Pot law aims to protect kids

Separate measure deals with concentrates


A Highlands Ranch legislator hopes that a new marijuana law will help keep the drug out of the hands of children.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on May 21 signed into law a bill that aims to distinguish cannabis-infused edibles like candy and cookies from other foods so that kids don't accidentally consume the drug.

Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, a bill sponsor, said that by requiring edibles to be packaged in a way that makes them easy to identify as containing marijuana, fewer children would end up having to be hospitalized for accidental ingestion.

“It certainly gives parents and teachers and school resource officers the tool that they need to identify these things and keep them out of kids' hands,” McNulty said.

The bill was signed at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, where nine children have been treated for marijuana ingestion so far this year.

The bill creates a task force that will determine the rules to make marijuana edibles clearly identifiable. That includes what kinds of markings are on the packaging or on the edibles themselves.

The bill is a change from its original form, which sought to prohibit companies from “selling things that look like kid snacks, lacing them with THC and turning around and selling them to adults,” McNulty said. However, that effort had to be pulled back after it ran into problems during the legislative process.

“I would have liked to have gone further, but we had to work within the process we had,” McNulty said. “And I think the end product moves us to a direction of keeping kids safe.”

Hickenlooper also signed into law a separate bill that regulates the amount of concentrated marijuana that a person can possess.

Under Amendment 64, which was approved by voters in 2012, adults are allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, regardless of whether it is in plant “bud” form or in concentrated form, such as hash oil.

But concentrated pot can contain many more servings than in plant form. The new law addresses that by requiring the state to determine how much concentrated pot is equal to an ounce of leafy marijuana.

Both bills received bipartisan sponsorship and support at the General Assembly.

Christian Sederberg, a marijuana attorney, said the Legislature did a good job this year in dealing with the new territory of legalized pot sales and consumption.

“At the end of the session, there were a number of responsible bills that add to the regulatory structure and provide opportunities for the program to continue to improve,” he said.