Even for someone who has gotten used to cannabis nonsense passed off as knowledge, sometimes you just have to shake your head and wonder. 

It seems there is a new “study,” this one published in the journal Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy. It comes from University of Michigan and University of Buffalo researchers Daniel Kruger, Jessica Kruger and Lorraine Collins and is titled “Frequent Cannabis Users Demonstrate Low Knowledge of Cannabinoid Content and Dosages.” The full study is behind a firewall, but a couple of summaries are available, with comments from the researchers. I certainly can’t disagree with the conclusion that we need more public-health education and research as cannabis becomes legal in more states. But what this adds to that particular conversation is questionable.

They handed out a brief survey last April at a Hash Bash gathering of cannabis advocates at the University of Michigan. The Hash Bash is an event that dates back to 1972, after the repeal of the law by the Michigan Supreme Court that  convicted activist John Sinclair for possession of two joints. For many years, Hash Bash was a protest; today, cannabis possession by adults in Michigan is legal.

Five hundred people answered, and most participants, two thirds of them, in fact, admitted they were daily users, with 85 percent saying they used cannabis as medicine. But the study found that few contributors could offer a definition of what is an effective dose or explain which cannabinoids do what. 

Most people wisely answered that they didn’t know how much THC or CBD would get them off or relieve their symptoms. Others gave estimates of 91 milligrams for THC and 177 milligrams for CBD, which the researchers found to be far off-base. “The average estimate for an effective dose of THC would actually be fatal in humans,” head researcher Kruger said. Since cannabis is not known to be deadly in any quantity, why this is even brought up makes it sound more like gaslighting than science.

They also found that participants’ average estimates for high-THC and high-CBD (both more than 50 percent) were considerably higher than currently accepted definitions, and that men, European Americans, and medical card holders did better in their estimates than others.

I don’t know how many milligrams or what terpene combination gets me the desired effect, but I do know when it happens, and that generally helps me decide whether to take more or not. It has nothing to do with numbers. Besides, nobody has answers to these questions at this point in time. There are almost 150 compounds found in cannabis, and THC and CBD are the only ones we know anything about. 

One theory posits that it’s a combination of all cannabinoids working together, another that it’s the particular mix of cannabinoids that do the job, but the more important thing to remember is that these compounds work differently in every person. There are no “effective doses” for THC and CBD. What gives me a mild buzz might give the person next to me—well, not in today’s world, at least—a mighty jolt. Perhaps some clinicians could tell you exactly why that happens, but do we expect those who drink alcohol or coffee, or anyone taking a prescription, to know the mechanics of what is happening?

They also resurrect the old shibboleth that marijuana today is stronger and by definition more dangerous than the pot your grandfather smoked. “Cannabis strains are 20 times as potent today as they were during the Summer of Love,” the researchers write.

Well, I’m old enough to be your grandfather, and if strains back then weren’t potent, none of us would have broken the law for decades to continue to use it. And the concept of farmers being compelled to grow cannabis at “prescribed” THC or CBD levels because higher potencies are dangerous without any proof—as has been proposed here in Colorado—is so nonsensical, it boggles the imagination.

On a lighter note, I might also suggest that handing out a questionnaire to people at a cannabis convention and expecting serious answers, is perhaps inviting mayhem. I wasn’t there, but I know I would have had some fun with those questions about strains and dosages.

Again, I agree that more research and knowledge is needed, and that there might be those among us who know or want to know or need to know exactly how many milligrams of THC or CBD and what strain will make them feel hunky dory. Most of us prefer a more direct method: Take a hit and see where you are from there.