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Colorado bans marijuana edibles that look like kids’ candy

Three years after the state’s chief medical officer called for a ban on most marijuana-infused edibles in the interest of food safety, Colorado has enacted changes that should make this Halloween a little less risky.

The state’s potent Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) did not act on Dr. Larry Wolk’s 2014 call to ban edibles and the Colorado Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1436 in April 2016.

The bill required MED to come up with a way to keep children from mistakenly eating edible marijuana products shaped like gummy bears, fruit snacks or other edibles shaped like animals or people.

Wolk, a pediatrician who heads the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), bucked the political establishment when he sought to ban edibles during marijuana’s recreational rollout in the Mile High state.

But that was all he could do. Marijuana regulation in Colorado is limited to MED, a unit of the state Department of Revenue. Out of the gate, edibles were responsible for about half of the sales of legal marijuana products. Many people with medical prescriptions, as well as those who use it recreationally, prefer to consume THC in edible form because of the negative aspects of smoking.

A spike in marijuana incident calls to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in 2014 did not get nearly as much attention as the rapid cannabis sales. Marijuana calls to the poison center leveled off in 2015 and dropped off in 2016.

Colorado’s third year of recreational marijuana sales along with medical marijuana topped $1.3 billion in 2016. Recreational marijuana hit $875 million, and green cross sales came in at almost $440 million.

The state’s cut was almost $200 million. Sales will top $2 billion by 2020. Colorado was first among the now eight states where marijuana for recreational use is legal. It was quickly followed by Washington State. Alaska, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Maine, and just this past July, Nevada followed.

The Denver Police Department posted this photo on its Facebook page in 2014.

The Oct. 1 ban on the manufacture or sales of edibles in shapes children might think are candy has been in the pipeline for more than a year. Most of Colorado’s edible manufacturers were producing their products in generic squares or circle shapes ahead of the deadline.

Retail marijuana shops were required to remove any remaining products that were in the banned shapes on Oct. 1. Some were marked down for sale before the ban because after Oct. 1 they could not be sold or even donated.

Potency labeling requirements also changed in Colorado on Oct. 1. New mandates call for label potency listed in bold font, at least 10 points in size and 2 points larger than the surrounding product text. There are 72 point in an inch. The potency statement must be outlined in shapes like a circle or square and highlighted with a bright color.

Retail outlets may continue to sell products made under the old potency labeling rules until it’s sold. Colorado’s marijuana industry last year accepted labeling, packaging, and the inclusion of a “THC” stamp on individual products.

Two years ago, Colorado limited the amount of the active ingredient in marijuana edibles to a 100 milligram limit to tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Each serving is limited to 10-milligram size.

Medical marijuana, which has been legal in Colorado for 14 years, becomes subject to potency testing for infused products for the first time on Nov. 1. Recreational marijuana in Colorado has been potency tested since 2014.

Since Amendment 64 took effect, every Halloween in Colorado has included fears trick-or-treat outings might collect marijuana edibles. In reality, however, it’s turned out to be an urban myth.

When Wolk first sought a ban on edibles, he suggested only lozenges and tinctures be permitted.

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