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November 2010



What’s in Your Weed? (Updated)

Update: I received a very nice note from Rose Eveleth, the Editor in Chief of Scienceline:

Just popping in to explain what happened to the post. Scienceline is a project of the NYU School of Journalism’s SHERP program. It’s completely run by the students, and we just had our official changeover from last year’s class to this year’s class, and in that changeover there was some confusion about the process for posting. We have a system that stories go through before they go up, and the story went up before the last round of copy editing (the final check for grammatical errors) had been done, so I spoke with Sarah (the fabulous author) and we agreed to take it down, have it officially copy edited, and then put it back up. Sorry for any confusion this might have caused.

We’ve posted the story again here:

Kudos to Scienceline and Rose for being so helpful, and for the excellent article.


There was an interesting article yesterday at NYU’s Scienceline called “What’s in Your Weed?”

The original address was but that page is no longer available.

Basically, the article discussed the notion of the importance of CBD’s to the positive value of marijuana — an issue I’ve been very interested in seeing researched further. Unfortunately, criminalization has meant that the content of marijuana has been pushed toward higher THC without regard to CBD’s and their value.

The article reported on a recent study by Valerie Curran that compared marijuana users based on the content of their pot.

It turned out the kids smoking weed containing lots of the chemical cannabidiol (CBD) could remember details of the story just as well stoned as sober. Meanwhile, those smoking the low-CBD marijuana fit the stereotype of the forgetful pothead.

The findings fit into a growing library of data demonstrating the possible health benefits of CBD, which is naturally found in marijuana. CBD appears to fend off cancerous tumors, prevent diabetes and epileptic seizures, and protect nerve cells from degradation. It doesn’t combat the effects of THC, the ingredient in marijuana that causes a “high,” and can even prevent anxiety.

I don’t know why the article is no longer there, and I’ve written them to ask. Perhaps there was some item that they wanted to research further before printing.

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23 comments to What’s in Your Weed? (Updated)

  • DdC

    What’s in Your Marijuana? Some Pot Doesn’t Rot Your Memory
    By Maia Szalavitz, TIME – Monday, October 4 2010

    includes the article Non-Psychoactive Pot?
    by Fred Gardner, Counterpunch

    Are You Cannabis Deficient?

    Neurophysiological and cognitive effects of smoked marijuana in frequent users.
    Hart CL, Ilan AB, Gevins A, Gunderson EW, Role K, Colley J, Foltin RW.
    Overall performance accuracy was not significantly altered by marijuana,

  • kant

    I honestly disagree with the idea that presence of cbd has dropped in weed. The main reason i disagree is because when labs test cannabis they rarely test to distinguish between cannabinoids when it’s much simpler and cheaper to just test for the presence (also police and federal agencies don’t care about the potency/ratios but just the presence). For that reason there’s little data archived much less data collected over many years documenting the ratios of thc and cbd.

    Also as i understand the main difference between sativa and indica is the amounts of thc and cbd. sativa having a higher thc to cbd ratio (when compared to indica) and indica having a lower thc to cbd ratio. Although I should point out that thc is most prevalent in both categories of cannabis.

    I point this out because indica tend to be more popular with indoor grows because of the structure of the plant. Indica plants tend to be shorter and bushier which is a valuable trait when space is limited. Given the ever increasing “crackdowns” on cannabis it’s not surprising that at lot of grows are moving indoors.

    So while i’m not saying that the idea that cbd is being thrown by the wayside is wrong, I am saying that i’m very skeptical about that idea.

  • darkcycle

    In addition to D9THC and CBN, there’s CBD, THCV, THC in various other molecular configurations (“deltas”), and hundreds of other terpines (aromatic compounds) present in pot. Most of which have been poorly researched due to the bans imposed by the government. Some have yet to be identified. Different varieties present different profiles (or ratios) of terpines, and there is additional variance between the profiles of Sativas v. Indicas. So it’s way too simplistic to simply state Indicas are higher in CBN and the difference ends there.
    Since the advent of medical marijuana in particular there has been an explosion of labs offering testing. For molds, pesticides and other potential pathogens, as well as potency and cannabinoid profiles. So the data, though mostly young, is coming in. Also, Dr. Michoulam (did I get that right?)has been doing research in Isreal along these lines, so we will no doubt see more stuff soon.

