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Bill to Protect Children From Harmful Edibles Turned into a Study

Children may be at immediate risk from marijuana-infused “edibles,” but a Colorado Senate committee has opted only to study the issue without any action this year.

A House-passed bill sought immediate restrictions on packaging to better protect children from potent edibles that are being blamed for too many emergency-room visits. But the Senate put the brakes on House Bill (HB) 1366 by turning it into a study bill.

The bill’s language now directs “the state licensing authority to convene a stakeholders group to discuss recommendations on how edible retail marijuana products can be shaped, stamped, colored or otherwise marked to indicate that it contains marijuana, is not for consumption by children, and is safe for consumers.”

The amended bill now calls for a report back to legislative committees by January 2016.

Millions of dollars worth of edibles have been sold in Colorado since last Jan. 1, when recreational pot sales became legal in the state. Such sales remain illegal under federal law, but the Obama administration has agreed to look the other way on pot sales that follow the state’s new law.

Colorado only recently began testing marijuana-infused food items to see that they do not exceed the state’s potency limits of 10 mg per serving of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. The current THC maximum for any one product is 100 mg.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee did go along with HB 1361 to put some controls on more concentrated forms of pot such as hash oil.

Colorado’s voter-approved Amendment 66 permits adults in the state to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, but the law does not address equivalencies for more concentrated forms. HB 1361 instructs the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Unit to develop such equivalencies.

Colorado adults currently can possess up to an ounce of marijuana without regard to whether it’s in the form of leafy flowers or concentrated oils. But, in its concentrated form, an ounce of pot has far more servings than the same amount in plant form.

It remains to be seen whether either the study bill or the concentrates bill will get through all the remaining legislative hoops. The Colorado Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year by mid-week.

The state agency for marijuana enforcement, a unit of the Department of Revenue, has its own working group empaneled to provide advice on dosing issues, mostly surrounding edibles. People smoking pot are not having similar problems.

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