Problems With Oregon’s New Edible Rules
By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
Oregon released its new regulations on edibles for the adult use market (recreational sales) and they are the strictest in the nation for THC limits on edibles. Following Governor Kate Brown’s signature on March 30th, the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee decided to cap the THC amounts allowed in edible marijuana products.
The cap is severe. The limit imposed was a mere 5 mg of THC per serving, with a total amount allowed in a package of 50 mg. The limits are half of what Colorado and Washington have in effect.The Medical limits are proposed at only 100 mg per package. Those numbers are extremely low and will affect many edibles manufacturers, forcing them to lower the dosage of their product and forcing patients to purchase more and consume more to get the same result they have been getting for years.
Rhea Graham, owner of Albany’s Canna Kitchen and Gramsterdam Dispensary in Albany is directly affected by the rules, but believes the real issue is testing standards.
“The biggest problem I see is that there is no consistency in testing,” Graham explained to Oregon Cannabis Connection (OCC).
“We have had results that show our capsules’ THC levels at 50 mg or 175 mg, but are testing now at 8 mg and even lower,” she explained. “How can you put a “limit” on something when there is no ‘legitimate’ testing standard for labs and the tests come back all over the place.”
The high cost just to be in business also bothers Graham.
As an example, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has to approve all the food packaging labels, at a cost of at least $200 per label prototype. Along with the initial separate licensing that is required just to have the privilege to make edibles for both the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and OLCC, the fees incurred are many, many thousands of dollars.
“The whole program is getting to be a pile of shit in my eyes,” said Graham. “It’s now a revenue source for the state; it’s not at all about sick people getting well.”
Brent Kenyon, distributor of Chocowana medicated chocolate bars, also thinks the limits are too extreme. Chocowana bars have a THC level of as high as 350 or even 400 mg per chocolate bar, well over the allowable medical dose per package under the new rules.
“A consumer will need three or four bars to get the same dose of cannabis now, which is a lot more expensive and a bit unfair for them,” Kenyon told OCC. “The reduction in THC will not have a substantial effect on the overall price since our bars are a custom, handmade product.”
He also thought the new OHA mandated recreational limits were too low, saying in frustration, “The recreational limits are so low, a person could get diabetes before getting the desired result.”
What has driven the strict limits? One driver is definitely the increase in calls about children to the Oregon Poison Center concerning cannabis, from 11 in 2014 to 25 in 2015. Though that is a 127% increase, one might consider that there were over 2,400 children under 6 exposed to “household cleaning substances” in 2015 which were reported to the Oregon Poison Center.
Also, when you consider Oregon drug fatalities, over 160 deaths from opioid overdoses occurred in 2013 (overall, not just children – per OHA Fact Sheet available here), one might consider the OHA limits an over-reaction. Of course, no fatalities from marijuana have been reported… ever… in the world.
Senate Bill 1511 allows dispensaries to sell cannabis-infused edibles such as brownies and cookies and cannabis extracts such as oils and tinctures to anyone 21 and older. However, the licensed OLCC recreational stores have yet to open, so the medical marijuana dispensaries are being allowed to sell to individuals who 21 and over, in the meantime.
Although OHA has provided no timeline yet on when rules will be drafted , to govern how edibles and extracts can be sold for recreational use, they must be promulgated. Hearings will be held to obtain more input before the rules are finalized, according to OHA. Legal retail-only stores are months away from opening.
For more information and to keep up-to-date, visit these websites, at a minimum. www.oregon.gov/oha/mmj/Pages/rules.aspx and www.oregon.gov/oha/mmj/Pages/RAC.aspx, and www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/Pages/default.aspx.
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