WASHINGTON (BP)--Marijuana continues to become more potent and to cause mental impairment and traffic fatalities, according to a report released by the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy May 14.
"[L]evels of THC -- the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana -- have reached the highest-ever levels since scientific analysis of the drug began in the late 1970s," an ONDCP news release stated, sparking another round of marijuana-related media reports.
The federal agency also noted:
"According to the NIDA [National Institute for Drug Abuse], heavy marijuana use impairs a person's ability to form memories, recall events, and shift attention from one thing to another. THC also disrupts coordination and balance by binding to receptors in the cerebellum and basal ganglia, parts of the brain which regulate balance, posture, coordination of movement, and reaction time. Through its effects on the brain and body, marijuana intoxication can cause accidents. Studies show that approximately 6 to 11 percent of fatal accident victims test positive for THC. In many of these cases, alcohol is detected as well.
"Other recent studies show marijuana use can be a risk factor for the onset of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals, and may be associated with other mental disorders, including depression and anxiety," the Office of National Drug Control Policy stated.
Federal data on the potency of marijuana is gathered through the Potency Monitoring Project conducted by the University of Mississippi's pharmacy school.
"According to the latest data on marijuana samples analyzed to date, the average amount of THC in seized samples [numbering 1,500 from law enforcement raids and eradications] has reached a new high of 10.1 percent. This compares to an average of just under 4 percent reported in 1983 and represents more than a doubling in the potency of the drug since that time," the Office of National Drug Control Policy reported. Read More