Marijuana Business Daily reports that the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) has developed a set of draft standards to “help NACB members protect consumers and demonstrate to regulators, financial institutions and the public that NACB members operate at the highest levels of ethics and responsibility.”
The move comes shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions repealed the Cole memo in early January, which had deprioritized most enforcement of cannabis prohibition, unless activity met certain criteria.
The NACB believes that self-regulation is the most effective course of action and hopes to create a national set of standards that “in some cases are more rigorous than state law.” The draft has 22 sections, and tackles packaging and labeling issues such as:
The definition of “child-resistant,” including opacity and exit bag or container thickness
Warning symbols and statements
Layers of packaging (labels and warnings must be on the outermost layer)
Standards for packaging solid edible products
Standards for product identification, ingredient listings for various types of products, including concentrates and edibles
Allergen warnings based on FDA specifications for cannabis products intended to be eaten or ingested orally
Sidebar: Preventable Harm—Accidental Exposure to Marijuana in Children
By Tammy Guns, MHA, Co-Owner Cannabis Corporate Solutions, LLC
At present, there are 30 states plus the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana in some capacity for either medical or recreational use. Access to marijuana products has come as a welcomed addition for those seeking its medical value or for those looking for its psychoactive properties. What isn’t welcomed though, is marijuana in the hands, and eventually, bodies of young children. A study out of Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational use of the product, showed that there was a statistically significant increase in the unintended exposure of young children to marijuana in the two years leading up to and following its legalization. The Children’s Hospital of Colorado noticed an uptick in the number of children showing up in the emergency room with side effects from exposure to marijuana. Over half of the unintended exposures in children came from the edible form of marijuana. Because candy is enticing to children, this is not surprising. Many exposures ocurred because marijuana products weren’t in child-resistant containers.
Since marijuana’s legalization, regulations around the product’s safety have lagged behind, changing only as the public need arises to meet safety and other concerns. States still vary on their laws and regulations, but there is a clear need for security and safety measures in order to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, children being exposed to marijuana unintentionally. This is where the packaging industry can be a leader in public safety.
The business of marijuana is growing rapidly. The current marketplace is a $6 billion per year industry and some reports estimate it will reach $22 billion by the year 2021. That represents nearly a 400% growth factor. Industry experts and investors have noted that the business of marijuana is outpacing dotcom era growth rates. Smoking the flower is still the most popular form of marijuana delivery at roughly 49% of all transactions; however, edibles are the second most popular form at approximately 13% of all transactions.
What does that mean for the packaging industry? The growth factor alone makes getting into this industry a desirable business strategy. The need to protect unintended exposures will only increase as marijuana continues to be legalized in more states; nearly 60% of the United States has legalized it already. The packaging industry can lead the way in the marijuana industry as well, with its long history of protecting consumers through appropriate access to products by thoughtful containers and proper labeling.