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October 2022

Cannabis & THC: Talk to Adolescents About Risks

Access to cannabis and cannabis-containing products continues to expand across the country, and use is skyrocketing – particularly among adolescents. It’s important to talk to both parents and teens about their risks, why these risks have changed in recent years, and also the significant differences between cannabis and high- or pure-THC products – both of which are increasingly popular among teens.

Back in 2002, the majority of cannabis products contained an average of 6% THC. But today, most cannabis products on the market contain about 15% THC or more. Additionally, high- or pure-THC products, such as popular vape pens, often contain THC in concentrations of 80% or more. The availability of these high-concentration products is very recent, and there’s still a lot that we don’t know about potential short- or long-term adverse effects. Also, it’s important to note that cannabis contains over 100 different cannabinoids. Many of these are thought to have physiological effects, some of which could potentially dampen the adverse effects of THC. Isolating THC away from these other cannabinoids is therefore concerning – these products aren’t really ‘cannabis’ anymore. Safety data on pure THC products is very limited.

In addition to higher-potency products, recent observational data found that cannabis use during adolescence was linked with an increased risk of psychosis – with greater risk in heavy users and those who began using it at an earlier age. This is concerning as it’s possible that these risks may increase as the THC content in common products rises. Long-term use can also cause cognitive impairment and poor sleep quality.

THC is now being sold as a distinct product. To help distinguish the differences between the effects of the whole cannabis plant versus the isolated use of its major psychoactive compound, we now have a unique Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) monograph. Check it out to learn more.

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The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2022 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.