Medical Marijuana 'Edibles': Shocking Potency Variability Raises Concern! Here's What You Need to Know

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Jun 24, 2015 08:04 AM EDT

A cookie containing medical grade cannabis (Photo : Subvertc/en.wikipedia.org)

A study that was recently published in JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association has discovered that the amount of THC in edibles that contain medical marijuana may vary from too much to none at all.

The results of the study worries researchers because there seems to be no formal set of regulations that correctly label the edibles and the amount of THC the products may contain.

According to Forbes, the study was conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania.

For the study, researchers gathered participants who had prescriptions from their physicians to buy medical marijuana products in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.

The participants bought a total of 75 medical marijuana edibles. The products were then brought back to laboratories within the said states, since it is illegal to move marijuana from state to state, explains USA Today.

Out of the 75 products, researchers discovered that only 17 percent of the products were labeled correctly. Whereas, 23 percent of the products contained more THC than the amount printed on the label and 60 percent contained less THC than the amount printed on the label, reports Gizmodo.

An associate professor at Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Ryan Vandray, who launched the study, comments on the results of the study saying: "I suspected that we would see variability, but I was shocked at how much variability there was. No patient can go in and trust the dose they are getting."

According to USA Today, the federal government usually ensures that medicinal products are consistent in every batch.

However, since marijuana is not considered a substance used for medicinal purposes, the federal government is not currently regulating amount of THC in every batch of edibles sold.

Vandrey further explains, "The federal government is typically the governing body that regulates both foods and drugs. But because this is medical marijuana, the FDA and the USDA have to pretend it doesn't exist."

Vandrey strongly suggests that states that have legalized medical marijuana should treat the substance as medicine and not an alternative to medicine.

"The responsibility falls to the state that's going to buck the federal trend in setting up some sort of regulatory or governing body," said Vandrey

As of now, the states of Colorado and Washington have regulation systems for the distribution of medical marijuana products, but have had difficulty in regulating the dosages.

The authors of the study do note that it has obvious limitations, which may greatly effect the results, one of which is that the sample population for the study was small. Not all the states that sold medical marijuana edibles were involved and only a small amount of products where tested.

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