The MED released 476 pages detailing a final adoption order of new commercial marijuana rules on November 12, but didn't include a final decision on a soon-to-be required education resource for dispensary customers who purchase THC concentrate. That document, a four-page pamphlet, was made public on November 19. The MED still won't say how often that pamphlet must be included with concentrate sales, however, and whether it must be available at a customer's discretion or included with every purchase.
"We did inform stakeholders that the resource would have to be provided in hard copy," MED communications director Shannon Gray writes in an email. "That said, we do see opportunities to work with licensees on the various ways they can comply with the requirement, and we are supportive of licensee efforts that work to make the resource available electronically as part of a supplemental measure (not in place of the hardcopy resource)."
The state-approved pamphlet includes a suggested serving size for marijuana concentrates: a small dot on packaging that is slightly smaller than a half-grain of rice. Information about the differences between vaporizing and smoking THC, the short- and long-term risks of consuming high-potency THC products, and the penalties for selling legal marijuana products on the black market will also be printed on the pamphlet.
Compiled by the state Department of Public Health and Environment, the health warnings include information about "psychotic symptoms and/or psychotic disorder" problems associated with marijuana use, as well as "mental health symptoms/problems," "cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS)" and "cannabis use disorder/dependence." Phone numbers to public-health hotlines and web addresses for informational resources will also be printed on the handout.
The pamphlet and its required content were implemented as part of House Bill 1317, which mandates that the MED create new restrictions for marijuana concentrates, including wax, shatter, bubble hash, kief, live resin, rosin vaporizer cartridges and all other combustible extracted THC products. Although the majority of HB 1317's new restrictions only apply to medical marijuana patients, the education resource rules for marijuana concentrate will apply to both recreational and medical customers. According to the law, marijuana businesses will have to pay for the printing and production of the pamphlets.
The Colorado Cannabis Manufacturers Association, one of Colorado's largest trade groups for marijuana extractors, isn't thrilled with the prospect of including a paper pamphlet with every concentrate purchase, but that's what executive director Kevin Gallagher will be instructing his members to do.
"We'll see what further guidance the MED provides licensees before the effective date, January 1, but from what I gathered during the rulemaking, it's going to have to be handed to each person making a concentrate purchase," Gallagher says. "I think the language is fairly specific, where it's saying this has to be provided with the sale rather than having language here stating the licensee will have this if the patient is interested."
Gallagher is supportive of the overall content of the pamphlets, he says, but worries that including them with every sale will lead to higher cost for customers and a negative environmental impact.
"At the end of the day, these educational resources are going to litter our parking lots. We've got to print them out and fold them. It's laborious and cost-intensive, and just bad for the environment," he says. "In terms of the content, though, I think it's great we have standardized consumption education. That's a really positive thing for novice medical patients and recreational consumers, and maybe even current consumers, as well."
HB 1317 was proposed as an attempt to curb youth use of extracted marijuana products, according to bill sponsor and House Speaker Alec Garnett, as well as other supporters. The new law also limits medical marijuana concentrate purchases, adds more application requirements for prospective medical patients under the age of 21, and requires that all dispensary purchases made by patients be entered into a new state tracking system.
There is no data linking teenage medical marijuana patients to a spike in youth marijuana use, but stronger guardrails for medical marijuana access and concentrated THC products were pushed by lobbies representing parents, health-care organizations and anti-legalization groups at the start of the 2021 legislative session. In May, Colorado health professionals declared a state of emergency in youth mental health, with marijuana use listed as one of several contributing factors; CDPHE data shows that the use of extracted marijuana products more than doubled among teenagers from 2015 to 2019.
Here's the full education resource: