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Packages of marijuana-infused candy were on display at the LoDo Wellness Center in Denver last week.

Matthew Staver • New York Times,

Evelyn Hernandez of Longmont, Colo., found and ate part of a cookie containing marijuana last month. Taken to a hospital, the 2-year-old tested positive for THC. She’s OK now.

KCNC-TV Denver,

Marijuana drinks, candies make Colorado parents nervous

  • Article by: JACK HEALY
  • New York Times
  • February 1, 2014 - 6:29 PM

 

– All day long, customers at LoDo Wellness Center, one of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana stores, reach into the refrigerator and pull out tasty ways to get high. They buy sparkling peach and mandarin elixirs, watermelon Dew Drops, and sleek silver bags of chocolate truffles, each one packed with marijuana’s potent punch.

“The stuff just flies off the shelves,” said Linda Andrews, the store’s owner.

As marijuana tiptoes further toward the legal mainstream, marijuana-infused snacks have become a booming business, with varieties ranging from chocolate-peppermint Mile High Bars to peanut butter candies infused with hash oil.

Retail shops see them as a nonthreatening way into the shallow end of the marijuana pool, ideal for older customers, tourists staying in smoke-free hotels or anyone who wants the effect without the smoke.

But the popularity of edible marijuana has alarmed parents’ groups, schools and some doctors, who say the highly concentrated snacks are increasingly landing in the hands of teenagers looking for a sweet, discreet high, or of children too young to know the difference between pot brownies and regular ones.

Colorado, like the other states with medical or recreational marijuana, has tried to keep the products away from children. It has ordered stores to sell them in child-resistant packages and bars labels designed to appeal to children. It requires manufacturers to list ingredients and serving sizes.

But critics say the regulations are not strict enough, especially for products that can contain 10 times as much psychoactive THC as the marijuana a casual user might take. And like flavored cigarettes or wine coolers, critics say, edible marijuana offers a dangerously easy on-ramp for younger users.

One survey has found a small but growing number of children seeking treatment after accidentally consuming marijuana. Fourteen such children visited the emergency department of Children’s Hospital Colorado in the Denver area from October 2009 through December 2011, researchers reported in 2013 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Before 2009, researchers reported no such exposures.

Regulators, manufacturers and retailers say they are working to keep marijuana — edible or not — safe and tightly regulated. If they fail, federal authorities have warned they could step in. So far, the state has given licenses to 34 “retail marijuana product manufacturers,” who extract THC-rich oil from marijuana plants to make everything from lip balm and lotion to chocolate candies.

© 2014 Star Tribune