Children's Hospital Colorado

Marijuana Safety Policies Supported by Children's Hospital Colorado

For more than four years, Children's Colorado has advocated to strengthen marijuana-related legislation and regulation with the primary goal of keeping kids healthy and safe. Our policy priorities include:

  • Ensuring safe packaging and labeling
  • Limiting potency
  • Preventing unintentional marijuana ingestion
  • Reducing adolescent marijuana use
  • Allowing and funding medical research into the benefits and costs of marijuana use

Policies we have worked on include:

Keep Legal Marijuana from Those Under 21 (House Bill 14-1122)

Marijuana should be treated as any other drug or medicine and kept out of reach of children. This bill contained a number of provisions intended to limit youth access to marijuana, including the requirement that marijuana edibles be sold in child-resistant, opaque, re-sealable packaging. This bipartisan bill aims to limit children's exposure to marijuana edible products and decrease the chances of accidental ingestion. The bill was signed into law in March 2014.

Marijuana Edibles (House Bill 14-1366)

Following the legalization of marijuana, common baked goods, candies and sodas infused with marijuana were nearly impossible to differentiate from a non-marijuana-infused product. This bill required the Colorado Department of Revenue to ensure that marijuana-infused products themselves (and not just the packaging) be clearly identifiable with a standard symbol to indicate that they contain marijuana. Children's Colorado also participated in the writing of rules to implement the bill, which were subsequently adopted by the Department of Revenue in October 2016.

Medical Marijuana Research Grants (Senate Bill 14-155)

Many parents claim that medical marijuana has improved their children's conditions, but there is not yet scientific evidence to support these claims. Signed into law in May 2014, this bill created a $10 million grant program from the medical marijuana registry monies at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to fund scientific research on medical marijuana to determine if, and when, it is a safe and effective method of treatment.

With more research on marijuana to treat certain conditions, parents, patients and healthcare professionals will be better informed when determining the best course of care for a child. At Children's Colorado, we have four grantees currently leading observational studies on the impact of medical marijuana. Learn more about medical marijuana.

Marijuana Tax Revenue (Senate Bill 14-215)

The state's marijuana cash fund consists of money collected from taxes on both medical and retail marijuana. This marijuana tax revenue bill specified how retail marijuana funds may be spent. Over the years, funds have been allocated for marijuana education and prevention campaigns to benefit children and youth, substance abuse and behavioral health services, and law enforcement issues specifically related to marijuana.

Medical Marijuana in Schools (House Bill 16-1373)

Although pediatric use of medical marijuana has not been systematically studied, Children's Colorado is sympathetic to the extraordinary challenges facing children who have medically complex needs. We understand that some families may choose to seek alternatives, including medical marijuana, even though Children's Colorado does not recommend or prescribe medical marijuana. This bill requires school districts to enact policies that allow families and caregivers to come to school and administer medical marijuana for a child who has a valid medical marijuana recommendation.

Prohibition on Marijuana Products that Entice Children (House Bill 16-1436)

There is a vast array of edible marijuana products sold in Colorado that can be enticing to children and teens. This bill prohibits the manufacture of edible marijuana products that are shaped like humans, animals or fruit. Edible marijuana products that are geometric shapes and/or fruit-flavored are allowed under the bill. While no single policy will prevent all accidental ingestions of dangerous household products, Children's Colorado supported adding another layer of protection aimed at reducing kids' ingestion of marijuana edibles.

School Health Professionals and Substance Use Prevention (Senate Bill 17-254 and Senate Bill 17-68)

For many adolescents, schools are an important access point for prevention and education related to substance use. Under the School Health Professional Grant Program, school health professionals include nurses, social workers, school counselors and psychologists.

These professionals provide age-appropriate and evidence-based educational information and resources regarding substance use. Prevention and early intervention are critical to help ensure that students get the supports they need to stay in school and finish their education.

In 2017, the legislature supported a substantial investment in the School Health Professional Grant program housed at the Colorado Department of Education. Funded by marijuana tax cash funds, the program had previously amounted to less than $3 million per year. At the urging of Governor’s Hickenlooper’s office, Children’s Colorado, and other stakeholders, the legislature allocated an additional $9 million to the grant program. This success was coupled by a victory with Senate Bill 17-68, which expands this grant program to elementary schools.

For more information about marijuana policy issues visit the Colorado General Assembly or the Colorado Department of Revenue.

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Rules from Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division (Department of Revenue)

Rules issued by the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, within the Department of Revenue, aim to reduce the chances that young children will be tempted and harmed by ingesting marijuana-infused food such as candies, baked goods, and other products if a package is left within their reach. The rules require both child-safe as well as opaque packaging for marijuana products, and they also limit the concentration of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, to 10 milligrams per serving.

Finally, the rules require that products be marked with additional warning labels, such as “Keep out of reach of children,” “The intoxicating effects of this product may be delayed by two hours or more,” and other warnings. Most recently, the Department promulgated rules requiring that when practicable, marijuana edible products must be stamped or marked with a universal symbol that indicates the presence of marijuana.

*The Department has several pictures of edible products available for public use that include the required labels on the chocolates and other products.

sample marijuana labels with THC in red