As a regular cannabis consumer, it starts to get irritating when you hear claims that most UK street weed has mind bending levels of THC in it.
This kind of media content often attracts the attention of a cannabis consumer who wants to know where they can get such good quality herb from. Then upon reading the article, it tells them the average THC per cent of this dangerous street skunk is only around 14%.
Not quite what they were hoping for!
Now, there is an age old argument (that age being the age of prohibition but particularly the last 20 years of it) where proponents of the war on drugs have postured that cannabis is 10, 30 and even 100 times stronger than “what your grandparents smoked in the 60’s”. Mathematically, it’s almost impossible. If the weed was 2% THC and it was 10 times stronger that would make it 20% THC, 60% if it’s times 30 and 200% THC if it is times 100!
Seeing as I started with a psychoactive dose that is closer to hemp and wouldn’t get a donkey high you can gather that – even if the pot that was being smoked in the 60’s and 70’s was 8% THC (no one is actually arguing this figure I’m just giving an example) there is no way that it could even be as little as ten times stronger – so the evidence backs up prohibitionists really like to lie and can be incredibly convincing in the process.
An analysis of 995 samples seized by the police suggests that more of the cannabis being seized by UK police is high potency – which by the Government’s standards means it is not import traditional cannabis like Thai Stick and Jamaican Sess, and import hashish from India, Morocco and Afghanistan.
In 2016, 94% of police seizures were high-potency marijuana, compared to 85% in 2008 and 51% in 2005. What the report does not detail is that police seizures for cannabis have also dropped so the collection of the samples from 2005, 2008 compared to 2016 will have been taken when policing strategies for cannabis can be deemed to be quite different.
Plus, with more people becoming increasingly aware of how to grow cannabis and get the best out of their product it is kind of expected to see more better quality cannabis available.
It’s worth mentioning that two board members of GW Pharmaceuticals contributed to the funding of the ‘street weed is too high in THC’ study – and also worth adding they are getting ready to launch their CBD only medicine, Epidiolex. (see video below)
Medical cannabis producer Bedrocan have their self titled strain available in a number of countries. In Canada it is grown to 22% THC and has less than 1% CBD content in effect making it fall into the UK Government’s definition of “Skunk” (it’s actually a Haze variety though but there’s just no telling some people)!
While this information that cannabis in the UK is all pretty much high grade varieties it does leave a void in the market for those seeking strains that aren’t so THC dominant. But good quality low THC strains are hard to come by unless you know a grower – who is also probably a patient using it for medical purposes.
The Historical Cannabis Analysis
Another fantastic bit of evidence diminishes claims of cannabis being stronger now than it has ever been is in a botanical specimen residing in the ‘Smoking & Stimulants’ cabinet at the Pitt Rivers Anthropology Museum, Oxford. The sample was collected from London’s famous Kew Gardens in 1896 and originates from Berar, India. In 1999 D.J. Harvey of the Oxford University Department of Pharmacology undertook a study which tested cannabis samples collected between 1896 and 1905 to determine their cannabinoid content.
What D.J. Harvey found was interesting. If you are to believe the rhetoric of the anti cannabis brigade you would think this was going to be really low THC and probably have good levels of CBD in it. Wrong! What the scientist actually discovered was the resin content of the 1896 Berer, India sample contained 12.3% resin. When analysed for its chemical make up lab results determined that 44.51% of the oil recovered was CBN, while there were only trace levels of THC and just as little CBD.
CBN or Cannabinol is a degradation of THC – the psychoactive compound in cannabis. This would indicate that there was quite a high level of THC in this specimen when it was first cropped 122 years ago…now that’s what I call curing your weed (the trim job doesn’t look bad either)! It is worth noting that the test used Gas Chromatography to analyse the samples which involves heating the sample up to 200 degrees celsius – something likely to decarboxylate cannabinoids (convert from their acid form – THCa into THC) and even possibly degrade some. It would be interesting to see new studies with more up to date lab equipment.
But wait…Little to no CBD, the natural balancing cannabinoid that prohibition growers have purposefully bred out of cannabis to create super skunk to get the youth of today hooked and funding drug terrorists for the rest of their lives? How can this be? Well…as we discovered earlier folks, prohibitionist like to make things up regardless of the societal impact it may cause as long as it helps them maintain the status quo.
The cannabis from 1896 India was probably as potent as the average cannabis tested in the recent study claiming 94% of street cannabis was super strength skunk. In 1896 they just called it “ganjah”.
What this indicates in all honesty, is that cannabis potency has stayed pretty much the same in over 120 years but availability to that good quality has never been as easily available as it is now. Imported cannabis crops are traditionally a year old meaning that THC levels are likely to be lower due to the conversion of THC to CBN. Yes, sure, there of course is a huge variation in the quality and the cannabinoid ratio of the abundance of traditionally produced and imported cannabis of today, but all three samples in D.J. Harvey’s study had indication of high THC levels with little to no CBD.
And as today’s modern skunk debate keeps stinking on, this bit of pharmacology is something that should be remembered.
Jamesjoyz who posted the photo on Reddit in 2017 said “Now my secret dream is sneaking into this museum at night and having a spliff of XIX century ganja.”
Technically, the sample from Kew Gardens was cultivated under a legal political climate as the first cannabis laws that imposed it being used for intoxication came 34 years later in 1928.
Super Strong Legal Weed
So, we have looked at the standard of illegal commercial UK street weed, now while we are on the subject of legal weed we thought it would be a good idea to look at some of the incredible and ridiculously resin coated cannabis coming out of some of the medical and recreational cultivation facilities in the quazi legal US.
While testing in the US is not a standardized proceedure due to a Federal Road Block called The War On Drugs and the DEA, results from lab to lab vary considerably. There are a few credible labs however, that are working hard to try and set a standard for the states that are making the journey towards full and outright recreational legalisation as well as conducting their activity in numerous medical states to help best serve marijuana businesses and patients a like. The more responsible the cannabis industry can help everyone become, the less potential there is for harm or negative experiences with cannabis. Accountability has become everything.
Next up is this Ethos Genetics, CrescendO. The yield looks generous and every nug looks like it should be in my jar…or on some miniature winter or mountain landscape.
This Karma Genetics stunning specimen of Sour OG by Gas Pack Gardens also deserves a show, how could it now with such a beautiful dense stacking of trichomes across the surface of the bud. Now that’s what I call Top Shelf.
And just because we are on the story of here we have a classic for the collection! A 1988 Skunk #1 that was originally germinated in LA, California that has been living in Spain throughout the Medical Marijuana years and has just found her way back home for a breeding project looking to bring back the original Skunk smells that have seemingly been bred out of cannabis over the last 15 years. It really is rare to get an original skunk smelling Skunk pheno these days so this will be exciting.
88 skunk 1 Left Cali in 88 and went to Europe where she lived until last year. She must have loved that Spanish sun she basked under for the last few decades because she thrived here in our southern Humboldt climate. Blistering clear high with that nasty I dragged my sneakers on the pavement till they melted kinda smell.
Jah forbid the UK media find out though, they might just go psychotic over it!
It may be the case that there is certainly more high THC cannabis available in the UK than ever before, but cannabis is by no means getting stronger, people are just working out how to get the best out of the plant with science, technology and botanical understanding that our time and age have afforded us.
By Greg de Hoedt