Saturday, 14 June 2008

Drug Potency Myths & the ABC ... Again!

Another Zero Tolerance/Prohibitionists lie has been exposed.

A recent article reputes the myth that the newer, stronger cannabis (i.e. ‘Skunk’) is now more dangerous than it was because THC levels have increased. It’s amazing simple really ... If cannabis is stronger, you need to use less.  Just like if you need 12 cans of beer to get drunk, you would only need 6 cans with a higher alcohol content. The argument that cannabis is stronger than what our parents used just means less consumption. Myth dispelled, hysteria over, more junk science in the trash. 

And of course there's hash. It's THC levels are not just 9.6% but about 50% and that has been around for as long as I can remember. They conveniently forgot about that.

And what is it with the so called, ‘respectable’ media of late? This is the second time in a few days that the ‘respectable’ Australian media have chopped up a story that dispels some drug/alcohol myths which have bombarded us for the last year or two. Instead of celebrating the truth amongst the mountains of lies, propaganda and drug/alcohol hysteria, some media outlets have been complicit in the shonky practice of cherry picking information and manipulating the public. 

Only last week the ABC joined the ranks of other dodgy media groups with a radio report that was so far from reality that it was scary. They declared that marijuana is no longer a soft drug and a new report proved it. Except the report was a sham that even a Daily Telegraph reader would cringe at. The report claimed that 15 men who smoked over 5 joints a day for 10 years had damage to their brain. And this was the basis on which the ABC reported that cannabis was much more dangerous than we thought. Yeah, it’s hysterical. With that sort of abuse, I am surprised there wasn’t more damage and if anything, the findings proved that it took massive levels of cannabis abuse to cause minimal damage. A joint is about the equivalent of 3-5 bongs which means these stoners were having 18-25 bongs a day! Jeepers, does this sound like the average casual dope smoker. pffft. They were hard core smokers who makes up only a tiny fraction of marijuana users.

Now the ABC has taken an Associated Press article about a press release from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and removed sections that contradict the report. Read the two articles below and you will find that the Fairfax publications have included the whole AP article but the ABC website has edited out important comments from a psychology professor at the State University of New York that proved otherwise. The original article indicates that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have kept up their usual anti-drugs rhetoric and have mislead the public. The ABC though have given the story the completel opposite spin by only including the propaganda that the article disputes. Really sloppy stuff. The ABC article will undoubtedly be used by prohibitionists and the Zero Tolerance twits as evidence for their own selfish causes. The real story though from the SMH and The Age is a huge slap in the face to the propaganda campaigners and will finally put to rest another prohibitionist lie.

Marijuana is very potent and very dangerous stuff. It is a far cry from the mild stuff us hippies in the 60s used to toke on. It is many times more powerful, and extremely dangerous. It is much stronger because of higher THC levels (the “high” producing element of cannabis). With increased potency comes increased health risks.

Because today’s marijuana may be as much as 15 times stronger than that smoked in the 1960s, it is much more dangerous.

-Bill Muehlenberg. Culture Watch

Thankfully, according to a 2007 report by NDARC, the majority of Australians are now more street-wise about the increased potency of present day cannabis.

-Jo Baxter. Drug Free Australia (DFA)

The evidence is that fewer children are even experimenting with cannabis, which is a far more potent drug today than it was when Nimbin's hippies were young.

-Miranda Devine.  Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald / The Age

Drug Potency Doubles

June 12, 2008

Marijuana potency increased last year to the highest level in more than 30 years, posing greater health risks to people who may view the drug as harmless, a new US report says.

The latest analysis from the University of Mississippi's Potency Monitoring Project tracked the average amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in samples seized by law enforcement agencies from 1975 to 2007.

It found that the average amount of THC reached 9.6 per cent last year, compared with 8.75 per cent in 2006.

The 9.6 per cent level represents more than a doubling of marijuana potency since 1983, when it averaged just under 4 per cent.

"Today's report makes it more important than ever that we get past outdated, anachronistic views of marijuana," said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He cited baby boomer parents who might have misguided notions that the drug contains the weaker potency levels of the 1970s.

"Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implications in particular for young people," Walters said. He cited the risk of psychological, cognitive and respiratory problems, and the potential for users to become dependent on drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

While the drug's potency may be rising, marijuana users generally adjust to the level of potency and smoke it accordingly, said Mitch Earleywine, who teaches psychology at the State University of New York in Albany and serves as an adviser for marijuana advocacy groups.

"Stronger cannabis leads to less inhaled smoke," he said.

The White House office attributed the increases in marijuana potency to sophisticated growing techniques that drug traffickers are using at sites in the United States and Canada.

