More Than 90% of Legal Marijuana Products Too Strong for Chronic Pain Relief

Medical Marijuana Chronic Pain Relief

According to a study, medical dispensaries offer legal marijuana products that are much stronger than the dosage recommended by doctors for chronic pain relief

More than 90% of the legal marijuana products offered in medical dispensaries are much stronger than what clinical studies have shown that doctors recommend for chronic pain relief, according to a study published in the March 26 online edition of the journal PLOS ONE.

To many, that may seem like a good thing, but just the opposite is true.

“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,” said the study’s lead author, Alfonso Edgar Romero-Sandoval, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of anesthesiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health.

“Several earlier studies showed that levels of up to 5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that provides pain relief as well as intoxication — were sufficient to reduce chronic pain with minimal side effects.”

The goal of this study was to evaluate the advertised THC and CBD content of legal cannabis products to determine their suitability for medicinal use, and to compare the potency of the products offered in medical and recreational programs.

The researchers recorded the concentrations of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) — the non-euphoric compound in marijuana — in all plant cannabis products provided by legal dispensary websites and compared them between or within the states in the study: California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. A total of 8,505 cannabis products across 653 dispensaries were sampled.

Romero-Sandoval’s team found that most of the products offered in the medical dispensaries in the study had more than 10% THC and that many had 15% or more, the same as what is available in products at recreational dispensaries.

This is problematic because between 60% and 80% of people who use medical marijuana use it for pain relief, Romero-Sandoval said. The higher the concentration of THC the greater risk, not only for developing dependency, but also for developing tolerance more quickly, which means higher and higher concentrations might be needed to get the same level of pain relief.

“It can become a vicious cycle,” Romero-Sandoval said.

“Better regulation of the potency of medical marijuana products is critical. The FDA regulates the level of over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen that have dose-specific side effects, so why don’t we have policies and regulations for cannabis, something that is far more dangerous?”

This study provides the scientific evidence to help policymakers correct mistakes and to create a better framework to protect patients, he said.

Reference: “Mapping cannabis potency in medical and recreational programs in the United States” by Mary Catherine Cash, Katharine Cunnane, Chuyin Fan and E. Alfonso Romero-Sandoval, 26 March 2020, PLOS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0230167

Romero-Sandoval is currently conducting research on CBD that is expected to be published in the near future.

This study was funded by the Department of Anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

6 Comments on "More Than 90% of Legal Marijuana Products Too Strong for Chronic Pain Relief"

  1. Then just take less. The percentage says nothing, the total amount you take is what matters.
    If the percentage gets too low, say below 10%, then some people who really require more, have to injest or vaporaze too large amounts, it is less comfortable and healthy than taking a smaller and more concentrated amount.

    I know there are saboteurs that want to thwart every aspect of THC legalization and create all kinds of barriers. This is one of them, these are evil people that want to block others from having a good life.

  2. “Strong” -such bulls#!t. This is another attempt at trying to demonstrate a need to keep cannabis activity unnecessarily restrictive.

  3. Chronic Pain < Fibromyalgia always willing to try anything promising

  4. James E Tripp | March 28, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Reply


    The acceptance of the false information that cannabis is detrimental to human health was institutionalized into society many decades ago when Cannabis was erroneously designated a schedule 1 drug by the US government in the early 1970s; Unfortunately it takes even longer to unlearn bad information than it does to learn valid information, and even longer to change the mentality, and momentum, of industrialized society.

    Essentially schedule 1 Designation has virtually barred almost ALL possibility of research into the medicinal benefits of cannabinoid Therapy since the early 1970s and yet given this seeming insurmountable road block to ‘positive research’, and an obvious bias towards the ‘negative research’, there is far more evidence of the benefits of cannabis use , as opposed to evidence supporting the over exaggerated, and scientifically unfounded, claims of deleterious effects on human physiology.

    How were the medicinal benefits of Cannabinoid Therapy ever to be discovered when the medical community has essentially been barred from researching it for over half a century?

    Cannabinoids have been ignored as potent medicines due to the pharmaceutical industry’s failure to successfully isolate and synthesize any beneficial individual cannabinoid compounds; They have ignored the synergy and entourage effects of the complex of 100s of Cannabinoids and 100s of terpenes in the Cannabis plant due to the industry wide fixation on the current ‘Isolate, Target, Patent for Profit’, system of pharmaceutical research.

    There is a Pervasive, Institutionalized, Negative Bias against all forms of Cannabis Use that has existed for almost a century and is still rampant in virtually all institutions that form the structure of our society; Those who populate those agencies are institutionalized to think ideologically and only in terms of addiction and harm reduction, crime and punishment, Patent and Profit; In the case of Cannabis they are completely ignoring the abundance of positive heath benefits that the various forms of Whole Plant Cannabinoid Therapy could provide a multitude of individuals, all because it conflicts with established ideological mentality, and/or, it does not fit the current ‘patent and profit’ mandate of pharmaceutical research, production, and marketing.

    Our Medical Institutions, and the professionals within them that make up part of our society, have been either complicit, or at the very least, had blind faith in the claims of the Pharmaceutical industry, while simultaneously ignoring the abundance of scientific studies, and evidence, indicating Cannabinoids have multiple health care applications and benefits; Including treating depression, anxiety, arthritis, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and curing Cancer (Cannabinoids kill cancer cells via apoptosis and anti-angiogenesis. Know since 1974).

    Our institutions ignore the positives of medicinal cannabis and continue to perpetuate the same false narrative that ‘Cannabis is inherently dangerous’ with essentially no valid foundation in clinical scientific reality. I believe this occurs due to ‘Institutionalized negative bias against cannabis use’ and if our national institutions were to acknowledge the factual reality of the benefits of Cannabinoid Therapy, it would require all of our medical professions to admit that Cannabis works as a treatment for many Human Ailments; They would also have to admit they do not know how it works, AND that as a society, we should have been studying Cannabinoids for at least 5 decades, if not more! Not only our entire medical profession, but society as a whole, has completely failed on the issue of cannabis and Public Health and the time is long overdue that we not only acknowledge, but also correct those mistakes.

    Until our Governments, Our Public Institutions, Our Medical professionals and the institutions they represent, Our Law Enforcement Agencies, and society in general, abandon the decades of misinformation and misunderstanding on how the Phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant interact with the Human Endocannabinoid System, we will continue to spend more resources on unnecessary legislation and continued delays instead of implementing proper legislation providing access to the vast medicinal potential of this very safe and effective medicinal plant and health supplement.

    #INBACU (Institutionalized Negative Bias Against Cannabis Use)

  5. Arkansas opened its doors to medical marijuana in 2019 and collected over 28 million in tax dollars so now we have pot and soon to be a casino going up therefore the mighty dollar will turn even the hardest of bible thumpers! Doctors are now throwing out a much stronger pain med than what was being prescribed and marketed as a way to kick opioid addiction but that’s not the case it’s actually the new money maker for big pharma and a diversion from Feds and it’s much more addictive . All POT haters please stand up and pat yourself on the back for being a dumb ass! Thanks for the space to write this:)

  6. I prefer to use marijuana for relaxation and I am quite happy with its effect and would not want it to be weaker. And to reduce pain, I prefer to use Endocet generic, it is more effective in my case. I also believe that they simply interfere with legalization.

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