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The Real Risk of Buying Medical Marijuana Online

From TIME - November 7, 2017

Many people buy medical marijuana onlinebut they may not always get exactly what they pay for, according to new research.

A study, published this week in JAMA, found that nearly 70% of all products sold online made from cannabidiolan extract of the marijuana plant also known as CBDcontained either higher or lower concentrations of the drug than indicated on the label. That could potentially mean those CBD products are ineffective or even dangerous.

Some CBD products examined in the study also contained significant amounts of THC, the chemical compound in cannabis that makes people feel high. Pure CBD should not contain THC, which is one reason experts say it has potential as a medical treatment, and is not something that can be abused. The presence of THC is especially concerning because CBD is sometimes used by children with seizure disorders, says lead author Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD, adjunct assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.

Parents could be giving their kids THC without knowing it, says Bonn-Miller.

For the study, Bonn-Miller and his colleagues spent a month searching the Internet and purchasing 84 products, from 31 different companies, that included CBD content on their packaging. Then they analyzed each product for actual CBD content, as well as other ingredients.

They found that 42% of the products were under-labeled, meaning they contained a higher concentration of CBD than indicated. Another 26% were over-labeled, while 30% contained accurate CBD content (within 10% of the amount listed).

No studies have shown that taking too much CBD is harmful, says Bonn-Miller, although very little research has been done on doses over 1,500 mg. A bigger concern, he says, is that doses that are too low may affect how well the product works. Because of the variability between products, it can also be difficult for patients to expect consistent results.

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