Has the state of California found anything they love to regulate more than Cannabis? I don’t think that they have. According to CA Norml, there have been more than 30 cannabis related bills moving their way through our state legislature in 2023 alone. Some good, some bad, and some just downright stupid. Which brings me to Assembly Bill 1207, which was brought to us by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks)
AB 1207 seeks to expand on the cannabis packaging restrictions that passed in Prop 64 which simply prohibit the sale or manufacture of products or packaging that are “attractive to children”. That’s largely been interpreted to mean no cartoon characters, no animals shaped gummies, and no look-a-likes to existing products kids predominately pester their parents to buy.
Assemblywoman Irwin, however, cites an increase in juvenile marijuana use and blames cannabis packaging for it saying, “These exposures are heavily influenced by the use of features on cannabis product packaging that are explicitly attractive to children. Children who unintentionally consume cannabis consistently require poison control treatment, and in many cases, they can also expose their fellow elementary and middle school peers to cannabis.”
To resolve Ms. Irwin’s concerns, AB 1207 would more specifically define “attractive to children” to include the following:
- Use of images that are attractive to children, including, but not limited to, images of any of the following, except as part of required health warnings:
- Cartoons, toys, robots
- Any real or fictional humans.
- Any fictional animal or creatures.
- Fruits or vegetables, except when used to accurately describe ingredients or flavors contained in a product.
- Any likeness to images, characters, or phrases that are popularly used to advertise to children.
- Any imitation of candy packaging or labeling, or other packaging and labeling of cereals, sweets, chips, or other food products typically marketed to children.
- The terms “candy” or “candies” or any variants in spelling such as “kandy” or “kandee.”
- Any other image or packaging that is easily confused with commercially available foods that do not contain cannabis and are typically marketed to children.
- Any inhaled or combustion-based products would be banned from containing any natural or synthetic flavors or from using any descriptors of flavors.
- It would prohibit any smokeable product from containing any natural, artificial, or synthetic flavoring, which is similar to the laws in place for tobacco products.
- Anything else that the department determines in regulation to be attractive to children.
- Anything else that is attractive to children in life of all relevant facts and circumstances.
So how frustrated am I to read this? Very. Not because I’m in the business of branding, marketing, or even selling the products this bill is targeting. But rather because all of this over-regulation and re-regulation and regulating again is really just getting … exhausting.
Some things I note:
- Unintentional Consumption – While there are no absolutes, the unintentional consumption of marijuana is such an incredibly rare occurrence that could easily be avoided with proper parental oversight of the cannabis product. I think a bigger concern is unsupervised consumption and that would be more the result of access than packaging.
- The specific restrictions are far too broad, and some seem a little arbitrary. Like you can use pictures of real animals, but not real people. And you can’t use the word candy even if your product is in fact a candy. All because a kid might raise an eyebrow to it. What happened to parental responsibility?
- My opposition to the flavor restrictions simply carries over from the tobacco laws. a) adults like flavors too, and b) until they start going after Lemonade flavored wine coolers (for example) I really don’t want to hear how a Bubblegum vape cartridge is going to be the death of children everywhere.
- The open-endedness defined by “anything else” is short for “everything we’ve listed above and anything we haven’t thought of yet” which means the DCC, and potentially its personnel, can continue to change the rules on cannabis businesses at anytime now and into the future on a whim, as they see fit, and without any further input from the legislature. That should never be allowed. The rules need to be clearly defined with specific and unpliable boundaries.
According to a Capitol staffer who was only identified by their first name, legislators are either supporting it or abstaining and all because “they don’t want kids doing it.” If that’s seriously how the state of California is legislating itself, we’re in BIG trouble.
This article was inspired by information found in the following sources: