The Higher the THC, the Higher the Addiction Risk – FACT or CRAP Part 3

Is the following statement FACT or CRAP?

3. Your risk of addiction increases with higher potency.

Answer: FACT

The risk of addiction to marijuana use is greater if the product is high in THC concentration. Risk of Persistence and Progression of Use of 5 Cannabis Products After Experimentation Among Adolescents https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6991277/


During the Woodstock era, marijuana was 100% black-market. It was also nearly all flower, and the THC content was a remarkably tame 2% or so, at max 5%. Today, marijuana is legal in many states in the U.S., and retail marijuana flower averages an eye-opening 15% THC content, with some strains up to 40%, which used to be thought impossible. Of course, this doesn’t include concentrates like wax and shatter, which can contain up to 90%+ THC.

We know persistent use of low-potency marijuana causes significant addiction risk among users, so it follows that use of high-potency products would be an even greater risk since it’s dose dependent. But assumptions aren’t proof; so a research group scientifically tested this hypothesis among 3,065 California high-school students who had experimented with marijuana. The research first tested the students in Spring 2016, with follow-ups in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, and Spring 2019. They self-reported on their number of days of use of marijuana products in combustible, blunts, vaporized, edible, or concentrated formats in the past 30 days.

The conclusion, published in January 2020, was clear: those who used combustible and concentrated marijuana products, the formats with the highest THC concentrations, were more likely to persist in and increase their use. This proved especially true for concentrates. The authors suggested prevention campaigns targeted these users, since “combustible cannabis and cannabis concentrate may carry a higher potential for use disorder.”

I can testify that they do. I lived with and lost a son who was addicted to wax. That doesn’t mean flower is safe—there is no safe level of THC in the developing adolescent mind—but concentrates are even worse for addiction potential.

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Read the January 11, 2022 Johnny’s Ambassadors Newsletter

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