The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) recently announced that its 43 member marijuana businesses will implement new standards concerning edibles that are animal-shaped or human-shaped. These new standards are an effort to make marijuana edibles less attractive to children so that they won’t eat them.
The debate over marijuana edibles has been going on for some time now, and it’s been a prominent matter of discussion for opponents of marijuana legalization. Specifically, the fact that edibles look like kids’ candies has been a major concern for Colorado legalization opponents. Under the new policy set forth by C4: “Animal shapes such as gummy bears, gummy worms, ‘sour patch kids’ and others items will be prohibited.”
Marijuana edibles’ attractiveness to children was addressed by Governor John Hickenlooper in January 2016. In his State of the State address, he pointed out the importance of the issue:
“Back in the day, candy cigarettes desensitized kids to the dangers of tobacco – and today, pot-infused gummy bears send the wrong message to our kids about marijuana,” he said. “Let’s ask ourselves if we’re doing enough to make sure that edibles do not so closely resemble the same products kids can find in the candy aisle.”
Marijuana edibles have been a major concern for the cannabis industry when it comes to legalization. Let’s face it—edibles have gotten a bad rap in the media. And this has always been one of the most daunting roadblocks regarding cannabis legalization.
Some examples of edibles getting a bad rap in the media:
In March of 2014, the story of a 19-year-old who allegedly died from a marijuana cookie overdose made national headlines. The Wyoming teen, an exchange student from the Republic of Congo, visited Denver and purchased a marijuana edible with his friends. Later, he ate the entire cookie and jumped off of a fourth-story balcony of a Denver hotel. Officials claimed that because he ate 6 times the recommended serving, he overdosed and eventually jumped to his death. The public and officials became outraged about edibles and everything associated with them: labeling, potency, effects and size/shape.
In June of 2014, Maureen Dowd, columnist for The New York Times, wrote about her experience eating a cannabis candy bar, and it didn’t shed a favorable light on Colorado edibles. Like the 19-year-old from Wyoming, Dowd wolfed down the entire candy bar in one sitting because she didn’t feel its effects right away. Again, the potency was ignored and the dosing instructions were also disregarded. She wrote about her anxiety-and-paranoia-ridden trip in a Colorado hotel, and how she had no idea that eating the entire edible at once would have any negative effects.
Of course, Dowd blamed it on the labeling:
“The next day, a medical consultant at an edibles plant where I was conducting an interview mentioned that candy bars like that are supposed to be cut into 16 pieces for novices; but that recommendation hadn’t been on the label.”
In April of 2014, the story of a Denver man who ate edibles before killing his wife made national news. Hours before the incident, the man purchased Karma Kandy Orange Ginger and a pre-roll. According to court records, his wife told a 911 operator before she was shot that her husband had possibly taken prescription pain meds as well. And officials say that the man quite possibly had a mental condition that was exasperated by the edibles. In other words, it’s likely that the murder was not committed simply because the man ate marijuana edibles.
The New York Times published a story in June of 2015 about a study which showed that marijuana edibles’ potencies are labeled incorrectly. The study of 75 edibles sold to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles patients found that only 17% described the THC levels correctly. Stories like these don’t help to shed edibles in a favorable light.
In 2014, pot edibles made up roughly 45% of Colorado’s legal recreational industry. It’s likely that in 2015 the figure was even higher. This suggests that are plenty of adults out there who know how to consume edibles safely and effectively. Still, it does make sense to implement the new standards regarding edibles so that they don’t attract children. When you think about it, there’s really no reason for your medicinal or recreational marijuana to look just like Sour Patch Kids, Gummi Bears or Tootsie Rolls.
The new standards for marijuana edibles should be completely implemented by October 1, 2016.