Cannabis Lite, Ctd

A reader counters a previous one:

“Unlike alcohol, where the proof is written on the bottle and assured by regulators, you can only gauge THC levels through trial-and-error or your dealer’s sales patter.” That’s another artifact of prohibition.  I work for an edibles company here in Colorado, we’ve developed a method of adding very precise amounts of active THC in food that’s already been prepared. Our big sellers are bags of 25 candies that each have just ten milligrams of THC in them.  An equivalent to e-cigarettes have also become popular among patients, which you can use to take very tiny puffs of vapor until you feel medicated enough and even the potency of the extract you vaporize can be controlled to some degree.  Both my company (as well as all edibles manufacturers) and companies filling cartridges for vapor pens are byproducts of a thriving and regulated cannabis industry; neither is practical for the black market and neither can be done at home.  Another byproduct of an industry is that there are a couple labs where I think anybody can take a sample of something to be tested for cannabinoid content.

Your reader is also incorrect in his supposition about the potency of black market pot.

It’s actually quite hard, and quite expensive to produce marijuana with much about 16% THC; 12% or 13% would be more likely for street weed, you might get as much as 8% in Mexican brickweed.  It’s impossible to go above that in an outdoor grow, and indoors getting a plant to its full potential potency requires growing them inches from thousand watt floodlights but not letting them get above 75 degrees with the lights on.  Not only does the expense produce diminishing returns but the air conditioning is incredibly conspicuous.

Further, the strains that can produce high potency tend to have much lower per-plant yields and black market growers grow for yield above all else.  Breeding really has increased potential potency but high-end growing/breeding like that and black market growing are two very different worlds that don’t actually intersect much.  The only major overall increase in the potency of black market marijuana happened when sinsemilla – growing only unpollinated female plants so they spend their energy creating THC-laden resin rather than seeds – became the standard, and that happened in the ’70s. Everything about increased potency on the street since then has been pure propaganda.

Update from a reader:

I thought the reader was not actually contradicting either of the points in the previous post (lack of dosage information and increased potency of weed since the 1970s are artifacts of prohibition), but he too casually dismisses as “propaganda” the notion that black market pot has increased in purity.

It’s common knowledge that cannabis quality and availability has increased steadily since the 1970s. The reader confuses the THC content of the plant with the purity of the product. In 1993, a New Yorker buying weed in Washington Square Park was likely to get a few grams of junk, seeds, and stems mixed in with his baggie. Today, black market product in the city is sold by reputable delivery services who compete to provide quality and variety. Whether this is a result of increased crop yields or increased THC content in the cannabis plant is immaterial: you will get a much larger dose of THC from a gram of 2013 delivery weed than from the same gram purchased on the street 20 years ago. A similar – and much more dangerous – phenomenon has occurred with harder drugs like heroin, where overdoses can lead to death.