WHY ARE BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVELS DIFFERENT THAN THC?

In my last blog I discussed the fact that the presence of other, non-intoxicating, cannabinoids such as CBD make may the blood testing of THC impossible to interpret.

There is no doubt that the idea of testing serum levels of THC is derived from decades of testing alcohol levels. I have never heard a LOT of complaints about alcohol levels. Are alcohol levels a perfect predictor? For sure not. A person who drinks a few doubles every day is going to have levels of alcohol in their serum that would knock others down. On the other hand, a serum level of 0.025 within one hour, or less after ingestion, means that one oz of alcohol was consumed. Two oz in under one hour gives you around 0.05 and one more and you are intoxicated according to the law. This may not be perfect for chronic users of alcohol, but it never has seemed entirely stupid or wrong.

WHY??

Alcohol is a single molecule. It is absorbed very well from the GI tract, has predictable and known pharmacokinetics or absorption, body distribution and elimination. The same molecule that is ingested is the molecule tested. Of course, other breakdown molecules do exist as well.

With Cannabis, there are around 500 molecules working together, the “Entourage” effect – not one single molecule. Even ONE of these molecules, CBD as discussed, entirely changes how THC effects every cell in our body. Various other cannabinoids attenuate the effect of THC and terpenes change it’s activity in so many ways both known and unknown.

In addition, THC, as we know, is stored in the fat and released over weeks to even months. Although these are mostly breakdown products, the point is the plant molecules are stored for A LONG TIME IN OUR BODIES, making serum levels pretty useless for diagnostic “intoxication”.

I just don’t see a random THC level telling us anything about cognition will be helpful and I am beginning to see how it will never stand up in court.

Author
Allan Frankel, MD Dr Allan Frankel is one of the few physicians in the US who truly understands Cannabis as a medicine. All treatments suggested have been well studied. Every patient seen by Dr Frankel is given a personally created Treatment Plan created with the patient's specific issues defined. Plant medicine requires "tuning" of the dosing. Dr Frankel works with his patients thru a messaging portal. The use of this portal, allows quick and simple follow up contact with Dr Frankel. Patients are not charged for these messages, as this is how Dr Frankel has learned what he has learned. Follow up appointments in person or by phone/video are also available when needed

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