top of page
  • Writer's pictureReveal Cannabis

Why this cannabis scientist thinks strain names are helpful - Meet Anna Schwabe

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

In this interview, you'll meet Dr. Anna Schwabe. I was so excited for this one because Dr. Schwabe says that she'll die on the hill screaming that STRAIN NAMES MATTER. And, she should know! She has her Ph.D. in this exact topic. So, cozy in and learn from the doctor.

*Note: I know many people would rather read a blog than listen to or watch a video. That's why I provide this rough transcript of our conversation which is not meant to be a perfectly edited blog post. Thanks for your understanding (and not blasting me in the comments.)

What You’ll Learn In This Interview
  • Why Andrea Thinks Strain Names Are Worthless

  • Who is Dr. Anna Schawbe and Why is She The Lady to Tell Us About Strain Names?

  • Why Does this Ph.D. Scientist Love Strain Names?

  • Think of Strains like Types of Grapes

  • Are Lab Tests Measuring What We Need?

  • Dr. Schawbe is a Scientist Looking Out for the End Consumer

  • How Did Dr. Schawbe Get Into Cannabis? (Especially as a barrier-breaking badass woman!)

  • How Did Dr. Schawbe Get Permission to Study THC-Rich Cannabis?

  • The Big Question: When you go to different dispensaries and you purchase the same thing, are you actually getting the same thing?

  • Think Of Strain Names Like Apple Names

  • Do We Need to Lab Test AND Genetically Test Our Cannabis To Know What We're Getting?

  • Genetic Testing Isn't New - Other Industries Are Already Doing This

  • But Genetically Identical Clones Can Still Turn Out Vastly Different From Each Other

  • Can People Detect Genetically Different Strains With Our Noses?

  • Does Lab Testing Even Mean Anything By The Time it Gets to the End Consumer?

  • Is Terpene Research Even Valid in Cannabis?

  • Is THC Even The Driver Of Experience? What are We Missing?

  • Dr. Schawbe Had to be Scrappy to Do this Research

  • What kind of problems and implications does genetic testing open up in the cannabis industry specifically?

  • Genetic Testing Isn't Free From Manipulation Either!

  • We Owe So Much To Legacy Cannabis Breeders

  • Is There Such Thing as Sativa and Indica? (Dr. Schawbe is Taking on ALL the Fights!)

  • How Using Cannabis is Similar To Using Prescriptions

  • Why Using Cannabis Is Medicine Is The Best

  • Can We Trust the Numbers on Lab Tests?

  • Dr. Schwabe Weighs in on Synthetic Cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC

  • Why Andrea Thinks Vaping and Smoking Delta-8 is So Scary

Andrea Meharg: Welcome back to another video from my name is Andrea Meharg. I'm a certified cannabis coach and educator, and I'm currently doing a series of videos where I get to interview all these really awesome people and nerd out with them and ask them all my questions.

So I get excited about these videos. If you like the style of video, check out the playlist below, because I have other, videos in this series and you can like nerd out with me. This particular video is extremely exciting to me. And I'm just gonna give you a little bit of background on why.

Why Andrea Thinks Strain Names Are Worthless

Andrea Meharg: So I teach all the cannabis science over at the Cannabis Coaching Institute and for the last four years or so, Corinne, the founder, and I have been talking about like, how do we talk about cannabis, cuz everything's constantly changing.

So it's hard to come up with one way of teaching about it and talking about it and we've landed on calling different types of cannabis that you can buy at the store or grow on your own. We've landed on calling them chemovars to try to help people remember that it's the chemical profile of the plant, the balance of CBD, THC, whatever you have in there.

Plus maybe terpenes plus other stuff that's happening. That it's the chemicals that are making you feel that way. So that's why we call it a chemovar. And we teach our students specifically, don't say the word strain. Strains mean nothing. Like I personally think strains are bunk. I like go on this like big tirade about how strain names are bunk.

Andrea Meharg: And I've even had the people from strain print come in and they independently collect data on all different types of cannabis. The, kind of like sword in my tool belt that I like wield is the screenshot I have of, him showing me 13 types of blue dream from different producers that all come with accompanying lab tests.

And some of them are labeled sativa and some of them are labeled indica and some of them are labeled hybrid, but then they also produce different effects and I'm like, see blue dream. It doesn't mean anything. So I live and die on the hill that strain names don't matter at all.

Andrea Meharg: And then I started taking this class with Jason Wilson from Curious about Cannabis, which is one of my favorite cannabis books and it's this like super nerdy class. And he brings on guest lecturers to talk to us. And our very first lecturer is Dr. Anna Schawbe. And she comes out with like guns blazing and she's all strain names are a thing and you should use them and I will fight you if, you don't agree with me. And she's like the woman to ask because of her background. So I wanna just read your bio so that people can see why you're the one to come out with guns blazing and, have this conversation.

Who is Dr. Anna Schawbe and Why is She The Lady to Tell Us About Strain Names?

Andrea Meharg: Dr. Anna Schwabe is a population geneticist whose expertise is in cannabis science and education. She's an associate professor at the University of Colorado where she co-teaches modern cannabis science with Dr. Daniela Vergara. She's an established presenter and an invited speaker in the cannabis industry and has published several peer reviewed research articles in cannabis.

