Dispensaries caution against THC limit bill moving through state capitol

TULSA, Okla. — Medical marijuana dispensaries are sounding the alarm on a bill that is making its way through the state capitol that would cap the amount of THC in medical marijuana products.

THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the ingredient in marijuana that gives it is strength and effects, and Senate Bill 440, which already passed out of committee this week, will cap THC in flower at 30 percent and all other marijuana products at 60 percent.

“If this passes, we’re going to get to a point where people in real pain are not going to be able to get strong enough medicine for their pain,” Jim McEntire, owner of Rolling Vapor smoke shop and dispensary in east Tulsa said. “I’m going to have to tell customers that I have now ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t give you anything stronger’ when just the other day I could.”

SB440 by State Sen. Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan) passed out of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee Monday with unanimous bipartisan support.

“Marijuana potency is much stronger these days then it has ever been,” Garvin said.

Garvin said she was concerned about overdosing effects which cause paranoia and brain damage as well as children being able to access the strong products that are out there.

“This really doesn’t impact the flower. We don’t see typically see THC levels get that high with flower,” Garvin said mentioning the bill focuses mainly on gummies and things she said children mistake for candy.

Though the bill passed out of committee with no opposition, Garvin asked for the title to be stricken from the bill so she could tweak the language for veterans and people in hospice who need higher amounts of THC.

But McEntire said there are far more people than those two groups who benefit from stronger THC products.

“This is just like the discussion we had with weak and strong beer,” he said. “We need to realize that adults need to be responsible, and many of them are. We shouldn’t be punishing the many for the poor choices of the few. I have real customers with real pain in their body, and they are seeing real positive change no other medicines and treatments got them.”

McEntire said the bill assumes dispensaries are just selling potent products to first-time users, when many of them have consultations with their customers to see how much they can tolerate.

“I would never give a first time marijuana user a product with such a high dosage because then of course they would feel the negative effects, and it would cause them to have a very bad experience,” he siad. “I talk to people every day about starting small and not just diving in.”

Dispensaries who spoke with FOX23 News on and off camera said they were surprised not a single lawmaker on the Senate committee that considered SB440 mounted any opposition because of the record number of people who supported State Question 788 which legalized medical marijuana in 2018.

“This is a violation of the will of the people,” McEntire said. “We are responsible adults, and we knew what we were voting for. We don’t need the government to come back and tell us that we don’t know what we wanted. This is medicine, and we have the right to access it and use it responsibly in all forms.”

Garvin said other states were considering THC caps and pointed out that the State of Vermont was the first state to impose an identical 30 for flower-60 for all other-style cap on THC.

“Other states are looking at this because the stuff that is out there is just too strong,” she said.

But aside from Vermont, the measures have failed or have not passed yet in both conservative and liberal states.

“Colorado is looking at it, but just for recreational use not medicinal,” McEntire said. “We’re dealing with medicine in Oklahoma. Colorado is talking about it just recreationally because you have people going out and having a good time with this stuff. Here in Oklahoma, we have a lot of people in real pain. This is medicine. Would they prefer we all just go back on opioids?”

Currently vape pens, gummies, and other products in many dispensaries, according to numerous websites FOX23 checked, have products well over 60 percent. FOX23 was told by numerous business owners that SB440 in its current form would force them to sell weaker products to customers who are already accustom to stronger forms of marijuana products.

McEntire said he was concerned if Vermont and Oklahoma were the only states enforcing these caps, then some companies would simply do business elsewhere instead of changing their formulas to match new state law.

SB440 is currently awaiting a full vote in the State Senate.

Long-time marijuana advocacy group NORML officially posted a warning about SB440 this week saying the bill was an attempt by anti-pot lawmakers in Oklahoma to once again roll back the will of the voters who approved SQ788 in 2018.





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