How Does Modern Marijuana Compare to Marijuana From the 1970s?

It’s fairly evident and logical that during the last several decades of scientific advancements in growing had a fierce impact on cannabis potency worldwide, but to what extent did the strength of buds actually increase?

To uncover this conundrum with as much accuracy as possible, we need to look at numerous variables that have really evolved with the course of time, which in favor resulted in some pivotal advancements on how weed is grown, preserved, transported, and finally consumed.

I wanted to find out how much has changed, and how different is really the cannabis which was used it the 70’s to our modern-day flowers.

As I mentioned a few moments ago, there are a few ultra-important factors to consider.


Forty years ago, it was immensely rare to find a cannabis farm anywhere on US or Canadian soil. Instead of being home grown, the majority of pot was illegally brought from other countries (mainly from South America), and during this era the most notable country was Colombia.


Another crucial factor for potency is how long it took for cannabis to get to the customer, and because the longevity of the travel and the exposure to high temperatures during transportation directly resulted in oxidation of cannabis, this really decreases the potency of the flowers.

The longer the travel (and how hot the voyage gets), the quantities of THC and other cannabinoids in the plant get lesser and lesser.


One decade later (the 80’s), the home-grown hydroponic industry started to take hold in the states, and it basically relies on growing marijuana not in classical soil, but in solutions that are highly rich in nutrients.

For more info on hydroponics, read chapter 6 of this article.

These hydroponic systems allowed growers to create a much stronger products than the one which was previously available to the customers, and the time needed to get cannabis from one hand to another also became quite shorter, and that resulted in a much fresher, more potent product.


Another fascinating part of the marijuana’s journey into potency, it also began around 10 years after the 70’s. The growers at the time started to combine indica and sativa strains to create stronger, more potent hybrids.

This of course didn’t stop in the 80’s, and hybridization quickly became the best way to produce the most powerful and versatile products around, and this process is of course still heavily used in today’s manufacturing of marijuana.

What’s in the Mix

Weed bricks

A few decades ago cannabis came in kilo bags which sometimes took months to arrive to their desired location, and in them there was a large amount of leaves and stems besides the actual psychoactive buds, while the buds themselves were a lot less potent, as I mentioned in the previous passages.

Nowadays in your local dispensaries you’ll mostly find only feminized flowers, that result in much higher THC levels, which was only science fiction fantasy for the rock n rollers and hippies of the 70’s.

What about the numbers?

40+ years ago, the reports show that the average levels of THC were around 1%.

On the other hand, recent scientific discoveries report that the current average levels of THC in cannabis are much higher, ranging from 6 to 8%, and of course, there are much stronger strains also available on the market.

There is an aspect that could easily dispute the validity of the reports from the 70’s, because the method used in that era was predominantly gas chromatography, which heats up any test materials before the actual analysis, which ultimately alters the chemical structure of any cannabis plant.

The unstable structure of THC molecules break from the heat inflicted by the gas testing, which ultimately results in much lower readings.

Be that as it may, the fluctuations of the readings could’ve changed the percentage only to a small extent, and all things considering, it isn’t really difficult to accept that a lot has changed in the process of growing and transportation of marijuana in these last last couple of decades.

This doesn’t mean that every bud you find is going to be severely stronger than anything people were smoking on back in the day, but the pot we’re currently puffing is undeniably more potent than it once was, and the end to this trend seems nowhere in sight, praise Jah almighty!

Categories Culture

7 thoughts on “How Does Modern Marijuana Compare to Marijuana From the 1970s?”

  1. Would love to hear more about the changes in bud. Specifically if anyone is trying to reverse engineer to get back to pot that made you laugh. As much as it was not as strong back in the day, the high was more social and giggly. Would love to know if it’s possible to creat a hybrid “laughing pot” or “mamas weed”

    • If you’re looking for pot that resembles “retro” cannabis, just make sure that the THC levels are pretty low, which is somewhat difficult to find, but definitely not impossible 🙂

  2. We used to really get blown away on what was going around in the mid to late 1970s. I’ve smoked near daily since then and I barely get off on today’s pot.

    • Well JT, it’s safe to say that after all those years you’ve built up one hell of a tolerance to THC and the gang.

  3. What an appalling level of ignorance! smh! Seriously, There is just so much wrong here it would take a tl;dr post just to cover half of it. I’m old (50’s) so I remember. Marco, do your homework! Same with your readers. This is an embarrassingly bad article and the comments as well.No excuse for this.

    • Hey Ol’ Toker, I require some type of proof that you were smoking pot in the 70’s, but if you actually did, your input would be really appreciated.

      I’ve sent an email your way, we’ll talk more there.

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