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CESC Looks to Cannabis “Culture” for Clues

Community-Designated Aroma Types Reveal Characteristic Constituents

What determines a good Cannabis plant? It’s clear that Cannabis names are arbitrarily assigned and the plants marketed without authentication.. On November 22, 2021, the CESC, a California-based Cannabis research organization will publish its journey into the characterization of Cannabis flowers in Recent Advances in the Science of Cannabis. This soon to be released book describes progress in a variety of significant areas of Cannabis science. The second chapter takes the reader through the CESC’s analysis of community-derived Cannabis cultivars. Along the way, the chapter reveals observations of a prominent culture of Cannabis users. It concludes with an association between plant cannabinoids, terpenes, and their potential effects.

About five years ago, the CESC began an effort to identify characteristic anticipated effects of Cannabis. The use of arbitrary names to distinguish plant types is less than satisfactory. Implications from names like “Sativa”, “Indica”, or “Hybrid” to identify plant types that cause different effects is puzzling . Traditional farmers describe the attributes of flowered Cannabis by appearance, size, density, flavor, and aroma. They are accustomed to using these rudimentary parameters to haggle over market prices. Cannabis farm, Ladybug Herbal Sanctuary, owner AnnaBryn Simkowitz-Rogers excitedly points to a cured Cannabis flower under a microscope and exclaims. “Look at all those trichomes! They sparkle like diamonds!”

Magnified Image of Cannabis Flower

AnnaBryn is well aware that the appearance of her crop will bring a higher price. The farmer caresses one of the plant's flower tops in her hand and takes a deep breath. She smiles. Its aroma signals additional qualities that will bring value. California state regulations require THC and CBD potency, microbial, and pesticide testing as measures of safety. These additional parameters have already changed how Cannabis is valued. Meanwhile, there remains a lack of knowledge on whether these attributes correlate to an anticipated effect. The CESC has embarked on an endeavor to solve that problem.

Since 2015, the CESC has focused its research on community produced and accessible Cannabis. “Cannabis grown by the government for study has about half the amount of THC of the plants accessible to the community,” explains CESC co-founder John S. Abrams Ph.D.. “They are not a good model for what’s actually being used.” Dr. Abrams proposes that the quickest path to defining safe and effective Cannabis products is by collecting real world data. After six short years of data collection, the CESC has developed an analytical algorithm that classifies Cannabis used in the community. “The real world classifications that we’ve developed gives us a better chance of correlating the use of different Cannabis types to both anticipated and unanticipated effects,” states Jean Talleyrand, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at the CESC. “As the general use of Cannabis increases, this is critical for the health and safety of the public.” Due to regulatory hurdles, most government and University research is unable to source Cannabis products used by the general public. The CESC, as a private non-profit, is bridging this gap in scientific knowledge.

The CESC’s journey began in Humboldt County, California, where, throughout prohibition, communities persisted with Cannabis cultivation and use. Today’s Cannabis industry originates from these clandestine grow operations among twisted mountain roads and dense redwood forests of northern coastal California. After more than eighty years of prohibition, the Cannabis industry is primed for growth and maturation. In 2020, California generated $4.4 billion in legal Cannabis sales. California licensed Cannabis farmers no longer hide their occupation from the Department of Justice and Campaign Against Marijuana Plants (CAMP), the multi-agency marijuana eradication task force. Although CAMP is still in existence, its efforts focus on illegal Cannabis growing. On the other hand, legal farmers openly discuss and display cultivation practices and techniques that produce Cannabis for the largest market in the world.

In the autumn of 2015, a group of northern California Cannabis farmers held a competition for the best products that year. The Golden Tarp Awards classified Cannabis flowers by aroma, adding appearance, size, density, and flavor to distinguish the best. Local nursery owner, Kevin Jodry, explains why aroma was chosen as the principal component for classification. “Flowers [Cannabis] that have a pungent fuel-like aroma are preferred by people in pain or those dealing with opiate withdrawal.” A floral or pine-like aroma identifies another class of competition flower. This second type is believed to induce an energetic or uplifting effect. The CESC suggests that this aroma dichotomy unveils chemical profiles that correlate with two distinct effects. Essentially, the trial and error practices of a Cannabis prevalent culture reveals clues to an association between cultivar types and specific effects. The results of this analysis will change the landscape of how Cannabis is valued and sold to consumers.

Recent Advances in the Science of Cannabis will be published by Routledge - CRCPress. The CESC’s chapter, titled “Aroma in Cannabis: A Foundation for Chemotype Classification '', discusses CESC’s analysis of the Golden Tarp Awards and other laboratory data sets. Overall, this publication is a guide to emerging modern Cannabis technology. Building upon pioneering studies of terpene and cannabinoid chemistry, this volume describes current best practices, technological breakthroughs and historical context. The book provides an important discussion on topics that are informative to Cannabis science and its relevant products. Editors Robert Strongin, Jiries Meehan-Atrash and Monica Valprando do an excellent job ensuring topics are well presented and scientifically vetted. Pre-orders of the book are available online.


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