A commentary submitted by Dr. Catherine Antley, a Burlington physician and member of the Vermont Medical Society, explains healthcare providers' concern about recent proposed legislative amendments to remove the 60% THC cap in solid concentrates from Vermont's 2020 retail marijuana law.
The intent of Act 164, the retail marijuana law, as passed is that the commercial sale of cannabis is “for the purpose of public health and safety.” The premise was that a legal and regulated market can offer greater protection than an illegal, unregulated market. One of the public health protections included in Act 164 were caps on THC.
60% THC cap in solid concentrates
30% THC cap in smokable cannabis flowers
THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces the high sensation. In Colorado five years after legalization when emergency room doctors testified in 2021 that they were seeing increasing cases of psychosis connected to marijuana concentrates, a bill that curbed access to high-potency products passed the Legislature unanimously. Testimony from physicians, families, and legislators from Colorado, Oregon, and California and other states with legalized recreational marijuana use helped inform the Vermont Legislature's decision to cap high-concentrate THC in solids. (The research reports on THC Concentrates from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment are available under Lessons from Colorado.)
In Vermont (and nationally whenever limits are suggested), the marijuana growers and potential retailers are calling for removal of the limits because high-THC concentrates are profitable, best-selling items. But this flies in the face of Act 148's rationale “for the purpose of public health and safety.”
Vermont physicians, nurses and mental health providers, already overwhelmed by a pandemic and a Vermont mental health crisis, will be left taking care of the increase in psychosis, schizophrenia, suicidality, unrelenting vomiting with resulting kidney failure, dehydration, seizures, and dependence (addiction).