Why Weed Is More Potent Than Ever Before

If you're wondering why you're lying facedown on the floor after just one bong rip.

If you’ve smoked weed at any point in the last decade, you likely got stoned out of your skull. Same. This is no accident. Marijuana is way more potent than it once was because cultivators are intentionally breeding strains of pot that are notably high in THC. And whether you purchase your bud from the plug on the street, or per a doctor-issued recommendation at the dispensary, the product is probably going to be strong as hell. 

According to a recently conducted federal study that looked at the THC content of illegal weed (sourced from samples the DEA seized), “overall, the potency of illicit cannabis plant material has consistently risen over time since 1995 from approximately 4 percent in 1995 to approximately 12 percent in 2014.” 

For Gizmodo, New York-based journalist Bucky Turco interviewed various experts on the chronic in an effort to glean insight into the increase in cannabis's potency. Mahmoud A. ElSohly, Ph.D. and director of the Marijuana Project, told Turco that weed's shifting legal status is a major contributing factor in the drug's increasing potency. Though there are also these four main factors:

“1) The cultivation practices in the cannabis industry has moved into the production of sinsemilla as the preferred product. Sinsemilla is the product generated from the flowering tops of female plants that have not been fertilized. It is the part of cannabis plant with the highest THC content.

2) The trimming of the cannabis products (sinsemilla or buds) and removal of all large leaves which have low levels of THC.

3) Selection of high THC varieties or strains for high cash value.

4) THC is known to produce tolerance in frequent users. Therefore the more one uses marijuana the more THC one needs to achieve the same degree of high one once had. So the users demand more marijuana or higher THC content.” 

Dr. ElSohly told reporters that for medicinal use, cannabis shouldn't be smoked as the plant's medicinal properties are put to more efficient use when extracted and concentrated. For context, some concentrates test at 90 percent THC content or higher. Now that's progress we can all appreciate.