NIDA wants help to develop a standard THC dose for cannabis products

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The federal health agency would like to see maximum THC levels in cannabis consumables

A federal health agency is requesting help to establish a standardized dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana products to improve consistency. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) published a notice on Monday requesting input from the public regarding this new proposal. The goal is to evaluate the potential therapeutic benefits and risks of cannabis with standard results. While the goal is solid, the agency’s note recognizes that marijuana has other compounds that can interfere and complicate standardization, as well as become complicated by the several methods of consumption there are.

The agency is looking into establishing a five milligram THC dose as the standardized unit. NIDA Director Nora Volkow discussed this matter in a published piece in Addiction Journal last month. She acknowledged the complications that can arise from this idea, such as having the same amount of THC but different levels of other compounds. Another variation would be the existence of several routes of administering cannabis that can compromise consistency. She agreed to the study conclusion despite all the complicating factors.

The NIDA feels that standardization is necessary and that “such a unit is critical for conducting rigorous cannabis research.” It adds, “Recognizing that a perfect measure may not be attainable at the current time, NIDA still believes that a standard dose would improve measures of outcomes in relation to exposure; and thus, could inform policy and public health strategies around cannabis use.”

According to Volkow, the negative aspects “hardly negate the value” of having a standardized dose. “In fact, having and using such a standard is a prerequisite for comparing the effects of various cannabis products on THC bioavailability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacological effects, which is knowledge fundamental to studies pertaining to medical use of cannabis.”