Government Study: Marijuana "Dope" More Potent Than Ever!

May 14, 2009 CNN's American Morning. LENO: Governor Schwarzenegger said he's trying to get marijuana legalized here in California. He wants to legali

May 14, 2009 CNN's American Morning.

LENO: Governor Schwarzenegger said he's trying to get marijuana legalized here in California. He wants to legalize it.

(APPLAUSE)

I believe the campaign slogan is "Change we can breathe in." "Yes, change we can breathe in."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, late night having some fun with the debate over legalizing marijuana, but Washington taking the drug very seriously. It's because pot is by far one of the most abused drugs in America and today, it's even more potent than ever.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.

MESERVE: John, Kiran, this is a Mississippi marijuana grow room, and it is all absolutely legal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE (voice-over): In a vault -- barrel upon barrel of high- grade marijuana.

(on camera): What would the street value of this be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot.

MESERVE (voice-over): This facility at the University of Mississippi is the only one in the country licensed by the federal government to grow large quantities of marijuana for research.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the female flowering buds.

MESERVE: But that isn't all scientists do here. Marijuana samples from seizures all across the country, thousands of them, are sent here every year.

The dope is put through a sieve to remove seeds and stems. It's weighed to put in solution and chemically analyzed. The results, today, the government is announcing that for the first time ever, the average level of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana now exceeds 10 percent. The lab has found some samples higher than 30 percent.

That means it takes less dope to get high. Experienced users may adjust their intake and smoke less, but inexperienced users may not.

MAHMOUD ELSOHLY, UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI POTENCY MONITORING PROJECT: They'll get paranoid. They'll be irritable. And that's just the opposite of what they were looking for.

MESERVE: The government says high-potency marijuana is sending more people to the emergency room and to drug treatments, but will kids listen?

DR. LAWRENCE BRAIN, CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST: Telling them that, you know, 10 percent, and three times more potent than what their parents smoked is not an argument that they'll likely to buy into or to even utilize in any constructive sort of way.

MESERVE: In fact, researchers say after years of decline, there's been a recent uptick in marijuana use.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Scientists here predict the average potency of marijuana will go up another five percent in the next five to 10 years as growers become even more sophisticated.

John and Kiran, back to you.

ROBERTS: Jeanne Meserve for us this morning.

Jeanne, thanks so much.

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