While Colorado’s experimental blueprint for marijuana legalization in the United States has proven wildly successful – generating more tax revenue from weed in 2015 than from alcohol — there has been no shortage in the resistance of opposing forces who are on a desperate mission to incrementally cripple the industry to the point of non-existence.
The latest event that stands to sever the legs of the Colorado cannabis market is a ballot measure (Amendment 139) recently given the green light by the Colorado Supreme Court aimed at imposing an extensive list of restrictions on recreational marijuana – complete with a potency cap on all pot products and a cornucopia of FDA-esque labeling rules for which there is no medical basis.
According to the language of the proposal, cannabis producers would no longer be permitted to manufacture products – flower or otherwise – that exceeds 16 percent THC. It would also force the cannabis industry to brand their products with a pesky warning label that suggests marijuana causes a variety of health issues, including “permanent loss of brain abilities,” “depression, anxiety, and temporary paranoia,” and the “potential for long-term addiction.”
If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because the same culprits behind the latest wrecking ball against the foundation of legal weed attempted to pull these underhanded shenanigans earlier this year. However, while legislative forces did not exactly disagree with the argument that “the weed being sold across the state of Colorado is too strong for the common consumer,” the proposal was ultimately shot down because THC-capping is unconstitutional. To put this into perspective, passing a bill that restricts the THC limit on cannabis products would have been comparative to lawmakers demanding local brew houses to no longer produce beer above a certain ABV.
But, unfortunately, Amendment 139 is dangerous because it stands to change the Colorado constitution, allowing these types of ultra-restrictive controls to be imposed on the cannabis industry. A report from the Associated Press indicates the measure would officially outlaw about 80 percent of the cannabis products being sold right now in retail outs all over the state – a devastating blow to the entire scope of the state’s cannabis trade.
This is not the first obstacle the Colorado cannabis industry has been faced with and it certainly will not be the last. Just last week, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law that prohibits the sale of THC-infused edibles shaped like animals, fruit or any other figures that may be attractive to children. Lawmakers demanded that these types of products be ripped from the shelves in an effort to prevent kids from being dragged into the emergency room for accidental ingestion. However, as it was recently pointed out by HIGH TIMES’ own edibles expert Elise McDonough, “An unsupervised toddler will eat a cannabis candy regardless of whether it’s shaped like a bear or a star, taking no heed of a THC stamp or warning labels.”
Marijuana advocates believe a similar result is likely if Colorado’s pot-hating public attempts to gain more control with the passing of Amendment 139.
“The initiative is very foolishly written and would have a variety of unintended negative consequences when it comes to public health and safety,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told HIGH TIMES in an emailed statement. “It would force marijuana concentrates and infused products back into the underground market, incentivize potentially dangerous home-based extraction activities, and steer consumers toward smoking instead of vaporizing. It will also simply result in adults consuming more marijuana than they might have otherwise in order to experience the desired effect.”
Nevertheless, supporters of the ballot measure have until August 8 to submit the 98,000 signatures needed to earn a spot on the November ballot.
Some of the latest polls show that most Colorado residents still support legal weed, but no data has yet been released over how many of the voters might be interested in the proposed changes brought forth through Amendment 139.