As the cannabis industry rapidly grows, the need for more and better data about the product is growing clear. The plant features a complex and intricate chemical profile can vary widely from strain to strain, and the effects themselves can vary based on both the chemical profile of the plant and the individual consuming it.
As such, before the medical community can truly nail down consistent and proper dosage directed at relieving specific symptoms, there needs to be a revolution in the way the entire industry collects and analyzes data both about the make-up of each plant and how that make-up affects the people taking it.
Daniel Yazbeck, chairman and CEO of MyDx (OTCQB:MYDX), a company that produces handheld testing devices that can test the chemical make-up of air, water, and other substances, including cannabis, is passionate about how better testing and more complete data can help revolutionize the way consumers interact with the cannabis industry.
EQ: What can you tell us about the way that the different profiles of chemical compounds and cannabinoids can make for an entirely different experience for the people consuming them?
Daniel Yazbeck: Cannabis is one of the most complicated molecules out there, chemically speaking. There’s about 400-plus different chemicals found in cannabis, mainly broken on into three categories: cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. The combinations of these different cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids will impact the ultimate effect on your mind and body.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a cannabinoid, is the psychoactive agent, for example. But there’s also myrcene, which is a terpene. It actually regulates the uptake of THC in your body along with acting as a muscle relaxant among other effects. CBN, another cannabinoid, is a sedative and it's a degradation product of THC.
Long story short, you have to look at a broader chemical profile found in cannabis and associate that with a feeling or ailment relief based on the individual consumer. That's exactly what MyDx does. It scans a broader chemical profile of your sample and predicts how it will make you feel. And when you save that data, the MyDx device becomes smarter at predicting how something should make you feel based on your previously recorded data.
EQ: What sort of applications do you think this is going to have in the medical cannabis industry?
Daniel Yazbeck: For our device, we have four major classes of customers: manufacturers, distributors, consumers and regulators.
Manufacturers are the growers or the cultivators. They want to grow and harvest a consistent product at the right time and we have a device that helps them do that so that they can enjoy more profits from a higher quality product. A producer can say “I want to harvest when it has this much THC, at most this much CBN, this much terpene” and do so based on the results of their MyDx test.
Distributors like dispensaries, meanwhile, want to know what they're buying and selling in real time. Assuming the have access to testing, by the time they send something to a lab and get results, it might be too late. It’s already been consumed. They can also track how patients are feeling with different strains. Once they can actually start seeing what their patients are experiencing, they can promote their strains based on the feelings they generate and attract new customers through the “recently tested” section of our app.
On the consumer side, people want to know what they're putting in their mind and body, so they want to test it before they consume it. They don’t want their body to be the test subject any more; they want MyDx to help them figure that out. They want to test the profile of different strains, track how that makes them feel, and find the strain profile that works for them. This device was really created for them to begin with.
As for regulators, they want to know what is being made for what consumers and where. Tracking production logs with chemical fingerprints that MyDx can generate is something that we have a lot of requests for and we're working on a real time app to serve this group.
Across the board, manufacturers, distributors, consumers, and regulators are all going to benefit from the MyDx application.
EQ: One concern you hear voiced often surrounding medicinal marijuana is dosing and how medicinal use of marijuana can made safer by being more consistent and quantifiable. How do you see your company contributing to these efforts to track and control dosing?
Daniel Yazbeck: I go back to the fact that we built MyDx, My Diagnostic, and a tracking journal for just this reason. Everybody is going to have a different dosing profile, so it’s all the more important to know what you’re getting before you consume any cannabis.
In the app we have different settings for beginner, intermediate, and expert. Essentially, we started with the suggestion that a beginner should only take 5mg of THC. If you’re an intermediate, maybe you can go up to 10mg. And then if you're an expert, you can go up to 25mg of THC per dose. That was an initial interpretation when we first started, but I don’t think that holds true anymore and it's not across the board. If you have more myrcene, the uptake of THC changes. It’s a very complicated formula. We haven’t figured it out yet. The reality is: if you're a beginner to start low.
For the cannabis flower, it's very difficult to understand that dosing. As you get into edibles, it’s even trickier, because in an edible you have to digest it and process it through your liver, so it's much more extreme if you overdose. If you take 5mg or 10mg or 20mg of THC for an edible, it's a lot more severe, so that dosing becomes more important.
Dosing is a work in progress, let’s put it that way. The take home message is it's very specific to every consumer, so every consumer has to track their own doses and MyDx can help you do that.
EQ: There’s a lot of talk about how big the opportunity is in the testing space. How do think better taste testing and data is going to play a role in the future of the cannabis industry?
Daniel Yazbeck: Obviously, everybody wants to test what they're putting in their body and really fine-tune and tweak what they're using, but I think the most important thing, as you mentioned, is better testing and data. I can generate a test that says this strain has 16% THC and 1% CBD, and I can give you five strains that have 16% THC and 1% CBD, but they can all make you feel completely different. Why? Because there’s a lot more chemicals involved and you've got to look at a total chemical profile of your sample.
I think the better data has to come from feedback from the patients and consumers. If we can empower consumers to say “this made me feel lazy but more intelligent,” or “a little more relaxed and not as anxious,” or “it helped relieve my migraine,” or how it addressed whatever specific symptoms you're tracking, that creates meaningful data. We’re taking all this anecdotal data and converting this into self-quantified data. Quantified self-reported data is what we're after and people want to start tracking this.
I think we make real progress by making this data more consumer friendly, more relevant. The only reason you care about the chemical profile is that you want to know if a particular strain will help me relieve a particular symptom. Basically: did this strain help me feel the way I wanted to feel? Otherwise, who really cares what level of THC is in it? It’s not as though exactly 10mg of THC correlates to 10mg of acetaminophen in Tylenol when dealing with a flower sample. It’s not at that level. It’s not a pharmaceutical extract yet. We'll get there, but for now, if you want to keep this plant in the hands of the people, you need to be able to test the flower and correlate it with feelings.
I think better data is going to come with better feelings associated with it. Improved ailment relief driven by looking at the total chemical profile. That’s what constitutes better data, making sure everybody is going to have a consistent experience with cannabis. They won’t end up taking cannabis that makes them paranoid, because MyDx already predicted it would do that. I think that is where better testing and data is going to be very powerful to the consumers, so that they can make a better decision, enjoy their experience with cannabis more, and avoid the risks associated with the side effects.
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