NY Times Questions ECS Brands' Claims
The NY Times is a mixed bag when it comes to the cannabis industry. Sometimes it presents a balanced approach to the readjustment and opportunities presented by legalization ("The Country’s Evolving Marijuana Debate"), and sometimes it offers a highly visible platform for Reefer Madness nonsense ("What Advocates of Legalizing Pot Don’t Want You to Know").
In any case, when a story appears in the Times, it is a dramatic moment, such as what happened on New Year's Day with "Counterculture to Counterintuitive: Cannabis to Help You Diet?"
There are several actors in this drama. Let’s bring them out on stage:
In the lead role, ECS Brands. A large Colorado-based hemp company. USDA-certified organic; Non-GMO; Vegan; FDA-registered; and certified for Good Manufacturing Practices. Top drawer honors and quality.
In a supporting role, Wana Brands. The #1 edibles brand in North America. Female founder and CEO. Pinned for the prom by Canopy Growth, which is making a good-faith payment of $297.5 Million for the rights to acquire 100% of the Wana Brands when US Federal legalization occurs. Industry superstar.
THE DEEP DIVE
On its website, ECS Brands has a featured story: "Rare Cannabinoids Poised to Revolutionize Health & Wellness", where we find quite a bit on THCv, or tetrahydrocannabinavarin.
ECS says this rare cannabinoid has the opposite effect of the munchies by shutting off the CB1 receptor which regulates appetite (among many other tasks).
Wana partnered with ECS to use its THCv extract to create a Wana product called FIT which “ … can help disrupt unhelpful eating habits and put you back in control of your diet.”
Diet products are notoriously promise-heavy and delivery-light; how do we know it works? Because ECS Brands commissioned a study in 2021 which was supported by the National Institute of Health.
"According to the Wana’s website, “the recently completed NIH-supported, 90-day human clinical trial found 100 out of 100 participants in the study lost weight without exercise or changing daily caloric output values."
Additionally, "ECS Brands’ informational sheet on the trial says it was performed under the guidance of the Mayo Clinic."
On New Year’s Day, the NY Times review for Wana’s FIT product came out, and you can bet Wana’s PR team hasn’t slept a wink since. According to the Times:
1. Both the N.I.H. and the Mayo Clinic said they had no record of the trial
2. … nor is the trial registered on ClinicalTrials.gov, which is “a database of 399,549 privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world.”
3. … The results of the trial have not been published in a scientific journal or peer reviewed.
THE LOOP BACK
To be fair, human trials for cannabis products are virtually non-existent because cannabis is (foolishly, illogically) a Schedule 1 drug. The US government demands human trials but forbids them for cannabis: one of several Catch-22's for our industry. The best that most manufacturers can do, without the dreaded and illegal "Promising-of-Results", is to ask users about products and quote them in marketing.
"Steve J. says I never slept better!", etc.
The Times is accusing ECS Brands of jumping the shark with their claim that the NIH and Mayo Clinic supported studies. But has it though? In the article, Arthur Jaffee, Founder and CEO, insisted N.I.H. was involved and called the discrepancy a “paperwork issue.” “We have full confidence that everything that we did is accurate and true,” he said. If true, perhaps instead of sharks, the real story is that the Times jumped the gun.
(And I recognize the irony that my story is landing on the same day that the Times posted "Elizabeth Holmes is Found Guilty of Four Counts of Fraud"), though the transitive property generally doesn't apply to real life.
A question for you, Dear Reader:
Has ECS jumped the shark with its claims of working with the NIH and the Mayo Clinic?
Or has the Times jumped the gun in reporting this story that could be resolved when the "paperwork" is straightened out?