Modern Weed: Your Potential One Way Ticket to Rehab Robert Coli

Marijuana is regularly featured in the national spotlight today. While the drug continues to gain traction towards worldwide legalization, countries like the United States have shown more restraint towards the idea.

This restraint is evident considering the fact that only 10 out of 50 states (20%) have legalized the use of recreational marijuana (businessinsider.com).

A more progressive country like the Netherlands offers a glimpse into what life can be like with the widespread legalization of cannabis.

Unfortunately, this glimpse has a dark side that gives major insight to the dangers of marijuana and how legalization, when taken advantage of, is landing consumers in drug treatment.

It is important to give some background on marijuana before diving into the study

The primary active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). More THC means higher potency, indicating that marijuana products with greater potency are stronger than marijuana in its original form. The potency of THC is greater when THC is processed into highly concentrated forms like “dabs” and “wax” (Pierre, etl. 2016). Some studies have even shown that wax and dab forms can have up to 80% THC content (Murray, etl. 2016).

A 16-year study conducted in the Netherlands by lead researcher Tom Freeman, along with others, dives deeper into the changing potency of cannabis and the impacts this has on cannabis users. The study found that admissions to treatment facilities increased with the rising levels of THC in the tested cannabis. More specifically, when the levels of THC in cannabis increased by 1%, first time admission to facilities rose by .37%. For perspective, say there are 100,000 people in rehab for cannabis, 370 more individuals would be admitted if cannabis potency increased by 1%. This is 370 sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends, and family members.

A separate 2008 study in New Zealand concluded that using high levels of cannabis early in “adulthood” is related to a variety of negative outcomes later in life. These negative outcomes include less satisfaction in life and relationships, less income and greater dependence on welfare (Fergusson 2008).

Freeman brings attention to the modern cannabis industry and why people must be careful when consuming cannabis. If cannabis can already have numerous negative effects on people’s lives and futures, then increasing potency of the drug has scary implications for regular consumers.

For example, Freeman shows that while the mean age where people first try cannabis is sixteen, the mean age of entry to treatment facilities is 26 years old. This means that cannabis potency can largely be blamed for admittance because changes in THC levels over a 10 year period were positively correlated with increasing admission to treatment facilities for cannabis related issues.

I hope this page sheds light on the dangers of potency changes in recreational cannabis. It is important that people ask questions like “who is making this stuff?” and “is this being regulated?”

If people don't ask these questions, changes will never be made in order to regulate marijuana potency. If no action is taken, potency will continue to punch people’s ticket to rehab.

Warning: Explicit language in video below


Berke, J., & Gould, S. (2019, March 26). New Jersey lawmakers postponed a critical vote to legalize marijuana - here are all the states where pot is legal. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/legal-marijuana-states-2018-1

Fergusson, D. M., & Boden, J. M. (2008). Cannabis use and later life outcomes. Addiction, 103(6), 969-976.

Freeman, T. P., van der Pol, P., Kuijpers, W., Wisselink, J., Das, R. K., Rigter, S., et al. (2018). Changes in cannabis potency and first-time admissions to drug treatment: a 16-year study in the Netherlands. Psychological Medicine, 1–7.

Murray, Robin M., et al. "Traditional marijuana, high‐potency cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids: increasing risk for psychosis." World Psychiatry 15.3 (2016): 195- 204.

Pierre, Joseph M., Michael Gandal, and Maya Son. "Cannabis-induced psychosis associated with high potency “wax dabs”." Schizophrenia research 172.1-3 (2016): 211-212.

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