Connecticut Health and Safety Group Calls on Governor and Legislative Leaders to Implement Strict Marijuana Regulations

By June 22, 2021Uncategorized

Today, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed SB 1201 into law, expanding the commercial marijuana industry into the state.

In response, a group of public health and safety advocates in the state have sent the governor a comprehensive list of action items they deem essential to “mitigate the worst of the harms” that have been seen in other states that have legalized the commercial sale of marijuana.

“The marijuana industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself while they put their profits ahead of the health of Connecticut residents. We cannot allow its army of lobbyists to prevent the necessary safeguards we need to keep the industry in check from being implemented. We must install them now before it is too late,” said John Daviau, a spokesperson for Smart Approaches to Marijuana Connecticut (SAM-CT).

“As we have seen in states such as Colorado, the marijuana industry becomes a deeply entrenched and incredibly powerful lobbying force once the marijuana market matures. It would be a tragedy to see a similar process unfold in Connecticut,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of SAM and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration.

The Social Equity Council will be the governing body to determine and regulate access to the industry in Connecticut. The group of advocates is urging this council to include a representative from the field of public health, a representative of law enforcement, and a representative from the drug prevention field – all of whom will have no personal or financial interests in the marijuana industry.

The group also calls upon the state’s marijuana industry to incorporate product labels that clearly outline health and safety guidance such as the following:

  • Advice for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to abstain from marijuana use
  • The risk involved with marijuana use and the operation of vehicles and heavy machinery
  • The potential for addiction to marijuana use
  • The risk of the development of psychosis in consumers predisposed to mental illness
  • The risk of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome
  • The correlation between marijuana use and suicide

Finally, the group calls on the state to implement the following regulations:

  • Implement a THC potency cap of 15% on marijuana products.
  • Implement a compliance check system that ensures dispensaries are verifying those purchasing marijuana or THC products are of age
  • Implement a data collection strategy to track underage/youth use and perception of harm yearly in order to have a clear view of the impact of legalization
  • Develop and implement a system, prior to the opening of marijuana dispensaries, that randomly tests marijuana plants and products sold in dispensaries verifying the accuracy of THC contents on labels
  • In addition to THC content, labels on marijuana products must also disclose the amount of CBD
  • Hold a bi-annual review to determine if illicit market sales and automobile accidents/fatalities have increased/decreased in comparison to the last 5 years
  • Prohibit marijuana dispensaries, independent marijuana sellers, growers, and their parent companies and subsidiaries from marketing their products on any media platform wherein consumers under the age of 21 constitute more than 15% of the userbase
  • Bar all state employees, contractors, lobbyists, and their spouses from profiting from the marijuana industry for a period of two years following their resignation from the positions

Full text of the letter and signers available below:

June 22, 2021

Governor Lamont and Legislative Leaders,

With the adoption of SB1201 into law with the governor’s signature today, a commercial marijuana industry will now be active in the state of Connecticut. As such, it is crucial that we act expeditiously to implement policies that seek to mitigate the worst of the harms that have been experienced in other states that have allowed for the expansion of the profit-driven marijuana industry.

Access to the marijuana industry in Connecticut will be largely governed by an unelected body of 15 deemed the Social Equity Council. In an effort to promote public health and safety, this council should have at least:

  • One (1) representative from the field of public health, mental health, and addiction services, who holds no personal or financial interests in the marijuana industry
  • One (1) representative from law enforcement who has road/traffic safety/marijuana testing experience.
  • One (1) representative from the drug prevention field, particularly with experience working with youth and underage marijuana use prevention.

Those on the council should be vetted thoroughly to avoid conflict of interest and put the people of Connecticut before profit.

In the interest of better understanding the substance that will now be sold in Connecticut, the state should fund and conduct studies examining the impact of marijuana on the brains of those aged 21-25. The research group used for this purpose should have no ties to the marijuana industry or receive/previously received funding from the cannabis industry.

Given the preponderance of data available on the harms of marijuana use, marijuana products sold in the state should include product labels that clearly outline the following:

  • Advice for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to abstain from marijuana use
  • The risk to brain development in young adults up to the age of 25
  • The risk involved with marijuana use and the operation of vehicles and heavy machinery
  • The potential for addiction to marijuana use
  • The risk of the development of psychosis in consumers predisposed to mental illness
  • The potential harm to acute cognition and long-term educational outcomes
  • The risk of chronic bronchitis
  • The risk of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome
  • The correlation between marijuana use and suicide
  • The pulmonary and cardiac risks of marijuana use
  • The potential link between marijuana use and reduced sperm count and testicular cancer

With regard to public health and safety regulations, the state should:

  • Implement a THC potency cap of 15% on marijuana products.
  • Implement a compliance check system that ensures dispensaries are verifying those purchasing marijuana or THC products are of age
  • Implement a data collection strategy to track underage/youth use and perception of harm yearly in order to have a clear view of the impact of legalization
  • Develop and implement a system, prior to the opening of marijuana dispensaries, that randomly tests marijuana plants and products sold in dispensaries verifying the accuracy of THC contents on labels
  • In addition to THC content, labels on marijuana products must also disclose the amount of CBD
  • Hold a bi-annual review to determine if illicit market sales and automobile accidents/fatalities have increased/decreased in comparison to the last 5 years
  • Prohibit marijuana dispensaries, independent marijuana sellers, growers, and their parent companies and subsidiaries from marketing their products on any media platform wherein consumers under the age of 21 constitute more than 15% of the userbase
  • Bar all state employees, contractors, lobbyists, and their spouses from profiting from the marijuana industry for a period of two years following their resignation from the positions

Finally, the Regulations and Review Committee in the legislature must be involved in approving new regulations and overseeing any need to amend parts of the bill that are increasing fatalities, underage substance abuse, hospitalizations, and addiction.

Just as states like Colorado have had to introduce new/stricter regulations post-legalization, Connecticut lawmakers should monitor the impacts and costs of legalization.

With these provisions incorporated into law, we can hope to mitigate the myriad harms that legalization will undoubtedly bring about on the citizens of Connecticut. We hope to see lawmakers move quickly to implement these evidence-backed action items.

Sincerely,

Smart Approaches to Marijuana Connecticut (CT-SAM)

CC:

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz
House Majority Leader Matthew Ritter
House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff
Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly

Colton Grace

Author Colton Grace

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