In the News
Proposed bill would require health and safety warning labels on California cannabis products
Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs & Mental Health
Cannabis, Mental Health
Public Policy Advocacy, Research – Quantitative
Getting it Right from the Start: Regulation of Recreational Marijuana
“Indeed, many scientific studies have linked marijuana use to an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia. The risk is more than four times greater for people who use high-potency marijuana on a daily basis, compared with those who have never used, according to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry in 2019. One study found eliminating marijuana use in adolescents would reduce global rates of schizophrenia by 10%.
Doctors and lawmakers in California want cannabis producers to warn consumers of this and other health risks on their packaging labels and in advertising, similar to requirements for cigarettes. They also want sellers to distribute health brochures to first-time customers outlining the risks cannabis poses to youths, drivers and those who are pregnant, especially for pot that has high concentrations of THC, the chemical primarily responsible for marijuana’s mental effects.
Californians voted to legalize recreational pot in 2016. Three years later, emergency room visits for cannabis-induced psychosis went up 54% across the state, from 682 to 1,053, according to state hospital data. For people who already have a psychotic disorder, cannabis makes things worse — leading to more ER visits, more hospitalizations and more legal troubles, says Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a psychiatry professor at Yale University School of Medicine who also serves on the physicians’ advisory board for Connecticut’s medical marijuana program.
Legalization is not the problem, he says, but rather it’s the commercialization of cannabis — the heavy marketing, which can be geared toward attracting young people to become customers for life, and the increase in THC from 4% on average up to between 20% and 35% in today’s varieties.
Limiting the amount of THC in pot products and including health warnings on the labels could help reduce the health harms associated with cannabis use, D’Souza says, the same way those methods worked for cigarettes. He credits warning labels, education campaigns and marketing restrictions for the sharp drop in smoking rates among kids and teens in the past decade.
“Today’s turbocharged products are turbocharging the harms associated with cannabis,” says Dr. Lynn Silver with the Public Health Institute, a nonprofit sponsoring the proposed labeling legislation, SB 1097, the Cannabis Right to Know Act.”
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Originally published by NPR
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