Why We Need to Regulate and Consistently Label Cannabis Products

With the legalization of cannabis gaining traction in many parts of the world, concerns regarding public health and safety have gained increasing attention. The rising popularity of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes has sparked a need for consistent standards to ensure that its consumption is safe, controlled, and labeled clearly and concisely.

In response to this growing necessity, the organization Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) has emerged as a driving force advocating for responsible practices and policies within the cannabis industry. One of their many efforts culminated in the creation of a universal symbol for cannabis.

Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR)

DFCR is a collective of physicians and other healthcare professionals who firmly believe that evidence-based regulation is essential for maximizing the potential benefits of cannabis while minimizing the associated risks. The organization brings together experts from various medical disciplines who are committed to promoting and establishing public health and safety within the rapidly expanding cannabis industry.

By championing comprehensive and science-driven regulations, DFCR aims to bridge the gap between medical science and policy-making, ensuring that the benefits of cannabis are harnessed safely and effectively.

Why Do We Need Standards and Regulations?

While the legalization of cannabis has its benefits, it also presents potential risks and challenges. With a lack of standardized regulations, there is a need for guidelines that ensure consumer safety and quality control regardless of what state you’re operating in.

Let’s take a look at a few topics the DFCR helps address to keep both cannabis businesses and consumers safe.

Quality Control

One of the most significant benefits of unified regulation in the cannabis industry is ensuring the quality and safety of products containing cannabinoids. Without universally applied standard operating procedures (SOPs) and testing protocols, there is a risk of contaminated or substandard products being sold from dispensaries.

These processes would involve testing cannabis products for pesticides, heavy metals, and microorganisms to ensure that they meet strict safety standards. This bolsters faith in the industry from lawmakers and our communities, promoting legalization. It also helps future-proof cannabis businesses.

Age Restrictions and Access Control

Just as with alcohol and tobacco, there should be strict regulations in place to prevent minors from accessing and purchasing cannabis. For example, these rules can help ensure minors don’t have access to locations such as dispensaries. This can help protect minors from developing cognitive issues and minimize the risk of addiction at an early age.

Regulators will also need to craft rules surrounding how the dispensary or manufacturing facility stores its products, oils, and raw materials. Many states have these rules in place, requiring a high level of security throughout the facility. For instance, Ohio law states:

The dispensary department, restricted access areas and stock of medical marijuana must each be secured by a physical barrier with suitable locks and an electronic barrier to detect entry at a time when licensed dispensary employees are not present.”

“https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-administrative-code/rule-3796:6-3-07”, September 8, 2017, retrieved August 30, 2023

This both helps prevent any chance a minor could gain access and additionally deters theft.

Preventing Unauthorized and Illegal Activity

Another significant reason for states to encourage regulations on the cannabis industry is to prevent unauthorized and illegal activities. This includes the sale of cannabis products on the black market, unlicensed cultivation, and diversion to states or countries where it is still illegal.

Ubiquitous and concise rules can establish a framework that ensures proper licensing, taxation, and tracking of cannabis products. This also helps combat illegal activity and makes sure that the cannabis industry develops goodwill with both consumers and legislators.

Research and Education

Promoting research and education in the cannabis industry is important to help our legislative branch make fact-based decisions. This research is further made possible when regulations are in place that allow scientists to conduct studies on the medical benefits and potential risks of cannabis. These studies allow for evidence-based policymaking rather than policy founded on taboo or historical assumptions.

Research activities also pave the way to developing educational initiatives to allow healthcare professionals to make informed decisions about the responsible use of cannabis and its potential interactions with medications.

Standardization of Dosing and Labeling

An important goal of the Doctors for Cannabis Regulation is to facilitate the standardizing of the dosing and labeling of cannabis products. Many consumers are inexperienced with cannabis and may not be aware of the correct dosages or proper usage. This lack of standardization and consistent product labels can lead to customers experiencing unpredictable effects and adverse reactions.

Encouraging lawmakers to make regulations that require manufacturers to use accurate labeling of THC content allows consumers to make informed decisions when considering the best product and dose for their needs.

Developing a Universal Symbol For Cannabis Labels

Although the cannabis leaf itself is arguably a universal symbol in its own right, the members of DFCR put detailed and strategic consideration into the development of the International Intoxicating Cannabis Product Symbol. (IICPS) As simple as it appears, a great deal of effort went into its design, including:

  • The use of a cannabis leaf with dimensions that allow it to be easily identified as such, even when sized down for product labeling.
  • Text is not included within the triangle. This is to prevent confusion across various languages and help future-proof the label.
  • Meets the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) criteria.
IICPS Universal Cannabis Design
The International Intoxicating Cannabis Product Symbol (IICPS) was developed to help manufacturers unify cannabis labeling. Adapting a universal design across states, products, and labels helps ensure customers know when a product contains cannabinoids that may have intoxicating effects.

You may notice when observing many other cannabis labeling symbols, that the print gets very difficult to read depending on the size of the label. Many symbols not developed by DFCR don’t make sense for use on a warning label (such as a traffic stop sign, for example). Additionally, the use of the color red is counter-productive socially, as it generally represents support for cannabis prohibition.

The DFCR’s universal symbol for a product containing cannabinoids (mainly, THC) is both scalable and free for manufacturers to use in any state. The cannabis label is also very easy to identify, which promotes universal safety standards across varying languages and age groups. With varying rules and legislature across state lines, having a universal caution label just makes sense and keeps the design convenient for all types of cannabis operations.

Keeping Cannabis Manufacturers “Rolling.”

It is essential to protect consumer’s health and safety to help reinforce forward-thinking legislation. By implementing standards for quality control, dosing, and labeling – we can continue to break down walls. Doctors For Cannabis Regulation’s universal cannabis label is a great step forward in standardizing cannabis products, and their efforts continue to be instrumental in creating a regulatory, scientific, and fact-based framework to help cannabis operations succeed.

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