Edible marijuana survives challenge in Colorado

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
John Prieto/The Denver Post/APMedical-marijuana patient Nancy Blose of Colorado Springs, left, listens to testimony about pot "edibles" during Tuesday's hearing by the House Judiciary Committee at the state Capitol.

DENVER – Edible marijuana survived a challenge in Colorado on Tuesday when a state lawmaker withdrew her proposal to ban pot-infused products in favor of optional child-proof packaging standards.

The House Judiciary approved the bill 7-3 after it was changed to allow, but not require, state regulators to call for tamper-proof packaging. No edible products were banned.

Earlier this month, dozens of marijuana activists testified against the proposed ban. The sponsor said she intended it to prevent candies and other sweets from improperly being eaten by children. But many patients and even some doctors pointed out that marijuana is safer to eat than to smoke.

After the vote, sponsoring Rep. Cindy Acree said she didn’t intend to limit patient access to edible marijuana. The new version, which faces another committee before heading to the full House, simply allows tamper-proof packages.

“My biggest concern in all this is the safety of children,” said Acree, R-Aurora.

Colorado’s Department of Revenue has already proposed sweeping regulations on the safe production of marijuana edibles, including labeling requirements. Even though Acree’s bill was dramatically watered down, some in the Judiciary Committee wondered whether edible marijuana packaging should be put in law at all.

“We’re getting so far down in the weeds in the specifics that I could see use coming back next year and the next year and the next,” said Democratic Rep. Sue Ryden of Aurora, who voted against the watered-down version.

A few marijuana activists attended the vote and said that even the watered-down bill should have been rejected.

Laura Kriho, outreach coordinator for the Cannabis Therapy Institute, pointed out that state regulators are already moving toward safety and labeling requirement for pot brownies and other edibles.

“It’s unnecessary,” Kriho said of the amended bill.

The state’s largest marijuana lobby, the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, applauded the changes, focusing on the fact that edibles weren’t banned.

“Banning edibles would hurt our patients’ ability to access their medicine, so this compromise is a much-needed step towards protecting that access,” Stacey Vilos-Fauth, owner of edible marijuana producer Gaia’s Garden Group, said in a statement after the vote.

In addition to removing the ban on edibles, lawmakers erased two things opposed by state regulators.

Lawmakers took out any limits on marijuana advertising after regulators warned advertising rules could trigger free-speech challenges. Lawmakers also removed a reference to “food and drink” after health regulators said the phrase could inadvertently trigger food safety requirements.