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A recent article by True Terpenes on LinkedIn has reignited debate on moving beyond the traditional “indica vs. sativa” labels in classifying cannabis strains and products. The article argues these familiar terms are outdated and imprecise, failing to capture the diversity of cannabis compounds and effects. It advocates embracing terpene-based “superclasses” as a more scientifically valid approach aligned with our growing understanding of the entourage effect.
Published on July 18, the article “Indica and Sativa are Dead: The Quest for a New Cannabis Classification System” provides historical context on how the indica and sativa dichotomy emerged, tracing back to the 18th century work of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. It highlights how molecular biology later revealed no actual difference between the two subspecies, yet the familiar labels have persisted in the industry and consumer marketplace.
“Sadly, the cannabis industry at large keeps perpetuating the polytypic indica and sativa myth by labeling products as such, yet at the same time, consumers are becoming more astute to different terpenes and what they do,” the article states.
It points to terpenes as the true differentiating factor determining a strain's effects, working synergistically with cannabinoids through the entourage effect, as posited by Dr. Ethan Russo. New terpene-based classification systems have been proposed as more reliable alternatives aligned with our evolving scientific understanding.
The article argues the time has come to “bury” indica and sativa and fully embrace terpene science in a push towards greater legitimacy and meeting consumer needs. However, the initial comments reveal challenges still remain in transitioning mindsets and terminology.
“As a person who already deals with a very uneducated consumer base maybe we should continue to clarify terpenes and terms before trying to muddle the water further,” wrote Frank Zepeda, a cannabis industry veteran.
This highlights a key tension emerging from the discussion - the need to balance scientific accuracy with approachability as the mainstream consumer base continues expanding. While terpene science holds promise, it may still overwhelm many new consumers being introduced to cannabis. Most are familiar with indica and sativa as shorthand for anticipated effects, even if flawed.
The initial comments lean towards maintaining some simplicity in the recreational market while terpene education efforts continue, rather than fully replacing existing frameworks immediately. However, embracing terpene science more fully could significantly advance personalized, targeted treatments on the medical side, as we deepen understanding of compound interactions and relationships to conditions.
The classification debate remains heated, but a spirit of openness towards change and progress underlies the discussion. The future may hold a hybrid system integrating old and new frameworks tailored to different consumer and patient needs. But for now, the quest continues for the ideal approach balancing scientific accuracy with accessibility - the sweet spot where education empowers yet doesn't overwhelm. The comments indicate there are still miles to go, but the journey of progress is well underway.
Finding the Sweet Spot: Balancing Science and Familiarity in Cannabis Classification
The discussion on LinkedIn highlighted the complex balances involved in transitioning from traditional cannabis classification systems to more scientifically valid frameworks.
True Terpenes argued the familiar “indica vs. sativa” dichotomy is outdated and imprecise, failing to capture the diversity of compounds that shape effects. It advocated fully embracing terpene-based “superclasses” aligned with our growing understanding of the entourage effect through cannabis research.
However, initial reactions indicated that while promising, completely replacing existing frameworks with terpene science could overwhelm and confuse consumers new to cannabis. Most recreational users understand indica and sativa as shorthand for anticipated effects, even if flawed. Retaining some simplicity may be advisable during this transitional period.
This exemplifies the nuanced challenge of balancing scientific accuracy with approachability and intuition as cannabis emerges from the shadows. Progress requires industry-wide collaboration and frameworks tailored to different consumer and patient needs.
Our Solution-Focused Approach
The Cannabis Framework Project was founded to facilitate pragmatic collaboration on these complex issues. Our methodology aims to accelerate mainstream adoption of cannabis by incorporating insights from diverse experts, professionals and consumer groups to build comprehensive frameworks with applicability for real-world implementation.
Our initial undertaking focuses on developing an intuitive classification model and simplified terminology for cannabis products based on their compounds, aromas and related effects. This framework intends to enhance the consumer shopping experience while honoring the plant’s cultural roots.
Future policy frameworks will provide guidance on additional priorities like social equity, environmental sustainability, product testing, labeling and access for patients.
Finding the Balance Through Open Discourse
The classification debate reveals a key tension between scientific validity and consumer mindsets. While terpene science shows immense potential, most newcomers understand indica and sativa as mental shortcuts. A “terpenes 101” hybrid approach may allow consumers to start simply and build knowledge over time.
Our methodology fosters collaborative discourse to find workable balances. By bringing together voices from all sides of these nuanced issues, we can collectively guide cannabis into the mainstream with frameworks tailored to different needs.
Progress happens gradually, but each discussion moves us forward. We invite individuals and organizations across the industry to join our community and help shape inclusive solutions. With openness and pragmatism, we can create an accessible, equitable and sustainable future for cannabis.
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