May 14th, 2009
02:56 PM ET

Marijuana potency surpasses 10 percent, U.S. says

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the government report on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/05/14/marijuana.potency/art.marijuanaelsohly.cnn.jpg caption="Mahmoud ElSohly says marijuana's potency will continue to rise before tailing off in the next five years."]

Jeanne Meserve and Mike M. Ahlers

The average potency of marijuana, which has risen steadily for three decades, has exceeded 10 percent for the first time, the U.S. government will report on Thursday.

Scientists working for the government predict that potency, as measured by the drug's concentration of the psychoactive ingredient THC, will continue to rise.

At the University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project, where thousands of samples of seized marijuana are tested every year, project director Mahmoud ElSohly said some samples have THC levels exceeding 30 percent.

Average THC concentrations will continue to climb before leveling off at 15 percent or 16 percent in five to 10 years, ElSohly predicted.

The stronger marijuana is of particular concern because high concentrations of THC have the opposite effect of low concentrations, officials say.

In addition, while experienced marijuana users may limit their intake of potent marijuana, young and inexperienced users may not moderate their intake and possibly suffer from dysphoria, paranoia, irritability and other negative effects.

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soundoff (One Response)
  1. Kai Chen

    I fail to see how this is different from alcohol right now. The writer and the scientist seem to draw on the assumption that all user will continuously use the substance until they are no longer able to function.

    With alcohol there are people who enjoy having a glass of wine or can of beer, and then there are those who will drink until they can no longer walk or talk and end up vomiting and defecating in public.

    Alcohol have a huge range of potency, from beer to hard 200 proof liquor. Because there are more potent marijuana, it doesn't mean everyone will only go for the most potent.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:10 pm |