Bill seeks to mandate labeling of medical pot

Marijuana-laced foods may get into kids' hands, legislator fears
2013-02-07T00:00:00Z 2013-02-07T07:38:59Z Bill seeks to mandate labeling of medical potHoward Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
February 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - A state legislator wants to make sure marijuana-laced food products sold at dispensaries are clearly labeled to make sure children who find one of dad's medicinal lollipops know not to pop it in their mouths.

Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, said existing laws on food products require listing the contents. But she said there is no clear warning to the ultimate user the product is meant for medicinal purposes only, and is not just candy or a snack.

Yee has several measures she said are designed to deal with the 2010 voter-approved law allowing individuals with a doctor's permission to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

She also wants to to clarify a year-old law that bans medical marijuana on college and university campuses to say that does not preclude federally approved research, in recognition of an effort by a physician at the University of Arizona College of Medicine who has obtained federal approval but has been unable to get approval for her work on campus.

And Yee wants to overturn a Court of Appeals ruling that police must return marijuana they took from a patient who is entitled to have it. Yee said police should not be in the position of supplying a drug that remains banned under federal law.

Arizona health regulations already require food items include a full list of ingredients in descending order by weight. But Yee said that's not enough.

"We have on the market and on shelves lollipops, candy bars and brownies that have marijuana in the product," she said. Yee said her measure would require "proper labeling" to make it less attractive to children.

SB 1440 would make it illegal to dispense medical marijuana or marijuana products in any way "that states, suggests or implies that its use is for anything other than the medicinal purposes" allowed in the 2010 law. Yee said that would require it to be sold with a warning that it is for medical purposes only, comparing that to the surgeon general's warning required on packages of cigarettes.

She acknowledged the only place someone can legally obtain a marijuana lollipop or brownie is at a state-regulated dispensary. And only someone with a state-issued medical marijuana card can buy such items.

But again, Yee said that's not enough.

"Once it leaves the dispensary it is now in the hands of many other people," she said. And Yee said the items can be packaged in a way to be attractive to children.

Another measure, SB 1441, is designed to keep police officers and sheriff's deputies from being in the position of having to give marijuana to anyone.

That legislation follows an appellate court ruling last month that said the Yuma County Sheriff's Department had to return some marijuana that a Border Patrol agent took from a California woman. The Border Patrol turned the case over to the county. But the charges were dropped because she has a medical marijuana card from her home state, which is honored in Arizona.

The third measure, SB 1443, follows a decision last year by lawmakers to ban medical marijuana use on college campuses. Proponents said allowing drugs that are federally forbidden would endanger a school's federal funding.

Yee said it was never the intent to block research that has been authorized. But the Board of Regents, relying on the state law, blocked a bid by Sue Sisley, a specialist in internal medicine and psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, to study whether marijuana can help combat veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sisley said her proposal has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and was given the go-ahead by the UA's Institutional Review Board, which must approve research on live subjects.

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