Photo by Keti Images

Learn | 05.27.2022

Has Weed Gotten Stronger Over The Years?

Let's dive into the cold hard facts.

Do you have relatives that would often get stoned back in the day? 

While cannabis was pretty popular in the 60, 70s, and 80s, it wasn’t as strong as what we’re smoking today. 

There are a few reasons for that, and we’ll share the facts below. 

What’s Known

We could try to convince you that weed has gotten a lot stronger, but it’s best to leave that to the professionals. One study published in the National Library of Medicine claims that THC content in cannabis has tripled.

The researchers analyzed THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis plants responsible for a high. They found that THC content in particular strains has skyrocketed from 4% to 12% over a few years. 

Another in-depth report shared at the American Chemical Society meeting in 2015 highlighted that some strains had THC levels of 10% in the 80s. This would be seen as a beginner strain today, considering most THC levels range from 15-30%. 

Similarly, the Potency Monitoring Program (PMP) has been in place since 1972. 

  • Sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Led by the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Mississippi 

As its name implies, the PMP is responsible for monitoring the potency of cannabis given by law enforcement that’s been confiscated.

Back in the 70s, the average THC levels in cannabis ranged from 4-7%. However, it’s worth noting that cannabis confiscations weren’t as widespread today, meaning the sample size isn’t that reliable. 

Why Is Weed Stronger Today?

Photo by Kindel Media / Pexels

For one thing, cannabis handed over to the PMP was usually very old or not cared for properly. As a result, the THC degrades over time and produces far less potent effects than when harvested. 

So it could be that testing and THC monitoring wasn’t implemented when these plants were at their freshest, leading to a clear answer that cannabis is stronger today. 

When modern research analyzes THC content, it uses the freshest and most recently harvested buds that have been carefully preserved in vacuum-sealed bags or tins with humidity packs. 

On the factual side, cannabis is far stronger today due to intense cross-breeding. When cultivators find a strain rich in THC, it’s intriguing to breed that strain with another potent plant to produce a powerful psychoactive offspring. 

Closing Thoughts

When preparing for a debate with your seasoned cannabis user relative, remember that the weed they smoked back in the day could be less potent due to improper care and storage. 

Furthermore, THC testing and monitoring in the 70s and 80s had very small sample sizes and used old weed for their findings. 

If the plants had been adequately stored with contemporary technology and equipment, we would probably see less of a drastic increase in THC over the years. 

But needless to say, modern cross-breeding plays a vital role in the strong, potent, and psychoactive weed we know and love. 

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