Marijuana: Cannabis Business Summit takes debate over pot edibles safety seriously

Between the hotel-room antics of Maureen Dowd and a tragic pot-related tourist death and a fatal shooting earlier this year, marijuana's national image has taken some heavy hits recently. All of those incidents involved edibles -- and like members of any industry, marijuana salespeople (medical and adult-use alike) are concerned about the effect this could have on the potential future viability of their businesses.

But unlike other industries, the marijuana businesspeople in Colorado are hyper-aware that their fortunes could turn on a legal or political dime at any moment. And judging from some of the new products and in-depth discussion at the ongoing Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center, some thoughtful and serious steps are being taken to mitigate the damage done to pot's reputation.

During a morning panel about successes and challenges here and in Washington, Andrew Freedman, the director of marijuana coordination for Governor John Hickenlooper's office, noted that an edibles task force (and a solution to the banking issues that dispensaries face) are priorities for his office. And in a question-and-answer session after the discussion, more than one authority on stage acknowledged that if the nationwide trend toward marijuana legalization can be reversed at this point, the turning point could hinge on edibles. After all, on top of being associated with such high-profile incidents as Dowd's edible nightmare and two deaths, they're also perceived to be inherently appealing to children.

So greater regulation of edible packaging, dosage and labeling seems inevitable at this point. But before that happens, other areas of the industry are stepping up to offer different solutions, too.

The product manufacturers themselves are seeing a shopper's desire for lower-dose edibles -- and are following through. At the Cannabis Business Summit, Dixie Elixirs rolled out "One," a new line of low-dose products. Each unit is a single-serving, 5 milligram dose of THC. On top of the watermelon cream soda pictured above, they'll also offer coconut water, chocolates and their standby mints.

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Considering the past year of media coverage surrounding butane honey oil (BHO) and the often-dangerous extraction process, it's interesting that edibles got most of the stage attention at the event -- although BHO was mentioned more than once, and several vendors offered safe extraction technologies in the exhibit hall. Still, it says something about the national perspective on marijuana when the biggest scares thus far have involved something as innocuous-seeming as edibles -- and it says something else that industry members in Colorado are taking that perspective seriously enough to take steps to protect pot users.

More from our Marijuana archive circa March 12: "Photos: Motel blaze joins our list of top six recent hash-oil explosions."

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