Potent pot is more Drug Czar myth than reality. http://www.slate.com/id/2074151
(Money quote as for as you are concerned: “As to Walters' claim that all those '70s hippies were getting goofy on the 1-percent stuff—the basis for his 30-fold increase claim—the number lacks credibility. No one smokes 1-percent dope, at least not more than once. You make rope with it. The industrial hemp initiative approved by state election officials in South Dakota this year defined psychoactively worthless hemp as a plant with a "THC content of 1 percent or less.")Only the Independent bought in and the Guardian took care of them. http://www.guardian.co.uk/drugs/Story/0,,2041749,00.htmlThe Guardian rebutted such nonsense in its Bad Science column.
There is exceptionally strong cannabis to be found in some parts of the UK market today: but there always has been. The UN Drug Control Programme has detailed vintage data for the UK online. In 1975 the LGC analysed 50 seized samples of herbal cannabis: 10 were from Thailand, with an average potency of 7.8%, the highest 17%. In 1975 they analysed 11 samples of seized resin, six from Morocco, average strength 9%, with a range from 4% to 16%.To get their scare figure, the Independent compared the worst cannabis from the past with the best cannabis of today. But you could have cooked the books the same way 30 years ago: in 1975 the weakest herbal cannabis analysed was 0.2%; in 1978 the strongest was 12%. Oh my god: in just three years herbal cannabis has become 60 times stronger.”
However, even if one assumes that potent pot is a reality it is certainly nothing to be concerned about. Indeed, saying that potent pot is reason for keeping marijuana illegal is akin to saying that alcohol should be banned because gin has higher alcohol content than beer. It makes no sense. The pharmacological affects of consuming 1 “chemically supercharged” joint, as various US attorneys like to say, versus x number of “dad’s joints” would be no different if the amount of THC consumed is the same. As for consumption, just as people do not drink the same volume of gin as beer, the higher the THC level in pot the less people consume. Hence, ironically more potent pot may be a welcome development. After all, one of the most prominent health effect related to marijuana, if not the most, is that it is usually smoked. The more potent the pot, the less people have to smoke to achieve the same high. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School concurs, so does Mitch Earleywine of the University of Southern California and so does UCLA’s Mark Kleiman.
Comparing marijuana strength through the years is "absurd," according to Lester Grinspoon, an emeritus professor at Harvard Medical School , who consults patients, many of them elderly, on using marijuana to relieve pain and nausea. "The whole issue on potency is a red herring," he said. "The more potent the pot, the less you use."Grinspoon said that studies have shown -- and his patients' experiences confirm -- that marijuana users smoke until they feel high -- or, as he prefers to say, "achieve symptom relief," -- and then stop, whether it took two hits or an entire joint. In this regard, today's higher-potency pot is no more "dangerous" than the bunk weed of yesteryear, he said.http://forums.cannabisculture.com/forums/printthread.php?Board=wwwpottv&main=374623&type=post
unlike the speculative claims of increased danger, peer-reviewed scientific data show that higher potency marijuana reduces health risks. Just as with alcohol, people who smoke marijuana generally consume until they reach the desired effect, then stop. So people who smoke more potent marijuana smoke less – the same way most drinkers consume a smaller amount of vodka than they would of beer – and incur less chance of smoking-related damage to their lungs.http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/19416/
The original ONDCP "Facts" correspond with estimates from UCLA professor Mark Kleiman that marijuana has roughly tripled in potency. Kleiman also notes that there is no evidence at all that marijuana is getting kids more stoned than it used to. Writing on his own blog, Kleiman cites the respected annual University of Michigan study that asks respondents about levels of intoxication. Writes Kleiman: "The line for marijuana is flat as a pancake. Kids who get stoned today aren't getting any more stoned than their parents were. That ought to be the end of the argument." Kleiman points out that the average joint is now half its former size, so even if kids are smoking more powerful pot, they are smoking less of it. " 'Not your father's pot' is a great way to convince [boomer parents] to ignore their own experience, personal orvicarious, and believe what they are told to believe."http://www.slate.com/?id=2074151
That said, if potency is the concern, then it should be legalized. As Martha Hall Findlay has noted, the only way to regulate the potency of pot is to legalize it. Moreover, so long as the drug is illegal, producers will seek to increase potency. The higher the potency the smaller the package the smaller the package the less likely they will get caught. Your son made the same argument. http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2007/06/26/jonathan-kay-on-marijuana-policy-and-a-rare-miss-for-the-globe-and-mail-s-peggy-wente.aspx
Finally, the distinction between potent pot and your dad’s marijuana is too clever by half. After all, it begs the following question. If today’s marijuana is truly different in kind from “dads marijuana”, would it be ok to legalize “dad’s marijuana”, i.e., low potency pot?
>>>>> Kay: Psychiatry professor Robin Murray of London's Institute of Psychiatry estimates that cannabis usage is causally linked to a full 10% of the U. K.'s 250,000 bipolar patients: "The number of people taking cannabis may not be rising, but what people are taking is much more powerful we may see more people getting ill as a consequence."
Murray was talking about Schizophrenia and the Lancet Study and not Bipolar patients. This quote appeared in many of the UK papers. For example:
“Many medical specialists agree that the debate has changed. Robin Murray, professor of psychiatry at London's Institute of Psychiatry, estimates that at least 25,000 of the 250,000 schizophrenics in the UK could have avoided the illness if they had not used cannabis. "The number of people taking cannabis may not be rising, but what people are taking is much more powerful, so there is a question of whether a few years on we may see more people getting ill as a consequence of that."http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/cannabis-an-apology-440730.html
This past summer a meta analysis of all articles dealing with marijuana and schizophrenia was published in the Lancet. That same day a score of sensationalist headlines appeared. Maia Szalavitz of States at George Mason University put those headlines following into context.
“A 40% increase in risk sounds scary, and this was the risk linked to trying marijuana once, not to heavy use. To epidemiologists a 40% increase is not especially noteworthy-- they usually don’t find risk factors worth worrying about until the number hits at least 200% and some major journals won’t publish studies unless the risk is 300 or even 400%. The marijuana paper did find that heavy use increased risk by 200-300%, but that’s hardly as sexy as try marijuana once, increase your risk of schizophrenia by nearly half!By contrast, one study found that alcohol has been found to increase the risk of psychosis by 800% for men and 300% for women.http://www.stats.org/stories/2007/will_one_joint_schizoid_july30_07.htm
Speaking of correlation that is precisely what epidemiological studies have consisted failed to show and there is no causation without correlation. Specifically, should there be a causal link between marijuana and schizophrenia, there should be a positive correlation between marijuana consumption and schizophrenia, but such a correlation is conspicuous by its absence. Despite a massive increase in the number of Australians consuming the drug since the 1960s, Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland found no increase in the number of cases of schizophrenia in Australia. http://www.november.org/stayinfo/breaking3/MJScience.html Mitch Earleywine of the University of Southern California similarly found the same with regard to the US population http://www.november.org/stayinfo/breaking3/MJScience.html and Oxford’s Leslie Iversen found the same regard to the population in the UK. http://www.stats.org/stories/2007/will_one_joint_schizoid_july30_07.htm According to Dr. Alan Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University,
"If anything, the studies seem to show a possible decline in schizophrenia from the '40s and the '50s,"http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2005/09/19/reefer_madness/index.html
As Szalavitz notes, this is marked contrast to what happened with cigarette consumption and lung cancer.
“ When cigarette smoking barreled through the population, lung cancer rose in parallel; when smoking rates fell, lung cancer rates fell.”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maia-szalavitz/reefer-inanity-never-tru_b_58353.html
>>>>>> Kay: British politicians have "drunk large" of the evidence, and reversed their position of moral indulgence. Two weeks ago, the Home Office in the U. K. announced: "Cannabis will be reclassified as a Class B drug, sending a strong message that the drug is harmful."
Dr Iddon, the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on drugs misuse [Britain], said the study did not convince him it was time to return cannabis to class B. "I don't think the causal link has been proved. I think cannabis might - possibly for genetic reasons - trigger psychosis at an earlier age." The MP, who is also a member of the science and technology select committee, said there was a danger of criminalising "hundreds of thousands of young people" if the status of the drug was changed. "If Gordon Brown changes the class of the drug, it won't be evidence-based but for political reasons," he said.
>>>> Thus, Smyth and others well-informed on the subject claim it is misleading to identify this super-strength cannabis as a "soft" drug. "Pot or weed essentially no longer exists," Smyth says, grimly concluding, "I am absolutely haunted by the irreparable harms this so-called innocuous drug has brought to the lives of [young users]."
Listen to the much better informed Lester Grinspoon, a psychiatrist and Professor Emeritus at the Harvard Medical School debate the hapless Barry MacKnight, chair of the Drug Abuse Committee for the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs on the issue of potency.