Friday, May 15, 2015

WA Attorney General asks Liquor Control Board to ban flavored marijuana products

Last December, the Prevention WINS coalition sent a letter to the WA Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) reiterating our advice included in a June 2013 letter to ban marijuana products that are fruit and candy flavored. Our December 2014 letter said:

To treat marijuana as a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue, public health research on other products that are harmful to minors should be heeded.  Public health experts have found that fruit-flavored alcohol and tobacco products are popular among underage users.  

Fruit-flavored alcohol products are marketed to and popular among youth. 

Fruit and candy flavored cigarettes are banned by the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Control Act.

Public health officials recently recommended that the Food and Drug Administration prohibit flavors in all tobacco products, not just cigarettes.   They cite “scientific evidence on flavored tobacco and its relationship with initiation and maintenance of tobacco use among youth and young adults.”  

To avoid similar public health problems associated with sweet-flavored marijuana products, Washington has the unique opportunity to protect child and adolescent health by strictly regulating marijuana before the industry is fully formed.  It will be much more difficult to do so in the future, as is evident by current public health efforts to more tightly regulate tobacco and alcohol products that have been legal for a long time.  

On May 6, the WA Attorney General's Office sent a letter to the WSLCB reiterating their similar comments. They referred to comments they, too, made in December that included:

Congress banned most flavored cigarettes -- an obviously non-edible product -- precisely because research showed that these products were especially appealing to children. The issue paper also refers to emerging research regarding youth-appealing flavored electronic cigarettes -- another non-edible category of product. 

As we understand it, WAC 314-55-077 empowers the WSLCB to prohibit only marijuana-infused products that are especially appealing to children. Because flavored usable marijuana and flavored marijuana concentrates are potentially especially appealing to children, these categories of products likewise should be subject to the WSLCB's authority under WAC 314-55-077.