Sugary cannabis treats will not be banned in Washington State

Jun 19, 2019

Sugary cannabis edibles will not be banned in Washington State after all.

Fans of both sugar and sativa can breathe a sigh of relief, as the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has retracted their October 2018 decision to ban infused edible candies so long as edible purveyors meet certain packaging requirements.

“Recently concerns have been raised by the Board, stakeholders, and the public regarding infused edible candy. In response, staff reevaluated all approved marijuana-infused candy products to ensure the products align with current and new rules prohibiting products that are especially appealing to children,” Cannabis regulators said in a presentation.

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The new interim policy developed by the Board allows such treats as chocolates, caramels, mints, and even cookies to be infused with cannabis. However, restrictions have been placed on the appearance of both products and packaging. Specifically, the candies can’t appeal to children.

In an interview with iFIBER ONE News, Derek Lybert, the manager of 2020 Solutions, said these new regulations surrounding edibles is a surprisingly welcome one in the cannabis community.

“We’re all really glad for it actually. I don’t expect it to hurt anyone’s bottom line, and I think it will make our products better and protect the entire industry,” Lybbert said.

What brought on the new packaging policies?

In early October 2018, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board issued a policy-decision stating that previously approved marijuana-infused hard candies and gummies would be banned on the grounds that they were “especially appealing to children.”

The Board told all companies that “All production of hard candy, tarts, fruit chews, colorful chocolates, jellies, and any gummy type products should cease,” as these products would no longer receive approval for sale under new regulations that were scheduled to go into effect in 2019.

Prior to the temporary ban on edible candies, the Board had approved cannabis candy such as hard candies of all types—tarts, fruit chews, and a plethora of pot-infused gummy products.

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The policy labeled WAC 314-55-077 states that “A marijuana processor is limited in the types of food or drinks they may infuse with marijuana. Marijuana-infused products that are especially appealing to children are prohibited. Products such as, but not limited to, gummy candies, lollipops, cotton candy, or brightly colored products, are prohibited.”

Licensed retailers would be allowed to sell their existing stock through April of this year until their inventory was completely sold out. “The Seattle Times” reported back in October that the decision might devastate certain businesses.

For example, Diana Isaiou, who owned an edible business at the time of the decision, told the Times that 60 percent of her business came from previously Board-approved fruit chews. With the reversal on the edibles ban, these businesses can begin to blossom.

Craft Elixirs owner Jamie Hoffman told KIRO 7 at the time that getting news of the Board’s decision was incredibly frightening for their business forecasts.

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While Hoffman supported the crackdown on products and packaging that appeals to children, she said that her products and pricey-packaging were in danger of being banned, even though they just had been Board approved.

“I’m hopeful they didn’t make a grievous error and approve something that I went and purchased $35K in packaging for,” Hoffman said. “That they’re going to say, ‘Oh, changed our mind’ in a couple weeks.

If we lose the ability to make these candies, we’ll be out of business. There’s no question about it,” Hoffman concluded.

Currently, cannabis-infused edibles make up approximately 9 percent of the marijuana-types sold in Washington State, according to the Board.

What does the new policy entail?

The Board approved an interim policy which doesn’t ban edible treats outright but does regulate the look of the sweets to lower their curb appeal to children.

Specifically, the policy limits the colors and shapes that edible cannabis manufacturers may use. Members of the Washington CannaBusiness Association are reportedly “very pleased with the results,” according to Executive Director Vicki Christophersen.

“We really found that candy and chocolates marketed toward adults had muted tones … maybe one accent color,” licensing policy and compliance manager of the Board Nicola Reid stated. “Candy marketed toward children had a multitude of colors.”

Edible producers may continue to create tasty cannabis treats for adults but will need to make sure that the candies aren’t too brightly colored or shaped like candies that are meant for children to consume.

(Photo courtesy of vaun0815 via Unsplash)
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