‘One-size-fits-all’ is an idiom nearly every American adult is familiar with. We use it to describe things that have been standardized. In many cases, it is valid and appropriate. But not so with cannabis. One-size-fits-all is not in the cannabis community’s vocabulary.

Just the plant alone offers a ton of variability. For example, were you aware that both industrial hemp and marijuana are varieties of cannabis? Did you also know that you cannot get high on industrial hemp? Incidentally, this is why referring to marijuana used medicinally as ‘medical cannabis’ is not completely accurate. It is actually misleading.

Different Plant Varieties

It was technically possible to refer to all cannabis varieties without any distinction between them prior to the 2018 Farm Bill. But with that bill came a line of delineation that separates legal hemp from illegal marijuana. That line is THC content.

Cannabis plants with 0.3% or less THC by volume are classified as hemp. Plants with a higher volume are classified as marijuana. But wait. It gets even better.

Cannabis growers looking to sell their plants for human consumption have been extremely busy developing new strains, or cultivars, over the last decade or so. Growers create these new strains through cross breeding and genetic modifications intended to concentrate certain cannabinoids and terpenes. Creating unique cannabinoid-terpene profiles allows them to offer unique products they can brand.

What does this tell the consumer? That just about every cannabis product on the shelf – in a cannabis-legal state, of course – is different from all the others in some way. No two cannabis products are completely identical.

Medical Cannabis Products

When it comes to medical cannabis, products offer different cannabinoid and terpene profiles with the understanding that each profile’s medical benefits are different. For example, Utahmarijuana.org points to chronic pain as the number one reason for applying for a medical cannabis card in Utah. Yet there is no single product that offers maximum pain relief for every patient.

Some patients respond very well to edible cannabis products. Others find more relief from THC vapes. Still others suffer from a kind of pain that is best addressed with a topical CBD lotion. So in addition to different cannabinoid and terpene profiles, medical cannabis patients are also looking at different delivery methods and dosages of CBD and THC.

How do they make sense of it all? By working with their doctors and pharmacists to figure out the best treatment plan. But wait. It gets better still. It is not unusual for patients to have to continually adjust product selection, delivery method, and dosage over multiple years of medicating. That is just the way it goes. Things change.

State Cannabis Laws

The lack of a one-size-fits-all model in cannabis rolls on in the legislative department. At the federal level, marijuana and THC remain illegal. Hemp and CBD are legal nationwide. At the state level, some forty states and the District of Columbia have green-lighted medical cannabis. Nearly twenty have given the okay to recreational marijuana. But guess what? Regulations differ from state to state.

Utah regulations only allow for a total of fifteen medical cannabis pharmacies to serve the state’s entire population. But until recently, Oklahoma had no license limits. There are literally thousands of medical cannabis dispensaries in the Sooner State.

There are so many other variations that it would take multiple posts to discuss them all. It is time to close this one. Here is the main takeaway: almost nothing within the cannabis space is uniform except for marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance. Beyond that, everything else is up in the air.

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