AURORA — Changes to the appearance of marijuana edibles to make them identifiable to children will be taken up by Colorado regulators with a bill signed into law Wednesday.
Gov. John Hickenlooper also signed a bill Wednesday to eventually set limits on marijuana possession in its concentrated form, which yields far more servings than identical amounts in its plant form.
The bills were signed at the Children's Hospital in Aurora, where doctors say they've seen an increase in accidental ingestions of marijuana products. Last year, there were a total of eight children treated for eating marijuana, compared to nine children so far this year, said Dr. Michael DiStefano, medical director of the emergency department at the hospital.
The new law on edibles calls for the Colorado Department of Revenue to convene a group of stakeholders by Aug. 1 to look at what rules should be in place to make marijuana edibles clearly identifiable, as well as possible changes to dosing amounts. Rules are due by Jan. 1, 2016.
"Marijuana edibles are dangerous in the hands of kids, and that has become all too familiar to the folks here at Children's Hospital," said Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, one of the sponsors of the bill.
McNulty said the goal is to change how edibles are manufactured to make sure parents, doctors and children at playgrounds can tell when candy is infused with pot.
"It is absolutely reckless to use children's snacks, spray marijuana on them and then sell them," he said. "They will end up in the hands of kids, and we've seen the effects that they have had in the hands of kids."
The other law is aimed at setting possession limits for concentrated marijuana, such as hash oil, which are used to infuse edibles. Currently, Colorado adults can possess up to an ounce of marijuana without regard to whether it's leafy flowers or concentrated oils. However, in its concentrated form, an ounce of pot can contain 10 times more servings than an ounce in plant form.
The new law directs state regulators to determine by Jan. 1, 2016, how much concentrated pot is equal to an ounce of leafy pot.
Marijuana industry attorneys praised the new laws.
"As the trailblazing state for this new industry, Colorado has a special responsibility to constantly improve its laws and regulations," said Christian Sederberg, a marijuana attorney who worked on the voter-approved amendment that legalized the drug.