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Many Legal Marijuana Products Too Strong for Treating Pain

Majority of products in medicinal, recreational programs advertised to have >15 percent THC

FRIDAY, April 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Legally dispensed marijuana products have stronger concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) than needed for chronic pain relief, according to a study published online March 26 in PLOS ONE.

Mary Catherine Cash, from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues evaluated the advertised THC and CBD content of 8,505 cannabis products offered online in 653 dispensaries in the United States and compared the strengths of products offered in legal medical and recreational programs. THC and CBD concentrations were evaluated for all herb cannabis products provided by dispensary websites and were compared between and within states (California, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont).

The researchers found that the average THC concentration advertised online in medicinal programs was similar to recreational programs (19.2 versus 21.5 percent), both when compared between states with different programs and between medicinal and recreational programs within the same states (Colorado and Washington). Lower CBD concentrations accompanied higher THC products. Regardless of medicinal or recreational programs, the majority of products (70.3 to 91.4 percent) were advertised as having >15 percent THC.

“This data is consistent with reports in which THC and CBD in products from legal dispensaries or in nationwide products from the illegal market were actually measured, which indicates that patients consuming these products may be at risk of acute intoxication or long-term side effects,” the authors write.

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