Things in the Medical Cannabis space continue to change at a rapid clip. Thanks to increasing cannabis demand around the world, a lot of the changes we are seeing are directly related to cannabis cultivars and non-plant products derived from THC and CBD. Of particular concern right now are PGR cannabis products.
'PGR' is an acronym for 'plant growth regulators'. These are essentially synthetic hormones applied to cannabis plants in order to modify growth and development. They can be used to maximize production. They can also be used to enhance some characteristics while stifling others.
Here are four things you should know about them as a Medical Cannabis user:
Competition within the cannabis space – both medical and recreational – has a lot of entrepreneurs and corporate entities wanting their piece of the pie. These days, it is all about maximizing production. The best way to do so from the grower's perspective is to grow more plants more quickly. Adding PGRs is one way to do that.
The result is that PGR use is becoming more frequent. From small farms to corporate growing operations, businesses see PGRs as the ticket to higher profits by way of more plants. As PGR use gradually takes over the industry, it is probably going to be harder to find non-PGR products.
Left to its own devices, a cannabis plant will grow in a certain way. It will exhibit a specific chemical structure when tested in a lab. But throw in a foreign substance, like a PGR for example, and you end up changing a plant's chemical structure.
Studies have shown that PGRs can change the chemical structure of cannabis plants. To what degree those changes occur is still up in the air. But one definitive change is that trace elements of PGRs can remain in plant material after harvest. And if this is the case, consuming PGR cannabis also means consuming PGRs themselves.
Above and beyond chemical changes, PGRs can also change the flavor and texture of a given plan. The problem is that the synthetic hormones interfere with a plant's natural hormones. This can affect everything from trichome counts to a plant's cannabinoid and terpene profile.
Differences in flavor and texture can be anything from subtle to drastic. There is no way for growers to be sure without actually adding PGRs and then seeing what comes out the other end. As for consumers, it is not unusual for them to observe drastic differences between similar products based on whether PGRs were introduced to the growing process.
Finally, utilizing PGRs to increase cannabis production is still a relatively new practice. As a result, their effects are not yet widely known. We know that PGRs affect plant growth to some degree. We do not yet know just how significant those effects are.
We also don't know how PGRs affect human health. Future studies could prove them to be entirely harmless. On the other hand, we may someday learn that Medical Cannabis patients haven't been enjoying the full effects of their medicines because PGRs inhibit how THC and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system. The fact is that we just do not know right now.
The best advice we can offer is to avoid PGR products if you are at all concerned about the potential for side effects. In the meantime, we need more scientific study into how the synthetic hormones affect everything from plant structure to medical efficacy.