State proposes limiting form of marijuana-infused products
The chances of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) limiting the form of marijuana edibles to lozenges and tinctures would be “highly unlikely,” according to Aspen attorney Lauren Maytin.
The CDPHE made a proposal on Monday at a meeting with an edible retail marijuana products stakeholder group, causing quite a stir within the industry, but the statement was quickly retracted.
“It was just a recommendation to the advisory group,” Maytin said. “I think they can limit portion size, but I don’t know if they can limit the categories … with the system already in play. I think they’ll get sued [if they try].”
CDPHE Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Wolk released a statement shortly after the meeting explaining that “the recommendation from CDPHE is just that, a recommendation to a working group as part of the deliberative process” and that it would be debated further.
The statement claimed that edibles represent a danger to children, who might mistake them for candy.
“Considering only the public health perspective … edibles pose a definite risk to children,” Dr. Wolk noted in the statement. “That’s why we recommended limiting marijuana-infused products to tinctures and lozenges. … [The proposal] was put together only in consideration of the public health challenges of underage marijuana ingestion.”
Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer for Dixie Elixirs & Edibles out of Denver said that industry officials were taken back by the announcement.
“It was a little bit odd,” he said. “I was there for the whole meeting and I have to give great credit to CDPHE for their collaboration and openness [with the industry], so when they dropped a bomb like this, it took everyone by surprise.”
Hodas added that there were 11 other recommendations made in the meeting, but this one, by far, elicited the most attention.
“I don’t think that the statement was thoroughly vetted or thought through,” he said. “But we were concerned by the gravity of the recommendation.”
Maytin didn’t think that the proposal would proceed at the state level.
“I don’t think they’ll go in that heavy of a direction,” she said. “I don’t think that the advisory boards or the Legislature will go for it. The state Constitution doesn’t limit it. … The question is, how much limiting power do they have?”
Jesse Miller, a partner at the Leaf dispensary in Aspen, feels that it would be unfair to consumers to ban most forms of edibles, and that forcing them into lozenge form is hardly the answer to keeping them away from children.
“Don’t lozenges look a lot like Life Savers?” Miller quipped. “It’s akin to a liquor cabinet or a loaded gun, which I hate to compare marijuana to, but you need to keep them under lock and key. … It boils down to being a responsible consumer.”
Leaf owns a marijuana infused products license and offers the Blondie, which is a 65 milligram edible that used to be known as Ganja Goo. It comes wrapped in foil and is inside a small paper box.
“It’s [unreasonable] to force everybody into the lozenge,” Miller said. “You have to ban all edibles or none.”
Miller believes that restrictions on edibles would bring the market indoors, and could lead to dangerous circumstances for the would-be bakers.
“The market’s hooked on edibles,” he said. “People will just make them at home after looking up recipes on the internet. The last thing you want is people doing butane extraction in their homes. … Anyone with some rebelliousness will start making edibles on their own if they are taken away.”
Miller added that about 65 percent of his customers inquire about edibles.
He said that the state should embrace that the voters supported legalization, and work with the industry to better understand the medical potential of marijuana in Colorado.
“As a state we started with medical, and then recreational was pushed,” he said. “The state should utilize that fact of what we’re doing and study it, instead of running away scared.”
Hodas said that while he didn’t have the exact sales figures, he hears that up to half of dispensary sales come from edibles.
“Anecdotally, from what we hear from dispensaries, edibles are 30 to 50 percent of sales,” Hodas said. “That’s a significant part.”
Miller said that he could agree with limiting the potency on some recreational edibles, but feels that it would be unfair to limit the strength for medical marijuana patients who need stronger doses while trying to wean themselves off of much more dangerous prescription opiates.
“If the state doesn’t want 300 milligram brownies being sold to recreational users, I get it,” he said. “But limiting all edibles will hurt medical patients.”