Some of you old hippies out there may remember the late 1960s musical “Hair,” with its naked people and the song “Aquarius.” Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Pot was very much a part of the scene. Acapulco Gold, Oaxaca, Lebanese Red, Afghani, Pakistani, Thai Stick -- those were the days. Wonderful to be part of the “in-crowd”; dangerous if you were caught by “the Man.” We knew little to nothing about what we were smoking other than it was exotic, exciting, and felt good. We were part of a cultural revolution and it was fun.

Fast forward 50 years to our new year, 2019. California has evolved to full legalization of cannabis. Cannabis has become mainstream, big business, accepted, okay, no big deal. There is one thing new, though, that requires some degree of attention and enthusiasm from us. Beginning on January 1, 2019, California will require laboratory testing for not only seriously dangerous impurities (mycotoxins and heavy metals), but also more analysis of the chemical composition (terpenoids) of what we buy. The impurity tests have to do with safety; the composition analysis has to do with quality (and truth-in-advertising).
To me, the terpenoid analysis is the most significant of these new requirements. Terpenoids will now have to be confirmed and quantified if they are mentioned as part of the cannabis flower or product. This is a fantastic step forward for understanding what we are imbibing and the effects we can expect, especially for patients and the medical community (although connoisseurs of the “adult use” community will also have a whole new vocabulary to help them think, talk about and savor their favorite strains).
My big worry here is that no one in the medical community is actually paying any attention to this coming treasure trove of information. Testing is the responsibility of the grower or manufacturer and the results will be fragmented accordingly. Will the dispensaries ask for the lab results? Will they be interested? Will the growers/manufacturers readily divulge this information to the dispensaries and public? Will doctors actively attempt to get this information so they can better help their patients select what is best for their ailment? Is there any serious medical research planned using this “free” data? What about using the free ReleafApp that I mentioned in Blog 14? It’s all there -- up for grabs for those smart enough to see the potential.
So what can we do as individuals, laypersons, and patients? Well, for one thing you can start to ask for this new information when you are shopping at your local dispensary. You can also ask your doctor about terpenoids and their synergistic effects. Which terpenoids may have a specific advantage in treating your medical issue? Ask him/her to link these with cannabis strains and products on sale (your doctor can also go online and start looking around for things that are available based on their chemical profile – assuming growers, manufacturers, or dispensaries will post the lab results on their websites).
So, while not as exciting as standing naked on stage and singing about the Age of Aquarius, our demands as patients and consumers will determine the Age of Terpenoids in this new Age of Cannabis.
Dr. B.