  • Cannabis

    The Internet never forgets: check out the Google cache.

  • darkcycle

    I love it when some fool thinks they can just make something they posted “go away”. The internet is like a big, giant swimmingpool, and if you pee in it, the only way to get it out is to drain the whole damn pool.
    Trying to take it down like that just makes you look bad.

  • BMB

    standardization cannot be achieved on the black market

    As a non buyer and seller, I had no idea that a gram of marijuana is not a standard gram or that an ounce is not a standard ounce.

    Rather than making provably false statements why can’t Angell and Armentano just say that black market lots are not as homogeneous as one would expect in a government-regulated environment? Or, that there’s no commercially-available test kit to sample lots?

    Point made and the truth survives another day.

  • BMB

    I guess there are commercially-available test kits which makes the “standardization is impossible” pronouncement even more strange.

  • darkcycle

    4:20, Left-Coast time.

  • DdC


    Cannabinoids Produced in The Human Body
    Endocannabinoids seem to play an important role in regulating inflammation processes. Scientists from the University of Bonn have discovered this in experiments on mice. Their results will be published in the distinguished scientific journal Science on Friday, 8 June. The study may also have implications for therapy. In animal experiments, a solution with an important component made from cannabis reduced allergic reactions of the skin.

    Research Reveals Cannabinoids Show Promise

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Smokee, Seb Grant. Seb Grant said: What's in Your Weed? […]

  • claygooding

    HMMMMMMM,lets just twist it up and put the burn test on it.

  • Duncan20903

    kant, Harborside Health Center in Oakland and San Jose tests all their cannabis as well as numerous seed vendors and it’s well established that the CBD has been bred out of US cannabis. There’s also the reality that there’s no such thing as a high CBD/high THC cannabis plant, it just isn’t genetically possible. High CBD/low THC, High THC/low CBD, medium CBD/medium THC those are your choices. If you got 20% THC you have less than 1% CBD, no two ways about it.

    Take a look at Harborsides numbers, you’ll see you are mistaken.

    Yet another nail in the coffin of the propaganda that medical users just want to get high. I think we may need to cut off its head and bury it separately though, it doesn’t seem the nails are keeping it in there.

  • kant


    I never actually said “high thc and high cbd” that claim was made in the article.

    Could you link me to this well established trend? because as I looked through the link you provided the only statement I could find was:

    All medicinal cannabis products accepted for distribution to Harborside Health Center in San Jose will be lab tested for safety and potency. For the first time in the 3000-year history of human marijuana consumption, consumers will be provided a scientific assessment of the safety and potency of cannabis products prior to ingesting them.

    which suggests they’re just starting to do it. In fact the following paragraphs sounds like they’re just starting to establish a system of testing.

    I have no doubt there are dispensaries and labs that test to distinguish between the cannabinoids. What I doubt is that there is ample documentation of the distinction when analyzing potency. Much less the documentation over many years to infer a change or trend.

    If you have such documentation, please link me to it.

  • TrebleBass

    Even if there are no high thc/high cbd plants, one could always just buy some high cbd/low thc stuff and mix it up with the high thc/low cbd weed. Hemp, i’ve heard (but am not sure), is high cbd/low thc, so maybe coffeshops and dispensaries could also sell hemp. Also, the male plant might have a lot of cbd (i’ve no idea though). I’ve always wondered what smoking (or otherwise consuming) high cbd/low thc would feel like (i know it’s not supposed to get you high, but maybe it reduces anxiety and helps you cognitively). Also, it seems it’s a treatment for psychosis:

    from wikipedia:
    “Studies have shown that CBD may reduce schizophrenic symptoms in patients, likely due to their apparent ability to stabilize disrupted or disabled NDMA receptor pathways in the brain, which are shared and sometimes contested by norepinephrine and GABA.[6][12] Leweke et al. performed a double blind, 4 week, explorative controlled clinical trial to compare the effects of purified cannabidiol and the atypical antipsychotic amisulpride on improving the symptoms of schizophrenia in 42 patients with acute paranoid schizophrenia. Both treatments were associated with a significant decrease of psychotic symptoms after 2 and 4 weeks as assessed by Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale and Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. While there was no statistical difference between the two treatment groups, cannabidiol induced significantly less side effects (extrapyramidal symptoms, increase in prolactin, weight gain) when compared to amisulpride.”

