Attempt To Limit Strength of THC in CO | Marijuana

Attempt To Limit Strength of THC in CO


Like door-to-door preachers warning us of the threat of hell, fire, and damnation, the prohibitionists seem never to give up their fight against personal freedom. Someone, somewhere must be enjoying themselves, and the evangelizers can’t rest while some of us are enjoying marijuana.

With the legalization victories in four states and the District of Columbia starting in 2012, those of us who favor legalization have been on a political roll. And there is good reason to be optimistic about the likelihood of adding a number of additional states to the list in November.

But that success needs to be seen in perspective. While we have been winning most of these voter initiatives, the outcomes have been relatively close. We won with 55% support in Colorado, 56% in Washington, 56% in Oregon, and 53% in Alaska. Only in the District of Columbia was the legalization vote overwhelming (70%).

So we are clearly winning, but our opponents continue to enjoy the support of a large segment (although no longer a majority) of the voters. And they are not giving up the fight.

Quite the contrary. So it’s important we legalizers continue our reform efforts as well, full speed ahead.

Amendment 139 in CO

The latest example of this is Amendment 139 in CO, where opponents to legalization have begun circulating petitions to qualify a voter initiative for the ballot that would significantly limit the choice and quality of marijuana products available in that state. The proposal is being sponsored by a group calling itself the Healthy Colorado Coalition, recently established by a handful of anti-marijuana zealots specifically to run this initiative.

They first tried to convince the state legislature to impose potency limits, an effort that failed, and likely would have been enjoined by the courts because language in the initial 2012 marijuana legalization initiative (A-64) expressly permits all forms of marijuana.

So now they are attempting to amend the state constitution.

Potency Limits and “Reefer Madness” Propaganda Required

Amendment 139 would limit the potency of cannabis products to 16 percent THC. According to a state study, currently, the average potency of Colorado pot products is 17.1 percent for marijuana and 62.1 percent for marijuana extracts.

The amendment would further require absurd, unscientific warnings on pot packaging claiming those who use marijuana risk “permanent loss of brain abilities” and “birth defects and reduced brain development.” Talk about “reefer madness!”

If passed by voters, the proposed amendment, according to one industry spokesperson, would eliminate as much as 80% of the products currently on the shelves in the state.

Industry Mounts Opposition Effort

Fortunately, a new coalition calling itself the Colorado Health Research Council (CHRC) has surfaced to fight A-139, funded by the legal marijuana industry in CO. According to reports in The Cannabist, CHRC has raised more than $300,000 for its campaign against Amendment 139. They are poised to protect their new industry, and this is one of those times when consumers and the industry can and should work cooperatively. The proposal would be harmful to both constituencies, limiting the choice of legal marijuana products available to consumers, and severely constricting the current robust legal industry in Colorado.

As I have acknowledged in earlier columns, I am personally an old-fashioned marijuana smoker who enjoys rolling and smoking joints. I smoke high-quality marijuana, so I certainly enjoy a good high. That’s the point, after all. But I prefer the high from smoking flowers to the high from edibles or concentrates.

But that just reflects my personal taste; it is not based on any perceived danger from the more potent concentrates. I’ve seen absolutely no science indicating those using the more potent forms of marijuana are at greater risk.

The best news about imbibing too heavily in marijuana (for those who may occasionally do that) is that one cannot overdose. That is, unlike alcohol, no amount of marijuana or active marijuana ingredients will cause death, or even lead to serious harm. It is certainly possible to have an unpleasant experience — a “bad trip” — especially if one is an inexperienced user and doing edibles, but there is no permanent harm to the individual.

No Valid Public Health Reason To Limit THC

So there is no valid public health basis to arbitrarily limit the maximum level of THC permitted in marijuana products in legal states. The proponents are selling a solution to a problem that does not exist.

Alcohol drinkers very quickly learn the difference between drinking hard liquor versus drinking wine or beer, and they learn to exercise more moderation with the stronger forms of alcohol.

The same is true with marijuana smokers and those who use marijuana concentrates. The key is taking personal responsibility for your conduct, regardless of whether we are talking about marijuana or alcohol.

It’s Important That We Defeat A-139

So let’s help the public understand that responsible use is the key to healthy marijuana use, not unnecessary and arbitrary limits on strength, quantity or availability.

And let’s make a special effort to demonstrate by our personal conduct what we mean by “responsible use.” Let’s not provide our opponents with any fodder to feed these misguided efforts to limit the quality or quantity of marijuana products available legally to adults.

About Author

Keith Stroup is a Washington, DC public-interest attorney who founded NORML in 1970. Stroup first smoked marijuana when he was a first-year law student in 1965 and has been a regular smoker and a cannabis activist ever since. In 1992 Stroup was the recipient of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform presented by the Drug Policy Foundation; in 2010 he received the Al Horn Award from the NORML Legal Committee for a lifetime of work advancing the cause of justice; and in 2012, Stroup received the High Times Lifetime Achievement Award. Keith currently serves as NORML's Legal Counsel and on NORML's Board of Directors. He resides in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife.


  1. I’m a Christian and I also use Bud. It is my primary medicine, I am also a Veteran. With out my correct amount of THC,I have to take 14 medications.They, to some extent, ALL of the meds have Terrible side effects. The worst of all is Addition to the pain meds.I don’t want ANYONE to mess with my BUD!!! I know that there are a lot of people in the same place where I am. I say if they mess with my Bud there WILL be HELL?to pay,after all they trained US ALL on how to give HELL?!!!

  2. HeinekenPete on

    …be careful, if you start making restrictions on the strenght of the weed sold, you’ll only encourage a shift back to the black market. With stronger weed, perhaps people won’t use as much throughout the day.

    • I think that maybe that is what these pinheads have in mind = when the black market fills the void of marijuana with over 20% THC levels, the anti-pot talking heads can point to the rise in illegal, black market marijuana sales and claim that LEGAL marijuana is the cause of it all! STAY STRONG COLORADANS!

  3. Goddamned Colorado pinhead bully power whores … note: the VOTERS of Colorado LEGALIZED RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA and YOU LOST! Now take your toys and go back to the holes from which you oozed … you DO NOT get to tell me HOW STRONG my marijuana is going to be …

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of antilegalization money is coming from Sheldon Adelson…. Like always follow the money

  5. Thank god the prohibitonists have given up, nobody liked their stupid amendment enough to give them the money to advertise it.

  6. If the idiots that are trying to limit potency get their way the black market will continue to thrive along with all the crime that goes with it. The stupidity of these people is mind-boggling; unless they are black marketeers and are trying to stay in business in which case it makes perfect sense.

  7. The neat thing about groups like “Healthy Colorado Coalition” is not the lies they tell in their organization names (yah, Hitler claimed to be socialist) but that these followers of the anti-Christ who rail against God stand right up as the people behind these organizations so they are identified and they can then be investigated by Homeland Security and affiliated agencies for their connections to organized crime and the corrupt ruling class terrorists who “sponsor” them to work against the welfare of all of humanity in order to benefit the pharmaceutical companies.

  8. Saw this coming a long time ago. Seeds of this movement are rooted in big-tobacco. When they start growing commercially, the crap they produce won’t be higher than 11-14%. So they criminalize anything grown over this limit and effectively wipe out their competition.

  9. if you start making restrictions on the strenght of the weed, then why not make restrictions on Alcohol some thing that Kills

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