eli5. How has marijuana gotten so much more potent over the years but the opposite for cocaine?


80’s coke is often talked about in songs/movies/ tv as being pretty wild stuff, where as marijuana is now
~4x more potent.

In: 12138

People are cultivating marijuana plants to have more of the active chemical THC, but you are smoking the actual plant. Cocaine is not a plant, it’s a chemical that’s been extracted from plants.

Science can selectively breed marijuana plants to have more THC, and people have done that.

The concentration of cocaine in the coca plant doesn’t matter, because it’s extracted into a powder. Yes, the product in the 80s and 90s was more pure. Since then dealers are doing more to adulterate the product they sell, to make more money. Users aren’t discriminating enough to demand higher purity, as much a pot buyers are demanding more potent pot.


Simply stated, its been harder and harder to make good coke because the quality of chemicals used to make it has downgraded. As an example, in the 70’s they could get pure benzine, now days they have to get something that has benzine in it that works in the same way. And it gets stepped on harder than it used to.

Whereas pot has been legalized and people have bred strains that have THC yields that are consistently higher. Just like farmers breed corn with more sugar content for instance.

One is being fought against legally while the other has been encouraged legally.

A better comparison would be chewing coca leaves vs. marijuana. You could probably grow leaves with a higher ratio of cocaine to all other parts of the plant than would naturally occur.

It’s a matter of dosage of the actual intoxicating compound in a given time span. Cocaine was reduced to as close to pure form as feasible much earlier because it’s already an extract from the leaves. You could similarly have extracted THC into a more refined form. You could also just smoke a *lot* more marijuana, but then the time span of ingestion grows so much that some potency is lost.

So in brief, extracted, purified, and concentrated = most potent dose.

I saw a vice documentary a while ago about someone who used to smuggle cocaine. He explained that the chemical that used to be used as part of the process was more heavily regulated and they had to start using other chemicals as a result. This led to a decrease in quality or something like that. And then as others have mentioned, the drug gets cut with other things at every level of distribution.