Marijuana Soda vs. Four Loko: Which is More Dangerous?

Article by Natalie Wolchover, Live Science

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Just as America’s stash of black-market Four Loko dwindles, a new form of intoxicating soda has risen like a phoenix from its ashes: pot-laced soda. But while Four Loko has been recalled amid reports of alcohol poisoning and accidental deaths, the worst side effect of overdoing it with marijuana soda might just be a really bad tummy ache.

California-based entrepreneur Clay Butler has developed a line of cannabis soft drinks that will hit the shelves of medical marijuanadispensaries in Colorado in February and California in the spring. Each 12-ounce beverage — which will come in such varieties as Canna Cola, Doc Weed and Orange Kush — will contain 35 to 65 milligrams of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

But how much is that compared with, say, the amount of the drug in a marijuana joint? And how does Canna Cola’s intoxicating effects stand up to Four Loko?

According to a report by the World Health Organization, a typical marijuana joint may contain anywhere from 5 to 150 mg of THC, and only a fraction of that — “2 or 3 mg — is required to produce a brief, pleasurable high for the occasional user.” On the other hand, “heavy users in Jamaica, for example, may consume up to 420 mg of THC per day.” This means the drug content of a Canna Cola, though a mere mid-morning snack for a Rastafarian, is 10 to 30 times that required to get most people high.

Joshua Lile, a pharmacologist in the department of behavioral science at the University of Kentucky who studies drug addiction, said the dosage in a Canna Cola is indeed quite high, and that it might be even higher than it seems when compared to a joint.

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