Tag Archives: cannabinoids

Cannabinoid testing and labelling is essential for consumer protection

In a jurisdiction where cannabis is prohibited by law there is little if any protection for consumers of cannabis or cannabis extracts. To protect people from contaminated cannabis products, quality control and the laboratory testing of cannabis and cannabinoid preparations is essential.

In an uncontrolled, unregulated market it is very common to find cannabis contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals, toxins and microorganisms. It is also quite common to find products containing mould spores, bacteria and fungus, these contaminants can have a detrimental effect on health, which can be compounded if people are using cannabis for medicinal purposes and they have a compromised immune system.

Producers of pharmaceuticals, food and drink products are strictly regulated and they are required to submit to third-party testing to verify the safety of their products, unfortunately, there is no basic level of safety or quality control under a decriminalised or prohibitive (cannabis) system.

As well as testing for contaminants the potency of cannabis products is also important to cannabis consumers. To protect the consumer and the general public a testing and labelling scheme for cannabis and cannabinoid preparations is required, imagine the chaos if alcohol was not tested and labelled accordingly, the effects of drinking a glass of vodka are very different to drinking a glass of beer.

As the cannabis market develops and matures so will the demand for cannabis concentrates and cannabis extractions.

Cannabinoids are extracted from cannabis plant material by the use of a solvent, butane, hexane, isopropyl alcohol and ethanol are commonly used to produce cannabis concentrates, however, unless the products are tested for solvent residues some of the solvent used in the extraction process can remain in the final product and some of these residues can be detrimental to health.

Cannabis cultivators and processors should have access to the following tests:

  • Microbiological test – testing for moulds, bacteria and fungi
  • Potency testing of cannabis flowers (cannabinoid profile)
  • Solvent residue testing
  • And ideally, terpenoid testing

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In Spain Bud Buddies have access to testing facilities, they use HPLC testing for all their cannabinoid extracts

All preparations are labelled.

 

 

 

one2one80-bb

This 1:1 extraction contains 39.5% THC and 37.8% CBD, total cannabinoid content 80.3%

The HPLC test shows that the extraction is fully decarboxylated and based on these results preparations with standardized doses can be produced.

Testing standards

There are two main types of testing, Gas Chromatography (GC) and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

Gas chromatography (GC) is a common type of chromatography used in analytical chemistry for analysing compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition. Typically, GC analysis is used to determine the purity of a substance, samples are converted to a gas and the gas is then analysed.

High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is another process used in analytical chemistry to separate, identify, and quantify the individual components in a mixture of compound, HPLC analysis is more suited to the testing of cannabis extractions and preparations than the plant material itself.

Cannabinoid Testing

Cannabinoids produced by the plant are in their natural acid state and to be bioavailable they require transforming from their acid form to a neutral form, this is achieved by the application of heat (or UV light), this process is called decarboxylation. For example, to make THC-acid effective it has to be converted from THC-a to THC, when you inhale cannabis via smoking or vaporisation THC-a is converted (by heat) from THC-a to THC.

However, if THC-a is orally ingested the acidic cannabinoids will remain in their original state and bioavailability will be greatly reduced s THC-a has a low affinity for CB1 receptors.

HPLC analysis allows us to identify the major cannabinoids present in both their acid and neutral forms, GC testing converts cannabinoid acids into cannabinoids so therefore is unsuitable for the testing of orally administered cannabinoid preparations. As HPLC testing does not use heat it can be used to identify and quantify both the acidic and neutral cannabinoids in a sample and this is our preferred testing method. We would require HPLC analysis for cannabinoid extractions, preparations and other products such as medibles, edibles and topicals.

The decision to use GC or HPLC testing will depend on the type or form of the sample and its end purpose.

 Terpene Testing

Terpenes are the chemical substances responsible for the aroma of cannabis and many express their own medicinal properties, e.g. anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and neuroprotective effects.

Common terpenes present in cannabis varieties are α-Pinene, β-Pinene, limonene, myrcene, linalool, and β-caryophyllene.

Microbiological Testing

Mould and bacteria exist everywhere and while not all forms are harmful, some microorganisms such as E. coli can be very dangerous.

