Higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the part of the marijuana plant that makes human high, are causing more people to become addicted in many parts of the world, new studies found. The Lancet Psychiatry journal published a study showing that high-potency cannabis use is more likely to lead to addiction and mental health problems than lower-potency uses.
A senior lecturer in the department of Psychology and director of the addiction and mental health group at the University of Bath in United Kingdom, Tom Freeman, who is also a coauthor of this study said that use of high potency cannabis, was linked to four-fold increased risk of addiction.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 3 out of 10 marijuana users have cannabis use disorder. The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addiction found a 76% rise in people entering treatment for cannabis potency continued to rise during the same time.
Freeman said that the proportion of people seeking treatment for cannabis addiction has increased in all world regions except Africa in the past two decades.
A gram of dried and harvested female marijuana plant tops, which are typically smoked, contains approximately 2.9 milligrams of THC per gram. The THC content of cannabis resin has increased by approximately 5.7 milligrams each year since 1975, the year when extracts and concentrations are made. THC levels in concentrated products can be extremely high. Compared to people who buy marijuana legally, those who buy cannabis illegally may not have access to reliable information about the precise potency of THC.
Cannabis extracts tend to be more potent than cannabis flowers, as certain types of cannabis are more potent than others. In spite of the fact that people try to adjust their consumption when the potency of the cannabis changes, “such as by adding less cannabis to their joint or inhaling less deeply”, those efforts are not successful. The potency of higher potency products is still higher than that of lower potency products.
As marijuana potency increased, there were more cases of marijuana-related psychosis. Psychosis is characterized by hearing voices or having delusions, as well as a loss of contact with reality. Freeman says the evidence linking cannabis potency to addiction and psychosis is compelling.
Users of high potency marijuana are more likely to develop generalized anxiety disorder than those who smoke less robust strains. A “more varied” connection has been found between depression and anxiety and the increase in marijuana potency. As a result, it appears that marijuana potency has little impact on mental health outcomes in general.