The future of medical marijuana might be at your fingertips. PotBot, a mobile app developed by the company Potbotics, helps users find out the best weed for their body, and recommend the right strain of marijuana for your particular medical condition.
While the advice of your pot dealer or local budtender (if you live in a legal or medical state) is always welcome, it's often based on anecdotal reports rather than scientific findings. Brooklyn natives David Goldstein wanted to change that with PotBot. The app helps doctors and patients focus on the chemical profile of different types of cannabis plants, instead of relying only on names like OG Kush or Jack Herer.
"It's a medical cannabis recommendation engine," Goldstein said of the program. The app uses peer reviewed research from Israel, Canada, Europe, and around the world to determine which cannabinoid therapies are the best fit for the 37 ailments it lists. For example, Goldstein said, cannabis strains that have high levels of the chemical compound CBN work well for insomnia when combined with well-known cannabinoid THC.
Potbotics educates patients about cannabis' effects on their ailments and the cannabinoid profiles specific to each strain."There's such a fine line right now between medical and recreational adult use cannabis for patients or consumer," Goldstein said, "Adult use focuses more on taste, flavor, and smell, while medical cannabis patients have a different set of considerations, such as 'how will this affect my fibromyalgia, glaucoma, or migraines?"
The app, which was refined and launched last month, is also connected to "BrainBot", a device that measures brain activity and helps patients determine their responses to different strains or cannabinoids.
"When physicians have the equipment, it can validate information for them. Let's say a patient comes in complaining of insomnia. We do a baseline study to find evidence of that on the EEG [electroencephalogram]. Then we begin specific cannabinoid therapy and the physician monitors it [with the EEG]," said HJ Raza, MD/PhD, chief medical officer of Potbotics.
Eventually, patients may be able to rely more on chemical profiles and test results, rather than strain reputations. But some medical marijuana providers say that may not be the most important factor.
"We tell our patients, 'Look at lab test results on the medicine. Don't worry about strain names,'" said Dr. Martha Montemayor, head of Cannabis Clinicians Colorado, a nonprofit professional groups that trains doctors in cannabis.
"THC and CBD are only part of the story. The full effect [of cannabis] is in the entourage effect." That is, all the chemicals in cannabis — cannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBG and CBN, in addition to aromatic chemicals called terpenes — work synergistically to bring about the plant's full effect.
Meanwhile, knowing the exact chemical makeup and strain of the weed being used could help make the medical marijuana industry as precise as possible.
"There are 1,000 strains out on the market. Nobody knows what categories they go in other than indica and sativa," said Goldstein. "By focusing on cannabinoids and terpenes, we can focus on what the future of medical cannabis looks like."