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Sensi Magazine

The Danger of Changing THC Limits

Jun 08, 2016 01:01PM ● By Leland Rucker

The THC levels in cannabis sold in Colorado stores vary by a wide margin. Most of the leaf cannabis I purchase these days is in the range of 15 percent to 30 percent THC. Concentrates and extracts, which many people use to avoid smoking leaf marijuana, have much higher THC levels.

Two proposals this year have in mind to limit the amount of THC in cannabis sold in the states. One in the state legislature, an addition to a bill reauthorizing the state’s cannabis rules that would have barred stores from selling any marijuana products with a THC level of more than 15 percent, died in the House Finance Committee on a 6–5 vote. Lawmakers say it will be back next year.

And a ballot initiative proposed in March by Smart Colorado and other anti-cannabis groups would limit the THC level in legal marijuana to 16 percent and require that everything be sold in child-resistant, opaque packages and edibles sold only in single servings is in the approval process.

BDS Analytics, a Boulder company that draws on a huge Colorado product sales database, has released an analysis that concludes that if the ballot initiative were to pass, it would ban products that generate more than 80 percent of current cannabis revenue. In effect, it could end recreational sales in the state.

CEO Roy Bingham said in a release that when the company’s analysts saw the measure’s proposed language, they knew it would have a dramatic effect on the market and decided to look into it. “Unfortunately, our instincts were correct. Should the initiative become a part of the Colorado Constitution, it would hobble Colorado’s fastest-growing industry.”

The analysis, which draws on BDS’s database of more than 10,000 products, found that sales in recreational stores in the first quarter of 2016 were $170.3 million. Analysts looked at flower ($110.9 million, 65.2 percent of sales) concentrates and extracts ($32.6 million, 19.2 percent of sales), edibles ($19.6 million, 11.5 percent of sales) and other products like topicals and accessories ($7.1 million, 4.1 percent of sales).

Their findings included that only 3 percent of current flower cannabis would be acceptable under the new rules, and no concentrates or extracts would qualify. About 95 percent of current edibles products would have to be repackaged. In addition, they found that some of the ballot language is unclear and could mean that any Adult Use products would be banned.

BDS also noted that the changes could affect those who work in the industry, which as of December 2015, was 26,929 employees at cannabis companies, according to a Marijuana Business Daily review of Colorado Department of Revenue data, a number that doesn’t include any ancillary businesses.

More than 55 percent of Coloradans voted for cannabis legalization. That number has not depreciated since legalization began, and at least 750,000, probably more, people use cannabis. Though petition backers will argue this is a precautionary measure, it’s just another attempt to stop the legalization process, kill the revenue it generates and take us back to black market days.