Drug Policy

Government Says Pot Is Better Than Ever (Again)

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The University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project, a government-sponsored program that analyzes samples of seized marijuana, reports that the average THC level in 2008 was 10.1 percent, up from 7.3 percent in 2007 and 3.2 percent in 1983. Mahmoud ElSohly, the project's director, predicts that average potency will continue to rise in the next five to 10 years, leveling off at 15 percent or so. Although it's not clear how representative the project's samples are, there's little doubt that average THC levels have risen significantly during the last two decades as growers have gotten better at producing high-quality cannabis. For consumers, this is good news: They can achieve the same effect with less exposure to combustion products, inhalation of which is the main health risk associated with marijuana use.

But drug warriors want us to believe that better pot is somehow worse. The New York Daily News, for instance, cites the fear that "inexperienced pot tokers may not moderate their intake and possibly suffer from paranoia, irritability and other negative effects." Since pot smokers feel the drug's effects immediately and can decide whether they want another puff based on how they feel, this concern seems pretty implausible. Likewise the notion that stronger pot is qualitatively different, such that we cannot rely on previous experience with the drug in assessing its hazards. That argument seems like little more than a transparent attempt to justify and amplify former pot smokers' anxieties about their offspring's pot smoking. A child psychiatrist tells the Daily News such propaganda is not likely to deter teenagers from smoking pot: "Telling them it's 10%—three times more potent than what their parents smoked—is not an argument they are likely to buy into or to even utilize in any constructive sort of way." In fact, it may come across as an endorsement.

NORML's Paul Armentano reviews the history of pot-is-getting-stronger alarms. More on pot potency here.

NEXT: More on Drug Czar's Bid To End War on Drugs

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  1. Of course, this means there will be an increase in marijuana overdoses.

    Huh?

  2. First one’s free.

  3. I would like to conduct a test on the frequency of marijuana overdoses. This will require several kilos of the most potent nugs available. I will happily share the results. Send weed now!

  4. They can achieve the same effect with less exposure to combustion products, inhalation of which is the main health risk associated with marijuana use.

    Sorry but that’s just false. Law enforcement is the main health risk associated with marijuana use.

  5. Wow. Govt gets worse, pot gets better. Correlation?

  6. Man, this is like dueling drug posts or something between Sullum & Balko.

  7. forgot the address…
    3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
    Suite 400
    Los Angeles, CA 90034

    Don’t shoot my dog!

  8. “…possibly suffer from paranoia, irritability and other negative effects.”

    Sounds like me after my fourth cup of coffee. I don’t see the problem here.

    Oh yeah…

    “The evidence for an association between use of marijuana and abnormalities in lung function, however, is inconsistent.”

  9. Oh no! Not irritability! NOT IRRITABILITY!!!

    Of course, just because cannabis is illegal and people with guns are (more or less) actively looking for you to arrest you (and possibly shoot your dog, or you if you have a gun) is no reason to be paranoid.

  10. It has gotten not one iota stronger in the last 30 years. the testing is better, the weed is better, more flowers less leafage. if you test trichs only you will get readings of 50+thc, if you test % of cannabanoids then 30+% of total is common (thats what some seed companies use)

  11. You know, every time I come here to get my pot news from Jacob, I gotta hang out and listen to him play guitar and look at his drawings. This is getting tired. I need a new source.

  12. As a cannabis consumer, one of my main complaints is that I can never figure out what I’m buying. I’d love to be able to find a low-THC joint for when I’m just trying to go to bed and save high-THC dope for the 2-6 times a year when I’m really trying to celebrate.

    Sure, paying more will usually get stronger stuff. And yeah, you can kinda tell at the exact point you’re smoking. (Although some weed takes a few minutes for you to really feel it. Trust me.)

    But, really, what the hell? What if I had to be cigarettes and I didn’t know if I were getting unfiltered Camels or Virginia Slims?

    It would suck.

    I’d *like* some reliable consumer information on the shit I’m smoking.

    Yes, all this predictability would make shit boring but, for fuck’s sake, I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m boring.

  13. Why do prohibitionists never compare weed to hashish? The truth is that we’ve always had access to high potency cannabis products.

  14. Why do prohibitionists never compare weed to hashish? The truth is that we’ve always had access to high potency cannabis products.
    ____________________________________________
    because they would look stupid if they did. since hash has pretty much always been the same. they would have no doom and gloom falsities to spread around

  15. Actually this is nothing new, pot has always come in different strengths of THC, there’s low grade, mid grade and high grade. THC potency is effected by sun light, temperature at which it is stored and handling practices among many more. THC potency in a marijuana plant has a point of peaking, and after that it degrades. Maybe it was the first time they got a quality sample that had not degraded yet, timing is everything. So if its stronger you can smoke less and be even more healthy for doing so.

