Marijuana and other products containing THC, the plant’s main psychoactive ingredient, have grown more potent and more dangerous as legalization has made them more widely available.
Although decades ago the THC content of weed was commonly less than 1.5%, some products on the market today are more than 90% THC.
The buzz of yesteryear has given way to something more alarming. Marijuana-related medical emergencies have landed hundreds of thousands of people in the hospital and millions are dealing with psychological disorders linked to cannabis use, according to federal research.
But regulators have failed to keep up.
Among states that allow the sale and use of marijuana and its derivatives, consumer protections are spotty.
“In many states the products come with a warning label and potentially no other activity by regulators,” said Cassin Coleman, vice chair of the scientific advisory committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association.
The federal government has generally taken a hands-off approach. It still bans marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance — as a drug with no accepted medical use and a high chance of abuse — under the Controlled Substances Act. But when it comes to cannabis sales, which many states have legalized, the federal government does not regulate attributes like purity or potency.
The FDA “has basically sat on its hands and failed to honor its duty to protect the public health,” said Eric Lindblom, a scholar at Georgetown Unive …
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