New, more powerful pot use on rise

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/Courtesy

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/Courtesy

KINGMAN -This is not your parent's pot.

A new and more potent type of marijuana is giving bigger and more dangerous highs and increasing the number of users and crimes from coast to coast, including Kingman. It's simple math, really.

"Back in the 1970s and 1980s, marijuana had THC levels of 3 to 15 percent," said Kingman Police Chief Robert DeVries. "Today's newer hydro-marijuana has a THC level of 80 percent."

The newer, more powerful hydro-marijuana is being created in environments where the drug is cultivated in water rather than everyday soil. The water or special nutrient-heavy soil makes it so the plants can hold moisture and nutrients longer. In doing so, the THC levels are higher and more condensed, creating a much more potent drug.

Not only has the drug changed, so have attitudes.

"Youth are receiving mixed messages," said Jennifer Sochocki, public information officer with the Kingman Police Department. "They see cigarettes as dangerous and won't smoke, but they don't seem to understand that with marijuana because it is used in places for medical purposes."

DeVries noted an interesting ripple effect with the increase in hydro-marijuana. As the use increases, so do other crimes.

"We see that as the use of this hydro-marijuana goes up, so do the number of burglaries, whether they are home or commercial," he said. "People rob so they can sell what they have to continue using the drug."

The hydro-marijuana, which comes to Arizona primarily from California, is worth roughly $4,000-$6,000 per pound. The ground-grown Mexican marijuana is worth just $700 per pound. A recent bust of hydro-marijuana from California netted officials pot valued at more than $700,000.