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Social Should Cannabis Potency Determine Regulatory Status And Approach?


President, M³ Technical & Regulatory Services, LLC
Here's something I have been thinking about for a while now. I started thinking about this concept months ago while sitting at a local brewery that had just opened in town. I noticed he had a sliding scale for the costs of beers (nothing new there) that were overall a little higher than the other bars in town. At first, I thought it was just the new guy in town trying to gouge us a little extra bit to pay for his brewing equipment, but then the owner and I discussed it. He was basing his prices on draught beer per glass on POTENCY, or alcohol content, not cost per keg (which turns out in his case, to be a conservative metric by which to price a glass of beer that turns out to be slightly higher than the other places, which just do it on cost of keg.)

Now, a similar concept has been introduced in the Netherlands to consider products with greater than 15% THC in a different regulatory class. Forget the actual value here (15) and think about the larger policy...

... does it make sense to institute stricter controls for higher potency product?
(This is analogous to regulating Bacardi 151 differently than Bud Light.)

... would it impact behavior? And what behavior?

One thing to consider is that one of the few legitimate public health concerns for creating a national retail cannabis market is increased youth exposure and potential health effects to those exposed at an early age.
(I've linked to a FREE copy of the most recent compelling evidence on this.)

Another interesting thing to consider is the fact that interest in cannabis among young adolescents may be dopping off. (i.e. 8th graders surveyed through NIDA's annual show decreasing interest)


Apologies for the quality of the graph - but see left. Originally found in:
Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: results from annual, repeated cross-sectional surveys.” The Lancet Psychiatry. June 2015.

The paper in the Netherlands policy may be found here. What do you think?

~~ The CannaBiologist

{{ I have set up a Google Drive folder to provide FREE copies of literature for forum members ONLY. Please be responsible with this literature as some of it may not necessarily be publically available. I provide this service for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES only. Thank you for being responsible. }}


Old Member
This is very interesting to say the least. I suppose some could argue that the more potent a substance is, the more likely it is to harm you. With alcohol this is absolutely true. You can get alcohol poisoning and ultimately die by not regulating how much you are drinking. In the case for cannabis, there is no death attributed to cannabis. So comparing alcohol to cannabis is apples versus oranges. Not that you were trying to make that point, but rather anyone using these two very different things to reason classes is absurd.

I think it's completely a waste of time for them to consider classes of cannabis based on potency. There is no greater risk than smoking more of a lower potency. This just seems like another want to slow or stop full legalization. We have barely made progress in legalizing, researching, or created a discussion around the pro's and con's of cannabis.

The linked study (from the Lancet) is interesting but I think it doesn't account for something. As parents, we have been teaching our children that drugs are bad. The D.A.R.E. program brainwashed our children, and then we get medical marijuana. It says that in states where legalized forms of marijuana are passed, teens are at a higher consumption rates than non-legalized states. I would attribute some, if not all, of these findings to parents realizing that marijuana isn't a "gateway drug" and it is not bad. These parents may have had a different conversation about the harmful effects or lack of with their children.

I say the previous based on my personal experience. I discuss the topic of marijuana often with my kids. I am raising them to be pro-legalization with facts and findings. I think there are many parents that are doing the same and if they aren't, I would be willing to at least say they stopped saying it was harmful. That alone could bring down the barrier and lift the experimenting age a bit. The one constant I discuss with my teenagers are that research shows possible harmful effects in teens final brain development stages.

I do like that the study opens on page 3 noting that the 15% barrier is arbitrary which completely undermines everything stated afterwards.


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