By Lisa Rough
DENVER — Marijuana opponents in Colorado have given up a plan to ask voters about requiring less-potent cannabis and telling consumers that the drug could cause brain damage and paranoia.
Backers of the potency measure announced Friday that they’re unable to raise enough money to advertise what would have been the most serious attempt yet to roll back Colorado’s 2012 legalization amendment. Attorney Frank McNulty, who represents the Healthy Colorado Coalition, the group behind the amendment, made the announcement that they will withdraw the controversial amendment. The measure was cleared for the ballot last month by the Colorado Supreme Court, but its supporters said they could not raise enough money to support it.
Amendment 139 could have had dramatic and far-reaching consequences for the cannabis industry in Colorado as we know it, but luckily, Coloradans refused to accept the restrictive proposal lying down.
The Colorado Health Research Council (CHRC) was formed in opposition of the proposed amendment. Amendment 139 would have imposed a limit of no more than 16 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for any cannabis products sold at state-licensed retail cannabis shops. According to BDS Analytics, the measure would have prohibited more than 80 percent of the cannabis products currently on the market.
The measure also included packaging and labeling requirements, which are already in place through Colorado’s regulations, and would have inserted them directly into the state constitution. Some of the new required “health warnings” include such claims as cannabis causes “permanent loss of brain function,” and “increased chance of a harmful reactions due to higher tetrahydrocannabinol levels,” neither of which has any scientific validity nor medical proof to back them up.
We reached out to noted cannabinoid neuroscientist Michele Ross to find out the truth behind the claims.
“The laundry list of health risks that they are supposed to put on the packaging are completely unfounded in science,” Ross said. “In fact, several studies have shown the opposite of these warnings. For example, I published in 2006 on the ability for cannabinoids to actually grow brain cells. We know from many research studies that cannabis is actually neuroprotective and not associated with permanent brain damage.”
Although Colorado has both recreational and medical cannabis markets, the amendment would have affected all cannabis sales, including medical. That could have had a devastating impact on medical cannabis patients with specific needs for high concentrations of THC.
“This is really not what our policy should be based on that at all here in Colorado,” Ross said. “We should have smart policy that’s based on science, based on data, not based on fears.”
Supporters called on elected officials to “recognize the harm that legalized pot has had on our state.”
A marijuana industry group formed to oppose the measure applauded the decision Friday to abandon the potency campaign.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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