Last year, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1057, which transferred cannabis labeling authority from the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (“OLCC”). The new rules, which became operational on August 15, 2018, merged the OHA rules with those of the OLCC and further clarified the labeling and packaging regulations. Overall, this is a good thing.
Although the new regulations do not drastically differ from those under the old rules, OLCC licensees (i.e., recreational marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers, including those processing and selling hemp products) and OHA registrants (i.e., medical marijuana growers, processors, and retailers) will need to familiarize themselves with these revisions and update their labels to be in compliance by April 1, 2019. At that point, all marijuana items transferred to dispensaries or retail shops will have to be packaged and labelled pursuant to the new rules.
To comply with these new standards, existing licensees will need to resubmit their label and package applications for pre-approval before the April 1, 2019 deadline. Also note that all new label and package applications submitted for pre-approval as of August 15th will be reviewed and evaluated by the OLCC under these rules. Typically, pre-approval takes 2 to 4 weeks but can occasionally last longer.
The most noticeable changes and clarifications to the labeling and packaging rules are as follows:
- The word “consumer” now excludes “a patient or designated caregiver.”
- The new rules explicitly provide that they apply to marijuana items and industrial hemp products sold to consumers, patients, or designated primary caregivers. Consequently, the new rules require a clear label of whether the product contains marijuana or hemp. If it contains both, then the label must identify the item as a marijuana item.
- Marijuana items and industrial hemp products must be packaged in a container that is “resealable and continually child-resistant.”
- If the product is an industrial hemp commodity or product processed by a licensee, the principal display must include the hemp symbol in place of the marijuana universal symbol.
- The new rules define “added substances” to mean “any additional component or ingredient added to usable marijuana, cannabinoid concentrate or cannabinoid extract during or after processing that is present in the final product. This includes added flavors, terpenes, and any substances used to change viscosity or consistency of the cannabinoid product.”
- The new rules no longer provide a distinction for “flag labels.” Instead, the new regulations refer to “small container labels and “tiny container labels,” which have their own requirements.
- The new rules no longer require test batch numbers on labels.
- The new rules replaced the font size and font type requirements (at least 8 point Times New Roman, Helvetica, or Arial font) with a provision that the labels display a “legible font that is easy to read and contrasts sufficient with the background and is at least 1/16th of an inch in height based on the uppercase ‘K’.”
- The new rules rephrased some of the warning requirements to read as follows: “Do not drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.” And, “Keep out of reach of children.” (You are no longer required to mention animals.)
Note that while labels must comply with the new rules by April 1, 2019, marijuana items on dispensary or retail shelves that meet old packaging and labeling rules under the OHA will be allowed for sale until December 31, 2019. However, as of January 1, 2020, all marijuana items will have to meet the OLCC packaging and labeling rules and all items with labels that meet the pre-August 15, 2018 rules will be removed from the market.
So, if you are licensed to produce, process or sell marijuana or industrial hemp products in Oregon be sure to review the new rules now to have ample time to update your labels by the April 1, 2019 deadline and avoid any civil penalty, which can go up to $500 per day—Ouch!