  • Duncan20903

    Well yeah I could go out and find the info, compile it, bring it back here and spoon feed it to you. Heck, I can package it up and email it to you. I’m also a darn cheap date as far as my consultant’s fee, which would only be $100 per hour. Heck there’s guys with less than a 1/10th the interest in the subject and not many with more than 33 years of experience that would charge you $300 an hour and bill you for 3x the number of hours because they have to figure out where to look while I probably have the sites in my browsers memory.

    As an alternative you could go to the starting point I’ve already given you for free and figure out the rest, well, just like the $300 an hour guys would, absolutely free in dollars. Of course time and effort is very much a cost, it’s just a non-cash expense. If you find yourself stymied I’m sure I’d be inclined to give you a point6 in the right direction for no charge, as I really am utterly fascinated and I am obsessed to the point of madness with the subject.

    I always find those who aren’t obsesed with the same subjects that point out that I have ‘no life’ amusing. One day when my obsession found me deplaning in Oakland I met a man on the shuttle to the Hotel decked out from head to toe in Boston Red Sox paraphernalia as well as other related hand held Red Sox stuff. Being a natural born smart ass* I told the fellow I had some bad news, but that he’d gotten on the wrong plane and ended up in California by mistake. Silly me, he informed me that the Red Sox had a series of matches against the Athletics and that he spent his life following the Red Sox from town to town. From observing his facial expressions I think he was expecting me to denigrate him rather than acknowledge him as a kindred spirit. That might have been transference as it’s what I’d have expected had the roles been reversed. But heck, I flew into town following my passion, and he flew into town to following his. Who am I to say his is less important in the scheme of things just because I regard watching baseball matches as a total and utter waste of my time? That’s a waste of my time, not his, which is where most people who don’t follow a passion demonstrate their complete lack of understanding. It’s not that I have no life, it’s that I don’t have their life. Thanks anyway, but their life would also be a waste of mine.

    Oh, and just FYI there are a few things more important in life to me than cannabis. Not many, few and far between, but I wouldn’t be flying to California if I had never met my wife or could talk her into moving there, I’d live there. Heck, I’m even a displaced California native, born at Oakland Alameda Naval Hospital (closed), kidnapped and carried to DC when I was 2 1/2 and forced to grow up in Falls Church VA. But it’s difficult to press charges against your parents when they’re acting in concert, and I did meet my wife here.

    * Better a smart ass than a dumb ass, that’s my motto.

  • Duncan20903

    Hey, I was redirected here from

    Pete you’re one step from the big time. Soon both the demopublicans* and republitards will condemn you as a menace to the community, and it won’t be long before you have black helicopters hovering over your house, and men wearing black suits and dark sunglasses that drive Suburbans parked on your street! (It’s the hovering, not the flying over that’s cause for concern. Black helicopters fly over my house several times a day, every day of the year. I guess it might alarm me if I didn’t know that I live under an established helicopter route and that’s it’s the route to Andrews Air Force base from points west. That’s where they hangar the DoD helicopters around here. Really, they’re just using the beltway to know where they’re going. No, the helicopters are not all painted black, but Mick has had his way with a large percentage.)

    *(spell check suggests Republicans, LOLOL)

    The deleted article is in Google cache if anyone is interested.

    Pete’s got the text verbatim in his post, but you can verify that he didn’t make it up and see the man holding a burning joint as if it were a turd.

  • Duncan20903

    Treble Bass, such a blend would result in medium/medium, think about it.

