Labels, legislation and cannabis.

Author:Kenny, Jack
Position:FRONT Row

Unless you sit down and actually read the regulations governing the legal use of cannabis, you probably don't have a clue how long and exhaustive they are. Included in those legislative volumes are rules about labeling and packaging. Every industry associated with product development wants in: farmers, distributors, retailers, researchers, manufacturers of products related to the consumption of marijuana, converters.

In 2017, seven US states and Canada tallied cannabis sales of $9.7 million. That excludes California, where recreational marijuana was legalized in January of 2018. Sales in California, the world's sixth largest economy and with 40 million people, are expected to reach $3.7 million by the end of this year, and possibly $5.1 million in 2019. (That's a concern for beer, sales of which were $5 million in 2017 and remain relatively flat.)

PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, says legal cannabis could grow to $24.5 billion by 2020 in the US. Right now. medical marijuana is legal in 30 states and in the District of Columbia, and comprises 65% of sales. Ten states and DC have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, despite the fact that the federal government still considers it illegal (but is not enforcing the law in states where it's approved). Nations where it is legal are Canada, Georgia, South Africa and Uruguay. Weed is illegal in most of the world, but a sizeable percentage of countries look the other way at consumer consumption.

Private enterprise stands to gain by legalization, of course, but so does government. California imposes several taxes, which resulted in revenue of about $74 million in the second quarter of 2018. That includes excise tax, cultivation tax, and sales tax of 15% on retail sales of all cannabis products. Local taxes and fees could apply.


California offers a good example of cannabis label and packaging regulations. The first thing to note is that all regulations, there and in every other state, focus first on making the products inaccessible to young people.

"Cannabis product packaging cannot resemble traditionally available food packages and must be tamper-evident, re-sealable if the product includes multiple servings, and child-resistant. In addition, packaging for edibles must be opaque... Cannabis product labeling cannot be attractive to children. This includes using cartoons, images popularly used to advertise to children, imitating candy...

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