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.
**(See: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/pdf/FullPotencyReports.pdf, page 12)
Author's note: The author is the Deputy Director for NORML and the NORML Foundation in Washington, DC. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.