Thursday, December 15, 2005

Reefer Madness Redux

In the U.K., it seems that a growing number of people (including some who used to deem marijuana relatively harmless) are embracing the notion of reefer madness. The idea is that marijuana is more potent than ever, and as a consequence it actually is making people psychotic. The evidence boils down to anecdote, and correlation as causation. The potency argument:
Much of the alarm is due to the fact that the drug is not the same as it used to be, and the very high content of active ingredient in skunk compared with more benign weed. Called tetrahydrocannabidinol or THC, it is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, the bit that makes us high. Skunk tends to be grown hydroponically (without soil), indoors and without natural sunlight, and whereas 30 years ago an average joint contained about 10mg of THC, a joint of skunk today might contain as much as 300mg.
Except... I happen to know a few people who might be deemed "aging hippies" (and who still, um, dabble). When this notion of declining potency comes up in conversation, to date every single one has thought the notion ludicrous, and has insisted that pot was much more potent in the 60's. (Any other aging hippies out there? Add your thoughts in the comments.)

It is interesting to read that the critics of this new potent marijuana, even those who argue that it causes psychosis and perhaps schizophrenia, support legalization.
Interestingly (and it might come as a surprise to the Daily Mail), there is one point on which almost everyone I spoke to agrees: it would be much better if cannabis were legalised. At present, consumers cannot be sure about the strength of the stuff supplied by dealers. If they could buy it over the counter, the THC content clearly displayed like alcohol proof on a bottle, they would know what they were getting. Prohibitionist Jeremiahs warn that punters would inevitably go for the high-octane stuff, but the argument does not follow: given the choice, we do not all opt for brandy rather than beer. Meanwhile, few mental-health professionals see the point of criminalising already vulnerable people.
This is qualified with the suggestion that the legalized pot should be regulated in its THC content. (Regulate it down to 10 mg, though, and I am quite confident that my aging hippy friends will continue to find alternative sources....)


  1. Perhaps it "seemed" stronger in the 60s because they hadn't built up the tolerance for it then that they have now? I have no studies to quote, but that is the way it works for most drugs . . . I give you alcohol for example . . .


  2. As I think back to your college days....

    Are you alluding you your many years of experimentation with Mountain Dew? Or is it that you've found that you're now able to hold your root beer? ;-)


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