Dr. Schwabe is one of a handful of people who have a PhD specific to non hemp type cannabis. And she leveraged her background in population genetics to build her own PhD program at the University of Northern Colorado. She answered questions concerning variation in cannabis, particularly in the new legal market.

She's especially passionate about cannabis science education and facilitating consistency in the cannabis industry. So you. Have actually done research on actually this question. So thank you for coming on and being willing to talk to me about this and to be able to share your knowledge with the YouTube world.

Why Does this Ph.D. Scientist Love Strain Names?

Andrea Meharg: And I actually want to, I wanna dive right in there if that's okay with you. So can you tell us about why, are you willing to die on this hill?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: The first thing that comes to mind is. The majority of people know and call the different kinds of cannabis that have names, strains. So it's already a word that's widely used.

And I, feel like different people use cannabis for different things. Of course, if you're using it for medicine, you need to know what, is in that product. But we're talking about a plant here and plants have variation. It's not a pharmaceutical where pharmaceuticals have specific formulations.

It's a plant. So we're gonna have variation in that plant product. Especially when you're growing it in different kinds of environments. And that could be different areas of the, country or different areas of the globe, or when we're talking about indoor cannabis, every grower has a different regime of nutrients and light and watering and all that.

And all of those things are gonna feed into creating variation in the plant. And it doesn't matter if you have a clone or if you have a clone, it doesn't really matter. Because that environmental component is going to change the profile of the cannabis, which comes back to that idea of chemovars, which you are talking about.

And so the chemovar idea is Dr. Ethan Russo talks a lot about chemovars and that we need to know what the chemical makeup of the, product is in order to for medicinal use. But. Not everybody uses it like that. Not everybody is using it as a, pharmaceutical type of of product.

A lot of people are just using it for anxiety, stress to relax at the end of the day, for fun for whatever purpose. And in that case, I feel like the variation in the chemical makeup of the, plant is not as important. It's of course still important, but not as important, you don't need it to be very specific.

Think of Strains like Types of Grapes

Dr. Anna Schawbe: If we were talking about apples, let's say, or grapes. A grape variety grown in France or Italy, it's gonna be different than the same grape from the same plant even. It's gonna be different from something that's grown napa valley. And, we know that, and we know that they produce different kinds of wine, even though they're at the exact same grape. And we will call it a Chardonnay, but then you slap a label on it and say, this was grown in Italy. And this was grown in California. There's gonna be a difference in those two things because of the environment.

It's not necessarily, they were different grapes. So I feel like this needs to be thought about a little. And in terms of a chemovar, the other problem that I have with chemovar is that what we're doing is we're take, we're taking it a chemical test and using that to profile the plant.

Are Lab Tests Measuring What We Need?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: But the thing about it is, that we don't measure all of the chemicals in the plant. We only take the most abundant ones. So the most abundant cannabinoids and the most abundant terpenes. And that means that we're assuming that abundance equates to potency, which we know isn't the case. You can have incredibly small amounts of certain chemicals that pack a very big punch

T HCP for example, in the last couple of years is said to be 30 times more potent than THC. So are we measuring THCP in our chemical profiles? No, we're not. So I feel like we are just by, by, simplifying it like that, we're just replacing something that is flawed with another flawed method of trying to categorize these things because we never take the whole entire profile of the whole, entire chemical makeup of the plant.

And I feel like we're missing a lot and, flavanoids and other constituents in the chemical profile aren't even measured. We're just taking cannabinoid and terpenes and saying, these are the most important things. These are the things that are gonna affect you the most and only the things in abundance are lending to your experience.

And that's not the case. At least I don't think that's the case. I, think we're missing a lot.

Dr. Schawbe is a Scientist Looking Out for the End Consumer

Andrea Meharg: So one of the things that I really liked about listening to you talk was that even though you're a scientist, your lens is very much, how does this impact the end to consumer? What does the person on the other end, what are they gonna get from all the like nerdy science stuff that's happening here?

And you fight back a little bit about how people in the cannabis community often say Hey, we have the research here. This is the way it is. But people who are actually using cannabis and have been for their whole lives are saying like, actually, no it's, this other way.

And there's this maybe resistance to, to bridge the gap. But I see you as a beautiful bridge that you're looking out for the end user while doing this kind of work.

How Did Dr. Schawbe Get Into Cannabis? (Especially as a barrier-breaking badass woman!)

Andrea Meharg: Can you talk to me about your entrance into the cannabis space or into the cannabis research space, especially cuz you're breaking some barriers here, right? You're a woman in the cannabis science field who has your PhD. And when you say non hemp cannabis, you mean in like you were studying THC, which is that doesn't happen very much. Plus you were studying THC containing products that are actually out on the market, as opposed to from the university lab of, I think Mississippi or Missouri or something. Plus you have pink hair. So tell me about, your trajectory.

Dr. Anna Schawbe: I'll try to keep this story short, but it's a long story. So I've always been interested in cannabis. My first round in college, I didn't graduate, but I was there for five years and I took all of the classes, drugs in the human body and any, and anything to do with drugs.

