The Sun recently summarized the findings from a University of Colorado School of Public Health review of 452 studies regarding high-potency marijuana concentrates, a report that was required by the Colorado General Assembly.
The article concludes by noting that School of Public Health Dean Dr. Jonathan Samet “says the Colorado School of Public Health review should come with a caution. While it may be tempting to look at the limited evidence on effects and conclude it means high-potency THC isn’t harmful, Samet said it’s better for consumers to err on the safe side. After all, as the old scientific saying goes, absence of evidence is not absence of harm.”
The researchers, in essence, punted the question.
“It’s not an easy scientific question,” Samet said. “It’s not easy to generate the data you would like.”
This mildly worded caution ignores the reality that Colorado families are in pain.
Outside the ivory towers of academics, in the real world, things are messy and these families can’t wait for the perfect research datasets.
Ask Laura Stack, whose son Johnny jumped to his death after getting addicted to dabbing high-potency THC resin.
Or ask the Bullards, whose son Marc moved to Colorado full of promise only to have friends introduce him to high-potency concentrates. Before he took his life he wrote in his journal: “I found out I was dabbing too much which I already knew and had cut back in February, but apparently if you overdo it, you can get almost like poison and experience some negative effects.” His death certificate lists “use of concentrated marijuana products” as a contributing factor.
Or ask State Rep. Judy Amabile, who was a co-sponsor of the legislation giving the CU School of Public Health $2 million to study high-potency THC. She said on the State House Floor that her son’s (who was hospitalized at the age of 26) and families’ lives have been destroyed by high-potency marijuana and that parents are done being blamed and shamed into silence.
Ask the hundreds of other families in Colorado and thousands in our nation whose lives have been torn apart by legal dabs, gummies, vapes, often with THC levels of over 90%, what they think about the researchers’ conclusions.
A rational regulatory approach would put the burden of proof on THC concentrate manufacturers to prove their products do not harm consumers before they can market them. Instead, Colorado allowed the mass commercialization of these products first and now is spending years (or maybe decades?) deciding how they may harm consumers.
Putting the burden of proof on the public health community to prove smoking was unhealthy allowed Big Tobacco to addict — and shorten the lives — of millions of Americans during the last century.
Given the School of Public Health’s milquetoast conclusions, it’s no wonder that the Marijuana Industry Group touted the CU study to argue against new constraints on its ability to market high-THC concentrates.
An author of the CU study stated: “There was a moderate amount of evidence that high-concentration THC can have adverse effects on those with pre-existing conditions such as psychosis.“
With even moderate evidence, shouldn’t the General Assembly put a pause on the sale of high-potency marijuana until more definitive research can be completed?
The state could let Coloradans consume the lower-potency marijuana flower, which was what most Coloradans thought we were approving when Amendment 64 was passed a decade ago, and put a pause on these high-potency concentrates until they are proven safe.
Shortly after the School of Public Health essentially punted with its bland report, the National Institutes of Health reported that “as many as 30% of cases of schizophrenia among men aged 21-30 might have been prevented by averting cannabis use disorder.” This stunning conclusion from the nation’s preeminent health research body reflects the reality of many Colorado families.
How many more Coloradans need to die and families be torn apart before we take action to protect public health?