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Five things Big Data has learned about cannabis-use

By: Caine Meyers

A Canadian-developed app is the world’s largest database on cannabis use.Strainprint is a Canadian-developed mobile app that collects information on cannabis-use. Currently, it is the world’s largest dataset of cannabis use, harvesting an impressive 65-million datapoints related to marijuana use. Currently, cannabis is only legalized in Canada, some states of the United States, South Africa, and Uruguay, and so collecting a large body of data on its use is difficult. Strainprint is innovative in its approach. Collecting data in the same fashion as clinical data is gathered, it allows users to input the strain of cannabis they use, its intended use (i.e., medical conditions treated), and its efficacy. All data is private and therefore users are not at risk. Data experts involved in the project organize the data accordingly to make comparisons. Importantly, they adhere to the same methodology as other clinical experts and in fact have more clinical data on cannabis-use than any known clinical trial. Because of this unique ability to collect data on cannabis-use, analysts have been able to confidently conclude various insights with regards to cannabis use.

1. Both men and women react differently to cannabis as they age

According to the evidence provided by the app, Strainprint indicates that as women approach and undergo menopause, their physiological relationship with cannabis changes. As females increase in age closer to 40 and 50, levels of estrogen and cortisol change. Because of this, previous female users of cannabis who experienced adverse reactions to cannabis in their younger years can now consume it. In fact, they may even benefit from it. The shift in experience with cannabis use includes benefitting from the headache relieving effects of the plant or no longer experience anxiety upon consumption. As it happens, the same holds true for men. As they age, the way testosterone interacts with cannabis changes, possibly allowing them to consume the plant when they previously were not able to. This is particularly true for those men who have testosterone deficiency and/or prostate issues.

2. Indica and sativa are not the only choices when it comes to cannabis-use

Indica and sativa are the two major species of the cannabis plant. According to a common misconception, the former typically relaxes the user and the later offers a boost of energy and creativity. Strainprint’s data offers a contrary point-of-view on this claim. In fact, in some instances, users have reported the opposite effects of either strain. Strainprint has robust data to indicate that indica can make you alert and happy, while sativa can “put you on the couch.” According to the science, there is no definitive rule and, like most things, it is more complex. The cannabis plant is comprised of 120 organic compounds that dictate how the plant smells. These constituents interact differently with cannabinoids (THC and CBD) thereby changing its effects. For example, a sativa plant high in myrcene, linalool, and caryophyllenes instead gives the plant a sedative effect instead of an energy-boosting effect. Analysts of Strainprint have concluded that cannabis is not just about CBD and THC, and more about how these constituents (also known as terpenes) interact with either compound.

3. Strains of cannabis are not as simple as we think

Not all strains of cannabis are created equally, especially when it comes to the supplier. According to Strainprint’s big data, the popular cannabis strain “Girl Scout Cookie” has different effects depending on the supplier. Many factors account for this variability: genetic variance, airflow above and below plant soil, the type of soil used, humidity, CO2 levels, and the type of plant-nutrition used. All of this accounts for a variability of effects between the “same” strain of cannabis.

4. Users of medical marijuana are now using it recreationally as well

Users of medical marijuana have seen its positive effects and low addiction profile. The myth of “cannabis is a gateway drug” has been demystified, and analysts of Strainprint speculate that users are less afraid to the use the drug.

5. Users report using medical marijuana to treat five common ailments

Currently, Strainprint has documented 350 different medical conditions being treated with cannabis. Of this, the most common ailments seeking relief are joint paint, muscle pain, anxiety, stress, and inflammation. For users over 65, its insomnia, stress, anxiety, and joint paint. In Canada, this type of remedy is more easily-accessible, however, this data points to a medical marijuana market worth exploring in countries where it is restricted.

Strainprint will continue to collect data on cannabis use around the world. As such, Canada continues to lead the world on cannabis data and research. Further collection of data will open avenues to better informed evidence-based practice for physicians and recreational users, and shed light on both the adverse and positive outcomes of cannabis use in both a medical and recreation context.

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