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Pharmaceutically Speaking...

Letter to the Editor: A Packaging Prescription for Medical Marijuana

PHARMACEUTICAL AND MEDICAL PACKAGING NEWS                                           Published: December 23rd, 2013  

Industry News

A number of critical factors for package design effectiveness are being overlooked as medical marijuana is being commercially introduced. Considerations must balance the inherent needs and behaviors of ill patients and recreational consumers along with the persistent, relentless, and focused determination and curiosity of children, who innocently mimic adult behavior. 

Instead, obligation, guilt, and liability appear to be the driving factors for child-resistant packaging rather than a sincere concern about the hazards of accidental ingestions.

When ingested, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) immediately enters the bloodstream and acts upon specific molecular targets on brain cells. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors is found in parts of the brain that can influence time perception and coordinated movement, such as that required to re-secure a bottle, or even remember to do so.

To alleviate safety concerns of the public regarding the sale of legalized marijuana, recent legislation in Washington and Colorado requires that marijuana sold in dispensaries be packaged in child-safe containers. Most of the current attention to child-resistant packaging came from realization that the Poison Protection Packaging Act of 1970 was originally enacted after accidental child ingestions of aspirin. Fifty years ago, 400 children died yearly from unintentional poisonings owing to the absence of special packaging. Today that number has been reduced to about 40 child deaths each year from unintentional poisonings.

The list of hazardous substances in need of special packaging has grown to include a number of controlled substances and all prescription drugs unless granted exemption. THC is a hazardous substance that is being approved by states as a medical substance available through prescription at retail outlets without FDA approval. The State of Colorado has passed legislation legalizing medical marijuana with a vague reference that marijuana must leave a dispensary in a child-resistant container. The Consumer Product Safety Commission definition per the Code of Federal Regulations 16 Part 1700.3(2) states: “That the special packaging to be required is technically feasible, practicable, and appropriate for such substance.” more...