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Science Behind The Smoke

October 28, 2010, 6:02 PM by Austin Hoffman

Science Behind The Smoke

Medicinal marijuana has been legal in Colorado for nearly a decade.  But there's now a new science behind the smoke.

"Basically what we do is we test for safety and potency of medicinal cannabis and medicinal cannabis products," Robery Winnicki, founder of Full Spectrum Laboratory, said.

Winnicki started the lab a little over a year ago. He said because cannabis is grown and not manufactured it can easily become contaminated.

"The amount of bacteria on it can be very high or very low. So we have developed processes in house that allow us to test not just a certain bacteria, many different types and the overall amount of bacteria that's on the product," Winnicki said.

They're also testing for pesticides that may have been used during the growing process. But the real science is in what gives the plant its medical qualities.

"What this is, is testing for the amount of cannabinoids in the plant. Now the cannabinoids are a group of molecules that are only produced in cannabis," Winnicki said.

He said there are 12 of these molecules in marijuana that are medicinally active, THC is just one, and there are hundreds of them in the plant. He currently has the calibrations to test for eight of them.

"What the potency testing really allows you to do is, different cannabinoids, for instance something called CBD had a number of medicinal affects that something THC does not have," Winnicki said.

They can now tell what strain of marijuana is the best for different ailments. But, he said because of restrains on research it's not a perfect science.

"One of the other problems that we have when I say these things is that all of research is not done in a double blind FDA clinically controlled trial. What were dealing with here is anecdotal evidence and observational trials and the literature," Winnicki said.

But Winnicki says this research is helping patients get safe and reliable medication.

Full Spectrum labs is technically a dispensary, but that gives them all the legal rights to do the research.

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