Those behind the THC limiting proposals say they’re smart, cautious moves; Opponents say they’ll hurt the pot industry

Ricardo Baca, The Denver Post – Denver and the West, March 30, 2016

Colorado is concerned about extremely high levels of THC in their marijuana and marijuana products. Their average potencies are 17 percent for marijuana and 62 percent for marijuana concentrate products.

Josh Hindi, whose dispensary, Dabble Extracts, a concentrates company, “estimates his extracts test between 70 percent and 80 percent THC and cater(s) to patients who prefer the more potent product.”

For Josh, lowering THC limits “would remove concentrates in total from any kind of retail operation.”

There is no research available on these alarmingly high THC levels and its impact on brain development of adolescents. As a result, the Colorado state House has a proposed bill limiting THC potency of marijuana to 15 percent and 16 percent in marijuana products. Additionally, “It would require everything to be sold in a child-resistant, opaque, resealable package and would require edibles to be packaged and sold only in single-serving amounts.”

There is also a THC-capping ballot initiative limiting retail marijuana products to 16 percent but not medical marijuana.

Read more: Effort to limit pot’s THC count raises questions

Brian Blake, Hudson Institute, January 21, 2016

There is no consistent evidence of an association between the implementation of policies related to prescription opioids and increases in the rates of heroin use or deaths. Instead the heroin market forces, including increased accessibility, reduced price, and high purity of heroin appear to be major drivers of the recent increases in rates of heroin use.

This finding contradicts the White House claim that the huge increase in heroin overdose deaths---440 percent in the past seven years---is directly related to prescription pain killers and changes in prescribing policies aimed at making them harder to obtain and abuse.

The article appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine is a product of leading researchers at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They surveyed dozens of recent, peer-reviewed studies on heroin use. Initiation patterns, overdose deaths and the effects of policy changes in prescribing opioids.

Read more: New Study Shows Increased Heroin Availability at Root of Heroin Crisis, not Prescription Painkillers

Kody Fisher, 22NEWS WWLP, January 17, 2016

Marijuana use by Colorado teens ages 12 to 17 has increased 20% more in the two years since legalization. The data came from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

With the increase the state moved from number 4 to number 1 in teen pot use.

“With the legalization of marijuana it has just kinda made people more comfortable with being open about. It’s more socially acceptable, so I think people are more open about the fact that they use it,” said Studio A64 Owner Ambur Racek.

Read more: Study: 20 percent increase in youth marijuana use --- Kids 12 to 17 used the drug 20% more in the...

National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, NIH News, NIAAA News Release, October 21, 2015

Marijuana use by adults in the United States has soared, more doubling, over the past decade, 2001-2002 to 2012-2013. Surveys show 9.5 percent of Americans use marijuana; 30 percent of users meet criteria for a disorder.

Past year marijuana use rose from 4.1 percent to 9.5 percent of the U.S. adult population, while the prevalence of marijuana use disorder rose from 1.5 percent to 2.9 percent, according to national surveys conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
“Based on the results of our surveys, marijuana use in the United States has risen rapidly over the past decade, with about 3 in 10 people who use marijuana meeting the criteria for addiction. Given these increases, it is important that the scientific community convey information to the public about the potential harms,” said George Koob, Ph.D., director of NIAAA.

Read more: Prevalence of Marijuana Use Among U.S. Adults Doubles Over Past Decade

Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post, October 14, 2015

The Colorado School Safety Resource Center in Thornton, CO, held a Safe Schools Summit. Over 350 educators, first responders and school mental health professionals crowded into a conference room to learn about the impact marijuana legalization is having on the schools.

“It’s the No. 1 problem in schools right now,” said Lynn Riemer, president of ACT on Drugs, a nonprofit drug awareness and education organization.

Jeff Whitmore, from Bayfield School District, said, “At first, I thought it was similar to alcohol and that the kids would do it anyway and all that. But it’s like they’re disguising alcohol as Kool-Aid and marketing it to kids. These edibles are cookies and gummy bears, and they’re filled with high amounts of THC.”

Read more: Colorado Educators Concerned about Pot in Public Schools

Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Volume 3, September 2015

Colorado’s annual report shows an increase in impaired driving, youth marijuana use, adult marijuana use, emergency room marijuana and hospital marijuana related admissions, and treatment admissions.

By the end of 2012, Colorado had over 108,000 medical marijuana cardholders. People often choose medical marijuana over recreational marijuana because taxes on medical marijuana are significantly lower.

Recreational marijuana use began in 2013; by 2014, in one year:

  • They found a 45 percent increase in marijuana positive toxicology reports for those primarily driving under the influence.
  • They found a 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths.
  • They found a 29 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related emergency room visits.
  • They found a 38 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related hospitalizations.

Read more: The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact

Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, September 8, 2015

Without examining a patient’s eyes, Dr. Joseph Starkman allegedly recommended medical marijuana for a 79-year-old patient who, at one time, had been diagnosed with glaucoma. The recommendation cost the patient $250.

Dr. Starkman, 36, could have his medical license suspended or revoked. Illinois’ medical marijuana law requires doctors to certify that a patient has an approved diagnosis and will likely benefit from marijuana.

Read more: Illinois doctor fights charges he misled patient about marijuana

Parents Opposed to Pot, July 3, 2015

Writers from have reviewed the book, Pretty Little Killers, the story of 16-year-olds, Sheila Eddy and Rachel Shoaf, who killed Skylar Neese in a marijuana woven web, and they offer plausible explanations for the girl’s actions through current marijuana research.

The authors, Daleen Berry and Geoffrey C. Fuller were given access to Skylar’s journals and writings.

A rupture in the friendship had developed 11 months earlier when Skylar saw Sheila and Rachel having sex at a sleepover. The book gives vague hints that Rachel and Shelia had wanted to get rid of Skylar for about 9 months before the murder happened, for fear she’d reveal the lesbian tryst. Although Skylar had at least two violent fights with Shelia Eddy before her friends killed her, she stayed away from them during most of the previous 6 months. But on that fatal night, the lure of sneaking out of her apartment to smoke weed broke her resolve.

The well-researched book explains that the three girls began smoking weed about 21 months before the murder, during fall of their freshman year. About 15 months earlier, the girls had been caught violating curfew, going out with older guys who had pot.

Read more: Poisoned By the Weed: Marijuana and Pretty Little Killers, Part 1

Associated Press, July 15, 2015

Colorado’s Board of Health voted against adding PTSD to the existing list of 8 debilitating conditions that qualify for medical marijuana use. “We can’t have physicians counseling people in favor of it because we don’t have data to show it’s correct,” said Jill Hunsaker-Ryan, one of the board members who voted no.

Colorado allows adults over 21 to buy recreational pot, with no doctor’s recommendation needed. But medical pot is taxed at 2.9 percent, compared to at least 19 percent for recreational pot.

In addition, medical patients are allowed to possess twice as much marijuana – 2 ounces instead of 1 ounce.

Read more: Colorado rejects PTSD as ailment eligible for medical pot

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, Science Spotlight, June 23, 2015

New research released on June 23, 2015 by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), proves smoking low levels of marijuana, 2.9% vs 6.7% THC, causes impaired driving similar to those with 0.08 breath alcohol.

The research was done at the University of Iowa on a sophisticated driving simulator that measured weaving between the lanes.

Additionally, drivers drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana exacerbated their impairment. Those using both substances weaved within lanes even if their blood THC and alcohol concentrations were below the impairment thresholds for each substance alone.

It was found that low amounts of alcohol significantly increased peak THC concentrations.

Read more: Effects of marijuana – with and without alcohol – on driving performance