>Suggestions are being made in Colorado for immediate drastic action over the sale of marijuana-infused food. However, it now seems that any changes in the regulation of so-called “edibles” will be slow and deliberate ones.
Possible push-back by the state’s new cash-infused marijuana industry may be why two bills dealing with edibles that quickly passed the Colorado House of Representatives are now hung up in the Senate. And the all-powerful Marijuana Enforcement Division in the Colorado Department of Revenue has geared up a working group in advance of its own eventual rule-making process.
That group met for the first time on Wednesday for almost four hours. Members heard suggestions for suspending all edible sales until dosage and serving size issues can be resolved and another proposal for immediately cutting serving-size dosages in half.
The call for suspending sales of edibles came from Erie Police Chief Marco Vasquez, who represents the Colorado Association of Police Chiefs on the working group. Health experts advanced cutting the serving-size dosage to 5 milligrams (mg) of THC, half of the current limit of 10 mg. They said it would go well with a public education campaign, especially for visitors to the state, that, with edibles, it is best to “start low and go slow.”
The dosage limit question may have legs beyond Colorado.
The chief’s call for suspending sales came at the same time that health experts on the panel suggested cutting the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) limit per serving in half, a proposal that is unlikely to be embraced by Colorado’s all-cash marijuana industry. (Federal regulations prevent marijuana businesses from using banks.)
THC is the principal psychoactive agent in marijuana. Both Colorado and Washington state, which begins sales of recreational marijuana in July, currently have a 10-mg serving size limit, with a maximum of 10 servings per package. Marijuana-infused food in the Evergreen State falls under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
Meanwhile, with only five days to go before the scheduled adjournment of the Colorado Legislature, there is no sign of any movement for two House-passed bills dealing with edibles. Both House Bill 14-1661 and HB 14-1366 are hung up in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Both measures, HB 14-1661 for equivalencies for when the marijuana flower is made into other products such as hash oil, and HB 14-1666 to require more child-proof packaging techniques, moved quickly through House, but might not beat the clock in the Senate.
Edibles are turning out to be the ding in the “Colorado Model,” which is how state officials refer to the regulatory package that enabled recreational marijuana sales to begin on Jan. 1 of this year. Overdosing has not been a problem for consumers who smoke their weed the old-fashioned way.
The marijuana-infused food business is another story. Candy and cookies laced with marijuana’s intoxicating agent THC are being blamed for emergency room visits by children and are connected to the deaths of at least two adults.
About 50 food manufacturers have popped up in Colorado just to make food products containing marijuana. With names such as Healthy Foods, Natural Choice and Nature’s Garden, they are making some high-octane food products to transmit marijuana.
Under current rules, edibles in Colorado must be sold in opaque packaging with child warning labels, and cannabis cannot be injected into off-the-shelf products such as branded candy bars. In the new working group, the industry is warning the state not to make it too difficult or the food market will go underground.
Public health officials said there is no existing research based on food. Pills are typically used in marijuana dosage studies.