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Was Marijuana Really Less Potent in the 1960s?

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posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 11:43 AM
Was Marijuana Really Less Potent in the 1960s?

This is a claim that I see popping up over and over again on these boards and for the longest time I couldn't properly refute it even though I didn't fully believe it. My go to response has always been that yes, top end strains ARE getting better, but that doesn't necessarily mean that average weed is getting better. I also say that likely average weed has remained about the same. Top end strains cost more money. When you buy one, you know because you spent more money on it. There is no deception here. A seller isn't going to trick you into buying a top end strain for cheaper because he paid more money for it as well. What economic sense would it make to do that? If pot potency is increasing, it isn't as dramatic as fearmongers make it out to be.

So, I was perusing the internet and found this article that pretty much agrees with me above.

For years, people have talked about increasing marijuana potency. The idea that pot is getting stronger—much stronger than the stuff that got passed around at Woodstock, for instance—is treated like conventional wisdom these days. Maybe it shouldn't be.

Damn right it shouldn't. Where is the research to corroborate this claim? Well here is old research.

The federal government has been testing marijuana potency for more than 40 years, and has long acknowledged the limitations to its methodologies. Along with some of the issues with gas chromatography—which it was still using at least as recently as 2008—the National Institute on Drug Abuse potency testing has always depended on what researchers have been able to get their hands on. Since 1972, tens of thousands of test samples for the Potency Monitoring Program have come from law enforcement seizures, which have varied dramatically in scope and type. A drop in THC concentration in the early 1980s, for instance, was attributed to the fact that most of the marijuana researchers analyzed came from weaker domestic crops.

In National Institute on Drug Abuse studies over the past several decades, the age of samples has varied from a few weeks old to a few years old—and researchers made no attempt to compensate for the loss of THC during prolonged storage, according to a 1984 paper. They also get different results when taking into account how the potency of a particularly large seizure could skew the overall sample. For example, measured one way, researchers found what looked like a continuous and significant increase in potency in the late 1970s. But normalizing those findings showed there was "an increase up to 1977 with slight decline in 1978 and a significant decline in 1979," according to a 1984 paper in the Journal of Forensic Science.

More recently.

More recently, researchers found a THC concentration that "gradually increase[d]" from 1993 to 2008, according to a 2010 paper in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. And despite testing limitations, researchers have always maintained potency is likely trending upward. But they've also always been upfront about the limitations to their findings: "The change in cannabis potency over the past 40 years has been the subject of much debate and controversy... The [Potency Monitoring] program has strived to answer this cannabis potency question, while realizing that the data collected in this and other programs have some scientific and statistical shortcomings."

Ultimately, researchers have found a "large variation within categories and over time," they wrote. That's in part because sample sizes have fluctuated. (In the 1970s, researchers assessed anywhere from three to 18 seizures a year. In 2000, they analyzed more than 1,000 seizures.)

In other words, it's difficult if not impossible to classify average potency in a way that can be tracked meaningfully over time. So while there's almost certainly more super-strong pot available today—if only by the fact that it's now legal to buy in multiple states—it doesn't mean that all marijuana is ultra-potent today, which is how the narrative about potency is often framed. There's also a point at which most strains can't get much stronger. "Anyone getting a reading over 25, it's really hard to do," said Murray of CannLabs. "And then it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to quote-unquote get higher. There's a lot of things that go into the plant—over 500 constituents of the plant that play into this."

So possibly a small increase over time.

Federal researchers, too, have characterized marijuana strains with THC concentrations above around 15 percent as unusual. "The question over the increase in potency of cannabis is complex and has evoked many opinions," researchers at the University of Mississippi wrote in a National Institute on Drug Abuse analysis of marijuana potency between 1993 and 2008. "It is however clear that cannabis has changed during the past four decades. It is now possible to mass produce plants with potencies inconceivable when concerted monitoring efforts started 40 years ago."

Obviously, the question isn't fully answered yet, but anyone fearing pot because they are afraid they may be accidentally sold some super strain of marijuana is fooling themselves. You'd know before even paying for it that you were getting some really good stuff. The article makes mention of mislabeled labels, but again, the process to make super strains is VERY involved and costs more money. It makes economic sense that a seller would have these strains properly marked just for the sole fact that he has to know which ones he has to sell at a higher cost.

Not surprisingly another prohibitionist claim turns out to be baseless rhetoric.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 11:45 AM
a reply to: Krazysh0t
It is stronger today than it was in the 1970's. I can't speak for the 1960's, I was alive then, but didn't inhale.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 11:50 AM
That's because media and politicians and "experts" always brings up skunk as the reference substance, but the fact remains that a lot more people smoke the plain stuff rather then skunk and the likes.

So yes, there exists more potent stuff, but that is not the same as saying that in general cannabis is stronger today.
I tried skunk once and will never go there again for recreation haha. Ended up getting in a cab home worth 100 dollars -.-

That part of the debate is nothing more than bashing and hoping that people will buy into it.

Thankfully the positive sides of classic psychedelics outweigh the dire cases.
edit on 6/3/15 by flice because: (no reason given)

(post by Elementalist removed for a serious terms and conditions violation)

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 11:51 AM
They have had the good stuff for centuries.

They have found high quality cannabis in old graves of the rich.

