State board avoids doctors’ warning of mental, physical health dangers
By Guy Page
The Vermont Cannabis Control Board (CCB) has disregarded Vermont Medical Society (VMS) package labeling recommendations for legal marijuana products, opting instead for a warning label that says relatively little about specific health hazards of high-potency THC consumption.
The CCB is the appointed board charged with overseeing Vermont’s transition to a legal market. Last week, Vermont Daily Chronicle reported that the CCB endorsed the legal sale of highly concentrated (60%) THC products, saying that’s what the market wants and citing the high production costs of diluting THC to 15%.
In a Nov. 17 resolution sent to the CCB, the VMS urged this detailed warning be printed on every package: “Cannabis/THC may cause: 1. Psychosis* 2. Impaired driving 3. Addiction 4. Suicide attempt* 5. Uncontrollable vomiting 6. Harm to fetus/nursing baby. *This can occur in individuals with no previous history of psychosis or mental illness
Instead, the CCB recommended in a Nov. 30 letter to the Legislature (Section 2, chapter 10) a less specific warning label, focusing mostly on keeping legal marijuana out of the hands of children. The package must say “Keep Out of the Reach of Children” and “Includes Multiple Servings” and include these symbols:
CCB Chair James Pepper is a former Vermont deputy state’s attorney who helped implement criminal justice reform, including cannabis conviction expungement. He reportedly explained to VT Digger, “There’s a lot more that can be done than just trying to pack a whole bunch of information on a tiny little label.”
For example, the CCB recommends this warning label on all advertising and marketing materials. Like the packaging warning, it is relatively light on the dangers of overconsumption to adults.
The CCB’s recommendations gloss over the real, specific effects of high-potency THC consumption observed in emergency rooms across Vermont, the VMS says.
“At a time when Vermonters are facing filled hospital beds, crowded emergency departments and prolonged wait times for in-patient mental health treatment, Vermont’s medical professionals believe Vermonters deserve accurate information about the risks of cannabis use and should not have commercial access to high-risk, high-potency products,” VMS President and psychiatrist Dr. Simi Ravven said.
The public may comment on all CCB recommendations. The board will meet next at 11 am Wednesday, December 8.