Edible marijuana rules tightened in Colorado

BY William Brangham  August 1, 2014 at 6:44 PM EST

Individually-packaged and labeled products offered by Ganja Gourmet in Denver, Colorado, include marijuana-infused candy. New regulations will limit the potency of edibles. Photo by Dustin Bradford/MCT via Getty Images

Individually-packaged and labeled products offered by Ganja Gourmet in Denver, Colorado, include marijuana-infused candy. New regulations will limit the potency of edibles. Photo by Dustin Bradford/MCT via Getty Images


Manufacturers of edible pot products sold in Colorado will now face tougher rules about how potent those products are, how they’re packaged, and exactly what constitutes a proper “serving size.”

Since recreational marijuana sales began at the beginning of this year in Colorado, sales of edibles – items like pot-infused sodas, chocolates, brownies and gummy bears – have become hugely popular. Unfortunately, because of inconsistent labeling and potency, many inexperienced consumers have inadvertently eaten far more THC than they intended. THC is the main psychoactive substance in marijuana.

After New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd consumed an entire pot-laced chocolate bar earlier this summer, she described descending into “a halluncinatory state” for eight hours, that left her “panting and paranoid.” Earlier this spring, a visiting college student fell from a balcony and died after consuming several pot-infused cookies.

According to the Denver Post, the new rules on edibles is aimed at keeping the potency of small, bite-sized edibles well within regulated limits. While edibles can still contain up to 100 mg of THC, going forward, they must be easily broken up into smaller portions that contain 10 mg of THC or less, which is the standard “serving size” per state law. The new rules also require single serving-size edibles and liquids to be sold in child-resistant packages.

As the PBS NewsHour reported in April, the rising potency of marijuana has alarmed some public health advocates. Dr. Nora Volkow, the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said that while experienced marijuana users may be able to “titrate,” or modulate, their intake of marijuana products to get the desired effect, those with no experience are much more vulnerable.

“If you are a regular user and an expert on how you’re expected to feel with marijuana, you may be able to titrate,” Volkow told the NewsHour. “But if you are not such an expert, how are you going to?” She said this problem is exacerbated when people are eating marijuana products because, unlike smoking the drug, where the effect is felt immediately, digestion often delays the effects.

Colorado’s new rules will go into effect on November 1st.