As lawmakers at the federal level are considering proposals to legalize marijuana across the country, new state laws are causing confusion and adding more uncertainty for consumers. Minnesota has become the latest cautionary tale for lawmakers struggling to deal with the runaway market in consumer cannabis or hemp products.
A Minnesota law went into effect this month allowing adults to purchase edibles and beverages containing up to 5mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per serving. THC is the psychoactive component in marijuana, and while there is a lack of data on the side effects, drug-to-drug interactions, etc., what is known about current cannabis products is cause for concern.
Cannabinoid products on retail shelves today are not scientifically tested or regulated and are often mislabeled, posing serious health risks. A recent study on cannabis consumer products found several mislabeling issues, with some synthetic products – including delta-8 and delta-9 THC – containing 7700 percent over the legal limit. And recent testing conducted by a local CBS affiliate in Minnesota found several mislabeling issues with cannabis products on the market. Despite these challenges, the Minnesota law was rushed through without a comprehensive regulatory framework or a clear plan for enforcement.
The new law is raising questions and uncertainty, and some Minnesota lawmakers are expressing concerns that these products could be attractive to children. Cannabis consumers are nearly 25% more likely to need emergency care and hospitalization – even when they may be using products as directed. The Minnesota law does not protect consumers from harm, since it does not require manufacturers to warn consumers that the product may be intoxicating.
Lack of scientific testing, minimal federal oversight, and a myriad of inconsistent state laws without sufficient resource for enforcement create confusion among consumers and cannabis businesses alike. While the FDA and CDC continue to issue warnings about health risks, more needs to be done.
The FDA should act quickly to exercise its existing authority, step in, and regulate to protect public health and consumer safety now. Additionally, as federal lawmakers consider legislating in this space, it is critical that they be mindful of FDA’s authority and support FDA’s ability to regulate.