Vermont Bill Would Drop THC Caps on Concentrates, Flower

Vermont law currently caps THC for cannabis flower and concentrates but that could soon change under a new bill packed with amendments to improve the state’s cannabis market.

The Vermont Cannabis Control Board is asking lawmakers to drop the caps on the potency of cannabis and concentrates from state law, while the edibles caps would remain. Lawmakers argue that the bill could keep more consumers in the legal market, while some medical leaders in the state disagree.

Dropping the THC caps is one of several proposed changes to the state’s cannabis policies included in the new bill H.612, which the House Government Operations Committee took up on the floor for the first time on Jan. 12.

The bill targets hemp-derived products that are vaguely marketing intoxicating effects from synthetic cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC and so on. It would codify rules the board adopted last year, limiting the sale of intoxicating hemp-derived products in the state and regulate them as cannabis products if they contain more than 0.3% of total THC. The bill would codify rules the board already adopted last year that limit the sale of some  intoxicating hemp-derived products and regulate them as cannabis products if they contain more than 0.3% THC.

Current state law caps the THC percentage in smokable cannabis flower products at 30%—which is high but exceeded in certain varieties—and the amount of THC in solid or liquid concentrated cannabis at 60%. Vermont also imposes a 5 mg serving size/dose cap on edibles and 100 mg cap on entire packaged edibles. The edible dosages align with what you’d see in most other states.

“This section proposes to eliminate the first two,” Cannabis Control Board Chairman James Pepper said at the committee meeting. “The CCB has been asked in two subsequent years to evaluate the efficacy of these caps and submit reports about them.”

The problem is this leaves out potent cannabis forms that are needed by people with serious conditions like cancer or other conditions that require high amounts of THC. Valley News reports that the bill would remove those caps and also include “a laundry list of the commission’s requests.”

The bill was introduced by Reps. Michael McCarthy (D – Franklin-3) and Matt Birong (D – Addison-3) on Jan. 3.

Regulated Concentrates Safer Than the Black Market

Some people at the committee meeting argued that potency caps on concentrates only forces manufacturers to use potentially harmful fillers. You can’t just smoke anything, when it comes to vape thickeners and ingredients. 

“By limiting potency to 60%, you’re creating a perverse effect of giving the black market a monopoly on a product,” Dave Silberman, co-owner of FLORA Cannabis in Middlebury, said. “It’s a niche product—it’s maybe 4% or 5% of the entire market—but you’re giving them a monopoly on it.”

Regulated markets are more likely to vet products for harmful additives by requiring lab results and so on. If people are going to the black market to get concentrates over 60%—which are many—they’re going to have a higher risk of smoking an unapproved thickener or additive.

High Times has reported on potentially dangerous fillers such as vitamin E acetate, which is not safe to vape, and others, however it’s important to note that dangerous fillers have been used by the media to fan fear about cannabis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed in 2019 that the additive vitamin E acetate is the likely cause of the nation’s rash of lung injuries caused by vaping. Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the CDC, told reporters that the additive, which received early attention as a potential cause of e-cigarette or vaping product use–associated lung injury (EVALI), was found in the lung tissue of patients by investigators.

Others have speculated that some hemp-derived compounds have similar traits. Published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology on Dec. 12, 2022, a team of researchers led by Neal L. Benowitz discovered a link between THC-O acetate and significant danger to the lungs. THC-O acetate shares structural similarities with vitamin-E acetate—an additive that becomes dangerous to the lungs when converted by heat.

The bill would also reduce operating fees the state imposed on medical cannabis dispensaries, reducing an application fee from $2,500 to $1,000 and dropping the annual renewal fee from $25,000 down to $5,000.

It would also increase the timeframe of a medical cannabis card from three years to five years for people who consume cannabis for a chronic condition other than pain.

Last October, WCAX in Vermont profiled various school officials to probe what their plans are and how the conversation around cannabis will continue, now that sales are legal for adults.

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