High levels of microorganisms can be avoided by following good hygiene practises during the cultivation, processing and storage stages.

In Spain in 2014 our colleagues at Fundación CANNA at Valencia University carried out a study in cooperation with 31 Cannabis Social Clubs (CSC’s), over 50 individual samples of cannabis were analysed. The aim of the study was to identify and determine the microorganisms present and they were present in 80% of the samples analysed.

Some of the potentially pathogenic microorganisms that can be found in Cannabis:

Aspergillus genus, spores occur naturally in the environment and they develop rapidly in environments with high humidity levels, they can lead to the production of mycotoxins (aflatoxins) which are highly carcinogenic substances.

Their presence can lead to Aspergillosis, ill people with a compromised immune system can struggle with this fungus and its presence is especially dangerous to people with immunosuppressive disorders.

Penicillium genus, many people are allergic to penicillin.

Enterobacteriaceae, are normally found in soil and faeces and their presence is generally indicative of poor hygiene measures, cultivating with poorly formulated organic fertilisers can also result in contamination. Two enterobacteriaceaes which can be present in cannabis are E.coli and salmonella.

The spores of fungi are often inhaled during smoking and although some of the spores are destroyed (via incineration) the ones not subject to the source of combustion can easily reach the lungs. Cannabis that has not been correctly dried, cured or stored provides an ideal medium for the development of fungi.

Labelling

Cannabis bud (flowers) should be labelled with the following (minimum) information:

bud-labelStrain, name of producer, batch number, THC, CBD and CBN content, net weight.

With access to such information a cannabis consumer can estimate their cannabinoid intake, e.g. if a consumer uses half a gram (500 mgs) of this Blueberry haze in a joint then they can calculate that their joint will contain 83.5 mgs of THC (16.7% x 500 mgs)

canna-choc-labelled

In addition to the information required for labelling bud (flowers), there will also be a requirement to inform on dose per serving for edibles and medibles.

This chocolate bar contains 80 mgs of THC and comprises of 8 squares of chocolate, therefore the amount of THC per serving (or square) is 10 mgs.

 

Cannamol is a sublingually applied preparation containing both THC & CBD produced in Spain.

cananmol-labelLabels inform on the total amount per vial of active ingredients (THC & CBD) and per drop.

 

cannamol-label1All products have a batch number, 1ml = 20 drops.

 

Labelling is redundant if the consumer does not understand the information

greenly-los-angeles-cannabis-marijuana-delivery-orange-county-edibles-edipure-sour-gummi-bears-100mg-candy-main-960x960

There is also a need for a public education campaign to inform the public and cannabis consumers on how the information provided on the packaging should be interpreted.

In addition to educating the public on ‘safe practise’, labels should also carry prominent warnings regarding “Keep out of reach of children”

 

gummies

 

One of these Gummy Bears contains THC, but which one?

The one on the left contains 100 mgs of THC

 

 

imageCannabinoid testing kits are available:

Combining the straightforward diagnostic technique of thin-layer chromatography with specific thin-layers and developing fluid, the alpha-CAT test kit can identify six cannabinoids present in your plant material and their levels of concentration.

Each Regular Kit allows the user to conduct between 10 and 40 tests. This simple method enables anyone to expose the active cannabinoid profile in medicinal materials, regardless of your scientific understanding.   Order: Here

 

Cannabis oil treating Epilepsy, 173 years ago

William Brooke O’Shaughnessy

Everyday I read articles about scientific breakthroughs concerning the medical properties of cannabis, this morning I read an article on how CBD is “a wonder medicine for pediatric epilepsy’ and how Amylea Nunez, aged two months was the youngest patient to be prescribed cannabis oil. However, she is not the youngest and cannabis oil as a treatment in paediatric epilepsy is not a new discovery, it is merely a rediscovery.

You can read little Amylea’s amazing story: Infant Overcomes Seizures After Becoming Youngest Patient to Take Cannabis Oil

William_Brooke_O’Shaughnessy_1Dr WB O’Shaughnessy

In 1840, Victorian Doctors were treating people with extracts of cannabis for many illnesses, including tinctures for treating children with epilepsy.

One of my favourite pioneers was Dr William Brooke O’Shaughnessy MD, an irish physician, surgeon, Professor of chemistry, scientist and innovator, he was a pioneer of ‘intravenous therapy’ and he is the man credited with introducing cannabis to Western medicine.

O’Shaughnessy graduated in 1829 with a Medical Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. In 1831, at the young age of 22, he investigated cholera and his early work led to the development of intravenous fluid and electrolyte-replacement therapy.

In 1833, O’Shaughnessy moved to Calcutta, India to work for the British East India Company and during his time there he developed new cannabinoid extraction techniques which he used is preparations to treat patients suffering from, cholera, tetanus, analgesia, rheumatism and epilepsy in infants.

In India, he initially studied botanical pharmacology and chemistry, publishing his first paper on medical cannabis in 1839.

In his paper “On the preparations of the Indian hemp, or Gunjah” published in the Provincial Medical Journal, London on February 4th, 1843, O’Shaughnessey relates the case of a baby just over a month old who he administered  an ethanol (alcohol) cannabis based tincture.

Please remember this was written 173 years ago.

Case of Infantile Convulsions, 1843

“A very interesting case of this disease has recently occurred in my private practice, the particulars of which I have the permission of the family to insert in this paper. A female infant, forty days old, the child of Mr. and Mrs. J. L., of Calcutta, on the 10th of September had a slight attack of convulsions, which recurred chiefly at night for about a fortnight, and for which the usual purgatives-warm baths and a few doses of calomel and chalk-were given without effect. On that day the attacks were almost unceasing, and amounted to regular tetanic paroxysms. The child had, moreover, completely lost appetite and was emaciating rapidly”

“I had by this time exhausted all the usual methods of treatment, and the child was apparently in a binking state. Under these circumstances I stated to the parents the results of the experiments I had made with the hemp, and my conviction that it would relieve their infant if relief could possibly be obtained. They gladly consented to the trial, and a single drop of the spirituous tincture, equal to the one-twentieth part of a grain in weight, was placed on the child’s tongue at 10pm.”
1/20th of a grain is 3.24mgs

“No immediate effect was perceptible, and in an hour and a half two drops more were given. The infant fell asleep in a few minutes, and slept soundly till 4pm, when she awoke, screamed for food, took the breast free!y, and fell asleep again. At 9am, 1st of October, I found the child fast asleep, but easily roused; the pulse, countenance, and skin perfectly natural. In this drowsy state she continued for four days totally free from convulsive symptoms in any form.

“During this time the bowels were frequently spontaneously relieved, and the appetite returned to the natural degree. October 4th, At 1am, convulsions returned and continued at intervals during the day; 5 drop doses of the tincture were given hourly. Up to midnight there were 30 fits, and 44 drops of the tincture of hemp were ineffectually given.”

“Paroxysms continued during the night. At 11am, it was found that the tincture in use during the preceding days had been kept by the servant in a small bottle with a paper stopper, the spirit had evaporated and the whole of the resin had settled on the sides of the phial. The infant had in fact becn taking drops of mere water during the preceding day.”
Always shake cannabis preparations before use and store in the fridge.

“A new preparation was given in 3 drop doses during the 5th and 6th, and increased to 8 drops with the effect of diminishing the violence, though not of preventing the return of the paroxysm. On the 7th I met Dr. Nicholson in consultation, and despairing of a cure from the hemp, it was agreed to intermit its use, to apply a mustard poultice to the epigastrium, and to give a dose of castor oil and turpentine.”

“The child, however, rapidly became worse, and at 2pm, a tetanic spasm set in, which lasted without intermission till 6.30pm. A cold bath was tried without solution of the spasm; the hemp was, therefore, again resorted to, and a dose of 30 drops, equal to one and a-half grains of the resin, given at once.”

Approx: 100mgs

“Immediately after this dose was given the limbs relaxed, the little patient fell fast asleep, and so continued for 13 hours. While asleep, she was evidently under the peculiar influence of the drug. On the 8th October, at 4am, there was a severe fit, and from this hour to 10pm, 25 fits occurred, and 130 drops of the tincture were given in 30 drop doses”

Dr O’Shaughnessy (quite correctly) increased the dose

“It was now manifestly a struggle between the disease and the remedy; but at 10pm, she was again narcotised, and from that hour no fit returned”

“The child is now 17/12/1842 in the enjoyment of robust health, and has regained her natural plump and happy appearance. In reviewing this case several very remarkable circumstances present themselves. At first we find 3 drops, causing profound narcotism, subsequently we find 130 drops daily required to produce the same effect”

He was learning about how tolerance builds, hence the requirement to increase the dose (slowly).

“Should the disease ever recur, it will be a matter of much interest to notice the quantity of the tincture requisite to afford relief. The reader will remember that this infant was but 60 days old when 130 drops were given in one day, of the same preparation of which ten drops had intoxicated the student Dinonath Dhur, who took the drug for experiment”

Dr O’Shaughnessy concludes:

“The preceding cases constitute an abstract of my experience on this subject, and constitute the grounds of my belief that in hemp the profession has gained an anti-convulsive remedy of the greatest value”

The Doctor explains how he prepares his preparations

“The resinous extract is prepared by boiling the rich, adhesive tops of the dried gunjah, in spirit, until all the resin is dissolved. The tincture thus obtained is evaporated to dryness by distillation, or in a vessel placed over a pot of boiling water. The extract softens at a gentle heat, and can be made into pills without any addition”

The alcohol he used was 84.5% ethanol, he was preparing what many people today would refer to as a FECO extraction (full extract cannabis oil).

“Doses, ec.-In tetanus a drachm of the tincture is every half hour until the paroxysms cease, or catalepsy is induced”

 A drachm is 1.77 grams and tetanus is also referred to as lockjaw

“In hydrophobia I would recommend the resin in soft pills, to the extent of 10 to 20 grains to be chewed by the patient, and repeated according to the effect”

10 to 20 grains is 0.65 grams to 1.3 grams, and from Dr O’Shaughnessy’s description of the pill making process it is actually cannabis oil as we now know it, 1.3 grams is a very significant dose. Hydrophobia is a common symptom of Rabies.

“With the alcoholic extract made from the tops in the way I recommend the practitioner has only to feel his way, and increase the dose until he produces intoxication as the test of the remedy having taken effect”

“Of all powerful narcotics it is the safest to use with boldness and decision”

I fully concur

The Lib Dem’s make a hash of cannabis reform

Proposals are Prohibition Lite                                                                               

UPA TOM1

Last night along with Greg de Hoedt of the UKCSC I attended a meeting of the UK Liberal Democrat party to discuss their proposals for a “Legalised Cannabis Market”.

The venue was a very pleasant London public house, the event had been arranged to discuss cannabis policy over a pint, the irony!

At first glance the proposals look like great news for cannabis consumers, they include the commercial sale of cannabis to over 18’s from licensed outlets and they would permit regulated home cultivation, however as with all political initiatives the devil is in the detail, the Lib Dem’s actually only propose to permit the sale of three varieties of cannabis:

5% THC, 10% THC and a variety with a maximum of 15% THC and they all must contain a minimum of 4% CBD

According to the Liberal Democrats expert panel the sales of edibles, extracts, and even hash will not be permitted, not only are these proposals Prohibition Lite they are also totally impractical.

The cannabis community in the UK are split on the issue and apart from The United Patients Alliance there seems to be little support for the Tendo and endourpain campaign.

Who is actually funding these campaigns?

The endourpain mission is to enable GP’s within 18 months to prescribe Bedrocan and Sativex but what about cannabis oil for cancer sufferers?

I was recently asked about the endourpain campaign, “are you prepared to accept half in the hope that you can get the rest later, or do you refuse to compromise?”

Actually I refuse to compromise.

Activists campaigning to end slavery 200 years ago did not accept a compromise for slaves to have a few hours off on a Sunday afternoon in the ‘hope’ that they could be free at later time, there cannot be a compromise on human rights.

Say No! to Prohibition Lite

Greg Me

Cannabis oil, what is the optimum cannabinoid profile for treating cancer?

I’m currently assisting Bud Buddies  with a series of informative self-help films on medicinal cannabis issues and the first video will be one I conducted with Professor Cristina Sanchez of Madrid Complutense University.

