Identifying legal marijuana has become a whole lot simpler in Massachusetts thanks to the cannabis catalog. Learn more about the marijuana catalog.
Massachusetts has taken a proactive stance when it comes to managing legal marijuana identification in the state. The first of its kind in the country, the Cannabis Control Commission launched its cannabis catalog in April to make identifying legal (and thus illegal) marijuana products simple. Apart from distinguishing licensed products, however, the marijuana catalog has further benefits in the Bay State and (potentially) beyond.
A Cannabis Catalog for Public Safety
Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) endeavored to create the catalog to allow law enforcement, parents and regulators to easily identify whether a cannabis product is legal or not.
Information and transparency are a huge part of the legal marijuana industry in Massachusetts. For example, cannabis product labels must contain the serving size and weight, any additives, and contain below a specific level of THC. Like any consumable product, this information allows the consumer to use the product responsibly while being aware of its contents. Unfortunately, illegal cannabis products look just like legal ones, but their contents can’t be assured.
This presents a huge problem for law enforcement, cannabis users and industry regulators when cannabis products are encountered outside of a law-abiding shop. Until now.
The idea for a database arose at the CCC in 2018, after a licensee requested to manufacture pot-infused cake pops. As there are strict regulations about designing products that appeal to children, the cake-pop idea was squashed — but it brought up questions around how best to track products and keep the public safe.
Then in 2019, vape-users were developing a lung disease resulting from the additive vitamin E acetate. Unfortunately, health officials had no way to easily search for products containing that ingredient. A comprehensive database would have helped, and that’s one of the goals for the state’s marijuana catalog.
CCC Executive Director Shawn Collins says, “I am confident this tool will support our ongoing efforts to expand public awareness in Massachusetts while promoting public health and safety.”
How the Marijuana Catalog Works
Found on the CCC’s easy-to-navigate website, the cannabis catalog is simple to use. Users can search by product name or filter products by, item category, license number and even quantity type (ie weight, count or volume).
Each product will include information to help the user verify ingredients, packaging, labels, potency, retail locations and more. While the cannabis catalog is still being populated with information, the CCC hopes that eventually, every state-legal product will be listed: flower, pre-rolls, edibles, vapes, topicals and more.
“This information is optional, currently, for the licensee for them to assist us in developing this product catalog … We do anticipate that some of these fields could at some point become a requirement,” Executive Director Collins told the State House News Service.
At the time of the marijuana catalog’s launch, 122,000 regulated marijuana products had been recorded. This June, when we searched “vape”, 12,878 products were returned, and the search “flower” produced 12,360. So even though the system isn’t mandatory, it’s already proving to be a valuable resource for the state.
Beyond Just Health Benefits
Curiously, the CCC’s cannabis catalog has an option to choose which state the search is for. Massachusetts is the only option, but it makes us wonder if (or when) the system will be seen beyond state borders. The benefits of a marijuana catalog beyond public safety quickly come to mind, and it’s likely that other states are watching.
- On-the-go check for police to identify illegal product possession.
- State regulators can check pot-shop inventory for compliance.
- A way for cannabis users to easily find their favorite product.
- Until the catalog is a requirement, brands that voluntarily participate will increase their trust factor and visibility to catalog users.
- Participating brands can use their participation as a selling factor, again increasing consumer trust.
- Medical professionals can search products if a patient becomes ill after use, aiding in treatment.
The company that created the database platform, Metrc, knows what they are doing. The company currently works with seventeen states, providing seed-to-sale tracking and other regulatory frameworks and tools to allow governments to monitor and enforce compliance. If the CCC’s marijuana catalog is a success, Metrc will no doubt bring the technology to other states.
As the legalization of cannabis spreads across the country, compliance, public health and safety, and product tracking are issues each state will have to face. It appears that Massachusetts is taking care in all three areas, and the cannabis catalog is a promising part of their strategy. Stay up to date on all things cannabis with CannaCon!