A Nevada bill could make marijuana “candy” illegal. It follows in the tradition of legislation in Colorado, Washington and Oregon which scrutinizes packaging and themes which may appeal to children. The debate has prompted discussion over the definition of ‘candy’ itself.
Nevada law already requires marijuana products to be designed in a manner not directed at children. Senate Bill 344 in Nevada frames language designed to protect children.
If passed, the bill would make it illegal for edible marijuana products to contain sugar, unless they are baked goods. Manufacturers and brand ambassadors would be forbidden from labeling products with cartoon characters, mascots, actions figures, balloons, fruits or toys. Products also cannot resemble products consumed by children, like gummy bears or Teddy Grahams.
“This bill is just the start,” said nonpartisan Sen. Patricia Farley, of Las Vegas.
Farley ultimately wants to prohibit all marijuana products containing sugar, as well as to forbid products in colors appealing to youth.
“We have to draw a little bit stricter of a line in the sand,” Farley said while introducing the bill to the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee went over the bill in a work session on April 12.
The bill stipulates marijuana products would need to indicate the amount of THC they contain. Brownies and cookies would need to be contained in opaque packaging.
“People are still able to do gummy bears, suckers and candy that looks like fruit,” said Farley, a mother of two children, ages 7 and 11. Farley supported marijuana legalization.
“We don’t have this kind of stuff in my home, but (my children) might go to someone else’s home and find something like this,” Farley said. “Our society has spent 50 years trying to educate people about the effects of alcohol and tobacco, but if we make (marijuana) appealing to children, we’re telling them it’s ok.”
Joe Pollock, deputy administrator for the Nevada Department of Health, hopes all edibles – not just cookies and brownies – will be packaged in ‘opaque’ (non-see through) packaging in the future, and contain no more than 25 milligrams of THC. First-timers are recommended to try about 10mgs to start, for comparison.
The bill, which proposes dosage limits for individuals up to 400 milligrams, falls short for some who seek stricter regulations.
“This is another way to make sure that Nevada leads the nation in its marijuana practices,” said Farley, who examined legal states like Oregon, Colorado and Washington.
Nevada Dispensary Association Executive Director Riana Durett believes many dispensaries abide by many measures in the bill. She notes that the Association believes the “definition of candy” needs some work.
Bipartisan support bode well for the bill. Some believe it doesn’t go far enough, to be sure.
“I think that you’re setting a standard that would protect our children,” said Sen. Becky Harris, R-Las Vegas.
Some asked that food items themselves contain stamps featuring warning labels, such as Colorado requires of its marijuana producers.
The issue with the stamp, Farley said, is that the state would need to conduct a public awareness campaign. Nevada does not have the funds for such a campaign, she lamented.
“If we put a leaf on it, but they don’t know what it means, what good is it?” Farley wondered, lamenting the state does not have funds to embark upon a public awareness campaign about the leaf.
Senators rebuked industry leaders who opposed the bill.
“Some of these statements being made today are disgusting. This is about greed over child safety. You’re not helping your case with members of this body by continuing to object that you believe this bill is too broad,” said Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas.
Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, agreed: “I remember when I was a kid you could go to the grocery store and buy candy cigarettes, you’d put them in your mouth and blow cigarette smoke, but it was candy. It was to get me ready to buy real cigarettes, I would hope to hear that the industry is cognizant of the fact that we want to protect our children from that type of advertisement.”
Director of Libertarian Party of Nevada, Wendy Stolyarov, called the bill too broad and opined that the government should not restrict companies from using certain colors and characters, etc.
Medical marijuana advocate Cindy Brown, disagreed: “Let us have the mascots. What happened to personal responsibility of parents? We keep trying to over-regulate people. What about children with cancer? We shouldn’t have to give them something yucky looking. Give them something pretty that they like. Really, really you guys.”
Images: Shutterstock, VCC Brands