I wasn’t always this way. I didn’t always care so much about what was in my cannabis.
When I first started using cannabis, in my teens, knowing what was in it wasn’t even an option.
What I did know, from the very first time I tried it, is that it helped me. There, in the middle of the woods – for the first time in my life – I was able to actually relax. From then on, I always made sure I stayed relatively close to a connection so I could access it.
Through the years I found that cannabis relieved symptoms from my c-PTSD, Celiac, as well as offered relief from debilitating visual migraines. If I was accidentally ‘glutened’, cannabis would help with the gut pain. It eased the frequency of my migraines, and made them more bearable when they did happen.
I watched it help people I knew, too – with a variety of issues.
As a patient in California in the 2000’s, As I was exposed to curated cannabis, I could see how different strains impacted the different medical issues I was trying to address. It was noticeable to me that some strains worsened some of my psychological symptoms, just as it was readily apparent when others solved physical issues.
I wanted to know how to make cannabis work better for me, so I did what any data analyst would and I began to track data about the strains I was consuming. Most of this information was sourced from the label, but sometimes I’d look up information online and add it into my cannabis journal. Since THC and CBD were the most prevalent things listed, I wanted to understand how they impacted my experience. To do that meant I’d have to understand what the number itself even meant.
The more I read, the more troubled I became with what I found.
I found that there was not appropriate regulation to ensure that THC and CBD potency numbers were accurate, and I suspected that the same troubling lack of regulation reached into pesticides, mold, and other testing as well. I was also surprised to learn that where I lived, Oregon, revered for its thoughtful regulations, didn’t even test for heavy metals!
I became disturbed about just how lax the labeling and testing laws were in all the states where cannabis is legal. I began to suspect that very little on the label was usable or accurate information for the consumer – either as a patient or recreationally.
I contacted labs, dispensaries, farms, and regulators to get a better grasp on the situation. The answers I uncovered showed me how ineffective our regulations are at protecting consumers and businesses. I saw evidence of farms and producers chasing higher THC levels because it increased revenue. I heard accusations of labs helping them.
Through what’s been called “lab shopping” producers and testers were misrepresenting THC levels to command higher prices. Consumers were being cheated, and cannabis businesses that were following the rules were laying off staff, or going out of business.
That THC had been ‘gamed’ beyond usefulness was an ‘open secret’ in the industry.
A recent recall in Oregon stated that pesticides had made it to the shelf. While the state was treating this as a one-off situation, prior recalls and everything I knew about the cannabis and hemp lab situation made it clear to me that something needed to be done to keep consumers updated.
Right now, the legal market isn’t living up to its promises to usher in safety and support small businesses as well as I know they can.
That’s why I started writing about this, and that’s why I launched this site.
Consumers should know what’s in the products they buy. Bad business actors should be held accountable. Regulators should do more to enforce safety and provide transparency.
By shining a spotlight on these issues here, I hope to help make those things happen.