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WIRE: Research firm holds virtual press conference to discuss medical marijuana quality control

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — On Thursday, February 18, RTI International will host a press briefing via Webinar to address the need for better quality control in medical marijuana products. The briefing will address the public health risks arising in this unregulated market due to factors such as:

  • Product types and formulations that vary from state to state, store to store, even product to product;
  • Inaccurate product labeling and marketing claims;
  • Limited testing of medical marijuana products for safety and efficacy; and
  • Lack of professional guidelines and governmental regulations. This places the burden on the consumers and providers to be aware of the above factors and how they affect dosing and ultimately, safety.

This briefing comes at a time when the number of medical marijuana users is on the rise in the U.S. and even presidential candidates on the campaign trail are calling for more research. States are now grappling with regulatory policies to make these products safer for patients who struggle with pain, seizures, cancer and HIV/AIDS – and have found that these products bring them relief.


  • Moderator: Brian Southwell, Ph.D., director, Science in the Public Sphere Program at RTI International; host, “The Measure of Everyday Life,” WNCU-FM (@MeasureRadio on Twitter)
  • Brian Thomas, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Analytical Chemistry and Pharmaceutics at RTI International; author of The Analytical Chemistry of Cannabis
  • Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • Scott Novak, Ph.D., Senior Developmental Epidemiologist, Behavioral Health Epidemiology Program at RTI International

WHEN: Thursday, February 18, 2016, at 1 p.m. EDT

WHERE: To join, register at

WHY: Medical marijuana is legal in almost half the country and more people now than ever before are finding it useful to address an array of health conditions. However, the significant lack of quality control among the hundreds of products on the market, and inadequate science to back the widespread marketing claims being made, is leading to potential serious health risks. There is a strong need for regulation, more research and testing, and standardization of medical marijuana products – along with better patient and provider education — in order to keep users safe.

For more information, visit

For questions or to arrange an interview, contact Sangeetha Sarma at or 301-395-5227, or Lisa Bistreich-Wolfe at or 919-316-3596.

RTI International is one of the world’s leading research institutes, dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice. Our staff of more than 3,700 provides research and technical services to governments and businesses in more than 75 countries in the areas of health and pharmaceuticals, education and training, surveys and statistics, advanced technology, international development, economic and social policy, energy and the environment, and laboratory testing and chemical analysis. For more information, visit

SOURCE RTI International


New book offers timely information to support the manufacturing, labelling and distribution of safe and consistent medical marijuana products

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— A new volume in the Emerging Issues in Analytical Chemistry series from Elsevier and RTI Press, “The Analytical Chemistry of Cannabis: Quality Assessment, Assurance, and Regulation of Medicinal Marijuana and Cannabinoid Preparations,” provides information that could be useful in establishing standards for the manufacturing, labelling and distribution of safe and consistent medical marijuana products.

This concise, authoritative summary of the broad field of cannabis science contains up-to-date references and “close-ups” from a variety of cannabinoid researchers.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 24 states and the District of Columbia. It is used primarily to treat cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, pain and seizures. The industry is not federally regulated, and there is no central system for quality control.

“Every time a new state legalizes medical marijuana, there are new users and providers who need to understand the benefits and risks,” said Brian F. Thomas, Ph.D., principal scientist for analytical chemistry and pharmaceutics at RTI International and first author of the volume. “Now is the time to apply science and get better control of the potential health risks.”

Medical marijuana is taken in several ways—inhalation of smoke or vapor, ingestion of edibles, application topically in oils and balms. Plant material comes from many strains and locations and is formulated into hundreds of products.

The absence of standards for chemical content and labelling means that dosage levels vary widely between states, dispensaries and products, and customers cannot know exactly what they are getting.

“The result is often under-medication or dangerous overdosing. Better quality control is urgently needed.  Thomas said. “Edibles are particularly problematic. Different ingredients in the same product are not tested for stability against each other, and products are inaccurately labeled.”

Thomas will be participating in an e-briefing via webinar about the quality control needed for medical marijuana products on February 18 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

The book calls attention to the need for more federal regulation and quality control measures. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any medical condition, which is one reason it is not regulated like other pharmaceuticals.

“Marijuana should be reclassified as a medicine so that research can be conducted to ensure that products are consistent with known chemical content and demonstrated performance characteristics,” Thomas said.

The book is available on the websites of RTI Press, Elsevier and Amazon.

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