Research Examines THC's Effects Based on Gender

In one of the first studies analyzing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol's tolerance based on gender, Washington State University researchers found that women develop a tolerance more quickly and are 30% more sensitive to the drug.

In one of the first studies analyzing delta-9-tetrahydroabinol (THC)'s tolerance based on gender, Washington State University researchers found that women develop a tolerance more quickly and are 30% more sensitive to the drug.

Despite growing evidence indicating women are more likely to abuse and become dependent on THC, previous research on the substance’s effects have mainly been done using male participants, according to researchers.

With a greater need for research since recreational marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado, researchers observed THC’s pain-relieving effects in male and female mice models. Since their previous research showed increases in estrogen make women more sensitive to THC, the investigators administered 30% less THC to female rats.

Despite female rats being given the “lowest dose anyone has ever used to induce tolerance,” they still developed a significantly stronger tolerance to THC than their male counterparts.

“These results demonstrate that — even when sex differences in acute THC potency are controlled — females develop more antinociceptive tolerance to THC than males,” the investigators wrote.

Tolerance, which the researchers were analyzing, is when the rats requires larger amounts of the substance to replicate its original affects, the WSU release pointed out.

Furthermore, the researchers noted the drug did not influence the mice’s reproduction cycle. However, the study’s contributor Rebecca Craft of WSU said this aspect of their study has been widely debated and needs more investigation.

“Given the importance of drug tolerance in the development of drug dependence, these results suggest that females may be more vulnerable than males to developing dependence after chronic cannabinoid exposure,” the authors wrote.

Moving forward, the team of researchers plan to look at the effects of THC and marijuana among people who suffer from debilitating back or joint pain, cancer, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), severe muscle spasms, and other conditions that are increasingly being treated with medical marijuana.