Packaging and Labeling Responsibility for Marijuana Items Shifts from the OHA to the OLCC

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On Wednesday, March 7, 2018, the staff at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and industry partners enthusiastically came together to discuss the crafting of sensible rules. The new Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) considered proposed draft rules by the agency’s staff for the packaging and labeling for marijuana items.

During 2017, legislators adopted a number of bills that modified administrative responsibility for the implementation of OLCC’s recreational and the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) medical marijuana programs. Senate Bill 1057 requires that the OLCC adopt rules regarding packaging and labeling of marijuana items. This was previously the responsibility of the OHA. Some of the industry partners included Geoff Sugarman of Groundworks, Christine Smith of Gron Chocolates, and Sally Alworth of Luminous Botanicals.

Discussion on exit packaging and the labeling difficulties of smaller items, such as oil cartridges, once they’re removed from packaging was brought to light. Proposed rules that were tabled during the discussion included definitions that determine what the net weight of a pre-rolled marijuana cigarette and the concept of what constitutes a “serving” or “serving size”. New additions to the rules included a definition for “elixir” and a universal symbol for commodities or products containing industrial hemp.

Once the rules are revised by OLCC staff, they will be posted online and then followed by a public comment period. Interested persons can submit comments or suggestions for the agency to consider in their final rule making. A public hearing will also be scheduled so people can submit their comments in person.

The OLCC also issued a Fiscal Impact Statement Questionnaire to the Packaging and Labeling RAC. Under Oregon state law, an agency must identify the economic impacts caused by rules, not by the actual statute, such as reporting requirements created by rules.

If a rule, “has a significant adverse effect upon small business, to the extent consistent with the public health and safety purpose of the rule, the agency shall reduce the economic impact of the rule on small business by:

(1) Establishing differing compliance or reporting requirements or time tables for small business;

(2) Clarifying, consolidating or simplifying the compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for small business;

(3) Utilizing objective criteria for standards;

(4) Exempting small businesses from any or all requirements of the rule; or

(5) Otherwise establishing less intrusive or less costly alternatives applicable to small business.”

A questionnaire used at the meeting asks, “Will the proposed rule(s) have a significantly adverse fiscal impact on small businesses?” According to industry partners on the RAC, rebranding is not inexpensive and implementation will take more time than initially proposed in the draft rules presented at the meeting. Some marijuana businesses need time to sell down their inventory in current packaging to minimize costs associated with packaging and labeling changes.

More information on the packaging and labeling can be found online at on the OLCC website here. The revised rules will be posted by April 1st.  The public hearing has yet to be determined but is expected to be scheduled by mid April. The OLCC can be reached at 503-872-5000 or toll free at 800-452-6522 for more information regarding the next meeting.

Sunnie Sanchez

Sunnie Sanchez is an OMMP PRMG who developed an unexpected passion for marijuana policy and procedure. She has traveled to countless legislative hearings, OLCC and OHA meetings and industry events for the past few years. She brings an analytical flair to her writing and digs deep into the minutia and important information that the cannabis industry and consumers should care about.

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