Our View: Edibles popularity fuels talk of new regulations

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As more and more people choose to eat recreational marijuana rather than smoke it, there are increasing reports of individuals getting sick or experiencing severe side effects after eating too much pot too quickly. And according to a recent report from The Associated Press, there have been two deaths linked to edible marijuana in Colorado since Jan. 1, when the sale of recreational pot became legal in the state.

In response, the state has assembled a new task force of lawmakers and industry leaders who now are re-examining regulations related to edibles to see if new guidelines can be enacted to curb the problem of unintentional overconsumption.

Edible is a term used to describe marijuana that has been concentrated and infused into food or drink products. Because tetrahydroncannabinol, the primary intoxicant in marijuana, takes longer to reach the brain when the chemical is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract rather than the lungs, it makes sense that edibles can create dose-control problems and an increase in negative side effects, especially for new or inexperienced users.

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado is a national experiment, and as such, constant and consistent scrutiny of the state’s laws governing the new industry is expected and necessary. As edible marijuana products become a more popular way to indulge in recreational pot, additional rules to ensure safe and responsible consumption are needed.

Currently, the state limits the amount of THC in edible pot products to 10 mg per serving with as many as 10 servings allowed per package, which means a small piece of candy could contain a maximum of 100 mg of THC. Identifying exact potency in products remains somewhat of a puzzle because the quality and strength of marijuana varies widely, but a general industry rule of thumb equates 10 mg of THC with a medium-sized joint.

The limits on THC in edible pot products seem reasonable, but different, more detailed packaging is definitely needed. As one member of the new task force stated, “We need to make it easy for the consumer to understand what the product is that they’re taking to ensure their safety.”

Some of the ideas currently being discussed include requiring edible products to be easily broken into 10 mg pieces like a perforated chocolate bar, mandating that edibles only be sold in individually wrapped single-dose servings of 10 mg or less or incorporating a new labeling system that labels the potency of edible products like ski mountains rate their slopes — green dots for less potent products and black diamonds for products containing higher levels of THC.

All of these ideas have some merit, and like alcohol, the marijuana industry should be required to provide clearly labeled products that help consumers make educated decisions on responsible use. Now that recreational pot is legal, it’s vitally important that products are packaged with warning labels and recommended dosages for the health and safety of consumers.

We’d also like to see better testing of marijuana products to ensure correct packaging. This testing needs to be done in a certified laboratory through an independent regulatory agency like the FDA.

There also is an argument to be made for marijuana industry leaders to launch an educational campaign about the differences of smoking pot and consuming edible products. The information could be delivered in a clever ad campaign aimed at tourists or first-time users.

Ultimately, it falls back on individual responsibility. Those who choose to use recreational marijuana need to educate themselves on its effects and exercise control to protect themselves and others.

Comments

Thomss Steele 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The Nanny State to the rescue once again... Where would we be if we didn't have these brave souls looking out for us and telling us how to live... Thank you, thank you!

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Scott Wedel 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Though, edibles regulations is not nanny state preventing people from doing what they want. The regulations are so that consumers have better knowledge of what they are consuming.

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Cresean Sterne 6 months, 3 weeks ago

When candy infused with marijuana looks like sour patch kids that should have been a red flag from the beginning. Camel Joe was taken off the cig box for this reason. I bet the state makes some pretty strong changes to MIP in the near future before the Federal Gov gets involved.

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bill schurman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Hopefully the edibles will be marked and packaged the same as alcohol content is on the bottle/can. It just makes common sense.

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Scott Wedel 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Cresean,

I have some sympathy for MIP (medically infused products) being in easy to digest forms such as in a candy because some medical mj patients need that.

The retail edible products need to be safe for the consumer.

I think this is more of a concern to Colorado wanting to prevent harm to it's citizens than a federal issue. MJ legalization had the arguments that mj is not that harmful, but creating highly potent edibles is harmful if consumed by someone that hasn't built up a THC tolerance.

For the feds, the mj is illegal and so are the edibles. The feds aren't in a position to treat edibles any differently than mj in general.

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Cresean Sterne 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Those from places like Florida, Texas, etc. have no idea what they are in for and most are not used to such a strong reaction to MJ. such as what is produced in Colorado.

Scott, I realize that it is federaly illegal but they have turned the other way and let Colorado become the guinee pig for such. I fear that if Colorado dosnt come up with a better way for mips to be package and controled that the feds will take notice and much stronger regulations will take effect.

Food products have come a long way. Packaging now can look like a whatchamacallit candy bar but is actually a whatchamacall-ahit (with 200 mg THC medical and 100mg THC recreational). Trying to make it as similar to the real candy bar as possible is only going to bite mip manufactures in the a??.. It could cause a lawsuit if someones kid gets realy messed up from ingesting one. Its already getting national attention for other unfortunate circumstances.

MIP's wasnt something I saw as an issue untill recreational came on line. I dont have kids but most all my friends do and it is now becomeing a big concern for them due to the packaging and look alikes of snack food and candies. This has made me change the way I feel about some food products and the packaging out there.

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Tim Keenan 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I guess the first step is to try to figure out how much of this was caused by UNINTENTIONAL overconsumption. Sure, the guy who ate an unlabelled piece of chocolate left behind in a condo probably unintentionally overconsumed, but there are obvious lessons there that don't have anything to do with THC. Current packaging lists the total potency and the amount in each dose. At least the hard or jell candy packages I've seen haven't looked anything like a typical bag of gummy bears or what have you. I'm not sure about chocolate bars or brownies or cupcakes or cookies -- clearly, some additional investigation on my part is warranted. "...incorporating a new labeling system that labels the potency of edible products like ski mountains rate their slopes — green dots for less potent products and black diamonds for products containing higher levels of THC." Older adults trying THC for the first time in a long time or ever would probably at least think about it a bit before choosing an ominously labelled package containing a higher dose, but what do you think a college kid is likely to do? Fortunately, this is marijuana we're talking about, and in the overwhelming majority of cases, experimentation is not going to kill you.

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jerry carlton 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Read the piece in the Steamboat today about all the brilliant people blowing themselves up making oil. We have already had one instance of that here. The genie is barely out of the bottle.

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