How High is High?

THC and CBD concentration in medical cannabis use.

Cannabis products come in a wide variety of concentrations. Some dried herb strains contain very little cannabinoid, either THC or CBD. At the same time, some extracts from the plant are concentrated to achieve very high potency. Products with over 90% cannabinoid content are not uncommon. What sort of strength or potency is best for you? Well this depends a lot on what you are treating and how you are consuming your medicine.

Medical cannabis in Canada is labelled with a “percentage THC”. If this is dried cannabis, this really refers to the THC that is potentially available once your weed has been heated up, or decarboxylated. Dried cannabis is typically available with THC or CBD in the 5-30% range. The benefits of a lower THC product is that patients who are new to the effects of THC will be less likely to develop increased anxiety or paranoia when using this. This is called ‘starting low and going slow’ and is in keeping with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario guidelines as well as the guidelines of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

The History of High THC Cannabis

Let’s start this section by talking about Hashish. Hashish has been around for at least 1000 years. By the 1800’s it had already been reported as an effective seizure treatment. THC percentage in modern marijuana plants is much higher now than it was back then. Back then, making hashish was a way to concentrate the plant for shipping. It also allowed inhalation of small amounts to be an effective treatment. Recently, there has been much interest in potent dabs, shatter, wax and oil, for both medical and recreational use.

Dosing inconsistency and potency

Medicines do not need to be concentrated to be effective. In fact, diluting medications can add a margin of safety and reduce the risk of overdose. This is especially true when the method of dosing is inconsistent. With vaping, a small puff and a deep inhalation provide very different doses. Where under the tongue oils, and gel caps can be measured, inhalations can not. One goal of using medical cannabis is to provide consistent symptom relief. Another goal is to reduce the risk of impairment wherever possible. Finally, there is a concern that higher potency cannabis may contribute to cannabis dependence.  If you are concerned about or have a loved one you are concerned about, consider taking this quick 8 question screening test for problem cannabis use.

So what is the Verdict?

Doctors seek a balance between the risks and benefits of medications. Having a patient take 15 inhalations to get the required dose is not practical. On the other hand, when a single puff could deliver 10 times the intended dosage, this is not safe. The balance then lies somewhere in the middle. At Weedwell™, our goal is to ensure our patient’s safety while providing them with the relief they deserve. While mindful of possible interactions, we often prescribe CBD oil to be taken under the tongue. We often prescribe THC oil, with the support patient’s need to safely use it. When a client needs fast relief, we use dry herb for vaporization as it is available in many different potencies.



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