ferulic-acid-based ingredients from bio-catalyzed hemp seed oil.
“Hemp seed oil today is popularly used in cannabidiol-containing products for perceived health benefits,” says the USDA*. “However, like soy or corn oil, hemp oil also contains a variety of nutrients, fatty acids (including omega-3 fatty acids) and bioactive compounds that can be transformed into specialty chemicals offering useful new properties.”
This bio-catalysed hemp seed oil will be used to produce “cosmeceuticals” with specific attributes such as moisture retention or UV protection.
From the robots that fail miserably at their jobs to the robots dealing with our literal crap, Mashable’s Crappy Robots dives into the complex world of automation — for better or worse or much, much worse.
Cannabis farm production is at an all-time high, but it's unlikely that robots will take over the process anytime soon.
The stereotypical weed farm is either a sprawling expanse of crop tended to by free-spirited stoners, or a clandestine basement operation built on information gleaned from online forums. Modern cannabis farm facilities, with their climate-controlled grow rooms and automatic irrigation techniques, are a stark departure from pop culture's preconceived notions of what a weed farm looks like. Though far more clinical than its cliché predecessor, the modern cannabis farm still does the bulk of cultivation by hand. Few, if any, other agricultural spaces use human labor over that of a machine's to the degree that cannabis farms do, but the quality-driven nature of weed requires fine motor skills and age-old intuition that technology hasn't adapted to yet.
While the agricultural industry has relied on machinery for centuries, automation falls short in the cannabis sphere. The rise in states legalizing marijuana and the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp ushered in a "green rush" of farmers who could grow cannabis, and consumers who could finally buy it. Despite the growing demand, high-quality bud is a fragile crop, and machinery used in conventional agriculture isn't gentle enough to handle it.
Outdoor farming is limited to areas with consistent sunlight and temperate climates, so most brands farm their weed indoors. Marijuana Business Daily reported that in 2018, more than 80 percent of California's recreational marijuana production capacity was from indoor facilities. But even indoor facilities, unencumbered by outdoor farming's natural limits and boosted by modern technology, require people to do a majority of the work. That isn't because the technology or machinery doesn't exist, but because a trained human being just does the job better than a robot. Agricultural technology may be leaps and bounds ahead of at-home grows 20 years ago, but reaching a Monsanto-level scale of operations is out of the picture for cannabis farms. For now, ensuring high-quality bud still requires significant human involvement.
Cannabis and innovation go hand-in-hand. From growing to packaging technology, consuming to creating, cannabis influences many innovative ideas. Innovation in cannabis isn’t always as visible as it is in other industries. Cannabis is still budding and because it’s been illegal for so long, much of its innovation has happened behind closed doors.
As space continues to grow, entrepreneurs are becoming more comfortable sharing their ideas and advocating for a more transparent industry. The cannabis community is ripe with innovators developing thoughtful solutions to emerging problems. Here are a just a few bringing their ingenuity to the space.
Founded in 2015 by Rob Tankson and Kyle Powers, Presto Doctor has brought cannabis to the height of availability, (especially during COVID-19). The website enables those seeking medical marijuana licenses to visit their doctor online. This practice is available in Oklahoma, Illinois, California, Missouri, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Presto Doctor is a fast, easy, and private way to visit a medical marijuana doctor. In each state, however, the rules are different, so Presto Doctor has been verified by HIPAA, the American Telehealth Association, and Hi-Tech Compliant. Since the creation of Presto Doctor, they have been top-rated by many medical marijuana professionals.
Innovation through vaporization is how this company works. Vapexhale is primarily known for its EVO. The EVO is their heat core for vaporizing or regular flower consumption.
Finding funding for medical cannabis research can be challenging in the USA, but a new initiative is thinking outside the box.
University of New Mexico’s recently launched “Rounding Up for Research” project will raise funds for this purpose and for related student scholarships.
UNM is aiming to team up with cannabis dispensaries across the nation under the initiative, which will see participating dispensary customers being able to round up to the nearest dollar on their cannabis purchases and that difference going to the University’s Medical Cannabis Research Fund (MCRF). It appears the initial goal is to raise $250,000.
“Because the U.S. Federal government has overwhelmingly prioritized funding for research designed to measure the harmful effects of using Cannabis, there is a scarcity of information and governmental resources for investigating the plant’s potential medicinal applications,” says the University.
Senior scientist and assistant professor at UNM’s Department of Psychology Jacob Miguel Vigil says there is much to be gained from more research and is enthusiastic about the potential for cannabis in a medicinal context.
Aside from the many negative impacts of illegal grow operations (banned insecticides, illegal diversion of stream water, unchecked chemical runoff), legal operations can also pack a devastating environmental punch.
