Vermont lawmakers at odds over THC limit on cannabis concentrates

Vermont marijuana regulators are at odds over how to regulate THC currently and were split on whether or not they should raise the limit of 11% allowable in cannabis concentrates. Supporters say a greater amount will help patients, while opponents argue that any increase would put consumers at risk for overdosing without being able to tell if it was safe.

The “thc potency limits by state” is a debate that has been ongoing for a while. Vermont lawmakers are at odds with each other over the THC limit on cannabis concentrates.

Vermont lawmakers at odds over THC limit on cannabis concentrates



A 60 percent ceiling suggested by their House colleagues has angered some members of the Vermont state Senate.

Vermont legislators are at odds over a bill that would set a limit on the amount of THC in solid cannabis extracts sold at the state’s authorized cannabis stores. 

Members of the Vermont state Senate “bristled Friday at a last-minute change to a key cannabis bill during a House vote Thursday—and speculated as to why the Vermont Department of Health abruptly reversed its recommendation to lawmakers on the measure last week,” according to local publication VTDigger.

According to VTDigger, members of the House “set a 60% ceiling on the percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in solid cannabis concentrates to be sold at retail facilities when they open in October.”

According to VTDigger, Democratic state Senator Dick Sears remarked, “They kept the dang thing for nearly a week and a half and then come up with this.”

“I don’t have much time to convene a conference committee.” 

Sears expressed his dissatisfaction with Democratic state House Representative John Gannon, who introduced the 60 percent limit modification. 

Caps, according to Sears and other legislators, are ineffective and will just drive buyers to seek goods elsewhere––whether on the black market or in neighboring states that have legalized adult-use cannabis.

Sears, who called the House bill a “dumb move,” said Vermont continues to “encourage people to leave the state.” 

During a hearing, Vermont Cannabis Control Board head James Pepper told a state House committee, “It provides the criminal market a stranglehold on fulfilling the demand for these goods.” 

Pepper told the magazine, “There is a fairly wide agreement among regulators that caps are a lousy idea.”

“This void will be filled by an illicit market. They’ll do so with really hazardous materials.”

In the midst of the legislative back-and-forth, the Vermont Department of Health has issued a number of contradictory statements on the subject. 

David Englander, the department’s senior policy and legal advisor, told a state House committee late last month that the agency concurred with the Cannabis Control Board in rejecting the limit, according to VTDigger.

“The major reason is because there is expected to be a considerable market for high THC concentrates, and it is riskier for individuals to acquire unregulated versions of these goods than to buy items that are controlled and tested in line with Board standards.” In a letter to the committee, Englander said, “Regulating rather than prohibiting THC drugs is in keeping with one of the aims of having a controlled market as envisioned by the General Assembly.” 

“Moreover, a full restriction on concentrations exceeding 60% necessitates that producers maintain goods below that level at all times throughout the production process.” This will need the inclusion of chemicals to dilute the substance to a concentration of 60% or less. You may remember that there have been recent illnesses and fatalities linked to the use of such substances.”

The next day, Englander did a complete 180, telling lawmakers that “after further consideration, with the lens of prevention and safety as the cornerstone for the coming adult use market in Vermont, the Department does not concur with the lifting of the THC limit and maintains that a foundational component of the original legislation remain in place,” and that “the Department does not concur with the lifting of the THC limit.”

“High amounts of THC pose a considerable danger to users, and we should not risk adding to the recognized harms to consumers’ physical and mental health,” Englander added.

“I sent you an email yesterday based on inadequate information. “Please accept my apologies to you and the committee for any inaccuracies.”

Vermont authorized recreational marijuana usage in 2018, but sales were not allowed until 2020.

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