Updated on June 28, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
This is your marijuana news round-up for June 26, 2021.
Colorado Cracks Down on Concentrate Potency and Serving Sizes
There is a growing concern in states that have not established maximum potency limits. Colorado has created House Bill 1317 to “fill in the gaps” about potency. Lawmakers, health advocates, and parents have expressed concern about the potential for harm when teens use concentrated cannabis.
What is a little confusing about the legislation is that teens shouldn’t be using concentrates at all? Even though Colorado is a state that permits adult-use (recreational) sales of cannabis, you have to be twenty-one (21) years of age or older to buy it. Or be a registered patient in the statewide medical cannabis program, with a caregiver (guardian) to supervise and assist. Caregivers are designated for children with chronic or rare diseases who can use cannabis therapeutically under doctor supervision.
Why Are Colorado Lawmakers Worried?
It appears that the House of Representatives in Colorado fears that parents who have concentrate in the home may be exposing their children to risk. Bill 1317 moves to the Colorado Senate for vote, but if it is passed, the new legislation will:
Lower the purchase limit for concentrates (both medical and recreational cannabis users) to a maximum of eight grams per day. Currently, Colorado allows adults to purchase 40-grams per day of marijuana concentrate.
Lower the purchase limit for registered patients aged 18-20 to a maximum of two grams per day.
Tighten third-party testing and tracking (seed to sale) of all cannabis products including concentrates, to ensure maximum potency restrictions are followed.
Require that each gram of concentrate be packaged (portioned) separately into single (1) gram units.
Make medical cardholders who are 18-20 get approved by two different doctors, who must agree on the diagnosis and treatment potential of medical marijuana for the patient. Follow-up appointments would also be required for patients under the age of twenty-one (21).
A recent survey by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPE) found that illicit use of high potency cannabis in teens had risen from 4.3% in 2015 to 20% in 2019. Exposure to high-potency cannabis regularly can impair cognitive development before the age of twenty-one.
Why Are Delta-8 Producers Being Targeted in MMJ States?
If you could get all of the mood-boosting and anxiety-busting effects of cannabis without becoming impaired, would that be better than traditional medical marijuana? Since The Farm Act of 2018, where hemp and hemp-derived products were legalized, there has been an explosion in demand for Delta-8 THC.
The unrestricted and unregulated growth of Delta-8 products in the United States has alarmed law enforcement and health agencies. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stated recently that all drugs manufactured and processed fall under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. That means Delta-8 should, according to the DEA, be regulated like cannabis. Not like low THC cannabidiol (CBD) products.
Some states have already banned the sale of Delta-8, while others are drafting new legislation to implement controls similar to medical or adult-use marijuana. Synthetic THC according to regulators is still THC and shouldn’t be miscategorized as a hemp-derived product with no psychoactive properties. The DEA also asserts that any supplement that has CBD in it is also illegal.
Louisiana Patients Applaud Move to Legalize Smokable Bud
You haven’t been legally permitted to smoke bud in “The Big Easy.” Other products like tinctures or oral capsules have been allowed. But inhalable types of marijuana were not available to patients with a medical card. But that is about to change.
In January 2022, cultivators and dispensaries in Louisiana will start selling whole flower cannabis. That will make the state on par with nearby states like Oklahoma. Both cannabidiol (CBD) and THC edibles remain banned for patients in Louisiana. But the end to the ban on smokable varieties means several potential benefits for medical cardholders in LA.
Will recreational weed be around the corner for people living in Louisiana? Maybe. But current Governor John Bel Edwards has said he will not be the one to pass that legislation.
Amazon Announces It Will No Longer Test Employees for Cannabis Use
Next in the marijuana news round-up? If you are a patient with a medical card and use cannabis during off-hours to manage your symptoms, you are taking an unexpected risk. You have to live in perpetual fear of a randomized drug test by your employer, despite complying with all state regulations about medical cannabis use. The only state to date that has enacted laws to protect workers from cannabis testing is New York.
The double jeopardy for people living with no employment protections regarding cannabis in a state where recreational use is legalized? That makes even less sense. Some states are already drafting new legislation to protect patient rights in the workplace for the after-hours use of cannabis.
Amazon just announced that it would no longer randomly drug test employees for cannabis use. But only for employment positions that are not regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT). So, if you work in the warehouse and don’t drive a commercial vehicle or operate equipment, you will be exempt from metabolite testing for THC.
Jeff Bezos and Amazon have stated that they support the federal Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The MORE Act would decriminalize cannabis, provide national expungement of cannabis charges and sentences, and allow for federal taxing of cannabis sales. It failed to pass in the 2019/2020 session and has been reintroduced to the U.S. Senate in 2021.