I took the class drugs and psychology and I read all the books and of course I had friends that grew so I've always been interested in cannabis, but never, did I think I would end up where I am today. So when I went back to school, I worked in a, in the plant population's genetics lab and I got my master's degree plant population genetics.

And then I went to work at the Denver Botanic gardens where I ran their conservation research lab. And in my lab, I had a volunteer who was getting into the cannabis industry, right when Colorado had just legalized adult youth cannabis and we would have conversations. And one of the things that kind of stuck with me is that he was confused why they like, we'll just stick with blue dream because everybody has heard of that. So he was confused as to why his, the blue dream that they were growing at their facility was not the same as all of the none of the dispensaries had the same blue dream and he, and I was like you, guys use clones?

Cause I already knew that. And he is yeah. Is there a way to figure out if we all have the same stuff or if if there's different things floating around. And so that's where I developed the idea for my PhD was what is going on out there?

What, is being sold across the counter? Is the blue dream at one dispensary, the same as the blue dream at another dispensary. And if not, how different are they? And yes everything I did for my research was from a consumer perspective, we didn't grow anything. We weren't testing our own products. We didn't have somebody growing for us. When I walked into a dispensary, I didn't say, Hey, I'm a scientist and I'm researching cannabis. I didn't want anybody to know what was going on. I just would purchase whatever they had on the shelf too. I didn't ask, Hey, do you have some blue dream in the back? Just whatever they had on the shelf. And as I was going to all these different dispensaries And seeing what was around. I was able to accumulate multiples of various strains.

cannabis coaching institute, cannabis coach, cannabis jobs

How Did Dr. Schawbe Get Permission to Study THC-Rich Cannabis?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And I was allowed to do this research with the same mentor that I had while I was doing my master's degree. He didn't wanna do it at first. He didn't want to be that guy, the weed guy. But he did he caved, he loves me. And he was like he was very clear. He was like, I don't know anything about cannabis. I don't know where to get funding for any of your projects. I am not gonna be the weed guy.

You're gonna be the weed girl. I'm just gonna be here to make, sure that you don't go crazy and guide you through your program. And so that's how I got started. And yeah, and the university, because it was a smaller university, we were able to cut through the red tape and the university allowed me to do cannabis research with the stipulation that I wouldn't bring any smokeable product onto campus. So I had to do a work around where I would purchase the samples and do like a pre extraction prep, and then take that to school after it had like soap and stuff added to it where nobody would wanna smoke it.

So we, it was a lot of thinking outside of the box and also raising money to do what I did was also. A little challenging we got it done, in four years. And I even had more that didn't make it into my dissertation cause I wanted to graduate and I was right.

So pretty pretty short time to do a PhD in. So it was good that got so much in such a short time.

Andrea Meharg: And tell us what you found. What was the results of your PhD?

The Big Question: When you go to different dispensaries and you purchase the same thing, are you actually getting the same thing?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: Yeah, so this was the, first the, big first question was when you go to different dispensaries and you purchased the same thing, are you actually getting the same thing? And I was able to amass 122 sample in 30 different strains. So like for example, I had, I think nine samples of blue dream, like nine samples of Durban, poison the ones that were really popular at the time, I was able to get more samples.

Some of the strains, they only had two, but in 27 of the 30 strains, there was at least one genetic outlier, meaning that they weren't the same. So like blue dream, for example, since that's our favorite go to seven of the eight samples that I had in blue dream were pretty much genetically identical, but there was one that was completely not blue dream.

Andrea Meharg: So can we unpack that for a sec? I really wanna make sure that everybody understands what that means. So you picked up nine blue dreams off the shelf and eight of them when you look at their DNA, they look like, Hey, we're the exact same plant. We're like, clones. Is that fair? Okay. And then one of them was not the same kind. Can you give us the, like an apple or tomato analogy? I liked them both.

Think Of Strain Names Like Apple Names

Dr. Anna Schawbe: So you go to the grocery store and you're looking at the granny Smith, apple. You have an expectation of what a granny Smith apple is? They probably all came from the same tree, or at least from the same place, but in that big old bin of granny Smith apples, there is a red one that's not a granny Smith, apple, like it's not just a red granny Smith, apple, it's not a granny Smith, apple it's completely different than all of the other.

So that's what we were looking at with with these strains, we were looking at a bin of different cannabis samples and, we'd only use one flower. So like when when you go to the dispensary and you get like a little canister and there's several little flowers in there, we made sure that we were only taking DNA from a single flower.

So we knew we were getting one individual from the same plant. It wasn't from different plants or whatever. So yeah, we're looking at a bit of your, granny Smith, apples, and one of those apples was definitely not a granny Smith apple.

Can You Just Look at A Strain and Know What It Is?

Andrea Meharg: Except for if you're an inexperienced cannabis consumer or just a cannabis consumer who can't tell what blue dream is supposed to look like in nug form, which is, I would say the vast majority of us, you wouldn't know that you, what you purchased from the dispensary, right? You think most people would know?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: It depends. Where was your first experience with blue dream? Was your first experience with something that wasn't genetically blue dream. And so from then on you thought that all of the other things were not blue dream. Like you wouldn't know if you had always called granny, smith apples, if you'd always thought they were golden, delicious apples, and then you did get a golden, delicious apple. You'd be like this, isn't a golden delicious apple, because this is not the golden delicious that I have experienced before, but you wouldn't know that you were wrong.. And the other thing is I only looked at well for this study I only looked at the genetic component. So I don't know what the phenotype of these plants were. It could be the that Fuji, apples and gala apples look very similar to each other. They don't taste the same, but they look very similar.

