By Ben Wu
Almost every day, we hear from someone in the industry with a question about cannabis packaging. While the rules clearly say that cannabis must be packaged in child-resistant containers that meet the requirements of Title 16 CFR 1700 of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, there is a lot of misunderstanding about what types of containers actually meet those standards.
To help clarify this issue, we have listed some of the most common misconceptions about cannabis packaging, and have deconstructed the packaging regulations to help guide growers and dispensary owners in choosing packaging that is compliant and meets all rules.
Unfortunately, failure to understand these rules, and selling cannabis – either willingly or unknowingly in containers that have not met the standards for child-resistance ¬– can result in large fines, product confiscations and license revocations, as well as expose producers, packagers and dispensaries to lawsuits.
Accordingly, we recommend that dispensary owners and growers read this article and then do a complete review of their container inventory, with the goal of weeding out those containers that do not meet regulations, to avoid fines and other legal complications.
While the states of Washington and Colorado do have many similarities in their regulations, there are some differences. Understanding the complex regulations of Washington Administrative Code 314-55 can be time consuming and tricky. However, one key takeaway is that dispensaries and growers need to have paperwork on hand to demonstrate to regulators that their packaging solutions have met the specific requirements of the regulations.
Moreover, and of vital importance, many people in the industry mistakenly believe that a certification on one type or size of bottle that has been approved as “child resistant,” means that every bottle in that product line has certification, when in fact, it does not.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which administers Title 16 CFR 1700, requires that each size container must undergo its own testing for child resistance with an accredited independent lab.
There have been situations in which some packaging distributors have provided a certification for one size of bottle, but have not gone through the extensive (and expensive) testing on the other sizes in that product line. Accordingly, many dispensaries are carrying bottles that are not, in fact, child resistant, according to the law.
Although there are a lot of packaging options available, and a number of products that look similar to the ones that are certified as “child resistant,” many of these options do not meet the state regulations and are subject to forfeiture, fines and other actions.
Additionally, a number of these bottles are manufactured overseas and have no assurance that they would protect product from contamination or would not impart toxic or deleterious substance, as required by WAC 314-5-105.
Some of these cheaper overseas containers have been found to have a peculiar odor and somewhat oily or waxy feel on the inside surface. It is not a stretch to assume that this odor and/or oily substance could contaminate the cannabis stored inside these containers.
Unfortunately, failure to comply with regulations can lead to fines and shutdowns, and leave producers, packagers and dispensaries exposed to lawsuits in the event a patient or customer has a negative incident, resulting from a contaminated product. And in today’s litigious society, everyone down the line – from growers to dispensaries, could be named in a lawsuit resulting from a product contamination.
Fortunately, there are high quality packaging solutions that are made in the USA with materials approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These have passed the rigorous testing at independent labs in accordance with stringent standards as set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and ASTM International.
As a grower or dispensary owner, you should ask your packaging provider to provide proof of child-resistance certification on each and every bottle they sell. Sometimes it may cost a few pennies more to get the better quality, certified bottles, but it is well worth the small investment — and could save you untold fortunes down the road by helping you avoid fines, shutdowns, license revocation or lawsuits.
This industry is still in its infancy, and now more than ever, everyone needs to self-police and keep everything on the up and up.
Our industry needs to prove to the every governing body that we can run our businesses in a legal and ethical manner, and that we can self-regulate by doing everything possible to keep our product out of the hands of minors, while protecting our crop from any form of contamination.
Obtaining certified child resistant packaging made with FDA-approved medical grade material from a reputable supplier is the first line of defense for many businesses.
Ben Wu is the CEO of Kush Bottles, which produces certified child resistant bottles and packaging.