UCSF Says Marijuana Businesses Can Learn from Mistakes of Tobacco

While many politicians and other leaders continue to wring their hands, hemming and hawing ad nauseum over the best way to regulate the growing marijuana businessnumber of marijuana businesses, University of California San Francisco says the answer is right under our noses.

According to a study by the university published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, regulators need look no further than the tobacco industry for inspiration to create best practices for adult-use marijuana. By using what the tobacco industry has learned by trial and error over the years, the marijuana industry can avoid early mistakes and take a proactive approach.

Examples in the study include implementing clear labeling with conspicuous warning labels, avoiding marketing that appeals to minors, and restricting product potency.While our Riverside marijuana business lawyers know there is much to be learned from the tobacco industry, we also know cannabis does not have the same health risks as tobacco, no matter how many officials want to skew the facts. The World Health Organization released a study in 1995 claiming that even with increased use, marijuana would not have the same negative health effects of tobacco or even alcohol, each of which can cause deadly diseases with repeated use. No such findings have been connected to marijuana. And a 1999 study by the National Academy of Sciences showed only 9 percent of marijuana users developed a dependency on the drug versus a whopping 32 percent of tobacco users (even more than heroin users in the study).

Therefore, labeling and marketing akin to tobacco would not only be sufficient, but would go above and beyond. Tobacco also does not have the health benefits of marijuana, though those properties would fall under medical marijuana guidelines rather than recreational.

UCSF analyzed edibles, concentrates, tinctures, and other products in comparison to tobacco control. Other recommendations from the study in regards to packaging include graphic warnings with rotating messages to deter minors and educate adults, reducing or eliminating logos or branding, avoiding packaging that mimics non-marijuana products (candies, cookies, etc…). For the cannabis products themselves, the study recommends not adding flavors to nonedible marijuana products, examining potential health risks of certain formulations and prohibiting high-risk products, and banning additives that would encourage addictiveness.

One of the paper’s authors addressed the current six-point warning labels for marijuana products. He encouraged a more overt approach, stating that the current labels are hard to read and could lead to trouble for the industry down the road. He also said public health needs to be considered first and foremost.

In the meantime, while regulations and rules evolve and settle, marijuana businesses can derive their own inspiration from these studies and previous regulated industries. By studying these industries and looking at history, businesses can begin to prepare themselves for regulations and best practices that could become mandatory down the road. Our experienced lawyers offer business consultations on how to set up your business with consideration for things like branding and legal compliance. We also will be there to help your business continue to thrive as the industry and laws continue to change.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients, defendants, workers and those facing criminal marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.

Additional Resources:

What Science Says About Marijuana, July 30, 2014, By Philip M. Boffey, New York Times

More Blog Entries:

CDC: Death from Marijuana Cookie Prompts Need for Warning Labels, July 24, 2015, Cannabis Law Group



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