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New York State proposes cannabis regulations on packaging

The proposal would regulate the packaging and marketing of recreational cannabis.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — State licensed dispensaries selling recreational cannabis are expected to open by the end of the year in New York. 

And the Office of Cannabis Management is busy coming up with how it will be regulated.

While these regulations are just proposals at this point, they give us a look at how cannabis will be sold and marketed here in New York. The packaging and advertising can't appeal to anyone under 21 since recreational cannabis is only legal for people 21 and up here in New York State.

"You can't use neon fonts. You can't use bubble letters. You can't use images of celebrities," explains attorney Joe Schafer.

The 26-page draft proposal from the state's Cannabis Control Board focuses on the packaging, labeling, marketing and advertising of recreational cannabis all to the 21 and over crowd.

"You can put your brand name on it. You can put your logo on it, but beyond that, you have to have your warnings, you have to have your THC label, you have to have everything that makes it abundantly clear to the consumer that this is a cannabis product meant only for those individuals over, or 21 years of age and older," Schafer said.

The proposed regulations also say companies would only be allowed to advertise their products in places where more than 90-percent of the population will be 21 or over.

And if you want to sell clothes showcasing your logo, you can only sell adult sizes. 

The Cattaraugus County Public Health Director says the proposed regulations are ideal, but says parents have to take responsibility, too.

"I think what we'll have to do though is really try to get some type of educational campaign for our parents, or for those who are in a household where there are children around for them, to at least start to lock up the edibles and resist consuming these edibles when they're around their children," Cattaraugus County Public Health Director Dr. Kevin Watkins said.

Dr. Kevin Watkins is concerned about dispensaries not regulated by New York State either in other states or on Seneca Nation Territory. He also wants to make sure the state has enough staff to enforce these rules.

"Who will enforce that? I didn't see enough teeth in these regulations to say that there will be an enforcement agency that will do enough of these, to do enough research or to do enough investigating in these various communities to make sure that these regulations are followed," Dr. Watkins said.

The packages would be required to have a QR code on them. That would take you to a downloadable certificate of analysis, or link you to a website where it could be downloaded. In it, you'd find a certified report from a cannabis laboratory, a third party that checks on what's actually in the product your buying. So it would be a safety regulation to test the strength of the product and make sure it's what it says it is on the package.

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