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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Legalized Marijuana

Claudia Cowan

San Francisco, CA

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Sweet Pot Ice Creams Prompt Bitter Debate

September 22, 2010 - 12:03 PM | by: Claudia Cowan

With flavors like Banannabis Foster, Straw-Mari Cheesecake, and TRIPle Chocolate Brownie, cannabis-infused ice creams currently found at marijuana dispensaries could become widely available in California, if voters pass a November ballot measure, Proposition 19, that would legalize pot for adult recreational use.

As Lanette Davies with the Canna Care dispensary in Sacramento says, “it really is a nice option for a lot of people that don’t smoke, or that don’t want to smoke.”

Users say they don’t taste the marijuana, but they feel its effect. A half-pint of the so-called “high cream” typically contains 4 doses of high grade cannabis, and eating the whole thing would be roughly the equivalent of smoking 8 joints.

Now, the sweet treats are prompting bitter debate.

Some are concerned about whether parents could be held negligent if they store their potent ice cream in the freezer, right next to the Ben & Jerry’s– and children reach for (and eat from) the wrong container.

Critics like Roger Salazar with the No on Prop. 19 campaign says if the measure passes, Californians will be bombarded with – not just ice cream- but all kinds of “canna-cuisine.”

“Man, you’re going to see it in everything!,” Salazar says. “You’re gonna have it in spaghetti, you’re gonna have it in coffee creamer, mashed potatos, you name it. People are gonna start sprinkling it on top of their breakfast cereal for all we know. California’s going to be the Wild West in terms of marijuana products.”

But supporters of legalization say those fears are overblown. “It’s not likely you’re gonna find it on the shelves of Safeway markets,” says Dale Sky Jones, spokewoman for the Tax & Regulate Cannabis campaign. “You’re only going to get it from specialized sellers that have a permit to only sell this to adults 21 and over, or perhaps to a dispensary for medical use.”

Both sides worry that consumers of these sugary edibles are taking something of a risk. The ice creams are typically home-made by other dispensary customers, and sold for $15.00 to $18.00. The packaging is often crude at best, leaving users to determine dosage through trial and error. Users need to trust that whoever is making it is using fresh ingredients in a sanitary kitchen. Supporters of Prop. 19 say regulating pot would help ensure labels are accurate, and edibles– safe. “Cannabis cannot kill you, however some bad eggs can make you sick. And that’s why it’s so vital that we have the health department’s involvement in cooking with any type of cannabis,” says Jones.

But law enforcement officials point out there would be no FDA approval of edibles. Even if Californians pass Proposition 19, marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, which has no appetite for cannabis ice cream or any other pot product. While the Drug Enforcement Agency has largely given state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries a pass, critics say Prop. 19 violates the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. Nine former DEA chiefs have sent a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder, urging the Department of Justice to take legal action if voters approve the measure.

It may not be necessary. The latest polls show the measure too close to call, which, with the election just over a month away, may not bode well for supporters of Prop. 19.

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