A Colorado marijuana testing lab will debut a new application this week that allows consumers to search for potential cannabis treatments by cross-referencing recent lab test data and independent research.
CannLabs’ new web app, StrainData, gives the company a public interface — which is notable given CannLabs’ mostly behind-the-scenes position in Colorado (and soon Connecticut and Nevada, where it is opening pot-testing labs). But in a legal marijuana industry where credible research on its medical efficacy is lacking, is there yet a need for such a service?
Perhaps, or perhaps it’s too early. But as legitimate marijuana research begins to ramp up in the coming decade, StrainData could possibly be positioned to lead that conversation.
“New consumers won’t understand what (pot strain) Romulan Cotton Candy is, but they can easily understand the difference between a strain with 13 percent THC and 23 percent THC,” said Kevin Staunton, StrainData’s product manager at CannLabs. “We’re matching up current research in marijuana with treatments. If you have insomnia, go to StrainData and find products that have the active profile that treats insomnia, one that has a high CBN count. That cannabinoid is thought to make you feel more sleepy.”
StrainData, according to CannLabs, “combines independent cannabis research and laboratory testing data with popular strains, edibles and concentrates currently on dispensary shelves throughout Colorado.” In practice, it’s a straightforward user experience — allowing visitors to search 23 unique symptoms and conditions against a database of all client-approved testing results, which look at nine different cannabinoids — THC, CBD and CBN included.
CannLabs also hopes to soon have StrainData available on a mobile app.
For example, if you’re looking for a strain or edible to help you sleep, visit StrainData’s Symptom page for Sleep Aid. The results show a number of lab-tested edibles, oils and concentrates now available in Colorado. Click on Julie and Kate’s seed mix for a high-resolution photo of the infused edible as well as its cannabinoid profile, which shows a decent CBN result, as well as a testing date and the locations where you can find the product.
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Hover your mouse over the CBN icon and you get the pop-up: “Cannabinol (CBN) is also non-psychoactive and generally attributed with a sedative effect.”
Each product page will disappear from the site 60 days after it was tested — CannLabs’ attempt at having up-to-date information while making sure the clients who test through them are testing their products regularly.
“There’s a need in the marketplace for a dominant search engine for marijuana,” said Matthew Aiken, owner of the five Sweet Leaf Marijuana Centers in Colorado and a CannLabs client. “We hope that it will connect us with our own customers and give them the security of knowing that their favorite product is tested and safe.”
Basic listings on StrainData are included in the costs of testing at CannLabs. The service will always be free to consumers to browse, the company said.
Aiken hopes StrainData will be formidable competition for existing sites Leafly and Weedmaps — which offer somewhat similar functionalities. Like Weedmaps, StrainData will tell users where they can find certain strains, edibles and concentrates. Like Leafly, users can match their medical symptoms to specific strains based on their cannabinoid profiles.
“We’re hoping that it gets rid of the riffraff on Weedmaps and Leafly,” Aiken said. “(Our stores are) obviously listed on all the sites, but those sites aren’t up to where the industry is headed. I think this one is.”
After clicking around on a beta version of StrainData for an hour before its official launch, one obvious feature seemed to be missing: Properly placed links to the scientific research in question. The product’s goal of using CannLabs’ recent tests in conjunction with legitimate scientific research to address users’ medical concerns is incomplete without attribution to these studies.
For example: The site tells users that CBN is “generally attributed with a sedative effect,” but it doesn’t attribute this information to a credible source or study. So why should users believe StrainData over Leafly, which directs users to five indica-dominant strains (Purple Buddha included) to help them sleep?
StrainData’s Staunton said they considered linking their medical claims to actual research but decided against it. “It’s not in our plans,” Staunton said. Given StrainData’s scientific aspirations, the intentional exclusion of these very important and still rare scientific studies is odd.
But as StrainData’s terms and conditions remind users, this information should always be used in conjunction with advice from health care professionals.
“It’s true that the science is not complete,” Staunton said. “StrainData is meant to be a jumping-off point for consumers to find the information that is available and to have accurate, objective data associated with each batch that is tested.
“You should not be making these medicinal decisions without the guidance of your health care provider.”