A testing lab in Colorado has revealed that legal marijuana in the state today may be more potent than the marijuana that has been available in the past few years.

Charas Scientific is one of the few marijuana testing labs in Colorado. The lab tested the marijuana sold in stores across the state and found that they included contaminants and that the level of THC in them was as high as 20 percent to 30 percent. THC is the psychoactive element of marijuana that gives the sensation of being high.

Andy LaFrate, founder and director of research at Charas Scientific, said that the potency of today's marijuana is quite high, while the THC level in marijuana from about a few decades ago was 10 percent or less. He explained how the potency has nearly tripled in the past few decades since producers have been cross-breeding marijuana to meet the demands for higher potency weeds by users.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that marijuana potency has been increasing over the years. However, THC concentration of as high as 30 percent is quite huge. The marijuana confiscated by law enforcement officials until 2012 had THC levels of just 15 percent.

The institute said that the higher THC level means increased chances of adverse effects and reaction in individuals, especially new users. High THC concentrated marijuana may also lead to addiction in frequent users.

Charas Scientific also found that some of the samples they tested contained little or no cannabidiol (CBD), which is a compound that is believed to have medicinal uses. CBD does not give a sensation of being high.

Studies are underway in understanding CBD's role in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Huntington's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Some scientists also suggest that CBD is helpful in the treatment of seizure disorders, schizophrenia and anxiety.

"It's disturbing to me because there are people out there who think they're giving their kids Charlotte's Web. And you could be giving them no CBD - or even worse, you could be giving them a THC-rich product, which might actually increase seizures. So, it's pretty scary on the medical side," said LaFrate.

Colorado law does not require any pre-sale testing for medical marijuana. The study did not involve edibles. LaFrate suggests that new regulations will continue to evolve as lawmakers and scientists learn more about the cannabis flower and its products.

Photo: Brett Levin | Flickr

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