There is no denying the fact that marijuana has evolved over the last few decades, and its potency higher than ever before. Over the last decade (in particular) we have seen a surprising shift towards a series of more liberal and cannabis friendly policies, and as a result cannabis has become more popular. Moreover the fact that the global market is continuing to legalize, this “green rush” is allowing new business opportunities for many entrepreneurs, and as a result of the ongoing competition, cannabis strains keep growing in potency.
The potency of cannabis is normally determined by its terahydocannabinol (THC) content, one of the numerous pharmacologically active ingredients in marijuana. Defining terms is vital because ‘cannabis’ might refer to the real herb, the resin extracted from it or a pharmaceutical extract of the resin. Depending on the plant variety and method of production, the potency of cannabis herb can vary significantly.
It is hard to determine the specific numbers behind the potency shift, because many of the activities in the cannabis industry are carried out (mostly) underground. According to research however, the major psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), used to swing between 1-4% of total cannabinoid content in the ‘70s. Presently, the average is around 13%; however, in refined markets such as Colorado, Washington and California, you would certainly find flowers well above 30% THC concentration. Many laboratories have found similar rise.
During the seventies, most of the cannabis that was available in the underground market of the US was imported from Latin America countries. This played a huge role in the quality of the product which ended up oxidated to the States. In the meeantime importation from outside countries could take months to arrive, and being exposed to higher temperatures during transportation decreased the potency of the buds.
Improved methods of cultivation contributed to higher THC potency yields, and as a result cannabis’ potency started to skyrocket in the ‘80s together with the development of hydroponic systems. This new technology allowed people to cultivate their own plants in their backyards, and smart growers swiftly understood the secrets of lighting, irrigation and nutrients, as well as creating supreme criteria for the industry long before the push for legalization started.
Furthermore, technology and year-round experiments makes it easier to develop new strains. As a result of increasing competition between growers, present day’s flowers are mostly hybridized strains which are particularly cross-bred for increased levels of potency and terpenoid content. Almost all potent strains available in the market these days are hybrid. Growers now have the knowledge and the technology, which allows for new sophisticated methods to control their end product. They have the ability to control not only THC levels, but also percentages of CBD and other cannabinoid compounds. In this way they can produce many variations-for every taste and preference.
Considering that once upon a time the highest THC level was about 10%, the change is tremendous when measuring now levels as high as 30% Over the years, it has however been bred upwards probably because of market demands. Believe it or not, this has been verified over and over again and even incited calls for government-enforced THC limits. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study in Neuropsycopharmacology journal stated that THC content increased from around 5% in 1990 to 10% in 2005 and that figures as high as 40% have been found in hash oil.
The disclosure that present day’s weed is three times as strong as that of older generations shouldn’t surprise anyone who has smoked marijuana for a period of time that spanned at least 10 years. Even in the last 5 years, strains have reached never-before-seen levels because there’s so much money and studies are ongoing in the industry of medical marijuana. The times are changing in any case. With all these innovative trends of cannabis consumption even smoking pot is starting to seem outdated. Vaporizing is the new trend but the real competition for smoked buds lies in marijuana edibles. Edibles account for an ever-rising proportion of cannabis sale in legal and medical marijuana states, and presently, the market seem insatiable.
Luckily, the inherent risk of marijuana overdose is far less serious than say alcohol or cocaine. However, some behaviors – such as driving – can be very unsafe if you’re so ‘high’ to drive.