Colorado Statewide Regulatory Structure for Retail Marijuana

At a Glance:

Location: Colorado

Date: 2013

Vital Condition: Basic Needs for Health and Safety

Determinants of Health: substance use, adverse childhood experiences, substance use

Affected Population: Children and Youth

Research Methods: Literature review, Primary research

Community Types: suburban

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The Colorado School of Public Health and Colorado’s Children’s Hospital conducted a rapid health impact assessment (HIA) on the final regulatory structure for retail marijuana in Colorado. Amendment 64 legalized and set preliminary regulations for recreational marijuana sales to adults over 21 years of age. The HIA intended to inform the State’s final regulatory structure. The HIA focused on the health impacts to children through unintended ingestion of marijuana and how child-resistant packing could potentially mitigate these impacts.

The HIA working group brought together stakeholders from working groups created by the Colorado State Licensing Authority including the labeling, packaging, product safety, and marketing groups.

Based on literature reviews and stakeholder input, the HIA made several recommendations. Broadly, the HIA recommended that all retail marijuana and marijuana products be sold in child-resistant packaging, as defined by ASTM International and the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970. The HIA also made specific recommendations, including that all child-resistant packaging be opaque, so the content is obscured, and that child-resistant packaging for products containing multiple servings or that could be consumed over multiple instances is re-closeable.

Formal public hearings on the final State rules took place in August 2013 and the full set of State rules was expected by September 2013.


The HIA recommended that Colorado adopt child-resistant packaging standards for marijuana. The HIA’s recommendations were viewed positively at the state level, primarily because they were justified by scientific evidence. The recommendations were supported by a broad group of stakeholders, and the HIA ultimately led to the adoption of child-resistant packaging standards in the state.

This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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