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Why Cannabis Is Getting More Potent

Written by Alexandra Hicks

Anyone that’s been using cannabis for a long time can attest to the fact that it’s been getting increasingly stronger…

Since the late 70s when the cannabis counterculture movement was really gaining traction, THC content as increased by over 30 percent! Today’s weed definitely ain’t your grandpa’s weed!

The University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project (UMPMC) tested cannabis samples from all 50 states in an effort to determine the average percentage of  THC. The highest sample ever tested came back with a whopping 37.20 percent THC and according to data High Times Cannabis Cups over the past few years, many entries are consistently testing at around 30 percent THC. To compare, the average THC content by decade is as follows: 1.37 percent in 1978, 3.59 percent in 1988, and 8.49 percent in 2008. Keep in mind that most of these statistics don’t include samples from the legal or medical market. These are samples that were seized by law enforcement and tested by the DEA.

Over time, cultivation techniques and testing methods have changed dramatically; leading to higher quality, more potent flowers. Some believe the popular technique of producing sinsemilla is part of the reason. Sinsemilla are the tops of female plants that have not been fertilized, these contain the highest levels of THC. Growers cut off trimmings and remove all large leaves on the bottom that THC don’t contain as much THC. Strain selection and crossbreeding popular strains is quite possibly the biggest contributor to this amazing evolution in cannabis quality though. Most of today’s strongest buds are hybrid mixes of other potent strains.

“Over the last decade, potencies in cannabis have risen sharply because of the adaptation of the plant sciences that have migrated from traditional agriculture into the cannabis scene. A major driver in the increased presence of cannabinoids is primarily due to better breeding, strain-crossing as well as tissue culturing,” stated Derek Peterson CEO of Terra Tech. “However the plant’s genetic makeup is just one component. In addition, we’ve seen an increase in scientific and data based plant cultivation techniques. Essentially, the combination of better genetics coupled with more advanced cultivation techniques have led to a higher quality end product.”

However, since THC levels are now presumably as high as they can get (pun intended), the focus has shifted to other cannabinoids and terpenes. Many of the most promising medical benefits can be attributed to THC working in tandem with other cannabinoids, so cannabis potency can’t be based on THC content alone.


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About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Managing editor at Cannadelics and U.S based journalist, helping spread the word about the many benefits of using cannabis and psychedelics.