DENVER—June 30, 2016 — The Colorado Health Research Council (CHRC) announced today that it has formed to oppose Amendment 139, a constitutional amendment that would order the legislature to set a limit of no more than 16% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of any cannabis product sold at a state-licensed retail store, while also putting packaging and labeling requirements that already exist directly into the constitution. While likely well-intended, proponents of the hastily drafted measure are suggesting that we amend our constitution in a way that would have devastating unintended consequences to the citizens and economy of Colorado.
Many Coloradans, including veterans suffering from PTSD, rely on cannabis as an effective and safe medicine. This bill would directly impact those using medical cannabis, including Jack Splitt. Jack is a Colorado student and the namesake for “Jack’s Law”, a bill recently passed by the Colorado Legislature that allows students to get the medicine they need in Colorado schools. Jack suffers from severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which causes all of Jack’s muscles to contract uncontrollably in painful full body muscle contractions.
“My son needs cannabis with high THC concentrations just to survive,” said Jack’s mother, Stacey Linn. “This law would make the concentration of THC my doctor recommended to keep my child alive illegal to purchase in a store”.
In a study of the potential impacts of I-139, BDS Analytics found if the measure passes over 80% of all cannabis products currently sold in taxed and regulated marijuana stores would become illegal. This would devastate the cannabis industry in Colorado, putting most cannabis companies at risk of closing their doors overnight and drive cannabis sales back to the criminal market.
“We didn’t choose medical marijuana; we used ineffectual prescribed medication after medication before turning to marijuana out of desperation,” said Ms. Linn. “And it works. We need the industry to provide this medicine, in a safe way with stringent testing and sensible regulations. Lower concentrations of THC means adding more of other things to dilute the oil. It would be horrible to force my son to consume four times as much oil as he does now just to obtain the same effect. And we couldn’t afford it anyway.”
The measure would also place new labeling requirements on the cannabis industry, forcing them to place dire warnings with no scientific basis on their products, including a completely unproven claim that cannabis causes the “permanent loss of brain abilities”.
“There is a lack of scientific evidence that cannabis products containing more than 16% THC are harmful for the brain and body”, said Michele Ross, PhD – a neuroscientist and endocannabinoid expert who specializes in addiction and was previously funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“High THC potency is not unsafe for children,” said Dr. Ross. “In fact, products containing more than 16% THC may be necessary for many children with chronic conditions. THC potency should be something left to the discretion of medical professionals and their patients.”
“It is not possible to die from consuming THC at any potency,” Dr. Ross continued. “Limiting THC potency does not make THC any safer, it only means consumers have to buy more product to achieve the same dosage they are accustomed to. If the aim of this initiative is to reduce consumption of THC products, it may actually have the opposite effect.”
“The aim clearly seems to be directed at the health and viability of the cannabis industry,” Dr. Ross concluded.
This amendment would end the commercial production of cannabis extracts and concentrates in a safe, controlled laboratory environment. Instead, production of these products would move into our neighborhoods and into the hands of the unregulated criminal market.
“Houses and garages are going to blow up if this passes,” said Dr. Ross.
“Colorado voted for legal cannabis. As a patient it is an integral part of our lives, and now you’re asking us to take our children’s medicine away,” concluded Ms. Linn. “We shouldn’t ever play doctor at the ballot box, and we should never propose policy that will lead to innocent people suffering.”
“Why would anyone want the right to do that?”
The Colorado Health Research Council is a coalition of cannabis patients, caregivers, scientists, cannabis industry leaders, the business community, and ordinary citizens who are organizing to defeat Amendment 139, a poorly drafted constitutional amendment that would have a devastating impact on Colorado’s cannabis patients, public safety, and economy.