Minnesotans Against Marijuana Legalization (MAML)today urged Governor Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison and the State Legislature to take the necessary steps to address the dangers of the law that legalizes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in certain edibles and beverages.
MAML recommends the following three steps:
First, AG Ellison should take the necessary legal action to suspend sales of all THC products that are packaged in ways that mimic other non-THC products. The recent experience with THC gummies being distributed in Two Harbors and causing two children to be sent to a hospital emergency room illustrates the danger of THC infused products that look like candy. THC products should be packaged in a child- proof way that makes it obvious that the product is not a normal consumer candy or product.
Second, Governor Walz and the administration should immediately establish a public education campaign that informs the public of the risks associated with the new law. This should include clear information for parents and educators about the possession by minors loophole in the law, the poisoning risk associated with consumption by children, and general awareness education about the impairment risk from THC edibles for employees, employers, drivers and first responders.
Third, legislative action must be taken next session. The best legislative fix is to repeal the existing law and pass a bill that sets standards for THC-containing products through a normal public process where all the safety issues can be discussed and addressed. If the Legislature and or Governor are not willing to repeal the law, the law must be significantly amended. Under the current law, the safety of children, drivers and other road users, and employees and employers is compromised because the legislation was rushed through an end-of-session negotiation without a full vetting of its serious negative consequences. The public safety and public health harms are well known from the use of products that contain intoxicating levels of THC. We know this because of the data that is constantly emerging from other states that have already allowed THC to be commercialized.
The following issues should have been part of the public policy debate last session, are just cause to repeal the law, or at a minimum, need to be addressed in either a special session or the 2023 Minnesota Legislative Session:
Warning Labels - There is no requirement for warning labels on these products declaring THC to be a danger to a user’s mental health and having an adverse effect on judgement and physical coordination. Such warning labels are required on alcohol and tobacco products because of their risks.
Testing Requirements - There are no testing requirements to determine the potency and mixture of the THC isomers contained in the product or regulation on which establishments are eligible to sell the product so that inspectors can examine a defined universe of retailers.
Sales Restrictions - No consideration was given to the time of day that THC edibles can be sold or how old one needs to be to sell them, unlike the regulation of alcohol and other addictive and impairing substances.
Public Education - Legislators failed to consider a broad well-funded education program to help citizens understand the different effects of cannabidiol, delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC, and delta-10 THC. This includes educating employers on the impacts and options for dealing with THC impairment in the workplace.
Children and Pregnancy Risk Education – There was no requirement for a specific preventive educational program that informs of the harms to the developing brain of the fetus due to use during pregnancy, and a program for school age children about the potential harms of THC edibles.
Quantity Limitations - There are no limitations on the quantity of individual purchases to mitigate binge use, over-consumption, and large-scale diversion to non-purchasers. Quantity limitations are common in other states who have adopted some forms of legal THC.
Regulatory Responsibility – No regulatory authority or responsibilities were identified in the bill as passed. The regulatory authority, the scope and range of the authority and the interaction of state level authority with local authorities need to be defined to manage the safe and lawful sale and consumption of THC containing products.
True Cost Assessment - There is no directive to review the amount of taxes raised from THC sales and the sum of losses from the likely increase in mental health and substance use service needs, traffic and roadway injuries and deaths, and from the detrimental effects on student learning and workplace performance. There is no portion of the taxes from the sales dedicated to recouping the public costs to the state, counties and cities for these events and the increased need for treatment of cannabis use disorder plus other law enforcement involvement.
Collateral Impacts - The was no public consideration of the unintended consequences and costs, including the number of suspensions of high school students due to cannabis use, the number of citizens treated for psychosis, depression and anxiety as related to THC use, and the proliferation of THC byproducts or substitutes, which may be toxic.
Disparities Assessment - There is no mechanism to assess the differences in the disparities of harm across communities and demographic groups. Limited and rushed public and legislative debate leading to a bill without common-sense safety measures is wrong, unsafe and not the Minnesota way. We have the ability to make this better. We urge Governor Walz, Attorney General Ellison and the Minnesota Legislature to act now to suspend dangerous sales, educate the public and to fix this flawed legislation. ###
Minnesotans Against Marijuana Legalization (MAML) is a coalition to prevent legalization of recreational marijuana in Minnesota. We believe recreational marijuana should not be legalized in Minnesota without considering the negative impacts that such a policy will have on our roads, workplaces, communities, and homes, and without providing the statutory, technical and financial resources needed to address the negative impacts.
· Insurance Federation of Minnesota
· Midwest Food Products Association
· Minnesota Beverage Association
· Minnesota Catholic Conference
· Minnesota Food Products Association
· Minnesota Charter Bus Operators Association
· Minnesota Police & Peace Officers Association
· Minnesota Professional Towing Association
· Minnesota Propane Association
· Minnesota Safety Council
· Minnesota School Bus Operators Association
· Minnesota Sheriff’s Association
· Minnesota Trucking Association
· Minnesota Utility Contractors Association
· Smart Approaches to Marijuana Minnesota