Study: Marijuana potency increases in 2007
via Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Marijuana potency increased last year to the highest level in more than 30 years, posing greater health risks to people who may view the drug as harmless, according to a report released Thursday by the White House.
The latest analysis from the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project tracked the average amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in samples seized by law enforcement agencies from 1975 through 2007. It found that the average amount of THC reached 9.6 percent in 2007, compared with 8.75 percent the previous year.
The 9.6 percent level represents more than a doubling of marijuana potency since 1983, when it averaged just under 4 percent.
“Today’s report makes it more important than ever that we get past outdated, anachronistic views of marijuana,” said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He cited baby boomer parents who might have misguided notions that the drug contains the weaker potency levels of the 1970s.
“Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implications in particular for young people,” Walters said. He cited the risk of psychological, cognitive and respiratory problems, and the potential for users to become dependent on drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
While the drug’s potency may be rising, marijuana users generally adjust to the level of potency and smoke it accordingly, said Dr. Mitch Earleywine, who teaches psychology at the State University of New York in Albany and serves as an adviser for marijuana advocacy groups. “Stronger cannabis leads to less inhaled smoke,” he said.
The White House office attributed the increases in marijuana potency to sophisticated growing techniques that drug traffickers are using at sites in the United States and Canada.
“The increases in marijuana potency are of concern since they increase the likelihood of acute toxicity, including mental impairment,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded the University of Mississippi study.
When I was in journalism school, the rule of thumb was that you needed to have your facts confirmed by three separate sources before a news story was ‘fit to print.’ By that standard, the ‘three sources’ cited in the story above — White House Drug Czar (and chronic liar) John Walters, NIDA’s (US National Institute on Drug Abuse) Potency Monitoring Project, and Nora Volkow, who heads the rabidly anti-drug propaganda agency that paid for the Monitoring Project study — don’t even add up to one.
Fortunately, the AP did at least demonstrate the good sense to speak with SUNY Albany Professor (and NORML Advisory Board member) Mitch Earleywine, who stated the obvious factoid overlooked by the White House: As the potency of pot rises, people simply smoke less of it. Mitch could have also noted that most cannabis consumers actually prefer less potent pot, just as the majority of those who drink alcohol prefer beer or wine over hard liquor. Or he could have mentioned how doctors may legally prescribe a FDA-approved non-toxic pill that contains 100 percent THC, and curiously, nobody at NIDA or at the Drug Czar’s office seems particularly concerned about it. Strangely, AP writer Hope Yen felt the need to identify Dr. Earleywine, who has authored numerous peer-reviewed studies and books on various aspects of cannabis, as “an adviser for marijuana advocacy groups,” but felt no such need to identify Mr. Walters or Ms. Volkow as “those who favor arresting and jailing adults who use marijuana, even when their use is for medical purposes.”
Of course, in an effort to get to the bottom of the so-called “potent pot” story, Ms. Yen might have thought to inquire why the US National Drug Intelligence Center’s 2007 National Drug Threat Assessment states, “Most of the marijuana available in the domestic drug markets is lower potency commercial-grade marijuana.” Geez, you’d think that the various prohibitionist branches of the US government would at least get their stories straight!
Oh well, since lying about the alleged dangers of allegedly more potent pot is now an annual tradition (Remember “Pot 2.0” anybody?), there’s always next year.