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October’s Cannabis Science News

Every month, we carefully curate the top stories from across the fields of medical research, testing, processing, and plant science. We also bring you the latest in the world of cannabis business and legislation. Want it all in your inbox? Sign up here.

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Risky fun(gi) 

The Cannabis sativa plant interacts with its surrounding ecosystem, including toxigenic fungi – a relationship which is often overlooked in research, despite being interlinked with health risks. 

A North American team decided to review the analytical techniques – culture-based assays, liquid chromatography, and immuno-based technologies – used for the detection of those fungal contaminants in hemp. 

“One possible solution to reduce potential harm to medical users of cannabis from toxigenic fungi is to develop a two-tier system that distinguishes products intended for medical and recreational use,” suggest the authors in their recent study

They also pointed to the need for further developments and improvements in multi-residue analytical methods (e.g. LC-MS/MS), which could enable sufficient detection of high priority contaminants such as Fusarium and Aspergillus mycotoxins.

Raising the standards

After taking into account several studies, the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.) Commission has constructed a detailed script of all the analytical test requirements and other guidelines for the proper production and handling of cannabis – setting new standards for both laboratories and businesses.

“The new monograph takes into account information received from a number of national authorities concerning the use of the herbal drug in their jurisdictions: it can be employed as a raw material for the production of extracts or it can be prescribed as is, to be taken by patients by inhalation or oral administration. Additional requirements have been included in the limits for content, in the production section and in the tests for foreign matter, arsenic, cadmium and lead for cases in which the herbal drug is to be prescribed to patients,” the press release notes.

The monograph will be officially presented during a webinar by the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare (EDQM) on December 14, 2023 – proceeding its implementation in the summer of 2024.

What’s Going On?

Research and Medicine

Cannabis consumers demonstrate significantly lower rates of respiratory complications and mortality after infection with SARS-CoV-2 compared with non-users, which could be explained by viral cell entry and cytokine inhibition. Link 

Canadian researchers conduct a population-based study to investigate the impact of cannabis on heart health – revealing that cannabis smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular conditions and suffering a stroke. Link 

In a review, Kenneth Blum and colleagues investigate the controversy surrounding the DRD2 gene as a genetic factor for substance use – including cannabis – concluding that recent GWAS studies have provided substantial data supporting the hypothesis. Link  

Business + Regulation

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has advised healthy individuals to restrict their oral  CBD consumption to approximately 10 mg per day following toxicological assessment of CBD products. Link

The American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) and the National Industrial Hemp Council of America (NIHC) have announced a joint accreditation program for testing facilities specializing in hemp and cannabis analysis. Link

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has granted $5 million to the UCLA School of Dentistry to develop a synthetic cannabinoid painkiller specifically for oral cancer patients. Link 

Kaycha Labs and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have partnered to improve and establish chemotype and contaminant testing for cannabis analysis. Link

Image credit: Shutterstock

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About the Author
Markella Loi

Associate Editor, The Cannabis Scientist

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