(from the New York Daily News) DENVER (AP) — Colorado health officials want to ban many edible forms of marijuana, including brownies, cookies and most candies, limiting legal sales of pot-infused food to lozenges and tinctures. [Tinctures are liquid extracts made from herbs.]
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told marijuana regulators that many forms of edible marijuana “are naturally attractive to children” and violate the law’s “requirement to prevent the marketing of marijuana products to children.”
The recommendation was obtained by The Associated Press in advance of a third and possibly final workgroup meeting Monday to draw up rules for identifiable markers or colors for edible marijuana products so they won’t be confused with regular foods.
The health department’s recommendation, sent to the regulators Oct. 14, would effectively take most forms of edible marijuana off store shelves. The final decision will be made by Colorado’s Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, which oversees retail marijuana sales.
Lawmakers have ordered state pot regulators to require pot-infused food and drink to have a distinct look when they are out of the packaging. The order came after concerns about the proliferation of pot-infused treats that many worry could be accidentally eaten by children.
Statewide numbers are not available, but one hospital in the Denver area has reported nine cases of children being admitted after accidentally eating pot. It is not clear whether those kids ate commercially packaged pot products or homemade items such as marijuana brownies. The Health Department’s recommendation would apply only to products sold commercially, including a form of liquid pot called a tincture that can be added to foods.
The Health Department’s recommendation is one of several made to marijuana regulators. The advocacy group Smart Colorado wants to see a requirement that edible versions of marijuana be colored, marked or stamped to indicate they contain the drug.
The marijuana industry opposes a ban on most pot products. A spokesman for Dixie Elixirs, which makes marijuana-infused sodas and mints, said Monday that the rules go too far and may not be able to keep pot-infused foods out of children’s hands.
“Labeling and packaging are the best and only way to deal with accidental ingestion,” said Joe Hodas, Dixie’s chief marketing officer. He said the rules would help drive the black market.
A Health Department spokesman did not immediately comment on the agency’s proposal, which comes as authorities warn parents about lookalike pot-infused candies at Halloween.
Denver police released a video earlier this month about the danger of possible mix-ups.
“Some marijuana edibles can be literally identical to their name-brand counterparts,” department warned in a statement, urging parents to toss candies they don’t recognize.
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. From an Associate Press report. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from the New York Daily News.
1. a) What recommendation did the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment make to marijuana regulators?
b) For what reason did the department make this recommendation?
2. Who will make the actual decision about the proposed ban?
3. For what reason have state lawmakers already ordered state pot regulators to require edible marijuana to have a distinct look when it is out of the packaging?
4. a) What reasons does the marijuana industry give for opposing a ban on most pot edibles?
b) What is most likely their real reason for opposing a ban on sales of most edibles?
5. The headline of the article is “Colorado officials want ban on most marijuana edibles”
a) What other individuals/groups might want a ban?
b) How do you think people who don’t smoke or use marijuana food/candy view the unforeseen problem?
6. Of the law of unintended consequences, Wikipedia states: the law of unintended consequences has come to be used as an adage or idiomatic warning that an intervention in a complex system tends to create unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes.
The Library of Economics states: The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people – and especially of government – always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it.
Do you think the politicians/citizens who supported legalizing recreational marijuana should have foreseen these unintended consequences and worded the law differently to address the issue before it became the problem it is today? Explain your answer.
7. Edible marijuana industry reaction to the proposed bans (from the Boulder Daily Camera):
Holden Sproul, the sales manager at The Growing Kitchen — a marijuana-infused product manufacturer in Boulder County — said a ban [on marijuana edibles] would greatly affect businesses and hurt recreational marijuana users. “Obviously it would take a toll on our current structure,” Sproul said. “But it would mostly be a terrible thing for the customers.”
Sproul said he understands the efforts to protect children, but said he thinks parents will simply have to make sure they keep their edibles out of the reach. “It’s a valid concern, but it’s like just about anything in society with children: It is the responsibility of the adults around them,” Sproul said.
Bryan LeFever, the store manager of Boulder’s Terrapin Care Station, said dispensaries also would be impacted by the ban. LeFever estimated about 30-40% of sales are edibles. “It would be a pretty big bummer for a lot of customers coming in,” LeFever said. “A lot of our customers that come in don’t want to inhale the smoke. It would really affect business, because now they would not have an option.”
LeFever said edibles are especially popular with newer customers. “A lot of people who haven’t touched (marijuana) because it was illegal come in, but they don’t want to smoke,” LeFever said. “Those people usually come in and go right to the edibles. They just rather would have something they can just eat.”
Shawn Coleman, a Boulder-based consultant to the marijuana industry, said a ban on edibles would be “absolute madness.” Coleman said banning edibles and forcing marijuana users to either smoke it or use highly concentrated liquids would enforce the perception of marijuana users as people chasing a high.
“They’re taking away from adults the opportunity to have an experience that is not a drug experience, but really a culinary experience,” Coleman said. “They’re saying, ‘No, don’t do that. We want you to take cannabis like you’re a crackhead.’
What do you think of this reasoning?
8. CNN Money reports:
If instituted, the ban would take most edible marijuana products off the shelves, which could be a significant blow to the state’s nascent recreational marijuana industry. However, it’s not clear if the ban would be adopted by the state. The health department’s recommendation is one of several that will be debated by state officials and marijuana industry representatives who are on the task force. It’s also unclear if Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper would support an outright ban.
Do you think Colorado lawmakers and the Governor should support the ban of many edible forms of marijuana? Explain your answer.
The Denver Police department also recently released a YouTube video warning parents of danger posed by pot candies this Halloween. In the video, the owner of a local marijuana dispensary says edibles make up between 20% and 30% of his gross sales:
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