Exploding the myth that strong cannabis is a new phenomenon

13 mins read

Aside from the hijacking of the term skunk by the prohibitionist/addiction industry (they are one and the same thing but more about that another time), one of my biggest bugbears is that this new form of cannabis aka ‘skunk’ is presented as a life threatening, psychosis causing dangerous drug that is tearing communities apart.

Now I don’t know about you, but as a long term functioning stoner, I smell bullshit. The first thing to remind yourself when the hysterics start is that this is nothing new. In the 1920’s ‘reefer madness’ was used to try and scare the population into thinking that smoking cannabis turns you into a murdering rapist!

Such claims are patently absurd, and led by the ignorance of the press and governments, we haven’t really moved on. The use of the word ‘skunk’ to mean any high potency strain is nothing short of ignorant and demonstrates a complete dearth of user input into the whole cannabis debate. Why doesn’t someone just ask a cannabis consumer? You’d get the truth and a coherent answer instead of the current drugs clusterfuck that the UK establishment has colluded to preside over.

There are many well-meaning people in that debate that are open minded, pragmatic and willing to listen. But within the world of policy lobbying and professional rehabilitation services there is an equal, if not greater number of people who think they know what’s best for you and will dismiss your opinion as irrelevant because you don’t have a PhD in such and such and they are an expert and you should listen to them even though they’ve never rolled a joint in their lives. Many experienced and mature ‘cannasseurs’ intimately know cannabis at a pharmacological level and are hugely informed and competent when it comes to talking about this particular drug.

A little research will tell you that GW Pharma, one of the only producers of cannabis under license in the UK use a strain derived from an all time classic known as Skunk #1 from which they make Sativex, a whole plant extract (i.e. it gets you high) to treat Multiple Sclerosis.

Now tell me this. If ‘skunk’ is so dangerous and causes psychosis, a plant with no medicinal benefit (their words not mine), ask yourself why it’s ok for a large pharmaceutical company to make psychoactive medicine out of the very strain so demonised by media and politicians alike. Then you will start getting some sense of who really controls the prohibition agenda.

You see, the prohibitionists love to pretend the weed of yesteryear wasn’t as strong whilst in the same breath, they hand over lucrative contracts and tax breaks to big Pharma to grow the very strain they have demonised and misrepresented so badly.

Another trick of these prohibitionists is that they like to sound like scientists by saying that old fashioned hash had a higher ‘CBD’ content so was less dangerous from a psychosis causing hysteria perspective. We know that Cannabis does not cause psychosis because 100 odd years ago, the Indian Hemp Commission undertook what is still the largest population study of cannabis use and scientifically and systematically proved that cannabis does not cause psychosis.

Prohibitionists have used all this as a major scare tactic for decades. That this new street skunk stuff turns you into a psycho… Reefer madness anyone?

, Exploding the myth that strong cannabis is a new phenomenon, ISMOKE

We’ve been here so many times before. But let’s just bust the myth, often trotted by the prohibitionists (who incidentally probably smoked themselves at university without becoming heroin addicts) is:

“That the old hash we smoked was much milder than this modern stuff”

Well, actually, no it was in fact much stronger. I recently tweeted about the time that the cannabis supplying network of the small Welsh village in which I was brought up, managed to get it’s hands on 2 Kg of yellow Lebanese hash. It was 1993 and was a summer to remember.!

To this day, I have not smoked anything stronger than that fine hessian wrapped Yellow Leb. I can still smell it now, a beautifully crafted artisanal product. Soft, yellow a sticky it was so fresh you could break it open with your hands and its aroma was so complex it was simply mouthwatering. It remains the finest form of cannabis that I have ever sampled and believe me, I’ve sampled a pretty good selection of cannabis in all its various forms over the years.! Bordering on the hallucinogenic, the effects of this fantastic hash were further accentuated when taken in edible form since the body receives the full hit of cannabinoids providing they have been suitably activated (usually by heat in the cooking process). All cannabis is much stronger when you ingest it so strength is also determined by how you use it.

Hashish is made by collecting the resin glands of the plant – these trichomes are then usually pressed and the type of hash is determined by the collection technique. In Morocco and much of the Middle East, cannabis plants are harvested and dried. They are then sieved and this seivieing action removes the THC laden resin glands from the leaf and flowers of the plant. The collected sift is then pressed under weight into the blocks of resin that ‘we’ all remember so fondly (it never really went away though – another myth peddled to distort reality).

, Exploding the myth that strong cannabis is a new phenomenon, ISMOKE

In Asia, specifically India, resin is collected by hand rubbing the plant whilst it is fresh. This ‘live resin’ produces a beautifully sticky perfumed and potent hash.

Both of these forms of hashish are a concentration of THC. They are therefore significantly stronger than any modern herbal form. So when we hear – “the hashes are milder” arguments I cant stop laughing. Go to Amsterdam; find yourself a menu of a coffee shop that shows tested THC content. Look at all the weed, and then look at the Hash. It’s like beer or wine vs spirits. And if we start thinking of cannabis in such comparative terms then we might start helping the public who don’t know anything about it, to begin to understand it by referencing to a social norm that they most probably are familiar with.

Notice that you don’t ever hear anyone shrieking about super strength alcohol. Even though you can purchase whiskey at 60%abv and many spirits at even higher potency. We don’t go for those with breakfast on a Monday morning before going to work though do we? The Italians may have a shot or two of grappa after a big meal. We may enjoy a cold beer or two on a nice summers afternoon. We may chose a fine bottle of red to have with our Christmas Lunch.

, Exploding the myth that strong cannabis is a new phenomenon, ISMOKE

We don’t round scaremongering, referring to all alcohol as meths and saying that even a sniff of it will turn you blind, so lets not make the same mistake with cannabis. Let’s stop this bullshit, hanging onto prohibition like a dear friend, clinging to any negative we can, rather than admit that cannabis is ok. Morally we cannot say otherwise if we actively encourage alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and sugar can we? All of those drugs can lead to limb loss, cancer, blindness but lets not dwell on that too much because it will affect sales.

The current vogue for claiming that street weed is much higher potency is spurious at best. Give two seeds to two different people to grow of the same strain and you will get huge variations in THC content between plants of the same strain. The person doing the growing will also affect (intentionally or otherwise) THC content. Analysis of samples may well show an increasing potency but take those figures with a pinch of salt. How long have we been collecting analysis on seized cannabis? THC content is not uniform across all plants and certainly not strain dependent.

As a regular cannabis consumer, I can tell you all now that there IS a call for high strength cannabis. It’s perfectly enjoyable just as a glass or two of malt whiskey is. But there’s a time and a place for it as with everything in life. Given that you can’t overdose on THC there really are bigger things we should be putting our energies into rather than creating an industry of false concern about strong weed!

Whilst we’re at it, lets start using the correct terminology. Skunk is a heritage strain. It has fantastic medicinal value as GW Pharma will testify. It’s forgiving, and easy to grow, producing some huge yields even for the first time grower, a delight! And most ironically of all, the skunk family have a relatively high CBD content, the very anti psychotic chemical that is somehow missing in all modern cannabis. How ironic then that killer psychosis causing skunk is actually anything but and in fact resembles more closely the old harmless hash that Cameron and Blair used to chug through with Howard Marks in Oxbridge!

Prohibitionists have run out of excuses. “Super strength killer street skunk” type headlines will soon be recognised for what they are – hysteria. They’ve lost the gateway drug argument, they’ve lost the psychosis argument only this week, and now, they’ll lose the ‘killer skunk’ argument also.

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