Advancing the science on cannabis concentrates and behavioural health

Advancing the science on cannabis concentrates and behavioural health

Drug Alcohol Rev. 2021 Mar 30. doi: 10.1111/dar.13281. Online ahead of print.


ISSUES: The Cannabis sativa L. plant contains hundreds of phytocannabinoids, but putatively of highest importance to public health risk is the psychoactive cannabinoid delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is associated with risk for cannabis use disorder, affective disturbance, cognitive harm and psychomotor impairment. Recently, there has been an increase in the use and availability of concentrated cannabis products (or ‘concentrates’) that are made by extracting cannabinoids from the plant to form a product with THC concentrations as high as 90-95%. These products are increasingly popular nationwide. The literature on these widely available high potency concentrates is limited and there are many unknowns about their potential harms.

APPROACH: This review covers the state of the research on cannabis concentrates and behavioural health-related outcomes and makes recommendations for advancing the science with studies focused on accurately testing the risks in relation to critical public and behavioural health questions.

KEY FINDINGS: Data point to unique behavioural health implications of concentrate use. However, causal, controlled and representative research on the effects of cannabis concentrates is currently limited.

IMPLICATIONS: Future research is needed to explore chronic, acute and developmental effects of concentrates, as well as effects on pulmonary function. We also highlight the need to explore these relationships in diverse populations.

CONCLUSION: While the literature hints at the potential for these highly potent products to increase cannabis-related behavioural health harms, it is important to carefully design studies that more comprehensively evaluate the impact of concentrates on THC exposure and short- and long-term effects across user groups.

PMID:33783029 | DOI:10.1111/dar.13281

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