Washington State Reverses Stance on Infused Candy, Again
Earlier this month The Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board (LACB) issued new regulations around infused edibles, specifically those that might be appealing or recognizable as treats to children such as soft chews, gummy bears and hard candies.
Using criteria like appearance, color, and similarity to other commercially available products marketed to children the board reevaluated what was available on the market and issued new guidelines to go into effect January 1, 2019. Retailers will have until April 3 2019 to sell remaining inventory.
Edibles producers in the state had argued that the new bans will hurt their bottom line, in some cases the newly prohibited products account for 60-80% of sales and investing in new equipment can be costly and prohibitive. Diana Isaiou, owner of American Baked Co., told the Seattle Times that chews account for 60 percent of her sales.
Cannabis Industry and Consumers Push Back
Then in a surprising twist, the state regulators pressed pause on the new ban, opting instead to hear input from the public and alternative ideas from industry groups for a period of 30 days. “In conversations with industry members, we agreed to pause the product and label review process to consider any alternative proposals from the industry,” WSLCB Director Rick Garza said in a statement last week. Regardless of whether it accepts an alternative proposal for certain edible products, the LCB will continue its practice of not allowing any product that it deems “especially appealing to children” to enter the marketplace.
Manufacturers were not the only ones upset and taken aback by the ban, many consumers who opt not to smoke favour edibles as a way to ingest cannabis.
The Suggested Allowable Products and Limitations
The following lists are what the WSLACB had recommended as allowable products and their limitations regarding appearance.
Allowable infused products:
Chips and Crackers
Sauces and Spices
Allowable infused products with limitations on appearance:
Examples of limitations:
Chocolate in its original color and not coated, dipped, sprayed or painted with any type of color.
Chocolate in the shape of a bar or ball. No shape or design that is especially appealing to children.
Caramel and fruit caramels. No color, shape or design that is especially appealing to children.
Cookies that do not contain sprinkles or frosting.
Mints that have no color (white or white with small color fleck to represent the flavor only).
How Canada’s Approach Will Differ
When Washington State legalized recreational cannabis in 2012 the approach was a far more open, free market style that allowed small businesses to develop and flourish in the legal space.
Canada’s approach is to put an emphasis on harm reduction and preventing children from accessing cannabis from the get go. With that in mind, Canada is opting to slowly roll out regulations after much consideration and input from various stakeholders. The idea is to prevent having to clamp down on overly loose regulations later. This means that edibles and topical infusions will not be legally available to Canadian consumers until sometime in 2019.