Marijuana-infused products are exploding in popularity. In fact, financial experts say that edibles alone have a 43 percent share in the total cannabis market. People are trying weed in different forms, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that more and more prefer eating it. Despite this, California lawmakers intend to ban certain edibles and tighten regulations significantly. Why?
Children are eating them accidentally and emergency room visits are skyrocketing because of it. When marijuana edibles resemble typical candy, unsuspecting people unknowingly devour them, most notably kids already familiar with candy shaped like fruit, insects, animals, or people. Lawmakers want to ensure that cannabis edibles are unmistakably obvious in an attempt to eliminate future accidents.
Legalization of Marijuana in California
Back in 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. This made marijuana legal in California for medical patients to treat themselves. It allowed them to cultivate their own for medicinal purposes, and those that preferred not to grow their own plants could access cannabis from local collaborative efforts, such as co-ops, collectives, and marijuana dispensaries.
Although this gave medical patients freedom to use cannabis, it was still illegal recreationally. Patients could not sell or give any of their harvest to others. They could only use it themselves or supply other patients within the same collective. Regulations were strict in those early days and are even stricter now. Since approving Proposition 64 in 2016, recreational cannabis is now legal in California.
The effort to legalize and regulate medical marijuana in California has been raging for two decades now. With the recent legalization of recreational cannabis, lawmakers are writing bills in overdrive to further regulate and control both sectors of the industry for commercial and private use. Although legal, investment remains slow in an ever-changing and confusing regulatory environment.
Marijuana Edibles Explained
Eating cannabis is far healthier than smoking it is. For health conscious people, edibles provide the perfect solution. Medicinally, ingesting marijuana is significantly more effective than inhaling it is, which is just another reason for its popularity among patients. Edibles are a rapidly growing segment of the legal marijuana industry, but because the legal market begins officially only in 2018, sales data is weak.
Data from other states can provide some insight. In Washington alone, the edible cannabis market grew 121 percent in a single year. Across the United States, legal marijuana was worth a whopping $5.4 billion by 2015. Detailed analysis shows that cannabis edibles and other marijuana-infused products are responsible for at least half of this worth.
For the majority of medical patients, marijuana edibles are preferable to other forms of ingestion. Although it does take longer to feel the effects of edibles, the sensation is worth the wait, as it lasts longer and works better. For those suffering chronic medical conditions, such as severe pain, PTSD, or other terrible ailments, eating marijuana is notably more effective than smoking it.
Reason for Assembly Bill 350
The recently passed Assembly Bill 350, introduced by Assembly Member Salas, will completely change the marijuana edibles market. Included in the ballot measure for Proposition 64 in November 2016, the Bill seeks to strengthen regulatory control of edibles and ensure that it complies with Proposition 64, which specifically prohibits any marijuana products from being mistaken for normal foods and candies.
Cannabis products should not be confusing. They should not appeal to children either in the guise of typical candy. In fact, they should be completely distinct in color, shape, texture, and packaging. The goal of Assembly Bill 350 is to reduce the likelihood of children and non-using adults mistaking these products for ordinary candy and ending up the emergency room.
Lawmakers intend to tighten regulations to prevent accidental consumption of cannabis edibles. To do this, companies will need to comply with packaging and product safety regulations. There will be no more cannabis Gummy Bears in California. In future, edibles will not resemble children’s favorite candies or otherwise use marketing tactics that may appeal to them.
The Senate passed a similar law in February. Senate Bill 663 bans packaging from featuring any cartoon characters. It further bans any resemblance of marijuana edibles to candy, baked goods, snack foods, or beverages currently sold commercially without cannabis. Obviously, this will affect the edibles market dramatically. Companies will need to ensure that cannabis edibles do not look like ordinary food.
This is a sad day for lovers of marijuana edibles. However, edibles themselves are still legal, just not the current form they come in. Intrepid entrepreneurs will surely find new ways to provide patients with the ingestible benefits of cannabis. Until new edible products enter the market, patients can consume cannabis without smoking in other forms of concentrated marijuana in California.