Lots of people have lots of opinions on cannabis and whether or not today’s strains are stronger now than what the hippies used to smoke.
But is it a valid claim?
The Atlantic has an article that explains it all.
One of the strongest known strains of marijuana in the world is called Bruce Banner #3, a reference to the comic-book scientist whose alter ego is the Hulk. This is probably an appropriate nickname. With a THC concentration of 28 percentâ€”THC is one of the key chemicals in marijuanaâ€”Bruce Banner #3 packs a punch. It’s something like five times as potent as what federal researchers consider to be the norm, according to a 2010 Journal of Forensic Sciences paper. High Times marveled in a review: “Who knows what youâ€™ll turn into after getting down with Bruce?”
As marijuana goes increasingly mainstreamâ€”and, crucially, develops into big (and legal) businessâ€”more super-potent novelty strains are likely to crop up. Bruce Banner #3 is the marijuana industry’s answer to The End of History, an ultra-strong Belgian-style ale that the Scottish beer-maker Brewdog made in a specialty batchâ€”which was then served in bottles inside taxidermied squirrelsâ€”in 2010. Its alcohol by volume was 55 percent. That’s way, way stronger than most beers. “Itâ€™s the end of beer, no other beer we donâ€™t think will be able to get that high,” James Watt, one of the founders of Brewdog, told me when I visited the Brewdog headquarters in Scotland in 2010.
Yet three years later, another Scottish brewery had whipped up a batch of barley wine called Snake Venom that boasted higher than 67 percent alcohol by volume.
This is human nature. Or maybe it’s just capitalism. One person makes a superlative product, which prompts the next person to best them. Given the opportunity to try something extremeâ€”the biggest, the strongest, the best, the craziestâ€”plenty of people will go for it. But most people don’t pick Snake Venom as their typical pint. And Bruce Banner #3 probably is not representative of the average joint.
But what is?
For years, people have talked about increasing marijuana potency. The idea that pot is getting strongerâ€”much stronger than the stuff that got passed around at Woodstock, for instanceâ€”is treated like conventional wisdom these days. Maybe it shouldn’t be.
“It’s fair to be skeptical,” said Michael Kahn, the president of Massachusetts Cannabis Research, a marijuana testing and research lab in New England. “Back then the predominant method for quantitation was gas chromatography, which is not quite appropriate for cannabinoid quantitation. This is because [it] heats up the test material before analysis, which also alters the chemical profileâ€”including breaking down the THC molecule.”
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