According to a new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the hormonal composition of women makes them more sensitive to the effects of marijuana. Oddly, women develop a tolerance to THC much faster than men.
The research project has an odd origin. Psychology professor at Washington State University, Rebecca Craft, noticed one day that many marijuana studies only had male participants. It was that observation that inspired her to gain a better understanding of marijuana and women.
Using lab rats as test subjects, Craft and company discovered that females were 30 percent more sensitive to THC than the males. Craft was also quick to point out that this could also result in females being more likely to experience the negative effects of being stoned such as anxiety and paranoia.
Researchers also saw that the female rodents built up a tolerance to THC much faster than the males. In fact, over time it took larger doses of THC to recreate the same sensations of pain relief for females.
More importantly, the study, supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, revealed that estrogen was the key in explaining women’s sensitivity to the THC in marijuana. THC levels were noticeably higher when female rats had increased estrogen levels due to ovulation.
Essentially, estrogen makes getting high easier for women because it increases drug sensitivity. However, if a woman smokes marijuana or a regular basis, she will require more THC due to how quickly women buildup a tolerance.
Craft also noted that other researchers, such as Margaret Haney at the Columbia University Medical Center, have demonstrated that females are” more susceptible” to marijuana abuse and dependence than males. She concluded that while her findings provided a good start to understanding the relationship between women and marijuana, additional clinical trials with human subjects need to be done.