Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub,
MD, Senior Editor.
To The Editor: Compton and colleagues1 report an increase in marijuana use disorders in
the last decade, with combined estimates of abuse or dependence increasing
from 1.2% to 1.5%, a statistically significant change. Subgroup analyses revealed
that the increases were statistically significant for ethnic minorities but
The authors attribute these increases in the disorders to heightened
potency in available marijuana, an explanation that remains puzzling, particularly
in light of the ethnic differences. No other data address the idea that stronger
cannabis leads to more abuse or dependence. Smokers tend to take smaller puffs
with more air when using high-potency marijuana.2 Research
has not addressed ethnic differences in the metabolism of tetrahydrocannabinol.
It seems unlikely that minorities would have greater access to marijuana of
higher potency, particularly given the probable expense of this drug. The
idea that increased potency would lead to more dependence and abuse in general,
and particularly among minorities, has less intuitive appeal than explanations
involving increased marijuana arrests.
Earleywine M. Marijuana Arrests and Increase in Marijuana Use Disorders. JAMA. 2004;292(7):802. doi:10.1001/jama.292.7.802-a