Marijuana potency
Marijuana potency

How Marijuana Prohibition Made Cannabis More Potent

Why Legal Limits on Possession Helped Make Cannabis Grow Stronger

Posted by:
Reginald Reefer on Monday Oct 29, 2018

How Marijuana Prohibition Made Cannabis More Potent

Whenever you talk to a prohibitionist about cannabis, there are a few telltale arguments that you’ll run into. One of these arguments sound something like this, “Marijuana is MUCH stronger than it was in the 60s” or “This isn’t your mom’s pot!” with the hopes of derailing people from the path of legalization. 

The reason why prohibitionists love to say these things is because they believe that by pointing out that cannabis is more potent than it has ever been, that the increase in potency increases risk. While there is some evidence to suggest some people may be adversely affected by consuming high potency pot, the vast majority of consumers never have any trouble with it.

But what’s even more interesting is that the reason cannabis is more potent can be directly linked back to prohibition itself. We can just take a look at alcohol prohibition and the effect it had on the potency of the liquor back in the day.


A Page from the book of alcohol prohibition

In 1919, 200,000 breweries and saloons were suddenly closed due to alcohol prohibition. As a result, consumers fled to underground establishments known as Speakeasies. Due to the illegality of alcohol, these illegal establishments had to adjust their inventory to meet the demand of the public and as a result, it became more convenient to move 1 barrel of a strong liquor as opposed to several barrels of malt liquor [beer].

Thus, the presence of Whiskey and Gin became ever more prevalent. This is because under an illegal system, you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck. High levels of ethanol meant fewer barrels which meant more business for less effort.

This is just basic economics. But how do we translate this to the world of cannabis?


How Prohibition Made Weed More Potent

Under cannabis prohibition, the amount of weed you are caught with will dictate the punishment. It’s very different getting caught with 2 grams than it is getting caught with 2 pounds. What’s the difference?

With 2 grams of weed, there is no possible way that you are trying to sell the weed. In this example, you’d get busted for mere possession which in most places comes with a fine and perhaps some community service.

However, 2 pounds of weed will definitely get you an ‘intent to distribute’ or ‘drug trafficking charges’ which are felony offenses.

Since Nixon and sub sequentially Raegan ramped up the war on drugs, getting caught with a lot of weed was a bad thing. Similar to alcohol prohibition, the cannabis market shifted and started producing more potent strains through selective breeding.

This isn’t to say that there weren’t potent strains in the 60s. Things like Acapulco Gold have always had a higher THC level than regular weed, even back then. However, since then people have become more efficient in their growing methods. With selective breeding, they started increasing THC levels and decreasing CBD levels [what counteracts the THC].

Now, we can see some monster strains hit 30% THC as a result.

But why increase the potency?

Well, with more potent weed, you need less and are able to sell it for more. Once more, basic economics folks!

Why carry around an ounce of brick weed when you can have a few grams of premium cannabis that will get you higher for longer with lower risk of getting busted.

The problem with the increase of THC and the reduction of CBD in cannabis strains is that some people are simply more susceptible to adverse reactions. As mentioned, we’re talking about 1 in 15 people who might have a problem with high levels of THC, however those people become talking points for prohibitionists when things go awry.


How a Regulated System Can Help

I’m all for everyone growing weed as potent as they want. I don’t believe there should be any restrictions on home grown cannabis. I do however think that for the general public, it’s important to impose certain standards with commercial cannabis.

For instance, making a clear distinction between mild, medium and potent weed is a good thing. Some people don’t want to get zonked out of their minds. Perhaps, they feel comfortable with a solid 8% THC in their weed. Others, might want to hit the low 20% margins.

Consumers should have the right to choose. Under a regulated market, we’d be able to provide options to consumers, allowing them to decide what’s the best strain and potency for them.

At heart, I’m an anarchist. But within a massive market like cannabis, I do see the benefit of some regulation albeit it should be only restricted to commercial cannabis. If you’re growing ultra-potent pot at your home, nobody should be meddling with your business.

The point being, if prohibitionists are so worried about the alleged dangers of marijuana….a regulated system is the safest way to go. You will never be able to eradicate cannabis from this planet and boy have they tried…and failed miserably.

How Marijuana Prohibition Made Cannabis More Potent Today from CannabisNet on Vimeo.








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