A Nevada bill that would make all marijuana “candy” illegal is not going down smoothly with some industry leaders.

Nevada law already requires all marijuana products to be packaged in a way that is not appealing to children, but Senate Bill 344 take that mandate a step further.

The bill would make it illegal for edible marijuana products to contain sugar unless they are baked goods and to be labeled with images of cartoon characters, mascots, action figures, balloons, fruits or toys. Products also would not be able to be modeled after a brand of products primarily consumed by children, such as gummy bears or Teddy Grahams.

“This bill is just the start,” said nonpartisan Sen. Patricia Farley, of Las Vegas, who has been working with industry leaders on the bill.

Farley, who is currently making amendments to the bill, wants to eliminate all products that contain sugar and also make it illegal to make such products in primary colors that might appeal to youth.

“We have to draw a little bit stricter of a line in the sand,” Farley said while introducing the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

The committee will go over the bill in a work session on April 12.

CLOSE

Skip in

Since Nevada legalized recreational marijuana, anyone 21 and over can possess up to 1 ounce in-state. How many people actually could look at an ounce and identify it, though? We’re here to help educate you.
Jenny Kane/RGJ

Under the bill, marijuana products, particularly edibles that are known to have potent and long-lasting psychoactive side effects, would have to be labeled to indicate how much THC is in the product. Additionally, foods such as brownies and cookies would have to be contained in opaque packaging.

“People are still able to do gummy bears, suckers and candy that looks like fruit,” said Farley, who is the mother of two children, ages 7 and 11.

While Farley supported marijuana legalization, she also believes in education to ensure that marijuana consumption is a choice made after the age of 21.

“We don’t have this kind of stuff in my home, but (my children) might go to someone else’s home and find something like this,” Farley said. “Our society has spent 50 years trying to educate people about the effects of alcohol and tobacco, but if we make (marijuana) appealing to children, we’re telling them it’s ok.”

Joe Pollock, deputy administrator for the Nevada Department of Health, said that the department would like to see all edibles included in the mandate for opaque packaging, not just cookies and brownies.

He also wanted to see a 25 milligram THC limit for individual doses of marijuana edibles, considering that first-timers are recommended to start with about 10 milligrams or so.

The bill would introduce dosage limits for individual servings in an effort to prevent consumers from getting more than they bargained for out of a bite-sized portion of an edible, but not as low as some were hoping for. While different products would have different limits, most products would contain no more than 400 milligrams of THC.

“This is another way to make sure that Nevada leads the nation in its marijuana practices,” said Farley, who has looked at model laws in other states such as Oregon, Colorado and Washington.

Nevada Dispensary Association Executive Director Riana Durett said that many of the dispensaries already have implemented the measures in the bill. She added, however, that the association would like to “work on the definition of candy” since it is such a wide-sweeping term.

Both Democrats and Republicans seemed to agree on the merits of the bill, some asking that it be taken a bit further.

“I think that you’re setting a standard that would protect our children,” said Sen. Becky Harris, R-Las Vegas.

Several senators were upset by the opposition from industry leaders, some of whom felt that the bill went too far barring companies from using cartoons and candy-like shapes.

“Some of these statements being made today are disgusting. This is about greed over child safety. You’re not helping your case with members of this body by continuing to object that you believe this bill is too broad,” said Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas.

Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, agreed and said that he was disappointed in the opposition to the bill from those who manufacture marijuana edibles.

“I remember when I was a kid you could go to the grocery store and buy candy cigarettes, you’d put them in your mouth and blow cigarette smoke, but it was candy. It was to get me ready to buy real cigarettes, I would hope to hear that the industry is cognizant of the fact that we want to protect our children from that type of advertisement,” Ford said.

Opponents of the bill asked for a variety of changes: some wanting more regulation included, some wanting less.

Wendy Stolyarov, legislative director for the Libertarian Party in Nevada, said that it was too broad and that the government should not be restricting companies from using characters, colors and the like.

Cindy Brown, a medical marijuana advocate, said that many alcohol and gambling establishments use cartoons and mascots, so why can’t marijuana manufacturers?

“Let us have the mascots. What happened to personal responsibility of parents? We keep trying to over-regulate people,” she said. “What about children with cancer? We shouldn’t have to give them something yucky looking. Give them something pretty that they like. Really, really you guys.”

Several community members asked that it be expanded so that every marijuana product be marked with a warning label and an additional stamp on the food item itself. In October, Colorado began requiring edible marijuana products to be branded with a THC stamp. Colorado law also states that not even the words “candy” or “candies” can be included on marijuana packaging unless it’s part of the business name.

The issue with the stamp, Farley said, is that the state would need to conduct a public awareness campaign about the stamp. Nevada does not have the funds for such a campaign, she said.

“If we put a leaf on it, but they don’t know what it means, what good is it?” she said.

Julie Montero, a registered pediatric and ER nurse out of Las Vegas, said that she supported the bill and hoped legislators considered applying the same principles to other substances.

“I would like us to go across the board for pharmaceuticals,” said Montero.

Read or Share this story: http://on.rgj.com/2oMOdqy