Monday, September 1, 2014
A few weeks ago, Talkingpointsmemo.com posted a long-form article, available only to TPM Prime subscribers, title "Can Big Pot and Big Alcohol Get Along?". I finally had a chance to read it. Though a lot of points in the article will be familiar to those who follow this issue, it has one of the most comprehensive looks at the alcohol industry's reaction to marijuana legalization that I've seen. And, as the article notes, the alcohol industry now views legalization as inevitable:
Beer, wine and liquor do not care that legalization isn’t technically on the books. For them, it’s already a foregone conclusion. And that means that weed is already a real competitor.
Beer and wine may be as American as a baseball game, but Big Alcohol doesn’t feel at all relaxed about this debate. At alcohol trade association meetings, pot is already spoken of as a key competitor. A vigorous internal discussion has been taking place within the industry to figure out how they can establish working relationships with the marijuana world, and what to do if they can’t.
At the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association’s annual legal symposium, which draws state regulatory agency officials, corporate counsel, industry policymakers and private attorneys, a representative from the Marijuana Policy Project spoke. Attendees said that during the Q&A, “a couple people stood up and kind of attacked her” about MPP’s alcohol-bashing tactics.
While Big Alcohol has expressed that they would prefer to co-exist amicably in the marketplace, in their minds, the marijuana industry has to make a choice: pot can choose to be their friend, or to be their enemy. And if Big Pot decides they want to continue to launch regular attacks on alcohol, then alcohol will ultimately fight back.
The whole piece is well worth reading. Unfortunately, to do so, you'll need a subscription (at $50/year)--not really worth it for just this one article. But TPM is one of the best independent journalism sites around and subscribing is a great way to support a valuable news source (not to mention a good value for those who closely follow political/policy news.) So, if you're a TPM reader who has thought about signing up for the Prime subscription before, this article could provide a bit of an extra incentive.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
From Colorado comes news that updated regulations for edible marijuana products are moving forward. The Denver Post reports the details:
Under a draft proposal, the state would essentially regulate out of existence bite-sized products that pack in 100 milligrams of active THC, the maximum allowed by state law.
The draft rules from the Department of Revenue would provide incentives for companies to produce 10 milligram products — the standardized serving size under state law — by putting greater burdens on manufacturers of products between 10 and 100 milligrams.
For example, a candy bar in that range would need to be divided into sections that can easily be broken off, with each section marked or stamped with its THC content. Edibles that don't lend themselves to such division — say, granola or potato chips — would need to come in packages with no more than 10 milligrams total.
As I wrote here a few weeks ago, I believe that permitting the sale of bite sized candies that contain 10 doses of marijuana is regulatory insanity. It's good to see that Colorado is moving quickly to address the problem.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Though not a marijuana story, this BoingBoing post made me think back to an episodes of the classic TV sitcom Taxi and I could not resist posting a clip. The BoingBoing headline: "$50k worth of cocaine baked into delicious cookies seized at US airport." And here's a scene from the Taxi episode:
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
The title of this post is the headline of this new Time piece. Here is a snippet:
Cannabis-infused coffee is expected to be available in Washington state in July, the product’s developer Adam Stites told The Huffington Post earlier this week. A tongue-in-cheek manifesto for the brand “Mirth Provisions” says the product will “establish unprecedented chillness” and enable consumers to “listen to the dark side of the Moon again.”
Stites described the effect of the cold brew — which also comes in a cream and sugar variety — as “wake and bake,” in an interview with MyNorthwest.com. He claims it contains 20mg THC, which will give drinkers about the same buzz as an “IPA or glass of wine.”
As more and more pot edibles pop up on the market, there are concerns that people will overeat them and harm themselves and others, raising questions about how much cannabis regulation is needed.
Though this news can and surely will prompt plenty of jokes about a pot of pot coffee, it serves for me as yet another indication that products for marijuana consumption in methods other than smoking are likely to play a major role in the future of this industry.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Though I think we may be nearing the point of inevitability when it comes to marijuana legalization, we aren't there yet. There's a chance that as things move forward, we will see a backlash that reverses the current trend.
