Marijuana’s Potency & Therapeutic Value

By Bill Current

In each issue, The Truth About dispels the myths that are commonly circulated about marijuana, its effect on the workplace, and its place in society.

Getting high or getting well-the proponents of legalizing marijuana claim that using pot can do both without harm to the user or society. But is that the truth?Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the component in marijuana that makes users feel good, relaxed and calm… it makes them feel the “high” sensation. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the component in marijuana that some people claim has therapeutic value. However, because legal marijuana (not to mention illegal marijuana) is not monitored in any way, the buyer has virtually no idea how much of either component, THC or CBD, his or her weed contains. There are no Food & Drug Administration (FDA) standards in place therefore there is no federal oversight to protect the consumer.

An excellent article written by Alice G. Walton and published by on 23 March, 2015 offers some great insights from a number of scientific experts.

Following is largely from Ms. Walton’s article: Potency-A new study conducted by Charas Scientific, one of eight labs authorized by the state of Colorado to test marijuana for its potency levels, found that some of the weed they examined had a potency value of nearly 30 percent. How does that compare to the marijuana of yesteryear? Back in the 1980s, for example, THC levels were “well below” 10 percent according Andy LaFrate, president and director of research of Charas Scientific. That’s “huge” according to LaFrate.

Therapeutic Value-At the same time, the Charas Scientific study found that CBD levels were actually lower than in past years. This means that the therapeutic effects that some users hope to realize by using marijuana is not going to be there. In fact, according to Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), as quoted by there may not be any therapeutic effects to be experienced in some of today’s marijuana.

What does all this mean? Studies show that the stronger the THC content the greater the effects on the brain and other vital bodily functions, the higher the risk of addiction, some forms of mental illness and contracting cancer, and diminished ability to perform safety-sensitive functions such as driving a vehicle. Could stronger potency levels be responsible for the increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits? Poor performance in school? Accidents in the workplace, the filing of workers’ compensation claims, and increased healthcare costs?

The truth about marijuana potency and its possible therapeutic value is two-fold: today’s pot is clearly more potent than ever leading to adverse effects on the user and society, and its professed power to help those truly suffering from the ill effects of serious illnesses is probably overstated at best and, perhaps, non-existent.

Note: This article is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The reader retains full responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws relative to drug testing.