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Under Attack

The cannabis universe is expanding. New centers of gravity are forming. New stars are bursting into life. New discoveries are popping up on the scope every day. The Cannabis Scientist blinked into existence in reaction to the rapidly rising levels of excitement and expectation that resulted from the explosive growth. But among the bright points of light in our cannabis universe, there is darkness – and thus doubt and fear. Some uncharted areas are simply waiting for ambitious explorers – scientists willing to do the legwork needed to unravel a whole galaxy of new information.

Threats also lurk out there in the gloom and confusion, slowly uncoiling.

I spoke at length with Steep Hill’s Reggie Gaudino for a fascinating Sitting Down With interview (read it here). Our conversation moved apace, and we only have room in the resulting article for the highlights. We also touched upon three topics that require more space and more time (more space-time, if you wish to continue the opening analogy).

First, the evolving regulatory landscape is currently fueling an analytical race to the bottom, where cannabis-testing labs with less sensitive instrumentation (or lower levels of expertise) are being rewarded with the business of growers who, perhaps unsurprisingly, prefer higher limits of detection. As Reggie says, “Good science is not necessarily the order of the day.”

Second, traditional approaches to pheno-hunting – rubbing stems and sniffing fingers – retain a curious and loveable “plant whisperer” vibe but, as internal competition heats up and as Big Agribusiness targets a new cash crop in earnest, a more scientific approach must be applied to all aspects of cannabis cultivation. As Reggie says, “If the cannabis industry doesn’t step up and do it – somebody else will.”

And third, Big Pharma too is flexing its muscles (read more in our feature) and the lines between pharmaceutical and medical cannabis are blurring. “Prior art” is a sketchy subject in the cannabis science world, where research has historically been hampered. How will the industry be affected by (overly) broad patents? As Reggie says, “There’s a storm brewing.”

It seems to me that science plays a critical role in all three of these issues. The expanding cannabis universe needs more intrepid explorers, like Reggie, who can navigate the dark matter and black holes – and guide us all into the light.

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About the Author
Rich Whitworth

Rich Whitworth completed his studies in medical biochemistry at the University of Leicester, UK, in 1998. To cut a long story short, he escaped to Tokyo to spend five years working for the largest English language publisher in Japan. “Carving out a career in the megalopolis that is Tokyo changed my outlook forever. When seeing life through such a kaleidoscopic lens, it's hard not to get truly caught up in the moment.” On returning to the UK, after a few false starts with grey, corporate publishers, Rich was snapped up by Texere Publishing, where he spearheaded the editorial development of The Analytical Scientist. “I feel honored to be part of the close-knit team that forged The Analytical Scientist – we've created a very fresh and forward-thinking publication.” Rich is now Content Director of Texere Publishing, the company behind The Analytical Scientist.

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