Labels may be required on pottery products in California to warn of mental health risks

Liz Kirkald’s grandson was at the top of her class in high school and was a talented jazz bassist when she started smoking. He is as serious about music as he is about pots.

And the more serious he became about pottery, the more paranoid, even psychotic. He began to hear voices.

“They were going to kill him and people were coming there to eat his brain. Strange, weird thing, “Kircaldi said.” I woke up one morning, Corey was nowhere to be seen.

Corey moved to Napa, California with his grandmother for a few years. She thought maybe she would help. Now, he said that was innocent.

Corey was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Kirkald blames the pot.

“Drug use has activated psychosis, which I really think,” he said.

Indeed, many scientific studies have linked marijuana use to the risk of developing mental illness, including schizophrenia. According to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry in 2019, those who use high-potency cannabis are four times more at risk than those who have never used it. Schizophrenia by 10%.

California doctors and lawmakers want cannabis producers to warn consumers about this and other health risks in their packaging labels and advertisements such as cigarette requirements. They also want vendors to distribute health brochures to first-time customers, outlining the risk of marijuana for young people, drivers and those who are pregnant, especially for containers with a high concentration of the chemical THC, primarily responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana.

“Today’s turbocharged products are turbocharging cannabis-related harms,” said Dr. Lynn Silver with the Institute of Public Health, a nonprofit sponsor of the proposed labeling law, SB 1097, the Cannabis Right to No Act.

Californians voted in 2016 to legalize recreational pottery. Three years later, emergency room visits for marijuana-induced psychosis increased 54% across the state, from 682 to 1,053, according to state hospital data. For those who already have a mental illness, marijuana makes things worse – leading to more ER visits, more hospitalizations and more legal problems, says Dr. Deepak Cyril D’Souza, a psychiatrist at Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut. Advisory Board of Physicians for the Medical Marijuana Program.

But D’Souza has had a hard time explaining the dangers to his patients, especially since 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis.

“My patients with schizophrenia and adolescents hear very conflicting messages that it is legal; In fact, it may have medical uses, ”he said. “If there is medical use, how can we say there is something wrong with it?”

Legalization is not the problem, he said; Rather, it is the commercialization of cannabis – heavy marketing, which can be created to attract young people to become lifelong consumers, and in today’s varieties THC increases from an average of 4% to 20% to 35%.

Limiting the amount of THC in pot products and health precautions on labels can help reduce the health damage associated with cannabis use, D’Souza said, adding that these methods worked similarly for cigarettes.

He credited warning labels, education campaigns and marketing restrictions for the sharp decline in smoking rates among children and adolescents over the past decade.

“We know how to give them the message,” D’Souza said. “But I don’t think we still have the will or the resources.”

Some states, including Colorado, Oregon and New York, have doubled their cannabis warning-label requirements. The proposed California rules are based on a broad protocol established in Canada: Rotating health alerts will be set on a bright-yellow background, use the black 12-point type, and take the front one-third of the package. The bill proposes language for 10 distinct warnings.

Opponents of the proposed label say the requirements are excessive and costly, especially since child marketing is already banned in California and people must be 21 to buy.

Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, said, “This bill really puts an unnecessary burden on the duplicate and legal cannabis industry, because we already have incredibly limited packaging and advertising requirements.”

He said the state should pay more attention to the fight against the illegal pot market instead of further regulating the law. Legal dispensaries are already struggling to keep up with existing rules and taxes – the state’s 1,500 licensed container retailers earned $ 1.3 billion in state tax revenue last year. Adding more requirements makes it harder for them to compete with the illegal market, he said, and more likely to go out of business.

“If they fail outside of the legal system, the only real option is to shut down their business altogether or operate underground. And I don’t think the state of California, including tax revenue, wants one of those things to happen, “Robinson said. “The focus of the issue is that the state has a huge, unregulated market.”

Some people are skeptical that labels will work. Liz Kirkald’s grandson, Corey, now stable, lives with her father. But he’s not sure if a yellow alert would stop him when he was a teenager.

“They’re just not going to pay attention,” he said. “But what if it helps anyone? That’s great. “

Scientists still don’t know what causes schizophrenia, but they do believe that multiple factors are at work, including genetics, family history, trauma, and other effects on a person’s environment, such as smoking cans. Some scientists believe that people with schizophrenia in the first place are persuaded to smoke. While it is difficult to prove a direct link between marijuana use and schizophrenia, associations are strong enough to take action, D’Souza said, and importantly, pot use is one of the few risk factors that people can control.

“Not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer, and not everyone with lung cancer smokes,” he said. “But I think we all agree that one of the most preventable causes of lung cancer is cigarette smoking.”

Applying the same health education strategy to cannabis using tobacco, he said, is long-term.

This story is part of a partnership that includes KQED, NPR and KHN.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that creates in-depth journalism about health issues. KHN is one of the three major operating programs of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), including policy analysis and polling. KFF is a non-profit organization that provides health information to the nation.

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