A new study has tracked the potency of cannabis products across a number of American states, finding the majority of medical marijuana is stronger than it needs to be for pain relief purposes. The research suggests higher THC levels are unnecessary for medical uses and can increase the risk of negative side effects.
“We know that high-potency products should not have a place in the medical realm because of the high risk of developing cannabis-use disorders, which are related to exposure to high THC-content products,” explains Alfonso Edgar Romero-Sandoval, lead author on the new study.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Over the past few decades THC levels in herbal marijuana have been consistently rising. Between 2006 and 2016 one study suggested THC levels on average had risen from five percent to 10 percent. And following the spread of recreational laws, THC levels have further increased to over 20 percent.
A study from last year found higher THC concentrations could be linked to greater rates of psychosis, and as THC levels in plants have risen, CBD (cannabidiol) levels have dropped. CBD is suspected to be a potent anti-psychotic agent, and a balance between THC and CBD in marijuana is important in reducing the risk of negative long-term side effects.