With both 420 and Earth Day (4/22) being celebrated this week, there’s an opportunity to take a good, hard look at the environmental impacts of the cannabis industry as well as legislative responses to those challenges.
Resource use and extraction, air and water quality, and waste management are just a few of the environmental issues confronting indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse cultivation operations. Worth a staggering $61 billion, the cannabis industry is profiting heavily from its current practices, so it stands to reason that legislators are looking to heightened restrictions, green incentives, and higher permitting and licensing fees to offset some of the environmental costs of production and manufacturing.
Photo by Matteo Paganelli via Unsplash
Aside from the many negative impacts of illegal grow operations, including the use of banned insecticides, illegal diversion of stream water, and unchecked chemical runoff, legal operations can still pack a devastating environmental punch. Soil degradation increased load on water and energy infrastructure systems, and carbon and volatile organic compound emissions from terpenes all have scientists, activists, and lawmakers scrambling to make sure the cannabis market’s booming profits don’t come at the expense of planetary health.
Cannabis extraction equipment represents one of the most innovative sectors in the industry, with new products and constantly evolving techniques for processing raw plant material.
Among other areas, marijuana and hemp companies are developing:Ways to combine extraction solvents.Novel winterization methods.Tools to refine the extraction process that have roots in the pharmaceutical industry
1. CO2 joined with hydrocarbons
At Eden Labs, an extraction-equipment manufacturer based in Seattle, founder Fritz Chess is working on a machine that will combine the strengths of two common solvents – CO2 and hydrocarbon – for both marijuana and hemp companies. The machines lessen the danger of the flammable propane by diluting it with CO2. Yet the technology also maintains hydrocarbon’s quicker throughput.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” Chess said.
It’s not quite as fast as using a simple butane or propane mix, but the process still creates an adequate terpene profile. According to Chess, the market demand continues to grow for marijuana-derived terpenes in vape pens. The natural terpenes can be used as a safe alternative to help “cut” the viscous extract rather than using a synthetic cutting agent such as propylene glycol. Chess said more consumers are becoming aware of the importance of terpenes in vape products to create the entourage effect.
Iowa State professor Jacek Koziel's exposure to research on the smell of marijuana happened while assisting a former Ph.D. student with her mapping of the substance's compounds.
Koziel remembers thinking "Oh yea, this is intense," as he saw three large canvas bags of police-confiscated marijuana, donated to their research at the State Forensics Laboratory in Ankeny. The student, Somchai Rice, now an Iowa State researcher, delved into similar projects with heroin and cocaine, creating an extensive library of compounds in the substances.
The paper published in 2015 that came from this project received 20,000 hits, and nearly a decade after that project began, Koziel is back digging into marijuana compounds.
The recent research project, led by Byers Scientific, singled out what compound causes marijuana's strong, skunky smell, a compound Koziel recognized from his research with Rice.
"Now with the project with Byers it's like, 'Oh my gosh, we saw this compound. It's right there," Koziel said. "Now, we have a confirmation of exactly what this compound is."
In Florida last year, nearly 15 percent of hemp crops failed due to poor performance. The plants didn't grow properly for reasons most farmers still can't pinpoint because they never tested samples along the way. Yet every wasted acre added up to significant losses in profits and resources. What if hemp growers had a way to prevent such disasters? What if they took the opportunity to test the soil and plants before harvest?
Hemp processors, brands, and retailers face their own unique challenges and opportunities in bringing products to market. Most companies focus so intently on testing for CBD and THC potency that they forget about the hundreds of therapeutic compounds their products contain. Even worse, some have no idea their products may possess harmful manufacturing byproducts that could make their customers sick.
Suppose hemp growers, producers, and sellers want a consistent premium product but don't have a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to prove it. How can they be sure the results match the expectations? How can they justify a higher market value? More importantly, how can they expect the end-user to trust in the quality of their product? The future of hemp and cannabis relies on the industry's dedication to quality, education, and inspiring consumer trust. Companies can only achieve those milestones by looking beyond minimum compliance standards. They must go beyond potency testing.
Here are six essential hemp and cannabis tests beyond potency.
To ensure the hemp is safe and effective for sale, farmers must start testing before the seed hits the ground and throughout the plant's entire lifecycle. If farmers test for contaminants and micronutrients, they can correct errors before wasting time and money on a faulty harvest.
Akerna CEO Jessica Billingsley speaks with MCN about the future of the medical cannabis industry, regarding technology, finance and cannabis policy.
