Legal weed has finally arrived in Washington State, and the program’s unique rules are already having an effect.
Marijuana shops in Washington are allowed to sell certain edibles – cookies, brownies, muffins – but not others. Namely, THC-laced candy is now illegal in the state.
The Washington Liquor Control Board released guidelines for the newly legal weed industry in July. Among the rules, lollipops, candy, and other marijuana edibles that might appeal to children are banned. That includes any products labeled or packaged in a way that appeals to kids.
The new regulations come at a critical juncture for legal pot in Washington. The state’s voters legalized the drug for recreational purposes in 2012, as did voters in Colorado.
The first legal retail pot shops in Washington opened July 8. But just 25 licenses, out of more than 300, have been issued so far, and cultivators haven’t had enough time to grow product. That has led to shortages at several stores. Some have imposed tight purchase limits to avoid running out before the next harvest arrives.
Seattle’s first recreational pot shop sold out all its pot in three days and said it wouldn’t get more supply for at least another week.
Those problems were in sharp contrast with the situation in Colorado, where pot shops opened in January to booming business and few hiccups. That state’s marijuana industry is already well on its feet.
But Colorado has run into trouble with edibles, and that experience drove the decision to ban cannabis candy in Washington.
Legal weed has been blamed for a sharp increase in the number of Colorado children admitted to the hospital after eating marijuana edibles they mistook for sweets.
And there have been two fatal incidents this year tied to the drug: A Colorado man shot his wife while allegedly hallucinating on Karma Kandy, and an African exchange student jumped to his death in a Denver hotel after eating several doses of high-potency pot food.
Colorado authorities recently recalled products made by At Home Baked of Denver, saying the company used unsanitary methods to produce bubble hash. The recall covered several edibles, including Rice Krispy treats, candies, and brownies.
Also, a new law there sets labeling and dosing standards, and requires that edibles be sold in single-serving portions.
Earlier in July, officials in Washington issued a license to a Seattle company that makes edibles, the first in the state. That includes marijuana-infused sodas and candies, so it’s not clear how the company will be impacted by the new rules – or when the first product will go on sale.