Is Marijuana Getting Stronger All Over the World?

By Victoria Kim 06/29/15

Legalization efforts both in the U.S. and abroad have led to higher consumption of more potent weed.

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Marijuana is getting stronger across the globe, resulting in a greater number of people seeking treatment for the drug, according to the latest annual World Drugs Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Due to advancements in plant cultivation like selective breeding, the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana has steadily increased over the past decade in the U.S. and Europe, according to the report.

In Europe, the average marijuana potency was more than 10% in 2012. In the states, THC content of marijuana increased from 3.7% in 1993 to 12.6% in 2013, according to federal seizure data. The report notes that this trend has coincided with an increase in hospital admissions and treatments related to marijuana in both Europe and the U.S.

The same trend is occurring in Colorado, which is in its second year of implementing a recreational marijuana system after voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012. Marijuana consumption in the state, which is the first in the U.S. to implement retail sales of marijuana for recreational use, is higher and growing faster than the national average.

The UNODC said that several negative effects related to the drug were apparent in the years leading up to 2014, when retail marijuana stores were allowed to open on January 1. Calls to poison control centers, marijuana-related emergency room visits, and citations for driving under the influence of marijuana had all increased in that time.

However, a decline in arrests for possession, which frees up law enforcement resources for more serious crimes, and an estimated $76 million in state revenue from both medical and retail marijuana in 2014 are some benefits of legalization, the report said.

Despite what we know now, the true impact of legalization is yet unknown, the UNODC said. Years of data must be examined before the effect of commercially available marijuana can be properly interpreted.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr