Today’s high-THC strains definitely aren’t anything like the brittle Mexican-brick weed your Dad used to smoke in college. Christian Hopfer, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus told Business Insider that dispensaries are selling weed that is “at least five times as strong”. The University of Colorado currently has the largest study of weed and behavior ever taking place. It’s also the most expensive weed study ever, coming in at 5.5 million dollars.
A massive test of more than 39,000 samples found that THC levels, on average, inched up to 12 percent on average. Other sources put the average modern THC level at 18 percent according to Andy LaFrate, president, and director of research at Colorado potency testing lab Charas Scientific.
According to researchers at the University of Mississippi, weed in 1995 sat around 2-5 percent THC. A separate study in 2014 shows the THC content of your average flower went up to 12-18 percent. And today, dispensaries regularly sell weed that creeps close to 30 percent THC.
The largest barrier to completely understanding whether or not weed is stronger today than yesteryear is a lack of good information about weed from previous decades. THC can break down over time, so testing weed from the 60’s can’t really give reliable results. However, we do know that weed from the 90s had average THC levels that hovered around 5 percent.
While this may be true, all existing evidence shows that marijuana has indeed become significantly more potent. Growers know more about the botany and chemistry of the plant than ever before and are breeding high THC strains to cater to recreational consumers in non-prohibition states.
For cannabis consumers looking to achieve the maximum high, more potent weed is a godsend. But from a public health perspective, no one really knows with certainty what this might mean.
There is some evidence that suggests higher doses of THC are more addictive, but that study was done in mice. More important than the dosage is the frequency with which it’s used. There’s no evidence that says more potent weed is in any way more dangerous to human health, but there is the possibility that may only be because the research hasn’t been done yet.
Almost every single study on the potency of weed says that to really understand how weed has changed over time, there needs to be more research.
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