LAS VEGAS, Oct. 5, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Cindy Orser, PhD, Chief Science Officer of DigiPath Labs, the cannabis testing subsidiary of DigiPath, Inc. (OTCQB: DIGP), recently gave a presentation before Washington, DC, Attorney General Karl A. Racine and others in charge of the District's medical cannabis program on the issues of synthetic cannabis, identifying cannabis strains, and the need for testing standardization. Dr. Orser was one of the representatives of the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production, which subsequently signed an agreement with Attorney General Racine to combat the dangers posed by synthetic drugs that many falsely assume are no more harmful than cannabis.
"The use of these synthetic drugs has become a national problem in need of a national response by a coalition of concerned agencies, organizations and states," stated Racine. "The manufacturers, distributors and sellers of these harmful synthetic drugs say the substances being peddled are a safe and legal alternative to marijuana. Synthetic drugs are neither safe nor legal, and often include mysterious chemical compounds that present a range of potentially devastating side effects to users, from severe mental impairment and seizures to violent impulses and death."
A recent survey of 100,000 cannabis users commissioned by the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production found that, although quality and safety were their top concerns regarding cannabis, 34 percent of respondents didn't know the legal status or dangers of synthetic cannabis.
In her presentation to representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, members of the City Council, staffers from Mayor Bowser's office, and the director of the District's medical marijuana program, Dr. Orser addressed the differences between cannabinoids found naturally in the cannabis plant (such as THC) and synthetic "cannabimimetics"—compounds that bind to the same receptors as THC but much more strongly, which leads to a much more powerful and unpredictable effect.
"The chemical composition of many of these products is unknown, it is likely that they also contain substances that could cause dramatically different effects," explained Dr. Orser. "Synthetic cannabimimetics do not degrade in the same way as naturally occurring or plant-based cannabinoids, and therefore persist for longer." Dr. Orser also noted that, unlike marijuana, synthetic cannabimimetics and their metabolic products are not routinely tested for in drug screens. She urged the development of protocols and techniques to test for these compounds.
"We stand with Attorney General Racine on this initiative because the public needs to know that synthetic drugs are not safe," stated Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production spokesman Fred Niehaus. "The Coalition wants to support responsible cannabis production standards and protocols in order to eliminate unscrupulous and illegal drug dealers."
In addition to the safety issues and lack of testing standards for synthetic cannabis, Dr. Orser spoke on the need for testing standardization and the alarming lack of strain consistency. While many cannabis users identify products by the strain name, Dr. Orser notes that strain name has almost nothing to do with genetic identity. In one study, samples were found to be more genetically similar to samples with different names than to samples with the same name. This is a result of amateur growers breeding strains over decades without proper technique.
"Until cannabis genetics comes up to speed, a better indicator of 'strain' is their resultant potency profile," Dr. Orser suggested. And that potency profile—as well as thorough safety testing—can only be reliably established with national standardized testing regulations governing batch size and sample size, testing frequency, sample preparation, certified reference standards, SOPs, instrumentation, proficiency testing and accreditation, and acceptable levels of contaminants, microtoxins, and agricultural byproducts.
"Users cannot determine the safety of their cannabis products without reliable, replicable test results," explains Dr. Orser. "It's time for a uniform standard for cannabis testing across the nation."
For more information about DigiPath Labs, go to http://digipathlabs.com/.
About DigiPath, Inc. (OTCQB: DIGP)
DigiPath, Inc., supports the cannabis industry's best practices for reliable testing, education, and training, and brings unbiased cannabis news coverage to the nation. DigiPath's three business units are DigiPath Labs, TNM News Corp., and DigiPath Corp.
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