Kosa K, Cates S, Capogrossi K, Rains C. Labeling of edible marijuana products needs improvements. Poster presented at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting & Expo; November 5, 2017. Atlanta, GA.

BACKGROUND: Currently, four states have legalized recreational marijuana use. Each state has formally adopted or is in the process of developing labeling requirements to ensure safe handling and consumption of edible marijuana. No studies have been conducted to assess consumer response to labeling requirements of edibles.

METHODS: We conducted 12 consumer focus groups in Denver and Seattle. In each location, two groups were conducted with each of the following subpopulations: non-users, experimenters, and users of edibles to (1) characterize consumer understanding of current product labeling requirements and (2) identify any revisions to product labels to ensure safe consumption.

Some focus group participants look for and read specific information, such as the potency profile and serving size statement, but do not read other labeling features. The focus groups revealed that participants have some concerns about the current labeling of edibles. In particular, participants were concerned that there is too much information on the labels, there is no obvious indication that the product contains marijuana (e.g., a Universal Symbol), and the information on consumption advice is not clear. Participants in both locations suggested that education in a variety of formats, such as web- and video-based education, would be useful in informing consumers about the possible risks of edibles. Participants provided several other suggestions on how labels could be changed or improved to be more useful to consumers of edibles.

CONCLUSION: As more states legalize marijuana use, it is important for public health that edibles are properly labeled. States that are currently or planning to legalize recreational marijuana can use the study findings to inform development of labeling regulations. Improvements in the labeling of edibles may advance public health by preventing the accidental ingestion of edibles and helping ensure safe dosage and consumption among consumers of edibles.

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