THC amounts identical in most cannabis strains, study finds

October 10, 2018 by Patty Wellborn, University of British Columbia
THC amounts identical in most cannabis strains, UBC study finds
Susan Murch is a chemistry professor at UBC Okanagan. Credit: UBC Okanagan

A rose by any other name is still a rose. The same, it turns out, can be said for cannabis.

Newly published research from UBC's Okanagan campus has determined that many strains of cannabis have virtually identical levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), despite their unique street names.

"It is estimated that there are several hundred or perhaps thousands of strains of cannabis currently being cultivated," says Professor Susan Murch, who teaches chemistry at UBC Okanagan. "We wanted to know how different they truly are, given the variety of unique and exotic names."

Cannabis breeders have historically selected strains to produce THC, CBD or both, she explains. But the growers have had limited access to different types of plants and there are few records of the parentage of different strains.

"People have had informal breeding programs for a long time," Murch says. "In a structured program we would keep track of the lineage, such as where the parent plants came from and their characteristics. With unstructured breeding, which is the current norm, particular plants were picked for some characteristic and then given a new name."

Until now, the chemical breakdown of many strains has been unknown because of informal breeding.

Elizabeth Mudge, a doctoral student working with Murch and Paula Brown, Canada Research Chair in Phytoanalytics at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, examined the cannabinoid—a class of chemical compounds that include THC and CBD—profiles of 33 strains of cannabis from five licensed producers.

The research shows that most strains, regardless of their origin or name, had the same amount of THC and CBD. They further discovered that breeding highly potent strains of cannabis impacts the genetic diversity within the crop, but not THC or CBD levels.

However, Mudge says that they found differences in a number of previously unknown cannabinoids—and these newly discovered compounds, present in low quantities, could be related to pharmacological effects and serve as a source of new medicines.

"A high abundance compound in a plant, such as THC or CBD, isn't necessarily responsible for the unique medicinal effects of certain strains," says Mudge. "Understanding the presence of the low abundance cannabinoids could provide valuable information to the medical cannabis community."

Currently licensed producers are only required to report THC and CBD values. But Murch says her new research highlights that the important distinguishing chemicals in cannabis are not necessarily being analysed and may not be fully identified.

Murch says while patients are using for a variety of reasons, they actually have very little information on how to base their product choice. This research is a first step towards establishing an alternative approach to classifying medical and providing consumers with better information.

Murch's research was recently published in Nature's Scientific Reports.

Explore further: What you need to know about CBD oil

More information: E. M. Mudge et al. Chemometric Analysis of Cannabinoids: Chemotaxonomy and Domestication Syndrome, Scientific Reports (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-31120-2

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Eikka
2.7 / 5 (14) Oct 10, 2018
they actually have very little information on how to base their product choice


Cannabis is the modern snake oil, fit for every ailment, understood by few, advocated by many because it gets them high, which alleviates some of the symptoms they're having while producing a host of other problems.

Kinda like laudanum, which was a tincture of all the different alkaloids you could squeeze out of poppies before they really understood what the stuff was, leading to widespread opioid addiction in the 19th century.

szore88
4.5 / 5 (8) Oct 10, 2018
Why is this illegal, anyway?
Parsec
3 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2018
I used to be a frequent user of cannabis until I came down with "thc toxicity syndrome". I just kept vomiting every single day. Stopped smoking and it went completely away.
ddaye
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 10, 2018
Cannabis is the modern snake oil ... Kinda like laudanum
How alike are their lethal dose levels, for instance?
Phyllis Harmonic
4.6 / 5 (10) Oct 10, 2018
It's legal where I live and every strain is lab-tested by law. THC and CBD values are printed on the labels. There are strains with THC at 5% on the low end and 30% on the high end (oh, nice pun, Phyllis!) The difference in effect is very obvious. Saying that THC concentrations are very similar between strains, strains credulity.

And, what is it with people and their false equivalences? And their incessant virtue signalling? Every time a pot article is posted, the same pearl-clutchers show up to do their best Reefer Madness enactments.
Maskelyne
5 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2018
While legal cannabis here in Washington state tends to center around 20% THC, the amount of CBD can vary considerably. Most strains, to be sure, have very little CBD, though. I am surprised that this article says nothing about terpenes. These compounds have long been recognized as having mildly psychoactive effects, and appear to be the reason why some strains are stimulating while others are sedative.
Thorium Boy
1.2 / 5 (10) Oct 11, 2018
Dope users are imbeciles. Or slowly become imbeciles. Unlike alcohol, which can be enjoyed solely for taste in moderation, dope's single-purpose is to make people high. Dope users typically use at any time of day, whereas non-alcoholic alcohol users don't start off imbibing before breakfast. Alcohol, unlike pot, also doesn't damage your brain if you drink young unless you are a chronic abuser. Pot is nothing more than this century's version of cheap gin, something that ruined the lives or killed thousands of 19th century poor people.
Phyllis Harmonic
4.7 / 5 (11) Oct 11, 2018
Dope users are imbeciles.


Virtue signalers are insufferable twits.
danR
3.8 / 5 (5) Oct 11, 2018
Dope users are imbeciles.


