Cannabis Packaging Requirements: New York
New York is one of the most recent states to start the sale of recreational cannabis. As dispensaries begin to open up shop and cannabis brands look to line the shelves, packaging requirements must be understood and adhered to. Let’s take a look at the requirements for cannabis packaging in the state of New York.
The Compassionate Care Act, passed in New York State in 2014, established a medical marijuana program that allows patients with certain specified medical conditions to access cannabis for therapeutic use, under the supervision of a healthcare provider. The Act also created a regulatory framework for the production, dispensing, and use of medical marijuana in the state.
Patients with specified conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, and Parkinson's disease are eligible to participate in the program, and must receive certification from a registered practitioner in order to access medical marijuana.
The state of New York legalized the use of cannabis for adult recreational use through the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act which was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 31, 2021. This bill legalizes the possession and use of up to 3 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and allows for the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants at home.
It also establishes a regulatory framework for the licensing and operation of cannabis dispensaries, and sets rules for the packaging, labeling, and testing of cannabis products. Additionally, the bill also includes provisions for expunging prior cannabis-related criminal records, and for social and economic equity in the cannabis industry.
Although the Act was signed in 2021, New York did not see its first recreational sale until December of 2022.
New York is making sure to do its due diligence when it comes to cannabis packaging. The state has created requirements down to the font size for cannabis operators and brands.
The Office of Cannabis requires all licensed cannabis organizations to maintain a copy of the certificate showing that each retail package they place cannabis or cannabis products in is child-resistant and meets the requirements of the Poison Prevention Packaging Standards and the Testing Procedure for Special Packaging. The Office holds the right to request a copy of this certificate to verify the organization’s compliance with this provision.
New York requires all cannabis retail packages to be child-resistant, tamper evident, and fully enclose the product. The packaging must be made of opaque material to protect the product from light and sealed in a way that prevents potentially damaging contaminants from entering the packaging during storage.
The material of the retail packaging must not pass any toxic or harmful substance to the cannabis product contained within. Packages must be resealable if they contain multiples servings of a product.
When it comes to prohibited packaging requirements the focus is on making cannabis products that do not target those under the age of 21. Packaging cannot use cartoon imagery, bubble or cartoon style fonts, or neon colors that have less than 60% saturation.
Cannabis products are not allowed to mirror the packaging of popular soft drinks, candies, or foods as these are seen as enticing to those under 21. They also cannot contain the words candy or candies or have any kind of variation on the words, i.e. kandy.
Packaging should not display symbols, images, characters, public figures, phrases, toys, or games that are commonly used to market products to individuals under the age of twenty-one. And lastly, images of individuals who could reasonably appear to be under the age of twenty-one are not allowed, unless the individual is at least twenty-five years of age.
New York is looking to do its environmental duty by requiring non plastic materials for the construction of all cannabis packaging. Currently, the state requires that cannabis product packaging cannot be made of any plastic, unless that plastic contains a minimum 25% post-consumer recycled content. All licensed organizations must fulfill this requirement by January 1, 2024 for their packaging to be considered “allowable”.
The Office of Cannabis Management is encouraging all licensed cannabis organizations to choose materials for their product packaging that have a minimal environmental impact. They are looking for licensees to incentivize recyclable product packaging and packaging re-use for their customers. The Office will be using licensees’ annual reporting on packaging materials to help guide future policies related to cannabis product packaging sustainability.
All cannabis packaging is required to have a principal packaging display panel (PPDP). The display panel must contain:
- Milligrams per single serving of total THC, total CBD, and any other marketed phytocannabinoids
- Terpene profile
- Milligrams per package of total THC and total CBD
- Amount of total THC and any other marketed phytocannabinoids as a percentage of volume
- Number of servings in total for the cannabis product and,
- If possible, the recommended serving size
- Weight of the cannabis product
The state has an optional marketing layer for packaging. A marketing layer is the outermost layer of the product’s packaging and is an addition to the standard retail package. The extra layer allows for brands to differentiate themselves and have something other than the child-resistant component be the outermost layer of the product’s packaging. The marketing layer follows the same requirements as the retail packaging and cannot look appealing to those under 21 years of age.
As New York continues to open more cannabis dispensaries, we may see the packaging requirements for the state change. If you are thinking of starting a cannabis brand in the state it is important to stay up to date on all the rules and regulations regarding the New York cannabis industry. Contact S10 Labs today to discuss your state specific packaging needs.