Why is Banning Concentrates a Bad Idea?


Legislators in Washington state have introduced a bill that would cap recreational cannabis concentrates at 10 percent THC.

The move effectively would outlaw a huge portion of the recreational cannabis concentrate market in the state—including many vape cartridges and dabbing products such as shatter or wax. Such products are increasingly popular with consumers, lawmakers noted in the bill, accounting for nearly 40% of the state’s legal cannabis sales in 2019.

House Bill 2546 was created in response to a study published last year analyzing frequent high-potency cannabis use. The study, from psychology journal The Lancet, found individuals who used high-potency cannabis on a daily basis were significantly more likely to suffer episodes of psychosis than those who never consumed cannabis.

What would this mean for the public?

This type of legislation should be very alarming – especially, with 2019 “vape-related deaths” which were primarily caused by “unregulated black market products”. If WA legislatures were to succeed with this asinine move, they would essentially create a massive new black market within the state.

Illicit Market

Consumers won’t – just because they changed the law – stop consuming high potency pot products. There will still be a demand for the product and by making it illegal, they would essentially make these products “cheaper” since they wouldn’t have to pay taxes on the goods. This would also allow black market players to do with the goods whatever they desire – without any regulatory oversight.

The dangers associated with black market sales have been highlighted effectively by the vaping crisis. If customers turn to untested and unregulated sales, they could be dramatically increasing their risk of health complications.

“There may well be rationale for eliminating some portion of the riskiest products on the market if there’s evidence to support that but doing that with 40 percent of the products would make very little sense. If 40 percent of the market is toward these products and then you ban them, you’d definitely be creating a push towards the black market.” – Leo Beletsky, a professor of law and public health at Northwestern University

Low potency would require more diluents


The new bill also raises other questions, such as how to effectively produce such low-potency extracts. Because concentrates are usually made from cannabis flower or trim that itself contains about 10% to 30% THC, concentrated extracts almost by definition contain more. Typical concentrates contain about 40% to 70% THC, while some purified products can approach nearly 100% THC.

To create concentrate products that would comply with HB 2546’s strict limit, processors would likely have to dilute their products or start with especially low-potency plant material, industry experts said.

Dangers of Home extraction

Consumers seeking higher-potency extracts would be pushed to the unlicensed market, she predicted—or, worse, would try to make extracts at home. Home extraction can cause explosions if the volatile chemicals typically used catch fire.

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‘Why have a legal market if you’re going to encourage home lab production of concentrate?’
Christine Bryant , cannabis retailer Hashtag

What is going to happen to 40% of the current legal marijuana concentrates market that makes their money from concentrates and other high-potency goods? The loss of revenue will most assuredly translate into a loss of employment in certain sectors.

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