    There is no high CBD cannabis or cannabis seeds available in the US. I can buy high THC from a seed vendor and have them in hand in less than 2 weeks, in less than a week if I order from my favorite seed vendor What Harborside calls ‘high’ CBD is actually medium and they can’t keep it in stock. It’s very frustrating, but you see high CBD varieties just don’t get you high. There are high CBD seeds available in Canada. They’re bought by the people that grow industrial hemp. The hemp growers are investigating how to take advantage of the incremental profit center of extracting CBD from the stuff that they currently dispose of. In recent weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that if I want high CBD seeds I’m going to have to travel to Canada, and pull a Thomas Jefferson and smuggle them back into the US. Yes, Mr. Jefferson traveled to China and smuggled seeds back. He was actually smuuggling them out of China, it was they who would have executed him were he caught. Those rascally Founding Fathers certainly had a habit of committing capital crimes. Now you know I’d really like to find the source of Mr. Jefferson’s alleged quote “Some of my finest hours have been spent on the back of my veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as the eye can see.” That one I can only find posted by potheads. Lincoln really did write the Hohner people and said he enjoyed smoking “sweet” hemp but I can’t verify that he would have referred to cannabis as anything other than “Indian” hemp. There were several different plants that have been called hemp, which is why the historical people referred to it as “Indian” hemp. It’s actually still the phrase used in some parts of the world today. There’s no doubt that George Washington grew for potency at Mount Vernon, but no supporting evidence that it was for getting high. Back in that day there was a significant retail trade in cannabis tincture sold at the apothecaries for medical purposes and he may have been supplying that trade. But there’s no other reason except potency to separate the males from the females. But growing for medicine or growing for getting high use the same procedure so it’s a leap of wishful thinking to believe that General Washington enjoyed getting high because he grew for potency. Claims like this need iron clad proof before the Know Nothings will accept their veracity, and even in its presence that’s not guaranteed. So to me leaps of wishful thinking or repeating undocumented claims like Jefferson saying that he enjoyed cannabis are counterproductive because without proof the Know Nothings simply scoff and summarily dismiss the claims. Frankly I don’t give a flip if General Washington, Messrs. Jefferson & Lincoln John Wayne, Dorothy Lamour, or the Unholy Four were all were into wake and bake 24/7/365 for any reason other than further effort to demonstrate that potheads aren’t the lazy idiots that the Know Nothings claim. That would practically require video of them smoking pot with Cheech & Chong with the level of proof we’re required to supply to change minds.I sure don’t enjoy cannabis because The Founding Fathers got high. It’s also very unlikely that they smoked it even if they did. People used edibles up until the 20th century, and it’s popularity has more to do with black market economics as it is the least expensive delivery method. Well at least previous to the advent of vaporization. Tobacco smoking caught on because spittoons were disgusting beyond belief and there’s no such thing as edibles nicotine because it can easily kill you if you eat it. I’ll bet you didn’t know that every year that there’s a few hundred toddlers that pass away after eating cigarettes. My observation from a totally too small sample to draw any conclusions from that it’s more frequently butts from ash trays than whole cigarettes. That would sure support the theory that toddlers will eat any fucking thing that they can fit in their mouth. Mom & Dad, please don’t forget to flush after taking that dump or you might find junior is coprophagous. After consideration of these things I think it’s train wreck amusing when the Know Nothings find a chilled wren that ate some cannabis and start squealing like stuck pigs (more wishful thinking there). Shit they drove one poor grandmother in Denver to suicide last year because the poor woman’s grandson ate some cannabis cookies she left where he could get them just about a year ago. The youngster slept for a long time and probably woke up happy as a clam. The screeching and gnashing of teeth along with claims that it proved medical cannabis is a scam is just so utterly out of touch with reality that it’s mind boggling.

  • Hello all,

    Just popping in to explain what happened to the post. Scienceline is a project of the NYU School of Journalism’s SHERP program. It’s completely run by the students, and we just had our official changeover from last year’s class to this year’s class, and in that changeover there was some confusion about the process for posting. We have a system that stories go through before they go up, and the story went up before the last round of copy editing (the final check for grammatical errors) had been done, so I spoke with Sarah (the fabulous author) and we agreed to take it down, have it officially copy edited, and then put it back up. Sorry for any confusion this might have caused.

