Feds want warning labels on Cannabis Products

The National Transportation Safety Board recently released a report in which they advocated for states to require warning labels on marijuana products that caution drivers of the potential risks of driving while impaired. They highlighted the fact that cannabis-related impairment is becoming increasingly prevalent, yet due to the federal prohibition of cannabis, the government is unable to set a national labeling requirement.

The agency noted that although many states require warning labels on regulated cannabis products, there is no uniform regulation among the states that have legalized cannabis. Specifically, several of these states do not mandate warnings regarding the risks of driving while under the influence of cannabis.

The NTSB report further recommended that all states with legalized cannabis should require warning labels on regulated cannabis products, even though it is uncertain if this would affect driver behavior or improve safety on the roads.

The report states that an NTSB looked at the laws in all 50 states for analysis, and the District of Columbia and revealed 23 jurisdictions where cannabis sales are legal but lack any safety label requirements. These include 12 jurisdictions with no driving-related label requirements, 4 with label requirements for certain cannabis products only, and 7 whose labeling does not explicitly caution against driving after using cannabis.

The NTSB has determined that the implementation of driving-related warnings on marijuana and hemp-derived products, like the labels found on alcoholic beverages and over-the-counter drugs, would raise awareness of the hazards of driving while under the influence of cannabis. As a result, they recommend that the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 21 states where cannabis use is legal but no warning labels are present or are insufficient require a warning label advising users not to drive after consuming cannabis due to its impairing effects.

Dispute that the report is flawed.

Andrea A. Golan, an attorney with the firm Vicente Sederberg and a part of their Regulatory Compliance Department, disagrees with some of the report’s outcomes. In an email to Cannabis Now, she expressed that some of the information stated in the report is incorrect.

Golan commented that the report appears to be lacking in knowledge of state cannabis laws. She went on to say that Footnote 92 inaccurately lists seven states including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as having no driving-related label requirements and not explicitly warning against driving after cannabis use.

Golan acknowledged that driving while under the influence of cannabis carries risks, but she questioned if changing labeling regulations is the most effective solution. Instead, she proposed educating consumers on the effects of consumption, such as when it kicks in and how long it lasts, as well as its impairing effects. She suggested adding safety advisory language to this end.

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