Medical Marijuana Is Often Less Potent Than Advertised


Some folks have decided to look into the potency of medical marijuana strains, as advertised by the organizations that are selling them and what they found might rub some people the wrong way. According to the new study, if you buy medical marijuana products you might not be getting what you paid for. To make things even more obscure, even though almost half of the country has legalized medical marijuana, the evidence on its benefits still remains elusive.

Inaccurate labels on cannabis products

The majority of cannabis products sold for a number of medicinal purposes have labels that do not accurately reflect the amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, which is the component that has psychoactive effects and is responsible for the marijuana high. However, some of you might know it as dronabinol, a prescribed medication used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. THC and cannabidiol (CBD) – another chemical component of cannabis – are believed to be primarily responsible for therapeutic benefits, especially when the THC:CBD ratio is close to 1:1, according to the study. Out of 75 products that were legally purchased in three cities, only 17% were correctly labeled, according to the report, which was published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. 23 percent were under-labeled, meaning there was more THC in those products than advertised. 60 percent of examined products turned out to be over-labeled, which means customers were not getting what they bought.

We need accurate product labeling

Currently 23 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Four states and D.C. allow legal recreational use of cannabis. Even though oral consumption lacks the harmful by-products of smoking (especially smoking combined with tobacco), difficult dose calibration can result in overdosing or underdosing, which only emphasizes the importance of accurate product labeling. “A couple of products that were supposed to contain 100 milligrams of THC but had only two to three [milligrams],” lead author Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University says. “That was striking – these were not cheap products and were being sold as medicine.”

Therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana

The rush to legalize medical marijuana could be obscuring the fact that it’s not clear if medical marijuana has any therapeutic benefits at all. We do have a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests it does. A review of studies on the topic, also published in JAMA, found “moderate” evidence that cannabinoids help with chronic pain and spasticity. But the researchers found little evidence that they help with nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, weight gain in people with HIV, sleep disorders, and Tourette syndrome. Does this mean all the cannabis-infused tea or other edibles that you’ve been consuming doesn’t help your anxiety at all? It’s impossible to say. There’s just not enough scientific evidence to prove that they do work, or to tell us how much THC is needed to treat a certain condition.


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