Recent reports indicate the Florida Legislature is considering legislation that would mandate a THC dosage limit of 10% for medical cannabis for certain patients.
A percentage of plant weight — or dosage from weight — is irrational as it is subject to considerable variation as regards plant moisture content, and inactive ingredients in dosage forms such as tablets and tinctures.
A mandate setting limits for dosage form content in milligrams would be more simplistic but opens more questions than it answers.
There would be much to discuss regarding what this limit should be, and for what patients it should apply. Not all patients need, or are limited to, the same dosage level of any drug, let alone cannabis-derived drugs.
Would that limit be the same for the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, as for the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBG, used for gastrointestinal treatment?
Would it be the same for ingested or inhaled drug products as for topical creams and lotions for arthritis pain that can’t be abused?
This proposed limit is inconsistent with the growing body of medical research regarding the benefits of medical cannabis, and policymakers should pause before imposing an arbitrary THC limit that could be harmful to the medicinal value of the prescribed medication.
The patients and families of those who fought desperately for access to medical cannabis deserve more informed, thoughtful policymaking based on science and research.
In early 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a comprehensive report based on the review of over 10,000 scientific abstracts from cannabis health research.
This report made approximately 100 conclusions related to the therapeutic and health effects of cannabis and suggested approaches to stimulate and improve cannabis research. The report summarizes the effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of a number of health conditions and diseases, including chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms, HIV-associated anorexia/cachexia, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.
This report has been critically important because of the science-based conclusions on the effectiveness of medical cannabis and should be carefully considered by policymakers.
In addition to summarizing the effectiveness of cannabis, this report reinforces the fact that there needs to be a more science-based drug research approach regarding medical cannabis.
It should be noted that similar doses of THC and CBD given orally are significantly lower than the same doses administered via smoking (as well the medicinal effect is lower).
This clearly displays the importance of allowing for a higher dosage range when developing medical cannabis dosage forms that are administered orally.
To that end, scientific research not legislated limits should be the criteria for product development, thereby allowing patients to have access to the proper drug treatment based on their patient-specific physiological needs. Nowhere in this extensive research is an upper limit suggested, regardless of form.
Modern scientific drug discovery should be embraced for this botanical as it has been for the 75% of our pharmaceuticals that are derived from plants.
Artificial limits on cannabinoid content suggest that cannabis is not a plant with medicinal value when existing science has clearly demonstrated that it is.
Please don’t allow societal myths or biases to limit the value of this rich source of medicinal value.
Although policymakers suggesting an upper limit on THC may be well-intended, imposing arbitrary limits is wholly misguided if we are to truly make breakthrough scientific discoveries for patients prescribed products derived from cannabis and could result in patients seeking alternative, unregulated sources of relief.
We are open to a more thoughtful discussion, with science as a guide.
I urge the Legislature to think carefully before making a hasty decision to limit the medicinal potential of important medicine, access to which was gained after many years of advocacy. We have just begun the scientific journey … let’s not allow politics to interfere.
Dr. Ed Rudnic is the Chief Scientific Officer for Curio Wellness, a leading brand of safe, effective and reliable medicinal products derived from cannabis. Before Curio Wellness, Dr. Rudnic enjoyed a highly successful career as a drug inventor, pharmacologist and drug development expert for multiple major pharmaceutical companies in the U.S.