Marijuana Edibles May Face Scrutiny By Colorado Health Officials

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DENVER (AP) — Saying they're still worried that edible pot sweets are too attractive to kids, Colorado health authorities plan to ask Monday for a new panel to decide which marijuana foods and drinks look too much like regular snacks.

A Health Department recommendation, obtained by The Associated Press in advance of a final meeting Monday on edible marijuana regulations, suggests a new state commission to give "pre-market approval" before food or drinks containing pot can be sold.

The recommendation comes a month after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment suggested banning the sale of most kinds of edible pot. That suggestion was quickly retracted after it went public.

Marijuana-infused foods and drinks have been a booming sector in Colorado's new recreational marijuana market. But lawmakers feared the products are too easy to confuse with regular foods and drinks and ordered marijuana regulators to require a new look for marijuana edibles.

The new Health Department suggestion calls for a commission to decide which types of foods can be sold.

"The department remains concerned that there are products on the market that so closely resemble children's candy that it can entice children to experiment with marijuana. Marijuana should not seem 'fun' for kids," the agency wrote in its recommendation.

The ultimate decision on how to change Colorado's edibles market will be made by state lawmakers in 2015.

The state's Marijuana Enforcement Division is holding workgroups with industry representatives, law enforcement, health officials and parent groups to come up with a group recommendation to lawmakers on the question. The final workgroup meets Monday.

A Health Department spokesman did not respond to a request to comment on the revised suggestion, which hasn't yet been made public.

Edible-pot makers fumed at the suggestion, saying it runs afoul of a voter-approved constitutional amendment that guarantees access to retail marijuana in all its forms. State regulations limit potency, serving size and packaging, but there are no regulations on what kinds of foods may contain pot. Edible-pot manufacturers say that limitation would go too far.

"We're governed to death, and people need to take responsibility for themselves," said Elyse Gordon, owner of Better Baked, a Denver company that makes edible pot products including teas, energy bars and candies.

"I don't think anyone in the industry is looking to make products for children, and we resent this idea that people aren't responsible for the products they bring into their home."

Also coming out from the Health Department Monday is a highly anticipated statement about marijuana use by pregnant women and nursing mothers.

The agency was tasked by the Legislature to review the health effects of maternal pot use.

The preliminary survey to be released Monday says the Health Department found "limited," ''mixed" or "moderate" evidence for links between maternal use of marijuana during pregnancy and health risks like low birth weight and decreased cognitive function.

The agency stopped short of suggesting warning labels on pot about use by pregnant and nursing women, but the Health Department did lay out some "Public Health Statements" about maternal pot use.

Statements include the fact that marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, THC, can be passed to unborn and nursing babies and that maternal pot use "is associated with negative effects on exposed children that may not appear until adolescence."

The agency requests a public-education campaign for moms and better data collection on maternal marijuana use.