NY Plans Cannabis Packaging Regulations
As the state of New York creeps closer to beginning recreational sales, official rules and regulations are becoming less opaque. On Nov. 3, Axel Bernabe of the New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) told a New York City business of cannabis conference the first adult-use cannabis retailer licenses “could be approved in about two weeks.” He was referring to the Nov. 21 Cannabis Control Board (CCB) meeting, which is expected to discuss the first set of Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary licenses.
“We are on target” to open the first cannabis storefronts, owned by people who’ve been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, this year,” said Tremaine Wright, chair of the CCB, the same day on a separate panel. “There will be stores open before the end of the year. We will keep opening until 150 are open across the state.” Uniform packaging and labeling regulation information is included in a released series titled, “Guidance for Adult-Use Dispensaries,” for licensees and applicants.
One aspect of the rules for cannabis packaging in New York that regulators unveiled is aimed to increase sustainability within the industry. The state requires cannabis businesses to incorporate “at least 25% post-recycled consumer content into their packaging and annually report key metrics on the implementation of their sustainability initiatives.” Lyla Hunt, the OCM deputy director of public health and campaigns, said, “I just want to underscore the balance of the wide array of different critical public policy goals in releasing the packaging and labeling regulations. We’re really excited to move the needle and to be leading here on the environmental component. We’re really excited to work to help continue those good efforts.”
In other states, some business owners, although not as formally mandated, have begun transitioning to packaging that is more Earth-friendly. For example, Troy Meadows, co-founder of California-based Legion of Bloom, has taken steps for the company’s vape cartridges and flower line.
“I feel like, as with all things, sustainability is a journey, not necessarily a destination,” Meadows says. “You definitely have to balance what works best for your systems as an organization.”
He lauds New York’s proposed packaging laws and regulations, saying “I think it’s business as a whole’s opportunity in responsibility to do what’s best for the planet. I just think it’s one of the things where we could make a big difference on what the global footprint is, the environmental footprint, by removing [plastic] because it’s such a hard thing to actually recycle and reuse. But I would really love to see the industry as a whole come together on this.”
Other marijuana packaging and labeling rules include more standard wording, such as not being attractive to children, non-toxic, and casing that is child-resistant and tamper-proof. All cannabis, edibles and concentrates will bear the Universal State Symbol of Approval, which contains a yellow THC flower in a triangle with a 21+ symbol in a red circle above the New York State logo. This label confirms the merchandise is licensed and legitimate after being subjected to laboratory testing.
Lauren Rudick, an attorney with New York-based Hiller, PC, and the co-founder of the firm’s cannabis law practice, said state regulators are also taking further — and somewhat unprecedented — steps to ensure cannabis packaging does not appeal to children.
“The state has articulated some very detailed ways for us to meet those determinations, including prohibiting the use of neon colors and then going so far as to provide a spectrum as to what neon constitutes so we can determine what’s neon,” Rudick said. “Certainly, [there is] no use of cartoon images, no use of foods that are traditionally attractive to children [and] no distortion of any common trademark that’s used to designate candy, [such as] Skittles.”
She also indicated regulators will be “taking a very, very hard look” at cannabis packaging to ensure it adheres to all the state’s guidelines, and licensees found in noncompliance will likely be subject to recalls.
In order to assist in compliance, the OCM, in conjunction with the State University of New York and Cornell University, will soon begin its inaugural 10-week Cannabis Compliance Training & Mentorship program. It is based on existing farmer apprenticeship and fellowship programs and will consist of multiple structured webinars, which cover cannabis topics such as cultivation and processing, agribusiness management and regulatory compliance.
Another great resource for compliance is HISIERRA, a company that develops and manufactures earth-friendly, sustainable, American-made cannabis packaging solutions. Our goal is to make the cannabis world a greener place by providing products to enhance eco-friendly messaging and preserve products with certified safe and child-resistant packaging solutions. Review the HISIERRA product options and become familiar with your state’s packaging laws and regulations.