WSLCB - Marijuana Infused Edibles Update
(November 27, 2018)

The edibles story continues w/ WSLCB's draft issue brief, trade association feedback, and an agency pattern of missed deadlines.

On October 3rd, staff at the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) publicly announced a re-evaluation of existing and new rules regarding the approval of marijuana infused edible (MIE) products, packages, and labels (video, presentation).

For context, see Cannabis Observer’s initial update, the trade association coalition proposal, a flurry of edibles activity at the WSLCB at the end of August, and analysis of the trade association coalition proposal.

This update focuses on the WSLCB’s draft issue brief and feedback from the trade associations.

Here are three takeaways:

  • The WSLCB emailed a draft “Package, Label and Product Approval Process” issue brief to the trade association coalition on November 19.
    • Although the WSLCB stated the agency would respond to the coalition proposal by November 12, the draft issue brief was delivered a week late.
    • The draft issue brief addresses the trade association coalition proposal point by point but also includes additional requirements and appears to expand the scope of impacted products beyond edibles.
    • Notably, the draft abandons prohibition of products by type (e.g., “gummy candies”) but retains prohibitions on “brightly colored products” and “products similar to commercially available products intended for or that target youth or children.”
    • The draft constrains packaging and labels to a list of 16 permitted Pantone colors or gradients – and only one “accent color” may be used in relation to a limited roster of background and lettering color choices.
    • The draft states packages and labels cannot mimic medical products nor “State or imply the product has impacts to the health or effects on the mind and/or body of the consumer.”
    • The draft deflects the request for collaboration on public education and prevention as responsibilities of the Department of Health.
    • A parallel effort to clarify rules regarding homogeneous distribution of cannabinoids in MIE products has been merged into this draft.
    • A new overall effective date of January 1, 2020 is proposed.
    • The WSLCB requested feedback from the trade association coalition by Sunday November 25, giving the organizations less than one week (over the holidays) to muster a combined response.
  • The trade associations are no longer united in their positions.
    • The Cannabis Alliance responded independently to focus on packaging and labeling color restrictions; the prohibition on health claims; homogenization; and education and prevention.
    • The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) and the Cannabis Organization of Retail Establishments (CORE) issued a joint response which focused on the apparent expansion of impacted products; the prohibition on health claims; packaging and labeling color restrictions; and the timeline.
  • The WSLCB’s final product, packaging, and labeling proposal was supposed to be presented at Wednesday’s board meeting.
    • The draft issue brief states: “Once completed, a final draft will be brought before the Board on November 28th to be considered for approval.”
    • However, the agenda for the November 28th board meeting published on Monday November 26th contains no mention of a presentation. Cannabis Observer confirmed this information at the November 27th board caucus.
    • Notwithstanding a pattern of missed deadlines, it could be worthwhile for agency staff and the Board to take more than two working days to incorporate feedback from trade associations – and the public.
    • All board meetings include an opportunity for general public comment at the end of the meeting for up to four minutes per speaker.  A sign up sheet to testify is located at the entrance to the board room.

Here are shared documents for your review: