Colorado proposes edible marijuana ban, then retreats
October 22, 2014
DENVER — Colorado health authorities suggested banning many forms of edible marijuana, including brownies and cookies, then whipsawed away from the suggestion Monday after it went public.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told state pot regulators they should limit edible pot on shelves to hard lozenges and tinctures, which are a form of liquid pot that can be added to foods and drinks.
The suggestion sparked marijuana industry outrage and legal concerns from a regulatory workgroup that met Monday to review the agency's suggestion. Colorado's 2012 marijuana-legalization measure says retail pot is legal in all forms.
"If the horse wasn't already out of the barn, I think that would be a nice proposal for us to put on the table," said Karin McGowan, the department's deputy executive director.
Talking to reporters after the workgroup reviewed the department's proposal, McGowan insisted the edibles ban was just one of several proposals under review by pot regulators.
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.
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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 was one of several made to marijuana regulators.
"We need to know what is in our food," said Gina Carbone of the advocacy group Smart Colorado, which says edible pot shouldn't be allowed if it can't be identified out of its packaging.
Marijuana industry representatives insisted that marking pot won't prevent accidental ingestions.
"There is only so much we can do as manufacturers to prevent a child from putting a product in their mouth," said Bob Eschino of Incredibles, which makes marijuana-infused chocolates.
Even health officials worried that an edibles ban would not stop people from making homemade pot treats, with possibly more dangerous results.
"Edibles are very, very popular. And I do worry that people are going to make their own. They're not going to know what they're doing," said Dr. Lalit Bajaj of Children's Hospital Colorado.
The meeting came after 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.