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The Feds Want Help Determining a Standard Dose for THC
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Federal prohibition is still standing in the way of significant cannabis research, but NIDA officials want to figure out how much THC is too much.
Published on March 25, 2020

How much THC is too much? How much is too little? As cannabis continues to move further into the American mainstream, different states have created different rules for THC potency limits and product specifications. Now, before the plant is even legal at a federal level, the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) is looking to designate a standardized THC dose to aid in cannabis research.

According to a new report from Marijuana Moment, the NIDA published a notice early this week calling for advice from “the scientific research community and any other interested parties” to help determine a replicable THC dosage standard that could be used to better inform cannabis policy and science or medical research.  

“As the diversity of products, potency, and use of cannabis increase, research grows ever more critical to determine both the adverse health effects and therapeutic potential of cannabis and its constituents,” the NIDA open call reads. “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.” 

Since THC potency affects every consumer differently, and because most cannabis products contain other active chemicals that influence psychoactivity — including, but not limited to, CBD and terpenes — it is incredibly difficult to standardize marijuana research across studies. And with federal prohibition halting the interstate transfer of any state-legal cannabis products, it is near impossible to replicate research identically at universities and labs across state lines. 

Currently, the NIDA letter says that the agency is entertaining the idea of 5mg for a standardized dose of THC, but the federal office also admits that dosage could differ among smokable flower, edibles, vape oils, and other product types. In addition to commentary on the 5mg level, the NIDA is also looking for scientists, researchers, and cannabis experts to offer advice on potential labeling requirements for cannabis research products, and consumer education standards that could help accrue more accurate data across studies.

If you’re interested in helping the NIDA find the ideal THC dose, the agency is asking for all comments to be submitted before May 1st.

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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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