Colorado weighs difficulties of pot regulations

Nov 26, 2010 By KRISTEN WYATT , Associated Press
In this Friday, Nov. 19, 2010 picture, samples of marijuana are tested in an oven at Full Spectrum Laboratories in Denver. "You don't go into a Walgreens with a headache and put on a blindfold and pick something off a shelf. But that's what some people are doing when they buy marijuana," said Buckie Minor of Full Spectrum Laboratories, which currently does voluntary marijuana analysis for about 100 growers and dispensaries. Minor and others in the pot business say industry standards are needed. But Colorado officials are having a tough time writing regulations for a product that's never been scrutinized or safety-tested before. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

(AP) -- What's in that joint, and how can you be sure it's safe?

Colorado is working toward becoming the first state to regulate production of medical marijuana. Regulators say consumers deserve to know what they're smoking, and producers should have safety regulations such as pesticide limits for plants destined for human consumption.

Right now, patients have no way to verify pot-shop claims that certain products are organic, or how potent a strain might be.

"You don't go into a Walgreens with a headache and put on a blindfold and pick something off a shelf. But that's what some people are doing when they buy marijuana," said Buckie Minor of Full Spectrum Laboratories in Denver, which currently does voluntary marijuana analysis for about 100 growers and dispensaries.

Minor and others in the pot business say industry standards are needed. But Colorado officials are having a tough time writing regulations for a product that's never been scrutinized or safety-tested before.

New Mexico requires marijuana products to be labeled by strain and potency, and is planning by the end of the year to allow health inspectors to review samples. But currently none of the 14 states that allow medical marijuana regulate how it's grown.

"There's no experience with this," said Dr. Alan Shackelford, a Denver physician heading up Colorado's effort to write labeling and safety regulations for medical marijuana.

Colorado hopes to have in place by early next year some sort of labeling and inspection standard for marijuana sold commercially, under provisions of a new state law. But it's a daunting task. Physicians, pot shop owners and state regulators all say standards are needed but guidelines don't exist. Some of the questions:

-Should marijuana sellers be able to attach medical claims to their products? What if no research exists to back up a claim that a certain strain of pot is best for, say, pain or nausea?

-Should medical pot be labeled by potency? Patients using over-the-counter and prescription drugs can read the medicine's ingredients, but no analogy exists for pot's active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

-What about chemicals, such as or fertilizers, used on marijuana plants? Should those be limited, as they are for food and tobacco?

-Agencies that routinely inspect farms, restaurants and pharmaceutical factories have no experience regulating pot. Can they be tapped to inspect marijuana grows?

-What happens if someone gets sick from ? Should growing operations have guidelines to limit contamination, such as mildew and mold?

"Given the lack of USDA or other oversight of this agricultural industry, we're at square one," Shackelford said when introducing proposed regulations recently.

According to regulators and physicians on the committee to establish regulations under the new law, the recommendations are likely to include basic labeling requirements, including potency. The regulations are also likely to call for pot growers to submit random samples for state testing, and rules for labeling pot products "organic."

Shackelford says he'll borrow from federal tobacco regulations for limits on chemicals that can be used in material to be smoked or ingested.

The regulations will also likely include the nation's first guidelines for the safe production of hashish, which is concentrated marijuana. Hash production can be a fire risk because it's often prepared using butane, and sometimes hash is made using plastics that can leave unsafe carcinogens as residue.

Matt Cook, who leads the Department of Revenue committee considering the new regulations, conceded that state regulators face a challenge overseeing the state pot supply.

"How do I enforce this?" Cook asked Shackelford when the doctor was talking about limiting pesticide use on the plants. "I just don't want to create something that creates a regulatory nightmare for all of us."

But the so-called "ganjapreneuers" working in the business say that regulation and safety standards are needed.

"Patients are definitely interested to get as much information as they can about what they're ingesting," Minor said.

Explore further: Pack a travel first-aid kit for the holidays

More information:
Colorado Department of Revenue marijuana guidelines: http://tinyurl.com/36t4hqt

Full Spectrum Laboratories: http://fullspectrumlabs.com

4 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Calif. regulators warn of pot's cancer capability

Jul 04, 2009

(AP) -- It might take Californians a puff or two to get their heads around an apparent contradiction recently enshrined in state law. The same marijuana smoke that doctors can recommend to ease cancer patients' suffering ...

US bans 'fake' marijuana chemicals

Nov 24, 2010

US authorities slapped a temporary ban Wednesday on chemicals used to make so-called "fake marijuana" that has been used as a legal alternative to pot.

Conservative county OKs medical pot

Jul 18, 2007

Conservative Orange County, Calif., will license the use of medical marijuana and issue ID cards to patients entitled to use it.

Recommended for you

Pregnant woman taken off life support in Ireland

Dec 26, 2014

A brain-dead pregnant woman was taken off life support Friday after a court ruled that her 18-week-old fetus was doomed to die—a case that exposed fear and confusion among doctors over how to apply Ireland's ...

'Tis the season to overeat

Dec 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Overeating is common during the holidays, but there are strategies that can help you eat in moderation, an expert says.

Don't let burns mar your holidays

Dec 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—The risk of burns from fires and cooking accidents increases during the holidays, so you need to be extra cautious, an expert says.

User comments : 8

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

cgreg009
2 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2010
When was the last time you heard of somebody being physically harmed from bad pot? When was the last time you heard of bad pot????!!! other than being laced with other drugs. It's all a bunch of bullshit.
dtxx
2.4 / 5 (5) Nov 26, 2010
-Should medical pot be labeled by potency? Patients using over-the-counter and prescription drugs can read the medicine's ingredients, but no analogy exists for pot's active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.


Really? Are you sure there's just one? About all that measurement is good for is screening out industrial hemp.
COCO
1.6 / 5 (10) Nov 26, 2010
take your chances with this deadly narcotic - stick to tobacco whose control by government maximize the benign effects. There is NO safe level of cannibis - once tried the drug and side-effects last a life time - albeit a short one.
Bob_B
5 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2010
It is easy to pass off as a joke, but mold, mildew, chemicals used to grow the plant not flushed properly, and.... can be very hard on some patients.
Since we are talking 'medicinal' rather than 'getting high' you'd probably want as pure a drug to use for your health, why deny other patients purity?
15 States and several others on the verge of allowing medical cannabis for patients in their States.
StillWind
2.8 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2010
One of the worst fears of those who want to promote legal cannabis, is that the government gets involved and screws the whole works up, just like it has done with everything else.
I can't imagine anyone with any amount of experience, not being aware of "bad pot", and let's not forget that negative reactions do result in a significant number of emergency room visits, so there is clearly precedent for some kind of standardization of cannabis products.
It would serve us all better, if the "industry' steps up and takes care of itself, rather than have Big Brother step in and do it for us.
ormondotvos
3 / 5 (2) Nov 26, 2010
Strong proponent of negative testing, i.e. testing for bad stuff like paraquat, lead, various bad alkaloids, mold, residue from drying and hash extraction techniques to get a standardized product.

Definitely click on the lab. Might be a good business to get into when your little home pot farm is massacred by the big boys.
Cave_Man
5 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2010
you are dumb as shit. what about pesticides, fertilizer, flavoring additives, plant hormones, or even some people spraying synthetic thc variants on low quality weed to give it the appearance of being chronic ala "spice". we dont live in the 1800's anymore otherwise i would agree with you
Ravenrant
not rated yet Nov 29, 2010
Trying to regulate THC content is a complete waste of time, experienced users self regulate their intake. Regular users have a much higher tolerance which develops over a few days and diminishes just as quickly.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.