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JAMA Commentary: Stronger Warning Labels on Cannabis Products Support Public Health

In this JAMA Health Forum commentary, PHI’s Dr. Lynn Silver and co-authors discuss how the state’s industry-friendly approach to cannabis regulation is undermining the health of Californians, particularly vulnerable populations. They also explore how the Cannabis Right to Know Act (SB 1097; Senator Pan), would address a gaping regulatory hole by requiring more prominent and accurate health warnings on cannabis products.

Cannabis leaves

The US legal cannabis market is growing rapidly, and California has the largest legal cannabis market in the world. But as cannabis legalization spreads and markets continue to grow, states must put in place more sensible guardrails that prioritize public health, protect youth and advance social equity, argue Kelly C. Young-Wolff, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula and PHI’s Dr. Lynn Silver in a commentary published JAMA Health Forum.

“California Cannabis Markets—Why Industry-Friendly Regulation Is Not Good Public Health,” explores how an industry-friendly approach to cannabis regulation is undermining the health of Californians, particularly vulnerable populations. The article also discusses the Cannabis Right to Know Act (SB 1097; Senator Pan), which would address a gaping regulatory hole by requiring more prominent and accurate health warnings on cannabis products, including health warnings and safer use information for consumers.

Read the full commentary

 

While legalization has led to a decrease in cannabis possession offenses, this progress has been systematically undercut by the state’s failure to take seriously the public health concerns related to cannabis commercialization, use, product potency and marketing tactics. For example, state policies include package warnings about cannabis use in pregnancy and during adolescence, but the warnings are printed in size 6-point font and relegated to less-visible or even hidden placements.

The commentary also highlights the importance of the Cannabis Right to Know Act (SB 1097; Senator Pan), which would address a gaping regulatory hole by requiring more prominent and accurate health warnings on cannabis products and provide health warnings and safer use information for consumers.

“This article calls attention to the significant risks of cannabis promotion and usage to children and youth, including adverse outcomes resulting from cannabis use during pregnancy,” said Dr. Richard Pan, State Senator and pediatrician. “I authored SB 1097—the Cannabis Right to Know Act—so that cannabis packaging reflects public health concerns by prominently informing consumers about risks to mental health, in order to protect all cannabis consumers and California’s children.”

“As a nation, we have a collective responsibility to the next generation. It is time to stop harming children by allowing industry to invent increasingly potent and youth-appealing products and end stigmatizing pregnant individuals who use a product sold by an industry that profits from misleading claims of safety. Instead, where legalization is in place, let us create an environment that protects the vulnerable and steers those adults who use cannabis toward moderate use of safer products.” – Commentary authors Kelly C. Young-Wolff, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula and PHI’s Dr. Lynn Silver

Learn More: SB 1097 – The Cannabis Right to Know Act

SB 1097 would educate consumers about key well-recognized health risks associated with cannabis use and exacerbated by the market shift to turbocharged, ultra-high THC products. These risks, including potential adverse effects on mental health such as psychosis and suicidal thoughts, impaired driving, and low birth weight of infants exposed during pregnancy, and others, will be included in brochures made available to consumers and mental health warnings would be prominently added to product packaging.

The legislation is supported by the Public Health Institute, Youth Forward, a broad coalition of medical groups, including the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties, and over 50 public health organizations, youth and parent organizations, but opposed by the cannabis industry which has already weakened its provisions. Learn more.


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