(Uriel Sinai via Getty)
So you’re a novice weed grower who either got their seeds off some shady website on the dark web or a mate who said, “this strain of sativa is sick, bro”. You ask yourself, “What actually is it?”, “Could I accidentally poison someone?” and if you’re health conscious, “What benefits can I actually get out of this?”
Well, good news if you live in the ACT (the only state in Australia where weed is currently decriminalised). The University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics is launching the CAN-ACT study, opening its doors to anyone who either grows or possesses weed in small quantities for medicinal or non-medicinal use.Users will be allowed to submit samples of their cannabis anonymously after completing the first element of the study, which involves an online survey to investigate “cannabis use, behaviours and attitudes”.The collected samples will be analysed for cannabis content, including psychoactive components tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD). They’ll also test for harmful substances that may contaminate the plants during the cultivation process including “fungi-produced toxins, heavy metals and pesticides”.But this free study isn’t just for the curious. Mostly, it’s to test the therapeutic benefits home-grown weed can supply. “Growers who are achieving profound therapeutic effects with cannabis are naturally curious about what the cannabis contains,” said lead researcher, Professor Iain McGregor, in a statement. According to Professor McGregor, the study was inspired by an ACT resident, Patrick*.Patrick*, whose wife was in her late stages of terminal brain cancer, took to growing cannabis with no prior experience. In his wife’s last 18 months, he says, it gave her a quality of life that “end of life” pharmaceutical packages couldn’t.
“The biggest difficulties arose when we could not figure out if a symptom was the result of the tumour, the pharmaceuticals, or the cannabis. This is where I believe ‘user testing’ can improve our knowledge,” Patrick said.Researchers hope that, in the end, the study will help home-growers reduce the harmful contaminants that may come with the cultivation process, and, as an added bonus, when it is legally safe to drive after consumptionWhile results aren’t expected until early 2023, researchers are hoping that the study paves the way for the legalisation of cannabis in other states and territories.Follow Julie Fenwick on Twitter and Instagram.Read more from VICE Australia and subscribe to our weekly newsletter, This Week Online.