The Denver Post reports that nine percent of marijuana users are susceptible to addiction and that addiction is rising in states where cannabis is legalized, like California and Colorado. Their report tells the story of a boy named Quintin Pohl who developed a marijuana dependency problem but eventually received help at a clinic.
“There should be no controversy about the existence of marijuana addiction,” said physician David Smith, who has been treating marijuana addiction in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood since the 1960s. “We see it every day. The controversy should be why it appears to be affecting more people.”
Although the percentage of addicts appears to be stable, practitioners in Northern California told The Denver Post they are seeing a surge in demand for help, particularly among adolescents. The rate of marijuana addiction is lower than that of cocaine, alcohol, or heroin, and it develops slowly, taking years before it can impact a user’s life, often surprising people before they realize they’re addicted.
Perhaps it’s the potency of today’s pot. “Back in the day when kids were sitting around smoking a joint, the THC levels found in marijuana averaged from two to four percent,” Smith said. “That’s what most parents think is going on today. And that’s why society thinks marijuana is harmless.” And yet today’s marijuana is significantly stronger.
“But selective breeding has resulted in an average potency of 20 percent THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. Some strains exceed 30 percent.” says The Denver Post.