From soapbar to skunk: the ever increasing strength of cannabis

According to a new Europe-wide study on cannabis potency, the drug is barely recognisable to what it was just a decade ago.

If you used cannabis in Ireland in the 1990s or early 2000s you were most likely smoking the gritty, unpleasant resin variation known as “soapbar”.

There’s also a good chance that soapbar was brought into the country by the criminal John Gilligan or one of his underlings.

Gilligan’s stranglehold on the trade and his elimination of the competition meant his brand of low-quality hashish, shipped in from Morocco, was for a period one of the only variants of cannabis available. Even the once ubiquitous herbal cannabis became vanishingly rare.

The active ingredient in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Soapbar tended to have a THC level of about six per cent. It also contained a considerable amount of cannabidiol (CBD) which largely counteracted the effect of the THC

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