'Pot 2.0': Where Can I Get Some?

Heard the latest from the Feds regarding their multi-billion dollar war on weed? According to warnings posted on the DEA's new website JustThinkTwice.com, today's cannabis is nearly twice as strong as the pot available in the 1970s and 80s. Sounds like its time for the Drug Enforcement Administration to don some new duds. How about t-shirts saying: "I've arrested millions, and all I got was stronger pot?"

Naturally, law enforcement and federal bureaucrats have little sense of humor when it comes to these matters. "We're no longer talking about the drug of the 1960s and 1970s," Drug Czar John Walters told Reuters News Wire. (The Czar failed to explain why if previous decades' pot was innocuous police still arrested you for it.) "This is Pot 2.0."

Speaking recently to the Associated Press, DEA chief Mark R. Trouville, who heads the agency's Miami office, took an even more dire tone. "This ain't your grandfather's or your father's marijuana," he said. "This will hurt you. This will addict you. This will kill you."

For our friends at the DEA, here's a news flash. Unlike booze, sleeping pills, or even aspirin, pot poses no risk of fatal overdose, regardless of its THC content. (In fact, my physician can prescribe me a pill called Marinol that's 100 percent THC and nobody at the Drug Czar's office seems to mind.) Moreover, cannabis consumers readily distinguish between low potency and high potency marijuana and moderate their use accordingly -- taking smaller and fewer puffs of the "good stuff" than they do the "shwag."

Besides, isn't variety the spice of life? Last time I visited my local, state-sanctioned liquor store I had my choice of a head-spinning variety of alcoholic beverages, all of various strengths and sizes. I passed on the Bacardi 151, picked up a pint of vodka (80 proof) and then went next door to the supermarket to buy a six-pack of beer (7 percent alcohol by volume). Other customers made similar purchases. Nobody from the White House seemed terribly concerned.

But what the suggestion that today's pot is so addictive that just one puff is a one-way ticket to drug rehab? In this case, the devil is in the details.

According to the latest data from federal Drug and Alcohol Services Information System (DASIS), more individuals are, in fact, enrolled in drug treatment for pot than ever before. However, this increase is a direct result of the fact that more Americans are being arrested for pot than ever before. (For example, a new study published in the online journal BMC Public Health reports among the 27,000+ adults entered into Texas drug treatment clinics between 2000 and 2005, a whopping 70 percent of them were diverted to treatment as a condition of sentencing, parole, or probation.) Faced with the choice of jail or attending drug treatment, most offenders -- not surprisingly -- choose treatment, whether they need it (most don't) or not.

So let's review, shall we? Our federal government wants Americans to get off the pot. So they spend billions of dollars outlawing the plant and driving its producers underground where breeders clandestinely develop stronger and more sophisticated herbal strains than ever existed prior to prohibition. The Feds then go out and inadvertently give America's pot farmers billions of dollars in free advertising by telling the world that their weed is more potent than anything Allen Ginsberg, Tommy Chong or Jerry Garcia ever smoked in their heyday. In response, tens of millions of Americans head immediately to their nearest street-corner in search of a dealer (or college student) willing to sell them a dimebag of the new, super-potent pot they've been hearing about on TV.

Perhaps it's time for the DEA to heed their own advice and "just think twice."

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