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Study Warns Brits of High Potency “Skunk” Marijuana

Study Warns Brits of High Potency “Skunk” Marijuana

Dina Al-Shibeeb
The high-potency strains were defined as those with an average THC content of 14% and no CBD. (Image via Shutterstock)

The British media on Wednesday reported a new study, warning that the highly-potent so-called “skunk” varieties in marijuana are what dominate the consumer market.

The Guardian reported that this is the “first study of its kind for 10 years,” where 94 percent of samples seized by police had a “high psychoactive content.”

The Irish Times reported that in 2016, 94 percent of police seizures were of high-potency sinsemilla, also known as skunk, compared to 85 percent in 2008 and 51 percent in 2005.

The average levels of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, sat at 14 percent. This was considerably high, the study found. Meanwhile, CBD, the soothing natural ingredient found in cannabis, was partially not detectable.

The high-potency strains were defined as those with an average THC content of 14% and no CBD.

The study was done by researchers from GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes medicines derived from cannabis, and King’s College. They warned of “concerning implications for public health.”

Marta Di Forti, the senior study author, said: 

“In previous research, we have shown that regular users of high-potency cannabis carry the highest risk for psychotic disorders, compared to those who have never used cannabis.” 

No Weaker Strains Available

Di Forti, who is also the Medical Research Council clinician scientist at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, added: “The increase of high-potency cannabis on the streets poses a significant hazard to users’ mental health, and reduces their ability to choose more benign types.”

High-potency strains accounted for 51 percent of seizures in the last time a comparable research was carried out in 2005. Also, a wider study carried out by the Home Office in 2008 found they accounted for 85 percent.

The study, published in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis, said the dominance of high potency strains was due to the lack of availability of weaker cannabis resin – from 43% in 2005 and 14% in 2008 to just 6% in 2016.

Marijuana is illegal in the UK. The only main cannabis-based medicine licensed for medical prescription in the UK is Sativex, which is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cytotoxic chemotherapy.

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