Edibles make up 9% of the marijuana market in the state of Washington. However, current efforts to sell products like gummy worms, brightly coloured candies and lollipops has hit a roadblock.
On Oct. 3, the Liquor and Cannabis Board, which regulates sales for Washington State, announced that products that may appeal to children will not be permitted to sell within the state. Some retailers depend on these products, which has led to a lot of backlash due to the sudden announcement.
A webinar on Oct. 16 plans to address concerns and permit appeals by companies that sell these products. The new ruling will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019, with companies who have existing inventory allowed to sell such products until April 2019.
In an interesting move, the ban does not extend to mints or chocolates. Instead, it focuses on candies that come in bright colours and show potential to appeal to those age 14 and under. The ruling specifically mentions “gummy type products,” as well as hard candy, tarts and fruit chews.
The struggle comes with the fact that businesses that produce these products invested significant amounts in machinery for production and packaging, based on the initial approval of these items. The marijuana industry faces a struggle regarding loans and bank interaction, since technically banks are governed by federal law and marijuana remains illegal on a federal level.
The personal investments made by owners of these companies means a potential loss at a significant level if they are forced to stop producing and selling these products because they could appeal to children.
Meanwhile, the ruling comes on the heels of concerns about exposure to the drug without awareness. In Colorado, a pilot was fired after testing positive for marijuana. That individual maintains he consumed candy he got from a friend, unaware that said candy contained marijuana.
The problem and primary concern regarding these products is their appeal to children, as the legislation in the state mentions anything “particularly appealing to children” is not permitted to contain marijuana.
For those who are watching the market closely, the move in Washington could set a precedent. With the potential market growth estimated to be significant in coming years, that potential precedent could spell bad news for the marijuana industry.