Jessica Billingsley, who will be delivering the keynote address at the ICBC Global Investment Forum on 7 May, is CEO of cannabis technology consolidation firm Akerna. In 2018, she launched the One Woman Challenge, which challenges participants to support and encourage women in business at a time when female representation in the workforce is declining. She speaks with MCN about technology in the cannabis industry and the future of US drugs policy.
What first drew you to cannabis, both on a personal and a political level?
My initial interest in cannabis was fuelled by a matter close to home. One of my family members suffers from a demyelinating illness, similar to MS, and I saw promising scientific studies and medical reports backing cannabis-based medicine as a potential treatment.
I made my first investment in the cannabis industry in 2009; and my interest only grew from there, particularly around the proven health and wellness benefits of the cannabis plant. Although there are so many medicinal benefits, the unfortunate result of the substance being federally illegal for so long is that it became an illicit-market item, leading to issues of counterfeit products and incorrect dosing – most recently exemplified by the 2019 vaping crisis. On top of that, consumers are increasingly conscious of what they put in and on their bodies; and the murky waters of the slowly changing illegal-to-legal market have left many products untraced and consumers wary. This lack of accountability, transparency, and regulation was the driver for why I started MJ Freeway, Akerna’s flagship product, which pioneered seed-to-sale tracking. This software model provides businesses, governments, and consumers with connected data on where and how the cannabis is being grown, cultivated, and brought to the shelf.
Cannabis is the fastest growing industry globally, and coupled with my technology background, the cannabis technology market was one I willing to bet on – and that gamble has proven to be worth it.
The use of synthetic cannabinoids is a controversial issue in the cannabis industry. It could be an opportunity to advance the research and development into rare cannabinoids and their medical uses, but synthetics are also misused to tragic effect in the illicit market.
Legal synthetics vs. Illegal synthetics
All synthetic cannabinoids are produced by genetically engineering living cells like algae, bacteria, yeast, or organic chemistry (synthetic chemical biology). In the legal market, we can use synthetic cannabinoids to treat specific health conditions, but they must meet FDA approval and work the same as naturally occurring cannabinoids.
Unfortunately, synthetic marijuana also exists in the illicit market under names like K2, Spice, or Fake Weed. These illegal products are usually manufactured out of the United States with no government oversight, and they can be deadly. The chemical composition and packaging constantly changes to skirt the law and do not represent an authentic THC composition. It only mimics the psychoactive effect you feel, with no redeeming health benefits.
The case for synthetic cannabinoids
We know that there are over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, but they do not exist in every strain and not at the same potency level. The most well-known and abundant are CBD, CBG, CBN, and THC. These are called major cannabinoids. Minor cannabinoids (the other 100) are rarer and less plentiful.
Synthetic manufacturing can easily generate large quantities of minor cannabinoids that the plant cannot provide without producing large amounts of plant biomass. (Although, seed breeders and growers are experimenting with cultivating custom strains that play with the levels of cannabinoids and terpenes.)
British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture recently released a fact sheet describing the symptoms and spread of the most common diseases affecting cannabis plants. The list includes Fusarium, Pythium, Powdery Mildew, Botrytis, and Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd). Many of the pathogens cause stunted growth as well as reduced yield and potency. Others, such as pythium can cause plant death.
Needless to say, cultivators should do everything they can to prevent infections and ensure a fruitful harvest. The fact sheet concludes with several recommendations for preventing disease in cannabis plants, including:Maintain a clean and sanitary environmentMaintain proper humidity and temperatureTreat irrigation waterIdentify and remove diseased plantsPlant disease-resistant cultivarsUse disease-free planting stock or cuttings
Maintain a clean and sanitary environment
All the plant pathogens described in the fact sheet can be spread through contaminated equipment, tools, and potentially staff and visitors. That is why maintaining clean and sanitary growing facilities can minimize the potential spread of pathogens.
Tools, equipment, dehumidifiers, air filters, and growing and trimming rooms, should be regularly cleaned and sanitized. Visitors and staff should also use footbaths before entering the growing area and wear hairnets, beard nets, gloves, and Tyvek coveralls.
With the laws about cannabis use and sale continuing to change, two South African students are busy finding new and more efficient ways to grow the controversial plant.
In South Africa, cannabis can still not be cultivated or sold commercially. There is a lot of hope for a future cannabis industry to become transformative.
There are many examples worldwide of countries that have legalised commercial growth and sale of cannabis. This based on the number of jobs and money it has injected into their respective economies.
One of the most exciting things about so many countries legalising – or at the very least decriminalising cannabis use – has been the fact that the plant and its potential have once again become a subject of study for academia.
While many studies have been conducted to look at the medicinal uses for THC and CBD derived from cannabis, two South African students are looking to improve how the plant can be grown.