Medical marijuana: Rep. Cindy Acree says MMJ edibles ban needed to protect children, patients

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We recently told you about HB 1250, a bill that appeared to ban the medical marijuana edibles industry in Colorado. Since then, there's been debate among MMJ community members -- fueled in part by articles like this -- about whether or not that was true. But in advance of today's scheduled debate on the measure, co-sponsoring Cindy Acree confirms that it is -- and she outlines a slew of reasons why she believes the edibles biz is bad for children and patients.

The Republican from House District 40 stresses that medical marijuana patients can still make their own edibles. "They can use it however they want: bake with it, drink it, whatever," she notes. "And it doesn't ban any of the base product, like the oils, the tinctures. If it's in a pill form and you want to grind it up, you can do whatever you want with it. The way it's written now preserves the integrity of the constitutional obligation to make sure patients have access to medicinal products. But the bill would ban edible food and beverage products."

Why? Acree has a myriad of concerns. "Things like 'pot tarts' are showing up on school grounds. And they don't have regulated doses. I think even patients are misled by some of these things.

"Remember, this is still against federal law," she continues. "Anyone who doesn't have a prescription who ends up with one of these products can be charged, and are in many cases charged, with possession."

Acree points out that "I used to be very involved in trademark law, and our threshold for trademark infringement was something that was 'confusingly similar.' And when you have a green sparkling soda that looks like a Mountain Dew and has a fun label on the front of it -- but in tiny print on the back, it says it's made with marijuana -- that's confusingly similar. I'm shocked you haven't seen General Mills or Post or any of these manufacturers down here talking about trademark violations.

"You can't tell the difference between Rice Krispies treats you buy at Target and some of these other ones. They look just alike. And we're seeing suckers packaged in a way that they could easily end up in the hands of children on school grounds. And patients who are drinking these sodas and eating these products have no way of knowing how much THC is in there. That's not safe, either. If it's a medicinal product, it needs to not only be marketed as a medicinal product, but be clearly identified as a medicinal product."

One possible solution to these issues would be legislation establishing rules for packaging and labeling. But Acree feels the difficulties run so deep that prohibition is the only logical course.

"The constitution only obligates us to provide the product for patients who need it for medical purposes -- and this is far beyond that. This is a new product," she maintains. "This is still against federal law, and while the federal government has been very restrained in terms of stepping on the rights of states that allow this, it's still illegal. That sets people up for when it's dispensed improperly. We're not saying people have to smoke marijuana to get the medical benefits, and we're not trying to deny people access. We just have to consider the problems we're having in the marketplace with an industry that really has no basis in statute."

This "immediate response to an immediate problem" is still one that gives Acree pause. "I think those of us who really believe in liberty are torn. At what point do we protect those constituents who might be harmed by this? It's a tough call, but I've been getting enough concerned comments from family members, state law enforcement officers, school officials and officials from public health departments that there's a problem -- and that waiting two or three more years to figure out the solution isn't good enough."

Thus far, Acree says she's received "some support" from her fellow legislators, as well as backing from "some marijuana people, who don't want to see this commercialized to the point where their patients are being harmed. They want to be responsible about this, because we can't utilize the FDA. There's no federal testing like there is with pharmaceuticals and clinical trials, because it's against federal law. So we're at a huge disadvantage here. We can't treat this like we would treat any other food or medicinal product."

She adds, "We just want to make sure our patients and kids are safe, and that we're not allowing something that's truly going to be more problematic than the problems it's designed to help."

The public discussion of HB 1250 will take place today in the Old Supreme Court Chambers -- "probably about ten or elevenish," Acree estimates. Page down to see the bill itself, as well as a release about the get-together from an opponent of the measure, the Cannabis Therapy Institute.

Colorado House Bill 11-1250

Cannabis Therapy Institute release:

Edible Medicine Ban Hearing on Tuesday (3/1)

House Bill 11-1250 will outlaw all medicinal cannabis edible products in the state, overturning the licensing scheme for Infused Products Manufacturers that was created by the state legislature last year. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Cindy Acree (R-Arapahoe and Elbert Counties) and Sen. Scott Renfroe (R-Weld County).

This bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. The public hearing on the bill has been set for March 1, 2011. This will be the public's ONLY TIME TO COMMENT on the bill, until it is moved to the Senate. PLEASE BRING ALL YOUR PATIENTS TO SPEAK OUT AT THIS HEARING. This is a serious attack on patient rights, and we must show the Committee that will not allow them to prohibit this important cannabis therapy.


Tues., March 1, 2011

LOCATION: ROOM CHANGE: Now in Old Supreme Court Chambers, 2nd Floor, state Capitol Building, 200 E. Colfax, Denver, CO

TIME ESTIMATE: According to the official House Calendar, the hearing on HB1250 is scheduled to begin "upon adjournment". This means when the Representatives adjourn from their morning session on the House Floor, they will start the hearing on HB1250. What time they start the hearing all depends on how many items are on the House calendar for that morning, so there is no way to say the official start time of the hearing.

It would be safest to show up earlier, maybe around 9am or 10am. Our guess is that testimony will be taken from around 10am to 12noon. The hearing will break at noon for lunch, and then reconvene at 1:30pm only if there is more testimony to hear.

Capitol Bill Room Call the Bill Room for status on bills and any last minute time changes. (303) 866-3055

Go to the state legislature's page to see the calendar or read the bill. http://www.leg.state.co.us/

Attire: Dress to Impress Provisions: Bring food and water, as the hearing may last a while.

LISTEN LIVE ONLINE You listen online to the House Judiciary Committee hearing: http://www.coloradochannel.net/

More from our Marijuana archive: "Butane hash has hidden dangers, says edibles maker arguing against controversial solvent."

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