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Distortion 1: Drug Use After Prohibition Ends

Distortion 2: Drug Use Estimates

Distortion 3: Needle Exchange

Distortion 4: Harm Reduction

Distortion 5: Methadone Treatment

Distortion 6: Emergency Room Visits

Distortion 7: Gateway

Distortion 8: Ecstasy

Distortion 9: Cannabis As Medicine

Distortion10: Young People and Drugs

Distortion 11: Marijuana Potency

Distortion 12: Cannabis and Driving

Distortion 13: US Crime Rates

Distortion 14: Cannabis and Drug Treatment

Distortion 15: People Only Smoke Pot To Get High, Whereas They Drink Alcohol To Be Sociable

Distortion 16: ONDCP's 'Open Letter on Marijuana' & the AntiDrug Media Campaign

Distortion 17: Cannabis and Drug Treatment Part II

Distortion 18: Cannabis and Mental Illness

Special: NORML's Truth Report 2005, An Analysis & Response To The Drug Czar's Open Letter About Marijuana

Special: Debunking The Myths — Chronic Pain & Opiods, by Frank Fisher, MD

Distortion 19: Estimating the Size of the Illicit Drug Market

Distortion 20: Methamphetamines

Distortion 21: US Crime Rates & Arrest Rates

Distortion 22: Marijuana & Violence


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Distortion 11: Marijuana Potency

Distortion 11: "Parents are often unaware that today's marijuana is different from that of a generation ago, with potency levels 10 to 20 times stronger than the marijuana with which they were familiar." US Drug Czar John Walters, "The Myth of 'Harmless' Marijuana," Washington Post, May 1, 2002, p. A25.

False.

Federal research shows that the average potency of cannabis in the US has increased very little. According to the federal Potency Monitoring Project, in 1985, the average THC content of commercial-grade marijuana was 2.84%, and the average for high-grade sinsemilla in 1985 was 7.17%. In 1995, the potency of commercial-grade marijuana averaged 3.73%, while the potency of sinsemilla in 1995 averaged 7.51%. In 2001, commercial-grade marijuana averaged 4.72% THC, and the potency of sinsemilla in 2001 averaged 9.03%.
Source: Quarterly Report #76, Nov. 9, 2001-Feb. 8, 2002, Table 3, p. 8, University of Mississippi Potency Monitoring Project (Oxford, MS: National Center for the Development of Natural Products, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2002), Mahmoud A. ElSohly, PhD, Director, NIDA Marijuana Project (NIDA Contract #N01DA-0-7707).

Even the Drug Enforcement Administration concedes ( "Drug Intelligence Brief: The Cannabis Situation in the United States, December 1999") that "According to University of Mississippi analyses, the THC content of commercial-grade marijuana has risen slowly over the years from an average of 3.71 percent in 1985 to an average of 5.57 percent in 1998. These analyses also show a corresponding rise in sinsemilla THC content from 7.28 percent in 1985 to 12.32 percent in 1998." More recently, the US National Drug Intelligence Center's "National Drug Threat Assessment 2002 " report, released December 2001, stated that "Overall, potency, as characterized by THC content, is still increasing. According to data from the Potency Monitoring Project, the THC content of commercial-grade marijuana increased from 1997 to 2000 for commercial-grade (4.25% to 4.92%) and for sinsemilla (11.62% to 13.20%)."

As noted by the DEA, "The Cannabis Potency Monitoring Project, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and conducted by the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Mississippi, is the indicator program that tracks changes in the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content (the potency) of cannabis (marijuana, hashish, and hashish oil) seized in the United States. THC, one of the 61 cannabinoids among more than 400 compounds found in the cannabis plant, is the principal psychoactive component in the plant. Potency is expressed as the percentage of THC per dry weight of plant material." The following table is taken directly from the DEA website, last accessed May 5, 2002.

Average THC Content of Marijuana

percent 1985 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Commercial
3.71
3.97
4.52
4.25
4.19
4.77
5.56
5.57
Sinsemilla
7.28
8.57
5.77
7.49
7.51
9.23
11.55
12.32

Source: Potency Monitoring Program, University of Mississippi, June 30, 1999.

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