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Marijuana edibles: Should retailers be required to package individual serving sizes?

Karma Kandy Orange Ginger, the brand of edible allegedly consumed by Richard Kirk.
Karma Kandy Orange Ginger, the brand of edible allegedly consumed by Richard Kirk.

We've been reporting about a Marijuana Enforcement Division working group looking into placing THC limits on pot edibles.

At the group's last meeting, the MED proposed packaging that would require individual serving sizes featuring 10 milligrams of activated THC to be wrapped separately when sold as part of a 100 mg package -- the limit under state law. But many edibles manufacturers aren't wild about the idea.

According to Meg Colins, executive director of the Cannabis Business Alliance, "this effort about potency and serving size is a direct result of two incidents" -- the death of Levy Thamba, who jumped from a hotel balcony after eating a marijuana edible, and the murder of Kristine Kirk at the hands of her husband, Richard Kirk, after he had allegedly consumed pot candy and pain killers.

Other factors, Collins says, include "reports coming out from various emergency rooms about people overindulging in edible products."

In Collins's view, this is a good discussion to have. "Most Americans look at a cookie as a serving size, even if they're told repeatedly to divide that cookie into ten pieces -- because a serving size is 10 mg of activated THC. It's intuitive. So the Cannabis Business Alliance edibles council started meeting back in February to talk about legislation that was going forward and some of these other challenges, so we can do a better job of educating particularly a first-time or novice consumer."

To that end, the working group unveiled a proposed handout at the May 15 meeting. The theme: "Start Low/Go Slow."

Edibles at a Denver dispensary.
Edibles at a Denver dispensary.

However, the MED would like to move beyond such efforts to require that "each 10 mg serving be individually wrapped in a container that would hold 100 mgs," the CBA notes in its latest newsletter. However, "most members of the work group did not support the individual wrapping proposal due to lack of equipment and most importantly, probable regulatory overreach."

In Collins's view, "starting to make lower-dose products may be a good idea. That way, folks that might have been making a caramel or a cookie that was 100 mg might also make a 10 mg offering, so that consumers -- especially first-time consumers -- will have a lower-dose choice. But for the consumer who's not a novice, they would still have the higher level THC choices."

Such questions aren't the only ones pertaining to edibles. Indeed, a new working group will be formed by August 1 as directed by recently approved House Bill 14-1366. That measure calls for "edibles to be shaped, stamped or colored in some way that would make them easily identifiable as marijuana products," Collins says. The group is required to provide a report to the legislature by February 2015, with regulation set to follow in January 2016.

The CBA opposed the bill, which is shared below, because "the MED already has authority to do exactly what the legislation called for," Collins maintains. "And we also felt that it might not be practicable and might limit creativity. But we ended up being successful in getting the legislature to give us more time to consider things through working groups and studies.

"That's one thing that's been great about the state," Collins continues. "They recognize this is a new industry, and while everybody did their darnedest dealing with the Amendment 64 task force and subsequent working groups to think through all the angles, there are some things that may come up that you never think of. But the state has been good about not overreacting and trying to put emergency rules out without talking to the industry. They've been good about reaching out."

The next meeting for the working group on serving sizes, potency and packaging is expected to take place in early June. Meanwhile, here's a look at HB 14-1366, the stamping/shaping/coloring measure that will spawn the August working group.

House Bill 14-1366

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa May 1: "THC limits for pot edibles pushed by leaders of state's product-potency working group."


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