Pot Puppies? Let’s Talk Labeling and Packaging, NOW

Even our furry friends are feeling the green rush, but not necessarily in a good way.

According to USA Today, the number of dogs in Washington State testing positive for THC consumption has doubled since passage of I-502 (Washington’s law legalizing recreational marijuana). Though appropriate doses of marijuana can be beneficial for humans (and to some extent, animals), in large doses or combined with other dog-toxic substances, it can mean serious illness for man’s best friend (and kids too).

Some of this problem with people giving their pets marijuana falls on marijuana producers for failing to properly and sufficiently label their pot products. Marijuana producers and retailers should be putting clear disclaimers on their products highlighting potential dangers — especially to animals and to children — and calling on users not to give kids and animals easy access. Even without such labeling, at least some blame must fall on the consumers who carelessly allow their pets to get sick from pot.

As Christie Long, associate veterinarian at VCA Fort Collins Animal Hospital, puts it: “Most people who smoke or eat pot know what their threshold is. Animals don’t, and dogs think cookies are great anyway. If you leave a marijuana cookie out, they’re going to eat it.” So, just like with kids, try your best to keep your meds or recreational marijuana away from your pooch.

And if you are producing, distributing or selling pot, you need to think long and hard about where your liability could lie and you better start labeling your product accordingly. Is your product clear on its content and on its ingredients? Is it clear on its recommended serving size and is the content of each serving? Do all of your products and packages and labelings comply with all applicable federal, state and local product, packaging and labeling laws? If you are producing or selling medibles, are you familiar with and in compliance with all that entails? Not only can doing it wrong lead to legal problems, it also can damage your reputation.

Just by way of one graphic example, we had a client who was making a medible with peanuts and nowhere mentioning that its product contained that ingredient. Now just imagine for a minute what might have happened had that product been consumed by someone with a severe peanut allergy.

If you are in the medible business, you are in the food business and you must act accordingly. The labeling and packaging issues stemming from cannabis candy products give us cannabis business lawyers nightmares.

You should not be selling your product without first making sure that both it and its packaging and its labeling comply with all cannabis/food/drink and labeling/packaging requirements. You should also make sure that you are doing whatever you can to give yourself a fighting chance in any potential product liability lawsuit. On top of all this, you should, if possible, have insurance in place to protect you against any contingencies.