It has been a pleasant surprise to those of us in the medical cannabis in Canada community to see our plant as a prominent part of the conversation in these early stages of the federal election campaign. That the mainstream media is forced to add cannabis to its news cycle fuels the discourse and helps lessen the stigma associated with it. We’ll even tolerate Stephen Harper’s lies, Justin Trudeau’s oscillating position, and Thomas Mulcair’s pandering brand of socialism, if it means that medical cannabis in Canada is on the front pages. But what the party leader’s arguments lack is any attachment to science.

Enter Cannabis in Canada.

Harper dismisses science, even that of his own government agencies, and the other parties typically demand more of it, though in what form and direction are unclear. We here at CinC would like to see a federal party platform include both the study and citation of recent and important scientific study of cannabis. A research article recently published in Natural Products Chemistry & Research entitled “Cannabinoids and Terpenes as Chemotaxonomic Markers in Cannabis” is the type of science that would inform the leaders, the electorate, and the conversation, instead of blowhard rhetoric and outright lies.

The study compared indica and sativa across over 484 different strains and concluded:

“A continuum of chemical composition amongst cannabis strains was found instead of distinct chemotypes. Our data shows that some strains are much more reproducible in chemical composition than others. Strains labeled as indica were compared with those labeled as sativa and no evidence was found that these two cultivars are distinctly different chemotypes.”

Given the anecdotal evidence of different effects between the two species, this study opens us to a broader discussion of cannabis strains and their varied effects. It is indicative of how much there still is to learn about cannabis, and that more science and more study is required in concert with the end of prohibition, not before it.

Government and science are a flawed marriage, as Caleb McMillan wrote yesterday:

“This is the problem with government funding of science: Harper (and this could be any leader) said look for X and find me any evidence that supports X. Never mind if there is counter-evidence, the government may cut your funding if you present it. As philosopher and economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe put it, without government funding of science, ‘Instead of researching the syntax of Ebonics, the love life of mosquitoes, or the relationship between poverty and crime for $100 grand a year, they [scientists] would research the science of potato growing or the technology of gas pump operation for $20 grand.’

Government funding of science distorts its objective. This was common in communist countries where scientists feared venturing off the orthodox materialism of the Marxist regimes. To argue that private enterprise research and development may actually be preferable to the monopoly state is to go outside the traditional norms of decency. In the private sector, there are competitors to worry about, and bad science doesn’t produce any value for anyone. Compare the necessity of using fossil fuels until another source becomes profitable to the billions wasted in “renewable” energy sources like wind and solar, which require massive subsidies. Clearly, the government will only spend money researching for the conclusions it wants. As taxpayers, we’re forced to accept this. The Liberals and NDP may have different objectives but the principle is the same.”

But despite that challenging relationship, politicians shouldn’t avoid science in their policy or platforms, which should be informed by science. Campaigning on anecdotal evidence and conjecture insults the electorate and dilutes the debate, reducing our political conversation to sounds bites and empty rhetoric. Patients in this country need more from our next government, and in order to do so we need more from their campaigning.

[This study made us here at CinC wonder about our readers’ experiences with different strains. Please share your indica and sativa strain thoughts in the comments below.]