Marijuana

Marijuana concentrates and edibles bills now law -- but what the hell will they actually do?

Yesterday, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a baker's dozen worth of bills on various topics. But arguably the two most high-profile measures had to do with marijuana: legislation to establish a one-ounce-of-cannabis equivalent for concentrates and a proposal to make marijuana edibles more identifiable.

A prominent marijuana advocate praises these measures as examples of responsible legislation even though it's quite unclear at this point what the new laws will actually do.

In late April, our William Breathes broke down HB 14-1361, the marijuana concentrates bill; we've included a copy below. Its summary notes that "the bill directs the department of revenue (department) to promulgate rules establishing the equivalent of one ounce of retail marijuana flower in various retail marijuana products. The bill authorizes the department to contract for a scientific study of the equivalency of marijuana flower in marijuana products." But there's no telling what that means in practical terms, as Breathes outlines in the following excerpt:

The legislation is vague on the specifics of determining just how much hash is in an ounce of herb -- which depends on how strong the ounce of herb is to begin with. Would they base it on a 30 percent THC OG phono or a low-THC batch of something like Blueberry? And even then, it's unclear whether legislators want producers to measure total THC in an ounce or simply estimate how much hash can be produced from an ounce. All of this would widely impact the amount of concentrates that are legally approved for sale.

Say, for the sake of discussion, that the DOR determines that there are five grams of pure THC in an ounce of herb. That could mean in-state residents 21 and up would be able to purchase about six grams' worth of 90 percent THC hash oil. Since out-of-state residents are currently limited to purchasing a quarter-ounce of cannabis, they'd hypothetically only be able to buy one to two grams at any one time.

But if the lab the state chooses bases its findings on how much hash can be produced from an ounce of herb, the amounts could be much lower. We've spoken with several hash makers who tell us that a 15 percent average return from bud to concentrates is reasonable for BHO extraction -- which means they get about four grams of hash for every one ounce of herb. Icewater can be even lower -- only 8 to 10 percent resulting in top-grade smokable hash and the rest suitable mostly for cooking.
If anything, the effect of HB 14-1366 is even more difficult to gauge. Continue for more about the two new marijuana laws, including copies of both documents.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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