New Colorado rules increase marijuana product safety and improve business efficiencies

DENVER, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 -- On Jan. 1, 2019, Colorado’s new permanent medical and retail marijuana rules will go into effect. Highlights of the new rules include a new audit and approval process for certain infused products, International Standards Organization (ISO) accreditation requirements for all testing facilities to meet international laboratory standards, mandatory testing of heavy metals and mycotoxins and ability to recycle marijuana roots, stalks and stems to make non-consumable fibrous products.

“The adoption of these new rules is the conclusion of a truly collaborative effort between members of the marijuana industry, the health community, regulators and other interested parties," said Michael S. Hartman, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR). "All of these stakeholders share the state's mission to protect public health and safety, as evidenced by enhanced standards for audited products, including nasal sprays and inhalers. We couldn't do this work without the feedback and partnership from the diverse group who participated in the rulemaking process.”

These new rules address public health and safety risks associated with certain products that fall outside of the current intended use categories, such as nasal sprays, inhalers and suppositories, apart from traditionally smoked or orally-ingested products. Public health experts during rulemaking determined that additional safeguards for these products were necessary to protect public health and safety. In order to be sold to consumers, new rules require these products to be subject to an audit or pre-approval process to evaluate compliance with ingredient restrictions, manufacturing processes, and other safety standards.

In an ongoing effort to ensure all marijuana, marijuana concentrate and marijuana product is properly tested, the new rules also include mandatory testing for mycotoxins and heavy metals. While acceptable limits for metals testing have existed in rule since 2014, the new rules add metals as a required test and modified some of the limits. The requirements for marijuana testing labs to become ISO accredited was a collaborative effort between the marijuana industry and its regulators, and is another example of how the state’s regulatory approach is inclusive of stakeholder concerns.

Several new rules prompted by 2018 legislation prioritize business efficiencies to enhance compliance for marijuana businesses, including eliminating the vertical integration requirement for medical businesses, which previously required medical marijuana centers to source the majority of their inventory from an affiliated cultivation, and adding the ability to recycle the roots, stalks and stems of marijuana plants for the production of non-consumable fibrous products.

“Our goal is always to develop rules that are transparent, systematic, operable, and grounded in law, so licensees are able to fully comply with all regulations,” said Jim Burack, Director of the Marijuana Enforcement Division. “We've focused on developing rules that first and foremost uphold the state’s priority to protect the public and at the same time realistically incentivize industry compliance."

The rules were promulgated by MED partly in response to statutory mandates established in the 2018 legislative session. As the effective date of these rules approaches, MED will conduct outreach to inform licensees of the new rules in an effort to enhance voluntary compliance. For a complete version of both the adopted medical marijuana rules and the adopted retail marijuna rules, visit