Despite being relatively young, the state-legal cannabis industry in the United States has made plenty of strides in just a couple of years. The industry is incredibly lucrative, earning millions in tax revenue at a time when state coffers are running dry, and creating thousands of employment opportunities. These days, the cannabis market has become flooded with high-potency products, with cannabis retailers in the U.S. selling $797 million worth of concentrates in 2020. According to some lawmakers in Colorado, this trend is worrying, especially for the nation’s children.
Back in 2014, Colorado made only 14% of the medical and recreational cannabis in the state, with cannabis flower making up most of the sales. By 2019, however, cannabis flower made up less than 50% of the market while concentrates made up one-third. With high THC concentrates becoming more popular and even more accessible, some lawmakers and political groups are worried about teenagers who have no idea about the long-term impact of frequently indulging in concentrates.
Consequently, lawmakers are currently working on legislation to regulate the state’s cannabis industry more tightly. The legislation, which would be the largest cannabis bill since Colorado allowed recreational cannabis back in 2012, contains several proposals that would put the state’s cannabis industry under a tighter leash. That legislation includes a requirement that people only obtain medical marijuana cards in person to ensure doctors and patients have a relationship, better data collection so the state enforces purchasing limits more strictly and a possible cap on THC potency.
Although supporters say the proposal is meant to protect the state’s children, stakeholders and cannabis advocates say it would regress the industry to a level of “soft prohibition” and increase racial inequality within the cannabis industry. The proposal’s public face, Rep. Yadira Caraveo, is a Democrat who was a pediatrician before entering public service. Over the last few years, she has seen an increased number of teenagers who use cannabis concentrates frequently, she says.
Wanda James, owner of Denver-based Simply Pure Dispensaries, sees it differently. Teenagers using cannabis concentrates more frequently isn’t a business issue but a parenting issue, James says. She is one of the state’s few dozen Black cannabis business operators compared to the nearly 2,000 white operators in the state. You can buy a truckload of high alcohol content spirits such as Everclear at a liquor store, she says, but state lawmakers don’t seem to want to install purchasing limits or limit its 95% alcohol content.
Caraveo’s bill would place a cap on concentrates (no percentage has been set yet), create a database of individuals who buy more than Colorado’s daily purchasing limits, and ban medical marijuana patients from applying for or renewing their medical cannabis cards online. The legislation is still in negotiations.
Across the border in Canada, many firms are thriving under the favorable cannabis laws implemented by Health Canada. For example, Pure Extracts Technologies Corp. (CSE: PULL) (OTC: PRXTF) has distinguished itself as the undisputed leader of the marijuana extracts segment in the country.
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