THC limits for pot edibles pushed by leaders of state's product-potency working group

The Colorado Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division held a session on product potency yesterday at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, where a working group discussed how to make sure that marijuana edible serving sizes are safe for consumers. Much of the talk focused on packaging, and how to make it clear what the side effects of eating a certain milligram level of THC might be.

"We want to make it as safe and responsible as possible for the consumer to consume these products. The challenge is in the individual serving size," explained Rob Kammerzell, head of the Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees the industry.

The group was put together by Kammerzell and his co-chair, Lewis Koski, to represent a wide range of people who play some role in the marijuana industry. Members include Julie Berliner of Sweet Grass Kitchens, Meg Collins from the Cannabis Business Alliance, the Colorado District Attorney Council's Chris Haslor and Dr. Michael Kosnett with the Colorado School of Public Health.

The meeting came in the wake of recent news stories involving edibles: the death of Levy Thamba, a Wyoming college student, after eating more than a recommended amount of a cookie and fell off a balcony, and Kristine Kirk's murder at the hands of her husband, Richard Kirk, after he had allegedly consumed pot candy and pain killers.

Many members of the group, including Kammerzell and Koski, said they believe edibles should contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC so there are no issues with "overdosing" on weed. "I think one of the biggest challenges is going to be how unique our program is," Koski said, "and as we try to work through or make modifications to these regulations, the challenge is trying to find common ground."

But Max Montrose, a cannabis educator and activist, doesn't agree with putting a limit at 10 milligrams, since many people have a high tolerance. "if you're gonna put 5 milligrams in a pot brownie, I'll have to eat five brownies and I'll have diabetes before I get high," he said after the meeting. Montrose is not part of the working group, but he and a number of other individuals were each given two minutes to share their views after the official discussion was over.

Some group members suggested holding classes for budtenders so they are more informed about how to sell edibles to customers -- and Montrose agrees with that. "I have wanted a budtender certification course forever," he said. "You have to have a license to paint nails and cut hair."

Dr. George Sam Wang of Children's Hospital Colorado and Andrew Freedman, director of marijuana coordination for the Governor John Hickenlooper's office, talked about the importance of keeping children away from marijuana products -- which can be difficult because edibles often look like sweet treats kids would like to eat. The hospital has cared for eight children in the past year who had THC in their system, they said, stressing that it's vital to make childproof bags and containers not only for edibles, but for all marijuana products.

"We're four months into recreational, legal marijuana," said Marco Vasquez, representing the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police. "We're starting to see issues. We have a lot of work to do."

The group does not have a deadline for making its recommendations; there will be another meeting on May 15. The location of that meeting has not yet been determined.

From our archives: "Marijuana: How will testing of cannabis products and edibles work?."

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Melanie Moccia
Contact: Melanie Moccia