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The Dangers of Mislabeling Marijuana (THC) Edibles

We now live in a world where 23 states, along with the District of Columbia, have medical cannabis programs, allowing anyone with a medical marijuana card to walk into a dispensary loaded with THC-filled brownies, gummies and granola bars.

Bad Trip

Nearly a quarter of medical cannabis patients opt for this edible option, often under the assumption that the lack of smoke makes them more healthful. But, new research into the laissez-faire labeling of THC doses reveals that these tasty treats might not provide the relief you expect.

A new study published in JAMA found that edibles are labeled inaccurately 83 percent of the time. For patients relying on the medicinal effect of marijuana edibles, this can be devastating.

The most concerning results of the JAMA study revealed:

  • Approximately 23 percent of the tested products had more THC than their labels indicated. This is particularly concerning, since unexpectedly high levels of THC can cause intense anxiety and paranoia.
  • Approximately 60 percent of products tested had less THC than their labels indicated. Over labeling is a major issue for patients who depend on medical cannabis to soothe chronic pain or the side effects of chemotherapy.

Geographically Gypped

Researchers analyzed 75 different edibles popular among cannabis patients living in the metropolitan areas of Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Some of the most interesting edibles-related geographical results included:

  • Products in Los Angeles were more likely to be under labeled.
  • Seattle dispensaries were more likely to have edibles with less THC than advertised.
  • Researchers believe the label discrepancies could be caused by a lack of federal regulation surrounding medical marijuana or inconsistencies in lab testing between regions.

Pharmaceuticals for the Future

With more than 500,000 medical marijuana patients in California alone, there is no doubt that improper labeling can have a profound societal impact.

The expectation is that once the federal government recognizes medical marijuana as a “legitimate” pharmaceutical, lab testing and precise regulation will become the industry norm, making edibles safer for patients everywhere. Until then, cannabis consumers should know that they might not be getting the dose they paid for.

In other words: chew with caution.

Learn more about the long- and short-term effects of marijuana.