The cannabis industry's next war: How strong should its weed be?
Some of the 18 states that have embraced legal weed are debating whether to cap THC potency. So far, most of those efforts have failed.
The THC percentages of recreational marijuana are visible on the product's packaging. | Julie Jacobson/AP Photo
By and NATALIE FERTIG
04/29/2021 03:00 PM EDT
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The nation’s booming weed industry has a potency problem.
As more and more states legalize marijuana, companies are facing new pressure from lawmakers across the country — and Capitol Hill — to limit the strength of their products. It’s a level of scrutiny that comes with being allowed to operate in the open after decades in the shadows.
The steadily rising levels of THC — the component of marijuana that gets users high — is causing widespread concerns about the public health consequences. Even in pioneering states like Colorado and Washington, where recreational marijuana sales started in 2014, lawmakers are debating whether to put caps on THC potency.
“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 legislationto 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.”