Cannabis constituents and their effects

Different kinds of cannabis have different effects, but federal law prevents research on what does what.

How do the psychoactive effects of cannabis use vary with the varying chemistry of different strains? Appallingly, the current science can’t tell us what we need to know, and federal law makes that research impossible to conduct in the U.S. I discuss these issue with Brian Lehrer of WNYC.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

10 thoughts on “Cannabis constituents and their effects”

  1. MK wrote: Appallingly, the current science can’t tell us what we need to know.

    Well, there are a lot of things that current science can’t tell us. I wouldn’t characterize that as appalling. (Your choice of comma placement indicates that “the federal law” is not appalling.)

    But it will tell us what we need to know once we are allowed to ask (scientific) questions.

    But please realize that the question “How do the psychoactive effects of cannabis use vary with the varying chemistry of different strains?” is pretty complicated and will take a while to answer. I hope WA can find a way to make MJ available before your question is answered.

  2. Just a point of note. One of the callers asked about the super potent marijuana, that is being produced today, and it’s propensity towards addiction. I can say for a fact that the buds being produced today are not any more potent than what the original indoor growers were doing 35 years ago.

  3. UCSF has been doing research with cannabis from other sources, not just UMiss cannabis.

    I believe Massachusetts was trying to get approval from NIDA to produce research cannabis a few years back. I don’t know if NIDA approved the Massachusetts request, my recollection was it made was during the Bush administration. Perhaps an alternative source of approved research cannabis in the US would be possible now.

  4. Well, why not just ask the people who work in the dispensaries? They probably know quite a bit. I used to know a guy who took mm, and he said the people there knew all about side effects of different kinds.

    1. Anecdotal evidence isn’t science. It may be informative and useful for generating hypotheses about effects, but is is not controlled and reproducible experiments. In addition MM providers have incentives to move product and may not be recommending solely on the basis of patient’s needs.

      1. Anecdotal evidence could guide study design — assuming that the point of the studies is to find out how the drug actually works. If there is some other agenda, then by all means, ignore the experiences of actual people.

        And they do want repeat customers, I would think.

  5. Don’t mean to hijack your post, Mark, but I just finished with the draft regulations from the Washington State LCB. I have no idea what your raw recommendations were, or if they are reflected in the draft rules released by the Board, but on the assumption they were accurately reflected, I’d like to say good job, a tip o’ the hat, and thank you. While there are some requirements that may turn out to be onerous upon implementation, I do not see any major issues.
    As you know, I was sceptical, but the end product looks good. Kudos for your part.

  6. “raises the risk of a bad trip”

    I’ve never heard of ANY experienced user having a bad trip. Even with high THC percentage marijuana. Maybe it’s anecdotal but I think it’s inexperienced, ignorant, first-timers running to the emergency room.

    1. Or somebody who used to smoke commercial Colombian back in the ’70s and nothing since, who gets handed a J of modern prize-winning sinsemilla and hronts down half of it in a few minutes.

      While it’s true that there’s always been hi-grade pot, there’s a lot more of it these days. If you never ran across any Thai stick or Maui Wowee back in the day, and you smoked .25g of current hi-grade expecting something like the effect of a similar amount of ’70s commercial, you’d be in for a big surprise.

      I’ve read some stories that were amusing only because the participants figured out plausible stories to tell the EMTs after somebody called 911.

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