Drug Policy

More on Pot Potency

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Apropos of yesterday's government report on the Worst Best Pot Ever, here is the conclusion of a recent review of the literature on marijuana potency (including data from the U.S., the U.K., Italy, and the Netherlands), published in the July issue of the journal Addiction:

Increased potency has been observed in some countries, but there is enormous variation between samples, meaning that cannabis users may be exposed to greater variation in a single year than over years or decades. Claims made in the public domain about a 20- or 30-fold increase in cannabis potency…are not supported currently by the evidence….More research is needed to determine whether increased potency…translates to harm for users, who need to be provided with accurate and credible information to prevent and reduce harms associated with cannabis use.

These findings comport with the observations offered by several of yesterday's commenters, as well as with the general impression that John Walters is full of shit.

[Thanks to NORML's Paul Armentano for the tip.]

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  1. Have we ever had a “drug czar” who WASN’T full of shit?? If so, I didn’t notice.
    JMR

  2. “The increases in marijuana potency are of concern since they increase the likelihood of acute toxicity, including mental impairment,” Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a statement.

    Uh huh. Anyone know the number of cases of acute marijuana toxicity treated in U.S. emergency rooms over the last 50 years?

    Zero.

    Cannabis has one of the lowest toxicity ratios of any substance you can put in your body; the difference between the amount that gets you high and the amount that can seriously harm you is 40,000 to 1 (versus about 10:1 for alcohol). For all practical purposes, it is impossible to cause yourself physical harm with marijuana, and there isn’t even a link to cancer as there is with tobacco.

    The practice of the government deciding what people may or may not put in their bodies is grossly unconstitutional; it’s a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment to have to the government dictate what is illegal to ingest, which is why it required a Constitutional Amendment to ban the use of alcohol, an encumbrance on government’s power to oppress us now long ago dismissed as an anachronism. The natural result of this restriction of our rights is to create a black market with insanely high profit margins, as much as 10,000%, which draw in the ruthless, the violent, and the disadvantaged, swelling our prisons and poisoning our cities with open turf wars between business concerns that have no recourse to the courts and so must act as their own contract enforcers, with predictably deadly results both to each other and to bystanders.

    Beyond its illegality and illogic, the practice leads inevitably to agitprop campaigns like this, justifying the violation of our right to do with our bodies as we like by violating our right not to be lied to by our government.

  3. Pretty much the only thing I indulge in is a glass of wine occasionally, so I have no experience with marijuana.

    From a public health point of view (which, SLD, shouldn’t be legislated) I would think that increased concentrations of THC is a good thing. From what I know about it, I think the major risk from marijuana is from inhaling smoke, this seems likely to make people smoke less for the same high. I would see this as positive news, no?

  4. acute marijuana toxicity

    Floobalitis!

    See, I can make up fake medical terms as well…

    1. and which branch of the government are you with, making your entire argument with the smallest and most insignificant peices of the opposing argument.

  5. Claims made in the public domain about a 20- or 30-fold increase in cannabis potency…are not supported currently by the evidence

    what what WHAT?!

  6. John Walters is full of shit.

    That should have been the headline

  7. Tak,

    Well, to be fair, it’s not so much fake as just nonexistent.

    I suppose in theory you could eat a few pounds at one sitting and actually induce acute toxicity.

  8. Their problem with pot potency is that you can have smaller amounts on you for the same amount of fun. Which means if they bust you they have much less chance of threatening you with distribution for a slam-dunk plea bargain and another notch on their belt. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is merely the push for lowering distribution charge amounts.

    Thinking like the drug warriors makes me feel like I just stepping in something gross.

  9. Pot potency is at an all time high, so we will need to continue the WOD to fight this menace.

    LATER

    Pot potency is at an all time low, which means that the WOD is working and we need to continue to to fight this menace.

  10. Soon ONDCP will claim that today’s marijuana is 100% THC and 50% methamphetamine.

  11. From a public health point of view (which, SLD, shouldn’t be legislated) I would think that increased concentrations of THC is a good thing. From what I know about it, I think the major risk from marijuana is from inhaling smoke, this seems likely to make people smoke less for the same high. I would see this as positive news, no?

    Yes, but these people are fucking idiots.

