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A funny thing happened when legal recreational marijuana arrived. Suddenly, in most jurisdictions, the dispensaries that were accustomed to serving medical marijuana customers were suddenly forced to reorient their businesses. When the majority of their customers became recreational, the incentives of the cannabis market changed.

Before the shift from medical to recreational sales, customer demands were different. Surely more than a few buyers had obtained medical cards with the intention of engaging in primarily recreational use. But many medical customers came in looking for specific symptomatic relief. The balance has now shifted towards recreational customers looking for the most THC and potent marijuana for their buck; ask any farmer or dispensary owner, the THC testing number is the single biggest determinant of the retail price tag on a given grow.

This shift in market incentives has led to ever-increasing THC numbers. As we’ve regularly noted here at the Daily Leaf, breeders selecting for high THC strains has crowded out other potentially beneficial cannabinoids, most notable among them CBD. This, in and of itself, is likely to diminish the medical benefits of cannabis found on your local dispensary shelves.

But a new study, reported in Inverse, suggests that – at least for patients using cannabis to treat chronic pain – potent marijuana or higher THC potency may actually lower the effectiveness of treatment. The study, published in Plos One, finds that cannabis with THC levels between 5% and 10% is most effective for chronic pain treatment. The study also suggests that because such low does cannabis is rarely available in recreationally targeted markets, users who were initially seeking medical relief may now be transitioning to regular recreational users.

We’re glad that adults are able to buy weed just because, from time to time, they like to get high. But we don’t believe that the recreational market should stand in the way of effective cannabis-based medical treatment. Please join us in advocating for recreational dispensaries to take their dual duty to serve patients while making profits seriously.

Photo Courtesy of Marijuana Moment