Materials and Methods: Using a novel observational methodology, regular cannabis users were asked to use one of two legal market cannabis strains that they purchased from a local dispensary (one strain containing 8% THC and 16% CBD (THC+CBD) and one containing a 17% THC concentration, but no CBD (THC). After using their suggested cannabis strain as they typically would for a 3-day period, participants returned to the laboratory immediately after their final use. Measures included a blood draw to measure cannabinoid blood levels and circulating cytokines, self-reported subjective drug effects, and verbal recall memory.
Results: Analysis of CBD/THC concentration levels in the blood following the 3-day strain manipulation suggests that all, but one participant (n=23/24) followed instructions and used their assigned strain. Individuals in the THC group (n=11) smoked no more than their usual amount, and participants who used the THC+CBD (n=12) strain smoked more than their reported usual amount, but did not have significantly different THC+metabolite blood levels from the THC group. The THC+CBD strain was also associated with less desire to smoke, lower levels of subjective drug effects, and lower levels of circulating cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β) immediately after use.
Conclusions: Initial results support the feasibility of this novel observational methodology involving brief manipulation of strain use. Preliminary findings indicate that participants may self-titrate cannabis use based on cannabinoid concentration and the THC+CBD strain was associated with lower levels of cannabis craving, subjective intoxication, and circulating cytokines.
CBD; THC; cannabis; harm reduction; subjective effects