The gradual, state-by-state nature of recreational cannabis legalization in the U.S. has given companies a complicated and varied set of rules to work with. Depending on where your business intends to set up shop, you may be dealing with a whole different set of regulations around packaging and distribution than other companies in nearby states.
Whenever a new state becomes an active market for adult-use recreational cannabis, it's worth looking at the slate of rules in that region. These compliance demands are relevant in two main senses: They not only demonstrate what companies will have to do to become active in the state, they may act as markers of trends that lawmakers will latch onto in other states that legalize cannabis sales.
California's Unique Package Laws
California is the latest state to step under the cannabis business microscope, with Massachusetts also moving toward legal sales. Packaging World highlighted a few of the most relevant sections of the cannabis rules in the Golden State, things for manufacturers, distributors and retailers to keep in mind as they get closer to commercial sales.
For example, the packaging on cannabis products can't be designed to look like non-cannabis foods. Furthermore, edible goods must have opaque packages. In addition to these graphic design considerations, the packages for cannabis-infused foods have to be tamper-proof both before and after they've been opened for the first time, to kids from getting into them. Child safety is also the impetus behind a rule that states cannabis product labels can't look like existing kid-focused items.
Sales Gaining Speed
With a few months passing since recreational cannabis became a reality in California, it's worth checking in on how the market is doing. According to Forbes, the story so far has been defined by alternating bottlenecks and progress. Many towns and cities around the state have prevented distributors from operating within their borders, at least thus far.
Uncooperative local governments haven't managed to stop the industry, however. State data on sales tax earnings acts as a barometer for the recreational cannabis sector, and demonstrates 36 percent growth from the first quarter of 2018 to the second. The next challenge for the state appears to be clearing a backlog of new dispensary permit applications to let supply catch up with demand. Other states that have legalized cannabis – Colorado foremost among them – have many more retailers per capita, according to Forbes.
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