OG Kush. Skywalker. Pineapple Express. Sour Diesel. Sour Jack.
These are the “strains” that medical marijuana consumers are sold, often at premium prices, with the promise that they'll do something special for you.
But a foremost cannabis expert, Jeffrey Raber, who holds a PhD. in chemistry from USC, says it's all BS. Those names don't mean anything, and a forthcoming study he's working on will prove it, Raber tells us. In fact …
… he even disputes the commonly held notion that the two polar types of weed, indica and sativa, produce opposing effects — specifically that indica is more of a depressant and sativa is more of an upper.
The data shows that indica and sativa is just morphology [the plants' appearance and structure, not their highs]. It's a misperception that indica will put you to sleep or that sativa is more energetic.
To be sure, many of the aforementioned strains pack the punch promised by their purveyors.
But beyond that, especially when it comes to projections of stimulation or relaxation, head trips versus body highs, and strain-specific cures and treatments, it's a crapshoot, Raber says.
There's no scientific basis for the claims being made by pot shops about the effects of their weed, Raber argues. In fact, he says his study is showing that what's being sold as OG Kush in one shop could be something completely different in another.
“Most people don't even know,” he says. “We took a popular name, Jack Herer, and found that most didn't even look like each other. OG whatever, Kush whatever, and the marketing that goes along with it — it's not really medically designed.”
The strain study he's working on is analyzing more than 1,000 brands of cannabis sold at pot shops, Raber says. The science involved is called metabolomics and will look at metabolites, cannabinoids, turpenes and 42 other aspects of each sample, he says.
The pot expert plans to see the study published by next spring. He hopes that, in the end, the research will establish new guidelines for naming strains so that they're consistent from dispensary to dispensary and, more importantly, so that they actually mean something to the consumer.
You need a better classification system. We need a new naming system. We're at the forefront of being able to do that.