Marijuana news: Proposed ban on pot products in Colorado highlights difficulty regulating infused foods, treats

Marijuana news: Proposed ban on pot products in Colorado highlights difficulty regulating infused foods, treats

Colorado public health officials shook up the marijuana industry Monday when they proposed banning marijuana-infused edibles, a hot and growing segment of the recreational and medical marijuana markets.

The proposal — which officials ultimately backed away from after an outcry from the state’s marijuana industry — underscores the difficulty of regulating infused products. Colorado officials say they’ve seen an increase in accidental ingestion among children, leading to a spike in hospital visits and poison control centers.

The Denver Post’s John Ingold, who writes a lot about Colorado marijuana policy, reported on the latest efforts to regulate edibles in a way that keeps them away from kids. (He notes that edibles make up about 45 percent of the legal cannabis market in Colorado.) 

The edibles ban was met with fierce opposition among industry professionals, Ingold reported. 

Industry advocates questioned whether edibles could be banned under Amendment 64, Colorado’s marijuana-legalization measure. Singer worried a ban would create a “marijuana Whac-A-Mole situation” where edibles production moved into the black market. Andrew Freedman, the state’s marijuana policy coordinator, said the governor’s office did not support a ban.

The health department later in the day put out a news release acknowledging that the department did not consider the proposal’s constitutionality or ask the governor’s office to review it. Instead, the proposal was put forward to generate discussion.

“Considering only the public health perspective, however, edibles pose a definite risk to children, and that’s why we recommended limiting marijuana-infused products to tinctures and lozenges,” Larry Wolk, the executive director of the department, said in a statement.

The issue of how to regulate marijuana-infused products came up in Oregon as state officials drafted rules for the newly regulated medical marijuana industry. 

In Oregon, state officials also briefly entertained banning edibles in the medical marijuana market — a move that was greeted with a swift backlash among patients and retailers. Ultimately, the state decided to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from selling infused products packaged or processed in a manner that is attractive to children, including products shaped like animals or other commercially recognizable toy or candy.

— Noelle Crombie

Marijuana news.