As Californians prepare to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana, innovations in cultivation practices are pushing the plant’s psychoactive properties to unprecedented heights — packing a powerful punch that delights some but alarms others.
Levels of the chemical that produces a high — known as THC — used to average 3 to 4 percent. But now — because of improved breeding, growing, harvesting, packaging and shipping techniques — it’s rare to find THC content below 20 percent.
And some varieties — such as the award-winning “C. Banana,” grown by medical marijuana grower Utopia Farms of Santa Cruz — can reach a stunning 35 percent. For the unprepared, it’s like ordering a rosé spritzer and getting Jack Daniel’s.
But potency is also a serious concern as California heads toward a new world of legalized pot, potentially worsening marijuana-related illness and dependency. New consumers and longtime potheads may find themselves dangerously high before they know it, and unequipped to