A new study tracks cannabis usage over a period of 11 years, drawing data from 28 EU member states, including Turkey and Norway.
The researchers from University of Bath and King's College London published a study on Dec. 29 in the journal Addiction, monitoring the strength and price of cannabis and its harmful effects on users. The findings reveal that the concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, has doubled from 5 percent in 2006 to 10 percent in 2016.
Cannabis In Europe Is Now Stronger And Pricier
"These findings show that cannabis resin has changed rapidly across Europe, resulting in a more potent and better value product," noted study lead author, Dr Tom Freeman.
Cannabis resin, unlike herbal cannabis, contains both cannabidiol (CBD) and THC. CBD has recently gained immense traction due to its ability to treat conditions such as anxiety, psychosis, and even childhood epilepsy. CBD is able to balance the ill-effects of THC such as memory damage and paranoia.
However, cannabis with high levels of THC and low levels of CBD can lead to greater long-term damage by creating dependence on cannabis. The modern production of resin in Europe and Morocco have increased THC levels but not CBD.
Regulation Of THC Production
Dr. Freeman explained that the CBD component can make the use of cannabis safer for its users without the intoxicating effects of THC, but Europe has witnessed an increase in the THC with decreased CBD levels, making cannabis more injurious to the health of users.
He also notes that the change in composition is largely hidden, and policy makers find it difficult to monitor. Freeman proposes that the content of THC and CBD can be controlled through regulation.
Statistics reveal that as many as 7.2 percent European adults have consumed cannabis last year. Recreational use of the drug is legalized in countries such Canada, some U.S. states, and, most recently, in UK for medical purposes.