The federal government is interested in pot; perhaps even more so since the drug has been made legal for recreational use in two states. To determine how potent pot is, the government uses scientific study to gauge the level of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) in the drug being used by street-level consumers. Some of that research is performed through a potency monitoring procedure at the University of Mississippi. According to their studies, between 1993 and 2012 the average THC content in marijuana went from 3.4 to 12.3 percent.
More Powerful Pot
Another source has reportedly investigated 15 varieties of marijuana and discovered potencies of 25 to 28 percent. This pot isn’t rare – it’s the pot for sale in legal retail outlets and medical marijuana dispensaries. Compare those averages with the typical THC potency of pot sold just two or three decades ago of just 3 percent. At best the drug has become three times as strong, in other cases it’s now 10 times as powerful.
Potencies vary, in part, because marijuana is derived from two species of cannabis. Each species (sativa and indica) produces a unique high experience, and the pot on the street is typically a blend of both varieties. Consumers in states where the drug is legal (Colorado and Washington) are routinely asking for whatever brand is the strongest. So, growers are breeding for increased potency.
The Problem with Potency
There is a line of argument that says that this more powerful pot is a good thing. People who use stronger pot will use less of it, presumably. But it isn’t clear whether or not that is actually so. Some research shows that lower-potency marijuana cigarettes will be smoked entirely while more powerful ones will not. However, this doesn’t account for consumers who are eating rather than smoking marijuana. Marijuana edibles are an entire industry.
The long-used argument that marijuana is not dangerous or addictive in the way that the federal government has asserted may soon be put to rest as ever-more-potent forms of the drug are created. There have been increasing numbers of admissions into drug rehab facilities related to marijuana use. Marijuana proponents continue to assert that these figures are the result of misguided government policies. But there will be little room to argue when negative side effects like panic attacks, paranoia and seizure also go up. The likelihood of these sorts of problems goes up as the power of the drug increases.