Smart Colorado, a nonprofit group that lobbies for restrictions on cannabis consumption, proposed a cap on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) amounts in cannabis products, specifically in concentrates. According to the organization’s report, entitled “Highly Potent Pot Poses Unacceptable Risks to Public and Colorado Youth,” the potency of cannabis has more than tripled since the ’90s and Colorado ranks first in the nation for youths who consume the most cannabis. Currently there aren’t any regulations in Colorado limiting the potency of THC in concentrates and flower.
Smart Colorado is a parent-run group that believes that high-THC potency is a problem, but it’s not the only group that has presented a study on cannabis’ effects on the residents of Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment also published a data analysis called “Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: Early Findings” which found that cannabis-related trips to the emergency room rose 29 percent from 2014 to mid-2015. Another study conducted in 2015 (which analyzed the link between high potency cannabis and psychosis) stated that there was a 24 percent increase in new cases of psychosis. Consumption of products with THC may cause heart palpitations, anxiety, paranoia and episodes of confusion.
High doses of THC are especially questionable and potentially dangerous for the brain development of consumers who are 12 years of age or younger, as the human brain does not fully develop until around age 25. Some research has shown that high amounts of THC in a young brain is not only harmful but can lower IQs, leading to drug addiction, schizophrenia and psychotic episodes, reports Smartcolorado.org.
So, what does Smart Colorado propose as a solution? The group is concerned that there is not enough scientific evidence to support that potent cannabis is not a risk to the public and thus it believes that THC levels should be capped until proven otherwise. The organization also supports educating the public, specifically the youth, of the effects which cannabis may have on developing brains. Finally, Smart Colorado supports more research in order to understand the risks associated with high levels of THC content, and also would like to see limitations on advertising that may normalize cannabis consumption among the youth.
Creating a maximum level of 16 percent THC content in concentrates and flower was proposed back in 2016 with Amendment 139, but the proposal was withdrawn from the initiative. Now, Smart Colorado is reintroducing potency regulations to the table.
“The organization also supports educating the public, specifically the youth, of the effects which cannabis may have on developing brains.”
Smart Colorado has had success in creating restrictions for children in the state’s ever-growing cannabis industry. From discontinuing packaging that appeal to children, to educating parents on the dangers of cannabis in youth, the organization has a strong mission to keep its community safe by reporting on findings about any harmful effects of cannabis or how it’s being marketed and manufactured. According to their mission statement, “Smart Colorado is focused on providing important public awareness and education of marijuana’s health risks to youth, and awareness of regulatory limitations and policy challenges that result in increased youth exposure to the drug. Each of the objectives listed is an integral part of implementing the organization’s mission.”
On the flipside, putting a cap on THC into effect could pose serious obstacles for patients, growers and manufacturers. Trying to dial in and scale back precise THC content and possibly have to destroy anything that tested over the allotted amount could cause a setback for businesses in the industry.