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  • Writer's pictureAshley Slimak

Myths About Cannabis: Cannabis Today Is More Potent Than It Was In The Sixties and Seventies

It is a popular belief that cannabis today is stronger and more potent than cannabis back in the day. This theory has also lead to people believing that cannabis today is a dangerous threat to an individual’s health. Of course, over the years there have advancements in cannabis cultivation and the technology used with manufacturing, but this does not exactly mean that dangerous cannabis is being produced.

Sensi Seeds released an article regarding Berlin being a record holder for having some of the highest cannabis THC contents. “In 2010, a cannabis flower that was tested reached a peak value of 44%, making it the highest THC content in the world. Additional strains were tested in 2009 and 2011 that reached peaks of 37.9% and 39.7% THC. Godfather OG, which is said to be the 'strongest ever tested weed in the world' and is the High Times Cup Winner in the category 'Highest THC content,' was only allowed to measure a maximum potency up to 34%. Astoundingly, High Times Cannabis Cup winners in this category had never reached 30% potency until 2016.

Nick Jikomes, a Harvard Graduate and Author from Leafly stated that there is a limit on cannabis potency and that growers today have “reached the natural limits with the most potent THC-dominant and CBD-dominant strains." The limitation is caused by both THC and CBD being derived from the cannabinoid, Cannabigerol (CBGA). Jikomes continues to say that “the biological limits on THC production mean that ~35% total THC by dry weight is a rough upper limit for strains. On average, high-THC strains contain ~18-20% total THC, while the more potent strains will contain ~25-30% total THC. You should almost never see a strain with more than 35% total THC by dry weight.”

Godfather OG Marijuana Strain
High Times Cup Winner, Godfather OG for the Highest THC Content.

The assumption that cannabis potency has increased over time appears to be based on deceptive government data from the early 1970s. Physician and pharmacology professor, Dr. John Morgan conducted a NORML report regarding the potency of cannabis. The report found that “samples of pot from the early ‘70s came from stale, low-potency Mexican “kilobricks” left in police lockers, whose potency had deteriorated to sub-smokable levels of less than 0.5%. These were compared to later samples of decent-quality domestic marijuana, making it appear that potency had skyrocketed.”

The government data actually found that cannabis potency “increased modestly by a factor of two or so during the seventies” and has remained persistent over time. In the ‘60s, popular strains such as Colombian Gold, Panama Red, and Acapulco Gold were available, which are just as strong as cannabis strains being cultivated today. However, this data was left out of the government statistics. The NORML report did state though that there was an increase in the average cannabis potency due to sinsemilla, which is the growth of marijuana without seeds. But overall, the variety of cannabis potency that is available today has not seen any changes over the years.

Although there are many beliefs and opinions on this topic, there is no current evidence to prove that increased cannabis potency causes harm- with the exception of individuals who are vulnerable or those who have a family history of conditions such as psychosis or schizophrenia. In actuality, cannabis users are inclined to adjust their dose based on the potency of the product. If there is a higher THC potency, this allows individuals to use smaller amounts of cannabis while still receiving relief. Additional benefits to this method also include cutting back on inhalation, which improves lung health and saving money in the meantime by using cannabis more sparingly.


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