Now, this was not common. But, it did exist.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 11:52 AM

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 11:55 AM
Cultivation is important. Proper preparation, known as curing, is paramount to potency, though.

It involves technique and the plant, not just the plant.

As far as the question posed by the OP? I think there were likely instances of much greater potency in the 60s and 70s than we see today.

Check out the story of the "Hippie Hash Trail" that led Europeans and Americans to the Hindu Kush region in the 70s. Most edifying.

Hipitty Hopitty Hippy Trail

edit on 6-3-2015 by Bybyots because: . : .

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 11:59 AM
a reply to: Krazysh0t

If you smoked in the sixties or seventies and still smoke today the answer is quite clear.

Yes, it is more potent today.

When skunk first appeared it was the beginning of the game change.


posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:00 PM
My thought on it is that the methods of cultivation have been advanced since the 60s.

How it is grown and taken care of while growing is a big part in the quality.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:00 PM
There was a programme on U.K television on Tuesday nigh subtitled 'Cannabis on trial' and it looked at Hashish, which was smoked in the 60's through to the late 80's and skunk which has been genetically modified.

The big differences is that in Hash, although it has the same content of THC, also contains another cannaboid compound which counter acts the effects of THC. They found that the THC turned off a number of receptors in the brain giving a more intense darker feeling, but the other compound in hashish turned these receptors back on, giving a less intense feeling.

Regardless of the strength, they still found that both types was less dangerous to health than alcohol, but let's ignore that, just like the U.K Government did in 2008.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:01 PM
I recently heard of the Haze bros and did some google searching to see if there was any truth to these legendary growers:

HT’s senior cultivation editor Danny Danko tracks down the goods on a legendary marijuana strain with an almost psychedelic punch.

Hazy Origin Our tale begins in the late 1960s in Santa Cruz, where a mild climate and a dry autumn combine to allow farmers to extend their outdoor growing season beyond October. Here, along the California coastline, the Haze Brothers cultivated an exotic variety of pot that quickly earned fame within the area’s small circle of cannabis connoisseurs at that time. The Original Haze, rumored to contain tropical genetics from Thailand, Mexico, and Colombia, delivered an electric sativa jolt. The high was cerebral and uplifting, with almost no ceiling to the buzz.


Back in the day there was ten a bag rag, but there was high quality cannabis back then too. One of my California buddies who is in his sixties talks about the really good cannabis his Grandmother grew in the 70's!
edit on 6-3-2015 by AlaskanDad because: bold added

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:01 PM
It is true that potency has increased some due to hydroponics but we have to remember that back in the 60's & 70's about 70-75% of marijuana came from other countries and the bricks of product were mixed with everything from male, stems and seeds and only a small percentage of said brick contained what most of us smoke today.
edit on 6-3-2015 by thesaneone because: Add link

(post by Entreri06 removed for a serious terms and conditions violation)

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:03 PM
If you can remember smoking pot in the sixties,
then you weren't really there.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:07 PM

originally posted by: Krazysh0t
Was Marijuana Really Less Potent in the 1960s?

Depends...if you had a consistent supply of Thai Stick(fer instance) then no. It might be the wrong question, as it came down to availability.Depended on who you knew. Everybody these days has access to high-octane material. Back in the day, it was rare (yippy!!) to encounter the equivalent on the street.

Or so I'm told.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:18 PM
While hybrid strains have caused a slight increase in potency. The main reason weed wasn't as potent is because brick weed from Mexico was poorly packaged and took months if not years to make it to your lungs. Lots of the " crystals" would be damaged by the time it was consumed. People that grew their own back then wouldn't see a huge difference.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:24 PM
Yes it definitely is stronger.
It's almost a completely different plant.
A guy created skunk by mixing sativa and indicia and modern skunk weed has 3 times more THC in than standard weed.
And is way, way more potent than anything back in the 60's
It's almost a different drug altogether now.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:32 PM
Maybe not the wild organic stuff. I can't see how that has changed.

Yield and potency manipulation has come along way, specifically to marijuana, with blue spectrum lighting, super cropping, and hybridization.

I'm inclined to think that the "average Joe" has wider access to information, hardware and premixed supplements.

Its EASIER to grow better pot today.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:37 PM
Top strains may have likely increased minimally in the last generation or so. Access to top strains has increased tremendously in the last generation. Even this, would depend on location. Some areas having access to local grown awesome strains, other areas depending heavily on imported schwag.

In the last 20 years you've seen in my state a huge change from the majority of purchases being mexican schwag, to local and imported sensi. That's something else which needs be mentioned. If you don't select for the ladies, and throw out the males, you'll have a bunch of lower grade hermaphrodites. How many knew and cared to take this step 30+ years ago? A lot of the higher quality comes down to cultivating it sensi, not as much down to the strain.

So it depends on how you're qualifying the question, to a large degree. In a general sense, most definitely, in specific senses, perhaps not so much.

posted on Mar, 6 2015 @ 12:40 PM
Well, as a 60's guy I'll say the following.

Just like the pres, I didn't inhale, and I still dont

It may appear to some that its gotten more potent, but I dont think thats true, whats happened is the good stuff has been removed from the market!
With just the weaker strains left it made it look like the skunks were a new stronger strain, and hence the price could be raised!

Bring back the Nepalese and do a comparison, bring back the real afghany black, test against those and I think we'd see different results!

But I'm only guessing because I didn't inhale

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