TRENTON – With one notable exception, a parade of doctors, patients and lawyers urged the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission not to impose strict limits, or maybe even any limits at all, on the potency of concentrates and edibles that will be sold in New Jersey marijuana dispensaries.

Medical edibles and vapes are now allowed in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, capped at a strength of 350 milligrams of THC, the chemical that gives people the feeling of being high. There should be no cap and all products available going forward, said patient Robert Devine.

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“All this makes patients do is pay more for their medicine, take a few more hits of that vapor cartridges or take a few extra lozenges,” Devine said.

Zachary Windham, an attorney at Ansell Grimm & Aaron, said restrictions on products would prop up the unregulated market. That would mean some would continue to only buy from the black market.

“The path of least resistance from a consumer standpoint would be to purchase all of their cannabis products from the unregulated supplier, who could provide them with a wider variety of product types,” Windham said.

Chirali Patel, an attorney and founder of the organization Blaze Responsibly, said some patients need access to high-potency cannabis products.

“It’s no different than allowing high-proof alcohol,” Patel said. “As a society, we need to recognize that bad actors exist, and we can’t control bad behavior. We can only limit in the exposure.”

A contrary viewpoint was expressed by research scientist Beatriz Carlini of the University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute. She urged New Jersey to limit high-potency products from being sold for recreational use because it leads to more harms, such as psychotic disorders in some people or dependence.

“High-potency THC products used frequently are much more likely to hook people up and make it hard to give up on cannabis if they wanted to do so,” Carlini said. “And I know there is a myth long debunked that cannabis cannot make people addicted. In fact, it can.”

Washington, D.C.-area Dr. Mikhail Kogan said it’s “a waste of time and effort” to try to limit dosing percentages. Focus instead on clear labeling, child-protective bottling and tested, safe products, he said.

“If somebody wants to recreationally take very high dose, whether you have 5 mg, 25 mg or 50 mg, they’ll find a way to do,” Kogan said. “They’ll simply take more.”

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Evan Manaresi of Tuckerton, who intends to seek a microbusiness license as owner of Bass River Buds, said marijuana isn’t something to be feared.

“Let’s focus on sensible education and increased understanding, so people can learn how to interact with cannabis in ways that positively impact their lives rather than more prohibition and statutory limits,” Manaresi said.

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