Sabrina Elliot
Ryan Alexander-Tanner

I HAVE BRUISES on my face this week. (No, not from Fight Club, which I really shouldn't even be talking about.) These bruises are from slapping my forehead repeatedly as I read what's up in the world of weed. Much as I have trouble comprehending anyone voting for a micro-fingered, angry tangerine wigman, I cannot grasp the logic behind some of the proposals that are happening in Colorado.

In the Centennial State, a (surprise!) Republican state representative has proposed a ballot initiative and amendment to a bill that would limit potency of "marijuana and marijuana products" to 15 or 16 percent. As a frame of reference, a Colorado Department of Revenue study states that the average potency for flower is 17.1 percent THC, and 62.1 percent for extracts.

Here's the well-thought-out logic behind this move: "All the studies that have been done on THC levels have been done on THC levels between 2 and 8 percent," says Colorado State Representative Kathleen Conti. "Most of the marijuana coming in now, the flowers are being rated at a THC count of about 17 percent on average, so this is dramatically over, and we really don't know that we've gotten the true feel on the health risks associated with that marijuana."

The changes would amend the state constitution, and only apply to recreational purchases, with medical cannabis being left as it presently stands. It would also define a "single-serving amount" to be 10 milligrams of THC.

But wait, because this offer now comes with an extra serving of hysteria! According to the Cannabist, all retail marijuana products would be required to have new labels, which would list "identified health risks," including "birth defects and reduced brain development," risks to the brain and behavioral development of babies, breathing difficulties, "permanent loss of abilities," mood swings, impaired thinking and body movement, depression, temporary paranoia, anxiety, and "potential for long-term addiction."

The second change would also apply to retail dispensaries, banning them from selling "marijuana and marijuana products" with a potency of greater than 15 percent. Violators could face suspension or loss of license, and a maximum fine of $100,000. Finally, it would force retailers to get really, really good at having their products tested, as the new regulation would require them to accurately report potency by plus or minus 5 percent.

There's not enough space in this newspaper for my arguments about why this is all sorts of fucked up, but let's scratch the surface, at least:

Cannabis is a plant. Plants grow, and if tended to properly, produce cannabis flowers with varying levels of THC. With some very, very rare exceptions, you want your cannabis flower to test as high as possible. Not so you have bragging rights, but because a plant higher in THC allows the user to consume less of it to obtain the same effects as consuming a plant with lower THC amounts.

Who benefits from lower THC amounts? I'll hazard a wild guess, and say the entity that collects taxes. Weaker product drives people to purchase more product, which in turn raises more taxes.

I'm unclear what "permanent loss of abilities" entails. I've just about permanently lost my ability to listen to the trash talk put forth by prohibitionist politicians. Does that qualify?

The range of THC in a single plant can vary. Those flowers at the top of the plant, all fat, thick and crystalline? Those are going to test higher in THC than the airy popcorn buds on the bottom of the plant, which receive less light. So that plus/minus 5 percent potency thing is going to be tough on a dispensary owner who buys a pound that may have a mixture of smaller and larger buds.

Will these rules be applied to alcohol as well? Ever had a 3 percent alcohol beer in Salt Lake City? What do you mean, you didn't care for it, you are a responsible adult, and you don't need elected officials reducing alcohol content in your taxed and regulated intoxicant?

Oregon, heads up. This sort of stupidity can cross state lines faster than bird flu.