Medical marijuana: Rep. Cindy Acree says MMJ edibles ban needed to protect children, patients
We recently told you about HB 1250, a bill that appeared to ban the medical marijuana edibles industry in Colorado. Since then, there's been debate among MMJ community members -- fueled in part by articles like this -- about whether or not that was true. But in advance of today's scheduled debate on the measure, co-sponsoring Cindy Acree confirms that it is -- and she outlines a slew of reasons why she believes the edibles biz is bad for children and patients.
The Republican from House District 40 stresses that medical marijuana patients can still make their own edibles. "They can use it however they want: bake with it, drink it, whatever," she notes. "And it doesn't ban any of the base product, like the oils, the tinctures. If it's in a pill form and you want to grind it up, you can do whatever you want with it. The way it's written now preserves the integrity of the constitutional obligation to make sure patients have access to medicinal products. But the bill would ban edible food and beverage products."
Why? Acree has a myriad of concerns. "Things like 'pot tarts' are showing up on school grounds. And they don't have regulated doses. I think even patients are misled by some of these things.
"Remember, this is still against federal law," she continues. "Anyone who doesn't have a prescription who ends up with one of these products can be charged, and are in many cases charged, with possession."
Coconut almond cups from Simply Pure.
Acree points out that "I used to be very involved in trademark law, and our threshold for trademark infringement was something that was 'confusingly similar.' And when you have a green sparkling soda that looks like a Mountain Dew and has a fun label on the front of it -- but in tiny print on the back, it says it's made with marijuana -- that's confusingly similar. I'm shocked you haven't seen General Mills or Post or any of these manufacturers down here talking about trademark violations.
"You can't tell the difference between Rice Krispies treats you buy at Target and some of these other ones. They look just alike. And we're seeing suckers packaged in a way that they could easily end up in the hands of children on school grounds. And patients who are drinking these sodas and eating these products have no way of knowing how much THC is in there. That's not safe, either. If it's a medicinal product, it needs to not only be marketed as a medicinal product, but be clearly identified as a medicinal product."
One possible solution to these issues would be legislation establishing rules for packaging and labeling. But Acree feels the difficulties run so deep that prohibition is the only logical course.
"The constitution only obligates us to provide the product for patients who need it for medical purposes -- and this is far beyond that. This is a new product," she maintains. "This is still against federal law, and while the federal government has been very restrained in terms of stepping on the rights of states that allow this, it's still illegal. That sets people up for when it's dispensed improperly. We're not saying people have to smoke marijuana to get the medical benefits, and we're not trying to deny people access. We just have to consider the problems we're having in the marketplace with an industry that really has no basis in statute."
This "immediate response to an immediate problem" is still one that gives Acree pause. "I think those of us who really believe in liberty are torn. At what point do we protect those constituents who might be harmed by this? It's a tough call, but I've been getting enough concerned comments from family members, state law enforcement officers, school officials and officials from public health departments that there's a problem -- and that waiting two or three more years to figure out the solution isn't good enough."
An MMJ lollipop.
Thus far, Acree says she's received "some support" from her fellow legislators, as well as backing from "some marijuana people, who don't want to see this commercialized to the point where their patients are being harmed. They want to be responsible about this, because we can't utilize the FDA. There's no federal testing like there is with pharmaceuticals and clinical trials, because it's against federal law. So we're at a huge disadvantage here. We can't treat this like we would treat any other food or medicinal product."
She adds, "We just want to make sure our patients and kids are safe, and that we're not allowing something that's truly going to be more problematic than the problems it's designed to help."
The public discussion of HB 1250 will take place today in the Old Supreme Court Chambers -- "probably about ten or elevenish," Acree estimates. Page down to see the bill itself, as well as a release about the get-together from an opponent of the measure, the Cannabis Therapy Institute.