A recent Survey by Roy Morgan Research shows 91% of Australians are supportive of medical Cannabis.
However, what most people do not know is that the Cannabis Australia is allowing to be imported for the first time includes GMO Cannabis. GMO or Genetically Modified Organism Cannabis has been around since 2011 due to breakthroughs in research and Biotechnology by Ethan Russo and GW UK helping in the process. In 2014 even newer GMO Cannabis strains has been introduced.
In early April 2016 as we speak, an Australian delegation is traveling to Asia to look at GMO Cannabis with no THC, and in mid-2016 brings the who’s who of the GMO Biotech Cannabis community to NSW for a conference. There is a real danger that GMO will take over as the dominant medical Cannabis seed stock.
What is Wrong with GMO Cannabis? - Too early to tell, and that is the problem. The medicine people have been using and having success with is not even being offered in Australia for those that need it most. The GMO Biotech Cannabis has seen deaths (Epidiolex) in trials that have ‘passed’ and other GMO (like Sativex) have failed trials and tests. In Fairness it would be wrong to say with Cannabis with over 100 cannabinoids including CBD and THC, and totaling over 483 other compounds GMO might hold many wonders for medicine. Outside of Australia GMO is being used, tested or trialed but not instead of real Cannabis or real Cannabis products. This is where Australia is differentiating.
So What is Cannabis Now? – This hit home about a year ago on a visit to large grow in California USA, and to Denver, where I was discussing the issue people had in Australia with calling weed, ‘Marijuana’ “so we tend to call it Cannabis as it is the genus name anyhow (sort of)”. The large grower with an acre of plants asked the question. What is Cannabis exactly? This was no prank, they had heard the word, but were confused over it. As silly as that seems this is also one of the largest issues hiding the GMO in Australia in 2016, and most are not even aware of it yet, but they will be. Currently, there is a massive lack of clarity on what Cannabis is with the government choosing not to be transparent over this and in 2016 they have made this worse in new Federal and State laws and Bills. I personally got the question asked and answered in the Senate in Victoria with a new more detailed, and still foggy definition.
GMO Biotech Cannabis Vs Real Cannabis (Marijuana)
Even in a recent (30 March 2016) survey from the Australian Department of Health (DOH) on Cannabis usage via the NCPIC, it offers 3 distinct definitions of their own for Cannabis that HAS not been used in bills or recent law changes. They are;
- Non-medical Cannabis: - Marijuana/Cannabis defined as being greater than 3% THC
- Cannabis for medical purposes-: - is the same Cannabis/Marijuana but used for Medicinal Purposes
- Medicinal Cannabis: - Pharmaceutical Cannabis products in a form other than flower/plant.
Unfortunately, this leaves another 2 Cannabis terms not properly defined, yet covered off in the same survey.
GMO Cannabis – Cannabis made from genetically modified seed science and used by the likes of GW UK, some call this synthetic Cannabis mostly from seeds by Hortapharm BV in the Netherlands, and the preferred supplier per the Australian Government and is legal in Australia when provided by an authorized supplier in a non-flower form.
Industrial Hemp is typically defined by the TGA as Cannabis being less than 3% THC.
What We Know So Far - Not Confused Yet?
By itself, all of this is confusing but manageable. Unfortunately, in recent, state Bills (QLD, and Victoria) and recent Federal Framework Bills, they have chosen not to define things this way and instead are reverting to older 1937 UN definitions of Cannabis combining all 5 different products per above as simply “Cannabis”. These old 1937 definitions have not been used for decades so their re-introduction is purposeful and with intent.
This makes the interpretation of new bills and legislature difficult as when words such as Medical Cannabis are then used since it combines 5 different possibilities of products all with different issues to consider. Outside of Australia some of these problems also exist where CBD / Cannabis Oil can be any of the 5 items. In recent legislation in Australia MPs discussed how Cannabis Oil helped this person or that person and was purchased illegally (this makes it Marijuana/Cannabis/CBD oil) then goes on to say medicinal Cannabis trials will take place (providing pharma like Epidiolex, or Nabiximol).
This sort of action then starts the wheels in motion of confusion for the majority and embeds distrust for those that understand the impact of that statement. Even some self-defined Cannabis Activist messiahs, have ignored the issues, further splintering progress on law reform as they also pursue GMO Cannabis hoping the population does not see the difference until it is too late.
Recent announcements in the media that medical Cannabis is now going to be legal has stopped many from pursuing the facts any further. Whilst the media chooses to not ask questions, filing it in the it is too hard basket.
Some Facts – Due to something called the “Entourage Effect of the Plant” was discovered by GW UK (Dr. Ethan Russo) in 2009-2011 and the ECS (endo cannabinoid system) complimenting the discovery of THC and the discovery of the entourage effect of the body in 1968. It simply says Marijuana (that in its natural state has a ratio of 10-15:1 THC to CBD and) as a medicine acts a certain way. Any deviation from this requires some form of biotech where that medicine works differently than natural Cannabis/Marijuana (and is where GW UK Epidiolex, or Nabiximol were created out of) has different ratios of CBD and THC compared to the natural ratios discussed above.
Medical Implications – When a new modified strain of marijuana was offered to a child with seizures in Denver USA, years ago for a girl name Charlotte Figi, with Dravet syndrome a new Cannabis strain called Charlotte’s Web was born. It had very low THC and very high CBD. Unfortunately, over time it was reported that Charlotte needed a different strain due to the low potency of THC meaning the CBD did not work as well, and due to what is believed a tolerance was built up to the very low THC. This problem has been repeated by many leading people to believe Dravet syndrome would be effectively an ECS deficiency, when CBD stops the seizures 100% but strong full spectrum Cannabis products work when the GMO biotech strains do not.
There’s No Place like Genome - When Canadian Dr Jonathan Page and his team mapped the marijuana genome in 2011, using the Purple Kush strain of Cannabis they also looked at hemp with no THC. It was highlighted the chemical pathway with hemp and marijuana is different so is a different medicine, that acts differently.
- QLD has announced it will follow NSW in Synthetic Cannabis – http://bit.ly/QLD-GMO-1
- NSW Announces Trials – http://bit.ly/Epi-trial , http://bit.ly/Epi-trials-2016-1,
- Victoria announces Medical Cannabis Products - http://bit.ly/Vic-Trials
- Medical Hemp Association warns against CBD only medicine and laws - http://bit.ly/CBD-med
Lose the High, Lose 90% of the Medicine* – effectively THC and CBD work in harmony, as mentioned due to the entourage effect. Marijuana has naturally a 10-15:1 ratio of THC to CBD normally. This means Cannabis with potency of 15% THC (which is pretty high) might only have 1% CBD. When concentrated to oil this can be 4-5 times stronger increasing the potency to 60% THC and 1% CBD. This means High CBD and Low THC GMO Cannabis works on some conditions, some of the time. Full Spectrum Natural Cannabis and Cannabis Products works on those same conditions and many more.
* The Biotechnology of Cannabis (2nd edition) Sam Zwenger PhD - Extreme Publications inc New York - 2014.
By Loren Wiener, writer and commentator on Medicinal Marijuana and related issues. Producer of This Week in Weed TV.