420 with CNW — Marijuana Potency Has Spiked in the Recent 50 Years

A team of researchers from the University of Bath Addiction and Mental Health Group has discovered that street marijuana around the globe is substantially stronger now than it was 50 years ago. This, they say, increases the risk of harm. The team incorporated into its study a minimum of 80,000 marijuana samples that had been tested within the past five decades from street samples collected in New Zealand, Italy, Denmark, France, Netherlands, UK and the United States. The research was financed by the Society for the Study of Addiction with the study’s findings being reported in the “Addiction” journal.

The researchers explored how THC concentrations had changed in various types of marijuana as the years rolled by. In herbal marijuana, the team discovered that the concentration of THC registered a 14% jump in the years 1970 through 2017. This was largely because the growing popular share of more potent marijuana varieties such as sinsemilla, which was preferred to traditional herbal marijuana, had less THC and contained seeds.

The researchers found prior evidence indicating that using marijuana with higher THC levels frequently carries an increased risk of issues such as psychotic disorders and addiction. Dr. Tom Freeman, the study’s lead author, stated that as the strength of marijuana increased, the number of individuals who entered treatment for marijuana use problems also grew. More Europeans, he said, were now receiving treatment because of marijuana than cocaine or heroin.

The team discovered that the THC increase was especially high for cannabis resin, as THC concentrations spiked by 24% in the period 1975 through 2017. According to the study’s findings, cannabis resin, which is extracted from herbal marijuana, is generally stronger than herbal marijuana. The researchers also looked at CBD concentrations but found no evidence for changes in CBD in marijuana over time.

Sam Craft, the study’s coauthor, explained that hash or cannabis resin is commonly seen as safer than other marijuana types. However, their findings show that hash is now more potent than herbal marijuana. In the past, hash contained lower quantities of CBD and THC, and while cannabidiol’s concentration has not changed, the concentration of THC has grown considerably. This led the researchers to conclude that consuming the drug may be potentially more harmful today than decades ago.

Marijuana takes pole position among illicit drugs consumed across the globe and has been legalized recently in some states in the U.S. as well as in Uruguay and Canada. This study’s findings are particularly relevant as they shed light on the safety of marijuana as more call for it to be legalized in various nations around the world. The researchers assert that the rise in the strength of marijuana puts the spotlight on the need to execute broader strategies to reduce the drug’s harm, similar to the strategies used for liquor. These strategies include public guidelines on safer limits of consumption as well as standard units. This would help individuals limit their consumption and use marijuana more safely.

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