A recent study showed a link between increases in THC levels in marijuana and a surge in reported cases of cannabis use disorder — but some experts are skeptical of the findings.
A new study raises concerns that this rise in high-potency cannabis strains may also be increasing the risk that new users will develop cannabis use disorder.
Symptoms of cannabis use disorder — also known as marijuana use disorder — include cravings, withdrawal, lack of control, and negative effects on a person’s life.
According to the authors of the study, published Dec. 17 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the average tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level of cannabis in the United States increased from 3.5 percent in 1994 to 12.3 percent in 2012.
The researchers also found that young people who started using cannabis when the average national potency was higher were more likely to go on to develop one or more symptoms of cannabis use disorder within a year of use.
The average national potency wasn’t linked to regular cannabis use or transition to daily use.
The study included 11- to 26-year-olds in Michigan with a high risk for substance use disorder. The authors caution the results may not apply to other groups.
Research estimates 2.5 percent of American adults have experienced cannabis use disorder in the past year. Some studies have found that this condition has been on the rise in recent years among certain groups.