    We’ve posted the story again here:

    Feel free to email if you have any additional questions.

    Rose Eveleth
    Editor in Chief

  • kant


    As an alternative you could go to the starting point I’ve already given you for free and figure out the rest, well, just like the $300 an hour guys would, absolutely free in dollars. Of course time and effort is very much a cost, it’s just a non-cash expense. If you find yourself stymied I’m sure I’d be inclined to give you a point6 in the right direction for no charge, as I really am utterly fascinated and I am obsessed to the point of madness with the subject.

    yes I could but then again it’s not incumbent on me to find evidence for your claim. It’s incumbent on me to provide evidence of my claim. that’s how debate works.

    That having been said yes I will look it up some time but the link that you posted made no reference of a documented trend. Only that they will start testing and documenting. Which is certainly a good thing but it’s says nothing of how things were or how things have changed.

  • Duncan20903

    @Rose says: If you can’t lick ’em with logic, baffle them with bullshit. IMO Pete was much too polite with you. His bullshit detector must be in the shop for repairs.

    kant, I find these things out for my benefit. I’m the only person I need to convince that what I post is factual. While I do appreciate people pointing out when I’ve made a mistake even if only a fantasy in their minds because I do prefer to be correct because of my damn truth fetish, I’m not prosecuting a court case. But I’m not posting any “claims” here or asking anyone to believe me without verifying the facts for themselves. That means you do the verification, not me. Well unless you pay me for doing the work or I have some interest in spending my time helping you to not be mistaken. You can wallow in ignorance. Perhaps you’ve confused me with someone who gives a shit.

    On the other hand I’m obsessed, driven, and encumbered with a serious truth fetish particularly with regard to the instant subject. You’re not going to find many people with a better overall knowledge of any and all facts and arcana concerning cannabis than me. I think that only the only person here with more knowledge of the subject than myself is DdC (others wait a second before you drop dead from shock!) but he’s the kind of guy who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing as well as being looney as a toon. Chris Conrad comes to mind as another person with superior knowledge on this particular subject.

    Feel free to believe whatever bullshit floats your boat. It isn’t in my job description to fix the ignorance of 6.9 billion people or even just those that cross my path by happenstance. I’m a wannabe novelist with a passion for blathering and unfortunately for Pete seem to be finding great interest in blathering on his blog. But really that’s a small price to pay for being on the verge of having significant recognition. For example, I could have boiled this particular screed down to three words but preferred to carry on for a several hundred.

    kant have a great holiday weekend! Remember to be grateful for living in the greatingest country on this planet.

    Does anyone really think Rose would have shown up in person if DWR had no or minimal significance? Pete may have been single handedly responsible for getting this article reinstated on the website. Didn’t run the spellcheck one last time. Yeah, I believe in Sanity Clause as well.

    (PS Holidays always make me pissy.)

  • TrebleBass

    Duncan, yeah your’re right it would be a medium/medium. But i’ve kept thinking about it and i’ve thought it would still be helpful because you could actively play with the ratios. CBD seems extremely promising to me; it’s an antipsychotic that doesn’t block the action of dopamine and serotonin like the ones being prescribed today. What it does is it regulates it (that’s my notion of it anyway). The endocannabinoid system is the only system found so far in the brain that operates from the dendrites to the axons and not the other way around. Every neurotransmitter is regulated by endocannabinoids, but apparently (telling form the inverse functions of cbd and thc), they can regulate them in very different ways. Maybe cbd isn’t just good for combining with thc; it might be an undiscovered wonder tool in the use of powerful psychedelics (which are also being researched for their psychiatric potential). It’s an anxiolytic/antipsychotic which apparently doesn’t interfere with a trip. That’s practically the holy grail of psychedelics. Psychedelics users have always found cannabis helpful to use in combination, but how many of them have really had access to high cbd strains (at least in modern times)? Who knows how well it might work to smooth out trips?

  • Hope

    Duncan, “…he’s the kind of guy who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

    You missed him on that judgment.