Cannabis consumers aren’t clued up on the THC:CBD ratios of the products they use a study has found. That's relevant as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive component, whereas CBD (cannabidiol) has no mind-altering effects; the relative amounts of both has a significanr bearing on the use, benefits and side effects of cannabis products.
The study published online in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research surveyed 6471 people aged 16-65 years who had used cannabis in the last 12 months. Respondents were recruited from Canada in 2018 (prior to legalization) and in US states also in 2018. Overall two-thirds of respondents were from areas without non-medical cannabis and a third came from places where recreational matijuanae had been legalized.
The research, from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, was designed to gauge consumer understanding of THC and CBD levels of herbal cannabis, edibles, vaporizers and topicals — all common products.
Of those reporting use of dried cannabis, only 10 percent were able to report the THC level of products they consumed. This rose a bit in places where cannabis was legal, but was still less than a fifth.
In fact, overall less than one-third of consumers were able to identify THC and CBD levels in their products. Many people believed their products contained implausible amounts of actives, such as more than 30 percent THC or greater than 20 percent CBD — levels rarely seen.
Confusion about units of measurement was also prevalent, with consumers getting milligrams, grams and percentages mixed up.
Why is this of particular concern? The researchers say many studies into the efficacy and side effects of cannabis rely on people self-reporting how THC and CBD are in their products: "The findings cast doubt on the validity of self-reported cannabinoid levels'' they wrote.
Consumers monitoring and measuring their own doses could also risk harming themselves. “There is a need for greater consumer education regarding cannabinoid levels, particularly given the increasing diversity of cannabis products and consumer difficulties in effectively titrating the THC dosage,” the authors say.