Yes, cannabis is more potent today than it was in 1960’s but the reasons are very different from what you think. This post from Los Angeles Times discusses why the increase in cannabis potency is because of the drug war, not despite it.
Taboos about drugs are lying shattered across the U.S., like broken debris after a party. But even as some states have begun to decriminalize or legalize marijuana, there is an argument that is making some Americans hesitate.
They ask: Aren’t many drugs, even pot, much more potent today than they were in the 1960s, when the boomers formed their views on drug use? Hasn’t cannabis morphed into super skunk? Aren’t people who used legal painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet sliding into heroin addiction — suggesting that legally accessible drugs are a slippery slope toward the abuse of harder drugs?
Here’s the irony. Drugs are more potent today, and people are taking more powerful drugs — but that’s largely because of the drug war, not despite it.
To grasp why, you need to understand a counterintuitive phenomenon best explained by the writer Mike Gray in his book “Drug Crazy.” Let’s start in January 1920. The day before Prohibition went into effect, the most popular alcoholic drinks, by far, were beer and wine. Once alcohol was legalized again, in December 1933, the most popular drinks, by far, were again beer and wine — as they remain today. But between those dates, beer and wine virtually vanished and the only alcoholic beverages available became hard spirits such as whiskey, vodka and moonshine.
So why would banning a drug change people’s taste? In fact, it didn’t. It just changed what they had access to.
Imagine if you had to smuggle all the booze to be consumed in your local bar next week in a wagon from the Mexican or Canadian border. If you filled the wagon with beer, you could serve maybe a few hundred drinks. But if you filled the same space with whiskey, you could serve thousands. When you are smuggling anything over distance, “you have to put the maximum bang in the smallest possible package,” as Gray wrote. Bar-goers would prefer beer — but if all they can get is whiskey, plenty will drink that instead.