California may put mental health warning on pot products

Pot leaves on a brain stock image.
Photo credit Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – Later this month, members of the California state assembly committee will meet to discuss a bill that would require new labels on cannabis products regarding mental health risks and more. The bill has already passed the state Senate.

According to the bill text, part of the reason why the legislation was introduced was to mitigate certain health harms associated with cannabis use, including: psychosis, schizophrenia, suicidal ideation, anxiety, loss of concentration and risks to developing brains.

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California is one of the 19 states where adult use recreational cannabis has been legalized. Since it became legal there in 2016, cannabis use increased for minors ages 12 to 17, according to data cited by the bill.

According to state hospital data cited by NPR, emergency room visits for cannabis-induced psychosis went up 54% across the state – from 682 to 1,053 – in the three years after adult use recreational cannabis was legalized.

Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a psychiatry professor at Yale University School of Medicine, said he thinks commercialization and an increase in the percentage of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in cannabis in recent years could contribute to an uptick in psychosis incidents related to the drug.

According to a study from 2016, THC in illicit cannabis plant material had consistently risen over time from approximately 4% in 1995 to approximately 12% in 2014.

If it officially becomes law, SB 1097 would require all cannabis products “to include a warning label that covers at least 1/3 of the front or principal face of a product, is in the largest type possible for the area, is bright yellow, and includes a pictorial or graphic element, as specified, and one of a series of warnings,” along with the creation of an informational brochure and warnings for advertisements and media, with provisions for updating the warnings every five years.

“They’re just not going to pay attention,” said Liz Kirkaldie, a woman with a grandson who experienced mental health episodes associated with cannabis use. She is a bit skeptical of how helpful the proposed legislation could help, according to NPR. “But if it helps even one person? Great,” she added.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images