Are Potency Caps for Marijuana on the Way?

Are Potency Caps for Marijuana on the Way?

Marijuana activists have long said that their drug of choice is not dangerous. They say people do not get addicted and no one has died from a marijuana overdose. However, there are concerns that things might be changing. Some experts fear that a gradual increase in potency could lead to addiction and overdose.

At least one expert is concerned enough to press for potency caps. NRT Behavioral Health CEO Ben Cort has been making the rounds, talking to anyone who will listen to his plea for caps. He was recently in Billings, MT where he told lawmakers that there is currently “no limit on how strong the [marijuana] products can be.” He went on to tell them that he hopes they consider potency caps.

Not Your Grandfather’s Weed

I have been researching and writing on medical cannabis for years. Cort is not the first person to have made this argument. But he is one of the few proponents of marijuana potency caps who has taken the time to do his homework. He has the data to show that marijuana potency has steadily increased. He also has data pointing to potential harm.

For example, Cort echoes the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) concern that higher potency could be responsible for a noticeable surge in emergency room visits relating to cannabis consumption. The NIH explains that consuming too much THC in a single incident could lead to a severe response that includes paranoia, hallucinations, and even severe psychotic reactions.

Suffice it to say that today’s high potency marijuana is not your grandfather’s weed. Why would anyone expect it to be? Before legalization, all weed was black market product grown in garages and remote fields in the middle of nowhere. Growers were not experimenting with crossbreeding to create higher potency plants. But that is exactly what they are doing now.

State legalization has led to a veritable arms race among growers and breeders looking to pack as much THC as possible into their plants. And as Cort points out, there are no limits to what they can do.

We Limit Alcohol for a Reason

As I see it, the THC content in a marijuana plant is no different than the alcohol content in a bottle of liquor. We limit alcohol content for a reason. Too much alcohol in a single sitting can be deadly. And before you start thinking that no one has ever died from using marijuana, we don’t know what potency equals a lethal dose. If we do not start putting caps on potency, we could find out sooner rather than later.

I write a lot about the medical cannabis industry in Utah. I write about companies like Beehive Farmacy, retail operators that dispense medical cannabis products to patients with state-issued cards. I would hate for any of those patients to mistakenly buy a high potency product that ultimately injures or kills even one of them.

I understand the desire to legalize marijuana without restrictions. But I also know that human beings have a bad habit of pushing the envelope. Worse yet, we continue pushing until someone is hurt or killed.

Potency Caps Just Make Sense

Based on what we know about gradually increasing potency, it just makes sense to institute caps. The longer we continue to ignore the potency question, the greater the chances of something really bad happening. I am with Ben Cort. If we are going to push for national legalization, then we need to have controls in place to make up for growers and producers who don’t have the self-discipline to handle it themselves.