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Washington Bill Seeks Limits on THC Potency in Cannabis Products

The bill also raises the age of purchase of high THC products to 25.

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High-potency THC cannabis products can pose physical and mental harms that must be addressed, according to legislation introduced by Rep. Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline) and Rep. Tom Dent (R-Moses Lake).

“Today, there’s no legal limit on the potency of the psychoactive element, THC, in cannabis concentrates,” Davis said. “Cannabis vape oils, dabs, and shatter are regularly sold with a THC potency of nearly 100 percent—a ten-fold increase in potency from when cannabis was legalized in 2012. These concentrated products are different. And dangerous.”

House Bill 2320 spreads awareness of the dangers of high-potency THC to Washingtonians and funds the development of interventions in healthcare settings for individuals at risk of adverse health impacts from high THC products.

“The cannabis industry has changed considerably since cannabis was legalized,” Dent said. “This legislation is needed to address the ever-changing market and put some measures in place to protect cannabis users and our youth.”

The bill, which will be heard in the House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee on Tuesday, January 16, also raises the age of purchase of high THC products to 25, consistent with science about brain development.

According to Dr. Beatriz Carlini, from the University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug, and Alcohol Institute, these high-THC cannabis products are “as close to the cannabis plant as strawberries are to frosted strawberry pop tarts.”

House Bill 2320 recognizes a consensus statement released by The University of Washington and Washington State University about the public health risks posed by high THC products.

That statement summarizes the best available science: “the use of cannabis with high THC concentration increases the chances of developing cannabis use disorder or addiction to cannabis, particularly among adolescents. … Daily cannabis use, particularly of high-potency products, increases the risk of developing a psychotic disorder, like schizophrenia, and is related to an earlier onset of symptoms compared to people who do not use cannabis.”

The number of young people who are being impacted by the high potency of cannabis is increasing rapidly. It is leading to serious mental health issues such as psychosis,” Dent said. “We need to address this crisis before it filters deeper into our communities.”

If enacted, the legislature would also provide funding to the Department of Health to inform Washingtonians about the harms associated with high-potency THC cannabis products through social marketing and public health messages.

“This is a case where an addiction-for-profit industry has outpaced public policy,” Davis said. “It is our duty as lawmakers to learn from history and not repeat it. We must act now to protect public health. It is past time.”

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