By Guy Page
A study published in the prestigious Lancet medical journal finds that an estimated five in ten new cases of psychosis in Amsterdam and three in ten new cases in London are linked with high potency marijuana use.
“This study is groundbreaking,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former Obama Administration drug policy advisor. “It is the first to show how marijuana impacts population rates of psychosis. The scientific literature is catching up with the rapidly increasing THC potency we are seeing on the market today.”
High-concentrate THC marijuana is now for sale at Vermont medical marijuana stores such as the Champlain Valley Dispensary in Burlington. They will be legal to produce and sell under S.54, the tax and regulate bill passed by the Senate and now in the House Government Operations Committee.
The only product label warning required by S.54 says nothing about risk of psychosis: “Cannabis has intoxicating effects and may impair concentration, coordination, and judgment.”
Gov Ops and the rest of the Legislature — which prides itself on its scientific decision-making – must now decide how to respond to the bombshell Lancet study. If they ignore it, they will put uninformed Vermonters at risk of psychosis. Or, they can strengthen the warning on the product label, or even decide Vermont doesn’t need to create an industry whose sole product is now known to cause psychosis.
Vermont already has suffered terribly from the deadly acts of a mentally ill man who had high concentrations of THC in his bloodstream. In Oct. 16 Stephen Bourgoin of Williston drove his car in the wrong direction and collided head-on with a car holding five teenagers. All five teens died. Both prosecution and defense attorneys agree he was insane at the time of the accident.
The Lancet story broke on Wednesday while House Gov Ops Committee was doing an initial “run through” of S.54. Headliners listened for about a half hour and learned:
- Marijuana consumption (smoking, edibles,lotion, tincture or any other form) would not be permitted in public places, including rented ferries and hotel rooms. In practice, it could only be consumed legally in someone’s home or outdoor yard.
- The cannabis control board will have three, three-year term members. The chair will be paid about $105,000 and two other members paid about $80,000. The governor will choose one member with a business/management background, the Senate will choose a member with agricultural experience, and the House will choose a member with a background in “systemic social justice and equity issues.”
- The board will appoint an executive director with staff and, as needed, will hire consultants.
In other Vermont marijuana news, Castleton University (formerly Castleton State College) announced a new cannabis studies program. According to the Rutland Herald, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman said of the new program: “I think it’s a great step forward and a really wise move on the part of Castleton University. This plant can be studied from a biology perspective, as a natural resource, from a medicinal perspective, and economic development.”
Perhaps Castleton University could also study marijuana from a psychosis-inducing perspective, including its impact on Vermont’s already overloaded emergency room and mental health systems.
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.