Is cannabis getting too potent?
The answer here depends on what a consumer wants to do with it, how they intend to use cannabis, what the purpose or objective is for their use. For someone using cannabis to treat severe pain, for example, very potent cannabis can be very useful
When it comes to the traditional use of cannabis, potency can be problematic. The most obvious problem is impairment, which might present safety problems with driving, for example, or otherwise present the user with an undesired experience. The next most frequent undesired effect is passing out, going to sleep.
The remedy for taking too much cannabis, regardless of potency, is to take less the next time.
On the other hand, some people like the effects of cannabis, and especially like the intense effects of high dosages. In these cases, high potency cannabis is greatly appreciated and enjoyed. People who use cannabis frequently develop a measure of tolerance to its effects, and high potency cannabis enhances their enjoyment as well.
Then there is the matter of people who consume cannabis with the singular objective of getting wasted—getting utterly and completely impaired, getting as stoned as possible, and then passing out. High potency cannabis is very effective for this purpose. However, in the opinion of some users, getting wasted is a waste of cannabis.
There is a very enjoyable and celebrated social aspect to cannabis use, in which it stimulates conversation, observation, and empathy. It’s good for a party, regardless of its size. In this sense, cannabis is a stimulant and its use is refreshing and relaxing. Excessive consumption, though, dampers these effects, and changes the buzz from something extroverted to something introverted. Nothing wrong with a bit of introverted meditation, but getting so stoned one can hardly move or converse would seem to be a bit counter-productive.
Separate from these various uses, it is only natural for the marketplace to produce and distribute more potent forms of cannabis. It is part of a general process of quality enhancement, and in many cases (including but not limited to medical use) a matter of responding to consumer needs and preferences.
How is this different from alcohol? Products of varying potency are available. And when it comes to some of the more potent products, such as aged Scotch for example, the higher potency products have other attributes such as taste that make them attractive. Consumers tailor their consumption of various products to match product characteristics with their preferences and the various contexts in which they will be used. Beer, wine, and liquor all have their followings and are used in a variety of social and personal settings.
Which brings us back to the opening question: is cannabis getting too potent? The answer is simple, and obvious. No, it is not getting too potent. Potency has its uses. While high potency cannabis is now more widely available, this doesn’t mean that people have to use it. Or, rather, it doesn’t mean that people have to use it all the time. Savor the good stuff, don’t waste it. Lower potency cannabis has it uses also. And if you use cannabis, whatever you use it for, use it responsibly, and use it well.
There is a rebellious quality to drug use for a lot of Americans, especially for young people. Whether it is getting stoned or getting drunk with alcohol, drug use has a liberating aspect; it provides a means of self-assertion. At least, that’s one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is that in some circles getting wasted has been cool—and this is something that has been a problem for a long, long time. It’s one thing to decide, for various reasons, to consume a lot of weed or a lot of alcohol as a form of general sedation, a temporary respite from an over-active intellect or simply a way to suppress short-term memories in attempts to quell frustration or anger, or numb a broken heart. But there is also a bit of showing off involved with getting wasted—getting really, really wasted. To some, getting to that point is a display of bravado that in some way impresses friends or even oneself.
The brain is a wonderful thing, and cannabis is a wonderful, elegant herb that stimulates the human brain. That’s cool. However, using cannabis to effectively disable the brain . . . that does not seem very cool at all. That seems to be a bit of a waste—a waste of the brain and a waste of the herb.
Last week’s Pot Matters: Pardon Tommy Chong!