In just a few years, changes in legislation over the use and distribution of cannabis in certain United States have transformed the drug from an illegal black market to a corner store industry worth billions.
As entrepreneurs, banks, advertisers, and public officials struggle to reach an agreement on the types of paperwork that are required to achieve an equal opportunity, this rapid rise hasn''t been without its teething challenges.
According to a research led by researchers from the University of Colorado, one area of the market in desperate need of a thorough overhaul is regulation based on our labeling.
When we pick up a pack of Oreos, we''ll not find it full of cheese-flavored crackers. This is a little thing we might take for granted when it comes to daily shopping. Despite the restrictions that are applicable to food, we know when we pick up a bottle of chips we''re not going to discover it.
We may also read a nutritional guide on the packaging that reveals how much sugar the product contains, or if it might harbor substances we''re allergic to. There are also approaches we can legally take if anything fails to meet our expectations.
Is it possible for a pot to do so.
"A farmer can''t simply pick up an apple and choose to label it a Red Delicious. There are certain standards for the cannabis industry. But that is not the case for the cannabis industry," says Nick Jikomes, the author and director of science and innovation at Leafly.com.
Jikomes worked with a team of researchers to analyze less than 90,000 marijuana samples from six US nations, according to the concentrations of their cannabinoids and compounds known as Terpenes.
Terpenes are primarily responsible for theskunk-like smell of cannabis, and they may therefore in turn influence the way cannabis impacts a whole body.
When it''s dry, cannabinoids have been used to distinguish different kinds of marijuana cultivars. For cannabis to be considered hemp, it can''t have more than a 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration.
The chemicals that interact with the endocannabinoid system are crucial to the medicinal and psychoactive effects of the products. THC and cannabidiol are also thought to be responsible for the two famous Cannabis types, sativa and indica.
Combining these and other plant chemicals together to produce the multitude of desired and undesired effects of weed, according to a proposed phenomenon called the entourage effect.
In their particular strain, cultivar, or even brand of weed, consumers would have a good understanding of the''ingredient list.''
However, this isn''t necessarily the case. Samples fell into three categories when it came to the types of terpenes they contained, for example. None of these corresponded well with sativa and indica labels, making it difficult to easily identify what you''d get based on this classification alone.
While some shops are capable of learning their products, some might not be given if you need to go public, putting consumers at risk for excessive tensions.
While some specific strains of cannabis were''consistently inconsistent,'''' according to the researchers, most were surprisingly similar regardless of where they were purchased.
"There was actually more consistency among strains than I had anticipated," Jikomes said. That assurances that the cultivators, at least in some instances, might not be eligible for adequate credit.
Giving credit to cultivars for self-regulation is one thing. Assurer accountability and consumer protection are another.
With a bill sweeping a federal prohibition on cannabis passing through the US House of Representatives in April, a national approach to regulating and marketing marijuana might soon be a more pressing issue.
It might be a costly first step as long as you have the same degree of confidence in knowing what''s in your marijuana as you drink, bread, or even aspirin.
According to co-author Brian Keegan, an assistant professor of Information Science at Colorado University Boulder, the current prevailing labeling system isn''t an effective or safe way to provide information about these products.
"This is a real challenge for an industry that is attempting to se professionalize."
PLOS One has released this study.