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Is Cannabis Flower Getting More Potent?

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Written by Alexandra Hicks

According to a recently released pan-European study, cannabis flower and resin/concentrates have doubled in potency, and also increased in price.

This study, led by Dr. Tom Freeman and published in the journal Addiction from the University of Bath and King’s College London, has been tracking cannabis potency in 28 EU states for a full decade. Between 2006 and 2016, the average cannabis flower potency has increased from 5% to 10%, and concentrates/resin have seen a similar jump, from 8% to 17%.

In terms of price, flower jumped from 7.36 Euros/gram to 12.22 while resin/concentrate has increased from 8.21 Euros/gram to 12.27. What’s interesting is that the average prices seemed to have leveled out, while in the United States resin/concentrate price is significantly higher than flower.

Freeman claims that these results indicate cannabis products have overall become “more potent with a better value – but with higher risks.” Allegedly, cannabis products with high levels of THC have been linked to problems with addiction and psychosis, although these claims require more research to be fully proven.

Not only the Cannabis flower is getting more potent, but also hemp flowers. (Empire Wellness Special Sauce hemp flower, from the Recreational CBD Weekly newsletter)

Not only the Cannabis flower is getting more potent, but also hemp flowers. (Empire Wellness Special Sauce hemp flower, from the Recreational CBD Weekly newsletter)

One of the positive things this study noted about resin/concentrates is that in addition to THC, most also contain high levels of CBD. Freeman mentioned that, “CBD has the potential to make cannabis safer, without limiting the positive effects users seek. What we are seeing in Europe is an increase in THC and either stable or decreasing levels of CBD, potentially making cannabis more harmful. These changes in the illicit market are largely hidden from scientific investigation and are difficult to target by policy-makers. An alternative option could be to attempt to control THC and CBD content through regulation.”

CBD could offset some of the common negative effects of THC such as paranoia, forgetfulness, and fatigue. It also provides users with the “entourage effect” of cannabinoids working together to benefit users both emotionally and medically.

In Europe, statistics show that 24 million adults used cannabis in the last year and across the globe that number skyrockets to 192 million. These numbers account for all the varying markets from illegal users to medical patients to legal recreational users.

It’s important to keep in mind that while the cannabis flower potency is definitely increasing in Europe, and the rest of the world, long term effects are still very much dependent on what the user is accustomed to and their individual state of mind. For example, high-quality cannabis in California averages 18-22% THC content, while resin/concentrates can reach as high as 90%. My personal experience is that cannabis addiction is not a serious issue for American users any more than it is throughout the rest of the world, despite access to much stronger products. Naturally, when high-THC cannabis is used daily it can become a habit that’s hard to break, but I believe it’s unlikely that one would develop the physical addiction that comes along with nicotine or other drugs.

What are your thoughts on the cannabis flower potency and dependency? Have you noticed any trends? We’d love to hear about your personal experiences, drop us a line in the comment section below!

(Image credit: Liad & ParkLight)

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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.