Potency trends of delta9-THC and other cannabinoids in confiscated marijuana from 1980-1997

J Forensic Sci. 2000 Jan;45(1):24-30.


The analysis of 35,312 cannabis preparations confiscated in the USA over a period of 18 years for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta9-THC) and other major cannabinoids is reported. Samples were identified as cannabis, hashish, or hash oil. Cannabis samples were further subdivided into marijuana (loose material, kilobricks and buds), sinsemilla, Thai sticks and ditchweed. The data showed that more than 82% of all confiscated samples were in the marijuana category for every year except 1980 (61%) and 1981 (75%). The potency (concentration of delta9-THC) of marijuana samples rose from less than 1.5% in 1980 to approximately 3.3% in 1983 and 1984, then fluctuated around 3% till 1992. Since 1992, the potency of confiscated marijuana samples has continuously risen, going from 3.1% in 1992 to 4.2% in 1997. The average concentration of delta9-THC in all cannabis samples showed a gradual rise from 3% in 1991 to 4.47% in 1997. Hashish and hash oil, on the other hand, showed no specific potency trends. Other major cannabinoids [cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC)] showed no significant change in their concentration over the years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis / chemistry*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Dronabinol / chemistry*
  • Illicit Drugs / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Psychotropic Drugs / chemistry*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Plant Extracts
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Dronabinol