Will potency caps be a problem for cannabiz?

By Alex Halperin
Oct 25, 2021
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People magazine recently profiled Colorado mom Laura Stack whose 19-year old son Johnny died by suicide in November 2019, after five years of using concentrates.

Following his death, Stack formed a group called Johnny’s Ambassadors to fight youth cannabis abuse. It then partnered with Blue Rising Together, a Colorado group opposed to high THC products and gun violence.

The People article carries more than a whiff of Reefer Madness-style alarmism. But Johnny’s tragedy is very real. If there are more, activists like Stack could gain traction in states that aren’t as 420-friendly as Colorado.

  • People: “We learned that he’d been sober for weeks,” recalls Laura, whose son — who had a 4.0 GPA in high school and racked up a perfect score on his SAT test in mathematics — had been diagnosed with cannabis-induced schizoaffective disorder and put on an anti-psychotic medication. “But he’d stopped taking his anti-psychotic medications that doctors had prescribed him and his psychosis came roaring back.”

The industry opposes potency caps:

  • “Our opposition knows we’re winning” said Steven Hawkins, CEO of trade group U.S. Cannabis Council. Rather than stop legalization they want to “neuter [its] effect.”
  • Hawkins described the Colorado law as part of a “Coordinated attack around the country with several states dropping legislation.”
  • “We have to take responsibility very seriously in our industry,” Hawkins said. “That means we have to be thinking about responsible consumption. We have to be vigilant on ensuring that underaged use is curbed. And we have to be working at the vanguard around impaired driving.”
  • The USCC has partnered with anti-drunk-driving group    

Related: In contrast to studies which have shown legalization doesn’t increase teen use, a new analysis found teen cannabis vaping is way up since 2013 in the U.S. and Canada.
JAMA, Cannabis Wire

Bottom line: Potency caps could emerge as a significant vulnerability for the industry.  

Read the whole People story.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.