You’ve probably heard a story about someone who quit weed years and years ago and decided to partake recently…

They were expecting a nice relaxing high like they remembered from their past.. But got caught completely off guard by how strong the high is, and how little weed it takes to get blitzed.

Their reaction maybe anxiety, paranoia or sometimes a panic attack (the rare sativa effect) or they end up totally couch locked or fall asleep (heavy indica). Either way, the experience wasn’t the calm, smooth experience that they felt “back in the day”

So did it happen because the person had no tolerance or because Weed is now several times stronger compared to the ‘60s or 70’s?

How Much Strong is Weed Today?

While tolerance is a factor, the real difference is that even weed from 1980 is nearly 550% more potent than the average weed you’d buy today. Think of it this way, For every joint you smoke today, you’d need to smoke 5 and ½ to get the same amount of cannabinoids and THC in 1980.   Most people would cough themselves out of smoking that much.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has records of THC percentages of confiscated marijuana dating from 1975 to 2003. In 1975, just 40 years ago, the average marijuana confiscated from the public didn’t contain a full 1% of THC (.74% to be exact). Jump forward 29 years to 2003 and the average was then 6.40% THC.

Marijuana Potency Chart
Marijuana Potency By Year

Now in 2015 the average weed on the street is around 13% THC.    While 13% is the average, the are strains that are in the high 20’s and even low 30’s….and they aren’t that hard to find.

If you go by High Times Oct 2014 article about their top 25 strains, the average THC of those listed equals to 21.59% which is still 66% more potent than the 13% researchers use today.

The Potency of Hash, Budder, Shatter etc.

THC-BudderIn the last 5 years we’ve also seen the refinement of high potency weed into Glass, Shatter, Budder, Wax and other concentrates.  Nearly pure cannabinoids are readily available.

Back in the 80’s there was Moroccan hash, but nothing comes as close to the 90%+ potency stuff there is today.

1 gram of budder is close to 90x more potent than a gram of weed in the 70s.   A single dab is easily the equivalent of a join in the 80’s and many people dab all day long.

Why is Marijuana More Potent?

Well, the biggest game changer was how the cultivation of cannabis evolved. Hydroponically grown marijuana took off around the ‘80s and enabled growers to not just produce better buds but also grow more efficiently and quickly.

As growing practices improved growers began crossbreeding various strains for potency, taste, and high.   Even though this isn’t true for everyone, generally high-THC strains are sought after.

Growers prefer high potency weed because laws are typically based on numbers of plants, not the potency of the individual plants.
Consumers crave stronger pot because they pay by the gram and know that stronger pot goes further for them.  Just like fruit growers seek larger fruit, cannabis growers seek to maximize potency, yield, taste and ultimately profit.

But that’s not all.  Vaporization and concentrates have upped the level of THC ingestion you can do significantly.   I was shocked by this graph:

THC Strength and Absorption
THC Absorption and Concentration by Use / Medium

 

Let’s just say 15 years ago, you were smoking 10% THC bud from a pipe, and now you are vaping 20% THC strains today.   You are getting 4x or 5x times the THC into your body and fat cells as before.

Based on this, I completely expect Weed withdrawal to become far more relevant to daily smokers, because they are loading 100x the THC as people 30 and 40 years ago.

Is Potent Weed More Addictive?

As weed gets stronger, the body is exposed to higher levels of THC that can cause stronger effects.  Negative side effects are amplified as well.  Since THC is stored in fat tissues, stronger weed stores more THC in fat tissues per gram smoked than the stuff from 20 or 30 years ago.  Many researchers agree that the more potent a strain is the more apt to becoming addicted a person is.

The withdrawal period can also be much more difficult due to the amount of THC smokers and dabbers can ingest relative to the past
There is correlation between the people having a difficult withdrawal period and their use of strong strains. Typically, it’s agree that anything about 16% THC and up is high yet strains of 14-20% are pretty common.  The Dutch, who have decriminalized marijuana state that anything over 15% THC is a hard drug.

Those with dependencies who regularly used potent marijuana often cite that overall anxiety and sleep problems are prevalent when quitting. Some also experienced depression-related withdrawals that were more severe than typically expected or seen 20 or 30 years ago when the ability to consume cannabinoids in the quantities you do today were so limited.

Though the withdrawal period may be more difficult, you can get through it with the techniques and tools available in the Quit Marijuana Action Plan.

As I have said before, more people smoking more weed, more often, with more THC in it, is going to cause more addiction and withdrawal issues.

In the QuitMarijuana.org members area  you can surround yourself with support, gain knowledge on what to expect and how to cope, and minimize many of the withdrawal symptoms that come with the potent weed and concentrates on the market today.

What do you think?

Please leave you thoughts below!   Thanks!


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