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Denver nonprofit creates campaign to warn students, parents about dangers of high-potency THC

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Posted at 8:14 PM, Sep 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-10 14:16:19-04

DENVER — A Denver ballot initiative that would've raised marijuana taxes to fund after-school programs has been pulled from the November ballot. Now that school is back in session, a local nonprofit is preparing to launch a campaign warning parents and kids about the dangers of high-potency THC.

It's been nearly 10 years since recreational marijuana became legal in the state of Colorado, and since then, parents like Diane Carlson have been working tirelessly to make sure kids and teens across the state are safe.

Carlson is the co-founder and policy director of One Chance to Grow Up, a Denver nonprofit focused on keeping kids safe from marijuana commercialization. She says she's excited to get a new campaign front and center, warning people about the dangers of marijuana concentrate.

“Kids are dabbing products, and it's been very confusing around any harms of marijuana and what people are talking about,” she said.

Carlson says confusion is another driver for getting this campaign out in the open. Since the passage of House Bill 21-1317 last year, and new changes put into place this year, she says there's been a lot of controversy on both sides of the aisle.

House Bill 21-1317 created a scientific review council to examine the effects of high-potency THC on the developing brain and mental health. It also changed the daily concentrate limit for medical cannabis patients from 40 grams a day to eight, which aligns with what customers are allowed to get on the recreational side. Patients between the ages of 18 and 20 are capped at two grams of concentrate a day, and dispensary owners must track those transactions.

Dispensaries must also provide customers with an educational pamphlet about THC concentrates. It's the pamphlet Carlson says parents and kids need to read.

“Those include that the marijuana concentrate may lead to psychotic symptoms and/or psychotic disorders, delusions, hallucinations, and difficulty distinguishing reality,” said Carlson.

The pamphlet notes that marijuana concentrates are not recommended for anyone under the age of 25 unless it's recommended by a doctor. It also states that people under 25 may be at greater risk of potential harm because the brain isn't fully developed.

Cannabis advocate and consultant Melanie Brinegar thinks getting this message out in the open is key.

“I think creating awareness, especially for teenagers because they're so curious, is important,” she said.

However, Brinegar says on the flip side, some people — even kids and teens — might need higher concentrated THC to help with a medical condition.

“There’s a very small majority of who are under the age of 18 using it for medical use,” said Brinegar. She used the example of a previous patient who used THC to suppress seizures.

Brinegar says it all comes down to talking to your kids.

“I think it's just a matter of parents educating their children, not demonize them, but just relate to them,” she said. “I just think it's important to keep the conversation open and not one-sided.”

Carlson says the mostly digital campaign will launch statewide Monday and run for as long as they see fit.

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