Twirling Hippy Confections owner Jessica LeRoux says a Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division inspector with the state has been telling shops that her packaging doesn't meet state regulations, writing up at least one for a violation. But LeRoux says he's misinformed and mistakes like his could cost business owners like her money by scaring off future purchasers.
During the last legislative session, state representative Cindy Acree sponsored a bill that would have eliminated edibles altogether. When the medical marijuana community rallied against the measure, Acree changed her stance, as well as the language of HB 1250, saying that her intent all along was simply to keep THC-infused candies and treats out of the hands of children.
Under the new wording, edibles themselves are safe, but packaging is required to be "designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children... to open." If not, the packaging must be labeled "MEDICINAL PRODUCT -- Keep out of Reach of Children." Most edible manufacturers were already doing both of those things in order to comply with requirements in HB 1284, the medical marijuana code that had already passed the legislature.
But according to LeRoux, at least one MMED inspector has been telling her clients that Twirling Hippy packaging doesn't meet the requirements of the law because the packaging was not opaque. The shop wasn't fined, nor were the edibles taken, but the owners were written up for what the inspector saw as a violation.
The move baffles LeRoux, who notes that nothing in either HB 1284 or 1250 has required such packaging, nor have the rules been promulgated yet. She also points out that her packaging is not only tamper-proof, but includes easy-to-read warning labels.
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"My concern was that this stance by enforcement agents frightened my client off of ordering more product until they could be certain that my tamper-proof and compostable package was compliant," she says. "While I told them what HB1250 says, they were worried until I sent them a forwarded email from [MMED spokeswoman] Julie Postlethwait saying so. Postlethwait says the division has not yet tracked down the inspector; she says they will continue to look into the matter.
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LeRoux isn't resting easy. She thinks the MMED should publish a checklist that inspectors have to follow, to avoid such incidents in the future. The MMED currently has its rules posted online, but there are no published guidelines for inspectors to follow.
"An agent carries more authority than I do when it comes to information about my product," she says, "even though I clearly know the law better than they do. I feel I have to take a proactive stance and educate the MMCs on the precise letter of the law, because as a small business owner, I cannot sit by and allow misinformation to continue to circulate in a way that may have a detrimental effect on my ability to sell my product -- which I have invested quite a bit of time and money into making über-compliant."
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