Cannabis has undergone significant changes in its potency in the past decade, and we are worried that users, especially the younger ones, are unaware of the changes. Today’s cannabis strains are more potent than ever before, with higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana use.
Various factors, including changes in cultivation techniques, increasing demand for higher potency products, and advances in cannabis testing have driven this change. The producers of illegal cannabis are following the practice that stronger potency equals higher demand. About two out of every ten cases of substance abuse we have treated in the past three years were somehow linked to the use of high-potency cannabis.
While it is illegal to use cannabis for recreational purposes in the UK, as it is classified as a Class B drug, it is used illegally by many, including children under 18. This is why being aware of the effects of cannabis and the possibility of addiction is important, even if you are personally not involved in this trade. As more people have access to buying and using weed, the percentage of people with an addiction problem is increasing. Unfortunately, the one selling you illegal drugs does not care about its effect on your body and mind. And we know better now than to think cannabis is harmless.
In this article, we’ll look at how cannabis potency changed in the past few decades and its damaging effects on physical and mental health. Read on to find out!
Is Marijuana Stronger Than It Used to Be?
Yes, marijuana is stronger than it used to be. In the past, cannabis had an average THC content of around 3-5%, but today’s strains can contain upwards of 20-30% THC. Also, the amount of THC present in cannabis plants varies across different parts of the plants.
The highest amount of THC is secreted in the flowering heads and surrounding leaves, with a percentage ranging from 10-12 % in flowers, 1-2% in leaves, 0.1-0.3% in stalks, and less than 0.03% in roots. This increase in potency has led to a range of effects, both positive and negative.
How Cannabis Potency Changed From 1995 To 2018
A study conducted by the University of Mississippi found that between 1995 and 2018, the average THC content in cannabis increased from 4% to 12%. This increase in potency has been driven by several factors, including selective breeding, improved cultivation techniques, and a growing demand for high-potency products.
For example, the potency and amount of resin produced in the cannabis plant are influenced by various factors like temperature, humidity, light, and soil acidity/alkalinity. This results in variations in the potency of herbal cannabis grown outdoors.
On the other hand, indoor cultivation of female plants and clones under artificial light, without soil, using hydroponic cultivation and optimized growing conditions, yields consistently higher potency cannabis.
The Changing THC : CBD Ratios
In addition to higher THC levels, modern cannabis strains also have different ratios of THC to CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive compound that has been shown to have potential therapeutic benefits. While traditional cannabis strains had roughly equal amounts of THC and CBD, modern strains often have very low CBD levels and very high THC levels.
What Has Caused Cannabis Potency to Increase over Time?
Several factors have contributed to the increase in cannabis potency over time. One is the “iron law of prohibition,” which states that as drugs become illegal, their potency increases as a result of the market’s tendency to favour smaller, more potent products that are easier to transport and conceal.
Another factor is the rise of sinsemilla growing, which involves cultivating cannabis plants without seeds to increase THC levels. This technique was popularised in the 1970s and has been widely adopted in modern cannabis cultivation.
The History of THC Potency Over Time
The history of cannabis potency can be traced back to the 1960s and 70s when strains like “Acupulco Gold” and “Panama Red” had THC levels of around 4%. By the 1990s, potency had increased to around 5-6%, and by the 2010s, it had skyrocketed to over 20%.
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The Health Risks of Stronger Weed
Higher levels of THC comes a greater risk of health complications. Research has shown that the stronger the weed, the stronger the effects on the brain. This may contribute to the rising rates of marijuana-related emergency room visits. Additionally, while there is no research yet on how higher potency affects the long-term risks of marijuana use, it is believed that more THC could lead to higher rates of dependency and addiction.
Therefore, it’s important to understand the potential effects of “high potency weed” on the brain. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive component of cannabis, and as the THC amount in a strain increases, so does its potency. This increased potency can cause more intense effects on the brain, potentially leading to addiction and dependency. That said, some health risks associated with stronger weed and how they can affect users:
One of the most common health risks of smoking weed is respiratory problems. Smoking any substance can cause damage to your lungs, and smoking stronger strains of weed can increase the risk of lung irritation, coughing, and bronchitis.
Stronger strains of weed can also increase the risk of developing psychosis. Studies have shown that high-potency cannabis can lead to psychotic episodes, especially in those with a family history of mental illness.
Just like with any substance, there is a risk of addiction to stronger weed strains. The higher levels of THC can create a stronger euphoric effect, leading users to crave more of the drug.
Using stronger strains of weed can impair your driving ability, just like alcohol. It can slow reaction times and impair judgement, making it dangerous to get behind the wheel.
In some cases, stronger weed strains can increase heart rate and blood pressure, putting users at risk of heart problems. This is especially true for those with pre-existing heart conditions. As with any substance, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks associated with using stronger strains of weed. By understanding these risks, you can make informed decisions about their use and take steps to protect your health. If you are struggling with cannabis misuse, our team at Providence Projects can offer you support and guidance on treatment options and admission to our residential programme.
Finding Help for Cannabis Use
Regardless if it’s for yourself or a loved one, we at the Providence Project have experience helping people struggling with their cannabis use. We do not judge you for your illness, we will instead help you understand the underlying causes, give you the opportunity to work though them with a variety of therapists and heal. Our focus is on supporting you and your family into a sober, substance-free life. Please, if you are concerned about the quantity or strength of the marijuana you are using, contact us. We can help with tests, assessments and help, you and your GP treat any consequences of your substance abuse.