Wednesday, March 2, 2011

HB 1250 in Limbo: Committee Delays a Vote

Sponsor Links Cap'n Crunch and Izze to a "Medical Marijuana Menace" for Colorado Children

The hearing for HB1250 at the State Capitol on Tuesday (3/1/11) saw a record turnout of medical cannabis supporters showing up to testify against a proposed bill to ban medical marijuana edibles. However, these patients and advocates were stifled again when the hearing was delayed by 2 hours and when they found out that the bill might be changed entirely from its original form. In the end, no vote was taken on the bill. The next step will be for the House Judiciary Committee to meet again and consider all amendments to the bill, including new ones not yet written. They will not take any more public testimony before they vote.
The House Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill was scheduled to commence "upon adjournment" of the full House. The bill's sponsor told the press the morning of the hearing that she expected to start the hearing at 10am or 11am. However, at 11am, as over 100 medical cannabis supporters had gathered to testify, the Committee decided the hearing wouldn't start until 1:00pm. Dozens of supporters had to leave without testifying.

At the start of the hearing, the bill's sponsor Rep. Cindy Acree (R-Arapahoe and Elbert Counties) expressed her possible desire to change the bill and remove the edibles ban from consideration and substitute
amendments regarding medical marijuana labeling and packaging standards instead. However, once again, there were no copies immediately available of the amendments proposed by Rep. Acree, so most of the testimony taken was about the proposed edibles ban.

The Reefer Madness propaganda campaign based on the age-old "Save the Children" plea began with a letter from the Colorado Drug Investigators Association that had been given to Committee members with photographs of "Pot Tarts" and "Cap'n Chronic Cereal", claiming that these were medical marijuana infused products that were showing up on Colorado school grounds and being marketed to children. However the "Pot Tarts" photograph in the letter came from a DEA bust in California in 1986, and the "Cap'n Chronic
Cereal" photograph was only a T-shirt design and was never documented to be a real product by anyone.


Not to be deterred by the facts, Rep. Acree continued the propaganda war and began the hearing by displaying boxes of these alleged "marijuana-infused products" that had been found on school yards in
Colorado. However, upon closer inspection, it was determined that Rep. Acree had purchased several random food products at Target that morning and was parading them in front of the committee as if they were medical marijuana-infused products themselves.


During a full hour and a half of testimony from law enforcement, no one could produce an actual medicated "Pot Tart" or any medicated "Cap'n Chronic Cereal." The North Metro Drug Task Force, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Colorado District Attorney's Council, the County Sheriffs of Colorado, and the state Attorney General's office all testified about how medical marijuana was being marketed to and falling into the hands of children in Colorado school yards, but not one of these agencies could produce the actual menacing product itself.

Instead of the real menace, Rep. Acree provided non-medicated products purchased from Target as hearing props, including Cap'n Crunch cereal made by Quaker Oats, Sparkling Lime Soda made by Izze of Boulder, Colorado, Crispy Marshmallow Bites made by Archer Farms (a Target brand), and Soakers Fruit Snacks made by Market Pantry (another Target brand). Who knows how the manufacturers of these products will react to Rep. Acree's attempts to link them with poisoning children with marijuana.

The Associated Press has helped spread Rep. Acree's propaganda by including the following paragraph in their report that was filed after the hearing. The AP writes, "Lawmakers were shown edible marijuana packaged as 'Pot Tarts' similar to the breakfast pastries 'Pop Tarts,' and a product "Captain Chronic" designed in a package to look like Cap'n Crunch cereal." R--Edible_Marijuana/

The AP is misleading. Lawmakers were only shown photographs, not the real products. Many knowledgeable members of Colorado's medical marijuana industry testified that they had never seen those products and questioned whether they actually existed.

The AP article contained another inaccurate statement about the hearing. The AP writes, "Pot advocates who testified Tuesday say the labeling law still goes too far. The committee delayed action on the measure, but dozens of marijuana advocates turned out to argue against a labeling requirements law."

This is also untrue. In fact, the Committee chairman took a rare poll of the audience near the start of the hearing asking how many in the audience were in favor of label and packaging standards, and the majority raised their hands.


CTI obtained a copy of two of the proposed amendments after the hearing. The amendments add subsections to the law passed last year that gave the Department of Revenue the authority to create rules regarding medical marijuana.

Amendment L003 states that the Department of Revenue may, but is not required to, create regulations on marketing practices "designed to appeal to or attract minors" including "those products that are confusingly
similar to commercially produced food and beverage products."

Amendment L004 states that the Department of Revenue may, but is not required to, create regulations regarding "packaging materials that do not allow edibles containing medical marijuana to be seen without opening the packaging material" and also regarding "tamper-proof packaging".

These amendments are completely unnecessary, as HB10-1284 passed last year by the legislature gave the Department of Revenue the authority to write rules about label standards and any "other matters as are necessary" to regulate medical marijuana in Colorado.

In addition, the Department of Revenue already has 6 pages of rules on extensive labeling requirements for medical marijuana products that it developed over the past few months waiting to be enacted. However, these
rules have not yet been promulgated for some reason, even though the public comment period on them ended on Feb. 11, 2011.

Rep. Acree said that there probably would be future amendments and that the bill may change again entirely. The Committee did not vote on the bill or the amendments, which means that the edible ban is still on the table too.

So it was unclear why Rep. Acree moved forward with the bill and wasted 6 hours of testimony from the public on a bill that really hasn't even really been written yet.

The next step will be for the House Judiciary Committee to meet again and consider all amendments to the bill, including new ones not yet written. However, they will not take any more public testimony before they vote.

March 9: Legal Panel Discussion
Discuss bills and lawsuits affecting medical marijuana with 6 attorneys at Casselman's Bar and Venue (2620 Walnut Street, Denver, CO) at 7pm. Free and open to the public.

March 10 (Thurs.): House Judiciary Committee Hearing on HB 11-1261, the DUI/THC bill. Reefer Madness 2.0 continues. Rep. Claire Levy sponsors a bill that will set a 5 ng/mL limit on THC in the bloodstream. This will target patients who usually have higher levels than that without showing any impairment.

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