    The only reason this little piece of news is out today is because there are some people that stand to profit of the fact it is illegal and they see the polls and all the momentum legalization has as of late, so of course an article that makes pot sound dangerous is going to come out, they are trying to protect their financial interest, the only problem is its too late, the majority now knows the truth and we are not going to stop until there are fair laws in place, period.

    I do like the use of words such as “predicts” and “may”
    They “MAY” not limit intake, and it “MAY” cause irritability

    he “PREDICTS” that THC levels will rise and level off in around 5 to 10 years.

    Ok so lets put everyone in prison, that’s the answer, we have plenty of tax money so we can turn non violent tax payers into tax burdens for the rest. Wow, force is always the right answer in America I guess.

  16. Reefer today is no more potent than what I was smoking in 1980.

    Maybe I just smoked better weed than most back then or maybe the government lies about reefer.

    Most likely both.

  17. “inexperienced pot tokers may not moderate their intake and possibly suffer from paranoia, irritability and other negative effects.”

    So the fuck what? It will wear off in an hour or two. And if they don’t like it, they probably won’t do it anymore.

  18. I’m pretty sure, based on a highly unscientific test of an unfortunately small samples in 1987, 1999, and 2008, that the top end stuff they are breeding and selling in Amsterdam has gotten stronger.

    That is all.

  19. You know, it’s just a matter of time until someone finds the gene(s) that code for THC production, and successfully transfers them into other plants. Imagine a broccoli casserole that everyone will be clamoring for!

    Biotechnology will eventually render prohibition of naturally-occurring substances unworkable (even more so than now), since we will be able to make any plant produce them.

  20. SWIM told me to stop self-incrimination. SWIY suggests the same.

  21. paranoia, irritability and other negative effects

    If we substitute “other negative effects” with “binge snacking” I think it’s safe to say none of these side effects are harmful and happen to many people without the use of any drugs. Meanwhile, cancer patients must suffer because people can’t smoke weed. Makes perfect sense.

  22. “Since pot smokers feel the drug’s effects immediately and can decide whether they want another puff based on how they feel, this concern seems pretty implausible.”

    I’m as pro-weed as anyone on earth. Anyone. But there is such a thing as creeper weed.

    Just keeping it honest here.

  23. An actual dramatized example example of a 911 call for pot overdose.

  24. This approach is deliberately myopic. Any remotely negative effect is justification for the status quo, no matter how benign those effects are when compared to other legal substances.

  25. “Why do prohibitionists never compare weed to hashish?”

    It all seems to have disappeared. Used to be very common about 25 years ago. Thai stick too. Not anymore though. Anyone know why?

  26. “It all seems to have disappeared. Used to be very common about 25 years ago. Thai stick too. Not anymore though. Anyone know why?”

    They can grow the weed just as powerful as the hash is. There’s no need to waste part of the plant and go through the whole hash process. Just a guess.

  27. Anyone know why?

    Coke prices? Home-grown weed? Micro-brew? Studio 54 closed?

  28. Well, it is the University of MISSISSIPPI so I imagine they either 1. put the marijuana in question on an alter, sacrifice a goat to Jehovah, and then ask him to reveal to them the potency or 2. try to discern the potency by examining chicken entrails.

    I’d say Mississippi is a shitty state, but I have too high of an opinion of shit to say that.

  29. All I want to know is who their supplier was.

  30. “inexperienced pot tokers may not moderate their intake and possibly suffer from paranoia, irritability and other negative effects.”

    Unlike Effexor XR [venlafaxine hydrochloride]:

    Warnings & Precautions
    WARNINGS

    Potential for Interaction with Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors

    Adverse reactions, some of which were serious, have been reported in patients who have recently been discontinued from a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) and started on venlafaxine, or who have recently had venlafaxine therapy discontinued prior to initiation of an MAOI. These reactions have included tremor, myoclonus, diaphoresis, nausea, vomiting, flushing, dizziness,
    hyperthermia with features resembling neuroleptic malignant syndrome, seizures,
    death.

    In patients receiving antidepressants with pharmacological properties similar to venlafaxine in combination with an MAOI, there have also been reports of serious, sometimes fatal, reactions.

    For a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, these reactions have included hyperthermia,
    rigidity, myoclonus, autonomic instability with possible rapid fluctuations of vital signs, mental status changes that include extreme agitation progressing to delirium and coma.

