The next war in the cannabis industry: how strong should your weed be?

Kevin Sabet, president of anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, argues that illegal drug traffickers lack the expertise and manufacturing infrastructure to produce the kinds of high-potency products that have thrived in the markets state laws.

“The reason we even have high potency products is because of the legal market,” Sabet said. “They made it up. Pablo Escobar did not invent this. The Mexican drug cartels never invented this sort of thing. It’s American ingenuity, and it’s American ingenuity gone wrong.

Kris Krane, the president of marijuana company 4Front Ventures, disputes this claim. He points out that concentrated THC products have been around for a long time in the illicit market, but not in the variety that can be found in legal markets today.

“It doesn’t take a lot to extract butane in a garage,” Krane said. “It’s just really dangerous.”

Imperfect science

Garnett, speaker from Colorado, argues that the disconnect between state and federal laws has made it more difficult to collect credible scientific data on the impact of high THC. some products. It’s crippled lawmakers who seek to fix the problem without unnecessarily choking the industry.

“The biggest downside for federal authorities not to participate in this conversation sooner is the fact that they have not activated the FDA and NIH to conduct public health research on the developing brain and mature and what happens when high potency products are used ”. Garnett said. “If we could go back, this is the only place I would have liked the federal government to play a leading role.”

Most scientists agree that the research is not over. But they also argue that each new study is a more compelling argument for limiting the availability of high THC products. The formation of the human brain is assisted by the body’s endocannabinoid system, explained Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a Yale University scientist who has studied the relationship between cannabis and psychosis for 25 years. It is a system that includes receptors and chemical messengers that play an important role in brain function through age 25.

“What happens is that the endocannabinoid system – when it turns on – its effects only last for a few milliseconds to a few seconds. But when someone smokes cannabis, this system is activated not for seconds to milliseconds, but for minutes to hours, ”D’Souza said. “And so, exposure to cannabis during these critical phases of brain development can be wasted, for lack of a better word.”

Davis’s Washington state bill differs from other THC potency cap proposals because it would limit the purchase of concentrates to people over 25. 21.

Legislative dead ends

Therefore far, efforts to impose power caps have largely failed in state capitals.

Nowhere has the issue garnered more attention than in Florida, where the debate has unfolded for three consecutive years. The state’s burgeoning medical marijuana program has more than 530,000 participants, adding more than 200,000 enrollees in the past year alone.

Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls, citing scientific studies showing that products containing high levels of THC impair brain development in young people, this year backs legislation that would limit flower products to a concentration of 10% THC. Products such as concentrates, oils and waxes would be capped at 60 percent.

But that effort appears to be on the ropes as the state enters the final week of this year’s legislative session.

The House bill was all but doomed to failure when Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters last month he would not approve the measure. A more stringent complementary measure by the Senate was never on the agenda of its first committee.

However, next year’s state budget, which the legislature is expected to approve next week, includes more than $ 4 million for the state’s Department of Health to expand marijuana testing to the THC concentration.

The strong weed debate is not going to end in Florida or anywhere else. But so far, most lawmakers have been unwilling to approve tough caps for an industry expected to double in size – topping $ 40 billion – over the next four years.

“I pushed that rock upward, just trying to educate the members of the legislature,” said Davis, the Washington state legislator. “They, without fail, without exception, said, ‘I had no idea.'”

Arek Sarkissian contributed to this report.

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