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Letter From the Editor: THC Limits for Marijuana Edibles


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.”

Details like these have been lying in the weeds of the weed story for some time, but they’ve suddenly taken on a new sense of urgency that some are finding upsetting.

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
  • Gooch

    Face it, what made the article so lame was that your position had no scientific justification, or basis whatsoever…

    • so true, man this food safety site is a real schill, huh? lame writers abound, lies and misinformation, seems like always

  • Gooch

    If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen…

  • LawrenceOshanek

    It is difficult to get a person whose emotional existence is dependent upon a drug to acknowledge there may be a down side, although I admit I believe all drug pushers should work out of the same back alley with the drug pushing medical/big pharma professions the farthest away from access by the public.

    Marijuana and hemp are very useful plants containing many useful and even superior phytonutrients and compounds which can and do assist in both disease prevention and medicinal “cures”.

    THC is another issue. In my view, it is a chemical compound which is useless to anyone and everyone except to some very uptight turds who “need” a ‘high’ to ‘relax’.

    As to making the drug into a form attractive to children (candy, cookies) is the very height of stupidity, what can you expect from idiots who main goal in life is to escape the reality of their mostly pitiful and useless lives.

  • Janine

    I smoked (and brain fogged) a few of my teenage years in the 70’s. The pot was very tame then compared to now, the young people still managed to get “freaked out” and paranoid on those measly stems and seeds however, and they *were* stems and seeds with little bud in that $10 bag.

    I fear the major denial we witness regarding the real hazards of these products won’t die along with me and my fellow geezers. Frankly, this attitude really angers me in that by refusing to face facts we put human and animal lives at harm, many who are unable to give proper consent to being exposed via 2nd hand smoke, unintended ingestion of mega doses of thc via marketing, portioning, packaging, distribution and storage of this powerful substance. Yes, even highly regulated prescription drugs kill people but
    that is no excuse to exempt marijuana-thc from intense scrutiny and regulation.

  • Janine

    Time for another hit then a snack and your nap Gooch?

  • Just when you thought all you had to worry about was the raw milk fanatics…

    I would hope this site would cover food safety issues related to marijuana laced foods. Only a non-thinking fanatic would think otherwise.

    Colorado is a lab for future legalization of marijuana in a broader sense. What it discovers could impact on all laws in the future. The most difficult laws are, most likely, to be those related to the use of marijuana in food items, since the concentration is so high (and especially since many of the goodies will tempt children).

  • Radman

    Hmm sounds kind of lame to me. Yet food related items with THC in them should have a limit to the amount of THC in a serving size. we are talking food for the public and it should be listed. But this is a twist no one took into consideration. to bad a couple of deaths were involved because it is fuel to not legalize it in other states.

  • And we now have the alcohol version of marijuana in foods.


  • LawrenceOshanek

    It is not unusual for an emotionally crippled drunk of any type to try to justify their need to rely upon chemical stimulation to cope with their pitiful and sorry self absorbed existence and you just did that in spades.

    The pity is shite heads who consume the plant to escape their weak self image and stunted emotional existence has resulted in the breeding of plants exclusively for the self absorbed reality escapists.

    As a plant can only produce a finite amount of chemical compounds, I much prefer seeing plants breed to decrease or eliminate the psychotropic THC and increase the chemical compounds (CBD and CBN) useful in controlling the frequency and consequences of epileptic seizures and to shrinking and even curing many cancers in other people in a safe non damaging non toxic way.

    So here we have it, your value system is all about you and improving your personality deficiencies and my value system is all about providing an extended life to others.

    For some unGodly reason I’d rather be me. So piss off idiot.

  • Disappointing to read a comment that is nothing but an attack on another commenter. I would hope FSN would delete such.

  • Catherine Musgrave

    It is obvious that people will not agree on this issue. I have personally seen the great benefits from this drug, through close family and friends being unable to sleep, eat, or function when battling cancer. However, you do not see a bunch of people who are healthy needing to take all the other drugs that sick people need to take to get relief. There are so many issues that should be addressed before implementing a law legalizing a drug to the masses. We need big picture people to rationally, not emotionally, review the risks and benefits and the overall societal impact this will have. Adequate research on the effect to law enforcement, college students and education, food safety (including but not limited to THC levels), cost of enforcing the law, consumption rates, etc.. There are so many ling term issues that need to be analyzed. This analysis need to be complete and impartial and shared with the public before changing a law. Common sense people!