Study on 90,000 cannabis products: "Labeling system is unreliable"

Cannabis product labels fail to capture "the chemical reality" of what people smoke, a University of Colorado study has concluded after analyzing 90,000 samples offered for sale in six states.

The widely used labeling system purported to predict the effects of different "strains" — "indica" (relaxed high), "sativa" (energetic high), and "hybrid" — obscures the diversity of chemicals cannabis consumers inhale, according to the study, which was published Thursday in the online science journal PLOS One.

CU information scientists analyzed labels that companies provided for an online platform called Leafly, which lets consumers see a more complete listing of contents in cannabis products. They compared this labeling with the commonly used system.

"The prevailing labeling system is not an effective or safe way to provide information about these products," said University of Colorado information sciences professor Brian Keegan, who co-authored the study with Daniela Vergara, now at Cornell University.

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