Is Reefer Really Getting Stronger?
One of the main arguments against the legalization of cannabis is that “weed is getting stronger”. We’ve heard many variations and puns surrounding this idea. “You’re not smoking your Grand Pappy’s weed” insinuating that it’s as potent as a ripe asshole.
I have frequently spoken out against this notion, citing that people have been selectively breeding cannabis for thousands of years and that there were “stronger strains” in the past.
What we need to understand however is, “how do anti-pot people come up with this notion?”
Well, it comes from a study that took 39,000 samples from seized cannabis samples from across the country by the DEA. For all of these seizures, they tested the potency of the plant. They found that in 1995, the average THC count per sample seized was 4%. In 2014, that went to 12%.
Based on this, it’s obvious to conclude that weed is getting stronger.
However, there are some fundamental mistakes with this study (as usual). For instance, the study only looked at the THC level and did not factor in things like “time stored”, “how it was stored”, “environmental conditions” and much more.
They also haven’t considered the “source” of the cannabis. Did the weed come from the US or was it shipped in from Mexico?
All of these points will influence the potency of cannabis. For instance, in the 1960s, they were growing dank weed in California that was more potent than Mexican brick weed. In most cases, Mexican Brick Weed is mass produced and efficiency is the name of the game.
They don’t take time to cure the plants. They don’t make sure that only females are grown. This is why you can find a shit load of seeds in Schwag. Then, once they harvested, they package it and ship it off by any means possible. This means fluctuations in temperature, exposure to light and a number of other factors that decrease the potency of a plant.
Nowadays, people know these things. The cannabis being produced is selectively grown. Strains are being crossbred and optimal light cycles are being implemented. Hell, they even have software that monitors your grow for you.
Is it that the weed is getting more “potent” or that we are “unlocking the potency of the plant’s genetics?”
One thing that is certain, is that due to increased botany techniques, the cannabis we’re getting is of a superior quality.
Should Potency Matter?
The next thing we need to look at is whether or not potency actually matters? Most cannabis users regulate their intake depending on the potency. Whereas you can smoke an entire joint of Mexican brick weed, you wouldn’t be able to do the same with some Green Crack, grown by a master botanist. Most users would take a couple of hits, feel the high, and save the rest for later.
In other words, more potent weed means less consumption of the plant. You don’t need to smoke as much to get the same effect.
This is important, because that means you actually have fewer health impacts such as reduced smoke, tar and all the other things that come with ‘smoking’.
Secondly, higher potency could also mean faster relief. Of course, this is merely an assumption, but if THC is a key ingredient to reducing pain and inflammation, then wouldn’t by all logic a higher dose increase the efficacy of the medical relief?
Again, I’m not saying that it does…I’m merely posing the question.
The CBD:THC Ratio
One of the main reasons why the perceived level of potency might be on the rise is because botanists are selectively growing their weed. They know that the psychoactive part of the plant is THC and that CBD is a natural “counter” to the psycho-activity. Thus, many of the newer strains have a low CBD count. Even though the THC might be in the 14% region, reducing the amount of CBD present in the plant will make you feel ‘higher’.
Therefore, despite the fact that you might “feel higher” it might not necessarily mean that the pot is more potent than it was in the 1990’s and earlier.
So is weed getting stronger?
Most researchers have concluded that the potency of cannabis has increased. However, I believe that the potential potency of the plant has always been present. The only difference is that we have more advanced growing techniques now. Our knowledge on cultivation over the past two decades have developed quite significantly. We now know much more about refining our processes and in turn are unlocking the true potential of the plant.
Once more, whether this is an important note in the debate about “should we legalize”, is the real question we should be asking.
Personally, I think that these arguments are merely the desperate attempts of the drug prohibition camp to try to ‘slow down progress’, but like the weed we represent, the cannabis industry will continue to flourish, even under the harshest scrutiny.