A chemist from California who runs a medical marijuana testing lab believes most strain names are baseless, and says the time has come for a more accurate classification system.
Jeffrey Raber holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Southern California and makes a living from analyzing medical marijuana. Through his company, The Werc Shop, Dr. Raber has come across some of California’s most prized marijuana strains, with names like OG Kush and Strawberry Cough.
But in a recent interview with LA Weekly, Dr. Raber explained that the names are more of a marketing ploy than a true scientific system.
In fact, while expert growers have long touted the extensive genetic profiling that goes into each strain, Dr. Raber says an OG Kush sold at one dispensary could be completely different from an OG Kush sold at another.
“We took a popular name, Jack Herer, and found that most didn’t even look like each other. OG whatever, Kush whatever, and the marketing that goes along with it – it’s not really medically designed.”
This could be bad news for patients who rely on strain reviews and databases to guide their choice of medicine.
On the other hand, Dr. Raber’s claims seem to undo decades of established beliefs. The scientist even questions the difference between the two species of cannabis: sativa and indica.
While many believe indicas to be more relaxing and sativas more energizing, Dr. Raber asserts that it has more to do with the plant’s outward appearance than anything else.
“The data shows that indica and sativa is just morphology. It’s a misperception that indica will put you to sleep or that sativa is more energetic.”
Despite his controversial opinion, Dr. Raber says he’s working on a study that will prove these claims. His research, which he plans to publish next spring, involves comparing more than 1,000 different strains of cannabis based on their metabolites, cannabinoids, terpenes and 42 other unique measurements.
The results, he hopes, will help to establish a naming system that is more accurate, with an ultimate goal of improving the medicine for patients who depend on it.
Dr. Raber has also published research on the pesticide risks of medical marijuana.