• Journal Article

Consumer use and understanding of labeling information on edible marijuana products sold for recreational use in the states of Colorado and Washington

Citation

Kosa, K., Giombi, K., Rains, C. B., & Cates, S. (2017). Consumer use and understanding of labeling information on edible marijuana products sold for recreational use in the states of Colorado and Washington. International Journal of Drug Policy, 43, 57-66. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.01.006

Abstract

Background: In 2014, the states of Colorado and Washington began allowing retail sales of marijuana for
recreational use. The regulatory agencies in these states have implemented specific labeling
requirements for edible marijuana products sold for recreational use to help address concerns such
as delayed activation time, accidental ingestion, and proper dosing.
Methods: We conducted 12 focus groups with 94 adult consumers and nonconsumers of edibles in Denver
and Seattle to collect information on their use and understanding of labeling information on edible
marijuana products sold for recreational use. Specifically, we asked participants about the usefulness,
attractiveness, ease of comprehension, relevancy, and acceptability of the label information.
Results: Some focus group participants look for and read specific information, such as the potency profile
and serving size statement, but do not read or were unfamiliar with 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 so consumers may not read
the label, 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.
Conclusion: The focus group findings suggest that improvements are needed in the labeling of edibles to
prevent unintentional ingestion among adult nonusers and help ensure proper dosing and safe
consumption among adult users. These findings, along with lessons learned from Colorado and
Washington, can help inform the labeling of edibles as additional states allow the sale of edibles for
recreational use.