So it could be that one of those the, one that was genetically different, it could have been chemically very similar to the other blue dreams and it got mislabeled because it was so similar.

Do We Need to Lab Test AND Genetically Test Our Cannabis To Know What We're Getting?

Andrea Meharg: That's where things get really sticky for me sometimes in my head, because this is what I was asking you in our email conversation back and forth. I was like, does this mean that not only do we have to find lab tests if I'm using this, if I'm not just like a Friday night user, if I'm using this to control depression, which is what I use and I'm going to seek it out does this mean I need to find first a place that has lab tested cannabis so I can get a breakdown of the cannabinoids terpenes, et cetera, in there, even though that might not be a good actual predictor of how that's gonna make my fee, make me feel. Plus I also need a genetic test? Like I need all of this in order to figure out.

Genetic Testing Isn't New - Other Industries Are Already Doing This

Dr. Anna Schawbe: Yeah. It makes your head spin. That's, this can be so insane. And how, do you figure it out? How do you know what you should be purchasing from a dispensary? Back before genetic tools were invented, this same problem was rampant in olives, in in grapes, right?

People had exactly the same grape with two different names. People had completely different grapes with the same name. And there was all kinds of stuff going on and, genetic tools came along and some folks got together and said, we need to figure this out because this is crazy. So let's start genotyping and, okay.

Okay. So this grape is the exact same as this grape. You, guys have this same grape these guys registered at first or whatever. So you have to change your name to this name and it all got sorted out for the most part, I think. And I think that's where we're at in the cannabis industry. There is a, it is a very messy situation with things floating around that are misnamed mislabeled. They're, not what you think they are, but actually having eight of those blue dream samples that were really, identical, that's pretty good. And, the kinds of work that I've done Phylos did a lot of it too.

And and, Medicinal Genomics does too, where you can see where something if something is an outlier or not. So this wouldn't be something for the consumer necessarily to concern themselves with. But I do think that breeders and growers and cultivators need to be able to genotype what they are getting from, a supplier to check to see we bought what we thought was blue dream and it either comes a genetic analysis showing some kind of something to show yes, we've verified that this is that. Or they do it themselves to make sure, yes, this is that. Then once you've got the same starting material and, you've got what you think you have, and you've got the right label on it, then you can start saying, okay, this is the chemical profile of what this plant should be.

But Genetically Identical Clones Can Still Turn Out Vastly Different From Each Other

Dr. Anna Schawbe: Again, then you also run into the problem with the environment where you could, you can come out with two completely different things. If you've got two completely different growers with their own special, whatever.

Andrea Meharg: Is that the case? It can be, oh yeah the blue dream that you grow in your environment, even though we know, because we have genetic testing that it's the same, yours can be completely different than mine because of our grow practices. Yeah. Chemically?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: Yeah. And that was one of the, that was part of my research as well. I partnered up with Avery Gilbert, who is a scent scientist because I wanted to know, all right, so we know these things are not genetically the same, so what's going on here?

Are they being mislabeled because somebody thought that was blue dream because of the way it smelled and looked and stuff like. Or is it completely different? And somebody just put a blue dream label on it for a quick sale or whatever the case may be. So we did some some human we, threw in some humans and we wanted them to smell the cannabis, to see if they could sniff out or detect through their, senses.

Can People Detect Genetically Different Strains With Our Noses?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: Could they detect when there was something genetically different and yes, they can. So it seems to me that these, things that aren't labeled incorrectly, don't they don't smell the same. We didn't ask people to smoke cuz that's unethical. But I mean it's not unethical, but it's really hard to get approval, take stuff.

And so then I wanted to know, okay, that's people smelling things and, it was a call out on social media who wants to participate in the study. They weren't experts just regular everyday Joe's saying what they could smell. So I was like, okay, so let's do some actual chemical analysis.

Let's see how different these things are from one. And like I had some Durban poisons that were genetically identical. I had blue dreams that were genetically identical, but the, actual chemicals that I think was nine cannabinoids and 21 terpenes, huge amounts of variation in these things that were genetically identical.

And they were from different places across the front range. Completely different growth facilities. And. And when I looked at, when, what Leafly says is the major terpene, and let's say blue dream for the four for the four strains that I matched, that was never the case. Like they said, terpinoline was the major the major terpene in one of these and it was beta caryophellene, or they said it was pinene and it was myrcene. That was the major one. So and, Leafly in California. So I, don't know where they grab all their data from, but they put up on there, but that could be the difference between strains grown in California versus strains grown in Colorado.

Does Lab Testing Even Mean Anything By The Time it Gets to the End Consumer?

Andrea Meharg: Then I was thinking too, when you were talking, I was like, and also that's the testing when it leaves like the testing facility, rather than by the time it gets to the store shelf and then you store it improperly and then you leave it like ground up and you're cupboard like, that's also different. So going back to, how can we use this information to help the everyday consumer and in my lens, a little bit like the medical or the people who are using this to treat conditions, what can we do? What's your suggestion to like regular people.

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And then's a step beyond the time between when it was tested and the time of consumption There's another layer on top of that when you light it on fire and inhale it into your lungs, that's not what the test was testing.

The test was testing what was in the flower when you light it on fire and draw it into your lung. Is that the chemical profile that you're inhaling? Probably not. I'm guessing most of those are burned off before they even make it, and then what happens when it gets into your endocannabinoid system and how are you set up and where is your tolerance level?

Andrea Meharg: What time of the month is it like, are you a man or are you a woman? Are you stressed?

Is Terpene Research Even Valid in Cannabis?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: Most of the research that's out there on terpenes based on other plants, obviously ingestion and aroma. It's not based on inhalation. I know that Miyabe Shields and her group are doing analyses on smoke and trying to extract things from smoke and that's awesome research, but I've never seen any research on what happens when you light it on fire. What happens when it gets to your lungs? What crosses that membrane and gets into your blood? When it does go into your blood, where does it go? What receptors does it interact with? Like I, and I honestly, I haven't researched this very deeply, but I'm, we're putting a lot of emphasis on terpenes, right now. But I don't know where this emphasis is coming from. I know it all interacts together, but I feel like that's about as much as we can say And it might not even be the terpenes, it could be flavonoids it could be alkenes or any of the other hundreds of chemicals that cannabis produces.

We're just assuming it's terpenes. And we're running with that. And I'm like, but wait a second. we don't know.

Is THC Even The Driver Of Experience? What are We Missing?

Andrea Meharg: I really liked what you said too about just because we're measuring for THC doesn't mean that's the compound that's making you feel the way that you do, for example, and using that THCP analysis to illustrate that metaphor. If you haven't heard of THCP, like Dr. Schwabe said it was discovered, quote unquote, about three years ago, and it's 30 times more potent than THC in this, particular study. So people freaked out, right? Oh my God this is gonna, this is gonna ruin the world.

But is that maybe the reason why your one blue dream made you feel this way and your other blue dream made you feel a different way? Did this one have the tiniest little bit more of THCP in it that the lab didn't test. And so you have no idea.

Dr. Anna Schawbe: There are so many cannabinoids and most of them are, first of all, most of them are not even included in the panels. We're only we're only measuring a few. And as far as I know, most states are only requiring THC, sometimes CBD and then some labs are adding some of the other components. We're not looking for anything minor. That would be really expensive. Yeah. so we know exactly what we're looking for, which we don't.

Does High THC cannabis work better than others?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And we know that we know now, or we're starting to realize like THC is not the thing that does the thing you can have cannabis that is very potent or at least that's what it says on the label. But a lot of people get a heavier. They, get more of an impact from something with 12% THC.

It's not, it doesn't really matter the strengths of the the amount of THC that doesn't seem to be the thing that's really packing and punch. So that brings a lot of questions up for me. All right. THC is there cool, but that's not the, thing and it could be always a combination. But until we find the thing we don't, we are not answering these questions very well.

I don't think in my humble opinion.

Andrea Meharg: I love it. I hadn't thought about that too. Like we are, we might just be looking covered the endocannabinoid system 30 something years ago. So is there a whole other system that we don't know about? I don't think that's the thing, but there again, so much that we don't know.

I was just saying that it's because of people like you, that we even have some of the research on the real actual substances that we're using anyway, because you went out and fought to get funding for, research for this.

Dr. Schawbe Had to be Scrappy to Do this Research

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And I didn't even get funding for most of my funding. It was myself. My mentor had some so when we would send in samples for send in DNA or I don't wanna get into the technicals of it, but a lot of times we had like empty slots and so he would just let me fill up the slots cause we'd have to pay for a whole plate anyway.

So if we had 18 empty slots, he'd be like, okay, throw your stuff on on with this one, which is already paid for you're paying for it anyway. So there was a lot of fining like that and then internal grants. So I had to apply to the school. In the university for various research grants and things like that.

And then I had some, I had a little bit of money come in from some crowdsourcing and things like that, but it was interesting trying to get money. Yeah, but that's the reason that I didn't, so people always ask me, like, why didn't you do whole genome sequencing or next gen sequencing some of these more advanced genetic tools.

Part of the reason is cause it's expensive and I didn't have any funding and and the and, the second part is, I don't need that, that I don't need that level of genetic analysis to be able to determine whether two things are identical or not. And the tool that I use, it's relatively cheap now.

And it's what they use for DNA fingerprinting, for all kinds of crops varieties. That's how they figured out issue with olives and grapes. And when go and, take your new tomato variety to get registered and you take some sort of genetic data to show that your tomato is different than all these other tomatoes.

So you have to have more than just genetic data you'd have your flavor profile and your morphology and your genetic data. This is the kind of tool that they use to show differences between different varieties, which is exactly what I needed to show. That's why I didn't use some of those more what do I wanna say?

I wanna say they're better. They're just different genetic tools, more advanced Kind of tools.

Andrea Meharg: I'm glad that we circled back here, cuz I have a couple of questions about what it means for generations of growers who have been secretly growing plants and hiding their genetics and keeping their genetics for good reasons.

