Pubdate: Thu, 07 Apr 2016
Source: Portland Mercury (OR)
Column: Cannabuzz
Copyright: 2016 The Portland Mercury
Author: Josh Jardine


Some Very, Very Stupid Ideas

I HAVE BRUISES on my face this week. (No, not from Fight Club, which 
I really shouldn't even be talking about.) These bruises are from 
slapping my forehead repeatedly as I read what's up in the world of 
weed. Much as I have trouble comprehending anyone voting for a 
micro-fingered, angry tangerine wigman, I cannot grasp the logic 
behind some of the proposals that are happening in Colorado.

In the Centennial State, a (surprise!) Republican state 
representative has proposed a ballot initiative and amendment to a 
bill that would limit potency of "marijuana and marijuana products" 
to 15 or 16 percent. As a frame of reference, a Colorado Department 
of Revenue study states that the average potency for flower is 17.1 
percent THC, and 62.1 percent for extracts.

Here's the well-thought-out logic behind this move: "All the studies 
that have been done on THC levels have been done on THC levels 
between 2 and 8 percent," says Colorado State Representative Kathleen 
Conti. "Most of the marijuana coming in now, the flowers are being 
rated at a THC count of about 17 percent on average, so this is 
dramatically over, and we really don't know that we've gotten the 
true feel on the health risks associated with that marijuana."

The changes would amend the state constitution, and only apply to 
recreational purchases, with medical cannabis being left as it 
presently stands. It would also define a "single-serving amount" to 
be 10 milligrams of THC.

But wait, because this offer now comes with an extra serving of 
hysteria! According to the Cannabist, all retail marijuana products 
would be required to have new labels, which would list "identified 
health risks," including "birth defects and reduced brain 
development," risks to the brain and behavioral development of 
babies, breathing difficulties, "permanent loss of abilities," mood 
swings, impaired thinking and body movement, depression, temporary 
paranoia, anxiety, and "potential for long-term addiction."

The second change would also apply to retail dispensaries, banning 
them from selling "marijuana and marijuana products" with a potency 
of greater than 15 percent. Violators could face suspension or loss 
of license, and a maximum fine of $100,000. Finally, it would force 
retailers to get really, really good at having their products tested, 
as the new regulation would require them to accurately report potency 
by plus or minus 5 percent.

There's not enough space in this newspaper for my arguments about why 
this is all sorts of fucked up, but let's scratch the surface, at least:

Cannabis is a plant. Plants grow, and if tended to properly, produce 
cannabis flowers with varying levels of THC. With some very, very 
rare exceptions, you want your cannabis flower to test as high as 
possible. Not so you have bragging rights, but because a plant higher 
in THC allows the user to consume less of it to obtain the same 
effects as consuming a plant with lower THC amounts.

Who benefits from lower THC amounts? I'll hazard a wild guess, and 
say the entity that collects taxes. Weaker product drives people to 
purchase more product, which in turn raises more taxes.

I'm unclear what "permanent loss of abilities" entails. I've just 
about permanently lost my ability to listen to the trash talk put 
forth by prohibitionist politicians. Does that qualify?

The range of THC in a single plant can vary. Those flowers at the top 
of the plant, all fat, thick and crystalline? Those are going to test 
higher in THC than the airy popcorn buds on the bottom of the plant, 
which receive less light. So that plus/minus 5 percent potency thing 
is going to be tough on a dispensary owner who buys a pound that may 
have a mixture of smaller and larger buds.

Will these rules be applied to alcohol as well? Ever had a 3 percent 
alcohol beer in Salt Lake City? What do you mean, you didn't care for 
it, you are a responsible adult, and you don't need elected officials 
reducing alcohol content in your taxed and regulated intoxicant?

Oregon, heads up. This sort of stupidity can cross state lines faster 
than bird flu.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom