Synopsis: The Case for THC Potency Limits on Shatter and Other Marijuana Products
This week’s Hot Article, The Case for THC Potency Limits on Shatter and Other Marijuana Products, written by Michael Roberts and published by Westword, talks about how a community organization dedicated to keeping kids away from cannabis is proposing THC limits for cannabis products, which continue to get stronger and stronger.
According to the recent 2017 Colorado Marijuana Market Size and Demand Study, THC levels in marijuana flower rose nearly 20% between 2014 and 2017. Rachel O’Bryan, co-founder of Smart Colorado feels that the evidence suggests this is not going to end anytime soon: “This is very different from marijuana in the 1980s. As a result, it’s a fundamentally different game,” says O’Bryan.
O’Bryan is concerned with the rising THC levels of marijuana concentrate products that are becoming increasingly popular with youth. Even though the most recent Healthy Kids Survey showed no increase in the rate of youth marijuana use, O’Bryan says that digging a little bit deeper into the study actually shows that dabbing has increased significantly. “Over a third of youth users are dabbing it,” says O’Bryan.
The strength of these concentrates is much higher than that of marijuana flower. In fact, stores advertise wax and shatter marketed with 90% THC levels. O’Bryan takes issue with the lack of regulation of the THC potency levels, and states that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment “says these products haven’t been proven safe.”
Opposition to the lack of restrictions is nothing new. As Zefyr wrote about in “Is the U.S. Market for Weed Edibles Actually Booming?”, abuse of THC concentration levels has been a long-lamented issue. In fact, CO Amendment 139 from 2016 would have limited THC levels to 16% and require placing labeling restrictions into the Colorado Constitution. Amendment 139 was heavily promoted but lacked backing and was pulled from consideration by voters.
“We’ve been pushing for limits since almost the first year of legalization,” O’Bryan points out. “We thought potency limits were necessary, and we actually got the state on board back in 2014 when it came to edibles.”
O’Bryan cites a 2018 study of data from the Netherlands as evidence that limiting THC levels in products also reduces the number of people seeking treatment for marijuana addiction. Although the potential tie between marijuana use and addiction has been in question, Dr. Rav Iker, the Boulder-based author of the book Cannabis for Chronic Pain, called for making concentrates illegal.
While many Americans see federal legalization as the ultimate goal for cannabis, consideration of addressing both use by children and addiction cannot be ignored all-the-while. Continuing study of use, concentration, and product composition is necessary, and the control and limitation of THC levels in products may go a long way to maintain the safety cannabis product users of all ages.