Like they worked hard for these. What does it mean for them to have this kind of genetic testing? Is this gonna is this blow up old school growers and all the things that they think are happening. A that's my first question and B isn't there some worry that somebody like Monsanto can come in and be like, oh, by the way, this is my particular cannabis strain and you can like, you guys can't grow this kind of thing?

What kind of problems and implications does genetic testing open up in the cannabis industry specifically?

Andrea Meharg: What kind of problems implications does genetic testing open up in the cannabis industry specifically?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: So I, I don't think that genetic testing opens up any kind of problem. Genetic testing is done to protect growers and breeders.

The issue is not to have it genetically tested. The issue is that right now, because cannabis is still illegal, at least in the us. Different situation in can Canada. In the us it's still illegal. So you can't just go to the plant protection variety office and say, here's my new variety of cannabis.

I would like to register it because, Nope, sorry. We don't register illegal plants here. And this is why the, I think the The research that I did and having different kinds of blue dream and things that don't genetically match. Part of the reason for that is because cannabis has been illegal and there has been no way to register and certify and catalog different types of cannabis.

That's why we've been it's that's why we clone things because there is no incentive for a breeder to do all of the work. Traditionally required to make a new chemovar. If you wanna make a new tomato, it's gonna take generations of that crossing and in breeding to make sure that you get stable genetics.

Why would you do all that work if you can't protect your creation? So, you just take two plants that you like, you crossing, you do a pheno hunt, you pick a couple of good ones and, implo it and give it to your friends or whatever. That's how cannabis has been for a long time.

So now with genetic testing there is a couple of problems that I can see, but for the most part, it should when cannabis, breeders and growers are able to get their creations cataloged data based, registered, whatever the case may be, then those breeder when they start getting breeder rights I, think it'll be better for the growers.

And that's what Phylos was trying to do when they started their, galaxy. They were trying to get like a paper trail going for different breeders and growers that had these genetics and they put 'em in the, galaxy. You could see, yes, it's very similar to this or no it's really different.

This is very unique. And you have your, name and everything connected to that genetic data. And Medicinal Genomics does the same thing where they have you get to register and has your name. And so there's like a paper trail who, owns this, who does this belong to?

Genetic Testing Isn't Free From Manipulation Either!

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And but the thing about that is, is like you have to take a sample and you send in your sample. Where does that sample come from? You don't have to prove that it's yours. So for example, I could go down to the dispensary and buy all the things that they don't have in one of these databases and send it all in and say, all of these are mine when they're not huh.

Which I think is a problem. But I do feel like genetic testing is going to help the industry, not only with making sure that customers are getting what they think they're getting when they purchase something, but also to start, get bringing some protections for breeds. And so it is a little bit concerning with Monsanto gets their hands on it and does, but I mean there's room for everybody.

Like they can create their own strains if they want to as well, they can create their own whatevers. These private companies that are taking all this data. They're private companies. So at any point they could decide to sell to somebody like Monsanto. So I feel like the industry needs to start protecting themselves and myself and Danielle Vergara are working towards trying to get she, she has a nonprofit organization trying to get this nonprofit organization in.

Data collection and have the data belong to everybody. Cause you can't sell a nonprofit organization. It would belong to everybody. And I think that would also help protect all of the folks who have been working so hard growing these plants for decades. Yeah.

We Owe So Much To Legacy Cannabis Breeders

Andrea Meharg: Yeah, so that you and I can sit here and talk about it. I say this all the time. Like we stand on the shoulders of people who have risked everything in lots of cases so that we can talk about nerdy stuff. Yeah. That's great that you feel like it's gonna be a positive step forward for people who have been in this space for a long time.

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And we are definitely like, definitely Daniela and I are super respectful of everybody who has worked so hard to get where we are today. And we wanna give back to these people who have been plant touching for so long. Like we're, just scientists. We just walked in the room, yeah. And I hate that there are some scientists working on cannabis like the whole, there's no such thing as indica and sativa.

Is There Such Thing as Satvia and Indica? (Dr. Schawbe is Taking on ALL the Fights!)

Dr. Anna Schawbe: I'm like, but wait a second. Okay. So morphology doesn't match chemo type, but that doesn't mean that all these people saying there's this type of cannabis and there's this type of cannabis. And I can tell the difference. We can't just turn around and say, Nope, sorry, you're wrong? Like how rude, what it means is that we haven't found the answer yet.

Andrea Meharg: Yeah, I really like that. Cuz I am one of those people. Who's thinks there's no such thing. And when you said that it really stuck in my head because I, this is one of my favorite lessons to teach at the Cannabis Coaching Institute is this there's no strain names and indica and sativa mean nothing, cuz like students will come at me and be like, no it for sure does.

And we like come to some kind of agreement and balance about how we're gonna talk about it in there. Yeah. We're brand new in a space.

Dr. Anna Schawbe: The, indica/ sativa thing. Yes. Okay. So, we know these, so it first started with taxonomists talking about, this is an indica type morphology, and this is a sativa type morphology.

