Technological advancements have given today’s teenagers access to a lot of things their parents could hardly envision at that age: The Internet. iPads. And marijuana many times more powerful than what people smoked in the 1970s.
The rise in marijuana use among teens, as documented by recent national surveys, comes as particularly alarming to health advocates because marijuana is more potent than ever before, experts say. That means the pot youth are smoking today carries a greater risk of harm than what their parents might have experienced a generation ago.
“The people who are growing marijuana have improved their techniques,” Stephen Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership at Drugfree.org, said in phone interview. “Nobody’s cleaning seeds out of marijuana on a record album like they used to do in the old days.”
Counter-drug investigators say the trend is increasingly evident in North Carolina too, as clandestine domestic producers perfect their techniques and harness science to genetically engineer their yields.
Growing marijuana indoors, a common practice among domestic cultivators, allows producers to manipulate temperatures, carbon dioxide levels and other environmental elements. That degree of control, coupled with the selective breeding of more powerful cannabis strains, enables the production of highly potent plants.
“They cross strains like they’re breeding dogs,” said Special Agent Gregory Peckinpaugh, domestic cannabis eradication suppression coordinator for the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Atlanta field division, which covers North Carolina. As a result, he said, “the quality of marijuana both indoors and out domestically has gone up exponentially.”
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