As the legal U.S.
State Rep. John Gannon (D) tacked the amendment onto
The department supported eliminating a cap on levels of more than 60 percent THC in solid cannabis concentrates, according to an April 28
Two Sides of the Argument
Englander argued that it would be more dangerous for consumers to seek out unregulated versions of the product and that enforcing a THC cap would require manufacturers to use additives in order to dilute the products to less than 60 percent THC.
“You may recall that there were recent illnesses and deaths that appeared to be associated with the ingestion of such additives,” he said.
“The risk to users of high levels of THC are significant and we should not risk contributing to the known risks to consumers’ physical and mental health,” Englander said in his second email. “My communication of yesterday to you was based on incomplete information. All errors are mine and please accept my apologies to you and the committee.”
The final decision to ultimately impose the ban led to frustration from some lawmakers.
At a committee hearing on Friday May 7, Sen. Dick Sears (D) said, “They held the damn thing for over a week-and-a-half and then come back with this. There isn’t much time to call for a conference committee. I’m really frustrated by the proposal from Rep. Gannon in the House.”
Senators still decided to move the bill forward to a conference committee with the House on Friday to reconcile their differences over the imposed change.
While Englander was not available for comment, lawmakers said it was not clear why the health department reversed its recommendations. Rep. Taylor Small (P/D) called it “quite shocking” and said they have received no further comment from the department. Rep. Sarah Sopeland Hanzas (D) and chair of the House Committee on Government Operations called it “very troubling” and similarly said she had no insight as to why it happened.
Dangers of the Cannabis Concentrate Cap
During Friday’s hearing, Chair of the Cannabis Control Board James Pepper called the cap “a gift to the illicit cannabis market.”
“It gives the illicit market a monopoly on supplying the demand for these products,” Pepper told the committee.
“Somehow a group that opposed legalization from the beginning has taken over,” Sears added. “If we were to accept this, I would want to see some investigation by the Cannabis Control Board of the impact on the black market and the out-of-state sales, because Massachusetts does not have this cap.”
Alarms may already be going off for regular concentrate consumers, being that many concentrates in markets across the country regularly test above 60 percent THC. According to a report from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, THC levels in cannabis concentrates are documented at an average of about 54 to 69 percent, with some reported to exceed 80 percent.
No other state with an active, adult-use cannabis market has THC caps, meaning that there is no previous precedent to measure how this cap could impact medical patients in the state who have already acclimated to specific products or Vermont concentrate companies that may have to alter their production methods (and their concentrates in general) or even waste product to comply with the new rules.
Vermont Advocates Step In
The Vermont Growers Association (VGA), the largest member-based cannabis nonprofit in the state, has since called on lawmakers in the Conference Committee to pass the Senate version of the bill, which includes language that removes THC caps on solid concentrates and to reject the House Committee on Government Operations amendment.
“The House’s changes to bill H.548 to prohibit solid cannabis concentrates that test over 60% THC will not contribute to improving public health and safety in Vermont,” the VGA states in the announcement. “Instead, it will cripple the state’s adult-use market, ensure producers, consumers, and revenue stay in the unregulated market or out-of-state.”