An Illinois county said it will become one of the first in the U.S. to require retail cannabis dispensaries to display mental health warnings for consumers.
According to Axios, McHenry County State Attorney Patrick Kenneally said dispensaries in his county will need to post signage warning of the potential link between cannabis and "psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, increased thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts, anxiety and depression." Dispensaries that don’t comply could be hit with consumer fraud lawsuits.
In an op-ed published by the Chicago Tribune, Kenneally also said dispensaries must remove from all marketing any suggestions that cannabis has medical benefits. He went on to accuse cannabis retailers of “appropriating a scientific lexicon to create their own fraudulent field of medicine,” while casting doubt on cannabis’ ability to help with treating medical conditions.
“In McHenry County, we called balderdash. While a pretentious and fetishized pseudoscience seems to arise from any widespread love affair with an intoxicant (think red wine), saying that the tannin distribution in a pinot gives it an impetuous nose and plush finish is far different from saying the terpene profile of the “Pink Kush” strain is uniquely cultivated to treat depression. The former is fatuousness; the latter is malice,” he wrote.
Kenneally cited a “growing body of research” suggesting cannabis use, particularly in young people, can worsen depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and suicidal ideation.
A group of Illinois lawmakers issued a joint statement in response to the new McHenry County rules and called out Kenneally’s logic.
“At best, Kenneally misleads weekend editorial readers. At worst, he continues an unfortunate tradition in American history of using hyperbole to vilify cannabis use and possession, including for medical purposes,” they wrote.
Kenneally’s push back against cannabis arrives as the DEA is considering recommendations to reschedule cannabis on the list of controlled substances. If the DEA follows through on those recommendations, cannabis would be moved to Schedule III with other substances considered to have moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence along with currently accepted uses for medical treatment.