Pubdate: Sun, 09 Feb 2014
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2014 Star Advertiser
Author: Jack Healy, New York Times


DENVER - 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 non-threatening 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 
and coughing.

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, serving sizes and expiration dates.

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 
onramp for younger users.

"They're attractive to kids; they're easily disguised," said Gina 
Carbone of Smart Colorado, a group that opposes legalization. 
"They're not being regulated properly at all to protect kids."

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 marijuana exposures.

Marijuana, even if consumed by children in high doses, poses few of 
the grave dangers of overdosing on alcohol or drinking household 
chemicals. But doctors said young children who consume marijuana are 
at risk of falling and hurting themselves or falling asleep in a 
position where they could not breathe.

Regulators, manufacturers and retailers say they are working 
intensely to keep marijuana - edible or not - safe and tightly 
regulated. If they fail, federal authorities have warned they could 
step in and take action.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom