Lawmakers in several states are pushing forward with something that was proposed and failed in Colorado — limiting the amount of THC in cannabis. Plenty of people – including marijuana industry officials, both for the medical and recreational side – are fighting back, arguing that THC limits are grounded on shaky science. Industry experts predict that efforts, if successful, will result in something along the lines of a 10% THC cap.
Both sides of the issue have vastly different perspectives. Still, the fact is that THC levels in some products can be astronomical. In essence, concentrate products can have up to 90 percent THC, and flower can test at over 20 percent THC. Opponents claim the high potency can result in psychosis and increased rates of addiction. On the flip side, medical marijuana advocates say that individuals should be able to exercise personal freedom of choice.
Regardless, there’s not a single state that has legalized marijuana with a THC limit on products. At least for now.
One controversial study tried to link high-THC marijuana and psychosis. In another case, last October, a witness at a Florida House Health & Human Services Committee legislative hearing in Florida referred to a 19th-century study at a mental institution in another country that inferred that high cannabis use makes psychological issues worse.
Critics say these measures – especially on concentrates, could be harmful, and may indirectly encourage producers to include additives and diluents to meet THC limits. The recent vape health scare, thought to have been caused by vitamin E acetate in cartridges, highlights the potential problems related to additives.
Tried (and failed)
Various states have tried pushing THC cap limits before, to lackluster results. In February, Arizona lawmakers introduced (and subsequently withdrew) a bill to limit THC content to 2% in medical marijuana. A similar proposal in Colorado failed once before — but it looks like the state is back to discuss the issue. Will it fail again?
Washington state lawmakers are on that track too; they recently introduced a bill to limit THC in concentrates to 10%. Opponents are trying to keep it from moving any further along in the process.
Anyone familiar with legal marijuana trials and tribulations has heard the spiel about access to banking being the major hurdle facing the industry. The banking side of things might leverage the industry to impose THC limits — if they want access to desperately-needed banking options, anyway. U.S. Senator Michael Crapo, the chair of the mighty Senate Banking Committee, recently implied that he would consider a 2% cap on THC in cannabis products, but there’s a catch: the limit would be a requirement for businesses to be eligible for any financial services under proposed cannabis banking reform. In essence, the clamoring of legitimate businesses is now being used as leverage to control the ‘active ingredient’ in the industry’s product.
Many marijuana advocates and business owners say that a 2% cap on THC would wipe out the medical marijuana market. Others see it as a political power play and note that there’s not really anyone cultivating any cannabis that tests below 10%. Whether the THC cap will drive MMJ patients — or those who enjoy the mental and physical effects of high-THC products — to purchase from the black market or not remains to be seen, but it’s a likely possibility.