Your fears have been confirmed, it turns out decades of selective cross-breeding and perfecting botanical techniques to maximize marijuana’s potency have been successful. A recent study indicates that marijuana today is stronger than it was 20 years ago.
As part of the new study published by the journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers at the University of Mississippi working under the umbrella of NIDA looked at 38,600 illegal marijuana samples that had been seized by the DEA over the last 20 years. They found that the THC level had risen from about 4 percent in 1995 to about 12 percent in 2014. The level of CBD dropped slightly from about 0.28 percent in 2001 to less than 0.15 percent in 2014.
“We can see that the ratio of THC to CBD has really, really increased and climbed so much higher,” said lead study author Mahmoud A. ElSohly. The THC:CBD ratio had risen from 14:1 in 1995 to a ratio of 80:1 in 2014. Of the nearly 39,000 samples, it’s important to note that the samples included hash oil, hashish and resinous extracts. Besides including hash and hash oil, there are several other reasons for the increase in THC levels.
Americans almost always value marijuana based on THC content.
“The higher the THC content is, the more expensive the product. Therefore, the ability to charge more for marijuana with high THC content is an incentive for cannabis growers to select for and grow those varieties of plants that have a high THC content,” ElSohly said. “Moreover, pot smokers often develop a tolerance for THC, which means that, over time, they need increasingly higher doses of THC to get high.”
One of the biggest jumps in cannabis potency came during the ’80s with the advent of hydroponics technology. For the first time, suburban growers could produce their own high-quality product. Legal pot has also driven down sales of lower-potency Mexican imports. During the ’70s, 72 percent of cannabis in circulation was low-potency brick weed brought in from Columbia via Mexico. In 2000, only 3.2 percent of cannabis in circulation was high-quality sinsemilla, but by 2010, 60 percent of cannabis in circulation was high-quality sinsemilla.
This confirms several other studies including new data released at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society. Researchers from Charas Scientific studied marijuana in Colorado today compared to marijuana many years ago.
“We’ve seen a big increase in marijuana potency compared to where it was 20 or 30 years ago,” director of research Andy LaFrate, Ph.D. said. “I would say the average potency of marijuana has probably increased by a factor of at least three. We’re looking at average potencies right now of around 20 percent THC.”
Charas Scientific is one of eight labs certified to test marijuana in the state of Colorado. During its study researchers found some samples with a THC content up to 30 percent. They also found that CBD levels had been bred out of modern marijuana samples.
“That was somewhat of a surprise. Much more potent strain and less of the medicinal part,” contributor Dr. David Agus said. “I hope more studies are done, but certainly we have to standardize and put CBD in there to make sure the studies have the benefit.”
The latest trend, however, is introducing CBD-rich cannabis strains. Breeders are preserving crucial medicinal genetics. According to Pure Analytics, breeders are developing strains with a THC:CBD ratio as high as 1:20.
Despite this recent push for CBD, THC is by far the most popular cannabinoid. The newest data is no surprise to cannabis consumers who have already been seeking out strains with the highest amount of THC for years.
Do you feel a difference when smoking marijuana today as opposed to the marijuana you smoked in the past? Let us know.