In 2012, Washington became the first state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis for adult use. And as such, it had to pioneer the country’s first batch of rules and regulations for a legal marijuana industry. Following voters intent, Washington did not overly restrict what kinds of products it allowed. But it also left the door open for future revisions to its policies. And due to an uptick of concerns over marijuana edibles, Washington is about significantly changing what kinds of products shops will and won’t be able to sell.
State Board Agrees With Parents Over Concerns About Cannabis Candies
On Wednesday, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board released a presentation outlining concerns over marijuana-infused candy and the board’s plans to respond to those concerns. The presentation begins by citing concerns from the public and industry stakeholders over many edible weed products. Agreeing with public concerns, the board initiated a comprehensive review of its policies regarding edibles and their appeal to children.
The board’s reevaluation determined that hard candy and tarts, as well as fruit chews, jellies and any kind of gummy product, met the definition of being “especially appealing to children,” the Seattle Times reports. A Washington state regulation prohibits the production of products that fall under that definition.
Infused edible products make up just under 10 percent of all the cannabis sold in Washington state. Despite their popularity, however, Washington regulators have an added incentive to reduce the appeal of cannabis edibles to children. The Obama-era Cole Memo, issued to provide federal guidance to states that had legalized recreational cannabis, specifically mandated states do everything in their power to prevent children from getting hold of any cannabis products. Even though Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the memo during his inaugural bombast against legal cannabis, states still take its guidance seriously so as not to temp federal enforcement actions.
The More Colorful The Edible, The More Likely It Will Be Banned
But Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board is reassuring manufacturers and retailers that many marijuana-infused edible products will still be acceptable. And it has issued some guidelines for what will and won’t fly.
Drab, brown, nondescript edibles will end up back on store shelves. But something with sprinkles? Or frosting, or a brightly colored candy shell? That will be a no go. That’s because the criteria the board will use to evaluate edibles is all about appearance. The more colorful, the more appealing to kids. And any similarity with other, non-cannabis products marketed toward kids also counts.
So when it comes to making infused chocolate, cookies, caramels and mints, manufacturers will have to follow some strict limitations on how their product looks. Cookies can’t have sprinkles or frosting. Mints have to be white. And nothing can be shaped or molded into any design that might appeal to children. For chocolates, that means bars and balls only, in their original cocoa color.
Washington Weed Shops Have To Sell Off Unapproved Edibles By April
The rule change governing cannabis-infused edibles will take effect on January 1, 2019. Companies can resubmit products to the board for reevaluation and the board will notify them as to whether or not they qualify. Weed shops have a little more time. They can sell their existing edible inventory until there’s none left or until April 3, whichever comes sooner. After that, retailers and producers will have to destroy all edible products that are still especially appealing to children.