June 24, 2015
1 min read

Labels inaccurate on many edible medical marijuana products

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Many edible cannabis products, over 50%, have significantly less cannabinoid content, specifically those containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, than the product label indicates, according to recently published data in JAMA.

“If this study is representative of the medical cannabis market, we may have hundreds of thousands of patients buying cannabis products that are mislabeled,” Ryan Vandrey, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a press release.

To assess labeling accuracy of edible cannabis products, specifically baked goods, beverages, chocolate and candy, in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, researchers tested selected products for their delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) content and compared that with their labels. If THC and CBD levels were within 10% of the labeled value, the product was considered accurately labeled. Products that contained more than 10% of the labeled amount were considered underlabeled, and those with less than 10% of the labeled levels were considered overlabeled.

Results demonstrated that out of the 75 products analyzed for THC, 60% were overlabeled, 23% were underlabeled and only 17% were accurately labeled.

Products from Los Angeles were more likely to be overlabeled, while products from Seattle were more likely to be underlabeled (P = .01 for both).

Only 13 products were labeled for CBD, but 59% of all tested products contained traces of CBD.

The median ratio of THC to CBD for products with detectable CBD was 36:1. Only one product had a 1:1 ratio.

The researchers noted that products that are mislabeled, whether over or under, may put patients at risk for adverse events or not provide the medical benefit they are seeking. Additionally, they urged federal regulations and quality assurance for medical marijuana products.

“The states that have medical marijuana laws need to account for the quality and testing of medical marijuana products sold to their residents,” Vandrey said in the release. – by Casey Hower

Disclosures: Vandrey reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.