Questions about Potency of Medical Marijuana

The conventional wisdom is that marijuana is much stronger today that it has ever been in years past. Medical marijuana is often grown using specialized strains of cannabis seeds and modern hydroponics to create the most potent marijuana possible with each crop. While this may be true on a broad scale, according to a recent news article from NPR, medical marijuana actually being sold at dispensaries across the country is often less potent that the dispensary owners claim it is.

tray-of-marijuana-1437843-m.jpgThe article is based on a new study, which reveals some of the problems involving how cannabis is measured and how medical cannabis products are labeled. The study first looked at edible cannabis products. Researchers believe that most edible marijuana products sold for medical purposes have labels that are not accurately representing the amount of THC. THC is the chemical abbreviation for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and is the chemical responsible for people getting high when they take marijuana. However, there is some confusion with this, because there is a synthetic cannabis product with a chemical structure of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol that is known as dronabinol and is prescribed to cancer patients to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

It is also believed that cannabidiol (CBD), which is another chemical found in marijuana, is responsible for the therapeutic effects of the drug. Scientists believe the optimal ratio of CBD and THC is 1:1 and this will create the greatest medical benefits. If the medical cannabis products were made with dronabinol instead of natural marijuana, there may be no CBD in the product, and it is of much less benefit to the patient. As our Los Angeles medical cannabis attorneys can explain, these are things which new dispensary owners should be aware of when purchasing products to sell.

According to a recent study, of 75 medical cannabis products tested, only 17 of them were found to be properly labeled. This particular study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and defined accurately labeled as having an actual THC content as being within 10 percent of the amount published on the label. Of those products that were found not to be accurately labeled, 23 percent were under-labeled. This means there was more THC than advertised on the package. However, around 60 percent of the cannabis products were over-labeled, meaning there was less THC than advertised on the package. Some of the most egregious examples were projects labeled as having 100 milligrams of THC that, when tested, only had two milligrams.

For those wondering if the testing was any more accurate than the claims made during labeling, researchers used the most advanced equipment at Johns Hopkins University, so it likely these tests were accurate. One of the biggest concerns researchers had with the results was not only were many of these products labeled incorrectly, they were being sold as medicine and should be held to a much more rigorous standard.

One of the main issues is that while medical marijuana is now legal in around half the states and the District of Columbia, it is still illegal under federal law, so the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate these medical marijuana products.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.

Additional Resources:

Medical Marijuana Is Often Less Potent Than Advertised
, June 26, 2015, NPR
More Blog Entries:
Medical Marijuana Cultivator Sues Illinois Over Licensing, March 19, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog

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