The idea that gender differences can cause heightened sensitivity toward cannabis was, at first, considered a joke. Perhaps it is due to the way gender roles are enforced in popular culture that men were, of course, more tolerant to the marijuana that they were ingesting.
One researcher, from Washington State University, decided to put the idea to the test. By performing controlled experiments on male and female rats the researchers were able to come up with tangible differences to cannabis sensitivity. Obviously rats and humans are not the same but the experiment could still hold value to the cannabis community at large.
The research team at Washington State University gave controlled dosages of cannabis to two selections of rats, splitting them by gender. In the female rat the researchers found a few interesting results to their experiment. Female rats were almost 30 percent MORE sensitive to THC’s pain relieving qualities than male rates. Due to this reaction, female subjects were also more tolerant, quicker, than their male counterparts. Were this experiment to extend to human subjects and if those results were the same then this could have long lasting effects in the medical community–it’s a pretty big deal.
The study also went on to show that the female rats were also more likely to experience symptoms of withdrawal. These rats showed signs of reduced appetite, inability to sleep, and even general irritability. It’s true! Female rats were actually getting grumpy when pulled away from their cannabis fix. Females also showed no signs of disruption to pregnancy while ingesting THC and ovulating at the same time. The reason that the female rats have reacted differently is believed to be, at least in part, to the heightened levels of estrogen present in the female subjects.
For their part in the study, the male specimens were mostly unremarkable. The male rats had a higher, altered, appetite while ingesting THC as compared to the female rats. The male subjects were also more capable of being weaned off of the drug with fewer side effects, such as withdrawal.
Columbia University Medical Center has also done some interesting research on male versus female cannabis consumers. Columbia found that females had a higher rate of negative reactions than their male counterparts. This means that females saw an increase in paranoia, anxiety, and addiction when using the drug. Their studies also went on to conclude that females were more likely to get hooked on and abuse the drug with relapse always around the corner.
Cannabis research has always been sort of taboo in the medical research field. With the drug being at the center of the ‘illegal drug wars’ in America, research has been limited. With legalization a possibility all over the country, at least some point in the future, more and more studies will begin to pop up. As it pertains to effects on different genders, we believe the research to be both timely and important. THC has a place inside of the medical field and it will not make it there without being delved into.
photo credit: louisa_catlover