Yesterday's judiciary committee hearing about HB 1250, a medical marijuana infused-products bill, took some unexpected twists. The legislation, which initially sought to ban all MMJ edibles, has now evolved into a packaging bill. But in arguing why it's necessary, sponsoring Representative Cindy Acree used a prop that cannabis advocates see as a nod to South Park's "Drugs are Bad" episode.
During her testimony, according to the Cannabis Therapy Institute, Acree showed off a package with a cupcake inside to demonstrate the type of labeling she'd like to see for MMJ edibles. CTI got a closeup look at the text, including this passage:
In a post about the hearing, CTI writes: "This is a clear reference to the 'Drugs are Bad, Mkay' South Park comedy animation skit from Comedy Central. Did one of Acree's staffers... write this label or did it come from some corporate lobbyists?" By the way, the last two words in this sentence linked to a Westword post about the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.
As for the legislation itself, the new language it contains is not yet online -- but CTI's Laura Kriho says "the amended version gives the Department of Revenue the authority to create rules regarding packaging." She quotes the following passage:
"Rules promulgated pursuant to this section may include... prohibiting the sale of medical marijuana infused products unless the product is packaged in special packaging that is designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open and not difficult for normal adults to use properly, and that does not allow the product to be seen without opening the packaging material."
Kriho adds that another tweak involved "removing the words 'food and beverage' and substituting 'medical marijuana-infused products.'" Why? She believes the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment "didn't want anyone to think this was real food or beverage -- I think because it's adulterated by a Schedule 1 controlled substance."
The measure passed, but not unanimously, Kriho notes: "Claire Levy" -- the sponsor of a bill to set THC driving limits -- "voted against it because her reading of the amendment is that it gives authority to the Department of Revenue to prohibit the sale of medical marijuana-infused products unless the product is packaged in a certain way. And in her opinion, the Department of Revenue doesn't have the power to prohibit the sale of products. She was concerned it gave too much authority to the Department of Revenue."
Obviously, Kriho is pleased HB 1250 no longer bans MMJ edibles. However, she believes the measure that remains "is unnecessary, because the Department of Revenue already has the authority to regulate labeling. There's six pages of labeling rules they haven't promulgated yet. But Representative Acree is adamant about wanting to protect the children from these imagined harms" -- an argument made at a hearing earlier this month starring the fictional product Cap'n Chronic and Pot Tarts, a now-banned item that was likely never been sold in Colorado.
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Not that Kriho's resting easy quite yet. "This can be amended on the House floor and in the Senate," she points out. "It may seem superfluous, but it can and will change. That's the only thing we can be certain about with medical marijuana legislation: Everything can change, and it will usually change at the last minute -- and usually for the worse."
Page down to see the South Park "Drugs are Bad" clip, plus photos from yesterday's hearing courtesy of the Cannabis Therapy Institute, including shots of two amendments. Kriho says both passed.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Spice is not synthetic marijuana, but it is risky, says Rep. Mike Kopp, sponsor of HB 134 ban."