Medical Marijuana Edibles Are Not As Strong As You Think

Patients who buy medical marijuana edibles are in for a rude surprise when they hear that those medicinal snacks do not contain the level of THC that they are led to believe. Using edibles can lead to underdosing or overdosing.

marijuana edibles

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), there is an alarming mislabeling surrounding marijuana edibles. Of 75 products tested (47 different brands), 17 percent were accurately labeled, 23 percent were under-labeled, and 60 percent were over-labeled with respect to THC content. Obviously, underdosing can lead to the return of symptoms, while overdosing can lead to more serious problems.

This is serious from a medical point of view, but it is also alarming from a consumer perspective. This labeling should be verified by the FDA, and consumers/patients should know what they are buying and taking.

Johns Hopkins University has a lot to say about the study that they believe will rock the market for marijuana edibles.

"If this study is representative of the medical cannabis market, we may have hundreds of thousands of patients buying cannabis products that are mislabeled," says experimental psychologist Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and lead author of a report on the study, published June 23, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Vandrey is calling for better regulations and oversight of marijuana edibles. Vandrey and his team say patients who consume under-labeled products -- meaning more THC is in the product than is stated on the label -- could suffer from overdosing side effects, including extreme anxiety and psychotic reactions. Patients purchasing products that are over-labeled are not getting what they paid for.

"Caveat emptor," or "let the buyer beware," is "just not right" for the sale of medical marijuana and marijuana edibles.

The Johns Hopkins study tested 44 different marijuana edibles for THC and CBD or cannabidiol, another active ingredient in marijuana and marijuana edibles that is thought to have medicinal benefits, and may also reduce the side effects of the THC.

Doctors across the country are reacting to the release of this JAMA study, and want people to know that with marijuana edibles, what is printed on the label is not necessarily what you are getting.

"We need a more accurate picture of what's being offered to patients," said Dr. Donald Abrams, the chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. "What we have now in this country is an unregulated medical marijuana industry, due to conflicts between state and federal laws."

With this information, would you try marijuana edibles?

[Photos courtesy of Food Safety and]