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Group Forms to Oppose I-139

Contact: Matthew Givner

mgivner@coloradohealthresearchcouncil.com


Group Forms to Oppose I-139

A poorly drafted proposal that simply goes too far, and will have far reaching, unintended

consequences harming Colorado’s medical marijuana patients, public safety, and economy


DENVER—June 30, 2016 — The Colorado Health Research Council (CHRC) announced today that it has formed to oppose Amendment 139, a constitutional amendment that would order the legislature to set a limit of no more than 16% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of any cannabis product sold at a state-licensed retail store, while also putting packaging and labeling requirements that already exist directly into the constitution. While likely well-intended, proponents of the hastily drafted measure are suggesting that we amend our constitution in a way that would have devastating unintended consequences to the citizens and economy of Colorado.

Many Coloradans, including veterans suffering from PTSD, rely on cannabis as an effective and safe medicine. This bill would directly impact those using medical cannabis, including Jack Splitt. Jack is a Colorado student and the namesake for “Jack’s Law”, a bill recently passed by the Colorado Legislature that allows students to get the medicine they need in Colorado schools. Jack suffers from severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which causes all of Jack’s muscles to contract uncontrollably in painful full body muscle contractions.

“My son needs cannabis with high THC concentrations just to survive,” said Jack’s mother, Stacey Linn. “This law would make the concentration of THC my doctor recommended to keep my child alive illegal to purchase in a store”.

In a study of the potential impacts of I-139, BDS Analytics found if the measure passes over 80% of all cannabis products currently sold in taxed and regulated marijuana stores would become illegal. This would devastate the cannabis industry in Colorado, putting most cannabis companies at risk of closing their doors overnight and drive cannabis sales back to the criminal market.

“We didn’t choose medical marijuana; we used ineffectual prescribed medication after medication before turning to marijuana out of desperation,” said Ms. Linn. “And it works. We need the industry to provide this medicine, in a safe way with stringent testing and sensible regulations. Lower concentrations of THC means adding more of other things to dilute the oil. It would be horrible to force my son to consume four times as much oil as he does now just to obtain the same effect. And we couldn’t afford it anyway.”

The measure would also place new labeling requirements on the cannabis industry, forcing them to place dire warnings with no scientific basis on their products, including a completely unproven claim that cannabis causes the “permanent loss of brain abilities”.

“There is a lack of scientific evidence that cannabis products containing more than 16% THC are harmful for the brain and body”, said Michele Ross, PhD – a neuroscientist and endocannabinoid expert who specializes in addiction, who first published on cannabinoids and neurogenesis in 2006 and was previously funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“High THC potency is not unsafe for children,” said Dr. Ross. “In fact, products containing more than 16% THC may be necessary for many children with chronic conditions. THC potency should be something left to the discretion of medical professionals and their patients.”

“It is not possible to die from consuming THC at any potency,” Dr. Ross continued. “Limiting THC potency does not make THC any safer, it only means consumers have to buy more product to achieve the same dosage they are accustomed to. If the aim of this initiative is to reduce consumption of THC products, it may actually have the opposite effect.”

“The aim clearly seems to be directed at the health and viability of the cannabis industry,” Dr. Ross concluded.

This amendment would end the commercial production of cannabis extracts and concentrates in a safe, controlled laboratory environment. Instead, production of these products would move into our neighborhoods and into the hands of the unregulated criminal market.

“Houses and garages are going to blow up if this passes,” said Dr. Ross.

“Colorado voted for legal cannabis. As a patient it is an integral part of our lives, and now you’re asking us to take our children’s medicine away,” concluded Ms. Linn. “We shouldn’t ever play doctor at the ballot box, and we should never propose policy that will lead to innocent people suffering.”

“Why would anyone want the right to do that?”

The Colorado Health Research Council is a coalition of cannabis patients, caregivers, scientists, cannabis industry leaders, the business community, and ordinary citizens who are organizing to defeat Amendment 139, a poorly drafted constitutional amendment that would have a devastating impact on Colorado’s cannabis patients, public safety, and economy.

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FAQ on Ballot Initiative 139

What does this Constitutional Amendment do?

This amendment restricts the potency of all retail marijuana to 16% THC or less, effectively outlawing all concentrates and extractions. This amendment would also put existing packaging and labeling requirements
into the state constitution, while forcing the industry to put false warnings on all products, such as cannabis
causes “permanent loss of brain abilities”.

What is the definition of “retail marijuana”?
All marijuana products legally sold at a retail store in the state. To read the initiative in its entirety, click here.

How will the sales of retail marijuana be affected?

BDS Analytics estimates that if the initiative passes this November, more than 80% of all cannabis products
on the shelf today would become illegal, including all concentrates and extracts. This would force the sale of these popular products back into the criminal market, undermining the intent of Amendment 64 and decimating the cannabis industry in the process.

Does this mean proposed Amendment 139 will affect medical marijuana?
Yes. This measure is so poorly drafted that it may apply to all retail cannabis sales in the state, including medical. At the very least this immediately impacts medical marijuana refugees who are not yet Colorado residents and not eligible for a card, patients under the care of their doctor who are living on a fixed income and do not have the funds to pay for their card, and veterans suffering from PTSD who are too fearful to put their name on a government list for fear of losing their federal benefits, to name just a few groups of patients who will be immediately impacted. And the devastating impacts to the cannabis industry will cause many businesses to fold, greatly reducing the overall availability of medical cannabis available for purchase at a retail location. Current patients will not be exempt from these laws.

How will proposed Amendment 139 affect the current tax revenue being collected?
Less than 20% of products currently on the market would still be legal for sale, and all extracts and concentrates would be illegal. This will decimate tax revenue, which was almost $140 million just last year. Go here to see how Colorado is currently allocating marijuana taxes from school construction, education and anti-drug efforts, bullying prevention, substance abuse treatments, Future Farms and 4H clubs, impaired- driving enforcement training for peace officers, etc. and hundreds of other programs and revenue to cities will be dramatically cut.

Who is the Colorado Health Research Council?
The Colorado Health Research Council is a coalition of cannabis patients, caregivers, scientists, cannabis industry leaders, the business community, and ordinary citizens who are organizing to defeat Amendment 139, a poorly drafted constitutional amendment that would have a devastating impact on Colorado’s cannabis patients, public safety, and economy.

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