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Washington backs off ban of marijuana infused edibles

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board clarified their position on marijuana infused edibles during a webinar presented on December 18th. In a reversal of their original proclamation, the agency is no longer going to ban certain types of edibles like gummies or hard candies. Instead they will focus on limiting the shape, color, and packaging for infused products to be sure none of it is especially appealing to children. This focus means bright colors and designs are out, and what they often referred to as “dull in nature” is in.

The WSLCB is now providing guidance with approved shapes and colors. This is something that was requested by the industry through a coalition of trade groups that came together at the Lemonhaze Cannabis and Comedy Convention in the weeks right after the initial ban on many edible products was announced in October. The Cannabis Alliance, Cannabis Organization of Retail Establishments (CORE), and Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) were very successful in first creating a pause on the implementation, and now it would seem a reversal by the agency.

All products and packaging will need to be reapproved by January 1, 2020 if a proposal that goes before the board in the first meeting of the new year is approved. Separately from the issue of infused edibles, new packaging rules for all marijuana products go into effect on January 1, 2019 for all new products and packaging. If you are using existing packaging you have until June 1, 2019 to use that stock up. The WSLCB confirmed yesterday that it is acceptable to apply a sticker for the new universal marijuana symbol if you are somewhere in between. They also reiterated that not just edibles are covered by the rule regarding packaging that appeals to children. Be prepared for future rulemaking that adds additional constraints on all marijuana packaging.

If you missed the webinar, they promised to post the slide show and answers to the hundreds of questions they were receiving online in the next two days or weeks (they said both). Hopefully they don’t hide it like they did the webinar link.

At the end of the day, many businesses that were in jeopardy because they produced a banned product like a fruit chew or hard candy will be able to continue, but in many cases with the expense and hassle of re-approving and rebranding their product lines. Some are asking why this is happening five years into legal cannabis in Washington State? The WSLCB says they are responding to complaints about products on the shelves. Watch for more updates.

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