And this grows here and this grows here, come to find out the chemo types of these plants really have nothing to do with the growth morphology. That's fine. That's called pheno plasticity. We see it in lots of different kinds of plants and it really. More to do with the environment the plant is growing in than anything else.

Okay. That's fine. And honestly, consumers don't need to know what the plant looked like while it was growing. What the consumers are talking about is effects. So we were talking about indica and sativa in a dispensary. We're talking about effects. And I, like indica because they're broad category.

And there is starting point. And, what I don't like about the indica sativa thing is indica will make you feel like this. And sativa will make you feel like this, because that's not true. And it's not the story for everybody. Yes, some people might have experience couch lock with an indica type strain, and some people might wanna clean the house or get anxiety with a sativa type strain.

But I don't like that. Cause again, experiences are personal and it's the same with any medication like or, alcohol, like not everybody has the same experience. Not everybody likes IPAs. Or, and not everybody likes wine, not everybody likes chocolate cake weirdos

cannabis coaching institute, cannabis coach, cannabis jobs

Don't Like Chocolate Cake? Stop Reading and Watching Now!

Andrea Meharg: they're not allowed to watch.

Dr. Anna Schawbe: I feel like we, can step back and we can say, this is an indica type, and this is a sativa type. And then let people experience those two different types and come to their own conclusions about how they feel about those two different types, whether they like them or not, whether they have a preference to consume one or the other at night versus the morning and, things like that.

Why Your Favourite Cannabis Isn't My Favorite Cannabis

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And I, think it's really funny that we do this in cannabis, but we don't really do that with other things. If I went to a restaurant with you and I'd never been I'd never had pizza before and you were like I love ham and pineapple pizza and you're gonna love it too.

It's you don't know what I like. And I actually, I like pineapple. I like ham. I like pizza. I do not like those things together. So what is one? What, gives somebody joy? Doesn't give everybody joy. And we can't presume that to be true. And we don't really do that with anything else.

You wouldn't go into a liquor store and the bartender says this beer will make you sleepy. And this tequila will make you get your clothes off that they're gonna ask you some questions, right? They're gonna say. Do you want so bubbly? Do you want something fruity? And they're gonna ask you questions so that they can figure out maybe what some of your preferences are.

So then you can hone in on a product. And I feel like that's how we should be approaching cannabis and up until very recently, people really haven't been doing that. It's indica, is this and Sativa's then what? Yeah, no. Let people make up their own minds and, create their own preferences.

Andrea Meharg: I really like how you're about simplifying it back. Tell me, like, how are you finding indica and sativa helpful again?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: They're just broad categories with nothing attached to them. So like, beer and wine, for example you know what beer looks like, and once you taste it, you know what beer tastes but you, can't like You shouldn't tell people how they're gonna feel about it, how it will make you feel here's wine.

Okay. Comes in bottles. It's clear. But you don't know if you like wine or not, until you tried it. You don't know how it's gonna affect you until you've tried it.

How Using Cannabis is Similar To Using Prescriptions

Andrea Meharg: You're saying, don't say indica equates this at all. Even if we believe it or not, you're saying, go try it and let me know how you feel.

Dr. Anna Schawbe: Yeah. So let people smell it. See if you don't like the smell of something, chances are, you're not really gonna like it. So if you let people smell it and if they don't know at all what they like say, okay there's, here's an indica. Here's a Sativa. They usually affect people pretty differently.

Go home, see how you feel. See if you like it, see if it does the job for whatever you're looking for. And then here try a hybrid because it's got a mixed effect and you might like that. You need to let people land where they land on their own instead of pushing them. And it's hard when people are looking for medicine cuz they're looking I, want something for migraines and it's okay, let's try some things out and see if any of these things help you. Because we don't know how these things are going to affect you personally with your personal chemistry, et cetera, cetera. And it's not really that far fetched of an idea.

If you go to a doctor's office for depression, let's say they're gonna give you a medication, whatever they think will work with you, they're gonna give it to. You might come back three weeks later and say, you know what, I've gained 15 pounds. I've broken out. I can't sleep at night. This, sucks.

If the doctor's gonna write you a different prescription and say, try this, okay, this is better. But I still I just, I'm still pretty sad. Like I still feel depressed. Okay. Let's up the dosage. Okay. And then, okay let's add in this other medication, maybe these two generally do well for some people.

Let's see how you react to this and, you you have to go through some trials and tribulations before you actually Le land on the thing that works for you. And we should be treating cannabis the same way. It, is. It's a far, it's a medicine, and it's not, you don't just hit it on one, go with the dosage and the type and all that.

Like you've got so many different choices. Experience some different things and find out what works for you. And, even the time of the day, what you ate, like all those things can can other medications that you're on, all kinds of things can play. I think Jason says, if you are really looking for a specific effect and you don't have Somebody helping you through the process, keep a diary, find out keep a diary of what you ate, what you smoked when you smoked it.

All that stuff. It's like you're figuring out your own pharmaceutical

Andrea Meharg: that's why people hire cannabis coaches. That's why Corinne started the Cannabis Coaching Institute was because this is a process. And you, although it's a process that many of us are familiar with in the pharmaceutical space because the doctors there telling you it's okay, then you feel a little bit better.

