Despite the fact that the Colorado government legalized marijuana edibles immediately, the public official responsible for monitoring its cannabis system recently endorsed Canada’s decision to delay their legalization, saying that it makes logical sense. Officials in the Canadian government say that they eventually intend to permit edibles, such as weed cookies, but will only allow smoking products for now.
Speaking at the House of Commons health committee on Friday morning, that is hearing concerns on the marijuana bill, Daniel Vigil, Colorado’s health official, said that developing regulations for edible products before the legalization deadline of July 1, 2018, is likely too soon. He thinks it wiser to wait until after retail sales go live.
“I think ultimately they should be included, but it is very important to get it right,” Vigil said. “If that takes some time and some learning from the smoked market, then I would be in agreement with that.” He recognized the need to regulate edibles and remove them from the black market, and he thinks that Canada should adopt stringent regulations around the use of edibles and relax them over time.
Ultimately, waiting would probably be the best approach, “I guess I would err on the side of giving it more time to not only work on the legislation, but also for other jurisdictions, like Colorado and the other states in the United States, that have legalized to continue to learn more.” Voters in Colorado voted to legalize cannabis in a November 2012 ballot. Sales began in January 2014 and included edibles.
As most edible enthusiasts know all about, in one notorious incident, New York Times journalist Maureen Dowd wrote a piece about travelling to Colorado after legalization and eating some pot-infused chocolate. She kept eating more after feeling no immediate effects. Soon afterward, she was “panting and paranoid” and “curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours.”
Many people are unaware of the fact that edibles take longer to take effect, and many share similar experiences by eating way more than recommended. According to Vigil, the length of time it takes for edibles to take effect in comparison to smoked weed is a concern of the Colorado government. Vigil gave the following statement in explanation:
“There is one concern that I think is a bit greater with edibles, and that is driving, and the fact that with an inhaled product you can quickly recognize what the effects are and give yourself time to overcome those effects or to get back to a safe place to be driving. With edibles, it is possible that you would not realize that you have not felt the full effects and potentially get behind the wheel.”
Other experts disagree. One witness in particular, appearing at Friday’s committee, advocated for the immediate legalization of edibles. Ryan Vandrey, a professor from Johns Hopkins University with extensive experience studying marijuana and its effects, said that his lab studies show that regardless of whether it is smoked products or edibles, “the magnitude and type of drug effects are identical.”
On legalization, Vandrey said, “I think that is the greater public good, rather than just allowing one version and then continuing to have black market product available that you do not know what is in it.” He continued with, “It is really just the differences in the time course of the effects. I would disagree in the argument that you cannot perceive the intoxication when you eat it.”
In explanation, Vandrey offered, “People are very aware that they are intoxicated. The challenge is in detecting edible cannabis in a driver who is impaired versus not, but that is a problem across the board independent of route of administration, but it is a little bit different in edibles in that you get lower blood concentrations.”
Dana Larsen, a longtime advocate of legalizing marijuana and owner of a Vancouver dispensary, was the other witness speaking about edibles to the committee. When asked if edibles should be immediately available when recreational sales start, he did not hesitate in his answer:
“I support adding edibles,” Larsen said, “and also other extracts, as well. Hashish and all those kinds of things, both for smoking and eating. That has to be part of legalization. This ‘go-slow’ thing; we have been going slowly since 1971. It is time to act and not go slow.”