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Musings from the Power List: Cindy Orser

What is the single biggest challenge facing cannabis science in 2022 – and beyond?

By far the biggest challenge facing the cannabis industry this year is effectively dealing with fraud – specifically, the entrenched black market that continues to drag down the industry’s feasibility in critical states such as California and Oregon. This healthy black market exists because of the exorbitant cost of doing business in the legal cannabis space – recurring licensing fees, taxes, testing costs, and lack of standard business deductions – while meeting individual state action limits for contaminants and allowable dosing range per product item. Some of the products that fail state regulations flow into the black market to recoup business costs.

Do you have any predictions for the field over the next few years?

In the short term, we will see definitive data from clinical trials that demonstrate the medicinal value of individual cannabinoids for specific clinical endpoints. This evidence-based data will further encourage Big Pharma to enter the field, which will motivate (through effective lobbying) the federal government to finally come to terms with descheduling and regulating cannabis and cannabis-based products. The risk here for current producers of cannabis-based products will be the loss of the largely unregulated content at the state level, and no doubt further limitations on producers’ ability to do business as Big Pharma gains a foothold. However, for the medical cannabis consumer, having uniform, cGMP-produced cannabis-based products will provide more consistent relief – though it will undoubtedly come at a higher price.

Do you have any strong opinions with which the rest of the field disagrees?

I firmly believe that the industry needs to move away from establishing a value for cannabis flower based on THC content. First, there is minimal clinical data to justify any particular THC dosing regimen at the medicinal level. Second, there is no rationale for making 90 percent pure THC extracts available for recreational use. We do not know enough about the long-term impact of chronic use of such products. Most importantly, equating the value of cannabis flower to its THC content has created the monster with which cannabis-complicit states must now wrestle, which is the fraud from inflated THC numbers. Finally, the focus on THC content ignores the contributions of other physiological secondary metabolites, including terpenoids and flavonoids.

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About the Author
Cindy Orser

Chief Science Officer, DigiPath Labs, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

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