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This marijuana-infused chocolate bar sold in Colorado is scored into 10 pieces, indicating that each square contains a single serving size of 10 mg of THC, the active competent of pot. / Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY

Pot brownies were not on the menu Wednesday night but a number of other approved foods and beverages were as Washington became only the second state to permit sales of recreational marijuana edibles.

Regulators have approved several kinds of edibles, including chocolate bars, trail mix and sodas, and Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham, Wash., is opening at 10 p.m. PT on Wednesday in an effort to be the first store to sell the products, owner John Evich said.

He's offering marijuana-infused nut clusters, trail mix and party mix, priced at around $25 per bag. He's also offering marijuana oil, which users "vape" from battery-powered vaporizers that look like large cigarettes.

While Washington launched recreational marijuana sales on July 8, regulators had not yet approved any edibles manufacturers or their products. The state has now certified the facilities to make the edibles, tested them for strength, contamination and consistency, and reviewed their appearance and packaging.

"It's something interesting and fun," Evich said. "Smoking may be fading out a little bit. Going down a list of menu items ? I think it's something new for people."

Edibles have proved popular in Colorado, especially among people who prefer to avoid smoking marijuana. But the rollout in Colorado came with concerns, including a spike in the number of children and pets being treated for accidentally overdosing on the pot-infused foods, which also include mints, suckers and gummy bears.

The potency of marijuana edibles gained even more prominence when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote about her scary experience after eating a pot candy bar.

Two Colorado marijuana deaths have also been connected with edibles. In April, a woman was shot in the head by her husband while she was on the phone with 911. The woman had told the dispatcher that her husband was hallucinating and may have consumed a marijuana-infused edible and painkillers. A month before that, a 19-year-old student fell to his death from a hotel balcony after eating six servings of a pot cookie. It's unclear the precise role of marijuana in the two deaths.

Washington state's regulations aim to help prevent such incidents by making edibles labeling much clearer and making it easier for people to tell how strong an edible is. Colorado is considering similar rules. Both states also have rules intended to keep edibles out of the hands of kids.

"The products cannot be especially appealing to children," said Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which also regulates recreational marijuana.

In both states, a serving of a pot-infused edible can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and a product cannot contain more than 10 servings, or a total of 100 mg of THC. Washington's rules require that products like chocolate bars be scored to show where to break off a single serving. Colorado's regulators are considering adopting similar rules.

Ata Gonzalez, an edibles manufacturer, said Washington's strict rules are good for consumers. Colorado has not yet fully implemented its system for checking the strength, quality and contamination of edibles, although local health departments have been inspecting kitchen facilities.

"I think the standard has been raised there," said Gonzalez, CEO of the Washington-based marijuana cultivation and distribution company GFarmaLabs. "In the medical market, it used to be a big mess. People were making 1,000 mg brownies. (Washington regulators) saw what was happening in Denver and said, 'We don't want that.' They've gone slower about it ? I applaud them."



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Wash. begins sales of edible marijuana products

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