Virtue signalers


Semantically bleached buzzwords and phrases need to be retired.
danR
5 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2018
Saying that THC concentrations are very similar between strains, strains credulity.

Phyllis, Maskelyne

You have to go to the original study to see how misleadingly the above article has been written. It's not the actual instances of individual strains/products being sold and labeled with their respective required assays that's in focus, but comparisons of 5 central strains into which they are grouped.

That's from a cursory reading of the paper, however; everyone should spend a few minutes looking at it and see if I have the general gist.

Eikka
1 / 5 (3) Oct 11, 2018
Cannabis is the modern snake oil ... Kinda like laudanum
How alike are their lethal dose levels, for instance?


Depends on what's the LD-50 of chronic stupidity.
Eikka
2 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2018
The fact that you can't directly die of overdose doesn't make it any less of a sham treatment.

One of the hallmarks of a snake-oil drug is that you have to keep taking it as a "diet", because it doesn't actually help with the ailments you're having, just makes you feel nice or forget your problems while you're high.

People kept taking laudanum for the short-term relief they got from symptoms of chronic infections of the lungs and bowels. It made them no better, but it got them high and addicted, physically and psychologically, and provided the excuse for prescribing more laudanum. Laudanum for sore gum, hair loss, "melancholy", crying children...

You see the same effect with people pushing cannabis for everything from cancer to in-grown toenails. It's great for everything and bad for nothing, at least if you ask the people who "self-medicate". The excuses extend: cannabis seeds are "superfood", hemp cloth is the best, hemp paper is superior to wood fiber... etc.

Phyllis Harmonic
5 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2018
Dope users are imbeciles.


Virtue signalers


Semantically bleached buzzwords and phrases need to be retired.


What really needs to be retired are linguistic prescriptivists.
IwinUlose
5 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2018
Alcohol, unlike pot, also doesn't damage your brain if you drink young unless you are a chronic abuser.

Ethyl Alcohol, will in fact cause brain damage in any quantity over 0, along with damage to damn near every vital system in your body. Dilute it as much as you want, that is still the compound at work in your gut and bloodstream. The worst part is, many don't even seem to perceive their own cognitive decline as they are trapped inside of it.

Ironically, the very genes that protect some people from alcoholism may magnify their vulnerability to alcohol-related cancers.

https://pubs.niaa...aa72.htm
http://www.scienc...=9923956
https://en.wikipe.../Ethanol
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2018
Meh, I buy my stuff legally and it's assayed and the title of the article is a lie. My stuff would knock you down but good luck getting it until they make it legal in your area.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2018
they actually have very little information on how to base their product choice


Cannabis is the modern snake oil, fit for every ailment, understood by few, advocated by many because it gets them high, which alleviates some of the symptoms they're having while producing a host of other problems.

Kinda like laudanum, which was a tincture of all the different alkaloids you could squeeze out of poppies before they really understood what the stuff was, leading to widespread opioid addiction in the 19th century.


My wife has crippling arthritis and uses high-CBD oils to alleviate it so she can do stuff like, you know, the dishes, the laundry, vacuuming, and that sort of thing. If if worked well enough she might be able to run a 10-key again. But no such luck.

You are so full of sxxt your eyes are brown. I hope you get painful azz cancer and they refuse to give you any pain meds.
IwinUlose
5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2018
..You see the same effect with people pushing cannabis for everything from cancer to in-grown toenails. It's great for everything and bad for nothing, at least if you ask the people who "self-medicate". The excuses extend: cannabis seeds are "superfood", hemp cloth is the best, hemp paper is superior to wood fiber... etc.


I think you might be conflating and obfuscating a bit. Equating cannabis with opium is a real stretch. If you've been ingesting opiates in any form quitting means withdrawals, and there is lasting damage to opioid receptor activity. Neither of those is true for cannabis. And under prescription by a doctor, there's a determined timetable for use and quitting that can be considered realistic, because you won't be shivering, sweating, and scratching until sores form for a week after.

That said you're right that there is so much homeopathic bullshit claimed by proponents and merchants, but that was always true about anything they have ever sold.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Oct 12, 2018
@Jose simple question.

What do you do for chronic pain? Tell them to get over it?

I'll be happy for you to tell my wife that. I'll hold you while she kicks you in the balls a few times.

A lot of times she won't take opiates for it because they mess up her mind and she makes mistakes. I hope if I ever hurt that bad I have that much courage. I sure will smoke pot to see if it helps.
IwinUlose
1 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2018
Guy you are not helping with the pro-cannabis arguments; not at all. Please re-read comments when you come down.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Oct 12, 2018
Guy I am pro-opiate and pro-opioid. And I am now dealing with a wife with chronic pain who can't get them. Because a bunch of azzholes just like you think there's something wrong with dealing with chronic pain in the 21st century and think it's OK to deal with people who have pain all the time by telling people "just deal with it." Maybe we could repeat the balls treatment every week for a year or so to give you the idea.

Maybe you wanna come down a bit yourself. Like off your fccking high horse.
IwinUlose
1 / 5 (2) Oct 13, 2018
Ok, he probably wants a snack and a nap anyway.

(Kids, getting animals high is a crime, and just a very trashy thing to do)

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