Legalization is a hard-won victory for many advocates, volunteers and organizations. Once cannabis is legally allowed, whether medical only or also recreational, other challenges are then presented. One example is how each individual state government chooses to regulate packaging and labeling. The state requirements for cannabis packaging that are passed into law must be complied with carefully, doing otherwise could cost a manufacturer or a dispensary a fine or their license. Overall, the most restrictive states for cannabis packaging regulations are currently Alaska, California, Maryland and Massachusetts. Least restrictive are Arizona, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Some requirements are common among various states, while some are unique to one or two. Of these states and territories with some form of legalization (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington), below are similarities and differences. Please note cannabis packaging regulations for Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire and South Dakota are pending finalization.
Child Resistant Cannabis Packaging
The most universal cannabis regulations labels for packaging is child-resistance; laws in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon and Washington require this. A listing of ingredients and lab results, as well as the establishment’s name is standardly required as well. The next packaging requirement which is most common connects to visibility: any container containing cannabis must be opaque according to law in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands and Oregon. The same number of states oblige labeling to identify any product as “medical use only” if it is for medical patients in California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Cannabis Packaging Amounts
In Alaska, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Guam, Maine and Vermont, the specific amount of cannabis contained in the package must be listed. Seven states prohibit the use of cartoons or graphics, as well as having any resemblance to candy; this ruling is applicable in California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon, as to not appeal to children. Six states have laws which dictate cannabis packaging must display warnings regarding the dangers of smoking and otherwise consuming cannabis in Alaska, California, Guam, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Washington.
California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Nevada have enacted laws ruling packaging which has been tampered with must clearly show evidence. Allergen warnings are law in California, Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington, and cannabis packaging must be resealable in Alaska, Colorado and Washington. Clear identification of the selling establishment’s license number is necessary in Alaska, Maryland and Washington. As for single state requirements, Nevada alone currently requires a specific cap style for cannabis-containing liquids. State law dictates marijuana-infused products in liquid form are to be sealed using a metal crown, cork-style bottle cap.
Complications in Requirements
Sometimes, implantation is not simple. For example, although child-resistant packaging is a very common requirement and well based in the category of “completely necessary”, this type of container restriction can be problematic for another group that is a growing cannabis consumer: senior citizens. Allowing access to one set of persons, while restricting it to others, although the abilities can be similar, makes the issue of universally child-resistant products more difficult. Both an innovative solution and a success under testing can be expensive and time-consuming.
State cannabis packaging regulations are not without snags; recently in the news, a South Portland, Maine, recreational cannabis retailer was charged with a $10,000 fine for its logo, which depicts a mermaid holding a shell. Owner of SeaWeed Co., Scott Howard, has, in the eyes of the law, utilized “a prohibited image”, as Maine’s recreational cannabis rules prohibit labeling which depicts humans or animals and promotions considered “attractive to persons under 21 years of age.” Howard was given four months from the notice date to pay the fine and has been ordered to cease using the mermaid logo on its products, promotional materials and web site; the store owner stated he considers the rules to be “vague and open to interpretation.”
In Canada, packaging restrictions are even stricter. Focus is now being given to allow increased flexibility to producers for packaging and labeling. Current packaging regulations restrict each cannabis container to a single non-fluorescent color; photos and images beyond one small brand logo are not allowed. These rules are argued to equalize all brands unfairly, leading to lessened incentive to improve product quality.
Guidance on ever-changing state cannabis packaging regulations and requirements can be found easily through the CannaCon community, the nation’s leading business-to-business cannabis conference. By providing education for cannabis business owners on all things related to cannabis and CBD, the industry as a whole can flourish. Connect via social media and safe in-person events.