Researchers Propose Standard Dosage Units For Cannabis

A team of researchers from the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath and collaborators at King’s College London and the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne are proposing that standard units be adopted in cannabis health guidelines worldwide so users know how much of the plant’s psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) they are consuming.

In 2018, the team reported that concentrations of THC in European cannabis had doubled across the continent over the past decade.

With new research published on Sunday, October 13 in the Addiction journal, the team suggests that the standard unit level for THC be set at 5mg.

The research team says that an indication of the number of standard units that a product contains could be easily added to packaging in countries where cannabis is legal such as Canada and that an international system could provide practical guidelines for both consumers and physicians.

A separate study from the team published in the Psychological Medicine journal this week utilized the Global Drug Survey to examine the relationship between different cannabis products and key health outcomes in more than 55,000 people in 175 countries.

Consumers were surveyed regarding the types of cannabis products they use and the severity of problems stemming from their use, including effects on mental health.

Survey results showed a wide variance in the combination of different cannabis products used by people and a strong association with particular health outcomes.

According to the team, those who tended to use forms of cannabis with higher levels of THC experienced more-severe problems than those who consumed varieties with less THC.

“Our findings add to a growing body of evidence that suggests the health effects of cannabis are dose-related,” says the study’s lead author, Sam Croft from King’s College London. “These risks though might be modifiable and we believe that the introduction of a unit system would help both users and healthcare professionals by providing clearer information on the types of cannabis products they consume and their strength.”

Dr. Tom Freeman from the University of Bath says that the findings reveal the need to develop an evidence-based framework to help people use cannabis safely as the current lack of information puts consumers at an increased risk.

Similar to how a unit system has helped drinkers better manage their alcohol intake, Dr. Freeman says that the same concept could help cannabis users by providing clear guidance about the dose of THC they are consuming.

Because types of cannabis can vary greatly across legal and illegal markets, the authors of the study have commissioned an expert team, funded by the Society for the Study of Addiction, to develop a standardized tool to assess cannabis use in international settings.