What’s all this talk about an October 1 weed deadline?

OCTOBER 1 is a big deal for pot businesses. As of that date, all medical and recreational pot merchants who package their products for retail sale must have packaging and labeling approval. Businesses that fail to meet this deadline will be in trouble: none of their pot can be sold. Note that the October 1 deadline does not apply to producers and processors who are simply passing bulk weed along the supply chain. Instead, the rule applies to cannabis presented in its final form to over-the-counter joes.

In keeping with the state’s awkward and ongoing merger of its medical and recreational programs, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (and not the Oregon Health Authority) will approve packaging for both medical and recreational products. Fortunately, the OLCC got the word out early and disseminated its guidebook far and wide. This was key because with a couple of sets of overlapping administrative rules, people were understandably confused. Beginning October 1, each container of weed you purchase must: (1) be child-resistant and unattractive to minors; (2) protect the items it holds; and (3) not contain false or misleading statements. This is all easy enough to understand.

To ensure packaging is not attractive to minors, the OLCC has decreed that packaging cannot include cartoons, images of minors, symbols or celebrities that appeal to minors, and so on. Other states, like Washington and Colorado, are still dealing with this issue after unfortunate episodes with kids eating poorly packaged products and ending up in the hospital. For a minute, Washington even proposed requiring a neon-green “Mr. Yuk” sticker (remember that guy?) on packaging for state-sanctioned weed. Today, Washington uses a discouraging red hand, pending results from a study as to what kids might especially dislike.

I mentioned that the OLCC has requirements specific to labeling. These are different for each type of cannabis product, and you would be bored if I gave you the rundown. So I’ll just highlight that edibles producers can include “gluten free” and “organic” proclamations (to which other laws would also apply). As to general requirements, each product’s name and weight are required inclusions, and each must be stamped with Oregon’s “universal symbol” for cannabis. That symbol contains an exclamation point—perhaps because weed is exciting!—alongside a white leaf in bright red relief. From the looks of it, the symbol was also designed to remind you of Canada while you enjoy yourself.

Oregon’s packaging and labeling deadline is the most recent compliance hurdle for local cannabis businesses. More are on the way. In this case, the goal is to protect children and inform adults, but also to ensure that entrepreneurs have a viable framework in which to peddle their wares. Anyone who wishes to keep selling legitimate weed should take the October 1 deadline seriously. Everyone else can enjoy their high, and the fun Canadian packaging.