Women May Be More Sensitive to Marijuana Than Men
September 5th, 2014
Policy, Top News
Health organizations around the world hold women to a different standard when it comes to alcohol, but the differences in marijuana absorption between genders may be even greater, according to new research.
U.S. researchers found that female rats were at least 30% more sensitive than males to tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) – the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – because of their increased estrogen levels. The increased uptake could mean that women may be more likely than men to suffer from the negative effects of smoking THC-heavy marijuana, including depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
In the past, research has shown that women were more likely to abuse cannabis and become dependent than men, but the data didn’t provide any insights into why that happened. The researchers in recent study found that there’s a clear spike in drug sensitivity when the females were ovulating, which occurs right when their estrogen levels have peaked and begin to come down.
These trends are especially concerning given that marijuana today is much more potent in THC concentrations than marijuana in the past due to new breeding and refinement techniques. With the negative side-effects of THC already higher in the general population, women may be at an especially high risk of experiencing these problems, which could guide health organization recommendations as the drug is legalized.
The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, analyzed the pain-relieving effects of THC on male and female rats over a span of 10 days. “We’re more likely to see negative side effects today like anxiety, confusion, panic attacks, hallucinations or extreme paranoia and women are at higher risk,” said the study’s lead author Professor Rebecca Craft of Washington State University.
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