THC Levels of “High-THC” Medical Products Vary Widely in New York, Study Finds
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The THC levels of high-THC medical cannabis products vary considerably in New York, according to a new study.
Published in JAMA Network Open, the study found that the most commonly purchased product, high-THC vaporizers, provide 2 milligrams (mg) of THC per dose, yet high-THC tinctures and tablets offer 10 mg THC per dose.
As such, the authors of the paper say that patients may not be getting consistent medication.
New York THC complication (rattling in my head)
To get their findings, the researchers – who were from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles – accessed medical cannabis patient data from the New York State Department of Health; all state dispensaries are required to report on patient purchases, including information on qualifying conditions and age.
The researchers sifted through the information from 16,727 patients who made two or more visits to a dispensary from January 2016 to August 2019.
With regards to patient demographics, they found that 52.6% of patients were female and 61.2% were aged 50 or older.
The top three qualifying conditions were severe pain (82% of patients listed this a reason for prescription), chronic pain (51.9%), and neuropathy (22.1%).
Vaporizers were the most common product purchased (39.5% of patients had bought one), along with products with a high THC/low CBD ratio (52.4%).
Preferred products also differed by qualifying conditions. Patients treating symptoms of cancer were more likely to opt for tinctures (54.6%) while patients living with HIV and AIDS tended to prefer vaporizers (58.2%). Sales of cannabis flower were not accounted for, as the product was still illegal during the study’s timeframe.
High-THC vaporizers, the most commonly purchased product overall, provided 2 mg of THC per dose, while high-THC tinctures and tablets offered 10 mg THC per dose; the CBD dose in both products was 0.5 mg.
The researchers behind the study say this variation in THC dosing suggests that doctors and clinicians may not be properly advising their patients on correct dosing.
“We suspect the lack of clinical guidelines on dosing of cannabinoids for particular medical conditions has made medical providers uncomfortable talking to their patients about their medical cannabis use,” Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, author of the study and senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Schaeffer Center, said in a statement.
“It is imperative that this change, as drug interactions with other prescribed medications are likely but impossible to identify if medical cannabis use is not considered or recorded in the medical record.”
Pacula and her colleague say that they hope their study can provide a basis for conversations between clinicians and patients about cannabis use, including dosing levels.