In Washington state, a leaked report shows that high-potency cannabis products are creating new regulatory risks.
The report, based on government-seized samples, shows that THC levels have skyrocketed in recent years, from around 4% to more than 15%.
Not only have cannabis plants been bred to contain more of the psychoactive substance (THC), but some concentrates are often labeled as 60% to 99% content, reported Bloomberg.
What Does The Report Say?
Last week, the Cannabis Observer leaked the draft scientific report to address the public health challenges of high-THC cannabis, which is planned to be released at the end of the year.
The report recommends policies such as preventing new users from starting to consume these products and calls on companies to provide more information to consumers.
It also does not recommend a limit on THC levels, although it suggests that it might be more feasible in the future.
“It was legalized as a plant, and now it has become something else. So now there’s a burden of proof,” said Beatriz Carlini, who directs cannabis research and education at the University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute. “(...) there is “robust science showing that higher-THC marijuana increases the risk of addiction and psychiatric disorders,” Carlini added.
Carlini said the report “will recommend tax increases on any product with more than 35% THC and the prohibition of any advertising and promotion of such products.” Also, it will call for increasing the age requirement for their purchase to 25, and strongly recommends that limits on THC content be defined “in the very early stages of legalization,” she added.
Concern for High-Potency Products: The Perception Gap Within The Market
Carlini said that when asked to rate how concerned they were about the risks of high THC concentrations on a scale of 1 to 5, the responses from scientific researchers, government employees, health care providers and prevention agencies ranged from 3.8 to 4.2.
However, marijuana industry representatives only rated their level of concern at 1.4, while cannabis users doubled that level at 2.8, she said.
Educating Consumers: A Key To Their Safety
As scientists warn that high-THC weed could be causing more people around the globe to become addicted, cannabis operators agree that consumer safety should take priority over THC potency.
"Companies could then concentrate on educating consumers about cannabinoids and the entourage effects of different terpenes," said Jill Ellsworth, founder and CEO of Willow Industries, a Denver-based company that provides marijuana and hemp decontamination technology.
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