Dating back 10,000 years ago, cannabis has been used throughout the ages by many ancient civilizations. It has for over a century been portrayed as an intoxicating, heavy-addicting drug but has progressively been embraced across the country and now socially acceptable. Now it is legalized and can be used recreationally or for medical purposes in a growing number of states including California.
If the potency is being measured by the level of THC, marijuana has definitely become stronger over time. Cannabis subculture only began to gain traction in the 1970s. The period was mainly characterized by all most potent buds uncrossed landrace strains, which were often named after their area of origin. In that age, the plant had lots of visible stems, and the bud was brown or dark green in color, leafy, and thinner. Those were lower quality plants than what we are used to. Today’s the top strains are characterized by dank, dense buds enclosed in shiny crystal-like trichomes.
Physical appearance aside, according to a study by the University of Mississippi, the THC content of marijuana has tripled since 1995. The researchers reviewed close to 39,000 samples of marijuana seized countrywide by the DEA (Drug Enforcement and Administration). Three decades ago, cannabis with over 10 percent THC was unheard of. Now, the in-demand strains command 20 percent or higher THC. While the average THC levels drifted around four percent in 1995, they hit the roof to around 12 percent in 2014. Flower entries consistently test around 30 percent THC. Such figures were seen for the first time in 2009 when cannabis scored 33 percent THC during a drug bust.
The progressive increase in potency can be attributed to the remarkable shift of focus on sinsemilla production. Sinsemilla refers to the top sections of female plants that have not been fertilized. It contains the highest levels of THC. The trimmings are usually cut off, and the large leaves that contain lower levels of THC removed. Strain selection also plays a significant role in contributing towards increased potency. Growers favor strains consisting of high cannabinoid levels. While landrace strains conquered the 60s to the 80s, the strongest strains today are hybrids of popular strains. New, stronger strains are being discovered every day.
With the enormous increase in THC levels, growers are now focusing on terpenes and other cannabinoids. When THC blends with other terpenes and cannabinoids new medical benefits are realized. As such, a well-balanced flower has the potential of possessing more potency compared to a flower sample with a high-THC content.
If you are in California and you’d like to know how strong the marijuana you’re producing or distributing is, contact CanMedLabs for all of your cannabis testing and analysis needs.Image: Thomas Morris