Recently, Pediatrician and State Representative Yadira Caraveo, of Colorado House District 31, has held stakeholder meetings in regards to a bill that would add common sense safety protections to certain products sold by the cannabis industry. We support and applaud her work to help put basic protections in place for communities, particularly our youth, that have been impacted by cannabis.
Cannabis has adversely affected health care throughout our community. A recent peer-reviewed research article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) noted that cannabis use disorder is a common comorbidity and risk marker for self-harm, all-cause mortality, and death by unintentional overdose and homicide among youths with mood disorders. Locally we have seen substantial increases in medical problems from cannabis use presenting to our emergency rooms and medical clinics. These have included many different presentations but of most concern are psychotic episodes, suicide attempts, severe and frequent vomiting episodes from cannabis use, increases in other substance abuse, and adverse cardiopulmonary outcomes, in addition to others. Research has shown that these symptoms are generally worsened with higher potency of products used, higher frequency of use, and initiation of use at a younger age.
Dr. and Representative Caraveo has proposed capping cannabis potency at 15% THC, which follows a model from the Netherlands. There are not any studies that show any medical benefit from any cannabis product over 10% THC. Cannabis in the 1980s had an average potency of 2%. Cannabis flower today averages near 20% potency. Concentrates that can be used as oils, waxes, shatter, and dabs can approach 99% THC. Research studies consistently cite increasing cannabis potency as a major risk factor for adverse effects from cannabis use.
Representative Caraveo has recommended creating a marijuana monitoring program to prevent abuse and misuse. This is an effort to prevent ‘looping’ in which an 18 year-old can obtain a medical marijuana card and will go from store to store, buying marijuana to sell at school or other locations to minors. If we can better track where the marijuana is coming from, we can better prevent diversion. Rep. Caraveo has also asked that physicians who write marijuana recommendations do so alongside a specific dosage, condition, and timeframe of use for the patient, such as is done with any other prescribed medication.
Other components being considered with her bill are to increase data collection, ban automated vending machines for cannabis, and prohibit use of carcinogens in creation of cannabis products.
These are basic common sense protections for our community and we applaud and support her for putting the health and safety of our community and patients first.