Why Using Cannabis Is Medicine Is The Best

Andrea Meharg: I think the most beautiful thing about cannabis is that you can play around with it. It's an extremely safe medicine that you can use with a really high safety profile. So you can experiment with two more drops one day and see how you feel and write it down. And if you just try cannabis and pay attention, you'll have a very good idea of what works for you and what doesn't work for you quickly.

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And then there's smoking versus edibles like smoking. Is way too strong for me. If I'm smoking, it's gonna be majority of CBD type flower maybe with a little THC, but it hits me really hard and, it affects me negatively. I don't really like it, so I don't tend to smoke, but edibles on the other hand are usually okay, but I know not to take too much cuz that can also really suck.

Like I, I had to try some, things. And in terms of smoking people have said to me oh, you just haven't had the right strain yet. And I'm like I'm not willing to put myself through that. I just will steer clear of that high THC. If I was allergic to cheese and it made me feel sick every time I ate it I'm not gonna try all the cheeses just to see if there's one out there that doesn't make me sick.

Andrea Meharg: Especially, cuz you don't have to only eat cheese like we, we have so many different ways of taking cannabis, so we're not just limited to smoking. Yeah. Okay to close out. Cause I know you're a busy lady.

We will link to where you can reach her down below her website, LinkedIn, et cetera. Tell us what else you're excited about.

Can We Trust the Numbers on Lab Tests?

Dr. Anna Schawbe: The labeling issue. Where labs are, inflating THC numbers. I actually have a, paper in review right now from a consumer perspective, looking at the THC that's printed on the label versus an actual in, third party lab test.

That makes me because first of all, people. Purchasing things that, that they're not they think that they're getting something and they're paying for it, but that's not what they're getting. And, it also, so it undermines labs that want to do the right things. That are trying to be accurate and do good things.

And it's also the cannabis industry already cannabis has already gone through enough. It's taboo enough. It's been changed enough. It's been dragged through and not enough. And then this industry already comes with some pretty negative things and to start lying about the products and what is in the jar.

Like we shouldn't be doing that. We need to do better than that. We need to be transparent. We need to be truthful. We need to be genuious to our consumers and if we're lying about what, people are purchasing how, do we get trust? How can they trust that there's no pesticides or heavy metals or anything else in their product?

Andrea Meharg: I'm glad that you mentioned that that could be a whole other hour long interview about the problems with lab testing.

Dr. Schwabe Weighs in on Synthetic Cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And the other thing that pisses me off.

Andrea Meharg: Oh yeah. Go

Dr. Anna Schawbe: All the all synthetic cannabinoids that they're making with CBD I don't think that any of the cannabinoidsare bad necessarily. However, they're making large quantities of cannabinoids that are not found in, abundance in nature, Delta eight, for example

Andrea Meharg: yes, you can get a little bit of it.

Dr. Anna Schawbe: And people are saying "cannabinoids have been taken through centuries and they're safe" and all that. I'm like not the ones that are basically synthetic drugs. And not only that they're taking a legal, this is in the us, a legal drug that has been approved by the FDA and turning it into a different drug.

And I am not a lawyer. But I feel like that's not legal. . So I don't know where all that's going. If they're gonna keep doing this, I think there needs to be regulation on it, just because as it is in the CBD world, it's unregulated, they don't have to test it. And it some of the, transformations to get CBD into another molecule uses some pretty nasty chemicals and can create some other stuff too in the process that we don't know what they are and what they do. So I feel like right now it's that and people are there's a lot of people who just assume that it's safe because it's from CBD it's from hemp. And there's a lot of misinformation and sketchy stuff going on.

And that really makes me mad because consumers in general are pretty trusting that what they're being given is what they're being given. If it says that if it's on the shelf, it has to have gone through testing. It has to be safe. And we know that's not the case.

The poor consumers. And because I'm a scientist and I'm curious all the time, of course I buy these things and I take them just to see what happens. almost every time I take something with Delta eight in it, the next day I have a stomach ache, and I can only think that it's because of some of these either byproducts or residual solvents or something, and they're hurting my tummy.

Cause I do edibles, I don't smoke it.

Why Andrea Thinks Vaping and Smoking Delta-8 is So Scary

Andrea Meharg: That's what I was just gonna say is that one of the things that really bothers me about the Franken cannabinoids, that's what I call them is that not only are we making them in weird ways and then we're not fully understanding what else we're making in that process and whether we've gotten all the residual solvents, for example, back out.

But then in most cases, these are being sprayed onto a flower or put into a vape pen and then we're vaporizing them into our lungs too. Like it's not even like we're using the digestive system to help buffer some of what might be going on there. We're just vaping it right into our lungs. Yeah, I'm right with you on those ones, they scare the hell outta me.

We knew this was gonna go longer than we thought. So I'm so grateful to you that you gave me some of your time. Yeah, it's been great talking to you. People can reach out to you on all the links that you sent me. So if they wanna ask you nerd cannabis science questions. Thanks so much for being here with us. If you like this video, make sure that you hit and subscribe. It really does help the YouTube algorithm to show this video to more people who could benefit by it and make sure again, that you check out all the links to the other awesome interviews with experts that I get to do.

And I'll see you next time.

cannabis coaching institute, cannabis coach, cannabis jobs


bottom of page