TACOMA — Neither the dairy industry nor pumpkin pie cartels will benefit from the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington.
And forget about weed jerky.
If you're thinking of producing or selling marijuana-infused foodstuffs, you'd best read the small print.
Earlier this week, Karen McCall, agency rules coordinator for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, presented a revised set of emergency rules concerning recreational marijuana.
The revised regulations were necessary, according to the board, "to provide additional clarity to the marijuana rules regarding marijuana-infused products, specifically products that are appealing to children."
So first, all marijuana-infused products, labeling and packaging must be approved by the board before the products are sold.
-- Products containing more than one serving and produced in solid form must be "scored" to indicate individual serving sizes.
-- All infused products must be homogenized "to ensure uniform disbursement of cannabinoids."
-- No products may be "especially appealing" to children.
-- No food may be infused if it requires refrigeration, freezing or a hot holding unit to keep it safe.
-- Forget infusing fruit or vegetable juices, fruit or vegetable butters, pumpkin pies, custard pies or any pies that contain eggs. Likewise any product that needs acidification, canning or "retort" sterilization to preserve it.
-- Same with dairy products, including cheese or ice cream, although natural butters and fats may be used to prepare other products. However, butters and fats may not be sold as stand-alone products.
-- Marijuana-infused vinegars and oils may not be infused with any other product such as garlic or herbs.
-- Infused jams and jellies must be prepared using a standardized recipe "in accordance with 21 C.F.R. Part 150."
-- Denied for infusion are dried or cured meats.
-- Processors producing infused products must allow inspections without advance notice.
And that's just a part of the new rules. Other amendments detail the badges that must be worn by all nonemployee visitors (except retail customers) in licensed facilities. Add surveillance systems, including camera placements.
Given the experience in Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal since January, Washington processors and consumers can likely expect further scrutiny of edible products.
Following several anecdotal reports of ill effects from edible products, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has signed bills that tighten rules for edibles and marijuana concentrates.
The Colorado legislation calls for a task force that will oversee packaging of products. Legislation also concerns licensing of concentrated cannabis products including hash oil.
A New York Times article last May detailed "a series of recent problems" related to the use of edibles and concentrates.
Included were notations of a man who "began raving about the end of the world and then pulled a handgun from the family safe and killed his wife," and the fourth-grader who brought an edible to school, and the African exchange student who jumped from a hotel balcony after eating infused cookies.
Hospital officials, the article said, say they "are treating growing numbers of children and adults sickened by potent doses of edible marijuana."
Meanwhile, "Police and fire officials across the state have been contending with a sharp rise in home explosions, as people use flammable butane (as a solvent) to make hashish oil."
The oil can be used to infuse the edible products.
Calls to several Colorado sellers of commercial edibles were unsuccessful earlier this week.
It's not that they won't talk to the press, they said. It's just that they were too busy serving customers.