Vegas Lawmaker Proposes Banning Edibles That Resemble Candy

By Paul Gaita 04/18/17

The bill's sponsor believes the legislation would deter young people from purchasing or consuming edibles that look like candy.

a red lollipop, a yellow lollipop, a lollipop with a marijuana bud and a blue lollipop

The Nevada senate is considering a bill that would impose severe restrictions on both the content and packaging of edible marijuana products in order to prevent them from being consumed by children. Senate Bill 344 proposes that edible marijuana products containing sugar should be regarded as illegal, unless they are baked goods such as cookies or brownies.

The bill would also ban packaging that feature child-friendly images such as "cartoon characters, mascots, action figures, balloons, fruits or toys," and prevent edible products from being manufactured to resemble candy or other items consumed by children, such as gummy bears.

The bill's sponsor, Senator Patricia Farley (I-Las Vegas), has been working on the text with industry leaders, and considers its current form as "just the start." Ultimately, Farley would like to add amendments that would eliminate all edible products that contain sugar and also ban such items that are produced in primary colors, which she believes would deter young people from purchasing or consuming them.

Farley, who supported Nevada's recent legalization efforts, and fellow bill proponents also seek to make changes to edibles that are not in the bill's crosshairs: products with high THC content would be required to display that information on their packaging, while foodstuff items like cookies or brownies, would be sold in opaque packaging.

Joe Pollack, deputy administrator for the Nevada Department of Health, is a strong proponent of the latter amendments, and is also seeking to set limits of 25 milligrams of THC for individual servings (in most cases standard servings contain 10 milligrams). Several community members have also called for warning labels or stamps to be included on every edible product in the same manner as products sold in Colorado, where the words "candy" or "candies" cannot be used unless it is a part of the manufacturer's name. Farley stated that a stamp for Nevada products would require a public awareness campaign that the state currently lacks the funds to properly conduct.

Marijuana industry supporters and members expressed concern that the bill's language was too broad, especially in its definition of "candy." Nevada Dispensary Association Executive Director Riana Durett noted that many of the requirements proposed by the bill were already in place in the state's dispensaries, while medical marijuana advocate Cindy Brown noted that cartoon characters and bright colors are frequently used in advertising or signage to sell alcohol or gambling without any concern to child safety, while Julie Montero, a registered pediatric and emergency room nurse, noted that another drug class might benefit from similar restrictions and packaging. "I would like us to go across the board for pharmaceuticals," she said.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.