  12. I get why all the commentators here are angry, but we’ve got to remember that to the general public, just discussing drug law reform is ‘soft on crime’ and will permanently disqualify you from public office.

    Plus, when the news wants a quote from reform activists, they’re not going to NORML. They’re going to some baked-out-of-his-mind pothead who’ll mumber something about how decriminalization would be ‘totally awesome’.

  13. just discussing drug law reform is ‘soft on crime’

    I love it! I’m sure Joseph Heller would love it, too!

  14. *Not that I’m endorsing the circular logic perpetuating the drug war, but I am amused by it.

  15. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is merely the push for lowering distribution charge amounts.

    Non-comedic win.

    This scenario seems almost too easy…

  16. Ok, here’s the plan. We convince the world that heavy cannabis use prevents terrorism. No more will the Afghan govt burn giant stashes like the 237 tonnes of hash they found the other day. Instead, it will be seized and then forced on anyone, anywhere who represents a terrorist threat. Since that is nearly everyone, everywhere, I foresee a very mellow world, albeit one that is paranoid about American power. (Wait a minute?)

    @ Jim Bob
    I don’t know if you saw Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way on the History Channel, but whereas cocaine, opiates, etc. got their own shows, cannabis and amphetamines were shown on the same show. Great series, btw, pretty fair, good info, etc.

  17. This joint John Walters sold me is worthless!!!! He promised me it had 30 times the average THC content.

  18. Well thats the funk elastic, the blunt I twist it
    The slamafied, (buddafied) funk on your discus
    Oh, what you messed with, you got to bare witness
    Catch a ho and another ho merry christmas
    Yes I smoke shit, straight off the roach clip
    I roach it roll the blunt at once to approach it
    Forward motion make you sway like the ocean
    The herb is more than just a powerful potion
    Whats the commotion, yo Im not joking around
    People learning about, what theyre smoking
    My oven is on high, when I roast the quail
    Tell bill clinton to go and inhale
    Exhale, now you felt the funk of the power
    Now feel the effects…

    I want to get high – so high!
    I want to get high – so high!
    I want to get high – so high!
    I want to get high – so high!
    Yo hits from the bong
    Yo hits from the bong

  19. Episiarch,
    Are you suggesting, sir, that this is posturing to usher in new, crack style sentencing guidelines?

    (my apologies, I was absent on comma usage day)

  20. No more will the Afghan govt burn giant stashes like the 237 tonnes of hash they found the other day.

    I almost cried when I read about that.

    Regarding the high potency marijuana…. I fear not weed, bring it on. You need a test subject, call me. I volunteer myself…..for the children.

  21. TallDave,

    40,000 to one… damn… that’s why my youth experiment on “how much pot can you smoke” was so tough.

    Anywho…MJ has many negative health effects. Some are due to the inhalation of smoke, some are due to the chemical actions in the drug itself, and some are a result of the behavioral consequences of intoxication. The last two are the only ones that are potential increased by increased potency… with the behaviorally mediated consequences being the most important.

    Simple example: OK to drive after one joint? Maybe, but if your joint is now twice as potent, you may misjudge your competence.

    More obscure: susceptible to having an anxiety attack due to the impact of pot on your system…stronger pot makes that more likely to occur.

    Full disclosure: I am as against the WOD as anyone who posts here…

  22. “(my apologies, I was absent on comma usage day)”

    And on hyphen day too.

  23. “Shit” being a time-honored euphemism for excellent weed, are we to conclude that “full of shit” top-pot-cop John Walters is

    a) mendacious
    b) hypocritical
    c) both

    ???

  24. They’ve been saying “the pot is soooo much more powerful than it was last year”, at least since I smoked it as a kid in 1984.

    It has no credibility and even if it did… who cares.

    Recreational drugs of any kind probably aren’t good for you, but neither are McDonald’s quarter pounders. Certainly we should be the ones that decide what goes into our own bodies.

  25. Drug Warrior logic.

    Higher potency pot = crack for pot smokers

    That is all.

  26. Sure Ken, recreational drugs must be bad for you. But, synthesized, prescribed drugs that mimick them, like AHDD pills, are fine?

  27. NeonCat,

    I am going to have to check that out. 😀

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