Lawmakers Want to Impose THC Limits

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Signed into law in March, cannabis legalization is still very new in New York State. Possession is legal, but dispensaries may not open until summer of 2022. Before that can happen, state Rep. Mike Lawler, an upstate Republican, wants to create exceptions to legalization and restrict what products are available. Claiming that “[f]requent consumption of high-potency cannabis can result in serious health conditions, including neurotoxicity and substance use disorders,” in June, Lawler introduced a bill that, if passed, would ban cannabis flower with more than 15 percent THC. It would also ban edibles and concentrates with more than 60 percent THC. If Lawler has his way, most of the products found in dispensaries in Colorado, California and elsewhere would be illegal in New York. And this is a trend. Even as Congress and states across the South consider legalizing marijuana — following the lead of Virginia, which legalized as of July 1 — lawmakers in other states are making similar pushes to restrict high THC products. Demonizing THC appears to be the latest effort from reliably anti-legalization organizations and activists — who, so far, have failed to thwart marijuana legalization’s strong popularity among voters or slow down legalization’s political momentum. With both New York, the country’s most populous and most-visited city, and Virginia, the first state in the south, legalizing via the legislative process rather than voter initiative, 2021 is arguably legalization’s best year yet. So far, these efforts have been mostly unsuccessful. But critics in the cannabis industry say this coordinated effort to demonize THC is possibly the most significant push yet to undo cannabis legalization, and it is also darkly reminiscent of the drug war’s worst impulses. “It’s no accident that this popped up in several statehouses all at once,” said Steven W. Hawkins, the interim CEO of…

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