Rocky Mountain high?

Questions arise after new study finds twice the THC in legal weed

By Anthony Plescia
Staff Writer

Image from snowbrains.com

Image from snowbrains.com

Colorado made history on Jan. 1, 2014 when it became the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. However, new lab tests have indicated the newly legalized pot in Colorado to be nearly twice as potent as historically illegal pot. Levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the component in cannabis (the base plants for marijuana), which impacts a person’s movement, memory, thinking and other psychological functions, were usually below 10 percent in the illegal pot. By contrast, Colorado’s legalized drug had levels averaging 18.7 percent.

The marijuana was tested at a Charas Scientific lab in Denver, which is licensed to test the strength of THC in pot products before they enter the marketplace. Andy LaFrate, president of Charas Scientific, noted the results found by his Denver lab were higher than expected.

He also analyzed 600 samples of cannabis flowers and was surprised to find out the flowers had little medical value and were highly contaminated. In fact, LaFrate estimated some buds had as many as one million fungal spores crawling on them. Additionally, most of the samples he examined contained little or no CBD. CBD is circumstantially used for treating depression, anxiety and pain. Cannabis can be processed to contain a large concentration of CBD and a low concentration of THC. This strain of cannabis is widely known as “Charlotte’s Web” and is used to treat seizures in some children.

“It’s disturbing to me because there are people out there who think they’re giving their kids Charlotte’s Web,” said LaFrate to NBC News about the low medical value of Colorado’s marijuana. “And you could be giving them no CBD (cannabidiol, which adds medical value to marijuana) – or even worse, you could be giving them a THC-rich product which might actually increase seizures.”

Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana has sparked speculation as to whether or not other states will follow in its footsteps. A report by ArcView Market Research predicts 18 states will have adopted legislation similar to Colorado’s by 2020. However, the Colorado law is already under fire by groups such as Smart Colorado, an organization against the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado. Parents concerned about the liberalization of marijuana laws make up an important part of this organization.

When speaking with Time Magazine, Smart Colorado’s founder Gina Carbone said, “We’re looking out for public safety and our kids, not just expanding this huge market.”

Michigan, although not on the aforementioned list of states, could legalize recreational pot with a 2016 ballot proposal. The Michigan Cannabis Coalition intends to submit the proposal to the Secretary of State on April 16. Supporters say legalizing marijuana will save tax money for the government and reduce crime rates. In addition, it has been pointed out that prohibition was a costly failure.

“I believe it’s time to stop the ‘big brother’ government and give people their freedom of choice back,” said Schoolcraft student Alex Teasdale. “A few bonuses might include tax money for schools, lower incarceration rates and a lot less business to the cartel.”

Opponents of the measure say Colorado is seeing more psychosis problems and cases of drugged driving. Legalization could also lead to decreased motivation for productive lives, according to studies.

“Michigan should not legalize it because recreational use leads to laziness and that leads to a decline in motivation to do any work,” said Schoolcraft student Maria Sanchez.

The recreational marijuana legalization debate will be a big discussion during the 2016 general election season. If the Michigan ballot proposal gets roughly 252,000 signatures, but does not pass the legislature, it will be up for voter approval in November 2016.