The re-crim gang makes its move

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Paul Danish/Sue France

Colorado’s neo-prohibitionists and marijuana re-criminalizers have come up with an invidious new two-pronged strategy with which to attack legal marijuana in Colorado.

The core of the strategy is to limit the THC content of pot to 15 or 16 percent by law.

Prong one is a bill introduced in the state legislature by Kathleen Conti (R-Greenwood Village, Littleton) that would limit the THC content of “retail marijuana or retail marijuana products” to 15 percent THC.

It would also require a special label on marijuana or marijuana products containing more than 10 percent THC that would state: “Warning: The health impacts of marijuana with a THC potency of above 10 percent are unknown.”

Prong two is a state ballot initiative that would also cap the potency of pot (at 16 percent instead of Conti’s 15 percent) and would also require a product label — one that reads like something straight out of Reefer Madness. (More about that in a moment.)

Conti says the bill is needed because the THC content of marijuana legally sold in Colorado averages about 17 percent and “all the studies that have been done on THC levels have been done on THC levels between 2 and 8 percent … and we really don’t know that we’ve gotten the true feel on the health risks associated with that marijuana.”

Ah, the unknown impacts and high risk associated with today’s super-duper high potency pot. This is just a new variant on the “this is not your father’s marijuana” narrative that marijuana prohibitionists have been pushing since the 1980s.

It’s a garbage argument, of course. It’s like arguing the country ought to return to alcohol prohibition because some types of booze — scotch, bourbon, vodka, gin and brandy, for instance — contain more than 10 times as much alcohol as beer.

The inconvenient little truth the neo-prohibitionists ignore is that if the only pot that’s available is low-potency, users will smoke more of it.

What’s really going on here? Marijuana industry compliance professional Mark Slaugh told the Denver Post that Conti’s bill “threatens to wipe out infused product manufacturers, and itslanguage is unclear as to what to do with edibles.”

Josh Hindi of Dabble Extracts, a concentrates company, agrees. The THC limit in the bill “would remove concentrates in total from any kind of retail operation.”

Since edibles were about 45 percent of the Colorado marijuana market in 2014 (the first year of legalization), it’s pretty obvious that the real agenda of Conti’s bill and the companion ballot initiative is to initiate a process of step-by-step re-criminalization, not a concern about supposedly unknown health risks.

If there is any doubt about this, consider how the proposed initiative treats the “health risks” question. According to the Post, it would require all recreational pot products to carry a label warning users about “identified health risks” — including “birth defects and reduced brain development,” risks to the brain and behavioral development of babies, breathing difficulties, “permanent loss of abilities” (whatever that means), mood swings, impaired thinking and body movement, depression, temporary paranoia, anxiety and “potential for long-term addiction.”

Oddly, halitosis, jock itch, toe-nail fungus, dandruff and the heartbreak of psoriasis were inexplicably omitted.

Since the initiative is in the form of a state constitutional amendment, its “reefer madness” characterization of the effects of marijuana use would be written into the state constitution if it were to pass — laying the legal and ideological foundation for marijuana recriminalization.

(For the record, the laundry list of so-called “known health risks” is a mash-up of latter-day junk science and hoary lies about marijuana, some of which pot prohibitionists have been telling since 1937.)

In order to get on the November ballot the initiative proponents must collect 98,492 validated signatures of registered Colorado voters.

What are their chances of getting them? Better than you might suppose. The initiative has the support of Smart Colorado, the creepy anti-marijuana organization that opposed Proposition 64 in 2012. Smart Colorado is the local arm of a national organization that has some big money contributors behind it — guys with enough dough to pay for a petition drive out of petty cash.

I suspect a lot of pot users think that legalization is a done deal in Colorado that can’t be undone. They shouldn’t get too complacent about that. The re-crim gang is making its move.

  • RobertChase

    Much ado about nothing. We should start to elect representatives of our interests to the General Assembly — to rescind felonies for cannabis, for one thing — but we don’t need to worry about the ravings of Kathleen Conti and the hardcore prohibitionists. Her bill and the proposed initiative are headed straight for the ash heap of history.

  • YETI67

    Sweet!!!!
    I will go back to growing and selling at 450/oz. That’s what I was making all day long before the pesky decriminalization came along and killed the price. It’s not worth my time at 200/oz.

  • Edward R. Arnold

    Went to http://www.leg.state.co.us and was unable to find a bill sponsored by Conti which limits THC percentage. Paul Danish, could you please provide a bill number in the comments so I have a reference which I can use when commenting to my legislators. BTW I have no doubt Conti owns alcohol stocks, or has been bribed by alcohol companies. Conflicts of Interest are never a problem for politicians.