[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
August 18, 2004

Marijuana Arrests and Increase in Marijuana Use Disorders

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(7):802. doi:10.1001/jama.292.7.802-a

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 not whites.

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.