Colorado's Cannabis Industry Fights Back Against Potency Limits

A recent proposal to limit the potency of recreational cannabis in Colorado has faced a backlash from the cannabis industry.

A leaked piece of draft legislation hinted at Colorado's desire to limit the potency of cannabis, drawing the ire of the cannabis industry and its consumers.

Colorado was the first mover as it pertains to recreational cannabis legalization in the U.S., having legalized the plant in 2014 for adult-use consumption. Now, 14 other states have legalized recreational cannabis and 36 states have legalized medical cannabis.

To date, Colorado has had no limits on the THC potency of cannabis products.

The draft legislation aimed to place a potency limit on THC at 15%, which would cut the available THC potency roughly in half when compared with higher-THC strain available in the state.

Jason Warf, director of the Southern Colorado Cannabis Council expressed his concerns about the proposed measures, saying that "the potency measure would affect both [medical and recreational marijuana] industries. In my mind, I would see it being nearly impossible to provide anything other than flower under these rules, and even with flower nowadays, that would be extremely difficult," he concluded.

However, the backlash from the cannabis industry was certainly heard by Caraveo, who stated that "given the pushback that we've had overall on the bill, we really want to streamline it and focus it on the things that we think absolutely need to happen this year."

"The potency is going to change, but we have not reached a number," said Caraveo, before adding that she's "still talking to leadership and other groups about it. It's not going to be 15%."

The legislation also stipulated that budtenders wouldn't be able to earn a commission, which she has since removed from the bill – at least, for the time being.

"I think those are fights to take on at another time," Caraveo noted.

The potency limits were motivated by a desire to protect adolescents from accessing high-THC products, said Caraveo of the drafted proposal.

"We haven't reevaluated what the industry has done, in terms of effects on youth and effects overall, since we legalized."

The Democrat Governor of Colorado Jared Polis has suggested that critics wait for the final version of the legislation, though he has suggested that the best means of protecting children from dangerous cannabis products is through an increased focus upon the illicit market.

"We haven't seen the bill yet," Polis said, before adding that he "share[s] the goal of protecting children. I think the best way to do that would be to increase penalties on anybody who sells legal or illegal marijuana to children."

Colorado's legislative session re-commences on February 16th and the bill will continue to be drafted following that date.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.