Rep. Donovan sponsoring bill to require child-safe packaging for cannabis products
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Susan R. Donovan is sponsoring legislation that would require packaging for all cannabis products sold in Rhode Island to use packaging that is child- and tamper-resistant, and that does employ imagery that typically appeals to children.
The legislation also prohibits such packaging from mimicking the look of non-cannabis products that appeal to children and requires packaging to contain, among other things, a label reminding purchasers to keep the product out of the reach of children.
“Cannabis products must be sold responsibly, in a way that protects children. To the degree that it is possible, packaging should be hard for young children to open. Under no circumstances should we allow cannabis products to be sold in packages that appeal to kids, or worse, lead children to believe the product is something like cookies or candy that they like to eat,” said Representative Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), who is chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Committee. “Having a legal recreational cannabis industry in our state means we can and should use the state’s regulatory power to protect kids from these products.”
The legislation (2023-H 5486) requires cannabis products to be sold in packaging that is certified tamper- or child-resistant and resealable if intended for multiple uses, and in compliance with the poison-prevention packaging regulations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. All packaging would be required to include a label, in all-capitals, that reads KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.
If compliance with tamper or child-resistant packaging is deemed unreasonable for a product, the bill would require it be placed in a plain or opaque exit bag that is capable of being resealed and made tamper- or child-resistant resistant again after it has been opened.
The bill further stipulates that all packaging should not be attractive to minors, and explicitly prohibits packaging from using neon colors, cartoons, images of minors or of celebrities that appeal to children, featuring words or brands commonly associated with or marketed to minors or from imitating or having a resemblance to any existing branded consumer products that do not contain marijuana.
As such products have proliferated and more states including Rhode Island have legalized recreational cannabis use, there has been an increase in the number of children nationwide who have accidentally ingested cannabis products. According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, 3,054 U.S. children under six accidentally consumed cannabis edibles in 2021, almost 15 times as many who did so in 2017, which was 207.
“Cannabis is allowed for adults only, and the packaging needs to be reflective of that fact. Of course it should be child-resistant, and it also should be extremely distinct from packaging of treats that kids want to eat. There’s too much risk in allowing these products to be packaged in ways that make them so appealing and accessible to children,” said Representative Donovan.