The cannabis on the market today is significantly stronger than it was 50 years ago. This can potentially increase the risk of health problems. That is the conclusion of a study by scientists at the University of Bath in Great Britain.
The British researchers analyzed the more than 80,000 samples of cannabis that have been marketed in seven countries over the past 50 years.
The researchers used data collected in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Denmark, Italy and New Zealand.
In marijuana, the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the compound responsible for the intoxication experienced by the user of the product – has increased by 14 percent since the early 1970s.
“This was mainly due to the growing market share that stronger varieties such as sinsemilla – seedless cannabis – have acquired over the decades,” say the researchers. “That was mainly the disadvantage of the traditional product, which contains significantly lower THC concentrations.”
The British scientists point out that studies have shown that frequent use of cannabis with higher THC levels carries an increased risk of problems such as addiction and psychotic disorders.
“As the potency of cannabis increases, so does the number of people seeking treatment for problematic consumption,” notes study leader Tom Freeman, director of the Addiction and Mental Health Group at the University of Bath. “More Europeans are now entering treatment for cannabis than heroin or cocaine.”
The researchers discovered that especially in the sale of cannabis resin (hash) there was high THC concentrations. In addition, an increase of 24 percent was noted over fifty years. In contrast, it turned out that with cannabidiol (CBD) – a compound that has no intoxicating effect and could possibly have a number of medical applications – no elevated concentrations could be detected.
“Hashish is often labeled as a safer cannabis strain,” says Freeman. “However, the study suggests that this product has now become much stronger than traditional marijuana.”
Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in the world. However, recently the product has been legalized in Canada, Uruguay and several states of the United States. “There will also be votes for legalization elsewhere,” argues Tom Freeman. “According to a number of parties, this would make it easier to tackle potential problems.”
“Legalization could thus contribute to greater product safety. However, the increasing potency of the cannabis underscores the need for accompanying measures that could avoid possible harmful effects. Cannabis should be approached in the same way as alcohol. ”