Canada is preparing for marijuana legalization with shops selling products for medicinal and recreational use popping up everywhere. Marijuana dispensaries in Canada are operating illegally, but are widespread. It is expected that legalization will be introduced in spring 2017 and become effective by 2018.
CBD or Cannabidiol, the antipsychotic compound in cannabis, was not measurable in strains sold in Toronto shops.
CBC’s Marketplace looked into the marijuana for sale on the streets of Toronto and obtained 12 samples of strains from seven shops. The strains came highly recommended, or were the most popular in use. These samples were sent to an accredited lab to test for THC and CBD levels.
The average THC levels were around 20% with the highest reaching 30%. THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” associated with smoking pot. The levels of THC in the 1970s were around 2 -8 % says Jonathan Page, botany professor at University of British Columbia.
A selection of our products
CBD absent in strains tested
Lab tests showed no CBD in the samples. CBD or cannabidiol being the cannabinoid famous for countering the psychoactive, or negative effects of high THC strains including anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis. CBD is also the compound research is focusing on to treat childhood epilepsy, schizophrenia and arthritis, to mention just a few of its medicinal possibilities.
Dr. Steven Laviolette, a neuroscientist, and considered one of Canada’s top researchers into the effects of marijuana on the brain, spent 12 years studying the effect of marijuana chemicals on the brains and behavior of adolescent rats. He considers these findings alarming, saying there are basically no “brakes” on the psychological and neurophysical effects of the weed on the streets of Toronto.
Laviolette found that teenage rat’s brains exposed to high levels of THC reacted with paranoia and even schizophrenia-like symptoms, while CBD reversed schizophrenia-like symptoms.
Six of the twelve samples were labeled as having a THC content ranging from 13 – 23%, one sample claimed it contained 1% CBD. The test results revealed inaccurate labeling. Only two samples were within one percent of what labels claimed. Most samples contained more THC than was stated, but one contained only half of what was indicated.
One sample, for example, claimed it contained 13% THC, but tests showed it contained 18% THC. The unlabelled samples ranged between 15 – 30% in THC content. In not one sample could CBD be detected.
Recreational cannabis bred to boost THC
Dr. Mark Ware, vice-chair of the federal task force on the legalization and regulation of marijuana, says it seems cannabis for recreational use is bred to boost THC levels and reduce CBD levels to increase the euphoric potential.
Ware thinks more research is needed on the interaction between THC and CBD, and says it is way too early to recommend CBD and THC levels for recreational or non-medical use. He stressed the need for a better understanding of cannabinoids.
The minimum age to buy legal marijuana is also on the task force’s list of things to determine, and most scientists agree the human brain develops until ages 25. Ware says “Regulation includes education”. Young people and adults should know the facts about marijuana use, and what science is still busy discovering.
Simply put, we have the cannabidiol antipsychotic and THC, which is believed to be linked to the expression of psychosis unless countered by CBD. With recreational strains striving to eliminate CBD through plant breeding, and succeeding, there is a lack of balance in recreational strains. This is of concern, particularly when they are to be used medicinally.