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Washington State Legislature Proposes Raising Purchase Age for High-Potency Cannabis Products

In an effort to address concerns about the rising potency of cannabis products and their impact on youth, a new bill has been proposed in the Washington state legislature. The bipartisan legislation seeks to increase the minimum age for purchasing high-potency cannabis products to 25 years, aligning with scientific findings on brain development.

Representatives Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline) and Tom Dent (R-Moses Lake), the sponsors of House Bill 2320, have expressed concerns about the physical and mental risks associated with high-potency THC cannabis products. The bill aims to implement legal limits on THC levels in cannabis concentrates, a move prompted by the significant increase in potency since the legalization of cannabis in 2012. Products such as cannabis vape oils, dabs, and shatter often have THC levels nearing 100%, representing a substantial increase from earlier levels.

The legislation also includes provisions for healthcare interventions for individuals at risk of negative effects from these products and establishes ongoing funding for the Department of Health to create public health campaigns about the risks of high-potency cannabis.

Backing the bill's intent, Dr. Beatriz Carlini from the University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug, and Alcohol Institute highlighted the stark difference between high-THC products and natural cannabis, likening it to comparing strawberries with frosted strawberry pop tarts. Additionally, a joint statement from the University of Washington and Washington State University underscores the public health concerns, noting the increased risk of cannabis use disorder, addiction, and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, especially among adolescents, associated with high-potency cannabis use.

Representative Davis emphasized the urgency of this legislation in the context of an addiction-for-profit industry, advocating for proactive measures to protect public health and prevent the repetition of past mistakes.

The bill is slated for review by the House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee, on January 16th, marking a significant step in Washington's approach to managing the evolving cannabis market and its impact on public health.

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