2 New Cannabis Bills In Washington State: One GOP-Led Addresses Violent Crimes At Pot Shops, Second Considers High-Potency THC Products

Washington state representatives Lauren Davis (D) and Tom Dent (R) have introduced a bill aimed at addressing the potential dangers of high-potency THC cannabis products. The bill, which is scheduled for a hearing in the House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee, seeks to raise awareness, implement health interventions, and increase the minimum legal age for purchasing high THC products to 25.

Currently, there are no legal limits on the potency of THC in cannabis concentrates such as vape oils, dabs, and shatter. According to Davis, these products are regularly sold with a THC potency of nearly 100 percent, which is a ten-fold increase since cannabis was legalized in 2012. Davis argues that these concentrated products are different and dangerous.

The bill also highlights a consensus statement released by the University of Washington and Washington State University, which highlights the public health risks associated with high-potency THC products. Dr. Beatriz Carlini, from the University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug and Alcohol Institute, compares these products to strawberries and frosted strawberry pop tarts, emphasizing their significant differences.

While state law limits the THC concentration of marijuana-infused edibles to 10% and cannabis flower is biologically limited, there are currently no limits on the potency of marijuana concentrates like THC-infused vape oils and dabs. The proposed bill aims to address this issue and minimize the potential harms caused by high-potency THC cannabis products.

If enacted, the bill would also allocate funding to the Department of Health to inform the public about the risks associated with these products through social marketing and public health messages. Dent argues that the number of young people impacted by high-potency cannabis is on the rise, and it is crucial to address this crisis before it spreads further into communities.

In a separate development, state Senator Jim McCune (R) has introduced a bill to address the epidemic of crimes at cannabis shops. The bill proposes to raise penalties for those who use a vehicle to cause damage or gain access to retail outlets. It also seeks to assist the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) in keeping statistics on break-ins by requiring marijuana outlets to report robberies promptly.

McCune argues that cannabis shops have become a magnet for an unprecedented level of criminal activities, citing cases of robberies, violence, and even death. He emphasizes that if the state is profiting from the legal cannabis industry, it should also prioritize protecting workers, customers, and the community from criminal activity at cannabis retailers.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee for consideration. The committee has until January 31 to review the bill. The number of robberies at pot shops has been on the rise, with more than 100 cases reported in 2022 and the first death of an employee during a break-in, according to Washington’s Craft Cannabis Coalition.

Both bills reflect the ongoing efforts of Washington state lawmakers to address the challenges and potential risks associated with the cannabis industry. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it is essential to implement measures to protect public health and enhance safety in cannabis-related activities.

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