University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Marijuana Should Be Packaged, Regulated Following Tobacco Control Best Practices

UCSF Study Finds Current Cannabis Regulations Inadequate to Protect Public Health

By Elizabeth Fernandez | UCSF.edu | February 13, 2018

Marijuana Should Be Packaged, Regulated Following Tobacco Control Best Practices

California already has the nation’s largest medical marijuana market, and this year is expected to have the world’s largest recreational market. With enormous potential to influence policy, the state should take an assertive approach to cannabis labeling, packaging and product formulation, according to a new UC San Francisco study.

The analysis found that requiring plain packaging and large warning labels, reducing visual appeal to minors, and putting strict limits on the potency of cannabis products would better protect public health over business interests. 

The researc h, which draws upon the best practices of tobacco control, serves as a roadmap to improve new marijuana regulations in California.

The paper is published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs

The findings are important, the authors said, because California policy could set the tone for regulating the nascent cannabis industry nationwide, and help prevent the type of harm seen due to widespread tobacco use before public health policies were enacted to counter that industry.

“There’s an opportunity to do cannabis policy well, to apply lessons from regulating other products,” said first author Daniel G. Orenstein, JD, MPH, a UCSF post-doctoral fellow at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF.

“If effective control methods had been in place in the early era of mass tobacco commercialization, immense harm could have been prevented,” Orenstein said. “By applying lessons from tobacco control best practices now, in the early period of cannabis commercialization, we may avoid repeating that unfortunate history.” 

In November 2017, the California Department of Public Health – which oversees cannabis manufacturing, packaging and labeling – issued initial medical and adult use regulations.

The new UCSF analysis assessed those regulations using evidence-based best practices from tobacco control. It focused on manufactured cannabis, which includes concentrates, extracts, edibles, tinctures, topicals, and other products.
 

Read more at UCSF.edu