A report from the office last month found that a teenager who has been depressed in the past year was more than twice as likely to have used marijuana than teenagers who have not reported being depressed - 25 per cent compared with 12 per cent. The study said marijuana use increased the risk of developing mental disorders by 40 per cent.

"The increases in marijuana potency are of concern since they increase the likelihood of acute toxicity, including mental impairment," said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funded the University of Mississippi study.

"Particularly worrisome is the possibility that the more potent THC might be more effective at triggering the changes in the brain that can lead to addiction," Dr Volkow said.

But there's no data showing that a higher potency in marijuana leads to more addiction, Dr Earleywine said, and marijuana's withdrawal symptoms are mild at best.

"Mild irritability, craving for marijuana and decreased appetite - I mean those are laughable when you talk about withdrawal from a drug. Caffeine is worse."

The project analysed data on 62,797 cannabis samples, 1302 hashish samples, and 468 hash oil samples obtained primarily from seizures by law enforcement agencies in 48 states since 1975.

ABC News

Pot Potency Climbing Rapidly: US Officials

June 13, 2008

Marijuana sold in the United States today is on average more than twice as strong as it was 25 years ago, increasing the threat of serious mental impairment in users, US drug policy officials say.

The average level of THC - marijuana's psychoactive ingredient - in seized drug samples is 9.6 per cent, compared to just under 4 per cent in 1983, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

And the highest THC level found in a sample of pot measured in recent months was an astounding 37.2 per cent, according to the research from the University of Mississippi's 32-year-old Potency Monitoring Project.

"The increases in marijuana potency are of concern since they increase the likelihood of acute toxicity, including mental impairment," Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a statement.

"Particularly worrisome is the possibility that the more potent THC might be more effective at triggering the changes in the brain that can lead to addiction; however, more research is needed to establish this link between higher THC potency and higher addiction risk," she said.

White House drug czar John Walters warned that the higher potency make marijuana a greater health threat than in the past.

"Baby boomer parents who still think marijuana is a harmless substance need to look at the facts.

"Marijuana potency has grown steeply over the past decade, with serious implication in particular for young people, who may be not only at increased risk for various psychological conditions, cognitive deficits and respiratory problems, but are also at significantly higher risk for developing dependency on other drugs."

4 comments:

zoot said...

I was a regular cannabis user from 1968 until 1993 and my use tapered off after that. I can, with my hand on my heart, attest that the dope I was smoking in the 90's was nowhere near as potent as the dope I was smoking in the 60's and 70's.
I would also add that in 1994 I gained a Certificate IV in Microcomputing Technology with an A+ average grade. My brain didn't appear to have sustained any serious damage. The only caveat I have is that I was an adult when I started smoking. Observation leads me to believe pot might be harmful to developing brains (but then again so might be nicotine).
I get particularly peeved when these studies are misused like this as there is a mountain of data stretching back to the nineteenth century which indicates cannabis is not as harmful as the drugs which we do sanction: alcohol and tobacco.
I'll get off my soapbox now and just point out that if these guys were smoking 5 joints a day it must have been piss weak weed.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks Zoot
Fantastic comment! You touched on some important 'facts' that contradict many of the reports that have an agenda to start.

My best mate in S.A. smoked more weed than a Jamaican reggae band since he was 20 y.o. and I noticed not one iota of difference in his intelligence or behaviour. He gave up a few years ago after 22 years of 5-20 pipes a day ... just like that. No addiction treatment, none of the supposed problems. And he was a growing legend with usually the best gear around. His take on the strength is that indoor gear might be stronger but it doesn't last as long. He grew outdoors and produced gear just as good as I have seen grown indoors. But he was an expert.

Ross Sharp said...

I've smoked enormous amounts of pot at various times in my life. I still enjoy the occasional spliff when I can manage to afford it. I didn't first smoke a joint until I was about 24/25, and, while there were times when I felt I was dependent on it (mostly as a way of trying to cope with some crappy life experiences), when I didn't have it, the withdrawals were exactly as Earleywine describes them, mild at worst and over and done with in 2 days.

I can't believe how a report based on 15 people is supposed to carry any weight. 15 people? That's 0.00007% of the population. What a load of hysterically stupid crap. If everyone who'd ever taken a drug more than a few times in their fucking lives went nuts because of it, half the country would be either completely insane or dead.

Terry Wright said...

"I can't believe how a report based on 15 people is supposed to carry any weight. 15 people? That's 0.00007% of the population. What a load of hysterically stupid crap. If everyone who'd ever taken a drug more than a few times in their fucking lives went nuts because of it, half the country would be either completely insane or dead."

Why are the comments on my blog so accurate?