“I don't think anyone conceptualized what would happen when ... industry and science and business and the motivation of profit come into the state of Washington,” said Washington state Rep. Lauren Davis, a Democrat, who has twice introduced legislation to cap THC potency in concentrates, products such as oils, wax and shatter. “All of a sudden, a few years later, your shelves are stocked with these oils that are 99 percent THC.”
The cannabis industry — with $20 billion in legal sales last year — is pushing back hard against proposals like Davis’. And so far, they’ve successfully squelched legislative efforts in statehouses across the country, including Florida, Washington and elsewhere. Only Vermont has THC potency caps in place, with flower products limited to 30 percent and concentrates capped at 60 percent.
“We welcome the conversation about public safety, and want to be an active part of it. But a potency limit is a nonstarter,” said Truman Bradley, executive director of Colorado’s Marijuana Industry Group, arguing that regulatory restrictions are a better way to ensure product safety. “It’s not effective as a public health tool.”
But the issue isn’t going away. Proposals to limit the potency of THC have been introduced by both Democrats and Republicans, and are likely to proliferate as the legal pot market expands and matures. Lawmakers in Congress have also expressed concern about the increasing potency of weed. In March, the co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control — Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) — argued that federal agencies should consider recommending THC caps.