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Health Care Justice

Maryland Moving Closer to Final Rules for Cannabis Edibles

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The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission could pass final rules for the sale of edibles in the state next week.

The commission’s policy committee unanimously approved regulations for edibles in Annapolis on Monday. A vote of the full commission is scheduled next week.

The sale of cannabis edibles in Maryland would be tightly regulated, drawing from pieces of law in some of the other 30 states that allow the sale of edible products.

In Maryland, the proposed regulations would require that edibles are sold in plain, opaque packages that are tamper-evident and child-resistant, without cartoons or graphics that appeal to children or resemble trademarks of commercially sold foods. Edibles can only be made into geometric shapes and cannot be made into a shape, design or flavor that is likely to appeal to minors, including animals, fruits or cartoons, according to the proposed regulations.

Several other states including Washington, Colorado and California regulate the shape of edible cannabis products.

When lawmakers passed a bill in April that allowed the sale of edibles – along with other changes to the state’s medical cannabis industry – they required the commission to “ensure the safety of minors” in all regulations relating to the packaging, labeling, marketing and appearance of edible cannabis products.

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has been working on regulations for edible products since June, proposing several rounds of draft regulations and meeting with different groups, including medical cannabis licensees, public health professionals and law enforcement.

“This has been about a six-month process that has led us to where we are today with what I think is the most comprehensive edible cannabis products regulatory framework within the country,” said William C. Tilburg, acting executive director of the commission.

While industry representatives were involved in the regulation drafting process, there were still some lingering concerns presented to the policy committee on Monday.

Tracey Lancaster Miller, from the Maryland Medical Dispensary Association and a co-founder of the Peake ReLeaf dispensary in Rockville, said she was concerned about dosing caps in the regulations, which limit edible products to 10 milligrams of THC per serving and 100 milligrams of THC per package.

A limit on the dosages for edible cannabis products came as a result of advice from regulators in other states, where some have seen a spike in calls to poison control centers when adults or children inadvertently consume edibles with THC, Tilburg said.

It’s not always possible for medical cannabis patients to consume multiple doses because of their conditions and having to buy multiple packages of lower-dose items could become cost prohibitive, she said.

“This is reducing access to our lowest-income patients,” Miller told the committee members.

The law does allow processors to create edibles with higher THC concentrations if they present medical evidence to the commission, but scientific research on dosing is limited because of the federal drug classification for marijuana.

Charles LoDico, a commission member, said he thought the commission was being prudent in keeping lower dosage limits to prevent adverse reactions.

Other provisions in the proposed regulations would require substantial food safety precautions by makers of edible cannabis products, and several warnings about cannabis use required on all packaging.

The commission is adding additional staff to inspect and pre-approve the facilities where edible products would be made.

The full commission meets next Monday in Annapolis.

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Maryland Moving Closer to Final Rules for Cannabis Edibles