Earlier this summer, the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) released draft regulations for public comment pertaining to the marketing, packaging and labeling of adult-use cannabis. These regulations contain guidelines for advertising adult-use cannabis, including limitations on signage for retail dispensaries and sustainability requirements for packaging.
Packaging & Labeling
The draft regulations require specific detailed information to be included on the labels of adult-use cannabis products, including but not limited to:
- Quantity of THC
- List of active ingredients
- Number of servings
- Mandatory warnings (advising the product contains THC, health hazards, and child safety warnings)
- Expiration and use-by dates
- Universal symbols for cannabis
- A scannable QR code
Detailed minimum standards for tamper-proof and child-proof packaging are also included in the draft regulations. Further, product labels cannot include content or images attractive to people under age 21, like bright colors, imitation food, cartoons or commercial mascots. Additionally, any reference to the terms “craft” or “organic” will be prohibited on labeling for adult-use cannabis products.
Sustainability Planning & Reporting Requirements
Adult-use cannabis license holders must develop and implement an environmental sustainability program for packaging, as applicable. The environmental sustainability program should detail how the licensee will attempt to reuse packaging and use compostable or recyclable material instead of plastic. Adult-use licensees that package products for retail sale will be required to submit annual metrics reports for their business to the Office of Cannabis Management that detail the total amount of packaging material sold and the cost of that material.
Marketing & Advertising
Signage for retail dispensaries will be limited to two outdoor signs per business. These signs must be affixed to a building or other permanent structure and comply with numerous restrictions related to location, content and size. Billboard-type signs will be prohibited. Several examples of the signage restrictions are as follows:
- Must not be within 500 feet of a school, playground, park, library, recreation center or daycare
- Content must be limited to the name, location, and type of cannabis business
- Signs must not depict cannabis, cannabis products or images of the action of smoking
- Signs must be a maximum of 1,600 square inches in size
- Prohibition of:
- Images attractive to youth
- Commercial mascots
- Price reductions, discounts, or pricing information
- Colloquial references to cannabis
- References to “organic” product
Advertising of cannabis products or a cannabis business at stadiums, malls, fairs or arenas will be prohibited unless the sign is located at an adult-only facility. Additionally, a licensee can only sponsor a charitable or sporting event if 90% of the audience is reasonably expected to be over 21 years of age.
It is important to note that these draft signage requirements will be applied in addition to existing local zoning and sign regulations that apply to commercial signage within the municipality where the cannabis business is located. Therefore, applicants designing a cannabis facility should review both the State regulations and local codes for a complete understanding of the outdoor signage requirements, as well as the applicable municipal permitting process for signs.
Further clarification and possible modifications to the requirements enumerated above is expected as the public comment period closes and final regulations are adopted. Compliance with the packaging, labeling, advertising, and sustainability regulations must be demonstrated in businesses’ New York State adult-use cannabis license application materials, as well as municipal applications for local permitting and approvals. Cuddy & Feder’s cannabis law attorneys have a wide range of experience with complex permitting and and can assist adult-use cannabis license applicants with all aspects of the business planning, real estate and licensing process.