Program Note: Tune in tonight for Randi Kaye’s full report on AC360° 10 p.m. ET.
Randi Kaye | Bio
If scientists at the University of Mississippi are right, marijuana smokers are in for a surprise.
A study of thousands of samples at the University found that the drug has seriously increased in potency. The key ingredient in marijuana which gives you the “high” is called THC and scientists have found that it has increased from about 4 percent potency back in the 1980s to 10.1 percent these days, and they say it will likely keep rising before it levels off at about 15 or 16 percent. Some samples have even shown THC levels of 30 percent.
This is not your mom’s and dad’s marijuana, that is for sure!
For my story on AC360 tonight, I talked to people on both sides of the marijuana debate to see how concerned they are, or aren’t, about this increased potency.
Bruce Mirken with the Marijuana Policy Project, which is working to legalize marijuana, says increased potency is a good thing. He says THC isn’t the problem, it’s the respiratory effects that are the real concern. Mirken says people will smoke less of a higher-potency drug so there will be less of an impact on a smoker’s lungs.
On the flip side of that is John Walters, former Drug Czar for the United States during the Bush Administration. He argues that higher potency just produces more dependency on the drug.
Walter says government studies show smokers will crave it more and that THC at these levels could trigger mental illness, psychosis, and thoughts of suicide. He says more and more people are going to the ER with complaints about the effects of stronger marijuana than ever before.
He’s also concerned about the younger marijuana user. He says stronger pot will just increase their potential for addiction because the human brain is maturing until about the age of 20.
Back at the Marijuana Policy Project, Bruce Mirken says all these studies by government scientists by government scientists over the years about higher potency are much ado about nothing. He says it’s all just an attempt to scare people about marijuana and that it was nonsense when the government tried this years ago and it’s nonsense now.
How concerned do you think marijuana users should be? If the potency is on the rise, where might it take us as a country?
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