Residents in the Canberra region will be able to anonymously submit their home-grown cannabis for testing in a move which could help drive legalisation in other states and territories.
The Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics will study ACT residents who grow, possess, and use small quantities of cannabis for medicinal and non-medicinal purposes.
Since January 2020, it has been legal for ACT residents aged 18-plus to possess small quantities of cannabis and grow up to two plants per person, with a maximum of four per household, for personal use.
Growing cannabis at home is currently prohibited in all other Australian states and territories.
The CAN-ACT study will examine the outcomes of decriminalisation, starting with an anonymous online survey to investigate cannabis use, behaviours and attitudes among ACT residents, followed by an invitation to anonymously submit home-grown cannabis for testing.
The cannabis collected from growers’ homes will be analysed for its content – including THC, CBD and other cannabinoids – free of charge, with participants able to anonymously view the results online.
The researchers will also test for harmful contaminants that can be introduced during the cultivation process, including fungi-produced toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides. The study is only open to current residents of the ACT.
Lead researcher and director of the Lambert Initiative Professor Iain McGregor said: “Growers who are achieving profound therapeutic effects with cannabis are naturally curious about what their cannabis contains.”
The study was inspired by ‘Patrick’, a 70-year-old Canberra resident whose late wife had a terminal brain tumour and used home-grown cannabis during her final 18 months.
He said it gave her a quality of life that could not be obtained using pharmaceuticals.
“The standard ‘end of life’ drug package made my wife comatose. This never happened with cannabis.
“We had no prior cannabis experience, we had to work out what dosage to take and how often.
“The biggest difficulties arose when we could not figure out if a symptom was the result of the tumour, the pharmaceuticals, or the cannabis.
“This is where I believe ‘user testing’ can improve our knowledge.”
While residents of the ACT have been able to use the CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service to test illicit drugs such as pills, capsules, powders, crystals, and liquids as part of a six-month pilot by the ACT Government, cannabis was excluded.
The researchers hope their results will yield insights that can make home-grown cannabis use safer – such as how to reduce harmful contaminants that may have unintentionally entered the cultivation process, or whether/when to drive after consumption.
Lambert added the results – expected in early 2023 – could become a litmus test for the legalisation of cannabis in other states and territories in Australia.
To register, or for more information, click here.