A full ban on edibles could gain traction if good regulations aren’t in place.

The Colorado legislature is moving forward with new regulations for marijuana edibles. HB 1366, which recently cleared the House, would require “edible retail marijuana products to be shaped, stamped, colored, or otherwise marked with a standard symbol indicating that it contains marijuana and is not for consumption by children.”

I think it is a reasonable and modest bill especially considering the possible alternative if decent regulations aren’t adopted. While the public health risk of accidentally consummation consumption is minor, it does creates a significant political problem.

Opponents of legalization have latched on to edibles, particularly candy shaped ones, to try to undermine support for reform. Voters don’t want children consuming marijuana and opponents point to THC-infused candies removed from their packaging as a scary menace. The opponents claim to have a simple solution: ban all edibles or continue marijuana prohibition.

Given that less than 10 percent of voters have consumed cannabis in the last month, a full ban on edibles could gain traction if good regulations aren’t in place. It has happened before. For example, New Jersey’s original medical marijuana rules contained a blanket ban on all oral preparations. Voters have turned against prohibition but that is not the same as being pro-pot.

It is also important to keep in mind this will not be just a state issue for long. This bizarre federal/state conflict over marijuana is won’t last forever.  The country believes Congress will eventually legitimize the marijuana market and most likely give the FDA oversight. By that point if local consumers, industry groups, and government officials haven’t adopt a solid set of regulations for edibles, a more conservative federal government will simply impose their own. Opposing modest rules can make harassing ones more likely in the long run.

I believe what is really important is that marijuana be fully legal for adults with the option to consume it orally. Having a green stamp on all edibles, or that they don’t come in certain shapes is a small sacrifice to advance those bigger goals and fend off more draconian rules.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

Photo by Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance with permission