More skunk lies from Mary Brett

Skunk and THC nonsense in the media again

By Chris Bovey

Lies and unscientific nonsense are nothing new from Mary Brett, Chair of the cannabis misinformation group Cannabis Skunk Sense; however, she has surpassed herself in an article in the Telegraph, claiming that cannabis now has a strength of up to 46 per cent THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), whereas in the 60s and 70s it was around 1-2 per cent.

No evidence was offered for this statistic. Why? Because it’s simply not true; she pulled the figure out of her arse. I’m personally not old enough to have smoked cannabis in the 60s or even the 70s, but I know enough people older than me who can confirm that there was strong cannabis (or skunk) around back then. I have a good friend in Totnes who is in his early seventies who maintains that the stuff he was smoking in the 1960s was stronger than the cannabis he gets today.

Is Mary Brett seriously suggesting that Howard Marks was smuggling tons of low grade cannabis with 1-2% THC, because there was such an insatiable demand back then for low grade cannabis that barely touched the sides? Why did the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones smoke cannabis? Because they wanted to get high. Yes, I’m sure the Beatles wouldn’t have touched weed if it actually got you stoned, and their music would have been crap had they actually got high from smoking pot.

Our own Prime Minister, David Cameron, must surely be forgiven for smoking cannabis while he was a pupil at the exclusive public school Eton, since there was probably so little THC in the skunk he was caught with, and he definitely wouldn’t have experimented with skunk in his school days if it actually got you high. I think not!

The term skunk is in itself meaningless, it’s originally a name given to a Sensi Seeds strain. Of course, as well as skunk, there are many other strains, such as Jack Herer, White Widow, Kush, Northern Lights and many more. The media like to use ‘skunk’, because it is catchy.

Cannabis (skunk) leads to a long and happy life.

Cannabis leads to a long and happy life.


Only this week, NORML UK published research from The Netherlands, which showed THC levels in Dutch cannabis have actually declined in recent years and looked at the complex relationship between THC and Cannabidiol (CBD), another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. The paper showed that strength is not down to THC content alone, nor is there a satisfactory standard measurement system as to the THC content of a sample of cannabis. Richard Shrubb has written on the NORML UK blog about the therapeutic effects of CBD, which can be used as an anti-psychotic and to treat depression among other things.

To our understanding the strongest weed available is no more than 25% THC, and this is rare; yet strength is being increasingly shown to be not simply down to the amount of THC, but the interrelationship between CBD and THC. Until this is established, such wild claims as to cannabis strength cannot be justified.

The article also claims a link between cannabis and mental illness, yet the chief issue is the difference between long term psychotic illnesses and short term psychosis. There is no firm link between cannabis and schizophrenia. There is a link between cannabis and psychosis, though only in a tiny minority of users.

This is yet another example of poor reporting and the media once again giving a platform to Mary Brett and her hysterical scaremongering about skunk cannabis. NORML UK is committed to promoting the truth about cannabis, utilising the newest scientific research to enable adults to make an informed choice.

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  1. Has she no journalistic integrity? This really frustrates me. Thanks NORML for letting me know that I’m not the only one that thinks this is madness. Great piece!

  2. Having been around and toking late sixties, early seventies, I can assure you that cannabis then was as “strong” as it is now – I am talking about the imported varieties from Thailand, South America, Jamaica in those days – and resin was stronger then than now. But much home grown now is much different to those days when few people grew strong weed at all – my first crops were in mid seventies and were quite pathetic, although strangely enough we did all get high even from smoking the leaves. There was also bad and adulterated weed and resin about back then too – through greed enabled by prohibition. Mary Brett is fixated on fictional skunk. Alun Buffry

    • But, rather than this being some kind of evil, criminal plot to get everyone super super high, isn’t it because most people have access to information on specifically growing weed, as well as technology that has since become available to the home market? Completely on your side bro, just thought that was worth adding to your argument.

  3. ” Because it’s simply not true; she pulled the figure out of her arse.”

    There was an old study from the 1970s, US govt agency of some variety, which analyzed old samples from police evidence lockers. That was the original source of the commonly cited data for how weak weed used to be. She’s probably referring to a tenth hand quote referring to ancient schwag/ditchweed.

  4. I remember a small sample of weed, allegedly from Africa, left by a friend for me to collect, with a warning – Very Strong – in about 1968. It was wet and sticky with resin. A few little bits of stick and leaf in a single skin wrap was a trip lasting 2-3 hours.
    I recall a batch of Afghani black at Christmas 1972 – there was loads of it about, I suspect a Marks shipment. There were white crystal flecks throughout the resin , and it was widely rumoured to have been spiked with something else. A laboratory analysis, however, revealed that the crystalline deposit was pure THC, which was in abundance.
    Modern skunk nowhere near gets to this power on the whole

  5. I wonder how the ‘super strengh’ cannabis of today was bred? I wonder if it was bred from the ‘super strengh’ cannabis from the past – no can’t be surely.
    If mental health was a major issue with cannabis usage, then surely millions upon millions of people from the 60s onwards would have flooded the mental health service – overrunning the service – I think not. However there will always be some people who are prone to mental health trauma exacerbated by drug use including cannabis especially at a young age – this will not change.
    If we compare cannabis usage with alcohol consumption, drinkers can choose ,brand and strengh of drink consumed. However with cannabis usage unless you grow your own you rely on the nature of the black market; whereby you have no control in general over the strengh and strain you score. One of the many problems of prohibition.

  6. Actually the name ”Skunk” came about in the mid to late 60’s as a generic term in California for the first Afghani (Indica) crosses which had just been created from the first imports of seed stocks from that region. These where crossed with the imported Mexicans, Thai, Colombian and other pure Sativas to create true F1’s which yes, indeed stunk.

    The Skunk name came to Europe via Sam Skunkman and Old Ed’s introductions of these genetics to Holland and EU. Sensi seeds adopted the name and later trade marked it as theirs. They neither created the strain, or the name. Simply took them both from others and laid claim..

    I have over 1000 varieties of Cannabis strains from across the globe, stretching back in time and I’m currently smoking some Colombian purple Sativa, which I can assure has perceived potency way above the generic poly-hybrid ”skunk” types of today.

    46% potency? your having a laugh, ever seen a plant with near 50% of its material Glandular trichromes? what? I do not know what these people are taking, but geez regulate idiots today! fore they are much more dangerous than herbs.

  7. 100% of schizophrenic patients have consumed water in their lifetime.

    The statement means nothing. It’s just a misleading fact, a kind of “proofiness”. Sure, people with psychotic disorders are more likely to use cannabis; they are equally as likely to smoke, drink, or use other drugs. The connection doesn’t do anything to establish causation. It’s just junk science.

  8. The rate of long term psychotic illnesses and schizophrenia has gone down over the last few years yet more cannabis is being smoked than ever before. According to Professor David Nutt, though he feels people with these problems actively seek out and use cannabis

    • Very true, but unfortunately it is people like Mary Brett and the editor of the Daily Mail that have the ears of our politicians, not eminent scientists who have dedicated their life to this subject and know what they are talking about. – Chris.

  9. All marijuana laws do is limit choice. Say you like to smoke when you go for a morning hike but all you can get is some heavy indica. Or you want to smoke in the evening whilst you watch a movie and go to sleep but all you can score is some buzzy sativa. 🙁

    Anyway, stronger weed means less actual smoke which makes for happy lungs and no sore throat in the morning. Who wants to smoke a whole bush to get mildly high?

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