Ballot Initiative Could Limit THC Potency in Colorado

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Colorado Supreme Court gave approval for a petition that would limit the amount of THC in Colorado marijuana. Anti-pot supporters of the initiative must gather 98,000 signatures by August 8 for the proposal to appear on the November ballot.

Supporters believe that marijuana–both medical and recreational–is too potent and that current packaging and warning labels are insufficient. The proposed changes to the marijuana industry would ban marijuana products with a THC potency of more than 16%. In addition, the amendment would mandate warnings printed on cannabis packaging that say marijuana’s health risks include “permanent loss of brain abilities” and “birth defects and reduced brain development.”

The average potency of Colorado pot products are 17.1 percent for cannabis flower and 62.1 percent for marijuana extracts.

Should voters approve the amendment, the new rules would effectively put concentrate and edible manufacturers out of business, as well as making many strains of flower illegal. According to a report by BDS Analytics, the proposed changes would make 80% of cannabis products in the current Colorado market obsolete.

Medical and recreational sales generated almost $57 million in taxes and fees during the first four months of 2016. Marijuana has been a boon to Colorado, funneling thousands of dollars into state tax revenue, with much of the money earmarked for schools.

Legalization opponent Frank McNulty, Colorado’s former Speaker of the House and the official counsel to the citizens who first brought on the measure, said the amendment’s potential impact on the state’s marijuana industry “doesn’t matter.”

The Colorado Health Research Council (CHRC), opposes the proposed amendment limiting THC potency, and describes itself as “a coalition of cannabis patients, caregivers, scientists, cannabis industry leaders, the business community and ordinary citizens.” The CHRC is concerned that the amendment could have a huge impact on medical marijuana patients, who often need higher THC content.

The proposed amendment is written to impact only recreational cannabis, but the CHRC claims it could also apply to the state’s medical sales — including non-resident refugees and those with conditions such as PTSD that aren’t on the state’s list of MMJ-qualifying conditions who still buy at retail pot shops.