If I had to pick issues that could potentially cause such a backlash, the risks of marijuana candies would be near the top of the list. And for good reason. Marijuana candies pose serious policy concerns.
Products that are packaged like and taste like candy can be easily mistaken as regular candy. And we all know who loves candy--kids. Perhaps just as important, many marijuana candies contain so much marijuana that the suggested serving size may be 1/4 or 1/10 of the candy. This is particularly odd when one considers that some of these candies come in the form of a single gummy bear or bon-bon style sweet. When most people see a single gummy bear or bon bon, they assume they should eat the whole thing. But if you were to eat an entire marijuana gummy in one serving, you could end up high out of your mind.
Two new New York Times pieces discuss this problem. In one, a mother recounts how her son had to go to the emergency room after eating a roommate's marijuana candy bar. In the other, the writer begins: "This is not what I thought marijuana looked like."
Those of us who favor marijuana legalization would be wise to take these concerns very seriously. There are real public health and safety risks that come from people--particularly children-- accidentally ingesting super-strong marijuana candies (or ingesting on purpose, but without realizing that one gummy is meant to be consumed in four servings.)
In terms of the politics, I think the "this is not what I thought marijuana looked like" sentiment is particularly noteworthy. I suspect that many voters who supported legalization in Colorado and Washington had no idea that it might result in the sale of sophisticated candies (or even that such candies were even possible.) And if enough of the folks in this group don't like what they see when they learn about marijuana candy, it is entirely possible they might sour on legalization generally.
To be sure, I don't think we are anywhere near seeing a political backlash because of this issue. But marijuana advocates would be foolish to ignore the possibility of one developing.
February 11, 2014 in Current Affairs, Food and Drink, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Medical Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Saturday, February 1, 2014
A few months ago, I wondered aloud in this post whether debates over marijuana reform would be a lot different if eating pot was far more common than smoking it. Today I see that the New York Times has this front-page story concerning marijuana edibles under the headline "Snacks Laced With Marijuana Raise Concerns." Here are excerpts:
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 nonthreatening 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....
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 last year in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Before 2009, researchers reported no marijuana exposures.
The research took place after an explosion of medical-marijuana shops in Colorado, but before voters passed measures to legalize the sales and use of recreational marijuana to adults 21 and older. Dr. George Sam Wang, an author of the study and a clinical instructor in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, said he had not seen any additional increases in children’s marijuana exposure since recreational sales began the first of this year.
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. For the most part, doctors who treated children in the study advised that the children be watched closely as their bodies digested the drug. “There’s no antidote, no medicine that reverses this,” Dr. Wang said.
Compared with the 14 children who were treated after consuming marijuana, the hospital treated 48 children who had swallowed acetaminophen — the active ingredient in Tylenol — and 32 who had accidentally taken antihistamines during the same time period.
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.
Monday, August 19, 2013
[S]ome health professionals say it’s a matter of picking your poison. "It’s like trying to compare different weapons. Both have the potential to cause harm," said Dr. Scott Teitelbaum, professor and vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and chief of the Division of Addiction Medicine, at University of Florida. "I don’t know that there’s a clear answer."
For starters, the term toxic can be vague. Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, medical director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, said toxic can be "anything that causes harm. It is possible to drink enough water to poison yourself. It’s more related to the dose than anything else."
The Marijuana Policy Project’s claim that marijuana is "less toxic" rankles some health professionals and anti-drug organizations who criticize the inference that using the drug is okay....
Our rulingAn ad from the Marijuana Policy Project claims marijuana is "less toxic" than alcohol. Our job as fact-checkers in this case is not to decide whether marijuana is good or harmful. We're focused on whether the drug in its natural form is "less toxic" than alcohol.
In that regard, science and statistics present a strong case:
- Deaths or even trips to the hospital are much more likely due to alcohol;
- Scientists could not find any documented deaths from smoking marijuana;
- A study found the safety ratio for marijuana (the number of doses to cause death) is much greater than compared to alcohol. Put another way, marijuana is 100 times less toxic than alcohol.
Overall, we rate this claim Mostly True.