Over the years this column has attempted to bust many of the myths that are out in the community about a range of drugs. This week another of these crossed my desk which clearly illustrates the problems that we face in the drug field when it comes to getting across accurate messages.

Of all the illegal drugs, cannabis is by far the most popular, with almost 40 percent of the Australian population having tried it. Of those, almost 20 percent had used in the last 12 months. We are one of the world’s largest consumers of cannabis, just behind New Zealand.

In recent times there has been a great deal of discussion around the perceived higher potency level of cannabis, that somehow the drug is now 30 times stronger than it used to be. There is no evidence to support this belief; instead of 30 times stronger (or 3,000 percent stronger) we believe that cannabis may be about 3-4 percent stronger than it used to be.

In the search for what one might call the higher high, many people refer to a strain often called skunk, a mixture of superior grade cannabises. Now apparently there is a new variety of super skunk -“ or punk -“ an even more potent variant, possibly genetically modified, which was reported to have reached the European markets in recent times.

Of course the media have gone wild with the story warning unsuspecting cannabis users that their drug of choice is now laced with a variety of things ranging from ketamine through to heroin and crack cocaine, and even embalming fluid. As always the stories have involved local workers who make wild claims including that this new turbo-charged super skunk was unwittingly being smoked by children as young as 13. So how real is this new cannabis menace? Is there any truth to the punk rumour?

This story has been going on for many years, that cannabis dealers are mixing other, far more addictive drugs in with the cannabis to get children hooked onto drugs which have a greater profit margin. Without doubt some people do mix their joints with something a bit stronger, but that only happens out of choice, not because dealers are being more than usually nefarious.

Selling laced pre-prepared cannabis joints to children doesn’t really make sense. While no one can view every transaction between dealer and user, the economics of selling cannabis speak for themselves. For a $25 deal of cannabis you could smoke a reasonable number of cones, depending on how the drug is used. Why put a drug worth considerably more into the mix? The myth that someone will unwittingly become addicted to it just does not stand up to any scrutiny -“ and most importantly, there’s simply no money in it.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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