Cannabis Edibles Overconsumption: How Many Servings in a Package?

cannabisCannabis edibles, pot that is infused into food or drink, are becoming increasingly popular in Colorado, but confusion regarding just how many servings a package contains has led to cases of overconsumption, in some instances with tragic results. Although Colorado limits a standard serving size of edibles to 10 mg of THC, and limits a package to 10 servings, it does not regulate how that single serving is packaged. Some packages have the full 100 mg (10 servings) in a single cookie or piece of candy.

A common complaint from new edibles customers is that they do not know how much to consume. Although it is hard to exactly compare the THC content of pot in edible form to joints because pot has wide variations in quality and potency, 10 mg THC is considered to be about the same as a medium-sized joint.

Marijuana supporters say pot overdoses are not deadly, but two recent Colorado deaths related to the over consumption of cannabis edibles show that what people do while high can be. In March a 19-year-old student visiting Colorado on spring break jumped from a hotel balcony to his death after eating 65 mg of THC from a whole pot cookie. In April a 47-year-old man shot and killed his wife after eating candy edibles.

Colorado’s Department of Revenue has announced a task force meeting for today to discuss better regulations on portion sizes. Christian Sederberg, a lawyer who worked on Amendment 64 to legalize pot in Colorado and a member of the task force, says people are used to eating a whole cookie or a whole brownie. The industry needs to make it easy to understand what a serving size is. Edible makers are already working on creating single-serving edibles of 5-10 mg. Packaging options under consideration could include individually wrapping serving-size pieces, or segmenting a candy bar.

Cannabis edibles are specifically included in Amendment 64 as legal, but the state has essentially limitless authority to regulate them. Edibles already must be sold in opaque childproof containers clearly labeled that they contain pot and have not been tested for safety or strength. And adding pot concentrate to premade branded foods like candy bars is prohibited, although people commonly do this at home. Still, children and toddlers have overdosed after eating what they thought was candy, confusing edible pot and regular treats.

In addition to deliberations by the Department of Revenue task force, Colorado state lawmakers are considering legislation to require that the actual edible products, not just the packaging, be marked and color-coded to show that they contain pot. Another bill would limit possession amounts on concentrated pot, such as the oils used in cookies. Both bills have passed House and will be heard in Senate on Thursday.

Pot industry groups support the bills. Meg Collins, Denver-based Cannabis Business Alliance executive director and task force member, says they all want to make sure consumers are safe from the dangers of overconsumption. The industry wants to find the best ways to communicate to its customers safe ways to recreate with marijuana.

Cannabis edibles are booming. One manufacturer’s website offers an extensive homemade edibles menu including such dietary restrictions as gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan. The menu includes delicacies like blueberry lemon drop cookies, hot cocoa with marshmallows, and beef jerky. They also sell marijuana-laced coconut oil capsules, honey, and butter. They even deliver. But again, the question returns to how many servings a cannabis edible such as a piece of beef jerky or a tablespoon of honey contains, particularly when the treats are homemade and may easily lead to overconsumption. New regulations may provide the answer to that question.

By Beth A. Balen

ABC 13 Action News
Huff Post
USA Today

6 Responses to "Cannabis Edibles Overconsumption: How Many Servings in a Package?"

  1. george preston   February 1, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    hi 72 year old been smoking for 50 years no problem so i do not like to smoke out side in the winter in side we have grandkids and a clean freek wife i am a type 2 diabetic itake insulin istarted smoking weed i vietnam 1966 so my brother had some of these canna candies i triedthem 5 times 3 bad trips igot sick for 3days this time so is it the diabetes they do not seem to have that much sugar it was worse then a bad acid trip anybody no whats up fishtown george semper fi

  2. Flamingogmom   August 1, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    My son gave me a tiny cookie (about half dollar sized). Of course, I ate it. It was 100mg THC and I have not had any Pot since 1979.
    This was an awful experience! I thought I was going to stop breathing. I was nauseated and couldn’t walk or sit up.
    3 days later, I am still somewhat dizzy at times and foggy headed. Nausea continues.

    I can’t even IMAGINE a child having this happen to them!! I would be exponentially worse!

  3. after reading articles I'm not sure if I should eat I was just going to sit down and eat the whole thing but now I don't know can somebody give me any information on that   April 1, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    They really should put on the labels suggested servings or something like that I just started eating The edibles and I have a cake pop that has 150.50 mg of THC after reading articles I’m not sure if I should eat I was just going to sit down and eat the whole thing but now I don’t know can somebody give me any information on that?

  4. Chele   September 24, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Wish my comment was listed under the last comment instead of before. I just wanted to agree with the guy from Boulder. Exactly how my husband and I feel.

  5. Chele   September 24, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Well put.

  6. Apollo   June 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm

         People that jump from hotel balconies and/or shoot their significant others are generally already prone to do so, though these tendencies do sometimes materialize in said person they are under the influence of cannabis. Were there any other factors involved? Additional drug and/or alcohol use, general reckless behavior (19 year old out of towner visiting Colorado on spring break), domestic abuse, financial/marriage/erection/whatever problems?
         Marijuana can be handled responsibly, but as we have seen above this isn’t always the case.
    Forgive me if I sound like a dick in the next section, most people think I’m okay in real life…
         Though I’m not exactly a common example, I woke up at 7:00 this morning, ripped a well-packed bong, ate breakfast on my one mile walk to woke, worked for 7.5 ish hours (real jobs, earning roughly $100 USD, about 30+ hours/week), came home, smoked a joint and four bong-bowls over the span of about two hours with two friends in addition to consuming 150mg of THC in an edible by myself. As I type this about two hours since then, I am about to take a shower and walk two ish miles along the Boulder Creek Path to get a haircut and go grocery shopping. I’ll maybe read a few of the many small chapters in Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep” which is due in three days or decide where to go out to or what to cook for dinner. I’ll smoke/eat/vape/butt chug a bunch more at various other times scattered throughout the day but I don’t really feel like mentioning every detail. This + other social/fun/music/hobbies/touching cats = most of my life. I’ll wake up again at 7:00 tomorrow and do something similar. Very few people outside of those who spend free time with me even know that I use cannabis in any form.
         Perhaps attempting to find solutions to all the problems involved in these scenarios including but not limited to cannabis use? Education is always good. We teach students about the dangers of drinking and driving/having sex/rape/crime, cigarettes and cancer/heart disease/stinky teeth, eating too much fast food and subsequent obesity problems; why not have more programs focused on responsible legal cannabis use to help prevent these sort of tragedies?

    Just my three cents.

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