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Claims linking health problems and the strength of cannabis may be exaggerated
Date:6/17/2008

Claims that a large increase in the strength of cannabis over the last decade is driving the occurrence of mental health and other problems for users are not borne out by a study of the worldwide literature, say researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), both from Australia.

Their conclusions, published in this month's issue of ADDICTION, are that increased potency has been observed in some countries, but there is enormous variation between samples, meaning that cannabis users may be exposed to greater variation in the strength of the cannabis they use in a single year than over years or decades.

Cannabis samples tested in the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy have shown increases in potency over the last decade, but no significant growth in other European countries or in New Zealand has been found during the same period.

THC is the active ingredient in cannabis, which produces the strongest psychoactive effect. In the United States, the level of THC in confiscated cannabis was 8.5% in 2006, up from 4.5% in 1997. Recent Dutch data show that the THC of cannabis sold in coffee shops more than doubled between 2000 and 2004, but has since levelled off.

THC content varies according to the part of the plant that is used, the method of storage, and cultivation techniques. Popular belief is that hydroponic or other methods of indoor cultivation produce higher concentrations of THC than occur naturally, but the jury is still out on this issue.

The ability to control the indoor environment means that plants can reach their full potential, which includes reaching the maximum level of THC. The increase in market share of indoor-grown cannabis seen in Australia as well as North America and Europe may have led to a more consistent product which could explain the potency increases reported in some countries.

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Contact: Susan Savva
susan@addictionjournal.org
44-207-848-0853
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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