New Colorado rules increase marijuana product safety through testing, labeling and packaging requirements

DENVER, Colo. Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 — Effective Jan. 1, 2018, Colorado will begin implementing the new permanent medical and retail marijuana rules promulgated in response to statutory mandates established in the 2017 legislative session. The adoption of these new rules is a continued effort to focus on and to protect public health and safety. 

“These rules help to ensure that all marijuana that comes into the market is not contaminated, accurately labeled and stays out of the hands of children,” said Mike Hartman, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR). “Additionally, these new licenses offer opportunities for research and development in this industry, so collectively, the state and the industry can maintain the emphasis on public health and safety.” 

Some highlights of the Jan. 1, 2018 rules include changes in requirements for packaging, labeling and testing to increase product safety. Specifically, new rules addressing labeling and packaging aim to keep marijuana out of the hands of children by ensuring that 1) no packaging containing marijuana is made to appeal to minors or 2) no marijuana is contained in packages easily opened by minors. Additionally, new labeling requirements aim to reduce the ‘white noise’ effect by requiring the display of information that is most critical to public health and safety of consumers.

In an ongoing effort to ensure all marijuana, marijuana concentrate and marijuana product is safe to consume, these rules increase the frequency of required ongoing contaminant testing for licensees that are process validated, meaning the marijuana establishment hasn’t changed its manufacturing processes since previously validated by CDOR’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED).

These rules also establish two new licensees for purposes of supporting industry research and development as outlined in HB17-1367. These new licenses are as follows 1) Marijuana Research and Development Facilities and 2) Marijuana Research and Development Cultivations. To continue supporting a closed loop system, all medical and retail marijuana, concentrate and product to be transferred to research and development licensees must be tracked in the state’s inventory tracking system.

“Our guiding principles are to make rules that are always transparent, systematic, operable, grounded in law and defensible, so that licensees can efficiently comply with consistency,” said Jim Burack, director of MED. “Licensees and industry stakeholders have been thoroughly and actively engaged in the legislative and rulemaking process, and we incorporated stakeholder feedback wherever we could.” 

As the effective date of these rules approaches, MED will issue an industry bulletin and compliance tips to assist licensees in their efforts to successfully comply with all new rules.

These new rules are a result of statutory mandates from the General Assembly, and subsequent collaboration between CDOR and its MED, the Department of Public Health and Environment, the Department of Agriculture, and various stakeholders, including public health officials, public safety and children’s health advocates, law enforcement and members of the marijuana industry.