Pot Packaging Tricks Children, Kills 2 Adults

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There’s a huge business behind pushing cookies, candies and other edible forms of marijuana, considered to be safer than smoked or vaporized pot.  The fact is that these products take longer to have an effect, often leading people to ingest larger amounts to get their “high.”   When it comes children, though, they often think it’s just candy.

Marijuana-infused foods are one of many failures in Colorado’s experiment with legal marijuana.  In only four months, candy and cookies laced with marijuana are behind the deaths of at least two adults in Denver, and at least 26 hospital emergency room visits this year.   The money-hungry pot industry is one reason why these urgent problems might not get resolved before the Colorado legislature adjourns in a few days.

There are about 50 food manufacturers in Colorado which make the products containing marijuana.  With names like Healthy Foods, Natural Choice and Nature’s Garden, they’re allowed to have up to 10 mg. of THC to transmit pot.

Two bills dealing with edibles that quickly passed the Colorado House of Representatives are now hung up in the Senate.  The Marijuana Enforcement Division in the Colorado Department of Revenue has a working group which met nearly four hours on April 30th.  

Other candy products have resembled the Reese's Peanut Butter cups and packing is confusing.  Photo courtesy of SmartColorado.org

Other candy products have resembled the Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and packages don’t help. Photos courtesy of SmartColorado.org

In Colorado, the edibles 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.  The system has not prevented two deaths, because the cookies and candies are actually meant to be divided into 5 to 10 servings, not eaten all at once.  

Erie Police Chief Marco Vasquez, who represents the Colorado Association of Police Chiefs on the working group, has called for suspending edibles.

On the other hand, health experts suggest 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.”

THC is the tetrahydrocannabinol, the ingredient which produces a high.   Smoked marijuana goes into the brain right away, while those who eat the products may not realize the THC is their system, and they keep eating.  Overdosing has not been a problem for consumers who smoke their weed the old-fashioned way, because its effects are immediate.

Meanwhile, with only five days to go before the scheduled adjournment of the Colorado Legislature, two House-passed bills dealing with edibles, HB 14-1661 and HB 14-1366, are stalled 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 14-1366 to require child-proof packaging techniques, moved quickly through House, but might not beat the clock in the Senate.  The marijuana industry is threatening the state if it becomes difficult or the food market will go underground, but you would hope they’d apply some ethics after realizing how the products have fooled children and killed two people, in only four months. 

When marijuana sales become legal in Washington in July, the state plans to allow up to 10 milligrams of THC in edibles, according to regulations crafted by the state liquor board.  Let’s hope they see the flaws in Colorado and reconsider these rules before it’s too late.


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