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Colorado Gives Cannabis Candy a New Look to Avoid Confusion

September 30, 2016
In this Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, photo, candy bars wrapped in new packaging to indicate that the products contain marijuana are shown in the kitchen of BlueKudu candy in the historic Five Points District of Denver. A new Colorado requirement, which goes into effect this Saturday, makes edible producers to label their goods with a diamond-shaped stamp and the letters T-H-C to distinguish the treats from their non-intoxicating counterparts. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
DENVER (AP) — Wondering if that brownie contains cannabis? Colorado has you covered.

A requirement that edible marijuana products come with a diamond-shaped stamp and the letters T-H-C — not just on the packaging but on the brownies, candies and other edibles themselves — takes effect Saturday.

The rule referencing marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient was added after complaints that the treats look too much their non-intoxicating counterparts. It is the first such requirement in any legal cannabis state.

Colorado’s new “universal symbol” for foods that contain marijuana is designed to give the treats a distinct look even after they’re out of the packaging. In other words, a pot cookie being passed around a high school cafeteria no longer will look so innocent, giving parents a way to identify marijuana edibles without smelling or tasting them.

Candies and baked goods may be simple to stamp, but the label requirement gets a lot trickier for bulk items such as granola.

The stamping requirement comes in addition to exhaustive labeling and packaging rules that include childproof zippers and lids, along with warnings that the product should be kept away from children and not eaten before driving or while pregnant or nursing.

“We want to ensure that people genuinely know the difference between a Duncan Hines brownie and a marijuana brownie, just by looking at it,” said state Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat who sponsored the law requiring stamped edibles.

There are no numbers in Colorado or any marijuana state on how many children or adults accidentally eat cannabis products. But a 2016 study tracing admissions at Children’s Hospital Colorado just outside Denver found that more kids were treated for accidental cannabis ingestion after legalization, from 1.2 per 100,000 population two years prior to legalization to 2.3 per 100,000 population two years after legalization.

Marijuana ingestions remained relatively rare, though, with the hospital reporting 81 children treated for accidental ingestion between 2009 and 2015. Authors noted that “poor child supervision or product storage” was present in about a third of those cases.

Still, reported accidental ingestions caught lawmakers’ attention. The law was passed more than a year ago but is just now taking effect because of difficulties implementing it. None of the other legal states has considered a universal symbol requirement for marijuana products themselves, as opposed to the packaging.

Candies and baked goods may be simple to stamp, but the label requirement gets a lot trickier for bulk items such as granola, or marijuana-infused sodas or powders that can be dissolved in water. The state ultimately settled on new packaging rules for those impossible-to-stamp items, requiring that sodas come in small single-serve bottles, for example.


Why Are Legal States Setting More Limits on Cannabis?

Colorado also requires that edible packages contain the phrase, “Keep out of reach of children.”

At BlueKudu, which makes marijuana-infused chocolates, owners had to buy new molds for a line of candy bars that include flavors like mint chocolate, toffee almond and coffee crunch.

Company founder Andrew Schrot said that when he started his company in 2011 for medical marijuana customers, his pot treats looked like any other chocolate bars. But he said the switch to a recreational market in which new marijuana users were trying his products necessitated change.

“This is not your normal chocolate bar. There’s something different about it. You can tell just from looking at it,” Schrot said.

Chocolate bars marked with Colorado’s new diamond-shaped stamp noting that the product contains cannabis. State officials require the stamp to be put directly on edibles after complaints that the treats look too much like their non-intoxicating counterparts. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Colorado’s marijuana industry initially was hesitant about the change, pointing out in regulatory meetings that alcohol makers aren’t required to dye their drinks funny colors to make sure parents don’t let kids get ahold of the booze.

“Some of the industry expectation was, ‘Let’s keep it on the parents and the users in keeping it away from children or people who shouldn’t use it,'” Schrot said. “But you know, sometimes mistakes happen. You turn your back and a product is left out.”

Colorado has no estimate of how many accidental ingestions might be avoided by the stamping. Starting next year, the state also will ban any edible marijuana products in the shape of a fruit, animal or human — in addition to existing bans on the use of cartoon characters on packages or other images deemed attractive to kids.


Colorado Will Ban Cannabis Gummy Bears

“It’s really a step in enhancing public safety and making sure that marijuana is out of the hands of children,” said Ron Kammerzell, head of enforcement for the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.

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  • Superdude

    Im ok with this regulation but lets not kid ourselves that HS kids cant take edibles to school. Most edibles are self made and would not have such a stamp. Also, most ODs are people that know they are consuming cannabis but take far far too much. I guess Im saying I doubt it will cut hospital visits.

    • Liam Kelly

      I wonder, what is the treatment for overindulgence? Most likely time and supervision I would think. OD may be too strong a claim on Marijuana overindulgence.

      • Superdude

        Not true Laim. There have actually been one or two cases of actual OD’d deaths now. I believe its an issue with cardiac arrest. My personal, completely anecdotal, thoughts on the treatment for a cannabis OD is a massive amount of sugar. I dont have a sweet tooth so every time I ate sugar after smoking it would sober me up. Also, the craving, the munchies, for sugar has been well documented obviously and MIGHT be the the bodies way of counter acting the cannabis. This has been well documented in pregnant women… that they will get craving for things that the body needs. I had a boss once that craved dirt because her body needed minerals. Weird, but true. Probably.

        • Dated Art

          I would like to see the documentation on the “one or two cases of actual OD’d deaths now.”

          • billdeserthills

            I’m sure getting high on pot has led to plenty of stupid accidental deaths, just like alcohol–which is one reason I don’t get stoned and drive around

          • Larry Davis

            Me too. People might have died from something they did while high, like jumping off a building, but no ones died from the drug itself. There was a recent article in Washington Post I believe that said scientists think it would require eating nine pounds of cannabis at one setting for it to be lethal. Heck, that much jello would probably kill you too.

        • billdeserthills

          Actually there is a medical condition involving people who crave dirt–I saw something about it on ‘A 1,000 Ways to Die’

        • Superdude

          I would like to know about these people too. Im not saying cannabis is unsafe, just that ODing in a few cases is real. I’m sure in every case someone did something stupid and should have known better.

      • billdeserthills

        Keep on eating, you’ll come down

        • Philip Cammarano

          Well my 2 cents on the whole thing is BS! I made a tincture using 4 and 1/2 oz of cannabis and kief. Used jack herer blue dream and some of my homegrown indicas! I take 6 mgs in my coffee in the am I dunno probably about 500 to 800 mgs of thc aND ALL THE ASSORTED other essential terpenes etc because I do an alcohol extraction. My tincture tastes a whole lot green but my arthritic back is on the mend I am almost totally off opiates after almost 25 yrs on em and my overall health and welfare has improved by 100% imho you cannot of on thc or cbd u might feel uncomfortable because you are aware now of your whole being and of course a young child would have problems with that much input! That’s my take on the whole b s of oding on vannabis bah is like oding on acid would take way more than your body could consume, now whether you would come back with a mind after doing a bottle or 3 of acid is debatable but sleep the weed off and you come back you! Only healthier!

  • Seems far more responsible than trying to make them look like commercial confections. Cartoons characters on blotter acid was moronic as well.

  • Badger

    Next in the breaking news, “Consuming marijuana may cause the following problems!”

    Sensory distortion
    Poor coordination of movement
    Lowered reaction time
    After an initial “up,” the user feels sleepy or depressed
    Increased heartbeat (and risk of heart attack)

    Reduced resistance to common illnesses (colds, bronchitis, etc.)
    Suppression of the immune system
    Growth disorders
    Increase of abnormally structured cells in the body
    Reduction of male sex hormones
    Rapid destruction of lung fibers and lesions (injuries) to the brain could be permanent
    Reduced sexual capacity
    Study difficulties: reduced ability to learn and retain information
    Apathy, drowsiness, lack of motivation
    Personality and mood changes
    Inability to understand things clearly

  • HeinekenPete

    …”Marijuana ingestions remained relatively rare”. From 1.2 per 100,000 to 2.3 per 100,000. Take that into consideration when prohibitionist’s tout a “more that 100% increase in accidential marijuana ingestions” to children after legalization! Put into perspective, that’s two people out of the largest football stadiums in the country.
    Don’t buy into “percentage increases” when discussing the alledged “harms” legalization has caused. The actual numbers affected are very, very small. If you want to discuss harms from children poisionings, look to laundry detergent packets…

    • billdeserthills

      Right now in arizona those bastards are claiming that Colorado’s auto driving is worse too, since recreational use was made legal

  • billdeserthills

    This isn’t going to stop one kid from trying to eat a big candy chocolate bar looking thing–I remember finding the unsweetened chocolate in Mom’s spice cabinet, one taste of that bitter chocolate was all I needed

  • billdeserthills

    OMFG now they’re gonna ban thc gummy bears–I haven’t even tried any yet–You Bastards

  • HeinekenPete

    …the (relatively) few number of kids who consume THC edibles that result in medical attention are because the adults of the household were not responsible securing their stash, and shouldn’t be the reason to continue an 80 year-old prohibitionist drug policy that criminalizes the other 22 million monthly users. That’s 1-in-8 Americans, the vast majority of whom responsibly use marijuana to relax or to medicate.