Pot-Packaging Rules Advance in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – With California retailers slated to begin selling legal marijuana in less than six months, a state Republican is seeking strict safeguards that would prevent retailers from marketing pot to kids.

While the state scrambles to implement regulatory framework for legal pot in the nation’s most populous state, Senate Bill 663 would bar retailers from packaging products in transparent material or colorful designs that could be attractive to minors.

Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen says his proposal is aimed at protecting children from accidentally ingesting marijuana once legal pot sales go live in January 2018. He hopes the bill will prevent the “alarming increase” of marijuana exposures in young children that Colorado experienced after legalizing pot in 2014.

“Young children are susceptible to commercials and advertisements, especially those with cartoon characters,” Nielsen said in a statement. “Marijuana has detrimental effects on children, especially toddlers who are most at risk to its exposure with edibles like brownies, cookies and candies.”

Under SB 663, marijuana products would not be allowed to mimic cartoons, slogans or the names of popular fictional characters or shows. The Department of Consumer Affairs would be tasked with regulating the child-resistant marijuana packaging laws.

The measure cleared the Assembly Business and Professions Committee unanimously on Tuesday and will be taken up by the Assembly floor.

Nielsen’s proposal is one of many marijuana-related bills pending in the Legislature. Other measures include a ban on products resembling the shapes of fruit, insects or animals, trademark guidelines and a requirement that manufacturers get their packaging and labels cleared by regulators before bringing products to market.

Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a host of measures that create guidelines for marijuana intoxication and to develop technology for law enforcement to test drivers suspected of being under the influence of pot. Legal pot must also be carried in a sealed, unopened container or locked in the trunk, just like alcohol.

California voters legalized marijuana in 2016, and experts predict the industry will attract billions in additional revenue. A recent study by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis pegged California’s recreational market at $5 billion annually.

Legal marijuana will be taxed an additional 15 percent on top of the state’s 8.8 percent sales tax and will likely bring in hundreds of millions in additional tax revenues, experts predict.


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