The unintended consequences of Colorado's great pot experiment

It’s too soon, however, to call Colorado’s measure an unqualified success. Officials had long warned of unforeseen problems once the retail stores opened their doors on Jan. 1, and such fears have proved legitimate thanks largely to how people are choosing to get high. So-called edibles are being blamed for an increase in the number of pot-related emergency room visits, including those from a half-dozen or so children who unknowingly ate pot-laced treats. The baked goods and candies also are believed to have played a role in two deaths in the past two months—providing opponents with front-page anecdotes that run counter to the cannabis-kills-no-one narrative long trumpeted by legalization advocates. A college student visiting from Wyoming jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony in March after consuming six times the recommended dose of a pot-infused cookie. The following month, a Denver man is believed to have shot and killed his wife after eating pot-laced candy, although police concede that he may have had other drugs in his system, too.

Edibles aren’t the only problem. Colorado authorities are also dealing with a rash of fiery house explosions caused by pot enthusiasts making THC-rich hash oil in their homes through a dangerous process that involves heavy amounts of butane, a highly flammable gas that can linger and ignite. Earlier this week in a suburb of Colorado Springs, firefighters responded to one such explosion at an apartment and found two adults and a 3-year-old child trapped inside. No one was injured, although the adults now face reckless endangerment charges in addition to child abuse and arson.