More than 90% of the legal marijuana products offered in medical dispensaries are much stronger than what physicians typically recommend for chronic pain relief via data from clinical studies, according to research published in PLOS ONE.
Researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine intended to evaluate the advertised THC and cannabidiol (CBD) content of legal cannabis products to determine their suitability for medicinal use and compare the potency of the products offered in medical and recreational programs.
The study recorded the concentrations of THC and CBD in all plant cannabis products provided by legal dispensary websites and compared them between or within specific states, including California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. 
A total of 8505 cannabis products across 653 dispensaries were sampled, and the researchers found that most of the products offered in the dispensaries had more than 10% or more than 15% THC, which is the same as what is available in products at recreational dispensaries. 
This finding was concerning to the study authors because data show that between 60% and 80% of people who use medical marijuana do so for pain relief, which creates a higher risk for developing a tolerance at a quicker pace, according to the study. This can lead to increasing the concentrations at a very high rate in order to get the same level of pain relief.
“Better regulation of the potency of medical marijuana products is critical,” said study author E. Alfonso Romero-Sandoval, MD, PhD, in a press release. “The FDA regulates the level of over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen that have dose-specific side effects, so why don’t we have policies and regulations for cannabis, something that is far more dangerous?”
The results provide scientific evidence to help policymakers correct mistakes and create a better framework to protect patients, according to Romero-Sandoval.
Study shows legal marijuana products too strong for pain relief. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Published March 26, 2020. Accessed March 30, 2020.