Colorado Marijuana Skeptics Take Aim At Potency

<p>(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)</p>
<p>Colorado Harvest Company&#039;s Flower Room No. 1 holds dozens of green plants thriving underneath 22 1,000-watt lamps.</p>

Is Colorado pot too potent? Voters may get a chance to set a limits on the psychoactive chemical in marijuana this November.

The Colorado Supreme Court cleared the way for backers of Amendment 139 to collect the 98,000 signatures necessary by Aug. 8 to get the question on the ballot.

If it does get on the ballot, and it's passed by voters, Amendment 139 would limit the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, by total weight of the marijuana product to no more than 16 percent. Most pot products currently sold in Colorado exceed 20 percent THC.

One dispensary owner says that if the measure passed, all but 10 of his 70 strains of marijuana would be illegal.

“We hope the backers of this measure seriously appreciate the consequence of what they are proposing,” says Brian Vicente, a co-author of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado.

Passage "would mean that consumers who prefer to smoke cannabis flower would have to smoke more in order to achieve the same level of intoxication," Vicente said. “They may believe that they are well-intentioned, but they are threatening individual health and public safety."

Under the language of the amendment, marijuana labels would have to outline a number of alarming side effects, like “permanent loss of brain ability”; “depression anxiety, and temporary paranoia”; and “potential for long-term addiction.”

Amendment 139 would also restrict edibles to single serving packages. A customer can currently buy an infused candy bar that contains up to 10 doses, which increases the risk of eating too much at once.

Strict childproof packaging guidelines would also be enacted. But Colorado already requires multiple levels of childproof packaging, so it’s not clear how this measure would alter the state’s rules.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s marijuana czar, Andrew Freeman, says they were not consulted on the measure, and are not even sure who is backing it.

The AP reports that former Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty, a Republican, is involved, but he did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did Smart Colorado, a prominent anti-marijuana group.