One of the bills that will establish the rules for Vermont’s adult use cannabis market is headed to conference committee, after the state House amended the bill to include a 60% THC cap on solid concentrates.
“At this moment in time, we’re in the ninth inning,” said Pizzutillo. “Unfortunately this 60% THC cap on solid concentrates, is going to have a significant impact on our market.”
The House passed the amendment on May 6, ahead of passing the entire amended bill. The amendment came out of a May 5 hearing before the House’s Government Operations Committee in which Jill Sudhoff-Guerin represented the Vermont Medical Society in praising the potency cap.
“On behalf of the medical community, we support your retaining the 60% potency cap for products that are sold to any consumers,” she said. “Potency limits are really a step that will help protect public health. What we’re seeing in states that have the legal market, is that the risk of physical dependence and addiction increases with exposure to the higher concentration of THC and those are actually producing adverse mental health impacts and also physical health impacts.”
Although no members of the Vermont Growers Association were invited to participate in the House’s committee hearing, Pizzutillo did speak out against the amendment in a May 9 press release.
“Cannabis concentrates that test above 60% THC is [sic] currently widely produced, sold, and consumed in Vermont, behavior that won’t change anytime soon, and Vermont’s regulated market should reflect that reality,” he wrote.
Sudfoss-Guerin dismissed the argument that removing the THC cap would help combat the underground market.
“In Colorado and in California where they’ve had legal markets, and they really haven’t eliminated the black market yet,” she said.
Sudhoff-Guerin also dismissed concerns that the concentrate cap would hinder the growth of Vermont’s legal cannabis market.
“I don’t think the average user wants something that is over 60%,” said Sudhoff-Guerin. “It’s like rocket fuel.”
The Vermont Medical Society previously lobbied the state’s Cannabis Control Board to consider a 15% THC cap on flower, instead of the current 30% cap, which the board declined.
“While the Board considered the public health concerns raised by the Vermont Medical Society, the CCB must contend with the fact that high THC cannabis makes up the majority of products sold in the medical cannabis and illicit marketplaces,” said the CCB’s official response to the demand in a Dec. 2021 statement. “Lowering the THC cap to 15% would merely perpetuate the unregulated market and force consumers to purchase untested, potentially contaminated products.”
With the passage of the amended bill in the House, the legislature must now find a compromise between the House and Senate versions through a conference committee.
The Senate appointed Senators Jeanette White, Christopher Pearson, and Dick Sears to the joint conference committee on May 6. The House appointed its own members, Reps. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, John Gannon and Harold Colston.
“We think it’s going to go quick and fast. So we won’t be surprised if it happens by the end of this week,” said Pizzutillo.