A lot has changed since the 60's and 70's: hairstyles, bell bottom popularity, lava lamps, and even cannabis. The cannabis we toke on today is not the same weed that hippies were toking on a few decades ago.

Potency of marijuana

According to Charas Scientific, a certified lab that tests potency of marijuana, today's marijuana is by far more potent than those smoked decades ago. Andy LaFrate, Ph.D. and founder of the lab, said, "We've seen a big increase in marijuana potency compared to where it was 20 or 30 years ago." He continues, "I would say the average potency of marijuana has probably increased by a factor of at least three. We're looking at average potencies right now of around 20 percent THC." LaFrate was surprised by how strong many of the strains are that they get in the lab. He says, "We've seen potency values close to 30 percent THC, which is huge."

Percentage CBD Decreased

There have been reports that show the THC level back in the 1970s were at about 1% in cannabis. Then, in the 1980s the percent of THC rose to around 4% according to federal officials. Contrarily, the percentage of CBD (cannabidiol) in cannabis has decreased in marijuana. In 2001 the level of CBD in cannabis was 0.28%; in 2014 it decreased to less than 0.15%.

14 times the CBD level

In a study lead by Mahmoud A. ElSohly, professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Mississippi, the researchers looked at about 39,000 illegal cannabis samples. Most of the samples were cannabis but it also contained samples of hashish and hash oil. The researchers found that cannabis products in 1995 had a THC level that was 14 times the CBD level. However, in 2014, the THC level was 80 times the CBD level. This is great news for those of you with a high tolerance. If you're looking to get the benefits of CBD stick to specific CBD high strains.

So, why is it that marijuana has changed so much over time? In the early days, most of the marijuana was imported illegally to the USA from South American countries like Columbia. They came in bricks by boat, plane, or trucks. Of the brick-packed product brought over from overseas very little of it was actually sinsemilla, the nice buds we can buy at dispensaries today. It was most a mixture of stems, leaves, flowers, and random pieces of the plant. When people were smoking weed back then they did not only use the parts of the plant that was high in cannabinoids. They were using much of the leftover pieces of the plant.

Not only were people using leftovers of the plant, but they were using leftover oxidized pieces of the plant. When the plant was being imported from overseas it could take months to arrive. The time between harvesting and consuming was long enough to cause THC levels to drop. During transportation the cannabis would get exposed to extreme temperatures also causing decreased potency.

Combine indigenous varieties

During the 1980s the high importing rates slowed and a marijuana potency increased due to the prevalence of hydroponic systems. Hydroponic systems made it possible for Americans to grow their own bud inside their homes or greenhouses. This allowed for the availability of fresh marijuana. Cannabis connoisseurs began to hybridize strains. They began to combine indigenous varieties to create new strains with specific qualities. Over time growers have continued to cross high potency strains to maximize the amount of THC in the marijuana plant.

Another reason why potency and prevalence of cannabis is so high today is that internet has made it possible. Tricks of the trade can be passed between growers along with finding and buying growing products. Purchasing seeds have never been easier.

With a continuous rising of cannabis potency you can fantasize about the possibilities. New strains with new combinations of cannabinoid percentages can open doors to new medicinal uses. The possibilities seem endless.