For years, cannabis opponents have claimed that individual states are unable to adequately protect the public — especially children — from the perceived harms of cannabis legalization. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made it clear he shares this concern earlier this month when he rescinded Obama-era guidelines allowing states to self-regulate its marijuana industry.
In what is seen as a preemptive strike, the National Association of Cannabis Businesses, the nation’s only self-regulating industry organization, has created national standards for the packaging and labeling of marijuana products. In some cases, the NACB guidelines are more rigorous than some state laws, highlighting the industry’s willingness to protect consumers and demonstrating to anti-legalization forces that the industry intends to operate at the highest levels of ethics and responsibility.
“The NACB believes that self-regulation is the most effective course of action for our members to control their own destiny in the face of regulators’ growing need to intervene,” said Andrew Kline, president of the NACB and a former federal prosecutor. “The creation and adoption of national, voluntary standards that are aligned with regulators’ priorities takes input from government, NACB members, and subject matter experts into careful consideration. Through this process, the SRO identified product packaging and labeling as our first priority because it impacts so many issues related to health and safety.”
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The new packaging and labeling standard addresses key public health and safety concerns, including:
- Child-resistant packaging guidelines for all cannabis products.
- Consistent labeling that identifies the cannabis product’s origin, cultivator and processor.
- Inclusion of warning statements regarding health risks associated with cannabis consumption, such as advising consumers to not drive or operate heavy machinery while using the product, and that the intoxicating effects of the product may be delayed after consumption.
- Avoiding packaging and labeling that appeal to minors.
- Requirements and methods for listing all ingredients present in the product.
- Inclusion of major food allergen warnings and information on cannabis edibles based upon U.S. Food & Drug Administration guidelines.
- Guidelines on how to address health and medical claims for cannabis products.
“Consumer education and awareness regarding the effects of cannabis products is a key concern for everyone working in the industry,” said Pete Kadens, co-Founder and CEO of Green Thumb Industries, a member of NABC. “It’s important that all cannabis consumers are made fully aware of what they are purchasing and consuming. Following these product labeling standards will ensure that marijuana products are used safely, are secured in packaging not accessible to anyone under the age of 21, and that consumers have all the information about the product they require.”
NACB has assembled a top-notch collection to create national standards that its founding members — including Dixie Elixers & Edibles, Buds & Roses, Cresco Labs, Green Thumb Industries, Green Dot Labs, Mesa Organics and others. “It’s an entirely new industry — an entirely new legal industry, rather—and it’s so rare that that happens,” said Doug Fischer, the NACB’s chief legal officer. “There are all these historical precedents of industries that have done a good or bad job or regulating themselves. But given the uncertain state of play at the federal level and the fragmented situation at the state level, the time is now for an organization like this in the legal cannabis industry.”