The cannabis industry has increased in size and scope over the past few years. With such expansion, there has been growing discussion over regulation and what types of products can be sold on the market.
As these discussions occur in the industry, businesses are now facing scrutiny from lawmakers on a looming issue: potency. As the industry has grown, so has the variety of cannabis products ― this includes the amount of THC in a given product. As such, THC potency has become a hotly debated topic in states where cannabis has been legalized.
THC Limits Already in Place in Vermont, Under Discussion in Other States
In states such as Colorado and Washington, debates are being held on whether THC limits should be imposed in response to public health concerns. Vermont has already passed legislation limiting the THC content within cannabis products sold in the state.
Concerns regarding the potency of cannabis products have been voiced on the federal level as well. Dianne Feinstein (D) and John Cornyn (R), co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, have advocated for THC limits to be introduced by federal agencies in states where cannabis has been legalized.
Arguments in Favor of THC Limits
Among the advocates in favor of THC limits, core arguments include providing cannabis products with better-disclosed potencies and concerns over cannabis consumption by children and young adults. Proponents for such changes include Colorado-based Blue Rising Together, a Democratic-aligned advocacy group.
In an interview, Colorado House speaker Alec Garnett (D) said on the matter: “There’s a lot of statutory tightening that we need to do to help rein in what is clearly a problem, which is diversion of high-potency products into the hands of teenagers. I don’t want a teenager to be confronted with a question of whether or not to dab a high-potency concentrate.”
In Washington State, Rep. Lauren Davis (D) has been trying to push through legislation to limit the THC potency of concentrate products. Among the advocates for THC limits, she has been one of the most vocal critics of legal cannabis, having given up on cooperating with the industry.
“I don’t think anyone conceptualized what would happen when … industry and science and business and the motivation of profit come into the state of Washington. All of a sudden, a few years later, your shelves are stocked with these oils that are 99 percent THC,” she said.
Arguments Against THC Limits
Representatives and experts from the cannabis industry have voiced their concerns against THC limits, citing incomplete research and imperfect scientific evidence. Furthermore, advocates have argued in favor of treating cannabis with the same methods as the alcohol industry, with product safety being handled by state regulators.
Federal laws have made it difficult for cannabis researchers to look into the full effects of THC. In turn, this has made it difficult for lawmakers to properly introduce legislation to address the issue.
Another argument proposed by cannabis industry experts includes the notion that banning high-THC products will result in customers seeking such products from illicit sources.
“High potency products like concentrates — there’s significant demand for them among cannabis consumers,” said Morgan Fox, spokesman for the National Cannabis Association. “If you make it so that regulated producers are no longer able to produce these, that market is going to go completely underground.”
The Weed Blog will continue to provide updates to these discussions.
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