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Colorado cracks down on marijuana-based munchies

Published time: May 22, 2014 13:31
Reuters / Mark Leffingwell

Reuters / Mark Leffingwell

Colorado passed a law on Wednesday that increases the state’s regulatory oversight on edible and concentrated forms of cannabis, after safety concerns following two deaths with possible links to pot-based food.

Signed into power by Governor John Hickenlooper, the law says products that contain marijuana must be easily distinguishable from regular foods.

"Sadly, cases of children ingesting marijuana are on the rise in Colorado," said State Senator Mike Johnston, the bill's main sponsor. "By improving labeling and giving kids a way to tell the difference between a snack and a harmful substance, we can keep kids ... out of the emergency room."

The second part of the legislation limits the amount of marijuana that can be sold to an individual. Presently, one ounce of regular leafy marijuana is held to the same standards as an equivalent amount of more powerful forms of the drug.

Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, which passed in November, 2012, by a narrow 54-46 margin, has not been without some dramatic pitfalls.

In March, a young man from Wyoming jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony after consuming six times the recommended dose of a marijuana-infused cookie. The following month, a Denver man was charged with the shooting death of his wife after eating pot-laced candy, although investigators suspect he may have had other drugs in his system, too.

Meanwhile, a Colorado children's hospital said it has witnessed an increase in the number of admissions of children who consumed pot-laced products since the start of the year.

"Since the ... legalization of recreational marijuana sales, Children's Colorado has treated nine children, six of whom became critically ill from edible marijuana," a statement from Colorado Children's Hospital said, as Reuters quoted.

The sale of legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the two states that have taken the pot plunge, is estimated to be a $1.43 billion industry, with sales expected to hit $2.34 billion in 2014.

Is America’s sudden fascination with legalizing recreational marijuana a two-prong effort to boost the economy, as well as dull the pain of a lingering financial crisis?

According to a January article in Rolling Stone magazine, America is experiencing “a political movement giving birth to an economic awakening,” which it has liberally branded “one of the greatest business opportunities of the 21st century.”

While it remains doubtful that the legalization of drugs will be the saving grace for the faltering US economy, straddled as it is with enormous debt and high-level corruption, at least the packaging for the “economic awakening” takes into consideration peoples’ health and wellbeing.

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