In a move straight out of the 1984 classic “Repo Man,” Washington regulators are making marijuana edibles really, really boring.

Earlier this year, we wrote about the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s (WSLCB) decision to effectively ban marijuana-infused candy. The industry pushed back and the WSLCB reevaluated its stance. December 12, the WSLCB issued a new interim policy to “further clarify the procedures and processes for packaging, labeling, and product decisions for marijuana infused edible products.” It lists the following requirements that apply to all marijuana infused edible products and their package and labeling:

  • Only colors and shapes from an approved list on the WSLCB website can be used.
  • A white or cream background with brown or black lettering and up to three accent colors from the approved color list will be provided on the WSLCB website.
  • A percentage or gradient of an approved color counts as one color.
  • A grey or black background with brown or white lettering and up to three accent colors from the approved color list will be provided on the WSLCB website. A percentage or gradient of an approved color counts as one color.
  • A tan or brown background with black or white lettering and up to three accent colors from the approved color list provided on the WSLCB website. A percentage or gradient of an approved color counts as one color.
  • A full color photo or photo in the chosen accent color of the product is allowed.
  • Packaging with a clear window is permitted. Company logos are permitted. Examples of allowable logo displays are available on the WSLCB website.
Exciting stuff. . .

The public can request to add approved color or shapes by submitting a request to labelapproval@LCB.wa.gov. The WSLCB will consider requests on a quarterly basis starting in March 2019. The WSLCB will also further limit the use of marijuana leaves on packaging, prohibiting cartoon leaves as well as marijuana leaves that resemble other brands.

According to a webinar provided by the WSLCB, it’s possible that licensees won’t be required to comply with this interim policy until January 2020. This new policy is going to seriously impact producers and processors, as many companies will have to completely revamp their entire product lines. Though the WSLCB may have good intentions, this additional prohibition comes on the heels of an already massive labeling overhaul and a policy prohibiting any infused-beverage resembling alcohol.

We expect that brands will also have trouble differentiating themselves using only 16 approved colors. Fun stuff.