Updated: Feb 11
Those who wish to roll back marijuana legalization efforts are clearly mobilizing around this issue of potency caps and we must not let them get their foot in the door. In a society where one can purchase Everclear grain alcohol and purchase lethal dose quantities of alcohol at drug stores (e.g., a handle of Vodka), restricting the potency of THC — which is incapable of causing lethal overdose makes no sense.
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Further, we have been doing this work long enough to see that this is simply a page from an age-old playbook. In the 1990s, opponents led with the claim that “this wasn’t your parents’ Woodstock weed” as their justification for the imposition of strict penalties. Here are some representative comments from the time:
Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates opined that advanced growing techniques had increased THC potency to the point that “those who blast some pot on a casual basis … should be taken out and shot.”
During Congressional hearings on the topic of strengthening federal anti-drug laws, then-Senator Joe Biden also weighed in on the issue, opining, “It’s like comparing buckshot in a shotgun shell to a laser-guided missile.”
Drug Czar William Bennett claimed in 1990 said, “If people … confessing marijuana use in the late 60s … suck on one of today’s marijuana cigarettes, they’d fall down backwards.” His predecessor, Lee Brown, then claimed, “Marijuana is forty times more potent today … than [it was] 10, 15, 20 years ago.”
Today, some 30 years later, prohibitionists are making these same claims, except now the implication is that the weed of today is so much more powerful than it was in the 1990s — but how can that be credible if the weed of the 90s was supposedly so potent it justified shooting cannabis consumers on sight?
Remember, with the benefit of hindsight, this sort of hyperbole may look quaint, or even humorous — much like Anslinger’s claims in the 1930s that cannabis turned men into axe murderers and caused incurable insanity. But at the time these claims are made, in each generation, they are taken seriously and they are the basis for the passage of detrimental policies that lead to the destruction of millions of lives. This was the case in the 30s, the 60s, the 80/90s, and prohibitionists seek to make this be the case once again now.
Without the funding to SHOW legislators how the cannabis industry operates, they will continue to preach their ignorance.
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