Former R.I. Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Project Sam

Among the many distortions put forward by the prohibitionists none bothers me more than this attempt to scare older voters with the claim that the marijuana of their youth has magically changed into something completely different the past few decades. Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, an anti-legalization spokesman, was again allowed to make this claim in a USA Today op-ed.

The marijuana of today is nothing like the marijuana most baby boomer’s experimented with. It’s virtually a different drug.

While it is true average marijuana found in the United States has gotten somewhat more potent, it is still the same plant producing still the same set of chemicals. It remains the same cannabis sativa which has been used by people for well over 2,000 years. All the increase in average THC content really means is that people tend to smoke slightly less plant material for the same effect.

By this same logic you would claim the beer I drank last night was “virtually a different drug” compared to what the beer baby boomers drank in their youth. After all, the India Pale Ale I enjoyed yesterday is technically twice as potent the most common pilsners sold in the 60′s. Of course this doesn’t mean I’m getting twice as drunk as people 40 years ago. I easily adjust to the higher alcohol content of my favorite craft brew by simply consuming a smaller volume of beer.

Legally regulated marijuana will have its THC content clearly labeled just like beer has its alcohol content labeled, so people will know how strong it is and can adjust.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

Photo by Freedom to Marry under Creative Commons License