This is a good one, the scraping of the bottom of the barrel of anti-Marijuana myths: Today’s Marijuana is X-amount of times more potent that the Pot of the 1960’s. Various drug czars have changed the amount of times better today’s Marijuana is than yesterdays. At best it deserves a “So what?” response.
Better quality Marijuana is more available now than in decades past. A lot of growers have developed their skills as horticulturalists to not only cross breed and gene-splice, but to maximize the potential of Marijuana both as a recreational herb and as a medicine. Some imported Marijuana such as from Vietnam, Thailand and the Middle East were as potent then as now. Strains of Marijuana from Alaska were highly coveted in the lower 48. Hawaii produced a high quality strain, too.
There is still quite a bit of lower quality Marijuana, referred to as “Commercial grade,” that is very comparable to some of the more common strains from 40 years ago. It is, by far, the most common Marijuana found in the uncontrolled, illegal, underground market. It is most common because of the price. Commercial grade runs from a low of $100 per ounce to about $200 per ounce in most places. Higher quality will run from $400 to $600 or more in some part of the U.S.
Since it’s an underground, uncontrolled sub-economy, there is no accurate way to determine across the board quality. The University of Mississippi Potency Monitoring Project has for many years analyzed the quality of Marijuana submitted by law enforcement. Samples are frequently years old and often haven’t been properly stored. We know by the science that cannabinols, particularly Tetra Hydro Cannabinol Delta 9 (The primary psychoactive component) lose potency when exposed to light and air.
In their 2009 study, the latest available, the Project released this summary of their findings:
During this report period, samples from all Drug Enforcement Administration Regional
Laboratories were analyzed with non-normalized THC concentrations of Cannabis ranging
from 0.11% THC to 27.30% THC. The highest THC sample was from Western Regional
Laboratory (San Francisco, CA). The number of domestic seizures for this report period
was two hundred ten (210) of the seven hundred eighty-eight 788) Cannabis samples
You can read the full report at: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/pdf/mpmp_report_104.pdf
It’s a stretch of the official imagination to claim Marijuana today is 20, 30 or whatever number of times more potent than 40 years ago. And, even if it were, so what?
Marijuana is a self-titrating substance. You take enough to get you as high as you want to be, then you stop. If you smoke a higher THC concentration, you will smoke less actual plant material than if you smoke a lower THC concentration. For those who have concerns about smoking, this is a good thing. The same self-regulating process applies to vaporizing, eating or drinking Cannabis as well, though oral ingestion is somewhat different when it comes to dose.
In a medical Marijuana context, which would also apply to recreational use, a University of California at San Francisco study from 2004 stated:
“An experienced cannabis smoker can titrate and regulate dose to obtain the desired acute effects and to minimize undesired effects. Each puff delivers a discrete dose of cannabinoids to the body. Puff and inhalation volume changes with phase of smoking, tending to be highest at the beginning and lowest at the end of smoking a cigarette…
Thus, a patient-determined, self-titrated dosing model is recommended. This self-titration model is acceptable given the heretofore-discussed variables as well as the low toxicity of cannabis. This construct is not unique to cannabis. Many other drugs have relatively low toxicity and high dosing ceilings (gabapentin being one notable example), and are titrated to effect.”
You can read the cite for this at: http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000334.
Note this and many other reports, mention the low-toxicity of Marijuana. It is not possible to overdose on Marijuana.
Robert Clarke and David Pate, researching for the Journal of the International Hemp Association in 1994 wrote:
The low toxicity of THC is best indicated by its widespread use with very few reports of anything even approaching an overdose. Occasionally, people may get too “high” for their psychic comfort, but their bodies continue to function fairly normally. The dosage sufficient to kill half of the organisms tested (LD50) for orally ingested THC is approximately 1 g/kg of body weight. Simply interpreted, this means an average sized human would have to consume 50-100 g of pure THC to reach the LD50 level. Since high-potency Cannabis contains approximately 10% THC, a person would have to eat at least 500-1,000 g of this marijuana before having a 50% chance of death. A 1 g marijuana cigarette of 10% THC Cannabis contains 100 mg of THC and is usually shared among several smokers. Clinically effective oral doses for the relief of nausea start at 5-10 mg. This means that, even accounting for pyrolytic decomposition and smoke loss, there is a several-thousandfold difference between an effective dose of THC and a potentially lethal one! For alcohol, this difference is only about twentyfold. Other common non-prescription drugs, such as aspirin, have similar relatively narrow margins of safe use.
You can read this report at: http://druglibrary.net/olsen/HEMP/IHA/iha01104.html
Therefore, you would have to ingest the Marijuana found in 500 joints to run a risk of dying. It’s not possible to overdose on Marijuana. Self-administration of Marijuana would therefore be safe in and of itself, in medical situations. It would do no physical harm regardless. If you took too much, you’d simply sleep.
The scare tactics of the U.S. government about Marijuana has taken another strange twist: Hospital emergency room reports. The U.S. government’s “Drug Awareness Warning Network” has mandated that hospital emergency rooms keep track of ER visits involving alcohol, legal and illegal substances. So, if you sprain an ankle and go to the emergency room, you will probably be drug tested. If you test positive from the joint you smoked last week, your visit will be determined to be “Marijuana related.” Drug tests, by the way, only read the by-products of Marijuana and do not determine current impairment. A lot of people smoke Marijuana; it is the second most used substance next to alcohol. With loose record keeping requirements in a prejudiced atmosphere, they have turned up alarming statistics that have no relation to reality.
Public policy not based in truth and science is very poor policy.