I notice from this short interview (below) that Cristina talks briefly about individual cannabinoid profiles for cancer sufferers, this is something that we will cover in much greater detail in our video on breast cancer. It’s a pity that the interviewer in the short film below didn’t press Cristina on the cannabinoid profiles but without an understanding of the subject it’s very difficult to ask the right questions.

From my interview with Cristina, it is apparent that Rick Simpsons insistence that cancer patients should only administer a high 90%+ THC cannabis oil extraction to treat their cancer is not necessarily the best advice. The research conducted at Madrid University (in animal models) indicates that both THC & CBD have anti-cancer properties and their research has produced some very interesting results. For example: in treating gliomas it seems that THC and combinations of THC & CBD in equal amounts is the most effective, yet in treating breast cancer CBD, THC or a combination of both are all equally effective. This is pretty ground breaking imo and it will be of particular interest to breast cancer sufferers who live in a jurisdiction where CBD is legal.

In the UK for instance CBD is not subject to the Misuse of Drugs Act (unlike cannabis and THC) therefore you can purchase and possess CBD legally, if you are a breast cancer suffer in the UK you can obtain CBD products from companies like www.endoca.com who deliver to the UK.

I agree with Dr Sanchez when she says: “Each individual, each patient needs a particular ratio of cannabinoids, that is what we have seen in pre-clinical models”

“Each patient is in a different situation and each offers a different clinical challenge”

One thing is very obvious, we need more research and lots of it.

Jeff Ditchfield

New book available on Amazon

Also available on kindle

The definitive guide to medicinal cannabis

By RaphH on 29 Nov. 2014


Format: Paperback
Verified Purchase

I cannot put this down. I have really bad chronic pain from an unusual Neuropathy. Others like myself are being denied basic rights to have access to very safe Medical Cannabis. I am not talking about people being high on a “joint” or a “spliff” but real medicine that is proved to work by scientific studies.The authors explain what went wrong. We need change. It is written of a market were people can get hold of safe dried plants and explains in detail how to make your own oils. Unfortunately to have that amount of dried flowers in the UK, you would be arrested!

This is a National shameful tragedy! Denying people their basic rights. There is a company making a fortune out of selling their product to the NHS that could be produced for a tenth of the cost.

The writers then go on and show you how to grow your own and produce medical cannabis oil. Very comprehensive!

The UK needs a modern day Dr Bourne

Dr Bourne

By Jeff Ditchfield

From 1861 until 1967 abortion was illegal in the UK.

Under the Offences Against the Person Act it was an offence to supply or use any “poison or other noxious thing” or to use “any instrument or other means” to cause a woman to miscarry. This act outlawed abortion by either the woman or any other person including a doctor, nurse, midwife or pharmacist.

In 1938, a brave doctor Alec Bourne performed an illegal abortion on a 14-year-old girl who had been raped by five soldiers, in his “medical opinion” it was necessary to conduct an abortion to avoid the girl becoming “a nervous wreck”.

After conducting the abortion Dr Bourne confessed to the police and he was subsequently charged with performing an illegal abortion, he was put on trial at Crown Court (R v Bourne [1938]) where he was acquitted by the jury.

Mr Justice Macnaghten said in his judgement:

“If the doctor is of the opinion, on reasonable grounds and with adequate knowledge, that the probable consequence of the continuance of the pregnancy will be to make the woman a physical or mental wreck, the jury are entitled to take the view that the doctor is operating for the purpose of preserving the life of the mother”

After the acquittal abortions were carried out by physicians in cases where the woman’s physical or mental health was deemed to be in danger.

Today

According to the General Medical Council there are 238,000 doctors in the UK and not one of them has written out a prescription for cannabinoids to treat children dying from cancer, where is today’s Dr Bourne?

If a UK doctor is willing to write a prescription for a cancer patient and if a UK pharmacist is unwilling or unable to fulfil it then I can.

bbs

Professor Manuel Guzman

The Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Madrid University is headed by Professor Manuel Guzmán (born 1963), his PhD and post-doctoral research focused on the study of the regulation of liver and brain lipid metabolism. Since 2001 he has been involved in the study of how the active components of cannabis (cannabinoids) act in the body, with special emphasis on the molecular mechanisms of action and on understanding how cannabinoids control cell generation and death.

It was a privilege to interview Manuel