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THC-content in Dutch Cannabis.

(aka the "Killer Dutch Bud" Frenzy…)


Everything You Need To Know About Amsterdam,
    Main Entrance Page For Amsterdam A to Z


One of the latest prohibitionist scare tactics is to claim that the THC of Cannabis has increased 10 to 30 times. Some people, (including Australian parliamentarians) were even claiming Cannabis now had 45% THC!! The sub text of this was a desperate appeal to baby-boomer parents who may themselves have smoked Cannabis: "Cannabis isn’t the harmless old drug you may have smoked in the sixties at university, oh no, its now mutated into an evil-killer- insanity causing drug that turns good kids bad, splits families and ruins lives… etc, etc".

Into the middle of this debate comes the cold hard light of day… at last.

The following communication was originally posted to the ADCA Update list on Wed, 5 Jul 2000.

Dear reader,

There has been a lot of anecdotal information about the THC-content in Dutch Cannabis products sold in coffee shops. A colleague of mine at the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Dr Raymond Niessink (the renown alcohol and drugs toxicologist and writer of the book ‘Drugs of Abuse and Addiction: Neurobehavioural Toxicology’) just finished a study about the THC-content in cannabis products sold in Dutch coffee shops.

This is the abstract of his study:

"The policy on cannabis use in The Netherlands is substantially different from that in many other countries. It is based on the idea that separating the markets for hard drugs and soft drugs prevents soft drug users to resort to hard drug use. Over the years so-called coffee shops emerged. Coffee shops are alcohol free establishments where the selling and using of soft drugs is not prosecuted, provided certain conditions are met. Many of the cannabis products sold in these coffee shops originate from Dutch-grown grass called nederwiet.

A number of critics of the Dutch drug policy have recently claimed that the THC content of nederwiet has increased between 10 and 30 times over the last decade. However, the THC content of cannabis products as sold in coffee shops has not systematically been tested. On request of the Ministries of Health and Justice, the potency of cannabis products as sold in coffee shops in The Netherlands was investigated.

The aim of this study was to investigate the concentration of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marihuana and hash as sold in Dutch coffee shops. In addition we wanted to know whether there are differences between the cannabis products originating from Dutch grown hemp (nederwiet) and those derived from foreign hemp. The names and addresses of 50 coffee shops were randomly selected from a list of 845 Dutch coffee shops. For the purpose of this study, 126 samples of nederwiet, 56 samples of foreign marihuana, 18 samples of Dutch hash and 90 samples of hash prepared from foreign hemp were anonymously bought in the selected coffee shops. As a rule samples of 1 gram were bought.

The average THC content of the marihuana samples was 7,5% and that of the hash-samples 12,6%. The average THC content of nederwiet (8,6%) was significantly higher than that of foreign marihuana (5,0%). Hash derived from Dutch hemp contained more THC (20,7%) than hash originating from foreign hemp (11,0%). These THC percentages do not deviate much from the percentages that have been reported by the Dutch Forensic Institute in the middle of the nineties about confiscated marihuana and hash samples.

The prices that had to be paid for nederwiet and Dutch hash were higher than the prices for foreign marihuana and hash. The price for nederwiet in Amsterdam was higher than in the rest of the country. There is a significant correlation between price and THC content of the cannabis products. When the THC concentrations in nederwiet are compared with the THC concentrations in marihuana from foreign studies we must conclude that the concentrations in nederwiet are nothing out of the way.

The THC-content of nederwiet is comparable with the THC content of sinsemilla samples as measured in the US between 1980 and 1997.

Continuation of the systematic collection of data on the THC content of samples of cannabis consumed by regular users should have a high priority. Apart from that, it is necessary to have factual information about the relation between high THC content of cannabis products and the actual body-burden as well as scientific information on acute and chronic toxicity from regular high THC-blood concentrations."

From: Jaap Toet
Trimbos-institute (Netherlands Institute for Mental Health and Addiction)
Dept. of Monitoring and Epidemiology

Postbus 725
3500 AS Utrecht
The Netherlands

e-mail: JToet@Trimbos.NL

Web site: http://www.trimbos.nl