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Bill filed to cap THC levels in Illinois cannabis products

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 After a record number of calls to the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) in 2021 related to cannabis, legislation has been filed at the Statehouse to limit the potency of some products sold at cannabis dispensaries.

For the bill sponsor, Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, he says the bill isn't likely to pass as written, but he wanted to file it before the Jan. 28 deadline on behalf of the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS), a non-profit association of healthcare professionals.

Batinick says the request from the ISMS is in response to a recent rise in cannabis-related calls to the IPC since 2019, when 487 cases were reported. In 2020, there were 743 cases and in 2021 there were 855 cases.

In 2019, there were 81 cannabis-related IPC cases that involved children ages five and younger. In 2020, there were 202 cases. By 2021, the number increased to 278 cases, representing a 243% increase from 2019.

The IPC credits the majority of this rise to edibles, or consumable marijuana, and says 40% of their cases involving children and gummy edibles involve hospitalization.

As written, the bill would limit the mind-altering part of marijuana, THC, to 10% for cannabis flower and 15% for concentrates and infused products sold in dispensaries.

"We don't know if this is exactly what it needs to be, but we need to do something, and every bill has to start with something," Batinick said.

"It has started a conversation, and dispensary owners, supporters of cannabis have actually reached out with alternative ways that actually may be better to solve the problem."

Batinick says his goal of starting a conversation around the problem has now started, and he believes education and awareness may be the best strategy to combat the issue. It's a strategy that the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CBAIL) agrees with.

"I think the discussion really has to be broader than just that. It has to be about exactly what the situation was, and how those children got their hands on that product," CBAIL Executive Director Pam Althoff said.

Althoff says the other issue is that some of the products causing the increase in calls may be high-potency CBD products widely found in gas stations and drug stores, and that further discussion around the reported numbers from IPC is needed.

In a statement, the Illinois State Medical Society said: “At the direction of our membership, ISMS requested this legislation be introduced. However, we know it faces an uphill battle.”

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