PBS reports on how THC potency of marijuana has dramatically increased. We already know lower levels of THC can permanently impact the developing brain. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any research conducted on what the additional health impacts will be from the new and much more potent edibles and concentrates that are being sold in Colorado which are getting into the hands of Colorado youth.
April 2, 2014 at 2:44 PM EDT
The average potency of pot has more than tripled in the past two decades, according to testing done for the federal government. This comes just over a year after Colorado and Washington legalized the drug and as many other states consider making it legal for medical or recreational use.
Scientists determine potency by measuring levels of THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana its “high.” And data from the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring program found that the average potency of marijuana has jumped from 3.4 percent THC in 1993 to 12.3 percent THC in 2012. Scientists at the lab say they’ve seen samples as high as 36 percent.
This month’s “High Times” magazine, with a cover promoting “The Strongest Strains on Earth,” claims to have analyzed 15 strains of pot with potencies ranging between 25 to 28 percent THC. Marijuana near that strength can be bought at many legal retail shops and medical dispensaries across the U.S.
A quick bit of botany: The two main species of the Cannabis plant, Cannabis indica and Cannibas sativa, produce different kinds of highs. Most varieties of pot sold today are hybrids of both. Effects of either can include “altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Newer strains of marijuana have different effects than those of the 1970s and 1980s, when THC averaged roughly 3 percent.
Indica is described as having a calming, relaxing, and narcotic effect, while sativa is said to have a more uplifting, stimulating, or “cerebral” effect.
Increasing the potency of the THC in marijuana plants means an increasing intensity of those effects.