The biggest debate during Tuesday’s pot extravaganza at the Nevada Legislature revolved around brownies and gummy bears.
Sen. Patricia Farley, I-Las Vegas, introduced Senate Bill 344, one of four marijuana bills heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Under SB344, marijuana edibles could not look like an image of a cartoon character, balloon, fruit, mascot or toy and could not be packaged or labeled “in a manner which is modeled after a brand of products primarily consumed by or marketed to children.”
It also calls for sealing pot brownies and cookies in opaque packaging.
The goal, Farley said, is to make the products less attractive to children so as to mitigate the chances they go for their parents’ marijuana brownie or gummy.
Several medical marijuana patient advocates were critical of the bill. They said the added packaging and labeling restrictions would be too onerous on businesses. And some said the safety of the kids should be the parent’s responsibility.
Those comments didn’t sit well with Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson.
“Some of these statements being made today are disgusting,” he said. “This is about greed over child safety. You’re not helping your case with a lot of members in this body.”
Farley said she expected several from the marijuana industry to oppose the packaging standards, but several testified in favor of the bill.
“I agree that we should ensure that our children are protected,” said Larry Smith, owner of G5 Cultivation in Las Vegas.
Many of the proposed regulations in Farley’s bill are now in practice, said Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association, which represents 90 percent of the dispensaries in Southern Nevada.
“They don’t want to see marijuana marketed to children in any way, sense or form,” Durrett said.
Most dispensaries have stopped selling edibles that resemble mascots, fruits, animals or cartoon characters, she added.
“I personally called all members to make sure they didn’t have gummy bears on their shelves,” Durrett said.
The bill also drew support from police agencies, local governments and other marijuana industry representatives.
No action was taken on the bill.
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It was pot, pot and more pot Tuesday at the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Here is a rundown of the three other marijuana bills heard:
The bill covers a wide range of topics. It would:
- Permit for more marijuana dispensaries
- Allow revenue from marijuana sales to go towards preventing marijuana abuse
- Allow Nevada universities to conduct marijuana research
- Limit local governments from imposing higher taxes or additional restrictions on marijuana companies
The limits on local governments’ power drew opposition from the municipal agencies. They said it would strip them of their authority to decide if they want marijuana in their communities or not.
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, one of the bill’s sponsors, said that was never the goal of the bill and would be willing to work on that language.
“It’s always been our intent for local governments to have the right to say no,” he said.
The bill could let some business use marijuana products without fear of being disciplined by licensing boards, effectively allowing for things like marijuana-infused massages and other types of services.
Businesses and agencies opposed a clause in the bill that would prevent companies from firing or disciplining an employee who spoke in favor of marijuana.
Only the first portion of the bill was heard Tuesday. That section calls for Nevada’s medical marijuana program to be moved from the Division of Public and Behavioral Health to the Department of Taxation. putting both marijuana industries under the same umbrella.
Segerblom said would make taxing and regulating simpler, and marijuana industry representatives supported the bill. But anti-marijuana advocates said moving medical marijuana out from under the health division would undermine the talks of cannabis being used as medicine.