    Some cases presented with features resembling neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Severe hyperthermia and seizures, sometimes fatal, have been reported in association with the combined use of tricyclic antidepressants and MAOIs. These reactions have also been reported in patients who have recently discontinued these drugs and have been started on an MAOI. The effects of combined use of venlafaxine and MAOIs have not been evaluated in humans or animals.

  31. SWIM told me dank nugs are more satisfying.

  32. I’ve been reading pot potency articles for years now and have hesitated to ask, but screw it, here is my stupid question:

    If the “THC level” is “10%” does this mean that if I have 10 grams of pot, 1 gram of that pot is THC and 9 grams is everything else?

    I’m acutely aware that THC is the main psychoactive ingredient, but it is not the only one. So is this really an accurate measure of potency?

    I really should crack Dr. Earleywine’s Understanding Marijuana.

  33. @stupid

    I think you already know the answer to your own question. It’s the same in many psychoactive botanicals. That is, you get the entire package, not any single chemical.

  34. “You know, it’s just a matter of time until someone finds the gene(s) that code for THC production, and successfully transfers them into other plants.”

    Then kids would finally eat their vegetables!

  35. Let’s outlaw fortified wines, because inexperienced drinkers may not moderate their intake and suffer from hangovers.

  36. “You know, it’s just a matter of time until someone finds the gene(s) that code for THC production, and successfully transfers them into other plants.”

    I want the cannabinoid genes transferred to dandelions. Let’s give the drug warriors a real fucking challennge.

  37. I want the cannabinoid genes transferred to dandelions.

    That would put a new spin on hobo coffee.

  38. Actually I agree with this statement:

    “inexperienced pot tokers may not moderate their intake and possibly suffer from paranoia, irritability and other negative effects.”

    It’s true, and it is a little annoying honestly. And that’s about the end of it. If you buy a bag or more of a certain kind of stuff, by the end of it you’ll be an expert at getting just the right amount.

    If you don’t usually smoke and smoke too much, you might have a bad experience and then be less inclined to smoke in the future (something the drug warriors surely can’t complain about).

    What a joke.

  39. “…possibly suffer from paranoia, irritability and other negative effects.”

    That pretty much sums me up BEFORE I smoke pot.

  40. “…possibly suffer from paranoia, irritability and other negative effects.”

    ____________________________________________
    but if it were legal, then the paranoia and irratibiltiy would go away, since the fact that you are doing something that can get you sent to the slammer, tends toproduce a bit of anixety if you are unsure of your surrondings

  41. The Widow White | May 14, 2009, 4:29pm | #
    “Why do prohibitionists never compare weed to hashish?”

    It all seems to have disappeared. Used to be very common about 25 years ago. Thai stick too. Not anymore though. Anyone know why?

  42. The Widow White | May 14, 2009, 4:29pm | #
    “Why do prohibitionists never compare weed to hashish?”

    It all seems to have disappeared. Used to be very common about 25 years ago. Thai stick too. Not anymore though. Anyone know why?

    Lebanese Christians lost control of the Bekka Valley.

  43. inexperienced pot tokers may not moderate their intake and possibly suffer from paranoia, irritability and other negative effects.” — Yah like slamming a 5th of Wild Turkey?

  44. If the THC is getting stronger, and we need less…why are we still paying sooo much for an Herb?

    Correct me if I am wrong, if it was made legal, without a 50$ tax ( good grief)

    What would be the final cost?

  45. Afgan peanut butter hash is the way to go lol.

  46. So the THC level is 10%. WTF does that even mean? 10% of what? By weight, by volume, by concentration in pure hash oil, who the fuck knows? They just throw out a number like it means something and it don’t mean shit.

  47. You know, it’s just a matter of time until someone finds the gene(s) that code for THC production, and successfully transfers them into other plants. Imagine a broccoli casserole that everyone will be clamoring for!

    Seriously, if any of you know someone who can fund that, please contact me. I’m an unemployed biochemist, and I need money badly.

  48. Ha Ha Ha!!! Duh, doesn’t everyone drink glasses full of Everclear?!?!?! WTF puss, man up and hit that shit!

    … it’s the American government. Remember Nixon said it was all the damn Jews making money off of dealing anyways. Plus the blacks… the solutions to our problem (blacks – according to President Nixon) was to hit marijuana square in the puss!

    So 10% THC weed < FDA approved 100% THC pills… Hmmm I’d rather my lungs take than my stomach!

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