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Jul 23, 2023

As recreational and medicinal marijuana is legalized in more and more states, the Food and Drug Administration must step in and start regulating it, much as government agencies regulate alcohol and tobacco, Robert Gebelhoff wrote in his Aug. 17 commentary, “Marijuana is getting out of hand. The federal government must step in.”

More than 5,100 readers chimed in with their thoughts. Here’s a sampling. (Comments have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.)

MikesNews: Gebelhoff makes some valid points; however, he misses a big one. I have made beer, made wine and grown pot. Growing pot is really easy and impossible to control. In various states where the price of legal marijuana has been jacked up by taxes upon taxes, people are finding it cheaper on the street or from friends.

Rudeboy256: Regulating THC content [the active ingredient in marijuana] will reduce accidental overconsumption. A good thing. There’s no way to stop intentional overconsumption. Smoking is unhealthy, and vaping probably isn’t good for you, either. Moderate consumption of edibles should be encouraged for those interested in cannabis.

mcgloin.bernie: I would suggest that people stop making or buying edibles that look like candy. This is a recipe for disaster. Even though cannabis is rarely deadly, if a toddler eats a box of edibles and ends up in critical condition or dead, there could be a major blowback that could threaten legalization. This is not worth the risk. Make edibles look like medicine, not candy.

Officer Obie: Though it is reasonable to expect some kind of product regulation as marijuana becomes more and more part of the mainstream, the concept of controlling the level of THC in the product seems a bit hypocritical given the fact that the level of alcohol in some liquor products is as high as 96 percent.

Read the column: Marijuana is getting out of hand. The federal government must step in.

manny_thome: I’m a regular smoker, and I agree there should be federal legalization, regulation and taxation. Certainly no need to disguise edibles as candy and to not study the health impacts. But if you must limit potency levels, don’t make them too low.

ZuulGirl: Mainstream citizens have been smoking pot since the 1960s, and there have been no widespread epidemics or health issues, such as occurred from smoking cigarettes, and all this has occurred with zero FDA intervention. Furthermore, if pharmaceutical companies had their way and got their greedy claws into marijuana production, they would lace it with chemicals, as the cigarette companies did with tobacco, and then we would have a widespread health crisis.

Spyote: The liquor industry is terrified. Can you grow a can of Keystone Light in your backyard? Alcohol is a much more dangerous and lethal drug. Let’s work on that.

David S. Bruce: Cannabis is about one-tenth the size of the $284 billion alcohol market, or about a third of the approximately $100 billion tobacco industry. Granted, I trust the venture-capitalist-driven executives of the new cannabis companies about as much as I trust tobacco or alcohol executives (or Elon Musk), but that’s an issue with behavior incentivized by capitalism, not the product itself.

Holly Pitt: The public health scam of marketing “medical marijuana” absent much clear medical indication for its use has imperiled huge numbers of individuals. In contrast, as the author indicates, it makes numerous common psychiatric disorders worse (anxiety disorders, psychosis, bipolar disorder, ADHD). Like alcohol, judicious recreational use is probably fine for most of us (not all of us!), but purporting to claim that marijuana “treats” medical conditions is about as responsible as making those claims for alcohol. Plus, alcohol content in beverages is regulated, whereas THC content is not. FDA oversight is desperately needed to stop the charlatans (enabled by numerous state “medical marijuana” scams) from selling this snake oil as a cure.

I live on Mars thankfully: The federal government can legalize it and admit the obvious. That will open the door to research and regulation. Without it, the weed industry will steamroll the public in pursuit of maximum profits.

Rip Van Seriously: Agree that federal policy is infantile and that there is a role for the FDA here. But given our Puritan friends in Congress, policy is unlikely to change.

Theodore S. Widlanski: The real question is whether THC products should be legalized and whether THC levels should be capped. An attendant question is whether we need more studies on THC addiction and dependence. (We do.) I’m a bit stunned (but not surprised) by the resistance people are showing to absorbing information about THC that contradicts their worldview. I say this as someone who has been advocating THC legalization for years.

SCHeat: Can the FDA actually do anything regarding the limits of THC until marijuana is removed from the Schedule 1 list? It seems as long as it’s illegal at the federal level, the FDA would have its hands tied, but I am certainly not a legal expert.

Guiwhiz: The cannabis industry’s leadership is 100 percent behind the idea of solid federal regulation of both the industry and product lines. So maybe start putting pressure where it actually belongs: the House and Senate. If they start talking common sense, the White House will not feel like removing it from the schedule is political poison.

cxgormally: The federal government chose a path to create prohibition and incarceration as a regulatory model for the past three generations. All during this unjustified policy, the FDA could have acted, studied and recommended a different pathway. The FDA has the oldest medical cannabis program — still running — that was intentionally suppressed.

I cannot fathom why we would seek FDA approval or guidance at this point in time. There’s a 10,000-year history of consumption (unregulated) of cannabis. It’s safer than tobacco consumption. There’s a marked reduction in opioid use in cannabis users. And the list goes on.

The best thing the FDA could do — which it won’t — is recommend removal of cannabis from the schedule of dangerous drugs and treat it like aspirin or other nonprescription products. Put a warning on the label, if that makes you feel better, and recommend that it is not for consumption by those under 21.

Chitown1: Don’t blame the FDA. It’s Congress that absurdly put marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance.

Betsy7: Let’s take constructive steps to control marijuana, just as we do other substances. Step 1, as indicated here, is to legalize it nationally. The current system of states forging ahead to reap the financial benefits of legal marijuana is absurd. There needs to be a national standard that says marijuana use is legal but regulated. More research into dangers and benefits would also help. We tried making alcohol illegal and it was catastrophic. Lesson learned? Apparently not.

People have emotional reactions to marijuana. Some love it, and some hate it. It either represents personal liberty or total debauchery. Both reactions get manipulated to influence public opinion. We can and should do better.

Air Force brat: Virginia is a perfect example of inconsistent regulations. If you have a prescription and license, you can buy cannabis at a dispensary. If you are an adult and don’t have a prescription and license you can still use and possess cannabis, but you can’t legally buy it. I’ve seen THC levels up to 23 percent but not higher than that even in tinctures at the dispensaries in Richmond. I’d like to see cannabis handled like alcohol, taxed and regulated. Ensure we are getting what we paid for, and use the taxes for education and regulation. I’m not saying cannabis is benign, but my family has experienced a great number of deaths from alcohol and tobacco — both legal substances that are causing much more harm than cannabis.

Andy Riggs: I wouldn’t support a THC cap. Both high and low THC has its place and purpose. As with most things, marijuana needs to be approached with education and personal experience. Go to a good dispensary with good budtenders and talk with them about the whats and whys. Look at the growers’ data sheets and testing certifications if you want. The last thing marijuana needs is regulation by people who don’t understand it.

ArlingMay: Decriminalizing it has been a good idea. Letting it remain a largely unregulated product is a bad idea. Alcohol and its contents are pretty well-regulated, including labels, limits on sales at certain times and venues, limits on proof, etc. And “whataboutism” on things like vitamins doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to have pot unregulated.