Strainprint: The World’s Largest Observational Study of Medical Cannabis

by | Nov 29, 2019

Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

At a moment in time when people are physically connected to technology at all times through smart devices, methods for collecting and analyzing data are bringing real-world research to cannabis consumption.

Cannabis Tech had the pleasure of talking with Noah Kauffman, Head of Sales at Canada-based Strainprint Technologies, about their free Strainprint App – a technology designed to combat the lack of reviewed medical data in the cannabis industry. It aims to be useful to consumers and doctors both. 

Strainprint has developed a real-time system that relies on self-reporting from users. Patient data on a specific cannabis product is only collected when there are ten unique individuals with one hundred data points. Each product is categorized by what symptoms people use it to treat, and the efficacy of the product. 

What is Strainprint?

Describing this data, Kaufmann explains, “It’s clinical except that it is not done under the supervision of a physician. In clinical studies, stage four is real-world evidence. Depending on the audience I’m speaking to, I can sum up Strainprint by saying it’s a stage four research platform, and they know we’re a real-world evidence platform. The interesting thing is with cannabis – we don’t need to worry about safety. We’ve got enough people who have used it for long enough. It’s legal. In Canada, it’s federally legal across the board. We don’t necessarily need to go through the first stage.”

“When we’re talking about the second stage of clinical research, we’re looking at efficacy,” he continues. “The double-blind placebo approach is, I think, important in some respect for certain medicines. But, in Canada, cannabis is my right; this has been fought in government. The same mentality has been growing around the world, and so we can skip right to stage four because people are using it, it’s out there, and we’re not talking about something that is a pill that is put through the Pharma process. Let’s just do stage four research and find out how people are using it.” 

Strainprint calculates ‘efficacy’ by taking a survey of how users felt before using a product and then another afterward. The scale runs from 1 to 10, one being the best feeling, and ten being the worst. A complex equation processes this data into an overall ‘Efficacy’ score. The equation takes the results of two calculations, then adds them together and divides them by two to get a final analysis. 

“What’s important about that and the reason it’s not simply one or the other of those two calculations is that if something takes you from a three to a zero, we don’t want that to be 100% efficacy,” Kauffman soberly explained. “Something that takes you from a 9 to a three should score way higher than something that takes you from a three to a two or a 0. That allows us to look at it in a more complicated way.”

These calculations, while not as stringent as the regulations pharmaceuticals are subject to, offer an objective measure for the analysis of cannabis products’ efficacies. Regarding what information is processed, those who uploaded the reports of untested products can view them, but it is not publicly available or processed. Only data from several different patients on lab-verified cannabis is open to the Stainprint community.

Patients Help Ensure Medicine Remains Medicine

While collecting information in Canada as recreational cannabis was being legalized, Strainprint found that medical habits did not change. 

Patients who were using strains for specific ailments continued to use cannabis to treat those ailments. The most common were muscle pain and joint pain, which represent 10% of the submitted data each. The next most common is anxiety, which sits at 8%. 

Interestingly, irritability is only included in 4% of patient submissions but has the highest average efficacy of 52%. Treating muscle pain and joint pain with cannabis showed 38% and 39% average efficacy, respectively. This is not a medical suggestion, and it may not correlate with research, however.

The point with this system and this industry isn’t about finding the most effective product that works for every single human being. 

“It comes down to human rights because you have the right to control the kinds of medicines that are going into your body,” Kauffman stated. “Granted, I think that ends if you can infect other people, but I think you as an individual can choose what medicines you’re using to make yourself feel better.” 

The Strainprint App directly fills in gaps made by restrictive policies on cannabis research and presents the information in such a way that it can make accurate suggestions for effective treatment.

The Implementation of Strainprint in Everyday Life

Statistics show that 77% of Americans own smartphones, it’s not hard to understand why so many companies and researchers are trying to tap into this resource.

Through the maturation of this app, Kauffman hopes for doctors to make suggestions for patients through it, and for it to be globally relevant. Doctors would consult the app to find an informed analysis of market products, and also be able to warn patients about certain compounds, such as terpenes or cannabinoids that may exacerbate their symptoms.

Currently, many doctors recommend ratios of THC to CBD content, but this is far from a perfect method. Ratios don’t always correlate with effect. The Strainprint App allows doctors to catch up with this developing science that medical schools have mostly neglected. 

“We need the engagement of every stakeholder in the industry to make this successful,” Kauffman concluded. “We are by patients for patients, we use cannabis to get better, but it can’t be just the patients and us. It has to be doctors; it has to be growers. We need people to be thinking that if they don’t have the best product for something the patient will go to someone who does. Everybody should get on board with this so we can crowdsource these answers quicker.”