New York State's New Marijuana Packaging Rules Can Cause Price Hike

New York's largest medical marijuana trade group is requesting the state's Office of Cannabis Management to bring about changes in the draft regulations for marijuana packaging and labelling. The trade group says that the draft regulations are onerous and out of step with other legal states.

In a letter to OCM, the NY Medical Cannabis Industry Association said that proposed regulations would need multi-state businesses to make specific packaging for New York state. The Association also asked OCM to be more specific about what lettering and artwork companies can and cannot put on their packaging, rather than language prohibiting anything attractive to people under 21."

Commenting on the issue, Medical Cannabis Industry Association President Ngiste Abebe said, "We urge the OCM to reconsider its proposed packaging and labeling rules to better align them with best practices in established regulated markets such as Massachusetts or Colorado."

New York's Cannabis Control Board had on June 1 given the green signal to proposed marketing and packaging regulations, which include minimum standards, like requirements that all products be sold in child-proof containers. Packaging can't include pictures aside from the company's logo, and must show three state-approved symbols, list the product's THC and CBD content, contact information for the manufacturer and distributor, and other information, the draft regulations say.

The rules would also stop weed companies from marketing their products using bright colors, bubble letters, cartoons or other elements that could appeal to people under 21. They also ban billboard ads, and advertising anywhere fewer than 90% of the audience is likely to be under 21.

Abebe said that if New York creates packaging and labelling rules, which deviate far from those in other legal states, companies in other states will have to spend significantly more money to make NY-specific containers, which would drive up costs for customers, including medical patients.

She added, "Consumers are very price sensitive, especially in New York, where there is already an accessible and affordable unregulated market. The regulated adult-use prices need to be as competitive as possible to the existing market."

The NYMCIA asked the state to reconsider the size of warning labels it requires on packaging for marijuana products, and to be specific about what can and cannot appear on retail containers: the prohibition of "neon" colors and "bubble" fonts is ambiguous, the organization said, and OCM should be more specific. Those rules should also be "reasonable," Abebe wrote, considering that companies are competing with an unregulated market, which has no rules.

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