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Report: U.S. Marijuana Becoming More Potent

By June 17, 2008

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The marijuana currently being smoked in the United States is more than double in potency of the drug in the 1980s, posing potential mental health consequences for teens who use the drug to self-medicate episodes of depression. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) the high-potency pot puts adolescents at increased risk for various psychological conditions, cognitive deficits, and respiratory problems.

The levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, have reached the highest percentages recorded since the University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project began in 1976.

According to the latest report from the project, the average amount of THC in marijuana seized and purchased by law enforcement agencies in the U.S. has risen to 9.6%. In 1983, the average amount of THC found in marijuana was under 4%.

Risk of Mental Impairment

"Baby boomer parents who still think marijuana is a harmless substance need to look at the facts," said John Walters, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in a news release. "Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implications in particular for young people, who may be not only at increased risk for various psychological conditions, cognitive deficits, and respiratory problems, but are also at significantly higher risk for developing dependency on other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin than are non-smokers."

"The increases in marijuana potency are of concern since they increase the likelihood of acute toxicity, including mental impairment," said Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Particularly worrisome is the possibility that the more potent THC might be more effective at triggering the changes in the brain that can lead to addiction; however, more research is needed to establish this link between higher THC potency and higher addiction risk."

The entire report is available online in PDF format.

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Photo: © DEA
January 6, 2012 at 1:30 am
(1) john says:

A higher potency marijuana strain just means that it takes less to get you high. This means less damage to the lungs for the majority of us who smoke our marijuana.

June 5, 2012 at 2:51 am
(2) coles says:

i am marijuana smoker and i agree with this information and think this great for our youth. teach them that weed cant be used as a crutch for anxiety or depression, it worsens it. it should never be the main thing your doing. it should be second on your mind and recreationally should only be used to make whatever your doing that much better and gives you more to reflect on. chronic pot heads dont get nearly as pleasurable of a high because they dont respect the weed and dwell. more is not better, with weed because it acumulates in your system and if you over smoke, you get burn and dont get a benifitial high that helps you connect certain ideas that are normally compartimentalized and makes you more understanding of others instead of an us vs them reptillian mentality

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