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Consumer use and understanding of labeling information on edible marijuana products sold for recreational use in the states of Colorado and Washington.

Participants reported serving size information, consumption advice, and the extraction process to be confusing on the package labeling.

Kosa KM, Giombi KC, Rains CB, Cates SC

International Journal of Drug Policy 2017;43:57-66

Edible marijuana products (edibles) are available as baked goods, candies, gummies, chocolates, lozenges and liquid forms. Marijuana extract is put in the edibles at varying concentrations. They are a highly popular form of ingesting marijuana. These delivery methods have brought about some apprehensions over accidental ingestion by children, delayed activation time, and unknown amounts of marijuana extract per serving.

Colorado and Washington states have developed specific labeling requirements for edible products. This research was to identify if adults in Colorado and Washington understood current labeling requirements and develop suggestions for revisions to labeling. The researchers held 12 focus groups including people who preferred edibles to other forms of marijuana and used them in the past 2 months, those with less frequent use and people who were nonusers but had at least 1 child in the home.

Participants reported serving size information, consumption advice, and the extraction process to be confusing on the package labeling. In addition, it was felt there was too much information on the label. While the product labels contain a Universal Symbol to indicate the item contains marijuana, many felt this was not clear about the contents. This was most concerning for children or elderly who might not be familiar with marijuana products and it does not clearly indicate marijuana as a content. In addition, labeling that appeals to children is also concerning. Another area of apprehension is the information about consumption advice, indicating that effect of consumption could be delayed up to 2 hours or more. The advice for revision of the label would be to highlight this or use larger font to emphasize this advice. Other participants were unaware of the extraction processes and were worried about toxic effects.

The results of this study emphasize the potential difficulties in reading and understanding the labeling for marijuana edibles. Labeling rules and requirements differ from state to state. It is important to be familiar with serving size information presented on the label to ensure safe consumption. This illustrates that further work needs to occur to have more consistent and clear labeling for marijuana edibles.