Bill would reduce the potency of marijuana in Massachusetts – archyde

MASSACHUSETTS – Two bills pending in the Massachusetts legislature could drive much of the state’s recreational cannabis market out of the state or onto the black market by raising the legal age for purchase from 21 to 25 and strictly limiting the potency of marijuana products sold legally in the state.

State Representative James O’Day, D-Worcester, tabled a bill to raise the age of recreational use from 21 to 25, while a bill introduced by State Representative Bradford Hill, R-Ipswich would limit portion sizes, tastes and quantities THC – the psychoactive compound that makes marijuana users high. Hill’s bill would also ban the sale of several popular products, including sweetener-added edibles and cannabis-infused seltzer and beverages.

At Theory Wellness, a Massachusetts cannabis dispensary, co-founder and chairman of the board Brandon Pollock said bills like the one before state lawmakers could undermine the intent behind the vote approved by Massachusetts voters in 2016.

“Age restrictions and potency limits would only further fuel the illegal market and undermine the goals of legalizing and regulating cannabis,” said Pollock.

Hill’s bill, supported by two co-sponsors, comes from a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that shows THC levels in marijuana flowers have increased steadily, from an average of 4 percent in the early 1990s to an average of more than 15 percent in 2018. If passed, the law would limit THC levels in marijuana flowers to 10 percent and set similar THC limits for edibles, concentrates, and tinctures containing THC.

These caps are significantly lower than the THC levels of most strains of marijuana currently sold in Massachusetts, which as a percentage range from mid-teens to high-20s.

O’Day’s bill would raise the legal age for buying cannabis from 21 to 25, “which isn’t fully developed until you’re in your mid-twenties.

Other bills discussed at the hearing, including a proposal to tighten packaging labeling requirements for marijuana products and the creation of an “open marijuana container” law for drivers, similar to current state regulations on open alcohol containers in cars.

Pollock would prefer lawmakers to focus on other areas of the cannabis industry, such as lobbying for federal tax laws penalizing legal marijuana dispensaries, or accelerating the pace of setting up the Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund, under the Law Legalizing Leisure Time -Marijuana was called for sale in Massachusetts.

“Ongoing, thoughtful discussions and changes in cannabis policy are critical to helping the industry develop,” said Pollock. “With that in mind, there are much more pressing opportunities for lawmakers to improve Commonwealth cannabis policy.”

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