Pubdate: Sun, 10 Apr 2016
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2016 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Henny Lasley
Note: Henny Lasley is a co-founder of Smart Colorado.

Should We Limit Pot Potency?


It's time for Colorado to have a frank discussion about marijuana 
potency. In recent years, Colorado's marijuana has become a 
fundamentally different and harder drug, with unprecedented levels of 
THC, marijuana's psychoactive ingredient.

Nationally, the potency of marijuana has more than tripled since the 
mid-1990s, with the average at 12.6 percent THC in 2013, according to 
the National Drug Control Strategy.

But Colorado's post-legalization pot has reached even higher levels. 
Here, the average potency of marijuana flowers/buds is 17.1 percent 
THC and the average potency of concentrates is 62.1 percent THC, 
according to the Marijuana Equivalency in Portion and Dosage report, 
prepared for the Colorado Department of Revenue.

"The typical THC content in concentrated forms of marijuana varies 
between 60-80 percent, although rates as high as 95 percent have 
sometimes been observed," the report adds.

This new high-potency pot can produce psychotic effects and has been 
linked to Colorado deaths and a spike in hospitalizations.

Existing research on marijuana's effects doesn't consider the impact 
of this extremely high-THC marijuana.

Quite simply, this is not your parents' pot. It has very little in 
common with the Woodstock weed of yesteryear.

Studies have already established that marijuana is harmful to the 
developing brains of adolescents, so the potential damage of 
Colorado's high-potency pot for teens is frightening. Lewis Geyer, 
Longmont Times-Call Products on the shelves at Green Tree Medicinals 
in Longmont.

That is especially of concern given than 36.9 percent of Colorado 
high school students say they have tried marijuana, according to the 
2013 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. One out of five students reported 
using it in the past 30 days.

In Denver, where there's been the most marijuana commercialization, 
teen use over the previous month was disturbingly much higher, at 
26.6 percent, with almost half of students saying they have tried marijuana.

The green rush to commercialize marijuana in Colorado has not allowed 
for a measured, thoughtful conversation or approach on the potency issue.

Research on the impacts of such record high THC potencies is needed 
and, at least until that's available, it's critical that reasonable 
limits be put in place. Additionally, all products with THC potency 
over 10 percent should contain a warning label that the health 
effects of high-potency marijuana are unknown.

The stakes are too high for Colorado youth to continue to be the 
guinea pigs in this risky potency experiment.

While Colorado is in unchartered territory when it comes to 
commercialized legalized marijuana, we can learn from the experiences 
of others.

For example, the Netherlands considers marijuana with THC potencies 
over 15 percent a hard drug in the same category as cocaine, citing 
increasing public health hazards.

In Uruguay, legal marijuana is capped at 15 percent THC.

Meanwhile, the marijuana industry discounts the impact of these 
dizzyingly high concentrations. An educational brochure published by 
the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance says the difference between 
today's marijuana and the pot of decades ago is akin to difference 
"between a cup of tea and an espresso." How often does an espresso 
result in hospitalization or worse?

Before we conclude how to regulate marijuana in Colorado, we need to 
be clear on what we're regulating.

Addressing THC potency will provide a transparent, logical, 
fact-based and standardized approach to marijuana dosing, 
highlighting the strength of the dose to inform consumers.

It will allow for much-needed and long overdue conversations between 
adult consumers and the marijuana industry about desired intoxication 
and tolerable impairment levels.

Finally, it will provide important opportunities to better educate 
Colorado's youth about today's super-strong marijuana and its risk to 
their futures.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom