Organization calls for robust, uniform regulation of the industry and greater product transparency

DENVER (October 21, 2014) – Commuters driving north on Santa Fe Boulevard are in for a treat…or is it a trick? A new, nearly-fifty-foot billboard sponsored by Smart Colorado, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting Colorado youth from marijuana, asks passersby, “Can you spot the pot?” The billboard has large photos of candy – some are marijuana edibles, others are just candy. An identical billboard was installed at 1229 South Broadway (Broadway and Arizona) in Denver.

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The billboards are part of a campaign to raise awareness about the type of marijuana products that are increasingly available and sold in Colorado today. While the timing of the launch coincides with Halloween, the holiday in which Americans consume the most candy, the product awareness campaign will be a long-term effort to ensure Coloradans are better informed. One area where more information is needed, specifically, is about “Colorado’s marijuana”, which can differ drastically from marijuana elsewhere and marijuana in past decades.

“Spotting the pot in your kids’ candy is difficult, Halloween or not. The real question is why is marijuana in kid’s candy in the first place?” said Diane Carlson, a co-founder of Smart Colorado. “It’s our responsibility as a community to provide children, teens, parents, teachers, medical professionals, employers, and neighbors with the information necessary to protect Colorado citizens and, most importantly, our kids. We have unfortunately asked Colorado children and teenagers to navigate an increasingly dangerous environment without providing the information, tools and support they need to adequately protect their health and futures.”

Besides the billboards, other components of the campaign include:

  • Tips on how to stay safe and protect against accidental ingestion
  • An online quiz to test participants’ ability to distinguish between marijuana candy and regular candy
  • An upcoming report on the youth impacts of Colorado’s current regulatory environment

Washington State, which also legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, has already banned marijuana candy and other items that are especially appealing to kids. Within the tobacco industry, flavored cigarettes are banned. And yet, Colorado is allowing highly potent forms of marijuana to be sprayed or infused into familiar candies that are traditionally marketed to and consumed by kids.

“Colorado’s marijuana” includes smoked joints with THC levels that are considered hard drugs in the Netherlands; over 200 kinds of foods, candies, and drinks; and dangerous liquid concentrates that can be loaded into pens, asthma inhalers, and countless other innovative accessories.

Currently, there are 134 retail marijuana shops in Denver and 276 in the state of Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. That’s on top of the countless medical marijuana stores throughout the city and state. There are more marijuana shops in Denver than Starbucks or McDonald’s. In contrast, Washington State has just 21 shops in Seattle.

Colorado legalized limited amounts of medical marijuana in 2000 and fully legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.

About Smart Colorado

Smart Colorado is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of Colorado youth as marijuana becomes increasingly available and commercialized. Smart Colorado is a project of the Colorado Non-profit Development Center.

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