Colorado is reviewing how much pot is a reasonable amount to have in edible marijuana products, such as candies, cookies and beverages.
A statewide working group is meeting Wednesday for a fourth and final time before proposed rules on the issue are made public, most likely in the next couple of months, according to Natriece Bryant, spokeswomen for the Colorado Department of Revenue, tasked with marijuana oversight in the state.
Currently, a serving of a pot-infused edible can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and a product cannot contain more than 10 servings, or a total of 100 milligrams of THC.
However, Colorado marijuana laws do not dictate what constitutes a serving size.
The potency of marijuana edibles gained prominence recently when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote about her scary experience after eating a pot candy bar.
Moreover, marijuana edibles have gotten more scrutiny in recent months from state regulators after two deaths in Denver. In April, a woman was shot in the head by her husband while she was on the phone with 911. The woman had told the dispatcher that her husband was hallucinating and may have consumed a marijuana-infused edible and painkillers.
A month before that, a 19-year-old student fell to his death from a hotel balcony after eating six servings of a pot cookie. It's unclear the precise role of marijuana in the two deaths.
Soon after the incidents, a statewide working group began meeting to discuss potential rule changes for edibles.
When it comes to eating, having a high concentration of THC in a small amount of food runs counter to many Americans' expectations of large portion sizes, said Rachel O'Bryan, a volunteer with Smart Colorado, a not-for-profit made up of citizen volunteers that aims to ensure children are not harmed by the state's legal marijuana market.
"We're a Big Gulp nation, but we're putting a serving size of THC into mouthfuls," Bryan said.
Unlike smoking pot, edibles don't take effect immediately and give people a different kind of high, said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group and a member of the working group.
"We need to help make things a bit more intuitive," Elliott said.
Labels on edibles must already include the amount of THC in milligrams and the number of THC servings in the product. The working group is addressing other ways to make clear to consumers how many servings of THC they are ingesting.
Edibles have been a part of the medical marijuana market for years, where the race has been to make more and more potent products, Elliott said.
But with recreational pot, manufacturers are trying to figure out how much THC to deliver for a wider customer base, including novices.
At the same time, regular users are asking for the high-potency products.
"They say, I don't want to get diabetes to get THC. Don't make me eat 10 times as much sugar as everyone else," Elliott said. He added, "It's all kind of a balancing act."
Here are some of the potential rules the working group has considered, based on a document drafted by the group obtained by USA TODAY Network:
Score each serving
Each product would be scored (think a Kit Kat bar) or divided so that it is easily separated.
Mark each serving
Each serving would be marked or stamped with "10 THC."
When a serving cannot be clearly marked, then the product cannot contain more than 10 milligrams per individual package. This would apply, for example, to granola.
Wednesday's meeting will address beverages, Bryant said. It's not clear whether beverages will be subject to the 10 milligrams of THC per package requirement or another requirement. One suggestion has been to include a serving-size cup with the bottle, similar to what you would find with a liquid medicine, like NyQuil.
USA TODAY Network
11:24 a.m. EDT June 17, 2014
The Newhawks Crew
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