September 22, 2005

Better Pot?

A noteworthy statistic on getting high, from Maia Szalavitz' story in Salon on the latest scare stories being peddled by the government about marijuana:
UCLA public policy expert Mark Kleiman has pointed out that federally funded research by the University of Michigan shows that since the 1970s the level of high reported by high school seniors who smoked marijuana has remained "flat as a pancake." In other words, even if today's kids are smoking more potent stuff, they don't get higher than their folks did -- like drinking a few whiskey shots rather than multiple mugs of beer, they use less of the good stuff to achieve the same effect.
Against this, though, outside of a Lovemakers' concert a few weeks ago, an aging hippie told me that wimpy kids these days smoke "utter dogshit." So, you know, there's a real debate here. In an old post, Mark Kleiman looked at how you actually measure such things. Lab tests indicate that THC potency has probably tripled since the 1970s, but kids tend to roll thinner joints and share more often with their friends. Between increased moderation and more sharing, the kids are alright. On the other hand, the study that measured how high kids were actually getting, as compared to their parents, simply asked them, "How high do you get when you use [whatever]?" What? If our parents reported a high of "8" and kids today report a high of "8," that obviously doesn't tell us much of anything. We need longitudinal studies, dammit. But, of course, those have their own problems. Actually, I don't know how you'd design this sort of experiment. Brain scans, maybe.
-- Brad Plumer 3:17 PM || ||