Don't Buy The 'Potent Pot' Hype

06/24/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Government claims of highly potent pot must be taken with a grain of salt. As is
the case with any black market commodity, definitive facts are difficult if
not impossible to come by.

That said, even by the University of Mississippi's own admission, the
average THC in domestically grown marijuana -- which comprises the bulk of
the US market -- is less than five percent, a figure that's remained
unchanged for nearly a decade.**

By contrast, the average strength of imported cannabis has grown in recent
years. Nevertheless, non-domestic marijuana comprises only a small fraction
of the domestic market. To imply that this rare, unusually potent cannabis
is reflective of what is typically available on the US market is highly (and
purposely) misleading.

Furthermore, it must be noted that THC -- regardless of potency -- is
non-toxic and incapable of causing a fatal overdose. Currently, doctors
may legally prescribe a FDA-approved pill that contains 100 percent THC, and
curiously, nobody at the University of Mississippi or at the Drug Czar¹s
office seems particularly concerned about it.

It should also be 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.
If and when consumers encounter unusually strong varieties of marijuana,
they adjust their use accordingly and smoke less.

Of course, if lawmakers and government researchers were really concerned
about potential risks posed by potent marijuana, they would support
regulating the drug, so that its potency would be known to the consumer.

So if today's pot is essentially the same plant it's always been ­ with any
marginal increase in potency akin to the difference between a cup of tea and
an espresso ­ why is the government claiming otherwise? Mainly to scare
parents, particularly those millions of parents who may have, without
incident, experimented with marijuana in the 1970s, when they were about the
same age as their children are today. Fortunately for them, while the feds'
latest "reefer rhetoric" may sound alarming, there's little substance behind
the hype.

Author's note: The author is the Deputy Director for NORML and the NORML
Foundation in Washington, DC. He may be contacted at: