Is unregulated cannabis safe? Finding out poses health risks

This commentary is provided by the Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) of Florida A&M University

STATEWIDE — Two longtime Florida law enforcement officers, now retired, said people are taking a chance with their health and safety when using unregulated marijuana.

“When you get unregulated marijuana, you never know what you’re getting,” said Lesley “Trey” Miller III, who recently retired after 25 years with the Tampa Police Department as a detective and sergeant in the narcotics unit.

Unregulated marijuana, adds Ken Vila, could be contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals or laced with heroin, cocaine or the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Vila, who retired recently after more than 30 years with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, now serves as Florida’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education statewide facilitator.

Recreational marijuana is illegal in Florida, unlike the regulated and legal medical cannabis by state law. But that could change in November if 60 percent of voters approve a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow adults 21 and over to “possess, purchase, or use” up to three ounces of marijuana products.

The increased use of cannabis-infused edibles is also a concern for Miller and Vila. Unregulated but still legal gummies and chocolates, especially those infused with Delta-8 THC, are another growing concern as they are packaged to look like candy. The FDA has issued a warning and cited multiple media reports about “children and adults who accidentally consumed copycat edible products containing THC and experienced adverse events.”

 Visit to watch MMERI’s Conversations on Cannabis Virtual Forum featuring retired law enforcement officers Lesley “Trey” Miller III and Ken Vila talk about “The Dangers of Unregulated Cannabis Use.”

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