The Colorado state legislature is hoping to crack down on marijuana-infused food items that could too easily be confused for innocuous, non-psychedelic snacks, especially by kids.
The bill was given new urgency after two deaths in recent weeks that authorities believe may be linked to marijuana edibles.
A House committee unanimously approved a bill on Thursday that would require stricter warnings on packages of marijuana edibles and a ban on those that too closely resemble harmless name-brand treats like gummy bears.
Legislators cited several instances in which children accidentally ate marijuana products and several others in which adults had negative reactions to edibles, including nine who were sent to the hospital.
Current law already requires the packages to list an edible product’s dosage of THC and a warning, but lawmakers say it’s not enough.
“At the very least, make sure kids and adults know what they’re putting in their mouths, whether it’s a dessert [or] whether it’s a marijuana product,” Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer said on Denver’s 7News.
Marijuana packs a much different punch when consumed in a food product compared to when it’s smoked. Inhaling pot smoke or vapor produces a quick reaction in the smoker, but edibles must be digested before their effects are felt, sometime up to an hour later.
Inexperienced edibles consumers have been known to overindulge, thinking the product isn’t having the desired effect.
And worryingly, edibles have been named as possible factors in two recent deaths. One was of a Wyoming college student who ate six times the recommended amount of a pot cookie, began acting erratically, then jumped off a hotel balcony to his death. The coroner listed “marijuana intoxication” as a factor contributing to his death.
More recently, police arrested a father of three for fatally shooting his wife in the head while she was one the phone with a 911 dispatcher, saying her husband was hallucinating and raving about the end of the world. She told police he’d been using marijuana; investigators later found he’d eaten marijuana candy and may also have taken painkillers, according to the Denver Post.
A firm link between the marijuana ingestion and the shooting hasn’t been established in that case.
House Bill 1366 requires edibles packaging “to be shaped, stamped, colored, or otherwise marked with a standard symbol indicating that it contains marijuana and is not for consumption by children.”
It also bans products that could be easily confused with trademarked food items, like Swedish fish.
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