Lawmakers Want To Cap THC

Democratic lawmaker wants to limit THC to prevent children from ingesting it

The state might pull off its most significant cannabis legislation overhaul since adult consumption was legalized in 2012. Led by Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a pediatrician, lawmakers from both sides of the political fence are working to introduce a bill capping THC on Colorado cannabis products. As recently as 2014, flower made up most medical and recreational cannabis purchases, with only 11% being high-potency concentrates. By 2019, that changed drastically, and concentrates accounted for 1/3 of the market, while flower fell below 50%. 

The bill’s supporters believe high-THC products put children at risk of accidentally ingesting cannabis and harming themselves, despite most experts agreeing the risk of fatally overdosing on pure cannabis is virtually non-existent. There’s a lot of focus on cannabis edibles, as children are more drawn to delicious-looking sweets. This is why many states forbid cannabis packaging to look childish and fun, like California - edible or not. 

“In the last couple years, I’ve seen much more frequent use among teenagers, to the extent that I just saw a patient — young lady, cheerleader, great kid all around, but she’s been using these (high-potency) products daily and ended up in the hospital because she was constantly vomiting and lost 25 pounds,” Dr. Caraveo told The Denver Post.

15% Limit On THC Is A Non-starter

Initially, Dr. Caraveo wanted to impose a 15% limit on THC, but it was immediately apparent that it was a non-starter. A 15% limit on THC products would virtually ruin Colorado’s cannabis industry. Thankfully, the bill was never introduced on the floor, and revisions are currently being made to formally initiate a new one. There is no percentage in place for a THC cap, and the decision to include flower under the cap has not yet been decided. Other language in the bill tightens the rules for people abusing the current daily cannabis limits and purchasing medicinal and recreational cannabis to go over their allotted amount set forth by the Colorado government.  

Patients Would No Longer Be Able To Obtain Patient Cards Online 

Lawmakers want this bill to also stop medical cannabis patients from obtaining or renewing their patient cards online and require an in-person meeting to become medical cannabis patients. This is to prevent just checking the doctor-to-patient boxes and fostering a real relationship between doctor and patient. The problem is, some disabled individuals can’t easily get to an in-person doctor. Throw in the global pandemic forcing many to limit their contact with others, and this bill’s language makes cannabis less accessible to those who need it most. Insurance doesn’t cover expenses relating to medical cannabis, so patients have to fork the costs over themselves. Many Coloradans live in rural areas with limited choices in physicians, which makes an in-person visit that much more challenging. 

One-third of Coloradans Support A THC Cap, Says Political Group

According to the Boulder-based liberal political group, Blue Rising Together, one-third of Coloradans support implementing a THC cap in the state. “The poll results reflect what we have heard from concerned parents and educators: that high-potency THC products are a cause for concern statewide and that we need better safeguards on these products to protect the public health. We believe that we should be following the science on high-potency THC products and introducing safeguards that will protect the health & safety not just of Coloradans but of all Americans,” said Dawn Reinfeld, Executive Director of Blue Rising Together.

Cannabis Is A Bipartisan Issue

Unlike other policy issues, there are no party lines with cannabis. One Democrat may hate it, while a Republican may back legalization every time. Hemp was removed from the Schedule I Substances list under Republican President Donald Trump, which doesn’t seem traditionally in line with conservative viewpoints. The cannabis conversation is changing, however, and this Democrat-led legislation has bipartisan support in Colorado. 

Let’s Look At The Root Of It

The problem is this isn’t a cannabis issue. It’s a parenting issue. Children have landed in the ER for accidentally ingesting cannabis, yes. But, how many deaths has cannabis led to? Not to say death is the only reason we should sound the danger alarm, but if it’s not an immediate harm to children and it helps far more people than it hurts, then it sounds like parents just need to keep cannabis locked up. The National Capital Poison center saw a 100% increase in calls about ingesting disinfectant products last spring due to COVID-19. However, the solution was to keep cleaning products away from your children - not change how they are manufactured. 

Child-proof Packaging Is A Safeguard

Cannabis products are required by law to be in child-proof packaging. That should be enough of a safeguard, which was the point of implementing that rule, but beyond that: it’s on the parents to keep their children safe. It’s not cannabis imposing danger on your children, as there are hundreds of thousands of parents who responsibly consume cannabis, and their children would have no way to access it at home. It’s parents who are allowing their children to be unattended around cannabis products. And hey, we get it. Accidents happen, and children can be sneaky. However, at the rate at which children are accidentally ingesting cannabis, it seems like we need to dig a little bit deeper to identify the root cause. 

Looking At The Statistics On Underage Drinking 

There are no limits on purchasing alcohol, and look at the statistics on underage drinking: 

  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says 4% of the American drinking population is people aged 12-20
  • More underage girls are drinking alcohol and binge drinking alcohol than underage boys, but this margin becomes smaller in 12-13-year-old children
  • 7 million young people, aged 12-20, reported drinking alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month (2019 data)
  • 1 in 10 respondents, aged 16-17, reported binge drinking in the past month (2019 data)

This doesn’t even account for alcohol-related deaths. According to the CDC, excessive drinking is responsible for 3,500 deaths and 210,000 years of potential life lost among Americans under 21 each year. Yet, where is the call to prevent underage drinking at all costs? Where is the call to limit alcohol content, in some cases drinks reaching 70% alcohol? 

Start a conversation with your Colorado state representative

Nobody wants children accidentally ingesting cannabis, but there are steps we can take to prevent that from happening before we cap THC. THC is invaluable to so many who rely on cannabis, and many severe health conditions respond best to high THC. This bill has bipartisan support, so it’s up to the cannabis industry to contact Colorado’s representatives and explain how this would hurt your business and your customers. Here are the main points we think you should include: 

  • High-THC products help the most severe patients combat their conditions
  • The responsibility to keep children safe falls on the parents
  • Limiting access to obtain cannabis patient cards online restricts vulnerable patients who either can’t leave their homes or don’t want to because of COVID-19

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