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The cannabis available today is the same plant that has been used for thousands of years. Due to the large number of cannabis varieties however, the level of THC – the main psychoactive ingredient – varies.

Illegal vs legal cannabis

Interestingly, cannabis tested in jurisdictions where it is illegal tends to be stronger. Why? Because when access to a particular substance is sporadic, risky and limited, both consumers and producers are incentivised to use or sell higher potency material.

There was a similar trend during alcohol Prohibition in the US. Beer and cider were largely replaced by spirits and hard liquor, which was easier and more profitable to transport.

When access is regulated and controlled, we see a wider variety of potencies, including cannabis with virtually no traces of THC, but high in cannabidiol (CBD) – which is therapeutic, but not psychoactive.


Different methods of ingestion can also affect the strength of cannabis. Cannabis-infused edibles, for example, can have a stronger intoxicating effect and last longer than smoking. It’s important to regulate dosage and remember that it can take up to one hour before a cannabis edible takes effect.

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