Edible Medical Marijuana Products Mislabeled
Some of the edible medical marijuana products on the market are mislabeled, according to a new study in JAMA. This could prove to be a significant problem for the estimated 16 to 26 percent of medical marijuana users who consume “medibles.”
Some medical marijuana users choose to get their medication in the form of edible products, such as chocolates, beverages, cookies, and brownies, among other goodies. Along with avoiding any harmful by-products associated with smoking the marijuana, users are also expecting to get the proper dose of cannabinoids (e.g., tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] and cannabidiol [CBD]) in their medibles.
Yet investigators from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who conducted a recent analysis of 75 edible medical marijuana products involving 47 different brands found that:
- 23 percent of the products were underlabeled (contained more THC than reported)
- 60 percent were overlabeled (contained less THC than reported)
- Only 17 percent had been labeled accurately.
The products were considered to be overlabeled or underlabeled if their measured THC and CBD content was more than 10 percent above or below the valued on the product’s label.
Therefore, 83 percent of users of these edible medical marijuana products could expect to either not get the benefits they should or be at risk of harmful side effects. The products evaluated came from locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Another factor to consider: research has indicated that a THC:CBD ratio of 1:1 is associated with improvements in clinical benefits and fewer adverse effects. However, only one of the products tested had a 1:1 ratio. The median THC:CBD ratio in products that had detectable CBD was 36:1, and seven had ratios of less than 10:1.
To be fair, the edible medical marijuana products evaluated were collected between August and October 2014. Thus any efforts made since that time to be more accurate in dosing are not reflected in this study.
However, it is worrisome that edible medical marijuana products were found to be mislabeled. The authors concluded that “Because medical cannabis is recommended for specific health conditions, regulation and quality assurance are needed.” For now, edible medical marijuana consumers should be aware that products may not be as labeled or advertised.
Vandrey R et al. Study finds inaccuracy in dosing of edible medical marijuana products. JAMA 2015; 313(24): 2491-93