Let me begin with a warning. If you read this any further, it may be a 4/20 buzzkiller for you. This is not my intention, but it may be the result if facts sometimes get in the way of a comfy view of the universe.
I just thought that today might be the right moment to talk about whether tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) doses in Colorado marijuana are too high, especially in those “edibles.” Colorado’s four months of recreational pot sales have come with some limits. State law sets 5 nanograms of active THC in the blood as the legal limit for driving. Then there’s a “serving size” limit of 10 milligrams of THC for marijuana edibles, meaning a cookie with 65 milligrams is said to contain six-and-one-half “servings.”
Last week, I wrote a news story on how two bills to regulate recreational marijuana in Colorado were suddenly moving quickly in the final days of the legislative session in response to events that have occurred since the state became the first in the nation to make pot sales for fun legal.
The “biggest story since the end of prohibition” has dominated the news in Colorado for months. It’s been a Food Safety News story only when marijuana “edibles” are involved because that does involve food and food safety.
This area of the Colorado pot story has moved pretty slowly up until now. The Department of Revenue’s pot regulators are supposed to be coming out with “potency testing” guidelines next month. Actually dealing with potency has seemed far off.
When something changes on that front, we are going to bring it to our readers. It’s that simple and does not merit subjecting us to vile comments about our motives.
Previously, we reported on the limited nature of Amendment 64’s regulation of “edibles.” We found it weird that this area of “making and baking” would be off-limits to our normal food safety regulators.
So, when reports of illnesses and deaths appear to have sparked some fast and late bill action by the Colorado Legislature, we are going to cover them. Those bills look to be ready for House floor votes this week, possibly as early as tomorrow.
As a Colorado resident, here’s what I think is bothering my stoner friends. They wanted this big experiment we are all involved in to come out perfectly, and it not going be that way. That’s why children with acute illnesses show up in ER rooms and psychotic reactions leading to deaths trouble them enough that they want to shoot the messenger.
This is a big experiment involving more than 5 million people. I doubt, however, that we will ever go back to when someone with a badge stands between me and my small-batch bourbon or my friends and their marijuana. We are all in this together, and we all have Colorado license plates, which now subject us to warrantless search if we leave the state.
That’s reality, and so, too, is it reality that, out of millions of marijuana purchases since this experiment began, at least two appear to have led to fairly immediate deaths.
The first was a 19-year-old Wyoming college student who took a deadly leap off a Denver hotel on March 11 not long after eating edible marijuana.
Laboratory reports ordered as part of the autopsy and released last week found 7.2 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood in the deceased foreign student, Levy Thamba Pongi. His friends, who tried to restrain him from jumping off the hotel, said he’d consumed a marijuana cookie but no other drugs or alcohol and that was consistent with the lab findings. The high TCH was officially listed as a contributing cause in the death.
The second was 44-year-old Kristine Kirk, allegedly shot dead by her 47-year-old husband Richard Kirk while she was reporting his psychotic behavior to a police 911 operator after he’d consumed marijuana candy.
The father of three stands accused of the murder, but lab work on what was actually in his system might not come out until the trial.
One bill Colorado lawmakers will be voting on soon will ban putting marijuana in any food product “that is primarily marketed to children,” or one that might be confused with a trademarked food product. Another would establish equivalences between one ounce of marijuana flower and various other products.
Currently, Colorado residents can take their one ounce per purchase in hash oil, and it’s viewed the same as an ounce of the plant. Not making it easy for children to get marijuana edibles and coming up with equivalences seem to be basic steps in getting to safe THC limits for edibles. It should be all about respecting the power of Colorado weed.
THC is the principal psychoactive ingredient in the marijuana plant. THC levels in the 25-to-27-percent range have become common, up from about 3 percent in the 1970s.© Food Safety News