UnknownLately, we have been getting a lot of questions from Oregon cannabis clients up and down the industry about what exactly happens on October 1. The short answer is that on that date, all Oregon Health Authority (OHA) medical program registrants and all Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) licensees packaging pot for ultimate sale to a consumer (or a designated OMMP caregiver) must have OLCC packaging and labeling approval. If your packaging and labeling has not been pre-approved by that date, you will be left holding the bag, quite literally. None of that stuff can be sold.

Going into last weekend, OLCC Packaging and Labeling specialist Jamie Dickinson observed an “unsettling” lack of applications for OLCC pre-approval. As of Friday, September 2, OLCC had received only 54 medical packaging applications and 27 recreational packaging applications. The labeling numbers were also very poor, at 27 and 21. Given the number of registered medical program participants alone, it seems there will be a crush of applicants this week and next. If not, things could get dicey.

The OLCC’s Medical & Recreational Marijuana Packaging and Labeling Guide has been available for a couple of months. You can view the latest version here. The official FAQ page on all of this stuff is here, with some helpful slides over here. And if you are the type to actually read the rules, you can find those here (from OAR 845-025-7000 to 845-025-7060). Note that the cost for packaging preapproval and for labeling preapproval is $100 a pop. In our experience, a well-prepared submission will move through the approval process quickly.

It is important to understand that the packaging and labeling rules do not apply to lab sampling or bulk transfers of product from one licensee to another. As far as packaging, each container: (1) must be child-resistant and not attractive to minors (2) must protect the items it holds; and (3) must not contain false or misleading statements. There are separate considerations for “exit packaging,” which are containers provided at the point of sale. As far as labeling criteria, those are considerably more thorough, and applicants should review the guidelines thoroughly before making their submission.

OHA program participants who have not applied should do so soon, using their OHA registration numbers. Otherwise, approval will not be available until an OLCC license is awarded. Anyone who does not have unique packaging and simply wishes to use something pre-approved and bypass the approval process, can refer to the OLCC Approved Package List. We assume that list will be updated regularly in the coming days and weeks.

As we have written before, compliance is king in state level marijuana programs. These packaging and labeling rules are the most recent compliance deadline faced by our Oregon clients. In this case, the state’s goal is to protect consumers and children, but also to ensure that entrepreneurs have a workable framework in which to peddle their wares. Anyone who wishes to do so on and after October 1 should take this deadline seriously.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Three of our California cannabis lawyers (Tiffany Wu, Alison Malsbury and Hilary Bricken) will be putting on a FREE webinar on September 14, moderated by our lead cannabis corporate lawyer (Robert McVay). This webinar will focus on what you should be doing now to prepare your existing or future cannabis business for California’s soon to be legalized landscape. Go here on Eventbrite to sign up to attend.